Cas Walker dug his way out of a sinkhole

Jadon Gibson

Cas Walker was notorious for his business successes, being mayor of Knoxville and for helping talented youngsters like Dolly Parton in getting a good start in entertainment. He said it was only through God’s grace that he was able to survive long enough to do any of this.

It was tough growing up in the Smoky Mountain area in the early 1900’s… an era with a lot of mayhem and little law enforcement. Walker’s Dad shot George Lane in the leg requiring it to be amputated. Lane’s grandson, Cas Lane, decided he would take it out on young Cas Walker and kill him.

Although only fourteen or fifteen years old, young Cas decided it would be best if he moved from home. His brother worked across the state-line in Smoke Mont, North Carolina, so he decided to see if he could get a job at the sawmill there too.

“My brother worked at the sawmill and made a dollar and fifty cents per day and got to stay in a shack at the mill,” Cas explained. “They were hiring two more at that rate so I said I could do both jobs for three dollars a day and told them I would do a good job for them. They said they’d try me out doing both jobs for $2.75 a day. I tried it but learned after awhile it was too hard for just a youngster like me.

When Cas walked the five or six miles back home the grandson of the man who lost his leg in the earlier shooting began laying plans to kill him. Walker was asleep when his nemesis showed up at the house saying Cas’s sister Lydia wanted to see her brother and had sent him to fetch young Cas Walker. Cas didn’t want to go because he was afraid of him but his mother suggested that he should in that he hadn’t seen his sister on his last three visits back home. His mother didn’t fully understand the rift between the two.

“I got up and we started out even though I didn’t trust him,” Cas recalled. “He was carrying a piece of hickory he said was a walking stick. He was behind me and I was afraid of him and suggested that he walk in front. He hit me on the head, knocking me unconscious and I rolled into a ditch. When I started waking up he went to hitting me again. Time after time he hit me and knocked me out again. He thought I was dead and drug me across a field and through me down into a sinkhole.

“It had to be the Lord that let me start breathing again at about four o’clock in the morning. He had left. I started pushing off big rocks he had pushed down on me. I couldn’t have moved those rocks if it hadn’t been for the Lord. I started scratching my way up out of that hole. I couldn’t have walked out even if I could. It was so steep I had to crawl… pulling my way up with my fingers and digging into the soft earth with my toes. Once I got out of the sinkhole I was hurt so bad I had to crawl across the field to the road made from river rock.

“I still couldn’t stand up. I started thinking strongly about the Lord because I knew I might die. I began crawling toward home although I didn’t think I could possibly get that far. I prayed all the way until I saw the house. They had already been to bed and gotten up at 6 o’clock, worrying about me. My mother and brother came to me where I was still crawling on the ground. They couldn’t believe how bad I was hurt.

“Cas Lane thinks he’s killed me. The Lord saved me. You and Hobart carry me to bed and I think the Lord will see to it that I’ll be alright.”

Later that afternoon, after much sleep and rest, Cas Walker walked into the living room.

“As soon as you’re well enough Cas, I’m gonna send you over to Kentucky before those Lane boys kill you,” his Dad said. “I saw where they dug a fresh grave but I didn’t know that it was for you. I don’t want you in it so I think it best to send you over to Kentucky with Bill Free. You can board with Bud Messer until everything is alright aroun’ here.

Cas said that was straight talk and he agreed that it best that he leave for Kentucky. His Dad said he would let him know when it was safe to come back home.

Cas Walker is pictured with two of his mules later in life.

Editor’s note: Once in Kentucky,  Cas Walker continues his penchant for working and self-improvement in Jadon’s next posting at Gibson is a widely read Appalachian writer from Harrogate, TN. His writings are both historical and nostalgic in nature and can be read periodically at Don’t miss a single segment!

A Voice for god – A voice for good

My good Lord in Heaven has been so good to me. I recall the Christmas season in the mid 1940’s… crouching along the darkened dirt road in front of our house on Sanctified Hill in Cumberland, Kentucky. I sang Silent Night, Holy Night into the night-time sky for God and all to hear. Oh Little Town of Bethlehem was another of my favorite Christmas carols that I would sing.

Mom told and read to us about Jesus since I was old enough to listen. Mom and Dad also took us to the Nazarene church near the bottom of our hill. As we got a little older we walked to Sunday School on nice days. When we moved to Wheelwright, Kentucky in 1948 we quickly found a church there. We learned about right and wrong. It came natural to us. The early introduction to Jesus and the real Christmas story became part of us.

The Christmas story is not a fairy-tale but a true story based on history. Evidence of many individuals and events in the Bible continue to be found even today.

When youngsters learn more about Jesus he will tug at their heart and they’ll have a desire to follow Him. They’ll be on a road of growth and fulfillment.

When a classmate suggests to your child to go astray, he or she will be more able to determine if it is right and proper. Some parents feel their kids will grow up and learn what they need to know by simply going to school. This is not true! Many develop attitudes and habits that will make it more difficult to achieve their goals. Even worse…they may have no goals at all. If they don’t have an idea of a destination for their life…they may get off on some wrong road and end up where they don’t want to be.

In the University of Kentucky publication, ‘Bargains in Brains’ in 1962 I listed Sales, Management and Representation as my career interests. In the ensuing years my work has constantly included all three.

This Christmas season is a good time to reflect on what person you want to become. A lot depends on attitude. Try to help your children maintain a positive attitude and much of their battle will be won. This principle applies to parents as well.

My good Lord in heaven has been so good to me. Keep Jesus close to your heart and thank Him for his blessings. You’ll find life more pleasant while encouraging your children toward a better future. Dear Lord, help our young people keep their future in mind and help them take the steps to achieve it. Amen!

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