The Iviah Vivian Brown Story

My name is Iviah Vivian Brown and will try to put down some of the
things that I remember about my Mother Charlotte Bradford and Father
Miles Lemarion Brown. They were married February 24, 1915, in Hickman
County, Tennessee by M. M. Petty, Justice of the Peace.
They started their married life in a small three room house that my
father built on the farm of his father, William George Brown, better
known as “Billy” Brown. This house was located on Big Spring Creek,
just about where the creek runs into Piney River. My father was a
farmer for many years. A leg injury kept him form going into World
War I.
I was born about a year after their marriage and I don’t remember
much about our lives until I was five years old. When I was three,
father’s brother Ross Vestal Brown, died from blood poising. I
remember going to see him before he died.
About this time father bought or rented the David Aaron Dodd farm a
mile or two from Spring Creek on Piney River. Why we moved I do not
know. Later in 1920, we moved back to Big Spring Creek where in 1921
by brother, Max Hulin Brown was born. It was about this time that an
old sow hog about killed me. Mother had made me a new dress and I
went outside to show my Dad. He was watching the sow eat and when I
walked up she grabbed my new dress. It was torn from my body as my
Dad got me away from her. I wasn’t but very scared. The sow became
bacon and ham when the weather got colder.
I always helped my mother take care of my baby brother. She also
begin to teach me to make beds and wash dishes. Daddy made me a
little wooden box to stand on so I could reach the dishpan where it
sat on the table. Another thing I could do was churn butter. I didn’t
like that job very much.
Both my parents had lots of relatives living close by, so sometimes
we rode a horse and visited them. Daddy took Max in Front of him, and
mother rode side saddle behind Daddy and I road behind her.
Once Daddy borrowed Grandfather Brown’s buggy and we went to visit my
Mother’s sister, Tommye Bradford-Haywood, at Santa Fe, Tennessee. She
was married to Hubert Haywood. We also visited some of Daddy’s
relatives who lived nearby. Daddy’s mother, Oilie May Vestal-Brown,
had been born and raised on the Santa Fe Road, near Columbia, Tennessee.
My Grandfather Brown also had a surrey with a red fringe on the top.
I thought it was so beautiful. I’d sit in it for hours and pretend I
was going on long trips. Once in a while Grandpa would let me ride
with him when he had the time. He was quite and important man in our
community, and had business in Centerville and Nashville.
About this time we moved back to the Dodd farm. Daddy must have
bought it for we lived there off and on until Daddy’s death in 1963.
I really liked the Dodd farm. We had a big house and a large yard
with big maple trees to play under.
My mother was a very good housekeeper. When we ate our meals she
always had a nice tablecloth with napkins to match. On the table she
had tiny glass bowls to put at each place with salt in them. We were
taught good manners and never talked while we were eating. Every week
she scrubbed the kitchen floor with lye soap and it was always clean
and white.
When I was six, Daddy decided to go to Detroit, Michigan to find
work. A lot of people he knew had already gone and found work. He
left us at home and went to find work and a place for us to live.
After awhile, he sent Mother the money for us to make the trip.
Mother’s brother, Henry Bradford, carried us to Dickson in his Model
T Ford. When we got to Dickson, Mother got Max and me a haircut in a
barber shop. That was the first place I ever saw electric lights.
We spent the night at Daddy’s brother, Walter D. Brown and family who
lived in Dickson, Tennessee. The next day we got on the train for
Nashville. When we got there we had several hours to wait for a train
to Cincinnati, Ohio. I spent most of the time looking out the windows
at the city. It was a sight for a little girl from the farm. One
thing that stands out was a big electric sign advertising Sealtest
Ice Cream. It was close to where the Nashville Tennessean Newspaper
Offices are now. That sign stayed there for many years and I was to
see it several other times on future trips to Michigan. Daddy was
staying with Mr. Bill Estes and family. They were form Tennessee too.
Many years later Mr. Bill was my school bus driver when we all moved
back to Tennessee. Daddy had rented us the upstairs apartment in a
house on Farr Avenue. We lived there for several months. I started to
school as soon as were moved in. Mama had taught me at home for a
long time. Mama enrolled me in Lyon School, a few blocks form our
house. My teacher was Mrs. Ivy Younger. I loved school and learned
fast. At midterm I was promoted to second grade. When school was out
in June 1923, I was already promoted to the third grade. One day a
deep snow fell and I got very wet going home. I took pneumonia and
was very sick for awhile.
Daddy met a man at work that came from Georgia. His name was Ambrose
Bowen. When Mr. Bowen got a vacation, he went to Georgia and got
married. His wife’s name was Bessie. Mr. Bowen and Daddy rented the
upstairs of a house that had a grocery store downstairs. It was on
the corner of Mt. Elliot and Kascuisko. They had three rooms and we
had three rooms and we shared a bath. Clatye Bradford-Smith, mother’s
sister, and her family were to live just across the street from the
grocery store during the fall of 1926 and to March 1927 when they
returned to Tennessee. The Smith children also went to Lyons School.
I really liked Bessie Bowen. She was lonely so her and Mama became
good friends. Later she had a little girl and they named her Rebecca
Rowena Bowen. I really did love the baby and helped care for her when
I could.
On weekends the Bowen’s and our family went to Belle Isle Park for a
picnic. We carried lots of food and rode a streetcar to the park. The
park was on a very large island in the Detroit River, between the
United States and Canada. There were several playgrounds for the
children and also a large zoo. I saw an elephant for the first time.
They also had large greenhouses with thousands of flowers and shrubs.
There were banana trees and tall palms. Some of the orange and lemon
trees had fruit on them. Later the city built several huge fountains.
They were a sight to see. Under the waterfalls they put colored
lights and at night they were just beautiful. We always stayed until
dark so we could see the lights.
While we lived over the grocery store, Daddy carried us to the movies
for the first time. I really enjoyed it and insisted on going often.
Mama liked it too and she helped me convince Daddy that we should go.
Max was only three years old so he didn’t enjoy it much as he
couldn’t read. This was a while before talking pictures came to be.
It was here that I learned to roller skate. I cut off the handle of a
broom and taught myself to skate. I still have scars from learning, I
fell a lot. By the time I was fourteen, I had dreams of being a
professional skater. We would see the skating acts at the vaudeville
shows in the movie houses. The depression put a stop that dream.
In the fall of 1923, we left Detroit and came back to Tennessee.
Daddy had bought a car and we drove through. On the way Max became
very ill. As soon as we got to our house at the Dodd farm, Daddy went
to get a doctor. The doctor said Max had diphtheria and was dying. He
said there was a new vaccine for diphtheria, but that Max was so bad
he wasn’t sure it would help. He gave him a double dose. After a few
hours he got better and the doctor was surprised that he made it. The
doctor tacked a square of red cloth by our door and no one would come
in. It was thirty days before anyone could visit us or we could leave
home. It was a hard time on Daddy and Mother. We had just came home
and our trunk with our bedding and most of our clothes was in
Dickson. Daddy always shipped it by train, and he had to wait a month
before he could go to Dickson to pick it up. Mother must have had a
hard time doing all she had to do for a sick child and not much to do
In the spring of 1924, Daddy put out a crop and we had a nice garden.
In June a tornado came through with a lot of hail and destroyed all
the crops and gardens. So another year on the farm was a failure. At
this time, I wasn’t going to school. Mother helped me at home. It was
three miles to school and much to far for me to walk alone. Before
Christmas, Daddy went to work with Mother’s brother, Henry Bradford.
They went to Nashville and stayed all week and came home on weekends.
Uncle Henry’s wife was named Ella and they had two little boys. They
lived about a mile from us. Henry and Ella were living where their
son, Billy Robert Bradford lives today, 1988. A few days before
Christmas, Aunt Ella came to visit us. It had rained for days and
Piney River was up everywhere. In Nashville, the river was so high
that Daddy and Uncle Henry couldn’t leave. They were to bring our
presents for Christmas. So for Christmas all we had was a can of King
Leo Peppermint sticks that Daddy had brought home earlier. When the
waters finally went down, we had Christmas on New Year’s day. In
those days all a the roads followed the streams. Our road crossed
Piney River several times inside of two miles. People just didn’t
travel in cars in winter and even in summer cars had a hard time
getting through the streams. ?
She wanted all her children to be born in Tennessee, so Daddy [it
ended like that]
When spring came, Daddy went back to Detroit to work. Mama waited at
home with Max and I until he found a place for us to live. This house
was on Garadin Street. My mother started keeping boarders. She was a
real good cook so she never had any trouble getting boarders. One of
our favorites was Mama’s brother, Dob Bradford. He was a happy-go-
lucky person. Always laughing, singing or dancing. Max and I just
loved him.?had him for Thanksgiving dinner. ?It was back to school
again a Lyon. When I came home each afternoon, Mother, Max and I got
our wagon and went grocery shopping. We got most everything at an A &
P grocery store. We bought our baked goods at a bakery. The bakery
had cream puffs for ten cents each. I liked them so well I saved all
my pennies until I could buy one. We lived on Garadin Street until
spring of 1926. Mother became pregnant with her third child. Daddy
brought us back to the farm in Tennessee. I was ten years old. I
started back to school at Pinewood. It was a long walk, but Uncle
Henry Bradford was building a house at Pinewood so I rode with him
most of that spring. Sometimes the river would get up and I couldn’t
go to school for days. Once in a while it got up when I was at
school. I’d stay with someone close to school. Most of the time I
stayed with the Same Griffin family. They had a daughter my age so I
could borrow clothes from her to wear. Thinking back it’s a wonder I
ever learned anything. Went to school when I could and changed
schools every few months. When spring came, Daddy went back to
Detroit. Grandpa (Samuel Davis Bradford), came to stay with us. He
stayed the rest of the year. When Daddy returned to Detroit in the
spring of 1926, he boarded with Hollis and Clatye Bradford-Smith.
They lived on Farr Avenue near Mount Elliot Avenue. Charlotte
Bradford was in Detroit that summer for a short stay with Clatye and
returned to Tennessee. At some time before March 1927, all the Brown
family were living in Detroit. Grandpa Bradford was every child’s
dream of what a grandfather should be. Max followed him all day long.
He grew a garden and a few truck patches. We helped plant seeds and
set out the plants. After lunch every day, he would sit under one of
the maple trees and tell us stories. Some of his ghost (stories) were
very scary, but we loved them. He also told us about when he was
young and fought Indians. Mama always said most of it was his
imagination, but we believed every word. ?
Mama raised chickens. One baby chick has a solid white head. Grandpa
named him white head (what else). We petted him until he was so tame
he would sit on Grandpa’s knee and listen to the stories. He grew up
to be so mean that he jumped on us every time we went outside. One
day he made the mistake of jumping on Mama. She put him in a pen and
we had him for Thanksgiving dinner. ?On May 27, 1926, my second
brother was born. Mother named him “Miles Lemarion Brown, Jr.” Daddy
wrote a letter from Detroit and told Mama to “kiss my little Zoonie
for me.” From then until he was full grown he was called “Zoonie”
Brown. Daddy didn’t see Miles Jr. until he was several months old.
Daddy came home in 1926. I kind of draw a blank here, for after
Christmas Daddy carried me to stay with Aunt Tommye Bradford-Haywood,
so I could go to school without a long walk. I don’t know were Mama
stayed. Maybe with relatives for Daddy went back to Detroit, just
after the New Year. He told me if I would be a good girl he would
send me a present for my birthday. When I finally got it, it was a
gold ring with my initials engraved on it. I was eleven years old.
While I lived with Aunt Tommye, I went to a one room school that was
in sight of their home. I got acquainted with many of my relatives on
Daddy’s side of the family. Aunt Tommye’s husband, Hubert, raised fox
hounds. On night when he carried them out on the ridges to listen to
them run, he let my cousin Frances and I go with him. He would build
a big fire and sit by it and listen to the hounds running the fox.
After school was out, Daddy came and got me. He was home again to try
farming. After the crops were in, he rebuilt our house. He tore away
a lot of it and built three new rooms. There was a new kitchen, a
screened dining area, and a new bedroom for me. He also built a big
porch across the front. I guess he spent too much money on the house
for that fall we went back to Detroit.
After our return to Detroit in the fall of 1927, Hollis and Clatye
Bradford-Smith and family moved into the house and lived there until
1828, and moved back to the Smith farm across Piney River form Henry
and Ella Bradford. While at the Brown farm, their youngest daughter,
Jean was born, on March 6, 1918. This was our last return to Detroit
and we remained there until I was fourteen, in the summer of 1930.
When we first got there, we lived on Dwyer Street for a short time. I
still went to Lyon School. Later we moved to one block over to a
larger house so Mama could keep borders again. That trip back to
Detroit put me back to the fifth grade. I hadn’t learned enough in
Tennessee to pass the required tests in Lyon School. One good thing
came out of my setback was as a fifth grader, I competed in my school
spelling bee. I won against the whole school. I didn’t do very good
in the city contest as I was up against sixth, seventh and eight
graders. I did win a large World Atlas and big dictionary with my
name on the front in gold letters. When I was ready for the sixth
grade, we moved into a new house on Koschuisko Street. It was large
enough that Mama could keep her borders, and I could walk to my new
school. Max was going to school now and he could walk to Lyon School
which was in sight of our house. My new school was Alex Cooper
Intermediate School. I liked it real well. We could have hot lunches
everyday and went to different rooms for some of our classes. One
class I liked best was home economics. I learned not only basic
skills but to make many desserts. From then on I always made the
dessert for our meals at home.
Mama really liked reading and so did I. She bought a number of books
and magazines for us to read. In school we studied the books of
”Treasure Island” and “Robin Hood”. I guess I was the only student
that enjoyed it. I kept my books and read them over for many years.
One thing I liked about the Detroit Schools was there was never any
homework. All lessons were studied at school. The only books we could
bring home was the ones that belonged to us or library books. It was
so strange when I moved back to Tennessee and teachers signed so much
I still went grocery shopping everyday after school. Only now I went
alone. I purchased the food that would be used in the next day’s
meals. With ten boarders and our family my mother sure did a lot of
cooking. It was my job everyday to wash the dishes after supper. It
took a full hour everyday. I always hated having to do it for by the
time I was finished it was to late to go outside. About this time the
Company Daddy worked for built a large park several miles out of
town. In the summer we went there nearly every Sunday. Mama fixed a
picnic lunch and we went in our Dodge touring car that Daddy got for
us. My Uncle Dob Bradford still stayed with us and most Sunday’s he
would bring his girlfriend and go with us. He name was Hazel Jones.
My sister Hazel was named after her.
?In the spring of 1929, my little brother, Miles Jr., was nearly
three years old. He liked playing outside and one Sunday he
disappeared. We searched the whole neighborhood for him. Finally
Daddy called the police to help. Several hours later they found him
several miles form home. He was wandering around the street, so the
police decided he had been kidnapped. Every who did it got scared and
put him out. We were all very worried and Mama was hysterical.
Needless to say we kept a closer watch on him from then on. ?That
summer I got scarlet fever. Later Miles Jr. got it too. Our house was
quarantined for twenty-eight days, so all our borders had to leave.
Even Daddy couldn’t stay in the house with us. Later some of the
borders came back but a few didn’t. ?The next year was very hard on
my Mother. In the fall she found a lump in one of her breasts and
went into the hospital for surgery. Her health never did get as good
again. Daddy and I managed to take care of the borders and our family
until Mama was able to help. Daddy bought her a new cook stove to
make her work easier. It was green and cream enamel and she loved it.
She had wanted one for a long time. My children will remember the
stove for it stayed in our family until 1964. That year I started
another new school. It was called John Burroughs School. It was so
large, it had two gyms, a swimming pool and a cafeteria that was
almost as large as the other schools I went to. I learned to swim
there and became a junior life saver. Years later I was able to save
Miles Jr., and a cousin form drowning. I played softball that year
and was captain of our team. ?Our house had an upstairs apartment and
day a young couple moved in. They had a small baby. I did babysitting
for them. They had the first radio I ever saw. I really enjoyed
listening to it.?
?In the winter of 1929, Mother burned her arm really bad. She was
stoking the furnace and someway the steam burned her. Even if she
couldn’t use her arm she was able to help with the cooking. So all
together we were able to do what needed to be done. Times were
getting very hard. The depression was starting. Most of our borders
had left by spring of 1930. Daddy stayed on until summer. Work got ?
scarce so he decided it was time to go back to our farm. He took his
savings and hired a truck to move all our furniture to Tennessee.
Mother wasn’t about to leave her stove behind. Daddy invested in some
real estate and he lost all that. He had a few hundred dollars to
take care of us until he could make a crop. ?On our way back to
Tennessee our car had some trouble and Daddy pulled into a garage to
see what was wrong. They put it on a rack to raise it up, and not
knowing he was standing on the rack while he looked under the hood,
Daddy was raised up. He stepped back and fell and hurt his wrist.
Mother thought is was broken but he wouldn’t go to a doctor. Mother
bandaged it tightly and he drove home with one hand. It healed up all
right in a few weeks. ?When we got home stayed with Grandfather Brown
for a while. Our house had a family living in it and they didn’t have
to leave until New Year’s. The man’s name was Francis Marion
Crawford. He lived there with his wife and daughter. His nickname was
”Uncle Duck” and he would be counted on to tell a tall tale or two.
His daughter’s name was Vivian Christine. She was three years older
than I was. We became very good friends. Just across the river from
Daddy farm was a man named Albert Sullivan. His wife was Christine’s
oldest sister and her name was Ruby. He had several children, but the
two oldest girls were the same age as Christine and I. In the next
year we were together a lot. Just up the road from us was a family
named Wrenn. They moved that year and Christine’s father, “Uncle
Duck”, moved to the Wreen house just before Christmas . That fall of
1930, before the Crawford’s moved, we lived with my Grandfather
Brown. Mother was expecting her fourth child, but she helped my step
grandmother can fruits and vegetables and for her help we got part of
them. Daddy worked for different people that needed help and for pay
he took what ever we could use to help make it through the winter
until he could make a crop the next year. When school started, my
parents carried me to Mother’s sister that lived near Columbia,
I was starting the eight grade and loved going to school at my
Aunt’s. We road a bus to a new school, that had replaced the one room
school I had attended before. I got acquainted with may of my
relatives. I was older now I could visit them more often. Even after
I married, I went back a few times.
When Daddy came to get me and I went home, I started back at Pinewood
School, Miss Eunice Murphy was my teacher.
Mother and Daddy worked very hard that fall to gather enough food for
us to eat in the winter. They worked for people gathering crops and
Mother helped can fruits and vegetables and they took a share for
pay. Everyone was glad of their help for no one had money to pay
hired help.
We moved into our house just before Christmas. We were all glad to be
home at last. By now a school bus ran over on Highway 48, so I only
had a short distance to walk. We still had the river to cross, but
Daddy kept a small boat and when our foot log washed out, we used the
boat to cross. I was fifteen and was allowed to date on the weekends.
Christine Crawford, her nieces, Doy and Virginia Sullivan and I spent
a lot of time together. Once in a while Mr. Sullivan would give a
square dance. He played a fiddle and someone usually came that could
play a guitar or banjo. Once Daddy let me have a square dance in our
When my sister Hazel was a few weeks old, she became fretful and lost
weight. The doctor said she needed to be bottle bed with rich milk.
We had a cow but she was not giving mild. My Victrola was the only
thing we had that was worth enough to trade for a good cow. Daddy
found a nice Jersey cow with a young calf. It belonged to James and
Florence Cooper that lived on Plunder’s creek. Daddy said that if I
would trade my Victrola for them I could have the calf for my very
own. It was very hard to give it up, but in a few weeks Hazel’s
cheeks grew rosy and she was fat and healthy. I knew then we had done
the right thing.
Mother never got very strong after Hazel’s birth. I took on a lot of
extra work helping her. To repay me for all my help, she managed to
make me two new dresses. The depression was really bad so anything we
got was a treat. She was a very good seamstress.
I had lots of friends and we had swimming parties and fish fries all
summer. Before school started in the fall, my Grandfather Brown
became very ill. All of Daddy’s brothers wanted us to move into our
old house on Spring Creek and take care of him. They told Daddy that
if he would take care of him as long as he lived they would deed him
their share of the farm. So we moved again. It took a while but we
finally got everything moved. I started to school again that fall,
but Mother’s health go so bad I had to quit and stay home to help her.
My Grandfather Brown died on Saturday, November 7, 1931. We had only
taken care of him for a few weeks. All of Daddy’s family decided that
he hadn’t earned the farm, and wanted him to pay them if he wanted
the farm. Daddy sold the Dodd farm to Doctor John Edward Wood. He
paid his brothers and sisters for the farm. It was a huge old two
story house and had three big fireplaces. We still almost froze for
it was a cold house. We got most of Grandpa’s things. His widow took
what was hers and moved to Centerville to live with her children.
As Christmas grew nearer, Mother became very ill. She had to go into
the hospital at Nashville. Max and I kept things going with the help
of one of Daddy’s cousins who came and stayed with us. Her name was
Annie Lou Harbison. She was a lot of help to me. She taught me to sew
and help me make what clothes we got. In mid-January, Mother came
home and we cared for her until she died on Thursday, February 16,
1932. Charlotte Bradford-Brown died at home on Piney River in Hickman
County, Tennessee, and is buried in an unmarked grave in the Brown
Cemetery on Big Spring Creek.
On January 11, 1932, I was sixteen years old. On my birthday a new
family moved into our neighborhood. They were from Nashville and
everyone was excited that something new was happening. For me this
family was to become my future in-laws. They were well liked and the
woman came to help me take care of Mother.
In this family was the father. His name was Hurshel Benton Gibbs. The
mother, Lela Arizona Gibbs, two daughters, the oldest was Mettie Lee.
She was already married to Harvey Young. The other daughter was Sadie
Geraldine. She was married to Rufus Gallaher, Jr.
In March, Mrs. Gibbs said her son was coming for a visit. She had
told me so much about him before we met, I think I fell love with him
before we met, and on the last Friday of March, 1932, I met my future
husband. He was twenty years old. I think even that day we knew that
we would be together all our lives. We discovered we both liked the
same things, especially fishing. From then on for over forty-five
years we have been fishing, together.
This ends one story and begins another. It has many very precious
by Iviah Vivian Brown
* * *
Dear Vivian:
On behalf of all the “Friends of Oak Grove”, we appreciate your very
beautiful and touching story. We thank and love you very much for
sharing it with us.
James E. Bradford

Thoughts and Memories of My Father, part 2


The Young Teamster
These are some notes from Gilbert Sullivan’s memoirs as transcribed by his son Dan Sullivan
Later on after the team of little blue mules I first owned, I had another pair of larger mules. The off mule (the mule on the left hitched as a team) was mean. You had to always watch her to keep from getting hurt. Uncle John Buttrey was working with me, he was getting to be an old man, probably 65 years old at the time, and we were hauling spoke timber. By the time Gilbert was 12 he was a professional teamster, and would hire out with his team to haul what ever needed to be hauled in the surrounding area. At times this was the only income the family had. By the time he was 16 he had become an expert teamster, maybe as good as there was around. He continues his story about working with Uncle John Buttrey hauling spoke timber. We called the cuts tough butts. They (the men cutting the timber) only cut two to four 36 inch cuts off the butt log of a tree. This was the very best wood in the tree. Usually straight clear grain and was probably White Ash. We rolled them up on skids from the back of the wagon and loaded them cross ways in the wagon frame. On the haul we had to make, we had a pretty steep hill to go down to get to the spoke mill which was about 200 yards down the road. It was a short haul so we loaded pretty heavy. We would lock the back wheels going off the hill. The lock chain would run from the coupling pole back to the wheels. They would either tie the brake pole down in a lock position, or tie up the back wheels with a log chain so the wheels would not roll, but scoot going off a steep place to keep the load from pushing on the mules. Where the road went off the hill we had to straddle a big stump. They would cut the trees close to the ground to get the best timber from the base of the tree to make spokes for wagon and buggy wheels. With each trip down the hill the back wheels, which were locked and scooting, would cut down into the ground a little deeper leaving less and less clearance over the top of the stump. Finally the ruts cut down enough to where on one trip the lock chain hung the top of the stump. I was sitting on top of the load, driving the team, and when the chain hung the stump the wagon came to a sudden stop. With the jolting stop, the front end of the wagon busted out and the spoke timber went rolling out between the mules, down the hill in front of the wagon. The rolling timber must have thrown Dad forward down on the mules from the top of the load, for in his notes he went on to say, I caught the harness of the lead mule and got on her back. One of the cuts got cross ways and landed on the off mules hocks and the double tree, and blocked the other cuts from coming on down on the mules. The mule must have realized she was in a dangerous place, because she just squatted and stood perfectly still. Uncle John and I blocked the other cuts so they could not roll any further, got the cut off the mules hocks, got the road cleared, and went on to the mill. I was really lucky not to have been hurt. Most of Dad’s work with his team and wagon was hauling some type of timber products. Most of the land for several miles around Turnbull Creek was timber land, and a significant part of the local economy was from harvesting various timber products. A lot of the stories he would tell me and my brothers when we were young boys were about working in the woods with a team. This next story he wrote about was one of those, and was about a time when he worked with his brother Norman. Another time Norman and I were hauling logs. I was driving the little blue mules I liked so much. I was trying to get them on the other side of the wagon to pull the logs on. The way logs were loaded on a wagon was to put two skid poles from the bed of the wagon to the ground so that logs could be rolled up the poles and onto the wagon. When the logs were too big to be rolled up by hand or the angle of the skid poles too steep, logs could be pulled up the skid poles onto the wagon by tying a log chain to the wagon, running it under and around the log on the ground, then across to the opposite side of the wagon where either one or two mules could be hitched to the chain so the mules could pull and roll the log up the poles onto the wagon. It took two chains to rig this system. Dad continues the story. There was a big patch of green briars that the mules had to walk through to get to the other side of the wagon, so they were going slow. Norman was known to be high strung with a mean temper, and apparently in this situation impatient. Norman was mad and contrary, so he hit one of the mules with a small stick. My mules were not used to being whipped so they got nervous. I got mad and told Norman never to hit one of my mules again. So he said “boy, I’m gonna whip you”. I had a real good string whip hanging on the lead mule’s harness, so I grabbed the whip and started backing away and whipping his legs. So he got enough of that and told me to load my own logs and he would load his. I got loaded and went to the sawmill with my load, and was on my way back to the woods when I met Norman going to the mill with only one log, and the back end of it was on the back hounds of the wagon instead of up on the log bolsters. He stopped his team and wagon and said “boy, you know I can’t load logs with one chain”. I said “yes I knew that when I left”. I had two chains so I had no trouble loading by myself. I guess they went back loading together, because Dad went on with another story about loading logs with his brother Norman. One day we were loading a big log with Norman’s team. Every time the log would get to the top of the skids, one of his mules would quit pulling. He tried three or four times, and when the mule would stop, the log would roll back down the skid poles to the ground. He asked what were we going to do. I think he was wanting me to load his load with my team. I told him I would load it with his mules if he wanted me to. So he said “all right”. I cut me a large switch about eight feet long, picked up the lines, and clucked to the mules to come up. When the log got to the place where the mule had quit pulling, I gave him a cut with that big switch and told him to “get”. He loaded the log the first time we tried.

Rowdy Friends and Homemade Whiskey
Some time near to this period, the new road that was called Cox Pike was being built. It was in the winter and I hauled creek gravel on the road. It was about 5 or 6 miles from home, and I would leave the wagon on, or near the job and ride the mules to and from the job. After some two or three weeks going home at night, I started staying with uncle Nat Pewitt and his family at night. Guy and Ray Pewitt, (I assume they were sons of uncle Nat) had a still up a hollow from the house. It was a large still and they called it Steam Shot. One or two nights a week I would go with them to cook off a run of whiskey. Guy was working for a man they called Slim. I must it is inferred here that Guy had some business arrangement with Slim, where Guy and Ray would make the whiskey, and Slim would distribute it. Slim lived near Nashville, and Slim was the only name I ever heard him called. While hauling gravel, I broke a set of haimes, and so I borrowed some from uncle Nat. One Sunday morning when I started home Guy and Ray rode with in about __ miles of home. We had some whiskey so I was feeling pretty good, and Guy wanted to race me. He had a real good saddle horse, and he was fast. I was drunk enough I suppose I didn’t care, so I took him on. My little mule ran out of the road under some low hanging limbs and I hurt my arm. Soon after that we stopped at a friend house, and he brought out a quart of red whiskey and wanted me to have a drink. I did, and that is the last thing I remembered until I got to Liberty Church of Christ. That is where Ray left me and went his way. I don’t know when Guy left us. When I got within about a mile from home I came to myself, and I was walking and leading the mule. I wondered why I was walking, so I got back on the mule. When I got home it must have been about 12:00 o’clock. I unsaddled the mule and turn him loose, and went to sleep in the corn crib. I woke about 4:00 and went to the house. Some time after the job was done, I went on a Saturday evening to carry the haimes I had borrowed back to Uncle Nat. I rode a little 2 year old mule that was not broke very well. I met Guy and Ray about one mile from their home on the way to the still with a load of sugar in the wagon. They wanted me to go with them to the still. I hitched my mule in a shed belonging to a Murry Lankford, and went with them to the still. We carried in a load of sugar, and brought back a wagon load of whiskey. The weather was damp and cold, and it was snowing a little, to where the ground was well covered (about 1 to 2 inches of snow).

When we got back to where my mule was tied, we stopped and I got back on the little mule. Guy wanted me to get out in front of the wagon, as we wet on down the road. The way we were going, there was a long hill, down grade for about a mile all the way. A deep gully had washed out on both sides of the road, and the road was narrow. Guy had a real goad team of mules and fat as mud. All it took to get them to run was to kick the front gate of the wagon, and they would run for life.
Going off the hill, when we got to a place where I had no where to get off the road on the side to let them pass, Guy began to kick the front gate of the wagon and holler to get his team started running. I had to run my little mule flat out to keep from being run over. I was scared half stiff. I kept thinking what if my mule fell. There was no way they could have kept from running over me and my mule. Guy ran me all the way down the hill. I remember 2 or 3 years after that I was riding along Parker Creek road, and I saw a fairly large still in plain view of the road. There were some 25 to 30 wooden 60 gallon barrels of mash. The still was operated around the clock with 2 shifts a day. They would blow the steam whistle when it came time to change shifts. They operated with a steam boiler just like they used in those times to run a sawmill. The steam was piped to the boiler to heat the mash. One time when I was bout 14, two other boys and I stopped in at Uncle Jim Green’s store. Dewey Beshears stopped by the store too. So we were on our way home and Dewey wanted to race his mule against mine. There had been some lose rock put in a mud hole in the road, and his mule hit them rock and fell against my mule’s chest, and she turned a complete flip. I flew though the air about 15 feet in front of her. When I went back and caught her there was dirt caked on top of the saddle horn. Neither me or the mule was hurt. This story took place before World War I had ended. Dad was logging, and he sent Grover and me to buy some corn from Mr Giles Paige. Corn was $10.00 a barrel. Mr. Paige lived where Matt Sullivan had lived for a long time, and was living there when he died. On our way back, when we got to where Dave and Nettie lived, we met Guy and Ray Pewitt in the forks of the road. Guy had a real good pair of mules but they had never worked very hard, and was not use to pulling very much. Our mules were a little heavier, and were use to pulling in the woods, and were much slower. Guy wanted to tie the back of the wagons together and see which team would pull the other back. I realized what Guy had in mind so I agreed. I pulled my brakes on knowing his mules would jump against the wagon and fly back. About the time they did that, my mules started pulling, and I took the brakes off, and started dragging them back. Guy began yelling to stop. His mules had no chance to ever get in a position to dig in and stop from being dragged back.

Mules, Wagons and Long Roads

When I first started hauling on the road, Grover would go with me. We would haul spoke timber, staves bolts, lumber, and cross ties. I would always do the driving. In the summer time the roads would be real dusty, and in the winter lots of mud. One day in the winter it started turning cold, and the mud started freezing on the wagon hubs. By the time I got home that night the wheels were froze solid with no openings between the spokes. Once in the summer I was hauling lumber, and the mill where I loaded was close to where 100 Highway crosses the Hickman county line. That was long before the Highway was built. When I got to the top of the hill I ran in to the first crawler tractor I ever saw. It was pulling a large grader, grading the road all the way to Bon Aqua. The grading had left two or three inches of loose dirt in the road. I was already too heavy loaded before I hit that loose dirt. The loose dirt made the load pull all the more harder for the team. I should have left the wagon until the next day, and let some other wagons open up the tracks, but I kept going. I got to Bon Aqua about three hours late, and the mules were about give out pulling in the loose dirt. I watered them good and fed them so they could eat while I unloaded. That took about an hour. So they made it back home all right. One summer it was hot and dry. I always carried a bucket to use to water the mules with. One day about three miles from the station, (Bon Aqua Station) there lived a man named Gennis. He had a pond beside the road where we had stopped many times before to get water for the mules. On this day I was alone. No other wagons were with me. I stopped at the pond to water the mules, and had got over the rail fence ready to get the water, when Mr. Gennis saw me and made me get out without the water. I sure felt bad about that. I think Dad may have meant he felt that, it was mighty little of Mr. Gennis for not letting him water his mules. On a Saturday morning, I had gone up on the hill close to the house to get a load of firewood. I got back and was unloading from the back end of the wagon. The wood pile, where the wood was being stacked, was on a bank, and the wagon was down in a little hollow or dry branch. The mules kept pulling the wagon up and after several times the wagon was past where I wanted to unload. This apparently was aggravating Dad and made him mad. So they pulled up again, and I jumped up on the double tree and began to whip them with the end of the lines. Two hundred feet up the hollow the road went out of the hollow. On a bank at the place where the road left the hollow there was a solid rock wall. Although Dad does not describe exactly what was happening at this point, I think we can surmise that when he started whipping the mules they decided it was time to leave, and they got in a hurry doing it. Probably at a runaway pace, and when they approached the rock wall, (he picks his story back up at this point) the right side of the wagon got too far to the right up on a bank, and the wagon turned over throwing me against the rock wall. The front gate of the wagon caught my shoulder just enough to skin the hide. If it had caught me about three inches more it probably would have crushed me to death. I think I inherited some of that, take just so much and then explode, temper, and it has got me trouble a few times too. From the age of twelve until the age of eighteen I hauled stave bolts to two different stave mills, and tough butts to one spoke mill, and hauled logs to two different sawmills. I hauled staves, after they were manufactured, away from the two stave mills, and spokes, after the spokes were milled, away from the spoke mill, and lumber and cross ties from one of the sawmills. I hauled dye wood part of the time. Most of these manufactured wood products were hauled out to train sidings at Bellevue or Lyles Station, but most of the road hauling was to Bon Aqua Station. I have hauled with some of the best drivers and probably some of the worst in the county. As far as I can remember Mr. John Rainey was one of the best. He always had the best team and his harness was as good as money could buy. (When I was 8 or 9, he carried a load of hogs to Nashville for my Dad, and I went with him.) My Grandfather Green Sullivan, Uncle Oscar, and Uncle Turman always had good mules and harness. I had real good harness and some real good mules. Some that I was very proud of.

Work In Nashville
The year I was 16 when I got the crops laid by, I went to Nashville to work. I was probably the first part of July. I had my clothes in a small suitcase and walked to past Hillsboro, where the road crossed the creek. ( Leipers Fork) It was a little after dark, and I had pulled my shoes off to wade the creek when I saw the lights of a car coming. I flagged him down and he stopped, and asked me where I was going. I told him I was trying to get to Franklin to catch the Interurban into Nashville. The Interurban was a little commuter rail line that ran between Franklin and Nashville for several years, but after Franklin Road (U S Highway 31), and Hillsboro Pike were built, and automobiles became the prevalent means of travel the Interurban went out of business, probably in the late 1930s. The man’s name was Mr. Cannon. He carried me into Franklin to the Interurban Station. I was real tired, and when I sat down to wait for the Interurban, I went to sleep. When the car came by and was ready to go the conductor woke me and asked if I was going to ride that car. I told him I was and he said he was ready to go. When I got to the transfer shed in Nashville, while waiting for my street car, I got on some scales and weighed. (probably the kind that were around in public places where you could put a penny in and weigh) I weighed 109 pounds. The car I wanted to go out on was called the Buenavista. I went out to 22nd avenue where I boarded with Uncle Charlie Lampley. Monday morning I went over into west Nashville and got a job with John B. Ransom Box Factory. I got into a real hot argument with the hothead I was working with. He went and told the foreman I was giving trouble. The foreman came over and said for me not to come back the next morning. I said I would quit now if he wanted me to. He said no, for me to work on till time to quit. Later on the foreman came back around and said for me to come back next morning. I did, and that was Friday. Friday night I told the foreman I was going home over the weekend, and might be a little late Monday. He said that would be all right. I was wanting time Monday to look for another job. I went home over the weekend, and got back to Nashville late Sunday evening. Early Monday morning I went on up the railroad to Buchanan Lumber Company. It was a large place with some 25 or 30 men working there. They manufactured doors, windows, and window frames, and had a huge lumber yard. They had a team of mules and a wagon, so I started driving them there on the yard, bringing lumber from off the yard to the warehouse where they worked it into whatever they had orders for. In two or three days, they would send me out on small orders up to two or three miles from the place of business. I liked that job much better than the one at the box factory. I had to walk about two miles between work and where I stayed at night. About one mile of that was on a spur railroad that ran behind a lot of colored houses. One evening a bunch of colored boys were playing ball. There were about 5 or 6 of them, and 2 of them were larger than I was. One of them knocked the ball out a ways, so one of the boys had to go and get the ball. They all began to laugh at him, so I laughed too. One of the bigger boys said, “what are you laughing for boy”? I said “because you all are laughing.” One of them said, “I bet you could whip the hell out off him couldn’t you.” I said, “hell yes if it is necessary”. With that they started throwing cinder rocks at me. I dodged several of them, and started running after the one that was the closest to me, and they all ran. I stopped and stood there for a few seconds, then walked on. I was very glad I never saw any more of them. I was making twenty five cents an hour, ten hours a day. Their lumber came into the yard in freight cars. They figured it took two men a day to unload a car. I asked the foreman if he would let me unload the car at night. He said he would see about it. In a little while he came back and said he would. I unloaded 2 or 3 cars that way. As I recall Dad telling this story, he contracted for so much to unload a car, and would unload one car during the night, and made a good deal of extra money that way. I worked 6 or 7 weeks, and had to go home and pull fodder.

The Last Story
Dad’s journal is a randomly remembered, randomly written collection of stories in no particular chronology. The journal was written in a bold but shaky hand about 3 years before he died. From the time I was just a little boy, on up until the last days I lived at home, and even after I left home and returned for visits Dad would tell about things that happened in his childhood. As you can tell from this recreation of his journal he especially loved to tell about rough and rowdy days with his mules and wagons. This is the last memory he recorded and was short, but no exception, it was about working with his mules when he was just a boy. A boy by age, but a man by deed. . One summer I helped build the road from Fernvail to near Linton. We graded it with mules, and then hauled creek gravel with wagons. It was a very hard summers work. I rode a mule about 7 or 8 miles there and back, in the morning and evening. I must have been 15 years old.

My thoughts
At times I ponder the question. How do you measure the worth of a man? I’ve asked Mary that question several times. I know the immediate response of many, perhaps most would be, “it’s simple, look at his financial statement”. Or others may suggest that you have to look at the totality of the man. Nice try, but that one can be debated for as long as man has the capacity to think. Comprehending, and then measuring such a thing becomes cosmic. The definition of the word cosmic as used here is, “the inclusion of everything, but the description of nothing”. We then are left simply with our regard for the man, or if you will, our feelings. My world is limited I know, but Gilbert R. Sullivan was the greatest man in my life. I know that measurement is based on feelings, on love, and respect, but it’s all I need to know. A part of him was reborn in each of five sons. I think all of us had similar regard for him, and each in their own way struggled to measure up. I think each of us knew the futility in that task, and dealing with that, played out in it’s on way. Yet having something of him in each of us, even if only a fraction, is enough to cherish the life in us, and the ability to pass a bit of that on.

Thoughts and Memories of My Father Gilbert Russell Sullivan


These are some notes from Gilbert Sullivan’s memoirs as transcribed by his son Dan Sullivan

Within hours of my Father’s death I sought to be alone, and found myself in a bedroom of my parent’s home, the one away from the rest of the house, the one over the garage. As I grieved his death I felt all of a sudden very much alone, and I asked:
Where have you gone Father, and why have you left me alone. Who will I turn to for advice and counsel for the thousands of choices I must make. Who will teach me of the old signs. When to plant corn.

When to dehorn cattle so the blood will not spurt, but only seep When to castrate the bull calves so they will not suffer and bleed When to plow to kill the Johnson Grass When to plant potatoes Who will teach me the wisdom of the moon
Without you I’m only a man, a soul of no particular distinction With you I was a boy of special renown I was the son of Gilbert Sullivan, someone to take note of and be reckoned with I was the son of the Sheriff, a man of the people, elected by the people in An election campaign conducted in the fields, on foot, horseback, and T-Model Ford The Sheriff who put out the boiler fires making illegal whisky The Sheriff who cleaned out the road houses on Nashville pike, and Columbia Pike between Brentwood and Spring Hill
You were my unshakable foundation, my connection to the beginning of time You were the Taproot by which I stood tall, firmly attached to the core of the earth I could withstand any tempest with you to turn to How will I now withstand the winds of time alone
Can you look down and see the messes I make Do you know about all the things I do that I should not have done Do you know about all the things I don’t do that I should do Where have you been when I’ve needed you so much Will you scold me when at last we meet again Will your firm hand on my shoulder reassure me that things are all right
Will I see those steel blue gray eyes again Those eyes that said so much That heaped praise and made me proud That burned holes in my soul and reduced me to elemental matter That gave me comfort when I was down That made me feel special when I did good That made me feel a wanted part of creation That made me feel an unnecessary crack in human frailty All this and more said without a word
The world seemed less secure the day I saw the bright gleam fade from those eyes The day he tried to get out of his death bed because “I’ve got to much to do to stay here” The day he appollogized for dying The day he squeezed my hand an said “You’re one that I can count on” A complement that I will cherish, but wonder if I deserve
The following narrative is based on a hand written journal by my father as he recalled things that happened in his childhood in Williamson County, Tennessee. Words in bold print are his words from that journal.
Williamson County Roots
“Gib”, as some close friends called him in the early days, was born in a small frame house on the banks of Turnbull Creek, about one mile above where Highway 100 crosses over the creek. It was the fifth day of January, 1907. “Gib” was the fifth of ten children, but as was so common in those days two of the children died at birth. Turnbull Creek drains a section of the western “Highland Rim” in Williamson County Tennessee, near present day Fairview. The soil along the ridges was never fertile like the deep silty loams of the “Middle Basin”, a few miles to the east. It took a hardy group of people to settle and survive there. A few years after James Robertson and John Donelson lead the Cumberland expedition to settle the territory around French Lick (Nashville), Jeremiah Sullivan brought his family to settle those ridges and hollows of the western highland rim. They with other families like the Lampleys, Mangrums, Lankfords, Buttreys, Whites, Tidwells, Thompsons, and others raised livestock and lived off the land. I can remember it being said in my family that they settled there because there was plenty of water and the game was plentiful. I suspect there were other reasons, like the land being cheaper there or that some had land grants in that area. By the time Gilbert was born to Allen Judson Sullivan, and Liza Elizabeth Roberts, generations of the Sullivans had been there for over 100 years. As my father wrote years later of the place he was born , this was my Grandfather Green Sullivan’s farm. Green Sullivan (William Green Sullivan) was the Grandson of Owen one of the original settlers to the area. In 1984 at the time Dad wrote about his childhood the house and barn still stood on the left side of the highway going west, about one half mile below Union Valley Methodist Church, one mile from Hudgins School where I went to school. He wrote, I went to school very little. I never finished the fourth grade.
Memories of Early Childhood
The first thing that I remember in my life, he writes, I must have been 3 or 4 years old. I was trying to follow my father, and I got up the road to Mr. Robert Stinsons home, (he lived about 200 yards from Union Valley Church) where there was a large Mulberry tree. Mr. Stinson knocked off some mulberries and gave them to me to get me to go back home. .My father bought and sold livestock, and he was going on a trip to buy livestock He was going with Mr. John Wess Sullivan. My father and Mr. John Wess Sullivan worked and rode together. Several years later, I remember when I was about 14 years old riding to Columbia (TN) on a Sunday to take mules to the big mule sale there. I had 2 mules on my right and had two tied behind to my horses tale. I don’t remember how many my father and Mr. Wess had. Dad wrote about another recollection when he was about four. We went to my uncle Londe Sullivan’s to visit, and I was playing on the stairway, and found some tobacco stamps in a can. I took a big yellow one with the name Old Statesman, the name of the tobacco pouch it came from. I put the stamp in my pocket and when I got home I showed it to my mother. She scolded me for taking it and said I would have to take it back. So the next time we went to see uncle Londe mother made me carry the tobacco stamp back and give it to Ante Hattie. Gib told about other troubles he had about that time. Along about that time we had two goats. Every time I would go out of the house by myself, those goats would get me down and really work me over. I hated those goats. Children learned about work early in life in those days. When I was six years old I would go to the fields with Nettie, Dixie, and Grover to chop weeds out of the corn. It seemed that Gib became a good hand with horses and mules at a very young age.

When I was about 7 or 8 years old, he wrote, we had a big brown jenny, (female donkey) and Dad had several yearling mules and some were probably near 2 years old. I remember on several occasions in the winter (on trips to sell mules or to move them to other pastures) Dad would get me to ride the jenny and the young mules would follow the jenny, and he would follow behind the mules on his horse. I recall my Dad telling me on several occasions that as a young boy many of his friends were years older than he. I always had more friends of people being much older than I was. One of the best friends was Albert Brashears a large man, about 40 at the time.

He would always play very rough with me. One winter day we went out with young mules to do some trading for older mules to sell. About dinner time we stopped at Mr. George Lampley’s, and were out at the barn showing young mules. A real steep hill covered with large trees sloped away form the barn. There were two or three other boys there about my age. Mr. Brashears grabbed me and said out loud so the other boys could hear that he was going to chew my ear. He started chewing on my ear and told me to start hollering loud like he was chewing my ear off. One chubby boy was lying in the sun on a bed of leaves. About that time Mr. Brashears turned me lose and started for the big chubby boy, and the boy started rolling to get away from Mr. Brashears. He started rolling down that steep hill and couldn’t stop, but before he got to rolling very fast he rolled against a big tree. That probably kept him from getting hurt real bad. It must have been a long way to the bottom. One of Dad’s sisters, Dixie Clara, had married Monroe Buttrey on December 25, 1917 at the age of 16. On April 15, 1919 she gave birth to a son, Harley, and she died one month later, apparently from complications form the delivery. When Dixie died she was sick for some weeks. I was eleven years old at the time and would walk with Nettie, (an older sister) about 3 miles along a path through some old sage fields and woods at about 12 O’clock at night to sit with her until daylight, then walk back home. It was in the early spring. When I was 10 or 11 years old Grover (a younger brother) and I had two hunting dogs. In the winter we would go rabbit hunting and the dogs would tree rabbits in hollow trees or logs. We always carried an ax so we could chop them out. Some times we could run our hands in or jab them out with a small pole and catch them. When Dad would tell stories about his childhood, he would talked about his Dad’s drinking from time to time, and what a burden it was on the family. He would tell us how hard it was for his mother and the children. In his notes he wrote, I was about 12 years old when my father left home. He moved up the road about one half mile. Pretty soon Grover went to live with him, and that left my mother Hazel, Gertrude, Zelma (Dad’s sisters) and me alone. Zelma had asthma real bad. She was sick a lot in the winter time. I had a little mare named Kate, and on several occasion I would ride late in the night to get Dr. Zerbie to come see her. My mother had a real hard life. Kate was about the best piece of horse flesh I ever saw. The other boys and I were always having a horse race. I don’t remember her ever loosing. I also had a pair of little blue mules about that time. They were the first mules I ever owned. I broke them when they were coming two years old, and they were the best pair of broke mules I ever saw. They were always ready to do anything I would ask them to do. After my Dad left home he bought a grist mill, and a blacksmith’s shop. I worked with him part of the time in the shop. I also ran the mill when he wasn’t there on Saturday. When people would come by to get their horses shod they would bring their own shoes and nails. We would fit the shoes and put them on for $0.40 per head. I was 14 or 15 years old when Luther Daugherty brought two mules and one horse to get shod. There was no one at the shop. He came on to our house. I was in the bed with the measles. I got out of the bed and went with him and shod his horses, and as far as I can remember it never hurt me at all. Mother didn’t want me to go, but I went on. One story Dad told illustrated the skill required of a self reliant people to repair their tools and machinery without the availability of modern parts stores or machining equipment. Shortly before I was 12 years old, my Dad had borrowed a seed drill to sow wheat with. For some reason he had me carry the drill home. I had to go about a mile or maybe a mile and a half. The road was rough all the way. Two or three hundred yards before I got to where I was to take the drill, the road went into the creek, and had a rock bottom with little two or three inch falls in it. The drill wheel dropped off one of those falls and broke the axle in the drill. I remember helping my grandfather getting the axle out and carrying it to his shop to weld. He heated both pieces in a forge using a charcoal fire, and when they were white hot, he hammered them out like he wanted them. Then he put both pieces back in the fire and heated them to welding heat. I held the long piece, and he held the short one, and he welded them together, and beat them out to the right length. We put the axle back in the drill and it fit. I have always thought that was some mighty good blacksmith work for a man that only did his own blacksmith work. One time Dad swapped one of the mules I had been working off to Robert Edwards for a little bay mule. She was a pretty little mule, and in good flesh. But one of the mules he had traded off was from a pair that he had broke together, and I had worked together. You could take them both to the field and work one until about 10:00 o’clock, then take her out and work the other until dinner. The first time I worked the new mule, we were plowing in a little creek bottom breaking it. Dad was following me with another team. The mule did fine until about 10:30, and she quit and didn’t want to go any further. I was already mad because he had broke my team up, and got this little young mule that couldn’t do the work like the mule he had swapped off. I was trying to get the mule to go when he caught up with me, and said, “what’s the matter boy, can’t you work that mule. I looked to my right and there lay a wagon standard that had fallen from the wagon sometime before. So when he said that I saw blazes and said yes sir. I stepped over and got the stick, walked up beside the mule and hit her right behind the ear. The mule fell to the ground and quivered, and the blood began to ooze out of her nose. Dad said, “boy, you’ve killed that mule”. I said, “I hope I have”. But of course I didn’t really hope that at all. In a little while the mule got up, and in a few minutes we went on to the end of the row, and it started to rain a little. So Dad said that we had better take out. That evening I hauled a load of rock with her. Before I could work her again Dad swapped her for a bigger mule. This one had long hair, and was stubborn, and one of those kind that would work like she should.
Good Times With Dad on the Road
When I was 8 or 9 I would go with my Dad to Nashville on the wagon. We usually carried a mixed load, shelled corn, molasses, dried peas, hams, and sweet potatoes. Coming back home, most of the time we would be just about empty except for a few odds and ends, probably coffee, sugar, a few yards of cloth, or a few house wares, except in the spring on 2 or 3 trips we would bring back a load of fertilizer. Mother would fix a box of food and we would sometimes take a piece of side meat to fry at a camp on the road. When staying over in Nashville, we would put the mules and wagon in a large stable. At that time in Nashville there was some 8 to 10 large stables that would hold twenty or thirty wagons. We would sleep in the wagon at night. On two or three of those trips I remember going to a silent movie. One time we had a pretty team of sorrel mules that were not well broke. A section of their route between Nashville and home took them down Harding pike through Belle Meade. Out in Belle Meade on the Harding Pike where the road crosses the railroad at an angle, the railroad ran parallel to the road for a good way. We were close to the crossing when Dad looked at his watch, and said it was about time for the train. We looked and sure enough, here come the train chugging down the grade. About that time the whistle blew. We must have been some 30 or 40 feet from the crossing. The mules got scared and started raring up and jumping and got turned across the ditch by the road. Grandfather Judson must have been able to hold them in check while the train went on by. Dad continues by saying the train passed and we drove on. Shortly before World War I, there was an army base on Whites Bridge road just outside of Nashville. I remember from there on into town we would meet now and then an army freight wagon coming out of town. There would usually be six mules to the big wagon, and they would always be at a fast trot.

Two men would be on the seat of the wagon, one to drive and one to brake when it was needed. To me that was a grand sight. On one of those trips to Nashville, we left from down town in the early morning and drove to a fertilizer plant in West Nashville and loaded with fertilizer. We came back across the Whites Bridge road to the Harding Pike. On the way home it was beginning to get dark about the time we got to the top of Whippoorwill Hill. We stopped and made camp for the night. It was right cold, probably in the middle 30’s, and the wind was blowing right sharp. We hung a blanket between some trees to brake the wind and built a big fire, made some coffee, ate supper and bedded down for the night. There was another wagon with us, camped near by. The next morning when we woke we noticed that the teams had got lose and went down in a hollow to get water. Dad and the other man went to hunt the horses. When they found them and brought them back, we hitched up and were on our way home. On another trip with Dad it was a Monday and the weather was hot. When we got near the backbone hill on Harding Road, we came up on a Mr. McPherson. He had one of his mules lose from the wagon, and had pulled the harness off. The mule was rolling in the dust, and was grunting and groaning something awful. Mr. McPherson asked Dad what he thought was wrong. Dad said she acted like she had the colic. He had turned the mules out on grass on Sunday and thought she must have eaten too much grass. He ask Dad what should he do. Dad said if she had the colic he could bleed her and she would be all right. Mr. McPherson told Dad to go ahead and bleed the mule. So Dad got out his knife and cut little gashes in the mules upper mouth along the first ridge behind the upper teeth. The mule would wallow her tongue around and swallow the blood, and in a few minutes she was up. Mr. McPherson hitched her back to the wagon and drove with us on to Bellevue. He stopped there to unload. He was hauling lumber. Mr. McPherson would talk about that every time he would see me after that. He was very grateful. He lived on East Fork when we lived on Boyd Mill Pike. He’d stop by the farm occasionally, on his way to Franklin, loaf and talk about bleeding that mule. He was always a good friend, and an important one when I ran for sheriff.