In this modern day of fast living how many of us older people take time to think back in the past, say fifty or sixty years ago. I imagine most anyone could tell some interesting stories. Do your children or your grandchildren really know much about your past life? Or their kinfolks way back?
I happen to know quite a bit about my ancestors, so I will try to write them down as I remember, as I take a journey thru my past. I am one of thirteen children and the place of which I write is an old Negro plantation of Civil War days.
It came into the hands of my father, Jesse Carter about 1920. But it belonged to my mother’s ancestors, the Rippetoes, before this. The Rippetoes came from Ireland before the Civil War. They bought this old plantation in Missouri. It was quite a tract of land to begin with, but as their family married, they gave each one a piece of land off the original farm.
It was a bright sunny day in early spring, and the Carter’s were moving from their little home near the Osage River in Missouri to the old plantation of my Mother’s ancestors, on down the country called Hoggles Creek. I was only a little girl about eight years old, but I remember the day quite well. How the neighbors came to help haul our possessions, which were not many—only the large family of children.
We were all very happy and gay that day finding places to ride on top of a big load of household goods. Then the long tedious ride over hills and rocks, thru timber, stopping occasionally to rest the horses. And finally arriving toward evening at the Old Plantation.
I well remember as we came down the last hill and into view of the beautiful valley, with the building about a half-mile into the distance. There was a large ten room house and very large barn. Also in the background was the old log house with several little log cabins nearby.
This was the home of my ancestors in Civil War days. The little cabins were where the Negro slaves had lived. This was all very exciting to me and my sisters. We could hardly wait to get down off our high seat on the wagon to start exploring. We ran thru the house, looking in every room and counting the rooms, and trying to decide which room we wanted for our bedroom. Of course we wanted to sleep upstairs, as we had never had an upstairs in the little house. About that time, Mother came along and said, “There is a nice bedroom downstairs for Della”, that’s me, “and Maggie and Jessie.” And were we disappointed. But Mother’s word was law, as you will find out later in the story.
Well, it’s about time I introduced my family to my readers. There is Dad, Mother, and Elmer the oldest boy. Then there are six girls: Ruth, Lena, Bertha, Della, Maggie, and Jessie, and a little boy Claude. Then there were others later till the number was thirteen. Dad was a tall man, good natured and had working. He never worried about the family getting too large. The two older girls, “Ruth and Lena”, helped with the cooking, washing, and ironing and so on. Bertha, Maggie, and I washed dishes, carried in wood for three or four stoves.
Grandpa Carter lived with us most of the time. And he had a stove in his room. We also milked several cows, letting the calves have part of the milk first, we took what was left, we strained it into crocks and let the cream rise, then skinned it off to make butter.
Mother had lived in this community before her marriage and she had kinfolks and old friends all up and down the creek. So it wasn’t long after we got moved till we began to have some callers.
One day we girls saw an old man ride up to our hitching-rail and dismount from his horse. He had very long whiskers and we decided he must surely be a tramp. So we ran out to the barn and hid till he left. Then we three girls, Bertha, Maggie and I went to the house and asked who was that old tramp? Well, we just nearly caught the peach tree limb for that. Mother was so mad at us, she said, “Why that was your Uncle Clant Suitor, he is the richest man in Hoggles Creek, and he wanted to see you all.” She then told us that the Scotts, the Suitors, the Johnsons and the Rippetoes were all her kinfolks, and they all lived here and there up and down the Creek. The Rippetoes being her name before she married Dad.
Mother also told us that her Grandfather Rippetoe once owned the old plantation where we now live. That was during the Civil War, and how hard it was for great grandmother to get along while he and his boys ere away in the war. She said one day the bushwhackers came down out of the bluffs near by and grandmother saw them coming across the field some distance away, so she took all their money out to the garden and dug a hole near a head of cabbage and hid it. When they arrived they went thru the house and took all their supplies. Such as hams, bacon, corn meal and sorghum. Then they went to the garden and cut several heads of cabbage and anything they could use. But they didn’t find the money buried near the cabbage stalk. For which she was very thankful.
Great Grandfather Rippetoes family came from Ireland. Also the Johnsons came from Ireland. They, the Johnsons resided in Memphis, Tennessee for awhile. The Johnson parents both died leaving three boys and one girl. The three boys and their sister hit the trail north in covered wagons to find a new location. They had three covered wagons drawn by oxen. They got acquainted with the Rippetoes on the trail. They liked each other and so pitched their camp together at night. They finally arrived at Olathe, Kansas, where they all decided to stop awhile and find work. The Johnson boys found a place at a hotel for their sister to work, while they and the Rippetoe boys got work hauling freight from Kansas City to Western Kansas. One of the Rippetoe boys, “Frank” became interested in the Johnson girl. Callie Johnson was her name and she was a pretty red head. And in due time they got married. And years later they became my grandparents.
Frank and Callie Rippetoe’s place was on up the creek a mile or so, it was part of the old plantation, then they had moved away before my time. They had three boys, whose names were Joe, Henry and Albert, and five girls, Effie the oldest is my mother, then there was Flora, Bertha, Ottie and Elizabeth. It was while they lived on this place that Effie Rippetoe met Jesse Carter, who had come from Kentucky with his father and three sisters and two brothers. They fell in love and married even though Jesse was only a farm worker. He was very ambitious to amount to something. And they built a log cabin on her father’s farm. He going out to obtain work till they could buy some livestock to get started farming.
Perhaps some of my readers would like to know more about the home of my great grandfather Rippetoe. Well, the house was made of hewn logs, that is thy hewed off the sides of the logs to make them flat so they would fit together better. Then the ends of the logs were notched to make the corner of the house fit together. There was a fireplace in each room. The rooms being very large. In those days the living rooms and bedrooms were together. There was usually a high four-poster bed, with a trundle bed to pull out at night. The cracks between the logs were filled with some kind of clay mixed with water. The inside of the house was whitewashed with a mixture of lime and water. There were only a few windows of very small panes. They used candles for light, with what light that came from the fireplaces. They cooked in large iron kettles, hung on an iron rod across the fire and an iron frying pan set on coals of fire.
The slave’s quarters were the little cabins. They only had one large room with hand made furniture. They all ate at the big house, as the Negroes women prepared the food for the master and mistress and their family. And when they had eaten, then they called in the field hands and the rest of the slaves to eat. Things were quite different after the war was over and the slaves were freed. Most of them left and sought jobs where they could earn money. There was one Negro family who stayed in the neighborhood. They had an old hill farm and hired out to the neighbors by the day. I remember them a little. The woman was called Old Marri Looney, and she always said she was forty years old, but I expect she was near a hundred. She had four grown children living with her.
The second generation of Rippetoes built the new house. That was great Aunt Jane, who married Joe Johnson, he was a brother of my grandmother. They built the ten-room house. The rooms were very large, then the front porch had a portice over it, to air bedding on. We also used it for drying fruit and vegetables on, as it was a very hot place where the sun could strike it all day long. There was a white picket fence around the yard for both the old house and the new one, also the garden. Then I remember the well with the old oaken bucket and rope and pulley where we watered the horses in a big long wooden trough. The hose stable or barn was large with a driveway thru the center where the carriage, spring-wagon and buggy were kept. Then there was a harness and saddle room. The horse stalls being located on each side of the drive way. Work horses on one side and road horses on the other.
Well soon we were settled in our new home. Dad and Elmer were busy making rails to mend the fences and getting the crops in. The land along the creek was very rich and productive, while the corn grew well, so did the weeds, and all the little Carter’s were given a hoe and sent to the field to cut weeds out of the corn. The days were long and hot and the corn was much taller than our heads, no one could scarcely get a breath of air. I remember how we dug a little spring in the creek so we could get a drink occasionally. I don’t think we ever complained much about hoeing though.
I remember once we hoed corn every day for three weeks. It was about two miles down the creek, on some good bottom land. We drove a team of mules to the wagon going to and from work. Then Elmer used the mules to plow corn all day. While Dad, Lena, Bertha and I hoed the corn. On the last day we had loaded our hoes, the plow and lunch basket into the wagon and started for home, when the mules became frightened at something along the way and ran away with us. We girls jumped out the back end of the wagon, “or were thrown out,” as the wagon bounced along at such a terrific speed. But finally the men got the mules stopped and we had a good laugh. We said we were celebrating the end of the hoeing season and soon we forgot how tired we were.
Dad always kept a barn full of horses, some for riding and some for buggy or carriage horses and some for work in the field. We children all learned to ride when very young. When mother rang the old dinner bell for dinner, we would run toward the field and dad would lift us up on the work horses to ride back. But soon we were riding a pony to get the cows and to do errands for dad. Though he never would let us ride his horses to school, even though we had two miles to walk.
One Christmas Dad decided to get the two older girls a new side saddle. It was the custom for girls to furnish their own horse and a saddle when they went out with their boy company. Mother made them each a long black skirt to wear over their dress. I always though these skirts were pretty silly. I wouldn’t blame the horse if he got scared when the wind got under them. My sisters, Ruth and Lena were both good riders and managed their horses very well indeed. Customs changed a little before I went out with boy friends so I never rode a side saddle, but a light weight man's saddle or in a buggy.
Our place was always a stopping place for cattle buyers and hog buyers. They always stayed over night, and I always enjoyed hearing them tell many tales. We lived sixteen miles from the railroad, so had to drive our livestock to market, as there was no way of hauling that far. In those days, mother always raised a few turkeys. Thy hauled them to market in the wagon with a top over them to keep them in. Mother always went along a bought all the winter clothes for the whole family, such as shoes, long underwear, coats and yard goods for dresses and petticoats. That was a red letter day for us. They would leave home in the morning about daylight and get back at nine or ten at night, but we children would be anxiously waiting to see all the new clothes they had brought. The dresses those days, sometimes had eight or ten yards of material in them, the skirts being made very full with many ruffles.
In addition to the sewing, we also made rag carpets, every one helping to sew carpet rags and winding them up in a large ball ready for the loom. It took mother a day to wrap and put the treads through the harness and comb and fasten it to the beam which winds the carpet on as it is woven. When you are ready to start, the rags are wound on a shuttle and run through between the warp and beaten with a comb, then you step on the petal which crosses the warp and so on. She also had a spinning wheel and always worked up a fleece or two of sheep wool every winter. Spinning the wool into yarn, then knitting into mittens and socks. Sometimes she wove it into blankets on her loom.
We always raised a lot of cane to make sorghum molasses, and everyone had to get out and help strip the cane. Then old Uncle Henry Johnson would come with his mill and cooking vat to work the cane. We children were always delighted when we came home from school some evening and found Uncle Henry and his two boys, Luther and Alta there starting to make molasses. Sometimes they stayed two or three weeks and worked up cane for our neighbors. I think Mother got a little tired of the free board she furnished, but we children liked to hang around and watch when it was time to take it off. Uncle Henry would whittle us each a paddle to lick the pan with, then his wife, “Old Aunt Mattie” always came over one day to visit. Her tongue went clackety, clack, clack all day. She was the biggest gossip in the country, and Mother didn’t much care for her, for some of the things she told wasn’t nice for little girls to hear, but “big-eared me”, I loved to listen to her and would stay in the house till Mother picked up her peach-tree stick and said, “Now you get on out to play and don’t come back”.
Dad Carter always said he didn’t have a lazy kid on the place, and I think he was kind of proud of the fact. He arose long before daylight in the morning and expected everyone of the family to be up, washed and dressed and ready for breakfast. When every one was seated at the table “which was always set for ten or twelve”, we then bowed our heads while he asked the blessing. After the meal was over, he would then tell Elmer and the hired man what work he wanted done for the day. There was very little machinery which consisted of a walking plow to turn the sod, and an A shaped harrow, a cultivator or a double shovel one horse plow. So everything was mostly done by hand. I remember in the spring how we had to rake the leaves away from the rail fences then some night when the wind was very calm we would all go out and burn the leaves. We had to watch that the fire didn’t get into the rail fence.
We raised lots of vegetables to dry for winter, for at that time there was very little canning done. We dried corn, and various kinds of beans, apples and peaches. We canned wild gooseberries and blackberries which were very plentiful.
I well remember one time Ruth, Lena and Bertha hitched up a team of broncos to the old spring wagon and drove two or three miles to pick blackberries. They had got a good picking of 10 or 12 gallon and were on their way home. There was a very steep hill all covered with trees an there was a fence about half way up with a gate to be opened, so Bertha gets out to open the gate and as they start through, the buggy tongue drops down and the horses became frightened. They really took a wild ride down the remainder of the hill. Ruth was driving and tried to guide the horses the same way the buggy tongue was going, but eventually one wheel wrapped around a tree and the buggy turned over. Well those broncos just kicked and reared till they broke clear of the buggy and ran off through the woods. In the meantime, Lena had jumped out and landed safely, but Ruth didn’t fare so well as she had broken her ankle. Then Maggie and I went into action as we had seen most of the accident while we were out picking berries along a fence row nearby.
We ran to the house as fast as we could and told Mother, she grabbed some water and a towel and started for the scene, telling us to ring the old dinner bell long and hard, then to open the gate for Dad and Elmer when they came. We did just that, and had hardly gotten the gate open till we heard the horses hoofs and the harness rattling. Then Elmer came dashing around the corner on one of the work horses and Dad not far behind. They paused just long enough to find out what the trouble was. When they got there, Ruth had fainted and Mother was trying to bring her to with the water she had carried with her. The men went back to the barn and hitched up a team to a wagon, got some bedding from the house and proceeded to haul her on home. We had just gotten our first telephone shortly before this happened so were able to get a doctor there in a couple of hours.
Old Mother Nature provided us with many things to keep us in good health. In the spring we went to the bluffs nearby to gather wild greens which we cooked with a piece of pork. It made a very tasty dish and we all liked it very much.
Then we got the sassafras bark and made a tea. It had a wonderful aroma and the color was a bright red. And best of all it tasted as good as it smelled. It was supposed to be good for your blood. Then there was the slippery elm bark. One took off the outer bark and stripped out the inside part. It was cut into strips and stood in a glass of water. This was good for chills. When one is sick enough you can take it. Just put a strip in your mouth and chew it. It tastes like the raw white of an egg.
Dad always butchered two or three fat hogs at a time. After the meat had taken salt, it was hung up in the smoke house and a fire was kept under it with hickory wood for several days to give it the smoked flavor. Dad always said, "What is better for breakfast than good old ham and eggs and biscuits?" He was also very fond of corn bread. He really appreciated all the good things in life, many times naming the blessings he enjoyed most.
One day we saw the funniest looking thing coming up the road. At first we couldn't quite make out what it might be but as it came nearer we saw a man leading a burro, or donkey as they are sometimes called, with baskets tied on all over him. Then coming along behind was a woman riding an old flea-bitten dun-colored pony with a side saddle. They were peddling baskets which they had made of hickory bark. They lived in a cabin over across the bluffs from us. These baskets were all sizes from a real tiny one to a bushel size. They also made chairs with woven seats and shingles for roofs. They were all well-made and the folks bought all they had need of and they lasted for many years.
Elmer and Ruth remember a good story about Lena falling into the molasses barrel. But I guess it is Lena who really remembers it the best. It goes like this, Mother and Dad went to town one day and left the three older children at home. The molasses barrel set under a shelf in the kitchen. Lena climbed up on the barrel to reach something she wanted on the shelf, when suddenly the round lid gave a quick flip-flop and Lena went into the barrel feet first. She was awfully scared. Ruth and Elmer placed a chair on each side of the barrel and stood on them to pull her out. It was quite a job for Lena was quite a chubby little girl, and the molasses almost covered her over. They had just gotten her out when our parents came home. Mother was so mad she felt like whipping them all, but she didn’t.
Then they also remember Grandfather Rippetoe’s old maple sugar camp where he used to make the good maple sugar cakes and syrup. This camp was located between two big hills. These hill sides were covered with the sugar maple trees. Grandfather made spiles of some kind of a bush which had soft centers. He then took a small rod which he heated in the fire and burned the soft centers out so as to make a little spout to carry the sugar water from the trees into pails. But to put the spout into the tree he had to bore a hole in the tree, then drive the spout in. The spouts were about a foot long. It took a hard days work to get the trees tapped and the camp set up. There was the big iron kettle to boil the sugar water in. It was hung on a big strong rod. Then there was fire wood to collect. Next morning he would go to the camp very early. The pails were all about full and he carried a large pail to collect the sugar water. He made many trips up and down hill from the trees to the big iron kettle. Then he built the fire and watched to see that it did not boil over, he also kept adding more sugar water. It took hours and hours to boil it down to the consistency to make sugar. Sometimes it was dark before he could finish a batch and could pour the thick syrup into the molds to harden. But the delicious flavor of pure maple sugar.
I also have a vivid picture in my mind, of a big old thorn tree. This was very unusual. Its trunk was short with great spreading limbs. On one side was our milk lot with a shelf for milk pails nailed on to the tree. On the other side was the lane or drive-way, with a big board gate fastened to the tree. But the center of the tree was low and we kids walked up thru the tree instead of opening the gate, on our way to school or to get the cows in. I know these things are long since gone.
Jessie was a good little fighter. She was just a little squirt but if she didn’t get her way, she would sink her teeth into someone’s arm till the blood came, and she always seemed to get mixed up in every fight. One day she fell off the bench we sat on at the table and she bit her tongue half way off. It hurt so bad she couldn’t hardly eat anything for a long time, and there wasn’t much that could be done for it either. Jessie had a nickname for many years, we called her Cin or it might sound like sin. Her real name being Jessie Lucinda, which is a very pretty name I think. However, we didn’t fight and we didn’t work all the time. We spent many a hot afternoon playing down near the creek in a beautiful shady spot. We gathered big leaves off of the sycamore trees and made hats and fans for ourselves, trimming them with wild flowers we picked nearby, such as nigger-heads and goldenrods. Both of those flowers have a terrible perfume, but we didn’t mind a bit. We played at being a fine lady, and going to a store to buy lots of nice clothes. I always chose a red china silk dress with yards and yards of ruffles. Then we played camp meeting and we sang and we prayed and preached. We really let our imagination run wild. But it was fun. We didn’t even dream of having toys to play with.
In the spring Dad and Elmer worked in the timber quite a lot, one evening after they came in and we were sitting down to supper, we suddenly missed Claude, who was about four years old. We looked all through the house, then outside around all the buildings, but to no avail. He just wasn’t anywhere around. Then Dad thought he might have started to find him where he had been working. We all ran to the fields and timber to look for it was getting dark and it was pretty cold and damp. It was Dad who found him stuck in the mud down near the creek. Dad was so relieved to find him unharmed that he just sat down on the porch and cried, which was so very unusual for him.
About this time Dad decided to go to Texas and see his folks and planed to be gone about a month. Elmer was to manage the farm while he was away. It was a big adventure for him as he had never been on a train before in his life. But at home it just seemed like half the family was gone. There was a bad wind storm one night while he was away and it brought most of the family out of bed as something crashed against the side of the house. This proved to be a ladder which had been left standing against the house when some repairs had been made. Well, Dad had a fine visit and was ready to come home long before the month was up. He came home and surprised us bringing all a present from our aunts in Texas and we were very thrilled to hear him tell about his trip. Grandpa and Uncle Jim Carter were happy to hear all the news from their folks in Texas.
Ephrian and Vicinda Rippetoe were my great grandparents. They were good old Irish people, hale and hearty. They had many dreams of the things they wanted most to do in this new country they had come to. First they homesteaded a large tract of land. Then they built a log house. There was land to clear of trees and brush before they could raise crops. The winters were cold and they chopped a lot of wood for the fireplaces they had built in their new house.
I also seem to remember hearing that "Old Eph", my great-grandpa, panned a little gold. It was back in the hills and he was pretty secretive about ever telling anyone about it. He didn't find enough to make him rich, but a few bags to put in the strong box under the floor where the family valuables were kept. There was enough to care for the family while Ephrian went away to war, or so Old Eph reasoned.
The talk of war in the South fired his blood. No one was going to say Old Eph didn't do his part for his country. So he took stock of all his affairs. There was Big Nigger Fulch and Marie to do the overseeing with plenty of lesser niggers to work the fields, to hoe the tobacco and cotton.
Then there were his two half-grown sons to help look after Vicinda and the girls. So he reasoned to himself that with a large fine flock of sheep and cattle and a bunch of wild horses he and the boys had managed to round up and corral, the family could live well. He and Old Fulch had worked hard to build a good strong corral, cutting poles in the woods and dragging them in with oxen to put in the corral. When the corral was finished it was strong as a fort and the trap was set to catch the wild horses when they came down out of the hills looking for water. They had a good hiding place behind some rocks and bushes nearby where they could watch for their. The plan was to sneak in and quickly close the gate.
The big moment came early one morning Just as the sun was peeping over the bluffs. Old Eph and Fulch had been hiding and listening for them all night when they suddenly heard a horse neigh and heard their hoofs on the rocks as they came. It wasn't a large band of horses, but these men were elated, even to get a small band, not knowing if they could handle them. Finally the moment came, when a big black stallion came into view and a few mares following close behind. They stopped when they saw the corral and pawed the earth and whinnied awhile, but they could smell the water and they were very thirsty, so they very cautiously entered into the corral and like a streak of lightening the gate was closed. The next step was to tame and break these horses which took a lot of time and patience. But Old Eph had a big dream that he would break that black stallion and ride him off to war.
He thought it best just to get everything in readiness, then tell Vicinda and make a quick, clean get away. He hated women's tears. He was very confident he should have a part in the war. So one dark night he told his wife his plans and asked that she pack some food and clothing in a bag immediately. He couldn't say goodbye, he just said, "I'll be back" and rode away into the night on the black stallion.
They made their way down the river. The night was pitch dark so he gave the horse his head and let him pick his way. He rode two or three hours when someone said, "Halt! Who goes there?" The black stallion became unmanageable and bolted with his rider while the bullets came at them on all sides. The horse plunged into the river with his rider and they escaped the enemy. They arrived at a fort the next day and Ephrian reported to the General for service. He also reported the hills on the opposite side of the river was crawling with the enemy. So acting on this information, the General led his men right to them, and cleared them up. It wasn't long after that til the war was over and my great-grandpa came home safely to his family. So ends the story of Old Eph Rippetoe.
Calvin Carter was born at Burkesville, Kentucky on July 17, 1829 and died on April 23, 1915 at the home of his son Jesse, near Welda, Kansas. He served in the Civil War, Regiment, 5th Kentucky Calvary. He went into the army in 1861 and served until the end of the war. Calvin Carter was my grandfather. He made his home with my folks when I was a child. I used to go to his room and visit with him. He told me how he went off to war leaving my grandmother with their six children down in old Kentucky. Grandpa Carter fought for the North side when he was in the army. He was in the Cavalry driving a big team of mules to a chuck wagon of which there were hundreds of. They had to get food to the foot soldiers in the front lines. Two men always rode each wagon, with their guns ready as they were sometimes ambushed by the enemy. There were some men who owned fine horses and they were allowed to keep them and ride all during the war as they needed scouts and messenger boys. I have heard that they played many tricks on the enemy guards to get by and deliver an important message. When it was announced that the war was over, Calvin Carter and his wagon buddy unhitched their mules and each climbed on one, and headed for home. Many of the foot soldiers had to walk. Their shoes were already worn out and their clothes in tatters. They had very little money so they stole from the farmers what they needed or wanted. These men were called bushwhackers. Calvin Carter had a nice horse which he was leading behind his wagon. The bushwhackers slipped up from behind and cut the lead rope and stole his horse.
Grandmother's maiden name was Clavel before she married Grandfather Carter. I got the impression the Clavels were pretty aristocratic. Well, when Grandfather came home from the war his wife had quick consumption and passed away shortly after. He was heart broken and had no desire to settle in that part of the country so he rigged up two covered wagons and loaded his few possessions along with his six children and headed for Missouri. It was a long tedious journey in those days. People along the way were very friendly and let them camp near their homes where they could obtain drinking water and fire wood.
After arriving in Missouri they settled in St. Claire County in Hoggles Creek community. They lived there a few years. The three boys obtained work of various kinds. The three girls became restless and homesick after a time and begged their father to take them back to Kentucky to their Grandfather Clavel. So he put the question up to the family one night whether to go back home or stay in Missouri. All wanted to go back except Jim, the oldest boy, and Jesse, the youngest. So Grandfather let them stay. Let me say here that Jesse is my father. They had become pretty well acquainted with the people round about the community and had work to support themselves. The three girls, Dolly, Delia and Emma, and George, the one boy, who went back to Kentucky, were educated by the Clavels. Dolly, the oldest of the girls, married a man from Texas and moved there with her husband to live. His name was Joe Watson. It wasn't long after Dolly went to Texas til she sent for her two sisters to come live with her as her husband was pretty well off and felt that they should help them. George also found work as a house painter at Galveston, Texas. In due time they all got married. Each raised a large family except Emma, the youngest sister. She had a very fine husband and they always had a Negro housekeeper in their home. They were very religious and true workers in their church. They both passed away about one year apart. I think it was about 1947 and 1948. The others have long since been gone.
Uncle Jim Carter lived several miles from us on the opposite side of the Osage River. I well remember one time we crossed the river with a team and wagon on our way to visit Uncle Jim's. The water was so deep and swift it almost floated the wagon box off the running gear. We were all quite frightened for a few moments but we made it. Dad tied the box down before we started home.
Uncle Jim always had a big mess of fish for us and that was one of the high-lights of going to his place. Uncle Jim had six or seven children and his wife, Aunt Nan, was always ailing but she was a very kind and patient woman. They moved to Oklahoma so we heard from them very seldom.
Grand-Dad Carter stayed with Jim's family part of the time but mostly with Jesse. He went to Texas to see the girls once. I remember when he came home. He went to Uncle Jim's first and borrowed a horse to come on to our place. Mother and I met him on the road so he got off his horse to walk with Mother and he put me on the horse. I was only 4 or 5 years old. I asked him, "Grandpa, what is this horse's name?" He answered, "They call him Old Sog." Then I said, "Did you ride him from Texas?" My how he did laugh! I have never forgotten it.
Grand-Dad Carter liked a little nip. One day we children came home from school and found the folks had gone somewhere. There was a big mess of steak on the table so we went to Grand-Dad's room and asked where the meat came from. "Well," he said, "I remember walking down the road and I saw an old cow so I just takes out my pocket knife and cuts me off a mess." He drawled this out in real southern style. Then he said, "You cook it real good for me. Your Mammy can't cook anything fit to eat." We saw he was kinda tight so we went on about our chores. When supper was ready we called him but he didn't come. He had passed out. When the folks got home Grand-Dad was a very sick man. Dad scolded him a little but he said he just had one little drink. Poor old soul!
In his younger days Grand-Dad loved to fish in the Osage River. He used a net and baited it with corn meal mush. He also used a trot-line stretched across the river with a lot of hooks on it. One time I remember he caught a big fish and hung it up in a tree to scrape the scales off. It weighed 75 pounds and the scales were as large as a nickel.
Grand-Dad had a little Indian pony. His name was Ginger. He rode him to town each time when he received his pension. He always brought us kids a sack of peppermint and hourhound stick candy. He wore felt boots and heavy long underwear the year around, I don't think he ever spoke a harsh word to anyone in his life and he lived to be eighty-six years old.
We also had an Uncle Nute Rippetoe who had lost his wife years before and he lived alone on his farm adjoining ours which was once part of the old plantation. He had some nice livestock but I remember most his bees and the honey they made. His yard was full of flowers of all kinds for the bees. We children liked Uncle Nute and would stop on our way to and from school to talk a little and see how he was feeling.
He wore a long beard but didn’t seem so old. I guess he got pretty lonesome at times. Anyway there was an insurance man from Collins, Missouri, who stopped and stayed all night with him and he was telling him about a nice widow woman he knew and offered to bring her and his wife down to Uncle Nute’s sometime in the near future. Well, he did just that and guess what happened!
The next day our family went to the old settlers picnic at Iconium and they came along, stopped and ate dinner with us. So he told Dad he was on his way to get married. And so they were married that afternoon. We all liked this woman. She told us to call her Aunt Jennie. She was so lively and full of fun and we soon forgot how she hooked Uncle Nute. But in a few years all his savings, livestock and even the farm disappeared little by little and he became a poor man. Later he was struck by a train and killed.
Uncle Joe's place was a few miles from Osceola, Missouri overlooking, the Osage River. The neighborhood where they lived is called Bear Creek. The river makes a bend near their place shaped like a horse shoe and on the inside of the bend it is called Horse Shoe Bend. And there lies some very rich farmland, but often the river overflows and takes the crops. The scenery along the Osage is very beautiful. The Osage has always been the fisherman's paradise. There is a natural park in front of Uncle Joe's house which he developed into a camp for city fishermen many years later of which I write.
I always felt that Aunt Julia rather frowned up on the Carter girls for being such tomboys when her girls were such ladies. I remember once three of us girls went to their place to stay all night going by horseback as usual. Uncle Joe thought he must take care of the horses like we wouldn't know how.
The next morning he brought the horses out to the hitch-rail all saddled and ready for us. He then asked if we would need him to help us on. He said they didn't have a sty-block as his womenfolk didn't ride. We almost laughed at him. It sounded so silly for we could Jump on from the ground easily. We held the horses at a walk til we got out of sight. Then we let them out as fast as they could go. (Horses get homesick just like people and are anxious to get home.)
Uncle Joe and Aunt Julia and their four children came to our house to stay all night occasionally. I always thought Aunt Julia was a temperamental woman, for she could talk and laugh or she could get mad easily too. Now we kids liked to play games in the dining room while the older folks visited in the sitting room. I guess we got pretty noisy at times and Mother would tell us to quiet down, but that wasn't enough for Aunt Julia. Once she came rushing out to spank her Roxie, but got hold of the wrong girl and spanked Maggie instead. The coal oil lights being, very dim, it was quite understandable. So we all just had a good laugh about the incident.
Uncle Henry and Aunt Emma lived in the Horse Shoe Bend for a short time and I remember going there once that I shall never forget. We had to cross the river to get to his place so the folks drove several miles to the crossing and the river was almost bank full. So Uncle Henry met us with his boat. Dad tied the horses to the wagon and he and Uncle Henry made two trips across the river to get the family over. I was so scared that I hung back til last and Mother stayed with me. She said, "Jesse, we hadn't ought to do this. It is too dangerous." But Dad Just laughed. He was a good swimmer and wasn't afraid at all. And Uncle Henry wanted us to hear his new phonograph so we went on. We thought it was wonderful that music could come from the pretty red horn on the machine.
Uncle Henry owned a fine team of coal black driving horses. They were sure beauties but later on they got kind of mean which made him afraid of them so he brought them over to our place one day to sell them to Dad for Elmer. Elmer was getting to be quite a young man by now so they tried them out and made a deal that day for both buggy and team.
I think they were quite a handful for Elmer too. At that time he and his cousin, Lawrence Scott, were keeping company with two sisters several miles on down the creek and they just naturally drove those horses off their feet so they tamed down in time. One night the boys came home rather late and Lawrence decided to spend the rest of the night at our place. The boys un-harnessed the horses and went to the crib to get corn to feed them when they heard a distinct noise in the corn crib. They each carried a pistol so they decided one would hold a gun while the other struck a match and behold there was an old sheep which had been hurt and Dad had put her in the crib til morning. The boys thought sure the girls had done this just to frighten them.
We girls had a friend visiting us that night. So picking up handfuls of snow the boys came to our room and threw it in our faces to get even. My what a yell rent the night! It brought the folks out of bed to see what was the matter. The boys were told to go to bed and mind their own business. The next morning they were almost afraid to come down for breakfast for fear of the razzing they were sure to get.
Every spring Mother's Uncle George Scott always drove a big herd of cattle past our place on his way to a pasture on down the creek. He and his two boys and hired man stopped at our place for dinner. Uncle George and his boys, Grant and Haller, all wore western hats and boots. Haller was about my age and rode a pretty cream colored pony. My, how I envied him! He wouldn't ever say a word to me and I never found out if he was just bashful or a little high-hat.
One time we stayed all night at Uncle George's place as we had been caught in a bad snowstorm on our way home from Grandpa Rippetoes 25 miles away. Dad thought we could make it home but we got pretty cold in an open carriage and too the horses didn't like to face the storm so we stopped over and went on the next morning.
Cousin Haller had a wagon and a bunch of goats with harness to hitch them up. I thought that would be fun but every time I went outside those old goats would take after me and I would run for the house.
They also kept a bunch of hunting hounds that would lay around and sleep all day but when night came on and Uncle George and the boys were ready to go hunting they would blow their hunting horn and the old dogs would begin to bark and be raring to go.
I remember their house was of logs with a fireplace and four poster beds and big feather beds. Aunt Rendy was a very kindly person and there were two daughters also, Grace and Lula. Lula was a cripple and walked with a cane. Everyone loved her because she was so kind and gentle to everyone.
We always looked forward to the Old Settler's Picnic every year meeting old friends and making new ones and the basket dinner. There was a marching brass band and a few stands with colorful confections and trinkets to sell. Then I remember the old horse drawn swing. They had an organ placed in the center for their music. Then there was an open space to hitch the horse and a platform around the outside for the seats. But what I liked best was the Old Fiddlers and their dance floor. I spent most of my time watching the dancing but didn't tell Mother because she thought that was just the devil's own works.
One time we went home with some friends from the picnic to stay all night. Our team of horses and wagon had been put in the barn that night and about four o'clock the next morning fire broke out in the barn. We all rushed out but the barn caved in before they could get anything out. So we lost a good team of horses, wagon, harness, some bedding, and a trunk with our clothes in as we had been camping at the picnic. They thought someone had slept in the barn and had set the hay afire while smoking. Dad and Mother felt very badly about this loss as they had no insurance at that time.
Every fall there were the old camp meetings. These were held only a few miles from our place and we liked to go and camp a few days along with the rest of the neighbors and kinfolk. This church was called "Shiloh." They had a big tabernacle outdoors for the crowds were large and the weather warm. A few people had cabins to camp in and the rest had tents. One could see horses and wagons and carriages of all sorts out through the timber where they were hitched and folks eating together and having a big time. When the services started everyone took a seat and joined in singing of old revival hymns, then listened to a two hour sermon.
It was the custom in those days that when you went visiting you were expected to stay overnight. When my folks went visiting; they left the older children home to do chores. By now I was getting big enough to be left at home with the older ones. I soon found out we could have a good time too while the folks were away.
We girls went to the barn and saddled us each a horse. Then we would ride all over the neighborhood as fast as the horses could go. I think some people called us "those wild Carter girls" but we didn't care. We just had to let off a little steam once in a while.
Mother kept us busy making quilts and fancy work for our future hope chest which I swore up and down I would never need. So the family began calling me the "Old Maid." Mother had enough feather beds, pillows, quilts and blankets in the house to run a hotel so why keep working at those blasted quilts day after day when I would much rather be out riding a horse. I used to go out and climb up in an apple tree and hide to keep from sewing on my quilt.
My school days were uneventful for I loved school and got good grades. I liked all the kids and we played ball at noon and recess. There were 30 or 40 children in this little country school. We had a young man teacher for two or three years. His name was Reason Tharp. I was about fourteen then and thought he was just tops. He always greeted me every morning with a big smile and some little joke or quip and I thought he was just wonderful.
The older boys and girls got to writing notes and passing them to each other in schooltime when the teacher wasn't looking. I guess I never thought much about what would happen if he ever caught us doing it. Well I was the first one to get caught.
I was called up in front and he asked me who I was writing to and how many others were passing notes. I just looked down at the floor and said, "I don't know."
Then he said, "If you don't tell me this minute I'm going-to whip you with this stick." And he picked up a hazel nut switch about five feet long. But I still didn't say anything. Then he let me have it. Well, I guess he didn't know how to whip a girl because he kept hitting me around my skirt which was made so full the blows just didn't reach me. He needed my Mother to show him how.
But, oh, I was so humiliated there in front of the whole school that I shall never forget how terrible I felt. My love for that teacher just turned to hate. I wanted to quit school but my folks wouldn't let me so I had to go on day after day.
I had always taken my dinner pail in every morning as soon as I arrived at the school so I could speak to my teacher but not anymore. I just hung around outside til the bell rang. Then I went hurrying in with the rest and took my seat. I studied harder than ever but didn't have any heart for anything at school. The teacher tried to win back my respect with his little jokes and winning smile but they just didn't go with me anymore.
I well remember the first hat I every chose for myself. I believe I was about fourteen years old. Dad took all of us older girls to Osceola one day. He drove his best team and we went into town with a great flourish with many old friends calling out to Dad, "Hello, Jesse" or "Hi there, Carter," before we could alight. We girls made a bee line for the millinery store to buy new hats. I saw a beautiful white chip straw hat with a lavender chiffon bow and fell in love with it immediately. The girls and Mrs. Frout insisted on my trying on several hats but I just had to have that one. Then Lena bought some lavender material and made me a dress.
Everyone said, "Now, Della will catch a fellah for sure." But that I wouldn't have just yet. It was the style for women to wear their skirts almost touching the floor, and I could never imagine myself wearing a dress that long. So it was really a major project to make me a dress as I got so much advice from some of my sisters. Lena was the family seamstress. One day she was going to make a dress for me and I remember Bertha saying to me, "Now, Dell you just got to have this one made long or you never will catch a fellah."
And I answered, "I wouldn't wear a long dress for any fellow," and I would not have it long. Now Bertha nearly had a cat fit. She said it was scandalous to show my long legs that way and so on.
Our father thought a lot of his horses. He said that some people didn't even have good horse sense. Some people drove with a whip while others shook the lines at the horses to make them go. I think all our horses had sufficient life to want to go without the whip. And I'll tell you a little story of what happened once when the lines were "shook" at the horses.
We had a little team of broncos and they were pretty frisky. One day Dad asked me to drive him to the train as he was going away to another town to see about some real estate. So a girl friend went along with me. When we were ready to start for home I untied the horses and she picked up the lines saying she was going to do the driving. I didn't know about her driving but I didn't say anything.
Soon I noticed she kept shaking the lines to make them go faster. Pretty soon we came to the top of a big hill and of all things she dropped the lines. It scared me so as I saw the lines slide out over the dashboard and quick as a flash I knew it was up to me to do something. So down on my knees I went and reached as far as I could but couldn't quite reach them. The horses were going faster and faster as they realized there was no one holding the lines. Finally the lines slid across the double tress toward me and I caught them. Then I got back into the seat somehow and tightened up on the lines with all my strength.
I prayed that I could keep them in the road. There was a narrow wooden bridge just ahead and I knew if we could only hit it just right the danger would be over. Well the buggy wheels hit it just once and bounced on like a rubber ball. By the time we got to the next hill everything was under control. We then looked at each others' white faces and my friend said, "Never again will I ever take the lines out of your hands." We both might have very well been killed or badly injured.
A mile west of our house there was a big bluff. We farmed the land to the bluff. There was timber on this bluff and in the winter the wild turkeys would come down in the field to get corn out of the shocks. Dad and Elmer, our oldest brother, always tried to slip around and shoot them but they were too sly.
Well, the years were passing swiftly by. The Carter family was growing up and our Father began to wonder if life was all it should be for his family. There was no high school within reach or opportunity to get work away from home for the older ones.
Our Father loved people, gaiety and fun more than most people and wanted those things for his children also. Then one day a neighbor came riding, in and said, "Jesse, I came over this morning to ask what you would take for your place?" Our Father said, "Well, I kindy been thinking of selling. Maybe you could look around a bit while I go in and see if Effie would want me to sell the place."
She was willing and they decided on the price to ask. The man then agreed as the price suited him and the deal was made.
In a few days our Father bought a smaller place about three miles from the county seat of Osceola, Missouri. I think it was a very wise move as our parents could take all the family along. A few years more and most of them would have been married and settled for life. He then began dealing in real estate and also a dry goods store.
A few years later he traded for a farm in Kansas. He made a quick trip to Kansas and liked what he saw so moved on it. But he was later to find that it only rains in that part of Kansas every five years---enough to grow a crop. So now our parents sold out again and went into a grocery store. They owned and operated three different grocery stores in their time the first one at Welda, Kansas, the next one at Wellsville, Kansas and the last at Overland Park, Kansas City, Kansas. They then retired to a little town of Lowry City, Missouri where our father lay bedfast for about three years before he passed away in 1939. He was laid to rest in the cemetery at Osceola, Missouri.
Our mother then moved back to Kansas City to be near two of the younger children. There she resided for several years. In 1952 she went to live with her oldest son, Elmer, who lived on a farm near Kincaid, Kansas. She was very dissatisfied there so she spent the next winter at the home of her daughter, Lena, of Osceola, Missouri.
Those last years she wasn't well but always wanted to keep busy sewing, making things for her children and grandchildren. In the spring of 1954 she insisted on going back to Elmer's. The summer heat was bad for her there and she became ill. Then they moved her to a nursing home where she passed away on September 25, 1954. She was also laid to rest at Osceola, Missouri beside her husband. And so ends the lives of two fine people, Effie and Jesse Carter.