Published in The Southern Democrat, 1936. |
Written by Bessie Warren.
Ebell Community is on the boundary line between Blount and Marshall Counties. This community has a population of almost three hundred and it comprises approximately six square miles of land drained by Brown's Creek. Farming is the chief occupation although during the period between 1926 to 32 lumbering was carried on rather successfully by the Bracely Lumber Company. There are two churches here. The M. E. Church S. for which Ebell takes its name, and the Christian Church. Very little more need be said of Ebell at present and the early history as given by Mr H R Whitman Follows:
"To write a good history of Ebell would require the experiences of the pioneer citizens of the community. I can only give a brief synopsis of what facts I have gathered from some of the old settlers together with a few of my personal experiences, and of happenings in the community during my boyhood days.
The oldest settler was old Uncle Johnnie Bailey who came here from S C and located where Mr Arthur Hughes now lives. This house was build by Mr Bailey when this part of the country was a vast wilderness in which abounded wild turkeys, deere, bears, and other wild animals. There were also a few Indians, but they were friendly Indians. Mr Bailey was a kind man and soon made friends with these Indians. Mr Bailey worked hard and cleared the first farm in this part of Browns Valley. he raised a family, but when I first remembered him his wife had died, his children were all married, except one son who had come home from the War Between the States with only one leg. The old man worked in the field while the crippled son did the housework. In order to impress upon the minds of my readers, how good and kind this father and son were, I will tell about a little incident that I shall never forget.
My father and I had been at work one day on our farm at Red Hill, and on our way home that afternoon (we lived then where Mr John Vanzandt now lives), we stopped to rest at Mr Baileys. While we were sitting there on the porch I noticed a little bird alight on Mr Baileys'a head and it began to pull a mouthful of hair from the old mans head. After it gets its mouthful of hair it flew away. Father thought it strange for a bird to do such a thing and asked Mr Bailey about it. The old man said "it is building a nest" He then showed us the nest and oh waht a pretty Wren's nest it was with the inside as soft and white as show!
Another place of interest here is the Vanzandt home. A Horton family lived there during the War between the States In this family were two young men who were too young to go to war. One day these boys heard a company of soldiers with sabers rattling coming on horseback down the road. The young men ran upstairs to watch from the window. Thinking they were Southern Soldiers, the young men waved their handkerchiefs and yelled "Hurrah for the South" but these happened to be Yankees, who made a mad rush toward the house, seized the young men and carried them away, and their parents never heard of the boys again. The mother of the boys "Aunt Malinda" died years afterwards in the insane asylum due to grief over the loss of her boys.
Another place of interest is the Hyatt farm, better known as the Vinson farm. Old Uncle Alex Gilbreath a pioneer citizen, lived in a house where mr Vinson now lives. Mr Gilbreath owned alots of land and slaves and employed a Cherokee Indian Woman to keep house for him after his wife died. He was a great big red faced man, who during the hot days of summer had a negro slave to fan and keep the flies off him.
"My grandmother, Mary Jane Nobles was raised by Uncle Alex. her parents died when whe was a little child. One day when Mary Jane was about sixteen years of age Uncle Alex sent her to the spring for a bucket of water. She went to the spring and filled her bucket but just as she raised up and started to turn, there stood a young warrior, dressed in deerskin and feathers from top to toe. He looked at her, smiled and said, "You marry me, me buy you some red moccasins. Mary Jane was so badly firghtened until she dropped her bucket in the spring and ran to the house.
"Another good old family was the Mark Gilbreath family; all members are now dead, Uncle Mark and his daughter, Miss Fannie, never tired of doing good. Uncle Mark was Superintendent of the Ebell Sunday School for twenty five years or more, and he never missed a Sunday until he was taken sick on his death bed. Miss Fannie killed by being thrown from a buggy when her horse ran away. This happened almost in front of the John Warren home.
"The old church was built of logs and stood close to the old graveyard. Nearly everybody went to church then. They were dresses in home spun clothes and most of the women wore bonnets, but all took an active part in the services. They used to have big revivals at old Ebell. Many times shouting and singing in the old log house would loudly sound and echo through the midnight air when new souls were born to Christ. This church went on for in perfect harmony, but alas it had a struggle for existence. When the Methodist Church divided into Northern Methodist on one side, and the Southern Methodist on the other. So each faction tried to assume control of Ebell. The Northern Methodist even forbade the Southern Methodist from holding services in the old church and even went so far as to threaten violence if the Southern Methodist undertook to hold services. Bill McCoy, a pioneer preacher, father of Bishop Jim McCoy, went to preach one night, but before he entered the house, he was informed that it would be dangerous for him to preach that night. But the brave old fellow walked up to the pulpit and announced that he had come to preach and it he did not get to preach he had something that would talk. When he had said that, he placed a large white handled pistol on each side of the pulpit. Needless to say, he was unmolested. And the Southern Methodist still have charge of the church. A new house was built sometime after this happened. Close to where the present building now stands. That building burned several years ago and the present building was then built.
The school I am sorry to say, has always been a one room affair. Although there has been some good schools taught there. Prof George H Smith taught three of the largest schools Ebell has ever had. He wa a fine teacher and pupils came for several miles to attend his schools. Among other names of teachers that I remember are as follows: Fowler, Hedgecock, Smith, Ada, Hamilton, Fannie Gilbreath, Press, Maud, Hattie and J R Whitman, Walter St John, Bum HInds, John Hinds, Moore, NeSmith, Johnson, Alta Finley, Roberts, Hyatt, Ledbetter, Freeman, Bales, Drake and Warren.
The first baseball game ever played in Brown's Valley took place at Ebell about forty years ago. This game was very exciting to everybody and almost everyman, woman, child, cat and dog from Summit to Warrenton watched this game the game was played with a home made sixteen ounce ball that was almost as hard as a brick bat. The teams were Red Hill and Ebell. More scores would have been made, no doubt, if the ninth inning had been played, but during the seventh inning the Ebell shortstop got townball and baseball confused and threw the ball at the Red Hill runner to put him out. Well, that sixteen ounce ball almost put him out for good and all time when it struck his back. This terminated the game with the score 45 to 67 in favor of Ebell.