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Ruth Pruiett - Memories

Part 1
Free-Soil Farm
Free-Soil Farm - 1926/1927, l-r: Milton Parker, Silas Treece, Dit Parker, Jim Presnell, Carrie Parker, Stella Parker, Bryan Parker

I was born in a small town in Tennessee on a farm that was known as the Free-Soil Farm, which was leased by my Grandfather, Barnett (Barney) Parker and farmed by his whole family of four sons and three daughters. Grandpa and Grandma, Louisa Jane Wagner Parker, lived in the main house and my Dad and Mother and the Uncles and Aunts lived in other smaller houses on the property. We were truly one big happy family. My brothers and I played with our cousins all the time. We grew up knowing our Aunts and Uncles very well, loving them and feeling very close to them.

Milton Parker
Milton Parker around age 20

My Father, Milton Kasper Parker, had left the farm when he was nineteen to go to work in the mines in Williamsburg, Kentucky, where he lived with Grant Seals and his family. There he met my Mother, Margaret Jane Seals, when she and her Mother, Laney Jane Lawson Seals, came to visit them. Grant Seals was my Mother's oldest brother.

Margaret Seals
Margaret Jane Seals

My Mother and Dad were married in Tazewell, Tennessee, and at that time, moved back to the Free-Soil Farm. My Mother went back to Tazewell, Tennessee, to be with her Mother when her first child, my brother Warren G. Parker, was born. Later, Charles Hubert and I were born on the farm.

My Mother, being well educated for those days, became my Grandfather's bookkeeper for the farm. Our farm was a rather large and, apparently, profitable operation. We raised horses, cows, pigs, chickens, geese and ducks. We grew all the vegetables, fruits and grains that the family required. Actually, we had very sophisticated equipment for the times (all, of course, operated by horsepower or manpower). These consisted of balers, threshers, choppers, and harrowing discs for the farm work, and peelers, slicers, and choppers for the kitchen and canning purposes. Grains (corn, oats, and rye) were taken to a nearby mill for grinding into flour and meal. The men, including my Dad, rode horses and also worked with horses and mules on the farm.

I remember well meeting my Father as he rode a horse home from work and being picked up by him and placed in front of him on the horse. He would lead the horse to water and I would be so frightened when the horse's head and neck went way down to drink water. Dad would let me slip a little and I would scream and Dad would lift me up and comfort me. I may have been frightened a bit, but I was always there to meet him to try again the next time.

Aunt Stella and Charles
Aunt Stella and Charles around 1926

My Mother died when I was two years old. Warren was almost five and Charles was only ten months old. I have no memory of my Mother at all and Warren has only a few sketchy memories of her. My Dad moved us into the big house with Grandma, Grandpa and his two, unmarried sisters, Stella Dean Parker and Carralee Parker, after our Mother died. Charles started calling Aunt Carrie Mama when he began to talk. When Aunt Carrie left home to go to Michigan, Charles started calling Aunt Stella Mama. When my Dad remarried, the family refused to let him take Charles. They said he would break his Mother's heart if he took him away. So, Dad said he would allow him to stay as long as Grandma lived. When my Grandma died in 1936 (Charles was eleven years old), Dad said, "Now I'm taking Charles home where he belongs." You would have thought he had declared war on the family. All the Uncles and Aunts said, "You can't take that child away from Stella. She has raised him and you just can't do that." So my Dad reluctantly gave in to the pressure and never again tried to bring him home to be with us, but we always knew that he was our baby brother.

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