For The Sundey Courier and Press
HENDERSON, KY 19 July 1941

“Won’t you wait till the cow’s come home.” – remember the song
Well, Henry Lyne didn’t. That is, he didn’t wait.
He was the fellow who sent the cows home. Honest.
That particular story about Henry Lyne, who is 87 and has been in the same paint business, at the same location where he started to work 71 years ago, goes back to Civil War days.
Things were stirred up in Henderson. Bands of guerrilla soldiers, Yankee gunboats, southern sympathizers, northern sympathizers all helped to raise the town’s war fever.
“I was nine years old whew I bad a tiny part in that war.” Henry Lyne recalled the other day.
Yankee troops had occupied the court house here. They rounded up all the cattle in town—penned them in a lot on South Main Street, where the Schu Furniture Store now stands.
“There was a stout feace around the lot and the gate had been wired shut.”
“I don’t know what the soldiers planed to do with the cows, but it was obvious they weren’t going to be returned to their owners.”
“Mr. Henry Turner, who had lost two cows to the soldiers, suggested I might slip over and open the gate. None of the men would try that trick, but Mr. Turner was sure no one would pay any attention to a small boy.
“Well, I did it. It seemed like ages before I finally got the gate open. And when I did–man alive, those cows got their tails up and streaked for home.”
“So did I. I think I must have even outdistanced some of the cows. I got home and crawled underneath my bed. I stayed there the rest of the day, too scared to come out.”
“But nothing happened to me after all.”
Any number of gunboat puffed up and down the river by Henderson, sending waves of fear through the town–fears of bombardment.
Like the time the Gunboat Brilliant docked at Henderson and Colonel A. R. Johnson and a hand of Confederates were encamped just three miles out of Henderson.
Henderson people became so worried they sent delegations to both Johnson and the gunboat captain to determine their intentions.
Charles Perkins of the Brilliant, sent an elaborate reply to the effect that: “He had no desire to imperil the city by fire and thereby render homeless the women and children and non-combatants, but that he had imperative orders to fire if the town was occupied by rebel troops.”
According to Mr. Lyne’s memory, the gunboat did eventually drop a few cannon balls on Henderson. But, he added, the captain in the meantine had fallen in love with a Henderson girl, so be made sure his cannon shot went wide of any possible targets
Then there was the Capt. Ollie Steele incident which made another impression on young Henry Lyne for he was a witness to its conclusion.
“The captain.” said Mr. Lyne. “was a daring Confederate, who thought up the idea of luring Yankee troops encamped in Henderson into a trap.
“That was in the last year of the war–’65.
“Steele led some 30 of his men into the fairgrounds here. They were chased by Capt. Sam Allen and his State Troops.
“Most of Steele’s troops laid in ambush waiting for Allen’s men to pass by. Twenty-five Yankees were led into the trap,” declared Lyne. “Few of them lived to tell the story.”
“Not long after that a Yankee band galloped down Main Street here, bent on revenge on Steele’s father who ran a jewelry store just opposite our paint shop.
“Steele broke and ran for his home on Elm Street with the soldiers hot after him.
I saw him dash in the front door with the
soldiers right behind him. He ran out the back door and into a cornfield just beyond the house, with the soldiers shooting at him. His daughters saved his life. They ran after Mr. Steele, staying between the soldiers and their father so the men were afrald to shoot for fear of hitting the girls.
Then, of course, there was the shooting of James E. Rankin the year before that.
Rankin was shot in his store when he failed to open his safe on the demand of a guerrilla band.
Union forces announced their intention at executing two Confederate prisoners in retaliation for the shooting. There were long-drawn out conferences between federal officers and truce pow-wows with Confederates.
“On July 22, the two prisoners were marched to the edge ot what is now Atkinson Park.” Mr. Lynn recalled. “I’ll never forget that scene as long as I live. There they were executed by a firing squad.”
There is scarcely any important event of Henderson’s early history Mr. Lyne cannot personally recall, or which he does not remember hearing his parents discuss. His father, George Lyne, was born in Henderson in 1828, when the town was 31 years old, scarcely more than a frontier stockade. George Lyne married a Henderson County woman, Virginia Hicks, and their son, Henry, was born in 1854.
Henry Lyne was educated at historic Center Street School, which will be abandoned forever as a school at the end of this term.
“I am the only member of my class still living, so far as I know.” Mr. Lyne said, “and it seems I am going to outlive the old building as well.” When he was 15 years old Henry Lyne stopped school to go to work in his father’s store, and he has been working in that business ever since.
“I believed I hold a record in that respect.” Mr. Lyne claimed. “Statistics show that only one man in a thousand remains continuously in the same business for 50 years. I’ve been connected with the Lyne Paint Company at 129 Main Street for 71 years. My father owned the business first, and since his death I have. There have been only two small changes in that time in connection with it The original concern was a drug and paint business. About 40 years
ago I dropped the drugs and continued with paint. Also, the original building has been replaced once, but the second building stands on the same location.”
Mr. Lyne’s greatest diversion is reading, and his knowledge of the classics, of modern literature, and world affairs is amazingly comprehensive.
“It is mostly self-acquired.” he said. “I had to go to work before I finished high school, but I’ve read constantly in my spare time.
Mr. Lyne is reading Dickens now for the second time. He admires the novels of the English author, and he remembers as a young boy hearing his parents tell of Dickens’ brief visit to Henderson in 1842.
“Charles Dickens was a passenger on the steamboat, Fulton, which was making a trip between St. Louis and Louisville,” he said.
“The boat stopped at Henderson to take on freight, and its distinguished passenger amused himself by walking around the town. It is said that the town pump, which stood in the middle of Main and Second Streets, interested him the most.
“I remember well when that pump was the center of community life.” Mr. Lyne declared.
“It was the source of water supply for
many residents, besides a drinking place for horses, cows and hogs. Eventually conditions became so unsanitary at the pump, because of the livestock, citizens protested. Hogs and cows were kept away after that, but horses drank there up to the time the well was abandoned.”
When Mr. Lyne was reminded that he is undoubtedly the best Shakespearian student in Henderson, and can quote more passages from the Immortal Bard than anyone, he smiled.
“It isn’t very original of me, but I find myself always returning to Shakespeare. I suppose it is because his plays describe every human emotion, every type of character, every conceivable situation in which a person can be involved,” he said.
However, Mr. Lyne is as thoroughly conversant with modern work as he is with the classics. He has proved himself repeatedly an accurate prophet on present war developmento through his meticulous study of world affairs.
Lyne’s memories of early Henderson are accurate and vivid. He recalls the days when Negroes were put on the block in the public square and sold at auction.
“I remember the day my father bought two bucks, Charlie and George, for whom he paid $800 apiece. and whom he freed a short time later when war troubles started,” he said.
Henry Lyne has lived to witness the complete cycle of transportation, from horseback to airplane.
Mr. Lyne’s three danghters are widely scattered over the United States. Miss Cornelia Lyne, the oldest, is the financial head of the National Child Welfare Association, with headquarters at New York.
Mrs. Robert Tunstall, a well-known poet, who has published a book of verse and other poems in national periodicals, lives at Cleveland.
Mrs. Arthur King was graduated with high honors from University of Chicago, and has taken character parts in moving pictures. Two sons, George and Kenneth, are associated with their father in the paint business.
But Mr. Lyne still runs the store.