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ADONAI On February - 21 - 2011

Soon after, I returned home to my family, with a determination to bring them as soon as possible to live in Kentucky, which I esteemed a second paradise, at the risk of my life and fortune.
Daniel Boone

I was born on April 30, 1980 at a small hospital in Pikeville, Kentucky. Raised on the side of a mountain in  a “holler” in Belcher, Kentucky. Surrounded by the beauty of Appalachia. It was a small community, to say the least. Many people say they came from a, “one stoplight town”.  I came from a “no stoplight” town. A small strip of U.S. highway that doesn’t come from, or lead to, anything of particular importance. Except my home.
‘Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here’
Eastern Kentucky is a beautiful place. As rural as a place can possibly be. Yes, there are people who still get water from a well and people who only eat what they can grow or kill. As I mentioned earlier, I did indeed grow up on the side of a mountain. Most of my childhood was spent in those mountains. Being able to ascend a mountain anytime you feel and look down on everything really tends to keep you in perspective.
When I wasn’t traversing a mountain path with my brother, I could also be found on a river bank trying my damnedest to catch a fish. It was usually a failed endeavor but it was peaceful and I got to spend time with my grandpa.

About 5 minutes from my home was the Breaks Interstate Park. A large state park stretching through Kentucky and Virginia. Love this place. So beautiful. Especially during the Spring. Numerous trails to explore, seasonal festivals, and the number one whitewater rafter destination east of the Mississippi.

Kinda looks like a postcard, doesn't it?

You should see it in person. Seriously. Let's go.

Since 1999, I have made my home in Lexington, Ky. Central Kentucky is an almost entirely different world from Eastern Kentucky. Mountains and foothills are replaced by fields and farms. The heart of horse country. The city of Lexington dominates Central Kentucky, an urban sprawl stretching the length of Fayette County, surrounded by miles of farmland on every side. It is also home to Kentucky’s most beloved treasure: the University of Kentucky Wildcats basketball team.

Historic Rupp Arena. Home of the Kentucky Wildcats

For 5 months of the year, 23,000 plus die hard basketball fans fill Rupp Arena for every home game. It is impossible to speak about the state of Kentucky without emphasizing just how important basketball is to this state. We could suffer losing the horse racing industry. There would be no consoling this state where we to lose our basketball team.

Yes. We do have a tall building. Suck it, Ohio.

Though losing the horses would be sad. A close knit community, horse breeders in Kentucky take their job very seriously. They love their animals and their industry. When a horse goes down on a track, no one takes it harder than the people who raised that horse from a colt to the proud animal it is today.

Not Black Beauty

Speaking of horse racing, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Churchill Downs. Home of the Kentucky Derby. A fantastic destination for every horse fan or anyone looking for a great Party. The only drawback is that you have to enter Louisville(that’s right. even in my pro-Kentucky piece I’m giving you shit, Louisville!).

AND DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME!


This is where you go in at. Bring money.

Western Kentucky, besides showcasing the greatest race in sports, is also just as different from Central Kentucky as Central was from Eastern Kentucky. Western Kentucky is home to large stretches of marshland. Swamps.

I reckon you could throw a body in there and they'd never find it. Mm-hmm.

Another peculiarity about Western Kentucky is the fact that it isn’t all in Kentucky. “Kentucky Bend” is the name of a small piece of land separated from Kentucky by the Mississippi River. Legally Kentucky, but not contiguous to the rest of the state. Population: 18.

This is what I get from my state that I love so much. The diversity. Kentucky is an odd state, but in a good way. Are we Southern? Mid-Western? Both? We have a blend of the people and cultures of both regions. A strong military history. A Kentucky battalion has been involved in major combat in every war since after the Revolution. Many, many Kentucky sons and daughters have given their lives for this land. And I cannot be more proud of that fact.

Braver Men Than I

Hope you enjoyed my take on my home. I love my state. I’m still a young man and many travels and adventures still await me. I can’t guarantee that Kentucky is where I’ll be 5 years from now, 10 years from now. I have made sure, however, that no matter where I go and no matter where I end up, when my time on this Earth is through I will be buried in Kentucky soil with the rest of my kin. God bless the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Written by ADONAI

For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.

49 Responses so far.

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  1. Gransview says:

    Adonai, Loved your tribute to your Kentucky roots! My Mother was born in Bear Wallow, Ky, and Lexington, Berea, Richmond and Boonesboro have always been reunion destinations!

    I was wondering if you had done any genealogy research? It would be fun to compare ancestor stories.

  2. teamplayer says:

    I visited the beautiful state of Kentucky for the first time this past summer to attend a family reunion in Flatwoods.
    This reunion was the culmination of my journey to find my biological father, or, more accurately, to find information on him.
    My mother and father met at Oaklawn Race Track in Hot Springs, Arkansas. My father was a jockey and later a trainer.
    Their marriage did not last long.
    My mother told me very little about my father. I only saw one picture of him; a tiny black and white with him astride a thorougbred. I could barely make out his features.
    We re-located from Arkansas to California. My mother re-married when I was seven. When I was nine, my mother received a phone call from a friend who had heard on the radio that my father had been thrown from a horse and killed in a race in Florida.
    She was very distraught and I didn’t know how to feel, really, because I didn’t know the man.
    To make a very long story short, I tried over the years to get more information on my father and his family. I knew he was born in Lexington, KY. I knew my grandparent’s names.
    I had gone on ancestry.com seeking information and always hit a wall.
    Well, two years ago, I once again went on ancestry.com, but this time I hit paydirt.
    There was a newly posted family tree that I hit on and when I looked at it, I realised it had to have been posted by a very close relative.
    I sent an email to the poster and to my utter surprise, I got an answer about fifteen minutes later. The poster turned out to be my first cousin. His father and my father were brothers. It turns out I had two half-brothers. One was killed in a motorcycle accident, the other lives in Sacramento, about five miles from my oldest daughter.
    The next day my cousin started emailing me pictures. For the first time, I saw a full picture of my father, and pictures of my grandparents. I also was told exactly what happened when my father died. It turned out his stirrup had been sliced and foul play suspected but couldn’t be proven. He was thrown and then dragged by the horse and suffered massive internal injuries.
    Three weeks later, my newly found cousin and brother met me in Sacramento. What a surreal experience.
    Then this past summer, I travelled to Kentucky and met a whole lot of relatives I never knew I had. They were really great and welcomed me into the fold. I did visit Churchill Downs. It had special meaning for me because my father raced there. I drove from Louisville to Flatwoods and I have to say that was some of the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen. Even the rest stops were nice.
    One of my ancestors is Jilson Setters( this was his stage name. His real name was Bill Day. ) “The Blind Fiddler of Lost Hope Hollow.” He played for years at the American Folk Song Festival held in Ashland. His recordings are in the Library of Congress.

  3. Plutocrats really suck says:

    The scariest mountain road I have been on thus far though was in the Alps on the French side. The Alps is a very young mountain range as far as mountains go and very jagged. One rocky road just barely bigger than the car, of which I was the passenger, no guard rail, and about 3 feet to spare before you fall off into oblivion. I have no idea how high up we were but to look over the edge it looked like a million miles at least, and it was very hard to breath if you smoke. 😯

    I think my palm print is permanently etched into the door handle in that car, I was gripping it so tightly on the way up.

    • ADONAI says:

      More than a few times in our youth me and my friends came barreling down those mountain roads a bit inebriated.

      Looking back, I have no idea how we are still alive. Just use to the roads I guess.

  4. ChrisR266 says:

    Hi Adonai:
    You do your great state quite proud with that loving tribute.
    The OH-IO river doesn’t divide us, it unites us, indeed.
    But I should point out… uh, I only counted three buildings that would really qualify as “tall.” 😉

  5. The Dood says:

    Nice post!
    I have a lot of nice memories of times spent in Kentucky. Hiking in the Smokies is sublime (as long as you avoid Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge!!), though you don’t see the bears like you used to. A buddy of mine married and moved to Louisville (Goshen actually, and no, you can keep Louisville…I think we should give you Jeffersonville…you know, kinda like bookends along the river!). We’ve done a bit of hiking and climbing in the Red River Gorge and it’s really beautiful there also!
    Thanks for stirring up some fantastic memories…might find myself camping down that way soon I think!

  6. Redemption Song II says:

    Very nice, Adonai.

  7. Plutocrats really suck says:

    You actually make Kentucky sound like a real state. 😯 I kid, I kid, I live in FL so I have no room to talk, my state is a fucking circus. 😳 I did live in VA at one point and one thing I miss is the changing of the leaves in the fall. Beautiful hues of gold and red, there there are just so many evergreens here, it’s just not the same at all.

    Thanks for the perspective.

    • jkkFL says:

      Pluto- FL has it’s own kind of awesome, but to see it you have to fight off mosquitoes the size of hummingbirds, and have an alligator spotter on point!!

    • ADONAI says:

      Spring is still my favorite season back home but just for pure aesthetic beauty, fall in the mountains is hard to beat.

      • Plutocrats really suck says:

        ADONAI, I have a friend who moved to W. VA and I drove up in the mountains once to see him. It was in the middle of the night and the winding roads were very scary. It was dark, and I mean dark, I must have almost hit at least 3 deer, I just barely missed them. Plus I was driving a piece of crap car at the time and I thought it was going to die and roll backwards to my doom. You’re probably thinking “Ha! That’s nothing”, but it scared the hell out of me.

        When I got there his backyard was almost on a 45 degree angle. He literally lived on the side of a mountain. He said he got the land cheap, but it has to be a mother to mow. 😆

        • ADONAI says:

          PLUTO, I have been on some pretty gnarly roads. The old coal roads going along the sides of the mountain are the worst. Only a road in so much as a car can travel on it proficiently. But only one. God help you if somehow someone coming from the opposite direction wanted to avoid the police too :)

          Hated weedeating my uncle’s hill. Well, most every place eventually required you to climb a slope to finish everything.

          • KB723 says:

            Pluto and ADONAI. You wanna talk about SCARY. If you ever have a chance. Take “The Shelf Road” from Canyon City Colorado, up to Cripple Creek Colorado. I came down that once in my Camaro at night and you talk about SCARY.

  8. jdmn17 says:

    ADONAI

    In a world of small worlds there are these things called ancestors.

    My grandmother’s maiden name was Belcher. I believe she is from the family that is your birthtown’s namesake. I would need to do some checking but when my older sister did some genealogy back a long time ago she found out some interesting things.

    Of note, she was trying to trace “our” family back to the revolution so she could join the DAR -- did I mention she’s an ultra neo-con?

    Dad was out, he’s French Canadian to the max so her hopes hung on the Belchers, a “landed” aristocracy from England. Sad to say it turns out the Belchers of VA happened to take the wrong side of the revolution. They weren’t killed, forced to flee to Canada or back to jolly old England. Instead their VA estates were confiscated, spoils of war, and they were driven into the hostile interior of Kentucky. I did not know if they founded the town or not but it seems odd there is that name when the Belchers went through. Some stayed, the rest moved to southern IN, mining country, where my grandmother was born in 1891 or 1892.

    So my sister was crushed because she was “banned” from DAR by her “bad blood” and I had a good laugh and took my first steps into anarchy.

    Great shot of the Belcher plantation. I might just “borrow” it and send it down to my sister who now lives in FL. HAHA

    • ADONAI says:

      It sounds like we very well could share lineage. I knew a few other Belchers back home and ,sure enough, we had a common ancestor about 100 years back.

      • jdmn17 says:

        BDM just mentioned the old plantation house and I asked my mom and she’s going to dredge up some old stories from the attic and see what she can recall, but she does recall there being an old mansion someone manged to keep after the CW. My grandmother, Mabel Francis had Meryl and Lillian as sisters, they settled in Washington Indiana.

        • ADONAI says:

          The only place back home that could be considered a mansion is the mayor’s house in Elkhorn City. But there are plenty of places in Belcher where one could have been. I bet it was where the grocery store is!

  9. ADONAI says:

    The whole place where I grew up use to be called “Belcher Plantation”. Owned by 2 families I believe.

    [img][/img]

    The other side of this barn has an old sign that says “Belcher Plantation”.

    • jkkFL says:

      Adonai, I grew up in Indiana and have made a few trips thru Kentucky, (usually on my way to somewhere else.)
      I do remember the horse farms in Lexington, they were the most beautiful farms I’ve ever seen. White fences surrounding fields of grass worthy of a golf course; horses so beautiful and powerful they took your breath away- even when they were standing still! Foals running about kicking up their heels,with all the promise of their magnificent sires.
      I was enchanted by the sheer beauty and care evidenced at each farm- with the Stable/breeders- and winners, names elegantly displayed on impressive signs.
      Farms in Indiana were corn and beans, and wheat surrounded by wire fences! Not much to look at. But home nontheless.
      Somewhere in the family archives, are the pictures I took of Lexington- sure wish I knew where they were!

    • PocketWatch says:

      ADONAI -- I’m not sayin’ a word…

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    • BigDogMom says:

      My mother called those mountains “God’s Country”, they are just beautiful…

  10. Buddy McCue says:

    It’s a very thorough answer to the question, “Where ya from?”

    Thanks for sharing this with us. I was born in Chattanooga myself.

    • BigDogMom says:

      Buddy-My hillbilly family would say “Where y’all frum” or “Y’all not frum har are ya”!

      I have several cousins that I still can’t figure out what the heck they are saying…

  11. Haruko Haruhara says:

    It looks really pretty.

    Do the politics there drive you crazy?

    We live in absolutely gorgeous part of the world, but the State Legislature here drives me absolutely bonkers. They make me check the mailbox every day to see if my Canadian passport has arrived yet.

    • ADONAI says:

      The state government here kills me. Their just like our people in Congress. Everything outside of Lexington and Louisville is unimportant. If we do achieve something, that’s great. If not, who cares?

      When I was a kid, it was like a culture shock to take a trip to Lexington. I didn’t know a lot about New York City but I figured this had to be a lot like it! Lexington must be one of the greatest cities on Earth!

      But no, it’s just really shitty where I come from. Because we’re unimportant. But I love it. We’ll figure it out one day. Then Pike County will be just as rich as Fayette County. Because they deserve it.

  12. chasethis says:

    Great piece, Adonai! Beautiful photographs that remind me of our trips “home” to WVA every summer. The drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway was one of my favorite legs of the journey. If I have my history correct, there’s a Clay County Kentucky where my wayward, not so law-abiding members of my family fled to (probably more like ran barefoot to) from the original Clay County, WVA. Thanks for saying “holler,” the correct pronunciation of “hollow.”

    And, finally, this: I have shoes older than you. :roll:

    • ADONAI says:

      I have shoes older than me too!

    • BigDogMom says:

      Hey Chase, is the “Sky Line Drive”, it runs through the mountains of lower S. Western Virginia to the Cumberland Gap, the same as the Blue Ridge Parkway? Absolutely no guardrails when we used to drive down to see my mother’s family…

      (So glad others here know about the correct pronunciation of “holler”!)

      • PocketWatch says:

        BDM -- When I moved from NYC to Texas, I resolved to drive the entire Sky Line Drive, which starts in Virginia and ends up in Georgia, or damned near.

        I had to detour around some of it because the tops of the mountains in NC were still snowed in (it was March, as I recall).

        A GREAT drive!

      • chasethis says:

        BDM, I remember the long long long running beautiful fences around the horse farms. (Horse farms?)

        • BigDogMom says:

          Wise, where my mother’s family lives is at the southern most tip of VA, and all mountains and hollers…northern VA has the horse farms, which rival some of the farms in KY.

          (Miss Belcher, my grandmother grew up in a big old mansion with slave quarters in the way back, my great grandfather was the County Sheriff and the largest Bootlegger around…I think the still is still operational…made a ton of money in prohibition!)

          • jdmn17 says:

            BDM

            We are going to be related. I have dragged out the family history -- my 87 year old mother. Stay tuned. The mansion was the key, my mother remembers hearing about there being a mansion back in VA some of the family members saved from the northerners.

          • jkkFL says:

            BDM- keep your eye on the family still, the way this country is going that hooch will be worth a pretty penny again! :)

      • chasethis says:

        BDM, I’m not sure. In those days, Dad drove straight through from Tulsa to Clay County with five kids stuffed in the back seat trying not to touch each other. (No motels!) I missed a lot of things in the dark. I’ll defer to Adonai for clarification, but south from West Virginia to the Cumberland Gap sounds familiar.

  13. BigDogMom says:

    My mother was born in Kentucky, her maiden name was “Belcher”, she was raised in Wise, VA…on the highest mountain in VA. So I know about “hollers”…

    Nice story, good lord your just a baby, 1980! :smile:

    • jdmn17 says:

      Cue the soundtrack from Twilight zone

      My grandmother was a Belcher (Mabel Francis -- see b/d above in my other post), so do we have blood cursing through yours, mine and ADONAI that comes from some Belcher seed way back? I suspect the answer is YES given your proximity to VA and what I know of the Belcher aristocratic lineage back to England.

      That would be fun, but then again there are some dark things in the Belcher name once it hit Indiana……

    • ADONAI says:

      I am also a Belcher. We could be related somewhere down the line! If so, where’s my birthday money?

      And yes, if not for Caru I would feel like the youngster. :)

      • BigDogMom says:

        @Adonai-The Check is in the mail..how far are you from the VA border? Because if you go down the mountain in Wise, in about 10 min. your in KY in the East and 15 min. going south your in TN, southeast SC…

        Do you guys still have the old Coke ovens in the sides of the mountains?

        • jdmn17 says:

          The Belchers from my family went up to IN from KY and settled near Linton IN. Father Belcher apparently tried to sell my grandmother the the gypsies and then he ran off with another woman and settled somewhere down south, rumor has it he was quite well off from oil or gas?

        • ADONAI says:

          BDM -I grew up 10 minutes from the VA border. I’ve been through Wise a few times. I went to school in Big Rock, VA. just across the border. My grandma taught there.

          And I’m sure there are a few ovens still operational but all the industry back home had all but gone by the time I was born. The remnants are all that’s left.


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