Who Was Here When I Got Here

Posted by Dave Tabler | August 10, 2017

The following are reminiscences of the Cloverdale, GA community by Brody Hawkins, who was born there in 1927 (d. 1998) and lived there all his life.  These are his memories of the families who lived in Cloverdale when he was a child.

When I got here, we had three doctors in the community, Dr. Middleton, Dr. Gardner and Dr. Bunk Payne. We used Dr. Middleton.  Middleton and Gardner were jealous and would run most doctors out. They let Payne stay because he treated venereal diseases.  He doctored them with mercury compounds. The treatment was as bad as the disease, but that was all there was to treat it with. Also, Payne would doctor our livestock.  Back then all the doctors did that.

As the painted barn says, this is about 10 miles from Sequoyah Caverns (in Valley Head, AL), north of it on Highway U.S. 11, very close to the Dekalb County, AL and Dade County, GA border. That places the barn squarely in the neighborhood of Cloverdale.


Dr. Spencer Middleton and I go back a long ways.  I’m known to most people as Brody, but my real name is Ernest Middleton Hawkins. I was delivered by Dr. Middleton, who told my daddy that the delivery was free if he would name me after him.

When I was young, Dr. Middleton came by our house on his way to see Ben Hogan’s wife.  She was having her eighth child.  He lived on the place now owned by Charles Morgan.  Ben lived about a mile off the main road.  The branch was up and Daddy told me to go with Dr. Middleton and carry his bag.  When we got to the house, we could see old Ben sitting back in the house.  He chewed tobacco, dipped snuff and smoked a pipe all at the same time.  Hound dogs came bailing out from under the house and started biting us. Doc said, “Son, hand me that pistol grip shotgun out of my bag.

I handed it to him and he started shooting dogs.  Ben came out on the porch and said, “Doc, would you just kill all of a man’s dogs?”

Doc said, “If you don’t get these dogs off of us; I will shoot you, too.”

He shot dogs as long as he saw them.  He had a 410 over and under 14″ barrel gun. That family later left here and I have never heard of them again.

At that time, over half the people couldn’t or wouldn’t pay the doctors.  Dr. Middleton said he never sent a bill. They paid if they could.  Dr. Gardner, however, would go to see people about paying. He would say, “Hey, fella, could you help me a little on your bill?” If they said, no, he would ask them about giving him a calf or a hog or something. He once took ten gallons of sorghum for a baby case.  Dr. Gardner delivered six babies for one family I know and they never paid him a penny.

I remember going to get Dr. Gardner at two in the morning to deliver Buddy Howell’s baby.  Doc lived in the house where the Coopers live on Cloverdale Road.  He told me to put my mule in the barn and I rode with him in his car.  I remember going to the post office and seeing Doc Gardner pulling someone’s teeth while they were sitting on the fender of his car.  Doc would come by the post office and get his mail and he would throw the junk mail in the old pot-belly stove unopened.

Dr. Gardner got killed when a train hit his car at the railroad crossing just below our house.  He lived alone and they had a hard time finding any relatives. When a committee went in to inventory his property, they found $57,000 in the house behind the piano.

source: http://dadecountyhb.wordpress.com/edited-articles/community/cloverdale-community-who-was-here-when-i-got-here/

2 Responses

  • David W. Goode, Sr. says:

    Brody Hawkins was my uncle, the brother of my mother, Katherine Hawkins Goode. I love this barn. We drove by it just a few weeks ago going to the old Beene Family Cemetery where dozens of my family are buried, including Brody.

  • “He chewed tobacco, dipped snuff and smoked a pipe all at the same time.” – Classic

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A national treasure almost lost forever

Posted by Dave Tabler | August 9, 2017

Maxine Broadwater was just 5 years old when she helped her brothers destroy the glass negatives so they could turn their late uncle’s photography studio into a chicken house. Luckily for us they didn’t finish the job.

Leo J. Beachy (1874-1927) is thought to have taken ten thousand photographs a year on five inch by seven inch glass plates of the people and places in his beloved Garrett County, MD between the years 1905 and 1927. Perhaps 10% of his output survives today. It’s astonishing to consider that by the time he gave up his teaching career at the age of 31 to pursue his passion full time, he’d somehow found ways to prevent his multiple sclerosis from slowing this pace. He’d wrap his arms around people’s backs to be dragged from camera to developing room, and had a special wagon outfitted to carry photographer and rigging.

Leo J. Beachy with children

“I have taken medicine by the barrel and as for doctors… I’ve been drugged by the allopaths, rubbed by the osteopaths and bilked by the quack-o-paths. They have doped me with caster oil, rubbed me with sweet oil and soaked me in hard oil. I’ve slept with my head to the north for polarity, and between a pair of electric sheets and with a bundle of shingles for a pillow, for cedaracity. In fact I’ve tried everything from sooth sayers to the ouija board. Now if you know of anything new, just trot it out and I’ll put it through the paces.” Leo Beachy, 1923.

Fifty years after she dumped her uncle’s glass plates into a nearby creek, Maxine Broadwater was given about 2,700 Beachy negatives that had been gathering dust in a neighbor’s shed. Broadwater has devoted the decades since to preserving those images of children, farmers and small-town Appalachia.

“When I was a child, I did exactly what I was told. I’m hoping Uncle Lee forgave me for that, I’m trying to make it up to him now,” she said.

The pictures have been celebrated since their discovery. William Stapp, curator of photography for the National Portrait Gallery, praised them as “entrancing pictures, composed with naive charm” in his essay for the 1984 book, “Maryland Time Exposures, 1840-1940.” And a 1990 Spread in LIFE magazine exposed Beachy’s work to the world.

“When I first saw [the photographs], what struck me was how unposed and natural his portraits where, not anything like I had seen or associated in my own mind with what photographs looked like at the turn of the century,” said Adele Rush, executive producer of ‘Images of Maryland,’ an hour long special aired several years ago by Maryland Public Television about the work of six great Maryland photographers.

Finally The Maryland Historical Society acquired the Leo Beachy Collection of Photographs. The collection includes 2,000 postcard prints, and 200 glass-plate negatives.

sources: www.rootsweb.com/~mdgarret/unclesphoto.html


Related posts: “Photographer Doris Uhlmann”

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Acid rain devastates Tennessee’s Copper Basin

Posted by Dave Tabler | August 8, 2017

In August 1843, a Tennessee gold prospector working on Potato Creek discovered a reddish-brown and black decomposed rock that contained deep red crystals; his “gold” turned out to be red copper oxide. At the time, this copper deposit was one of the world’s largest finds.

The Hiwassee Mine opened in 1850, and within 5 years the Tennessee, Mary’s, Isabella, and Eureka mines were operating full swing. The Copper Basin, a 75-square-mile long geologic formation, was fast becoming home to the Southeast’s largest metal mining operation, employing more than 2,500 people at its peak.

Who could have foreseen that the largest man-made biological desert in the nation would emerge out of this economic fervor?

By 1861, trees were becoming scarce in the Basin. Wood was needed to fuel the smelters. The Polk County ores contained significant sulfur content. When roasted, the sulfur was released, forming sulfur dioxide, which later rained down as sulfuric acid. After the trees had been cut, the gases from the open smelting destroyed the remaining vegetation.

By 1876, there was no wood left in the immediate area. Logs were floated down the Ocoee River from Fannin County, GA to fuel the smelters. By 1878, about 50 square miles had been stripped of vegetation. Without trees and undergrowth, the top soil began to erode and huge gullies formed. Very few plants or animals survived. The nation was getting its first look at the long-term effects of acid rain.

Starting about 1885, the State of Georgia began filing lawsuits because of the damage to its timber and crops.

By 1899 the Tennessee Copper Company (TCC) had bought or leased mines from most of the other mining companies in the Basin. It built a new smelter in McCays (renamed Copperhill) and in 1904 placed its headquarters in the town.

Copper Basin, Polk County TNOriginal caption reads: Copper mining section between Ducktown and Copperhill, Tennessee. Fumes from smelting copper for sulfuric acid have destroyed all vegetation and eroded the land.

That same year, TCC erected smoke stacks 150 feet tall to solve the acid rain problem, and in 1905 erected a 325 foot stack. The stacks helped locally but dispersed the gases over an even wider area. Instead of settling lawsuits, this tactic created more lawsuits from a broader area.

Tennessee courts ruled that the value of the copper companies’ contributions to the county out-weighed damages they caused. Before the copper industry came to the area, there were only around 200 residents. The court noted that, at that time, the open-roast heap method of smelting was the only known smelting method.

In 1906 in Georgia vs. Tennessee Copper Company, the Supreme Court heard Georgia’s claim that TCC was taking away its sovereign rights of control over its land and air. Georgia sought an injunction preventing TCC from using the open roast heap smelting method, and the Supreme Court granted it in 1907.

This injunction, had it been enforced, would have probably meant the end to mining, which in turn would have killed the Basin economically. TCC mining engineers instead proposed the idea of condensing the gases to produce sulfuric acid. Georgia officials agreed to wait and see if the new process would help the situation.

“The Tennessee Company is erecting an acid plant to make low-grade sulphuric acid out of the fumes from the blast furnaces,” said Walter Harvey Weed in ‘The Copper Mines of the World,” in 1908. The company built two acid plants, in Isabella and Copperhill, which did in fact contain the sulfur dioxide output.

And so, even though the Court had found for Georgia, it did not instate the injunction. Ironically, sulfuric acid ultimately replaced copper as TCC’s major product. In 1942, TCC built a large sulfuric acid plant at Copperhill.

Within two decades of the acid rain ruling the first efforts were made to reclaim the barren landscape. Reforestation efforts began in the 1920s and 1930s and concentrated efforts began in the 1940s. Early efforts were carried out by the mining companies and TVA.

In 1941 the TVA established a CCC camp in the Basin to enhance their tree planting efforts. Hundreds of acres of pine were planted between 1939 and 1944. The CCC workers built dams, planted trees, and covered the ground with straw to prevent runoff.

Today, the Burra Burra Mine Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places. The State of Tennessee purchased the site in 1983, making it the first state-owned historic industrial site.

The district stands as a stark example of the devastating environmental damage that stems from unplanned, unregulated large-scale industrial development.

sources: www.tennessee.gov/environment/hist/pdf/copperhill.pdf


acid+rain Tennessee+Copper+Company Copper+Basin Polk+County+TN appalachia appalachian+history appalachian+mountains+history

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I don’t ever seem to be able to get away from groceries

Posted by Dave Tabler | August 7, 2017

“So you wonder why I have spent the last ten years of my life behind this meat counter,” said Jack Gallup. “You think I ought to be doin’ something better, do you? Well, I’ll tell you. For one thing, I never would study in school and I dropped out at the end of the fifth grade; and another thing is, I have never been able to get any money ahead because I spent it on gasoline and liquor.

“I am not much over thirty, but I might have saved up enough money by now to start a small business of my own. I know the grocery business and I know the meat business from top to bottom. My uncle’s store has a good trade and I do all the buying for the meat counter and stand behind the counter to cut it and weigh it. Particular people come in here and it’s my business to please them.

“In the course of time, you know, a man can learn anything if he puts his mind on it. I could have learned something out of books when I was in school, but I wasn’t willin’ to put my mind on it. I was interested in marbles and baseball and in playing pranks on the other boys and in deviling the teachers. A good lawyer here in Tucony once told my mother I’d make a good lawyer if I’d only study, but I wouldn’t.

Ice box in grocery store in West Asheville, NC“What little I know I’ve learned right here in this store. In sellin’ meat I learned some arithmetic because I had to, and I’ve learned to speak fairly good English from educated people who came in here to trade. I’ve always kept my ears open, and that’s easier than studyin’ books and worth more; I never could see much in books.

“I remember at least one thing I heard a teacher say. It was somethin’ about paying too dear for your whistle. These people who get a book education have to pay too much for it. I may not be right but that’s my way of thinkin’. Anyhow I wasn’t willin’ to pay the price. It may be worth it to some people but not to me.

“Have I always lived in Tucony? Most of my life. I was born out in the country six miles from town on a farm my granddaddy bought when this was a wild country, and I had my fun fishin’ and huntin’ and trappin’. I went to school when I had to, and I worked in the cornfield when I had to, but my daddy had to lick me sometimes to make me do it. I reckon the way I lived out in the country is what makes me so strong and healthy.

“When my daddy moved into town so my sisters could go to high school, I got a job as an errand boy in a grocery store, and I don’t ever seem to be able to get away from groceries. When I was growin’ up I got several other small jobs, but I didn’t keep any of ‘em long. I got to runnin’ round nights with the boys and we used to drink and prowl about, and sometimes times we got into fights and landed in the cooler. It cost my daddy a lot of money to get me out of trouble, and it was at a time when he had mighty little money. I don’t know why it is but when I get liquor in me I want to fight. I’m just a plain fool.

“Finally my uncle took me into his grocery and put me behind the meat counter. I got drunk once in a great while and he always threatened to fire me but he never did. He’s a queer old duck, but he’s good-hearted. He hates to see money go out of his hands but he’ll give a bunch of ripening bananas to some of his kin to help feed the chillun. Some people would rather give things to strangers than to their kin. Not my uncle. He abuses everybody who works for him, but he is good to them in many ways. He’ll do anything for them except raise their wages; some of them have been with him a long time.

“He and his wife work hard – she with her butter-making and he behind his counter or an the road looking after his branch stores in neighboring towns. He drives his own automobile and he goes like the devil was after him. He says time’s money, and money is what he wants. Two or three times he has run his car off the mountainside and rolled over and over, but he’s so tough he was back at work in a day or so. He growls and says he’s nearly dead but he goes on. I once told him he wasn’t fit to die. I expected he’d beat me over the head with a stick, but he only laughed.”

Spencer Mull,
Brevard, N.C.
interviewed August 7, 1939 by A.W. Long
Folklore Project of the Federal Writers’ Project
for the U.S. Works Progress (later Work Projects) Administration (WPA)
online at https://www.loc.gov/item/wpalh001813/

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The Grand Canyon of the South

Posted by Dave Tabler | August 4, 2017

Breaks Interstate Park, located astride the SW Virginia/eastern Kentucky border along the Russell Fork of the Big Sandy River, is one of only two interstate parks in the nation. Perhaps the scale of the 5-mile-long, .25-mile-deep gorge that forms the park’s centerpiece cannot rival that of the Grand Canyon, but the 250 million year old “Grand Canyon of the South” IS the largest gorge east of the Mississippi.

Breaks Interstate ParkThe park takes its name from this gorge, which forms a “break” in Pine Mountain. Passes through these rugged mountains were called breaks by early settlers. Where the raging waters have carved the solid sandstone to break through Pine Mountain, nature has dressed the canyon walls in some of the region’s most spectacular scenery.

Daniel Boone is credited with discovering The Breaks in 1767 as he attempted to find ever-improved trails into Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley beyond. Both he and Simon Kenton explored here in the last quarter of the 18th century.

Because of elevation and moisture differences, the park contains various biospheres, ranging from oak/hickory climax forests on the drier ridge tops to a laurel/hemlock environment in the bottoms and along the creeks. This biodiversity results in an amazing display of spring wildflowers, including rare plants like yellow lady’s slipper and Catawba rhododendron.

The region was a hunting ground for Cherokee and Shawnee Indians. It is the home of Pow Wow Cave, used by the Shawnees.

The crown jewel of the park is the Towers, an imposing pyramid of rocks more than half a mile long and a third of a mile wide. The area around the Towers is said to contain the lost silver mine of Englishman John Swift. In the late 1700s Swift supposedly had one or more silver mines that were subsequently lost. He spent the last part of his life trying to relocate them. The lost mines are one of the great –and recurring- legends of southeastern Kentucky.

Public Law 275 created the park on August 14, 1953, and today, the 4,600-acre Breaks accommodates more than a third of a million visitors annually.

Sources: “Hiking Kentucky” by Brook Elliott (1998, Human Kinetics)

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