W.T. Martin Letter 22 January 1927

Contributed by Jann Woodard.

This is such a neat letter, but the last part was clipped from the newspaper prior to micro filming. Still, I think it is worth posting.

Article appeared in the Advance-Monticellonian, Feb. 1927:

Camden, Arkansas
January 22, 1927

The Advance-Monticellonian
C.C. Whittington, Publisher
Monticello, Ark.

Dear Sir:

I have just read an article in your valuable paper of the 18th instant, "More about the old timers," written by one of "Em." I wish he had signed his name for I enjoyed it very much. I see too, he has mentioned, as well as Mr. Cotham, that unique character, Emanuel Sandusky, in that laconic dispatch sent by him to his partner, at the time of the tragic accident to the boat-load of cotton. The version as the writer remembers it, ran thusly, he states, "Come! And come quick, and bring all the hands with thee for she are slewed around and she are sunk." And in his New Orleans incident, at a hotel where he was stopping, there was prepared a special table for a delegation of preachers, and he took his seat at the head of the table, and he was asked by the master of ceremonies if he was a preacher, and he said, "well no" but I am a very prominent member of the church, and he was permitted to remain.

I have another incident to relate, where this prominent river man, Emanuel Sandusky, was employed by Major Bradley of this town, who owned a ferry here at Camden, three miles below this city, which still goes by the name of the Bradley Ferry, and he owned another on the Saline River, east of Warren, and he employed this man to run the one on the Saline River, and it came a big storm one night and sunk the ferry boat on the Saline, and in a few days he got a letter from his ferryman, reading this, "Major Bradley, E'core Fabre, Dear Sir: After my respects to you and your family, the wind slewed her around and she are sunk, come and bring all your hands," E. Sandusky. The Major knew that his ferry boat was sunk and took his Negro men and went over and raised it.

While writing about this old ferry, I will tell you a good joke on Henry Turner of Warren, and as a boy, he was the soul of honor, and is so yet. His father, Sam Turner, ran a flouring and grist mill there on the river, and he had a big warehouse there too, which was filled with New Orleans molasses, that Capt. Bob Withers ran the Nelson Morgan during the civil war, before the evacuation of the city, which he store there, and the hogs slept under this warehouse and a good deal of the molasses leaked out and filled these old hogsheads with molasses, and the flies and bugs swarmed in it.

My father, who lived twenty-five miles down the river, used to send me with a Negro driver with wagon loads of wheat to be ground at his mill, and there was a company of soldiers camped there to guard the mill and Henry and I would frequently eat dinner with them and help them eat their frugal meal with a menu of wheat hocake, butter and molasses, and one day one of the men at the table said, "Bud, tell that Negro of yours to bring us some more molasses, the last he brought us is just about out." When I went to our camp I told my old Negro what the soldier said, he said, "If I would go with him he would show me where he got the molasses." He took me to the old warehouse and we went under it and he filled his oat straw hat with the molasses in the hogsheads and drained them through his hat into his jug and then threw out the bus (sic) and flies and filled it again until he filled his jug and went down to the river and washed his hat and jug, and carried it back to the wagon and wrapped it in his best clothes with a clean corn cob stopper, and that night he carried it to the soldiers camp and next day Henry and I ate dinner with the soldiers again and he said please pass him some more of the molasses, they were mighty good. The Negro told me if I told it, the soldiers would kill me and him both, and of course I kept it a secret. A few years ago I was in Warren and went into the bank where Henry Turner is president, we soon got to talking of old times and soon a good crowd gathered around and I could not keep my secret any longer and told the molasses story on him, and that is the reason he is so fat, just like a rail.

I have another old time true story to tell. In 1869 I went to school to Colonel John W. Colquitt at Lacey, in Drew County, and during the while, and before, there was a man by the name of Whitlow taught a dancing school, which was enjoyed by old as well as the young, and old man Perry Lambert, who had a house full of girls and boys seemed to enjoy them most, there was a dancing party most every Friday night somewhere in the town or county.

On the 16th of July the school at Fountain Hill in Ashley County had the closing exercises and had asked the Lacey school to come down as they were going to have a big dinner and wanting our dancing party to compete with theirs, so all our school went and all the dancers and Mr. Perry Lambert leading our party. It was not long after we got there, we were all on the floor in two rooms of a closeby neighbors house with John Lambert and Frank Foster calling off sets with Whitlow, Dan Easley, and old Alex Daniel, furnishing the violin music, and we, all the light tiptoe and old man Perry Lambert, with a sweet and pretty girl keeping her cool with his palmetto fan, in the long drawn out sets and in the promenades he would fan his girl and sing, "Shoe fly don't you bother me, for I am just as happy as I well can be."

The most graceful dancer was a little girl about fourteen, with whom George Spencer and I wanted to see whom she would dance with and both go to her at the same time and ask her, which we did, and she looked at us both, and smiled and took my arm, and George hit me in the back as I passed him by and said, "Confound you, you beat my time," and old man Lambert saw the play we were making and fanned my girl's face and said, "shew fly you can't light on them." Mr. Perry Lambert was the young folks friend and loved to see them have a good time and we all loved him, and I love his memory yet. A few more jokes to laugh at and then I am through for I feel I am crossing the bridge of sighs into the pathetic and must hurry on before I get too sad to dwell long in the olden days.

Dr. J.K. McClain of Star City went to school at Lacey the same time I did and went through the dancing episodes as I did. He and I went to old Branchville, before it was named Star City to see some of our fathers old friends who lived there, and too, to have a good time with the young folks, we soon got acquainted with the young people and soon they gave us a big dancing party, and I heard one of the girls say, "Mr. McClain, can you dance, and he said, "I don't know Miss Addie, I don't know, but I am as willing a soul as ever tried. They had a fine supper and cakes of all kinds, fruit cakes and pound cakes and plenty of good things to eat and I heard one of the girls ask him if he wanted anything more to eat, and he said, "bring me some more of that Pumpkin bread with cracklins....

(too bad it ended here)

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