Kukawalla’s Spring

I found this story, along with copies of transmittal letters to several magazines, in Mom’s stuff. There was even one response – a refusal. It was written in the mid-1950s and describes a place near the old family homestead on Kincaid Mountain. At that time the Uncle Remus tales were quite popular along with Disney’s Song of the South. Mom’s attempts at recreating the dialects of the south fell far short of the genius of Joel Chandler Harris, but it still makes a charming story.

One thing I found amusing in the story is the “tater patch”. While our part of Florida is known for growing potatoes, I don’t ever remember digging potatoes up at The Farm.

Dolph’s Letters – June 1909

Dolph Barker

Dolph Barker

Wednesday Evening
June 30th ’09

My Dear Lois:-

As it has almost grown to be a habit for me to write you on Wednes. night, I will endeavor to ans. your most appreciated letter I received yesterday.

There is nothing I enjoy more than reading your letters. They kindly remind me of by gone days when we had better opportunities to converse than we have now but I will try and content myself by writing and looking to the future, hoping that I may some day (and that in the near fut.) have another opportunity of seeing you and fulfilling that pledge that we made on that fatal Sunday night. I did hate to leave you that night for I knew that it would be a long time before I would see you again. It was not mysterious to me why the hat was left in the buggy. Was it for you? I haven’t been at the pond since. It has no attractions for me now. I suppose though that it is still there judging from the direction the new quartet drives out every Sunday afternoon. Wish that it was so that we could accompany them but at present, Fate seems to be against us. But I have one consolation. Aug. will soon be here and I will soon know whether you are game to back up your pledges or not.

Please don’t think for one minute that I am doubting you in the least, but sometimes great things that are not expected happen in less than 30 days. Still I hope that we will be fortunate enough not to let anything come between us to cause either of us to think of breaking our vows. I know that I will not, and I have confidence enough to believe the same of you.

I don’t know what time I can get away from here now. Expect it will be about the 15th of Aug. Will let you know in plenty of time to meet me at Nashville. I intend to go from there out West. That is if I don’t get broke and if I do you need not look for me until I get a position. I am going to buy peaches and I am liable to make and I am liable to lose. I think I have sold out. Will know this week. Daisy will keep you posted in regard to my financial condition.

I have promised to take her out dining Sun. P.M. and I am going to try to entertain her so that it will be a day long remembered. She seems to be very anxious to know whether you are going to make application for this school for another year or not. I could tell her but I will not for I do not aim for you to teach school another year if I can prevent it. That is if you like house-keeping better.

You said something about writing you every Wednesday night. I will have to get mighty busy to fail but through shipping season I generally haft to go day and night and if I should fail you will know the reason.

I expect you will be visiting at Ashland at that time and it will be immaterial with you whether you get a letter or not. Let me know when you go and I will try and send you and Dick a crate of peaches.

I am very sorry that you will not get to see the Dr. play ball. Am satisfied you will enjoy the game immensely.

Everything is ready for the camping as soon as peaches are over. I am anticipating my last big times in Ga. on that trip. Hope I will not miss my anticipations. If you were only here I know I would not. We will not be gone more than a week. Will have some Chattanooga girles with us. I like Chatt–. Think I will make it my first home provided I can get you to consent but you dislike the Times so that I don’t know whether I could get you to live in the town.

You said that you would like to know what I told Gert that night. You must know what she ask me. She wanted to know if we were going to marry and I told her that we were. I would like to know what you know about that night in Apr. If anything happened to mar Newt’s happiness I do not know it. I think they will marry if no one interferes. They seem to be devoted to each other very much.

I hope you will make a grand success of your entertainment. Am satisfied you will have everything up to date. How is the old maid coming? I suppose this hot weather kindly frets her. You have said or done something that has caused her to suspision you. It may be that she has been noticing you Sat. letters coming so regular. We will call on her when she gets in La. Probably by that time her hair will be smoother.

I know my letters are very entertaining for you on Sundays for I know that it takes you most all day to read them and for fear you don’t get through with this one and haft to continue on Monday will close expecting to receive an ans. in Tues. mail.

Devotedly Yours

letter graphic

A Golden Wedding Anniversary Celebration

For John Thomas Barker and Linnie Ann (Blake) Barker
Sponsored by their son Adolphus “Dolf” with sisters assisting

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 Battie’s specialty) and grandma bro’t 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 and 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 Cofer’s 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
Yankee Doodle
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.

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 school superintendent, 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.

Source: A copy of the original, handwritten account along with a typed transcription are part of the Barker Family Collection now maintained in the author’s archive. 


Dolph’s Letters

Dolphs Letters
In 1908, Lois Link left her family in Thomasville, Tennessee, to take a position teaching at the Holland School – a one-room school in rural north Georgia. She taught there one year then spent the next four years teaching in small rural schools around Georgia and Alabama. Her tenure at the Holland School was significant because there is where she met Adolphus Montgomery Barker (Dolph), the only son of John Thomas Barker and Linnie Blake. Born in Lyerly, Georgia, Dolph (1872-1921) was a graduate of Gaylesville High School. At the time he met Lois, he owned a store in Lyerly, Georgia, while also managing the family farm on Kincaid Mountain near Holland. Lois and Dolph were married in Nashville, Tennessee, on February 12, 1913.

Lois Link (1887-1968) was the daughter of Professor Samuel Albert Link and grew up in the education business where she had assisted her father with his own school in Tennessee. She was 21 years old when she arrived in Holland to accept her first paid teaching position.
Because the Holland community was so small and the Barker farm not far from the school, it’s easy to assume that Lois met Dolph Barker shortly after her arrival. We don’t know much about her time at the Holland School, but at the end of the term she returned home to Tennessee and the letters from Dolph began. From then until February 12, 1913 they wrote each other at least once a week. During this period, she continued to teach at other schools in Georgia.

Nancy Duke Murphy wrote about Lois’ teaching career in her family history [The Links of Our Family and Connected Kin, Nancy Duke Murphy & Josephine Duke McMahan, March 2002]:

Soon after high school graduation at age nineteen, Lois started her own teaching career. It began in Holland, GA, a small town in the northern part of that state. At the time, a few weeks stint of institutional training was all that was required of a beginning elementary teacher. With little training and in a school a long way from home, Lois Link started a teaching career. She was a very young woman.

There were several years spent by Lois teaching in the Georgia schools. She was at McDonough south of Atlanta, then at Albany, and back to Holland, Ga. An interest in one Adolphus Montgomery Barker, who lived in nearby Lyerly, GA, probably decided the last move.

Holland School 1909 The Holland School was originally built in 1896, making it one of the oldest schools in Chattooga County. It was located just south of the New Hope South Baptist Church and served the Holland community until the 1940s when its students were combined with those in the Lyerly community. Three different buildings housed the school. This photograph shows Miss Link’s class in front of the second building. (She is the tall woman wearing a white blouse in the center back of the photo.) In 1914, a larger school was built for the growing population. After Dolph’s death in 1921, Lois returned to teaching at the Holland School until she moved her family back to Tennessee in 1927.

Much of Lois and Dolph’s courtship consisted of letters. While only a few of Lois’ letters still exist, she kept many of Dolph’s letters. Dolph’s letters to Lois are full of local news and gossip, giving us a unique picture of this small rural community. For his grandchildren, this is our only link to him.

The first letter is from Dolph and is dated June 9, 1909. It is addressed to Lois at the family home in Thomasville, Tennessee. The school year has recently ended and she has returned home for the summer.

June 9th Letter

Wednesday Evening 6/9/09

Dear Miss Lois:-

Your highly appreciated letter received Monday and I must admit that I was delighted to hear from you. It seems like an age since I have seen you but you know that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Things are about as usual at Holland. Nothing has transpired of great importance since you left except Miss Fannie Lou is attending commencement at Milledgeville this week. I know the college felt highly honored having such noted guest. I don’t suppose Holland will be large enough to hold her when she gets back. Am looking for her to take up her abode at Sprite. I was away Sunday and didn’t get back to Holland until eight P.M. Stopped to see Mr. W— Collided with Bub. He was sitting up there crosslegged smoking his pipe of ease. Nothing to mar his happiness until I made my appearance. Then he began to grow a little nervous. He won’t leave her one minute just followed her around like a pug dog. Of course there was no cause for him to be allarmed (sic) but he didn’t understand the situation. Still I have sighted a light house and think I will land my boat yet, after having been tossed by wind and wave for a fortnight. I am going up there some night before long (If she will allow me) and see what can be done. To be sure it is a very difficult undertaking but the old adage says, “when there is a will there is a way.”

Gert say that she misses us very much. Says that Bub does not know how to work anything, that it is nearly impossible to keep oil, for you know that he has to keep a brilliant light. Tige may write but he is not going to make any calls. He had enough of that folding beadstead when he was out here before. I would love to see him and take another lesson in two-stepping for I think he is very graceful on the floor.

I haven’t seen Big Sis since you left. They made some cream over there the other night and she must be foundered. Lou was telling me that she was going to marry. That too bad. Don’t you pity me?

They are arranging a camping trip on Lookout Mt. some time in the next month. Mrs. Spencer from Trion will have charge of the party. You must come and go with us. We are going to take two tents. There will be about 12 in the crowd.

What portion of Ala. are you thinking of teaching school in? You must not get plum out of the world. Remember I am coming to see you about the first of Aug. or before. Am sorry that you didn’t get to go boat riding. I know that you were both disappointed.

You must be good and go to Sunday school. I am afraid that you will go off in heathernism since you have gotten so far away that you can not hear Tommie preach.

I have been worrying this week over a problem. I have been trying to figure out how long Niagara will stand but have not been able to solve it yet. Hope they won’t fall any ways soon.

Will close as it is growing late.

Excuse haste and write real soon.

Devotedly yours

The Farm

We chuckle today about snowbirds – northerners who spend the winter months here in warm and sunny Florida – but in the days before air-conditioning it wasn’t unusual for many Florida families to escape to the Smoky Mountains in the summer. Our family was no exception, only we headed to the mountains of northwest Georgia and The Farm.

Last sunrise at the Chattoogaville farm before it was sold.

To us it was always just The Farm. Many summers Mom would pack us all up into the family car and make the 500+ mile – pre Interstate – trek to the tiny community of Holland, Georgia, to enjoy the pleasures of rural northwest Georgia. We always looked forward to those trips.

Just after the Civil War, our Barker great-grandparents bought land on Kincaid Mountain – just south of Holland – and began raising their family. Our grandfather, Dolph, was born there. Mom, and her brother and sisters, were born just up the road in Lyerly. Grandmother Lois moved the family to Tennessee several years after Dolph died, but did not sell the Barker home place in Georgia. As her children grew and left home, they began wandering the country. Uncle Tom served as a Seebee during the war. Later he traveled the country working as an electrical engineer building power plants and other exotic (to us) projects. Mary and Lin spent time working in Tennessee, Florida, New Orleans and Georgia. Although Tom was married briefly after the war, Mom was the only one with children. Aunts Lin and Mary never married.

The Barkers - Mary, Lois, Lin and TomWhen Lois retired, she and her three single children returned to Georgia. The old home place on Kincaid Mountain was no longer habitable so the family bought another farm a few miles up the road. The new property bordered the little country church where the Barker family was buried. The house sat on a hill with Kincaid Mountain rising behind it. It looked out across the valley to another mountain – I don’t remember which one.

This is The Farm of our childhood.

There were many “chores” to keep us occupied – feeding chickens, plowing fields with Uncle Tom and picking vegetables for meals. There were kids our age in the neighborhood for entertainment and we easily adjusted to country living.

Plowing with Uncle TomEach summer there would be at least one special excursion. One year we panned for gold at Dahlonega. We made several trips up Lookout Mountain to “see” Rock City, ride the incline and visit Ruby Falls. Of course we visited the Choo Choo in Chattanooga, but we also visited the Civil War battlefields in the area – Chickamauga and Lookout Mountain – and learned that our great-grandfather fought in both.

A lot of my memories are just snapshots – one picture with little else to back it up. . .

  • A big family picnic at Cousin Marcus’ cabin. The cabin was built next to a spring so the front porch sat right at the edge of the water. We were fascinated with the outhouse.
  • There were lots of border collies used to herd cattle on the neighborhood farms. One summer Mom bought a puppy which we brought home with us. Nina was one of the best dogs of my childhood. The other was one of her pups.
  • After they began raising pigs, one of the sheds was turned into a smokehouse. I remember the hams hanging from the rafters and the heavenly smells.
  • Cousin Rob Dan’s bomb shelter. I don’t really remember what it looked like, just how “progressive” (it had an entirely different meaning back then) he was for having one. We Florida folk couldn’t have one, because we couldn’t dig more than 3 feet without hitting water.

Kudzu and AlfalfaSeveral years after grandmother died, they sold the Holland farm and bought another in Chattoogaville – a few miles away. This farm backed up to the river and had a huge spring on the property. It was a beautiful place, but the house was right up on the highway. For years they worked on that house – transforming it from a four-room farm house into a split-level with suites for each of them and multiple parlours to hold all their collected treasures.

By this time we were working adults and only able to make short visits – no more long summer vacations. I lived in the Macon area for several years after leaving the Air Force and I loved going up there for weekends. We didn’t do much – walk the farm, visit neighbors and cousins, enjoy the fall color and eat lots of good food – but it was always a welcoming place.

I always made a point to go up there for Columbus Day weekends. We’d drive through the countryside enjoying the fall colors and tramp up to the Old Home Place on Kincaid Mountain. As a child I vaguely remember the remains of a chimney, but by this time even that was gone. Still, there was something spiritual about the place – a friendly, relaxing and welcoming feeling.

New Hope South CemeteryI’d always come home from these visits with my car full of both fresh and canned vegetables – and often some special dish or baked treat.

These Barkers have moved one last time – to join the rest of the family at the little cemetery in Holland. The Chattoogaville farm was sold, but the Old Home Place is still in the family. It’s our connection to the people who are no longer with us.