Tag: Farming

by Norman W. Naugher

A while ago, we had the opportunity to visit with Norman and Nell Wright in their home.  They shared a wonderful written story of the life of Norman growing up in Samantha.  The writing is attached at the bottom of this page.

Playing dominoes with friends

Cowden home, old Byler Road (Old Highway 43)

The photos were captured on our visit.

 


“…This writing is dedicated to my wife, Nell, who almost had to get a knife and cut me open to extract these stories. To my son, Marty, whom she said would enjoy reading it, to my daughter, Jan, who keeps us all together, and my parents who had a hard time raising me…”  Click here to read Norman’s Story

If you enjoyed reading Norman’s story, please leave comments below and let him know.

 

Becky Williamson-Martin

Visit to Reed Mountain Awakens the Imagination

by Delbert Reed
 Reprint -- Published in The Northport Gazette, April 7, 2004

I had to go back to Reed Mountain in northern Tuscaloosa County last week. Something drew me there to stand at the old home place of my ancestors and look out on the wide, breath-taking vistas to the East and wonder about the history of the Reed family.

There is little left to prove that anyone ever lived at the site now except a few rocks, likely from the foundation or chimney, and a thriving wisteria vine, which was covered with bumblebees on the late afternoon that I visited.

I listened for sounds from the past, like the tolling of the old dinner bell or the chopping of wood, and I watched for wispy images of people I might know as the sun began to cast shadows on the hill, but there was none of either.

I could see, though, why someone would want to live on Reed Mountain. That spectacular view toward the faraway bottomland beside the small, clear stream below had me dreaming for a moment, too, although the place is generally poorly suited for farming in many ways. Those red-land hills and hollows are far more suited for hunting.

But my great grandparents Wes and Leona Reed raised 12 children to adulthood on the place and farmed a large area first owned, by all accounts, by Wes’s father Thomas Reed, the first Reed known to have settled in the country near Haygood Methodist Church. Thomas likely walked or rode a mule or wagon from Georgia if he was typical of the Southern Scots-Irish settlers. All I know of his wife is that her name was Parthenia Moore and that she was from the Moore’s Bridge area.

I imagined the large Wes Reed family meal time and wondered just how much food they had to grow and can to manage through the winters. I wondered just how many biscuits Omie, as Leona was called, had to cook each morning before sending her family into the fields.

Wesley Washington Reed was just 16 years old and Leona Elizabeth Davis only 15 when they married on December 16, 1886, according to family records. My grandfather Ellis, born on December 20, 1887, was the oldest of the children, and he was 25 years old when his grandfather Thomas Reed, born in 1847, died in 1913. The youngest child of Wes and Omie Reed was Elliott, born in 1907. Three children were born dead, including two after Elliott’s birth, and another died at age three.

A photograph of Wes and Omie standing together shows tanned and hard-working people, and a similar photograph of Ellis and my grandmother Viola is quite similar. They seem to be typical of the proud, poor, rural Southerners of the early 1900s.

My dad had an old scrapbook that included several old receipts showing purchases by Wes Reed from the late 1800s until his death in 1938. One was for a yoke of oxen for $30 on May 13, 1897; many were for fertilizer and taxes; one was for a one-ton Ford truck purchased from Tucker Motor Company in 1923 at a cost of $451.40; another was for $9 as “full pay for his child’s tombstone.” Wes had signed some of the notes and mortgages with an “X” for his mark, indicating that he could not write his name.

Unfortunately, there are few photographs of the Reed family from the early days, but there are enough to trace a family resemblance, and there are markers at Haygood Cemetery that help trace the family back in time.

Fortunately, though, the dinner bell from the old Wes Reed place survives today, thanks to the late Carl Harris. That same bell that called the Reed family from the fields or marked a death in the community rests safely in my storage shed, and I promise soon to display it proudly for the memories it holds, for the hands that rang it, and for those who heard it ring so many times.

“I heard that dinner bell ring at 11 o’clock every day for years,” Brazzie Taylor Rodgers said in recalling her years as a neighbor of the Reeds. “Omie always had dinner ready at 11 o’clock. Wes Reed was a good man,” she added. “He walked by our house early nearly every morning on his way to the store to get a box of snuff, and I was at his house the day he died.”

The old Reed place on Reed Mountain was sold many years ago to some large corporation, probably a timber company, and the old house destroyed. When I visited, the timber around the old house place had recently been cut, leaving the area scarred and ugly except for the view across the valley eastward.

But the Reed place was surely a glorious place once, with hunting dogs and teams of mules and oxen and cows and a large family to care for it all. I’d like to think Reed’s Mountain in the old days was much like the mythical Walton’s Mountain depicted on television and that the Reed family was just as happy and loving as the Waltons.

I’d like to think those 12 children grew up with good memories of life on Reed’s Mountain. And I wish I had thought to ask them to share them with me years ago. Now I can only imagine how it must have been.

(Originally Published in The Northport Gazette, April 7, 2004)

Samantha Living would like to thank Delbert Reed for sharing this story. We appreciate his journalism and interest in the Samantha Community. We invite your comments below or send them and any photos you might have to editor@samanthaliving.

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Historical Barbee School

From Delbert Reed.

Barbee School Reunion Offers a Lesson in History

(Written by Delbert Reed – Published in Northport Gazette, June 18, 2003)

Historical Barbee School

You’ve probably heard stories told by your parents and grandparents about how they walked three miles in the snow and rain to school as youngsters. If you haven’t, you should arrange to attend the next Barbee School reunion, where you can hear the stories of the good old days from those who lived them.

A small group of former Barbee School students gathered recently at the home of Nell Howell Sheffield in Northport to recall their times together as schoolmates at the former small elementary school near Northside High School. Those attending the May gathering included Sheffield, Mary Freeman Hagler, Clytee Rogers Holloway, Lowell Skelton, Faye Maddox Boone and John Aris Harris.

 
“I’ll bet no six people ever had a better time that we did,” Mrs. Hagler said of the reunion. We waited until most of us were gone before we started getting together, but if we can we’re going to get together again next year and reminisce some more,” she said. The Barbee reunions have been going on for six or so years and were started mainly by Loy and Woodrow Wilson.
 
Barbee School, according to history relayed by John Aris Harris’s son John, was named after James and Sarah M. Barbee, who settled in the area in 1818. The school was located about a mile west of Barbee Creek and about two miles west of Northside High School. It was formed in 1909 by the consolidation of Friendship School and the Deal School and closed in 1942.
Mrs. Hagler lived east of Barbee School on the Bart Brown Road for much of the time she attended the school 1932-38 and walked through fields, pastures and woods and even across a foot-log bridge across Barbee Creek to schools with siblings Otis, Clay, Martha and Ouida.
 
“We had some good times there,” Mrs. Hagler said. “We had a few fights, too, but not often.” Mrs. Hagler’s memories of her days at Barbee include the school closing twice because there was no money to buy coal for heat during the winter.

“They brought our teachers out from town on Sunday evening or early Monday morning and they boarded with my Aunt Ida Cabaniss across the road from the school during the week and went back to town on Friday afternoons,” Mrs. Hagler said.

The Barbee School remembered by most of the former students had three or four rooms with two grades in each room. Earlier, a one-room school had stood on the site, according to some former students. “I saw a picture of the old school and I’m pretty sure it was only one room,” Mrs. Hagler said. “It looked like an old crib.”

Mrs. Boone attended Barbee School for six years starting in 1933 and later graduated from Talladega High School before earning master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Alabama. She worked as a nurse and teacher until her retirement in 1990. Mrs. Boone has attended several Barbee School reunions and recalls elementary school friendships with Nell Howell Sheffield and Loy Wilson.
 
Skelton started school at Barbee in the mid-1930s and went there through the sixth grade before attending Etteca and Gorgas schools. Skelton’s brothers Adrian, Shorty and Gordon and sister Louise also attended Barbee, as did Skelton’s father Clarence. Skelton, retired from B. F. Goodrich after more than 42 years, is nearing age 75 and still has many friends from his days at Barbee.
  
Mrs. Sheffield lived less than a mile from Barbee School in what was known as the old Deal home during her childhood. The house, which burned in 1980, was located near one of the two stores her father (Paul Howell) operated for many years. “That old house was made from wide, hand-hewed planks; we wouldn’t have taken anything for it,” Mrs. Sheffield said.
            
“I remember my first-grade teacher was Miss Ruth Rice,” Mrs. Sheffield said. “She later married Horace Brown and we went to church with them at Chapel Hill Baptist Church. “Another teacher recalled by Mrs. Sheffield was Marian Scrivner, who boarded with the Howells.
            
“I remember Miss Rice giving us a picture to color in the first grade and I colored a woman’s hair green. Miss Rice said she had never seen a woman with green hair. Forty years later we saw a woman at church with green hair and she (then Mrs. Brown) remembered that fist-grade incident and remarked to me that we had finally seen someone with green hair.”
 
Mrs. Sheffield’s brother Paul B. Howell also attended Barbee for a few years. Both of them laster graduated from Tuscaloosa County High School.

Harris, a retired telephone company employee who lives in Moundville, attended Barbee for three years starting in 1938 when it had 30-40 students in six grades. He also attended Samantha and Gorgas schools “I still have my first-grade report card,” Harris said proudly. “I carried it to the reunion and my first teacher’s name (Margaret Tatum) is on it.”

Mrs. Holloway lived about two miles north of Barbee School at the head of Wolf Creek near Haygood Methodist Church and walked along a path through the woods and fields to school with friends from the Rice and Nuchols families.

“I can remember being freezing cold when we got to school and gathering around the pot-bellied stove to get warm,” she said. “It was hard living, but there were good days. Everybody loved everybody and everybody helped everybody else during crop time or sickness. We lost our farm and were sharecroppers some, but I’m proud of my raising,” Mrs. Holloway added.

Mrs. Holloway began work at Jitney Jungle Grocery in Tuscaloosa in 1956 and retired from Food World in 1991.

Most of the Barbee School students grew up on farms in the community and many of them came from sharecropper families left poor by the Great Depression of the 1930s, as Mrs. Hagler pointed out with pride.  
“I’ve lived a full life for a poor girl,” she said. “But I’ve had friends and people I cared about and who cared for me. What else do you need?

Samantha Living would like to thank Delbert Reed for sharing this story.   We appreciate his journalism and interest in the Samantha Community.  We invite your comments below or send them and any photos you might have to editor@samanthaliving.com

Submitted by Anita Bailey – Estel Williamson (Freeman) Barbee School 1936 (Anita’s Grandmother

The Barbee School which taught from first to seventh grade was located near Samantha in northern Tuscaloosa County from about 1907 to the early 1940s. After students completed the seventh grade, they were awarded diplomas and encouraged to continue their education. However, students who lived in the rural communities had farm and home responsibilities and transportation was mule or horse and buggy. Photo shows the graduation class for the 1913-1914 school year. The teacher, Annis Estelle Griffin, is on the back row in the white shirt. To her right is Carl Harris. To Harris’ right may be Paul Howell.Submitted by John N. Harris.

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Blake Hamner Selected as Member of YCLP Class IV

Blake Hamer

Blake Hamner, Samantha, is one of 24 young adults from across the state who has been selected as a member of the Young Cattlement’s Leadership Program (YCLP) Class IV.

This year-long program, hosted by the Alabama Cattlement’s Association (ACA) and the Alabama State Beef Checkoff Program, is an opportunity for cattlemen ages 20-40 to receive training from leadership professor ACA Regional Vice President Dr. Don Mulvaney of Auburn University’s Department of Animal Sciences.  Students will also become engaged in their county and state Cattlemen’s Association, earn industry accreditation such as Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) and Masters of Beef Advocacy (MBA), execute a leadership program benefiting the beef cattle industry and network with cattlemen from across the state.

YCLP Class IV held its first meeting May 8-9 at the ACA headquarters in downtown Montgomery.  During the first day of the two-day meeting, the group tackled leadership styles, gained knowledge about the legislative process and enjoyed fellowship with classmates at a Montgomery Biscuits baseball game.  The second day hosted further leadership training and the opportunity to participate in the ACA Spring Board of Directors Meeting which culminated in a trip to the State House to learn about the ongoing legislative session.

Participants of the program commit to attending six meetings throughout the year where they will explore leadership curriculum and partake in industry tours and workshops to learn about best from “pasture to plate.”  If course requirements are met, students will graduate March 10, 2018 at the 60th Annual ACA Convention and Trade S ho in Huntsville, Ala.

To learn more about the YCLP, visit our website www.bamabeef.org/yclp or contact Erin Beasley at (334) 265-1867.

A Look at the Past – The Wilson Farm

The following is a reprint of an article that appeared in The Tuscaloosa News on December 8, 1952, submitted by Kerry & Mary Shirley.

Good Farming Pays Off for Wilsons

Fourth Generation on the Farm by Lucia Owen (staff writer)

“Back in 1924, when I laid out those terraces, the land was full of gullies waist deep”, B.R. Houston, county agent said, as he and Lenon Wilson of Rt. 1, Brownville, gazed out over the acres of cotton land that were now sowed down the row middles with vetch, and at the 20 acres of oats and crimson clover, showing as green as a thick carpet over the otherwise brown landscape.

Today the 320 acre farm is one of the best in the county and this year, a bad crop year for most farmers, has brought a brand new barn and rat proof crib for the Wilsons and 750 bushels of corn from 10 acres, and 12 bales of cotton from 17 acres and 750 bales of hay.

“I didn’t make any money,” Mr. Wilson said, “but I paid for this barn and have my corn and hay.”  He also has three fat pigs ready to kill and 25 head of beef and dairy cattle, and Mrs. Wilson has a flock of chickens.

Mr. Wilson, the son of the late Mr. And Mrs. L.O. Wilson, is the fourth generation to farm the land, and he thinks Tommy, who is now five and one half years old will be a farmer too.  Of the 320 acres on the farm, 150 are cultivatable, the rest being in timber.  Mr. Holstein laid out the first terraces of his career as a county agent for Tuscaloosa County on this farm for the present owner’s father, and both know the improvements that have been made.

Mr. Wilson believes in a mechanized farm, and there isn’t a mule on his place.  He practices the latest methods recommended by the Extension Service and thinks this may be the reason for his mysteriously high yield during the dry season just past.

On May 5 he planted 10 acres of Dixie 11 Hybrid corn, following a turning under of winter legumes.  He fertilized with 250 pounds of 4-10-7 per acre and and side dressed with 100 pounds of soda after the second plowing.  The corn was planted in three and one half feet rows in 15 inch drills and was plowed only twice.  No rain fell on the corn until July 28, he said, but he gatherer end 75 bushels of corn per acre, and he opened his fine, rat proof crib to show it.  His cotton did not do so well, nor did other patches of corn on the place.

In the cement block barn, measuring 50×54 feet, are stored the 750 bales of hay gathered from his farm.  Ten acres of Kobe produced 300 bales and the remaining hay is services, Dallas and other grasses.  The barn has cement fee troughs, and is built for a life time.  The base is of cement blocks and the upper part is wood with an outside covering of tin.

The Wilsons have big hopes for next year.  They plan to increase cotton acreage and other crops.  “We’ll remodel the house then,” they said, looking at the quaint old home, surrounded by trees and box woods.

image

A GOOD FARMER, AND A LUCKY ONE – Lenon Wilson, of Rt. 1, Brownville, is pictured above with Mrs. Wilson, their son Tommy, and the family dog Chuck, as they lean on the gate that leads to their new concrete block barn and crib.  That barn and crib, in the background is fairly bulging, too, with 750 bales of hay and 750 bushels of hybrid corn. A part of the beef and dairy cattle on the 320 acre farm can also be seen behind them.  While most farmers were hit by the drought, the Wilsons succeeded in having an above-normal corn and hay crop and 12 bales of cotton from 17 acres, thou no rain fell until July 28.  (Tuscaloosa Engraving Co. Photo)

The Wilson Farm is now owned by The Hughes Family as pictured below.  Please leave your comments below.

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Faith, Family and Farming: Growing up in Samantha

By: Brooke Hughes Snipes

Naomi Judd once said, “In life you have to have roots and wings.” Growing up in Samantha, Alabama, I was given both of those things. I was shown how to use my wings to fly and make my own way in the world. I also had roots that taught me that sometimes going home is the only cure for your problems. My name is Brooke Hughes Snipes, and I was born and raised in the Samantha community. My family has been living here for three generations and has made a living farming cotton, corn, and soybeans. My granddad is Floyd Hughes Jr., who has made a huge impact on the community and in my life. He has always instilled in me the three f’s in life: faith, family and farming. These three things have had a huge impact on my life and shaped me into the person I am today.

My Granddad, Floyd Hughes, Jr. And I at my wedding November 2013

My Granddad, Floyd Hughes, Jr. And I at my wedding November 2013

I grew up in a way that would be foreign to today’s generation of young people. My summers were spent playing outside in the clubhouse built for my sister, cousins and me. We would spend hours building onto our club, where many tears, fights, and laughs took place. In the afternoons, we would gather underneath Granddaddy and Grandmother Faye (Momma’s) tree to shell peas or shuck corn. At the time, I thought it was boring and a waste of time, but now I understand that we were learning much more than how to prepare food. That’s the thing about grandparents; every task always comes with a free life lesson. On hot summer days we would go to my Mama Charlotte and Papa Norman’s pool for a swim. They too are longtime residents of Samantha. My Mama Charlotte was born and raised in Berry, Alabama but she will be the first to tell you that she is a Ram fan.

In the fall my grandmother Faye would load us up in their Dodge Ram (that they still drive to this day) and take us to the cotton field to watch my granddad Floyd, my dad Barry and Uncle Bryan pick the cotton fields.

My Granddad, Floyd Hughes, Jr. In his cotton field in Samantha, Alabama

My Granddad, Floyd Hughes, Jr. In his cotton field in Samantha, Alabama

We would spend hours picking cotton by hand, riding in the cotton pickers, running the packing machine, and jumping into big piles of freshly-picked cotton. It felt as though we were jumping on clouds. As a child, I thought nothing was more beautiful than a cotton field, and at twenty eight I still feel the same way. Weekends were always filled with cheering for Toybowl football, showing sheep for 4-H, playing softball, or spending time playing on the farm. The I-phone and social media generation of today will never understand the fulfillment that comes from fishing in a pond, playing in a creek, or spending time around animals.

Sundays were all about church. My whole entire family (which was 15 people at the time) would sit on the same group of church pews Sunday after Sunday. We would sing songs together from the Baptist Hymnal. Even today with the Contemporary music that is popular in most churches, I prefer the classic gospel. After church we would all go to my grandparents and eat lunch, and on special occasions we would enjoy homemade ice-cream. Easter was something that we looked forward to for months because my grandmother would take my sister and me to town and buy us matching dresses. Today in our twenties, my sister and I still coordinate our Easter outfits.

Throughout high school, cheerleading filled up most of my time. Now as an adult when I watch my younger brother, Mason, play for the Rams, I still remember the feeling I had on Friday nights when I stepped on that field. Football at Northside is about much more than playing a game. At Northside football is what brings people together. I remember looking up in the stands on Friday nights and thinking how blessed I was to be a part of this community, one that was really more like a huge family. Some of my friends growing up hated that small town feeling of everyone knowing everyone else. I, however, loved that feeling. I loved the fact that complete strangers would run into me and tell me that I looked just like my mother, or that people I met could still remember my dad’s first truck: a 1981 red and white Chevrolet that he still owns to this day.

I did most of the normal things that girls do growing up like sports, beauty pageants, and school clubs, but the hobby that affected my life the most was hunting. My granddad Floyd put a gun in my hand for the first time and taught me how hunting is about time, patience, and respect just like life. My granddad is the only person I have ever seen who can read the newspaper, crunch on an apple, and unwrap candy in the shooting house and still kill a deer. I, however, sit completely quiet and see nothing but squirrels; that’s just how it goes. I wouldn’t trade the days I have spent hunting with my granddad for anything in the world though. My grandparent’s generation is a walking book of knowledge that I love to explore. There is something amazing about hearing about how my grandparents first met, that my granddad broke down on the way to a date and stood my grandmother up, or that they share the same love for Johnny Cash’s music as I do. Looking back on my almost thirty years of life, I feel very blessed not only to have my family, but the family that is made up within my community.

If I am ever blessed with children these are the main things I would teach them: 1. to get outside and enjoy nature; it’s hard to beat a snow white cotton field or autumn in the South, 2. to always count your blessings, because there is always something to be thankful for, and 3. To spend as much time as you can with your family, especially your grandparents. They are the best teachers, motivators, and friends. As far as my roots and wings go, they have both made an impact on my life. I’m glad that I learned to fly. I left my hometown, graduated from the University of Alabama, got married and on my honeymoon even swam in the clear blue waters of the Caribbean. But as the saying goes, “There is no place like home.” It turns out that my roots were stronger than my wings, and my husband and I are getting ready to build a house on a hill overlooking quiet, simple Samantha. And if I ever do have kids and grandkids of my own, I will I pass along what my granddad told me that it takes to build a successful life in the country: a little faith, a little family and a little farming.

Brooke Hughes Snipes –Samantha Living, Guest Contributor
tbhughes1@crimson.ua.edu

If you enjoyed this article please let Brooke know by leaving comments below.

Do you have memories you would like to share in a similar article?  Send them to editor@samanthaliving.com

You Can Thank a Farmer

Farming is a huge industry in our community and if you live here or have traveled through, you have found yourself behind a tractor.  And, admittedly, some times it can be frustrating.  This writer confesses.  I mean we usually wait until the very last minute to leave and have no time to spare to get to our destination or frankly we all think our schedules are the most important.  Tractors and trucks – such nuisances, right?

But I always recall what my brother Ricky said one time a long time ago about a driver complaining about slow log trucks, “if it wasn’t for log trucks you wouldn’t have any toilet paper to wipe your butt”.  Haha.  Please excuse the curtness of that.  🙂  Soooo, I always try to remember the same holds true for trucks and tractors.  If it were not for them, we would not have the luxury of walking into the Dollar General and conveniently picking up those items that we can’t live with out.  “From the fuel that fills your truck, To the coffee in your cup, Don’t thank the corner store, For that early morning rush, Thank a farmer”.  Well, I don’t know about you but I couldn’t live without my coffee every morning.

Here’s a great song and video to help us (me included) keep the right prospective about those who devote their lives to making sure ours is more “comfortable.”

Lyrics
From the fuel that fills your truck
To the coffee in your cup
Don’t thank the corner store
For that early morning rush
Thank a farmer

Yeah I think back to that hayfield
Filled with girls and four-wheels
Sneaking off with her for that first time
You can thank a farmer

I still believe in amber waves of grain
Man on his knees praying for rain
That grew this country strong
And keep us moving on
They get tougher as their lives keep gettin’ harder
Oh I think it’s time
We all thank a farmer

From the blacktop roads you ran
That used to be his land
To big cities and small towns
That he built with his two hands
You can thank a farmer

And for this shirt on my back
And these boots on my feet
And them tank top wearin’ country girls
And them old skin-tight bluejeans
I thank a farmer
Yeah, thank a farmer

I still believe in amber waves of grain
Man on his knees praying for rain
That grew this country strong
And keep us moving on
They get tougher as their lives keep gettin’ harder
Yeah I think it’s time
We all thank a farmer

I still believe in amber waves of grain
Man on his knees praying for rain
That grew this country strong
And keep us moving on
They get tougher as their lives keep gettin’ harder
Yeah I think it’s time
We all thank a farmer
Thank a farmer

A lot of folks like me still care about the FFA and county fairs
And the folks who really make this world go round
I’d like to thank a farmer.

Sung by: James Wesley

Written by:  Josh Thompson and Dustin Lynch

The story behind the song:  http://roughstock.com/news/2013/04/15526-story-behind-the-song-james-wesleys-thank-a-farmer/

Always keep “The Son” in your eyes.

Becky Williamson-Martin

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