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. 

The Joys of Blogging

Today I celebrate another year of blogging. The blog world has changed a lot in the last 11 years but the joy of blogging still remains. I was inspired to start blogging by an Army nurse who was serving in a field hospital in Iraq. She emailed stories home and someone (her brother, I think) posted them on a blog. Her stories provided her personal view of the war. Through her blog I found others (remember blogrolls?). I could see the war from their perspective. And, through the comments section we could let them know that we knew and appreciated what they were doing.

I started blogging in October 2003. My first blog was a sort of tech support site for family and friends. It wasn’t long before I found I was writing more articles about researching family history and the tech tools that could support it. In those days the comment section was a mini community center. It was also how many of the early geneabloggers got acquainted. Through those comments I met some amazing people. I call many of them friends even though we have never seen each other face-to-face. Many of us met thanks to Jasia at Creative Gene and her Carnival of Genealogy. She inspired us to write with delicious topics. My favorites were the annual swimsuit and cars editions. Terry Thornton of Hill Country of Monroe County is no longer with us but in the early days he was always posting encouraging comments. Through them and others we became a community. I have enjoyed watching that community grow and prosper.

Like most of us, I’ve made some amazing connections. I’ve met a number of cousins – many willing to share their stories along with their research. Thanks to blogs, I have personal relationships with experts in all areas of genealogical research who are always ready with a helping hand. And I can walk into a genealogy conference just about anywhere and be surrounded by old friends – even if I’m seeing them for the first time.

My blogging keeps evolving. Today my “tech” blog – The Society Journal – is focused on helping small societies take advantage of blogs and other tech tools. Moultrie Creek now includes local history along with the family history. In two months, my home town starts celebrating its 450th anniversary as our nation’s oldest city. Although my family has only lived here for 90 of those years, we have connections to this area going back to colonial days. There are plenty of stories yet to tell . . .

Thank you all for sharing your love of genealogy, your stories and your friendship. I am honored to be a part of this amazing community.

St. Augustine Post Office 1906

Post Office 1906

St. Augustine Post Office c. 1906 photographed by the Detroit Publishing Co.

The Post Office was originally the Government House. A government building has been at this location since 1598. It housed the colonial governors and served as the administrative center for Spanish, British and American governments. Once Florida became an American territory and later a state, it was used as a courthouse, customs house and post office. Although those other uses diminished over time, it remained a post office until 1965. There were structural changes along with the administrative ones. A new wing was added at about the point where the two women are in the photograph along with a courtyard. Today it serves as a museum and visitor information center.

This photo was taken from the west plaza looking east. Today, the fountain remains along with the William Wing Loring monument which is located at about the point where the camera was positioned for this photograph.

The Future of Memories

Future of Memories Cover
What are you doing with your family memories? Are you looking for new and creative ways to share your family history research with others? The Future of Memories is an idea book showing how you can put the applications you already have to work with affordable services to share your family history. Some of the project ideas mentioned in the book include:

  • Create your own Ken Burns-style photo documentary using software already on your desktop. Add narration, background music and the zoom-and-pan effects Ken Burns made famous.
  • Learn how a busy mom can build an amazing baby book using only her iPhone.
  • Discover the secret to get your family to show up for a family portrait and create a photo full of personality.

This primer introduces new technologies and shows how to take advantage of the opportunities they offer to produce quality histories at a reasonable price. It discusses the skills needed to create production-ready projects and suggests resources to help you get started. The project section is full of ideas and examples.

  • Author: Denise Barrett Olson
  • Publisher: Moultrie Creek – October 2011
  • Formats: PDF – $2.99, Kindle – $2.99

A New Fence for Tolomato Cemetery

Tolomato Cemetery

Tolomato Cemetery – photo from the author’s collection at Flickr.

Tolomato Cemetery is one of the historic cemeteries in St. Augustine – our nation’s oldest city. It is a beautiful cemetery but it is currently surrounded by an ugly chain link and barbed wire fence. The cemetery’s preservation association is raising money to replace the ugly fence with a new one that is appropriate to the period while providing protection to the site. You can help by visiting the Tolomato Cemetery Preservation Association’s site and making a contribution to the effort.