50 Years Ago in Saluda, NC by Herbert E. Pace
| 50 Years Ago Around Saluda
saluda / saluda book index
A man by the name of John Stone came to Saluda and
bought a farm near Mt. Page Church. Nobody knew where
he came from. He had a family of several children - was a
good man in the community. In 1906 Mr. Stone and others
got up the first R. F. D. mail route out of Saluda. It was
about 26 miles long. Arthur Hill was the first mail carrier.
Mr. Stone was substitute. At first they used a horse and
buggy. It was hard on a horse. There were so many mountains
and in winter time the road got so muddy, Mr. Hill
had two horses. He would drive one, one day, and the other
one. the next day. Then he tried changing them on the
route as he crossed the route near Mt. Page. A Mr. Ward
would feed the horses and have them ready to go. When
he came back he would change again; take the same horse
back to Saluda. Mr. Stone was a farmer. He decided he
wanted a team of mules, so he got up all the money he had
and started off to Tennessee to buy the mules. That night
Mrs. Russell (Henry Russell's wife) disappeared. She
a neighbor of Stone's and they have not been heard
of since. The Stone family moved to South Carolina later.
Mr. Hill carried the mail for a long time. I was his
substitute when a Mr. Mitchell who was on his vacation,
lived on the route. He worked in a post office in the eastern
part of the state. He swapped jobs with Mr. Hill. He
thought the route was a good job, so he tried to make it
with one horse. Sometimes the horse would give out and
he would have to leave it and walk in. So he gave it up.
The route was up for a new carrier then. I did not want it.
Mr. U. G. Jones was the next mail carrier. I taught him the
route. He used a horse for awhile, and then a T-model
Ford car; then several other makes of cars. He carried the
mail for about 30 years. He is now retired. I did not know
I was that old, but I guess I am.
| A Shoemaker, Blacksmith and Undertaker
50 years ago there was a man who lived in our community
by the name of John T. Staton. He made shoes and
boots; he tanned his own leather with bark and made
his own pegs out of wood. I used to hear the old people
tell about a man by the name of John Morgan who got
Mr. Staton to make him a pair of boots. He got his new
boots one night and the next morning he thought he would
try them on. Boots were hard to get on if they fit you, and
when you got them on they would feel loose; so Mr.
Morgan was trying to get his boots on. His wife was in the
kitchen cooking breakfast. She heard him in another room
fussing; she went to the door and said, “John what in the
world is the matter?” He said, “Samantha these boots are
so tight and so loose I can't wear them.”
John T. Staton was also a blacksmith. If anybody got
sick they would send for John T. And when anybody died
he would make the coffin and help bury them.
| Soap and Hominy Made at Saluda
This is the time of the year we begin killing hogs and
rending out the lard, and browning the crackling to go
into the corn bread. We called this fatty bread 50 years ago.
We saved the chitterlings and scraps to make soap. Hog
fat and lye were the ingredients. We made the lye from
good wood ashes such as oak and hickory. We built a platform
with the boards sloping so the lye would drip off into
a bucket. We placed a barrel or gun as we called it, and
filled it about two-thirds full of ashes and began pouring
water in. In a few minutes the lye would come dripping
through. It would be strong at first, but would get weaker.
We would pour this into a big wash pot with the chitterlings
and scraps and boil. This made what we called lye soap.
We always made several churns full of soap and kept a
gourd handy to dip the soap as needed. We never ran
out of soap.
We also made some lye hominy with the same kind of
lye in the winter time. We made this by boiling whole
grains of corn in a pot of lye.
We also made our own wagon grease. This was made
from pine tar. The tar was made by splitting rich pine knots
into small pieces and placing them on slanting or grooved
rocks. Then we would invert a wash pot and build a hot
fire on top of the pot. The heat would melt the tar out of
the fat pine. As it melted it would run into the groove in
the rock and into a container. This made good wagon
grease. Our wagon had wooden axles with a little strip of
iron on the bottom and top, and a lurch pin in the end to
hold the wheel on. We had no brakes on wagons. We would
lock a wheel with a chain on steep hills and take the chain
off at the foot of the hill.
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