AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND REMINISCENCES, Wiley M. Crook
POST-WAR YEARS IN HENDERSON COUNTY, TENNESSEE
When I reached home in May, 1865, my mother was the first to embrace me with tears of gladness. In a few days brother Elijah, who served in Company D of the 21st Tennessee cavalry regiment, came home. We boys helped finish the crop, while mother made us a suit of homespun cloth which very much resembled the Confederate gray. The Yankees had taken all the horses off. Our folks had left but two of their broken ones, not fit to ride. So we boys had to stay at home all that summer. As Christmas approached, the young ladies of the community gave social entertainments for the returned Confederate soldiers. I recall the first one I went to at Ed Rhodes’ home, and that Miss Ellen Hendrix was there. She is the girl I referred to in Chapter 9. I had not met her since I went to buy the boots from her father. Miss Ellen was 14 years old and her demeanor deepened the impressions she made on me at our former meeting. She wore the prettiest homespun dress I ever looked at. My heart was turned much toward Miss Ellen, and I cultivated her acquaintance at every convenient opportunity, though she was so young, yet she knew how to encourage and strengthen impressions already made. At the first of the year Father Hurt asked us boys our intentions for that year. We told him we knew nothing except to stay with him and mother. He said he was glad to have us remain with them, but he held not claim on us to work for him or the family, but he would board us and furnish us the two old horses and tools and we could have half we made. Brother and I accepted the proposition. Everything went reasonably well with us; as well as other Confederate soldiers who were the prime actors in replenishing the wasted domain of our Southland just after the termination of the Civil war. As I was reared on the farm and not having even a country school education, there was nothing for me to do only gage in farming. Elijah was in the same situation, so we bought from Father Hurt the old homestead in payment of what he owed us as our guardian of means left us by our father. Father Hurt then bought Cousin P. B. Farrow ‘s farm adjoining, and let brother and I have part of this land, which made us a tract of 280 acres. We boys became guardian for our two sisters for this new purchase, and a balance we owed on the first purchase of our father’s old home, and upon which we were born and reared.
In the spring of 1867, brother and I decided to try to get John Newsom, who had married Tabitha Hendrix, to live with us, so I went to see John and his wife, and made a trade with them, but something transpired that forced John to change his mind. I went to Father Hurt for advice. He said the best he could see was that one of us boys marry. In reply I told him neither of us had selected or courted a girl and that we could not accomplish such an important act in so short a time. He then said if our mother was willing, he would consent for our two sisters to live with us boys. I went to mother, Susan and Nannie about this important matter, explaining the situation confronting us boys. It was agreed that we four children should live together. I was then 22, brother 20, sister Susan 18, and Nannie 16 years old. I being the eldest, mother put the responsibility of the welfare and behavior of us children on me. I recall many pleasing incidents of our happy home together. We gained the confidence of the older and best people of the country. We conducted a quiet, well-directed home and had the pleasure of visits of both old and young people. In the first of the year 1868, brother and I divided our laud, so each had 140 acres. Brother getting the part that had the buildings on it. We all continued to live together, as the year before, striving for the benefit of us all, though each one planted a crop on his part of the land and we worked together in the cultivation. After finishing our crops, we proceeded to build a one-room log house on my part of the land. On the first of September, sister Susan and R. H. Barham married. This young man had served with me in the Civil war and was a Christian gentleman. On the 22d of September, 1868, Elijah and myself were married at the same hour, he married Miss Callie Fagg of Center Point, and I Miss Ellen Hendrix. Riley Reid, a primitive Baptist preacher, spoke the words that made Ellen and myself man and wife. I was then 24 years old and Ellen was 17.
Elijah and I had our infare dinner at our own home. Sister Susan came and helped sister Nannie, and Aunt Polly Dodds was there to help and give dignity to the occasion. Myself and my young wife soon moved into our new one-room house.
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