Jim Bell and I were sitting on the porch of the Stevens School last
Saturday morning, passing time between tours at Heritage Village. He
started talking about different things he has been involved with around
the county. So, I got out my pen and paper and started taking notes, so
I could share his memories.
He helped take down the old courthouse, jail and stone wall. There
was a water well with pump and stone trough where horses could be
watered. He had to set up a jack hammer to get the stones out. The wet
spot near the corner of Main and Mill streets was the approximate
location of the well.
The Bell Tower at First Baptist Church was designed by Don Morris,
using the stone step and bell from the original structure of 175 years
ago. Don was chairman of the trustees when the present church was built.
Jim helped erect the beams of the new church.
Charley Starcher had a store near the old bridge. The island for the
gas pumps was one solid rock with holes cut out for the pumps.
The present Stump Funeral Home is the site of the Pell home. It was a
beautiful Victorian structure. The funeral home of earlier days was
located on Mill St. near the Engle house.
The present post office parking lot was the site of the Street Car
Restaurant. It adjoined Loren Howley’s building. It was owned by a
Sampson at one time. There was a Conley bakery in the same vicinity.
Jim went to school with Spav Stump, who taught him to make whammy
diddles, monkeys from peach seeds, and various other items of interest
to children. This led Jim into the avocation of wood working. He would
cut trees when clearing locations for the gas company and use the wood
to make gun stocks. He and Shy Hickman started making bows and this led
to the present day Wood Festival.
He told of running a ferry boat during floods. Emma Waldo lived near
the present site of the drive in bank and didn’t want to leave her home.
So, when the water was at a dangerous level, they just took her out.
Jim helped with 4-H camp that was held at the NYA building. The men
and boys slept in the old garage and the girls slept in the building.
Sometimes they would carry a sleeping boy, cot and all, out in the field
and he would not be aware of it until morning. Mildred Yoak was a cook
for 4-H Camp. A good one too!
Jim was born on Northside. His mother was carrying him down the river
bank to cross the river in a boat to go to church. She slipped, lost her
balance, and the baby went in the river. Jim Law and Jim Hardman rescued
Some of his teachers were Eva Kirby (who whipped him every day), Eva
Law, Ota Marshall, Jim Morford and Joe Haught.
He saw his wife for the first time when she was waiting for the
school bus on lower Barnes Run, and decided she was the one! They
celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary on Tuesday.
Jim says he has tried everything and helped everybody. He still
fishes in Canada or Michigan and then serves his famous fried fish for
reunions and gatherings.
Let this remind you to have a recorder and/or pen and paper handy
when visiting long-time relatives. There are stories out there that may
never be remembered if you do not record them. Summer is reunion time,
make the most of the opportunity.