A personal recollection of the 50th wedding anniversary celebration of John Thomas Barker and Linnie Blake written by their granddaughter, Mary Ethel Cofer Newton, on March 8, 1977.
A Golden Wedding Anniversary Celebration
Time: Maybe July 4th, 1917 Place: Hense Spring Park, one mile south of Holland, Ga.
These memos' recorded by their granddaughter, Ethel Cofer Newton, believed to be the only survivor who is now 77 years old, March 8th, 1974.
We got word that Uncle Dolf was having a big picnic for grandma and grandpas' fiftieth wedding anniversary at the Hense Spring Park. (My mother, brother and I were living in the old Hense home with Miss Emma B. Hense at this time.) We knew the Hense house would be headquarters and did we get busy, making everything "ship-shape". We brot in white sand and scrubbed all the pine floors and even the old cedar waterbucket until the brass rings shown like gold. All five rooms had a bed in a corner, they were covered with snowwhite homespun coverlets with ruffled pin-up shams. The dottedswiss curtains must be freshly laundered. The dining room was furnished with one long table which was laid with a pure linen white cloth and a blue bowl of "makeshneill" roses in center. The kitchen was spotless with its large wood range with a water jacket - a big cooktable covered in metal. There was a big fireplace at the end where we boiled the pots, baked the potatoes and heated the smoothing irons. Our yards were swept clean. I can remember the boxwoods bordering the walk and an immense Dorothy Perkins rosebush in full bloom. We had pots and vases of these in every available place.
Now for the picnicing area. The Hense Spring seems to bubble up out of solid rock and is rocklined thruout. The water is pure, clear and cold. There was always a fence around the spring with a drinking gourd hanging on the post. Big trees surrounded the entire area with plank seats nailed between the trees. Squirrels played among the trees and many birds nested there. The spring branch ran off along a grassy plot and to me, it was a most wonderful place. The young courting couples from Holland drove down on Sunday evenings, carved their names on the trees and done some honest-to-goodness courting (no neckin') we were different.. Up the hill above the spring was a flat grassy plateau where the Saturday evening ball games were played and where the BarBQ pit was being dug. Miss Emma and I had raked the leaves, cut the grass and repaired the seats.
The men dug the deep pit the day before in which to start the BarBQ, it must cook all night with Uncle Bob Davidson and "Uncle Lige" (negro who were top BarBQ men). Strong iron rods went across on which hung "a goat" a large pig (guess you called him a shoat), a big calf and a yearling, and some rabbits. They made a sauce, can't recall the exact mixture but think it was vinegar, mustard, lots of red pepper and garlic and molasses, never knew what made it brown (maybe a little tobacco juice). They basted and turned the meat all night, it came out a golden brown. It was cooked over hickory chips and had that delicious smoked flavor.
The large wash pot was brought in day before also a big new zinc tub. Mamma started early in making the Brunswick Stew in the pot. I do not know what her base was. I know she put in whole chickens, whole green beans, okra, peeled tomatoes, whole kernel corn, pods of red pepper and pounds of country butter. You have never tasted anything like it.
The tub was for lemonade. Uncle Dolf bro't a big block of ice from Lyerly and with dozens of sliced lemons and pounds of sugar and that fresh spring water and a big tin dipper, all said 'help yourself'.
We didn't have paper plates and cups in those days but there was a big stack of tin plates, tin cups and Kress silverware. The long three plank table was covered with several plys of brown wrapping paper and there was a separate table covered with a red checked cloth for the desserts. The BarBQ meat came out a golden brown and was laid whole on the table with Uncle Bob and Uncle Lige with the big knives to slice off your selection. There were thick slices of Long Horn cheese and barrel dill pickles scattered around. At the end of the table was a big dish pan full of potato salad, my mother made it, the old fashioned kind of buttered potatoes, raw onion, sour pickle, boiled eggs and vinegar. The desserts were pies and cakes (all baked by the Barker girls). There was an egg custard with meringue an inch high (Aunt Battieís specialty) and grandma broít a flour sack full of her tea cakes.
Now my role. I think I was seventeen, guess I looked alright, remember I wore a blue chambry dress, pleated skirt (took an hour to iron that) a middy blouse, white cotton stockings and baby doll shoes. I had a boy friend who kept me company all day and was a lot of help in 'toteing things' from the house to the spring. And we waited on a lot of the older ones who didn't get around too good but most of them sat on the wooden planks between the trees.
Every old person was invited for miles around and most of them came. I am listing those I can remember:
Mr. & Mrs. Tom Barker "Linnie and Tom" (my maternal grandparents) Mr. & Mrs. Jim Cofer "Jim and MaryJane" (my paternal grandparents) Mr. & Mrs. John Brown "Uncle John & Aunt Sis" (he was my grandfather Cofer's half brother) Mr. & Mrs. J. M. VanPelt from Coosa (old neighbors) Mr. & Mrs. Bob Brison "Bob and Ruthie" Mr. & Mrs. Joe Smith "Joe and Cap" (he was a Confederate veteran) Mr. & Mrs. John Clark, Sr (he was a Confederate veteran) Mr. & Mrs. Jules Worsham Mr. & Mrs. Tom Foster Mr. & Mrs. H. B. Garvin from Menlo (Pauline's inlaws) She came with them. Dr. Ben Shamlin and wife from Lyerly Mr. & Mrs. John Mostello from Lyerly (cousins) Mr. & Mrs. John Chambers ? Mrs. Liz Davidson (Uncle Bob Davidson's mother) Mrs. Chas. (Eme) Holland (and Mr. Bob ans Gilbert and Mrs. Gilbert) Mrs. Ellen Worsham Mr. Mack White Mr. & Mrs. Jim Woodard Mr. & Mrs. John Gray ? Mr. & Mrs. Tom House ? Mr. & Mrs. Crumby from Bolling (Aunt Lois Coferís parents) Mr. & Mrs. Bill Cook from Chattoogaville (cousins) "Cousins Charlsey & Billa" Mr. Lige Smith ? Mr. Marsh Hense ? Mr. & Mrs. Earl Moon Mr. & Mrs. John Ratliff Mrs. Hailey Ratliff Mrs. Minnie Holland ? Mr. Sam Jones (he was County School Superintendent) Mr. & Mrs. Billy Meers ? Miss Emma B. Hense Lula and Rufus Brison Clyde Stevenson Mr. Griss Stephenson ?
After everyone had eaten all they could hold and got seated again for a period of smoking, chewing and dipping, and were close to the improvised rostrum, Uncle Dolf who was master of ceremonies, took over. He was a good looking man of about forty, jolly, clever and entertaining and he could sing.
I was first on the program with a reading, had been taking expression from Mrs. Gilbert Holland and she helped me. Mrs. Holland was next with a couple of appropriate numbers (she was good). Next Dr. Ben Shamblin made a few remarks complimentary to Tom & Linnie. Next, Mr. Sam Jones (he was full of jokes and a good speaker). Then Mr. Jules Worsham. His speech was rather long and he had to bring in some politics, he was running against grandpa that year for the office of Justice of the Peace (I think he was a republican and of course grandpa was Democrat). I didn't think much of that but since he complimented me during the time, I guess I forgave him. There was no rebuttal from grandpa but I think he won that year.
Now it was time for the singing, Mr. Brison was there with his fiddle and someone played a juiceharp. Uncle Dolf led off with suggested numbers from the audience. Grandpa's first was
Dixie Yankee Doodle America Battle Hymn of the Republic Darling Nellie Gray Old Folks at Home Suwanee River Barbara Allen (grandma's number, must have been a hundred verses which Uncle Bob sang when he had a few drinks) When You and I Were Young Maggie Old Gray Bonnet Down By the Old Mill Stream Amazing Grace On Jordans Stormy Banks God Be with You Until We Meet Again
was of course the last tune and bro't tears to many eyes.
That was a "gala occasion" for those older ones. I can still see their happy faces. And it was time to go home to feed the chicken and milk the cow before dark. Grandpa insisted they take home a poke of BarBQ and a watermelon (Mr. Rufus had bro't in a load from his patch which we were keeping cool in the spring branch but never did get around to cutting.) Many did take some home. After the congratulations and goodbys the pasture lot was soon empty of all the buggies, surreys and wagons (not an automobile, was only one in the whole county and he wasn't there)
The shades had gone from the springlot with the evening sun coming thru, my feet really did hurt with blisters on my heels and corns on my toes. I suggested to my escort to let's cool our feet off by putting them in the spring branch, he was a timid fellow and didn't think much of the idea. Well, I did anyway and sat there on the green bank until the sun went down.
Hold on, that's not all. We had a square dance that night. The bed was taken down in the big south room. Mr. Brison came over to do the fiddling. We had to draft mamma in to have enough girls for a set, the ones I can remember were Mr. Rufus (he called), Lula, Dora Smith, mamma and me and Blake. John Davidson, Clyde Stevenson and Henry Smith. We danced until Mr. Brison gave out. Mamma lasted and she must have been clean worn out. Well, I didn't have to be rocked to sleep that night.
The next day was clean-up day. The negro tenants came in to help and soon "cleaned up" the remaining BarBQ. I tho't we would never get rid of that goat and to this day, can't stand even the odor of mutton or lamb meat. I gave the baby dolls to a negro girl. I think her name was Mame McClendon, never did I want my feet to hurt like that again.
This story is mostly true. There may be some dates and names not accurate but it is indelibly stamped on my memory. My typing is bad and spelling worse but I hope some day somebody will enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed recording it. To my knowledge, I am the only one living now who was there. It is a lonely feeling but I am looking forward to a big reunion in the after awhile.
(signed) Mary Ethel Cofer Newton 3-31-74
Aunt Liz Davidson, Mrs. Joe Smith and Mrs. John Clark were sisters whose maiden names was White, some of their brothers were Abe, Joe, Mack, John. They came from Texas in a covered wagon, two of the children died enroute of a fever and were buried on the side of the road. They settled in Kincaid Valley, thus the "Whites".
The Hense house which is originally log was there in time of the civil War.
The Hollands, Charles, Pink and Dicy (she married a Mr. Taylor) came from South Georgia after the slaves were freed, they were progressive, bought lots of land, built good homes, worked a lot of negroes and the post office was changed to Holland from Kincaid, Ga. The railroad came thru when my mother was a girl, Aunt Emma married an engineer on the Central of Ga.
The Barkers were married after the Civil War and settled in the Kincaid Valley a few years after, grandpa came from around Rome, Ga. and grandma from Sulphur Springs, Ala. Grandma was an aristocrat but grandpa, just a poor,hardworking fellow but he was schoolteacher, Sunday schoolsuperintendent, Justice of the Peace, preacher. He built a good house and they raised a fine family of children. Thus the "Barkers".
Both my grandmothers were enrolled in Shorter College in Rome when the War broke out. My grandmother Cofer was Mary Jane Vann and was raised in Vanns Valley. Grandpa Cofer came from Middle Georgia. The Ratliffs came from Texas.