May 30, 1957
This Article Appeared In The Times
But Was Not Actually Titled Calís Column
Transcribed by Janette West Grimes
Eld.† Henry† C.† Oldham
†† The editor of the Times visited the grave of his good friend of other years, Elder Henry Calvert Oldham, on Monday of last week, in the old Patterson Cemetery, on Little Peyton's Creek. He found the cemetery perhaps in the best condition he had ever seen it, and he had known the cemetery for nearly 49 years, since the day and time when he used to carry the mail on Rural Route one, out of Pleasant Shade, and even earlier, the writer had lived in the community and taught school at Kittrell's school house down the valley toward Pleasant Shade.
†† Brother Oldham lies in his grave with the sleeping dust of the wife of his youth, the former Maggie Petty, nearby. Also close by the grave of the minister we knew in our better and happier days sleep the forms of two of Brother Oldham's sons, C. B. Oldham, Maggie's son, who born after his mother's health began to fail and who died in his first year. The other Oldham child was the son of Brother Oldham and his second wife, the former Darthula Williams. This son was called C. J. Oldham and was born Feb. 26, 1918 and died July 24, 1919, at the age of about 17 months. Our little visit to the graves of this once happy family was occasioned by our desire to learn the date of Brother Oldham's death, over which there had arisen some difference of opinion. He was born Jan. 12, 1886 and passed away on July 16, 1943, at the age of about 57 years. His wife, the former Maggie Petty, was born March 22, 1891 and died at the early age of almost 25 years, passing away on Feb. 27, 1916. After her death he married Darthula Williams, who after her husband's death became the wife of Elder C. B. Massey.
†† Brother Oldham was the son of James Oldham and his wife, the former Matilda Sloan. James Oldham was the son of James Oldham and his wife, the former Mary Perkins. Their children, besides Henry's father, were Celia; Mary Ann Oldham, who married Cobb Russell; George Oldham, who married a Dillehay and later Lois Williams, a sister of the second wife of Bro. Henry Oldham; W. Templeton Oldham, who married Nola Goad, a sister of the great teacher of our boyhood, George W. Goad; Timothy Oldham, commonly known as Duff Oldham, who married a Shoemake; Davy Oldham, was once a teacheer in the Smith County schools and who married first a Alloway and later a Hawkins; and Sallie Oldham, who married "Whistling John" Oldham, a distant cousin of Sallie. Davy was a physician for a number of years.
†† James Oldham, the father of eight sons and daughters just mentioned, was the son of George Oldham, and his wife the former Celia Sutherland. The children of George and Celia Sutherland Oldham were: Polly Ann Oldham, married William Nixon; Judy Oldham, married Nelson Davis; Sam Oldham, married first Nancy Nixon and later her sister, Sallie; Tommie Oldham, married a Massey; William Oldham, married a sister of Tommie Oldham's wife; Celia Oldham, married Brice Piper; Willis Oldham, married first a Beasley and later a Richards; Letha Oldham, married a brother of our father's mother, James Gregory; Jane Oldham, married a McKinnis; Betsy Oldham, married George Payne and became the mother of 16 children; Adeline Oldham, married Levi Shoulders, the son of Polly Gregory, who married Malachi Shoulders, the ancestor of all the Shoulders family by blood in this part of Tennessee; and George Oldham, Jr., who was a victim of infantile paralysis and never married, so far as our records show.
† †Brother Oldham and the writer were together in many services. Brother Oldham was not a perfect man, but he did a lot of good in the world. We have said and still say that we considered him the very best man we ever knew to go into all the homes of church members in this part of the country and talk with such members about their problems face to face. He made mistakes along life's way, but so did all the characters we have ever known.
†† We had a lot of fun with Brother Oldham. We recall that in the fall of 1917, we were called on by the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist church to start the revival meeting on the first Sunday night in November. Brother C. B. Massey was pastor of the church. The writer was then rural carrier on Route one, Pleasant Shade and lived at Pleasant Shade. Brother Massey could not reach the revival until the last of the first week. On Thursday or Friday of that first week, the writer decided to have a "talking meeting." Among those that "talked" that day was "Pup" Porter. He arose in the amen corner and said, "Brethren, I want you all to pray for me that I may get rid of this confounded foolishness." He then sat down. Brother Oldham arose and said, with a tear-filled voice, "Brethren, I have had an awful tussle with the Devil this morning. But I have finally got the "gentleman" behind me." Then he sat down. When the service was over, the minister, your writer of today, went home with "Pup" Porter for dinner as the midday meal was then called. Brother Oldham and quite a number of the other members of Ebenezer church did likewise. We had been in the Porter home only a short time when Brother Oldham began to "raz" Brother Porter about what he had said about† getting rid of the "confounded" foolishness. Porter, who was very witty, replied, I think you have a fine reason for saying anything about my talk. You even called the Devil a "gentleman," and I thought he was every thing but a gentleman." We decided that the contest between the two men was a sort of "dog fall."
†† Brother Oldham was easily discouraged and was often on the point of quitting. We once sent him to our church at Good Will to begin the revival, making him a promise that the writer would be there as soon as his meeting at another place closed. We arrived on Thursday in time for the 11 o'clock service, to find Brother Oldham almost in tears. He said to the writer, "The people at Good Will do not like me." I said "Has any member at Good Will told you that they did not like you?"
†† He finally replied, "No."
†† I then asked him if they had furnished him a bed to lie on and rather grudgingly he replied in the affirmative. I asked him if he had been well fed and he answered again in the affirmative. Finally I demanded to know exactly what had been said and with apparent reluctance he finally said "Brother _____ asked when you [ Calvin Gregory, the pastor ] would reach the church."
†† We then said, "We have had dozens of members to ask us when the pastor would arrive and the man who asked you that question about the pastor did not mean he did not like you. You have made yourself miserable and unhappy over a fancied idea that the church did not like you." He then asked the writer to preach that day and we did the best we could. Brother Oldham soon became his usual self, laughing and talking and taking life in a good way. That afternoon he and the writer got into our buggy and started from Good Will to Hartsville, by way of the cemetery on the hill about two and a half miles east of Hartsville. On this hill we met two grown girls riding horseback and riding men's saddles. Oldham saw that they were girls or women and he spoke to them, saying "Howdy do, gentlemen." Without even a sign of a smile he had called the girls on men's saddles, "Gentlemen," and went on his way without one effort to correct what they perhaps thought was an honest mistake. We laughed over this for a long, long time and told this on Brother Oldham many times since it happened.
†† When we stood at his grave on Monday of this week, May 13, 1957, we thought of many episodes in our past lives together. These things make us rather sad, but deep in our hearts is the thought that we shall meet again where partings are unknown and there is no dying.