Johnny's Corner
People Places Politics Principles Parenting Projects Paraphernalia Poetry

Doll Cole 1

Johnny Jones, October 2000

One of the things I enjoy about this area is the rich heritage of strong people. I never met Dollison P. Cole, but I read his writing. Rev. Doll Cole, as he was known, pastored seven churches on the old Palmer-Belgrade circuit, and wrote about his experiences and his family in "I'm Glad I Live in the Ozarks." A sense of joy pervades his writing:

"I was born in Washington County near Quaker MO. My grandfather Cole a Methodist preacher, settled on Cub Creek, and may be classed with the early pioneers. The creeks and branches were peculiarly named, after some incident or happening. The old people say that an old bear and two cubs were followed down Trace Creek and captured on Cub Creek. The two creeks meet some little distance above the old Cole farm.

"Grandfather Cole married a Murphy. I think she was a daughter of David Murphy who once owned the land where the town of Farmington now stands. His mother, Sarah Barton Murphy, organized and taught the first Sunday School west of the Mississippi River.

"Rev. William Murphy, my Great great grandfather, a Baptist minister, was a native of Belfast Ireland, where he was married, and then came to America with his family. He with his two older brothers who were also Baptist ministers settled in Virginia, near Richmond. This was near the commencement of the Revolutionary War.

"I heard a story of Rev. William Murphy, that while one of his neighbors lay prostrate with sickness, that he planted his crop for him, gave it the same cultivation he did his own, and when the neighbor recovered in the fall the crop was ready for gathering. Had a compensation been offered him he would have resented it as an insult.

"Rev. William Murphy journeyed down the Tennessee River, and up the Mississippi, as far at St. Genevieve, and after coming to the vicinity of Farmington in 1798, returned to Tennessee and died.

"Sarah Barton Murphy, his widow, settling the affairs of her husband, purchased a flat boat loaded it with all her possessions and with the remainder of her family, consisting of her two sons and one or two daughters, a grandson 9 years old, a hired lad about 18, a...woman and boy, floated down the Ohio to its mouth, hence up the Mississippi, after a journey of hardships and peril. Many places along the route being infested with hostile Indians which place she managed to pass in the night. And staying on the bank of some place of concealment during the day, she finally reached Ste. Genevieve, a distance of more than a thousand miles. She arrived on the 12th day of June 1802.

"Nobody in those days thought timber would ever be worth anything, consequently large tracts were rolled together and burned. So dense was the heavy foliage that it was difficult for the noonday sun to get through. Settlers clearing up the land found it a problem to dispose of the logs. "At a log rolling most everybody in the countryside attends. The logs are rolled together with handspikes, made of poles about six feet long. From four to six men carry the lighter logs. The cleared field is now covered with big log heaps, much resembling cocks of hay in a meadow from a distance.

"After the land has been cleared, it's time for the wrestling match, the foot race and the man who can jump the farthest. Strong men of renown came to test their strength against others. Everybody expects a good dinner - ham or venison or both, fresh vegetables from the garden, cold milk from the spring."

From jc: Sounds like those folks worked hard and played hard. When we remember good times and good people from the past, it helps us be proud to say with Doll Cole, "I'm Glad I Live in the Ozarks."

(Doll Cole's daughter, Dolly Blount, loaned me the original manuscript from which these quotes were taken.)
coninued in Cole 2