Volume 6, Number 11, Spring 1979
It was February 8, 1906 that my parents, Fred and Lillie (Kerr) McCord, loaded their meager possessions into a wagon and with three very young children moved from Galena to the Bend. This was known as "Uncle" Charley Reeds farm, consisting of about 300 acres surrounded on three sides by the James River -- also called the Horseshoe Bend!
In those days livestock was permitted to run free and graze on unfenced land. My father apparently visualized an opportunity for a start -- farm the fertile river- bottom land and use surrounding outside range for cattle. As the old saying was "they had nothing but younguns", but were strong and willing to work and work they did!
I now wonder if this Bend was a Homestead Grant possibly not, being so isolated by the river. Improvements were average for the time. There was a double house (one part being an original log cabin) with connecting fireplaces. The yard was fenced and seeded, had the usual perennial flowers and trees. There was an apple orchard and the original barn and cribs were of log, also.
Prominent families living there before this time had included the Silas Overstreets and Jeff Darrells. The late Iva Darrell-Stewart was born there. I recall the saying of her, "so pretty, she resembled a china-head doll."
This acreage then contained two other small log-cabin homesites and extended south over the ridge with river in sight on both sides, to the Gentry (Seed Tick) School. At a more recent school reunion at Cape Fair, a letter was read from the late Lum Darrell pertaining to his school days there. People living in the schoolhouse area then were Blunks, Tildens, Carrs, Rogers, and others--some of whom, or their descendants, are still there. We McCords--Allen, Helen, Lois and Carl attended here before transferring to Galena in the Fall of 1915. Our teachers were; Iva Porter, Amy Jones, L.D.Bolin, Era Foster, Ollie Carney, Oliver Jones and Harvey J. Reser.
Across the river on the east side (Now Longs Camp) lived Peter Bamer, whom I believe was a stone-mason. He was perhaps builder of the sturdy stone walls and spring-houses in area--some of which are still standing. Others living here during our time were Livingstons, Laytons, Crons, Bill Kings and Lee Wilsons (Parents of Winnie Wilson Sprouse of Galena)
South of this location is now the "McCord Bend" Lake Resort. People named Snyder lived there in 1906 but the place was soon sold to P. H. Pampell from Omaha, Nebraska. They began improving all, and established a permanent home which was truly a show-place for several years. This was the home and parents of the late Elsie (Pampell) May and Vera (Pampell) Standridge, long time residents of the Galena area.
Across the river on the west side were the John Reeds, and farther south the Mel" Blunks--another show-place with a fashionable T-shaped house and large barn. In later years the house was destroyed by fire, but the large barn (now a Vanishing Landmark) is still in use. This is Ruth Ashers home now and called "Cane Bottom". The name was derived from a large island in the river between there and the "Bend" where wild can grew in abundance. Others living at the Blunk place during our time were the Wilbern Lee Family, and the Joe Longs and son, Denny. In 1918 or 1919 my father bought
this place from Blunks and had previously acquired the small adjoining Reed place, making us land poor for sure! (The free range for cattle had long since been out-lawed) . I can recall Dad saying at the time "Joe long is the best renter I have ever known of--even the fence rows are all cleaned!"
The high bluffs (pictured) surround the river at the north end of the Bend. Near the center of the range is "Swift-Shoal Hollow" where a large U. S. Flag (Shield) was intricately carved on the side of the bluff many years ago by an admiring camper. This is now all covered by the lake. A tragic hunting accident occurred near this landmark in November, 1914, resulting in the death of Clevy Blythe, a fine local youth. He was a brother to my long time good friend, Fannie Blythe Hemphill at Galena. Mother and Allen had quite a part here--managed several trips across the swift river on a horse, relayed messages for help by our country telephone. The switchboard was located in
O. W. "Bud" Scotts Barbershop in Galena. (Some may recall this shop with the large display of authentic arrowheads.) Mr. Scott, a fine old fellow, took over at once, contacting needed and necessary help, including the Sheriff, I. H. "Des" Coin, and others who came. The accident had happened in mid-afternoon but was long past dark before folks were home to stay.
Near the west end of this range is "Nolan Hollow" with semi-road, or trail, leading up to the high ridge near site of Nolan Schoolhouse and Cemetery. I dont recall origin of the name Nolan. Walter Crabb at the near cross-roads may know. A tragedy occurred in this Hollow, also, on July 5, 1912. I merely acknowledge the happening as there is a public record of it.
Our campground was the scene of first-night-out for the (Now historical) Galena to Branson Float Trip.
We met nice people making floats and others who came just to camp or fish. The Sherlocks from Kansas City were a party of eight to ten who came several summers in succession. Mrs. Sherlock (Gertie) was especially fond of children. She always brought gifts and at Christmas would ship a large wooden box of fruit, goodies and gifts. We all loved her and kept in touch many years--until her death.
Our beloved Grandfather A. B. (Buck) Kerr maintained his farm on nearby Flat Creek and frequently rode his pony over the hills to see us. His mother-- Nancy Kirk Kerr--was a native of Tennessee and (so we were always told) a direct descendant of the American Indian Princess, Pocahontas. We are proud of this heritage.
Another blessing was our good Grandfather, Dr. T. J. McCord of Galena, who made many horse and buggy trips to the Bend especially during times of illness.
A few of the original furnishings now survive that first wagon move of 1906--an oak standtable, mirror frame from dresser, a buttermold and potato masher of solid wood, a large framed picture "Basket of Roses" in color, and a glass covered butter dish and matching pitcher that were wedding gifts to our parents. We also have an old wooden safe or dish cabinet and one dining chair (out of six) that was ordered from Larkin Bros. Catalog in those early years.
The Bend with fertile land and huge trees, still serves a purpose. There is no trace of a home or campsite. When there last I stared at the beautiful and yet familiar, mountain range thinking of Psalm 121-Verse 1 "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help."
It was May 1919 when our family left the Bend area and a new home in Galena for the Ranch near Crane -- another story.
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