The Memoirs of Martha Frances Caudill Brown
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----such winding sweeps that often my underskirt would be wet from the snow blowing and stick to them and melt. My knees would be chapped like you have seen children’s hands from the cold wind. Many times we would get back of the barn where we could not be seen from the house and run and play in the snow, the wind and snow blow to our waist.
Sometimes when it was very cold my mother would have me wear my father’s everyday coat to school. Of course I did not want to do so, but when mother said for me to wear it, I knew that (pg 22) there was no use for me to say anything. But would go on to school thinking how I looked going to school with that big coat an the sleeves turned up and it came almost to my feet. There was none of the other children going from our home. So when I had to wear the coat I would most always be late and would pull my coat off and put it away with the tiny basket I carried my lunch in.
I had only one book to study at school, the old Blue Back Spelling Book. When school was out, the children told “now put your book away until (pg 23) next year. We had to learn to spell such long words as incomprehensibility, individuality and incompatibility. Not so hard to spell but long words. Then after we had gone thru our book we was turned back to the first and go over it again. The teacher would give out the words, or pronounce them such as : ab; ac; ad, etc.. Our reading then was –go an go up an ox. We could learn for it was only beginners work to go over after we had completed the book. I tried in every way I could to get all the education I could. I had a deep desire to know more than just to able to —(the scanner clipped off the last line at the bottom of this page23)—
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(pg25)—the house being 24 feet long made it quite difficult to see from the light of the fireplace. I can remember the first glass lamp that was bought for the home. The only lamp before that time was a small brass lamp, no chimney. The wick was round and about the size of a lead pencil. If we wished to carry the lamp upstairs or anywhere that it was likely to be blown out, we would stick a pin thru the wick and carry it most anywhere we wished without it blowing out.
In the fall of the year when the crops was being hauled in from (pg 26) fields, my father would have me go and mind the gap. That was to stay by where the rail fence was laid down to keep the cattle from going thru so he would not have to put the fence up every time he would go thru. I would take a book of the New Testament and commit scripture to memory. I got a little book of the Psalms for a prize for getting scripture, so I could read chapter after chapter without looking at the bible or testament. One of my children have the book for a souvenir.
Mother and we children would pick and (pg 27) dry wild black berries and dry apples to sell at the store to get such as coffee, salt, sugar and soda, etc.. Also our Sunday clothes and leather to make our shoes. My father would have someone come in the fall of the year and stay and make one pair of shoes for each one of the family.
The long evening in the winter time was put in popping corn or cracking Black Walnuts, and roasting Sweet Potatoes in the fireplace. We never had a newspaper or magazines to read. The bible—(the scanner clipped off the last line at the bottom of this page27)—(pg 28)—we had to read.
My grandfather’s name (my father’s father) was William Caudill, and grandmother’s maiden name was Virginia Wood. My grandfather spoke of her as Jinnie. My father (John P. Caudill) was tall, fair complexion, medium brown hair, blue eyes. He wore chin whiskers which was a dark sandy. He was very firm in his discipline but was one of the most kind loving father I ever knew. Mothers fathers name was Andrew Blevins. Her mother’s maiden name was Susie Joines. Mother (Rhoda C. Blevins Caudill) was low of stature, more short and heavy built than my father. She also had fair complexion, blue eyes, real dark brown hair. My father was more of a mild temper than mother was. She was as much interested in her children as a mother could be in what she thought best for us. There was no limit to the sacrifice she would make that was not beyond her ability. But she expected and demanded strict obedience and as a usual thing we knew better than to disobey. If we did something happened. I remember very well how much I felt I must be subject to my parents. I remember one especially.
We was in the black berry field. As (pg 30) the fields that was not cultivated regular soon grew up in black berries, briars, persimmons, pines and sassafras. We wore sun bonnets. So one day, I think it was (Margaret) Leah, my sister older than Iwas picking berries off some briars that had grownup under a persimmon tree. Something struck her on her sun bonnet. Looking up she saw a black snake. It fell to the ground and started after us. It would raise up and look and then fall to the ground and run again. We would turn and run the other way and zig zag back and forth ___ we got (pg 31) to the house. Those black snakes was not poison or did not bite but would wrap around anything and squeeze the life out of their victim. They would stand up, some were 6 or 7 feet long and would stand as much as two feet high and fall and run straight toward the object. So dodging back and forth, we could get away from them, otherwise we never could have, as they would run so very much faster than we could.
We could only work in the field from early in the morning until about ten o’clock on account of the intense heat. Then we could go out about (pg 32) three o’clock in the afternoon. In the hot part of the summer we would go to the corn field about four o’clock in the morning and work until eight or nine o’clock then go to the house and have breakfast. Then go back and work until the heat got so intense it was not safe to stay in the field.
There was so many pests such as ticks , chigars (chiggers) etc.. The tick would get on cattle and get as large as a large goose berry. When they would get so large they would fall off. We would look for them on the cows and keep them picked off so they would not (pg 33) drop in the pail of milk. The seed ticks never got larger than small cabbage or mustard seed but was very annoying, they would get on anyone. Just hundreds of them and if they got their heads buried in the skin they would stay for days unless you bathed in something that would kill them. As they were to small even to get hold of to pull them off. I was going thru an old field one time and noticed on a white apron and the seed tick was on my apron in wads, just thousands of them. I took my apron off and got home as soon as I could and (pg 34) took dried tobacco leaves and burned them and let the smoke go all thru my clothes. In that way we could them before so many would bury their heads in the skin. Not much use to change your clothes off to get rid of them if you were working outside for the next time you went out where there was grass or weeds you would get them again. The chigars was just as bad, they were even smaller. Just a tiny red speck but would make a welt as large as the end of your finger and would have to picked off with a pin or point of a sharp knife, or bathe (pg 35) in strong salt or soda water.
We was afraid to step outside the door at night on account of poison snakes. It was a common thing to kill a rattlesnake or a copperhead snake around the house. My mother kept a lot of geese and we had to round them all up and put them in pens at night to keep the foxes from catching them. I remember one night we left the geese where we milked near the house and some time in the night the foxes came and mother got up and put her flock of geese in the garden. She said she heard foxes barking at (pg 36) five different places.
The winters was so cold that the turkeys and chickens would be found on their perch sometimes with their mouth frozen full of ice. And the trees would snap like a gun shot from freezing and bursting. Sometimes we could not get corn or wheat ground as the mills were all water power. The rivers would be frozeup for weeks and we would have to do without bread for part of our meals. Sometimes we would have baked sweet potatoes as a substitute.