Just Looking For a Home

great-granddaughter Ronda Martin of Jonesboro


I was born September 7, 1900, between Judsonia and Searcy. My parents, Andrew and Docia (Thompson) Murphree, were poor but they were Christians. I had a sister Esther two years younger than I was. When I was 4 years old my parents had twin boys. Children didn’t know as much as they do now. The next morning they told us that a peddling wagon came by and they bought us one apiece. We were real proud of them. The next morning when Papa got up the babies were gone. He looked out on the porch and we were sitting out there holding the babies. He took them and put them in the bed and the next morning they were gone again. So Papa came out and we had them again, so he took them and put them back in the bed and told us that we must leave them alone, we might hurt them.

            After Mama got up we went down into Woodruff County to help Uncle Lon pick his cotton. (Alonzo Fritts was married to Papa’s sister, Georgia.) One day Nellie and I told our Mamas we wanted a sack, we wanted to pick some cotton. So they fixed us a sack and we went to the field and picked our sacks full. No one ever knew where we picked it. It was a big plantation and we didn’t know that all the cotton didn’t belong to Uncle Lon.

            Grandma and Grandpa Murphree went with us to help Uncle Lon gather his crop. After the crop was gathered we came back up to Uncle Will Thompson’s. (He was married to Papa’s sister Ida.) There our babies died. They lived just four months. They were born August 16 and died December 16. And Grandma Murphree died there at Uncle Will’s too.

            After that we moved to Mr. Joe Davis’ farm and Papa made a share crop for him. Esther and I went over in the field to a berry shed and we found a bucket with some peas in it. We chewed some of them up and threw all of the rest out in the grass. When Papa found out what we had done he spanked us and made us get out there and pick them up. That was the last time my father spanked me. He spanked me once before for getting into Mama’s churning that she had set by the fire to clabber so she could churn it and make butter and buttermilk.

            When Papa started picking his cotton I got me a bucket and I would fill my bucket full of cotton. He would tell me how many I would have to pick for different things I would want him to get for me. After that Papa bought a little farm and he was clearing it up so he could farm it. He had to fence it. They didn’t have a stock law then.

            I started to school when I was 5 years old. We had an awful good teacher. I didn’t know that I was supposed to sit in my seat so I would get up and walk in the house, so one day my teacher told me to come up there and sit by him. I was real glad to go up there and sit by him. I thought he liked me so well that he had me to sit by him. My cousin Liston Roberts, a little older than I was, knew why he had me sit there. He told his mother that I had to go sit by the teacher. Aunt Belle then told Mama and Mama said, “So you had to sit by the teacher,” and I said, “Yes! He likes me so well he wanted me to sit up there by him.” I didn’t know he was punishing me for running around in the house.

            At Christmas they had a program and Papa took Esther and me. Mama was expecting Myrtle and she wouldn’t go out anywhere. I had a speech to say and Esther did too. When school started up again, I started to go and I told Mama that if Mr. Middleton wasn’t the teacher I’d be back in a little while.

She told me that it wasn’t Mr. Middleton but I had better stay, so I stayed.

            My father was clearing his ground and he had to fence it. Mr. Collison was the undertaker at Bald Knob, and he told Papa to come down there and he would give him lumber that they shipped coffins in. So he went and got a load. He was getting the nails out of it and stuck a nail in his leg just below his knee. He went on to work that afternoon and his leg was hurting so bad he had to quit and come home. When he got there Mama had to help him off the horse and to the bed. He died about two weeks later, April 29, 1907. It was so terrible. He always romped and played with Esther and me and we missed him so much. Myrtle was just a month and three days old when he died.

            We stayed awhile with Grandpa’s half-sister, then we moved on to Mr. Billy Lowery’s place. We made quarts and crates for him to harvest his berry crop the next spring. We went to the Clark School. It was over by the Sturens farms. After that we went to Uncle Carrie Thompson’s farm and then to Aunt Ida Thompson’s. Finally we ended up on Mr. Holland’s farm. This nursing home [Oakdale] is on the Holland place. I lived there until George S. Louks and I married. I was only past 15 years old, and he was 19.   In the next year we moved back in the Clark School vicinity. A.G. was born March 19, 1917. We thought we had everything then. The next year we moved on the Hallmark place.   Emogene was born September 6, 1918. We had a dry summer, didn’t make much that year. The next year we moved on to Mr. Huntley’s place. We lived there two years. J.W. was born there and then we moved on the Fraser place. We lived there two years. Hazel was born there in the spring of ’23. We moved up on Marshal Sterling’s place and George cut some logs and hauled them to a sawmill to build us a house and we finally got it done enough to move in it. We lived there for several years and finally moved down in another house and A.G. and Wanda moved there. One night the house caught fire and burned down with all A.G.’s furniture. George and A.G. rebuilt the house and they moved back in.

In all, eight children were born to the Louks. George died in 1955 and Wilma in 1987. They rest in Providence Cemetery. vvv