How the Class Leader Got Caught, By Lucien V Rule
[this missive was collected and presented to me by Donald Eugene Garriott without comment. The paragraphs below state the source and authors. This appears to be a mimeograph copy that has suffered many hands and many readings. It is transcribed verbatim-- with only the occasional spelling correction.]
This article appeared in the January 26th, 1940 issue of the Oldham Era, published at La Grange, Kentucky. The author, Rev Lucien V Rule, was then serving as pastor of the Goshen Presbyterian Church in Oldham County, Kentucky. Numerous articles of his were published in this paper, but we do not know at present of other writings that might refer to the Garriott family. Rev Rule went to the pastorate of the Crothersville, Indiana Presbyterian Church in 1906 and during his residence and pastorate there he would have met and known members of the Garriott family and any other person concerned in this bit of early pioneer history.
Jacob Garriott, mentioned in the article, was an older son of Ambrose Garriott. It is interesting to note that the Garriott family moved from Garrard County, Kentucky in 1800 to the same general of Oldham County where Rev Rule served as pastor of the Goshen Presbyterian Church. (The Garriott family owned approximately 500 acres of land that was located on Harrods Creek, and bounded by Cedar Creek and Darby's Branch.) However, it is apparent that Rev Rule did not meet members of the Garriott family until he went to Crothersville, Indiana.
In an effort to complete as much of the Garriott history as possible, this material has been prepared by Walter W Garriott, who is a descendant of Ambrose Garriott through the lineage of his son, John Garriott. Miss Berniece Garriott of Oak Park, Illinois and a direct descendant of Jacob Garriott has assisted in this work.
Walter W Garriott, Vanceburg, (Lewis County) Kentucky, 1969
Some people say that lack of markets alone made the early pioneers generous of heart. They assert that had a market been at hand, this gracious habit of sharing would have vanished overnight. Maybe so; but nevertheless, it was a period we love to think of now in a world of war, greed and groveling selfishness. It was, perhaps, like that beautiful attempt at mutualism spoken of in the Book of Acts - too wonderful to last. But there was Brotherly Love on the American Border. The age of deer-skin and blue-jeans compare but sadly, perhaps, with the after generation of silks and satins. But let us at least contemplate it in song and story.
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The Easum home, near Jeffersontown, about ten miles east of Louisville, Kentucky was originally a fortress. You could see that as you studied the windows and doors and timbers. This old home had been in the family long past a hundred years. The Garriotts were Virginians and came to the vicinity of Louisville among the early settlers. One Garriott ancestor of this family was in the War of 1812. But Jacob Garriott was the pioneer to "Old Hickory County", Indiana. He was on the ground at the time of the Pigeon Roost Massacre. He may at that time have been a sojourner in the borders of Washington County, Indiana, where others of his name and kinship located and entered land claims. But he was headed toward "Old Hickory County", where we find him.
It was this same Jacob Garriott whose daughter (let us call her Sallie) went to a neighbor's one cold, foggy night and left the babe at home. When darkness fell Uncle Jake and the family heard a sudden, strange woman's voice crying like a panther, then like a child that had lost his mother. Then it sounded impatiently, like the absent daughter approaching the house.
"That is Sallie coming back", said Uncle Jake, rising and going to the door with his wife. They halted and listened. Then they stepped outside a moment in the foggy darkness. The panther cry resounded closer, startling - merging again into such an amazing imitation of the daughter's voice that Uncle Jake said: "Step back in, mother. They are robbers".
They barred the door, for all provisions against Indian attack had been preserved in the log house of this old settler. He got tongs and heavy iron shovel ready. The guns were loaded and stood close at hand. There was no sleep that night for Uncle Jake or any of the household. They heard the robbers tramping about until dawn. These men knew that Uncle Jake had sold stock and had money in the house; and they were after it. But the windows and doors were securely bared, and they knew well enough the mettle of the old pioneer.
As nearly as we can approximate, this was far back about the time of the Mexican War. There were robbers and murderers in Old Hickory County long before the Reno Brothers arose. Indeed, the conditions that induced and produced one group largely occasioned the other. In these stories from the lips of fact and tradition right on the ground, we shall not lose sight of the connecting links.
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Uncle Jake Garriott was a member of the United Brethren Church. He lived in a stoutly built long cabin just west of the present Crothersville Cemetery. He was the earliest pioneer of Vernon Township that we have record of in this locality, for he was here when Indians were still on the Muscatatuck River. We know, too, that before Crothersville was founded, which was long years after he came, there were neighbors in the woods around. The Circuit Rider came on his gospel mission because there was a Methodist or United Brethren class among the settlers. It is greatly to the credit of that early religion, and to the glory of God's grace, that it took hold of the humble and lowly, the weak and erring. And if it was the custom among those good people to trust a new convert as class-leader, to strengthen him in temptation - what if one of these leaders did fall once by the wayside? We can well assure our readers that if the spirit exercised toward him were more widely prevalent now, our churches would be more of a dynamic of mercy and redemption as Jesus intended. Be we are not here to moralize. To our story.
Uncle Jake had been missing corn. He would have freely and generously divided with the needy and hungry, for he was always unselfish with the produce of field and garden and smoke-house. But he did not relish having his corn stolen. It was not so much the value of the corn to him as it was knowing there was any one in the community or congregation who was a thief. He did not regard it necessary for anyone to steal, however poor they were; for sharing with one another was a primal pioneer virtue. So Uncle Jake decided to set a trap to catch the thief. It was a well-made affair, this man-trap; and, sure enough, next morning bright and early, there was the culprit caught in the act. Nor could he release himself. He began to plead his cause and case as soon as Uncle Jake approached:
"I sure am ashamed of myself, Uncle Jake. I hadn't orter been here takin' corn from a man as good as you. Don't know why I done it. The Devil must of put me up to it. But shore yer sins'll find yer out, they will. Mine has done found me out. Wonder ef you can't show mercy to a pore mortal? We had so leddle to eat at home."
Uncle Jake regarded the man in silence for a moment or two. You could hardly tell whether it was mere contemplation or pity. Maybe both, for he said: "Zake, I hardly would have thought it was you, being the class leader, too. What will the good Lord think; and what will the people say?"
"Don't give me away, Uncle Jake, for Gawd's sake. I sware ter Gawd if you'll only let me off, or loose, this one time - I'll never take nothing no more. Lawd have mercy."
"Zeke you knows well enough I'd er give you whut yer needed without yer stealin' it."
"I does know that, Uncle Jake. So much the wuss for me. Lawd, have mercy. Please let my hands loose. They hurts awful."
Uncle Jake could endure it no longer than Zeke. He set about to release the poor fellow. Just at this point Sammy Shucks appeared on the scene. He was a youngster about twelve years of age, with all the curiosity and mischief one would expect to find. He stood looking at the man in the trap, then at Uncle Jake.
"Uh-huh. Got caught, did yer, Zeke?"
"Yes, he got caught," answered Uncle Jake in no very concordant mood. "And see here, young man; if I hear of you tellin' this to a soul, it will not be good for Sammy Shucks. No more apples out of my orchard for tale-bearers. Boys that blabs whut haint ther business, don't need to come ter Jake Garriott's place for apples ner nuthin' else. Hear me, do yer?"
"Yes, suh, I hears," answered young Shucks with no uncertain sound. And tradition says he did keep the secret of "How the class leader got caught." Uncle Jake had released the culprit and motioned hm towards the house, beckoning to Sammy Shucks to follow, which he did. A wash pan was set out for the crest-fallen class leader to bathe his sore hands in cold water. And some big red apples were passed out to the eager and fruit-hungry Samuel Shucks as a pardonable bribe or assurance to silence on this critical occasion. He grinned as he dug his white teeth into the red and juicy fruit.
"Come on in ter breakfast, Zeke," said Uncle Jake. There was not a word of explanation to the family about Zeke's swollen hands. Uncle Jake quietly said: "Zeke, will yer please say thanks for to the Lord?"
It was in broken and penitent sentences that the humiliated class leader essayed to utter his heart-felt gratitude; and when he concluded, the tears dropped on his plate. Uncle Jake wiped his moistened eyes and cleared his throat. Mother Garriott gave Zeke a bountiful helping of good things, and it seemed to almost choke him. But he sensed a great pity in Uncle Jake's whole demeanor; and he knew deep down that his unhappy situation would not be reported to the church. Uncle Jake's soul instincts were far to humane for that.
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Uncle Jake's daughter Sallie was so much like him that she never turned away a hungry traveler or a needy neighbor. She and her father believed in the Old Testament custom of having enough and to spare for those less fortunate. They believed implicitly that the Lord only rewarded according to the unselfishness and generosity of the human heart. Sometimes Sallie's father would miss a pig or some chickens and wonder if thieves had been about again. Then Sallie would confess: "No, father, I give the pig to Jim Hawkins and his hungry brood. And the chickens went to Lizzie Lawrence and her fatherless children."
"Well and good, my daughter. He that hath pity or the poor lendeth to the Lord; and he surely will repay him again."
Uncle Jake was buried out at the Grassy Baptist Church Cemetery, on the old Vernon place, northeast of Crothersville. It is said that his tombstone now lies face downward (1969). But here are some memorial verses that Blue Jeans Dickey, preacher-poet of Old Hickory County scribbled (as was his wont) about Uncle Jake that have escaped the dust of oblivion:
His heart of pity was compounded;
His faith in God and man well-founded;
His kindness unto all abounded;
He prayed not so church walls resounded;
But asked if you poor sinners hounded?
Through Zion's Walls the saints surrounded,
God's grace the erring still sure grounded;
Bigots alone his bosom wounded.
"Show mercy, Lord," he said, still kneeling;
"Thy pardoning Love is o'er us stealing,
Like morning light thy truth revealing.
For kindness is thy law of dealing;
Forgiveness is thy balm of healing;
Faults of the weak and frail concealing;
His Mercy Chariot now comes wheeling.
He was a backwoods friend and neighbor;
He shared his larder, love and labor.
What struck him like a sudden sabre
Was selfishness - a son so grievous,
The Lord because of it will leave us;
And men, alas, half brutes conceive us.
God and thy brother, none can sever;
Take one and leave the other? NEVER
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