Sunday, July 26, 2020

The James Thomas Smith Family - Part 3

In this section Janice Brown continues to talk about G.O. Cox, her grandfather, and his memory of his grandfather, James Thomas Smith.  The reference to Jeri was a family nickname for Janice Brown and J. B. is Janice Brown.  Jen and Jennifer is the same person. Amy is Janice's daughter.

My father, G.O. Cox tells about his grandfather, James Thomas Smith, taking a wagon load of apples to sell at the coal miner’s company store:

“Well, we took a wagon load of apples down to the Broadway Mines and was going to peddle them out.  Got ‘em all loaded up, and got up before daylight and eat breakfast, got the horses harnessed up, and took that load of apples down there and was going to go…they had company houses in big long rows, and we were going to go from house to house and sell those apples.  But…when we got down there, well somebody told them about it at the company store, which was a great big store where all the miners had to trade. 

“And, so a man come down there and told us we couldn’t sell those apples…at those houses.  That if we wanted to sell those apples, to bring them down to the store and they would buy them.  We drove down to the store…and the porch was way up high…had a great big old porch on the side of a hill.  Higher than a wagon bed.  And that old storekeeper come out there…I never have forgot it…because he had on an apron.  And he stood there and looked down at those apples, and told Grandpa what he would give him for ‘em…I’ve forgot what it was, it wasn’t but just a little…bit.  And there was five or six men all settin’ on benches around there and…Grandpa looked back at all of them and says, “I’m going to dump these apples out at a certain creek.  I have forgotten the name of it.  And if anybody wants any apples, tell them to come out there and they can get all the apples they want.”  And he gave them horses a click, and said, “Giddap.”  And hit the horses, and we drove off. 

“And, we went about two miles out of the town to a creek there with a big steep bank, and he drove the wagon down there, and pulled it back up where the backend of it would be down real low, and he got out and went back there and pulled the end gate out of that wagon and let all the apples roll out.”

JENNIFER asked:  “Couldn’t he sell them somewhere else?”

G.O.:  “There wasn’t anywhere else to go.  That was a town.  That was all of it.  The mines run it and owned it all.  (Broadway Mines).

J.B.:  “Did you all pick those apples yourself the day before?”

G.O.:  “Well, of course, we did.  We got out in the orchard and went from tree to tree, and picked out good apples, and polished them, and put them on a wagon bed piled with straw.  Why heck.  We had put a lot of work into ‘em.  Everybody picked.  Everybody in the family.  Yes.  Trying to make a little money.”

JEN:  “That was you and your granddaddy.  G.O. “Yes, my grandfather Smith.”

J.B.:    “Grandmother’s daddy…James Thomas Smith.”

AMY:  “That sounds like fun!”  (at that time, my little daughter Amy was nine years old.)

G.O.:  (He remembered something else about the wagon story and selling apples):

“But I was always saying something.  On that same porch that I told you about when we drove up there to sell those apples.  Well, there was always a bunch of loungers sitting around there that wasn’t working.  And mama sent me to the store one day for something.  But when I walked up them big high steps and got up on that porch, well, one old man turned around to me and said, “Hello, Stoebuck.”  And I said, “Hello, Homemade.”  And just went right on in the store. 

JEN:  “What does Stoebuck mean? 

G.O.:  (chuckling) “ It was just a name he had for me.  But I have never forgotten it.”

JEN:  “Because you called him, Homemade?”

G.O.:  “Because I called him “Homemade” and all of them guys just like to have fell off the benches.  And then I heard my Daddy tell my Mother a few days later, that everybody in that mine went to calling that guy, “Homemade.”  And that liked to have tickled them to death, you know.  And I guess it embarrassed him.”


J.B.:  “Well, listen, Daddy, tell Jennifer about your first train ride…from Broadway Mines to Beaver Dam…how cold the depot was.”

G.O.: “Well, honey, we got up way before daylight…had to do down there to catch the train.”

JEN:  “How old were you?”

G.O.: “I don’t recall.  But I wasn’t very old.  Because I had never started to school.  I would say I was about five years old, probably.  Maybe not that old.  But we had to bundle up.  And we got down to the depot, and there wasn’t any fire or anything.  And we’d go outside and look…and see if we could see the headlight coming on the train…there was a big cut through the side of that hill…and they would stand and listen to see if they could hear the whistle. (Laughing).  And you had to start a fire in the (wood) stove.  But it was cold, and only a few little sticks of kindling, and it was real slow to burn, and take off.  And we would warm our hands, and then put our gloves back on.  I had on a pair of mittens.  Didn’t have any fingers.  Just a thumb, and a string around my neck to keep from losing them.  Finally the train come.  And the headlights was shining.  Boy, and it pulled in with all that noise, and steam and everything.  Boy, I thought that was something.  Got on that train, and we didn’t get started until we was stopping and getting off in Beaver Dam.  (Laughing). About six or seven miles.”

JEN:  “Well, how come you took the train ride?  Just for sport?”

G.O.: “(tape is illegible for a few seconds)…and then when we got to Beaver Dam, we rented a horse and buggy and went out to Pa’s farm.  My Grandpa Smith.”

 (JB – I imagine at that time they were living in one of the company houses at the Broadway Mines where Granddaddy worked – and they were going to visit Grandmother’s parents where they lived near Select.)  Shortly after this period of time, they moved to Edgerly, Louisiana and Granddaddy went to work in the oil fields.  They lived with her sister, Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” - (“Auntie” and “Uncle”) to us.  Uncle worked in a store in town.  My daddy started kindergarten or first grade there, I’ve forgotten which, but somewhere Grandmother tells about this, and about dressing Daddy up for the Mardi Gras party at school.  He didn’t have a costume, so she put some soot on his face, and some old clothes, and he went back to school dressed as a tramp.)


Mary Elizabeth (Smith) Sandefur, whom I have always called “Auntie,” told me that their childhood home was a big two-story house, painted white, with pretty wall paper.  The bedrooms were all upstairs and they had one bedroom downstairs.  They had a lot of flowers and the prettiest garden walk with peonies that looked like wax – red and white.  At the end of the garden walk the landscape stair-stepped and they had a grape arbor with a slatted roof top.  Near the grape arbor, there was a limbertwig tree with limbs that dropped down like a willow tree, and hid the privy from the house. (The limbertwig is an apple tree.)

They had a smoke house out behind the house.  She could remember that her father killed sixteen hogs one cold winter day, and there were lots of people there.  They let her walk to Grandma Sander’s house to get a knife to use in the hog-killing.

Auntie said that Grandma Sanders had a summer kitchen where they cooked and canned.
She also said that they had a dog named Old Sport that bit Grandmother once.  He slept in the shade by the chimney and guarded the yard and front gate.  The minute someone neared their property, he began barking and barking.


When we asked about burying their apples, Grandmother said:

“Well, Jerri, they just dug a hole, not too deep, but level almost with the ground, but they went around it, and they put these apples in the center, and they would put straw in there, I think, and then they would build it up high, and throw all that dirt over the apples so they wouldn’t freeze…a lot higher than this table.  And then they put apples in there, and they would put turnips, seems to me like.  I can remember the apples better than anything else.  And you would have to take a hoe and dig a hole right at the bottom of this pit, and reach back in there and get the apples out.  Anytime you wanted them.  And later on, they built a big long box, and put all the straw in there, and put apples in that big long box, and then they covered it with dirt.  It was covered up high.  It was kind of cone-shaped.  It was all the way around, and rain never did get to them.  Yes, Charlie made a long box-maybe as long as this table, and then put straw in it, and then put apples in there.  And then made a big mound of dirt over the top.  And you could open that hole and reach in and dig out.  We would go in there and get apples anytime we wanted them.”  (this is combined from 2 places).

GM June 1982 - telling about the new house (this is also told in another place or two):

GM:  “Oh, Jerri, I don’t think I was but about five or six years old.  But I can remember when they was building that house.  And I can remember helping carry little things from the old house up to the new house.  Just about as far from this house to your daddy’s house.  Maybe not that far.  It wasn’t very far.  And that’s about all I can remember about that.  John Henry Stewart, Roy Stewart’s father (grandmother’s brother in-law, husband of Aunt Ella), helped build it.  He was a carpenter. And my daddy. And I don’t know who else. But they were the main two.” 


“Once when we were all visiting around grandmother’s table, Eula Mae asked:  “Why did you call them “Ma” and “Pa?”   Grandmother told her: “Well, people did back in that day and time.  They called their parents Ma and Pa.  Then after a while, they got to calling them Papa and Mama, and then it was Mother and Daddy.  And then we called our grandparents, Grandma and Grandpa, which I really think is a sweet name.  I really do.  I love the name of Grandma.  And Grandpa.”

“Grandpa had a nickname for Ma.  He always called her, “Duck.”  (chuckling). I don’t know why. “  Darrell said that she read something once that said you called someone that you loved…in England.  It was an endearment…just like someone here would say “Dear.”  Or, “Honey.”   But in England, they would say “Duck.”  Grandmother said they were just used to hearing him call her that.  “I never heard him call her “dear’ …I don’t believe I ever did hear him call her anything but “Duck.”  And I never did ask, I don’t reckon.  I never did know why he called her that.” 

A copy of a Bill of Sale recorded at the Ohio County Courthouse indicates that J. T. Smith, Beaver Dam, of Rural Route 3, sold “27 marked hickory trees standing on his home farm, joining J. W. Taylor and Fletcher Taylor, said trees to be cut within two years from date of this sale.”  The trees were sold for $90 to J. V. Stinson & Company of Owensboro, Kentucky, to be paid by check in twenty days from date, which was signed October 26, 1922.  The witness to this timber contract was E. J. Rhodes.


June 1982 tape:  JB: “ Grandmother, tell me something else.  The obit said your daddy was sick for a long time.  20 years.  What did he have?”

GM:  “Well, he had arthritis for one thing.  And I really don’t know.  He was just in bad health for a long time.  His health just give away.  He had arthritis and it had drawed him over until he couldn’t hardly raise his head up.” 

JB:  “So all the boys had to do the work?”

GM:  “Boys and girls both.  Us girls worked too, Jerri.  We had to!”


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