The past is the present for future generations who do not know their history

Posts tagged “Joseph Wheeler

So far away but so near in function…

were the kitchens of the plantations in our area of northern Alabama. Or at least the Pond Springs Plantation and the Cunningham Plantation seemed very far from each other in the horse and buggy days. One commonalty of the two plantation homes were their kitchens.


Pond Springs Plantation,  also known as the Joseph Wheeler Home, Hillsboro, Lawrence County, Alabama

The three houses now on the property include a dogtrot or double log cabin possibly built before 1818, a somewhat later two-story Federal-style house (1830’s), and the main wing built around 1872.

This photograph by Alex Bush, 1935 shows the kitchen at Pond Springs located in Lawrence County, Alabama in the Wheeler Basin community was typical of the kitchens of many plantations. Pond Springs originally was owned by the Hickmans who apparently sold their interest in the plantation, known as Pond Spring, to Colonel Benjamin Sherrod, partner in the initial kitchen at pond springspurchase of the property.

Colonel Sherrod was born in Halifax County, NC, migrated first to Georgia, then about 1818 settled in Alabama where he established several cotton plantations throughout the Tennessee River Valley. Sherrod’s own home, Cotton Garden, was located north of the nearby town of Courtland, and it appears that his eldest son, Felix, and his family lived at the Pond Spring place.

The owner of more than 300 slaves, Benjamin Sherrod was an early Alabama tycoon, with extensive and varied business interests. He also served as chief promoter and stockholder of the Tuscumbia, Courtland, and Decatur Railroad, one of the earliest west of the Appalachians.

The Pond Spring plantation passed from Sherrod’s son, Felix, to a grandson, also named Benjamin Sherrod. In 1859, Benjamin married Daniella Jones of nearby Caledonia plantation, and at the time of his premature death in 1861, the plantation became Daniella’s. Daniella (known as Ella) Jones Sherrod, born in 1841,  was the daughter of Richard Harrison Jones and his wife, Lucy Early, who was the daughter of Georgia Governor Peter Early. The Jones family had moved from Georgia to Alabama in 1822.

After Benjamin Sherrod’s death, Daniella returned to her parents’ home. Caledonia, where in the fall of 1863, she met General Joseph Wheeler while he and his troops camped near the Jones home. They were married following the War in 1866. Wheeler moved his family to New Orleans after the War Between the States for four years, then relocated back at Pond Springs where they raised their family of children.


Cunningham Plantation, now known as Barton Hall, located near Cherokee in Colbert County, Alabama

This reproduction of a drawing by Harry J. Frahn, 1937 of the plan of the kitchen at the Cunningham Plantation in Colbert County, Alabama seems typical of plantation kitchens of that day.

Drawing of the kitchen of Cunningham Plantation.These kitchens both, at Pond Springs and at the Cunningham Plantation, include a bedroom, presumably for the cook and her family. Thus confined, the cook was never relieved from work as she faced constant demands from the main house. John White, a former slave from Texas who lived in a kitchen- quarter, remembered that his proximity to the Big House made him a frequent target of his owner’s temper.

English: Cunningham Plantation (Barton Hall), ...
.


The Depression era…

now, that was a very hard time for everybody.

 
The Peebles family was no exception. They knew hard times. All too well they knew all about hard times. During the depression era they were sharecroppers in Lawrence County in the Courtland and Hillsboro area. Betty Drue Jane Tolbert was born at Mountain Home in November of 1902. Mountain Home was also the summer home for the  General Joseph Wheeler family. I always thought that was a little on the silly side to have a summer home  within a short buggy drive distance from your winter home. But Mountain Home was situated on a little foothill. There it was cooler and the insects were less numerous. For the Tolbert family Mountain Home was their summer home. It was their winter home, spring time home, and fall home. I gather it wasn’t all that much of a ‘home’ to begin with. Betty Drue Jane Tolbert married Robert Duncan Peebles, who was born in Lauderdale County in Center Star. He was born in 1898 and they married in 1917.

Before they were married they would walk around in Courtland. Once while they were walking a bear was there, right

Slena Mae, Preston, RD, and Ellen Peebles 1934

Slena Mae, Preston, RD, and Ellen Peebles 1934

 there in a yard of a  home that still exists today. It must have scared Drue because she recalled it decades later.

Living a sharecropper life is hard on the whole family. The second eldest daughter, Slena Mae Peebles, told of some of the sharecropping homes where the family lived. For most of them, they would put newspaper on the walls for what little protection against the elements it would provide. One place they lived she said the front porch was high and she and the other children would play under there. The cracks in the walls would let the cold wind right through. And the cracks in the floor would give a view of the chickens pecking under the house. She recalled they did not have toys or dolls to play with; but, rather, would break off twigs at the forks of a branch. The fork would make the legs for their headless, armless, faceless dolls.  I might add that she played the game of Jacks with me when I was little, and I would venture to say that she was the Jacks champeen of the world, so she must have had lots of practice with Preston and Ellen growing up. Sometimes in the spring the girls would pick passion flowers, pick off just the right number of pistils or stamen. Presto, they would have a ballerina doll. Although, I doubt they ever saw a ballerina at that point anyway.

One son, R.D. Peebles, imagined himself a preacher. That is him in his little overalls. He would get up on that stump and place those little hands on his gallouses and preach. He would preach hell fire and damnation. At least as best a little guy was able. On that stump, he held very long sermons, it would seem. His sermons often consisted of the all important biblical admonitions of  ‘dog’ and ‘hairpin.’ Now don’t laugh those were pretty impressive words for a little preacher. R.D.’s oldest daughter, Mary Jane Cochran, asked did I know that her Daddy had filled in as preacher at their church. I had not known that.

At Christmas they were truly excited to get an apple or an orange and maybe sometimes a piece of candy. They didn’t have much, but neither did others they  knew, except for the Wheelers. Miss Annie Wheeler had a real porcelain doll. Drue had evidently seen or heard of it.  Drue would show the girls a Sears and Roebuck catalog and ask them which dress did they like best. Preston, Slena Mae, and Ellen would pick out one they liked and Drue would hand sew them one like it.  They would later put the pages to that Sears & Roebuck catalog to good use with a little crumpling. The girls’ dresses were made of flour sacks, as was their underwear. One day, Drue informed Slena Mae that she didn’t have any more flour sacks to make her any drawers and Slena Mae cried at that thought.

Drue’s first school was the Wheeler Basin Church building situated across the highway from the Joe Wheeler home. Slena Mae talked of going to school at Midway. Her teacher was Mrs Glenice _____ . She also taught me when I went to Colbert County High School. Children were often put to work in the fields of necessity. This limited the schooling that the children received. Preston could pick 300 pounds of cotton a day. Slena Mae and Ellen were not far behind. They also hoed cotton for pennies a day. The cotton picking would yield a whole 75 cents…or was the cotton the whole family picked that amounted to 75 cents per day?

Volumes could be written about the memories of their stories and their life. The photo accompanying this posting was made about 1934. The family had just lost a child of about eighteen months in age, J. W.,  to whooping-cough, iirc. Slena Mae told of the little one’s teeth marks that were still in the wooden eating table after he died. He made the teeth marks during teething as they would sit at the table.

In 1940 Reynolds Metals Aluminum Company opened at Listerhill, Alabama. They hired and trained a lot of local men. Robert Duncan Peebles was one of those men. They had moved to Sheffield. They lived in Sheffield the rest of their lives. After a train crushed into the car as Robert and co-workers headed to Reynolds to work and a long hospital stay, Robert D. Peebles retired from Reynolds Metals Company.  He received a gold watch for his years of service. He was a mason, a bass fiddle and fiddle player, and he was talented in making things with his hands. Robert Peebles is the one that even when he died, all his grandchildren seemed to think they were his favorite.

A high school student interviewed Drue Peebles in the 1980’s for a school project that required an oral history of someone who lived during the Great Depression. When asked what did she remember most about the Great Depression, Drue replied simply. She said, “Being hungry.”


Depression era…

1934 Slena Mae Peebles, R D Peebles, Preston Peebles, Ellen Peebles

1934 Slena Mae Peebles, R D Peebles, Preston Peebles, Ellen Peebles

now, that was a very hard time for everybody. The Peebles family was no exception. They knew hard times. All too well they knew all about hard times. During the depression era they were sharecroppers in Lawrence County in the Courtland and Hillsboro area. Betty Drue Jane Tolbert was born at Mountain Home in November of 1902. Mountain Home was also the summer home for the  General Joseph Wheeler family. I always thought that was a little on the silly side to have a summer home  within a short buggy drive distance from your winter home. But Mountain Home was situated on a little foothill. There it was cooler and the insects were less numerous. For the Tolbert family Mountain Home was their summer home. It was their winter home, spring time home, and fall home. I gather it wasn’t all that much of a ‘home’ to begin with. Betty Drue Jane Tolbert married Robert Duncan Peebles, who was born in Lauderdale County in Center Star. He was born in 1898 and they married in 1917.

Before they were married they would walk around in Courtland. Once while they were walking a bear was there, right there in a yard of a  home that still exists today. It must have scared Drue because she recalled it decades later.

Living a sharecropper life is hard on the whole family. The second eldest daughter, Slena Mae Peebles, told of some of the sharecropping homes where the family lived. For most of them, they would put newspaper on the walls for what little protection against the elements it would provide. One place they lived she said the front porch was high and she and the other children would play under there. The cracks in the walls would let the cold wind right through. And the cracks in the floor would give a view of the chickens pecking under the house. She recalled they did not have toys or dolls to play with; but, rather, would break off twigs at the forks of a branch. The fork would make the legs for their headless, armless, faceless dolls.  I might add that she played the game of Jacks with me when I was little, and I would venture to say that she was the Jacks champeen of the world, so she must have had lots of practice with Preston and Ellen growing up. Sometimes in the spring the girls would pick passion flowers, pick off just the right number of pistils or stamen. Presto, they would have a ballerina doll. Although, I doubt they ever saw a ballerina at that point anyway.

One son, R.D. Peebles, imagined himself a preacher. That is him in his little overalls. He would get up on that stump and place those little hands on his gallouses and preach. He would preach hell fire and damnation. At least as best a little guy was able. On that stump, he held very long sermons, it would seem. His sermons often consisted of the all important biblical admonitions of  ‘dog’ and ‘hairpin.’ Now don’t laugh those were pretty impressive words for a little preacher. R.D.’s oldest daughter, Mary Jane Cochran, asked did I know that her Daddy had filled in as preacher at their church. I had not known that.

At Christmas they were truly excited to get an apple or an orange and maybe sometimes a piece of candy. They didn’t have much, but neither did others they  knew, except for the Wheelers. Miss Annie Wheeler had a real porcelain doll. Drue had evidently seen or heard of it.  Drue would show the girls a Sears and Roebuck catalog and ask them which dress did they like best. Preston, Slena Mae, and Ellen would pick out one they liked and Drue would hand sew them one like it.  They would later put the pages to that Sears & Roebuck catalog to good use with a little crumpling. The girls’ dresses were made of flour sacks, as was their underwear. One day, Drue informed Slena Mae that she didn’t have any more flour sacks to make her any drawers and Slena Mae cried at that thought.

Drue’s first school was the Wheeler Basin Church building situated across the highway from the Joe Wheeler home. Slena Mae talked of going to school at Midway. Her teacher was Mrs Glenice _____ . She also taught me when I went to Colbert County High School. Children were often put to work in the fields of necessity. This limited the schooling that the children received. Preston could pick 300 pounds of cotton a day. Slena Mae and Ellen were not far behind. They also hoed cotton for pennies a day. The cotton picking would yield a whole 75 cents…or was the cotton the whole family picked that amounted to 75 cents per day?

Volumes could be written about the memories of their stories and their life. The photo accompanying this posting was made about 1934. The family had just lost a child of about eighteen months in age, J. W.,  to whooping-cough, iirc. Slena Mae told of the little one’s teeth marks that were still in the wooden eating table after he died. He made the teeth marks during teething as they would sit at the table.

In 1940 Reynolds Metals Aluminum Company opened at Listerhill, Alabama. They hired and trained a lot of local men. Robert Duncan Peebles was one of those men. They had moved to Sheffield. They lived in Sheffield the rest of their lives. After a train crushed into the car as Robert and co-workers headed to Reynolds to work and a long hospital stay, Robert D. Peebles retired from Reynolds Metals Company.  He received a gold watch for his years of service. He was a mason, a bass fiddle and fiddle player, and he was talented in making things with his hands. Robert Peebles is the one that even when he died, all his grandchildren seemed to think they were his favorite.

A high school student interviewed Drue Peebles in the 1980’s for a school project that required an oral history of someone who lived during the Great Depression. When asked what did she remember most about the Great Depression, Drue replied simply. She said, “Being hungry.”