Does any one remember that genuine specimen of the old field schoolmaster, Allen S. Bacon? He lived in 1830 on the school land in the mouth of the dry valley, and taught school there for many years.
At his school quite a number of the young and rising generation of that day obtained the education that amply fitted them for the duties of life in rural occupations.
Mr. Bacon, the first schoolteacher I ever went to school to, was a good teacher for the times. He raised a very respectable family, one of whom at least—Drury A.—became a leading citizen of your county and held honorable positions of trust in both Roane and Loudon counties. He was a man of very pleasing manners and amiable deportment.
There was another son, however, called Kier—for Hezekiah I suppose—for whom I had the greatest aversion. I feared him as I would a bear, and hated him more intensely than any man I ever saw.
All this fear and hatred originated from his perverse, and as I thought, his insane desire to tickle me to death, in which he often came near succeeding. He would tickle me till my breath would be gone and I would think my time had come and I should surely die.
It was a lesson to me and I have never tickled a child to excess. I have written this with no feeling of enmity to Mr. Bacon, who became a very respectable man and good citizen as I learn, but as a warning to others to never indulge the habit of tickling a child, for no one can forsee the injury that may result.
Then there were Charles and Richard Taliaferro, two famous bearers of Gospel tidings to a sinful world. Perhaps no two men did more to set up and establish a high standard of morals in all the country around and about them than these grand old men.
They lived on adjoining lands near Pond Creek, and I have no doubt were the original enters of their land: as the treaty of 1819 first gave the white people, the right of entry was made before the treaty. They were not only good preachers but good farmers as well. Charles Taliaferro also had a tanyard and cotton gin or wool carding machine, I forget which.
At any rate I remember going to school to Alfred Helman, who taught in a little log house just below the tanyard, and two of his sons, John and Hardin, went to the same school. John was a very studious boy and advanced rapidly in his studies and was a great favorite with the teacher and consequently was envied by the other boys.
Hardin was equally as studious but in an entirely different direction. His chief aim and purpose seemed to be to do some mischief to some other boy, by which he generally managed to get a flogging every day, and very often two or three times a day. If a day passed without Hardin getting whipped, he was sorely disappointed. He would be sure to earn two or three the next day to make up for it.
The writer was a small kid, then very earnestly engaged in making straight marks and pot hooks on a copy book composed of half a quire of foolscap; and studying the marvelous stories of Peter Parley about Mother Carey’s chickens.
After that school my acquaintance with the Taliaferro boys ceased and I have no further knowledge of their future career. I would not be surprised, however, to learn that Hardin made the more successful man of the two, as I have often seen the goody, goody boy turn out to be a very worthless sort of man, while the harem-scare-um-devil-may-care brother may turn out to be a first class citizen and successful business man.
In 1874, when traveling on business in north Alabama, I stopped at a farmhouse to stay all night and after supper the landlord, his wife and daughter prepared to go to Church some two miles away, and by their invitation I accompanied them.
What was my surprise to see the Rev. Dick Taliaferro rise in the pulpit and conduct services! I could scarcely control myself till services were over, and when concluded I eagerly approached and took him by the hand, and when I told him who I was, that I was the same little boy whom as a four year old he had picked up in the road with but one little garment on and made me ride before him home, he exhibited that same kindly expression of countenance and benevolent disposition that characterized his whole life, and seemed as glad to see me as he would some near relative.
It affords me great pleasure to pay this little tribute of respect to so good and worthy a man and conclude it with this remark: it matters not how exalted our station in life—we can lose nothing by kindness to a child.
Excerpt from “Recollections of 60 Years Ago,” by R.M. Edwards
This article appeared in The Loudon County Herald, Sept. 14, 1893, and was reprinted in The Loudon County Herald, Centennial Edition, June 13-20, 1970. Although this article is about people and land in present day Loudon County, the area was a part of Roane County until 1870.
Online at http://www.roanetnheritage.com/research/historical%20articles/ha01.htm