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Picturing the Past 80: On the farm

Posted Tuesday, September 28, 2010, at 7:58 AM

(Photo)
The William Washington Phillips family poses for the camera. (Photo contributed by Trey Arnold)
This photo's from farther back than we usually go, but it's a classic.

Trey Arnold contributed this shot of a family group described as "William Washington Phillips on farm."

Looks like they're ready for anything, complete with a fiddle and a plow and a little girl with her doll. The photo is undated, but the Vulcan plow is imprinted with "Vulcan Best Chilled Plow, Pat'd June 12, 1888" so that's one clue as to its age.

Looks like a winter day since no leaves are on the trees. And it's interesting how rocky the ground looks near the plow.

I'd guess this is a typical family farm of its time.

PIcturing the Past is featured each Tuesday in this blog and Wednesdays in the Times-Gazette's print edition. Reader contributions are welcomed.


Comments
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[Show most recent comments first]

I also find the fellow in the far back, right top, to be interesting. I presume not a family member but maybe a farm helper?

Either that or he really did not want to be in the picture.

-- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Sep 28, 2010, at 9:24 AM

Another great picture David. We can place the picture as being in Bedford County because of the rocks. I am guessing them to be limestone and I am guessing that there is a patch of prickly pear cactus somewhere nearby.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Sep 28, 2010, at 11:09 AM

" I am guessing that there is a patch of prickly pear cactus somewhere nearby".

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Sep 28, 2010, at 11:09 AM

And probably some "rabbit tobacco", "paw paw's" and "possum" grapes.

-- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Tue, Sep 28, 2010, at 11:45 AM

Bedford County Tennessee Family History book tells a lot about the Phillips Family in Bedford County. Just from a quick scan of the pages seems to talk about Wartrace area. William Washington Phillips was born Feb. 20 1852 and died Jul. 20 1933.

-- Posted by Cal t on Tue, Sep 28, 2010, at 1:39 PM

I did a little research on ancestry and this is what I found:

Williams wifes name is Marrietta E. Culley they married 4 Jul 1874 Bedford CO.

the children are: 1.George Mitchell-(10 May 1875- 9 Jan 1947) 2. William Cornelius- 11 Nov 1876-29 Apr 1926) 3. Dennis Virgil- 1 May 1876-25 Apr 1939) 4.Renna Belle-(5 Sep 1882-18 Sep 1912) 5. Annie Elizabeth-(17 Apr 1889-15 Jan 1919) 6.Lydia Katherine-(11 Apr 1892-15 Jul 1918) 7. Guile Delphin-(11 Aug 1896-22 Oct 1892) 8. Walter Loddie-(21 Dec 1900-Jan 1896) 1 child died before 1900 so they had 9 total.

The little girl in front is Lydia and she looks to be about 1 1/2-2 so the picture was taken about 1893-1894. The boy standing next to the Mother is Dennis V. and the little girl with the doll would be Annie Elizabeth, the other boy is William C, and the girl on the end is Reena Belle.

George M would have been about 19.

-- Posted by bellbuckletn on Wed, Sep 29, 2010, at 9:39 AM

It's great to have that much information for such a good photo. I'd like to know more exactly where they lived. That contraption in the middle distance on the right isn't a toll gate, is it? There's a similar device for lifting a water bucket out of a well that's not too deep, but I haven't actually seen one in Tennessee. I like the several different roof treatments, with long and short shakes, etc. The whitewashed building looks kind of like a smokehouse, but if that's a bird house under its projecting gable, maybe not. Looks like a warmish day in midwinter, and I think there's mistletoe in the top of a couple of hickories (unless those dark shapes are hawks). If you shut your eyes, you can almost taste the red squirrel, mmm.

-- Posted by razyn on Wed, Sep 29, 2010, at 2:45 PM

razyn: that "contraption in the middle distance on the right" could also be a horse powered sorghum mill...don't you think?

-- Posted by marnold1118 on Wed, Sep 29, 2010, at 3:03 PM

I couldn't imagine raising 8 children in that small house.

-- Posted by bellbuckletn on Thu, Sep 30, 2010, at 8:34 AM

bellbuckletn, Thank you for your research on the Phillips family. I studied it at some length trying to put a name with each person. Mrs. Phillips gave birth to the first three sons early in the marriage, in fact sons two and three were born only 6 months apart! I'm hoping that was a typo as I can't imagine premature babies surviving over a hundred years ago. I also found it interesting that three of the girls died before they reached their thirties. It had to have been a tough life. Also, I wonder if there was any significance in the outbuilding being whitewashed and not the home?

-- Posted by dianainnc on Thu, Sep 30, 2010, at 1:24 PM

Hey, cousin Diana, did you notice that the last two Phillips kids died several years before they were born? Or there are mistakes in their dates.

These problems notwithstanding, I think this is a great photo. I'll probably have a little more to say about it, presently.

Sorghum mills go round and round, it looks to me as if that gadget goes up and down. The short arm almost certainly has a heavy weight attached, to counterbalance the long one (and whatever it is lifting, if anything). There were some photos here in March of Mattie Lou Sagely beside a tollgate at Bradyville -- looks a lot like that, to me. But it may well be something else. I just thought somebody might know if William Washington Phillips and family lived near a tollgate -- or if there even was a turnpike near Wartrace in the 1890s.

-- Posted by razyn on Thu, Sep 30, 2010, at 4:06 PM

Yes, cuzn razyn, I noticed the other discrepancies, but decided to not be too nit-picky! From Cal t's clue about Wartrace, I have checked Helen & Tim Marsh's Cemetery Records of Bedford County, Tennessee and quickly found in Hollywood Cemetery at Wartrace records of W.W. Phillips, Mary E., Wm. C., Rena B., and Annie E. burials. Almost everything matches except for Wm.C.'s date of death, which is April 29, 1907 instead of 1926. I'll look forward to seeing what others come up with. I have to give up for now and prepare for a trip to Shelbyville for my 50th high school reunion. See some of you there!

-- Posted by dianainnc on Thu, Sep 30, 2010, at 7:05 PM

Correction: Dennis Virgil Phillips birthdate is

1 May 1879 Guile Philiips died 22 Oct 1992 and Walter died Jan 1996. Sorry typo errors. I need to prove read better. I got William Cornelius death date off of a family tree, but they could have the wrong info. He went by Neely and I found him in the 1900 census living with his parents and I couldn't find a WWI registration Card for him so his death is probably 1907 instead of 1926.

-- Posted by bellbuckletn on Sun, Oct 3, 2010, at 9:03 AM

Bellbuckletn, if you are in this Phillips family, I'd like for you to check out another photo I have of a fiddler who looks a whole lot like William Washington, about five years later (older, in my photo). David Melson can give you my email address, or a copy of the photo. Or he can post it here, if he wants to -- I already sent it to him.

There were quite a number of good fiddlers in Bedford and the surrounding counties, about a hundred years ago. I've been thinking about that since this photo turned up. When Henry Ford staged a National Fiddle Contest (through his dealerships) in 1926, the champion was Uncle Bunt Stephens, from near Tullahoma. Mazy Todd played in the Fruit Jar Drinkers with Uncle Dave Macon; I think he was from around Lascassas, but had a brother in Shelbyville. Uncle Ed Poplin from the Lewisburg area had a string band on the early Grand Ole Opry; his brother was married to my aunt Milbrey. In the black community there was Colia Streeter, around Fairfield; and later Elroy Adams played fiddle (although by the time I knew him, he couldn't anymore, because he got a steel splinter in his finger -- I only heard him play guitar).

-- Posted by razyn on Sun, Oct 3, 2010, at 12:17 PM

Razyn the Phillips aren't in my family, all the info I got was from Ancestry. com I was able to get the info from the birth and death dates Cal t

provided above on William Washington Phillips.

Maybe if you have David put your photo on here someone will be able to tell you who it is.

-- Posted by bellbuckletn on Sun, Oct 3, 2010, at 3:52 PM

This photo shows how much God has blessed all of us through out the years for our faith and hard work. Now they are with him. this gives us something to think about life is short and soon we will be a distant memory to others. Maybe we will be remembered for our love and tolerances for all

-- Posted by gary ashley on Mon, Oct 18, 2010, at 12:53 PM


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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.