Monday, December 27, 2010



By N. W. Walker

"The State high school championship contest in football, inaugurated last fall under the auspices of the General Alumni Athletic Association of the University, was won by the Raleigh City High School, at Chapel Hill, on Saturday, December 13th [1913]. The preliminary contests narrowed the claimants for championship honors down to three teams—Raleigh [Wake Co., NC], Washington [Beaufort Co., NC], and Wilmington [New Hanover Co., NC]. The committee on athletics accordingly arranged for two games to be played at Chapel Hill.

"The first game was played by Raleigh and Wilmington, Saturday, December 6th, and resulted in a score of 29 to 6 in favor of Raleigh. The second game was played by Raleigh and Washington, on Saturday, December 13th, and score was 29 to 0 in favor of Raleigh. The Raleigh High School team was, therefore, declared winner of the championship title, and was accordingly awarded a silver cup, presented by Alexander Taylor and Company, of New York, through the Athletic Association.

"The teams that played the two games at Chapel Hill gave two beautiful exhibitions of football. It is believed by many who saw the games that the Raleigh team was the best strictly amateur high school team ever developed in the State. Its work was little short of perfect for a high school team. There is no question about the ability of this team to defend the championship title with great credit for 1913 and to hold it against all comers.

"The following paragraphs, commenting on the work of Mr. Phillips, who coached the team, and giving the records of the individual players, are taken from the Raleigh News and Observer of December 14:

"The coaching of the Raleigh eleven has been done by Mr. G. B. Phillips, who does not pose as a University star but who learned to play ball while at college and worked with 'Doggie' Trenchard during the summer and who has wrought well this season. After the class room duties of the day, Mr. Phillips has spent his afternoons this fall on the athletic field and has helped the capital boys mold themselves into a victorious football machine.

Individual Records Of Players On The Raleigh Team

Raymond Tyree, center, age 16, weight 140, sophomore. Tyree can pass the ball and get his man and that is why he plays at center.

Sam Parham, right guard, age 18, weight 168, freshman. Sam is a strong, fearless guard who always holds his part in the line.

Stewart Crinkley, left guard, age 16, weight 160, senior. Crinkley's avoirdupois, hard work and consistent playing make him a dependable guard.

Toxy Whitaker, right tackle, age 16, weight 163, sophomore. Whitaker's weight, strength and grit make him a good tackle.

Carlyle Weathers, L. T., age 17, weight 173, junior. Carlyle blocks his hole in the line, gets his man and always stops him, too. The tackling and the line-breaking of this strong, fearless chap assures him a berth on the All-State team.

Andrew Crinkley, R. E., age 18, weight 140, graduate. Andrew waited until late in the season to don his uniform and show them how he did it last season. But in landing forward passes, in breaking up interference and in fast, gritty playing, he ranks first among high school ends in the State.

Ralph McDonald, L. E., age 17, weight 130, senior. When necessary, Ralph can do well in the back field; and at his end he gives full account of himself in breaking up interference and helping with the forward passes.

Earl Johnson, Q., age 16, weight 135, junior. In speed, grit and generalship, Earl easily ranks first among the football generals in the high schools of the State.

Ralph Champion, R. H., age 17, weight 154, freshman. While Johnson was out with a bad shoulder, Ralph was a good general; and in his regular position at right half he belongs on the All-State team. His grit, endurance and strength can carry the pig skin through the line or around the end; or he can run the interference for another to make the gain.

Eugene Mills, L. H., age 17, weight 140, sophomore. In clean, gentlemanly, speedy playing, Captain Mills is a star. His long end runs, his running of interference and his toe work are brilliant.

William Bowen, F. B., age 17, weight 160, sophomore. In plunging the line and in booting the pigskin, Bowen is a star player. In fact, in his punting he ranks with college booters.
Roy Smith, who has played right end in a majority of the games, has a plenty of speed and grit to make up for his feather-weight.

Betts, Koontz, and Coley have played splendid ball as utility men."

[Taken from The North Carolina high school bulletin, Volume 5, 1914: edited by Nathan Wilson Walker. This publication was digitized by Google and can be found by searching Google books.]

Aulander [Bertie Co., NC]
High School Football Team
c 1927

Undefeated and Untied
Squad Includes Players from Hertford County as well as Bertie County

Front Row: Crawford Lawrence - Bruce White - Lloyd Britton - William "Zeke" Mitchell

Second Row: Pete Corey - P. C. Bradley - Harry Parker - Rudolph Mitchell - Burleigh Jenkins - Phil Burden

Third Row: Stanley "Monk" Joyne - Coach George Underwood - Harry Holloman - J. T. Early - Whitney Saunders - Vernon "Fats" Cowan - Heber "Dick" Newsome - Chet Rogerson -Clayton Rogerson

[In the 1920s few restrictions existed on high school sports.]

[This photo was taken from the Aulander website: Aulander, NC: Past, Present and Future.]

Thursday, December 16, 2010



Louisburg, NC
November 1887

The water in Tar River exceeds its banks, and by 6:30 PM on November 2, 1887 the bridge at Louisburg [Franklin County, NC] is washed away. Reports follow with the loss of Cedar Creek Bridge, Sandy Creek Bridge, Cypress Creek Bridge, and all other bridges over Tar River.

Mill pond dams are breaking up at Jerre Perrys and Cliftons. Jacksons mill pond is nearly destroyed. The forebay at Laurel Cotton Mill along with the saw-mill has floated away.

Reports are coming in of untold thousands of bushels of corn lost in these high waters. M. S.l Davis reported the loss of forty head of sheep.

[Taken from the Franklin Times, November 2 & 4, 1887. First printed in The Connector, newsletter of the Tar River Connections Genealogical Society, Summer 2004.]

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Skillful Opponent

MR. P. H. WINSTON and Hon. H. A. Gilliam were for years leaders at the Bertie County (N. C.) Bar, and had each a full appreciation, from experience, of the skill of the other. At one term Mr. Winston was suddenly called away, and placed his business in the hands of his nephew Duncan Winston, a recent acquisition to the bar. "Now," said he, "Duncan, if Gilliam makes you any offer of a compromise, decline it. If you make him one, and you find he is about to accept it, withdraw it immediately.''

[Taken from The Green Bag, An Entertaining Magazine for Lawyers, Vol. 5; By Horace Williams Fuller, Sydney Russell Wrightington, Arthur Weightman Spencer, Thomas Tileston Baldwin, 1893. This is a Google publication.]

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wood Thieves

WOOD STEALERS— Those lazy night-walkers have commenced their attacks on wood piles very early in the season. We were told by a gentleman on the street a few days back that his wood pile had been visited the night before and a wagon load of wood already cut for the fire had been carried off. In these days of inventions, can't someone invent a plan by which these troublesome fellows can be caught without putting one to the necessity of watching in the cold for them? The article will meet with almost as ready sale as Messrs. Barrow & Pleasants Steam Washer. Good time to make a fortune, Let us have the machine.

Since writing the above Mr. M.S. Davis, the gentleman who had the wood stolen from him offers a reward of ten dollars for the thief. We hope he, she, or they may be caught and that a lodgment with Mr. Thompson in the State Prison and to keep warm during the winter by breaking rocks for the building.

[Franklin Courier, October 3, 1873. This story appeared in the Spring 2006 issue of The Connector, newsletter of the Tar River Connections Genealogical Society.]
A search for the Steam Washer mentioned in the above story turned up the following advertisement from the Feb. 23, 1882 issue of the Salisbury, N. C. Carolina Watchman.  This machine was the invention of Mr. T. J. Meroney.

THIS MACHINE is a plain wooden tank lined with copper or galvanized iron, with perforated pipes in the bottom for the admission of steam, with corrugated Roler, made of same mettle, and of sufficient weight. This Roler gathers the air while passing back and forth over the cloths, forcing air and water through the fabric. At same time the steam is thrown up through the perforated pipes underneath from the bottom of the tank. There are wooden strips between the pipes so as to protect them and form a smooth bottom in the tank.

The process is simple: any one can operate the machine. First, soap the cloths and distribute them evenly about four or five inches thick in the tank. Turn on enough water to cover them—turn on steam, and mover the Roler back and forth until the water is colored. Turn the valve and let the water pass off. Add fresh water, and repeat this three or four times, and you find the clothes are thoroughly washed without the slightest injury, for there is no rubbing process employed, the Roler having rounded edges so as to prevent any wear or cutting. A lace handkerchief can be washed as well as a bed quilt.

This machine is in operation at Meroney & Bros. Machine Shop where they will be manufactured at as small a cost as possible. Any one having a steam boilerf in operation can use one of my machines at small cost and with satisfactory results. One person can do the work of ten wash somen in one day and do the work better.

- It is also a good wool-washer.

- State and County rights for sale by the inventor.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Buckets of Rain

By Annie Pearl Brantley

The rain fell and fell and fell, day after day. Buckets of rain. Torrents of rain. The ditches overflowed. Mud holes turned into ponds; ponds into lakes; and lakes into seas.Chickens sought safety in the treetops while the mules, horses and cows slogged about in mud up to their knees. The wise humans stayed inside where it was dry.

Down at the family graveyard, the rising waters pushed at the saturated, sandy soil causing it to shift restlessly, in a series of miniature avalanches. Each little shift gave a tiny nudge until, finally, Alfred Lamm in his coffin slowly floated to the surface.

According to local legend, when the rain finally ended and the floating coffin was discovered, Alfred was moved into a nearby tobacco barn to dry out and was then reburied. So far as I know, he has rested peacefully since that time.

Alfred Lamm (b. 1850) was the son of Thomas and Aily Bizzard Lamm. He was marred in 1875 to Sarah Glover (1844-1911). I do not know his death date and there is no stone to mark his grave. The home place, which is in Nash County, about 5 miles north of Bailey and ½ mile east of Green Gables, was bought by T. C. High and in my memory was called the T. C. High home place.

[Annie Pearl Brantley (5/17/1929-2/21/2008) was a Nash County genealogist who lived in Spring Hope. This story was published in The Connector, newsletter of the Tar River Connections Genealogical Society in the Winter 1998 issue.]

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Legend of the Whitaker House

By Mrs. Cora W Ramsaw and Mrs. Saratoga W. Brown 

G. F. C. Whitaker and his wife bought a farm from Will Brown. It was in Murfreesboro Township, Hertford County, about four miles beyond Mapleton. The farm was bordered on one side by Potecasi Creek and on the other side by the Meherrin River. Here the Whitakers built their home and established their family.

As time went on, Whitaker began looking for more and better farm land. As luck would have it, the Camp Manufacturing Co. was looking for timber and the Whitaker place had plenty of that. In 1930, Whitaker and Camp Manufacturing made a swap—the Whitaker place for what was known as Mis Sallie Warren's farm in Maney's Neck Township, Como, N. C.

Camp Manufacturing Co. had no use for the buildings on the Whitaker farm and G. F. C. Whitaker was given a year to tear down and remove all the buildings on the property. The Whitaker House was torn down and the materials were carried to the Meherrin River at the far end of the farm.

"The boards were put into a raft and floated down the river with Whitaker's top buggy on the raft in which he sat. His sons came along beside the raft in a canoe which he made, to see that the raft was guided to its destination, and tied up at the boat landing on the [new]Whitaker farm … ."

The salvaged building material was stored on the new site until the house was rebuilt in 1935.

The Whitaker family moved into the old/new house in January, 1936.

[This story by Mrs. Cora W Ramsaw and Mrs. Saratoga W. Brown, daughters of G. F. C. Whitaker, was first published in Heritage County Reflections in 1988. The book was compiled to commemorate America's 400th Anniversary.]

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Working in Radio


I first came to Nash County and Rocky Mount in 1938 to accept a position on the announcing and copy-writing staff of radio station WEED-AM. My salary was $22.50 per week.

WEED was the only radio station east of Raleigh in 1938. Avera Wynne was the owner and manager. On the staff when I arrived were: announcers Wally Williams, Carl McKinney, and Bernard Proctor. Ike Murphrey, a Rocky Mount native, and Roy Bechtol, from Pennsylvania, were our engineers. Our sales manager was B. W. Frank. Later, Ray Bandy and Jack Cummings worked in sales, as did I.

I spent my first week in Rocky Mount at the Cambridge Hotel on Main Street. My room was on the second floor front and the trains going by the front door of the hotel made sleeping difficult for the first two or three nights. I ate my meals at the Palace Restaurant, the New York Café, and the Royal Palm Restaurant.

After a week at the Cambridge Hotel, I secured a nice room with Mr. and Mrs. Jim Frank Avent on Forrest Hill Drive in Englewood, just two blocks from the studios of WEED. The room, including laundry, was $3 per week. I soon discovered Mrs. Sally Edwards' boarding house on Church Street, just across from the Masonic Temple. I took my meals with Mrs. Edwards. For $7 per week, I had lunch and dinner, seven days a week.

Radio WEED featured a lot of local, live talent on the air. Perhaps the best known at that time were Talmadge Pollard and Paul Byrd, "The Johnson County Ramblers," sponsored by Planters Cotton Oil and Fertilizer Co. The emcee for the show was "Uncle" Eddie Burwell. Other artists who performed during the early years were: Curley Red and his Melody Boys, Everette and Pearlie Ashley, the "Ashley Brothers," and Atwood Gurganus with brothers Julius and Irvin. Inez Cobb was one of our better singers and was featured on many programs. Lucille Arnold of Red Oak was our staff pianist and played for Inez and a number of other local entertainers that appeared at the station.

One of the most professional groups to appear on WEED was Tex Dean and the Carefree Cowboys, sponsored by Priddy Fertilizer. I wrote the commercials and announced the show for several years.

I met and married Martha High of Red Oak in 1941. We live in Greenville, North Carolina.

[This story was one of many collected through the Nash County Cultural Center's Oral History Project during the late 1990s. Braswell Memorial Library in Rocky Mount has the full collection of stories. This story was first published in The Connector, the newsletter of the Tar River Connections Genealogical Society in the Spring 1999 issue.]


A Warrenton Boy's Views.

The Henderson [Vance County] and Warrenton [Warren County] base ball clubs began a game of ball at Warren Plains last Thursday but for a reason which will be shown below the game was not finished. During the first three innings the Henderson Club's success seemed to be unlimited, but at the beginning of the fourth inning the Warrenton boys begn their work and at the close of the 6th inning the score being nearly even and the Henderson boys seeing their terrible defeat ahead of them outrightly refused to finish the game. After they refused to play the Umpire according to the rules of B. B. declared the game in favor of Warrenton.

[This story appeared in The Graphic, Ridgeway, Warren Co., NC, 7/17/1890. The story was published in The Connector, newsletter of Tar River Connections Genealogical Society in the Spring 2006 issue.]

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


As in every business or profession, the sportsman has his ups and downs; chiefly the latter. … For years I had hoped and planned to have a private shooting-box on the North Carolina sounds, where I could carry out my pet theories, raise my own decoys, and, above all, entertain a few choice sportsmen of the dead-game sort. My hopes were realized, but, like the Scriptural apples, they turned to dead-sea fruit on the lips.

I learned that the light-house at Pamlico Point, near Goose Creek Island, was to be abandoned by the government on account of shoaling water. I made application, gave bond to protect the property, and the tower, buildings and island were turned over to me, and that winter I gathered a choice party to join me in a hunt that was to be a record-breaker.

There were four of us, a duck-hunting quartette, comprising Messrs. Charles Hallock, William Wagner, one of the finest wing-shots of America; George Ransdell, an old Black Horse cavalryman in the war days, who had spent the last quarter of a century roaming over the frontiers of the far West and Mexico, and myself. It was a goodly company of Bohemians and sportsmen who confidently went forth in the North Carolina sounds to slay vast quantities of water fowl, and to enjoy the pleasure that only a coterie of congenial spirits can find in out-of-the-way places, far from the swirl of the "madding crowd." Most men have a touch of the savage in their composition or a tinge of the old Norse blood in their veins, and take keen delight in severing themselves from all the luxuries and charms of civilized life, and roughing it in a way that a tramp would despise.

It takes some thirty hours to reach Pamlico Sound from Norfolk by way of steamer. Half of the time the route is through narrow canals that connect the Currituck, Chowan, Albemarle and Pamlico sounds. The scenery is flat and unpicturesque, and consists entirely of swamps and pine barrens.

Reaching Pamlico Island in due time, the steamer's whistle blew the warning signal and a boat put out from the place to meet us. Its owner was the ex-light-house keeper, who when the light was abandoned … still remained at his old quarters, simply because he was too lazy to move away.

It was a small boat that came dancing over the waves, … but certainly not capacious enough to hold four men, one dog, a small arsenal of guns, boxes of provisions, several hundred pounds of ammunition, eight bags of decoy-ducks with their weights attached, a half dozen trunks, besides any number of traps, not counting a huge demijohn—a cure for snake bites, and the only cure for any accident, home-sickness, or mishap that might befall us.

The wind was blowing great guns, and the whole sound, as far as the eye could reach, was full of white-caps. It was with great difficulty that the little craft could be made fast to the leeward side of the steamer, and as we looked down from the gangway and watched the lantern rise and fall in the swell of the billows, some eight feet from the crest to the trough, there arose a protest from all.

" I am not prepared to leave the world yet," remarked the Professor, as we nicknamed Mr. Hallock." Davy Jones won't get me in his locker to-night if I can help it."

"I'm rather timid of water, anyway," said Wagner, whom we had dubbed "Major Clam," because, being a silent man, he rarely opened his mouth except to take a drink. "I was on a yacht once on Lake Erie, and it was overturned and all hands lost on board. I'd just as leave commit suicide at once as to get in that cockle-shell."

"Are you uns a-comin'?" cried the voice of the boatman, commencing in a high tenor and sinking slowly to a low stomach note, as the boat dropped from the crest deep in the hollow of a rolling wave.

"As for me," remarked Old Boreas, so-called because Ransdell was always blowing his money about, "as for me, if you catch me inside that coffin, then I'm a bigger fool than all the three wise men of Gotham who went to sea in a bowl."

The result was that the captain of the steamer launched the life-boat, and six stalwart rowers soon landed us on the island.

It was a barren sandbank in a wide waste of waters, and as we scrambled ashore we were prepared to see the ex-keeper's wife and even a whole tribe of children; but the crowd of Goose Creek Islanders who stood crouching, leaning, reclining, and slouching around the tower and house rather astonished us. They did not show any extravagant delight in the meeting, only welcoming us with a nod and a grunt. Their appreciation of rest was most patent—every man of them leaned or reclined against something; half a dozen or so were propping up the tower, another squad braced up the house, while others ballasted their boats, made fast to the shore, by lying full length on the seats.

The typical Goose Creek Islanders are tall, most of them being fully six feet when standing erect—a thing they rarely do except when yawning. Their hair is generally of the color known as carrotty, and it is combed every Sunday morning in honor of the day. Their foreheads are receding, their organs of vision … in color a dull blue. A sparkling black or clear hazel is rarely seen. The said eyes are generally as destitute of expression …except, indeed, when their glance rests upon a roll of money or a handful of coin, and then it is curious to watch them light up, and really scintillate. … Their cheeks are lank, and covered with a sparse beard which grows in detached spots like clumps of wire-grass in a run-down field. The jaw is their best feature, being strong and firm, denoting tenacity, and, if not courage, at least the absence of fear. … Their throats are long, and the Adam's apple especially prominent. They always stoop, simply for the reason that it is too great an effort to hold the backbone erect. That part of the body known as the abdomen is very long, a wise provision of nature, intended to allow a large storage of food within. The limbs are lengthy and the hand enormous, with knuckles as big as door-knobs. Clothe these figures in a mixed costume of sportsmen's cast-off garments of the finest material and the native's coarse butternut fashioned by the native house-wife, and the man, the typical Goose Creek Islander, will stand before you.

Take, for instance, Tim Cignal, the ci-devant light-house keeper. Tim was one of the crowd that awaited us, and he was the only one that abided with us—to our sorrow. He wore a fashionable billycock hat, dogskin jacket, over which his homespun coat hung; fine corduroy breeches, and a pair of india-rubber boots.

While we busied ourselves in housing our stores and traps, not an islander moved; they kept their gaze fixed on vacancy, inert and motionless, except that their jaws moved regularly, and they spit, ever and anon, a long stream of tobacco juice from between their closed teeth. This is an art to be accomplished only after long practice; but only the expert can expel it with his jaws clenched tight.

At last the ex-keeper, who had elected himself as host and custodian of our stores, stepped out on the porch.

"Boys, walk up and reef yer sails."

The motionless figures were touched into life and motion. … They all arose as one man, and actually hurried in, and imbibed in a way to make the famous major and judge blush with envy.

To make a long story short, the islanders remained with us for three days, eating, drinking, and lounging, until they cleaned out our whole large stock of wet and dry groceries; then all except Tim launched their boats, spread their sails, and departed for their island home.

The morning after our arrival our party started off on a reconnaissance, visiting many points in the vicinity; the result of our observations was that, with the exception of a few black-duck, there was no shooting around the island, and Messrs. Hallock and Wagner left for home the next day. George and I determined to stay for a week, anyhow.

The ex-keeper and his wife, her friend Nancy, George and myself constituted the household. Nancy was a big, buxom girl from Goose Creek Island, and was far superior to any of her clan, inasmuch as she could read and write, and was a noted musician on the island. She could, in the language of the street, "knock an accordion cold"; but, unfortunately, she could only play hymns. She explained to us that the hymns made her sad, and, as Artemus Ward said, "If she was sad, we were sadder than she was." Of all the lugubrious strains that were ever evolved from an instrument, the most lugubrious were brought from that diabolical accordion by Nancy.
They were singing "In The Sweet By and By"

The night after our companions left was very stormy; in fact, there was a hurricane off Hatteras, and we were catching the tail-end of it. The ocean billows swept over the intervening sand dunes and came rolling across the sound, raising the tide several feet above high-water mark. The wind shrieked and howled, and when George opened the door the storm burst into the room, strewing the floor with sleet. It required the combined strength of the household to close that door. The keeper's wife retreated to her room in a panic, and Nancy, awed and frightened, brought out her accordion for comfort. It was a huge affair, about the size of a barrel churn, and had been purchased by subscription by the admiring Goose Creek Islanders. It was the only musical instrument on the island.

Nancy could turn a tune and that was about all, but had she possessed a good instrument one could have listened to her without feeling his blood running cold. For years that accordion had been drawn, pulled, jerked, twitched and squeezed by rough hands, until it had the same sort of demoniacal melody that a boarding-house piano has. Some high-strung musical people shrink from a false note as from a blow, and if any such had been compelled to listen to Nancy that night they would have gone mad. The mournful, melancholy strains made us shiver; my dog Jessie darted under the bed, and lay there, from whence occasionally would come a protesting, suffering yap or whine.

After a while Nancy let herself loose, and began to sing in a nasal mezzo-soprano. This capped the climax, I thought, for discord had reached its limit; but when the keeper butted in with a voice which could only be likened to a crow afflicted with asthma, discordance could no farther go.

George leaned over and shouted in my ear, "They are making Rome howl!"

… They were singing "In the Sweet By and By," and were at the last line, "We shall meet on that beautiful shore." Nancy's eyes were closed, but her mouth was wide open; the keeper's eyes were closed, and his mouth open, and the raucous discord issuing from their throats was simply gruesome. All at once, with a wheezy shriek, the accordion rent asunder, the voices ceased, and Nancy burst into tears.

"The dern thing's busted."

It is always sad to see beauty in tears, but this time "it were better so."

"The harp that once through Tara's Hall" would be heard never, never more; for when the keeper examined the pride and delight of Goose Creek Island, he flung it on the floor with the remark, "The derned thing has done busted its insides out."

The next morning the gale had subsided, but a boisterous northwest wind was still blowing. George and I spread our decoys on a point near the light-house, and we had hardly regained the blind before a wild goose came sweeping with the wind in grand style. We both fired, and he tumbled head over heels before striking water. Jessie plunged in after him, but the goose was only winged, and started for the sound. Now a goose is a fast swimmer, and I watched the race with the keenest delight. The water was very rough, and soon both pursued and pursuer disappeared in the distance.

I ran to the house and obtained the keeper's glass and hurried to the top of the tower. Adjusting the focus I could see Jessie about a mile away, as she rose on the crest of the waves, her head turned seaward; and as I watched she disappeared from sight. I went back and joined George, greatly concerned about the dog. I told him that she was so thorough-bred and game that she would follow that goose across the Atlantic or sink in the attempt.

An hour passed and Jessie had not returned; my heart sank low. I would rather have lost all the rest of my kennel—my hunting traps— my favorite gun—than that she should come to grief. I cursed my thoughtlessness in letting her go after that goose; I might have known what the result would be. I went to the keeper and told him to man the boat, but I had slight hope of ever finding her in that wide waste of water.

I was just climbing into the boat when the keeper shouted, "For Heaven's sake! There's your dog now."

I turned, and on the other side of the island was my peerless setter, dragging herself along the beach with the neck of the dead goose between her teeth. I flew across the sands like a shot. Jessie stopped, but not until my arms were around her neck did she unclose her jaws. "Well, Jessie," I said, "it was a tough old goose, after all. I am going to have it roasted and you shall have it all."

Jessie understood me, for she licked her chops and wagged her tail.

Well, to return to our hunting expedition. The next evening, our provisions being exhausted, George and myself determined to visit Goose Creek Island and replenish our store. There was a heavy head-wind blowing, and soon the rain came down in torrents. The sails were lowered and we went to work with the oars; it was hard pulling, and we made slow progress against both blast and tide, and not until night came on did we make the landing. Then there was a tramp of two miles in our heavy rubber boots, along the causeways of the swamp and the ox road through the pines. In single file we stumped, slid, and waded along the miry route, and at one time almost stalled in the quagmires, another time up to our hips in some deep hog-wallow. It was tough work, and when we finally reached the store, wet and miserable, we were panting from our exertions like the winner of a four-mile steeplechase.

The store was closed, so we hunted around for some place in which to lodge. Chance led us to a house not far off, and in response to our knock we were civilly invited in. The picture of that room was full of interest to us; one of strong lights and shadows, such as Rembrandt would have loved to portray on canvas.

The room occupied the whole length of the cabin. The floor was of dirt, packed hard; a large fireplace occupied one side, and the smouldering pine knots would occasionally flare up into a bright blaze, alternately glooming and lighting up the interior. A high four-post bed fronted the fireplace, which was half concealed from the rear portion of the room by a bed-quilt suspended from a rafter. The walls within had been adorned with illustrated papers tacked to the logs, not only to keep out the wind, but for decoration.

On the high bed sat one of the most aged beings that ever mortal eyes rested upon. Her stockinged feet rested upon a chair, her long, disheveled white hair fell in tangles down her back and about her shoulders; but oh, her face! It was one not soon to be forgotten. …The ancient visage was plaited with wrinkles, covered and intertwined with lines, furrowed with creases and corrugated with crows' feet. Her age was subject for wild conjecture. … This old woman's figure was clad in homespun, and she rocked her body to and fro … . Her eyes were still sharp and bright, and their glances elfin-like and uncanny.

Suddenly she stopped rocking, felt around the bed with her skeleton-fingers, found her tin snuffbox, opened the lid, and then took from the bosom of her dress a stick about the size of a lead pencil, with one end chewed fine; this she rolled around in the snuff; next, she lifted her lips with the fingers of her left hand, while with her right she rubbed the stick along her blackened, toothless gums, wiping up the grains of snuff from the outside of her mouth with her long, flexible, discolored tongue; then she wiped the saliva from her mouth with the back of her hand, which in turn was cleaned by rubbing it on the bedclothes. Then she gave a sniff of content, and sat—her senses steeped in dreamy repose.

It was the first time I had ever seen anybody "dip snuff,"… . At the foot of the bed a little boy sat rocking a cradle, in which was an infant not over a week old. The cradle and the grave were cheek by jowl.

"The cradle and the grave were cheek by jowl."
We decided to go farther and seek other quarters, …We met with success at the next house, and though the houses were mostly alike, this one was clean. A huge fire was made, and our host sold us a gallon of Catawba wine. We decided to stay, though behind a hanging blanket was a bed wherein four daughters of our host, aged anywhere from sixteen to twenty-five, lay snugly tucked in. …

In the morning, before we awoke, the girls got up and cooked the breakfast, and, on our return, after we had made our ablutions at the branch just below the house, we found the beds made, the floor swept, and a hot meal of Johnny cakes, bacon and coffee awaiting us.

Goose Creek Island is one of the most inaccessible, un-come-at-able places to be found in the South. Its area comprises several thousand acres; its soil is unusually fertile, and admirably adapted for the raising of stock. The island is surrounded for many miles inland by almost impassable swamps. Access by water is had through a narrow, tortuous channel only navigable by the smaller craft. For miles around the water outside of the passageway is only a few inches deep, a worthless stretch of water, too shallow for fish and too deep for agriculture. Hence the islanders lead a very retired and isolated life, practically as much shut off from the world as if they were in the middle of the Atlantic.

There are about 250 houses on the island, mostly cabins, though there are several well-to-do planters, who, educated and refined, keep aloof from the poor and illiterate inhabitants. The women of the latter class are buxom, but with no symmetry of form—not one of them wears corsets. … The girls are shy and retiring, but they are daughters of Eve, and in their way strive to keep up with the latest fashions. Their dresses are made principally of calico, cut straight, and many of them use bustles; but as newspapers are scarce, they use dried sea-grass bunched in a knot, and as their dresses are not fashioned long in the back they tilt up in a most comical manner, displaying to a looker-on an expansive view of their homemade yarn stockings.

The Goose Creek Island women are immeasurably superior to the men in everything; they are good, modest, and hard-working, and they labor from morning till night. All of them have peculiar, pathetic, mournful-looking eyes, and they all use snuff. … One is apt to conclude that, after all, these listless people are the happiest of their kind; and, barring chills, their existence is one of passive content.

The creed of the Goose Creek Islander is that the wood, the water and the wilderness is free to all. In the late fall nearly every able-bodied man among them starts off to Currituck and other shooting-grounds where the Northern sportsmen most abound, to serve as guides and hangers-on. Most of the Northern club-men are very wealthy and they scatter their money lavishly, and the Goose Creek Islanders receive so much for so little service that they become spoiled, and charge enormously for everything they are called upon to do. …

Having purchased our provisions, our trio put back to the light-house. The wintry weather, interspersed with storms, kept us on the Point, and we found that our anticipated sport of brant shooting was illusive as a dream, for every brant had suddenly disappeared. The solution was easy: some of the islanders had been shooting them in the night, and scared them off for good and all.

In a few days our situation grew desperate. Our stock of food, thanks to Tim, was well-nigh exhausted; bacon, hard-tack, flour, sugar, coffee, were all gone, and we were living on corn-bread, rain-water, and ducks. But we were sick of ducks; we felt like the Welsh vicar, when he said grace:

" For ducks hot, and ducks cold,
For ducks young, and ducks old,
For ducks tender, and ducks tough,
We thank Thee, Lord, we've had enough."

The shipwrecked mariner was never more anxious to leave his abode than my comrade and myself were to get off this desolate sandbank; but the winds still held high carnival, and a sail of some twenty miles out in the sound to catch the Newberne boat was more than Tim was willing to undertake.

One morning we saw the U. S. tender Violet beating to windward, so we hastened to the top of the tower, and made frantic signals to them to send a boat ashore. We could see through the spyglass the officers consulting on the quarter-deck, but evidently the waves were too high for them to think of launching their pinnace.

At last, when our cupboard was almost as bare as Mother Hubbard's, and we were living on fat meat, meal and rain-water, the welcome sound of a steamer's whistle was heard. We had joyfully collected our traps and made ready to go, but what was our astonishment when Tim absolutely refused to sail about a half mile out to meet the Manteo unless we paid him fifteen dollars.

"Well," said Boreas, " if this doesn't take the rag off the bush! These people don't know what gratitude is! Just think what I have given that man—all my spare underclothing, boots, hat, handkerchiefs, ammunition enough to last him half his life, tobacco that will keep his jaws moving and his pipe full for the balance of the year, fed him like an alderman, wined him like a lobbyist, and now to be blackmailed in this manner ! I won't pay, that's flat!"

We sat there looking at each other, too angry to speak. … But it was no use to kick; Tim held the trump cards, and he knew it, for he reclined on the seat of the boat with an air of supreme indifference. We could not afford to remain, it would be days before another steamer would pass the place, and we were threatened with absolute famine.

All this time the boat was approaching rapidly, and whatever was done must be done at once. So we were perforce compelled to submit to the extortion, and we paid the money. … So we cashed up, Tim hoisted sail, and in a few minutes we were safe on the steamer's deck. Tim shouted good-by most cordially, and said we must be sure to let him know when we came again to those parts.

[This story was taken from The huntsman in the South, by Alexander Hunter, 1908. This is a Google book.]

Alexander Hunter

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Comprehensive Synopsis
of the Golden Leaf

By Willis Boice Walker

Opening day tobacco sales used to be a big event in Rocky Mount. One of the things I remember from my childhood was that we went to the ice house and the man at the ice house took a tin cup and dipped down into the thing that was freezing the blocks of ice. He got some water and let us drink it. It was so cold it made your teeth ache. It was just before freezing. That was something we didn't have at home.

It was a treat, while we were at the tobacco market, to watch auctioneers like Tom Kent Jones from Nashville and some of the buyers that were almost as comical as he was. Also, while you were in the warehouse, you could buy a popsicle. People had "dry ice” boxes and they sold the popsicles. Going to the tobacco market was more or less like going to a festival. The tobacco market put new money into circulation.

In eastern North Carolina, "the opening" meant the first sale day of flue cured tobacco. Tobacco had replaced cotton as king of crops throughout the South and wielded its influence in some way on nearly every person within the area, the nation and the world. Percentage-wise, there will probably never be another product that will be as important as tobacco was in this area. Every farm had a tobacco allotment, and all the owners either grew tobacco themselves or rented their allotted acreage for a premium price.

Tobacco Sale in Progress in Rocky Mount, Nash or Edgecombe County, NC Warehouse
In the beginning, the parity program was started on an acreage basis. Each farmer could plant a certain number of acres. It was later amended and the allotment was based on pounds—a pound limit on each participating farm. The original tobacco farmer's main concern was a high quality cured leaf from bottom to top. Poundage with quality was a bonus, but if a farmer had to sacrifice something, it was always poundage. His reputation weighed on the average price per pound and the single high dollar sale. To achieve this meant separating and placing each leaf into its proper grade. Government graders checked each pile of tobacco on the warehouse floor prior to sale time and placed a tag on it with the proper grade clearly marked.

Although not guaranteed, the government grade helped the grower to decide, after the sale, whether to accept the buyer's offered price or "turn the tag," rejecting the offer and maybe, after some manicuring and waiting for the next day's sale, re-sell it for a higher price.

This privilege created the "pin hooker." Walter Tharrington was a pin hooker on the local tobacco market. A pin hooker was an independent buyer without processing capability. He bought piles of tobacco along with the regular buyers at the auction sales. He'd bid on mostly un-manicured or mixed grades, maybe some green tobacco or maybe what we called soft or very damp tobacco. He would re-work the tobacco, usually without removing it from the warehouse floor. He would get the tobacco re-graded and then put it back on the market and re-sell it. After the re-grading, it would bring more money than it did when it was all mixed up or when it was in poor condition. It was not unusual for the re-sale price to more than double the original price. The pin hooker had to have ready cash, post a tidy bond and pay his helpers. His sharp eye and good judgment were his biggest assets.

The warehouse owner, or his proxy, the auctioneer, ticket marker, bill writer, and the required number of buyers representing the required number of companies all had to be on hand before a sale could begin. The warehouseman would reach down and pick up about three bundles from the pile, hold it to his nose, and yell out a suggested opening bid and the auctioneer would take off on his spiel.

The buyers gave hand signals to the auctioneer who called out in an audible voice the high bid and the name of the buying company. The bill writer recorded this with a lead pencil and, between opening bids and closing bids, totaled the figures. The ticket marker marked the tag and left it sticking in the so-called basket of tobacco. Runners carried the bill-of-sale to the warehouse office and the warehouse wrote checks to each seller.
Tobacco Buyers at Sale

Next stop, the bank— which sets the scene for the most electrified, effervescent atmosphere throughout the town that you can imagine. To explain this exciting aura, let us pick a time just prior to the do-it-all tractor and unborn herbicides, pesticides, and big-time irrigation—before the big war, World War II.

The process began when the grower selected a wooded or virgin area that contained well composted soil, natural drainage terrain and, if possible, weather protection from the north and east. This would be what was known as "The Plant Bed."

The next step was selecting and marking the standing trees that would form the border and support frame for the canvas cover. There again, be reminded, this was before one piece covers, so the canvas material was available only in four foot widths and came rolled on so-called spools. It was referred to as a bolt of canvas. A sewing machine and a sewing wife or daughter were a must in most cases, and even if you were fortunate enough to possess both, there were still limits to how much bulk could be handled while sewing. That controlled the length and width of the finished cover.

Tobacco Plant Bed Layoout

To compensate for the canvas limitations the beds were planned and laid out in rectangular grids. This was after first cutting the selected trees for the border-support, leaving them full length and fully trimmed, somewhere near the site. It was important to leave at least three feet of stump when sawing down the trees. This allowed for a hook-up and leverage in removing it. A shovel, a grubbing hoe, and an axe usually got everything but the tap root. Two mules and chain finished the job. In case there happened to be a real large tree, it was cut as low as possible and left as it was.

After all trees, bushes, briars and weeds above the surface were removed there still remained a network of large and small roots. An axe, an adz and a grubbing hoe were necessary to cut the roots and loosen the soil to the point that a five-tooth rake was able to remove the roots and prepare the soil for a very small application of fertilizer before planting the tobacco seeds.

The seeds came from selected plants of the previous crop that, instead of being "topped" (the top broken off and discarded), were left standing until they reached full maturity. The entire top was cut off and hung indoors to dry. Each bloom produced a pod which contained hundreds of seeds. A stalk's entire bloom would yield thousands of the tiny seeds. In fact, they were so tiny that they had to be mixed with some other ingredient like sand, and broadcast thinly over the planting area to keep the new plants from being too close together to tend.

The newly sown plant bed was raked over (by hand) with a multiple tooth yard rake, which served two purposes. It left the seeds covered at the desired depth and also removed small roots and twigs. All of the roots, stumps and other refuse were piled in one large pile and allowed to dry before it was burned.

We were then ready to put the poles in place that would form the football field-like grid. The pre-selected trees were measured and cut to produce almost the same diameter from end to end and would need only to be placed in position.

Before the bed was covered with the canvas, we visited what we called a reed mash and cut enough slender four-foot reeds to support the canvas cover inside the grid. This was done by sticking one end of the reed in the ground and bending it over to form an arch and then sticking the other end in the ground at about a 45o angle. The height of the arch would be approximately 12 inches.

In order to simplify the process of putting the protective cover over the bed, it was first sewn with an imaginary grid in mind. The areas of suspension were pleated and double-pleated. This allowed the canvas to be attached by impaling it over outward angled nails on one side and stretching from the other side and impaling it there on outwardly protruding nails.

The canvas remained on the plant bed until late March or early April and protected the plants from freezing while allowing enough sunlight, rain and air for them to mature. While the plants were germinating, weed and grass weed were also germinating, making it mandatory to remove the faster growing weeds by hand, one at a time, without harming the tobacco plants. This was a common curse and fittingly referred to as "weeding the plant bed."

As soon as frost was no longer a threat the canvas was pulled off to allow the plants to finish maturing and get tough enough to be transplanted without causing them harm. The earliest form of transplanting was done with a pistol-grip carved peg, and always following a "freshet," preferably a slow, soaking rain. This allowed the plants to be set out without being watered. Hand operated mechanical setters with their own reservoir and riding machine transplanters came later.

Frank Nobles With Tobacco Setter
The setter held both plant and water.
In order to grow wrappers the tobacco plants had to be spaced far enough apart to provide unobstructed growth while allowing as much direct sunlight as possible to aid in the ripening process. A 24 inch leaf was very common in the body part of the stalk, so some growers built a sled-like, horse-drawn contraption and marked off the rows at four feet by crossing them. This was referred to as "planting four feet on the hill," and also left scads of space to be chopped and plowed before the final tilling or being "laid by." In the meantime it was a never ending job to hand pick and kill any worms that might have escaped the reach of our turkey flock.

After marking the choice stalks to be used for seed, the tops were broken out of all the remaining plants. This caused the suckers to start growing and, to prevent them from sapping the rest of the stalk, they had to be broken out. A sucker emerges between the leaf and the stalk and grows 10 to 1 in relation to the rest of the plant. Left unbroken, suckers will take up almost half the weight of the harvested leaf.

Topping Tobacco, Shows Flower and Seeds
The tobacco barning period was usually from July through August. The field croppers or primers were required to have a good knowledge of tobacco harvesting so as not to pull green tobacco before it ripened. After cropping, the leaves were placed in a home-made, mule-drawn, slide truck and taken to the barnyard where handers, loopers and pilers attached the tobacco to a wooden stick with a ball of cotton thread called tobacco twine. The stringing crew was made up of two loopers and four handers, and the job did not require a college education to perform. The time required to crop a truck of tobacco matched the time it took to string it, so it balanced well.

Priming Tobacco
Hanging the looped sticks of tobacco in the barn was not random placing on the tier poles. It was carefully spaced to allow air circulation and prevent scalding. The curing barn consisted of one or two furnaces or one twin furnace and 12-inch galvanized flues around the perimeter and through the adjacent center. The taller smoke stack usually exited the barn directly over the furnace for two reasons—good support and it was surrounded by bricks and mortar, not wood.
Hanging Looped Tobacco on Rack

Three days and nights were needed to complete the curing cycle. Constant evaluation of the leaf and stoking the wood fire meant someone had to sit with the barn all night and day. The stages were basically yellowing, setting the color, drying the leaf, and drying the stems. In order to remove the bone dry, brittle tobacco from the barn, it had to absorb enough moisture to become limp enough to handle without crumbling. Sometimes, after pulling the fire and leaving the door open all night to allow the tobacco to absorb moisture, we still had to haul water and wet the ground floor to get the tobacco "in order."
Checking the temperature in the barn as the tobacco cures.

The average person could not reach high enough to pile a whole barn of fresh cured tobacco on a regular big wheel wagon, so we built a block wheel wagon using 16-inch diameter, 12-inch wide solid round wooden blocks. By making the flat bed body wider than a stick of tobacco and longer than a normal wagon, we could easily put a large barn of tobacco on it with no strain at all. With careful piling, we could even transport green tobacco to a distant curing barn. One big pack house would hold one year's yield of cured tobacco, but it had to be transferred to the combination grading room-ordering pit for the final preparation.

Unloading tobacco from truck to basket for sale.
Grading tobacco involved opening each leaf between the hands and, according to its feel and color, placing it one of seven or eight grades. The grading bench was a C-shaped bench with maybe nine one-inch holes evenly spaced into which was inserted a 4-foot dowel. The upper dowels separate the graded leaves and the lower dowels separate the tied bundles. The bundles were formed by grasping an equal hand full of leaves by the stems and folding a single leaf to form a ribbon and beginning with the top, lay the first band before continuing candy stripe fashion, about three inches. Then you would take the 3 or 4 inch tail and pass it through the loose leaves. If done properly it would not come un-tied before reaching the factory.

The bundles were saddle mounted on smooth splinter-less sticks and pressed by a six foot board with someone standing on each end of the pressing board. The "starched and ironed" condition enabled the warehouse labor to remove one half of the stick as the farmer extended it from his load and place it neatly on the saucer-like baskets. Every bundle in place, the farmer would reverse the stick ends and the other half was removed. The farmer kept his sticks.

No pile of tobacco could exceed 300 pounds. A full sale would have six rows of 60 piles each. This was divided into a morning sale of three hours and an afternoon sale of three hours. Sales activities were planned to accommodate the fact that even though sales were going on, the warehouse remained open to receive, weigh and place on the reserved part of the floor any tobacco coming in during the actual sale. Competition as well as security dictated a 24/7 season, including holidays.

The crowd, the one of a kind odor of flue-cured tobacco, and the exciting mystical chant of the auctioneer formed an imaginary picture in our minds of all the good things we had worked and hoped for and that were finally materializing to the tune of the auctioneer's song: "Fortee-one-do-da-dah-dollar-bid-SOLD-AMERICAN!"

[This story was first published in A Rainbow in the West, by Willis Boice Walker, 2008. The photographs are taken from Bright Leaf Tobacco: Economic Gold in Northeastern NC, compiled and edited by Billie Jo Works Matthews. The drawings were done by Boice Walker.]

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


1 Gallon boiled rain water
5 heaping tbsp. soda
2 oz. Spirits of Ammonia
1 oz. Spirits of Peppermint

Mix all together in a gallon jug and drink an ounce or so as needed. This may be kept in refrigerator in a small bottle and refill as needed.
By Martha Ann Lucas Credle Jarvis
(Born 1830; Died 1901)
Submitted by Mrs. Betty S. Mann, Fairfield, NC

Published in High Tides, Hyde County Historical Society Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2, 1980

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Few Words About Mister Ganey

“As a finale to the record of characters whom I personally knew around Wilmington it would not be just to omit one who was unique, if not distinguished, in my early recollections of the town. The facts in regard to him, as given here, are nearly literally true, and may serve to illustrate a phase of our ante-bellum civilization which is not familiar to the present generation, and for their benefit I record them in the following form.

Ganey—Mr. Ganey, as he preferred to be called— was a curiosity; one of those half-witted creatures who occasionally startle us with an observation that sounds uncomfortably like satire. He lived in a cabin in the woods, worked sometimes, when obliged to, in the surrounding turpentine forest, but subsisted chiefly on the charity of the neighboring planters. Although "innocent of the trammels of spelling," and as superstitious as the most ignorant (person), he regarded himself as much better than his poor neighbors. He even assumed an air of familiarity—but in a very solemn way—with the gentlemen to whose houses he paid his periodical begging visits, and was extremely sensitive to any fancied slight on such occasions. In imitation of them he thought it incumbent on him to carry an umbrella, and wear a high hat and gloves of some kind, and he recognized no distinction as to the time when this was to be done; so that, even when chipping turpentine (by an act of trespass on some planter's land) he might sometimes be seen arrayed in a cast-off stove-pipe hat and tattered cotton gloves, and carrying a faded umbrella in one hand, and a turpentine hacker in the other. He liked to be "mistered" when spoken to, and a failure to so dignify him was sure to be responded to by a similar neglect to attach a handle to the name of the person thus addressing him. He had contracted from the local piney woods preachers a habit of droning his words through his nose, and of adding, with an indescribable emphasis, "er" to every third or fourth one, without regard to whether it was a proper name or not. Strange to say, too, he was—perhaps from an incapacity to appreciate danger—absolutely fearless. He borrowed a gun on one occasion and went to a public gathering to demand satisfaction from a leading and wealthy planter for some alleged indignity to him. When asked what he was carrying a gun for, he replied that he was "a totin' it for that wolf-er." "What wolf do you mean?"

"I mean that Mc er," he replied; and the gentleman referred to having just then made his appearance on the round, Ganey would have shot him if he had not been knocked down and disarmed. As soon as he recovered his feet he attempted a second assault, and to the magistrate who seized him and commanded the peace he said:

"You git out'n the way-er, you's a Dimmycrat-er, an' me and him's both Whigs-er."

When food for powder was getting very scarce during the war between the States Ganey was conscripted. He had escaped service up to that time because nobody would enlist him, but they took him at last. He was not afraid of the fighting that was in prospect, but he did have a mortal aversion to being ordered about "like a (poor person)," and made to sleep on the ground, and go hungry, and barefooted, and ragged, as he had seen some of the soldiers doing. So, when he was being brought into town, rigged out in his old stove-pipe hat and cotton gloves, and while crossing a deep and wide stream in a ferry boat, he suddenly stepped overboard, to the astonishment and dismay of the guard, and, disappearing for a moment, rose again serenely to the surface and began to float off, looking like a bottle with a long stopper in it. He was rescued and, on being asked how he managed to float, as he did not seem to try to swim, replied:

"I reckin the Lord done it-er—but I was a'treadin' water-er."

After an interview with the conscript officer, during which he solemnly swore that he was sixty-five years old, although not over forty, if that, it was thought best to put him in the Home Guard, and accordingly he was furnished with an old musket and sent to a sea-coast village which was garrisoned by a Home Guard regiment and a few regular troops. It was a very hot day and the road was through deep sand all the way. After trudging for two or three hours along this road he at last arrived in the village, and upon turning a corner of the street he came to a house with a wide piazza fronting the harbor, and discovered sitting on the piazza in his shirt-sleeves, reading a newspaper and looking exceedingly comfortable, an elderly gentleman whom he at once recognized as the proprietor of a large plantation in the county and whom he had often seen sitting on the county court bench. He immediately halted, brought his old musket down with a thud in the sand, wiped the streams of perspiration from his face with his sleeve, and without other salutation, said:

"I'd like to know how it is-er, that we poor folks-er has to come a-walkin' and a-sweatin'-er through the sand-er, for to fight the battles of the country-er, and you swell heads-er is a-settin' on your piazzas a-keepin' cool-er?"

"Good morning, Ganey," said the gentleman, without noticing the inquiry.

"Good mornin', Green-er," replied Ganey, resenting the neglect to "mister" him, "but you haint answered my question-er."0

"Well, Ganey, the reason I am sitting here, and don't turn out with the soldiers is that I am an officer of the regiment."

"You are an officer of the regiment-er? What officer are you-er?"

"I am the Commissary."

"You are the Commissary-er ? What is a Commissary-er?"

"A Commissary is the man that provides rations for the troops—that feeds them."

"A Commissary is the man-er that provides rations for the troops-er, that feeds them?" Well, what are we gwine to have for dinner today-er?

"Really, I don't know, Ganey."

"You don't know-er? Well, you're not fittin' to be a Commissary-er; I'm a-gwine home-er."

And he did go and was allowed to remain there.

One of Ganey's peculiarities was his inordinate fondness for ham, which he conceived to be the most aristocratic of all dishes, and sufficient, if supplemented by wheat bread, to satisfy the most fastidious palate. Bacon in any other form, and corn bread, were objects of his special contempt, the reason being that those articles constituted the standard dishes of the poor whites and (blacks). Nothing short of extreme hunger and the inability to get other food could induce him to eat them. For a ham, however, and some flour he was always willing to sacrifice his pride, even to the extent of working, and the possession of these articles completely filled the measure of his happiness, and brought the umbrella, stove-pipe hat and gloves into continuous use while the larder held out.

The progress of the war, however, resulted in a steady reduction of the number of these seasons of happiness for him, and hams became correspondingly more precious in his sight.

Finally, when all was over, and the Northern soldiers took possession, Ganey, who had not seen a ham in a long time, learned that the Government Commissary in town was distributing rations to the half-starved people, and he thereupon started for the scene of action. His habiliments were more picturesque than ever. His head—which looked as if it had been driven into his shoulders with a force that bent them—was covered by a "bell-crown" of the year 1856, and his clothes consisted of a threadbare and shiny "claw-hammer" of still earlier date, which displayed a waist of excessive length and a tail that appeared to have begun to grow out of it but had never reached maturity, and a pair of baggy cotton trousers. Supplementing these, he wore a pair of gloves which suggested a compromise between mittens and cavalry gauntlets, and the melancholy remains of a pair of Confederate shoes. His umbrella—originally a green cotton one, now colorless except where patched—was used as a walking cane, and with the rib ends tied around the handle, resembled a balloon in the first stages of inflation. As thus arrayed, and walking in the middle of the road leading to town, visions of ham—boiled ham, fried ham, and raw ham—and of flour in barrels, sacks, buckets, or cooked as bread, floated before him and quickened his gait. He did not "let on" to anybody the condition of his mind or stomach, but, as he afterwards confessed, he did "natally hone after ham and flour vittles."

Underlying this longing appetite, however, there was a feeling of dissatisfaction with the business for which he had started to town. He had always regarded his levy of contributions on the surrounding planters as not only legitimate but as a sort of vested right which had been confirmed by long acquiescence on their part but he had never seen any "Yankees"— except a foraging party, who were not engaged in distributing charity—and, being uncertain as to how he might be treated, and withal a little shaky generally in regard to the outcome of the business, he insensibly slackened his pace as he approached the ferry—the same ferry which had been the scene of his floating exploit.

There was a guard of blue-coats there, who were greatly tickled by his appearance, and who chaffed him a little, but good-naturedly sent him on with a word of encouragement, at which his spirits began to revive rapidly. At last he reached the town and meeting a citizen, said:

"Mister, whur's the Commissary-er ?"

"At that large store, yonder," answered the man, pointing to a building into and out of which persons were passing, and then laughing in spite of himself at Ganey's outlandish rig.

Now, Ganey did not know the name of the Commissary, and was therefore entirely ignorant of the fact that he bore the same name as the Commissary of the Home Guard, for whose knowledge of his duties he had expressed such contempt .

He went to the building designated, and upon entering saw what he thought was the most entrancing sight his eyes ever rested on. An apparently countless number of flour barrels were piled over the wide floors, and hams by the hundred were hanging up, or scattered around, loose. Women and children were being supplied by the clerks with provisions of all sorts, and the rush of business quite bewildered him. Several young men of the town had been employed by the Commissary to assist in the work of distribution, and to designate the most needy of the applicants for assistance. One of these young men recognized Ganey as soon as he came in, but said nothing, knowing that Ganey did not remember him, even if he had ever seen him before, and having heard the story of his conversation with the Home Guard Commissary, and remembering the identity of the names of the two commissaries he at once resolved to have a little fun.

Every moment of his stay in the store seemed to enlarge the hollow in Ganey's anatomy, until he felt as if his whole interior was a howling wilderness. He looked and ached, going farther and farther into the store until he reached a point in front of the clerk, when the latter very politely inquired what he wished.

"I want to see the Commissary-er."

"You'll have to send in your name before he will see you, he's very busy just now."

'My name's Ganey-er, George Washington Ganey - er."

"Ah! Ganey's your name, is it ? Then you are the man that insulted him, and told him he was a very ignorant Commissary not to know what the soldiers were going to have for dinner1—and all that sort of thing. What do you want to see him for ?"

The expression on Ganey's face was indescribable.

"He told us," added the clerk, "that you would probably come in for a little help, and to be on the lookout for you."

"Who told you-er?" asked Ganey, with a wild look.

"I said the Commissary told us," answered the clerk.

"The Yankee Commissary-er? "Do you wish to insult Captain Green again, by calling him a Yankee ?" said the clerk, sharply. "Captain Green-er.”

"Yes, yes, Captain Green, the Commissary, the man that provides rations for the troops, that feeds 'em."

Poor Ganey! The hams and flour barrels seemed to be receding from his gaze, to be fading in the dim distance never to return, while the figure of Captain Green, sitting in his shirt sleeves, with a newspaper in his hands which fluttered in the breeze, rose up mockingly between him and this vision of bliss. His countenance assumed an expression of despair which was pitiful to see, and the heart of the clerk failed him in presence of such evident suffering. Finally he said:

"Mr. Ganey, Captain Green is a good, kind man, and I'll go into the office and see him for you. Perhaps he will not be hard with you."

Back again came the vision, slowly, but each moment more distinctly, until the world seemed to him to be a vast plain of snow-white flour, studded with golden hams.

"But here comes the Captain, now," and while Ganey looked anxiously for the elderly gentleman whom he knew, a fine looking young man walked out towards them and the clerk, addressing him, said:

"Captain Green, this is Mr. Ganey who wishes to see you," and immediately disappeared, leaving the two confronting each other.

The Captain thought this was the rarest specimen of a native he had yet encountered, and, regarding him for a moment during which he tried hard to keep his countenance, he said:

"Well, sir, what do you wish to see me about?"

"Are you the Commissary-er?


"That feller told me-er, Capt'n Green were the Commissary-er," said Ganey, with indignation.

Well, that was right; I am Captain Green."

Not until then did the truth dawn on Ganey, and it lifted a great weight from his heart. He looked around upon the wealth of hams and flour with an inexpressible longing, and then said:

"I heerd you was a-givin' out-er of rations-er, and I come to git some-er,—some ham-er and flour-er," the last words being uttered in a tone of almost pathetic anxiety.

"Were you in the rebel army ?" asked the Captain.

"They tuck me-er for the Home Guard-er, but I left the fust day-er," quickly answered Ganey; and he felt that he was getting closer to the hams and flour.

"Because," said the Captain, "we reserve the best rations for the rebel soldiers and their families."

Ganey almost fainted, and the entire stock of hams and flour seemed to have been suddenly snatched away by an evil spirit .

In despair he asked:

"What d'ye call-er the best rations-er ?"

"Oh, fresh meats, canned meats and vegetables, sugar and coffee and the like," answered the Captain.

Ganey had never seen any canned meat and did not know what the phrase meant, but he hoped— Oh! how he hoped it did not not mean ham. So, with almost a wail in his voice, he asked the question, and, upon receiving a negative answer, the vision re-appeared to him with more vividness than ever, and under its influence he almost forgot his "ers" in stating his case and the necessity of ham and flour to his very existence. The Captain was, as the clerk said, a good, kind man, and recognizing the situation he overwhelmed Ganey with astonishment by giving him two hams, a small sack of flour and some other things, with he eagerly seized upon and started off with, merely saying, as he left:

"I wish you well-er."

As he went out of town, fairly staggering under his load, he met the Commissary of the Home Guard who hailed him and said:

"Why, Ganey, you must have been to see the Yankee Commissary."
"Yes, and he knows what I'm gwine to have-er for dinner to-day-er!"

From: Alfred Moore Waddell, SOME MEMORIES OF MY LIFE [Raleigh, NC: Edwards and Broughton Printing Company, 1908: p. 61 -71.