[September 3, 1920 Courier-Index, Mariana, Arkansas]
Note:.- I have given these reminiscences as nearly as possible in Mr. Lon Slaughter’s own words.
These “I Remember” stories always lose in the second-hand telling but the L’Anguille Chapter, D.A.R. thinks it better to get them at a loss than not to have them at all.
Mr. Slaughter is seventy-one in years but not even middle aged in mind and body. His memory is wonderful; names, dates and incidents fell from his lips without the slightest hesitation. We hope to have other stories from Mr. Slaughter.- Mrs. E. D. Wall.
I was born in Macon, now Bullock County, Alabama in 1849. My parents were Henry Pendleton Slaughter and Prudence Bickerstaff.
On September 26, 1859 my father having already purchased a section and a half of land in Phillips County, Arkansas, our family left our home in Alabama to make the overland trip to our new home. There were about two hundred persons in the party, white and black, old and young. Our family consisted of father, mother and six boys. Henry, George, Arthur, Will, Jon (Note:possibly should be “Lon”) and Jim.
Then there were my sister, Sarah, and her husband, E. L. Black (Note:Erastus Lynch), also my brother-in-law, A.A. Bryant and family; my uncle, Bob Bickerstaff and family and a family of Longs, not related to us.
Father brought fifty old negro slaves. The able-bodied negroes walked but the babies and aged were loaded in wagons with the household goods and food for the journey. These wagons were drawn by mules and oxen. There were several buggies and my mother’s carriage, making 36 vehicles in all.
We crossed the Alabama River at Montgomery, passed through Tuscaloosa, the capitol of the state; stopped at Oxford, Miss., and I remember we were held up two days at Coldwater, Miss. on account of a snowstorm. We had an unusually early freeze and cold weather came early in November... (Note: next two sentences illegible)... My mother rode with a lighted lantern under a lap robe. We shot ducks and small game all along the way for fresh meat and tents were set up each night to sleep in.
I remember in the Mississippi bottoms just before we reached Helena, we met a party of movers with their faces towards the southeast. We asked where they were going, and they replied, “Back to God’s country-- back to Alabama and if you fools are headed for Arkansas you’ll find it the d-------est saw you ever saw in your life.”
However, we kept on our way and on December 24th, reached the river at Helena. We were all day getting the party ferried across.
On December 27 we halted in the woods one-mile north of Aubrey at the place now called Seelig. We cut out every foot of the road from Spring Creek to Seelig, a distance of three and a half miles.
We set up our tents to live in and went right to work building our home house (sic), barns and cribs and cleaning up land to cultivate in the spring.
The boards for ceilings and floors of the home we cut with a whipsaw. The saw mill on the Cypress owned by Judge Thomas Pierce was not so far away as miles go but the so-called roads were quagmires and every mule we had could not have pulled a load of lumber through those mud-holes.
But in a little while the war came on and my brothers, Henry, George, Arthur and Will enlisted in the 3rd Arkansas Cavalry.
My father divided with everybody far and near who needed help. He even sent a load of corn to some poor people away over on Indian Bay
Stonewall Anderson, so long president of Hendrix College and a noted Methodist divine, was born in a log cabin on my father’s place. My father and mother had moved Mrs. Anderson there in order to look after her and her small children while her husband, Capt. Rufus Anderson, was in the army.
In 1863 my mother sent me on horseback to Mariana to buy wool from Mrs. Green whose house stood in what is now Bob Jarratt’s garden. I was riding a colt I had raised myself and considered him very valuable. Helena was then occupied by Federal troops and scouting and foraging parties of Yankee soldiers were continually popping up around here. I fancied every Yankee in eastern Arkansas knew of and coveted my pony so I kept a sharp lookout for the enemy. After all I was nearly surprised as just as I started my errand to Mrs. Green, I spied a party of Yankees coming over the hill where the Presbyterian Church now stands. I didn’t tarry. I tore down the lane to Cavins Hills, then out through the woods toward home. I don’t remember whether we ever got the wool.
The year of 1864 was hard for us. The Yankees had raided us so often that little was left. The spring of that year a Yankee gunboat brought a transport up the L’Anguille and tied up at Mariana at the present landing place and at night, of course, brought cotton through the woods and traded at the rate of $1.50 per pound for shoes, salt and quinine. During the war my father paid $150.00 in gold for a barrel of salt.
Yes, a good bit of a skirmish took place during the war in what is now Lee County. It was a half a mile south of LaGrange near the then Watson place, between about 200 Yank and 100 Rebs. Nobody was killed and no one injured too bad to get away. I remember Mike Kelly’s horse ran away, not to the rear but right into a dozen or so Yankees who whacked and beat him with their sabers. He was considerably bruised.
But the reconstruction days were worse by far than the wartime. Yes, I could tell you a great deal about the activities of the Ku Klux. A few living now remembers the Root and Cameron Debate in Helena one Fourth of July after the war. Root was the Republican speaker stated for the occasion but some how he didn't speak. Something happened and I’ve good reasons to believe the KuKlux had all to do with it.
We had six Klans in Phillips county: Spring Creek - E. L. Black leader; North Creek, Capt. Bill Wetherley; Hickory Ridge (Marvell) Jesse Clopton, Helena; Dr. Gray, Marianna; Gen. Govan another near Spring and Col. Paul Anderson.
But that belong in a chapter to itself and some day I’ll give it to you.
The first Baptist church in Lee county was organized in 1846 and was known as Liberty Baptist Church. Mat Cox was the pastor and he preached in a little log house near the headwaters of Patterson’s branch. That old graveyard a little distance down the wire road on the hill to the left as you go south is where the congregation of Liberty Baptist Church buried its dead. There lie the Lackies, Bow(illegible), Findleys, Shepherds, Yan (illegible)...early settlers of Lee (illegible) Civil War.
The Helena Baptist Church was for a long time a mission station of the Mount Vernon Baptist Association. In 1869 a storm blew the building away and the association donated $250 towards it re-erection.
The Baptist church at Spring Creek was organized in 1860. P.S.G. Watson was the pastor.
Our neighbors at Spring Creek in the early days were the Shackelfords, Billy Brown and Perkins Brown, Jack, Sam and Billy Wilkes, Ham and Billy Cotter, Willerfords, McAnultys, Bonners, Walthals and Kings.