News from The Cartersville American

The Cartersville American
Cartersville, Georgia
April 1, 1884, page 2
Transcribed by:  

"The Tattler Talks."

[This is an excerpt of a longer article which covers numerous topics. – L. B.]

I heard the story of a skillet the other day that I think is worth repeating. It is the property of Mr. Thomas Johnson, of Adairsville, and from him I got its history. This skillet was bought by Mrs. Elizabeth Johnson, the grandmother of Mr. Thos. Johnson in 1750, when she first commenced house keeping. It was in constant use till the Revolutionary war. At the battle of Guilford Court House, N. C., the British burned the residence of Mrs. Johnson and the skillet was in the fire. In raking over the ruins it was found, and being in good condition was brought into use again. In the year 1815 Mrs. Johnson’s residence was again burned and the ill-fated skillet took another warming, but with the exception of a few blisters, which still remain to tell the story of its suffering, this unoffending frying pan came forth from the flames ready for another century of service. Mrs. Johnson lived till 1847, being one hundred and seventeen years old and during all this time the aforesaid skillet was doing regular duty, having been up to this time cooking bread and frying meat for ninety-seven years. From her it was handed down to one of her sons as a rich (?) legacy, and in his family it served another short apprenticeship of something like thirty years, and he died. It was then sold at public sale and Mr. Thos. Johnson, its present owner, bought it for twenty-five cents. This harmless looking little skillet now numbers about one hundred and thirty five years of regular service, and, though slightly disfigured, could still be considered in the ring. it has, however, retired from active duty, and rests quietly on its three well worn legs in the unused fire place, behind the kitchen stove. This little skillet was to me, an object of curious interest. I wish it could talk and tell its own history. It appeared to me as it sat in the corner to be looking up at the stove, which had superceded it, with an air of supreme contempt. I could imagine from the expression of its smutty countenance that it thought the “old way” was the best, and that stoves were a very poor institution. Mr. Johnson keeps it as a relic of the past. The associations that cluster around the old skillet are pleasant and tender. As he looks at it, the memories of the past crowd into his mind, and voices that have been hushed for years echo around him. He has had chances to sell it. A gentleman from Nashville tried to buy it for the Historical society at that place, but it is not now for sale. The skillet is certainly entitled to be called the “oldest inhabitant.”

When I was quite a little fellow I thought it was a grand treat to visit my grandfather’s house. I can remember how my brother Joe and I used to take it time about in going there. That was a rule we established between ourselves. We lived some distance away, and whenever any of the older members of the family went, one or the other of us two little boys would be permitted to “ride behind,” as we termed it. And when it came Joe’s turn to go, I can recollect how anxiously I watched after him, and how my heart yearned to be in his place. Many a time I have given my marbles or ball to get his place and go in his stead. I am now grown to be a man, but I love to go to “grandpa’s” as much as I ever did when a boy. I think I would never get too old to enjoy a visit there. I always feel free and easy in that old country house. My welcome is ever hearty and generous. There are always friendly faces to smile on me when I go. I never fail to get something good to eat. I can throw off all reserve and say what I please and be my natural self. The central figure in the group who have always welcomed me to that old homestead, has been my gray haired grandfather. I cannot remember the time when his hair was not white, his hand shaky and his step tottering. Yet from year to year he has lived on, and I did not note any change in him, until I finally grew to think of him as always remaining thus. He was never sick. I do not know of a time when I have seen him in the bed by daylight. He was always up and in his corner or quietly moving about over the farm with his stick in his hand. He was a very plain old man, and by some, considered blunt; but he was as hospitable as Abraham and as tender hearted as a woman. I somehow never stopped to think that he would sometime die, and I would go there and not see him, and hear his words of honest welcome. But when I went there Christmas I could see that the machinery was wearing out, and the old tenement that had stood the shock of eighty eight winters was decaying, and when I went to see him again last Friday, I found the old frame prostrated on a bed. There was a vacant look in his dim eyes, his hands wandered aimlessly over the coverlet and his talk was rambling and incoherent. I sat by his bedside that night and listened to his innocent, childish talk. He seemed to wander back over the years that are gone, and to ramble in green fields and orchards and woods. Sometimes he would teach the children their lessons and spell the hardest words for them. Occasionally he would quietly laugh, as if something pleased him. One time he partly raised himself in the bed and, reaching out his hands, said, “It is time to go.” “Where do you want to go, grandpa?” I asked. “I want to go home; the sun has gone down, and it is time to go.” Yes, his time has come. Perhaps before these words are read, he will have gone home; and it will be to a happy home. He has fought a good fight, for more than half a century; he has kept the faith, and I know that he is now ready to be offered up. As I looked on his thin face, it seemed to my imagination that it was lighted up with the sunlight of Heaven. I know he cannot live many days, and I grieve to think that the old chair in the corner will be vacant when I go there again; but he has lived almost his fourscore years and ten, and his time has come. As he is weary and wants “to go home,” I give him up. He is so near the river’s brink that I imagine he can hear the lapping of the waters and see the other shore. His hands that are so constantly in the air, are reaching to meet hands on the other side. He has lived a noble life—may his death be peaceful and his rest sweet.---Tattler.


Page 3.

Mr. Jesse Swain, of Gordon county, is very feeble and not expected to live many days. He is one of the oldest men in North Georgia, being now in his eighty-ninth year. He has been a citizen of Gordon county for more then forty years.


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