May 10, 1951


Transcribed by Janette West Grimes


Texas  Letter



Commerce, Texas

May 3, 1951

Dear Cal:


   Your paper reveals good echoes from California eastward and even from the Land of the Rising Sun. I have even found a cousin right here in Dallas -- one of your appreciative subscribers. She wrote me a letter, and better still she, her husband, and son had me for lunch not long ago. Her name is Mrs. C. A. Stanley, 1305 Coleman, Dallas, Texas. Her primary interest is among the old-timers. Her grandfather was a brother of mine. She has a daughter with the telephone company in Dallas, her husband a carpenter, and her son in oil business of some kind. Not long ago she visited the family of the late Dr. Pattie East there, in Hartsville and other parts.


   Now comes a scribe from Red Boiling and says he knows all the folks I have mentioned. He may be Cager Archer, whom I met there some years ago. And talking about old soldiers who traded down at Eason on White Oak, it should be said that Cager's grandfather [ I. Meador Pipkin] lived half a mile or so below Beech Grove schoolhouse [new site where house was built about 1892-3] and often came in buggy to get his sugar, green coffee, salt, soda, jeans, calico, shirting, coal oil, and perhaps chewing tobacco at our store [Bray and Freeman] at Eason during the nineties. With him often came Wilson ["Booby" or brother, I guess it meant to some child], Cager, Benton, Bratton, Webb, or Bob. Then we could hear Uncle "Ace" Blankenship tell his jokes and laugh if some one was brave enough to bite at the catch he had in each one. These boys were sons of Silas Archer, who lived near the school mentioned. I was a pupil there under Crit Woodcock and Nick Cook, who still lives at Eason where for years he ran the store as Bray and Cook, after our family left-there in 1901.


   [ Editor's note. The Red Boiling Springs writer mentioned above is Carson C. Driver.]


   Uncle Meador was a cutltured, well-to-do old gentleman and a very fine citizen. Through his daughter, Florence, these Archer boys got a valuable heritage. I should mention Crit Archer too, a girl and the youngest. To reach Eason they came down the " John Hollow," in which Joe Archer's large family lived before coming to Ellis County, Texas, about 1895. There also lived Tom Shockley later who had a lathe and made chairs and other furniture from choice timbers and barks then on every hand. This hollow struck White Oak a quarter mile up the creek from John A. Driver's home and from White Oak Church, across on the left bank of the creek in a grove of cedars. Just below the church, and at the ford just above my Uncle John Driver's home, there was a big spring pouring an abundance of the finest water from the hills. Uncle John Driver's granddaughter recently also wrote me a letter. She is Mrs. Lawton [Sammy Cook, daughter of Sam Hayes Cook and Dora Gertrude Driver] Lane, of Thomasville, Georgia. Her mother is the only living child of John Driver and Susan Bell Freeman Driver.


   Fifty-five years ago one crossed the creek about ten times to get a mile and a half up to Eason from the John Hollow. First came Dick Bray's home at the lower end of the first bluff on the left bank. Here was perhaps the site of the first settlement in Macon County, by Thomas Driver, wife and two children who came [says Cal] on horseback from Virginia. I was born there in a two-story log house in 1887 shortly before White Oak church house was built. My great-grandfather there was Alvin Driver, father of Nancy Driver Bray. Next up the creek was a small one-room log cabin where various of my relatives have lived.


   Back of this, up on the ridge toward Long Fork, was Old Beech Grove schoolhouse, where in  1891 I had a month of school under John Profitt*, and came to know the older children of the Archers, Celsors, Drivers, Scotts, Hoarks, and others. Here was the community center of the post-bellum days, if not earlier. There scores "got religion," as it was called, and two preachers were W. L. Buie and perhaps Brother Sailings. Here also came Eph Rogers, Harrison Carter [from Lafayette] and perhaps Reneau, Lovelady, Wallace, and others of the time to preach the gospel of "the one book." There my grandfather and several children embraced the "Christian" faith, then nicknamed Campbelites, though Mulkey, Stone, and others antedated the Campbells [who came from Scotland in 1807] by ten years or more in rejecting all creeds but the Bible. That old building burned one night [probably set by bad boys out hunting], and so the new location was near Silas Archer's home half a mile further over. I reached it by leaving the creek road at Asa Blankenship's home at the Booker Freeman store location, though Uncle Harmon Bray then lived there.


   Next up the creek was the home of Rile Driver, another old veteran, who lived on a bluff over-looking the creek. He got water in a bucket let down on a wire to another of those springs of fine water that gushed from the hillside. He drew the bucket back up by use of a windless. Uncle Rile's land ran back north up a hill on which some very early settlements were made and some graves were then to be seen, perhaps some of the family of the early Drivers there.


   Next was the old home place of Harmon Bray, whose widowed mother [Julina] Booker Freeman had married about the time he ran a store there. This is the place Asa Blankenship moved to from the ridge home above Underwood. It is said that he kept his money in gold placed in glass jars in a hole under a large rock on his hearth. The secret was out when he moved the others took over. Down on the creek he invited my brother, Wick C., and me to stay all night with him about 1900. A friendlier neighbor, especially in Illness, was hardly to be found. If Uncle "Ace" liked you, he liked you; otherwise, he just kept his distance and kept his mouth shut. He called us to the table for supper, and across our plates lay a slice of juicy ham, fried perfectly, that hardly left room enough for the red gravy, fried potatoes, and the big biscuits he made! We fared sumptiously, for one day at least. I recall that he cut the second ham -- for in the first one he found "skippers," as they were called.


   Up, stairs hung much clothing and bed clothing, and on exposed logs here and there we saw loose change, good coin of the realm! Of course we did not touch it or mention it, for we had been brought up to let things alone and to keep our hands off what belonged to other people. Many people regarded Uncle Asa as a miser, and his thrift tended in that direction. During the war he had been shot through both legs near the knees. Like Uncle Jesse Talmon, he drew a pension for life from the federal government as a result -- but Uncle Jesse, grandfather of Elmer East, a playmate of mine whose father was our Doctor East, walked on his knees for life. He wore sheepskin pads on his knees, such as I later wore in the Texas cotton patches. Uncle Asa is supposed to have buried most of his money about his premises, but I never heard that any of it was found.


   One fall he came from Lafayette county fair early and came into the Eason store. "How is the fair, Uncle Ace?" "Fine, but I tell you them that goes there tomorrow will have to keep their eyes open." "Why?" -- So they can see! Ha, ha, ha, ha!" This is Uncle Asa Blankenship, the veteran of several battles, and a mighty fine neighbor to us.


                                                           W. W. FREEMAN



Transcriber Note: Unsure of Spelling …it looks as though there was a typing error on this name.