Volume 3, Number 9
We found a quaint little old lady, Puritan type, body slight and straight as an arrow, soft hair drawn back from the part, and a thin naturally refined face into which one looked for an instant and then looked away for tears-Aunt Ann was partially blind, the right eye gone; how we do not know; we did not ask; it was too pathetic as a little blind bird might be-but the other eye was bright and kind and alert, and the voice was soft and pleasing.
"Why, law yes, I've got some of those old coverlids, but I ain't going to sell them, if that's what you want. One woman came here some time ago and coaxed me out of one, but I ain't going to sell no more. Oh, well, if you only want to see them-why, law yes, you're welcome to do that if you care to; but I don't reckon, they're much to see; leastwise I can't see why anybody cares for them, but those that made them and always have had them.
"Why, law, yes, we wove them ourselves. I was raised with a loom and spinning wheel-used to spin night and day. We made linsey in the fall and cotton cloth in the spring. We spun and wove and made our own clothes; and they were pretty, too, lots prettier colors than we have now-a-days; and they were better, too-clothes wore well in those days. We dyed the yarn ourselves, mostly; could make dark blue and light blue-most any shade we wanted and it didn't fade either. Why, law no, indigo blue won't fade when it's made right. You've got to mix up wheat bran and let it sour, and put your cloth in that to set the color; and no indigo blue is goin' to fade that's fixed that way. And we used turkey red-bought that though-and it was awful pretty, turkey red was.
"When we made coverlids like that"-and here Aunt Ann pointed to a beautiful blue and white coverlid" we had a draft on paper, pinned up before us, and we just followed the pattern, putting the colors just as that draft showed. I never wove after I was married; my husband wouldn't let me and sold my loom. He died in 1908, going on ninety-one and I'm not much account any more.
"Born here? Why, law no! I was born in Virginia, and my folks moved first to Tennessee, then Illinois, then to Taney county, Missouri, when I was just a child.
"My father's name was Jennings, and the old Clay Stokley place was his till the war broke out. This country wasn't settled much when we came here, only a few families. One family named Denton lived up on Bull Creek, and another named Lowther. We all had log houses and fireplaces. I recollect the first cookstove I ever saw; it was a Charter-Oak; Dr. Layton got it for his wife and father sent for one soon afterwards.
"The country filled up pretty quickly, and we had some neighbors only a mile or two away. But we worked in those days, and didn't have much time to be lonesome. I was one of eight children, but had no children of my own. I never worked in the field as some women did, but I was busy all the time; there was always enough to do.
"We didn't have drouths then like we did last summer, and the corn the cotton and the grass grew fine. We always raised all we needed of everything, and had plenty of hogs and cattle for our own use.
"I was married in Phelps County about the beginning of the war. My husband was in the Union Army, in the 36th Missouri, and I stayed with father and mother near Rolla. was
much trouble here during the war, and our folks had to get out and go north.
I had two brothers in the Union Army; and one was brought home-sick and died
the next day. After the war we came back here, and my husband owned the Long
place down on Bull Creek, but we sold that and bought on the ridge, the prettiest
place you ever saw-where Easterday now lives.
"We used to ride horseback a heap. I never thought of walking to meetin'. I rode side saddle, too; didn't ride like I see them doing around here now. That's men's way of riding and I don't like it for women; now do you? We used to have meetin' at the school houses and at people's houses, and camp meetin's sometimes. The circuit rider went around and stayed at folk's houses while he was preaching in the neighborhood. I recollect one preacher named Hopkins and a Mr. Pair used to be our circuit-rider, and a man named Dinsmore used to preach for us I've been to many a camp meetin' up on Swan Creek, and they shouted and sang, "Jesus, My All to Heaven is gone" and everybody was in earnest and happy. I never could sing myself, but I liked to go all the same. We lived close, so didn't camp as many folks did. We'd go and stay to night meetin' and then go home.
"Law, yes; we had lots of good times in those days-singing schools, choppings, barn raisings, and log rollings. I've seen many a house raised-always had a frolic along with the working. The women would cook big dinners and suppers-why, law no, we didn't carry our dinners along with us; the folks that were giving the working would furnish the dinner. They'd bake light bread and corn pone, and cook all kinds of meats. I've seen them have deer squirrel and sometimes wild turkey; and they'd bake cakes and cookies. Everything ready beforehand and then spread it out on long tables. Nobody charged a neighbor for helping him then. We would all turn out, and the men would raise a house, make rails or work that was needed, and the women and the girls would quilt and help with the meals. The girls could quilt a quilt in a short time, and then there was a scramble to see who would get wrapped in its first; for the first girl wrapped in a new quilt, was the first one to be married, and they all wanted to be first, too. Law, yes; they sure did.
"After supper was over, they'd have a dance". "Why, did you ever dance, Aunt Ann?" asked one of her young neices. "Why law, yes of course I danced." "Well you don't want us to dance", "Oh, well, they don't dance like we used to. We danced cotollions and reels. It took eight to make a set in a cotillion, and we really danced then; we didn't just run around over the floor like they do now-a-days.
"I recollect we wore peaked waist dresses, too. We'd have six whole widths in the skirt, and the skirt gathered on full with the long peaked waist in front; and we wore hoopskirts. Sometimes we wore cloth slipper, and sometimes leather ones that father made himself.
"We did lots of kinds of work you know nothing about now, and lots that you do, we knew nothing about. Now about fruit: why law; we didn't can fruit like they do now, didn't know anything about it. We dried peaches, apples and cherries and corn, and we used to send dried fruits to Springfield when the ox team went there for goods. I can recollect when my father and some of his neighbors would salt down a whole boat load of meat and take it down the river to New Orleans, sometimes. It would take weeks to go, and they'd sell the boat for old lumber and walk back. But all that has changed now. The railroads have come and the dam has been built. Why law, do you know the water has covered the old cemetery at our place-the Stokley cemetery? Why, law yes; the water's over every bit of that now.
"Well, I've changed too; no account now except to feed my chickens; and law, law, the eggs my hens to lay-eggs to throw at the birds." And Aunt Ann hurried out after the chickens as we bade her goodby at the door.
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