Lilley Cornett: A Voice for the Forest

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The Paul Sawyier Public Library, together with Kentucky Chautauqua, presents "Lilley Cornett: A Voice for the Forest".

In the first two decades of the 20th century an industrial juggernaut invaded Eastern Kentucky. Timber, coal, and railroad companies forced overnight change on a culture that had been stable for a century. Lilley Cornett, born on Linefork Creek in Letcher County, faced all this with optimism and an eye toward a better future. But this new world was full of unforeseen danger and deceit from unexpected sources.

After being drafted for the war, Lilley returned home to face a new world with grit and ingenuity. Using his army pension and money earned from card game winnings during a stay at Walter Reed Army Hospital, Lilley purchased 500 acres of old growth timber on Pine Mountain. Determined to ward off the timbercutters, the chestnut blight triggered his final confrontation with outside forces and shaped his savagely funny revenge on a hapless local timber operator.

Lilley Cornett is portrayed by David Hurt, a retired farmer who has picked the guitar and banjo on front porches from Reelfoot to Red River. He has acted at Stage One in Louisville as well as in Lexington theaters. Hurt also portrays Grandpa Jones for Kentucky Chautauqua.

Kentucky Chautauqua is an exclusive presentation of Kentucky Humanities with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Christina Lee Brown, the Carson-Myre Charitable Foundation, and PNC.


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