Memories of Oak Grove

Part Six:
The Blacksmiths and the Grist Mill, The Carpenters,
The Doctors, Roadwork, Recreation, Health, etc.,
The Little Book, A Special Place

by Goldman Dewitt Freeland
Reprinted with permission.

The Blacksmith and the Grist Mill

In Oak Grove we also had blacksmiths, carpenters, and grist mill operators. I remember the blacksmith shop we had where you would walk in and see the big anvil. You would see the hand blower you turned by crank that blew the coal cinders to cause it to blaze up, heating the horseshoes to be properly formed or the iron from which they made tires for wagons and buggies. They even made some plows, and many other things. A lot of things went on in the blacksmith shop other than shoeing horses.

In this one blacksmith shop was a big area where they also had a grist mill. They had a gasoline engine that operated the grist mill by a long belt running from the gasoline engine back to the grist mill. The grist mill operator put the corn in a large hopper above. It was fed down to the grinders grinding the corn into meal to be used to make cornbread at home.

Now the same man that operated the blacksmith shop also operated the grist mill. The thing about this that stays in my memory, because it bothered me at the time, was the unsanitary conditions existing. Naturally the man's hand would be black and dirty from his work yet he would come back and take his dirty hand and check the texture of the meal being ground. Sometimes he would adjust the grinders.

Now for his effort at the mill he took a "toll", a portion of the corn that we brought in for him to grind. He took his "toll", ground it into meal, put it in brown paper sacks and sold it. Of course, you carried your portion home. The people liked his grist mill meal better than store-bought meal, so he had no problem selling it.

The people who were involved in that activity were Esco Hinton and Andy Simpson.

The Carpenters

Joe Brown and Esco Hinton were two of the better carpenters in that period of time, building homes and churches.

The Doctors

At one time, I have stated, we had two doctors in Oak Grove. Dr. Walden lived and operated from Crossroads up towards Westmoreland from Oak Grove. Dr. Hunt lived and operated from his house on the Brackentown Road just off Highway 52 as we know it today. You either went to them or they came to you depending on how sick you were. They mixed their own medicine.

They, like doctors today, spent a lot of time, day and night, attending sick people and because of that, they would go to sleep coming back home in the buggy. The horses were trained, at least I know Dr. Hunt's horse was trained, to bring the doctor home. Sometimes he would be asleep and there were those who thought he might be a little intoxicated, but anyway, he was taken out of his buggy and put to bed at home. Those were the doctors in the early days as I remember.

My first recollection of anything was of going to visit Dr. Walden in the buggy, sitting between my mother and dad and fussing because they were keeping my head covered up with a lap rug that they had in the buggy. I wanted to get my head out.


One of the other subjects I'd like to cover comes from a little book I have called "Roadwork" dated 1919. It's the law of the roadwork in Sumner County at that time.

The book says that every adult male outside of an incorporated town will spend a number of days graveling the road - hauling gravel or handling gravel or shoveling gravel from creek beds onto the country roads.

At the time that I remember, if you furnished a wagon and team and yourself, three ten hour days was the requirement. If you worked without wagon and team you spent 6-7 days. Sometimes people who didn't want to work on the road would hire people to work in their place. But every person, I believe, 18 years and above, or maybe 21, had to put in this time and it specified 10 hour days.

The wagon bed that was used to haul gravel had a floor made up of loose 2 x 4's. The middle 2 x 4 was the longest. After your wagon was filled with a certain amount of gravel, you brought your team, the wagon and the gravel out onto the country road. You started with the longest 2 x 4 pulling it up and shaking it. The gravel came down on the road. You did each one of the 2 x 4's the same until your wagon was unloaded.


For recreation in the Oak Grove area we had horseshoes, checkers, baseball and yes, even basketball at the school court. The kids had "drop the handkerchief", "red rover comes over", "kick the can", "hide and seek", "anti-over", "leap frog", mumbley-peg", "roll the wheel", and other games.

I don't know what the correct name for the sport was but we would take a stiff wire or a stick formed in such a manner it could be used to roll a wheel. The wheel usually was off a hub of a large wagon wheel used in the country. Sometimes the wheels were much larger. We rolled those wheels all over the country and we got pretty good at it. We rolled automobile tires by hand also.

Homemade wooden wagons and store bought wagons were used for sport as well as at work. Not many bicycles were seen at Oak Grove in my time because we could not afford them.


One of the things you usually associate with country living in Oak Grove was the outhouse or privy. In the early days you built one to specifications (one holer or two holer). All outhouses had the lower back part of the building open. However, in the early thirties, a regulation (county, state or federal) came out requiring all privies to be centered over a dug out pit. This was an early attempt for more healthy conditions.

Another thing in the area of health was candling eggs - looking at the eggs through a light installed in a box. The light came on as you pressed the eggs with an egg-sized hole. You could see if the eggs were good or bad.

A scare of Tuberculosis from milk caused all milking cows to be given TB shots in the early thirties. This was a considerable task. Modified pure food laws were passed in the early thirties requiring special screened-in areas for testing cream and special buckets required for transporting it to the store to sell. The state or federal inspector dumped one Saturday's total take of cream because Daddy told me to take in a widow woman's cream that was in a bucket unacceptable by law. The inspector came by at the wrong time. We gradually began to see the benefit of these laws.

The Little Book

I'm proud of a little book used by my granny during the period of 1865 according to the dates in the book. It's a little book, the type some of us once had, a memorandum book or whatever you chose to call it. You remember school kids had others to write in it "roses are red, violets are blue..." that sort of thing. In the book of Granny's there are a number of poems and sweetheart statements. Two of the poems extracted from that book I want to share with you. The first:

My heart to you is given,
Now you give yours to me,
We will lock them up together
and throw away the key.

Another one was:

You may meet with fairer faces,
They may tell you I'm not true.
Don't believe them, Little Darling.
No one loves you like I do.

A Special Place

I believe Oak Grove children during my childhood had the very best environment for growing up trouble-free. The contributing factors to this good environment were good parents and grandparents, the church - its people and their influence, the schools - good teachers you loved and respected, and this Christian influence, neighbors and neighborhood adults who had children's interest at heart and demonstrated it through show and tell. Above all by they way most of them influenced us by the example they set.

One of these people was the young barber I have previously mentioned, Morphew "Doug" Douglas. Doug was a few years older than I and even older than several teen and pre-teen boys that loved to hang around his shop. The friendly lectures given with a sincere smile did wonders in shaping the lives of the young boys because of the respect they had for him. He would loan boys money and taught the importance of paying it back. he kept up with their activities and warned of consequences of certain things they did. No trained counselor could have done better.

I might be able to go on for another period of time about my memories. Some of this may be of use to you, I guess. You can take whatever you want and use it in whatever way you want. I did not intend for this to be so lengthy, but I thank you for the opportunity for looking-up and thinking about these days and putting it on paper. Thank you.

Part One: Preface, Forward, Oak Grove - Incorporated, and Growing Up

Part Two: The Sherrons, The Freelands, The Angleas, and The Others

Part Three: Living and Working

Part Four: The Church and The Cemetery

Part Five: The Schools, The Stores, and The Garage

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