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JoLee Gregory Spears

This page was updated September 13, 2005


Memories of Ruby (Williams) Harris

Submitted by Jim Dillard

by Ruby Harris
June 13, 1978

Note: Ruby (Williams) Harris was a daughter of John Watts and Martha Louise (Fowlkes) Williams. Her mother was a sister of "Eva" the 1st wife of Howard G. Fore.

Everyone writes a book, so I will take the phone off the hook, settle down with pen in hand, -and write. Leslie and I owned some land, 40 acres to be exact, which was part of the old country tract facing Springfield Road in Glen Allen, Virginia.

The rear of our house was over 200 years old. It was a large white house. The front porch was square with a cement porch and steps. There were four tall white columns. Shrubs were planted around the front of the house and of course there was a large green lawn which was my son, Al’s job to keep it cut.

The two story house had large room with very high ceilings. There was a reception hall with a pretty staircase leading to the 2nd floor. Our home had both a front and back living room, a dining room, and a large kitchen with an adjoining screened in side porch. There were 4 bedrooms upstairs with a bathroom at the head of the stairs. The bath rub had feet and the sink was a pedestal lavatory.

We had quite a bit of timber on the land and a saw mill to cut some of it down. We used this to build outbuildings like the chicken and brooder houses for the baby chickens. It was also handy to have the
timber to repair the barn, stable and other outbuildings.

There were two running streams on the property where we could water the livestock. We had two horses that had to fed twice each day through the Winter. In Summer they grazed in the pasture. We had a large barn, a well house, and a smoke house were we smoked hams and bacon slabs. After we killed hogs we would put the meat in salt for a length of time, then cut it into hams and bacon slabs before smoking the meat.

The well house was near the side of the screened in porch. Inside, I had a shelf to put large shallow pans of milk after I had strained it to save cream for butter. The skim milk was fed to the hogs.

I used a dasher churn. I remember the first butter I made because it was a failure. I put the cream in the churn and the butter came in a short time. I made a pretty little cake with the butter paddle and was very proud of it,
-that it until I put it on the table and the family tasted it. I had kept the cream too long and the cows had been eating wild onions. I also did not know I was suppose to put the butter in a pail of water to work out the excess milk and add some salt to season it. My children , Al and Margaret, made a big joke about it. They buried the pretty butter patty and put up a rock for a tombstone. I’ll never live that down but did learn how to make very good butter.

Well, out house was in pretty good condition. We had Delco lights that would flicker and go out now and then. We always had lamps and lanterns that we kept filled with oil to tide us over when the lights would go out. We had a large floor furnace in the back hell because the house was hard to heat. The back living room had a large fireplace where we could burn logs when the weather was extremely cold. My kitchen had a cook stove that could use wood or coal. The wood box by the stove was kept filled with wood and kindling.

I cooked three meals each day and made both biscuits and cornbread for each meal. How I survived -I’ll never know. I worked hard and so did my husband Leslie making a living on the farm. He worked from early to late plowing, planting (corn, wheat and vegetables). There was especially much to be done when the vegetables were in season. We would shell peas and butter beans on Friday nights to take to Richmond on Saturday to sell to his customers.

We bought white Leghorn and Rhode Island baby chickens and kept them in the broader until they were old enough to lay eggs. We fixed them nests in the large hen house for them. Less would crate the eggs and sell them to wholesale dealers and also sold some retail. I canned any produce which he was unable to sell.

There was a nice apple orchard on the farm. Leslie planted a peach and a pear tree. We always had plenty of fresh fruit to eat and can for winter.

We joined the Glen Allen Baptist Church. The Reverend Roy Carner was the pastor. Leslie was a Methodist so he joined the church and was baptized. Al, Margaret and I moved our membership from the Northside of Richmond and became active in Church and Sunday school.

I joined the Glen Allen Garden Club in 1938. We had flower shows at Forest Lodge which was an ideal place to have them. We made many good friends in the community. Our neighbor on the right side of us were Annie and Leonard Melton. Mr. And Mrs. Gene Holiday and their daughter Courtney were on the other side.

I remember a funny thing that happened to Al and Margaret when they were small. They were coming home from school. They checked the mail before coming to the house and found two small sample boxes which they believed to be candy. They ate these before they got to the house. Well, it happened that these candy samples were Exlax. They both had quite a busy time the rest of the afternoon and night.

Al had another funny thing happen around that time. We were visiting Mr. And Mrs. Frank Boschen. Les and I were in the living room talking with them and Al was outside walking around. Suddenly, we heard a loud crash. To my horror I saw Al’s head protruding through the large window pane. He just said, “Excuse me, Mrs. Boshen. Your window was so clean I thought it was open. My mother never keeps her windows that clean.” I insisted on paying for the damage but the Boshens refused. I though Al showed such tact in that situation.

Leslie drove the school bus and was also the Fire Warden to make a little extra money. It was hard life on the farm. After living on the farm for 16 years we decided to move back to Richmond. Les went to work for American Tobacco Company, then later to Export Tobacco Company were he worked until a short time before he died in December of 1970.

This page of my life is closed with laughter and wonderful memories of our many friends and family. Sundays on the lawn will always hold special memories.

Ruby Harris


Do you ever winder what makes old folks tick?
What makes them unhappy, what makes them sick?
Whey so many are crabbed and cross
Is it because you try to prove you’re the boss?
It isn’t always the lack of wealth,
it’s the idea of being laid on the shelf
Rocking all day, -lonely too
not having some hobby to pursue.
Why not show them affection, -give them something to do
I’m keeping them happy, they will feel useful, too
and the old folks will perk up and feel good as new.


I gaze out the window and fancy I see-
the leafy branches of a Money Tree
The blossoms shine like silver and gold
that turn to greenbacks as the leaves unfold.
Now what would I do if that dream could come true?
First of all, I would buy something nice for you
I would have a large playground for all kids to enjoy
and a store with every conceivable game and toy.
A Popsicle Mall with free treats for all-
A Big Top and clowns - and this isn’t all . . . .
There would be boat rides, fishing ponds complete with rod and reels-
A Porpoise to jump up and make the kids squeal.
A big brown dog sitting on a throne
licking a lolly pop instead of chewing a bone.
All this for free, how wonderful it would be
If I really and truly had a money tree.

Love from Grandma
Written to Lee in Korea - May 1963
I named our Keifer Pear tree my “money tree” -because I sold some to make
extra money.
Page 3


Father George Washington said to me
“Grandma, when you write to Lee
send him a leaf from the Money Tree.”
If there was money there, it was hard to see
but high up near the top I saw one -two -three
dollar bills waiting for you -from me. . .

Dear Margaret and Al,

Things are mixed up as can be
here I sit with the Money Tree
Vacant ground all around
but no money to be found
Lyndon and Hubert holding it tight
Real Estate people in a plight
Someday the Eagle again will soar
hard times will be no more
I won’t let this worry me, I’ll eat and sleep as I did before
and ask the lord for strength to push the mower
I’ll cultivate the money tree
raise dollar bills for all to see
catch a few as they fly by
just to see what money can buy
Things happen for the best you see
We old folks are as content as can be
Just Pop and Me, -and the Money Tree. .
-August 29, 1966

HOMETOWN NEWS - October 1966 (Bancroft Avenue, Richmond, VA)

I’m just as sad as I can be
The bulldozer cut down the money tree.
For many years it stood tried and true
paying off when bills were due.
Now, it is gone; no more will I see
the leafy branches of the money tree.
I wonder why it had to be lot
to be uprooted on the 50ft plot.
I’ll have to get another and plant it here
but never again will it be as dear.
To me as my crooked, gnarls old Money Tree.


I love the country. Each summer after school was out I asked my mother if I could visit my father’s sister Aunt Pattie. I didn’t want to go alone. I wanted someone I could play with. My mother contacted one of my numerous cousins until she found one that was willing to go for two weeks (the length of time we usually stayed). She found a cousin willing to go to Fort Mitchell, Virginia by train. After getting on the train, we giggled and played around on the red velvet seats. Arriving at Fort Mitchell, we got off at the railroad station and went to Fore’s General Merchandise Store.

Howard Fore married my mother’s sister, Eva. At the front of the store near the entrance was the post office. Upstairs was Aunt Eva and Uncle Howard’s living quarters. It had high steps outside of the building. On the opposite side of the railroad station was Byard Spencer’s General Merchandise Store. That was the extent of Fort Mitchell’s business district. Farmers came there to shop or to get on the train to go places or meet relatives and friends that were visiting them.

Someone would meet my mother, my cousin and me to take us to Uncle Ab and Aunt Pattie’s farm. That was about 3 miles past the little village called Plantersville, Virginia in Lunenburg County. Aunt Pattie and Uncle had a large white clapboard house that had large rooms and high ceilings.

Aunt Pattie’s brother Uncle Bob was single and in poor health. He lived with them. Uncle Bob had a large room in the attic with a window he could open so he wasn’t uncomfortable. Aunt Pattie and Uncle Ab had a black woman that was very nice. She did outside and inside work. Aunt Chloe lived in a little cabin a short distance from the house.

Uncle Ab had four cows and two mules, Bell and Bess. That was the extent of his livestock. They would save the milk that was left from the day before and put it in a large pan to sour. They called it “clabber.: Aunt Chloe would put it in a well washed wooden churn. While Aunt Chloe was cooking our breakfast, Uncle Ab would churn the milk until the butter came. After the butter came, Aunt Chloe would put it in a pan of water and salt it to taste. They were made into cakes and stored in a cool place. When Uncle Ab was churning he would sing with a twinkle in his eye, Come Butter Come. My cousin and I would giggle and dance around the churn while Chloe waits with the butter plate.

Aunt Chloe made “hoe cakes” in the ashes of the fire. She would wash them off in warm water, butter them and serve them while they were good and warm. The kitchen had a large fireplace that heated the kitchen and burned large logs.

Chloe washed clothes at the woodpile in a round tub and wash board. She would then pile chips high under the pot to bring the water to a boil to whiten them. She would take them out with two long sticks, rinse them twice in cold water and hang them on the clothesline to dry. Once dry, she would take them in, sprinkle them and roll them up until she was ready to iron. The ironing board was well padded. The ironing board would be set on two high-backed kitchen chairs. Aunt Chloe would have to put a pad under her hands to lift the hot irons from the stove.

Uncle Ab and Aunt Pattie were members of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church where they attended each Sunday for Sunday School and Church. For communion Sunday they had large round loaves of home baked communion bread. Those who took communion would take a pinch and the ushers serving would pass around a long stemmed goblet and everyone taking communion would take a sip.

Aunt Pattie had a lovely front yard with a white picket fence surrounding it. Her flower borders had whitewashed rocks surrounding each bed. I have to laugh when I remember Aunt Pattie.
At home, everyone spoke of Uncle Ab by that name, but at church she called him “Nathan” to put on airs. These are some of my many memories of my childhood days. I also remember going to Sunday School and Church in a two-seated surrey with a fringe around the top being pulled by the two mules, Bell and Bess, and driven by Uncle Ab.

Names: Aunt Pattie - Pattie Jane Williams Fowlkes
Uncle Ab - Nathan Abner Fowlkes
Uncle Bob - Robert Clark Williams

Eva died on January 23, 1916 in Fort Mitchell, VA in Lunenburg County. The following is the obituary as it appeared in the County News of Lunenburg paper:

Mrs. H. G Fore, of Fort Mitchell, VA.

When a little girl seven years of age, kind Providence wound its way, by ushering the bright-eyed, beautiful little girl, Eva May Fowlkes, into the sweet home of Mr. and Mrs. N. A. Fowlkes of Plantersville, VA. They assuming the responsibility of her as their adopted daughter, with their patience and love, won her childish affections and her devotion to mama and papa was beautiful.
Year after year passed away in school, in the home, in the church and Sunday school, among friends, kindred and neighbors, till a full grown beautiful young lady.

April 4, 1897, she became the happy bride of Mrs. H. G. Fore, Fort Mitchell, VA. She reined supremely queen in her home, and died as she lived, happy. She devoted her life to her beloved husband and children, making home happy, but with her unselfish heart, found time to alleviate the suffering of others, as she had opportunity, doing many kind deeds among those less fortunate that herself.

She was sick only a few days. All that physicians, kind friends, loved ones and a trained nurse from Richmond, could do, was done. The end came as she lived, happy. She was conscious to the last, expressing a willingness to go; said she was ready; she wished everybody could hear the sweet music she was listening to. On the beautiful Sabbath afternoon, January 23rd, 1916, she closed her eyes in slumber, never to awake on earth again, age forty years.

She united with Mt. Zion Baptist church while young, and lived a consistent Christian life. The remains were sweetly laid to rest at home in her garden, on the following Tuesday afternoon, by the side of her little son, Paul Eldrich, who preceded her to the grave three years. The beloved Rev. H. T. Williams, of Chase City, conducted the burial services at her home in a most beautiful and comforting manner, reading the 23rd psalm, and offering an appropriate prayer. A large concourse of people, friends, relative and loved ones met to pay the last sad rites. The floral offerings were beautiful.

At the conclusion Mr. Fore stepped forward with deep emotion and thanked all, both colored and white for their kindness to him in his great sorrow. Our deep sympathy and prayers to out to him and his little ones in time of sorrow: Pauline E, Mary Howard, Harold, Florence, Fulton, Henry, Evelyn, Bertie Sue, Garland, and Julian; and to her brother Mr. Clarence, and Mrs. Cook, who live in Richmond, and her sister, Mr. D. H. Knight, who lived in Lynchburg, and her mama and papa Mrs. and Mrs. N. A. Fowlkes and beloved uncle, Mrs. R. C. Williams.

"A precious one from us has gone,
A voice we loved is stilled;
A place is vacant in our home,
Which never can be filled.
God in His wisdom has recalled
The bloom His love had given
And though the body slumbers here
The soul is safe in Heaven."
A Friend.

Copyright 2000 JoLee Gregory Spears