Sunday, February 16, 2014

Granny's Pantry # 13--More about Granny Cole

Freda Mae Morgan Cole
Freda Mae Morgan (my Granny) was born on September 30, 1898 in Rowan County, North Carolina, across the river from the farm where she would later live with Granddaddy for over fifty years. She was the granddaughter of Rachel E. and John Calvin Morgan, but she never knew her Morgan Granddaddy because he died at Spotsylvania Court House on May 12, 1864.    
John Calvin Morgan, CSA

His son, John Noah Calvin Morgan, and wife Eugenia A. Culp, were the parents of a comfortable farm family of 3 girls (Roxanna, Dovey & Freda) and 4 boys (Elmer, Roscoe, Rether & Walter). Their house still stands on the Richfield Road. We use it for family gatherings and call it The Cow Palace.

Cow Palace House

Freda was educated in the country schools and finished her training at the Farm Life School in the town of Faith, about 20 miles from home.  The Farm Life School was a boarding and finishing school, of sorts, for rural women of her day. Granny liked it there. I believe she met her husband, Albert Milton Cole from Davidson County, at a church social where he was a visitor. She was about eighteen when they married.

Granny and Granddaddy Cole lived in a lovely and isolated spot in the woods down the road near High Rock while he cut timber on the land.  They had no running water except a stream and probably no electricity either, but she told her daughter it was the happiest time of her life. Later, they moved to a farm in Bladen County, but returned to the Cole family home at High Rock when they were needed to take care of Granddaddy’s parents.
High Rock House

In addition to helping out with Grandsir Jim and his wife, Martha Jane, Granny Cole bore her own children (Ruth Elizabeth, Albert Brooks and Martha Virginia) and helped rear them while, keeping up the household and helping with the farm labor. In addition, over the years, she took in boarders who helped build the High Rock Dam, sold eggs and milk to her neighbors, bought and ran a small restaurant in Denton called the Park-In Grill.   
Park-In Grill
This lady was an ambitious farm woman who could do anything---grow vegetable and flower gardens, can, pickle, freeze, jam, jelly or preserve those vegetables, keep fresh flowers in the house all the time, kill and clean chickens to eat, process pork and fix sausage and liver pudding from freshly killed hogs raised on the farm, milk cows and make butter, cook delicious meals from scratch on a wood stove, use feed sacks to make dresses, curtains and pillow cases, sew designer grade clothing for her daughters, decorate Sunday hats with owl and peacock feathers, iron on a mangle, wash Granddaddy’s overalls in a wash pot in the yard, make soap and cracklings, raise chickens, guineas, and peacocks, cook for wheat threshings and homecomings, find money to educate her children, make quilts, read historical novels, invest in stocks, go to auction sales, collect antiques, make handmade Christmas stockings for her grandchildren, teach Sunday School on Sundays, and visit with friends and relatives on Sunday afternoons. Granny Cole was a member of the local Home Demonstration Club, was active in the Democratic Party as a voter registration agent and listed taxes. She and Granddaddy didn’t do a lot of travelling together, but she did go to California once to visit her brother and to Florida to see Disney World with my family.    

Granny and a Great-grandchild

Granny Cole was ninety-six when she died on the same day of the month in which her husband had died twenty-five years earlier. I heard that she was always a little upset at him for leaving her before they had time to do all of the things they wanted to do in their lives together. She let me know she felt forever young when, in her seventies, she told me, “I’m seventeen inside.” When this changed and she could not, to her own satisfaction, contribute any further, she left us. Granny is buried with Granddaddy at the Lick Creek Baptist Church where she and Granddaddy attended.

Granny Cole set a high standard for family traditions and “doing things right.” The Cole Women have been trying to live up to her example ever since. She was a hard act to follow.  It is from her influence and home that the Granny’s Pantry Stories have come. with eager hands. (Proverbs 31:13)