A story from Reid's Telegraph in America (p. 216)
Near the town of Russellville, a Baptist preacher, of Campbellite proclivities, and not without talent, held forth semi - occasionally to the denizens of the region between Russellville and Pikeville. The country was wretchedly poor. In 1854 there had been an unusually long drought. In one of his sermons, while depicting with fervid oratory the general cussedness of the race, he exclaimed: "See there, my friends, out along the road thar a set of men have dared to interfere with the Almighty's lightning, and what, my friends, is the consequence? They have robbed the atmosphere of its electricity, the rains are checked, and there has not been a good crop since the wires were put up, and what's more, I believe we never will have any until they are gone." Curiously enough, a great many intelligent people encouraged and not a few believed the preacher's philosophy. Immediately, a wild excitement spread. It was difficult, to be sure, to connect a thread of iron running through the air with the parched soil and the famished land. But the very mystery made the belief take root. The wire was the devil's turnpike, sure. And so down went the poles by the dozen, and away went the wire by the mile, dragged by an angry and excited mob through Russellville, in triumphant avengement of their wrongs. It was difficult to know what to do in such a case. Dr. Green once thought to try my powers over the people, but, as I had by this time settled at Philadelphia, he decided to go himself. His Superintendent, in 1854, was A. E. Trabue, a lively character and a genius. He is known to the craft as the author of "Short Cirkut." Picking him up at Nashville, on his way south, the first movement made was an aggressive one, and, although the telegraph protection law had been abrogated, about a dozen of the ringleaders were arrested and put in jail at Pikeville. But it did not do much good. The jail at Pikeville was a kind of chicken coup, which the imprisoned men easily lifted by the corner, upset, and escaped. Trabue now suggested a barbecue, hired a big room, bought a good - sized pig for a roast, a few turkeys and other jim - jams, which need not be mentioned, hired a couple of expert fiddlers and invited everybody to a dance. The whole population turned out, and it looked like a grand success. The mirth and fun "grew fast and furious. "Trabue, to be sure, was knocked through the back door, down the hill, by a buxom widow who had danced him blind, but the dance, even with this deduction, was a success.
So long, however, as the rain delayed to fall, the influence of the Baptist preacher's theology kept the hostility to the wires alive. The repairer of the region recommended war. His name was Nipe. He and Trabue concocted a scheme by which Nipe was suddenly to disappear, and his clothes were to be found, torn and bloody. On this evidence of murder, a number of arrests were to be made, and the prospect of a general hanging held out. So thoroughly in earnest was Trabue, that the project was referred to the executive at Louisville. But Nipe's murder was forbidden. It was on this trip that Dr. Green first met his future Superintendent, Van Horne, detecting, beneath his quiet exterior, the qualities which have since distinguished him as a man and officer, and led to his present elevated and responsible trust. The year following, Van Horne was Superintendent. He and Bart. Brady, my old and faithful foreman of repairs, changed the programme for the treatment of the mountaineers. George V. Rutherford, an ingenious, humorous and politic man, well - known in telegraphic circles, and who died August 28, 1876, at St. Helena, Cal., was stationed at Russellville. As soon as the circuit was found to be broken, it was quietly and quickly restored, when possible, at night, and utter silence maintained. Finally, by aid of one of those ubiquitous men, who are everywhere and know everything, Van Horne ascertained that a man of ability, and not unknown in the State Senate, had organized a kind of Ku - Klux band to keep the line down. His speech at the meeting, and the time of the proposed first raid were fully reported. Van Horne and Brady put up, near the proposed spot of the attack, provided with a quantity of small wire. At the appointed time, true to the information received, the circuit was gone, and some miles of the wire quickly removed. The leader of the movement cunningly remained at home. Allowing time for the departure of the raiders, the new wire was speedily and quietly strung. Shortly afterward, at a great sale, where a crowd of men had gathered, all, as was customary, carrying guns, Van Horne saw the leader there and had him publicly arrested. A State law, by this time, had been passed, making interference with the wires a criminal offense. At his examination, the leader was astonished at the evidence against him, and which Van Horne skillfully confirmed by his own men. This prompt and vigorous action, a politic treatment of other offenders, the coming of abundant rain and good crops, at last brought peace, the wires had rest, and were soon after removed to the railroad.