Recollections of the Past
Calhoun Chronicle Editor Samuel C. Barr
Thursday, 2:30 a.m.
Weary and tired of wrestling with eyes that refuse to sleep, and thoughts
that wonder from one subject to another, we have concluded to while away
the time until breakfast by jotting down a few things we remember, and
if anyone so desires they may call it history.
We have never had
any thought of writing history or a novel, but our present surroundings,
the magnificent improvements, as compared with conditions in the writer's
boyhood days, calls for more than a passing notice.
Whether what we remember shall be of any interest to readers or otherwise
is a question to be hereafter determined. We shall not attempt to
write all we remember, but a few of the most, to us, significant points,
some of which, to others, may seem very foolish, but that is none of our
We made our first kick in this world Jan. 10th, 1857 as detailed by
the family record, and for a short period thereafter we seem to have no
recollection. The first thing we remember was sitting on the floor,
a puncheon floor at that, of the old round log house, made of beech, maple,
oak, poplar and any other kind of timber that happened to be convenient,
and which was "chinked and dobbed" to make it warm, and had a fire place
about six feet in length and a window about 2x2 feet, over which greased,
white paper was pasted, but later a sash with 8x10 glass was placed in
lieu of the paper, crying for bread and milk (and we are still at the same
Nothing transpired from that time until 1860 to attract
especial attention, except to get in a year or two more time with the first
siege of "seven year itch."
To detail all we remember of the years 1860 to '65 would take too long,
but one or two things we remember shall not be passed unnoticed.
The first soldiers the writer ever saw, or men seeking to join the rebellion,
we cannot remember, were Elmore Yoak, Peter Saurborne and a young man by
the name of Frank Clellen.
These three men came to the house of the
writer's father and tarried for quite a while, taking by force, when they
left, father's old flint lock gun, or rather, as we remember, it was taken
by Saurborne. (Sauborne was later beheaded)
At any rate we distinctly remember of hearing our mother
tell the particular man who took the gun, that he would get killed with
it in his hands. And he, brave that he was, replied that he would
get on the hills and peep over for the d--n yankies. The writer's
father, at the same time begged young Clelland to stay with him, agreeing
to pay him good wages for work, but he like the rest, was bound to rebel,
and in less than a week from the day they left the little log hut on Philip's
Run they were hauled by the same place dead, dead, dead!
now a Baptist preacher in Nicholas county and Rev. Joseph Smith brought
in and cared for their bodies. They were hauled in a rough wagon
pulled by two horses, one of the men riding what is knows as the "near
horse" to do the driving. They halted near the present residence
of the writer's mother, but the road was opposite where it now is, and
we all went out to view their remains.
As we remember the matter,
it was a most ghastly sight. They were lying on straw and were covered
with a home-made linen sheet. One or more of them had been shot more
than once. All had been killed somewhere near the present residence
of G.W. Gibson.
This was the first funeral procession the writer
had ever witnessed. The next war reminiscence was some time after
this when we were awakened from our nightly slumbers by the sobs and cries
of Caroline Bryan, nee Smith, whose husband the yankies had just killed
at or near the present residence of M.D. Fowler on Mt. Nebo.
Bryan, as we remember him, was a man of fine appearance and physically
strong, but his evil night came.
Groups of soldiers, both Federal and Confederate passed and repassed
too often for comfort after that until the final close of the war, when
all men and good little boys, like the writer, who was just learning to
chew "tobacker" so as to look large, uttered one grand hallelujah and amen.
During all this period, soldiers, especially the Confederates, were
continually in need of horses, and to use the language of the late Joshua
Bell, they had "confiscated" as many as five of our very best ones, leaving
us nothing but an old flea bitten gray mare on which all of our milling
was done, and, by the way, going to mill in those days was no child's play,
Stumptown and Tannersville being our closest points, and they were only
water power mills and did not always grind.
The time between 1857 and 1865 brings us to a period where we began
to want pants and shoes and three four years later we began to be clamorous
for a shirt.
All the fabrics out of which clothing was made was home
made from start to finish, and a woman with a large family could scarcely
make a sufficient amount of the different kinds of cloth to clothe her
But about 1869 Solomon Wilson tanned some mutton hides into leather,
but they called it "yaller leather," for want of blacking, out of which
the other members of our family were provided with shoes, which left the
writer out until a year later and then Grandfather Barr, made us a pair
of shoes, which, at that time, was the most valuable piece of property
we have ever owned.
Shoes, pants and a shirt, all at the same time
at the age of thirteen years gave us a decided swelling of the head.
But, in the meantime, some of our fathers, realizing the importance
of education, had made a slight move toward erecting a school house, building
on Pine creek, near where the school house now is, by the farm of Jabez
Some of those who contributed to the building of this house
are yet living but a majority have gone to their last resting place.
J.C. Gainer, Solomen Wilson and Allen Stalnaker being about the only men
we remember who are yet among the living. After the house was completed
the first school was taught by Call. (?) Kessinger.
This was a summer
school and large boys got but little benefit from it. The second
school was taught by G.G. Stump, who now resides at Rocksdale, and from
him we took our first lessons in arithmetic.
The next school was
taught by J.P. Knight, and by that time most of us boys were old enough
to get girls on the brain, doing but little good in school for this reason.
During the early periods of this county's history all men and women
and children fared alike and the Lord knows the fare was hard enough.
One thing that we did not have then that is now rapidly growing upon
our people and that is caste.
We would write here and give details of our experience with, possibly,
the best coon dog that ever barked up a tree, and how we did grind corn
on a hand mill and drink coffee made of corn, wheat, rye and other thing,
the coffee thus made being called "snort" (?), but we fear that our readers
would get tired and our scanty meal is now about ready and we call a halt
here, and will next week observe some of our advancements as a people.
There are so many things to which we can point with pride and admiration
that, contemplating, we naturally lose sight of the hardships of the past
and revel in our more fortunate present surroundings.