Cas Walker was notorious for his business successes, being mayor of Knoxville and for helping talented youngsters like Dolly Parton and the Everly Brothers get a good start in entertainment. He said it was only through God’s grace that he was able to survive long enough to do any of this.
It was tough growing up in the Smoky Mountains area in the early 1900’s, an era with a lot of mayhem and little law enforcement. Walker’s dad shot George Lane in the leg requiring it to be amputated. Lane’s grandson, Cas Lane, decided to take it out on young Cas Walker instead of his dad. He contrived a plan to kill him.
Although only 14 or 15 years old, young Cas Walker decided to see if he could get a job at the sawmill where his brother worked across the state line in Smokemont, North Carolina.
“My brother worked at the sawmill and made a dollar and fifty cents per day and got to stay in a shack at the mill,” Cas explained. “They were hiring two more at that rate, so I said I could do both jobs for three dollars a day and told them I would do a good job for them. They said they’d try me out doing both jobs but for only $2.75 a day. I tried it but soon learned it was too hard for a youngster.”
When Cas walked the five or six miles back home, the grandson of the man who lost his leg in the earlier shooting began laying plans to kill him. Walker was asleep when his nemesis showed up at the house saying Cas’ sister Lydia wanted to see her brother and had sent him to fetch young Cas Walker. Cas didn’t want to go because he was afraid of him, but his mother suggested that he should go in that he hadn’t seen his sister on his last three visits back home.
“So I drug myself out of bed and got dressed,” Walker began in explaining what he would later call his date with the devil. “We started out even though I didn’t trust him. He was carrying a piece of hickory that he called a walking stick. He was walking behind me. I was afraid of him and suggested that he walk in front. He hit me on the head so hard it knocked me unconscious. I didn’t know it at the time, but I rolled into a ditch. When I started waking up, he went to hitting me again. Time after time, he hit me and knocked me out again. He thought I was dead and drug me across a field and threw me down into a big sinkhole.
“It had to be the Lord that let me start breathing again at about four o’clock in the morning. He had left. I started pushing off big rocks he had put or threw down on me. I couldn’t have moved those rocks if it hadn’t been for Lord Jesus. I started scratching my way up out of that hole I was in. I couldn’t have walked out even if I could. It was so steep I had to crawl, pulling my way up with my fingers and digging into the soft earth with my toes. Once I got out of the sinkhole, I was hurt so bad I had to crawl across the field to the road that was made from river rock.
“I still couldn’t stand up. I started thinking strongly about the Lord, because I knew I might die. I began crawling toward home although I didn’t think I could possibly get that far. I prayed all the way until I saw the house. They had already been to bed and gotten up at 6 o’clock, worrying about me. My mother and brother came to me where I was still crawling on the ground. They couldn’t believe how bad I was hurt, how bad I looked.
“Cas Lane thinks he’s killed me, but the Lord saved me,” he told them. “You and Hobart carry me to bed and I think the Lord will see to it that I’ll be all right.”
Later that afternoon, after much sleep and rest, Cas Walker walked into the living room and rejoined the living. It was with much difficulty, but the walking wounded still looked like the walking dead to them.
“As soon as you’re well enough, Cas, I’m gonna send you over to Kentucky before those Lane boys kill you,” his dad said. “I saw where they dug a fresh grave, but I didn’t know that it was for you. I don’t want you in it, so I think it best to send you over to Kentucky with Bill Free. You can board with Bud Messer until everything is all right aroun’ here.”
Cas said that was straight talk and he agreed that it was best that he leave for Kentucky. His dad said he would let him know when it was safe to come back home.
Copyright 2021 Jadon Gibson. Jadon Gibson is a freelance writer from Harrogate.