I was born September 13, 1893, at the old Sapp homestead, my lifelong home, which my parents, John R. and Sanepta A. Sapp, bought in the early ’80s from Lewis Wilson. At my birth, Dr. Luther Grimes and Mrs. Amanda Mills (she was Bob Mills’ grandmother and lived in the brick house south of the Knoxville School) were the attendants. Hence my middle name Mills.
I was the youngest of six sons: Charles, 14 years my senior; Wilbur, 13 years older; Lloyd, 12 years older, (now all dead); Edgar, 11 years older, now 93 years old and living alone in his home in Richmond, Ohio, well and strong, reads without glasses and needs no medicine; and Elbert, 7 years older, died March 7, 1971.
I was a very cross, bottle fed baby, with milk from a certain Jersey Cow, and my nurses—my older brothers—had to keep me outside when the weather was mild, so not to wreck mother’s nerves. My crib was the back of the old fashioned hand-turned grain cleaning windmill.
One day when I was past 3 years old, I was still sucking my bottle and I remember getting up at nights and filling my bottle. Well, this day Father and Mother took me and went to see Grandpa and Grandma Sapp and Uncle Anson, then when I went to suck my bottle of milk, Uncle made fun of me, so I took my bottle and hid behind the room door and he still teased me, so I crawled under the bed and finished it and after that I drank my milk from a tin pint cup, like they used in those days at farm sales for coffee and a free sack lunch.
Those days children wore long black stockings held up with rubber garters. Boys wore knee pants till they were 12. They had no kindergarten, but I remember brother Elbert taking me to school one day with him when I was 5 years old.
We had no RFD Mail, but a post office in the Knoxville Store, and Fred Mills—Bob’s uncle—was post master.
School took up with Bible reading and prayer at 9 a.m. with a 15 minute recess at 10:30, then an hour at noon till 1 p.m., recess again at 2:30, and out at 4 p.m. We always ran home at noon for our dinners and took the mail, and usually had some quick chores to do, then hurried back and had time to play some before the bell rang for classes.
We had a big pot bellied iron stove in the center of the room for coal heating and pupils used slates and slate pencils and black boards for arithmetic classes, and lined up on the floor for reciting a reading or spelling lesson. Then there was the water bucket shelf in one corner, with water bucket and dipper. We got the water from the Issac/Willis dug well, across the street, and drew the water with a windlass and a bucket. Two boys always got to go for a bucket of water.
I remember many a winter night, when I was small, that Father and I would take the lantern and go check on the sheep. Perhaps a new lamb, or perhaps twins, had just been born, so we would quickly wrap them up in a feed sack, put it in a bushel basket and hurry back to the house and get it out in front of the old coal grate fire and soon have it dry and warm, ready to take it back to get its first milk. I remember the big cut sandstone door sill a foot high that the lambs had to hop over, or we had to help the smaller ones over.
At shearing time, on a warm spring p.m., we would wash the sheep, as washed wool brought a higher price than unwashed wool.
We had a special sheep lot built with boards with a 3 foot wide chute to the washing box, down in the pasture field by the big old sycamore tree. We would build a small dam upstream 100 feet, then use 20 foot wooden “V” troughs to carry the water to the wooden 3 x 4 foot and 3 foot deep washing box.
Two would wash a sheep and lift it out and start it wobbling on its way. One man put a sheep in the wash. Then after a week of warm sunny days they were ready to shear, with hand clippers.
“Knoxville Facts,” by Joseph Mills Sapp (1893-1989), Knoxville [OH] Area History 1802 – 1976, published by the Knoxville Bicentennial Committee, Mrs. Richard Jacks, History Chairman