Thomas Jefferson Peniston and Jessie Smith Peniston
Jessie was the daughter of Francis "Frank" Marion Smith and Nettie Watson.
Their children were
Horace, Inez, T.J., Jr. and Frank Wallace Peniston
The Goose Snatching...
Ellen and Newt Barlin had a son named Sam. Sam was a year or two older than me. He was called Goose Sam because he had stolen a goose from an old colored woman.
The investigation began.
One morning, my mother and I walked over to Grandma Steele’s house. She was out in the backyard by her chicken coop. She told us she had bought a goose the day before from Sam Barlin. The goose was missing. Grandma said she believed that Sam had stolen the goose.
On up in the day, Grandma Steele found out that Mrs. Birdie Krause, Oscar’s wife, had bought a goose from Sam the day before Grandma had bought a goose from him. Mrs. Birdie discovered her goose was gone the next morning.
The story finally unfolded that Sam had stolen the goose from Aunt Elvira Smith. He sold it to Mrs. Birdie Krause then went back and stole it that night and sold it to Grandma Steele the next day. Grandma turned him over to Uncle Tom Enright who was the Justice of the Peace.
Uncle Tom had a little coffee shop up town and out in front of the shop is where he held court. I remember all us kids, black and white, going to see Sam in court. Uncle Tom sentenced Sam to a whipping by his father right there on the street. Newt took his belt off and doubled it up. They were standing there in front of the coffee shop and the barber shop when Newt whipped him.
Dr. Russell Fairbanks
Car Owners in the Village in the 1930s...
Mr. Coney (school principal), Augusta Krause, Maurice Saltzman, Charlie Smith, Willie Benge (rural mail carrier), Aunt Nita Steele, Uncle Wes Ogden, Rufus and Willie Knight, Alvin Seal, Dr. Russell Fairbanks, Dr. Charles Gordon, Mrs. Anna Peniston, Reggie Cruse, Aunt Lena and Uncle Jim McLelland, Henry and Georgia Peniston, and Oscar and Birdie Krause.
Birdie Talbert Krause
Mr. Oscar's car was a little one seat car with a rumble seat in the back. I got to ride in it one time when Mrs. Birdie took a bunch of us kids to Norris Springs.
|Norris Springs - 2011|
Gone to Get a Baby...
One day I was over at Ouida and Juanita Seal’s house. They lived next to the Krauses. They told me that Mrs. Birdie and Mr. Oscar Krause had gone to get a baby. Mrs. Birdie’s sister married a fellow named Westerburg from up around Winnsboro. Her sister died shortly after having a baby boy. Mrs. Birdie and Mr. Oscar were going to get the baby and raise it.
I waited there with Ouida and Juanita. We wanted to see them come back with that baby. After a while, we saw their car coming. We ran over there as they parked their car under a little sycamore tree in front of their house. I was eight years old at the time but I remember the scene like it was just last year. They got out of the car and Mrs. Birdie had that baby wrapped up in a blanket. The baby was about six weeks old and his name was Ben.
People around here knew him as Ben Krause when he was growing up. To most folks, Mr. Oscar and Mrs. Birdie were his daddy and mama. After he got older, everybody called him Ben Westerburg.
Oh, Mr. Oscar was a crazy about that boy as if he was his own! In later years, Ben’s father, Mr. Westerburg, retired from out in California and came back to this area. He’s still alive today, living in a nursing home. Ben lives out on the Cane Road on part of the old Krause place.
The Preacher's Family...
Brother E. W. Day was one of our Methodist preachers. He and his family came to Sicily Island in 1933 and lived here until 1936. They lived in the old parsonage that sat between the Kempe house and the Usher house. He and his wife had five children. Ernest, Henry, Marion, Cecil and Fern. Cecil was about my age but my buddy was Henry who was about 3 or 4 years older than me.
Sicily Island Methodist Church
All the kids here in town would go up to the preacher’s house to play. It was a big thing to go up there. People say that preachers’ sons are mean. Those boys weren’t mean but they were a tough bunch of boys. Mrs. Bernice Day was the disciplinarian. The boys would just run over Brother Day.
I remember one time Mrs. Day took all of us boys to swim down at the point in the bay of Lake Lovelace. It was like going to the beach. The sandy point jutted out into the bay.
Her four boys and several other of us boys were wrestling around in the back seat of their big ole car. I don’t know what caused him to do it but the youngest boy, Cecil, said, 'shit'. Mrs. Day heard him and she said, “Cecil, you better not say that ugly word or I’m gonna whip you!” He said, 'shit'. She said, “I told you I’m gonna whip you!” He said, 'shit'.
We went on down the road to the point. We went swimming and stayed down there a couple of hours. After we got back to the parsonage, we went out to shoot marbles. From inside the house we heard Mrs. Day say, “Oh, Cecil. Cecil come here.” He left the marble game and ran up in the house. In a minute we heard a Whack, Whack, Whack. She tore his backend up! He was just a screaming. I doubt he ever said that word again.
Effie Coan’s little girl, Tootsie, lived near the Methodist parsonage. She was always going over to play with Fern Day. The Days had several ole cats in the yard and two or three of them had kittens. Tootsie and Fern each claimed a kitten as their own.
One morning, Mrs. Day decided she was going to gather up some of the cats and haul them off. She told her sons to gather them up. Each one of her sons and two or three more of us boys who were up there playing grabbed a cat or two. Fern was over at Tootsie’s house.
We got them in the car and Mrs. Day said, “Don’t let little Fern or Tootsie see us hauling off their kittens, they’ll cry.” About the time we pulled out on the road, Henry must have squeezed one of the cats because it let out a howl. Fern and Tootsie spotted us and heard the cat howl. They both started crying but we went on down the road.
We headed toward Wisner and got up there near a place we called “the dip”. The dip was a place in the highway about three miles up the road toward Wisner. We put all those cats out. It must have been twelve to fifteen cats. We left them there around 9 o’clock that morning.
That evening about three or four o’clock, we were shooting marbles under an old shade tree beside the parsonage. Somebody said, “Look!” One of those ole cats that we had dropped off was just standing there. It wasn’t a different cat. We were all just amazed. In a minute, another one showed up. Within the next hour, I reckon eight or nine or ten cats showed up.
I had heard that cats would find their way back home. The amazing thing was that we had dropped them off about three miles away early that morning.
My buddy Henry was a tough ole boy. Some of the older boys had found a motorcycle frame with handlebars. They took some old tire rims off of a car or truck and put them on the front and back of the frame for wheels. They had it down there at the side of that first bridge going out of Sicily Island toward Clayton.
The slope going down to the bayou was steep. The bayou was about two or three feet across and was about dried up. There was a big truck tire that had been throw down there and it was buried up in that mud.
Somebody was going to get to ride that motorcycle down that steep slope. Henry volunteered to ride it down and I got on the back of it behind Henry. The boys pushed us to the edge and let us go.
For about less than half a minute, we had a pretty good, fast ride!
When we got to the bottom, the motorcycle hit that old tire buried up in that mud and we flew up into the air. We must have flown ten or fifteen feet before landing on that hard, dry mud on the bank of the bayou. It skinned us all up. It was just a wonder it didn’t kill us.
I guess you’d say I was a follower. I’d follow somebody else. I never did have any nerve. I wasn’t brave or anything. If somebody I looked up to like Henry was going to ride that motorcycle down that slope, I was too. That’s where my nerve came from. I followed Henry.
I remember that ride. I remember that wreck we had on that darn thing, too.
What a sad day it was for me when the Day family left Sicily Island! There was an old cattle trailer hooked to a truck with all their furniture loaded in the trailer. Henry and Marion were riding on the back of the truck. I remember as they pulled out, Marion was singing some kind of old song.
That was the last time I ever saw any of them.
|Ft. Bragg, NC ca. 1922|
|Annie Bowen Knotts|
Every once in a while a picture will come to my mind. Almost vivid scenes of how things looked back in the 1930s. I can just see how they used to hitch the horses around an old hackberry tree over behind the Woodman Hall, near the Steele property.
That old tree has been gone for years. Right here on my property there are hackberry trees growing along the fence row. I’m sure these same trees are offspring of that big old hackberry tree that stood just behind the Woodman Hall.
Most everyone got up early in the morning; a lot earlier compared to what they do now. There were some early risers back in the 1930s that got up way before everyone else. They got up around 4 or 4:30 in the morning.
Bruce and Allye Steele EdmondsMy mother always got up around 4 o’clock in the morning. I got in the habit of getting up with her. Mother would point out the other early risers to me. She’d say, “I believe Gus and Boozie Krause are up.” Boozie is what she called Mrs. Wardie Krause. They lived right down the street from us and Mother could see when their light would come on in the early mornings.
Mr. Rufus Knight got up early in the morning to open his filling station. We could see his station from our house. Mr. Rufus Knight’s filling station was right there across from the bank. The station was up against his daddy’s big old store. The station was angled out toward the street and toward the barber shop.
The Coan family had a store here. I don’t remember Mr. Coan. Seems like he was a postmaster. I do remember Mrs. Coan and her daughter, Effie. Effie had a little girl who was two or three years younger than me. They called her Tootsie.
I-Bo and Cora Harris bought Mrs. Coan’s little house. The Coans also owned the big house near the bluff but sold it to John Hall. Mrs. Coan’s father, Dr. Usher, built the house.
Saturday evenings and Saturday nights were big times on the Island. All the activities started about 2 or 2:30 in the afternoon after people got paid.
Old juke boxes were playing. People were laughing and carrying on. I didn’t miss much. I was raised right here behind the little stores and I stayed on the streets in evenings and days on the weekends and during the summer time.
Buddy and I would spend all of Saturday evening and Saturday night up town. My mother would let me stay up there because she knew Jim; he was Grandma Steele’s first cousin. She knew he would look out for me and Buddy.
During the summer I would go over to the pressing shop and stay with Johnny Saulsberry and sit around there during the day.
In the early 1930s before I started to school, I didn’t have to cross the street to go to Uncle Wes’ store or Emmett Chisum’s store. I just walked through Grandma Steele’s yard. My mother would let me go up there as long as I didn’t cross the street.
I'd spend hours sitting in the store with Big Emmett Chisum. He would talk to me just like I was an older person, an adult. A grown person doesn't realize how much that means to a child. I always felt close to Big Emmett. He was my double 3rd cousin.
|Thomas Jefferson Chisum|
I saw Big Emmett’s daddy, Uncle Tom Chisum in that store. I remember the first time I saw him, Big Emmett and I were sitting in the back of the store by a potbellied heater. Uncle Tom came in and sat down with us. He got his little snapper purse out, gave me a nickel and told me to go get us some penders.
I didn’t know what a pender was. Big Emmett told me they were parched peanuts. I don’t remember which store sold the penders but it must have been a store on the same side of the street as Big Emmett’s store because I wouldn’t cross the road.
I came back with a little brown bag of peanuts. Uncle Tom had me hold out my hands and showed me how to cup my hands. He shook some peanuts out of that sack into my hands and the three of us sat there and ate roasted peanuts.
Uncle Tom Chisum was my Grandpa Steele’s uncle. They died the same day in December of 1934. Uncle Tom moved to Sicily Island from Texas sometime around 1880. About 8 years later, Grandpa Steele followed him here to work for him.
Isham Alfonso "Al" SteeleGrandpa Steele left Texas when he was only 18 years old and rode a horse all the way to Sicily Island. The trip took him 6 weeks. He spent the rest of his life on the Island.
Some years later, two of Uncle Tom’s children died a day apart. His oldest son, Big Walling died in May of 1955. All the family was up at Big Walling’s house. Uncle Tom’s daughter, Cousin Eva was up there, too.
I remember hearing my mother and daddy saying that Cousin Eva shouldn’t have been out because she didn’t look well. She died the next morning.
I’ve heard the old folks talk about all the people who once lived in on the Island. Some died here and others died after moving away from here. I’ve heard some of the names called but I can’t remember them.
There were many people who lived here and are now gone and forgotten. There’s nobody left to remember them. So at least, in making these tapes the names will be called and anybody listening to them will know who lived here in the village in the 1930s.
Mary Florence, 1898-1900
Martha Irma, 1901-1994 (m. Charles Miller Wood, 1882-1957)
Margurete Frances, 1905-1999 (m. William Brownlow Mitchell, 1901-1974)
Ethel Eugenia, 1910-1993 (m. Nicholas Edward LaBarbera, 1903-1981)
|Children's Day - Pine Hill Methodist Episcopal Church, South|
|Old Pine Hill Cemetery|
|Minutes from the LA Methodist Episcopal Church South - 1907|
|Rev. Thomas H. McClendon|
|Henrietta "Hettie" Green McClendon|
Hardeman Lovelace, 1868-1940 (m. 1. Daisy Reeve; 2. Mary Ida Gladney)
William Lemos, 1869-1933 (m. Ceclia Gilliland, 1872-1950)