Sun

16

Mar

2014

Delta Dreaming

The farm we own in the Delta is in north Lonoke County. It is part of a large area in northern Arkansas from which land grants were awarded to the veterans of The War Of 1812. Most sold their land and never saw it. Our farm has been in the ownership of Brenda's kin (or off-kin) since before the Civil War.

 

There is a legend that Civil War soldiers once camped in a spot that we call "The Grove." When we acquired the farm, large oak trees of well over 100 years in age graced The Grove, along with discarded farm implements and assorted artifacts. The last few winters, along with old age and disease, have been tough on the old trees, however, and most have now succumbed. We plant new ones but may never sit under their shade.

 

In 1952, a tornado swept through area, claiming the life of a young boy who lived on the place. We remain friends with his sister, now in her 80s. Government assistance helped rebuild a barn, shown below. It replaced the one that was destroyed. It serves as a reminder of that sad day.

 

The house we have adapted for use was built in the 1890s and still serves us well. The entire farm comprises 123 acres and I walk the perimeter at leat once a week, except during deer season—a reasonable person does not wander aimlessly through the woods of the Delta during deer season.

 

My writing began as an attempt to record some of the memories, tales, and outright falsehoods that permeate the land. It is a place where people still talk directly to one another, and the truth can and does get boring.

 

One true story, and a sad one, involves Brenda's maternal grandmother. She, her husband, and five children moved to this house around 1939. The following year, Anna Lynn (Bennett) Welch was chopping wood when a piece flew into her head. Several weeks later, she took sick with headaches but neglected to tell the Doctor of the accident. He stated the cause of her death as "unknown" and told the family that it was probably complication from "the change of life," as it was delicately called in those days.

 

Times were hard in the Delta back then and, for some, it remains so.

 

The father reared the five kids by making and selling sorghum molases, also—according to local legend—whiskey. We place some faith in this legend because his "still" remains in the attic to this day.

 

This is where we care for Hazel (Welch) Cole, Brenda's mother. We divide the time between here and downtown condominium in Little Rock. More on that another day.

 

It is a wonderful life and we feel so blessed.

The old farm is falling to the ravages of time.
The old farm is falling to the ravages of time.

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The von Tungeln Family Tree
FamilyTree.pdf
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