I enjoy searching out interesting events that occurred in the history of Magoffin County. They weave a story of what our ancestors’ ways and times were like. What is most surprising to me is just how much living and dying occurred back in those good old days.
When we think of our ancestors we tend to picture them as God fearing gentle souls, however, many were not. Many were anything but and wove a tapestry in blood that soaked our county’s history with crimson stains. I have to admit my preference for stories such as Earl Hamner (John Boy Walton) writes about but to obtain a real sense of our history we need to consider the totality of what is known about how things used to be. Below is a case my grandfather had told me about when I was young. I don’t recall the details but did run across this old newspaper story.
Nov 6, 1926 - Brain shot out but man still lives. Bernie Salyer age 36 of Ivyton, Magoffin Co was shot from ambush last Wednesday and he was brought to the Paintsville Hospital where an operation was preformed in an attempt to save his live. Part of his brain and skull were blown away with a shotgun in the hands of his assailant. The operation was successful and he is now able to speak to friends. He described the man who shot him and says he knows him but can not speak his name. He recognized his wife but when asked to speak her name he could not. In fact he can not speak his own name. It is one of the strangest cases ever reported from the Paintsville Hospital. He is suffering from a form of motor aphasia and until other parts of the brain are able to supply that portion lost from the wound he will be unable to speak or remember names, attending physicians say. He converses with all that visit his room; says he knows the relatives when they call but cannot speak the name of a single one of them. Efforts will be made to locate the guilty party who shot him by the description he has given the officers. He says he knows the man well but can not speak his name. A portion of his skull and brains are gone but the man is doing well after his operation and the case is being watched with a great deal of interest by the attending physicians.
Can you imagine what excitement this patient must have stirred up in the old Paintsville hospital almost 90 years ago? Dr. E E Archer was mayor of Paintsville at the time and probably treated Mr. Salyer. I am sure this unusual case caused a sensation throughout the medical community at the time. I have been unable to find any additional information on the outcome of this case. I have been able to trace several different people named Bernie Salyer from Magoffin but can not prove which is this Bernie. I suspect he is the son of Samuel Otto Salyer and Mary Caroline Prater and was married to Edith May Page. This Bernie died November 1st 1966 possibly in Wenatchee, Chelan County, Washington.
Just to put the time frame of this incident in perspective I will note that Paintsville was a modern town in 1926 having a bank in 1902, telephone service by 1906, paved roads by 1908, electricity and gas service by 1912, and public water by 1926 and obviously a good hospital well staffed.