Oral histories of the families of Green River Cove, Holberts Cove and the Silver Creek area of Polk County, NC
Families mentioned include ARLEDGE, NEWMAN, TALLENT, COCHRAN
Storytellers (1981-1982): Hall Arledge, Orpha Newman Arledge, Gay Thompson, Annie Thompson
These are excerpts of transcriptions of tape recordings made in the summer of 1981 and 1982 by Pam Wilson email@example.com. I've tried to retain the flow of the conversation and the vernacular speech in the way I've transcribed the conversations. I hope you enjoy these. It's brought back wonderful memories to work with these transcriptions. Sadly, most of these speakers have now passed away.Cartersville, GA, June 2000
19 August 1982
SPEAKERS: Hall Arledge (H), Orpha Newman Arledge (O), Pam Wilson (P), Amy Wilson (A)--at Orpha Arledge's home at the base of Holbert's Cove near Silver Creek Road, Polk County, NC.
H: And they came out of the Jimmy, the James Arledge tribe … And their daddy, uh, old man Jim's daddy, was old man Jonathan.
P: Jonathan--that was Levi's son?
P: He had a Jonathan and a John--Preacher John, right? And a Jonathan?
O: Yeah, a Jonathan and a John. That's right.
P: In the same family.
O: You know, I ain't never thought about that. I knew that but I ain't never thought about that. Well, uh, John Arledge, Preacher John, married my daddy's sister. So that's how come that I'm related to the Hose Arledge, you know, the Arledge tribe.
P: Is that through a Tallent?
O: He married a Tallent, yeah, Hose married a Tallent: Alpha Tallent, she's in the rest home over at White Oak now. They say she don't hardly know she's in the world, you know.
H: Well, they've got two Arledges over there now, they tell me.
P (to O): And you were a Newman, right?
O: Yeah, I was a Newman. And Hose's mother was a Newman.
H: But this, uh, poor old Uncle Jonathan, he wasn't no preacher like--he stayed in hot water all the time.
O: He was kinda like Uncle Lis.
H: He headquartered over here right up this creek over here at the neck of the hollow--that little creek that comes right down? Halfway down from--
O: Yeah, down at the bridge where you turn off to come here.
H: A third of the way back up the mountain was where he made headquarters at.
O: If you was a-walkin' that fur you'd think it was two or three, two or three thirds! (laughing)
H: Well, no, it's about 3 miles up there.
P: Up the mountain?
H: Up that creek over there where they lived. But there was an old road at that time went up through and come out up, way up, the moutnain up yonder, went on through to Saludy. But he [Jonathan] didn't want out in the limelight, he stayed back.
O: He was like Uncle Lis
P: What did he do, make moonshine up in there?
O: Well, he drank, and oh, made too, I guess!
H: Oh yeah!
P: Well, did he farm up there? Did he have it cleared out?
O: Yeah, they had some cleared patches up there that they farmed.
H: Well, I don't know.
O: Well, they made their livin'--they had to, Hall! They couldn't nobody stay where they didn't.
H: He was gone long before I got hear tell of that.
O: I know it, you know.
P: I feel like Hall's been around a hundred years and he's seen it all!
O: He just tells what he's heard.
H: And he married another woman and he had a little boy by the name of Butler. Did you ever hear tell of Butler?
H: And he was the second tribe. And said that, uh, Clem was uh, pretty religious, but he'd have a cold. And he'd been to Uncle Jonathan's to get him a jog of herbs for medicine. And they'd bought Butler a new rifle. And Butler seen him goin' round the edge of the ridge over there. And he took that new rifle and shot the jug and Clem just had the, just had the ring (laugh) in the bottom of it! (laughter) And all his medicine had run out! (chuckles)
O: That was about like 'em, about like Butler.
H: During the time of the--
P: Who was that you told me about a couple of years ago, about--I can't--was her name Aunt Sally? Somebody who used to go across the river in a bathtub or something'?
H: In a batteau! Yeah. That was an old gal lived across from grandsir Clem over there. There was a lot, a lot of houses over in there, old house places over in there.
O: Oh yeah, there was houses everwhere.
P: Tell Amy about her--I bet she'd enjoy that.
H: And she, uh, she'd come over to Gransir Clem's and visit during the daytime, and when they--
O: No, she come over and done housework and somethin' for her dinner and things like that.
H: Well, when she was a-visitin', when she got ready to go home she'd always wanted her pipe filled up--old sister smoked a pipe! And Gransir Clem--
O: Old lady smoked a pipe like you'd chew chewin' gum.
H: Had plenty of homemade tobacco, and she got my Grandpa to fill it up and, and, and--back then they had gunpowder settin' around.
O: He got--
H: And he filled up--put a like, 'baccer, in the bottom of the pipe and poured a spoonful of gunpowder in the middle of it--it must've held a teacup full--and then filled it up with 'baccer on top. And then, she wanted him to--
O: Set her--
H: She wanted him to set her back across the river in the batteau
P: Now, how did the batteau work? I don't understand.
H: The batteau was just somethin' that floated like a boat or a canoe or somethin'
O: Like a boat, and it had oars on it
H: And see, everbody had to wade--there wasn't no bridges--they had to wade back then. They called them batteaus. But it wasn't a boat, it was somethin' on the order of a boat.
H: And he got down and couldn't get across, and she laid her fire coal up in her pipe before she left. And fired that. And they get out in the middle of the river then, and her pipe blowed up! And he got scared and jumped out, and the batteau turned over (laughs)--thought somebody was shootin' at 'em!
O: And she never knowed what happened, did she?
H: No, I don't know whether she did or whether she didn't
A: Did she smoke anymore? (laughs)
H: I don't know whether she smoked any more or not
O: Wasn't that awful mean? (in serious tone)
H: Oh, they was tough in them times, back in them days.
P: And what was that lady's name--Sal?
O: I never knowed. She was a Cochran.
H: Old Aunt Sally Cochran?
O: I, uh, don't know what--uh, that Old Miss Cochran, the one I knowed that was always comin' over to stay and everthing, and Uncle, uh, Granpa was always goin' over to her house…
H: And another time they said that a traveling salesman came through by Grandpa's up there, and, uh, back then people had to stop and stay all night when it was night come on, kinda, you know?
O: When they was travelin'
H: They'd stop, stop at a house. And he stopped out and asked old Uncle Pat could he keep a wayfarin' man for the night, and told him, "Be glad to, be glad to! Just go on in the house and talk to Pa" and he'd get the servant to take out his horse for him. And he hollered for the servant and his brother, old Uncle Nun, was around the corner--
O: That's Birch's daddy.
H: And he heared it and knowed there was somethin' up, so he come and put on the act of the servant, you know, and got the man's horse and drove it out toward the barn. And had a big leather harness on him, and he didn't take the horse out of it, just took the knife out and cut him out, cut the hamstring, cut the traces, and the back band and everthing. And put the man's gears, the harness, over in the hogpen, and throwed some corn on it. And the man went on in, stayed all night. And next morning they, uh, started, went out to get the man's horse out and get him on, get him up to the buggy and get him gone. And they called for the servant and, and one of 'em told that he had sent the servant earlier that mornin' across the river to get wood, and he wasn't around. And they got to lookin' for the harness, and ole Grandpa he got out with his walkin' stick by that time, and they found part of it stickin' up over there by the hogpen, and the ground had froze, and they had to dig it out, and it took till about dinnertime, and they wired him up and got him gone. But that ole Grandsir told that man, "I'LL KILL THAT SERVANT JUST AS QUICK AS HE SETS TO COME BACK HERE SO I WON'T EVEN FEED HIM NO DINNER. I'LL JUST KILL HIM!" (laughter)
P: Awww. So they did that just for the devil of it?
O: I reckon. I'm thinkin' that was so.
H: Oh yeah, that was, that was a true story.
O: Them boys was as rough as there ever was.
H: Yeah, and another time one [traveling salesman] come through and stayed all night, and he was a-ridin' a horse. He was a sewin' machine salesman, worked on sewin' machines and such as that there. And he had a big fine horse and a big fine saddle. And, uh, next mornin' the man got out, and the "servant" saddled up the horse and everthing for him, and the man started to get up on him, and the horse went to buckin' and kickin'! And they couldn't figure out what was wrong at all. But they'd put chestnut burrs in under the quilt on the man's saddle, and ever time he'd start to get up on the horse, the horse would go to buckin' and kickin'. And the fool went in till dinnertime. And the man went off a-leadin' the horse, said that he couldn't figure out what had happened to the horse, he never had acted like that before. But he just couldn't, couldn't get on! And the man went on off up the road a-leadin' him with them chestnut burrs still under the saddle blanket.
P: Boy, they did a lot of devilish things!
A: I wonder how mad he was when he found the burrs under there?
O: Well, I guess--
H: Whenever he stopped next night, the next night he'd have had to take the saddle off, he found them burrs, but--
O: Well, the ones they done that to, they were not from around here--they were travelin', like, say from here to Spartanburg, they were sellin' sewin' machines or whatever. They used to have all sorts of liniments and things people that'd travel, you know, and sell, people they'd stay all night, they'd even have scissors and thread and needles, and you know, things that people used in a, in a buggy. And I remember when I was a little girl seein' them, no older than I am--I'd say that had been 55 or 70 year ago probably, or longer--75 year, 'cause I'll soon be 80 year old, and I was about like Patsy's little girls.
O: But I know I wanted to run and get in that man's things so bad, and my [mother] (laughs)--and want her to get everthing, and she wouldn't get it unless it was some thread or some needles or somethin' like that (laughs). And I'd want her to buy everthing he had in there--he'd have somethin' like a little trunk or somethin' and he'd bring it in and set it in and show you what all he was a-sellin'. And, uh--
P: I guess that was about the only way you could get those things unless you went down to the big city?
O: That's right! And uh, you know, that's the only way they could get anything! And they didn't, these salesmen, they didn't see one another, you know--maybe some of 'em would be from Charlotte, and some from Asheville or, you know, way off! Spartanburg, just the biggest places where they'd come from. So [we]'d just have to take whatever [we] could get.
O: And they spun, sheared, they growed sheep and sheared the sheep and they spun, made their own cloth, and made 'em with their hands! Cut and made the men's suits and pants and everthing!
P: You know that took a long time.
O: You've probably read about--
H: But you didn't get one too often, you didn't get a suit too often, just when one died or got married.
[changing tapes caused me to miss capturing the beginning of this story of a traveling "dentist"--PW]
H: …had a tooth that was just killin' you. And he had a chair in the wagon, and he'd set you up in that wagon, and , uh, he had a pair of pliers and a chisel or two and a hammer! (laughter) And if he couldn't pull it out he'd knock it out.
And he was gonna stay all night. Well, uh, he'd knocked out some of 'ems tooth when it was in the fall of the year, and they'd kinda got wrong with him. And he asked ole man Clem about stayin' all night. And he told him, yeah, but he'd have to sleep upstairs with the boys (all the boys slept upstairs).
And, uh, ole man Clem, he got cool, and he'd built a fire up there. And they told this old feller that was gonna stay all night with 'em that Pa had had a fire down there and it'd get so hot up there that they always slept naked up there. And pulled off their clothes. And said that, uh, well, he got his clothes off, and they showed him where he could get, over yonder, and had to go across this particular plank to get over where he was sleepin'. And they had the plank fixed where the plank tripped and dropped him down, down into the living room where ole man Clem was, and ole Granny and the womenfolks down there! (laughter)
And said old man Clem jumped up, and had a big walkin' stick there, and struck at him a time or two, and popped his stick on the wall, said he was gonna kill that devil for bein' down there with his womenfolk, naked!
And the man run out the door. And it had got cold during the night, and they let him stay out there till they thought he'd be about froze (laughing). And they went out to the scoothole up there and clumb down the chimney and went and got him and told him they was so sorry that that had happened, and his clothes were up there, and he couldn't go nowhere else. That Pa didn't have no sense, and that (long laughter)…. And they got him to climb back up the chimney.
But he never offered to doctor none of 'em's teeth next morning! Quick as it got daylight, he saddled his buggy and left!
P: I bet he never came back again!
O: I bet he never come back around there! I've always heard that, so I guess it must be so.
H: Oh yeah, hit was so.
O: Well, they done all such as that.
H: I've heard Ham tell that there, and he could remember Gransir good.
P: I'll bet they never saw another dentist! Or at least not that one. (laughter)
H: And another time, uh, course that was in the Lis tribe, Cousin Lis got out of a woman, and he got him a catalog that had women in it you could order one out of--
O: Somethin' like this lonely hearts--
H: And he ordered him one from up in Tennessee somewhere or 'nother. And she come in on the train. And they'd wrote a letter or two. And they'd [arranged to] put a big armband on when she got offen the train where he'd know who she was and she'd know who [he was]. And he ordered one, and he didn't particularly like the looks of that one, and he never did put him armband on, and she stayed till the next train come through, and she got on and went on.
And he got up another correspondence with another one, and he ordered him another one. And worked the same trick with the arm band. And he kinda liked the looks of her, so he put his armband on and went up and got her and brought her down, and she just stayed about a week till she could get back to town, and she caught the train and went.
P: She didn't like him?
O: Well, they said he had a little old bitty somethin', about like a chicken house, and he didn't have no door--you had to walk up, no, just had to stoop down to get in it, to get onto the floor. And she told him that she couldn't live in nothin' like that, and he told her, well, that's all he had and the best he could do, and if she didn't like it she could just leave (laughs), and he didn't, well, she was so nice, and he was so, you know--she was sort of, must have been from a town or somethin'. She was dressed up, they said, and had, you know, all kinds of frilly blouses, you know, long black dresses like they--you've seen it in the paper I guess--and wore these hats. She was just a fancy woman! So, didn't take her very long--I've heared Arnold's mother tell that, said lived down about Landrum somewhere, but it didn't take her long to leave him.
Well, he died down at Landrum, old Uncle Lis did, and is buried down at Landrum Cemetery.
P: Did he ever get married?
O: Oh yes.
7 Aug 1981
SPEAKERS: Gay Thompson (G), Annie Thompson (A), Pam Wilson (P); at Gay Thompson's home in Holbert Cove, Polk County, NC.
G: And they had one, you oughta seen that one. They had his picture over there at that Arledge Reunion--Old Clem. And I wish to God you could've seen that thing.
A: Maybe she saw it!
P: I think I saw that--the big old round picture?
G: Yeah. He had two sticks about this long, and a beard down to here.
P: And he had a long white beard?
G: Well, he never had a lick of sense, just "Hawww" [makes mule sound], "Hawww" (laughter)
A: I never saw such a man in my life as he was.
P: Oh, you remember him?
G: No, I don't, but my mother, well--I barely do remember him riding down the road on an old mule, but don't know that I seen him.
And anyhow, that was the daddy rabbit of 'em all, Old Clem. And I've heard my Daddy talk about him, and he was an old quar crazy thing, and he'd ride an old mule to town, and he claimed that, he got an old--I don't know what war he was in, you know, but well anyhow, he played off deaf. Back then he couldn't hear, and they told somebody what he was doin': he'd take a rotten egg and break it and pour some in his ear. Then he'd go for the doctor, and they'd say, "Shew, man, your head's rotten inside!" and they sent him home.
A: Didn't want to go!
G: No, that's what they told him.
G: No, this old Clem, the old Daddy Rabbit--they told me another one about, uh, let's see, how was it they told this? I forget what, how that went.
Boney Huggins was courtin' his [Clem's] daughter. Well, don't ask me why--Boney Huggins was an intelligent man, a business man, educated man. And he taught school out here, course I don't remember it. And he went out, went out in Texas, and he'd always put a piece in the paper about Polk County, you know, and so on.
He'd go upstairs, and
the old planking up there wasn't nailed, and where they had the bed fixed
And Old Easor, I mean Old Clem, where the planks met on the joists, like this, he's slip a plank back, you know. Well, they'd be sittin' around the fire down there, you know. Well, whenever, he'd go to bed. And said one night, KALUMBA LUMBA!, down he fell in his shirt tails, right in front of [Clem's] daughter and all! And says old Clem hit in on him with a hickory, said, "GET OUT OF HERE EXPOSING YOURSELF BEFORE MY WOMENFOLKS!" (laughter)
And they told about a man went there--back in those days, anybody would just come and spend the night--they would here [even] if you'd never heard tell of 'em, "Come right in!"
A: Now they'd be afraid to have 'em!
G: Yeah, and said that, uh, there was a fellow drove up there and he says, uh, "Can I spend the night?" [Clem] says, "Oh yeah, yeah." Says "My servant, he'll take care of your horse, just come on in." And he says, he says to old Nun his son, "Nun, go feed the gentleman's horse and put him away and give him plenty of food." Well, old Nun knowed the trick, said he went out there, just whacked the leather traces, and whacked the reins, you know.
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