Printed from:

Welcome to Columbia Magazine  

History Monday: In Times of Need

By Mike Watson

Our town and county, along with the state and nation, are struggling with the dread virus that strikes the old, infirm, and compromised among our citizenry. We can only take proper precautions and distance ourselves from the possibly infected, and continue to pray for deliverance. There are many, however, who are literally on the front line in this war with disease. In recent weeks we have seen many step up to help provide protections, as much as is possible, from the spread of the corona-virus, by crafting masks to be distributed to those in need. For this, we should all be thankful, for it is to aid each and every one of us, almost certainly in indirect ways; and for some, such as medical workers, clerks, and so many more, it is a direct benefit that may very well save lives.

Citizens have always been in the fore-front offering support and material supplies in times of great need. There are many examples including:

During the Revolutionary War those who could not fight on the front lines often supplied material for the troops. Farmers and merchants were the greatest among these. Food, forage for horses, manufactured goods, and clothing were the most sought after supplies, in addition to money.

Many early settlers of Adair County provided Patriotic Service to the Continental Army and the Cause for Liberty; thus becoming the United States.

One such was Stephen White, Sr., who resided in Bedford County, Virginia. He provided horses and food supplies when called upon. He was too old for the field army, but had sons and sons-in-law who served in the Army. He came to what is now Adair and settled and was buried on his old farm in the Tabor neighborhood. His grave is near that of his son, Thomas White, Jr., who served in the Army, and across the fields lies his son-in-law, William Hurt, Sr., who also served.

Much the same scenario played out in the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Civil War. Since the War of 1812 was not fought near our Old Kentucky home, nor was the Mexican, the aid often manifested itself in the making of clothing and accessories for the soldiers. Pants, coats, shirts, socks, and boots were all made to order in those days. Most women knitted and sewed every garment worn by their families. Many families had a shoemaker, and if not, a near neighbor could "run-up" what was needed.

During the Civil War, which was literally on our door-step, every family was acutely aware of the needs of soldiers, and of their neighbors who were deprived of human labor and horse power on the farm. Everyone pitched in to aid those in need. One such story was told in 1917, shortly after our nation entered the War to End All Wars--World War I, as we know it today. Here is a brief part of that story:

The Danville Messenger, Boyle County, carried a story in October 1917 on Mrs. Sarah McKee who was 'Dong Her Bit' for the war effort. Mrs. McKee was the widow of Dr. John L. McKee. He was the principal and a teacher at Columbia's Male & Female High School when the Civil War erupted in 1861, and also the pastor of the Columbia Presbyterian Church.

Mrs. McKee related an experience of the War, one of many such in this county, of cooking for the soldiers who were in and around Columbia at that time. She told of one soldier who entered her cook-room and carried off a pot of boiling food to be eaten at his convenience. In 1917, at the age of 87, she was still working for the betterment of the soldier by knitting socks and sweaters, as many others did. She resided at Topeka, Kansas, but her memories of toiling in such manner during the Mexican, Civil, and Spanish-American wars kept her producing for another conflict, a world away.

During World War I the Red Cross was extremely active here and across the nation. The local organization worked tirelessly before, during and after the conflict to aid those in distress:

"The ladies of Columbia are working day and night for the soldier boys, making sweaters and knitting socks, and also soliciting funds for the Y.M.C.A., do not receive one penny for their services. They are patriotic women who are thinking only of their country and of the boys who are enlisted to protect it."

We are all good Americans, good Kentuckians, and good Adair Countians to this day. God Bless those who continue to stand for mankind and the good of those at greatest risk.

--Michael C. Watson, Easter Sunday, 12 April 2020.

This story was posted on 2020-04-20 05:49:57
Printable: this page is now automatically formatted for printing.
Have comments or corrections for this story? Use our contact form and let us know.


Quick Links to Popular Features

Looking for a story or picture?
Try our Photo Archive or our Stories Archive for all the information that's appeared on


Contact us: Columbia Magazine and are published by Linda Waggener and Pen Waggener, PO Box 906, Columbia, KY 42728.
Phone: 270.403.0017

Please use our contact page, or send questions about technical issues with this site to All logos and trademarks used on this site are property of their respective owners. All comments remain the property and responsibility of their posters, all articles and photos remain the property of their creators, and all the rest is copyright 1995-Present by Columbia Magazine. Privacy policy: use of this site requires no sharing of information. Voluntarily shared information may be published and made available to the public on this site and/or stored electronically. Anonymous submissions will be subject to additional verification. Cookies are not required to use our site. However, if you have cookies enabled in your web browser, some of our advertisers may use cookies for interest-based advertising across multiple domains. For more information about third-party advertising, visit the NAI web privacy site.