Volume 2, Number 7, Spring 1966
(Continued from Winter Quarterly "Stories of the Pioneers," by E. J. and L. S. Hoenshel, printed in the White River Leader 1916 or Thereabouts)
I was born in 1848 at Flippen Barren, now Flippin, in Marion County, Arkansas. At that time the nearest railroad was many miles away and goods were hauled by ox-team from Jacksonport, at the junction of the White and Black, to Yellville. Considerable whiskey was brought in barrels, and the drivers of these freight wagons sometimes had a sly way to get all the whiskey they could drink. They would drive one of the iron hoops of the barrel an inch or so out of place, bore a gimlet hole in the barrel, draw out with a quill what whiskey they wanted, plug the hole, drive the hoop back and no one be the wiser. Later (after the war) we hauled our products to Springfield and bought our goods there, a distance of one hundred miles from home.
In 1867 I carried the mail from Yellville to Forsyth, making two trips a week. The only post-office on the route was at Sugar Loaf, near where Lead Hill now is. Sometimes on these trips in the fall, when the morning was cool and frosty, I saw as many as five to twenty-five deer in a bunch.
I was married forty-five years ago to Sarah Springer, and moved to a farm on Bear Creek, near the Missouri line, where we lived about 25 years. We had a family of fourteen children, twelve boys and two girls. All our children lived to grow up, but two of the boys are now dead.
While I was living on Bear Creek, the deer often ate my potato vines. I once borrowed an old rifle to shoot a deer that had been bothering my potato patch. I followed it for some distance, and finally saw the top of a small bush moving in the grass. On looking more carefully I could see the deers head directly toward me. I raised the gun to shoot, but I was so scared that the gun shook like a leaf; but finally I shot, and for a wonder I hit. The deer ran and I followed, and found it lying dead. It was the largest deer I ever saw.
I never hunted much never killed but one other deer and I never fished much until coming to Branson about two years ago; now I like it; and intend to fish as long as I am able, when the fish will bite.
We lived on Bear Creek until about twenty years ago, when we moved to Taney County and settled on what is still known as the old Parnell place, a short distance south of Kirbyville. There I built a ten-room house, large barn and other buildings. Improvements of many kinds were made on the farm, until it was considered one of the best farms in the county.
In the early days the James Boys and the Younger Brothers were sometimes in this part of the country. At one time they stole a fine mare from Dickie Holt, who lived near where Lead Hill now is. They fled to their camps about six miles from where Omaha, Arkansas, now is. Holt and others pursued them, a fight took place and several men were killed.
A band of horse thieves once had headquarters on Bee Creek. A company of men went to arrest them, they resisted and several men were killed. The leader of the band was shot and died soon after.
In my early days the houses were all built of logs, generally round, but a few had hewed-log houses. The chimneys were what were called "stick and clay." The lower part was lined with stones for a few feet, but the upper part was built of poles with clay and mortar between.
My first school house was built of round logs, and an old man, Hardy, was the teacher. Along the sides, holes were bored in a log about three or four feet from the floor. These holes slanted upward. Then saplings or poles were fastened in these holes, and, of course, these poles slanted downward. On these poles boards were fastened, and thus we had desks. The seats were benches, often made from split logs.
The furniture of the houses was generally homemade. A bedstead was made by boring holes in a log of the house, placing a pole in each hole, and supporting the end of the pole by a wooden prop. Some few had regular bedsteads made by hand at home or by some nearby mechanic.
There were no cook stoves. I never saw one till about grown. The cooking was done at the fireplace.
Clothing was all homemade of either cotton or wool. We raised the cotton and kept sheep for our wool. All was spun, woven, cut and made at home. We made, also, our own sheets and pillow cases, as well as blankets. Every home had the spinning wheels and many of them had the loom. There were two kinds of spinning wheels. With one kind the spinner sat and turned the wheel by treadle. With the other or large kind, the spinner was on her feet and turned the wheel with a small stick sometimes with her finger
and as the thread spun out she would walk back just the right distance to give the thread the proper twist. I still have in my possession one of the large wheels.
The food was largely hog and hominy with game. Wild turkeys were almost as plentiful as chickens, and deer were so plentiful that one could often go out in the morning, and come back by ten, bringing in two or three.
For years we could get very little for our surplus products. Sometimes at m y Kirbyville farm we would have probably a thousand bushels of peaches. We dried some not much canning done then and we fed many to the hogs. I have hauled dried peaches to Springfield, fifty miles, and sold them for one dollar a bushel, often got only fifty cents, and sometimes could not sell them at all.
There used to be much cotton raised in Taney County. Four hundred bales were sometimes ginned at Kirbyville. As a boy I have seen 2400 pounds of cotton grow on an acre near the old town of Sugar Loaf.
One of my boys lives in Washington, four in Oklahoma, but the rest of my family are in Taney County.
Two years ago I came to Branson, resolved to spend the rest of my days resting and fishing.
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly
Next Article | Table of Contents | Other Issues
Local History Home