People and Events in the History of Pleasant Grove and Garretts Creek Communities- Part Two

By A. L. Nimmo
Contributed by Freddy Brown
Retyped for the page by Diane Payne and Danene Vincent

Part Two

The first families produced much of what they ate and wore. Grain of several kinds and vegetables were stored for winter. Clothes were made at home of cotton, wool, and flax. Cotton patches were common. Seeds were separated from the fiber by hand or small improvised gins. I remember seeing one old hand powered gin near Liberty. Cards were used to form the lint into rolls to spin or bats to put in quilts. These cards looked somewhat like a curry comb. One side had limber metal teeth sloping the same way and were pushed and pulled against each other to shape the cotton.
Linen cloth was made in some homes of flax. The bark of the flax plant was used to make cloth. The plants were pulled up, put in piles to partly rot. When the bark was somewhat loose, the plants were taken to a machine called a flax break. This machine resembled a carpenter work horse. It had two legs at each end with four or five slats one or more inches apart on top edge up. The upper edge of these slats were trimmed to an edge. Another part with slats of the same length was so arranged as to fall into the grooves between the ones on the bench. The flax would be placed across the bench and the other part caused to fall on it, thus breaking the woody stems. The bard did not break. This bark was next whipped over a flax hackle. This machine looked like a board about 18 inches long and 6 inches wide with spikes driven close thru it. Thus, the fiber became fine as hair or wool. It was then spun on a flax wheel and woven into cloth. Sheep wool was perhaps more commonly used than either cotton or flax. When I was a boy my mother would clip wool from the sheep my twin brother and I would catch and hold it for her. This wool would be cleared of burrs and other impurities, washed and carried to Scottsville and made into rolls about 2 feet long. This she would spin into thread. Then sometimes doubled and twisted the thread. Then knit socks and stockings or weave it into blankets. Other families did these things. The home-grown cotton was spun and woven. All sorts of fruit trees were brought by the settlers and soon fruit of several kinds became plentiful.
For many years, in fact until 1900 or soon thereafter, crops were fenced and stock turned outside. I remember candidates for the State Legislature meeting at Pleasant Grove and Garretts Creek and debating whether a stock law requiring stock to be confined and kept on the land of their owners, should be passed. Fences were made of rails split by malls, wedges, and gluts. Many of us have seen fences made of palings rived as boards with a froe. These palings were nailed to wooden runners nailed to posts at first. Later wire was used to hold the palings. In my life time woven wire fences and barbed wire appeared. And at present, we see many neighbors using electrically charged wires to confine the cattle and other animals.
In the years 1870's soon after the Civil War the C & R Railroad was built thru our district. This put an end to the old stage coach passenger and baggage service. The stage coaches operated on the pike from points from Kentucky to Nashville. A relay station where fresh horses were put in was located near the Ed WILKERSON place at the old Rock House Corner. Here was STALEYS tanyard I mentioned before. I do not know how often the coach ran, but assume two or three times a week if not daily.
On the completion of the railroad, times began to improve for many. It created a demand for timber, such as lumber, cord wood and crossties. For many years most families would cut cord wood, ? ties to deliver to the railroad. With the money, clothes and other supplies wold be bought for winter. For a long time people would buy flour by the barrel, salt by the barrel. Bolts of cloth, such as jeans and domestic. Clothes and under clothes were made at home. My mother and others had patterns by which pants, coats and vests could be cut out and made at home. The first pants I wore were made of jeans lines with brown domestic. She made father a complete suit. Other families did likewise.
Speaking of cord wood and ties, I have seen them stacked near the switch track at Turners Station and Westmoreland in large ricks and piles, waiting to be shipped. One Charlie RIPPY and Jim GAMMONS who died lately at Lawrence WOODWARDS used to earn a living by loading cars at Turners Station.
The commercial growing of tobacco began on a wide scale hereabout around 1900. At first dark cured one sucker was produced. Later barley began to be grown. My brother-in-law Bledsow HARRIS raised the first crop on our farm. That was in 1902. This tobacco was sold to a buyer in Franklin, Kentucky and was delivered there. This crop bought an average of 5 cents. HARRIS thought this was a good price, and I remember he said he would bind himself to raise a few years at that price. At the beginning, buyers would come to the barns on the farms and bargain for it. Later sale floors were put up in several nearby towns. There the tobacco was delivered, graded and sold at an auction.
Another form of marketing that has passed is the sale of livestock. Before improved roads and the coming of trucks a few sets of buyers of livestock would ride horse back thru the community buying up any and all calves, colts, or other livestock. Among these buyers were John and Tandy DUNCAN near Bransford. Also, Jim TROUTT and Bud TROUTT at Liberty. Sally LIPSCOMB and Jack FITZPATRICK sometimes came as agents for buyers south of the ridge. They would buy several animals, then get them together and drive them a foot to their own places. Then perhaps later drive them to market. With the development of roads and the coming of trucks animals such as cattle or hogs can be carried to auctions in near by towns or to Nashville. Milk hauling trucks now collect much milk in our communities. The broiler chicken growing on a big scale was begun here by Aubrey CREASY a short while ago. Laying flocks numbering thousands have been developed.
Our first roads were nothing to compare with those of the present. Until I had a family of my own, the roads were worked by people, that is men between 21 and 50 years of age. Picks and shovels were furnished by the county. Sometimes a horse drawn sort of grader could be had. Every man of the age names was required to put in five days a year and every team owner was required to use his team and wagon. Rock was hauled from the branches and wherever they could be found to fill up the mudholes of the winter before. Needless to say little lasting good was seen. Next year it was all to do over. With the advent of the automobile, better roads began to be seen. A different plan of paying for the work appeared, taxes were levied on gasoline, license fees for cars and trucks were required. Better machinery was acquired. Now we have a much easier way to get around or to haul heavy loads.
The first automobile to use Pleasant Grove road was driven from Westmoreland in April 1905. Mr. John BOYD, a lumber dealer of Scottsville owned it. Crittel JENT owned the first one in our district. He says he brought the first bicycle to Westmoreland. Old Dr. DURHAM brought the first buggy to this neighborhood. The first automobiles in Scottsville were owned by some doctors and a banker name Garlan BRASWELL. That was about 1906.

About 1896 the first talking machine came to this district. It was owned by Mr. Billie HARRIS who lived where Paul DOTSON lives in this side of Westmoreland. He ran a general store where the Christian Church now stands in Westmoreland. Only two could listen at a time with tubes to their ears. Among his records were short speeches by William MCKINLEY and William J. BRYAN in their campaign for president in 1895 or 96. They talked about the gold standard and free silver 16 to 1. Not long after 1900 a Mr. LYLES bought a victor machine and records. He gave programs with it at many school houses for pay. I went to Gumwood School House to hear it. I paid 10 cents and got the biggest dimes worth of entertainment I ever had before or since. This machine had a loud speaker and could be heard all over the room.
Radios came into the community in the 1920's. One Bill MURRAY, son of the Murray that once managed the Epperson Springs had it in an old building that stood in Westmoreland where the new telephone building now stands. This club house was built for school purposes in 1923. Not long after it was built a Mr. CROKKER of Franklin, Kentucky sold the school a piano. He got it paid for partly by brining a battery radio here and giving a radio program. Many neighbors heard radio for the first time that night. Many battery operated sets soon came in here.
Perhaps the most revolutionary service to our community was the building of Electric Power Lines. No doubt this changed more living conditions than almost any other change had done Better lights, refrigerators, vacuum sweepers, electric radios, and lasts of all wonders, television. By television a whisper and on the other side of the world can be heard. Now we can see on the other side of the mountain. And wonder of wonders by the last satellite, Tell Star, we can see and hear things going on beyond the stars. The electric lines were begun in the 1930's.
Somewhere about the year 1912 to 1916 fly screens for windows and doors appeared. Many of us recall that mother sent to a peach tree or some other and secured a leafy switch with which someone kept flies back while we ate. I remember a few fly minders fixed to the ceiling about the bable and operated with a string to some ones foot. It was hard for a busy mother to keep flies off the sleeping baby. Typhoid fever was spread by flies. As were some other maladies. We older ones have attended several funerals of typhoid victims. The last of these were years ago. Thanks to our efficient health department, that typhoid killer seems to be about stamped out. We can now get immunity by vaccinations for that and other catching diseased.
It might be of interest to some to review the kinds of lighting devices that were used before electricity. Grease lamps and candle were used by many. My Aunt Julia RHODES had in her keep sakes an old grease lamp that she said was called a sinner. It consisted of a small metal pan like bowl with a spout extension on one side and a handle riveted to one side. This handle had a right angle turn about 1 inch long. This could be stuck into the mortar of the fire place jamb or attached to the wall. A cloth wick lay in the grease and extended over the spout a short way. This wick was lighted when it was wanted. Home made candles usually made of beef or mutton tallow were more common. A set of candle molds looked like a small pan with tin tubes attached to its bottom. A wick would be arranged length wise thru these tubes. Then melted tallow was poured into the molds and allowed to cool until hardened. In use they stood in candle holders of various design. Torches of scaly bark from hickory trees was sometimes used for door purposes. After these came the kerosene lamps and lanterns of which even our youngest know. Battery operated flash lights make it easy and safer to carry light about where necessary.
An art once common until somewhat lately was the making of soap. Scraps of waste meat, skins and bones, etc., were saved for soap grease. An ash hopper in which to store wood ashes from the cook stoves and fire places was built near the house. This was kept covered to keep out water. Usually in the spring water would be poured on top of these ashes, a few buckets at a time. As the water soaked to the bottom it was caught in iron pots. This lye was rich in potash. To make the potash stronger, it was boiled down to less quantities. My mother used to test its strength by dipping a long feather into it when cool. If the fronds of the feather slipped off easily she considered it ready to make soap. Into this lye the soap grease was put, then boiled until it was well eaten. The residue if any was strained out. Often this soft soap was stored in dug out wooden troughs. Later potash could be bought in the stores in cans. It was called concentrated lye. Receipts for solid soap were passed around a better grade soap was made for a time. Very few, if any, make soap at home any more.
Lye hominy was once common. To make this, corn, shelled, would be boiled with wood ashes until the bran would slip off. Then the corn was well washed and boiled until tender. It was seasoned with grease and salt for serving. It would be hard to find enough wood ashes now to make soap or hominy. Most of us now use other fuel to cook and heat our homes. Coal, butane, gas, and electricity have chased away our wood fuel.
Reverting to the coming of the railroad and the demand for cord wood and timber. A few saw mills appeared. Carney CARTER operated on above Turners Station. W. G. DOSS one above Trammel Creek near Bare Foot. Sam BEASLEY one near Garretts Church. The NIMMOS operated at two different times on the NIMMO farm. All these mills had corn grinding mills that operated once a week usually on Saturdays. Corn would be carried horse back or by wagon to be ground into meal or stock feed. The NIMMOS operated a flour mill for some time following the Civil War on the Nimmo farm, the site now owned by Richard SIMMONS.
David GAINES operated a water mill near Pleasant Grove between this place and Blonville WILLIAMS on Garretts Creek. G. W. NIMMO later, in 1878 to 1908 operated a water mill 1/4 mile above the old Gaines mill. A water mill once operated between Gumwood and Epperson Springs. It was run by an old man named GAMMONS. This mill was in operation as late as 1900. John GIFFORD and Mort BRANSFORD bought the old mill my father built and moved it to the site of the old Gammons mill. I am sure this was the last water mill operated near us. Flour mills appeared at New Roe, Kentucky, Scottsville, Kentucky, and Franklin, Kentucky. Farmers here patronized these. For a few years Clay LAW and others ran a flour mill in Westmoreland. A bushel of high testing wheat would be exchanged for 34 & 36 lbs. of flour and 10 lbs. of bran. What stores outside Westmoreland that our neighbors patronized were general stores. Among those owners were George W. FOLLIS and Baily BANDY and later Charlie UPTON at Bare Foot. Joe SIMMONS at Gumwood. Later Joe CLINE and sons were there. Rev Cyrus SIMMONS had a store where Charles SIMMONS now lives. Mr. S. R. GILLIAM once ran a general store here at Pleasant Grove. Before 1895 Henry RHODES also had a store here by this club house. He once owned the ground on which our Club house stands. Many traders at Turners Station. Frank LINK was the most important merchant there for a long period. Our older folks sold or traded him much cord wood, ties and lumber. Cord Wood was cut 4 feet long and split small enough for one man to handle easily. A rick 8 by 4 by 4 foot made a cord, one-half cord to a cord could be hauled with a strong team. The highest price I remember for cord wood was bout $1.50 to $1.75 a cord. This was a better price than it sounds tho as prices of other things to buy were much lower. Cross ties were 81/2 feet long by 10 inches by 7 or 8 inches. They were hewed most of the time by men using saws, axes and broad axes. Two men working together could make from 20 to 30 ties a day, owing to the timber. With a chopping ax they could score or slab off to a line as nearly as possible. Then with a broad ax with a blade the cutting edge was perhaps 10 or 12 inches long, they would hew the sides smooth. I believe that Elwood GILLIAM, grandson of our pioneer, Steven RICE, whom I have already stated is buried on the Odo RHODES farm, was the last great artist with chopping ax and broad ax. For several years after 1900, the tie makers would make ties and get 10 cents for each one. They would or could be sold at the railroad for 25 cents each.
In the first of the 1890's a stave mill owned by BERRY and PITCHFORD of Scottsville was operated on Trammel Creek near the home of Jim ALEXANDER. Many of our fathers sold this company the buts of white oaks for what they considered a big price then. The upper logs from these trees were sawed into 14 foot dummy ties 14 by 7 in by 5 inches. They were used in cities to build street railroads. A panic came in 1892 and it was hard to get enough money to pay mill hands. If that white oak were standing today, it would sell for thousands more than then. I have seen an acre or more, I believe covered with square stacks of the staves ricked where Mrs. Laura GILLIAM and Eugene KEEN now live. Seasoning before being shipped away to be made into whiskey barrels.
A demand for chestnut telephone poles developed about 1904. Many of them were sold hereabouts. The bark was removed before delivery. I saw much of the north end of Westmoreland covered with them waiting for cars to carry them away. A Mr. BLOODWORTH and Frank LINK, a merchant at Turners Station were the principal dealers in them.
In the first of the 1920's strawberry growing began in these communities.
An association was organized here with Charles O'MEARA president, this association sent Young COATS and myself to Portland to contract for thousands of plants. One Owen GARRETT near Mitchellsville sold to us and delivered the plants to Westmoreland.
And organization for selling green wrapped tomatoes was organized about 1930. This venture did not prove profitable.
Peach growing on a commercial scale was attempted about or near the same time. Several neighbors set two acres or more. This venture failed as they were not a very sure crop. We mentioned the death of Jim GREGORY by a stroke of lightening as he was cultivating one of these orchards. Perhaps the last crop to be tried hereabouts is cucumbers. They have been grown for the last two or three years. Some growers have done pretty well with them. A grader was brought to Westmoreland that grades them according to size. This market was alive the year, 1962.
Long ago some people named EPPERSON operated an Ax handle factory just about Old Gumwood School House. These handles were turned roughly then shipped somewhere else to be made smooth. When I was a boy old cull handles could be picked up there, and old saw dust piles were still to be seen. That must have been back in the 1870's or the 1880's. It was told to me that many of the neighbors here sold hickory timber there.

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