Verna Lucinda Bradsher Bullard



RB: Well, what was your house like when you were small?

VB: Well, believe it or not, we had three big rooms. And between two of the rooms there was a big hallway. And we had two fireplaces, one in one of the rooms and then across the hall in the other one…

RB: Now this was an open hall? It was open to the winter?

VB: Yeah, and it was as wide or wider than this room.

RB: …which is probably ten feet or more.

VB: Yes. And in the summertime, that was the best place. You’d get out there and there was always a breeze that came through there.

RB: Which way did the house face? The road ran…

VB: It faced…

RB: …north and south, I think, didn’t it?

VB: Yeah.

RB: …so it faced the west, I guess.

VB: Yeah, west and east. And it was woods a lot and a group—right in front of our house was a big grove of walnut trees. And that shaded our house from the west. And then Dad had a big orchard of peaches. And we had every kind of peach that he could find, from the early up until the, uh, what kind of peaches were they?—Indian peaches in October. And we had some apples, we had plums, but that peach orchard was the main thing.

RB: …The thing he really liked…

VB: Well, we sold a lot of peaches.

RB: I see.

VB: People would come and get peaches to can, you know. And he sold a lot—And he loved to raise watermelons. And at that time they had a—The Soliphone was the paper, was the weekly paper from Paragould, and the editor there would give a year’s subscription to the person who’d send in the best watermelon. And Papa won that for several years.

RB: I think you told me that you, your dad made sorghum, too.

VB: Yes, he did. We always had a big sorghum patch. And when they first—when he first grew sorghum, there was a man that brought his mill to our place and made the sorghum for us. If I remember right, his name was Cudd, a Mr. Cudd. And we’d make the sorghum and then usually, on the last day that they made the sorghum—I just remember this as a child—the young people would come and he’d cook up enough that they’d pull candy that night. That was a candy pull. And then after that, after this man quit making sorghum, then there was a fellow who put in a sorghum mill at his home, and he built a big screen, wire screen, and everything over—he had it very modern.

RB: And what was his name?

VB: His name was…

RB: Well, it’s not important, is it?

VB: No, but I…

RB: There was a family that made sorghum that I remember we used to get sorghum from. Was that the one?

VB: Well, what was their name?

RB: Well, I can’t think, either, now, what the name was. I guess that’s not really that important. What else did they do?

VB: Well, they’d get the sorghum ready and take it to the mill and then they’d make our sorghum for us.

RB: What kind of cooking affair did they have for cooking down sorghum?

VB: Well, they had long pans. This man, after he built his, it was permanent, you know. And he used brick and fixed kind of a kiln and then on top of it he had pans. I don’t know what they were made out of—they were black-looking.

RB: Probably steel of some sort.

VB: Uh-huh. And they had different sections and they’d put it in—the juice in here, it’d go in here, cook a while and it went around, and they’d skim it off and it had foam would come up on it.

RB: They kept that skimmed off.

VB: And they’d cook it until it come out to the last end, it’d be pure sorghum. And they put it up in what they called gallon buckets. But when Dad made it, we had a great big old keg, and on the…

RB: Wooden keg?

VB: Yes. And when you’d go out in the wintertime, you’d go to get that sorghum out there, you’d nearly freeze to death (laughing) ‘cause it wouldn’t hardly come out. And you’d have to open what they called the bunghole or it wouldn’t come out at all. It had a little spigot on it, you know.

RB: Well, the man that traveled, this Mr. Cudd, he lived there at Marmaduke or around that vicinity?

VB: Well, he was related to the Cudds that lived up close to…

RB: …to town…

VB: …to Harvey’s Chapel but I don’t know exactly where he lived.

RB: And he had a big pan and...?

VB: He carried the stuff around…

RB: Brought it in a wagon or something?

VB: Back at that time they had, you know, the mill. They put horses or mules to it and it went around and squeezed the juice out of it. We used to—when they’d bring the cane in to—we’d go get a piece, you know, and strip it down and chew on it, you know, and get that juice out. (laughing) We thought that was so good.

RB: About what time of year did that take place?

VB: Well, they made that in the late summer.

RB: Well now, did he have a special plot of ground that he’d raise that sorghum on?

VB: Yes, he had—yes, because it was a place—he thought that clay ground—we had kind of a hillside on part of our farm, and he thought that clay soil gave a good flavor—was better than where you plant it down maybe in what you’d call more of a rich ground. And it did—we always did have good-tasting sorghum. The soil has a lot to do with the flavor of sorghum.

RB: And then, you said you had bees, too.

VB: Yes. When I was little, he didn’t—oh, I guess he got rid of them before I was very old. But I remember him, robbing the bees. And Mother made him a—she took cardboard, and then she put screen wire around it and he wore that on his head. But he never would put anything on his hands. He said they never stung him. And we’d say, “Well, why? Why don’t they sting you?” He said, “They won’t sting you if you don’t act like you’re afraid. But if you face ‘em and don’t act afraid, they won’t sting.” And they never did sting him.

RB: Where did he get his bees originally?

VB: Well, I don’t know where he got started but I know in the springtime, you know they—some of them swarm and go out. Well, Mother would ring the dinner bell—we had a great big old pole with a dinner bell on it—and she’d ring the bell and he’d come in and he’d…

RB: Did they have some particular ring that meant certain things?

VB: Well, we did, but that was—he’d always—it was during the time of swarming, so he’d know…

RB: He’d know what it was.

VB: He’d know it was a swarm of bees. So he’d come in and he’d take his—whatever they—what do they call ‘em? Their…

RB: Their frames?

VB: What they put them in, you know. And he’d go out and set that down and he’d get up there and rake those bees off. Now they’d just be in a great wad, you know—come down to kind of a point. He’d just take his hand and rake them off and then he’d beat on a tin pan right close to that, and they’d go in. And that’s the way he—and, of course, he got his bees, his extras, that way, you know, by their multiplying.

RB: But originally he may have robbed a bee tree or something?

VB: He might have.

RB: Or maybe he ordered them through Sears-Roebuck…

VB: (laughing)

RB: …or did they have Sears-Roebuck then?

VB: (laughing) Yes, they had Sears-Roebuck, but I don’t think he ordered them. I don’t know where he got started—Somebody might have given him…

RB: Some neighbor?

VB: Some neighbor might have given him a hive. I don’t know how he started that.

RB: And he didn’t build the actual frames and beehives? He bought those somewhere?

VB: No, no. Well, they weren’t like what they have now. You know you get these manufactured ones and they have those sections.

RB: Now, they didn’t have the sections in them?

VB: No, they didn’t have it that way. And when he was going to rob the bees, he’d let people know and they’d come and buy the honey, you know. They usually bought it in comb because we didn’t have any way to extract it.

RB: You didn’t have any centrifuge or anything to separate it?

VB: Uh-uh.

RB: I know they were, like you said, they were getting elderly then and most the family had moved away. Since you were the youngest child…

VB: And he began to get rid of things, you know, because he got to where he wasn’t able to do those things.

RB: Well, did you have a lot of family to come and maybe grandchildren and different ones…

VB: Oh, yes. Every summer we had—we just knew when summer’d come we’s gonna have a houseful. I called ‘em my grandchildren, too, you know. (laughing) And, especially Omer and Don. They’d come out there every summer. I remember one time, Don—Dad told him something to do. And Dad was a very determined person. If he said you had to do something, you nearly had to do it. (laughing) And Don wasn’t gonna do it! So he took off—he was going to go back to town! (laughing) And Dad got after him and he run him back in! He never did let him go home! (laughing)

RB: (laughing) That sounds like what happened to me with Uncle Vess. I was going to go over to the creek and I wasn’t supposed to—and I found out that I wasn’t supposed to.

VB: (laughing)

RB: Well, that’s something interesting, too, that the farm was on the bluff up above the creek, wasn’t it?

VB: Yes, it was. It was a bluff up there and…

RB: Did they call that bluff something or did it have a name—Or the creek? You don’t remember the name of the creek?

VB: No, nothing special. It was just a creek that ran through there. And we used to put—we didn’t have any fishing hooks—and we’d take pins and turn ‘em, you know, and put ‘em on strings and go down there and catch little old fish—I guess it’d be three or four inches long. And we’d take them home and Mother would say, “Well, if you’ll clean ‘em, we’ll cook ‘em.” And we’d cook those (laughing)—They use them now for minnows, you know, to fish with. And we’d catch crawdads sometimes, you know. We’d get a lot of fun, just out of catching them.

RB: Well, when the boys were growing up on the farm there, what did they do for fun? Did they play around the creek at all?

VB: Oh, they’d slip off and go swimming in the swimming hole, which they didn’t like for them to do—they’s afraid something would happen to them, you know—They’d do that. And they’d play tricks on one another. They played a trick on Dad one time. Dad was coming in from work and the creek was kind of shallow and he thought he’d just stop. He was riding, you know, and he thought he’d stop and let—I don’t know whether it was a mule or a horse he was riding, they had both. And he stopped. It was a horse because we called him Old Jack and he was afraid of everything. And he stopped to let that horse drink and he let his bridle down, you know, and the boys was down there doing something and they saw him and they just raised up and waved their hands and that old horse (laughing) jumped out from under him (laughing) …

RB: (laughing) So he ended up in the creek?

VB: (laughing) Yes! (laughing) Well, he played tricks on them so they didn’t (laughing)…

RB: Well, what other things did the boys find to do for fun?

VB: Well, Dad chewed tobacco and he’d get these pieces of tobacco and I remember the trunk that he put it in. There was an old trunk in there and then he’d put it in that tray. Well, Claude got to kind of nipping on that tobacco—chewing, you know—and Jess slipped in there one day and put some cayenne pepper in (laughing)…And I think they forgot about it! (laughing)

RB: (laughing) And he’s the one who got it!

RB: I remember one of the things I wanted to go up there and look for, the day I got into it with Uncle Vess, was to go up there and hunt for arrowheads. Did they find any arrowheads and things like that up on that bluff or around the creek there?

VB: I never did. I don’t know that they did.

RB: Seems like I remember—maybe it was Uncle Al was telling me about that.

VB: I guess so. I remember I’d play a lot by myself and back of our orchard there was this kind of a woodsy grove, and then you went right straight down the bluff. It was steep down there. And I was up there playing by myself one day and I saw some little—I thought they were little chickens. And I walked up and they were just on the ground and they were the cutest little things you ever saw. And I thought, “Well, I’m just going to get those and take them home.” I reached down to get those little chickens—Down come this, well, what we called a whip-poor-will. –Pounced on me like (laughing)… Did you ever see a little whip-poor-will?

RB: Uh-huh. Well, I’ve seen whip-poor-wills. I haven’t seen the little ones.

VB: Well, they’re like a little chicken, you know. I left them alone right away! (laughing). And then, the boys was out hunting one day and they found a little squirrel and they brought him home to me. And I played with that squirrel as a pet. We didn’t have a cage or anything. I just kept it around there. But Mama’d get aggravated at it. She had a pantry, she called it, and part of her kitchen built in there. And he’d get in there, you know, get into things. Finally, he died. Well, where you went into this orchard was a great big gate that you could drive a wagon through. And Claude and Jess went up there and took some old paint, and they put on one of those planks that went across there: “Bunny Died May the twentieth, nineteen and five.” I never will forget that. (laughing) I guess that stayed there as long as that gate did. I guess it’s gone now.

RB: Well, I’m sure it must be. I know something we were talking about a little earlier was the house, and on one side of this hall was the kitchen and eating area…

VB: And on the other side was the…

RB: …was the bedroom area.

VB: It was all bedroom because we just had to have beds in both rooms, ‘cause it’s too many of us.

RB: And in the summertime, did anyone ever sleep out in that hall?

VB: We slept out in that hall a lot. We’d take a quilt and go out there and lay down.

RB: It’d be cool with the breeze blowing through there.

VB: And after Dad got older, he’d have to rest and he’d come in to lunch and he’d take a pillow and quilt and go out there and lay down and then I’d fan him while he took his nap. I fanned him with an old palm-leaf fan and let him take his nap.

RB: I guess, something we were talking about earlier, too, was the dinner bell. And your mother would ring that for dinner?

VB: Yes. When she got dinner ready, she’d—what we called dinner then, we call it lunch now…

RB: It was noon, wasn’t it?

VB: …but it was really a dinner because they cooked a big meal.

RB: That was the big meal of the day in working time.

VB: And evening was more of a light meal. And we’d ring the dinner bell. And we had an old dog. And that poor old dog, I guess the bell would hurt his ears, he’d just howl, you know (laughing). They could hear him howling. And we had an old mule that, whenever you’d ring that dinner bell, they’d just as well to take out and come to the house ‘cause he’d come. (laughing) He’d just take out and come! (laughing)

RB: Well now, did they have some special ring for some other occasion that meant that there was some trouble or something?

VB: Well now, if there was some trouble and you rang it at an odd hour, people would know…

RB: They’d know something was going on…

VB: And they’d know somebody’s sick. I remember one time down below that bluff where they were plowing, and I guess Jess was just a little boy. It was back when they was trying to—talking about the Maine, the ship Maine, you know, that sunk. So Jess was down there playing and he decided he’d “raise the Maine.” (laughing) And he dug a hole and put some gunpowder in it and everything, you know (laughing). ‘Course when it went off it, it burned all of his eyebrows off and eyelashes. But that old mule—Dad was plowing—and that old mule took off to the house (laughing). Now that’s what they did, anything of fun.

RB: I wonder where he got that gunpowder. Did your dad hunt?

VB: Well, Isreal was a hunter in our family. And he’d hunt a lot. And when he’d go out hunting, he’d take a sack or something, well, you know, he’d come home with muscadines and whatever he could find.

RB: Did he gather nuts and things?

VB: He liked to go out in the woods and hunt and gather things.

RB: What sorts of animals did he hunt, do you remember?

VB: Oh, I guess little…

RB: Squirrels?

VB: …squirrels and things like that, because he never did bring anything big.

RB: Well, did you ever see deer or anything like that—things like that, that might come up to the house?

VB: I never did. Now, Mother told about when they first moved there that they’d see deer every once in a while. But I don’t remember ever seeing any.

RB: No bear or anything like that?

VB: No.

RB: But in the early days they did see…

VB: They did, whenever they first moved there, ‘cause it was all woods.

RB: Maybe panthers?

VB: And I can remember when there—even after I was old enough, that the woods come pretty close up to that Cotton Belt railroad.

RB: When your parents first moved to that country, what was it like? Did you hear them say what was the country like when they first moved there? When they were just small—well, they were really children when they moved to Greene County, weren’t they?

VB: Oh, yeah. Dad lived in a community they called Scatterville. Now I don’t know exactly where that is.

RB: It’s close to Rector.

VB: It’s in Clay County…

RB: In Clay County instead of Greene County.

VB: And Mama…

RB: Up that same road when you’re going on to Rector. Well, no, they’re not the same road…

VB: It’s off of…

RB: It’s about a mile off of this road.

VB: And Mother lived in Elevenpoint, close to Pocahontas. Now that’s Randolph County. And, to tell you the truth, I don’t know where they met. I never did—I guess when I was growing up, I never thought to ask them. Now I don’t know.

RB: Well, did they tell any stories about what their childhood was like?

VB: Oh, yes, Mother did. Well, Dad told some. This one thing that Dad told me about hisself—‘course he was five years old when his dad was killed during the Civil War.

RB: Did he tell you what happened—exactly what happened?

VB: Yes. Now, Granddad, his dad, had been out to do something in the—he was a farmer, too. And he came in and his clothes—it was spring and his clothes were kind of damp. And they had a big fire in the fireplace and he laid down on a pallet in front of that fire to get warmed up. And these two men came up and they asked for his dad. And his dad, when he went out, one of them shot at him and he missed him. And he jumped off of his horse and run over, and was trying to—and his dad was in kind of a struggle and the other man shot Granddad in the back. And Aunt Sarah—I believe—one of the girls ran out to help him and the bullet what missed her just went between her arm and body. And Dad was five years old. And I don’t know when it was, then or shortly after that, some of the family got real sick. And they needed some help. And they put Dad on a horse to send him after help. And it was night and he had to go through some woods. And he said there was a panther following him—jumped from tree to tree while he rode through that woods. He said that was the scariest thing that he had to experience in his growing up.

RB: You didn’t know who these two men were, then, that shot your grandfather?

VB: No, I never did know, but the family must have known because Uncle Jim, Dad’s oldest brother, which was quite a bit older—I guess he was married, probably—and he got ready to waylay them one time. He was going to kill ‘em and he changed his mind. He didn’t think it was worth it. So evidently they did know who they were.

RB: I see. But you don’t know any more about…

VB: No, I don’t know…

RB: …what the problem was or…

VB: It was just…

RB: …what the argument was about or…

VB I don’t think there was any argument. I think it was just—It was after the Civil War and they just—you know, they just went around and they’d shoot you down for no reason.

RB: Well, there were a lot of people that were coming in then from the North, were they, and settling there?

VB: Yeah.

RB: And your family were Southerners that had lived there.

VB: That’s right. Just like where Mother lived. Now when Grandpa Ross was in the Army, he got sick and they sent him home. He was only about thirty-four or thirty-five years old. And when he came home, he died after he got home. And they buried him in the backyard at night. And the only way they did that, the men that were too old to go to the Army, they hid out in daytime and they’d come in at night. And they came in at night and buried him in the backyard and they fixed it—leveled it over so that it wouldn’t show.

RB: You couldn’t tell it was a grave?

VB: Uh-huh.

RB: Well, what would they have done if they’d known it was a grave, do you think?

VB: I don’t know what they’d have done but evidently they just didn’t want anybody to know about it.

RB: I see. Well, this was during the Civil War.

VB: That was during the Civil War. So that left Grandmother with four children.

RB: And that’s Ross, your mother’s family.

VB: Yeah.

RB: Now about how old was your mother during the Civil War?

VB: Well, Mama was, I think, about seven or eight—something like that. So, there was—One day—Of course they had to make their own thread, you know. They spun their own thread and everything. And they started out the day’s work and this group of soldiers, Northern soldiers, came along, and they stopped and came in. And they asked her Mother if she had any food. And she told them yes. She told them the truth—she had some food. So they said, “Well, cook us a meal.” So she went to get the meat to cook ‘em a meal and the Captain went with her. I guess they’s afraid—you know, they didn’t know what’d happen. And when he looked at the meat it was red. Now, they got saltpeter—how they could get saltpeter and couldn’t get salt, I don’t know. That never was explained to me. But anyway, they cured their meat with saltpeter and it turned it red. And this Captain asked her about the meat and she said, “Well, it’s nothing wrong with it. We cured it with saltpeter.” But he was afraid of it—he didn’t know. So they went on and left them and they didn’t use their meat. Well, after that, there was a family of McElroys. The Old Man McElroy was too old to go to the Army and he was one that had to hide out, you know. But he had a vacant house close to where they lived. So he told Grandma and the children to move there close to him, where they could kind of see after him. And one Saturday, he came in home—they needed some wood. And he took a horse and a sled and went out and got some wood, and brang it up. And the soldiers came up and shot him.

RB: These were Union soldiers?

VB: Uh-huh—Carpetbaggers or whatever it was that went around over the country. And Uncle Robert was out there with him and he was holding the horse and Mother was standing on the front porch. They saw it happen. You know, that was a terrible thing.

RB: It sure was.

VB: And Mama said he was a good old man, he just didn’t bother anybody.

RB: Well, that’s a real shame. And, of course, that was up in northeast Arkansas, where there were a lot of outlaws…

VB: Yeah, there were. There were all…

RB: …like the James Brothers and different groups?

VB: Yes. And it wasn’t—you see, during the Civil War and afterwards there wasn’t any law. They could do anything they wanted to and get by with it. You know, they had to go through Reconstruction and everything.

RB: Well, did they say anything much about Scatterville and what it was like? What that little town was like?

VB: All I know it was just a community and a church, wasn’t it?

RB: I really don’t know.

VB: I think it was. There’s a cemetery there.

RB: Still is there, up near Rector there, someplace. Is some of your family buried there?

VB: I think some—probably that’s where Grandpa Bradsher is buried. And Grandma, too.

Transcribed July 2007 by Gray Carpenter Church, Verna’s great grandniece and great-great granddaughter of Jack and Lucinda Bradsher.


This has been graciously contributed by Richard Bullard   ~~  BradsherFamily

Thank you for sharing this wonderful reminiscence of Greene County.


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