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Interviewier: Cathy Puckett Subject: Drew Fletcher SR1 page 1 P: This is Cathy Puckett, interviewing Drew Fletcher of Branford, Florida. Geez. Okay, now it's working. Okay, so you were born in Branford when? F: Born in ? P: Were you born in Branford? F: No. ?: He was born in Lafayette. F: I was born in Columbia county. P: F: I was born in Columbia county, was raised in Lafayette county until seventeen years of age and came to Branford 1916. P: When were you born F: Nineteen, 1898. P: So you were here around the turn of the century. F: Yes, ma'am. P: Where did you live in Columbia county? F: No, ma'am. P: In Lafayette county. F: Lafayette county. P: And your parents, what did they do? Were they farmers? F: We ran a water mill, ground corn, raised a few hogs, cattle, farmed a little, run a store, also had a country post office at that time down there. P: What part of Lafayette county was that in? Was it near a city? F: No, in the, McCall's Chapel, oh, down in Millcreek. P: Uh huh. Come from a big family? Do you have very many brothers and sisters and.... F: Was four boys and one girl in the family. P: So, do many of them, do they all live around here, too? F: No, one brother's in California and one passed away in 1956 of luekemia -my youngest brother -and the other brother lives here and my sister is at the Newport Richie.



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SR(A page 2 P: So you moved to Branford in 1916. F: Yes, ma'am. Moved to Branford in 1916. P: Why did you move to Branford? What made you pick Branford? F: I bought a blacksmith shop out here and moved here, went in business formyself. P: How did you learn to be a blacksmith? Did someone teach you or.... F: We had a blacksmith, country blacksmith's shop over down the water mill place. My father was a blacksmith ahead of me and I was raised up in the shop. P: So you knew it already. You knew how to do it all and.... What kind of business did you do? I mean, what kinds of things did you do? F: We worked on wagons and buggies, shoed horses, and plows, log carts, whatever we come to have. P: Uh huh. Did you see a lot of people coming through? People come through Branford on the way going to other places or was it mainly just.... F: Not too many at that time. P: So just mainly you saw the community here and people growing up here. F: Not very many people wasn't very thickly settled here at that time, but most people did a lot of farming around in the country here that wasn't cattle business or timber business, something like that. There was a lot of turpentining going on at that time. The Howells had a turpentine still near to us about a couple or three miles from us that they done a lot of turpentining and those large tracts of land over there which the St. Regis paper company now owns. ?: The Howells over that lived near had They owned a lot of land over there didn't they, in Lafayette county? And Alachua. P: Is your blacksmith shop still here? F: No, no. P: Well, where was it? On the main street here in Branford? F: Right across the block from here. P: Right across the block right there? How long did you run the blacksmith shop? F: I, I'll run-blacksmith shop until I was forced out of it by automobiles. Automobiles taken the place of wagons and buggies and tractors taken the place of horses and so one and therefore, I went in the garage business and filling station.



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SRIA page 3 P: So you switched from horses to the machines. F: Yeah. P: That's good. Sounds like a smart move. Smart thing to do. F: Yeah. P: So would you shoe horses? Did you shoe horses or things like.... F: Sure, sure. Yeah. P: Did you get any ornery horses, then? F: Well, we, we shoed horses at that time, but there wasn't any cfO~c -;tat that time and all horses didn't have to be shod. P: Uh huh. F: Just, just a few, a, feet would split open or something or other and they'd come and have them shod, take care of their feet. P: So did you use an open fireplace? F: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. P: Can you tell me how you would shod a horse, for example. F: Oh, the.... .Repeat it. P: How you would shod a horse. Isn't that what it's called? Can you tell me how you would do that in your blacksmith shop? F: Oh, yeah. We just picked up one of the feet, and drawed it off with a drawing knife on our, on our knee, probably, and held it up there between our legs and got the, fitted down like we wanted, then fit the shoe to it, nailed it on. P: So most of your business probably came from fixing things like plows and that kind of stuff back then in the blacksmith shop. F: Yeah. P: And not from shedding horses. F: No, no. We didn't have much shoeing of horses. Very little bit, but did have some of it. P: What did Branford look like then? If you were walking down that street right there, what would it have looked like? F: Was no pavement here at all. P: Wooden houses?



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SRIA page 4 F: All wooden houses. I believe the bank was built in 1911. It was a brick building and Taylor & Dempsey, I think, had a brick building and most everything else is, other was wooden buildings. P: Were there stores down there? F: What? P: When you would come here to town? People would come here to town to buy all their goods? F: They'd, they bought Lafayette county and Suwannee county was this end of it, all cleared here at Branford at that time. P: Did they use boats to come here or.... F: No, they had boats on the river, though back, they transferred this rosin and turpentine by boat out to Cedar Keys somewhere. I don't know just how far they run them boats now, I don't remember. But they transferred, and also some timber. Course railroads was here at the time. They run a passenger train here then. No passenger train runs now. Haven't for several years. P: Uh huh. Was that Peggy? Was that the passenger train called Peggy? F: No. P: Down here? F: No, no. P: So boats used to carry things down there river. F: Yeah. P: Was the, the railroad was here. F: The railroad was here, yeah. The railroad's here my time. P: How about steamboats? That was before your time. F: No, that was, that was, steamboats came up here, transferred this rosin stuff down the river. P: Uh huh. Do you remember any of the steamboats? F: The Suwannee Bell was one of them and I don't remember the others now, but there was two or three of them, pretty good-sized boats. P: Did you ever take any rides on the steamboats? F: No, no. No.



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SRI A page 5 P: No rides? F: I always had to come across the river to, back in them days, by flat. Didn't have no bridge. P: Uh huh. Did the river ever flood back then? F: The first time, I believe, was in 1908, but all the time I remember and that was the year they was building the first bridge at Branford. P: Uh huh. Did they build it after the flood? F: Well, I wouldn't say. I don't know. P: Are you comfortable holding that? Would it be better to set it down somewhere? F: It's al-'right. P: Okay. ?: _______ __ yeah, sure. P: Cause I'll hold it for you if you don't want to hold it or if you get tired. F: It's all right, all right. All right. P: Your wife, was she born in this area? In Branford? ?: Hello. P: Fine. How are you? Let me make sure that it's going right. ?: P: So, did you ever hear people talk about steamboat rides? F: Oh, yes. Some, but that's been so long ago now, they quit running them short runs. They quit running them before I came to Branford. P: Uh huh. Did you see them as a little boy? F: Yeah. I remember seeing one when I was a little boy. P: Were they impressive? Did they, were they all painted white or did they look pretty or.... F: Well, yeah, best I remember. ? My great-grandmother rode on one. P: She rode on one? ?: You know Minnie Lee Slokem? Her name was Minnie Slokerf before she got married and then her name was Minnie Lindsey? She was Aunt Lizzie's sister and she was a teenager rode on,



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SRIA page 6 ?: rode on one. She married a man named Lindsey and moved down to Gilchrist county and was married -I can't remember the other one's last name, but she was, she was probably about ten years older than me. F: I don't recall. I don't remember. P: What did you think when you saw things changing? I mean when the cars came in and traffic and stuff like that and horses went out. What kinds of things did you think about that change? Were you excited by it? Scared by it? What did you think about it? F: Oh, gradually went out of the blacksmith business. I moved the blacksmith shop down there to my, on the main street and built that brick building there, Fletcher's garage, now, and I operated a blacksmith shop in connection with my other business for a while until it, I just eventually worked it out, kind of. I did a lot of welding and stuff right on... P: Uh huh. F: ... of, you know, for farmers, right, right on down there in the garage, but cars, we had the old forge work, I didn't do it. Which, a lot of people don't know, a lot of people don't know anything about forge anymore. ?: :I don't. I don't know much about it. F: We, at the old water mill, we had an old bellows type. You pulled the lever. Worked like a bellows blow the fire in the forge. P: used to do that. F: Yeah. ?: Oh, how neat. P: Yeah. You just hold it down? F: Yeah. And then after I come to Branford, we used a kind of a crank with a handle to blow, blow the our fire. ?: Did you find that satisfying work? I mean, did you like that better than, what, working in a garage, or it did it.... F: Oh, I never did like garage work. I just had it to do. Had to do something to make a living and so therefore I never did like it like I did the blacksmithing. Machinist work was my talent, really. I should have went off somewhere, went in the big machine shop and got me a job is what I should've done.



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SR1A page 7 P: What did you like about blacksmithing? What was F: Any of it. Mostly I, I did a lot of wheel work and a lot of wagon, buggie building, so on, but most any of it, I enjoyed working with it. But, I never did like the garage work. It's too greasy and nasty. P: Uh huh. Of course, blacksmithing is not. Do you like working with your hands, doing stuff with your hands? Did you find that satisfying? F: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. P: What is an open building, your shop? Did it have a side open like a lot of the old blacksmith shops? F: Oh, the side door opened. Yeah, yeah. P: When you were a little boy and you lived out in Lafayette county, what was a big day out for your family? F: We didn't have no big day off, we went to school a little big and worked in the field and worked in the shop. Had something to do all the time. P: Did you ever do things like go fishing for or.... F: Well some time, didn't none of them go fishing. P: Oh. F: Yeah. P: So, did you go to the Suwannee River or to the lakes or.... F: We had a good creek there to fish and caught all the fish we wanted. P: Uh huh. What kind of fish? Catfish? F: Most any kind. Brim, bass. Some time, kill a turkey, or something or another down there. We had something fresh all along. P: So what was your house like that you grew up in, out there in Lafayette county? F: Well, when we first moved there it was a old log house, but we built another house and after that, lived there until I came to Branford. P: Did it have, did your mom cook in a big, one of the big old black stoves like that or did you use a fire place or.... F: Well, we had a cookstove down there, a range, what we called a range at that time that they cooked on. There was, baked some mighty good biscuits,



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SR1A page 8 P: Uh huh. Did you make them in a big old black pot? Like we have __ F: Yeah. P: That kind of.... F: Yeah. P: Cover it up, cover the pot up. A dutch oven type pot. F: Yeah. P: They make the biscuits. Can't make good biscuits in anything else. F: Yeah. ?: My grandmother used to take biscuits to school. They'd put a biscuit and jelly together and take two biscuits with jelly to school and that was there lunch. P: Uh huh. F: Since I've got, been to Branford, we've been out on a camp-hunt store in Lafayette and I got one of them twelve-inchold ovens right now that I used to cook biscuits on. P: I'd like to see it when we're done, if I can. Can I see it? F: (laughter) Yeah, you might. P: I like to make biscuits and I like to cook. ? i:Illike to eat them. I like to eat them real well. F: Well, the crowd always could eat them. I even made the biscuits and.... P: How do you make them? Can you tell us your recipe? F: Well, no, no recipe to it; it's just like anyone making biscuits. P: Uh huh. What do you do? F: You just, if you have self-rising flour, you just stir the flour up and got a stiff dough and roll it out and make biscuits. P: You put milk in it? F: Yeah, if you have milk? If you didn't, why you can just use water. P: Water. An egg -did you use eggs in it? F: No, no. :You use eggs sometimes in corn bread. P: Yeah.



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SR1A page 9 F: Sometimes you use an I P: Then you put it in the pot and put if over the fire, the campfire? F: Fixing these, cooking these biscuits you always leave the lid in the hot coals and then got you pot, pot hot and put them in there and put the lid on them and put the hot coals on top of the lid and brown them on top as well as on the bottom. P: Uh huh. Hey, that's neat. That sounds good. F: Yeah. P: And then what did you eat with them? Did you put syrup on them, cane syrup or.... F: ,Well, you eat biscuits with any other food you had. It'd come time, we'd have honey and some time we'd have syrup and so on. You'd eat biscuits with any other food you had all the time. P: Did you ever see panthers when you little? F: See what? P: Panthers? F: No. P: cats? F: No, no, no. ?: Did you ever make catfish stew? F: I, I would eat a lot of it at different times, but the other fellow usually made that. I didn't ever make no catfish stew, but Mr. Alf Dorsett just passed away here a few weeks ago, he ninety-two years old, he used to make it occasionally when we'd go out on fish or something or another. He was real good. ?: My grandaddy used to make it. He said every Friday they'd go fishing. They'd work during the week and Friday they'd go fishing, on Saturday they'd go to town, one Sunday they'd go to church. And every Friday, they'd set up a fishcamp and go fishing and, you know, they'd cut off the heads; they'd make catfish stew. P: So you use the heads for the stew. F: Yeah, yeah. ?: You use heads and tomatoes and green pepper and whatever you had and made a stew out of it. F: Yeah.



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SR1A page 10 P: You were _, everything was gone, you know, used everything, F: Didn't throw away nothing. (laughter) P: (laughter) Was that the rule in your house -don't throw away nothing? So for meat, did ya11 usually hunt in Lafayette county? Is that the way how you got most of your meat? F: Well, we didn't do much hunting. We did some, though. Turkeys was coming out of field there during the fall of the year and I'd kill turkey when, all them right there in the field. P: Uh huh. ?: Wasn't there a picture of you in the Branford paper about a year ago with a turkey? F: Yeah, yeah. ? Yeah, I thought so. showed that too me, you know. My grandfather. P: He said you had a bunch of newspaper clippings. He said I should ask to look at them. You were in the newspaper a lot. F: I don't, I think my wife has done away with all them old papers, most of them. P: Well, he says he's got them Do you still like to hunt? F: Oh, yeah. P: You go hunting a lot? F: Oh, yeah. P: Where do you go hunting now? F: I've, I've killed a lot of deer. I've killed a lot of squirrels and birds. Usually I go on all these here dove hunts around here whenever they open up dove season. I' enjoy it. P: What's your favorite kind of meat to eat that you hunt? F: Well, I don't think I have any special choice. I, I always did enjoy good venison and wild turkeys. This day and time is not what they used to be. P: How have they changed? F: They used to, when we killed a wild turkey, we had a lot of mass at that time that wedon't have today. I don't know why. Don't have the answer for that, but they might have had a



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SR1A page 11 F: lot of acorns in the woods and game would get fat in the fall of the year, instead of being so poor, and it was good -fitting to eat. P: Uh huh. F: Anything most you kill. I've killed, I've killed squirrels that was plumb white all along the __ Now, when you just, lean meat and skin and bones is all you find in the wild meat today cause the mass is gone. I don't know what the answer is. P: Do you have any ideas? Do you think its people, a lot of people moving in? F: No, that wouldn't have anything to do with it. It's just one of the things the good Lord is taking care of, I reckon. We don't know what the answer is, but we didn't have any mass this last year. Last gobbler or two that I've killed was poor and tough and you'd have to cook them about twice as much time to get them where you could eat them as you would when I was a boy and killed them by the woods. P: Uh huh. How about fishing? Is it the same way? Are fish nowadays as common anymore? F: Fish is a lot scarcer than what they was when I was a boy or even just a few years back. You could go to the river and catch you a mess of fish in two or three hours' time easy enough. Now, today, you have to fish half a day to get a mess of fish and you got a big family, you better go spend a week. P: (laughter) Earl was complaining just the same way the other day. He said there weren't any fish left out here. F: Mr. Earl told you that? That's right. That's right. They not there. Game department tell you they're there, but they're not. P: 'Cause you've lived here all your life. F: I've been right here and fished it for years and I know. I've fishing ever since I was a boy. P: Uh huh. F: And the fish is not there. P: Did you ever see big old sturgeon fish? F: Oh, yeah. P: And you don't see them much anymore, do you? F: No, they feD sturgeons in there and I don't, I don't know the answer for it except that I think it's the big boats that run up and down the river because you don't never see



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SR1A page 12 F: no beds near a bank anymore. P: And that's where you've seen them? F: Oh, yeah. Well, I've seen them make the bank look,fish almost up to him sideways and get in his bed... P: (laughter) F: ... all them flinty beds at that time. Now you don't see no beds nowhere on the river. P: So you think it's all these motor boats and stuff? F: I think so. ?: F: Normally I don't know, but I think so, and a lot of... P: There's a difference, isn't there? F: ... a lot of other people think the same thing that cause a ______ of the fish and it gets down low and so many people fishing now to what there was back when I was a boy, I think they fished them out. And they have a way to take care of the extra amount of fish, now. Everybody's got iceboxes, freezers and so on and they'd overdo it when they could catch them and back when I was boy, the'd go and catch a mess and quit. P: You catch what you can eat. F: Yes. ?: You eat every bit of it. F: They'd go fishing and catch enough and they either done the same way about killing stuff, the farmers. If they killed a beef in the summertime, well, they'd divide it around their neighbors because they didn't have iceboxes to take care of it. P: Well, where'd you, did you just get fresh milk and everything every day from the cows? From your cows? Things that would go down, things that would spoil that we put in the icebox now -like milk and butter? F: Oh, yeah. You couldn't take care of much of it, not back, back in them days. P: Uh huh. F: 'Cause you didn't have no way to take, keep it. ?: Are there things you miss about that way of life? I mean, living the way that you did before the Depression and before the war? Are there things that you miss about that? Did you like that way of life?



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SR A page 13 F: Well, we enjoyed a lot of good days back then. Of course, everybody had to work for a living in order to live, or else the family'd have to take care of one at that time. They didn't have no social security or welfare to take of you like a lot of them living off of today. P: When you get old, did your family take care of you? Did you live with your children? .... what did your mom do? F: Mostly calomel, quinine, castor oil. P: Okay. That sounds familiar. What'd you use for what? Quinine for malaria? F: Yeah, that's right. P: And other things like that. And castor oil for stomach problems. Was there any specific cures for things, like say you had an earache? F: I don't remember what they used for that. If they had the earache, I forget what it was now. ?: Did you ever hear of a cooling board? Did you ever hear of a cooling board? F: Oh, yeah. I've seen them used, P: What's that? What is a cooling board? I don't know. F: They, lay a dead person out on. ?: Came to see my grandaddy when he was they thought he had died, he quit breathing, they laid him out on a cooling board. F: When you died, they laid them, they washed them and laid them out on a cooling board until you, they build a coffin. P: Uh huh. Is it a board they kept him in ice or something or is it just a board? ?: The body cooled down on it. F: It might be a old, might door shutter or might be something out like that. They won't.... P: How about, did you hear about any cures like for snake bites or like rattlesnake bites or.... F: Those that got bit them days of snake usually died. P: Where there a lot of rattlesnakes?



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SR1A page 14 F: Oh, there's a lot of rattlensakes right on. The woods don't be burnt much, course there's a lot of rattlensakes, but we, most the people are careful about them, walking in the woods they got metal covers over their legs to protect them. P: Uh huh. Did you ever run, did you ever run into any snakes? F: No. I've almost walked right into them, but I'd see them in time to kill them. P: Uh huh. F: Hadn't been long ago since I was down at the old water mill and walking under, in the house there, and shelter where wood, I mean, dirt floor, and liked to walk into one about five foot long. P: Really! Ooh! P: What'd you do? F: I killed him. P: Really? With what? Did you have a gun? F: No, I had a shovel in my car and went and got it and went back in there and killed him with the shovel. P: That's how my mom kills her rattlesnakes, too, when my dad was gone, with the shovel, just.... That's how she killed them. F: Yeah. P: How old were you when you got married? How old were you when you got married, had kids? F: I was right close to eighteen. ?: Had you known your wife all your life, or.... F: No, I've been married three times. ?: Three times. F: My first wife died, was Minnie Jones, and she died of the flu in 1918. P: Was that the big flu? F: That's when the big flu was here. A lot of them were dying. P: Yeah. I just talked to someone last night who said his mother and dad and four of his sisters died in that big flu.



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SR1A pagel5 F: I know of a lady that would come in here, every day there'was somebody died, and they was building coffins all the time down here and lot of them went to the army and come back dead.:. P: Uh huh. F: ... from the flu and they seemed like the doctors didn't know anything about it, what to give for it. I feel sure that if I hadn't quit taking the medicirethe doctor give me, I'd've been dead. P: Really? So you think that's what happened to your wife. F: I didn't know anything but give her medicine what the doctor said give her and she'd taken double pneumonia and now in hospitals and so on, doctors are smart enough to knock the pneumonia out of you right quick, but they didn't have drugs that they've go now, so she died right out. P: How old was she? F: She was about seventeen, well, she was about nineteen when she died. P: Did you have any children? F: No, no. She didn't have any children. And I married Bertha Brown and had four children and this lady now is my third wife. I've been married to her six years. P: Uh huh. F: I lost, lost my Bertha in '74. P: Uh huh. ?: You thought of the name Quintella. Where does Quintella's name come from? F: My wife said she was the first girl and said she went to school, a teacher one time named Quintella and she was going to name her after that school lady. ?: I've always wondered where that came from... F: Yeah. ?: ... because I thought it was such an unusual name. F: Yeah, that's, she named herself after the lady she went to school to. P: Did they ever have, did you ever play any musical instruments? F: Me? P: Uh huh. F: No. I couldn't carry a tune in a suitcase.



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SR1A page 16 P: Did they ever have dances or anything up here or did they have a music parties or sing-a-longs.back in the older days? F: Hardly ever. Back in my growing up they, they'd have some kind of music, maybe, singing mostly at churches and also and sometime they'd be seme fellow in the country that could play a fiddle all right. There, a lot of fiddling that whenever they'd give maybe a frolic over at somebody's house, have a regular old good country-style dancing party. P: Uh huh. F: At night they'd have a fidd--, a good fiddler there to do fiddling. P: Is that where the boys and girls met -at the frolic? F: Yeah, yeah. P: What were they like? Just all the people from all around came? F: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. P: Did you dance, did you dance? F: Not much, no. P: You didn't. So did everyone bring their and food to frolics? What was the frolic like? F: Well, it'd be hard for me to explain. They'd just have dancing parties and have them, made a big room that they danced on the floors, not on the, not on the, you couldn't dance in nobody's house now on account of the carpet and the rugs that have in houses. But the.... P: They'd all wear the best clothes? F: They'd do what? P: Would you wear your good clothes to frolics? F: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. P: Did you have any favorite songs? F: Favorite what? P: Songs? F: No, no. Not especially, no. No,



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SR1A page 17 ?: Did you make a lot of things? Okay, my granddaddy talks about how he used to make baskets and everything they used around the farm, you know, they made and then he did a lot of the metal work and blacksmithing. Were there other kinds of things that you made, too? Maybe different things to build for F: You know, I remember very little about baskets being made out of wood. I mean, they used to take, cut white oak, I think, a good oak'd split well... ?: Yes. Thats.... F: ... and made up in ten pieces and build wooden baskets. ?: Yeah, they'd take the splints and weigh them. F: But I never did do any of that work. ?: Did you ever make the for them that they used to splint them with? F: No, I didn't do that either, because I remember very little about that work, but I do remember they did some of that. ?: Grandaddy showed me how they used to make them and, you know, they'd go out, he said they used oak and they used hickory. Sometimes they'd go out and split a hickory. F: Yeah, a good-splitting white oak will just split up in pieces on till your in maybe, oh, they had a, a table that they'd draw them slats down like they wanted to, a little thinner and wrapped them in good like they wanted to, but I didn't never get into any of that. P: Did you ever make catfish traps? F: I'didn't make any catfish traps, no. I, only fish trap I ever made was out of wire. P: Uh huh. How about turtles? Did you catch turtles? F: Not many, no. No. P: Do you have any of your tools left from being a blacksmith? Did you save any of your tools out of your blacksmith shop. F: I have a anvil and I have some old blacksmith tongs that I used to handle the hot iron with and so on and that's about all I've got left of it. I, just first one piece and then another went missing till it's all gone. The old blower, I don't know what's happened to the old blower. It was about wore out anyway and it's gone. My tire shrinker that'd shrink the metal tires smaller when they'd get loose on the rim I had -which



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SR1A page 18 F: ya'll don't know anything about that. P: No. Tell me. F: It sit out on the back and I don't know what went with it. It, oh, dissapeared. P: Did you ever hear any ghost stories when you were little or stories that.... F: Oh, yeah. We heard some of them. P: Do you remember any? F: No, I couldn't tell you any worth telling. About as good one as I ever heard, I think, was they used to, when anyone died they'd wash them and lay them out on the cooling board, let them lay out there over night, and if some neighbors would come over and sit up with them. One main fellow come over one night, I think it was an old lady died. She smoked an old cob pipe and a long stem and all the rest of the crowd went to sleep at night. This fellow he got the old lady up and set her up in the chair and put that pipe in here mouth and told them to get up and see grandma's up smoking. P: Oh! F: I thought that was pretty good. (laughter) P: That's so awful! Everyone was scared, I guess. ?: A couple of them mad, too, I imagine. P: Did you hear any others? Did you ever hear about pirates or treasure on the Suwannee? F: None that I remember of it right. P: Uh huh. Any other haunting stories? Cedar Key or? F: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Cedar key, they's scarce now, and they poor, what game you kill out of the woods is poor. ?: You; seem to be man who has a very good reputation. People think that you're very honest, you have good values and you're a good, honorable person and that seems to be hard thing to come by when you've lived as long as you've lived and you keep your values. F: Well, I was raised, I was raised thataway. ?: Well, a lot of people raised that way, not all of them stay that way. F: Well, I know some of them don't stay thataway, but then, I was raised thataway and I tried to keep it up.



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SR1A page 19 ?: Does it take a lot of self-discipline? I mean.... F: If I got any enemies I don't know it. ?: There were many. I've heard a lot people who are really glad to know you. There's a lot of them. F: Yeah, I know it. I'm proud of it. If I got any enemies, I don't know it. P: Uh huh. That's great. F: That's more than a lot of people can say. P: That's very true. Especially when you've lived a long time. That's very good. Yeah, most, most anybody'll do he a favor if I needed one. P: That's great. ?: Did ya'll used to help each other a lot, out, back before the war? I mean, I remember grandaddy talking about one summer he was sick and his neighbors came and took his cropping for him because he just couldn't do it and somebody had to do it then. Do you remember stuff like that or.... F: When anyone got sick? ?: You know, helping F: Oh, yeah. The neighbors would come over and plow a crop out whenever, if someone got sick in the country where they couldn't work their crop at the time, the neigbhors'd come over, work it out for them. Yeah, I remember things like that. ?: Do you still find that nowadays F: I don't, I don't believe you would. ?: I haven't noticed it either. (laughter) And the.... F: I don't believe you'd find anything like that nowadays and the... ? : F: ... if anybody, anybody plowed new ground, they'd have a log rolling and lot of people come over there and work like slaves picking up logs, toting bush, cutting trees down and so on, clearing new ground. But you couldn't get nobody to volunteer job like that now. I don't believe you could. P: Did they help raise houses, the people? If somebody was building a new house, would the neighbors come and help them build it?



PAGE 1

SR1A page 20 F: They did some, yeah, Yeah, ?: My grandaddy said one part of his neighbor's house was burned down and then in the next week they all got together and raise a house for him. It was real simple, you know,... F: Oh, yeah. ?: ... doing that... F: Yes. ?: ... and the;inside wasn't finished but they built them a house, F: Yeah, they'd do that too. ?: For his family. P: Cane raising -did you ever have canes, caning parties ... F: Oh, yeah. We had, we raised cane, made our own syrup. We got a cane mill and sugar kettles and corn. We made our own syrup. In other words, we made everything we eat, near about, on the farm except flour and sugar. We'd buy a little four and sugar and coffee and everything else we raised on the farm. ?: What you ate during the winter different? Did you eat different things, then, during the winter than you'd eat during the summer? Did you F: Well, not much different. We had, we had a good garden year around and it'd be growing, maybe one kind of greens would grow in the winter time that wouldn't grow in the summer, or summertime wouldn't may, wouldn't grow in the wintertime. We'd, we'd have a good garden, though, year around. Raised our own sweet potatoes and our cane and banked sweet potatoes and have potatoes the year around. ?: Do you know what a sweet potato bank is? P: No. ?: Youwwant to tell her what a sweet potato bank is, how you bank them? F: Well, they, they usually just drove up stakes, dug out a hole kind of around where they banked them, drove stakes up there and leaning to the top and to the center and taken pine bark and covered it and then throwed the dirt up on it so it'd be airtight there and have one scuttle hole in there to the potatoes. P: Uh huh. So you'd reach down that hole and get out the potatoes? F: Yeah.



PAGE 1

SR1A page 21 ?: That's how they'd store them and that's where the banks used to be. It wasn't a money bank. When they talked about banks, they were talking about sweet potatoes. F: Yeah, yeah. P: When you went to town did you usually trade crops for getting your sugar and flour? When your parents went to Branford or to.... F: We come to Branford about every two or three or four weeks, something like that and got stuff here. Of course he had a little country store down there and my daddy run and he kept all that stuff in the store most of the time. I remember it, he'd have to come up here about once't a month, something or other like that. ?: So your daddy ran a country store? F: Country store and post office and blacksmith shop and farm and grist mill. P: He was busy man. That's something. F: Oh, he, he worked overtime. P: Did you work in the store with him? F: Well,... P: I mean, did you work F: ... very little, very little. Very little. I, 'course I, he died when, I was the oldest and he died when I was eleven years old. ?: Did you have to work a lot harder then? I mean, did you help your mom.... F: Well, I was kind of the head of the family and I learnt the work. P: I bet you did. Raise the crops still? Did you still raise the crops? F: Well, we did some farming as well as anythinq else. I, I worked in the shop, working in;the shop. Went to school what little bit I could. ?: What happened to your dad? How did he die so long? F: He taken typhoid fever. Back them days, there wasn't no cure for it either, hardly. But I hadn't, my sister and one of my brothers, I believe, had it, and my dad taken it, died right.... P: All of them died from it? F: No, my brother and my sister didn't. My sister had it, I think, thirty-three days, never did past She kept her strength up. Of course, she was



PAGE 1

SR1A page 22 F: just a kid at that time, but, about four, five years old. ?: Did your mom marry again? Did your mother remarry or did she stay single? F: Oh, several years after did, yeah. Yeah. ?: What brought your dad to Florida? I mean, your, your, was it your daddy or your granddaddy that came to Florida? Who came here? First? F: I don't know. I think they're all, I think they, the Fletchers was here for many years. I don't know just, my daddy was evidentally born here. ?: Okay. So it's probably his daddy that first came here back in their early 1800s or something? F: Could have, could have been. I don't, I don't know. Of course, it's, Fletcher's just as far back as I can remember being the older set. Yeah. ?: So your dad was probably born around the time of the Civil War or after? F: Uh.... ?-' A little bit after that? F: He didn't ever, he wasn't in the, the Revolutionary War. ?: He was born about F: About that time, though. Along in that time, I know. Yeah. ?: Do you have a family cemetery around here? Are all the Fletchers, is there like a family cemetery near the church or something for all the Fletchers? F: No, we don't. There's just some of them that each graveyard's around them. Was a bunch of older Fletchers buried down there at rock sink. Then, there's a little cemetery back out there near Matthis Lake where a bunch of old ones buried there, but you can't get into now, on account of it being fenced up, I think, out there and there's some buried out here. My brother's buried out here, then my brother that lives here, he's got two wives a buried out there that passed away and they's Luther Fletcher was raised up here by Otrien, he's buried out here. Some of them buried up here at Obrien cemetery. They just scattered about everywhere. I can't tell. P: Did you ever hear of someone called Lord Bill of the Suwannee River? F: Bill of the Suwannee? Yeah. P: Did you ever hear about a man called Bill of the Suwannee River?



PAGE 1

SR A page 23 F: A man? P: Uh huh. He was rather farther down the river so you might not have heard of him. Okay. F: I don't remember now. P: Did you have any heroes up from the river that you know about, like Captain James Tucker from the steamboat, or other people? F: No. ?: You say you used to deliver mail when your daddy had the post office did you ever work with the mail, yourself? F: Well, very little. I was just a boy at that time. I didn't have anything to do with the post office, but after I'd been to Branford, I been a substitute carrier and temporary carrier a couple of times for about forty-four years. I was appointed a sub carrier in 1928 and quit In '72, but, we carried the mail rural route with a automobile. Wasn't no automobiles when I was a boy carried no mail. ?: When was the first time you saw a car? F: Oh, I wouldn't know now what year it was. It must have been, the Howells bought one, old man Wilson bought one and I believe, around 1908 or 1909, somewhere along there. It was, it might have been a little later than that. I don't remember just exactly. It might have been around 1912. I don't remember. P: When you came to Branford with your family, or with your daddy when he came here every four weeks for stuff, did you use a buggie to get here? Horse, horse and buggie or.... F: No. I don't, we had, we didn't have any buggie. We had a wagon. P: Uh huh. F: We used a wagon. P: And mules would draw it or.... F: Mules, horses, pull it. P: How long did it take you to get here? F: Well, we usually, it was about nine miles from here. It'd take him about three hours, P: Uh huh. ?: That's a long time. F: Yeah the horse would, horse would walk about,.


Drew Fletcher
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Interviewier: Cathy Puckett
Subject: Drew Fletcher
SR1
page 1

P: This is Cathy Puckett, interviewing Drew Fletcher of Branford, Florida.

Geez. Okay, now it's working. Okay, so you were born in Branford when?

F: Born in ?

P: Were you born in Branford?

F: No.

?: He was born in Lafayette.

F: I was born in Columbia county.

P:

F: I was born in Columbia county, was raised in Lafayette county until seventeen years of

age and came to Branford 1916.

P: When were you born?

F: Nineteen, 1898.

P: So you were here around the turn of the century.

F: Yes, ma'am.

P: Where did you live in Columbia county?

F: No, ma'am.

P: In Lafayette county.

F: Lafayette county.

P: And your parents, what did they do? Were they farmers?

F: We ran a water mill, ground corn, raised a few hogs, cattle, farmed a little, run a store,

also had a country post office at that time down there.

P: What part of Lafayette county was that in? Was it near a city?

F: No, in the, McCall's Chapel, oh, down in Millcreek.

P: Uh huh. Come from a big family? Do you have very many brothers and sisters and....

F: Was four boys and one girl in the family.

P: So, do many of them, do they all live around here, too?

F: No, one brother's in California and one passed away in 1956 of luekemia -- my youngest

brother -- and the other brother lives here and my sister is at the Newport Richie.





SRIA
page 2

P: So you moved to Branford in 1916.

F: Yes, ma'am. Moved to Branford in 1916.

P: Why did you move to Branford? What made you pick Branford?

F: I bought a blacksmith shop out here and moved here, went in business formyself.

P: How did you learn to be a blacksmith? Did someone teach you or....

F: We had a blacksmith, country blacksmith's shop over down the water mill place. My father was

a blacksmith ahead of me and I was raised up in the shop.

P: So you knew it already. You knew how to do it all and.... What kind of business did you do?

I mean, what kinds of things did you do?

F: We worked on wagons and buggies, shoed horses, and plows, log carts, whatever we come to have.

P: Uh huh. Did you see a lot of people coming through? People come through Branford on the

way going to other places or was it mainly just....

F: Not too many at that time.

P: So just mainly you saw the community here and people growing up here.

F: Not very many peopleywasn't very thickly settled here at that time, but most people did a lot

of farming around in the country here that wasn't cattle business or timber business, some-

thing like that. There was a lot of turpentining going on at that time. The Howells had

a turpentine still near to us about a couple or three miles from us that they done a lot of

turpentining and those large tracts of land over there which the St. Regis paper company

now owns.

?: The Howells over that lived near had They owned a lot of land over

there didn't they, in Lafayette county? And Alachua.

P: Is your blacksmith shop still here?

F: No, no.

P: Well, where was it? On the main street here in Branford?

F: Right across the block from here.

P: Right across the block right there? How long did you run the blacksmith shop?

F: I, I'll runblacksmith shop until I was forced out of it by automobiles. Automobiles taken

the place of wagons and buggies and tractors taken the place of horses and so one and

therefore, I went in the garage business and filling station.





SRIA
page 3

P: So you switched from horses to the machines.

F: Yeah.

P: That's good. Sounds like a smart move. Smart thing to do.

F: Yeah.

P: So would you shoe horses? Did you shoe horses or things like....

F: Sure, sure. Yeah.

P: Did you get any ornery horses, then?

F: Well, we, we shoed horses at that time, 'but there wasn't any ,Cf e-:'tat that time and all

horses didn't have to be shod.

P: Uh huh.

F: Just, just a few, a, feet would split open or something or other and they'd come and have

them shod, take care of their feet.

P: So did you use an open fireplace?

F: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

P: Can you tell me how you would shod a horse, for example.

F: Oh, the.... .Repeat it.

P: How you would shod a horse. Isn't that what it's called? Can you tell me how you would

do that in your blacksmith shop?

F: Oh, yeah. We just picked up one of the feet, and drawed it off with a drawing knife on our,

on our knee, probably, and held it up there between our legs and got the, fitted down like

we wanted, then fit the shoe to it, nailed it on.

P: So most of your business probably came from fixing things like plows and that kind of stuff

back then in the blacksmith shop.

F: Yeah.

P: And not from shedding horses.

F: No, no. We didn't have much shoeing of horses. Very little bit, but did have some of it.

P: What did Branford look like then? If you were walking down that street right there, what

would it have looked like?

F: Was no pavement here at all.

P: Wooden houses?




SRIA
page 4

F: All wooden houses. I believe the bank was built in 1911. It was a brick building and

Taylor & Dempsey, I think, had a brick building and most everything else is, other was

wooden buildings.

P: Were there stores down there?

F: What?

P: When you would come here to town? People would come here to town to buy all their goods?

F: They'd, they bought Lafayette county and Suwannee county was this end of it, all cleared

here at Branford at that time.

P: Did they use boats to come here or....

F: No, they had boats on the river, though back, they transferred this rosin and turpentine

by boat out to Cedar Keys somewhere. I don't know just how far they run them boats now.

I don't remember. But they transferred, and also some timber. Course railroads was here

at the time. They run a passenger train here then. No passenger train runs now. Haven't

for several years.

P: Uh huh. Was that Peggy? Was that the passenger train called Peggy?

F: No.

P: Down here?

F: No, no.

P: So boats used to carry things down there river.

F: Yeah.

P: Was the, the railroad was here.

F: The railroad was here, yeah. The railroad's here my time.

P: How about steamboats? That was before your time.

F: No, that was, that was, steamboats came up here, transferred this rosin stuff down the

river.

P: Uh huh. Do you remember any of the steamboats?

F: The Suwannee Bell was one of them and I don't remember the others now, but there was

two or three of them, pretty good-sized boats.

P: Did you ever take any rides on the steamboats?

F: No, no. No.






SRI A
page 5

P: No rides?

F: I always had to come across the river to, back in them days, by flat. Didn't have no

bridge.

P: Uh huh. Did the river ever flood back then?

F: The first time, I believe, was in 1908, but all the time I remember and that was the year

they was building the first bridge at Branford.

P: Uh huh.

Did they build it after the flood?

F: Well, I wouldn't say. I don't know.

P: Are you comfortable holding that? Would it be better to set it down somewhere?

F: It's al-'right.

P: Okay.

?: yeah, sure.

P: Cause I'll hold it for you if you don't want to hold it or if you get tired.

F: It's all right, all right. All right.

P: Your wife, was she bbrn in this area? In Branford?

?: Hello.

P: Fine. How are you? Let me make sure that it's going right.
?:

P: So, did you ever hear people talk about steamboat rides?

F: Oh, yes. Some, but that's been so long ago now, they quit running them short runs. They

quit running them before I came to Branford.

P: Uh huh. Did you see them as a little boy?

F: Yeah. I remember seeing one when I was a little boy.

P: Were they impressive? Did they, were they all painted white or did they look pretty or....

F: Well, yeah, best I remember.

? My great-grandmother rode on one.

P: She rode on one?

?: You know Minnie Lee Slokem? Her name was Minnie Slokefn before she got married and then

her name was Minnie Lindsey? She was Aunt Lizzie's sister and she was a teenager rode on,





SRIA
page 6

?: rode on one. She married a man named Lindsey and moved down to Gilchrist county and was

married -- I can't remember the other one's last name, but she was, she was probably about

ten years older than me.

F: I don't recall. I don't remember.

P: What did you think when you saw things changing? I mean when the cars came in and traffic

and stuff like that and horses went out. What kinds of things did you think about that

change? Were you excited by it? Scared by it? What did you think about it?

F: Oh, gradually went out of the blacksmith business. I moved the blacksmith shop down there

to my, on the main street and built that brick building there, Fletcher's garage, now, and

I operated a blacksmith shop in connection with my other business for a while until it, I

just eventually worked it out, kind of. I did a lot of welding and stuff right on...

P: Uh huh.

F: ...of, you know, for farmers, right, right on down there in the garage, but cars, we had

the old forge work, I didn't do it. Which, a lot of people don't know, a lot of people

don't know anything about forge anymore.

?: I don't. I don't know much about it.

F: We, at the old water mill, we had an old bellows type. You pulled the lever. Worked

like a bellows blow the fire in the forge.

P: used to do that.

F: Yeah.

?: Oh, how neat.

P: Yeah. You just hold it down?

F: Yeah. And then after I come to Branford, we used a kind of a crank with a handle to

blow, blow the our fire.

?: Did you find that satisfying work? I mean, did you like that better than, what, working

in a garage, or it did it....

F: Oh, I never did like garage work. I just had it to do. Had to do something to make a

living and so therefore I never did like it like I did the blacksmithing. Machinist

work was my talent, really. I should have went off somewhere, went in the big machine

shop and got me a job is what I should've done.




SR1A
page 7

P: What did you like about blacksmithing? What was

F: Any of it. Mostly I, I did a lot of wheel work and a lot of wagon, buggie building, so

on, but most any of it, I enjoyed working with it. But, I never did like the garage work.

It's too greasy and nasty.

P: Uh huh. Of course, blacksmithing is not.

Do you like working with your hands, doing stuff with your hands? Did you find that

satisfying?

F: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

P: What is an open building, your shop? Did it have a side open like a lot of the old

blacksmith shops?

F: Oh, the side door opened. Yeah, yeah.

P: When you were a little boy and you lived out in Lafayette county, what was a big day out

for your family?

F: We didn't have no big day off, we went to school a little big and worked in the field and

worked in the shop. Had something to do all the time.

P: Did you ever do things like go fishing for or....

F: Well some time, didn't none of them go fishing.

P: Oh.

F: Yeah.

P: So, did you go to the Suwannee River or to the lakes or....

F: We had a good creek there to fish and caught all the fish we wanted.

P: Uh huh. What kind of fish? Catfish?

F: Most any kind. Brim, bass. Some time, kill a turkey, or something or another down

there. We had something fresh all along.

P: So what was your house like that you grew up in, out there in Lafayette county?

F: Well, when we first moved there it was a old log house, but we built another house and

after that, lived there until I came to Branford.

P: Did it have, did your mom cook in a big, one of the big old black stoves like that or

did you use a fire place or....

F: Well, we had a cookstove down there, a range, what we called a range at that time that

they cooked on. There was, baked some mighty good biscuits,





SR1A
page 8

P: Uh huh. Did you make them in a big old black pot? Like we have

F: Yeah.
P: That kind of....

F: Yeah.
P: Cover it up, cover the pot up. A dutch oven type pot.

F: Yeah.

P: They make the biscuits. Can't make good biscuits in any-

thing else.

F: Yeah.

?: My grandmother used to take biscuits to school. They'd put a biscuit and jelly together

and take two biscuits with jelly to school and that was there lunch.

P: Uh huh.

F: Since I've got, been to Branford, we've been out on a camp-hunt store in Lafayette and

I got one of them twelve-inch,old ovens right now that I used to cook biscuits on.

P: I'd like to see it when we're done, if I can. Can I see it?

F: (laughter) Yeah, you might.

P: I like to make biscuits and I like to cook.

? :I llike to eat them. I like to eat them real well.

F: Well, the crowd always could eat them. I even made the biscuits and....

P: How do you make them? Can you tell us your recipe?

F: Well, no, no recipe to it; it's just like anyone making biscuits.

P: Uh huh. What do you do?

F: You just, if you have self-rising flour, you just stir the flour up and got a stiff dough

and roll it out and make biscuits.

P: You put milk in it?

F: Yeah, if you have milk? If you didn't, why you can just use water.

P: Water. An egg -- did you use eggs in it?

F: No, no.

:You use eggs sometimes in corn bread.

P: Yeah.





SR1A
page 9

F: Sometimes you use an _

P: Then you put it in the pot and put if over the fire, the campfire?

F: Fixing these, cooking these biscuits you always leave the lid in the hot coals and then

got you pot, pot hot and put them in there and put the lid on them and put the hot coals

on top of the lid and brown them on top as well as on the bottom.

P: Uh huh. Hey, that's neat. That sounds good.

F: Yeah.

P: And then what did you eat with them? Did you put syrup on them, cane syrup or....

F: Well, you eat biscuits with any other food you had. It'd come time, we'd have honey and

some time we'd have syrup and so on. You'd eat biscuits with any other food you had

all the time.

P: Did you ever see panthers when you little?

F: See what?

P: Panthers?

F: No.

P: cats?

F: No, no, no.

?: Did you ever make catfish stew?

F: I, I would eat a lot of it at different times, but the other fellow usually made that. I

didn't ever make no catfish stew, but Mr. Alf Dorsett just passed away here a few weeks

ago, he ninety-two years old, he used to make it occasionally when we'd go out on fish or

something or another. He was real good.

?: My grandaddy used to make it. He said every Friday they'd go fishing. They'd work during

the week and Friday they'd go fishing, on Saturday they'd go to town, one Sunday they'd

go to church. And every Friday, they'd set up a fishcamp and go fishing and, you know,

they'd cut off the heads; they'd make catfish stew.

P: So you use the heads for the stew.

F: Yeah, yeah.

?: You use heads and tomatoes and green pepper and whatever you had and made a stew out of it.

F: Yeah.




SR1A
page 10

P: You were everything was gone, you know, used everything,

F: Didn't throw away nothing. (laughter)

P: (laughter) Was that the rule in your house -- don't throw away nothing?
So for meat, did ya'll usually hunt in Lafayette county? Is

that the way how you got most of your meat?

F: Well, we didn't do much hunting. We did some, though. Turkeys was coming out of field

there during the fall of the year and I'd kill turkey when, all them right there in the

field.

P: Uh huh.

?: Wasn't there a picture of you in the Branford paper about a year ago with a turkey?

F: Yeah, yeah.

? YeMh, I thought so. showed that too me, you know. My grandfather.

P: He said you had a bunch of newspaper clippings. He said I should ask to look at them.

You were in the newspaper a lot.

F: I don't, I think my wife has done away with all them old papers, most of them.

P: Well, he says he's got them

Do you still like to hunt?

F: Oh, yeah.

P: You go hunting a lot?

F: Oh, yeah.

P: Where do you go hunting now?

F: I've, I've killed a lot of deer. I've killed a lot of squirrels and birds. Usually I

go on all these here dove hunts around here whenever they open up dove season. I'

enjoy it.

P: What's your favorite kind of meat to eat that you hunt?

F: Well, I don't think I have any special choice. I, I always did enjoy good venison and

wild turkeys. This day and time is not what they used to be.

P: How have they changed?

F: They used to, when we killed a wild turkey, we had a lot of mass at that time that wedon't
have today. I don't know why. Don't have the answer for that, but they might have had a





SR1A
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F: lot of acorns in the woods and game would get fat in the fall of the year, instead of

being so poor, and it was good -- fitting to eat.

P: Uh huh.

F: Anything most you kill. I've killed, I've killed squirrels that was plumb white all along

the Now, when you just, lean meat and skin and bones is all you find

in the wild meat today cause the mass is gone. I don't know what the answer is.

P: Do you have any ideas? Do you think its people, a lot of people moving in?

F: No, that wouldn't have anything to do with it. It's just one of the things the good Lord

is taking care of, I reckon. We don't know what the answer is, but we didn't have any

mass this last year. Last gobbler or two that I've killed was poor and tough and you'd

have to cook them about twice as much time to get them where you could eat them as you

would when I was a boy and killed them by the woods.

P: Uh huh. How about fishing? Is it the same way? Are fish nowadays as common anymore?

F: Fish is a lot scarcer than what they was when I was a boy or even just a few years

back. You could go to the river and catch you a mess of fish in two or three hours'

time easy enough. Now, today, you have to fish half a day to get a mess of fish and

you got a big family, you better go spend a week.

P: (laughter) Earl was complaining just the same way the other day. He said there weren't

any fish left out here.

F: Mr. Earl told you that? That's right. That's right. They not there. Game department

tell you they're there,',but they're not.

P: 'Cause you've lived here all your life.

F: I've been right here and fished it for years and I know. I've fishing ever since I was

a boy.

P: Uh huh.

F: And the fish is not there.

P: Did you ever see big old sturgeon fish?

F: Oh, yeah.

P: And you don't,see them much anymore, do you?

F: No, they f&e sturgeons in there and I don't, I don't know the answer for it except that

I think it's the big boats that run up and down the river because you don't never see





SR1A
page 12

F: no beds near a bank anymore.

P: And that's where you've seen them?

F: Oh, yeah. Well, I've seen them make the bank look,fish almost up to him sideways and get

in his bed...

P: (laughter)

F: ...all them flinty beds at that time. Now you don't see no beds nowhere on the river.

P: So you think it's all these motor boats and stuff?

F: I think so.

?:

F: Normally I don't know, but I think so, and a lot of...

P: There's a difference, isn't there?

F: ...a lot of other people think the same thing that cause a of the fish

and it gets down low and so many people fishing now to what there was back when I was

a boy, I think they fished them out. And they have a way to take care of the extra amount

of fish, now. Everybody's got iceboxes, freezers and so on and they'd overdo it when they

could catch them and back when I was boy, the'd go and catch a mess and quit.

P: You catch what you can eat.

F: Yes.

?: You eat every bit of it.

F: They'd go fishing and catch enough and they either done the same way about killing stuff,

the farmers. If they killed a beef in the summertime, well, they'd divide it around their

neighbors because they didn't have iceboxes to take care of it.

P: Well, where'd you, did you just get fresh milk and everything every day from the cows?

From your cows? Things that would go down, things that would spoil that we put in the

icebox now -- like milk and butter?

F: Oh, yeah. You couldn't take care of much of it, not back, back in them days.

P: Uh huh.

F: 'Cause you didn't have no way to take, keep it.

?: Are there things you miss about that way of life? I mean, living the way that you did

before the Depression and before the war? Are there things that you miss about that?

Did you like that way of life?





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page 13

F: Well, we enjoyed a lot of good days back then. Of course, everybody had to work for a

living in order to live, or else the family'd have to take care of one at that time. They

didn't have no social security or welfare to take of you like a lot of them living off of

today.

P: When you get old, did your family take care of you? Did you live with your children?

....what did your mom do?

F: Mostly calomel, quinine, castor oil.

P: Okay. That sounds familiar. What'd you use for what?

Quinine for malaria?

F: Yeah, that's right.

P: And other things like that. And castor oil for stomach problems. Was there any specific

cures for things, like say you had an earache?

F: I don't remember what they used for that. If they had the earache, I forget what it was

now.

?: Did you ever hear of a cooling board? Did you ever hear of a cooling board?

F: Oh, yeah. I've seen them used.

P: What's that? What is a cooling board? I don't know.

F: They, lay a dead person out on.

?: Came to see my grandaddy when he was they thought he had died, he quit

breathing, they laid him out on a cooling board.

F: When you died, they laid them, they washed them and laid them out on a cooling board until

you, they build a coffin.

P: Uh huh. Is it a board they kept him in ice or something or is it just a board?

?: The body cooled down on it.

F: It might be a old, might door shutter or might be something out like that. They won't..,,

P: How about, did you hear about any cures like for snake bites or like rattlesnake bites

or....

F: Those that got bit them days of snake usually died,

P: Where there a lot of rattlesnakes?




SR1A
page 14

F: Oh, there's a lot of rattlensakes right on. The woods don't be burnt much, course

there's a lot of rattlensakes, but we, most the people are careful about them, walking in

the woods they got metal covers over their legs to protect them.

P: Uh huh.

Did you ever run, did you ever run into any snakes?

F: No. I've almost walked right into them, but I'd see them in time to kill them.

P: Uh huh.

F: Hadn't been long ago since I was down at the old water mill and walking under, in the

house there, and shelter where wood, I mean, dirt floor, and liked to walk into one

about five foot long.

P: Really! Ooh!

P: What'd you do?

F: I killed him.

P: Really? With what? Did you have a gun?

F: No, I had a shovel in my car and went and got it and went back in there and killed him

with the shovel.

P: That's how my mom kills her rattlesnakes, too, when my dad was gone, with the shovel,

just.... That's how she killed them.

F: Yeah.

P: How old were you when you got married?

How old were you when you got married, had kids?

F: I was right close to eighteen.

?: Had you known your wife all your life, or....

F: No, I've been married three times.

?: Three times.

F: My first wife died, was Minnie Jones, and she died of the flu in 1918.

P: Was that the big flu?

F: That's when the big flu was here. A lot of them were dying.

P: Yeah. I just talked to someone last night who said his mother and dad and four of his

sisters died in that big flu.





SR1A
pagel5

F: I know of a lady that would come in here, every day there'was somebody died, and they was

building coffins all the time down here and lot of them went to the army and come back

dead.:.

P: Uh huh.

F: ...from the flu and they seemed like the doctors didn't know anything about it, what to

give for it. I feel sure that if I hadn't quit taking the medicirethe doctor give me,

I'd've been dead.

P: Really? So you think that's what happened to your wife.

F: I didn't know anything but give her medicine what the doctor said give her and she'd

taken double pneumonia and now in hospitals and so on, doctors are smart enough to knock

the pneumonia out of you right quick, but they didn't have drugs that they've go now,

so she died right out.

P: How old was she?

F: She was about seventeen, well, she was about nineteen when she died.

P: Did you have any children?

F: No, no. She didn't have any children. And I married Bertha Brown and had four children

and this lady now is my third wife. I've been married to her six years.

P: Uh huh.

F: I lost, lost my Bertha in '74.

P: Uh huh.

?: You thought of the name Quintella. Where does Quintella's name come from?

F: My wife said she was the first girl and said she went to school, a teacher one time

named Quintella and she was going to name her after that school lady.

?: I've always wondered where that came from...

F: Yeah.

?: ...because I thought it was such an unusual name.

F: Yeah, that's, she named herself after the lady she went to school to.

P: Did they ever have, did you ever play any musical instruments?

F: Me?

P: Uh huh.

F: No. I couldn't carry a tune in a suitcase.





SRIA
page 16

P: Did they ever have dances or anything up here or did they have a music parties or

sing-a-longslback in the older days?

F: Hardly ever. Back in my growing up they, they'd have some kind of music, maybe, singing

mostly at churches and also and sometime they'd be seme fellow in the country that could

play a fiddle all right. There, a lot of fiddling that whenever they'd give maybe a

frolic over at somebody's house, have a regular old good country-style dancing party.


P: Uh huh.

F: At night they'd have a fidd--, a good fiddler there to do fiddling.

P: Is that where the boys and girls met -- at the frolic?

F: Yeah, yeah.

P: What were they like? Just all the people from all around came?

F: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

P: Did you dance, did you dance?

F: Not much, no.

P: You didn't. So did everyone bring their and food to frolics? What was

the frolic like?

F: Well, it'd be hard for me to explain. They'd just have dancing parties and have them,

made a big room that they danced on the floors, not on the, not on the, you couldn't

dance in nobody's house now on account of the carpet and the rugs that have in houses.

But the....

P: They'd all wear the best clothes?

F: They'd do what?

P: Would you wear your good clothes to frolics?

F: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah.

P: Did you have any favorite songs?

F: Favorite what?

P: Songs?

F: No, no. Not especially, no. No,





SR1A
page 17

?: Did you make a lot of things? Okay, my granddaddy talks about how he used to make baskets

and everything they used around the farm, you know, they made and then he did a lot of

the metal work and blacksmithing. Were there other kinds of things that you made, too?

Maybe different things to build for

F: You know, I remember very little about baskets being made out of wood. I mean, they used

to take, cut white oak, I think, a good oak'd split well...

?: Yes. Thats....

F: ...and made up in ten pieces and build wooden baskets.

?: Yeah, they'd take the splints and weigh them.

F: But I never did do any of that work.

?: Did you ever make the for them that they used to splint them with?

F: No, I didn't do that either, because I remember very little about that work, but I do

remember they did some of that.

?: Grandaddy showed me how they used to make them and, you know, they'd go out, he said

they used oak and they used hickory. Sometimes they'd go out and split a hickory.

F: Yeah, a good-splitting white oak will just split up in pieces on till your in maybe,

oh, they had a, a table that they'd draw them slats down like they wanted to, a little

thinner and wrapped them in good like they wanted to, but I didn't never get into any

of that.

P: Did you ever make catfish traps?

F: I'didn't make any catfish traps, no. I, only fish trap I ever made was out of wire.

P: Uh huh. How about turtles? Did you catch turtles?

F: Not many, no. No.

P: Do you have any of your tools left from being a blacksmith? Did you save any of your

tools out of your blacksmith shop.

F: I have a anvil and I have some old blacksmith tongs that I used to handle the hot iron

with and so on and that's about all I've got left of it. I, just first one piece and

then another went missing till it's all gone. The old blower, I don't know what's hap-

pened to the old blower. It was about wore out anyway and it's gone. My tire shrinker

that'd shrink the metal tires smaller when they'd get loose on the rim I had -- which





SR1A
page 18

F: ya'll don't know anything about that.

P: No. Tell me.

F: It sit out on the back and I don't know what went with it. It, oh, dissapeared.

P: Did you ever hear any ghost stories when you were little or stories that....

F: Oh, yeah. We heard some of them.

R: Do you remember any?

F: No, I couldn't tell you any worth telling. About as good one as I ever heard, I think,

was they used to, when anyone died they'd wash them and lay them out on the cooling

board, let them lay out there over night, and if some neighbors would come over and sit

up with them. One main fellow come over one night, I think it was an old lady died.

She smoked an old cob pipe and a long stem and all the rest of the crowd went to sleep

at night. This fellow he got the old lady up and set her up in the chair and put that

pipe in here mouth and told them to get up and see grandma's up smoking.

P: Oh!

F: I thought that was pretty good.

(laughter)

P: That's so awful! Everyone was scared, I guess.

?: A couple of them mad, too, I imagine.

P: Did you hear any others? Did you ever hear about pirates or treasure on the Suwannee?

F: None that I remember of it right.

P: Uh huh. Any other haunting stories? Cedar Key or?

F: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Cedar key, they's scarce now, and they poor, what game you kill out of

the woods is poor.

?: You seem to be man who has a very good reputation. People think that you're very honest,

you have good values and you're a good, honorable person and that seems to be hard thing

to come by when you've lived as long as you've lived and you keep your values.

F: Well, I was raised, IT was raised thataway.

?: Well, a lot of people raised that way, not all of them stay that way.

F: Well, I know some of them don't stay thataway, but then, I was raised thataway and I

tried to keep it up.





SR1A
page 19

?: Does it take a lot of self-discipline? I mean....

F: If I got any enemies I don't know it.

?: There were many. I've heard a lot people who are really glad to know you.

There's a lot of them.

F: Yeah, I know it. I'm proud of it. If I got any enemies, I don't know it.

P: Uh huh. That's great.

F: That's more than a lot of people can say.

P: That's very true. Especially when you've lived a long time. That's very good. Yeah,

most, most anybody'll do ne a favor if I needed one.

P: That's great.

?: Did ya'll used to help each other a lot, out, back before the war? I mean, I remember

grandaddy talking about one summer he was sick and his neighbors came and took his

cropping for him because he just couldn't do it and somebody had to do it then. Do you

remember stuff like that or....

F: When anyone got sick?

?: You know, helping

F: Oh, yeah. The neighbors would come over and plow a crop out whenever, if someone got

sick in the country where they couldn't work their crop at the time, the neigbhors'd

come over, work it out for them. Yeah, I remember things like that.

?: Do you still find that nowadays

F: I don't, I don't believe you would.

?: I haven't noticed it either. (laughter) And the....

F: I don't believe you'd find anything like that nowadays and the...
?:

F: ,..if anybody, anybody plowed new ground, they'd have a log rolling and lot of people

come over there and work like slaves picking up logs, toting bush, cutting trees down

and so on, clearing new ground. But you couldn't get nobody to volunteer job like that

now. I don't believe you could.

P: Did they help raise houses, the people? If somebody was building a new house, would the

neighbors come and help them build it?




SR1A
page 20

F: They did some, yeah. Yeah,

?: My grandaddy said one part of his neighbor's house was burned down and then in the next

week they all got together and raise a house for him. It was real simple, you know,...

F: Oh, yeah.

?: ...doing that...

F: Yes.

?: ...and the;inside wasn't finished but they built them a house,

F: Yeah, they'd do that too.

?: For his family.

P: Cane raising -- did you ever have canes, caning parties _____ .

F: Oh, yeah. We had, we raised cane, made our own syrup. We got a cane mill and sugar

kettles and corn. We made our own syrup. In other words, we made everything we eat,

near about, on the farm except flour and sugar. We'd buy a little four and sugar and

coffee and everything else we raised on the farm.

?: What you ate during the winter different? Did you eat different things, then, during the

winter than you'd eat during the summer? Did you

F: Well, not much different. We had, we had a good garden year around and it'd be growing,

maybe one kind of greens would grow in the winter time that wouldn't grow in the summer,

or summertime wouldn't may, wouldn't grow in the wintertime. We'd, we'd have a good

garden, though, year around. Raised our own sweet potatoes and our cane and banked sweet

potatoes and have potatoes the year around.

?: Do you know what a sweet potato bank is?

P: No.

?: Youwwant to tell her what a sweet potato bank is, how you bank them?

F: Well, they, they usually just drove up stakes, dug out a hole kind of around where they

banked them, drove stakes up there and leaning to the top and to the center and taken

pine bark and covered it and then throwed the dirt up on it so it'd be airtight there and

have one scuttle hole in there to the potatoes.

P: Uh huh. So you'd reach down that hole and get out the potatoes?

F: Yeah.




SR1A
page 21

?: That's how they'd store them and that's where the banks used to be. It wasn't a money

bank. When they talked about banks, they were talking about sweet potatoes.

F: Yeah, yeah.

P: When you went to town did you usually trade crops for getting your sugar and flour? When

your parents went td Branford or to....

F: We come to Branford about every two or three or four weeks, something like that and got

stuff here. Of course he had a little country store down there and my daddy run and he

kept all that stuff in the store most of the time. I remember it, he'd have to come up

here about once't a month, something or other like that.

?: So your daddy ran a country store?

F: Country store and post office and blacksmith shop and farm and grist mill.

P: He was busy man. That's something.

F: Oh, he, he worked overtime.

P: Did you work in the store with him?

F: Well,...

P: I mean, did you work

F: ...very little, very little. Very little. I, 'course I, he died when, I was the oldest

and he died when I was eleven years old.

?: Did you have to work a lot harder then? I mean, did you help your mom....

F: Well, I was kind of the head of the family and I learnt the work.

P: I bet you did. Raise the crops still?

Did you still raise the crops?

F: Well, we did some farming as well as arnhiWnq else. I, I worked in the shop, working

in;the shop. Went to school what little bit I could.

?: What happened to your dad? How did he die so long?

F: He taken typhoid fever. Back them days, there wasn't no cure for it either, hardly.

But I hadn't, my sister and one of my brothers, I believe, had it, and my dad taken

it, died right....

P: All of them died from it?

F: No, my brother and my sister didn't. My sister had it, I think, thirty-three days,

never did past ,She kept her strength up. Of course, she was





SR1A
page 22

F: just a kid at that time, but, about four, five years old.

?: Did your mom marry again? Did your mother remarry or did she stay single?

F: Oh, several years after did, yeah. Yeah.

?: What brought your dad to Florida? I mean, your, your, was it your daddy or your grand-

daddy that came to Florida? Who came here? First?

F: I don't know. I think they're all, I think they, the Fletchers was here for many years.

I don't know just, my daddy was evidentally born here.

?: Okay. So it's probably his daddy that first came here back in their early 1800s or some-

thing?

F: Could have, could have been. I don't, I don't know. Of course, it's, Fletcher's just

as far back as I can remember being the older set. Yeah.

?: So your dad was probably born around the time of the Civil War or after?

F: Uh....

?:' A little bit after that?

F: He didn't ever, he wasn't in the, the Revolutionary War.

?: He was born about

F: About that time, though. Along in that time, I know. Yeah.

?: Do you have a family cemetery around here? Are all the Fletchers, is there like a

family cemetery near the church or something for all the Fletchers?

F: No, we don't. There's just some of them that each graveyard's around them. Was a

bunch of older Fletchers buried down there at rock sink. Then, there's a little ceme-

tery back out there near Matthis Lake where a bunch of old ones buried there, but you

can't get into now, on account of it being fenced up, I think, out there and there's

some buried out here. My brother's buried out here, then my brother that lives here,

he's got two wives a buried out there that passed away and they's Luther Fletcher was

raised up here by O1rien, he's buried out here. Some of them buried up here at Orien

cemetery. They just scattered about everywhere. I can't tell.

P: Did you ever hear of someone called Lord Bill of the Suwannee River?

F: Bill of the Suwannee? Yeah.

P: Did you ever hear about a man called Bill of the Suwannee River?


____ I


1




SR A
page 23

F: A man?

P: Uh huh. He was rather farther down the river so you might not have heard of him.

Okay.

F: I don't remember now.

P: Did you have any heroes up from the river that you know about, like Captain James Tucker

from the steamboat, or other people?

F: No.

?: You say you used to deliver mail when your daddy had the post office did you ever work with

the mail, yourself?

F: Well, very little. I was just a boy at that time. I didn't have anything to do with the

post office, but after I'd been to Branford, I been a substitute carrier and temporary

carrier a couple of times for about forty-four years. I was appointed a sub carrier in

1928 and quit In '72, but, we carried the mail rural route with a automobile. Wasn't

no automobiles when I was a boy carried no mail.

?: When was the first time you saw a car?

F: Oh, I wouldn't know now what year it was. It must have been, the Howells bought one,

old man Wilson bought one and I believe, around 1908 or 1909, somewhere along there. It

was, it might have been a little later than that. I don't remember just exactly. It

might have been around 1912. I don't remember.

P: When you came to Branford with your family, or with your daddy when he came here every

four weeks for stuff, did you use a buggie to get here? Horse, horse and buggie or....

F: No. I don't, we had, we didn't have any buggie. We had a wagon.

P: Uh huh.

F: We used a wagon.

P: And mules would draw it or....

F: Mules, horses, pull it.

P: How long did it take you to get here?

F: Well, we usually, it was about nine miles from here. It'd take him about three hours,

P: Uh huh.

?: That's a long time.

F: Yeah the horse would, horse would walk about....




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