Taddie’s Story by Sarah Catron Smith

By Linda Stewart, 17 August 2019

Sarah Catron Smith,  the daughter of Herschel Thompson Smith and Sarah Agnes Paschall, (Newton Julian, Jesse Morgan, Alexander, Elisha, William), was born 22 September 1904 in Fulton, Obion, KY, died in March 1973, and was buried in the Fairview Cemetery in Fulton, Fulton Co., KY.  She was a school teacher.

Taddie’s Story by Sarah Catron Smith

I don’t think I would have liked “father”. Perhaps it is as well for me that my mother cannot hear one of her daughters say such a thing about her grandfather Paschall [Jesse Morgan Paschall].  There are few if any anecdotes that point to characteristics in him that I do not admire. But still I don’t think I would have liked him and his brand of sternness. To the contrary, when I read or hear historical facts about him, I am filled with admiration. But this is not history. For that pull some book or books off the shelf. This is what the history books don’t tell.

To us grandchildren “Father” was Papaw [Newton Julian Paschall] just as grandmother Paschall was Mamaw [Sarah Jane Wilson Paschall]. To me my own home was at-home while Mamaw’s house, just a stone’s throw away, was over-home.  It never occurred to me to wonder which one I loved best. They were both there; they were mine; I was secure; I was happy.

Over-home meant early red raspberries, peacock feather dusters, cream too thick to pour, turkey gobblers that chased you, deep blue violets very fragrant, cold biscuits in a jar in the kitchen cabinet that always smelled of cold biscuits.

Sarah Foster and I remember a time when several of us were quarantined at Mamaw’s.  Some had chickenpox, some three-day measles.  The chicken poxers were on the parlor side of the house.  The measles victims on the other side.

That was Mamaw’s bed-sitting room.  Sarah found a mouse hole in the clothes closet on the floor of the wall between the parlor and Mamaw’s room.  That mouse hole made being quarantined a lark.  We exchanged food through it .  A bite of biscuit with a minute bit of jelly on it had never tasted so good.   Nobody developed bubonic plaque or whatever it is you are supposed to get from eating mouse bait.

Maybe it was that time that Newt Foster so astonished me.  He was a chicken poxer.  But he must have been an animated one.  For entertainment one day he stood up in one of the fragile-looking parlor rockers wearing his rough shoes and as he rocked back and forth waving his arms to keep balance he declaimed, “Four score and seven years ago”, and so on to the end.  I was fascinated and very proud that Newt was so “learned.”

“Auntie, I want my people.”  Auntie, “We are your people.”  Newt, “I mean the people I was borned [sic] with.”  Nor was it the time that Sarah was crying with homesickness and said, “Take me out and show me the chickens and see if the act will hush me.”

My concern about Newt’s quoting Lincoln in Mamaw’s house is better understood it you read this bit of family history written by Mamaw herself.

NOTE: this is the story of Sarah Jane Wilson Paschall.  Sarah Jane WILSON was born 7 February 1844 in KY, died 18 January 1921 in Fulton, KY, married Newton Julian Paschall on 17 July 1864 in Ballard, KY.  Newton Julian Paschall  (Jesse Morgan, Alexander, Elisha, William) was born on 21 May 1840 in Weakley Co., TN and died on 11 October 1900 in Obion Co., TN.

The author, Sarah Jane Wilson Paschall, of this article was sixteen years old when the war of rebellion began.  Although of immature age, I was very decided in my preference of the political situation.  So with South Carolina blood tingling in my veins, I donned the secession badge, which was a rosette made of red, white, and blue ribbon cut half in two.  While the union party were the uncut red rosette and at that time were greatly in the majority in the community where I lived.  But, nothing daunted, I wore mine pinned on the left breast as the pride of my heart.  The readers could better understand this hasty rashness could they understand the terrorizing that the people had to suffer for years before in consequence of malice that had been inculcated into the negro minds by malicious anti-slave people until many ignorant Negro’s thought that only chance for freedom was to kill all the slave owners.

Plots and preparations for an uprising of the Negro’s against the whites being frequently detected gave rise to many untrue rumors that agitated the minds of the people in some communities.  So they lived in constant dread of what might happen.  Hence my aversion to the Republican Party or anything or anybody favoring anti-slavery.  And my faith now is that Abe Lincoln and John Brown (of Harper’s Ferry, Va.) and many others of like presumptions will reap their reward in the second judgment.  But all this I humbly submit to the judge.  And I give a little episode caused by my unloyalty to the Union Party in Kentucky.

In the spring of sixty-four the Southern troops were moved from Kentucky.  But frequently parties were sent back for recruits, such as men and horses, and in July Capt. N.J. Paschall was detailed by Col. Ed. Crossland of Forest’s Cavalry as recruiting officer into Kentucky.  As we had previously arranged to get married, we decided to take advantage of the perhaps last opportunity.  So we managed to get a legal license and get a preacher brave enough to say the ceremony, but this was not done without some difficulty.  Then the next thing was to get out of there (that is to get out of the Federal lines) for to our chagrin and also that he had married a girl near Paducah.  And they immediately sent out a company of a hundred men to make search for the soldiers and also the bride.  How the soldiers were to get out was not much of a problem, as their tactics were to out-run any crowd they could not whip.  But alas for me, how was I to escape?  But the alert Captain was equal to the emergency.  And while he had his men vigilantly guard the movements of the enemy and cautioned to be sure to keep in the rear, he managed to secure the services of a little old grey-headed man who had a little old mule and an old dilapidated buggy to convey me through this country to where we would be under the protection of the southern army.  The arrangements were completed, the Captain proceeded to get his men together with a number of new recruits.  They made their escape in the night and got back to Col. Crossland with a very satisfactory report.

But my escape was yet to come.  I did not know and did not much believe that they had orders to molest me, but such were their threats and an excuse they made for searching houses as thought they expected to find me under the bed or in closets, pantries, and trunks and other such places.  But all I did was to keep advised where they were and keep out of their route.  And this was not hard to do as they were not fond of prowling around when they thought there were southern soldiers in the woods.  I waited a few days until the excitement lulled, and according to promise the little old man with the little old mule put in his appearance.  He found me waiting dressed in very unassuming costume and wearing a sunbonnet.  And about four o’clock in the morning we started our trip.  By the time people were stirring much through the country we were far enough away from home and acquaintance not to be recognized.  As we plodded along through the heat and dust we had to stop several times to get water and let the mules rest a little.  And a little to our surprise as well as displeasure, people eager for the news about what was going on would ask how far we had come and if we had seen any soldiers.  As we couldn’t tell them anything, they would tell us what they knew.  We were told two or three times that “Paschall is in here with a company of soldiers and they say he got married the other day, married a girl who lived near Paducah.”  The little old man never knew anything about it, and was ready to drive on.  A little after sundown we reached our appointed destination.  Next morning the old gentlemen (for such he was) set out to return by a different route.  I felt secure of being sent to prison or being exiled.  What do you think of such a bridal trip?  (end of 1864 story)

Sometimes we would ride old Prince.  As many as possible would get on his back and each one would put his arms around the one in front.  Uncle Ed was there to help us get on, to encourage us or to laugh at us.  The main thing was he was there to help us get on.  We didn’t need his help to get off.  The law of gravity took care of that.  Uncle Ed had been a slave.  The only one in the family.  He was very young when the Civil War was over and he stayed on with the family. Later on when I went away to boarding school and was so achingly homesick, I thought that if I could just see Uncle Ed he would console me and teach me how to be grateful that it was possible to go to school.

Thanksgiving and Christmas were always big feast days at Mamaw’s.  All the Bennett’s and Smith’s were there and as many of the Foster’s from Memphis as could come.  And guests.  Sometimes there were as many as thirty-five of us.

The table was arranged to fit the number to be seated.  Sometimes T-shaped, sometimes U-shaped, etc.  There were cakes and cakes and cakes, ten to fifteen of them.  With the cakes went ambrosia.  There was English plum pudding too.  And, believe it or not, some of the gourmands could eat both desserts after a very hearty meal of turkey, gravy, dressing, oysters and the other things that go with a turkey dinner.

My mother [Sarah Agnes Paschall Smith] (Agee she was called by all the family down to the smallest tyke)  had charge of the pudding.  Many days of work went into the preparation.  Then finally it was put into a very large soup tureen and brought to the table to be blazed.  The tureen had a chipped place on one edge.  But that didn’t matter.  The chip was at a spot seemingly ready made for a sprig of holly.  Everyone watched while Agee poured the brandy and struck the match.  To me the flames were beautiful. I did not care much for the pudding.

To make such a beautiful flame the brandy was always reinforced with a little straight alcohol.  During prohibition days the alcohol was not easy to get.  But Uncle Joe and his drug store came to the rescue and provided the plum pudding with its glamour.

Then there was the plum pudding sauce.  It had to be made of Elderberry wine, homemade Elderberry wine.  Each year at the proper time Agee made Elderberry wine and each year at the proper time the Elderberry wine soured.  But somehow there was always enough un-soured wine for the pudding.

It was Dad’s assignment to procure the turkey and to carve it.  Uncle Tom had the carving knife razor sharp.  Everyone had a part.  Auntie made the pound cake and the white fruitcake.  Aunt May made the dark fruitcake in addition to several others.  I remember her caramel cake.  It was super.  Agee made the Lady Baltimore cake and perhaps the coconut.  Or was that Aunt May?  Mamaw from her end of the table served coffee.  She knew exactly how much cream and sugar each member of the family wanted.  No use asking.

The children dressed themselves in their best attire and in their best manners.  I think Mayme Bennett expressed succinctly what I mean when she said, “I and Martha want some more turkey, please.”

If Sister Betty happened to be there from Memphis, we knew that she was going to say at the end of the meal, “That was the best turkey we ever had.”  It was like a benediction.

There was a saying in the family that if any member who was eligible-for-marriage invited an outsider eligible-for-marriage than there was going to be a wedding in the family.  And it usually worked out that way.  I cannot see why.  It seems to me that such a display of gluttony would have frightened off anybody.  If it had we would never have been able to claim Mack McGee a member of the clan.  Mack said the reason he married Helen (Helen Bennett) was that he thought we ate that way every day.  I think Mack must have been the exact opposite of “Father.”  Mack with his eyes always laughing.

At school one Friday after Thanksgiving a friend of mine, Dudley Morris, got the teacher’s permission to ask me a question.  The question was how many cakes my family had yesterday.  The answer was fourteen.  That stopped the class.  Dudley knew that my answer would be a class-stopper.  His family and mine had been friends a generation or two before us.

Family records show that Dr. Newton Julian Paschall, that’s “Father,” was one of thirteen children.  The oldest was Dr. Gideon William Paschall.  He was twenty years older than his brother Julian.  So the relationship between them was much like father and son.

When they were at home, all thirteen of them, their mother [Mary Freeman Paschall] would rise in the morning and prepare a toddy.  First Mr. Paschall [Jesse Morgan Paschall] was served next the oldest child and so on down the list.  Mrs. Paschall finished off what was left.  A little quick mental arithmetic tells me they consumed about a quart of whiskey a day.  And that before breakfast.  Ugh!

I do hope that Mother Paschall held back plenty for herself.  She needed it.  If I had to prepare breakfast for fifteen people, I’d want a toddy before breakfast and another after.  Wouldn’t you?

The pre-breakfast toddy was a pretty general practice in those days, so I hear.  I also hear that they bought their whiskey in hogsheads.  Could anyone find a hogshead of whiskey today?  And if so, could anyone afford it?  I can’t do any arithmetic on that because I don’t know how many gallons a hogshead holds.  Or should I say held?

When Dr. Gid built his house in what is now Fulton, Ky., he did not intend to put it in the center of town.  Town gradually grew around the spot he had chosen.  His large house was on top of a gradually sloping hill.  If the two-acre plot with its fine home had been surrounded  by a ditch, I think it would have looked like a castle and its moat.

When the family were all gone and the house was sold, the sale was not the usual kind.  The very large and heavy front door was auctioned off, the stair rail was sold separately as were inside doors, window facings and the like.

Most furnishings had been given away or sold earlier.  My sister has a love seat which was given to her.  It is beautiful to look at but I wouldn’t advise any spirited courting on it.

Uncle Gid’s family that I knew best were three of his daughters, cousin Ad [Adaline Demittra Paschall], cousin Nette [Annette Paschall], and cousin Mat [Martha Paschall]. They were true Paschall.  They were not known as “The Paschall girls” for no reason.

When cousin Nette died, cousin Ad’s minister came to see her.  Cousin Ad told him how she had lost her father, her mother, her husband, her two children, and now Nette, her last sister.  When the minister told her to lean on the Lord, cousin Ad relied, “I have broken with the Lord.”  I expected the minister to get up and walk out of the room.  Instead he held her hand and talked quietly and comfortingly with her until cousin Ad went to sleep.

An incident that is happened to remember took place one summer morning when I was taken to call on the Paschall girls.  They had a visitor.  Their sister Pizza [Polly Paschall] from Louisiana was there.  While we sat on the large front porch and drank lemonade, cousin Pizza talked about her piazza and how pleasant it was to sit there and watch all the happenings around the house.

I had never heard the name Pizza before and I had never heard the word piazza.  For weeks I had to concentrate to remember whether cousin Pizza enjoyed sitting on her piazza or Cousin Piazza enjoyed sitting on her pizza.

Cousin Nette spent nights with us when dad was away at court.  She was there the night the Meadows Hotel burned.  A mile away, as we were, it looked as if half Fulton were on fire.

Cousin Nette never married.  I heard her say often that there was not a man alive that she would cook for.  I thought that she could keep a man happy with her chocolate fudge.  It was the best.  The only thing wrong was that she cut it in such small squares.

Cousin Mat would read you a story while you washed your hair.  Parts of the story I couldn’t understand and she had to explain them to me.  She always said something about hitching up a star and something about my wagon.  At least that was what I thought she said.  It was not until I was old enough to read Emerson’s line “Hitch your wagon to a star” that I understood Cousin Mat’s message.

Mamaw seldom had callers except members of the family.  But one day some neighbors were coming to say Happy Birthday.  Martha was there to “help Mamaw entertain the guests” as Martha put it.  Shortly before time for the ladies to arrive Mamaw said, “Martha, our guests will be here soon.  Have you brushed your teeth?”  Martha, “I brushed the front ones.  They’re all they can see anyway.”  Martha helped Mamaw more than she knew.  For Mamaw told Martha’s tooth-brushing story to her guests while Martha was sampling ice cream to be served later.

One hot summer afternoon Joe Bennett was at my house.  He and Martha and I were swinging on the swing that Dad had put on a limb of a great big maple tree.  We wanted to see who could swing highest first sitting in the swing and then standing in it.  After a while Joe said that he was thirsty and was going to Mamaw’s for some water.

A few years earlier when I was a baby the family cat, Pussyfoot, had disappeared and after a time cat hairs that looked suspiciously like Pussyfoot’s began coming up in the well bucket.  The family assumed that I had thrown the cat in the well.  I do not know.  Maybe so.  This I do know, I never once saw Joe drink a drop of water from that well.  When he was thirsty he went to Mamaw’s well.  But Joe was a gentleman about the matter.  He did not tattle on me.  Think what my life at school would have been like if Joe had said, “watch out for my cousin, she throws cats in wells.”

One Christmas Blue Paschall was home from school.  His name was not Blue.  It was Jesse Rutledge.  Why the nickname Blue, I do not know.  He was studying medicine in St. Louis.  I was at Mamaw’s to greet him home.  When it was time for me to leave Mamaw’s, Blue put me on his shoulder and singing, “I’ll come marching home to you in my uniform of blue,“ we left.  As with Newt and his Lincoln, now with Blue and his Yankee song, I wondered about that  “Uniform of blue” in Mamaw’s presence.  But Mamaw said nothing.  She seemed to be reading the evening paper.  “I’m going to dig my heels deep in the snow and slide into the ditch,” Blue said.  “Hold on tight and sing.”  “I’ll come marching home—————-.”

I cannot say that these yarns are entirely true.  What I can say is that they sound Paschall with a big P.  So help me cousin Pizza’s piazza.

Sarah Catron Smith