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W. P. A. History of Pontotoc County, Mississippi



From E. L. MERRITT of the Turnpike Community, we get this interesting story of the Old Settlers Trail:  A few days ago Mr. E. L. Merritt was plowing a ditch on his land in the Turnpike community.  When he had dug three and a half feet he was surprised to see old wagon wheel prints in the earth.  Upon further investigation Mr. Merritt found that the Old Settlers Trail that ran from Cherry Creek to Toccopola went through this section.  Since the land had not been turned for many years it seems likely that these tracks were made by the wagons of pioneer settlers.(1)

The oldest settler of this section of the trail is said by pioneers to have been UNCLE JOHNNY POYNER, who farmed and ran a little woodshop where plow wings were made; the same  being brought to Pontotoc, hammered to a point, and welded together by a blacksmith.

AMBROSE CARTER came into "Carpenter" voting precinct, halfway between Spring Hill and Toccopola in 1860, just prior to the War Between the States.  He came by land in an ox-wagon from Wolfe River, Tennessee.  With him were his sister Betty and his brother Jim.  When they arrived they found Wash, George, and "Coon" McGregor, who gave them hospitality until Carter was able to clear land and begin farming.

The old Wiley sheep ranch was located on the north side of George McGregor's place.  This ranch was operated in 1840s.  Although it has disappeared, the section land is still called the Wiley place by old settlers.  Ambrose Carter was married to Fannie Brown, who lived in the Longview community with her relatives, the Russell's.  About the close of the war Carter was living with Old Uncle Bill Crawford, who was a pioneer settler.  The house , a double log pine structure, was put up at a "log rolling" by the people in the community.  The logs were cut by hand in the woods, dragged by a team of steers to the cleared place, split by axe, and placed in position - hand notched and dovetailed together.

The church which these settlers attended was the Pine Grove Baptist, four miles west of Springhill, changed to Springville in 1900.  To the union of Ambrose and Fannie Carter were born eleven children:  Mary, Clema, William Cheatham, James, Richard, Henderson, Frank, Dora, John, Jack, and Swampie, deceased.  The first house that the lad William remembers is the one in which the family lived with the Crawfords.  In this same community may be seen a barn which when occupied, was the home of Dr. Barmore who was a practicing country doctor of that settlement.

Mr. Carter remembers seeing the doctor gather dogfennel blooms for medicine.  For many years thereafter people came to get the bark of prickly-ash trees in the neighborhood for rheumatism.  The remedy was to soak the bark in whiskey, purchased for fifty cents a gallon from a still located in the fork of Mud and Cane creeks, for about two weeks, and then began drinking it.

After the war in the neighborhood where Mr. Carter lived, there was a gin run by Dr. Ike Price.  This gin, drawn by horses or mules, averaged two or three bales per day.  There was a "gimlet-handed" press pulled by mules which worked like a "flying jennie".  The cotton was carried from the gin to the press in baskets.

The Bowen and Jim Pepper Andersons lived in the same neighborhood prior to the war and went from this section to fight with Forrest.  After losing a leg, Jim Pepper Anderson fought in the battle of Harrisburg.  Other representative families in the neighborhood were the Sledges, Hodges, and Tutors, who lived south of the McGregor's; Bill Bevill, who ran a blacksmith shop in 1882, with his sons, John, Alec, Ben, Sam, and Marion; old Cal Alexander, a well-to-do negro who married a servant of the Pickens family; and Labon Grisham, who lived two miles north of George McGregor's, was twice married, and it is an odd coincidence that each of his wives were named Emmaline - one is buried on either side of the old settler.  Patrick Henry and George Washington were sons of Labon Grisham.  During the war Dough Woods lived in the place later bought by Dr. Ike Price.

J. L. Bramlitt and his brother Hugh, came from Giles County, Tennessee, prior to the War Between the States.  Ambrose and Ed Bramlitt came a short time later.  J. L. had two sons, Nathaniel and Jim - Nathaniel still lives in Pontotoc County.  The sons of Hugh are John, Harrison, and Dock; his daughters are Anne and Sallie.  Sam and Dock now live in Okolona, Mississippi.(2)

(1) E. L. Merritt, Turnpike Community

(2) E. L. Merritt, William Carter, Turnpike Community

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