When James Truman Powell was born on October 27, 1913, in Carroll County, Arkansas, his father, Robert, was 30 and his mother, Gertrude, was 22. He married Julia Frances Rudd on June 21, 1936, in Carroll County, Arkansas. They had five children in 10 years. He died on October 22, 1997, in Carroll County, Arkansas, at the age of 83, and was buried in Green Forest, Arkansas, Pickens Cemetery.
The truth is I did not really know my Uncle Truman. He was a quiet man. In their last years to work for wages, Daddy and Uncle Truman worked for the same man and lots of times they worked together. I never recall Dad saying a bad word about his brother, Truman, and I am sure Truman did not speak poorly of Dad. Once they were mending a roof for their boss. They were both on top the house climbing up to fix the leak. Well, the ladder fell over. They were both over 60 and knew it would not be wise to jump to the ground. They just sat and joked until someone came looking for them and resat their ladder.
From Truman's Sister Winnie--1993
Truman was a quiet, easy going kid. For some reason Pop favored Willis over Truman and believed Truman got as many whippings as the six of us totaled, but I can't remember Truman ever criticizing Mom or Pop or any of the rest of us. It seems he had and showed more love for all of us than anyone in the family.
Truman didn't finish high school (S of O). He came back home and managed to buy a saddle and managed to buy a saddle horse. His social life was curbed by how far he could ride that horse (Ole Red). He married Frances Rudd. They had 5 children.
Below is part of a letter Truman wrote to his Dad in California in 1925. Melton Powell went out to check out the state and pick fruit to make extra money. He did not come home with a dime! And he decided California was not a state that had good schools. He would stick with Arkansas.
Sister Patsy tells about the letter--this is only one side of it.
Truman wants to go hunting the opossum and his mother won't let him go alone or with someone name Price. Notice in Willis' letter they were trapping rabbits. These went on the family's dinner table. I don't think they ate opossum because they feed on dead animals but their mother might had cooked them if they needed the food. The hide of opossum could be sold for cash.
My father told how he and Truman always hunted the opossum and skunk for hides. At that time there were no raccoon in Carroll co. Arkansas. Truman would be 12 years old in 1925.
From Sister Patsy
While Daddy was in the service we lived at Denver Arkansas across from my grandfather's (Gaddy) garden. at first there was only mama , Richard and me then in 1944 nine months after daddy was home on leave Clayton was born.
Many times the 3 of us would walk down long creek and spend the day with Truman and Frances and their boys.
We children loved to run and play like wild Indians and we always had a good meal because Aunt Francis was best cook that ever was.
I remember crying not long after daddy was gone while we were at Truman's and my uncle ask me what was wrong and I said I don't have a daddy anymore, I was 5 years old at that time. Uncle Truman told me that he would be my daddy until daddy came home.
Uncle Truman milked cows for a living and he had a cement trough behind the cows for the cow manure to fall in, every time you put a cow in a station to milk her she surly will have a bowl movement.
That trough was always full of green cow manure and we all liked to play hide and seek in the barn. One time Jimmy slipped and fell while running for home base which was part of our game.
That boy was covered with manure from head to toe. Needless to say Jimmy had to have a bath in the wash tub with cold water. aunt Francis was not happy.
The barn had a loft and above the loft were these rafters way up in the air, Donnie was always a dare devil and he would climb up on these 2by4s and walk them. He would be walking the plank 12 feet in the air and I knew he would fall and kill him self. I would beg him to come down and of course he stayed up there longer to spite me.
One time aunt and uncle were in Denver shopping and they invited mama and us home with them to spend the night.
Uncle Truman had a green ford truck with a stock rack around it and we children were riding in the back
Donnie was Playing he was a cowboy with a horse and telling us big tales like he always Did. as we came in sight of the house me, jimmy and Richard lost interest in Donnie tales and face forward in the truck..
Donnie went to the open gate which was forbidden for us to do. when we got to the house and jumped out of the truck aunt Francis noticed Donnie was missing.Truman found him unconscious laying in the road, They took him to the doctor and from there they went to grandpa Powell where Donnie finally regained consciousness.
We had to go home and we didn't get to play any that day.Donnie's fault as usual.
Donnie and jimmy grew up on long creek fishing and playing all summer long. They would catch bull frogs on the creek and aunt Francis would fry them.I think they grew up in a pleasant place and were happy children. I know Richard and me were always happy when we got to go to uncle Truman.
Me and Jimmy started to school at Denver together.Our teacher was Cleo Jackson. we were issued spelling books and told to learn the first assignment. I looked at the book and couldn't make heads or tails out of the words and I suppose jimmy was in the same situation.
The next day Cleo called on me to spell my words and I couldn't, neither could Jimmy . Cleo took us up on the stage and whipped us with a belt in front of the school. I always felt that Cleo was wrong to do that because he had failed to show us what we were suppose to do.
Across the road from uncle Truman's house was the well and a big walnut tree grew there. There was this big flat rock and we would crack walnut and get our belly full. I never saw that rock without a pile of walnuts. Aunt Francis used the walnuts in her cakes and cookies.
Aunt Francis like to tell ghost stories. She would have us gather around her at night and tell us some ghost stories. I don't remember being scared by her stories.
Truman and Francis both read and there was always books and magazines in their upstairs room. I would slip up there and read every chance I got. I read God's little acre and forever Amber in the upstairs. both books were considered risque and of course I wanted to read them and did. Aunt Francis always had a stack of modern romance magazines up there and I read them also, Uncle Truman leaned toward westerns and there were always a ready supply for me to read.
My memories of those golden days are still with me after all these years. No children had a better childhood than we did.
From Sister Patsy
Before world war II we lived on a farm at Carrollton AR. Daddy's brother Truman lived below Denver AR. This was some distance to travel in the wagon or sometimes daddy would go visit alone on horse back. Uncle did the same. one day daddy was visiting Truman. Uncle had 6 cats in his barn and daddy didn't like cats and never had one on the place. Daddy told his brother you need to thin out your cats. Truman said I like them, father went around to ever neighbor and gathered all the cats that he could. After 2 weeks he had 30. On a day when uncle was in town daddy paid Truman a visit with a sack filled with cats. He released the cats into his brother's barn weeks later Truman came to visit. He said he had so many cats he didn't know what to with them. Truman said I have tried to count and I think I have 45.This spring I am going to order 100 banty chickens. You can only get staight run which will be 40/60, 40 pullets and 60 roosters. When I can sex them I am going to visit my brother on a day when I know he is working . Clayton is going to have an increase of roosters.
Above Truman with two name sakes--Jim Reed and Jimmy Powell!
Below is Truman, Willis and Floyd--brothers
Powell family lined up in birth order. Truman Powell looks like the Powell family. Willis looks like the Maples family and Floyd more Maples look than Powell.
Uncle Truman --1960s I would guess.
My father's older brother was a soft spoken man who had a quick dry wit. Many time I have heard him speak and move on while you would be thinking what did he say?
In dad's last working years he and Truman worked together for a man who they grew up with and who had played with them as children. This man was breaking state law by not paying unemployment insurance on his employees. My father and his brother knew the laws of our country especially if this law was for their benefit. One day this childhood friend/boss called all the men into his office and begin to talk to them. He said now men times are hard and things are ruff and I have to cut back on wages. I really hate to do this but times are hard and things are ruff. I have found it necessary to lay off the following men, Truman Powell , Willis Powell and John Smith. Now I am sorry about this more than you know but times are hard and thinks are ruff. Dad's brother said in this soft voice he always spoke in, that "ok, boss we can draw unemployment." Their employer said "no, you can't draw unemployment because I don't pay unemployment." Uncle Truman said "Well, we can try." No one was laid off ,after all times were hard and things were ruff!
Jimmy, Donnie, and Frankie Powell
It was only day before yesterday that Richard and me ran and played with these 3 pictured here. I was thinking last night as I lay in the bed unable to sleep about gone by days and the happening of our youth.
The little fellow setting in between his brothers was named Donnie . Donnie was full of life and prone to get into trouble often dragging the rest of his cousins present along with him. Uncle Truman had a razor strap which was often in use on Donnie's behind.
One spring day Uncle and Aunt came to shop at Denver in Uncle's green truck. When They started home they invited Mama , Richard and me to go spend the night. with them.
We were excited enjoying the prospects of a day at play with our cousins. Uncle Truman drove a green ford truck with a rack and we loaded up in the back with the cousins for a exciting trip down the dirt road.
The Powell cousins had been some where to see a move staring Gene Audry and Donnie was telling us the movie plot and about riding champ the famous Audry horse as usual Donnie was excited and tell big stories about he would jump on his horse and gallop down the road out running Uncle Truman's truck.
We rounded the bend in the road and the home place was in sight, We turned and was looking over the cab of the truck towards the house loosing interest in Donnie's tall tales. Truman brought the truck to a halt beside the old walnut tree and we baled out ready to start our day of play when we noticed Donnie was not with us.
Uncle ask us when we last saw him in the truck and we said just past the bend in the road. Aunt Francis was screaming and Uncle Truman was running down the road and for once we children were silent awaiting news from the horse back rider of the purple sage.
Then we saw Uncle returning with a freckle face unconscious Donnie in his arms. They took Donnie to Green Forest to Doctor McCurry and he sent the frighten parents to Grandpa Powell's home to awaited the out come of Donnie's troubles.
In that day the closest hospital was at Little Rock Arkansas and that was why the unconscious child was put to bed at Grandpa's home.
Grandma told me later, because we children had been left at home with mama , that she was setting in a chair by her bed where Donnie lay dead to the world and when he came to he looked at grandma and said "Ma". Grandma said it was the sweetest word she had ever heard.
Donnie recovered without any side effects that we could see, He still was loud and always getting into trouble dragging us along with him.
I look back on that day of the worst trouble we could possible imagine and consider all the things that have descended on us in our old age and think if we had only known the trouble we would see we might not have been able to go forth from that day. The Bible says the evil is sufferance unto the day meaning we know not the trouble we will see and it is good that we don't know of it.
When my brother Richard and I were young our greatest joy was traveling to Uncle Truman's farm to run and play with our cousins Jimmy and Donnie. They were like us in that they were apt to act like wild Indians most of the time.
One golden day is tucked away in my memory and it shines and glitters like a piece of gold.
The cast being Jimmy who as he informant me every chance HE got was the oldest grandchild being 2 whole months older than me. As I remember we were about 8 years young that summer . myself being the only girl and this was the last year I was allowed to join the boys in their play. After that summer they decided I was "a ole Gurl" and boys didn't play with girls.
As I said there was Jimmy with his dark hair and Donnie the younger child with freckles spread across his snub nose being even young than my tow haired brother, RICHARD who was one year younger than me being born in October 1939 and I rounding out the gang of four was the skinny blond headed girl child that who after that year was locked out of the boys play time cause boys don't play with girls. EECCeE!
So that year is precious to me because I was still allowed to play with the boys.
One summer day we were standing around on uncles yard trying to think of some adventure fit for 4 young adventurous bare foot children .
Parked in the yard was uncle's Truman's hay rake . the day before he had brought it in from the hay field having finished with the summer hay season.
Hey, Donnie said I know where we can have a lot of fun just like they do in the circus. We can ride the hay rake, will we soon discovered that riding the rake was a lot of work and only two could ride while the other two had to play being a team of horses. The horses part we soon discovered was not much fun.
Jimmy said he knew how we all could ride at the same time with out the aid of play horses which was fine with me because I had noticed that I was being drafter more often as the horse.
This was Jimmy's plan, we all would be horses and we would pull the rake down the road about a quarter of a mile and turn in uncle's hayfield where he had failed to shut the gate when he finished the day's work the day before.
Down road we pull and pushed the rake hoping that aunt Francis would not notice our departure because she was the one who usually stop our plans.
We arrived at the field turning our machine in the gate we discussed how this would work. Jimmy decided the best course of action was that he and Donnie would hold the tongue of the rake which is the part the horses are hooked too make the rake go.
You and Richard, jimmy said to me will push from behind one at each wheel until we get it going fast then we all will jump on and ride.
Ok that is what we did. we were moving down the hill at a pretty good clip when jimmy yelled NOW, get on which we did. hanging for dear life because we had not realized just how fast a rake could move on a steep incline.
The hot wind was drying the sweat from our brows and about that time the tongue of the rake rammed into the ground raising the part of the rake we were on a good 3 feet in the air and then down we came with a crash that Jared out teeth. and away we went again the tongue having broke free with the crash as we came down., after the second time the tongue ramming in the ground it crossed my mind that maybe jimmy's bright idea might not be so good after all and we could get hurt on this wild ride.
never the less all we could do was hang on and scream. Finally we reached the foot of the hill and we jumped off shouting with laughter. as we looked back up the hill which we had just rode down it dawned on us that our fun was over and we would have a lot of work ahead to get the rake back in the place where uncle had left it.
We discussed the matter and the boys said we will just leave it here and go back to the house since it was nearing dinner time and no one wanted to miss aunt Frances fine cooking least of all me. It crossed my mind that Truman might be upset when he discovered his rake missing but I reasoned that with any luck he wouldn't notice the fact until we were gone home and if he did express his displeasure by handing out corporal punishment I wouldn't be party to his displeasure and Donnie and jimmy's fate was not my concern. we went on our way Laughing and telling each other how great the ride had been and what were we going to do next. I know Donnie said lets go and walk the rafter in the barn. The rafters are real high in the air and it is just like being in the circus walking the rafters Donnie declared but I will leave that story for another day and bid you good night..
From Sister Patsy--2012--She is ill at this posting.
I have been bad since last Friday, my wound has been flowing constantly but today finally it has stopped so I am rendering lard again. I rendered two buckets Saturday and then couldn't do any more . After this I only have one more batch to do and then I am finished with pig fat. Fleta has posted our census and I am on it twice , once with mom and dad then down at the bottom of the page. Every 13 person was ask more question and I was no 13 but of course I was one month less than 2 years so I didn't answer questions. I just smiles my sweet smile. Virginia , Your family was still living on the smith place just past grandpa's house when the census was taken in April 1940. Truman was 26 years old and your mother was 23 years old.Jimmy was 2 and Donnie was born in Feb, 1940. Truman lists his occupation as farmer. Fleta has Jimmy's birthday falling in April, Helen said and I say he was born in March will you send me a email of your family's birthday? Grandpa list Thelma and Winnie as living at his house. I read that you listed everyone that it was their primary residency and I think because Winnie and Thelma were not married he listed that as their home. Betty and Floyd were there also but I think they did live there.
Note by Betty Renfroe--Jimmy was born March 13, 1938--From Daddy's Bible written by Grandpa Melton Powell. Guess Fleta was wrong for a change.
Powell Reunion about 1965
Recipe From Aunt Frances Rudd Powell