Mountain Wave Newspaper

The following nine "Old Settler's Letters" appeared in the 1915 Mountain Wave
newspaper in response to a contest to determine the longest living resident of Searcy County.
These letters were transcribed and donated by Tanya Watts; they are transcribed exactly as
they appeared in the 1915 paper.   Thanks Tanya!

Old Settler’s Letter- No.1
Editor Mountain Wave:

I will write a few lines in answer to your invitation I noticed in the Wave.

I have lived in old Searcy County for only sixty-two years. My father was the first settler at the little village of Landis. When he
first came to Searcy County he cut his roads as he traveled. There wasn’t any public roads at that time. The way he got his
meat he would go out just as soon as he would get up of a morning, take his old rifle, kill a bear before breakfast, drag him in
and have part of a ham fried for his breakfast.

When I was a boy there wasn’t any guns like we have nowadays. All the gun we had was an old rifle. If the boys nowadays
had to hunt with the old-fashioned guns they would never have any sport hunting: In fact they never would hunt. I have went out
many a time and seen bunches of wild turkeys as big as the bunches of robins you see nowadays. The way we farmed was
altogether different to the way we do now. The plow we used was an old homemade one; the hoes were the same. You never
saw a cultivator or a harrow like we have now. I have cut rail timber week in and week out for 35 cents and 50 cents per
day-50 cents a day was a big price for work those days. At the rate of 50 cents a day then people could save more money
than they can now at their $1.50 and $2.00 jobs.

If I had time I could sit down and tell of the old times for a week, but I haven’t time now. But I think I have won the paper.

Success to the Wave and all its readers.

L.M. Massey
Marshall, Arkansas, April 3, 1915
Published in the Wave on April 16, 1915

Old Settler’s LETTER-No.2
Editor Mountain Wave:

In answer to your invitation I noticed in the Wave. I have lived in old Searcy County for a little over 66 years. I came from
middle Tennessee in an ox wagon with Dan Parks, and settled in Flatwoods, not far from Dongola.I took up a home at the
close of the war and have lived here ever since. I was 20 years old when I came here, and I am now 86 years old. There are
lots of changes now from the old times. In the early days there were old time plows and there wasn’t anything like a harrow or
cultivator, and we had old flintlock guns to hunt with. There was lots of deer and wild turkey, and some bear, when I came to
Searcy county, and not many settlers. I have been back in old Tennessee one time since I left there, I was away from there 59
years and many changes had taken place there in that time. I will close with many wishes to the Wave and it’s readers.

J.E. DePriest
Gilbert, Arkansas, April 21, 1915
Published in the Wave on April 16, 1915

Old Settler’s Letter No. 3
Editor Mountain Wave:

 I am sixty-seven years old and have live in Searcy county, within 10 miles of Marshall, sixty-four years of my life. I came here
with my parents, Mr. And Mrs. John H. Gray, from Wayne County, Tennessee, sixty-four years ago, and settled on Cellar
creek, about seven miles from where I now live. I have not been out of state since, and have not been out of Searcy county
more than three months at any one time. I have raised twelve children, all of whom are living but one-the oldest being
forty-seven years of age and the youngest twenty-four years old. I have twenty-seven grandchildren and four great
grandchildren. Not one of my children remembers seeing me “cleanshaved” never seen me drunk, or ever heard me use a
“by-word” of any kind.

In the early days everyone made their own clothes and nearly everything they used. All that newly-married couples needed to
start housekeeping with was a skillet and a lid, using the skillet to bake the bread in. Sometimes we would bake corn bread in
the ashes. It was good too.

A man of large family could live a year in a store account of $16 to $20.  A$60 store account was wonderful. My father tanned
the hides and made our own shoes.

Our nearest shipping point was Batesville, where everything was loaded onto a keelboat and pulled by hand to the New
Orleans market. The return was made the same way.

There was lots of visiting in the old days. We would load up Saturday afternoon, take the whole family, and go visiting twelve
or fifteen miles, and stay till Sunday. Sometimes there would be four or five families visiting at one home. For amusements we
would play marbles, jump, run, jump the-rope, etc. Old and young would all join in the fun.

One of my favorite pastimes when I was a young man (in which I was always joined by three chum companions, Jake
Shipman, J.W. Gray and John Shipman) was the game of rolling rocks down a mountainside. Two of us would go up to the
mountain and roll rocks down towards the other boys to see them dodge and run. We would take turn about at this game. We
thought it was great fun, but after a few narrow escapes from serious injury, or possible worse, we gave up this pastime up as
being to hazardous to life and limb.

I have heard the people shout” Hurrah for Jeff Davis” and saw the first volunteer company of Confederates march out of
Searcy County, under command of Captain Wash Campbell, in August 1861.The only members I know that are now living are
Manuel Hollabaugh of Leslie, and John DePreiest of Gilbert. This section was a “playground” for both Federals and
Confederates, and “bushwhacking” parties were frequently destroying and confiscating what they didn’t carry away

Ginseng was plentiful and was worth about twenty cents a pound. It was no trouble at all to go out and dig one or two bushels
of ginseng in a day.

Snakes were more numerous then than now .I killed seven copperhead snakes between my house and spring one evening after
sundown. Rattlesnakes with sixteen and seventeen rattles were very common.

Coming down to date, I wish to add that more acreage is being cultivated in Searcy county this year than ever before. About
three to one in corn, and two to one in wheat. This is a good sign and will help bring prosperity to the county. The money that
has been sent out of this section during the past ten years for stuff that could be grown here would macadamize every public
road in Searcy county, Most all of the money that the timber industry has brought into the county has gone out again for
provisions. Let the slogan be “Grown in Searcy County”

I would like to hear from other old citizens in the county and their early experiences.

W.T. Gray
Baker, Ark., April 26, 1915
Published in the Wave April 30, 1915

Old Settler’s Letter No. 4
Editor Mountain Wave

As I see a request from the Mountain Wave, asking letters from old settlers of Searcy county, I feel welcome to make a few
remarks. I never saw a college and all the education I ever received was sitting on a split-log bench three months out of the
year, or by a grease lamp, or by a pine knot fire. So it will be easy for the boys of this enlightened day to citicise our
unimproved talent.

I was born in Hardin county, Tenneessee, Feb 5, 1841.My father, A.D. Williams, moved to Searcy county in November
1847, stopping for the winter at Sulphur springs on the head of Richland. We camped for the night about one mile from the
spring. Father went to John L. Goats and got bear meat for our supper and breakfast. Next morning we moved to the spring.
Then we had to look out for something to live on. It was easier to take your gun and kill wild meat than go to a neighbor and
get it. Besides, father got the hides, as they were staple articles in those days.

My father built a mill for John L. Goats that winter and when the weather was to bad to work he would kill wild meat to
support his family. Father offered a nice young cow and calf to Lee Goats for a gun-lock, but Mr. Goats would not take the
offer. He said it was worth more to him to kill bears with, and it was a flintlock of the old styles. I had never seen but one
percussion gun-lock up to that time. Father said they were very dangerous and liable to knock your eye out when firing the gun.
Father was beginning to get old, and he gave me a gun and said I could do the hunting.

I have been in several bear scrapes, and have had scrapes with numerous other wild animals, but the most dangerous combat I
ever had was with two wounded bucks with large heads of horns. I had shot both of them, and they started at me though one
got so sick he had to stop and lie down. The other one got to me before I could reload my gun, and all the show I had was to
fight him with my knife. I caught him by the horns, and pushing his head to one side, I struck him behind the shoulder one lick
with a long knife and he sank to the ground dead. I then loaded my gun and killed the other buck. I have killed six deer at three
shots-that is two at a shot-three times in my life with a rifle. I have killed almost all kinds of wild animals.

Would be glad to hear from other old residents of Searcy county.

V.H. Williams
Clevland, Okla., April 29, 1915
Published in the Wave May 7th, 1915

  "Old Settler's Letters" page 2