Interview with William Guthrie (Culley) Caldwell:
An Old-timer Reminisces about Westmoreland
In the first Quarter of the 20th Century
Part III

Compiled by Durham Caldwell
© 2002

Thanks to Durham for permission to reprint his interview with his father!

DC: The Caldwell store I remember is the brick store on the corner with the highway (now occupied by Kendall Realty and Auction).
WGC: That was the first brick building in Westmoreland. Our old store was next door to a house and the house was next door to the hotel. The hotel got afire one morning after daylight. We were walking from here to catch the train to go to school in Gallatin. Saw my father run up on a sidetrack and lay down an armful of clothes. He had presence of mind enough to get the most expensive things out of the store first. No fire department. A bucket and water brigade is all we had. The hotel burned, burned two or three houses on the other side of it, burned our house, and our old store building. We got most of the merchandise out. My father had sold Faucher Brick Company a lot of cordwood. He went to Nashville, made a contract with Faucher Brick Company to build that brick store down there, and that s the first brick building put up in Westmoreland. I hauled most of the brick down with a hired hand from the sidetrack on a two horse wagon. I was about 13 or 14 years old.

It was a two-story hotel. The proprietor built a fire in the heating stove in one of the guest rooms. The pipe slipped or something happened that's how they got the fire up in that guest room. Everybody got out.
DC: Do you remember any other big fires?
WGC: Where the old drugstore used to be below where the Church of Christ is now the building got afire next door. We got on ladders on the roof, passed buckets of water up, and they had blankets and we kept those blankets wet so the drugstore wouldn't get afire.
DC: How old were you then?
WGC: I was in my teens, I guess maybe 15 or 16.

DC: Was this house (on Old Lafayette Road at the edge of the village of Westmoreland) built at the same time as the brick store?
WGC: No, before the store. My father wanted to get us out of the village. He had this house built up here so we could live in the country. Across in front of us, where all these houses are now, was a cow pasture. We were outside the corporation line (the city limits). That field, that pasture, on the other side of the barn was in woods. We cleared that field. Had one log so big it took three teams to pull it to the mill I remember that. Took the logs to the mill, had 'em sawed into 2x4's and different size lumber they wanted. This house is well built. Had plenty of lumber in it. We went to Nashville and bought the dressed lumber from Gerald Kirkpatrick, an old lumber concern that used to be in Nashville.
DC: This house was built around 1910. Was there running water in the house at that time?
WGC: We didn't have any running water for a long time. Finally they put in a pump to pump water from the spring to the house. We had a spring house we kept milk and butter in before we got refrigeration. It would be somebody's job to go to the spring to get the milk and butter when we had a meal.
DC: The spring water was cold enough to keep it cool?
WGC: Yeah.
DC: An indelicate question: what did you do about going to the bathroom in those days when there wasn't any running water?
WGC: We had an outdoor toilet up here in the back yard. And when Aunt Daisy would visit us, she would say she was "going to Bethpage" and we'd know she was going to the toilet.

DC: I can remember my grandmother, your mother, making soap back in the '30s.
WGC: They saved scrap meat from hog killing, that sort of thing. You'd go to the store and buy concentrated lye and make homemade lye soap out of the waste parts of the hog. They used ashes. I remember my grandfather had an ash hopper. They put the wood ashes in there, kept 'em covered up, and then they'd pour water through it, and they'd get the lye out of the ashes, before they started buying concentrated lye at the store. Ash hopper: it was round at the top and came down to a trough in the bottom so that when they poured water through it, it would run out this trough, and they got the lye out of the ashes.
DC: You mentioned hog killing. Is that something that was done here?
WGC: Yes. My father always wanted to butcher the hogs. We'd raise 'em here on the place. We had a hog fence around the woods. They got a lot of acorns, chestnuts we had chestnuts back in those days, beech nuts off the beech trees. They made better meat if you put 'em in a smaller place and finished them up on corn. The meat was more firm than just what they called woods fed.
DC: What kind of a project was it to slaughter the hogs?
WGC: To me it was the worst day of the year on the farm. Freezing weather. You wore winter clothes and put on an overall jumper and a pair of overalls over that to keep warm. You'd have to chop ice out of the water trough to get water to put in the scalding box. You d start, get up and build a fire before daylight. You had to keep it going. We'd shoot the hogs with a .22 rifle. I was a pretty good shot in those days. I could hit, know where to hit him, and he'd drop without even a squeal. Cut the throat to bleed em. Then we'd take 'em down to the scalding box, scald 'em, scrape the hair off, hang 'em up on a pole, and finish the dressing process. Then at night we'd cut 'em up and salt 'em and put 'em in wooden boxes. We had regular meat boxes made to salt 'em in. Let 'em stay salted for about three weeks. Then we'd take it out, get the salt off, hang it up in the smokehouse and smoke it with hickory chips and corn cobs.
DC: How long a process was that, the smoking process?
WGC: It would depend. You could do it two or three days if you kept your fire going. You'd have to look after your fire, keep it covered up so it wouldn't blaze much. You wanted it to smoke all the time.
DC: Was there beef on the farm in those days? Did you slaughter your own beef?
WGC: Back in those days we belonged to a beef club. We'd go get the beef on Saturday. Had a secretary that kept account of the weight. There'd be about 12 in the club. We'd have fresh beef for 12 weeks. At the end of the season, the secretary would figure up who furnished the most beef and who owed somebody else. In other words, if we took a bigger beef than anybody else, we got a little money back. We used to drive a donkey to a buggy out in the country to get the beef on Saturday morning. I'd be driving this donkey to a regular size buggy. My two brothers and I'd be riding in the buggy. Tom Clanton's father belonged to the beef club. He'd catch us out there at the edge of town and say, "Come on, boys. Let's go to the beef club." He'd be cantering his pony, and that donkey would try to keep up. And we'd go get the beef.
We had a butcher, a man who knew how to cut it up. He'd cut it up and divide it. Everybody got their part and took it home. We'd have fresh steak for supper that night. Had to beat it with a steak hammer. You never tasted better beef than we had back in those days even if it was fresh beef.
DC: You'd take time about taking a beef to be slaughtered?
WGC: Yeah, everybody would take a beef. One a week was all we'd take. The secretary'd let you know when your time came. You'd take your beef the next Saturday. This man who was secretary was a pretty smart man. He had a good education. He kept the records. I think there were 12 who belonged to it. We'd have fresh beef for 12 weeks.

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