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L W Rivers

Memories of My Boyhood by L. W. A. Rivers

The following autobiographical material was written by L. W. A. Rivers in 1942. He lived 1860-1955 and was elected the representative from Columbia County to the Florida State Legislature in 1901, 1911, and 1923.

"My mind this evening reverts back to the time following the civil war."

"We often think and talk of hard times, but we have not known any hard times that would compare with the condition of this county for the first years after the civil war. Very little coffee could be bought at any price, and most people used substitutes.

"We very seldom saw any refined sugar. The people used that which was made on the farms. About one farmer in ten owned a cane mill. He ground his cane and made sugar and loaned his mill to his neighbors."

"A few of the older settlers owned remnants of farm vehicles. There was (sic) a few men who knew how to do blacksmith and wheelright work, and they soon remidied (sic) the situtation by repairing the old vehicles and building horse carts and ox carts. These were made entirely of wood with the exception of tires (which were old ones that been junked), linch pins to hold the body and wheels together, and a few nails. About nine tenths of the hauling and riding was done in carts. A farmer thought himself pretty well fixed when he got a good new cart to take his family out to church in."

"My mother owned a spinning wheel and a loom and spun thread and wove cloth and made the cloth into garments for the family to wear."

"There were no sewing machines or cook stoves at that time. All the sewing was done by hand with needle and thread and all the cooking in a chimney fire place."

"The first sewing machine that I ever saw was a small portable affair that could be set on any table and turned by hand with a crank."

"The farming was done nearly all together (sic) with one plow."

"All the turning and most of the cultivating was done with a turn plow called a Yankee plow. Every member of the family above five years old had something to do."

"All the planting was done by hand and no commercial fertilizer was used."

"In a few years the farmers by hard work, perseverence and close economy began to prosper and to get better equipment and build better houses."

"For several years after the civil war there was no public school system in this state."

"The people in a community would work together and build a school house of green pine poles, split boards and cover it and ceil the cracks with longer boards, get a few planks for seats and someone would donate an old chair for the teacher to sit in and the house was ready for school."

"They did not have to see any superintenant (sic) or school board. They just hired some one who said that he could teach school. Three months was the length of the usual term and the salary was around twenty dollars per month which was prorated out to the patrons according to the number of pupils from his house. The teacher also got his board free be visiting all around one night at a time."

"I went to school in two such houses and the logs did not even have the bark peeled off and had a dirt floor."

"The pupils big and little, old and young all bought a Websters Blueback Speller and whatever other books they could get."