Hopkins County Folk Lore
Hickory Lickin's for a Buntin BoyBy Contributing Editor, Carolyn Buntin Eveland
This is one of the stories that my great, great grandfather, William Henderson Buntin, wrote in his journal in 1900. He came to Hopkins County, KY in 1839 and is buried in the Shakerag Community, near Hanson, KY. He died the year after he wrote this sketch in 1901. He was 83 years old at the time of this writing.
(Rarely is a period used at the end of his sentences. To make for easier reading, I will insert a period wherever I can)
I was born in Halifax County in old Virginia on the third day of January 1817. My parents were very poor, but we lived in that county on the waters of Highco (Hyco) creek, a stream off the Dan River until I was about ten years old.
I always was of a different disposition from most of the other children. I had two brothers older than me. On one occasion, my father was splitting some light wood, and he ordered me to carry it in the house. I called on him to make Jim (brother) help me and he would not do it. I continued to carry it in until it was all done. After that, I concluded to leave the place, that if I stayed there, I would have everything to do. And there was a family in almost a mile that was all the time after me to live with them, and I put off there, although it was getting dusk. When I got there I told them what had happened and that I had come to live with them.
Well, they received me somewhat reluctantly and I almost wished I had not come. But I looked out at the yard fence and what should I see but my father come stepping over the fence with a long hickory in his hand. And there I was, and he would not let me leave for some time and when he did, he made me walk slow and whipped me all the way home.
After that, there was a family moved close by named Foster. There was two grown young men and three grown girls and the two old folks. All seemed to think a great deal of me and I stayed with them a great deal of the time. All the young men in the neighborhood would learn me every ugly song they could think of and those young girls would have me to sing to them when no there was no person present but me and them.
On one occasion my father was away from home shoemaking, late in the fall. On a cool, rainy morning I was lying in bed and I felt like I had better go out, but put it off too long. You can guess what happened. I jumped up and I did not have any pants on. I went off back of the house where there was a hole of water and washed off clean, quick. I was already on the way to the Fosters and went there. When I got there, I told them what had happened to me, and I knowed mother would whip me if I stayed there (home) and that I had to come and live with them. I thought they would split their sides laughing. They gave me something to eat that they knew I enjoyed. I told them I was afraid mother would come on the hunt of me and we would watch and if we seen her, I would go under the bed, and they must tell her that I was gone to another place about half a mile further. Sure enough, we looked and here she come and under the bed I went.
When she come, they told her I had gone to Bert Links and I thought I was all right then and they was the best friends I ever had. But soon mother come and hoisted the bedclothes, and there I was, and there was no hole for me to go under the floor. But while they was engaged, I got between her and the door and broke for home. I guess you could have played marbles on my shirttail then. I got home and got the family to promise to tell mother that I had gone to another place about a mile in a different direction. I went up in the loft which was laid with boards. Soon mother come and she never got in the house before Mamie said I was up in the loft. She hauled me down from there with her long hickory.
The first lick she would say what I done and the next say run away and I just thought she would never quit. That was not the worst of it all. The balance of the children for the next two years would get mean (tease) at me.
About the time I was ten years old, my father moved into N. C. in Person County. In moving there, we passed the man's house, the owner of the place we moved on. I had the greatest curiosity in going to the house and going in and looking at all the fixtures about it. My father sent John and Jim to borrow an augur, and I wanted to go with them (to this man's house) but he would not let me. I slipped off and thought I would follow them and went about half way and got uneasy for fear I would take the wrong road and went back. When I got in sight of the place, there was father cutting a switch. He told me exactly what I had attempted to do and he give me such a licking that I never would never own it (admit it) to him.
My father died in five or six years after we moved there. Nothing was left and we had to be scattered. I went to live with one of my cousins and lived with him until the next summer. When I left, and was not able to get home, I went to Uncle Johnny Whitlow's. He and my aunt was as kind and good to me as I could have asked them to be, and I remained there until I was able to go to my mother's.
While there she hired me to a wealthy family by the name of Lawson.
While there I got into a racket with one of the bulldogs. I picked up two rocks, one as much as I could handle. It would have weighed about 10 pounds. I was afraid to run. I stood there and hollered until the dog got up in about 6 feet of me. I then pulled away at him, and down I brought him. Then there was a plenty of laughing (unclear) and Blacks could hear when the dog began to bawl.
The next trouble I got into was after my mother's death. I hired to a man by the name of (?), a very clever man. The first day I went to mill for him, and then plowed from dinner until night. The next morning I went and got a horse out of the stable. I put the gear on him and I was always afraid of a horse. I hitched him to the plow with a single line and went to the plow handles but he refused to go. I went to the woods and cut some 3 or 4 hickories to make him go. I whipped him and about wore out the hickories and only had about one quarter of an acre tramped and gouged with the plow. About 10 O'clock the man discovered that I had taken a young horse that had never had gear on before. When he got in about two or three hundred yards of me, he commenced yelling that I had a colt. But I thought he was mad because I had done (plowed) nothing and I thought he was right. When he told me the horse had never had gear on before I was scared bad enough to run. But he took hold of the bridle and led the horse and told me to just let the plow drag on the ground, then let him go by degrees. By 12 O'clock we had him broke to the plow and single line and the man paid me for my day's work.
William Henderson Buntin
6th day of January, 1900
Copyright © 2000 by Carolyn Buntin Eveland
Nancy Trice, © 2000