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Recalling pioneer days (with gallery)

How was it like living in Hartselle in the pioneer days?

Three senior citizens spoke to that question at Hartselle Historical Society’s Down Memory Lane program at the Fine Arts Center Monday night.

Rev. Anthony Patterson described what it was like to be a pioneer before Hartselle was founded in 1875.

“The first settlers arrived in the Somerville area in covered wagons before the War Between the Sates,” he said. There were no roads; they used Indian trails. They brought all of their possessions with them, including a pair of straight back chairs, a cow or two, hogs and chickens.

“They cleared trees from the land and used the logs to build cabins, then planted crops in the new ground.

“There was no excuse for anyone going hungry as long as they had a few seed to plant and grow a crop.

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Education as we know it today was nonexistent. There were no schools and no teachers. Parent taught their children to the best of their ability. Learning was mostly by memory since paper and pencils were rare.

“Husbands and wives were partners in the truest sense of the worm and neighbors could be depended on to help others in times of need.”

Retired Morgan County Farm Agent Harry Houston told about life on the farmstead in the early1900s.

“Homes were made mostly of logs and there was no electricity, he pointed out. “They subsisted mostly on what they the grew on the land…cotton, corn and vegetable crops.

A barn was essential. It usually had a hayloft, stables for mules or horses, a crib for storage, and a shed on both sides to store farm equipment and supplies.

“Farm labor, when available, was cheap. An adult could fetch $1 a day as a hoe hand. A child capable of doing one-half as much work as an adult was paid 50 cents.

“Every member of the family worked hard for five and a half days a week but when Saturday noon arrived they quit and went to town to spend what money they had earned the week before.”

Faye Walker, a retired schoolteacher, related her childhood experiences while growing up on a farm in the Six-Mile community.

“When I was a child we had no electricity, no phone, no TV and no indoor bathroom. We did have running water. It came from a spring on a hillside above our house and was piped into the kitchen. Our house was heated by a fireplace and was furnished with a few sticks of furniture. My first ready-made dress was bought when I was a junior in high school.

“Not many people had a radio back them, but we did. It was battery operated and my family and the neighbors would gather on our front porch every Saturday night to listen to the Grand Ole Opry.

“We had a neighbor who predicted that one day we would be able to see the folks that were doing the picking and singing on the radio. I though he was crazy.

“Christmas was so different then. We’d get a doll maybe, and some marbles, jacks, fruit and candy, But we always had as cedar tree decorated with items we made by hand.

“While life was difficult at times, we always seemed to be happy and thankful for what we had.”