Home Opinion Mine Creek Revelations: Story About a Mule

Mine Creek Revelations: Story About a Mule


YES, I AM STILL HERE peeking out my window on Main Street and because of the recent observation of Memorial Day and the 80th anniversary of “D-Day,” I have been thinking about military-related stories.

I know we had something about the following news item in the ‘Nashville Leader’ years ago. And before that, it was in the ‘Nashville News.’ I had something to do with both of the stories but I can no longer remember exactly what.

The tale probably first appeared in the ‘Nashville News’ in the once-a-week Early Files column compiled by the late Lucille Westbrook, our county’s historian emeritus.

She probably saw the story while going through old issues of the newspaper looking for juicy bits from days gone by (like Patsy Young does today). Then she would have added it to her column.

I could be wrong.

I hope some of you can help me remember more of this story:

During WWI some government procurement agents were in Nashville looking for mules to be used for hauling big guns and wagons and stuff around battlefields in Europe.

They spotted one guy who had some mules. “Thank you. Your Uncle Sam wants to take your mules for the war effort,” the agent told the distraught owner. I guess the US government could just commandeer animals and other things needed for the war effort in those days. And people gladly gave whatever was needed to our Uncle.

The owner sadly bade farewell to his mules and they were whisked off to war.

The mules were apparently not consulted about this big change in their lives.

After the war was over, the surviving battlefield mules were returned to the US where they were sold at auction.

In this case, by coincidence, at least one of the local mules was brought to the ‘North End’ of Howard County where the new owner intended to put it to work dragging big pine logs out of the rugged hills.

But the mule ran away and remembered the way ‘home’ to Nashville. It showed up at its old homeplace.

The pre-war owner took the mule back to the new owner, but Mr. Mule ran away again in a few days. Headed back to Nashville again.

This time the new owner said “You keep it,” and the old owner and his mule were re-united.

What a charming story if true!!

I’m guessing that life in the log woods wasn’t to the mule’s liking.

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AND ANOTHER military thought. I don’t know how many years veterans have gathered on the courthouse lawn here on Memorial Day to pay tribute to those who died in wars. They gather again in the fall for Veterans Day — at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month which is the day we celebrate the end of WWI.

As far as I know, the county’s last living WWI veteran was a fine gent named Homer Northum. He owned a farm and that iconic house north of town across the road from Lake Nichols. I was a few grades behind his daughter at NHS. You never met a finer man than Mr. Northum.

He was present at the courthouse monument gathering for a number of years. I asked him about WWI. He told me not to make him a war hero in the newspaper. He said that he never got closer to combat than his training which was held on the campus of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. He said he was there when the war ended. But, as I said, he was there, and ready to go to war in defense of his country.

I’ll always remember reading that more Americans perished during WWI from the ‘Spanish Flu’ than from bullets or poisonous gas in Europe, or from submarines at sea. There were ho flu shots, then.

 The anti-vaxxers of today need to be reminded of that.

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ATHLETE CONNECTIONS. Cooper Williams of Fayetteville is the #1 high school decathlon athlete in the whole United States. Says he’s going to join the track and field program at the University of Arkansas where his older brother, Jack, was named the SEC cross country newcomer athlete of the year. A year ago, I think.

The boys are the grandsons of the late Mickey and Nobie Ann Williams of Nashville. Their dad, John Williams, played fullback for the Scrappers and was named MVP at the annual Rotary Club banquet his senior year.

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THINGS I LEARNED from opening email: “For those of you that don’t want Alexa or Siri listening in on your conversation, they’re making a male version … it doesn’t listen to anything.”

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WORD GAMES. The frequent companions: Neither and Nor. No matter what, the answer is “no!” but they go together well.

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HE SAID: “A man should keep his little brain attic stocked with all the furniture that he is likely to use, and the rest he can put away in the lumber-room of his library, where he can get it if he wants it.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, writer and inventor of Sherlock Holmes

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SHE SAID: “I live now on borrowed time, waiting in the anteroom for the summons that will inevitably come. And then — I go on to the next thing, whatever it is. One doesn’t, luckily, have to bother about that.” Dame Agatha Christie, novelist

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