Tipton County Tennessee
Gladys Byford Turner
Publishers of Biographies
The Island Before My Time
ISLAND 35: When I started writing this book, I planned to write as I knew the island in the years I lived there, starting with what information I had read about, like when it was settled, when the post office was established, the size and so on. But after I had the story well under way I received some very interesting facts about the earlier years on the island and they are too important to leave out.
Rather than start over, I am going to make the book in two parts. These facts were given to me by one of the island’s oldest living former residents, Emery Craig, who with his wife Myrtle now lives in Millstadt, Illinois, with a daughter, Dorothy Lutes.
In the years when the island was still fairly new, Mr. George Pennel owned land from about midway of the island on the chute side to the foot. Some of the earlier settlers settled on this land and it became Reverie. For several years back in those early years, there were two post offices. Chiles, Tennessee, stood near the old gin site. Dr. B. F. Chiles farmed the foot of the island and practiced medicine only in emergencies. During this period there were two gins, two saw mills and four stores.
B. F. Chiles General Store stood near the old gin site on the lower part of the island. The James Smith Store was on the old Jess Pennel place. John Pennel’s store was in Reverie. John Cash’s Store was on the upper part of the island.
It seems at one time the island was actually a peninsula. I never thought of it before, perhaps no one else did either.
In the early years there was only a stream separating a community straight across from the head of the island known as Dixon community, which is believed to be an extension of the Tennessee mainland. You could drive over from both ways.
As I understand it, people could drive to Drummonds or Munford or wherever on the Tennessee side until the Mississippi River changed courses.
After the stream grew larger, a hand-propelled barge was used. Then in the early 1900s a motor-driven ferry boat called the Market Bay was put into service.
Although I’ve never heard what the exact population was back in those early days, it must have been quite a few people, because there were four practicing doctors at one time.
There was Dr. Ervet who had an office just below the church. There was a Dr. Hamilton who had an office between the house and well of the old Byford home place, which at that time was the Hamilton home. Dr. Kilpatrick and a Dr. Poe were also resident doctors on the island. the doctor’s residence was at the old cedar tree house where there was a beautiful rose garden and a lattice fence which made a beautiful setting.
Dr. Jack Witherington was a visiting doctor from Covington, Tennessee. Dr. R. E. Cox, Dr. N. B. Ellis and Dr. Mobley were vising doctors during the years from Wilson, Arkansas. Other visiting doctors were Dr. J. P. Conway and Dr. Ellison.
The church, known as Dixon Chapel, was a Methodist Church. It was built in the early 1900s, possibly 1903 or 1904. The site was on the upper side of the school on the head of the island. As a matter of fact it was between the school and the old Dock and Donaldson place.
Dixon Chapel got its name from the Dixon community across from the head of the island. I asked Emery about the membership. He said, “I don’t remember the number but the church was always full.” It was on the Randolph circuit then and it remained on the Hopewell, Randolph and Reverie circuit until it was discontinued. One of the preachers that preached there in those days when the church was relatively new was a Rev. Sol Forbes. The Sunday School superintendent at that time was Squire Neal, a relative of Mrs. Ora Cash.
History of Reverie As I Remember It
Reverie, Tennessee, better known as Island 35, is an island in the Mississippi River, approximately 40 miles north of Memphis with Wilson, Arkansas, to the west side and Richardson’s Landing, Tennessee to the northeast of the island.
It was settled in 1849 and was said to be, in my early childhood, 14 miles long and seven miles wide. It has been described as being the shape of a horseshoe. One preacher described it as resembling a big pork chop. I can’t say about that. Although I was born and lived 17 or 18 years on the island, I never gave much thought to its particulars. However, it is said to be only 11 miles long and two miles wide now, since much of it is has [sic] washed into the river.
The island’s first two residents were George Pennel and Jerry Epps. Mr. Pennel died in 1898 and Uncle Jerry, as Mr. Epps was respectfully called, died in the late 1930s or early 1940s. some say he was 106 years of age and some claimed he was 116 at the time of his death.
He left the island when I was very young but returned for a visit in the early 1930s and our teacher, Miss Georgia Cash, gave us a short recess so we could go out and say, “Hello,” as he was walking up the road.
The Post Office
It has been written by some interviewers that Island 35’s post office was established in 1875, but an article sent in to a Memphis paper some years ago said the post office was established in 1882. As the article was sent in by Mrs. Ora Cash, I am going with that date.
Back when Reverie Post Office was first established it was in the old store building owned and run by the Pennel brothers. During this period the steamboats would land at the back of the store. This was when the old river chute was the main river.
I suppose the Cashes bought the land and store house from the Pennels and in the early 1900s Mrs. Cash received the appointment of the post office from President Woodrow Wilson.
The post office was in the Cash family from the early 1900s until May 1, 1984, except for about three years in the 1930s. During this time Minnie Belle Byford was postmaster.
In earlier times, the mail was brought to the island by steamboat as well as supplies for the island’s residents. The steamboat was a means of transportation for people going to Memphis for a visit, on business trips or to see the doctor.
It was a thrill to meet the boat when Papa came back from Memphis. He usually brought us something. The landing of the steamboat was anywhere from midnight to 4am or the late afternoon. There were two landings, one on the east side of the island which was the back side, known as the James Howard Landing, and the other on the head of the island. This was after the river changed course.
Some of the boats that ran the river were the Vernie Swing, or it may have been spelled Verny Swane, the Valley Queen, Osening, Eclipse, Idlewild Harrilee and the Joe Curtis which was the last to run the river to the island.
After the river changed channels, the mail was brought by row boat or motor boat from Wilson, Arkansas, to the island. The steamboats no longer ran the river along the Arkansas side.
One of the earlier mail carriers that met the steamboat on horseback and picked up the mail was Mr. J. J. Stewart.
Jim Bobbit brought the mail from Wilson for a while, then William Cash brought it for a long time. As I left the island during this period I don’t know who carried the mail after William Cash.
The island was usually flooded in late winter or early spring. Most of the time it only covered the low places, but about every ten years the island was completely covered and the residents had to move off until the water receded into its banks.
I was on the island through two of these floods. In 1927 I was a small child and my older brother Bill and his family moved into the house with us, while he and Papa went off the island to the Tennessee side to find a place to live until we could safely move back home.
Mr. Sam Tate’s barge came to our front door on the island and loaded our furniture on the barge and we went up the road about a mile and then crossed out into the old river chute and round the head of the island to Richardson’s Landing.
A bit of humor, My niece Cordie, Bill’s oldest daughter, was eating an old cold biscuit one day before we moved. The water was up on the front porch and she kept swinging around a post on the porch, and my brothers Joe and Henry kept telling her she was going to fall into the water. Well, she kept on anyway, and about that time Fred Bowers came up in a motor boat, and during the excitement of someone coming Cordie missed her step and fell into the water. When she came up she said, “Well, you wouldn’t be laughing if you’d got drownded like I did.”
In 1937 there was another big flood. I was 15 years old and making my home with my oldest brother Les and his family. People once again had to leave their homes. I remember quite a few families lived at a community center near Covington. The steamboat Minnesota came to the island on January 25 and took a lot of folks from the island to find temporary homes in Tennessee or Arkansas.
We stayed on the island a few days longer by moving into the schoolhouse which was high off the ground. The morning we left the island the water was up to the floor. we had our clothes in a nine-foot cotton sack. Mr. Wes Walker took us to Wilson in my brother’s boat. From there we went to Memphis with some friends where we children stayed while my sister-in-law Minnie Belle went from Memphis back to Richardson’s Landing with friends to pick up her car. She drove back to Memphis where we spent the night and headed for Wynne, Arkansas, the next morning to stay with Minnie Belle’s parents until the water went down.
I was told Mr. John Cash never left the island during the flood.
This was in January, the morning we left the island, and the trees were bending over with ice.
when we came back to the island we stayed a short while in the schoolhouse, in the big room, and C. B. and Inez Smith and their two small sons stayed in the smaller room.
I was told that the winter of 1917 was so cold the river froze over and the boats could not run. It was that way for days. Finally when the river had thawed out enough to get through, the people were so happy they were shouting. Of course they had a flood, also. I don’t know how much of the island was covered at that time, but I do know that some of the people left the island.
The island’s main source of income was cotton, corn and a few cattle. In the early years, long before my time, I am sure there were lots of hardships. Besides growing crops and all their own food, their methods were crude as well as hard work. They made their own soap, molasses, clothes and so on, which was not unusual for that day and age. They were on an island were conveniences were next to none. Their means of getting away from, and coming back to, the island was by paddle or row boat which was hard, especially in the winter time. They did a lot of improvising, I am sure.
In those early years when the island was first settled, I imagine they had lots of wild animals, and they carried water from the river for drinking as well as washing clothes and bathing.
In my early years we had the old coal oil lamps and cooked on the wood stove. I even remember when I was real small, my Papa would make what he called a “grease light.” He would put fried meat grease in a small bowl and twist some flannel strings together and coil it around in the grease until it was well saturated and then he would light it. It was really messy, but it beat sitting in the dark. These times were few, though, like when the coal oil ran out and none could be found on the island until the boat ran.
Now some of you may think, “What an awful, out-of-the-way place to live.” Well, I can tell you that isn’t true.
Some of my fondest memories are of the years growing up on the island and there are lots of others who feel the same way.
To walk up the road in the early morning air in the spring while the new earth was being turned over for the crops to be planted, to see the birds behind the plow picking up the big fat worms, and to smell the fresh earth was a wonderful feeling.
Then to go dewberry picking, what a fun time. Dewberries, unlike blackberries, were easier to get to, and what a treat a dewberry pie was to eat. They were sweet and juicy.
To listen to the July fly and katydid in the evening, to smell the coffee and the evening meal cooking, then a visit with a neighbor made the long, hard day worthwhile.
I always liked getting up just before dawn to help load the bale of cotton. To hear the hoot owl and smell and feel the fresh morning air. Everyone wanted to get to the gin early so they could get back and get to the field as soon as possible.
The Baseball Team
Baseball was a sport the islanders enjoyed. They had a pretty fair team, too. The island team would go to different little communities on the Tennessee side of the river to play. then one of these communities would come to Reverie the next time.
One of Reverie’s best players was a tall, redheaded guy.
It was at one of those games away from the island at a little place called Shakerag that a fight started between one of the Reverie boys and one of the Shakerag boys. Well, not really a fight. The boy from Shakerag pulled a double handful of hair out of the island boy’s head. He left a calling card that was hard to miss.
Dancing was an entertainment everyone enjoyed. the dances were usually given on Saturday night, and although several families gave dances, it always seemed to go over best at Uncle Will and Aunt Mildred Craig’s house. Uncle Will played the fiddle, and George or Emery, his sons, would play the guitar.
Usually everything went smoothly, and everyone had a good time, but this night in particular I remember. I was about eight years old, and of course I was too young to dance. So I was outside playing with some of the others and everything got quiet for a few seconds. I knew something was wrong. I started to the house, and I saw a couple going across the year. She was crying and he was jerking her hand. Then someone fell out across the yard with a guitar. One man ran and jumped on his mare and was kicking and hollering, “Get up, Madie.” But Madie was still tied to the post.
It was right about then I decided I’d better head for home. I ran all the way.
The beginning of school was a happy time for me, ’cause I liked going to school. School started the first Monday in August, and I can remember on Friday afternoon before school started the following Monday, Mr. Horace Cash would go about on horseback telling the children, “boys and girls, school starts bright and early Monday morning.”
It was shortly after school started one year, the island’s farmers donated a certain amount of cotton to make up a bale for the preacher. These two ladies were elected to take the cotton to the gin. After waiting a few hours for the cotton to be ginned, they realized it was going to be late, even dark, before the ginner could get to them. So they decided to leave the wagon with the cotton on it overnight. They unhitched their mules from the wagon, leaving the harnesses on them. It was several miles from the gin on foot back to their homes, so they decided to ride the mules.
All went well for the first mile or so, then a lady picking cotton by the side of the road with a white cloth tied around her head heard the rattle of the harnesses and raised up to see what was coming. This scared the mule next to the cotton patch and he sidled into the other mule and its rider fell off and rolled across the road.
One of my brothers, Cordie, and I were coming down the road from the head of the island in a cotton wagon and we saw what happened. The lady got up and everything seemed all right. My brother, who thought everything was funny, got down in the wagon and laughed for five minutes. The story went about that the husband of the lady that fell off the mule told her the next morning that he had a pair of mules he wanted her to break. I won’t quote what she said back to him.
There were two cotton gins on the island at that time, one on the foot and one on the head. There was also a small saw mill and a grist mill. I believe they were on the foot, and this was earlier. There were two general stores on the island. My brother, Les, owned one, and Mr. Tom Wilson owned the other. At one time there were three schools on the island. There was one on the head, one on the foot and the black school was near the head. When I started to school there was only one school and it was on the head.
One of the few memories I have of Mama was when she would take the boys to school in the buggy. She’d hitch our beloved Ole Jenny to the buggy, and I thought I was really special when I could ride with her in the buggy to school. Ole Jenny was a red mule we had, and she was almost like family. I remember well when Papa sold Ole Jenny to James Howard, a colored man across the river on the Tennessee side. My brother Dub and I were very sad about it.
One of the many things I remember about going to school my first three or four years was waiting for Margaret Craig, who later became my sister-in-law, to come by so we could walk to school with her. Or maybe I should say run with her.
Margaret walked so fast we had to almost stay in a trot to keep up with her. Daughters Helen and Margaret Jr., say she still walks that fast. Papa used to say when he saw her coming, “Here comes that fast train.”
The Pace of the Island
The island was much like any other place. The rhythm of the earth turning around the sun. The blowing wind. The falling rain.
The greening crops of springtime, the ripening harvest of autumn. Daybreak and nightfall, pain and joy all mingled and blended into the rhythm of creation.
All of this was as much a part of the island and its people as anywhere else in God’s universe.
It was just a few paces behind. Although the island wasn’t easy to get to and away from, and conveniences were next to none, a lot of good people loved calling it “home”.
There was something about early morning in May at Reverie that was as fresh as rain in a mint patch.
June with its haze was so dreamy and peaceful. It must surely be how the island go the name of Reverie.
When the backwater was out in the spring, up above the old barn was a place in the road where the water ran across long before it covered the road. Cordie and I would take a tin wash tub and get in it, one at a time, and pretend it was a boat. I remember one time in particular when the boat capsized, and I got my feet and legs wet. Well, Papa had stressed at great length, and in no uncertain terms, what the consequences would be if we got wet. Of course, this was only if he found out, which he didn’t because I waited in the old barn while Cordie sneaked into the house and got some dry clothes for me.
What few mischievous little things Cordie and I couldn’t think of to do were hardly worth doing.
There was an old colored man named John who lived not too far from us, and he had a garden by the side of the road. One time we pulled up some of his onions and poked them down an old iron pip that stuck up out of the ground. Boy, if Papa had known about that. Well, I’m just glad he didn’t.
John’s wife Annie carried water from our well which was not unusual, but the way she carried it was unusual. She would carry it on top of her head, about a two-and-a-half-gallon water bucket full to the brim, holing it with one finger for at least a mile without spilling it.
Roscoe, the Bull and Me
The fall of my third birthday I remember an incident that left its scars. Now don’t say, “Ah, you don’t remember that young.” I really do. It happened one Saturday morning. Papa, my two oldest brothers Les and Bill, and my brother-in-law Willie were chasing a Jersey bull that spent more time getting out than staying in the pasture.
They were pretty disgusted with the bull’s endless episodes of meandering. So they took Roscoe, the brindle bulldog to teach Mr. Bull a lesson. Every time Roscoe got a hold of the bull’s nose he’s throw him. The chase went on for some time.
As they got closer to the house I got a chair and put it up to the banister on the back porch. About this time the bull and the dog left the road and came through the yard by the well and on toward the back porch.
As the bull neared the porch I went over the banister right in his path. He missed stepping on me somehow. Someone picked me up and stood me on the porch, and I ran into the house to the back wall of the dining room screaming and trying to climb the wall backwards.
By this time it was hard to tell who was the bloodiest, Roscoe or me. Can you believe no one looked to see how badly I was hurt? Just ask me if I wanted to see the bull again.
I had a hole in my tongue with a scar still there to prove it, a cut lower lip, and a deep gash in the palm of my right hand. These scars I still have after 62 years.
After Mama died it was hard for Papa, trying to bring up a little girl and four boys. It wasn’t easy, keeping a housekeeper. When Papa wasn’t around, the boys didn’t like to be told what to do. One day Thurman got kind of smart with our cook, and she told him he was too foxy. The other boys teased him about being “too foxy” so much that the cook left in a few days. I can just imagine why.
Papa always told the cooks when he hired them he wanted cornbread for dinner and certainly any time there were boiled vegetables. Ella Whitson was cooking for us, and one night she served turnip greens and biscuits instead of cornbread. The next morning was my first attempt at cooking. My biscuits turned out real pretty , beginner’s luck. From then on, when we were without a cook I had to do most of the cooking.
From the time my mother died, when I was a few months past my third birthday, until Papa died, two months before my twelfth birthday, we had quite a number of cooks.
I remember when I was about eight years old, Mrs. Kitty Beard was cooking for us and she had a small daughter named Rachel. I think she was there two or three times to cook for us over the years. The last time she was there Papa needed a man to help out in the farming so he went to Memphis on the steamboat to see if he could find someone. He couldn’t find a single man, but he did find a man and his wife who needed work so he brought them back. He explained to Miss Kitty why he had to let her go and he would pay her way back to Memphis the next morning.
That night after supper we were all seated on the front porch, and Mrs. Lewis, the lady who had come to replace Miss Kitty, said, “Why, I haven’t seen a car since I got here.”
Papa told her she was not likely to see one in a while. The man who lived on the head of the island had an old truck that came by.
She said, “Oh, my. I can’t stay where I can’t see any cars go by.”
They all left by boat the next morning for Memphis. We were without a cook again.
Growing Up at Reverie
I guess you know by now that Papa was pretty special to me. After the loss of three wives and a dozen children you’d think anyone would be beaten to the point they would bive up or turn to drinking, but not Papa. he kept holding on, doing the best he could to keep our home going until the very end of his life.
He was a small man in stature, and his education was limited to the point of signing his name which he could not have read back. He still stood mighty tall in my eyesight.
Growing up at Reverie was lots of fun. I had seven nieces that were from seven years younger to seven years older than I was. We played together like sisters. Brother Les had one girl and after Papa died I made my home with Les and his family. Bill had four girls and sister Dixie had two girls. On most weekends we gathered at one house or the other. We most always had a good tome with the exception of a few childish squabbles.
I can remember one of the funniest things we ever did, or at least Aunt Mildred thought so. We had a play house just under the porch of our old home place, and we had a toad frog for our baby with a diaper pinned on it.
Aunt Mildred was coming up the road and we said, “Come here, Aunt Mildred, and see our baby.” She thought that was the funniest baby she ever saw.
Bill lived at the old home place. When we would go there to spend the night, Mary Ellen and Willie B., along with Dorothy and me, would go down on Saturday afternoon. About dark we would start trying to decide how we would sleep with Cordie because she was the only one we thought it was safe to sleep with. Ruby had been bitten by a mad dog when she was younger, and we were afraid she would go mad and bite us because she said she would. Frances had the weirdest snore you ever heard and Christine would pull your hair. It was a scramble before we would all get settled for the night.
One time Mary Ellen and Willie B. were spending the night with Dorothy and me. Guy, of course, had to join us and that usually meant Les would make us turn off the radio and go to sleep sooner. On this particular Saturday night we were listening to the Grand Ole Opry and Les had already called us down once. We knew the next time would be lights out. They announced the next song was “If You Want To Be My Baby, Pull Off That Dirty Shirt.”
Guy was giggling and making noise. Mary Ellen said, “Oh, shut up, Guy. Here’s that ‘Old Dirty Shirt'”. We all went into screaming laughter, and that was it.
We had good times at Sister’s because half of the island would gather there before the weekend was over.
Sister would work all week in the field, then on Saturday would wash and iron. On Sunday she would get up and clean up the house. she would put on fresh scarfs, fresh spreads and pillow cases, sweep the floors and get ready to cook dinner all day for all who cared to eat. By noon the house was ready to be cleaned again, but she didn’t leave the kitchen until everyone was fed. I don’t know how she managed, but everyone always had fun.
I remember one Christmas, in 1926, and she was doing the Christmas baking. She had some egg whites in a bowl. I’ll never forget that bowl. I can see it as plain today as I could sixty years ago. I picked up the bowl, looked at the egg whites a few minutes, then walked to the hall door and threw them out. What I wasn’t expecting was that she was right behind me. When I pitched – she spanked.
They were living in the house with us at the time. Later on they moved from our house to a house nearer to the head or the island. She would still come cook dinner every Sunday whenever we didn’t have a cook. She was a good daughter, sister and mother to us.
One time Sister wanted to go to a dance, but she needed a haircut. the only barber on the island at that time was Jack Hardin, so she put at him to cut her hair. He told her, “I can only cut the menfolk’s hair.” When he go through with it, it was so short she bawled him out. Willie told her he would get her a coonskin cap to wear, and that really hit the wrong nail on the head.
She didn’t go to the dance that night.
From Tennessee to Arkansas and Back to Tennessee
Although most of my relatives ended up in Arkansas after leaving the island, I cam back to Tennessee. I guess I am a true Tennessean like my Aunt Millie Harfield. One time Uncle John was getting ready to move to Arkansas, and she said, “Now, Johnny, I’m not going to Arkansas.”
Uncle John kept right on loading up the wagon. When he was ready to pull out, she said, “Now, Johnny, where do you expect me to ride?”
He said, “Well, Millie, I didn’t think you were going.”
She always said, “Deliver me from Hell and Arkansas.”
Aunt Millie always called ’em like she saw ’em, even in church. This was told to me by Papa.
Aunt Millie stood right up in church one time when the preacher was saying, “I want to tell all you Baptist people, if your folks are dead the old devil is picking up chunks right now to burn them.”
She came right back by saying, “And if you sanctified so-and-sos have loved ones dead, they’re burning in hell right now.”
Aunt Millie was a dear, though, and the only aunt I ever know on my Papa’s side of the family.
Old Beauty and the Harrow
When my brother Thurman was about 16 or 17, he saved up money and bought a pretty mare. He was very proud of his first possession.
One day while Papa was gone, he decided to break Beauty to work. Now this was definitely a mistake. Beauty was a saddle mare. Even is [sic] she were to be broken, you definitely would not start with the harrow. Of course, we were all too young to realize that. Anyway, the incident was just a shade short of disaster.
Bill happened to be at home and came to the rescue. He gave Thruman a good tongue lashing on how he should start out with a log and work up to the farm equipment. he said he wouldn’t tell Papa if Thurman promised not to try this again. We were all impulsive, hard headed, and a little stubborn. Ah, heck. A lot stubborn.
Visitor in the Night Steals Ham
One night when Coot and Willie B. were spending the night with us a ham was stolen.
I remember we had a pallet on the floor right in front of the hall door. Like most times when we spent the night with one another, we walked, talked, and giggled until we were threatened or spanked before we would go to sleep. We had just been called down by Papa for the last time when we heard someone walking by our pallet. We all asked each other who was up, but it seemed we were all under the cover, head and ears, and that’s how we stayed the rest of the night.
The next morning the kitchen door was standing open and a ham was gone. It seems the thief came in by our pallet but went out by way of the kitchen door.
Musical Chairs Without the Chairs
I’m sure most of you over 50 have played musical chairs.
One day while Papa was drawing water for the mules to drink when they came in from the field, a funny thing happened.
While Cordie, Ruby, Frances and I played in the front yard, Ruby decided to see what Grandpa was doing. While she talked with him she kept prancing around the tub. Finally, Papa told her, “You’re going to fall in the tub if you’re not careful.”
Well, she kept right on prancing and talking, and SPLASH, backwards she fell in the tub of near ice water.
There was “music”,” all right, loud and clear but no chairs.
Pandemonium in the Kitchen
People on the island visited more than the average person today. On Sundays, people spent the day and enjoyed the noon meal and good old fashioned fellowship. It was on one of these occasions that pandemonium broke out in the kitchen of the W. B. Byford household.
I mentioned before that my sister most always came and cooked Sunday dinner for us when we were without a cook.
On the Sunday in question, Willie Smith and children – Linnie, Milton, and I think Carl was a small boy – cam to spend the day and have dinner. Most all the families on the island had at least one dog. At this time we had one old bulldog called Bull. He had been in our family since I was a baby.
Miss Willie brought their dog along, a big white dog with black spots. His name was Foch. Like most dogs, he followed the wagon. Everything went along fine. We children played and had fun while Sister and Miss Willie prepared the meal.
Now most families don’t have screens, and we sure didn’t have air conditioning so the windows were raised, and the doors were open. We were called to dinner, and while everyone was eating, Bill and Foch found their way into the kitchen. Now, Bull knew he wasn’t allowed in the house, so I believe that was probably the cause of the fight. He just wasn’t going to allow another dog to do what he was forbidden to do.
Bull was fair size, but no match for a younger and larger dog. Foch was taller and longer and, with the age difference, he had good leverage over Bull. Anyway, it was like three or four countries with a different language. No one understood what the other was saying.
Henry couldn’t stand seeing Bull beaten up any longer. He grabbed a stick of stove wood and hit Foch on the head.
Miss Millie shouted, “You’ll kill my dog.”
Well, it didn’t kill him but it slowed down things enough to get them separated.
It certainly upset the pace of the day but everything was settled peaceably. Foch wasn’t too popular after that with the Byford children. But neither was Henry with Miss Willie.
Ghost Stories and Superstitions
Ghost stories and superstitions were as much a part of island living as navy beans and cornbread.
Which brings to mind a little story my brother-in-law Willie used to tell. He said he had a ham bone that everyone on the island used to cook their beans with until Lum Smith borrowed it and cooked it with a pot of black-eyed peas, and ruined it.
Someone started a ghost story about an old snag tree that stood by the side of the road somewhere between the old cedar tree house and the Stewart house. The story was that , on a dreary, rainy evening you could hear a baby crying and a mother singing and rocking the baby in this old snag. Now I can tell you one thing, whether it was true or not, on those rainy afternoons when we were coming home from school e took the far side of the road and ran like the dickens past that old snag. Papa used to tell a ghost story about a man with no head. It happened one night when he and a friend went down on the foot of the island to play poker. On their way back the man with no head was standing by the side of the road. Papa was riding a flighty little mare, and his friend Jim was riding a poky old mule.
Now Papa’s mare was trained to take off like lightning when you rubbed your hand over her shoulder. So what did Billy do? You probably guessed it. Without thinking about Jim and his poky old mule he gave the signal and was off like a streak. he went out of the saddle around the mare’s neck, and before he could slow her down enough to get back in the saddle he was almost home.
Then, realizing he had left Mr. Jim with the ghost, he turned around and went back. Mr. Jim hadn’t come too far, and his disposition, needless to say, was not exactly one of pleasure.
I do believe that most of the island people were possessed with superstitions.
To mention one, a crowing hen meant death for sure.
I remember the day Papa died. It was one of the saddest days of my life. Some time after dinner the next day, some of us were seated at the table, and a hen crowed under the house. My brother Joe grabbed the shotgun, ran outside and shot under the house, scaring us out of our wits. He didn’t even hit the hen but she was probably too scared to ever cackle, much less crow again.
Down Memory Lane
I remember as a little girl so many happy memories. Like waking up in the morning with the sun coming up in the old kitchen door. A cool drink of water from the old well. The memory of Papa sitting by my bedside when I had a fever. The feel of his comforting hand on my forehead, telling me I’d be all better soon. The first warm days of spring, barefoot time with the feel of the ground between your toes while you looked for Crawdads. The singing of birds while looking for fishing worms to go fishing in your favorite fishing hole. The last day of school. Back then, school closed the last week of March. Children playing from late afternoon until eight or nine o’clock in the evening. We’d play tag or hide and seek. In early summer, going dewberry picking or getting up early in the morning, going to the garden and picking a green onion and eating it with a biscuit. In the cool evenings we’d fight at bats with a fishing cane. It was fun to hit at them and have them dip down at us. Sometimes Henry would hit one and knock him down. Then I’d sit on the steps and listen to Papa tell of long ago days. As the song goes, Time takes away many things but it can’t take away memories. Then comes the long, lazy days of summer when the quail whistle loudly in the pasture or corn fields and the cows come up the long, shady lane to get a cool drink and rest. The revival was a time of good fellowship and reviving of spiritual life. A time enjoyed by young and old. When people were not too sophisticated to say, “Amen.” Once again, time to start the new school term. This some enjoyed but most didn’t. I really did enjoy going to school. I have always regretted not getting to start school the year I was six.
Pecan hunting time was a game when I was a little girl, trying to beat everyone else in picking up the most pecans. I remember one year we had a large, oval trunk that belonged to Aunt Millie. One of us, maybe it was Joe because he usually beat the rest of us, picked up enough pecans to fill that old trunk two-thirds full.
We didn’t go trick-or-treating on Halloween like children do now. The teacher usually had a program of some sort. We’d decorate the school room and windows. We’d sometimes have a Gypsy fortune teller, eat popcorn balls, bob for apples and play games or maybe have a box supper.
After the crops were gathered, the cows, hogs and some mules were allowed to run out in the fields. Dub and I would really have fun then. most people kept blocks of salt for their cows but some didn’t. So when the cows started running out they would hunt for something that might have a taste of salt. Like some of the empty houses where people maybe salted down their meat in a corner of the house. We’d watch these houses that were empty and the doors left open. A cow would stick her head inside a door and we’d run up behind her, forcing her to jump inside and go all the way through the house and either jump or slide out into the back yard. My brother would get such a big laugh from this.
We really had lots of fun growing up on the island [Island 35]. We had two pet pigs. One was black and Papa gave that one to us. The other pig was white. Les gave that one to Dub.
We’d take a bucket of slop out where the garden was and pour it in a trough and while the pigs were eating, we’d get on their back and when they finished eating they’d take off for the house. It was high enough off the ground that the pigs could run under it, thus removing the riders.
Most children growing up do typical things and play typical games. We were probably not typical of the boys and girls growing up in less confined places. How many of you ever ran cows through empty houses, rode pigs, and licked salt with the cows? Yes, we sure did. My brother Les kept out blocks of salt for the stock. We kids could be found around a salt block on hands and knees, licking the salt.
Papa liked to go squirrel hunting. He most always came back with one or two. He was also a good fisherman.
The boys would go goose hunting to get a goose for the Thanksgiving or Christmas table.
Christmas was an enjoyable time. Sister would usually cook the meal and make the pies but Papa would order three nice, big cakes, chocolate, cocoanut and orange. We children enjoyed shooting fireworks. I believe my brother Thurman enjoyed fireworks more than anyone I ever saw.
When the backwater came out in the sloughs we would be standing knee deep in water, picking up fish weighing two or three pounds. Oh, boy, what pain when they finned us.
The Storm Cellar
We islanders believed in lots of things, like God, the rights and privileges of others, ghost stories and superstitions but we never thought too much about storm cellars. That is until George and Ola May Scott came to the island in the late 1920s or early 1930s.
Ola May was a niece of Uncle Will Craig’s. With their son Elbert they moved on the place Uncle Will had rented.
It wasn’t long until lots of people who never had a storm cellar before had begun to dig one.
Someone Stole the Brew
Thurman, Joe and Henry made some home brew one time.
While it was still in the process of fermentation they put it on the back porch. Bill saw the churn sitting out there and he told them that when it was ready to bottle he was going to sneak it home with him.
Well, about the third or fourth day of sitting on the porch Mr. Bill Fraley came bay, going up the road. he had a German shepherd dog named Rex that most everyone was afraid of. Instead of Rex going up the road with Bill, the dog saw a cat and chased it around the house onto the back porch and the cat ran up the wall and was holding on for dear life.
When Mr. Bill got there he reached up and pulled the cat off the wall. The cat got loose and in the fall, the top was knocked off the churn and the cat took a splash in the brew.
My brother Bill didn’t know this, and that very night he took the brew. Well, by the time the boys missed the brew, Bill had already sampled it – thus leaving the boys with the last laugh.
Being Nursemaid and Scraping New Potatoes
When I was about seven or eight years old, Papa hired a man and woman from out near Drummonds, Tennessee. The man helped in the field and the woman did the cooking. they had a son eight months old. He was real cute and usually I liked watching after him, except when it came time to feed him, that was a different story. His mother would have me chew up the food and then put it in his mouth. Of all the unsanitary, yucky jobs I ever had to do, this was it.
Of course, scraping potatoes was second in line. Most of you 55 years or older, know what scraping potatoes is like.
To peel new potatoes was simply unheard of. It was a waste of food and a loss of nutrition. It seemed to take forever to scrape the smaller ones.
I tried to be somewhere else when it came time to scrape potatoes, but no matter where I was Mrs. P. always found me. I vowed and declared I’d not scrape potatoes when I grew up. The years have a way of changing things. I have never chewed up any food except my own, after that year, although I have scraped a few potatoes.
Through the Long Winter Nights
Through the long winter nights you could hear cows bawling, and the bulls bellowing and snorting and fighting. It sure would make the hair rise on your head.
There were two stallions on the island, and when they got loose someone would go about warning the people to stay indoors until they were rounded up. Usually we’d be going to, or coming from, school, and of course we’d get excited, and everyone would try to talk at the same time.
Old Harvey or Prince or both were out, and we had to stop at someone’s house until they were caught.
It was not often dull at Reverie.
There were good times, fun time, sad times and scary times.
Like the time my brother Les had to go to Memphis on business.
He lived at the old Cash and Younger place at the time. Carrie came to spend the night with Minnie Belle, and it was on a dark and rainy night. They had been in bed only a short time when they heard a noise.
They got up to see and about the time they got to the kitchen they heard something over by the window.
Minnie Belle started firing the pistol, they heard a groan and she knew she had shot someone.
They decided that Carrie would run down the road about a mile to get Papa while Minnie Belle guarded whoever had been shot. So Carrie ran to gat Papa, forgetting she was barefoot and in her petticoat.
When Papa got there he found out it was only a drunk, a colored man trying to get in out of the rain, and the shots had gone over his head, and the man was all right except he was so drunk he didn’t know where or who he was. So another colored man took the drunk with him, and everyone went home and back to bed.
Les Goes to Island 34 to Manage a Farm
Over the years of riding over the farm, Les owned a number of horses. Sometime in the late 1920s he owned a retired race horse named Barney O’Connor. Barney was a very smart horse, and grew very fond of Les.
Les would ride him down to see Papa almost every day.
Barney had grown used to these visits so when Les went away to Island 34 to take over the management of the farm after Mr. A. D. Fraley was shot and killed during an argument, Barney was very upset.
He would get loose from his hitching post and run straight to Papa’s well, and run around and around the well until someone took him back home. This proves that it’s not always “a man and his dog” but sometimes horses count, too.
Barney was not the only one upset.
Les’ family was very much concerned for Les’ safety during that period.
One of the many horses Les rode over the farm was a big, black one named Billy. I remember one day after dinner, Les was ready to ride out over the farm for the afternoon. I don’t think Billy was ready to go, ’cause every time Les would put his foot in the stirrup to mount, Billy would start backing up.
This went on a time or two before Les lost his temper and started whipping Billy. Billy really got upset and the round was on.
Billy got the horn of the saddle hung on the clothes line wire and ran backwards into the bell frame, and we all held our breath for fear the frame, bell and all, would come down on someone or something would be badly damaged.
This kept up until I guess they wore each other out and Les climbed aboard and rode off. As you can see, entertainment at Reverie was free and often.
Old Queenie Loses Her Tail
One time, when the backwater was out in the sloughs, the Rascals pulled a stunt that backfired.
Our brother Bill had a muley cow. I guess she was part Guernsey and part Jersey. This cow was very special to Bill and the Rascals knew it.
I don’t suppose they thought when they decided to sic the dogs on a bunch of cows, just to see them run, that Queenie would be a victim.
The dogs singled Queenie out and chased her out into the swimming water. There they caught hold of her tail and held on until they pulled it off just below the root.
The Rascals tried to call the dogs off but to no avail.
Bill came up about that time and the jig was up.
He was so angry, I’m surprised he didn’t use the switch himself.
Anyway, when he told Papa, the Rascals got a licking that they remembered for quite some time.
Poor Queenie was pitiful looking, and I’m sure she was in much pain for some time.
Mr. Standridge Comes to Reverie
One of the nicest male visitors ever to come to the island was Mr. George Standridge. The first time he came, I was about seven or eight years old. He came and went for the next six or so years, and I suppose everyone liked him.
I can remember he used to make chairs, mostly rockers. He was also a barber. he cut my hair for several years in the style of “shingle bob.”
He was a lot of fun to listen to. He would call all the ladies and girls “Doll.” If the lady was not pretty he would say, “Miss So-and-so ought to be squeezed between two sledge hammers.”
If the lady was pretty he would say, “She ought to be squeezed in my arms.”
I don’t know what prompted him to come to the island the first time, but his reason for coming back must have been the good, cold well water because he never found a wife here.
A Christmas Prank
Now, really, how onery can you get? It was the first cool spell in October and Papa had gone to Memphis. So it would be a good time to play a joke on little sister and brother.
They promised us that if we went to bed early Santa would come nd see us. Once again we trusted them and hung up our stockings – and once again we were disappointed. Maybe they would be classed as mean, but I would say they were a good substitute.
Can you believe they had the gall to tell people I was mean?
Joe even told people I threw a bar of old fashioned Octagon laundry soap at him and knocked two teeth out. Not true. They were only trying to hold their reputations for mischievousness by demeaning mine.
I’m writing this down all in fun.
My First Trip to the Doctor’s Office
It was Tuesday morning, January 20, 1930, and a very cold day. Ellie was taking us to school that morning in the wagon.
The wagon had real low sideboards and a plank ran from one side to the other to make a seat long enough for all to sit on. Up between the old cedar tree house and Miss Ag’s house was a mud puddle in the road. It had rained the night before.
There was a fence on both sides of the road. When the mules pulled to the right to stay out of the puddle the seat board hit a fence post.
I had one leg on the outside of the wagon bed and seat board. It tore a place in the front part of my leg, just above the shinbone, about four inches long and three inches wide.
I didn’t know anything happened until we were getting out of the back of the wagon, and one of the girls said, “Oh, Gladys, you’ve cut your leg!”
it had knocked all the feeling out for the time being. It had come back by the time the doctor started shooting it with something to deaden it so he could sew it up. It had torn through my long cotton underwear and stockings.
Ellie got me up to Miss Ag’s and Woodrow carried me into the house. he then took the wagon and went back to get bill. Dub had walked back down to Les’ who sent Minnie Belle to see what the matter was. When Bill got there he and Minnie Belle took me to the doctor.
Before they got there I remember Miss Ag poured something from a round blue bottle on the wound and I was hollering ’cause I just knew it was alcohol, but it was so soothing I knew it couldn’t be alcohol. She wrapped a white pillow case around it and told me the medicine was S. T. 37.
Minnie Belle said she was so embarrassed that morning because she thought I had on the worst clothes I had. I am sure I did, and I’m sure she was embarrassed, but it was hard for a man to keep things going smoothly.
I had to make ten trips across the river to the doctor. Bill would put a quilt in a cocking chair, and put it in the wagon, and set me in the chair, and drive up the road to Smith’s Landing, and he and Ed Smith would take hold of the arms, and set the chair in the boat.
When we got to the Arkansas side they would leave the rocker in the boat. Bill would carry me up the river bank, put me in Ed’s car, and we would go uptown in Wilson. Bill would carry me up a flight of stairs to the doctor’s office.
Dr. Ellis laughed and said he did such a good job of sewing up my leg that his wife tried to give him the patching jobs at home. It was all in vain, though.
Three days later when I went back for a check-up, Dr. Ellis had gone to Memphis with some people who had a wreck in Wilson real early that morning. The doctor on duty while Dr. Ellis was gone took the stitches out and by the time we were half way back home you could see from the impression of the bandage that the wound had just laid back open.
In a few days my leg became gangrenous. I didn’t walk any more that winter.
I have thought many times over the years how grateful I am to Bill and Ed for taking such good care of me during that period of my life.
They Came to Reverie
Although Reverie was not easy to get to, or to get away from, it sure attracted a lot of people through the years. Some came for a visit or because of curiosity. Others stayed a few years and some made it their home for as long as 50 or 60 years.
During the early 1930s there was the greatest influx of families to the island. This was about the time the depression was felt the most, and people were in search of jobs.
Most people liked the island, but unless you were a farmer, teacher, preacher or were very wealthy, the island had very little to offer.
Of course, if you were a romantic, you might make it by writing romantic novels. Reverie, with its dreamy existence, certainly created the right atmosphere for it.
One of the island’s most valued resources was its rich delta farm land. There were three important abilities for making a good living, or even becoming successful at farming: the ability to rent or buy land, the willingness to work hard and the ability of good management. This has been proven down through the generations.
The schools on the island taught more than the three Rs. Although it was just a one-room school through the eighth grade, on occasions some of the teachers had the ability to teach some subjects through the 10th grade.
Up until the 1940s or early 1950s, most children got married or helped the family around home after they graduated from the eighth grade. Very few had the opportunity to go somewhere to live with a relative or board with a family and finish high school. Although many of Reverie’s students have gone on to become teachers, nurses, beauticians and at least one lawyer.
About the grassburr, you have not been in agony until you have stepped on one with your bare foot or picked up one. Believe me, Reverie had its share of the agonizing piece of torture that grew on a blade of grass. It was about the size of a pea with little briars like thorns. You might call it a pea-size porcupine.
You may be familiar with the little piece of torture, but in all of my moving about I have never seen one except on Island 35. In late summer in the afternoon when school turned out, a certain boy would chase the girls and try to kiss them. In trying to get away from him, we would run out the back door – right into the grassburrs. While we were battling the grassburrs he would kiss us and I’d rather you would hit me in the face with a wet dishrag. Most of the time a real nice boy would come to our rescue.
in the winter at Reverie, after the crops were gathered, everyone’s cow ran out. That is, they were allowed to roam over the fields, eating on the cotton bolls that were left, along with the corn stalks and maybe a few corn nubbins that remained.
Some of the cows were mean and would fight. I remember one afternoon coming from school, some of the menfolk were driving a bunch of cows up the road to sell them. My brother-in-law came on ahead of the cows to tell us as we were coming home from school to get in his house which was right close to the road. Well, we all got in the house just before the cows got there and some of them went around the house and they were knocking into each other, and butting against the door, and we got so scared we got under the beds.
My Papa wouldn’t let me start to school when I was six years old like the other children did. he said I was too small and it was too far to walk. Mary Ellen started school that fall. She was six. Her birthday was in February and mine was in September.
I finally accepted not going to school that year. After all, Mary Ellen was older. But the next year when Cordie, who is ten months younger, got to start and I still didn’t get to go, I was heartbroken and disgraced.
When Papa said no, it usually stayed that way.
Anyway, after Mary Ellen had been going about two weeks, one Sunday when they were down for the usual visit, Mary Ellen said, “Oh, Gladys, I can sell stove pipe: S..T..O..V..E pipe-pipe-pipe.”
I didn’t question it. Instead, I told my brother Joe I could spell stove pipe and when I spelled it for him he went into a laughing seizure. It was no laughing matter to me, but to Joe and Henry anything that wasn’t a crying matter was a laughing matter. They never let up with their pranks and their teasing.
Happy School Days
Happy? Well, maybe. A least they were happy for me. Not so much for my brother Dub.
In the winter it was sometimes so cold and dreary, and three miles to walk to school. My Papa would say on those days, “It’s so cold you may stay here if you want to.”
I’d forget and say, “Oh, Papa, we can walk.”
Then I’d ask myself why I said that. Because I knew what would happen all the way to school. My brother Dub hated school. He stayed out at every opportunity he got. But Papa would tell him, “If she can go, you can go, too, Dub.”
Dub would whip me all the way to school and say, “If you’d kept your mouth shut we could have stayed home.”
if Cordie happened to be along I was spared some of the licks ’cause he’d run from one of us to the other, hitting us on the head with his books, blaming us for his fate. It seems I always fought Dub’s battles while we were going to school.
One afternoon Dub, Glover, Mary Ellen, Cordie and I came down the road from school. We girls kept puling Glover’s cap off and throwing it out into the grassburr patches.
Glover’d pick up his cap and put it back on his head until he finally got tired. He grabbed his pocket knife out of his pocket and Cordie, who really knew how to get gone when trouble was about to break out, lit out down the road like a suck in a whirlwind. As she went in the door at Sister’s, she was hollering, “Uncle Willie. Glover is going to cut Coot’s and Gladys’ guts out.”
Willie took off like Moody’s goose, but by the time he got there he knew what we were doing, so he gave us a good lecture and sent us on our way.
Like the old saying, with minor changes, “When the going got tough, Cordie got gone.”
The Mischief Makers Strike Again
One time Joe and Henry had spent the night with sister-in-law Minnie Belle while Les had gone to Memphis on business.
The next morning while they were down in the woods they saw a snake, and they knew at once what fun they could have with it. One of them stayed there to watch the snake while the other ran to the house to tell Minnie Belle to come quickly, and bring the pistol to shoot this big snake.
She grabbed the pistol and lit out. She shot at the snake, and they ran further into the woods to hide ’cause Papa was fishing just a short distance away on the river, and they knew what would happen the minute the first shot was fired.
Sure enough, true to form, here comes Papa tearing through the bush and vines. Well, when he saw she was only shooting at a snake he lambasted her like he would have his own ten-year-old daughter while the Little Rascals were laughing at her expense, hiding out behind a big tree nearby.
There was no end to their pranks. It never bothered them one little bit, the consequences to others. That just made the prank more fun.
Now take, for instance, the time they were going fishing with Papa when the backwater was out. Do you think for one minute they were thrilled and happy ’cause they were going fishing with Papa? Not on your life. I’ll bet what was running through their prank-playing minds was, “Oh, goody. We are going to get to pull something funny. Especially with the river out in the sloughs.”
They came to a ditch. It wasn’t wide but too deep to try to wade. So Papa found a log to put across it to walk over. After he got the log placed across the ditch he was going across first to test it, and make sure it was sturdy enough for the children not to break.
You probably think the Little Rascals were standing there like two lovable little boys, concerned that their Papa might fall into the water and get wet.
No, not these Little Rascals. They were standing there spellbound, hoping each step Papa took, testing, that his pole would break in two and he’d go into the water. And that’s exactly what Papa did.
While they were trying to pull Papa out of the water, in their hearts they were laughing their heads off. I could fill a book with their mischievous pranks. Here are a couple more.
One Sunday while Sister was down cooking our Sunday dinner, Mary Ellen and I decided to give each other a haircut. It was decided I’d cut Mary Ellen’s first, and it really didn’t look out of shape at all until just as I finished, who should walk up?
The island’s most popular instigator. With expressions on their faces of seeing disaster, they said, “Coot, she has ruined your hair.”
Coot came out of the chair like a scalded dog and I knew I had to hunt a hiding place. I tell you, I hid out until Coot had time to calm down and see for herself in the mirror that I had not messed up her hair. I knew what she would do to my hair at that moment, if she got the chance.
The island celebrated holidays like any other community, only on a smaller scale, but they were celebrated and most of the time enjoyed.
We had upsets and disagreements and even fist fights some times. However, if the party was at a respected home, most misunderstandings were smoothed out and forgotten.
One Fourth of July
I remember on Fourth of July when I was about ten years old. Minnie Belle and Les invited Papa up to their home for the day, but I wanted to go with Bill and family to the Moores to spend the day. For some reason Henry and Dub came along, too. I don’t remember what direction Thurman and Joe took.
Bump, a colored man who worked for Les, was freezing the ice cream. The old hand-crank freezer had a hole in the side of the wooden bucket where the water could run out. this, of course, caused a mud puddle.
Well, Henry and some of the other boys gathered around thought it would be fun to put ice down Bump’s neck. Bump let them have their fun for a while, and then he told them that the next one to put ice down his neck, he was going to put him in the mud puddle.
Of course, they didn’t listen. The next one, Bump picked up and stood upside down with the corner of his shoulder touching the mud. Who else was it but Henry?
When Bump stood him back on his feet, he was fighting mad. He said, “I’m going home to get my shotgun and I’ll be back.”
When he said that, I took off like a race horse up the road to get Papa. I ran every step of the two miles, and when I went in the door at Les’ house, Papa knew something was wrong. He only had time to say, “What’s the matter?”
I blurted out, “Henry is going to kill old Bump.”
Papa almost knocked me down, getting out of the door, and I ran all the way back in order to keep up with him. When we got back to the Moore’s, things had quieted down, but the day was ruined.
Things weren’t always that way, but sometimes it turned out with an upset, either because someone had too much to drink or because some teenager had to show off.
For instance, one night we had some kind of program at the school, and everything went along fine and things wee about over, and someone was making an announcement when an apple core went whizzing through the air, and hit Les in the eye. I know it hurt because you could hear the smack all over the room.
After letting it be known what he thought of that sort of behavior, Les went home, but Bill had too much to drink, and he kept saying, “Which way did it come from?”
Well, most everyone knew which way it came from, but they felt it best to let the matter pass, and everyone went on home.
Some Goings On in Reverie
We had quite a few colored people living on the island and among these was a likeable couple, Uncle Coon and Aunt Sal Jackson.
We children always had so much fun with Uncle Coon. I can’t remember now what he called us. Anyway, he and Aunt Sal rode a big reddish brown horse. They had one each, and we could see them coming a half mile away, and that would give us time to run and get lined up on this little bank on the side of the road opposite the old box elder tree.
Uncle Coon would start counting us and just laugh, and of course we’d think that was so funny.
Aunt Sal was a midwife. I was among the many babies that she had delivered.
My husband tells about one Fourth of July during one of the many times he visited with his sister and brother-in-law, Emma Sue and Doc Fanigan.
Uncle Coon asked Doc if Dallas could help him lay by a patch of corn. Doc said, yes. Of course Dallas wanted to join in the festivities of the Fourth, but Uncle Coon kept begging him and finally Dallas agreed.
Uncle Coon said, “I’ll sho’ pay you if it ain’t nothin’ but a dozen eggs when the hens go to layin’.”
Uncle Coon was a character. He and Aunt Sal were liked by all on the island.
Ida Doss Whitson was another colored woman that most everyone liked. She was a barrel of fun. She lived on Les’ place, and did the family wash for Minnie Belle.
One Monday morning – Minnie Belle always had the wash done on Monday and Papa called her a dude because only fancy folks did their wash on Mondays – Dorothy and I decided to see if we could break this man that worked on the place from using our outhouse. He had his own bunk house to stay in at night.
We were upstairs looking out the window, and we saw him when he went in the toilet. So we ran downstairs and outside where Doss was at the wash pot pushing the clothes down and stirring up the fire.
We said, “Doss, we want you to get even with Guy for playing pranks on you. He is in the toilet right now. you go and button the door, and prop it shut.”
She went right out there, and did just that, and came back to the wash pot, and was just grinning and punching the clothes.
Dorothy and I had gone back upstairs and were peeping out the window. In a few minutes we saw the door being pushed and finally the prop gave away and the door flew open.
But it wasn’t Guy who came out.
Doss ducked her head down, and ran around to the other side of the pot so her back was toward the toilet.
Dorothy and I were laughing our heads off, out of sight, when Mr. Johnson cam out the toilet door.
We were full of pranks and if you say you never were, then you’re dull as heck or telling a big one.
The Box Supper
The box supper served two purposes.
It was good, enjoyable entertainment, and a way to make money for the preacher. One preacher’s wife was real offended by this. She said, “It’s putting the preacher down with the beggar.”
I didn’t agree. I thought it was a great way for socializing. I can remember every box supper we had, but there was one in particular. I was passing the boxes to the auctioneer and my plan was to look at my boyfriend, C. H., when I brought my box out. Well, for some reason I looked at the wrong time, and he bought another girl’s box.
Coon hunting was a big sport for some, mainly the menfolk. I went a time or two, I guess I enjoyed most the barking of the dogs and the chase, trying to keep up with the dogs.
Now pecan hunting was something we children loved. For one reason, we could sell our pecans for spending money. Then we just liked seeing how many we could find.
I remember about 1935 our teacher Miss Woodbury, my nephew Guy and I went pecan hunting before school time one morning. We rode an old gray mule, all three of us on this one poor old mule. Can you imagine what that was like, loping up a hill? It was fun to us.
The next year, our teacher was Miss Mabel Billings, and like the year before, we went pecan hunting. Miss Mabel rode a big black horse, and Guy and I rode his Texas pony. On our way back from the pecan hunt we were eating pecans when Guy and I decided it would be fun to hit Miss Mabel’s horse on the rump with pecan hulls. It was fun for a few times, but the horse got to prancing so I was afraid he’d run away and she’d get hurt. So we stopped.
We went only a short distance when our pony stopped suddenly, and we went over her head into a Johnson grass patch about 20 feet over our heads. We cam on home without any more pranks.
We usually had some form of program at Halloween or Christmas at the school. The first play we ever had was put on by Miss Woodbury. The name of the play was “Mrs. Tubbs of Shantytown.” The cast included Gladys Byford, Wilson Moore, Linnie Smith, Evelyn Okane, Dorothy Byford, Paul Kesler, Guy Byford, Luther Kesler, Elizabeth Vaden, Henry Carr, Willie B. Godsey, Mary Lou Kesler, Frances Byford, Milton Smith and Mary Ellen Godsey. The play was a big success, and was enjoyed by all who attended.
Mr. Conway West was a schoolteacher many years before me. Other teachers at Reverie through the years were Miss Edith Desmond; Miss Lois Dubois; Miss Sadie Tennant; Mr. Maurice Harris; Miss Emma Sue Turner; Miss Minnie Belle Moore; Miss Flora Hart: Miss Georgia Cash; Mr. Johnny Richardson; Mr. Oliver Strandridge; Miss Mildred Woodbury; Miss Mabel Billings, Mr. Hindman and Mabel Taylor.
Just One of Our Chores
About every two or three weeks, Doots and I would give the store a good cleaning up. We would arrange all the canned goods, dust and move things around, and thoroughly sweep out.
As a reward for this good job we could choose whatever we wanted to eat. That is, within bounds of reason.
Less kept a real good assortment of candy in the store, as well as most everything else the island folk needed. But I’d say the candy assortment and display would rival a regular candy store today. It would be hard to choose what we wanted because, unless we chose a candy bar, all of which cost only five cents, or a pack of gum, we would have to choose something to be divided between us.
Sometimes we would choose Dime Brand milk or a can of prunes, but quite naturally our taste didn’t always run along the same desire. Things usually worked out all right, though. We usually got through the jobs we were assigned to do without too many differences.
The one thing that takes me back through the years to those times when we’d be on out terms with one another was this silly little game we’d play on each other.
When I’d go up the stairs I’d find one or two of my best dresses lying on the floor. I’d pick them up and hang them back behind the curtain which was our closet, and I would then take down two of Dorothy’s dresses and put them on the floor, and go back downstairs.
This usually went on until we’d get into a fight and Les or Minnie Belle would settle it, or maybe someone would come to see us and we’d give up the feud to visit with our friends.
These scenes have run through my mind so often through the years. It’s almost like a soap opera with yesterday’s scenes flashing back through my mind. I can see the curtained-off corner of the room and the dresses lying on the floor.
It brings a smile to my face as I think, “How much of a child we still are sometimes.”
There is one other thing Dorothy and I used to have spats about. I could never do anything with my hair but Dorothy would set it for me without too much coaxing. But sometimes she’d be in a mood of mischief. My hair would already be wet from washing, but she just must have a glass of water. Why? So she could stick the comb in it and bring it out of the water, and deliberately let the water run down my face and neck.
When she did that I’d come out of the chair bawling her out and she’d laugh and say, “Now, if you want me to fix your hair I have to use water.”
I’d sit down and the same thing all over again. Finally, Les would call out from the other room where he was reading the paper, and say, “Now, Sitter Sally, why don’t you do right and fix her hair?”
She would answer so innocently, “Daddy, I have to use water.”
So, I wanted a set, I had to get wet.
Ah, the days of Reverie!
Did She Ever Get to Alabama? I Don’t Know!
When we were children, Dorothy and I loved playing paper dolls. These dolls were not the kind the younger generation remembers, where you cut them out and they have clothes to put on. Ours were the kind you cut from the old Sears Roebuck catalogue.
At the end of the year when the catalogue was out of date and the new one came in we would cut out families from the old catalogue. Sometimes we’d have eight or ten families.
We had each family named. Sometimes they were named for families we knew on the island.
We would make cars for the families from match boxes, and chairs or beds or we’d cut out furniture if we could find pictures small enough to blend in with the people.
We would play for hours sometimes, or until Guy decided he wanted me to play with him. He would try begging me to go play with the stinky old goats, ride the pony or go hunting until, if I didn’t, he wouldn’t let us play in any peace. he’d blow the paper dolls away or grab some of them and run off.
When we’d take our families of paper dolls on a trip, Dorothy was always going to Alabama. Miss Minnie Belle and I would say, “Dorothy, we sure hope you make it to Alabama one of these days.”
Whether she ever went there or not, I do not know.
I do know one thing. That was how glad I was whenever Laurence Crook came to the island. Before Laurence, I had to go ride the goats, go fishing and hunting with Guy, when I’d really rather do something else. he would want me to go hunting and I was scared of guns to the point I would say every time I’d shoot, “Oh, Guy, do you suppose I shot someone?”
He’d only fall down laughing and say, “Silly, you shot up toward the top of the tree.”
County Superintendent Journeys to Reverie School
I started to school in August of 1929. So those who were permitted to start when they were six years old were ready for the third grade. Some of these I caught up with. Some dropped out. One girl got married in the fourth grade.
When time came for graduating from the eighth grade, I was the only one left. I guess you could say the eighth grade graduated 100 percent that year.
I well remember that May morning when County School Superintendent Mr. W. G. McClanahan came to Reverie to present me with my eighth grade diploma.
It was May 14, 1937, and my teacher and principal was Miss Mabel Billings from Atoka, Tennessee.
I felt so proud.
On Saturday morning several of us girls decided to pick some cotton for some extra change. I felt real please that day because a young man I liked came along and helped me out a good bit. he was a real good cotton picker. The other girls were jealous to the point of being almost angry, but that was my good fortune – until Saturday might at the supper table.
Just before time to leave for church, with Brother Lovett at the table, Les looked up and said, “Now, girls, of course you all will want to give your cotton picking money to the preacher.”
Of course, you know who had the most money to give to the preacher. Me. Boy! Were we let down.
One night during this revival, the preacher, Brother Lovett and the visiting evangelist and his family went home with Ellie to spend the night. I went along also to be with the girls. Bill didn’t go to church that night so James Walker, whose folds worked on the farm for Bill, drove the team.
During the course of conversation, Brother Lovett brought up the subject of horses, and it just so happened Bill had bought a mare a few days before, and she was one of the team pulling the wagon. Brother Lovett asked Ellie how she was working out, and Each time he would ask, Ellie would try to say, “She’s working out just fine.” But James would say something like, “She isn’t worth a dime. She couldn’t pull that hat off your head.”
Ellie kept punching me in the ribs with her elbow like she thought I could do something, but the only thing I could do was keep trying to change the subject, like saying, “Oh, look, everyone, at the falling star. Just be glad it’s dark so you can’t see the red faces.”
Our entertainment in Reverie was usually on the weekend, especially during the school months. So we made up our own during the week. While we were doing the dishes, we’d sing.
Our quartet sounded pretty good, too. Miss Mabel, Shorty, Dorothy and I would sing while we did the dishes. That made the work go quickly and it was fun.
Then we’d get on our lessons. I would usually perch on a stepladder in front of the window where I could see down the road. I was getting my lessons while casting an eye out the window to see if the one and only truck on the island at that time was coming down the levy road.
there were two boys that lived over there that I liked. If the truck turned down the road my spirits would fall. if the lights turned up the road my spirits would soar. Of course, it could be someone else from the farm coming to the store.
One of the beautiful sights of those days, for a farm girl, was just about sundown when the farm hands would come in from the fields. They would come up the road in a long line, eight teams of pretty, round, fat mules. We’d sit on the front porch as they passed by.
I have wished many times I had a camera so I could have made the wonderful pictures that stand out so vividly in my memory today. I still remember the names of most of the teams. There was Buck and Button, the mules the ladies rode home form the gin. there was Babe and Sally. Fox and Satin.
Then came the old lug wheel tractor. Among the fist to get a tractor were my brother Les, Mr. Cash and Doc Flanigan. The tractor was going 24 hours a day. While one driver was sleeping, another would be on the tractor. Even to this day the smell of distillate brings back a real sense of nostalgia.
We had church only twice a month. Saturday night and Sunday morning, the last of the month. Sunday school was not very regular. in my years in Reverie I can remember only two pastors, Reverend Calhoun and Reverend W. K. Lovett. Brother Calhoun was on the island during the early 1930s. He was a very dear friend of Papa’s. when Papa wasn’t sure if what he was going to do was all right in God’s sight he would ask Brother Calhoun. He visited in our home many times and Papa valued his friendship and advice.
After Brother Calhoun, Brother Lovett was on the charge which was Hopewell, Randolph and Reverie. The Quarterly Conference used to meet some of the time in Reverie. I remember one time when it was in Reverie and I made two butterscotch pies. I was fourteen and the day was June 14th, 1936. I remember so well because something very special happened that day.
When Brother Lovett came to the island, Papa had died and I was making my home with my brother, Less. The preacher would cross the river at Richardson’s Landing to the island where he would spend the night with either the Flanigans, the Les Byfords or the Horace Cash family. It was during Brother Lovett’s time with us that I remember so many memorable occasions, like during the revival.
In 1935 our evangelist was a short, jolly little gentleman with a heart full of love. The Lord really blessed us when he sent Brother J. J. Owen from Kentucky to Reverie in October of that year. Brother Owen’s wife and daughter Martha Jane and a gentleman named Mr. Edwards came along to lead the singing.
Brother Owen had a 1934 black Chevrolet. Of course, in those days they had the old running boards. He would go down the road to visit and the car would be full and two or three on each side on the running board, and another two or three on each side of the hood. Oh, what a happy, wonderful time that was. We would ride all over the island.
My first date was during the first year that Brother Owen came to the island. I remember it was a Saturday night and I had on a two-piece, navy blue dress with a plaid scarf. I was only 14, but I was allowed to walk to church with this boy. We just lived a short distance from the church and the boy was a visitor in our home. he was a brother of the school teacher who was boarding with us.
Brother Owen used to demonstrate in his sermons. I remember the year after Cordie married, 1938, he had gone to her before the services started and asked if he might use her baby daughter, Martha Jane, who was about six weeks old, to stress a point. She gave her consent, unknown to the rest of the congregation. When he grabbed the baby and ran out the door, everyone’s mouth flew open, and I do believe we all thought he was kidnapping the baby. His demonstrations were anything from touching scenes to surprising and just plain hilarious.
Brother Lovett said that once, during a demonstration at one of his revivals, he grabbed up a cane bottom chair, and with it on his shoulder he jumped upon a bench and went running down it.
He didn’t know there was about a two-foot gap between the benches, and he fell between them. He said, “Brother Owen lay there several minutes, and he thought he really had hurt himself.”
Brother Owen came about three years in a row to hold revivals. I believe it was the second year he was there. It was during a prayer session and Mrs. Owen was leading in prayer.
H. P. III was just beginning to walk. About midway through her prayer, he walked over and stuck a handkerchief in her mouth. Naturally some people were unable to stifle a laugh.
Several of us were presented with a small black testament by Brother Owen for memorizing scripture during the revival of 1935. It was also during this revival, on October 12, that I joined the church and was baptized in the Mississippi River.
While on the subject of funny things happened in, around, or during church, my sister Dixie told me about how hard it was to get someone who would play the piano for services on the island.
She said, “One Sunday morning on the way to church, just a short distance before we got there, we heard someone playing the piano. It was summertime. It sounded so pretty. We were surprised and anxious to see who the visitor was.
It was no visitor. It was Miss Cathryn as everyone called her. We were still shocked beyond words and finally I said, “Miss Cathryn, why didn’t you tell us you could play the piano like that?”
She said, “You never asked me.”
I suppose it was in the late 1930s or early 1940s that the Methodist Church began to decline. I’m not sure what year the island people decided to start a new church but someone – I think it was my brother, Thurman – opted to build a non-denominational church, one to suit the needs of all the people or that any evangelist would feel comfortable to hold services in. However, this didn’t seem to suit the majority, so they settled for a Nazarene Church.
The Pranks at Box Suppers
As I mentioned, the box suppers were lots of fun, and the proceeds were a big help in the preacher’s salary. But the joking boys liked it because they always got to fool a jealous husband or a boyfriend.
They would start out bidding on a box and after they got it up to a certain price, they quit bidding and the boyfriend or husband would wind up with someone else’s box, and not enough money left to buy the box they were supposed to buy. that would leave the field wide open for the prankers to get the wife’s or the girlfriend’s box.
I wrote earlier about the last box supper event I attended on the island. They were one of my favorite entertainments.
The first one I attended was on October 29, 1931. My sister told me if I’d bring a chicken and some eggs she’d fix my box for that night.
Well, it just so happened that I had set my white banty hen on six big eggs and she had hatched and raised all six. They were nice size fryers by that time.
So I caught one of my chickens earlier and had it in the fattening coop, and that Saturday morning Ruby Sides rode Ole Dolly up the road, as she did most every Saturday, going to the store. I could tell when she was coming. Ole Dolly, a mare belonging to Mr. Bill Fraley, had been wind-broken, and you could hear her coming for half a mile away, heaving and wheezing. Most everyone on the island knew Ole Dolly.
Miss Emma Sue used to ride Ole Dolly to school. I don’t remember if she lived on the foot at this time or if she was living at the Old Starnes place.
Everything went fine. Sister fixed our boxes as well as one for herself. But “Mr. Right” never did buy my box.
I wanted B. C., a newcomer to the island, to buy my box. All the girls liked him a lot. It didn’t turn out that way although brother Les bought mine as well as several others, and B. C. bought Minnie Belle’s box.
The next box supper, Georgia was teaching school, and she promised to see that B. L., another newcomer from Alabama, would buy my box. But he was out-bid and he ended up buying Georgia’s box. Somewhere along the way, it looks like my luck would have changed but just keep reading.
The third time was not a charm.
There was another newcomer to the island from Memphis, C. T. A. Nadine was going to make sure he bought my box. But, no, a man old enough to be my grandpa – although he was real nice – bought my box.
Now just how unlucky can you be? I already wrote about the fourth box supper. But that was not the end of it.
After I went to Munford to start in high school we had a box supper, and I was sure this real cute boy, T. M., would buy my box. Not so. Another old man, W. E., bought it, and they teased me something fierce about it. He used to come to the island during quarterly conferences and help in singing.
Talk about “luck”. Maybe I never kept that chair handy – you know, the Jewish proverb that says, “When luck enters, give him a seat.”
The First Day of May
We were told if we took a mirror and leaned back and looked down in a well, we’d see the person we were going to marry.
It happened around noon on the first day of May in about 1935. Ila may Walker and I took our mirrors and walked about three miles down the hot, dusty road to our old home place and looked down in the well. At the time, we just knew we saw two special boys. Today, I know all we saw was water. But it took a long time to get those old myths and superstitions out of my head.
I must tell this ghost story because my brother Les and his wife Minnie Belle got quite a laugh from it.
People bought sugar in hundred-pound sacks in the 1930s. There were a number of uses for sacks after they were laundered.
There was a boy in his teens that drowned, and he had a jacket made from some of the sugar sacks, and he wore it real often. His folks lived in the old church house at the time of his death, but moved out sometime afterwards.
My brother Les was a big hand for playing pranks or jokes on people. SO one night he decided to have some fun with a ghost prank. He and Miss Min were in on it together. her part was to take a pillow slip from the bed, and go over to the old church house. At the proper time they would wave it in the window so it would look like someone standing in the window.
Les gave her time to get stationed, then he told Guy and me he’d give us a dollar each if we’d go over to the school house and say, “Rings on my fingers, bells on my toes, rise up, dead man, catch me by the nose.”
It was real dark and we sneaked the flashlight and went on our way. Everything went fine over there, but when we got about halfway back we looked up and saw this white jacket in the window. Then is when the fun started. Instead of going straight to the gate, we headed for the corner fence which was closer to the house. We had to go under the fence which was about 18 inches from the ground. Well, by that time Guy had a firm grip on me and wouldn’t let go. How I went under that low fence with him holding onto me without getting cut to pieces, I’ll never know.
Les met us at the door, and we were so scared by the time, we forgot to try to hide the flashlight. Bu the time he got through laughing and Miss Minnie showed up, I knew it was all planned, because she couldn’t keep a straight face. Then I remembered the pillow slips she had made from the sugar sacks.
We didn’t even get our money, after all we went through.
Les loved playing jokes on people, but in all fairness I must say he couldn’t take one very well. One time, the first day of April, he put a colored boy that was working for him on a horse, and sent him down to Mr. Cash’s to borrow his “molasses stretcher.”
The days at Reverie were lots of fun. Maybe it was not so much the pace as it was the days of our childhood.
“Backward, turn backward, O, Time, in your flight
Make me a child again just for tonight.”
River Boat Burns, Causing Frightening Experience
I wrote earlier about the island’s baseball team. Well, I forgot the island had two baseball teams – the Foot Team and the Head Team – until Marie Cash wrote me about how she and Phelan took the Wilson, Arkansas, team back home after they played one of the island teams.
On the way back across the river from Wilson, the backwater was out and Phelan had to slow the boat down to leave the main river and enter the slough. The boat had an airplane motor and when he slowed down a spark from the carburetor started a blaze. Phelan threw his coat over it and the fire flew all over the bottom of the boat.
Marie was in the back of the boat and Phelan was up front. he told Marie to ease off into the water, even though she couldn’t swim, and hold onto him. They made it to a tree where they held onto a limb and began calling for help.
It just so happened that a friend, Mr. Warhurst, from Wilson, came out to go home from the island and, through “That power which erring men call chance,” he heard their calls for help and hurried to their rescue in his row boat.
Marie said later, “Boy, were we happy to see that boat coming.”
Phelan lost no more time having a fire extinguisher installed.
The daughter and son of one of Reverie’s more prominent families went to Memphis to finish high school and then college while living with relatives. Georgia came back to the island and taught several years. Even though she was my teacher I am glad to say she was a very dear friend, also. The son taught school for a few years, elsewhere, before becoming an attorney.
One of Georgia’s friends she met while in Memphis was a Miss Rivers Harris who later became one of my sisters-in-law. Rivers became a good friend, as well. My oldest niece, Mary Ellen, was a friend, also, and the three of us went about together when Rivers had the time.
One of these occasions was when Mary Ellen and I went with Rivers out to the Cash landing to meet Henry. On Saturdays the menfolk usually went to Wilson or Osceola to get the weekly supply of groceries. While we were waiting, we started laughing, singing and hollering – forgetting that hollering was the usual means of getting the ferry to come over and take you across the river.
We remembered quickly enough, though, when we saw Daisy coming across the river. We knew we were in for a few choice words, not the kind you’d hear in a Sunday School class either. We tried hiding behind the wagon wheels, but that didn’t stop her from telling us off. We tried to say we were sorry, but she wasn’t listening, just telling. Of course, we knew better, but we just didn’t think. Boy, what wonderful days – although not necessarily that one.
I mentioned earlier how most of the menfolk liked hunting. Some of them liked coon hunting and some liked hunting mink. They usually went across the river to Brighton or Covington to buy a hunting dog.
Brother-in-law Willie bought a mink dog. Her name was Dinah. One afternoon after school, Coot and I were babysitting, and we decided to add some extra entertainment to the job. So we took the baby, Betty Jean, old Dinah and a shovel and headed for the woods.
Around five o’clock, old Dinah treed. One of us grabbed the baby and one of us took the shovel, and the race was on. Dinah would dig a while and then we’d dig. We were about ready to give it up when cousin Jim Byford came by from the field and we persuaded him to help us. In a short time we got the mink. I grabbed the mink, stink and all, in one hand and the shovel in the other while Coot took Betty Jean and up through the field I want, hollering every step, MINK, MINK, or that’s what Mr. George Standridge told on me. Willie was not too pleased with us ’cause he wanted to go hunting that night but old Dinah was too tired.
I never really thought the island was dull when I was growing up there, and I still feel that growing up there was a wonderful experience. Of course, I realize in order to finish an education it was necessary to leave the island or make arrangements to commute or stay with some one off the island.
There were two statements made about the island that ran pretty well true: If you ever took a drink of the good, cold well water, you’d be back. Very few young ladies that came to the island for a while got away without getting a husband.
I am sorry I don’t have a spicy, romantic story about the usual infamous riverboat gambler to tell. Maybe there was one, but I just never knew it.
There was, however, an unusual little story about the stream “calliope” and “Gabriel’s trumpet.” It was told that one morning a steamboat came down the river with a steam calliope playing music, and when a certain lady heard it she was so frightened she grabbed her baby son out of bed,, and ran to the field were her husband was working and told him, “The world is coming to an end ’cause I heard Gabriel blowing his trumpet.”
Back in the early 1930s in Reverie the horse and buggy days were past and the cars, for the few who cold afford them, were kept either in Wilson or at Richardson’s Landing. Very few people had horses to ride, so most of us walked wherever we went.
One Sunday afternoon three young ladies, Margaret, Louise and Ila, walked to the head of the island and threw bottles with their names and addresses in them into the river.
Some months later Ila had a letter from a young man from Wynne, Arkansas, who was working on a boat on the river. They corresponded for a while, but by that time Ila had already met the “love of her life” and he asked her not to write the other boy anymore, so that was that.
After George and Ila were married, they went to Vandale, Arkansas, to live. One day George came home and told Ila they were going to have some new neighbors.
Ila said, “Oh, who?”
George said, “Carl —.” It was the boy who had found her name and address in the bottle floating in the river.
Truth really does seem to be stranger than fiction sometimes.
Old Pot and Easter’s Stroll up the Road
One time when Georgia was teaching school on the island two old cows belonging to Mr. Tom Wilson got out and were coming up the road. they reminded me of two old ladies taking a walk or maybe going to church. They were just walking along like they were enjoying it. Honestly! All they needed to complete the picture was a purse around their necks.
Well, everyone knew old Pot and Easter and their reputation, if cows can be said to have such, and it certainly didn’t fit the picture of them walking up the road. Willard Carr saw them first and he jumped up and said, giving the impression of mopping sweat from his brow, “Ole Pot and Easter’s out and we gotta’ go get ’em up.”
Willard made a dash for the door and the whole school jumped up to follow.
I really don’t remember how Georgia got things under control but she did.
I know the first year was really hard for her and us, too. We all, or most of us, had known Georgia long before she taught school. Naturally, most of the older ones especially, thought they shouldn’t be disciplined by the “Home Town Girl.”
OOPS! It’s Out of the Bag
During the flood of 1937, a young lady was going to catch the bus in Wilson to go back home until the water went down. That morning in January her boyfriend was waiting with her for the bus.
When it was time for her to get on the bus Mr. X picked up her suitcase and it fell open, spilling everything. The unmentionables clear down to what my husband used to call “stove wood.”
Washing Away the Stars
One night after supper while we were still staying in the schoolhouse after the 1937 flood, Dorothy and I tried for thirty minutes to persuade Mr. John Cash to let us show him a new trick we had learned. He finally gave in and we got the coat sleeve over his eyes, and while Dorothy was holding the coat I ran to get the water to pour down the sleeve.
I didn’t get back in time and guess who spoiled the trick? That’s right, Guy!
He hit Mr. John in the nose. Mr. John threw the jacket down and he was really upset. We apologized and spent another thirty minutes convincing him that wasn’t the trick, and it wouldn’t happen again.
He finally agreed, and we proceeded with the trick. When the water hit his eyes he flung the jacket across the floor, jumped up and said, “Be damned. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen stars and had them washed away.”
He went on to his sleeping quarters after that.
A Beating By My Best Friend!
One time Dorothy and I paid a visit to Marie, and while we were there Phelan came in and asked, “Would you like to ride down in the field to the Cash and Younger place?”
We said we would and got ready to go. Phelan, Dorothy and H. P. were going to ride old Nina, a beautiful mare William owned, and Marie and I would ride old Hattie, a black mule.
We started out, and in no time Nina was pacing off, leaving us behind. Marie decided we wouldn’t be left behind, so she had a stick about 18 inches long, and about three inches around and it was green! She started beating that stick on what she thought was old Hattie’s rump, but it was my leg, and my mouth flew open, but I couldn’t make a sound. She beat my leg good before she realized it was not Hattie’s rump.
She said, “Why didn’t you say something?”
I said, “I couldn’t. You were beating so hard and fast the words wouldn’t come out.”
All I can say after all these years is, “Marie, are you sure you didn’t know that was my leg?”
To Reverend Maynard Hammond
My pastor asked me if I was writing a “mushy” story in this book about my husband and me during our courtship. I said, “No.” He said to my oldest daughter, Shelby, who was typing on the manuscript, “Why don’t you change it into something really mushy?”
She said, “No, I’m not changing a thing.”
Well, preacher, this little story is as mushy as it’s going to get:
One Sunday afternoon Mary Ellen, Willie B., Dorothy, Guy and I went to the boat landing on the head to meet the teacher. She had spent the weekend visiting her folks in Munford. When she got in the wagon, Dallas was up there, too, and he decided to ride back down the road with us.
We were near the back of the wagon and Miss Mildred was up near the front. We were jostling along, everyone talking and laughing, when “Mr. Aggravation” said something, and I turned around and he kissed me right on the mouth for everyone to see, and Miss Mildred saw it, too.
I was terrified! I knw if they told Les, I was in for at least a good lambasting right before everyone. I was almost sick with worry all week, but I guess everyone kept their mouth shut ’cause I never heard a peep out of Les.
That’s it, preacher.
A Special Friend
This friend knew me all my life, and I knew him ever since I was old enough to know anyone. I’ll just call him Jec. Although, I am sure he wouldn’t mind me telling his “love story,” I’d rather not make it too plain.
I won’t tell what his job was or how our friendship came about. I will say he was a whiz with figures. He could add a line of figures just by looking at them, before you could get your pencil in a writing position.
He was easy to talk with, and I really enjoyed our conversations. I sometimes wondered what it might have been like if he had been 35 years younger. That would be another story, though.
I always had the feeling, as we talked, that he had been deeply hurt in his love life. So he told me this story:
Jec and Miss Special were very much in love, but Jec’s folks felt he should continue his education and, quite frankly, they really didn’t want Jec to marry this girl. Even though they were much in love, but some of us remember that love doesn’t always work out.
Jec went off to school and his visits home became few and far in between. So Miss Special met and started seeing an older man, and married him. Jec found out she had not received his letters so he understood why she married someone else.
He said, “Gladys, the first time I came home after the marriage, the husband said, ‘Go down to see her, Jec. I know you love her.'”
These visits soon started unhappiness in the marriage so, loving her as Jec did, he stopped going to visit.
It wasn’t hard to see how very much Jec loved this lady, because even then, so many years later, he seemed to drift back into another world with a twinkle in his eyes, and a pleasant smile, as he told the story so lovingly.
He had another time in his life when it was not so unhappy.
He used to laugh and tell me about going with two girls at the same time. One was the daughter of a minister.
He said, “When I would go to see the minister’s daughter, I would part my hair in the middle, and when I would go to see the other young lady I would part my hair on the side.”
One night he forgot to change his hair from the middle to the side, and the young lady said, “You’ve been to see the minister’s daughter.”
He laughed big over that one.
Jec was a handsome devil – on the side or in the middle.
The Snowball Show
The show was put on at the school in Reverie. The characters were: Mr. and Mrs. Snowball Blaylock; Frank Johnson; John Duidano; Lloyd Leveritt; Gladys and Dorothy Byford, and Mabel Billings.
Those who attended the show said it was the best show they had ever seen for a dime.
Miss Billings was the teacher then, in the autumn of 1937.
This was the last entertainment I took part in at Reverie.
The Many Island Visitors
Visitors to the island during the years who I remember are Addie and Mary Pouncey and Lorene Beavers from Quito,, Tennessee, during the Quarterly Conference. Marjorie George – Hopewell; Will Easley – Hopewell. From Memphis: Juanita Bracket, a granddaughter of Mr. Dobe Taylor. A Miss Lyles, a friend of Flora Hart; Jimmy McLoy, also a friend of Miss Hart. The Lancaster sisters from Wilson, Arkansas.
Visitors of Mildred Woodbury
Ellen Elizabeth Woodbury, a cousin from Memphis; Marie Woodbury, a cousin from Memphis; Harry Woodbury Jr., brother from Munford, Tennessee; Mattie Woodbury, mother from Munford; Louise Witherington, a cousin from Paris, Tennessee, and Dewitt Vorus, a friend from Memphis.
Visitors of the Turners and Flanigans
Cathryn Campbell, Munford, Tennessee; Jack and Frances Wakefield and sons Hobson and Gordon; Quitman and Bertha Perkins and daughter Patricia from Belden, Mississippi; Robert and Thelma Turner and children Billy, Joyce Ann and Joe from Memphis.
Visitors of the L. G. Byford, Sr. Family
Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Moore and Robert Moore from Wynne, Arkansas; Wilson and Anna Lee Whitaker and daughter Kathleen from Wynne, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee; Mr. and Mrs. Ralph from Halls, Tennessee; Linnie, a cousin of Minnie Belle’s; Landon Yarbrough and son from Covington, Tennessee; Mr. Jimmy Peeler and Miss Floy Peeler from Covington; Solon Beaver from Atoka, Tennessee; Ms. Gertrude Burns, a boarder from a few months, while her husband was working on the river, from Dyersburg, Tennessee.
Visitors On The Island For One Reason Or Another
Mrs. Dee Ellis and son Eli Ellis, from Munford, Tennessee; Mrs. Vivian Johnson from Drummonds, Tennessee; Miss Vivian Heidt, a county health nurse from Covington; Miss Ivy Drake a county home demonstration agent from Covington; George R. Ellis and Cato Ellis from Munford; Hildred Gray from Brighton, Tennessee; Mr. Cox from Somerville; Mr. Acey Moore from Richardson’s Landing; Carol Floyd from Arkansas; Orville Hampton from Wynne, Arkansas; Mrs. Prentice and son Henry, mother and brother of Arby C. Prentice; also in the back of my mind seems like I recall another brother, Fred, maybe or maybe not. Also a Mr. Ulhorn from Shelby County, Tennessee.
Visitors of Gladys Byford
From Grayridge, Missouri, were Grandmother Lucy Mayberry, Uncle Alfred Mayberry and wife Aunt Flora and children Virginia and Harold. Also great aunt Mary Early. From Tampa, Florida, great aunt Frances Green, and a friend, Wylodine Glidewell from Munford.
J. F. “Bubba” Mullins from Wilson, Arkansas, who married Mabel Billings, a school teacher on the island from Atoka, Tennessee. Ellis “Froggie” Ringer from Wilson; Nadine Cash’s father and stepmother, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Green from Bemis, Tennessee, and Nadine’s mother and stepfather, Mr. and Mrs. Lee Hampton of Wynne, Arkansas.
Other Visitors in the Les Byford Home
Mr. and Mrs. Oglesby. He made harnesses and carts. He made a set of harnesses for Guy and a goat cart. He made several visits to the island. There were a number of men who came to the island to work. I couldn’t begin to name all but I will mention the ones I remember.
Jimmy Ellison who worked for Doc Flanigan and later for brother Les Byford. Arthur “Slim” King who worked for Les. Bill Bailey worked for Les. Bill Petty worked for Papa (W. B. Byford). J. C. Petty worked for Bill Byford. Dal and Leck Martin worked for Bill Byford. Moten Cash worked on the foot or maybe visited. Frank Johnson worked for Les. John Guidano worked for Bill Byford. Carl Harchfield worked for Thurman Byford. Willard Scott from Campground Community, Tennessee, worked for a few days for Bill Byford. He stayed about as long as John stayed in the Army Ha! I told him he was just an old Tender Foot. He didn’t like the plumbing and fixtures in the toilet. The only thing he saw fit to look at was teh Sears & Roebuck catalogue. he thought that was the reason it was there.
Visitors in the Home of Henry and Rivers Byford
Rivers’ mother and daddy, Mr. and Mrs. Grady Harris of Memphis; Rivers’ sister, Frances Harris Bachelier, Tucson, Arizona. Her cousin, Jeanne Vaiden Leminy; Uncle Jess Vaiden and Aunt Gladys Vaiden. Skippy Wilson from Wilson, Arkansas, a friend of Guy Byford.
Do any of you remember Steven “Tiger” Chadwick? Well, that’s because he never was on the island. He wouldn’t have made a good pioneer, either. He doesn’t like to eat wild game, especially coon.
Landowners Who Did Not Live on the Island
Dock and Donaldson
Dr. N. B. Ellis
Mr. H. H. Harnal
Mr. Kinny (or McKinny)
Mr. Younger (of the Cash and Younger place)
I’m sure there are others I don’t remember. Those who did live on the island were the Byfords; Carrs; Cashes; Godseys; Chiles; Pennels; Neals; Hamiltons; Pushes; Smiths; Turners and Tom Wilson.
The Little Churn and the Stetson Hat
I was living at Wilson, Arkansas, when I married Dallas Turner form Willie Town, Tennessee.
We lived there from August of 1938 until February of 1939. We then moved back to the island where my husband, with the help of his papa, built a nice little three-room house about where Floyd Godsey’s home is now. That was on my share of the old home place.
One day during the summer, Dallas, Emery and Thurman went to Wilson to get some hay. Dallas only went along to help. While over in one of the stores Dallas bought a small churn.
On the way back across the river a slight storm came up, and the wind blew Emery’s Stetson hat off and into the river. He quickly grabbed a long pole on the barge and tried to retrieve the hat but to no avail. He turned around on his heels, snapped his fingers and said, “Twenty dollars gone to —-.”
Dallas was still holding onto his 75-cent churn. Dallas said every little bit Emery would look at him and shake his head as if to say, “Why couldn’t it have been that darn little churn?”
Incidentally, we still have that little churn.
Twenty Dollars a Pound Salt Pork
There were happy times, hard times and trying times. Like the time my husband went to Wilson with several others. He had a twenty dollar bill and that was a lot of greenbacks for po’ folks so soon after the depression years.
He was gone all day and came home with a pound of salt pork and not a penny of money. And you think food is high today?
Of course, he couldn’t hit the ground with his hat, and I know most of you know what that expression means.
After J. D. and I moved back to the island to farm we had a good little team of mules, although they were flighty and exciteable [sic]. So with J. D.’s temper it made good ammunition for a happening, and believe me there were a few.
Like the morning he was harnessing the team to go to the field, and I was in the chicken pen next to the barn, cracking corn for the chickens. I was using a smoothing iron and a hammer cracking one grain at a time.
My husband made the remark many times, “Po’ folks have po’ ways.”
That method of grinding corn certainly proved it.
Anyway, while getting the mules ready to hitch to the cultivator, things went all wrong,, and I looked up to see them backing into the chicken pen and the calf (we had a rope on him in halter fashion) tied to an old wagon wheel hub which he had not been able to pull but a few feet at a time before this, flying through the air. I was trying to get a toe hold in the chicken wire to climb out, but I didn’t make it. So we had to put things aside to go search for the calf. Quite a few people saw the calf, but they especially saw that wagon wheel hub flying through the air behind the calf.
A short time later a similar incident happened. J. D. had made a rig to cut cotton stalks. It was a triangular shape with crosscut saws.
Things went all wrong from the beginning. The mules just didn’t like the looks of the thing and they got nervous. Things went from bad to worse and they ran across the road straight for Sister’s garden, and she headed for the far end and tried to climb the fence but about that time J. D. got them under control.
There was a side show at least once a week with one family or another. It kept things from being boring.
Funny Bone Tickler
Shortly after J. D. and I married we went back to Reverie for an overnight visit with Sister Dixie and to attend a revival.
Brother Owen was the evangelist. I don’t recall the pastor at that time. Anyway, Cordie, my niece, and her husband Clyde Morgan, came with us to the island to hear Brother Owen once again.
The funny part of the story happened before services.
We all went to church in a wagon as that was the main source of travel.
Well, when we got to church a lady old enough to be our mother took Cordie by the hand to help her out of the wagon. As she did so she said, “Lord, Cordie May, you are breaking fast.”
Cordie was only sixteen at the time.
Well, no one every got more fun out of a good laugh or could laugh heartier, or longer, than Cordie and this remark really touched her funny bone.
She laughed so hard the tears ran down her cheeks, worse than peeling onions.
Ethel never know what the laugh was all about.
Mabel Taylor Goes to Teach on Island 35
Mabel went to Reverie in the summer of 1941 to teach 57 students in grades one through eight. She boarded, as many teachers in the past had done, with Mrs. Ora Cash. She immediately met and fell in love with the “love of her life,” Milton Smith. She described him as being a very good looking young man who seemed always to be wherever she was except at school.
Teaching so many children with so little experience, she soon made a decision to do something else with her life. So she and Milton were soon married. They lived in the house with Milton’s parents for almost a year before moving into C. B.’s house. Soon after the move, Milton was drafted.
That summer Mrs. Linnie Fee Taylor, Mable’s mother, along with niece Edith Shinault came to teach for a while after Mable quit.
The co-school superintendent was not pleased with Mable’s decision to quit, and vowed never again to send an unmarried woman to teach in Reverie. Mable was the seventh one to go there to teach but was soon wed.
I wrote earlier about the two statements one could safely say about Reverie. Well, the one where I said very few young ladies went to the island ever got away without a husband – doesn’t this prove it to be true?
Georgia and Nadine Cash were teaching on the island until their tragic death in January of 1949.
At this time Milton and Mable, with their four children, were living at Gainsville, Tennessee, but were persuaded to return to Reverie for Mable to be the principal of the two-teacher school. Mable’s sister, Mary Fee Morris, was the second teacher for several months. Later, Roland “Buzzy” Moore taught until called to service. A young lady from Clopton, Tennessee, came to finish his term.
Several couples taught there, including a minister and his wife, until finally – I suppose in the early 1950s – it was decided to send the children to school in Wilson, Arkansas.
The New Church
When I started writing this book, I didn’t know when the new church was built or where the site was. Now after I wrote what little I heard about it from my great niece Beulah Leveritt, I find I have a slight difference in stories.
So I shall add to what Beulah told me with what Mable Smith wrote about, and you can decide which story is correct or maybe it’s a little of both. Anyway, I am sure that will be the way with a lot of the book, but we must remember that none of us will ever see or hear or remember things the same way.
Beulah said, “Brother Hutchinson along with Brother Knight and Brother Picket were instrumental in getting the church started.”
The people on the island cut the logs and Mr. Tom Carr had a sawmill and sawed the lumber, and Mr. Cotton built the church (with help, of course). She said her Grandma Dixie, my sister, contributed by preparing meals for the workers.
She said, “The new Nazarine Church was built on the same site of the old Dixon Chapel Methodist Church.”
Mable Smith said, “The Nazarenes built a church on the island with the help of all the churches in Tipton County.”
I am only writing this as was given to me. They let it go to rack. I was not acquainted with the newcomers, but there was one minister, Brother Patton, and his wife, I met through my sister Dixie that I loved and respected through the years. The island was blessed through the presence of Brother and Mrs. Patton during the 1940s and early 1950s, as we earlier residents were blessed with Brother Owen and Brother Lovett.
One of Reverie’s most saddening, shocking tragedies happened Tuesday, January 18, 1949. Three members of the Cash family were drowned while crossing the old river chute. William, his wife Nadine, and his sister Georgia had attended a funeral of a friend from Reverie at Drummonds, Tennessee. On their way back home, while crossing the river, a storm cam up, and it is believed their boat overturned.
The body of Georgia was found the next afternoon on a towhead south of Wilson, Arkansas. The body of Nadine was found in May. William’s body was never found.
Georgia, you were such a true friend,
To mention all your fine qualities, I would
hardly know where to begin.
You chose a profession that suited you fine.
For what could be more rewarding than
training young minds.
You seemed always to radiate a glow,
Spreading joy and sunshine here below.
William, although you were Reverie’s own
“Happy Go Lucky Dare Devil” you had your own place, too.
And Reverie could have hardly done without you.
You were always willing and ready to lend a helping hand,
When the need arose for your fellow man.
Nadine, you came to Reverie and joined right in
And immediately became our friend.
Everyone knows you would never shirk a duty,
And who at Reverie could forget your beauty?
To the three of you –
Although your passing left us with such sorrow,
We hope to meet again some sweet tomorrow.
A Journey From the Foot to the Head
I never knew much about the foot of the island. I think I was down there about three times in all the years I lived there. It was different from the rest of the island. It was in a circle like a little village.
The Fraleys, Wisemans, Blackwoods, Deans, Boothes and a number of other families lived there in my time. Of course, there were lots of families who lived there before my time. Mr. Bill ran a store there in the late 1920s with a good line of stock, most anything.
The rest of the island was kind of strung out. After you left the extreme foot, the houses were in line like a half mile to maybe a mile apart until you got to the store levy, then the houses were pretty close. I guess they were mostly tenant houses. Then back across the levy on up the road, the houses were in line clear on to the head.
Most of the houses from the foot to the head were on the right side of the road, except across the levy, and the Smith house. One time when Sister and Willie lived in the old Webb house I stayed all night instead of coming home when they came in from the field like I usually did. (I stayed with Coot and Willie B. while Sister and Willie chopped or picked cotton, depending on the season.) The next morning Miss Betty, my stepmother, spanked me and, boy, all the family was upset about that.
I usually stayed all night at Sister’s whenever she said I could, and it was all right, even without asking Papa. I knew after my grown mu pears with children of my own, she was right. I needed to be spanked or at least made to understand I was to come home, or let it be known I was going to spend the night.
When Uncle Jack Leveritt lived on the island, Lloyd and Elmer had a bantam hen apiece. Lloyd’s was black and white speckled and Elmer’s was solid white. Elmer said he’s sell his for a quarter, but I didn’t have a quarter. They lived below the Webb House in a two-room house. Several other families lived there before them, and after.
One day our cook, who was sweet on Uncle Jack, said, “If you’ll go down there and exchange a mess of navy beans for a mess of pinto beans I’ll give you a quarter to buy the little hen.”
I went. Elmer caught the little hen and took the quarter, but when I got home with the beans and the banty Dub was so upset that Papa gave him a quarter to go try to buy Lloyd’s hen. But Lloyd wouldn’t sell the little hen. Anyway we had lots of fun with that little hen and I had her for many years.
Mr. and Mrs. Hamp Woods lived in the old Webb house when I was quite small. This was shortly after my mother died and Sister and her family came to stay with us. There was another family that lived there before Aunt Mildred and Uncle Will moved there but the name just won’t surface. It was either Laxton or Chapman. I really have taxed my memory to write this book.
I suppose during the time these other people were living at the Webb house, Aunt Mildred and uncle Will were living on the foot.
I know when they lived there at the Webb house, Bill and Ellie lived in the old high house and Sister and Willie had moved on up the road.
there were quite a few families to live in the old log house. We lived there one time. I think it was after we’d moved back to the island from out near Drummonds. I think while we were living there, Mr. Dennis and Ms. Bertha, Ellie’s mother and daddy, lived in our old home place.
The W. B. Byford home place, formerly the L. W. Hamilton home, was a lovely old home. I imagine even more so in the years before my time, and I can’t justly depict it now. It had three large bedrooms, a large dining room and a large kitchen, a nice lean-to, or side room, wehre the meat was hung, cured and stored. This was next to the kitchen.
A long hall ran through the center of the house, separating the sitting room, which could be used as an extra bedroom, and the bedrooms for the kitchen and dining room.
It had a nice sized back porch. It also had a long front porch the width of the house, and a little vestibule with doors opening into the two front rooms.
It was stripped on the outside. In other words, the planks went up and down. There was a seam, or a crack, where the planks were joined. Of course, this crack had to be covered, so a strip about eight inches wide was nailed over the crack.
The house used to be whitewashed which added to its beauty to the point of quaintness.
Now there are two old sayings: “Beauty is where you find it,” and “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.”
This is true. to me the setting for this old house was beautiful. Across the road was the pasture, a gentle and sloping hillside covered with Bermuda grass. Coming down the hillside and back up a slight incline to a lane were two stately cottonwood trees where the cows would come and get a cool drink of water and rest under the shade of the trees.
A large, white mulberry tree next to the well on the north side of the house, and on the east side stood a walnut tree which was back of the house. In front of the house, right beside the road to the south, was a box elder tree. To the north of the front yard was an elm.
The one detraction was the lack of a green lawn. People on the island didn’t have a grass lawn. They kept the yard scraped and swept clean.
I remember these scenes so vividly, especially in late summer and early autumn when things first started ripening. It brings to mind the poem, “Little Brown Hands.”
They drive home the cows from the pasture,
up through the long shady lane;
Where the quail whistle loudly in the wheat fields,
that are yellow with ripening grain.
This poem always expressed so much of nature and its natural beauty to me. I am so sorry I can’t recall the name of the author.
I remember so well as a child in the springtime, my Papa and brother Bill would buy their cotton seed for spring planting, and stack the sacks against the wall on the front porch. I would lie on the sacks for hours and that would become my “Reverie”.
A road ran through the Byford place, on through the woods to the back side of the island to the boat landing. In the early 1930s Bill had a house built not too far from the river. By this time, the old Starnes place had gone into the river. I don’t recall all the families that lived there. The Starnes, the W. B. Byfords, Dock and Emma Sue Flanigan, Jim and Ella Belle at one time or another.
The old Settles place (colored people) was somewhere toward the back of the island. Ann had milk cows and sold butter.
We children were afraid of the cows. They had sharp mean-looking horns. The would fight, too. About the middle of the 1930s there was another house built just inside the woods on the McKinney place. Bill Byford had this land rented and Miss Mollie Sides, her daughter Ruby and cousin Erskine lived there.
The old McCraw house was pretty and it had a fine old barn also. Bill and Ellie lived there at one time. At the time it burned it was a boarding house for colored people who worked for Les. I think it was in the 1920s.
Just behind the old McCraw house was a two-room house where Thurman and Margaret lived when they first married. Later they built a larger house just a short distance behind the old one.
About three quarters of a mile on back in the field was another house, two maybe three rooms. Sister and Willie lived there when Mary Ellen was small. John and Annie Preston (colored) lived there later. When Jim Walker’s family came to the island in 1932 they lived there.
Back to the main road, right on the side of the road just angling from the old McCraw house was a house with two small rooms. Willie and Charlie Hatfield and son Junior lived there. Then later, Leroy and Eunice Leveritt lived there.
On up the road about a mile was the old Cash and Younger place. It was another well-built and rather pretty old house and a nice barn.
Les and Minnie Belle were the first ones I remember to live there. Doyle and Katie Moore lived there and the Jim Walkers lived there, too. It was during the time the Walkers lived there, on the way home from school one afternoon, we went up to the barn and peeped through a crack where Mrs. Walker had her cow. Everything looked all right to me, just a cow in a stable. But Cordie rushed on to the house, all excited, and said, “Mrs. Walker, your cow is going to have a calf before sundown.”
We were all about eight or nine years old. So for that day and time, you can imagine the expression on Mrs. Walker’s face. Incidentally, the calf was born about dark.
Mr. Charley Fraley and the Blackwoods lived there for a while. This was before my Papa died.
A Ghostly Baby’s Cry
The next house was what we called the old cedar tree house. Papa’s stepmother planted the trees when they lived there back in the 1880s. Superstition said: “She died when the trees got big enough to shade her grave.” Papa and his first wife lived there also.
They were living there when he went up to the head of the island one afternoon. About dark, he left the head to come home. He said, “A short distance on down the road, I heard what sounded like a baby crying or a kitten mewing. Several times, along the way, I jumped to the edge of the fence to try to see what it was. I couldn’t see anything. But each time, the sound would stop.”
When he would start walking again, the crying would start up again. He came on down the road, Jumping to the side of the fence every so often. By that time the moon was bright as day. But each time, he could see nothing. When he got to the old Stewart place, it went around the house. When this happened, Papa started out running as hard as he could but he could hear it coming like the wind, trying to catch him.
By this time he was close enough to home to call his wife, and she ran out to see what was the matter. He said he could hear it coming but he was so exhausted he just fell on the porch. The thing came on to the corner of the fence where it cried until you couldn’t hear it any more.
I have heard of death tokens. Whether there is any truth in them or not, I surely don’t know, but the old folks with little education, many years ago, seemed to believe them. So who am I to say otherwise.
Anyway, Papa said their little baby died within a week.
Jim and Ella Belle lived there, a colored family. Red and Gracie lived there, and Gracie burned to death while living there. Mr. and Mrs. Will Carter lived there. They introduced the dance known as the “Toddle” to the island people.
The next house was where Miss Ag and her sons Albert, and his family, and Woodrow lived. Miss Ag, as she was called by everyone, was married to Mr. Will Push, Albert and Woodrow’s daddy. When he died, she married Mr. J. J. Stewart. I think he came to the island from Newbern, Tennessee. Anyway, after he got sick and Miss Ag’s health prevented her from being able to look after him properly (She had fallen off a horse and broken her hip.) Mr. Stewart’s daughter came to the island and took him back to Newbern to live with her. Miss Ag died several years later. Albert and his family continued to live at the old home place.
I don’t remember if Woodrow lived there a while after he married or not, but I seem to remember he and Geneive lived in a small house over in front of the main house for a time.
Anyway, before Woodrow married, my brother Bill and sister-in-law and their children would visit Miss Ag in the afternoon after the evening meal and the chores were finished. Of course I’d go with them. Miss Ag had an old Rhode Island red rooster that would fight. Woodrow delighted in grabbing us up and running out in the yard where the old rooster would jump and peck at us, scaring us into screaming fits, before he’s carry us back to the porch.
She also had an old cow that was as gentle as a lamb. She was a blue-gray muley named Cherry. Lots of mornings on our way to school we’d stop along the side of the road where Cherry would be standing, and each one of us would have to milk some.
Back from the road a distance above the house stood the old barn and behind the ban were two pear trees that were loaded with nice fruit, and usually the ground was covered.
One afternoon on our way home from school we decided to sneak out there and get a pear, but Albert was sitting on the fourth rung of a ladder they had by the tree for climbing up to get the pears. We decided to wait until he went to the house.
In the meantime Willie came along. So we decided we’d better head on home ’cause we knew that he knew what we were hanging around for. He gave us a little lecture about why it was wrong to take something without asking for it, and what could happen for doing so.
The next house was the old mound house. It got its name from the fact that the barn was built on a high mound so, in times of high water, the animals and the feed as well as the farm implements would be protected at least for a while longer.
I can’t recall who owned the place to begin with, but I can remember the night my brother Les came down to tell “Pa” (that was what he called our Papa) that he had bought the old mound place. He was like a little boy on Christmas morn with a special toy, and deservedly so because this was the first farm he had ever owned.
Between the mound place and the Wilson place was a new two-story house built in the 1930s, and my brother Henry and his wife Rivers lived there when they were first married.
The next old house was that of Mr. Tom and Miss Katie B. Wilson. Mr. Tom had a general store in the front part of the home. I can remember two big pecan trees stood on the side of the front yard, close to the road, and he would sell six or eight of these big pecans in a small bag for a nickel. Miss Katie had some rabbits she would sell. I remember there were several different colors.
I wanted one of those rabbits so very much but Papa said no and that was that. Willie used to laugh and tell how it took a caster bean seed that Miss Katie B. planted seven years to come up because she dug it up every day to see if it had sprouted.
On up the road, just a skip, hop and jump was the old Yarborough house which sat right on the ground. I can remember when Sister and Willie lived there. This was in the late 1920s to early 1930s, and we had lots of fun there. Willie had a pair of blind mules. Their names were Sam and Kate. Mary Ellen, or Coot, as she was called back then, and I would think up all kinds of excuses to get to ride Old Kate. One day we were riding her and making her run as fast as a blind mule could run, and Mr. Wilson told Willie. That ended our riding unless it was very necessary.
After the Yarborough place on up the road about a mile, we leave the main road and take a right onto a road leading on back to the old negro school house where Sister and Willie lived after it was no longer a school. This same road led on back into the woods about a mile, or maybe a mile and a half, to another house. I’m not sure who this land belonged to, possibly to the Cash family.
Anyway, there were a number of families to live there from time to time. Carry and John Euel, and maybe the Lawsons, but there was another house close by, and it may have been the one the Lawsons occupied.
The Keslers lived in the first house. I don’t remember anyone else who may have lived back there. I was back there maybe twice all the years I lived in Reverie.
I remember one night when we went coon hunting we stopped by Carry’s. Ben Lawson was staying with them at the time. Carry had a bird of some kind in a cage, and Ben kept trying to get the bird to talk.
I remember saying, “I wish that bird would peck you.”
We were kinda sweet on each other but he left Reverie and joined the C. C. camp, and never returned to Reverie except for a visit in the 1960s, someone told me after I moved to Henry, Tennessee.
Home Floated Away
Another house, a two-story one, built sometime in the 1930s was down the ridge or field from the old negro school house about a mile. I don’t know whose land this was on, but Les had it rented. I had forgotten the house until just today as I was rewriting the journey from the foot to the head.
I am about positive Mr. and Mrs. Walker and family lived there when the house was first built. I believe this house floated off its foundation during the 1937 flood and settled down on the lower end of the old mound place joining the Stewart place.
I don’t know how many families lived there later, but it seems in the far corners of my memory John Euel and Louise Doyle lived there at one time.
So you won’t be confused, we are coming back from the two-story house down in the field from the negro school house after tracing it to where it settled after the 1937 flood.
Now lets come back to the main road to a house just a few hundred yards below the road that took a left to where the Cash home was. This road was known as the Story Levy.
Besides the Cash home there were several other houses. They were tenant houses. There was one, a sort of green shotgun type. Doc and Emma Sue lived there once, and I believe Doyle and Katie Moore lived there also.
There were about three more on down the ridge from the gin. Marie and Phelan lived in a little white house there at one time. Leroy and Margie Rogers, a colored couple, lived in the next one and I believe the third and last one was high off the ground, and Melvin and Evie Kesler lived there once.
Seems like there was a road that came back to the main road in front of Mr. Tom Wilson’s place. William and Nadine lived in one of these three houses, the one at the end of the road where Melvin and Evie lived. There was before the old store house burned in July of 1935, I believe.
The new, more modern, home of the Cashes was built up on the ridge about a quarter of a mile. It was a very nice home built from lumber sawed from trees on the Cash place.
Now we come back across the levy to the house just below the levy road where Marie and Phelan first started housekeeping.
I remember the first time I went by to visit. The house had been fixed up so neat and nice especially for Reverie, and that day and age for young people. I was about nine. Of course, Marie was only 15 and a half. Georgia was there, too.
This brings to mind when I was getting ready to get married. I do believe my marriage plans caused more talk and upset than anyone else on the island. While I was lots older than most, and just the age for the usual marriage in Reverie, the way everyone was talking, you’d think I was just about 12 years old.
Anyway, to get back to the story, Phelan kept trying to get me to invite him to my wedding. I said, “You didn’t invite me to yours.” He said, “You were too young.” I said, “Well, now you are too old.”
Everyone hollered and laughed.
Marie told him, “I guess you’ll hush now.”
And he sure did.
I think Bill and Ellie lived in this house at one time. The Tom Carr family lived there in the 1930s.
Louella Redmond, colored, ran the colored boarding house there, and Slim Betts and his family lived there, also colored.
Back behind this house a ways, under two big cedar trees, stood a house that was off the ground about three feet or so. the only people I can remember to live in this house was Mr. and Mrs. August Faught. I believe that was the way they spelled it.
The only time I remember being in this house was at a party. It was a pound supper, and dance. The party was cut short because a storm came up, and everyone was trying to get home before the storm worsened, and the rain started.
Back to the main road again. I believe there was a new house built just above the levy road, going toward the head, and seems like Jeff Vaiden and family lived there. it’s too hazy, I can’t remember anything else about it.
The next house was a small, two-room house. I can’t begin to remember all those who lived there. Ella Bell, Willie (colored), and I think Mr. John Cash batched there at one time. Leroy and Margie Lee Rogers also lived there.
I keep thinking somewhere in my mind that Mr. Wes and Miss Lola Pearl Walker and small daughter Dorothy Belle lived there when they first moved to the island. Anyway, during the 1937 flood, the little house left the island. It floated out into the river and I never learned where it landed.
The next house was the usual “run of the mill” house for that day and time. Two big front rooms, a shed room for the kitchen and usually a small back porch. The front porch was the length of the house. Sister and Willie lived there when I was quite small. I believe this is where they moved to when they left the Webb house.
Uncle Coon and Aunt Sal Jackson lived there, so I was told. I don’t remember them living anywhere except on the foot.
Margie Lee and Leroy lived there I think when I first started to school.
I was full of mischief but I got the blame for some things I didn’t do. For instance, a girl told my brother Henry that I was cussing the bumble bees at school. I never thought of such, but Henry told Papa, and the only reason I didn’t get a good thrashing was because my Papa believed me instead of what the girl told Henry.
There was some little happenings all of the time. Anything from a switching for missing spelling words to the teacher Emma Sue accidentally being hit in the head when two boys were pulling on a geography book, and then both let go to Mr. Johnny R. falling over the banister to the ground with the school bell in his hand. Actually, the banister broke when he leaned over to see if everyone was in line.
I have thought a good bit on this little trick and that I possibly should leave it out but what the heck. Why not.
A little boy put a spelling book down the toilet hole!
Why? I don’t know. I do know the teacher kept us in for at least an hour after school before she found out who did it. Maybe the boy thought we didn’t need spellers, especially if we were going to complicate all the simple words like “laugh” and “lettuce” to “lauf” and “let-tuce.”
it’s time to leave the little red school house that wasn’t red.
The next building along the road was the old Dixon Chapel Church.
I have stretched my memory, trying to remember if I ever attended church in the old building or not. I guess I didn’t, but I wanted to be able to say I had, at least a few times.
Old Island Chapel Fell Into Neglect and Ruin
I think one of the saddest things the people of Reverie did was to neglect that church. They should have made every effort to keep it up.
Well, there’s nothing I can do about it now, but it brings tear drops to my eyes as I write this, knowing I grew up never going to church in Dixon Chapel Church, but to the school building instead.
The next building was the old Dock and Donaldson house. It was called the old Bill Wilson house when I was just a kid. That’s where Bill was living when he had measles and pneumonia, and died.
I believe Carry and John lived there at one time, but I don’t remember anyone else until Les and Minnie Belle and their children moved there about 1929.
Someone Burned Les’ Barn
that is where they were living when Papa died, and I went there to live with them. Les built the place up real nice. He had a big, nice barn built and nice fences and pastures. He had lots of mules, cows and hogs. He built five or six new tenant houses and had a nice little general store.
Someone hired a man to burn his barn for a measley $10.
I remember the night well. Dorothy and I spent the night with Sister. About two o’clock in the morning we heard the bell ringing. We all ran outdoors to see what was the matter, and Dorothy became hysterical. I believe they took us home because Dorothy was so upset.
Speaking of bell ringing, I could be anywhere and hear the bell ring and I could tell you if it was Les or someone else ringing the bell. There was no one who could make that bell sound like Les could. It was slow and right in rhythm with each stroke.
there was one other that came close. I think it might have been one of the colored hands, or Mr. Dobe Taylor. I remember one colored man that worked for Les while I was living there, named Wesley “Shorty” Pearson. He was a very nice person. He had nice manners and had a good education, too. He helped out in the kitchen when he wasn’t needed in the field.
One night Miss Mabel made a cake for supper. There were several day workers who took their meals with us, but had their bunk house out back.
One of these men was Mr. John Cash. When Miss Mabel cut Mr. John a piece of cake it had a toothpick in it, and Les said, “Now see there, John, she likes you better. She gave you a piece of cake with a toothpick in it.”
Mr. John said, “I don’t know why. I don’t have a damn tooth to pick with it.”
Everyone got so tickled, Minnie Belle choked on a piece of cake and Les got her up from the table and was slapping her in the back. That didn’t seem to be helping so he said, “Come here, Shorty. Minnie Belle is choking.”
Shorty came in with a glass of water, and of course he didn’t know what to do, and you could see red under the black, because by that time he was getting embarrassed.
Anyway, they got Minnie Bell outdoors and she began to get her breath, and everyone was relieved ’cause it was getting pretty scary. Dorothy was so upset she bawled everyone out for laughing and joking at the table.
Let’s go on up the road to what we called the Fred Smith house. I believe Fred and Willie Smith were the first family in my memory to live there. Aubry C. and Laverne Prentice lived there. A black couple, Lilly and Eddie Smith, also lived there. Lilly was as clean and neat as a pin, and she could iron like no one I’ve ever seen. She was so quiet. She’d laugh and say, “I don’t know anything except something about myself, and I don’t want to tell that.”
Willie (colored), I don’t know who her husband was then, but everyone knew Willie. I guess most people remember her the most as being with Clabe Franklin. There were others to live there but I can’t recall them now.
The next house, we change over to the left side of the road to the old Theodore Smith house. Mr. and Mrs. Smith were living there as far back as I can remember. After they passed away, I believe Joe and Bernice lived there. The other boys had houses built around the farm.
Just above the Smith house, back across the road to the right, was a road leading back in the field on the Dock and Donaldson place where several tenant houses stood. Bump and Elizabeth (colored) lived there at one time. My cousin Lula Berryhill and her two children, Carl and Berneva Delancy, lived in one of these houses when I was about eight years old.
The road went to the edge of the woods and turned right and kept along the edge of the woods. There was another house along there and Mr. and Mrs. Walker lived there after I went to live with Les and family.
Boys Escape Through Corn Patch at Night
During the time the Walkers were living there, it had a big corn patch out in front. One night Joe B. and William C. decided to scare Mrs. Walker with a tic tac. That’s where you stretch a fine wire real tight from the house to a post or hold one end while someone rubs the sire with resin. It makes a weird sound.
They didn’t expect what happened. Mr. Walker shot at them with a shotgun and they came down through the corn patch like a pair of big-footed horses. Henry knew they were going to pull this prank, and he was out around the shop at the end of the corn patch and heard it all. I don’t think they tried that trick again.
Every once in a while the Little Rascals would act like the Three Stooges – when William joined them.
It’s time to get back to the main road and we’ll start with the old Neal house which is back to the right side of the road. Remember I said all the houses were on the right, from the foot, except the Cash place and also the Smith place. The Neal place belonged to relatives of Mrs. Ora Cash. I don’t remember who all lived there, but Sister and Willie lived there when Mary Ellen was born.
There were several houses on the head that I don’t remember much about, or where exactly they stood.
The little house Mr. John Cash lived in at one time, the mound place and maybe another one or two. There were quite a few whites and blacks to live in these houses from time to time, the Whitsons, Stevens.
The Turners tore down two old buildings that stood across the road to the left. They were just old shacks that no one had lived in during my lifetime, and built a house for them to live in. The Flanigans lived in the next house on land that belonged to Mr. Edwards. Doc had it rented. Before they lived there, Sister and Willie lived there.
It was during this time Willie got a setting of duck eggs from someone, and he was going to put the eggs under a hen. Sister said, “If you can’t put the eggs under the hen, I’ll shake them and they won’t hatch.
I never did learn if the eggs got set or shook.
Bud Hides Under the House
It was at this same house while Sister Dixie and Willie were living there that Ollie and her boys came to visit one afternoon. Ollie and Dixie were sisters-in-law.
Bud got into some mischief and Ollie was going to whip him. Bud crawled under the house. It was getting late in the afternoon and Ollie needed to get home. She tried to get Bud to come out so they could go but Bud kept asking if she was going to whip him. Ollie never would say she wasn’t going to whip him, and he wouldn’t come out.
Finally, as a last resort, Sister told Ollie she believed there was a loose plank in the floor about where he was under the house. So they went in the house and sister lifted the plank. Ollie grabbed Bud’s foot and literally yanked him through the small opening.
Sister said Ollie lit in on him with a stick and she really gave him a licking. She said that if she had known Ollie was going to beat him so, she would have left him under the house.
The next house was known as the Albert Taylor house. It was a two-story house as best as I can remember. Mr. Taylor was the only one I remember living there. He lived alone. I know he had a daughter but I never knew her. Her name was Maude.
Out closer to the river was a house where Charlie Arthrow lived. Nolan and Edna Alsbrook lived in a house near the river, also. It was screened up so high and the top was a tent.
I guess you might way I was an “In Betweener” on the island. There were a lot of years before my time, and a lot of years after I left the island.
The island was settled 72 years before my time, and I have been away for 46 years. That makes a total of 118 years of island existence I know little about.
In the years I’ve been away the island seems to have been on the decline. This is not hearsay for I have been there for short visits, and have seen for myself. It is hardly recognizable now to those of us who lived there in the 1920s and 1930s.
I was there with members of my family in June of 1977, September of 1981 and again in April of 1986. I could not, for the life of me, point out the different landmarks because i was too choked up with emotion.
The difference between the island I once knew and the island I was then was just too painful to talk about.
There were a number of island families who simply would not sit down and write their history. I sincerely hope they will accept what I have written. I felt like most everyone would want to be mentioned in the book but I know how hard it is to get some people to write letters.
Anything I have written about that is not exactly correct or if there are any names mispelled, I do hope you can laugh about it, and accept my apology.
Byford Family History
I never knew my Grandpa and Grandma Byford. The 1880 census shows they were born in Alabama. Grandpa Henry E. Byford was born in 1830 and his wife Jane was born in 1853.
Just a glance at the birthdate and I know that Jane Byford was not my own grandma because Papa, William Benjamin Byford, was born June 14, 1861, making a difference of only eight years in Jane and Papa’s birthdates. Therefore my own Grandma Byford, who I believe was named Sarah, never came to Tennessee.
So with these deductions I have come to the conclusion that my Papa was an only child. He had no full brothers or sisters. Grandma Sarah had a daughter by a previous marriage, Millie Barnett, and after she married Grandpa Henry my Papa, William Ben was born.
I don’t know how the Byfords got over into Tennessee but my brother Thurman says they came from Alabama to Frenchmans Bayou, Arkansas, in covered wagons. I don’t know what year they got to Arkansas or when they left, but according to the 1880 census they were somewhere, possibly Burlison, in Tipton County, Tennessee, before going to Island 35.
Emery Craig gave me the information from the Census Bureau. He said his mother, Aunt Mildred, knew Papa’s first wife Margaret “Maggie” Howard Byford and they were on the island as early as 1884. Emery also believes that on Oren Byford and wife Margaret “Maggie” Howard Byford was Papa, William Benjamin Byford, and the census taker made a mistake in the name. They were listed as living in or near Burlison.
I have reason also to believe Grandpa Henry’s brother James Byford was born in 1840 in Alabama. His wife Frances was born in 1852 and their children were: Mary, born 1867; Ellen, born 1873; Sarah, born 1878; William B., born 1875. James and his family came along from Alabama possibly to Arkansas and then to the island. An old 1894 Covington Leader newspaper showed where James died in Reverie in June of that year and was buried in Poplar Grove Cemetery in Drummonds, Tennessee.
I don’t know how old Aunt Millie was when Grandma Sarah died, but she was still living at home when Grandpa Henry and Stepgrandma Jane came to Tipton County. She later married John Henry Hatfield. They had no children. She and Uncle John are buried in Poplar Grove Cemetery in Drummonds.
The children of Henry E. and Jane Byford were: 1: James, born 1874; 2: Ben, born 1876, no marital status; 3: Sarah, born 1880; 4: Ann, birthdate unknown, and 5: Tom, birthdate unknown, no marital status.
William Benjamin Byford married the first time to Margaret “Maggie” Howard. They had seven children, none living longer than 18 months. His second wife was Mary Ellen Lewis and their children were: 1: Leslie Guy, born April 15, 1893; 2: Barm Carlton, born August 12, 1896; 3: Lizzie Dale, died in infancy; 4: Lizzie Dale, the second, born March 11, 1902; 5: James, no information; 6: Hazle Beatrice, born 1905 and died at the age of five, and 7: Rose, no information.
- 1: Leslie Guy married Minnie Belle Moore from Wynne, Arkansas. She came to the island in the early 1920s to teach school. She was born in Halls, Tennessee, February 2, 1901. Their children were:
- Dorothy Louise, born October 21, 1924
- Leslie Guy Jr., born November 8, 1926
After Les and Minnie Belle left Reverie they rented land and farmed at Wilson, Arkansas, for a number of years. They bought a large farm, about 1,300 or 1,400 acres and a start of black angus cows in Brasfield, Arkansas. They had lived there a very short time when Les died of a heart attack, Sunday morning, January 3, 1943.
I don’t remember how long Minnie Belle lived there before selling the farm and buying a house in Forrest City, Arkansas. After living there a while she bought another farm in Crawfordsville, Arkansas. She farmed there several years, then sold the farm and bought a house in West Memphis, Arkansas, where she was living at the time of her death, July 16, 1953. She and Les are buried in Oaklawn Cemetery in Brinkley, Arkansas.
- A: Dorothy Louise married John Cole from Brinkley, Arkansas, June 21, 1943, and their children are:
- 1A: John Leslie, born, August 31, 1944, in Forrest City
- 2A: Nancy Jane, born August 1, 1951, in Forrest City
- 3A: James Robert, born December 13, 1955 in Anchorage, Alaska.
- 4A: Franklin Byford, born February 8, 1959, in Anchorage.
Dorothy and John moved to Alaska in the early 1950s and lived there a number of years. They moved back to West Memphis in the late 1960s or early 1970s where John died with a heart attack July 14, 1975 and is buried in Oaklawn Cemetery in Brinkley. Dorothy died just four years later, June 7, 1979, of complications after surgery of the stomach and intestines. She, too, is buried in Oaklawn Cemetery in Brinkley.
- 1A: John Leslie Cole married Sharon L Rogers from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and their children are:
- Terry Lee, a girl, born August 31, 1963, in Fairbanks, Alaska.
- John Leslie Jr., born October 14, 1965 in Anchorage.
John and Sharon were divorced and John later married Nancy Jenkins from Joiner, Alaska. They had no children. They were divorced and John married Patricia K. McQuestion. They have no children.
- 2A: Nancy Jane Cole married August 4, 1972, to Richard Nolan Woodell, born February 14, 1950. Their children are:
- a: Christini Lynn, born November 10, 1973, in West Memphis
- b: Richard Nolan Jr., born November 27, 1978, in West Memphis.
- 3A: James Robert Cole married January 7, 1979, to Cynthia Leigh Smith, born February 4, 1956, of West Waco, Texas. Their children are:
- a: Adam Major Cole, born August 30, 1983, in West Memphis, with a second child due in December of 1987.
- 4A: Franklin Byford Cole married October 3, 1981 to Patricia Jean Fields, of Memphis, born August 23, 1958. their children are:
- a: Franklin Benjamin, born September 21, 1983, in Memphis;
- B: Leslie Guy Jr., who married Katherine Canale Heckinger, born in Memphis, June 8, 1930, married September 30, 1950. Their children are:
- 1B: Leslie Guy III, born March 29, 1953, in Memphis, married Elizabeth Ann White, born May 12, 1952. Their children are:
- a: Leslie Guy IV, born January 5, 1976.
- b: Robert Lewis Byford, born February 8, 1980.
- 2B: Charlene Virginia, born August 21, 1956, West Memphis, not married.
- 3B: Dorothy Jane Byford, born June 3, 1960, West Memphis. Dorothy married July 18, 1986 to Charles Russell Turner born May 22, 1951, Dyess, Arkansas.
Guy and Katherine live on a farm in Proctor, Arkansas. They own and operate Belle Acre Seed Company. Guy named the company for his mother Minnie Belle. However, he had plans for selling this company when I talked to him last time.
- 1B: Leslie Guy III, born March 29, 1953, in Memphis, married Elizabeth Ann White, born May 12, 1952. Their children are:
- II: Barm Carlton Byford married Ellie Lee Hatfield. Their children are:
- IIA: Cordie May, born July 7, 1922, in Reverie.
- IIB: Ruby Virginia, born June 29, 1924, in Reverie.
- IIC: Mary Frances, born September 16, 1926, in Reverie.
- IID: Edith Christine, born June 27, 1929, in Reverie.
- IIE: Barm “Billy” Carlton Jr., born October 31, 1939, in Drummonds.
Bill and Ellie farmed in Reverie until the late 1930s. He then moved Ellie and the children to Drummonds. He continued to farm on the island for a few more years before moving to Drummonds also.
Sometime in the 1940s Bill and Ellie were divorced. Ellie later married a Mr. Gunther and Bill married Viola, whose last name I do not know. They didn’t stay married long. After their divorce Bill married Viola’s cousin, Mrs. Annie Hindman. Ellie divorced Mr. Gunther and married a Donaldson.
Bill died February 18, 1966, and is buried in Poplar Grove Cemetery in Drummonds. Miss Annie died a few years later and is buried in Wynne, Arkansas.
We used to visit Bill and Miss Annie when they lived at Richardson’s Landing, and we lived near Quito, Tennessee, and my children thought so much of Bill and Miss Annie.
- IIA: Cordie May married Clyde Morgan from Randolph, Tennessee, August 25, 1937. Their children are:
- 1A: Martha Jane, born July 28, 1938.
- 2A: Jerry Wayne, born August 4, 1940.
- 3A: Monette Yvonne, born August 29, 1943.
- 4A: William Shannon, born September 10, 1952.
Clyde and Cordie lived in Randolph, Reverie and Drummonds. Clyde farmed and worked at a factory as custodian and drove a school bus in Drummonds. At the time of his death in May of 1982, they were living in a trailer near Peckerwood Point, Tennessee, where Cordie and her mother Ellie still reside. Clyde is buried at Randolph.
- 1A: Martha Jane married Bob Williams from Memphis. Their children are:
- a. Catherine Dawn Williams, born June 28, 1967.
- b. Christopher James Williams, born November 9, 1972.
- 2A: Jerry Wayne Morgan married June Glass from Garland, Tennessee. They have a daughter, Tonya. They are now divorced.
- 3A: Monette Yvonne married Andy Anderson from Manhattan, Kansas. They have a son Danny. They are divorced and Monette lives in Corpus Christi, Texas.
- 4A: William Shannon married Judith Climer of Memphis. They have two daughters: Kimberly Annette and Lisa Renee.
- IIB: Ruby Virginia married Vernon Dollahite. Their children are:
- 1B: Vernon Vernard, born September 5, 1944. He married Linda Gail McNabb in 1966. They have one son, Vernon Vernard Jr., born June 29, 1967. Linda and Vernon divorced.
- 2B: Barbara Ann was born February 28, 1946. She married James Carlton Sutherland and they divorced in 1974. Their children are: April and Sonya.
- 3B: Phyllis Eilene, born May 14, 1949. She married Sammie Martin in 1963 and they divorced in 1968. She married Dailey Gammell. The children of Phyllis and Sammie Martin are: Sammie Martin Jr., born December 31, 1966, and David Martin, born in 1968.
- 4B: Schuyler Paulette born November 25, 1952, unmarried.
- 5B: James Preston, born 1956. He married Karen Couch and they have a son Keith Preston, born in 1984.
Ruby and Vernon were divorced. Ruby married Paul Johnson in 1965. They divorced in 1986. Ruby worked at Baptist Hospital for many years.
- IIC: Mary Frances married Emerson Williams they had one daughter.
- 1C: Valina, who married a Hawley and they had two daughters:
- a. Lorie
- b. Erin
They lived in Bettendorf, Iowa. Valina is an interior designer in Davenport, Iowa.
Emerson and Frances were divorced many years ago. He died some time ago and is buried in Poplar Grove Cemetery in Drummonds. Frances was married to a Wade and they divorced. Frances died in December of 1983 and is also buried in Poplar Grove Cemetery in Drummonds.
- 1C: Valina, who married a Hawley and they had two daughters:
- IID: Edith Christine Byford married Hugh Alsbrook, born November 7, 1920, of Simonton, Tennessee. Their children are:
- D1: Terry Hugh Alsbrook, born March 21, 1947, in Randolph, Tennessee. Married Joyce Faye Jackson of Burlison, December 2, 1966. Their children are:
- 1. Gary Scott, born January 8, 1968, at Covington.
- 2. Richard Bryan, born December 10, 1980, at Memphis.
- D2: Judith Carol, born December 6, 1948 at Randolph. Married Jimmy Gale Carlton, December 16, 1966. They had a son:
- 1: Christopher Gale Carlton, born July 19, 1968 at Covington.
They were divorced June 25, 1972. He married Terry Lynn Methina September 2, 1972 and had a daughter, Teresa Jeanne Methina, born November 1972 in Memphis. Terry Lynn died September 12, 1984.
- 1: Christopher Gale Carlton, born July 19, 1968 at Covington.
- D3: James Carlton Alsbrook, born March 7, 1950, in Randolph. Married Phyllis Dyanne Creasy of Covington, March 21, 1970. Their children are:
- 1: Barm Carlton, born October 9, 1970, naval Hospital, Millington, Tennessee.
- 2: Elizabeth Ann, born August 20, 1973, at Memphis.
- 3: James Andrew, born September 11, 1975, at Memphis.
- 4: Lisa Ashley, born December 20, 1978, at Memphis.
- D4: Anthony Wayne, born July 20, 1953, in Randolph. Married Pattie Leigh Max of Covington, August 20, 1974. Their children are:
- 1: Robin Michelle, born April 2, 1975, in Memphis.
- 2: Daniel Wayne, born July 14, 1978, in Memphis.
- D5: Randy Allen, born January 16, 1960, at Covington. Not married. Children are:
- 1: Tracy Allen, born July 1, 1977, died July 7, 1977.
- 2: Crystal Dawn Lott, born September 17, 1971, in Memphis
- D6: Jeffrey Lynn, born February 1, 1966, in Memphis. Married Terrie Lynn Burns of Covington November 22, 1985. There children are:
- Amber Lynn, born April 16, 1986, in Memphis.
- D1: Terry Hugh Alsbrook, born March 21, 1947, in Randolph, Tennessee. Married Joyce Faye Jackson of Burlison, December 2, 1966. Their children are:
- IIE: Barm Carlton “Billy” Byford Jr., born October 31, 1939, in Drummonds. Married Patricia Millican September 1, 1962. Their children are:
- 1: Stacy, born September 23, 1973 in Memphis
- 2: Lacy, born January 17, 1975, in Memphis
Hugh Alsbrook farms in Jamestown, near Randolph, where he and Christine live. Christine works at Covington manor Nursing home in Covington.
Billy Byford works for Ferrell Paving Company, after retiring from APAC.
Patricia is a nurse at Baptist Hospital in Memphis.
Godsey Family History
This information was provided by Mary F. Gentry, Vicky Horton, Beulah Leveritt, Alice Fay Atchley and Vella Godsey.
- IV: Lizzie Dale “Dixie” Byford married Willie Lee Godsey on April 17, 1919. She died July 11, 1986 and is buried at Osceola, Arkansas. Willie is also buried there. They were separated many years ago. Their children are:
- A: Mary Ellen “Coot”, born at Reverie, February 5, 1921.
- B: Geraldine, died at birth.
- C: Willie B. “Buck”, born in Hayti, Missouri, November 29, 1924.
- D: Robert Clyde “Bubba”, born near Drummonds, April 29, 1927.
- E: Floyd Carlton “Hoot”, born at Reverie, December 8, 1929.
- F: Betty Jean, born at Reverie, February 25, 1933.
- G: Raymond E Godsey, Born at Reverie, May 8, 1936.
- A: Mary Ellen Godsey married William Claude Cook, June 8, 1939. She died April 2, 1977, and is buried at Osceola. There children are:
- 1a: William Claude Jr., born at Reverie, July 30, 1941, married Pam Hovis, August 30, 1965. Their children are:
- 1: William Claude Cook III, born March 7, 1966.
- 2: Lance Garrison, born October 21, 1970.
- 1: William Claude III married Kimberly Weathers, June 6, 1983. They had a daughter, Heather Nicole Cook, born May 15, 1983. They are divorced.
William Claude Cook, Jr., has his own business, a service station and quick-stop in Osceola. William Claude Cook III works for him. They all live in Osceola.
- 2a: Mary Frances Cook was born at Osceola on June 15, 1944. She married Donald Ray gentry Sr., on April 15, 1971. Their children were: Sheri Ann Gentry, born December 2, 1971, and Donald Ray Gentry II, born April 27, 1974. Donald Ray Gentry Sr. is employed by the Burroughs Corporation in Memphis as a computer technician. They live in Marion, Arkansas.
- 3a: Claudia Linda, born at Osceola, July 16, 1951. She married Charles E. Thomas on May 15, 1970. Their children were Annette Leann Thomas, born December 1, 1970, and Lisa Delynn Thomas, born February 15, 1973. Charles E. Thomas is a master sergeant in the United States Air Force. He is an administrative supervisor. they were stationed at MacDill Air Force Base at Tampa, Florida.
- 1a: William Claude Jr., born at Reverie, July 30, 1941, married Pam Hovis, August 30, 1965. Their children are:
- C. Willie B. Godsey married Elmer Leveritt. Their children:
- 1c: William “Bill” Jackson, born at Reverie, January 31, 1941. He married Ruby Alline Sims from Alabama on March 5, 1972. Ruby had two boys from a former marriage, Robert and malcolm Hughes. Bill and Ruby’s children are: 1: Tammy Leann Leveritt, born October 30, 1972, 2: Tonia Rena Leveritt, born April 15, 1975.
- 2c: Beulah Peral, born at Reverie, September 10, 1942. Married William A Thomas. They have been divorced many years and had no children.
- 3c: Grady Dean Leveritt, born at Reverie, October 9, 1942. Married Judy Aline Anderson from Dyess, Arkansas. They have one child, Kimberly Dean, born January 31, 1975.
- 4c: Sadie Nadine Leveritt, born at Reverie, January 28, 1957. Married Kenneth R. Powell from Wynne, Arkansas. They have no children. Sadie is a nurse and Kenneth is a pharmacist.
- D: Robert “Bubba” Clyde married Vella Campbell of Iuka, Mississippi, January 12, 1946, at Osceola courthouse. Their children:
- 1d: Betty Sue, born December 25, 1946. Married Clyde B. Sexton from Osceola, December 28, 1978. they have one child:
- 1: Elizabeth Suzanne, born February 2, 1981, at Osceola.
- 2d: Robert Clyde Jr., born at Reverie, January 30, 1948. Married Gwendolyn Faye Roberts on January 18, 1973. their children are:
- 1: Christopher Michael, born at Osceola, November 21, 1957.
- April Darnelle, born at Osceola, July 27, 1981.
- 3d: Martha Ann Godsey, born at Reverie, October 24, 1949. Married James Oscar Gonzalez from Arkansas, January 27, 1941. Their children are: 1: Gregory Paul, born July 10, 1967; 2: James Oscar Jr., born at Osceola, June 30, 1973.
- 4d: Eddie Mack Godsey, born at Wilson, March 10, 1952. Married Deborah Rose Butterworth, December 18, 1971. Their children are:
- 1: Amanda Lynn, born at Osceola, July 29, 1975.
- 2: Malissa Daine, born January 14, 1980.
- 3: Matthew Ryan, born August 5, 1986.
- 5d: Larry Ray Godsey, born at Wilson, June 13, 1953, died Febraury 26, 1955, buried at Bassett, Arkansas.
- 6d: Judy Carol Godsey, born at Wilson, November 19, 1954. Married Ronnie Gene Brown Sr., August 18, 1972. Their children are:
- Ronnie Gene Jr., born at Osceola, March 12, 1973.
- 7d: Donald Ray Godsey, born at Wilson, February 11, 1958. Married Teresa Marie Dunahoo, April 30, 1976. Their children are:
- Russell Cole, born at Osceola, September 18, 1979.
- 8d: Michael Wayne Godsey, born at Osceola, July 20, 1962. Married Kim Rhenee Prichard, September 23, 1984, divorced January 9, 1986..
- 1d: Betty Sue, born December 25, 1946. Married Clyde B. Sexton from Osceola, December 28, 1978. they have one child:
- E: Floyd “Hoot” Godsey married Marie Atchley from Alabama on May 28, 1949. Their children are:
- 1e: Oney Jean, born January 15, 1950. Married William C. Crook on August 6, 1972. Their children are:
- 1: William Brian, born June 15, 1973.
- Christopher Allen, born December 29, 1975.
- 2e: Dolly Mae, born April 18, 1953. Married William E Wilson, December 14, 1972. Their children are:
- 1: William Russell, born November 10, 1977.
- 2: Robert Nicholas, born February 6, 1980.
- 3e: Larry Carlton married Delores Diane Clifton, December 3, 1975. Their children are:
- 1: Harvey Wayne Hopper, born January 8, 1973 (adopted and name changed to Buck Wayne Godsey).
- 2: Raymond Carlton, born April 28, 1976.
- 3: James Floyd, born January 7, 1978.
- 4e: Vickey Dale Godsey, born October 15, 1956. Married Bobby E. Horton on June 6, 1975. No children. Divorced June 18, 1985.
- 1e: Oney Jean, born January 15, 1950. Married William C. Crook on August 6, 1972. Their children are:
- F: Betty Jean Godsey married Tony Atchley Jr., from Guntersville, Alabama. Their children are:
- 1f: Jimmy Wayne, born February 2, 1960. Married Sandra Lelia Elmore from Corpus Christi, Texas. Their children are:
- 1: Jimmy Wayne Jr., born May 26, 1976.
- 2: Paul Wayne, born September 12, 1979.
- 2f: Tony Atchley III, born December 5, 1952. Married Denise Burus from Topeka, Kansas. Their children are:
- 1: Michael Lee, born April 22, 1977.
- 2: Toni Brooke, born April 13, 1980.
- 3: Amy Christian, born August 17, 1984.
- 3f: Alice Faye Atchley, born January 25, 1951.
- 4f: Debra Jean Atchley, born May 1, 1957. Married Charles Maxey Austin from Dyess. their children are:
- 1: Charles Maxey Jr., born April 14, 1983.
- 5f: Leslie Clyde Atchley, born December 12, 1959. Married Mary Annette Brister from Osceola. Their child is:
- 1: Nichole Leann, born May 1, 1986.
- 6f: Bobby Lynn Atchley, born July 30, 1965. Married Tracy Lynn Taylor from Osceola. Their child is:
- 1: Bobby Lynn Jr., born May 30, 1986.
- 1f: Jimmy Wayne, born February 2, 1960. Married Sandra Lelia Elmore from Corpus Christi, Texas. Their children are:
- G: Raymond E. Godsey, married Glenda Faye Coatney from Osceola. Their child is:
- 1g: Raymond E. Jr., born July 29, 1962. Not married.
- 1g: Raymond E. Jr., born July 29, 1962. Not married.
- B: William Benjamin Byford’s third wife was Hattie Lou Anderson from Campbell, Missouri, born June 3, 1893, died December 29, 1924, buried in Poplar Grove Cemetery in Drummonds. Their children are:
- 1: Hazel Beatrice, born January 13, 1911, died one month later and buried in Poplar Grove Cemetery in Drummonds.
- 2: Thurman Wilford, born April 5, 1912, in Reverie. He died July 15, 1981, and is buried in Osceola.
- 3: Joseph Henry, born August 16, 1914 in Reverie, died August 27, 1977, and is buried in Poplar Grove Cemetery in Drummonds.
- 4: Henry Ervin, born November 16, 1916, in Reverie, died December 13, 1973. He is buried in Bakers Chapel Cemetery in Hernando, Mississippi.
- 5: William Erskine, born February 8, 1919, in Reverie, married to Laverne Crook for about a year, then divorced. Never married again. Lives in Osceola.
- 6: Gladys May, born September 9, 1921, in Reverie.
- 7: William Benjamin Jr., born October 9, 1924, in Reverie, died about six months later and is buried in Poplar Grove Cemetery in Drummonds.
William Benjamin’s fourth marriage was to a Mrs. Betty Gadsberry from Forrest City, Arkansas, about 1926. They were divorced eight or ten months later.
Miss Betty was an excellent cook and housekeeper. She was unhappy when she couldn’t get her on children and I think she wanted to go back to Forrest City where she could at least be near them. I like her, but I don’t think the other members of the family did, except Les and Minnie Belle.
- B2: Thurman Wilford Byford married Margaret Lucile Craig on June 19, 1934, in Wilson. Their children are:
- *1: Thurman Wilford Jr., born October 15, 1936, in Reverie. Married the first time to Barbara Jane Spears, May 19, 1956, in DeSoto County, Mississippi. They had one son Freddie Byford Brooks (married). Wilford’s second marriage was to Sammy Nicholson from Newport, Arkansas. Sammy has been teaching school for 23 years. She teaches typing and accounting.
Wilford was in the United States Army, November 17, 1959 to February 12, 1962. Basic training at Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Ord, Oregon. He was in Korea 13 months (post conflict) as a PFC. Received an honorable discharge. He and Sammy have no children but do have several pets.
- *2: Homer Allen, born June 25, 1938, in Reverie. Not married. Has high school education and is a farmer.
- *3: Helen Virginia, born April 7, 1950, in Reverie. Went to Memphis State university one year, then to St. Louis, Missouri, where she worked as a bookkeeper. She later met and married Ed Doney, September 30, 1966. He was self-employed and died in 1948 and is buried in St. Louis. They had no children.
- *4: Margaret Lucile, born March 29, 1942, in Reverie. Went to St. Louis after graduation. Worked for the Company in St. Louis. Later went to college in St. Louis and became a school teacher. She entered the Army in April of 1974 and was discharged in June 29, 1976.
She received basic training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and was stationed in Heilbran, Germany. She did training in Fort Gordon, Georgia. She served four years in the reserves. Took training in nursing and at present is working for the Internal Revenue Service. Has a daughter Christinia born July 10, 1975 in Germany.
- *5: Mary Frances Byford, born April 2, 1944. Has high school education. Worked as a secretary and now works for a doctor where she has been employed for the past 15 years in St. Louis.
- *6: Alfred H. Byford, born November 27, 1946. After graduation from high school in Wilson, went to St. Louis where he was employed at a bank for a few years. He returned home to Wilson and is now employed as a supervisor for Crompton in Osceola.
- *7: Will F. Byford, born December 13, 1948. Finished high school at Wilson and served in the Marines in Vietnam for two years. Married Virginia Hicks of Osceola. Their children are:
- 1: William Benjamin, born December 2, 1970, in Osceola.
- 2: Michael O’Brien, born May 10, 1972, in Memphis.
- 3: Brandon Craig, born September 10, 1973, in Memphis.
They divorced and Will has married again.
- *8: Lester Paul, born June 1, 1950. Has high education and two years of college in St. Louis. He served in the Army in Germany two years. Now employed with Segal and Roberts Company in Wilson.
- *9: Stanley Martin, born November 15, 1952, in Reverie. Graduated from Wilson High School and is now farming. Not married.
- *1: Thurman Wilford Jr., born October 15, 1936, in Reverie. Married the first time to Barbara Jane Spears, May 19, 1956, in DeSoto County, Mississippi. They had one son Freddie Byford Brooks (married). Wilford’s second marriage was to Sammy Nicholson from Newport, Arkansas. Sammy has been teaching school for 23 years. She teaches typing and accounting.
- B3: Joseph Henry Byford served in the United States Army from January 7, 1943 to November 5, 1945. He was promoted to PFC. He was trained at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, Camp Davis, North Carolina, and Camp Rucker, Alabama. He was stationed in England, Germany and Norway. In Norway he received a Unit Citation from the Norwegian Government. He married Kathryn Atchley from Alabama several years after the war ended. They were separated several years before he died. Their children are:
- *1: Jerry Wayne, buried in Bassett, Arkansas.
- *2: Jackie Lane, born December 11, 1950, in Reverie. she married Michael S. Teague on August 8, 1986 in Tyronza, Arkansas. their children are:
- 1: Michael S. Jr., born June 6, 1969, in Osceola.
- 2: David Wayne, born January 12, 1971, in Osceola.
- 3: Christopher Scott, born September 6, 1972, in Memphis.
- 4: Robert Craig, born September 8,, 1974 in Memphis. She divorced Michael in 1976 and married Jeffery C. Teague April 26, 1978.
- *3: Cathy Jo Byford, born October 3, 1952, in Reverie. Married Gary Lynn Armstrong born in Caraway, Arkansas. Their children are:
- 1: Angela Rochelle, born April 20, 1972, in Crittenden County, Arkansas.
- 2: Joey Lynn, born November 21, 1979, in Crittenden County.
- *4: Donald Wayne Byford, born October 8, 1954 in Reverie. Married Suzanna Kay Smith, born November 1, 1956, in Pocohontas, Arkansas. Donald was in the United States Army stationed in Nuremberg, Germany. They have one child, Daniel Lee Byford, born November 25 1981 in Blytheville, Arkansas.
- *5: Bonnie Jean Byford, born September 4, 1956, in Reverie. Married Paul David Brooks from Caraway, Arkansas. Their children are:
- 1: Joshua Paul Brooks, born November 14, 1973, in Osceola.
- 2: Jeremy Don Brooks, born January 18, 1975, in Osceola.
- 3: Jennifer Lynn Brooks, born January 18, 1983, in Osceola.
- *6: Barbara Jane Byford, born January 2, 1962, in Wilson. Married Jerry Glenn Hamilton, born June 19, 1958, in Mammoth Springs, Arkansas. Their children are:
- 1: Brandy Michelle, born September 7, 1976, in Osceola.
- 2: Jay Hunter, born March 26, 1986, in Blytheville.
- B4: Henry Irving Byford met Leslie Rivers Harris during the summer of 1935. They were married the following May of 1936. Reverie was home to them for several years before first moving to Woodstock, Tennessee to farm and finally to Heth, Arkansas. Their first son James Erwin had been born by this time.
Henry was drafted into the Army while farming in Heth. Because of this, a decision was made to sell the farm equipment and livestock. Rivers and little Jim then moved to Memphis to live. After a period of rest, he began working for the Memphis Casket Company and worked there 13 years as a security guard.
A second son, Larry Wayne, had been born when Henry made the decision to move to a farm east of Hernando, Mississippi and combined public work with farming and raising cattle. He first acquired a small herd of polled Herefords but later changed to black Angus. His work at Memphis Casket Company was terminated when the company installed an automatic alarm system to cut expenses. Henry then worked for several manufacturing plants before taking an early retirement due to poor health. A third son, Leslie Dalton, had been born during these years.
James Erwin graduated from high school in 1960. He served five years in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and was promoted to L/Corporal. Besides hunting and fishing, Jim is interested in good hunting guns of different models. He also likes to use certain types of bone and wood to fashion handles for hunting knives. He is a life member of the National Rifle Association. Jim is not married.
Larry Wayne served several years in the Navy and was stationed at San Diego, California, Lakehurst, New Jersey and Johnsville, Pennsylvania. He was a parachute rigger. After getting out of the Navy, Larry began taking flying lessons. He loved airplanes as a boy. He received a license to fly small aircraft. He met and later married Mary Theresa Bainger. He and Mary have continued their education by attending a community college.
Mary presently is in her final year of studies at Mercer Central School of Nursing in New Jersey and expects to become a registered nurse. Mary and Wayne are the parents of three children: Larry Wayne Byford Jr., Marnie Lynn Byford and Teresa Marie Byford. Larry Wayne Sr., enjoys hunting and fishing. The entire family goes with him on the fishing trips from time to time.
Leslie Dalton graduated from high school in 1968. He signed up with the draft board at this time but his draft status was later changed to Voluntary when the draft was discontinued. Leslie worked for the Justice Department in Washington, D. C., for a while, then spent four years as an apprentice in printing. He enjoys hunting and fishing. He is also interested in airplanes and took flying lessons for a while. Leslie married Sandra Higgins Michael on October 1, 1982. They are now separated. he is presently working part time, and is attending school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he hopes to complete a course in computer technology.
Henry Irvin Byford, born November 16, 1916, in Reverie, died December 13, 1973. He is buried in Bakers Chapel Cemetery, Hernando, Mississippi. His wife, Leslie Rivers (Harris) Byford, born October 25, 1916, in bright community, DeSoto County, Mississippi. Their children are:
- 1: James Erwin Byford, born January 28 1942, St. Joseph Hospital, Memphis.
- 2: Larry Wayne Byford, born December 2, 1944, Methodist Hospital, Memphis.
- 3: Leslie Dalton Byford, born November 6, 1950, Hernando, Mississippi.
The children of Larry and Mary Byford are:
- 1: Larry Wayne Jr., born September 2, 1968, in Philadelphia.
- 2: Marnie Lynn Byford, born June 22, 1977.
- 3: Theresa Marie Byford, born June 11, 1979.
B5: Gladys May Byford, married Johnson Dallas Turner, August 4, 1938, in Marion. Dallas was living in Willie Town, Tennessee, near Drummonds at the time and Gladys was living in Wilson. They moved back to the island in February of 1939, where they lived and farmed Gladys’ share of the home place until March of 1941. They left the island with their small daughter Shelby Jean and moved back to Willie Town. They lived there on the farm Doc and Emma Sue Flanigan had rented until December 21, 1941. They moved to a farm Doc bought between Quito and Wilkinsville where they lived 19 years. They moved from there to a farm they bought in Henry, Tennessee, where they lived for 18 years. Then in 1978 they moved to McKenzie, Tennessee. Dallas worked as a carpenter for 12 or 15 years until poor health forced him to retire in 1979. Their children are:
- *1: Shelby Jean, born August 11, 1939, in Willie Town. She married Jimmy Carroll Cousar of Flatwoods, Tennessee, on March 20, 1958. They lived in Drummonds. Jimmy is the manager of Memphis Title Company and Abstract Plant. Shelby is a secretary with Shelby County Government/Aging Office. Their children are:
- A: Ronald Dale, born January 17, 1960. Married Beverly Jean Belk on April 24, 1982. They have a son, Randal Chase, born May 10, 1984. Dale works for Shelby County Government as a mechanic and Beverly works for Memphis Title Company as a bookkeeper.
- B: Linda Lou Cousar, born September 28, 1962. Married Jimmy Willis of Munford. They have a son, James Chad, born September 1, 1982. They are now divorced. Linda Lou is an architectural drafts woman with Holiday Inn Corporation in Memphis. She and Chad live in Munford.
- C: Charles “Chuck” Dallas, born April 25, 1964. He lives with his parents and is employed as a carpenter by Cole Lumber Company in Drummonds. He is not “spliced” yet.
- *2: Betty Jo Turner, born March 14, 1943 at St. Joseph Hospital in Memphis. She attended school in Munford and graduated from high school in Henry, Tennessee. She attended college at Martin, Tennessee, for one quarter. She came home and went to work for Wilker Brothers in McKenzie for one year, then went to work for General Electric Company in Memphis. She met and married Bennett E. Ritchie from Smithville, Texas. He was in the Navy and stationed at Millington. Their children are:
- A: Cecilia “Cissy” Kay, born February 27, 1971, in Little Rock.
- B: Todd Everett, born November 7, 1971, in Portsmouth, Virginia.
- C: Fred Clayton, born June 30, 1975, in Millington. Bennett went into the Navy in Memphis in November of 1963 – NATTC. He retired as an E-9 in Dallas, Texas on August 31, 1986. They reside in Duncanville, Texas. Betty works as a secretary-receptionist for Charm, Incorporated and Aloe-Med Corporation in Dallas. Bennett works as an electronics inspector for General Dynamics in Fort Worth. He also attends night classes in refrigeration.
- *3: Sue Elane Turner was born near Quito, July 30, 1945. She attended school first through part of her freshman year in Munford before we moved to Henry. She graduated from Henry High and went to work for Sears in Memphis. She came home a while and the family moved back down close to Millington and Elane went to work for E. L. Bruce Company. After we couldn’t sell the Henry farm we were forced to move back to Henry which I was happy to do. She worked about another week or less before coming back to Henry where she went to work for Brown Shoe Company in McKenzie.
She worked there for a number of years. She met Larry Kee who was working at Brown and they married a year or so later. Their children are:
- A: Brian Keith Kee, born February 24, 1966.
- B: Jennifer Carol Kee, born April 14, 1970.
Elane is now employed as a secretary at Williams Furniture Store in McKenzie. Larry is employed by the ICG Railroad. They live in McKenzie. Brian is a junior at the University of Tennessee at Martin. Jennifer is a junior at McKenzie High School.
- *4: Kitty Byford Turner was born March 27, 1947, in Wilkinsville, Tennessee. She attended Munford School until the family moved to Henry on November 9, 1959. She graduated from Henry High School. She attended the Area Vocational School in McKenzie for a while, worked at Brown Shoe Company for a short time, then decided to study nursing in Paris. She married Clarence Odell Beville Jr., and gave up nursing school a short time later. Their children are:
- A: Tracy Lynn, born September 7, 1969.
- B: Talvin Christopher, born December 11, 1974.
They reside near Paris, Tennessee, where Junior is employed with Emerson Electric Company.
Tracy is a senior at Henry County High in Paris. Chris is in the sixth grade at henry. Junior entered the service at Parris Island, South Carolina, in February of 1966, and came out February 22, 1968.
- *5: William Edwin Turner, born September 27, 1952, in St. Joseph Hospital in Memphis. He was in the second grade when he moved to Henry. He graduated from Henry County High in Paris and attended the Area Vocational School in McKenzie where he studied drafting. He quit a short time before graduating, and went to work at Gaines Manufacturing Company in McKenzie where he worked a short time. He worked at Emerson Electric. He went to Memphis and worked for Coloredo Associates as a draftsman. He came back to Henry and married Martha Teresa Hicks form Henry. Their children are:
- A: Penny Lane, born September 18, 1973.
- B: Shawn William, born February 11, 1977.
They reside in Henry, and their children attend Henry school. Teresa works as a secretary for Campbell Rhea Manufacturing Company in Paris, Tennessee. Eddie drives an 18-wheeler for M. A. Brown Company of McKenzie.
Mrs. Mary Smith’s children are: Ella Belle Doss (history elsewhere in book); John Doss married Letha Gentry and had a lovely little girl named Mary Belle; Edna Doss married Nolan Alsbrook and had one little girl; Evelyn hadn’t married when she left the island.
Letha Gentry’s brothers came to the island when John was working for Papa on the farm, and Letha was cooing for us so they boarded there while they were working, helping put out timber. Their names were Aderian and C. B. Gentry.
James Byford married Magnolia “Mag” Lewis and their children all deceased, were Jim, Roland “Doc”, and Audrey. Jim married Ella Belle Doss Hatchel who had a son Glover by her first marriage (1c) Juanita Byford; (2c) Lucille Byford; (3c) Bubba Byford.
Jim’s second wife was Doris Standridge and his third wife was Katherine Carr.
II: Roland left the island and married and I believe he lived in Chicago, and had four or five boys.
III: Audry married Vic Williams and they had six sets of twins and three single children. I knew Maggie Arlean, Elizabeth and a boy I think they called Bubba.
III: Sarah Byford married Nathan Liles and they had two girls. I don’t know the younger girl’s name but I believe the older one was named Elvie Liles.
IV: Ann Byford married Hiram Adams the first time. After he was killed she married Ed Welch, and their children were: “Little Ed” who drowned while he was in his late teens – my brother Les almost drowned at the same time – and Millie. I don’t know who she married but she had a daughter Margaret who had a daughter Louise.
Louise Welch, known as Lula, married Will Delancey the first time, and their children were: Carl Delancey and Berneva Delancey.
Lula married Luther Berryhill from Drummonds the second time and Bill Morris from Wynne the third time.
Mamie Welch married Billy Houston and their children are: Elizabeth and Billy.
Magnolia married Jack Leveritt after Uncle Jim died and they had several children. I believe all died as children except a boy Leroy.
Uncle Jack married a lady from Arkansas after Aunt Mag died. Her name was Sadie, and they had three children: Lloyd, Elmer and Gene. Miss Sadie had a daughter Bethel by a former marriage. Bethel lived a while on the island.
Lloyd married after he left the island. Elmer married Willie B. Godsey. Their family is in the Godsey history. I don’t know what became of Gene after he left the island.
Information Given by Emery Craig
James Madison Lewis was born in Cloverport, in Grayson County, Kentucky, on August 20, 1837.
When the Civil War broke out he enlisted in the Missouri State Guard from Montecello, Missouri, Lewis County, later transferring to the Confederate Army. Apparently his family disagreed with this action and he never mentioned the names of any member of the family to his children.
He was severely wounded at Champion Hill or Bakers Creek, between Jackson and Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1863, and was in the prison hospital at Clinton, Mississippi, for several months. While there he met his future wife, Isabella Siler, born April 18, 1846, near Hernando, Mississippi. She was the daughter of Rebecca and Thomas Siler. The Silers were separated and Rebecca is buried in the Poplar Grove Cemetery in Drummonds.
Isabella was doing volunteer nursing for Confederate soldiers. Sometime after Mr. Lewis was paroled from Marion, Alabama, he and Ms. Siler were married. Their children:
- A: Mary Ellen, born near Drummonds on the old Baker place in September of 1873. She died March 27, 1907, and was buried in Poplar Grove Cemetery in Drummonds.
- B: Mildred Lee Lewis was born October 16, 1876, on the old Dennis place near Randolph. She died November 5, 1963, in the Coleman nursing home in Millington, and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery at Hayti, Missouri.
- C: Magnolia Lewis was born in Tipton County, Tennessee, in 1878. The Lewis family moved to Wheatley, Arkansas, before moving to the island in 1883 or 1884.
Aunt Mildred said, “The first school I attended on the island was just above where the Floyd Godsey home is now.” That was on the old W. B. Byford farm, formerly the old Hamilton place.
Uncle Will Craig was born and raised two miles north of Munford and went to the island in the late 1890s where he met and married Mildred Lee Lewis on October 8, 1898. Their children:
- IB: Mattie Belle, born June 26, 1899, near Munford.
- IIB: Emery Gladden, born February 28, 1901, near Munford.
- IIIB: Ora Othell, born June 10, 1903, near Munford, died there April 9, 1917.
- IVB: George Ellitot, born November 21, 1905, at Reverie, died December 1976.
- VB: James Madison, born 1908, died 1909.
- VIB: Edith Laverne, born February 18, 1910.
- VIIB: William Ford Jr., born 1912, died 1916.
- VIIIB: Margaret Lucille, born April 17, 1917 near Drummonds.
- 1B: Mattie married Dan Needham on November 8, 1916 but was separated at the time of her death. They had no children.
- IIB: Emery married Myrtle Cook at Pascola, Missouri, on November 29, 1925. Their children are:
- 1b: Gene Othell, born at Pascola on December 23, 1926.
- 2b: Mildred “Sis” Louise, born December 12, 1928, at Reverie, died in auto accident November 18, 1973, near Willard Springs, Missouri, and buried in Floral Gardens Cemetery in Kansas City, Missouri.
- 3b: Myrtle Inez, born April 10, 1930, at Reverie.
- 4b: Emery Harold, born May 7, 1932, at Reverie.
- 5b: Carol Ruth, born February 14, 1934, at Reverie.
- 6b: Norman Dean, born October 29, 1939, at Reverie. (twin)
- 7b: Norbert Richard, born October 29, 1939, at Reverie. (twin)
- 8b: Dorothy June, born June 14, 1943, at Reverie.
- 9b: John Preston, born July 10, 1944, at Reverie.
- 10b: Joan Eileen, born April 24, 1946, at Nodena, Arkansas.
- 11b: Stanley Ford, born March 10, 1949, at Brosely, Missouri.
- IIIB: Ora Othell, no marital status.
- IVB: George Elliot married Zelphia Blackwood in 1934. Their children are:
- 1b: George Elliot Jr., born 1934, at Reverie.
- 2b: Jewell, born 1937, died 1937.
- 3b: Earline, born 1938, at Reverie, died 1969.
- 4b: William Elton, born 1941, at Reverie.
- 5b: Clifford, born 1943, at Reverie.
- 6b: Homer, born 1948, at Nodena.
- 7b: Freda, born 1948, in Arkansas.
- 8b: Larry, born 1951, in Arkansas.
- VIB: Laverne Craig, married Arby C. Prentice in Pascola in 1926. Their children are:
- 1b: Doris, born February 18, 1930, at Reverie.
- 2b: Glen, born 1932, at Reverie, died 1970 at Little Rock.
- 3b: Carma, born 1934, at Reverie.
- 4b: Jimmie, born 1936, in Missouri.
- 5b: A. C. Jr., born 1939, in Missouri.
- 6b: Patsy Nell, born 1941, in Missouri.
- VIIIB: Margaret Lucille’s history is listed under the Byford history.
- A: Mary Ellen Lewis married W. B. Byford and their family history is listed under the Byford history.
- B: Magnolia Lewis’ history will be found elsewhere also.
Mr. and Mrs. August Faught lived on the head of the island for a while in the late 1920s. I don’t remember too much about them. Mrs. Faught was a petite lady and Mr. Faught was real tall. Mrs. Faught came down home with Sister to visit a time or two. I can remember one night the Faughts had a pound supper. It came up a storm before the party was over, and Henry drove our team hard to get us home before the rain.
I still have a quilt, though badly worn, that Mrs. Faught swapped to Sister for a sitting of eggs. How did it wind up in my hands? Well, Sister swapped the embroidered blocks to Minnie Belle for a string quilt already quilted. Minnie Belle had a quilt put together, and we quilted it when I was about 13 years old. After Minnie Belle died, Dorothy gave the quilt to me.
The Dean Families
Mr. W. L. Dean and wife Miss Eva lived on the foot of the island. I can’t remember their children but I have hear Minnie Bell speak of Evelyn and how nice and smart she was. I believe they had a daughter named Sybil also. There may have been others but I don’t recall hearing their names.
I know Minnie Belle boarded with Mr. and Mrs. W. L. Dean when she taught school on the island.
Mr. and Mrs. Tony Dean “Alma” and their two children, Carlton and Dixie, also lived on the foot of the island.
The Handley Family
Mr. and Mrs. Handley and their children were Geneive, Lillian, Dean and John.
If there were others I don’t remember. I believe they came to the island in the spring of 1931. Anyway they came down to Bill and Ellie’s either on Saturday afternoon before Easter, or Easter Sunday. The back water was out and they came with someone by boat right up to the front steps.
Geneive and Lillian married and made their homes on the island but the rest of the family moved in a few years. I suppose back to where they came from when they came to the island.
The Fraley Family
Bill Fraley came to the island in the 1920s. His brothers were: Charley Fraley, not married; Mr. and Mrs. Jim Fraley and children, James, Wade, Murray and Howard; Mr. John Fraley just visited every so often with his brothers. Mr. Same Fraley and son Marvin, Mrs. Fraley had passed away before they came to the island, and Mrs. Maude Stafford kept house for them. Mrs. Stafford’s sister, Mrs. Willie Henthorn and her two children Ruth Hamby and Charles Dunn lived on the island and Miss Willie kept house for Papa. Mr. Garvin Fraley and two sons, Garwin Jr., and A. D. visited on the island.
The Wiseman Family
Mrs. Maude Wiseman and her children and their families lived on the foot of the island. Marietta only visited the family there. Florella was married to Claude Suggs. Gladys was married to Joy Waxler. John “Bo” William Wiseman left the island before he married. Miss Maude’s sister Cynthia Robertson and daughter Estelle Phelps visited the island. Estelle married Ray Waxler. She drowned about two weeks later on Sunrise Island.
The Blackwood Family
Mrs. Henrietta Blackwood and her children lived on the foot. Rena May visited on the island. Those who lived there were Elsie, Zelphia (deceased), Otto and Vanas. Zelphia married Marvin and they had three children, Louise, Rena May and a son. Marvin and Zelphia were divorced and he later married Elsie and they had several children. Otto never married. He now lives in a nursing home in Arkansas. Vanas married Geneva Owens and they have three or four children and live in Arkansas.
The Smith History
Information for this was given by Louise Smith and Mable Taylor Smith.
Mr. Theodore Smith (Shmidt) came from Germany by way of Holland in the early 1800s with his father and brother or possibly a sister. They were in East St. Louis, Illinois, until Mr. Theodore left home to come down the Mississippi River to Randolph.
After losing his first wife and child he moved to Island 35 where he married Miss Mineola “Minnie” Hearn. Their children:
- 1: Fred Harold Smith met Willie Mae Smith (no relation) while she and her stepfather were living in a houseboat tied up on the island. One day Fred saw Willie’s stepfather whipping her and he immediately asked to marry her, as it was related by daughter-in-law Mable. he was 20 and she was 13 or 14 years old.
Their children were Linnie Mae who married Deward Carr and had four daughters: Dorothy Jean, Faye Lynn, Blanche and Sally. Dorothy and Sally lived near Indianapolis, Indiana, and Blanche was wed several times and was living in Oklahoma when last heard of. Faye Lynn was killed in an automobile accident when she was in her early teens. Linnie and Deward are divorced and Linnie lives in Bloomington, Illinois.
- 2: Milton married Mable Taylor, a school teacher, and they have four children: Robert Milton Jr., who married Flora Jean Marcy and they have two children; Lillian Gray who married Bill Brewer and moved to Florida and have seven children. She moved back to Tennessee in 1984 and divorced her husband. Mary Sue married William Mashburn and they have three children, and Fred lives alone in Atoka.
- 3: Carl “Doodle-Eye” Brook married Emmie Powell and they had seven boys and three girls. The marriage ended in divorce, and at the time of his death from a heart attack he was married again. Most of his children live in Arkansas.
- 4: Charles “Cooter” Hubert married Madine Godsey and they had three children: Carolyn, Peggy and Charles Jr. He and Madine were divorced and he, too, was married to someone else at the time of his death at age 49 of emphysema. His children all live in Arkansas. Carolyn and husband run a grocery store in Blytheville. Peggy is married to an eye specialist and lives in Jonesboro. Charles lived in Blytheville at the last account.
- 1: Fred Harold “F. H.” Jr., married Wanda Lee Suggs and they had three sons, all living in Arkansas, but F. H. farms on Island 35. He also has other business interests.
Fred Smith died of cancer in 1956 or 1957 in Gainesville, Tennessee. I believe Fred is buried in Poplar Grove Cemetery in Drummonds. Willie died several years later in the home of her youngest son near Grider, Arkansas.
- 2: Carrie Mae Smith married Joseph Nelson Vanhook and they had one son Joseph Nelson Jr., who married Martha Daniel and they had four sons and one daughter. They moved to South Carolina. Nelson died quite a few years ago, and his family is living in or around East Tennessee, South Carolina and North Georgia.
Carrie Smith was a very caring person as most everyone will remember, and that is one reason she was a good midwife. Carrie delivered quite a few of Reverie’s babies. The last delivery I remember was William “Bill” Leveritt. That was, I believe, in January of 1940, and we left the island in March of 1941.
- 3: Ed Lee Smith married the first time to Hazel Cobern and they had one son Franklin who married a Miss Larver and they had two sons. They live in Ocala, Florida.
Ed and Hazel were divorced and he later married Edith Virginia Cook who had a son Edward who married Joyce Jones. They have a daughter and a son and live in Wilson.
- 4: Walter Van Smith married Lillian Handley. Their children are:
- Eugene Smith whose wife is Emme Lou Strange.
- Joseph Joe Smith whose wife is Janie Birthchel.
- Helen Smith whose husband is Marvin Johnson.
- Alford Smith whose wife is Euretta Thorp.
- Grace Smith show husband is Joe Higbee.
- Elden Smith who never married.
- Ineda Smith who never married.
Walter died three years ago. Lillian and most of the children still live in Indianapolis and I suppose Walter is buried there, as they have lived there for quite some time.
Joseph Smith married Bernice Doyle and their children are:
- Jessie T. Smith who married Irine and lives in California.
- Buford married Gloria and they live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
- Minola Ann married Ray Hopkins and lives in Salt Lake City.
- Leonard married Madeline and lives in Cookeville, Tennessee.
- Betty Joe married Joe Globe from Wisconsin and he is a veterinary inspector and they live in a suburb of Chicago.
Joe and Bernice lived in Reverie for seven or eight years, maybe longer, before moving to Albuquerque. Bernice suffered from asthma, so they made the move for health reasons. They also raised Billy, a son of John and Louise Doyle who still lives in Albuquerque. Joe and Bernice are now deceased.
The Smith families now hold reunions in Joe’s memory. These reunions have been going on for the past six years, either in Wilson or Osceola, with great success. The attendance has been near the 100 mark each year.
6: Carl Brook Smith married Inez Cook, and their children are: Carl hunter who lives in Florida. I do not know his wife’s name. Robert and his wife live in Mississippi. Billy lives in Huron, Tennessee. Waine (who, I suppose, must be the one Mable referred to as Peter) lives in Arkansas. Martha married a man with a service career (I don’t know which branch) now retired and back in the United States where they reside. C. B. married a man with a second time to Cleo and had three sons. C. B. died in Florida and was brought back to Bassett, Arkansas, for burial. Cleo and sons still live in Florida.
Inez lives in Mississippi with son Robert and his wife. Inez was also a good friend of mine back in Reverie days.
Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Smith passed away while I was still on the island. Mrs. Smith died July 10, 1934, and Mr. Smith died soon after the flood of 1937. I believe they are buried in Poplar Grove Cemetery in Drummonds.
7: Gracie Louise Smith married Hudson Cook and lives in Osceola. Their children are: James Cook who lives in Turrell, Arkansas; Thelma Cook who lives in Virginia. After her husband’s death she married Lee Bidwell and they had one son George Bidwell. After his death she married James Lipford and their children are Nancy Lipford and Deborah Lipford.
Mrs. Minnie Smith had two brothers and a sister that visited the island at times, Ed Hearn, Ethridge Hearn and Hattie Hearn Boyd. Mr. Dock Boyd lived and worked on the island for several years, but Mrs. Hearn only visited with her three children, Christine, Dorothy and a son who was blind.
Doyle and Katie Moore and children Cecil and Billy Gene. Mr. Doyle had three children by a previous marriage. Marie visited her Aunty Minnie Belle Byford on the island and met Phelan and “zing” another wedding. It must have been the atmosphere of Reverie. However, Floyd and Wilson got away without getting “hitched.” Lucky? Maybe. Maybe not.
Mr. and Mrs. Jim Walker came to the island from somewhere near Dyersburg, Tennessee, n the late winter or early spring of 1932. Their children were: Ila May, James and Christine “Tina”.
1: Ila May married George Lee Hampton from Wynne, Arkansas on May 29, 1937. They left the island that fall to make their home in Vandale, Arkansas, until 1955. They moved to Warren, Arkansas, where Ila May still lives. George passed away February 13, 1978. George was born in Halls, Tennessee. Their children were Billy Walker Hampton, born November 19, 1938, and married to Shirley Graves on December 23, 1957. He is employed with Pot Latch L. Company and they have two adopted children ages 17 and 19. Georgia Ann Hampton, born March 19, 1940, married Kenneth Williams on January 19, 1959. They have one daughter, Debora Lynne Williams Garrison, and they are half owners of a gas station. Betty Lou Hampton, born July 7, 1942, married James Morgan on July 3, 1961. He is vice president of AFC Company, repairing railroad cars and tanks. They have two sons, Scott and Lance. They live in Longview, Texas. Phillip Gordon Hampton, born May 12, 1950, married Suzanne Henderson June 18, 1975. They have one daughter Keshia, age seven. They live in Ore City, Texas, and he is a paint inspector for a company that repairs railroad cars.
2: James Walker married Mary Crook in Wilson where Mary still lives. James passed away in April of 1986. I don’t know the names of their children.
3: Christine Walker married Travis Welch in Wilson and they had one son. Tena married the second time in Wilson to Floyd Hill and they had two children, Marty Hill and a daughter whose name I do not know. Both live in pine Bluff, Arkansas.
Mr. and Mrs. Walker, like a lot of other families, lost all their belongings in the 1937 flood. I remember Mrs. Walker as being very nice to talk to and a very neat housekeeper.
The first day the Walkers moved to the island, Ila May came to our well to draw a bucket of water and that night two negroes were killed at the boarding house, which was at the mound place, and were laid out on a crap table in an old shed out from the house a ways. Mr. Walker, after seeing this unusual sight the next day was ready to pack up and head back to the hills.
He had made a trade to work for my brother Bill, and Ila said, “Bill had a time talking him into staying.” Ila May became one of my best friends, and made doll clothes for me.
If Mr. Ed McNair and his family lived on the island it was before my time, but he worked on the island and two of his sons came to see him there.
I know my folds knew Mr. Ed’s family. I met his wife when I was about 14 years old. I knew his son Glenn for a long time and I met his son Kelly after we moved to Wilson.
His wife was Mrs. Clementine “Clemy” McNair. his daughter was Pansy and two sons were Bruce and Bernard. Mr. Ed worked for brother Les on several occasions. He also visited with Papa for a week or so when I was a small girl.
The Cash Family
Information for this was provided by Marie Moore Cash.
Mr. and Mrs. Horace Phelan Cash Sr., and their children were Horace Phelan Jr. (family listed below). Georgia Louise, who married James Billings and had no children. They were divorced before her death. William Dobbins married Nadine Green from Bemis, Tennessee. They had no children. Wilbur Franklin. Ora Frances who never married.
Horace Phelan Cash Jr., married Marie Moore from Wynne, Arkansas on November 27, 1930. There children were Peggy Ann, born January 29, 1932, and died December 6, 1932, and is buried in the family cemetery in Poplar Grove at Drummonds. Horace Phelan Cash III, born May 25, 1934, in Reverie, went to high school in Wilson but before he finished he secretly married Virginia Ellen Bird and in a few months when it was announced, her parents had it annulled. She went to California and he finished school, winning a football scholarship to the college of his choice. He turned it down and later married Wanda Johnson. They had three daughters, Connie Ann, born July 14, 1952, and married Danny Riley and had two children: Justin Cash Riley, born April 13, 1978, Dylen Howard Riley, born September 24, 1980. Margie Lynn, born February 6, 1954, married Artie Wilson. Vickie Jeanene, born December 22, 1954, married Michole Sides and they have one son Michole Berry Sides born July 22, 1978. H. P. and Wanda were divorced and in several years, H. P. married Patty Roberson. H. P. was in an accident that left him with a broken spinal cord in 1954. he has been in a wheel chair ever since.
John Franklin Cash, born October 16, 1937, in Reverie. He graduated from Wilson High School, entered college at Ole Miss but after a while he decided to come back home. Soon after coming home he married Virginia Scarbough. They had a daughter Cheryl Marie. In a year or so the marriage ended in divorce. Phelan and Marie raised Cheryl from age two until she graduated from college. Cheryl married Gary Cathey and they have two children, John Curtis Cathey and Virginia Leigh Cathey. Cheryl teaches school at Gosnell School in Blytheville, Arkansas. Gary works for Southwestern Belle Telephone Company. John Franklin later met and married a telephone operator from West Memphis. They met through a telephone conversation. I guess you could say it was a telephone romance. Her name was Nell Adams. They had one daughter, Phillis. The marriage ended in divorce. John later married Dorothy Cissell and they had two sons: John F. Cash Jr., still single, and Horace Phelan “Hank” Cash IV who married just out of high school. The marriage ended in divorce. Phillis Cash married a man from West Memphis by the name of Monte Crisco.
John Franklin Cash died July 16, 1979, and is buried in the family cemetery of Poplar Grove in Drummonds. Dorothy, his wife, died several years later and also is buried in Poplar Grove.
Ozelle Marie Cash, born April 6, 1945, married Mike Warhurst in her junior year in high school in Wilson. After Tracey Marie was born, Ozella went back to school in Keiser, Arkansas, and graduated. Leslie Ann was born 10 years later. Tracey married Timothy LaReece Corder and was attending Memphis State University at the time of her wedding. Timothy is a pro baseball player with the Boston Red Sox. They have no children.
James Franklin “Dock” Flanigan met Emma Sue Turner when she came to the island in the early 1920s to teach school. Dock lived on the foot at the time and Miss Turner taught school on the head. They were married a few years later. they had one adopted daughter Emma jean. Jean was a small child when they left the island. Dock’s brothers and stepmother visited sometimes on the island, Pat and Henry Flanigan and “Miss Kate.”
Emma Sue’s two younger brothers Dallas and Alfred lived with them sometimes. Then in 1932 Mr. and Mrs. Turner moved to the island. Their children living at home then were Dallas, Alfred, Rowena, Virginia and Virgil (twins) and Alice. Virginia, Virgil and Alice went to school on the island.
The winds off the river made the winters very cold on the island and we wore long underwear and long cotton stockings, but when Alice came to school she wore anklets and short dresses. I can still hear Cordie saying, “She ought to freeze her darn little end off.”
The Flanigans and Turners left the island in January of 1935.
There were a lot of families who came to the island, staying only a year or two.
The Jet Smith family had four daughters, Pearl Smith who married Lum Smith (no relation) and had two daughters, Emma May and one whose name I do not know. Lucile Smith married John Helbert. I don’t know who Mary Alice or the little girl married.
The Ira Cates fmaily lived on the head and worked for Dock Flanigan. Ira had a sister to visit, Dorothy Cates.
Roy Moore and wife Martha and little daughter lived on the head also for a while.
Frankie Sides and wife Dorenda and two children lived on the foot and worked for Bill Byford.
Erskine Sides and cousin Mollie and her daughter Ruby lived on the foot. Ruby married Luther Walsh. They had two children when they left the island.
Alabama Walsh and two sons Luther and Dewey worked on the foot of the island.
Jess and Bertha Sherman lived on the foot of the island.
Mr. John Gladen never exactly lived on the island. He just came and went, staying with whoever invited him. He had two sons, Jessie and Doug.
Mr. John shepherd lived on the foot. His children were John, Ruby who married Buck Phelps and had two girls; Linnie who married Felix Sides, and Vernon “Penny” Shepherd who married Gladys Boothe.
Mrs. Annie Hindman and daughter Louil lived on the island for a few years.
Mr. Dennis and Miss Bertha Hatfield (deceased) whose children were: Ellie Lee who married Bill Byford (family history elsewhere in the book), Charlie who married Willie Maddox, and had a son. Brooksie who married a Tillman. Mary Emma who died while still on the island. Eunice married Leroy Leverett (deceased).
Miss Bertha’s papa, Charley Wilson, and brother Arnold Wilson lived on the island some. Arnold died htere when I was a small girl.
Colored Families in Reverie
Mack Stevens. I never knew his wife but I did know his son Will and his wife Annie and son Hardy. These people were very well thought of. Mack, Will and Annie were all good and caring friends of my Papa.
Annie cooked for us after Will died. She and Hardy would stay in a room Papa fixed especially for them. Annie was a very good cook and housekeeper. She was good and understanding. I know because Joe and Henry would aggravate and tease Hardy every chance they got, but Annie would always take it good naturedly. Things were not too pleasant for Annie after she married the second time.
Joe and Ida “Doss” Whitson were liked by quite a few people, too. Children were Ed, Lena, Sadie, Clarence “Daton”, Willie, Elbert, Laurence, Ruby and Karey.
Doss used to tell me about when my sister Dixie first married, her three eldest children would go over to Miss Dixon’s (that’s what they called Sister) to play every day. Then after about a year and a half, their visits dwindled down to once in a while. So one day Doss asked them why they had stopped going over to see Miss Dixon. They said, “Ah, Miss Dixon done got cross and no fun.”
The truth was that Miss Dixon was going to have a baby. Of course Doss knew and had a big laugh about it when she told Miss Dixie about what the children said.
There were lots of other colored families but not as close knit or family-oriented as the Stevens or the Whitsons.
There was one colored family that came there after I was a teenager which came close to being like the Stevens and the Whitsons. Slim Betts and his wife Sweet. Of course their children were grown when they came there. Betty married Son Barney and they had a daughter who died while she was still a baby. Betty and their baby were just as clean and neat as could be. Sweet was clean and neat and kept a neat house. Della married Harvey Howard. John L. had a son by Joe Harry Howard but I don’t know if they ever married or not. Willie, I never knew who she was before she married. She lived on the island since I can remember. I suppose she married a Blackburn the first time because she had a son named Freddie Blackburn. She used to talk about Jelly Bean as one of her men friends (I never know him), Dock Adams, Clay Franklin and then she married one younger than she and lived with him for quite a few years, Elbert Lee.
There was Sam and Elviria Small, Red and Gracie, Ed and Ella Whitson, Little Willie and Popeye, Bump and Lizabeth (Henry Bumpas), John and Annie Preston, the Heaston families, Sanko Sloan, Aunt Mandy Sloan, Mary Pitts, Sid Gyton, Elic and Nettie Kid, Dony, Vasti, Dora, Uncle Coon and Aunt Sal Jackson, Susie Robertson and daughter, Calie. Susie cooked for Papa.
The Rogers family lived across the store levy and worked for Mr. Cash. Leroy and wife Margie Lee and their children Mattie Lee, Selester and Lonnie Mae. Mattie Lee married Wesley “Shorty” Pearson and they had one daughter Mildred Louise.
Families Visiting or Living There at One Time
There was also a Mrs. Dee Hardin and an older lady everyone called Granny Boyd. I remember her because Papa paid her board at Les and Minnie Belle’s and of course paid her a salary, too, to look after my baby brother after my mama died. He was only three months old.
All these I just mentioned I am sure at one time had families and homes on the island.
I remember Mrs. Ora Cash’s relatives visiting, but if they ever lived there it was before my time.
Her mother Mrs. Hattie Miller, sister Miss Marjorie Miller and brother Les Miller. Mr. Les lived there. He stayed with Mr. and Mrs. Cash sometimes. I just can’t remember if he lived on the island while he and Miss Margaret were married or not.
Miss Margaret’s father lived there or rather he worked for different families and I suppose he stayed either in a bunk house, taking his meals with the family, or batched. I guess Mrs. Taylor had passed on before my time. Mr. Taylor and his brother L. P. worked for my brother Les at one time.
Another Taylor lived on the island when I was a small child but I don’t think they were related. Mr. Albert Taylor’s wife had also passed on before my time. He had a daughter named Maude. I never knew her either.
The Lawson Family
Mr. and Mrs. Riley Lawson and their children came to the island around 1931. They came from Alabama. Their children were: Benjamin Luther, Dewey, Bertie, Ruby, Bill, James, Earl, Tad, Martha, who died soon after they came to the island and Bobby Lee who was born about two years after they came to the island. Ben left to join the C. C. camp about 1935. I don’t know but I don’t believe the family ever came back after the 1937 flood.
In writing about the families that once lived in the old Edwards house, I left out a family that played an important part (that is, the husband did) in getting people to safety during the 1937 flood. Wes Walker and his wife Lola Pearl and their three children, Dorothy Bell and the twin boys Roy and Troy. Mr. Wes took his family back to Randolph to be with her parents while he ran the boat that took quite a few people to safety, leaving his own household belongings to the mercy of the flood.
I don’t believe Mrs. Walker and the children returned to the island after the flood. Mr. Wes would work, taking his meals in our home and staying nights in the bunk house like the rest of the day workers. On weekends he would return to Randolph to be with his family. Mr. Wes was not just a work hand for Les. He was a good friend of the family, as well. Many years after he left the island he died a tragic death while driving a gas truck that blew up.
John Euel Doyle married Carrie Smith Vanhook. They divorced in the late 1930s or early 1940s and he married Louise Long. they had twins and Louise died. I believe John’s sister Bernice Doyle Smith raised or at least kept the twins for a time.
Malcolm Doyle married Sadie Morris and they had three boys, Robert, Floyd and Clyde, as I remember.
I remember Malcolm and Sadie and their family as being so very neat and nice, too. Sadie had a brother named Joe Morris. Beatrice Doyle married Bill Deason the first time. They had no children. Her second marriage was to Jeff Vaden and they had no children but Jeff had three children by a previous marriage, Elizabeth “Snooks”, Junior and a smaller girl whose name I do not remember. Bernice Doyle married Joe Smith and their history is listed under the Smith history. Bernice was a very good friend of mine.
The Push Family
Mr. Will and Mrs. Agnes Push and their children were Albert and Woodrow. Albert married Lena Wood and their children were Thelma Louise, Marie, Willie May, Annie Muriel, Agnes Virginia, twin boys and another whose name I do not recall.
Woodrow married Geneive Handley and their children were Ruben and another whose name I do not remember. Miss Ag was married to Mr. Stewart when I first remember this family.
There were lots of people who probably lived on the island before my time and came back to visit after I was old enough to remember.
Like Mrs. Mattie Free and her son Willie. I don’t know if they were related to Miss Ag or not but I believe so because when they came back to visit they stayed at her home or at least that’s how I remember.
I remember a Mrs. Goforth visiting with Virge Goforth and wife and I think she must have been his stepmother because I also vaguely remember that she was Mrs. Doyle first; John, Malcolm, Beatrice and Bernice’s mother.
The Tom Carr Family
Mr. Tom and Mrs. Catherine Carr and his four sons came to the island about 1931. Willard married Adadean Cotton. Deward married Linnie Smith and their family is listed under the Smith history. Dalton married Vella Campbell and they had one daughter, Geraldean. Dalton was killed in World War II. Henry Carr married Barbara “Bobby” Cotton and I think they had three or four boys. After Mr. Tom and Miss Catherine divorced, Mr. Tom married a Mrs. Clara Leroy. Both are buried in Poplar Grove Cemetery. Willard’s wife Adadean was killed in an airplane crash in Reverie.
The Cotton Family
Mr. and Mrs. Cotton came to the island sometime in the 1930s. Their children: Raye, Adadean, Barbara “Bobby”, Bud, Tom Ed, Joann and Ora Frances. Adadean and Bobby’s histories are listed under the Carr history. I don’t know about the others.
The Bob Cook Family
Their children that lived on the island were: Claude Cook who married Mary Ellen Godsey and their family history is listed under the Godsey history. Edith married Ed Smith and their history is listed under the Smith history. Inez and Hudson married into the Smith family and their history is also under the Smith family. i don’t know who Catheryn Cook married.
The Lum Smith Family
I never knew Mr. Lum Smith’s first wife but his children were: Ollie who married Paul “Juck” Godsey and their children were: Jay, Bud, Wilbur, Paul Jr. and Maydean. They had other children after they left the island but I never knew them. Bert Smith I believe married a Craig girl from Memphis. I never knew her. Bill Smith married Lena Smith (no relation). I believe she was from Arkansas or Missouri. They had two sons to the best of my knowledge.
Juck, Paul Jr. and Bill were all killed when the boat they worked on blew up a very long time ago.
Marvin Liked to Play Poker
Marvin Marshall came to the island about 1929. My Papa went to Memphis to find someone to help out on the farm and he brought Marvin back with him.
Marvin proved to be a good worker and a helpful friend. He could cook and do housework as well as a woman. He was almost a second parent to Dub and me. Marvin worked back and forth in our families from papa to Les or Bill before he worked anywhere else.
One time when Marvin was working for us as a field hand we had a cook named Feanie Morris. She and Marvin were kind of sweet on each other. Marvin liked to play poker and Mrs. Morris had saved up a little money so she staked him in a poker game and Marvin lost all her savings.
She cried and cried about it and several of the menfolk, especially Ernie R., teased and called Marvin “Old Stakes.” That name, among others, stuck with him as long as I remember. I believe Marvin was formerly from Texas.
After Dallas and I married and went back to the island to farm, Marvin stayed with us and helped wherever he was needed most. He really helped us that year. Our baby daughter liked him and he seemed to adore her.
Marvin married after I left the island in 1937 but was separated when J. D. and I went back in 1939. He married Lucille Crook Hardin and I think they had a boy and a girl.
Dan and Laura Mae Pilkington
I only knew two of the children by name, Sam and John. Laura Mae was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. sanders. Mrs. Sanders was a daughter of Mr. Tom Wilson. Mr. Tom had a son named Bill. Bill had two daughters, Irene, who married Herbert Starnes, and I can’t remember the name of the other daughter. Herbert had a brother named Bill. I never really knew Bill. I believe his wife’s name was Myrtle. Mr. Tom Wilson was the one with the general store.
There was another Tom Wilson that visited the island but I don’t think he was related to these Wilsons. he was a brother to Charley Wilson and the father of Earl Wilson from Drummonds.
Mr. George Nelson and son Edward were on the island from time to time. I don’t know who they worked for.
John Boothe Family
Mr. John Boothe was a good man who knew what tragedy and sorrow were like. I heard my Papa tell about how one night as Mrs. Boothe rocked her young son a man slipped to the window and shot through the window and killed her.
It was an accident or rather the man the bullet was meant for was either a visitor that night or was staying with the Boothe family. This happened before my time on the island.
The Boothe children were: Leck, Bo, Gladys and Emma who died in the 1920s, and Badeye (I never knew his real name). They lived on the foot of the island and while I never knew Mrs. Boothe, I did know Mr. Boothe and the children.
Mr. John drowned on the back side of the island in the chute one Sunday afternoon in 1936. I don’t think the children returned to the island after the 1937 flood.
Melvin and Evie Kesler
The Keslers came to Reverie about 1934 and I believe they came from Island 34. I know they lived at one time on that island. Their children were: 1: Paul, 2: Luther “Dago”, 3: Dorothy, 4: Mary Lou.
Mr. and Mrs. Pink Long
they came to the island in 1935 possibly. Their children were: 1: Buddy, 2: Louise, 3: J. K.
Mr. and Mrs. Johnny Land
Mr. Land was on the island for short periods of time but was married and living on the head of the island when Dallas and I went back over there to live in 1939 or 1940.
Olen and Ethyl Taylor and Others
Ethel had a son J. W. Hambick. J. W. married Virginia Smallwood from Walnut, Mississippi and they had one daughter Peggy.
Mrs. Sophia Willis had two children, Griffin and Bernice. Mrs. Willis was a sister of Mr. Tom Carr.
Erby Baker and wife Thelma lived on the Push place for a while.
The Crook Families
The crooks, like so many other, came to the island in the early 1930s. As I could not get the members of these families that are left to send me their history I am writing as I can from what I remember. I hope they will approve.
Mr. and Mrs. Crook, their sons and daughters:
- Clarence Crook and wife Beulah and their children. Miss Beulah had a son and a daughter by a previous marriage: Lucile Leslie who married Jack Hardin and had a daughter, Lorene, and Maken “Boots” Leslie Crook who drowned in 1933. Clarence and Beulah’s children:
- 1: Beatrice, who married Benny Deason.
- 2: Laverne, who married Dub Byford.
- 3: Oney Jean. I never knew who she married.
- 2: Nathan Crook and wife Margie and their children:
- 1: Larence, who married Betty Starnes
- 2: Mary who married Jimmy Walker.
- 3: Ruby Crook. I don’t know who her husband was but I believe they had a girl and a boy.
- 4: The youngest Crook son was J. C. or J. T. and his wife Mamie and I think they had two children.
I believe there were five Owens sisters and one brother. Mrs. Beulah Owens Crook, Mrs. Margie Owens Crook, Mrs. Glaze was an Owens. She and her husband and children lived on the island for a while. Kathryn Owens married after she came to the island. She married Johnny Mauppins formerly of Wynne. He came to the island also in the early 1930s, and was a cousin of Katie Pitman Moore. Kathryn and Johnny had several children.
Geneva Owens married Vanas Blackwood and their history is under the Blackwood family history. Their brother was Dovie Owens and his wife Mattie. they also lived only al short time on the island or maybe they only visited. If any of this is incorrect I apologize.
The Hamp Woods Family
Mr. Hamp and Mrs. Lucy McKee Woods had eight children to my knowledge.
Rosie, who married the first time to a Parimore from Drummonds, and they had a daughter named Virginia “Gen”. I believe Rosie married Buster Donaldson the second time. I don’t know if they had any children or not.
Lena married Albert Push and her history is listed under the Push history.
Joe married a Billings, a nurse, and I believe her given name was Inez. Seems like they had one daughter.
Wes didn’t marry until late in life. He married Geneive Handley Push. I believe they married only a few years before he died.
Lucy married Bill Vaden.
Little Boy – that’s the only name I ever knew him by, never married to my knowledge.
I believe Ora May died in infancy. And I don’t know who Ruby married.
Mr. Hamp played the fiddle sometimes at dances.
My brother Henry and Wes would get on the dance floor and dance together with old brogan shoes on. I think everyone would love to have pushed them off the floor.
Mr. and Mrs. Tony Atchley came from Alabama in the early 1940s to Reverie. I didn’t know all their children. I shall try to name the ones I do know. If some are incorrect I apologize.
Seems like there was: J. T. Atchley, Jamie, R. B., Tony Jr., Cathryn, Marie and Woody. Tony Jr. and Marie married into the Godsey family and their histories are listed under the Godsey family. Cathryn marred into the Byford Family and she is listed under the Byford history.
Mr. Andy Stroud visited the island. He was from Frenchman’s Bayou, Arkansas, and a friend of Papa’s.
There was a Mr. Jim Slough, also Bertha Slough. I don’t know if they visited or if they lived on the island before my time.
Dr. Eldon Fairley Tells of His Years As Doctor, Friend and Part-Time Teacher to the Islanders
I started practicing medicine with Dr. N. B. Ellis in Wilson, Arkansas, August 13, 1946. I started with a stethoscope, fountain pen, and a borrowed prescription pad. Very shortly, I learned about Island 35, a part of Tennessee but more accessible to Arkansas.
All kinds of controversial stories were told about “the island”, its people, its life, its problems, its hardships, etc. Life was cheap on the island. It was strictly a “survival of the fittest” situation. Each person was a law unto himself, and island people lived close to nature. People worked hard all week, and got “drunk” on the week-end. I learned that there were a couple of “road houses” on the island, and at the same time there was a well attended school and church there. With these contrasting statements, I indeed was a little puzzled, perhaps a little frightened, as I anticipated seeing and meeting the “island” and its people.
Imagine my surprise when the first island patient to come to my office during these initial days and weeks was 12-year-old H. P. Cash, a fine looking youth ready to enter junior high school. He told me that his family lived on Island 35, known as Reverie, Tennessee. I felt that he compared quite favorably with the other 12 and 13-year-olds I had seen around town. He told me more about life on the island. He explained that five or six months out of the year, boats had to be used to travel between Arkansas and Reverie. During the summer usually one could drive over. H. P.’s appearance, his mannerly and respectful attitude and his explanations did much to remove any fears I might have of making a call on the island.
Shortly, I began to meet island people, to see them in the office and to make calls to their homes. They seemed to accept the “young, new doctor in Wilson” more readily than the old-lined towns people. One by one, family by family, I began to meet the “islanders”.
I soon found that they were hardy individuals with strong feelings. They were hard workers fully willing to give the “boss” a day’s work for his money. They shared a sense of “togetherness” always happy with another’s good fortune and, more importantly, helpful and concerned when misfortune or grief struck a neighbor. They were to my way of thinking the “salt of the earth”, the kind of people who had made this country great.
This sharing and caring served me well during my eleven years of making calls to the island in all kinds of weather, traveling by car, tractor, trailer, boat, horseback and once or twice on a man’s back. In sickness there was always plenty of help – men to come for the doctor and to get him over there and women to help in the sick room or in the kitchen.
Oh, yes, the doctor most always had a good hot cup of coffee and a snack. One could not help but be impressed with the kindness and “good Samaritan” attitude of these plain unaffected people. I developed a close and lasting affection for them, and I’m egotistical enough to feel that it was mutual.
Reverie, or Island 35, certainly had its individuals. There was Mrs. Ora Cash, the grand lady and postmistress who lived in the big house on high ground not far from the landing. She was a strong character toughened by a lifetime spent on the island. Then there was her son, Mr. Phelan, heir to the title “squire” whom the islanders evoked to for advice and to represent them and take care of their business at the County seat in Covington, Tennessee. His sweet wife Marie was and is every inch a lady, a royal wife, and a good mother. More than once I have finished out a cold, frozen winter’s night at their home and faced joyfully country ham, eggs, hot biscuits, gravy, preserves, hot coffee in the morning. Bill was Phelan’s more “happy go lucky” brother. Round, jovial Mr. Tom Carr, whom I called Uncle Tom, who liked his week-end drinks with his quiet unassuming wife, “Miss Clara”, who was always ready to help in any case of sickness.
Outspoken Mrs. Gertrude Cotton was always in the center of any conversation and there was never any doubt of where she stood on any issue. Carrie Bidwell was always there when a “birthing” was about to take place and often she had the job done when the doctor got there. Jolly, plump Mrs. Sinnie Campbell was always there when help was needed and always had plenty of hot water for delivery cases.
Mr. Tony Atchley even then was having trouble with his arthritis. His family of children furnished marital mates to several other families on the island – Godseys, Byfords Smiths. Mrs. Dixie Godsey, proud of her island roots, independent and strong, raised her family of children on the foot of the island. Also, grandmother Craig, Miss Mildred, was there part of the time with her son George. The list goes on – the Smiths, Fraleys, Atchleys, Byfords, Leveritts, Murphys, Starnes, Crooks, Nathan and Clarence, Blackwoods, Robert Taylor and his brother-in-law, Ned Kennedy.
A few instances, some amusing and some sad and tragic might be appropriate.
One of the first expectant mothers who came to the “new doctor” was Veller Campbell Godsey. I calculated her date of expectancy and it came out to be December 25, 1946. Throughout the fall, I ventured that this would be the one case to prove my accuracy. Sure enough, about 11:30 p.m. Christmas Eve a call came to my parents’ home in Osceola where I had gone for the holiday. The voice on the telephone said, “Mrs. Godsey is in labor on the island.”
So, out of a warm bed I came and met the caller at the Wilson Motor Company. The caller (and my escort) already had a taste of “Christmas Spirits” and was feeling no pain. The river was falling, and when we finally got to the island side, there was 300 yards of pure muck between us and the solid land. that poor man carried me and my bag on his back through that mess. We got on a waiting tractor and rode to the house on the foot of the island.
We arrived there about 2 a.m. Christmas morning. I went to work with the patient and my partner went to sleep. The baby was born about 6 a.m. and I immediately thought that I’d get home for Christmas after all. I have always had a child’s excitement and joy over Christmas. I awakened the driver and told him I was ready to leave.
He said, “I’ve got to go and find some tractor fuel.”
Naturally I bit my lower lip to refrain from saying anything. Finally he returned with the fuel and we were down at the chute at 7:30 a.m. to find that the water had fallen so much in those few hours that our boat was sitting in muck and the water’s edge was well beyond it. We finally got the boat out to the water and the motor wouldn’t budge. He tried hard but I feared he might ruin the motor if he got mud in it. We paddled and pushed and finally reached the Arkansas side about 10 a.m.
I was so excited about finally getting home for my family’s Christmas that I jumped in the car, stepped on the accelerator, hit a mud puddle and drowned my motor. There I sat at 10:15 a.m. Christmas Morning of 1946.
A certain family had asked me several times to eat Sunday dinner with them. I had eaten that good, home country cooking on the island at several homes, so I told them to meet me at the Arkansas side right at noon, I’d come to the river directly form church. They met me as planned and I had visions of fried chicken, fresh vegetables, etc. Suddenly, as we were crossing the water, one of the boys said, “We’ve got a surprise for you.” What’s that? I said. “We have a nice big juicy coon for dinner,” was the answer.
To be sure, my feathers fell. I can truthfully say that I would not have been a good pioneer as far as eating is concerned. To add to my distress, when we got to the house the full carcass was in the middle of the table. I tried to be brave – the more I chewed, the bigger it got. I was so pleased to learn there was some leftover fried chicken!
I was on the island for a delivery one day, and as I was being driven back to the landing a man in the last house came out, waving us down.
“Since you’re here, Doc, you might as well check my wife,” Ned Kennedy said.
Less then five minutes after I entered that house I had delivered a baby.
Rev. and Mrs. Eldon Cornett were the first couple to serve the dual duties of teachers and minister. Mrs. Cornett was an experienced teacher, having taught previously in Indiana. They added much to the school, giving the students much more than reading, writing and arithmetic. Because of the Cornett’s obvious interest, and because of my own interest and love of the island, I became very interested in the school. We instituted a health program, immunizations, special talks on health problems, personal care, etc. Also, at times, I was able to substitute for Mr. Cornett when he was away.