Saturday nights we had Literary. This was the only get-together that we had as there was no church nearer than five miles, and we just didn’t go, except on Sundays.
The men took part in the debates. Most everyone of them would get up and talk, and if there were any of them that didn’t care to talk they would use them for judges. The men sat on one side of the house and the ladies on the other - no mixing up in those days. I feel that I really gained a major part of what little knowledge I have from that Literary at Vaughn.
In the old days when the population was mostly rural, on the fourth of July there would be a picnic in most of the rural neighborhoods. In our community we usually went to Dawn. If it rained on that date we boys felt we had about lost a year. I remember a colored man named Dennis Wolfscale would ride the horse-drawn swing most of the day with his banjo. One of the songs he would sing was “Kitty Clide”. Most of us sat in the bottom of the wagon box. If the family could afford a spring seat Dad and Mother occupied it, but we were really glad to go as it was the most exciting day of the year. They would have footraces, sack races (tie a sack around one’s waist with his feet in the sack. It was a slow race but exciting as the runner was down most of the time.) Then we had lemonade. I don’t think soda pop had arrived on the scene. Then they played horseshoes and baseball. Most every neighborhood had a baseball club. I remember my father after harvest would let us boys play ball on Saturday afternoon. Baseball in those days was very unpopular with many people.
Back when I was a boy we traveled what they called the Jimtown Road. Just before the farmers reached the river bridge, there was a man named Finley who lived near the bridge that ran a saloon, where the residents south of the river got their final drink for the day. I think his place being the last chance caused more people to drink than would have had he not been there. I heard one man say that he took his last drink at Finley’s. Just before he arrived home, he met a neighbor lady and thought he would make a polite bow, but he fell out of the wagon on his head. He said that was the last time he was drunk.
My grandmother Elizabeth (Lizzie) (Ruddick or Reddick) Perry was born in Benton County, Arkansas, July 14, 1851. Her Mother was June Fitzgerald Ruddick and her father John Ruddick, died with ague while she was small. Her stepfather, a doctor, never returned from the Civil War.
Grandma liked to talk about her girlhood home, with a fireplace in every room, even upstairs. She told about the springhouse, that kept food cool, as the water ran through it on the way to a tank for livestock. During the war they took up floorboards and hid salt, a precious commodity, from robbers. These robbers, called bushwhackers, were outlaws who didn’t fight on either side, but came through, and stole from the old men and women, while their husbands and sons were in the war. They burned buildings, destroyed property, and killed many people for no reason. When Lizzie saw them coming she would get on her pony and ride away, to keep them from getting him. Bushwhackers forced her Mother to cook food for them, and then taste it, before they ate it.
Before the Battle of Pea Ridge which was fought, in part, on the Ruddick farm, they were told to move out of their house. It was later burned. They went to the Elk Horn Tavern where her sister lived. During the battle, Lizzie described the noise as sounding like corn popping. After it was over she went with her mother and gave coffee to the wounded soldiers. Afterwards the dead soldiers were buried in shallow temporary graves and later moved. One time Lizzie remembered her Mother covering a protruding hand.
On March 28, 1869, Lizzie and Thomas Jefferson Perry were married. He was a Civil War veteran. They first moved to south Missouri, then Kansas and in about 1888 came to Livingston County, Missouri in a covered wagon. Here they reared their 10 children. They were both good in all kinds of sickness, and helped their neighbors and friends when needed.
T. J. Perry died July 18, 1924 and Lizzie died May 30, 1932. They are buried in the Blue Mound Cemetery about eleven miles south of Chillicothe.
Livingston County experienced dozens of casualties at the Battle of Pea Ridge. Their unit was called the Missouri State Guard and fought on the Confederate side. The most notable MSG death at this battle was General William Y. Slack of Chillicothe. I am working on a new post about this little known local hero.