From Joppa to Daukuskie Island
While on a weekend trip to Daukuskie Island, South Carolina, and just by chance, Matt Smith and wife Marty Smith of Livingston wandered into a studio with a catchy name, Silver Dew Pottery. While browsing in the shop, they had the opportunity to meet the owners, a couple named Lancy and Emily Burn. Lancy is a self taught potter and established the Silver Dew in 1996. His creations include intricately designed fish platters, oyster dishes, coffee mugs and serving bowls - all made with Daufuskie Island sand. During their conversation, Matt and Marty discovered Lancy has ties to the Monroe and Alpine area of Overton County. After getting back home, Matt send me an email telling me about meeting Lancy and a little bit about some of the things he learned about Lancy’s mother. I contacted Lancy and after corresponding back and forth several times by email, I was amazed to find out that not only did his mother grow up here, but she was the granddaughter of John Calvin Smith (or Dugan Smith as he was known by). Several years ago, I did a story about the Dugan Smith home and now, with the help of Lancy Burn, I will share bits and pieces of a story his mother wrote for her children about her growing up years in the Monroe and Alpine area. Here are some selections from the story of Billie Kay Smith-Burn:
This photograph was taken of Billie Smith-Burn in Columbus, Georgia in February of 1934.
My parents’ names were James (Jimmy) Blain Smith and Vertie Gratus Ramsey. Mama’s parents’ names were Benjamin Campbell Ramsey and Sara Jane Ledbetter Ramsey. Daddy’s parents were John Calvin Smith and Eliza Jackson Smith.
Grandmother Ramsey was born January 28,1860 above Monroe, Tennessee. She said that her mother used to wear hoop skirts to church. If it happened to be a stormy day, the ladies would take off the hoops and shove them up the chimney so the lightening wouldn’t strike them. The hoops were little metal frames, and the skirt just slipped over the frames. The women believed that lightening would be drawn to the metal, so they did what they thought would prevent lightening from striking them by taking the hoops off and putting them in a place that wouldn’t be dangerous.
Granddaddy and Grandmother Ramsey lived in a log cabin above Monroe.
Grandmother once told me that in 1865, Yankee soldiers came through
their yard and would build fires to stand by and get warm. Grandmother,
who was around 5 years old at the time, would walk among the soldiers
and some of them would pick her up, for most men had left their little
girls at home and they missed them very badly. But what they did not
know was that she had measles and gave them to all the soldiers. She did
her part to win the Civil War.
Granddaddy also ran a store that was across the road from where they lived. People would bring their eggs to give to granddaddy to pay for things they wanted to buy. Granddaddy Ramsey was a real smart man. He was also the Magistrate, a hick-lawyer and he invented some sort of lock. Mama did not know just what kind of lock it was. He also played the violin – which was given to me in later years and I have. I can still hear him playing "Turkey in the Straw" on his 1700 violin. He raised lots of corn for the animals and chickens and had plenty of good vegetables for the table. My mama played the guitar for barn dances. Granddaddy thought the North would win the war and would probably give pensions to those who served. So, that’s what he did – joined with the Yankees.
Another building on the farm was a gristmill where Granddaddy Ramsey ground corn into meal and wheat into flour. He did not charge for this service but received meal and flour for the grinding. There were two other interesting buildings – the smoke house and the outhouse. Hams and shoulders of the pig were covered with salt and lots of black pepper to keep the flies, etc. away from the meat. A low fire was kept burning in order to cure the meat. The fat white meat was cut in smaller pieces – covered with salt – and let season for weeks and months. When grandmother needed a piece of ham for breakfast, all she had to do was cut off a hunk of meat as was needed. Pork lard was used for cooking and baking. We all ate enough of it to kill us. My grandparents raised chickens and geese. Goose feathers filled their feather beds and pillows. They also raised pigs. When a pig was killed, grandmother took the lungs, liver (she called the liver "lights") cooked them together with onions, which made a good stew – but I would not eat it.
I never saw so many apple trees on the farm.
There were June apples, Rusty applies, Horse apples and apples I don’t
even remember their name. Grandmother would peel, cut up, and dry in the
sun gobs of apples. She made the most wonderful "dried apple" pies.
There was a nice garden of corn, beans, peas, cabbage, beets, onion,
rhubarb (for pies). What wasn’t eaten was put in glass jars for the
winter. Cabbage was used mostly for sour kraut made in wooden barrels.
Some of the cabbage was left in the garden – then covered with dirt to
keep them from freezing. In that way fresh cabbage could be cooked in
(Writers Note: In 1922, Billie Smith’s family moved to Columbus, Georgia, where she later met and married Lance Burn, the son of an assistant lighthouse keeper for the Bloody Point light station. Billie and Lance moved around to several different locations during their marriage that included Savannah, Georgia; Panama City, Florida; Daufuskie Island, South Carolina; Charleston, South Carolina; Pensacola, Florida; Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; and eventually settled back in Daufuskie Island, where they lived out their lives. They had three children, June, Robert Lance (Lancy); and Gene. Lance Burn had many occupations during their marriage and also served in the US Army. They once had a small fish store, and for a period of time, Lance worked for R.J. Reynolds as captain of a towboat. He later got a job on a sea going dredge; worked for company that plastered stucco homes; owned his own shrimp boat, and lastly bought a boat to haul passengers to and from Savannah to Daufuskie. Billie’s story concludes with the following paragraph:)
Our business grew from 1959 to 1965 when we closed down. In 1963 I
became Post Master (retired in 1984). About the same time, I started
driving the school bus which I had bought, and took about 23 black kids
to Mary Fields School. I was also Registrar for births and deaths. Lance
was magistrate for 11 years. He also was the mail carrier –he brought
mail from Bluffton and later from Savannah. We both retired from the
Post Office in 1984 because of Lance’s health. He died April 6, 1989 and
is buried in Mary Dunn Cemetery on Daufuskie Island. I have written two
books; the first one was "Stirrin’ the Pots on Daufuskie" which is a
history – cooking book and the second one "An Island Named Daufuskie".
Billie Kay Smith-Burn passed away January 6, 2008, only three weeks before her 91st birthday. I have the complete 22 page story written by Billie Kay Smith-Burn and will be happy to share it anyone who would like a copy.