My Cooper Legacy
My Ancestral Legacy
 

RobertWilliam Pattison
By his daughter, Telitha E. Pattison Cooper
Dated October 1941
 
    My father, Robert William Pattison, was born November 22, 1847, at Qalla, Georgia. His first name was Robert, alter his father, but he went by the name of William. My mother called him "Billy". He was a small man with a light complexion and golden hair, and beautiful blue eyes. He was a very nice looking man, with a kind look about him. He wore a size seven shoe and had very small hands. He never did any work with them to make them grow until after he left Georgia and went to Florida.
    Papa would not brag of his strength, because he was not a great big stout man. As I said before, Papa was a small man, but he was able to do a great many things and he did all that his strength would let him do.
    Papa was a jolly man. He lived to be 79 years old and he still could see the funny side of life. In fact, he never did "grow up". (I think she meant to be dour, heavy faced, and grumpy.
     He had a high quick temper and in his younger days he drank. He quit drinking long before I can remember.

A Civil War Soldier
    He entered the Confederate Army when he was fifteen, to fight for the South in the Civil War. He was very small for his age when he entered the army he was treated as a mascot. During a fight or battle the men kept him behind them, where it was safer.
 
An Overseer
    After the Civil War he became what they called an overseer for his Uncle Henry Boatwright, who owned a plantation. Today he would be called a foreman or manager.
His job was to supervise the men who worked in the fields. As an overseer, he did little of the actual labor himself He rode a horse over the plantation to see that the men who worked for him did the work right.
 
After the Civil War
By Nellie N. Olsen Ostler
    Most of the people living in the South were in very bad circumstances financially, because this was the time just after the Civil War. Everyone in that area was trying to get back to normal. The state of Georgia had been the place that a lot of battles of the war had been fought towards the end of the Civil War.
   Many farms had to be fixed before crops could be grown for food or for cash. Fences had been torn down when the soldiers and horses went across the fields. Buildings had been torn down so the soldiers could use the wood for to quickly build bridges, or to fix wagons, or to be burned in order for the soldiers to cook their food.
   Many animals had been killed by the men in the army for food, or the animals had run off when the fences were torn down and the gunfire had frightened them. Some of the houses had also been burned or torn apart. Of course, trees and other shrubs had also been burned, or through neglect, had died. Many buildings and houses in the towns had also been damaged along with the farms.
    So much had to be done before the farms could produce food again. Sometimes the soldiers had dug trenches to hide from the other soldiers when they were shooting at each other. So, these trenches had to be filled in again. Crops had to be planted. Fences had to be repaired. Some animals could be found again after running wild, but many farmers had to purchase new animals.
    Most of the people were having problems because of a lack of money. There was a lot of work to be done, but the people who needed the work done didn't have much money to pay anyone to help them. A lot of the men who had farms or businesses had been in the army, and because they weren't there to take care of them, their farms and businesses were not doing well when they came back, or had been burned down or otherwise destroyed. In fact, a lot of these farms and businesses had been sold so the families of these men could have money to buy food and clothing.
Yes, these were bad times for everyone in Georgia.
 
Emmaline and Billy
By Telitha E. Pattison Cooper
   Robert William Pattison married my mother, Emmaline Mason Ann Waller, on January 11, 1868, at Blakely, Georgia.
   At this time, he started out for himself. He stopped being an overseer for his uncle's plantation, and had a cotton plantation of his own. He must have rented the plantation, because there is no record of him buying any land.

Papa and Mama

By Telitha E Pattison Cooper
   I know that my father loved my mother very dearly because it was his love for her and his desire to be the kind of man that she wanted him to be, that he left Georgia and moved to Florida where he had to do common labor instead being an overseer of his own plantation.
   The story I am going to tell here is one that I did not know until years after my mother died. Papa confided it to my sister Mary and me. This is what he said:
   "Children, the reason I am working for myself instead of being an overseer and seeing that the other men work, is because of my religion and for the sake of my wife and children. We overseers had a club and at this club we drank and told wild, dirty stories. And some of the group would steal chickens, watermelons and many other things.
   "It was hard for me to go with the crowd and not drink. Of course the other things I never partook of so they did not bother me. I stood it for a few years, but they all made fun of me to my back. They knew better than to make fun of me to my face.
   "Then I heard of Florida and what a money making country it was, so here I am. Making lumber was the chief industry of the country and I could not boss that because I did not know how. So for the sake of my wife, who is an angel now, I went to work under a boss and have done common work every since."

Training Horses
By Telitha E. Pattison Cooper
    Now I will tell you about his horse training. When he was a young man, his Uncle Henry contracted to train a lot of horses, so of course he sent for Billy. Mother was very worried, but papa was not. So papa chose the Negroes he needed to help him and started to train the horses.
   One of the horses seemed uncontrollable. So the man who my father's uncle was training the horses for, told them not to bother with that horse because it did not have any sense anyway. Papa said if he would give him a certain length of time to train the horse, he would drive it around "the square" without reigns to guide it. I do not remember the length of time given him to train the horse but I imagine it was a fair enough time. The man said that he would give papa $100 if he could train the horse.
   "The square" was a square space, like a small park, in town. Of course, the whole town was excited about it all, and they had "the square" well guarded.
   When the time came. Papa hooked up the horse and with a long whip in his hand he got into a two wheel racer and cracked the whip. He had no reigns or lines whatever to guide the horse. At the crack of the whip the horse started around the square. At each corner papa would crack the whip and the horse would turn. Then when he arrived back at the starting place, papa said, "Whoa!", and the horse stopped.
Papa got the $100.
 
"Me Won't Hab it Now"
By Telitha E. Pattison Cooper
   My baby sister Kate, when about nine months old, had a bad habit of asking for something and when you got it for her, she would not have it. My Aunt Mary was staying with us at this time.
   Kate was just old enough to lisp out what she wanted. One day, she said, "Me want water, me want water, me want water." Aunt Mary would take her out to the bucket of water and get her a dipper of water. Then she would say, "Me won't hab it now, me won't hab it now," repeating this four or five times. Aunt Mary was very patient with her.
   One day, Papa was in the adjoining bedroom and upon hearing all this he walked outside and broke offa big four-o'clock bush. Coming in the house he said, "Sit that child down."
Aunt Mary said, "Oh Billy, she wants a drink."
"Sit that child down," Papa repeated
    So, Aunt Mary sat her down in the middle of the room. Then Papa began to hit the floor with the four-o'clock limb. They bush branches are jointed and as he hit the floor the joints broke off' and began to fly into the air, never hitting the child.
   I guess it scared the stubbornness from her, for she never did that again.
Kate was called Kitty Jack Melendy. Her daddy called her "Contrary Jack Malenda."

Florida
By Telitha E. Pattison Cooper
   When I was about eight years of age we moved from Georgia to Florida. Some of our friends had gone to Florida and had written to us wanting us to come also. When we left Georgia we left everything behind. We only carried our suit cases.
   The first work that Papa did in Florida was to boss a sugar mill, but after the sugar season was over he had to do common labor. It showed that he was made of good material to come down from manager of his own plantation to do just common labor for someone else. And it also shows just how much he loved his wife and family, even if he did not show it much in every day life.
   But I also know that some of the reason for his success was in the constant prayers of my mother that her Billy would do all right.
 
Life on a Homestead
By Telitha E. Pattison Cooper
   Papa thought that he would go out East of Seneca and take up a homestead and be a farmer, and then he could be his own boss. The government gave homestead land to people who would go live on it, build a house and plant the land. So, we moved way out in the country on a homestead. There was already a shack on the place where others had tried the same thing. This place was called Blackwater, (later is was called Casher). There was no town, just other homesteaders.
   We did not have any money ahead, and we were a family with six children. We lived on very little. Mother raised a patch of sweet potatoes.

Shingles
By Telitha E. Pattison Cooper
Papa knew something had to be done. He went out into the cypress swamp which was near by on our place and "rove" shingles. By "rove" I mean that he sawed the cypress trees down and then sawed them into 18 inch blocks. Then he split the blocks into shingles. Shingles are about eighteen inches wide and about eighteen or so inches long. They were split very thin. He then had to smooth the shingles with a draw knife. Shingles are used to finish a roof on a house, or other buildings, so the rain would run off rather than into the building.
My sister Mamie (Mary), my brother Dennis and I all helped. Dennis' and my job was to carry the finished shingles up out of the swamp.
     We had a nice lot of shingles. But now the problem was: how was Papa going to get them into town so someone would buy them? Papa struck out on foot to find (borrow or rent) a team and wagon to haul them into town. I was sick and Kate was sick while Papa was gone to sell the shingles.
    Mama knew not where he would find a team, for it was a long ways back to Tavares where he came from, and all the horses there were busy hauling lumber.
  Well, one week passed. All the food we had was flour. We had run out of oil for the lamps.
  Two weeks passed. Still no word from papa. I was very sick and we were miles from anyone.
  Then, one night we heard a wagon rattling, what seemed like miles away and a man singing as loud as he could let his voice shout.
  My, what a happy family! All but me (because I was too sick) went to meet him. I just can remember it because I was so sick.
We were all so happy. Papa was safe.
  We were also happy because there would be no more darkness, for papa had brought coal oil with him.
  The first thing he did was to fill a lamp with the coal oil, and it was soon lighted. Then a fire was made. And then we got to cook all the good things that papa had brought for us to eat. While we were eating, papa told his story.
  I walked up to that old rich contractor, Kelly, and asked him for a team. Kelly looked at me and said, "Can you manage a large team?"
  I said, "It does not take a large man to manage a team. If anyone can manage a team, I can."
  Mr. Kelly continued, "I have contracted for some work to be done, but two of my men have left me. If you will do the plowing for me, I will let you have a team."
  Now, Papa's mind was on his wife and he knew that he had no way of letting her know how long he would be gone. He also knew that he had to have food for us children. He agreed, and went to work.
  As soon as he was paid, he went to the biggest town nearby, which was Eustis, and loaded the wagon with good things to eat and that we needed.
Papa loaded the shingles and sold them. No family could have been happier.
 
The Raft
By Telitha E. Pattison Cooper
  At that time, the principle industry in Florida was lumber, so Papa went to cutting logs for a saw mill. After the logs were cut, they had to be rafted across the lake to the sawmill. Papa made this raft by nailing the logs together with planks, or boards as we call them today. Then he would stand on the raft and with a long pole push against the bottom of the lake to move the raft of logs and make them float the way he wanted them to go. As I remember it, the logs were about 20 feet long and it was something like 40 logs nailed together to make a raft.
   At one special time that I remember, he was out on the lake with a raft when a hard storm came up. Mother and all of us at home prayed so hard for him and his raft to be
brought safely to the shore. He was out in he middle of Lake Dora and the storm was so bad it tore the raft to pieces. But he never gave up. He kept nailing the logs together again and again as they fell apart.
   The whole town was down to the lake with spy glasses and field glasses trying to see what was happening to him. But the storm was so bad that they could not tell which of the logs he was on, or even if he was still there at all. He finally came in on a small raft with about half the logs he had started with. As I said, the whole town was there and they complimented him on his courage.
Again my mother's prayers were answered and helped to save him.
 
Courage
By Telitha E. Pattison Cooper
   Papa was not afraid of any one, or any bunch of men. Two men named Drawdy and Pike planned to kill him. Now, there was only one way to cross a certain swamp and they knew that he was going to cross that way. So they planned to kill him there.
   Papa saw them ride into the swamp. As I remember it now, Papa was armed because he knew that they had threatened him and he was prepared.
   Well, Papa rode right on into the swamp. As he came near to Drawdy and Pike, Drawdy got on one side of the path and Pike got on the other side. Papa kept riding until he was pretty close to them. All the while, he never took his eyes off'them. He was close, but not close enough for them to grab the bridle reigns of the horse.
   Then, suddenly, he jumped from his horse. The guns were in his hands by the time his feet hit the ground. He boldly told them that one of them was his meat, and if they were
not very quick, both of them would go. They begged off.
   After a few moments, he shrugged and told them to mount their horses and ride ahead of him - but to be sure to keep their hands high and away from their guns. He drove them into Mt. Dora, Florida, and turned them over to the authorities.
   Some people called him a bluff because he never did kill anyone, but no one would try him out for fear that he meant what he said. He was not only fearless, but was known as an excellent marksman also.
 
A Prayer under the Stars
By Telitha E. Pattison Cooper
   My sister Mary and I had a habit of going out and looking up at the stars after our evening work was finished. One night we were sitting there looking at the stars, not saying anything, when Papa came out. We were quite a ways from the house and he came quite near us. He seemed to be in some kind of trouble for he looked worried.
   He knelt down to pray. I cannot remember the words nor the problems, but he prayed out loud and cried like a child. I had never seen him cry before. We dared not move, for fear he would hear us. We felt we would be intruding into a sacred moment. It seemed to us that he prayed for hours and then stayed there a long time after he had prayed. We dared not move for fear that he would hear us and know that we had heard him. It was then that I realized that Papa was a prayerful man.
 
This is a little rhyme my father taught me when I was a young child:
 
"Tobacco is a filthy weed
'Twas the devil sowed the seed.
It burns your pocket, scents your clothes
Make a chimney out of your nose."
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