Mill Creek School Reunion
mule would take it home.
Many families supplemented their incomes by digging cone flowers, a native Missouri plant. The Randolph girls roamed the glades and limestone bluffs digging the roots. A family could gather 30 pounds a day. The 30 pounds dried down to 10 pounds, which the families sold for 10 cents a pound to a company in St. Louis. The root remains a popular herbal remedy.
Corn, cane for molasses and cow peas for the cattle grew in the fields the families cleared. It was hard work plowing the fields with mules and horses. One round took an hour, says Tom Kent. "Then we had to stop to let the horses cool off." Most people took their animals to one of the three creeks or a spring branch for watering each day because there were few ponds.
Houses were built near springs, which served as refrigerators. "I carried milk and butter across the field every night," says Raymond "Red" Norris. "It wasn't wide, but I thought it was the biggest field I'd ever seen." On the way back, he would tote a bucket of cold spring water.
Many foods were ripe for the picking. "Even though there was a depression, we had lots to eat," says Bonnie Randolph Marshall. In the summer she and her sisters filled their baskets with strawberries, huckleberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. In the fall, they searched for hazel nuts, hickory nuts and black walnuts. In the spring, they hunted for a variety of greens, and one neighbor made pickles out of poke stalks.
Hunting supplied extra meat. Few deer and turkey remained, but there were plenty of squirrels, possums and raccoons. "We caught a lot of coon," says Robert Hart, "and we ate a lot of them. My wife, Delphia, was a fine hand at cooking."
Finding food at home was sometimes easier than the ten-mile trip to the nearest town. Fremont was two hours by mule or four hours walking over the ridges and through the valleys. "We kept a chopping axe in the wagon," says Holly Randolph Harron, "so if the creek washed out the road, we could cut a new path."
It was often easier for entertainment to come to them. Harley Atkins came from Winona with his wife and children. He would pitch a tent near the Mill Creek School and show silent movies during the summer. "Some people would bring a pound of butter or