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(Letter written after meeting the current owner of Grandfather Albert Jackson's home on Rt. 16, Calhoun Co, WV.)

October 10, 1995


Dear Mr. Kirby,

I was so pleased to get to meet you and hear that you may try to fix up the farm.  I have a picture of the house taken sometime during the thirties that if I can find it, I'll send it with this letter.  My grandfather, Albert Jackson bought the farm in 1913.  I remember Grandma saying that Grandpa built on the kitchen and upper no-door room.  So the original house must have been built before he bought it in 1913.  Before that it was owned by J. E. Snider.

Albert and Janie Jackson had four children; all were raised on the farm.  Two, Delmas and Geraldine, are in a picture at the Grantsville Restaurant.  The picture is the first high school class in the [Calhoun] county, taken before the school was actually built.  All of Albert and Janie's children are dead now.  Their oldest grandchild is Jim Garretson of Grantsville, whom you met with us.  So he probably remembers more about the farm than I do.  My mother was ill, so I spent most all of my childhood summers living with Grandma and Grandpa at the farm.  Grandpa died in 1942 and it was decided Grandma could not stay there by herself, so the farm was sold in 1943, I think, to a family named Poling.  From then on the farm deteriorated.  I never got to see it much after that-- just some summer vacations we got to drive by, but it was always sad because of the condition of it.

City water was, of course, unthought of.  The electric company wanted to put lines across the farm up at the road but Grandfather wouldn't hear of it!  He said he had free gas, why should he pay to put electric lines in.  Lights were all gas lights.  I remember when he wanted to buy a gas refrigerator for the store so he could sell cold pop.  But he wasn't even considering buying one for the house.  Grandmother had to put her foot down pretty hard at that, so he bought two.  One for the house, so she wouldn't have to always run to the cellar, and one for the store.  That had to be hard--she always had a large family and sometimes farm hands to cook for--with no running water and no refrigeration!  They kept chickens for eggs and meat, cows for the milk and butter (hand churned) and always had a large garden.  Until Storks Bakery started a run from Parkersburg to Grantsville, she baked all their bread.  But when the bakery truck stopped at the store, Grandpa had them stop up the road in front of the house so she could come up and get what she wanted.

Grandmother had one of the first gasoline powered washing machines in the county.  It sat under the overhang of the cellar house.  She pumped the water from the well, heated it in a copper pot over an open wood fire and then carried it by the steaming bucketful to the washing machine.  When the washing machine was started you could hear that gasoline engine reverberate through the hills!

Haven't found the picture yet, so don't know if you can tell, but everything was fenced in.  The house itself had a small grass yard edged by grandmother's flowers and surrounded by a galvanized fence.  This wasn't to keep anything in but to keep the chickens and cows OUT!  The garden was fenced for the same reason.  Between the corn crib and the house fence was another fenced area which was the calf lot.  There was barbed wire fencing all around the total farm.  Inside the cows and chickens had free range, but they didn't scatter much.  During calving time, they might have to go looking for a cow, but generally the cows came in about milking time when they were called.  Oh, I about forgot; behind the house and behind the cellar house was a pig sty.  On the hill behind the cellar house was an apple orchard.  Between the cellar house and the outhouse, they kept several hives of bees.  You can bet this little kid didn't linger along the way.  Past the corn crib there was the "new" barn for cows.  Beyond that was the "old" barn for the horses.

Between the house and the road, a little to the right was the chicken coop.  Across from the corn crib was a storage building for feed etc. with a shed on the side.  Walking paths, of course, went from the road down the bank and across to the house, also to the barns.  Wherever the path crossed a low area planks were laid so you didn't get your feet wet.  There was no road from the hard road down to the house.  The path from the hard road down to the house was from the top of the rise in the road opposite the house.

The house had porches, upper and lower, both front and back.  And of course, the traditional swing and rocking chairs on the front porch.  The edge of the porch was lined with potted plants in the summer which were taken inside during winter, where they lined both sides of the dining room.  The room to the left was the parlor; that room that only got used for company; and the only room with carpet on the floor.  To the right was the living room with its wood burning stove.  It's stove pipe ran up through Grandma's bedroom and was the only upstairs heat.  That stove and the cook stove was the only heat in the house!  And this before the days of insulation!  They did not need the upper no-door room for a bedroom, so they never put in an inside door.  But she did use that room in the summer.  There were hooks in the ceiling or rafters.  From these hooks she hung old window screens horizontally.  And on these screens she dried beans and apples.

The cellar I remember as cool and damp.  There were 5 gal jugs full of pickles and kraut.  There were shelves lining the walls with all of Grandma's home canned fruits and vegetables.  And the jugs of fresh milk, cream, clabbered milk and buttermilk.  The room above the cellar was used only for storage; though at one time my cousin, recently married, moved in there.  They hung sheets for walls. But that didn't last too long.

About where the saw mill was but more to one side of it, Grandpa had a general store.  He sold everything from work boots to rifles to groceries.  There were large catalogs with little square samples of wool that one could order a store-bot suit!  Since the auto had come along, Grandpa had put in two gas pumps.  How I loved to walk by and smell the fumes!  Now I can't figure why that smelled good to me!  When he died they found a list of everyone around that owed a store account.

Grandma and Grandpa were active in the church at Big Springs.  Then it was a Methodist Church (but I think I saw a different sign on it as we went by).  Grandpa led singing there and sometimes brought the lesson when the circuit preacher wasn't there.  He would have run off anybody that even thought of turning his store into a saloon.  We all were sorry that turned that way.  But he would be pleased that you've given land for a church.

This may be a lot more history of the farm than you wanted to know, but I have enjoyed reminiscing.  Just thought you might want to know.  Fixing that house up would be a major, major undertaking.  It would please us all, but I have to wonder if it's worth the time, money and effort?  I hope it is.

Sincerely,
Janie Kimble

The no-door room was built above the kitchen with no connecting door to the inside of the house.  It was accessed from the second story el-shaped back porch.  There was no water in the house until the late thirties.  When Grandpa built on the kitchen and it's no-door room above it, he also extended the porches, top and bottom.  The well had been several feet from the original house and he just incorporated the well with it's pitcher pump into the porch.  Grandma had only to step outside the kitchen door to pump the water, was protected from rain by the porch above and from mud by the porch she was standing on.  Family story has it, though it was never proved or acknowledged, that Grandma put a nail down that well, to force Grandpa to do something about getting water into the house.  Perhaps it was only a teasing accusation--what was this little kid to know!  In any case, Grandpa put gutters all around the roof to collect water and piped it into a new cistern he had built on the rise just behind the kitchen  This water was then piped into the kitchen and the 'faucet' was a small pitcher pump mounted on the side of the sink area.  There was a waist high wall just off the porch, under the cistern, with a faucet, where one could draw water from the cistern into a wash pan and wash up before going into the house.   And Grandma saw that we did just that!  Notice that the water was still not hot water.  It had to be heated on the stove.  And bathing was accomplished once a week (on Saturday night)  in the big round wash tub brought in and set in the middle of the kitchen.  It was filled with water heated on the nearby stove and one bathed with home made lye soap until the NEW, FLOATING Ivory soap was available.

Another story remembered:  Grandpa was a busy man; he was a farmer, kept store, raised livestock, acted as community banker until Calhoun County Bank was established and he was on the board of Trustees for that.  One evening he required Grandma to hold the lantern for him in the barn while he pitched the hay up into the loft.  After a bit, she got tired and said "Albert Jackson, if you can't get your work done in the daylight God gave you, you can hold your own lantern!"   Ah, I loved these folks!  

Janie


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