October 20, 2020
Whole Number 192
MEMORIES OF BESSIE (RODGERS) PETTUS
[Editor's Note: As we noted on page 5433 of the present issue of the Quarterly, it was Louise Pettus of Rock Hill, South Carolina, who provided the family records enabling us to compile the above article on Thomas Sparks (1816-1863) and many of his descendants. Ms. Pettus is a great-great-granddaughter of Thomas. Her mother, Bessie Katherine (Rodgers) Pettus, recorded some of her memories in February ruary 1993. Ms. Pettus has shared these with the editor. As shown on page 5438, Bessie (Rodgers) Pettus was born in 1904. We believe that our readers will find these memories to be interesting. We begin with her memory of Camp Meetings at Belair Church in Lancaster, South Carolina.]
I first attended camp meeting at Belair Church, originally called Mount Arrarat, around 1910 or 1912. My grandparents, Marion DeKalb and Adeline Josephine Rod gers, lived near the church.
My grandmother Rodgers said she helped to cook breakfast for forty people who had come from her old home at Catawba in York County to camp meeting at Mount Arrarat. People would come in wagons with their children and stay overnight. The men would sleep in the wagons. These wagons were loaded with chickens, eggs, food, quilts for the children, and feed for the mules. Some that lived near enough would go home for the night, leaving their wagons and buggies at the church. They would unhitch their mules from the wagons and tie them to trees in the woods.
Services were morning and afternoon. If they had a night service, they had to have lanterns in the trees to be able to see to get around outside.
We had a lemonade stand and sold it for 3 cents a cup. After camp meeting was over my grandmother would sweep up corn spilled by the mules for her checkens, and I would hunt for pennies in the sawdust where the lemonade stand had been. I have been a member at Belair for seventy-seven years .
I also would ride the train to Catawba Junction with my grandmother Rodgers to visit the John Sparks family. We would stay a week during the summer. They had a small store and house near the railroad track. Cousin Nannie would meet the train each day with lunch for the conductor, engineer, and fireman. I would help her carry the tea, sandwiches, fried chicken, and pies as the train stopped to pick up food. Seeing the trains daily, you learned to love the sound of the whistle, the rumble of the wheels, and the men as they waved each day to us children.
Marion DeKalb Rodgers was in the Civil War. He slept in the snow in Virginia. When he woke up he was covered with snow and there would be a little hole where he breathed. When I knew him, Grandfather had a beard. He had a little short beard in his earlier years. Later he had a large beard. He was of small to medium height and had pretty blue eyes. Josephine [Bessie's grandmother] was probably about 5' 2'. She had brown hair and brown eyes. She wore her hair twisted in a bun on top of her head.
Once, Grandfather Rodgers said he was going to spank me. I hid under Grandmother Josephine's apron. I had laughed out loud and he told me to be quiet. I laughed again, and when he started after me, I ran to the kitchen where Grand mother was making bread. The next day they took me home in the wagon. When they left, I was back in the wagon.
Pat Rodgers Murphy has M. D. and Josephine's Bible. Each night I read the Bible Grandmother Josephine gave me. She asked me what did I want that belonged to her. I replied, 'Your Bible.' This was said to Grandmother after M.D. 's death (after she moved in with us up on the hill). She said she wanted her son, James Mitchell Rodgers, to have the Bible. She gave me $5.00 to buy a Bible which I have today. I bought the Bible from a mail order firm in 1921.