The Memoirs of Martha Frances Caudill Brown

          Part 1
Pages 1 through 6

Pg 1

      I was born June 3, 1878 in Wilkes County, North Carolina near the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. As I go back in my mind and start life all over again, I see myself a little white haired girl. My mother kept my hair babe (?) cropped is what she called it. It was considered too much trouble to take care of if left long. My sister older than I was going to put my hair up like older folk did and she got a lot of Burdock burs and put them on the back of my head and all of my hair that was long enough to reach them she put in the burs which caused my hair to be cut close or clipped.

Pg 2

      One of the earliest memories of my life was the death of my Grand mother (Jane Susan Wood Caudill ), my father’s mother, which was sudden. It made quite an impression on my mind. Her death occurred ( Mar 1882) in the early spring before my fourth birthday. There was no such thing as an undertaker or hearse. The body was kept in the house until time for the burial which was usually the 3 rd day unless conditions were so it could not be kept. The coffin was homemade and was considered very much uncharitable if any charge was made, so a coffin maker got no pay for his work. (pg 3) There was a low bed that was set in the large room with a tallow candle burning at the head of the bed. The neighbors would come in and set up all night, usually sing most of time. And when time came for the burial the corpse was carried by four men walking very slowly and singing softly while the family and relatives followed.

            Taken from the 1880 Federal Census of Wilkes County, North Carolina

Township: Walnut Grove
Date Started: 4 June 1880 Date Completed: 29 June 1880 Enumerator: Franklin Miles
Page: 53 Dwelling Number: 65 Family Number: 65
Name: William Caudill, Color: White, Sex: Male, Age: 64, Relation: Head, 
Status: Married, Occupation: Farm Labor, Remarks: None
Name: S Jane Caudill, Color: White, Sex: Female, Age: 55, Relation: Wife
Status: Married, Occupation: Housekeeping, Remarks: None
Name: John P Caudill, Color: White, Sex: Male, Age: 30, Relation: Son
Status: Married, Occupation: Farm Labor, Remarks: None
Name: Rhoda Caudill, Color: White, Sex: Female, Age: 26, Relation: Wife
Status: Married, Occupation: Cook, Remarks: None
Name: Susan Caudill, Color: White, Sex: Female, Age: 8, Relation: Daughter
Status: Blank, Occupation: Blank, Remarks: None
Name: Margaret Caudill, Color: White, Sex: Female, Age: 7, Relation: Daughter
Status: Not Listed, Occupation: Not Listed, Remarks: None
Name: Martha F Caudill, Color: White, Sex: Female, Age: 3, Relation: Daughter
Status: Not Listed, Occupation: Not Listed, Remarks: None

     The old farm house was built of large logs that had been hewed out with an axe and the cracks was daubed with clay mud. The one room in the big house we always called it was 20 by 24 ft, not a partition in it. (pg 4) There was four beds in that one room. A big fireplace at the east end of the house and by the fireplace one bed set for my grandfather. On the other side the stairway started near the door and turned and reach the top all most over the big fireplace. There was only one window in that large room and it was near the door at the foot of the stairs. Three beds set in the back of the room. My two older sisters (Susan Jane and Margaret Leah) and I slept in the middle bed. I usually slept in the middle and one night I insisted I must (pg 5) sleep on the front side of the bed. So some time after I was asleep I was awakened by something almost pulling me out of bed. My screams woke all there was in the house. I got back in the middle of the bed between my two sisters and was glad to stay there. I never knew who or what gave me the scare.

     Either Martha had an exceptional childhood memory, or she revisited her parent’s early homes when she was older. The detail which Martha describes her childhood homes and the words she uses-are also exceptional as is her understanding of distances, compass directions, measurements, construction techniques, etc.. Another possibility for all the detail when we consider that Martha died in 1939 but her husband not until 1956—is that Jonathon could have helped his stenographer daughter to add detail to a rough draft of the memoirs. Unfortunately, we don’t have the original shorthand pages, except one.

There was not a porch to the house. There was a small dirt yard on the south side of the house and the most beautiful flower garden I ever saw on the north side of the large log house. There was a long room built the full length of the house (pg 6) which was kitchen and dining room. There was two large stone chimneys at the east end of the house. The yard on the north side or the yard above the kitchen was laid of large flat stones, some of them as large as a common dining table. The yard had been dug out level leaving a bank about two feet in height and a smooth rock wall to keep the dirt from falling. On the west side at the end of the rock wall there was a large pear tree, and at the other side at the end of the rock wall was a large apple tree

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