"MEMORIES OF HOLLY POND, ALABAMAAs given to me by my Mother and Father and as I remember" By Mrs. Maude Davis Bailey Johnson
(AS REVISED BY F. HOWARD ON 27/2/00)
Appendices | Index of Families | Epilogue
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My father, James Jackson Davis, II (J. J. or Jim as he was called ), was born in Georgia. He was the son of James Jackson Davis Sr. (Jack) , who was born in Georgia and Catherine Ellen McAdams born in Georgia.
My mother was the daughter of Ben P. Peoples of Elmo[re] County near Montgomery [Al.], who married Mary Elizabeth Dismuke[s] of Elmo[re] County near Montgomery and Gadsden Alabama. My mother, Arlethia Florence Peoples (Ollie) was an only child, but daddy had fifteen (15) brothers and sisters.
Grandpa (Jack) Davis went to Texas for a while in the 1870's and came back and settled down on Sand Mountain [Al.]. Daddy was a young man and went to Holly pond and bought a farm of 80 acres about one-half (1/2) mile south, adjoining the Jasper Crumbley and Jasper Dodson and Wilson farms. Here, he farmed and peddled. I have heard him say [that] he plowed the ox in his shirt tail to save his pants. He had a one room house with a lean-to kitchen. His bedroom was his store; he would measure the cloth from his bed, which had only one post. The bed was built in the corner; it was called "Georgia Bed". He bought his (goods) merchandise in Cullman and would haul them out in the ox wagon; it would take 3 or 4 days to make the trip. He had an Uncle in business in Gadsden, Alabama and would take a week off and go there and buy goods. In the early spring of 1886 he made a trip to Gadsden, and while there met
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a lovely girl, Miss Arlethia Florence Peoples, who was engaged to a Mr. Bake Turner; but (Jim as mama called him), talked so pretty and fast she broke her engagement and in the fall Jim came back and they were married in Gadsden, October 25, 1886, by Rev. Jenkins.
Jim borrowed $5.00 from his uncle and they started to Holly Pond, with her furniture, feather bed, pea fowl, and a pig. Mother had been living with her grandmother and grandfather, John Dismuke[s] and wife, Dr Melenda (sic) Morrow Dismuke[s] [in Gadsden?]. Mother said after the ten day trip they arrived in Holly Pond, there was a big celebration planned for them by the Jasper Dodson's and Steve Daniels, who were old settlers, also the Taylor's, Watts', Hammocks, Neals, Kirks, Sluggs [Snuggs], Lewis', Crumbley's, and Martins'. Mother said, they had a big time in those homes for a week, then they settled down to work. She would keep the store and Daddy would peddle. In 6 months [about April 1887] her mother (Grandma Peoples) came to live with them. She would weave cloth -
The next year [1887?] their first child William Arthur was born. Mama had cloth to sell, yet they made all the cloth for their first child. They had coffee to sell, yet, they made a brew from parched corn. Their business grew and they built a new store and 2 story home combined right up in the Pond (as Holly Pond was called). This place joined up the Jasper Dodson and McCollum place. While living here, daddy saw the need for a Post Office. He wrote to Washington and went to Cullman and carried the post office to Holly Pond, but I have heard the first mail was brought to the Pond by Jasper Dodson and granddaughter Miss Fannie Dodson, who walked to Blountsville. They would cross the river in a boat. For 3 years they went for the Mail.
In 1885, Mr. Bud Daniel and Mr. John Dodson would walk to Baileyton twice weekly and get the Mail, which was nearer. All were happy with the new Post Office.
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About this time my brother Newton was born. Then Pearl came, and Daddy was sure proud of their girl. Birdie, Vira Josephine, Tempie, Annettie, then I (Maude) was born. This house sure was full, so they bought a lot across the street and built a big 2 story house with lots of porches. He built a 2 story store across the road. The men of Holly Pond joined the Mason's and rented the upstairs of our store for their hall. The women joined the Eastern Star. I remember crying to go with mama but Uncle Wiley Dismuke[s], the door keeper, told me I would have to ride a goat up there.
Bennie, Henry and Parker was born in the new home. The Joe Summers lived across the road south, and Mr Jerry and Matt Daniel and Aunt Fronie Stallings lived in the next house. I remember them so well, they had a dining table with a "lazy susan" on it and those good cookies she could make. Their granddaughter, Vela Daniel lived in the next house. Frank and Ollie Daniel were her parents.
The Summers had a store. My brother Arthur dated Lula Mae (Summers)and my sister Pearl married William (Summers) the 2nd oldest boy.
The Baptist Church was right behind our house, and the school was across the road on the old Hanceville Road. Daddy built a gin and grist mill next to it. Old Dr. Watts home was on the road to the cemetery. Daddy gave the ground for the new cemetery and they put a fence around it. The first one buried there was the Terrell Hendrix child, my brothers and sister are buried next to it and they are next to the road that went to Cullman. Where you entered the cemetary then, there was a tool house and a persimmon bush and a scrub hickory nut tree that is still there. It is like Holly Pond will never die. I gathered hickory nuts from it this year (1956). The Crumbley lot is next to it also and Jim Haynes. On up the road lived Robert Howards. Their only child, Edgar [Howard] married my sister Tempie, and above them Moon's, Sizemore's, and on the road was New Hope Church. Back on the Cullman road lived the
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Green Shaws, Hootens, Baileys, Brasswells, Crafts, Drakes, Pattersons, Joe Whatley and Nobles. There was a road from here across to the Hanceville Road. Stidhams, Turners, Gilleys and Bannisters lived on this road. It came in at the old Dave Aldridge place on the old Hanceville Road, where Charlie Garham now lives. Charlie's wife Ludie was George and Hattie Bailey's girl. Her brothers Luther and Elbert were left orphans when they were young. I married Elbert (Ed) after I grew up March 24, 1918. We had one child Edward Earl Bailey, January 20 1920/
Now back to the Hanceville Road, lived, Stishers, J. O. Taylor (our Justice of Peace), Tom Combes (Photographer) and the Jim Hammocks. I remember them so well, I have heard mama talk of their child that was bit by a mad dog and maybe held the child while it was dying. I've always had a horror of a mad dog since..
Down on the Bend Road lived Burgesses, Wilsons, Gorhams, Steve Daniels, Harve Shoemakers, Crawford, Maybeys, Lewis, Barnetts, Price and Grandpa Davis lived where the Shoemakers now live. What fun it was to go down there. Grandma was in a wheel car for 25 years and we loved to carry her candy. Aunt Mary could make the best soup. My Aunt Mary, Jenney and Cliff were old maids who cared for Grandma.
On the Blountsville Road were the George Dodson, Dr. and Mrs. Hayden and their pet poodles, they did not have any children, Snuggs, Dyes, Whites, Whatleys, Dodson, Kirks, Campbells, Garrison, Dial, Neal, Phillips, Duke and Martins.
Dr Hayden was found dead in his office across the road from our 2nd house.
On the road to Gadsden were Ed Estes and Store, Methodist Church. Young Dr. Hence Watts, Will Daniels, O'Neals, this was the way we went to the Preacher Oscar Houses, Hassells, and Will Watts. Press Daniel married Ruth O'Neal and lived on this road. How well I remember going to their house to a Square Dance. We went in a 2 horse wagon filled with hay.
Mr. & Mrs. Will Neal lived behind us in the McCallum house when they first married.
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The Dodson Brothers had a blacksmith shop. Emma Dodson and I would get our Jacks (chienes as we called them) to toss on our hands. Between the shop and Methodist Church was a pine grove where we always had our fourth of July picnics. I remember the merry-go-round and the tubs of ice cold lemon ade. The boys from the Odd Fellows home in Cullman were always there with their band.
Daddy belonged to the Odd Fellows and Mother to the Rebekahs and we would go to their home for their picnic.
Just back of the Church was a branch and I remember Emma Dodsons house was near. We would get all the gang together and go walk a log over our swimming hole. One Sunday, Lessie Mae Whatley came and Thelma Hanners, Ruth Braswell, Iter [sic]Mae Doyle, Vila Daniel, Sadie Bell Neal, Ruth Aldridge, Della Dodson, Stella and Emma Dodson. Lessie Mae had on a red duck dress (she always was so neat and clean). She fell off the log and her dress faded in the pond. There were a ;lot of stumps down there and we would get upon them and preach. I jumped off one and my feet slipped and I sat down in some old green slimey muck. We all went to church and Bro. House was a hard, loud, long lasting preacher, so we had the training in preaching. It was a Free Will Baptist. I really remember the old folk washing feet. I joined the church when I was 12 . I remember those good Methodist the Neals, Snuggs, Summers, Will Coles and many others. We Baptist were invited to be in an all day program. I had a piece to say, and I was so small they put me on a center table with large glass feet. Birdie had made me a pretty white dress with puff sleeves and lace. She had pinned the band so tight it corded my arm and I fell off the table in a faint. The weather sure was warm. That same day my little cousin was buried.
Mr. and Mrs. Gill now lived in the first store papa built. Miss Ollie Burden who soon became Mr. And Mrs. Gill daughter-in-law was a teacher. When we got the telephone, Mrs. Gill was the switchboard operator. Mr. Gill and son Ed had a store there. Ed and Ollie adopted a set of twins, boy and girl. This really was news for us. The Gills sold good candy. I would take every penny I could get and buy Banana Penny Candy from them. Of course, we had all kinds in our store but theirs seemed better when I bought it.
By this time, Mr. Frank Neal and Mrs. Floie [sic] lived where the Billie Neals lived, right next to our new house.
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Miss Floie loved pretty hats and had a millinery shop and he had a store. Their children were Lune, Sadie Bell, and Mixie. They moved back to Atlanta, Georgia and Mr. Fayte and Ada Taylors moved there. He was a mail carrier and merchant. Ada was a pianist. Their children Katie and Marshall were good neighbors. Kate was so pretty, she had nice clothes and could really sing. Then they moved down to the old Kirk place on the Blountsville Road. We had fun there. Mrs. Taylor helped us build a tree house and all of us children enjoyed going there. The Green Shaws and son bought the Taylor place and ran the store.
Mr. Walter, Miss Georgia and Earney Shaw were sure good neighbors. She helped me learn to bake pies. I never saw her mad in my life. Mr. Walter never said much but was always good and kind to me.
In the next house on the road to Turkey Hop Primitive Baptist Church (or Baileyton Road) lived the Tom Hanners. He had a gin right across the road from his house, Thelma and I would play in the gin. Here is where I told Mother a story, Thelma & I went to church that Sunday. We had pretty new dresses, mine was a rose flower dimity [sic] . While we were playing around the gin, I got axel grease all over my new dress. Mama and Papa had gone to an all day singing in Blount County. I went home and hid my dress in the clothes closet and told Mama I put it away to keep it clean. Of course, she found the dress and I found the hickory for storying.
In the next house lived the Terrell Hendrix [family] and next was the George Houses. The Doyles had come into the Pond from Birmingham. Mrs. Doyle was an invalid. Iter was a cripple but had the best disposition of my girl friends. Across the road was the Butler place. Willie was my girl friend and Vernon was one of the smartest girls in school.
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About this time, Papa gave the ground and built a big new school[.] It was paid for in Bonds. There were 2 big rooms downstair and one large room upstairs. Some of the teachers I remember were Prof. Hugh Fowler (who married the Miss Effie Daniel, one of the best dressed girls in Holly Pond), Miss Maude Dooley, Mr. Luther Patrick (Congressman), Mr Oscar Taylor, son of the Justice of Peace, who later was a mail carrier. He married Bertha Dodson the pianist of the Baptist Church. She was the daughter of Mr. John Dodson, who ran a store in the old Summers place. The Dodsons lived on the road to the cemetary [sic] and my sister [Pearl] lived near them.
The school came around to the old Dr. George Watts house and Uncle John Dismuke[s] lived there. Then Grandpa [Davis] lived there, Jim Shoemaker and Rob Lattes and then papa sold the place to the Ed Burgesses from down in the Bend. Going back into Holly Pond was where Jim and Myrt Shoemaker lived, then the Chester Davis (which were no kin to us). Then the Haynes, Uncle Bud and Matilda. He had a blacksmith shop and she had taken over the switchboard, How I remember him. He died from a house fire where the George Houses lived. They had moved to the Summers house and papa built a new store right next to the Calaboose (jail) and our gin and sold it to Mr. House. Sarah [House?] helped cook for drummers (travelling men). We had always kept the drummers until papa had sold George House the new store he had built.
On the Turkey Hop Road, I remember the Millworks. They had one boy named Patty. He would bring eggs for the store. They were very thrifty. I remember him getting his gold teeth. Then there were the Will Taylors who were loyal to the Turkey Hop Church. I had such a good time visiting Zela and Bessie[Taylor]. We gathered eggs together.
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Mrs. Taylor was such a good kind woman. I will always remember how she could sing fa - so - la. Grandma [peoples?] enjoyed going to the Turkey Hop Church and she would carry me. Services lasted most of all the day each preacher (and there were many) preached hard and long. The Charlies Martins lived over this way. Gussie Mae and Ora were good friends of mine. Cousin Wiley Dismukes lived near this road. The Mixons, Scotts and go to the right off this road and you would be at the Plunketts. One of them was a good lawyer, I believe it was Florence. Then the Mayberries, Milams and Carrs.
I forgot about the big store between the old Neal store and Mr Hannes home. John and Franklin Dodson ran a store here.
The Hanners left Holly Pond and the Bill Hendrixs of Blountsville moved in their house. Mrs. Hendrix (Kit) was hard of hearing. They had a 9 boys and my sister, Birdie married Frank [Hendrix]. Dr. Hence Watts daughter Rachael married Batch. Then the Hendrix moved back to Blountsville to the hotel. I stayed with them when I went to school there.
We had lots of good men in the community Preacher Oscar House, Preacher Joe Whatley, Mr. Hatley Allen, Preacher Whitaker and Mr. Virgil Sizemore. Virgil made one of the best preachers. He held the service at my mama's funeral. Other good men in the community were Bird Bailey, Jim Cambell [sic], the Stanciels [sic] and many others.
We really had good clean fun. I remember a Mr Witt
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that came through with a show, was a ventriloquist. He had 2 Negro dolls Jane and Jack. Then there was the man with the big black bear, he tied it to a tree in our front yard. Always on George Washingtons Birthday we had a full day of programs at school. We would go for miles to the singing schools protractine [sic] meetings each summer. I remember me in a bush arbor at Pine Grove (near the bend), wagon loads of us went. The Box Suppers were to raise money for the school. We had a band in Holly Pond, daddy bought the instruments, Arthur was the drummer. We had an organ, Arthur a mandalin [sic], Pearl played the accordian [sic], later we got a piano.
Papa bought the first car I ever saw. Mr. Harry Parker of Cullman brought it out. Mama paid for the 7 passenger Reo with gold from a little black satchel.
Will House was a mechanic and he drove for us. I remember my first [car] trip to Birmingham. Cousin Fanny Thrash and children had come to visit us and we were carrying her home when Will killed a calf in the road. I bribed him into teaching me to drive by not telling daddy.
Misses Etheline and Alice Latta, Blountsville visited me. Etheline married Dr. Suddath, Hanceville. Alice married Clarence Sheen, Cullman. Mama had Mrs. Pearl Gutterman as a visitor that summer. She was Jasper Crumbley['s] first [sic] daughter and had to be operated on for appendicitis from which she never recovered. We always had lots of company. Our table seated 12 and it was usually set twice for each meal. People visit[ed] then and had fellowship.
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The Christmas trees were the biggest I ever saw. I often wonder how they got them in the Church. I still have riases [?] of the tree.
When I was real small, we had barbarcues [sic] down in our pasture at the spring. Uncle John Dismuke[s] and Steve Daniel could make the best stew from mutton, beef, and lamb. The first barbarcue [sic] was in 1896. I wrote to my cousin Ed Dismike[s], [of] California and received this information. I have a picture from the first barbarcue I remember in 1905. It is faded but you can still see Uncle John Dismuke[s] and Steve Daniel with the ladle in the hands dishing out the stew.
It wasn't long until papa had carbide lights put in the house (how the carbide did smell in the little house he had built for the light plant, right next to mamas flower house). The ladies in those days had beautiful pot flowers. The windmill he put up by the well, it sure would fly when the wind blew. We had a big grape arbor that led to our toilet. Apples and peaches in our backyard. Daddy had an asparagus and celery bed the first to ever be grown there. He had the first alligator ever in Holly Pond. It was sent to him by a friend in Florida.
Just across the road was Holly Ponds first cemetery, the McCallum's are buried there. A little Matson child was the first child buried there. The Matson's were camping out there and the child died.
We also had lots of troubles, I remember when the storm came through and almost blew the school away. We children were really scared. Only one boy left the school Luther Cargo, a cripple, and he really ran on his crutches. They lived near the Baptist Church. We children were asked to pray and I
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remember Miss Lillie Aldredge praying. I knelt beside her, she was a sister to Ruth my friend, Mr Dave Aldredges girls. Mrs. Aldredge could make the best biscuits. The wind twisted the school so the doors would not open. The store front blew down and the Methodist Church torn up.
I remember the killings, cuttings and shootings, and the night papas gin burned he did not have insurance, also the George House store. Our sickness in the community, grandma [Peoples] was a mid-wife and she helped lots, always treated babies for thrash [thrush?] (a mouth disease). How I would slip around and try to watch her.
My brother Arthur went to Peabody College and I remember him being quarantined for smallpox. I have the release the doctor gave him when they found he didn't have them.
The first teacher of Holly Pond was Jasper Dodson, the[n] Willie Piece. A few of the older teachers were Misses Kitty Holland, Mae Hickman, Mamie Simms, Bessie Wright, a Miss Nellie, Dave Smith, Charlie Tillery, Whit Harman, Prof. Cox, Prof Callahan, Prof. Martin and Wade Wright.
[The dictation ends here and is followed by this note in Maude's own handwriting:]
"Memories of Maude Davis, Bailey, Johnson of Hollypond wrote down by my Daughter Ellen Johnson who never lived in Holly Pond but is buried there."
EPILOGUE BY FRANK HOWARD, Feb. 1999. Top of Document
This is a transcript of an eleven page hand-written document from dictation given to her by her mother, Maude Johnson, by Ellen A. Johnson of Cullman Al. in 1956. Ellen married about 1956 and died of leukaemia on 1 Sept 1957.
This is a very personal account of Maude's youthful memories of her own life Holly Pond naming many of the inhabitants she knew well there at the turn of the century. I have transcribed this document so that all the family can share the details and the intrinsic warmth of her words as our dear, late Ellen wrote them down.
As this saga explains, my grandaunt Maude was born in Hollypond on 5 Sep. 1898. I have most of the dates of her siblings and have used her memories to search in censuses to find those I had not heard of. Since she tells us most are buried in Holly Pond cemeteries, anyone who went there can find more accurate dates on the grave markers.
When I knew her in my own childhood during the 1940s, Maude and her second husband, Herman Johnson (b. 16 Dec. 1892 - d. 26 May 1977) and their only child Ellen lived at 119 First Avenue West, Cullman, Al. After Uncle Herman died, she continued to live there until she had a stroke in about 1978 after which she lived in a nursing home in Hanceville. She died in Hanceville, Al. on 20 Sep. 1985 and is buried beside her second husband, Herman Johnson and Ellen Johnson Jacobs in Holly Pond cemetery.
Maude was the sister of my paternal grandmother, Tempie Lula Davis. This document confirms names for all her other siblings (but she makes no mention of her Uncle "Nick" Davis, whom I know to be buried in the cemetery and is referred to on his marker as "the son of J. J. Davis (Sr), b. 21 Aug 1881 d. 1914"). I am attaching in the appendix below a copy of the family names and dates as I now have recorded them in my family genealogy. Some names therein (marked with "?") need to be confirmed.
Recently, while trying to assimilate any family information I could find for our Davis family genealogy, I wrote to Maude's son, Edward Earl Bailey of Columbia SC (his father was her first husband Elbert Bailey), and he sent me this document.
I have also made photographic scans in jpg format which I can send by email to anyone who wishes to have a copy of the manuscript for their own enjoyment and study. I also have several photographs given to me by my grandmother of herself, a family group portrait made in about 1926 and some of her brothers and sisters as children and young adults. I also have scans of these.
Several surname spellings are in variance with other family histories I have seen. I have indicated these by the use of brackets as in her use of the surname "Dismuke" instead of "Dismuke[s]". Since both name spellings were used in the same family, it is possible that our branch did drop the "s" in practice, but I know "Dismukes" is used on several of the family graves in Holly Pond.
In some instances, I have also corrected Ellen's spelling except where I felt it might mislead to correct it. Such words are marked out with "[sic]". Generally, I have not changed her use of commas, parenthesis, apostrophes and her sentence structure so as to keep the quality of "oral history" that gives Maude's words so much charm (and to me a real voice as I recall her with great affection).
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