Early memories of Shelby County
Authored by Rev. Marcus Lemon Gray (b.1857 – d.1940)
Brookvale Bubbles #1
31 July 1912
Brookvale Camp-Meeting notes
All the tents are on the ground having come in from Kansas City last week, and are now being erected. They make a pretty White City. The boarding tent is twenty feet wide and forty feet in length. It is in charge of three young men, from Mooresville, Mo., all of them unmarried, Mr. Jasper Glenn, Mr. John Jones and Mr. Floyd Fiske.
Mr. Floyd W. Rollins, of Moberly, is here getting things in tune, and he is sure to strike concert pitch. Let all the singers from far and near come and help out. He wants at least a hundred singers.
Rev. Edward C. Swann and family have packed their belongings at New Franklin, and are now in Shelby ready for the camp at Brookvale. Dr. Swann knows how to say things smooth as the notes of a flute, and strong like the crashing of the thunders in the hills. Hear him if it kills you.
Mr. Will Benson, of Mooresville, Mo., came down Monday in his five passenger Reo to remain over for the entire two weeks of the meeting. Rev. M. L. Gray and wife, of Chillicothe, and Mr. John Jones and Mr. Floyd Fiske came with Mr. Benson in his car.
Be sure to register your name and address at the Camp-meeting. A large book for registration has been provided. If you know how to write your name scratch it down in the big book!
Mr. A. W. Holmes, of Shelbina, will be over one day in the early part of the meeting to take a photograph of the large tent, and the folks who are there.
Last winter Mr. Theo. Feely put up a big lot of ice to help keep the people cool out on the grounds. Nothing stronger than ice water!
If you want your old nag fed while you are out there, Mr. Geo. Livermore will attend to him for you.
The corn is laid by, the oats have been cut, the timothy and clover are in the stack; now let us take a few days and go to the Camp-meeting. You have heard a good many preachers in your day, but possibly you have never heard Rev. Edward C. Swann. You will know him when this meeting is over. He will be on your map, and you can cut that in the bark of your tree.
The first service of the meeting will be at eleven o=clock Friday morning, August 2nd, 1912.
Brookvale Bubbles #2
25 APRIL 1917
Mr. Theo. W. Feely went to Kansas City recently and bought him a carload of cattle. He is doing his part in getting ready to help feed the United States and the rest of the world.
Mr. Earn McKillip is steadily recovering from the accident which befell him some months ago. He and his brother Frank are among the good farmers of this neighborhood.
Mr. David Weems has been somewhat on the sick list for some weeks past, but he is better now, and we hope for his entire recovery. He is one of our good citizens.
Mr. Albert Copenhaver is helping to keep Kirby on the map and he is doing a thriving business. Such men are a great help to the country.
Mr. John Jarrell is on the job of keeping the roads in good shape in this neck of the woods, and he is doing the job well.
There are three big fish at the Weems home which the girls have never caught, and now is the time to go fishing.
Miss Bessie Feely is teaching a fine school at the Robison school house. She is destined to become a great teacher if she is not married too soon.
Mr. O. W. Gay is trying his hand at Brookvale farm. He says it is a new experience with him to work two weeks with a Methodist preacher and make usre of Sunday school words only. It can truly be said however, that even Rev. W. O. Medley would give him a grade of 100.
Did you ever try your hand at fixing up a farm? It is a bigger job than fighting the Germans. It is even slower than getting Hank married at Lentner.
This writer has been fixing fences of late by way of diversion and amusement. This experience is somewhat new to him in these latter days. He has worked on all sorts of fences, ecclesiastical, political, rail and wire. He knows now what it is to knock out staples rusted into hard oak pots. When Thos. J. Edmonds drove those staples some years ago he must have driven them through the pots and clinched them on the other side.
Did you ever have any experience with fence rows? Two years ago I persuaded Shelby Feely to cut down some thrifty sprouts along the fences. I felt good over the result, the enemy had been routed. But it was not long till here came the counter attack. The sprouts multiplied by squads and battalions. The way to go at the matter right is to mine the whole thing and blow it out with dynamite.
Did you ever see greenhorns try to make concrete gate posts? The first thing to do is to wait till the mud is hub deep to haul out the gravel. In this case the team will have occasion to remember the event. Then make your form and nail it very lightly, as rock, sand and cement are all light stuff, and when mixed with water will stay almost anywhere it wants to. Then take off the form early to see if the stuff will stand and be hitched. This recipe is guaranteed to work the workers to a finish and then some more.
Did you ever try your hand as a tenderfoot in raising a barn with jack screws? A barn is a beauty when its lower legs give out and then it goes to bowing and scraping to you when you go out into the lot to attend to your feeding. In getting at the remedy the first thing to do is to become gopher or dig in like a French soldier and get a place to set your jack which is supposed to be a kicker. Then dismiss your dignity and sit down on the ground regardless of mud or water. Take an iron rod, lean forward Japanese fashion, attach the rod to one of the jack=s eyes, get down lower till your back is broken forwards and then pull back till your back is broken backwards. Repeat this evolutionary movement for five hundred times and then father up the fragments that are left of you, and your barn is up and on its dignity. I might add that you will have the next three months to recover your normal self.
Did you ever take an hour off to study some of Nature=s doings? One evening around the farm fireside at Brookvale I heard a man say that he heard another man say that once he was passing a pond and there on the bank sat a big frog and then he unloaded a mouthful of tobacco juice in the frog=s eyes. The frog then took one hand and wiped the juice from one eye and afterwards the other hand and wiped the juice from the other eye. No comments!
But here are some things I can vouch for. At Brookvale is a large elm tree and at about twelve feet from the ground a large limb turns back to the ground, and three good sized elms are growing from this reset. At another place nearby a giant cottonwood tree has grown out between the roots of two large oak trees. All three trees are living. Another unusual thing: A black oak tree or water oak is ordinarily bushy with limbs near the ground. At Brookvale there is a water oak tree which runs up thirty feet without a branch, and then some graceful limbs appear. This is possibly explained by the fact that a large grape vine has taken possession of the lower part of the tree. Many people admired this beautiful tree at the time of the Brookvale camp meeting. The clinging vine has evidently added grace and beauty to the tree. I commend this thought to Hank at Lentner.
In passing over the Brookvale campground I noticed one of the tent stakes which helped to hold down Miss Mamie Allen=s tent. The stake is standing where it was driven four years ago and more.
The Shelbyville girls who were chaperoned by Mr. Belle Muldrow will doubtless recall the night when Jasper Glenn and John Jones pulled off the famous dog fight. The grass grows green where Mrs. Muldrow=s tent stood. Mr. Glenn now lives in Mooresville, and like Howard Weems, is still a lonely pilgrim.
I looked over the ground where Bro. Jas. Edelen=s tent stood and thought of the happy tenting days gone by.
Just across the brook is where the big engine furnished by Mr. Earn and Frank McKillip stood and furnished electric light for the tented Assembly. In my dream of the day I heard the Gentle trained voice of Miss Goldie Coard and many others.
Some will recall Mr. Will Benson of Mooresville who ran the Reo Brookvale car. Since then he has added largely to his possessions, a wife and child, and lives at Barnard, Mo. He set a good example for Ralph Weems.
Many will recall the strong, helpful sermons which were preached by Rev. Edward C. Swann at the time of the Brookvale camp meeting. He is now in Texas and one of the good men of his day.
I wish I could speak of many more, but I must refrain and stop right here.
Brookvale Bubbles #3
5 December 1917
Farmers Club has been organized at Robison school house with Willis J. McCracken, president; Theo, W, Feely, vice president, and Roy Hatcher, secretary-treasurer. Quite a number have enrolled as members and others will be taken in. They will meet every two weeks and discuss some important farm topic. It is a good idea and the club will grow.
The Weems Buick tempted me away from Forest Grove Sunday school Sunday morning, and with George Weems at the wheel he soon had his mother and myself at the hospitable home of Mr. Thos, J, Edmonds. The dinner that Mrs. Edmonds and Miss Burdette put up would have made Brother Bostwick=s mouth water. Mr. Tom Freeman and his wife got there too late.
This writer is indebted to Mr. Thos. J. Edmonds for a visit last Sunday to Patton cemetery near Hagers Grove. Many of the old pioneers of Shelby county are buried there, among them Matthew Patton and his wife, Uncle Bobbie Graham and his wife, S. M. Brewington, E. L. Gray, my father, and many others. Mr. Alex Burnett has recently had this cemetery fenced and cleaned off, and he deserves great credit for so doing.
I believe it is said that Sir Isaac Newton had something to do with the law of gravity, but it remained for Mr. O. W. Gay, who has charge of Brookvale farm, to discover that when a load of hay drops the center of gravity just outside the wagon wheels, over goes the load of hay in the big road with himself hung on the McKillip wire fence! I want Brother Medley to go out and hear his confession. Mr. Frank McKillip came along in time to tell Ollie to take his name off of the Farmers Club.
I happen to know a young man who spent many of the years of his life in the Bacon Chapel neighborhood. He has always had the esteem and respect of those who knew him. He not only stood well in his neighborhood, but he had the high esteen of his wide circle of kinsfolk, and I consider this an unusual compliment. At present he is an agent of the United States Government at Lentner on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railway, and he is filling the bill to a tyty. But why should I go all around the barn in this general way to describe this honorable gentleman and brother. When I say he is Hank everybody in Northeast Missouri knows who I mean. I know he is a good man because he read a book that I wrote and later spoke well of it. Whenever a man reads an author=s book, that fact alone fixes that man forever in the high esteem of said author. So Hank and I are friends forever. The thing, however, that I do not understand is how he finds out so promptly when I drop down into Shelby county. This time he took a shot at me before I got turned around or up out of the trench. It seems that his nerves will not stand hitched to the mere mention of a V. Now the bachelor boys over in the Brookvale neighborhood say that considering the long number of years that they have been guilty bachelor criminals they would not think of turning over to a preacher anything less than a formula looking something like this: X plus X plus V, and then they would be out easy. Some day Hank is going to listen to Uncle Tom Moore discoursing eloquently about that graceful tree and clinging vine so dependent, and I am sure that this one last step will send Hank to Congress!
Brookvale Bubbles #4
27 March 1918
I believe that I promised my readers that I would spin a yarn about the dreamy fancies of the people of Shelby county, Mo. I suppose that everyone will understand that what is true of these Shelby folks is more or less true in every country of the world.
Do you remember when you first read the Arabian Nights? Do you recall how you roamed around over housetops and tree tops, over hills and mountains, over lakes and oceans, up around the moon, and out among the stars, and then come back to your little home on the hillside? It was certainly great and you found out for the first time what your imagination could do for you. It made a fellow rich without his knowing it.
ADid you ever read Mark Twain=s Innocents Abroad?@ Dr. Phil Dimmitt, one of the leading physicians of Shelbyville, asked me one day when I was a young student in the Shelbyville seminary, and I had to confess that I had been too busy out on the farm feeding hogs and cattle to learn anything about Mark Twain or any other twain.
AWell, my son,@ Mr. Dimmitt went on kindly to tell me, AYou know that Mark Twain was born some years ago in a little town called Florida close by down here in Monroe county, and that he spend his early life in Hannibal, Mo. The people up here in Shelby County are reading Mark Twain=s Innocents Abroad, and I would advise you to read it.@
I thanked Dr. Dimmitt for introducing me to Mr. Mark Twain and I went away thinking that the name of the book was AInnocence Abroad,@ and it has brought a smile to my face many a time since when I have thought about it. Mark Twain helped to teach the Shelby folks about dreamy fancies and something about how to let the imagination spread its wings and fly off into strange worlds. Fact and law are iron cages, but the dreamy fancies of the imagination can so beflower these iron cages that they lose their ugly hardness and become things of winged beauty. And this explains one of the things to be found in these Brookvale Tales, in many cases it will be hard to tell where facet ceases to be and where fancy spins the rest of the story. Is this lawful or even right? I think so. The people who live in Milton=s AParadise Lost@ are just as well known as the men about whom Julius Caesar writes in his commentaries.
Speaking of Mark Twain again, ADid you ever notice,@ said Mr. J. J. Hewitt, one of the bankers of Shelbyville, the other day, AThat the people of Hannibal made a great mistake when they erected that great monument in Riverside Park to Mark Twain?@
AWell, I do not know that I have,@ I replied, wondering why he asked the question. AWhy?@ AWhy easy enough,@ he said and then went on, AWhen Mark Twain was living he knew that Shelby county was the greatest county on earth or on the moon, and was always sorry that he had not been born in Shelby county. How those lunies down there at Hannibal when they erected that noble bronze of Mark Twain they set his face to the East instead of West toward Shelby county as Mark himself told them to do!@
Now I will tell of the building of the log house where nine hundred and ninety-nine angels and ghosts lived all at one time. This log house was built eight miles almost due west of Shelbyville, Mo., and along about 1850. About that time Mr. Cravens came out from Pennsylvania and having entered a section of land he went into the woods out there west of Shelbyville and cut down about a hundred great big white oak trees. These logs he cut into certain lengths and then took what was called a broadax and hewed the logs into something of a flat shape. Then he called in eight or ten of the widely scattered neighbors and had what they called in those days Aa house raising.@ This was a big day and hard work. With axes they but big notches at the ends of the logs and then raised them on top of one another until they got the house as high as they wanted it. As the house got higher it was a job to get the heavy logs up to their places. At the top they put what they called a Aplate sill,@ which was to support the rafters. This was all done without any blue prints except as one of the sturdy pioneers would get a skinned shin and leave his flesh blue. Then Mr. Cravens and his friends went to the woods and cut down some young trees called saplings and trimmed them up for rafters on the house. These saplings they took up the plate sills and placed them opposite one another leaning over and meeting at the top. There were no sawmills in those days so they went out and cut a big tree and raised it up off the ground about eight feet. Then one man climbed up on top of the log and another man stood down under the log and the two worked what was called a ripsaw. And so they cut the lumber to nail on the rafters to hold the shingles. No, I am mistaken, they had no shingles.
AWell, what sort of outlandish times did those people live in,@ inquired little William Graham, one of our cousins from St. Louis where they had great big fine city houses.
ANever mind those outlandish times,@ I said in reply, AThose men knew what they had to do and they knew how to do it.@
AIf they did not have shingles,@ little William asked quite curiously, AHow did they cover that log house?@
That was a big job and I now go on to tell about it. Mr. Cravens went out into the woods out there on Graham=s branch to find a great big tree, bigger than any of the others. When he found this great big oak tree he but it down and then he and another man sawed it into about six foot lengths. Then he took a maul and iron wedge and split this big log wide open. My, it was a sight to see this fresh wood as it came fresh from the Creator=s hand. Then Mr. Cravens ended up these oak timbers and took what he called a frow and rived out his boards to cover his house. And they made a good roof, turning even a heavy rain. My, how I have heard the rain many a time pattering down on that old roof!
AHow did they weatherboard that log house?@ little William of St. Louis ventured to ask.
AWell, they did not have any boards to make weatherboarding,@ I answered, ASo they drove long chunks of wood in between the logs and then chinked it with mortar, and so they had a warm house.@
ADid they heat the house with a furnace?@ Asked the little St. Louis cousin.
AYes, William,@ I said, AThey made a furnace of their own kind, but it was not like the sort you have in St. Louis.@
This is the way it was done. They cut a big hole through the logs at the east end of the house and started on the inside of the floor with bricks, and built up out through the big hold and up outside up above the roof. This gave Mr. Cravens his fireplace and chimney. The old fireplace, the old fireplace, How dear its memories still!
Then Mr. Cravens put down an oak floor and built his stairway so he could get upstairs. His stairway was an old ladder that reached up through a hole in the second floor. I must tell you about that old ladder later.
This log house had only one door and it was on the south side. Mr. Cravens wanted to keep the wolves and bears out at night while he slept so he fastened this door on the inside with a wooden latch, and then bored a hole through the board so that a leather string could be taken through the outside. Many a time I have pulled this latchstring to get in the house. Big trees stood in the yard and the woods extended for miles up directions it was miles away to another house. So Mr. Cravens built this log house and so it stood in the dense woods with big trees all around it.
I see that I am going to have to save another Brookvale Tale to tell about the hundreds of angels and ghosts which were sometimes seen in and about this log house in the tree tops.
Brookvale Bubbles #5
3 APRIL 1918
It will be necessary now to tell something more in particular about the farm where the log house was built and about the neighborhood and the neighbors. There was a log barn with a shed built up to it and a log corncrib and these were south of the house a few hundred yards. The old orchard was between the house and the barn. In front of the house to the west stood an old apple tree and near that tree was what was called the stileblock. In those days women rode horseback a great deal and they used a side-saddle instead of riding astride as many women do now. So when company came the woman had to have a place to get down off of the horse, and this wooden platform was built for that purpose and it was called a stileblock.
AWe're not those very backward people and very backward days?@ inquired little cousin William Graham from St. Louis.
AIt is very natural for you to think so,@ was the answer given to this fine young city cousin, Abut those early pioneers had to suit their actions to their needs. What they did was the sensible thing for their times and can we in modern times do any better than that? Socrates at Athens never saw an iron plow and yet the world thinks of him as a great man. My son, great men can be made even without all the so-called up-to-date things. Every age of the world has been up to its own date. Let us not think that because people did things very differently back yonder a few years ago that they were backward and ignorant folks. Good sense in a pioneer should not be considered out of date.@
AI have not thought of it in that way,@ said William thoughtfully, and then he added, AI know this much, that I like to come up from St. Louis to Shelby County and out here to the farm where I see so many things which are strange to me. And such good things to eat!
There was a log smokehouse in the yard at the northeast corner. Back of this smokehouse was the ash hopper, but I cannot stop to tell about that product of pioneer life just now. But I must tell you about the smoke-house. It was used for storing the yearly supply of meat. In the winter when the hogs were killed the big hams and shoulders and sides were salted down in the big boxes in this house and then early in the spring this meat was all taken up and hung up to be smoked with a ship-fire to make the meat keep, and so that it would be good and sweet. This smokehouse was also often inhabited by rats, minks, possums and ghosts. It was always uncertain about going in there of dark nights. One night a boy got in there and got into a scuffle with something and when he came out a lot of his hair had been pulled out and one ear was bleeding badly.
Then there were two other houses down towards Salt River on the farm and these houses were occupied by families to whom Mr. Bardwell rented land. All these were log houses also. Sometimes these houses would stand vacant for a time and then look out for ghosts. At such times it was dangerous to be around.
One of the nearest neighbors was Mr. Robert Graham, who lived about a quarter of a miles east of the log house concerning which you have been reading. Mr. Graham and his family came in an early day from North Ireland, county Tyrone, just south of Londonderry. He built his log house on a beautiful elevation overlooking to the south of him the broad and beautiful Salt River valley. His wife=s name was Mary and she was Irish too. One son was named William and another was John. They said that when John was crossing the Atlantic ocean coming to America that they tried to make him eat cornbread, but his young Irish soul and stomach went into rebellion against it. And he never would eat it. One of the daughters they called Isabella, one Nancy and another Jane. You want to give special notice that I have mentioned the name of this Scotch-Irish girl, Jane. You will hear from her as these Brookvale Tales unfold.
A good sized stream of water took its rise up towards Hagers Grove about four miles northwest, and coming down through the timber near Mr. Bardwell=s log house and further on past Mr. Robert Graham=s till it finally lost itself on the wide bottom of Salt River. This stream of water goes into history by the name of Graham=s branch and it was named for Mr. Robert Graham. One of the things that makes Graham=s branch forever famous is that when he made up his mind to come to America from North Ireland, he sent over to Scotland where his ancestors had come from for a whole ship load of Tam O= Shanter=s witches and ghosts, and all these he brought with him and turned them loose up and down Graham=s branch. In addition to these Tam O= Shanter ghosts and witches a big family of Kirk-Alloway bogles had come along. When Mark Twain=s ghosts and witches down at Hannibal heard about these high blooded and pedigreed ghosts and witches from the banks of Doon in Scotland they came up one night to Graham=s Branch to visit the new comers. Finally one of Bobbie Burn=s bogles married one Miss Fancy who belong to Mark Twain=s family, and by this marriage a Hoblegobledus was born, and he was awful. Later they all married among themselves and this explains why there were so many angels and ghosts and witches and bogles and hoblegobleduses out on Graham=s Branch west of Shelbyville.
Brookvale Bubbles #6
10 April 1918
This time I think I am to tell about hundreds of angels and ghosts which were seen one and more times at the log house eight miles west of Shelbyville, Mo. But I must tell you first about Mr. Cravens, the man who built this log house and another man who came to Missouri from near Louisville, Ky.
Mr. Cravens lived in this log house for a few years after he had built it, but finally he got uneasy and dissatisfied. He lived by himself and sometimes of very dark nights he would hear some unusual noises in the loft upstairs. Once he got so restless that he climbed up his ladder and put his head up through the hold in the second floor to see what was going on. Way back in one of the dark corners up there he saw something moving around and it seemed to have two firey eyes. That was enough for Mr. Cravens and he decided at once that he would sell his farm the first good chance he had.
Now it so happened that over in Nelson county, Ky., there lived a farmer who had recently married a young girl from Lebanon, Ky., and his name was Emanuel Bardwell. There in Kentucky where he lived the prices on land were high, so he and his wife, Martha, said they would leave their old Kentucky home and try their future in Missouri. So Mr. Bardwell came first to look at the country and see what he thought about it. He left Louisville, Ky., on a steamboat and went down the Ohio river to Cairo and then came up the Mississippi river to St. Louis and on up to Hannibal, Mark Twain=s town. Mr. Bardwell, however, had more important business than to fool away time just then on Mark Twain. He was hunting for a farm and a home and he meant business. There were no railroads in those days, but he found a stage coach which was going west to Shelbyville. Some of Mrs. Bardwell=s kinfolks had but recently come out from county Tyrone, North Ireland, and they had settled on land just a few miles west of Shelbyville. While Emanuel Bardwell was out there visiting with these uncles and cousins he happened to meet Mr. Cravens. When Mr. Cravens found out that Mr. Bardwell wanted to buy a farm it was not long till the trade was made, and the price was $1.25 and acre for six hundred and forty acres.
It was not long till Emanuel and Martha were living in the log house out there in the wilderness. They had both lived in an old settled state with large brick houses and good turnpike roads and pleasant social relations. Now all at once they felt that they were almost but off from civilization. But they had brave hearts and while they knew
The first year some of the land was cleared of timber and some rail fences were built around the prairie fields where wild cattle and deer had freely roamed.
Mr. And Mrs. Bardwell brought a sorrow with them from their old home back in Kentucky because it was on a Kentucky hillside that they had buried their first born child. Now they could not even go to see the little mound that covered their baby forever gone.
It had been a bright May day on the farm and everything promised well for a good crop. Emanuel had worked hard all day and when night came he was pretty well tired out. In relating the things now about to happen I am very sure that I am venturing uncertain ground. Here is one thing that I wish every man could know, and that is this: Every hard fact has a leaden leg which reaches downward and a light wing which reaches upward. The trouble with most people is that they see only the leaden leg of the hard fact, and they never look higher to see the light wing. Such matter of fact folks are unfortunate and are very much like an iron man with iron ears and iron eyes. To them everything is mathematical and scientific and has hard as iron. Fancy and imagination and angels and ghosts are impossible things. But God never created the human mind that way and even the iron man dreams dreams, though he is slow to admit it.
That clear May night, the moon high in the heavens, Martha was taken sick. This sickness was not unexpected. Mr. Bardwell hurried over to one of the neighbor=s and sent him galloping to Shelbyville for Dr. Priest. When Dr. Priest got to the log house in the woods Martha was going down into the deep dark valley of suffering. For hours she struggled and lingered between life and death. A black blackness settled over her soul. Was it to be that her second born child should come into life as she was giving up her own? But it so happened that just as the Gates of Paradise were opened for the incoming of the newborn child hundreds of angels came to the tree tops on that beautiful moonlight night. With outspread wings they circled about the roof of the log house. Presently one of the angels drew the latchstring and opened the door when three of the angels came in and gave their blessing to Emanuel and Martha and the babe. Then they all went away that May moonlight night back into Paradise. When the angels were gone a sudden black storm came up and hundreds of ghosts came to the log house. Some of them went under the house and some went into the loft above. Others of them went into the barn Strange to say some of these ghosts were black and very ugly. One of these black ghosts said he wanted to snatch the baby away and take him to a dark cave nearby. Then for a time these ghosts all left and Emanuel and Martha were happy.
Brookvale Bubbles #7
17 APRIL 1918
It is now time to relate something further about Mr. Emanuel Bardwell and his wife, Martha. It was something like a year after they had come to Shelby county, Mo., and out to the log house on the farm till they really began to feel at home. The change from and old settled state like Kentucky to Missouri which was then almost a wilderness was a trying experience. But they came to make the best of it and so they did. They did not have many things in the house. There was no carpet on the floor and there was no stove with which to cook. There was no well or cistern about the house or yard. They had no lamp of any kind and there was not even a heating stove. They had a wooden frame for supporting a feather bed and this they called a bedstead. Under this bedstead they had a much smaller bed which was called a trundle-bed. At night this smaller bed was pulled out from under the big one and in this trundle-bed the children slept. You see they did not have separate rooms for different members of the family, so they had to fix for big and little to live in one room. Martha cooked in a skillet on the hearth and with pots hung on an iron rod in the fireplace. The old fireplace really lighted the house. When any other light was used they lighted a candle. When Martha wanted a bucket of water she went to Graham=s branch about a quarter or a mile away for it.
About this time Miss Jennie Bailey, another cousin from St. Louis, came up to the Bardwell home for a visit and it looked as if she never would get done asking questions about the strange things which she saw. Miss Jennie belonged to one of the old French families in St. Louis and she had a good French manners. She knew that it was not polite for her to be asking too many questions about things, but she just had to ask about some things which seemed to her to be so odd.
ACan people be really happy in a log house like this?@ cousin Jennie finally ventured to ask Mr. Bardwell, and she was almost afraid to ask him.
Emanuel answered that he thought that much depended upon the people who lived in the house. As for himself it had long been his desire to own a good farm and have a home where he could bring up his children and have them under his influence for at least several years of their early life. As a young man he himself had spent some years in Louisville, Ky., and he was not a stranger to life in a city. He wanted to own his wife and children as well as his farm and home, and he had seen it very differently. As to this iron skillet on the hearth where Martha cooks the cornbread, it may all look very backward, but it has an honorable backward history, because it goes back to the Latins at Rome. Cicero and Julius Caesar ate bread cooked in a skilled and they were great men. He believed that great men and happy families could live well around the fireplace.
AIt is so interesting and so helpful to me to hear you talk that way,@ said Cousin Jennie in a gentle, pleasing voice, as she thought of character ranking higher in the world than all other things.
Emanuel Bardwell was not a man of many words and yet he could talk with interest and animation when he had something real to talk about. Some folks can talk glibly about nothing, but he was not that kind. His mind was always at work on some important line of thought. He was interested in inventions. He claimed that he invented the first iron mouldboard plow. When he was a boy back in Kentucky the plowshare was made of iron and the board above to turn the dirt was wooden. This wooden part of the plow had to be cleaned with a paddle every few yards. Even Job=s patience could not have stood for it. Emanuel also invented and made a wooden cultivator for cultivating corn, one row at a time. This model stood back of the old log smokehouse for a long time. More than once of long winter evenings when he and Martha would be sitting quietly before the fire in the fireplace, Martha would suddenly break his meditation by asking, AEmanuel, what are you talking about?@ AI was preaching,@ he would say. These things are mentioned to show the trend of Mr. Bardwell=s mind.
Martha kept things neat and clean about the house and like many other Kentucky women she was an artist with the needle. Her quilts were things of art and beauty. My, but they were fine! She was even in her life, but her Irish could boil when it was necessary.
In the course of quite a number of years seven pairs of little pink toes came to Emanuel and Martha to bless them and their home. The names of all of them are not here given. One they called Jennie, another Willard, another Leonard, one Belle, and another Richard. They followed in due succession and they were all rocked in the same cradle before the fireplace. They smiled and laughed and kicked and screamed just like all other babies. Later I must tell you more about them.
Along about this time a young man by the name of Ray, Aaron Ray, came from Louisville, Ky., to the Graham Branch neighborhood. Some other Brookvale Tale will tell you something interesting about this young man, and you want to watch for him.
Brookvale Bubbles #8
24 April 1918
Mr. Bardwell had gone in debt considerably on his farm and when he bought it but little of the land was in cultivation. In those days big high prairie grass covered most of the farm and it was a big task to break up the prairie sod, and prepare the ground for the crops to be grown. In order to pay off some of his debt he sold forty acres to one of his neighbors, Mr. William Graham, and then he worked hard to pay out the rest of the debt. It took a good many years to clean up this debt, but there was no stopping till it was done. Martha was in sympathy with her husband about getting out of debt and she bought only what was necessary, and did without many things. When the boys got old enough to help they were taught to do little things about the house and the farm. In winter time they would gather up chips from the woodpile to help start the fires the next morning. They would carry in the lighter sticks of wood for the fireplace and carry out the ashes to the ash-hopper.
Emanuel had a pigpen up near the barn and it was a picnic to the boys to take a bucket of slop up to the pigs. They were hungry little rascals and when the slop was poured over into the trough how they would scramble over one another to get their noses in first. Reuben, the Negro man, said those pigs made him think of some people, the me-first sort. Leonard, one of the boys, said he would never forget the first time he ever tried to milk a cow. This old cow=s name was Standard and she was very gentle, but Leonard was afraid of her. It was fun for the other boys to stand around and watch the performance and it went about this way. Leonard was afraid old Standard would kick him and so he would stand off and reach over as far as he could and say, Aso, now, Standard, so now, and don=t you kick me.@ Then he would back off and the other boys would laugh at him, and that was too much for him. Then he would go up a little closer and say, ASo, now, Standard, so, now,@ and that time he took hold of one of her teats and milked a pint of milk which was so poor that it was blue. But no matter how poor and blue the milk, he had milked his first cow and he had to run into the house and tell his mother that he had milked old Standard. As I think of it now I suppose that this particular cow was named Standard because her milk was standard blue, and now she would be called a boarder.
As I have already said something about the little things which those little boys did about the place, I think I might say something about their good times and pleasures and fun. It would really be a great mistake for the modern reader to feel sorry for these little fellows because they had no story books to read, and no picture shows to go to see, and no theatres to attend.
My theory about a child is that every child is a poet and a painter. The old Greeks had the idea that the poet is the one who makes things. The child on the farm becomes an inventive genius, an entertainer of himself, and a poet and maker of all the fancies that his little head can hold. If his little soul is a flame, that flame burns out through his ears, through his eyes, through his nose, through his fingers and through his toes. In fact, he is all flame with a little crust of body around it. He can make soap bubbles and tell lies with equal ease. The mind of his father may have grooved itself in the iron groove of truth, but the mind of his little boy is made up of dreams and fancies. A father and mother who are made altogether of hard iron may find some trouble in understanding their own little poets and dreamers. Such a father is always looking at the leaden leg of the hard fact while the little poet at his side is always looking for the light wing which reaches upward and wants to fly away.
Have you ever noticed the great defect in the educational plans of such men as Socrates and Plato, Froebel and Pestalozzi? They have all missed it on what may be called The Flat-of-the-Back Philosophy. This farm philosophy for the child requires but two very simple things for its complete development. One of these things is an old cradle with worn rockers and the other is an old sheepskin. The essential thing about the old cradle is that the rockers have been worn flat so that the cradle will not rock much. Those babies in that log house out there on Graham=s Branch, following one another in regular succession, and lying flat on their backs in the old cradle, put it over on Plato in matters educational and philosophical as sure as you born. More than once when Martha had been busy about the hearth getting dinner she would turn to the cradle and there the little fellow would be jabbing his fat fist into his mouth, kicking up a fat leg, and his eyes deep fixed on eternity, listening to the music of the spheres. This Flat-of-the-Back penetration was a scene for the gods to study.
Speaking of the sheepskin. Wool on the upper side and hide on the underside. When Richard and Leonard were very small boys and it was summer time they would take this old sheepskin out under the shade of a big elm tree and lie down flat of their backs looking up. Up there were the branches of the tree, birds hopping from limb to limb, and singing for dear life, up there a squirrel poking a head out of his hole, maybe a stray angel or two >way up at the very top next to the sky, and then high up in the heavens in the deep blue two or three great big hawks circling gently about on outspread wings.
Please do not talk to the log house boys about picture shows.
Brookvale Bubbles #9
1 May 1918
When Emanuel Bardwell came out from Kentucky he brought two ideas with him and they were pretty well settled in his mind. One of these ideas was that he must have some good horses and the other was that some day he must have a brick house, a big house something like they had back in Kentucky. But just now I must tell you about the horses.
Tige was the name of one of the big horses and Diamond was the name of the other one. Tige was a bay in color and Diamond was black. When the harness was thrown on them and they were hitched to a big load it was a sight to see how they would pull. Uphill and downhill away they would go with that big load. When hitched to a plow they would go all day at a steady gait, and come in at night ready for their corn. The neighbors around often spoke of what a fine span of horses Tige and Diamond made. During the Civil war Emanuel had to hide these horses out in the woods to keep the soldiers from finding them. It was a great thing for the boys to get out to go out to the timber with their father when he went to feed the horses in hiding.
There was another horse on the farm and he was called Old Joe. Old Joe was very much of a joke in the way of a horse, but one thing could surely be said of him and that was that he was gentle. Even the ghosts and witches down around the old house could not scare him. The boys could climb up on Old Joe and jerk him and kick him and it was all the same; Old Joe went on in his even way. Even the Hoblegobledus could not scare Old Joe of make him blink his eyes. Old Joe was good in harness and Willard, one of the boys, first learned how to plow corn with him.
To me there is one strange thing about a boy on a farm. When Willard hitches up Old Joe to plow corn Leonard and Richard, the younger boys, will hang around to see how Willard does it. Later in the day when the sun gets high and hot the younger boys will leave the corn field where Willard and Old Joe are plowing away and when they get back to the barn they will stop and talk it over.
AIt ever I get big enough,@ Leonard says to Richard, AI am going to learn to plow with Old Joe just like Willard is doing, and it will not be long till I will be at it.@
AI could plow with Old Joe right now as well as Willard,@ puts in Richard while he is holding up his sore toe and looking at it, Aand I am going to ask father if I can=t take Old Joe tomorrow and go to the field to plow corn.@
These young boys, little fellows, on the farm mean business and they are eager to get hold of the plow handles. They can hardly wait for the day to come for father to give them a chance to take Old Joe to the field to plow corn. Why is it that a boy on the farm gets on the bit to go to work? Why is it that he can hardly wait? Is this one of the secrets of the coming man? Has the city factory any such lure for a boy? Why is labor for the boy on a farm and intoxication and an inspiration? No matter, these boys at the log house were just bursting with energy and life and they were ready for fun and work any day.
Mr. Bardwell and the Negro man, Reuben, had worked hard all summer and when fall came there was a good crop of corn. The upper tobacco patch had done well and the lower tobacco patch was fine. These tobacco patches were near the house and Martha had made good use of the boys out there during the summer. This was hard work but they stuck to it. There was also a cane patch out in the field and they all had a great time just before frost stripping cane for the whole family, Emanuel and Martha and Reuben, the Negro man, and Jennie and Richard and Leonard and Willard, and the two dogs, Dash and Tarry. Those were great days in the cane patch and every fellow knew that the good molasses were coming. Willard said that every time he stripped a stalk of cane he could taste a good warm spoonful of molasses in his mouth.
Later in the fall came corn gathering and it was fun for the boys to go up to the corn crib where Reuben, the Negro man, was shoveling big yellow corn out of the wagon into the crib. When some of the corn would fall out of the shovel Willard would crawl under the wagon and pick up some big ears to throw over to the fat hogs in the pen nearby. Then on toward Christmas came hog-killing time. That was also a big day on the farm. Mr. James Chenoweth and Mr. Joe Perry, neighbors living a mile north, came over that day to help. When night came everybody was tired, but ten big fat hogs dressed were hanging up on a long pole.
It was now about Christmas time and Mr. Bardwell and his wife decided that they would invite Mr. Robert Graham and his family over to take supper with them one winter evening. So a little after dark there was a knock on the door of the log house. There they all were, these people but lately from County Tyrone, North Ireland, Mr. Robert Graham and his wife, Mary, and Isabella and William and John and Jane and Nancy. A good fire was burning in the fireplace and soon supper. Chicken and gravy and dressing, and backbone and spareribs, cornbread and molasses, and butter and cream! Just then there was another knock at the door and when Martha opened it in came a young man by the name of Ray, Aaron Ray, of Louisville, Ky. He was invited to a seat at the table and it so happened that his chair was just opposite to Jane sitting on the other side of the table.
The next Brookvale Tale will be about a moving picture where things surely move.
Brookvale Bubbles #10
8 May 1918
When Reuben, the Negro man, went up to the barn early in the morning of this particular summer day he noticed some black horse hair from a horse=s tail hanging on the latch of the barn door. Reuben did not like this and said it was a bad sign. When he went in to feed Tige and Diamond he found that the long black hair of Tige=s mane was all knotted up and twisted in forty ways. Diamond=s mane was all twisted up, too. Reuben said this was a very bad sign and that witches had been in the barn. Something was going to happen and the Lord only knew what terrible thing it was going to be. This was Reuben=s idea and when he came back to the house for his breakfast he told Emanuel and Martha all about it, and he could not eat much.
Miss Jennie Bailey and young Mr. William Graham, the young people from St. Louis, had been up in Shelby county at the farm for some weeks, and they were getting a little anxious to get back to St. Louis where they could hear the noise of the street cars and attend the theater where there was shooting and somebody killed on the stage. Things were beginning to seem to them rather quiet on the farm. They finally concluded, however, to stay a few days longer, but they were ready to go most any time.
At this time Mr. John Copenhaver and his family lived in the log house on the farm down on the bottom toward Salt River. Mr. Copenhaver was a driving, energetic farmer and among other things he had some good cattle that roamed around over the open prairie on the bottom. In this herd of cattle he had a fine young bull. Finally this bull became a little bit ugly in his disposition. In fact, this bull got to be vicious. He had big stout horns which came out straight from his head and he would throw these horns quite recklessly into any of the cattle that he did not happen to like. He evidently felt that he was a very big strong bull and that his might made it right for him to horn and gore any beast which did not look food to him. One evening Mr. Copenhaver was out at his barn attending to the YYand milking when all at once this bull made a dash at him and knocked him down with his big horns, and in all probability would have killed him, if the boys had not come to his rescue with their pitchforks. That was enough for Mr. Copenhaver and he made up his mind that he would put the fixings on that bull good and strong. So he took a long iron chain and made a loop in it at the end and threw it over the bull=s horns and tied him to a lone tree down by the well and there he kept him.
Emanuel and Reuben, the Negro man, were in the field plowing corn, and the field was down towards Mr. Copenhaver=s, and they plowed on till after sunset. Up at the house Martha had told Richard and Willard and Leonard to go up to the barn lot and attend to milking the cows as it was getting late, and dark was coming on. Miss Jennie Bailey and William Graham from St. Louis said they would go with the boys to the barn to see them milk the cows. The barn lot had two gates. One was called the upper gate and it opened southward into the pasture, and the other was called the lower gate and it opened westward to a road going northward to Graham=s Branch. The upper gate toward the pasture stood open while the milking was going on, and the other gate was closed.
All at once the greatest noise and commotion broke loose down towards Mr. Copenhaver=s. Dogs were barking and men were howling and hoofs were rattling. What under the heavens had happened? Mr. Copenhaver=s bull had broken loose and that night the witches and the Hoblegobledus were out for the time of their lives. The bull with the dogs and men right after him was headed straight to the barn lot where the boys were milking. Emanuel knew that the upper lot gate was open and that the lower one was closed, and that meant that the mad bull trapped in that lot would horn his boys to death. Quick as a flash he told Reuben to jump on Diamond and gallop as if the Devil was after him, get ahead of the bull, and open that lower gate so as to let the bull through.
The first thing the boys at the barn knew here came Diamond and Reuben thundering through the pasture, and the bull right after him. By the time the bull hit the upper open gate the fire was rolling out of his nostrils and his eyes were round hot hells. Quick as lightening Reuben went through the lower gate, and the bull=s chain rattling hot after him, and on down the road through the trees to a deep hole of water in the branch. In that deep hole of water the bull stopped stubborn and sullen. Finally the men got hold of the loose end of the chain and tied him to a big oak tree standing nearby on the bank.
In the meantime can you imagine what happened to the boys and their St. Louis visitors up at the barn? When they saw that bull coming you can guess that there was some moving done and on the very instant. Willard jumped for life and fell into the water trough where he nearly strangled. Richard darted into the barn and landed on an old black snake that had coiled himself up for his night=s snooze. Leonard went over the rail fence like a wireless message and hit the snag of an old apple tree and tore off a breeches leg, but entirely forgot to stop and get it as he hit the ground running to his mother. The St. Louis girl thought that a cyclone had hit the theater, tearing the picture show all to pieces, and she landed among some geese which had settled down for the night in the corner of his fence. The old gander in his alarm and terror grabbed Jennie by the ear and she fell in a faint to the ground. The St. Louis boy shot over the rail fence and fell into an old sow=s pen and struck one of the pigs with his left foot. When the pig squealed the old sow started her own picture show right there and then, and when the boy went over the fence the back door of his breeches was in the old sow=s mouth.
That night Reuben went to sleep humming: Stay away witches, stay away witches, don=t trouble ye; Stay away witches, stay away witches, you can=t get me!
Brookvale Bubbles #11
15 May 1918
The last Brookvale Tale, if I remember aright, wound up with a picture show from real life on the farm. Lively scenes such as the last ones described did not happen every day, but other interesting events are to follow as these stories unfold.
When William and Jennie got back to St. Louis they did not lay in any complaint about life being dull on the farm up in Shelby county. In fact, the next morning after their return to the city Mike O=Kannon, the big policeman on duty at the corner near William=s house, asked him if he did not find it quite uninteresting up on that farm, but from the look that William gave him Mike never could make out what had happened.
It might fit in very well just here to tell something more about the early associates and the playgrounds of Mr. Bardwell=s three boys, Richard, Leonard and Willard. It is said that comparisons are odious and hateful and I have found this to be true in a general way. We all, however, sooner or later, make comparisons. In the crowded city the child often has no playground, not even a back lot. Under such unfavorable conditions the only chance for the child to get a breath of fresh air is in some second or third class park. Mr. Bardwell had seen much of this in Louisville, Ky., which was no worse than any other city. On the farm, however, things were quite different. The boys had a good large yard with green grass and big trees to play in. At will they could go up into the upper tobacco patch and from there into a forty acre woods pasture. They could roam the woods up and down Graham=s Branch a mile or more west of after them and scare the lives out of them. On special occasions they could go down to Salt River and loiter for hours and hours on the banks of that old historic stream. I say historic because James Whitcomb Riley of the bends of Salt River when one of the bogles of Bobbie Burns inspired Riley to write that piece about AThe Old Swimming Hole.@ I can prove this by Prince Dimmitt, head of the Shelbyville bank, and hundreds of other good citizens all the way from Hagers Grove to Hunnewell.
Now let us take our bearings again and see that we are not losing our way. I believe I am writing about the playgrounds of these unknown boys. I was once in New York City where a lot of those Wall street millionaires try to live and I saw just one front yard, about as big as a bean patch, and that belonged to Cornelius Vanderbilt, near the south end of Central Park. It would clean out the bank account of the average rich man in a city to buy the playgrounds of these Bardwell boys and which were to them as free as the air. I wish I could impress it on every farm boy and girl in Shelby county and North America that they have favors and advantages on the farm which even millionaires in the big cities cannot posses.
Who were the playmates of these boys? What associations did they have? They spent many a summer day watching an old red head hammer a hole in some old dead tree. They thought he had a hard job on his hands, but old Mr. Red was always cheerful and never seemed at all discouraged. The next morning he was back on the job as cheerful as ever and seemed to fully believe that there was a good nest for him and his in that hard old tree. They had two dogs, Dash and Tarry, and two pet sheep, one they called Bill and the other Bet. Many a fine summer day they played with these pet sheep and when night came their morals were none the worse. They also had a yoke of young calves and in winter time they had lots of fun hitching up these calves to some old wagon or sled largely of their own making. The calves played many a joke on the boys but never a calf undermined the moral character of the boys. From time to time the boys had sine pigs to look after and more than once they had a pet pig. One of these pet pigs one night wanted to come in the house and sleep with the boys, he thought so much of them. You may not know it but boys can have much worse playmates than pigs. A pet pig may rub some dirt on the boy=s breeches, but he will not rub any dirt on his moral character. Many a city mother might be horrified at thinking of her boys having pigs for playmates, but would they be as bad off morally playing with pigs as staying out nights in a city boys= club which is literally a den of evil?
Then of rainy days these boys played with Reuben, the Negro man. It is as natural for little white children in all southern lands to like to play with little Negro children as for a duck to take to water. Reuben was a man, but he believed in angels and ghosts and witches and the boys could hang around him by the hour and drink in his stories. They were sorry when the rainy day came to an end because he had taken them up on top of the clouds and they had looked over into other worlds. Very naturally they were sorry to come down out of the skies to be tucked away in their little trundle-bed. These little fellows also played with the Snowder boys who lived in the other log house on the farm. The Snowder boys were always kind and gentle and in all the years that these two sets of boys were thrown together they never had a quarrel or a fight or even an unkind word. This reads like a story, but it is literal truth. Mrs. Snowder had a way of going right straight into a boy=s heart. It was simple enough, a slice of light bread, butter spread all over the top side, and some molasses spread on top of the butter!
Bread and butter and molasses, too; Oh! Mrs. Snowder, my hearts for you.
Brookvale Bubbles #12
22 May 1918
Emanuel Bardwell had some well-defined ideas about the bringing up of his children, but he was not given to fads on the subject. He had no book plan, such as so many hours for sleep, so many hours for playful wakefulness, food every ten minutes by the Seth Thomas clock, and colic at convenient hours only, day or night. He did have an idea, however, that some substantial kind of government for children was necessary and he took the part of president of the home. He did not draw any hard and fast line between moral suasion and birch suasion or hickory suasion or any other suasion. He went about the business with what you might call horse sense. If he could reason the matter out with the boys he went at it that way, and if the doctrine of the birch was the thing to apply he did not hesitate a minute.
Emanuel believed that if there is to be any good government in the nation that the children at home must first learn obedience when it is necessary to command obedience. In this connection, however, I would not leave the wrong impression upon the mind of the reader. The general atmosphere of the home at the log house was good feeling and freedom. Not a child was dwarfed with brutal fear as sometimes happens.
Then I might mention another matter of importance in the handling of this family. If Emanuel as father was King, Martha as mother was Queen. If the rule of the little family empire were in danger at any point in the absence of the father, Martha never said, ANow, Richard, I will tell your father when he comes home.@ Never in all her life did she made use of any such speech as that. If Richard needed dressing up she went to business and when she was done with him Richard had on a new suit of much better manners. She was entirely equal to the occasion.
These little rascals soon learned that there was no putting off the day of wrath just because father did not happen to be on hand. There were days, however, when the usual firm family government suffered retirement of the lines all along the ???? on such days both the King and the Queen were largely helpless at least for a time. It was common in those days for whole families, men, women and children, to go and spend the day on a visit. It may seem strange to say it but when there are oodles of other children to play with one boy easily becomes three. The line of childish reasoning is plain. We have had to be on our p=s and q=s so long now is our chance for a big day. Father and mother are busy talking to the company and even the occasional parental frown does not go today. By the middle of the afternoon it is rip, snort, bang! On toward sundown someone says AIt is time for us to go home.@ AOh! Don=t go yet,@ Willard begins to plead as he thinks of the warm time coming. Judge Vernon Drain, judge of the circuit court, says he remembers the occasion very distinctly!
Leonard, one of these Bardwell boys, said on a certain occasion that he never would forget an experience which he had one summer day when he was a very small child. As he recalled it he was out in the yard flat of his back on the old sheepskin in the shade of a big oak tree, looking up through its branches into the blue sky. All at once something seemed to say to him, AI am, I am a being, I am an existence, I am a person.@ He said the experience was a real inspiration to him, and intoxication, and he never had forgotten it. When he got up to go into the house he went running and rejoicing just as if he were a little Plato. Had this little log house lad just come into the dawn of his own creation? Is this not really a wonderful experience for all of us? He discerning reader will make a note of the fact that this lad=s experience ushered him into the first great door of all true and sublime philosophy, the starting place of all true reckoning and thinking.
Sometime after this when the day=s work was done and the dusk of the summer evening drew on, Emanuel and Martha and the boys were sitting just outside the south door of the log house. Things had not gone very well with the boys during the day, some disobedience which had not been pleasing to their father. That evening Mr. Bardwell made some general remarks which were never forgotten, at least by one of the boys. He started out with the idea of responsibility. He said that a boy is responsible to his father and mother for what he says and does. When a boy betrays that responsibility he must be punished for his wrong doing. Father and mother are responsible to God for their boys and in the day of Judgment they must give an account for Willard and Richard and Leonard. It was then that Leonard connected his being with God as the cause of his existence, and for the first time he felt his responsibility to God for his life and deeds. That evening in the talk something came up about a certain thing being right according to law. In this connection Emanuel made a remark which became immortal with one of the boys, and that was this, AThe law of God is higher than any law of man. The law of God is always right, but the law of man is not always right.@ This was the boy=s first introduction into the higher realms of the ideal. Perhaps the father himself never knew what a lasting and living impression was made at that time by the remark, but it went home for all time.
Martha did not believe in telling her boys that they were good little angels and that the boys of the neighbors were little devils. More than once she said to them, AYou are very much like other boys. You are just as liable to get into meanness as they are.@ This the little rascals knew quite well, but they were surprised to hear her say so. Also more than once she said to them, AIf the teacher gives you a whipping at school I will give you another whipping when you get home.@ She had a very uncomfortable way of keeping her word, too. All this helped to curb these little dickenses and it helped to make them at least halfway decent. It was hard on the pups, but it helped them to grow right. Amen!
Brookvale Bubbles #13
May 29, 1918
At noon one summer day Mr. Bardwell made up his mind to take one of his plows to be sharpened to a blacksmith who had lately located up in the Ten Mile country several miles west. Martha had served pie for dinner, which was quite an unusual event in those pioneer days, and they were a little late getting away from the dinner table. When Emanuel finally got up to the barn he hitched Tige and Diamond to the big wagon, loaded in his plow and was ready to go. The boys were with him and they wondered where he was going and if they could not go along. When he said they could go the three little barefoots climbed into the wagon and they were off to see a new world. Many a time they had gone out into the pasture where they could look far westward across the wide river valley to the country called Ten Mile. Those Ten Mile hills had become to them the symbol of the far away and the mysterious. And now they were soon to go into these strange regions and see these great wonders for themselves. Soon they were down on the bottom following a very dim road through the tall prairie grass as high as the horses= backs. The green head flies came out of the grass in swarms and the horses were nearly wild with their vicious bites. Tige=s broad neck was bleeding and Diamond=s broad back was bleeding. When they crossed Deer Lick branch they soon came into the big timber along the river. Then the big black horse flies with their big bills to bore into the backs of the horses came thick and fast. The poor horses were bloody by this time and the blood was actually running down their legs. When Emanuel got to Salt River he had to hunt for a ford to cross, as there were no bridges in those days. Then for a hard pull up the hill and when they got to the top the horses stopped for a little breathing spell. While the horses were resting Emanuel said that a strange feeling came over him, such a feeling as he never had had before. He did not understand this feeling and he could not explain it. Then he drove on through the hills winding around and up and down till finally he reached the blacksmith shop. He introduced himself to the new blacksmith and told him his name and asked the blacksmith his name. The new blacksmith hesitated about giving his name and, in fact, did not tell Mr. Bardwell his name. There were several farmers in ahead of Emanuel so there was nothing for him to do but await his turn. While waiting he happened to notice several decks of old cards lying around and some empty whisky bottles dropped around here and there. During all this time of waiting Emanuel noticed that he never got a good square look into this blacksmith=s face. About this time a black cloud came up and it threatened rain which was very much needed. After a long wait Mr. Bardwell=s plowshare went into the hot flame for sharpening. While the blacksmith was blowing the bellows Emanuel asked him where he was from and he said that he supposed he was from almost anywhere, but that he had come just lately from Macon City. He left Macon City, he said, because he had a great many secrets to keep and while he liked his neighbors up there, he saw it was best for him to pull out. By this time the dark cloud had become very black and the bright flame inside lightened up the darkened shop. When the blacksmith drew the red hot plowpoint out of the fire he remarked to Emanuel that it seemed to Him that that flame was coming out from all past time and from all worlds. Mr. Bardwell wondered what he meant by such a remark, but said nothing. In the meantime, Richard, one of the boys, noticed a big iron key hanging on one of the posts, and reached up to take it down and look at it. The blacksmith told Richard not to touch that key and that if he did something would happen.
When the work was done Emanuel saw that it was getting late and he asked the blacksmith what time it was and he said that he did not believe in time and had no use for such a thing as a clock or watch= and furthermore he did not know anything about miles or distance, and he did not care. When this puzzled father and these wondering boys came back home through the bottom there was a light mist all through the trees and all over the prairie. When Emanuel unhitched he told the boys that it had been a strange afternoon to him.
When the feeding was done and they all went down to the house Mr. Bardwell discovered that something quite unusual had happened at home in the time of his absence. When he went in Martha was in bed and there was a bloody sheet hanging on the back of a chair near the fire. Miss Jane Graham was getting supper and waiting on Martha. What in the world had happened?
It seems that on toward evening Martha had taken the water bucket on her arm and went down to the branch to get a bucket of water, as there was no well or cistern at the log house. As she went down the hill into the timber she saw deer coming from the direction of William Graham=s, eight or ten of them. This was rather a common sight in those days and she thought nothing specially of it till one of them suddenly made a dash at her, knocked her down, and stuck his sharp hoofs into her tender flesh. Martha knew that it meant her death and that her only hope was to cry aloud for help. It so happened that Aaron Ray, whose name has been mentioned before in these Tales, and who was a dear lover of hunting sport, was out with his gun and had shot this deer, slightly wounding him and when he heard Martha=s cries he ran at once to her relief. He drove the vicious deer off and shot him dead. He then called Miss Jane to his assistance and they carried Martha bleeding up to the house and cared for her as best they could. It was a narrow escape and this story of the vicious deer attacking Martha was often told and retold around the fireside at the old fireplace. The boys never forgot it and Aaron Ray and Jane had a big place in their hearts in all the years to come.
But what about that flame coming out from all the past and from all worlds?
Brookvale Bubbles #14
6 June 1918
This is the fourteenth Brookvale Tale and it would be strange if something unfortunate did not happen in connection with the number thirteen. And the fact is that when Reuben, the Negro man, came back from feeding at the barn one spring morning, he told the boys that witches and bogles had evidently been out that night. He said that the crows were flying around in the wildest way and blinking at him and one another as he never saw them at any time. He said that another bad sign was that the hogs had thrown the straw out of their beds and it was scattered all around the barn lot. Brindle, the old cow, had her tail all twisted up, and from the way the ground was torn, she had been running around during the night.
About this time one of the kind Grahams from New Orleans came up to Shelby county for a visit and came out to the log house to see the folks. When he had spent a few days he went after Emanuel and Martha almost roughly for trying to bring up a family of children in such a wilderness and backwoods. He said the children would grow up in ignorance and never have any polish or refinement. Emanuel simply reminded him that he had seen plenty of ignorance among children in Louisville, Ky., and it was no worse than any other city. He had made his choice as to the place for his children to live and so far he and Martha and the children were at least living and making it reasonably well. Mr. Graham soon returned to New Orleans wondering what would ever become of the little towheads in Shelby County.
These Bardwell boys had all sorts of time on their hands and much of it was at their own disposal. Ordinarily this is not best, but in their case it seemed to work seasonably well. At this spring time of the year Mr. Bardwell was busy all day plowing in the field and Martha had her hands full with cooking and sewing and mending and patching and spinning and weaving and many other things. The result was that the boys had most of the day and most of many days at their Y..
They could go nearly anywhere to play and they spent much of their time in roaming around as the notion might strike them. When it came to play it might be well to remember that these boys had no playthings. There was no money with which to buy toys and such things were not very common among children in those early days. This might seem a loss to these little brats, but in reality it turned out to be a blessing. They had hands and fingers and an old saw and a few other tools, and what were their heads for? That was the way they seasoned among themselves about it and they soon got busy. One winter they wanted some skates and they did not have the money with which to buy any, so they went to work with some blocks of pine, bored a hole through the front end and another through the hind end, ran short ropes through these holes, took a piece of hoop iron, nailed it on the bottom of the pine block, did another pine block the same way, and they had a pair of skates! My! The fun they did have with these rough skates of their own making on the old Patton pond just below Hagers Grove. At another time they made a play threshing machine. They took an old goods box, a big one, and fixed a cylinder in it with nails for teeth, rigged up a straw carrier inside, fixed belts here and there, and actually threshed timothy with it. They were days and weeks on this big contract, but they felt abundantly repaid for their industry. This was using playtime to good purpose.
There was one plaything which the boys had wanted for a long time, but they had never worked it out just how they were to get it, and that was a little wagon. A wagon wheel was not the easiest thing made and for a time they hung fire on this job. Finally one day after dinner Willard said that an idea had struck him about making that little wagon. The other boys wanted to know at once what his idea was. AWell, A he said, Aif they could go up to Graham=s Branch,@ and Branch in this case is always with a big B, Aand find a fallen tree big enough for a little wagon wheel they could take a saw, saw the tree off, then saw off a wheel about an inch thick, bore a hole in the middle, and they would have their wheel.@ This idea struck the whole bunch and they went at once to their mother to see if she would let them go up the Branch towards Dave Noble=s and Jim Richardson=s and hunt for their log. Martha was afraid to let them go on account of the wild hogs. The boys had not thought of the wild hogs and the wild cats, but they new at once that there was a danger and the worst sort of danger. The wild hogs up and down Graham=s Branch were as dangerous as that many bears, it not more so.
Just then Jane came up to borrow some coffee as they had run out down at Mr. Robert Graham=s. It was then about three o=clock in the afternoon. When Jane heard what the boys wanted to do she told Martha that she would go with the boys Ysee afterYas she was in no hurry about getting back home with the coffee. Martha consented to this and Jane and the boys were soon gone. Martha went to her spinning wheel and the boys were after their wagon wheels.
That day Aaron Ray was up in the Hagers Grove country hunting with the Hager boys. He was a good rifle shot and by four o=clock that day he had brought down two big bucks, and he was proud of them. A little later he told the Hager boys good-by and came down to old man Isaac Gray=s on the State Road. When he got down to Dave Noble=s he loaded his rifle and remarked that he might find something to shoot at as he went on down Graham=s Branch. When he got into the timber the evening was coming on and he felt that he must hurry on home. All at once he heard the shrill cry of a woman calling for help. He ran a few yards to an open view and there was Jane and the Bardwell boys and the wild hogs right on them. Quick as a dart the boys climbed up some trees, but one of the wild hogs knocked Jane down and was tearing her to places with his big tusks. Aaron knew in an instant that the only way to save Jane=s life was to shoot the wild hog while he was right over Jane=s body. He took steady aim and fired. The bullet tore through the flesh of Jane=s arm and killed the wild hog dead. Aaron said it was then getting dark and all at once the woods was full of witches and bogles!
Brookvale Bubbles #15
12 June 1918
A bright young man from Shelbina writes me to know why it is that I am giving so much space in these Brookvale Tales to the things which belong to a somewhat remote past. AWhy are you not writing more about automobiles, wireless, aeroplanes and seventy-five mile guns, the more up-to-date things?@ he asks. I am very glad to answer this most worthy young man from Shelbina. Shelbina has always been a progressive town for the reason that when it was not progressing forward it was progressing backward. I take it, however, that this particular young man is truly up-to-date as he has a right to be. In all seriousness, I wonder if our fine young men and women in this up-to-date age have thought of how important it is to go back-to-date, and know something of yesterday as well as something of today. Josephus and Rollin, Gibbon and Rawlinson, and all other great historians have found great pleasure and profit in going back-to-date in their knowledge.
I think I can prove to this most excellent young man at Shelbina that he does to know as much as his father, even with all the fine college education of the son. I was once spending an evening in a fine home in the beautiful and aristocratic little city of Carrollton, Missouri. That evening I met six married couples ranging in age from twenty-five to thirty-five. They all belonged to good families and they were all intelligent. In the course of the evening someone spoke of how rapidly time changes things. AYes,@ I said, Ahow many of you can tell me what a linchpin is?@ There was a sudden pause in the conversation and out of the twelve intelligent young married people, with children of their own, not one of them could tell me what a linchpin is. This well-educated young man at Shelbina, and I say this with all respect for him, does not know what a linchpin is, but his father, who never saw a college, does know what a linchpin is. In the early days of this young man=s father the word linchpin was in common use, as much so as ????? and spark-plug are in use today. I am not a betting man, but if I were, I could safely bet my automobile cap, to be up-to-date, or my old hat, to be back-to-date, that this most excellent young man at Shelbina does not know what a linchpin is. I can see him now going to the dictionary to find out what his father knew before he was born.
It was for just such reasons as are here given that Mr. Bardwell and Martha always taught their boys to give respect and consideration to aged men and women. AAlways give reverence to age and do not despise the past,@ said Emanuel to Willard, his son, one day after a very old man had made a visit to the log house. It is all right for a young girl, sweet as a peach, going along State Street, Chicago, to cover her ears with her fair locks, but it is just as well to remember that her back-to-date mother was not ashamed of her ears, clean and as pretty as sea shells. By the way, are the modern girl=s ears hid away in her hair always clean? Please excuse this rude question.
But I must go back to my Shelbina young man as I am not done with him. These Brookvale Tales have a good many purposes back of them. One of these purposes is to show that life for children on a farm is not the dull thing that some city people think. In fact, life for boys and girls on a farm is full of interest and occupation, and often has its thrills. Another purpose is to show how character as strong as granite can come from the hillsides of a farm. Other purposes will develop later as opportunity may come. In order to get at the bed rock of robust character it is necessary to go back in these stories to the early influences which shaped these young lives. This explains to my Shelbina young friend why I am writing about some things which are wound a little bit back down the lane.
This gives me a chance to say something about how Emanuel and Martha taught their boys to make candles. It is all the same with the New York City girl, fine as she is, whether candles were bade of either land or tallow, but the Bardwell boys knew that it took tallow, beef fat, to make candles. Did you ever see candle moulds? When Leonard first ran across those moulds for making candles they were a regular curiosity to him. One day, however, Martha, his mother, told him that he and his brothers must learn how to make candles. So they were to start a factory of their own and the output was to be candles. These candle moulds were made of tin, three hollow tubes on one side and three on the other, and fastened together. The boys were sent out to cut two little sticks to fit in at the top of the moulds. Then Martha told the boys to twist up six cotton threads, loop them over the sticks above, draw them down through the hollow tubes and tie them at the lower points of the moulds. Then she showed them how to take the hot tallow in a kettle and pour it into the top of the mould. This hot tallow ran down into the hollow tubes around the cotton thread and his thread made the wick. Then the moulds were set aside to cool. When the cooling was done Willard took his knife and cut the cords at the lower ends of the moulds, and then holding the moulds with his left hand he took hold of the short stick with his right hand and drew the candles from the mould. When this was all done he had the finished product, a candle ready for the candlestick and ready for lighting. It was all very homely, but it was interesting and occupation for the boys.
These boys also had a gun, and old rifle which had been in service for many years. It took bullets to run this rifle and bullets were not for sale at the stores. How were they to get their bullets? Emanuel showed them how it was done. They took a bar of lead and melted it in a ladle which was something of a long handled spoon. From this ladle they poured the molten lead into some iron moulds and when they opened these moulds out would drop the bullets ready for the rifle. This taught the boys self-dependence, one of the great lessons of coming manhood.
Brookvale Bubbles #16
26 June 1918
It seems that what I said in one of these Brookvale Tales about a little child being a poet and a painter has not so impressed an old bachelor over in the Bethel country. He writes me a very pleasant letter in which he tells me that he has lived with his younger married brother for the last ten years or more and that during that time about fifteen babies have come into his brother=s home. I suppose he means fifteen more or less, because I would not depend upon a bachelor even in the matter of counting babies. He says it has been one continuous spuawk, squawk, squawk, cry, cry, cry, ya, ya, ya, almost day and nirhgt. He writes that he is becoming desperate and that he is going to apply to the United States Government for a special permit to go to France and fight in the trenches. I hope he will get to go and that the Boche will scare the livers out of him. Just think of his sins of omission and neglect. There are plenty of fine girls, fair as roses, in Bethel and he could have married one of them long ago if he had been worth killing. Then the cry of his own baby would have sounded as sweet to him as the music of a Palmyra church choir. His trouble is that he has seen only the leaden leg of the hard fact and has failed to see the light wing reaching skyward. He will know better when the angels hovering over France carry this Bethel old bachelor to the skies! By the way, I hope my old friend Hank at Lentner will not happen to see this, because he might think that I had reference to allusions. (Hank Carroll)
It is not necessary, however, to further discuss the poetic nature of a little child with my old bachelor friend at Bethel or even Philadelphia. It occurs to me that this is a very good time to tell something more of the childish pranks and pleasures of Mr. Bardwell=s boys. One summer morning Emanuel told his boys that he was going to Shelbyville to do some trading with Muldrow and Vaughn. Willard put in a plea to go with him, but he said, ANo, you and your brothers can play in the woods here near the house till I get back.@ Martha was at the spinning wheel spinning rolls which had been carded at Walkersville down on Salt River. In a little while the boys were off to the woods for a morning=s play. And I might as well stop right here and record my belief that heaven never gave a better gift to a child than the woods. It is nothing short of a poetic dream for a child to roam the woods at will day after day. The child of the pioneer was certainly fortunate. There was only one thing to break into this beautiful dream and that was wild hogs and wild cats.
On this particular morning Willard was leading the way over the soft dead leaves, looking up through the trees for birds and squirrels, and the other two little Indians were following single file close behind him. All at once Willard stopped and said, ABoys, what is that hanging yonder in the forks of that tree?@ At first they were afraid to go any nearer, but finally they ventured up closer. It was the skeleton of a horse hanging near the ground in the forks of a tree. Richard said that evidently it was a wild horse and when he was running through the woods he had tried to jump through the forks of this tree, and there he hung, starve, and died. What a fate for any life!
That morning when the boys came to a certain big oak tree they saw a squirrel >way up on one of the topmost limbs. Presently this squirrel jumped form the limb and sailed down, down, down to a small tree below. This was the first time the boys had ever seen a squirrel with wings; it was a flying squirrel. Leonard said, AThat beats me, a squirrel with wings!@ I wonder if my old bachelor friend at Bethel or out at San Francisco could believe that a squirrel could possibly have wings. I want my old bachelor friends from Milwaukee to Mobile to know that the Lord has made a squirrel with wings, and also that when the Lord created a child He created his mind with wings.
Willard soon caught the idea and he said, ANow, little Indians, can=t we climb one of these young oak trees and when we get to the top, fly over to the top of another tree, and from top to top like this flying squirrel?@ Father and mother were not present and so the way was clear. There they go, the three little Indians, up a tree. Willard is leading the way and soon he is at the very top. There he stops to look around and he sees another tree not far away. What does he do? For heaven=s sake do not tell his mother. He throws his weight on the slender top of the tree and bends it over to the top of the next tree, holding tight to the limb that he has bent over. Then he says, ANow, you little Indians, grab this bent-over limb with your hands, your feet dangling in the air, and come hand over hand to me on this tree. Witches and angels, did you ever see the like of it! Hands turned into wings! It made the hair stand up on the head of the Hoblegobledus. When all three of the boys got over safe they stopped a minute for breath, and then they heard the hum of their mother=s spinning wheel in the log house not far away. And so they went from tree to tree. How merciful the gods are many times to dear mothers in veiling their faces from seeing.
It is said, however, that all is well that ends well, so the boys came down safe and sound, feeling that they had conquered the trees and the air. The next thing was to explore some of the unknown regions of Graham=s Branch. They roamed down past Mr. Robert Graham=s into a wild part of the timber. Presently to their great surprise they came to a little opening in the woods and there was something they never had seen before. It was a new log house and the roof was about half on. Not a soul was to be seen. No garden, no barn, no fences, no chickens, no dogs, nothing but the partly built log house. Was it some wild Indians who had slipped in their and were trying to build a house? What could all this mean?
Finally the boys got scared and made tracks back home. They then asked their father about the new log house in the woods and what about it. Emanuel told them that a man and his family had just come to Graham=s Branch from the Gold Mines of Australia, and that this man had first gone from Germany, his birthplace, to Australia. It turned out that this man=s name was Reinheimer-Peter Reinheimer. The boys were all wonder when they heard for the first time of the Gold Mines of Australia. It opened a new world of wonder to them.
Brookvale Bubbles #17
17 July 1918
I am reminded that so far I have said nothing about the schooling of these Bardwell boys. That is to say that I have not written anything about a school house and a paid teacher. I think, however, that I have shown that these little rascals started into learning on their own hook at a very early age and that they kept it up. The first thing that they ever heard about a school house was a fight between two men. It seems that the Dunn school house over on Black Creek had things its way in an early day and finally some of the citizens made up their minds that a school house should be built over near Graham=s Branch. The story goes that when they met to decide the matter two men go into a fight. In my day I have seen a good deal of schools and school houses and my conclusion is that a school house that does not bear the name of having had several fist fights associated within it is a very poor school. Education and fight seem to go well together.
Leonard Bardwell said that he would never forget that first morning he went to this new school. He was very young and timid, shy as a girl, and when he got to the school house a large fine looking man met him at the door and invited him to come in. That man was Rev. W. W. McMurry. Willard had had such a good time on Graham=s Branch that he did not want to go to school at all. He said he wished that no man had ever thought of building a school house and then he would not have to go to school. While the Civil war was going on the work of the Missouri conference of the Methodist church was broken up, and this explains why Rev. W. W. McMurry was teaching this district school. Leonard says he remembers very distinctly that Mr. McMurry used to send him out for the hazel switches to whip the other boys. He counted this a very high honor even though he often needed to have the hazel switch worn out on his own back. It was fun, however, to see the dust fly from the other boy=s back.
Mr. Rader, who lived in the third log house on the Bardwell farm, had seen a good many summers, but he said that this particular summer was one of the driest and hottest that he had ever seen. It was so dry and hot that many of the trees in the woods had died. Even the birds were starving and pastures were brown and burnt. At midday it looked as if the sun would set the world afire. Mr. Bardwell was harvesting his hay and Mr. Rader told him that it was just so hot that they would have to harvest the hay at night. It was in the light of the moon so they decided to work that night. Mr. Bardwell told his boys what was on hand and, of course, the little fellows had to go along that night. This night harvesting of hay made an impression on them which they never forgot. The dim moonlight, the low sky, the half-sleepy clatter of the mowing machine, and men moving about as if they were spirits. The men themselves spoke of the strange effect of the unusual experience and they did not soon recover from it. They seemed to be intruding on the sacred mysteries of the silent night and they never tried it again.
The next day being Saturday and a little after the noon hour, Rev. W. W. McMurry called at Mr. Bardwell=s and asked him if he would not go with him over to the new blacksmith shop in the Ten Mile country. Emanuel told him that he had a plow which needed sharpening and that if he could throw this plow in the wagon and take it along he would go. AVery well,@ said Mr. McMurry, AI have a plow here to be sharpened and I can take yours without any trouble.@ The boys wanted to go along but their father told them that they must stay at home. He had a special reason for not wanting them to go. So Emanuel and his preacher friend were soon down on Salt River bottom on their way to the new blacksmith=s. When they had crossed the ford and had climbed the high hill on the south side, Mr. Bardwell asked his friend if he had ever met this new blacksmith. The Rev. Mr. McMurry replied that he had not but he had understood that he was a good workman, and that was why he was calling on him. AI have met this new blacksmith but once,@ said Emanuel, Aand I am free to say that I do not know just exactly what to think of him.@ AWell, what about him?@ Mr. McMurry somewhat cautiously inquired. AI did not like some of the appearances about his place,@ said Emanuel, Aand especially the old decks of cards lying around and the old empty whisky bottles here and there. In addition to this he advanced some ideas which seemed to me to be quite mystical and strange.@
By this time they drove up to the shop and when they had unloaded the plow and hitched the team they went into the shop where the new blacksmith was at work. Athis is my friend, Rev. W. W. McMurry,@ said Emanuel, introducing him. AI believe I did not learn your name when I was here some weeks ago,@ said Mr. Bardwell, addressing himself to the blacksmith. ANo,@ he replied, Aand I am not going to give either one of you my name today.@ ANo matter about the name,@ remarked Mr. McMurry pleasantly. AI have a plow here that I want to get sharpened.@ The new blacksmith replied AI do not sharpen any plows for preachers and I do not want anything to do with them, especially if they are good ones.@
The Rev. Mr. McMurry had lived a good while but this was the first time that he had ever heard any such speech as that, and he did not know what to made of it. APerhaps you would make an exception in my case,@ the preacher finally suggested. ANo, you are no exception,@ was the firm answer. By this time Emanuel said that he could handle blacksmith tools and that if he would let him he would sharpen Mr. McMurry=s plow for him. The blacksmith then replied that he would sharpen Mr. Bardwell=s plow first, and the Emanuel could sharpen the preacher=s plow with the tools. When the new blacksmith drew the white hot plowpoint out of the fire just then a young gosling strayed into the sop and was getting a drink of water out of a low tub. Instantly the blacksmith plunged the red hot plowpoint into the body of the gosling, ripping it through, and went on about his work. Not a word was said.
While the preacher-teacher was standing there silently he noticed a big iron key hanging on a post and several iron chains, heavy ones, hanging from a beam above. Finally the preacher remarked that he would step over to the house and visit the family while the work was being done. AMy wife is an old heifer,@ said that blacksmith, Abut you can go and see her and the kids if you want to.@ When Mr. McMurry went in he met a poor mother with a very refined face and she was pleased that he was a minister. Not much was said but the visiting minister noticed in an old barrel a Heidelberg University Diploma bearing a name which he could not make out, but the letters A. M. stood at the end of the name. AThat is my husband=s diploma from Heidelberg University,@ said the blacksmith=s wife with a sad face and sigh.
Brookvale Bubbles #18
7 August 1918
Mr. Bardwell said that every man, woman, child and dog on the farm had been working hard all summer, and they were going to drop all work for a day and go up to Hagers Grove to the Fourth of July celebration. He said it was work, work, work, all the time in the fields and he wanted a day off for himself and for his family. When the Fourth came Tige and Diamond hardly knew what it meant not to be harnessed up and taken to the field for the day’s plowing. But they were willing to get a little rest and change as well as the other members of the family.
At this time Aaron Ray was living with Emanuel and Aaron said it would be nice to invite Miss Jane Graham to go along with them to the big celebration at Hagers Grove. This was a very well pleasing to Mr. Bardwell so he told Aaron to go down and bring Miss Jane up to the log house, and they would all go together. Miss Graham was glad of a chance to get to go so she came along with Mr. Ray.
Now it so happened that when Emanuel went up to the barn to hitch the horses to the big wagon he found Diamond very lame. One of the other horses had kicked him on the right fore leg and he was past going. It was very evident Diamond could not go to the celebration that day. What could now be done? Emanuel was not long in deciding the matter. They had all counted on going to the Fourth and they were going. Mr. Bardwell had a big yoke of oxen, one of them he called Tom and the other Broad. These oxen were gentle and strong and they could pull the wagon as well as the horses, but it would take them a little longer to make the trip. But no matter, they had the day before them.
Martha and all the children and Jane went up to the barn a lot to get in the wagon. There were no spring seats in those days so Aaron hunted up some short planks and placed them across the wagon bed. Emanuel and Martha sat on the front plank, the children piled in behind them, and Aaron and Jane took the back plank. When they drove out of the gate Dash and Tarry, the two dogs, followed under the wagon, panting for dear life and with their tongues hanging out of their mouths. Reuben, the Negro man, said he would walk and come on a little later. As they went up the prairie road they saw clouds of dust rising here and there as the people drove along heading into Hagers Grove. The sky was clear and the sun was hot. Tom and Broad got hot, too. When they got to the Hager farm the oxen were panting, their tongues hanging out, and the white slobber was streaming down to the ground. When they reached Hagers Grove Emanuel said they would drive down just a little way to the ford on Salt River so the oxen could get a good cool drink of water. As he was driving along the bank of the river to the ford all at once the oxen took a notion to wheel right down the steep bank into a deep hole of water. It was all done before you could say scat. Here they all went, Emanuel, Martha, the children, and Aaron and Jane. Jane went head first into the water. Aaron hit a snag as he went and tore his breeches most miserably. Wonderful as it was no one was badly hurt. When Martha got to her feet she was standing in water waist deep and the children were bobbie up here and there like turtles. Emanuel soon grabbed them all up and carried them to safety. Aaron excused himself at once and said he had to see a man at Sam Patton’s store. When Jane had rubbed the water out of her eyes she wondered what had become of Aaron. When Emanuel finally got things rounded up he drove back to Sam Patton’s house where Mrs. Patton did the best she could in fitting out the bedrabbled new comers for the due celebration of the Fourth.
Naturally they were a little late getting out to the grounds, but when they arrived on the scene the Glorious Fourth was in full blast. The Hon. Philander Mesmerizum, candidate for Congress, was making the leading speech of the day. A great crowd of men and women were listening to him as best they could while eight or ten babies were squalling at the top of their voices. Among other things he said that our feeble Colonies had whipped old King George to his knees, and now we were big enough to whip all the Kings on all the tottering thrones of Europe! Dank Dale, who was then a very young boy, had come out from Clarence to take in the sights in the metropolis of Hagers Grove, and he said he never had heard such a speech, great from start to finish. And you know Dank has always been a judge of oratory. Then just off from the speaking was the dancing floor. The fiddles were sawing away, the lads and lassies were swinging their partners, shoes were rattling like machine guns on the floor, and the goose was hanging high. At another place red lemonade was flowing from new wash tubs and they could not make it fast enough. Mr. McAfee, the Hagers Grove miller, said it was one of the biggest days he had ever seen on the north side of Salt River, and it could never be repeated on such a large scale.
About three o’clock in the afternoon the skies began to cloud over and presently heavy thunder came rolling down Salt River. Emanuel said he knew what that meant and that they must make a start for home. Tom and Broad had cooled off by this time and soon everyone of the family was climbing into the ox wagon. This time Aaron said he believed it would be better for him to ride on the front plank with Mr. Bardwell and Martha could ride on the back plank with Jane. Emanuel recalled the events of the morning and he understood the reason for Aaron’s request.
About the time the ox team procession had wended its way to John Graham’s the rain set in, a regular Fourth of July rain. A good wetting in the rain, however, was easy compared with a tumble into Salt River. Tom and Broad seemed to enjoy the rain and it was not long till they steadily pulled up in front of the log house.
Martha soon got busy getting supper for her tired and hungry boys. It was so rainy that Miss Jane Graham said she would stay all night. When they all sat down to the table they were ready for business and things went like hot cakes. Jane helped to clear away the dishes and it was not long till Martha pulled out the trundle-bed so the boys could go to the land of nod. It seems that there were lots of ticks in the brush at Hagers Grove and some of them had mounted Leonard’s anatomy. Aaron and Jane were sitting near the trundle-bed when all at once Leonard began to cry and take on as if his heart would break. What had happened? This little rascal had reached up to his breast and pulled a fat tick off. When Martha got to him he yelled, “I’ve pulled my teat off!”
Brookvale Bubbles #19
14 August 1918
Mr. Bardwell himself was rather quiet in his ways and manners, but this could not be said of his boys. These boys and noise seemed to fit one another remarkably well. Sometimes Emanuel said that his boys must have been born in a thunder-storm and they had to have noise to live on. There were no carpets in those days at the log house and in winter time the boys would come into the house rattling their hard boots on the floor as if they were so many mules running away. It was their delight to get into an empty wagon when Tige and Diamond were trotting along at a lively gait and the old wagon would make enough noise to be heard a mile away. If things got a little too quiet for them he would make a popgun and raise a noise that way. At other times in order to raise some more noise they would make a corn stalk fiddle and saw away just for the pure pleasure of making a more horrible noise.
It made a different kind of noise and added largely to the fun to tie an empty tin can to Dash=s tail and then gas him with some turpentine. This furnished free entertainment to the whole family and sometimes called in the neighbors. More than once the boys went to the timber where Mr. Rader was chopping down big trees to make rails and they would wait for an hour to hear the noise while crashing down through the other trees. Another day it got a little quiet and Willard found an old ram=s horn. When he had sawed off the little end of the horn he found that by blowing into the horn he could make a noise calculated to raise the dead. This unearthly noise lasted the boys for weeks and weeks. One day an idea hit Leonard and he said he would go to Shelbyville and get Newt Miller to make him a tin horn size feet long so that he could make a sure enough noise. The day he came home blowing his big tin horn Matt Priest was out in his woods pasture and Matt said he thought the day of Judgment had surely come.
Those Bardwell boys were not only lovers of noise, but they were willing to work hard day after day in order to raise a big noise. Take just one instance. Up on Graham=s Branch there was an old stump of a dead elm tree standing say twenty feet high. The dead wood of this tree was nearly as tough as iron. Richard said that if we could cut down this old hollow tree it would make a great big noise when it fell. It was hot summer weather, but no matter about heat and sweat, if they could only hear a big noise when the hollow tree hit the ground. For five or six days the boys chopped and hacked away on that old tree. It seemed as if they never would get the tree cut down, but finally at the last hack down she came with a crash. Richard said the noise was worth all the hard work, but the noise was not quite big enough when the tree fell. Have you a noisy boy? Please remember he was born to it.
Along late that fall Mr. John Mercer, who lived in the second log house on the Bardwell farm, came up to the house to see if Emanuel would go with him to the new blacksmith=s in the Ten Mile country. Martha told Mr. Mercer that Emanuel had cone to the mill at Bethel to get some corn ground. Mr. Mercer said that he had a wagon wheel to be fixed and he thought maybe Emanuel would like to go along with him. When Willard and the other boys found out what was on hand they wanted to go with Mr. Mercer to the shop and Martha finally consented for them to go. They did not get started till after dinner and it was Saturday. After dinner the Bardwell boys hurried down to Mr. Mercer=s and soon the wagon wheel was loaded in and they were off for a great trip to Ten Mile.
When they got to the new blacksmith=s the shop was closed and not a soul was in sight. Presently Mr. Mercer told the boys that he thought he heard the noise of men and horses down on Salt River bottom not far away, and they would walk down through the timber to see what was going on. When they got down there they found that the new blacksmith and some of his neighbors were enjoying a horse race. Mr. Mercer said he thought that when the Lord made a horse he gave him his legs for speed and the sport suited him all right. The boys never seen a horse race, but they were perfectly willing to see one. The new blacksmith had an old stiff-legged plug that he was putting up against any of the plugs up and down Salt River. Finally one of the Crawford boys said he had one he would match up with the blacksmith=s wheezer. The blacksmith whooped and yelled for joy when the Crawford boy brought out his plug. When the horses and riders were lined up Mr. Mercer stepped forward and said, AWhat is the stake, boys?@ Quick as a flash the blacksmith replied AA gallon of new sorghum molasses.@ AAgreed,@ said Crawford, and it was done. Mr. Mercer repeated deliberately, AOne, two, three,@ and the fun began. It was a quarter mile dash. The blacksmith had a big birch in his right hand and he soon saw that he had to make good use of it on his old plug. Crawford was holding his own in good shape. The blacksmith by birch and heel kicks then went ahead by a neck. Crawford improved the lick. In the last hundred yards the blacksmith thought he was a goner and in his desperation he jumped down, jerked out a spiked calf=s muzzle and jabbed the spikes into the side of his old plug to speed him on, but all to no good. Crawford went out ahead.
The blacksmith came back roaring with laughter. He laughed so loud that they could hear him up and down the river for nearly a mile. He fell down on the ground and rolled over and over many times laughing. He said the funny thing was that when he was nearly beating the life out of his old plug to make him go he looked over and Crawford had reached down to his horse=s mane and had his mouth full of hair kicking and tugging away for dear life. It was fun for all the neighbors and they said it was the greatest horse race they had ever seen.
When the blacksmith had somewhat recovered himself Mr. John Mercer took a square look at him and said, to the wonder of every man present, AHello Pard, first time I met you was at the horse races in Mobile, Alabama and the last time at the New Orleans horse races. What under the sun are you doing here? I did not learn your name then and I do not know it now, but we will find out some day. You are a good sport all right and we will have some big times.@
It seems that this blacksmith had been making sorghum molasses and his breeches and shirt were all gummed up in great shape. The Bardwell boys noticed that nearly everything he had touched stuck to his breeches, leaves, grass, a buzzard=s feathers, a dead bat=s wing, part of a coon=s tail, rose leavers, a skunk=s hair, a hog=s bristles, a white pond lily, and a snake=s skin. He was a sight. They enjoyed his fun, but they could not understand the carelessness of his appearance.
Brookvale Bubbles #20
16 October 1918
Mr. Bardwell generally kept a job lot of from ten to twelve cows on the farm to supply milk and butter to the family indirectly to give his boys something to do. This gave the boys a chance to live right at the fountain of life because most of them could and did drink down a whole cupful of fresh milk at a time. It was worth working for and the boys took to the job with delight. Occasionally the milking of the cows was not so pleasant. On rainy nights the cows would be late coming up and when they did come it was bawl, bawl, bawl, rain, rain, rain, and thunder and lightening. It also meant muddy feet on account of wading around the barn lot in mud. When Willard got back to the house after such a night=s milking Martha would say, AWillard, you and the other boys wash your feet before you go to bed.@ This the boys did very carefully at least to the extent of kicking a foot into a wash pan and giving said foot-one lick with a rag. This cleanly way the boys called washing their feet Awith a lick and a promise.@ In fact, they seemed to sleep much better if a good coating of mother earth hung fast and hard to their feet.
Martha had charge of the tobacco patch. That is to say she made it her business to see that the boys kept some business hours regularly in the tobacco patch. Early in the spring Emanuel would burn a brush pile out in the woods pasture, sow the burnt ground with tobacco seed, and fence it. A little later the tobacco plants would be big enough to set out and then the trouble would begin. It took a good shower of rain to start the trouble for the plants had to be set out after a shower. It was all simply done by bending your back forward down to the ground, punch a hole in the soft ground with your fore finger, set the tobacco plant in the hole, and then with both hands press the dirt around the roots. Repeat this during all the office hours of the forenoon and the afternoon and your back will have an ache for every bone and then some more. After two or three days of setting out tobacco plants Willard said he had to sleep flat of his back for three of four nights so that both ends of him would come down level with the bed. Then the next thing was the hoe to hoe the weeds out of the tobacco. Early in the morning it was all right, but by 11:30, nearly time to close any well regulated office, Martha would say, ARichard, here are fifteen more rows to hoe before dinner; now make the weeds fly.@ And they had to fly before dinner. When the tobacco got bigger then came the big tobacco worms, big horned green things. Each one had to be mashed between finger and thumb. One day when Leonard squirted some of the green juice from a tobacco worm into his eye he relieved himself of this remark: ATobacco was made for worms and men.@ It was in this tobacco patch that the Bardwell boys met their first bunch of suckers, but these were tobacco suckers, and not the other sort. They first dealt with suckers growing on tobacco plants, a tender guy to be pulled, and later in life they met plenty of oil well suckers, gold mine suckers, silver mine suckers, gold brick suckers, Christian and scientific suckers and all kinds of suckers.
But it was not all hard work for the boys, such as milking, churning, and raising tobacco. After some hard work then some good fun is a very good way for boys to run things. One evening about dusk Leonard said to Richard, ALet=s go out to the west end of the lane where the cows and cattle come in from the prairie and fix up some fun.@ That was enough and they were soon gone. This lane running along the north side of the Bardwell farm was more than a quarter of a mile long. About half way down this lane there was a ravine and a mud hole about ten feet wide. This mud hole was a regular loblolly, mud and water. Richard and Leonard got out in the middle of the lane at the west end, pulled off their old hats, turned them bottom side up, filled them heaping full of dust and jumped over the fence into a fence corner. The plan was to wait till the cows and cattle came browsing from the prairie into the lane. When the last hoof was in Richard and Leonard jumped over the fence and threw their hats full of dust over among the cattle moving to the gentle tune of the old cowbell. All at once the stampede among the cattle started and they went like a thunder-storm down the road. When the leaders hit the mud hole the boys were standing where they could see the mud fly forward, right and left. The cattle coming after threw the mud all over the leaders till they were sights. A cyclone could have hardly beat it for throwing mud water high and in every direction. When the boys got down to the mud hole the sides of the fence were plastered with mud for twenty feet on either side and the lane ahead was muddy for twenty yards. Up the lane the cattle went as if they were going with a storm of thunder. They seemed to think that the Devil and the Hoblegobledus were after them. The boys rolled over in the dust of the lane and laughed. They had never seen cows and cattle but such capers and raise such mud and dust. Then they recovered themselves sufficiently they looked around for their old hats and at last they found them. Flat as a flitter would hardly describe the condition of the hats, but no matter, they and the dust in them had started the moving picture and that was enough.
When these wild cattle reached the woods near the barn they were thundering down through the timber in every direction. By this time they were hot and wild and dangerous. It so happened that Aaron Ray and Jane were down on Graham=s Branch at a deep hole of water fishing. Before Aaron knew what was going on a big steer hit him in the back and knocked him into the deep hole of water and the steer fell in on top of him. In a few minutes Jane saw blood come up to the surface and spread around on top of the water. The mad steer went up the bank on the other side and ran on through the woods. By that time Aaron=s two hands had come up above the water and before Jane knew what she was doing she dived in to save Aaron=s life. She had not lived on Graham=s Branch and near Salt River for nothing. She knew how to swim as all girls should know and she soon had Aaron safe at the bank of the stream. Aaron=s right arm had been broken and it was bleeding quite freely. Reuben, the Negro man, had come into the woods to see what on earth had happened to the cattle, and he helped Jane to bring Aaron up to the log house where he had all care given him.
In the next Brookvale Tale we hope to meet Mr. James R. Graham, the special friend of the Bardwell boys and a friend to all boys.
Brookvale Bubbles #21
23 June 1920
I left Chillicothe the other day for Hank’s town, the biggest city on the Burlington between Clarence and Shelbina. There I met Mr. Tom Moore, one of the substantial and well-known citizens of Shelby County.
Hank came out of his strawberry patch and gave me a most cordial greeting. I am not allowed to tell all that passed between us. I can give out at least this much and I hope all the girls and young maids of Shelby and surrounding counties will make a note of it and take the matter to heart. It is this: Hank has made me a ------! Now the law does not permit me to budge an inch beyond that letter “a,” and what that blank line stands for is one of the secrets locked up in the post office safe to remain there subject to the order of Father time. But a hint to wise young maids is sufficient.
I intended to go fishing down on Salt River while I was visiting my sister, Mrs. Anna J. Ballard, and my brother, Wm. R. Gray, but so many non-residents of Bacon Chapel neighborhood fished all day Sunday I knew it was no use to throw in my line on Monday. I pity the fish in Salt River when Sunday comes.
I met Brother Nathan Taylor at Sunday school at Bacon Chapel. For a number of years he was superintendent of this Sunday school and he is still interested in this great work of the church. His life is a worth-while life and he stands well in the community.
My brother’s Saxon switched me over to Brookvale early Monday morning, and I found Ollie W. Gay plowing corn. He seemed to be all right in his head, but I do not know exactly about it. I understand that the Kirby Farm Club has appointed a committee to keep something of a watch over him on account of some of his unusual actions. Recently he took one of his plows to Mr. Tanner at Kirby to have some unusual holes drilled in some of the irons and when the blacksmith asked him what the holes were for Ollie said he was getting ready to extract all the electricity out of the planet Mars to run the oil boring machine at Kirby. The Kirby Farm Club committee has found out that when Mr. Gay dreams at night he mutters something which sounds like this: “More corn, more corn, more corn, a bigger corn crop, a bigger corn crop, a bigger corn crop.” The committee has not yet decided on a trip with him to St. Joseph. The case is not very serious at present and I think I can bring in a more hopeful report later.
Now, a word about Black Creek. The historian tells us that Black Creek got its name from the black water which flow between its banks. But the ancient historian and the modern geologist are not agreed, it seems. The modern geologist with credentials direct from John D. Rockefeller tells us that the waters of Black Creek are black because the entire Black Creek valley from Iowa to Salt River is underlaid with pools of Black Crude Oil, and these oil pools are as big as Lake Michigan. The wonder is that this great oil lake did not burst out years ago, and if it had done so, it would have swept Kirby off the map. Earn W. McKillip and Willis McCracken with many others say that big oil pool is somewhere down in the earth between Kirby and China, and they are ready to bore through to China if necessary.
Frank McKillip and the Weemes boys say they are going to get married when they strike oil at Kirby. Now, girls, it is time to go to praying for the success of the oil drillers on the Von Thun farm, and may your prayers bring up the oil, and land the husbands!
Brookvale Bubbles #22
30 November 1921
First, a matter of friendship. In my last Brookvale letter I made reference to Marcus Graham, my grandfather, of Lebanon, Ky. When he first came from North Ireland he settled at Orange, Virginia. Orange is the home town of President James Madison, the fourth President of the United States. David Graham, a kinsman to Marcus Graham, also settled at Orange. David Graham prospered well in business. At one time he held a mortgage of sixteen thousand dollars on Montpelier, the country estate of President Madison. My brother D. G. Gray, formerly of Clarence, Mo., and now of Kansas City, is named David Graham for this David Graham of Orange, Virginia. During all the years David Graham of Orange had an abiding friendship for Marcus Graham of Lebanon, Ky. So David Graham of Virginia, when he made his will, left my grandfather, Marcus Graham, ten thousand dollars. It was a part of this money which enabled me as a young student to attend Central College at Fayette, Mo., and Vanderbilt University at Nashville, Tenn. Some years ago I had the pleasure of a visit to Montpelier, Va., the country home of President Madison, and one evening at sunset I stood with uncovered head at the grave of David Graham in the cemetery at Orange, Virginia.
Now for a trip from Lebanon, Ky., down to Bardstown, my father=s home town. Mrs. W. R. Johnston and her son James at the wheel are out in front in their splendid Chandler six honking for us to get in: Mrs. James Marcus Bricken has the chicken dinner lunch (O my!) all ready and we are off.
This part of Kentucky has had hard roads for about a hundred years and they are now in reasonably good condition. On the way we pass St. Catherine=s, a massive pile of college buildings, Roman Catholic, right out in the open country. These buildings would do credit to New York City. We also pass the farm where Ben Hardin of Bardstown is buried. He was a great lawyer, a member of Congress, one of the important framers of the Constitution of Kentucky, and related to Gov. Charles H. Hardin, of Mexico, Mo.
Now we are at Springfield, Ky., the county seat of Washington county, one incident makes Springfield, Ky., forever famous. In the clerk=s office here at Springfield is recorded the marriage license authorizing the marriage of the father and mother of Abraham Lincoln.
About five miles out from Bardstown, Ky., we come to one of the greatest roads I have seen in Kentucky. It is great. It is as fine as Linwood Boulevard in Kansas City. It is a Tarvia road and the car runs as smooth as silk. For heaven=s sake when we get on the job of spending that sixty million dollars for good roads here in Missouri let us have some of these Tarvia roads.
Here we stop at the edge of Bardstown at Federal Hill, AThe Old Kentucky Home.@ Right now I had just as well confess to some surprises. I had thought of the AOld Kentucky Home@ as the usual Kentucky house, a big room at each end, a hallway between, and tall chimneys at each end of the house. Not so. It is an immense structure. Think of fifteen or twenty brick kilns piled up into one structure and then you have a better idea of the real thing. It is a mansion of commanding proportions. This great mansion was built by Capt. John Rowan in 1795. He was later United States Senator. He came from Scotland. Talk about blue blood, those old pioneers had it. Another surprise which came to me was that King Louis Phillipe of France was once entertained at this Rowan mansion. Hither also often came the immortal Henry Clay.
But these are not the things which have made this great mansion famous for all time to come. In 1853, the year after my father and mother left the Bardstown country, Stephen Collins Foster came down from Pittsburg, Pa., to visit his kinsman, Capt. John Rowan. Slaves and their children were all about the premises. It was here on a table in this Rowan mansion that Stephen Collins Foster wrote the song, AThe Old Kentucky Home.@ This song has made immortal fame for Rowan=s old home. The state of Kentucky has recently bought the mansion with 235 acres of ground. In a few months Kentucky is to celebrate a great reunion at Federal Hill. The governors of Pennsylvania and Kentucky, with a large delegation from Pittsburg, are to be present. It will be a great occasion.
One more Brookvale Bubble and I am done this series of letters. I went to the Recorder=s office at Bardstown and found this record of deeds made by my father and mother from John Hickman in 1852. This deed was for twelve and a half acres of land in the north part of Nelson county, Ky. The price was four hundred and fifty dollars. Then we drove but on the Louisville pike to Cox=s Creek church, a large brick Baptist church, where my father held his membership. His name is here recorded Emanuel Lemon Gray.. My name, Lemon, is for my father. In the cemetery I found the monuments of a number of my relatives, the Oliphants and the Robys. From the church I went to the parcel of ground which my father sold in 1852 when he came to Missouri. Mr. Jones showed me where my father=s house and shop used to stand. I went to see Mr. Phil Crume, one of my father=s old neighbors. He is past the eighties. He told me that he remembered ALem@ Gray. He said ALem@ Gray=s wife was a beautiful woman. He said, ALem@ Gray made one of the best plows that was ever in that country. When my father was a boy plows were made with a wooden mouldboard. My father made an iron mouldboard plow and this was the plow Mr. Crume had in mind. He said ALem@ Gray was a good fiddler, and I said yes, but he would never play for dances. Without doubt Phil Crume knew my father.
Brookvale Bubbles #23
18 October 1922
It has been a good while since a Brookvale Bubble bubbled so here and now the bubblation begins once more. This scribe has been busy of late and like many another scribbler he had neglected his reportorial duties.
First, a word about Hank. I notice that some time last summer President Harding let him off from his many and multifarious duties at Lentner, U.S. A., for a visit down to Florida, Mo., where the immortal mark Twain first saw the light of day. I think this was quite a commendable literary ambition on the part of Hank. It is something to get into the Mark Twain class. When I read on a little further, however, I discovered that Hank had another motive. If I got the right hang of the story it was about this: A certain Mr. Violette down there at Florida, Mo., was raising good looking Campfire girls by the are nine hundred acres of them, just think of it and then cap the climax Mr. Violette furnished a high porch and a telescope free of charge for Hank to look over the whole blooming township of pretty girls! Talk about literary ambitions all mixed up with hundreds of acres of calico! It seems to me from present indications that Hank stands in need of about a dozen preachers or more to help him out of his Floridian difficulties.
ATis Frank McKillip wants a girl, He=s not the man to shake her; But Hank he takes then in a whirl, He wants them by the acre!@
Now I want to burst a bubble about the Missouri Conference at Moberly. A Shelby county boy, Bishop William Fletcher McMurry, presided. Shelby county has never sent a man to the Governor=s chair at Jefferson City, but she has given the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, one of her truly great bishops. I know he gave Bro, Tanquary a good appointment down at Elsberry for I have been there and I know those people. A lot of my wife=s kin live in those regions, I also know that Bishop McMurry sent a mighty fine man, Rev. S. E. Hoover to Shelbyville. The Shelby county folks can tie to Hoover because he is a man of fine character and he is a good preacher. The longer you know him the better you like him.
It has been my pleasure of late to make a visit back to old Kentucky, to Lebanon, the birthplace of my mother. I never had seen those cathedral hills and those beautiful valleys of Old Kentucky but they are there as in the days of yore. The part of Kentucky that I was in was once a part of Virginias and then it was called Jefferson county, Virginia. Time has also changed matters with the fine Kentucky horses. The fine horses are there now but they limp around a good deal since Henry Ford got on the job. The famous millionaire lumberman of Kansas City, R. A. Long is from this region of Kentucky, and it is no wonder that his daughter is still a lover of fine horses.
And what about hose beautiful women of Kentucky? They are there to this day, charming and beautiful. If Howard Weemes of Kirby were to spend one week among those beautiful Kentucky women he would be married in a month=s time and maybe sooner.
Have I left out anything? Possibly you thought I had not mentioned Kentucky whisky, the old Kentucky brand. An old colored man at Lebanon told me that I was stopping within two blocks of twenty-seven thousand barrels of whisky stored in one of Lebanon=s distilleries. Now for heaven=s sake don=t tell all of my Kirby and Shelbyville friends about this discovery. The United States Government stands at the bunghole of each one of these barrels and you cannot buy, beg or steal a single Adrop.@ Even the leaks go into the ground. So please pass us a glass of water.
Here and now I want to make a request of the readers of the Herald wherever they may be found. Not far from Lebanon, Ky., is something of a mountain called Muldrow=s Hill. I am wondering if it is named for any of the Muldrows of Marion or Shelby county, Mo. Were any of the Shelby county Muldrows from either Washington, Marion or Taylor county, Ky.? William Muldrow was a prominent man in the early history of Marion county, Mo. Possibly some of his relatives lived in Shelby county, Mo. Did any of the Shelby county, Mo., Muldrows come from the Lebanon, Ky., country? If any one knows please address me at Chillicothe, Mo.
I have always had a high esteem for one of the leading citizens of Shelbyville, Mr. James H. Edelen. At Lebanon, Ky., I met a high class man by the name of Edelen and I asked him if he was kin to James H. Edelen of Shelbyville Mo., and he said he was quilty.
I also met a family of high standing at Lebanon, Ky., by the name of Edmonds. I was informed they were related to the McMurtrys and McMurrys of Shelby county, Mo. By the way, the McMurrys of Shelby county, Mo., are from Lebanon, Ky., country.
If the editor of the Herald will permit it I will send in some further Brookvale Bubbles concerning my trip to Kentucky as time and opportunity may afford.
Brookvale Bubbles #24
1 November 1922
I promised some further Bubbles about my recent trip to Lebanon, Ky. I had my home with relatives, Mr. And Mrs. Marcus Bricken. Bishop McMurry preached in Lebanon and at in an early day some ? is came out from Virginia ? there at this place they ? spring and some tall cedar tree this reminded them of the Bible, so they called Lebanon, it is a town about the size of Macon, Mo. It is a memorable thing to me because my mother, Martha Ellen Graham, was born near there and spent her young girlhood there. One Sunday while there I attented the Presbyterian church where she held her membership. It is sacred to me. My mother=s ? Ann J. Bricken, now buried in the Lebanon cemetery. Holding through this beautiful years ? especially the monument of former Governor of Kentucky, Proctor Knott. Proctor Knott was one time a citizen of Mo. A Kentuckian by birth ??? to Kentucky and was elected to Congress. It was one of Knott=s humorous oratorical in Congress which made Duluth, MN famous and that speech made Knott forever famous. He was elected Governor of KY and his ashes now rest in the beautiful Lebanon Cemetery. ???? cousin James M. Bricken, took possession of the old farm where my ???? born. She was a daughter ??????? was born?????He????an early?????? Marion county?????for whom I ????? of Marcus Graham?????? For years a ????? of Shelbyville, ??????Jimmie Graham???? Davy Graham, ?????County people.??????Marcus Graham????? AUncle Bobbie@>>>> seven miles west?????? Mo.????am of Lebanon, Ky.,????Isabella Cunningham of ????and she is my grand????the line of the Cunninghams?????the Beals and Magruders????back to the sixteenth century???Pat Coates of Shelby county Mo., knew these Grahams ??? I made a sacred visit to the ground where my grandfather and grandmother are buried. My grandfather and great-grandfather also sleep in this parcel of ??. You see I am Irish too. One evening some years ago I was on the deck of the Cata??? Of the Cunard line approaching the coast of Ireland. The sailors said ALand ahead,@ and I leaned over the failing, my hand over my ??? westward. Something ???? looked like a ???? veil and they said that was the coast of west Ireland. In an instant was in tears to think that I was able to see the old sod where my Grandfather Graham was born. Next time I hope to give some ???? AThe Old Kentucky Home@ ?? town.
Brookvale Bubbles #25
8 November 1922
First, a matter of friendship. In my last Brookvale letter I made reference to Marcus Graham, my grandfather, of Lebanon, Ky. When he first came from North Ireland he settled at Orange, Virginia. Orange is the home town of President James Madison, the fourth President of the United States. David Graham, a kinsman to Marcus Graham, also settled at Orange. David Graham prospered well in business. At one time he held a mortgage of sixteen thousand dollars on Montpelier, the country estate of President Madison. My brother, D. G. Gray, formerly of Clarence, Mo., and now of Kansas City, is named David Graham for this David Graham of Orange, Virginia. During all the years David Graham of Orange had an abiding friendship for Marcus Graham of Lebanon, Ky. So David Graham of Virginia, when he made his will, left my grandfather, Marcus Graham, ten thousand dollars. It was a part of this money which enabled me as a young student to attend Central College at Fayette, Mo., and Vanderbilt University at Nashville, Tenn. Some years ago I had the pleasure of a visit to Montpelier, Va., the country home of President Madison, and one evening at sunset I stood with uncovered head at the grave of David Graham in the cemetery at Orange, Virginia.
Now for a trip from Lebanon, Ky., down to Bardstown, my father=s home town. Mrs. W. R. Johnston and her son James at the wheel are out in front in their splendid Chandler six honking for us to get in. Mrs. James Marcus Bricken has the chicken dinner lunch (O my!) all ready and we are off.
This part of Kentucky has had hard roads for about a hundred years and they are now in reasonably good condition. On the way we pass St. Catherine=s, a massive pile of college buildings, Roman Catholic, right out in the open country. These buildings would do credit to New York City. We also pass the farm where Ben Hardin of Bardstown is buried. He was a great lawyer, a member of Congress, one of the important framers of the Constitution of Kentucky, and related to Gov. Charles H. Hardin, of Mexico, Mo.
Now we are at Springfield, Ky., the county seat of Washington county. President Lincoln makes Springfield, Ky., forever famous. In the clerk=s office here at Springfield is recorded the marriage license authorizing the marriage of the father and mother of Abraham Lincoln.
About five miles out from Bardstown, Ky., we come to see one of the greatest roads I have seen in Kentucky. It is great. It is as fine as Linwood Boulevard in Kansas City. It is a Tarvia road and the car runs as smooth as silk. For heaven=s sake when we get on the job of spending that sixty million dollars for good roads here in Missouri let us have some of these Tarvia roads.
Here we stop at the edge of Bardstown at Federal Hill, AThe Old Kentucky Home.@ Right now I had just as well confess to some surprises. I had thought of the AOld Kentucky Home@ as the usual Kentucky house, a big room at each end, a hallway between, and tall chimneys at each end of the house. Not so. It is an immense structure. Think of fifteen or twenty brick kilns piled up into one structure and then you have a better idea of the real thing. It is a mansion of commanding proportions. This great mansion was built by Capt. John Rowan in 1795. He was later United States Senator. He came from Scotland. Talk about blue blood, those old pioneers had it. Another surprise which came to me was that King Louis Phillipe of France was once entertained at this Rowan mansion. Hither also often came the immortal Henry Clay.
But these are not the things which have made this great mansion famous for all time to come. In 1853, the year after my father and mother left the Bardstown country, Stephen Collins Foster came down from Pittsburg, Pa., to visit his kinsman, Capt. John Rowan. Slaves and their children were all about the premises. It was here on a table in this Rowan mansion that Stephen Collins Foster wrote the song AThe Old Kentucky Home.@ This song has made immortal fame for Rowan=s old home. The state of Kentucky has recently bought the mansion with 235 acres of ground. In a few months Kentucky is to celebrate a great reunion at Federal Hill. The governors of Pennsylvania and Kentucky with a large delegation from Pittsburg, are to be present. It will be a good occasion.
One more Brookvale Bubble and I am done this series of letters. I went to the Recorder=s office at Bardstown and found the record of deed made by my father and mother to John Hickman in 1852. This deed was for twelve and a half acres of land in the north part of Nelson county, Ky. The price was four hundred and fifty dollars. Then we drove out on the Louisville pike to Cox=s Creek church, a large brick Baptist church, where my father had held his membership. His name is here recorded Emanuel Lemon Gray. My name, Lemon, is for my father. In the cemetery I found the monuments of a number of my relatives, the Oliphants and the Robys. From the church I went to the parcel of ground which my father sold in 1852 when he came to Missouri. Mr. Jones showed me where my father=s house and shop used to stand. I went to see Mr. Phil Crume, one of my father=s old neighbors. He is past the eighties. He told me what he remembered ALem@ Gray. He said ALem@ Gray=s wife was a beautiful woman. He said, ALem@ Gray made one of the best plows that was ever in that country. When my father was a boy plows were made with a wooden mouldboard. My father made an iron mouldboard plow and this was the plow Mr. Crume had in mind. He said ALem@ Gray was a good fiddler, and I said yes, but he would never play for dances. Without doubt Phil Crume knew my father.
Brookvale Bubbles #26
3 June 1936
It has been a long time since these Brookvale Bubbles have bubbled and now I am afraid these bubbles are going to flow out over the banks. It has been a good long time since I have had time to wander around over Shelbyville. So the other day I took a perambulation, and that means a walk around over the old town. I wanted to locate the old home of Alex Irwin, so I went up main street, if that is the proper name for it, and I saw a lady sitting out on her front porch and I asked her if that house over there was the old home of Alex Irwin, and she told me it was. This lady proved to be Mrs. Prince Dimmitt. Prince and I studied Latin and Greek together in the old Shelbyville High School, Prof. D. M. Conway in charge.
Then I perambulated some more and went to see Mrs. J. M. O=Bryen. She was a mother to me down at Clarksville, Mo., in the years gone by, and I have never forgotten her many kindnesses to me and my young bride. On the way down town I met Mrs. Cary Winetroub and she told me she wanted to buy a copy of the ACentennial Volume of Missouri Methodism.@ Wonder if anyone could sell her a copy?
I had pleasant visits with my kin, Mrs. Anna J. Ballard, Mrs. Bertha McMaster, and Mrs. W. R. Gray. I finally got down to the J. B. Lowman home and had a good fellowship in that hospitable home. Good folks.
Next morning it rained. Eddie Tarbet came in for me in the car and we pulled out for Brookvale. Passed out not far from Ollie Gay=s. Saw where he had evidently got mad at the mud and has built a fine highway right past his house. That=s the way to do it and goodby old man mud. Then off west from 15 to real mud. We took in the whole road, ditches and almost some of the fences. The car went north, south, west and east, with Eddie still hanging on to the wheel. Met Howard Weems and William Tarbet and he told us the road was worse further on, and that was comforting. Finally we stuck and Mont and John gave us a push and we went sailing on. That car was like some politicians. It did not seem to know where it was going or where it would land, more likely in the ditch. I hope the leaders will be like Eddie, hang on to the wheel and bring us to a safe landing.
Things look good at Brookvale. Oats waving in the wind, corn up, and pastures the best ever. Bluegrass seeding. With chores done and business done, then out for a visit with Charlie Carroll over in the Bacon Chapel neighborhood. He and I have made our escape from hospitals and are fellow sufferers.
So Denver Tarbet becomes engineer at the wheel of Miss Berdell=s world famous Ford and we were off. We pass the old Dr. Dimmitt farm, the Sampson Lowman old home, across Salt River and up the hill. See a man plowing, stop and inquire for Charlie Carroll. The plowman says, AHello Bro. Gray.@-Clyde Porter. He tells us Charlie is at the Edmondson home near Lentner. Back in the car, I told Denver it would never do for me to steal a horse because Strangers would soon spot me. Mrs. Edmondson came to the front door and said, AWell, it is Bro. Gray.@ She said Charlie had just gone to Lentner. We knew it would be some job to find him in that city. Back in the car I told Denver it would never do for me to steal and automobile because they would get my name in a jiffy. So on to Hank=s town. Going up Broadway some gentleman standing in a store door hailed us and commanded us to stop right there. He turned out to be Bro. Dines. Inside was Charlie. He and I talked of hospitals and surgery that it would have made Dr. Woods ashamed of himself. I asked Bro. Dines how he happened to be out in front to hail us. He said Mrs. Edmondson had phoned in and told them we were coming. When we got out I told Denver it would not do for me to steal and airplane because they would nab me right now.
Then over to jaw Hank awhile. Found him in charge of the United States and sitting pretty. In a good humor with all mankind and the rest of the world. He is the Dean of newspaper correspondents in all northeast Missouri. Is as widely known as Jack Blanton down at Paris. He has written up Mark Twain down at Florida, Mo., and he has promised to come up to Chillicothe and try his hand on one of the very much smaller minor prophets.
Goodby, Hank, and then on to Shelbina to visit Guymon Hatcher for a bit at the M. F. A. filling station, and with Mr. Leaton, former R. R. agent at Shelbina, and who has recently lost his wife. He was born in Texas, studied telegraphy in Chillicothe, and had been with the Burlington for years. A friend of mine and a fine man. Then back to Shelbyville to be with the kin.
Next morning Mr. W. C. Hewitt kindly agreed to see me over to Shelbina. We went on rubber and air, his auto-radio singing a fine tune for our entertainment as we split the wind. I suppose it was a Democratic tune. Thanks, Cres.
BROOKVALE BUBBLES WRITER DIES #27
31 January 1940
The Rev. Marcus Lemon Gray, a prominent supernnauated Methodist minister and formerly of this vicinity, died at his home in Chillicothe Sunday evening.
Funeral services were held yesterday afternoon at 2:30 o=clock from the Elm Street Methodist Church to the Edgewood Cemetery in Chillicothe. Pastors who took part in the services included: The Rev. W. A. Tetley of Kansas City, the Rev. L. W. Cleland and the Rev. G. A. Shadwick of Chillicothe, the Rev. Fred P. Haynes of Richmond, and the Revs. C. J. Doane and W. J. Willcoxon of Kansas City. The Masonic Lodge, of which Mr. Gray was a member, also conducted a short service at the church.
Mr. Gray was born eight miles west of her October 7, 1857. His parents, both Kentuckians, were Emanuel lemon and Martha Ellen Graham Gray. He was educated in the Shelbyville schools, Central College at Fayette, and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. He became interested in the ministry in the fall of 1874, received his deacon=s orders in 1882 at Plattsburg and his elder=s orders in September of 18855 at Columbia. He was a member of the Missouri Conference for 33 years but never held a church in this county.
The Rev. and Mrs. Gray celebrated their golden wedding anniversary July 2, 1932. They were married at Mrs. Gray=s home in Lincoln County, Mo., while the pastor was assistant at the Methodist Church in Clarksville. She was the former Miss Margaret.
Mrs. Gordon Harvey
Elsewhere there will be notices of the death of the Rev. Marcus Lemon Gray of Chillicothe; who died at his home seven p.m. Sunday. Owner of ABrookvale@ farm and author of ABrookvale Bubbles@, which were widely read and enjoyed. The writer has always cherished the visit he and his sister, Mrs. Anna Ballard, made us some years ago. Glad of the encouragement of such a fine Christian individual. A Shelby County product, a lifelong Christian and prominent in the Methodist churches of Missouri where he preached for many years.