Transcribed by

Mary Knight


March 13, 1947




†††††††††††††† On the third Sunday of February, we took dinner with Dick Ballou, of the Mace's Hill section, three miles norhtwest of Dixon Springs, in Smith County.Actually he resides on the head of Nickojack Branch, which rises across the hill from the Mace's Hill school and church, his being the third farm from the head of the branch.This farm is the placed owned by the editor's grandfather, Stephen Calvin Gregory, for whom ye editor was named.Here on this farm was born our father, known to his friends and acquaintances as Dopher Gregory, but given the name of Thomas Morgan Gregory.His mother was the former Miss Sina Gregory, who was a third cousin of the man she married.Her father was named Thomas Gregory, whose father was also Thomas Gregory, and his father was Thomas Gregory, born about 1730 in Chatham County, North Carolina.The editor's father's second name, Morgan, was most probably given him for General John H. Morgan, although there is a possibility that he might have taken that name from his father's great-grandmother, Judy Morgan, who married John Gregory about 1750.


†††††††††††††† As we stopped over at this old place, where our father was born on January 4, 1862, and where he lived until the spring of 1891, many memories of events of the past came to us.Some of these we know about from personal knowledge, but most of them were told to us in the long ago.As we started into the Ballou home, we noticed that the steps were in part made of the arch stones of the old home, which had a tall rock chimney.As we sat foot on the old arch rock, we paused long enough to tell our host for the day that about 80 years ago, our grandfather Calvin Gregory, suffered an accident in which the arch rocks had a part.He was one of those poor men who are always bumping their heads, hardly ever being able to go into a barn or other places where there is a conventient place to hit his head without having such and accident.On this occasion more than three-fourths of a century ago, the editor's uncle, William J. Gregory, know in later life as "Bill Cat" Gregory, was a lad of some ten to twelve years and "gifted" with no ability to control himself when something funny happened.In fact this characteristic followed him through life, he being one of the "funniest" and "laughingest" men we have ever known.On the morning in which the arch stones had a part, our grandfather had arisen and discovered that all the fire he had was one live coal in the huge fireplace.There were no matches in those days and the one live coal had to be nurtured carefully or there would be no fire until flint and steel could be used with a little tow and punk or dry wood, or else go to a neighbor and "borrow fire".On this particular morning, Grandpa, as we called him in our early life, knelt down and blew and blew on that one live coal in an effort to start a fire.As he he raised up from prolonged "blowing", he struck the back of his head a resounding blow against the arch."Bill Cat," lying in bed saw what had happened and also heard his father's loud groans as he clasped his aching head with both hands.The son's " funny box" was completely turned over and he let out a loud "Ha, Ha," which he told us long ago he could not help.His angry parent with his head painfully hurt, rushed back to the bed where the laughing son lay, and in the words of " Bill Cat," " he lacked to have beaten me to death through the covers."


†††††††††††††† About the same time another episode happened in the big room and involved the same father and his laughing son.This time the father and his son were up early and trying to dress in the darkness just before dawn.The father was one of those men who put their work clothes on the floor when undressing at night.While the sleepy son was putting on his clothes, his father was searching for the clothes he had placed on the floor.In so doing he failed to see one of the old fashioned chairs with the little turned, pointed knobs at the top of the back post.As he went down that same unfortunate head that had collided with hundreds of other objects, struck the back post of one of the chairs, the pointed knob hitting the old man just above one eye and under the part of the forehead that protrudes over and protects the eye.He grabbed his head with both hands, went round and round and groaned as if he had suffered a mortal injury.The son's funny side was again awakened and he let out a loud "Ha, Ha," and started running toward the rear end of the big 20-foot room, with his father in hot pursuit.Just before the son reached the end of the room, the irate father, who was barefooted, gave the son, so he once told us, the hardest kick he ever had in his entire life.The blow was so hard that the father's big toe was broken and the laughing son ceased to laugh for a time.He also stated to the writer that he did not care one whit if his father did break his toe, for , said he, "I could not help laughing."Knowing him as we did for many, many years, we rather doubt if he tried very hard to hold back his laughter.


†††††††††††††† On another occasion this same son pulled quite a stunt on his dad.This was during plow time and the father had eaten his dinner and had gone into the yard to a large, old locust tree and had leaned back against this tree to rest for a time, telling "Bill Cat" to go to the stable and bring back the old mare for the afternoon's plowing.In putting the bridle on the mare, the son happened to leave one of the mare's ears under the headstall.The boy decided that it was such and unusual sight that he would place the other ear in the same position.So he put the headstall over both ears, which gave the mare the appearance of having her ears laid back, which is the position of the ears of such animals when they are very angry and are about to bite somebody.The youth, with his sides shaking with laughter, led the old mare over to his father, who had gone to sleep by this time.The youth brought the mare up to where she stood just over her master, whom the son awakened by saying, "Here's your mare."Awakening out of his slumber and seeing the old mare standing over him with both ears laid back flat against the top of her head, the farmer naturally thought he was in the act of being bitten by an enraged mare.He began to hollar out, "Whoa, whoa," as he reached for a stone with his left hand.When he saw the trick played by his son, he regained his composure, but the son laughed and laughed and for years afterward, got a real kick out of telling of the episode.


†††††††††††††† On our trip to this old farm, we noticed that the old white ash flooring over which we romped 45 years ago in the "big room" of the old house, long since torn down, was to be found in the porch of the Ballou home.It looked just as it did nearly half a century ago.Just up the hillside from the site of the old home were some large rocks lying in a field.Part of these weigh perhaps several tons and are reported to have come tumbling down from a huge row of bluffs far up the hillside in 1811 when this section was shaken by the same earthquake that formed Realfoot Lake in West Tennessee.The editor's great-great-grandfather, Jerry Gregory, who lived just down the valley from our old home place, became so badly alarmed over the rolling down of huge stones and logs during the earthquake that he is reported to have started back to his old home in the Hillsboro District of Chatham County, North Carolina, on foot, a distance of perhaps 800 miles.Just how far he got, we do not know.A quarter of a mile below our grandfather's old home is a spring that still flows with a large clear stream.At this spring about 150 years ago, Jerry Gregory laid down his rifle and knelt down to drink from the flowing waters of this fine spring.As he lay down, he had a feeling that something was watching him.He glanced up quickly to see a large panther, "painter" as they were called then, in a tree just over the spring.The animal was even then placing his feet for the spring upon the kneeling man.However, the leap was never made for Gregory seized his trusty rifle and fired, the "painter" falling down from the tree dead.


†††††††††††††† But back to the old home.Here our father and all his nine brothers and sisters were born.Here they spent their childhood, attending school now and then.Our father went to school for ony a short time, getting over to "baker," in the old "Blueback Speller,"He did not learn to read to do any good nor could he write his name until he was 21 years of age.At that time in his life, he had to sign some legal instrument with his mark, which so embarrassed him that in spite of his being grown, he began to study in earnest, and became a good reader and fair penman.However, the editor taught his father all the arithmetic he ever knew, our dad learning to add, subtract, and multiply but not being very good at dividing.During our visit to the Ballou family, we visited the old spring from which our father drank in the days of long ago.We also bowed down and drank from the same "sweet" waters which flow on, although those who drank there in the distant past have long since "gone the way of all the earth."Then there was the old hand-dug well, near the house.It was the first of that kind we ever saw and we gazed into it 50 years ago with awe and dread.We still recall the image our head made in the waters far below.The old well is now covered over with a large, flat stone and is no longer used.It was dug by the editor's grandfather's half-brother, Tom Gregory, who was born in 1825.


†††††††††††††† As we walked about the old place, memory brought back many scenes of a long time ago.We recalled with a smile our father's selection of a rooster among the early chicks set off by his mother.He named this chicken, John, and watched his pet grow and grow.But John refused to crow and eventually began to lay, the little fellow having made a selection of a pullet instead of a rooster.We recalled also how that our own dear father found a young crow more that 60 years ago, making a pet of the bird.Brought up about the house, the crow would sometimes fly away for a brief time.But he came hurrying home when other crows gave chase.But the crow developed the bad habit of eating eggs and would raise a terrible ruckus with the hens.One day our father, who was a crack shot with the old-fashioned, muzzle-loading rifle, fired a shot toward the henhouse just to frighten the egg-eating crow.But the bullet found its mark and the crow lay dead when our dad went to investigate.


†††††††††††††† 'Twas here on October 7, 1890, our father brought home a blushing bride in the person of the former Miss Marietta Ballou.He was then 28 years of age and his bride, whom he had met only three months before, was 22.She had a fair education for her day and time and also was blest with the most remarkable memory we have ever known.She was very quiet and reserved, a lover of home and the best cook we ever knew.With a little money she had inherited, my father bought a small farm a mile west of the old home place and over the hill on the sunset side.It had not a building and hardly any fencing.Our father cut with an axe the huge poplar trees needed to furnish timber for a house, carried the logs to mill, had the lumber sawed for the framing and then dressed the weatherboarding and ceiling by hand and erected a little home.He and our mother moved into this home in the spring of 1891.Here on Wednesday morning, July 8th following, ye editor was born, the first of ten children, three sons and seven daughters.


†††††††††††††† We hope that these pictues of the past, with a number of amusing episodes, have not wearied our readers.We are not boasting about anything, for there is no room for boasting.On our father's side of the house, we were what might be called "Hill Billies," our ancestors having been dwellers among the hills since the Gregory family was founded in the ninth century in the mountains of North Scotland.Our mother's people were originally from Normandy, in Northern France, the first of the family having come from France to England in the year 1066 when he fought in the battle of Hastings under William the Conqueror.


†††††††††††††† These bits of family history are not given with any desire to appear smart, but, as mere historical items that may be of interest to some reader.If you enjoy them, we might add to them from time to time.


†††††††††††††† We know that there are times when one must be serious, but we also feel that there is a time when laughter may be enjoyed.So we mix up our articles, some of them being serious and others in a lighter vein.Anway we feel that if we can lift a burden from some sorrowing heart, or cause a ray of sunshine, or a smile of joy to come to some troubled soul, we have not labored altogether in vain.