Reflections

Hill Country Farmers Were A Hardworking Group

By Charles Cooper

Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good week. Some time back I received a letter from old-time friend, Lawrence Pass from Reno, Nevada. Among other things he mentioned, he asked me to profile some of the farmers that were part of the Jumper’s Chapel community.

After taking some time to collect my thoughts, I decided that it will take more than one column to cover these farmers. You must remember that all of these folks were hill country farmers, meaning that there wasn’t much rich bottom land and the farmers were usually only a few hundred acres – some much smaller.

Papa Badley had roughly a half section – three hundred and twenty acres. I recall he had tenant farmers on about half of the place and the rest he farmed and raised cows, which was how he devoted much of his time and overseeing the rest of the farm.     

He raised a little cotton as nearly everyone did, but he also raised a lot of sorghum to make molasses, sweet potatoes, and watermelons. He once said that he could sell a few cows and get more money than he could for an entire cotton crop.

The tenants raised cotton because that was the only cash crop they would have. Papa belonged to the Watermelon Association in the early thirties and he shipped melons from Water Valley to all points up north.

The two other farmers I would like to profile this week were the McMinn brothers, Dennis and Clyde. Their father, Calvin McMinn was primarily what people referred to as “truck farmers,” meaning they devoted more to raising vegetables than cotton.

Mr. Calvin and his sons worked for themselves all of their lives and were successful in those days. They raised fairly large families, always drove good trucks and were active in Jumper’s Chapel church.

Dennis was a tall individual. soft spoken and a hard worker. Clyde was a shorter, stockier man – not as out going as Dennis, but just as hard a worker.

Clyde’s son, John Lee, also called “Bud,” was about my age and we graduated from high school in the same class.

Dennis’ daughter, Margie, was also in my graduating class while Dennis, Jr. was a couple of years younger. Mr. Calvin was a slight built man who wasn’t given to much small talk and was always on the go.

Nannie Badley was fond of saying, “Before we get halfway home Calvin will be sitting down to eat Sunday dinner.”

He worked up until a few days before his death, a stroke that claimed his life in the late fifties. The work ethic he taught was handed down to his sons and their children and they were the type of people that minded their own business, and were never too busy to help a neighbor.

Papa Badley looked on them as his close friends and he often talked about what fine people they were.

There were other families that I’ll cover in future columns as I believe that the Jumper’s Chapel church family was one of the most respected in the area.         

Lawrence’s family was part of that church family and I’ll include them in future columns. and I thank Lawrence for asking that I profile some of the greatest people it has been my privilege to have known. I would welcome any input that Dennis or Margie might add if they choose to do so. As for the rest of you, I always look forward to your contribution. My email address is charlescooper3616@sbcglobal.net or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, Tn 38101 and have a great week.

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