Originally posted on December 24, 2018

My Dad wrote his memoir during the last several years of his life.

The stories and characters and places with rare exception come from his childhood. Mostly characters from Hamburg, Arkansas. But it does explain a lot about why he became the man he was. Yin and yang. If you are interested in that, here’s a gift.

I have this to share because I made a copy of Dad’s iMac hard drive. He wrote it to be found and shared, I have no doubt. I found Dad’s working copy during a digital spring cleaning, easy enough. So here it is, with minor editorial. These are his words in his voice.

His name was Harold Allen Brown. Born in 1946 to Dallas Brown and Ozell Walker Brown. Enjoy his stories. Enjoy his story.

Owen W Brown

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This is my story. These are my memories. Memories. We all have them. The trick is to find the key that unlocks what we have stored in our memory bank. I am trying to remember, not to forget.

Harold A Brown

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“Would you do it again?” I asked Mother. “No.” was her solemn reply. “No.” I’d thought when I asked the question about her marriage she would affirm my importance. She did not. Her thoughts were on the hardships she’d endured over the many years following my father Dallas’ death. How could you blame her for such an honest answer. She did the best she could under the circumstances.

There was a time before I was born when Mother rocked my brother Garvis and sister Miriam to sleep hours before their bedtime because there wasn’t enough food in the house to feed them. How painful would it be to listen to your small children cry because you could not feed them?

Throughout my life with mother, I never remember her throwing out food. Now I understand why. Some answers can’t be reached until we understand the problem. I still practice her methods. I turn off lights, adjust the temperature in the house, save food for later consumption, and save money for a rainey day.

I have seen many with far more advantages do much less.

If Mother ever felt sorry for herself and the situation she was in, it was only shown to me through that one statement, “No”.

Her courage didn’t indicate that she had no fear. Her courage was shown through the action she took in the face of fear.

We can only hope that we have done the things that will bring honor to those that have sacrificed for our survival. I love you Mother and pray that I have not let you down.

This is my story. It may differ with the memories of others. That’s okay. This is still my story. My hope is it should cause others to return to their past.

How much you care is more important than how much you know.

Looking for the best in someone else often brings out the best in you.

1632 Jasper County History

Jasper County history is recorded as far back as 1632, when traders listed the Seven Islands Crossing on the Ocmulgee River as the place they first traded with the Creek Indians. After the Indians, the first settler was a deer hunter named Newby, who lived in a cabin near the present community of Hillsboro, as early as 1790.

In 1790, George Washington met in upstate New York with the Indian tribes east of the Mississippi.

Jasper County was split out of Baldwin County by an act of the Legislature in 1807 and originally named Randolph by the General Assembly. Monticello was laid out and made the county seat in December, 1808. Monticello was named after President Thomas Jefferson’s estate in Virginia. In December, 1812, the name of the county was changed to Jasper. This was to honor Sergeant William Jasper, a Revolutionary War hero who risked his life to save his country’s flag from the British. He was killed in the attempt during the seige of Savannah.

John G. Walker married Elizabeth A. Chapman in Jasper County, Georgia, on December 7, 1817. On January 28, 1819, John G. Walker had purchased 163 acres in Dallas County, Alabama, at Section 5, Township 15, Range 9. He paid $326.15 for the purchase.

This property was located near the community of Whites’ Bluff near the Alabama River. On November 29, 1821, he purchased land in Autauga County, Alabama. He settled there and started raising a family. This property located in the Milton Community is still in the Walker family. (Raymond Walker’s farm.)

Dallas County was created by the Alabama Territorial legislature on February 9, 1818 from Montgomery County, a portion of the Creek cession of August 9, 1814. It was named for U.S. Treasury Secretary Alexander J. Dallas of Pennsylvania. The County is located in the Black Belt region of the west-central portion of Alabama and is traversed by the Alabama River and bordered by Perry, Chilton, Autauga, Lowndes, Wilcox, and Marengo counties.

Originally, the county seat was at Cahaba, which also served as the state capital for a brief period. In 1865, the county seat was transferred to Selma. Other towns and communities include Marion Junction, Sardis, Orville, and Minter.

(Source: Alabama Department of Archives & History)

1820 Cornelius Walker

John G. Walker’s first son, Rufus Walker, was born in 1820.

Private Rufus Walker, Company H, hailed from Milton, Alabama. Between 1860 to May 4, 1865 he was a POW having been surrendered by Lt. General Richard Taylor to Major E.R.S. Canby. He was paroled in Selma in June 1865.

James C. Walker was the second son born about 1821, followed by Diede, Cornelius M.C. (This is my Great Grand Father), an unknown son, William A., Jasper Newton, and Martha.

Rufus married Eliza Jane Allen on February 27, 1838, and their first son, William S., was one year old. They resided on property owned by their father John G. Walker.

John moved from his home about the same time that this matter was the subject of everyone’s conversations. It can only be assumed that this was the reason for his departure and move further west. We do know, however, that John G. Walker left his land to Rufus, James C. and Diede, who all had families by then. Cornelius M.C. (My Great Grandfather) also stayed behind and settled for the time being in the same area.

In 1850, John G. Walker, 53 years old, and his wife, Elizabeth A., were residing in Lauderdale County, Mississippi. Records reflect that John G. was still solemizing marriages as a minister of the gospel. However, records of the Baptist church do not list him. (It is suspected that after the Baptist split, John G. was associated with what is now known as the Primitive Baptists.)

In John G. Walker’s household was William A., Jasper Newton and Martha.1 Although it is not yet verified, John G. Walker must have died between 1857 and 1860, probably in Lauderdale or Kemper County, Mississippi.

1797 John G Walker

It is reported that my Great Great Grandfather, John G. Walker, was birthed around 1797.

The Louisiana Purchase was made by President Thomas Jefferson in 1805 and it is believed that John G. Walker’s family was living in Greene County, Georgia about that time.

The region between the Oconee and Ocmulgce Rivers was opened for settlement after the Creek cession was made. The indian leaders of the Creek, Chickasaw, and Cherokee tribes signed a treaty in 1773 that involved about two million acres of Georgia land.

The Creek Nation was at war against the settlers and there was no peace on the Georgia frontier until the War of 1812 was finished. The indian raids were considered minor but the residents were always on alert.

The Creeks were gone by 1827. Greene County was named after Nathanael Greene. He was a General in the American Revolutionary War. George Washington could not have claimed victory for the young United States without his valued contributions.

I believe that some of the Greene family members also settled in the Nolensville, Tennessee area using their Revolutionary War land grants. John G. Walker’s family was in the middle of this fight for survival in this new settlement that would be Jasper County, Georgia.

General Sherman’s Army passed through Jasper County during the latter part of the Civil War. The Jasper Volunteers and the Glover Guards were major groups that county furnished for the Confederate States.

Elizabeth A. Chapman (could have gone by the name Mary) and John G. Walker were married in Jasper County, Georgia, December 7, 1817. He could have been 20 years old and she could have been 28. Elizabeth Chapman was born in South Carolina, 1789.

Memories, we all have them. The trick is to find the key that unlock what we have stored in our memory bank. I am trying to remember not to forget.

The exact date of my Great Grandfather’s birth is not know but it is generally accepted as 1797. The location was Georgia “the region of the Oconee” in Jasper County. His family settled in Greene County, Georgia in 1805, the same year President Thomas Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase. John G. Walker and his family would have had to have been Indian fighters to survive as pioneers in their new territory. Great Grand Paw John G. Walker could have been about 8 years old when they moved.

1857

John G.Walker’s daughter, Martha, married J.F. Blanks in 1857, in Mississippi,19 and they moved shortly thereafter to Hamburg, Arkansas, in Ashley County. John G.’s widow, Elizabeth A. resided with them in 1860. William A. and Jasper N. also came to Hamburg with their mother and sister. Jasper N., however, left the family and traveled with the David Lightsey family to Walker County, Texas. In 1860 Jasper married Martha Lightsey in Hamburg, Arkansas. Jasper’s descendants are still in Walker County, Texas.

In Autauga County, Alabama, Rufus, James C., Diede Walker Hunt, and Cornelius M.C. were all raising families and working cotton farms.

In 1850, Rufus Walker owned 21 slaves, and James C. owned 2 slaves. It is assumed by the ages of the slaves that all were of one family and probably came to Alabama from Georgia originally with father John G. Walker. (John G. owned 2 slaves in 1830.) It is interesting to note that by 1860, Rufus Walker had disposed of his slaves and no longer concentrated on cotton farming. He instead was raising hogs.

Rufus and James C. owned adjoining farms which also joined with sister Diede Hunt’s farm. Cornelius M.C. was farming 80 acres near Autagaville.

Rufus Walker sold his farm in November 1849, to Powhatton Kelly and moved further north, about the line between Chilton and Autauga Counties. The farm that Rufus sold in 1849 now joins the old Bob Walker place. (Now Raymond Walker’s farm). The large pond now known as “Kelly’s Pond” was known back then as “Walker’s Pond.”

As the Civil War approached, it was quite obvious that the Walkers of Autauga, Alabama, and Hamburg, Arkansas, and Walker County, Texas, were all States’ Rights advocates, and cast their fates and fortunes with the Confederacy.

I spent over two weeks in the hospital during last Thanksgiving 2012 with what I rated as 9 on a scale of 0-10 back pain. My blood disease was confirmed during that time.

My body was shot from what I supposed was the results of so many drugs and limited use of my body. I did not understand why I would become emotional at the drop of a hat. I thought my life was over and every visitor that came to see me only stood to confirm that thought.

I was being controlled by a depression that I had never experience and thought that only a weak person was susceptible. I know what it was now, but that doesn’t mean that it will not happen again. I will be more prepared to deal with that depression if it should give this person another visit. It has proven to make me stronger.

God is good. He is the giver of only good and perfect gifts. In all thing give thanks. I try. My two children spent a lot of time with me when I was released from the hospital. We spent time talking. Mostly I talked and they listened. I told them stories and they stroked my back and fixed me food. I believe they have a better understanding of who and what their father is about and I have a new appreciation for the adults that my children have become.

Love without questioning. Need without demanding. Want without restrictions. Accept without change. Desire without inhibitions. Love not given is a life wasted.

Some of you make me laugh and others cause my eyes to water. Both emotions inspire me. Keep talking.

I visited my regular oncologist today, Dr. Willis, and I had several questions ready for him. Before that my first nurse looked at my results and asked me, “Do you work out?” Do you know what that does to a male’s ego? I know what it did for me. We spent several minute talking about what I did and what she did. That started my day off with a bang because I really like telling people what I do when they really want to know.

Dr. Willis finished my visit with him by telling me that he had never had a patient with my disease that exercised the way I do. His closing remark was to say, “Listen to your body.” I alway have.

Some of the things my body has told me has been good news and on occasion it has been negative. My last nurse wanted to talk about Ole Miss and how well they are going to do this season in football and basketball. I didn’t have the heart to spoil her day.

My daughter called before I left the doctor’s office. I went to visit her and my grandson. I had some of the best tomato and extras soup that i have ever had. I ate four bowls and would have had more if she had used a bigger pot to fix it. The three of us walked around the golf course and I finished my visit with some vegan ice cream that she made. I was a real pig.

Mother must have spent more time than she needed punishing Garvis. He tells stories that she never denied. In fact, she often told him she was sorry when he told about one of his spankings.

Miriam tells of being spanked only once, and upon review, feels that it was deserved. Mother just wanted us to do the right thing.

She told Miriam not to let Grandpaw see her in a pair of shorts. Now, I am not talking about the shorts that exist today, but cut off pants that a country child would wear. Grandpaw was a Baptist minister and had opinions that were important to mother. At least she did not want to offend his puritan taste. Miriam, being the strong willed person that she is, appeared in grandpaw’s presence with the shorts and mother was forced to punish her.

Mother’s disciplinary tactics softened over the years. I got plenty of spankings, but each was well deserved. Did they make me better? Certainly!

The last time I was in Hamburg I asked a policeman where I could get breakfast. He told me. I took a look at the Post Office as I turned to walk toward food. The Post Office was proof that I had been in this town before.

I walked past an empty building that had once been Foot and Son’s Grocery. The five and Ten was gone as was the Ashley County Leader, the old name for the county newspaper.

Van Carpenter’s clothing store was missing and Sawyer’s Drug now sold food but it was not open for breakfast. What’s the point? Walker’s Hardware was empty. Across the street, Hester’s was growing grass instead of fixing hamburgers. Judge Ethridge was no longer practicing law and his office was gone.

The Baptist Church had been replaced with, well, it hadn’t been replaced, it had been upgraded. In its place was an education space. Across the street Mr. and Mrs. Serrett’s house was gone. She hired me to rake her yard one fall but I never finished the task. I would tell you that I was going to do it on this very day but that would not be true. Anyway I couldn’t finish it on this day because I was going to breakfast at the service station across the street from an Icon that let me know that Hamburg was still grounded in its faith. The Methodist Church played a song on the bells that made me smile. Thanks for reminding me that Hamburg is not ashamed of praising God in public.

The breakfast was good. I wondered later what their rating was. I am alive so what difference does it make. The lady that fed me took time to make gravey that didn’t have sausage in it. Try getting that service at The Mac. I decided to give them a 100 rating, so there.

As I moved back toward my ride I passed the building that housed the first job that I remember. Nap Murphy performing for the citizens of Hamburg. He sold gas and also had a tow service. I continued up the street.

I looked left and every thing across the west side of the street was different. The buildings were there but the businesses were different. The old hotel on the east side was now part of Carpenter’s but he was gone, moved to Russellville.

Harvell’s Hamburger joint did not move when the Pool Hall moved down the street. It was also gone. Maybe Hamburg no longer needs a place for kids to hang out. Mothers may not have approved of their sons being there but at least they knew where we were. Right James (Jimmy)? He was not the only one. My mother also chased me out of the hall one afternoon.

I got in my car and within four hours I was headed back to Tennessee. Like Hamburg, Nashville has also changed in the last fourty plus years. Hamburg was a great place to grow up. As they say, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Thanks for the memories and for the old friends that still make me want to call Hamburg home.