SUBMITTED BY: Gerri R. Lugs; written by Elizabeth Catherine Draughon Godwin (transcribed and vetted by Cheri Todd Molter)
The following is a transcription of the original submission (click on this link: Incidents in the Life of John Robert Draughon)
Incidents in the Life of John Robert Draughon, as Remembered by his Daughter, Elizabeth Catherine Draughon Godwin
My father, John Robert Draughon, was born in November 1827 or 28 (I can’t remember which, but it is on the tombstone at his grave). He was born in Mingo near Dunn, North Carolina. He was the oldest of his father’s children. He had two whole brothers and one sister. His brother William went to New Orleans and married Bertha Rice. He died in 1884. He went to New Orleans about 1850. Uncle Garry was born in 1834 and died in June 1905. He married Martha Adline Bell, my mother’s sister. They had 17 children. His sister Sarah Liza, married Madison Manuel, an Indian, and they moved to Indiana in or about 1850.
My father married first Nancy Weaver, Off Weaver’s daughter. She died in childbirth. She gave birth to twin boys, and they died also.
My father married my mother, Lucy Jane Bell, January 6, 1853. She was a native of Duplin County, N.C. at Warsaw. Father carried a raft of timber down to Wilmington and came back to Warsaw and started to walk to Clinton as there was no train at that time, and he stopped and stayed all night at my grandmother’s. That is the way he met my mother. They were married soon after that.
My father had very little education, but mother could read and write very well for those times, and she taught him how to read. When I grew up, he used to sit and read the Bible by the hour. He pronounced “inequities” with the accent on the third syllable.
Because my grandfather [had] married a widow with so many children, his father would not give him a deed to any land, but he let him live on a piece of land about a mile west of where I was raised. When father and Uncle Garry grew up and were married, my great-grandfather, George T. Draughon, gave them the land that my father reared his family on. Father bought the tract of land where cousin Donie Matthew now lives, and he gave it to Uncle Garry for his part of the land where I was raised.
When my great-grandfather gave Pa and Uncle Garry the land, it was on condition that they take care of their father, John Bright. Father’s mother had died, and grandfather was about 60 years old. Uncle Garry was in the Civil War five [sic] years, so my father kept out of the war because of kidney stones, and that was what finally killd [sic] him.
My father was a very religious man, and when the Mormon Elders came to a little schoolhouse in September 1895 and held a meeting, my brother Taylor came down to our home and said he had heard some Mormon preachers were going to hold a meeting at the schoolhouse that afternoon. “Let’s go and hear them,” he said. So we all went, and after they closed my father walked up and invited them to our house. That night Taylor and Ellen, his wife, came down and we all sat up and talked until 1:00 o’clock A.M. Elder Holt was 40 years old and a fine speaker. He and his companion kept coming and preaching until the summer of 1896. Father, Taylor, and Ellen were baptized on the third day of August 1896, and three months later, I was baptized.
My father built a house for his father to live in right next to his cooper shop. He lived there until his death. He died the night my sister Narcissus Jane Draughon (McLamb) was born, which was Dec. 11, 1868. My grandfather was down in bed five or six years with rheumatism, and father took care of him. Mother would send his meals to him by my brothers, but my father waited on him, bathed him, and washed his clothes.
Father and Taylor quit the Baptist church because they didn’t believe in paying preachers. Then they started reading Poems of Dawn by Charles T. Russel (that is Jehovah’s Witnesses today). He also went to hear the old Primitive Baptist Preachers because they didn’t believe in paying preachers. Taylor and father bought three or four of the Poems, and they taught a number of things like the Mormons, but they spiritualized everything while the Mormons taught literally. The idea was we were all searching for truth but never found it until the Elders brought it to us.
Father used to own a cooper shop and a blacksmith shop. They were about a hundred yards south of our home. He would make barrels and tubs to sell. He kept a big chest under his shop full of tools, and I can’t remember that it was ever locked. After the boys all got married and left, he let the blacksmith go down, but he worked in his cooper shop until about a year before he died. He had a juniper swamp on his land that he used to cut down the logs from and saw them into blocks, then split them into one-inch staves, from which he made beautiful tubs. People would come and buy them as fast as he could make them. He made two or three sizes. The large ones he sold for $1, the next size 75₵, and 50₵ for a pail.
When mother and father were young, father made most all the coffins for all the neighbors. Mother told me he was making a coffin the day his father died. Father had a large brick kiln on his land, and he and the boys made a batch of bricks every year. People would buy them and then hire him to build their chimneys. He had only four or five acres of cleared land when he married mother, but by 1895 he had cleared nearly 100 acres of his land. I think now it has nearly half grown up in old field pines. He had a hard time clearing the land. He said it was all in virgin timber when he married.
He and mother were the parents of eleven children, four girls and seven boys. My brothers worked in turpentine [wood] in the spring, summer, and fall. In winter they went to school, from Nov. 1 to March. Father kept several head of cattle and milk cows. One time one of our fine milk cows went mad, and father and Brother David shoot [sic] and killed her. He kept a few sheep too, and he would shear them in the spring and take the wool to Fayetteville and have it carded into rolls. Mother would spin it and weave it in[to] cloth to make father and my brothers wool pants to wear in cold weather. She would weave cotton cloth for summer pants. She also knitted wool socks and wool gloves for us children to wear to school.
My parents never moved [around]. Mother died in March 1918 and had lived in the same yard for 65 years (but not in the same house). The year I was born father built mother a big nice home. My grandfather moved down on a piece of ground that belonged to his father, George T. Draughon. He lived there and raised his family, but my great-grandfather sold that tract of land to a Mr. John Matthews after all the children were married. Then he gave the tract of land on which I was born and raised to Pa and Uncle Garry.
Father had some lumber sawed several years before he died and piled it up on the loft of his shop. The boards were about 20 to 24 inches wide, and he kept them to put on top of his coffin. When Bro. Matthew B. died, father had some of those boards sawed and placed on top of his coffin. Also, when father was buried, my brothers took those wide boards and sawed them the right length and put them on his coffin. There were some left for mother, but I lived here in Salt Lake at the time of her passing, but I am sure her children used them for her box, too. Most of them were fat light wood. A few were walnut.
One of my father’s traits of character was to be honest and truthful. He said he would rather have a rogue in his house than a liar. He would never go in debt for anything except a little fertilizer in the spring. When he died, he didn’t owe a [nickel] in the world to anyone.
My father had a wonderful companion in my mother. A more honest and truthful and industrious woman would have been hard to find. She was loved and respected by all who knew her. My sister told me she had the largest funeral she had ever attended.
My father often said his word was just as good as his bond.
Father passed kidney stones off and on all his life. A year before he died his water dripped from him, and mother and I made him a bed on the floor the summer before he passed away on November 29, 1899. Three days before he died his water stopped completely, and he hollered with pain until he died. Today, doctors could have operated on him, but in those days they didn’t seem to know very much. All of my brothers were with him when he died except David. He came for a few days but went back to Durham.
The day before the Civil War broke out in Ft. Sumpter, South Carolina, father floated to Wilmington $200 worth of timber. When it arrived it couldn’t be sold at any price because of the war. It sat there on the wharf throughout the entire war. He went back to Wilmington when the war ended and sold it for about $25 or $30. If it had reached the port before the war started, it could have been sold for the $200.
Mother and Father had no money throughout the entire five [sic] years of the Civil War. They had only one 50 lb. sack of flour [to live on] for the duration of the war.
Father bought the first sewing machine in our community in 1884. It was a New Home machine. He owned a cane vat too in which that made their syrup. Taylor did most of the making. The vat was divided into sections. The juice was placed in the first section, boiled, and poured from one section to another until in the last section it came out as syrup. The cane mill was pulled around and around by a mule and one of my Bro’s [brothers] would feed the stalk of cane into the mill so as to make the juice that was boiled into Syrup. My father owned a large apple orchard, plum orchard, and peach orchard. He had 3 or 4 large scuppernong grape [arbors], too. He built a cider and wine press and a cider house…where he made kegs of cider and wine and when we had company they were always treated to a drink of cider and wine. My father died Nov. 29, 1899 and was buried 200 yards North West [sic] of our home on a plot of [ground] that he had picked out for a cemetery for himself and [his] family. But only two of his sons were buried there and one daughter-in-law and my sister and her husband, cousin and Auley B. McLamb and several grandchildren. I have a baby girl [who died at] five months old buried there.
These things which I have written are all true as I remember them.
Signed: Elizabeth Godwin
1876 Lake Street
Salt Lake City, Utah