On 14 Nov 1926, John Markland wrote a feature story in The Courier-Journal about a Shepherdsville man named Henry Pauley (variously spelled as Pauley, Paulley, or Polly) who lived an isolated life on his farm in the bottoms along Floyd's Fork.
The reporter's attention had been drawn to a report of a cache of gold and silver coins supposedly buried on the farm by Pauley's brother before his death, and stolen by two young men who had discovered its location.
Markland's story is transcribed below. Accompanying it are digitized photos from the article.
The world has passed Henry Paulley by.
Alone in a chinked and daubed log cabin, six feet square, with a crude stone fireplace his only source of heat and light, Henry crouches like a half-man by day and stretches out upon a pile of gunny-sacks by night, his gray features illuminated by the flicker of a burning log. Behind him in the shadows rats play undisturbed.
Few people have ever visited Henry in his home, located five miles from Shepherdsville by the Mount Washington Road. Although most of the residents of the village of Shepherdsville have seen the old man groping through the streets of town behind his long staff on his one of his rare visits to the village, no more than three of them have entered his cabin it is said.
Henry's cabin, like a dark forest bird watching its brood, sits in the center of a group of low-lying log outbuildings. The group, said to have been built more than a century ago by Henry's father, is clustered upon the side of a slight swell of ground in the center of the ninety acre Paulley farm. Wagon tracks, which wind through a pasture grown over with weeds and berry-bushes, connect the edge of the farm with the Mount Washington Road. There has never been a footpath to lead from the cabin dooryard to the point where the wagon tracks end.
The world has never seen fit to make a path to Henry's door, and Henry hasn't much use for one. In the seventy-five or more years of his life - he doesn't know exactly how old he is - Henry has never been farther from home than Louisville, twenty-five miles away. He visits Shepherdsville two or three times a year to purchase the only things he demands of the world - coffee and salt. The five acres which he has not sublet supply him with all the food he needs.
Since the death of his older brother Kinsloe, ten years ago, Henry has lived alone. Before the death of Kinsloe, whose legendary "golden legacy," buried by him on the farm, is reported to have been discovered and stolen last week by two Shepherdsville youth whom police are seeking, the two brothers lived together in the one-room cabin, tiling the soil in their ancient way and dividing the proceeds between them.
A week ago Henry, in the company of the Sheriff of Bullitt County, visited Shepherdville for the first time in many months to sign papers asking the arrest of Charles Jackson and Roy Peacock, the 16-year-old boys who claimed to have found Kinsloe's "pot of gold.". The people of Shepherdsville say that Henry himself has hunted the gold in the years since his brother's death; at least he is angry that others have obtained what is his rightfully. Having declared that he will have the intruders "before the law," Henry is back in his cabin. Only the rats hear his opinions of the ways of man, muttered in low tones by the fireplace.
Meanwhile police of Bullitt and Jefferson Counties are conducting a search for Jackson and Peacock. The two boys, who had been employed, until their disappearance eight days ago, in local hotel, aroused suspicion by boasting publicly of having grown rich "overnight." They claimed to have found $24,000, and they displayed handfuls of gold and silver coins. They purchased an automobile and large supplies of clothing.
Jackson was questioned by police and he told them that he and Peacock had found the money on the Paulley farm. Unable to hold the boy without papers, police released him. When the warrants which Henry had requested arrived in Louisville, the two boys had disappeared.
Before his release, Jackson turned over to police $139 in cash. Most of it in gold and silver coins, many of them of a very old issue. He also relinquished to the automobile which Ian Peacock purchased in Louisville for $235. Both the money and the automobile will be disposed of by action of the Bullitt County Court when it convenes November 22.
Henry himself never was sure that his brother had buried his gold near the cabin. Although the two live together they confided nothing in each other. But Henry did know that Kinsloe had saved a great deal of money during his lifetime and that he had never deposited it in the bank. He had become convinced with the passing of the ten years that the brother's money was somewhere about the farm.
After he had heard the Jackson and Peacock had found it, he searched the premises for the place in which the gold had been unearthed. He has been unable to find the spot where the money was uncovered. Now he has retired into the routine disturbed a week ago, leaving his case in the hands of police. When the boys are arrested he is anxious that they be brought to the farm to show him where they found Kinsloe's "golden legacy."
Henry spares but a few minutes of each day from his fireside. About three times a day he emerges from his cabin to throw corn to ancient white horse, a turkey and half a dozen chickens that occuppy jointly the half acre inclosure in which the log buildings are located. Leaning heavily upon a long oak staff, his head bent far over his breast, his whiskers hanging nearly to his waist, a lady's boudoir cap, badly soiled, upon his head, he clucks with his chickens and neighs with his horse as he feeds them. Then he hobbled back to his place beside the fire to ponder, as he warms his long gnarled fingers before the blaze, upon things unimagined by the world he has shunned.
Sitting there in the firelight, his face and hands close to the blaze, he is like a figure from some world of romance dreamed by a small boy.
Although the traditions of the village have made of him a mystery, he is courteous toward those who care to visit him. He was hospitable toward two newspaper reporters who called to question him about the disappearance of his brothers gold and answered their questions without a trace of self-consciousness. Every minute of the visit, except those when he posed for a picture, he huddled close to his fire.
"I like a fire," he said, staring into it from dim, gray eyes set far back beneath shaggy and withered eyebrows.
Henry has nothing in common with Twentieth Century man. He has never been inside a school-house; he can neither read nor write. He knows nothing of the any of the arts or sciences; he has never seen a motion picture, used a telephone, or listened to a talking machine. He has never been to a doctor. He knows nothing of the contents of books or newspapers.
"Have you ever heard of the Courier-Journal?" He was asked. After repeating the name to himself he said:
"Courier-Journal. It's some kind of printing ain't it?" He had never seen a copy of the paper.
The word "radio" was entirely strange to him: he had never heard it spoken before.
He voted for a candidate for sheriff of Bullitt County once many years ago. He has no other knowledge of politics. He had never heard of Calvin Coolidge or Senator Barkley.
He posed for a camera for the first time Saturday, asserting that he wasn't "very pretty." He insisted on removing the lace cap which he ordinarily wears. He adjusted his hat for the picture with great care.
In Henry's one-room lodging there is neither a bed nor a chair. There is not a single plate, fork, table knife, or dish. He eats from his squatting position before the fire, taking his food directly from the pot in which it is cooked in the grate. He does not own a clock, a picture, a mirror, a pencil, a piece of paper or any kind of ornament. He has neither a lamp nor a candle.
It is said that Henry has neither shaved nor had a haircut in fifty years, and there are no evidences of either soap or towel in the cabin. His clothing is a collection of patches, soiled and worn to shreds.
Neither Henry nor Kinsloe ever married. It is said that there was once a woman in Henry's life, but he gave up marrying her when Kinsloe threatened to shoot her if Henry brought her to the cabin. The older residents of the town say that Henry was very handsome as a youth and that he occasionally came into the village "courting."
"There was one girl I could have had if I had wanted her," Henry said Saturday. "But I never could stay smitten more than two days at a time. I'd see her on Sunday and forget her by Tuesday. I sometimes wish I had married her though. She was a mighty good worker."
Henry had never heard of "the Jazz Age," and he has never seen the Charleston. The idea of a man's going to see his girl on any other night than Sunday was entirely new to him.
"I did all my sparkin' on Sundays," he declared.
Henry is reputed to be wealthy. The farm he owns is valued at several thousand dollars. He has some money in a Shepherdsville bank. The people of the village say, however, that he, like his brother, keeps all his gold and silver coins with him in the cabin.
Before Kinsloe's death the two brothers cultivated the entire farm by themselves, and each dollar which they earned would be divided equally between them. Then each would hide his money from the other. Often they would accuse each other of stealing.
When Kinsloe died, the secret of the hiding place of his wealth died with him. He was found outside the door of an outhouse by his younger brother one night frozen to death.
"My brother and I never got on together." Henry said. "I didn't like him. He was one of them that thought they knew it all and didn't know nothing. He never told me anything and I didn't tell him anything. He had money all right, but I never could find it. How them two boys found it I can't tell. I've seen them around here once or twice and I have seen some other snoopin' around. I guess them boys found Kinsloe's money all right."
Henry cannot remember when he made his last trip to Louisville; he says it has been a good many years.
"I'm nobody to go places much." He said. "I'm going to make a trip to Louisville when spring comes around.
Henry looks as if he might not live until "spring comes around." He moves slowly and with difficulty, and his skin is wrinkled and colorless.
"I've got enough wood here to last me tonight, I guess." He said Saturday afternoon, pointing to a pile of logs in the corner. "I'll be up pretty late tonight."
He did not explain what he would be doing. With no books to read, no one with whom to talk, no pictures to look at, no memories of life of adventure with which to amuse himself, and with no sound but the wind blowing through the wide cracks in the cabin walls, one wonders why he should crouch by the fire late into the night awake.
If the reports in the village concerning his wealth are true, it may be that he finds diversion in fingering gold and silver coins, watching them gleam in the firelight.
Only the rats who play about his feet unmolested know.
While research on this story is ongoing, we do know that Kinsloe Pauley was born about 1850 to Absolum and Harriet (James) Pauley. His birth name appears to have been Kintcheloe (according to the deed for the sale of the farm in 1936), but was spelled variously as Kinchole, Kinslow, and Kinsloe. He died on 17 Dec 1917, and was buried on the farm.
Henry Pauley was born 15 Dec 1851 according to his death certificate. The informant was his nephew, Greenup Owen. Henry died of pneumonia on 20 Dec 1929, and was buried in the Jones Cemetery.
This web page is copyright 2008 by Charles Hartley. The transcribed story, and accompanying digitized photos may continue to be the property of The Courier-Journal. We welcome comments.
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