C: This is Sudye Cauthen talking with Vernon McFadden Hill at her
home off the Bellamy Road next door to Sam and Betty Means' house
on July 7, 1987. Vernon, tell me your complete name.
H: Vernon McFadden Hill.
C: Did you have just one given name--Vernon?
H: No, Laura Vernon. I was named for my aunt, Laura Vernon. I
always use the M. for McFadden--Vernon M. Hill.
C: What is your birthdate?
H: August 6, 1902.
C: You started to tell me a story about before you were born, your
mother went out to the barn. Would you tell me that story?
H: Yes. It was in the afternoon, she said, before I was born that
night. They were building that big old green barn, this two story
barn. It was really almost three stories because it had a big,
high place up in there where they would pile hay up so high.
And that is in the same barn that we had when that tornado hit
there. It took the top off of that barn in one piece and brought
it about halfway down here to where it was standing in a hollow
[?] place and turned it upside down and cut it up in little
C: What year was that tornado? How old do you think you were?
H: I remember I was old enough--I was in my teens, I reckon--because
I got up out of the bed. I heard it coming. Mr. Carlisle Dufee
[sp?] and them had a store in Alachua, and he heard it when it
came on over from Alachua. And I heard it when it came on my home
and caught a pine tree. The pine tree was larger around than that
biggest one there on the bottom; it was the biggest one. It was
down on this side of the branch where there was a spring that they
used to get water out of for the Pullet [sp?] house that was built
up there along the road. And that was the closest water then to
come to that spring.
C: That barn has been rebuilt now has it not?
H: No. It has not been rebuilt. It is just more or less some repair
that has been done on it. The top had to be put back on it
C: What is the story that you told about your mother going out to the
barn on the day you were born?
H: The afternoon before I was born that night, she said. She had had
trouble carrying me, I guess--maybe Mary Lou too, I do not know.
She walked out there that afternoon before that night and papa, in
that barn, had almost all the stalls, five of them, filled with
horses and mules and one in the hallway. And that one that was in
the hallway was blown out off the barn and the whole front of that
barn came down just like that on top of the mule.
C: Just flat on her? You mean during the tornado?
H: Yes, during the tornado. My papa had more mules and horses than
he had stalls for; he had to keep one in the hallway.
C: Why did your mother remember going out to the barn on the day you
H: I do not know. I can just remember that she used to tell me that
all of the time.
C: What else did she tell you about your birth?
H: Nothing. Only that Dr. Tanner, I think, was the one who delivered
me. I believe Dr. Tanner was here before Dr. Beard came to
C: And it was at home that she had you?
H: Oh yes, at home. In those days, no one went to the hospital.
They did not have hospitals.
C: Mary Lou says that she remembers your birth. What is the first
thing that you remember about Mary Lou?
H: I do not know. I would really have to think about it.
C: She was almost two and a half years older than you. What kind of
a little girl was she?
H: She was a quiet little girl. I was one of those harem scarems;
that was the difference in us. It always was. (laugh) And I was
nervous. That is the reason that I heard the tornado, because I
was such a light sleeper. I heard it before it got there. And
Mr. Carlisle Dupree [sp?] used to have a store; you have heard of
the Dupee (sp) Place have you not?
H: Well he had a grocery store up on the north end of town: right up
there just on the other side of the ceders and between the...and
down below where they used to have their lodge. I do not know
whether they still have lodge meetings there or not now; they used
to when my husband, John, belonged there. Some of them said that
they went from Mikesville (sp?) to Alachua to the lodge for the
legion auxiliary meetings--not legion, I mean Masonnic meetings.
I never did join because I was too far out in the country to go.
C: In talking with you, I have heard you mention the Duprees many
times. What, to your mind, was the most important in your memory
of the Duprees?
H: Mr. Dupree driving with one hand, the other one off, going to
Alachua. Now meeting him and passing him in the horse and buggy
C: And you were a little girl then?
H: I was a little girl then, sitting in the foot of the buggy on a
C: Did the Duprees have children your age?
H: No. They were younger and older. They were papa's age and his
brothers' age. But papa's brother, Willie, lived in Jacksonville.
He was out there helping them build the house and he took with
typhoid fever. And Dr. Dupree was the one who doctored him up.
You know, his son is in Miami. He is a Dr. Dupree.
C: What is his first name?
H: I cannot remember right now what his given name was. They have a
Dupree dairy down there too--in Miami. And I saw some of the cows
when I was down there not long before the last time I was there.
We went down the east coast and came up the west coast. That is
when I saw his cows; somebody said they were the Duprees' cows.
They did have a dairy down there--old Dr. Dupree and his family.
C: Let us go back for a minute in memory to where you are in the
buggy in town. You are passing Mr. Dupree and he has got just one
hand driving the buggy. Tell me who else was in the buggy with
H: Mary Lou, momma and I.
C: Where were you going?
H: To Alachua.
C: For what?
C: Who had the grocery store then?
H: The Pierces, I think. O think the Pierces were still there.
C: Where was their store?
H: Their store was right down there on the corner across from the
First National Bank. And Mr. Pierce and them had the in
Alachua. I cannot remember everything, but he is buried out
C: They had a lot of real estate and business interests?
H: Yes, and the old Pierce house, where he was born, was on the old
Noonansville Road. I do not know whether you have gone back that
dirt road and out through the other end by the berries and on up
C: Yes. But Vernon, why would you be going to the Pierces in Alachua
to buy groceries when there was a store in Traxler?
H: (laugh) They did not have everything we wanted and papa always
went to Alachua. They landed in Alachua when they came from
Kentucky. And do you know the house that is on the corner (or did
they tell you that)?
C: The Almstead House.(sp?)
H: That was the house that was just beyond the church--that two-
storied house. And the Hughes [sp?] were the last ones that lived
in there that we really knew. There were some of the others....
C: Was that Bernice, Zell and John Hughes?
H: Yes. They lived in there a long time after papa went
there. And Dr. Jim Bishop lived in the house across the street
there, just above that house. Dr. John Bishop lived in the one
across where the Pierce house was. We played with the John Bishop
girls when we would go to town. It was just up the hill there,
you know where that two-story house is.
C: Let us think about going to town again. If you went from out here
to Alachua in the horse and buggy, was your mother driving?
C: First of all, did the Bellamy Road look different then than it
H: A little, not too much.
C: How is it different?
H: It was not graded up like it is now. It was more or less just a
plain road for horse and buggies.
C: It was more dark dirt?
H: Just dirt. Very much the same colored dirt as I can remember.
C: But the foliage looked very much the same as it does today?
H: Yes. You went over the hills--up and down the hills--to Alachua.
C: What was the first thing you saw when you got near Alachua?
H: You know the little corner down there that you come down--beyond
the Bush's [sp?] house--right in that corner in there. There was
fruit stands. The Thomas' had fruit stands--bananas, big bunches
of bananas. Papa would always stop there and get bananas for us
to bring home.
C: Was that before you got to Lucille Ellis' house?
H: No, that is afterwards. Lucille lives up on this end of town.
C: So you went in another end?
H: No. We went on that same road. It would just come right on by
our place and cross the railroad there and turn there between the
grocery store and...
C: Bush's. Where his store is now--Bush's Dry Goods on Main Street?
C: So the fruit stand was before you got to Bush's.
H: Before you got to Bush's. Just below that other store that was
there was a fruit stand. And it was built with wood and just had
a porch like thing. They would have these big bunches of bananas.
You know how you see them in the big bunches, do you not?
C: Yes. This was like going down Church Street.
H: No. Church Street was one block over.
C: So you were on Main Street.
H: Main Street. And we turned on that Main Street down there and
come back up across the railroad--most of the time--just like the
highway comes on up.
C: Who were these Thomas' that had the fruit stand?
H: I do not know. I only remember that it was the Thomas'.
C: Did you get to eat something right then and there?
H: Bananas, eating all of the way home. One banana was all you could
have. And I was one of those kinds that liked to eat lots in a
C: So that was a treat then?
H: That was quite a treat. Papa never came out of that town in the
horse and buggy days without stopping and getting fruit. He
always loved the fruit. Of course they had up there around the
old place; they had bought it for an orange grove because his
fathers' brother--down at Hawthorne--was in the orange groves down
C: Let us get their names in here. Your father's father came here in
what year? H: In...
C: In 1884.
H: I reckon so.
C: Now that was your grandfather. What was his name?
H: I do not know whether him name was James Decunan[sp?] now or not.
But it is over yonder on those tombstones.
C: At Spring Hill Methodist Church.
C: And what was his wifes name?
H: Was it Addie? or Fannie? (cannot answer)
C: But she is buried at Spring Hill too?
H: Yes, grandpa and grandma.
C: You do not remember him because he died before you were born, but
you would have been thirteen years old when she died. What is
your memory of your grandmother McFadden?
H: That we Went down there every day to see her and that she could
play on the accordians; she would do that sometimes for us. And
she always read her Bible a lot. I think she said that she had
read it three to four times during the year--all the way through.
And I know we would go down there and grandmama would be reading
her Bible. She lived there by herself for a long time--four years
I think. When papa would get up to go to the barn-to feed at
daylight, he would always look that way. And if he saw smoke
coming out of the chimney, he knew she was alright. But our job
was to go down and sit by grandma every day. And she played an
C: What songs did she play?
H: Church songs.
C: What church did she belong to?
H: The Methodist Church over here. She was originally a Baptist when
she came down here. She met up with the Methodist friends and she
went Methodist instead of going to Oak Grove [?]. She was one of
those stylish women. She said she went to Oak Grove and there was
babies all around; she was afraid she would step on a baby.
C: She was afraid she would step on one?
C: So she changed. What do you remember about her that is most
important to you?
H: That she was always able to get up and go to the kitchen and start
a fire in the stove. And she cooked good too before she got to
where she was not able to. When she got to where she was not able
to, aunt Betty, who lived in Newberry at that time, talked her out
of the notion of staying there by herself. And she would stay
between Aunt Betty's and Aunt Fannie's. Aunt Fanny Martin was a
school teacher; she was papa's older sister. She taught at
Mikesville. She met Uncle Giles Martin [sp?] there and married
him. He was a widower with one son. Then they had a family of
Catherine, Lynn, Emma. They were Aunt Fannie's children. And we
all got together, not every Sunday, but lots of times. We had
quite a time. Lynn Martin [sp?], Aunt Fannys' son, was always the
preacher. (laugh) You ever heard of children playing like that
and having church service?
C: I do not think I played church.
H: Well they did and he was a preacher. And Aunt Fanny, Uncle
Charles, papa, and momma would all sit on the front porch and
watch us children playing out there.and having such a great time.
C: If he was the preacher, what was your part?
H: I do not remember, just singing and hollering.
C: Let me ask you about your grandmother McFadden again. Did she
knit or crochet?
H: I know she knitted because papa taught Mary Lou how to knit and he
learned from her.
C: Who taught you how to tat?
H: I do not remember whether grandma did or not; she might have.
C: When did you start tatting?
H: I do not know how old I was when I started. I remember I just had
a little old stick about that long, a notch cut in that end and in
this end. And for a long time, that was all I had for tat
C: Just a little stick.
H: Just a little stick. But then I found out I could get up, my
knife in my pocket, and get one. And you can lose them and find
them again. This one here, I had misplaced it--did not know what
I had done with it. I know I dropped it out underneath that
little porch because I was out there one day about two months ago.
And I saw something bright down there, and that was it. Right
then and there where I had dropped it out of my hand or pocket or
C: Do you remember the first tatting you ever did?
H: I guess so, I did not do too much on it. Just plain tatting like
that. That was pretty much all I did. It was a larger thread; I
have got some over here.
C: Vernon, tell me your father's full name.
H: James MacFadden.
C: What year was he born?
H: I might have to go to the cemetery to find out.
C: What year did he die?
H: I am blank right now.
C: What was your mothers' full name?
H: Effie Vernon Means MacFadden.
C: Do you know her date of birth or date of death?
C: Where was she from?
H: Fort Maxville. [sp?]
C: And you are named for your mother.
H: Laura Vernon. And for momma's older sister. She had an old maid
sister that never married and died at our place up there.
C: What was her name?
H: Laura Vernon Means.
C: Let us go back to that trip you took in the buggy to town to
Pierce's store. In your mind, imagine going in Pierce's store
again as though you were little. Tell me what do you see?
H: (laugh) When I got to the Pierce's store, we were past the fruit
stands. The first thing, right on the corner down there--just
like that corner comes down after you cross the railroad track and
you turn and come on around to go to the grocery store. Right on
that corner, the Thomas' had a fruit stand for years. And then
when they did more on the other side I guess he would come on up
there a built a little frame building. And he had a fruit stand
there--right by Bush's store. It did not edge up against it, but
it was close up there.
C: The'Bush's store was there then?
H: It was the Williams'.
C: Before it was the Bush's?
H: Oh yes.
C: You went to Pierce's store; what was in there?
H: Everything you would look for, all kinds of clothing.
C: What did you look for? What was exciting to you about the store?
H: I do not remember. I remember those big old oak trees in the
middle of the streets--as large as those big ones there.
C: When you think of the streets, what do you see on the streets?
H: Sometimes horse and buggies.
C: Do you see people on the street?
H: Sometimes, yes.
C: What were they wearing?
H: I cannot remember that; I have not thought about that.
C: What was the clothing of that time?
H: Momma wore a dress, I think. Never thought of wearing anything
like dungarees or slacks.
C: Would your mother stress a long dress?
H: Fairly. Aunt Fannie's and Grandma's was long enough so that it
would not quite sweep the ground.
C: What kind of shoes did your grandmother McFadden wear?
H: I think they were laced up shoes.
C: What kind of shoes did you wear?
H: Most of them were laced up. You did not have anything like this
loafer. They were tied with shoestrings, laced up to about here.
C: Did you have special clothes for Easter or Christmas or birthdays?
H: Yes. You had to have a new dress for Easter.
C: Do you remember an Easter dress you had?
H: I remember going to the mountains with mother when I was six years
old. Mother had made me a brand new dress. Every time she would
make me a new dress, I would have to have something happen to it
to get it torn. So we were in Ashville, staying at the White
House or something. It was up there in the mountains; it looked
down at the wonders. She sent me upstairs to get something she
wanted, and I had on this new dress. I went around behind the
trunk--they had us carry trunks at that time to be up there two or
three months I believe. She had me go get something that she
wanted immediately and she would not go upstairs. And I went
around the edge of that trunk and caught my new dress and tore it.
And that made me cry.
C: What color dress was it?
H: I do not remember.
C: What did your mother say?
H: I do not remember whether she gave me a pop for that or not. But
I did so often, when I got something that I was proud of, tear it.
Why, I do not know.
C: You said you got a special dress for Easter. What about Mayday,
do you remember Mayday? Did you ever celebrate it?
H: I cannot remember whether we did or not. I will tell you that we
went to Spring Hill, at the church there. We went there twice a
month and Mikesville twice a month. Going to Mikesville, you went
by where the camp is there, right through that in horse and buggy
days. And sometimes the river would get up and we would have to
come back by the Bellamy Ford. Or if it got up too much, you
would have to come around to High Springs.
C: What is the Bellamy Ford?
H: It is just road that we would take up to the other highway, and it
could take you right on through the Springs.
C: Is that where the land bridge is? That is where the river goes
H: Yes. You do not know there is any river where we would go up to
the Bellamy Road. But there is. And you can see, after you cross
this Bellamy Ford place, there is another little place where there
are open hollows down to a river.
C: Maybe we will go and see that.
H: Well, it is right close to that road. I am glad you thought of
it. If we ever did go up that Bellamy Road, right after the pass,
what we would call the Bellamy Ford, where the water comes over
when it overflows from the river. We have come through there when
it was up in the foot of the buggy. We would go to Mikesville and
we knew we might have been having a lot of rain and we did not
realize that it was going to be quite so bad. But anyway, we did
go through. And I know that it did get up into the foot of the
buggy that one time we went through there.
C: It must have been tough going.
H: Well, with horse and buggy, the horses did not mind it too much.
And papa would drive them through it.
C: Vernon, did you go to High Springs very much when you were a
H: We started to High Springs when I was a little girl and momma did
not know the way. (laugh) That was too funny. Momma forgot the
was somehow, I think, and she turned around before she got to High
Springs--just Mary Lou, I, and her. She came back home. Papa
told Mary Lou and I that he was not going to have two daughters
that did not know how to go anywhere. They must remember every
place they went, and how they went, so that they could come back.
And mama did not know the way back from High Springs, but I reckon
first trip to High Springs after she was able to go by
herself. But Mary Lou and I...
C: Well, Vernon, do you remember how High Springs was and how Alachua
was, were they different at this time?
(side one ends, side one begins)
C: Vernon, do you remember how High Springs was and how Alachua was?
Were they different and that time? How were Alachua and High
H: Well, High Springs had the shops, railroad men, railroad people
and more rough, at least that was more or less the feeling. Yet
[there was] never a better place in the world to go for help for
anything in High Springs.
C: What do you think made you feel that High Springs was rougher
H: Because papa always talked about the or the different
ones that go over there and the railroad being there and coming in
and sometimes having killings and he would
C: So you felt it was a rougher town than Alachua?
H: In a way, but it was more friendly. Papa said he could go to
High Springs with a load of cotton and he would get a half a dozen
invitations for dinner. He said he could go to Alachua with a
load of cotton and would not get anything. Now, is that
something? And, yet, Aunt Betty and them lived in Alachua. Do
you know where her house was?
H: Well, you know where the first...
C: Now, this is your Aunt Betty Means?
H: Betty McFadden. Yes, Betty Pierce. You do not know where the
old Pierce home was?
H: Well, it is out between Alachua and Newnansville. It is on the
north side of that dirt road as you go to Newnansville.
C: Did you go there often?
H: No, we did not because Aunt Betty lived in that Pierce house, the
one that is on the corner there that has the little place right up
there and the Bishops lived in.
C: You were in Dr. Bishop's house. That is where you and Mary Lou
went to have your picture made or get dressed for that picture.
H: Get dressed for it. Those were the Bishops that lived there
then, but Aunt Betty lived there and the children were born there
and they moved to somewhere up there on the river and wound up in
C: Well, Vernon, were you good friends with Dr. Bishop's family?
H: Oh, yes.
C: How did that come to be?
H: The girls and Mary Lou and I were near the same age, Ellise,
Pixie and them.
C: Is that why you went over there to get dressed?
H: No, we went there to get dressed, I think, after the Bishops had
moved. No, it was before because of Aunt Betty that we went there
to get dressed. You got a minute? That is the old house.
C: What do you remember about Dr. Bishop?
H: He was the doctor that saved me from having bronchitis. He was
afraid that he was not going to pull me through. I remember that
mama's oldest brother, Uncle Sump [sp?], was working in Alachua
and living there at that time and he came out there to see about
me. The doctor had been out there and told them how terribly sick
I was with bronchitis. He did not think I would make it. So they
came out there and I remember the next morning, I was so much
better. When Uncle Sump [sp?] and the doctor got there, I was
rolling on across the bed from mama where they could not hardly
catch me. That was how much better I was.
C: How did you come to get bronchitis?
H: I do not know. Oh, yes, mama said I went out on the porch
barefooted with her to get a drink of water. I could not wait to
get a drink of water.
C: She felt it was your going barefooted?
H: It was cold, cold, cold weather and I was barefooted and she
thought it was the cold. They always did make me wear shoes on
account of my feet, they were afraid I would take cold...
C: They did not want a repeat of that bronchitis.
H: Oh, no.
C: Well, what did you and Mary Lou play with when you were little
girls? What do you remember about that time when you were little
like this and played together?
H: I do not remember now. I can not remember what we did play with.
But, you see there what we were doing.
C: Yes, this is a picture of you at the house that you built.
H: No, that is at the front of the house. The other part of it was
still the same.
C: Is this the house that just burned?
H: Not just burned, no. The last one that burned was my house which
was papa's house they built when they first came here. I have a
picture of it, too.
C: Well, you mentioned that the Dews [sp?] lived in what was known
as the Omstadt house. What do you remember about Miss Zell Dew
and Miss vernis Dew [sp?] and John Hugh Dew [sp?]?
H: Well, Miss Vernis Dew was my school teacher and she taught there
all the way through from when she came in. The first year, I
believe she taught in the fourth grade. Anyway, she just came in
as almost a substitute and, of course, Miss Vernis was a high
C: What did she look like? What kind of personality did Miss Vernis
H: Well, I wish I had a picture of her, but I do not believe I do.
C: I remember what she looked like, but I do not know what her
personality was like.
H: Oh, she was a wonderful person. She never talked too much. She
talked enough, but never too much. When she stepped in the door,
everything got quiet, just like that.
C: A lot of authority?
H: She just had that much authority or ability. I do not know what
you would say, but she did.
C: Was John Hugh younger than Zell and Vernis?
H: Oh, yes. John Hugh was younger than Miss Zell. Which is older,
Miss Zell or Miss Vernis?
C: I do not know.
H: There is not much difference in their age, I do not think. Does
that look like the army today? You did not see that today, did
C: No, these are family photographs....
H: I know, but I am just saying, he was an army man and here Junior
was. (?) I do not know whether I have a picture of Miss Vernis.
She was slender and Miss Zell was fat.
C: They looked like twins, but one was real thin and one was real
fat. They wore their hair the same way, pinned back in the back.
H: Wonderful people.
C: Well, who were your classmates that you went to school with?
H: Thelma Dell [sp?], Eva Traxler [sp?], Doris Seely [sp?], and
Cleo Osteen [sp?], (there were thirteen girls), Anna Berry [sp?],
C: Now, where was this school at?
H: Right up there on the hill.
C: Now, is this where Rachel Leek [sp?] was?
C: Was that her name, Rachel Leek (?), your teacher?
H: No, Rachel Leek was on the hill over here on...
C: Bellamy Road?
H: Bellamy Road.
C: Well, Eva Traxler went to school with you there did she not?
H: Oh, yes, we were always together.
C: And then after school you would walk to Eva Traxler's house at
H: Yes, at Traxler.
C: Well, what was Eva Traxler like?
H: Well, you do not ever remember seeing Thelma Dell, do you?
H: Eva was taller than I was and a little heavier. We were both in
the same grade, but Eva was younger than I. She started school
the same year I started to school, but I was supposed to be two
grades ahead of her because papa and them would not let us go to
school until we got to be eight years old.
C: Why was that?
H: Well, because we were his two little girls and it was too far for
us to go. When we did get going, mama carried us to Traxler and
we would come back up there with Miss Sue Leek's sister, Miss
Rachel who was teaching the school.
C: Do any of the Leeks still live around here?
H: No, they never did.
C: Where did Miss Rachel come from?
H: Carolina. They were raised in, you have heard of Th have
you not? Presbyterian church having an
C: Was she raised in an orphanage?
H: Or some of them were.
C: After school, you and Vernon would walk with Eva Traxler to her
house and play?
H: And Miss Rachel.
C: What did Miss Rachel go for? Did she stay at the Traxler house?
H: She stayed at the Traxler house.
C: Well, you all would play after school, is that right?
H: Oh, yes.
C: Well, what kinds of games did you play?
H: Well, no telling! You know where Eva Traxler's house is? Over
where Lucille is. We would go across the road over there and
there was some kind of tree--Chestnut or something, I do not know-
-that they had a little fence around. We would go over there and
look in there and see what we could find.
C: Was that area wooded then?
H: Yes. It was not too thick, but it was wooded. Mrs. Traxler and
them could see us plenty easy.
C: Did you climb trees?
H: No, we did not climb those trees. Now, Mary Lou, Emma, and
Katharine and all of us over here would climb trees, but we never
did climb, that I remember, any of them over there at all. Eva
Traxler had a bicycle and was learning to ride the bicycle and you
know that space all the way from the store down towards the top of
the hill, there was an open, just like it is now or more so. Eva
would get that bicycle of Dale's and some of us and they would
ride the bicycle down that section. Back and forth, back and
forth, almost to the church.
C: Did you ever go underneath the Traxler house?
H: No, that is the one something I do not remember doing, going
underneath it, but I could see under it. Especially at the north
end there, you could see under the house. It was high off the
ground on the north end and really on the east side, too. You
know, the porch is just like it is now. It sits up high. She
used to have the prettiest poinsettias that they had planted along
the east side and they would come up there below the porch and
C: Were you told to stay away from the cotton gin?
H: I think we were. Not only told, but made to stay away. You had
better do it.
C: Did her mother see to it that you stayed away?
H: No, we just did not go. We just knew better than to go.
C: Who ran that store there?
H: Sam Vaughn.
C: That general store.
H: Sam Vaughn.
C: And what was the most exciting thing that he had to sell?
H: He sold dress goods, groceries, everything that anybody wanted.
C: Did you or Mary Lou ever buy anything for yourselves in there?
H: Yes, I think we did, but I do not remember what it was. You see,
Mr. Traxler and Mrs. Traxler or Myna or some of them would go with
him to Baltimore to buy supplies for the store and dress goods and
all of that.
C: Well, now, Traxler is located on the Bellamy Road. What was the
story you were telling me about Mr. Bellamy who built the road?
What do you know about him?
H: He stayed at the house on the next hill. You remember our going
down the hill and up the hill where the school was on the hill?
Right there in that house, the same house, is the same one that
Bellamy came to. The Dell's were living there and that was Mrs.
Traxler's brother and his family. Mrs. Traxler was a Dell and Mr.
Traxler married Mr. Dell's sister. Mr. Dell married Mr.
C: Which one did Bellamy stay in?
H: The one on the right hand side after you go past Traxler. Now,
you cross the highway and go on down and go up the hill. You know
where I showed you the little house there that was a school house?
Right across the road there was his house. The same house that
the Dell's lived in. Of course, the thing's been done different,
C: Who lives there now?
H: The Emersons.
C: Okay, that is the house that Major Bellamy stayed in?
C: Charles Emerson's house.
H: It was two-story at that time. I guess just like it was before I
can remember. They had, what I always remembered and could see,
outside of their house they had steps that went up between the
back window and the chimney on the backside. I could always see
that when we would go by in the horse and buggy days. I could see
those steps and that was where papa said the men slept, upstairs.
Mrs. Dell had three girls and two boys. Do you remember Mr. Sim
Dell? Ever hear talk about Sim Dell in Alachua?
H: Well, that was Mr. Dell's son.
C: Yes, I have seen his name on old documents, Mr. Sim Dell. Well,
Vernon, you and Mary Lou grew up on the farm with no brothers.
Did you get to learn how to do many of the things that boys did?
H: Everything, practically. Even including Mary Lou, after papa's
death, and I plowing the corn that was planted. This place, all
of this here, was planted in corn that year; corn and, maybe,
peanuts. I am not sure about that. But, anyway, it was planted
in corn and she plowed that and I remember going over that and in
the time of the day when she was maybe liking a cup of water. I
do not remember how I went over there now, but anyway, I did, yes.
C: You would take the water to her?
H: Take the water to her, yes. I did that and down...we did not go
over the hills going back, did we?
C: I do not remember.
H: Not past on down here. We did not go, did we, on down the hills?
Straight on towards Alachua.
C: Well, we have been through the Bellamy Road, now.
H: Well, anyway, he had all the way down to the branch (?) was
papa's, too. Mama would have bad spells of eating something, I
guess, that she should not have eaten and she would get in such
terrible shape that they would have to put her feet in hot water.
Mary Lou would send me to the field for papa and he would be down
there plowing in that lower field, down there at the branch. One
day I went through the barn. You know where the barn is.
C: Did you walk or ride?
H: Walked. I was not but about that tall.
C: Well, why did Mary Lou send you?
H: She would stay and keep mama's feet in hot water.
C: Oh, I see. What do you think was wrong with your mother?
H: Change of life, I imagine. Mama was awfully nervous.
C: Well, that was a real different time for women. Childbirth or
change of life or any of those things, was it not?
C: You have seen a lot of change. You and Mary Lou have become kind
of famous for farming that farm. The two of you, two women. Will
you tell me what this award is that the state gave you? You have
a certificate on the wall and pictures of yourselves. What was
this recognition that you got?
H: Recognition for having the farm and running the farm.
C: It says that the State of Florida recognizes that the McFadden
Hill family, century pioneer farm family. What is your proudest
thing that you and Mary Lou have done together on the farm?
H: Well, I reckon held it together. We still have it, you know.
C: Your dad entrusted you with it.
H: Oh, yes, and when we bought the, you know we own those pines over
there on the other side where Jeff is. Papa practically made us
go and buy it. The lady was wanting to sell it in St. Petesburg.
She wanted to sell it, so we bought it
and had five years to pay for it. We managed to do it. Papa
maneuvered in helping us in one way or another.
C: Vernon did your husband die before your father?
C: So when your father died, he knew that you and Mary Lou would
H: He knew it, papa did. Knew we had been doing it because of
John's health, of course.
C: What year did John Hill die?
C: How long were you married?
H: Twelve years, I believe.
C: Well, Mary Lou told me that she remembered your wedding and how
pretty you were. Tell me what you remember about the wedding?
H: Well, I remember mama made the wedding dress. All the neighbors
were all invited to the wedding. But mama made [the dress], it
was just a plain little white with, I believe she had lace
or ribbon on it or both, and I married there. Oh, where is that
C: Well, what I want to know is that Mary Lou said you told them on
a Sunday that you were marrying on a Wednesday.
H: Oh, yes!
C: Why did you give them such short notice?
H: Well, I had been sick and, anyway, that is what we... and John
C: Home from where?
H: He had been working out in road work and was home.
C: So you decided to do it. You did not see any point in waiting.
H: No. This was after John and I went back to move
after two or three years after we had lived back up there at home
with papa and them. He was....
C: This is a picture of a cracker farmhouse you are showing me.
This is where you and John lived.
C: Did John help farm the farm?
H: Yes, he did. He was the only boy on his farm living of his
family. He had to make a living for his family from the time he
was twelve years old. They had two sisters, a brother, and a
mother. They lived up between Fort White and Lake City. He had
to make a living, from the time he started about ten years old,
plowing a mule. He was raised up like that and, of course, he was
a brother of cousin Annie Lites that I was a cousin of...
C: So that was L-I-T-E-S, that family in High Springs? He was
related to them.
H: Oh, yes, he was a nephew of Crawford.
C: Crawford Lites. So some of your relatives have last names of
Lites, Means, McFadden, what else?
C: What is the connection with the Martins?
H: Papa's sister married Uncle Giles Martin and he was Giles Ellis
Martin (?). His mother was an Ellis.
C: Tell me something, Vernon, before we finish talking, I know how
much you like to look at the land and watch the plowing and look
at the cattle. Tell me what this land means to you.
H: A lots!! It is just home. Did you ever feel like there is any
place that is home to you?
H: That is what all of this feels like and I can not hardly realize
that it is all of it, but we have done all of it that we have.
Now, you take this place over there where Jeff is living. We
needed more land for feeding hogs. I was raising hogs and papa
knew we needed more land. I was renting this place over there
where Jeff is now from the lady in St. Pete and papa said, "Why
don't you she was wanting to sell it". And I said,
"Papa". Papa said, "Go buy it". All papa had done himself was to
buy on credit almost himself. His credit was always that good.
He would figure out how he could do it, you know. So, that is'
what he said, "go over there and buy it". So he sent me down
C: We are almost at the end of this interview and before we close
it, I want to ask you a question about the land. I know that you
have traveled. You have been to Peru. You have been that far
away. I do not know where else you have been, but you have
traveled around some.
H: South America.
C: What is special to you about this place.
H: Oh, it is just home. It is Florida. We have it warm, we have it
cold, but as a whole, we never had any heat in that house, but
C: Well, you have called this land God's country.
C: Why do you call it God's country?
H: Papa always called it God's country.
C: What did he mean?
H: He came from Kentucky and he always thought it was so much better
than up there, I reckon, that he called it God's country. But, he
C: Do you think your dad would be proud of what you and Mary Lou
H: Oh, he was proud before he left here. He was so proud and he
pushed us. He pushed us to buy that Str place.
C: So I guess he would be.
H: Oh, yes.
C: I am going to end this, part I of my interview with you. Thank
you very much.
H: You are welcome.