Brady was born: It was July 28, 1896, when our first child (Brady) was born. There was no milk for him and neither of our cows’ milk was fit for him, so Watie got on a horse and swam the river to get milk for him. He was so hungry that he took two bottles of milk, then went to sleep and slept like a pig.
Pine Grove School, 1897: The spring of 1897 I taught a select school of small children in the old Pine Grove meeting house. I had a fair-sized school, which paid me well. They were a bunch of bright children and did good work. One day Jennie taught, and some of the larger girls tried to scare the little children by telling them they saw a ghost. John Bee (the doctor’s boy) just said, “All magination, all magination.” I enjoyed this school very much.
Lower Bone Creek School, 1897-1899: The next two winters I taught the Lower Bone Creek School. The winter before a girl had taught it, and she had not been able to manage it at all. They would not mind her at all and annoyed her every way they could. I had no trouble and enjoyed it very much.
February 12, 1898, was the coldest time I ever saw. It was clear as could be, but the air was full of frost-that is, the moisture in the air was frozen into snowflakes. I had a black cow in a barn by herself, and she was covered with frost until she was white. We could hear the trees cracking in every direction. I had to go one-half mile to feed my sheep, milk the cows, and feed the stock, and then go to school. It was 10 a.m. when I got to school, but there was no one there. The fire builder had stock to feed by the school house; so he had built a fire, fed the stock, and gone home for his breakfast. In one-half hour one came; in an hour three more came; and at noon Rupert and Arlie came. So we had six that afternoon-all boys. It registered 44 degrees below zero. Most of the orchards in the valleys were killed. All of the beech trees half way up the hills were killed, and nearly all of the dogwoods also were killed. Nothing like this was ever seen here before nor since. That afternoon it got much warmer, and by Monday the snow was gone and it was warm and nice.
Measles Outbreak: Erlo Sutton came to the last day of school that spring with an awful cold, felt bad all day, and in the morning he had the measles. He gave them to everyone he saw that day, which was at least 75. One girl about 15 in my school died; also, an old lady in Berea. Jennie, Brady, and I had them at the same time. Erlo had no idea where he got them. The next spring the trustees asked me to close the school a day early to avoid the danger of spreading disease.
Farming Enterprises: That spring I cut the dead trees on a field for Ellsworth and raised a fine crop of corn; it was worth only 35 cents a bushel when I husked it. Some different from what it is now!
In the fall of 1898 I bought an interest in a cane mill with Dad Sutton and made molasses until late fall. The next fall we began to make molasses the 29th of August and finished the 6th of October. After that we never made so many, for people quit raising cane. I enjoyed it, but it was hard work. We would begin before daylight and work until 9 or 10 at night.
About this time I bought an interest in a reaper and binder with Ellsworth. We did a lot of work for three years. Then people began to quit raising so much wheat; and I sold my share to Uncle Sam Stalnaker.
The Stansburry School, 1899-1900: In the school year of 1899-1900 I taught on Spruce (the Stansburry School, and may I receive forgiveness for teaching in such a place). There was just one family which was interested in an education (George Brissey’s), and they were the only ones coming at the end of the term. Mr. Brissey said he always had to furnish all the scholars the last month of school.
I had 59 in school, and 19 of them were in the first grade. Of these one was a 16-year-old boy who was almost as heavy as I was One was a girl of 6 who wasn’t larger than a pound of soap after a hard day’s washing or a minute and it half gone.
The most of these first graders had no book but a speller! I told each of them to ask their parents to get them a First Reader, for I couldn’t teach little folks in the speller. The next morning I asked the children what their parents said. Some said their mother said she would get a reader that day; others said she would get one at the end of the week. The little girl before mentioned said that her mother said whenever they learned what there was to learn in the speller, she would get them a reader. I thought, “Poor kids; they will never see a reader.” Their father was working in Ohio. When he came home, he got them a reader. Think of a country school of eight grades and 19 in the first grade!
Now this little girl I wrote about had a sister 7 and a brother 8, and the girls were too mean to live. One day I was hearing a class when they got very much amused, and I asked what was the matter. One of the class told me that Flossie was spitting on Donie; so I told Flossie to go up and sit on my seat. She began to cry and said, “Donie was spitting on me, too.” I then told Donie to go up and sit there too, which tickled her for she thought she would have a lot of fun. But when I told her I would sit between them, she said, “No.” I tried to get her to sit on the bench, but she wouldn’t so I held her on my lap. She fought and kicked and tried to bite, but I just held her while she yelled, “Let me down mister; let me down.” I held her for about a quarter of an hour; then she sat on the seat all right. They did not come back, and the mother said I was holding the girls on my lap so she had to keep them at home. When the father cane home, he sent them back.
They were liars and had little idea of honor or right. I don’t think they were as much immoral as they were unmoral. They had a very low order of intelligence; in fact, they did not want to know much. I will give one instance of lying without cause or reason. A boy got mad at a boy behind him for putting his feet under his desk and said to him, “If you don’t keep back, I’ll cut your guts out.” I whipped him. A girl got excused to go home at recess (she was 14 years old) and stopped at a house on her way home and told them we had had an awful time up there that afternoon. She said that Okey Bird had taken a knife and ripped Russell Haddox right down his belly and then cut him right across. Of course, she was bound to have known they would find out she was lying, but she just wanted to tell a lie-probably to keep in practice, but I don’t think she needed any practice.
I had trouble with a McDonald who told that I had hurt one of his boys seriously. I sent him word to show up or shut up. When I saw him, he agreed to shut up. Of course, he didn’t, because that is not the nature of such people. But it did me no harm, for I still got schools without any trouble.
Harold was born-January 1, 1900. He was a very happy little fellow who endeared himself to everyone. Of course, we did not know that he would not be with us for only two short years. (If we could only know about these things, we might be so different.)
Lower White Oak School, 1900-1901: This next summer I bought the Parker place of Aunt Polly Kelley and moved over there that fall. I taught the Lower White Oak School the winter of 1900 and 1901. This was a rather long trip, but I had a very nice school. I had a very nice First Reader class of four. They each tried very hard to be the best in the class, so I told them one day that the next day I would tell them which was the best. The next day they were all excited about who would get the honor of being the best in the class. Of course, I was likely to get in bad; but just watch what I told then. I told them that the best one in the class was the one that studied the hardest. Everyone was happy, and each one studied his best to let no one in ahead of him. One has to try many things to get the best results.
Watie and Elzie Sutton (Jennie’s brothers): Watie came home from New York with Maggie this winter. They lived in Berea for a while, and Watie got a job with Fox and Meredith. The next summer he got a chance to buy Steve Bee’s farm by the Deep Ford. I got the money for him to pay for it. He stayed here until he went to work for Flanigan. From there he went to Doddridge County to an oil pumping job, which he kept till he retired. He was a hard-working, honest, truthful man who could be depended upon every time. He and I were great friends. Every time I go to Salem, I go to see Wilma, who is his only daughter and a very nice woman with a very nice family.
While I am writing about Watie, I will also write about Elzie, who was one of the finest boys one would want to see. He went to Salem when he was a young man and went to work for Uncle Lloyd Randolph about 1902. He then went to work in Uncle James’ store. He stayed there until Uncle James broke up, when he went to work as a carpenter. In the meantime he married Ethel Lynch. He was so industrious that he exposed himself by working in the rain to finish a job and took pneumonia, which ran into tuberculosis. He went to Colorado, where he lived for ten years. Ethel and two girls are still living in Boulder, Colorado. Ethel is very industrious, saving, and a fine manager. She is a loyal worker in the Seventh Day Baptist Church at Boulder. Bobbie (the third boy) died at Berea nearly fifty years ago.
Typhoid Malaria: In the summer of 1901 Jennie was very sick for several weeks, so that we had to have a hired girl. Watie and I raised a big patch of cane, and it was very fine. A good deal of the cane was down, and it rained nearly every day. We were wet nearly all the time while we stripped it. There was lots of typhoid fever in the neighborhood, and I felt sure I was taking it. So I went to the doctor and got some dope before we got the molasses made. We had 115 gallons.
Sabbath noon, after we got through, I took a chill, went to bed and sent for the doctor. He said I had typhoid malaria. As soon as the doctor said I had the fever, the girl went home. Jennie could just walk about the house a little, and Brady was five years old. John came down that evening and gave me a sponge bath. He said he would be back the next night, but the next night he had the fever. Ellsworth had always helped, but Arley and Aunt Mat each had the fever, so they couldn’t help. The neighbors were so afraid that they would not come near. A neighbor boy (Creed Collins) came and offered to go and get me a school (I had no school), but he would not come into the house. He got me the Upper White Oak School. I was glad for that friend.
Brady gave me the medicine and water, and Mama got us something to eat. I was up in two weeks. It was in late September, and I had to stay in bed for a few days as there was no wood to warm the house until Riley Davis (our pastor) came down and cut some wood. A friend in need is a friend indeed, so I have never forgotten Creed Collins and Riley Davis.
One more I must mention. Someone (I never found out who) went to one of my trustees and told him that I had got me another school. At the same time I was in bed with the fever Tom Bee was carrying the mail in that neighborhood, so they came to the post office to ask him. He told them I had the fever, but when the time came I would be there and teach them a good school. The first chance I got, I thanked him for it; I have thought more of him ever since. Jennie’s father had the fever, and I went there and waited on them. I think there is where I got it. There were over 30 cases of fever about Berea that summer and fall, and only one death.
Whooping Cough-Harold Died, Ashby was Born: I had a fairly nice school this winter. But it was a very sad winter, for Brady and Harold got the whooping cough. When I came home at the end of the week (January 17) Harold did not come to meet me. Jennie said he was sick, that she had had the doctor and that he said it was brain fever. Just one week later (the day Ashby was born) Harold died. That was a sad day for us. We kept Brady in another room in hopes Ashby would not catch the whooping cough. It worked, and Ashby did not get it.
We had a very nice girl (Edna Campbell) working for us. Brady would get lonesome as he could not go into the room where Jennie was; so Edna would take him up and sing to him. In fact, she taught him to sing.
This winter I boarded with a Baker near the school. They had five children in school. Mrs. Baker would help them in their studies every evening after supper. There were three in the same class, and the youngest was the best of the three. They treated me very well.
Middle Fork School: The next winter I taught on Middle Fork. The winter before a girl had taught who could do nothing with the children at all. When she said anything to the big girls, they would jump up, shove up their sleeves, and tell her to look at their muscles and that she couldn’t do anything with them. They took a B-B gun to school, put a mark on the blackboard and shot at it in time of school. I soon tamed them some and had a very nice school.
I fixed up a house on Elva and Dow’s farm and lived there as it was too far to go from home and there was a river to cross. This was a very pleasant winter for us although there was some deep snow and some cold weather. We were all well and happy. We kept the house good and warm, with the best hickory wood you ever saw; and we had plenty to eat. So what more could anyone want?
Friends in Ritchie County: Yes, and we had good friends near, which made it still nicer. I wonder if we ever appreciate friends as we should. We have always had friends, but I still think of the friends back in Ritchie-Mr. Haddix, Mr. Colgate, John Meredith, Mintee Fox, Mr. Wagoner, John Bee, all the Maxsons, Jack Hudkins, Mr. Kelly, Karl Bee, Art Brissey, Maynard Brissey-yes, and so many more that I can’t begin to name them all. But I must mention Uncle Frank and Uncle Herman, Reuben and Albert Brissey, Ves Collins. Yes, and I mustn’t forget Jess Kelley, with whom we used to hunt so much.
Sun Rise School-Avis was Born, October 30, 1903: The next winter I taught at the Sun Rise School. This was a long trip, so when Marshal Ehret wanted us to move into his house and feed his cattle and let me have hay for my horse, I agreed and moved up there. Before we could move, our only girl (Avis) was born. We had a very pleasant and profitable winter there.
I will tell one thing that happened at the house while I was at school. The stove pipe went up through the roof without any flue. One day when Jennie was alone with the baby, she saw that the roof was afire. The spring was a quarter of a mile from the house. She had a pan of dish water on the table and a rung ladder set against the side of the house. She grabbed the pan, climbed the roof, threw water on the fire, and put the most of it out. Then she took her hands and scraped the coals off the shingles. She burned her hands some, but she saved the house. This took lots of grit, but she did it. The baby was only a month or six weeks old.
We did not take our cows with us as there were several there. He promised to pay for the feed for the hens if they didn’t lay enough to pay. Snow came right away, and they didn’t lay enough to amount to anything; in fact, not a dozen all winter. He did not pay me anything as he said he had left some flour and meal, which he thought would pay for the hen feed. This was no pay at all, but I didn’t say anything as I expected to stay there some more because it was handy. I fed nearly 30 head of of cattle and calves. He came out and saw his stock just before school was out and was very well pleased with them. School went very well; but, as in most of the schools, some of the children would not try to learn.
Father Died, Fall 1903: The fall of 1903 Father came to Salem for Conference, where he and many others got ptomaine poison. He got better and came out to Berea. On the train he got worse and was never out of bed after he got to Ellsworth’s. We had two doctors, but they could do nothing. As the children were all there except Virgil and Cleo, they decided to settle the estate at once. There was no will nor debts, so each would share alike. Mother Randolph said she only wanted enough to keep her while she lived; if the children would give her 4 percent of their share per year, she would be satisfied. This was very generous of her, and I feel sure the children all appreciated it.
Ashby had Scarlet Fever, 1904: We went to Commencement at Salem in 1904 and left the children at their grandpa’s. When we came back, Ashby had the scarlet fever. He was very bad for two weeks. In fact, it did not look like he could live at all. He did not cry or make any noise except when we doctored him, which was every half hour; then he would make a very peculiar noise. When he began to get better, he was too cranky to live. When we gave him a drink in a cup, if he wanted it in a glass, he would throw it as hard as he could. If he wanted it in a cup and we brought it in a glass, the same thing happened-we never knew which one he wanted.
The first day I left the house I went a half mile to hoe my corn and stayed all day. When I got home, I found Jennie scared nearly to death. Aunt Sarah Colgate had been there and told her Ashby was deaf, for he wouldn’t notice when they called to him; in fact, he wouldn’t notice anything they said or did. I told her of course he would do nothing they wanted him to do. This did not convince her, so I stepped out in the dark, picked up a board, hit the side of the house; and he nearly jumped out of the cradle. This settled the question of his hearing. He did have a lot of trouble with his ears and nose that fall and later. I think this will be enough about Ashby for the present.
Ellsworth died in 1905: Ellsworth did not have his farm all paid for. He told me in the spring of 1904 that he could pay out by selling his stock. He was killed in the spring of 1905 logging for Zeke Bee. This changed many things for me, as we had always worked together. I would help him when he needed help, and he would help me. When Blondie was a very sick baby, we went night after night and sat up with him. Then when Ashby had scarlet fever, they came for two weeks and sat up with him. As I said before, “Never did any one have a better brother”. It was during this winter that Ashby was so very sick that he would not notice anything. We were alone for two or three days, but Ellsworth came up as soon as they heard of it and stayed all night. It was this night that he really began to improve. When something did not suit him, he cried for the first time he had made any noise for three days. Never was there a brother that stood by better than Ellsworth.
Middle Fork School: That winter I taught again at Middle Fork. A young man had taught the winter before. He had paid attention to Ada Knight, which had made the Zinn girls very angry. When school began, I found that I had a job on my hands. If I smiled at the Zinn girls, the Knight girl wanted to kill me; if I smiled at the Knight girl, the Zinn girls would try to kill me. They would not sit near each other at class. In two months they decided that Zinns and Knights were all the same to me; so we got along all okay.
One boy gave me a lot of trouble the first winter. He was easily influenced, and a big boy and girl put him up to mischief. But the second winter I got him interested. He studied hard and decided to go on to Salem, which he did and got a good education. I am always very glad when I can get a boy or girl interested in going ahead to school. I feel the school a failure if no one is inspired to go ahead along the road toward education. Every teacher should be able to fill his pupils with such a thirst for knowledge that they will never be satisfied until they have drunk deep of that fountain. I am proud of the fact that I have inspired many to go on in their studies. I am especially proud of the fact that, where no one had ever gotten a diploma from the eighth grade in one school in Braxton County, now more than a dozen have finished high school. I am proud because I know that I was directly responsible-but more of this later.
My First State Teaching Certificate, 1905: My certificate expired in 1905, and I did not try for a school. In July Mr. Mason sent me word to come up and get the Sun Rise School. He said that Port Campbell was wanting the school but that the district did not want him. Mr. Mason, Mr. Hayden, and Mr. Campbell were the trustees. Mr. Campbell could not help hire Port, so he resigned and tried to get someone else appointed who would help Mr. Hayden hire Port. Mr. Hayden said he would be glad to sign my contract. I went up to see Mr. Mason and then to Mr. Hayden. We ran him down, and he squirmed like possessed. At last he said that I could have the school, so I got a certificate. This was my first state certificate.
When Port heard I got the school, he said I could not get a certificate for I couldn’t get anything on “Grammar.” He got 65 percent on grammar, and I got 93 percent. He said the grammar didn’t suit him. It sure didn’t. Since that time Port and I have been good friends.
In spite of all handicaps, I had a fairly nice school; indeed, it was above the average, so I think.
Working in New York for Gene Jordan
Randal was Born: On February 3, 1906, our fourth son (Randal) was born. He was a delicate baby; soon after we got to New York he had a serious case of pneumonia. We were lucky to get a very fine doctor for children (Dr. Loughbead), who fixed a formula for feeding him, and he did much better on it. He was a Seventh Day Baptist at Nile, and we were very lucky that we got him.
We sold some of our household goods and left some. Very little of what we left was to be found when we got back. We took some bedding with us, but little else. The weather was fine, and we had a very nice trip. A livery man took us from Cuba (seven miles) to Gene’s. We stayed there for over a month before they could get our house ready. We had a fairly comfortable house to live in. We put in several potatoes and some corn. Gene drilled a gas well near our house, but it was not much good. Soon after this, he got a contract to drill several wells in Pennsylvania. The boys went down there with him.
He bought a new horse and came up to start harvest. When he tried to work the horse, it proved to be an awful kicker. He went back and told me to work her and they would come back and help me put the hay up when I got a lot of it cut down. They came back and put up 35 acres. He had 30 acres he wanted to get put up on the shares. I told him Brady and I could put it up (Brady was nearly 10 years old). We put the 30 acres up, for which I think Brady got about $7. This wasn’t much, but it was dear gain, and it paid Gene very well.
In the early fall Gene’s family went down to Pennsylvania. We spent the winter in their home so we would have a warmer house and be closer to the feeding and milking. We had a fine lot of winter apples. I had so much work to do and no help that I only got a start when 8 inches of snow came (the 8th of October). It only lasted a day or two, when I went on with the picking. Before I got them picked, we had hard freezing. I would just wait till they thawed out and go on picking. I finally got them all in the cellar, and we had apples till after the middle of July. Two years later the tenant did not get the apples picked till after a freeze and lost them all.
The first summer we were there, Brady caught 25 woodchucks. He would hide near their den, wait till they got away from it, then beat them to it and get them. There are a great many woodchucks in New York.
Brady had a lot of trouble in school. Some of the larger boys would beat up on him, and the teacher would just laugh at him. I, or we, got tired of this (he was having a headache all the time) and took him out of school. The teacher reported him, and the truant officer came. I was prepared for trouble, but he said that the former teacher, who lived in the district, told him the way Brady was treated and said she would not send him a day. A neighbor told him it was a shame the way he was treated and that the trustee said he told one of the boys to let Brady alone, but the boy said he would do as he pleased and he couldn’t help it. The teacher denied this, but the officer told her if she wouldn’t take care of the children he wouldn’t make them come. So he said he would get his stepson, who was a doctor, to give him an excuse. The teacher tried again, but the officer paid no attention. He told her he didn’t do his work twice.
Trading a Kicking Horse: I spoke of a horse that could kick. We called her Maud, and she could kick! She took it by spells. Sometimes she would work for several days without kicking any; then she would kick things all to pieces for a few days. Oh, she was a honey! I saw a man in Nile who wanted to trade for her. I told him she would kick some but that I had worked her at everything I tried but one and that was plowing. He wanted to know what she did. I told him she kicked, ran back, acted the fool, and did everything but plow but if we didn’t trade, I would plow her. We traded even, and he had new shoes put on the horse I got. The blacksmith where we traded told me that the man I traded with said he wouldn’t take less than $125 for her. There was a number by, and he thought he would have some fun at my expense. I just looked at him and said if she had suited me I would not have taken less than that, but she did not suit me so I let her go. The crowd roared. I never saw the man I traded with again, but I learned he was a regular horse trader so I presume he came out all right. The horse I got was a fine worker but very slow, so I came out all right, thank goodness,
Ashby and Avis: The first summer we were at Gene’s, Ashby and Avis went with me up there (Ashby was 4 and Avis was 2). When I got the team ready to go to work, I told them to run on home, which was one-fourth mile away. It was thundering, and they were afraid; so Cleo went along. Avis said, “We’s too good for thunder to hurt us, ain’t we, Auntie?” They were very good just then.
This next story was told by a doctor. He asked Cleo about her little children. She said she had no little children; they were all grown up. Then he told her that he was going by there the year before when he saw two little children playing in a swamp and he said to them, “What are you doing, little children?” The boy said, “We are catching bullfrogs.” Then the little girl piped up, “You mustn’t say that, Ippie; you must say cow frog.” Cleo knew who they were, for Avis always said “Ippie.”
Ashby had a lot of trouble with a gobbler that Cleo had. He could make it too much for Ashby. Gene had a collie pup he called Romulus which thought a lot of Ashby. Whenever the turkey would see Ashby, he would jump on him, and Ashby would say, “Come on here, Romulus, he’s coming.” Romulus would right off and run the turkey away. As soon as the turkey saw the dog was gone, back he would come; and the same talk would happen again, “Come on back here; he is coming again.” He never called for any of us to help, and the dog always ran the turkey away.
Back to West Virginia, Fall 1907
It was not a very successful year. The cows Gene bought did not prove to be fresh in the spring, as the man he bought them of said they would. We did not get much milk (which is the chief money crop in that neighborhood). Jennie was sick most of the summer and fall, and things did not look good for the future. Therefore we decided to come back to West Virginia, which we did in the fall of 1907. I sold the team and some other stuff to the renter Gene got to take our place. Gene took the man’s note for the team. For the rest of the things I got some money, a cheap railroad ticket, and a little surplus which he promised to send-but of course he never did. On the whole I made a good deal with the man, so I never worried about the unpaid balance.
Coon Hunting before We Left New York: The renter said he had a good coon dog, so Gene and the boys and I went out before we left. We got a coon in a little while, and later we treed another in a slump of trees. We decided to watch it. As it began to get daylight, we decided the coon had gotten away, so we started home. But the dog struck a track right away and in a few moments treed. Gene said he saw one and shot it out. I told him to let me have the gun, and I shot another one. This made us three coons in one night, which we thought was quite good.
We stayed in a hotel the first night in Pittsburgh. The next evening Elva met us at Pennsboro with a wagon. We lived in a house on Uncle Elisha’s farm, where he had lived for many years. I taught the Upper Otter Slide school. This was a very pleasant school with one exception. Tom Gribble got mad at me about his son Paulie and took him out of school. He raised a fuss about my being partial toward my children. I called the trustees in and demanded a hearing. They failed to get Tom to come, so they came in and told the school that there was nothing to what he was telling so I let it go. The trustees were Al Kelley, Tom Ward, and I’ve forgotten the other one. Tom Gribble objected to Ashby’s going as he wasn’t quite 6 (Tom sent his children before they were 5, and Ashby was there once).
More about Ashby and Avis: As I have already said, Ashby did not go to school the latter part of December and until January 24. One cold day Jennie got to wondering what the two were doing. She found them playing meeting. Ashby was the leader, and he told Avis to get up and speak. She said, “I don’t know what to say.” He told her to get up and say, “The Lord has gone from me, and the crows are carrying my chickens away.” How quickly children can learn to imitate older people!
Avis was very successful in getting her way with children, but Ashby had a fine way to get her to do as he wanted her to. He would say, “Avis, if you don’t do this, I won’t watch the snakes off of you.” She would always say, “I’ll do it, Ippie, if you’ll watch the snakes off of me.” She feared snakes very much and was certain that Ashby could keep them off of her. Children are so trusting, but they soon learn to doubt us for we fail to do as we say exactly all the time.
Randal Died: We were to move into Pa Sutton’s house in Berea as soon as school was out. Aunt Rachel had not moved out yet, so we had to wait a few days. I was working for Dow and had just gotten back to work after dinner when we heard Jennie calling that Randal (our baby of two years) was dying. She had carried him for about one-half mile. He was dead. Jennie thought he had choked to death, but he hadn’t. He had taken some kind of fit or spasm and died without a struggle. Had he choked, he would have struggled for breath and his face would have turned black, none of which happened. He had never been strong. We were glad he went without suffering rather than being sick and suffering for weeks. It was a terrible blow to us, especially to Jennie. Although she did not talk much about it, I doubt if she really got over it until after the birth of Elmo. Even now it is a sad thing to write about, so I will write no more about it.
A Big Bass: We moved to Berea and raised a garden down at the Polly Place as well as in Berea. One day Brady and I were down there working in the garden when Brady got tired and wanted to go down to the river. He said he heard a big fish on the riffle. I told him to go on as he had worked very well, and I thought he was tired. As soon as he got down there, he began to holler, “Come down here quick! There’s a big fish here.” I knew there was no big fish that we could catch, but I went to please the kid. When I got there, what do you suppose I found-a bass one-half as long as your arm in a hole of water 10 feet long, 3 feet wide, and 6 inches deep, with very shallow water on each side.
I told Brady to drive him up to the upper end where I had put a cross tie so he couldn’t get away, and I would kill him with a club. I didn’t think he would go below, but he seemed to be afraid of me and only came part way. All at once he went by Brady on the dead run. I yelled at him, “Now you let him get away.” The water was so shallow that he had to turn on his side and flop. Brady rushed for it and hit it on the head with all his might. That was the end of the bass! It was 18 3/4 inches and weighed 3 lbs. 14 oz. and made more than we could all eat in a meal.
A Home in Berea; Lower Room at Berea School: That fall I sold the Polly Place and bought the house and lots where we lived in Berea. I got the lower room to teach at Berea, and Ernest Campbell was principal. I did not ask for a place at Berea. When the one they gave the lower room to would not teach, I got it and had a very nice time. I had to teach the first five grades as Ernest would only teach three. He would not try to keep his boys from running over those in my room. One day at noon my room and some of the upper room were playing trim a Christmas tree when Orin Hammond came down and began to tear it up. Then Hose Brake made for him, and they had a time. Orin never bothered my kids again.
I had a bunch of girls from 8 to 10 who were said to be so badly spoiled that they could hardly be controlled. I found them as good students and as nice to get along with as one could ask. They were Guerney Brake, Jessie Hayhurst, May Douglas, Darla Bee and some others. They would do anything I wanted them to do. They each wanted to do more than the others. This winter Guerney Brake came to school the first day with the mumps. We all had them but me, and I still have not had them. Brady had them very hard, for he took a backset on them.
Auburn School, 1909: The summer of 1909 I taught a school for advanced scholars in Auburn. I had a large school, which paid me quite well. I had 40 students. I did so well with the lower room that they gave me the principal’s place the next winter. This was a much harder job, but I got along fairly well. I got the ill will of Tom Jackson and Ell Douglas, which caused me a considerable trouble.
The Grange: About 1908 they organized a Grange, which did a lot of good for a few years. Two years we had a Farmers’ Institute with fine speakers from other parts of the state. This was very fine. Then for two falls we had a Farmers’ Picnic with fine speakers. The fall of 1912 we had five or six of the best speakers in Ritchie and one (a very able speaker) from another section. There were hundreds of people there, and it was a very successful affair. I was lecturer and had charge of the program, and I think I had a small part in its success. We tried to start a Grange store. We bought a suitable building and lumber to fix it up, but we failed to find a manager. We sold the property, lumber and all so that we did not lose anything. Mr. Wagoner moved away, we went to Salem, and the Grange died.
Building onto our Home: After finishing my school at Auburn, I decided to add another story to my house as it was a one-story house. I took some of the ceiling and upper floor from the Polly House, which I still owned. This was red oak and hard maple, very fine, tongued and grooved. I also bought some fine dressed lumber at a sale very cheap. This way I was able to have a good two-story house.