I am currently putting the finishing touches on a new book that I will self-publish, hopefully within a few weeks. (I just wish that my writing style was a bit better stylistically.)

The purpose of the book is to encourage the reader in a time when life is hard for just about everyone. Each of the personal stories (or simply recounting of events) that Kim and I have experienced are written to show the reader the benefits of focusing on the silver lining rather than the storm clouds of life. Life can get tough, sometimes even traumatic. But to maintain our sanity, we need to focus on the good stuff that God is doing amid the bad things we are experiencing.

I wanted to start the first couple of chapters with some powerful stories before getting into some of Kim’s and my own experiences. They are intended to illustrate for the reader that we live in a broken world. Yet, in that brokenness, God is committed to working all things for His glory and the ultimate good of those who love Him.

Here is the story that starts the first chapter:

Dewey was an abuser. He often used his brute strength to inflict enormous pain on his children, frequently knocking them to the floor. It didn’t take much to get him angry. And hurting his children never seemed to bother him.

Dewey’s wife, Ivory, was also a recipient of the abuse. On the morning of June 28, 1965, at their home in Paris, Kentucky, the fighting started again. Dewey had a knife to his wife’s throat, and he had forcibly maneuvered her into a position where she was leaning back over the kitchen sink.

One of their sons, Edsell, was sick of the abuse. He wasn’t a kid anymore. He was a 28-year-old man who had seen and heard and experienced enough. He stepped into the kitchen to defend his mom.

You need to know that men who abuse their wives typically do so because they feel like they have the upper hand. They are stronger, louder, and grow accustomed to how they can harm the woman they once loved and yet not experience any significant consequences for their actions.

But when an opposing force steps into this unjust but predictable routine, one of two things will happen. Either the abuser will back down, or he will go on the attack against the new threat.

Anyone who knew Dewey could have expected which choice he would make. When Edsell stepped into the kitchen to confront his dad, Dewey had a new enemy. As far as he was concerned, his son had no right to step into this matter, and his blood was boiling.

Edsell quickly realized that his presence had only made matters worse. So, he chose to leave. He stormed out the back door, stepped off the porch, and made his way toward the garden.

In the meanwhile, his dad, in a fit of rage, reached for his .22-caliber rifle. He, too, stepped out the back door, but he wasn’t going to follow his son. He had other plans. As he stood on that porch, with his wife and another son watching in horror, he lifted his rifle, took aim at Edsell, and pulled the trigger.

In a matter of moments, 26-year-old Eugene jumped from the porch. He ran to his brother, who had collapsed in the garden. Eugene dropped to the dirt and held his dying brother in his arms as the life-giving blood escaped the bullet hole in Edsell’s back. As Eugene was being soaked in blood, he watched helplessly as his brother inhaled for his last time.

The Louisville Courier-Journal ran an article the next day. It was titled “Man Accused in Son’s Death.” It said that Dewey “was charged with murder” and referenced the “family argument” that preceded the death. It also informed the reader that Dewey was being “held in the Bourbon County Jail.”

Ivory died a year and three months later at the young age of 60. Those who knew her and knew of the grief she carried because of an abusive husband and a murdered son believe that she died from a broken heart.

Dewey lived another 34 years after killing his son. Family members said that even as he was breathing his last breath at the age of 95, he never expressed regret or remorse for killing Edsell.

This is a powerful story. It breaks our hearts that evil things like this happen.

But for Kim, it is personal. 

Dewey and Ivory were Kim’s grandparents. Eugene was her dad.

(chapter continues…)

Here is the story that starts the second chapter:

In the late hours of Saturday, January 5, 1957, three thugs escaped a crime scene near Lexington, Kentucky. They had just used their Thompson machine gun to fire some rounds at a couple of Fayette County patrolmen, and they weren’t about to go to jail again. They escaped by racing down desolate, snow-covered highways on their way to the foothills of eastern Kentucky.

Four hours later, at 1 AM on Sunday, Frank, Don, and John Paul were spotted in Campton. Most of its citizens were deep in sleep. Many of them anticipated waking up in the morning and attending Sunday church. But these three visitors had arrived in Campton with no regard for its citizens or their desire to live in a quiet, safe, rural community. 

If those three criminals thought Campton would be an easy place to commit a crime and then quickly escape, they had another thing coming. Those felons picked the wrong town. They had finally met their match.

Some of his family said that Sheriff George Little was playing cards with friends in the early hours of Sunday morning when the three robbers broke into the Farmers and Traders Bank. A 22-year-old ex-Army paratrooper named D.B. Stone was the night watchman on duty. The records show that he was on duty but was also sound asleep. 

Around 1 AM, D.B. heard a noise in the bank and went to investigate. He saw one of the intruders and fired a round at him. He then ran out of the bank and called the 45-year-old Sheriff. 

It wasn’t long before Sheriff Little, his 15-year-old son, D.B., and two other Campton residents surrounded the bank. They weren’t going to let someone invade their town and rob their bank without being held responsible for their actions.

One of the robbers ran out of the bank and dodged a bullet. Sheriff Little and D.B. ran after him and rounded a corner. 

One of the thugs was already in the getaway car, and he had the Thompson machine gun. He fired at Sheriff Little, taking out both of his knees. D.B. aimed his revolver at the car and emptied the chamber. He was asking the Sheriff for his weapon when the third robber clubbed D.B. twice in the face with a rifle.

The three thieves raced away in their car. However, the vehicle may have been damaged since the robbers decided to abandon it and hunker down in a Wolfe County school bus for the remaining hours of the night. As the sun began to rise on that snowy Sunday morning, an unsuspecting former school superintendent found them on the bus. He was held at gunpoint as the robbers stole his car. 

As they were driving on snow-covered roads about 5 miles northwest of Campton, another group in town was forming a posse made up of law enforcement and Campton residents. After locating the abandoned vehicle, the posse eventually found all three criminals the next day. 

Don was arrested near a farmhouse where he had stayed the previous night. Frank and John Paul were found outside in a stack of dried corn stalks. After weathering the sub-freezing temperatures all night, they didn’t resist arrest. Frank told the authorities that he had lost all feeling in his feet about 12 hours earlier.

Sheriff George Little was rushed to a Lexington hospital. The St. Petersburg Times printed an Associated Press article on January 7th that was titled, “Sheriff Hurt in Gun Battle with Robbers.” It said that he was in “very, very serious condition.” Unfortunately for his wife, Nannie Bell, and his four sons and two daughters, he would never fully recover from the gunshot wounds. He died eight years later at the young age of 53. One of his daughters, Jo Ann, was 19 years old when she attended her father’s funeral.

The three bank robbers were extradited to Lexington, Kentucky, to stand trial. They were found guilty and sent to Alcatraz. 

After staying in Alcatraz for two and a half years, Frank Morris escaped the island prison with John and Clarence Anglin. Those three men are the only prisoners ever successfully to escape Alcatraz. 

Frank’s partner in the Campton robbery attempt, John Paul Scott, would be the only escapee from Alcatraz that would successfully swim to San Fransisco’s shores. However, he was recaptured almost as soon as he swam ashore.

This story is personal to Kim. 

Sheriff George Little and Nannie Bell were Kim’s grandparents. Jo Ann was Kim’s mom.

(chapter continues…)

Photo by Burst on Unsplash