Photo from this time period
Brothers: Gene, Charles, Jack, Odell
( another story of ( Charles) my husband's memories of growing up in Alabama...in his own words.)
Mud Bottom Farm Story-1942
‘Being Rented Out!’
There were two ways of renting a farm in those days.
One way was Sharecropping:
The owner of the farm would furnish everything it took to make the crop, including the farm implements, seeds and fertilizers. The Sharecropper family would furnish all the labor, in planting and harvesting the crops; and of course the sharecroppers were furnished the farm home to live in. The total harvest proceeds would be split in half, between the sharecropper family and the landowner.
The second way was Straight Renters:
Renters of farms would furnish everything, themselves, in putting in and harvesting the crops. At harvest time the renters would keep 2/3 of proceeds from the harvest and the landowner would get 1/3; this being the rent for the home and farmland.
It was common in those days, if a landowner had the opportunity to rent his farm out to a more productive family, he would not hesitate to do just that; since it would mean more money in his pocket at the end of harvest.
A family by the name of Teeples lived on and worked one of the farms in The Bottom. Mr. and Mrs.Teeple had a family of two teenage boys and one teenage girl and two little girls to work the land.
Alas, the family was struck with tragedy as the head of the household, Mr. Teeples, died. This left the mother and children to try and make it on their own - a tall order for a woman and children.
The family knew they were now on the ‘Hit List’ of a Mr. Maples, the overseer of the Mud Bottom properties. As was expected, in a short time, Mr. Maples had the opportunity to rent their portion of the land to another family by the name of Carter, so he ‘rented them out!’ (as this was called in those days)
Mrs.Teeples did not take kindly to being ’rented out’ of her home. On the farm there was an excellent orchard of apple, pear and peach trees. Mrs. Teeples had enjoyed the farm and especially the orchard for several years.
In her fury of being turned out of her home, Mrs. Teeples decided to exact some revenge! So…she dug trenches around every fruit tree in the orchard, and filled it with salt from the meat-curing box, covering over with soil. In time, the trees went from green, to yellow, to brown - to DEAD!
The exact cause of the death of the fruit trees was not discovered until she had moved out. Digging around the trees exposed the salt residue, so all was explained; at least, the How, if not totally, the Why!
The Teeples family moved to another farm, not far from this property. This farmhouse was near the elementary school, which we all attended.
In time, the depth of Mrs. Teeples' desperation in the turn of her life would become known to all in the community. She joined what was known at that time as the 'Lonely Heart’s Club’ and advertised in that publication that she was looking for a husband.
One day, one of the Teeples children announced at school that a man was coming for them from Missouri. The very next day we watched from the school as a big covered truck came and the Teeples family all loaded up and drove away. Apparently, Mrs.Teeple’s advertising had paid off!
We never saw or heard from the Teeples family again.
After living in Mud Bottom, and farming the land for over 11 years, and after four of my older brothers and sisters were grown and moved out, our family suffered the same indignity.
We, too, were ‘Rented Out!’
Labels: Farm Life of the Past