Ina Ramsey, Mae Blankenship, and Minnie Williams are sisters. Their maiden name is Wright. Dewey is Ina's son in law and Minnie's nephew.This interview was conducted by Travis Keene, rghs 1995, November 13, 1993.
In the Beginning
QUESTION: Who were some of the original inhabitants of Pinch Creek?
ANSWER: The first family to live in the Pinch Creek Hollow is that of a Neal, the first name could not be remembered. The Neal family was a large family of eight to nine children. They were farmers owning a large portion of Pinch Creek extending into Kimberlin Valley and joining the Hollybrook section to the east. They lived in a log home located where Philip Ramsey's house stands today. This was in the late 1800's and it was mentioned that there was a story about the Civil War soldiers (north or south, it was not known) searching the Neal home trying to find food. The Neals reportedly hid their meat in the well and, thereby, saved their food supply. Jack Finley married one of the Neal daughters inheriting the Neal farm. This farm consisted of what is now the Vance Ramsey farm and the T.P. Helvey farm. Jack Finley had a larger family also. The children were Esther, Dolly, Caroline (mother of Vance Ramsey), Vicky, John Fox, and Mozelle. Jack Finley used the slaves to work his farm. The slave quarters were located in the yard of Philip Ramsey's home close to the present road. Later the slave quarters were converted into a grainery. Dewey remembered hearing his father talk of the large chains hanging from the walls of the rooms where the slaves would be kept for the night.
QUESTION: And Neal was the first one you all remember?
ANSWER:Yes, the first one I remember old man Jack Finley's wife, she was a Neal, Nanny Neal.
QUESTION:What were you saying, Aunt Minnie, about maybe Jack Neal owned the whole valley at one time.
ANSWER: Meek Miller came about his land through his wife --wasn't she one of Jack Finley's daughters so his land come just like this here did. That was her part up there.
QUESTION: So Jack Finley owned all of it up this hollow?
ANSWER: That's right. Up this hollow and up that way, when you run it way back, Meek Miller's wife was a Finley. 0 That's her part just like her part here --
I think you're a little wrong there, Dewey. Aunt Becky married Meek Miller. That's where she came in. Becky Miller was ---
Well, who was Becky?
She was a Finley.
So it was her part up there on that part -- that's how it all come about. That's how Meek got what he got. That was her part like this up here was -
No, you're wrong there. Mary Miller -- that come through her side, didn't it? I don't know just how used to know them. Mary Miller was the daughter of --
Al right, go ahead then. Do you want to know anything more about Jack Finley?
I don't know. Aunt Minnie just read all of this children there. So we're down to -- what date do you think that is?
He had the slaves, so it would be
When his farm was split, which was about what time --19 what?
Twenty-three, wasn't it when and myself moved in here?
Don't ask me. About 1923, I think.
Okay, we will put 1923 there.
I guess. It was way back in the past before me. Twenty-three, I wasn't born until thirty-three.
Okay, you got there that Mozelle received the lower part.
They lived down there from the very first time I ever remember any of them.
When did he die?
June 3, 1960 something when he died.
So that's the Neal that owned it first.
I remember her -- Mrs. Finley. Al right, now you got things straight. Did you get that? The farm was split. Mozelle received the lower part. Now, how many acres, I don't know, do you all? Caroline obtained this part up this way and it goes on across the hill to the other girl's, don't it?
So, all the kids got a portion, right?
Uh-huh. Right. Split among the kids.
So, that's why they had to have slaves 'cause it was such a big farm.
It was a huge, huge vast piece of land 'cause anybody that had slaves had a lot of land.
Could be a way to find out how many he owned, nobody knows or remembers?
Some of them are buried down there on the hill.
This farm had been divided.
Just had rocks for markers. There was slaves buried there.
Just put the farm was divided among his children. He had what? seven?
How many did Aunt Minnie read?
What about Tyler Finley's farm up through there? See how did the Finley's come to that. I thought that was part of the farm, wasn't it?
Uh-uh. Split in smaller farms by his seven children. You read the names of them, didn't you?
Okay, then going above here, that's when who got it?
You've got here Jack Finley the first one, but he wasn't the first one. I mean that's the first one we know, right? And Vance Ramsey's farm, J.D. Helvey farm which was later purchased by John B. Wright, J.B. Wright. Then it was purchased by B.M. Clark, right, Dewey?
They are all living, the biggest part of them. There was how many of them? Thirteen children?
Clark family consisted of thirteen children which most of them live on the place now, right? You all come on, I ain't going ________ (laughter)
Dewey Williams, its on here.
Yeah, let Aunt Minnie do that. She would probably remember more about... Daddy and Aunt Minnie know more about that. Aunt Mae, do you remember anything they are not telling.
Do you remember of this land one place?
Being, being just one big farm?
You mean clean up through here?
Yeah, it was always split.
Ramsey owned this and then --
(At this point several people began talking and it appeared they were sort of thinking aloud)
In 1903, Eugene P. Williams purchased 300 acres -- all wooded land. It is said that he cleared all this land himself which was remarkable considering the fact that he had only one arm. This land was owned by the Hoge family.
Is that right? Did I have that right?
The children of Eugene and Virginia Williams were Della, B. Clark's mother, James Harvey, Eugene Blake, Dewey Williams' mother, Pauline Virginia, Eddie Jordan, Randall, and John's family and Eva Belle. Then next days, were he come here in 1931.
He bought it from who?
In about 1931, John B. Wright bought the Jim D. Helvey place which extended to the top of Linkous Ridge. In 1948, B.M. Clark purchased the present Clark place from J.B. Wright. He raised thirteen children on this land.
That was Clarks.
Yeah. Thirteen. And that was all.
Could it have been part of the Finley, too?
You don't know.
Doc Nunn owned property or farm. And, how many children did he have?
Well, there was Roney, and Effie, and Nellie, and
Mildred, and Lucy. Five, and then he raised two
What about Henry they was step-children. Henry and Herb.
And raised two and they raised Henry and Herbert whose mother died at birth.
Another place was purchased by Rufus Havens, present owner.
That takes care of the first question, right?
Life on Pinch Creek
QUESTION:What was grown on the farms
ANSWER: Anything that was eatable! Gardens. Everybody raised their own meat and potatoes.
What was it that you said in the other interview, Aunt Minnie, that you all didn't can?
Most of the food back in the older generations, they did dry their food. In our generation, it was, we canned and hoed it out of the ground, like crazy. But the biggest industry or what ever you want to call it, I guess was trees, timber and how you going to put that in there about that sawmill.
Yeah, Daddy, you could tell them about that. You were talking about the trees a while ago. There was so many farms.
The land was all timber.
There used to be an big stave mill right, in the holler where Arnold Clark lives. I can remember seeing the foundation of the old stave mill- when it set right there in that old swamp.
QUESTION: And that's what happened to all the trees?
ANSWER- Yes, they cut them up in four lengths, then they were cut into staves and made into barrels. That's how they shipped the turkeys and all the stuff that was moved out -of this part of the country. They fixed-and packed them in these and them. They were shipped in these barrels up to Bastain . That's how come Blessing's to be in the Chicken business in Baa-Bastian
QUESTION! So it would be safe to say that farming and timber was the occupations right?
QUESTION: Was the food grown for family use or to be sold to other people in the community or city
ANSWER: Mostly for family use wasn't ? I said wasn't it? Yeah, for our own personal use.
QUESTION: What was some of the tools used for?
ANSWER: Oh, one horse plow, mules.
QUESTION:What did you kill for meat?
ANSWER: Mostly hogs. sheep, alot of people eat mutton. I didn't. Chickens.
QUESTION: As children growing up how did entertain yourself?
ANSWER: GOOD TIMES!!!!! (laughter) I told you, kick the can, over Annie, let's see what else. Gang up on Sunday and play tap hand.
QUESTION: What were some of the required chores?
ANSWER: Washing on board, keep the fires, milking, feeding the hogs, getting the wood, keeping kindling chopped, hoeing corn.
QUESTION: Where was the school located at, that you attended?
ANSWER: Hollybrook, and the Dehart School House.
QUESTION: Who were the teachers?
ANSWER: Marie Miller, Eugene Morehead, Jackson Taylor, we had another one, now who was it, that's all I can remember.
QUESTION: Were the classrooms?
ANSWER: No, One room schoolhouse. Kids used to kick the stove down. Marion Radsrod taught Hollybrook.
QUESTION: Did the teacher tell you stories as children?
ANSWER: Well yes, I guess they did to some extent didn't they. They mostly taught the Bible. School was always opened with prayer and a song.
QUESTION: How were your grades given to your parents?
ANSWER: My first recollection was report cards. About like you have today.
QUESTION: How were the houses constructed?
ANSWER: Mostly logs at first. Then later on when sawmills came in boards were used.
QUESTION: What were the means of heating and plumbing?
ANSWER: Pot bellied stoves. Fireplaces, and coal stoves.
QUESTION: What kind of foods were served, and how were they cooked?
ANSWER: Brown beans, fixed in a big ole iron pot. Fixed in fire place. Alot of the bread was baked in what they call a hearth oven. I mean you put the bread inside of a pot, heap coals on the top of the pot and bake it, hearth oven.
QUESTION: How many rooms were usually in a home?
ANSWER: Wasn't over two-three rooms. They was doing well if they had a kitchen and two bedrooms. A usual log house was built with four rooms and they had what they called a "lean to" built to it. That's they way they generally did it. Grand daddy Wright's home was made out of logs in a two story, but they was only one big room downstairs, and one big room upstairs.
QUESTION: How was the houses decorated?
ANSWER: What did They hang at the windows. I don't know. They may not have had nothing. Ever since I can remember we was able to have a curtain of some kind.
QUESTION: Did any of the family members come in on holidays? If so, what were the holidays they attended?
ANSWER: YES, We had loads, didn't we. Aunts, uncles, and cousins. I guess Christmas. Thanksgiving. And back then it wasn't only on a holiday. It was every day people visited more. They'd come around at night. People visited every Sunday. That was the good old days. That's right. People don't visit or associate nothing today like they did back then.
QUESTION: Where did you get the Christmas trees and how were they decorated?
ANSWER: We went to the mountains end cut most of the time cedars.
Like you said the other night you had a chair that you put the gifts on and there wasn't a tree mentioned at that time.
Yeah, that's the truth.
From my time on we always had a tree.
White pines, cedars.
My first recollection of Christmas was that you put your name on a chair, get up the next morning and your nuts, oranges, and whatever little toy you got would be setting in the chair.
Do you remember that? You'd get a little bitty doll about 13-10 inches long. Now ----------
Shoot, they don't have Christmas like they used to. We didn't have that much.
But we was thankful for what we had.
We always had church Christmas programs.
Used to be that the gifts at the church would be tied onto the tree, that was the decoration.
Mommy said she used to get her Christmas at the church tree.
Some of the best plays ever enjoyed over at the church was back then when Uncle Tom and Aunt Stella would get into it. I mean, it was really good. They would put some time into it. And they would start rehearsing maybe before Thanksgiving for the Christmas play. They would have qrown up adults in it. Any play put on over her-- at the church was out on the adults. But now anymore they won't get into it. They leave it up to the young people.
That's what you're supposed to.
QUESTION: Did you pull any pranks an Halloween or April Fool's Day?
ANSWER: Many of them (laughter). We didn't have any treats then, so that's when we done out tricks. You didn't get candy?
No. No candy.
They'd tear down fences across the road. Turn over people's back houses. Let Mae tell you, she was mean. Look at her setting there like she never done it.
She's not committing herself.
Go out somewhere build you up a big bonfire, dance around it and set and talk.
We had a white mule we painted with black stripes, made a zebra out of him. He was a beautiful zebra.
Roads, Creeks, and Weather
QUESTION: Can you remember when the road was changed, or was it changed at all?
ANSWER:Yes it was changed. But I don't know when.
The road used to go right down here. I guess to the north of where it is.
QUESTION: How were they maintained?
ANSWER. Manual labor. By the farmers. Horses. People paid their taxes by maintaining the roads.
QUESTION: During the summer was there a place with streams to swim or fish?
ANSWER: Yeah, there's always been creeks. Holes of water. But there's not now. Snakes would run you out of the water.
QUESTION:Can you remember any floods or blizzards?
ANSWER: Minnie can tell about that one. I don't really remember any big floods back then.
The first one I remember would have been about 1936. It was from bank to bank. Washed a fence row out, washed hogs down the creek.
QUESTION: Were the storms like they are now?
ANSWER: Not as bad. Occasionally. Snow storms. Wind Storms. Not as severe as they are now, no.
I remember one that the snow was down at Mozelle's down at the creek up to the top of the fence.
The first real hard windstorm that I can remember we was keeping boarders up on the mountain and the trees, the wind was so severe that the trees would almost bend to the ground.
QUESTION: Can you recall any droughts?
ANSWER: The year out daddy moved back to the farm, in 1930 and 31.
It started in '30.
It was a severe drought, people had to haul water from Kimberling creek for their cattle or they'd drive their cattle over there.
They had to, there wasn't too much that they could do.
Technology Comes to the Holler
QUESTION: Who was the first to own an automobile?
ANSWER: In Bland County or this holler?
Doc Wagner, in Bland County.
But I'd say T.P Helvey was the first in Pinch Creek Holler.
QUESTION: Who was the first to own a telephone?
ANSWER: Just about everybody in the holler.
Yeah, it was a neighborhood.
A lot of the wire run on barb wire.
QUESTION: Who was the first to receive electricity?
ANSWER: I guess everybody got it about the same time.
QUESTION: What were the first radios like?
ANSWER: They looked more like a box than anything else.
I guess about everybody got one though.
Birth,Death, and Marriage
QUESTION: How were people baptized?
ANSWER: Sprinkling and in the creek.
QUESTION: What were the funeral ceremonies like?
ANSWER: Well, most of the time the bodies were left at home. There wasn't any funeral parlors back then.
The neighbors laid them out.
Some close neighbors did the "laying out" as they called it.
Yeah, they kept them at home, then took them to the church.
QUESTION: How did you meet your spouse?
Parties and playing post office.
Most everybody grew up together. They grew up with the person they married.
QUESTION: How did you court?
ANSWER: Well, they'd take us from church home.
And you'd walk along and hold hands.
It was done mostly in the homes. There wasn't cars to run around it.
Sunday evenings, you'd walk wherever you had to go.
QUESTION: Who were the doctors of the neighboring communities and where did they practice?
ANSWER: Dr. Wagner, I guess was our first community doctor.
He was one of them.
Then Dr. J.J. Davidson.
Dr. Nebo was the dentist.
At the conclusion of the interview, the participants voiced informal opinions of how life was back then.
Well, I guess it was hard living, but I tell you right now, I enjoyed it. I wouldn't care to do it again, quote Ina Ramsey.
Mae Blankenship, expressed that she also enjoyed her life, but that she wouldn't want to go back to it.
Minnie Williams felt it would do the younger generation good to have to live like they had to. Now days they seem to have more than enough and still aren't satisfied with what they got.
The conversation came around to how they took baths. There was no inside plumbing, water had to be pumped outside and brought into the house for a bath.
Mae Blankenship added that every weekend she would gather a wash tub full of water and give all her kids a bath. This is what she had reference to about not wanting to go back to these old times, all the modern conveniences.
Ina Ramsey added that even though she had to do laundry on a washboard she had more leisure time back then than people seem to do now.
Minnie Williams stated they had hard work to do every morning but that left the afternoon free for them to go swimming.
They walked to the mailbox everyday, which was located almost all the way at the schoolhouse. The mail was delivered by horseback.
Ina Ramsey summed up the sisters' feelings about their childhood by saying that it was rough, but it was good.
Would you care to return to the top of the page?
copyright©bland county history archives all rights reserved 2000