Transcribed by Janette West Grimes
October 15, 1953 - Reprinted February 10, 1977
Additional Ballou Information
The following is from a letter to Joseph Ballou from Walter W. Smith, of the University of Idaho, at Moscow, in which appear the following items about the Ballou family: We are in the midst of Summer Session at the University but I am past the very worst and have a bit of leisure this Saturday, so I will try to tell you what we discovered. Thanks for the data on the history of Phoebe Catherine Smith, your grandmother. Little by little, just like that, we gather the information, and, if we put it all together, we shall after awhile have the most complete history of any of the good old Kentucky families.
You said in your last letter that your great-grandmother was Frankie Smith, but doubtless you meant Ballou. If you can, please verify this and get the day and in the date of her birth; and, while you are trying this, find, if possible, the date of James Ballou's birth. If Frankie Jones Ballou was born in 1805, she must have been married very young to have been the grandmother of Jesse Washington Ballou, son of Leonard Ballou. This Jesse Washington Ballou was born in 1832, as you will see. Maybe Frankie Jones Ballou was a second wife. Have you ever heard of that?
I have a letter from Mrs. E. A. Moss, of Williamsburg, Ky., who has traced her branch of the Ballou family back to Col. William Ballou of Boileau, who was granted a tract of land in Virginia for military services in 1651-52. There was a Charles Ballou, of Richmond, born in 1722, who had two sons, Thomas and William Ballou, who were officers in the Revolutionary War. These Ballous were French Protestants or Huguenots. One of these, Rev. Meredith Ballou, and a Bennett Ballou, removed to Burke County, N.C. A nephew of these, Peter Ballou, lived for some time in Burke Co., N.C. I wonder if this is not the same family as yours. Finally, tradition is a very poor basis for genealogy, as so much can be conjured up, after the older people are dead. I really believe that Leonard, William and James Boileau, reputed to have been immigrants in your family, were the sons of these Virginia Boileaus of Betetourt and Cumberland Counties, Va. If this is true, we have a lot more work to do on the Ballou family.
You might find the History of the Ballou Family in the Public Library in Louisville. Try it and see if you might not find it. There is some history of the Virginian Ballous that might give us a start on the ancestors of James Ballou.
By reading this outline over, you will see that there are many "bare spots" in it. We want to find out when James and his wife, Frankie Jones Ballou, were born, when married and when each died. If you can find this out, I will appreciate it much. Why not run down to Pulaski County for a little visit? If one looked up some of the records in the court house, some dates might be found that would settle some points not now clear. Then a little scurrying about Pulaski County might locate James Ballou's family Bible.
Since I wrote you, I located what seems to be definitely the ancestor of our Smith line, in the person of Georg Schmid, born in Kirchbert, Wurttemburg, South Germany, March 29, 1719. He came to America and settled at Bethlehem before 1753, removed to Bathabara, N.C., in October, 1754, and was twice married and reared a considerable family, and died at Salem, N. C., in 1791. George Smith, born about 1768, seems to have been his oldest son, and is called in the records, Jr. He made a deed in 1800 in Rowan County, and again in 1807, while he was living in Pulaski County, Ky., so the records show, and called himself George Smith, Jr. So I feel pretty sure we have the line correct. The first George Smith left Germany as a religious refuge, being a Moravian, and the Catholic church was oppressing the Protestants. This is a good beginning for our Smith side of the house.
Can you find out who were the parents of your mother, and when she and your faather were married? If possible, I wish we could get a list of the children of James and Frankie Jones Ballou, in the order of their ages. I am only sure of the youngest and the daughter next to him, who were Enoch and Emedine Ballou.
I married December 25, 1901, at Holden, Mo., to Miss Margaret Eunice Winn, of Kansas City, Mo. We have three sons, Robert Wayne, born in Kansas City, Mo., June 6, 1903; Dudley Winn, born in Philadelphia, Pa., December 24, 1905; and Ronald Martin, also born in Philadelphia, September 23, 1909. The oldest and the youngest are school teachers, and the middle one is a medical doctor. Mrs. Smith and I have taught most of our lives. We did settlement work in Philadelphia from 1904 to 1906. Then we spent nearly three in Los Angeles, California coming here in September 1927. I am director of teaching training and associate professor of secondary education.
We do most of the things that middle-aged school teachers do: Read, travel, write a little, grow flowers, collect genealogical notes and promote religious education as specialties. We should like to meet you and your lovely family. When you write again, and I hope it will be very soon, tell me about your own family. Who are your wife's people and your mother's people? What do you do, and what is your hobby? Mine is genealogy, as you know by now.
With very best wishes, in which Mrs. Smith joins me, I am,
Walter W. Smith
October 15, 1953 - Reprinted September 9, 1976
A BUCKET OF MOLASSES
On Monday, October 12th, the editor of the Times, Calvin Gregory by name, received of his good friend, Henry Sircy, of Russell Hill, in the southeast part of Macon County, as a gift a half-gallon of sorghum mollasses. We extend our sincere thanks for this gift from Henry who attended our school at Mace's Hill in 1911 and 1912. His white hair reminds us of the fact that we are even older than our school boy of more than 40 years ago. He is the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Bev Sircy, who lived in the years above given, on the John Bell Winkler farm which joined our father's little hill farm on the south. In fact our old home place was once part of the farm of John Bell Winkler.
But our subject, "A Bucket of Molasses," was chosen because it came from a "batch" of sorghum cane grown by our first cousin, Luther Monroe Gregory, on our old farm which he has owned for many years. Luther, as we have always called him, took a load of cane to our friend Sircy, who made some 50 gallons of very fine sorghum from the cane which grew just below the church house at Mace's Hill. We almost wondered how that land cleared perhaps a hundred years ago, retained the ability to produce such excellent "sweetening" as did that old hillside over which we played as a barefooted boy more than half a century ago. It grew about half way up the hillside from its base to the summit, right between the old Nickojack Road and the old Fort Blount Road, although the latter has been abandoned for about 100 yards and now runs along the original Nickojack Road some 80 yards toward the present church house and then turns northwestward to the gap through which the original Fort Blount Road passed. This ground is still rich and made a good crop of sorghum this year in spite of the extremely dry weather.
About this "sorghum patch" cluster many memories for the writer. In the earliest of his recollections, it was hemmed in by a road on every side and was a three-cornered plot of ground which contained less than a half-acre. About 100 yards east of this plot of land was located the first school house we ever patronized. Here on August 9, 1898, we entered school as a seven-year-old boy, with Mrs. Marshall Duncan Massey, as teacher. The reader may wonder why we give the date. It was on Tuesday after the second Monday in August of that year; and by means of some old almanacs, we learned that our first day in school was that given above. Here we finished our country schooling in the course of a few years. Here we have hundreds and hundreds of memories that cluster about the old school house and the grounds adjacent thereto.
On the site of the sorghum field of 1953, in the long-gone years, an upfenced pasture and subject to public grazing, we played with the other boys in school. We recall thaat at one time all the smaller boys had "stick horses." As we played beneath the old beech tree that stood then on this small tract we had our "horses" doing a lot of "rearing up," "JUMPING" "bucking" and almost everything else that a "stick horse" could do. Our "horse" of more than half a century ago was of ash wood. We recall that we once had a "horse" made of a straight maple; or, as we then called it, "sugar tree." Tommie Ellis, one of our school mates had a "horse" of hackberry wood. He trimmed off the rough, outside bark, exposing the white beneath. He called his "horse" "old Speck." The "horse" episode subsided after some time and we turned to other "sports." Here we had many a game of horseshoes and could recall some incidents connected therewith.
Near the sorghum field of 1953, there used to be a sort of shallow pit from which gravel had been taken. At its upper end was a pile of rocks or stones, around which we often played. Here more than a half century ago, one of our playmates, Elbert Richard, used to demonstrate his "prowess" in placing things in his mouth. We are not going to be unkind as to insinuate that Elbert had a big mouth, but we have seen the boys make up money to get him to place two large, bandanna handkerchief in his mouth at one time and then be able to close his lips completely so the handkerchiefs did not show in the least. Our childish mind thought this was some feat; and, privately, we tried to imitate Elbert. But we could never get more than one handkerchief in Gregory's mouth at one time. The generally dirty handkerchief would get down our throat far enough to begin to "tickle," and then we had to "ungorge."
Elbert and his sister, Eula, were very poor and we often watched them eat cornbread and molasses for their mid-day meal at school. We took cornbread to school just a few times in those long-gone years; but we managed to slip out away from other boys and girls and eat so as not to be "exposed." Elbert, in young manhood, married Miss Lora Miller and she bore him one son and died, leaving the young husband and motherless child. The Army soon got Elbert and took him to Europe. He died in the service and is buried, we know not where. In fact, his relatives were never able to learn where he was laid down for the long, long sleep of death. But God will find him in the resurrection, for he became a good Christian boy and died in the triumphs of a living faith.
Near the west boundary of the 1953 sorghum patch was the old Fort Blount Road, which extended at least as far east as Fort Blount on the east bank of Cumberland River, some miles below Gainesboro, and westward by way of the present Difficult, Pleasant Shade, Mace's Hill, Good Will and Mungle's Gap, into Robertson County. The writer, as he has frequently stated, was born on the side of this road, about a quarter of a mile west of the sorghum patch of 1953. This road was laid out long, long ago, and was the first road into Middle Tennessee from the East. Over it traveled literally hundreds and hundreds of covered wagons, filled with the household goods of early emigrants, on their way to new homes farther west. Over this road, James Robertson, John Sevier, Andrew Jackson and many other noted men of an early day, traveled. We are still of the opinion that it ought to have national recognition and that a super highway should be built along the former route whenever feasible; and always as near as possible along the original route.
Another point connected with the 1953 "soughum patch" was an event that occured in the life of the writer when he was about 11 years old. He was a very, very bashful youth as some of the older people can still testify, a quality that those who did not live that far back can hardly understand in this day and time when the writer is no more bashful than a monkey. We could not "stand" to be "teased" about girls. One day we had just eaten our dinner, and then went to the house to return our dinner basket and we found several of the girls engaged in writing boys' names on the blackboard. We turned to leave the room as quickly as possible, as one of the girls said: "Here is M_____'s sweetheart," and then wrote the name, Calvin Gregory, on the board. Our face burned with shame and humiliation and we had never before been so badly "hacked." We fled from the scene as if we might be exposed to a plague. Soon all the other boys and girls caught on and gave the writer as unmerciful a "lashing" as he ever carried. We even got to the point that we could take to the hills and remain until the rest period, then called "dinner" was over. Then we would sneak back in the house like a "whipped puppy." Once one of the larger boys grabbed Cal by the hand as he was leaving the house and stated that he was going to hold the bashful boy until the girl about whom he was being aggravated, came along. We pulled with all our might, fear and dread and horror laying hold of, the poor, disconcerted boy. We finally jerked our hand from the larger hand of the boy and plunged down the high steps that led from both sides of the front door of the old school building to the ground, the steps being some ten feet or more in length. We struck the hard, rocky ground with such force that our knees took a bad skinning, our dinner basket was smashed and the cup of honey we carried as part of our lunch, was broken and spilled over the other contents of the basket. We slipped away and had a good cry in secret and then tried to eat our honey-drenched lunch. All these episodes led to more and more teasing on the part of the other boys and girls; and life became so miserable, that we were in despair and lost interest in our school work.
The part that the "sorghum patch" of 1953 plays in this episode concerns the fact that finally when we could endure no more, we went to meet the teacher, Prof. Geo. W. Goad, to inform him of our trouble and to ask relief. But the girl and her cousin, another girl, came to school from the same direction as the teacher. So when we went to meet the teacher, we met the girl and her cousin. Instead of merely speaking to them and passing by them, we turned and came back toward the school house, just above the piece of ground that figures so prominently in this story. When the boys on the play ground saw us walking in front of the two girls, they set up a hue and cry: " Cal has gone to meet his girl, " with a lot of other things charged against the poor bashful youth of about 50 years ago. So we had "jumped from the frying pan into the fire." We have perhaps never been more miserable in life than over this episode and we almost blush now with our silliness in our youthful days not only on the occasion referred to, but a hundred others in which we acted as if we "did not have half sense." But we finally found the opportunity to enlist the aid of the teacher, who gave the "teasers" one trimming up and stopped it. If we had paid no attention to their "guying," it would have ended in a matter of hours; but instead, it lasted for weeks.
But the greatest event of all of our life took place at the west end of the "sorghum patch." Here in 1909, when Gregory was 18, a preacher boy by the name of Ernest Corum, began a revival meeting in a brush arbor. We resented his coming, as we had a sort of feeling that he merely wanted to disturb our usual serenity of mind and feelings. We wanted to attend and yet feared to hear his sermons. We had up to that time heard perhaps about ten sermons, most of which had left us in a state of worry. Our very first time to attend any kind of religious service took place at the old school house which was once the new school building. The first time to "go to meeting" in life, took place on the fourth Sunday in May, 1901, when the writer was nearly ten years old. Our next time to hear a sermon was on the occasion of a memorial of our aunt, Mrs. Melissa Gregory Campbell, which took place on September, 1904. Our next sermon, or rather two of them, we heard in the summer of 1905. We went to church in Bowling Green twice in the autumn of 1907. So we had never been to church very much when Elder Corum began to preach in the brush arbor that stood at the extreme west end of the "sorghum patch."
We heard a sermon on Friday night, another on Saturday night, another on Sunday, and another on Sunday night. By that time we were much alarmed over our spiritual condition in the sight of God. On Monday night we went to our father's home about a quarter of a mile away, with a heavy heart and so sorely troubled that we slept but little. Then on Tuesday night, August 3, 1909, in the midst of the greatest anxiety of soul we have ever known, and with a broken heart that yearned for and panted for God, we found peace with God at the hour of nine o'clock, a peace that has never deserted us through the 44 years since that time. To the writer, the dearest spot on earth is the place where we met a forgiving and merciful God and our sin and guilt under which we had labored for eight years were gone. That night a transformation, the most radical we have ever known in our 62 years of life, took place. Elder Corum has long since gone "the way of all the earth," having died rather prematurely at the age of only about 40 years. From that time the writer felt that he owed God a debt of love and gratitude that can never be repaid in this life.
Two weeks after our conversion, and in the old tobacco barn that still stands about 200 yards below the "sorghum patch," we had our very first impression of our future work. But we did not recognize the first impression and had but little idea as to what it meant until other and stronger impressions had come upon our little soul. When finally it dawned on the writer that it was our first reaction. We could not preach and would not. We could not talk, and did not intend to even try. This sort of rebellion lasted about four years and finally gave way to submission to the will of God. We had no desire in the world to be a preacher and there was no calling on earth that we wanted any less. At that time, we simply said, "I won't go." But the God who dealt with a rebellious Jonah nearly 3,000 years ago, still lived in the skies and knew how to deal with His poor, rebellious child. At last, after many weary wrestlings in prayer and in worry and dread, we sorrowfully surrendered and took up the work. But it has not been a sorrowful work. Instead, it has brought the greatest enjoyment of all our life, to know that we had done, at least, a few things in the kingdom of our God. We have made many mistakes, but God has been merciful. We have often stumbled, but the helping hand has always been near. We have sorrowed deeply over many things that have come our way, but God has been more than good.
We know that some of our
readers will not understand things of our conversion, but Nicodemus did not
know about the new birth and asked, "How can these things be?" But we
know about them and thank God for the leadership of Him whose ways are past finding
out and who has "loved us with an everlasting love."