A NEW GENERATION
By Lars Meridth Stevenson
My dad, H.R. Stevenson, graduated with the class of 1907 at the Cape Girardeau Normal School. While going to school and teaching since 1902, he had met a girl, Lulu Gladish, that he figured some day to marry.
When the diplomas were handed out in the spring of 1907 he applied for and got the school at Shawneetown. Lulu got a school at Haiti, Mo.
The Christmas week of 1907, Uncle Amos told Dad that he was going to sell the old place and move to Farmington in the spring. He told Dad that he was the only one he had told and he had the first chance to buy the farm. He told him to think about it and let him know by the end of February.
Dad said he got busy and wrote Lulu a letter. They had never talked about what they were going to make a career of. He didn't know if she wanted to settle down on a farm or keep teaching.
Everything was satisfactory with her. By the middle of March, 1908, the old place was deeded to H.R. Stevenson. When their schools were out, they got together and set a wedding day. Lulu wanted to get married on Thursday in June or a Thursday in October. June was at hand why wait.
Uncle Amos had taken several wagon loads of furniture and things to Farmington. When they loaded the last two wagons and were leaving for good, Uncle Amos, Aunt Jennie and Daisy started out first. Carl and Bessie would bring the other wagon. Eura was married and was not living there then. When Carl and Bessie started up the lane and got to where we called, "the two trees,"
there was one of their kittens following them. Carl stopped and picked it up and took it to Farmington.
When they got to their little farm on the out-skirts of Farmington, Aunt Jennie took violently ill, lay down on the floor and died before they got a bed set up for her. An old superstition, "Never move a cat or a broom." Dad said it wasn't the cat that brought on the illness. Aunt Jennie had very poor health. The wagon ride of several days was just too much.
24 JUNE 1908 WEDDING DAY
A white horse named Major was Dad's buggy horse. Dad raised him, the old mare, Bats, died when Major was born. Major was hitched to the buggy early the morning of the 24th. Dad had all the arrangements made but getting a hair cut and the marriage license. When he got to Jackson he got a haircut and the license. Then another five miles to the John Gladish place, where the wedding would take place at six o'clock.
Lulu's girlfriend at college, Edith Alter, was the bridesmaid. Roy's brother, Lang, was the best man, he went in his own buggy. He was the only one from Roy's family there.
Everything went as planned; the reception and everything that goes with a wedding was held there at the house. By eleven thirty the guests were on their way home and the family was being bedded down for the night. The infare, is a thing that you don't hear about now a day, and a few people know about. Marriages were always performed at the bride's house. When the families lived far apart, the groom's family never attended the wedding. The day after the wedding was infare day, the bride had a special dress to wear when they went to meet the groom's family and friends.
The next morning the buggies were hitched up for an early start for the infare. Lang took Edith in his buggy. She stayed with the Stevensons a day then Lang took her to Wittenberg where she caught the train to her home in St. Louis. Dad said they didn't go back through Jackson but took a short-cut past Martha Lewis
Chapel, on to Oak Ridge and Shawneetown. I asked him how many automobiles they met? He smiled and said, "None."
Lulu had never met any of Roy's folks but Lang until this day. This was what the infare was all about. The automobile helped change this.
There were two houses on the old place. The little bungalow that Uncle Lowery built was practically new compared with the old log house. Mom wanted to live in the old house.
Dad bought a 1910 Ford in 1911 from August Vogel, the blacksmith at New Wells, he had it there for a demonstrator. The little bungalow was made into an automobile shed and a workshop. The north room was full of things people had quit using. An old carpet loom, spinning wheels and many other things that were out of date.
We moved to Grandpa's house, on the public road, in 1926. We had quit running the old Ford it was left in the house with the rest of the outdated equipment. The little house was still a shop for anyone who wanted to work on their car. Erroll Shoults was working on his car one morning in the fall of 1929, he left about noon. By one o'clock the building was burning down. He was a chain-smoker. Very likely there was a cigarette butt that wasn't put out. Anyway the old 1910 Ford, loom, spinning wheels, everything went up in smoke. Dad had dropped the insurance on the houses when we left. It wasn't burned for the insurance.
After Mom and Dad were married, he taught the school at Shawneetown for a couple of years. Then Pocahontas School until 1916. By this time there were 5 children in the family, 4 boys and a girl. He decided to quit teaching and go into the dairy business. The old log barn had a thrashing floor and stables for the stock to stay in. This was all torn out and wood stanchions put in to take care of the 14 cows. A big square silo made of wood was built on the north end of the barn.
My dad said, when he was a kid, he never had to go to a neighbor's to see a new piece of machinery work. Granddad was the first to have a new machine in the neighborhood.
Just before the first world war the big talk was tractors were going to take the place of the mule on the farm. In fact, there was a tractor named, "The Bate to Steal the Mule." Uncle Maple was still at home, he and my dad were running the farms. Uncle Maple wanted a Bates but in 1917 they settled for a Moline tractor.
When war was declared all three of my uncles went in. Lang, Maple and Mother's brother Leman. They all came back. Uncle Lang taught school at Sulivan Mo. for a while, then he went to dental school in St. Louis. When he graduated, he married Lucille Chiles and settled in Warrensburg Mo.
Grandpa, Dad, Uncle Maple and we boys were running the two farms plus Great Grandpa Boren's place about a mile north on Big Shawnee Creek. We didn't farm the Boren place much, just cut some hay to winter the stock we kept down there for the winter. It was always something to look forward to in the spring, when it was time to go down and round up the cows and calves that had been running wild all winter.
Uncle Maple married Nora Frissell October 1923, she came to live on the farm.
Grandpa and Grandma went to their place in Pocahontas, most of their things were moved by October.
Mary Helen, Uncle Maple's first child, was born on the farm December 1924. That winter the state started to gravel Highway 25. Uncle Maple got a job on the crane loading gravel from the two Shawnee Creeks. He worked at this job until they finished in September 1925. They left the farm, moved to Cape Girardeau, he operated a crane for the cement co.
The fall of 1924 we had an old sow and four shotes that had ran wild, more or less, in the woods and spring lot for better than a year. We put them up in a pen and fattened them out. They had grown so big, we were going to get a big dock if we sold them on the market. Dad decided to butcher them.
We didn't realize how big they were until we came right to butchering day. Dad realized they couldn't be scalded in a barrel. Martin Lorenze had a scalding tank that we borrowed. When those old Germans came to help butcher, they had never seen such hogs at a butchering. They got the Stillards hung up in a tree and weighed them. The 4 shotes weighed 750 pounds apiece, the old sow weighed 950 pounds. We had meat in the smokehouse, lots of it.
About the middle of December Dad was in the store at New Wells, a bunch of gravel haulers had just come in from Iowa. They rented an old vacant store building to bunk in; now they wanted a place to get their meals.
Ray Harrison was the ramrod of the outfit. Someone had told him to see Mr. Stevenson he might feed them. When Dad came into the store, Ray collared him, told him their situation. Dad told him he had just put about 4,000 pounds of hog meat in the smokehouse, if they could eat that he could probably feed them. They made a deal, they would get three meals a day for 25 cents a meal. There were six of them, they went back to Iowa for Christmas.
After Christmas a couple more fellows came back with them. Ray Harrison and Garold Smith brought their wives; the schoolteacher was boarding at our house that winter. Mom fed ten to twelve people three times a day besides the family.
They were a lively bunch, always joking. They played the piano and sang songs. On Sundays there was always a bunch there. We would go to the old cave in the woods or swim in the creek. This ran into the summer. Grandma Gladish died in July. The two wives of the gravel haulers took over the running of the house while Mom was gone.
Roberta was ten years old big enough to work in the kitchen. This is probably where she got her start feeding hungry people. By the end of August the road was finished. The gravel haulers and their Model T Ford trucks were all gone—and the hog meat too.
Uncle Maple moved as soon as the job was over. That left the farms for Dad to take care of. He had four boys big enough to do lots of work, if you could keep them off the creek and out of the woods. Dad always said, "Put one boy out to work and you have one boy—Put two boys out and you have half a boy, put three boys out and you have nobody at all."
The big decision, will we stay in the old log house or move over to Grandpa's house? It was a new house and on the public road. The lane through the woods to the old log house had never been graveled. There was no electric or indoor plumbing in this part of the country. The electric line came through in 1937.
We stayed in the log house that winter and talked it over. I was fifteen that October. I can well remember, I was a little reluctant to leave the old place it was home to me. The decision, was to move. We could remodel the barn put in steel stanchions for 15 cows, a silo was there. The move was made the end of May 1926. We didn't get the barn fixed for cows until September.
The old log house had been home for many people for one hundred years, now it was empty. Like the loom, spinning wheels and coal oil lamps, its use for living quarters was fading into history.
When I was a kid and heard Grandpa, Uncle Lynn, and Great Grandma tell about Indians, and having a pet bear, it always seemed to me that it couldn't be there, it had to be somewhere else. The stories, if they could be told, of things that happened at and around the old house would fill a big book.
I don't know how they celebrated Christmas when they first came from North
Carolina. After the Germans settled in that part of the country, they had quite a celebration. They had fire crackers and gunshots to shoot the old year out and the new year in. I can remember them shooting anvils at Old Appleton. They didn't make much noise but it shook the ground for miles around. We could feel the old log house shake five miles away.
The front porch was in bad shape. It needed a new roof, and the floorboards were in bad shape. Mom wanted a screened in porch. After the first world war Dad got Mr. Gus Sachse to build it.
When they took the big flat rock steps out from the west end of the porch, we found a little brass cannon barrel about four inches long. We showed it to Grandpa, his eyes lit up, he said, "I'll be dogged."
He told this story. He said that he and his brothers got the cannon for Christmas about the time of the Civil War. He said they loaded it with powder, and of course it was black powder. Set it on the front porch aimed at the yard. They put a red hot poker to the touch hole, there was a loud bang. Grandpa said when the smoke cleared they found the wheels and pieces of the carriage but they had no idea of where the barrel went.
I set claim to the cannon, I would tie it onto a stick and shoot it. One night I had it in my hip pocket when we were coon hunting. I got home, I didn't have it. I lost it somewhere between Muddy Shawnee, Flatrock and Buckeye Creeks. Whoever finds it, if ever, will never know the story of the cannon my Granddad got for Christmas back in the Civil War days.
The safety features at the old place were few. The buildings were put far enough apart, so if one caught on fire, it wouldn't endanger the other buildings. The best safety features were instilled in your mind.
When I think back over the one hundred years that the Stevensons lived there, the things we had to deal with and use, would give these safety people of nowaday a blood hemorrhage.
The work at night, around the barn, was done by lantern light. When I think back over the years; how many times the ladder, to the hay loft, had been climbed, by so many different people, with a coal oil lantern on their arm. It was hung on a nail in a log while the hay was being thrown down. There was one thing for sure. The person was always conscious of the lantern at all times. You knew if you dropped it, that hay would go up like gun powder. There were certain ways to do things, that's the way you were taught, and that's the way you did. The safety feature was, you knew what to do and you did it.
The log house had a big fireplace in the living room. The bedroom on the east side of the living room had double doors. When they were opened it made quite a large room. The wood floors were bare in the summer time. When fall came, Mom would put straw on the floor, the loom woven carpet was put over the straw, and tacked down around the edge with carpet tacks. It made a nice bed for kids to lay down on in front of the fire and go to sleep.
At Christmas, there was a cedar tree brought in from the woods and put up in the bedroom. The tree was decorated with strings of popcorn, different little ornaments, and candles, of all colors, as big as your finger, were clamped on the limbs. When the candles were lit in the evening, and a big roaring fire in the fireplace, coal oil lamps for light. No one thought the house was in danger of burning down. Back in those days things didn't go unattended like in this day.
"We boys,"—how did it come about? We kids could play around the barn, car shed and the granary. It was fun to get into a bin of wheat; we would tie our overall legs tight around our ankles and fill our overalls up with wheat and walk around like fat men. If we wanted to go the spring branch the holes in the rocks, or wherever, we had to get permission. We would tell Sis to go and ask Mom if "we boys" could go to wherever. That was just what she asked Mom. Can "we boys" go to the holes in the rocks? That was quite an expression in the family.
Dad and Mom moved to Fruitland in 1941 and lived close to Roberta. Gladish was running the farm during the war. When the war was over, I parked my trailer at the farm. I helped with the farming and did soil conservation work. By 1949 John was in California, Robert in Florida. That winter Gladish decided to move to Arizona in the spring. John said if I would come to California, he would get me a job on the gold dredge. Dad said he wasn't going back to the farm. The farm was sold to Otto Wachter, May, 1949.
The old log house by this time wasn't even used for a storage place. The roof was gone, it was being gradually torn down and logs used for firewood. When I came back from the Korean War, there wasn't a building there. The only thing still there is the old hand dug well.
As you have read through this history, my ancestors were very religious. There were preachers, little Gabriels and those that didn't travel on Sunday.
My great grandpa and great grandma Stevenson were very religious. My dad said, if his grandpa didn't get shaved Saturday night he didn't pick a razor up on Sunday. Grandma did all her cooking for Sunday on Saturday. When Dad was a kid and there on Sunday, he couldn't play with his little wagon. He had to read Bible stories or the catechism.
James Stevenson and Mitchel Fleming were among the few that started the old Apple Creek Presbyterian Church in 1821. I don't know how many of James's children stayed with the church. All of Alexander's children left the Presbyterian church but my granddad, A.C. Stevenson.
I was with my granddad a lot. I'd ride behind him on a horse, when he checked the cattle at the Boren place. Replanting and hoeing corn, and just sitting and talking. There was always a topic of politics or religion to be discussed. He told me that it hurt him when all of his brothers left the church. Their ancestors were Presbyterian and that's what they should be.
Times were changing fast. I was sitting in the car with granddad, north of Shawneetown one day waiting for a woman's meeting to break up. He told me there used to be a house across the road there, that one of the Hinkels lived, they had several girls.
He told me that there were five or six girls right around there that he could have married when he came back from his western trip. He said when he told his folks he was going to marry Julia Boren, they didn't approve of her. She didn't belong to a church, her dad was a left hand fiddle player and she was the belle of the party. It was decided if she would join the church it would be alright for them to get married.
When Dad, H.R. Stevenson, married Lulu Gladish she didn't belong to a church either but there was nothing said from Dad's side of the family. Granddad probably remembered his situation and kept quiet.
When Dad started teaching the school at Shawneetown, there were kids there from six to eighteen and nineteen years old. He took the teenagers and started a high school in the Grange Hall at Shawneetown. When he started teaching science and physics, that went over with the old Presbyterians about like Uncle Amos's temperance lectures in the German community. When he gave a play, which he really liked to do, there was a card game in the play. When the table was set up and the cards shuffled, several of the Presbyterians got up and walked out. The school didn't last but a couple of years. Dad taught at Pocahontas until 1916, then he went strictly to farming.
The Old Apple Creek Church was gradually losing members. In the early 1920's they couldn't pay a preacher, so the doors were closed just a good hundred years after it was started.
My dad and granddad thought it would be nice to go out there on Sunday morning, and have an open house for anyone that wanted to come and sing songs and sorta use it for a community building. They wouldn't have to call it anything.
When the powers to be heard about this, Preacher Shone was sent there to straighten things out. At the meeting that was called, Dad got up to speak his piece. The preacher told him to sit down, that he was out of order and he was the one they were after. Granddad let them know that the confession of faith and predestination didn't mean anything to him, and he didn't think anyone understood it. To make a long story short they were both excommunicated from the church.
My dad and granddad never had anything to do with any other church. Granddad had read literature on many denominations of Christianity and came to the conclusion that a belief didn't satisfy his hunger for knowledge.
"For those that believe there is no explanation necessary.
For those that don't believe there is no explanation possible."
Grandpa and Grandma were living in Pocahontas, Mo. when Grandma had a stroke in June 1942, Dad took them both to Fruitland. Grandma died in July and Grandpa died the following October.
My dad and mother died at the same place. Mother died 17 September 1967. Dad died 22 December 1977.
After Mother died, Dad went on living in the old frame house. It needed a new rood and the foundation was half eaten by termites. It wasn't worth fixing up.
When I retired in 1970, I went back and helped tear the house down and set up a mobile home in its place for Dad. He liked it fine.
Wanda and I were living in a trailer at that time. We were in and out of there quite often until 1975. I decided to help Roberta take care of Dad. I pulled my trailer beside his mobile home. There was plenty of help there to take care of him. Grandchildren, great grandchildren, but I just wanted to be with him. If there was any in-law conflict I never knew it.
It was interesting to drive with him in the country, where he had lived all of his 90 years, and three generations before him. There was a story for every turn in the road. We would sit and talk all afternoon. There were stories told that will never be told again.
He could talk on many different subjects. There was nothing he liked better than get out at night and talk to the stars. I have never enjoyed any more time in my life than I had the last few years I spent with my dad.
I quit believing when I realized it didn't get me a grade in school. I either know or I don't know. I know nothing whatever about the hereafter, but I do know that my life in the here with my family and friends has been a pleasure.
This history started out with Capt. Jas. Stevenson. He had a son James II who married Jane Fleming. They had a son Alexander K. who married Elizabeth Clodfelter. They had a son Alpheus C. who married Julia Boren. They had a son Hugh Roy who married Lulu Gladish. They had a son Lars Meredith who married Wanda Garrett. They have no children. When this history is continued it will have to be done by a different limb on the family tree. I will be known as a spike knot, in timber language. I wonder if the bark will grow around the spike like a pine, or away from it like the Diamond Willow?
"THE PAST NEVER CHANGES,
YOU LEAVE IT AND GO ON TO THE PRESENT,
BUT IT IS STILL THERE,
WAITING FOR YOU TO COME BACK."