Sunday, January 1, 2017

Remembrance of Things Past: Gatlinburg #11

Baskins Creek School, grandma Pearl Ogle Bales, fifth from left, first row standing. She was 10-years-old. circa 1913. © Bales Family archive

In the early 1900s, the small communities near Gatlinburg that are today within the national park, had small one-room schools built for the kids out of logs hewed by their daddies. In Greenbrier, Sugarlands, Roaring Fork and along Baskins Creek these same buildings generally held church services on Sunday, and as schools they only met a few months a year to teach the basics, the three Rs: reading, writing and ciphering, i.e. arithmetic. (2X2=4, 2X3=6, 2X4=8, etc.)

Log cabin school located on Baskins Creek (in foreground) built on land donated by my great grandfather Preston Columbus Ogle. That's the P.C. Ogle home and barn in the background, circa 1901-03. © Bales family archive

There was no time for childhood, there were chores to do 

They were good kids who could only be away from their daily farm work for a short timeLife was a struggle, their families needed them. There were corn fields and livestock to attend. Food to prepare. Firewood to gather. Squirrels to hunt. Baby sisters to watch. Water to carry. Butter to churn and churn and churn. Will it ever be done? Their toys were buckets and knives and short-handled hoes. They learned how to use a saw, a gun, a needle and thread early in life. If they had a doll, it was made out of rags or corn shucks, but most of the rags went into making quilts. In the winter, there were never enough quilts. 

Mountain kids had to grow up fast, childhood was a luxury for city kids. The Sears & Roebuck catalog was known as the "wish book," because that's all you could do: Look at the fancy merchandise and wish. Maybe someday.  

My great grandmother Emma married Jim when she was only 13 years old, she died nine years later only four months after the birth of their second son, Otis. She was frail. Granddad Homer was the first born. Emma Ogle Bales was buried in the Bales Cemetery on Roaring Fork after a life of a scant 22 years.

School teacher Berthenia McCarter 
with her hands full. © Bales family archive
In the bottom photo, Luther "Coot" Ogle is the boy in bib overalls, four child from the right. Luther went on to become one of the most successful businessmen in early Gatlinburg.

In the top photo, grandmother Pearl Ogle Bales is the fifth child from the left first row standing. Her mother Nancy Elizabeth died in childbirth six years after this photo was taken and Pearl finished raising her younger brothers and sisters. She was a mama before she was a mama. 

So, there was really no time for school.  


© 2017 From the upcoming book, 
"Vintage Gatlinburg: 
The Transformation of a Small Timber Town to a Mountain Resort
 Family Remembrances 1899-1974" 
by University of Tennessee Press author and native son  

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