WNC History Timeline

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www.childers-shepherd.org, 29 Dec 2008
                                            Leaving Home

Well, now we go back to where the old house on Couches Creek, the John Smith place. The last
thing I done there – stayed a little while after that – I planned a plan to go to Little River, Tennessee,
to work on a loggin’ job. Git me a job. I must have been thirteen years old, twelve, or something,
fourteen, maybe. Now I planned it. That old shotgun I had, that old long one, didn’ have no
cartridges for it, no money. But I took that old gun with me.

I went out the back window while they was eatin’ breakfast. I eat a little bite, and I slipped out. I raised
that window, I went out the back window and up that hill, across to old ‘Luftee. All the way they
knowed where I was – Ma raised the devil with Pa, sent him out. He went up the river, he did, and
found Reagan’s store – I’d stopped there to get some cartridges. An’ they told him where I’d went.
He quit right there. He don’t want to go no further. I went on across the mountain. I met Walter
Watson on top of the mountain. The’ ‘as an old cabin, a cabin built strong and stout to keep the
bears out when people wanted to come through there and stop. I met him there, and I eat dinner
there, what little bite I had. I managed to get a little bit in my pocket before I left. Now I asked him
about that place. He’d been over there, tryin’ to get a job. He said, “Hell, that’s a rough place. I don’t
think you’ll stay there.”

That was the plan. I didn’t want them to know where I ‘as gone. That was a secret plan, I worried,
see. I planned it all; nobody didn’t help me. I didn’ want nobody to know, Ma, no growlin . . . or
nothin’ about it. I just got gone. I wanted some clothes, some money. I was gittin’ big enough to want
somethin’. They would ‘a’ raised cane. I wouldn’ fool with it. I went on out. I’m glad I went to Little
River, Tennessee. I saw something that I’ll never see anymore natural. I saw it. You see the pictures
every once in a while. I got there, and they – them men – they was men too like I saw in the first of
my life. They [wudn] no jokers. They talked to me and . . . “Well, you stay around here ‘til in the
morning and, we’ll . . . don’t know what we’ll do – you’re pretty small, pretty young, ain’t y’? That’s a
rough place up in them mountains there. We skin them logs and start’em boy and they go!”

And I studied a little bit. I looked at the white shirts the men had on, and I seen little black spots on
them shirts – all over ‘em. I said, “What is that? What kind of bugs is that?” He says, “That’s body
lice.” He says, “we used to that. I’ve got one here in my watch; I’ve had it in there about twelve or
fifteen years.” Well, I studied a little bit. He says “You stay here tonight now; you don’t start back
across that mountain. I know what that is. A bear’ll eat you up.” Well, I stayed there. He give me a
bed. The next morning, boy, I had it fixed up again to leave there . . . nobody asked me nothin’.
Yeah, I got my old gun. I said goodbye.

But I seen them big horses. Twelve span of ‘em now. Twenty-four horses. Them big’ns. That’s the
prettiest sight that I’ve ever saw since that time. They had them horses fixed, everything on ‘em ‘t ‘d
shine, ring, bells, tassles, ever’thing ‘t could be possible to put on a horse, to make him look. Brass
shinin’. I seen ‘em comin’ up the road, heard the bells, and heard the roar of their feet on the
ground. It shook the ground, the’s so big. Their feet ‘as that big. Big white-spotted ‘n’s. All of ‘em
nearly. An’ the’ was one man drivin’ all of ‘em. He had reins . . . . How they done that . . . I asked the
man. I say “How’d they do that?” “Well, he said, “the lead horse runs the rest of them. They have
one trained. The lead horse knows what to do when they pull that line.

They was right at the loggin’ camp. The horses come in with about a dozen big logs behind them.
Big logs . . . gosh, they was eight foot through, I guess. And the trains come in there to git them logs.
They used the horses to pull the logs out of rough places. Bring ‘em in to the . . . They had loaders
to load them logs with.

[The teamster] He rode the logs, most of the time. Big cork boots on . . . he hit that log, they stuck.
He’s trained to it. Ever’time they turned, he turned. [Wudn] slide off. Right on up, stopped. That was
the last I remember. What he done with the horses, I don’t know. I ‘as done in the house, doin’
something, gittin’ ready to go to bed, I think. It was pretty late when they come in. But I never will
forget that pretty sight. Always wished I had a camera then, but no camera.