The Old People

The old people you see today who were of the South all went through on about an average. Everybody was neighborly and the latch string was always on the outside of the door. A traveler who was caught at night where you lived was always entertained without cost, which occurred quite often as the towns were few and far between and the mode of transportation was nearly always horseback or in wagon and maybe an ox wagon. The owner of a painted store bought horse wagon was considered getting ahead. Some would wonder why people where we were should be so far behind, for various reasons. The Civil War cleaned the South of most of its wealth, and also many of its sons. Our part of the country was new - material to improve with was high in price and at a great distance off.

That same year F. bought about 40 acres of brushy land from
Wm Lawrence and built a three room house. That fall late, Bro[ther] Logan and I had to pull & pile & burn cockleburs off a 40 acre field of my grandmother's as it had been rented for the next seasons crop. In addition, at odd times we were set to grubbing and burning the brush off of the new land that had been purchased. Father built a brush fence around this 40 acres, a very sorry fence as it needed repairing constantly it seemed.

All the children who were old enough attended school 3 months thru the winter and I should say in parentheses our working hours were after returning from school & Saturday. Sunday was a rest day for all of us, after Sunday school & preaching as F. was a fundamentalist on keeping Sunday.

Spring of '76 - a man by name of
Albert worked for F. He did the plowing and we boys did the hoeing. The crops were only fair that year but our little bunch of cattle were multiplying, so we were able to hold our heads up a little higher in the financial world. After the crops were harvested, our schooling were looked after with more zeal.

Our neighbors were all fine people.
John Williams on the North, Wm Lawrence on the South, Wm Riley on the East, and Grand Mother Coffee N W. Also old John Bass, with a Negro family also N E. Aunt Peggy, we called the Negro woman, would come over and help mother out with her work whenever called on, and at hog-killing time, Uncle John would be on hand with a sharp butcher knife.  He was rather an expert at cleaning & dressing a hog. Then would be the making sausage - hog-head cheese and so. Our Negro neighbors always accepted something other than money for their services.

For a diversion and fun some times we would slip away on Sundays with old Ring, an expert on chasing and tracing cottontails into hollow trees. We boys got to be experts also in twisting them out after old Ring had done the work. Sometimes on Sat eve if we were up with our work, we could go to the creek for a swim which was always a treat to us boys.

F. was elected county commissioner of our commissioners precinct in the year 76, which took up considerable of his time away from home. Also he was trading some with neighbors besides freighting as hauling cotton to market & goods back to merchants. We boys were by this time large enough to carry on the farm work, as my age then was 14. At that age a boy was considered old enough to do a man's work. Not often a boy of the country had much time to loaf Sunday and some time of Saturday. We boys were at liberty when we put in at the old swimming hole on Sat, and Sunday to church when there were services. As I was the oldest of the children, it was my job to go to mill with a turn of corn & have it ground into cornmeal which was our principal staff of life which had to be repeated weekly. F. with all the family except Logan or I, made a visit to Jack County to see an old acquaintance by name of
Cornell, one of our former Kansas neighbors, and was away near a month. We two older boys were left to care for the place & effects. At that time there were pony races quite often. Of course, as there was no restraint on the housekeepers left at home, we proceeded to take in a race that was run on a certain date. It so happened our folks arrived home on that very date. As I guess everything we had in charge seemed to have been in very good shape - the scolding was not so severe as we expected.

Our schools were attended more regularly there. I should explain, schools in our part of the South hardly ever were in session more than 4 months and then of the winter months. Often one teacher would have 40 to fifty pupils. Grades ran from first to about the fifth, which kept a teacher busy.  What would a teacher say now, had they to teach five grades. Of course, those were country schools where most of the pupils who lived within two miles of the school walked and those farther off rode horseback. These were great days for the boys. Especially at noon when they played town-ball bull-pin, and pussy wants a corner. I recall at one school we attended, a grape vine extended over a hollow. We larger boys & the girls would swing over the hollow holding to the vine. The last trial for me the vine broke & when 1 awoke a girl had my head in her lap picking the dirt out of my eyes. That young girl was the daughter of a Doctor. I suppose she knew what to do.

We boys worried along with our little farm if we should catch up with our work at home. We older ones would help one of our neighbors who might be behind with his farm work such as chopping cotton for 50 cents per day or picking cotton at the prevailing price then in effect, which was largely governed by the price of the staple at the local markets. As I recall F. was elected County Tax Assessor in 78, which was a great help towards supplying the needs of a large growing family.

My little bunch of cattle had increased towards 30 head and it was decided the best thing for my future was to use the then value of them towards acquiring an education which was attempted by sending me off to
Prof Allice's private school for a term and a half. His term was ten months and I want to say he required full service on your studies, not like our public schools of today.  Baseball or football had not been introduced into the South then.  Even had it been, I don't believe the patrons would have permitted them, as their idea was to get what was possible for the expense and time expended toward equipping the student for future life. This teacher classified his pupils so there should be no holding students back if one showed an aptitude to advance. Many of the students made what would be now called four grades, but he expected the lessons at recital to be performed. He was always ready to assist and explain any difficult problem that he thought the individual could not understand.

I might say the school was a public school in addition to being a private school as the public monies in that district was used as far as to time it would run just for students who belonged in that district and after the public tax monies were exhausted it was a subscription for the native students as well as had been for those who attended from outside the district. There has been a few boys of the
Allice school have reached the top in their vocations or professions they may have followed out. My ambition was to study medicine at that time, but did not have the funds to finish the literary course. Hence I had to use my legs and hands instead of the head, of which I shall say a few words later on. What I did pick up at that school has been a great help even though my life has been one called by the professions as menial. For only such as I, the head workers would have been hungry many times, only for the hayseeds.

After the half term at school, there was only the one course for me - to go to work, as my school monies were exhausted. Tried to raise funds to go to Valparaiso, Ind. Nothing doing, so 1 stayed at home and made a crop for the family and gathered it with the help of the young boys and the next spring we boys planted and cultivated another crop. At that time I had a horse & saddle which was a great pleasure as they enabled me to go out to places that a boy would naturally wish to visit. A neighbor boy and I often met after our days work was done and try to devise ways toward building up our fortune.

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