BUT THE feud years, bloody and hideous though they were, were not given over entirely to mayhem and murder. In this era the first faltering steps were taken toward a public school system and a few gaunt, graceless "meetinghouses" were built for public worship.
Kentucky as a whole has lagged behind the rest of the nation in almost every field of government and public service, primarily because the fiercely independent and uncooperative mentality of the frontier hunter-farmer has remained so deeply and tenaciously embedded in the mass psyche. And the frontier modes have endured in no other part of the state to such a marked degree as in the isolated and land-locked valleys of the plateau.
An essential element of the frontier mind was a jesting abhorrence of the intellectual. Thoroughly content with the uncouth frontier world about him, the pioneer tended offhandedly to reject all discussion and consideration of ideas in the abstract. Things and people -- food, whiskey, heat, cold, shelter, enmities, sexual gratification, birth and death -- were the ingredients of his life. These he could understand and appreciate. Beyond them he seldom allowed his thoughts or aspirations to stray. It is not remarkable, then, that the state was nearly a century old when the first hesitant efforts were made in the direction of Thomas Jefferson's great dream of a broadly based, free system of public schools.
This stark and popular anti-intellectualism has manifested itself throughout the history of Kentucky whenever reform groups have undertaken to expand or improve the public schools. For nearly seventy-