Life on Mill Creek, part 4

This is an Part 3 of an excerpt from “Bryant, Sullivan, Gossett, Family History” written by Robert Bryant. He has made the full document available online on the Heycuz Archives.


(Deany was born in 1940. He is unmarried and lives in Hendersonville, TN)

Black walnut stains on my hand
Fishing, catching crawdads, seining with Robert and Daddy for minnows for fishing
Blackberry picking for $1.00 per gallon
Walking to Little Rock School with Betty, Sue and Robert
The “blue hole” and the “long Hole”
The black creek
The swinging bridge
Watching TV with Hilda Temple
Staying with Mama and Papa Sullivan, playing in the leaves and eating grapes
Working for Papa Sullivan
Storm cellar, wood cutting and gardening
Pitching ball with Robert
Hog killing and making cracklings
Holding a chicken for Mama while she cut it’s head off
Our first TV
Sleds, bicycles, popguns, slingshots and bb guns
Hitting rocks off the hill toward Temple Barn
Exploring the woods and the creek
Little Rock Church
Basketball goal in the yard
Playing with Billy Marakis and Michael Sulivan
Norman Gordon and Herbert Hooper
Smoking grapevines and rabbit tobacco in a corncob pipe
Skipping rocks on the creek
Ice Boxes and smoke house
First running water in the house, putting dishwater on the grass
Green Persimmons
Creek getting up over the bridge
Old Bess and the dogs “peaky” and “John”
Walking down the road at night alone
Betty, Sue and Robert coming home after they had moved away
Mama walking to the highway to catch her ride and burning paper for heat
Popcorn, roasted popcorn, boiled corn on the cob and hominy
Sound of rain on the tin roof
Snow, warm morning stove, lots of bed cover
Catalogs, newspapers, checkers and puzzles
Push mowing and using the “lively lad”
Mama wanting to move to Wrigley
“Voice of Firestone” on the radio
Cutting wood with the two-man crosscut saw
Having relatives come to visit
Many, many more
I loved that place and still do. Many of my values, attitudes and goals were set there. I’m almost sobbing just reflecting back on the time that I spent on Mill Creek.


(Betty was born in 1931 and with Husband Jack Jones lives in Jonesboro, AR)

Do you remember life before electricity? When the spring at the foot of the hill was the only refrigerator we had and the milk and butter was put there to keep it cool? Do you remember sitting on the front porch on a warm summer evening listening to KatyDids, catching lightning bugs and playing hide and seek in the dusky darkness? Do you remember the battery radio that had to be used so sparingly to keep from running the battery down? We listened to the Grand Ole Opry, and Sue and I would sneak and listen to Ma Perkins and Stella Dallas when we could.

The first house that I can remember is the old two-story house that had been on that hill for many years before I was born. Mama and Papa Sullivan and their family had lived there before we did. It had originally contained a store and post office and the place was called “Bluff Springs”. I can remember sitting with Daddy on the stairs and learning my ABC’s from him. Do you remember the smells of the Black Creek, the smoke house, wet coats around a pot bellied stove in a small school room, mustard plasters, Vick Salve, first rain shower and country ham frying?

How’s your memory of Little Rock Church? It is the second oldest in the county. The oldest is Shady Grove. Most of the members were kinfolks in one way or another, the Gossetts, Sullivans, Thorntons, Bryants, Temples, Rices, McFarlins and others. Do you remember Jim Harrington’s mule that he rode to church? Uncle Jim leading singing? How about big meetings, dinner on the ground, feeding the preacher and the kids waiting until the grown-ups were finished baptizing in the creek. On such occasions we almost always sang “Oh Happy Day”. Do you remember the two large framed scriptures that hung on each side of the building and the two white wicker flower stands that stood on each side of the pulpit? Do you remember Governor Walls, Sam Butts, Thee Bass, Andy Webster, Virgie Webster, Chip Gossett and his T-Model? And do you remember Uncle Charlie Temple shooting a copperhead snake in our woodpile? How about the whistle from the Wrigley Plant, ration books, lye soap? Life on the creek wasn’t very exciting but it was a pretty good life, and I wouldn’t trade it for any other that I know of.


(Sue was born in 1932. She and husband Billy Eubanks reside in Mt Juliet, TN)

All the school children marching in a row to the Little Rock Church when there was a funeral during school hours. We would get to march around and see the corpse and out the door and back to school.
Helping Mama kill and dress a chicken for lunch before we went to church on Sunday morning.
During school recess swinging upside down by our legs on an old tree that had fallen. I didn’t do too much of this as I was ashamed because the others had store bought panties and mine were made of flour sacks.
Meeting the “Dinky” which ran from the Wrigley Plant to the “Johnson Mines” and taking Daddy his lunch. We met him at the foot of the hill going up to the Little Rock cemetery. He would blow the horn on the “Dinky” for us.
Being made to get out of bed and go to the storm cellar in the middle of the night.
Meeting the “peddler” who came around once a week, and trading him a chicken for the items we needed.
Watching all the children come down from Wrigley to go swimming in the creek and Mama not letting us go with them most of the time.
The times that Mama would get up and cook breakfast for us before going to work. When we didn’t have any “Rex” jelly, she would make syrup by boiling sugar and water together. It was surprisingly good.
Going to Grandpa Bryants to spend Saturday nights and riding to church on Sunday morning on the wagon. How did we ever get to church on time?
Going down to Little Rock school building to see my first movie.
Daddy’s getting those switches off the peach tree and striping our legs when we did something he had told us not to do.
In the late summer and early fall hunting for grapes, muscadine and hazelnuts in the woods.
When we returned from a “big meeting” night service, having to go to the spring and get a fresh bucket of cool water so Daddy could have a drink. Of course, I wasn’t interested in a drink of water, especially if I had to go down the hill and get it.
Seeing the summer storms and watching the rain in white sheets come up the valley from the Little Rock area.
Spending many evenings playing cards, “gin rummy” with Hilda Temple when she was sick in bed for so long.
The creek getting up when it rained and “walking the footlog” to get home. Also walking up through the Jimmy Field by the Rice house to catch the school bus.
Chopping cabbage to make kraut on a table under the tree in the back yard and making hominy in a big black wash kettle (which I still have).
Having to do our weekly wash down by the creek, to keep from carrying water up the hill when there was no rainwater.
Carrying jelly and biscuit and egg and biscuit in my lunch to school and wishing I had a bologna sandwich and peanut butter and crackers like some of the other kids.
Meeting the mailman to get the box of baby chicks Mama and Daddy had ordered. Sometimes there would be one or two dead in the box. Maybe we had ordered “dom-a-neckers” and would have a “banty rooster” mixed in with them.
Slipping around through the fields and up the red dirt gulley to catch a group of those “mean boys from Wrigley” in Daddy’s watermelon patch. He sure was proud of me for running them out.
Replanting corn and chopping weeds in the summer. Also Daddy paying us a penny a dozen for the potato bugs we picked off the plants.
Going down to Papa Sullivan’s and seeing Joe Sullivan sitting in the front yard holding a possum by the tail and negotiating with some negroes over the price of it.
Mama would draw a basket of flowers on the pillowcases and I would embroidery them. Sure wish I had kept just one pillow case or dresser scarf.
Having been invited to a big birthday party in Wrigley and not having a present. Mama wrapped 50c up in a box for us to take. Betty and I left before the presents were opened.
Mrs Stella Temple making my dress for graduation from high school, but I still wore some hand-me-down shoes (from Lois I think.) Maybe that explains my buying so many shoes now.
Betty Jean and I getting our first perm by riding to Dickson with Mama’s ride when she was working at a factory, and spending the day. Mama came to see about us on her lunch hour.
Having that old “mustard ointment” rubbed all over my chest when I had a cold, and having to hold my nose to take a dose of castor oil.
Trying to get someone to go to the toilet with us after dark on a cold winter night.
Always wanting a nurse’s kit and bicycle when I was growing up and never getting one. Going to Aunt Mable’s once or twice and getting to ride Catherine and Christine’s bike up and down Greenland Ave in Nashville. I thought they were rich.
Riding the fender or running board of the car up and down the road, and having a briar or limb catch on my clothes.
Going over to Miss Stella’s to borrow a tray of ice so we could have tea before we had electricity or an icebox.
Daddy picking turnip greens before church on Sunday and us washing and cooking them so we could have them for lunch.
Going with Mama to Cochran’s Store in Lyles to buy groceries when she got paid.
I’m thankful for growing up in Hickman County and though we didn’t have everything we needed or wanted, I know now that we were rich.


(Mable died in 1983 and with Husband John T. Cooper is buried in Nashville)

I was born on Mill Creek on February 26, 1903 and went to school and church at Little Rock. Brother Thompson baptized me on August 6, 1917. John T. and I were married on the day before Christmas, December 24, 1924. I now live at the Jackson Park Nursing Home on Gallatin Road in Nashville.

When I was a little girl on Mill Creek, there wasn’t much to do for entertainment. Sometimes we would persuade Papa to take down the bed that was in the living room and we would make a round ring on the floor. Then I’d invite all my little friends to come and we’d dance around on the ring and sing “Old Joe Clark” and “Goodbye Lucy



(Buster died in 1997 and is buried in Memory Gardens, Centerville, TN)

Mama (Addie Gossett Sullivan) and Papa (W.S. Sullivan) spent all their lives on Mill Creek. They never went beyond Nashville, but Papa used to go to Columbia a lot to trade horses and mules. I know they lived in three different houses on Mill Creek. All were near what is now Highway 100. One was with Grandpa (Wiley Sullivan) and Grandma (Malinda Ann Thornton Sullivan). That was just before we moved to where Jake Laybhen, husband of Beatrice Sullivan, now lives. I was about nine or ten years old at the time. By then Papa was working at the plant in Wrigley and the rest of us had to take care of the farm. We had mules, cattle, corn, wheat, sugar cane and a vegetable garden. On a white oak tree next to the creek we had a swing (a chain hung from a limb) and we would swing out from the bank. There were two good swimming holes and we’d dive off the bluff. There wasn’t a lot to do. We had a piano and Mamie Temple would play it and we’d have a big singing at the house on Friday nights.

On Sundays we went to church at Little Rock. It was the biggest church in this end of the county. There’d be a big meeting in the summer with dinner on the ground. We’d go in the wagon and be gone about all day. I don’t remember much about Grandpa and Grandma Sullivan except they were old. Grandma canned a lot. Cecil Hatley and Joe Sullivan lived with them. Grandma died first. Cecil left after he got married and Joe came to live with us after Grandpa died. (Cecil was the son of Grandpa Sullivan’s sister, Narcissas who married John Hatley and died when Cecil was very young). Grandpa Alex Gossett and Grandma Casa Jane Lovell Gossett lived where Bud Sullivan now lives. Grandpa had a blacksmith shop and wheat thresher. He let other people use the thresher for shares of their wheat. It took 12 mules to operate the thresher. There was a mill at Little Lot for grinding flour and meal; a corn mill in Lyles and on Jones Creek; and a flourmill on Lick Creek. We carried the corn and wheat by wagon and the mill operator kept some of the grain for pay. Grandpa Gossett broke his hip when he fell over a dog and he died two or three weeks later. That was about 1932. Grandma Gossett (Jane) went to live with Uncle Jim Gossett. I was in my twenties when Mama and Papa moved to the house where they were living when they died. The place was bought from Frank Allen, the husband of Mama Sullivan’s sister, Lena Gossett.


(Bud died in 1998 and is buried in Memory Gardens, Centerville, TN)

I am Emery (Bud) Graves Sullivan, born on Mill Creek the son of W.S. and Addie Gossett Sullivan. My grandparents were Wiley Sullivan and Malinda Thornton Sullivan; and Alex and Jane Lovell Gossett. I attended elementary school at Little Rock and then went to Hickman County High School in Centerville, playing on the football team. After leaving high school, I went to Old Hickory, TN and worked in the rayon plant and played softball with the company team. After two years I returned to the farm on Mill Creek and worked at the Wrigley Plant until 1941 when I enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force. I was sent to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia and from there to Missouri for boot training and on to Savannah, Georgia where I was put in the 3rd Bomb Group. We rode a troop train for five days to Oakland, California. In California we boarded a boat for twenty-nine days to Brisbane Australia. Then we went by train to Charters Towers in Queenland Australia and stayed there for nine month. After that we went to Townsville and boarded a ship to Port Marshy New Guinea. Later we took a plane over the Owenstaley Mountains (17,000 ft high) to Lae New Guinea and there boarded a ship to Hollanda Dutch New Guinea and from there returned to the States on the Queen Mary.

I was given a twenty-one day leave to come home and then was sent to Miami for twenty-one days and on to Panama City. Later I was sent to Fort Sam Houston, Texas where I received my discharge in September, 1945. I returned to the farm on Mill Creek and married Geneva McCoy. I bought Grandpa Gossett’s (Alex Gossett) farm and we built a new home. In 1952 our son, Michael Graves Sullivan, was born. He now has a little boy named Ryan Matthew born June 29, 1979. I farmed, played baseball at Wrigley, and led the singing at Little Rock Church of Christ for a number of years; and also led the singing at several gospel meeting in the county.

My wife Geneva passed away in 1965, and I married Daisy Kirk in 1966. We are living happily on the farm on Mill Creek and attend Clearview Church of Christ where I still do a little singing. I have cattle and do some farming while Daisy teaches school.


(Ruth was born in 1918. She’s a widow and lives in Vero Beach, FL)

My first memory of growing up on Mill Creek was being put on a wagon by my Uncle Jim Gossett to go to his house while my mother gave birth to my sister Lois. I started to school at age 6 because we lived quite a walk from the one room schoolhouse and had some creeks to cross. What an experience of a one room school teaching 8 grades. We had a big potbelly stove and one corner of the room was stacked with wood. When hot air from that stove got going, the odors came out. Some children wet their pants. The teacher wore the same girdle for a week without laundering it, and I think all of us had smelly feet. I had long hair and it was a chore to get enough water to wash it since we had to carry it from the spring. When it was washed, my sister Bea would lather it up with soap and set waves in it so when it dried I had a good head full of soap flakes that looked like dandruff. Once we had some kinfolks from Nashville for dinner. Mama wanted to make a good impression so she put the butter, which was made pretty by the butter press, with a flower on top in a glass butter dish. This was put in the spring to keep cool until dinnertime. When the company arrived and it was time to eat, Mama sent me to get the butter. I took along a cousin about my age and she insisted on carrying the butter. On the way up the steep hill to the house, she fell down and broke the butter dish. I almost left home, except I was hungry. My folks used to make me accompany Bea and her dates when they went for a drive and I hated that. One fella had a sports car with a rumble seat and they put me in it. I cried and wanted to go home so the fellow got out to hush me. When he did, I grabbed the door and he closed it on one of my fingers. It’s still crooked from that experience. Once I made some chocolate candy and put on one of Mama’s good plates. Then I set it on a fence post that was covered with snow. You can guess the results…I ran and hid in the church building until dark and Daddy came looking for me. My mother had a milk route covering the Wrigley area and I was the “deliverer” and had to keep a record of who owed and how much. One lady got behind on her bill and could not pay, so she put a used bar of Palmolive soap in the bottle of milk and said I brought it to her that way. Of course we never had a bar of “bought” soap in the house. Mama made all of our soap out of lye and ashes. Our greatest joy came from attending church meetings. In the summer they could last three to four weeks. Each night the house would be full and the singing was great. People seemed to be full of love for each other and would really help their neighbor when needed. We used to pick blackberries by the five-gallon buckets, going into the briar patches, getting scratches and chiggers, and when we came home we’d put on an old dress and go to the creek. No one ever heard of a bathing suit.

I sure was glad that I was born into a large family, as there was always someone to get up nights and to the outside toilet with you, especially if you had eaten a big piece of watermelon that day.


(Lois was born in 1925. She is a widow and lives in Centerville, TN)

Going swimming in the 9ft hole in the Black Creek section of Mill Creek, which was caused by pollution from the Wrigley Plant.
Going to the hay field to ride on the wagonload of hay to the barn. My job was to hold the brakes on the wagon when going down the hill. After dinner we would unload the hay up into the loft. I had to sit in the loft and trip the big needle that carried the hay up and let it fall. I still have the needle.
Riding the horse to the field every evening to round up the cows to be milked.
I’ll never forget this. When I learned to drive a car, I had to drive Daddy different places since he was a deputy. One day we were coming down Mill Creek Hill and I said “I’ve got to stop at Mrs Littons and leave a spool of thread.” He said “if you don’t slow down, you can drop it down the chimney.”


As already mentioned there was once a store and post office that were a part of the old homeplace on Bluff Springs. In the 1870’s Moses Thornton, wife Elizabeth Duncan Thornton and their family owned and lived on the place. That is where Moses died in 1874 and Elizabeth in 1879. The Thornton Cemetery is a very short distance to the east and adjacent to the property. In the early 1880’s Samuel Walter Bartlett and wife Susan Ann Allen Bartlett occupied the place. We know this because of newspaper accounts of one of their daughters, Annie, dying and being buried at the little Bartlett Cemetery on the property. Susan was the sister of Clara Allen Gossett, who was my great grandmother on Daddy’s side of the family.

I don’t know how long the Bartlett’s lived there, but apparently W. S. Sullivan purchased it after his marriage to Addie Gossett in 1900. According to Ruth Sullivan, one of their daughters, they lived there until she was about seven years old. Since Ruth was born in 1918, that would have been about 1925. At that point they bought a new home from Frank Allen, W. S.’s Brother-in-Law, and moved into it. The new home was located on down the Creek a mile or so. Bud, Bea and Ruth were still living at home when Papa Sulivan bought the new home, while Mable, Ann Lee, Buster and Nell had probably already left. Lois was born after they moved to the new house. Mama and Daddy acquired the property at Bluff Springs and moved into it about 1931. Just recently I had some correspondence with Mildred Temple Paris who was born in 1916 the daughter of Cliff and Stella and lived just across Mill Creek from the old homeplace. According to Mildred, her father rented the house and part of the land in 1926. Mr. And Mrs Tom Smithson moved into the house in 1926 or 1927 and worked for her father on the property and on the Temple place. Later the Hethcote Family moved into the house. Mildred didn’t know when they moved out but it had to be before 1931. Mr Hethcote was her grandfather; and he along with Tom Smithson cleared the timber from part of the Jones Places west of Highway 100, which her dad Cliff had bought.

Recent Posts

Family Historian Robert Bryant’s passing

Family Historian Robert Bryant’s passing

It is with a heavy heart that I report the passing of Robert Bryant who was an incredible contributor to our Family History here at Heycuz. Robert generously donated his time and resources to the histories of the Bryants, Gossetts, Harringtons, Sullivans, Allen,...

Virginia “Ginny” Greene has passed

Virginia “Ginny” Greene has passed

I recently received a card from Clark Greene that his beloved "Ginny" had passed away last January. Here is her obituary from the Sheppard Funeral Chapel. She apparently was a victim of the heartbreaking disease of Alzheimers. My cousins will all attest to the legacy...

It’s Been Two Years, Two Months

It’s Been Two Years, Two Months

Please view the video here. I had to remove it because it was slowing down the server.It's been two years and two months since Dad died. I've never been one to keep to do lists except when I'm stressed out and scatter brained. This video has been on my to do list for...