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Ed Butler is fortunate to know many stories about his ancestors. Some of the stories have been handed down for several generations. Others are his experiences. Often they bring to mind more questions than they answer. If you were homesteading land in 1821 and your husband went to clear land one afternoon and totally disappeared, how would you survive? Could you survive a fifty-mile trip in an ox cart, much of it through swampy woodlands, with three small children? The youngest was not old enough to eat solid food! Do you know anyone fourteen years old that left home and was gone for nearly six years before returning. Ed states that his Dad is the only person he ever knew that had traveled and lived in a covered wagon and the only person he knew that had trained and worked three yokes of oxen. His Dad milked cows for sixty-two years and was an “animal whisperer” long before the term “horse whisperer” was coined. Ed’s Mother had a two-year teachers certificate and taught school in a one-room schoolhouse before she got married. She sure knew how to maintain order in her classroom! Have you ever eaten dried Tennessee strawberries? How many people that you know have owned a horse and top buggy and have driven it in a local parade?
These stories and many others are told in this narrative. Often, Ed provides details and explains the terms he uses so today’s reader can understand how we was raised and how eight generations survived the hardships they encountered. He is amazed that a number of people that read the first edition, have commented that some of the “old folks” in their family have told similar stories about their hard times and hard work. His stories as well as the stories of how your ancestors survived are all a part of our American history. It is hoped that you will preserve your family history also!
I love your book! It brings back a lot of memories. Even though we grew up several hundred miles apart we had many of the same experiences. I grew up in middle Tennessee in the mountains of Overton and Putnam County. One of the stories you told was about helping your Dad build a sled. I remember helping do that same thing. We also used a sassafras tree for the sled runners. I think sassafras wears better than many kinds of wood and is lighter than some trees and it does not rot very easily. We did not own a farm wagon and used that sled for many things. We must have built some sideboards to go on it as I remember gathering corn and using it to haul the corn to the corn crib. We used it to haul manure to the field when we cleaned out the barn and stables every spring. We hauled firewood to the house on that sled and used it for many other things.
You mentioned some of your ancestors that served in the Confederate Army. My Great Great Grandfather served in the Union Army and his brother served in the Confederate Army. I really enjoyed reading about what your ancestors did during the Civil War. I don’t think they had trouble getting along after the war because I never heard stories about them not getting along. I remember hearing the old folks telling about my Great Great Grandfather logging with oxen. He used a cart. Somehow he would put the big end of the log on the cart so it would be easier to pull. The cart had two wheels and kept the log from digging in the ground or getting caught on a rock or tree root. It had a tongue so the oxen could steer it. Oxen are very strong but the cart made it possible for them to pull large logs up or down the mountains.
My Dad went blind when I was ten years old and I had to do a lot of the work. We raised hogs, cows, and chickens and farmed with mules until I was about grown. Dad bought a small tractor in 1958. It was a 1952 model “Red-Belly” Ford. If you are old enough, you know what a “Red-Belly” Ford is. If you are not that old, ask someone that is that old. George Johnson was the Ford tractor dealer in those days and was located on Spring Street across from where the Veterans Building is located today. Dad got the tractor, a plow with two 12 inch bottoms, and a mounted disk harrow for $690. He did not have any money but signed a note and promised to pay on the note every time he sold some pigs. Years later I saw Mr. Johnson in a place of business. He had sold the dealership and was working in that business. We talked a few minutes and I asked him how he could afford to sell a tractor and equipment to a blind man that was led into his business by a fifteen year old boy? He just smiled and said, “everyone paid their bills in those days”! That tractor sure made life a lot better for me. Plowing a field with a pair of mules was very hard work for me and the mules.
I really like your story about hog killing as I remember the hard work it took to do that. We did not save the blood to make blood pudding or some of the other pig parts you talked about but Mother did make hog lard biscuits. A lot of afternoons when I got home from school, one of her biscuits was my afternoon snack. You mentioned that you all did not have a TV until you were about grown. I was 15 when we got our first TV. | Burt Sweat, Cookeville, TN
“Memory Lane Was A Gravel Road For Eight Generations by Ed Butler.” A good read for anyone who enjoys memories of family life growing up in the country. Interesting stories of generations of family life and the country ways of survival. This book was an enjoyable read and I highly recommend it. | Roy Glen Spurlock, Cookeville, TN
For an enjoyable and informational read, I highly recommend Ed Butler’s “Memory Lane Was a Gravel Road for Eight Generations”. Due to the longevity of Mr. Butler’s ancestors he was privileged to hear recollections of historical events from eyewitnesses. His unique ancestry and upbringing enabled him to gain experiences denied to most of his generation. Because of his conversational writing style even Mr. Butler’s detailed descriptions of food preservation and processing is fascinating–transporting the reader to a past era. The pictures included in the book are treasured additions to this written documentation of the past. | Linda Vossel – Cookeville, Tennessee
This book, “Memory Lane was a Gravel Road for Eight Generations”, has brought back so many memories of my own upbringing in rural Oklahoma and Texas during the 1930’s! It was almost as if someone had written my own life story, as so many of the details and descriptions of growing up in the rural South resonated with me. ‘The good ole days’ for many of us from that era led straight down that same gravel road! | Bill Worley – Sulphur Springs, Texas
The book reminded me of my days as a young boy living on my Granddad’s small farm in northern Arkansas. Up every morning at 4 a.m. to milk the cows; slop buckets to feed the hogs; smoke house to hang the salt/sugar rubbed hogs; a 2-seater outhouse; wood fired stove with wonderful Granny prepared food (fried okra-my favorite); gravy and bisquits and molasses (from sugar cane) every morning; plowing a garden behind my granddad’s mule(gee&haw commands); fried chicken from hens with snapped-off heads and much more. Wouldn’t trade memories of those days for anything.-thanks Mr. Ed | Jim Mitchell – Cookeville, Tennessee