The small community of Oleoak has had its share of tragedies, and the neighborhood is imbued with a haunted feeling that is pervasive in its melancholy essence. Home to several family burial grounds, you can also add many untold tragedies from the past that have been forgotten by all but the families of the area.
Among those many tragedies is the tale of Sam Matthews’ disappearance and unfortunate demise in late December of 1927. Sam Matthews, age 24, was the son of Mrs. US Matthews, who lived 6 miles east of Glasgow in the Oleoak-Bethel neighborhood. He left his mother’s home on Thursday evening, December 29. While others who also lived in the home were at a neighbor’s playing cards, Sammy was heard upstairs in the house by his mother. He then went out and his mother didn’t know to where.
Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Bowles lived in a house that at that time was on the White’s Chapel Road. I’ve been told the house they lived in is now the present home of Alfred McKinney on AM McKinney Road, which connects with White’s Chapel Road and Hwy 90 East. When Mrs. Bowles was throwing out her dishwater, she heard someone walking by, and is was said she always thought it was Sammy she had heard. When Sam never returned home, his mother’s neighbors began to search for him. The following morning it was discovered that Sam taken a gun with him when he left.
Sam Matthews was found dead `11 days later in what was known as the Boles, or Foster Cave, on the Sam Wade farm, about a mile from Mrs. Matthews’ home. When still searching for Sam, it was said the family went to a fortune-teller to try to help find him. They were told “he was near where the cars were.”
This cave was located on the Wade farm, and Robert Wade had traps set there which he checked every day. Matthews’ body was found by John Nelson, Milton Snyder, and Calvin Rogers, who had been searching diligently for him since his disappearance. Matthews was lying about 150 ft. from the entrance of the cave, and in order to reach that point, it was necessary to crawl in mud to his body. The lower part of his body was submerged in water and mud, and a gaping hole over his left eye showed how he met his death. The shotgun which he had carried from home was laying to the left of the body, an empty shell in the gun.
The body was brought out of the cave and placed in a wagon that went to the Wade home on Morrison Park Road. On Monday night the body was prepared for burial. Reverend JL Piercy held funeral services on Tuesday at the burial ground then known by the Boles name. Today it is known as the Stout Cemetery, located off of Poplar Springs Road near the famous Martha Devine Hole, on Falling Timber Creek.
It should be noted also that the John Nelson, who was part of the search team, had served as a guide at Mammoth Cave from 1894-1907. He gained fame from his collection of Indian and geological artifacts, part of which now resides in the Mammoth Cave National Park Museum, and some more of it is in the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. After leaving the Cave’s employment, Nelson settled in Glasgow and continued his avid hobby of hunting for and collecting artifacts. Later he served as Glasgow’s fire chief.
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