Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Good Old Days, Ruth Waters, Washington County

By Ruth Waters, Washington County Extension Homemaker
The Good Old Days—no electricity—no indoor toilets—no locked doors—putting in tobacco from dawn to dusk.
When I was around five, I remember going out to where my mother was picking cotton. I wanted to help, so my mother told me to use my straw hat. When I finally had it filled, I told her I would never pick any more cotton. So far, I have kept that promise.
During my first five years of school, I walked two miles to a one-room school house. We had one teacher who taught all seven grades.
The dress I got married in was the most expensive dress I had ever owned. It cost a whopping $2.98!
You didn’t buy material then to make quilts out of. We all wore homemade clothes. Scraps of material from these were what we used. We never hung quilts on walls either. They went on the beds! Feed bags were used for lining them. We hung them from the ceiling during the day to work on them. Then they were rolled up at night so the sitting room could be used for its purpose.
This remembrance was published in The Precious Past, a collection of stories by Extension Homemakers that was published by the Washington County Extension Homemakers in 1992. Copyright, Washington County Extension Homemakers.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mrs. Carl Stevenson of Stoney Point, Iredell County, Started with Just Two Dozen Eggs, 1947

Written by F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, N.C. State University, and published in the Charlotte News, April 21, 1947
Start To Fortune
Here’s a story of almost fairytale quality that began when an average farm woman sold two dozen eggs at a curb market in Statesville in 1938.
There are now 47 farm curb markets in North Carolina and Mrs. Carl Stevenson of Rt. 1, Stoney Point, is one of the many women who has helped to make these markets a success. During the war years, they were particularly valuable.
Back in 1938, Mrs. Stevenson took her mother to the curb market and, while there she sold two dozen eggs. This gave her an idea and she began to sell her surplus vegetables, cream, and eggs on market days.
In 1939 there developed a great demand for butter and so Mrs. Stevenson discontinued selling cream and began selling butter. She enlarged her garden and began to sell more and more vegetables during the summer season. She added acorn squash, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower to the other vegetables she had been growing.
During the summer months her average income was about $50 a week, and during the winter, it sometimes dropped down to about $25.
Today Mrs. Stevenson is a member of the Sharon Home Demonstration Club and has three daughters who are outstanding members of the Scott’s 4-H Club.
What did she do with the profits from her curb market sales? Practically all of them went into home improvements and what a list of improvements this is. The first thing Mrs. Stevenson did was to buy a washing machine on the installment plan.
Just as soon as the washing machine was paid for, a bank account was built up and soon the Stevensons decided to wire the home and some of the other buildings for electricity. Mrs. Stevenson paid half the cost of this bill with her curb market savings.
Later through the Production Credit Association she purchased an electric refrigerator. Through the years she added an electric iron, had a well drilled and an electric water system installed, paid one-half of the expense on a brick pump and a wash house, and brought pipe for a water line to the chicken houses.
Then other home improvements came in rapid succession as her profits from curb market sales jumped. She bought an electric brooder, a new wood range, an electric motor for the cream separator, and a set of aluminum ware for the kitchen.
During all this time Mrs. Stevenson was buying the children’s clothing with curb market profits. She paid a hospital bill of $150 and put aside $500 in war bonds and a savings account of $1,000, which is to be used in building a new home one of these days.
As the children became older, they caught the spirit of their mother. First, they earned the money for their own clothing. Last year Martha had a cotton crop of her own and she made a profit of $265 on this project.
Marie began a garden along with her mother. Last year Marie sold her vegetables in the curb market and showed a profit of $170 on her 4-H activities.
Marjorie, the youngest, is beginning a poultry project this spring, but she has been getting her share of all the 4-H profits, even before she was old enough to join the club. The sisters have always pooled their profits at the close of the year and divided them into thirds.
Home Agent Mary B. Strickland says that the Stevensons have done a remarkable job in building up the income of their farm and that the whole idea dates back to the sale of two dozen eggs in 1938.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Lillian Capehart, First Granville County Home Demonstration Agent, 1912-14

Lillian Capehart, first home demonstration agent in Granville County, with a group of women and girls.
All Rights Reserved, N.C. State University.

Lillian Capehart with a group of women and girls. Mrs. A.L. Capehart was the first home demonstration agent in Granville County, serving from 1912 to 1924.
This photo is part of a wonderful collection of old photos in N.C. State’s Special Collections Research Center at D.H. Hill Library. To see more Home Demonstration, 4-H, and agriculture photos, go to Special Collections’ Green 'N' Growing collection.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

What's Old Is New Again, WUNC Radio

To hear Catherine Brand's report on WUNC Radio, go to http://wunc.org/programs/news/archive/TCD052411.mp3/view

The state extension's division of Family & Consumer Sciences is celebrating 100 years of service. What was first called 'Home Demonstration' and later 'Home Economics' has undergone many changes since 1911. Carolyn Dunn is the state's associate program leader for Family and Consumer Sciences. She says in many ways, the program has come full circle.

Carolyn Dunn: 100 years ago, we helped farm women to preserve food and feed family. Now, we have a generation or two of women who don't know how to prepare simple meals for family. We've relied too much on processed foods and fast foods and eating out. So we're having a push to consume more local foods and prepare them very simply in your own home.

Dunn says the program makes use of a variety of technology and social networking sites to reach families with essentially the same information. An event celebrating the 100th anniversary will be held tomorrow at NC State's Mckimmon Center. Jane Mckimmon was North Carolina's first 'home demonstration' agent -- one of only five in the country.

A Vital Need for Families for 100 Years, Lee County FCS

From the Sanford Herald, May 26, 2011  (http://sanfordherald.com/bookmark/13380994-A-vital-need-for-families-for-100-years)

SANFORD — For decades, rural women in Lee County relied on home demonstration agents like Eunice Cameron to teach them about food canning, advanced sewing and general household management.

“I can’t think of anything we didn’t have in regular homemaking,” said the 97-year-old Cameron, who also named flower arranging, embroidery and picture framing among the skills she helped others master.

Although its methods have evolved, the North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s Family and Consumer Sciences Program is still operating — with the mission of educating families on health, safety and environmental issues. On Wednesday, more than 850 delegates from across the state will gather at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh to mark the program’s 100th anniversary.

“I’m hoping to see some of the people I knew many years ago,” said Cameron, who will be among 18 representatives attending from Lee County.

Cameron followed her mother into the FCS program as a young adult. Listing some of the activities she recalls being involved in, Cameron said, “We made clothes, we made baskets; when we didn’t have enough shelves, we made shelves for our cabinets.”

“It has been of tremendous benefit,” Cameron continued. “I thought it was the next thing to a college education for those who couldn’t go to college.”

The program got its start in 1911 with Jane McKimmon, who was hired as the state’s first home demonstration agent. Around the turn of the century, “tomato clubs” started to sprout up in Lee County and throughout North Carolina.

Locally, in 1915, groups of young women would grow the crop and then learn to prepare it for canning. The focus soon expanded to preservation of all foods, and then later encompassed family health and weight control.

During World War II, home demonstration projects centered on stretching available resources — by means such as making cotton mattresses and planting victory gardens. Throughout the decades, residents across the state and county have learned to repair and refinish furniture, decorate their homes, preserve food, construct clothing, landscape their homes, manage money and increase family income through cottage industries — among other skills.

“At one time, we had over 20-some clubs in Lee County, who improved the quality of life in rural areas through education programs,” said Lee County Extension Director and family and consumer science agent Susan Condlin. “As we grew, and they grew, they started to offer them to all people — not just rural women.”

Read more: Sanford Herald - A vital need for families for 100 years

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

From the January 1952 issue of Extension Farm-News

Hertford Named ‘County of the Year’
Hertford County in eastern North Carolina has been named “County of the Year for 1952,” in the State Rural Progress Campaign with special reference to Negroes.
Besides the honor, the county qualifies for a $500 cash prize given by Dr. Clarence Poe, president and editor of The Progressive Farmer. The campaign was sponsored by A. & T. College in cooperation with other state agricultural and educational agencies. Forty-one counties, representing every section of the state, participated. Runners-up were Duplin, Rockingham, Edgecombe and Orange.
Iredell Woman Wins Dish for Conservation of Food
An Iredell County Home Demonstration club woman walked off with top honors in the State Food Conservation Contest, reports Extension Food Conservationist Rose Ellwood Bryan.
Mrs. James C. Crawford of Statesville, Route 5, won a covered silver vegetable dish for her 1952 family food conservation plan. As state winner, Mrs. Crawford conserved a grand total of more than 877 quarts of food last year. To win the contest, sponsored by the National Garden Institute, Mrs. Crawford had to produce and conserve at home an adequate supply of food to properly feed her family for one year.
Tar Heels Win Several Prizes
Tar Heel youths were prominent at the National Junior Vegetable Growers Association convention in New York in early December.
Bobby Smith and Clarence Chappell Jr., both of Belvidere, won seventh place in the nation with their sweet potato demonstration. Edwin Parker, Route 1, Windsor; Jimmy Hendrix, Greenville; Johnnie Roy Reavis, Route 2, Statesville; Jeanean Matre, Routh 4, Elizabeth City; and Margaret Lee Lester, Route 2, Reidsville, were state production and marketing winners.
John Parker, brother to Edwin, and Bobby Smith each received $100 as sectional winners.
Iredell County won a plaque for having the largest enrollment of any county in the nation in the production and marketing phase of the NJVGA.
Club Women Make Yadkin Hospital Dream Better
Yadkin County folk long dreamed of a hospital, according to Irene Brown, home agent, and now that they have one the Yadkinville Home Demonstration club is doing its best to provide for the comfort of patients.
Mrs. Walter L. Hinshaw, club president, says members made hundreds of pieces of linen for the hospital, and plans have been made to furnish flower containers, water glasses, magazines, and flowers.
Orange Farmers Increase Income
Despite severe drought and other problems, more than 100 Orange County farmers increased their gross cash farm income last year by $1,000 or more and thus met one of the major goals of the county’s Rural Progress Program.
This program concluded with a Rural Progress Night at Hillsborough High School, with several hundred persons present to hear reports on the year’s work and to see prizes awarded to winning individuals and communities. F.H. Jeter, Extension editor, was principal speaker.
The reports showed that, in addition to farm progress, many improvements had been made in the rural homes of the county, and at least 14 communities had conducted outstanding projects.
Cedar Grove Ruritan Club won first place in community activities, with Cedar Grove Negro PTA second. In the contest for outstanding work by neighborhood leaders, Caldwell was first, White Cross second, St. Mary’s third, and New Hope fourth.
Cash prizes were donated by business concerns of the area.
From the Around the State column:
Completion of the first REA-financed telephone system in North Carolina—and one of the first in the nation—was celebrated at Rockwell High School, Rowan County, on “REA Telephone Day,” October 9. The new system eliminates the “party line” and toll charges on calls to Salisbury, and brought shiny new telephones to 500 rural families in eastern Rowan previously without this service.
Governor Scott made the principal address and also placed the first call on the new system, talking with REA Administrator Claude R. Wickard in Washington.

[Congress established the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) in 1935 to lend money to companies and cooperatives to provide electricity to rural areas. Congress extended it to help provide telephone service to rural areas in 1949.]

Extension Farm-News was published by the Agricultural Extension Service, North Carolina State College, Raleigh, for its employees.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Extension Club History, Graham County

Graham County Extension Clubs, 1930s through late 1990s, by Laurie R. Stevens, retired FCS agent
By the late 1930s, Home Demonstration Clubs, as they were known then, were firmly established in Graham County. Miss Nellie Jo Carter, the Home Demonstration Agent, concentrated much of her efforts during the Great Depression on food conservation, curb markets and relief gardens, and clothing construction. Women in many of the communities in Graham County were excited with the opportunity to meet on a regular basis, to come up with better ways to cope with the hard farm family life and to improve their skills in family living. 

Times in the 1940s were extremely hard. Most residents lived on farms with no electricity or indoor plumbing, and heated their homes with wood. Nellie Jo was very interested in improving the lives of Graham County farm families.  She spent nearly thirty years educating them on food safety and food conservation methods, family financial and resource management, the importance of good nutrition for themselves and their children, and health issues. They learned how to make their own mattresses, construct their garments and home furnishings, such as draperies and quilts, and even how to make their own hats. She was such a talented agent--one that everyone grew to love. When the ladies got together with Nellie Jo, it not only boosted their self-esteem, but they gained new skills that would help them cope in these difficult times. Nellie Jo retired from the Agricultural Extension Service in Graham County in 1963.

Freida Morgan (Terrell), a young Assistant Home Demonstration Agent, came to Graham County from Clay County in 1964.  She was very talented in organizing the women. Clubs were healthy and surviving. Freida continued with all of the programs that Nellie Jo began in the early 1940s. She enhanced their knowledge in areas of food safety, home maintenance, and parenting skills and child development. Freida’s expertise was in assisting the ladies in the area of heritage skills. With a portion of the Cherokee Reservation (Snowbird Community) in Graham County, there was a lot of interest in craft production. With one major industry in the county, yarn production for carpeting, farming was still the staple that held families together. When times were tight, these women fell back on the management skills they had learned through Home Demonstration Clubs. In 1966, these clubs took on the name of Graham County Extension Homemakers, under the umbrella of the state and national organizations.

Virginia Mitchell (Patterson) replaced Freida in 1968. Home Economics was now focusing on the problems of low income families, the development of community resources, and the importance of nutrition to prevent certain health issues. Virginia also worked with the women’s clubs, while encouraging their children to participate in 4-H programming. Club women and youth worked together, especially in clothing maintenance and construction.

Sandra Roberts (Ray) took over Virginia’s responsibilities in 1970. Her expertise was in the area of clothing construction.  Everyone was sewing their own clothes and making their home furnishings. Helen’s Sew and Save (a local fabric store) was the place everyone went on their lunch hour. Women were working outside of the home and it was beginning to be more difficult for clubs to meet.

Laurie Roberts’ (Stevens) tenure was from 1972-1997. It began to be a challenge for the women to meet, so other opportunities were developed to offset their club meetings. Clubs were still active in the Snowbird, Massey Branch, Sweetwater, Stecoah, Robbinsville, West Buffalo, and Tapoco areas. In the late 70’s, programs were focusing on consumer education, energy conservation, programs for the elderly and elder management, housing, and again on food safety and conservation. Club women often attended the Community Cannery located at John C. Campbell Folk School, to preserve bushels of their home grown produce. Financial management and estate planning were of extreme interest to club women. It was a time when women were seeking medical attention, and everyone learned their “cholesterol number” when the club-sponsored health van came to Robbinsville. Laurie spent the majority of her Extension career educating the women in Graham County in the following areas:  Family Strengths and Child Development, Health and Human Safety, Family Resource Management, Housing and the Home Environment, Environmental Education, Diversity Issues, Community Development, and Youth Development. When Laurie left Graham County in 1997, the clubs struggled to survive. North Carolina Extension Homemakers opted out of the National organization in 1999 and what clubs remained fell under the umbrella of the NC Extension and Community Association. Club women were aging out, and younger women were working. It became extremely difficult to organize group related activities. At that point clubs dissolved in Graham County.

Latressa Phillips and Linda Buchanan, Family and Consumer Science Educators, as they now called, followed Laurie Stevens, by continuing group and special interest meetings in all areas of the FCS field of opportunities. Eve Rogers, the present FCS Educator began her career in 2008. She meets her audiences head on, addressing such issues as coping with stress, the dynamic increase of the senior population, diet related chronic diseases, food preservation, and other health and social issues. For the most part, it’s the same educational programs for the families of Graham County that Nellie Jo started in the late 1930s, only with a “modern slant.” 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Kraft-Phenix Cheese in Ashe County, 1939

By F.H. Jeter, State College Extension Editor, printed in the West Jefferson Skyland Post, Dec. 7, 1939
The other day a group of us sat in the office of L.G. Johnson, manager of the Kraft-Phenix cheese factory at West Jefferson in Ashe County, and heard Mr. Johnson make a remarkable statement. He said that cheese manufactured in is plant from North Carolina milk won first place in quality over all other similar cheese from the various branches of the company throughout the United States.
We have been taught to regard Wisconsin or New York State as the great cheese-making centers of this nation and thus it was with great surprise that I heard Mr. Johnson make this significant statement. But Mr. F.R. Farnham, dairy specialist [from State College, Raleigh], who was with me, did not appear surprised at all. He pointed out that the grass and clovers grown on the mountain sides of Ashe County have a superior food value. There are practically no off-flavors because there are no wild onions or garlic in the pastures. The farmers keep their milk cool and fresh in cold water running from ice-cold mountain springs. The milk is yet not handled as it should be and when mountain dairy men really learn to handle their milk as do those in some of the older dairy states, even better results will be secured.
The Kraft company has built a $75,000 plant at West Jefferson. It is the largest manufacturing concern in Ashe County and about 650 patrons are sending in fresh milk each day to the cheese factory. Most of this milk comes from Ashe County though smaller amounts are brought in from Alleghany, Watauga, and Grayson County, VA. There are 15 different milk routes established and the patrons deliver about 20,000 pounds of milk a day. Before the dry fall weather began, the factory was receiving 30,000 pounds a day. Mr. Johnson said he would manufacture 500,000 pounds of cheese in 1939 which is a small drop under 1938. “The producers are paid $1.50 a hundred pounds for all milk delivered and this cash is largely clear. The milk is just what each farmer produces himself from his own cows from his own pastures and feed crops. Practically no feed is purchased.”
As in other sections where dependable markets have been assured, the farmers are also investing in good barns and are erecting modern silos. Some are still depending upon the inexpensive trench silos until their incomes warrant building the more expensive kind. Walter Pennington of Nathan’s Creek community is one grower who has used the market to improve his farm. He has a modern brick home, a good barn and silo and recently began some demonstrations in improving his pasture. Mr. Pennington was recently elected the best demonstration farmer in Ashe County. He has 87 ½ acres in his home place and milks nine Jersey and Guernsey cows. At another farm a mile or two away, he also grows beef steers for the market. But he says the sale of milk has enabled him to do many of the things he has always wanted to do.
J.R. Phipps of the Silas Creek community was another farmer visited. Mr. Phipps has just built a $3,000 barn, silo and milk room combination. He keeps about 12 or 14 Guernsey milk cows and about 10 Hereford beef animals. Like Mr. Pennington, he has a nice home, equipped with electrical power, and gets a cash income from milk, beef cattle, Irish potatoes, sheep, hogs and burley tobacco. He sells his lambs and wool in the pools organized by Mr. (C.J.) Rich (the county farm agent), and is improving his pastures by the use of limestone and phosphate. He finds that broomsage is disappearing where these materials are applied to the land.
Over the north fork of the New River, G.B. Price, a pioneer Ashe county dairyman owns Rich Hill Farm. Mr. Price was the first man in the county to own a pure bred Guernsey bull and he is now carrying 40 to 45 pure bred Guernseys on his 160-acre place. He is co-operating with the North Carolina Experiment Station to run a real test of pasture making and fertilizing and as a result is getting his grass land to where it will carry one cow per acre. Recently he sold four Guernsey heifers for $1,000 and used the money to aid in rebuilding his modern farm home. Mr. Price has an efficient milk producing plant and is regarded as one of the leaders in the new type of farming, which has come to the county.
From Ashe County government’s history site (http://www.ashecountygov.com/History.htm): “The early 1900s saw much activity in the dairy industry, with cheese making factories in Grassy Creek and Beaver Creek, Sturgills, Crumpler and Ashland. Eventually, the Kraft-Phoenix Creamery established a plant in West Jefferson in the 1930s. Having had several owners, the plant is now the Ashe County Cheese Plant, for many years, the only such facility in North Carolina.”
Ashe County Cheese is on the web at http://www.ashecountycheese.com/default.htm.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Growing Up in Hamlet, NC

In Those Days, Mrs. Elizabeth James, Wake County (Published in I Remember When in 1978)
Every so often something happens to remind my mother of those days! Recently the death of my mother’s older sister called for several unplanned trips back to her old home place. Of course, her memories are always with her and she shares many of them with me, but those memories tended to snowball when we passed a house she lived in as a child. The house is in Hoffmann, and from there on down the road to Hamlet, it was a series of recollections. It was an unexpected bonus for me because now as never before in my life, I realized how precious recollections are for each of us.
She was born on a large farm in Chesterfield, South Carolina, one of five children. Her mother died when she was five and her father never remarried. Her father moved the family to Hoffmann to buy another farm, but evidently decided not to and settled in Hamlet, North Carolina and went into both the banking and grocery business instead. Although my mother’s memories of these days are sketchy they are none the less plentiful. Hoffmann was play time. Her mother’s sister lived there and her numerous cousins did too, so she was never without someone to play with other than brothers and sisters. She recalls as how her aunt decided she was old enough to be taught piano lessons, and how she stubbornly refused to learn more than the bare essentials, and how she regrets it to this day.
After her father settled in Hamlet, it was one housekeeper after another until “Aunt Lou” happened on the scene, and managed to mystically keep the somewhat unruly bunch in line. My mother speaks very affectionately of “Aunt Lou” and has on more than one occasion, usually when her own brood would get out of line, said “if only Aunt Lou were here she would know what to do.” It seems that when Aunt Lou came to them, she established her own order of doing things and not theirs. She started by lining all the children up and giving them a bath. My mother grouses “and what was so bad is that it wasn’t even Saturday.”
I’ve never heard her talk about stories of the War Between the States, but sometimes I’m privileged to hear accounts of day-to-day living ‘In Those Days.’
Recreation was a do-it-yourself project, so even chores were transformed into occasions. Even husking corn was turned into an occasion for a neighborly get-together. According to my mother, the children would salvage enough husks to make their own dolls and as many doll-like accompaniments as the imagination would allow.
After the corn was husked, both the corn and the husks were stored in a barn. Although my mother has no personal memory of barn raising, she does remember that there was a separate barn for storing about everything. The cotton barn was off-limits, so of course, it held a special fascination for children. According to my mother, a favorite pastime of her and her brothers and sisters was digging tunnels through the cotton that had been stored in the barn. To this day she claims it must have been an out and out miracle that those tunnels didn’t collapse and smother everybody. This brings to mind other memories of things to do with barns. Like the time her father took a wagon (horse drawn), put a canvas cover over it, lengthwise benches in it, and made a school bus to haul the children and their friends to school and back. The time they were rounding up the geese to pick feathers and trapped an especially hard to capture one in the barn. Her father told all the children that if that goose got loose, they were all going to get a spanking. She says that old goose must have understood every word, as he squatted down and proceeded to fly right over their heads. She also says her father was a man of his word. Although I suspect it was more like just retribution for past misdeeds. Children constantly grow and so do the memories.
She tells me that in those days a blade of grass in the yard was a sign that whoever lived there was lazy. So every Saturday, the yard had to be swept clean, but first you had to gather some broomstraw and tie it to a handle to make a yard broom, and woe be unto the person who busied themselves with anything before the yard was swept. Needless to say, winter, however harsh it was—was looked forward to simply because it meant that the yard didn’t have to be swept so often. She tells about the time she filled in for a friend and taught at the local school. She found out one of her brothers was playing hooky. He would leave for school every morning and very seldom arrive there. She confronted him and threatened to tell her father. All of a sudden her brother became quite civil and even taught her to drive the Model T.
Each day provides a new crop of memories and although arthritis prevents her from even trying to jot a few of them down, everytime I hear her say “In those days”, I listen and listen hard. Because for me those recollections are priceless and I don’t want to miss a word of them.
I Remember When: Reminiscences of Fifty Years Ago, is a collection of the memories of Extension Homemakers from across the state of North Carolina. It was published by the North Carolina Extension Homemakers Association, Inc., in 1978 and is copyrighted.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hydraulic Ram Water Pumps on Alexander County Farms, 1938

By F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, published in the Whiteville News Reporter, Aug. 1, 1938
Late the other afternoon I stood at the foot of a hill in Alexander County and looked upward towards a farm home. Near me in the valley was a free-flowing spring of water and leading from the spring up the hill to the home was a winding path made through the course of several years of steady walking, to and from the spring, that a supply of water might be secured for use in that home. The present pathway, however, was comparatively new because on old one had become a gulley and this new path had been pattered on the edge of this gulley.
To reach the spring, occupants of the home had had to cross the pasture fence and there was an ingenious opening made therein that a human might negotiate with some inconvenience, but which would be impossible for the cows. I suspect that many pails of water had been carried up that hill. I suspect also that many times the family had been deprived of necessary water because of a treacherous footing on the hillside due to sleet, rain or snow. Many times in the night, perhaps, that trip to the spring had been made because of sickness in the home.
But now, laid out alongside the worn pathway was a new marking of fresh earth. It ran 400 feet from the spring up an elevation of 40 feet and it indicated where a pipe line had been laid so that by means of simple hydraulic ram, a supply of fresh cold water was being pumped, night and day, continuously, to a water tank built near the kitchen. This ram is now delivering 960 gallons a day of pure water for use in that farm home and the days of weary walking are ended.
“We have more water than we know what to do with,” exclaimed the radiantly happy farm wife as I talked with her husband about the convenience thus afforded.
The next day, I spent several hours visiting other from homes in Alexander County where these simple rams had been installed at costs running from about $94 to $150 each. I saw fresh running water available for kitchens, bathrooms, barns, poultry houses, hog lots and lawns. In some instances, electrical power was also used in the home but the cost of installing the rams the expense of upkeep is so slight that the owners preferred the ram to the more expensive electrical pumps.
In all, I was told that 125 of these hydraulic rams had been installed in the farm homes of that county, and, that additional rural dwellers were making surveys to see if they could not put in such a simple convenience.
One elderly gentleman said that he and his wife must have walked a distance of 35,000 miles during their 40 years of married life, in going to the spring for water, and then, the buckets were almost always empty when water was needed most.
In Caldwell County, the folks have recently completed 298 miles of rural electrical lines. At present 800 homes are being serviced with this energy and it is expected that an additional 400 rural homes will shortly begin to use such power. Lights are twinkling in the homes along the roadside and up in the coves and the valleys. Radios are bringing to lonely people the blessings of music, entertainment and information. Children study with less eye strain and there is a more “homey” atmosphere surrounding them. Many burdens, too, have been lightened for the busy farm housewife and as a result better homes are being built.
“I would rather have running water than electric lights if I had to make a choice between the two,” said one farm woman to me the other day. “We need water nearly all the time, seems to me, while we don’t use the lights except at night.”
If you aren’t familiar with hydraulic ram water pumps, Wikipedia explains them at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_ram.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Davidson County History

Home Demonstration work began in 1914 in Davidson County when the County Commissioners, at the urging of the women in the county, put up $600 to hire an agent. A matching sum was supplied by the state. Miss Eunice Penny, the first Home Demonstration agent, traveled by horse and buggy throughout the rural areas of the county organizing Tomato Clubs for girls and Home Demonstration Clubs for women. She paid for supplies or equipment out of her salary. She was widely known for her “fireless” cooker, which allowed her to arrive at a club meeting with a cooked the chicken! The chicken was placed a in specially designed container and hot bricks provided the heat for cooking.
Miss Penny had a sincere interest in people, a wonderful personality and enthusiasm and ability. She left after three years to marry a county farm agent.
In the early years, Home Demonstration programs were designed mainly to teach rural women basic skills in preparing and preserving food and for making and caring for adequate clothing. For many years, the home agents attended every monthly club meeting. Later, their time and expertise were more widely used by county and city citizens. 
In July of the Depression year 1932, the Commissioners failed to appropriate funds for the position. Davidson County was without a Home Demonstration agent for six years. Arcadia, Fairgrove, Hedrick’s Grove, and Reeds Home Demonstration clubs kept active, giving the demonstrations and working constantly with other women to secure funds for an agent.  Mrs. R. Lee Palmer of Tyro was one of the leaders in this effort.
Funds were restored and on September 18, 1938. Miss Sara Louise Weaver came to the county and with the support of the women, reorganized old clubs and organized new clubs. In a short time, Home Demonstration and 4-H Clubs were thriving in 15 areas of the county and membership had increased appreciably.
On November 30, 1938, the Davidson County Council of Home Demonstration Clubs was organized with Mrs. C.C McCoin of Thomasville serving as temporary president. In January 1939, Mrs. R.C Lanning of Wallburg was elected as president. Since then, the Council has coordinated the work of the clubs and initiated special projects. Concerned effort made it possible to achieve many goals which would have been impossible for individual clubs. The impact of these activities through the years on the quality of life in Davidson County cannot be overestimated. 
Clubs took on projects to meet the needs of their respective communities, and individual members provided leadership in church, school, and community projects.  The achievements of these clubs is a very important part of this history and all their histories need to be read to grasp the full significance of their contributions to better living.
As members of a local club, women are automatically members of a district (Davidson is the Northern Piedmont); members of the North Carolina Extension Homemakers Association, the national organization and the international Associated Country Women of the World which numbers 8 ½ million members in 164 countries.  Davidson County Extension Homemakers number 385 in 20 clubs and 111 members at large.  State membership total 16,814 in 1,126 clubs. National membership totals 312,413. 
For over 50 years, dozens of Davidson County farmers and farm women traveled to what was then NC State College for the annual Farm and Home Week. They roomed in men’s dormitories with bunk beds, hall bathrooms and no air conditioning! They attended classes all day long designed to improve and update their farming and homemaking skills.  In the evenings there was singing and entertainment in the Riddick football stadium. On Thursday of that week the NC Federation of Home Demonstration Clubs held their annual meeting with hundreds of club women from throughout the state in attendance. All the women wore white dresses, hats and gloves for this big day!
In 1967, Home Demonstrations Clubs became Extension Homemakers Clubs, a name more descriptive of the partnership with the Extension Service and the role of club member in the home
Throughout the history of the Davidson County Agricultural Fair, club women have played an important role.  They have served as chairman of various departments and worked most of the week to keep everything moving smoothly.  For 10 or more years each club entered an exhibit around a central theme. These exhibits were judged and winners were given cash prizes.  Competition was keen and many clubs displayed outstanding exhibits.  In more recent years all of the clubs have cooperated on a single comprehensive exhibit and the Fair Association pays the County Council a significant sum for this popular feature of the Fair. The exhibit is staffed throughout the week by club members.
In 1979, Homemakers showcased their organization in an exhibit entitled “Homemakers in History” in the Davidson County Historical Museum. The history of the organization was depicted in pictures and memorabilia.  Also exhibited were the various programs of work including Citizenship, International, Family Life and Youth, Music and Cultural Arts, Health and Safety, Foods, Clothing, and House Furnishings. This exhibit remained for three months and drew considerable praise from the public.
Handicrafts have played a popular and important role through the years. Many club women have become skilled craftsman and they have conducted hundreds of workshops to teach their crafts to eager learners. 
Eleven county women have been honored by the state North Carolina Extension Homemakers Association with Honorary Life Memberships.  
The club women of this county have been blessed through the years with exceptional home agents who were known first as Home Demonstration Agents and then became Home Economics Extension Agents.  These outstanding women have provided foresight and vision in this 80 year journey. Without them, there would have been no journey. The travelers would have fallen by the wayside. The agents have shared their reservoir of Home Economics expertise and tirelessly given encouragement, always believing in the women and their leadership potential. They were out in front, but never so far ahead that the women could not see and follow. They all live in the hearts of the club women who have loved them and known them as friends as well as mentors.
--From information submitted by the Davidson County Extension Center, NC Cooperative Extension Service

If you’d like to see what’s going on today at the Davidson County Extension Center, take a look at the county center's web site and these articles and photos from The Dispatch:

Lucille Koontz, Davidson County

When Lucille Koontz joined Welcome ECA Club in Davidson County in 1939, the club’s theme was “Work, Save and Serve.” She remembers creating and maintaining a first aid room at Welcome School that provided linens, blankets and supplies. When a public library branch was opened in Welcome in 1955, the club supported story hours for children and paid rental on space for the library. They also provided band uniforms for the high school and sent boys and girls to 4-H camp every year. She is still an active member at the age of 92. 
Not surprisingly held many offices, including president of her club and the  county’s Extension Homemakers Council. She was also elected as a delegate to attend a UN Study Forum in 1956, served as NC State Health Chairman to the 25th annual meeting of ECA in Bangor, Maine, in 1961.  She has represented Davidson County as a district delegate to Witchita, Kansas.  On another occasion Lucille was invited to and visited the White House.
In 1958, a very special position in NC Extension service placed her at the United Nations in New York at a meeting of the National Foundation Association as a spokesman on health issues in North Carolina, sharing the platform with Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D Roosevelt.  Other dignitaries of note at that session were Dr. Jonas Salk and Helen Hayes.
Her service extended beyond Extension. She served on the committee for the formation of the Davidson County Community College when it was organized in 1963, chaired the campaign for funds for the Warm Springs Foundation which later became the March of Dimes, and opened her home to farm tours.
The focus on these clubs was to help farm women improve the life of families in areas of health, housing, housekeeping, nutrition, canning and food preparation. Management and optimal use of “butter and eggs” money was stressed by the agent. Opportunity was provided for the farm family to make their own mattresses of cotton for family beds to replace feathers and straw as filler. Agents provided tips in areas of need:  utilizing scarce commodities during war times, maintaining good health and providing nutritious meals for the family. Members participated in dress reviews, contests at local club and county levels. Lucille won first place in 1955 with a two-piece best dress category, and a one-piece best dress of nylon, and a one-piece best dress of pongee.  Members regularly competed in reading, with Lucille having the most book certificates in 1956. Lucille has received awards and recognitions.  In 1964, she was recipient of the A&P Leadership Achievement Award.
Lucille has been very active and prominent in the Welcome Garden Club with plantings surrounding their home to witness this, and she is still a faithful volunteer every year in the Horticulture exhibit at the Davidson County Fair.
--Submitted by the Davidson County Extension Center, NC Cooperative Extension Service

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fuller Family Farm, Vance County, 1937

“Whenever I get discouraged about the energy of foresight of our farm people, I like to think about Mr. and Mrs. Clifton Fuller of Vance County. Mrs. Fuller told me recently about how she and her husband managed to make ends meet and save some money on a fifty-acre farm. They were married eleven years ago and have always grown cotton and tobacco. For the first three years, they operated a tenant farm and then bought the 50 acre place on which they now live. This was not given to them, neither did they inherit any part of it. They bought it with their own money, paying $1,000 down in cash and the balance in yearly payments.
“Like most cotton and tobacco farmers, they had money only once a year. After paying their debts, they banked this money and drew on it as was needed for farm and household expenses, but they had to spread this money out mighty thinly to make it last until another banking time. So Mrs. Fuller began to think about the home demonstration curb market which had been established by Mrs. Hattie Plummer in Henderson. The Fullers loaded their car one day with the things which they thought would sell on this market. This included fresh vegetables from the garden, some fruit from the orchard, eggs, chickens, buttermilk and butter. Mrs. Fuller knew little about grading her produce but she was wise enough to select only the best looking stuff she had and to prepare it nicely. Anyway, that first day at the market was an eye-opener. It was a success. So much so that the Fullers have missed few market days in the past three years.
“Mrs. Fuller is an observant woman. She saw that those things that sold best that were best prepared. In other words, a bunch of turnips scrubbed clean with fresh, pure water and tied nicely sold much more quickly than a mess of dispirited-looking, wilted turnips pulled the day before. Fresh firm butter right from the well house and wrapped with clean paper or cloth sold more quickly than other kinds. The same was true of chickens. A few peaches, graded to one size and free of all blemish or rot sold more easily than did a nondescript collection dumped into a dirty basket. Mrs. Fuller noted this and she and Mr. Fuller began to take only first class products to the market. She also tried to take those things that were in demand. Better than all this, she guaranteed everything that she sold. “If it is not satisfactory,” she told her customers, “I will be back here next market day and I will make it good.”
“Since she has been selling her surplus produce in this way, her sales have amounted to between $800 and $1,000 a year. Not only do the Fullers have this extra cash, but because they grow the things for market, they also have a better balanced menu on the home table. Right now, they are letting the sales from these surplus products take care of the running expenses of the place. What money is received from the cotton and tobacco crops is put into the bank and kept them in the form of savings.
“And here is what happened—two years ago the Fullers built a nine-room brick house on their little farm. They did not go into debt for one single item in building the home. That same winter, Mr. Fuller developed pneumonia from overexposure and one would expect of overwork. It was necessary to send him to the hospital for eleven days. This, added to the expense of the doctors and the loss from work, was a severe test on the Fuller’s cash account. But they paid in cash, and there was no complaint. How many city folks can do any better than that, if as well?
“The Fullers have only a small farm. They plant a one-horse crop and with the help of a Negro laborer, do all the work themselves. The husband grows the vegetables, helps to prepare them for market and loads them into the car. Mrs. Fuller does the marketing. With the money they have made under this cooperative plan, they have furnished their new home very comfortably.
“We have electric lights, running water, a radio, an electric refrigerator and iron,” Mrs. Fuller says, “We expect to buy a washing machine and other electrical equipment next season.”
“And all of this comes from 50 acres of land intelligently farmed and more intelligently planned. Folks like these Fullers are the cream of the earth and the future home of North Carolina.”
This article, written by Extension Editor Frank Jeter of State College, now N.C. State University, was published in the Marshville Home newspaper on Dec. 15, 1937. The newspaper, now known as the Marshville Home News, was begun in 1892.

Caudle Family--Sewing Class in Richmond County

When we started working on Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Service, county Extension FCS agents went through their files and sent us pictures and information. The following was submitted by the Richmond County Extension Center, which holds the copyright for the photo. We don't have a date for the photo. If you have more information, please share.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Making Mattresses in Macon County, early 1940s

Photos from Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Service, published 2011.

All photos are copyrighted.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Making Mattresses in the 1940s

From 1940 to 1942, county Extension agents helped rural families replace bed ticking filled with straw into mattresses made with government-supplied surplus cotton. Families making less than $400 a year were eligible to receive 50 pounds of cotton, 10 yards of ticking, and needles, which Mom and Dad then turned into a mattress at the county mattress center.

Extension specialists Pauline Gordon, Mamie Whisnant, Willie Hunter, and Eugene Starnes from N.C. State University taught county agents how to construct the mattresses. County agents located a suitable site for the mattress center, a location large enough to store the bales of surplus cotton donated by the federal government and with space to allow couples to put together mattresses. In 1940, eligible families began transforming North Carolina’s allotment of 4,600 bales of cotton into mattresses with the instruction of the county agent. The following year, the making of comforters was added. The program only lasted two years, but North Carolinians made more than 220,000 mattresses, and some 1.1 million mattresses were made nationwide.

Lorna Langley, home economics agent in Sampson County, recalled visiting a home that had mattresses to see what they were doing with them.

“We went into this lady's home and she had three mattresses, one on top of the other piled on a bedstead. The children were sleeping on the floor. Of course, we raised the question why these three were stacked up and the children were sleeping on the floor. She said, "Well, I will tell you, me and my old man slept on one one night and it felt so good that we decided we would put all of them on here. We are going to take it apart after a while and let the children sleep on them.”

The above quote is from a 1980 interview of the county agent conducted for and published in Knowledge is Power: A History of the School of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University 1877-1984 by Dr. William L. Carpenter and Dean W. Colvard. Published 1986. Online at http://harvest.cals.ncsu.edu/applications/calshistory/chapter11.html

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Life Was Good, Mrs. R.A. Lowery Sr., Iredell County

The following is an excerpt from an essay by Mrs. R. A. Lowery Sr., Iredell County, which was published in I Remember When: Reminiscences of Fifty Years Ago, published by the North Carolina Extension Homemakers Association Inc. in 1978.

I remember when we moved here to “old home place” in late 1900. Things were far different than today.
We had kerosene lamps and homemade candles for light. My grandparents lived with us and Granny had her own candle molds. She used bee’s wax or tallow and made them perfectly.
My Mother did the cooking and most of the housework, so Granny could do the carding of cotton or wool, spin the thread on her big spinning wheel, weave cloth for bedspreads (counterpanes), then add the wide knitted lace to the border, and complete the coverlet with hand-tied fringe. Granny knitted my stockings and when I wore a hole in the knee she could take her needles and repair it perfectly. She ironed all the clothing with old flat irons.
Granny knew all herbs and spices as well as wild greens (Salet) such as lambs quarter and poke. She made cough medicine from leaves of mullen. This was stewed and liquid was sweetened with honey or sugar, if it was available.
Grandpa was a leather tooler and made horse collars for large plantations. He also made shoes and always mended the worn out soles with new leather bought in big squares. The old iron last is now in possession of the fourth generation.
My parents were working hard to pay for the farm. Pa loved the farming part but also was in the sawmilling business as well as lumber planing, drying and hauling to market. With this was also a cotton gin and grist mill, where they ground corn for meal or for feed for the animals. Four o’clock a.m. was the time to get up, feed the stock such as horses, mules, oxen, hogs, etc. This was done while Mother cooked the ham, biscuits, mush and eggs to go with the coffee, butter and jelly or preserves.
After breakfast it was back to the work--the men to mill or field, Mother dishwashing with lye soap, then bedmaking and sweeping the floors with a homemade broom often made of sedge gathered from fields that were not worked for a year or so. I loved to make the brooms. They were easy to use on the bare floor. We had no rugs for many years.
We never knew when some of the kinfolk might be coming but we were always prepared with plenty of flour or meal for bread, hams, etc. We also had chickens and eggs plus wild meat such as rabbit, squirrel, opossum and sometimes a mud turtle. I did not care for some of that so I survived on vegetables, buttered bread and molasses or honey. Sometimes we had pear preserves or blackberry jam.
We were pestered with flies until 1911, when we had a siege of typhoid. My Pa then screened the dining and kitchen room and the big L-shaped back porch. We had no pesticides then so we had to use mosquito netting to keep them off the beds at night.
In the spring we washed the bed ticks and filled them with fresh straw for mattresses. To me nothing was better than a freshly filled bed tick stuffed well and evenly and a quilt on top for cover.
We sat on porches to keep cool. We carried fans to church to keep cool. We wore bonnets to keep fair skin. We used a dam in the branch to bathe in summer.
We had no electricity, no telephone until about 1910 and that was an eight party line. We used batteries to operate the phones and if you lived far out you could not get Central very well, so you’d ring someone nearer to town and ask them to ring for you. I did this many, many times.
We only went to town shopping three or four times a year. We bought shoes, material for clothes, thread, buttons, lace and ribbon. We gradually started buying “bought” stockings, and sox and also long johns under clothing. Times were hard but we did not know it so it did not hurt us.
Copyright: North Carolina Extension Homemakers Association Inc.