Sunday, October 31, 2010

Barnett Chapel General Baptist Church

One of our rural churches located in the scenic countryside is the Barnett Chapel Church.  It is located about 14 miles from Marion off of S.R. 297.  It's location is marked by it's own road sign.  

The church was organized in August 1911 by elders A. S. Johnson and J. W. Ellingtron with 25 charger members.

The first church was built in 1913 and stood until 1950, when the present church was built.  Services were held the first Saturday night and Sunday of each month until 1947 when the church began having services twice a month.  In 1963 it began having full time services.  As you can see on the sign that has been placed on the front of the church, the wooden structure was bricked and remodeled in 1974.

This is the way the church looks on a pretty fall morning of October 10, 2010.

Services are still being conducted at the church with Tolu native, Steve Tinsley, being the present pastor.

Many years ago the land in this area was owned by P. C. Barnett.  There is a family cemetery known as the Barnett-Miles Cemetery that is located not too far from the church location.  This old cemetery is in shambles with not one of the family stones left standing.  Cows over the years have taken their toll on the cemetery and using the stones as a back scratcher have over turned and broken the historic old stones.

Mr. Phineas C. Barnett obituary reads as follows:  July 30, 1896 - P. C. Barnett died Friday, July 24, 1896, surrounded by relatives and friends at his home near Tolu.  For several weeks he had been gradually giving away to the demands of nature.  Though 87 years old, Mr. Barnett's mind was clear up to the last.  His remains were placed in the family burial ground on his farm.  Mr. Barnett was born in Warren Co. Kentucky, February 16, 1809.  His grandfather was a soldier in the Revolution and did valiant service in a North Carolina Company.  P. C. Barnett moved with the family from Kentucky to Missouri, where he remained until he was 17 years old, when he returned to his native state.  A little later he entered Cumberland College.  In 1865 he came to what is now Crittenden County and settled on the farm where he spent his last year.  He united in marriage to Miss Jenette Threlkeld, with whom he lived happily until her death.  Surviving children are James C. Barnett of Texas, Col. T. T. Barnett and Wm. Barnett of this county and Mrs Sallie Miles, who has resided with her father since the death of her husband several years ago.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mattoon School Building

The Mattoon School building, located about 6 miles north of Marion on Hwy. 60, has set mostly empty since 1981, when it was closed permanently and the students were bused to the new Crittenden County Elementary School at Marion.  Since the building was only 29 years old when the school was closed, it was hoped that the building would be used for something beneficial and useful to the community.  For a short time it was used as an entertainment center and after that a horse sales business, neither lasted very long, so the building just deteriorated by setting empty.

In 1953, the old frame building that was there, and  the block building that housed the cafeteria burned.  A new brick building was completed by the fall.  The picture at the right was the new brick building.  Everyone was so proud of it when it was built.  This new building had a large cafeteria, kitchen, six classrooms, an office, storage room, large restrooms, furnace room and later a multi-purpose room.  In 1953-54 enrollment was approximately 200, with 54 students in the seventh and eighth grades.  The school was thriving and the future looked promising for the school and community.

Things change and the student enrollment by 1981 had fallen so low that it was decided by the Board of Education that the school needed to be closed and the students that was there would attend the new Elementary School that had just been built at Marion.  It was hard on the community, parents and students to lose their home-based school.  It's always devastating to a community when it loses it's school.
A Mattoon based family that owned the school building and property had part of the school torn down on Sept. 13, 2010.   By now windows were broken, the roof was in a state of disrepair and it was beyond repair.  Another chapter of the old school  building was closed as it was torn down.

Picture made Sept 13, 2010.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cider Making

If there are any followers of my Blog out there, I appreciate you and apologize for no new entries this past week.  I have had computer problems and am just now up and running.  If this wasn't bad enough I'm now in the process of having to learn new ways of doing things.  We'll see how this goes.

One pretty afternoon last week, some of the members of our Historical Society had a fun afternoon of making cider, preserving an old heritage craft we called it.  Days before apples had been gathered and stored for the day.

The cider mill belonged to Jim Carter and he let us borrow it for the afternoon.   In the picture at the right is Sarah Ford, Pat Carter, on the left, and Brennan Cruce at the mill.  Brennan is turning the crank to squeeze the juice from the apples.  All are members of the board.

The apples are first put through a grinder at the opposite end of the mill, they get ground up and fall into the bucket you see in the picture.  The crank is then turned to mash down a round board on top of the apples and the pure apple juice flows into the container under the mill.  
Here Barry Gilbert gets ready to turn the crank as Brennan Cruce waits his turn.  The fresh apple juice was delicious, the first I had ever tasted. 
It was a fun afternoon for us, and lasted only a couple of hours.  I am sure for the pioneer's of yesteryear it was a hard day's work for them, gathering the apples, getting them ready for the mill, and then turning and cranking it for hours to get several gallons of juice. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Another Historic Marion Home

Although Marion has lost some of our old historic homes and some now are in a state of disrepair, we are fortunate to still have several of these older homes still being care for.  

One of these well-maintained homes is located at 203 East Depot Street on the corner of Depot and College Streets.  

This home was built in 1893 by Perry S. Maxwell, a well-known, well-off, businessman of Marion.  The home, when first built, was a one-story home.  

Mr. Maxwell first sold the house to Dr. Robert L. Wheeler and his wife, Onie Wheeler.  They lived there until 1902.  

In 1902 Mr. Lemah H. and Elizabeth James became the owners of the house.  By this time in our history two story homes were the most fashionable to own, so Mr. James had another story added to the home. 

The next occupants of the house was Mr. and Mrs. James son, Ollie M. James.  This was their home during Ollie's rapid climb up the political ladder.  Ollie M. James was our State Senator from 1913 until 1918, when his tragic death of a kidney disease. 

Today this home is owned and well kept by Robert Jenkins, and it is known by the Ollie M. James  home.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bygone Roadways

As we zip along our modern highways and travel along our chip-and-sealed rural country roads today it's hard to image that a mere 60-70 years ago these roads were dirt and the main fairways were only gravel.

The picture at the right was taken during the winter of 1926.  A team hauling fluorspar to Marion pulls a car out of the mud on U.S. 60 west of town near the Crittenden Springs Road.

Winter travel is still not without its hazards, but even in the worst of weather conditions on today's most rural roads, they are better than in those days.  Road surfaces were dirt, which turned to mud during wet, winter weather, and travel virtually ceased.

The Crittenden Press in the late 1920's recorded incidents such as these:  a farmer from the Shady Grove area was able to arrive in Marion after an eight-hour trip in an empty wagon pulled by four mules.  A county farmer was reported seen on a road, only a few miles from town, with three of the four horses hitched to his wagon down in the road mire.

The road (Hwy. 60 West) wasn't graveled until the mid-1927 when a contract was awarded to Ben E. Clement and the Holly Fluorspar Co.  Clement and his crew were to prepare the roadbed and gravel it from Marion to Salem.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Peter Shewmaker Home

One of Crittenden County old rural historic homes that is left standing today is the Peter Ewing Shewmaker home located on the old Fords Ferry Road.  The house was built about 1880.-81  (the concrete floor, porch and stairways were added in 1980)

Peter Ewing Shewmaker was by trade a carpenter and also a farmer.  Peter was born in 1831 and died in 1917. He traveled a lot of years in his youth but returned to Crittenden County in 1871.  Soon after returning he purchased, what is still known today, as the Shewmaker Farm, located five miles from Marion.  Along with farming, he ran a successful general store which was located on the farm near the site of the home place today.  

At the time of Peter's death, the Shewmaker farm was passed down to his son William Duvall "Billie" Shewmaker.  At Billie's death, his eldest son, William Arzie took over ownership and active operation of the Shewmaker farm.

Today William Arzie's son, William "Bill" Shewmaker and his family  live in the family home, which has been there for approximately 130 years, and Bill operates the family farm and carries on the family tradition.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Revolutionary Soilders Remembered

I was fortunate to attend an exciting service this past Saturday at the Old Fredonia Cemetery and the Centerville-Livingston Presbyterian Church Cemetery just across the Crittenden County line on Hwy. 641 S.
It was the Patriot Grave Marking and Dedication Service of Robert Leeper, Jr., James Hawthorn and John Elder.  John Elder has many descendants living in Crittenden County today. 

The ceremony was held in the peaceful setting of the Kentucky country side.  Over 225 people were in attendance to see the Grave Marking Service.  Several organizations were there to participate in the event.  Scott G. Giltner, member of the Gov. Isaac Shelby Chapter, KYSSAR gave the tribute to Robert Leeper, since he is the direct descendant of the family. Scott is pictured as he is telling his history.

Several hundred yards from the Old Fredonia Cemetery lies the Centerville-Livingston Presbyterian Church Cemetery.  Here stands the oldest recorded tombstone in Caldwell and Crittenden County, that of John Elder.  Local resident, Gerald Elder, descendant of John Elder, gave his history and also shared with the audience the Elder spinning wheel that had came with the family to America.

The picture to the right is the Elder family descendants that were in attendance for the dedication.  They are standing in front of John Elder's stone.
Front row are Pearl Bearden and Wanda Elder Eli.
Back row are: J. T. Travis, Edward Bearden, son of Pearl, Ricky and Gerald Elder, and Nathan Eli, son of Wanda.
Gerald is holding the flag presented to their family for John Elder.

It was a day I won't ever forget, as long as my memory holds on.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Visit To Amish Country

A visit to our Amish county side reveals lots of colorful sights and interesting things to see.  As you drive through the Mt. Zion Church Road area, there are rows of corn fodder gracing the hill side.  They are wonderful to see all standing in such straight rows and large bundles.  The sight will take you back to another time in our history.  This sight is worth the drive.

Our friends the Amish grow and provide us and the surrounding counties and even states with fall decorators that we aren't able to grow ourselves.  On Cotton Patch Road one will see piles of pumpkins and gourds, Indian Corn, corn stalks, whatever one would need for decorations.  Also available are beautiful fall mums. They sell very fast during September. All reasonable priced I might add.