Lamar County Kin
Appeared in the Lamar Leader November 24, 1999
By: Barbara Woolbright Carruth
Our modern Thanksgiving Feast is centered around the turkey, but that probably wasn't the case at our colonists feast. Their Thanksgiving meal would have included different meats, such as wild fowl and possibly deer. Vegetable dishes, one of the main foods of our modern celebration, didn't really play a large part in the early feasts . Depending on the time of year, many vegetables weren't available. The pilgrims probably didn't have pies or anything sweet at the harvest feast. They had brought some sugar with them on the Mayflower but by the time of the feast, the supply had probably dwindled. Also, they didn't have an oven so pies and cakes and breads were not possible at all. The food that was eaten at the harvest feast would have seemed fatty by our standards today, but it was probably more healthy for the pilgrims than it would be for people today because the colonists were more active and needed more protein. Heart attack was the least of their worries. They were more concerned about the plague and pox.
Since the early settlers had no refrigeration, they tended to dry a lot of their foods to preserve them. They dried Indian corn, hams, fish, herbs and other foods. The housewives would spend most of their morning cooking the noon meal. Supper was a smaller meal that they had at the end of the day.
My ancestors, the Evans Family, were in Lamar County ( Marion County at that time ) in 1830. George Washington had proclaimed a National Thanksgiving Day , November 26, 1789, in honor of the new United States Constitution. I wonder if they celebrated Thanksgiving in their log house with the open fireplaces, that were used for heat as well as cooking.
On October 3, 1863, during the Civil War, President Lincoln proclaimed a National day of Thanksgiving to be celebrated on Thursday, November 26. He also named the last Thursday in November as the day to be observed every year. You can imagine that this Thanksgiving would have been one that family members would remember. Im sure there were empty seats at the tables with the war going on, empty seats that they hoped and prayed that the persons would be coming home and empty seats left by persons who had already given their life for the cause. This Thanksgiving probably wasnt very festive if celebrated in Lamar County at all.
President Lincoln and every president who followed him proclaimed the holiday each year. The date chosen with few exceptions was the last Thursday in November.
November 24, 1892 issue of the Vernon Courier Newspaper reprint, "Today is Thanksgiving and should be properly observed for the people of the South certainly have much to be thankful for. The Courier has made inquiries in several directions in regard to the cotton crop of Lamar County. A number of ginners inform us that they have not put up more than 1/3 the number of bales this season at this time as compared to an average crop. The crop of Alabama is estimated at 65% but Lamar will not go over 40%."
President Roosevelt thought that Thanksgiving was too close to Christmas so in 1939 he proclaimed the third Thursday in Novmember Thanksgiving Day. In December 1941, a joint resolution of Congress specified the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.
Thursday, November 23, 1944 issue of the Sulligent News reprint "War Bond workers in Alabamas 67 counties were busy Thanksgiving fighting to reach their quotas for the Sixth War Loan, urging their fellow Alabamians to put every idle dollar to work for a quick end to the most fearsome of World Wars. They pointed out that full mobilization of every resource would be necessary before peace would come to the world. The Sixth War Loan opened Monday with a state wide radio broadcast from Northington General Hospital in Tuscaloosa when wounded veterans asked this state to turn idle dollars into fighting dollars and healing dollars. The Northington wounded, like those who have paid the supreme sacrifices everywhere, should be an inspiration to all of us to buy bonds and help bring our own and our neighbors dear ones back home before Thanksgiving 1945. Mr. McMillian told the state. "This is something that cant be put off, if we are to have the peace that we pray for this Thanksgiving 1944", he said. The war bonds are the surest way to fill those empty chairs at Alabama Thanksgiving tables . The county workers were asking their people to do everything possible to make "Alabama First" in the nation to reach its war bond quota." The Lamar County quota was $403,000. Vance Johnson was Lamar County Chairman, War Bond Leaders.
This year 1999, there will be an empty seat at our Thanksgiving table. My son Barry Carruth is finishing a tour of duty in Saudi. He is with the United States Air Force and will be home for Christmas. His family, wife Jenny, son Casey and daughter Summer, moved to the Sulligent area when he left for Saudi. I have taken my freedom, without thinking about how I obtained that freedom, and enjoyed it to the fullest in my lifetime. My son serving outside of the United States, and with all that is happening in the world today, gives me a new understanding of the price that has been and is being paid for a freedom that I have taken for granted. This Thanksgiving I will be more thankful!
The following is a "Thanksgiving Memory" that was written by a new friend that I have met on the internet while searching for clues to family members that left Lamar County.
A THANKSGIVING MEMORY WITH THE RICHARDSON'S
( BY ELIZABETH RICHARDSON PRESSLER)
(Bessie Turman Richardson was my mother who was born & raised in Sulligent, Lamar County, Alabama. )
THE SKY WAS STILL DARK, THE AIR WAS COLD, BUT WE ALL KNEW THAT THE SMELL OF THE TURKEY IN THE EARLY MORNING HOURS MEANT THAT THANKSGIVING DAY HAD ARRIVED AT OUR HOUSE. WE ALL AWOKE AND AWAITED OUR WONDERFULDAY THAT LAY AHEAD.
THE HUSTLE AND BUSTLE IN THE HOT KITCHEN MADE THE DAY GO BY SO FAST. WHILE OUR MOTHER HAD MOST OF THE MEAL ALREADY PREPARED, THERE WERE STILL FINISHING TOUCHES TO BE MADE ON OUR THANKSGIVING FEAST AND OUR LARGE TABLE THAT HAD A SPACE FOR ALL SEVEN OF US. (MOTHER - BESSIE TURMAN RICHARDSON, DAD - SAM RICHARDSON, FRED, HELEN, NORMAN, MARTHA, AND ME (ELIZABETH.)
MOTHER WOULD PUT THE TURKEY IN THE OVEN TO START COOKING AROUND FOUR O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING. WHEN WE AWOKE AROUND SIX O'CLOCK WE WOULD RUN TO THE KITCHEN TO SEE WHAT WAS COOKING FOR OUR "FEAST". THEN IT WAS OFF TO HELP SET THE LARGE TABLE WITH OUR GOOD "SUNDAY CHINA" AND SILVER. IT WAS AN EVENT WE ALL LOOKED FORWARD TO IN OUR
HOME. THE OLDEST SISTER WOULD HELP OUR MOTHER IN THE KITCHEN WITH ALL THE OTHER DISHES WE LOVED SO MUCH WHILE MY OTHER SISTER AND I WOULD RUN OUTSIDE TO CHOOSE THE PRETTIEST AND MOST COLORFUL MUMS TO PLACE IN THE CENTER OF OUR THANKSGIVING DAY TABLE AS THE TABLE WAS SET TO OUR PERFECTION, WE ALL FOUND OUR PLACE AT THE TABLE WEARING OUR HAND-MADE"SUNDAY BEST"CLOTHING, HELD HANDS AND SAID OUR THANKS FOR OUR FOOD, HEALTH, AND ANOTHER WONDERFUL THANKSGIVING MEMORY AT OUR HOUSE.
WE ALL GOT READY TO EAT A DELICIOUSLY PREPARED MEAL WHICH WAS TURKEY, CORNBREAD DRESSING WITH GIBLET GRAVY, CANDIED YAMS, FRESH GREEN BEANS, CORN ON THE COB, HOMEMADE YEAST ROLLS, AND TOPPED OFF WITH BOTH MINCEMEAT AND PUMPKIN PIES.
AS THE DAY CAME TO A CLOSE, OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS AND CLOSE FRIENDS WOULD STOP BY TO VISIT AND ADD TO OUR WONDERFUL THANKSGIVING DAY. BY NIGHTFALL WE WERE ALL READY TO CLOSE OUR EYES AND REST OUR HEADS AFTER SUCH AN EVENTFUL AND FUNFILLED DAY. THANKSGIVING AT OUR HOUSE IN ALABAMA IS A TRADITION THAT I WILL NEVER FORGET AND HAS CONTINUED TO BE A FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR WITH THE SAME TRADITIONS ENJOYED BY MY FAMILY IN TEXAS, AS WELL AS BY MY DAUGHTERS FAMILY.
This Thanksgiving, remember to thank Almighty God, because without Him we would be nothing.MS B