Sunday, July 20, 2014

Granny's Pantry # 21--Granddaddy Cole

Albert Milton Cole  (Apr. 20, 1895-- Aug. 7, 1967)       

Granny Cole’s husband—Albert Milton Cole--was a farmer.           

He wore Red Camel bib overalls and a straw hat to work in his fields at High Rock.
Granny would boil the red dirt out of his overalls in a wash pot over a fire to get them clean.
He plowed with a pair of horses named Dan and Ada. (It wasn’t as easy as he made it look.)
He raised corn and wheat and milo and lespedeza and pumpkins and peanuts and cows and chickens and pigs and turkeys.
He hosted wheat threshings and corn shuckings.
I loved going with him to the mill to get the corn and wheat ground.
You didn’t want to tag along when Granddaddy went out to kill hogs or chickens or turkeys. (I found that out the hard way.)         
When I went with him to the store, he would buy me little packets of Kool Aid.       
He caught fish in traps in the creek and Granny would serve them with homemade french fries. (The best!)
He dipped Old Navy Snuff. (It tasted awful.)
He took a short nap after lunch every day before going back to the field.
He went to bed about 8:00 every night.
He snored.
He always carried a big pocket knife for cutting up apples, cutting off snakes’ heads and whittling.
He listened to Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons, on the radio.  
He watched wrestling on TV (Johnny Weaver and the Great Bolo). 

He told the best true stories ever…now lost in history.

He dressed up for church on Sunday, and sat on the front porch
Sunday afternoons with visitors.
When called upon to pray at Lick Creek Baptist Church, he would respond, “Beg to be excused.”
I never saw him get upset. The only time I saw him move fast was when he raced me to the mail box down the cedar lane…he won.          

He held me on his lap and read to me from the chick calendar from the feed store or the Sunday funnies.
His hands were large and hard from years of working outside, and I loved to hold them.     

He left us at seventy two…I played ”Be Still My Soul” on the organ at his funeral and made it all the way outside of the church door before I cried.
Granny Cole lived for the next twenty seven years without him…and died on the same day as he did, August 7.
Morning glories growing wild on the borders of fields will always remind me of Granddaddy Cole.
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.
James 5:7      

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Granny's Pantry # 20-- Uncle Brooks and Aunt Lorene

Albert Brooks Cole was Granny Cole’s only son. He was born on the 4th of July one night when the mountain was on fire.   

 He served as a T Sgt in the US Army during World War II. Brooks and Granny always had a special bond.       

Brooks married Lorene McCord from Greenwood, SC. He often called her “honey.”  

Lorene and Brooks could have been a movie star couple. She looked a lot like actress Ava Gardner.   
Ava Gardner--NC born actress

 He was dark and handsome in a boyish way with a ready mischievous smile. 

 I heard someone say that Brooks could smoke a cigarette better than any man he knew…technique.                         
Aunt Lorene was one of “The Aunts” (along with Aunt Ruthie) who helped make High Rock so much fun. She knew how to make children feel special.     

Taking a walk with the Aunts in the woods on Sunday’s or holidays—we called it a safari— or riding the fields in Uncle Brooks’ old Jeep (it might have been a Willys) was always high adventure.

He liked to “tinker”—was a smart jack-of-all trades who could do almost anything—survey, build, help run and auction, whatever. She was a queen of retail –a manager of ladies clothing stores, including her own. Together, they appreciated old things and collected antiques and property.

 They had two babies. A little daughter died at birth.
A son and his wife gave them a beautiful granddaughter.     


Uncle Brooks left us too soon. 

Aunt Lorene was beautiful even to her final breath.      

For we are sojourners before You, and tenants, as all our fathers were; our days on the earth are like a shadow…    1 Chronicles 29:15

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Granny's Pantry # 19--The Peacocks of High Rock

Spectacular is a word I would use to describe the peacocks of High Rock. I’m not sure when the ancestors of today’s breathtaking birds first came to the farm…perhaps in the 1950s... but they have been long term residents of a place that has seen the other domestic fowls—chickens, turkeys, guineas—come and now go. I Kings 10:22 tells us that King Solomon had peacocks brought to his kingdom every three years on ships from his own navy. I’m fairly certain the peacocks of High Rock didn’t arrive in such a dramatic fashion, and that they were the doing of Granny Cole, herself.             

While I never asked her, I think Granny had a vision of how the iridescent greens and blues of the magnificent necks and tails of the male birds would dress up the landscape of her home. And she was right.   

Granny was also a bit of an entrepreneur, so she might also have had the notion of raising the birds to sell. (There is a story…true, I think.. of selling High Rock peacocks to the Biltmore Estate.) 

But I do know that for a long, long time…peacocks have called High Rock home.

When visitors drive up the cedar lane to the High Rock house, they are often greeted with a raucous cacophony of calls that make the weak of heart want to turn around and flee. A group of adult peacocks make better watch dogs than watch dogs themselves. I’ve seen more than one grandchild go into a frenzy of fear until he got used to the strange noise. But while their calls may be bloodcurdling, I’ve never known them to be aggressive unless defending themselves, in which case, the offender may forever bear the resulting scars.

As is often the case in the fowl family, lady peacocks are less flashily dressed than their male counterparts. 

While their necks are a lovely green and their top notches are intact, they lack the stunning  yellow, brown, green and blue sweeping tails with the eerie eye patterns of their menfolks. It is the males that strut, rattle and fan their magnificent  tails, it is the ladies that go modestly about the business of sitting on the eggs and caring for the young—often facing life threatening dangers to themselves and their babies from predators of both the day and night (foxes, owls, hawks, possums, and snakes).

Even though High Rock has gone through many changes over the years, it will be a sad day, indeed, when the screeching “Hee—Yah” of its peacocks is heard no more. I’m happy to say, that time has not yet come.   

                             Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
                     Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks?
                          or wings and feathers unto the ostrich?

                                         Job 38:1; 39:13

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Granny's Pantry # 18--A Bitter-Sweet Memorial Day Tribute

While Memorial Day at present honors active military personnel who died serving their country, the origin of the holiday was rooted in an effort to commemorate soldiers from both the North and the South who lost their lives in the War Between the States.

There is a strong Granny’s Pantry connection with this original Decoration Day tribute, as the holiday was once called.

John Calvin Morgan was born in 1935 in Rowan County, NC.    
He married Rachel E. Wyatt, also born in 1835, and they lived not far from the Yadkin River. John and Rachel had two children, Mary Jane (b. 1856) and John Noah Calvin (b. 1862). Unfortunately, due to the War Between the States, they were not destined to live happily ever after together.      

According to family records, John enlisted in the 5th Regiment, Co. H, NC Troops, where he served with his cousin, James Nathan Morgan. In sworn testimony in 1885, Nathan Morgan reported that, “on or about the 12th day of May 1864 at the Battle of Spottsylvania [sic] Court House in the State of Virginia [John Morgan] was shot and instantly killed.”  We don’t know where John was buried. 

Rachel was 28 when he died. She lived the remainder of her life (50 + more years) as a widow and died at 79.  

John and Rachel’s son, Calvin, and his wife, Eugenia A. Culp, lived on the farm that we now call the Cow Palace and they became the parents of Granny Cole (of High Rock).
The Granny’s Pantry connection with service in the Civil War continued when Granny Cole’s granddaughter, Jenny,
married Donald Dickens of Wake County, NC.

This grandson-in-law, has long been interested in Civil War history, partly due to his own great-grandfather’s service. This story had a happier ending, but still leaves some unanswered questions.There were 3 brothers with the last name of Partin from Wake Co., NC (Willow Spring area).  Two of the brothers enlisted in 1862 in Co. H, 40th Regiment, which became the 3rd Regiment, NC Light Artillery, which finally became the 13th battalion, NC Light Artillery (Co. F). The third brother joined them in 1864. One of the brothers, Mark Allison Partin, was Donald’s mother’s grandfather. 
The Partin brothers served throughout the War. According to family history, the 3 Partin brothers were present at Appomattox, and we know that they all survived. Family history and a letter from a seminary president who knew Mark in 1915 said that Mark A. Partin surrendered at Appomattox with Co. E of the 26th NC Troops. There is no record in the Appomattox rosters that M.A. Partin actually surrendered. We believe that he and his brothers simply faded away from the formalities and headed for home. 
The mysterious star
Also according to family history and artifacts, when Mark returned home, he brought with him pieces from the famous apple orchard at Appomattox, uprooted, according to Mark, in 30 minutes or less. He also brought a white linen star on a blue field cut from a battle flag.

What was the flag from which Mark received the star remnant? Could it have been the flag of the 13th Light Artillery, a group with which Mark served? There were 71 flags surrendered at Appomattox---was the 13th flag among them? Could it have been the last battle flag of the 26th NC Troops? The battle flag of the 26 NC Regiment was captured in the Battle of Hatcher’s Run. Was there a new flag issued to the 26th following that event? 
[A conservationist from the NC MOH has stated that the star remnant is in keeping with the time period and the materials are consistent with those of a Confederate battle flag. She also stated that the flag remnant had obviously been subjected to a great deal of hardship as it looked as if it had been in mud or blood.] 
There is no record that the 26th Troops battle flag was one that was surrendered at Appomattox.  And if the flag remnant should be from the 26th, why did it come home in Mark Partin’s possession?  We have a possible theory, also rooted in romance:
Mark’s future wife, who was also his cousin, was the sister of J. Q. Adams who served with the 26th, died in New Bern after the capture and is buried in the mound there. We have family letters from J. Q. Adams to his sister while stationed at New Bern. Since the flag remnant was kept by the family with those letters, did Mark take a piece of the 26th battle flag home to Adams’ sister (whom he later married) as a memorial to her brother from the 26th that died during the War?  At this point---these questions remain unanswered.
Mark Partin’s possible connection with the 26th NC Troops becomes important because his great grandson (and Granny Cole’s grandson-in-law) is a member of the 26th NC Troops Reactivated—a Civil War Reenactment group. He does this to honor the memory of his ancestors and others who served in this conflict that had such a devastating impact on families in both the North and the South.A number of Donald’s family members have reenacted with him in the 26th, including his daughters and sons-in-law. 

And so...on this Memorial Day, we honor and remember those who have served in America’s wars and those who have died doing so.
 “… choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”                                                                            Joshua 24:15