Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Mountain Way -- 'Putting-Up' Foodstuffs for Winter Use

With the economy in a downslide and the future uncertain, conditions may behoove us to go back to some old mountain ways of insuring our family’s welfare in the long, cold months of late fall and winter.

We call it “putting-up,” the processes we used to preserve food for future use. There were many of them used by frugal mountain folk, industrious people “to the Nth degree”, as we say here, to save what we grew and gathered by the sweat of our brow to grace our tables in winter’s cold. Drying, pickling, barreling, canning and mounding-up were a few processes that come to mind.

Drying included stringing green beans twice. First, “stringing” them to remove just that, the strings from white half-runners, our favorite variety to grow in the mountains. Then came stringing the unbroken beans by pushing a threaded needle through the middle of each until a goodly string was saved. Next came the drying process—hanging the “strung” beans from a nail in a safe, clean, out-of the way place or over a rafter in the attic to await winter’s need for them. The end product of this process had an interesting name, “Leather Britches.” When the housewife-cook was ready to prepare a “mess” of them, she washed them thoroughly, soaked them until the dryness gave way to plumpness as the beans hydrated again, and then cooked them slowly (in an iron pot) with a piece of “fat-back” pork meat.

Drying included many mountain products, among which were October beans (somewhat like present-day Pinto beans), peas of various sorts—the early spring sweet peas to make split-pea soup, several varieties of “field” peas, as black-eyed peas, Crowder peas, and purple-hull peas. These were shelled, dried in the sun, and put into bags to await winter meals. On my Daddy’s farm, we grew a lot of peas, and the dried peas were “beaten out” on a tarpaulin on the ground, and when the peas were thus out of the hull, they were put into a bucket, and held up and “winnowed” to blow the husks out. Then the beautiful dry peas were ready to store, labeled by kind, for winter use. Sometimes we sold a few bushels of the winnowed peas, what we would not need. The extra money for a few bushels of peas always helped out in our shortfall of cash.

Drying fruits was another skill. We used scaffolds on which we dried fruits—apples and peaches cut into slices, and dried carefully in the sun for several days with a screen-wire covering over the scaffold to prevent insects from harming the fruit. The scaffolded fruit was always brought inside at night to prevent its getting wet with dew.

One of the most delectable desserts imaginable was dried-fruit (apple) cake, with the layers stacked several high and a mixture of cooked dried apples with sugar and cinnamon added, spread on each thin cake layer for icing.

Pumpkin was dried, too, much like green beans, by stringing strips on a thread and hanging this cache to dry. The country cook knew how to turn dried pumpkin into pumpkin pies or how to add just the right amount of dried pumpkin to winter soups with potatoes, onions, carrots and stew meat, to make the soup delicious. The drying process guaranteed winter use of pumpkin, for this product, unless properly preserved, would not last through the winter. It had a short “shelf life” in the pumpkin shell.

Pickling was another process altogether. We pickeled beans, corn, cabbage and cucumbers, to name a few vegetables thus preserved. For these “putting-up” processes, we had to have crocks, or ceramic churns, in which to layer, process and then store the prepared vegetables.
Beans and corn were cooked (separately) until done. Then they were placed in churns with salt between each layer and set aside until “pickled.” The pickled product was then washed, and in more recent years, canned. But a long time ago, the products were washed off and returned to the crock pots, covered with clear water, to lessen the saline taste. The cabbage were chopped, and place raw, in layers of salt, in the pickling churn. The housewife knew, by daily examination, just when the process of pickling the kraut was finished, and washed the cabbage thoroughly and either returned it to the pottery jar with fresh water to await winter’s need, or else canned it. Cucumbers were helped along in the pickling process with a seasoning of dill herb and salt in much the same manner as the cabbage from which kraut was made.

Barrels of fresh apples were preserved by wrapping each in a piece of newspaper and storing in what we called “the apple barrel’—a wooden barrel made from upright wooden staves and secured by iron bands. Likewise, green tomatoes were wrapped in newspaper and stored in the “tomato” barrel. We usually had these stored apples and tomatoes to feast on through Thanksgiving and maybe until Christmas or after.

It was a happy day for the mountain housewife when Mason jars became available. At first they had a tint of green, but when food was placed in jars and sealed, and cooked a long time in a water bath (pressure cookers were a twentieth-century invention), the food the jars contained was a welcome addition to the winter menu. As a point of pride, each housewife who set her jars in neat rows, arranged by category of food along her cellar shelves, had a virtual showcase of accomplishment. One of the country ways and pastimes was to visit from farmhouse to farmhouse and see each lady’s handiwork in the cellar, her assurance against winter hunger.

Mounding for food preservation purposes was mainly the task of the man of the house. He prepared an outside place for the vegetables that could be “buried” for the winter. Potatoes, both Irish and sweet, turnips, carrots and cabbage were “mounded” up, covered in straw, and then with dirt and a plank roof overhead to protect them from freezing in the winter temperatures. When a “mess” was needed, he went to the appropriate mound to retrieve vegetables for his household.

All of these methods of preserving the harvest from the farm have not included sorghum-making, that fall festival of sweetness from sorghum cane, which, at the Dyer farm was a September and October activity for the whole community. My father, Jewel Marion Dyer, was the “syrup-maker” for a broad area. The syrup, when made, was stored in tin buckets of half- and gallon-size. This product was our main money crop to pay taxes and get fall and winter clothes and shoes. It was also our “sweetener” when sugar was scarce, and could be used to sweeten the best gingerbread imaginable and various other desserts, as well as being eaten as a food itself with farm-fresh butter and hot biscuits on a cold winter morning. And have you ever tried sorghum syrup over kraut? If not, you might like to taste this evening meal dish with pork sausage.

Both ingenuity and necessity led our forebears to find various means of preserving and providing food for their families in days gone by. Maybe we need to relearn these lessons for this twenty-first century.

c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Aug. 27, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Eight Crow Family Households in Union Listed in 1834 Census

Examining the 1834 Union County census for early settlers, I discovered eight families with the surname Crow. These were, as listed from the census, with numbers following the names indicative of count of males (first) and count of females (second) recorded in each family when the census was finished on March 24, 1834.
William L. Crow 3 – 4
John L. Crow 3 – 4
Isaac (?) Crow 2 – 2
Peter Crow 2 – 1
James Crow 4 – 4
John Crow 4 – 4
William Crow 2 – 3
Thomas Crow 3 – 4
The total count of Crow residents in 1834 numbered 23 males and 26 females. Out of a population of 903 registered in the census, these 49 people with the same family surname definitely represented a goodly proportion of the citizenship of the county.

With my curiosity thoroughly whetted, I went next to the Marriage Records of Union County, Georgia, 1833-1897, a very handy printed reference book that serves me well when I need to look up information. Thinking I would find many marriages of Crow citizens, I was disappointed to find only these registered listings:

Crow, Clarinda S. to Alfred Nicholson on May 26, 1872 by Charles Crumbley, MG.
Crow, Millisa to Jeremiah Kittle on Dec. 23, 1841 by J. M. Rogers, JP.
Crow, Thomas to Elizabeth Logan on Sept. 23, 1837 by John Martin, JIC.

(Note: For those wondering about the abbreviations following the marriage officers’ names, MG is Minister of the Gospel; JP is Justice of the Peace; and JIC is Justice of the Inferior Court.) To have three marriages registered from Crow family members over a period of sixty-four years of county records, especially with the forty-nine Crows living in the county in 1834, seemed a bit strange to me. Did they not register marriages?

Then I thought, perhaps some of the Crow families were Indians, since all the exodus of Native Americans had not occurred when the first census was taken. Crow sounded a bit like an Indian name, such as Chief Crow, perhaps.

My next tool was the excellent book, Cemeteries of Union County, Georgia (c1990). I searched for Crow entries in the book and the cemeteries where interred. Again, I found only three entries of marked graves of Crow family members in comparison to the number who were registered in the 1834 census. Another question was raised by what I discovered in the cemetery book listing. Here is what I found:

Crow, E. A. - b. 1835, died 1841, Choestoe 1 Cemetery
Crow, Francis M., - no birth date, died August 20, 1841, Choestoe 1 Cemetery
*Crow Indian Children, no birth or death dates, buried Indian 1 Cemetery.
I proceeded to look up the Indian Graves section in the book and read this explanation: “Two graves about 100 yards above the Roy Townsend residence in Coosa District are said to be those of Indian children. The Indian family name was Crow. This story has been handed down from older generations from the Pre-Civil War years.” (p. 249).

This Indian Cemetery, only if containing two graves and those of children, seemed to support somewhat my theory that some of the Crow families listed in the 1834 census might, therefore, have been Native Americans—Cherokee Indians.

That took me on a search for Crow as an Indian name. I found another surprising fact. Crows are a western states Indian group. Crow is a tribal name, a break-off from the Sioux Indians’ Hidatsa Group native to the Missouri River region of America. When the Crow broke from the Sioux, the Crow tribe went westward mainly to the Rocky Mountains area of Colorado. So if any Indian families had the name Crow in Union County, Georgia they were likely given the name due to their raven hair or characteristics considered appropriate to a crow.

Looking up the origin of the surname Crow and Crowe, I discovered that it is Anglo-Saxon in origin, an anthromorphic name, with characteristics resembling a crow, having to do more with character traits than appearance, although the early Crow families may have had very black hair. As early as 1100, Crow families lived in Norfolk and Suffolk in East England. Ailwin Crowe in 1180 was on the “Pipe Rolls of Warwickshire” England. He lived from 1154-1189, and was known as a “Builder of churches.” The first Crow I found migrating to the Southern colonies was Adam Crow, age 19, who sailed from London on the ship “Thomas” and landed in Virginia in 1635. Adam was followed the next year, 1636, by Henry Crow who also settled in Virginia. Adam and Henry were probably the progenitors of the Southern Crow families that migrated to North and South Carolina and into North Georgia. Others listed in the northern colonies were William Crow who arrived in Plymouth Colony in the early 1620s and John Crow in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1630.

One of the Crow men in early Union County served as a public officer. The first county officers were installed on March 20, 1833 when the county was a little more than three months old (founded Dec. 3, 1832). These were, according to the marker on the old courthouse square: James Crow – Sheriff; Arthur Gilbert – Clerk of Superior Court; Joseph Jackson – Clerk of Inferior Court; James Gaddis, Sr. – Coroner; and Joseph Chaffin – Surveyor. John Thomas was the representative to the Georgia Legislature and had been the one to suggest Union as the name for the new county, stating, “There are none but Union men there.”

c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Aug. 20, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Another Turner Family in Union by 1850

Bailis Earle Turner

Last week we traced an early settler in Union County, Jarrett Turner (1806-1857) and his wife Sarah Collins Turner, who were residents of Union County when the first census was taken in 1834.

Today, we look at another Turner family who migrated to and settled in Union County a bit later than Jarrett Turner. The name of this early citizen was Bailis Earle Turner (1805-1899) who lived on Dooly Creek. When a portion of Union County was taken to form Fannin County in 1854, Bailis and his family were residents of the new county without having moved at all.

Were Jarrett and Bailis Turner related? Brothers, maybe? Or cousins? This writer does not know for sure. Both Jarrett and Bailis were born in South Carolina. Jarrett was the son of Micajah Turner, but in the genealogical records available so far concerning Bailis, they indicate that his father’s first name is unknown. However, we have found that Bailis’s grandfather was Captain George Turner (1738-1804) who was a Revolutionary War leader.

Bailis Turner claimed “Black Dutch” ancestry, stating that he descended from Protestant Germans who lived in the Black Forest area and migrated to America to escape religious persecution.

Bailis Turner was born in the Broad River section of northern Spartanburg County, SC. From Spartanburg, this family of Turners moved next to near the line of Buncombe County, North Carolina.

There Bailis met and married his first wife, Elizabeth (“Betsy”) Darnell, daughter of Daniel and Sarah Darnell. When the 1850 Union County, Georgia census was taken, Bailis was 44, his wife Elizabeth was 41, and they had children Avaline, 19, William, 17, Jesse, 14, and Leander, 11, all born in North Carolina. The last four listed were born in Georgia: Delila, 8, Murray, 5, Bailis, 3, and a baby, age 1 (also listed as Avaline—which raises the question: Did they name two daughters Avaline?). Betsy Turner died in 1851. Bailis married, second, his wife’s sister, Eleanor, called “Nellie.” Altogether, Bailis was the father of thirteen children.

In 1854, when a new county was formed, Bailis and his family were within the confines of Fannin County. The War Between the States saw this Turner family with divided loyalties. Son Jessie joined the Confederacy and lost his life in Atlanta in 1863. Miles and Murray went to Tennessee and enlisted in the US Army. Leander Marion Turner (Nov. 20, 1838-November 28, 1911) first enlisted in the Confederate Army. He deserted, and having changed his loyalty, went to Tennessee to join his brothers Miles and Murray and enlisted in the U. S. Army. William, born about 1833, was in the Southern army, loyal to the Confederacy.

When Murray, Miles and Leander were home on leave from the Union Army, they were out picking blackberries on their father’s farm. A roving band of raiders known as the Home Guard and led by Harrison Martin overtook them. Miles and Leander ran from the raiders and escaped. But Murray, hard of hearing, did not hear the approach of the ruffians. He was captured, killed, and his boots taken. Miles was later overtaken and captured. His friend in the Home Guard begged for mercy for Miles, and they let him go.

When the war was over, Miles Turner married, first, Amy Jane Patterson on January 9, 1868 in Fannin County, Georgia. The oldest marked grave in the Oak Grove Baptist Church Cemetery between Union and Fannin Counties is that of Amy Jane Turner (Feb. 10, 1855-March 17, 1896). Miles Turner married, second, on November 28, 1897 to Missouri Abercrombie (Nov. 4, 1865-Sept. 3, 1943). Miles was born November 22, 1846 and died May 8, 1937. He received a military pension for his service in the War Between the States. The 1910 census of Fannin County lists the children still at home with Miles and Missouri Turner as May, 20; Casey, 17; Homer, 11; Howard, 8; Hurman, 6, Hattie, 4, and baby Willie, newly born.

A younger son of Bailis and Nellie Turner was named Lewis (Nov. 12, 1852-Aug. 12, 1949). He was only twelve when a group of raiders went to the Turner house demanding to know where clothing and food were hidden. Others in the family had fled and young Lewis was left to confront and answer the raiders. He told them he would never reveal the hiding place of his family’s goods. The raiders tied a rope around Lewis Turner’s neck and strung him up to a joist on the porch of the Turner home. They let him down, thinking the punishment would force him to tell. The brave boy was adamant in not telling. He was strung up a second time, and the raiders left the boy hanging. As soon as the raiders were gone, his mother and sisters came out of hiding and gently lowered the boy and revived him. “Uncle Buddy” Turner as he was known in his later years often told the story of how he was hung twice in the same day and survived to tell the story.

This same Lewis Turner, “Uncle Buddy” got a permit and opened the Lewner Post Office in Union County near the Fannin County line. He named the mail site Lewner, using the first syllable of his first name and the last syllable of his last name. It opened April 21, 1908 and operated through February 15, 1955. He was buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery.

The ancestors of Bailis Turner endured the rigors of the Black Forest in Germany and persecution that led them to come to America to seek freedom. His grandfather, Captain George Turner, fought bravely to win America’s independence from Great Britain. Bailis Turner and his family endured the black times of the Civil War as they farmed and tried to keep a divided loyalties family together. Throughout Union, Fannin and beyond are descendants of this family who have distinguished themselves in many walks of life by exemplifying characteristics of determination and courage.

c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Aug. 13, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Jarrett Turner Family in Union By 1834

Examining the first census of Union County, Georgia is a source of fascination. The census was completed on March 24, 1834. At that time Union County was geographically larger than now, containing land that became Fannin County in 1854 and Towns County in 1856. The total population of the two-year old county of Union was 903 in 1834. Listed as a head of household was Jarrett Turner with two males and three females in the family.

Moving to the brand new Union County had some enticement for this young couple. Jarrett Turner and his wife Sarah Collins Turner moved along from Habersham County with her parents Thompson and Celia Self Collins. The children Jarrett and Sarah had in their family in 1834 were daughter Celia, born in 1831, named for her Grandmother Collins; Nancy, born in 1832; and son Francis, a baby, born in 1834. The couple had married in Habersham County, Georgia July 19, 1830.

Turner is an English or Scottish occupational name meaning "the maker of objects of wood, metal, or bone" by turning a lathe to shape them. Jarrett Turner had lived in District Ninety Six in South Carolina before migrating to Habersham County, Georgia. His father was Micajah Turner, born about 1775 in Virginia and died about 1871 in White County, Georgia. Jarrett Turner was born in 1806 in South Carolina and died in 1857. Some reports are that his parents Micajah and Nancy were buried in the Tesnatee Baptist Church Cemetery in White County. Jarret and Sarah Collins Turner were buried in the Old Choestoe Cemetery, Union County. Sarah Collins was born about 1812 in Buncombe County, North Carolina

Jarrett Turner and his father-in-law, Thompson Collins, cleared land and farmed along the rich creek bottoms. Some of the land they farmed had already been used to grow maize, pumpkins and other crops by the Indians who had left the land just prior to the white settlers moving in. The major exodus of all Indians did not occur until 1838, so the Turner and Collins families may have had Indian neighbors when they first settled on the land they acquired.

Jarrett and Sarah Collins Turner had a large family of thirteen children. They were:

(1) Celia Turner (b. 1831) married William Jackson Hood.
(2) Nancy Turner (b. 1832) - no record of her marriage
(3) Francis Turner (b.1834) - lived in Lumpkin County, GA
(4) Elizabeth Turner (b. 1836) - no record of her marriage
(5) Ruth Turner (b. 1837) married Bluford Lumpkin Dyer
(6) James Turner (b. 1840) married Elizabeth Dyer
(7) Sarah Turner (b. 1842) married Rev. John Henry Lance
(8) Phoebe Turner (b. 1845) married James H. Lance
(9) Micajah Turner (b. 1847), named for his Grandfather Turner - no record of marriage
(10) Olive Turner (b. 1849), married Joseph G. Dyer
(11) Marion Turner - birth date and marriage unknown
(12) Thompson Turner - birth date and marriage unknown
(13) William "Bill" Pruitt Turner (b. about 1854, White County, GA) married Margaret Harkins on December 24, 1870.
Many claiming kinship to the first Turner family in Union still reside in the county today. Among Jarrett and Sarah Collins Turner's descendants are people of many occupations. Some remain close to the soil and still enjoy farming. Several followed careers in education and counseling. Others entered business and professional work.

Like the occupational title from which their surname derives, they make their work count through diligence and service.

c 2009 0by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Aug. 6, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.