Transcribed by Timothy R. Meador, Jr.
December 20, 1951
By J. S. Jenkins
In your published report on “Some Old Papers,” you mention the name of one Coons, who, you state, shouldered and carried a seven-bushel barrel of salt, at a certain store. I knew the said Dick Coons from the time I was seven years old till his death. He was born in 1820 and died in March, 1908, being 88 years old. He was the grandfather of the late Squire Walter Gregory, who died a few months ago.
On several occasions he have the following account of the “Salt incident,” in his own words: “Me and my son, Don, was at William (Bill) Kennedy’s store one Saturday evening on Defeated Creek. There was several seven-bushel barrels of salt on the store porch, and there were several customers there. Mr. Kennedy said he would give a barrel of salt to the one who would shoulder the barrel of salt and ‘tote’ it home on his shoulder. I said, ‘You are traded with,’ and took the barrel of salt on my shoulder and carried it without taking it off my shoulder. My son, Don, was a witness to same.”
“Uncle Dick,” as he was called, was a man of great strength in his day and time. He was known to take two and a half bushels of corn on his shoulder and carry it to the mill two or three miles away, without taking it from his shoulder on the entire trip to the place of the grinding of the grain.
He was known as a great “rail splitter,” equal perhaps to Abe Lincoln. He said he knew Jennings’ Creek when he could jump across it in the widest place, even at high tide. He said he knew the bottom lands of Jennings’ Creek when they were covered with wild cane. I have seen a number of rails he made from walnut logs when he was a young man. In January, 1886 there fell a snow about 15 inches deep. When that snow was on the ground, “Uncle Dick” carried about 18 axe handles on his shoulder to Bill Kennedy’s Store and sold them for 15 cents each, buying groceries and carrying them home, a distance of about 12 miles without resting, and waded the creek and smaller streams as he came to them. He was then 66 years old.
Mr. Gregory, you may print this in the Times, if you desire.
J. S. Jenkins
(Editor’s note. We are glad to have this information about a most remarkable man. We never knew the man referred to personally, but part of the children of Dick Coons were known to him. One of them was the wife of our great-uncle, Ambrose Gregory, who resided just over the hill from where Cal was born. This woman was Lucinda Coons Gregory, the second wife of Ambrose Gregory. He was a soldier of the Mexican War, and his widow was left with a large family of children to rear. But she was fully equal to the task, laboring in the fields and doing as much washing as any woman we knew. Our mother said many years ago, “Lucinda has washed enough clothes to make a string that would reach to New Orleans.” We recall that she was possessed of great strength being able to walk to Dixon Springs, about four miles away, carry on the return trip a 24 pound sack of flour, other groceries and a load of 50 to 60 pounds in all, and would stand for perhaps half an hour and talk to neighbors along the road, still bearing all the load on her shoulders. She died just a few years ago at the age of 88. She it was who placed the first clothing on Cal’s body on the morning of Wednesday, July 8, 1891. We mentioned this in our funeral service for this good woman, who cared for [her] own large family, who worked as no other woman we have ever known, and yet was as cheerful as the day was long. Truly she was one of the greatest characters we ever knew. She was part Indian and showed as great endurance as did her father before her.
She had a brother that we knew well, Uncle Bill Coons, who died at Pleasant Shade about 25 years ago.
Daniel Sullivan, referred to in the Times, issue of December 6th, was my great-grandfather. He was also the great-grandfather of Jim Sullivan, Dona Sullivan, Nelle Howser and Ella Hargis. He was the great-great-grandfather of Price Morrison, He lived on what is now the farm of Dewey Ford, just west of the Gap of the Ridge. His cabin was not far from where Enloe Jones now lives, farther west and farther away from the road; and, of course, near a spring. His son, James Sullivan, who was my grandfather, lived about the site of the present Dewey Ford home, but probably a little further back. You will notice that this section is on “the Ridge between Long Creek and Goose Creek,” as reference was made.
Henry Rhodes was the father of my uncle-in-law, Jarvis Rhodes, who married my mother’s sister, Jane Sullivan. Henry lived back of Price Morrison’s farm, and near a spring.
The William C. Hanes, mentioned in the same issue of the paper, I think, was not the uncle of Mrs. J. A. Rose, but must have been her great-uncle, a brother to her grand-father, Claiborne. She had an uncle Willie, who was always called “Willie.” He was killed by lightning not earlier than the 80’s, and I think the late 80’s. Readers will note that William C. Hanes was a mature man in 1836. Willie Hanes belonged to the generation of people who were born in the 30’s and 40’s, He was not even approaching old age when he was killed by lightning. Jim Sullivan remembers him quite well. He was postmaster at Alton Hill, and it is likely that Jim Rose succeeded him. Jim Rose married about the middle 80’s.
The date made me take notice, although I am sure that Anise (Rose) never gave that a thought.
There are several other Hanes people of the same family around Alton Hill, the Gap and vicinity who are recorded in my mind, being able to recall them largely through stories from my parents. I pictured them, even their farms, homes and faces. The pictures stay with me, and many things, such as the article in the paper, cause them to revive.
William C., I believe, was Willie’s uncle, which does not matter to us; but, anyway, notice and compare dates.
Elijah Adams was probably a relative of Wilson Adams, who lived near the Gap of the Ridge on the Long Creek side. I have a cherry chest of drawers that Wilson Adams made. My father, in his young married days, bought it either form Adams or at the sale of Wilson Adams’ property after his death. Other facts that can be enumerated point to the fact that William C. Hanes was not Willie. Indeed, I never saw either of them, not even my grandparents.
(Editors note. We are glad to have this article from Miss Simmons and invite her to write again and give us other information about the early families of the Gap of the Ridge section.)