Starvation puts honest people to a hard test. War times brought hundreds of people to this in the south. They were willing to buy or work for provision as long as they had means to buy with and work was not in demand and it was take, steal or starve. Honest and upright people will steal something to eat before they will starve if they can reach it. Thieves do not wait until they are starving before they steal, they steal every chance they get.
Mr. Rila Mullen who was a small boy in Civil Walk times gives an interesting incident of starvation during those days of gloom and sadness. He said when the war come up they were living in Sharp County, Ark. not far from Evening Shade. His father George W. Mullen had suffered a great deal with white swelling and when it had healed he was left a cripple and was not able to do only a small amount of work. When the war broke out he could not enlist in the army on account of this disability for he was not able to stand the hardships in the army. He was not molested by the regular troop of either side. But the bushwhackers and robbers of both sides annoyed him a great deal and made him restless, besides they stole nearly all we had to live on. They treated us so rough that my father deemed it best to seek safer quarters where he thought he could enjoy a little quiet and peace if such a place could be found. So he told my mother and we children to rig up the old wagon and load it with what the robbers had left us which was not much and hitch the cattle to it and move to the south fork of Spring River in Fulton County, Ark., and he would come on and join us as soon as he could arrange some other business that he had to see to before he could leave. When we arrived at South Fork Mrs. Al Hatfield allowed mother to move into her house where we lived until father come to us. Provision was so extremely scarce that it could hardly be bought on any terms. My mother had a little money that she had saved since the war began to purchase food when our supply run short. There was such a small quantity of corn in the neighborhood that some of the women and children were doing without bread. Our breadstuff was exhausted and mother had sent me out to buy some corn but it was not to be found for sale. One day she told me to go to a little mill on South Fork where I might buy a little meal. Wil Hatfield an orphan boy went with me. Mother had such little faith in my finding any meal there to sell that she give me only a small pillow slip to bring the meal in if I found any at all. When we got to the mill there was no one there. Thinking the owner or whoever "tended" it was not far off we sit down and waited for their appearance but after staying some time no body showed up. The mill house was a small rickety affair. It was a log house with large openings between the logs but not big enough for we boys to crawl through. We had to have some breadstuff and we opened the door and went in and found some meal in a box and we filled the pillow slip which did not take all that was in the box and I pulled off my pants and tied the ends of the legs together and filled the legs of my pants with meal and Will Hatfield picked up the pillow slip full of meal and I shouldered my pants and we went out of the mill house and closed the door and we went on home with the meal. Of course I was in my shirt tail.
Springfield-Greene County Library