Monday, January 23, 2012

K.E. Freshwater Recalled Growing Up on Family Farm, Alamance County

Alamance County was originally part of Orange County. The Freshwater farm is located in what is now Alamance County.

William Armstead and his family moved to Orange County in 1799. He is listed in “A History of Alamance” as being the last purchaser from the Lord Granville Grant. Records at Hillsboro show that the time of his death he owned 1,600 acres, lying on the banks of Mill Creek. Of this, the 25 acres I own is all that remains in the Freshwater name.

The “Spoon” map (1890) of Orange County shows the home of Henry Freshwater and nearby is “Freshwater Shops.” Two of the brothers operated the shops. One was a blacksmith and the other was a wheelwright. The two of them took care of transportation problems in the community. They made their own charcoal on the site. Until recent years most of the family were farmers or mechanics.

Farming in those days was not specialized and consisted mostly of producing those things necessary to support the family and animals necessary for farm life, perhaps selling the surplus, if any.

My grandmother and my father or uncle made the trip every week to Haw River. We carried a wagon load of vegetables, fruit, milk and butter to sell house to house. On the way home we bought a week’s supply of staples at Mr. Cameron Tew’s store and then stopped at Mr. John Baker’s store in Trollingwood. In addition to the trip, if lucky, I was able to get my uncle or father to buy a cone of ice cream or a bottle of Nehi or NuGrape at Mr. Baker’s store.

Another source of cash income was selling stove wood. My father believed that the horses should rest when not doing farm work, so he walked five miles to Graham and visited various homes until he found one that needed wood. He had a few regular customers. He then walked home and next day walked two miles to our wood lot. He cut and split the wood into pieces about 15 inches long, loaded it on a wagon and delivered it all for a price of $3.50!!

Another big day was my trips to Durham and Raleigh on the milk truck. One of the two or three dairies in our area belonged to Mr. Bob Long, near Alexander Wilson School. He had a herd of fine Jersey cwos. The processors in Raleigh and Durham paid the producer according to the amount of butter fat on the milk. The more the better, because butter was so valued for cooking and baking. Jersey cows produced lower quantities but much higher test milk than Holsteins. Mr. Long’s two sons, Earnest and Walter, did most of the farm work and Walter drove a Graham-Paige truck to Raleigh every day. Most farms had one or two cows for their own use and some produced five to fifteen gallons extra per day. There were no sanitation requirements but before we quit selling milk, the state required a TB test for cows. I often rode with Walter on his trip. When we unloaded at the Pine State Creamery he always came out with a large slab of ice cream for me.

This land is now used mostly for a horse pasture.
--Submitted by K.E. Freshwater

In 1988, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture published a commemorative book, North Carolina Century Farms: 100 Years of Continuous Agricultural Heritage. This book provided a history of century farms in North Carolina.

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