This narrative was first published in 2000 in Wall–Gates Family Treasures, an extensive family history book self-published in Utah by Ulah Viola Jones, Rulon Nephi Smithson, and Marian Andreason Smith, three grandchildren of Lillie Gates Wall. They provide the following details in the introduction:
Lillie Alice Gates Wall left us a remarkable story of her life in four and a half steno size notebooks. There were also some loose pages that we had to find a place for. We also had a typed copy of her story which was typed by either Ruth or Sylvia. We compiled this record directly from her notes, including underlining the words she underlined for emphasis. We used the typed copy occasionally to help fit the loose pages in and whenever there was a questionable interpretation. For those reasons the typed copy was helpful. We made minor changes only for clarity and continuity.
In this new edition I have made minor formatting changes and added new footnotes to give added context to Lillie’s narrative. Most of the original footnotes from the Wall-Gates Family Treasures version have been reproduced as well.
The Story of My Life
by Lillie Alice Gates Wall
Monday – April 16, 1945, Salt Lake City, Utah. By request I will write the story of my life as much as I can remember of the pleasant things, or maybe some of the not so pleasant things, but important to link incidents together.
* * *
I, Lillie Alice Gates, was born June 27, 1875, near Glasgow, Barren Co., Kentucky, and lived there with my parents, William and Mary Elizabeth Hamilton Gates until the spring of the year 1879.
I do not remember much about our home in Kentucky, only that the house was one log and two frame rooms with a large chestnut tree in the front yard. There was also quite a large barn where my brother Columbus (Tum) persuaded me to let him pull a large seed-wart from the back of my right hand and as the blood started to run so did I, screaming to my mother. He was frightened also but the seed wart never returned, as he had promised.
Mother had a goose which made her nest in a large hollow stump in the barn-lot and proceeded to set on her own eggs. The news was rumored among the older children that there would be goslings hatch from those eggs in the stump. As I had not known about the nest being there before, I proceeds to slip out there to investigate, and crawled into the entrance hole. The goose said “sksssk”, and landed onto me. I could not get back easily with the opposition at hand, and there was a very loud noise, so Father said. Someone was pulling me backwards by my feet. I had no intentions of ever going near that stump again, or even around the geese that were loose in the yard.
Some things one never forgets—we small children had two small chairs, and I was sitting in one little chair by the hearth when Father was putting wood on the fire. One big log from the back kept rolling off the andirons, so he took the heavy shovel and shoved under the log and pried up on it. When the log rolled, the shovel slipped and threw a shovel full of hot cinders and fire back on my neck and shoulder, and down my sleeve. My mother tossed my clothes in a hurry to put out the fire. I was burned quite badly so Mother said, and indeed, I thought I was about burned up. But in those days there were no hospitals to run to and people mostly did first-aid work at home. Mother stewed elder bark in lard, which makes a very healing salve to apply to burns. My father applied alcohol to take out the fire he said, but I thought it was burning more. That was terrible pain for awhile, but ‘time heals all things,’ so it did that burn, and the scars healed and grew away also.
I remember also going into the woods with the older ones to dig ginseng roots, which were dried and sold for medicinal purposes; indigo roots or plants, which were used in dyeing yarns for different purposes; also curing tobacco for market. And I remember too, sitting before the fire with the others, picking burrs from the wool and seeds from the cotton, which my mother then carded, spun, and wove into material for clothes and blankets, etc.
Mother had quite a number of yards of material when her loom was sold along with many other things about the house, preparatory for coming west. My father had heard of advantages of the newly settled western country, so with a family of seven children, he journeyed west where he thought golden opportunities awaited the farmer. Mother was not anxious to go and leave the old home she had known since her childhood, but a mule-team and heavy wagon was loaded with things for traveling. One of those mules proved to be the ‘kickin’est’ mule I ever saw. Mother said, “Bill, that demon will kill you if you don’t get rid of him.” His name was Demon after that. Demon had such a hatred for Father that Father decided against him and traded him for a horse. We made the remainder of the trip in better spirits.
I don’t remember the towns we went through, but I do know we went through some very beautiful country woodland most of the way. I think Mother said we were about six weeks on the road; no built up roads in those days—just as the farmers had made them by cross-laying the mud holes with brush, poles, etc., or a few shovels of dirt dumped in the chuck holes. Ditches were plowed along for drainage where needed mostly. Father said the farmers worked the road to pay poll-tax. I did not know what poll-tax meant, but supposed it to be something important. I knew we were headed for McPherson Co., Kansas, where my Uncle Jim Tolle lived, he being one of the early successful settlers there.* He was quite well fixed on a quarter-section of land (160 acres), which was all fenced and cross-fenced; a three room house, large barn and other buildings for convenience; also a good orchard.
Uncle Jim had another 80 acres about 2½ miles from his home which he insisted Father settle on and improve for all he could make on the place. Not realizing how big a job, or how long it would take to do this, my Father went to work plowing sod, first to build a house, dug-out in the sand hillside. It was not very deep on the lower side, which was the front, but almost to the roof on the back. It may have been 16×20 feet in size, walls built up all around with sod. It had single sash windows in each side which was north and south. The front was east with a beautiful view of rolling prairie for a long distance it looked to me; about l ½ miles to a settlement east, but closer on the south and over a hill to the west and north was “Salt Creek” where there was timber and plenty of good water. Father made a slide and hauled water in a barrel the first summer.
The sod I mentioned is the first turning of the prairie-land. The turning plow is usually 12 inches wide and set with a cutter the depth one wants—which is about four inches deep and turns a straight even strip of sod (grass and thick mass of roots) cut in lengths about 14 inches. It is easy to handle and lay up for walls with grass side down, the same as cinder blocks only no cement. Early settlers learned this inexpensive way to build most everything needed: houses, stables, coops, pigpens, or anywhere a wall is needed.
Father plowed a few acres for corn and a garden, and that first year raised a very good crop of corn. However sod does not grow as good or as much produce as older cultivated land, but is sure fine for melons, etc.
But ‘snakes’ alive! I know there were more snakes there than any other place I ever lived; sand-hill rattlers, small but active. Mother said us children must keep close in the yard, for the grass seemed to be full of them. Reports said numerous rattlers were killed on this place where we lived the first year. None of us were bitten, but our poor dog was bitten by one. Mother nursed him back to normal, much to our surprise. The old man, Mr. Ryminger that lived south of us, told us that when the surveyors were running the land lines out through there, they wore horse-hide hip length boots and carried a long knife in a sheath to cut off rattlers heads when they hung their fangs into the boot leather. Now this I do not know, but the old fellow was quite a talker. I was more afraid of rattlesnakes than before. This I do know, I saw many of them and some other kinds also. It was Mr. Ryminger who also told us of the hoop-snake which threw its tail over to form a hoop which gave force to strike with a sting in its tail. He told us things about frontier life for the truth.
We were there two summers and it was terribly hot. Not a tree closer than the creek which was about two blocks distance, I think. Mother would take us down to the creek in the heat of the day for cool water and shade. The sand would almost blister our feet, and Father mostly would take us in the wagon and then return to his work.
That winter Tum and Annie went to school until the snow fell; then the wolves started howling and that stopped them. This old neighbor said there were quite a lot of wolves through the unsettled part and along the creek. Real prairie-wolves—not coyotes—and that they had been known to attack a man on a horse. This I do not know. But that old gent could certainly eat cucumbers and melons. He would drive over in a buggy and fill the back part full. The large yellow cucumbers were the best, he said.
One day he rode his horse up to the door ‘almost’ and threw the bridle reins over the big wooden latch on the door. Pretty soon the horse reared back, broke the latch, and snorted. All of us ran out and there was a very large snake in the yard. He says, “It’s a bull snake, does no harm, only eats chickens and eggs,” but to me it looked very dangerous indeed. He killed it, which he said was a shame and he said the horse had smelled the snake. I thought of that many times and wondered how he knew so much.
The second summer my mother taught me to knit on wire needles which she fixed. I had quite a time of it and cried more than once because it did not ‘do right’. Guess I was a ‘spoilt brat’ because I was the only blue-eyed girl in the family, and our grandfather Hamilton was blue-eyed, so the others were jealous and could not boast of the Irish that I could.†
When the fall of the year came, my parents left McPherson Co. and went south into Wilson Co., where Father rented a farm. This farm produced a splendid crop the next year in contrast to the bare living yielded in McPherson Co., in spite of all the efforts Father had put forth.
On the way to Wilson Co., we stopped in a house and a French family named Pettyjohn lived there that had two kids to go with Ann and I. We played at a pond and caught frogs and craw-fish, which they roasted and we ate. Frog-legs and craw-fish tails are good eats. This French family had a turkey hung high on the east end of their house—the kids said, to get tender.
I don’t think there was a school in Wilson Co. close enough for us to walk. It was four miles to Fredonia, Kansas, and I think that was the nearest school. My uncle, Dr. Alexander Hamilton, lived there, and I went into town sometimes and wished that I could live there; but Father was a farmer so did not ever settle down in town.
From about this time on I had quite a lot of experiences, as to things pertaining to farm life, animals, etc. Usually, I was with Father in whatever he did or wherever he went. I learned quite young to help with anything there was to do. If the plowing was difficult, I even rode the horse to guide for him. Even that became tiresome for the tom-boy girl that I was.
I was in my ninth year now and could do things to help, but when the ‘new’ wore off, I was not interested at all. All of us children had to do a certain amount, and according to age or size and ability, we had to do it.
We did not miss recreation, for Father liked fishing and a day on the river as well as we did. The family usually went along and had picnic dinners also.
While here at this place, Father was down on the river for wood and the dog chased something into a hollow log. Father thought now he would catch a rabbit, so he gets a willow and proceeds to twist it out where he could reach it and it just happened to be the hind end of it. So he pulls out a fox to his surprise. But for his quick wit in striking its head against the lo-g, he may have been bitten or scratched badly. That was the first fox I ever saw.
While on this place, Tum brought home a small cat he had found almost starved. It bit me thru the little toe, and I had a terrible toe for some time. The nail came off and Mother did some nursing then. I was laid up for some time. They call it blood poison now. Mother was a good nurse and did not call for a doctor often. There was a creek not far from us, and a head-freshet‡ from the river backed the waters up the creek. Father saw fish flouncing in the creek, and proceeded to take pickets off the yard fence and fixed a trap across the creek to catch them when the water went down. Yes, and he did catch some very fine ones—too large to get through the trap. While at this place Josie and Mattie were married. Carl was born there also. I was about nine years old now.
Uncle Alec (Dr. Hamilton) was very thoughtful of us and he offered Father a farm he owned out south of Fredonia six or eight miles, and to give him all he could produce on it for five years. This was a good farm with most of it in cultivation, plenty of hay land, also barns, sheds, corrals, and everything handy. It was also close to the creek with plenty of good swimming holes for us kids. Uncle had an addition built onto the house which made five rooms. With all the good times, I thought we were well-to-do. He furnished farm implements to make it easy and gave us different things or bought some stock for us. We already had a good team of mares and soon we had pigs, calves, colts, chickens, and ducks; a good crop of corn, wheat, oats, and cane for syrup; also lots of garden stuff, both green and dry. Tum had a patch of popcorn which turned out well. All shared alike on these corn-popping evenings.
Here we all helped alike except Laura. She was housekeeper for the first summer there. Mother was down nearly all summer with typhoid and pneumonia and we came very near to losing her. With Carl to feed with a bottle and all of us to prepare meals for, Laura had all she could do. Father was hindered from his work, and had to hire help part time. I learned to milk and, believe me, there was plenty I could do by this time. Being in about my tenth year plenty was expected of me, I thought. But worst of all I did was to try to keep Carl quiet while the older ones did the heavier duties.
In countries where it rains, there is lots of hoeing to do in the fields to keep down the grass, and of course a short-handle hoe was fixed for me. Father bragged me up, but I know that I didn’t do my work as well as Ann did. She was almost four years my senior. Tum did beg off and Father said, “We do just as well without him and maybe he will get rabbits for supper.” He most always came in with more than one rabbit, which we sure enjoyed. These prairie ‘cotton-tails’ were sure fine meat.
Two winters we were here and we went to school some each winter. It was terribly cold and windy in Kansas and we would just nearly freeze either walking or riding two miles to school, but sometimes Father took us on the horses and came for us later. That winter it snowed so much, and the wind drifted the snow in places as high as the hedge fences which were not trimmed. Always the wind in winter made it very cold indeed. Father came in several times with frosted finger tips and ears. John, in later years came in with icicles on his mustache, no ‘foolin’! Kansas must have been the coldest place I ever lived. But there are other places in the north country maybe colder, where people do live.
While on this place I guess I tried many pranks. One Easter, Ann and I decided Tum was hiding eggs and we watched him closely but did not catch him at it; so the day before Easter we got busy and started hunting for eggs. The stables and sheds were all covered with cane-mashings, so the investigation started on top of these; and we were successful in finding a very large pile of eggs hidden under the straw. I took my apron full of eggs in to Mother, and Tum was there. Gee, but I always got ‘in dutch’ with him! So Mother told him he could have plenty to take to the Easter party on the river, and so settled the fuss.
Also, everybody went into town one afternoon and only Ann and I were at home. So we decided to try smoking and Ann said it would be OK if we smoked leaves. So Father’s pipe was filled with dry leaves and Ann said for me to smoke first and then she would smoke; so I got in the big rocking chair and started puffing away at the pipe. But she did not get her turn, for I was so sick she thought I was going to die. And did she fly around with cold wet cloths! When Laura returned, Ann was busy still trying to save me. I will admit, that was the sickest I ever was that I remember. I never tried smoking again!
But plenty of things I did try, like thinking I’d fool the cat by working my arm through under a bunch of straw and my finger out on the opposite side. Puss grabbed with both claw and teeth, so again I ran to Mother for treatment. Laura laughed and Ann said I was the biggest ‘boob’ she had ever seen. Ann was the more quiet type while I was the opposite, just into all kinds of mischief. And too, one Sunday afternoon Ann and I went to visit a girl friend, Mary Bell White. We played just lots of games. So finally we were playing hide-and-seek, one small boy with us, Tad White. I sneaked upstairs to hide, and slid under a bed, but almost broke my head to get out; there was a man’s leg, with the foot and all so natural under that bed, it looked just like a real leg to me. I had no intention of ever going under anybody’s bed again. They had a grown son, who wore a false leg, but I did not know it then, and if I had known, I did not wish to meet ‘it’ at that time. I told Mother, and she explained. But I was still frightened of that upstairs anyway.
Father became so disgusted with the cold wind—it was hot wind in the summer. His eyes got so bad he said he did not think he could stay there and keep his sight. There were some people camped near us that were going to Missouri and they told him it was a fine country, so he decided to go and help them drive their cattle, look over the country—and of course, it being a timbered country, it looked inviting to him.
Mother begged him to stay the five years on Uncle Alec’s place, but his mind was made up, and so Mother gave him a horse to ride and he went with those people to Missouri, McDonald Co. Mother could not very well hold the farm and we gave it up. She had to sell some of the stock and get a house (this was the Kebert house) for the summer, or a time anyway, until Father returned—which he did in a few weeks. He was very anxious for us to go east to a milder climate. Of course it required some time to prepare for a long trip. We had a garden and all sorts of young things. We had to have time. I know we gathered rhubarb by the tubs-full to take to market—also chickens and eggs.
We were still close to the same river (Fall River or Neosho River, I am not sure) and closer to Neodesha, Kansas. We had three colts born that summer, and some loose mules killed one of them. People there had their farmlands fenced and turned their stock outside to feed, as there was plenty of grass for them on hillsides and ravines. Each person knew the sound of their own (livestock’s) bell. We had one bell for one horse and one bell for the leader of the cows. Cows learn to follow the bell cow. We only had one pig, and it was some pig too. It was fattened for the market and the scales said 300 lb. live weight. Father got $21.00 for it.
Late in the fall we were on the road to Missouri, driving 14 cows, 2 small colts whose mothers made up the team, and 1 one-year-old colt and a saddle horse which Tum rode most of the time driving the herd. Traveling was slow, but the weather was good and we usually camped where a corral could be obtained for the cows. Only one time I remember Tum had to ride back a few miles to find the cows, beating the backtrack for home. Anyway, it was late fall when we arrived at our destination (McDonald Co. in Missouri—Erie was the P.O.), and not much to go on through the winter. It just happened to be an extra bad winter and so much snow that the stock could not get much feed in the woods, as people said they usually did. Feed was scarce and high priced. Mother had to sell half of our herd to buy feed for the others to get through the winter. Father had bought this farm, which was mostly woodland, just hills and hollows with very little space for cultivating; although we had a corn patch and a garden next spring. Father rented land for a crop—corn and other things. That winter for a few months we had to carry water about a quarter mile from a neighbor’s well. I carried a one-gallon pail, and I thought my arms would break. That was the heaviest water I ever carried.
Someone told Father about a water-witch that was supposed to find water under the ground, and he brought the fellow to try and find us a well. I followed the man all around while he marked several places, but one, he said, was the strongest. So Father and Tum dug there about ten feet deep and came to solid rock. A neighbor said he knew how to use dynamite, so he did put dynamite in the rock, which blew a loud blast, and there was the water just underneath—looked like a running stream between two solid rocks, and Father, who cleaned it out said it was. Happy day for me! This well must have been our greatest blessing. I always believed in water-witching after that, and found later in life that I could do it also, but it doesn’t work for everybody, it has been proven. But one holding hands with me can feel the stick turn and know that I’m not fooling.
While in Missouri, I did the chicken killing when Father and Mother were not at home. So this day we hemmed some fryers in the barn and caught one which was to be for dinner, and I was to chop off its head. One of the others held it by the legs with the head on the chop-block. I closed my eyes and aimed to chop the head off, but missed, and only got its beak up to the eyes. The one holding the legs was sure of my strike and threw down the chicken. It ran like it never ran before and so did we all. We knew that chick must be caught. The family blamed me for closing my eyes and I blamed the other one for turning it loose before seeing what I had done to it. But everything came out alright.
We children went to school part of that winter in a one-room log school house with one teacher, until the big snow came. One morning Father looked out and called, “By Jiminy Mary, the snow is just to the porch level and the fence top.” Everyone bounded out, and for sure it was so. The shovel was at the barn and it looked like Father never would get through to it, but through he had to get, and shovel his way back. It was about three feet deep, no foolin’. But we went to school as much as we could. The next summer one of our team died and Mother traded the three colts for a horse to work with the one we had left.
An elderly man by the name of Riley taught school that winter. His little boy came to school one Friday on a horse to get Mr. Riley. The boy was bare legged up to his thighs as his short pants had slipped up while riding. It was terribly cold so he warmed by the stove till his daddy sent him off to where he boarded, to get something. When he returned he had on long wool stockings. Of course I told about it as soon as I got home.
An old couple lived just up and across the road from the schoolhouse. One noon hour some of the boys went up there for water. When they came back they told about two large chicken snakes the man had killed at his chicken-coop the night before. A crowd of us, even Mr. Riley, went up to see them. Mr. Riley asked if he had measured them and he said “no, I guess one is about six foot and the other about seven foot. I figure they are a pair, is why they came together.” They were spotted and looked exactly alike. I had never seen such large ones in the woods, but lots of small garter snakes are all among the blackberry briars. Mother walked out through the briars on a fallen tree and thought a briar had struck her leg. On examining it more closely when she got home, she saw it was a snake bite, just a little swollen and stinging. So she pulled down her stocking and put on something to stop the stinging, so it was alright.
Father was always working, but had no education from books. He was a splendid hand at most all kinds of physical labor. A good all around fellow and neighbor and a good shoemaker also.
That summer we had a great time in the woods—wild berries, grapes and plums and different kinds of nuts, including filberts (then called hazelnuts), acorns by the score. Hogs ran wild in the woods and fattened on those nuts. Ann and I have been in contact with some of those wild hogs when gathering fruits or nuts and we would ‘take up’ a tree and be as still as we could until the hogs would feed away out of sight in the brush so we could come down. Usually we ran for a field fence the nearest way. They were just common pigs but raised like that were not tame. That’s why Ann and I were in the plum tree. I have sat up in the plum tree and watched the hogs straddle the bushes and walk them down till they could eat the nuts from the top of the bush, which is something like willow bushes. Some smart hogs, huh? True, just the same. Self preservation always comes first.
This summer Father took us several miles to a Fourth of July celebration. Beautiful place for a picnic. It was by a small creek and a settlement. At noon time we went to our wagon and had lunch as did some others. Others fixed a long table down on the grounds by the creek. When lunch was about over, a lady tells Mother that there was a woman on the grounds who she should see—said she had a snake in her stomach. Father said he didn’t believe any such thing. “Impossible!” he says, “She may be going to have a child.” So he hurried away. When Mother went I was by her side, and we saw her as did many others, my Father included. Actually it was terrible to think of.
This woman and her husband were very disturbed in their minds—really almost crazy. The people said she could not lie down to sleep, for choking, and often walked around in the night. She had been like this for two years and her husband would not agree for doctors to operate, afraid she would die. He said that if and when she did die he must see what it was that was inside her. It was very much alive and continually moving from one side to the other. Mother and other women felt the movements with their hands and it was very plain to be seen also. She ate very hearty, in fact, her friends said, greedy, enough for two persons. This woman said she wanted to warn everybody not to drink from a ‘branch’ (brook) or stream as she had done when working in the field. The doctor had said there was no doubt as to how she got it or as to what it was and it had been getting larger for two years. I was eleven years old at this time and actually saw this and heard what was said by people that lived by her and knew her well. Believe it! Well, if someone I did not know was to tell this story I might doubt it too. Yet, we are told that nothing is impossible.
Right at this time, I don’t think of anything important. Only, as the weeks passed and the crops not so good, Father became more disgusted with the country and decided that a renter could not make enough to justify staying in such a rough country. He did not want to stay. He told Mother we would go back to Kentucky if she wanted to, but Mother said no. Her mother had passed away§ and she would rather live in Kansas where the girls (her daughters) were. So later in the fall we prepared to make the trip back to McPherson Co., Kansas. We drove seven head of cows back with us, and were lucky to get a farmhouse to winter in. But, we were short of provisions before the journey was ended. One evening Father drove until after dark to reach a place with corrals for the cows and a two room house to camp in. On looking about supper we found we were short of flour, so Laura parched corn in the baking skillet and ground it in the coffee mill for supper. Eaten with milk, it was a good cereal.
In due time we landed at John Aten’s place (my sister and brother-in-law). We were soon located for the winter with a good corn field, pastures for the stock, and Ann and myself both back in school, both helping in a home to pay our board and room. Laura did housework and made her own way quite well. She also helped us some. Two dollars a week was the wage so we fared fine for the winter. School did not have long terms like we have these days, and we did not go all the time either. I don’t remember why or just how long we did go.
Father rented a farm for the next season and we went on that farm early in the spring. We had cows, pigs, and chickens, so we had plenty of butter and eggs. This farm was on the meridian line between McPherson and Marion Counties. On the Marion Co. side there was no settlement—it was just raw prairie as far as I could see. There were prairie fires to fight sometimes—at night usually.
There was only a road and the fire would jump across if not watched and ‘back fired.’ I was always on hand to help in some way, if only to go for another pail of water. There were also wolves over in that prairie country, and they were out along the road often, to be seen and to follow along for a ways sometimes; but at a distance in the daytime. At night they ventured closer, especially if it was someone walking. That would not be me! I was very much afraid, even in the daytime. We were here on this place a year or two, and it was here that our baby sister, Nolie (Nola) was born on 14 July 1887.
Uncle Jim Tolle built a new home and moved into Gypsum City, so turned his farm over to Father. We were then right at the Greenwood School and four miles from Roxbury again. We lived on this farm two years and had good crops of corn, grain, and other stuff—also plenty of fruit. And pigs, turkeys, chickens, ducks, and all sorts of things to do to keep us busy. I was a big girl by this time, and was depended on very much to help with the work on the farm and chores of every kind.
It was here that Tum came home with a high fever one night, which gave a scare to the folks, for smallpox was raging in the community around Roxbury. So a doctor was called and the whole bunch of us were vaccinated. I was very ill with my arm and really laid up for days, but Tum only had malaria fever and was out again soon.
My sister Ann was married the first year we were here,¶ so Laura stayed home# the second summer to help out with the housework, Mother not being well. This second summer Father decided to visit Mattie in Pleasanton, Kansas and sold the wheat crop to go on. Laura and I had the crop to finish, as Tum was on his own. He had worked and bought himself a saddle pony, good clothes, and was quite the young gentleman. In fact, he was about grown and a good hand on the farm, but not at home. We had much rather work without him. He liked racing the horses and teasing us girls.
We had grown all sorts of vegetables; some of the finest pumpkins and squash besides the more edible vegetables. I don’t know how much oats was thrashed out but this was done at about the same time the wheat was done—before Father left for Pleasanton. Later, we had the corn crop to gather in, just Laura and I. I remember, we would just drive the wagon out to the field and drive straight down through the corn, husking it and leaving the shucks (husks) on the stalks. Just two rows on each side of the wagon, and the down row made five rows through and the same back to the beginning. It was quite a large field and slow work, for our hands were not so tough. Laura had the husking gloves and I only had bare hands with a husking peg.
I would like to explain how a husking peg is made; just a hard wooden peg long enough to reach through the right hand and sharpened to a point to meet the ball of the thumb, with leather loop for the second finger. With fingers clasping the stick, just rip the shuck right down with the point against the thumb. It’s easy when one learns how.
This one day, noon hour caught Laura and I in the middle of the field. So we loosed the team and rode them into the barn, only I missed it just a little. We were trotting fast and riding sideways and had nothing much to hold on to. Her horse made the turn through the gate and to the watering trough. When my horse made the turn through the gate, in order to miss the other horse, it turned quickly around the corner of the pig-pen and I went over backwards and landed in the pen. When I raised up, three big fat pigs had rushed up to me and were staring in amazement at what they saw dumped into the pen. When Laura told Mother, she laughed and said she guessed the pigs were disappointed, naturally expecting a big pumpkin or squash. But I did not feel so well, as I had cut my chin when I came in contact with the pig trough. That was an embarrassing moment for me. I avoided seeing friends as much as possible for a few days. We did go horseback riding and to celebrations, dances, and picnics often.
So if we did work hard we had some very nice times also. That second summer there we went into Gypsum City, and from there a friend took Laura, myself, and our cousin Delia Tolle to Assyria, Kansas, to the Fourth of July celebration and we stayed for the dance that night. Lights were coal oil lanterns and such, no electric lights or radios in those days, no telephones, no automobiles, and everything was done the hard way. We had oil lamps with reflectors around the dance floor. I will tell you I had a very pretty dress for this occasion. It was a bright pink with a cream color oriental lace over-dress. A very nice guy was there who was a splendid dancer, so I had a very enjoyable evening.
We girls visited with Delia Tolle in Gypsum City quite often, and once I was there overnight. When Delia and I went upstairs to our bedroom, hearing someone start up the steps, she picked up the lamp and we rushed to the head of the stairs, only to see a man coming up. One door opened from the outside into the hall, and instead of going into the living room he was taking the stairs. Delia was screaming and about to throw the lamp at him when Uncle Jim came and seized onto him. The man (Mike) lived out near us and Uncle knew him well so he took him to where his brother lived. Mike said he thought he was in the right house.
Father did not return that summer, but instead he went to Louisiana after hearing from his brother Henry that their mother was still living, and quite feeble. Father had not seen his mother since he was 19 years of age.** He had left home at that time to work, and the close of the Civil War found him in Kentucky. At last he had landed somehow at Grandmother Hamilton’s†† place and obtained work there with the Hamilton brothers, who operated a still, which was lawful at that time. And having all the products necessary for making liquor on their own farm, they proceeded to make a paying business out of it; also made apple cider for the market.
I was then fourteen years of age and taller than Laura and could handle a team, so Laura goes out to work for herself again. Mother sold off almost everything, as we could not run this farm without Father’s help. Mother rented a house down south of there several miles nearer to Canton, Kansas. Tum was home that summer. My friend, Artie Oaks and his sister, and Tum and I had a very nice time. Artie had his father’s team and rig at his will, and we went everywhere, even to the hills of which there were only two in the country, which stood out in the vast prairie as if fallen there.
In the fall my brother-in-law, John Aten, invited us to take a trip with them down into the Cherokee Nation and maybe himself and Mother could locate a place for a home when that Cherokee strip was opened for homesteads, which was to be soon. I was Mother’s ‘seamstress’ and she trusted and depended on me. I never let her down. Tum was in Washington State on the Columbia River either logging or salmon fishing; he did both. And Fred was too young and light-weight to handle a frisky team, which on cool mornings raised me off the seat with the lines wrapped around my hands to hold them down.
I just loved animals and did not see any danger as Mother did, but she was very nervous at times—and I would be now, with small children to look out for. I also rode these horses at times, and never happened to get thrown off if I had a saddle, which we had; one lady’s side-saddle and one man’s saddle. Girls did not ride astride in those days. That would have been terrible for a girl then. A sure enough disgrace if one had been seen riding astride.
Anyway, we went on this trip down through the Cherokee Indian country, and also into the Osage Nation. The country we went through was very beautiful—mostly prairie with some scrubby timbered hills called ‘Blackjack’ We camped and traveled around for about three weeks, I think, and returned to the state for the winter. We were near Arkansas City, Kansas which is only four miles from the line of Indian territory (now Oklahoma). I went horseback riding a few times with a girl friend, but not much, because I soon mistrusted her so. My only ‘would be’ boy friend was a grown up man and I was afraid of him, not that he wasn’t very nice but I was only fourteen and preferred someone nearer my own age.
I went back to school for a short while that winter [in Kansas] but did not have Laura to run around with. While at this school I experienced some things not so pleasant—guess I was always a little hasty in my own defense, but always managed to get by with it. I was about fourteen years of age at the time and a guy about sixteen years of age sat right behind me and I never could see the use of him anyway. He seemed to pay very little attention to lessons. One day when I was deeply engaged with my exams, he pulled my hair. Before I thought of disturbing the whole school, I jumped up and lit onto him with a book. Looking up I saw the teacher coming down the aisle and I sat down to my work quickly. He, the boy was scooted down as far as he could get under the desk by this time, so teacher saw what I was doing and did not say a word to me, but to Bud he says, “Bring your books and sit in the seat by the wall”—which had no desk. He stayed there the remainder of the term, so I had no more trouble with boys in that school. The teacher always treated me fine but asked no questions about the fight. I learned right then that all a girl had to do was to let her troubles be known, and she would get protection.
That winter fuel was scarce with us. Fred and I gathered corn cobs from pens where fattening hogs were kept—not dirty cobs but very fresh clean ones—which we could get for hauling them away. They make a quick hot fire, so we must have some coal to go with them for heat. We still heard from Father often, but just picking cotton in Louisiana did not bring in money very fast, and it took time for him to save enough to return home on. Picking cotton was very different from harvesting a wheat crop and getting the money all down in a lump with very little effort. But in the spring Father came home and wanted to return to the South and be with his mother while she lived.
Mother bought another wagon and team to make the trip with. Father drove the lead wagon, which was loaded with the heavy stuff, and I brought up the rear with the light wagon-load—camping outfit and Mother and the children. We traveled east to south, passing through the Oklahoma country, and saw some very pretty girls who were Cherokee blood but white and educated. They had extremely nice homes with all improvements up to date, large fields of grain, stock and herds of different kinds, even to windmills for pumping water and power. One of these girl’s was named Rachel Silverheel, her mother a daughter or grand-daughter of a Cherokee Indian chief—or something—and her father a white man. She told Mother all about it, but yet I can’t remember why she had retained the Indian name. Must have been a rule among them.
Anyway, we crossed the Arkansas River at Fort Smith, Arkansas on the ferry boat. It was raining down so hard I was quite wet sitting in the front of the wagon to drive. So Father drove to a camp yard where we could have a camp-house with fireplace and could stay as long as we wished. On seeing us women folks alight from the wagon, a man came out and helped with my team and sent us into their cabin where there was already a good fire to dry my clothes, which was very nice indeed. The man soon came in and passed around a bottle of liquor (whiskey), which I refused, to keep us from catching cold. That was also kind of him.
But I discovered someone on a high bunk in the back of the cabin who, on hearing our voices, began to groan and revive. While Father was warming up a cabin for us, this person rolled off the bunk and went to the door to heave. He had slept it off and now was feeling fine. He said he had been caught in the rain also! He was a very nice appearing young fellow and almost handsome, but…. Well, we stayed over the next day for roads to drain off and freshets to go down in streams we would have to ford. At that time there were few bridges, and no bridges on streams that were not considered dangerous. Well, as you may have guessed, I had the chance of seeing Fort Smith, Arkansas, when the rain had ceased. It was a beautiful day, but I did not care to go around the city, even though the man’s sister and her husband would like to accompany us to places of interest—his goose was cooked. But Father did agree to write him when we were settled. I think that was the end of it.
This trip was quite lengthy in time, for we had muddy roads and swollen streams all along. One place we were laid off the road for more than a week, and Fred almost had pneumonia. That was his weakness every time he caught cold. Here again, I pulled out the side saddle and a girl close by showed me around the country for miles, to my regret, for on my return late in the afternoon I saw a strange saddle horse hitched to our hitching post. A young man was there, waiting to escort me to Amity, to church. He was the brother of a very special girl friend I had met, and he was home for the weekend, being a medical student—Dr. Joseph Leigh—of Little Rock, Arkansas. My horse was tired and so was I tired of the saddle. We only had one real good saddle horse, a pacer. So, well, luck was against me—or was it for me this time—and as I could give him no address, I did not see him again. I should or could have written him as he insisted, but my family objected.
We proceeded on the journey as usual, and I enjoyed it very much. We were now in heavy timber country. Beautiful, large pine trees and such beautiful places to camp. Sweet gum trees also, and we could pick the gum, which is a delicious flavor which can be found in no other gum.
I remember another time we had to camp over a few days in a vacant house on account of a flood down Little Missouri River. A married girl and her kid sister wanted me to teach them to crochet. Well, I did my best to teach them every afternoon, but these girls did not even learn to do the stitch when away from me. I never before had seen anyone that could not learn. They said they could not sew, but they knew how to use the weeding hoe in the cotton or corn field, and I began to wonder. Although I could do all sorts of farm work, I had been taught to sew, knit, crochet, and also the system of drafting and cutting patterns by measurement, and had not quite reached my 15th birthday. But there was one thing I had not learned to do—cooking! I decided later that cooking was something a girl should learn at least before one married. I know too, that all girls don’t have the same chance to learn that I had. For instance a wonderful mother who was blessed with the knowledge of the many things that one could teach to their own daughters. She was brilliant. After seeing Mother card, spin, dye, and weave yarn, I was desirous of learning these things also, but not until later in life did I succeed.
As to the trip, I sure thought we had a more pleasant journey through the last part. We arrived at Uncle Henry Gates’s home in the early spring and I met my dear Grandmother Gates for the first time.‡‡ She was quite aged—close to 90—but I don’t remember exact dates. She could not see so well but walked the country roads and visited wherever she wished. I met her once going home from a visit to Shady Wall’s.§§ She did not recognize me until I spoke. I told her I was afraid for her to be out alone. She said, “Huh! If I see anything in the road, I poke it with my cane and if it moves I get out of its way.” I wondered then if I would ever be aged and tottery as she was. One never knows.
Dr. Henry Gates had a family of five children, all younger than myself. But there were numerous relations, and I soon was no stranger among them. Father rented a farm close in that settlement, and I very soon had the saddle on my favorite “Pacer,” and was around to most everything going on, which was plenty. For no sooner had the news spread of our arrival in the community, than did I begin to meet young folks from all directions—I believe. Shady Wall had three girls and a son all close around my age and older, but full of life, and all out for a good time. We went west about three miles to a church called Shady Grove and east to one called Rocky Branch.
My brother Fred was all for horseback riding also, and usually went with me if the family didn’t go, which they often didn’t. We also went to dances, but I did not accept the company of any of the fellows I had met so far. Not because they were undesirable conversationalists, but because they appeared over anxious to stay close around.
I met the teacher of Rocky Branch School, and his attentions were very annoying. He spread it on too thick, I mean his education. He may have thought I was educated, since I was from Kansas and William Gates’s daughter as well. I think there was much expected of me just for need of understanding about people raised in the West.
I was offered a school close to home, and I refused to take it just because of this ‘wise guy,’ when I knew very well he would be ‘butting in.’ Children in our immediate community knew such a little of books, I could probably have given them a start, only for lack of courage.
A family that lived about two blocks distance had two daughters that I played around with often. There was an orphan girl at Uncle Henry’s that first summer, who went with me along the River D’Arbonne and showed me how to find turtle eggs. Just take a stick and poke in the sand. If there was a loose place in the sand, we would dig out the eggs, often a dozen or more. The turtle digs a hole in the sand and after depositing her eggs, covers them up, hence the loose sand. They told me that when the sun and moisture had hatched the eggs, the little turtles dug themselves out and ‘beat it’ for the water. This was known to be true by people who had seen them on the march. If disturbed, they will draw in head feet and tail, and close their shell tightly, and lay as if dead. We are told that self preservation is the first law of nature, and so it is in animal life. If, for instance, a cow has hidden her calf out, one can’t make it stand on it’s feet without getting the mother to it. The same is true with a fawn that is hidden and the mother away. There are strange things about nature. I have been close to a quail’s nest by accident, and the mother bird will ‘play cripple’ to entice one to chase her so she can lead them away from her nest. Some other birds will do the same. Turtle eggs are good to eat if scrambled thoroughly, and Aunt Joe Gates¶¶ said she had used them in cake. They are round, the size of an apricot and have semi-soft shells.
What I admired most of all in the Southern States was the timber. It is beautiful scenery with some very odd things such as the cypress knees. The roots ‘hump’ up all around in knee-shape all over the ground where the cypress trees grow. They only grow around swamp-land where there is plenty of water or moisture. Many kinds of nuts and fruits grow wild; different kinds of fish, which are the choicest meat, infest the streams; and many of the wild animals are also good meat, such as deer, squirrels, raccoon, opossum, beaver, etc.; fowl such as turkey, goose, duck, and numerous small birds are also good meat. Many herbs and bark from trees are good and are often used for medicine, both internal and external. There are also numerous reptiles in the Southern states; some which are very poisonous and many that are supposed to be harmless as to their bite, but they do rob nests of their eggs and young and raid chicken coops for young chicks as well as eggs. Wild mink are quite plentiful, and they also raid chicken coops for both young and old chicks. But I insist that the many pests to be dreaded are ticks, redbugs (or chiggers), fleas, seedticks, mosquitos, gnats, horseflies, etc.
As my mother’s helper, I had quite a lot of sewing to do. I did most of our family sewing, but Mother did the cutting out of Father’s and the boys’ clothes. I also did sewing (mostly dresses) for friends and neighbors. There were two very nice colored boys working for our close neighbor, and one of them sneaked over to Uncle Shady’s place and stole Eliza away from her Negro mammy, brought her home and had a hurried marriage, which I attended with my parents. Eliza had only the clothes she wore, and so beginning the next day, I had a job out-fitting her for every thing she needed. If for only a short time, he (Abe) sure dressed her up. That was quite a change to anything I had done before. I liked Eliza quite well, even though she was as black as they get. She was particular and nice.
My birthday being the 27th of June, I was not quite fifteen years of age yet, but still continued to go to dances and attend church most every Sunday and go fishing. I did enjoy fishing, for we always caught fish. But the river was too deep to ford at that time; we could not cross over yet. There were boats, but it was swamp overflowed for miles on the other side. Our side was called ‘Turkey Bluff.’ That was the boat landing, but we were back ‘aways’ from the river, which was mostly cotton fields. All farmers had corn, cane, potatoes, and garden also. Uncle Henry Gates lived on Turkey Bluff in sight of the river and boats.
I was there quite often, but the girl that was there at that time did not ride horseback, so she and I did not go out together much; only to play around the river, or some lovely place in the woods, which I enjoyed very much. We even made leaf aprons and hats by pinning them together with straw. Usually my cousin Ada Gates, who was quite a bit younger, liked to dress up this way, and why not us also.
It was on July 3rd that Mother and the little children were sitting in the back yard in the tree shade. I was ironing at a small table, barefooted, not expecting anyone, when Willie Wall came around the house from the front. Mother spoke to him and he introduced himself. I also spoke to him but Mother carried on the conversation, and I took my ironing into the kitchen. Mother told him we were preparing for the barbecue at a certain grove the next day which was July 4th. He had come down and across the river to Turkey Bluff for some purpose and dropped in to see just what we looked like. Anyway, before we could get away from home the next morning, he was there to go in the wagon with us, having come down the river in a dugout. It would have been closer for him to have walked out to the picnic grounds than to come to our place, but then, life is like that.
After that Fourth of July I went on the water quite often in a dugout, which is a small narrow boat hewed out of a cypress log. When made by one who knows how to finish it up smooth and straight, it runs very nicely, but rocky. However, I continued having just about the same good time on my side of the river, and rode out to the P.O. often. This P.O. was kept by my great uncle and wife, Littleton Caver and Mary.
Uncle Henry Gates had quite a large cotton crop, so I tried picking cotton the very first opening. The opening occurs often through the season, which extends into winter sometimes. Cotton continues to grow and bloom until frost, so it just keeps maturing and opening its boles for continued picking over and over again, all from the same stalks.
Father also had a cotton field, and I didn’t make any headway picking cotton—too slow I think—but I did hoe the garden and keep it clean. We also raised a lot of chickens, and I took care of the setting hens and ‘taking off’ the young chicks. I had this to do back in Kansas, and Mother said I was a very good hand at it, so she didn’t bother about it.
I will always remember the first turnip greens I ever washed, and I suppose all who tried to eat them will remember them also. I still can’t see why I was not given instructions as to how and why it took special care to wash turnip greens right. Well, if they did eat them they sure had plenty of sand in their gizzards.
This same summer I did my first quilting, and I caught on to quilting quickly. The neighbor said she would like to have me to help her with all her work and I think she meant it, but I only helped her about sewing. I was not too anxious about work, for I had not entirely got over my childish tricks. After all, fifteen years is still young, even tho one has one’s growth to a great extent.
I continued the boat rides too. Willie would beg Mother to let me go over the river and stay a few days with his mother, who was not very strong and did not get out often. I did go over there a number of times and from there to church and parties. I think I enjoyed myself very much, and of course met more young folk.
Mr. Mosely owned and operated a general store and P.O. at his place about one mile from the boat landing on the river at Mosely’s Bluff, which was about four miles up the river from Rugg’s Bluff where the Walls lived. He had a grown son who, when he returned from school for summer vacation, came down to Henry Wall’s## place one Sunday when I was there—accidently on purpose, of course. He was a very homely young man, but from a very nice family. Mr. Mosely used to say, “A dollar looked as big as a wagon wheel to him.” He was kind of odd—some kind of ‘furrener,’ but a good business man. I guess I dodge around my story quite a bit, but I did get around some in those days.
Once Willie and I went to church in the wagon with Uncle Bill Carter’s*** family, and all but me were out of the wagon quickly. With so many skirts as a girl used to wear, I was slow climbing over the side of the wagon. My foot slipped and I tumbled down on the ground. To my embarrassment, Willie steps up and says, “Are you hurt?” So of course I answered “no” quite short. So after church he walked off with another girl and did not return until later. After we were home I asked him if Miss Anna got home OK—he said he guessed so. Of course he had brought me over there to his home in the dugout, so had to take me back home, and I thought maybe he would not come again to our place. But he was there soon again as usual.
In all my coming and going with Willie through the rough woods, trails, or roads—sometimes at night—he never even offered his arm, so I just stumbled along one side of the road and him the other. Ann had called me a ‘big gump’ many times, and I guess she was right. The customs were so different then to what they are now, at least in the South. Not so in Kansas where I had lived. My friend had always kissed my hand goodnight.
Once Willie went away down in Red River parish hunting and trapping. This was in December 1890. He left his accordion and a small silver case watch with me. He only played a little by ear. I was supposed to learn to play the accordion but did not do much with it. But this trip was made really to visit his old girl, Sally Clark, whom his father thought he, Willie, intended to marry. I thought so too at that time. On his return however, he said ‘nix’ to her. She had asked him to set a trap by the kitchen range to catch her, which he thought really meant a proposal. Well, it does look like I am telling a different story, but it all concerned me. He said he told Sally he would write to her and tell her what he thought of her in answer to her question—point blank. So just a little later, he told his father he intended to be married soon, and asked if he could bring her home. His father said, “Who, Sally?” Willie said, “No, Lillie.” His poor father was disappointed and remarked, “I think you are making a poor selection, but bring her home.”
My mother bought material and I made my own wedding outfit. The dress was silk poplin, blue and gold changeable color and very pretty. The marriage ceremony was performed at our home by a Baptist minister with only my family, my Grandmother Gates, and a few close friends present. I had talked to my grandma about getting married and she said she had thought of that, and that she could not think of anyone good enough for me. When I asked my father about it, he says, “Lillie, doggone-it-all, I can’t see why you want a crippled man. He can’t do much work with only one good arm.” I said, “Father, I have two good arms and they are not afraid of work, so I can help do anything he cannot do alone.” I tried hard to keep that promise and the result is I have done lots of hard work—really too much work for any woman to do; farm work or anything that needed doing.
William H. Wall and I were married January 15, 1891.††† Soon after, Grandmother Gates went to live with her two daughters in eastern Texas so they could care for her.‡‡‡ Father and Mother with the three small children [Fred, Carl, and Nolie] returned to Kansas again.
My father-in-law always seemed to think well of me and treated me fine. Once he said to his wife in my hearing, “Willie has a better wife than he deserves.” Of course I supposed he was angry with his son right then. I was very happy and had a very full life with a great deal of responsibility. Willie’s mother§§§ was quite feeble so I had all the housework and her to take care of. Besides, I helped with the garden, milked the cows, and followed Willie all over the woods or wherever he went—hunting, fishing, cutting timber, or ‘what-not.’ When the overflow came out over the swamp and water was deep enough for him to put out set hooks for fish, I went with him in the dugout to get the fish. He tied fish hooks to short lines and tied the other end of the line to a limb which would let the baited hook hang about 2 feet under the water (water being up among the tree tops). When a fish was ‘hung’ he would pull and dip the limb up and down. Then we just slip up close, pick up the line, and with Mr. Fish in the boat, re-bait the hook for another and start all over. Also, when the water was low, we would take poles and line to fish with, often put out a net to catch them or go with the seine, and sometimes get quite a few at one haul—the best, sweetest, fish meat I ever ate any place.
Once I ‘hung’ an eel and how it did pull; much harder than a fish. Willie was close by, so he shouted, “Just hold the line straight till I get there. It’s an eel.” He knew how to manage all kinds of them and bring them out safely. This was a large one and looked very ‘snakefied’ to me. Willie skinned it and it was very good meat. Eels have one small fin in back of each jaw and a row of short fins part way down the back. This one must have been two feet long and three inches wide. Sometimes one of us would hook a large catfish, which also pulls ‘like everything.’ He has helped me out with catfish sometimes. With all my being on the water, I never learned to swim or paddle a boat. Willie always used one paddle to operate and also guide the boat.
There were snakes in the water. And although snakes are not supposed to bite underwater, some people say they do, even rattlesnakes. I was afraid to go in.
This life on the water among the beautiful timber with many kinds of birds, some of which were beautiful in their gorgeous, bright colored raiment, was wonderful to me after my experiences on the open prairie with all its hot dry sands and terrific hot winds in summer, and cold and snow in winter. Such is life, as God has placed these things before us to choose for one’s self. I have found in all my travels through the different states, east, west, north or south, there are some disadvantages or things in some way that are displeasing to one. I say my travels—which I have counted—are 18 states (now 19 in 1946), and Yellowstone National Park. Some of those states I only saw a very small part of, and only a few of them to stay any length of time or to learn about climates, customs, etc.
Willie taught me how to handle and shoot a rifle, so as time went on I had need to use a gun sometimes; also the old fashioned colt revolver—I mean a Winchester 38 (Smith & Wesson) rifle or a shotgun.¶¶¶ I never killed anything, but I could shoot and sometimes a hawk which disturbed the chicks would come tumbling down. Or a mink, which usually raided the chicken coop on a rainy night, would get himself killed before he made any kills among the chicks. Mink were wild in the Southern States, raised in hollow logs or stumps or anywhere in the woods, and always did their prowling around for food on rainy nights, often killing a dozen or more small chicks in one night. The hawks were the worst in the daytime. Also skunks and chicken snakes were plentiful.
One Sunday I went into the chicken-house for eggs and looked over into a nest box to find the nest full of black-snake. I ran out and the only weapon I saw was a hoe. So I proceeded to jab him out, which he was very anxious to do, but I chopped more than a foot of his tail end off before he could get outside, and then he outran me and got away into the field. When others saw the ‘tail-piece’ left behind, it was said he would never raid another hen’s nest. There was not one egg left. They swallow the eggs whole and then crush them with the muscle of their stomach. At Mother’s place, her nests were being robbed, so she put a nest-egg gourd in the nest. It was gone next day, so later the thief was lying in the yard unable to get away. Carl went out, dragged it out into the field and cut it in two. It had swallowed the egg gourd, which would not crush—so it killed the snake.
There is also an odd-looking snake in the South called the coachwhip. I only saw one of that kind. I had heard of it and really did not enjoy meeting it. I came through a woods trail to the field fence (where we usually climbed over and cut through the field to the house) and there lay Mr. Coachwhip, his length stretched out on the next-to-top rail of the fence. I took a second look at him to be sure who he was. He started to go one way along the fence and I went the other way around the field and lost no time putting distance between us. They say these coachwhips use their tail to whip their victim, which they hold with their body, squeeze, and whip with their tail. This Mr. Snake was black down to about one fourth of his length, which was about 3 ½ or 4 ft. and the tail, about a third of him, was tan or leather colored and looked creased or plaited like a whip. I told my father-in-law about the queer reptile and he said it was a coachwhip. He had seen them but it had been a long time ago. He supposed they were extinct, as it had the usual looking body of other black snakes, except that plaited looking leather colored tail. One may not have noticed it if it had not moved or if it had been in the brush. I don’t think I would have noticed it if he hadn’t started to go and was in plain sight. Judging from size, which was very large, one would think there would be others. However the family had been over every part of that woods through there, and had cleared off for the fields, made the rails for the fences and raised their families there. The land bordered on the swamp though there were miles and miles of timber country and fallen dead trees. Brush and vines were thick. People paid little attention to snakes. Those non-poisonous snakes feed on eggs, young chicks, birds, mice, frogs, etc. They were plentiful and usually got out of the way. Lizards were numerous also. Yellow jackets, hornets, and bumble bees have their nests all through the woods and if disturbed are ever ready to fight. Honey bees are also found in hollow trees.
Our place was the last farm next to the swamp where the river D’Arbonne over flowed quite deep every year. Water was up among the low tree tops. As the water raised, the hogs and cattle that were loose in the woods would make their way to higher ground and there were seldom ever any drowned. The hogs of all people who lived near the swamp ran loose and fed on the ‘mast’ [the fruit of certain forest trees], raised their young and often fattened up ready to butcher—very seldom did anyone have to feed their pigs to fatten them. The pigs had a mark on the ears to show who they belonged to. The owners visited the ‘bed’ while the tiny pigs were there and marked them. Later, owners make a slide, go into the woods, call the pigs together, shoot down the meat hogs and slide them home.
My goodness! The lard we did render out, and the sausage we ground, stuffed, and dried among bacon, hams, and shoulders, all smoked and put away for future use. Also head-cheese (or souse), which was better than anything one can buy now. I sure would like to have a piece right now. I call that the ‘old days’ and I doubt very much if any of my children or grandchildren will ever experience what I have, and I enjoyed it all very much; except that I did think there was too much expected of the Southern housewife. They worked in the fields the same as the men and then cooked the dinner while he sat down and rested. I had plenty of help but not everyone had the consideration I had then. I did not do field work in the South, for my husband did not farm much. He puttered around at other kinds of work mostly. He did photography work and I also could help some with that; but working on the water was his delight, and I could only go with him and ‘feed’ mosquitoes while he worked, and they were usually thick.
Along about this time [1890-91] women began wearing divided skirts with riding astride saddles instead of the old side saddles. And then later the divided skirts changed to the riding habit which was a neat fitting coat and pants which fit tight to the knees and was loose above the knees. My goodness! How the ministers did rave and pound the pulpits till they were hoarse and red in the face (almost sweat blood I thought), but to no avail. The women did not mind what the preacher said, but continued to wear their breeches (which could be worse, as you see today—1946). The ministers declared that “women must not ape man.”
In the summer after my marriage, my husband began studying photography and thought to continue in that vocation. In the fall of 1892 we went on a trip for the winter, stopping in different settlements where the Negroes were plentiful. That meant work was plentiful for him in his studio, which was quite a large tent with plenty of sky light. It was equipped with dark room and cameras, including close up and view cameras with several different lenses for various distances, etc. I could help some in the work but did not learn to do the exposures. Most of the work was tintype, which I could help with. I did the finishing and after awhile as time went by I also helped with printing and finishing photographs, as one sees now.
I remember being camped on a small river—we had a tent to live in—and in the night Willie had a severe cramping in his stomach. He was suffering very much. I did not have an iron to heat, so had to go to a house about ½ block away to get help—that was the darkest night I ever saw, I thought. The Negro housekeeper happened to be home so I borrowed an iron, and then felt my way back to the tent among the trees. I could not miss the tent because of the lamp, if I did not burst my brains out against a tree or run up with a ‘nigger,’ which were just as thick round about as ‘hops on the vine.’ I was frightened in more ways than one, but succeeded in getting Willie relieved of that terrible distress which he often had, and they were always unexpected and came on suddenly.
We moved farther up the river a few miles when we thought all the ‘niggers’ there were ‘took’ as they said. At this camp, we ordered a live chicken from one of the customers. She sent it down by a boy who held it by the neck and choked it to death just before he reached us. That poor little ‘nigger’ ran back-track so fast. I was sorry for him because I bet he got the beating of his life, which he knew he would. And so we didn’t get any chicken that day.
After about two weeks we moved across the river where there were several families of Blacks. Their homes were up where the high water did not reach, but there was no store close. That was our last camp for that winter. Willie did not want to return home. He enjoyed camp life and so did I, only right now I kept trying to persuade him to take me home. Well, that was one time I believe the Lord answered my prayers. One day I heard a boat land against the bank by our tent. Willie was away and I bounded out to see a cousin-in-law, Mr. Jackson, coming up towards me. This man had been farther up the river trapping and working downstream. He had learned that we were there, and knowing about my condition, he came over. Happy was I, for I knew now I was going home. When Willie came, Mr. Jackson began to explain things to him. Anyway, Willie went immediately out in the country to a sawmill and ordered the lumber to build a flat boat which was large enough to carry everything and Mr. Jackson’s canoe also. It required both men to operate the larger boat. We traveled down stream to the Ouachita (pronounced ‘Wa-she-ta’) River. Traveling was not so easy then, for the men had to pull with oars up stream, and, in spite of what they knew of taking advantage of the currents, the going was slow.
The last night out on this trip home we camped at an empty house by the river. Willie started a fire in the fireplace and that was all the light we had. Mr. Jackson went to the river edge and dipped the pail full of water which he put down by our grub box. I, as usual, was thirsty so just dipped a cup of water and downed a swallow without even looking in it. To my surprise I swallowed a fish! He had dipped into a swarm of minnows which are in droves close to the edge and I guess there were a hundred in that pail of water.
We arrived home about the middle of February. I just had time to get the house cleaned and ready to settle down when my son Freddie was born, on 6 March 1893. From then on for awhile I was a very busy and happy woman.
At home I also came in contact with a large rattlesnake right near our yard. We had a melon patch down by the old orchard which was all grown up with broom-sage grass, not having been cultivated for some years, and just enough ground plowed up to plant melons. I went down and picked two melons and started back up the side of the patch. There was high grass along the side, and with a melon in each arm I could not see so well in front of me. Suddenly a big rattler sang out his warning, “don’t tread on me.” On looking down, behold, he was stretched straight across in front of me, just out of the tall grass, apparently making his way to the tall timber and good hiding. I laid down the melons, went back a few steps to the old rail fence, found a half rail—which was about five feet long and not very solid. When I got back to Mr. Rattler he was just starting on his way, but I batted his head and stopped him. Again and again I beat his head until he was helpless and the rotten piece of rail was broken to pieces. At the same time I called to Caroline, who was sitting on the porch, to bring a hoe! She came with the weapon and finished the job.
I wanted the rattles, which were thirteen in number and a ‘button’ (that is the tip end). Caroline held down his tail with the hoe, I wrapped my apron around my hand and pulled off the rattles, breaking the one next to the tail. So, I only got twelve rattles and the button, which was a very nice string of them after all. They say there is one rattle for every year old including the button. I intended keeping those, but they went missing, as did some other things, when we were away from home and our house was broken into. I had a watch chain I had made of horse hair which I prized very much and it was also gone. I had intended keeping the chain for my grandchildren to see. I don’t suppose I could make one now even if I had the courage to cut the hair from horses’ tails, as I had done then, before I was married, always getting the clearest color and best length.
About the year 1895, I was up on a scaffold holding lumber for Willie to do the gable end of our house. The brace came loose, and I fell through to the ground which proved to be quite serious. I was in bed for 12 months and the doctors could not find just what the trouble was, so my husband took me to Natchez, Mississippi to a hospital. I only weighed 99 pounds then. This was in the year 1896 from July until November. And after an operation in another month I was able to be around. Due to an epidemic of yellow fever at the hospital, I was quarantined there. I went to nursing in the hospital and learned from the trained nurses and interns quite a bit about nursing.
My son Freddie was four years old at this time and my only child. After my return from the hospital I made slow progress in gaining strength and flesh. I did not try to do any housework at all and but very little sewing, etc. for a long time—in fact as long as we remained in the South, we kept a woman all the time to do practically all the housework. Usually they stayed just for a home and keep, or if we hired a girl, we only had to pay a small wage, sometimes as low as $3.00 a month.
Men also worked for a mere nothing as compared to now-a-days. Negroes were plentiful and Negro labor was cheap, so the white man stood little chance against them at 75 cents a day—sawmill, lumber camp, or roust-about on steam boats—it made no difference how hard the job. Picking cotton was 75 cents per hundred so some cotton pickers could pick out 300 pounds a day and some did not (mostly not). The average picker usually came under 200 pounds a day. The cotton had to be thick on the stalks for good picking.
I don’t know if I explained about the real sugar cane which is grown for molasses and sugar in the Southern States. It is very sweet and different from the sorghum cane which is also grown extensively for molasses. The sugar cane has no seeds and when matured, the stocks are cut and banked in a shallow pit with the fodder or leaves all on and covered with dirt until spring at planting time. When it is taken up it is stripped clean, laid along the furrows end to end, and covered with dirt by the plow. It sprouts from every joint (about 8 inches apart) and grows the next crop of sugar cane. There is usually 100, 150, or 200 stalks saved, just as the farmer thinks he needs. They know just about how many stocks are needed to suit the required amount of ground in mind.
Peanuts are also grown extensively. They are good pig feed. The vine spreads flat on the ground and nuts grow from joints on the vine as well as around the roots. They are gathered by tramping on the vine to loosen from the soil, and then pulled with most of the peanuts clinging to the vine, which is turned upside down for nuts to dry—then hauled in to store in the house for winter use.
Logs being plentiful to build with, people usually have several small houses around for different uses. The corn is pulled with the shuck on and later husked out as needed, or at leisure. Cotton seed is stored for cow feed as hay is scarce. Alfalfa hay baled and shipped into these rainy, wet climates is high priced, so the fodder is pulled from the corn stocks, tied in small bunches called ‘hands’, and cured for winter feed instead of hay. When the ‘hands’ are cured, they are tied six or eight together into a bundle, hung on an ear of corn on the stock to dry or cure—plenty of work in those states and mostly hand work which requires long hours and days which takes the whole year through.
Plowing done with small plows and one horse, just keeps the farmer at it almost all the year around. Where with clearing new ground and grubbing sprouts from the stumps, roots to be grubbed up, fallen limbs and dead trees which must be sawed in lengths and piled and burned before plowing each spring, makes plenty of work for all the family, no fooling!
When first clearing land, only the small stuff is cut at first. Large trees are deadened by chopping the bark all around and as they die and fall are burned off as the years go by. The logs and stumps are burned. The field, cleared of such, is easy to cultivate, but the land must be fertilized when it is old field land.
Very often a day is set for this kind of work to be done and all fallen trees in the field are sawed and ready to pile up in heaps. The neighbors are invited, and a sumptuous dinner prepared, possibly a quilt in the frames for the ladies to do, and everybody happy the work is on. It is called a log-rolling. The next day another will be ready and all join in at the next place and so on until all the community is through with the ‘cleaning up’ and ready to start plowing and planting. No man is paid anything for this kind of work, only help the other man back when their turn comes. It is the same when a log house is to be ‘raised.’ All come in and put up the walls, usually in one day. They dance at night, all free except a small collection to pay the fiddler, and if some of the church members are tempted above what they are able to resist, and end up dancing, they will be excommunicated from their church if they do not go up to the mourner’s bench, kneel down, and make believe they are sorry, cry, and maybe promise the preacher to be ‘good ever after.’ I don’t know just what all, as I did not ever belong to those kinds of churches. In fact, not to any church at all until later in life.
Sometimes their friends do not tell on them, and if it is not reported, then they escape a church trial. That is the rule of all or most of the churches, I think. I say this with all respect for other people’s religion, and I also believe in freedom of speech, especially if that speech is truth; or maybe if the truth is stretched, it is the privilege of the individual. But some of the best people I ever knew belong to different churches, or perhaps no church at all. I do not believe that innocent recreation is a sin, and at the same time, I believe if one breaks the rules or covenants one makes, it is not good. I would prefer to stay with a promise, or else make a clean confession and quit entirely.
Willie enjoyed hunting and fishing very much and so did I. We made two trips south and east into a swamp country where it looked to me like we had the world to ourselves—not quite, of course. Willie built kind of a houseboat that had a bedroom, kitchen, and engine room, so we lived on the boat and moved any time or any place we wished on the river. There were fish, deer, turkey, ducks—and sometimes a bee tree to cut, which always had honey; pecans, grapes, or some other wild fruit or nuts were at hand. Once I went out and took a stand for deer, but did not see it when it passed almost right by me; but when the hounds came by, they were easy to see. Once I heard the hounds coming and was out of the boat with my rifle in time to see the deer come down the bank into the river. The water was deep, so I waited until it came out on the opposite side to shoot it. It did not fall, but Willie trailed it by the blood and could not find it as it was so dark in the thick brush. He said it could not have gone far but with night coming on it was impossible to find. I always had a woman with me to leave the children with. I then had two, Freddie and Viola.
My goodness! There were alligators and more alligators—large and small. Willie killed and skinned one that was 7 feet long. He also captured a dozen baby ones which we took home with us but they were soon all gone—we never did know where. These hunting and fishing trips were in the Mississippi swamp on the Tensas (pronounced ‘Ten-saw’) River, which was a very good fishing stream and the bluest water I think I ever saw in the South.
One time a young man,
Vard, was with us and he wanted to spread his bed on the bank under a large
tree. In the night a panther was screaming and we were listening as it came
closer just wondering if Vard would hear it. But not for long, for Vard came
hustling on board with his bed and called out, “Willie, are you awake? There is
a panther close by.” Vard did not stop until he was up on the roof of the boat
with his bed. Willie told him to put his bed down in the engine room, but he
said “No sir, I won’t stay down on deck. I want to be clear out of reach of
that panther.” But it did not let itself be known if it came close to the boat.
After all, they are wild and would not attack an outfit of any size. (In the
West they are called mountain lions.) We enjoyed these trips very much.
One night after dark Willie was out with his headlight to look for game and the first he met was a deer. We, myself and Mrs. Williams, who was with us on this trip, were sitting on the bunk by a camp-fire and heard his rifle shot. We knew the sound of his gun, so we lighted a torch of pine splinters, which were prepared for the purpose, and went the same way he had gone and met him coming towards camp with a deer. Mrs. Williams took the gun to lighten his load and I carried the torch back to camp.
(Here, Sep. 14, 1945, I have been disturbed by a good neighbor bawling me out about the phone. Will write more some other time.)
* * *
(Tonight, 22 Feb. 1946, I have listened to the Grand Old Opry, and Roy Acuff sang “Mother Put My Little Shoes Away” and “I Dreamed I Searched Heaven for You.”)
* * *
(24 Feb. 1946, now to continue my story.) This deer was very fat and delicious venison. I might explain about the headlight which is fastened on the hat crown and shines, or lights to the front only. The animal cannot see the person at all and is only attracted by the light, so makes shooting it easy at night. The eyes of animals shine like coals of fire when the light is thrown on them in the dark.
Duck hunting was very interesting, in fall or winter or spring, whichever happened to be the high water season. Water backed up the smaller streams from the Mississippi River, and overflowed the low banks and covered miles and miles of the swamps and lowlands to the foothills on both sides, which in places would be miles wide. The acorns and nuts floated on the water. This made duck hunting a very good sport. Men for miles around came before daylight to lay for the ducks which came in flocks to feed on the ‘mast,’ lighting down by the hundreds at day break, mostly where the pin-oak acorns were thick. The pin-oak acorns are small and the ducks can swallow them fast. The hunter, concealed in a favorite spot, would wait for them to play—or feed around close enough to shoot into the bunch and often kill several ducks at one shot. He must have them about right in line, for one shot was all [he could get] at that bunch. If the ducks circled around and scared up other ducks, or if another person shot and scared up other ducks, they probably would light down where man #1 could get another shot at a second bunch. There was always a canoe of some kind to paddle out and pick up the dead ones, one or maybe up to sixteen or more. Willie always had a dugout and a duck caller with him. He made those callers out of hardwood, well seasoned or dried. Stewed or roasted ducks are very nice eating.
He also made turkey callers for calling wild turkeys up close enough to shoot. These calls sounded so natural that the ‘turks’ would usually get so interested they would walk close up to the sound, or at least within shooting distance. The ‘toms’ were usually the ones to venture. Picking off the feathers was the hardest part.
Barbecues and picnic dinners were held on all holidays at some grove or select spot near the river with nature’s beautiful surroundings and just a plain rough plank for a table to stand or walk around and eat the choicest cuts of all foods spread before one. Fish fries were enjoyed between times. The fish were prepared and fried in the old fashioned way—on a campfire of oak limbs and bark burned down to coals. The oak coals have no odor like other kinds of wood such as pine.
To barbecue beef (usually with mutton or pig, as the case might be), a pit was dug two or three feet deep and filled with dry oak bark and burned to coals. Then the meat prepared, with sticks or rods through legs, is laid across the pit and basted constantly with seasoning, and turned over as often as necessary for hours—to roast slowly and patiently all night and morning till time to remove and prepare to serve. Everybody is invited from far and near, and all understand to bring a lunch basket—except meat.
The proceedings with the fish fry—consist of only just maybe two or three close neighbors, with vessels and materials for fishing, preparing and frying the fish: the fishing rod, the lunch basket, also the bake skillet for corn bread, which most Southerners prefer with a fish dinner, ‘yum yummy.’ This must needs be on the river or brook where fish are plentiful.
I believe it was about the year 1898 when the ‘Mormon’ Elders first came into our hearing. I might relate here that when news of the Elders being in the community was reported, I and my husband were not interested—only in one way, and that was hoping they did not come to our place. That is what Willie said and I agreed with him. But fate meant it to be different, for one evening a few days later, two ‘Mormon’ Elders walked down in front of our house. Willie and myself were sitting on the front porch, and he says in a low tone, “I bet that is the Mormon preachers now.” But somehow he liked to be nice to people and proceeded to bounce up and exclaimed, “Good evening, gentlemen. Come right in!” I took the ‘back track’ into the kitchen until I decided they were going to stay. Willie came in and ordered supper for them, so I went out and met them. I was just a little afraid though. Tobe Felkins and Fraser were the names. They stayed overnight and Willie bought a Book of Mormon from them.
They departed for that time, but two others came along soon, and we drove up to the school house about 4 miles to hear them preach. By this time Willie was ‘drawing’ the Book of Mormon on all the folks that came to our place—he told us a history of the American Indians—and he kept still about Joseph Smith. But getting back to the meeting at the Henry School House, we both sat up and took notice. On the way home I said “Well, I have heard tonight just what I have been listening for all my life,” and Willie says “I can’t understand about the gospel being taken from the earth when we have had the Bible all the time”. So of course, there were discussions and investigations from then on, and the Elders were frequent visitors, which we were pleased to welcome.
Willie was baptized May 21, 1901. I was baptized July 28, 1901. My niece, May Gordon, was baptized the same time as myself, but she could not stay with the church when she returned to Pawnee, Oklahoma to her home. Her mother would have ‘none of that,’ so to keep the peace, she joined the Episcopal church to please her mother, my sister Mattie. But May did not let that minister baptize her. She told him, “I have been baptized by a servant of the Lord.” She married a Jew, Maurice Marks, and has spent her life doing good through different opportunities afforded her, the best way she could in the circumstances, I believe. And she told me that the gospel makes us love everybody just like the song says.
I myself had a great desire to teach the principles of the gospel to all that would listen, so I wrote to my mother, who lived in Oklahoma, and who had never united with any church. And later I visited her and my younger sister, Nolie. I talked to them as much about it, and read too, as much as I thought I dared to. So later they were both baptized. Also sister Laura and her husband received the Elders in their home and came into the church, as did my sister Ann, who has done quite a lot of temple work. My husband’s mother lived to come to Utah with us, and did her own temple work in 1906 in the Salt Lake Temple. Her husband had passed away years before at Rugg’s Bluff, Louisiana.
But don’t think I have not had trials and temptations, which were indeed hard to resist or take, and I am afraid I did not always resist them either. I wish now I could do more good deeds and overcome my weaknesses, so the Lord may be merciful to me and I could have more power with what I attempt to do—but this is ahead of my story.
* * *
(Sept. 29th 1946.) I want to tell you about our relations near us in Louisiana—mostly Willie’s folks. They were not very attentive to us before we were baptized. They did not seem to think anything about our salvation or ever mention religion to us, but after we united with the ‘Mormon’ church, they became very interested in our salvation. Those relations and friends were mostly members of the Baptist church, so they shouted in meetings and cried about us no little bit. One never having attended the revival meetings that the Baptists hold in the summer, cannot imagine the excitement among them sometimes. Willie usually sat close to the door or an outside seat where he could make his escape and avoid the pounding he was sure to get on the back. However some of our best and most hospitable friends belong to different churches and really do a lot of good—sympathetic and helpful in case of sickness, always willing to help without charge.
(Saturday evening Sep 29, 1946, listening to Gene Autry sing “That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine”.)
I lived in the state of Louisiana about 15 years and some of the best people I ever knew live there. Although they differ with me in religion, they are good as gold at heart. We had always lived in the country at Rugg’s Bluff (P.O. Moseley’s Bluff), La. School was three or four miles away, and so we became dissatisfied. We sold out our possessions at Ruggs Bluff and emigrated to Utah in 1905, arriving at Price in April. Willie bought a home there and we remained there for two years. At this time, we had four children and the oldest son Freddie passed away in July of that year at age twelve. The following year we visited Salt Lake City, and were admitted into the temple for which I am grateful.
We remained in Price for another year and when the Uintah Basin was opened for homesteading by the government we settled there about three miles from what is now Roosevelt. Later we purchased about three acres of land inside the city limits. We remained there for a number of years—to be exact, from 1907–1927—I mean on the farm mostly, for we had lots of hard work to do to put the farm in cultivation. In winter we stayed in the city so the children could go to school, going to the farm when school was out in the spring. This farm was one quarter section of land located southwest of Roosevelt about 3 ½ miles on what is known as the Dry Gulch, very fine land when subdued. But I could never tell or write about all the things I went through with pioneering in the Uintah Basin country. A very cold and windy country indeed, the worst place I ever lived in—next to Kansas. We were not very well prepared for the climate for a number of years either. Honestly, the sand drifted into our houses terribly. In Kansas the wind blew fierce and terribly cold, but we were better housed and, when indoors were more comfortable. In the meantime along the ‘Gulch’ were a few bee-trees, and Willie cut several trees, captured the bees, and thus was the beginning of a very busy future in the bee industry, also honey producing in a big way.
Willie and I usually did the work on the farm with the help of the older children with small chores—at that time small children. But as time went on, with more fields in cultivation, and the apiary enlarged, work piled up in different ways. Willie sent East and had a cane mill shipped in, so for several seasons we grew sorghum cane and made molasses. We also planted an orchard of fruit trees of which most of them winter-killed. Always, from the very first summer, we grew most all kinds of vegetables to store in the cellar.
On our own farm was numerous cottonwood trees, of which
Willie and I sawed logs to build stables and sheds for the stock. At that time
the oldest son (Weldon) was not equal to pulling one end of a six foot crosscut
saw except in a small way. As Willie said, mostly to keep the saw straight. Believe
me, I have done quite a bit of sawing blocks from large logs for wood when
Willie was away from home. We nearly froze in that old barn of a house trying
to warm it with cottonwood, no foolin’! It makes no heat hardly and the room
did not ever get warm away from the stove on those very coldest days. We
learned to have cedar-wood from the mountains to help along with the heat
proposition and all was very unhandy besides. At times we hauled water from
springs which was clear and very nice wash water, but said to contain typhoid
germs. It may have been true, for many people had typhoid fever and there was a
reason. Just what the reason was we were not sure.
The 160 acres where we settled was in the rough, not a furrow. Prickly pear and other pesky brush, disagreeable cactus, greasewood, sagebrush, rabbit brush, shadscale, etc. was to be cleared off before plowing land. Wood was plentiful but quite ‘aways’ off and rough roads to haul from the hills, and water very unhandy to get also. Mostly we had to haul it in barrels in heavy farm wagons. Cold—whew! Often my gloves have been frozen with ice on my hands. Willie did most of the monotonous work if he was at home, but he also hauled freight from Price to help along financially, and canal work must be done by the land owners to provide irrigation.
* * *
(Saturday night, October 6th, 1946. I am listening to Roy Acuff singing “How Beautiful Heaven Must Be” and other songs I love to hear.)
* * *
(Feb. 21, 1947. I am just sitting at home alone correcting in this book and listening to the radio and Tex Ritter sing “You Will Have to Pay”. Listen to it when you have a chance. Also there are other good songs to hear, such as “Charles Darlin’”.)
- *From WGFT: “James Powell Tolle married Lillie’s aunt Matilda Hamilton. Two other Tolle families preceded Jim and Matilda there.”
- †From WGFT: “Hiram Hamilton (1805-1845) died when his daughter Mary Elizabeth (Lillie’s mother) was fifteen months old.”
- ‡From WGFT: “A ‘freshet’ is the overflowing of a stream.”
- §From WGFT: “Lillie’s grandmother, Nancy Katherine Anderson Hamilton (1811-1885).”
- ¶From WGFT: “Mary Ann Gates married Frank Oaks.”
- #From WGFT: “Laura, age twenty-two in 1885 remains constant in caring for the family.”
- **From WGFT: “Lillie’s father, William Gates was now about 55 years old (1833-1888).”
- ††From WGFT: “Nancy Katherine Anderson Hamilton was Mary Elizabeth Hamilton’s mother, Lillie’s grandmother.”
- ‡‡Henry Gates lived at a community on the north side of the D’Arbonne Bayou called Turkey Bluff. His mother (and Lillie’s grandmother) was Ann Rebecca Caver Gates (1812-1904); she was also the great-aunt of Lillie’s future husband, William Henry Wall.
- §§“Shady Wall”—Shadrick Wall—was a first cousin to Lillie’s father, William Gates. He was also the uncle of Lillie’s future husband, William Henry Wall.
- ¶¶Nancy Ann Josephine Flowers Gates (1855–1921) was the wife of Lillie’s uncle, Henry Gates.
- ##Henry Napoleon Wall (1840–1897), father of William Henry Wall.
- ***William D. Carter (1850–1931), husband of William Henry Wall’s aunt Frances Elvira Wall.
- †††From WGFT: “Lillie was 15½ years old (born 27 June 1875) and Willie was almost 21 (born 11 April 1870). There was a question about Willie because he looks so young, however, their names were written by Esther, their daughter, on the back of the wedding picture. Additionally, the inscription by one of Lillie’s nieces on another wedding picture states “Willie Wall and wife Lillie (Mother’s sister).” Separate pictures were taken of both of them at the time and later apparently spliced together which may have also caused the controversy. Examination of this picture reveals no splice.”
- ‡‡‡WGFT: “Lillie’s aunt Martha Ellen Gates Auld (1844-1911) lived at Palestine and Montalba, in Anderson Co., Texas. Pamelia Ann “Mealy” Gates Murray (born 1849) lived at Murchison, Henderson Co., Texas, about 25 miles north of where Martha lived—just south east of Dallas.”
- §§§Marina Moody Wall (1839–1915).
- ¶¶¶Lillie’s own description: In the 1800’s, the old fashioned gun was a Smith & Wesson, musket rifle; muzzle loading with ladle, bullet molds, powder-horn, and measure.