[Given to Beth Dix by Jim Williams, ca 2005. Mrs. Leicester was his aunt and wrote this around 1977.]
I am now 70 years old and as I look around me and try to think of someone who can set me straight on the stories I have been told, there seems to be no one to whom I can go for correction or information. Most all have slipped away, and I know even if I live to be very old, time is very short for me. Let that be as it may be, I thought I would write down a few things before it was too late.
John Downing Castellow lived on the new road, had a small farm and reared a set of children sometime a good while before the Civil War Between the States, 1861. It seems to me his wife was a Todd, but I am not sure. On the road between Greens Cross and Sandy Point lived a family just across Turkey Swamp whose names were Love. One of John Downing's boys named Jim married the daughter of the Love family named Hester. Jim went to live with Hester in her home and they had a large family. By the time the boys in the family were grown, the war broke out and part of the boys and their father had to go and fight. Jim was killed and some of the boys were taken prisoners, but as I understand, the younger boy who was named Jimmy for his father, survived. He came back, married a girl and lived somewhere on the Bull Hill road or not too far from Askewville. There were three girls of the Hester Love Castellow family, Mattie, Roxanna Jane & Barbara.
Notes from Pete Austin: Greens Cross was three miles on US 17 north of WINDSOR, Bertie Co NC. The new road was a connector to Goose Town near Colerain that passed near by Perry Town and Askewville (7 mile from Windsor). For years there was a fire tower lookout in the wedge Y shaped divide where the new highway was built off of US 17. The Castelows were regionally from Merry Hill and Eaton House area and the Hoggard from Askewville.There was a school teacher who lived down the road between Greens Cross and Sandy Point whose name was Duncan Cale. He was the son of Charney Cale and lived, I think, in his old home place. He had some slaves at one time and I remember Mother telling about the slave living in his little house in the yard. He was very religious and could often be heard singing and praying. The boys would slip out and hide so they thought he would not know they were there. One night they did that and he was saying "Take it out of the ram's horn, and put it in the golden trumpet, to thee, oh Lord my Godlum". They, being rude like most boys, said "You old rascal". He began to sing again, but this time he was singing to them without saying anything to them. He sang, "Behave-yer, behaver-yer is all I do require". They then ran off and left the old slave alone to worship as he saw fit. Duncan Cale's wife was named Harriet and I think she was the daughter of Lichey Hoggard. They had several sons died in the war. One, named Bill, married a woman named Mary and lived in Windsor. They had a daughter named Lizzie of whom I just can remember Mother taking me to see and her mother just before her mother died. Mother would take sweet potatoes and things from the garden to her. Aunt Mary stayed in the bed and her daughter, Lizzie, looked out for her and never married. She did not live very long after Aunt Mary died.
There was another son named Dancy. He became a preacher and married Hester Love Castellow's daughter, Mattie. He bought a place belonging to Mr. Aaron Phelps once owned by the Suises, remodeled it and lived there for some 15 or 16 years.
Frank Cale was born to Duncan and Harriet Cale on February 21, 1854. He married Roxanna Jane Castellow, daughter of Hester Love Castellow. Their first son, John L. Cale was born September 7, 1876. A daughter was born October 19, 1878, Josephine (which was my mother). A son, William Franklin, was born July 21, 1881.
They bought a place and built a home on land adjoining his brother, Dancy's land, now owned by Jessie Sanderlin. Franklin and Jane lived in a 4-room house with a big kitchen in the yard. The house had two large front rooms with fireplaces and an entry in the back, a big front porch with plenty of oak trees for shade. With their little farm and good garden, they were very happy till one day in July 1884, Jane was taken sick. I am not sure, but I think it had to do with childbirth or of that nature. They had the doctor and he thought it would do good if they would lance her arm and take some blood. Josephine being 5 and too small to remember details, said she could remember seeing the doctor come from the room with a gourd full of blood. She was soon told her mother was dead. She began to cry! One of the neighbors who came in to help, told her not to cry. If she wouldn't cry, she would give her a dip of snuff. She was given the snuff and continued to use it, but it did not help her problem much.
She and her two brothers, John & Frank, were soon taken to her Uncle Dancy's home so her Aunt Mattie could take care of them. Aunt Mattie had 4 children of her own; Jane, John, Willie and Vashtye. However, she did the best she could. Jane being a little older than Josephine, was alot of help to her keeping her mind off her mother and the loss of her home. She was just getting use to staying with her aunt and uncle, when her daddy came in and announced he was to be married and that they would all go home again. So on October, 19, 1884 (only 3 months after her mother died) Franklin Cale married Josephine Sanderlin, whom he had never seen till after his wife had died. However, his land joined the land on one side of John Sanderlin. His sister came from East Lake to visit her brother and a wedding was soon planned. The last daughter of Hester Love Castellow married Daniel Jones from Hertford County, and he came and lived with them in her home. Hester soon had her a home to herself because with the family beginning to increase, Daniel and Barbara built them a house just at the front of the old home and moved in. Hester, being quite independent, was all right in her house and all went well until there was to be another child added to the family. This time they decided to have a doctor! Hester did not like that one bit! Hadn't she delivered every one of the others without trouble! Not only her daughter's children, but many children in the neighborhood. As she was told she was not needed, she got up and went out quickly in a huff, I guess. Anyway, the ground was slick on the back side of the house and she slipped and fell breaking her hip. As far as I know she never walked again but lived a long time confined to her bed in her house.
Franklin Cale married, took his family home and tried to start all over again. His new wife was raised at East Lake, N.C., where the most of the people she knew fished for a living. She could tie nets, hang them and do most any of the work pertaining to fishing. So Franklin bought nets, got a boat and started to fish in the spring for herring down the Cashie River. He sold what he could, fresh, corned some and dried the rest. The family began to increase. Josephine the wife, soon called on Josephine the daughter, to nurse her babies and look after the little ones while she did alot of chores including taking in sewing. When time and age came around for school, there seemed to be no time for little Josephine. There was a schoolhouse at Sandy Point. Like other neighborhood schools, there was only one teacher for all seven grades. Reading, Riting, Rithmatic and Spelling were taught with authority.
When the subject came up about school, Josephine was told one day she could go, but right now she was needed at home to baby sit. She was promised a new dress if she did well. When all promises seemed to fail, little Josephine would be permitted to go to school a few days and then her stepmother would tell her if she would stay home and look after the children, she would make her a dress, for she really needed one. The only one she had, had to be washed and ironed on the days she was home to be worn when she chanced to go again. But by nightfall on the day she was hired to tend the children, there would be some scolding for something, and the announcement that there would be no dress for punishment. All in all she did learn to read, write, spell and do some arithmetic, but she had such little chance to go and so little to wear, she gave up at an early age to succumb to her plight.
Day school was held in the winter months at the little schoolhouse but Sunday School was held each Sunday evening. Although Franklin was a member at Greens Cross Church, they went to Sunday School at the Sandy Point schoolhouse alot of the time.
Not far from where the Cale's lived, there had been a small plantation owned by Soloman Asbell who had died and left a part of the land to a son named Alonza Asbell, who married Christine Farmer and raised a large family of 5 boys and 6 girls; Tom, Leigh, Henry, Nathaniel & George -- Ann, Elizer, Emmie, Jane, Joe & Bet (Elizabeth). It seemed Alonza died and most of the children married and went to establish their own homes leaving Christine (Kiddy), her daughter (Bet) and the two younger boys (Nathaniel and George) home. The farm had gone down with no one to manage and surely Christine did not know how to go about doing much with two young boys, and one of them crippled with rheumatism since he was a child. He would cry and not be able to walk or use his hands very well. This left only Nathaniel and an old steer to do what little they could with only Bet to help out. By going to Sunday school and the little bit of day school, Josephine chanced to meet Nathaniel (Nat) as he was called. He was shy and not quite up to average dress and manner, but he was very kind and understanding to her. He seemed to want to help her in any way he could by carrying her dinner pail and if she chanced to have a book to be carried. John claimed the books were his and what time there was to study, it always seemed he had to have them. Grandpa thought they both could use the one set of books which consisted of Reading, the blue back speller, some math and, of course, spelling the "speller bee". The paths were muddy and bad most of the time, making it hard to travel. Nat had a since of humor. Josephine asked him how he came down that muddy path and not get his shoes muddy? He said he just turned to a spider and hopped over the mud. By this time, Josephine had not only her older brother and younger brother John & Frank, but yet another half brother, Dance and half sister named Lizzie plus Mr. Todd.
The major amusement for the young people in the community was to get together and square dance. They had no one to show them steps or style, but they liked to shuffle around by the music. Someone would blow the breathharp or play a fiddle. All the gang joined in to "sing and play" they called it. There would be a quilting and wood-cutting or corn-shucking in the afternoon and a sugar-stew at night with everyone joining in to play. Sometimes Josephine and John would chance to go if all was well at home. Most every boy and girl in the neighborhood would be there and all would have a good time together. After the party, a great crowd would walk home together, boys with their special girl.
Franklin had a sister named Millie Jane Thomas. She had a number of girls; among them, was one named Hattie. John would walk with her and Nat with Josephine. Jane had a boyfriend named Ike Piland. All in all, there would be a long trail of boys and girls going along the path together. In the wintertime when people were not too busy farming, there would be alot of these (sprees as they called them) going on.
Sometime about now, there came a man to the home and asked if there might be a chance of getting some work. He had no home and few relatives, if any. Frank was very busy and the boys were not big enough to help much, so he put the man to work. His name was Jack Todd. He had little if any learning, but he could plow, chop wood, do most any work around the place, so he stayed for a while. But as the family grew, money was short, so Franklin decided he could use the money better some other way and told Jack he could go, but Jack refused to go. He had found himself a home and he was not about to give it up now. He would just stay on anyway. So he did. He chopped wood, mended fences, hoed ground and anything there was to do. One day while he was in the woods splitting wood, Josephine thought she would scare him a bit, so she slipped up behind him just as he threw back his maul to split the wood and struck her on the head. The blood flew; scared him so bad he thought he had killed her. He took her in his arms and ran to the house as fast as he could. He washed her face and head and said how sorry he was, but of course there was no doctor and she was just scolded for such act.
Another time, Josephine and John were under the shelter playing and John went up the loft knocking a cotton plow point down hitting Josephine on the head, cutting a large gash. Again, there was no medical attention. One day Josephine was playing in the field with John. He crossed the ditch and she tried to follow him but she fell in and got all wet. She was so frightened, she cried and said, "I don't know whether to go to Uncle Dancy's or go to the plum trees, for she knew she would be punished if she went to her home all wet from top to bottom. John laughed at her for he was not wet nor cared if she was.
Nathaniel's sisters had to card and spin before they were married and they had a set amount to be done by bedtime. One time they were invited to a spree and their mother didn't want them to go until they had finished their work. Somehow they did go and told why they were late. One of the neighbors sent their mother a broach of thread already spun just to make her feel ashamed.
Nathaniel and Josephine saw as much of one another as possible and became quite fond of each other. Nat was a grown man by now and felt he had a right to his own life, so he arranged to have some logs cut and built a one-room log house with a fireplace. He bought a bed, had six chairs made and a table, bought a pot, a spider with a long handle and legs, a few more things necessary for cooking in the fireplace and he was ready to ask Josephine to be his wife.
Now she was raised in a house that had lathes and plaster on the walls, a good tight floor and a warm place to sleep. However, it takes young people to venture into the unknown, so when Nat proposed, she accepted at the age of 18. She could see no reason they could not live on what they had and do without the rest. Plans were made for the wedding. She must have a new dress at least. With so many children in the family and other things to be done, her stepmother had no time for that. However, Josephine had a mighty good colored friend (Jennie Heckstall) who had been kind to her in many ways since her mother died, so if her Pa would buy the cloth, she would ask Jennie if she would make her a dress. She could sew just as good as Mama could, she was sure. Pa was sure she would make the dress so he bought the cloth. It was a real pretty blue, had some wool and a little silkish look. Now, if she just could get Jennie to make it. Well Jennie said she would and the work began. Only thing was, it needed a little trimmings; some white buttons, but there was none. Jennie said, "I'll make some." So she did. She cut them out of pasteboard and covered them with white silk cloth. They made the dress look real pretty and it fitted real nice. For a girl of 18, Josephine would be real dressed up.
The wedding date was set for the night of January 6, 1897. She must invite all her friends and get the whole house in order, lamps oiled and trimmed. Mr. Todd saw to it that there were plenty of logs on the fire in the fireplace.
Nathaniel asked Mr. George Harden to come and perform the ceremony. So before a house full of friends and kin, they were married. There was no money for a trip, so right to their new home they went; one room, bed, chest, table & chairs, and a few things to cook with and a few dishes. A big fire in the fireplace made it look much more cheery. So their married life began. Winter was not but just begun, so there were snows, rain and all that goes with winter. It seemed a little cramped in one room, but they were determined to make the best of it. The house was new and kept out the rain real good. If the wind blew too cold, they would hang a bedquilt on the wall over behind the bed to keep the wind from coming through the cracks between the logs. But the house was covered with handmade boards and though rain could not get in, somehow if it snowed and the wind blew at the same time, the snow would sift thru the cracks and everything in the room would have snow on it. So if they looked for snow at night, they would bring in plenty of wood for fire in the morning, put a hoe under the bed and Josephine would wear her bonnet to bed. Nat would rake the snow to the fireplace with the hoe the next morning, get the fire going real good, then Josephine would jump out of bed, get dressed real quick, then finish sweeping the snow off everything.
They had had no time to dig a well yet, so they fetched water from Nathaniel's mother's house. Josephine thought with water to be brought so far, while there was plenty of snow, it would be a good time to melt snow in the pot on the fire and scrub the floor. So they brought in snow to fill the pot only to find when it had melted they had only a little bit of water. It took many pots of snow before there was enough water to scrub with, but they finally made it with a hoe and rag. A well was soon dug and a shelf placed just outside the front door to put the wooden bucket on with its coconut hull dipper. Of course, there was a bucket near the fireplace for cooking use and a gourd to dip the water from it with. Such was the water sisturn for the home. There was a wooden keel for hand and foot washing and the soap was made at home from lye, water and grease. Only a small bar for special face care and company was bought when the eggs were taken to the store for trade. Coffee, sugar, snuff and tobacco took most of the egg money and little else was bought, just what it seemed had to be had.
Spring soon began to appear, longer days, birds singing, flowers about to appear. Jonquils seemed to be the first to say, "Spring is Here". There were also apple blossoms and all seemed to take on new life. "Nat", that is what Josephine had learned to call him, was busy getting ready to plant corn. His steer seemed more frisky now that it was warmer. One day they thought it might be wise to try to catch them some herring fish, to salt away for the coming days, so they took off one afternoon to try their luck. Mr. Robert Phelps lived near Ellis's store by the creek. He owned both boat and net and always made Nat welcome to use it. It seemed to be the best way to go about getting their fish. Nat hitched the steer to the cart. Josephine "Jo" as he called her, and he road through the woods to Mr. Phelps, got the net, went down the creek, tied the steer to a tree, got in the boat, rounded a few bends in the creek and put down for a strike. They did not wait long before the fish began to run. Two, three, five at a catch. They were having fun. Nat was dipping the fish up and Jo was putting them in the bag. All out of the blue, it began to thunder. More fish ran in the net, almost as many as could be lifted in the boat. More thunder and more fish, but they knew it was going to rain. They fished as as long as they dared to stay, then hurried for the landing, loaded the fish and net in the cart and made it to Mr. Roberts just in time. He was so kind as to have the gate open for them. They drove right up to the shelter, tied the steer and ran to the house. By the time they hit the porch, the rain was coming down, and come down it did until the trash in the yard washed toward the ditch which overflowed and ran down toward the creek. There was no let-up in the rain till well after dark. Mr. Robert invited them to spend the night, but they had all the fish to clean and must get home as soon as possible to start. With no ice, they must get salt on them tonight. Mr. Robert told them if they must go, he would give them some long litewood splinters to make a torch for light to drive by. The splinters were lighted and Jo was to hold them for light so Nat could drive. The Steer was anxious to get home, so they were on their way. The path was rough -- around stumps, roots, mud holes -- up and down and around. All in all, it was hard to keep the steer straight at any time. Now he was going so fast they could hardly stay in the cart. Nat would pull the lines as tight as he could and say, "Jo, hold the light a little higher". Jo tried so hard to hold on with one hand and hold the torch a little higher for more light, but the steer got faster. All in all, they feared for their lives for surely he would turn the cart over and pour both of them in a mud hole. The good Lord was looking out for them. They held on someway and managed to get home without being turned over, but surely in much less time than it took them to go.
It took a big part of the night to clean and salt the fish. It was a weary couple of young people who went to bed in the wee hours of the morning, making them sleep a little later the next day. Josephine was washing the breakfast dishes when she heard Nat call! She went out to see what he wanted. Nat said, "I know now what was wrong with the steer last night". She ask, "What?". He said, "Come and I will show you". The long fat litewood splinters they were using for a torch was dropping hot tar down on the old steer's back, burning his rump with every drop. There on his back was where the tar had dropped and the more tar that dropped the more he was burned. The more he was burned, the faster he went. So indeed they were thankful for their fish but more thankful to be alive. You live to learn.
Life and changes were going on in the community. Uncle Dancy's daughter had married Ike Piland and was living with his people between Sandy Point and Cashie River. Uncle Dance got a call to a church in Potecasi and had moved the rest of his family with him there. Pa bought the place Uncle Dance owned and moved his family over there. Uncle John Cale got a mail route and took a corresponding course in vocal music. He taught singing in schools from time to time about the country, but did most of his teaching at home. Frank got a job in town and tried to work and go to school to prepare himself to be a preacher.
Fishing the pound nets proved to be good business for Pa. Mr. Todd did the home chores and early plowing and planting of the corn and cotton. Pa and the boys fished. Mama (Josephine, his wife) and the girls mended nets, dried the fish and a lot of other things. So there was money to paint the house (a colonial A-framed two story with 2 shed rooms, hall, dining room and kitchen in the el with a big back and front porch painted white with green trimming, windows and doors and painted woodwork inside the pretty wallaper everywhere that was not plastered. There were pretty, large fireplaces in each of the two front rooms. The setting room was where Mama and Pa slept. (A dresser in the front corner, a lamp stand by the window, a white iron high headed bed in the corner next to the hall.) The bedposts were topped with brass knobs. On the right side of the fireplace in the corner was a lounge, big high back rockers were in the front of the fireplace. The door was in the other corner, opening into the hall right by the stairs closet. The parlor had paint on the woodwork, floral wallpaper on the walls, matting covered the floor from wall to wall. There was the family organ, the graphophone with its shiny horn on a pretty table, two settees and some large comfortable chairs, another table with the parlor lamp on it and the picture album on the bottom shelf. Mr. Todd had one of the shed rooms for himself, the other shed room and the two rooms upstairs were shared by the rest of them.
There must have been as much as an acre of land fenced in for the yard and lot. Not far from the house on the right side on the sunset way, there was a well with a wooden curb, a tall sweep and a pole with the bucket attached with which to draw the water. There was a trough to water the team with, a block for which to place the water bucket on while you drew water, several large oak trees stood around to keep it shady and cool. A good distance beyond the well was the barn shelters and stalls. On the right, not too far from the well, stood the fish house. After the fish had been washed and salted a day, they were taken out of the salt, washed again, put on reeds and hung up to dry. The reed was stuck through the fish, as many as could be put on them, then put on racks made for them. A smoke was made from hickory wood down on the ground to smoke them till they were dry. They then were taken down and sold for 2 cents a piece. The process would then start all over again. Fishing would last from early March through May. Then the nets were taken up, mended and tared, and hung up for another year. The farm work carried on till harvest. As Pa (grandpa) got able, he bought more equipment and eventually a gas motor boat to help out with the fishing, a nice horse and big old buggy for the family.
John soon married and took his bride, "Miss Charlie Revel" from somewhere near Murfreesboro, home with him. They could have a room upstairs but needed a kitchen, so a kitchen and dining room was built just out in front of the kitchen to the house.
Frank married Virginia Harrell and moved to Richmond to further his education and preach.
The Asbell clan was pretty well settled by now. Elizer married Charles Phelps and they lived near Harden Mill with a crowd of children, Levenea Elizabeth, (Aunt Em as she was called) married William Mizell and lived near the Harden Mill also. Marinda Ann married Thadeus Mizell and lived at the place now known as the Ann Place. Jane married Joe Conner and lived almost in front of her mother across the land. Tom Bill married Katie Mizell. She died and he then married her sister Bettie and lived where Aline Sanderlin, his daughter, now lives. Leigh married Cenie Miller and lived near the Harden Mill. Jim Henry married Lucy Lawrence and lived not far from the mill road. George married a widow named Gullian Connor and lived in Windsor where she could help him take care of the Baptist church, about the only thing he could do with the rheumatism always taking him down.
Elizabeth lived at home with her mother (known as Kitty) fell in love with Lee's wife's brother, Guss Miller. She spent lots of nights and weekends at her brothers home and to her dismay, found she was to have a child and her lover had decided to leave the county to seek work and did not return for a long time leaving poor Bet (as she was called) to have her child and raise her as best she could. The little girl's name was Ellen. About this time or to be exact, on October 18, 1897, Josephine presented Nathaniel with a beautiful little girl. How happy they were to have this addition to their family. But their joy was short lived. On November 13, 1897, they awakened to find their girl had smothered sleeping between her parents and only 1 month old. She had gotten the mother's breast over her nose, cutting off her chance to breath. What a comotion this caused. There was so much to do and so little will to do anything. Josephine was almost overcome with both grief and guilt for it was her breast over the child's nose. Nat had to get Mr. White to make a casket. The ladies of the neighborhood came in to bathe and dress the baby, do the chores and comfort Josephine as best as they could. At that time, the preacher did not live in the community, so a deacon was usually asked to come to the home and read some scripture, have a prayer, then all would follow a little farm wagon carrying the casket. The kind neighbors having already dug the grave the morning before, would put the casket away while the family and everyone waited. They would fill the grave and pack the dirt nice and smooth. If there were any flowers, they would very reverently lay them in place. No one was in a hurry to leave. There was such an atmosphere of love and respect, you could feel it. No one had very much to share but was always willing to do anything they could to help a neighbor in grief and trouble. Nat and Josephine were very downhearted and Mama Kiddy was too. Bet, with a child, and no one to help her out on the farm; there seemed to be nothing left for her to do but to sell the farm in order to have something to live on. She spoke to the family about it. Everyone seemed to be very well settled except Nat. Why did he not buy the place and let her and Bet stay right there as they were, but Nat had no money with which to buy the farm. What could he do?
Ann had a boy named Stark who was Nat's nephew. Stark did some work at Harden's mill and some carpenter's work. He had married Sara Mizell, the oldest girl of John & Pernicia Mizell. They lived at the mill in Mr. Harden's house. They would like to have a home. Nat asked Stark about both of them buying the farm together for $500, ($250) each. He was willing, so they bought the farm and divided it. Mamma Kiddy, Bet and Ellen lived in the old home as usual. Stark was to move where Nat & Josephine lived, and Nat built a two-room frame house on his half of the farm. A little kitchen was built in the yard, also out buildings. On March 4, 1899, there was born to Nat & Josephine another little girl. The first girl had been named Hattie Jane for Josephine's mother, but now the second one would just have a name not especially for anyone, so they called her Eva Leigh Asbell. Before Eva was 2, she had a sister born February 11, 1901 named Julia Revel Asbell. About this time or a little before, there came news among the neighbors there was to be a mill down by the river. Already there were strange men calling on the people asking if they would like to sell their timber land. Now money was very scarce and land was cheap so when they would offer to buy a person's woods land for five hundred dollars, that sounded like a lot of money to them. So people sold their land, timber and all for a very small amount of money. True to the talk there was goings on down by the river. A firm from Norfolk came down by boat and put up a big steam sawmill. There was a big ban saw, dry kills and the whole works ready to cut and ship back to Norfolk the vast amount of timber the buyers had bought.
Now the lumber was shipped by barge, pulled by tug boats, but the logs had to be gotten out of the woods. A railroad track was laid and a train brought with alot of cars to take the logs from the woods to the mill. The railroad track came through the Asbell field and was laid right on the line between Stark Mizell and Nathaniel Asbell's field and on up in the big woods as it was called at that time.
People began to get jobs at the mill, others took contract to cut logs and would hire men to do the sawing. Now the company had to have cross ties to put under the railroad tracks, so a man would contract the job to get the ties hewn. Never before had there been so many opportunities to work. But the people were not used to public work and knew nothing about what they should be paid, so again they were taken in. Eighty cents a day from 6 in the morning till 6 in the PM was the wages offered and people took it, only too glad to have some way to make a little. Nat & Stark had borrowed the money to pay for the farm, five hundred dollars ($500). That was $250 a piece. Making a living with a steer and plow was hard enough, but to get $250, you just knew it would take a lifetime.
Nat got him a job at the mill and so did Jim Henry, Nat's brother. Nat had a long way to go, but Jim Henry had two more miles. Both of them had to walk and be there by 6 o'clock and work hard after they got there. They caught boards off the chain that came from the saw. One morning Nat was awakened by Jim Henry saying, "Wake up, it's time to go to work". Nat got up and looked at the clock and saw it was only 2 AM. He asked Jim Henry what he was going so early for. Jim Henry had looked at his clock wrong somehow and so afraid he would be late, had breakfast, took his dinner pale and walked the 2 miles to Nat's house. The little bit of farming was left for Josephine and what help she could get once in a while. Nat worked to try to pay for the place. Times for them were still hard. They were expecting another child. So Nat got Aunt Jane's son, Leigh, to come and dig the peanuts that fall. On October 7, 1903, a son was born to them and they named him Charnie for great grandfather Charnie Cale and Franklin for Josephine's father. They were so very proud to have a son and were sure the good Lord had heard their prayers for a son. So much so, Josephine sometimes called him Samuel for Samuel of Hanna who prayed in the temple for a son. He had white hair and blue eyes and like most boys was very energetic. Mama Kiddy (Papa's mama) said she could see his white head running around the house from where she lived. There was an old gander in the yard, too. She did not know which was the busiest running around, Charnie or the old gander. However, about the time Charnie was 2 1/2, Mammie Kiddy died leaving Bet and Ellen alone and without funds to live on. Uncle Haywood Johnson hired Bet for a farm hand and she took Ellen and moved to the Shade Place (Whit and Gar's home) so she could work for Mr. Johnson, leaving the old home empty.
I don't know why, but Josephine (my mother) felt like if it were possible for her mother-in-law, she would come back after she had died. So Josephine looked for every sign of her that might be. Now we know people don't return from the dead, but she thought she would! One day Josephine was going to Aunt Jane Conner's and had to pass the old house, all empty except a few peanut vines that Cousin Stark stored in it. Just as Josephine was passing and looking with all expectations, sure enough she heard her coming toward the door. Josephine was more frightened than she had ever been and would have run for her dear life, but she had the children with her and dared not tell them how frightened she was. So she tried to act as natural as possible. When she looked back to see Kiddy standing in the door and expecting her to speak to her, she saw a white faced calf which had been in the field and gone into the house to get him a mess of pea vines. On hearing someone coming, he expected to be chased out so he ran to the door. When no one bothered him, he just stopped and stood looking as they passed. I think what caused Josephine to be so sure the dead could return was an incident that took place not too long after her own mother died. Her daddy had remarried and took them all home. It was now winter time. Little Frank & Josephine were sleeping together and Josephine felt responsible for keeping both of them wrapped up even though she was only 6 years old. She waked up and began to pull the quilts up over them both when she looked up and could see her mother standing by the bed in a white long sleeve gown, buttoned around the wrist. The moon shone through the window and she saw the white pearl buttons so very plain. She quickly lay down to let her mother tuck her in, but she did not wrap them up. She turned and went out of the room through the door. Now she was frightened and pulled the quilts up over her head. When morning came, she ran and asked her stepmother why she had so frightened her in the night. Her stepmother protested she had not frightened her for she had not been in the room all night and to make it more clear, she said she had worn a black garment to sleep in and not a white gown. Even though it could have been a dream, Josephine always believed that was her own mother come to see about her little children. Charnie grew to be a little boy very quickly and was soon able to climb on top of anything in the house. Nathaniel was still trying to farm and work at the mill, hoping someday to pay for the farm and maybe build some on to the small house, only 2 rooms now with a kitchen in the yard.
When Charnie was four years old on October 16, 1907, there was a little girl born to Nat and Josephine. They cast around for a name and after some thought, Nat said once he had a cousin named Nova. You did not hear that name much, so they named the baby Nova Catherine Asbell. The weather was soon cold. The house was very open with cracks in the floor, no heat but an open fireplace, kitchen away from the house out in the yard with cracks in it that the snow could come through and decorate every bottle, pan and dish. There was no heat in it except a cast iron cook stove. So the baby grew very sick and the doctor was sent for. He came on his horse and buggy with his little black bag. When he had examined her, he said the baby had pneumonia. Her feet were greased with taller and also her chest and between the shoulder blades. A warm wool flannel cloth was placed on her chest. Some tallow was melted in a spoon, good and warm, and poured down the mouth and throat. Some red medicine was to be given 3 times a day to keep the fever down. She was to be kept indoors for at least a week and not carried to the kitchen through the cold. A fire was to be kept in the fireplace at all times. Josephine had no cradle nor crib, so she put a pillow in a rocking chair, placed the baby on the pillow and left Julia to rock the baby while she went to the kitchen to cook. Not but a little while later, she heard the baby crying, also Julia. Both were crying and calling Mama. She ran to see what was wrong. Julia, in her enthusiasm, had rocked the baby too hard and turned the chair over pouring the baby out on the floor. Mama could fix all things, so this was no exception. Soon the whole arrangement was back in place and Mama back to her cooking. Julia had been sickly herself and when she spiked a fever, she would have convulsions. She also had to be under the doctor's care and take red medicine. Charnie had some breaking out on his skin and they took him to the doctor. So you see, paying so many doctor bills was hard on the family income which was not much to begin with.
Eva was 8 years old when Nova was born. Julia was 6. Mama would help Eva get the pot on and put the meat in for her and leave her to go about dinner when there was a child sick. Nova began to walk the next fall which put her about one year old. The winter came on again and the pneumonia with it. Mama said Nova learned to walk, then got sick and had to learn to walk all over again.
Papa could not pay any principle on the place, but he was determined to keep the interest paid. He paid that once each year. The way he did that was to save a dollar at the time, put it in the clock and keep it till he could get enough to pay the whole interest for the year. So you see, it was closely guarded. But one day, Papa looked in the clock and there was no money in there, not even a dollar. No one could even imagine where the money was which caused quite a stir. Money was not seen around the house enough for the children to even realize what it was. Mama was busy as usual with the chores. While making the bed, she spread a quilt out and saw something flip. Then she saw what it was; the dollar bills that had been missing out of the clock. The children were called in and questioned. Charnie said he had gotten him a chair and took the money out of the clock and put it between the feather bed and mattress, not even knowing what he was going to do with it. However, he was dealt with and the money returned to the clock, not to be bothered again. Having been the baby, Charnie 4 years older than me, I was special to all the family and knew it. I would sit in Papa's lap and he would read to me. I played with Charnie and tried to do the things he did. I begged Julia to play dolls with me and nurse the puppies Papa raised to hunt with. I'd pet the pigs, run after the biddies, go to sleep in the old big carriage which they would place under a tree for shade while the others chopped peanuts. I've made a many string of beeds on a wild onion with persimmon blossoms while the family would pull fodder. Mama would put several ties right together on a stalk of corn so I could have shade. I would play doll with the premature ears of corn with their pretty silks hanging down, make frog houses by putting my bare foot in the loose dirt and packing it tight on my foot till I could slip it out and leave a little shelter-like hole in the ground. Once in a while I would be sick and have a fever. A few times I had a fit from the fever. So when I would come down with a fever, Mama would go get two pickled herrings, split them open and bind them to the bottom of my feet. They told her it would cause my fever to come down. If I had the headache, Mama would take a plant called tansey and put it in vinegar, place it between folds of a brown paper and tie it on my forehead with a cloth. It smelled so good and felt so cool. Sure enough I would go to sleep and when I would wake up, I would feel better.
Charnie and I would play under the house. We would dig some shallow hole for our house, make a lot for the horses, make us a farm with rows in it, and set little bits of weeds for our crop. We'd make a well and use an umbrella rib for the sweep and quinine bottle for the bucket. But when we tried to snitch enough water to fill our well, we usually wold get caught because we were not to play with water cause we would surely spill it and get wet and muddy too, if let alone. Hide and seek was a favorite game in the field among the Japan peas (soybeans) and always when Papa would flush the fresh ground with the plow, Buddy (Charnie) would let me ride his back while he was on his knees like a horse. He would get frisky and rare up and dump me off in the freshly plowed ground. We had a little cart made from a wooden box mounted on wheels that were sawed off the end of a log. We woud play with it, then haul wood to the porch, especially stove wood for the kitchen. It was real nice to haul cantaloupes and watermelons.
I learned to plow by holding on to the plow handles while Charnie pulled it. We could tend the corners of the field where Papa could not reach with a horse and plow. We planted gardens, raised potatoes, and once had a whole bushel of sweet potatoes.
You should have seen me when I went to school. Having pneumonia when I was small left me subject to taking cold. Mama took no chance in keeping me warm since she knew the schoolhouse would be cold. An old wood heater stood in the center of that large room. It was fired with pine wood cut in four-foot lengths. There was no one to cut the wood except the boys of the school with an old ax that was just as round and dull as could be. School did not start till the last of October. We had only six months a year and had to wait until the crops were out of the field to start. When it got cold, I was dressed with long undersuits from wrist to ankles, homemade panties over them and black rubbed cotton stockings fastened to supporters, pinned to a body, a homemade slip of yellow cottons, an all-wool red flannel homemade slip, a gingham dress, a heavy sweater with separate head that tied under the throat with a wide band, and heavy tan leather shoes with overshoes, which in those days were called rubbers, book bag and dinner pail, and an umbrella, if it was raining. The desks were arranged to face the rearend of the room which had a blackboard, a table and a chair for the teacher. The space around the heater had four long benches around every side where the children could come at intervals and warm for a while, then go back to their desk and let someone else go. About six feet of the floor at the end of the building was a foot higher than the rest of the floor. This was called a rostrum. When we had our morning devotion, the teacher would read some scripture and we would repeat the Lord's Prayer, then the whole school would stand in a group on the rostrum and sing, "School songs" as we called them. Some of these were, "America", "Star Spangled Banner", "Old Folks At Home", "America the Beautiful", "My Old Kentucky Home", and "The Old North State". When the teacher heard a lesson, all the class would come and sit on a long bench in front of the rostrum. The teacher could allow only about 15 to 20 minutes to each lesson heard. She heard lessons all day, for there were 7 grades to be heard. It was amazing how much a teacher could get across under such circumstances. She had to have order, and almost always did, even though there was a great number of big boys to be dealt with. Parents played a big hand in helping with discipline. Most parents would have it understood that if the child got a whipping at school, there would be one for him when he got home. So most of the time, all respected the teacher and obeyed her wishes. We had a 15 minute recess in mid morning, one hour at lunch and 15 minutes in the afternoon. Fox and war, baseball, tag and a lot of other games were enjoyed by all. Most of the time the teacher was included. Most children deeply loved the teacher and wanted to please her if they could. It took 1 1/2 sessions to make a grade causing the children to be much older when they finished the 7th grade.
A group of children walked along together to and from school. We had to be home by a certain time to give an account of where we were wasting time. Once, I remember we stopped along the road and trapped and caught a big old bull frog under the bridge which was quite an adventure for us. Two of the boys took the frog to Cousin Neppie Cobb so she could enjoy frog legs while the rest of us hurried on home explaing where we had been. On pretty days, we ate our lunch in the yard. There was sausage, sweet potatoes, and apple jacks but some brought their bucket packed with pickled herring and cornbread. We had no water system, only a bucket of water brought by the students from a neighbor's house, with a long handle dipper. You can imagine the fish bones on the dipper hand and biscuit crumbs in the bottom of the bucket. Finally, the teacher thought it would be more sanitary to drink from the running water in the ditch nearby. So we did with no ill effect. But of course that was before the days of pesticides or poisons.
I was very active in the day, so when night came and I was in bed with Mama, I felt so very safe and secure. My sister, Julia, was very afraid of thunder clouds and wind. She would cry and beg Mama to come and sleep with her when the wind would blow or there would be bad weather of any kind. Mama would get me to sleep, which didn't take long, then she would go to Julia. One night there came an unusual wind storm. The wind blew all night long and sometime in the wee hours of the morning, there was a great slam waking everyone in the house. Rain came down and the wind blew too hard to carry a lantern, much less a lamp, so they must wait till day. When it was light enough to see, the kitchen which stood a little way from the house had been blown over off the blocks making it impossible to cook a meal till it could be gotten back into place. However, with alot of neighbors and willingness to all work together, soon the thing was back on its blocks. The trouble did not end there. Imagine how many dishes, bottles, jars and other things were broken, including Mama's old bowl and pitcher. What a mess! But it was not so bad it could not be cleaned up by someone like my Mama who had enough willpower to take care of any situation. Broken pieces were picked up and swept out with the straw broom. The shuck srub broom was brought out, some lye put in water in the wooden tub, alot of muscle power, and some rinsing and wiping. All was clean now except for the drying which was helped out by a fire in the wood cookstove. In a little white, one could smell the good odor of ham, biscuits, grits, eggs and the coffee which was always boiled in a black iron kettle. It smelled so good. Everyone began to gather around the table before the floor was quite dry or the last cup of coffee poured. Food never tasted so good now that the storm was gone and everything was quiet.
As the children grew larger, they could help more, thus reducing the hiring on the farm. With Papa working at the mill, he decided he could afford to add some much needed rooms to the house. Cousin Stark was called in to estimate what was needed. The regular cart was taken off the wheel bed and a long rail cart put on. Trips and trips were made to Harden Mill to get lumber for the rooms to be added, a three-room el which it was called. Once the lumber was hauled, it had to be plained by hand. That was, what had to be plained. The rest could go rough. There was a kitchen, dining room, a bedroom joined to the living room and a porch all the way down. While in the making, I thought it a wonderful place to play, especially with all the pretty blocks. With the sleepers in place and only a few planks thrown across them, I was sure it would be fun to run up and down on the planks. Mama came and caught me and was about to get me. I fell across a sleeper hurting my side some, but not too much; just enough to save me from the switch she had after me.
The rooms were finished and the family could spread out a little. Now the old kitchen could be moved to the barnyard for a packhouse. The neighbors were invited, logs were cut and brought to the yard, blocks were removed from one side, the logs placed under the kitchen. Alot of men scotched their feet placing their hands on the building, all pushing together. It began to move. In the like manner, the old kitchen was put in it's place along side the other barnyard buildings and served for a packhouse many years.
I guess I was 7 or 8 years old and always happy to have someone to come play with me. There came three children over to our house from the Hill Castellow farm. They had just moved there and were in search for someone to play with them. Having lost their mother by childbirth and daddy being at work, gave them time to roam around a little. It was the Leicester children, Grady, Bill and Blanche. Of course, we were soon at play. Among other things, we took the plowline off the bridle and played with it to jump rope, tug of war and finally, we got the idea to make a swing. Now the overhead on the front porch had never been sealed, so with the joist in view, we got the idea it would be a great thing to have a swing on the front porch. Grady could climb up in a chair and reach the joist, throw the rope over and tie it good. So he did, and now we had a swing with which we played for a while. The time soon went by and the children returned home. When Papa saw that the plowline was gone off his bridle, he dismounted the swing to replace his gear. But it was not long before I had a nice long chain swing on a limb in the elm tree in which I spent many hours playing, sometimes swinging as high as the chain would let me go and sometimes right slow, singing all the songs I knew. Then, I would turn around and around till the chain was tight, then let it go real fast. I always played with Charnie (my brother) when he was around. So many times, he was not there or wanted to ride his bicycle or something. I played doll alot. I did not have very many dolls, but what I did have were old fashioned china head, hands & feet with sawdust stuffed bodies, about 6 to 7 inches tall. These we called little doll. I played as if they were real people doing the things that we did. A small shoe box was made into a buggy all loaded in and a trip to church having service with singing and preaching and then the serving of bread and wine. I'd load up, return home and do the chores, cook, feed chickens, pigs and milk the cow. The corner of the hall would serve as the home with make believe furniture, yard and field, while a corner in the next room would serve as the church. Most anything could be used for pews and pulpit furniture. I had only one big doll that I played mother and baby with, and she was not a sleepy doll. So I wanted a sleepy doll, one that her eyes would really open and shut.
Aunt Bet Asbell (Papa's sister) came to help pick cotton one fall. I was too small at that time to do much picking cotton, but I stayed out there where they were, made a dog fennel house and anything else I could amuse myself with. Finally I began to pick cotton, but having no bag to put it in, I put it in Aunt Bet's bag. She praised me and I liked that. When Christmas came, Aunt Bet gave me a pretty sleepy doll. She was china with eyes that would open and shut, real eyelashes and curly hair. Oh! she was a real dream. I did not play with her alot, for fear I would break her. One night I had her down in the floor with my other dolls and after playing a while, I wanted somebody to play with me. So I begged my sister Julia to come play with me. There was an old chest there and she had taken the lid off of it because the hinges were gone. She had set one end on the floor and the other end on the chest. She pretended she was going to lie down on it, but it slipped off, fell on my dolls and crushed my sleepy doll all to pieces. Needless to say, I cried myself to sleep. I never had another one until Grady gave me one on the Christmas tree at the church many years later.
My brother thought it was fun to mess me up, but I loved to play with him. I would endure most anything to be able to play with him. We had a plank wall around the yard and a gate at the path. He would get a long board, poke it through the fence next to the top board, which was about shoulder high, because he was so much heavier than I was, he sat on the short end and put me on the long end. I thought it so nice to see-saw, but he would not go up and down but a few times before he would jerk the plank sidwise nearly throwing me off and scare me so bad. By that time, he was ready to do some other trick on me if he could.
We went to church and Sunday school. Papa would drive old Mary the red colt that he raised which seemed like one of us, hitched to the cart. Mama and Papa would place a board across the cart from rail to rail, put a quilt on it and sit on that. A little wooden box was placed in the front corner for me. A quilt was spread in the rear of the cart on the floor. Eva, Julia & Charnie would sit on that. We only had preaching once each month, Sunday school every Sunday if it was not bad weather and prayer meeting Sunday night. Each second Sunday of September brought the revival. At 2:30 pm and 7 at night, neighbors and friends from miles around came to visit and worship. Company came and ate supper most every evening. Some spent the night. There was always room for however many decided to come. There was no far notice, but whoever came was made welcome. Vegetables, ham, pies and cakes were cooked in the morning. If need be, hot biscuits, preserves, pickles, eggs, and anything else was prepared for supper. The best dishes, table cloths and all the better things were brought and used. Among the host of guests was the regular minister who spent at least one night. When beds began to run short, they took the feather bed off the regular bed, put a quilt down on the floor and the feather bed down on it making a good place to sleep leaving the mattress on the stead to be used also for extra. The church was always packed. There was no air conditioning and no fan except those powered by elbow grease. It would get so hot the preacher would drink water from the old blue pitcher and glass which was set on a stand by the pulpit stand. A few old men sat by the window which was raised so they could spit tobacco juice out or watch out for their horse tied to a tree. There was good singing with most everyone taking part. The old pump organ played as loud as Miss Maud could get it to go. Mr. Daniel Castellow would lead the singing. My daddy would sing tenor. No man was willing to go in without his coat on. They were just that reverent. Most men wore blue serge suits both winter and summer.
The preachers could paint "Hell" as a terrible burning pit, full of fire and brimstone, that the worm never died, the Savior who had given his life to keep you from going to such a place because he loved you so. If you would only trust him, he was begging you to come to him and avoid such a place. It was when I was 10 years old that I began to be upset and could not sleep. As always, Charnie would try to scare me and not understanding, I would say I wanted to die before the judgement. He would say that didn't make any difference, I would be alive just the same. I know now neither of us quite understood, but the Lord was working with me. It was that fall (September) that I came forward and accepted Jesus as my Savior not fully understanding all about the plan of salvation, but I had faith that Jesus would fix it and he did. I had to try to learn how to go about being a Christian and I'm still learning, but that was a start in the right direction.
There must have been a dozen of us all to be baptized. All the girls were my age and some boys. We were to have preaching for the last service of the series on Sunday morning at eleven o'clock, Sunday school at 10. The candidates were to meet by the river at 9 and have the baptizing, be dressed and back to the church in time for service. The third Sunday in September was real cool so early in the morning. Papa had asked Mr. Bill Evans if he would take his Model T and carry us all, then he would not have to drive the horse and cart. The time went by and Mr. Evans did not come, so Papa hitched the horse to the cart and loaded us up hurrying as fast as he could. We were almost to the road when we met Mr. Evans. He transferred us to the car, but had to turn around, go back and unhitch the horse and start again. Well, we were late. They were gathered on the river's edge and were singing when we arrived. I was ushered in the line being last to arrive and first on the line to go out in the water. We all joined hands and waded out as far as was safe. I don't remember having ever been in the water before or ever having seen a baptismal service before. The preacher took me and put me under the water without explaining I was not to breathe. Needless to say, I got strangled. Some kind man, I can't remember who, took us up the hill, all dripping wet, in a cart to the Hoggard Mill to the home of Mr. Tom Lawrence. We had our dry clothing there where they so graciously provided for us to change. We went back to the church for Sunday school, preaching service, the right hand of fellowship and the Lord's supper all in one morning because there would be no more preaching till the next third Sunday which would be in October.
In the early spring, there was much to be done. One worked with what few tools was available and all the rest in manpower. Every hedgerow was trimmed down with a bryer hook. Ditches were cleaned out with a hand shovel, stalks cut with a weeding hoe, picked up by hand and burned. Around each patch of land was plowed with a horse and turn plow and hauled off with a dirt scoop pulled by a team and filled and emptied by hand. Stables and hog pens were hoed up and the manure hauled to the field by cart. Hoe and shovel was used to spread over the field after it was dumped in little piles. I remember one time when the field was dotted with such piles of dirt or manure. All of us children were put out to spread it as evenly over the field as we could. My two older sisters were supervising and doing most of the work. They were tired and sat down on the piles nearby to rest. Charnie and I, not having done very much and still wanting to play every minute we could, decided to run from pile to pile turning somersaults on each pile we came to. Charnie, 4 years older than me and much stronger, could outdo me a long way, but being determined as usual, I tried to do just as he did, running as fast as I could, putting my head down on the pile and flipping over. But one time, I struck too hard and I could hear my neck crack, then there was pain. I was sure my neck was broken. I ran to Eva, my oldest sister, and told her I thought my neck was broken, but she rubbed it a little and told me she didn't think there was much damage done. Maybe so or maybe not. Sometimes I think such rough play could have caused some of my aches and pains now that I am old. I had a nice lengthly child playtime, but the time soon came when I was to learn the saying, "Everybody works at our house". It was very true. There were chores for each one in the morning from washing dishes, helping prepare breakfast, setting the table, making beds, sweeping floors, milking, feeding chickens and many other things while Charnie helped Papa feed the team and pigs before breakfast. The team were to water and hitch to the plow for work as soon as breakfast was over. Papa always had the field work planned and each one was told what he was expected to do. Once all the stalks, briers and bushes were burned and dirt spread, the field was ready to plow. Papa and Charnie used the only 2 team, a mule for Charnie and a horse for Papa, each with a plow. There was an old homemade guana sower the girls would fill the guano and push by hand up and down the rows to spread the guano. I was to stay by the bag of guano, fill the pail and fill the sower when they came by. The thing was heavy and hard to hold up and push. So Julia would go up one row and back down the other. Then she would rest and Eva would go while I kept the hoper full from the bag, in the pail, to the sower. Charnie would plow the first furrow, Pap the second. Thus a piece of ground would be ready to be planted. Tobacco beds were sewed February 14 each year. The weeds had to be kept out of that by picking them out by hand. When tobacco setting time came, the rows were made up, plants pulled up, a drag was pulled over the top of the row to smooth it off, then there was a measuring stick made out of the forked limb. The prongs of limbs were stretched to measure 36 inches. The top of it that come to one piece was used for a handle that turned around and round making a mark in the ground where the plant was to be dropped by hand. If it was dry, someone came along with a bucket of water and put just a little water in the hole where the plant was being set, taking nearly the whole family to carry one row. Most every evening late, Charnie and I were given a shovel apiece and sent in different directions to clean the loose dirt out of the little water furrows my daddy had cut through the rows, so if by chance it rained, the water would be able to make its way to the big ditch to keep the crop from drowning. There was firewood and litewood to be gotten in for the fireplace as long as it was cool. There was always stovewood to be brought in each night, water to be brought for the kitchen and a bucket full on the table in the back porch. Mama would bring the lamps to the back porch, trim the wicks, wash the globes and fill their bowls with oil. All this was done before supper which made it about dark when the stock was tended to and we were ready to eat. If it was cool, we would kindle a little fire in the fireplace. If it was hot, we would fill an old pan or pot with wood, pile trash, put a few rags in it and light a fire to it. We'd smother it nearly out just so it would smoke to keep the mosquitos away and all sit around the backyard to catch what breeze there was till time for bed which was not too long.
About once each month, Papa would stop work early enough to shuck some corn. If it was winter, it was carried in the living room and after supper, each one would get a pan and shell the ears of corn, put it in a bag till we had about a bushel. This had to be done on Thursday night. Friday was mill day. So Papa would hitch the horse to the cart, take the corn and go to Harden mill to have his corn ground into meal. If it was warm, sometimes he would borrow Mr. Harden's boat and go out in the mill pond fishing. Once in a great while, he would let me go with him. There was a great quantity of fish in the pond, perch, bass, jack and most kinds of fresh water fish. Sometimes we would fish from the edge of the shore. I remember he took Charnie and me one time. We could see the fish in their little beds if the water was real clear. It was a thrill to see him pop on my worm and go flying out in deeper water before you could bring him in. I guess that is where I learned to like to fish. Charnie and I would rig up a pole and go fishing in the old big ditch because we didn't get to go to the pond very often. However hard we tried, we could not find anything to bite in the ditch. There were only little minnows running around, too little to bite. Once Papa let me go herring fishing with him in the creek to catch fish in the skim net, but I only had the privilege of putting the herrings in the bag after he had caught them.
My sister, Eva, loved flowers. She would let me go with her about the neighborhood and different people would give us flowers of all kinds. Papa had the whole yard fenced in so the team could eat the grass, but he put a wire across one corner of the yard to keep the team out so we could have our flowers. Aunt Hatty Hyman, a colored lady, gave Eva some rose bushes, pink & white. They were monthly roses and did bloom so pretty all summer. Then on the fence we had a white running rose mixed with a red rambler which made a pretty scene when in bloom. There was the lilac bush which bloomed early in the spring and smelled so good, all kinds of flocks, zinnas, touch-me-nots, sweet williams, four o'clocks, dalias and many more. In late evening when we could get the time, you could find us working in our flower garden which we had to dig and manure with lot manure. They would grow and bloom real well.
I remember one time our school was to have commencement. All the schools in the county would meet in Windsor at the courthouse, have spelling bee's, resitations, speeches, and entertainment in the morning part of the day. Then in the afternoon, they would have jumping, running, sack races, potato races and all kinds of contest between the schools. The big part was the parade. Every school had its own banner. Two boys carried it, holding it up high. Ours was Greens Cross School. All the girls wore white sailor suits or they were called mittie blouse suits with white shoes. All boys wore white shirts and dark pants. There were no drums to beat nor music of any kind, only the leader would say Hep! Hep! and all would step together with each school in the county grouped together. This made a long procession. I needed shoes to wear, so Eva and I walked to Windsor (4 miles) to buy me some. They were canvas, but made with one strap and called "Mary Janes". They cost a dollar, but it was a must because we would not miss it for anything.
We were very happy and so secure. We had plenty to eat, enough to wear to keep warm; no one needed much more. We all in the neighborhood were on the same level. We certainly did not go any place else to see anyone who was different. We went to all the services that were held at the church and what little entertainment the one-room school had to offer. We visited neighbors, took care of one another in sickness and sorrow in a very simple but sincere way.
My daddy took a paper called the "Tri-Weekly Journal". He began to read the news from that and tell us he was afraid that there was going to be war. We had no idea what that would incur or what it would be like to have war. Each week, he would read more and each time he spoke of it, he seemed a little more disturbed. I was nearly eleven when it finally came. Julia and Eva, my sisters, were just about grown, and all of a sudden, there came a call for all to sign up in a certain age level. So there was alot of excitement. Most of our boys had only a 7th grade education, and most of them were farmers. They had never been anywhere much nor known anything except the routine of our own little world. But sign up they did, and before we knew it, they were being called to serve our country in the war. We were indeed in war in 1918.
As the draft board called the boys a few at a time, they made ready to leave and go to training camps. There was quite a stir. The Red Cross Chapter got to work, headed by Mrs. Judge Winston, who was so very patriotic. She gave her front lawn to be plowed and planted to help out in material to win the war. Knitting classes were organized. Socks, sweaters and other garments were made for the soldiers. Everyone donated as much time as was needed for helping to roll bandages or packing go-away kits. Anything that could be of help was done with great pride. When the day came for them to leave, there would be a great throng of people to wave them good-bye, and Mrs. Judge Winston personally kissed each boy good-bye. There would be a good-bye service held at the church and each boy was to come to the front, stand in a line before the pulpit, and each man, woman and child came forward, shook hands with them and prayer was offered for their safety and their return. The boys took part in the prayer if they wished. Tears were shed. The boys were hugged and sent off with prayers for all. After they were gone to various camps, it was real news when one would get a card from some of them. It was told and spread around. Everyone was interested to hear. There were prayers for the boys at each church service, but especially on Wednesday night or Sunday night, whichever the prayer meeting was planned. There was no lack of a crowd, for the little church would be filled with mothers, fathers, kinfolks and sweethearts. Kahki was to be worn by the soldiers, so kahki was worn by nearly everyone. Hats, skirts, dresses, shirts, pants; everyone went patriotic. I remember I had a hat made just like the soldiers and alot of others did. People began to go to Norfolk to work in plants to make amunition. They worked in the shipyard, built crates; anything to win the war. Everybody wanted to help and most everybody did in some way. Our little world began to expand. No more were we a little corner of the world, shut off from everyone else. Things began to change. There were alot of people before now that had been born, lived and died right here in Bertie County who never went out of it. I remember I was a right big girl before I went out of the county, and that was to Plymouth. Thirty-five to fifty cents a day was all one could make doing farm work, chopping, etc. But now, they were paying $1.00. Boy that was good when you could get a whole dollar for putting in tobacco, or a cent a pound for picking cotton My sister, Eva, could pick 150 pounds and that was $1.50. Tobacco was selling for 15 cents now. My daddy and Mr. Daniel Castellow decided to build a barn and plant some tobacco. So build a barn, they did. They hewed logs, knotched them up and built a barn. They made a fire arch and put flues in it. We all had to help. The cracks had to be stopped to keep the heat in. They dug a hole, put water in it and made up mud. We got old pans, pots or anything that would hold mud and went to work trying to fill each crack. Dr. Daniel's children were all grown. There was Jordan who would have gone to war, but he had an accident at the neighborhood sawmill that put his eye out. So he couldn't go even though he wanted to. There was Dannie, who was not quite old enough and Raleigh who was two years older than me. Then there was their sister, Lillie, who was just a little older than my sister, Eva. We all had a time putting that mud in the cracks of that barn. We finally finished and it was ready when time came to put in tobacco. We all did this, sharing the time to stay with the barn. I think it was about this time my daddy finally finished paying the $250 for the place.
The war went on. Winter came and the influenza broke out in the camps. Alot of soldiers died with pneumonia. Some came home on leave and spread it across the county. Nearly every neighborhood reported cases, so in a matter of weeks, it go to be an epidemic. Every family in the community was being struck by it.
Dr. Daniel Castellow's family were all down but Jordan. Mama sent my daddy to see what we could do. He did not know not to go into the home where everyone was sick. So he went in to try to help out. They needed food, so Jordan caught an old hen, big old Buff Aubinton. Papa took it home for Mama to cook for them. By the time she had it ready to take to them, Papa was sick with a fever, so Mama sent Julia to take the great dish of chicken. She went in also. Needless to say, within a few days, we were all sick. We could hear of people dying that we knew. There were hardly enough well people to tend to the sick much less go to a funeral, but our family made it through with no loss of life. We were indeed glad to see the spring come once more.
Food was rationed. Having always lived primarily on what we raised, we did not know much difference except for sugar and flour. Some people planted their own wheat, harvested it with a hand scythe, rode the grain out with horses, took it to the mill and had it ground into flour, but we did not. You were not patriotic if you used anything that the soldiers needed. We had plenty of cornmeal made at home and Mama made egg bread with milk. We had our own cows, plenty of homemade butter, grits and fried ham for breakfast which was not bad. My daddy liked his coffee sweet and to sweeten it with honey or molassas did not fit his taste, but he did not complain because we were to make some sacrifice for the boys.
The boys were soon shipped to France in cattle ships, freight boats or anything that would carry them. Letters, and picture cards came to the people and every one was shared and talked about. Never before had we even heard of anyone in our community going so far.
Summer passed and fall set in. One day we were gathering corn by hand in the field. There had been a little news that the war would soon be over. All at once, we could hear whistles blowing and church bells ringing. Each mill in town was blowing their whistle. Eva jumped up and down and said the war was over. We all began to run to the house. You could hear the neighbors hollering, "The war is over". This November day would not ever be forgotten. Everyone was to give thanks and praise the Lord for we had not lost a boy in battle. In a little while, the boys began to come home, one at a time. Everyone was greeted as if he were our own son. When all were home, they began to plan a big celebration in town. There was a big homecoming parade with all the trimmings. Two submarine chasers were brought up Cashie River. A blimp was brought to fly overhead. A stand was built at the courthouse for the dignitaries. Every plan was made to give the boys a welcome home. A band was summoned. The whole thing went off with a bang. Carts, buggies and a few Model T's lined the road going to town. All in all, it was a great day to be remembered. There was a long parade of soldiers in uniforms, a band and jeeps. Speeches were made in the stands while flags flew everywhere. Boys were meeting their girl friends and starting where they left off. Before long, there were alot of marriages. My sister, Eva was to go to Uncle Frank Cale's and go to high school the next year, starting in September. She went and stayed till Christmas, then came home by boat across Albemarle sound. Uncle Frank lived in Tyner. He brought her to Edenton, but since there was no bridge, she had to come across by boat. Someone met her at Avoca. Well, it turned out mighty cold and the sound froze over, so the boats could not go. At the time, we had a little train that came to Windsor from Ahoskie. So Eva had to take the train to Ahoskie, then to Suffolk and back to Sunbury, then to Tyner. Her stay did not last long. I think it was March when she came home pack and package and announced that she was to be married soon.
The following December, Julia, my other sister, was married leaving only me of the girls and my brother, Charnie. We became very close. We went places together, worked in the fields together and told our heart secrets to each other. But in 1926, he felt the little farm did not make enough for us, so he took what Papa gave him, bought a Model T and went to work on wages. He found a place to board and came home only to have me wash his clothes. It was no secret that Charnie was the favorite child and was expected to have more than the rest of the children, but it caused no problem except to spoil him some. He loved biscuit and fried ham, sausage and eggs, but no vegetables, please. So he got whatever he wanted to eat at home with no questions about it. It was a different story where he was boarding. When he found fried hog jaws and cornbread in his lunchbox, he got upset and came back home for Mama and me to cook for him, thinking it would all be free. But Mama told him I had to get up at 4 o'clock in the morning to prepare his breakfast and lunch and he was to give me $2.00 each week. Well, that did not go over very well either. But when Mama spoke, she meant it and that was that. He had to report to Gatland's mill at 6 o'clock, taking the train or handcar out to where they were to work on the railroad.
Papa and I tended the farm by ourselves that year. Mama had long been unable to work in the fields. We plowed, chopped, tended the tobacco, took it out and put it in with what help Papa hired, which was not much. When we took the dry tobacco out of the barn, I had to climb the poles and get it down while Papa took the sticks, carried them outside to the cart and placed them in until the cart was full. Then we would go to the packhouse and unload it, then back again. Needless to say, when the year was over, Charnie had had enough of being away from home, so he sold his Model T, got Papa to buy one so he could drive it, let Papa gas it and keep it up. No, I was not allowed to drive nor did Papa. Ony Charnie was to drive it, take us to church and Papa to town. The rest of the time was his, with some restrictions. By this time, he had quite a few girls and I had a few dates now and then. Mama grew more feeble all the time. More and more of the housework fell on me. I had had to stop school on that account. The church was the center of everything in the community. We had BYPU on Sunday nights. Of course, the regular preaching was now first Sunday evening and third Sunday morning. There was always Sunday school each Sunday morning. Training union, as it is called now, was on Sunday nights for a while, but the pastor having to serve four churches, could not be with us each time so we changed it to Wednesday night. For as long as Mr. George Burch stayed here, we had it Wednesday nights. We had a good crowd and a social once in a while. There seemed to always be something to go to. We enjoyed the service and the get-together, too. I had a primary Sunday school class which I enjoyed working with. We also had picincs and parties for them.
There was the annual picnic held for all four churches when everybody got to know the ones from other churches. There was always plenty to eat and a big wooden tub full of lemonade with a square block of ice in it dipped with an old fashioned dipper. Just step up and have your cup filled as many times as you like. Then there was the spring fish fry which everybody enjoyed. We would get a truckload with a flat bottom for as many as could be seated and go down to the Capehart's fishery. What a time we would have. The whole crowd was like one big family.
Charlie and Bessie Mizell lived just across the field. We were great friends. But after their father, Cousin Stark died, they had to move to Suffolk in order to make a living. I missed them greatly. Their cousin, Howard had died with appendicitis. Clyde Lawrence had died when we all had the measles. A few more moved away. Julia and Myrtle, whom I had been in school with were about to graduate. I had only one year of high school. Now they had made the other three. I had met Grady. He had been away alot of the time working in various places. We had kept in touch while he was away. He had been deprived of a family most of his life. He wanted us to get married and set up a home. So having nearly all the responsibility of the housework at home, I did not know how to leave. I was between the two. With many tears and much prayer, I decided to try to bring myself to make a decision which was far from easy. While Julia and Myrtle were planning to graduate, I was planning to be married. Thinking Grady had prepared a place for me, we set the date for May 8, 1929. He gave me a small diamond and I tried to collect a few necessary things. However, when he came for me, we were married at the home of Miss Lucille Mizell and his friend took us to Plymouth to live. I found he had only arranged for me to stay where he was boarding, and I was to find a place to live and get things together to begin to keep house. Never had I been to Plymouth but once before and that was when I was a child. The lady whose house we were to board in was an elderly widow woman with four sons, all working except one who was too young. She needed help to do all the washing and ironing by hand for all those boys who dressed for work, then dressed to go out at night. She also had a big garden and now two extra boarders. She saw the chance to get help and have Grady pay for it. So the very next morning, Grady went to work and I was presented a few pairs of pants to cut off and hem. The next day, I was to help with the family washing, scrubbing on a board by hand. I would hardly be finished by the afternoon in time to take a pan bath and freshen up before Grady arrived from work. Not that I minded helping out, but I could see she was using me for extra help and Grady paying her board for me which made me very unhappy. I just as well have been across the state because we had no way to travel, so there I was, stuck. I hated to complain but knew I was being taken in.
Many a tear did I shed. I knew no one, and he was gone from dawn until late in the evening. But the good Lord was with me and helped me to find a friend who took us in until I could find us some rooms to put our few things in and call it home for nearly a year until Grady lost his job and we came home.
My Dear Children and Each and Every
Childe in Windsor Towne,
It is with deep humility that I undertake to write about ENTERTAINMENT IN WINDSOR FROM 1768-1968. I can remember from early childhood in Pasquotank my nurse, Carleigh Speller (who was raised on Wesson Farm, near Windsor), telling me of the picnics, of the sugar stews and spinning times, of making "lasses" and playing "Button-Button," of their corn-husk dolls and of making acorn necklaces. Windsor reminded me of a fairy land and how I would beg for more stories of houseboats on the Roanoke R.iver and news of the famous parties, dances and fiddlers which she had heard about happening at Liberty Hall.
Certainly a most interesting fact about social life in Windsor is that this charming town was set apart geographically; 'that is, cut off by the Chowan and Roanoke Rivers. Most of the early entertainment was homemade but just as much enjoyed as though it had happened in Edenton or Williamsburg!
Pretend you were living in the 1700's and 1800's. What fun games of soldiers, of pitching pennies, called "huzzlecup," of blind man's buff and tag you would have played. While you boys would have played "stoolball," "Bowls" and "top whipping," you little girls would have made clothes for your china-head dolls or more likely, at that time, your corn-husks dolls. Fathers and mothers would have dressed in their very best to dance the minuet and the Virginia Reel either at one of the fine old homes or later in the ballroom of the Tavern. The early houseboat which took our ancestors up and down the Cashie and perhaps out on the Roanoke were called "fall boats." Much picnicing, visiting and going to church meetings took place on these quaint boats with homespun sails. Horse racing took place and many years later this sport was one of the annual social events. Every fall atAvoca, Dr. Capehart's half mile enclosed ring attracted horses, sulkies and riders from miles around. His horse, a state winner, was named "Chapel Hill," Fred Dunstan's horse was "Lillian Miller," and Cad Capehart's horse was "Lucy." Mr. Dunstan had a sulky race track at the Walt Miller Farm. They also raced between Speller's Ferry and Williamston at a place called "Conoho," on a track where Ghent is below the curved bridge. Much later they raced bicycles on this latter track. Also, carriage riding was a Sunday entertainment for the young and old.
It was during the first half of the eighteenth century that Windsor vicinity acquired a mansion, "Hope," and as Governor Stone's elegant country home, "Hope's" doors were flung open to Windsor gentry. "Hope's" house guests could enjoy the hospitality and warmth while Windsorites danced the horpipe, the jig and minuet. All night dances in "Hope's" ballroom were most exciting occasions.
During this same period of time, your third great-grandmother Jordan was an attendant in the fashionable wedding of Prudence and Jonathan Tayloe. Weddings were splendid affairs although most of them took place at home. The wedding feasts were real community affairs. Some brought roses, flowers, flat silver, table linen and many of the intimate friends came to stay to assist with decorating and planning the wedding feast. Wine, turkey, ham, chicken salad, jellies, pickles and such cakes were prepared. The bride's cake had hidden in its interior a gold ring. Each attendant tried to cut the piece of cake containing the ring.
Some years later after another wedding, Miss Prudence's son, David Tayloe, and his wife, Betty, had a house servant named Cymbry, who looked like an Indian girl. Cymbry could play by ear the popular music of the day, and many a gathering sang to the accompaniment of Cymbry such songs as "Molly Darling," "The Mocking Bird," "Juanita," Tom Moore's "Love Song," and "Ben Bolt."
Many years later, Mrs. Sessoms became famous for decorating for elaborate weddings, using garden scenes complete with gates and trellises as props. an one such wedding, her little granddaughter, Jennette, took the part of Cupid, pointing the bow and arrow toward the bride and groom. In the 1900's there was a depot (located where the FCX is now), and the weddings were held very early in the morning in order to catch the nine o'clock train to parts unknown.
In those days when Christmas came, love abounded and much secrecy prevailed as the grown folks and children made gifts for each other. On Christmas morning amidst hugs and kisses and holly and bamboo decorating every old portrait and clock hanging from the cornices and wrapping around the bannisters, turkey and ham steaming in the outside kitchens, families gave their treasured gifts of love and labor. Your great-great aunt, Kate Wheeler Cooper, was well known for her precious little gifts which she sewed and tatted all year 'round. Running to the house were the children calling "Christmas gift, ----; Christmas gift, ----." Oranges, never dreamed of except at Christmas, were treasured, sometimes for months before being eaten. As one Victorian custom of decorating a tree became more popular after the Civil War, families then placed a small tree in the center of the table and lighted it just before the blessing, thanking the Lord for food bountiful - beaten biscuits, hot rolls, Lady Baltimore cakes and fresh oranges!
Windsor, with the nearest railroad being sixty miles away, didn't play host to a circus until eight or ten years after the Civil War. Robinson's circus played the town with the usual attractions shown under tent between the Webb's (about where Cousin Mary Cooper lives now) and the Cashie. One of the clowns tried to find his "stolen" mare in Mr. Tom Heckstall's "thick white whiskers." Jokes like this and more about a murder at the circus can be found in Judge Winston's It's a Far Cry. All of you boys and girls must read this book! It tells about Jim Freeman bringing in a full-grown racoon bear to fight any two dogs, betting ten dollars on the winner. You will enjoy Judge Winston's story about shooting the gobbler, a favorite sport then and now. The catch was that no one succeeded in those days as an old gypsy woman played magic on the shooting.
A minstrel troupe was organized called the "Cashie Phunny Phellows" with Frank Winston and Charlie Gurley as end men; Charlie Shepherd, the banjo picker and Pat Winston clogged. This troupe also sang spirituals and gave plays. More often Confederate scenes were presented. Tournaments were another attraction, the knights bearing high sounding names, "Wilfred of Ivan hoe," etc. They, of course, had lances and dashed at a metal ring encased in cloth, suspended from poles. Tne knight securing the greatest number of rings won the honor of crowning the Oueen of Love and Beauty and of directing the ball, leading the first couple in the old Virginia Reel. Being elected queen was very much of an honor and brings to mind your Cousin Mary Askew Cooper who, when the town's people decided to have their own Carnival - fair, was elected queen. With this honor, she received a lovely diamond ring, but because of her Uncle Wilbert Askew's death, she had to choose a substitute to take her place in the ceremony. Miss Ruth Mardre (Lyon) was chosen and the festivities were continued.
The dances which were held between post civil war days and on into the early nineteen hundreds were lovely. There were card dances and everyone dressed in their best before going to the ballroom in the Tavern located on the corner of Dundee and King Streets. Your great-grandmother Lizzie attended as a spectator when she was nine years old in the early days. Then later on, the dances were held at Parker's Hall where they danced the minuet and performed the Quadrill to the music of the Naval Reserve Orchestra every Friday evening. "Winter Germans" were splendid dances attended by towns people and their house guests.
Time passed and Parker's Hall played host to the "Big Bazaar" put on by the ladies from St. Thomas Church. The Doll Wedding, featuring lavishly dressed brides, attendants and grooms, was the greatest attraction. The decorations were fascinating to the children of early l900's. Parker's Hall closed and Mr. R. C. Bazemore built an opera house. Mrs. Will King, town artist, painted the theatre curtains. Mrs. Rosa Winston, director and producer of outstanding drama using home talent, was referred to as "Queen of the opera." Everyone attended Mrs. Winston's benefit shows. In one of the plays, thirteen ballerinas performed, colorfully dressed in twos except for the thirteenth and center dancers dressed in white, who was your Aunt Lou Rascoe. As Mrs. Winston grew older and the plays were presented less often, silent moving pictures became the rage. Cousin Alice Outlaw accompanied the plays followed by Ethel Pierce and Betty Ferry accompanying the silent movies. Talkies then came in and Claude Pierce operated the movies where Edgar Harris' shop is now.
Across the street and upstairs was the old Armory where the Naval Reserve drilled and when they weren't drilling, it was used for a skating rink and dance hall for "the Germans." Dr.Pugh, "Peg-Leg-Boy Jones," and Captain James Wynns played for dances and wedding receptions. Cousin David Outlaw used to pick the banjo, and it is said that after one of his friends died, he would go stand over his grave at night and "pick" a few old favorites. (Perhaps Cousins Sam and Margie Worthington inherited his talent!)
Old Aunt Belie Pugh, who was a confirmed member of the Episcopal Church, managed a restaurant on Granville Street. Your great-great grandfather Rascoe, together with all the other planters, would meet there to eat and entertain each other. As Aunt Belie's food was considered delicious, it was quite a point of teasing for your Grandfather, as he always brought his lunch in a paper bag. After all the teasing he could endure, he would send them into roars of laughter when explaining that he was saving up to buy them out! Many of the men then 'stopped off at Jacock's well to get water and gossip and joke a little more before engaging in a little poker or chess.
Picnics, outingsand excursions were perhaps the most widely attended enjoyable family entertainment of all. There were week long boat excursions beginning at Quitsna on the "Haven Bell" and continuing to Mrs. Duncan Winston's cottage at Nags Head. Elegant seafood and hot rolls, the surf, fishing and climbing the dunes were enjoyed for several days before the return trip. (Your Cousins Mary Askew and John Cooper were engaged on Engagement Hill at Nags Head.) There were excursions from Speller's Ferry up the Roanoke, on the "Chowan" to the Albemarle Sound, on "the Mayflower" to Plymouth, and back on the "Myrtle," "the Bertie," and other private yachts. Folks packed delightful picnic lunches and after the eating was done and the boat had landed, wonderful games took place--"Hide and Seek," "Fox-in-the-War," "Rise Sheep and Fly," "Fruit Basket Change" and dancing and playing the "Shoe-Duck," your Aunt Lew Sutton tells.
Picnics were not just limited to boat excursions, but many all-day affairs were held on land too. There were church groups and family groups having all-day picnics at "Rosefield," at "Windsor Castle," at "Scotch Hall," at Tayloe Farm, at Cooper's Hill, at Speller Farm, at the George Coopers', at the Cherrys', at "Cedar Hill," at "Liberty Hall,'l at "Avoca," at "Elmwood," at Blanchard's, at "Thunderbolt," Capehart's Fishery, at Stoney Creek and at Woodville and Roxobel! Mrs. Maggie Askew Darden organized a music club naming it ''Shamanade" in honor of a composer. Every April when the fish ran, Mrs. Darden would engage a large wagon and two mules to transport the music club members to Capehart's Fishery, leaving no later than six a.m. to spend the day. This excursion was the high light of the season for Windsor's young people. Dr. Capehart was such an elegant host and made everyone welcome. Other annual affairs in the early nineteen hundreds were the Mason's and Cashie Baptist picnics at Stoney Creek, the Easter Egg Rolls and Hunts at "Rosefield" and Winston Hill, and Old Soldier's Day which was always celebrated on August 5th. Big bands came and out-of-town guests entertained as the Governor came all the way down from Raleigh for the occasion.
Children, how you would have jumped up and down when the Showboat came to anchor where Todd's Bait Shop now stands. Such a splendid old riverboat she was with music and talent swelling her decks. Another favorite which all your grandparents enjoyed was the "Chatauqua," an outstanding talent show which traveled out of Lake Chatauqua, New York. This was first-class entertainment, running a week with matinee and evening performances. Folks bought seasonal tickets and everyone attended who could possibly arrange to be present.
Fish fries were an all-time favorite, and if you will close your eyes, I'11 wager you can picture a crowd of your ancestors gathered at Quitsna Landing, at Capehart's, etc. The fish were fried and spread out along with picnic baskets from home. In present day, the fries and barbecues at Siloam Church, at Green's Cross, at Uncle Lewis Rascoe's, at Thompson's, at Eden House and at Bal Grey can be compared.
Keeping your eyes closed, watch Dr. Will Jacocks managing Charlie Lyon, Dr. Henry Lyon, Peter Gillam, Rhinehart Freeman, Pat White, Tom Gillam, Clyde Freeman and others in championship baseball. In later years, Rurgess Whitehead played for the St. Louis Cardinals (and squired Talulah Bankhead to parties!)· Baseball has remained the favorite team sport in Windsor. The Albemarle League games drew great crowds but none so great as the Windsor Tar Heel Little League with its own Davis Park, named for your friend and coach, Tom Davis. How proud Windsor is of this park which provides enter- tainment for hundreds of girls and boys. You must also be very proud of your most excellent Bertie High band under the direction of Ronald Hess, truly the best music Windsor has every had of its very owni
Hunting and fishing were, are and will be the very most popular entertainment of all. Every one of your grandfathers have adored these sports and little has changed in this area in two hundred years. Some families (as is still done) raised quail as they would chickens and ducks.
Dancing continued to be a most popular pastime before and during the second World War. The armory now became "over Hampton's" (Hampton Brett's store) and he himself was a source of fun as John Lewis Ferry, C. J. Rhea, Jr,, and Cooper Ferry had been the fun boys before him, and preceding this trio had been the Speller boys who had a band and played for dances at Indian Woods School.
Later many big name bands came to town and many fine dances were held up over Rhea's garage. Both of your grandmothers danced at these dances and the early 19?0's was the time for the popular "storm parties." A crowd of young folks would "storm" one of the crowd's house and have a big sugar stew. Oh, sugar stews have been a delightful entertainment for generations! A popular gathering place was Claude Pierce's mother's. A young gentleman would choose his lady friend and away they'd pull stewed sugar until it was white as snow and ready to harden, be cut and eaten! Dancing almost always followed sugar stews.
An event of more than state-wide importance was held in Windsor January, 1927, when a Peanut Exposition was held at which the exhibit of Dr. George Washington Carver, noted Negro chemist, was placed on display. He had invented more than two hundred fifty products ranging from fine perfume to shoe polish from the lowly peanut or goober. There was also featured at the Peanut Exposition a beauty pageant presenting beauty queens from many Eastern North Carolina counties and Suffolk, Virginia.
Also during the late twenties and thirties Eden House Beach was the gathering and partying place for Windsor folks. Each year the Masons had a tremendous picnic, elected a beauty queen and had a swell affair. Of course, there was bathing, sailing and dancing to bands twice a week up over the bath house. Several families rented cottages from Mr. John Bell and much fun was had by all. Liles and Dick Gatling, Betty and Phillip Ferry, Shepherd Mizelle (ancestor of the banjo picker, Charlie Shepherd) and Harold White had a grand band which played every Monday night.
After the war, the swinging spot was the Veteran's Club called "the
Pines" on Highway 17. Especially memorable were the Costume Balls at
Holloween. Since that time, Windsor has proudly built its own Cashie Golf
and Country Club. The most widely attended affairs in the '60's have been
the annual Hospital Charity Balls and the "Hope Ball," a formal gala affair
recently given as a benefit to restore "Hope" mansion. House guests came
from far and near as they will for the Bicentennial Ball this year. The
ladies will wear lovely copies of two hundred year old gowns and the
gentlemen will wear tails, and you, my delights in life, will be at home
dreaming of all of the old stories of fun which you have read of in this
sketch of entertainment. Don't ever grow too old to dream, and have your-
selves extraordinary good times so that you can grow up to add so much more
to this incomplete work. You must know that without Aunt Lou Rascoe Fearing,
Aunt Lew Bond Sutton, Cousin Mary Askew Cooper, "Miss" Kate Bell, Cousin
"T" Bell, Fred Dunstan, Cousin Virginia Gillam, Uncle Lewis and Aunt Rachel
Ferry, Aunt Sally Davenport, Cousin Ethel Cherry and Judge Winston's, It's
A Far Cry, this couldn't have been put down for you to read and to keep
in your memories.
In His Love for Each One of You,
Nancy Dawson Rascoe
The steamboat Bertie leaves Widsor for Plymouth every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 12 noon and return on the same day.
The mayor of Windsor should if necessary employ 100 policemen to keep order at our public speakings. The day has passed for rowdyism and disorder at public gatherings
We think that Christians should try to deny themselves, the use of tobacco while at church. Remove the spitoons from your churches, or put more.
Mitchell: This township gives evidence of material prosperity. Messrs. Dunning and Matthews are erecting a handsome store at Harmons X Roads. Also a steam mill and cotten gin to be run by steam.
The corn crop is unusually good in our county, especially about Lewiston and Roxobel.
Soon the steamer Bertie leaves for Nags Head. The trip will consume three days. Fare for the round trip is $5.
C. T. Harden - This enterprising citizen is rebuilding his Coach Shop. If we had fifty men in Windsor like Mr. Harden, the old town would hum like a top, we would go ahead so fast.
The boys around Roxobel know exactly how to treat a man. We are glad to notice many signs of thrift and improvement in the little village.
Frank Winston - This gentleman has a good school at Lewiston. You cannot do better than to send your children to him.
All honor to Pell Mell. May every man in it live a hundred years, and may every year be full of happiness and prosperity.
Mr. W. A. Barbour is getting up a petition to establish a post office at Burden's Mill in Bertie Conty. We trust that he may be successful in the undertaking. The people around the mill are a hard working, honest and intelligent people and ought by all means to have a post office.
Editorial - Our exchanges sometime copy our editorials without giving us credit. Brothers we don' make any money, give us credit for our brains.
Money is scarce in Windsor when we left here last week. There was one dollar and seventy cents in town by actual count. We are happy to say however that we brought back enough to increase the pile to two dollars.
We learn that Peter Holder has ginned eight bales of cotton and by the end of this week will run up to 10 or 12 bales. He took the lead and is keeping it. His motto is "clear the track, the cars are in motion."
Sentimental - A varety of flowers, gerraniums, a speciality, sweet odorous and fishy, out of, and in season, carefully handled and in good keeping, the property of an absent - oh! - friend, al will soon be disposed of at auction if the owner don't return soon and claim property. For further information apply at the Windsor Harness establishment.
An effort is being made to rebuild the enclosure of the Episcopal Church yard in this place. The area of space used for a cemetery is very large, consequently the cost will be heavy. All those who feel an interest in the memory of the loved ones resting there, should contribute liberally. For so commendable an object bespeak the cheerful and liberal contributions of a christian people. D. C. Winston, Esq., is authorized to receive contibutions for the purposes named above, the work of which is much needed.
The senior and his lady left today, the latter on a visit to her family in Pittsburg, Pa., and the former accompanyig her as far as Norfolk. The Junior and - and - no not exactly, left also, for his fall stock of goods - so we editors left behind will have a good time for a few days.
A horse, standing hitched to a cart in front of our office, run away on Tuesday last, cleaning the streets generally of pedestrians with no lives lost and no cart broken which sad catastrophe we have to chronicle.
Capt. John H. Hall is making every preparation to secure the comfort of his guests during Court week. Good beds and square meals will be the order of the day. Stop with him.
Mose Muggins of Woodville is not an irritable man; very far from it. But when he found the next morning, that the rabbit which his thoughtful heir little Muggins had put into one of his new 10 dollar boots the night before, had eaten his way out at the foot, the naturally placid and serene temperament of Mr. Muggis was considerably disturbed. So was Tommy in a very few minutes thereafter.
Little Johnny Scoggins of Roxobel is not naturally and iquisitive boy, he does not even possess what adoring parents call an inquiring mind. And yet the temptation which came upon him the other day while inspecting a mud turtle to feel and see in what part of that unique animal the head is located, was too natural to be resisted. Johnny was greatly assisted in his laudable enterprise by the surprising action of the turtle which seemed to be able to locate the precise position of Johnny's finger without the slightest difficulty.
The people in Bertie who always have money are those who work hard and do not come to town every Saturday.
It has been so long since the town authorities met that we are disposed to think that they are almost lost. Or is it possible that there is nothing for them to do. That's it we'll bet.
We hear people frequently say that they wish there was more people living in Windsor. Where would they live is the question? There is not a house in the town for rent. We are sure that there would be at least ten more families in town next year, than it is could they get houses.
What we need is more houses let those who own vacant lots build. Our enterprising townsman Charlie Harden owns one good lot to build on, Dr. Gillan, Dr. Dunstan and Mr. Geo. Gray, each have a good building lot. Now gentleman, if you want people to come, build houses and rhe people will not be wanting many days.
Married at the Hermitage the residenc of Dr. A. W. Mebane in this county, on the 24th by Edward Hardy, Esq., Mr. David Gaskins Jr. to Miss Ellen Cook.
Some fellow stole two dozen boxes of matches from the shop of our townsman John S. Shepherd on Monday last. That thief is in a hurry to get his brimstone.
R.R.R. - Radway's Ready Rekuef cures the worst pains in from one to 20 minutes. Not one hour after reading this advertisement need any one suffer with pain radway's ready relief is a cure for every pain, It was the first and is the only pain remedy.
Barber Saloon - Shaving, hair cutting, shampooing, and all other work pertaining to the tonsorial art done in the latest style and most comfortable manner at Issac Lee's Barber Shop on main Street WIndsor, next door to J. W. Hal's Hotel. To the public - I have opened a first class barber shop at Windsor. I learned my trade in Philadelphia and can do my work as well as any man. My terms are shaving 10 cents, shampooing 25 cents and hair cutting 25 cents. Try me. I guarantee satisfaction. Issac Lee.
Who are the friends of progress? Let them come to the railroad meeting.
We want a railroad, if we can't get that let us have a telegraph.
Mr. B.H. Levy has moved his cigar factory to a larger building on Main Street. He is now turning out some first class cigarettes.
Bicycles for sale at Millers. Mr. Joseph Nichols of Avoka killed a large bear one day last week. We have been told it weight 180 pounds.
Bertie Has more pretty girls than any county in North Carolina. What would our country become without pretty women.
"Family medicine" well known and extensively used for 20 years as Worthington's cholea and diarrhea medicine. And that was the year that was!
Baseball was a great thing in Bertie County especially after WW II. They had sort of a Semi-pro team with many local boys playing for their teams. They Recieved no salary but may have been rewarded with room and board if they were recruited from outside the community. Some players were recruited and then employed by local business establishment so that they could add quality players to their team. Lewiston , Windsor, Colerain Perry Town also recruited college players to come spend the summer with a family and play ball every Sunday afternoon. At these games there was standing room only. My Uncle Morgan "Lefty" Magee came to Colerain as a baseball player, married my aunt Julia Austin who was a nurse for Dr. Craddle and stayed there for thereafter. He was a pitcher and later became the manager of the team. Several of the college boys that were recruited to play baseball married local girls and later establish this as there home. I was at NCS this time and help recruit several of their star players to play for Colerain. My neighbor J.G.Hall Jr who was a cousin of mine played for Lewiston along with state Senator "monk" Harrington, Haywood Jr Bland played short stop . He was brother to Irving "Bro" Austin who in turn was my brother. Also playing mates were the Whitehead boys that were a brother to Burgess "Rat" that played for the "Gas House Gang" and later played 2nd base for many years for the NY Giants. The baseball game on a Sunday afternoon was the main attraction for these communities. There was no concession stand but parched peanuts in the shell were available at five cents a bag The Kelford colored (black) school building was situated on the left side on Blackjack Road and a short distance back from the ACL railroad tracts. The black community had organized a very good baseball team that played their games there on weekends. I, as a kid, attended many of these games and really enjoyed watching their action packed games. Kelford usually had a winning team and played on holiday or a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. James Flood was one of their star players. James was one of five Bertie County boys that were killed during WW II. Two of the five came from Kelford. The other was Lloyd Leicester. On any given afternoon while James Flood was on his way home from work as a route assistant to Grady Hall for the Cola-Cola Bottling Co in Kelford he would stop and hit pop flies to us guys that had gathered on the vacant lot next to the Kelford Baptist Church located east on Church Street. Wow! He could pop that ball a country mile. It was a great loss when he was killed while serving in the U.S.Army because he had the talent to play big time baseball. James could stand in the middle of Church Street and hit a fly ball all the way across Front Street that ran parallel to Church. Sometime, when you are passing that way, stop and look at the distance the baseball had to travel. James lived with his parent at the corner of North Church and 2nd street. My father, Hobart Austin bought the property from the Flood family in the forties. After my daddy passed away we three Austin brothers gave the property as a gift to our dear friend Marie Johnston Jones. Marie was living in the house at that time and was always my mother's right hand helper. She had followed in the footsteps of her mother Addie Johnston. Between the two of them they had been an extended part of our family for fifty years. Whenever I go to Kelford, one of the first places I go is to visit Marie and her only living son. TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME--- I remember attending one of the baseball games on Blackjack Road (Afri-Amer) in the 1930's. We had arrived a little late and the game was already under way on this particular day. After finding a place to stand behind third base someone in our group inquired as to what the score was, A young boy replied that "they all was eight and we're nothing". It reminded me of the story that was similar too this identical situation. When someone asked a person in the crowd what the score was, he was informed, "That it was 18 to zero". His remark was, "well, it appears they are really beating-us-up today". The reply was "Nah Sir", "Cause us haven't been to bat yet". This was the type of action you could expect at one of these baseball games The Kelford team had several super stars in addition to James that could dominate a game and hit the ball way into the woods in center field. James Flood was that type of great person and player Pete Austin.
We still lived on my dad's old homeplace in the heart of Pell Mell at that time. We moved into Windsor about two years later (lot #23 at end of street) and my dad opened a grocery store on King Street just a few doors from the Rascoe Store and the hospital and another few doors from the old Windsor Pharmacy. We lived on Dundee Street just a block from the courthouse. I guess since it was so convenient, the sheriff used to come to our house and take me to the courthouse to "draw the names for serving jury." This lasted until sometime while I was in the first grade. The Windsor Elementary School was just a block from the courthouse in the opposite direction of my home. They would come to school and get me out to go draw the jury. One day, I drew my dad's name and exclaimed: "That's my dad!" Well, that ended my jury drawing. They realized I could now read.
Just about the time I was getting of age to start to school, World War II was getting underway. King Street, which ran through the heart of Windsor, was US Highway 17 and was a main North/South artery. I can recall military convoys coming through town all day. And then there were the blackouts and the airplane watch tower over top of Hampton Britt's old grocery store. Buses, which were the main mode of public transportation in that area, were packed with soldiers and sailors. We even, at one point, had a POW camp at the edge of town. Italian and German prisoners were used for farm labor in the area.
Windsor had two pharmacies: The Windsor Pharmacy, operated by William P. Gurley, and Pugh's Pharmacy, operated by a Mr. Pugh. Everyone called them Dr. Gurley and Dr. Pugh, although they were just pharmacist. The Windsor Pharmacy had a great soda fountain and was one of the earliest places to have air conditioning. There was both a Roses 5 and 10 and a Whites 5 and 10 on King Street. Then, of course, there was the movie theater (Palace), where I used to sit in the cool on a hot Saturday afternoon and watch westerns all afternoon, at least until I started cooking and selling popcorn for the theater. Bicket Johnson ran "Bicket's," a local teen hangout for meeting and eating. And then there were the Western Auto, Goldstein's Department Store, Davis Jewelry Store, the Post Office, at least two barber shops, Bunn's Barbecue (which is still a great place to get barbecue, although Bunn has long been dead), Mr. Essie's Shoe Shop, the Bank of Windsor (lot 28), Pritchett's Law Office, Town Hall and volunteer firehouse (lot 30) all in one (with the library over the firehouse), and several grocery stores. Byrd and Walker had a furniture business, as well as Bruce Cobb. In the late 30's and at least through the 40's, there were two livery stables in town and one blacksmith shop. A Hessie Morris ran one of the livery stables and he and my dad used to find time to play checkers with each other. The blacksmith shop was run by a Mr. Aubrey Davis. As early as I can recall, Mr. Davis was deaf; and in later years he lost his voice box to cancer, yet he kept on working.
The schools were segregated in those days. The main black school was, I believe, named W.P. Etheridge. The whites first went to Windsor Elementary, located beside Cashie Baptist Church, and then to Windsor High, at the northern edge of town at the end of King Street. Neither is standing today. There were other elementary schools in the county that funneled students into Windsor at about the eight grade level.
Being the county seat, court week was always a big event. The town would be filled up with mules and carts (I can still recall hitching posts in the back alleys) and those early model cars. The town would be full of people practically all week.
The Cashie Baptist Church ended up at about Lot 134/135 and the Windsor Elementary School was right beside it at lot 136. The entire block, from 90 through 96 were Rascoe family homes. Across the street were a couple of Mardre dwellings.
It's funny how you can recall certain things so vividly. There were at least three artesian wells that I can remember. One was on the corner of Dundee and King right beside the courthouse. It ran cold water all the time and it was really good. Then there was one about three-fourths of the way from my home to the high school (about a mile from my home). It was great rest spot. None of these wells exist today.
There is so much more and I could go on, but this is enough. It was a great town to grow up in and I have always felt pride at being from Bertie County, although I have not lived there for 49 years.