John "Gentle on My Mind" Hartford
By Bob Weaver
Famous musician John Hartford, in his quest of recording the life, times and music of Blind Ed Hayley, came to visit the gravesite of Blind Ed Hayley's musician friend Laury Hicks in the Stinson area.
Blind Ed Hayley frequented the Calhoun backwoods in the early part of the 20th Century.
Hartford's work on the project was taken over by Brandon Ray Kirk after Hartfords death, and continues to develop the "Search for Ed Haley," some of which is published on his web site.
John Hartford and biographer Brandon Ray Kirk at Stinson Cemetery
HARTFORD EXCERPT: VISITING LAURY HICK'S GRAVESITE
Wilson Douglas was quick to offer new details about Ed Haley of a more seedy variety. He said Ed "ran around" a lot with Bernard Postalwait when he was in the area. They usually got drunk and went "women crazy" and stayed gone all night. Hicks apparently had a "wild side," too. Wilson hinted that he was a moonshiner who sometimes left home on timber jobs…and never showed up.
We wasted little time in taking off to see some of Ed's old stomping grounds in Clay and Calhoun Counties. There was a slight drizzle, just enough to wet everything.
Our first stop was the Laury Hicks homeplace, which had been overtaken by weeds on my previous visit in 1994. The weeds were gone this time, so we got out of the car and maneuvered through the rotting remains of an outhouse, chicken coop, cellar base, parts of an old fence, and scattered boards - all damp and colored dark brown due to the light rain dropping down around us.
It was a far cry from the "old days" when (according to Ugee Postalwait) the family had farmed corn, wheat and cane all the way back up the mountain to the head of Hog Run Hollow. Gone were the apple and peach orchards. Gone were the gardens down by the creek (now taken in by the paved road). And, most obviously, gone was the old Hicks home, the last of four houses built on the site (the final one having been constructed in 1936).
We soon made our way up the hill to the cemetery, where Brandon took pictures. I just kind of stared at Laury's grave - picturing Ed playing there after Laury Hick's death in 1937.
CALHOUN'S 'BLOODY BUCKET' WILD AND DEADLY - Famous Fiddler Blind Ed Haley: "Don't Go Up Stinson After Dark"