Editor’s Note: The following excerpt is from the memoirs of Neel S. Yent, born Oct. 7, 1896 near Whiskey George. Yent recorded his life memories at the request of his children and grandchildren.

Our Chasing Shadows question this week is: Does anyone know the exact location of the Gibson Dairy?

If you do, please call the Times at 653-8868 or email Lois Swoboda at lswoboda@starfl.com

 

East Bay’s Gala Wedding Event

During the years I have lived at East Bay only one wedding took place throughout the entire area and the anticipation for the arrival of the day and this gala event ran rife throughout the countryside. Tom Creel and Aggie Tucker were two highly respected and well-liked individuals and the romance between these two was “low-key” for a while. It was first noticed when they began sitting together in church and when the preaching was over they would hold hands as they walked to their buggy. But Cupid, not to be denied, appeared with his little bow and arrow and a full blown romance developed. The wedding was announced to take place on a day in late November (I don’t remember the date) and everybody was invited to attend.

There not being enough room in our little church to nearly accommodate the crowd it was decided the wedding ceremony would be performed beneath a large oak tree at the bride’s home which was situated about 100 yards from Sand Bank Creek. The day for the long-anticipated wedding arrived and the entire Yent family made the long trip to the Tucker home by boat. When we arrived it seemed that everybody in the entire countryside was there, children included. Time for the ceremony was twelve noon and the crowd was assembled in a semi-circle beneath the large oak. Then the wedding party emerged from within the house, the preacher leading the way followed by the bride and groom, the family and attendants. The preacher began the ceremony with a loud diction: “Brothers and sisters, we are assembled here for this solemn occasion,” etc., and I could see some of the ladies dabbing their eyes with handkerchiefs. However, the emotion and solemnity was suddenly displaced into nervous tension. Just as the preacher came to the part to ask the groom, “Do you take this woman to be your wedded wife,” an old sow with six pigs following her came nuzzling along and stood, grunting, between the preacher and the bride and groom. Then, horrified silence, until a little girl, Alma Wing, yelled ‘SOOIE’ at the top of her voice, “Get away from there you old hog.”The grown-ups remained in dignified silence but the “younguns,” including myself, couldn’t be restrained from laughing heartily.

After the sow and pigs were dispersed, the wedding ceremony over and the “hugging and kissing,” ceased, Tom Creel announced to the crowd that, “Tonight we’re having a big “inception” (he meant reception) at my house at Creel’s Still followed by a square dance and everybody’s invited.

After completing the usual evening chores, the Yent family piled in the wagon and headed for Creel’s Still for the reception. I think everyone who attended the wedding was there and having fun. Both food and lemonade were plentiful, but no “hard” drinks. The square dance lasted until midnight. The band consisted of a fiddle and banjo, Tom Freeman played fiddle and Lee Robinson banjo. They only knew two tunes, Coon Dog and Redwing, but these two tunes prompted plenty of dancing and ‘stomping.’ It really was cold that night and when we were ready to go home, the wagon bed was covered with frost. It was a day pleasantly remembered and talked about long after. The last time I heard about Tom and Aggie they were happily married.

 

Passing of the Yent Homestead

One afternoon in August 1912, Papa having just returned from town came down to the field where I was hoeing potatoes. At that time I was almost 16 years old. He said, “Son, I have some news to tell you. Let’s go to the end of the row and sit in the shade by the fence.” The news I soon received almost threw me into a mild shock. He told me that he and Mama were going to sell the home place including all land to the Creel Brothers and all the cattle to Cleave Neel; and were going to buy Ben Gibson’s dairy farm inn Apalachicola and we would move there. This dairy farm comprised of 40-acre farm and a sizeable herd of dairy cattle that supplied the town with its milk requirements.

Sitting there beside Papa, trying to absorb what he was telling me, my mind quickly flashed through past years bringing memories of all the happy times that we, as a loving family, had enjoyed living together in a home we’d all been born and reared in. However, when Papa had told me in detail why he and Mama had made this business decision I began to realize that for the benefit of all, it was the wise thing to do and he explained something I’d never in my youthful mind thought about. He said, “Son, you must realize all the children except you and Jack are grown up and on their own and it’s just you and I left to take care of all the farm work and cattle and hogs and that’s just too much for us and I can’t hire dependable help to keep things in order.” Then he said, “Remember, Son, it won’t be too many years before you’ll be grown up and out on your own.” You know I’d never given that a thought and perhaps it’s better that young folks don’t think of such things.

 

The Day I Shall Never Forget

Shortly after noon, September 12, 1912 all of us walked toward the landing where Creel Brothers’ large boat, the Covington, piled high with all our belongings was ready to begin the journey to town incident to our beginning a new and different life. Our boat was too small for an assignment such as this. We left nothing behind but an empty house, barn and happy memories. The Creels helped us in every way possible in the rigor of our moving. In addition to furnishing their large boat, they sent two wagon teams and plenty of help to transport everything to the dockside and load it on the boat. And “everything” included crates of chickens, turkeys, geese and guineas. Papa and Angus Morrison led the two horses and the mule and they were the last to be loaded. My assignment was to bring along old Tige, our favorite hog dog, who was on a leash. When Tige and I reached the lane on our way to the landing and departure, I stopped, turned and for a few moments looked back at the old house in which I had been reared and spent so many happy days with our family. Suddenly realizing that it had ‘housed’ me for the last time, a flick of sadness came over me. As Tige and I resumed our trek to the landing I had the feeling of walking away from a cemetery in which a loved one had just been interred.

The trip to town with the Covington’s two engines churning the water took about one and a half hours and our arrival drew a sizeable number of spectators who probably thought Noah’s Ark had just docked. The dairy farm owned a large two-team wagon and it was there waiting for our arrival. We soon had our wagon unloaded and hitched to Old Charlie. In due time all of our worldly belongings were transported and in place at our new home –the Gibson dairy farm, one half mile from the town limits—signaling the beginning of a new life for us.