My mother’s 100th birthday will be this November (Martha Evelyn Mount Applegate, born November 28, 1916, in Morrow, Ohio and passed away on July 31, 1991). When she was 72 in 1989, she made a taped recording of family stories for both sides of the family. In her honor, and still incredulous that she sat and dictated all of this into a tape recorder by herself, I’m going to post what she wrote along with pictures whenever possible. She had a rather rambling, random method and said whatever came to her mind at that moment, punctuated by hearty laughing. I’ll post the stories in the order she told them and will only edit the posts to keep out anything that might be offensive or embarrassing to other members of the family.
8/89 – Family Stories Tape by Martha Applegate
Transcribed 5/19/01 by Lillian – notes in parenthesis by Lillian
In this installment, Mother tells about John B’s mother, Emily, his father, Joseph Martin, and some stories from the 1800s.
When Granny (Emily Jane Reddick) and Grandpa Applegate (Joseph Martin) were married, her father (Martin Reddick) had give her a piece of land up above Marathon, up there in Brown County – the old home place is still standing there, no one lives in it now, but the old log cabin’s there – they put stucco over it and fixed it over and there’s always been an Applegate living there. But he took her up there when they were married and built a log cabin and he was a very good man, never no harm was ever said of him. Aunt Anne (sister of John B) used to say he would be out in the fields plowing and the girls would go to him and say, “There’s a dance tonight, we want to go to the dance” and he’d stop right in the middle of the field and he’d go on in and take them to a dance. He’d just do anything for them and every morning when they’d get up all their shoes would be sitting in the front of the fireplace, they’d all be shined and slick – he was just real good-hearted.
But Granny – she was something else. She’d want to go down and see Uncle Jim (her son) – he lived down in Marathon – and they’d hook up the spring wagon and every place she went she had to take her feather bed. Well, they’d put the feather bed in there and take Granny down to Uncle Jim’s and she’d no more than get down there – she wouldn’t stay – she’d want them to bring her back and they’d have to load the feather bed up and bring her back.
In those days they made their own stockings and hats and gloves and everything and every night they’d sit and knit and they had a “spinning lady” they’d call her who would go around from farm to farm – they had their own wool but this spinning lady would go around and do the spinning into yarn for them and they had a spinning wheel. That spinning wheel is underneath those steps and boarded up in the house and as far as I know it’s there to this day.
It was wild up there in that country in those days. They said they shot an Indian out of a tree up in front of the house – there was still Indians up there yet when they first moved there and they said that Sherman went through with his troops (maybe Morgan?) and they had to hide their horses and hide things out in the field so he couldn’t get them. They had lived there that long.
Uncle Court (Courtis Applegate, brother of John B) I guess was about the oldest one in the family but he always lived in the house and he raised his children there and they raised their children there and I think there’s some of them living there yet. Uncle Court and Aunt Bird – they never spoke for years – I don’t know how they had so many children ‘cause they hadn’t spoken to each other for years. Uncle Court would eat dinner and go out and sit on the porch, lean his chair back and he had a pet chicken that would sit on his shoulder and that’s how they found him dead – he died and never even disturbed that chicken.
Uncle Court was very hard of hearing and they always called him “Dickie” and we always thought his name was Richard and we were going to name Shirley (my younger sister) after him but evidently that wasn’t his name, they just nicknamed him that.
In the Applegate family there’s an awful lot of hard of hearing. Bill (Applegate – Jim Applegate’s son) had a hard of hearing boy and almost every family had a hard of hearing child so it runs in the family. Of course, John (B) was very hard of hearing but he could hear very well if he was on the telephone or if he was in a car. Riding with John in a car – he could hear alright but him with his chewing tobacco, he would spit out the window. He always wanted to sit in the front seat and I’d sit in the back and he’d always want to sit on that side because I was lighter to try to divide up the weight because of the bad tires and he’d spit out the window and it’d fly back and hit me and, aw, I’d get so mad at him. One day I had a brand-new dress on with a big white collar – we were going to the fair – he spit out that window and speckled my white collar – him and his chewing tobacco! But he chewed tobacco when he was only four years old – he nursed up until he was four years old. He’d be out playing and he’d call Granny from behind the door to come in so he could nurse, then he’d put chewing tobacco in his mouth and go on out and play.
In the next installment, we’ll hear stories about the colorful Applegate brothers back in the mid-1800s.