Jack River Story by Unknown Author

The story of Jack River, below under the transcription notes, involves Walter Quillan Higdon (above: image 1 for more information and his obituary, and image 3 for a photo of him as a young teacher in 1914), and was found among family heirlooms by his daughter, Jane Higdon Brackett.  

Jack River is in the Cohutta Wilderness Area in North Georgia that is in western Fannin and eastern Murray Counties (on Map 2 above), (see Georgia outline in the blue lower left corner); then see in the closeup of Map 2, the spot labelled #9, Jack River Fields; then see in the closeup of Map 2, the spot labelled #4, Mt. Moriah Baptist Church. North of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church is Ritchie Creek [not shown]. Of course, in 1914 it was not a wilderness area or even forest service land, but was (and still is) a popular place for hunting in the mountains.  It is just a few miles from the Higdon Store area where Walter was born. The Ritchie Creek School mentioned in the notes is close to Higdon Store.

As the note below indicates, the story about the Jack River escapades of Walter (above, left), Earnest, and John were recorded in some type of ‘general record’ notebook (image 4 above) at the school where Walter taught (image 3 above). Apparently whoever wrote it down did so apparently to achieve some laughter at the younger men’s expense.  

However, the story of Jack River give us a more interesting point of view: When you have several young men with the weekend off, what do you do just for fun? In 1914, none of them could have gone for ‘a burger and a movie’ (with or without a date). Movie houses had not been invented yet. Cars were rudimentary, at best they were “horseless carriages” whose tires averaged 20 miles between blowouts. There was no radio, or even the concept of a radio. There was no television, whatever that was. There was some drinking, there was a lot of singing, there was cross-dressing (a staple of humor for over 2,000 years), and there was eating (if the Reverend or his wife would cook it up). There was story-telling, tricks, jokes, and hiding clothes. Most of all, there was hunting.

Transcription Notes:

This story was found in a notebook used by Walter Q. Higdon while he was teaching at the one-room Ritchie Creek School at Oasis, GA.  Walter was 19 years old at this time.  Multiple lists of about 50 students each are in the notebook, including 3 Higdons, Gertrude, age 11, Mary, age 11, and Ted, age 15.  Handwriting in notebook indicates multiple people used it.  The story above was not in Walter’s handwriting.  Jane, one of Walter’s daughters says “I have transcribed it ‘as written’ so please excuse the grammatical errors."

W.Q.H. is Walter Higdon, E.G.A. and Ernest mentioned in the story is most likely Ernest Ammons, a good friend and classmate of Walter’s at N. Ga. Baptist College in Morgantown, GA.  J.T.A. is unknown. 

Jack River

Nov. 6, 7 & 8, 1914

Author Unknown

W.Q.H. and J.T.A. turned out school at 3pm and met at the “Foot Log” and arrived at Upper Jack River at 6:30 pm.  The whole county was alight with flames.

Arrived at Sam Crumby at 6:30 pm and sat on the fence and called for a half hour before the lady of the house would open the door.  As Crumby and E.G.A. had went to mind the schoolhouse.  But we went in and the lady very soon prepared us a few bites of supper which we were very anxious to see and soon devoured it with great relish.  After supper we sat about the fire and told Grave Yard tales and jokes for an hour and half after which we began to grow very sleepy and tired after our long journey.

We retired at 10 o’clock and it fell that Ernest and Walter had to sleep together and they giggled and laughed until midnight planning some joke to get on John.  After which time the unusual visitor Mr. Ghost began to make his rounds.  He tied John’s pants, turned Walter’s pants and hid his sox.

On the morning of the 7th we got up very late and had breakfast likewise as the Lady had to churn before same.  But breakfast was soon over and we all went in search of the neighbors’ guns so we might take a hunt but only secured one gun.  But proceeded with what we had.

We hunted until about 11:30 am and reached Flat Top at about 11:45 and enjoyed a few hours there setting plans to build a summer house and establish an air line up there.

Then we went in search of the spring and quenched our thirst on the first drop of Jack River.  It was then 12:30 so we decided to return to our friend Crumby and see about some more to eat.  On our way back we saw 3 large hawks at which we fired several shots but without any results.  

The road down the mountain was very rough, steep and slick but finally arrived at our quarters and friend Crumby was gone but nevertheless we went ahead and prepared a small dinner and soon eat some.

After which we proweled about the house for an hour or so.  John dressed himself in women’s clothes and looked very funny.  After this we got down Crumby’s old muzzle loader shot gun and shot it several times and loaded it several time with beans and shot at spots and wasted a good deal of his ammunition.  After that we went upstairs and got some of the lady’s rolls of wool and geared up her old spinning wheel and all took a lesson in spinning but Walter won the prize.

After which we all took another little hunt but without results.  It was now getting pretty late and we returned to our quarters again and found friend Crumby at home with a host of other male friends from the other side of the mountains.  They were after Mr. Crumby to come to their side and organize a church for them but friend Crumby disappointed his friends.

They very soon left and Crumby prepared supper again.  We very soon ate supper and set around the fire and sang religious songs until bedtime.  We then retired and had a good night’s sleep.

We were all up bright and early Sunday morning and Crumby soon prepared breakfast.  We all ate hearty except John whose stomach and appetite couldn’t agree.  But after breakfast we found an old buggy which had been near the eve. Before.  We found a little brown half gal. jug under the buggy seat which had had some brandy in it not over a week ago.  But we filled the jug with water and put it back in the buggy and got Rev. Crumby in the buggy and pulled him for a ride down the river toward the church.  After we had gone about halfway we drew the jug out which belong to deacon Crumby and all took a little of the contents except Rev. Crumby.  And we reached the house again and Deacon Crumby happened to the sad accident of getting his little “brown jug” broke.

After this it was getting about time for Walter and John to promenade back toward home.  About 10am we started and left Rev. Crumby chatting with his deacon brother.

We reached the church just as it was beginning to sprinkle rain.  We remained there about an hour or so.

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