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History Monday: Yellowhammer

(Sort of) in response to Linda's beautiful photo on Sunday...

By Mike Watson

"Yellow Hammer" or "Yellowhammer" School has, perhaps, a one-of-a-kind name. The question has been asked, more than once, how this school received its name. That is another question for the ages, it seems. The rural school, known as Yellowhammer, dates to the latter quarter of the 1800s.

It was not known by that name prior to the Civil War, as there is a good list of the districts of the 1850s. At some point in the 1880s or so, this name was given to a new or revised school district located between Fairplay and Glensfork.

There are two or three possible origins:


One, the Yellowhammer, a variation of the Norther Flicker, is a medium sized bird of the woodpecker family and is native to most of North America. These are common in many areas. One report, from a Richmond, Kentucky, newspaper in 1904, lamented the decline of the once numerous bird in the central part of the state. Perhaps this variety was common here. This is a distinct possibility.

Two, there was a man from the Zion community, no so far from where the Yellowhammer school was located, at least as the crow flies, named Bob Willis, who was known in the neighborhood as Yellow Hammer. J.E. Willis, a was a native of the same community, spoke of Bob in a letter to the readership of the Adair County News in 1904 and mentioned times when and "Bob Willis...and myself roamed the woods in the vicinity of Zion, on Sundays, in search of the precious root of ginseng..."

Three, there is or once was a variety of chrysanthemum called by some ancestors the Yellow Hammer chrysanthemum.

I would like to know the answer to the origin of the school name and if anyone out there can assist, please respond.


This story was posted on 2020-02-17 04:22:30
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Day Trip: Yellow Hammer - or Yellowhammer - Road



2020-02-17 - Adair County, KY - Photo by Linda Waggener, ColumbiaMagazine.com.
Whether you write it in one word as historian Mike Watson does - and I feel sure he knows which is correct - or two words as the state sign does, and I have a feeling they don't know, being from off - it's a beautiful road in Adair County that connects Highway 704 to Old Glens Fork Road. Yellow Hammer / Yellowhammer Road winds and wanders, much like the previous sentence did.

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