William Valentine Barry, owner and editor of the Lexington Progress (1884-1946), liked to visit places and usually went whenever someone offered to take him. Many of his trips produced good tales for his weekly column.
November 19, 1909
The Progress editor [W.V. Barry] spent last Friday in Decaturville and enjoyed some real pleasures in meeting friends that were made twenty-seven years ago. Mr. William Stout, now nearly 85 years old, has recently been ill, but was able to walk to town on that day. Mr. Stout located at Perryville at the age of 22 years and for 63 years has been a recognized and important factor in the affairs of Decatur County. Mr. Stout is a native of “Bonnie Scotland,” and as a gentleman of the old school, has always been a man of marked intellectuality.
“Grandpa” Nowell White was visited in his home with his daughter, Mrs. Henry Frayer. Esq. White, in spite of his more than 91 years, was able to walk some distance downtown a few days ago. Always frail in body, his mental strength is even now hardly impaired. He is a splendid example of the plain, simple, Christian gentleman. May he live out his century is the prayer and hope of many relatives and friends.
The Southern Methodists of Decaturville have completed a house of worship which would be a credit to any town or congregation.
Bricklaying has begun on the new College building and until the new home is completed, Principal John Hughes will “keep school” in the old Methodist church. In spite of difficulties the school is flourishing.
July 25, 1919
The Progress man and granddaughter, Mary Elizabeth Barry, on last Sunday morning were given the invitation by Mr. J. Walter Wright to accompany him and his son James on a trip to Saltillo, in Mr. Wright's new Overland car. The invitation was accepted but the start was not until after nine o'clock.
Sardis was passed just at the time the people were gathering for preaching and by the number of men, women and children seen on their way to the one or two houses of worship we are forced to believe that the Sardis people are a church going lot. A drink of cistern water was enjoyed at the home of Mr. Medlin, who occupies the former home of Mr. Wright.
Saltillo was reached before the dinner hour and Mr. Wright went to the home of his aunt, Mrs. Mattie Pitts, who has been ill for several weeks and to see her was the object of the Wright visit. The lady was found in a precarious condition of health, but perhaps somewhat improved, as she was able to be carried to the river bank when the St. Louis boat, the "Kentucky," made the landing in early afternoon, the first time she had been out of her home in eight or ten weeks. Just when the midday sun was sending down the most scorching beams, the "Kentucky" took on a lot of hogs and cotton billed to St. Louis.
We found our people, Mr. A.L. Hughes and family of five, all well, happy and prosperous. Mr. Hughes is a successful merchant, one of the best fellows in the world, and by the way, he is gradually accumulating large land holdings, having already over 600 acres on White Oak Creek. The Hughes dinner was fit for anybody and the Hughes welcome fully as desirable.
The start for home was made at close to four o'clock, but quite a stop was made at the Sardis cemetery and then in the town. In the cemetery we noticed the graves of our old friend Uncle David Little, who for many years ran the Home Nurseries at Sardis and supplied the people of Henderson and adjoining counties with fruit trees, grape vines and ornamental shrubbery. By his own request, Mr. Little's grave was dug North and South and a magnolia tree planted in the middle of the mound over it. We noticed in the cemetery some tombstones and monuments having on them cabinet size photographs of the deceased which pictures, we are told, were guaranteed absolutely to never fade.
While Mr. Wright was stopping to talk a while to his aunt, Mrs. Stanfill, we hunted a cold drink in the business section, which our friend Mr. J.G. Ricketts supplied without money and without price. We found as a visitor to Sardis, Mr. T. M. Hanna, our townsman who was up for the day visiting his former home at Sardis. He had found out somehow that the McLemoresville District Conference of the M.E. Church was to be held in the last weekend, and that the chicken crop in and about Sardis was abundant. The whole trip was made without a single mishap and Lexington reached at close to 8 o'clock, about 53 minutes after leaving Sardis. The trip was one of the things that could well bear repetition.
June 9, 1922
Last Sunday afternoon, in company with my good neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. J. F. Winslow and Mert Teague, I went out the Huntingdon road a few miles in the Winslow car, first reaching the home of Priest Pearson, who with his family we found had gone to the home of Mr. J.N. Sanders, the father of Mrs. Pearson, just beyond Timberlake. Driving on, I got out at the gate of my old friend, Sol. N. Bunch, while the remainder of the party went on to the home of Mr. Sanders.
Sol and I moved our chairs out under the big spreading oaks of the old E.J. Timberlake home, but before we sat down to a regular "gabfest," Sol showed me the garden, his watermelon prospect and told me various things concerning the Timberlake farm of 400 acres, now owned by Dick Timberlake, who, Sol says, is one of the best men in the world. Again seated in our chairs, we two "old birds" soon fell into reminiscent talk for Sol and I have throughout our lives been acquainted with the same people. First, he told me that my lamented uncle, Dr. William Barry, who lived at that time at the home near Centre Point, which afterward became the home of Sol, (the old Dr. McKenzie place) officiated at his birth. The home place of Sol was settled more than a hundred years ago and it is a remarkable fact that with the many people living there has never been but three dead people therein.
Sol referred to the "good old days" of when he was in business at Centre Point, and he recalled the "knights of the grip" he remembered as among the first of the system of "commercial travelers," among when he named "Ed" Barrow, who died a few years ago in Abilene, Texas, who traveled this territory for many years for the Louisville shoe house of L.L. Warren & Co. It was said that Mr. Barrow, when in the house in Louisville, could kick the top of a large wooden shoe box quicker than a man could take it off with a hammer and nail puller. Mr. Barrow's widow (who was Miss Flora Shull, of Purdy, McNairy County) now lives in Abilene, Texas, with her sons, Ed and Drew and two grandchildren, Marguerite, Drew Widsom, children of her son, Byrnes, who was accidentally killed at Dallas, Texas, several years ago. Mrs. Barrow was the best girl friend of my boyhood and I have always kept in touch with her--and the children named, of whom I have never seen, also write to me.
The next old drummer mentioned by Sol and well remembered by me was George W. Harris, who still lives and calls Trezevant his home, notwithstanding his life has been spent in following the not always "primrose path" of the traveling salesman. Every now and then we see some things in the public prints, bearing the name of Mr. Harris and always bearing on politics ("the science of government") for he has a hankering that way, although we knew of his offering for office but one time. In 1882 Mr. Harris was a candidate for the State Senate, his district including Decatur county, so when he sent me his announcement for the Senate and owed me $10 for its insertion in the Decatur County Beacon, I wrote him to buy for me a plain, gold ring, from C.P. Barnes, the Louisville jeweler, and have engraved therein "William to Mollie." The ring came, I gave it Miss Mollie Dennison, whom I married on the 13th of Jan. 1883, and a few years after we we moved to Lexington, in 1884, she had the misfortune to lose the ring in a flower bed at our present home on North Main Street. In the latter part of the winter or the early spring of 1913 that ring was found by Kirtley Blount (who with his mother, Mrs. Rozetta Blount, (now Mrs. J.W. Page) had spent the winter in my home. It had lain there undiscovered for at least 25 years.
The next man Sol recalled was I.J. (Dick) Turpin, the clothing drummer, who was one of the most courteous gentleman, whose life was a double tragedy, and who killed himself by jumping from the third story of a building in Cincinnati many years ago.
Then came John Dickerson, who may yet be living and was not so old in the business as the others mentioned.
I cannot close without enumerating Col. O.C. Barton of Paris, yet living, handsome, prosperous and happy, who was a well-known traveling man. Col. Barton is said to have acquired a considerable portion of this world's goods--and he has done and continues to do much good with it. Col. Barton is essentially independent, lines up on the moral side of all questions--and we can say that is a number of men, by far his inferior in every way who may have filled the office of governor of Tennessee.
My party came back and with reluctance I had to leave Sol and start for home, knowing that we had before us the pleasure of a short stop at the hospitable home of Priest Pearson and wife. The hour or more spent with Priest Pearson and wife. The hour or more spent with the Pearsons was enjoyed--for Priest much resembles his lamented father, the late John Pearson, who lived and died on the same spot and who made it a rule never to turn off a man who asked to stay a night under his roof and eat at his table.
With apologies to my younger readers and promising the older ones that I will write again when the mood strikes me, I bring this article to a close.--W.V. Barry
July 4, 1930
We accompanied our friend, Jones A. Austin, in his new six-cylinder Chevrolet on a trip out to the building of Highway No. 20, four or five miles east of town. We found the great steam shovel just beginning to dip into an enormous hill, the caterpillar trucks carrying and dumping the dirt and other machinery pushing the dirt into place, with a young "Tarheel" in charge as foreman, and after watching the modus operandi for a while we told him that we had no suggestion to make in regard to the work. Road building is the greatest project in Tennessee except for schools and the administration for the people. Coming back over the old road while the new road which is being graded, bridged, etc., the thought came to us that this old road should be maintained even after the completion of the new, for the benefit of the farmers living on it and to reduce the enormous traffic that is bound to go over No. 20. From a general standpoint, No. 20 will be the most important highway crossing Henderson County, but directly to Lexington and to the major point of the county, the road to Sardis and on to the Tennessee River will be the most important.
J.L.Hendrix of McKenzie, son of the late Ivey Hendrix of McNairy County, was here Thursday of last week en route to the home of his daughter, Mrs. Laura Plunk, near Jack's Creek. Another daughter, Mrs. Willie Neisler, of this county being on a visit to Missouri. Mr. Hendrix has a remarkable memory of people and events, remembers well the great drought of 1874 and made the statement that it was published in connection with that year that in three whole days there was not a cloud visible in the United States. He also remembers about the time that the wild turkeys migrated to the West and the disappearance of the bluebirds from this section--however, this occurred as late as the February cold snap of 1899.
March 27, 1931
I have never been able to get away from a trip to Jackson as an incident since the good old days when a trip to that city -- time to go, time to transact business and time to come back -- required three days and cost a minimum of about ten dollars, if one kept sober and cost the limit of all one had if one took a few drinks of Bob Teague's "spiritus frumenti" then tried to talk to Uncle Jim Moffitt, who was awfully deaf and ran a livery stable next door to Bob Teague's "grocery." In fact Teague's place was in the corner of the Moffitt livery building -- and then fell into the hands of old Peddy Burke, police, on the charge of disturbing the peace.
On a Tuesday morning a few weeks ago Mr. Ed Fesmire, one of our good deputy sheriffs, invited me to sail over highway 20 in his Frigidaire of undated model, and we accepted, not knowing that Ed is a cross between a salamander and an Eskimo, that he could face a ripping breeze from the North pole, barehanded, without a flicker, but fortunately, I wore two pairs of sox, heavy underclothes, a full winter overcoat with collar that submerged the hat brim, hence I pulled unfrozen, going, and it was not so bad coming back before the afternoon shades fell. Also in the Frigidaire, wide open and uncurtained, were that strapping young lawyer, Ernest Essary, junior, of whom I will say nothing, his winsome little bride, who was snugly packed between her husband and the writer, with only a breathing hole in her parka, and on the front seat with their father were Misses Ruby and Opal Fesmire, who are chips off the old block, and who could not turn down Eskimo husbands on the ground of their Winters being too cold. As I said before, the return trip was not so bad, but even at that there was no danger of being overcome by heat.
[Note: A year later Mr. Barry "passed up the opportunity to catch a ride" to Jackson with Deputy Fesmire. He, however, did not pass up the chance to tell his Progress readers about the trip.]
February 26, 1932
After that trip to Jackson in February 1931, in the "Frigidaire" of Deputy Sheriff Ed Fesmire, I tried to figure out just what Attorney E.W. Essary, junior, and the deputy sheriff had "agin" me, and failing to find anything more specific than the fact that I am a Democrat, all my suspicions were lulled to sleep until this week when the same parties again attempted to inveigle me into such a trap, in fact the same trip on a day so "airish" as last Saturday. They waited on me until near nine o'clock, when they decided I had been too smart for the trip, and drove off without me.
April 1, 1932
We are glad to note that our good friend, Deputy Sheriff Ed Fesmire, has gotten rid of his "Frigidaire" of ancient vintage rattling around with flapping curtains and has acquired for himself a real nice enclosed car. We not only congratulate Mr. Fesmire but hope to be able to make a few more trips with him with a good deal more comfort than the one we had in February 1931.
June 12, 1931
Thursday afternoon by courtesy of Messrs. Oscar White and E.W. Essary, Sr., I made a trip East on Highway No. 20 to a point near the old Decaturville and Lexington Road to the Johnson farm beyond the old J.N. G. Ferguson place. On the highway this side of Chesterfield we spun past many interesting and historical spots and old homesteads in the Dodge car of Mr. White. Among them was the old county home of the late Esq. James H. Fuller, former Chairman of the County Court and the maternal grandfather of Judge W.H. Denison. The former lands of E.W. Walker hold the homestead where Mrs. Barry first saw the light of day and still others, nearly all on the left side of the road going East, and on the right, opposite the Fuller place was the emergency landing field for United States air planes.
Turning to the left just as we struck Chesterfield on the left was the old home of that honest old patriot, Uncle Washington Walker--and by the way Uncle Washington was a loyal Union man while his brother, Levi, who died near Wildersville and left several children, was a violent "sessesh" yet we are told that even during the Civil War they were notably affectionate brothers.
Going on some mile or more we entered the 240 acres owned by E.W. Essary, Sr., of which he now has more than 100 acres in cultivation with 16 mules doing the work and is rapidly clearing the balance of it. All of it which is in the bottom seems to be alluvial soil, while that part on the small hills is excellent cotton land and much of it is already seeded to lespediza.
Adjoining this is the land of Mr. W.P. Essary, who has enough to make up a body of 400 acres or more between the two, this land having been acquired involuntarily by Mr. Essary, and while we did not have time to stop we were informed that Mr. Essary's condition was satisfactory that day and the night before, he having been quite seriously ill for several days.
The section passed through by our car, notably the Essary lands, can be classed among the best in Henderson County and Mr. Webster Essary who stopped his own work and accompanied our crowd to the Johnson place has the name of being one of the best workers in this section.
I thank Messrs. White and Essary for the ride, for there is nothing more enjoyable to me than to look over well cultivated farm lands at any stage of the crop.--W.V. Barry
October 23, 1931
My trips have become so far between and are so likely to become more so, but having been told by my readers of the Progress that they like to read about trips, I have decided to tell them this week about a trip I made to Nashville which lasted from Thursday at 1:00 p.m., until Saturday evening about 6:30.
I left home at the time stated in the comfortable automobile of one Ben Gaston, a resident citizen of Knoxville, a brother of Mesdames W.H. Denison and W.B. Summers, of Lexington and in addition to all that a prince of good fellows, a kind of good men. With Ben at the wheel, Miss Allene Allen in the middle, I on the other side of the front seat and little Mrs. Ida Mae Moss Pafford, who long ago sang herself into the hearts of Lexington, in the rumble seat with no fear in her heart except that we might have a smash of some kind and she would have no chance in the world to get out, we started off. Mr. Gaston gave us notice at the outset that all money in the crowd except his own was counterfeit and on that understanding we crossed the toll bridge at Perryville, had cold drinks at Columbia and rolled into the city of Nashville in time for me to be let out at the business place of my son, Curry, on North Second Avenue, a little before five o'clock.
My first night was spent in Curry's home at 1015 Sharpe Avenue, and Friday I tramped around so much that before mid- afternoon, I went to the home of my cousin, Mrs. J. Martin McClanahan, 3009 Baxter Ave. I became aware of the fact that I am going on 74 years of age, and hence discovered quite a difference in my ability to walk around.
Friday morning I called at the store of my good old friend, Mr. Harry J. Grimes, on the south side of the Public Square, where I have bought the best goods, carpets, rugs, linens, ready-to-wear clothing, etc., for the least money that I could lay my hands on. From the store Mr. Grimes telephoned his daughter to come in with the car and together we went out to his magnificent estate, "Woody Crest" on the Hillsboro Pike, some three or four miles from the city. It would take a more facile pen than mine to describe this beautiful estate of 30 acres on the well-wooded crest on which is built a real mansion with wide porches, lovely spacious rooms and notable furniture of teakwood which grows in China and is almost as rare as jade which comes alone from the Celestial republic. At this home of Mr. Grimes with its two stories servants' quarters, etc., there is a garden in the rear of two acres planted in flowers which are given to churches, hospitals and such like places. There it was my pleasure to meet Mrs. Grimes, whom I have met before, and the daughter, Miss Catherine, who with her husband, makes her home under the parental roof.
My old friend, Prof. Gus Dyer, was out of the city and I missed seeing him. My still better friend, J. Elwood Sparkman, formerly with J.S. Reeves & Co., in the wholesale dry goods business, was at his place in the city transfer station and I was glad to hear from him that he had missed the financial calamities which have befallen so many fine men but never a better one than Elwood Sparkman. Then just a few minutes with Bransford Stone with the Johnson-Bransford Realty Company, and I had a good talk with George Britt of the produce firm of Britt & Roberts, son of the late Wm. O. Britt, who was a merchant at Britt's Landing on the Tennessee River. A short talk with Mr. Dempsey Weaver, grand nephew of Uncle Tinsley Weaver, formerly of McNairy County, Post Master at Finger, 11 miles north of Purdy. And that about finished my visiting except the inspection of several houses being built by my cousin-in-law, J. Martin McClanahan, who quit the road two years ago and since that the time has built around 42 houses in the city of Nashville.
My time was up and I was so ready to come home that I paid my fare on the train rather than wait a few hours and come home with the boys who went up to see the ball game between Vanderbilt and Tulane Universities in which the Commodores went down by a score of 19 to 0.
If my readers will excuse the infliction of this recital on them, I can safely promise them that they will be in no future danger of a trip being taken by me and told them in these columns-unless I should happen to go to Jackson.--W.V. Barry
February 12, 1932
What I am going to hereafter count as a milestone marking the memory of pleasant things, is a trip made last Friday in company with Circuit Judge W.H. Denison, who was holding his regular court in the town of Henderson, the thriving and well-kept seat of government of the county of Chester, which county was formed in the year 1879, by taking slices or chunks from the counties of McNairy, Henderson, McNairy and Hardeman.
We reached Henderson at something after eight o'clock, the Judge going at once into the "temple of justice" and I headed for the drugstore of my old Purdy born and reared friend, Will Braden, and he unblushingly admitted that he was not far from that age mark beyond which men live only "by reason of strength" as remarked in the Book of Books. Will is a son of the late Bill Braden of Purdy, who married Maria, daughter of the late Judge Martin of Savannah, Tennessee, and his good wife, Annie, the younger daughter of the late Judge Jim and Mrs. Amanda Adams McKinney. Next I went to see Guy and Burl McKinney in the dry goods store. Guy has had the greatest of all personal misfortunes, the loss of his wife, but "Old Burl" is happy in a beautiful home on Crook Avenue, a charming little daughter and a lovely [new] wife, who is the daughter of the B.P.O. (Best People on Earth), John D. L. and Mrs. Cornelia Ingram Whitaker of Memphis. In the afternoon I called at the homes of Will Braden and Burl McKinney, and at the former place I was proud to learn that Emmett Wade, son of Will and Annie Braden, bids fair to make his mark in the practice of law, having been admitted as junior partner in the prominent Memphis law firm of which the Honorable W.D. Kizer, who died very suddenly, was a member. These old friends of ours are prominent factors in the business life of Henderson.
The first call of the afternoon was made at the home of Mrs. Barry's esteemed uncle, Mr. William Bray, who moved from Henderson County to the town of Henderson more than 50 years ago, was for many years a merchant and postmaster and with his first wife, Harriet, daughter of the late Esq. James H. Fuller of Henderson County, reared a large family of boys who have scattered over several states and made good business men. The present wife is one of the most lovable women and has made Uncle William a helpmete indeed. Mr. Bray is in his 90th year and is yet wide awake. My visit to them in their cozy home on Crook Avenue was fully worth the entire trip. At large I met those distinguished gentlemen: Willoughby Stewart, Millard F. Ozier, retired lawyer and Eli Reed, minister of the Primitive Baptist Church, former member of the Legislature, former several other things and at present writing a history of Chester County. Willoughby Stewart made the remark that if I had given Eli Reed and Millard Ozier any sort of chance I have no need of listen in on the radio shows of Lowell Thomas for several days. I turned down all noon dinner invitations and sandwiched with a cup of G. Washington coffee at the drugstore of Worth Powers. Worth was gone to Reagan, but his brother, Dr. John Powers of Jackson happened to be in and informed me that he was about to begin the general practice of medicine in Jackson. I met some of the county officials, Ernest Smith, register, S.C. Malone, trustee, but failed to find my friend, John Galbraith, the Clerk & Master, in his office.
Henderson is a nice town, the business section well paved and the principal business houses conveniently located on both sides of the main street, while the courthouse, convenient enough, is out of the way. The residential streets and premises seem to be well kept, with few if any eyesores mar the landscape.
I called at the railroad station to call on Mr. A.W. Polsgrove who gave me a cordial invitation to dinner and then I met Dr. W.O. Baird, who seems to be about the "First Citizen" of the town, who lives in the house in which he was born, and who is said to be withal a dandy good citizen and excellent physician.
I enjoyed the day to the fullest and thanks to Judge Denison and all who made it so for me.--W.V. Barry
June 9, 1933
Thanks to that most accommodating gentleman, Judge W.H. Denison, I had a ride to Jackson and back Thursday of last week, and I can further remark that but few persons who own automobiles, have given as many 'lifts' as has the Circuit Judge, whose disposition is to accommodate when he is able to do so, and Miss Arba Edna Kent is another who has been so situated that she could do so, and took real pleasure in giving auto rides to friends and acquaintances who do not own a motor vehicle of their own. There are others who may be accommodating until they acquire an automobile and then become the quintessence of human selfishness. All of which I had no idea of saying anything except to thank Cousin Watt for the lift, but I have said it and who dares dispute the statement?
The day spent in Jackson was a pleasant one and I could write a column on the people I met and the things said, but I have waited so long that I can only mention the outstanding incident of the day, a visit and midday dinner in the cozy home of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Pinkston, 167 Arlington. Harry Pinkston of the Jackson drug firm of Pinkston & Scruggs is a former Lexington boy and when I came to Lexington in 1884, his father and mother lived here, the old Pinkston home being the site of the present homes of Dr. W.F. Huntsman and W.S. Odle on what was then Purdy Street. The elder child of the Pinkston family was Minnie, and Minnie, twice a widow, is now Mrs. Minnie Moore Demonbreun, for many years a teacher at Holly Springs, Mississippi, was the principal magnet which drew me to the home of Harry that day.
September 18, 1936
I am writing this on Thursday the day that Mrs. Barry and I expect to go to Nashville to visit one of our boys, Curry and family, which we have been trying to do for a year, and I am telling the boys in the courthouse that I am going away for a few days just to show them how easily Lexington can get along without me, to which each and everyone of them gives a reply that is pleasant to my ears and heart. But it is not all a joke, for I, like all other men shall be "Only remembered by what I have done"-good or the reverse. No man without charity in his heart and actions need "kid" himself into the belief that his funeral service and newspaper obituary will last unless he deserves the statements made therein. So, with this, it is not goodbye, but au revoir until we come back Monday, if present intentions are carried out.
When I left the old home Thursday afternoon in company with Mrs. Barry to pay a long-promised visit to our son, Curry, in Nashville, I felt that I was just one of the proletariat, one of the common herd, but after sweltering some time in the waiting room at the depot and then going coatless, into the air-conditioned chair car, soon had to don my coat and began to feel that I might be a Liberty Leaguer on my way to one of those "Feasts of Belshazar," in company with Al Smith, the Du Ponts, William Randolph Hearst, John Rascob, et al. That feeling passed when my wife and I spread our quite Plebeian lunch on our laps--in fact on a linen cloth furnished by Major Thurman, the alert colored porter into whose care son Henry had consigned us when he helped us into the car-and right well did Major observe that trust, which reminds me of the fact that the most efficient ones of these colored porters on railroads and in hotels principally possess a wonderful personality which is too pleasing to be regarded as servility-and this Major is one of the best I have run across. I became so stuck on this air-conditioned, evenly cooled clean aid to commercial travel that only the want of 50 cents would prevent me from taking it every trip to Memphis or Nashville on our N.C. Railroad.
On the going trip I met two gentlemen I will remember: a Mr. Swann, a Department of Justice man, who happened to know and have had business with our Attorney Elmer Stewart, and Mr. Dee Thompson of Nashville, a sales manager for the truck department of the General Motors Company, a friend of my son, Curry, who met us at the Union Station when the train reached Nashville about 9:30 and carried us to his home at 1,000 Fairmont Ave., about three miles out the Gallatin pike.
Most of our time was spent at Curry's home, but on Sunday morning we made a run of 7 miles across the city to call on my old friend, Mr. Harry J. Grimes, in whose store on the South side of the Public Square of Nashville I have bought some goods, the best goods and the cheapest I have ever purchased in any house-dry goods, linens a specialty, ladies ready to wear and carpeting of every description, and after 30 to 35 years, some of the carpeting, in good condition, is still on a floor in my home.
I got some valuable Barry family history from Ewing Clouse, a comparatively young Nashville lawyer. He made an auto trip north through Montgomery County, Tennessee, into Christian County, Kentucky, where in an old field in a seemingly Godforsaken section of country, he saw the burial place of my grandfather, Daniel Barry, his wife Rosanna, and a man named Johnson whose wife was a Barry. Ewing took pictures of the place and promised me one of them and an account of the trip. The marble box over the Barry grave was made by a man in Clarksville, where a grandson or great grandson is still in the marble yard business. Ewing Clouse is a young man whom I was glad to meet and proud to claim as kinsman.
Back home Monday afternoon in the same air-conditioned car and with the same obliging Porter, we had enjoyed the trip, but still were glad to get back to the ramshackle house on the hill where we have lived fifty-two years, back to the town which is the best in the world to us.
July 16, 1937
Last Friday was my first visit to what is generally called 'The Area," but more properly named "Natchez Trace Park," because of its comparative nearness to that road from North to South, made by Indians and pioneer white settlers-and I am told that there is another trail known as "Notchie (Glover?) Trace," a trail that led into the more important one.
While my vision is very limited I could see enough of this great project, this area of about 42,000 acres in our section. With its comfortable administration building, its splendid lodge, beautiful lake, and another in the making, numerous cabins, cafeteria under construction, community house, caretakers' homes and many other attractions, the park should give our people a thrill of pride that our county was so favored by the Federal government and think of it. The county is better off by losing that almost God-forsaken section as well as in gaining the park which will be a national attraction. If you have a chance to visit the Natchez Trace Forest Park, don't miss it.
I had many thoughts in regard to the reclamation of that heretofore God-forsaken corner of Henderson County, and I quit wondering why the people who lived there had such a hard time paying their taxes-but I still wonder what would have become of the people who have found work there had not the Federal Government taken it over. The sum of $21.00 per month paid laborers, is pitifully small, but better than than was earned when the same men, to a great extent, tried to farm the lands. Neither on what the men formerly made, nor the $21 per month they make now, did they have any money to spend for liquor.
April 11, 1941
By the unfailing courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Dennison, more affectionately known as "Stan and Hat," Mrs. Barry and I enjoyed a trip to Decaturville last Sunday afternoon, returning via Perryville. I spent part of my time at the home of Mrs. Hettie Miller, who was the wife of my brother, Dr. Henry Barry, who died in Decaturville. Hettie had gathered at her home quite a group of relatives among who was her granddaughter, Mrs. Iris King, and two children, the younger a baby boy of nine months who took to me as if we had long been friends.
At one place on the road in Decatur County we passed what is called a honky-tonk, or bootlegging joint, where there were seven cars parked, said to be patrons who had failed to lay in a supply of spiritus frumenti customer on Saturday, and of course, could not do without it until Monday.
Now note the difference: Patrons of bootlegging joints can lie around the supply house reasonably drunk , while the legal liquor store must buy his bottle and get out, all of which makes me still believe that legal liquor is preferable to bootlegging, and I am told that bootlegging prices are much higher, especially on Sunday, notwithstanding the legal prices are too high for any man "with one eye and half sense" to pay.
When we reached Lexington on the return, Mr. Dennison offered to drive out Broad Street and let Mrs. Barry see the many beautiful new homes. Beginning at the new station on the old Dr. Warren corner, next the W.W. Hay hotel [check] and on out quite a distance the total of handsome homes far surpassing that on any other street or section. Out this same way there are many more unused lots upon which homes can be built and even now it is a real treat to see the handsome, convenient and modern homes which have taken the place of the old time all wood structures.
February 26, 1943
Come April 10th, the Lexington Progress will have been in existence 59 years, and during that entire time never, until this February had there failed to be some sort of notice of the February term of the Circuit Court--but there were ample reasons, in the fact that one man had the entire work to do. Mr. Felix Creasy, of the force being confined to his bed, and still unable to to be up. If you happen to know anything about it, you can see that the burden was too great for one man to carry, and we hope that the omission will be kindly overlooked by all, his Honor Judge Frank L. Johnson, Attorney General David P. Murray, Sheriff Hal Johnson, and the Clerk Andrew Todd, and the members of both the grand and trial juries.
I have in mind a memorable trip, when conditions were very different from those of the present -- a wagon load of us, all white but one, that being Lewis Melton, with two fiddlers, two guitarists, and a violin-cellist. We went to Decaturville, via Middleburg, there spent the night in the Dennison Hotel, and back home the next cold day, via Scotts Hill, where a night was spent in the Riley Kelley house of entertainment. On the next day to Lexington, with a stop for a delectable dinner at the home of Tillman Jones, father of John A. Jones, who may be expected to read this, and who, by the way, was one of the party. The only important stop on the going trip, was at Middleburg, where somebody dispensed that fluid known as "liquid damnation, a thief which put down one's throat, steals away his brains," alias, just plain, mean, rot-gut whiskey. Right here let me tell you that I was going to the domicile of my father-in-law, was on the "water wagon," and held to it all the way through, except when old man Riley Kelley, at Scotts Hill, concocted what he called eggnog, from some stuff found in a jug, lying on its side in our wagon, Ben Jacobs, one of our fiddlers, having put his foot on the jug when it turned over, leaving something like a third of the contents in the jug, which jug was sitting on the corner of a fence, and which somebody carried in by the back way. Mr. Kelley used in the manner stated. It was said to be a custom of Mr. Kelley to propound to his patrons this interrogatory: "Do you take anything before eating?" And they generally did.
I'm about to get a head of the hounds, but while I am in the home of old man Riley Kelley, and to his good wife, I will state again, that with my own eyes, I saw Jim, the tack-eating dog of Ben Jacobs, lap up some tacks poured out for him on the hearth, in preference to a plate of ham with red gravy, a fried egg, and good biscuits, which Mrs. Kelley had prepared for him. The tacks were put there because Ben had told a fellow that he would show him that it was no joke about the dog eating tacks.
The Kelley House at Scotts Hill was just a little old home, but for the best of things to eat, cooked as not many could cook, it was known far and wide--and now back to Decaturville.
We got out of our wagon at the Dennison Hotel, and soon the fiddling began, with our two violinists, Ben Jacobs and George Priddy. I stayed with the party until late bedtime, when the last sound coming to my ears was George Priddy playing, "Down in the Diving Bell." When I awoke at the crack of dawn, George was still playing that same tune. Whether or not he had played it all night, I cannot testify. They did tell me that playing a fiddle all night was a feat that Mr. Priddy could perform.
Well, it was a great occasion, and nobody enjoyed it more than did my father-in-law, the late C.P, Dennison, who was affectionately known to the many drummers who patronized his hostelry as "Gig-handle."
One more stop and we were back home. This was at the home of Tillman Jones, just a few miles Southeast of Lexington, where there was spread a feast which would have put to shame an expensive banquet of today, when the pan full of fine meat and barbecues has been succeeded by a sandwich, the price of which has gone up and the quality has gone down.