Kumpthing – A Horse With a Desire to Live and Die in the Hills of Tennessee

I received a beautifully written and moving narrative of a beloved horse named Kumpthing that etched out its place in the hearts of one area family.

Bill and Ginny Adams, former city residents and graduates of Science Hill High School, own the family farm in Jonesborough where they soon plan to retire. Bill related this touching story that began on April 17, 1965: “The first time we saw the big chestnut colt with the partially white tail, we knew right away that he was going to become ours and something told us that he knew even before we did that we were going to become his.”

While living in Illinois, the family purchased Kumpthing for their young daughters – Dawn, Dian, and Denice. The steed, officially registered as “Something Chief,” was foaled on a farm that gave common names to their horses that began with a “K.”

In the spring of 1974, the family took Kumpthing on a visit to the family’s East Tennessee farm. According to Bill: “It had lush green pastures, groves of trees all around and water flowing from natural springs. The view is southward toward the Smoky Mountains, near the Nolichucky River, and not far from the Appalachian Trail.”

The gentle horse was allowed to run free with numerous other pasturing inhabitants that included a 1200-pound Charlois bull named “Buck.” The new guest immediately began to fit in with the other grazers. Each evening, he would lead the herd to the barn, where he had his own private stall and would be fed grain by Grandpa “Major” Adams, referring to Ward Bond’s portrayal of Major Seth Adams on TV’s “Wagon Train.”

Bill and family soon returned to their Illinois home without their horse. In 1976, they relocated to Chesterfield, MO.To appease his girls, Bill traveled to his farm and brought the horse back to a nice well-equipped stable near their new residence.  The family returned to their East Tennessee residence in early summer of the following year and again brought Kumpthing with them.

“Upon arrival and his release from the trailer,” said Bill, “he took off at full gallop, kicking up his heels, as he raced up the lane and across the meadow toward a grove where the cattle were laying.” When the time came for the family to return to Missouri, the horse balked and resisted efforts to put him in the trailer. They reluctantly decided to let him stay at the farm.

Prior to the death of “Major” Adams in later years, the family leased the farm’s pasture to a good friend and neighbor known as “Preacher,” who allowed Kumpthing to continue his relaxed and carefree lifestyle. While in East Tennessee, the steed developed a lot of “Cow,” meaning a horse with the ability to work calves that are being cut from herds in competition. He eventually became known as the “King of the Cows.”

Sad news arrived at the Adams household in the spring of 2000, about the time of the animal’s 35thbirthday. Bill recalls that awful day: “We received a call from ‘Preacher’ telling us that he had found Kumpthing dead that morning, lying peacefully under one of the white pine trees that he loved, with the cattle standing close around. After regaining our composure and drying our eyes, we asked him to select a spot at the top of the highest point on the hill overlooking the Smoky Mountains to the south and to lay him to rest there.”

The family came back to their farm with a specially prepared marker for their favorite pet’s grave and to say goodbyes to an extraordinary friend that preferred living and dying in the foothills of East Tennessee.