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The Past Rises Before Me

May 12, 2012 • 0 comments • 2112 views

A Brief Biographical Sketch of Dove Edwards,
by Imogene Edwards Parks, circa late 1940's/early 1950's


Turtle Dove Edwards was the youngest of five children. As a girl, she had a fair complexion, black hair, was bright-eyed, athletically formed, with a loveable and sweet disposition. Becoming a beautiful and very popular young woman, she was about five feet and five inches tall and weighed about one hundred and forty pounds and is now very good looking in spite of her sixty years of age.


She is an offspring of that rugged and sturdy stock of pioneer people, who conquered the wilderness and converted it into blooming fields and meadows and orchards, who built homes, towns, cities, and railroads in Arkansas. Her father John N. Tomlinson, was born at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on the tenth day of May 1827. His father came there from North Carolina. In the year 1829, the family settled at Akron, Independence County, Arkansas, and there John N. Tomlinson lived and grew to manhood. In 1854 he established a home for himself, about two miles from his father, and in that home he lived the rest of his life, and the land he settled on became the city of Newark.


In 1862, at 35, he married Nettie Reeves, a daughter of Jonathan Reeves, a noted pioneer of Independence County, Arkansas, of that union five children were born, viz: Mary, who died at the age of 18; Hardford, a son who died at the age of six years; Blackhead, who married Abe Gossett; Mide who married James Morgan; and Turtle Dove, the youngest, who married Wilse A. Edwards. During the Civil War, John was in the Missouri Raid, got sick and became nearly blind, came home, and never was able to return till the war was over. He was a member of the Christian Church and was baptized in Thomas Creek near where the Hiway Bridge is now. He was a great Bible student and knew much of it by memory. He read Josephus, a Jewish historian, and other historical works and had a knowlege of medicine, gained from experience and medical books that he had read. He gave the railroad company a two hundred foot wide right of way across his land and, in turn, they built him a depot on the same site that it now stands on in Newark.


John N. Tomlinson, John Hineman, County Surveyor, Bob Gossett and Turtle Dove Edwards, the subject of this sketch, surveyed and laid out the Town of Newark in the year 1883. Bob carried one end of the surveyor's chain, and Dove carried the other end of the chain. John N. Tomlinson cleared up his own farm, built his own house on it, and there he lived till November 15, 1908, when he died at the age of 82 years. He carried on farming, stock raising, operated a horse-powered cotton gin and was a merchant and Postmaster of Newark in Cleveland's first administration. He had numerous experiences in early life. At 12 years of age he had a hand-to-hand fight with a wounded bear on the island, and at age 19, he had a similar experience near Fairview.


Everybody who owned property in Newark traced their title to him. He once owned it all. He bought from the government.


While at home on furlough, he went over to Dave Arnold's to learn when the expected Union army would come and had no more than asked for the news than one of the boys in excitement cried, "There come the troops!" He ran out and mounted his rone race mare and slapped her with the bridlerein.


And like a streak that race mare strode

Her shoes knocked fire from the rocky road

Hault, you Reb, the foremost trooper said

Hault, or your blood will be on your head

He heeded them not and not in vain

He lashed his mare with bridlerein

In spite of four shots, down hillside steep
He ran and gained on the troops at every leap
That high bred race mare ran as only she could
Until her master was safely hid in the woods

The Union army camped at Akron for three weeks. They killed all the hogs, sheep, cattle and fowls that John Tomlinson had. They robbed the bees, and ate and carried away all the honey and broke the bee gums to pieces. These gums were made of a hollow log and were about three feet long. While the army was there, John kept hid out. John N. Tomlinson was a good man. He did many a deed of charity. He was always sorry for the poor, and he would help them all he could. He had many friends, and when he died, Newark the Town he caused to be made, closed all the stores and schools and went to his funeral. Turtle Dove, the subject of this sketch, said, "I am glad that I have lived to put my dear father away in a nice and becoming manner and to be able to mark his grave with a nice monument, made out of Batseville Marble, the kind of marble that he most admired. He rests in Blue Springs Cemetary, a plot of land he reclaimed from the wilderness."


Turtle Dove Edwards, nee, Tomlinson, at the age of 15 years, married Wilse A. Edwards, a member of substantiated and progressive family of Newark, Independence County, Arkansas. Of this marriage four boys were born, viz: Claude, Clyde, Clifton, and Charles. All are husky and thrifty and intelligent. Cliff is a superman in physical strength, and Charles is a superman in business and finance and has natural talent for music, which he inherited from his mother, who is naturally a fair musician. The boys are all married and all except Cliff, live in California. Cliff lives in Newark, Arkansas.


Incidents in the life of Turtle Dove Edwards, nee, Tomlinson, are best told in her own language, as she told it to the author of this sketch, and it is as follows:


"I was born in the old home of my father, John N. Tomlinson, in Newark, Arkansas, Independence County, on the 20th day of July 1872, and I lived there till I was 15 years of age, at which time I married Wilse A. Edwards on the 24th day of November 1887, at the home of my sister, Mrs. Abe Gossett. I had three sisters, viz: Mary, who died at 18 years of age; Mide, who married James Morgan; Blackhead, who married Abe Gossett; and one brother called Hardford. He was very smart for his age. He was next to the oldest child. He would get up at four o'clock in the morning and go down and help to feed the old horse-powered, hand-fed cotton gin and was always trying to make himself very useful. He died at the age of six years. The cotton gin stood where the Morg Drennon house now stands, which was about three hundred yards from our dwelling. The power machine had long-projecting levers, and horses were hitched to these levers and pulled them travelling in a circle.


When I was six or seven years old, I drove one of the horses to the gin. I would get tired of walking after the horse, and my father made me a board seat on the lever, and I would sit up there and drive old Ball the gentle old family mare. One warm afternoon I went to sleep and fell off my board. Sister Mide, who was driving a double team behind me, scared badly, hollered "Whoa!" at the teams, and they stopped after they had passed over me. That stopped the whole mill. Father picked me up and found that I was not at all hurt, but by this time wide awake, he placed me back on my seat, and I drove the rest of the evening but was careful not to go to sleep anymore.


My mother died when I was six years of age and after that my father was both mother and father to me. We four girls had to work and help father make a living. Father was very foolish over me because I was his baby girl. I was fond of outdoor life, and I was very fond of livestock. I was at my father's side all the time helping him with whatever kind of work he might be doing.


And oft together the two pals were

Many the arts he had taught to her

She had hunted by his fatherly side

He had taught her how to work and ride

And once had said, 'The time may be

When I'll need you to care for me'

He loved her dearly as only a father could

Because she would help him when no others would


I helped drive an ox-wagon and haul rent corn from Mud Creek. I had to pass through town in front of all the stores. When I got to be a big girl, I got ashamed to drive my ox team through town. I would hook my oxen to the wagon and haul wood. I was coming through town one hot day with a load of wood. My oxen were thirsty and wanted water. They saw the water in the town branch and ran for it. I surged on the line that was tied to the horns of the lead steer and hollered "Whoa!" but to no effect. They plunged off a bluff bank into the creek wagon wood and all followed. I kept my seat on top of the wood. That didn't fall off. The oxen drank then pulled the wagon out on the other side, and I drove them home and told father about it. He laughed.


I have ridden my father's race horses. I have exercised them on the race track at Batesville. Sister Blackhead and I, about the same size, camped at Batesville Fair with father for two weeks. He had a stable of six or seven race horses there. He carried off four blue ribbons that year which meant four premiums of several hundred dollars. There was a race track not far from Newark, down on the slough, in what was called the Big Field, which is now owned by Mr. Wm. Rutherford. Here father matched a 10 horse hurdle race of one and a quarter mile. Lou Robbinson rode father's rone race mare. He was tied on the mare with a circingle to keep him from falling off. He was small and light and made a good rider. Charley Cerman rode Picnic, father's other mare. The rone won the first prize of two hundred dollars, and Picnic won the second prize of one hundred dollars. Rube Crow and other old citizens of Newark saw and remember that race.


One Sunday, I started with father to dinner over at Uncle Nuton Arnold's. We heard the pups baying something in a hollow log that lay in the bottom under the hill, some distance from our house. We went to see the cause of the trouble. Father punched in the log with a long stick. I and the pups at the other end of the log, out came three mink and almost ran over me, and the pups were surprised and scared and let the mink get away. Father and I got our clothes muddy, and we had to go to the house to clean up. Then we went on to the dinner.


Sister Mide married when I was 12 years old and left me as father's housekeeper, which I did till I married, but I still lived in Newark and live there now. I am the oldest inhabitant of the town in point of residence. I was there before and at the beginning. In about the year 1882, when the railroad started to build its depot there was on the site of the depot a very large white oak stump that the railroad hired father to dig up and haul off the ground, promising to pay him twenty five dollars for the job. Father had four or five men digging and working to remove the stump. I was there with my ox team, and when the men would dig up and split part off the stump they would fasten the log chain to it, and I would jerk my line, tap the oxen with my whip and tell to get up, and they would pull piece at a time till they got the whole stump moved out of the way. I wore a checked dress with a long sleeved apron and was barefooted. I had shoes but preferred to go barefooted so that I could wade the creek. In the winter I wore boots and would wade mud, water, snow, and sleet and walk to school at Blue Springs Creek to swim. My sister and I would go to the creek and drive the geese out. Then we would drive them home and pick them and use the feathers picked off the geese to make feather beds and pillows. We had five feather beds and scads of pillows. Those rustic times were the most happy days of my life.


We raised our own oxen, and I broke them when they were calves. I would yoke up my calves and hitch them to a sled and take sleigh rides on the snow in the winter time, and I would do other hauling with my baby ox team and sled about home and on my sled driving my calves I was as happy as a queen and richer than Mr. Anybody with his Limosine of today.


In our big pasture there were giant oaks that seemed to me to almost reach the sky. They were draped with trailing vines that were four inches thick and a hundred feet long. They were ornamented with a wilderness of leaves and black, shiny lucious fruit that perfumed the air. We girls climbed the vines and gathered the grapes. Sometimes we would cut the vines loose at the ground and make great swings. Those swings were our flying machines and on them we would take rides in the air that gave us a thrill equal to riding in an airplane. No bathing beach ever furnished more pleasure or healthful outdoor exercise than we got out gathering wild grapes and from riding those long vine swings.


There were hickory nuts, wall nuts and pecans in abundance and sweet gum trees that furnished us all the chewing wax that we wanted. And last but not least, there was the opposum apple, or persimmon, nearly as large as a golf ball. They were very fine to eat and would make the best of beer. All the above were autumn attractions.


In the spring time, redwood and dogwood and may apple blossoms decorated every nook and corner of the pasture, and the whole place looked like natures flower garden, planted by the angels, and those flowers affused perfumes fit for noses of gods. And great flocks of wild birds in the branches of the trees filled the air with sweet and cheerful music.


In late summer, blackberries in great abundance attracted us, and they were big and black and ripe, and as fit to eat as angel food.


In conclusion, let me say that while I have had disappointments and sorrow, drudgery, toil, and tribulations as every mother must have who has raised a family that I am glad that I have raised my four fine sons to be grown and have families of their own. Yet they are all near and dear to me, and I love them all alike. I have had much joy in life and am not sour on the world. I am still able to enjoy a good dinner and a hearty laugh, even though that I realize that I have passed the meridian of life, and that my shadows are falling toward the east. As the past rises before me, my heart fills with emotions that exclaim:


I want to wake up in the morning

Where the morning glories grow

Where the sun comes creeping in

The room where I am sleeping

And the song birds say hello

I want to wander in the wild wood

Back to scenes of childhood

Where ripling waters flow."


An interview of Dove Edwards, by my aunt, Imogene Edwards Parks, writer for the Batesville Guard's society page, called "About Batesville." I estimate that this was written sometime after World War II, in the late 1940's or early 1950's.

Also appears in:

A Writer's Touch

Abandoned Decay

Documentary History

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