Once Upon A Lifetime Vol No. 3
In Baker County, Florida
By La Viece Moore-Fraser Smallwood
Copies available from the author complete with photos:
Rt 2 Box 543 Macclenny, Florida 32063
Permission has been granted by the author for posting to this page.
Cincinnati Dicks Mobley
Cincinnati Dicks Mobley is the authentic model of an extinct
class of southern women. She represents a bygone era of uniqueness
that defies description and challenges the writer to the limit of characterization. Wealth and fortune, prosperity and affluence were her fate, yet they are concealed in a remote area of her thoughts. Her glory lies in the homage she feels for her husband, children, friends, faith and family heritage, not necessarily in that order, because somehow this distinctive lady has woven them all into one majestic tapestry that embraces her heart and symbolizes her nature.
Charlton Mobley brought his bride to a newly constructed
home after their marriage on April 3, 1935. Today, very little change is detectable at 222 West Macclenny Avenue, although 60 momentous years have passed into oblivion. It's what you can't see that has lasted, like the legendary memories and tangible character of the special people who lived in her past, and experienced together the tears, the laughter, the triumphs and tragedies. This is their story because they are Cincinnati's life.
Cincinnati Dicks was born February 3, 1914 to Thomas and
Georgia Satilla Johns Dicks of Columbia County and she is often asked to explain the unusual family names.
"My mother, who was the daughter of John Marshall and Mary
Mills Johns of Columbia County, was named Georgia for the state, and
Satilla for the river," she said. "When she and daddy started naming
their children, they had a little trouble deciding on a name. My father
sat down on the trunk in their room with a magazine after mama
gave birth and said, 'I'll find the baby a name in this magazine'. It just so happened it was published in a place called Augusta, Maine, so daddy asked mama how she liked Maine and she said that it was all right, so that's how my brother Maine got his name," she said.
"They named me before I was born because they agreed the
first girl would be Cincinnati," she continued. "Then one day after I was born, daddy carried mama into Lake City from the farm in a horsedrawn buggy, and they stopped somewhere along the way to show a
neighbor named Mrs. Hancock their new baby. Mrs. Hancock said,'Mrs.
Dicks, if you ever have another little girl, name her Alabama'. So, Mama named my sister Alabama."
Thomas and Georgia were parents of seven children. The five
who lived to adulthood were Maine, who died at age 12 of Hodgkin's
Disease; Cincinnati; Spain; Thomas, who died at age two of burns after he fell in hot water., Alabama; Denver and Boston.
Looking back, she tells the story of how her grandfather, Joseph Dicks, left his native land in Liverpool, England:
"in those days, boys were taught a trade and my grandfather
didn't like the one he was taught, which was making brushes," she
began. "It's really a sad story because he was young, in his teens. The last time he visited his home for a weekend, his mother walked with him as far as she could. He said later that he kept turning around, looking back at her because he felt it might be the last time he would ever see her and sure enough it was."
The fourteen-year-old lad apparently hid out as a stowaway
on a boat heading for Canada. Upon arrival in Ottawa, Cincinnati said he obtained employment working in a quarry. Joseph's wandering spirit eventually took him to New York where he enlisted in the U.S. Army.
Although he was too young to serve, the persistent youth was accepted when he persuaded them he was older than he was. He was sent
to fight throughout South Georgia and North Florida in the ferocious
Second Seminole Indian War. Joseph fought in Columbia, Baker, Alachua and Pinellas counties before his term was up. Two days after he was honorably discharged, his Army unit was almost completely destroyed in the dreadful Indian Massacre at Bushnell. For his tour of duty he received a land grant.
Joseph married Sarah Taylor on January 18, 1846 and settled in
the Hopeful Community, south of Lake City. The couple had seven sons
and one daughter.
" My father, Thomas, was their son," said Cincinnati. "He married his childhood sweetheart, Ellen (Ella) Douglas. They had two children, Bessie and Reid. Ellen died about three months after Reid was born.
While his in-laws cared for his young son, Thomas continued to work
and care for his other child. Then, before he married my mother, he
married Singer Brown's sister, Lulu. The town of Lulu is named after her.
Their children were Wealthy, Eva, Josephine, Earnest [who died
as an infant] and Freeman. Lulu died in childbirth two years after
Freeman was born. After that, my father married my mother, Georgia,"
For a while the couple lived in Columbia County, then later
moved to nearby Union County, where Thomas farmed and raised cattle and sheep on 360 acres of land. His health began to decline, so
they sold the farm and moved to Macclenny with their family.
When dark-complected, dark-eyed Thomas Dicks and his redhaired, blue-eyed wife, Georgia Satilla, moved their family to Baker
County on December 29, 1929, a rickety, narrow wooden bridge separated Macclenny from Glen St. Mary. The couple purchased a frame
house and five acres of land on west Highway 90 from Mr. Rufus
Louder and that's where Cincinnati lived until she married Charlton. He worked at a sawmill on the opposite side of the highway, and only a
little distance from her home.
"My daddy wasn't much of a farmer, but he always had something growing," she said. "He was a crippled man, he cut his foot nearly
off cutting wood when he was real young, and he could never plow or
anything like that. They had mules and plows back then, so he always
had someone on the place to do the farming for him. He tended to his
livestock. He loved his sheep and he had goats, too. He was a kind,
good man and known throughout for his wit and humor."
When Thomas Dicks died at the age of seventy-four, he was
buried at Douglas Cemetery near Lulu next to his first wife, Ella
Douglas. Georgia lived to be ninety-one years old and is buried at
Macedonia Cemetery in north Macclenny.
Cincinnati said her parents were strict, but loving. "Mama was a
little high-tempered and would jerk a knot in you right quick if you
needed it," she said. "She was real pretty, right up to the day she died, and was always fixed up. She wore a corset, the kind that laced up, and she always looked nice."
Thomas and Georgia bought a Model-T car and, since Thomas
didn't care to drive and Georgia didn't know how, their spritely
twelve-year-old daughter, Cincinnati, often chauffeured the family.
"Well, in 1926 there was no age limit or driving license
required," she said.
Cincinnati walked from her home in West Macclenny to attend
school in the two-story frame school-house on unpaved south Sixth Street ("Nowadays, they ride a bus," she said). She carried her lunch pail filled with bacon or sausage, biscuit and sweet potatoes, since it was before the advent of school cafeterias.
"It was good eating. We didn't have light bread back then, but
now days they think they've got to have a sandwich." she quipped.
"That school house was a good strong building but somebody
thought it was too old, so they tore it down." she said.
Cincinnati played basketball on her school's team. Her coach,
Ms. Bernice McRae, thought she was a standout player.
She remembers that the homes of Macclenny citizens in those
early years were mostly frame construction, and were usually graced
by a porch with rockers and a swing. Most families had a few chickens, some a cow, and maybe even a hog. And almost always a garden.
"The Rowe family had three children, Jack, Kathleen and
Marguerite. I can still vividly remember passing by their house on my way to school, and the girls would always be sweeping the porch or
shaking the rugs because their mother always had them clean up the
house before they left to go to school." she said.
She graduated in 1933 in a class of 17. They were: W.M. Barber,
Lacy Barton, Minnie Lee Brown (Futch), Emily Cone (Kirkland), Wilma
Cook (Morris), Dolores Hiers (Gainey) , J.W. Hiers, Earle Knabb, Durwood Lott, Leslie Lyons, Bascom Milton, Arlie Rhoden, Edith Rowe (Brandt), Vernon Tutt (Brinson), Eunice Walters and Lois Watson (Cheny).
"I met Charlton when I was about 15," she said, "and we had
dated some before I graduated. I still remember the first time I ever met him. Me and another girl were walking up town and was about
where Lowder's Corner Store was located when we saw a boy named
Lee Clark. He wanted to go with my friend, so he said, 'I got a friend, y'all wait here and let me go get him'; so he ran back up to the sawmill where Charlton was working and said, 'I got two good-looking girls down here, come go with me and let's talk to 'em'. Charlton did and I liked him the first time I ever saw him, I really did , but we didn't do no courting or anything.
"Once in a while I'd see him and talk with him. I always liked
him, and cared for him. But finally we got to going together and when it came time to buy my baccalaureate dress, Charlton loaned me his car to go to Jacksonville. And, of course, you had to have a hat in those days, too. Charlton was crazy to let me borrow the car. I knew how to drive, but I'd never been to Jacksonville before. I took some friends with me and we didn't know where any stores were or where to go to shop. When we got there we stopped at the first store we saw. I don't remember the name of it. We all bought us an outfit and came back home. Charlton had more confidence in us than I had."
That Charlton Mobley was her first and only love is obvious.
"Charlton was a good man. He was the hardest worker I've ever seen, she said with pride. " He wanted an education so bad, and he'd walk all the way from Steel Bridge Road north of town to attend school in Macclenny when he was a boy. And it was awful bad when it rained, but he'd do it anyway. He just got wet, but he was determined to go. It's sad to think of just how bad he really wanted to go to school and make something out of himself. But Lee, his older brother didn't want to go to school; he wanted to work on the farm, and Charlton's daddy really knew how to work those boys. It was unpleasant for Charlton when he would go off to school and be blamed later for not doing his share of the work. Charlton finally quit school and went to work on the farm.
"His father, Walton Mobley, was a county commissioner and
often got the boys work building roads. They didn't have modern equipment, such as graders to work with like they do now. When Charlton would draw a check for his work, he handed it right over to his daddy.
"When he was 23 years old he decided to leave home. He said to his daddy, 'have you cashed my last check?,'and his daddy told him he hadn't. So Charlton told him he wanted it. It Was $47.50, and that's what he left home with."
Charlton headed down the road with his suitcase, walking towards Macclenny. Mr. L.N. Lewis stopped and offered him a ride. Charlton informed him he was going to Jacksonville to look for work. Mr Lewis encouraged Charlton to stay in Baker County and work for him in the sawmill business. Charlton told him he didn't have a place to stay, but the persistent Mr. Lewis told him not to worry, 'I'll get you a place to stay', he said. "And he did," said Cincinnati, "with Mr. and Mrs. Oglesbee, the nicest people in the world to room and board with.
"Charlton went to work for Lewis and stayed until the sawmill closed down four years later."
Charlton was sitting on a bench down at Louder's store when Thaddous Pickett stopped and offered him a job. Charlton explained that the mill was shut down and he was waiting for it to open.
"Well, come work for me until it does," said Pickett.
Actually, Pickett worked for the sawmill, owned and operated by two brothers, John and Augusta Walters. John ran the sawmill, Augusta was a preacher and supervised the woods (field) operation.
So Charlton went to work for him and that's where he was working when Cincinnati first met him.
"We just mostly would see each other and talk, wasn't courting or anything. We finally got to dating a little bit before graduation," she said. "We'd usually park and sit in his car in front of Mae Power's house across from Powers Drug Store on Main Street. We didn't go nowhere else, we didn't know where to go. We just watched people walking the streets because there was always a lot of people in town, shopping and doing business those days. They would stop and talk to us and we'd exchange news. It was really a lot of fun, especially on Saturday night. If I couldn't go uptown on Saturday night I was disappointed. In those days, there were lots of hogs and cows roaming around, too; they'd just go right up to the stores. All the streets were unpaved except for Main Street and there was one red light at Main and Fifth Streets. The stores stayed open very late for people to shop, back then. You could get a hair cut if you wanted it at midnight because Lautice Dugger's barber shop stayed open until eleven or twelve o'clock at night.
"I never did date anyone else but Charlton. Well, there was this other fellow, but he wasn't from around here, and there's a story about how that happened." she said.
"After we started going together awhile we discussed getting married," she said. "Charlton even bought a city lot and planned to build us a house on it. When Charlton first asked me to marry him, I asked him where we would live. He said we could live in one of the mill houses, but I told him, 'no, I don't want to live there'. Then he said, 'Well, we could live with my Ma and Pa'. I told him I didn't want to do that either. Then he said, 'Well, I could buy that lot on U.S. 90 from Lautice Dugger and get my brother Lee and cousin Jessie to build us a home'. I told him, 'Oh well, I would like that. The answer is yes. Yes, I'll marry you.'
"But then there came a pretty young widow to town and he went out with her and when I found it out I wouldn't go out with him for about two years and I used some bad language on him, too. I got my brother to go with me because I knew he had gone to see this girl. I went up to the house where she was staying and a man came out and I said, "is Charlton here", and he said,'yes', and I said, 'Well, I want to see him'. Well, Charlton came out and said, 'What did you come down here for', and I said, 'I came to see you, and I want to know what you are doing down here; you got no business down here and I want you to go to hell where you started!" Then I turned and left. I didn't go with him for two years. He tried a lot of times, but I wouldn't do it. I'd be walking home from Sunday School and church on Sunday and he always waylaid me, and I'd go walking on. He'd try and get me to ride, but I wouldn't do it. Sometimes, I'd stop and talk to him a few minutes, but then I'd say I had to go and he'd try and get me to get in, but I wouldn't do it."
Cincinnati moved to Dundee to live with her sister, Eva, and her husband, Amon Powell. She quickly found work in the local canning plant, Florida Gold.
"That's when I met this other feller, named Paul Morgan. I liked him pretty good, and so did my sister and her family. I'd go to a picture show with him and he'd come and go to Sunday School and church with us on Sunday. But I couldn't forget Charlton."
Charlton continually tried to contact her, but she would not respond.
"Well, he'd already bought this lot and was planning to build us a house on it, so you can see how I was mad and hurt. He'd write me and if Mrs. Thelma Hayes was living she could tell you about the telegrams he'd send, and you know, it did bother me when I'd get one, and I couldn't help but cry; but I'd say 'I'm not going to hear his static', and I'd just stiffen my heart and say, 'if he'll do me that way one time, he'll probably do me that way again'."
Occasionally she would return to Baker County to visit her parents, but she would never let Charlton know she was home.
"I'd see him pass by from my parents house, but I never let him see me."
Then Paul Morgan proposed marriage.
"He thought there may be someone back home and he'd always say, 'don't story to me', but I did."
Charlton's letters continued. "Come back and marry me," he would write, over and over.
Finally, Cincinnati informed Charlton she was coming home for a visit and informed him of the time her train would arrive in Jacksonville.
"Paul took me to the train in Dundee and carried my luggage aboard. He was so good to me," she said. "I hope he's done good in life, I haven't seen him in years because I never went back."
Charlton was promptly at the train terminal when she arrived in Jacksonville.
"He liked to have fainted." She said. "He hadn't seen me in two years, and I'd bought myself some nice clothes and make-up. He would take deep breaths two or three times."
They talked, but that's all, she said. Cincinatti informed him she would be travelling by bus to Macclenny and not in his car with him.
"I told him I had a lot of thinking to do and I wasn't promising him anything." she said. Charlton was shocked.
After three months at home, she agreed to see him again and talk.
"I finally made up with him and it was wonderful from then on," she said. "I know I made the right decision, I can honestly tell you that. I hadn't forgotten him, I couldn't. Its hard to forget someone you really care for. He started building on the house right away."
Charlton was still working for the sawmill. He was encouraged by his employer, Mr. John Walters, to select the best cypress logs the company had and then see that they were made into the lumber of his specifications. He hired long-time Macclenny contractors -- his brother, Lee, and cousin, Jesse Mobley -- to build the five-room home with a porch all the way across the rear and a partial porch on the front, paying cash as it was constructed.
Charlton was boarding at the time with Mrs. L.A. Barnes. When it came time to get married, the new house still had to be furnished, so he obtained permission from the Barnes' for Cincinnati to move in with him until they could obtain furniture.
On April 3, 1935, Cincinnati and Charlton went to judge Frank Dowling's house to pick up their marriage license, and then on around to the home of his employer and her pastor, the Reverend Augusta Walter's house, to be married. Lautice Dugger, Charlton's long-time friend, accompanied the couple and stood as a witness. The pastor's wife stood with Cincinnati.
"I didn't even tell my mama and daddy," she said. "I didn't even talk it over with them. I told Spain that night what I was fixin' to do, and when Charlton came to pick me up, I just set my suitcase in the window, went out the back door, and picked it up as I went by. Mama and daddy were playing solitaire in the front room. They never knew I was even gone. Spain told them the next morning at breakfast. They loved Charlton so they were tickled to death."
The young couple spent their first night in Charlton's room at the Barnes home, and both went to work early the following morning.
"I got off work on Thursday afternoons while I was working for Bob Knabb at his mercantile store, and usually Charlton had Saturdays off, so when he got off on Saturday, he drove to Jacksonville by himself to get our kitchen supplies," she said. "He got a real good sales lady and he told her he'd just got married and he wanted to buy everything for the kitchen, and honey, she fixed him up with everything, long spoons, long fork, and so forth. He had a car load of stuff when he got home. Then Mr. William Lion Matthews, a merchant -- who was father of Willie Mae Gilbert, who with her husband had a trading post in the city -- told Charlton he'd take us to Jacksonville and let us pick out the furniture we wanted and buy it wholesale. He said he'd add ten percent to it for his cost. So I went with him on Thursday and he carried me to Swindall Powell." she said.
"You know, some people think Charlton was stingy, but I know better -- he wasn't. He paid for our house as he went. Now, it wasn't wired or with plumbing, but it was built solid and paid for. And when he bought our furniture, he paid cash. Charlton believed in saving up for what you wanted and paying cash. I picked out a living room suite, two bedroom suites, and a kitchen cabinet that was a dandy, you could pull out the leaf for a work place and it even had a place to store your flour. Oh, it was so nice and I was so proud of all of it. I didn't have a stove, but Mr. Matthews offered me a nice kerosene stove for six dollars. It didn't have an oven, but it had five burners. My kitchen was narrow and it fit right in. It didn't look too good, but I got me a board and covered it with oil cloth and made me an apron to go all the way around it. I tacked it on and I could pull it off when I went to use the stove and put it on when I finished. It looked real nice in the kitchen," she said.
"You see how wide those base boards are?" she said, pointing to twelve-inch boards that lined the base of her floor. "Well, that's all cypress, and now days some houses don't even have base boards.
"Me and Charlton were always a team, we worked together. Charlton was a good husband, good father, and a good business man. To let you know just how good a businessman he was, well, if you knew all his holdings at one time, you'd agree, especially when he started off with $47.50. At one time he owned 4,000 acres of land, but he sold some and gave some to the children. Charlton was good to his children, they didn't dread their daddy.
"Charlon was such a good worker that one day his boss said if he had ten men like Charlon he'd run the rest of 'em off," she smiled. "Charlon always tried to work too much and too hard, and one day some of those guys he worked with asked him, 'why do you work so hard, you are going to cause us to lose our job because we have to work harder,' and Charlton said, 'you all are working to keep your job, I'm working to do better'."
At the sawmill, Charlon worked the log ramp, hauled logs, and was trusted to mark all logs that came off the truck so the men could get their honest pay wages. Often he came in late at night, waiting on the last log truck to come in, even if they were very late.
"He considered it was his obligation," said his wife. "And he wanted to make sure he did his job good."
"I was pregnant with our first child when we got electricity and were able to wire for lights in our house." she said.
"Frank Wells, who was City Manager, sent for me one day to go to the community center, and he signed me up for a little bit of money. I never did find out what it was for, but I used that money to have my house wired for electricity." she said. "We still didn't have plumbing and we continued to use an outdoor toilet with a dirt floor, and that was terrible, having to get up and go out there at night" she said. "Later, the government had everyone build nicer ones to their specifications with a wood floor.
AS the tidings of their first-born became a reality, Charlon
"Charlon was as scared to death of childbirth as he was of a cocked gun. she said. " He had a brother that lost a wife when her twins were three weeks old, we thought from neglect, not proper care, so Charlon really wanted me to have good care.
"Charlon would take me in to Jacksonville in the turpentine truck to see the doctor. He'd put me out wherever it was most convenient because it was hard getting that big old truck into town. He would go on to the docks or wherever he was going and if it wasn't too far, I'd walk on or I'd get a cab on to the office that was in the Cohen building. You know, we just didn't have a lot of money and you could walk if you didn't have the money. Young people don't know what hard times are. We managed to pay as we went along."
As the birth drew nearer, Charlton insisted that she go into Jacksonville to be closer to St. Luke's Hospital when the time arrived for delivery.
"We had former neighbors who lived near St. Luke's, and they invited me to stay with them until time for my delivery," said Cincinnati. "I didn't want to go, but Charlton insisted; he was so scared.
So I went and stayed two or three days and oh, I couldn't stand it --I was just so homesick. So when I went in to see my doctor I asked if he could tell me how much longer and explained to him about my being in Jacksonville with my friend. He said he would have to put me on the table for an exam. I told him I wouldn't mind this time, that I'd crawl under the table if it would do any good and I could just go home. So he put me on the table and examined me and said, 'you won't have this baby for at least a week', so I told him I was going home. He walked out in the office with me and said, 'Mrs. Mobley, you're not going to have this baby for another week or more, so you might as well go on home'. He really helped me to keep from hurting my friend's feelings. So I got on the bus and went home.
"Now you talk about somebody being happy. When Charlton drove up and he saw me walk out on that porch, he was the happiest thing in the world. He said, 'I've been so miserable, I couldn't hardly stand it, but I wanted you to be close so nothing would happen to you'."
Three weeks later Cincinnati went into labor. Charlton called Seashole Ambulance Service in Jacksonville to transport her to St. Luke's Hospital for the birth of their first child. The date was January 20,1941 and they named their son Wayne Cherill.
"Charlton had a telephone put in our house so we'd have it to call an ambulance when the time came. At that time Macclenny had a small telephone company owned by Mrs. Mattie jean Thompson, who was also the operator. In those days you would just ring her up, you didn't have numbers to dial. Sometimes you could ring her up and get her and sometimes you couldn't. Poor old thing was trying to raise her grandchildren and she'd be busy cooking or something. She had a hard time.
"Dr. Neal Alford charged $50 for delivering Cherill. I stayed in the hospital for two weeks after he was born. Back then, they didn't want you to come home early like they do now. And, even if you had your baby at home, you stayed in bed back then. Charlon would have let me stay a month, to be safe, if he could have." she said.
When their daughter, Carolyn Rivers Mobley, was born in 1942 Charlon once again gave Cincinnati the royal treatment.
"He called the ambulance again." she said. " A very good friend, Minnie Crews, rode with me and Charlon drove the truck. Minnie stayed with me through the night, but the next morning Charlton took her to the bus station to catch a bus home so she could get her children off to school. Carolyn was born at 1:30 that afternoon by Dr. W.R. Schnauss."
Times were hard for the couple. In the beginning, Cincinnati washed her clothes in a lard can out in the back yard.
"I'd boil them in the can and it wouldn't hold very much. When you would get them to boiling, the water would boil over and put the fire out. Then, if the train came by, cinders would fall on them.
We'd always try and wait until the train passed before hanging out clean clothes to dry. A passenger train came through going west every morning and one would pass through going east in the afternoon.
"One day, Charlton was passing by Gilbert's Trading Post and saw them unloading some wash pots. He came home and told me to run up there and get us the largest iron wash pot they had.
"We put our name on the list with Mr. Corbett Yarbrough to buy an electric cook stove and a refrigerator. It was about two years later when I got my washing machine. And I was so proud of it. It had nice big rollers, not like mama's little ones. if you put a pair of dungarees in mama's, it would flip up and you'd have to tighten it back down. Mine had them big rollers, and man, it would really wring them clothes out dry and a pair of dungarees would go through without any trouble.
"I took in washing to pay for my washing machine. We had to put it on the back porch. My three rinse tubs were in the yard. I pumped water from a pitcher pump to fill them and then had to take the clothes up and down the steps to rinse them."
Meanwhile, Charlton expanded into the turpentine business.
After the sawmill, where he was employed, moved to Nassau County, Charlton worked for Southern Resin and Chemical Company at Pine Top, west of Glen St. Mary, for the next nine and a half years.
The thrifty Charlton had an opportunity to buy two trucks and remaining year's contract for hauling pine gum from Mr. Bridges.
"We had a truck, and a semi trailer," said Cincinnati. "Charlton went from camp to camp, loading pine gum to take to the company to convert into resin and other materials. Then he'd take it to the loading docks in Jacksonville," she said.
With two toddlers underfoot, Cincinnati was holding down the homefront, and working with her ambitious husband as well.
"After Carolyn was born, I'd put her bassinet in the turpentine truck, take Cherill and go help Charlton wherever he needed me." she said.
"Well, before I'd leave everyday, I'd have to get up early and milk our cow, feed our chickens, tend to the garden and sometimes it would take me an hour just to cut the okra. I'd get my babies bathed and dressed and cook dinner. The children and I would eat, then I'd make Charlton's lunch. Sometimes I'd drive all the way to Slocom, Blackjack, Fairview, Chiefland or Williston, just wherever the camps had a load of gum ready."
As a favor, before leaving the city, Charlton would usually pick up grocery orders to deliver to the people who lived in the turpentine camps. That courtesy was beyond the call of duty, but being the good man he was, he did it.
Most turpentine camps were located deep in the woods reachable by a two-lane path called a log road, usually impassable if it rained.
When I'd get near to some place like Slocom, I would stop and wait on Charlton to bring the barrels out to me." said Cincinnati. "I could time it almost perfectly because I'd hear Charlton coming in his truck loaded with about 18 barrels just minutes after I would arrive. Sometimes he'd have someone to help him unload onto my truck or sometimes I'd help him. Then he'd go back to the camp for 18 more barrels. I'd usually leave with 36 barrels and me and the children would drive on into Jacksonville to the docks and unload.
"As we made money, Charlton would buy land with it every time he had a chance. Some had pine trees already planted, and when it didn't he'd plant pines on it. We both worked, he didn't do it by himself, but he had the plan and I helped him with it. We were a team.
"After my mama got an electric refrigerator, I borrowed her old ice box. I thought it was real nice and I was proud of it. We put it out on our back porch and every night I'd put a dime on the top of it and the next morning the iceman would leave me a ten-cent block of ice. I couldn't nurse my babies, so I had to have someway to keep their baby bottles cool."
For several years, Charlton had been asking Cincinnati to consider having another baby. When her sister, Alabama, who had married Charlton's brother, Luther, gave birth to a son, Thomas, in 1952, Charlton fell in love with her baby and approached Cincinnati again.
""Well," she said, "I won't give you just one, but I will have two. Otherwise one would seem like an only child since Cherill and Carolyn are so much older," she told her doting husband.
Cincinnati turned 40 years old on February 3, 1954 and on February 11 gave birth to their third child, Michael Dicks Mobley. She said she was the talk of the town. Two years later, on October 14, 1956, another son, Patrick Michael, weighed in at 12 pounds. This time Cincinnati, at age 42, was the rage of the town.
By this time the couple had a car and Cincinnati drove into Jacksonville for her doctor appointments.
The little family grew in size and other responsibilities entered into their schedule. Besides school, there was Sunday School, too -- something Cincinnati believed to be most important.
"I always went to church and took the children," she said. "I've been a Baptist all my life and Charlton was sprinkled when he was small and his folks attended the Methodist Church at Macedonia. While we were dating, he'd go with me sometimes, but after we got married and had our children, Charlton was under conviction a long time but just wouldn't surrender.
"Well, sometimes Charlton would decide to go to church and he would say, 'let's go to so and so church tonight', so we'd visit several churches, but eventually he got to going more and more to my church.
Then they started building on Faith Baptist Church where my mother was a charter member and Charlton helped them build it. I thought surely Charlton would join that church. Carolyn offered to join with him at Faith Baptist where her grandma went and I told him I'd change, too, because I thought we should all go to the same church. But Charlton wouldn't hear of it, and one Sunday he had gone out to his daddy's house while we all went to church. We were surprised to see Charlton walk in and sit down with us. He was late, but when they sang the song of invitation, he was the first one up there.
" I remember that day so well because our former neighbors had some harsh words with Charlton concerning our chickens. We really didn't have that many but it was just enough to aggravate somebody and if one got out, well, it naturally went where it wasn't supposed to. When they moved, a friend said to Charlton, I heard you run your neighbors off'. Charlton told him he didn't mean to and didn't know it if he had.
"Charlton told this person that he had even tried to keep his men from making noise with the trucks when they'd drive up to the house, to avoid disturbing his neighbors. He told him he had talked to his men repeatedly about being quiet." said Cincinnati.
"But I knew the neighbors were upset over Charlton's chickens. I never liked chickens that much and I couldn't blame our neighbors. The chickens would get out of the pen and mess with her flowers and she'd sic her dogs onto the chickens and that's what it was about," she said.
. Well, the night he accepted the invitation to join the church, our former neighbors were sitting right up ahead of me. I saw them whispering, I don't know what they were saying, but when it came time for the members to go up to speak with Charlton, they went up to speak to him. Charlton apologized to them, the good Lord, and everybody else, and I was so happy he did because we had been friends a long time. I was glad we were all friends again."
The Mobley's never indulged their children, but saw that they had the necessities of life.
"We didn't spoil our children. Charlton didn't do the discipline, I was the one who done the whipping if they needed it, but I had easy children to manage. I started off in the beginning and we had little trouble with them even as teenagers. We brought them up in Sunday School and church. They had good teachers and friends. We talked to them a lot."
The Mobley family was without television long after most of their friends and family had bought a set. In 1972 when the Mobley's son, Mike, was 18 years old, he began to ask his daddy to buy a television.
"He would go over to his girl friend's to watch television and come home and say, 'Daddy, I wish you'd buy us a television and we'd be like they are in All in The Family. You could be Archie, mama can be Edith and Carolyn can be Gloria and I'll be Meathead'. Well, Charlton surprised us and went out and bought one. That was in November."
A few weeks later, on December 13, the family suffered the greatest tragedy of their lives when their son, Mike, was accidently killed.
"Mike loved it [the TV] and enjoyed it those few days before his death," she said.
When Michael died, the family issued the following statement: "Our hearts are broken to have lost Mike, but we are grateful to God for each day that we did have him." Cincinnati says their faith sustained them in their anguish.
Cincinnati's close friend was Mrs. Leona (T.J.) Knabb. She often invited her to Eastern Star meetings. The local chapter was named in her honor.
"She and Mrs. Nettie Dorman kind of took me under their wings and I served as Worthy Matron for the local chapter three times."
She has also served for two years as Macclenny Woman's Club president.
In 1959 Cincinnati and Charlton hired their first baby sitter.
"And I think it was the last, too," she said, laughing. The occasion was the first Miss Baker County beauty pageant ever to be affiliated with the Miss America Pageant. Their daughter, Carolyn, was one of the 33 contestants. The couple was elated when their beautiful and talented daughter, a high school majorette, won the title.
Cherill and Carolyn, who had graduated from Macclenny-Glen High School together in 1959, enrolled in Young Harris College in north Georgia. After their first year, Carolyn transferred to the University of Florida and Cherill joined the Marines and went off to Parris island. The family was proud when Cherill was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal for bravery in rescuing several wounded Marines from an exploded land-mine field. Cherill was also awarded the Purple Heart for injuries received in the incident.
"Carolyn was easy to get homesick." said Cincinnati. "I think the people thought I was enrolled over at the University I went over there so much."
Carolyn studied to be a chemist and after graduation accepted a job in Cape Canaveral, now Cape Kennedy. That's where she met Roger Tyndall. The couple married on February 15, 1969 in Macclenny.
"I'm real proud of my children. Patrick is a real hard worker, like his claddy. He is an engineer with CSX. Cherill is very attentive and comes over every morning to make sure I am up and dressed and okay. Carolyn lives in Amelia island Plantation and comes home regularly and calls very often." she said.
Cherill married Kathy Padgett on May 6, 1992. They have a daughter, Jackie, and Cherill has Julie Ann and Richard Mobley from a previous marriage.
Patrick married Dicey Crawford September 14, 1988. They have one son, Jeremy.
Carolyn, a former Green Bay Packer Golden Girl cheerleader in Green Bay, Wisconsin, travelled with her mother in the summer of 1968 to Cairo, Egypt, where they rode camels near the pyramids and the Sphinx. Their trip to the Middle East included a tour of Israel and a special boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.
Carolyn and her husband, Roger, launched a contest news letter that was so successful it was later purchased by McCall Magazine.
Cincinnati helped out in its infancy. The first mailing was sent to 20,000 persons and when the subscriptions began pouring in they were all overwhelmed. The success of their ingenious enterprise has afforded the couple a life of world travel and other interesting ventures.
Cincinnati lost her beloved Charlton on August 29, 1992. The couple celebrated their golden anniversary in 1985. They never fell out of love and together they spent 57 rich and fruitful years.
Life without Charlton was almost unbearable. She admits to countless lonely days and nights. The children encouraged her to keep active. Following Charlton's death, she and Cherill took an absorbing and inspiring tour to see the stunning sites of the west. She added a garage to her home, gleaming white siding, and screened the front porch. In the future, she plans to do other improvements, such as new wiring and modernizing the kitchen. But one thing that will never be changed or obliterated in the home Charlton built for her 60 years ago, is the memories.
In 1993 Cincinnati's children honored her with an 80th birthday party. They invited the entire county, and most of them came. Her talented and enterprising daughter, Carolyn, planned the menu and prepared most of the food single-handedly for the enormous crowd.
Before the event, the children asked their mother what had been the most important things in her life, and Cincinnati answered by saying, 'Three things: accepting the Lord, getting married, and having four children'. The fascinating program, charted by her children, centered around a mesmerizing video-taped vignette of her life directly focused on those three things. As a larger-than-life photo of Charlton flashed on the screen that day, a tear fell from Cincinnati's eye onto her cheek, and in spite of the huge crowd of onlookers, a smile of courage and steadfastness emerged. She's a woman composed of unwavering convictions, and an unchanging character that is uniquely woven into an abundance of rare stamina and fortitude.
Historical Sketch of Dicks Family
The following sketch was researched by members of the Dicks
family -- Archie Dicks in England, Denver and Trammel Dicks, Lake City, Florida and drawn from primary source documents in the possession of the Drew Dicks family.
I am especially indebted to Denver Dicks and his wife
Laverne of Lake City, for the time and effort they gave to supply me
with copies of the family photographs and records used in this
account of the DICKS FAMILY HISTORY.
On July 14, 1784, Joseph Dicks of the parish of Bishopstrow and
Eleanor Fry of the parish of Heytesbury, were married at Heytesbury
Parish Church in their native country of England. The couple had eight known children: William, 1785; Mary Ann, 1787; Charlotte, 1789; Jacob, 1791; Eleanor, 1793; Isac, 1795; Sarah, 1798, and Joseph, 1808, who died in infancy.
Joseph and Eleanor's son, William, married Jane, whose last
name is not known, in the parish of Heytesbury, in 1802. Their first
son, Joseph, was born in 1802 and died in 1805. Maria was their next
known child, born 1816, then Kezia in 1818, and another son named
Josephin 1819 and Sophia in 1820.
During the period between the first and second child, William
who was in the army, participated in the Battle of Waterloo, where he was wounded. He never fully recovered from the injury and died July 30, 1820, at the age of thirty-five.
The couple's son, Joseph, was born in England on January 22,
1819. it was the custom in that time for young boys to become an
apprentice and study assigned trades. Young Joseph was given the
task of learning to make brushes. it was required that the youth live a number of miles from his residence to be near the brush training center or factory. On one particular weekend after he had visited his family, his mother accompanied him part of the way on his return trip to the brush factory. Bidding farewell to her son, she turned toward home and later, Joseph was to describe how he watched her fade from his sight, knowing that they may never meet again.
Soon after, he boarded a ship in Heytesbury, England, that was
bound for America. The long and perilous journey took him across the
Atlantic to where his ship docked on the Canadian shore. Joseph is
said to have worked for a while in a quarry in or near Ottawa, later
making his way to New York. He joined the U.S. Army on September
24, 1838, in Rochester and was assigned to Company "C" 2nd
Regiment. During this time, the Second Seminole Indian War was raging and his assignment was to serve within the Florida and Georgia
frontiers where considerable trouble with the Indians was occurring.
By the end of December 1838, he was stationed at Fort
Andrews, located on the Fennholloway River about four miles southwest of Hampton Springs and about ten miles from the Gulf in what is now Taylor County. According to his military records, his stay at this fort was a very short one.
By February 1839, Joseph was in Fort Fanning near what is now
Fanning Springs, located where U.S. 19 crosses the Suwannee River.
The April 1839 records show that he was in Fort District 16, East Florida, where he served for the remainder of 1839. This location is about six miles south of Alligator, now known as Lake City.
Beginning in April 1840 he was stationed at Fort Number 15,
East Florida, in what is now Union County and in the vicinity of
Providence. In June 1840, he was listed as being at Bee Tree Branch,
which is near Hawthorne. By August of 1840, he was at Fort King near
Ocala, where he was stationed for a full year.
In December of 1841 he was moved to Fort Moniac, East Florida,
located on the Saint Mary River near the Florida-Georgia line at a point called Hogans Ferry in Baker County. His last place of service in Florida was at Fort Shannon in April 1842 near Palatka on the St. Johns River.
From Palatka he was transferred to Buffalo Barracks, New York, where he finished his five-year term of Army service on September 24, 1843.
Joseph's personal data on his military records show his height
to be 5 feet, 4 inches tall, age 22, hazel eyes, brown hair and dark complexion. His birthplace is listed as Wiltshire, England, occupation
Joseph and his first wife, Sarah Taylor, were married in Ocala on January 18, 1846 according to records on file in that county's clerk of courts office. Family history accounts say the couple met in south Georgia. The 1850 Federal census records reveal the couple was living in Thomasville, Georgia. In 1859 Joseph received a land grant issued by the U.S. Government at Newmansville, near Alachua. It was signed by President James Buchanan on April 1, 1859 and involved more than 200 acres. During his life, Joseph Dicks operated a farm, owned a country store and ran an enterprising sawmill business. The land later became a part of the farm belonging to the couple's son, Henry Dicks.
The 1860 census records disclose he and his family were living
in Columbia County within the Hopeful Community.
It is believed that Joseph purchased the 'Squatter' improvements of Johnny Markham. A short time later he took his entitled
Land Grant, earned by military service, located near the Markham
Improvements. Exact descriptions indicate the granted lands are the
N 1/2 of the NW I/4 of Section 1, T 55, R 27E and the S 1/2 of the SW I/4 of Section 36, T 4S, R 27E. One hundred sixty acres were involved and in 1984 was owned by R.P. Dicks, Rodney Dicks, and Robert Cox.
Joseph corresponded with his family after his arrival in America
and while living in Columbia County, Alligator East Florida. When his mother, Jane, died in England in 1864, Joseph received a letter from his sister, Sophia. It was sent from Heytesbury, England, and addressed to Joseph Dicks, Alligator, East Florida and the complete text is as follows:
We remain your loving brother and sister, James and Sophia
In later years, Joseph is said to have crossed the ocean once
again to pay a visit to his beloved family in England
Joseph had been born into an Episcopalian Church membership
in England. In America, he joined the Methodist Church at Ebenezer. He was remembered by his family as constantly offering the blessing
before meals and faithfully reading his Bible daily.
He has been described by those who remember him as "displaying some imperfections of life," but highly regarded as "rigid in
honesty in his business dealings". He was very successful in productive agriculture and farm management. He is remembered as a loyal, patriotic American, and as disapproving slavery. He is said to have worked long and hard in all his endeavors.
Sarah was a member of the old Providence Church and
Bethlehem Church before becoming a charter member of Hopeful
Church. She faithfully traveled by wagon, horse back and even foot
over dusty, unpaved roads to regularly attend the old Providence
Baptist Church, which was seven miles from her home. She later had
18 grandchildren who became members of Hopeful Church.
Many family members have endeavored to piece together the
Joseph and Sarah (Taylor) Dicks family history. In addition to those named at the beginning of this sketch, the family group sheet of Donna Jean Robartson Alcorn of Fort White, is the most complete. Ms. Robartson listed family records in possession of Margaret Ernesteen Beasley Graham of Union County as her source of information for much of the information.
According to Ms. Alcorn, Ms. Graham said some of the Dicks children died of plague. All presently known Dicks family data is presented here in hopes that it will be helpful to future family historians.
Tis now a long time since we have heard from each other and
God only knows if these few lines will find you in the land of the
living but I do sincerely hope that one of your family is still alive to send us back word something about you. It was, I know, useless to write during the war and as Florida was one of the states
against the Government, letters would not be sent to you, but as
now peace is proclaimed and the postal route open I do hope we
shall correspond again. In the first place, I must say that our poor mother has been dead two years. She was very helpless and
childless for years and we had a great deal of trouble, but I done
all that could be done to make her comfortable and she was
quite resigned to death. I am thankful to say that I, and my husband, is both pretty well as we can expect. My son, Joseph Dicks
Haines is at work in London and doing well. Maria has been married four years and has two children. Her husband (whose parents live next door to us) is a city missionary in London. They visited in summer and father and I have been to London since. My next, Sarah, is in service in London and our youngest Henry is just six years old. My sister Maria and husband is quite well. Their family is growing up fine young women. We had one living with us apprenticed to a dressmaker here. My sister, Kezia and husband and two children is well and living at Knock. Their son is a carpenter, their daughter a dressmaker. I shall say but little about your old friends. Aunt Betty Courtry is dead and many more of our relations of whom I will try and say more in a future letter. I hope this will find you and your wife still alive and well and also your children. I hope you will get this letter that you will lose no time to write back and tell us all the particulars, how you fared during the war, if you lost your property and if any of your children, that is the boys, (?) themselves as soldiers. We shall wait with anxiety to hear for I can assure you we have been very uneasy and in great trouble about you. You will give our kind love to your wife and family. I hope you will soon recover what you have lost. I know things with you is expensive but you have a better chance that we. Times here is bad, very little trade and
food is dear all but bread. Men only get nine shillings a week and
no chance of getting better. No land as with you to be bought to
help a family. You must work for just what they chose to give
you as all the farmers is agreed to that but we thank God we
have not (busted ?), and have not the trouble for my husband
looks at home and to the welfare of his family first. This is one
reason that keeps us above many who spend too much of their
time in the Alehouse and leave their children destitute. Now I
just come to conclusion as I almost fear my letter may never
reach you as directed this to Alligator East Florida, but I hope it
will find you all right. Your sister's husband and all our family join in kind love and well wishes to you and family, trusting to hear
from you as soon as you get this.
JOSEPH, Born: January 22, 1819 in England. Died 20 December 1899 in
Columbia County, Florida. Buried Hopeful Baptist Church Cemetery in
Married SARAH TAYLOR in Marion County Florida January 18, 1846.
SARAH TAYLOR: Born July 3, 1822 in Thomasville, Thomas County,
Georgia. Died October 29, 1896 Columbia County, Florida. Buried
Hopefull Baptist Church Cemetery.
ISAAC DICKS Born October 19, 1846 in Georgia
WILLIAM PENN DICKS Born September 29, 1847 in Georgia, Died
December 8, 1914.
JOHN DICKS Born January 15, 1850 in Georgia [Ebenezer cem]
JAMES P. DICKS Born May 6, 1852 in Columbia County Florida, married
Ellen Smith March 9, 1876, Died Nov. 24, 1924.[Hopeful cem]
GEORGE WASHINGTON DICKS (called "Doctor") was born Sept. 5, 1856
in Columbia Co. Fl.
ROBERT DICKS Born Sept. 13,1857 in Columbia Co., Fl.
SARAH MARGARET DICKS Born May 7,1859 in Columbia Co. Fl. Married
William Jackson Marguss Nov. 15, 1877
HENRY DICKS Born Oct. 23, 1862 in Columbia Co. Fl. and died May 5,
1936. [Hopeful cem]
JOSEPH ZACHARIAH DICKS Born May 29, 1865 in Columbia Co. Fl. Died
Nov. 12, 1939 [Mt Tabor cem]
THOMAS DICKS Born Sept. 12, 1868 in Columbia Co., Fl. Married (1) Ellen Douglas, (2) Lula Brown and (3) Georgia Satilla Johns [Douglas cem]
CHILDREN BORN OF JOSEPH DICKS (1819-1988) AND POLLY TAYLOR:
Polly was the younger sister of Sarah who lived in the Dicks household, and bore Jessie and Stephen for Joseph.
JESSE DICKS Born October 9, 1852, Died May 2, 1918. Buried in Ebenezer Cemetery, Columbia County, Fl. Elizabeth, 1 st wife of Jesse, born Oct 1, 1857, Died March 20, 1879. Mary A. 2nd. wife of Jesse, Born Aug. 16, 1841, Died April 3, 1893.
STEPHEN SPARKMAN DICKS ( later changed his surname to that of his
mother, Polly Taylor, and thus was STEPHEN SPARKMAN TAYLOR.
Jessie and Stephen, with their mother Polly, were listed on U.S. Federal census records as children living in the household of Joseph and Sarah Dicks. [12 Apr 1855-12 Jul 1918 Swift Creek cem]
Joseph and Sarah were separated by her death in 1896. Sarah
was the first person to be buried in the Hopeful Church Cemetery.
Joseph died three years later, in 1899, and is buried beside his wife.
Following the death of Sarah, Joseph married Adaline Carrol
from Suwannee County whose maiden name was Brewer. They were
United in marriage by the Reverend Scott Ware in the Henry Dicks
home on November 5, 1897. A record of this is on file in the Clerk of
Courts Office in Columbia County.
A pension act of 1892 provided benefits for veterans of the
Indian War. In early January 1893, Joseph applied for the pension,
which was granted. He drew the pension of eight dollars a month
until his death. After his death at age 80 in 1899, his widow, Adaline, drew the pension which was increased in 1908 to twelve dollars per month. She died in 1923.
REMEMBRANCES OF DENVER DICKS, SON OF THOMAS AND GEORGIA DICKS, AND HIS WIFE, LAVERNE (JOHNSON) DICKS.
"My father, Thomas Dicks, was the youngest of nine children
born in Columbia County to Joseph and Sarah Dicks in 1868. He was an
easy going man, known for his wit and humor. He had been widowed
twice and left with several children to raise. His in-laws kept the baby while he continued to farm and care for his daughter. He married again to Lula Brown, and the town of Lulu is named for her, and they had five children before her death. He needed someone to be a mother to his children. One day he went visiting at the home of John and Mary Johns of Columbia County with the idea of courting one of their daughters. There appeared to be some confusion as to which daughter he was interested in, so Thomas later wrote a letter stating his interest in their daughter, Georgia. This did not set well with her mother since Georgia had older unmarried sisters. However, they were married when Georgia was 26 years old and Thomas was 44. The services were held on the front porch of Georgia's home. Her mother was angry and did not attend. Instead, she sat on the back porch. Years later, when Georgia was asked why her mother was so angry, she replied, 'if you had a good pack horse, and it ran away, how would you feel?'
"My parents had five children that lived to adulthood. We all
took turns working in the fields, rotating staying home and cooking for the family.
"My mother often told the story of when a neighbor, Carl B.
"Dinty" Moore, asked her husband, Thomas, which of his three wives
he loved the best, he replied, 'it would be a blame fool who loved a
dead wife better than a live one'.
"Before daddy married his second wife, Lula Brown, there was
an interesting event that happened in her life. She made a trip to
Hagan, Florida, to visit her aunt. The townspeople of Hagan were looking for another name for the town, since their mail was continuously
getting mixed up with the town of Hague, near Gainesville. Since she
was the first person to step off the train they named it after her
except someone got the spelling mixed up from Lula to Lulu. Anyway,
the town was named in her honor, changed from Hagan to Lulu. Lula
was visiting her aunt in Hagan, but she also had an admirer (boyfriend) there, and maybe he had influence in naming the town after her. Lula was reared near the Olustee Monument location. Her brothers were Millard and John Brown (known as Singer)."
Laverne Dicks spent many hours of her time listening to
Denver's mother, Georgia, tell stories of the family.
"She told me about one interesting event when her grandfather paid someone to serve in the Civil War for him, and the man got
killed. There are records showing where her grandfather deeded the
man's family 500 acres of land and a small amount of money."
Laverne related another story that has left a lasting impression on some Dicks family members.
"Denver's father, Thomas, couldn't hear very well. When Denver
and Boston were young boys they were out in the chicken yard one day, and Boston saw a rooster sitting in the hen nest. He came running to the house telling his mama, 'that ole rooster is out there in that hen house sittin' on the hen's nest and laid an egg in it. Mr. Dicks was sitting across the room saying,'what, what, what did he say, Georgia, what did he say'?
She went over to him and yelled, 'Mr. Dicks, he said the rooster laid an egg'. So now, when someone is saying something that is really insignificant, and says, What did you say?, we just say, 'the rooster laid an egg,' meaning, it's not important. Georgia always called her husband, Mr. Dicks, instead of Thomas, or Tom," she said.
Denver said that when his father was just a small boy, he and
two of his brothers had gone into the mule lot to play one day when
their parents were not at home.
"A mule kicked daddy and actually left an indentation in his
skull," said Denver. "His older brothers took some mud from the mule
lot and put it on daddy's head to stop the bleeding. At first they didn't plan to tell their parents because they knew they were not supposed to play there, but of course they had to. He never went to a doctor, but he always had this scar on his forehead. Daddy always combed his hair kinda odd, flipping it over to one side and it was kind of piled high in the front. when he went outside the house he always wore a hat to hide that scar." he said.
"Another thing Denver's daddy always did was to take a tablespoon full of whiskey before his meals," said Laverne. "He'd always
measure it out in the spoon before his meal."
"Well, he began that when he developed low blood pressure,
and a doctor over in Lake Butler told him, 'Tom, if you'll take a little sip of whiskey before each meal it will increase your appetite,' so he did," said Denver. " He'd measure it out in the spoon just like he was measuring medicine. And he'd give us youngins' a sip if we wanted it. Once he did we never wanted anymore of it, because it would burn our throats."
My mother was the last of her brothers and sisters to die. She
lived to the age of ninety-one." Denver Dicks, September 1994
Thomas and Georgia Dicks generated many more interesting
stories as they lived their lives and reared their children through the pioneering early turn of the century days and on through the historically acclaimed Great Depression when some men survived and some
didn't. To capture a small sketch of those times, told by others who
shared those days with them, is priceless information and certainly a work of love.
Thomas and Georgia Dicks left behind a legacy that casts
much honor on their names and one of which they can be very proud.
Unless the first-hand stories are shared by this passing generation,
their individual characters will pass into oblivion. It is hoped that in some way, the contribution made here, by members of their family, will serve to enhance their memory, much more so than just having their names etched on a tombstone placed in a cemetery plot, or on some record in a dusty courthouse basement.
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Edgar Kirkland of Macclenny
More than 50 years ago, in December 1943, when Edgar "Ed" Kirkland stepped off the Greyhound bus on Main
Street in Macclenny, there was no hero's welcome, although in his frayed and shabby duffle-bag, he carried many
medals -- among them the Purple Heart, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Good Conduct, WW 11 European Theater of
Operations medals and infantry badge. The Baker County farm boy had come home without fanfare and that's the
way it has always been because, until now, Ed Kirkland has never talked about what made him an unsung hero.
Twenty-year-old Kirkland left Macclenny on November 22, 1942, after being inducted into Uncle Sam's Army to help
win a raging war being fought on European soil. With little combat training, he left Virginia on a boat that took 26
days to reach his destination of Italy. Kirkland had lost 26 pounds from seasickness. He was immediately tagged as
a rifleman and sent to the front lines where he found that his Baker County training as a poor backwoods
sharecropper's son had prepared him for survival -- more so than many of the fallen city soldiers from across America
that fought with him.
Kirkland's luck ran out when his unit of the 85th Infantry
Division was ambushed by Germans on a routine patrol one day about
two years later.
"The Germans just run out and cut us down with bullets, then
they threw hand-grenades at us. When I came to that day, my body
was covered with blood, my head was coiled around on my stomach
and I could feel the heel of a German soldier's combat boot slightly
touch my body. He was straddling me with a bayonet in one hand and
a hand grenade in the other. Then suddenly I felt him reach down and
touch my body, ripping off my watch, which had been a gift from my
brother-in-law. Thankfully, he walked away and left me for dead,"
Kirkland was thirsty but had no water. In his pocket were a
few sulfa pills that he had been warned not to take without water. His pain was too great, so he chewed them up anyway. Next to him a
young 17-year-old soldier began to moan. "Water, water, please give
me some water," he begged. Kirkland told him there was no water.
Not long after, the young soldier's voice grew faint, then ceased.
Everything was quiet, and Kirkland said he realized that he was the
sole survivor of the attack.
American medics slipped in after dark to reach the carnage.
Kirkland, barely alive, was loaded on a stretcher and carried half way down the mountain. At that point, the task was turned over to
German prisoners of war who stumbled and fell on the rough terrain,
rolling Kirkland off the stretcher three times. When Kirkland reached one of the M.A.S.H. Units, his wounds were cleansed. He had been shot six times. one bullet was lodged in his lungs. A buckle from his combat boot was embedded in his ankle.
Kirkland was flown to Naples where he underwent an operation for his injuries.
Back in Baker County, Kirkland's mother, Dollie (Carrol) Kirkland
Johnson, was dutifully notified by telegram of his injuries. Joe Kirkland, his father, had deserted the family before his birth, leaving Dollie to manage their 10 children alone.
"I guess he had all he could take. In about three years, Mama
remarried a man named Ealie Johnson, who had ten children too.
Then he and Mama had three of their own so that was 23 all together,"
"We moved around a lot, sharecropping, and the old houses we
lived in, you could throw a cat through the walls. We never did have anything but an old fireplace to keep us warm, and all us kids would gang up together to sleep at night with warm quilts that Mama made us."
Kirkland said he never saw his biological father. "He died when
I was 17 years old. He never sent Mama one dime for us kids. I didn't go to his funeral," he said.
Kirkland said he'd always been told that when he was born he
was so tiny he had to be carried around on a pillow and that his skin was so transparent you could see the intestines in his body.
"Mama was so undernourished and I'm sure that's why. My
daddy had left her with 10 kids and nothing else. We were both lucky
"I only went to the 6th grade in school, then I had to quit and
help Mama sharecrop. We mostly raised what we ate. Us kids would
go out and pick a bushel of peas in the field and Mama would cook
'em in a big ole pot and we'd have grits and corn bread and some kind of hog meat. We drank cow's milk when we had it. Back then there
was no fence law and the piney wood's cows would roam up to the
house to sleep in the road at night. Us boys would go out there to
catch 'em and hold 'em until one of the other kids could milk 'em.
Sometimes we'd get 'em upside the fence and stick one of his old
horns through the fence and we'd hold the other horn and then milk
'em while she'd kick. We'd take a pot and sit it down under her. Her
little udders were so little we'd have to milk with our fingers like this," he said, pressing two fingers together with his large rough hands.
"Us boys stayed in the river fishing when we weren't working in
the fields. That was food on our table. Sometimes, we'd go at night,
and even if we got home at midnight mama would get up and fry'em
so we could all eat. We knew where every log was in that river," he
said. "We learned early on how to survive."
"Mama's livelihood depended on us children because my stepfather, who really was very good to us, had a stroke when I was about
seven, and never could do anything else again," he said.
That early survival helped him endure the long patrols and
meager conditions through Italy, outsmarting the enemy, surviving
three major battles and numerous attacks. Kirkland found out he was
as strong as the strongest. Today he realizes that even more.
"Some of them soldiers would just cling to us crying and hollering for their mama," he said. "We'd stay out for weeks in the cold with
only a rock for our heads, and even when they'd pull us back for a couple of weeks for R&R, it was hard on most of 'em trying to sleep and
rest in the cold and damp army tents. Some of 'em just wasn't cut out for it like I was," he said.
"I walked all the way through Rome running the enemy to the
other side and I walked all over the little Alps," he said. " My job was to hunt Germans. We'd march continually, camping at night sometimes we could even hear them talking we were so close. When we'd come up on
'em, or them us, we'd have it out right there. Most of the time we'd beat 'em," he said. "There were many times when I'd be on the front lines for two weeks at a time that I wouldn't even pull my shoes off or change my clothing. The Army would try and send someone up every night with three little cans of rations each. Then they would fill our water canteens. Sometimes they didn't come so we'd do without. We never had enough food and water but we always had plenty of bullets," he said. 'When we'd kill the Germans we used a little shovel to dig a shallow hole to put him in and cover him up, all except for his feet We'd leave them sticking up."
"What about the injured?" I asked him. "We wouldn't injure
em. He'd be dead when we left him," he said emphatically.
Kirkland said if his patrol came upon a dead German soldier
they never took anything from the body or touched him in any way.
" We learned never to take anything off of 'em, 'cause if you
did, the Germans might have a booby trap on him, like a hand grenade, and when you turned the body over the pin would pull out and blow you up. Americans put booby traps on our soldiers, too, and if the Germans came to rob him, they'd get blown up," he said.
Then came the day in December 1945 when he had accumuated enough points to come home. Was he prepared? Had he
received psychotherapy to deal with the trauma of front line war and
the serious injuries he'd received?
"No, there were too many of us wounded. You just toughed it
out or died one," he said.
The Greyhound bus doors swung open, let him off, and hissed
closed. He looked around. Not too much had changed. Hopefully he
would find his mama at home. No one had notified her of his homecoming. There were few phones back then and his mama wasn't one
of the lucky ones who had one. An old friend, Leonard Mikell, came by in his car, and offered him a ride home. He was glad. He was anxious.
"I got out of Leonard's car and saw Mama sitting at her sewing
machine," he said. " She was..." -- his voice broke, as tears welled up in his piercing blue eyes and fell gently down his rugged cheeks -- "She was ... well, she was real glad to see me. She and my sister, Rosie, began spreading the word to the family that I'd come home. We gathered together and sat up all night talking. They were all real happy to see me."
No one mentioned the war, or his injuries, that night or ever.
Maybe they were waiting on him, and maybe he was waiting on them.
He doesn't know. So he pushed it to the back of his mind where it has been hidden until this interview.
"The government gives me a small pension and all of my medicines. I've had open heart surgery twice. They give me glasses but not
dental. I've been trying to get some more out of 'em for about a year now but they won't do anything about it. They can carry it off and give it to these other countries, you see, but they won't give it to us."
He recently framed his medals. He hopes that the two children, Penny and Jeanie, who were biological sisters that he and first
wife, Camilla, adopted, will want them someday, or perhaps his grandchildren.
Today, Kirkland lives with his second wife, Nona Holloway, on
the banks of the St. Johns River in Palatka, next door to his son and daughter-in-law, Rex and Flo Holloway. Flo is the daughter of Harold and Fay Milton of Macclenny.
"I fish when I want to, and keep the grass mowed," he said. "It's
real peaceful there. I don't think about the war, I don't even watch war movies on TV. It upsets me when I hear the guns. Where I live, I can only hear the birds chirping and sounds of the woods."
Kirkland treasures the memories of his family. He considers his
heritage one of great wealth.
His mother died in 1966. He misses her. She may never have
known about his war experiences, or his many medals, but that's okay. One thing he knows for certain and it matters the most: It was the endurance through his earlier days with a strong family background of love and survival together that made him a hero. He saw that in his family's face when he came marching home -- alone -- that day, and that was the best, most lasting, and most necessary hero's welcome of all.
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Annie Rhoden Combs of Sanderson, Florida
Annie Mae (Rhoden) Combs has lived almost a century in Baker
County. Her once strong and melodious voice that frequently rang out
in harmonious gospel tunes is barely audible above a whisper now and
her former active life is more sedate and tranquil. But her bright eyes twinkle and a ready smile creases her face when she talks about "the joy of her life," her husband of 40 years. Fred Combs died in 1964, but Annie likes to remember things that remind her of him.
She was one of eight children born to dark haired, blue eyed
Easter Ann Raulerson and William (Billy) Rhoden "somewhere in Baker
County" on September 11, 1906. Her parents, who married in Baker
County on February 17, 1895, lived most of their lives in the Cuyler section of the county.
It was a loving home where Annie remembers being rocked on
her daddy's lap while he told her wonderful stories, or perched on her mother's knee listening to old fashioned Primitive Baptist gospel tunes. When she was of age, Annie walked the three miles to the three-room Cuyler schoolhouse with her siblings, Ulyss, Hassie, Roy, Carl, Thelma, and Myrtle Lee. Here she finished the seventh grade before marrying Fred Combs at the age of 18.
The couple first met at a county-wide singing convention, an
event quite popular at the turn of the century in Baker County.
"I liked him right away, thought he was the cutest thing I'd ever
seen," she smiled. "And he left the girl he was with to come sit with me, so I knew he liked me too," she said in a 1993 interview.
Fred received permission from Billy Rhoden to court his pretty
daughter. He was allowed to "come calling" but it was understood that "time was up" at 8 o'clock. Annie's parents, and the rest of the family, usually joined the couple on the front porch of the home while they courted.
Annie helped her parents on the farm doing all the usual farm
chores. There was always something to do as the family grubbed a
scant living from the poor soil. There was little or no money for many of the things we take for granted today, she said. For instance, the family used frayed oak twigs for toothbrushes while soda or salt substituted for their toothpaste.
"If you had a toothache back then you just pulled it out
because there were no dentists available," she said with a shudder.
Her brother, Hassie, was called to serve in the Army in France during World War 1, and Annie's family worried about his safe return. They knew life was fragile. A baby brother named Clyde had died. But
Hassie survived the war.
Mother Easter Ann made the family's clothes on a pedal
machine. "There was no such thing as nice wool sweaters or coats to
wear," Annie said, adding that her mother made the family's warm
coats from flannel material.
Her grandparents, Newt and Dora Ann (Thompson) Rhoden
lived in walking distance of her home and she visited them often. And the family shared many meals together.
She remembers that the Rhoden family held many square
dances in their home and that her father stood guard to make sure
things went well because in those days many people drank moonshine.
It was important to her father for families to enjoy being
together without any problems. Annie loved to dance. And she
admits, "before I met Fred, I was a big flirt with the boys." She had lots of boyfriends who would visit her at home; they listened to the radio or just talked on the front porch.
When the Rhoden's neighbors had square dances in their
homes, the family would hitch up their mule and wagon and attend.
But the ride home was intensely dark with only the twinkling stars and beaming moon offering them dim light as they rumbled along the
sandy country road. No one even thought of danger like being robbed
or harmed in anyway, she said. There were no locks on their door at
home because, she noted, "there were no such things as intruders."
Annie remembers seeing her first car one day when she and
her family were traveling down the dusty dirt road in their
mule-hauled wagon on their way to a singing convention. The car was
driven by Mr. Knabb.
"He pulled up beside our ole mule and invited my daddy and
mama to take a ride with him. Some of us children got to come along
too while my oldest brother drove the mule on home. It was a great
invention, that car!" she said.
Church was also the hub of the family's social life in
turn-of-the-century Baker County. At one Sunday School box supper,
Annie had prepared a delicious box dinner for a lucky bidder -- Fred, she hoped. But Fred lost his bid to another boy who was anxious to impress Annie.
"They almost fought, but I still had to eat with the other boy,"
said Annie. "However, Fred came over to me later on and said, 'let's get married'. And I said, 'Well I'll have to think about it, ' but it didn't take me long to say 'yes'," she said.
The Rev. Earl Taylor married the couple February 1, 1925 on the
front porch of her parent's home. Annie was 18. Fred, who was born in Baker County on September 17, 1904, was 20.
"My older sister had tried to tell me what to expect after I got
married, but I didn't believe it," she said shaking her head. "But I
believed it later!" she laughed.
Life for the couple was not easy, even though they lived with
Fred's parents. It was during the Great Depression. The family ate a lot of lima beans and white bacon, Annie remembers. Fred would often go into the woods to kill birds for their supper or catch fish in the nearby river or creek. He worked at a sawmill for a while and Annie described their home as resembling a chicken house that was thrown together.
She had her first child, Willie, on November 25, 1925. At the
sawmill (or log camp as it was often referred to), she and her little son, Willie, rode up and down the tracks on the log train to pass the time. And Fred taught Annie to drive a log truck. Sometimes, she said, they'd even go into Lake City on the log train to see a movie.
When Fred's sister-in-law, Agnes, died from complications in
childbirth 11 days after her son was born, Annie and Fred took the
baby into their home. Fred's brother, Russell, who was the baby's
father, had named his little son Fred Combs, Jr. in Fred's honor. The couple called him "Bunny" and he instantly became as one of their
own. Until they could get the baby's formula regulated, he was nursed by Rosa Taylor, who had a small son named Aubrey (in later years Bunny married Rosa's niece). Bunny's two older siblings, Betty Lou, aged two, and Russell Jr., aged four, remained with their father after he married Corene Raulerson. The couple then had nine children of their own.
It was 15 years after the birth of her first child, Willie, that
Annie gave birth to her only daughter, Mary Carolyn.
Like many other men in the county, Fred indulged in drinking
but after his marriage and birth of the children, he gave it up and
become a minister. Ofttimes during his sermons he would preach
about his conversion. He would tell personal stories -- like the time he stole a bible from a restaurant in Lake City. After he was converted to another way of life he returned to the restaurant to make restitution.
During the early '30's the couple met in the homes of friends
and neighbors to practice their Congregational Methodist religion but, when the group began to grow, Fred, with the help of some other men, built bush arbors throughout the area to house the growing attendance.
Then in 1936, Fred and some other members of the local congregations, who were seeking a deeper spiritual experience than the
Methodist group was offering at the time , heard about the
Congregational Holiness Church. They traveled to the church's headquarters and campgrounds in Carrollton, Georgia, to attend one of the denomination's conferences and to learn more about it. They were
very impressed with the Holiness doctrine and movement and
returned to Baker County to share their new- found knowledge with
the other local church members. Many, like Fred, were looking for a
doctrine built on the laying on of hands and one that believed in
receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. And, too, locally there was much discontentment over the subject of music. Some members did not
believe the church should have music and some, like Fred, did.
Many of the Congregational Methodist members converted to
the new movement and thus began the first Congregational Holiness
Church movement in Florida. Fred served as State Superintendent of
the Florida Church Conference for 18 years. Today there are 16 such
denominations throughout Florida, two active in Baker County, one in
Sanderson, and another in Manntown, south of Glen St. Mary. At one
time there was a church of this order in Taylor.
In 1946 the couple bought a modest little home in Sanderson
for $1,200. The family did without indoor plumbing until 1956, but
Fred had installed a bathtub for the family on the back porch and they hauled water from a hand pump in the back yard to fill it when they bathed. Many couples married on the front porch of their home and until his death not one couple that he married had divorced.
Fred served as Baker County's Road Superintendent for 19
years. In those days it was Fred and a three-man crew who tended to
all of the county's roadways, often using mule teams to pull the road graders. The church grew as Fred preached wonderful sermons at the Sanderson Congregational Holiness Church where he and Annie often
sang duets together. As the children flourished and grew, Annie
enjoyed her role as a minister's wife and mother. She entertained
many visiting revival ministers and once hosted a missionary from
India in their home.
She was an excellent seamstress. In addition to sewing for
individuals she was contacted annually to make the graduation dresses for the student graduates in the black elementary school in
Sanderson. For a short time she worked as a cook at the Sanderson
school cafeteria. At the time, Mary Carolyn was four years old and the teachers let her sit in the first grade class with the other students while Annie worked. When she turned five, the first grade teacher, Eunice Dobson Burnett, was willing to have her stay in the class but said she would have to study the same as the other children. When the school term ended that year, Annie gave up her cafeteria job, but her bright little daughter passed easily into second grade and eventually graduated from Baker County High School at age 16.
As the Church's Superintendent in Florida, Fred was often invited to participate in revivals and deliver sermons for other
Congregational Holiness churches. He worked for the county from 7
a.m. until 4 p.m.. Annie would have supper prepared when he arrived
home and then the couple, with Mary Carolyn, would drive as far away
as Palatka to preach, and most of the time it was late into the night when they would drive back home to Sanderson. With little sleep, Fred reported for work early the next day, and Mary Carolyn to school.
Sometimes the revivals would last as long as two weeks, but
Fred would faithfully drive back and forth each day and night. There
were many times when he had to pay his own travel expenses.
Sometimes the church would take up a "love offering" or supplement
his expenses by giving him food from member's gardens. He was dedicated to his ministry, regardless of the sacrifice.
Annie and Fred loved gospel music and often sang together
during church services and in revivals, accompanied by their daughter on the piano. Annie's favorite song is "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder, I'll Be There."
Music in the church was so important to Fred that he started
his little daughter on piano at the age of six. Mary Carolyn became the first piano student of Virginia (Crews) Combs whose grandfather, Willie Crews, Sr., was pastor of the church at Manntown. The piano lessons cost twenty-five cents. Today she is one of the most accomplished pianists in the county.