Tennessee Records Repository

Decatur Co. TN


From Lillye Younger, People of Action (Decatur County Printers, 1983).

Special thanks to Constance Collett and the estate of Lillye Younger for permission to make this web page.

Lillye Younger

Great Gardeners

By Lillye Younger

Can you Imagine trying to live in a world where there isn't enough to eat? Think about the Bible famines. Then turn your thoughts to the luscious tomatoes, green beans, and various vegetates.

One example of a huge success is the vegetables raised by a family living on Presley Ridge. It's Eathel and Dorskie Austin.

Many gardeners have had the experience of planning something great in a garden only to see their plans wither in the lateness of the calendar from putting off the chore too long. Not so with these gardeners. Despite the unfavorable weather last spring they started their two gardens in February. They cultivate the second garden for their neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Ollie B. Ricketts, who are unable to work.

"I really enjoy gardening," Eathel said. "I've gardened all my life." She recalls helping her mother in the garden when she was a little girl and the desire boiled over into adulthood. "I'm in the garden from daylight till dark, however I come in the house during the midday heat."

Not only do they cultivate spring gardens but it pours over into the fall when they start again. They already have the fall garden going.

Modem equipment isn't used in the cultivation. Dorskie has a horse he has owned for 19 years that he gardens with. "The trained horse can do almost any thing but talk," he admitted with a broad smile.

It's almost unbelievable the amount of good they garner from Mother Earth each year. Their big crop of Irish potatoes enables them to sell a few bushels. "This is the first time we ever sold anything from the garden. We furnish our four children and share with our neighbors." "I put up a whole lot in cans and freeze quite a bit," the friendly blonde gardener explained. She has been engaged in canning since early spring and has a bulging pantry yet she is still at it. Among the vegetables from which she had to choose are corn, rattlesnake beans, and three other varieties of beans, four kinds of tomatoes, two of squash, carrots, okra, English peas, field peas, beets, sweet potatoes, butter beans, cabbage, cucumber, and mustard. Of course they had early radishes, onions, lettuce, hot and sweet peppers. Their cucumbers are 18 inches in length and some of the cabbage weighed 19 pounds a head.

Despite the fact that plastic gardens have become so popular they don't interest the Austins. The ground is broke and prepared by "old Dan" their beloved horse of many gardens. "Those plastic gardens are entirely too small for our needs" the attractive housewife noted.

"Our son told Dorskie and I that we should quit gardening, it's too hard on us." Dorskie suffers from arthritis but we look forward to gardening so that we do armchair gardening during the cold winter months when the snow is on the pound," she concluded.

The white farm house, flanked by a full length front porch, lined with hanging baskets filled with flowers not only shelters the gardeners for .the winter but the energetic wife has a number of quilts she has made. She pieced twelve quilts last winter and quilted six of them last spring. Work is her constant companion.

They are the parents of two daughters, Mrs. Swain Ruth of Memphis, and Mrs. Hugh Powers of Parsons and a son, Bill Austin who lives nearby.

Boyd Fielder Hufstedler

Born December 1917, Perry Co., Tennessee, son of Samuel Boyd Hufstedler and Cora Hornor Denton.

Fielder worked in another section of the county until he retired to his farm in Perry County. The following article was sent to me from Velma, Okla. by Mr. Donald Grit, Williamsport, Pa. in May 1968. It was written by Lillye Younger, and even has a picture of the pond on the farm, and is entitled Bachelor Bullfrog Keeper, and is as follows:

Gone are the days when bullfrogs lose their legs to provide someone with an evening meal. That is, if they are lucky enough to live in a sanctuary provided for them by a retired bachelor on his Tennessee farm.

A large sign says keep out to any intruders who might want to get too close to the privileged frogs in Fielder Hufstedler's fence-enclosed pond in Perry County. Hufstedler built the double wire fence after some curious youngsters invaded the pond and gigged some of his prize frogs. The inner fence, about3 feet from the water s edge, is one inch square mesh. This is enclosed by a net fence five feet high.

Oddly enough, however, Hufstedler did not originally set out to raise frogs. "I built the pond," he explained, "to keep minnows in, but the weeds choked it up until I couldn't set the minnow traps and get them out. The bullfrogs came in and sort of took over the place, and now I have a pond full of jumbo frogs weighing from 11/2 lbs. to one lb.

Mr. Hufstedler has been most helpful to the writer in gathering info. on the various families in Perry County.

Texas Farmer 'Fell In Love With The Scenery'

By Lillye Younger

BATH SPRINGS. Tenn. -A flight of a Texas family in their private plane over Bath Springs while on vacation culminated into a change of address. Mr. and Mrs. Lonnie Glasacock Jr. of Corpus Christi, Texas. looked downward and Mrs. Glasscock caught sight of "Eagle Nest Island" located in the middle of the Tennessee river one and a half miles south of Bath Springs post office.

Landing their plane at Clifton, they met an acquaintance, Bill Cobb, landowner, and former state senator, who showed them the island and the terrain.

The result of the experienced five farms equaling 2500 acres near the Tennessee river in Clifton bend. "I fell in love with the scenery," Mrs. Glasacock said, while on our summer vacation three years ago."

The landowners have introduced a new type of farming in Decatur County. They use fewer laborers and more money in operation. Advancement in mechanization of farm operations and use of chemicals in farming best describe their method. The shift has proven very successful.

"We use chemicals completely in crop production and machines for harvesting," said Lonnie III, 23, who returned from the Armed forces last spring. We rely on bulletins from the extension service and farm publications for information in order to keep up with the new methods.

The Glasscocks run a 990 acre cotton, soybean and corn farming operation. "We have only had to hire three laborers to help with the harvesting. They have two overseers, Douglas Alley and Robert Kelley. The acreage include 570 acres of soybeans, 70 acres of cotton and 350 acres of corn. They don't raise livestock.

We practice crop diversification, the young man said. The margin of profit in farming is so slim it requires volume. If one crop misses the other may hit. For a second crop we raise wheat in winter behind the corn, he explained. They harvested 8,000 bushels of wheat this year.

Fourteen storage bins tower skyward on the plantation. They are in the process of being filled with corn and soybeans. Two other bins are being constructed.

"It took us a week to erect our first storage bin," Glasscock said, "but now we can construct four a week. Each bin has 1100 bolts in them," he explained.

A huge pit is being dug for fertilizer storage. "We do extensive fertilizing to prevent damaging the land, he said in the two crop yearly production.

A large dryer used for drying soybeans and corn is centered among the huge granary bins. Small piles of soybeans had escaped and fallen on the ground.

"We've spent a lot on machinery", he said. We have five large tractors and use the six to 12 row equipment. The big tractors use a double hitch for 12 rows which cuts down on labor and speeds up production.

Glasscock agrees there are going to be fewer farmers, larger farms and less cotton produced. Our cotton crop this year is far below the average due to the season.

He compares farming in Tennessee with their experience on their 800 acre farm they operate in South Texas. Its entirely different," he said. There we have more sunshine, less rain and farming requires less labor and machinery. Among their other holdings in Texas are oil wells.

Lonnie III shifted into the role of husband when he married an Italian girl whose name is Pinuccia, last April before returning to the states. They live in a trailer near the Tennessee River on the old stagecoach road.

He and his father both plan to build this year. "That is if we can find time, the dark haired slender youth added. "I like this country, it sorta grows on you after awhile."

Presently his parents are living in Clifton just across the river from the bend.

Automatic Equipment Aids Farmer

By Lillye Younger

DECATURVILLE - A Decatur County farmer has opened new vistas in the swine field. William Mac Johnson, farmer and livestock producer, has constructed an ultra-modern confinement swine feeding barn on his farm.

It is designed with 10 pens which are equipped with automatic self-feeders and water fixtures.

Supplying these automatic feeders are two huge metal grain bins, that hold a total of 10,000 bushels of corn and a supplement bin. A heater and dryer system is installed. An automatic grinder-mixer and feed distributor completes the large feeding room.

"The automatic feeders can be operated manually." Johnson explained. "Some time we use the manual system and at other times we just set the machine and it does the work for us."

Assisting Johnson in his swine production is his son, William Mac II, 16, who is a student at Riverside High School and a member of the 4-H Club.

Presently the .Johnsons have a total of 1:100 hogs.

"The confinement barn picks up where the farrowing house leaves off," Johnson pointed

out. "When the pigs are around two months old we transfer them to the barn. Here they remain on the feeding floor for a period of four months. Then they are sold for top hogs weighing from 190 to 220 pounds."

"The barn holds 700 hogs at full capacity and 2100 per year. It was completed last August 15. "We raised 1200 hogs last year," he said. He raises a cross breed type hog," Johnson added.

When asked if the new barn has paid off Johnson said, "I don't know just yet, however it requires less labor and feed." This is the largest swine barn in Decatur County and is an addition to Decatur County Agricultural progress.

"It was a challenge," he said and came at the cost of $16,236.00 however its the fulfillment of a dream of long standing."

Besides the production of swine, Johnson raises corn, hay and cattle on his 300 acre farm. "I raise a portion of the corn I feed but have to buy quite a bit," he said.

"Farming and raising livestock is a way of life to me", he smiled and said. "I've always farmed and enjoy its rewards."

Classcock Finds Perfect Place For Farming

Don't be surprised if you meet friendly folks across the river from Clifton, Tennessee with a healthy western accent and good hospitality. In fact, there's a Texas-size spread developing along the banks of the Tennessee.

It all started seven years ago when Mr. and Mrs. Lonnie Glasseock boarded their private plane near Corpus Christi, Texas, and embarked on a 30-day, 23-state search for a new farm and a new home. Toward the end of the journey, they arrived in Knoxville, Tennessee to begin a search of farmland along the Tennessee River.

"We found several places that met our needs," Glasscock said, "But in most cases the land wasn't for sale." By the time the couple reached Savannah, Tennessee, they had about decided to return to Texas. But Mrs. Glasscock wanted to fly on toward Kentucky. "In the Clifton area we spotted an island in the river," said Glasscock. "Now, every boy has always wanted a cave or an island, so we landed to investigate." The island wasn't for sale either, but after a week in the area, the Glasscocks located their first 500 acres of land and began their farming operations a year or two later. Since then, they've bought more land, including the island.

The Glasscocks established an intensive farming program consisting of cotton, grain, cattle and hog production. Land clearing, miles of fence building, battling weeds, and building a feed mill and grain storage for livestock took much of their time in the early years.

"We were having such a tough time with weeds and grass that we decided to more toward a grass-livestock program rather than to place as much emphasis on growing cash crops," Glasscock said. They had been told of the Tennessee Valley Authority-University of Tennessee program in the Beech River Watershed to bolster agricultural income and land use. The part of the program with potential for the Glasscock farm was TVA's efforts in introducing Midland bermuda grass in the area. "I got enough Midland sprigs from the TVA nursery at Muscle Shoals, Alabama, to establish a two-acre nursery of my own about four years ago," he said. "I sprigged 90 acres from that nursery this year. In between, I contracted the sprigging of several hundred acres with the contractor furnishing sprigs and doing the work We now have about 500 acres of Midland and have set our sights on eventually establishing 1,200 acres for our livestock program."

Glasscock plans to use the Midland mainly for grazing a-long with one or two hay cuttings a year.

As part of its forage development program TVA began introducing Midland and Costal bermuda grass to valley farmers in 1965.

Since then some 75,000 bushels of bermuda grass springs have been distributed to 1,100 farmers in 71 valley counties. This has resulted in the successful establishment of some 2,500 to 3,000 acres of grass. As a direct result of this introductory work an additional 7,500 acres has been established by custom planters and by farmers using their own sprigs. This 10,000 acres of Midland and Coastal bermuda grass thus established has the potential for producing 50,000 tons of hay worth $1.2 million annually.

Ground Hog Day

By Lillye Younger

Will the Ground Hog see his shadow next Saturday? That is the question.

Despite the fact that the older people declare Feb. 14th as Ground Hog Day, today it is acclaimed Feb. 2nd.

What is Ground Hog Day and from whence did it derive?

It's an old legend which has been banded down from generation to generation and today it is as alive as the birds that fly through the air.

The Ground Hog called (woodchuck) first comes out its burrow in which it has slept through the long winter nights on Candlemas Day, Feb. 2nd.

If the sun is shining and the ground hog sees its shadow, it will go back to sleep, and winter will continue for six more weeks. Some say it must see its shadow from 11 until 12 noon. Of course should he not see his shadow spring will burst forth like the giant ball of fire, and will send its warm rays to awaken Mother Earth from her winter's nap. She will turn from brown to green and her handiwork of flowering, jonquils, crocus, tulips, and the like will pop out of the ground like Mexican jumping beans.

Not only will bulbs burst forth but seed from which the fresh vegetables derives will push out of the ground the Farmer's Market and the family table.

Of course if the ground hog refuses to be a conformist and follows in the footsteps of his father and grandfathers he can stage a one ground hog revolt and say, "It's warm down here and I'm comfortable so 1 refuse to come out."

Regardless of his action on Saturday, he will be the main topic of conversation among those who are anxious to know what he has to say about the weather.

Musseling Is Hard, Rewarding Work

By Lillye Younger

PARSONS. Tenn. - Musseling on the Tennessee river is not only a way of life but it is a profitable occupation according to Edd Lee of Perryville.

Lee is a shell buyer for Eastern Interprise Inc., Greensboro. N. C.

"I have 15 diggers who work for me," he said. They are paid by the number of pounds they catch. The best grade shells bring 12-1/2 cents a pound. Most of them earn from $25 to $40 a day digging shells. Their biggest enemy is the wind. When it blows strong the mussels will not bite.

The men work on an average of eight hours a day. Late in the afternoon is the best time of day for the big catch on account of the current." he explained. Spring of the year is the best season, during April and May.

"The method has modernized since I first started digging shells," Lee pointed out. "I started out with a hand boat and pulled the mussel shells up by hand. We made our own equipment out of iron pipes and wires.

"Now we use boats with outboard motors and the brails are raised by motors.". Lee laughed and said, "In a few years it will be a push button operation."

The brails are let down to the bottom of the river where the mussels bed. He opens his mouth for food and when the brail touches his mouth he clamps down on it and then you have him, all you have to do is "pull up." They live on the bottom and are bedded six to eight feet deep, like cordwood, and usually found in water from 75 to 150 feet deep.

Rock hooks are used in rough places to prevent hanging. Mud hooks, which are crooked like a fire poker, are used where there is no rocks.

A new method for catching the musses is Scuba diving. A man dressed in an underwater outfit, with an oxygen tank attached, goes down to the bottom of the river with the help of weights. He holds a basket in one hand and picks up mussels with the other hand and brings them to the surface.

"I had one Scuba diver working for me but the quality of the shells was unsatisfactory for my company and I discontinued the method.

There are several kinds of mussels including the pig toe and others. When the mussels are brought in they are cooked at a camp to get the meat out and the pink and degraded shells are separated from the white ones. Each crew has a mussel camp on the river bank. The mussel meat, which is left, is often used by fishermen for bait.

These shells are picked up at the camp by trucks and stockpiled at the buyers station and packed. They are shipped to Mobile. Ala., by trucks which carry 21 tons per load. From here they go to the Oceanitic Shipping Co. where they are shipped to Japan. Here they are used in he cultural pearl industry. Pelets of mussel shell form the cores around which cultured pearls are formed.

Lee said it would cost around 450 to get into the musseling business as a single digger. He worked on a commission basis. His employees are furnished everything they need to dig .hells.

Not only does buying shells appeal to Edd Lee but it also appeals to his brother, Bernard Lee, who said, "I've been in the business for 40 years." I dug shells for 20 years and have been buying for 20 years.

At one time he worked a crew of 40 men. "I bought green shells by the boatload and loaded them from the boat into a large barge. They were sold to make pearl buttons unitil 1959. Then the plastic button came into being and this killed the sale of pearl ones.

Now he trucks his shells from the camp and sells them loose, which requires no sacking. He sold 18 tons the day he was interviewed to a man from Decatur, Ala.

His crew mussels the Tennessee River, Cumberland River, Ohio River and Cascashie River in Illinois. "Working on a commission is quite pleasant," he says. "I write myself a cheek along with my employees."

"One of the best mussel diggers I ever had was a woman by the name of Louise Perdle of Denver, Tenn. She brought in more shells for me than the men. She made from $40 to $50 a day when she worked for me in 1962.

They reside in Perryville. Edd is 69 years old. Besides his wife, Clyde, he has five sons and two daughters. Bernard is 67 and lives with his wife, Maude. They have five sons and five daughters.

Blacksmiths of 1850 Plentiful In County

By Lillye Younger

Did you know that among occupations listed in Decatur County Census of 1850 the blacksmith rated at the top? That is besides farming and laborers.

A blacksmith was a man who shaped iron or other metals into various things. He made horse-shoes for the farmers and iron utensils for the housewife. Not only did he make horse-shoes but be put them on the horses feet.

The horseshoes were made at a forge, which was a furnace in which metal was shaped by heating and hammering. The material was forced into shape by the "smithy." He also made plow points, tongs, hoes and did repairs. He used an anvil, which was an iron block hammering and shaping of metals.

Due to the fact that the main way of livelihood depended on farming in these early days, it was so necessary to obtain this service, especially in this phosphate county. Also the housewife had to have utensils to prepare the food and iron was the thing.

There are twenty four blacksmiths listed as follows:

Name, Age, Place born

George W. Tucker, 45, N.C.
John Jones, 22, N.C.
John Beaver, 42, NC.
Alfred Haggard, 50, Ga.
John Weaver, 2, Ga.
W. W. Herndon, 21, Ga.
Gilbert McMillan, 66, N.C.
Sampson Essay, 51, Tenn.
Elijah Goodnight, 41, Tenn.
Carroll H. Snodgrass, 18, Tenn..
Dempsey Veal, 80, Va.
Joel Hensly, 27, Tenn.
William B. Herndon, 50, N.C.
S. B. Campbell, 25, N.C.
John Brazlle, 53, Tenn.
Burrell Ivy, 31, N.C.
Thomas J. Essry, 41, N.C.
Nathaniel Moore, 62, NC.
John Olfin, 45, N.C.
John McKnight, 39, La.
J. W. Louis, 23, Tenn..
Joseph Livingston, 21, Tenn..
Samuel Walker, 37, N.C.

Notice that the names of families who are ancestors of those living in Decatur County now are spelled differently in some instances.

The 1850 copy of Decatur County census was transcribed and published by Miss Deane Porch, Nashville, Tenn. in 1970.

The first census taken in the county was in 1850. Previously those persons living in that section of Perry County, which became Decatur, were enumerated in Perry County in 1840. Decatur County was formed in 1845.

The inhabitants of the first district in the county ware enumerated by Jno. C. Yarbro, Assistant Marshal on the 20th day of September 1850.

They Found Their Own Solution To Food Prices

By Lillye Younger

Despite the high cost of living, one Decatur County family has returned to the soil as an escape valve.

Mr. and Mrs. Chester Mays of North Georgia Ave., have been able to cultivate a vegetable garden with the aid of a push plow and hoe.

The amazing part is that they have grown corn that measures 14 feet and four inches with an abundant yield. One unusual stock had 2 ears to develop in the tassle. This is quite a freak - it's hickory cane corn.

Other vegetables include red delicious tomatoes, Kentucky Wonder and half runner beans, squash, cucumbers and okra.

"Due to the rainy season we were unable to plant early vegetables," Mr. Mays said. He jokingly remarked that they held a hoe in one hand and a spray in the other.

Lady bugs invaded their beans however. Mrs. Mays has stored up a lot for winter, given many away and ate some of them also.

Mr. Mays admitted he had to spray the tomatoes every two weeks. He suckered and tied them up for longer bearing.

"This soil is really rich and I added 6-12-12 fertilizer," he said. The garden was formerly cultivated by Joe Younger.

'The vegetables have certainly cut down on our grocery bill," Mrs. Mays admitted. "It will be a great help this winter to us."

The couple have been cultivating gardens since 1915. They are both 78 years young but have the energy of one around 60. Mr. Mays has had nine operations but is whole and hearty.

They have four daughters and three sons.

Farmer And Democrat...

By Margaret Sipes

There are two things Earle Midgett prides himself on - being a farmer and being a Democrat.

On a recent afternoon Earle sat under a shade tree in his yard recalling his days in Nashville as our State Representative. He served three terms during the sixties representing Madison County. His father served three terms in the thirties at the same post.

Two of Earle's terms were spent as a committee chairman and delegate to the Democratic Convention; in '56 when Adelaid Stevenson was the Democratic prospect and in '59 when Kennedy became President.

"Adelaid was kind of like Governor Alexander," mused Earle, "he wore out his soles walking around."

Earle's late wife, Dorothy, who had the first woman's program for T.V. on station WDXI, went to the Chicago convention in '56 to cover the women's happenings. "I'll never forget it," said Earle, "I'd been lugging around her recorder all day and it was heavy as a car battery. We finally got on the elevator and there was Eleanot Roosevelt and her body guards." She said, "I like this little lady - I believe I'll just ride on down with her." And that's how Dorothy got the only interview Mrs. Roosevelt gave at the convention, bragged Earle with a smile of satisfaction.

Now Earle devotes his energy to farming and his horses. "I'm a very peculiar farmer," admits Earle. "I grow horses!" He also grows wheat, soybeans and red clover hay to feed the horses on his 475 acre farm. The Midgett horses aren't the usual riding horses, though he does have a couple of saddle horses for his grandchildren. He buys and races harness horses. Right now his pacers are racing at the paramutual tracks in Henderson, Kentucky. "I live watching horses," says the very like-able Earle who buzzes back and forth between Evansville, Indiana; Kentucky and Fayetteville, Tenn. swapping Pacers and hiring drivers for his rigs. "Horse races are so much better than car races," he says, "the horses just burn up what they eat!"

Earle who says he's like Daniel Boone, "Very unpredictable but I haven't written on any trees yet," enjoys fishing with his grandchildren when he's not racing horses. And whether his story about the frog hunter shooting the thirty pound catfish in his pond is true or not, it's easy to see that one old Grandad on the Old Bells Highway is bound to make a hit with anybody he meets.

Parker Colett Is Still Swinging An Axe

Since the early days he has worked at practically all the operations except sawyer at the mill. "I have snaked the logs from the woods to the wagon with snaking tongues and loaded them enroute to the sawmill.

"Of course I will have to say that all the jobs I have filled, making cross ties was the hardest," he smiled and admitted.

He is presently employed on a full time basis as off bearing and stacking lumber at the Collett-Young Sawmill near Parsons. His employers say that he can outnumber the younger employees in production.

He mixed farming with logging in the earlier days but now it's all logging. Retirement doesn't interest the 5'11" heavy set, blue eyed gent.

Collett and his wife, the late Golden Griggs, lived on the farm, making their living from mother earth until misfortune hit the logger last December when he lost his helpmate. He now lives alone on Highway 641 about two miles north of Parsons and lets the rest of the world go by.

He can't swing an axe as smoothly as he once could but at 73 Parker Collett is more than the equal of many a younger man.

Collett is one of the true lumberjacks who carved their mark in the forests of West Tennessee and became a legend in his own time.

He is a lumberjack of the old school, a swinging marvel who worked in forests throughout Decatur and Benton Counties. For more years than he cares to remember, he began at the age of 15, making his living with a broadaxe, cutting railroad ties.

It's all muscle, eye and timing," Collett explained.

His tool was an eight pound broadaxe, an axe with a wide blade. In those days broadaxe operators trued the log with the eye. They followed the axe pretty good. There wouldn't be a half inch difference in the thickness of the tie.

"I started working in the forests at the age of ten when l hauled the logs from the woods to the Tennessee River landings where they were shipped to various points," he said.

He Recalls Rafting Logs Down River

By Lillye Younger

PARSONS - For a man who has passed his 90th birthday, John Tinker, retired railroader possesses a vigor and vitality that might be lacking is many men half his age.

Tinker attributes his good health and long life to "the Lord, my doctor, and a proper diet." He is a vegetarian.

Born Jan. 2, 1879, the son of James Allen and Lain Baker Tinker, he vividly recalls his early days, and says of his schooling:. "I attended school at Holladay, Bunches Chapel, Parsons, Decaturville, and Scotts Hill Academy where I received my teacher's certificate."

He taught school at sardis Ridge for 425 per month. "We had only three-month school terms," he explained, "which began after harvesting was over."

The mercantile business lured him away from the teaching profession. He worked as a clerk at Blount and Striegel's Store in Perryville. Later, he entered into a partnership with his stepfather J. J. Bussell, as a farmer, general store operator of Tinker & Bussell Mercantile Co., peanut buyer, and crosstie buyer.

Tinker also remembers his experiences at rafting logs from Perryville to Paducah Ky. "We cut the logs 14 feet long and joined them, side by side, with a 'chain dog' and set out for Paducah," he recalls. "It took anywhere from two weeks to a month to reach our destination. We had no motor, the logs just floated along. A fellow raftsman played his banjo as we floated along, which afforded us entertainment."

Moving to perryville in 1915, he worked as a helper on the N. C. & Saint Louis Railroad. In 1917, he became ticket agent. "I remember the advice the auditor gave me when he handed me the keys to the depot." 'Tinker relates. "He said, 'Tinker, when your hours are up, lock the door and forget this job until tomorrow.'"

Tinker can recall seeing progress dining his life as steamboats and railroading gave way to more modern means of transportation. When his days as a railroad man were over, he purchased land from the Perryville Boat Dock Lake to Beach River and went into the sand and gravel business, dredging gravel from the Tennessee River until his retirement

He still leads an active life. He attends services regularly at the First Baptist Church ii Parsons, where he has been a senior deacon for the past __ [25?] years. He is an avid reader, enjoys television, and keep abreast of world affairs.

"My retirement has afforded me much pleasure and time to work for my church. I have ____ more time to enjoy being with my family, too," he said. "I'm looking forward to more birthdays. I have a lot to do and plenty to see yet."

The father of five daughters and three sons, he resides with his daughter Mrs. Sue Carrington at 110 W. Fourth St. in Parsons. His wife, the former Mary Arnold died last year.

Sawmilling Is Active Business In County

By Lillye Younger

The method of logging timber has gone a long ways. However, despite the mechanized equipment, many modem day timber cutters still rely on the mule team. There was a time when mule teams were the only way to haul heavy logs out of woods to the sawmill.

Among the sawmill operators in this section are Ike and Bert Gibson, who operate Gibson Brothers Sawmill, which is located seven miles north of Parsons, just off the Cherokee Boat Dock Road.

They have been in the sawmill business about a year and a half. When asked why they went into this type of business, Bert quickly answered, jokingly, "Needed a job to buy beans for the little ones." He went on to say, "It creates one more headache, everyone ought to own a sawmill for a year." The biggest problem seems to be keeping hands who will work regularly.

The company's six employees are paid by piece work. For instance those who snake logs receive so much for each log they snake out as well as the timber cutter, sawyers, etc. "We take inventory every day," Bert explained. The owners can look across the yard and tell just about how many logs are there at a glance. "We can also tell how many ties and the pieces of lumber it will make," Ike chimed in.

The operation employs six persons as follows: Sawyer, Lloyd Pratt; Log Turner, Charles Gilbert; Edger, J. D. Whitworth; Off Bearer, Parker Collett; Tie Barker, Jimmy Hendrix; Forklift operator, Oneal Baker; and five log snakers, called "Swampers," Larry Cruse, Parce Collett, Boyd Lee Young, Jim Goff and Gary Lynn Harris who work under sub-contract to haul the logs to the mill.

Actually the assembly line begins in the woods when the tree is felled, then it is the snaking tongs, which are hooked to the logs and drags them out by a mule to the awaiting truck, one at a time. This truck has an automatic lift that loads the logs and transports them to the mill, which may be from four to eight miles away or sometimes a very short distance, according to the tract of timber. "We try to stay within four or five miles from the tract but if this is impossible, we have to move the mill which takes about a week and a half", Bert said. "It has to settle," he added.

When the logs arrive at the mill the fork lift operator unloads them or if he is busy the hauler drops the boom and lets the logs roll off. Then the Fork Lifter transports them to the Sawmill carrier. The log turner keeps the logs turned for the sawyer. From here they slide down the assembly line to the edger and then to the off bearer. From the edger the cross ties goes to the ties barker, here they are picked up by the forklift and stacked, ready for market. The off bearer's job is to size the lumber in various sizes such as 2 x 4's, etc. Off bearer, Parker Collett is in his 70's, works very day and can put out just as much work, if not more than employees much younger.

The company sells to Southern Wood Co., at Chattanooga, Bruce Lumber Co. and Ohio Valley Lumber Co. in Jackson. Bert and Ike transport the material to market. "We haul around 8,000 feet at a time," Ike explained.

Types of wood available in this section are: Oak, Hickory, Poplar. Beech, Gum, Sycamore, Sasfras, Walnut, Hackberry and Elm. Cedar is also available but the market for it is to individual persons desiring to make a cedar chest, etc.

"If we get from 200 to 250 logs a day, it's a good days yield, however, sometimes in bad weather and bad road conditions we may get as few as 25," Bert explained. Another hazard the owners explained is that it is impossible to get the trucks in the narrow hollows in the woods and the muddy ground in which the truck may stall, not only once but perhaps a number of times from the woods to the mill. The huge load of logs has to be unloaded as many as three or four times before they can plow through the mud. "If road conditions gets too bad, we have to rely on wagon teams," Ike said.

Logging is a year around occupation. A rain or snow is about the only halt to the operation. Cold weather poses no problem.

Presently the 250 acres track of timber they are cutting is the Maggie Miller, Jr. tract, located approximately 11 miles from parsons.

Decatur County's Farms Booming

By Lillye Younger

PARSONS, Turn. - The county of Decatur came into being In 1845 when it was organized by an act of General Assembly of the state of Tennessee. It covers an area of 346 square miles with 221,440 acres, according to the 1960 census. Located in the extreme eastern part of West Tennessee, it is endowed with fertile soil and with an ideal climate for farming.

Of these 221,440 acres there are 145,865 acres in farm land with a total of 906 farms in the county. The average size of the farms are 161 acres. Some of the best farm land is located on the Tennessee River, which divides Decatur County from Perry County.

Cotton, corn and pastures are the main crops grown in the county. Yields of these crops have increased over the past few years, according to Warren J6nes, County Agent for Decatur County.

The cotton acreage has decreased due to government restrictions. In 1879 Decatur County harvested 5,591 acres as compared to 2,910 acres in 1959. The yield has increased from .39 per acre in 1879 to 1.0 to an acre in 1959. 2,350 acres were harvested in 1964 with a yield of 570 pounds per acre which totaled a production of 2,800 bales.

Corn shows an increase also. Many farmers who were producing 30 to 40 bushels of corn per acre a few years ago are now producing over 100 bushels. The average yield of corn in our county in 1952 was 21 bushels per acre. This average has more than doubled since that time, explains Warren Jones. In 1964 the average was 50 bushels per acre and in 1965 it was 52 bushels per acre. This is an increase m the last 14 years of 31 bushels per acre. 9,100 acres was harvested in 1964 producing 455,000 bushels of corn.

"The reason for this sensational increase," says Jones, "is the use of several improved production practices. These include use of recommended varieties, better land selections, increased amounts of fertilizer, more corn on the ground, the use of better insect control and the use of chemicals to control weeds."

In an attempt to demonstrate good practices to farmers of the county, several demonstration plots on varieties, fertilization and population in corn and pasture have been set up. The Unit Test farmers and 4-H members are taking the lead in this program.

These plots are achieving the desired results. "Our goal in the next few years is a county average of 75 bushels per acre on corn," said Jones.

Soybeans is another crop that has shown an increase within the last few years. In 1963, 250 acres were harvested, yielding 10 bushels to the acre and producing 5000 bushels in comparison with 300 acres in 1964 yielding 21 bushels per acre and providing 6300 bushels.

Very little wheat is grown in Decatur County. In 1963 only 50 acres were harvested as was the same amount in 1964. It showed no increase in production.

Livestock production continues to be the largest source of in-come in the county. About 60 per cent of the farm income comes from it. Hogs are the largest single source, making up about 33 per cent of the livestock income. Cattle makes up 26 per cent and sheep and dairying the other 1 per cent.

There is an increasing interest in better quality of hogs and cattle in the county. This is evidenced by requests for assistance in securing better breeding stock, Jones pointed put. It also shows up at the Decatur County Fair in the carcass show as well as the regular hog shows.

Transportation cost has decreased within the last few years for the farmers products by available markets located in nearby towns. This service has increased the farmers net income.

A feeder pig market is available at Lexington which is held six times each year. Any farmer who belongs to the Livestock Association ($2.50 year) can sell pigs in this sale. The number of sales has been increased from four to six sales per year because of the increased number of pigs.

Feeder calves may be sold at the neighboring town of Huntingdon. Decatur County farmers sell their feeder calves because of the lack of adequate production grain and forage crops. Last year farmers from the county sold over 100 calves at this sale.

The hog buying station located in Decaturville is a well established local market. They buy hogs on a graded basis. This is an advantage to the farmers who have good quality hogs. They will profit by selling them on a graded market. The Decaturville Hog Buying Station has put more than 10 million dollars in the pockets of area farmers since its establishments six years ago.

Another well established market is the Scotts Hill Auction Company, which holds weekly sales. Here the farmer has an outlet for his cattle, hogs, sheep and goats. They are sold at auction. One hundred thirty-two cattle were sold at the market cattle show here in the spring. There is a halter class for 4-H and FFA members and a pen of five class for adults at the cattle show and sale. This will be an incentive for people to grow better quality animal as well as a better local market for their cattle.

"Forests cover about 60 per cent of the land area of Decatur County. Over-cutting, grazing woodlands, and improper selection are among our problems in the woods," Jones stated.

Many pines are still being set on land that is not suited to row crops and pasture. During the planting season (December to March) 47 farmers planted 172,000 pine seedlings as compared to 141,500 planted by 40 farmers last season This is a substantial increase of 30,500 pines on 301/2 more acres. Several million have been planted over the past several years. Jones added. These seed are ordered through the County Agricultural Extension office in Decaturville.

A Farm Management school was held at Riverside High School which covered all phases of farm management that applies to the county. Much interest among the farmers were shown as they enrolled in the school's six classes which were held at weekly intervals. "The final test of the good done will be determined by how well the information received will be used." Jones said.

The pride of the farmer is revealed when one competes with another at the Decatur County Fair. Its here that quality shows. Here the farmer exhibits his farm products, livestock and poultry. The farmer's wife takes great pride in bringing her brightest glass of jelly or her uniform sized green beans to enter in the canning exhibit. The Decatur County Fair is known across the state as of the outstanding fairs and its success is due to the cooperation of the people from all over the county.

Here among the green fields and wooded hills is located the best recreational spots and vacation facilities in West Tennessee. Located in the Kentucky Lake region fishing is excellent, boating is available and cabins can be rented at a very 1ow rate. One third of the Beech River Watershed is located in Decatur County which will eventually be developed.

From these assets plus the increase shown in fanning within the past few years, most farm families are enjoying an increasingly higher standard of living. Though the number of full-time farmers is decreasing and the size of farms are getting larger there is an increasing number of part-time farmers m the county. We in Decatur County must change with the times and emerge with an even stronger farm economy than we have ever enjoyed, concluded Warren Jmes.

Beefmaster Cattle

By Lillye Younger

A new breed of cattle has been developed primarily in Texas and Colorado, however they have only recently been introduced to the "Volunteer state." There are only around 12 breeders in Tennessee. It's the Beefmaster.

They have priority in the farming plans of a Jackson cattleman. Dr. Lowell Stonecipher bought a 350 acre farm approximately five miles west of Interstate 40 off of Highway 20 and began his cattle operation with two females, which he bought in Texas in 1975. Now he has 70, including calves.

"After buying my first two heifers, the next spring I bought four females and in the summer I bought ten heifers with calves," the slender personality explained.

His first bull came from his cow herd and then he bought another herd bull as a calf. "My young bull is probably my best," he admitted. He weighed 800 pounds at weaning time and now weighs 2,100 pounds. He will weigh around 2,400 to 2,500 when grown.

"The main thing about the young calves is that they are small, weighing from 50 to 75 pounds at birth and are long legged, with narrow heads and small bodies, which eliminates calving problems. They also grow off fast," the cattleman said. He added that the mothers are goad milkers. They weigh from 1,250 to 1,300 pounds.

The purebred Beefmasters are fairly muscular, not quite as much as the Charolais, yet they grow off more rapidly.

Despite the fact that the hybrid animals are a three way cross combination of the Hereford, milking short horns, and Brama; they can be any color and some have horns while others don't. Other good traits of the breed are that flies don't bother them, neither do they have pink eyes, a dreaded disease among cattlemen. Too, they are adapted to all climates.

Their reputation has soared skyward. According to Beefmaster Cowman magazine, quote: "Beefmaster is the highest soiling breed of cattle in America in the 1980's."

"The Beelmaster Breeders Universal organization are very good promoters," noted the cattleman. Beefmasters are selected on the basis of fertility, growth, calving, mothering ability and hardness.

The beef is very tender and because they are part Brama it is leaner, more desirable and more economical. "We butchered one and it was the tenderest beef I have ever eaten."

"They are more expensive," noted Stonecipher. Pure bred bulls top prices are around $150,000 to $200,000 and commercial bulls sell from $1,200 to $1,800 each.

"They have recently skyrocketed in price," he said. "In fact I went to a sale in Mississippi in May and 44 females, most of them had calves on them, and had been bred, averaged $11,000 a piece. A young heifer at one and one half years of age, not bred, brings $5,000. I bought mine earlier and they were not so high," he said.

The upkeep of these takes quite a bit of the owner's time. "Up to this year I have done all the work. Finally I got a manager," he turned and explained. At this point his 13-year-old son, Rick, spoke up and said, "I help with them but don't get any pay," and then his eight-year-old son, Scott, chimed in and said. "I help them fix the fences." His wife, Mary Ann jokingly said "He takes more time with his herd than with me. He really loves his cows."

"I haven't sold any purebred bulls, however, I have sold some commercial bulls. I plan to sell some purebred this fall," he said.

His pastures are cut up in 10 and 20 acre plots and cross fenced. He uses 180 acres in pasture.

"My calves are born in March up to May and from October through December. This is the best time to take care of them."

Artificial breeding is used in this breed, however, he hasn't used very much of it. Beefmaster breeders have Senior Herd Sires five to eight years old which are used for artificial breeding. There are not over ten super bulls used. The semen sells for $25 to $100 a vial. "I haven't sold any bulls for this, however, a representative was here last week and thought my young bull probably rates among the best and will qualify in the future. I was really excited over it," he smiled and said.

"I think the Beefmaster operation is a safe investment," he said. He attributes his success to the fact that he picks out good females and has top notch bulls. "You have to have good bulls," he concluded. Life on the farm and the keen interest he has in cattle stems from the fact that he was reared on a farm in Southern Illinois. He has always had this desire.

Beat The "Sugar Shortage" With Sorghum

By Lillye Younger

On a quiet country road in the Largo Community, four miles southeast of Decaturville, the quiet is shadowed by the sound of a rip-roaring sorghum mill of the yesteryear.

Eight Decatur Countians banded together to beat the high price of sugar - they grew sorghum. These eight men are Glen, Grady, and Elvin Brasher, Coy Tuten, Albert Fisher, Guy Yarbro, Barney Montgomery and Bonnie Keeton.

"We derided that sugar is so high, we will substitute it with sorghum molasses", Glen Brasher explained.

Despite the fact that the one acre-was planted, more or less as a hobby, it has rolled the time backward to the yesteryear when mule-power was king. The spot has been used for growing molasses for years and years.

Each family furnishes a horse or mule which eliminates one animal getting drunk as it circles the mill, squeezing out the pulp.

Another unusual fact is that the sorghum mill has been setting at the same location on the Brasher farm for over 30 years. It now belongs to Wilborn Keeton. A rattlesnake was killed by Glen Brasher at the spot the pans were being replaced after cleaning.

The horse-drawn mill is three cast iron rollers on a 31/2 foot frame and is used to press the juice from the cane. It weighs about 1,100 pounds. Two rollers roll in one direction and one in the opposite direction.

In the center of the mill is a pole and pulley. In the old method, the mule goes around in a circle while the cane is being fed through the rollers. The juice is caught in a trough.

The juice is poured in a big barrel and carried to pans where it is strained, ready to cook.

The furnace is made by digging a hole in the ground and leveling a 10 foot pan on top. A barrel is placed at one end to feed the juice through. A special type of wood is used and the barrel has a faucet to gauge the speed the juice goes into the pan. The fire is built and the pan is filled with the mint green juice.

The pan has compartments shaped like a figure "8". At the back of the pan the juice is kept separate from the front, which is being cooked.

 Two men use specially built paddles with holes in them to stir the juice and keep the molasses skimmed. The honey bees and yellow jackets are the biggest menace to making molasses.

The sorghum cane is stripped by knocking the fodder off and cutting the cane with a big sorghum knife. The sorghum head is then cut off and the stacks are hauled to the mill. When they are unloaded they are placed across logs to keep dean.

Mr. Barney Montgomery, who admits this is the first time he has worked in sorghum in 35 years, admits that his wife, Willie, helped cut the tops off but burnt out the first day.

It takes an experienced man to know when the batch is done. However, all of these eight men are experienced. The sorghum juice is a mint green in the raw stage and when cooked it turns a golden shade.

One man remarked that he could stand off fifty feet and hear it pop and tell when the sorghum was done. It is thoroughly cooked when it strings to the ground, if it is not, it will break off Mr. Glen Brasher said, "We make it medium rather than thick or thin."

"There's nothing better than hot molasses poured over buttered biscuit", remarked Coy Tuten, who jokingly added, "I only eat a half-gallon at a time."

Men took time about in the making. When all of the molasses is made, if the mill is not cleaned, beer seeds form, which were used many years ago, as a non-alcoholic drink.

The one acre of sorghum will make around 175 gallons. In 1932 the price of molasses was three gallons for $1, today it sells for $6 a gallon.

"Lasses making time" falls around September until a freeze.

Peanut Farming Was Important

By Lillye Younger

Agriculture has played a tremendous role in the shaping of Decatur County. It was just after the depression days when industries moved here. However, agriculture was its lifeblood.

The principal crops here were peanuts, hay, cotton and corn. Peanuts were the top money making crop. Directly or indirectly hundreds of families depended on the peanut crop for their livelihood. They were taken to the river landings where huge warehouses stored them until the steamboat picked them up to market.

In the early days they were cultivated with the use of horse-power and hand picket. Later the peanut picker came into being and one was really lucky to have one. Those who couldn't afford a picker would hire others who did, to pick their peanuts for them.

In order to rekindle the memory of some of the farmers now, here is a picture of a very old peanut picker, that dates back to the early 1900's. It belonged to Mr. Mansfield Townsend and the Townsend family lived in the Hog Creek community and farmed.

Raymond Townsend said, "It wasn't anything unusual for a farmer to have 400 or 500 stacks of peanuts in those days. I was just a boy of 15 when we left the farm and moved to Parsons, however I have worked in peanuts quite a bit. Then boys started farming at a very young age," he said. "I hauled the peanut stacks on a slide to the peanut picker." He explained how the ground was prepared for the crop. "They laid off the rows with a gauge in order to check the rows and it plowed two rows at a time and then the peanuts were dropped by hand." He continued, "The vines had shoots that grew out from the plant and the peanuts grew from these shoots in the ground. Just before the peanuts were picked they ran a forked digger under the plant, where the peanuts were and shook the vines to pick. They were stacked to dry for a Sew days and then ready to pick. In the early days picking peanuts was the job of the women, however after the picker came into being, it became a man's job. It was considered a big days work if a woman picked a sack of peanuts in one day. A sack held five bushels and weighed 23 pounds", he explained.

The picker was a time saver as well as making the work easier, especially for the women. Mr. Doyle later bought the picker.

Mr. Revo Townsend says, "I well remember this picker. I worked on it too. Alter a farmer got his crop cultivated he would move to another field and help his neighbor. The pay was in a part of the peanuts. I well remember the team of horses we used," he said.

The Doyle family lived on Lick Creek and always had a big peanut crop. Mr. Doyle was the father of Mrs. Hazel Doyle Houston and Maxie Doyle of Parsons and Mrs. Houston came up with the picture.

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