story of a woman's life in the
"Good Ole Days"
This family only lived in Grayson
County for about 3 or 4 years (about 1872 to 1876)... It's an interesting
story, though. [Her] mother, Margaret Jeffcoat, had first married
a Jeffcoat cousin who was killed in the Civil War. After the war
she married again to my great-great-grandfather, Lawson Sellers, and he
died of cholera in 1873 (in Grayson Co.). So, Margaret and her children
all packed up and moved with the 2 older married daughters (who married
the Arnold brothers), as the entire Arnold clan was moving first to Montague
County, and finally to Navarro County, where Margaret married for the 3rd
time to a mean old coot whom she eventually left! A third daughter
also married yet another Arnold brother while they were in Montague County.
My great-grandmother wrote her memoirs in her later years (she lived to
be 102), and they are quite fascinating...
NOTES ON MY LIFE
by Ida Kile
(as told to her daughter, Inez (Kile) Tate)
My mother was born in South Carolina near a little
town called Orangeburg, where her father owned slaves. Her maiden
name was Margaret Marcella Jeffcoat . When she was nine years old
her father moved to Alabama where she later married Samuel Jeffcoat .
He was her second cousin and her name remained unchanged. They had
five children, one of which died in childhood. Her name was Missouri.
The oldest was a boy named General , then three girls, Hasseltine
(Hassey for short), Louisa , and Martha . Mother?s husband died in
the Civil War in a Yankee prison camp in Illinois with two diseases at
the same time, measles and mumps, I believe. He came home once after
he went to war, but when he went back to fight again she never saw him
again. A cousin came home from the war and told her of her husband?s
death. She continued to farm her little farm and eked out a living
in spite of having everything taken away from her every time either of
the armies came through the country. All the food that she had would
be taken to feed the soldiers. After the war Papa came to the neighborhood
to teach school, and went to her house to see if she would send her children
to his school. It was customary in those days for a traveler to stop
on his horse, which was the customary way of traveling, and call from the
front gate. Most families had a good watch dog and it wasn?t safe
to go in at the gate and up to the front door. Someone would go out
to see what they wanted. Mama was in the back yard, so she looked
around the corner of the house to see what he wanted and he fell in love
with her at once. She sent two of her children to school to him.
Papa?s name was Lawson Harrison Sellers. He and
Mama were married and came to Texas to live because his people were moving
to Texas . She left her little farm for some relatives to sell for
her and she never received anything for it. If they sold it they
kept the money.
One of my earliest memories was of having a sore fingernail.
I pulled it off and wanted to go down to the smoke-house where my father
and mother were to tell my father about it, but I was afraid of a cow that
was somewhere around.
My father gave my mother a little pearl handled knife.
I wanted it to play with and Mama did not want me to have it. Papa
insisted that she give it to me, so she did. I took it outside and
stuck each blade in the wagon hub and broke every one of them off just
for pure meanness.
Osey , my brother two years older than I, were playing
in the chimney corners. I made my playhouse in one corner and he
made his in the other corner. I went around and looked at his playhouse
and it looked so much nicer than mine I wanted it. He gave it to
me and went to the other corner where I had been playing and built his
playhouse there. I went around and looked at his playhouse there
and it looked so much nicer than mine I wanted it and he wouldn?t give
it to me so I raised such a rumpus about it we had a fight over it.
Papa came out and gave me a spanking.
Mama bobbed my hair and dressed me in Osey?s clothes
and dressed Osey in my clothes and sent us to our grandma?s house and she
did not know us.
One day Mama, Hassey and I were down by the spring
and a little boy they called Frog, Frog Hargess, was fooling around acting
smart and fell in the spring and went under. Hassey stepped one foot
over on a rock in the spring and grabbed him when he came up. He
surely was a scared little boy.
Hassey had a boy friend by the name of Oliver Terrel.
He took pneumonia and while he was sick he sent word for Hassey to come
see him, he wanted to see her. But Papa wouldn?t let Hassey go see
him. The boy died.
One day Louisa was coming home from the spring and
Grandpa?s dog followed her home. His eyes looked so funny - they
were right green. When she got home she shut the door to keep him
out. Shortly after that he died of hydrophobia.
Grandma gave Papa a feather bed when he married.
When he took sick she had the feather bed put in a wagon and he was put
in the wagon on the feather bed and taken over to her house.
She never returned the feather bed and I think she used that way of getting
the feather bed back in her possession.
When Papa died Hassey had no shoes to wear to
the funeral so Mama let her wear her shoes and she, herself, wrapped her
feet in cloths and went to the funeral that way. I looked at her
feet and wondered why she had her feet wrapped that way. Some woman
who had plenty of money gave her money to buy her some shoes. At
the funeral Mama lifted me up so I could see my father.
Papa?s mother learned some way that he had twenty dollars
($20.00) in gold. She told him to give her the money and she would
keep it for his children. He gave it to her, but his children never
After Papa died Mama did some washing and some practical
nursing and some farming to make a living.
One day shortly after Papa died his single sister,
Aunt Emma, came over to see us. I was in the yard and Aunt Emma squatted
down by me and put her arms around me and talked to me. Aunt Emma
was sick at the time and she died shortly after that.
I always admired a big red apple; that is, red on one
side and peach colored on the other. One Christmas, probably the
next one after my father died my Uncle Jim (the husband of my father?s
sister, Palestine) gave me at least one apple and also gave Osey
one that were that kind of apple that I admired. I was so pleased
with it, thought it was so pretty. I do not remember if I received
any more apples or candy. Uncle Jim punched dents in the soot up
the chimney with the fire poker to make us believe Santa Claus had brought
the apples down the chimney.
At church one night (evening) someone else gave me
one of those pretty apples. On the way home I went to sleep in the
bed of the wagon. The endgate was out of the wagon and when I got
home my apple was gone. I was heartbroken.
One day I had been over to my grandmother?s and was
on my way home when I happened to turn around and there was Nigger George
right behind me. He said, ?I?ll get you.? It scared me so bad
I ran all the way home and ran in the house and under the quilt Mama and
my sisters were quilting and back against the wall behind Mama?s chair.
Mama had asked the Negro man to come over and chop down a tree and he was
on his way over there to chop down the tree when I saw him behind me.
He was in fun when he said what he did to me. After the tree was
cut down Mama and the girls chopped it up into wood to burn for cooking
and heating the house.
There was a wonderful spring not far from our house.
I was down there one day when Nigger Lucy was there washing. The
water looked so nice and cool bubbling over the rocks - I took off my shoes
and waded in it. That night I had a croup cough and Mama asked me
if I waded in the water that day. I said ?No.? When Nigger
Lucy was there later in the week Mama asked her if I waded in the water
and she said ?Yes.? So Mama sent me out for a switch with which to
switch me. I brought back such a tiny twig Mama wouldn?t accept it,
but sent me back for a better one. Mama accepted the next one and
switched me with it for not telling her the truth about wading in the water
at the spring.
I was at Mrs. Liza Hodge?s house and playing with Mrs.
Hodge?s little brother. He took his cap off and put it on my head
and kissed me. Mrs. Hodge saw him and laughed at him. He said,
?I don?t care, I?ll kiss her again, wouldn?t you, Billie?? Billie
was Mrs. Hodge?s husband. He said, ?Yes, I would, Alvin, I?d kiss
her again.? But I don?t remember whether he did.
I was always chattering when I was little. I
talked and I talked all the time. One day I was picking cotton along
with Liza Hodge and Liza said, ?Ida, I?ll give you a nickel if you will
keep quiet and not talk for five minutes.? I sat down on the ground
and tried hard to keep quiet. It probably had not been more than
a couple of minutes when I asked ?Are the five minutes up?? But I
got the nickel anyway.
My half sisters, Hassey, Louisa, and Martha all married
brothers, named Arnold. Hassey married the youngest one of the boys
whose name was Tom Arnold. She married when she was sixteen, and
I remember when she was married. I remember sitting on the side of
the bed beside her and when they were ready for the ceremony Hassey stood
up and stood right where she was for the ceremony. Louisa married
six months later and she was younger even than Hassey when she married.
She married Andy Arnold, the middle brother. They went off on horseback
in the rain to be married. Louisa was wearing a gray sunbonnet and
a black riding habit.
Mama wanted to buy a horse, so a horse trader brought
a black horse out to show to her. He put on Mama?s riding habit and
put her sidesaddle on the horse and rode the horse around and around on
the prairie in front of the house to show that he was gentle for a woman
to ride. The man?s name was Trueblood and he wore a stove-pipe hat.
Mama didn?t buy the horse. She wanted a gentle horse and Mr. Trueblood
kept trying to find her a gentle horse, so he brought out a white horse
and tried him out the same way with the sidesaddle and Mama?s riding habit.
The white horse was gentle, but he had been spoiled by the Indians and
when anyone put his feet in his flanks or pulled a pinch of hair on his
hips he would kick up his hind feet. Otherwise he was all right so
Mama bought him. One evening when Osey was about seven years old
Mama sent him after the cows on Old Charley, the name of the white horse.
He either pulled a pinch of hair on Charley?s hip or kicked him in the
flanks and Charley kicked up his hind feet and threw Osey off and trotted
on home. I was at Grandma?s when Osey came past walking home and
carrying handfuls of rocks. He was so mad he was going to pelt Charley
good with the rocks when he reached home. But Mama made him put the
rocks down without throwing them. The cows went on home ahead of
Charley. Charley was also balky and would hardly pull when the weather
Mr. Trueblood was a widower with two children and he
asked Mama to marry him, but she turned him down. She thought that
she would not marry any more, for she had been married twice.
There was a young doctor named Williams lived in the
town of Georgetown. He boarded with some people named Arm, and one
of the Arm girls, Lizzie, was crazy about him. However, he also proposed
to Mama, but she turned him down too. Lizzie Arm was very jealous
of Mama, but it is thought that she finally married the doctor.
Grandpa Arnold took a notion to move west so
he could have more grass for his stock. So Louisa and Hassey persuaded
Mama to go with them. So we all moved to Montague County, Texas.
There was a one-room house with a sideroom and a log cabin out to one side
away from the house. Andy and Louisa put up a tent and Mama and Martha,
Osey and myself lived in it. It was well built and warm and I do
not remember being cold in it, although it snowed a lot while we were in
it. Osey would catch birds, dress them and build a fire in front
of the tent and roast the birds over the fire, just to amuse himself.
The men started building houses for themselves. Andy, Tom and their
oldest brother Jim Arnold each built them a house around close together.
Mama, Osey and I lived with Andy and Louisa. Mama gave each of the
girls a cow when they married, and the boys trapped and caught prairie
chickens, doves, and rabbits for meat.
Will Arnold, next oldest of the Arnold boys, was a
widower, and the first thing we knew he and Martha were planning to marry.
They also went horseback to the preacher?s house to marry and Martha rode
Old Charley. She was about fourteen years old. Will put up
a tent beside Andy?s house and lived in it while he built him a house.
Then Mama, Osey and I lived with them part of the time.
Right after Will and Martha married a bunch of boys
came to charivari them. Andy heard them coming and was so mad about
it he yelled out to them that he was going to shoot them. Louisa
caught hold of him and held him to keep him from getting his gun, but when
the boys heard him say he was going to shoot they took off over the hills
on their horses with their buckets and tin pans as fast as they could go.
Louisa and Andy had only one room and no floor in their house. Before
Mollie was married and we were living with Louisa, Mollie had a tiny white
dog. One day when we were eating the little dog began yelping and
carrying on under the table. When we looked to see what was the matter
with the dog there was a snake under the table and it had bitten the dog.
Mama put kerosene on it and doctored it the best she could and it got all
One day Louisa was setting the table to eat and someone
spied a big yellow spotted snake crawling along the log just above the
table. I do not remember what they did about it.
When Will built his house he built two rooms, but they
were separate excepting the roof. One room had a floor, but the other
had no floor nor door. He killed a beef and hung it up in the room
that had no floor or door. A piece of tent hung over the door opening.
That night we heard the coyotes howling and knew what they were after,
so Will watched the door opening ready to shoot the first coyote that stuck
its head around the edge of that tent curtain. But none came, they
only howled from a safe distance.
One day the whole outfit, excepting Mama, Hassey and
I went up on the Red River to look for plums. When it began to get
late we got uneasy about them for fear the Indians got them and I watched
outside for them as long as I could see. We had no glass in our windows
only shutters which fastened on the inside. Our doors fastened with
a pin. The plum hunters didn?t come until the next afternoon and
they had tubs of plums.
The sage brush was as tall as I and when a fire got
started it went by leaps and bounds across that sagebrush. One day
a fire got started and Mollie?s little calf was out in the sagebrush.
The mother of the calf, seeing the blaze, seemed to know her calf was in
danger. She ran toward the blaze, her head lowered and lowing.
Grandpa Arnold ran out to the calf, picked it up, and ran around the blaze
and saved its life.
One day a neighbor, a Mrs. Hill, asked Mama to come
over and help her quilt. So one day Mama, Hassey and I started over
there. Mama saw something down ahead of us out to one side of the
road. It would stick its head up above the sagebrush, then get down
out of sight, and each time it stuck its head up it would be closer to
us. Finally Mama told us what she saw and said we had better go back
home for it might be something that would harm us. So we went back
and I ran just as fast as I could, I was so frightened. We never
found out what it was.
A short distance from where we lived there was thick
timber. One day I was in a little draw near our house and I saw a
deer across the draw from me. When I went in the house and told the
family about the deer they went to look for it, but it was gone.
It had darted back into the timber.
It was a beautiful sight to see herds of cattle going
past. The long line would be a mile or so long and every little distance
there would be two cowboys, one on each side of the herd. There were
two Cross Timbers in Texas, an Upper Cross Timber and a Lower Cross Timber.
We lived about a half mile from the Upper Cross Timber and these cattle
were headed south into this Cross Timber toward town.
Also long wagon trains passed piled high with dried
buffalo hides going toward town.
After a time Cassey was born, Louisa?s oldest child.
I thought she was wonderful. I would hold her and rock her.
I was about six years old. One day I was rocking the baby in a grown-up
straight chair and I rocked back too far and went over backwards.
I held the baby up in my arms and didn?t let her get hurt and everyone
thought it was wonderful that I took such good care of the baby and saw
to it that she wasn?t hurt.
The cattle ran all over the prairie in that part of
the country and the owners didn?t mind if the settlers took a cow and milked
her if they let the calf have plenty of milk. My folks took a cow
that way. One evening Andy and Mama were out milking the cows and
I was sitting in the door of the house. The bugs were flying around
thick, and one flew into my ear. I just had a fit - that bug crawling
farther and farther into my ear. It felt terrible wriggling around
in my ear. Louisa called Mama and she came and poured some milk mixed
with a little camphor into my ear. The bug stopped wriggling then.
The next day Mama took me to a doctor, and he said there was no way to
get the bug out of my ear. He said just to put oil in my ear and
the bug would rot and come out a bit at a time. So that was what
Grandpa Arnold took a notion to move again. I
had a little boy friend I hated to leave by the name of Allen Quillen.
As we left in the wagons, I sat in the back of a wagon feeling like I just
could not stand it to leave my little boy friend.
We came to a river north of Fort Worth and stayed all
night there. The next morning we had to ford the river. Mama
and Osey were on horses and the horses swam across. I was in a wagon
and I was so scared I tried not to look at the water, it looked so awful
to me. While we were crossing a man came down the hill on a white
horse and let it swim around in the river and drink all the water it wanted.
Then he rode up out of the water and rode off. There was a high bank
on the opposite side of the river which was very sandy and the horses had
a hard pull to get the wagons up that sandy bank. There were about
six wagons in the group. Grandpa Arnold had a sister living in Fort
Worth whom we stopped to see, then we kept going south to Summers Mill
Post Office in Navarro County. It was cotton picking time so we stopped
to pick cotton. We picked for a Mr. Wright and Al French and lived
in little log cabins. Mr. Wright had two log cabins where Tom and
Will Arnold lived and Mama, Osey and I lived with Will. Andy went
on nearer Summers Mill and lived in a two room log cabin with a hall between
the rooms. These halls were open at the ends - but they had a roof
over them, just as if they were another room in the house.
One day at school some boy that I didn?t know at the
time, but whom I knew well later on, made some remark about Uncle Dick
and the little widow, all the while looking at me laughing. By the
?little widow?, he meant my mother. I didn?t know Mr. Dick French
, this boy?s Uncle Dick, at the time and do not know whether he had gone
with Mama before that time or not.
One evening Mama was going to Summers Mill to prayer
meeting and Mr. French walked along with her and led his horse. I
was on the other side of Mama and Mama held my hand as we walked along.
One day I was sitting in the school room alone and
one of the big grown boys came in the room and as he passed me he leaned
over and kissed me. I was always afraid of him after that.
The school room was an old church with rough boards running up and down.
It had one door and about four windows. One night at prayer meeting
that big school boy was there and I was still afraid of him, even sitting
there with Mama.
Hassey gave me a big china doll, the first one I ever
had. I loved it and I took it to school with me. The teacher
took it away from me and it nearly broke my heart. The teacher said
he would as soon look at a dead person as at a doll. But he gave
it back to me when school was out.
It was customary then for a father to give his son
a horse, saddle and bridle when he became of age. Mr. French?s son,
Buck became of age and Mr. French gave him a beautiful dark bay horse.
One Sunday morning Mr. French came over and rode to church at Spring Hill
with Mama. She rode her own horse. The rest went in a wagon.
One evening Mr. French was at our cabin and he and
Mama were sitting in front of the fireplace. I was in bed asleep
and they wakened me laughing. I raised my head and looked to see
what the laughing was about and Mama was pushing his hands away from her
and both of them were laughing ?fit to kill themselves.?
One day Mama was washing a white dress she had made
and ironed it, getting ready to be married in it. Mr. French came
after her in a buggy one day in May and she took me with her. But
Mr. French would not let me sit in the middle, I had to sit on the outside
and Mama sat next to Mr. French. They went to the house of Mr. French?s
brother, Mose French, in Dresden, Texas. The preacher was there
and married them. Mr. French took Mama and me to his home where there
was a big crowd gathered, all strangers to me. I did not see much
of Mama and I was so heartsick I didn?t want to do anything, didn?t want
anything to eat. Mr. French?s youngest daughter tried to entertain
me, took me into the bedroom and showed me her things that Mr. French had
bought to eat. I remember one thing she showed me was loaf sugar,
also dried apples.
Photograph of Lafford B. French, Margaret's infamous third husband.
was a Sheriff of Navarro Co., Tx ( scroll a quarter way down on the
There was a long porch along the front of the house
the length of two rooms and a hall. Four big square pillars held
the porch up. They kept two buckets of water and a big white wash
bowl on a washstand on the porch. One day the youngest daughter,
Leora, and I went to the well after water almost a quarter of a mile from
the house. The water was drawn up with a windlass. We quarreled
about something. Leora filled the buckets and took her bucket to
the house, but I did not even look to see whether or not my bucket was
filled. I went to the house without my bucket. Mr. French asked
me why I didn?t bring the water, and then ?Wasn?t there any water in the
bucket?? I said I didn?t know, I didn?t look to see. Mr. French
said that I told him a story and he whipped me hard across the shoulders
with a big switch. It nearly broke my heart and hurt Mama.
He didn?t want me there, but he had to have me in order to get Mama.
One Sunday afternoon Mama and Mr. French went somewhere
and three young fellows came to see the older French girls. Edgar
Summers came to see Sug ; Rough Traywich came to see Dona ; and Lewis Frances
came to see Emm (Emma) . The younger members of the family, Toad
, Leora , Osey, and Sam got to acting up and peeping around the doors
and giggling. When Mr. French and Mama came home the girls told them
how the youngsters acted and they all got a whipping. They all said
that I hadn?t done anything, but Mama whipped me too because Mr. French
wanted her to do it.
A short time afterward Sug and Edgar Summers married
at home and his aunt and uncle, for whom Summers Mill was named, came to
the wedding. She was married in a dark blue dress trimmed in white.
Sug?s real name was Winifred Adelaide.
The next morning after Sug married she said that Edgar
said to her, ?Are you going to wear the pants? If you are get up
and put them on.? She said, ?I?ll wear my own.?
In about a month Emma and Lewis Frances were married
at home also. They walked out in the hall and were married there.
She wore a pink dress trimmed in white and wore her hair hanging down her
One of Mr. French?s daughters, Minnie , was sick with
a throat ailment, so Mr. French and Mama took her down to Wooten Wells.
They didn?t get to stay very long, Mr. French took sick with some kind
of fever and they all came home.
Minnie was the oldest of the children. She had
wanted to marry a certain boy, but Mr. French interfered, so she never
married. She finally died.
Mr. French had a brush arbor built just outside his
fence and got a preacher to come hold a meeting. He and two or three
of the girls were converted at that meeting. He began to hold family
prayer and say grace at table. The first evening he held family prayer
Mama and some of his girls shouted around all over the living room.
After the meetings were over they held prayer meetings
at the arbor on Saturday afternoons. It was cotton picking time and
the older girls quit and went to the prayer meetings. So only Osey,
Sam, Leora and I were left to pick cotton. We decided to have a prayer
meeting, so we went down on a little stream and had a prayer meeting, gathering
plums to eat while we prayed. We would stick a plum in our mouths
every word or two. We dared each other to swallow a seed and I swallowed
One day there was a meeting at the arbor and some young
man neighbor wanted me to sing a certain song. I didn?t want to sing,
but he promised to give me a song book if I would sing, so I did.
But I never got the songbook.
A very beautiful young girl, Fannie Hightower, a girl
with a lovely figure whom Buck French had gone with, came to the meetings
one night and went to the altar. I wanted her to ?get religion? so
I put my hand over my face and prayed my little prayer. I would look
over my hands once in a while at the girl and finally I saw her start clapping
her hands and rocking back and forth. So I knew she was converted
and I was so glad. This girl always dressed in white and usually
a princess dress.
During a camp meeting, late in the afternoon the men
would go in one direction and the women in another and have what was called
?Grove meetings.? One evening the women came from one of these meetings
all shouting. Someone was probably converted at the ?grove meeting,?
and they entered the regular evening service. The Holy Spirit was
so present the preacher did not try to preach at all, he made the altar
call without the sermon first.
After the cotton was picked we children started to
school - about November. It was the second school I had attended.
After a short time we went to school one morning and the teacher, a young
man by the name of Mr. McCaulley, told us he was quitting and there would
be no more school and sent us all home. Some of the children went
home crying. The school board had to hunt another teacher and found
a wonderful teacher, a Mr. Booth and his wife. We started to school
again, Sam, Leora, Osey and myself. I knew my alphabet and I had
a blue-backed speller. The teacher thought I was so good he put me
in the first reader. In a short time he put me in the second reader,
and put me in a history class with two boys. Answered a question
the two boys couldn?t answer who had been the class for some time before
I entered it. Then Mr. Booth put me in a geography class, then in
the third reader and arithmetic. At the close of school the people
were invited in to see how the pupils had gotten along. Mr. Booth
put me up to show how I could spell, give the definition of the words and
read. He was proud of me. The next year we had the same teacher.
When school was out I had gone through the fourth and fifth readers.
I didn?t get along so well in arithmetic because I had to study out of
an old book Mr. French?s children had studied out of and the part my class
was studying was torn out. So I had to study with my seatmate.
This embarrassed me, but my seatmate was sweet about it, though I knew
it bothered her. She was in the most advanced spelling book in the
school. There was one higher spelling class that spelled out of the
dictionary. The class was a long line reaching half way around the
room. One day the teacher pronounced the word ?salt? for me to spell,
but for some reason I wouldn?t spell it. Mr. Booth tried his best
to get me to try, but I wouldn?t even try. So he turned around and
said to Annie Scarber, a first reader pupil, ?Annie, spell salt.?
She said real smart-like and as fast as she could ?S-A-L-T.? She
was sitting with her book opened and lying across the top of her head when
the teacher turned around and asked her to spell the word. She was
a very smart girl.
Usually when someone missed a word, if someone ?below?
them spelled it the one that spelled it went ahead of the one that missed
it. This is the way they spelled. ?Incompressibility - i-n,
In; c-o-m- com; Incom; p-r-e-s-s, press, Incompress; i, Incompressi; b-i-l,
bil, Incompressibil; i, Incompressibili; t-y, ty; Incompressibility.?
I learned to write on a slate and I had to borrow the
slate. Mrs. Booth, who helped with the teaching, would write something
on the slate for me to copy. One day she was absent and she got Miss
Rena Smith to teach for her that day. When time came for writing
lesson she wrote on the slate ?Always be as good as you have been today,
Ida.? Mr. Booth was a good Christian man and he made rules for us
to follow. We got careless and didn?t obey the rules very well.
So one morning Mr. Booth came walking into the school room with an arm
full of switches. So we all sobered up and began obeying the rules.
He never had to use any of the switches. The first morning
of school he wrote a motto on the blackboard ?Do right.? We weren?t
allowed to whisper, laugh, or chew gum during school without permission
from the teacher. Sometimes if something funny happened he would
allow us to laugh until he thought we should settle down, and he would
tell us to settle down and get to work. Just before school was out
in the afternoon he would call the roll and if we hadn?t laughed, whispered
or chewed gum we answered ?perfect.? If we had done any of these
things we answered ?imperfect.? One day Mrs. Booth saw one of the
older girls whispering. When the roll was called this girl answered
?perfect? and Mrs. Booth said ?Why, Eula!? and Eula put her head down on
her desk in shame, and probably cried. I was about nine years old.
There was another girl in the school named Ida - Ida Reece. In spite
of rules she would talk. Mr. Booth did everything to stop her talking
in school. He stood her up in front on the platform one day facing
the school with a clothespin on her nose and let the rest of the school
laugh at her. Her eyes filled with tears, but it didn?t keep her
from talking the next time she wanted to talk. Finally one day Mr.
Booth said, ?Ida, I?m going to put her with you. If she bothers you,
let me know.? I just wouldn?t talk to her.
We had to walk two and a half miles through the fields
to school. When it rained it was awfully muddy. Mr. and Mrs.
Booth lived about two miles out in the country. The school was in
a regular one-room school house and located in a little town named Rolly.
A big stove stood in the center of the room.
When it rained we would go home with someone and stay
all night. One rainy night Mr. and Mrs. Booth took Rosa Key and myself
home with them in a one-seated buggy and they also had their son, Arthur
with them. The buggy had no top, but they had a great big umbrella
over us. Another rainy night Lizzy Wilkerson and I went to stay all
night with Mollie and Katie Mileer. They had cornbread for breakfast
and Mollie apologized to Lizzy for having cornbread; but didn?t apologize
to me and I never had cornbread for breakfast at my home, we always had
biscuits for breakfast. But I didn?t say anything. The cornbread
was all right with Lizzy, she was just as sweet as she could be.
Her father was well to-do, had lots of land. She was Osey?s little
Another rainy night I stayed with the other Ida that
couldn?t keep from talking in school. I had a sore throat and Ida?s
mother made vinegar stew for me to swallow for my sore throat. My
mother often made vinegar stew for me and I liked it and didn?t mind taking
One evening instead of going through the field going
home from school, we went around the road. A little boy named Joe
insisted on walking along by me and holding my arm. I was so mad
at him - didn?t want him to hold my arm. So I went from one side
of the road to the other back and forth to get rid of him. He was
just doing it to tease me.
Ressie Pope and I loved to jump the rope together.
We were about ten years old. One of the grown boy students liked
to watch us and sometimes he would run in and jump with us and jump around
us. This boy picked cotton for us after Solon and I were married.
Mr. Key kept a lot of Negroes around. One day
Mrs. Key asked the granddaughter, Rosa, to get a bucket of water.
There was a little water in the bucket and Rosa got a little Negro girl
to take off her dress and let her throw the water on her. The little
Negro girl would not do it for awhile, but she finally did and when Rosa
threw the water on her she just squirmed and twisted and danced around.
I was with Rosa at the time. Mr. Key kept a little mulatto boy to
run errands. He rode a horse to the school house each morning accompanying
Rosa and her Aunt Lela to school. The girls rode a horse together,
Lela in front, and the Negro boy would always follow on his horse.
After the girls were off their horse the boy would take the horse home.
His horse was a pacer and he would ride off weaving back and forth on this
pacer like he felt very important. His hair was light and curly and