J. Tandy Ellis, Kentucky’s 26th TAG; “Tandy Claus”

Top-Secret Santa, James Tandy Ellis, rides along in a sleigh pulled behind live reindeer near Louisville, Ky., 1926. The true identity of “Tandy Claus” would not surface for about 45 years. (courtesy photo)


History Article by John Trowbridge, Kentucky National Guard

James “Tandy” Ellis was a newspaper columnist, poet, humorist, entertainer, raconteur, and Kentucky Adjutant General. He was born the second son of Dr. Peter Clarkson and Drusilla Tandy Ellis, June 9, 1868, in Ghent (Carroll County), Ky.

His father, a native of Bourbon County, settled in Carroll County and practiced medicine for many years, allowing young Ellis to attend the local school. He graduated from the old Ghent College in 1885. At age 18, Ellis attended the Agricultural and Mechanical (A&M) College of Kentucky (now called the University of Kentucky) in Lexington.

Three events occurred from 1886-1888 while he attended A & M College, which would significantly impact his future. One, he attended his first military training. Two, he made friends with classmate Augustus Owsley Stanley, who was destined to become the 38th Governor of Kentucky. And three, he met Harriet Bainbridge Richardson, his future wife.

Ellis only attended A & M College for two years, but he continued his education at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music in Ohio. In 1889, he graduated from the Conservatory and published his first notable poem, “Back to Old Kentucky.”

James Tandy Ellis, Kentucky’s 26th TAG (courtesy photo)

When he returned home to Ghent, he became a companion to his wealthy grandfather, James Bledsoe Tandy, who later died in 1895.

Following his grandfather’s death, Ellis went to work as a newspaperman in Louisville. By June 1897, he was dubbed the “poet laureate” of the Louisville Dispatch for his frequent submissions of quality poems used in the paper.

In mid-1898, the Dispatch published Ellis’s defense of his former Lexington girlfriend, Harriet. She was the daughter of Colonel William Richardson of Fayette County, who made national headlines as Temperance forces assailed her for wanting to use Kentucky bourbon to Christen the new U.S. Navy battleship, the USS Kentucky.

On February 6, Ellis released the poem, “The White Rose,” which told of his love for Miss Richardson. Reading the poem, she recognized the poet’s initials, which led to a couple’s romantic reunion. The two married on June 30, 1898. Newspapers throughout the country reported their marriage as a union of the defamed heroine and the young poet.

To this union, two children were born. Sadly, both would not survive. James Tandy Ellis, Jr., died in infancy, and Drusilla caught pneumonia and died at age five in 1908.

The newlyweds initially lived in Louisville, where Ellis worked as a reporter on the Louisville Dispatch. In late January 1900, he moved his family to western Kentucky following his election as vice-president and general manager of the Owensboro Water Works.

While in Owensboro, Ellis became involved in the local theatrical community and civic groups, social clubs, and fraternal organizations. He would eventually become a member of the Masonic fraternity (Master Mason, Ghent Lodge No. 344), the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Improved Order of Red Men, the Knights of Pythias, and the Fraternal Mystic Circle. As to his politics, Ellis once stated that he was “a Democrat both by birth and instinct.”

In October 1900, they organized a State Militia company in Owensboro. On Nov. 27, this newly organized company mustered into Kentucky State Guard and elected Ellis as Captain of Company C, 3rd Regiment. Governor J. C. W. Beckham immediately invited the company to participate in his inauguration at Frankfort. However, the Soldiers needed uniforms and accouterments which had not arrived from the arsenal at Frankfort. On Dec. 9, the uniforms and equipment arrived, and the company participated in the parade.

In January 1901, Ellis started a campaign to have the annual State Guard encampment held in Owensboro. This event would bring a financial windfall for the city. Competition between seven cities vying for the honor of having the encampment was extremely tough and went on through July 20. His hard work paid off when they officially selected Owensboro for the 1901 State Guard encampment.

On June 4, 1901, Company C members unanimously voted to call themselves the “Green River Guards.” On Sept. 17, the Adjutant General in Frankfort ordered the Green River Guards to stand ready at their armory for orders. At the time, fighting had erupted in Madisonville (Hopkins County), Ky., between the striking union and non-union miners. After three days of living at the armory, orders came to dismiss the men from duty. However, due to growing tension and continued violence, Company C was active, again, for assignment at Madisonville on Sept. 25.

Numerous attempts to settle the disputes between the miners were unsuccessful. The situation required a continuous Guard presence until the two groups resolved.

The men returned to Owensboro on Oct. 20, 1901. That same day, the local newspaper reported trouble starting up again. Over the next week, Captain Ellis was running between Nortonville and Frankfort as he kept Adjutant General David Murray appraised of the situation.

With continued unrest at the mines, Company C returned to Hopkins County on Nov. 24. In early December, the men would return to their homes.

On March 8, 1902, Captain Ellis was asked to speak at a mineworkers convention in Owensboro. He was complimentary of the miners, and pleasant relations built up between them and his command during the recent troubles in Hopkins County. During the conference, issues between all parties were resolved, and the miners’ concerns of that moment were over.

Labor issues and violence in Kentucky’s coal mines continued to be an issue throughout the last century.

In April 1902, entrepreneurs purchased the Owensboro Water Works, and they removed Tandy Ellis from his full-time position as vice-president and general manager.

In early July 1902, they announced a new battalion would be organized as part of the Third Regiment, Kentucky State Guard. On July 7, Ellis was elected Major and Commander of the newly organized 3rd Battalion. In August, within two weeks of his appointment, Major Ellis took his battalion to their summer encampment at Camp Lawton near Mammoth Cave.

During the 1902 encampment, Democratic nominee for Congress, Augustus O. Stanley, arrived in the camp where a political rally was held. Stanley announced to the attendees, upon his election, Major Ellis would be his private secretary. Stanley won the election in 1903 and headed to Washington. Ellis began serving as Stanley’s private secretary but remained in Kentucky and the State Guard.

On May 1, 1903, Ellis and a group of friends entered the Louisville Hotel’s lobby. By chance, ex-Governor Bradley and friends were standing in the lobby. Seeing the Governor, Ellis approached Bradley and demanded to know if he had made a particular remark about his wife. Bradley said nothing, and Ellis denounced him in the severest terms. Friends quickly intervened and took the men away from each other. The trouble originated when Governor Bradley’s daughter christened the battleship Kentucky, the honor which had been previously promised to Mrs. Ellis.

On Feb. 4, 1904, Ellis was invited to a White House Reception, where he met President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt. Ellis commented after shaking hands with the President that he had clasped hands with two great men while in Washington, Teddy Roosevelt and Cole Younger, who he had met the night before at National Hotel. Of Cole Younger, Ellis said he didn’t look like a killer. He also met and spoke with Dr. Mary Walker of New York on several occasions. Ellis referred to Dr. Walker as “the eccentric Washington woman,” who wears masculine apparel—breeches, plug hat, Prince Albert coat.

Dr. Walker is still our country’s only female Medal of Honor recipient.

Major J. Tandy Ellis resigned from the Kentucky State Guard on July 1, 1904. He headed to Washington, continuing as A. O. Stanley’s secretary and taking up newspaper work. While in Washington, he wrote a few articles to the folks back home in Owensboro about what he did and saw. The two series were titled “Sketches from Washington, by Major James Tandy Ellis,” and “Gossip from Washington.”

On March 4, 1905, Ellis resigned as A. O. Stanley’s secretary to manage his farm and literary pursuits, back in Carroll County. In September 1905, he took a position as a salesman for the Green River Company of Washington and Baltimore.

In March 1906, he was appointed agent for the Green River Distilling Company and assigned to run the Owensboro office’s correspondence department.

In March 1907, he was elected special finance commissioner by the Kentucky Jamestown Exposition Commission.

He became the publicity agent for the Burley Tobacco Society in 1910 while also serving The American Society of Equity who competed with capital and organized labor on equal terms.

In 1911, Ellis gave numerous talks to support the election campaign of James B. McCreary for governor of Kentucky. It was assumed by many that when McCreary took office, he would appoint Ellis as Adjutant General or Assistant Adjutant General. However, he appointed Colonel William B. Haldeman of Louisville for the top position. General Haldeman claimed his reason for accepting the job was to ensure members of the old Louisville Legion were adequately cared for under the Guard’s reorganization.

On Jan. 8, 1912, Governor McCreary appointed Major J. Tandy Ellis Assistant Adjutant General and promoted him to Colonel.

Haldeman spent the winter of 1911-1912 in Florida, leaving Ellis responsible for a complete reorganization of the State Guard. Ellis set about the business of reorganizing the Kentucky Guard. He traveled the state, ensured units were adequately staffed and organized and mustered in newly formed units.

In March 1912, the Kentucky State Guard was officially reorganized and redesignated the Kentucky National Guard. This redesignation across the nation changed the face of State Guard organizations from a State Militia and made them part of one larger organization, the National Guard. The improvement modernized the Guard with Army-wide standards and access to better training and equipment and provided a viable and dependable reserve force to national emergencies.

Colonel Haldeman resigned his post on April 24, 1912, and Colonel Ellis was appointed Assistant Adjutant General and Acting Adjutant General by Governor McCreary. Ellis would wear these “two hats” until his official appointment, becoming Kentucky’s 26th Adjutant General on Sept. 2, 1914, with the rank of Brigadier General.

Ellis served in the position of Adjutant General during a very critical time in the history of the Kentucky National Guard. The reorganization and redesignation as the Kentucky National Guard, service at the Mexican Border, and deployments in the First World War. He would serve through the administrations of Governors James B. McCreary, A. O. Stanley, and James A. Black until replaced when Governor Edwin P. Morrow took office in 1919.

On July 24, 1912, Gov. McCreary ordered Ellis to travel to Anniston, Al., to inspect and observe the First Brigade during their annual encampment.

Along with other duties as Adjutant General, Tandy had an additional responsibility from Gov. McCreary. When McCreary was sworn in as governor, one of his first official acts was to commission eight men with the rank of colonel as aides de camp on his staff. He did this with the understanding they would lend dignity to all state occasions by appearing in uniform. Adjutant General J. Tandy Ellis, himself a Beau Brummel in uniform, was given the mission to see that the eight “colonels” were present in their full regalia on all occasions.

During the centennial celebration of Perry’s victory on Lake Erie, held near Put-In-Bay, Ohio, Sept. 10, 1913, Gov. McCreary and Brig. Gen. Ellis hoisted the first official Kentucky flag with the motto, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.” The flag flew atop the mast of Commodore George H. Worthington’s yacht, the “Priscilla.”

On July 28, 1914, the First World War began in Europe. Initially, the United States took a policy of strict and imperial impartial neutrality. However, with the German sinking of the Lusitania in May 1915, U.S. public sentiment changed. However, it would not be until April 6, 1917, that the U.S. would declare war on Germany.

Before the U.S. involvement in the First World War, the Kentucky Guard still dealt with the commonwealth’s day-to-day issues.

In December 1914, the governor ordered Ellis to visit Pineville and investigate the necessity for sending troops to capture John Hendrickson and others charged with murder. Upon Ellis’ report, they sent troops to assist with the apprehension of the men.

On Dec. 20, 1915, the newly elected governor, Augustus O. Stanley, re-appointed Ellis as adjutant general with the rank of Brigadier General.

In 1916, Mexican raids into the United States brought a Federal call for National Guard troops to police along the Mexican-American border. Brig. Gen. Ellis mobilized the Kentucky Brigade and sent them to Fort Thomas, June 25, 1916. The Kentuckians were moved near Fort Bliss, Texas, and patrolled a sixty-mile section along the border.

When the Kentuckians returned home in 1917, many of the units were immediately placed on State Active duty or Federal Duty protecting the state from possible sabotage from foreign agents. Most companies were assigned tasks guarding railroads, while others watched over water supplies, military installations, and state buildings.

Kentucky was ordered to bring her units up to full strength, which required an additional 7,000 troops in the Kentucky Guard. A state-wide recruiting campaign was initiated. Additionally, the state was directed to pick a mobilization camp in the state; they chose Camp Stanley in Lexington.

On April 12, 1917, Kentucky received word that all units would be placed on Federal duty on and after April 13. By mid-July, Kentucky units were being sent to Camp Shelby at Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to prepare for service in France.

As the State’s Adjutant General, Ellis got the men ready for Federal activation and deployment to Mississippi. Once that was complete, he began organizing a state force to protect the commonwealth’s citizens while the National Guard was away from home. Ellis proposed a state militia plan or home guard composed of 5,500 men aged between 18 and 48.

On March 26, 1918, the Kentucky Legislature passed a bill appropriating $20,000 to create and maintain a state militia for the duration of the war. They named the militia “The Kentucky State Guard” and spread the organization across the state. The First Regiment, Kentucky State Guards, comprised four Infantry companies out of Louisville, Lexington, Covington, and Paducah.

The Kentucky State Guard was active up until mid-1920 when the Kentucky National Guard was re-established.

In the mid-1920s, Ellis became part of the Midland Chautauqua of Chicago and Lyceum Lecture Circuit and gave lectures and talks at banquets around the Midwest. His seemingly inexhaustible supply of humorous stories interspersed with his singing folk songs kept audiences entertained. Between jokes, Ellis’s tone turned serious as he delivered his homespun philosophies.

In 1923, he wrote syndicated newspaper columns, “Tang of the South” and “Savor of the Soil,” which eventually ran for nearly 20 years in various newspapers across the country. That same year, he unsuccessfully ran for City Commissioner in Lexington as his first and last political campaign.

In November 1923, newly-elected Gov. William J. Fields considered Ellis to fill the position of Adjutant General; however, Jouett Henry, of Christian County, was chosen and appointed.

In 1924, Ellis became the Superintendent of Bridge Tolls within the Kentucky State Highway Commission.

He continued in great demand throughout the South and Midwest as a speaker and entertainer. He performed for veterans’ groups and organizations, Fish and Wildlife, Rotary groups, Kiwanis and Lions Clubs, Funeral Directors’ conventions, Press Associations, Chambers of Commerce, and State Teachers’ Conferences. Ellis remained involved in Democratic politics, but his talks were usually humorous rather than political. As a conservationist, he spoke on behalf of developing the Mammoth Cave Region into a National Park and to the Izaac Walton League of America on numerous other conservation projects.

At the height of Ellis’s popularity, WHAS radio in Louisville broadcasted a dramatization of his columns. Flash of the Flintlock, a movie of an Ellis story, was slated to be filmed in Somerset. Unfortunately, the movie was never actually produced.

On Oct. 24, 1931, Ellis presided over the opening ceremony at Carrollton for U.S. Highway 42, providing his famous burgoo stew for those in attendance. On Nov. 24, he traveled to Washington, D.C., as a guest speaker for the Kentucky Society in Washington at the Willard Hotel.

In 1932, declining health compelled Ellis to end his major touring. He settled into his home at Ghent, which he referred to as “Rambeau Flats” in his newspaper columns.

He once wrote a story lamenting his hometown’s condition. “Today, we linger in the cobwebs,” he said. “Our high school gone; our bank gone; our drug store gone; our lumber and coal yard gone. We had a canning factory once, but that evaporated . . . the town has no scales. We haven’t any hotel, and the tourists lam through town at 70 miles an hour.”

Ellis further regretted that Ghent no longer had its flour mill or its bakery. That Scott’s Restaurant on the east side of town had burned, and that the tavern west of Ghent had closed. Soon after writing the column, the old Ghent College building, where he attended the school that many years before, burned down.

Although in semi-retirement, Ellis kept a busy schedule. He brought his burgoo to the opening of Butler State Park, fed the crowd, and addressed them with “The Greatness of General William O. Butler.” He spoke at an opening ceremony for the “new” Frankfort armory on Oct. 11, 1933. On May 24, 1941, Ellis, a lifelong Mason, was the toastmaster for the Masonic district meeting at Ghent.

In June 1941, Ellis was appointed director of publicity for the Kentucky State Highway Department.

Still in demand as a speaker, Ellis was the principal banquet speaker at the United Amateur Press Association convention at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, July of 1942.

In his address, he told the group, “Kentucky is a land of legend. It is always made the locale for walloping liquor tales, sweeping whiskers, bare feet, and shotguns. Kentucky is famous for its great statemen, doctors, lawyers, and liars.” He went on to say, “A Kentucky lie is a superior specimen of falsehood. In its first telling, it is just a rough draft of its gigantic polished finish, achieved through skillful innovations and additions in village stores and rural kitchens.”

Ellis recalled one of the best of these tales, concerning a Kentucky volunteer during the First World War. During a shelling at the Battle of the Argonne, the captain shouted to his men to be on the ground. Everyone fell down, except for a young man.

“Lay down, you fool!” the captain shouted at him.

“I can’t, sir,” he replied helplessly.

“Why can’t you?” the captain yelled.

“Well, I’ve got a pint of whiskey in my pocket, and it ain’t got no stopper in it.”

Just before his death, Ellis resigned from his position as travel promotion director for the Kentucky Highway Department. For several months he had been in poor health from a heart ailment and confined to his home. On Dec. 9, 1942, at the age of 74, Brig. Gen. James Tandy Ellis died of a heart attack at 4:30 a.m. His wife, the only survivor, found him dead in the bathroom. Ellis was buried with honors in the Masonic Cemetery at Ghent.

Forty-six days later, distraught over the death of her husband of 44 years, Harriet Bainbridge Richardson Ellis committed suicide. They buried her next to her husband.

A Kentucky Highway Historical Marker stands in front of the home of Tandy Ellis, which highlights his accomplishments during his lifetime.

On June 24, 2002, a ceremony honoring two of Kentucky’s Adjutant Generals, Percival Butler and James Tandy Ellis, was held at Butler State Park in Carrollton. A section of U.S. Highway 42 West was named “Butler-Ellis Memorial Highway” in their honor.

At the time of his death, Ellis’s home was described as “a large, two-story brick residence that has been the scene of much entertaining. The Ellis hospitality was known throughout the state. The home contains one of the largest private libraries in the state, including a rare collection of Kentuckiana. Antique dulcimers, harps, and accordions are among the Ellis museum pieces.” Ellis’s papers and other items are housed in the Special Collections at Western Kentucky University.

The Ellis home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In September 2005, it was opened to the public as a bed-and-breakfast. There are claims that Tandy, Harriett, and their daughter Drusilla still haunt the home.

During his lifetime, Ellis was considered one of the nation’s outstanding speakers, story tellers, and writers of life and history of the South. He would use the banjo, piano, and fiddle as background in his storytelling and folklore. Today, Tandy Ellis is forever remembered as “The Greatest Story Teller in America.”

THE STORY OF TANDY CLAUS
There was a little-known, top-secret, and clandestine mission held during the Christmas holiday season of 1926, in which Tandy Ellis played a major role.

“Tandy Claus” greets a young child, 1926. James Tandy Ellis was Kentucky’s 26th Adjutant General. (courtesy image)

His identity and involvement would remain a secret for nearly forty-five years, until the story finally appeared in the pages of the Dec. 19, 1971, edition of The Courier-Journal Magazine.

In the article, retired Louisville newspaperman Malcolm Bayley described behind-the-scenes events regarding the six weeks leading up to Christmas 1926. Mr. Bayley worked for The Courier-Journal and the Louisville Times during the holiday season of 1926 when he was placed in charge of the Reindeer Project.

The Louisville newspaper business in the 1920s was very competitive; editors would try anything to sell papers. In 1926, the Louisville Times and Courier-Journal, in one of their promotional schemes to sell more newspapers, bought eight tiny reindeer from the Lomen brothers of Alaska. The Lomen’s would supply a team of Alaskan reindeer and an Eskimo to care for the animals and be Santa’s driver.

One of the first difficulties Mr. Bayley had to overcome was finding someone to play the part of Santa. He was unable to find anyone local and hesitated on hiring someone from outside the area. He finally contacted his old friend James Tandy Ellis of Ghent. General Ellis was something of a public figure at the time and was hesitant to play the role. But, Bayley was finally able to sell him on the idea by promising to keep his identity secret. Bayley kept Ellis’s public appearances to a minimum and paid him a larger salary than Bayley, himself.

Throughout his entire performance as Santa, General Ellis remained incognito. Each morning, the General would arrive at the costumer’s shop, where he dressed in a back room. He would then take a taxi to Santa Claus Park in downtown Louisville for that day’s activities.

Santa, Topkuk the Eskimo, and Santa’s reindeer visited schools in the Louisville-Jefferson County and Southern Indiana areas during the week and were on exhibit every evening until Christmas Eve, including Saturdays and Sundays.

On Nov. 20, 1926, Santa made his grand entrance into Louisville during the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. On this their first appearance, Bayley related to the following story:

“The team was hitched up by Topkuk, our Eskimo, and Santa climbed aboard. The calliope started playing, and off we went—or should have. The darn reindeer wouldn’t pull the harness! Mr. Lomen hadn’t told us about this. They weren’t even broken to a halter. But, Topkuk was equal to the emergency. He took the reins, attached them to the lead deer’s halters, and literally dragged deer, sleigh, Santa Claus, and all about 20 miles up and down the streets of Louisville until they reached the corral.

“Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder, and Blitzen had a lot fancier names before they reached home base—some of them uttered in choicest—but, fortunately not understandable—Eskimo.
Before making another trip, Bayley came up with the idea of hiring a scenery flat, a 40-foot long truck used to haul theatrical scenery for road companies. He had constructed on the flat a winter scene, complete with Eskimo igloo. Mounted on the flat, Santa, Eskimo, reindeer, and sleigh could be whisked over the country in no time.”

In his narrative, Bayley stated that General Ellis nearly walked out on him during an out-of-town engagement at one-point. Santa and his helper usually stuck their plan. They drove into town in the mounted sleigh, in all their glory, and drove out the same way. When the weather was biting cold, Bayley would stop outside of the town and let Santa ride in the heated car with him.

Bayley continued with the story, “We were a little late pulling out of Seymour, Indiana, one afternoon and was anxious to make Bedford and the high school there by 4 p.m. All the grammar-school kids in town would be waiting for us, packed into the gymnasium. We had one brief stop scheduled on the way to Bedford, at Brownstown, 13 miles out of Seymour.

James Tandy Ellis dressed as Santa Claus, 1926. (courtesy image)


“I was in so much of a hurry that I had driven six miles out of town before I remembered that we had left Santa in the sleigh. I stopped, and he clambered down slowly. As he approached with a half-frozen, stiff-legged gait, I could see he was not the same jolly, good-natured fellow who had left half Seymour laughing and waving good-bye. Something more than the keen wind seemed to make him more red-faced than usual. Actually, he was so cold–and his face so stiff–that it was 15 minutes before he could limber up his tongue and lips sufficiently to curse me out in round Kentucky oaths.”

Needless to say, Santa refused to appear at Brownstown and Topkuk the Eskimo had to stand in.

The general did not fully forgive Mr. Bayley for this incident until later that evening when Bayley managed to get Ellis a dish of spareribs and sauerkraut for his dinner.

General Ellis played Santa up to the 24th day of December, when he handed out toys to 3,000 children at the Strand Theatre in Louisville, during Santa’s Party hosted by The Courier-Journal and Louisville Times.

In speaking of General Ellis’ performance as Santa, Mr. Bayley had this to say, “The old boy could handle a crowd like a swamp-root doctor in a medicine show. He had the kids eating out of his hand. At every school, they crowded around him to hear his stories. They would even desert the Eskimo and the reindeer to hear him.”

The identity of the 1926 Santa remained the secret of Mr. Bayley until his article in 1971, thirty years after the death of his good friend, James Tandy Ellis.

And what is the morale of this story? Beware, you Adjutant Generals of Kentucky of old friends begging favors, especially during the holiday season.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

Initial Roster of Company C, Third Kentucky (Green River Guards)
James Tandy Ellis – Captain
Hamden W. Fugua – First Lieutenant
S. L. King – Second Lieutenant
Rufus Walp – First Sergeant
Peyton Basham – Third Sergeant
Louis R. Dupuy – Fourth Sergeant
Will Pate – Fifth Sergeant
Thomas R. Higgins – Quartermaster Sergeant
Pat Grady – First Corporal
Wilson Wright – Second Corporal
Will W. Holderman – Third Corporal
Samuel E. Gipe – Fourth Corporal
Hope Gates – Fifth Corporal
Arthur Chapman – Sixth Corporal
Owen Lewis – Seventh Corporal
Cary Gordon – Eight Corporal
William O. Hardin – Ninth Corporal
Norben Cooke – Tenth Corporal
William Athy – Chief Bugler
PRIVATES
Ambrose, Arthur
Anderson, George I.
Beaty, Charles
Bennett, John S.
Brannon, Mason
Brashear, A. P.
Cohen, W. T.
Cooke, Needham
Cottrell, Joe
Cureton, Ed
Dawson, A.W.
Ferguson, J. R.
Ferguson, Leo
Forbes, Charles C.
Fuqua, Joe, Jr.
Gipe, Ed
Gipe, George
Girvin, Herman
Gordon, Cary
Gordon, Elmer
Grady, Will
Graham, J. H.
Griffith, Clint
Hays, Rolla R.
Head, Herbert
Hickman, Will
Higgins, Thomas R.
Hocker, L. B.
Howard, Charles B.
Hughes, Edwin C.
Keifner, George
Keifner, T. W.
Kennady, Stanford
Kirk, John
Leach, J. S.
Leibfried, George
Lewis, Owen
Lifford, George
Loving, Luther
Mattingly, M. P.
Mischel, George N.
Monarch, Thomas R.
Moore, Clarence
Moorman, Henry D.
Moorman, Jesse T.
Ratican, Ken
Simmons, B.H.
Slack, R. T.
Slack, W. M.
Stephens, John M.
Stewart, George
Theiss, Jake
Thornsberry, Marvin
Ward, Bishop
Weldon, James E.
Willis, C.A.
Wright, Harry
Young, J. A.
Zulauf, Tyler

Tandy Ellis’s Famous Burgoo Recipe:
Tandy Ellis, fancied himself an authority on “camp cooking,” publishing a booklet on the subject in 1923. His famous Kentucky breakfast has appeared in books and newspapers across the country over the years. “It was said that Tandy Ellis once remarked that a Kentucky breakfast consisted of a beef steak, a quart of bourbon whiskey and a hound dog, the dog, of course, was to eat the steak.”

He once told a friend how to prepare a carp for dinner. “First, skin the carp and take out the mud vein. Soak it in strong salt water, then in clear cold water. Get a nice oak board and fasten the fish to it. Place in front of a nice bed of hot coals from hickory wood. Baste the carp with its sauce. Roast until nice and brown. Then throw the carp away and eat the board.”

Ellis was well known for his possum suppers. For more than 20 years, Ellis would close Democratic campaigns in Anderson County with a rally at Tyrone or Alton, climaxed with a possum supper with sweet potatoes, hominy, cornbread, and coffee.

He was best known for his burgoo recipe, which he cooked for large gatherings such as ceremonies and political rallies. His recipe remains in cookbooks today.

Burgoo Ingredients-
2 pounds beef cut from the shank (soup bone included)
½ pounds lamb (baby lamb, not mutton)
1 medium-sized chicken
2 cups diced potatoes
Red pepper to taste (1 small pod, or more to taste)
3 cups corn cut from the cob (young field corn is best)
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 “toe” of garlic
2 cups diced onions
1 cup fresh butterbeans or 1 package frozen butterbeans
3 carrots, diced
1 cup minced parsley
2 green peppers, diced, seeds removed
2 cups okra, diced or cut in rings
4 quarts water, or more if soup cooks too thick
12 tomatoes or 1 quart can

Burgoo Preparation-
Put the beef, lamb, and dismembered chicken in a soup kettle with water, salt, black and red pepper. An old-fashioned iron kettle was specified by Ellis, but any heavy aluminum or metal kettle with a tight-fitting lid will do. Let this come to a hard boil, reduce the heat, and simmer about 2 hours with the lid on. Add potatoes, onions, and at intervals of 10 minutes, the butterbeans, carrots, green peppers. Then add corn and simmer for 2 hours or until the mixture seems very thick. Watch closely, so it does not stick. Add more water from time to time if necessary, but use as little as possible. Add okra, tomatoes, and garlic and let simmer another 1 ½ hours, or until these vegetables, too, are done and blended with the others. Ellis insisted that the stew should cook for 7 hours, but 4 to 5 hours should be sufficient. As soon as the soup is removed from the stove, stir in the parsley. This soup improves by standing and can be kept for a long time in the refrigerator. It is delicious when reheated. Serve with corn pones and follow it with a piece of pie—a most satisfactory repast, Kentucky style (Marion Flexner, Out of Kentucky Kitchens, 1949).

Books by James Tandy Ellis:
Tandy Ellis was a prolific writer, contributing articles to newspapers, magazines and other periodicals; published numerous books of poems and stories and sketches of Southern life. Ellis’s writings evoke an earlier Kentucky dialect, of which he was considered a master. Today, it is dated and difficult for today’s reader, and sadly a condescending view of “colored” citizens is expressed in some of his works.
Poems by Ellis 1898
Sprigs o’ Mint 1906
Pebbles 1908
Awhile in the Mountains 1909
Kentucky Stories 1909
Shawn of Skarrow 1911
Camp Cooking 1923
Sycamore Bend 1923
The Tang of the South 1924
Colonel Torkey Shabb 1925
Tang of the South Stories,
Volume II, second series 1925

Songs by James Tandy Ellis:
“Ooze Little Lamb is OO?” 1895
“Loves’ Returning” 1895
“Mary” 1898
“The Kentucky Colonel” 1898
“My Savior’s Blessed Eyes” 1923
“When You Talk About Old Glory;
Just Say Kentucky Too” 1923

Tandy Ellis’ first notable poem, “Back to Old Kentucky”
I want to git back,
And I’m yearnin’ to-day
For the sweet scenes of old
An’ the folks far away.
I want to git back
Whar the bluegrass grows,
Whar the breeze whispers music
An’ love as it blows;
Whar skies are the softest
An’ sunlight steals
O’er the golden terbacker
An’ broad hemp fields,
Back in old Kentucky.

I want to git back
Whar the women all are
The sweetest an’ fairest
Uv earth, by far.
I want to git back
Jes’ to hear the ring
Uv their lafter ag’in;
I would give anything
Fer the moonlight nights
When we used to go
To parties an’ dances,
An’ such an’ so,
Back in old Kentucky.

I want to git back
Whar the swift trained feet
Uv the race-horse thunder—
It’s music sweet.
I want to git back
to the old-time hills,
Where the corn-juice runs
Frum the old distills.
I want to git back—
Yes, the good Lord knows,
I want to git back
Whar the Bluegrass grows,
Back in old Kentucky.

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