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

By A.L. Nimmo
Contributed by Freddy Brown
Retyped for the page by Sherry Falcon
1998

Part Three

The harvesting and threshing of grain went thru several phases. The first harvesting or grain cutting instruments were scythes and cradles. Cradles consisted of a long blade perhaps 31/2 feet long fixed to a handle, called a snathe or sneed. With the side of the blade were 4 or 5 wooden fingers about the length of the blade. When the blade was thrown into the wheat the fingers collected the cut stalks. With the left hand these collected stalks were taken and dropped in piles to be tied into bundles. Then is was usually set up in shocks of one dozen bundles. Threshing was done by beating piles of wheat with flails. Then the straw was thrown out, and the grain dropped a few feet for wind to separate the chaff. In sight of this club house to the north west near the Old Mandy KEEN Cemetery stood a large barn when I was a boy. It was known, as the old Grainery Barn. It could be seen for some distance as it was on a rise. I was told that for years people would carry wheat or oats there on a tight floor tramp the grain loose from the straw and chaff with horses or cattle. Straw would be thrown off and the grain poured out in the wind to get out the chaff. I believe Sam BEASLEY had the first thresher among us. It was powered by four teams hitched to four sweeps out from the power device. A driver stood on a platform in the middle to keep the teams stepping. Power was transmitted to the thresher by a jointed steel rod with a cogwheel geared into the threshing machine. The next power used by them was a steam engine pulled around the country by teams. Then the BEASLEYS and Jim GREGORY and Haul GREGORY used a steam tractor for power. I remember seeing one tread wheel powered small outfit at Dr. DURHAMS. Two horses on a tread mill powered it. I think it was called a ground hog thresher. In my early years binders drawn by teams were used. It seems that nearly all farmers now use gasoline tractors on their farms. Once nearly all farms had a brood mare or two. Stock for breeding purposes were kept by Dave GILLIAM, Frank DOSS, W. G. DOSS and it was a common sight to see baby colts at most farms. Paul DOTSON in Westmoreland was one of the last breeders. Bob THORNTON and Sign AKINS at Westmoreland and Siloam kept breeding stock once. The old fashioned colt show in the fall always was well attended.
In the early days corn and other grains were planted by hand. Sometimes corn fields were laid off both ways and the corn dropped in checks. This enabled the farmer to cultivate two ways thus keeping the crop freer of grass and weeds. Corn drills and wheat drills came here in my day.
Cooking in the olden days was done over fire places in pots, skillets, etc., A large skillet with an iron cover was common when I was a boy. In these skillets bread could be baked, sweet potatoes roasted and meat cooked. I have seen live coals raked onto the hearth potatoes or break put in, the lid put on and then coals heaped on top of the lid. Soon it was finished.
Ever hear of a johnny cake board? This was a board about 1-1/2 or two feet long, 8 or 10 inches wide, dressed on both sides. Usually hard oak. On this board, dough was placed and baked before a hot fire. It had to lean slightly to keep the dough in place. My father once made a board for us to see how it worked. An early device for roasting meat over the fire place was a spit. I understand this was an iron rod with a crank on one end and hung at the corner of the fire place. With this device a roast could be turned about a hot fire until cooked properly. A slave called a turn spit used to operate it. Since the coming of electricity much of the drudgery of fire building and cleaning out ashes, etc., is eliminated. Some of our neighbors perhaps cook with gas. This also is much less trouble than wood stoves. What a god-send all the automatic washers have been. A big wash pot out doors was frequently used to boil the wash and tubs on benches out doors were used to wash in with a wash board with corrugations to rub them on. Vacuum Sweepers are replacing the old broom, Broom Corn was often grown in a row in the corn field. People used to say they could tell which was boss in the home by where this row of broom-corn was located. I have tied brooms.
One commodity once common in the stores here is never seen anymore. I remember and refer to sole leather that once came to the stores in half a hide pieces. Later it was sold in half sole size pieces. Wooden lasts were once seen in every home. For a long time wooden shoe pegs could be bought. A pegging awl was used to make holes in the soles and shoe bottoms to which they were being pegged. The wooden pegs were driven in and clenched on the wooden last in the shoe. Later metal springs and iron lasts were brought in and every family did their own cobbling. Now if we mend shoes they're carried to an expert with suitable machinery to do that job. These fellows make them look like new.
It might be of interest to some to know a survey was made down this ridge for the location of the railroad. My father once showed me some large trees just south of our house on the edge of the road that had marks he said were hacked by the engineers that surveyed the route. He said it was considered best to locate it near the old turn pike for certain reasons. A survey locating a new road has been completed from the head of Garretts Creek to its mouth. This will be a modern road. It is expected that this new road will be constructed shortly. Our black topped road by here is just 6 or 8 years old. This year is 1962. Did you ever see a side saddle on which women used to ride? I am sure there are many hanging out of sight in barns and attics yet. The first ladies to use two stirrups publicly, I believe, were guests of Epperson Springs. A few of them rode astride along this road once shocking many of our dear old mothers and aunts. Not long after this women here began to use two stirrups. When I was a boy, women and girls were not supposed to wear trousers. If company came while a girl or woman was wearing breeches, she would run and hide and send for her dress.
Back to side saddle days, at every public place to which ladies rode horseback was a stile for them to mount and dismount on. Usually the riders wore a black riding skirt which came below the feet when riding to protect her clothing from sweat and hairs from her horse. There were stiles at every public place for the women to mount and dismount. The riding skirts were usually left on the saddle until returning. Buggies which began to appear here about 1904 and two horse surreys nearly put an end to horseback riding to church and other places. Dr. DURHAM had the first buggy on this ridge, Dr. WILSON had one of the first. One Crittel JENT who lived in Westmoreland says he had the first bicycle hereabouts. This man was the first in our district to own an automobile. It was a two-seater with no top. JENT now lives in Nashville the first to drive an automobile along this road was a lumber dealer from Scottsville, Kentucky, named John BOYD. That was in April, 1905. The automobile is about 60 years old and the airplanes a year or two younger. So man has moved at speeds from 20 miles an hour in 1900 to 16,000 miles an hour in 1962. See if you can imagine things that might come to pass in the next 100 or 1,000 years. I believe that wars will cease and the energies of scientists will be directed toward bringing heaven to earth instead of hell, and this age will go down in History as a time people tried to settle their differences with force.
Not so many slaves were owned among our pioneer families as were owned in the country below the ridge. A Negro settlement where Douglas GREGORY, Jesse FOSTER and Clifford CARTER lives was the only one beside a family or two elsewhere. An old gigantic negro named Pete HAWKINS once lived about the place owned by Garlan BURNELY. He had a son called Ki PETE. Old Aunt Daffny HAWKINS lived in different cabins hereabouts. One was near Clarence WILLIAMS. This old woman died on the farm of Robert HARRIS in Phillips Hollow. She cared for him when his mother died and left a tiny baby. So he cared for her in her feeble old age. Other families of colored people were Old Jim FOSTER, Jesse FOSTER, Bill CARTER and Aunt Jane who told fortunes for the youngsters. Also Ewing FOSTER. He built a house where Clifford CARTER now lives. Everyone who knew them spoke highly of them all. They once had a church on the farm of Douglas GREGORY. There is a cemetery near the site of that church where several are buried. They moved away to Scottsville or other places where better schools and churches for them.
Near the first of this century in 1906 a telephone system was begun. S. W. BROWN and Charlie CALDWELL, perhaps others put in a switch board in Westmoreland. They proposed that neighbors out the various roads form companies of five or six and erect single circuit lines to the edge of town. They would erect lines from the switch board to meet them. Soon many such companies were formed. The switch board owners charged a monthly fee to connect the lines when we called thru the switch board. This lasted a few years when some of the box holders convinced others we could operate our own switch board cheaper. So a mutual was formed and bought out the switchboard owners. Now a mutual non-profit company is the sorriest of all business plans. This soon went under. It never was properly financed or directed. A short while back our present system was developed here. Financed in a way similar to our Electric lines.
A year or two before the telephone system began, rural free delivery of mail began. Charlie CALDWELL and S. W. BROWN carried mail on the first of these. There are now four carriers from Westmoreland, Tennessee. The first carriers went in buggies or in specially made mail wagons. After roads were improved, they carried their mail in cars. Before rural routes we had a post office here at Pleasant Grove called Trammel. There was one near Lee HANES place called Barefoot. One at Long Creek. One at Turners Station called A. B. C. The mail was delivered to the offices not on the railroad about three days a week by one Ben CLIBURN. He drove a two wheeled cart, drawn by a rabbit jawed mule. Rain or shine, he would deliver the mail. The offices here was once kept at Henry RHODES store where Mr. COKER now lives. Later where Johnny CREASY lives and last where Crash BROWN lives. This Henry RHODES used to drive a market wagon to collect produce and deliver many things people wanted. Other men driving market wagons were George JENT, Wilson CLIBURN, yet living. An old man named PEARSON also collected marketing and delivered certain goods people would order. My mother ordered a dinner bell by PEARSON. This old bell is now owned by Oder MEADOR. Who owns my old home place. These market men would drive to Nashville occasionally to carry their produce. They would take orders from neighbors for things hard to get close by. Some of these fellows had bugles or bells to announce their coming.
Churches were organized at Garretts Creek and Pleasant Grove many years ago. I do not know exactly when a church was started at Garretts Creek. But the Methodist Church at Pleasant Grove was built in 1873, on land sold to them by my grandfather William CULWELL for ten dollars. The Baptist Church here was built shortly afterward on land given the community by one William BLAKEMORE, in 1844. 118 years ago. This land had a building with a fire place and chimney. It was used for school and church purposes. It was called Bethpier at that time. BLAKEMORE deeded this house and four acres of land to three trustees, Steven Rice GILLIAM, mentioned before in this story, Mastin KEEN, the father of Charlie and Roy KEEN, Mrs. John BEASLEY, Mrs. J. H.WILLIAMS, and Dance BROWN, mentioned before in this story. And to their successors in office. I maintain that our cemetery directors are the successory to those trustees as they are elected by the people. Little is known of Mr. BLAKEMORE. There is a copy of that old deed in our cemetery records. A cemetery was started near the Methodist Church in 1873. The first grave was for a little boy of a teacher named EVERETT. A tombstone stands at his grave today. An organization for the purpose of improving and maintaining the grounds was organized in the 1920's. Seven directors elected by the members have direction of the work. It has been quite easy to finance the work so far.
Protracted meetings 2 weeks or more have been held at the churches here and at Garretts Creek in the past. These revival times offered occasion for much social contact. Young men and girls often went together to these meetings. Many marriages resulted.
The first schools were private or subscription schools. Sometimes taught at some home. My mother told of going to school to a Mr. STINSON in a building located west of Odo RHODES home on land now belonging to E. L. MOORE. I have in my possession a small book that teacher gave her. An old road once went back between RHODES and MOORE to the pike. A voting precinct was near the old Mal SLATEN home near the railroad. Voters close here used to follow that old road to the voting precinct. That road has been abandoned for years but can easily be traced yet. I have no information when the first free school was opened here and at Garretts Creek. It must have been in the 1880's. This club house was erected in 1923 and abandoned for school purposes about 4 or 5 years ago. It is now the property of the people. The deed to it is made to three trustees for the community. They are Odo RHODES, Benton GREEN and J. R. MORRIS. Successors to these are to be elected by the Community Club members. It is required of us to keep the building and premises in good order. These we have done so far. Transportation of pupils by bus has made it possible to centralize our schools. There are now two fine buildings in Westmoreland where our elementary and high school children are sent. These schools have modern cafeterias where warm meals are served for a few cents. Also gymnasiums for physical training and play. These buildings are among the finest in the South.
Our communities have produced many preachers and teachers. Among the home grown ministers are C. N. SIMMONS, R. Y.HAWKINS, Billy BURNLEY, Zanny CARTER, Johnny L. CREASY, Ed MORRIS, Dock MEADOR, W. E. DOSS, Tom BROWN, A. J.GILLIAM, Ray GILLIAM, and Joe GILLIAM.
Some teachers from our communities are W. E. DOSS, J. R. DOSS, Knox DOSS once superintendent of Sumner County Schools, Dewey DOSS, Noah WILLIAMS, W. A. NIMMO, Laura NIMMO, Ed MORRIS, A. L. NIMMO, Martin DOSS, Sampson DOSS, Era GILLIAM, Ester Gilliam DOSS, Nellie Harris COOK, Willie Harris CLINE, Celia KEEN, Harry and Vernon LAW.
Members of the County Court from our part of the district were J. H. WILLIAMS, W. R. BROWN, S. W. BROWN, C. A. WOODWARD, and A. L. NIMMO, Floyd GREGORY, Virgil KEEN, S. R. GILLIAM, Bennet GILLIAM and their brother Johnny taught singing schools in most of the near by communities. These courses usually lasted only a few weeks.



Go to Pleasant Grove and Garrett's Creek--Part One

Go to Pleasant Grove and Garrett's Creek--Part Two

Go to Pleasant Grove and Garrett's Creek--Part Four

Return to Sumner County, TN Communities Page

Return to Sumner County, TN Main Page