Volume 5, Number 3, Spring 1974
EARLY MARTIN HISTORY
It is with great difficulty that I attempt to look backward over the two centuries which separate us from the earliest known records of our Martin ancestry. We do know that our great grandfather, Samuel Martin, was born in England on November 19, 1776. If written records were made by the Martin Family in those early days, as I am sure they must have been, they were destroyed either by ship wreck on the Isle of the Hebrides, or by rain, wind, flood and storm, encountered in trudging, on foot, or horseback, or in ox cart, hundreds of miles from New York Harbor, on September 29, 1809, to North Carolina, where they spent a few years before continuing through the wilderness, hills and valleys of Kentucky and Tennessee; across the Mississippi River; and into the very heart of the rugged Ozark Mountains of Missouri, to what is now Springfield.
Two great wars, the War of 1812 and the Civil War, most surely took their toll by looting, burning, and disruption of home life and records of our forebearers.
Memory from my earliest childhood years recalls stories told to us by our father, of Samuel Martins having come to America on the same ship with Alexander Campbell, the founder of the Christian Church, a religious denomination.
History of the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean is recorded in Cochrans "Captive of the Word", 1969. He tells the sad story and fate of the Ship Hibernia. It was the first day of October 1808 that the ship sailed from Londonderry, Ireland, for Philadelphia. Two days out, the vessel ran aground on the Island of Hebrides. At first it appeared that all would be lost but, fortunately, all were saved by sailors who carried the passengers to safety in row boats.
The winter was spent in Glasgow, and on August 12, 1809, they again sailed for America, on the Ship Latonia, landing in New York Harbor on September 29, 1809. Little is known of the list of passengers except that among the Martin family were the following: Samuel Martin and his brother, Cowden; also three of Samuels sons Richard C., James P., and Robert Andrew ("Andy") Martin (grandfather of the author).
Another passenger was Alexander Campbell, the twenty-year-old son of Thomas Campbell, who was already in Pennsylvania preaching the gospel. As the eldest son of the Campbell faaily, Alexander, along with his mother and other members of the family, were on board the ship.
No mention was made of the names of female members of any family. Not even the United States Censuses gave first names of females until 1850. Hence, we have not yet found the name of Samuels wife, our great-grandmother. I have written both Londonderry and Belfast for passenger lists, but they say none were kept. I have searched the historical records of both Greene County and Springfield, Missouri including death and burial records. I have inquired if immigration records were kept at New York Harbor, and I have searched the Census lists of both North Carolina and Missouri, but have found no mention of her name.
My father had in his possession a very old Bible in which were written the names of Samuel and his wife; his brothers and sisters; and his children, including Andy (my grandfather). This was lost after my fathers death in 1915.
Samuel Martin was an excellent penman, as was our father Robert Bruce Martin, but it must be remembered that the early pioneers had few available facilities for writing, such as: no desk, no pen, no ink, no paper.
As a child, I can recall Fathers having returned from the forest where he had found a large quill. Perhaps it had fallen from an eagles wing, or from that of a wild turkey. He took his knife, and from the end of the feather he fashioned an ink pen. From a dark wild berry he extracted a juice which we used for inkour first ink. Later, the lead pencil was available to us for the price of one cent each.
Father told us many times of the hardships endured by Samuel and the family on the long and dangerous trail to Springfield. There were no roads on the wayonly deer paths and Indian trailsno bridges, no stores, and only occasional Indians.
Leaving the family in Kentucky in the Spring of 1829, Samuel and seven other men set out on foot to explore the Ozark Mountains. Each man
carried only the clothing on his back, a flintlock rifle, lead for bullets, a supply of gun powder in his powder-horn, a large hunting knife, salt, a frying pan, a small tinder box for starting fires from flint rock, and a warm blanket or buffalo skin. At Paducah, Kentucky, they secured two boats which carried the eight of them down the Ohio River and across the Mississippi. There they abandoned the boats and entered the forest swamp. Finally, they found higher ground and the foothills of the Ozarks. Day after day they moved westward. At night they built a fire for warmth and for cooking such meat as they found readily availablebear, deer, elk and numerous small game. If, by chance, they found an occasional Indian village or a lone white settler, they were often able to bargain for a "square meal", or a small quantity of provisions, but usually they were forced to depend on the wild berries, nuts, and animals of the forest, for their food.
It is thought that they followed Indian paths and deer trails in the same general location and direction as is now followed by U.S. Highway 60, from southeast Missouri to Springfield. Of course, we must remember that in 1829 there were no towns or cities in southeast Missourionly an occasional single pioneer.
When Samuel Martin and his little band of men finally came out of the forest, they reached a broad open prairie of buffalo grass. At the extreme northwest corner of the area was a large spring. It was on the spring that Samuel "staked" his claim by making sufficient and proper markings to secure the location against any newcomer. Only Indians had previously been there. The Kickapoos and Delawares, being the most recent inhabitants, were in the process of vacating their homes in the Ozarks. The Federal Government was forcing, and bribing, all Indians to move on westward to what is now Kansas-Oklahoma Territory. Only a few Kickapoos were encountered by Samuel and his small band of men. While Kickapoos were frequently hostile and dangerous, Samuel and his men experienced no serious trouble, and were kind to them.
When each man had finished "staking" out his choice claim, they returned in all haste to Kentucky for their families and possessions. "Staking" out a claim was something of an unwritten law among pioneersa warning to those who came later, that they should respect such "claim", and locate for himself another home site. But the problems of getting a family to Springfield thrnuah the unbroken, forest-covered hills of the
Ozark Mountains was a formidable task for men, women and children. Floods frequently delayed the little band, as they must either swim or wade the streams. Only at the crossing of the Ohio and the Mississippi was it necessary to build log rafts to carry the women and children, the ox carts, tents, bedding, farm tools, and provisions. The men either swam alongside the raft or rode an animal (horse or cow) as it swam behind the raft.
At long last, Samuel Martin lead his little band of weary travelers out of the Ozark hills and into the broad open prairie called Springfield. It had taken almost six months to "stake" out his claim, return to Kentucky, prepare family and possessions for the long and arduous trip, and finally blaze a new trail through the rugged Ozark Mountains to their "Promised Land." Their clothing was torn, ragged and dirty, and their shoes had been worn out on the rocky hills over which they traveled. Many had been barefoot for weeks. They had hoped to reach Samuels big spring before nightfall. It was much farther across the prairie than he had remembered, and darkness overtook them within a few miles of the spring. They had little food and water. But all were so tired, hungry and travel-worn that they welcomed a night of rest. Even though the grassy earth was their bed, and with only the star-lit canopy of Heaven above, they first knelt in prayer and thanksgiving for a safe journey.
Samuel awoke the next morning at daybreak. Dressing was no problem, as all had slept and traveled in the same sweaty clothing for weeks. The odor generated by such mode of travel defies olfactory imagination, and repelled all except perhaps the less self-respecting fly and mosquito. Reaching the spring would be a great and happy day. It would be the end of a long, hard journey. It would be home, and rest. It would be abundant water, green grass, and wild game. It would be clean clothes, and clean and rested bodies. It would bring visions of the future, and hope for tomorrow. At least this is what Samuel Martin thought as he and his family prepared to enter their Promised Land on that sun-drenched September day in 1829. But, to his surprise, he found two white families, by the names of Fulbright and Campbell, already there and arguing over possession of the spring. As Samuel began to assert his own priority, he could see that real trouble was brewingthe shooting kind between the three contenders. Finally, he was able to draw Campbell to one side and talk privately with him, showing him the markings on
stone and timber which he had made in early April. To this Campbell agreed, but Fulbright became all the more bellicose, refusing to budge, although it was obvious that Samuel had "staked" his claim at least three or four months prior to either Fulbright or Campbell. However, being a peace-loving and Godly man, Samuel withdrew from the area, but not before he had pitched camp on the other side of the spring, permitting all to get a much needed rest.
There the family washed both clothing and self, and made repairs to shoes, clothing, harness, bridles, saddles, wagon, ox cart, etc. In the meantime, Samuel, his brother Cowden, and Samuels three sons took turns scouting the wild wood in all directions for another spring and home site. This they found on the James River; later on Finley Creek.
Springfield History records the defugalty between Fulbright and Campbell but omits mention of Samuel Martin in connection with the spring, even though twenty references are made of Samuels various activities as the first Presiding Justice of Greene County; also, as assessor, and as an unsuccessful candidate on several Whig tickets.
While I could not choose, at this late hour in time, to defame those "Honorable" pioneers of our early history, I, nevertheless, retain the studied opinion that had John P. Campbell and William Fulbright chosen to respect, and observe, the unwritten law of the early pioneers of that day, in regard to the validity of prior "claim" rights, instead of resorting to the law of the jungle, Springfields bountiful water supply would today be called Martin Springs instead of Fullbright Springs. While some of these memories will fail to jibe with the better known, and more generally accepted, record of events of early Ozark history, it is with all humiity that I have ventured to contradict some few minor versions of past events.
These early settlers would have been highly repulsive to us. We, of todays affluent generation, would have passed them by, holding our snobbish noses as we hurried on. What we tend to forget is that, for our forefathers, there were no rapid transits, no aeroplanes, no trains, no carsin fact, no roads, not even a blazed trail into the rugged Ozarksonly three generations ago. My own grandfather, Andy Martin, then 22 years of age, was among that unsightly entourage. Those were the men, (and men like theml, who carved from a wilderness the civilization we enjoy today. Their labor built every road, every bridge, every home, every business, every railroad and every aeroplane. It was their "horny hands of toil" which cleared away the forests and planted the fields of grain. It was they who molded every brick for factories and skyscrapers, and chiseled every stone which built our homes, our schools, our colleges, and institutions of service and justice. They, and their posterity, by long torturous hours of "toil, blood, sweat and tears", gave to us our great affluence. and the worlds finest opportunity for individual growth, development and fulfillment.
MEMORIA OF THE MARTINS
How R.A. (Andy) Martin Died
On May 19, 1970, after attending a 10 a.m. Board Meeting of SCORE at the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, I made the noon meeting of the Rotary Club, and then in the afternoon we drove to Point Lookout, Missouri.
Dr. R. M. Good, President Emeritus, had invited us to see the School of the Ozarks Campus and spend the night in the Guest House. After dinner with Dr. and Mrs. Good, we enjoyed a brief visit with Dr. M. Graham Clark, President of the School.
Wednesday morning Dr. Good said he would like to invite our mutual friend, Douglas Mahnkey, to meet us for lunch at the Branson Rotary Club. There we also saw: Vernon James, my "old" 7th grade teacher; John Parnell, Bank President; and Steve Miller, Curator of the Schools museum.
From Branson, we went east to Theodosia Resort on Bull Shoals Lake, where we spent the next night, after fishing for walleye until dark. However, "Lady Luck" was not in the boat with us, and we returned empty handed.
The next morning, Thursday, we drove to Gainesville, Missouri, for a breakfast of country ham and eggs. As soon as the Courthouse opened, we inquired about records concerning my grandfather, Andy Martin. We found none, as the Courthouse had burned in 1910. There were several Martins in Ozark County, but we found none brave enough to claim kin.
We then proceeded to Ava, Missouri, which is the county seat of Douglas County. We were advised by the County Clerk that the Douglas County Courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1886. No records existed of an Andy Martin who was shot in front of the old Courthouse in 1864, by Rebel troops.
The Clerk referred me to Elmer Curry, who owns the weekly newspaper and a very prosperous printing business. Just as I arrived at the printing office, Icy Reece Reynolds Curry walked out. I hadnt seen her since our school days, some fourty years ago. She, too, is now "white-headed." I took a chance and said, "Hello, Icy." I told her who I was. She welcomed me and took me into the office and introduced me to her new husband. He found the No. 2 Issue of the Douglas County PaperMay 1887. I needed records of 1864 of the death of Grandfather.
Icy suggested I call Mr. Granville Prock, an 80-year-old retired sheriff who might have some memory of stories of Civil War days. Mr. Prock was ill and said call Barney Singleton who had served as his deputy. We went to Barneys house and repeated the story of Grandfathers demise and of how the Rebels had shot him in front of the Courthouse. Barney said, "Yes, I had been looking for you, as Mr. Prock has already called me and told me the story of your grandfather Martin having been shot in front of the barl" I told him it was not exactly a bar but the old County Courthouse. We enjoyed visiting with Barney and his wife, but got little information of value regarding relatives.
Finally, leaving Ava empty-handed, we headed southeast for Gentryville, a one-store Post Office combination with a sawmill nearby. Here, Elza Bell and his wife lived on a rugged 40-acre hilltop. They are unschooled and unkept, but friendly, honorable and Godly. Elzas grandmother was fathers sister, Angeline, who married Louis Bell. Elza told me of Murtie Smith, of Souder, Mo., who was the only daughter of Aunt Angeline. Murtie and her two sons live on top of the hill, about two miles from the store-Post Office combination of Souder, Missouri.
Waid Gardner owns the store at Souder. He is an extremely interesting and courteous person of unusual perception. We visited with Gardner, bought gasoline and drank a Nehi Peach Soda our first in thirty years, as he was out of RC Cola. He gave us a beautiful bucks horn, which he had found in the woods nearby.
From there, we easily found the Smith place, and one son, Lyle, who was building a new bed-rack on his pickup, for carrying his horse. He told us his mother, Murtie, lived in the small house about a quarter of a mile belowMrs. Ira Smith. We found her lying on a divan, which we could see from the open door. We knocked and she said, "Come in." We talked of her mother,
Angeline, and of stories told of Grandfather Martin. She verified our memory of his being shot by Rebels in 1864, and having spent the night in the Courthouse at Ava. However, she further amplified the story that Andy was shot and left for dead, but the women and boys loaded him on a wagon and hauled him fifteen miles to the home place and nursed him back to health. Just as he had recovered, the Rebels came again. Most of the men folks had run to the hills and hid in the woods, Out of the pathway of the Rebels. Andy chose to shoot it out with them. He killed the Lieutenant and two soldiers before they shot him down. The contingent was larger than expected, so they continued to shoot him even after he was dead. Later, more than thirty bullet holes were counted in his body.
Aunt Angeline died of cancer at 62 years of age. Cousin Murtie is now 86, having been born in 1884. She complains of pain in her stomach and plans to go to the doctor in Ava soon. She asked us to be sure and write her, and that she would answer. This we did, and she replied, on several occasions.
ROBERT BRUCE MARTIN
Our father was Robert Bruce Martin (1844-1915). As a Union soldier in the Civil War, he suffered exposure which debilitated him for life. However, from his general appearance, altho a small man, he have the impression of a man of average strength. Because of this infirmity, he would usually avoid the heavy farm work, occupying himself with trading, and buying and selling of cattle and horses.
Father had very little formal education, but was far above average in the rural Ozark community in which we were reared. He read his Bible regularly, and always read a chapter to the family each Sunday morning, followed by prayer substituting for church.
Discipline was one of the Fathers strong points. He never tolerated "back talk" from us childrenI mean the smart, saucy kind, so common among some of todays spoiled young people. When he read or talked, we listened quitely, and with respectat least with all outward pretense of listening.
Father was very orderly. All tools, utensils, and parts had a definite place, and all the family were required to observe it.
Likewise, Father was very meticulous in his dress. Most all of the farmers of our area wore
overalls and blue shirts. We boys wore homemade overalls and shirts; mother, homemade dresses. But Father had a "store-bought" shirt, suit and overcoat of dark wool. He always wore a white shirt and black string tie. His hair was steel gray, and he wore a six-inch chin-whisker with white mustachealways well cut and very clean.
His habits were excellentno tobacco, no vulgarity or profanity, no abusive use of drugs or alcohol, and no conscious waste of time or money. He was an early riser, and we were usually all in bed between 9 and 10 p.m. The exception was Mother, who frequently sewed all our clothing by lamplight. Sometimes, she spent late hours making our patch-work quilts, or "carding" the wool or cotton for "batting" in the quilts, or knitting socks, sweaters and mittens for the family. Hence, the old saying: "Man may work from sun to sun, but a womans work is never done."
Father was "tops" in helping us shell corn or beans or peas in winter, around the big fireplace at night. He enjoyed seeing us throw cobs or bean hulls on the fire, causing instant flame and light in an otherwise rather drab darkness.
Perhaps it was because I was the oldest child that Father appeared to confide more in me, and depend on me. In his last four or five declining years, he would depend on me to fetch to his bedside many of his needs. If the weather was good and he was able to walk, he frequently wanted me to lead him, just before he retired at night, about a quarter of a mile west to a small "Indian Mound" where he knelt in prayer at the foot of a small oak tree. In icy, bad weather, he stood, holding onto the tree. Since we had no toilet facilities, this bedtime trip was also his occasion for elimination, which was regular as clock work.
One might wonder how he managed, in the summertime, to avoid snake bites for so many years, in the open woods, Simple! He used his ever-present walking stick to tap about a circle on the ground. He said there was little danger of snakes, but he preferred to be certain.
He talked much about my future and gave me much encouragement. Once he told me he had a twenty-dollar gold piece in a small change purse on top of the fire-board. He wanted me to have it when he was "gone". This proved very important to me in later years.
I have always been thankful to Father for his painstaking effortalways to show me the quick, easy, and efficient way to perform my labors. This training was very helpful to me in holding a job (that which required physical labor) later while earning my way through school. Frequently, I proved to be able to turn out twice the high-grade physical work as some football boys who were much larger than I was.
Later, when struggling to establish a small business, this knowledge and early training readily made the difference between success and failure. I was able to "hold on" during a period of economic upheaval when more than half those in my line of business (bottling) went bankrupt. To be more specific, there were in excess of ten thousand bottling plants in the United States when I entered the business in 1929. Six years later, there were less than five thousand. Thanks to the early training under Father, I was able to survive by doing most of the work in the small plant myself. Even though he had been gone since I was fourteen, this early training stayed with me, and it has always proven most valuable to me. I should be obvious to all that if, as in my case, a boy suffers a shortage of academic ability, it becomes doubly important that he learn early in life to accelerate his manual dexterity to fit a more practical life. It is in this field that our modern school system needs a thorough overhaul during this 7th decade of the 20th century.
MAGGIE FISH MCPHERSON
Our mother was Maggie Fish McPherson, who was married to Robert Bruce Martin in 1899. She was of a serious and serving nature, filled with love, honesty, truth and virtue. I never knew her to tell an untruth or to utter a curse word. She was a Christian to the core. She read the Bible daily and knelt in prayer. Likewise, she taught us, not only to kneel, but why we should kneel. Faith and hope were her sustaining forces. She believed in the power of prayer, only if we put our "shoulder to the wheel", and with all our might and effort, helped the miracle happen.
Even though Mother was a large woman, with exceptional physical and spiritual endowments, she had little opportunity for formal schooling above the 3-Rs "Reading, Ritin, and Rithmetic". Once she took a refresher course in the fifth grade with us, when Blawnie and I were in the seventh grade.
Mother was the "worlds best cook", for that day and time. On Sundays she served chicken and dumplin (or fried chicken) big homemade biscuits, peach cobbler, mashed potatoes, plus five or six
vegetables and legumes. Frequently, she served an additional meat dish, such as pork shoulder or baked ham. She always topped this off with two kinds of pie, and a cake for good measure. Most of this she prepared Saturday evening after doing a days work in the field, plus numerous other chores.
Usually, the family laundry was done on Friday evening, and the ironing during slack periods while baking or cooking a meal, leaving little spare time for rest or personal vanity.
Even though Mother had little schooling, she was an exceptionally sharp business women. Once she borrowed some money from a neighbor in order to buy a herd of 30 yearling calves. I was sixteen and went with her to make the deal. We met the owner and rode to a large pasture where the cattle were grazing. A price of $32.00 per head was agreed upon, and the owner pulled out his pencil to figure on paper. Mother spoke up and said, "Three threes are ninethats nine hundred; and three twos are sixthats sixty dollarsnine hundred sixty dollars." We had raised plenty of feed that year for the cattle. This made the venture profitable, and made possible the repayment of the loan plus a profit.
Mother rarely ever appeared to be rushed or in a hurry, but could turn out more work in a day than most any two women. Her secret was her attitude; she refused to "fight her work". If a stitch, bolt, nut, or part did not fit, she calmly laid it aside and got another. Frequently, she hummed a melody while working, or talked to us children, patiently showing us the better and faster way of doing the job. Or, perhaps she would be philosophying on a moral or practical lesson of living. In her younger years she, more nearly than anyone I have ever known, had mastered the art of working (physical work) while carrying on a conversation. Mastering this secret was a "life saver" for me later, while earning my way in school and doing much of the physical work necessary in getting a small business started from scratch.
Mother was a friend to all except one distant neighbor, Tom Richeson, who stopped her when they ~zhanced to meet on a lone bridle path which crossed the big pasture. He grabbed the reigns of Mothers horse and held it, while he propositioned her to leave the country with him. She was highly insulted and threatened to tell his wife. Finally, Mother was so exasperated that she told Tom never to come near her home; that she would shoot him if ever he came around. This she actually did later when a group of men passed the house on horseback. They were riding in a gallop, and Mother failed to recognize Tom until all were past the house and disappearing in the forest. An hour or so later, she heard the noise of horses coming down the roadway. She ran for the gun and was standing in the yard aiming at Tom. The others were riding so near him that she feared she would shoot them also. When Tom saw her with the gun drawn on him, he set his spurs in the sides of his horse and headed for the nearby timber. He was leading a second horse, which ran on the opposite side of one of the trees and almost jerked Tom off his horse. About that time Mother leveled the old muzzle-loader at him and pulled the trigger. The shot must have sprinkled both horses also, as one broke loose and both disappeared into the forest, with Tom barely hanging on to the one. I was only six years old at the time, but I can recall vividly the scene of action. Father was not there at the moment, but chided Mother for shooting Tom, as there could have been serious court action if he had been killed.
Mother had great ability when it came to detailing the activity of us kids. Each had his duties spelled out for the day, and she knew how to impress on us our obligation to duty! Otherwise, we would never have found time to can 200 half-gallon cans of peaches, numerous cans of corn, beans, pickled beets, and 20 gallons of wild blackberries. These were picked after walking a distance of two miles down the Bee Creek pathway.
One year we cut and dried 20 bushels of apples by spreading them on the porch roof in the sunshine. Those of you who have never eaten dried peach pie have certainly missed a real treat! If we were different to other rural families of the Ozarks, it was because of one word WORK!
When we moved to Forsyth, Missouri, Mother rented 40 acres with a large 10-room house. There she did little farm work, as she confined most of her efforts to the six students who paid us for room and board. We boys raised corn and oats on the farm land (few "wild oats"). When the corn was ready to harvest in the Fall, we arose at 2 a.m. in the morning, "cutting" and "shocking" the corn by moonlight. This gave us two advantages: First, the dry fodder was softened by the heavy dew, making it more easily handled, and, Second, we could go to school during the heat of the day. A few years later, when I was in school at Springfield, Mother and Blawnie moved up with me for about six months, where I
helped pay the rent, then walked 3 miles to school. Grandmother, who lived at Peel, Arkansas,
became ill, so Mother took Grandmother, Blawnie and Bob to Loveland, Colorado. She thought the climate would be good for Grandmother. Jack was teaching school at Pinetop, Missouri, and remained in the Ozarks for another year or so. Mother lived in Colorado (Loveland and Windsor) for about twenty years.
In the meantime, she married John T. Gammon. To them was born John Eugene in 1926. The marriage lasted only a few years, even though Mr. Gammon was a fine individual. Mother and Eugene continued to live in Windsor, Colorado, until World War II, when he joined the U.S. Navy and went to the South Pacific. It was only after this that Jack and I were able to persuade Mother to join us in Oklahoma. Jack had established a small grocery store in Okmulgee. and she was able to help him run the store, and also occasionally helped me some in my RC warehouse in Okmulgee.
During this time, she bought a small house near Jack, where she lived until her death in 1960. She was a Christian Scientist and continued to read her Bible daily. She rests in the Okmulgee Cemetery, just south of the Citya devoted and good Mother.
The following quoted item, concerning my Mother, was written by Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Mahnkey in 1916, and appeared in "The White River Leader," Branson, Missouri:
"Tis not everyone that has the good fortune to meet and get really acquainted with a heroine. I have and am going to tell you all about it. She is not "tall, stately of queenly bearing." She is only a fine robust healthy woman, who lives a very commonplace life and would be embarrassed to find herself thus publicly portrayed. She was married when very young to a man much older than she wasa Civil War veteran. To them were born four strong, sturdy children, three boys and a girl. The father failed in health, was almost a confirmed invalid, requiring really more care than the children. She toiled in the field, hauled lumber when the crops failed, making the long hard drive to the railroad after feed for the stock. The old man died, and all was left upon her. Bravely she went ahead, even raised a field of wheat, marketed the fruit from their little orchard, kept the children in school. I saw her not long ago and she was telling me so proudly of their abundance of sweet potatoes, their immense store of feed put away for the cows and horses, of the expected new calves and colts, of how she thought she could get along even if she did not get the pension which is legally, justly hers. As I talked with her I noticed one finger was bound up, and I inquired what had injured it. As simply as one might mention a pin scratch or a prick from an embroidery needle, she said, "I was shoeing the gray mare and she jerked her foot and run the nail into my finger." This is as perfect a lady as I ever met. She is always well and neatly dressed, her children will compare favorably with children raised where all advantages of schools and society are possible. She came up to the Thanksgiving entertainment at the school house, driving a fine sleek team to a nice comfortable covered carriage. The fine manly boys and the comely daughter, now all reaching an age and size to be so helpful assisted splendidly with the program. Their part of the basked dinner was simply fine. As we clasped hands to say good bye, I noticed what an ugly little scar the horse shoe nail had made, and I said to myself that I would remember this, when my petty trials and vexations seemed so hard to bear. Sometime I hope we will meet again."
BLUNT HERVY MARTIN
The Generation Gap!
Virginia is one of my favorite granddaughters
"Yes, Virginiathere is a generation gap!" Time was when boys and girls went to school and to college. Today they are all too frequently sent. Indeed, there is a world of difference in went and sent. Someday you may understand this. As your grandfather, with more than a half century of years separating our experiences, I find myself struggling for words which you can fully understand, and which relate in such a way as to partially close this so called "generation gap".
I, too, was one day a child. I, too, was once a teen-ager. I, too, went to schoolhigh school and collegeand finally to a job, and later into a business. Perhaps you can better understand the years which separate us if I tell you a true story of a little boy, Tnulb, and of his struggle toward manhood and fulfillment in life.
He was born one cold midnight, on the first day of December, in the year nineteen hundred. The snow and blizzard winds drove hard on the one-room log hut where his mother lay on the only bed. Almost an hour earlier, the father had been awakened by the mothers groaning, in pains of
labor. He had hastily built a log fire in the huge open fireplace, and had filled a large iron kettle for hot water. He saddled his trusty old horse, rode away in the windy darkness to bring a "granny woman," or midwife, to the bedside of his young wife. Up and down the hills, into the valleys, and across the creeks he rode. It was more than an hours ride before he reached Grandma McGills house. She had no horse of her own, so she quietly dressed and rode away on fathers horse, leaving him to walk back home. When the "granny woman" reached the cabin, she heard the faint cry from within, and it was with some surprise that she saw the babe in its mothers arms. Looking around the room in the dim candle light, the old "granny woman" asked tenderly, "Did someone help you?" The young mother said she had labored as long as possible, and that when the baby came she held him low in front of her body and managed to walk across the room for a pair of scissors with which she cut the umbilical cord. Thus, she detached the one body from the other.
Soon the father arrived, and while he rebuilt the fire, "Granny" washed and dressed the baby, helped the exhausted mother change her own gown and bedding, and then placed the baby in bed with his mother, ready for his first square meal. The roaring fire soon warmed the cold room again. Both mother and babe were now warm, and soon fell fast asleep from sheer exhaustion of unattended birth.
Outside, the storm raged. The winds blew and the snow swished by over the frozen ground. It piled itself high in huge drifts. The cold of night fought its way through every crack and crevice of the little hut. The tree branches in the surrounding forest swayed in the wind, and cracked in the numbing cold of the night.
The father and the old "granny woman" talked as they warmed themselves by the open fire. The father spoke of his plans and hopes for the first-born son. How he, himself, had homesteaded 160 acres of Ozark Mountain land, which would become home if only he could manage to make a living and stay on the land for five years. This he and his young wife were determined to do. Neither the father nor the mother had money, but each was willing to work and save. Neither had an education nor the advantages of schooling above the third grade. They had barely learned to read, write and figure. But this was common in the back-wood hills of the Ozarks where they lived. However, they always expressed the hope that their little son would someday be able to get an education.
The previous summer had been long and fruitful. The small hilltop "patches" of new fertile land had produced an abundance of grain, vegetables and potatoes for the table. The father said the Good Lord had blessed them with plenty. Wild fruits and berries were picked from the forest, and they had butchered one of the four small pigs which they brought with them to the farm. Grain from the harvest was carried five miles on horseback to a watermill where it was ground into meal, or flour, for making bread.
Finally, morning came. The storm had subsided, and the light of day broke through the single small window of the cabin. Mother and child still slept. The father frequently stepped to the bedside where he gazed admiringly at his young wife and son. The father went outside for more wood for the fire. Snow had covered the wood, and it was difficult to carry inside without covering the wooden floor with snow.
Breakfast was prepared by the father on the open fire. He was a good cook, as he had "batched" for many years before marriage. Biscuits were baked in a heavy kettle, placed over the open fire. Coffee was brewed likewise. Ham was fried in an open skillet. Eggs were rarely eaten, as they were usually taken to the country store in exchange for sugar, salt, soda and coffee. But this was a very special occasion!
If there was enough money for different types of cloth, the mother made shirts, dresses, overalls, and all the clothes for the family. There was no such thing as credit or "charge account" for the family in those days. It must be cash or "barter" The mother had no sewing machine, so she made all clothes by hand-sewing. Likewise, she made quilts from scraps of cloth and old garments.
Just as the father was ready to remove the hot biscuits from the oven-kettle, the baby screamed as though in pain. This awakened the mother, who was feeling much better by now. She remarked that the baby must have known that breakfast was ready, and, after feeding him at her breast, she herself took a few bites of breakfast and drank a little coffee. She remarked that she was very thankful that her first child was a boy, and that he certainly appeared to be strong and healthy.
In those early pioneer days, it was the custom that the father should name his sonespecially the first-born son. So the dear old "granny woman" asked what the babys name should be.
Several names were suggestedmostly those with Biblical background, such as Paul, Silas, Peter, James, or John. Finally, the father made his desicion. None of these would do. He must have an unusual namenot one commonly heard. The father said, "His name shall be Tnulb. Now, isnt that a stopper for you!" So, Virginia, you see how it is that this little boy, in my true story to you, was stuck for a lifetime with such an unusual name as Tnulb.
Despite the humble surroundings in which Tnulb found himself, and the frigid winds which drenched him each time the great door was opened for going outside, or bringing in wood, he appeared to adjust to his surroundings and enjoyed life for the first week or so.
At that time, his mother found it impossible to supply sufficient milk for his daily needs. In fact, the milk glands in her body became so inflamed and swollen that no milk could be taken by Tnulb. Many times daily, he would cry himself to sleep in his hunger. At length, he decided to accept cows milk, which was spoon-fed to him. This time he swallowed it in instead of sputtering milk all over everyone and everything. But cows milk did not agree with him. He became seriously ill, and the milk so constipated the little fellow that his bowels hadnt moved for days. Tnulb cried constantly, and his burning fever was becoming serious. The wise mother knew Tnulb would die that day unless relief came. She had no syringe for an enema. She had no laxative or medicine, and no doctor was closer than a half-days ride on horseback. Neither the child nor the mother could stand the exposure of such a ride in the winters cold.
What does a young mother do under such circumstances, when the death of her child is so near? She prayed earnestly to God for help. Her words were not audible, as the sound of her voice was drowned by the incessant scream of her child. Finally, her tears dried, as in preparation for the inevitable. She realized she must face it alone, as the "granny woman" had long since returned to her own home, and the father was about the chores of the farm. The mother stood, holding the baby in a state of blind bewilderment, as her heart continued to beseech a higher Power. Lowering her head to touch the babys torrid face, her eyes focused on a small baby-spoon which she had hoped Tnulb would someday use. In desperation, she grabbed the spoon, laid her baby on an old quilt which was on the table and began to pick the hardened feces from the swollen anus of her dying child. Natural movement, at length, came, and Tnulb was saved from certain death. This was the first of at least a dozen such escapes from "Deaths door" in the rather long life of Tnulb, some of which I shall enumerate later.
Finally, winter passed; spring came, and flowers bloomed. Garden was made and crops were planted. Then came summer. By this time Tnulb was fat and vibrant with joyous chuckles, gurgles, and amazement, over the myriad wonders of the world about him. He was now six months old, and big enough to be taken by his mother to the field where she plowed the corn crop. Tnulb sat in a blanket in the shady corner of the rail fence, while his mother plowed row after row. Upon the completion of each "round", she would step to the corner shade and check on her infant son. She knew from experience that many things could possibly harm her baby. Bees could sting; snakes could bite him; or he could swallow and choke on some foreign object, such as rocks, twigs, or leaves.
Once she observed that Tnulb was cooing loudly and trying to reach for something just to his right, and out of reach. The mother spoke gentle and loving words to him as she came nearer. To her amazement, she discovered the object of his attention. It was a large rattlesnake, coiled and ready to strike! The mother first snatched her infant son to safety; then, finding a sharp hoe, she calmly killed the snake by cutting it in two. This was his second escape from certain death, for in a few minutes he would most surely have been bitten in the face as he tumbled over on the snake.
Tnulb grew year by year and was now approaching his fifth birthday. His father was an old man of 55 years when Tnulb was born, and had now become chronically ill. So it became necessary for the mother to take the corn to the "grain mill" for grinding into meal for the familys bread and mush. This was five miles over the hills and valleys. It was necessary to cross two creeks, one of which was very swift and treacherous when flooded.
The morning had been fair and mild, and the mother decided to put the "turn" of corn on the back of the grey mare. She then set Tnulb in front of the sack of corn and told him to grasp the horses mane and hold on. She mounted the larger horse and lead Tnulbs horse by a long rope halter. By the time the corn was "ground", a flash flood made it necessary to delay the return home, as rain would spoil the sack of meal. By this time the creek was flooded. The swift muddy water
made it uncertain where the crossing should be attempted. There was no time to wait for the water to recede, as the evening was already and darkness was approaching. The large horse had no problem, but Tnulbs little horse was almost washed away by the strong current. Finally, a long rope-like vine became entangled in the hind legs of the little horse. For a moment it appeared certain that horse, meal, Tnulb,and all would be swept away by the flood. Finally, Tnulbs mother managed to guide her large horse around back, and by the lower side of the little horse. First, she grabbed Tnulb, and swung him behind her on the big horse, warning him to "hold on tight." Then, reaching down into the swift water, she grasped the vine which was holding the legs of the little horse. For long minutes, she struggled to break the vine. Finally, it snapped and both Tnulb and the horse were saved.
The seventh year of Tnulbs rather rugged young life found him in the second grade. It was a hot day, and Tnulb had hurried home after school. This was always a strict requirement of his parents, who usually found needed chores for him. When he reached home, he heard his dog barking urgently some distance down the woodland path. The mother gave her permission, and Tnulb raced down the pathway toward the barking dog, hoping to find a squirrel up a tree, or perhaps a ground hog. He was barefoot, and soon felt a stinging sensation on the top of his left foot. He slowed his pace and looked down to find two drops of blood, about an inch apart, forming on the top of his foot. At first he thought his foot had hit an overhanging branch from the bushes growing along the pathway. He was puzzled. He had suffered numerous minor cuts, bruises, and accidents in his short life; but this violent, stinging sensation on top of his foot was so unusual that he decided to abandon the thought of the dog and return to the point where he had first felt the pain. As he stooped to check the overhanging branches of the small bush, he saw a large copperhead snake, coiled and ready for another stike. Scared half to death, Tnulb began screaaing at the top of his voice and running for home. This was a mistake. The mother, hearing his screams, met him and carried him into the house. Finally, she quieted him down long enough to hear his story of the snake, and just where it was hidden along the pathway. The father then inquired of the exact place, and soon found the snake and killed it. He said it measured four feet long.
Since there was no medication and no doctor near, the father recalled where a patch of Indian snakeweek grew. He quickly saddled the faithful old horse and rode off through the woods to a distant cliff of rock where grew the Indian snakeweed. By the time he returned, Tnulbs foot and leg were swollen twice their normal size. Tnulb had "passed out," lifeless as in death. The father hastily beat and pounded the snakeweed into a soft pulp, and made a small package, or poltice, for placing on the foot. Indians claimed this drew the poison out. Perhaps it did. Three days later, Tnulb finally awoke, the swelling in his foot and leg subsided, and, happily, he was still in the "land of the living!"
Tnulb was now eight years old. Tomorrow there would be a big picnicthe Fourth of July! This was the big event of the year for the family, and much planning and preparation had been made for the occasion. Tnulb was especially happy that hot, sunny third of July. Early the next morning, he would harness the horses, hitch them to the wagon, and the whole family would drive five miles to the picnic at Lowry, Arkansas.
For more than a year Tnulb had felt extremely manly. His father continued in ill health; and in many respects, Tnulb had been "the little man of the house," in doing the chores, feeding the horses, cattle and hogs. Him ambition was to be a cowboy with saddle, spurs, chaps, and a large hat. Thus far, he had acquired only the big broad-brimmed, second-hand hat. However, the hat was already oldthe bands were gone and the brim sagged down the back of his neck and almost over his eyes.
It was Tnulbs regular job to take the horses to the pasture each evening. About a quarter of a mile down the pasture road was the smooth straight stretch of road suitable for racing the horses. Although racing was strictly forbidden by his parents, Tnulb kicked his little bare heels into the ribs of the young filly he was riding, removed his old black hat, slapped it over the buttocks of the horse, and yelled a "heap big" Indian yell. To the surprise of Tnulb and his younger brother, Jack, who was riding another horse, the filly took off like lightning, throwing Tnulb over her head. As she ran over him, the sharp steel toe of her shoe hit the muscle of Tnulbs left forearm. He jumped up and looked at his bleeding arm. The flesh was gone from the underside of his forearm. Two leaders (or tendons) were broken and dangled six inches from the wounds. Fortunately, the cut had missed the artery by a quarter of an inch.) Dead leaves, dirt and gravel were ground
into the fleshthe bone was shining white as cotton. The two boys watched the blood flow for a minute or so, then walked on to the pasture gate, where they secured the horses for the night. Then they headed back home after a completed job.
The mother was in the field doing the necessary farm work. Tnulb sent his little brother, Jack, to alert the mother of the accident. He told her the filly had thrown Tnulb and skinned his arm, but failed to impress upon her the seriousness of the accident. She continued the work at hand, and sent the little fellow on home to help with the chores. She said Tnulb might not feel like doing them.
When the father saw the wound, he realized the seriousness at once, and became unusually excited. He sent Blawnie, the little sister, to bring the mother at once. There being no doctor for miles, the mother sat down and picked most of the trash and gravel from the wound. She poured white sugar ii the gash, wrapped it up with strips from an old white sheet, then dropped turpentine on the cloth to saturate the sugar. The next day, the father went for the doctor, but found him drunk at the picnic. He said he would come, but, evidently, he let the celebration overtax his memory. Three days later, he finally arrived, examined the arm and removed the remaining dirt and trash (mainly dead cedar leaves) from the wound. For medicine, he prepared an ointment by taking ten spoonsful of hogs lard, to which he added ten drops of carbolic acid. He then saturated a large piece of gauze with the ointment
(the doctor told Tnulb it was "oinkment.") and placing it gently over the gash, he proceeded to wrap the arm, elbow to wrist, from a roll of clean white two-inch gauze, which was something the family had never seen nor heard of before. Instructions were given to the mother for preparing a wash solution for cleansing the arm when the bandage required changing. This was simply ten drops of carbolic acid in a pint of boiled water. The doctor said turpentine and sugar tended to harden after a few days and would stick fast to the raw flesh. He also warned the family of the danger of carbolic acid, unless properly diluted. The mother asked the doctor to write down the formula. With these simple instructions, Tnulb was left in the hands of a loving mother, who prayed daily and followed instructions religiously.
Although scores of years have come and gone since those painful days, Tnulb still remains convinced that without these latter ingredients, love and prayer, the primitive battle for life would have been lost. Three months of constant daily care, and several pounds of hogs lard later, the arm was completely healed. The ends of the two broken leaders, or tendons, had gradually decayed, and sluffed off from the flesh. The two fingers, which they controlled, would close never to straighten again. The left arm would be greatly weakened by the loss of muscle of the arm. Later, when the arm was completely healed and soreness was sufficiently gone to permit it, the mother would rub the injured hand by the hours in an attempt to straighten the crooked fingers, but without success.
--NOAH E. BURGER
Noah E. Burger, 91, Route 15, died at 4:30 a.m. today at Fremont Manor where he had been a patient since July.
A native of Illinois, Burger moved to Taney County 82 years ago and later to Springfield. He was a retired postal clerk. He attended Kings Way Methodist Church.
Surviving are his wife, Eva; and one sister, Mrs. Virginia Donmyer, Solomon, Kan.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Harris of Ozark.
Springfield (Mo.) Leader Feb. 20, 1974
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly
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