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By Ray Gold


     From my home on Sam Creek, in copperhead hollow. About one half mile going west on my south-line fence, all the way to the top of the hill over-looking Spring Creek. On the south side of that fence is where I was one day with my neighbor, “Charley Israel”. He pointed out to me the site of where two different Indian wigwams or tepees had been located many years ago. It was very plain to see that the ground had been built up in about 8 or 9 inches on the space of about 15 or 18 foot across. There were two of these built up places side by side.
     Mr. Israel drew to my attention how plain a view the Indians had of the valleys below, and that it helped explain why people today can go to the hay fields below and find arrowheads that were so plentiful for several years. He also showed me a tree that the Indians had bent over and left it bent pointing to a landmark that was important to them.
     I have visited the same place in recent years and fail to identify the built up areas that I had seen so plain the time that Charley Israel and I were there in about the early 1940’s. It appeared that a bulldozer had been in there and changed the appearance of the area.  I hope this little note of things that were a true picture of what happened in our neighborhood many years ago will be of interest to anyone living in this area in generations to come.


     The Reynolds Mill was built on Spring Creek before the Civil War by James Reynolds who lived on his farm less than a mile north of Hurley. Mr. Charley Israel showed me the spot where the mill was located. While standing on the bridge that crosses Spring Creek just above the site of the mill. He told me the mill was down stream about 100 yards. From where we stood. There is no real evidence that a mill ever existed there at this date, [2000].  The mill was burned by the troops during the Civil War.  He also said that Mr. Reynolds lived in about the same location as where the farm buildings of today are at.


     During the Civil War, the armies of both sides camped near spring water. Some camped in Lane Town Hollow at the spring of water there. Also they camped at another spring about ½ mile north-west from Lane Town Hollow at the old farm home of Clellie Steele. From the old wigwam site on the hill overlooks Lane Town Hollow and the spring on the Clellie Steele place.
     Today [2000] many artifact hunters still find many spent bullets, mostly 58 caliber bullets in the valleys and on the firing range used by the soldiers on west side of the valley where they fired into the hillside.


       Lane Town Hollow was named for the Lane family, they lived at the spring of water in that hollow.  The story handed down to this day is that  the Lane family lived there and Mrs. Lane had gone to visit someone who lived some distance away and was gone about a week.  When she came home she    found her husband dead. The neighbors loaded him in a wagon and took him up Spring Creek toward Browns Spring, and buried him. Apparently this was a very early date, the Wilson’s Creek Battle history  records refers to Lane Town Hollow.
     One day my Aunt Ida Burkhardt ask me if I knew about the 2 tombstones over on the creek bank south of Browns Spring. I told her I had  no knowledge of the stones.  She said there is two tombstones there and that she had saw them when she was young.  That may be where Mr. Lane was buried, I have found no one who knows the location of the stones.


     Samuel Young along with his wife Ella and their family at one time lived along the dry branch just west of where the Bill Drewery family lived for many years.  And some sign is still there if you know just where to look, for the old house place and  along the ditch bank was at one time that I can remember walled up with flat rock the edge of the ditch. My dad said that the house they lived in was a log cabin.
    Sometime after the turn of the century, my grandfather James Harvey Gold bought the place where I have lived since 1942. There was a 2 room house here that my dad and Mom lived in when they were married in 1916. After they moved away from the place.  Sam Young and his family moved onto the place, probably in the 1920’s.  After Sam was somewhat disabled, and stayed in the house much of the time.   The house at that time set down in the valley on the flat, probably in the early 1930’s. A big flood came down the valley and washed fence post through the house and Roy Livingston who lived a short distance away, came down and got Sam out of the house on horseback.  Thereby the dry branch became “Sam Creek” branch. And it seems there has always been  and still is plenty of copperhead snakes up and down this valley, so it is also referred to as “Copperhead Hollow”.  The old house was later moved up on a little higher ground so that would not happen again.


     My mother told me that when they were first married and move to this place. The next year or  so a family lived in the upper end of Lane Town Hollow by the name of Reynolds. They lived in a cabin that had a dirt floor, and the people were very poor and needed help, It may have been during the flu epidemic of 1918. She said she tried to help the best she could, she went every day for a month or so and took food and tried to care for  the woman that was very sick,  the lady died and the rest of the family moved away.
    Michael Drewery [my neighbor] recently saw a bob cat in Lane Town Hollow near where the old cabin stood. Michael said the bob cat never saw him , he was deer hunting and on a stand in that hollow, and watch the bob cat try to catch a squirrel, and it went up a tree, and the bob cat did not try to chase the squirrel up the tree. At least we still have bob cats in the year of 2000. He said the cat turned and set down where Michael could see his chest, and it was white and spotted and he had a short tail.


     When I was about one year old, we moved to Union City, and lived a few months. then moved to Hurley, when we were moving to Hurley in dads Model T. Ford as we were going down the old road south toward Hurley, my dad turned off  of the main road and came west on  a road that does not exist today. It was a road going west from where the lane going to the J.R. Hanafin place, signs of double fence row of trees can still be seen there.   We came west to where my dad had a corn field and pumpkin patch in the corn field. We got a load of pumpkins.  While we were there we went to visit the next door  neighbor, “Uncle Tommie Helton, and Aunt Paralee”, they may be brother and sister, not sure. They lived the first house north up the road from this place. Uncle Tommie Helton was the person who came with John Calvin Robinson from Bedford County, Tennessee, in a wagon in 1890.
     A Mrs. Cummins from Kansas owned the place where Uncle Tommie and Aunt Paralee lived. Later Cub Likins and Uncle Frank Hardman lived there, when Ruby and I lived here in 1938 and 1939. They bought milk from us about twice a week, and they would come and get a quart of milk, I think we charged them .15 cents per quart.  At one time I could have bought the 28 acres where they lived for three hundred dollars. Still later Ulis and Noble  Williams lived there during the 1940’s.  When they moved back to Arkansas Bill and Jean Drewery  bought the place and it is still in their family today.  In about 1996 or 1997  the ashes of James Meade [at his request] was scattered over the pasture on the hill of that place.  Michael Drewery owns the place except about 2 acres where my neighbor lives, her name is Elizabeth Rohlman. [Dec.10, 2000]


    Fred Steele who lived at Hurley for many years, was quite a historian, people depended on him for answers of questions pertaining to times past. He told me a story about the soldiers who camped in Lane Town Hollow. He said one of the Confederate soldiers was on patrol and went up this hollow here where I live on foot and while walking up the ditch he spotted a vein of lead across the ditch it was about a foot wide and was real thick. Fred told me that after the war the same soldier came back to try to find that vein of lead. He did not find the vein, but told the people where he had seen the vein of lead. So that triggered a prospector’s delight,  several mining holes were dug in the area.  The forty acres that joins this one where I live, on the north-east corner of this forty, is to this date called the mining forty.   In the 1930’s Elias Maples owned the forty acres of land. Elias and his sons dug a well in the valley where it forks up there. They dug it in the north-east prong of the valley, and walled it up with rock, it is still there. The well was used to water cattle with during the dry years.


     There is a lot of copperhead snakes in this valley.  As told   by fox hunters and us all who have lived in the valley.
     The fox hunters hunt at night in this area, Homer Hair told me of a hunt he was on, in this hollow. It seems they had a fire built up near an old stump, and they could smell a copperhead but could not see it. After they had been there for a couple hours, the smell got real bad. They took a light and finally located the snake which was coiled beside the stump.  He said they were lucky and did not get bit, but said they were all around that snake but didn’t know he was there.
    I have almost always killed a few each year and I have lived here since 1942. The most I have known of at one time, was in 1978 and I had company, the children found a snake under a piece of tin by the barn, we went to kill it for them.  And there was 2 snakes, my brother-in-law  “Clovis “killed them , they were real big in the middle. So he cut them open and they were full of little copperheads. One had 10 little ones and the other 15. So we got a total of 27 that day.
      One day in August in about 1998 I was near the barn. There was a piece of roofing on the ground I started to move it and saw a snake. So I came to the house and got my old shot gun. I had the grader blade on the tractor so I got on it and pushed the piece of roofing to one side. I saw one copperhead so I shot it. Then I saw another one, I shot it. And then moved up so I could see,  I had killed 3 copperheads with 2 shots. And had just shot the heads off of each one. I only saw 2 of them when I shot.
     This year [2000] I killed one by my west  door  of the south side of the house. It was a big copperhead. Then a few days later I killed another one beside my driveway, It also was a big one. It is about the same story here almost every year. Therefore for the past several years, I have proclaimed this valley to be Copperhead Hollow.
     Other snakes, Yes,  I don’t kill non-poison snakes unless I think one is so big that it might I should kill it to keep it from being a danger to other small animals.  I saw a big whip coach  in the valley below the barn here. He was so big, I hesitate to describe his size. So I came to the house and got my old shot gun. And went back down there on my tractor, and drove up to where I had saw the whip coach go under a pile of brush, I just set there for a few minutes and he stuck his head out about a foot or more, he was just wanting to know what I was doing, and I shot his head off.  Now that was a snake to tell about. Up his side, he was about 3 inches high, but his length was what is hard to believe,  he was about 8 foot long.   Give or take a few feet. Ha.  I didn’t want a snake that big around the place.
     There is a story told by my Uncle Lon seeing a hoop snake that rolled up in a three foot hoop and came by him and his mom just a buzzin is the way he described it.  He saw that snake about  a mile north east of here toward the Molly Wright Cemetery.
     One time I was going down the road, grass was growed up between the two tracks of the road. I was a lad at home, we had a little feist dog that just hunted snakes, that dog was trotting along down the road in front of me when he came onto a big ole black snake across the road, he was laying across the road, and reached all the way across in the grass at both ends. This little dog jumped right on that old black snake and I couldn’t see the dog very good for the snake, he was that big.  The dog caught him back behind his head about foot and shook him real hard. The snake was so big the dog almost give out before he got the thing killed. The dog sure was hot shaking that thing. The dog layed down and looked at me, he was trying to tell be how proud he was of himself for getting that big one.
     One morning the dog went to the field with us boys where we were cutting sprouts off of stumps in the corn field. Our dad came up there at 8;30 that morning and our little dog had already killed four snakes, he went from sprout to sprout hunting them .   He was a good little dog. He was several different colored dog,  Gray, blue, black, white, you name it. We called him “Freckles”
this happened when I was growing up at home.


     One time we had a nice looking border collie, it was black with white on its neck and in its face, a nice smart looking dog.  One day I was a work and Ruby called me and said our dog was slobbering and running in to things around the place, and said it might be mad.  I came home to see if I could kill it. It was under the house and wouldn’t come out. I waited until that night  and the dog came out and was still acting real strange. We were all afraid of it. So the dog went down the valley below the house and I got in my car and drove as close as I could get and shot the dog.
     The next day I was talking to someone that said to me, that dog was not a mad dog, it was wormy,  so we all learned a lesson, we lost a good dog that just needed help.  We all felt bad and have always kept our dogs wormed since then.  So that is the story about the mad dog.
     They say there was a  family lived in Barnett Hollow that had a boy that got a splinter in his hand from a log shed  , where they kept a rabbied dog. The boy went mad and  died because he did not know that  the splinter was infected by the rabbied dog. That happened at a early date, but the old log shed is still standing, in the year of 2000. This  story was furnished by Davy Hair,  it had been told to him by family members.


     Back in the thirties and forty’s we didn’t have the combine to harvest the grain.  But we had the old grain separator [thresher]. Someone had to keep a threshing machine to do the grain harvest for as many farmers as one machine could take care of.   The thresher would start out as soon as the grain was ready,  usually the oats were first to be ready to put through the threshing machine. The thresher man most of the time was the owner. He would start out as soon as he could find a crop that was dry enough to thresh, and all of the neighbors who had grain ready. The thresher man would go from farm to farm on a route basis, and all the neighbors would  swap work, with each o keep the machine busy until all the farmers had their grain in the bin. This system worked very well, until the combine came along, that was affordable for each farmer to own his machine.
      In this area a couple of the men who did the threshing of the grain were;  Andy Wright and Jim Anderson.  They are the ones that I  remember as I was growing up.
     The grain was usually cut, bundled, and shocked. The  shocks were out in the field where the grain was cut. I have pitched the grain bundles with a pitch fork on to a bundle wagon pulled by a team of horses or mules that went directly to the grain separator. The man on the bundle wagon would pitch the bundles into the separator. Sometimes three or more wagons would be in the same field loading or unloading bundles, until the job was done.  The grain was bagged and hauled to the barn or in some cases to the mill in town.
     The job of feeding a crew of harvest hands was done by the farmers wife and neighbor wives.  They all got together and done the job for the whole neighborhood.
      The straw from the grain was blown into a stack and later baled with a stationary baler.  A lot of these old grain separators and other out-dated farm machinery was donated to a museum or in some cases, they were put in places where once a year they have steam engine shows along with the old grain separator.   The grain combine has made the grain harvest a lot quicker and easier, So that is one of the ways progress has helped the farmer in this area.


     The first step to making brooms is;  you have to grow the broom corn, which is the straw that a broom is made from. The broom corn is planted in rows like corn or any other row crop.  When it is grown it is about eight or nine feet tall. The tassel is what you want to get its full growth, because that is the only part that is used in making a broom. When it is ready to harvest, it is a system of its own.  You walk backwards between two rows,  you reach to your right and get a arm full of the tall broom corn about waist high and break it over to about a 45 degree angle, then reach to your left and do the same, crossing it with the other one. This makes a table about waist high. You just keep backing down between the rows, breaking and crossing all the way across the field. These tables will have the tassel or head of the broom corn hanging off of each side, When you have it all tabled. You go back with a good knife and clip the head off and leave a shank on it about four to six inches long, and  when you get a hand full, just lay it up on the table to dry. If the wind don’t blow too much, it will be in good shape until it is dry enough to take to the barn and it is ready to thresh the seed out of it.
    The way we threshed broom-corn, we took it a handful at a time and held it over a cylinder full of nails, pulled by a engine. It was dried as much as possible on a rack or table by spreading it out for a few days,  later it was bundled into bundles that could be handled with ease.
     When it is dry and ready to be put into a broom, it is run over a cutter box to be cut to the right length to make into a broom.
     My dad ordered his broom handles from a company in Kansas City, MO., and other supplies that were necessary to make a broom.  He had a broom tying machine, where he tied the straw on the handle, after which he put it in a press and shaped it like a broom.  He sewed it by hand, and finally when it was sewed, he put it in a cutter box to cut all the straws off even.  The broom was ready to be labeled and bundled into a dozen in a bundle. The brooms were ready for market.
    He would put them in the back of his model T ford and take them to Union City,  Possum Trot, Boaz, Hurley, Clever, Quail Spur, Browns Spring, or Crane,  at least these were the main places where he marketed his brooms.
      He first started making brooms here where I now live. He said the first winter he made one hundred dozen and sold them as fast as he made them.  He finally sold his broom making machinery in about 1940.  I  hated to see it go. It was an interesting trade, along with Dad’s job as automobile mechanic, it all helped him provide for his family during the great depression.


     Right down in the hard part of the great depression, the government had on hands a lot of cotton that it had bought from the farmer during one of their farm price emergency programs, and people were having hard times. So the government put on a program to help use up the huge stockpile of cotton that they had no other way to dispose of,  This was a good program at the time.  They shipped boxcar loads of cotton to the counties, and you could get enough to make a mattress. The way I remember it the government also furnished all the material to complete a mattress. All we had to do was go to one of their places and help make our own mattress. I don’t  recall just how it was done, but that is just another way the government tried to help us all during the great depression.


     Poke salad was bought by the truck load from the local dealers, who tried to help increase local income from a source that was a blessing to us all. It grows on land that may not be used for anything except pasture and wild plants.  This area was a natural that the time. The bull dozer had cleared a lot of the land in the area, and this made a good place for wild poke to grow.  The wife and children would go up and down the hills and hollows and gather wild poke where ever they could find it.  I worked at the Hurley Farmers Exchange, and they bought poke by the sack full or by the pickup truck load. It was paid for by the pound. Once a week or so the buyer would come and pick it up in a truck with a stock rack on it. The poke was taken to a cannery and processed and canned and sold in stores everywhere as poke salad. This just happened for about 2 years. Now it is doubtful if you could find enough wild poke to sell and process at a profit. So as far as I know it has been discontinued everywhere.


     Blackberries were picked and marketed in much the same way as the wild poke salad.  It was a good source of income for the farm families and gave the children income of their own. The berries were also taken to the local dealers and the picked up by the processors or cannery people. This was done for several years, and helped to put more income into the communities that had wild blackberries in them  there hills. They were boxed in strawberry boxes and crates so they wouldn’t get mashed up too bad.
     The chiggers were always in the way, if you didn’t like to pick black berries anyway, but the kids didn’t mind too  much.  They made a little extra spending money.


     I worked  a lot of the time between 1942 and 1945, and in the 1950’s. In  the 50’s, I bought hides for the Exchange of several animals including, opossum, racoon, skunk, civet, fox, mink, muskrat, etc. This was also a good source of income for the good trapper, whether he be a kid or a grown-up. Some trappers made a lot of money during the trapping season each winter. We had a buyer who came around about once every two weeks and bought what hides we had on hands. Or I would go with him out to where I thought we might find a good bunch of hides. Our buyer was was Barry County, and he always seen that I made a little profit for the Exchange. There seemed to be good trapping places all up and down Spring Creek, for mink and muskrats, etc.
     We also bought rabbits, that were trapped or hunted and shot. The rabbit had to be fresh and gutted and ready to sell.  We took them to Biggs and Co. in Springfield about twice a week. They were sold mostly to people in the city. The rabbit was easy to trap, the school kids would set their rabbit traps, (called rabbit gums) which were made out of a hollow log, or old lumber, a rabbit would not go in a gum made out of new lumber, they were afraid of it.  Anyway the gum had a trap door, on frosty nights the rabbit would go in to the gum and he would trip a trigger that let the door drop behind him, and there was no way out.


     I was one of the last, if not the very last person to test cream at a local dealer for the customer in Stone County.  A lot of people just had a couple cows and sold the cream which was hand skimmed from the milk. Each week they could sell enough cream to buy most of their groceries.
    Our buyer that came by each week and picked up our cream was from Producers Creamery, located at Cabool, Missouri.  One day in about 1952 he came by and said they would no longer pick up cream in our area. That was the last cream testing that I knew of in Stone County, and I was the one who done that testing.  Just another one of our simple ways of life gone forever. Now we are lucky if we have someone in the family who wants to go pick enough blackberries to make a blackberry cobler.


      They were our next door neighbors when we lived here in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. Where Ulis and Noble Williams lived later, they finally went back to Arkansas and Bill and Jean Drewery bought the place.
    Uncle Frank Hardman and Cub, rented the place from Mrs. Cummins who lived in Kansas, I believe.  They bought milk from Ruby and I, about 2 qts, per week, at about .15 cents per quart.  Uncle Frank was not able to stir around much , but Cub walked to Hurley almost every day when it was not raining. I thought he had something to do with the Spring Creek Mill.  He may have been a partner in the mill with Hick Whinnery, who was the father-in- law to Loyd Howard, who later ran the mill for several years before moving it to Crane in the late 1950’s. Cub would walk down the railroad track, just take his time, probably an hour to get to Hurley.


Copyright 2001