News - from the past & the present

A personal story about life in 1866 Opp, Alabama



J. E. Hughes

(Transcribed from The Opp Messenger (Opp, Alabama) September 2, 1921 published by Mrs. J. C. Foster, editor)

I married my first wife two miles on the south side of Lake Jackson on the 26th day of April, 1866. She tucked up her apron and took her knitting and our bridal trip was a two-mile walk home. The first thing she die was to get dinner. After dinner we stripped off the old roof and put on a new roof, the old way, the boards were four feet long. We put them on without nails and put weight poles on top of the boards to hold them down.

Poor are trying to live as if they were rich.

Our good time was spent in going to work. The pleasures of my life was to do and have something in my old age. God has blessed me and given me something to live on in my old age. Another pleasure of my life is to be able to live and help other live. The good Lord has given us a talent and I feel like I have improved my talent by these blessings he has given me. The great trouble today is that the poor are trying to live as if they were rich. That won’t do.

Started a store

I had to go up to Andalusia to court. The only way to go was to walk. I served all the week and they paid me off with county script. I went to Mr. Salter, a merchant, and told him that if he would pay my board bill I would trade out the balance with him. So he did. I bought some needles, pins and thimbles and tied them up in a handkerchief and walked home. I put them in a box and started me a store. I and My wife went to Lake Jackson, gathered some moss from the trees and made some mattresses. I carried them to Milton, Fla., sold them and got some powder, shot, caps, and lead to sell in my store. In this way I went on and got as much as $150.00 and went to Troy, Ala., the last of January. With the money I bought a general assortment of goods that are needed in a thinly settled country like this was at that time.

I built a log storehouse

I had built me a log house with a eight foot piazza on the front side and made me a storehouse on the front porch. Here I put all my goods and sold that year $1,500.00 worth of goods which I hauled and made my crop all myself, with my wife to help and babies to care for and cooking and washing and ironing all done by my wife. This is the way we started out in the world to make a living. If you will do this and believe in the good Lord, and put your trust in Him, He will do the balance for you. “Blessed is he that endureth to the end for he shall inherit eternal life,” so says the good Book of the Lord.

Split rails to make a fence

When I came home out of the Civil war, I had but very little as you see. I went to a neighbor who gave me an axe. With this I split rails to fence me a field. I got my neighbor Jordan to haul the rails around the field to make the fence. I worked two days for one to pay him for hauling the rails. That was the only way I could do.

In the summer my corn gave out. I walked eight miles to a neighbor’s and borrowed a team to go to Milton, Fla., to get a sack of corn for bread. I traveled 60 miles each way and paid two ferrages, $2.40.

Some of my friends say to me, “No wonder you made a success, you had no opposition then.” I say “No, no, opportunity then either, but to-day is the time to start if you want some thing.”

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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