Verna Lucinda Bradsher Bullard
Transcribed July 2007 by Gray Carpenter Church, Vernas great grandniece and great-great granddaughter of Jack and Lucinda Bradsher.
In Little Rock in July 1981, Richard Bullard tape-recorded this conversation with his mother, Verna Lucinda Bradsher Bullard (b. 9 Jan 1898, Greene County; d. 10 Dec 1982, Wichita Falls, Texas).\ In it, Verna describes family life in early Greene County, growing up as the youngest child of Greene County pioneers, J.A. (Jack) Bradsher and Lucinda Ross Bradsher .
This is Richard Bullard and Im talking to my mother, Verna
Lucinda Bradsher Bullard, about her parents and other relatives
as she remembers these things. And your father was John
RB: Bradsher, known as Jack Bradsher
RB: and your mother was Lucinda Ross Bradsher. And what Id like to ask you first of all is about your parents. For instance, my dad was Clarence William Bullard, known as Jack Bullard, and he was five feet eight inches tall. I just wondered if your dad, John Albert Bradsher, was about that height or was he taller?
VB: He was about that height. He was a short man.
RB: And was he sort of a thin man or medium build or ?
VB: He was kindlywell, his weight was around a hundred and fifty, so I guess he would be just a medium
RB: About my size
RB: because thats just about my size.
RB: And was he sort of a dark complexion or a light complexion?
VB: Well, he was a medium.
RB: Of course, he was out in the weather a lot.
VB: Yes. But he wasnt a real light complexion, and his hair was a medium brown with some gray. He hadnt gotten real gray before he died.
RB: Yes. He was how old when he died?
VB: Fifty, uh, sixty-six.
RB: Sixty-six when he died, and he still wasnt real gray?
RB: And, did hehe did have a moustache for a while
VB: He did when I was young, but he had it cut offuh, shaved off while I was still a young person because I objected to it so much.
RB: I see. But he had worn a moustache before that most of his life? Or most of his adult life?
VB: Yes, up until then and I complained so much about it when I was little that he shaved it off.
RB: I know one time that you told me that he sort of had a problem with his hair and he kept it cut short.
VB: Yeah, he did. It would have been kind of curly but he kept it cut short.
RB: It was sort of a cowlick and so forth.
RB: One thing I wanted to talk to you about was, what his working life consisted of. Now I know he was a farmer but did he do other things besides farming?
VB: Well, when he and Mother was first married, they moved to this home where it was all in woods. And they cleared that up and at that time, the Cotton Belt Railroad was building a railroad through there, and he was in charge of the payroll and buying the supplies for the camp. And he would go to Paragould, which was about eleven or twelve miles, and hed go by horseback and hed bring back the payroll by himself. And he never was afraid. Mother said he never did carry a gun.
RB: Well, most of his life, though, was spent farming.
RB: And what kind of crops did he raise?
VB: Well, he raised corn and he raised hay, and he did raise wheat at some time, at one time, and he had a wheat thresher, an old-fashioned wheat thresher. And several of the neighbors at that time raised wheat and he would go around to different places and thresh their wheat. And it was always a day that the neighbors came in and theyd cook a big meal, you know, and entertain them, and then theyd go to the next place and theyd all do the same thing there. And in the fall he always had cotton because he said that was his money crop. The rest of it was just to sustain us but cotton was the money. And he always had some cows and he always had hogs and, of course, we had chickens and geese and all other kinds of small birds on the farm.
RB: Did the family, uh, the children help him a lot in the farming?
VB: Yes, they farmed with him until they got grown. Most of them went out on their own. There wasnt but one of the boys that farmed, and he was kind of a gentleman farmer. Thats Jess, you know.
RB: Yes. Now, who were all of your brothers? You might just name
VB: Well, the oldest brother, Tom, died when he was nineteen. Of course, he hadnt done anything except work on the farm. My next brother was EdEdwardRobert Edward was his name. And he was a doctor.
RB: What can you remember about him, in particular?
VB: Well, he wasI rememberI was just a little girl and Id go to their house to visit and I just was with their children. They had four children and I kinda grew up with the two oldest ones.
RB: Their ages werent too much different from yours.
VB: No, Omer was only two years younger than me.
RB: And then Don was younger than Omer.
VB: Yeah, he was about four or five years younger than I was. And then it was some time before Willard and Robelene were born. And then, uh, he and Amos had a drugstore together.
RB: In Marmaduke?
VB: Yes, and Dr. Bradshers office was at the back and the drugstore was in front for a long, long time. Then Amos sold his part of the drugstore and went to Little Rock. And, I dont remember who bought
RB: I see. Well, then, was that the same location where Omer and Don had their drugstore?
VB: Yes, its the same place. It used toin the beginning it was across the street
RB: Oh, I see
VB: and then Dr. Bradsher bought that block in there. And he put a drugstore in his office, in the back of it.
RB: And then the other brothers
VB: Well, Al was the next brother after Dr. Bradsher, and I dont remember too much about what he did. He taught school some and he was in different business projects but was just a little girl and I dont know what they were. Then he went out West
RB: He left when you were, well, maybe before you were born or when you were real young?
VB: No, I was stillI was, I guess I was about seven or eight years old. And, of course, he was gone for a long, long time because I was grown and had children
RB: Yes, I remember, too, when he came back.
VB: And the next one was Amos; I already told you about him being a druggist. And he went to Little Rock and was there in the drugstore a while and he finally wound up over at Keiser. And the next son was Isreal, who became a minister. And he wasfor a while he was a pastor at some of the churches in Arkansas, and then he went from there to Missouri and was in the St. Louis conference up until he had to retire. And then, Jess, who I said was a gentleman farmer, and he farmed. And then Claude was into banking and cotton business.
RB: Then your sisters. Was Aunt Jenny the oldest, I guess?
VB: Yes, she was the oldest. She was twenty years older than I was.
RB: And then, in relationship to the brothers, she was about the age
VB: She was between EdDr. Bradsherand Al.
RB: I see, yes. And of course, she was a McBride after she married
VB: She married
RB: Uncle Vess McBride.
VB: Vess McBride.
RB: And then the other
VB: The other sister, Della, she was between Jess and Israel. And she married Gid Williams.
RB: Well, getting back to your father, did he have any hobbies, things that he liked to do, that took a lot of, maybe, his spare time that he had?
VB: Well, after he got older, because he was quite old when I was born, and my best remembering of him, he retired from farming but then he put hishe was interested inhe had a big garden and he just raised everything he could think of. And he got some guineas and he got some turkeys and he just entertained hisself. And then he had this special horse that he reared and spent a lot of times with, you know, riding him and fooling with him as a pet.
RB: And what was he called?
VB: Ol Ball.
RB: Ol Ball.
VB: Yeah, (laughing). And then, of course, my daddy was superintendent of the Sunday School at Harveys Chapel for twenty years. And he was on the board.
RB: And taught Sunday School, too, did he?
VB: Yes, and then he was District Lay Leader for several years with the District Conference.
RB: Well now, when you say Lay Leader, did he actually hold the services sometimes?
VB: Yeah. Wed go toand I went with him when hedhed organize Sunday Schools in small, outlying communities, and hed always want me to go with him. And hed start a Sunday School, then hed go back occasionally to see how they were doing.
RB: Well now, when youd go to one of those places, they were probably a real small church? Maybe
VB: They were.
RB: maybe they didnt even have a church there sometimes.
VB: Yeah, sometimes they didnt eventheyd meet in the schoolhouse.
RB: Oh, I see.
VB: was just organizing, trying to get agetting the community involved in Sunday School and church services.
RB: Well now, what other activitiesfor instance, you said he was a Sunday School teacher. What class did he teach?
VB: Well, he was mostly among the men.
RB: I see.
VB: Men usually got together in what we used to call the Amen corner in the church, you know. When I was growing up, the women sat on one side most of the time and the men on the other. And they had one placeoh, the choir would be on this side and on this side there was another group of benches and they called that the Amen corner.
RB: Well, when you say Amen corner did people
VB: Well, theyd say A
RB: they really did respond more then than they do now.
VB: Yeah, but when the preacherd say something that pleased them, theyd say Amen, you know.
RB: I see. They ever say, Nay, or something else? (laughing)
VB: No, they never did say that. (laughing)
RB: Theyd always say amen when they agreed.
VB They never did object to what he said. (laughing) They kept quiet if they didnt like that.
RB: Well, what sorts of church activities do you recall that were, maybe, family-oriented that you enjoyed and so forth?
VB: Well, we hadwe would meet lots of times and have singing. Just group singing.
RB: And people come from other places, too?
VB: Yeah. And then they would have what theyd call Childrens Day. Usually that was in May, and the children would have a program. And then they had what they calledIn the summertime, theyd have revival. And that was a day and night service. Sometimes itd go a week, sometimes two weeks, depending on how interested people were, you know. And it wasit was real good because it got the community together, you see. And lots of times they would have a picnic lunch onmaybe on a Sunday and that was the most of our activities around church and school because we didnt have other things.
RB: Well, getting back to your family, now, we havent talked much about your mother. I think, didnt most all the children call her Maw and all, as I recall?
VB: Yeah, they called her Maw.
RB: They called her Maw. I guess she had a pretty hard life, too, in a rural farm situation.
VB: Well, she did, because she had twelve children. Ten lived to be grown. And, of course, it was in ruralas I said, they started from scratch because they bought their landwasnt even cleared. And they would
RB: Who did they buy it from, do you remember?
VB: I dont remember. And he bought ithe didnt buy it all at once. He bought it in about forty acres at a time.
RB: About what total amount of acreage did he ?
VB: About three hundred.
RB: When he finished, the amount of it was three hundred acres?
VB: When he finished. Yeah.
RB: And your mother, what would, say, a typical day in her life be like, you think, when you were at home there?
VB: Well, during the crop time, it was get up real early because the menif the dew wasnt on the ground, they liked to get into the field by daylight because it was cool, you know. And she always tried to prepare them a good, hearty breakfast.
RB: What would that consists of?
VB: Well, sometimes itd be hot biscuits and butter, and sometimes shed fry ham and eggs, and just, you know, jellies or whatever you
RB: That means you had to get up and build a fire and all that before you could do it.
VB: Yes, in a wood stove. You had to getbuild a big fire in a wood stove.
RB: You had a cast-iron wood stove.
VB: Yes, thats right.
RB: Then, too, I guess the baking was done in the oven of the
VB: of that stove.
RB: of the stove. Of course, you probably used, what? An old cast-iron skillet?
VB: Yeah. We had an old iron pot that had legs on it. And when it wasnt used in front of the fireplace to cook in, youd take the eye out of this old cast-iron stove and set it downthe legsd go down and itd set down around, you see.
RB: Oh, I see.
VB: And itd cook vegetables in that, green beans
RB: So youdit really set down in the hole there in the stove.
VB: Itd set down in the hole.
RB: So it woulditd kinda heat in there, closer to the fire.
VB: Yeah. And she had a Dutch oven. And shed bake sweet potatoes by the fireplace. Youd pull out coals and set this oven over it and put your potatoes in there and then put the lid on, put coals on topBake sweet potatoes that way.
RB: Probably be real good that way, too.
VB: Well, she used that a lot. And afterof course, I was the youngest and after all of them married and left home, it was just Mother and Dad and I, and we would cook our evening meals sometime in the winter time when it was cold, you know, cause we didnt have central heat. We just had the fireplace, and we would cook whatever we were going to havemaybe wed make biscuits and cook em in that Dutch oven.
RB: So really, a lot of the cooking was done in the fireplace?
RB: What other things did she cook in the fireplace?
VB: Well, thats all I know of.
RB: Did she have hooks that shed hang pots on?
VB: No, we didnt have that
RB: Didnt have that sort of thing
VB: No, not after I came along. They might have had before that.
RB: Earlier, before they had a wood, er, stove, a cast-iron stove.
VB: And then in the wintertime there was always a hog-killing day, you know. And we had great big wash kettles. We had two.
RB: About some particular time of year that this took place?
VB: Yeah, a real cold day. A cold time.
RB: Probably January, maybe? Or February?
VB: Well, it might have beenif it happened to be a cold time in October or November.
RB: So it just depended on the weather, really.
VB: We had to have cold weather. And they
RB: And they figured it was going to be cold for several days.
VB: Yeah, thats right. We figured that we had a cold spell that would last and they
RB: And how did you arrive at that? Did you ever use an almanac maybe?
VB: Well, yes, they went with that some. But eventually
RB: I imagine it was a matter of knowing the weather. Your dad tended to know the weather? He could judge the weather?
VB: They understoodthey studied the weather better than people do now.
RB: They lived in it every day, and theyd tend to know it.
VB: Yeah, and they could tell by different things. Now, a lot of times Ive heard them say, Were gonna have a cold spell. The hogs would do certain things, you know. Therere certain things the animals did.
RB: Do you remember what the hogs did?
VB: Well, theyd squeal and get together, and kinda...
RB: Kinda huddle up?
VB: huddle up and youd know that it was turning cold.
RB: Were there other things like that you remember that they talked about?
VB: Well, I cant
RB: I know, seems to me like when its going to rain, the flies would come in or something. Do you remember something
VB: Yeah, you could always tell that. It would be stickyhumid, we call it now.
RB: But getting back to the hog-killing, kinda how did that take place?
VB: Well, usually, sometimes your neighbors would help you and sometimes you just did it yourself. We neverafter I was grown up, we never killed a lot of them because it just wasnt that big of a family. But they killed the hogs and theyd have a big barrel and theyd have that fulltheyd heat up water, have it boiling, and theyd kill the hogs and then they scalded them in those barrels of hot water. And then theyd scrape emscrape the hair off. And then theyd cut em up and hang em up and let em cool and cut em up. And theyd let the meat lay out and they put salt on em to cure it out. And I dont knowtheyd leave it out a few days and then theyd put it down in salt for so long and then theyd take it out and wash it off and hang it. And then theyd buildWe had a dirt
RB: Floor? In the smokehouse? A dirt floor?
VB: smokehouse. And wed make a big fire under it and smoke that meat. And I think its hickory hardwood that they used to smoke with.
RB: And theyd kinda keep it smoldering some, I guess. Did they cover it up with something?
VB: Yeah, yeah. They didnt want it tothey kept it a-smoking. I dont know how they did that.
RB: And then theyd render down the fat and
VB: In these big wash kettles.
RB: in the big wash kettles and theyd make soap and
VB: Yeah, and
VB: Ive seen MotherWed have a big gang and Ive seen herwhenever those cracklings would get nearly done and itd be nearly mealtime, shed take a whole side of ribs and just put em down in there and theyd cook in just a little while in that hot grease.
RB: Its just real hot greasecook real fast.
VB: And theyd just come out just as crispand drain em, you know. And they were delicious.
RB: So, probably on hog-killing time, youd cook the ribs that same day, maybe
RB: or when you rendered down that fat, one of the
VB: Yeah, lot of times, one of the things that wed
RB: One of the good parts about it was getting to have those ribs, I guess.
VB: (laughing) And then the backbonethat was different than what backbones you see nowadays. There was a lot of good meat on it. I know wed come in from school sometimes and Motherd have a big pot of stewbackboneand that was so good with some cold biscuits or cornbread, you know, youd beafter walking from a country school home, youd be hungry and tired. And thatd always give you a little lift. Then, when you got rested you had to change your clothes. Now, you couldntbecause we had chores to do: bring in wood, go get the cows, and help milk. So we didntAnd wed get that all done and help prepare the evening meal. We tried to cook enough of a morningMother didto have something left towards the evening meal. And of course
RB: Well, that kept from having to have a lot of..
RB: hot night and hot house, too.
VB: And then, after that time, Dad and Mamawell, we called him Papa, thenand I always said Mama. I never did say Maw. They had to kinda stay on a strict diet so we didnt cook like we did when all of them were at home.
RB: Now, whywhat kind of diet were they on?
VB: Well, they had to stay off of saltthey both had high blood pressureand they had to stay off of fat meats, which we used to have a lot of, you know, with those hogs. And that was the main thing, to stay away from
RB: And they knew to do that then? I didnt know they
VB: Yes, well, my brother, being a doctor
RB: had advised them
VB: had advised them about what to eat. He didnt give them any real diet to stay on, but he told them the things to stay away fromthat wasnt good for them.
RB: Well, I didnt realize they knew that then.
VB: Yeah, he did. And thats been a long time, but yes, they knew then that they had to
RB: Well, what other interests did your Mother have, maybe if she had some spare time, what did she like to do?
VB: (laughing) Well, Mother was a great hand toshe loved to quilt. She loved to make quilts. Of course, it was a necessity, too, because we didnt have blankets and we didnt have things that you can buy now. So she would make quilts. And I remember when I was little, and theyd put in a quilt, Id cry because it would be up above me and I couldnt see her. You know, shed be sitting at the quilt and I couldnt see her, and Id cry. I remember that.
RB: Well, what was your house like when you were small?
VB: Well, believe it or not, we had three big rooms. And between two of the rooms there was a big hallway. And we had two fireplaces, one in one of the rooms and then across the hall in the other one
RB: Now this was an open hall? It was open to the winter?
VB: Yeah, and it was as wide or wider than this room.
RB: which is probably ten feet or more.
VB: Yes. And in the summertime, that was the best place. Youd get out there and there was always a breeze that came through there.
RB: Which way did the house face? The road ran
VB: It faced
RB: north and south, I think, didnt it?
RB: so it faced the west, I guess.
VB: Yeah, west and east. And it was woods a lot and a groupright in front of our house was a big grove of walnut trees. And that shaded our house from the west. And then Dad had a big orchard of peaches. And we had every kind of peach that he could find, from the early up until the, uh, what kind of peaches were they?Indian peaches in October. And we had some apples, we had plums, but that peach orchard was the main thing.
RB: The thing he really liked
VB: Well, we sold a lot of peaches.
RB: I see.
VB: People would come and get peaches to can, you know. And he sold a lotAnd he loved to raise watermelons. And at that time they had aThe Soliphone was the paper, was the weekly paper from Paragould, and the editor there would give a years subscription to the person whod send in the best watermelon. And Papa won that for several years.
RB: I think you told me that you, your dad made sorghum, too.
VB: Yes, he did. We always had a big sorghum patch. And when they firstwhen he first grew sorghum, there was a man that brought his mill to our place and made the sorghum for us. If I remember right, his name was Cudd, a Mr. Cudd. And wed make the sorghum and then usually, on the last day that they made the sorghumI just remember this as a childthe young people would come and hed cook up enough that theyd pull candy that night. That was a candy pull. And then after that, after this man quit making sorghum, then there was a fellow who put in a sorghum mill at his home, and he built a big screen, wire screen, and everything overhe had it very modern.
RB: And what was his name?
VB: His name was
RB: Well, its not important, is it?
VB: No, but I
RB: There was a family that made sorghum that I remember we used to get sorghum from. Was that the one?
VB: Well, what was their name?
RB: Well, I cant think, either, now, what the name was. I guess thats not really that important. What else did they do?
VB: Well, theyd get the sorghum ready and take it to the mill and then theyd make our sorghum for us.
RB: What kind of cooking affair did they have for cooking down sorghum?
VB: Well, they had long pans. This man, after he built his, it was permanent, you know. And he used brick and fixed kind of a kiln and then on top of it he had pans. I dont know what they were made out ofthey were black-looking.
RB: Probably steel of some sort.
VB: Uh-huh. And they had different sections and theyd put it inthe juice in here, itd go in here, cook a while and it went around, and theyd skim it off and it had foam would come up on it.
RB: They kept that skimmed off.
VB: And theyd cook it until it come out to the last end, itd be pure sorghum. And they put it up in what they called gallon buckets. But when Dad made it, we had a great big old keg, and on the
RB: Wooden keg?
VB: Yes. And when youd go out in the wintertime, youd go to get that sorghum out there, youd nearly freeze to death (laughing) cause it wouldnt hardly come out. And youd have to open what they called the bunghole or it wouldnt come out at all. It had a little spigot on it, you know.
RB: Well, the man that traveled, this Mr. Cudd, he lived there at Marmaduke or around that vicinity?
VB: Well, he was related to the Cudds that lived up close to
RB: to town
VB: to Harveys Chapel but I dont know exactly where he lived.
RB: And he had a big pan and...?
VB: He carried the stuff around
RB: Brought it in a wagon or something?
VB: Back at that time they had, you know, the mill. They put horses or mules to it and it went around and squeezed the juice out of it. We used towhen theyd bring the cane in towed go get a piece, you know, and strip it down and chew on it, you know, and get that juice out. (laughing) We thought that was so good.
RB: About what time of year did that take place?
VB: Well, they made that in the late summer.
RB: Well now, did he have a special plot of ground that hed raise that sorghum on?
VB: Yes, he hadyes, because it was a placehe thought that clay groundwe had kind of a hillside on part of our farm, and he thought that clay soil gave a good flavorwas better than where you plant it down maybe in what youd call more of a rich ground. And it didwe always did have good-tasting sorghum. The soil has a lot to do with the flavor of sorghum.
RB: And then, you said you had bees, too.
VB: Yes. When I was little, he didntoh, I guess he got rid of them before I was very old. But I remember him, robbing the bees. And Mother made him ashe took cardboard, and then she put screen wire around it and he wore that on his head. But he never would put anything on his hands. He said they never stung him. And wed say, Well, why? Why dont they sting you? He said, They wont sting you if you dont act like youre afraid. But if you face em and dont act afraid, they wont sting. And they never did sting him.
RB: Where did he get his bees originally?
VB: Well, I dont know where he got started but I know in the springtime, you know theysome of them swarm and go out. Well, Mother would ring the dinner bellwe had a great big old pole with a dinner bell on itand shed ring the bell and hed come in and hed
RB: Did they have some particular ring that meant certain things?
VB: Well, we did, but that washed alwaysit was during the time of swarming, so hed know
RB: Hed know what it was.
VB: Hed know it was a swarm of bees. So hed come in and hed take hiswhatever theywhat do they call em? Their
RB: Their frames?
VB: What they put them in, you know. And hed go out and set that down and hed get up there and rake those bees off. Now theyd just be in a great wad, you knowcome down to kind of a point. Hed just take his hand and rake them off and then hed beat on a tin pan right close to that, and theyd go in. And thats the way heand, of course, he got his bees, his extras, that way, you know, by their multiplying.
RB: But originally he may have robbed a bee tree or something?
VB: He might have.
RB: Or maybe he ordered them through Sears-Roebuck
RB: or did they have Sears-Roebuck then?
VB: (laughing) Yes, they had Sears-Roebuck, but I dont think he ordered them. I dont know where he got startedSomebody might have given him
RB: Some neighbor?
VB: Some neighbor might have given him a hive. I dont know how he started that.
RB: And he didnt build the actual frames and beehives? He bought those somewhere?
VB: No, no. Well, they werent like what they have now. You know you get these manufactured ones and they have those sections.
RB: Now, they didnt have the sections in them?
VB: No, they didnt have it that way. And when he was going to rob the bees, hed let people know and theyd come and buy the honey, you know. They usually bought it in comb because we didnt have any way to extract it.
RB: You didnt have any centrifuge or anything to separate it?
RB: I know they were, like you said, they were getting elderly then and most the family had moved away. Since you were the youngest child
VB: And he began to get rid of things, you know, because he got to where he wasnt able to do those things.
RB: Well, did you have a lot of family to come and maybe grandchildren and different ones
VB: Oh, yes. Every summer we hadwe just knew when summerd come wes gonna have a houseful. I called em my grandchildren, too, you know. (laughing) And, especially Omer and Don. Theyd come out there every summer. I remember one time, DonDad told him something to do. And Dad was a very determined person. If he said you had to do something, you nearly had to do it. (laughing) And Don wasnt gonna do it! So he took offhe was going to go back to town! (laughing) And Dad got after him and he run him back in! He never did let him go home! (laughing)
RB: (laughing) That sounds like what happened to me with Uncle Vess. I was going to go over to the creek and I wasnt supposed toand I found out that I wasnt supposed to.
RB: Well, thats something interesting, too, that the farm was on the bluff up above the creek, wasnt it?
VB: Yes, it was. It was a bluff up there and
RB: Did they call that bluff something or did it have a nameOr the creek? You dont remember the name of the creek?
VB: No, nothing special. It was just a creek that ran through there. And we used to putwe didnt have any fishing hooksand wed take pins and turn em, you know, and put em on strings and go down there and catch little old fishI guess itd be three or four inches long. And wed take them home and Mother would say, Well, if youll clean em, well cook em. And wed cook those (laughing)They use them now for minnows, you know, to fish with. And wed catch crawdads sometimes, you know. Wed get a lot of fun, just out of catching them.
RB: Well, when the boys were growing up on the farm there, what did they do for fun? Did they play around the creek at all?
VB: Oh, theyd slip off and go swimming in the swimming hole, which they didnt like for them to dotheys afraid something would happen to them, you knowTheyd do that. And theyd play tricks on one another. They played a trick on Dad one time. Dad was coming in from work and the creek was kind of shallow and he thought hed just stop. He was riding, you know, and he thought hed stop and letI dont know whether it was a mule or a horse he was riding, they had both. And he stopped. It was a horse because we called him Old Jack and he was afraid of everything. And he stopped to let that horse drink and he let his bridle down, you know, and the boys was down there doing something and they saw him and they just raised up and waved their hands and that old horse (laughing) jumped out from under him (laughing)
RB: (laughing) So he ended up in the creek?
VB: (laughing) Yes! (laughing) Well, he played tricks on them so they didnt (laughing)
RB: Well, what other things did the boys find to do for fun?
VB: Well, Dad chewed tobacco and hed get these pieces of tobacco and I remember the trunk that he put it in. There was an old trunk in there and then hed put it in that tray. Well, Claude got to kind of nipping on that tobaccochewing, you knowand Jess slipped in there one day and put some cayenne pepper in (laughing) And I think they forgot about it! (laughing)
RB: (laughing) And hes the one who got it!
RB: I remember one of the things I wanted to go up there and look for, the day I got into it with Uncle Vess, was to go up there and hunt for arrowheads. Did they find any arrowheads and things like that up on that bluff or around the creek there?
VB: I never did. I dont know that they did.
RB: Seems like I remembermaybe it was Uncle Al was telling me about that.
VB: I guess so. I remember Id play a lot by myself and back of our orchard there was this kind of a woodsy grove, and then you went right straight down the bluff. It was steep down there. And I was up there playing by myself one day and I saw some littleI thought they were little chickens. And I walked up and they were just on the ground and they were the cutest little things you ever saw. And I thought, Well, Im just going to get those and take them home. I reached down to get those little chickensDown come this, well, what we called a whip-poor-will. Pounced on me like (laughing) Did you ever see a little whip-poor-will?
RB: Uh-huh. Well, Ive seen whip-poor-wills. I havent seen the little ones.
VB: Well, theyre like a little chicken, you know. I left them alone right away! (laughing). And then, the boys was out hunting one day and they found a little squirrel and they brought him home to me. And I played with that squirrel as a pet. We didnt have a cage or anything. I just kept it around there. But Mamad get aggravated at it. She had a pantry, she called it, and part of her kitchen built in there. And hed get in there, you know, get into things. Finally, he died. Well, where you went into this orchard was a great big gate that you could drive a wagon through. And Claude and Jess went up there and took some old paint, and they put on one of those planks that went across there: Bunny Died May the twentieth, nineteen and five. I never will forget that. (laughing) I guess that stayed there as long as that gate did. I guess its gone now.
RB: Well, Im sure it must be. I know something we were talking about a little earlier was the house, and on one side of this hall was the kitchen and eating area
VB: And on the other side was the
RB: was the bedroom area.
VB: It was all bedroom because we just had to have beds in both rooms, cause its too many of us.
RB: And in the summertime, did anyone ever sleep out in that hall?
VB: We slept out in that hall a lot. Wed take a quilt and go out there and lay down.
RB: Itd be cool with the breeze blowing through there.
VB: And after Dad got older, hed have to rest and hed come in to lunch and hed take a pillow and quilt and go out there and lay down and then Id fan him while he took his nap. I fanned him with an old palm-leaf fan and let him take his nap.
RB: I guess, something we were talking about earlier, too, was the dinner bell. And your mother would ring that for dinner?
VB: Yes. When she got dinner ready, shedwhat we called dinner then, we call it lunch now
RB: It was noon, wasnt it?
VB: but it was really a dinner because they cooked a big meal.
RB: That was the big meal of the day in working time.
VB: And evening was more of a light meal. And wed ring the dinner bell. And we had an old dog. And that poor old dog, I guess the bell would hurt his ears, hed just howl, you know (laughing). They could hear him howling. And we had an old mule that, whenever youd ring that dinner bell, theyd just as well to take out and come to the house cause hed come. (laughing) Hed just take out and come! (laughing)
RB: Well now, did they have some special ring for some other occasion that meant that there was some trouble or something?
VB: Well now, if there was some trouble and you rang it at an odd hour, people would know
RB: Theyd know something was going on
VB: And theyd know somebodys sick. I remember one time down below that bluff where they were plowing, and I guess Jess was just a little boy. It was back when they was trying totalking about the Maine, the ship Maine, you know, that sunk. So Jess was down there playing and he decided hed raise the Maine. (laughing) And he dug a hole and put some gunpowder in it and everything, you know (laughing). Course when it went off it, it burned all of his eyebrows off and eyelashes. But that old muleDad was plowingand that old mule took off to the house (laughing). Now thats what they did, anything of fun.
RB: I wonder where he got that gunpowder. Did your dad hunt?
VB: Well, Isreal was a hunter in our family. And hed hunt a lot. And when hed go out hunting, hed take a sack or something, well, you know, hed come home with muscadines and whatever he could find.
RB: Did he gather nuts and things?
VB: He liked to go out in the woods and hunt and gather things.
RB: What sorts of animals did he hunt, do you remember?
VB: Oh, I guess little
VB: squirrels and things like that, because he never did bring anything big.
RB: Well, did you ever see deer or anything like thatthings like that, that might come up to the house?
VB: I never did. Now, Mother told about when they first moved there that theyd see deer every once in a while. But I dont remember ever seeing any.
RB: No bear or anything like that?
RB: But in the early days they did see
VB: They did, whenever they first moved there, cause it was all woods.
RB: Maybe panthers?
VB: And I can remember when thereeven after I was old enough, that the woods come pretty close up to that Cotton Belt railroad.
RB: When your parents first moved to that country, what was it like? Did you hear them say what was the country like when they first moved there? When they were just smallwell, they were really children when they moved to Greene County, werent they?
VB: Oh, yeah. Dad lived in a community they called Scatterville. Now I dont know exactly where that is.
RB: Its close to Rector.
VB: Its in Clay County
RB: In Clay County instead of Greene County.
VB: And Mama
RB: Up that same road when youre going on to Rector. Well, no, theyre not the same road
VB: Its off of
RB: Its about a mile off of this road.
VB: And Mother lived in Elevenpoint, close to Pocahontas. Now thats Randolph County. And, to tell you the truth, I dont know where they met. I never didI guess when I was growing up, I never thought to ask them. Now I dont know.
RB: Well, did they tell any stories about what their childhood was like?
VB: Oh, yes, Mother did. Well, Dad told some. This one thing that Dad told me about hisselfcourse he was five years old when his dad was killed during the Civil War.
RB: Did he tell you what happenedexactly what happened?
VB: Yes. Now, Granddad, his dad, had been out to do something in thehe was a farmer, too. And he came in and his clothesit was spring and his clothes were kind of damp. And they had a big fire in the fireplace and he laid down on a pallet in front of that fire to get warmed up. And these two men came up and they asked for his dad. And his dad, when he went out, one of them shot at him and he missed him. And he jumped off of his horse and run over, and was trying toand his dad was in kind of a struggle and the other man shot Granddad in the back. And Aunt SarahI believeone of the girls ran out to help him and the bullet what missed her just went between her arm and body. And Dad was five years old. And I dont know when it was, then or shortly after that, some of the family got real sick. And they needed some help. And they put Dad on a horse to send him after help. And it was night and he had to go through some woods. And he said there was a panther following himjumped from tree to tree while he rode through that woods. He said that was the scariest thing that he had to experience in his growing up.
RB: You didnt know who these two men were, then, that shot your grandfather?
VB: No, I never did know, but the family must have known because Uncle Jim, Dads oldest brother, which was quite a bit olderI guess he was married, probablyand he got ready to waylay them one time. He was going to kill em and he changed his mind. He didnt think it was worth it. So evidently they did know who they were.
RB: I see. But you dont know any more about
VB: No, I dont know
RB: what the problem was or
VB: It was just
RB: what the argument was about or
VB I dont think there was any argument. I think it was justIt was after the Civil War and they justyou know, they just went around and theyd shoot you down for no reason.
RB: Well, there were a lot of people that were coming in then from the North, were they, and settling there?
RB: And your family were Southerners that had lived there.
VB: Thats right. Just like where Mother lived. Now when Grandpa Ross was in the Army, he got sick and they sent him home. He was only about thirty-four or thirty-five years old. And when he came home, he died after he got home. And they buried him in the backyard at night. And the only way they did that, the men that were too old to go to the Army, they hid out in daytime and theyd come in at night. And they came in at night and buried him in the backyard and they fixed itleveled it over so that it wouldnt show.
RB: You couldnt tell it was a grave?
RB: Well, what would they have done if theyd known it was a grave, do you think?
VB: I dont know what theyd have done but evidently they just didnt want anybody to know about it.
RB: I see. Well, this was during the Civil War.
VB: That was during the Civil War. So that left Grandmother with four children.
RB: And thats Ross, your mothers family.
RB: Now about how old was your mother during the Civil War?
VB: Well, Mama was, I think, about seven or eightsomething like that. So, there wasOne dayOf course they had to make their own thread, you know. They spun their own thread and everything. And they started out the days work and this group of soldiers, Northern soldiers, came along, and they stopped and came in. And they asked her Mother if she had any food. And she told them yes. She told them the truthshe had some food. So they said, Well, cook us a meal. So she went to get the meat to cook em a meal and the Captain went with her. I guess theys afraidyou know, they didnt know whatd happen. And when he looked at the meat it was red. Now, they got saltpeterhow they could get saltpeter and couldnt get salt, I dont know. That never was explained to me. But anyway, they cured their meat with saltpeter and it turned it red. And this Captain asked her about the meat and she said, Well, its nothing wrong with it. We cured it with saltpeter. But he was afraid of ithe didnt know. So they went on and left them and they didnt use their meat. Well, after that, there was a family of McElroys. The Old Man McElroy was too old to go to the Army and he was one that had to hide out, you know. But he had a vacant house close to where they lived. So he told Grandma and the children to move there close to him, where they could kind of see after him. And one Saturday, he came in homethey needed some wood. And he took a horse and a sled and went out and got some wood, and brang it up. And the soldiers came up and shot him.
RB: These were Union soldiers?
VB: Uh-huhCarpetbaggers or whatever it was that went around over the country. And Uncle Robert was out there with him and he was holding the horse and Mother was standing on the front porch. They saw it happen. You know, that was a terrible thing.
RB: It sure was.
VB: And Mama said he was a good old man, he just didnt bother anybody.
RB: Well, thats a real shame. And, of course, that was up in northeast Arkansas, where there were a lot of outlaws
VB: Yeah, there were. There were all
RB: like the James Brothers and different groups?
VB: Yes. And it wasntyou see, during the Civil War and afterwards there wasnt any law. They could do anything they wanted to and get by with it. You know, they had to go through Reconstruction and everything.
RB: Well, did they say anything much about Scatterville and what it was like? What that little town was like?
VB: All I know it was just a community and a church, wasnt it?
RB: I really dont know.
VB: I think it was. Theres a cemetery there.
RB: Still is there, up near Rector there, someplace. Is some of your family buried there?
VB: I think someprobably thats where Grandpa Bradsher is buried. And Grandma, too.