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“The centuries old Red River Maple makes an awesome pen. It’s like holding a piece of history in your hand. There are no two alike, each of them are a one of a kind. Just like the individuals that attended the Red River Revival Meeting House in 1800.”
– Ray Hughes

These pens came from the big maple that stood at The Meeting House in Logan County, Kentucky. The tree was there when Peter Cartwright preached, James McGreedy prayed, and heaven listened. Through the days of the pioneer circuit riders it shaded feasts and festivals and fiery preachers. It stood through the shouting revivals and outpourings as God moved and the world changed… This is the place of the beginning of one of the greatest awakenings in history.

Lightning struck the tree a few years ago. There was a danger of it falling and crushing the old meeting house. It was to be cut down and hauled away to be destroyed. It came to my attention and I was able to get the whole tree. I sent trucks to Kentucky and brought it to Alabama. We had it milled and began this creative and adventurous way of telling the story of redemption. Now, we are hand-making these one of a kind pens for those who will value them like we do and tell the story. The grain in the pens is stunning. We are careful to leave the natural beauty of the aged wood intact. It’s kind of like holding a piece history in your hand and writing the future all at the same time.


Ray lives within earshot of the Singing River near Muscle Shoals, Alabama. He has traveled the world for over 40 years as an author, storyteller, songwriter, and poet. He is passionate about creativity and training creative people. He is also passionate about biscuits, old guitars, and looking gift horses in the mouth (but not necessarily in that order). He doesn’t trust people that good dogs don’t like.

Honor Gifts

Some years ago people began giving me very nice quality pens as tokens of appreciation, honor gifts. And I must say that I was a bit surprised as to how it touched me when they did so. I think when you give someone a special pen as an honor gift you are saying, I bless you with this pen because I value what you have to say, your words have impacted my life. You are saying how important they are to you, which always adds beauty to a relationship/friendship.

There’s another expression of honor that I think important. I have found that the most harmful words in the world are the un-spoken I love you’s. Nothing is more powerful and painful than their silence. Are they more harmful to the one that didn’t speak or the one who didn’t hear?

Silence is a mystery. I think Poets and writers and those who journal are stewards of thought and guardians of memory. People dedicated to find the threshold where silence and language meet. Where beauty delights to find it’s voice and speaks up. And, when someone sends me a piece of wood from a 200 year old barn built by their ancestors, or an old door from their childhood home. It tells me that someone is being honored and someone is breaking the silence.


Red River Turning Company is an Emergent Company. Being a part of Emergent means we contribute to influencing the business and political communities by giving back so much — progress and personal welfare become unavoidable. Maybe it’s audacious, but we think we’re a part of leaving the world in a better state than we found it through our collective good will and giveback.

These three principles are the foundational values that drive everything we do:
destiny, authenticity, and radical generosity.