These recollections by Beulah Marie Burks are based on an interview conducted by her daughter, Patricia Burks Ruiz, in June 2002
Beulah Marie Burks was born March 11, 1921 at her grandparents house on a farm originally settled by her great-grandparents, Benjamin L. Wooden (died Sept. 21, 1879) and Nancy Wooden (died Jan. 16, 1894). There used to be three houses on the property: a log house, another house and the one her Grandfather, James Henderson Wooden (1855 - 1942) built after he married her Grandmother, Nancy Jane Miles (1863 - 1930) in 1880.
That house is the one that still stands on the property today. When her parents, William Jackson Burks and Leatha Edith Wooden, were first married, her Father farmed his Father-in Laws farm on the shares. Her Mother’s health was not good though and they gave up farming. They lived in Kansas City for a while and her Father worked in a shoe factory. When the shoe factory closed during the depression, they moved back to one of the houses on the farm until her Father could find work.
I remember Grandad telling how he had to walk 10 miles one way to work when they started up the WPA. The first thing he did when he got a paycheck was to buy a Model T car.
Beulah’s family moved around a lot when she was young. Besides the WPA, her Father worked as a hired hand for different farmers, so they moved to where the work was. They lived in Blue Mound for about a year in a rented house on the main road and she attended school there for that year (in 1932, Beulah was listed as an eighth grader in the Blue Mound School).
She doesn’t remember many of the people except Merle and Martha Hooten who were about her age. Merle later married Edna Alice Long, the Sister of Beulah’s first Husband (Patricia’s Father), Kenneth Eldon Long. Beulah also remembered that there was only one Church (Mount Hope) on the west side of the main road, the school and a grocery store.
There were many family members in the Blue Mound area. Aunt Lillie B. (1885 - 1957) and Uncle Clarence Christmas (1883 - 1958) lived across one field to the northeast on the other side of the road from the Wooden home. Aunt Cal (Callie E. Ramming: 1889 1956) and Uncle Ben Ramming (Benjamin G. Ramming: 1889 - 1963) lived across another field the other way and closer to Blue Mound. Uncle Wiley and Aunt Tressie and Uncle Mike and Aunt Sally lived near the home place and Uncle Tom lived at Dawn. There were many Cousins and many family gatherings at her Grandparent’s home. Aunt Opal and Ilene lived with their parents and took care of them until they died. Beulah said that her Grandmother always set in the same chair. She even slept in because she had “dropsy” and couldn’t sleep lying down.
As young people, they used to have what Beulah called “play parties”. They would gather at someone’s home and play games and dance.
Beulah remembered the hilly, curvy roads and what a challenge they were to the cars. Aunt Lillie and Uncle Clarence had a car that would sometimes stall going up the hill. Aunt Lille would ride with the car door open, brick in hand, ready to jump out and put the brick behind the tire to keep the car from rolling back down the hill if the engine quit.
Grandpa Wooden had a sorghum mill in the back field. The horses were hitched to a wheel and turned it round and round squeezing the juice out of the sugar cane. After the juice was all squeezed out, it was boiled in a long shallow metal pan over an open fire to make molasses.
Beulah’s father tried to teach her mother how to drive once. Her mother got nervous because the car, a Model-T, was going too fast, so she just threw her hands up in the air. The car went into a ditch and she never drove again.
When they lived somewhere between Dawn and Blue Mound, her mother would get up early in the morning, mix up her bread dough, and off they would walk with it to her parent’s place. By the time they got there the bread dough had risen and was ready to be put in the oven, a wood stove which was all heated up when they got there (boy does that sound good or what!). This was a regular social event in the family and all the ladies would work and visit while the bread baked. Opal and Ilene were still using the wood stove in the 40s.
The cousins were always good friends growing up. They played together, went to school together, and Beulah and her cousin Ruth Wooden got married together. Beulah married Kenneth Long and Ruth married Ed Long January 11, 1940. They had a private wedding in the pastor’s home and no guests were present. Afterwards, they had a shivaree (a reception party where guests play jokes on the bride and groom).
Note to readers: Senior author, Joe G. Dillard, would appreciate receiving any suggestions you have for corrections or any other information you have about Blue Mound, especially photos, diaries, or other artifacts. Those may be sent to: Joe G. Dillard, 3535 West Arbor Way, Columbia MO 65203 or DillardJ@missouri.edu.