The information for this page came from an old family story that has been reprinted in several local newspapers. Anyone wishing to add information to this page is encouraged to contact Betty Miller and Betty Phillips, your hosts for Pickens County, AL. Typographical and transcription errors will be happily corrected, however, no alterations will be made to the original document, additional information will be added as submitter's notes or as additional informational material.
Submitted by Betty Teal Miller
The following originated from a book by R. R. Wyatt, M. D. The book was written in the late 1920's or early 30's. Dr. Wyatt was a young boy during the War Between the States. The information below was given to me by Virginia Thomas, another descendant of Richard Baxter and Emily Alice Reynolds Ledbetter. Virginia is the grand daughter of Luther Ledbetter, a brother to my Henry Baxter Ledbetter. Henry Baxter and his wife, Matilda also had a son named Luther Baxter.
The only thing I remember, we were living in a log cabin near Union Chapel, is the crossing of a swiftly running branch of water, which was about the color of beer. My mother would take one of my hands and Uncle Calvin would take the other and lift me over the branch. From this place Uncle Calvin and Uncle Will left for the War. Uncle Will said he would be back in four months but it was four years before he returned.
Uncle George Gresham, being too young for the war, had migrated to Bostic Beat, the old George Reynolds neighborhood, and we soon followed him, moving into a log cabin on Mr. Reynold's place.
George Reynolds was a "rara avis" (sic), or what some people would call a honey. He was a Union man, believing the war should have been fought within the Union and without secession. This made him unpopular, but because his crib was open to starving widows and orphans, the patrollers never molested him. My mother and her children were recipients of his bounty more than one time. He was the father of 17 children, all of whom lived around him. His son and sons-in-law were all in the war excepting one or two who were not quite old enough. He was a deer hunter of much prowess and nothing pleased him more than hounds and the echoing horn, and to return with a big deer with its great antlers across his saddle. At such times I rejoiced more than Mr. Reynolds, in anticipation of a feast of venison.
Mr. Reynolds raised wheat, hogs, corn, tobacco and pumpkins. He raised one pumpkin weighing ninety pounds, he raised sweet potatoes and sorghum. I used to help the boys pick the worms from the tobacco. He also had a tanyard. I aw him kill sixty hogs at one time. Every man in those days had to fence his farm, and all outlying lands was common property, to raise hogs by turning them upon the range and in the fall feeding them corn for two weeks to free them of the mast. Hogs were grown on the bountiful mast without expense, save for the finishing which consisted of feeding corn about two weeks before killing time. The winters in those days were so mild that they only hoped for three days weather cold enough to save the hogs. Now the winters are six months long (1920-1930).
George Reynolds was a "Union Man" and a pugilist, the first one I ever heard of. George was not above associating at times with 'John Barleycorn' and while on visits to Carrollton while under John's influence, would mount a box or stump and defy all the Philistines, and in strident and stentorion (sic) tones dare any man in the county to meet him in combat. With sleeves rolled up and muscles taut, with flashing eyes, George looked the part of Sampson, who came to the brow of the hill each morning to issue him defiance. George yearned for a David, and the Davids came from adjacent counties, but unlike the David of old they invariabley (sic) left out of countenance for George was known for spoiling the countenances of men. Yea, verily, what was the rosy (sic) and smiling face at the start, resembled a butcher's block when George had finished with it. The fight was always with bare knuckles.
Mrs. Martha Reynolds was blind and smoked a pipe. George and Martha had a wonderful array of grand-children, between one harvest and the next, flour gave out so that the wheat harvesting and sending to the mill was an event. All the grandchildren large enough engaged in the work of reaping and threshing. The wheat was cut with cradles and each man tried to excel the other in numbers of acres he could cut in a day, everybody was rejoicing.
The women and children who were eastwhile (sic) engaged in carding the cotton and wool bats, the spinning of these bats into thread, and weaving this thread through the looms into cloth, would stop this work, and the wash pots of all the families were collected and set with their feet on brick prepartory (sic) for the great feast. The wagons were finally heard coming back from the mill with flour and shorts. We children could be heard shouting 'the wagons are coming' so long and loud that our voices reverbated (sic) through the surrounding hills. That is to say, the joy and laughter and gladness of heart manifested by us poor folks can be enjoyed only by poor folks.
A very little thing to a human used to nothing is of very great importance while a very great thing to him that is used to everything is of little or no consequences. When the great day arrives fowls previously prepared, hens, roosters, ducks, everything that would make chicken dumplings were put in the wash pots to cook. The fowls were cut in pieces and placed in these great pots and the dough was made in great wooden trays by many women and girls. The salt had been made from the dirt taken from the old smoke houses, boiled, filtered, and evaporated, for other salt could not be had.
The soda or rather the substitute, was made by burning corn cobs in ovens and using the ashes. The coffee was made from parched corn, then boiled in water and sweetened with sorghum, occasionally this was alternated with sassafras (sic) tea, by no means an unpleasant beverage.
Just before the feast was ready, Mr. Reynolds would be notified and came forward with a beautifully polished and sounding horn, and under George's artistry that horn would so shiver the hills that one would be reminded of Joshua shaking the walls of Jericho. Out across the hills you could see the members of the Reynold's clan, all afoot and barefoot, many bareheaded, until the crowd formed the proportion of a large picnic and the feast was on.
George was a man that stood by his convictions, without book learning, as many strong men were in those days, he was a man of influence, a leader in his community, he espoused the cause of the Republican Party after the war, and was such influence that Bostic Beat, his home, is Republican today (in 1920). Had George Reynolds been educated there is little doubt that he would have made his mark in some exalter (sic) place. He made good in that place in which he was placed, he made the most of his surroundings and hoed a straight row to the end. He bore his Neighbor's burdens and thus fulfilled the law of Christ. George Reynolds died at an advanced age leaving 234 direct descendants. He fulfilled the work God gave him to do.
Note from William Bryant Hollingsworth: George Reynolds was my Great-Great Grandfather on my mother's side, she was Ollie V. Walker, the daughter of Maggie Williams, the daughter of Lucinda Reynolds, the daughter of George Reynolds. George Reynolds' sons Thomas K. and James S. was in Company B, 40th. Alabama Regiment, of the Confederate States Army, also his son in law, Richard Ledbetter. The 40th. organized on the 13th day of March 1862 at Speeds Mill in Pickens County, AL The Pickens Planters. James S. Reynolds is dead by the 1st march of 1863; Tuesday Nov 24th 1863. At 12 o'clock night the whole force on Lookout Mountain was ordered to quittly (sic) withdraw, Thomas K. Reynolds was captured, along with 8 other men. Thomas and Richard came back home, James must have died, not killed as they had not been in battle up untill (sic) the time he was reported dead.)