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Lifestyles of the Past and Present in Bethesda
Genealogy & Local History eBook

Lifestyles Cover

Prepared by Hugh Keedy and Jessie Bennett
Co-directors: Bethesda Museum

Billy Alexander
Jessie Bennett
Franklin Bond
Leo Bond
Lola Bowersox
Cleo Grigsby
Agnes Hargrove
Hugh Keedy
Annie Lou McCord
Bessie Mosley
Lester Mosley
Jean Sanders
Joyce Smith
Ruth Taylor
James Trice
Jerry Watkins
Bill Wiley

Interview With James Trice

My young days

I was born in the little white house across from the Bennetts. The doctor was probably Dr. Core. My parents farmed. They lived in the house where you [Hugh] bought. There used to be another house out the other side of the house. It burned up. Lincoln Binkley lived there at the time. We had a big barn that burned this side of our house, the old house that you bought.

My parents bought that place up there after I was born. I don't know how old I was when we moved up in the hollow. There were two places for sale. Joe Trice bought it all. My daddy, Charlie Trice, took the back place and they took the part on this side [south]. Momma was Fanny Biggers. [They lived on the other side of Pull Tight Ridge.] I had no brothers or sisters.

Our kitchen when I was growing up was in the back room of the house. I used to sleep on the side porch, winter and summer. We had a wood stove and a wood heater too. And coal oil lamps. The upstairs was just a loft. Nobody ever slept up there.

I remember one thing. My granddaddy had a bunch of bees out there in front of the house. In the summer time they would get in big lumps. I remember one time, just as well as yesterday, when I was a little bitty boy wearing a diaper. I went out there with a stick and punched in there and them things they liked to eat me up. They thrashed me out, I'll tell you.

My daddy got up one night in his sleep and thought someone had put a ________ there and kicked it. He hit his foot against the rocking chair and broke his toe. [Jessie: Aunt Fanny tells that he saddled up his horse one time and when he got to the gate, the horse stepped on his foot.]

I went to school at Choctaw part of the time. Choctaw was a one room school. My teachers--Miss Louise Sawyer was one and Miss Nell Smithson was one. There used to be a little ice house up here at this store. I'd ride behind on a horse. I'd get up on that ice house porch and she [WHO???] would ride beside me. She lived over Pull Tight. She would come by and I would get on and ride to school.

Then I went down to Bethesda, down where the store is. I walked or run. From up there where you lived I would run to school every morning, run back that evening, run back that night and practice basketball, and run back home.

When I was a boy I helped a fellow run a cream route to Murfreesboro. We'd get ice cream up at the center. When we were done loading the cream we come back there and we'd get a gallon of ice cream for eighty cents. We'd stop out there at Stones River, me and T.R., and get up under there and eat it. Later I didn't do much of nothing but work with T.R. Clendenning in the saw mills.

We didn't have electricity until way up in the forties. We had Aladdin lamps, with the little wicks. I believe we had a battery radio before we got electricity. Big old long Philco, I believe. He bought one from old man Peshee(???) who run an electric place here in Franklin, when they put electricity in. I don't guess we listened to anything but WSM.

We killed hogs. Everybody would go in right up here at the rock house up here on that creek. They had a big gamboling pole they would hang the hogs up on. Everybody in this country killed hogs up there. And, they killed a big bunch over at the white house, where my granddaddy Pappy Will and Mammy Kate where lived. But nobody kills hogs no more.

Cross Keys

When I was young I played horseshoes. That was the biggest game in this country! Up here where the old store was [at Cross Keys, where James' house is now], where the old locust tree is now. There was a big store there on the right hand side. I tore it down when I bought where I am now.

They had a barber shop upstairs, and tested cream and stuff downstairs in that little side room . They bought possums, polecats, rabbits , and everything and had chickens. They carried them to Nashville. I've seen Trav Wallace, who run the grocery store, back his big International truck up there one day and put 100 cases of eggs in that thing, that he got in one week from people in this country.

I have heard them tell how things around here started. Over at Flat Creek in front of that old store out there on that creek there is a big flat rock. There used to be an old store there and a barber shop, and they made twist tobacco and they done everything at that place. Had a post office there. But I have heard them tell about who started down here in Bethesda.

I guess the old stone house close to me is the oldest one around, Laban Hartley's [Jessie's great great granddaddy] house. Laban Hartley had slaves up there. {??They were slave runners??) Way back in the 1700s. He lived in that house with slaves. This side of there, they made whiskey and everything at that place then. That thing used to be full of barrels and old counterfeit money. On this side of the road was a saloon where people went to drink in there.

The old store across from my house used to be a service station and everything. Sold Cities Service gas, sold white whiskey on the inside, and upstairs they gambled. T.R. and Russell Runnels run it. That was way back in the first of the thirties. [Now, there is a one story building that was once a store at that location.]

There was a funeral home up on the hill--a big red building. You could go up there and buy the casket, handles, and screws all for $25. You would put them together. Made like a fiddle (???).

Where my garage is now is where the man that run the store had a scales. They would bring calves and sheep down there and separate them from the lambs. They would load the lambs up in a truck and take them to Nashville. Calves and everything; you had pens you could drive them in and separate them all out.

Roads were just dumb old dirt roads. Across the creek there used to be rails and poles laying there that you walked across on. There weren't any road bridges then. You had to ford the creek.

I've heard them tell how Cross Keys got its name. A man lost his keys up there one day, and he found them. They were crossed and they named it Cross Keys. That store where my house is, over a hundred years ago, used to sit long ways there. That was before they ever built that little one. John Tar______ (???) run it.

Have you ever seen this cheese cutter down at Bethesda store that they cut cheese on back there? That's mine. Aunt Carrie said when she was a little bitty girl they had that thing up in this old store to cut cheese on.

The picture show

Out there where Mr. Nichols's barn is there used to be a theater. A picture show come here every year. But it didn't make no sound. They put up a big tent. I'll tell you what. We'd be up there in that hollow and we could always tell. When you heard chickens squalling all over this country, people were taking their chickens to sell to go to the show. They had a little box of candy for a nickel, but there wasn't no use to sit there and look at the picture. There wasn't no sound to it. That was back in the 1920s.

The ice house

They got the ice for the ice house at Cross Keys from Franklin. They would cut a twelve pound block and sell it to people. Roy Creswell lived in the hollow the other side of where you live over there. He would go to Franklin every Saturday and he would bring back ice. He run an ice route. He'd stop and leave fifteen cents worth or a dimes worth, or whatever you wanted. People had boxes with sawdust in them, you know, to keep the ice. He would bring the store two or three blocks to put over in the ice house and the sawdust would keep it. Some people had an icebox to put the ice in. But, a lot of people dug a hole in ground and put sawdust in there. Put the ice in it and put the sawdust back over it. It would keep a long time. Just put the ice in on the sawdust. Chip you off a piece when you wanted it.


We had a basketball team and a baseball team too. We had a real baseball team. Ward Taylor was the back catcher and John Williams--they were the back catchers. I was the pitcher. I don't know who all played on it. Watson Wally did but he got killed. We played right there beside the store [in Bethesda]. That store has burned up four times down there. We played at Arno and Rudderville.

Cross Keys had a ball team. Right here where the church is, that used to be Cross Keys diamond. I remember one time they were playing down there and Harold Ross was on third base and Owen Prarer(???) was back catcher. They got somebody in the hot box. Owen throwed him one--he always slapped at them blackie (???) --but he got too late. (LAST PART NOT CLEAR---) He had to reach up there and take both hands and pull that baseball out of his mouth.

The home place

[Note: Hugh bought the farm and house that James was raised in, in 1991. Over the years many remodelings and additions had been made. The cabinets in the kitchen are those that were removed from the kitchen of Dolly Parton when it was remodeled.]

I don't know when that house was built. It's way over two hundred years old. Old Dr. Bennett used to live there. Had a doctor's office there. He married old man Charlie Anderson's aunt. You know there was a big graveyard in front of that house up on that hill there, on the other side of the road. They dug phosphate up there twice. I've been up there and picked up casket handles and tombstones, and everything.

There is also a cemetery up on Rabbit Hill [the hill up the hollow behind the home place]. Miss Erma Creswell that lived up where the Hagewood's live, she was raised up on top of that hill. There used to be a road that come out that ridge and come off down there at their house. And then there used to be road off of there that went on out that ridge and come out over at the Arno-Allisona road.

There was another house up in the hollow behind my home, just on the left hand side of the spring there. That's where I seen one brother kill the other right there. It didn't kill him right then, but he was never right before he died. These boys were going to haul gravel to gravel the road with and I was walking on up there with them. They got up there and they got into a fight. One of them drawed back to throw a rock to hit the other one. The other one was too fast; he hit him up the side of the head. Carried him up to the spring and I run over to get his daddy. Mr. Creswell was to go over there. The first thing, he reached and got his gun. He said, "I'll kill that son of a bitch." He talked to the other boy but he didn't to the other boy. He got over there and seen that Bill had hit Roy and he didn't say anything, but if Roy had hit Bill he would have killed him right there. He laid there for months before he died. Their momma and daddy--Miss Erma Williams, her daddy was a captain in the Civil War and they moved out and bought that place up there in 1878 where Hagewood lives.

The house up by the spring [up in the hollow] was there somewhere about 1924 or 1925. There were two houses, the one I lived in and the one by the spring. Lincoln Bennett lived in the one by the spring but they had gone off over to Little Texas where they were from. There was a big snow on the ground. The house caught afire some way. On the left hand side of the spring there was a big rock that water came out of when it rained. There used to be some big locust trees right there and that's where that house was. It was a two room house and had steps to go up to it. The house was right by the big rock, sitting on rocks.

Joe Biggers bought that when I left home [after 1959]. He bought that up there and sold the timber off to the co-op. They went up there in the hollow on the left hand side and cut that timber.

Back in the hollow, just over the fence seven or eight feet, there are seven springs. They run all the time, but they don't run much. And, there used to be a big spring above our house, back up in the hollow next to Jack Webster's place.

The spring right in back of our house went dry. [Until 1996 it had big rocks in the bottom and a cooling ditch in it, and there was a little water coming out. A frame shed still covered it.] We got Flooky Buford to come over and dig a ditch. We didn't have any water. They dug a ditch out and struck that spring where it is at right now, just a few feet away from the old spring.

There was phosphate mining up there in the hill in front of my home place. Way back years ago, and then they came back again. They dug phosphate with picks and shovels and hauled it to Thompson Station to the train. Old man Hackney and Malcolm West (????) hauled it on wagons.

In the Civil War that road came around off that hill around by Hagewood's house and around the other side of Bald Hill and come out down here by the Lynch's. That's where the road came out.

Bear Hollow

That hollow up there is Bear Hollow. Up where that spring is somebody cut a big sycamore tree and some man had been up to the house on the hill there and started back down off the hollow here. And this bear was laying up there on that stump. And he killed him and that's where the name of Bear Hollow came from, according to Miss Erma Creswell. That is supposed to be the last bear killed in this area.

Bald Hill

I was going to tell you about this bald hill. [The hill across the road from where James was raised; today it is grown up with lots of cedars and other trees.] On the left hand side there, my granddaddy had that fenced off and there were plum trees. He would put his hogs in there every fall and feed them corn and them plums. Man, he'd have some fat hogs. That bald hill used to be like that yard out there when I was a boy. They raised corn about half way up that hill, and they would start a row of tobacco and would go round and round and round the hill till they got to the top with tobacco. When I lived up there in the hollow where you [Hugh] own now you could sit up there and see all over this country because there wasn't a bush in there. You could see this whole country. Back in those days people just raised a little tobacco and what they could eat.

Jason used that big hillside. That used to be a big orchard up there. You would get a cider mill and haul it up there to grind apples and make cider, in the fall, and have vinegar all year. Made it by the barrels. Made it up in the orchard. The mill was hand operated. You didn't have a big orchard over there to Jewell down here by ???.

Army days

Me and Glenn Grigsby and Melvin White and what ______ horses. I quit that and went to work at TVA. Then the army got kinda hot and I quit and joined the army. They wrote me after I got out of the army and wanted me to come back, but I didn't go. That's what I ought to have done.

I saw foreign service and was in six years, two months, and eleven days, I believe it was. I had a cousin who lives up there in that old red house. He was to go the next day to the army and they had a party for him, a big supper and everything. He was crying cause he was having to go by himself, and everybody was about two thirds drunk. I told him if you'll just be quiet I'll volunteer and go with you tomorrow. He said, "You won't do it." I said, "I will." He made me stay all night. He slept with his arm around me like this, cutting my wind off so I could hardly breathe. We come down the next morning and borrowed old man Sam Anderson's car and Brac(???) Creswell drove us to Franklin. I passed and he didn't. He didn't go.

I went to Nashville; rode that old steel tired interurban from Franklin to Nashville. First time I ever rode it. It might have been the first time I was ever in Franklin. Then went to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. And from there to Fort Jackson, South Carolina. I was in the Tennessee Old Hickory ______(???) Division and saw battle conditions. Yeah, I talked to Eisenhower, General George Marshall, head of the army at that time, and all of them. I talked to a whole bunch of them; I've seen them all. I volunteered the 18th day of December 1940 and left January 20. They let me stay out for Christmas.

After the army

When I got out of the service I married. We didn't live too long together. And then I married Leo Crafton who lived over Pull Tight. We lived together twenty five years, or thirty, somewhere around there. We lived in the house my daddy _________??? and then we moved down here, where they sold the land on the Grimm place, over behind the hill there. We lived in a house right there. But they tore that house down, about 1959.

Me and Leo, we had five children. Dan is over in Choctaw, one is down in Chapel Hill, one is in Smyrna, two are in the Rudderville community. We have four grandchildren.

The first car I ever owned was a forty one, it seems like, Mercury--a four door. I don't even know who I got it from. That was after I got out of the army. I don't think I paid much for it because I didn't have much to pay with.

The fortune teller

Man, there was big snow on the ground. This boy on Flat Creek, up in Cobb Hollow there, he had killed a woman and somebody else and himself off. He killed himself in the smokehouse. They couldn't find this woman over there and they went to Simon (???) Warner, a fortune teller in Shelbyville. He said you go back to that boy's house and you go 100 yards down the creek and you will find her in a brush pile. Her aunt was the one who found her. Her toes had melted the snow off of her toes a little bit and they found her under a brush pile. They never found the other one.

The Cross Keys graveyard

Over here at the graveyard in Cross Keys [across from the Bennetts], the apple tree used to be on the outside of the fence. They were horse apples, a great big apple; the best you ever ate. They built that fence and put that apple tree over on the graveyard side so no one would bother it. The name of it is the Hartley Community Cemetery. Laban Hartley was the first one buried there. Some Hartleys are buried right across from Buck Eperson's(???). His daughter is, but it doesn't say anything about his wife. There are rocks piled up that you can see from the road. You go over to Flat Creek and turn to the right, and make that little dip at that big oak tree that is there. Look down there. One of them died in 1843, and the other I don't know when. But he and his girl are buried there. I don't know where his wife was buried.

I don't know who was buried in the cemetery across from where I grew up. There used to be some big tombstones in there. I've picked up handles up there.

The ones who ran the funeral home on the hill were the same family as the Chapel Hill Lawrences. When they moved up there they changed the name to Lawrences instead of Lavenders. The Lavenders ran the one in Cross Keys. There was a blacksmith shop right the other side where the road turns to the right. Used to be a great big place there. Blacksmith shop, Ralph Simmers and Reed Walker used to trade horses all the time. There was a bunch over there all the time playing horseshoes and trading horses and getting horses shod.


I bought the house I am in from Earl Gant (???). Nathan MaClain, a black man, used to rent it. He was the blacksmith. Besides shoeing horses he sharpened plow points and did any kind of metal work. Fixed buggies. Put rubber tires on them. He was a handy man. He had a wreck out this side of Franklin Road. It wasn't even his fault but he killed someone and they sent him to the pen. One day I got a letter from the penitentiary and I said, "who in the devil is that!" They were wanting me to get a bunch of people to sign to get him out. I said I would sure do it. I got me two or three cases of beer and every house I would go to, I'd give them three or four beers. A whole bunch signed it and I sent it back. In a few days, Nathan come home.

But, I used to read the Williamson County news every week. They sent me the news and I was reading one day where they caught Nathan driving, drinking a quart of beer, and driving with his feet.

Some other stories

Me and T. R. Clendenning always wanted to see a rattlesnake [they had never seen one in the Bethesda or Cross Keys area] and we were fishing in Hickman County. We told old man Charlie Pruitt if he would ever catch one to write us a letter and someone would come and get him. One day we got a letter. We made T.R. run the store and Marvin Clendenning and George Earl Creswell went down and got that rattlesnake. We set that locust tree next to my house out that day while they were gone. That's where that locust tree come from.

Mr. Rawford(???), who lived up there back of Pull Tight church in that log house, had a sister. One day she was coming down the road and everybody was sitting on the porch--John William Beasley, O.C. Farrar, John Grimm and who all were sitting there. We were all guessing who it was. She come on down and she walked over there and told us who she was. She said, "would you all mind if I make a picture of you. I work for the television station in New York." She made a picture of all of us and put it on television. The other day she came back down the road. She walked up to me and said, "do you remember me now?" I said, "no, I don't." She said it had been several years since she had been down here and she told me what she had done. I said, "every one of them is dead."

[Hugh: What words of wisdom do you have to pass on?]

Be good and sit on the front porch.

I went to this store in Chapel Hill the other day. A new man has bought the grocery store. One of the fellows working in the store called me back there and introduced me to him and said, "now this is one of the finest fellers you've ever seen. He buys all kinds of stuff and takes it and gives it to people around where he lives--poor people." That new man said, "I'll tell you what, you're a Baptist." I said, you're right!" That's what a good Baptist will do. Help people like that.

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