Nashville History

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Monday, January 16, 2012

My Daddy


My Daddy, Ernest Oeser and and his brother Robert, lived on Pond Creek near River Road, in Cheatham County, TN for a few years around 1930, along with their parents and other siblings. They also spent many summers at Pond Creek, visiting with grandparents George Koen "G. K." Davis and Virginia "Jennie" Olinger Davis. Daddy was kin to just about all of the families that lived around there, either by blood or marriage.

When Daddy was a little fellow, his Daddy bought a chance on a pony. To his childrens delight, he won it. The family lived in Nashville at the time, so the pony was carried to Grandpap (G. K.) and Granny Davis's place on Pond Creek. Some years later they sold the pony to someone in Nashville. They had no way to get it to town other than to ride it. Papa Oeser (my grandfather)went down in his car with Daddy and Robert riding along. He decided the boys would take turns riding the pony while Papa Oeser followed along in his car. The pony didn't want to walk so Grandpap insisted on walking along side to lead the pony and to watch out for whichever boy was riding. G. K. Davis was about 70 years old at the time. He didn't drive a car and walked many miles each week to get to wherever he needed to go. He walked beside that pony from Pond Creek all the way up River Road to Charlotte Pike, then in Charlotte Pike and over to Centennial Blvd. They continued into Nashville on Centennial and Jefferson Street. Only after they crossed the Jefferson Street Bridge to North First Street did Grandpap get into the car to ride the few blocks left to the Oeser home on Pennock Avenue. Grandpap walked about 20 miles that day. He was born on Pond Creek in 1858 and lived his life there until he died in 1932.

After Grandpap died, Granny Davis moved to Nashville to live with her daughter Ruth. Granny was born in Alabama in 1862, and died at her daughter's home on Pennock Avenue in Nashville in 1955. Granny Davis was a midwife and she delivered many Pond Creek area babies and doctored lots of folks and a few animals with her home remedies. I remember being told that she delivered twins that weighed more than 16 pounds together. She had "receipts" (do you remember that word being used instead of recipe?) for cures and poultices and plasters. She used teas made from sassafras and other roots and tree bark to treat various ailments from fevers to high blood pressure. I don't know what catnip tea was supposed to cure but Granny made it for some problem my Mama had once. She used coal oil, vinegar, and turpentine. Paregoric, camphor, Epsom salt, suphur and alum were commonly used as medicines. She could also make warts disappear.

One time a neighbor asked Granny to treat a sick mule. The mule was down and couldn't get up. Granny made up some kind of elixir and told the neighbor to pour the mixture down the mule's throat. She said the mule would either "get up or die." After forcing the mule to drink, the owner stood back. The mule stated moving and managed to get up on his legs. He started out slow then begun to run and went around the yard in a circle about a dozen times and fell over dead.

Granny said that the seventh son of a seventh son could cure warts, stop bleeding, relieve burns and had other healing powers. The healer would whisper a secret phrase and touch or rub the affected area. A seventh son would pass on his secrets for cures to his seventh son. If he did not have a seventh son, he could pass his secrets to a woman of his choosing. Maybe that is how Granny learned to cure warts.

I don't know if Granny used all of these but here are some remedies I have heard of. I'm not suggesting anyone should use these old cures. Some of them might kill you instead of curing you. Don't forget about the mule. Consult your doctor when you are ill and follow his advice.

Snuff or tobacco juice on a wasp or bee sting would draw out the poison and stop the pain. Mud plasters also were used for stings. Clove oil was used to ease a toothache. For an ear ache a drop or two of warm mineral oil or garlic oil was used to stop the pain. A piece of raw pork fat was used to draw out a splinter from under the skin. Dirt daubers nest, crushed into a powder, was used for diaper rash. A poultice made from the same was a cure for boils. Fuller's Earth, a powdery clay like substance was used on diaper rash and also for acne. Cobwebs were used to stop bleeding. For a sprained ankle, a paper bag soaked in vinegar and wrapped around the ankle, was supposed to ease the pain and speed healing. A hot toddy made with whisky, lemon juice and a little honey or sugar mixed together and added to hot water was supposed to cure colds. It certainly made a person feel better. For a chest cold, camphorated oil was rubbed on the chest and covered with a warm cloth. I seem to remember that you would be in dire circumstances if you let your oiled chest get cold.

I found this cure for sore throat on the internet; Mix one cup vodka, one tablespoon of oil and the juice of one lemon. Gargle with it and then drink. Your sore throat may not be cured but it will be forgotten about for awhile.


Boyhood recollections in a letter from F. Charles Uthman to Ernest Oeser - 1980

Nov. 21, 80
Dear Ernest

Ruth called and told me about your situation and that you were thinking about the Uthmans'. Thank you for that. I, too, think about the Oesers very often.

I think about the old days when we were kids and played and shot marbles and all those other things we did in and around 1022 and 1017 Pennock Ave. Then, too, I remember the great times we had at Grannys place on Pond Creek. Winter nights when we warmed our fannies before the fireplace and then jumped in the bed in a cold room and shivered until the feather beds (ticks) got warm. Feeding the hogs, eating green apples in the summertime. Going to the spring with the milk buckets. The sink holes and the slate in back of Granny's. Swimming in the nude. Riding the mule bare back. Eating fried chicken and fried apples. And always that covered dish of blackberry jam and cold bisquits on the table for inbetween snacks. The snake you put in your pocket and scared the hell out of Thetus White. Paul & Gladys. Hell, there is nothing I don't remember about the old place in the country. Oh, yes, the ash hopper where Granny made the lye soap. The churn we dashed for butter, the big iron pot your mother washed - boiled clothes in. The chickens and dogs under the house. Those were the greatest days of my life and I cherish all the memories. Your Mother and Father were great people and with all the kids of their own they always seemed to find room for me. I am sure you also have some fond memories.

May God bless you and help you get well and live a ripe old age.

Love Chas Uthman


[Note - The letter writer, Frederick Charles Uthman (24 Oct 1915 - 30 May 1996) as a young boy, was a neighbor of the Ernest Oeser, Sr. family in Northeast Nashville. The Oeser's lived at 1022 Pennock Ave. and the Uthman family at 1017 Pennock Ave. The Uthman's moved to Russell Street in East Nashville about 1927, but the boys remained lifelong friends. The father, Otto Uthman was a furniture builder, trained in his native Germany, and his two sons Charles and Gert, under their father's watchful eye learned to build and restore furniture and became accomplished craftsmen.

Ernest G. Oeser, Jr. the recipient of the letter was, at the time, a patient at Vanderbilt Hospital and was very ill. He was a son of Ruth Ann Davis and Ernest G. Oeser, Sr. His grandmother, "Granny" Virginia Olinger Davis, lived with her husband George Koen Davis on Pond Creek. "Paul and Gladys" Hicks were first cousins to Ernest Oeser, Jr. They were children of Bennie Rebecca Vick (daughter of Virginia Olinger Davis by her first husband Collier Vick) and Will Hicks. Bennie died when they were small and they lived with and were raised by their grandmother Virginia Olinger Davis.

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