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  • DUNBAR

    VOTING DAY WAS GREAT ENTERTAINMENT
    AND THE OLD ELLIS PLANTATION


    By Mrs. Elizabeth Ellis Simmons


    " I remember a time in my childhood when voting day was the most exciting day of the year. The voting precinct was on the Pickensville Road (now Highway 69) a few miles southeast of Columbus. My mother, Mrs. Robert E. Ellis, ran a general store and post office in the building where the voting took place. It was before the days of Rural Free Delivery and the post office bore the name of Dunbar, Mississippi. Before the Civil War, Dunbar had also been a trading pest and stage coach §top. The coach came from Mobile, Alabama, through Eutaw, Selma, and Aliceville, then turned east to Columbus. It made an overnight stop at Dunbar.

    On the voting day which I remember so vividly, everybody on the place was up before daylight because voters on mules, horses, in wagons and in buggies began to arrive even before the polls were open. Possibly I was only six or seven years old, but I remember clearly the color and excitement of that day. Though only the men voted, many of them brought along their families and made a holiday of the occasion. Coming to spend the day, they brought picnic baskets and spread "dinner on the ground" in a large grove of pecan trees. They got their water from a deep well with an "old oaken bucket", near which my father had a grist-mill, a cotton gin, and a blacksmith shop. It was a profitable day for the store, as cheese, crackers, and stick candy were much in demand by the voters and their families. It was in this blacksmith shop that my father had built the first buggy he ever owned. He had put it to good use in courting my mother, J. Helen Stone, who lived fifteen miles away in Pickensville, Alabama. The Ellis place can be identified today by the few remaining pecan trees, some of which are over 100 years old. My grandmother, Elizabeth Weaver Ellis, started those trees by planting them in flower pots. The Ellis place, on the right hand side of the road going from Columbus, is a short distance this side of the F. M. Vaughan place, which is on the left hand side of the road. Weaver House

    The Ellis plantation, originally 1000 acres extending up and down Ellis Creek, had been a legacy to my father from his father who came to Mississippi from South Carolina in the middle 1800's. For many years the neighborhood was known as "Old Zion"; today it is known as Murrah's Chapel community. The home, built by my grandfather, was a two-story structure in Dutch Colonial style, with four brick chimneys, two fireplaces to each. The first floor which we called the "basement" was built of brick molded on the site from native clay. The second floor was of clapboard. The sills of the house and of the Negro cabins on the place were of heart pine grown on the plantation. The hip-style roof was covered with hand hewn cypress shingles. Most of the rooms on the ground floor were work rooms - one of them my father called the "saddle room". There he made shoes, saddles, and harness from cow hides tanned on the place. Once a year my father took oats and wheat he raised to Jemison's Mill near Caledonia. I remember the dark rich whole wheat he brought home from the mill. I recall seeing the old candle molds hanging in a basement room and my father's cradle hewn out of a solid tree trunk, as were some of the chairs, and the enormous bread trays, which my mother as a bride used for chicken troughs.

    Though we then used only kerosene lamps, my mother used some bee's wax and mutton suet to show us how the old candles were once made. I still own a rustic rocker my father made of hickory wood with the bark left on, but other relics of the old home have slipped away."


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