Nancy Dona Harrell

by admin on September 19th, 2003

From 1937 until 1939, the Dickson County Herald sponsored an “Over-Eighty Club” where senior citizens wrote to the paper about their activities and their memories. Several of my relatives were members. The letter that follows was written by Dona Harrell Southerland:

December 2, 1938

I was eighty-three years old my last birthday, having been born November 4th, 1855, the daughter of John and Jeanetta Dotson Harrell. My father was born in Gates County, North Carolina, and my mother came to this county from Hopkinsville, Ky. I was born o­n a farm, ten or fifteen miles from here o­n what used to be called the Old Stage Road. There were seven of us, five girls and two boys. My brother George Harrell and myself are the o­nly two living. George is 89 and wrote to the Club some time ago. From the time I can remember, my daddy lived o­n a farm.

When I was young I worked and sewed. My mother was a tailor by trade and she taught all of us girls to sew, and I can and did sew. I have worked in the house and also out in the fields. I never did weave any or make any cloth, but I did spin. I liked to spin very much.

When I was growing up I had a good time. My father was a poor man and we were poor people, but we had a good time, just the same. From the cradle up, we children had to mind, and I'm not bragging o­n myself, but I never had a whipping in my life.

I can remember very little about the Civil War. George is older than I and he remembers a good deal about it. The man I later married, however, was in the Southern Army.

I lived with my parents until I was married. I never hired out a day in my life. o­n Thursday, Feb. 19, 1873, I was married at home to Rob A. Southerland of Dickson County. Justice J. T. Baker performed the ceremony. We had a nice wedding. There wasn't any big crowd, but a whole lot were there.

My husband was raised o­n a farm, but after our marriage we didn't go to live o­n a farm. He worked at Cumberland Furnace, where he ran a blacksmith shop. We went there and lived the first seven years we were married. I had been married fifteen months when my first child was born. We had three children, born at Cumberland Furnace. We then moved out to Piney to a farm and lived there until 1918. There five more children were born. I am the mother of eight children. Robert Russell Southerland, who lives in Birmingham, Ala., is the o­nly child living. I have eight grandchildren and fourteen great grandchildren.

While we lived o­n Piney, my husband was a blacksmith o­n the Narrow Guage Railroad for two years and eight months. After that he worked o­n the farm and around Dickson, etc. In 1918 we went to Birmingham to live. My husband who had gotten crippled up working here wasn't able to do anything. He died August 18, 1922, at the age of eighty-three years, eight months and o­ne day.

After my husband's death I continued to live in Birmingham with my children until six years ago and then I came back to Dickson County and have since been living with my grandson, R. Clarence England, and his family. He was a tiny child when his mother (my daughter) died.

The England family had a reunion o­n Piney at Mary England's o­n August 28th. I'm the o­nly aunt in the family still living. At that time my son from Birmingham cam to see me. There isn't a week passes that I don't hear from him. There were lots of relatives at the reunion. Some of my own nieces and nephews I hadn't ever seen, my sister's children, came.

On the sixth of November I attended Cassie Joslin's birthday party. There sure was a big crowd there, several hundred. I go to her party every year.

I never did anything in my life that I'm ashamed of, anybody o­n earth knowing I won't want anything against me when I pass out. I belong to the home church at Eno. I live a Christian life as near as I can every day.

I am in good health and keep up might good for my age. I'm slow getting things cleaned up. I still sew and make all my clothes except my black o­nes. I can't see to sew o­n black. I cut me out a dress just the other day but haven't made it yet.

Since 1918 until this year I have made a trip between Birmingham and Dickson or Dickson and Birmingham with the exception of two years. o­ne was the year my daughter in Birmingham was too sick to leave, and then this year. I go alone and I don't mind starting anymore than to go to town.

I had a good time when I was young. I had lots of friends and I still have lots of them. I am going o­n eighty-four and I never had a fuss with anybody in my life and I have moved around a lot and my neighbors always hated to see me go. I don't want to tell anything that isn't right. I'm like the old darkey, “I don't have to lie.”

My brother George told in his letter about being married four times and if they fooled with him he'd get married again. Well, my granddaughter-in-law, Roena, told me to be sure and say in my letter that “Powder and Perfume” is my motto. I do like them. Every day I powder my face and use perfume. It helps a lot.

Dona Harrell Southerland 302 East Walnut St. Dickson, Tennessee”

Kimbro-Field: A Family History of the Kimbro and Field Families of Middle Tennessee by Kenneth Kimbro, 1992, pp. 138-139.

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