Skip to content

On The Mudline

Opening the Lowlands

Today, as I did last week, I want to continue with Bill Wilson’s e-mail.  It, if you can picture it in your mind, gives some hint of the life people of Water Valley lived in the teens and early twenties.  

It turns out, after talking to Mr. Wilson’s sister, Rachel, that I knew  several members of the family, in addition to knowing Wesson Brister. Today, as last week, I will, from time to time,  insert comments.

Bruce to Yocona

I quote Mr. Wilson:  I especially enjoyed your dredge boat articles.  When they dredged O’Tuckalofa Dad took us to see the operation.  I don’t know how old I was (I was born in 1915) but I sat on Mom’s lap for the trip.  We lived on the crest of the hill on the west side of Paris, (Miss.).  I had never seen even a rowboat and when I saw the floating dredge I thought I was looking at an ocean going ship  (They would have started the dredging near Bruce).

Johnson’s Creek

When they dredged the creek just east of Champion Circle (Was this Johnson’s Creek?), I was there watching from the beginning.  I learned to shoot dynamite from watching the crew dynamite stumps in front of the dredge which was a walker type.  Two huge timbers, one on each side –one would lift up and move forward then set down for the other to repeat the movement.  (These were called [named] “Walking Monigans.”  I am submitting pictures of a Monigan on another job, run by my father-in-law,  C. B.  Shipp.

A Man Finds a Job

 Mr. Shipp, born in Paris, Miss, was at about the age that he got a job on that O’Tuckalofa dredge and stayed with the line of work until the middle twenties.  In one of the pictures you  will see a man standing at the top of the main boom. That picture was made on the Hatchie River  job.

A Man Finds a Wife

The man who owned the farm the boat was digging through had five comely daughters.  In talking one day, the crew members were joshing with the man about his pretty girls.  He looked at them and said, “The first one of you fellows who climbs to the top of that boom gets the pick of my girls.”  Any work on the top sheave (pulley) was Mr. Shipp’s.  Almost before the man got the words out, Mr. Shipp was waving to him from the boom and shouting, “I want Nettie Lou, if she’ll have me.” The man with the girls was M. I. Stafford, my wife, Nannette’s grandfather Stafford.   Mrs. Shipp cooked for the crew on the dredge that dug “Twin Ditches” in Panola County in later years.  

A Mr. McGinnis was the owner of the dredges.  From the stories you will realize that the  dredges went wherever there was work to be done. The machines today are completely different.

Mr. Shipp met Harry Reynolds of Illinois, later of Streator, while working on the dredge.  At sometime in the 50’s Mr. and Mrs. Shipp visited with Mr. Reynolds in Streator where he served as Chief of Police for many years.  

We’re getting a new neighbor, Goolsby’s Mobile Homes is opening a business next door.  We welcome them to our area.

We hope that you are having a good week. You can reach me  most times at  23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606,  662-563-9879 or

Leave a Comment