Interview with Mr. & Mrs. Samuel John Marsden (Lillian Virginia Hensley)

On August 7, 1937, we interviewed Mr. and Mrs. Samuel John Marsden, who have the farm on the left side of the Old LeMay Ferry Road, near Goldman, Missouri. Both Mr. and Mrs. Marsden have lived within the immediate vicinity for their entire lives. Incidentally one of the finest wild cherry trees that it has been our privilege to see is on the farm now owned by Harry Krueger, St. Louis lawyer. It was at the base of this tree that Mr. Marsden was born in a log cabin in 1862. Mr. Marsden told me that his present house was built many years ago by him of stone and that the present siding of the house has been entirely built around and over the old original house. As you will ascertain from the attached notes, Mr. Marsden's father was an Englishman and followed the occupation in Jefferson County of smelter, surveyor, cooper and farmer and served as Highway Commissioner and Surveyor of Jefferson County for a great many years and it was under his supervision that LeMay Ferry Road was surveyed.

They have ten children all married and all living, none of them in Jefferson County. They owned 110 acres - which they purchased for $2500.

Mr. Marsden stated that he used oxen a great deal for farm work as well as transportation used until about forty years ago. He claims to have owned the last yoke of oxen in Jefferson County. Their names were Tom and Jerry. He still has an old oxen yoke.

All of their food was raised on the place - They were well provided for with home grown vegetables, eaten fresh and a great many canned. They also had fresh fruit, cattle, hogs and sheep. They had a few hands from time to time. They were paid $20 to $30 a month with board and room. But they mostly did all their own work, with members of their family.

The local farmers did not gather herbs, but there were some itinerant gatherers. A few of the plants that were gathered were May Apple, Seneca Snake Root, Ginseng and wild cherry bark. One old man, "old Lindsay Johnson" was a root digger.

Mrs. Marden's father, Alexander Hensley, at one time owned Sugar Camp Holler and it was her mother who would take the family for the day to tap the maple trees, using buckets and barrels. On one such trip Mrs. Marsden, as a little girl, saw an animal run ahead and cried "Mamma there goes a rabbit" Her mother told her it was not a rabbit but a young fawn. The maple syrup was put in cups & saucers. 

The farmers purposely cleared out the creeks so that the water would run off more quickly, thus preventing any possibility of water overflowing the land.

For recreation, they had parties at various homes of the church people on Friday nights. They had to be home by 12 o'clock. there was no beer at these parties, but  once in a while the men had a little whiskey, elderberry wine or grape wine on their lips. The German's had parties on Saturday night with beer and music. Mrs. Marden attended once in a while at her home in Moss Holler - (other side of where Anderson's place is, on the way to Barnhart)

As children, they were members of Sandy Baptist church, and they got there by horseback. Dr. George Mockbee and his father, Robert Mockbee, built the church over sixty years ago when Mrs. Marsden was a little girl. The clay for the bricks was dug and burnt on Keiths' place (now Moehlers) out of the hill back of the house. Mrs. Marsden, as a little girl, used to watch them working from a peach tree. She said Robert Mockbee sneezed loud and frequently and once when he sneezed she fell out of the peach tree. At that time Mrs. Marsden lived on the Kenney Place which is below Moehler's.

Mrs. Marden attended Sandy School

Mr. Marsden attended an old log school near where Central school is now above Goldman up Belew's Creek. He always had  men teachers. There were no grades, and no graduations. You could attend until you were 21. Seats were split logs and so slick you would almost slide off. School was held from 4 to 5 months, from 9 am to 4 pm, 5 days a week. The school was located right in the middle of the road. Attendance was very irregular.

Mr. Marsden used Webster's speller

Mrs. Marsden used McGuffy's speller.

In the early days very little cash was used. Eggs and butter were taken to the store in Pevely where they received credit on items purchased from the store. Occasionally produce was taken to St. Louis. Other crops they received cash. When they were first married in 1885, everyone had corn and they only received 25 & 30 cents a bushel for it. Wheat was generally their main cash crop. They raised hay, oats, corn and wheat, and cattle, hogs and some sheep. They were mostly for home consumption.

All of their carpets were made out of rags. Their beds were home made four posters and very high. The baby's bed slid under the main bed. No wooden slats were used, instead ropes were used. Mattresses were home made and filled with corn shucks, straw and occasionally feathers from geese. Chairs and tables were mostly home made. Houses were all home made from timbers and available stone. Mr. Marden's house was stone and the first one made and built 52 years ago is part of the present house.

They used spinning wheels to spin wool for socks and gloves. Some of the natives wore home spun gens (trousers). These were very warm and lasted for a long time. Yard cloth was obtained at St. Louis and Pevely for home made garments. Other clothing was purchased at Pevely and St. Louis.

Over 25 years ago, the Sandy Ridge Mine was operating, and Mr. Marsden's father did considerable work there.