To the editors... BSQ
There is a discrepancy I apologize for. I had a terrible time
with the "Dell" and/or "Dale" names. Seems to be two different
names, but please notice... Thanks, Leslie
C: This is Sudie Cauthen Sheppard with Lucille Skinner Traxler at
her home in Traxler, outside of Alachua, on February 9, 1988.
T: ...That was before you just paid the state
cash money. Then they just divided it and you still got a third
of it. There are three boys. That is the way it came into our
C: Well, this is a real exciting time because the state taking
Since we have got the recorders on, let us go back to
the beginning and let me get the standard information that I need
to identify you in the oral history department at the university.
First of all, would you give me your whole name?
T: I was named Lucille (I did not have a middle name) Skinner (sp).
I consider my full name now, Lucille Skinner Traxler. I have
signed legal papers that way. I still have my signature as Mrs.
D. B. Traxler, because we do have securities that were with Dale
[sp?] and my name both on them that have not been changed and
they said it was not necessary to change. I sent them a copy of
the death certificate and the people [know]; everybody knows that
he has died and I am the sole heir of what he left.
C: Well, let us go back even beyond your beginning. You were born
Lucille Skinner in Archer?
T: No, I was born in Columbus, Georgia.
C: In what year?
T: 1913. January 16, 1913. My father came to Archer. He did
work for the family machine shop there and worked
with them for many years. He was the foreman of that job.
C: What was your father's full name?
T: His name was Isam (?) Wilkin Skinner and he was raised around
Columbus, Georgia. My mother was also raised near Columbus,
Georgia, in a small little town named Cusseta, [sp?] Georgia.
She was an Osteen.
C: What was her full name?
T: Well, her mother's people were Osteens. She was a Cobb. Her
name was Lucille Cobb.
C: Lucille Cobb Skinner. Do you know her birthdate?
T: Her birthday was May 4, and the year I do not know right off, but
I could find out.
C: Where is your mother buried?
T: She is buried in Archer.
C: Which cemetery?
T: Well, there is just the Laurel Hills, [sp?] I think they call it.
C: Is your father buried there, too?
T: They are both buried there.
C: Do you know his birthdate?
T: His was August 18. I just can not remember the year right off.
C: What about the date of his death?
T: I would just have to look at the records and refresh my mind.
They both have been dead over ten years.
C: How many children were there in your family?
T: No, not over ten, mama died just about ten years ago.
C: How many children were there in your family?
T: Seven were born and one little girl, Pauline, the one that came
after me, did not live past eighteen months old.
C: What happened to her?
T: She had a diarrhea of some kind they called palias, [sp?] but
that was a long time ago. The doctors did not know what to do
for her at that time. She died from it.
C: What about the other children? What were there names?
T: Well, my oldest brother is Howard Skinner and he is eighty years
old now. He was born November 10, [1907?]. The second in the
family was Evelyn Dew [sp?]. She was born on March 27, 
and is eighty-seven now. This March she will be eighty-eight. I
was the third child and I was born January 16, 1913. The one
that died.was next. She was born in December and she lived a
year until the following June. I am not exactly sure of the
C: So you grew up in Archer.
T: Yes. When I was three years old, my parents moved to Archer and
we [have] lived there since.
C: Do you remember living in Georgia?
T: Not at all.
C: What is your earliest memory of Archer?
T: Oh, I remember, I am not sure it was the first house but it was
not the house that my daddy bought and we lived in most the time.
It was just an ordinary, average house in the way they were
building them at that day and time I just remember
playing around in that house with children close by. We did not
live there too long until my father bought a place right in the
edge of Archer which was about a mile where the few stores and
the boundary and all. At that time, we had no car and he got up
and walked to work every morning about a mile. In those days and
times they worked ten hours a day. They had to be at work at
7:00, had an hour for lunch then they got off at 6:00. He left
earlier We walked to church that far every Sunday and
back. That home I remember real well. It was some acreage with
it, about ten acres, I think. I just loved to frolic over the
fields and climb the trees. As I remember it, I was a happy
child and I played with other children. I played in the sand and
shot marbles until I wore my thumbnail off. Whatever the little
games were that children played, I played them. We would climb
and I loved to climb. My closest friend that I grew up with
lived.just across the field .from-our home was their home and we
would meet at the big oak tree. She would come from her house
and I would and we would meet over there and play a lot. We
could hear either parent call us, you know. But, there were
little pine trees that were skinny and would bend way over. We
would climb those as high as we could and get them to swinging
back and forth. That was so much fun. I remember climbing those
pine trees. They would bend over with our weight and almost
touch the ground and we would push them back up and then we would
get in a swing. I would have a fit if one of my grandchildren
were doing that now. I do not guess my mother was looking out
C: Did you break one of them?
T: Sometimes we would here it crack and we would get down mighty
fast, but we never got hurt.
C: That sounds like fun. Could you see from how high you were down
T: They would not be that high. They were very young trees. They
were not all that high and you just had to choose one carefully.
C: Did you have any farm animals there on your place.
T: Yes, my mother loved outdoors, too. I have said I guess I was
born to be a farmer's wife because I have loved it out here so.
She always had a couple of cows and would raise some calves.
Sometimes she would get a calf from the dairy and put two calves
to one cow when it would be fresh with milk and still would have
plenty of milk for the whole family because she had a good stock
of cows and we would milk them twice a day. The little steer she
.....would sell for meat. The butcher would just come there and get
it and pay her for it. Sometimes she would have a pig or two
that we would put in a pen. She never had enough to let them run
over the field. She would feed it table scraps and what we
called slop from the kitchen and corn. We always had plenty of
chickens and our own eggs. [We had] chickens to eat and to lay
eggs. My father separated the land by a fence and he would rent
to nearby farmers half of the land and corn and then we
would take the rent which was a share of the corn out of the
cornfield. That helped feed the animals and there was also a
place in Archer that we could get corn ground into grits and
meal. We always had a good garden even though my father had long
working hours, he and my oldest brother managed to always have a
garden. They planted fruit trees on the place.
C: What kind of trees?
T: Well, during the years, we had lots of and great big
persimmons that I loved dearly. I would climb those trees and
the one out on the farthest limb was always the prettiest one
that I would try to get. He had peaches and plums and grapes and
pears; lots of pears. He had what they called a Satsuma orange.
It was kind of like a great big tangerine only much larger and
C: Your parents sound real industrious.
T: My parents were from, I will use the word "stock" (?) of people,
well-to-do families, of which I am very grateful. They were
educated for their day and time. They were doctors and lawyers
and very prominent people. My father had a brother that was an
architect and builder. He built some of the nicest places around
Atlanta. That was his home.
C: Do you know where those families came from when they came to this
T: I did not know too much of the background. I know at this time
(and it is almost completed), a member of the family, a person
that is my first cousin, is collecting all of that and she has
just got one little link that she is trying to find out about
before it is published. We will have the ancestors in our
C: Did you talk much about family matters when you were a child?
Did you have a sense of the extended family that was in Georgia?
T: Oh, yes. My father's mother lived to be up in her eighties.
During her lifetime, most every year, we would go up to see her
and visit all my other relatives. Some of them were always
coming down to visit us. At that day and time, you could not get
in the car on an interstate and go to Atlanta in six hours. We
always took too days in our old Model T, or whatever we had.
Daddy's first car was a Buick, but we did not always have that
large of a car to go in.
C: How old were you when you got the Buick?
T: That was his first one and I must have been about five or six.
There were not a whole lot of cars, but a lot of people were
beginning to [get them].
C: That would have been about 1918 that he got his car.
T: Probably along in there somewhere.
C: Did you ever make the trip to Georgia before you got the car?
T: Yes, we would go on the train.
C: What train was that?
T: I really do not know. I guess it was at different times and I
know, whatever was available because sometimes they were quite
small. There were a lot more trains then taking passengers. We
could take a train and go to Gainesville.
C: From Archer?
T: From Archer and we could go to Ceder Key. A favorite summer trip
was to get on in the morning and go to Cedar Key, spend the day,
and catch it going back to Gainesville in the afternoon and come
C: What did your family do in Ceder Key?
T: Picnic. We would go as a picnic. Sometimes the whole church,
like Sunday school or something, would go and everybody would pay
their own way, but they would always do the same thing and have a
big picnic down there.
C: What was the name of your family church?
T: We were always Methodist and it was the Archer Methodist
C: Growing up in Archer, did you ever become aware of the Yulee
Plantation or the confederate connection to the Yulee Plantation?
T: I heard of it, but I was not interested in history and all of
that. Well, I started getting old and around here, there are
those that at an early age are born historians, I guess. I have
developed it in my later years after I began to realize the
heritage our children had in this one spot.
C: What do you think triggered your interest in history?
T: I do not know. I guess, in the background, I have always loved
family and being with my family. In the place I grew up, I was
able to go by myself. There would be some summers that I would
catch a bus at a point. by the time I was eighteen or
twenty years old. I could get a bus and go to Atlanta. It was
around Columbus. My mother and father both were raised around
Columbus. For many weeks during the summer, we would visit
around among my relatives and not stay at any one place too long
because they were big families. I do not remember how many
brothers and sisters my father had, but there were a lot of them.
My father's oldest sister knew a fellow around Dothan, Alabama,
and raised her family around a little town called Elmer. When
she was around ninety she died and left, at that time, a hundred
descendents. She had children, grandchildren, great-
grandchildren, and all of them. There is no telling how many now
because I was still in school. I am not real sure when she died.
C: Let me ask you about your school. What was the name of the first
school you went to?
T: It was the Archer Elementary School.
C: Do you remember your first day of school?
T: Not specifically. I remember I was very pleased to go and I was
only five years old. My parents had realized that I had bad
eyesight. My mother said she had always noticed I was always
trying to get up further than somebody to see something a little
better, but she had thought it was the child in me. I was young,
you know. My first teacher (and I can not
even remember her name) noticed that my eyes were At
that time, believe it or not, there was not an eye specialist in
Gainesville. There was one doctor, a Dr. Smith, that was an eye,
throat, and nose doctor; but he could not do anything for my
C: So what did you do?
T: They took me Someone told them of a Dr. Hagen [sp?] in
Jacksonville that had gained a reputation for being a good eye
doctor. We would go up one day on a train, spend the night, and
come back the next day. They would take me there. This doctor
fitted me in very heavy glasses. Dr. Smith had said I might need
surgery for my eyes, but he could not fit me in glasses or do
anything. Of course, my parents did not want me in the surgery.
They were scared to death, thank goodness. Dr. Hagen [sp?] told
them they were wise not to because I would have been blinded.
Surgery at that time in my type of eyes just were not heard of.
C: Well, what did you think when you got your first pair of glasses?
How did things go?
T: Well, I could see so much better. I was happy. They were big
thick lenses with great big old frames. Not little gold frames
like I now have.
C: So that was a lot for a child to get used to.
T: They were made of glass. They made them a little heavy, but I
could see so much better so I loved them.
C: Did they get in your way climbing those pine trees?
T: I got so adjusted to them. The only time I remember breaking
them as a child was at school. I was running as fast as I could
around the school building like children do, run and chase. The
child I had been chasing had turned around and was coming from
the other direction and we hit on a corner right good dab in the
face. We ran together and my glasses were smashed and I thought
I had ruined them. But, thank goodness, even though they were
made of glass at that time, they just shattered. I guess reflex
closed my eyes and I did not get any glass in my eyes. I was not
hurt except my feelings and my glasses were broken.
C: Were you a reader? Did you reading?
T: I loved to read after I learned to and later, but I was not an
avid reader; my best friend was. She just loved books and read
much more than I did, but I did like to read.
C: Who was your best friend?
T: Clive Lynis (sp???) and she now lives in Gainesville. She
married __ and we keep in touch.
C: Well, Mrs. Traxler, you finished high school in Archer, is that
right? What did you do after you finished high school?
T: I took teacher exams.
C: Where did you take the exams?
T: In Gainesville. They offered examinations and if you could pass
the examinations with a certain score, you got a first grade
certificate. With another certain score, you got a second grade
certificate. They even gave a third grade certificate.
C: Does that mean to teach third grade?
T: No, it just meant that with third grade you could not teach but
one year and you would have to study up and take the test again.
If you got a second grade certificate you could teach longer.
With the first grade certificate you could teach, I think five
C: Which one did you get?
T: I got the second grade certificate the first time I took it.
Later, I got' a first grade certificate and at the same time I
started going to the university taking classes and going in the
C: Did you commute from Archer to the university?
C: Were you teaching at the time?
T: I got a school out here in Traxler.
C: Now, your first school then...
T: Was at Traxler, a one teacher school. I was eighteen years old.
C: Did your sister teach here first?
T: My sister, Evelyn, had taught here. We had never heard of the
place. At that time there were only two people that ran the
whole county school system. E. R. Simmons was the superintendent
and a Mrs. Maynard (sp) was his secretary.
C: Was this about 1928?
T: Well, no. It was about, well, it may have been about that. My
sister is about two and half to three years younger than I. I
graduated in 1931 from high school. I came down here in 1932-
1933. Those two were still all there were.
C: At the county office, but...
T: At the county office, but each school had trustees, three
trustees that took care of the local school.
C: Who were the trustees then?
T: I am not sure. I think it was Maxie Bell (sp) and Mr. Archie
(?). I believe there were two of them. I do not know that
I even knew the other one.
C: How did you first hear of this job?
T: Well, my sister had been out here and taught, but then she had
gone back to Archer to teach. When I got ready to teach, I
suppose, I am not real sure, but I think I inquired at the county
office if a different school was available. They had remembered
my sister taught out here and that there was an opening.
C: Now, had you been out here when your sister was here?
T: Yes, I had, in that summer between.
C: Do you remember the first time you ever came to Traxler?
T: I remember it was the most crooked and sandiest road I had ever
been on. There were not any paved roads for a long time.
C: What kind of vehicle did you come it?
T: It was a car, but I am not sure of the make exactly.
C: Who brought you?
T: My mother and my sister.
C: So the three of you came?
T: As I remember it, it was just the three of us.
C: And where did you go?
T: Well, everybody met the Traxlers. We had met the Traxlers and
stopped by here and then we went on down to where my sister had
boarded. Mrs. Traxler had a nephew, her brother's son, that
lived right close to the school. My sister boarded with her
(??). I went down and talked with them about staying with them.
C: What was their name?-
T: Maxine Inez Dell. Mrs. Traxler was a Dell and this was her
C: Did you indeed stay at Maxie Dell's house?
T: All week and sometimes I went home for the weekend. Mama would
come and get me and bring me back home on Sundays. Some
weekends; Mrs. Traxler would invite me up to stay with them up
here, which was always a treat. I was real young then and they
had the other daughter Eva which was somewhat older than I was,
but she was kind to me. They had a big Packard car, I think, and
we would ride around a lot. I met a lot of the people by going
around with them. They loved to go almost everyday when Mrs.
Traxler got through with the great big meals she always cooked
because she always had a lot of people to sit around her table.
The man that ran the store was a boarder here. He was Sam
Vaughn. He had a room and stayed in the home as one of the
family. It was up here, you know, and I rather enjoyed
the weekends I stayed here.
C: But the Dell place, where you stayed during the week, was on the
other side of where Interstate 75 is now?
T: Yes. At that time, there was no interstate, of course. It was a
good mile, maybe a little more. It could be walked and I did
C: Is that house still standing?
T: No, it is not. I have a picture of it with ____ in front of it
in my files, but it was torn down and Maxie Dell and Inez' son
built a block house farther back from the road, but on the same
piece of property. At this time, he lives there. It remains
Dell right on.
C: Now, what is his name?
T: Willard Dell.
C: Willard Dell. Now, where is his house on that road?
T: You can see it from the Bellamy Road, but it just sits farther
back up on kind of a little rise.
C: Well, what was Maxie Dell's home like when you stayed in it. How
did it compare to being in the Traxler household?
T: Oh, they were rather poor people considering. Of course,
everybody was poor and had very little money, except people that
were in other businesses. See, Mr. Traxler was a businessman, as
well as, a farmer. He made his money ginning cotton at the
store, as well as on the farm. It started with a little, but he
was a good manager, a good business manager.
C: So he sort of running the community of Traxler, but the Dells
were farmers. Is that how it was?
T: They were farmers. Sometimes they made good and sometimes they
did not have much, but they lived.
C: What kind of crops did they have?
T: Well, at that day and time, the bollweevil had killed the cotton
crop and were planting tobacco for what they called their money
C: Did they have many people working for them?
T: They had a tenant on their farm. Their names were Clark. They
had a lot of children and some girls about my age and I enjoyed
the family. I still know the family and I am still friendly with
C: Who is still living?
T: Frank Clark, their only son, has bought some of the Traxler
C: So that is Mr. Frank Clark. His family lived on the Dell
property when you were boarding with the Dells when you first
taught school on the Bellamy Road. What was the name of the
school on the Bellamy Road?-
T: Spring Hill.
C: Spring Hill. Do:you know how it got that name?
T: Somewhere there was a place. This place was just called Spring
Hill. It seemed like on a hill somewhere there was a spring.
Where that is, I have never known, although, we do have a field
and in one of our fields there is a spring.
C: How long had the school been established when you came to it?
T: I really do not know. But I was the last teacher. [Later on] the
children went into Alachua and mixed and went right into the
classes that I had promoted them to. I was very pleased because
I kept visiting out in here and the Traxler's and they
often invited me out to visit them for a weekend or something. I
kept kind of track of the children and they just went on and did
real well in the school. Even though I had never had actual
training as to how to teach, I was real proud. I did not have
anything to teach with except a book, there was nothing else. I
had a blackboard across the front of the room and some chalk, but
visual aids, recording machines, and all of these things they
C: Can you describe what the school looked like on the outside and
T: It was just one big room and it was just a plain building kind of
like the store is now without the porch. At that time, the store
had a porch, but that school never had a porch.
C: What did the school have for heat?
T: It had a wood heater. In cold weather I would get there and
build a fire to have it warm. Some of the bigger boys...(?) I
taught the first through the sixth grade. At that time, they had
just started. That was the first year, I think, they took the
seventh and eighth grade into Alachua. Buses started taking the
older children to Alachua that year. I had the first through the
sixth. Some of the fifth and sixth grade children were boys and
if they got there, they were good about starting the fire.
C: Do you remember a particular boy who helped you start it?
T: Yes, there was a and an R. C. Holbrook. [sp?] Now
Frank Clark was younger than those boys. He was just in first
grade. He was a very small, little fellow and he had been sickly
a lot, so he was not especially large even for his age. Although
now he is a big strapping man. Some of them would help with the
fire building. We had to get in the wood. We just had a good
time. I do not remember any discipline problems and they were
good children and they were no trouble. They were eager to
C: What time did you have open school in the morning?
T: I do not remember. I think like other schools, 8:30 to about
C: But you had to get there earlier to start a fire. What bathroom
facilities did they have at the schoolhouse?
T: None, no running water, whatever.
C: Was there an outhouse?
T: No outhouse. When the children had to go, the girls went one way
down a path through the woods and the boys went down another path
in the woods.
C: And what did the teacher do?
T: Did the same thing. .There were usually some thickets they could
get behind, but it was no problem. They were used to that kind
of life. I do not remember any kid really acting ugly about it
or showing off.
C: Do you remember what book you used to teach reading?
T: No, I do not. I reckon it was, what is it... Jane...?
C: Dick and Jane. Did the children have parties or special events
T: Yes, sometimes we did. Let me tell you about the water, though,
while we are talking about that. At the back of the school,
there was a shelf for the water bucket and one dipper in it and
from the house of Frank Dell. Frank Dell was Mrs. Traxler's
brother and the father of the man I lived with. That house is
where Charles Emmerson [sp?] now lives. The school was just
across the road from there. One of the older boys would go out
and get a bucket of water (our water), bring it to the school and
set it on that shelf with the dipper in it. Everybody that
wanted water went and drank out of the dipper water.
C: Did they worry about germs in those days?
T: No, I do not know, I do not guess. Maybe I told them in school
that there were such things, but I was not myself. They were
used to it. That is the way they did in their home. Everybody
had a water shelf (that is what it was called) on the backporch.
C: They went and got the water from Frank Dell's house?
T: The well happened to be across the road from the house which was
on the same side of the road as the school, but it was a little
piece to the well. You could see it, but it was not right
outside the door.
C: Was it the school's well or Frank Dell's well?
T: It was Frank Dell's well, but he did object.
C: And his house is the one that Charles and Dale Emmerson live in
T: That is right.
C: Well, let me ask you. I heard that that is the house where John
T: John Bellamy, I think, stayed where Maxie Dell's house, the one I
stayed in, which is just a little ways from Frank Dell's house.
I think it belonged to the man probably. But I think from the
date of the time the Bellamy Road was built it was Mrs. Traxler's
and Frank's father's house. I think they were still children.
C: Now, is this the Maxie Dell house that you stayed in?
C: Was Mrs. Traxler...
T: That was her home as a child.
C: And you think that is the house that Bellamy stayed in?
T: I think so because the Bellamy Road was built in 1824.
C: What did you ever hear about Bellamy or the building of the road?
T: Well, now, Mr. Bellamy was hired to build the road in this
section from Tallahassee to St. Augustine. It was partly built.
They needed slaves. They had slaves in that day and time. I am
not sure about convicts, but he used a lot of, you might call
The dimension of the road was twenty-five feet wide and
they had to cut all the stumps: clear out the trees, and cut all
the stumps. They could not leave any stumps over a certain
height on account of the wagons going over.
C: Did the Maxie Dell's, the people that you stayed with, did they
hand down to you any stories or reports on John Bellamy?
T: Not necessarily. Mrs. Traxler really talked more about things
like that than I did. Some of Dale's [or Dell's ?] kin people in
later life that I would talk with that lived along the road. You
see, there were lots of them, even in south Columbia County. The
Bellamy Road goes and crosses 441 in the southern part of
Columbia County. It ran across the river out here at the natural
bridge. After that it is called Columbia County, but it went on
over across 441 and went up toward Fort White and that way,
C: I have been told that John Bellamy went barefoot and wore a
T: I do not doubt it at all. Most people did do those kinds of
things, but I do not know that I have any kind of information.
C: Where would you suppose the slaves were kept at night?
T: Well, he did not go a long ways like they do now. They went back
to wherever their homeplace was, I suppose...
C: All the way to St. Augustine?
T: No, no. He used [them] as he got to the different plantations,
is the way I understand it.
C: He got local helpers, you mean.
T: It all had to be local. Some kind of transportation, no, no.
There were no roads. This was the first. They just followed
Indian trails through the woods. If they were on a wagon, they
had to have an axe. If they got into too big of a thicket, they
would have to clean it themselves as they went along.
C: Speaking of the Indian trails. Did you ever hear any stories
about Indians around here?
T: Oh, yes. There were plenty. You see, the Dells lived here in
the very earliest 1800s and maybe the late 1700s.
C: What did they tell you about the Indians?
T: Well, different ones, I am not sure who told what, but
information I have had.... Well, one thing that Mrs. Traxler
[gave as] a story. Dale's [sp?] grandmother, Mrs. Traxler's
mother was married, of course, to Mr. Simeon Dell. Simeon Dell,
Mrs. Traxler's father, had a son also called Simeon Dell. He was
the father of Maxie.
C: He was the one you stayed with.
T: Yes...and Daisy and all that crew.
C: Well, what had been their experience with Indians?
T: The story is that the first house that was there, was a log
house. That was not the house I stayed in. The house I stayed
in was a rather nice house for that time and it was made out of
lumber. Boards, like they made houses out of later. They had a
log house and Indians used to come up there and just walk around
the house and peep in the cracks if they could find a crack in
the wall. If they were mad with them--some of them were good
Indians, some were friendly. But, if these were mad at them,
they would want the men to come out and fight. They would call
them, "Old woman, old woman, come out and fight". It seems like
that is what they would like to call them, because it would make
the men furious.
C: Well, where did you hear that interesting detail?
T: It came down, I think, from Dale's grandmother. Dale's
grandmother lived with them at the Traxler home when he was a
little boy and she, at night, (they did not have television to
look at), they would gather in grandmama's room and she would
tell them stories. Then it just comes on down. I believe Dale
told me that. It was coming from his grandmother Dell, which
later after Mr. Dell died, she married a but Dell was the
father of all of her children.
C: So she said the Indians called them old woman? Did any of the
Dells ever go out and fight?
T: The women would not let them. They wanted to,or made like they
wanted to, but they knew they would put an arrow through them at
the time they went out. So they would keep them in somehow and
finally they would go away. Often, if they were really mad and
on the warpath, they would set the houses afire. But I never
heard of that happening right through here. It did happen,
C: What peaceful interactions did they ever have?
T: Well, I have got one more story that was not so peaceful and then
I will talk about some of the other things. The women tell a
story about there was a pond right down there close to that
house. The pond is still there.
C: Close to Maxie Dell's?
T: Yes, that is the area where Simeon Dell had lived. Simeon Dell
and his wife, Anna Elizabeth Sanders Dell are buried in the
cemetery. No, they are buried in the old Dell cemetery. I am
sorry, Anna Elizabeth was not Simeon's wife. That was Myna
Warren (sp) that is Mrs. Traxler's mother. Anna Elizabeth was
Mr. Traxler's mother. It is Mr. Traxler's parents that are
buried in this cemetery and Mrs. Traxler's parents are buried in
the old Dell cemetery up on the I think that is correct.
But, anyway, the women, one day when everything was quiet and
peaceful, took their quilts to the pond and were washing them.
This was customary to do every now and then. The Indians came
and took all of their quilts away. I do not think there were any
of them hurt.
C: They took their quilts?
C: Why do you think they took their quilts?
T: For their own use.
C: Those quilts, do you think those were the pieced quilts that had
so much work in them?
T: Probably. That is what they did. They had plenty of time. You
could not get in the car and go to Gainesville and Jacksonville.
The only way people could travel was by horseback or wagon.
C: Now, whose quilts did they take?
T: It was from the Dell family. I do not remember the names...
C: What were the women's reactions? I mean did they take them out
of their hands? Were they up on the bank?
T: Well, I guess they just wanted them and the women ran to the
house for safety and left it to them. I really do not-know those
C: It would be hard to run and carry a wet quilt, would it not?
T: Well, they would never have made it, of course. It was not right
at the house. It was not far, but it was across the road a
C: Do you think that was before 1800?O
T: Oh, or the early 1800s, I am not sure. The Indians were here on
up until, I would say, 1850 or 1860.
C: Well, I think the federal government tried to move them about
1842, but my impression is that there were still remnants of
Seminoles that were in this area.
T: Yes. In the 1840s, I am sure there were some. 1842 was when the
C: Well, I know they had a big war out at Newnansville, I reckon you
know that. They had a fort out there. After that was when
Newnansville was changed. Newnansville, you know, was called
Dell before Newnansville. Up until that time, it had been called
Dell's Place or just plain Dell. I do have an old map that has
it marked Dell when it was marked Dell.
C: Mrs. Traxler, my granddaddy's used to tell a story about
an Indian coming in the cold and asking for something to eat.
Now, he grew up in Island Grove. Do you think that the Indians
that stayed here gradually did without more and more?
T: Could have, I am really do not know those details at all. I do
know some of them were friendly. They got along fine with us,
but others they did not trust. There were some of the circuit
riders--preachers, you know--that are in the history of the
churches and the church literature about some of the preachers
C: Oh, I thought you were going to say the preachers converted them.
T: Well, that probably happened occasionally, too.
C: Now, were you going to tell me about a peaceful meeting
T: I do not know of any particular one, but the stories go that
there were peaceful Indians around, that would come and be
friendly and they could deal with them in a friendly way. They
were not all bad. But the others; they were very afraid of and
there were a lot of squirmishes before the big old wars.
C: Well, you know, people like the Indians who are different from us
and have a different culture, are sort of mysterious. You
mention the Indians, but then I know you know something about
gypsies. When did the gypsies start to come through here, do you
T: Well, now gypsies are not Indians. They have a different
heritage from some country on the old seas. (I forget, I have
not read the gypsy heritage where they originated.)
C: Were there gypsies here before you married?
T: Oh, yes.
C: What is your earliest memory of the gypsies?
T: They came through Archer when I was a little girl. They would
come in covered wagons and camp. There would be lots of them.
They would camp out on the edge of town. They would have all of
their trinkets. Of course everybody was curious about the
gypsies. They would dress in their gay clothes and colorful
clothes and big full skirts and they would do little
entertainments of whatever, little dances and things. They would
have things to sell. Everybody watched them like a hawk because
they would steal, and they actually did steal. Some people say,
"Oh, they were good people, they did not steal." But they did.
Like livestock would go missing and chickens and in the stores
and things like that. They were very, very quick.
C: The rumor I heard was that they would steal children.
T: Well, I never heard of them stealing a child, but I would hear
those rumors and that is what the parents would tell the
children--"They might take you with them."
C: Well, they wanted to keep you away from them.
T: Oh, I know, my parents would not let us go out there unless they
went with us.
C: What was the most colorful incident of gypsies at Traxlers?
T: Well, I do not remember seeing them, only when we would go out
there. It was just like a free circus almost. They would be
around their camp. We would just watch them. They would do a
lot of their cooking out over the open fire.
C: Now, where was the camp?
T: Right at the edge of Archer or just out in the woods, out in the
opposite direction. Now, right through Traxler here, they came
and camped right back of our old gin area. There was a little
pond there and that is where they camped.
C: Was that on your property?
T: Yes, it was on Traxler property. It was a family of Kelley's [?]
that would come by every year and got friendly with the Traxlers.
Mrs. Traxler, she trusted them some how or another, (she was a
loving, christian soul.) They were friendly and if they stole
from the Traxlers, I do not know it. But they dealt with the
store and were camped there for a good little while at that pond.
I guess there would be a faucet of water. They did have running
water at the mill. I do not know whether they came up and used
that or not.
C: Now, was this during the time you were teaching or before you ..
T: They came after I was teaching and there is a grave down in this
cemetery right at the end on this side where some of them are
buried. One of them died while they were out here and Mrs.
Traxler and them told them they could bury out there. At that
day and time, whatever the Traxler's said, seemed like went
because there was no telephone to call anybody else and people
were far apart, you know. She told them to bury back here where
there were not many graves at this end of the cemetery. Some of
that particular family still come back here and bury since Mrs.
Traxler and Eva were away, they both died, I think, they came
here to this house to bury. They were going to bring back a
member of their clan that was buried out here that wanted to be
brought back to this cemetery, to be buried by, I guess it was a
mate or something.
C: A maid?
T: A mate! A husband or wife. They asked me if they could bury
there. By this time we have a system. The trustees have to give
permission, you know, to bury there. I would not take that
authority. Mrs. Traxler, as long as she lived, if she said it
was all right, it was all right. But I would not have said it.
It is run by a different group, now, and it is not right. I want
it to be like that. I was the one that suggested doing something
about it. I gave them the phone numbers of some of the trustees,
but I did tell them, "Where you had your own plot, they would
always let you bring people back and bury on that lot. Anyway,
permission was given and I asked him who was the undertaker and
this particular man'thatI' was talking with was from Jacksonville
and he was dressed to the top and had a car like, as long as I do
not know what, I am not sure of the make because I did not go out
to it. He showed signs of wealth. He just right off said they
were gypsies and did not mind talking about it. I told him how
they used to come out here in their caravans and he said they
still did, but instead of going in covered wagons, they went in
mobile homes. Every year they took a trip that they all went in
mobile homes and probably stay in motels and all. Well, they
stayed in their mobile homes, I guess.
C: Have you known any of them recently?
T: Yes, not too many years ago they brought somebody back. When I
asked them who their undertaker was, they said it was not local,
they had their own undertaker. So I did not know exactly when
the funeral was and I asked him, "Are other people invited to
your funerals or is it private?" They said, "We do not care who
comes". But, they did not give out information and I am not sure
just when they brought the body back, but it was buried out here.
I was not outside to see anything at the time, but one that
belongs to that clan lives in Alachua now and was with this man
from Jacksonville. I think he was taken aback when the man said
they were gypsies because he laughed and said, "Well, I do not
think people around Alachua know I am a gypsy" and his name is
Kelly and he lives now in Alachua.
C: Does he live in the old Dr. Bishop house?
T: I think so. His wife works in the post office and is a very
sweet person, seems to me. When Dale died, she sent me a card.
C: What is your impression of the difference in the gypsy culture
and the culture of people living here.
T: It is different. They are still clannish, like take care of
their own. They have their undertakers and, I presume, maybe
doctors and lawyers, I am not sure. But they make a lot of
money, some how and they, I suppose, are rich. The time they
came here I told them that we were trying to get support from the
people that buried in the cemetery by having a trust and we would
appreciate a donation because we do not sell lots. It is church
property and you give a donation when you bury out there. I was
hoping he would write a big check and give to somebody, but they
did not do it. Since then, I saw one of them visiting that lot.
I happened to come by and I stopped and walked on out there.
When they saw me coming, a girl--she was dressed very gypsyish in
a big flowing colorful skirt--came out of the woods where they
used to camp. He told me his wife had been over there looking at
the old campground. I do not know what she
found over there. Well, it is not much more than a sinkhole now.
C: Now, was that at the time of that last burial?
T: Since the last burial. It was just two or three years ago, now.
C: Well, maybe she had come there as a child.
T: I think so, I think this man said he had. Well, it had grown up
around that back fence row very much and it did not get cleared
out. He mentioned the fact that it needed cleaning. I said,
"You are welcome help to keeping it clean and if you will come
clean it or give us some money, we will have it cleaned". So he
did send $50.00. I had the back fence row cleaned out. They did
a pretty well job of cleaning it, not as good as if they would
have given more, but, anyway, that is what he sent. As far as I
know, that is all the donation that has been sent. He gave me
his business card. He was in business in South Georgia. How
often they visit there, I do not know, but I just happened to
find out at that time when he was visiting. They had a little
child with them and that woman had carried the little child I
reckon Now, I do not know about the gypsies of nowadays,
but you read in the paper and they are around. Merchants in
stores and homes are very careful because they are so cunning and
so slick. They can rob you right before your eyes and you will
never know it. I have two instances that were told to me
recently. A lady told me that someone she knew very close had
told here that she went into her house one day. It had just been
left open while she was right in the neighborhood and this lady
was walking down the stairs in her house. She apologized and
said, "I guess I am in the wrong house. I was hunting (a certain
place nearby) and I thought this was the place, but I guess I was
in the wrong place". She said she was a nice looking woman and
she let her get on out and gone without...it was just so quick
and she was talking so nice and explaining until she just did not
think that she had been robbed. Later, I think she missed some
C: Where was this?
T: I am not sure. It was around the city, it was not right in this
area, but that was heresay that someone had told me about. I
read in the paper where the merchants and police were warning
people to watch (out for them). What they would do would be
several of them go into a store at one time and one or two of
them would cause a ruckus over in one area and while people were
looking over in that area......
THE TAPE RUNS OUT HERE. CONTINUING WITH TAPE 2...
C: When we quit talking a while ago, I had a question on the tip of
T: I turned it over. I hope it is not stuck.
C: Do you want me to look at it Mrs. Traxler? I love this machine.
I think it is not moving.
T: The light came on. Has it started moving? Sometimes it is slow.
C: When I was a child, there were migrant families that used to come
to this area. I remember there was a girl (I can not remember
her name right now) that I liked and every spring she would be in
my school for a few weeks and then she would go away and she
would come back again a few weeks later. Do we still have
families that in the community here?
T: No, I do not know any in this community, but there are migrant
families that follow the gathering of fruit and vegetables from
south Florida all the way north. I believe, when I taught
school, I had one child like that when I was teaching in the
Alachua School. I am not sure what year it was.
C: Was it a girl?
T: She was a fourth grade girl, I believe, the year I taught her.
C: Well, the girl I am thinking about was blind in one eye and had
T: Well, I do not recall that she was blind. I believe it was the
year when I was teaching fourth grade. It had to have been
around 1970. Anyway, I remember that she was just going to be
-there a while and she would talk about migrating from place to
place and how they would travel like that. So many of them,
though, are Mexicans and things like that. This girl seemed to
be American. Now, in the very early days here, people would come
down in horse and wagon and they might stay a while then go back.
In fact, Dale's grandfather did that. He first came down here
and he was a single man and he came from a very prominent family
in Greenville, South Carolina.
C: Now, this is grandfather Dale?
T: Grandfather Traxler, Dale's father's father. He stayed here a
while and married down here a girl. He went back to
South Carolina. His family had property up there. They had,
maybe, a child up there, I am not sure. But anyway, they came
back to Florida and settled .across the bridge, which was the
southern part of Columbia County, in 1850s. That was where
Dale's father was born. I think he was born in 1857, W. H.
Traxler. He was one of the older children. But Dale has told me
this story as was told to him about his father coming with small
children from up there. That is what they did. In that day and
time, you did not go too far on a horse and wagon. There were
not hotels. There were no places at all to buy food [already]
prepared. You could stop at a grocery store, if you found one,
and buy cheese and crackers and some things like that. But they
would bring things that they could cook on their bonfire like
people had to do a long time ago or food that did not spoil,
which included just purely milk and water for cornbread. They
called them corn frogs. (?) But, it would keep them alive. They
could eat that maybe if they had dry beans or peas boiled over or
some cured meat or something that they could cook over the fire.
They would set up camp and I guess they just slept out in the
woods. Maybe they had the quilts and things to sleep on. There
was not any such thing as the sleeping bags they have now days.
Nearly always they would go to a farm house of some earlier
settler where they could have access to water or else...
C: Do you mean an abandoned farmhouse?
T: No, with people. In that day and time, the settlers that were
already here were not afraid of people who came by that they were
going to rob them and kill them like all of the things that we
are afraid of today. We are afraid to let a stranger in our
house today, but they would welcome them because they would bring
news of what was going on in the outside world and they loved to
have company. It was a break for them to have somebody.
C: Who was here first? The Traxlers or the Dells?
T: The Dells were here many years before the Traxlers. The Dells
were here in the 1700s...some of them.
C: And did they not have slaves?
T: The Dells had slaves and plantations.
C: What do you know about their slaves? How many did they have?
T: Not very much. I do know they had them.
C: Do you know if there are any black families living here today
that extended from the Dell slaves?
T: Not that I know of. I have never met any that said anything
about it. I have not heard particularly anything about them.
C: If you met a black person whose name is Dell, would you not think
that that person's grandfather had maybe taken his owner's name?
T: Probably, but I d' not know that I ever met any.
C: Who are the black families around here that you could name that
have been here the longest?'
T: I am not sure. I do know two families, a black one and a white
one, that have the same name.
C: Which one is that?
T: Now, maybe I better now call them since this is being recorded
because I do not know. But there are two prominent families,
very good people, that Dale says when they came and settled in
this area, they brought a black family whose children were named
Lewis along and they were on the farm as well as the white
family. Now whether they were from the slave category or what, I
do not know. I guess it was the thing to do; to take their
C: Well, I think over here in Damascus or Ike Taylor's (sp) cemetery
(that is a black cemetery) there are a number of grave stones
with the name Lewis on them. What was the other name you were
T: Well, you have not heard of any other of where they were first
white and black families around?
C: I probably have seen it in the cemetery, but it does not come to
mind right now.
T: Well, we had a black family that was neighbors out in here that's
name was Shauver (?)
C: Oh, that is right...
T: But, you know, I can not say because I really do not know whether
there are any connections. Dale said that they would bring them,
(the colored families), and they were well treated, well taken
care of families, but they worked. They were the ones that did
the work on the farm.
C: When you came here in the early thirties, were there more black
families living in this rural area than there are now?
T: Well, yes, and I guess it is well known, down in history at
least, that after the civil war, the government, right
immediately there were some black elected officials and things
like that in rather prominent positions. They also gave
farmland, 160 acres, and provided probably low interest or just
almost gave them money to build them a house.
C: How did the government get the land to give to the black
T: Well, I think all the land had been claimed by that time. I
really do not know how it came and whether they bought it from
white people or whether at the time of the war it was taken from
them, I really do not know. I know in this area, several black
families got those government houses. They did farm for a few
years--as long as the government was pouring money to them--and
then as soon as they could, they sold them and they had not paid
hardly anything for them. But it seemed to be theirs in their
name and they could sell them. When I first came out here
there were a lot of black families around. Most of
them, most all of them, have sold their land and homes to white
people. And, as the expression that black people say goes, they
put the money in their pocket. "Put that land in their pocket",
they say. I guess, they go through with it and some of them even
went back to working for families that they had worked for
C:' Well, when you came out here in the thirties, the school that the
black children attended was Sugar Hill, was it not?
T: It was that and it was in Asbury (sp) Church. I am not sure
whether there was an Asbury school or not.
C: What is Asbury Church?
T: It is not operating any more and I do not think the building is
even standing there.
C: Was it a black church?
T: It was opened here joining some property Dale owned on the old
road, on the other side of the interstate now, going into High
Srpings. But it was on the road that everybody traveled going
into High Springs.
C: Mrs. Traxler, you have seen a lot of change. What are some of
the most positive interactions you have seen between blacks and
T: Well, as far as I know, there have never been a whole lot of
hostility in the area. The families that I knew, I know the
Traxlers, of course they were the ones I knew the best, they had
a lot of tenant houses. White people lived in some of them.
Well, the Traxler farm was called a plantation when I first moved
into the family because I remember the census taker coming around
taking census after I was in the family and they classified it by
having many tenant houses and as much acreage as they had and the
tenant houses on the place, that people were still living in
them. Some were black and some were white. They still
classified as a plantation. Since then it has been subdivided
and subdivided again and a lot of the tenant houses have fallen.
Not all, but a lot of them have. Some of the others have someone
living in them.
C: Did there used to be a row of tenant houses on the far edge of
what is now Lou Hendrick's (?) property?
T: There probably was. I am not familiar with that.
C: Tell me this, when you'came here where did people in this area
vote? Where was your voting precinct?
T: I am not sure. After I registered to vote, I have always voted
in Alachua, but it could have been in High Springs sometimes. I
did not vote when I first came out here because my property had
not been put in my name. It was not too long until Dale had my
name added to his property and put on what property he had. I
did not ask him to do it, he just did it. Then, of course, I
could vote because I was a property owner.
C: Well, let us zero in on this personal history. In 1930 what, you
T: In 1932.
C: And when did you and Dale Traxler marry?
C: So, did you teach here for five years?
T: No, I only taught for one year. I went back to Archer and taught
for four years.
C: Well, when did you hear from Mr. Traxler, then?
T: We kept in touch. Although, when I first met him, I was only
eighteen and he was twelve years older than I was. I was always
attracted to him and I did not realize or think about him being a
sweetheart. He had a convertible, I just thought he was
a handsome, striking young fellow. I did not notice that he paid
too much attention to me, but there were others, later, that told
me he did. He did go down to where I was boarding quite a few
times, but they were relatives and I thought he was just in the
habit of going down there visiting, you know. He did not
actually ask me for dates at that time. I said I had to grow up.
Later, Mrs. Traxler and his sister Eva would invite me out to
here occasionally for a weekend and it just kind of grew. He
started taking me places and calling around to me to come down to
C: So you came to Archer then?
T: Oh, yes, we came to Archer.
C: You taught school here one year and then what did you do the
T: I believe there was one year that I did not teach anywhere
because this school closed and it was one year that they had...
C: The Spring Hill school closed?
T: Yes, and it was one year that they had a nursery school in Archer
and I helped with that. I did work with small children at a
nursery school for pay, but it was not at a public school. But I
continued taking courses at the university and then I taught for
four years in Archer before we married.
C: Did you have drive to Gainesville from Archer to take your
T: Yes, but usually there would be quite a few of us going in a car
together and there were other people. That is the way everybody
was getting, or I should say a lot of people, especially
teachers, were getting their education. There were very few that
already had their degrees when they started teaching.
C: Well, the university had not been open to women very long at that
time, had it?
T: No, I am not sure just when and it was not crowded [or] large
like it is now.
C: Who was the principal when you taught over at Alachua?
T: I taught under Minister Wetherington (?) and E. U. Jones and a
C: What year were you and Mr. Traxler married?
T: In 1937.
C: And then where did you move to?
T: Well, when we first married for a few years we lived with his
mother and sister. We lived in all of these houses after Sam
died, we lived in the little house.
C: Sam Vaughn?
T: Yes, and he died in the early 1940s and I think Dale
really thought that he would inherit the homeplace. He was not
in any hurry to build because his mother was quite old. She
lived to be eighty-six. Then we found out that Eva wanted the
homeplace. Since she wanted it, he was not going to say anything
about wanting it himself, so we built this house and moved over
here. We still stayed close by and he really saw after his
C: When did his mother die?
T: She died in 1950.
C: Tell me again her whole name?
T: She was Mary Lela Dell [sp?] and married William Henry Traxler.
C: One question I Wanted to ask you about names: how did this area
out here get named Bland. I know how this area got the name
Traxler, but where did the name Bland come from?
T: I am not real sure, except that I do know it was a big farmer
over there was a Mr. Matthews (?): Matthews. His wife's
maiden name was Bland and they had a son named Bland. I have
heard that is where Bland came from. That Mrs. Matthews maiden
name was Bland. But, you will have to ask some of them over in
there, I am not sure.
C: Did Camp Blanding get named from the same?
T: I have no idea and I am not sure of that statement. That is
heresay, but I do know that they have a son named Bland that was
killed, I believe, thrown from a horse. I heard with a
horse, he loved to ride horseback.
C: Of course, I am sure you remember your wedding. When were you
T: We just went to the preacher's home and were married.
C: And so then Mr. Traxler brought you home to his parents home.
What was that ...
T: His father was dead. I never did meet his father, but his mother
and Eva were living
C: Well, what was that like? The day that you came to live in the
T: Oh, well, I knew them real well and they seemed to like me. I
was well recieved.
C: So you were comfortable with that?
T: I think so.
C: Did you do anything special to commemorate the day?
T: Well, we went somewhere It was later, after he was in
his truck. For our honeymoon, we went to Pike's Peak, Colorado.
C: Oh, that was a way.
T: But, it was not those next few days. It was a while.
C: Had you already met people like May Vaughn before you married?
T: Yes, yes. The Park family that lived on Maxie's place that had
those older girls that I... they were cousins to May Vaughn. I
remember going over to May Vaughn's house to a cane grinding. In
that day and time, cane grinding was entertainment. People would
go and drink juice and chew cane and do whatever young people did
in that day and time. They would play games and ...
C: Did you go to a cane grinding at May Vaughn's when you were a
teacher at Spring Hill?
C: Who invited you?
T: Well, I went with her cousins, the Park [?] girls. I do not know
that I had a specific invitation, but that is who I went with.
C: Had you been to cane grindings before?
T: Yes, I had been to some in my home town, Archer, you know. All
young people who were rural connected, that was one of the things
that they would do for entertainment.
C: Now, this was at May Vaughn's house where she still lives today?
T: Yes, where she still lives.
C: Did they have a mule grinding the cane?
T: Yes, like we have over here. The same thing.
C: And then they bottled the syrup? Did you get to eat any syrup or
just drink cane juice that night?
T:. Well, we just drank the cane juice, although at other times, I
have been to them where they would cook some up to syrup candy.
Did you ever pull syrup candy fresh made?
T: That was one of the things that would go on sometimes at cane
grindings. They would cook the syrup and they knew and I have
known, (one time I made it myself), just to have the consistency,
just when it was right to take it out. They would put it in a
big platter or somewhere for it to cool a little bit. You would
pour it out and as it began to get cool enough, it would start
holding shape and form. You would pick it up and just take a big
ball of it in your hand. It would be kind of like biscuit dough.
Not exactly like it, but you could shape it and handle it and
work with it. A boy and a girl usually teamed up together. It
could be two boys or two girls, but usually it was a boy and a
girl and one would take one piece of that candy and the other
would take the other end and they would pull it and make a long
rope out of it. You had to be careful that you did not drop it.
They would pull that as long as it would pull and when it got
cold it would get too hard to pull, then you would stretch it out
and make a long whip like thing out of it. A long stream like..
C: Like licorice?
T: Like licorice, that is a good way of expressing it. Then take a
knife before it got too hard and cut it in pieces for if you
wanted just bite sized pieces or if you wanted stick pieces a
little longer like a stick of candy. It was delicious. I purely
loved the taste of the candy.
C: And what kind of pulling was that called?
T: Just a candy pulling.
C: Who did you pull with, do you remember?
T: I do not remember the particular names. I did have a boyfriend
when I was out here, but it was not Dale. I remember one
particular weekend, Mrs. Traxler invited me up here for the
weekend and I was dating this boy. He was coming to Mrs.
Traxler's to see me. It was cold and I had bought a new dress
that was short sleeved and not too low necked. They did not wear
them as low necked then as they do now, but it was a kind of
dressy dress and short sleeves. Late that afternoon, Mrs.
Traxler told Dale to put some wood in the living room because I
was going to have company and Dale said, "Let that old boy that
is going to sit up with her get the wood." I never have
forgotten it. As I said, I kind of liked Dale but I was not
thinking about courting him because I thought he was too old at
that day and time. That is one thing that I remember. I guess
that I ought not to be tattling on him...
C: That is some evidence of his paying attention to you...
T: I came out dressed that night and I had on the short sleeved
dress and he told me to go back and change my dress because I was
going to take cold in that dress and I better put on a long
sleeve. But I did not do that. I kept on what I had.
C: Well, are you going to tell me who the boy was that you ....
T: No, I am not going to tell you because he lived here and raised a
family even. I do not know. He is not living anymore. I went
with him quite a bit out here. That is long past and gone.
C: Well, it does not hurt to reminisce.
T: He was a nice boy, though. It was a good family of boys that
were farming out here and later moved to High Springs and some of
the family still lives there.
C: Now, when you married and came here, were the roads any better
than when you came to teach?
T: Not much, they might have been a little better, but they were not
paved roads and they were not even grated up with lime rock on
them for a while.
C: What was it like to ride in an early car out here?
T: Well, it was kind of rough riding and the sand was deep and
people often got stuck in the deep sand, if they happened to get
out of the ruts. In other words, if you met a car coming from
the other way and you had to share the road and get off, you
might get stuck over in the sand. Then there were the clay
hills. Some of these hills have clay under them; this one right
out here did. In wet weather, those clay hills were slippery as
glass and you would slide all over them going up and down. If
you went up and down them a lot and made ruts, they would get
sticky, too. So, you would slide right off in the ditch which
often happened. I remember one year the school bus went off in
C: Sounds to me like the horse and buggy would be safer for these
T: Well, when people got cars, they were mighty glad to have them.
They were faster. I remember when I had a little child, I got
stuck in the sand down near where Thelma Washington's parents
lived and her daddy was one of the ones that came to help me get
out of that sand bed. I always thought what a good man he was.
I have respected that family ever since. They were a family that
held on to the property they got. How they originally got their
property, I am not sure.
C: Now, Thelma Washington's father was who?
T: He was Gus Washington's brother from that family over around the
Newell [?] church. That is this country church out here
T: I believe that is the one Thelma is in and I think she is in the
choir. She might want to go with the choir group.
C: I have been talking with her.
T: Tomorrow, you want to call her tomorrow
C: I will probably call her tonight when I get home.
T: She is going to go to work, I think, this afternoon.
C: I may not call her until Thursday because I have to be in
Gainesville tomorrow. Let me ask you something. When you came
out here in the thirties, Sugar Hill, which became was
still in operation. Was there not a road gang prison out in this
T: I do not know anything about that. One thing about Bellamy, he
did stay at the Dell's, but I think it was Sim Dell's house,
which was down about a mile; down near where Charles now lives.
That was his son that lived there where Charles lived. That is
where he boarded and later on when he got over in Columbia
County, I am not sure where he stayed, but he would store his
tools and things in a shed over there. But he built a building
which after the road was built, he gave that building to a group
over there that was holding church services, when the circuit
preachers would come around, in'a home or under an arbor or tree
or anywhere they could get. But he gave them that tool shed and
that was the first church, which is now Tuscanuggee (sp) church
which I believe is a little older than Spring Hills' church.
C: Tuscanuggee, and is it still there?
T: It is still going as a church now.
C: Is it in Columbia Town?
T: Yes, just off of 441, not too far north of High Springs. It was
on the old Bellamy Road. The Bellamy Road went on across 441 and
went on through that area. It was some of the Dell kin that
lived there. It was one of them that told me that when Bellamy
got through with the tool shed, he gave it to the people to hold
their church services in. It was later that they built the
Tuscanuggee Church there.
C: Mrs. Traxler, when you came here to live in 1937, was Traxler
still at the height of its bustling activity or had things begun
to slow down here? It was after cotton.
T: Tobacco was coming in and it was an active farm-place, but Mr.
Traxler had died in 1928....
[side ends and picks up in mid-sentence on other side]
T: ...and the store kept going. Sam Vaughn lived for maybe a half a
dozen years, until the early forties, before he died. But the
store stayed open. He helped Mrs. Traxler manage what farming
C: Was the grist mill still in use?
T: They all kept the grist mill going just one or two days a week.
We usually ground on Saturday and then people still brought their
corn up for that. [That was] only until the late 1940s.
C: When you moved here what was your source of water?
T: In Mr. Traxler's lifetime and in the heyday of all of his big
business--which was a big business; people came from miles around
to bale their cotton and sell their cotton. He credited people
and they paid him and,- at times, buy a lot more supplies. At
times he would have, they tell me, five and six clerks working at
one time in that store. Every year he went on to New York and
Baltimore, sometimes Boston, and down to Savannah. Many times,
most of the time, he went on the flight line [?] boats. They
would run a circuit and they would stop at the ports all along
between here and New York. You could catch it at Jacksonville or
Savannah, I suppose.
C: And those were buying trips for the commissary?
T: He would go up there and meet the producers of the things he
needed to buy, get acquainted with who made farm equipment, and
the old organ for the church and probably the piano there, I am
not sure. Then.he would take orders--he would have these old
catalogs in the store and he would order for people--for farm
equipment or even special clothing of any kind. He could order
from these houses that he had visited and had become acquainted
with and had credit with.
C: Was there a post office right here?
C: Was it in the commissary?
T: Yes, it was in the commissary. It was named Traxler and he was
the postmaster. I will be back in just a minute. I know right
where I can get my hands on something. People would come here
to get their mail and there is a slot in the door of that old
store now where if it was not open and somebody wanted to mail a
letter, they would stick it in that slot up there. Those are
just some records that he had. You can tear a sheet out of that
if you want it, for any reason.
C: Well I think it is real interesting, if you do not mind I will
just, you mean one little piece or this whole page?
T: You can take, is not it several pages there?
C: Yes, you got a lot of them. Oh, this is what I want to ask you
about H. F. Dutton [sp?] and Company.
T: All right.
C: What I wanted to ask is the people from around here brought the
cotton here to be ginned. Now, did they sell their cotton to Mr.
Traxler and then he marketed it?
C: And Dutton was one of the main people he sold to?
T: Probably. This is Butland Stevens, and I gave Mr. Baker some of
the ones I had gotten up, he sold Sea Island cotton and this was
one of the people that bought it. They would take it, and
sometime I think it was on consignment and sell it in different
ways. But then they had their way of doing and that is what they
would do. They were cotton traders, they call it.
C: Now is this showing a price of forty-three dollars and seven
T: I suppose, I do not anymore about.....
C: For ninety-eight pounds. So that is about fifty-cents a pound
they were getting.
T: They had a scale, they always weighed it. Then they would take
it and put it in one big two story house over there and then from
the top floor of that house....
C: You mean the top of the cotton gin.
T: Well it is not the one that is standing now. It was a separate
building that is now gone, but it was two story and some how they
got the cotton on up there after it was picked. And they did a
process of some kind there--cleaned it or something, I am not
sure. Then they had a little trolley-like thing with the track
from up stairs of that building to the up stairs of the gin
C: Did they ever have any accidents or anybody get hurt in that
operation over there?
T: I never heard of any if they did. It could have happened but I
have not heard.
C: Well, there was a well there by the cotton gin, is that right?
T: Yes, and you asked about the water and I do not think I finished
telling you that. Mr. Traxler had his own water system. It was
a big steam engine at one time, but they had a pump that pumped
the water, I suppose, and ran the gins and all of that. And they
had a big tank that they would descend it from the up stairs of
this two story building which has gone over to the gin house.
That little trolley on a peace of track that is upstairs over in
the gin house now. So we did not have pictures of things like
that but as it happened I found a snap shoot, this is Mary when
she was a small child. See how well cleaned out it is? This was
in the yard of that little house there and here is the big water
tank which served the Traxler house. It had bathrooms and
running water and everything. Also the little house had running
water in the bathroom, flushable toilet, and all. Then this long
building here, that is gone now, they after the cotton was baled
they would store it under here before it was sent off to market.
C: When it was sent to market was it taken into Alachua to the
T: To High Springs, that was the big place.
C: What was the nearest cotton gin to this one here at Traxler?
T: I do not know from here. Now before this one, they baled at
O'leno [sp?]. It thrived in the 1870s and 1880s. This ones big
day was in the late 1880s and early 1890s and on up to, I would
say, maybe 1920 was the years. Back probably thirty, thirty-
five, or forty years is the period of time Mr. Traxler was going
C: When you married and came here was there electricity here yet?
T: They generated their own electricity. That was another thing.
They had a house out back of the home there which they called the
engine house. I have a record somewhere where I believe they
said it was about twenty-five batteries of some kind that ran a
Delco plant. It generated the electricity and they had electric
lights that they ran over to the store and all, and I guess they
had them down at the gin if they needed them at night, I do not
C: It sounds like Mr. Traxler was very forward looking.
T: Yes, he was. And Dale had a lot to do with getting REA out
here. You would be surprised.
C: That is Rural Electric,...
T: Yes that is the Rural Electric that the government sponsored.
C: How did he get it out here?
T: Well, you had to get the people interested in wanting it the
first thing. And you would be surprised how hard that was.
C: When was this?
T: I am not sure of the year, but it was after we were married for
several years. Dale, of course, wanted it very much and a few
others did. He would ride this country over talking to farmers
trying to get them to sign up that they would take electricity if
it was put out here.
C: Well why could not Dale continue to generate electricity the way
his father had?
T: Well he could, and was, but it was a lot of trouble and he just
thought that this would be so much better. You know it was all.,
If anything broke down he was the only one to fix it, and things
would get old. I guess it was real inefficient. Their
refrigerator did not run on it. I do not know whether it just
did not give off that much power.
C: Did the government require that a certain number of families
would buy the electricity before they would put the lines up?
T: Yes, if they could get that much interest in it.
C: What was the first electric contraption that you all got after
electricity was put out here?
T: Well, I imagine it was the refrigerator. Now Mrs. Traxler and
them had what seemed to be an electric refrigerator--I mean it
kept things cold it made ice and things like that--but the way
they ran it was with kerosene burners and they had to put water
in it. There was a container at the top of that old
refrigerator--I wish we had it, I have no idea where it got off
to--they had to poor water up there every night and put a pan
underneath it with its vivid cycle of generating ice and keeping
it cold it leave drippage under the refrigerator. And they would
have to watch that pan empty it when it would get full, or it
would run all over the floor. You had to remember to fill the
kerosene for the burns to run so many hours.
C: How did that work that a burner caused the refrigerator to get
T: It would generate heat that generated a kind of electricity, I
guess, of some type. I do not understand how it works but
apparently there at the bottom were two burners that they pulled
out. Then they would push them back under there.
C: Did they kept meats and things in it?
T: They kept meats and things, but it was not as efficient as now-a-
C: Did they still cure meat and hang it in a smoke house?
T: They did and then they got the cold storage places that you could
take it to and they would smoke it and cure it.
C: How did they....
C: Who butchered for the Traxler's here?
T: Dale did. He had the hogs and he would have them killed and
butchered enough for all the family.
C: How did he kill the hogs?
T: They would shoot them.
C: And how did you kill a chicken?
T: Ring their neck, I have done that. I would chop it off with an
C: Did they have a telephone here when you moved here?
T: When I first moved here, the telephone was probably too, although
they had an operator of a kind in Alachua. It was upstairs to
that building that is standing as the [Alachua] Connection
Restaurant. And Gussy Harris [sp?]--later was Harris, she was
Gussy Abbot then--was the operator. And if you had one out this
far you had to put up your own line, and maintain it. The people
that hooked on to that line all had different signals. It was
one of those that you would ring by a handle going around and
C: Did you get Gussy Harris when you did that?
T: Yes, you could get her [with] one ring. I think our ring was
three long rings. Ring it three times a long time.
C: You made it ring by winding the handle with your hand.
T: Yes, and then stop a while and wind it again, stop and wind it
again, which I believe was our signal. The MacFaddens had one
and theirs was like the long and then a short or something, I am
not real sure about all of it. The Lewis' had one, and I do not
know whether it was the fourth one on the same line. It was the
party line; you could pick it up and get all the news of the day
if you would listen. I do not really think it interfered at all
with them using their phone. But if a limb fell on that one line
going in to connect up with the one in Alachua whoever was on the
line had to fix it up. Mostly it was Dad. Once in awhile he
would get somebody else, usually, to take and help him fix the
.. telephone lines. But they were the main ones to keep it up. And
the MacFadden's on up the way, of course, sometimes were supposed
to fix it up if it was near their place.
C: You have seen a lot of changes here and the family.....
T: A lot of them.
C: ....that you married into really had a lot of strength in the
T: Oh yes.
C: Did that mean that people that were sick or ill or hungry would
come.here if they needed something?
T: Very defendantly. The old doctor that came out in-a horse and
buggy, of course, had no nurse. He would like, if the babies were
to be born--this is when a baby was on the way--he would like for
one of the neighbor women to go and assist him in the birth.
Mrs. Traxler would always go no matter what: if they asked her
she would go. But I have heard--and I have heard the children of
one of our neighbors say defendantly--that they did not ask her
mother, because she never went. But I think they had asked her
to this particular case and she would not go. So they came on
over and got Mrs. Traxler and she did go and help. There were
twins born and those twins were named Lila, for Mrs. Traxler, and
Lynn, for Mrs. Traxler's first son.
C: What was their last name?
T: And they were Beeples [sp?], I think. The last name of those
C: Who was the doctor that delivered them?
T: Oh, who was the doctor?
C:. Now is this when you were married and living here?
T: No this was before. They were eighty-year old people and they
lived around though. I think I meet Lila at one time, but she is
dead now. They were old when I first realized this.
C: How were your children born?
T: They were all born in the hospital and it was that first little
hospital with Alachua General.
C: And then you brought them home here?
T: Yes brought them back here, but we always had plenty of colored
women that were off[?] the place here. And Thelma, this girl
that still works for me, her relatives--well, her stepmother's
family--were raised on one of Traxlers farms, in a Traxler house.
And lived there for.... The mother died. Ever since I knew them
that lived over there. These girls were some of the ones
that would come and work for me when my children were little.
And they worked for Mrs. Traxler and you know always
had to help in the house.
C: Who were the black women that helped you take care of your
T: Well they Strothers [sp?] then, and one of them married
Washington. It was his second wife and she was the stepmother of
Thelma and Ellsy, that have their own place and help right on
today. Both of them do.
C: Mrs. Traxler you have experienced so much change in your own
lifetime and, in addition, your memory goes back before your
lifetime because of the older people that you got stories and
information from. So the understanding of Traxler that you have
in your head encompasses more than your lifetime. What is your
impression of Traxler as it has changed over the years? The
history that you know of it, what has changed for the better,
what has changed for the worse?
T: Well it is a change, let us hope it is for the better. The
situations are so different now. When Traxler was the big place-
-and you asked if they were helpful to other people--this was
the closest phone they could get to. Dale said all the babies
were born at night. I can remember getting up many a night to
answer the phone, trying to get a doctor out here at night. But
of course I guess they were not all [born at night], but they all
never refused to help. And another thing he told was when one
couple came by to borrow the money to buy the license to get
married. You can imagine somebody not even having the money to
buy the license which was a matter, at that day and time, of
maybe a couple of dollars. But yet they were going to get
married. He did loan money a lot and they were generous in
helping, just gifts. A lot of people, there are people that tell
me that "Mrs. Traxler gave me my first little red wagon," "Mrs.
Traxler brought me my first coat the only coat I ever had till I
was grown," and things like that. I have seen them buy groceries
when they went to town, a box of groceries and when they went
home they took that box of grocery that they had bought to this
family. I have been with them many a time and seen that. So
they were good to share.
C: They were central....
T: They loved people. Mrs. Traxler loved to go visit and no matter
who they were, or how poor, or how rich she was friendly to all
C: What was she like?
T: She was that type of person. She was friendly, she loved people,
and everybody loved her. And she was good to them. She was a
determined person and she would get things done but that is what
it takes I guess. He just about kept that church going and when
the storm of 1896 blew down the first oak church that had been
C: This is the Spring Hill Church?
T: The Spring Hill Church, the one that had been built in 1860 with
the help of slaves. The storm of 1896, the big storm you hear
about I am sure, damaged the church but they still used it till
about 1950. Mr. Traxler had this church built and I am sure that
he paid for most of it. I will not say all because I do not know
for sure. But there never was a mortgage or anything like that.
When the church when it was built it was paid for. It was old
Mr. Alligood [sp?] that lived here in the area, that raised the
Alligood family, which have all been very good people. They
always say that if nobody else was there you could count on Mr.
Traxler and Archie Alligood being there. But that was at one
time of course, and as you say they did have a lot of influence
on things in the community and people did respect them. I have
not heard of any enemies that had it in for them.
C: Mrs. Traxler you have seen the changes from where farming soil,
the land, was the whole center of people existence. Now, so many
people along this road drive to Gainesville to work.
T: Well as I said, it was different circumstances. Then there was
just the one telephone, no electricity, which meant no running
water--everybody just got'it out of shallow wells off the place--
and they grew a lot of their things at home. Mr. Traxler would
take their produce--extra eggs, extra potatoes, extra syrup--and
trade for the coffee, flour, and things they needed out of the
store. Well, there were no good roads, no fast way of traveling.
They had to go by horseback or walk--which a lot of people did
into High Springs or Alachua--or a horse and wagon. And, later,
some of the boys got bicycles when they were in high school
including Dale who would ride a bicycle to Alachua to school
C: Since transportation was so hard to come by, I guess going to
church on Sunday was a real, real important opportunity.
T: Yes and they would go usually for the day. There was one church
at Newnansville before this one was here at Spring Hill, and they
would go to Newnansville. They would have carriages that slaves
would drive years ago when Newnansville had a church. They would
go and just spend the day.
C: Why did the slaves drive the carriages?
T: Well they did not always but sometimes they did. They did not
always, but they did have a place for the negroes to worship too.
This first church out here had a section for the negroes to
C: Do you have the names of those black families in your church
T: No, we do not have roles from back then that I know anything
about, I have never seen them. But the benches that are in that
present church are the same benches that were in the old church,
and they were hand made partly by slave labor.
C: But did the old church burn?
T: It was damaged very badly by the storm of 1896, and they tore the
rest of it down and built this one. Whether any material was
saved by from the old church and building this one, I do not
C: In your observation how has the role of the church changed?
T: Well the church has never has completely closed its doors, but
there have been times when very few would be there. They only
had church one Sunday a month and the preacher would have several
churches. And he would live on the parsonage so he would usually
live where there and then he would come over. Many times on
Saturday he would spend the night at Mrs. Traxler's house. She
had a room she called the preachers room. He knew she would have
a place for him. Then he would spend the day and preach morning
and night. The third Sunday was the Sunday they had a preaching
when I first married.
C: So he was a circuit riding Methodist?
T: Well he served several churches, it was not like the circuit
riders of the very beginning. Some of those would go two hundred
miles before they had finished their circuit. But these would
have just like maybe twenty miles of
C: Mrs. Traxler, your in-laws were so central to this community and
put so much energy into it; do you think--considering that he had
a store, a cotton gin, a farming operation, and a generator for
his electricity--that your own father-in-law, although you did
not know him, would be surprised that Traxler is no larger than
it is today?
T: I doubt it because times were changing even before he died. I
think that he would have adjusted. My husband saw it, when it
was going good, and of course he had some adjustments to make
because it went down to almost this. Now I do not say they never
had heart pains from it, or shall I say qualms of feeling about
it, but it seemed not to make a great deal of difference to him
although he still loved it. Even after he acquired the old home
place and we were getting old, and this is so much more
convenient a home, I think down deep he would have loved to have
gone back to the old home place to live. But it would have
really been unwise unless we were going to spend a lot to
modernize it because with us getting older, it has been much
easier to keep this house warm.
C: Now Earl Traxler was his brother?
T: Earl was his brother and he had another brother Lynn.
C: And Earl went into town and established the First National Bank.
T: No, that bank was established before Earl went there. Earl went
there to work in the bank and Ms. Sue right along beside him,
almost at the very beginning of that. But it was going, Emery
Williams' father and Dale's father were two of the main ones that
really started the bank.
T: And then when Earl grew up he did go to college and then he went
there to work in the bank.
C: Do you think that Dale was more tied to the land than Earl was?
T: Yes, much more. Now, Lynn loved it but he went to school for
many years and trained to be a lawyer and did practice for a
while. Then he was a school teacher for a while. Finally, after
his daddy died and he got some land in his own name and inherited
it, he came down here and he started piddling around the farm.
He never did put a lot of time into it like Dale did, but when he
came out he would stay out at He just liked to come
back out here.
C: Well you were here during the depression, how did that effect you
and the Traxler's?
T: Well, really the depression began in the thirties and I was home
during some of the worst of it. There were many people that
suffered, as it happened our fathers had jobs which were constant
and we had steady income through most of it. Then later he
retired from that job and went into business. That was when 41
was built through Archer, he opened the business on 41, and, of
course, that was a little later. Then my brother was older and