CEMETERY, BEAR CREEK, MAURY COUNTY TENNESSEE
Cherished Memories of the Sowell-Jones-Huckaby House
By Faye Huckaby Bradford, 6 Sep 2009
Oh the memories this old house held. Little
did I know that the home that I visited from the early 1940's to the early
1960's held so much history. It stood on the hill behind the Jones Cemetery on
Bear Creek Pike. The front yard was full of huge locust trees that held such
cool breezes as I lay on an old quilt usually with my aunt Juanita Huckaby Hie,
who was six months younger than I. Occasionally there were other cousins there
with us. We talked and laughed dreamed and watched the locust leaves shimmering
in the breeze. In the back yard there were always chickens running around every
where amid fenced borders of hollyhocks and peonies. There was a storm/root
cellar, a chicken house, an outhouse, and a smokehouse also in the back yard.
Beyond that was an orchard with pear trees and I am not sure if there were other
kinds of fruit trees. I just remember the wonderful candied pear preserves that
my grandmother made from these trees. The chickens were almost as valued as
children for they provided money from the eggs and food for the table. With nine
children and quite often one or more grandchildren around it took a lot to feed
all of them. I have seen my grandmother seat two and three long tables at a
single meal, back when the men and women ate before the children. Oh how hard it
was to wait when you were wondering if there would even be a chicken leg left,
but I never remember anyone leaving her table not being stuffed.
My grandfather smoked such wonderful hams in the old smokehouse and we all knew that you never ever opened the door to the smokehouse.
The house did not face the road or the cemetery, but rather had it's side and back toward them. It had a long driveway up to the house making a circle at the front edge of the front yard. The barn was way on out in front of the house. I never understood why the barn was there, but just assumed it was because of the lay of the land with the cows and the crops in mind. My grandfather raised corn, tobacco, and watermelons. There may have been other crops, but those are the ones I remember. He made a living with his tobacco crops and working as a grader at the tobacco warehouse in town. He also tended to the Jones Cemetery for many years, seeing that gravesites were located and graves dug, selling lots and generally
maintaining the cemetery. My father installed many of the markers and monuments in the Jones Cemetery as well as many of the other cemeteries around the area.
As to the history of the house, as far as we know it was built by David Rainey Sowell. His son, James M. Sowell died in 1876 and his stone is the earliest dated marker in this cemetery. When the house was torn down for the interstate to be built, they discovered that the structure beneath the siding was twelve inch square logs held together with wooden pegs. It originally was only four rooms, two on the main floor and two upstairs. It later had a dining room, a kitchen and three porches added. There was a huge cistern that held rain water for washing, bathing, etc next to the back porch. During the demolition of the house, they discovered a journal from a store that Robert McLemore Nicholson, who was a great uncle to my grandfather, had from about 1838 to 1844. He not only ran the store, but ran a blacksmith shop, a gin and a grist mill. The journal was found on one of the rafters where it stayed for more than half a century. It was probably placed there by Nancy Nicholson Jones, daughter of Robert M. Nicholson, who was a resident of the house for a period of time. I don't know when the Jones purchased the house. Along with the journal they found a U. S. flag featuring 36 stars. My grandfather said there was also the top half of a confederate uniform, a high button shoe, the tool to button it with, and a vanilla flavoring bottle. He sold all of the items including the twelve inch logs to someone who was going to build an antique store in Henderson, Tennessee. I have copies of some of the pages from the journal passed down from my grandfather to my father then to me. I know that between the first to owners of the property that my grandparents lived in it for about a year during which time my father was born. I don't know if there were any other owners, but my grandparents purchased it from June and Bertha Lunn. Bertha was a sister to Frank Derryberry. They purchased it and the surrounding acreage for $5000.00, and went on to raise nine children there.
There are so many memories from this house, both good and bad. I remember my grandmother making communion bread for church services at New Lasea Church of Christ and Juanita (Nita) and I worrying her to death hoping that she would get it the least bit too brown and have to start all over making it. We would take the "burned" bread out on the front steps of the house and play church with it. There was always something baking, most often old fashioned tea cakes or sugar cookies. In the summer time after all the work was done the family would sit on the front porch and talk until bedtime. There were many different topics discussed, such as politics, family life, crop, and jobs. There was also a lot of stories told on family members and friends. I went to sleep many nights playing with one of the many cats and kittens that were always around , finally curling up with my head in either my mother or my grandmother's lap. Many evenings in the winter we would pop popcorn in a basket in the fireplace in the living room. Before I was born, my sister fell into the fireplace in that house and caught her long natural curly hair on fire. My grandmother with a quick movement and clear thinking mind grabbed her and pulled her out. It could have been so tragic. I barely remember being taken to this home when my sister later contracted polio when I was about five years old. She only lived for about two weeks. It was in the winter with snow on the ground and the roads were steep and curving and we got stuck getting there. I hardly knew what was going on, but I do remember everyone being upset. I remember getting cold biscuits and little green onions from the kitchen table and taking them out on the porch to eat. Many hours were spent filling a big old wash tub with water from the cistern and playing in the water in our swim suits. I also remember keeping cross vine on the mantle. Someone, I assume my grandfather would split it into four sections length wise, and each piece was about four inches long. The younger children and the grandchildren would smoke it. To this
day, I do not understand why the adults allowed it, but no one thought anything about it. How we kept from setting ourselves or the house on fire, I do not know, but evidently we knew enough not to lay it down while it was still burning. Oh how these memories waft across my mind as I look at pictures of the old house.
How many lives were touched in one way or another by coming into contact with that one old home place. I for one, am grateful for my memories there and want to preserve them for others to enjoy. These people are gone and will eventually be forgotten, but the ways we were touched by our contact with them and passing it on down by how we handle our lives and those we touch, will be preserved. I wish for everyone an old home place to remember.
By: Faye Huckaby Bradford
Transcribed into Text from an image of the original news clipping dated 3 May 1962 by Wayne Austin 14 Sep 2009 for Faye Bradford & to be used here. Information compiled by Faye Bradford 10 Sep 2009