Forgotten Trails – by Lydia Grimes

Published 4:21 am Sunday, February 8, 2009

By Staff
Mule helped with travel a century ago
I thought I would share something a little different with you in this space this week.
The Rev. R.W. Brooks of the Baptist Association in Belleville, wrote the following account of traveling from Flomaton to Belleville in 1873. The Rev. Brooks' account, written in the early 1930s, relates the uncertainties of travel a hundred years ago.
The story is quite interesting.
Before bed time one of the Oliver boys came in and said our mare was sick with colic. The sick horse brought many of the neighbors and almost all of them had a remedy for sick horses. Most of the remedies were tried on the poor sick mare, but about ten o'clock she died. Whether all the medicine killed her or the colic I never knew, but one thing I did know, we were horseless!
My friend had to have something to pull his buggy back home so he went to a mule dealer in Belleville, and bought a mouse colored mule, with zebra streaked legs. He gave a draft on Epping-Bellas and Co. of Pensacola for $175.00. I thought there and still think it was too much, and before we got home with that mule I was as sure as a nickle with hole in it that was about his value.
When we left Belleville, I took the mule's halter and was leading him behind the buggy, when he planted his front feet down and stopped dead still. The rope went through my hands so fast if almost caught fire. I got out, and caught the rope, and made a half hitch around the buggy axle, as we started off again.
He went nicely for half mile when the mule did the same thing as before, lifting the men, buggy and all off the ground. The rope held this time so we did not try it anymore, as it almost jerked his head a loose. We finally got back to Oliver's, gave him his pony and hitched up; the mule. That was the most sociable mule I ever saw. When he came to a house he always went to the gate and stopped, without consulting the driver. When he would approach a dwelling on the road, Mr. Hare would begin to pull on the off line, but the mule would stick out his tongue and go right on to the house and stop. We would manage to get him away and as luck would have it in those days houses were few and far between.
After leaving Oliver's the rain stopped but when we got to Pollard, Little Escambia Creek was a raging torrent. George Bradley, whom we knew, said he would get us across the creek by putting the buggy on a “Billy”, a thing made of poles spiked together, and float it across. Mr. Bradley said he would also swim the mule across. The Gentleman was in the habit of getting drunk and at this time he was almost pass going. After he got the buggy across, he got on the mule and began kicking him in the side. Finally the mule made one long jump and landed in the middle of the creek, Mr. Bradley going down with him.
The mule rose up on his hind legs and made one more jump to reach the shore. Mr. Bradley was as sober a man as you ever saw at this time. I was young in those days and anything would start me laughing. Hare and I being safe, on the side of the creek towards home, we both just about bursted our suspenders at Bradley's predicament. When we got to Big Escambia, the Ferry boat was washed down towards Ferry Pass. We left the mule with a Mr. Knowles, the Ferry man, and walked five miles down the railroad home. I never saw that mule but once and that was enough for me.”
This is another of those articles that just jumped out of on of the old The Brewton Standard volumes. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Keep checking back here in the coming weeks. I'm excited to be able to share some of these years-old stories with the readers of this column. It's amazing to see how much is changed over the years. More amazing is how much some of us still remember about those by-gone days.
Until next time, happy hunting!

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