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Thomas Benton Blakely at Cotton Ridge Tennessee

Thomas Benton Blakely at Cotton Ridge Tennessee
Coal Hill Arkansas, January 10th, 1931
Mr. Thomas Blakely Wilhite (born 1859)
Nashville Arkansas

My Dear Thomas, sparing partner and grandson:-

When I was just your age, 4 years old, I went to Memphis Tenn. My father was in the war
and was stationed at Memphis, my mother, little sister Dorah and Aund Pagan Barham, went
to see my father. My aunt went to see her son Leander Barham who was afterwards killed in
the corner of a fence -- he and a young man, George Manus, while they were asleep killed
by bushwhackers. I remember very little about the trip, however I can remember my aunt
lost her pocket book, we camped and she walked back several miles to look for it. I do not
know if whither she found it or not. I can remember the solders and the little tents and
going down on the bank of the Miss. River I thought it was a very large river. I was born
March 25, 1859. In a little log house chinked in the suburbs of Cotton Ridge Tenn a little
town of about 29 inhabitants.

During the war my mother moved to town on a small farm where we lived until I was 9 years
old, my grand father owned a water mill about 200 years from his home, a big 2 story log
house, it was in the millpond I learned to swim when I was about 7 years old.

My father came home in June 1865, brother Pink (Dr. Pinkney Blakely) and I was at school when we heard my father
was at home, we ran all the way home, a distance of about 2 miles. I was not very well
acquainted with my father as I had never seen him but once as I remember that was in
Memphis in 1863, you see he left home when I was 2 years old, hence my limited
acquaintance. It was this mill pond that my father would let us boys go in swimming as
often as we wanted to if we would go in before breakfast. We went in between daylight and
sun up beginning about the first of March and continuing through but the spring, summer
and fall and about the 15th of November we would to into winter quarters, I became an
expert in the water. Could swim like a duck and dive like a fish.

The first school I ever attended was the summer of 1865, the teachers name was John
Cantiberry, a cripple caused from infantile paralysis. I did not know then what was the
cause, but I know now. Well I continued to attend the Cotton Ridge School every summer
until I was 9 years old when we moved to graves County, Ky, 15 miles from Mayfield, the
county site and by the way it was in Mayfield that I saw my first man hanged, I can well
remember how he was dressed. He said he did not do the actual killing, the man he was with
was a very bad man, he told his pal to come away and let the woman alone, but instead his
pal killed her but the real killer was never caught as I understand.

Well I can remember the move from Cotton Ridge McNairy County Tenn to Viola Station Ky.,
we moved by the way of trucks pulled by a yoke of steers, one red and a black one. The red
steer was named after em "Tom" and the back one name was Dick. It was about 125 .....1868
and the roads were very bad and muddy so we made very slow progress. I remember we got
with in about 10 miles of our goal, Wash Peeples,(William Washington Peeples) a cousin of mine, who
had been with us left us one morning and walked a head of the moving van to tell the news.
IT sure did makeus sore as when we got there we had no strange news to tell as Wash had told it all. My
grand gather and some uncles and aunts liked in Ky at that time so when we arrived my
father looked around and bought a farm from old man Taylor. The house on the farm was a 2
story house, a big room and a kitchen, a hall between so we was well fixed for room and
shelter. Us boys worked on the farm made and gathered crops, going to school about three
months each year after crops was made. We lived on this farm 5 years. Mother died on the
23 day of November 1872 and was burried the nest day in a country grave yard on Brother
Pinks( Dr. Pinkney Blakley) birthday . In March 1973 my father married a Mrs. McCalister
who had 4 children. We did not get along so in December 1873 we broke up housekeeping
and moved back to Tenn. Leaving my step mother and half brother in Ky.

Lest I forget my mother ( Mary E. "Peeples" Blakley) died 3 days after my little brother Ira
was born it was my mothers request that her Sister Aunt Eunice ( Eunice "Peeples" Cantrell)
take Dora (Dora "Blakley" Crook)and the baby and keep them so she did. Taking them to Tenn
where Ira died at the age of 9 months. I remember what we were doing
the day we received the letter that Ira was dead, we were cleaning up a turnip patch and
Uncle Ned Peeples brought the letter down in the field to my father.

After going back to Tenn brother Jim and I worked for my grandfather on a farm at 8.00
($8.00) per month made and gathered a crop for which we received 4 cents each. I went to
school that summer 2 months to a teacher by the name of Henry ?amble. He taught school in
a log dwelling house. He was a fine man and teacher. He could read, write, sipher and
spell real well. I had only 2 books to lug to and from school, a blue back speller and a
McGuffies see reader. This was 1874 so the next year I worked for my Uncle Ben Peeples and
wages had gone sky high. We Jim Pink and I all got 12.50 ($12.50) per month worked 8
months for an ever 100$. Nothing much to buy we all saved about 95 cents a piece and spent
at going to school.
The next year 1875 all of us brothers and sister stared in house keeping. Rented what was
called the Covy farm one mile from McNairy Station. We lived on this farm 2 years. We
moved to an other place and Brother Will and I got a job on a section. I worked at this
job 2 years never loosing a day. Saved all the money I could and went to school as much as
possible. I had made such great progress that I was employed as a teacher in a graded
school in the country. On of my students finely made a Doctor out of himself and it was he
that attended Mr. J. J. Bradley in his last illness.

Well after working on the RR and teaching school I entered school again went to the South
West Baptist University of Jackson, Tenn. Went back home and during the winter of 1879
went to Dr. J. W. Conger. It was while attending this school that I first met a little
blue eyed girl that afterwards became your Mama.

In or on the 26th day of February I landed in Knoxville Arkansas bought a car load of
stuff through for my uncle Bent Peoples made a share crop with him that year made 9 bales
of cotton and 150 bu of corn. Picked all the corn [cotton] and gathered all the corn ,
went back to Tennessee. Landed there on the 9th day of November 1882 attended my sisters
wedding that night went to my grandmothers funeral the next day and was married my self on
the 18th of November 1882. Came back to Ark and made 2 crops and went to work for Cozort
Brothers on the day Grover Cleveland was elected president.

Back to my first year in Arkansas after crops was laid by, a friend of mine by the name of
Sam Evans took a notion to go west, so we rigged up a one horse wagon and pulled out for
Indian territory. We went as far west as Weber Falls and in order to make expenses we
rigged up a small slight of hand show. I was Hou?inia so I had some bills stuck which read
like this: "Thomas B Blakely the great slight of hand performer Legerdemain and
Ventriloquist will perform to night at the school house admission 10 and 25 cents." And
strange to say we made expenses and then some.

Well Thomas with the help of your grandmother keeping boarders and helping to save money I
was able to attend the medical college at Little Rock Arkansas during the year 1892 and
1893 graduating. Ten years later I took a post graduate course in Chicago, Ill and I am
sure you have heard your mother say what a famous Doctor I am. cure cancers, relieve ear
ache, stop the colic in a 3 month old kid. You see I finally made what my father wanted me
to be. Now if I could live to see become a great Doctor I certainly would be happy.

Tell your mother I will tell her what the wonderful salve is made of after she is ??red
but I am afraid to tell her now as the remedy is so simple she wouldn't have in confidence
in it. Now you know if I was to tell her this is what the salve is made of she would quit
using it. I sure hope her ears will get well and stay well as I can't think of any thing I
would rather see than to see her ear well when she comes up to see us next spring and eat
vegetables and fried chickens. Don't you know it will soon be time to garden, not quite a
month, the 17th day of February is the time to start.

[EAR SALVE - Sweet gum wax, Oxide of zinc, Mutton Taller and enough
molasses to make a salve.]

Thomas I hope you enjoy this letter and I will write you some more one of these days, I
will write you before gardening time as I will ?s I will be so busy then I wont have time.
When you see your grandmother look on her finger and you will se a ring that I put on
there ?? Years ago one Sunday evening while we were hunting huckleberries.

Love to you all, your grandfather Thomas Benton Blakely.

Note: Thomas Blakely (or Blakeley) married Mary Louise Bradley, of Purdy, daughter of
Joseph John Bradley. In 1860 when Thomas was s1 year old. He is listed in the 8th District
1860 McNairy County Census in the household of J.P. And Mary E.Blakely, next door to
Mary's parents C.W. And Thursday Peoples.

Submitted to this project by Murrell Peeples M-Peeples@peoplepc.com


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