‘Pistol Packin’ Woman’ coming to Bell Co.

Published 5:41 am Wednesday, November 7, 2018

“I’d rather be in Pineville Jail,

With my back all covered in lice,

Than to be here in old Hughes coal mines

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Digging coal at Hughes price.”

The moving spirit behind these song lyrics will return to Pineville this month as Anne Shelby appears as Aunt Molly Jackson, Pistol Packin’ Woman at the historic Bell Theatre in downtown Pineville.

Presented by Pineville Players, #betweentheacts as part of Kentucky Humanities Kentucky Chautauqua series, the show portrays Aunt Molly as she was was while serving as midwife and as a union organizer in Bell and the surrounding counties during the labor wars of the 1930s.

Born Mary Magdalene Garland in Clay County, Kentucky, she later married Bill Jackson and through him became a supporter of coal miners and their families, organizing miners and writing folk songs to further their cause.

An intimate of writer Theodore Dreiser, folksinger Woody Guthrie and others, Jackson was forced to leave Kentucky following the 1931 Battle of Evarts. She returned to her native land sporadically following that and died in relative poverty and obscurity in Sacramento, California in 1960.

Her best known songs of the miners’ plight include “Kentucky Miners’ Wife’s Hungry Ragged Blues,” and “Fare Ye Well Old Ely Branch.”

Aunt Molly Jackson, Pistol Packin’ Woman will begin at 7 p.m. on Nov. 17 in the historic Bell Theatre.

There is no admission fee for the program; however, the Pineville Players will be accepting memberships at that time for Patrons of Pineville Players, #betweentheacts.