Wayne County, NC
The following family information was written by Sarah Virginia (Jennie) Jones King, daughter of Matthew M. and Susan Marinda Potts Jones of Wayne County, NC. She was a granddaughter of Newman and Susan Marinda Lewis Potts of Brogden Township.
A special thanks to Kathleen King Weiss, daughter of the Jennie Jones King, for sharing the biography of this Jones family.
Once upon a time - which happened to be February 17, 1887, an event took place at the home of Matthew Mile and Susan Marinda Potts Jones, which, though of no particular importance to the world at large, nonetheless, was the beginning of a new life for me.
According to the report of my brother Redic, he was aroused from sweet dreams and restful slumber in the early hours of the morning and dispatched with haste to the cabin of old Nancy Blount, the colored mid- wife, whom he escorted to the bedside of my mother where this eventful incident was destined to precipitate my debut into a strange world of past affluence and present post-war poverty. Yes, I was born on the fringe of the "Reconstruction" days, and in the very path of Sherman's March to the Sea, some twenty five years before.
By the time the sun had risen behind the pine crested horizon, I had won the marathon, and had arrived at the port of entry about thirty minutes ahead of my twin sister who never could keep up with me. Although I won the race, she stole most of the spotlight by having a more difficult struggle to survive. We had both been over anxious for less cramped quarters and had made our appearance seven or eight weeks before the scheduled time of arrival; however with the help of the mid-wife and the constant care of grandma and mother we were pulled through the first hurdle and over the top. After which I asked no odds from anyone, sucking my sugar tit in contentment while everyone fussed over my puny twin sister, who, not being satisfied with stealing the first act, now contrived to get all the attention by breaking out in a rash, thereby she received double attention, and was carried around on soft downy pillows for a while.
I was one of the youngest of twelve sons and daughters. My parents belonged to that class in the South called the "poor but proud" or the "genteel poor". If I ever asked myself what we had to be proud of, I did it in silence, and true to the unwritten law and unspoken code of the family, proud I was.
I actually did not know we were poor, I had the things I desired most, and all I expected. One misses only the things he has become accustomed to. I was more inclined to pity others than to envy them, they might have better clothes and finer homes, but I was sure I had the most wonderful parents in the world, and that no amount of wealth could compensate for such a blessing.
Frankly, I was one of the richest little poor girls that ever dug her bare toes into the deep white sand along the cow trails around Dudley and Everettsville, in Wayne County, North Carolina.
It was sometime before I was able to fathom the meaning of the familiar phrase "before the mill burned down" or "after the mill burned down" which seemed to indicate a dividing line of some kind, and that is what it proved to be, the dividing line between prosperity and poverty. As this catastrophe happened before I was born, I was spared the dubious unhappiness of learning to do without the things I had become accustomed to. No doubt the older children missed some comforts and small luxuries, which us younger ones never knew. I must confess I was a woman and had left childhood home before I fully realized how few were the years between my birth and the end of the "War Between The States". I remember one day, a strange young Negro man came to our house, and when mother recognized him, she was very delighted to see him, she began questioning him about his mother, where she lived, what she was doing, etc.. After he had gone, we hurried to ask her who he was. We were told he was the son of one of grandfather Potts' slaves. She had not seen him since he was a little boy. He called her "Miss Susan", as he had when she was a young woman and he a little slave. I thought nothing of gathering pieces of rare old china in the fields, which might have dropped from the sassafras bushes or the cotton and corn stalks, for all the curiosity to excite in us children as we picked the broken bits up to play with. And the blackened ruins with their crumbling chimneys, standing amid old groves of ancient elms and oaks, where flowering shrubbery was still struggling for survival in the tangled mass of briers and half grown saplings, was just as common. Though old Everettsville was completely destroyed during the war, it is still a mystery to me how that broken china got scattered so far and wide.
The home of Matthew and Susan Potts Jones, though modest and humble, was always clean and well kept and from the manner of my parents, might have been a mansion, no apology or excuse was ever made for comforts or luxuries which were lacking. I believe for such a large family, our home was rather orderly and refined, this no doubt being due to the fact that pa's and ma's word was law, and though kindly spoken, was none the less binding. They would not tolerate loud talking, boisterous playing, or quarreling and fighting in the house. We learned at an early age to curb our temper and bridle our tongues, at least when our parents happened to be near. There is another lesson I am grateful to my parents for teaching, whether by precept or example - to love one another, and to respect each other's rights. "Do unto others as you would have them do also unto you" was a much quoted proverb in our home. And onethat has had a lasting effect on my life. Whenever a misunderstanding arises, though I may act or speak too hastily, I immediately begin to put myself in the other persons place, and to ask myself if I have acted as I would want him to act. These thoughts usually lead to an apology and making amends.
When I decided to write my story, I didn't know where to start, I had to face the fact that as far as I knew I had never done anything of great importance in my entire life. Indeed, I came from a surrounding that was anything but conducive to the encouragement and development of daring deeds or spectacular accomplishments. However, I do share a few things in common with the greatest and noblest of the earth. I was born to have lived and shall die; between birth and death is life, filled with vast and varied experiences, which differ according to time, place, and the conditions under which we labor, and the capabilities with which one is endowed. I am reminded of the mountain and the squirrel - "If I am not as large as you, you are not so small as I". It has pleased me to go back as far as my mind can carry me, and it has been a most pleasant experience for me.
I have journeyed back to the days of long ago, traversed again the dimly remembered trails leading up through the many phases of my existence, I've haunted the musty halls of time, followed the fleeting images of bygone days, listened to the echoes of the past, resounding like ghostly footsteps along the winding corridors of memory, finally penetrating the nebulous mists surrounding my infancy, and have come at last to the first thing I remember perhaps it is only the shadow of a memory - my first step.
Yes, I think I remember my first step. Sometimes while watching a baby learning to walk, a vague memory stirs within me, and I seem to recall letting go of some supporting object, probably my mother's hands, and plunging forward to grasp another object, to which I clung in safety and triumph. Again, I seem to remember standing at the top of a stairway, looking down fearful of attempting the dangerous descent alone. I cannot remember calling for help, but it seems that someone carried me down.
This must have happened at grandpa Potts' old home, where mother lived as a child, and where I was born, for the place we moved to from there had no stairway. After my first steps I must have rested on my laurels, for I can recall nothing else with any degree of clarity until the day we left the "Potts' place" when I was about three years of age and moved to the "Giles Place", a farm owned by Giles Kornegay.
The reason for this move was because there was no house on the land mother inherited from her father's estate. Her portion lay next to land on which the house stood, and she was allowed to live there for several years, now the owner either wanted to live there or rent it, and so, the move to the Kornegay farm. This farm lay west of Goldsboro, in what is known as the "Quaker Neck District", near the Steven's Mill.
I cannot remember leaving the old home, it was as if I found myself suddenly in a strange new world, bound for an unknown destination. I remember being seated among soft comfortable bedding on top of a load of household goods. I know now that is what it was. The wagon was creaking and bumping along a narrow road that wound through a green forest of pines. I could hear the tinkle of a bell which seemed to follow us; I learned later that old Suke, the family cow, had been tied behind the wagon. I was drowsy and must have fallen asleep as I cannot remember who was driving the wagon.
The arrival at the old gray farmhouse was much more clear in my mind. I was lifted down from my cozy nest and soon found myself seated on grandpa Jones' knee; I believe my twin sister was on the other. Remembering my early exuberance, I suspect I was held to keep me out of mischief while the furniture was being unloaded. That was the first and last time I have any recollection of being held on grandpa's lap. He was a rather stern appearing man and the fact that he had but one eye made him appear even more forbidding. There were conflicting stories as to how he lost his eye. Some said he lost it in a duel with swords - there were rumors that he was quite a sport in his younger days; others maintained he lost it in a rough and tumble fight with a ruffian who clawed it our with his fingers. This leads me to believe that no one ever actually pinned him down to the truth or details of the story. It doesn't matter except that the highly colored stories and his somber appearance caused me to look on him with more awe and morbid speculation than love. No doubt he was a fine man and I never heard of any irregularities in his later life. Both he and grandma were staunch Primitive Baptists. I cannot remember when I first saw grandma nor when I learned to love her; I imagine it was simultaneously. She was a jolly little Scotch-Irish woman with twinkling eyes and a cherrie word for everybody. She was the mother of thirteen children, nearly all of them seemed to inherit her happy attitude towards life. They all possessed good voices, as well as musical talent.
Although I was born at the Potts' Place near Dudley, Wayne County, I have always felt that my life began at the Giles Place, for 'twas there I first remember "pa and ma, my brothers and sisters"; there I seemed to emerge from my cocoon and beheld the beautiful world around me. I found it a wonderful and interesting world. The most wonderful and interesting thing about it was my family as they began to emerge from some obscure place and take on flesh and blood as they made their appearance one by one. Nine brothers and sisters - Julius and Jesse had not been born and little Mathew died before my birth. What my past relationship with my family had been, I can only judge by my regard for them as they entered my life with first memories.
I regard my father as a great and wonderful man and imagined him to be a person of importance in the world - had he not been too hard with perhaps a little assistance from General Robert E. Lee (whom he resembled) and General Joseph E. Johnston, killed all the dragons and bad boogy men so that little girls had nothing to be afraid of. I thought he was as handsome as General Lee whose picture hung the wall, beside that of General "Joe" Johnston.
Mother soon assumed the position of the hub of the family life, around which we all revolved. She fed us when we were hungry, comforted us when we were hurt, and nursed us when sick. I cannot remember clearly having castor oil and epsom salts forced between my clinched teeth, the very thought of either makes me shudder, even now.
I recall standing in the foot-tub in the kitchen while mother bathed me, I suppose the thing that stamped this on my memory was the entrance of my brother, Redic, and his teasing remark about me to mother, like Eve, I beheld that I was naked, and longed for a fig leaf.
I knew without the shadow of a doubt that I had the best and loveliest mother in the world, yet I am afraid I took advantage of her love, and good nature, as so many children do. I have forgotten how old a certain despicable little girl was, when after begging to be allowed to go visiting with her lovely mother, she decided on her way home, it would be fun to have a piggy-back ride, so she started lagging behind complaining about how tired she was and just couldn't take another step. After trying unsuccessfully to convince the little imposter she was not that tired, mother squatted down in the road and I climbed on her neck to have my piggy-back ride. I remember, I felt too guilty to get much fun out of the ride, and soon slid to the ground and trotted behind mother, relieved to be an honest child again.
Perhaps, this is the place to introduce the rest of the family I became involved with at the Giles Place. I will begin with my twin sister Julia, who was about the same age as me. She was a little taller and prettier too. We were always together; where one went, the other wanted to go, what one had the other had to have, what one did, the other tried to do. If she was taller and prettier, I had my advantages, I was healthy, could run faster, jump higher and skin-the-cat quicker than she could, although I will have to admit, she was a good sport and tried to keep up with me. It is a wonder she lived through it! The only thing I disliked about her was that she cried so easily and I couldn't, this made me always appear to be the blame in all our squabbles, when, sometimes, I wasn't.
William P. was the eldest of my brothers and sisters, therefore he was esteemed most by his little sisters, to whom he was always kind and pleasant. He was studious and intelligent and a general favorite with his family and friends and no doubt deserving of the admiration they had for him. He was very bashful and never went steady with the girls for fear they would expect him to propose to them. He had one love but lost her because he didn't know how to ask her to marry him. Years later he married a widow with children - he was then about forty. We always suspected that she did the proposing.
Redic Hannon, the second of the Jones' children, was dashing and handsome and didn't appear to suffer much with bashfulness, as Willie did. He had a way with the ladies and was popular with the younger set, but was not as understanding with his brothers and sisters as Willie was, however, he bought me and Julia the most beautiful dolls we ever owned. He could ride standing up on his horse's back, which made me very proud of him.
Saphronia Ann was the first girl in the family and was sandwiched in between four boys; she was also the first granddaughter in both father's and mother's families, so it was but natural that she was the idolized darling of her grandparents and her adoring young uncles and aunts. The trial of being one girl among four brothers probably off-set much of the over indulgence of the others. She was pretty and petite and had many admirers as she grew into womanhood. This period of her life, I witnessed with both agony and ecstasy, as my heart nearly broke whenever she cast off one of my favorites among her suitors, such as Dave Porter whose baritone voice singing impassioned love songs, and the musk cologne that made pa and the boys snorted in disgust, won me completely.
I thought Fronia, as she was nick-named, was about as old as ma and I feared her even more, for she was intolerant of my tomboyish ways, my scuffed shoes, torn dresses and snagged stockings and my inability to stand still while she fitted my dresses on me. She threatened to let mine hang in bags - as they never seemed to fit as nicely as Julia's, I suspected it was Fronia's revenge.
John Livingston and Barney Bryant were the other part of the sandwich between which poor little Fronia was pressed. Livey followed Fronia, he was quiet and placid in disposition, but like father, few people tried to push him around. He was probably the most talented one of the children; playing both banjo and harmonica. He had a dry humor that was entertaining and amusing. I never saw him greatly disturbed about anybody or anything, so he was a nice kind of brother to have.
Barney, on the other hand, was impulsive, quick tempered, talkative and witty. He was very good natured except before breakfast when he was hungry, he would then fight a buzz-saw. If you understood this, you could get along with him very well. He was generous and self sacrificing but had the misfortune to be less strong than the other boys, having a bronchial condition - strange to say he was the most stable and dependable of them all. My first remembrance of Barney and Livey was of them wrapping themselves in white sheets and pretending to be ghosts, to frighten us girls; it was a frightful lot of fun!
Susan Marinda, or Sudie as we called her, was the second daughter and occupied a position similar to Fronia's when she was a child being one wee girl among three brothers. I would think having a twin brother Matthew and then Willie and Redic old enough to be protective, with Fronia at the age to be attentive, she would not have quite the same difficulties that little Fronia had. The event of a baby sister when she was two years old no doubt, kept her from being too pampered which she probably would have been, for they say, she was a beautiful little thing. When she was a young lady her honey-colored hair hung below her knees, by bending back she could make it touch the floor. One summer, she went to Wilmington on an excursion, wearing her hair in a long braid down her back. People followed her asking if it was her own hair. A man approached Willie who was with her, and offered to put her in his show at a good salary - he was selling a famous brand of hair tonic, of course the offer was declined.
Her twin brother Matthew was fatally burned when he was about two or three years of age. Ma had left him in the house with Fronia who was only nine or ten, to watch him and the other children while she went to the barn to milk the cow. Hearing the children screaming, she knew something was wrong and ran towards the house. Before she reached them, there was little Matthew, his clothing in flames running towards her. Fronia and the other children were following him trying to blow out the flames. As she passed the well, ma grabbed a bucket of water that happened to be sitting there and threw it on him putting out the fire. He had been burned critically and passed away a day or two later. This was, I believe the first death among the grand-children of both the immediate families and was taken very hard by all the family. Ma kept his little burnt clothing as long as she lived and many is the time I looked at them with a sad heart and tear-dimmed eyes. It has been said that Aunt Betsy dreamed she saw a house burning and knew some of the family was in it. Her dream depressed her so much, she hired a man to drive her over from Johnston County, a distance of ten miles and got there in time to help nurse little Matthew and comfort the others.
Harriet (Hattie) whose arrival kept Sudie from being a pampered darling, came at rather an unfortunate time for mother as it kept her in bed when her father died with pneumonia. She could not go to his bed-side nor to his funeral. Her mother had died four months before of the same disease. Though she could not go to her father's bed, I would think the event of the new baby should have been instrumental in helping to divert her mind from her double loss. Hattie, like Barney, was jolly, witty and talkative, liked to be in the center of whatever was going on and usually managed to be. She had a real gift of story-telling that seemed wasted; she should have been an actress. We often laughed at her glorified versions of common-place happenings.
At the Giles Place, life seemed to be one adventure after another. I think the most frightening one was the hurricane that blew the barn roof off. I still remember how the old house trembled and rocked on its foundations until even mother became worried and wrapped us and took us through the awful storm over the hill and told us to lie flat on the ground between the rows of corn. When the worst of the storm was over we went on to Mr. Hollowell's, whose house was larger and more substantially built. It was a terrible experience but as I look back on it, I think the excitement stole away most of the fear and I had an abiding faith in mother's ability to keep me safe from harm. I was shamelessly thrilled the next morning when we found the barn roof lying flat upon the ground, and knew we had an unusual play house.
I've no doubt that Julia shared this exultation with me. We romped bare-foot over it for weeks, regardless of nails and splinters and I don't believe we so much as stumped a toe. Though I do faintly recall something about dirty and chapped feet.
There is another unpleasant experience attached to this place, though it happened so quickly I cannot remember much about my feelings, unhappy or otherwise. A wagon loaded with cotton ran over me and miraculously didn't even hurt me, however it taught me never to climb on a wagon wheel when it was about to be in motion.
Then there was the time I stepped on my pet chick while I was in the process of testing the relative power of a tantrum and killed the little thing; this nearly broke my heart but there was no great amount of sympathy wasted on me, repentant though I was. I hope this incident taught me not to throw any more tantrums. I cannot recall another one.
Father's two brothers, Jethro and William Green, were Baptist preachers and sometimes held revival meetings in our neighborhood. We younger children were never taken to these revivals but we were sometimes entertained and greatly amused by brother Willie's skillful ability to imitate uncle Jethro, who it seems was strong on the "fire and brimstone" doctrine and a firm believer in "Hell and damnation". I am not casting any reflections on uncle Jethro's belief or his ability as a preacher because I never had the pleasure of hearing him. I did enjoy their visits when they were holding these revivals as they usually brought cousins David, Felix, and Sammy to lead the singing and they held their song practice at our house. In my childish judgement, they were magnificent. I learned later they were considered so by more experienced judges than me. Sometimes aunt Sally, Hettie and Nettle came with them. I remember them more for their pretty dresses than for anything they did.
Aunt Catherine lived across the Neuse River from us and it was a pleasant occasion for everyone when she brought Louetta and Lillian over for a visit. They were Sudie's and Hattie's age but Julia and I enjoyed tagging along behind them admiring them and wishing we were big girls and could talk and do the things they did. When time came for them to go home, someone would row them across the river, which was closer than driving around by the bridge.
Another frequent visitor in our home at the Giles Place was Fronia's friend, Matilda Worley, the little girl saw her parents murdered by old Noah Cherry, a Negro. She was a handsome and charming young lady at this time - the story of her bravery as a child made her very interesting to me. I have a paper Fronia gave me with the account of this tragic story, which I heard talked about when I was a child.
It seems to me there was always a group of young people at our house on Sunday afternoons. Fronia and Redic were both popular with young people in that community and would often combine their groups to meet at different places for the afternoon, probably getting together at church and going on from there. The Providence Baptist Church was not far from us. I believe our family were members and regular attendants there.
I loved the cherry tree that stood by the west fence overlooking the land that lay between our house and Mr. Hollowell's; it was a thing of beauty in the springtime when it was in bloom and made a real nice place to retire when you wished to be alone to quietly ponder on the great mysteries of life. By climbing on the fence you could reach and seat yourself on one of the higher limbs and from this point of observation, look into Mr. Hollowell's pasture and barn lot. From this secluded place one day, I was the horrified spectator at a tragic drama of bovine life. Mr. Hollowell's bull came across a dead calf and it seemed to be more than the poor thing could bear. He rolled his head on the ground, bellowing fearfully, digging the dirt up with his hooves and throwing it over his back. It was a dreadful sight and impressed me with the awfulness of death; even dumb beast felt it's mysterious power. The other cattle drew near and stood looking on either in solemn awe or placid indifference.
Another memorable day at the Giles Place was a day Julius was born. I had become aware that mother was very sick and was growing steadily worse; father and others, perhaps the midwife or a neighbor, were in the room with the door closed. When ma's moans became screams, I was sure she was being tortured, perhaps even murdered. That father was involved was a thought too horrible to bear. With Julia to accompany me, I screamed at the full capacity of my lungs, both of us pounding on the door with both hands, finally we were gently removed from the scene, by whom I cannot recall.
That is all I can remember about July the third, eighteen ninety, after that, there was a tiny baby brother in the house, who soon developed into a handsome little boy. Fronia who was a fine seamstress, took special pride in making him nice clothes, which I am sure mother appreciated. By this time sister Fronia was the chief dress-maker in the family. When Julius was three years old, we moved back to the land of our inheritance, the land mother received from her father's estate.
A house having been built on mother's land, we were moving back again to Dudley. Strange as it may seem, I can remember nothing about leaving the Kornegay farm, nor the arrival at our new home but distinctly remember waking up the first morning and listening to the crowing of the old rooster and it seemed to me there was a different something to the sound that I had ever heard before, it was a part of the strange new life I was entering. It gave me the feeling that I was a lost spirit in Paradise. With the rising of the sun and after a hearty breakfast, I was back to normal and ready to start exploring the immediate surroundings. The Wilmington and Weldon R.R. ran within a mile and a half of our house, every evening a train called "The Shoe Fly" (I've no idea why it was called that or if it was a passenger or freight train) passed and it's whistle gave me the same weird thrill that the crowing of the rooster did, but that was quite natural, for there was a story which said, there was a young engineer killed in a wreck on this train, ever after the whistle said "Wil-lie Lee, Wil-lie Lee, O Willie, O Willie," and I could say I heard it.
A narrow strip of pine woods hid the trains from view of the house; our farm or most of it, lay between the woods and the house, so it made a nice walk on a Sunday afternoon, to see the trains pass. This was looked forward to with eager anticipation, though I always had to hold onto someone, as I had the sensation of being drawn toward the train. I was actually afraid of being sucked under it, though I believe this is the first time I have confessed as much.
What a wonderful sight that train was to me, though the smoke stack was almost as large as the engine. I suppose those trains gave me my first realization of a world beyond the boundaries of grand-father Potts' old plantation - peopled by my uncles, aunts, cousins and a few friends.
I found our new home to be even more interesting than the "Giles Place" had been, probably because the house stood at the edge of a forest - every farm had its portion of wooded land, which was almost as essential as the farm land, as it furnished fuel for the "cook stove" and the fire places. We children thought it a lot of fun to build play houses on the green moss under the oak trees. Though it was some time before we would venture too far into the forest, it was a gay and happy place in the day time, when the birds were singing in the trees, and the butterflies flitting gaily everywhere, but at night it had many voices and mysterious sounds. As soon as it was dusk the crickets and frogs started up their chorus, with the whip-poor-will sometimes joining in with a lonesome call, then the bull bats came out in numbers flitting and swooping almost to the ground. Sometimes it seemed they were aiming straight at me, but would swerve quickly and up again they would go, the old Carolina moon smiling down benignly on the scene. The crunching acorn and hickory nuts by the hogs running loose in the woods sometimes took on such proportions in my imagination that I could almost believe wild ferocious beasts were devouring human bones in the darkness. But the worst time of all was when Julia and I had lingered a little too long at aunt Cynthia's playing with Talithia and Lora, and dusk found us hurrying down the "Avenue" toward home, we would sing to keep from hearing the snapping of twigs, the slithering rattling of the leaves, and a throaty sound of some feathered denizen (an inhabitant) of the wood.
One evening we were playing in the edge of the woods only a few yards from our back yard, the moon was shinning brightly; suddenly a man came out of the woods and just stood there. I thought the figure looked familiar, but Sudie and Battle screamed and ran to the house, Julia, Julius and I following as fast we could, frightened near to death. I actually thought my heart would burst with pain. When we reached the house, Hattie and Sudie turned, laughing, they knew it was Willie. I was so pale mother was alarmed. A large family is a lot of fun, if you can take it, but you certainly have to learn the hard way.
At the back of the house was a foot path leading to the "Avenue", a narrow road cut through the scrub-oak woods, by my father, as the old road had become so sandy it was almost impassable. The "Avenue" extended from the entrance to the grounds of grandfather Potts' old home, almost to aunt Cynthia's land, which lay a mile or two south of mother's, with uncle Newman's between. Uncle Newman Potts and uncle John Fields were always feuding, and finally each fenced his own land, which left a lane between the two farms, this became known as the "Devil Lane". If I ever heard what started the feud I have forgotten. I believe they buried the hatchet before uncle John sold his land and came to Utah, a few years after mother did.
Looking north from our back porch we could see the "Potts" family burying ground, just across our garden lot. On bright moon light nights, the gleaming white stones seemed to sway ever so slightly like eerie ghosts, and if I was ever outside alone at night, I was careful not to look in that direction.
Of course Livey and Barney found fresh stimulus for their devilry, in this close proximity to the resting place of their ancestors, and availed themselves of every opportunity to add more and better material to ghost stories and pranks. I suppose mother was helpless in preventing them from carrying on their playful operations. I still blame them for some morbid ideas and silly superstitions I secretly harbored for more years than I like to recall. I was a grown woman before I overcame my fear of going into a dark room. I imagine Julia felt the same way, for some of my worse moments came from having to go to bed with her, because she was afraid to go to bed alone. Years later, she had chronic appendicitis. As it got worse, she had nightmares and imagined she saw apparitions in white, floating around the room, sometimes stopping to give her a friendly smile. Any protection she had from me was purely imaginary, I made sure I was under the covers and out of sight, and no one will ever know how near I came to suffocating. I call this the acme of refined cruelty to a child. I earned a medal of honor suffering in silence. I recall once when I was in bed with my head under the covers, or so I thought - a wisp of hair was hanging out, and when I felt something pull it, I came out of hiding with a scream that woke the whole house. When the lamp was lit, my little pet kitten was found purring softly and blinking in surprise.
We had not lived in our new home but a few months when, one day with no preliminaries, we were taken to grandma Jones' to spend the day, that is the first I recall visiting at the home of grandpa Jones, which was within a few miles of where we lived. I cannot remember what was said before we left home, but on the way I whispered to Julia and told her I thought there would be a new baby at our house when we returned. She looked at me in wide eyed wonder. I was somewhat precocious of a few non- essentials, she listened to my deductions in silence. Mother had been in very poor health lately, and disposed to discuss her condition only with Fronia, and that rather furtively. Besides, one day I had noticed little belly bands like aunt Cynthia put on her babies, and three cornered cloths hanging on the clothes line.
During the day aunt Martha, who was a spinster, threw out a few hints which confirmed my suspicions, so, none of us were surprised when father came to take us and announced the arrival of a new baby brother. We could hardly wait to get started. Aunt Martha said they captured the baby running around in the woods, we asked her how he could be running around, for tiny babies could not walk; with only a slight hesitation she came forth with the astounding disclosure that babies are always lambed during the capture. We accepted her story in silence, scorning to reply to such a silly fabrication, though we knew little about the birds and the bees, we recognized a fairy story when we heard one, and hers was fantastically ridiculous.
Little Jesse was the joy of our lives, he was a beautiful dimpled darling and his adoring family thought he was exceptionally bright. Julius was now a handsome boy of three, a little too near my own age to be fully appreciated, the older members of the family saw that he was given the necessary attention.
I believe little Jesse was really advanced for his age, he could walk when Julia and I had started school. After school was out, when we came in sight of the house, we would have a foot race to see who could get to him first. He enjoyed the game and ran to meet us crowing with delight. This always made it more fun for the victor.
I shall never forget my first day at school. I trudged behind Sudie and Hattie, Julia at my side, towards the old Casey school house where a new world was awaiting me. Drawing nearer and nearer with every step I took, and with my heart growing fainter and fainter as I came closer to the school house, I was thankful that my sisters Sudie and Hattie were experienced and unafraid. I feel sorry for little girls who never have had older sisters, as I have always had older sisters to lead the way.
I hardly know what I expected, but realized it was a very important step and meant to prepare us for any eventuality. I had learned my reader backward, forwards - all but upside down and sideways. I learned to count to a hundred the same way but I was still doubtful about my ability to comply with all the requirements. Needless to say, I was surprised that I survived the first day without any unpleasant incidents. My fears were groundless, for I soon learned I need have no fear of not being able to cope with whatever difficulties the first grade primer might hold.
Miss Minnie Raiford was my first teacher. It was not long before I took my place at the head of the class, a position I never found difficult to maintain; especially in the spelling class, where I modestly confess, I was a whiz. When one missed a word the next student in line, if he spelled the word correctly, would step up ahead of the one that missed. When one reached the head of the line, he stayed there until he missed a word and then he went back to the end of the line. I must have missed a few words, as I seemed to have to step up along with the others. I tried loyally to keep Julia with me when we happened to be standing near each other, we slyly tried to prompt one another by whispering under our breath, behind the hand; this was usually ignored - I cannot believe it went unnoticed. However, twins were sort of privileged beings, and granted favors not enjoyed by those of lesser distinction. I must say, I was not aware of this until much later.
There was a day when being a twin got me no favors; my teacher Miss Ida Moore was standing at the blackboard with her back to the class, when a general buzz of whispering broke out in the room, she turned demanding to know who was whispering - mine was the only guilty looking face in the room. She looked at me reprovingly and asked me if I had been whispering. I had to confess that I had been. Much to my humiliation and indignation, I was told to stand in the corner, however, she soon relented and told me to take my seat.
That was the only time I ever knew Miss Moore to be unfair to anyone, for I could not understand how she could think it possible for one shy little girl to make such a noise of turning, shuffling and buzzing as went on behind her back that day. Perhaps, she did realize it after her hasty action, but could not admit her error without some loss to her dignity as a teacher.
Another day we had a visitor at school. This lady was a student of phrenology, I suppose Miss Moore thought it would be interesting to see her demonstrate her knowledge, and naturally the heads of twins would make a study in comparison. I have forgotten whether she felt the heads of any of the students besides Julia's and mine, or what she said about Julia's head; but when she was through feeling around the surface of my cranium, she announced that I had a big bump of self esteem. Miss Moore quickly came to my defense, as if she thought it was bad. She told the lady I was one of her most modest and unselfish pupils, and acted as if she thought the lady must have made a mistake. However that may be, I still have that bump on my head, and if it is self-esteem, I am only sorry that it did not give me the self-confidence to overcome my inferiority complex, instead of forever lurking behind a foolish facade of extreme modesty.
It seemed our little brother Jesse was not destined to be with us long, for when he was about three years of age, it was discovered that something was wrong with his eye. The pupil had become dilated and began to change color, finally resembling an opal. He was taken to a specialist, who diagnosed it as a glioma, and told us his eye would have to be removed as quickly as possible before it reached the brain. My mother took him to Goldsboro, where Dr. Hyatt of Raleigh performed the operation. They stayed at aunt Lizzie Starling's, and remained there for a week or two so that he could be under the observation of the doctor. Great was the rejoicing in our home the day they returned.
We had hardly became used to seeing our baby brother with only one eye, when complications set in and he had to be taken back to the doctor. Though his condition was discretely kept from us children, we sensed the anxiety of the older members of the family, and waited anxiously for their return from town. We were told before-hand our little brother could live only a short time, and that we were to act natural and happy when we saw him. I imagine this was probably to keep mother from breaking under her grief. We did not need to be told to act happy for we were really overjoyed to see him. Little Jesse was just as happy, he looked so well, we could hardly believe he would soon be taken from us. He had spent three happy years with us.
In a few weeks he had become a very sick baby; his suffering was terrible at the last. It was heart-breaking for those who had to witness it. Before he died, he called each of the family to his bed separately, between paroxysms of pain and kissed each of us, not missing anyone or asking for anybody twice. After that, he went into a coma and didn't know anyone. I have never forgotten how his little dimpled hands looked folded on his breast, as he lay in death. I stole away myself and prayed to God to restore him to life. When my prayer was not answered, I realized I had asked the impossible of God. My grief was deep, and I missed him for a long time, but in time he was just a precious memory.
I haven't said much about Julius up to this point, naturally with the advent of baby Jesse, he had to take second place, but I cannot remember him seeming very disgruntled over this. I suppose they probably had a lot of fun together when the rest of us were at school, in the cotton field or at our play house, for we would not tolerate any masculine intrusion on the sacred reserve of our play houses; except on occasions when there was something we wanted in exchange for such a privilege of some secret we wished to worm out of the said intruder.
Julius liked playing in the fields where the men were at work, or following Newman and David Potts, when they were supposed to be working in their fields which adjoined our land. Then, there were times he was Fronia' escort when she went to Dudley to get the mail, or he was until Julia and I were old enough to take over this rather enjoyable chore. Sometimes we would meet strange Negroes on the road, and if they happened to be black we were a little frightened - remembering the story of old Noah Cherry. But they invariably gave a broad smile and a "howdy", they sometimes stopped and asked us if we were Mr. Mathew Jones' daughters, saying they thought we must be because we favored him. Sometimes we would meet a strange cow, and we were always greatly relieved when we had safely passed the poor harmless animal. If ever a yearling or sizeable male animal came along, we gave them a wide berth. At the time, livestock was allowed to graze in the woods.
No doubt, Julius would have liked to go along with us, but I cannot recall that he ever did. My dearest memories of him about this time, is the trouble mother had making him go to school. sometimes, he would disappear from school, and then join us somewhere on our way home from school. He had a habit of running away from home whenever a whipping was in the offing. One day, there was quite an exciting time when he ran away and hid in the woods, when it was nearly sunset, mother began to worry for fear he would not be able to find his way home. Barney, flanked by us girls, began to beat the brush for our little brother. We knew he had his dog "Bull" with him and Barney called the dog every now and then, after a while we heard the dog barking and followed the sound until we came to the hiding place of his desperate little master. If I remember correctly, Julius got a sound whipping, even though we were all happy to find him; and perhaps a little was added just to pay for the bad time he had given everyone.
Mother was always as good as her word, when she promised one a whipping, she never forgot to give it to him; so, when I had a whipping coming, I preferred to get the inevitable over as soon as possible. In those days parents believed if you spared the rod, you spoiled the child, and I can testify that mother had the courage of her convictions. I thought at the time that she could have been less severe about some unimportant offenses, such as forgetting what she told me to do, or not to do.
However, I remember one whipping she gave me that I thought was undeserved, and I am inclined to think so still, because it was given when a good talking to would have been much more effective, besides it was given in anger; Julia and I got into a fight, I've forgotten what it was about, or who started it, but I scratched her. I had discovered something about her that no one else knew she was stronger than me and to keep her from getting me down and beating me up, with my last ounce of strength, I would scratch, pinch or kick her, which never failed to stop her short and she'd start crying. I cannot recall being asked for an explanation, just "did you do it?". I never lied to escape my punishment, I sensed that self-preservation was law of nature, and regretted that this did not apply to me.
Well, that day mother thought I should apologize to Julia, and say that I was sorry. When I refused, she said if I didn't, she would have to whip me. I still refused, I knew why I did it, and felt justified. I had been taught that it was a sin to tell a lie. She got a fair sized switch from a tree, and called me to her. I stood before her with every nerve tensed, I did not flinch when he applied the switch, after two of three applications, she asked me again if I was sorry. I was more defiant and less sorry than ever and shook my head. Mother was really angry by this time, and just about wore the whip out on me, but not a sound came from my lips or a tear to my eyes. I didn't even flinch. It was more than she could bear, she threw the whip, or switch down and covered her face with her hands and wept. Without glancing right or left she walked from the room, with a face as stolid as that of a little red Indian. I am sure no one caught me crying though I was very sorry I had made mother cry.
I believe my dear mother always tried to be fair to all of her children, and did very well considering the number she had and the difference in their dispositions and temperaments, and the fact that most of them were endowed with a generous share of hot Irish in their blood.
In 1898, there was some excitement in the family, when it became known that Newman Jones, the only child of uncle Ben and aunt Mary, had enlisted in the Army, to fight in the Spanish American War. He was just twenty one, but they tried to get him released because they needed him at home to help them run the farm. They were unsuccessful in their efforts, however, and he was sent to Jacksonville, Florida for his training.
He was double cousin, as uncle Ben was father's brother, and aunt Mary, mother's sister. He visited in our home frequently, he was almost like a brother, so we felt bad to see him go to war. There were some in the family who thought the experience might be good for him, as it was about the first time in his young life that he had taken the initiative in doing anything on his own.
I imagine sister Fronia was a great help and comfort to both aunt Mary and uncle Ben; she stayed with them at this time, more than she did at home. I can understand now why she was their favorite. The same might be said of Livey.
"Newey", as we all called him, had been gone only a few weeks, or months, when word was received, saying that he was ill with yellow fever. This news was quickly followed by the message conveying the sad news of his death.
I shall never forget the day his body arrived. We lived, as I have said, within a few hundred yards of the Potts' burying ground, so the family had gathered at our house to wait for the arrival of the funeral cortege. When it arrived, it was accompanied by two soldiers in uniform, who stood guard over the flag draped casket; this proved to be fortunate, for there were one or two in the family who thought the casket should be opened, as aunt Mary, in her deep grief, had expressed her desire to see her boy. When it looked like the Army would lose the battle, and was ready to give in to the request, the soldiers told the women and children to leave the cemetery so that they would not be exposed to the dreaded plague yellow fever. This seemed to be more effective than the orders not to open the casket had been, so it was not opened. Newman Potts Jones was laid to rest to become a family hero of the Spanish American War.
The government checks for the next three and a half decades were but a small compensation for the love of a son, and his strong arm to lean upon in their last days.
They thought brother Livey and Newey looked so much alike that they told Livey, if he would live with them, they would leave everything they owned to him, at their death. He worked for them for a year or two, but did not agree to live with them for the rest of his life. This was another disappointment to them but again, Fronia was their main comfort. However, they were frequent visitors at our home and were always received with open arms and hearts by all the family.
The next thing of importance to happen in the family was the marriage of brother Redic, to a distant cousin, Frances Lewis. This event took place on January 20, 1898, at candlelight ceremonies, in the home of her father, Major Lewis. We were very proud of our new sister-in-law. She was nice and kind to us children. Redic rented a farm from Uncle William Potts, where they began housekeeping.
Uncle William raised strawberries on his farm for the market. Every spring Sudie, Hattie, Julia and I would stay at Redic's and pick strawberries for uncle William. I will never forget the spring when a terrible hail storm destroyed the strawberry crop and cut short our visit. It was the worst hail storm I can remember. As I recall, that was the last time we went there to pick strawberries.
The following year, we left our beloved North Carolina and moved out "West" to Salt Lake City, Utah.
On a sweltering day in the summer of 1899, the family of Mathew Jones had just finished their mid-day meal, and those who were in the habit of taking an after-dinner nap were about to retire to their pallets, or pillows on the floor, when two men in long black prince albert coats were seen approaching the house, along the path leading from the "Avenue". As I have explained before, this was a long narrow road running straight through the scrub oak woods which bordered the eastern edge of mother's farm.
We watched the two men approach, with varying degrees of surprise and curiosity, as it was seldom strangers passed that way on foot. The men introduced themselves as Elders H. O. Hurst and George Cook, missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This information did not mean too much to us at the time, but when they said they were traveling without purse, and were several miles from the homes of friends and would appreciate the privilege of stopping a while to rest and partake of some refreshments, mother understood instantly. She invited them in and set the left-overs from dinner before them, which if I remember correctly, was more than ample - our dinner usually consisted of collards, cooked with ham or pork side, new potatoes, okra, tomatoes and cucumbers in vinegar, pone bread, and if we were lucky, huckleberry or apple dumplings.
While they ate, the missionaries explained briefly some of the first principles of the Gospel, as taught by the "Mormons", as they were called. After listening until the conversation became boring or perhaps over our heads, Julia and I retired to our play house in the barn loft. This was where we usually spent our time following diner as it was cool there; but mostly to escape the monotonous task of fanning the flies off mother while she took her afterdinner siesta.
When we returned to the house, the "Mormon" Elders - I'm afraid my modern and ancient history was somewhat confused, had gone; after obtaining permission to return a week later when all the family would be home. Mother had promised to invite her relatives and friends to this meeting. Some instinct told me this invitation would not be very graciously received, and my intuition proved true. I don't know how many mother invited, but few availed themselves of the opportunity of hearing the peculiar doctrine of Mormonism, explained. This seemed rather strange, for attending "Revival" meetings, where someone always fell into a trance and was saved, was almost as exciting as going to a circus, and not to be missed.
It seems there was a certain man, who had to be saved every year, and he got quite a reputation as an eloquent performer on the "saw dust ring" and he earned it. As I recall it, he would cross over that river Jordan and return before he came out of his trance. To my disappointment, I had to get this second hand.
Well, these people wanted nothing to do with Mormons, and those who would not come to the meeting at our house, later came to warn us against the wicked designs of the Elders of that church. They meant well, and we were sorry to disappoint some of them; I remember how sad I felt the day uncle William Green Jones came to have a talk with mother and Fronia after they had decided to join the "Mormon Church". Uncle William Green was father's brother, and a Baptist minister and, for some reason, we had a special admiration for him. He was more gentle of nature and kind in his condemnation of sinners than his brother Jethro, whose fiery sermon Willie liked to imitate.
In spite of warnings of friends and the prejudice of the other churches, all the family were impressed with the beauty and logic of this new religion, and it's close conformity to the teaching of Christ. The more they heard, the more sure they were that they had found the right church at last.
We became aware of the difference between the beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and the other churches, the greatest of which was latter day revelation. As the Savior said there should be Prophets, Seers, and Twelve Apostles at the head of His church, we could not see why a church claiming all of these should be reviled and persecuted. So that we might worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience and with dignity, mother decided to sell her farm and go to Salt Lake City, Utah, or "Zion", as it was called, where a Temple of the Lord was built for the Saints to worship, and perform the ordinances required of them.
I am not certain how many other factors influenced her decision, but she sold her land and prepared to leave the land of her birth, her kindred and friends.
Fronia wanted to go ahead of the family and being the most bold and fearless and a born leader, it was decided that she should go and make preparation for the rest of us. In the late summer of 1900, she left for Utah.
I watched these proceedings with mixed feeling, being probably, the most sentimental of the family, with a deep love for my home and native land burning inside of me. Poetically speaking, "I wandered lonely as a cloud", not even sharing all my secret sorrow with Julia. I wanted to be alone when I bid good-bye to the crooked old tree, whose friendly limbs had held me when I needed to escape the cruel realities of an un-friendly world; when I looked the last time on the sun sinking in a ball of glory behind the piney woods, the beauty of which I never expected to see again. I did not know then of the gorgeous splendor of the western sunsets but that is life. I didn't want to ever forget any of the inanimate objects of my childish affection, and tried to impress them all on my mind, so nothing could erase their memory, and I very nearly did. I can still see the patch of wire-grass which Julia and I turned into a beauty salon; something that we had never heard of. Each of us had bunches of grass so well trained that we could do it up into the semblance of a very pretty hair-do. Some were even recognizable as belonging to certain people we knew.
I have no doubt that the rest of the family felt very much as I did about leaving the old home and, like myself, tried to hide their sentiments behind a whistle or song. I can only imagine how it must have hurt mother to leave her childhood home and her beloved brothers and sisters.
Uncle Ben and aunt Mary Jones, who had left wayne County several years before, sold their home in Greene County, and moved back. They bought a farm within a few miles of us (bless them), knowing they were very near and dear to us, they thought they could influence the family and prevent us from going to Utah. Even they could not sway mother or any of the family from following the course they believed to be right. Did not Christ say we must give up father, mother, brothers and sisters, even our children, if need be, for His name's sake.
Our house became a meeting place for the Elders and Saints, in that part of Wayne County. After the family were baptised, sacrament meetings and sunday school were held there. Uncle John Fields and his family were the only relatives who attended the meetings, occasionally our cousin Jasper Potts attended. One Elder told us of an amusing encounter with Jasper's mother, aunt Mary Potts. He asked her if he might leave her some of his tracts, and she replied that - "he certainly could, but with his heels toward the house." That was typical of her native humor.
Poor aunt Mary, her grandson William Percise, joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a few years ago. He is the first close relative in the family that I know of who has joined since we left there in 1901. We were delighted in the summer of 1959, to receive a letter from him saying he and his family were coming out west to go through the Temple. Since then, other relatives and friends have received the church.
At the time we left North Carolina in 1901, meetings were held in any old building that could be secured for the occasion; sometimes it would be an old unoccupied school house, or an abandoned church. Now in the city of Goldsboro, a beautiful Church has been erected at a cost of $318,000. As you drive along the highways of the state, beautiful chapels are seen everywhere. Oh yes, great changes have taken place in old Dixie, as in the rest of the world. It 16 true, the more learning and wisdom one acquires, the less prejudice he has towards other's beliefs and convictions.
As I have mentioned before, sister Fronia had gone ahead of the rest of the family. She had borrowed money to pay her way to Utah, and now she was working in a tailor's shop, at what we then thought was an attractive salary. Her letters telling of her new home and friends and experiences were so interesting that they did a great deal to make our departure from our dear old home less sor8rowful. We naturally looked forward to our trip west, and the new home we were going to. It was with great sorrow that we bid good-bye to our father and brother Redic, who could not then give up their ties to their homeland. It was also hard to leave our little dog Bull, whom we loved like a member of the family; Julius claimed him as such. One day Julius dressed himself in clothes which dragged and bagged to the ground, and with a hat so large that it almost hid his face, emerged from the house; he was such a funny looking figure, his little dog didn't recognize him, and started barking at him fiercely. Julius had to then make himself known. He said "Bull, you ought to be ashamed, barking at your own brother". We used to tease him about his brother; it became a family joke. You can imagine the sad parting that last day when little Bull tried to follow us and had to be sent back.
There was another sad parting that day. Sudie's boyfriend drove her to the train, and on the way, tried to persuade her to elope with him. She may have been tempted, but being a quiet home girl, she could not bear to let her family leave without her.
Utah seemed so far away, and she was such a conscientious person that she would not upset any plans at that late hour. She met and married a nice young man about a year after we arrived in Utah. It was love at first sight for both of them and they had a happy married life.
We heard that the young man she left behind married a distant relative of ours, and had a very happy marriage. Who can deny the old adage "all is well that ends well"?
It is said that our departure from North Carolina was the object of a lot of attention, and some adverse comments, when after we'd left, The Goldsboro news papers came out with the sensational story that a train load of the fairest daughters of old North Carolina had left Goldsboro bound for Utah, accompanied by a half dozen Morman Elders.
Mother, her four daughters, four sons and Luther Coats, mother's convert, must have made quite an impression on the ticket agent.
The trip to Utah was almost indescribable. We younger children had never been on a train before, and to me it was almost too thrilling; every time it rounded a curve, it seemed to me it nearly left the track. I clung to the arms of my seat to keep from being flung in the isle. The creaking of the cars was frightening. After the first day or two, I began to enjoy the scenery more. I still remember how I admired the hills and cliffs of Tennessee, and the green fields of Kentucky, with the white houses in the distance and the white fences everywhere.
In Corinth, Mississippi, where we had to change trains, we stopped several hours. Hattie met a young man in uniform who was so impressed by her that he later went to Utah, and they corresponded for a while. He even proposed to her. 'Twas my task to compose the letter of refusal to his offer of marriage. It seems I could always tell others what to say, though I was always speechless when I had to speak for myself.
As the train took us farther and farther west, we began to watch for the mountains and the first snow capped mountain we saw were a wonderful sight for all of us. When we got into Wyoming, miners began to get on the train with their heavy coats and telescopes and suit cases. The women wore the first fur-trimmed coats I had ever seen. Finally, we were in Utah and our feelings were such that it was easy for us to imagine how Brigham Young felt when he said the famous words, "This is the Place".
We arrived in Salt Lake City, after our long and extremely tiresome journey, on a cold slushy day in March 1901. I will confess, I was slightly disappointed as it was such a grimy looking place, not at all like my imaginative conception of a beautiful "Zion". However, seeing the spires of the Temple in the distance, towering against the majestic snow- capped mountains, gave me hope there was a more attractive part of the city than that surrounding the Oregon Short Line Railroad Depot. In my eagerness to reach our new home, I soon forgot my apprehension and entered whole heartedly into a new and different way of life.
Fronia had been out west six months before us and had rented and furnished a house and was awaiting our arrival. It was with much curiosity and great anticipation, that we entered the little gray house of West Third South; to me it was something pretty wonderful. Imagine new furniture in every room! This was just one of the many new things that were beginning to enter my life.
The first evening in our new home, we were given a kind of house- warming as a welcome to Salt Lake City. It was a surprise party, by a few of the friends Fronia had made in her new surroundings. Among them were the Ashton girls, whose mother was from North Carolina. While I was enjoying the evening and appreciative of the gesture of friendship, f became aware of the difference in our manner of speaking. I was charmed by their quick fluent flow of speech and wondered if I would ever be able to drop my southern drawl and accent to speak as they did. This became my aim - but I never attained my goal. After fifty years, people ask me where I'm from.
We soon learned that our dialect and accent had nothing to do with making friends. Our small, over-crowded house soon became the meeting place of old and new friends. Some of our friends from North Carolina had preceded us to Utah, and others soon followed. With the returning missionaries stopping in to see how the Jones' family was making it in Zion, as they reported to the church headquarters, it is no wonder some of the neighbors, who didn't know this, began to speculate about the coming and going of 60 many people to the little house across the street.
About two or three weeks after our arrival, we all broke out with the measles. A nurse had to be engaged, as the whole family was in bed, and as I remember, we were very sick too. I am sure I was not as ill as the rest of the family, for I lay and listened to the others moaning and groaning and wished they wouldn't make such a to-do about it. This was another new experience for me, as it was the first time I had ever had a contagious disease, or a disease of any kind. It was the first time I had seen a house quarantined, so the yellow flag tacked on the front of the house spelled more than measles to me.
I was so thrilled and happy in my strange new environment that I never once wished for any cotton to hoe, or tobacco beds to weed. I simply luxuriated in idleness. That first summer I ran wild and free enjoying the things I had never seen before - the street sprinkler being but one of them; with the other girls as old as we were, Julia and myself ran barefoot behind it, having the time of our lives, and unashamed. What would fourteen year old girls of today think of such childish conduct! Today, girls of that age think they are quite adult. f suppose having older sisters who were adept at keeping younger ones in their place, made me rather slower in daring to assert my rights to the privileges so sacred to the budding adolescence.
I will confess I was in no hurry to give up the freedom and fun I was enjoying as a care-free tom-boy, and being somewhat small and young looking for my age, I could get away with it, though there were times when I was quite annoyed when I was referred to as "your little sister" by friends of my brothers and sisters. This had not bothered me when we were in the South, where most of the boys in school were relatives, or acquaintances of such long standing that they had no romantic interest for me.
Now, young men in our neighborhood began casting exploring eyes in the direction of our house. As they passed and repassed, they were probably aware that four damsels lurked behind the lace curtains at the windows. I imagine Suddie and Hattie were the chief attractions, being at the approved ages of seventeen and nineteen.
Julia and I were beginning to come into our own, as we too enjoyed being noticed by the opposite sex. Joe, who lived a few houses down the street, already had his eyes on Julia, and Andy, from around the corner, though too bashful to look at me when he passed, was dropping apples over the fence for me. I, though too bashful to let him know I was picking them up, ate them with far more enjoyment than I would have enjoyed his company, I am sure.
Speaking of apples, reminds me of an amusing incident with the girl next door. At that time, there were many old orchards in our part of the city, the fruit going to waste, so of course, everybody helped themselves. This day a friend, Mary Rose, and I decided to go to a certain old orchard and partake of the fruit thereof; we took a flour sack (I've often wondered why we didn't take two), anyway, when it was full I started to lift it. Mary put her hand out and said, "let me pack it," I stared at her a second and then said, "I'11 tote it", then the humor of the situation struck us and we sat down and had a good laugh. We then took turns carrying the apples home, where they were divided between us.
It was about this time that I turned down my first date. The boy across the back fence sent his sister over to ask me if I would go to a show with him. I wanted to go to the show, but I had never been to one, nor on a date with a boy, so not knowing what would be required of me, I was too timid to take the venture. I sent word back that I didn't want to go.
In September of 1901, Julia, Julius and I, started to school at the Franklin, one of the first schools built in our section of the city. I felt just about as frightened and curious as I had been the day I followed Sudie and Hattie to the old Casey school, long ago. I soon found that it was much the same as in North Carolina, and I soon felt that everything was going my way. Then out of clear skies came calamity. I came down with typhoid fever; as I had never had a real sick day in my life and having nothing to judge by, I didn't know whether I was ill or just too tired to live. I decided not to say anything about it, so I just drooped around the house and sat by the stove with my head in my hands, wishing everybody would quit asking me what was the matter. I just didn't have the energy to open my mouth. I had no idea of the terrible fear which was beginning to take root in my mother's mind.
At night, I would have nightmares and go to mother's bed and crawl in by her side, and tell her that I was afraid to be alone. One day I was trying to stay up, but had reached the limit of my strength, everything turned black before my eyes. It was then that I was put to bed and it was the last thing I knew for two or three weeks. Luck was with me, a friend of the family, who was a maid at Doctor Mayo's, the county physician, said she would send the Dr. down to see me and as soon as she reached home, which she did. He pronounced my ailment typhoid fever, in an advanced stage. They told me after I was well, that when they put me to bed, I told mother not to worry, just call in the Elders and I would not die. This gave her hope when I was at my worst, and little hope was held for my recovery.
I faintly remember being put in a bed that was swinging and swaying not unpleasantly (I always enjoyed swinging). As things turned out, it was fortunate that there was an Elder, Henry Sullivan boarding with us, and Andrew Godwin who also held the Priesthood, and could assist in administering to the sick, for every night about mid-night my fever would rise, and I would rave in delirium - the doctor had warned mother that I would have to be kept very quiet, or the consequences might be fatal. So, when I would start to rave, someone would go for the Elders, and I invariably fell asleep under their hands. Dear old Bishop Ek, formed the habit of stopping every morning and evening, on his way to and from his work, to pray for me, I became famous as "the little girl of great faith". So that I might have kept that title, but I do give thanks and credit to my heavenly Father that I was allowed to live, and though I have not lived up to my own ideals as well as I could have done, and have fallen short of my goal - I have never lost my faith.
I didn't go back to school that year, it was after Christmas before I was strong enough, and by that time my hair was falling out like feathers from a scalded chicken, and I looked like a little plucked skeleton for a long time. Mother hadn't the heart to force me, and yielded to my plea to be allowed to stay home.
The next spring we, moved to Sugar House, which is a suburb of Salt Lake City. At one time there had been a sugar mill built there by Brigham Young, and that is how it came to be called Sugar House. It was much nicer than the "west side" where the railroad shops and freight trains kept everything dingy from smoke.
After that, living in sugar House was like being back in the country. Late that summer me and Julius came down with diptheria, we were quarantined, only mother and Hattie stayed home to nurse us. I remember how Julius carried on, every time he got an anti-toxin shot. I learned to take this without flinching, not because I didn't want to scream, but because I simply couldn't let Doctor stewart see me acting like a frightened baby, doctors were new and awesome in my life, I could hardly feel pain in their presence, I never could tell them where my misery was when they asked where I hurt.
Julius and I were among the first to be given anti-toxin, which took much of the fear out of diptheria. We had not fully recovered when school started, and much to my chagrin, had to miss the first month. After being out so long with typhoid, I was really worried. But after looking over the books Julia brought home, and doing some of the lessons with her, I decided I would have no trouble keeping up with her. Skipping a grade, I went with her into the sixth grade. Miss Fannie Alien was our teacher, she was followed by Miss Della Pendleton, and Mr. James E. Moss. Julia had made friends and sort of paved the way for her shy-crop haired twin sister. There was one boy Julia especially singled out as her favorite. I am sure she never expected to have any competition from me, but he must have thought I looked boyish and funny, and took an instant liking for me, and started passing notes to me to participate in the fun. The thing that made more fun, I think, was that Julia got so angry at me, no one knows how close I came to getting banged over the head with a book. That boy, who was a future attorney of some prominence, was my escort to the school parties for a while.
Another day I wrote a note in which I made a slithering remark about a certain boy in the room, the note was to a girl, but one of those fun loving boys got it and pretended they were going to the boy, I had nothing against the boy, and knew I should not have said what I did. I was so desperate to get the note back I was causing quite a commotion, the more desperate I became, the more fun it was for those boys. Finally I jumped up and went after it. Miss Allen, who was a hot-headed teacher who took no fooling, laughed and made them give it back to me, saying "next time be careful what you write".
Aside from the school-day romances with boys who were hardly old enough to be taken seriously, I had not had much experience with the opposite sex. I was shy and bashful and avoided the ones I really liked most, and being so young looking for my age, I am sure they never suspected the romantic ideas I was harboring.
My first date with an adult young man came about by accident. Julia had made a date with Bill Martin, a nice, handsome young man, but in the mean time had went to spend the summer with sister Fronia in Idaho. There were few telephones in those days, so I had to break the bad news to him when he arrived. As he drove up in a shinning rubber-tired buggy, drawn by an equally shinning horse, I greeted him at the door and apologized for her. He asked me if I would go in her stead. I was afraid he was asking me just to be polite, and hoping I would refuse. I hesitated, making some lame excuse. He insisted that I go, saying he had rented the shinning outfit for a few hours, and wanted to use it, and would be happy if I would go with him, so I did and enjoyed the summer evening very much. I was surprised when he asked for another date, and another. We went steady for sometime, probably a year. While I liked him well enough, we were both rather bashful. The only thing he could talk about with fluency was perpetual motion, which he was trying to invent, and he talked about it perpetually. This became boring but when he talked I didn't have to - I was always a good listener. I don't know how long this would have gone on, or where it might have ended, if fate in the person of Hattie and her friend Elsie hadn't intervened.
Elsie's pet sport was collecting the scalps of any young man she could get her hands on; to hear her tell it she had collected quite a few. When Hattie had a friend she was terribly loyal, and I mean terribly. The whole family heaved a sigh of relief when her friendships had leveled to normal.
These two started making a big fuss over Bill, pretending they were falling in love with him. This seemed to worry the poor fellow. I became so disgusted with him for taking them seriously and not being able to see that they were pulling his leg, that I was getting ready to turn him over to them, with my blessings and thanks, when his best friend Mitch, a handsome young Irishman came to my rescue. We had double dated with him on a few occasions, and I thought he would be fun to go with, so when he asked me for a date, I gladly accepted. I don't think it was quite as much fun for Hattie and Elsie after that. I didn't bother to find out. Mitch and I went together for sometime but after a misunderstanding, which was brought about by Bill and his sister-in-law. I was so furious at the time that I would not listen to Mitch's explanation or forgive him, so our friendship ended.
I have laughed about it since. It seems that my girlish efforts to win a little more lover-like display of friendship such as holding my hand - was misconstrued and confided to his friend. Then Bill and his sister-in-law passed it on to me knowing I would do just what I did.
With the exception of the small pox epidemic, life in sugar House went on smoothly and happily for all concerned. Fronia had married before we left the west side, and was living near us. Livey had married a Sugar House girl, Mary White, daughter of an English convert to the church, Alfred White. That fall after a "love at first sight" and whirlwind courtship, Sudie became Mrs. Frank Bywater. His parents were residents of Sugar House. Frank's father was Joseph G. Bywater who was an engineer for the DBRGRR where Frank was also employed as a locomotive fireman. They moved to the west side where he would be near the Round House. Hattie was also destined to meet her future husband, Ervon Fairbanks, in Sugar House.
About this time, Fronia and her husband moved to Parker, Idaho, a little town in a farming community. He was working as a brick mason on the Sugar Factory then under construction in what is now known as Sugar City, Idaho. Mother went up to visit them in the summer of 1904. While she was there Barney, who was twenty-five, had rode to Hehi on his bicycle to see a girl friend, he came back hot and exhausted and went to bed. He woke up during the middle of the night with severe chest pains.
We sent for Dr. Stewart, who pronounced it pneumonia. He advised us not to send for mother, he thought he could control the virus, he was very attentive, and made two and three calls every day, but the treatments seemed to get no results, and finally we sent for mother because he kept asking when she would be home. A neighbor, Mrs. Chi Alston, came in and helped us nurse him, and other friends did all they could.
When we told him she would soon be home, he would ask us every time the street car came up the hill, if mother was on it. He passed away before she could reach his bedside, as she had been delayed in making the trip home. It didn't seem fair for him to die without seeing his mother, as he tried so hard to live until she got there.
While Fronia lived in Idaho, I stayed with her one winter and attended school, I was in the seventh grade. Mr. Johnson taught the seventh and eight grades, and every few weeks the two grades faced each other in a spelling match, I was the champ for the seventh grade, a girl I shall call Mona Mason the eight grade leader. So far I had stood up with this girl after all the rest of the students had missed a word and taken their seats, and had won every time, this had become a rather monotonous event to the teacher. One day a long list of words were written on the black board, we were allowed to study them for probably ten or fifteen minutes, then they were erased and we formed a line for the spelling match, which proceeded as usual with the usual results, except for a tense moment when I thought I would lose my championship; I had mispronounced a word, which nearly threw me. When that word was called I didn't recognize it as being on the list. I wondered if a word had been slipped in to trip me, I knew everybody in the room wanted Mona to win, she being a local girl, I stood silent until my mind had swept down the list of words until I reached the word that must be the one just called, and spelled it, correctly.
Instead of Mona taking her seat when she missed the next word, she was allowed to stand until I missed a word, then Mr. Johnson said it was a tie. Mona was a very nice girl, and probably a better all-round student than I was, but I have wondered if Mr. Johnson's dubious decision was justified. It may have saved her pride, and to a degree upheld the local spirit, but I never respected him as much again. I'm not completely honest in everything, but in a contest or game, I have to be, or I cannot feel that I have won.
Barney's death brought about drastic changes in the financial affairs of the family, he had been the main support of the family, Willie's wages could not suffice. We all had to go to work. Though I wanted to continue my schooling, I was not encouraged to do so, mother no doubt thought it would be unfair to the others to have to support me. It is easy to say where there is a will there is a way. I was like a babe in the woods, without encouragement and a helping hand, I was lost, and neither one was extended.
I heard of a lady who wanted a girl to live with her as a sort of combination companion-maid relationship, her husband was a traveling man, and she didn't like being left alone, she paid small wages, but the work was very light, and knowing my limitations, I didn't expect much. Mrs. McQueen was a lovely lady, and we got along exceedingly well from the start. I lived with her about a year, but when I heard of an opening at the Union Paper Box Company, which would pay me twice as I was now getting, I thought I had better take it. Mrs. McQueen understood and I left with her best wishes, after promising to go back and visit her whenever I could. I liked my new work, I was assistant at one of the machines that pasted paper on shoe boxes.
Mother had decided to take in boarders, Frank Bywater, Sudie's husband, who was now an engineer on DBRG advised her to move to the west side near the Round House, (where the engines are turned) so she could board railroad men, they were a good risk, and he could send her all she could take care of. She moved back to the west side near where we had lived when we first came to Salt Lake City. Julia quit her job and went home to help mother with her work.
Mother made it clear that she wanted us girls to keep our hands off her boarders and we solemnly promised not to touch them. I had no idea I would ever have more than a passing interest in any of these men, so promises were easy to make. Mother believed us, and trusted us, but neither she, nor any of us, reckoned with the natural attraction, when youth meets youth of the opposite sex.
I shall never forget the day I came home from work, and Julia, who was staying home to help mother, met me and told me that two boarders had arrived and were upstairs in their room. The stairway came down through the kitchen, and needless to say, I stayed where I could see them when they made their appearance, which they presently did - that was how I met the man I was to marry.
He was a tall, lanky young man, being the youngest of the two, and the most unsophisticated. I can't say that I was particularly impressed by him at the time, but was later attracted to him because of his obvious efforts to appear indifferent. It seems he was more drawn to me, as he told me later that he had said to himself, "This is the girl I am going to marry". So it was love at first sight with him. The other boarder was older and more friendly and talkative. Before dinner was over, he was laughing and talking to everyone. No doubt, he was the more attractive of the two, at least more sophisticated.
As time went on, I found myself using what subtle methods I knew how to employ, to attract the attention of that rather homely young man from Iowa, whose name was George King. My bashful efforts were rewarded, but I didn't know how well I had succeeded until the actions of others, who had no such intentions, precipitated the matter.
It was New Years Eve 1905, Hattie and her friend Elsie had time hanging on their hands, Ervon, who was Hattie's fiancee, was in Canada, and Elsie, probably thinking they were new conquests in the Jones' boarding house, was a constant visitor. This day they were itching for excitement. Frank Bywater had told us if we wanted to go the Round House and help blow the old year out and the new year in, he would get permission from the Round House foreman to let us in. Now Hattie and Elsie wanted to go, but for some reason, which I think was the lanky young man from Iowa and another boarder, Chuck Johnson, they didn't want me and Julia to go with them.
When they invited Bill Martin and Jud to spend the evening; (these young men were ex-boyfriends of Julia and myself), we thought there was something rather strange, but it was not made plain until after the young men arrived and soon afterwards Hattie and Elsie disappeared. I will say in all modesty that the young men seemed to be perfectly satisfied to be left behind, but I was determined that Hattie and Elsie were not going to get away with any more of their meddling escapades. I knew where they had gone and pretending a gaiety I was far from feeling, I then proposed that we all go over to the Round House and join in the fun. Julia and the young men fell with my plan and away we went, merrily rushing into the foreman's office, where we found Hattie and Elsie surrounded by a group of young railroad workers, some of our boarders included. The girls seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely, but looked like they had been caught stealing sheep when they saw us. If Bill and Jud knew they had been jilted or stood up, and used, they didn't seem to mind, and apparently had as much fun as any one.
I was quite surprised when George King, who was the host or helper that evening, left Elsie's side and practically took possession of the land-lady's little daughter. I was boosted onto every engine he moved that night, helped into the engineer's seat and given the cord to pull the blow whistle. It seemed wonderful to be a part of all the tremendous noise and fun, welcoming the fateful year of 1906. That lark broke down the barrier of reserve between George and I, and from that evening on we, more or less, went steady.
George was working nights, so we had to go to the afternoon shows, on my days off. Some mornings he would walk to the Box Factory with me before he went to bed, after getting home from work. One morning, while we were walking to my work, we noticed a crowd of people gathered in a vacant lot on the other side of the street, being naturally inquisitive, I wanted to cross the street to see what had happened. We crossed the street and pushed our way through the crowd, until we could see what had drawn the crowd. A dead man was sitting against a tree with a gun in his hand, sightless eyes staring into space. I thought for a moment I was destined to share the fate of the curious cat. My senses reeled, and my stomach almost heaved beyond its bounds, only by hurrying away was I able to keep my equilibrium and also my breakfast. It was a very distressing experience and when I reached the Box Factory, I was so pale the girls wanted to know what was the matter, I tried to tell them my ghastly story.
Happily, that was the only time our walks to and from my work ended with unpleasant consequences.
In July of 1906, George's brother Jim, came to Salt Lake City and he also bearded with mother. About that time Hattie became engaged to Ervon, and I became fiancee of George, having given my promise to exchange with him "I do", about Christmas. Julia and Jim had double dated with George and I several times during the summer, though not engaged, they were going rather steady.
Hattie and Ervon Fairbanks were married in November of 1906 and in December, George and I took the same step. We were married in the old City and County Building, with County Clerk David A. Smith performing the ceremony. Julia and Jim acted as witnesses. We rode the trolley car, and on the way, it jumped the track, as it was snowy and slippery. I secretly feared it was a bad omen. In the evening a family reception was held, and a nice dinner served. The next day we left for Iowa, where we spent our honeymoon.
If ours was not an exciting honeymoon, as some honeymoons, it was our first and only one, and quite wonderful in our simple and unsophisticated minds, though I would not recommend a trip back to the old home as the most ideal place to spend a honeymoon. Especially if one happened to be as shy and self-conscious as I was. At times, I felt like a specimen on display. Many of George's family and friends had never seen a Mormon, and their veiled curiosity and scrutiny gave me the feeling that they were looking for my horn. A few times some friendly kidding was cut short by a silent signal, or a hurrah "George's wife is a Mormon". This was a little embarrassing to me, but didn't bother George at all, he just laughed it off and seemed to be more proud than otherwise, of his little Morman wife.
I fell in love with his father and mother, who were very nice to me, and made me feel that they accepted me. I liked all his folks.