Stamper Family Project

 1939 Frozen Flood

By the edge of a babbling brook, winding its way through the Hatton Farm and old homestead, a mother and her daughters talk of "The Frozen Flood." Elaine Gillum Temple and Karen Gillum Morgan exercise their imagination to the fullest, in an attempt to visualize the effects of the indescribable event of July 5, 1939. Their mother, Lou B (Hatton) Hunter, has but to strike the chords of memory to reflect upon the devastating occurrence she experienced as a child.

Contrary to what the title implies, the Frozen Flood is not representative of a vast body of 'frozen water'. The word 'Frozen', as referred to in this book, is the name of a valley located in Eastern, (Breathitt County), Kentucky.

My friend, Lou B (Hatton) Hunter of Miamisburg, Ohio has given me permission to copy from her book described above. This is Page 70-A thru 70-C ..... (with mention of a Stamper family)

* * * * * * * * * *

With the growing season too far gone for the farmers to re-seed their gardens and cropland, the future looked bleak for many residents of Breathitt County. Donations from the Red Cross and short-term assistance didn't come close to meeting the needs of the flood-ravished communities.

While robbed of the fruits of their labor, there remained within the hearts of the people an inherent quality that even The Flood was unable to strip from them... that of compassion and concern for each other. In the aftermath of The Flood, this would do much toward overcoming the many struggles that lay ahead. A philosophy prevailed:

"If you cannot lift the load

off another's back, do not walk

away. Try to lighten it."

... and that's precisely what the JAMES RUDD FAMILY did. Alberta (Rudd) Wamsley, of Dayton, Ohio recalls her family's involvement:

"Details and accounts of The Flood traveled far and wide. In just a short while, we received word that the JESSIE STAMPER FAMILY of Hunting Creek was homeless. Floodwaters had overturned their house, destroying all their possessions. Tempoarary lodging was being provided by a caring neighbor, Rousseau Stephenson. The Stampers are our relatives, (Mom's sister, her husband and six children)."

"With no home to return to, my aunt and uncle didn't know where to turn. Papa and Mom immediately extended an invitation for them to come and live with us until they could decide what to do.

"This undertaking couldn't have been easy for my parents. Providing for the needs of one's own family during those 'Depression Years' was a real struggle for all families in the area. But my folks were willing to share what we had. Without hesitation, they opened wide the doors to a family who had suffered a greater loss than we."

"The Stampers remained with us for the rest of the summer... until their house could be rebuilt. The time was put to good use. Fortunately, not all of our garden was destroyed; and fruit ripened in early fall. The men soon began the task of rebuilding a home for the Stamper Family. Mom and my aunt busied themselves with canning and preserving all the food that was available to them. The older children were assigned the responsibility of looking after the younger ones, and helping with various other chores."

"To say the least, our household was alive with activity for the next three months. In spite of the fact that there were twelve children un the same roof, it was not as chaotic as one might think. Aside from crying babies, a few arguments and 'scuffles' between the older kids, there were no major problems. I look back upon this period of time and count it as one of my best childhood experiences."

"In the quiet of the evening, our parents sat on the porch and exchanged conversation about the activiities of their busy day. They, somehow, looked beyond their many concerns; and drew strength from the encouragement and meaningful fellowship they shared. Often included in their conversation, were words of thankfulness for having been spared from The Flood."

"It was the responsibility of the older girls to do the dishes after the evening meal. This job was not one that my older sister, (Juanita) and I were particularly fond of. Believe it or not, however in sharing this chore with our cousins, it actually became a 'fun' time for us. Amidst the clatter of dishes and soapsuds, there were the sounds of merriment and laughter ...... sounds that have echoed down through the years."

"Whatever sacrificing was done that summer, nobody seemed to mind. while there were not enough beds for everybody, the kids enjoyed the 'just fine' sleeping arrangement on the floor. With 'the-more-the-merrier' atmosphere, I can still remember the pranks and playful evenings we spent with our live-in cousins. Muffling the noise from the ears of our tired parents, we girls pulled the covers over our heads; talking and giggling far into the night. Together, our carefree hearts shared the things that filled our childish minds. In the meantime, the boys were having fun of their own. What time they were not telling tall-tales and ghost stories, they were trying to figure out ways to scare 'the daylights' out of their giggling sisters."

"Finally, the new house was ready for occupancy. The Stampers would be going home. We were happy for them, yet, we knew we would miss them."

"In spite of the ordeal, everyone's burdens were made a little lighter, and their hearts a little brighter, .. because of this 'sharing' experience."

"Filled with excitement, everyone said their final goodbyes. Again, my aunt and uncle extended their words of appreciation, then began their long-awaited trip back home. The renewed spirit within the Stamper Family left us with a warm feeling for having reached out in their time of need. It was then that I first realized the true meaning of the expression: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' There is a language that all can understand .... the language of the heart."........

'Those who bring sunshine

to the lives of others cannot

keep it from themselves.'

There are two photos accompanying these few pages. One is the Miles Hollon Family ... Mae, Belle, Miles; Hubert, Marlene and Lucy. Taken approx 1938. The second photo is the James Rudd Family ... Belle, Armina, Alberta, Chalmer, Juanita, Paul, Ollie James, Mattie and James. Taken 1971


If you think you would like to read more about the recollections of the 1939 Frozen Flood recorded by Lou B (Hatton) Hunter; feel free to let me know. I can put you in touch with her. Her 8 1/2 X 11, 204 page book (with many pictures) is $25.00.

Golden Combs Ferguson ... Golden_Ferguson@msn.com

Update .... Currently, no more books are available. I will check with Lou from time to time. If they become available once again, I will make a note here on this page.

The Stamper Family Project
is the property of Golden Combs Ferguson