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All Our Children: 1964

Leatherwood, Kentucky, 1964. "Entire Cornett family on porch; Willie, Vivian and twelve children." Print from  35mm negative by William Gedney. Gedney Photographs and Writings Collection, Duke University. View full size.

Leatherwood, Kentucky, 1964. "Entire Cornett family on porch; Willie, Vivian and twelve children." Print from 35mm negative by William Gedney. Gedney Photographs and Writings Collection, Duke University. View full size.

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Today’s Top 5

Weaker vessel

Wow, no wonder the earth is becoming over-populated!

Also, let's just clarify that god didn't write the bible, sexist goat-herding men did. Read it thoroughly and you'll realize that the authors are very clear that they consider women lesser in every way than men. Nice try though.

Love conquereth all

My first thought is that the mother, Vivian (name of my last child), was the mortar in the wall comprising this fortress. I'll bet her every child loved her fiercely, and she them. Dads are harder to figure out, often aloof, and shielded by kids and mother from the daily trials.

It can't have been easy, but I am sure they were basically happy. Vivian died relatively young. My hope is that she had many grandkids close by in her last six or seven years.

[Vivian had plenty of grandkids in just a few years, as the 1972 photos show. - Dave]

That Could Be Me

on the far left standing on the porch. I was 4 years old in 1964. I wasn't anywhere near Kentucky then, but I would have liked to have known this family if I were. No frills living and I'll bet Mother Cornett always had lunch ready for other neighborhood kids that were playing there that day. I'd like to see a current family tree for this clan - probably quite a few grand and great-grandkids by now.

[No doubt, although I don't know if you could say that this rural household was part of any neighborhood. - Dave]

If I may Pollyanna this a bit

It was God Who proclaimed woman the "weaker vessel" and He is most certainly no "damned fool." What He meant was, most women are weaker physically than most men. Emotionally, it has been my experience that women are generally more so than men, at least superficially, but when push comes to shove and there's a crisis on the home front, the woman's inner strength kicks in and often exceeds the man's. And having known the glory of motherhood four times myself, and being able to state unequivocally that my children are the best things that have ever happened to me apart from their own father, I believe Mrs. Cornett, despite her obvious life of hardship economically speaking, was blissful in motherhood and overall a happy woman. I hope she's still with us and if not, that she lived long and that those kids cherished her the way they ought to have done, to the very end. And I hope they still miss her.

What matters most

It's easy to make fun and belittle people who are less fortunate and impoverished, but I'll bet their lives were a lot richer than most. Education, money and mean-spirited wit -- those things are valuable to the small minded. Kindness, compassion, and good manners are far better things to value. I'd say that everyone in that photo looks happy, in spite of their impoverished circumstances. That's one up on most people these days.

How many are alive today?

It's only 46 years, but accidents do happen.

I bet that every one of those surviving have an internet connection in their home. That is how much things have changed.

I do so hope to be here in another 46 years.

My grandma

My paternal grandmother bore 18 kids, 17 before she was 29! Yep, these people could be my relatives. My parents are from Oklahoma and Kansas, BTW, but these could definitely be my relatives!

I'd like to see a book made of their lives

They all look happy and healthy. Wish we could follow up with them - what a great book that would be! Mom and Dad deserve kudos for being strong adults.

Fit and trim

Notice that none of the kids are fat. Or the parents. Lots of hard work and play in that family. Who says kids have it better today?

Cornett Hospitality

I found some more photos and info about the photographer here. He stayed with the family in their home for 11 days in 1964 and revisited them in 1972.

Now that takes ingenuity

and fortitude to raise 12 kids as an unemployed coal worker (or his wife!) They look like a pretty happy bunch overall.

Let me be the first to say

"Good night, John-Boy!"

Not buying it

Who ever anointed women "the weaker sex" was a damned fool.


12 kids, 2 adults = three pairs of shoes and one pair of flip-flops. Not too many socks got lost in this house.

What's in the box?

Just the requisite stuff for any kid growing up in Kentucky in the 60's -- an American Cyanamid dynamite crate.

Actually, she was pregnant "only" 9 years

108 months divided by 12 is 9 years not 12 (assuming no multiple births and no more kids after this picture). A nice looking family. I was 6 years old when this was taken and I thought one of my neighbors with eight kids was a big family. But what did I know being only 6?


I'll betcha!

"High Explosives"

What exactly WAS in the box, bottom left? Great pic. Betcha she dipped snuff.

More than a Part Time Job

She was pregnant a total of 108 months - or 12 nine years. Holy smokes.

[Assuming there were no multiple births. - Dave]

They're out there now has ten Cornetts from Leatherwood High School in this era. Before long Shorpy will be hearing from them!

Share and share alike

I would be willing to bet there was not even one spoiled brat in the entire dozen.

Handsome Family

Wow, what a great-looking family. Even if the brother in the back on our right does give me a bit of that "Deliverance" feeling.

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