Mountain Wave, 1915
"Old Settler's Letter's" continued
Old Settler’s Letter No.5
To the Wave-
I have been reading your “Old
Settlers letters” which I have found very interesting and if you will allow
in your valuable paper I will give a few of my early experiences and impressions.
My first recollection is of
one day coming into the house at our home in Wayne county, Tenn., where
I found a woman with a
very young baby visiting my mother made me kiss the baby- very much against my will. I very distinctly remember that the baby
didn’t smell right. Mothers, don’t make your little boys kiss the girls; they will learn that soon enough.
The next thing I remember of
was the marriage of Jim Kelley and Nancy Beavers, on our way to Arkansas
in 1850.I also
remember crossing the Mississippi river at Memphis. The boat didn’t have railings up all around so we kids were all kept very
closely in one corner, Aunt Pop Shipman standing guard over us.
This brings me to what was later
known as the Bob Goodman place on Cellar Creek. In 1854 we had a 12 inch
inches of sleet on that, then it rained and froze for several days making a layer of ice over all. Deer was plentiful then as
squirrels are now, and lots of them were killed while this snow was on the ground; dogs could run on top of the ice but the
sharp hoofs of the deer would cut through at almost every jump, making them very easily caught and killed. Sister Mary and I
were washing at the spring branch, one day while this snow was on the ground, when old “Taller Box”, our watch dog who
always stayed with us children, seen a deer coming down the branch and of course made a run for him, but after making a few
jumps the deer broke through the ice into the snow our sister Mary killed him with the “battling stick” a heavy piece of wood
used for beating the dirt out of clothes-a very strenuous substitute for the present day rub-board.
Brother W.T. Gray tells you
about the genseng and the price, but before he was large enough to carry
the sack I had to “tote”
it myself. Brother James and myself were “senging” on the mountain above the Andy Stephenson farm one day, following a hog
trail, when I stepped on something soft which I thought was a rotten piece of wood, but when I looked back a few seconds
later I saw a very large rattle snake starting to crawl away, apparently in the best of humor. I suppose he thought he would get
out of the way before someone else should come along and step on him. We walked on for about a hundred yards frequently
stopping and looking around for the largest bunches of seng, when on looking down I saw a big rattler coiled up almost
touching my bare feet, so I quickly decided I had enough snakes for one day and pulled out for home.
He also tells of our pastimes,
but failed to tell of our “fox chases”. The oldest boy would be the “man”,
with an ax, the fastest
runner the “fox” and the rest of us the “dogs”. On our last chase Neal Cypert was the “fox”. When the “dogs” would tree the
“fox” they would wait at the butt of the tree until the “man’ would cut it down, then f the “dogs” failed to get the “fox” another
race was on. The third time we treed Neal he took refuge up a large dogwood with a large limb that elbowed up, about four
feet out from the body. When the “man” cut the tree down the elbow struck first, thrashing the “fox” so hard against the ground
that all the wind was knocked out of him. We “dogs” covered him and gave him a good “wooling” before the “man” realized he
was hurt and called us off. We then raised him up and found he was reaching out for breath like a hot goose. It was sometime
before he could walk, so we decided we had enough “fox-chasing”
I am sorry that space forbids
for I did want to tell about going to Buffalo fishing in “68,and where
we got the boats two boys
went along with us, both of them in shirt-tails, the largest about the size of Will Yaggi, but that will keep until some other time.
As to my family, we have raised
11 children to be grown, 9 of whom are still living, we have 28 grandchildren
at the last report
and had 10 great-grand children at the last report.
Success to the Wave and its many readers.
J.W. Gray, Box 78
National Home, Kans.
Published in the Wave on 5-14-1915
Old Settler’s Letter No.
HAND –TO-HAND ENCOUNTERS WITH BRUIN-ROCKED IN A TURTLE SHELL FOR A CRADLE
To the Mountain Wave;
I send you a little history
of my residence in Searcy county, I was born in Hardin county, Tennessee.October
father, with others, moved from Tennessee the same year to Searcy county and settled at the mouth of Spring Creek on Buffalo
River, and made one crop. While living there I had forty shakes of the ague and didn’t miss a day, and was rocked in a turtle
shell for a cradle. My father had a pet bear and it would throw me down and suck my ear. My father left there and moved to
the Cowen’s Barren’s close to Yellville, Marion county, Ark. And stayed there two years. He then moved to Wiley’s Cove
and settled a place near the old homestead, then bought the old home place where I was raised.
I wasn’t as lucky as Uncle Vol
Williams was killing six deer in three shots. But when I was a boy I killed
nine wild turkeys in
one day with an old long rifle gun, and when I was going on 21 years of age I killed fifty squirrels in one day. When I was first
married in 1859, I moved to the place that I am now living on, and have never been off the place, only when in the army just
after the war I killed many bear and deer the first bear I ever killed was in a cave located up what we called Happy Hollow.
The cave is in Pete Adams’ field. After this in the hills of Buffalo, I killed several bear by going into caves after them and
running them with dogs. I helped to kill and cache seventeen bears one winter. My brother John Bratton, and I killed a bear on
Big creek by setting a pistol and wounding it, and John finished it with an axe was in one panther killing. I have gone into caves
after bears and put the muzzle of a pistol close to their heads. I have fired as many as nine shots at a bear in a cave-in have had
them and the dogs fight all around me, and no further than eight or ten steps away. But I did kill one dog by trying to save him. I
have saved some dogs by just putting a pistol against the bear’s head and firing it.
I am going to be 77 years of age and can still see how to shoot a rifle and find bees in the timber.
James Bratton, Sr.
Leslie, Ark., May 18, 1915
Published in the Wave on May 28, 1915
Old Settler’s Letter No.7
To the Mountain Wave:
I like to read the letters of the old settlers. It is like meeting up with friends of the good old days.
To those who do not know me,
if there are any, I will state that I was born on a farm on Richland at
the foot of the Boston
mountain, in the shadow of this lofty mountain peak whose summit towers far above and along the verdant banks of beautiful
Richland creek. I have lived all my life in Searcy county, never having moved out of sight of the old farm. I was born April 27,
1847, and was 68 years of age April 27, 1915.i never was out of the state, and Little Rock is the farthest I ever was away
from home. Back in the '80’s,when the country north of here stampeded to Colorado and wagon trains one-half mile long were
passing, was the only time I ever thought of leaving. Printed in large bold letters across one side of their wagon were the words
COLORADO OR BUST. Next fall they passed, returing and on the other side of their wagons, next to us were the words,
BUSTED BY---------------So our fever cooled.
I have experienced most all
the thrills and excitement known to the pioneers of the country. I have
seen panthers and been in
hunts, when dogs would tree them, with a shot from the trusted old flintlock rifle. Bear used to be plentiful and furnished much
of the meat of the early settlers. I have killed lots of deer, and have even caught them when worried by the dogs they got
hemmed in along the fence.
I can remember when the Indians
made frequent trips to this section and carried packs, supposed to contain
mineral, on their
ponies. But no one was ever able to learn where he or she got it.
I recall distinctly the wild
retreat of the Federals who had been engaged in battle with the Confederates
two miles below here
and put on the run. Two lone horsemen followed them for quite a distance and from the speed they made they must have
thought the whole army was behind them. They threw down their guns; and some of them even abandoned their mounts and
took it afoot.
The worst feature of the war
to us was the robbing and depresdations done by roving bands of men, who
took advantage of
the situation afforded by the war to plunder and steal. They took horses, cattle, meat, corn, and even clothing, beds, etc. In
fact, they took everything of value. My father had $1,800.00 in gold. They made him dig it up. They became such a terror to
the settlement that Capt. Harry Love took a squad of soldiers and went into their mist and hung about 60 of them. This so
seemingly barbarous, had a good effect and the depredations ceased.
I have worn full suits, including
hat and shoes that were all made at home. The first lumber ever in this
section was used to ceil
dwellings overhead. It was cut by hand by placing the log on a scaffold. One man stood on top of the log and one man stood
underneath and they sawed the planks by using a ripsaw. We made most all articles we needed. I can remember when all the
nails we got were hammered out one at a time in the blacksmith shop.
I have been engaged in farming
and stock raising all my life, and have always found plenty to do without
interesting myself in
other people’s affairs, and attend strictly to my own business. I never used tobacco, played cards or had a fight in my life;
never was sued or sued anyone. I have always been fortunate in accumulating sufficient of this world’s goods to sustain and
render our lives happy and contented.
In giving you this brief sketch I hope to win the prize and receive the Wave.
Eula, Ark.June 5, 1915
Published in Wave June 11, 1915
Old Settler’s Letter No.9
To the Mountain Wave;
I notice in your paper that
you are offering a premium to the person showing the longest continuance
residence in Searcy
county. I was born January 12, 1846. I was born and raised on Tomahawk. I am a daughter of William Price. I have lived in this
neighborhood all my life. I was married the second year after the war to H.W. Baker.
Tomahawk, Ark. July 27, 1915
Published in Wave on July 30, 1915