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Of Rainmakers and Pioneers

By Mike Watson

Adair County has been the home of far more inventive folk than people give credit. From the earliest settlement right up to modern times the inquisitive minds of local men and women have conceived of patent-worthy products, from agricultural improvements to ground-breaking medical concepts, procedures and instruments.

Mankind has always wanted, and often attempted, to control the weather. We have had no great need for rainfall this season, but there are those times when just about any methods would be entertained to bring that lifesaving liquid from the heavens.

Rainmakers have existed in one for or other for centuries, if not longer. Today we hear of the seeding of clouds to create rain. The concept was in existence long ago, thought perhaps not carried out successfully due to the restraints of earth-bound entrepreneurs. Here is such a tale from :

"An Old Rainmaker--Special to the Gazette--Guthrie, O.T. [Oklahoma Territory], Nov 28 [1891]--J.M. Smith, of Seward, O.T., who is nearly ninety years old, states that he remembers well a Samuel Brent, of Columbia, Ky., who sixty years ago conceived the idea of causing rainfall by using explosives, and for that purpose erected a high tower from which he exploded large quantities of powder. So successful was he that he obtained a large following and created a great sensation throughout Kentucky and bordering states. His experiments were not financially successful, however, and after expending large means, his efforts fell into innocuous desuetude and were forgotten by a fickle public.

"Before the age of balloons and dynamite he appears to have caused rain to fall by the same means sought by Melbourne and others. Then why should he not be accorded the credit of discovery, instead of these modern 'rain kings,' who simply follow in his footsteps, causing rain by atmospheric disturbances, but using later discovered means instead of powder in accomplishing the same subject?" -- The Fort Worth Gazette, Fort Worth, TX, 29 November 1891, Sunday.

Samuel Brents was a resident of Green and Adair Counties during the late years of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century and was a lawyer by trade who practiced his trade all over South Central Kentucky and in particular in Columbia.

He was the name sake of a son of John Field, early Columbia merchant, first Adair County jailer, first Columbia postmaster, etc. John's son, Samuel Brents Field, became a physician and practiced his trade in this and surrounding counties until after the Civil War. He, too, was an innovator, credited with introducing commercial fertilizer to Adair County at a time when farming had just about exhausted the soil.

This story was posted on 2019-07-28 12:54:35
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