Old photographs stretched across the long wall of the Renaissance building Friday, June 4, roughly summing up Salyersville’s history with around a hundred pictures of Jimmie Allen’s collection. On small pieces of paper with print from a typewriter, Allen described the stories behind the pictures.
Allen, now 80 years old, is the grandson of the photographer Winfield Scott Flint. When Flint died in 1959 Allen inherited the negatives and started collecting old photographs. His collection comes from all over. He said people often come to him with old negatives or photos to add to his collection.
Some of the photos are panoramic pictures Win Flint took with his homemade circuit camera, allowing whole communities to cram into one long picture.
Over fifty people showed up to see Jimmie Allen’s collection. Allen walked along the wall, explaining the pictures and Salyersville’s history.
Allen told the stories of each set of pictures, remembering each story without looking at his notes. Along the wall were pictures of old school buildings, Salyersville with gravel streets before cars, a funeral of a horse-drawn hearse, the 1933 fatal car accident on Royalton Road, the aftermath of the flood of 1939, WPA workers putting rocks on the streets and the old courthouses. Pictures dated as far back as 1885 showed the many transformations of Salyersville, as well as all of Magoffin County.
“Whenever I get negatives I pick out an unusual one and have it developed,” Allen said.
He encourages everyone to write down as much as possible about old photos.
“It’s a good idea to mark on the back of them. The people that know are not going to live forever.”
Allen was surprised by the large turnout. “I never thought of that many coming out,” he said.
Friends expressed their gratitude for the work Allen does for Magoffin County’s history.
Todd Preston, the president of the Historical Society, said, “He did more for photography for this county than anybody.”
In honor of Jimmie Allen’s work for the community, Judge Executive Dr. Charles Hardin signed a proclamation, declaring the day, June 4, 2010, “Jimmie Allen Day.”
When Dr. Hardin presented him the proclamation, Allen said, “I never thought there would be a ‘Jimmie Allen Day.’”
Dr. Hardin laughed and joked, “Most people have to die to get that honor.”
Allen just smiled and quietly said, “I’m still here.”