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Recollections of a Gardner Cousin

Sarah Elam Gardner. Sarah was a a very industrious woman. She and Rufus went through the hard reconstruction days after the Civil War with great courage. They reared seven children and worked very hard on their beautiful farm in the rolling hills of the Piedmont section of North Carolina. It was before the days of sewing machines and Sarah spun thread which she wove into cloth, and hand made all of her children's clothes. She would start in September, work every night until midnight, and by Christmas, she would have a woolen suit made for each of her five boys and little wool cloaks for her two little girls. She made soap from lye. There was an ash hopper in the back yard and wood ashes were kept in it until she was ready to turn it into soap. All of the food for the family was grown on the farm and in the vegetable garden. She loved flowers and was known for her garden which occupied one end of the vegetable garden. Rufus built her a very artistic green house in the yard and during the winter months the grandchildren would peek through the glass at the lovely plants. She had many friends and was a good neighbor.

Leroy Gardner. Leroy was a very handsome man. He was very dark, had brown eyes and wore a mustache with a "Gay Nineties" twist. He was best remembered for wearing a navy blue serge suit with a vest that sported a gold watch chain across the front. Pocket watches, large in size, were worn at that time. He always wore a sailor straw hat at a rakish angle. He was a man of many talents and in the 1890ís he owned and operated a cabinet shop in Fallston, North Carolina where he and his family lived. His place of business was known for making mantles, doors, and "gingerbread" trim for the new homes that were built in the area. He and his family moved to Concord, North Carolina in the early part of the 1900ís where he lived until his death. He had a wonderful, inventive mind and invented a stove that would burn crude oil. In order to finance the project, get a patent, and get it on the market, he took in several men as business partners. Unfortunately, they reaped the financial benefits and Leroy , whose brain child it was, got nothing at all. He was also a professional photographer and itís been said got arrested once for taking indecent photos.

Sylvanus(Vanus) Gardner. Sylvanus was a happy, jolly person that loved a good laugh and a good joke. He was a good man and a very kind man. He was an excellent neighbor and always ready and willing to lend a helping hand to those who needed it. He and Aunt Mandy (Amanda) took good care of his parents and nursed them through their last illnesses. Vanus was a good farmer and was the first in the neighborhood to plant his crops in the spring. His hobby was growing watermelons, and he grew the biggest, best and juiciest in the community. When cold weather came, he was very much in demand to butcher hogs in the area. It was a talent that not every one had, but he was an expert and was very skillful with his butcher knife. He was a very active member of the Pleasant Grove Church. He had a good bass voice and sang in the choir, and he was always a close friend of his pastor and was usually the first one to have a new pastor in his home for a meal. Like his three brothers, he sported a mustache. He had blue eyes and dark hair and was of medium height and build. Eventually, he bought a home in Shelby, North Carolina and was active in his church there as long as he lived.

Virgil Anderson Gardner. Knowing Virgil was a rare privilige. He was a farmer, teacher, deacon, carpenter, leader. He was known for his wonderful memory and it was often said of him that he had more information at his fingertips than any man in Cleveland County. Virgil was an avid reader and remembered what he read. He was also known for his honesty, his truthfulness and his fine Christian character. He was very faithful and loyal to his church, Pleasant Grove Baptist, and served 50 years as deacon. He taught Sunday school class for 56 years. He had a beautiful tenor voice and sang in the choir as long as his health permitted. He had no formal training in music but played the violin and mandolin. Virgil taught in the public schools of Cleveland County for 39 years. His years teaching covered such a long span, he even taught two of his children. One of his many hobbies was carpentry and with some help he built his own home in 1896 before he married. Virgil's 84 years were spent in serving others.

Bayliss Ferman Gardner. Ferman was the youngest of the Gardner brothers. He was of medium height, had dark hair and blue eyes and the one one without a mustache. He loved the land and was a successful farmer. He also had a very fine orchard and garden. He was a "do it yourself" man and if his house needed a new room, he would build it himself. If his barn needed a new addition, he would do that. Sometimes these projects were not always artistic or properly done, but they served their purpose and seemed to please him. He loved blue,--bright, brilliant blue! And his house was always painted white and trimmed in blue. Also his porch and yard furniture, and sometimes even his farm machinery was blue! The family always called his favorite shade "Ferman blue." He was somewhat of a "loner" and did not socialize like the other members of the family. In his early years, his farm was about one mile south of Pleasant Grove Church. When his father died, he sold his farm and bought his father's house with a large portion of the farm. He moved with Julia into the ancestral house and spent his remaining years there.

Letty Mae Gardner Hamrick.. Mae was a pretty woman. She had fair skin and black hair and brown eyes. She was a very energetic person. She kept a beautiful house as long as her health permitted, and she was a good cook and took great pride in storing up food for her family. Her pantry held jars and cans of fruit, jam and jellies which she prepared with great skill. Mae also set quite a table. Breakfast was ham, eggs, sausage, biscuits, potatoes, pancakes, jams, jellies, honey and, of course, pie. When quite young, she taught school at a country school east of Shelby North Carolina. It was here that she met and married Hudson Hamrick. He was a farmer and they built a nice home which is now occupied by their son, Gordon and his family. Mae was very talented in sewing and she made her own clothes and those of her children, two girls and one son. She always added extra touches, --tucks, lace and buttons and always ruffles. She must have loved ruffles for the long, cotton flowered dresses she made for her mother usually had a wide ruffle around the bottom and pockets, --there were always pockets. Although her husband was a Methodist, Mae never moved her membership from Pleasant Grove Baptist Church and once a month she came back there for worship service.

[--Mozelle Gardner McCraw, Daughter of Virgil Anderson Gardner,July 1977]