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HOW UNCLE JESS GARRIOTT MADE MONEY AND GOT MARRIED
[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. I have not determined just who this Jess Garriott is who married Marian Martin.]
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
Uncle Jess Garriott belonged to the age of the frontier before the money-makers got under way with their methods of "primitive accumulation". He used to say that it was much harder to keep money after you made it than it was to make it in the first instance. He got ahead by doing without things. He was a shining example of Josh Billings' adage, "Eat what you can' sell and give away nothing." Uncle Jess bought only to sell again at a profit. His basic idea was to raise everything you sell. He went to Salem to the Academy to get his education. He rode a mule that stood hitched outside in cold and heat, winter and summer. He took it out on the hide of the poor mule. What a monotonous time standing hitched all day long. The mule did not even have the heart to bray.
After Uncle Jess got his education at the Salem Academy and set up for himself as a farmer, he would ride this same old mule into Salem and hitch him at the courthouse square, as of old, with not a bit to eat or drink. But Uncle Jess himself never darkened a hotel or restaurant door. He, too, went without grub all day long. He said he had enough to eat at home. No use in wasting good money to buy what you already had. He used the same strategy raising stock. He owned a lot of timber land. His sows ran loose in the woods and fed on beechnuts. He said there was no earthly use feeding good corn to sows and pigs so long as rootin' was good. That was what their snouts was made for. And didn't the Good Lord say we should root hog or die?
The first big money that came Uncle Jess's way was a ten thousand dollar sale of timber. He had bought it up for a song. People laughed at him for investing in what they called razor-back knobs. But there were rich bottoms along the creek at the foot of those hills, and Uncle Jess raised lots of corn and hay for mules and sheep and cattle on that rich land. When the beechnuts gave out he fattened his hogs. He always sold to the local buyer. He had no faith whatever in stockyard swindlers, as he called them. He always had plenty of corn. His cribs were swollen to bursting with corn, some of it four and five years old. He fed his stock heavily on this corn when crops were poor, and thus he always got the top of the market.
Now Uncle Jess was a bachelor. His mother kept house for him as long as she lived. She was an awfully good woman, with the Garriott generosity of old days in her heart. But Uncle Jess had corn bread and bacon the blessed year round. He said that sody biscuit and yeast bread wusn't good for the digestion, noway. His aim was to raise everything and buy nothing for back or board that you could weave, spin or produce at home. He avoided a grocery bill as he would a pestilence. But the day came when his good mother outwitted him. The preachers were at the bottom of it all.
"Now Jess," his mother said, "The preachers is comin' of a Sunday, an' bless my heart, I'll be 'shamed to have 'em lest we kin have ham and biskits, chicken an' gravy, an' some pies. That takes flour, an' we muss have it. You hears me, Jess."
Jess grumbled quite a bit at his mother's extravagance and said the preachers would bring him to the pore-house yit. But he put one of his nephews on a mule with a bag of wheat and this injunction: "Now, se here, young'n; you takes that wheat to mill and swaps it for flour. An' you bring back the bran. Hear me?'
Wheat and bran both came back and Mother Garriott fairly humped herself on that Sunday dinner. Blue Jeans Dickey was invited. The Garriott's were United Brethren but Blue Jeans preached at Beach Grove that Sunday, and Mother Garriott asked him over, for he qas an old favorite. Uncle Jess was awfully fond of Blue Jeans, for Blue Jeans was an inveterate joker. The U B brother on the circuit at that t ime was known as "Big Jim." He had a huge capacity for food, a voice that rang like a trumpet and a corporosity that was truly gigantic. He was an earnest and zealous preacher, but he was a master of solemnity. Mother Garriott told him he ought to laugh and joke more with the youg people; and she had him Sunday to meet Blue Jeans so they would become acquainted. She felt sure that Blue Jeans would make "Big Jim" loosen up. And at the dinner table Blue Jenas finally got "Big Jim" to laughing. He fairly roared with merriment. The tears dripped from his eyes, and he could hardly catch his second wind between Blue Jeans' jokes. Blue Jeans celebrated the occasion with some of his charistic verses. He took a good-natured dig at Uncle Jess's stinginess that did a lot of good:
The Preacher and the Pie
Our Uncle Jess with evil eye
Looked on the preachers and the pie:
"How shall we cut it - when and why?"
For larger slices each will sigh!
For there's Blue Jeans, so long and slim;
One little slice won't do for him.
"Tis appetite as well as whim,
And there's the stomach of Big Jim;
A U B brother who can't laugh'
But puts away 'nough for a calf;'
You'll have to cut the pie in half.
So Mother Garriott had to make
Quite all the pies that she could bake.
"Blue Jeans loves mince. How well I know.
That time he stayed here in the snow.
Why, we jes' couldn't let him go.
Horseback to Salem! Never! No.
Ole North Wind with a blizzard blow;
An' Blue Jeans for his brekfus ate'
More than the slices on his plate.
His empty stumik scarce could wait.
No preacher with him. Happy fate."
"For, had Big Jim a been around,
No pies for brekfust we'd or found.
Jim hits the pantry (not a sound);
Both grace and grub for Jim abound.
I'd druther feed the slimmest one
Beneath the mortal, shinin' sun.
He pays for food with lots of fun;
But this Big Jim, he weighs er tun,
An' says hit's sinful, laughter, joke.
So sollem-like, he shoar caan croak;
An' when you're hawngry, he kin joke,
Preachin' of Sunday, I hev spoke:
He otter hev his big neck broke."
Uncle Jess Garriott was liberal. He was a consistent U B member. He was awful stingy, but honest to the core. He would always match what the most liberal members gave, and he would wind up the offering by saying, "Well, no use in hagglin' here. Hit's the Lord's work, I'll jus' pay the ballunce." And he would shell out.
But good Mother Garriott in due time paid the debt of all mortality, and Uncle Jess was left alone. He missed her sorely. He did his own cooking for a while, but it got as monotonous as that old mule standing there hitched to the post on the courthouse square in Salem. So Uncle Jess got women on his mind. They were not all like his mother, either. They knew he had money, and not a few of them eyed him covetously. But Uncle Jess was "cawtious as a crow" to use a phrase of Blue Jeans. He got some books and studied the psychology of the fair sex till he thought he was a past master picking out a partner. How often we heard Judge Cox of Crothersville laugh about Uncle Jess and his books on women. " And after all that study and self-conceit," said the Judge, "He did land a tartar."
Poor man - she married him for his money. She was a gold-digger; we say now-adays. His stinginess made her furious. Lord have mercy, how she would bless and abuse him. Alas, she was a regular hel-cat. Uncle Jess would come over to his brother's and stay until bedtime. "Jus' waitin' for the ole hussy ter quiet down." But when he went back, you could HEAR, if you couldn't SEE, the roof coming off. She was indeed "a woman with the serpent's tongue." Life became so unbearable that poor Uncle Jess was at his wit's end. He advised with Blue Jeans and Judge Cox, who was then a young lawyer on the Salem Circuit. They admonished him to walk and talk warily and to read Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew." But he came back in due time to tell the preacher and the lawyer that, "Shakespeare stumped him more than the ole hussy he was hitched to." He wept bitterly in Lawyer Cox's office while discussing the ways and means to get unhitched, as he expressed it. But he didn't like to "give in," and he knew that a divorce would mean to "give out." So he was between hawk and buzzard, as Uncle Jess would say.
"I have an idee," he finally said to Judge Cox. But he wouldn't tell what it was. "I'll report to you next court-day comin'." With that he disappeared. It was his own "idee," sure enough. He wouldn't even trust the unerring wits of Blue Jeans or Lawyer Cox as to this original "idee." That was Uncle Jess's trouble. So he went home and when the "ole hussy" turned loose on him again, he feigned deep melancholy. He just let her rave and rant. Strange, too, for she was a handsome woman. Bachelor that he was when he married, Uncle Jess had an eye to beauty. "She wuz a good-looker even if I does call her an ole hussy." This he said to his attorney. And there was actually grave suspicion that Uncle Jess did love her deep down. She could be as pleasant, yea, verily, as fascinating as any woman when company was around. And both Blue Jeans and Judge Cox, who even then, as a young lawyer, was a past master on human nature, woman's nature, if you will, saw this pair playing the memorial game of love and sex with each other. It was a matching of wits and Uncle Jess was learning the truth of the poet's words, "The female of the species is more deadly than the male."
His "big idee" was to threaten suicide at her next tantrum. She watched him closely. Even the storm of her wrath subsided. He thought she was overawed. So he slipped out to the barn and put a flat box for a platform from which to bump himself off into eternity. He took a mule bridle with a long rope halter to it and stretched it over a rafter above. He divined that she was following him, for he saw the gleam of the lantern. Finally, when he was aware of her close proximity, he sighed aloud. "Here Goes." She was peering through the crack, and answered with irony: "You'd make a pretty-looking son of a gun, goin' to hades in a blind-bridle."
This must have struck some hidden sense of humor in Uncle Jess. He DID love that woman, even if, "She were a hussy," as he admitted to Attorney Cox on further consultation. Something took place after that shock to the emotions of both. She was frightened, but she would not admit it. There was even an unconfessed pity for the victim of her abusive tongue. She was yet a very young woman, only just past thirty. She was a brunette with wonderful eyes. Her form and features were like a full blown rose. She moved with ease, grace and self-possessed. She was quite intelligent. She was a school teacher. She had never married because she always wanted, "To do better." Men were mad about her beauty. They adored and addressed her with broken hearts, but she was neither a flapper or a flirt. She could sing like an angel and act like a devil, people said in the U B Church, to which she belonged. And it was sensational when Uncle Jess, a bachelor of sixty began to pay his addresses to her. Ridiculous, people said, "The ole fool. She's a marryin' uv him for his money."
She may have had, "An eye to the main chance," as we say. But this bachelor of sixty was as well preserved as a man of forty years. He had never abused himself with women. He was temperate. He had put love aside a long while because his mother kept house for him; and when she died, Uncle Jess did look around, and the beauty and desirability of this comely young school teacher, Mirian Martin, stole in on him unawares. He wathed her in the choir for some time. He had no hope, for other beaux abounded. But when she did not seem preempted his courage arose to call upon her. He was a masterful man. He was a tall, well-knit, sturdy type. He was close and stingy, but there was something fine and courteous in his bearing. Yes, it was sensational to see them together. What has gone before in this little humble story was outward appearance. People thought Uncle Jess was merely looking for a housekeeper and that Mirian Martin was, "Marryin' the ole codger for his money." The explosion that followed was not unexpected, except in it aftermath. This giant of sixty years was still an adolescent in the love of a woman, and this comely young school teacher was herself just awakening to the call of the elemental passion. Their emotions were deeply stirred that night when Uncle Jess feigned the bump-off business. A reaction followed immediately. They were in each others arms by the time they got back to the house. There were tears in her big dark eyes. Those lovely bosoms heaved with suppressed emotion. And this big giant siezed her with a consuming adoration. Heaven broke loose where hell had reigned before. It was their first real honeymoon. It was what someone calls, "The explosive power of a great love." And when a beautiful little babe was born less than a year later Mirian and uncle Jess were the happiest couple in Washington County.