These few pages of some of the many experiences through which I have passed in the journey of a long life, are being printed as a memento for my family and posterity.
Also, they are dedicated to struggling young preachers who feel that they are having a difficult hill to climb, and hardships too much to be borne.
And to my many friends; who are the treasure of my life, and who have so often helped to lighten the burdens that were weighing me down, I inscribe these pages as a token of my love and appreciation.
Trusting that these brief pages may "brighten the corner" for some struggling soul, I send them forth on their humble mission. J. H. GRIME. Lebanon, Tenn., June 30, 1930.
Genealogy In a log cabin three miles southwest of Cookeville, Putnam County, Tennessee, the subject of this narrative first saw the light of day, July 29, 1851. He was the son of John and Lois (Smith) Grime, and the youngest of a family of nine children. He was christened when born, with the name, John Harvey.
Early Home In the southern part of Putnam County lay a large district of unbroken forest, that had been entered by a man by the name of King, when this section belonged to North Carolina; before Tennessee was a State. When in 1853, this large entry was put on the market, John Grime bought a section of 700 acres in the heart of this uninhabited section, bordering on the waters of a small river known as Falling-Water.
The surface of this plat of land was broken, approaching the picturesque. Through the center ran a range of limestone bluffs in the side of which opened a large cavern. In the various hollows from the foot of these hills, burst forth about fifty bold running springs of as fine water, mainly free-stone, as ever ran out of the ground.
Perhaps no piece of land was ever covered with a heavier, or more valuable, growth of forest timber, consisting mainly of Walr-nnt, Poplar, Chestnut and the various kinds of Oak.
This section abounded with game, consisting of Deer, Turkey, Wild-cat, Fox, Coon, Possum and Mink, while an occasional Wolf, Bear and Panther would wander down from the mountain ranges.
The above describes the prospect for the future home of the Grime family. The surrounding lands of this large entry were of a similar nature. These lands were purchased for a trifle, and settled by poor people, as the men of means were afraid to risk the title. With these surroundings, this section developed very slowly, placing it some fifty years behind other sections.
It was in the fall of 1853 when the subject of this sketch was two years old that his father, John Grime, loaded a wagon with tools and provisions, drawn by oxen, a black boy for a driver, and some other hands, plunged into this wilderness to build a home. After pulling through an undisturbed forest for a whole day, the workmen cutting away the under-brush for the team to pass, late in the afternoon they reached their destination near a delightful spring, and struck camp by splitting some rails and riving some boards out of which a pen was built, and straw that had been brought
along was thrown in it for sleeping purposes. The faithful oxen were belled and turned loose to graze upon the Nimble-will grass that grew luxuriantly on the hillsides.
When nightfall came, on the surrounding hills could be heard the Wild-cats, Foxes, and Coons contesting their rights. These with owls on many trees, made night somewhat hideous. One of the workmen, Lay Hopkins by name, amused himself with the black boy, Nick, describing what an awful place it was. In addition to what could be heard, he pictured two fabulous monsters, one be denominated a "Yaho" and the other a "Jigamaja." He described them as having fiery eyes, and great teeth and claws; that they made their home in a cave close by and that they were especially fond of "niggers." That "niggers" were their special diet. At day light next morning, the black boy was sent to the woods to get the oxen for the day's work. But he had not gone far before he returned in double-quick, looking ashy, stating what a monstrous "Jigamaja" he had seen out in the hollow. But when the old man had worked on him a little he decided that there was a worse monster in camp than in the woods. So he soon returned with the oxen, but suffice it to say that he spent no unnecessary time in the woods.
That day a cabin was erected of round logs and partly covered in, the next day a stick and clay chimney was built, and a puncheon floor was laid and boards nailed over the cracks. The third day Mother and part of the family were moved in and we called it home. A few days later and another cabin with puncheon floor and stick and clay chimney was ready, and some lots fenced in, and the entire family was moved. A few days more and a barn, a real log barn, was completed and then the fight began in earnest to open and fence enough new land to make bread and meat for another year. Such were the surroundings of my early days, as related to me by my parents and other members of the family.
Early Recollections My father (John Grime) was of German extraction, and was born in Ashe County, North Carolina, August 24, 1809. When he was seven years old his father, Jacob Grime, left the "Tar-heel State," for western civilization. Seven years were spent in the state of Indiana. In 1823 when John was 14 years old they moved to Boyle County, Kentucky, where he reached his majority, and was married to Margaret Smith, settling in Adair County, Ky., later moving to what is now Putnam County, Tenn. To this union one son and six daughters were born, and then the wife of his youth died. He was again married to Lois Smith of Clinton County, Ky. To this union two children were born, one daughter, Mary P., and one son, John Harvey - the subject of this sketch.
Parentage My father was a man of strong native intellect and great foresight, yet unlettered and destitute of social polish, and stubborn and unyielding in disposition. My mother was of English extraction, intellectual, with the finer
tastes, and a fair degree of culture and polish. They were both religiously inclined. Such were the surroundings of my earliest recollections.
My father's only ambition was that I should plow the soil as a farmer, and to this end, that I should learn to read and write and calculate in simple numbers. My father believed in turning every thing to practical account.
Early Surroundings and Customs In this new section of country, in which I grew to manhood, in my boyhood days all the residences, school houses, and church houses, without exception, were built of logs, and practically all were cabin in style. The majority of homes had the same apartment for living, cooking, eating and sleeping. That is, a single room cabin answered all purposes. Those were considered fortunate who had a separate room or cabin in which to cook and eat. Such a thing as a cooking stove was unknown in the community. I was nearly grown before a cooking stove ever came into my father's home. Matches were unknown in those days. We were expected to keep fire in the fire-place the year round, and if any one happened to be so unfortunate as to let it go out, he must either go to a neighbor and borrow a new supply, or manufacture it by some device. Neighbors were rarely ever in those days closer than a mile. One of three devices were used to catch fire. Those who owned a flint-lock gun would "flash powder in the pan" and ignite something easily caught, or he would take a flint and the back of his pocket knife and strike a spark into powder or dry cotton, and thus start a fire. Or should it be a poor widow that had neither gun nor knife, she would take a cotton thread and put it over the spindle or whirl of her spinning wheel, she holding both ends and turning the wheel fast enough for the friction to fire the string and burn it in two, with which she would fire some dry cotton. Such were some of the crude methods of living in those days.
Do you ask how they cooked without a stove? They had all sorts of fire-wood, and in those broad fire-places that would take in wood from four to six feet in length, they had a pot rack, on which a number of vessels could be hung to boil their vegetables of various kinds. To bake their potatoes and corn-dodger, (for very few ever had a biscuit) they called the old-fashioned skillet into requisition, and coals were drawn out on the broad hearth for that purpose.
The mode of travel in that section in those early days was on foot or horseback. My father being a mechanic, built him a two-horse "Carry-all," the only conveyance of the kind within my knowledge. A large per cent of the people walked to church, and all, any diszance, walked to school.
My father was one of the most industrious men I ever knew. He worked every day the year round except Sunday. He had a job for ail hands every day. The weather did not interfere. My father was a genius in mechanism. He made anything he wanted, in wood, iron, or leather. When it rained, he found a Job for all
hands under shelter. The negro man was a good workman, and made anything desired in wood, iron, or leather. So there was always a job. When I was about 14 or 15 years old father said to me one day, "You need a pair of shoes, there is the leather and the tools." I knew the next pair of shoes I wore I would make them. It never got too cold to shoulder our axes and go to the woods to clear land, make rails or chop wood. We did our hauling with oxen. When it snowed I knew my job was to yoke up the oxen and drag up wood. Such a thing as a holiday was not known at my father's. My job was from early Monday morning till the stars shown Saturday night. Christmas day before I was married in February, we killed and salted 20 hogs, of the "Razor-back" type.
Youthful Occupation Peradventure someone is curious to know how early in life I began to labor. When I was about five years old my father bought me a light ax and I began to learn to chop wood. About the same time he built a platform in the blacksmith shop so I could reach the bellows handle, and I became the power to run the bellows for him when he had occasion to work in the shop. In the fall after I was seven in July, father fixed up a light bull-tongue plow with the handles low enough for me to reach them. He sowed down some rye, harnessed up "Old Ann," a gray mare, well on in the teens, that knew how to plow, and set me and her to plow it in. I never felt bigger in my life. Father went away and left me and Ann with the job. King George never felt his importance more than 1 did when I first took hold of those plow handles. But I soon tired out, and then I decided "Old Ann" wasn't doing right, so I proceeded to instruct her, and scold and slash her with the line. She soon got tired of my foolishness and started for the other end. On she went, dragging me along, I cried and bellowed "whoa," but stop she would not. But when we reached the end, I cried, looked far away and wondered why father had gone and left me in that fix. For days this was mine and Ann's job trying to teach each other how to plow. It has often provoked a smile in after years as I have thought of mine and Ann's experience.
The next spring I became a regular plow hand. Year after year new land was cleared and many be the times that my plow would hitch under a root and when it would break in two sometimes an end would spring back and hit me on the shin. Oh! how it would hurt. I would get down and rub my shin and cry a little, and then, sorry to say, sometimes make a rough wish about the old roots, (though glad to say I never did curse). I would then get up and go limping off for another tussle. I may say that my father in those early days used only the Bull-Tongue plow for all purposes.
In those days no such thing as a threshing machine to get out what little wheat was grown, was known in that section. I was a good sized boy before a thresher was ever seen there. Wheat was either tramped out by horses as my father did, or beaten out,with a flail. The majority did not grow any wheat, and never saw a biscuit
on their table; and those that did grow it had biscuit Sunday morning only.
Hospitality The hospitality of this people was unbounded. They would divide the last crust not only with a friend, but with a stranger. And you would be surprised at the comfort one would find in a night's lodging in one of those cabins. They were the happiest people I have ever known, because they were content with their surroundings.
Sunday There were no Sunday Schools anywhere in that section in my childhood. The Sunday that we had meeting at our home church, I went with my parents to church. The other three Sundays of the month, I spent in childish recreations. I had some nephews living about one mile away. We were together nearly every Sunday. We were great marksmen with the bow and arrow, and the bow and arrows made up a part of our Sunday equipment, especially in the summer season. I may say that none of our bunch used profanity or any other bad language. Our worst crime was the killing of a bird occasionally with the bow and arrow. In the summer we started Sunday morning, either for the cieek to fish and bathe, or in search of some wild berries which grew in profusion on the commons in that section, viz. Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Dewberries, Serviceberry, Huckleberry, Gooseberry, Mulberry, Chincupin, and Chestnut, various kinds of Grapes, Plums and Haws, and the delicious Muscadine. In the winter season we hunted rabbits and trapped birds.
It was announced that they were going to have Sunday School in a school house two and a half miles from our home. I was on nettles to go, and could hardly wait for Sunday to come. When Sunday came, I got up my "Blue-Back Speller" and rolled out on foot. A large crowd assembled. As I remember it, possibly a half dozen had Testaments, others had various kinds of readers and histories, while the little folks had the proverbial "Blue-Back Speller." We were first taken single file and our lessons heard, many of them by men and women who could scarcely spell themselves. We were then thrown into a class or classes and spelled some "by-heart." We were then dismissed and went out to play. The "grown-ups" remained in the house and sang. This school lasted for some three Sundays and died a natural death, and I went back to my bow and arrows.
As myself and comrades grew up into the teens we widened our horizon and began visiting neighboring churches, and thus attended church worship most every Sunday the year round. As a result we all came into the church in early life.
Social Life The social functions and customs were indeed crude, and sometimes mirth provoking. Yet on the other hand touching and sad.
The interdependence made neighborship a necessity. Indeed no one lived unto himself. Things that belonged to one man were in a measure at the command of the neighborhood. In this new section lands had to be cleared, houses built (out of logs), logs rolled, and
many other things that required help. No one thought of denying a neighbor when called on. And pay was never thought of much less mentioned, in these things. I suppose I would be safe in saying that in my growing up, my father's wagon and team (oxen) were used by neighbors many more than a thousand days and often I was sent along as a driver, and to help. Pay? no, never thought of.
We were 80 miles from a Rail Road, and many things that we depend on now were unknown then. Such things as field and garden seeds from abroad were unknown. They must be supplied at home. Hence the more frugal must of necessity carry the less thrifty. My mother always had a view to this in laying by her garden seeds, and when springtime came, supplied many that were destitute. The above facts will indicate the economic feature of their social life.
Entertainment at the family board was a delight. It was almost taken as an insult to be in a home near meal time and not eat with them. Strangers in those early days were never turned away or charged for lodging. I would not undertake to guess which ate the most at my father's home during my childhood, the family or so-journers. My mother always set a good table of that which was nutritious and wholesome. But many things that are considered essential now never found its way to the table in my early childhood. I was a good sized boy before I ever saw a stalk of sorghum. I was a bigger boy before I ever saw a sugar bowl on the table. I was nearly grown before I ever saw an orange or lemon, or raisin. I was married before I ever saw an organ or piano or railroad train.
Courtship and Marriage Yes: they courted and they married. It is true that it was not after the fashion of today, and it is true that the divorce courts were not burdened then as now. They, with few exceptions, went together to stay. Do you ask how they managed to court within those crude surroundings? Easy enough in the summer. There were two modes of travel with church goers, viz. on foot and horse-back. The foot method was preferable with young people, if the distance was under two or three miles, even though they had horses to ride. Some, though they had horses, did not have saddles for the women. Some would walk a distance of four or five miles. These long walks gave the young people every opportunity to talk over matters for future life. Young men who would come from a distance on horseback would lead their horses and walk for miles with their "sweet-hearts." This was a common scene on Sunday in the summertime. Another scene was common that may seem ridiculous to the reader. It was not uncommon for poor girls who had but one pair of shoes suitable for company, and knew how they came, and did not know where the next pair would come from, to go with bare feet to near the church, sit down, brush the dust from their feet, don their shoes and stockings, go in the church with grateful hearts and worship God devoutly. When the worship was over and they were out of the crowd they would shed their shoes and make the return trip with bare feet. If they had a young man to
accompany them he would proffer his services and carry their shoes for them.
Young lady, do you smile derisively at this? They were your grandmothers and great-grandmothers, and were noble, and ten-thousand times worthier than the girl who thinks or speaks reproachfully of their station in life. In the things referred to above, I played an active part.
In the winter season things did not run so smoothly. In many of the houses there was but one fireplace and what courting was done must of necessity be done with the entire family present.
Supper being over, the girl would cut a glance at the young man and sidle over to one corner. There would be a vacant chair or stool by her side, and he would take that, and then the fun would begin, especially if the little boys or girls were present, the terror of the grown up sister when her sweetheart comes. Finally the family would hustle off to bed and leave the young couple to arrange their plans for a cabin life together. Young people like to be together when they are not sweethearts. William Tilley, the elder brother of our own Dr. L. L. Tilley of Lebanon, Tenn., and myself were somewhat chums in the long ago. I said to him one Sunday afternoon, in the days when we were both trying to learn how to court, "Let's set the M____ girls tonight." He agreed to take the older as he was older than myself. We were both green and inexperienced. It was cold weather and only one fireplace. The old folks got off to bed and apparently went to sleep. This left Bill and his girl on one side and me and mine on the other. What to do or say I did not know. I wished I was at home. Bill was in a worse fix than I was, for my girl did have some gab about her, and his had none. She would answer a question and then it was all off. I got tickled at Bill's predicament and called my girl's attention to it, and we talked and laughed about them and did very well after that.
I found my first wife in a log cabin, but fortunately there were two cabins and a fireplace in each, so we got along all right. But more about this later.
Funerals Perhaps the most interesting feature of social life in that section was the manner of putting away the dead. Such a thing as a funeral expense was unknown. In fact, I was a mariied man before I knew there was such a thing as charge for burying the dead. As stated before, my father had both a blacksmith and wood shop. He always kept on hand suitable lumber to make coffins. For miles around when any one would die they would come there to make the coffin. Father would furnish the lumber, and if they failed to bring other workmen, father would make it for them. Mother always kept a supply of lamp black on hand, and when a coffin was finished at our house she was there ready to color it black before it was taken away. All was free and joyfully given. A charge for anything in putting away the dead would have been considered an outrage. They used wagons to carry the corpse to the grave. All bodies were in those days buried wrapped in a "winding sheet." This was a sheet something
like the size of a bed sheet. It was laid on the coffin with its corners projecting at the sides and head and foot. The body was laid on it, the corners were brought over and the body was completely wrapped in it. This was the custom in Christ's day, as I understand it.
When my mother died, (the best mother a boy ever had), the coffin was made at home, she was laid in it and hauled to the cemetery or "grave-yard" in an ox wagon and laid to rest. But when my father died I was detained at my home with a wife sick unto death. Times had changed, and a casket was bought and he was buried after the fashion of the day. Had I been there he would have been buried as was my mother, and I am sure as his preference would have been.
After I entered the ministry, I was away in another section of country, and heard some one remark "the hearse has passed." I wondered what that could be. I had never heard of a "hearse." The first opportunity I looked it up.
At the late date of 1920 I was called back near my old home to preach the funeral of one of our best country preachers. He was a poor man, but had secured a comfortable little home. Not wanting to leave a burdensome debt on his aged and afflicted wife, he had secured suitable lumber for his coffin and engaged a neighbor, who was a workman, to make it for him when he died. We laid him in it, hauled him to the church in a wagon, where I preached his funeral, and we buried him near the church as neatly as any one, and practically without cost.
Return with me to the old homestead, and we will live over again the days of yore.
I have always been a lover of dogs; especially the fox and deer hound. And yet, when I entered the ministry I cut loose from dogs absolutely for about forty, years. My father would not allow me to have hounds in my boyhood days, but instead he always kept two small cur dogs. The home he opened up in the new section referred to above was infested with all sorts of wild life. Especially was this true of the racoon. They were thick as rabbits and proved a pest. When the family came to the new settlement they brought two puppies nearly grown. The larger of the two was black with white ring round the neck, a stump tail, and was named Crockett after Davy Crockett. The smaller of the two was a dark yellow and named Jolar after Davy Crockett's favorite dog. These puppies knew nothing of wild life and especially the coon. A load of corn and the puppies, landed in the new home together. The corn was thrown into a rail pen a few feet high and covered with boards. A coon decided to sample the corn that night, and after getting in the pen the puppies found him out, and were running round the pen barking furiously. Father went to investigate the cause of the uproar. Looking through the cracks of the pen he could see his coon-ship walking about over the corn. The puppies were anxious for the fray, so father moved a few boards and turned them in. Then the music began, "fiz fuz, spat, spit, bang, bur, bump, sput, spy, squeak, squew, squat, yew yowen," and out came Crockett, the
largest puppy, fully convinced that Mr. Coon had as much right to the premises as he did. Jolar and the coon rested for a time on opposite sides of the pen. Jolar started for the coon, but the coon was as generous as he, and met him halfway, and they took it single hand. Jolar threw the coon and a lucky grab landed on the coon's throat. With a death grip he held him until Mr. Coon patted his tail and gave up the ghost. From that night these puppies became famous coon dogs. They lived to be old and I would not undertake to guess how many coons they put out of business. Crockett learned thoroughly that night which was the biting end of a coon. He would hunt and tree coons the same as Jolar, but I guess I would be safe in saying that he never was bitten by a coon after that night. He would work furiously on the tail end as long as Jolar kept the head end employed. He always kept his eye on Jolar and the other end of the coon. If the coon ever cut Jolar loose Crockett got out of the way until Jolar got the head employed again. We were forced to raid the coons in roasting ear time to save our corn. I had a great time catching coons and "possums" in my boyhood days. When I married I got me some hounds and enjoyed the chase until I entered the ministry. I then gave up the dogs altogether.
Frugality The frugality of my father's home surpassed anything I have ever known elsewhere. He was not parsimonious. As before said his hospitality was unbounded. His table was always loaded with wholesome, nutritious food, but never with luxury and things injurious to health. The negroes had the same to eat that the family had and all they wanted. Father and mother saw to it that the family, including the negroes, were well and comfortably clothed and bedded, but nothing fine and simply for show.
The frugality consisted in the following: 1. Nothing wasted. 2. Nothing of a frivilous nature that did not produce results was indulged in. 3. He did not speculate. 4. Did nothing for show. 5. Made everything that was needed. 6 Expected every member of the family to be an asset and not a liability. 7. Bought little or nothing of a finished product.
Give him the raw material and no one could produce a better article than he in wood, iron, or leather. If he needed a wagon, plow, or harness, he made it. Everything that was needed for the table was grown on the farm and in the garden. Nothing used for consumption or comfort was bought from abroad; they were either manufactured or grown at home.
I have told you much of the outdoor life, and my father's characteristics; now, before passing, let us look within and see my mother in operation.
Three things were essential in the home-life at my father's, viz. A flock of sheep, a flax patch, and a cotton patch.
When the fleece was clipped from the sheep it was carried to the carding machine, made into rolls, and brought back home to be converted into cloth, and finally into wearing apparel.
Before proceeding further, I may say that we had changed residences. When I was about 7 or 8 years old my father built two hewed log houses hard by each other, with heavy stone chimneys to each, built with his own hands. One of these was for the purpose of cooking and eating, and the other a living apartment with two back rooms. The living apartment had four small glass windows, the first glass windows I had ever seen. I felt like we were going some, and I wanted every one who came to our house to be sure to see the glass windows. When this was completed we left the round log cabin with puncheon floor and daubbed with mud and moved into what to us was a mansion. The furniture of this building, among other things, was two spinning wheels for spinning wool and cotton, one for spinning flax, and a reel for the purpose of converting the broaches that were spun into hanks of threads, and a loom to weave them into cloth.
As soon as breakfast was over, two of my sisters would rig up the wheels and start the spinning. All day long could be heard the hum of the wheels as my sisters paced back and forth drawing out and twisting the thread, then returning winding it upon the broach. When my day's work was over outdoors, and supper was over, some one would suggest the big pile of broaches, and I was told to get up the reel and reel them off. For the next two hoars that would be my job. I would turn the reel, as I now remember it 125 rounds and it would crack, as a clock strikes, this would indicate a "cut" or one-fourth of a yard. A string was tied around this, then on I would go until it cracked again, another "cut" or one half yard. This was also tied to itself, and thus the process went on until four cuts or a yard was reached. A string was then tied around the whole with the cuts separate. It was then taken off the reel, twisted into a hank and laid aside. Thus it went until the whole was converted into hanks. These hanks were then washed and thoroughly cleansed. They were then dried and colored according to taste, and prepared for the loom.
While the above was going on in the main room, in another room where the loom was located all day long could be heard the click of the shuttle, the rattle of the treadles, and the bump, bump of the double stroke of the batten, as mother was weaving formerly prepared material into cloth. My mother wove any and all kinds of cloth. In plain single sleyed cloth she used two treadles. In double sleyed or jeans she used three or more. In weaving coverlets she used sometimes 4 to 6 treadles. It required more skill than running the keys of a piano to put in and weave this beautiful fabric. I sleep these cold nights now under a coverlet woven by my mother. Many try to buy it. I could sell it for big money, but it is not for sale. It is beautiful.
There was usually an after supper job at my father's, in the winter time. If my sisters were behind with their spinning they would spin for two or three hours after supper. My mother without exception was busy with her hands until a late hour. Sometimes spinning on the Flax wheel, then knitting or darning or patching the rents in well worn garments. God bles$ her. With us men folks,
it was picking wool or cotton, cutting pumpkins to dry, shelling corn, mending shoes and harness, or many other indoor jobs.
The flax patch played an important part in my father's house-hold. It was sown in the spring as you would a patch of millet. It grew up in single slender stalks without foliage until it reached a. height of two or three feet when it branched, bloomed and seeded. It ripened into a golden hue about September, when it was pulled by hand (not cut) and spread in swaths where it was left for weeks for the woody part of the stalk to rot. On the outside of this stalk was the finest of lint. When well rotted it was taken in, bound into bundles and carried to the dry. When suitable days through the winter came the black man would put these bundles into a brake, made for the purpose, and break the woody part into fine particles, when it was turned over to me, and any help I might get, to be swingled until the woody part was all beaten out, and only a soft bunch of lint remained. This was done by means of a large wooden knife made for the purpose, while the bunch of flax was held with one hand over the top of a board driven into the ground at the proper height. These bunches of lint were then taken to the hackle and the tow hatcheled out, when mother would wind the pure lint around the distaff, spin it into fine thread, and weave it into cloth.
The cotton was hand picked, hand carded, and hand spun.
Winter clothes, for both men and women, were made from wool, jeans for the men, linsey for the women. Everyday summer clothes for the men, were made of flax, for the women, of cotton, and calico for Sunday.
A New Role On February 8, 1872, I was married to Miss Eliza A. Vickers of White County, Tennessee. Between us, we did not have as much as five dollars. I was married in such clothes as my mother had made for me, with a pair of brogan boots on. We were both comfortably clothed. My father gave me a horse and a cow, my mother gave me a bed and bed-clothes, and some chickens. My wife's mother did the same for her, or, rather my wife had arranged things for herself before we were married. I had about three dollars and fifty cents. With this I bought enough of the cheapest vessels and dishes to cook and eat in. With this we moved into a cabin house built of round logs daubbed with mud and a stick and clay chimney. No loft or overhead ceiling and not a glass window in it.
Neither of us had anything that favored a trunk. We had hauled our bedclothes and some of our wearing apparel there in a rough box. This served as our table for three days, when I went to my father's shop, picked up some scraps of lumber, made a table and carried it a mile on my back. This served as our dining table for many years. My father could have helped me, but took the better view of it, and threw me upon my own resources. He said to me, "I will feed your horse till you have finished your crop, and if you will take the oxen and fallow that seven acres of waste land, I will give you what you can make on it, also that ten acres by it." There was much of the time, more than half of the time, for the first ten
years of my married life that there was not a dust of flour in my house. I had no wheat, and no money to buy it with. I had started out with the motto that I would not make debts for anything but land; and I have kept it up until now, varying from it very little. Winter came on, I had plenty of corn, and some to spare after having killed abundance of meat for the next year, but there was nothing in sight for the next year's crop. I went to my father and said to him: "You have any amount of virgin forest and soil. Let me build me a house and open another farm and cultivate it until I get pay for the improvements." The thought seemed to please him, and he told me to "wade in." My chance for bread the next year was to build a house, move, clear and fence the land where it was to grow. The first lick I struck on that task was New Year's day. But I was a good hand with an ax in those days, and when night came I had all the logs cut to build my cabin, and a place cleared away to locate it, hard by a good spring. I got the wagon and oxen the next day, hauled rock to build back, jams, and hearth, for the fireplace, also dragged up what logs that were far enough away to need hauling. I got a hand, and my father helped, and we laid the foundation, putting down the sills and sleepers for a cabin, with single room 18 by 20 feet. The neighbors were then invited and the walls of the cabin were erected and everything made ready for the roof, in one day. Then came the task of roofing, flooring, daubbing the cracks with mud, building a stick and clay chimney, etc. Suffice it to say, that the cabin was ready and we moved into it about the middle of January. Up to this time I had walked one mile and a half, both morning and night, to my work. This put me on the ground where every minute of daylight could be employed. By the time for planting corn came, I had a good sized field cleared and fenced. Suffice it to say: we did not starve or grow hungry the next year. It is true we did not have any biscuits, or sugar, or coffee and what the people call "extras" on the table. Our diet consisted of corn bread, meat and gravy, with chicken and eggs, milk and butter, sorghum, and such vegetables as we could grow in the way of potatoes, cabbage, beans, etc. We kept well and my wife served, in this log cabin that had not a glass window in it, with the dignity of a queen.
As before said, that for the first ten years of our married life, at least three-fourths of the time there was not a dust of flour in our home. It was some eight or nine years before we felt ourselves able to own a cooking stove, and then we bought one second hand.
The next year, June 28,1874, a baby was born in our home that we named Sarah Lois. We were rich now. We had something to work for.
Through all these years we never failed to attend our stated meetings, both Saturday and Sunday. The most of the time we walked, but when we had occasion to ride, having a strong horse, I got in the saddle and my wife behind and away we went. After the baby was born our horse carried three. I would get in the saddle, put a pillow on the horn of the saddle, wife would band the bahy to me, and get up behind me, and we rode off triumphantly to the Lord's house. This was happiness unalloyed. Wife was strong and industrious, and knew how to spin, weave, cut and make any kind of
garment needed on the place. We had no extra means to worry over, we had no business complications with any one, and when we had done an honest day's work, we could lie down on a comfortable bed and sleep all night without a thought to disturb our sweet repose. We had plenty to eat and to wear, plain, it is true, but wholesome and comfortable, and owed no one in this world a penny. So far as the things of this world is concerned, these were the happiest days of my life. The only disturbing thing in my life was a longing to do something for the Lord's cause that I was not doing, and did not know how to do. My horizon was circumscribed to the limit of my acquaintance. No paper of any kind came to our home. I did not know that such a thing as a denominational paper was published. I was at that time 23 years old. About that time a neighbor made a visit to West Tennessee, where he got hold of Ray's "Text Book on Campbellism" and a few old copies of Ford's "Christian Repository." These he loaned me and I read them over and over again. This widened my horizon and set in flame the fire that had been smoldering in my bosom through the years gone by. The church at Pistole's, White County, Tennessee, took cognizance in the matter and licensed me to preach July 17, 1875. I went into the work with a burning zeal and was ordained by said church March 27, 1876. Elders T. R. Cooper and J. W. Cunningham acting as presbytery. I had been a student of the Bible for some years, studying it as best I could, being absolutely illiterate. I took charge of little weak churches, preaching almost every Saturday and Sunday, giving about three to four months in the fall solidly to meetings. I got almost nothing for my services. Taking it all together, I did not get fifty dollars a year. As a sample, I preached two whole years as pastor for one church, and held five weeks protracted meeting for the church during the time, and had great meetings, and received for the whole service of the two years, seven dollars and some cents. Thus it went for seven years. During all this time, in trying to study the Bible, I realized more and more my handicap for want of
Education The first school I ever attended was taught by the father of our own Dr. B. S. Rhea of Lebanon, Tenn. I knew the alphabet when I started, but it was he who taught me to spell, ab, ac, ad, af, ag, in the old Blue-back speller. This was in the fall after I was six in July. The school room was more than two miles away. One morning I was handed a Blue-back speller and told I could could go to school with my sisters. King George never felt bigger than I did that morning. Let me introduce you to our school room. It was built of round logs, about 16 by 18 feet, and the cracks daubbed with mud that had hardened, a stick and clay chimney and fireplace at one end, one door without a shutter, a hole cut in the wall by the side of the fireplace that we called a "winder," in the back end a log was cut out, and two inch augur holes bored in the log underneath, pegs driven in and a plank or puncheon placed on them for the more advanced pupils to learn to write, with a goose quill pen, and ink manufactured from polk berries or some other substitute. The seats were logs split open, the split side smoothed, and augur
holes bored In the ends and pegs driven in for legs. This was the last session Prof. Rhea ever taught in our section. I was not old enough to know, but he was said to be a fine teacher for that day.
The schools then were supposed to run three months. I attended school in this same building for the next three years. By this time I nearly knew the Blue-back speller by heart, in so far as the spelling and reading was concerned. But, I had no conception whatever of accent, emphasis, punctuation, or the office of capital letters. In those days, I have no recollection of seeing but two books in those country schools - the Blue-back speller and the Arithmetic. When one got to where he carried an arithmetic, slate and writing copy-book, they were thought to be going some.
Then came the awful scourge of the Civil War. Four years passed that I did not see inside a school building. At the close of the war the negroes were set free and I had to take a leading part in the farm work. I attended a few short broken sessions of those crude country schools. In these I acquired a fair knowledge of the common rules of arithmetic. Beyond the Blue-back speller and common arithmetic it might be said I knew nothing. In all my growing up a newspaper of any description never entered my father's home. In fact, I was a married man before I knew there was such a thing as a denominational paper published. The books in my father's home in my raising consisted of the Bible, Josephus, Legal Statutes, and later one or two school readers. When I was married my books consisted of a dime Testament, and Sacred Harp 4 note song book.
When I entered the ministry I began to try to secure helpful books as I could find them. About the time I was licensed to preach a brother came along representing a Baptist paper. I subscribed for it at sight. About the year 1880 or 1881, a retired teacher (J. M. Nowlin) of ability, and some note, came into our community on business. He stopped with me for a week. He saw how illiterate I was, and seemed to take pleasure in instructing me. I asked him a thousand questions. He was a Baptist and could enter into the very heart of matters in which I was most concerned. Among other things he told me what a help it would be for me to know Greek and be able to get the real meaning of the very words uttered by the Holy Spirit. He made me a present of Bullion's Greek Grammar and Reader. I have them yet. I devoured these at once as far as I could go without help.
This man's week's visit in my home was like a year's schooling. He insisted that I go to school. It was like fire in the bone until the opportunity presented itself.
In the meantime I had bought a farm for a nominal sum, which afterwards I sold for one thousand dollars. In the summer and fall of 1882 I learned that a new Baptist Academy was to be opened at Watertown, Wilson County, Tennessee, at the beginning of 1883. I resolved at once to be one of the pupils. I began at once shaping things to that end. I converted what I could into money, rented out my farm leaving things I could not sell in the hands of my renter. I had engaged a house at Watertown. On Wednesday morning, Dec. 27, 1882, we loaded our household goods in the wagon and turned our
faces toward Watertown; leaving our little home in Putnam County, and all that was dear to us, to dwell among strangers. After two hard days drive we landed in Watertown at the home of Dred Phillips at 9 o'clock p. m., tired, cold, and hungry. That big hearted, good man, and his family, opened their doors and took us in. The next morning our goods were carried to the house I had rented from Bro. Phillips, a half mile away, and two miles from the school room. After paying the parties who moved me, my possessions consisted of our household plunder, a wife, an eight-year-old daughter, a horse and fifty dollars in money. But I had promised thirty dollars rent for the house and paid twenty dollars in advance, and when I had bought my books and met some other necessary expenses my money pile was exhausted. I sold my horse to bridge us over. This necessitated me walking twelve miles to a little church that had invited me to preach for them that year. This little church paid me thirty-two dollars for my services that year. So much for the finances. This was the first time in life I had been able to call a frame building home.
On Monday, New Year's day, 1883, the school opened with about 100 enrolled and me and my little daughter in the number. The teachers - Elder T. J. Eastes and Prof. John Bryan - and the pupils were all very kind to me and generous in helping me. However, I was the "GREENHORN" of the occasion and oftentimes furnished innocent amusement for the more advanced pupils. This will illustrate: I had to wait two or three days for my Latin books and I asked to borrow a book to learn the Latin alphabet. Some of the pupils will get me in a crowd now and tell it on me.
I suppose I am safe in saying that I learned more that session than any other one in school, for I had more to learn. Here was my task: Greek, Latin, Higher Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, and Rhetoric. I wanted to take English Grammar. But the teacher said: "Grammar is grammar, and you will get all you need in Greek and Latin."
At first I and my little daughter rode until I sold my horse, then we had to walk unless picked up by some one. About the first of February, my wife was taken sick and was confined for some weeks. This put all the home work on me, cooking, washing, ironing, and the like. I would carry my little daughter to school in the morning, recite some of my lessons, return home to my sick wife, then go after my daughter in the evening and recite other classes. Many of my recitations in this stress amounted to this: I would carry my difficulties to the teacher and he would straighten them out for me, and give me some pointers for the coming lesson. In fact, I was learning how to study - how to learn. This is New Year, Jan. 1, 1930, just 47 years today since I entered that school. I have not quit studying. I study as hard today as I did then; and will work as hard to unravel a problem notwithstanding I am in my seventy-ninth year. I was the oldest pupil in that school with one exception, and yet I suppose more than half of them are in eternity, with both the teachers.
Through the years I have gathered around me a select library
of about one thousand volumes. These volumes have all been carefully selected with a specific purpose in view. Not one of them has been bought at random, to fill shelf space. And I may say that I have been deceived in very few of them. If one would look through them and see the marks he would reach the conclusion that they had been used.
My Writings I was a married man some years before I ever had access to a newspaper of any description. The first opportunity I had (about 1874) I subscribed for a denominational paper, and from that day to the present I have had from one to one dozen in my house, besides the literary and daily journals, I have also been connected with a number of papers as editor, associate editor, stated contributor and special contributor. I have also written a large number of voluntary contributions to various periodicals.
In addition to my correspondence, I have written one good sized book - History of Middle Tennessee Baptists, and a number of booklets; viz. Hereditary Depravity, Close Communion and Baptists, Ecclesiastical Catechism, History of Alien Immersion, Blood Before Water and Christ Before the Church, Hitting the Mark, A Discussion With the Editor of the Gospel Advocate, A Brief Review of N. B. Hardeman's Sermons, and Roman Catholicism. I also have had two sermons put in pamphlet form at the request of two different associations, viz. The Church, and the Right and Wrong Way. All the above works have had quick sales. Most of them are exhausted and out of print.
Prohibition I have written, and preached, and lectured much on temperance and prohibition. I have taken an active part in different Prohibition Campaigns. I have never run up the "white feather," or failed to show my colors when the question has come before the public. I would not consider myself worthy of the name of a minister of Jesus Christ if I did not fight the sin of the whisky traffic.
Roman Catholicism I regard Roman Catholicism as the worst enemy Christianity and our government has today. As such, I have fought it with both tongue and pen. If they should ever get control of affairs here it would mean an end to religious liberty, and our free form of government. The Bible makes it the offspring of perdition, and the emissary of the devil. As such I have fought it to the bitter end.
My Church and Ministerial Relations I was converted in December, 1868, in a meeting conducted by Elders J. R. Bowman and Mansfield Howell in Boiling Spring church house, Putnam County, Tennessee. This meeting was held Christmas week. The weather was severely cold, and the ground covered with snow. Yet the people came, mostly on foot, and we had a great meeting, and nineteen conversions. I united with the church that same night. I was baptized by J. R. Bowman the second Sunday in January, 1869, in Cane Creek, with nine others. The weather was
cold and my clothes were frozen almost as soon as they hit the air. I became active in church work from that day. I was exceedingly timid and bashful, hence did practically nothing in a public way, but always filled my seat, and did what I could in a private way. I might say just here before passing, that even before my conversion, I never indulged in any dissipations, I was never drunk, never indulged in profanity, and my record is absolutely clear in all my relations with womanhood, from my youth up.
From my conversion there was a longing within, and a restlessness to do something I was not doing. But my timidity held me back. Matters drifted this way for something like eight years. During this time I made the Lord many promises, only to break them. Finally the church licensed a bosom friend of mine to preach. This was the straw that broke the camel's back. I revealed my situation to him, and then begged him not to tell anyone. No one up to this time ever dreamed that a timid, bashful boy like me dreamed of anything in a public way. This brother after promising to keep the matter between us, had let it out without my knowledge. At our next business meeting to my surprise a deacon made a motion that I be licensed to preach. I begged him to withdraw it, but they did not listen to my entreaty, and the motion went through unanimously. Then came the battle. I said, Lord, you are my master; I am your servant. I put the matter in your hands. From that day to the present my fear has been of the Lord, not of man.
I made my first effort at preaching July 26, 1875, in Macedonia church house, White County, Tennessee. Text, Gen. 24:49. We went from there to Pistole's, my home church, where I tried to preach five times within the first week. About the third or fourth time I tried to preach a man who had made a profession in years gone by was passing the church with a wagon. On learning that I was to preach, he stopped his wagon, and just as I arose he stepped in at the door in his work garb and his wagon whip in his hand, and sat down by the side of the door against the wall, intending to slip out and leave as soon as he heard me start off. He had backslidden and feigned at wickedness, possibly running from a call to the ministry, as did Jonah. I announced my text: "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." - Ephesians 5-14. I made two points in my talk, if I remember aright, in which I touched up the unsaved and the back-sliders. That they were all asleep, and all dead, some in sin and some in indifference. This is what I wanted to say, but I would not vouch for what I did say. I was thinking about my man, and trusting the Lord to direct the message. Any way he did not leave, and by the time I was through he was shaking like an Aspen leaf. I went back and spoke to him, he fell face foremost on the floor and began to confess his sin, and beg the Lord to forgive him. An hour or more he lay there in agony begging for mercy. Finally the cloud lifted and the light burst through. We had a season of rejoicing, after which he said: "I cannot ask you to trust me, you cannot afford to trust me, but try me and help me." I have never heard aught against his moral or Christian character from that day to the present. He came back to the church and for many long years he has been a faithful minister of Jesus
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