Some stories are so far fetched they are unbelievable. To this day, my mother insists her stories are true.
Set during the civil war, this story is her memory of a story of an earlier generation. As told by my mother, her great-grandmother Cricket experienced a frightening and unforgettable trip to the Mill – Falls Mill.
I hope you enjoy… W.F. Lovelady
During the civil war, my great grandmother (on my dad’s side) was a little girl ten years old. She lived with her sharecropper family. Farming everything from corn, potatoes and cotton, the family received one-third of the harvested crop as food and a source of income.
Crops were plentiful that year, and it was time to take the corn to the Grist Mill (Falls Mill) in Belvedere, TN so that the corn could be ground into meal. Cricket was elected to go as all other family members had the flu.
“Cricket,” Papa declared. “It’s up to you. For without meal to make bread, we will not make it through the winter.” Papa continued. “Follow the road to the Mill. Then after they grind the corn into meal, take the same road back to Hog Holler.”
Cricket did as she was told. She traveled the lonely dirt road to the Mill, had the corn ground into meal, and then returned to the horse and started back down the old dirt road toward Hog Holler. Cricket did not get very far until a troop of Union soldiers began to pass her and her horse. One soldier dressed in blue, approach Cricket and demanded her horse. Terrified, little Cricket began to cry hysterically. The soldier told her again to dismount the horse. Unsure what to do, a frightened Cricket held tight and remained in the saddle fearing she might fall to the ground.
You see, her journey required assistance. Because she was so small, Papa placed her on the horse to begin the journey, and later the workers of the mill assisted her in her dismount and then her remount.
Now impatient, the soldier lifted Cricket under her arms and sat her on a nearby rock soon leaving with both horse and meal. Even more scared and unsure what to do, Cricket sat on the rock with tears streaming down her cheeks. Cricket had heard so many stories of Yankee soldiers. She continued to sob. Through a veil of tears, Cricket watched as the rest of the troops passed. At the end of the line, a well-dressed soldier approached Cricket. Presumed to be an officer, he had many shiny buttons on his chest. The officer saw Cricket huddled on the rock trembling like a frightened mouse. He halted his great white horse, and asked, “What’s wrong little girl?”
Cricket, sniffling, nervously told the gentlemen about her family and her task to have the harvested corn ground into meal for the family’s winter food source. Cricket continued in a quivering voice and mentioned the soldier who took both her horse and meal. The officer leaned over, pat Cricket on the head, and told her not to worry. He then rode off on his white horse. Minutes later the officer returned with Cricket’s horse and grain. He then stepped off his horse, lifted Cricket back onto her horse, with grain behind, and declared, “I don’t make war with small children and sick persons.” Patting her on the head, the officer handed Cricket the reins and re-assured that she would be safe on her return home.
Cricket finally retuned home safely. She couldn’t wait to tell Papa about her scary experience, and the gentleman that had ensured her safe return. Cricket even mentioned the officer’s name, Mr. Grant.