Fruits of their labor

| September 01, 2006

Dee Fraley (1852-1917) started the family in the produce-hauling business in the late 1800s.

1880 was the year the first streetlight was installed in Wabash, Ind.; Thomas Edison performed his first test of an electric railway in Menlo Park, N.J.; and James Garfield defeated Winfield S. Hancock for the presidency.

It also was the year that Dee Fraley began hauling produce on a horse-drawn wagon and logs on a mule-drawn sled in eastern Kentucky. What he probably couldn’t imagine then was that five generations later, many of his decedents would be making their living in similar fashion.

Produce is the backbone of the Fraley family. Many of them have been hauling and selling fruits and vegetables for more than 125 years in same basic geographical area. Kentuckiana – northern Kentucky and southern Indiana – is Fraley country.

“If all the Fraley who are into trucking had consolidated, we probably could have cornered the market on produce hauling in Kentuckiana,” says LauraLee Fraley. “Still we control a huge amount of the business in this area.”

With more than 40 drivers in the extended Fraley clan and 1,200 years of drivers still active in the industry, Truckers News has selected them as the 2006 Great American Trucking Family. They will receive their award Aug. 25, prior to the Mobil Delvac-sponsored Aaron Tippin concert at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas.

According to LauraLee – who when not driving enjoys genealogy – the Fraleys have a pioneering spiriting that goes back many years before Dee got involved in moving goods. The Fraleys were one of the first five families to enter the Kentucky territory. As associates of Daniel Boone, they helped build the first forts and learned to survive the hostile frontier setting.

Fraleys were noted for their skills in dealing with American Indians and helping guide early settlers in wagon trains across the territory and to points farther west.

Dee started out driving a stage coach between Maysville, Ky., and Louisville. Then he shuttled people to port cities along the Ohio River. As his children got old enough to travel with him, he started hauling fresh vegetables in his wagons.

Dee’s three sons, Hiram, Jim and John Thomas, built on their father’s chosen field of work and expanded the profession.

Hiram’s children included Hiram, Harlan and Bunny. The younger Hiram raised truck drivers: Mark, Ronnie, Doug, Clarence and Randy. He enlisted the help of his wife Marguerite and the children to run Fraley’s Produce Market in Sellersburg, Ind., from the early 1950s to a couple of months ago when it closed because of Hiram’s poor health. For more than five decades, this branch of the family bought and hauled all its own produce.

Jim Fraley had two sons: Clarence and Roy. Clarence was a trucker based in St. Louis. His sons, Jerry, James, Jeff, Dennis and John are carrying on his legacy. James’ son, James Jr. is also a trucker, as are Jeff’s sons Chris and Jeffery.

John Thomas had four sons, James, Sherman, Bobby and Wendell. Sherman is still involved in the industry, and so is his fifth-generation grandson Jeremy Perkinson. Wendall still drives, and his son Tim is an owner-operator. Bobby and his son David also are still driving.

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