Interview with Hersie Shook Wilson born February 18, 1918
2007 Original dates: Audio–August 26, 2007
Interviewers: (Terry) Lynne Marshall, Ina Allison P. Kozesky, Bruce Sims, Howard and Alice H. Cunningham with the Towns County Historical Society, Hiawassee, GA
Hersie Marie Shook was born 18 Feb 1918 in Towns County, GA. She died 15 March 2010 in Union County, GA. (age 92)
She married Thomas Clyde (or Clyde T.) Wilson, Sr. (1 Aug 1897 – 27 Mar 1977)
They are buried in Macedonia Cemetery, Hiawassee, GA
Children: Clyde Thomas Wilson, Jr. (1938-1992) and James Lamar Wilson (1943-2009)
Hersie was the daughter of William Albert Shook (14 Jan 1886 – 22 Feb 1984)
and Cordie Ann Maney (21 Oct 1894 – 28 Dec 1990) They are buried in Boyd Chapel Cemetery, Hiawassee, GA
Interpretation and analysis,
summary of recording information:
Hersie is the second daughter to Albert Shook and the third child born in the family. Dr. Johnson delivered her, he came to their house on a mule, after her Daddy saddled up his mule and took another mule already saddled up nine miles to get the doctor. One of her first memories is her younger sister being born. She didn’t know they were expecting a baby and can remember being woke up late at night and taken to her grandparents’ house to spend the rest of the night and crying because she didn’t want to stay. Then being taken home the next day to see the new baby, she said she told her parents “I didn’t want a baby, there’s not enough for us now.” It took her just a little while to accept the new baby. The doctor charged $5 for his services for the first five babies, after the fifth one the doctor told her daddy he would charge $10 if there was another child.
Hersie Shook Wilson was born and raised near the Pleasant Hill Church which was later used as a school also, in the Upper Hightower section of Towns County. The community located between two ridges was called Titus, Georgia. In this community was one small store/Post Office owned by Homer Berrong. Mr. Berrong built shelves which were used for mail on one side of the building, while the other side was used as a store, selling things such as salt, soda, sulfur, sugar, kerosene, P & G Soap, tobacco, etc. Underneath the counter sacks containing 100 lbs. of sugar and dry beans were stored, a family who had extra money ordered two bags of sugar and two bags of dried beans a year. There was one Doctor in town, Dr. Rice. While Hersie’s daddy went to the mills Dr. Rice had him leave Hersie and her sister with his mother. Hersie can remember her sister telling Mrs. Rice that her family canned about 1500 jars of food a year. While Hersie says she’s sure it wasn’t that many, she does believe it was several hundred jars, because they had to put up enough vegetables and meats to last the family for about six months. (Ina Allison Kozesky, who was there for the interview, said she could remember her family canned a minimum of 110 quarts of sour kraut each year, along with all the other vegetables and chicken, and meats.) Hersie said that her family had a well house where they kept pickled beans and kraut in churns, and while in there they never froze and her family ate them all year long.
During this time most families in this community only traveled into town about two times per year. They traveled by wagon, and when the weather was cold they used hot rocks wrapped in cloth to keep their feet was. Hersie’s family traded at Mr. Duckworth’s store. In the store were wash pans, buckets, two or three different colors of cloth, shoes, he kept hardware that people had to use back in those days. Hersie can remember her family buying cloth there to make clothes for the family, along with all the other things her family needed there. Across the street was used clothing and shoe store, it was owned by
Jule Twiggs. Families didn’t have much money and they had to make it go as far as they could, so lots of families traded there for clothes and shoes. These stores were located in Hiawassee. Duckworth’s store was where Anderson’s Clothing store is today at the corner of Main and Bell Streets. Directly across the street from it, where the log building is today, was Jule Twiggs’ store. There was one other store in town, Gibson’s, Hersie remembers the woman who ran the store, her name was Estee Gibson. Mrs. Gibson made trips to Gainesville, and if you wanted anything special, like a hat, you could tell her and she’d get it while she was there. Gibson’s store was located on the corner where Allen’s own now. There was also one café in town, it was owned by Fred Franks, although Hersie said she never ate there because her family couldn’t afford to eat out. She remembers Mrs. Franks telling her that the ones who did eat there were the ones who couldn’t cook, one family in particular ate there all the time and the Franks kept a cake of corn bread and pot of soup beans on for them. Mrs. Franks told her they made a pretty good living cooking for that family, other than that hardly anyone else ate there.
Hersie remembers before there was any electricity. She said that families had an oil lamp for light, or if they were very lucky they may have two oil lamps. At night they would light a lamp and light a fire, then sit the lamp between her and her sister, Irma, so they could do their best to get their school lessons done. Her older brother and her mother taught her at home up until she started the 2nd grade because she was needed at home until then to take care of her baby sister. When she started school it was at Pleasant Hill, where one teacher taught the 37 children of all grades who were there. She can remember being very excited when she got to help the teacher recite lessons because he didn’t have enough time to do them all. The first teacher she remembers having was Richard Eller, she can remember him keeping a with in his hand, and if the children started falling asleep he’d go across the row giving them a lick across the back.
Hersie said she didn’t get to go to high school because she had to stay home to take care of a younger sister who was crippled and had seizures. There was also another baby, and her momma couldn’t tend to both of them and do all her other work, someone had to be with the crippled sister at all times. There were five children in the family in all, out of the five one of them went to high school, and got called into the service. After the service he was determined to get a college education so he went onto college. Hersie said that the first chance she got she took the GED test and got her high school diploma.
Hersie’s mother was 96 when she passed away and her daddy was 98 when he passed. Her daddy was in a home for about 8 months before he passed away, he didn’t like to eat in the dining room with the other patients, she said he would look at the others and cry because of the physical shape they were all in. So, they put a small table in his room, and before each meal he’d use his canes to go to the sink and wash his face and his hands.
Hersie said her family was always raised a strong Christian family, and there were no excuses acceptable for staying out of church. They had family prayer every night, and her father taught her family to live by God’s word and obey the law. When it was time to go to church the entire family went to Mt. Pleasant Church of God, and Upper Hightower, as well as other churches in the community, walking everywhere they went. She can remember walking from morning until 4pm then taking a bath and walking eight miles one way to Shooting Creek to church and then back home again, along with a big group of others who lived in Upper Hightower. Once they got to the top of the mountain they would all stop to have prayer together before going on to church. She said she never remembers feeling tired in the mornings, they would go to bed and rest and be ready to go to the fields in the morning when the sun was coming up.
Speaking of her family, Hersie remembers her Grandma and Grandpa Shook living in an old two room log house. She really doesn’t remember her grandma well, but remembers her grandpa being a big man who never spoke bad about people. She remembers him saying if you can’t say something good about someone don’t say anything at all. In their house, they cook and ate in one room and slept in the other room, there were beds around everywhere. The walls of the house were dobbed with mud, and on the inside they were covered with what looked to be layers of old newspapers. Later they put tar paper up. She can remember being small and at the house with a young couple who were courting. Her mother told her to stay away from young people when they were courting because they didn’t need to be bothered, but naturally she wanted to see what courting was. So she watched and listened to them, and they would talk and laugh. The young man had rattles off a rattle snake he’d killed which he had strung on some type of string, he would tease the young lady by taking it out of his pocket and shaking it, the young lady would scream and run away. Hersie told her mother if that was courting she wasn’t ever going to court.
Hersie recalls her daddy telling her about his daddy owning hogs and cattle. He said his mother getting up first in the mornings to light coals in the fire, then put her bread and meat on top of them to start cooking. She then got one of the children up to mind that while she took Hersie’s daddy up to the barn to start work, if it was sheep shearing time they sheared the sheep before coming back to have breakfast. Her daddy remembered having a good cold spring where they could sink a churn deep enough to have cold milk and keep fresh meat all summer long.
She can remember her great-grandparents Lizie Eller and Bert Eller. She was a tall, slim woman who used tobacco. No one else in Hersie’s family used tobacco so she can remember smelling tobacco when she hugged her. Bert would tell stories, sometimes making them up as he told them. One in particular story was about a man named Potter who lived in the settlement. His son-in-law killed his calf, and claimed a panther killed it. So he made up a song about it, he’d sing “Panter, where you been so long, so long? Been a mile and a half and I eat Potter’s calf.” People would go to their house on Sunday afternoons as many as 27 at a time would be there to hear her grandpa tell stories.
Hersie tried snuff once when she was in school, and thought her daddy would give her a whipping for it. But, instead he told her he’d like to have a little of that every now and then but he couldn’t afford it, so if she was going to use it she’s have to go do wash for Mrs. Berrong. She said she wasn’t about to do washing for snuff so she never used it again.
Her parents were Milton and Zoey Maney, they had 16 children. They lived in a nice, clean house. Even with all the children, Hersie never remembers seeing a dirty child, or the table when it wasn’t full of food. Her grandpa had a big spring house and on one side of it was 55 gallon barrels of pickled corn and beans, along with bleached fruits. When the small children would go into the spring house they’d reach into the fruit barrels and get handfuls, they had to sneak because her grandmother didn’t allow them to do that because she didn’t want them putting their hands into the fruit. On the other side were stacks of meat. Her grandfather always kept hogs to raise to provide enough meat for his family to have year around. Along another wall was a table approximately 20 feet long above the table hung strung peppers. The family would save the grease from cooking the breakfast meats and at dinner they’d take peppers and dip into the grease to have with their meal. They usually had red-eyed gravy at the meals too.
Biscuits (Rye bread) were something special in this time, most families didn’t have them. Hersie recalls one man who would go outside as children on Hightower were walking to school, calling his dog “Rover, come get your hot biscuits and sausage.” The children would be walking barefooted in the rain, and they didn’t have that for breakfast so they didn’t like this man.
Cracklin’ bread and spice wood tea were two things the family had whenever they wanted it since they raised hogs they always had plenty of cracklins. She can recall her Daddy liking Ashpawn bread. This bread was made by raking the ashes back after the rock in the bottom of the chimney got hot then you made your pawn of bread stiff and you spread it on the rock, and covered it with a bunch of clothes that were wet. When it was done, it was cracked up and ugly, she never did taste of it. Her family made hominy by the wash pot full and packed it into churns.
When canning beans, they packed the cans they were using full, after they had raked up chips from the wood pile and put two big logs there that would last all summer. They would take the cans and pack wash buckets full of them and put old rags between them to keep them from beating together. Then they’d take an old quilt or whatever they wanted to use and cover them and somebody would stand and watch them until they were finished cooking. For other things like blackberries, and fruit they were cooked in a pot and put in a can hot enough to keep. The cans were dipped in hot water and got hot enough to seal. There was no way to keep canned corn back then. Most families made a lot of grape juice because Fox Grapes grew all along the creek so you could get all them you wanted.
Straw ticks were used to sleep on. A thrasher would come from the lower end of the county once a year, and for a quarter people would be a tick full of straw. It took several people to operate the thrasher, but they always had enough there. Her mother would cook dinner for the workers and they’d put straw in the barn loft. Not many people had wagons so the thrashers would haul ticks full of straw to the other people in the community on their wagon.
When people in the community needed their land turned, Hersie’s daddy would use his team of mules and turn it for them. For this work he got paid 10 cents an hour for the mule and 10 cents an hour for himself, working long days he would total about $3 per day which was a very good day’s pay.
Hersie’s first job was pulling cabbage, after a man from Florida came to Richard Eller and talked him into growing cabbage to ship back to Florida. She was paid 10 cents an hour for working the rain all day long pulling cabbage and at the end of the day she had 80 cents. She remembers one of the men who came after the cabbage fell in love with a girl from Hightower who was there pulling cabbage. They married and had a happy life thereafter.
When Hersie got married she was 17, and her husband was 37. He was a hard worker, working for the state for 29 years. They had two sons, the oldest lived only to be 52, and her younger son is now 64. These were the only grandchildren born into her husband’s family.
Electricity finally came to this area around 1936, about one year before Hersie got married. After electricity came to Towns County, the dam and the lake were built. At this time Hersie was living in the Macedonia community. She said the lake took what little good level land they had and put them in the briar patch. So, they were not at all happy with the TVA building the lake. Her husband, however, told her to be nice and not give them any problems which was what they did, and they never had any problems. Hersie and her husband bought a canner for canning their foods in. She enjoyed canning.
Home remedies were used such as catnip tea for all babies. Different remedies were used for sickness and to keep from getting sick. When children got wormy mothers would take something called Jiruzemoak and beat the seeds out with a hammer, then fry the seeds in a little syrup and make them into little pills to give the children, you talk about working they really worked, Hersie said. By the time her children were small she could buy it in a bottle, she remembers having to hold her child down to give it to him. Mustard seed was real good for your chest when you were sick. Pepper tea was used for cattle when they were sick. If you got the itch sulfur and grease was used, if they knew at school a child had the itch they had to carry a bag of sulfur around their neck to school. Something called Save-the-Baby was used for sick babies. She also remembers making lye soap up until after she was married, the fat was used from their meat to make it. She said she ruined all her churns with it and then wished she’d never seen lye soap.
When her grandpa Maney’s children married he gave each of them six quilts, a feather bed, two pillows, a dresser and a milk cow. His boys who stayed with him got a mule, when one of them married he had managed to save $700 in the bank. Her grandpa had enough land to give each of the sons who stayed with him land for farm.
Hersie can remember the Bank of Hiawassee being around as long as she can remember. One of her aunts, Emma, married at 13 years old and began working there after her first child was born.
As to the way Towns County has changed today, Mrs. Hersie says it is good for the people who are making money, but she’s not making money. She lives off a widows benefit and money is very tight, she is 88 years old.
RESEARCH TOPICS (check spellings)
Local people referenced in interview:
Hersie Shook Wilson
Albert Shook (father died at age 98)
Cordie Ann Maney (mother died at age 96)
Irma Shook (sister)
Lizie Eller and Bert Eller, great-grandparents
Milton and Zoey Maney, grandparents
Fred Franks and his wife
Richard Eller, teacher
Old Man Potter and his son-in-law
Aunt Emma Eller Denton at the Bank of Hiawassee
Pleasant Hill Church of God and School
Mr. Berrong’s Store and Post Office near Titus
Duckworth’s Store, Hiawassee (Anderson’s on the square in 2007)
Jule Twiggs’ Clothing Store (dry-goods), Hiawassee
Gibson’s Store, Hiawassee (where Allen’s lot is off the square in 2007)
Frank’s Restaurant, Hiawassee
Shooting Creek Church
Others: cracklin’ bread, spice wood tea, ash-pone bread, hominy, fox grapes, thrasher machine, straw tick bed, catnip tea for babies, Jiruzemoak, pepper tea for sick cows, Save-the-Baby, lye soap
Documents saved August 26, 2007.
Hersie Shook Wilson: I remember ra-aah coming to town . . .0:03-seconds-
T. Lynne Marshall: Wait a minute let’s say your name first.
Hersie: I’m Hersie Wilson, Albert Shook’s second daughter.0:11
Hersie: And aah I remember coming to town first with aah my daddy in a wagon and that was the only time we got to come to town was when he went to the rolling mills. Well Dr. Rice was the only doctor they was in town and he would tell my daddy to take me and my oldest sister to his house and his mother would keep us until you know until he got through. So it took him all day and is this (ok) and it took him all day and we went back. And there’s five in (the) family so we decided well what would he get. So he had to get something that a little bit of money could buy. (Laugh) And he’d get us a loaf of bread. And we’d just (dus) run for that loaf of bread just like it was the best thing in the world; ever one wanted to get the end piece. (Laugh) 1:21
Lynne: Oh my goodness.
Hersie: And my sister would go in the kitchen she had to stand in a chair but she’d go in the kitchen to help Mrs. Rice. She’d help her with the dishes and aah Mrs. Rice I heard her ask my sister, said. She’s talkin’ about canning and helping momma can you know, and aah she said, “How many cans do you’us fill?” She said, “About 15 hundred.” (Laugh) 1:50
Lynne: Oh my goodness.
Hersie: She was that small you know to her it seemed like an awful lot. (Laugh) It might have been 200. (Laugh)
2:00 Lynne: Two hundred is more like it, yeuwh.
Ina Allison Kozesky: (barely audible) Oh no back then they did fill a lot of cans. Oh my mother and daddy always got one hundred ten quarts of nothing but kraut (sauerkraut).
Hersie: Oh my.
Lynne: One hundred ten quarts of kraut.
Ina: Besides everything else you did.
Lynne: Well see that’s what we do, we start talkin’ then everybody kind’a joins in, but we have to put the microphone over to your mouth when you start.
Ina: I was jumping in.
2:27 Lynne: No no that’s part of the conversation. That’s see we’ve got to learn how to do this anyway.
Ina: Oh ok. No see it may have been 15 hundred cans. Cause I know my parents would (moving microphone) can at least 110 quarts of aaa kraut. Because they loved kraut then course there’s all the other vegetables. And meat, you had to can all the meat too, your chickens. Ah the, we always canned the tenderloin, or whatever we could of the pork that you didn’t salt down you know. And so time you add all these vegetables and all that together for big families you probably did do . . .
Lynne: Thousand? Thousand -five hundred?
Ina: Several hundred, several hundred anyway because you’d have to have enough to do you for six, about six months. Yeauh.
3:18 Hersie: We had the kraut and pickled beans, (moving microphone) we had the kraut and pickled beans in churns. And what we call the well house, and they’d stay out there in a trough and they didn’t freeze, enough for what we used ‘em all winter long.
Ina: That’s great.
3:40 Lynne: Bruce have a seat. We’ve got Ina hooked up over here.
Bruce Sims: You gona . . .You want me to ask the questions?
Lynne: Well sure. That’d be fine.
Bruce: She probably couldn’t hear me I’m so horse.
Lynne: Ahh we’ve got it on so this is Bruce Sims. He’s gon’a sit down and talk to Hersie, Hearshey?
Hersie: Hersie Wilson.
Bruce: It will catch both of us.
Lynne: No it won’t, you have to like direct it. Ok I’ll fix it. All right.
Bruce: (breathing hard) Go ahead.
Lynne: Ok you were talking about canning. Now tell us about aah Hiawassee. What do you remember?
4:27 Hersie: Well, that was our first trips and aah as I grew up we came twice a year in a wagon. Now if it was cold weather we had to have a hot rock–
Hersie: To put our feet too. Because we’d, little girls a’ll get cold in that wagon in ridin’ to town. And we’d trade at Duckworth’s. And he had, I believe he kept like wash pans and buckets and two or three different colors of cloth and shoes. Well he just about kept the hardware that the people had to use back in those days.
5:18 Lynne: And so you would buy shoes and cloth for . . .
Hersie: We’d buy shoes and cloth to make clothes for the family. And ah, then I can remember shoes. They had a used clothing store across the street, he was Jewel Twiggs. Ye might have heard of Earn Twiggs and they were his boys and he kept in his store used shoes so you went over there and you bought some used shoes People didn’t have much money so you had to make it go a long ways.
Lynne: Now where was that, across from Duckworth’s?
6:00 Hersie: Across from . . .
Exact–verbatim transcription of words ended here at 6 minutes. (Verbatim is a better way to document recordings-less chance of misinterpretation.)
Find –A- Grave info
Hersie Marie Shook Wilson
BIRTH 18 Feb 1918
Hiawassee, Towns County, Georgia, USA
DEATH 15 Mar 2010 (aged 92)
Union County, Georgia, USA
Towns County, Hiawassee, Georgia, USA
Hersie Marie Wilson, age 92 of Hiawassee, GA, died Monday, March 15, 2010 at Union County Nursing Home.
Hersie was born February 18, 1918 in Hiawassee, GA to the late Albert and Cordie Maney Shook. She was a member of Mt. Pleasant Church of God, Hiawassee and was preceded in death by husband, Thomas Clyde Wilson, sons, Clyde Wilson, Jr. and James Lamar Wilson, sisters, Irma Dicy Shook Eller and Irene Shook Dover, brother, Zon Cartis Shook.
Surviving are her daughter-in-law, Bobbie Wilson of Blairsville, GA, grandson, Dwayne Wilson of Snellville, GA granddaughter and husband, Diane & Brent Arthur of McDonough, GA, granddaughter, Angela Wilson of Blairsville, GA, great granddaughter, Kayla Marie Lloyd, great grandsons, Dillon Wilson Arthur and Brandon James Lloyd, brother, Floyd Shook of Gainesville, GA and several nieces and nephews.
Services will be held at 2 P.M. Friday, March 19, 2010 at Cochran Funeral Home Chapel, Hiawassee with Rev. Glen Eller officiating. Music will be provided by Glen and Shelia Eller. Serving as pallbearers are: Steve Hill, John Hill, Mike Hill, Brent Arthur, Don Shook and Mike Hammond. Honorary pallbearer will be Robert Jordan. Interment will follow in Macedonia Baptist Church Cemetery.