Monday, October 29, 2012

February Court in Gatesville in the 1920s

By: Dick Carter

 Having moved from Roduco to Gatesville [Gates Co.] in 1918, I learned the comings and goings of things that happened in the 1920s and 1930s. One special event came on the first Monday in February— this being in the time of few cars and no tractors. Farmers and local residents met in Gatesville on this day to trade horses and mules before spring plowing started.
There was in Gatesville at that time two livery stables—one was located where the Gatesville Baptist Parsonage now stands. It was owned by Jim Hoffler. Both of the stables traded, bought and sold horses, mules, buggies, harnesses, etc.

On Sunday afternoon late you could see the horse traders coming to Gatesville driving one mule or horse and leading about three or four behind—all roads were sand at that time. They came from Ahoskie [Hertford Co.], Suffolk [VA], Edenton [Chowan Co.], and other places and made camp in the street behind the courthouse and in front of the jail and other places that they could tie up.
At about sunrise on Monday morning the fun started and continued on during the day—horse trading, drinking corn liquor, cooking over open fires, fist fighting, and cussing (some of the best you ever heard). The Langston’s from Gates and the Carters from across the Creek always put on a good fight. When the fighting got real good old man Charlie Ellis, an undertaker that had a place where Southern Bank now stands would stand on the side and sing, “Shave Mr. Shaver and grease Mr. Greaser Grease". One day when the fight got real good, Tom Riddick, a boy of my age at that time, got on top of the chicken house in order to better see the fight. Well the roof fell through—from that day on he was known as Rooster Reddick. However, when you called him that you had better be prepared to run or fight.

Down Main Street toward the Creek about where the Askew home now stands, under a large sycamore tree, two colored women, "Mariar and Sane", lived in a small house and had food for sale, such as it was. They cooked the best apple jacks for 10 cents that you ever ate. I guess this was Gatesville's first fast food.

Needless to say, the bootleggers had a good day. White corn liquor was 35 cents a pint. It was said to be two-man liquor—one man would hold the other while he took a drink.
At about 4:00 pm everything moved out leaving the alleyways strewn with paper, hay, food, horse manure, etc. Everyone was happy—some made good deals, some bad. But everyone was looking forward to next year, the first Monday in February.

[Taken from Just Down the Road in Our Own Words, compiled and typed by Peggy Lefler for the Gates County Historical Society: 2009]

No comments:

Post a Comment