|In Little Rock in July
1981, Richard Bullard tape-recorded this conversation and his mother, Verna Lucinda
Bradsher Bullard (b. 9 Jan 1898, Greene County; d. 10 Dec 1982, Wichita Falls, Texas).
In the interview, Verna describes family life in early Greene County, growing up as the
youngest child of Greene County pioneers, J.A. (Jack) Bradsher and Lucinda Ross Bradsher.
"This is Richard Bullard and Im talking to my mother, Verna Lucinda Bradsher
Bullard, about her parents and other relatives as she remembers these things from her
RB: And your father was John Albert
Bradsher, known as Jack Bradsher
and your mother was Lucinda Ross Bradsher. And what Id like to ask you
first of all is about your parents. For instance, my dad was Clarence William Bullard,
known as Jack Bullard, and he was five feet eight inches tall. I just wondered if your
dad, John Albert Bradsher, was about that height or was he taller?
VB: He was about that height. He was a short man.
RB: And was he sort of a thin man or medium build or
VB: He was kindlywell, his weight was around a hundred and fifty, so I guess he
would be just a medium
RB: About my size
because thats just about my size.
RB: And was he sort of a dark complexion or a light complexion?
VB: Well, he was a medium.
RB: Of course, he was out in the weather a lot.
VB: Yes. But he wasnt a real light complexion, and his hair was a medium brown with
some gray. He hadnt gotten real gray before he died.
RB: Yes. He was how old when he died?
VB: Fifty, uh, sixty-six.
RB: Sixty-six when he died, and he still wasnt real gray?
RB: And, did hehe did have a moustache for a while
VB: He did when I was young, but he had it cut offuh, shaved off while I was still a
young person because I objected to it so much.
RB: I see. But he had worn a moustache before that most of his life? Or most of his adult
VB: Yes, up until then and I complained so much about it when I was little that he shaved
RB: I know one time that you told me that he sort of had a problem with his hair and he
kept it cut short.
VB: Yeah, he did. It would have been kind of curly but he kept it cut short.
RB: It was sort of a cowlick and so forth.
RB: One thing I wanted to talk to you about was, what his working life consisted of. Now I
know he was a farmer but did he do other things besides farming?
VB: Well, when he and Mother was first married, they moved to this home where it was all
in woods. And they cleared that up and at that time, the Cotton Belt Railroad was building
a railroad through there, and he was in charge of the payroll and buying the supplies for
the camp. And he would go to Paragould, which was about eleven or twelve miles, and
hed go by horseback and hed bring back the payroll by himself. And he never
was afraid. Mother said he never did carry a gun.
RB: Well, most of his life, though, was spent farming.
RB: And what kind of crops did he raise?
VB: Well, he raised corn and he raised hay, and he did raise wheat at some time, at one
time, and he had a wheat thresher, an old-fashioned wheat thresher. And several of the
neighbors at that time raised wheat and he would go around to different places and thresh
their wheat. And it was always a day that the neighbors came in and theyd cook a big
meal, you know, and entertain them, and then theyd go to the next place and
theyd all do the same thing there. And in the fall he always had cotton because he
said that was his money crop. The rest of it was just to sustain us but cotton
was the money. And he always had some cows and he always had hogs and, of course, we had
chickens and geese and all other kinds of small birds on the farm.
RB: Did the family, uh, the children help him a lot in the farming?
VB: Yes, they farmed with him until they got grown. Most of them went out on their own.
There wasnt but one of the boys that farmed, and he was kind of a gentleman farmer.
Thats Jess, you know.
RB: Yes. Now, who were all of your brothers? You might just name
VB: Well, the oldest brother, Tom, died when he was nineteen. Of course, he hadnt
done anything except work on the farm. My next brother was EdEdwardRobert
Edward was his name. And he was a doctor.
RB: What can you remember about him, in particular?
VB: Well, he wasI rememberI was just a little girl and Id go to their
house to visit and I just was with their children. They had four children and I kinda grew
up with the two oldest ones.
RB: Their ages werent too much different from yours.
VB: No, Omer was only two years younger than me.
RB: And then Don was younger than Omer.
VB: Yeah, he was about four or five years younger than I was. And then it was some time
before Willard and Robelene were born. And then, uh, he and Amos had a drugstore together.
RB: In Marmaduke?
VB: Yes, and Dr. Bradshers office was at the back and the drugstore was in front for
a long, long time. Then Amos sold his part of the drugstore and went to Little Rock. And,
I dont remember who bought
RB: I see. Well, then, was that the same location where Omer and Don had their drugstore?
VB: Yes, its the same place. It used toin the beginning it was across the
RB: Oh, I see
and then Dr. Bradsher bought that block in there. And he put a drugstore in his
office, in the back of it.
RB: And then the other brothers
VB: Well, Al was the next brother after Dr. Bradsher, and I dont remember too much
about what he did. He taught school some and he was in different business projects but was
just a little girl and I dont know what they were. Then he went out West
RB: He left when you were, well, maybe before you were born or when you were real young?
VB: No, I was stillI was, I guess I was about seven or eight years old. And, of
course, he was gone for a long, long time because I was grown and had children
RB: Yes, I remember, too, when he came back.
VB: And the next one was Amos; I already told you about him being a druggist. And he went
to Little Rock and was there in the drugstore a while and he finally wound up over at
Keiser. And the next son was Isreal, who became a minister. And he wasfor a while he
was a pastor at some of the churches in Arkansas, and then he went from there to Missouri
and was in the St. Louis conference up until he had to retire. And then, Jess, who I said
was a gentleman farmer, and he farmed. And then Claude was into banking and cotton
RB: Then your sisters. Was Aunt Jenny the oldest, I guess?
VB: Yes, she was the oldest. She was twenty years older than I was.
RB: And then, in relationship to the brothers, she was about the age
VB: She was between EdDr. Bradsherand Al.
RB: I see, yes. And of course, she was a McBride after she married
VB: She married
Uncle Vess McBride.
RB: And then the other
The other sister, Della, she was between Jess and Israel. And she married Gid
RB: Well, getting back to your father, did he have any hobbies, things that he liked to
do, that took a lot of, maybe, his spare time that he had?
VB: Well, after he got older, because he was quite old when I was born, and my best
remembering of him, he retired from farming but then he put hishe was interested
inhe had a big garden and he just raised everything he could think of. And he got
some guineas and he got some turkeys and he just entertained hisself. And then he had this
special horse that he reared and spent a lot of times with, you know, riding him and
fooling with him as a pet.
RB: And what was he called?
VB: Ol Ball.
RB: Ol Ball.
VB: Yeah, (laughing). And then, of course, my daddy was superintendent of the Sunday
School at Harveys Chapel for twenty years. And he was on the board.
RB: And taught Sunday School, too, did he?
VB: Yes, and then he was District Lay Leader for several years with the District
RB: Well now, when you say Lay Leader, did he actually hold the services
VB: Yeah. Wed go toand I went with him when hedhed organize
Sunday Schools in small, outlying communities, and hed always want me to go with
him. And hed start a Sunday School, then hed go back occasionally to see how
they were doing.
RB: Well now, when youd go to one of those places, they were probably a real small
VB: They were.
maybe they didnt even have a church there sometimes.
VB: Yeah, sometimes they didnt eventheyd meet in the schoolhouse.
RB: Oh, I see.
was just organizing, trying to get agetting the community involved in
Sunday School and church services.
RB: Well now, what other activitiesfor instance, you said he was a Sunday School
teacher. What class did he teach?
VB: Well, he was mostly among the men.
RB: I see.
VB: Men usually got together in what we used to call the Amen corner in the
church, you know. When I was growing up, the women sat on one side most of the time and
the men on the other. And they had one placeoh, the choir would be on this side and
on this side there was another group of benches and they called that the Amen corner.
RB: Well, when you say Amen corner did people
VB: Well, theyd say A
they really did respond more then than they do now.
VB: Yeah, but when the preacherd say something that pleased them, theyd say
Amen, you know.
RB: I see. They ever say, Nay, or something else? (laughing)
VB: No, they never did say that. (laughing)
RB: Theyd always say amen when they agreed.
VB They never did object to what he said. (laughing) They kept quiet if they didnt
RB: Well, what sorts of church activities do you recall that were, maybe, family-oriented
that you enjoyed and so forth?
VB: Well, we hadwe would meet lots of times and have singing. Just group singing.
RB: And people come from other places, too?
VB: Yeah. And then they would have what theyd call Childrens Day.
Usually that was in May, and the children would have a program. And then they had what
they calledIn the summertime, theyd have revival. And that was a day and night
service. Sometimes itd go a week, sometimes two weeks, depending on how interested
people were, you know. And it wasit was real good because it got the community
together, you see. And lots of times they would have a picnic lunch onmaybe on a
Sunday and that was the most of our activities around church and school because we
didnt have other things.
RB: Well, getting back to your family, now, we havent talked much about your mother.
I think, didnt most all the children call her Maw and all, as I recall?
VB: Yeah, they called her Maw.
RB: They called her Maw. I guess she had a pretty hard life, too, in a rural farm
VB: Well, she did, because she had twelve children. Ten lived to be grown. And, of course,
it was in ruralas I said, they started from scratch because they bought their
landwasnt even cleared. And they would
RB: Who did they buy it from, do you remember?
VB: I dont remember. And he bought ithe didnt buy it all at once. He
bought it in about forty acres at a time.
RB: About what total amount of acreage did he
VB: About three hundred.
RB: When he finished, the amount of it was three hundred acres?
VB: When he finished. Yeah.
RB: And your mother, what would, say, a typical day in her life be like, you think, when
you were at home there?
VB: Well, during the crop time, it was get up real early because the menif the dew
wasnt on the ground, they liked to get into the field by daylight because it was
cool, you know. And she always tried to prepare them a good, hearty breakfast.
RB: What would that consists of?
VB: Well, sometimes itd be hot biscuits and butter, and sometimes shed fry ham
and eggs, and just, you know, jellies or whatever you
RB: That means you had to get up and build a fire and all that before you could do it.
VB: Yes, in a wood stove. You had to getbuild a big fire in a wood stove.
RB: You had a cast-iron wood stove.
VB: Yes, thats right.
RB: Then, too, I guess the baking was done in the oven of the
of that stove.
of the stove. Of course, you probably used, what? An old cast-iron skillet?
VB: Yeah. We had an old iron pot that had legs on it. And when it wasnt used in
front of the fireplace to cook in, youd take the eye out of this old cast-iron stove
and set it downthe legsd go down and itd set down around, you see.
RB: Oh, I see.
VB: And itd cook vegetables in that, green beans
RB: So youdit really set down in the hole there in the stove.
VB: Itd set down in the hole.
RB: So it woulditd kinda heat in there, closer to the fire.
VB: Yeah. And she had a Dutch oven. And shed bake sweet potatoes by the fireplace.
Youd pull out coals and set this oven over it and put your potatoes in there and
then put the lid on, put coals on topBake sweet potatoes that way.
RB: Probably be real good that way, too.
VB: Well, she used that a lot. And afterof course, I was the youngest and after all
of them married and left home, it was just Mother and Dad and I, and we would cook our
evening meals sometime in the winter time when it was cold, you know, cause we
didnt have central heat. We just had the fireplace, and we would cook whatever we
were going to havemaybe wed make biscuits and cook em in that Dutch
RB: So really, a lot of the cooking was done in the fireplace?
RB: What other things did she cook in the fireplace?
VB: Well, thats all I know of.
RB: Did she have hooks that shed hang pots on?
VB: No, we didnt have that
RB: Didnt have that sort of thing
VB: No, not after I came along. They might have had before that.
Earlier, before they had a wood, er, stove, a cast-iron stove.
VB: And then in the wintertime there was always a hog-killing day, you know. And we had
great big wash kettles. We had two.
RB: About some particular time of year that this took place?
VB: Yeah, a real cold day. A cold time.
RB: Probably January, maybe? Or February?
VB: Well, it might have beenif it happened to be a cold time in October or November.
RB: So it just depended on the weather, really.
VB: We had to have cold weather. And they
RB: And they figured it was going to be cold for several days.
VB: Yeah, thats right. We figured that we had a cold spell that would last and
RB: And how did you arrive at that? Did you ever use an almanac maybe?
VB: Well, yes, they went with that some. But eventually
RB: I imagine it was a matter of knowing the weather. Your dad tended to know the weather?
He could judge the weather?
VB: They understoodthey studied the weather better than people do now.
RB: They lived in it every day, and theyd tend to know it.
VB: Yeah, and they could tell by different things. Now, a lot of times Ive heard
them say, Were gonna have a cold spell. The hogs would do certain
things, you know. Therere certain things the animals did.
RB: Do you remember what the hogs did?
VB: Well, theyd squeal and get together, and kinda...
RB: Kinda huddle up?
huddle up and youd know that it was turning cold.
RB: Were there other things like that you remember that they talked about?
VB: Well, I cant
RB: I know, seems to me like when its going to rain, the flies would come in or
something. Do you remember something
VB: Yeah, you could always tell that. It would be stickyhumid, we call it now.
RB: But getting back to the hog-killing, kinda how did that take place?
VB: Well, usually, sometimes your neighbors would help you and sometimes you just did it
yourself. We neverafter I was grown up, we never killed a lot of them because it
just wasnt that big of a family. But they killed the hogs and theyd have a big
barrel and theyd have that fulltheyd heat up water, have it boiling, and
theyd kill the hogs and then they scalded them in those barrels of hot water. And
then theyd scrape emscrape the hair off. And then theyd cut
em up and hang em up and let em cool and cut em up. And
theyd let the meat lay out and they put salt on em to cure it out. And I
dont knowtheyd leave it out a few days and then theyd put it down
in salt for so long and then theyd take it out and wash it off and hang it. And then
theyd buildWe had a dirt
RB: Floor? In the smokehouse? A dirt floor?
smokehouse. And wed make a big fire under it and smoke that meat. And I
think its hickory hardwood that they used to smoke with.
RB: And theyd kinda keep it smoldering some, I guess. Did they cover it up with
VB: Yeah, yeah. They didnt want it tothey kept it a-smoking. I dont know
how they did that.
RB: And then theyd render down the fat and
VB: In these big wash kettles.
in the big wash kettles and theyd make soap and
VB: Yeah, and
VB: Ive seen MotherWed have a big gang and Ive seen
herwhenever those cracklings would get nearly done and itd be nearly mealtime,
shed take a whole side of ribs and just put em down in there and theyd
cook in just a little while in that hot grease.
RB: Its just real hot greasecook real fast.
VB: And theyd just come out just as crispand drain em, you know. And
they were delicious.
RB: So, probably on hog-killing time, youd cook the ribs that same day, maybe
or when you rendered down that fat, one of the
VB: Yeah, lot of times, one of the things that wed
RB: One of the good parts about it was getting to have those ribs, I guess.
VB: (laughing) And then the backbonethat was different than what backbones you see
nowadays. There was a lot of good meat on it. I know wed come in from school
sometimes and Motherd have a big pot of stewbackboneand that was so good
with some cold biscuits or cornbread, you know, youd beafter walking from a
country school home, youd be hungry and tired. And thatd always give you a
little lift. Then, when you got rested you had to change your clothes. Now, you
couldntbecause we had chores to do: bring in wood, go get the cows, and help
milk. So we didntAnd wed get that all done and help prepare the evening
meal. We tried to cook enough of a morningMother didto have something left
towards the evening meal. And of course
RB: Well, that kept from having to have a lot of..
hot night and hot house, too.
VB: And then, after that time, Dad and Mamawell, we called him Papa, thenand I
always said Mama. I never did say Maw. They had to kinda stay on a
strict diet so we didnt cook like we did when all of them were at home.
RB: Now, whywhat kind of diet were they on?
VB: Well, they had to stay off of saltthey both had high blood pressureand
they had to stay off of fat meats, which we used to have a lot of, you know, with those
hogs. And that was the main thing, to stay away from
RB: And they knew to do that then? I didnt know they
VB: Yes, well, my brother, being a doctor
had advised them
had advised them about what to eat. He didnt give them any real diet to
stay on, but he told them the things to stay away fromthat wasnt good for
RB: Well, I didnt realize they knew that then.
VB: Yeah, he did. And thats been a long time, but yes, they knew then that they had
RB: Well, what other interests did your Mother have, maybe if she had some spare time,
what did she like to do?
VB: (laughing) Well, Mother was a great hand toshe loved to quilt. She loved to make
quilts. Of course, it was a necessity, too, because we didnt have blankets and we
didnt have things that you can buy now. So she would make quilts. And I remember
when I was little, and theyd put in a quilt, Id cry because it would be up
above me and I couldnt see her. You know, shed be sitting at the quilt and I
couldnt see her, and Id cry. I remember that.