Riddle Barn on Foster Creek By Reagan Riddle
Appeared in The News Record and Sentinel May 13 2013
I now own the farm on Foster Creek Road where my grandfather James Cornelius Riddle and Grandmother Lula Roberts Riddle raised their family. In the early 1920s, they sold half of their property to my grandfather’s brother, Grant Riddle and his wife Fannie He raised his family there also and that is the part of the home place that I now own. The old barn on my place was built in 1929 by my great uncle and one of his sons, Bruce Riddle, who is now 90 years old and is still doing well both physically and mentally.
Although Bruce is not my uncle, I still call him “Uncle Bruce” because all of my dad’s brothers and sister are gone. He is the closest living family member that I have who remembers living on Foster Creek and on the old home place. About ten years ago I had the opportunity to purchase the home place. At that time my mother and dad, Glenn and Lois Riddle, were still living and loved going back home and so did I. About all of their friends and family that they had known were already gone and this gave us a place to go when we wanted to visit. Recently I took Uncle Bruce with me to Foster Creek to visit my little mountain home that I love so much. It was very interesting as I listened to him talk about the way it was when he was a young boy living there. Uncle Bruce talked about the hard times growing up. He said we had very little money and what we did have came from selling our produce, honey and hams from the hogs we killed, and a few herbs that we could find and sell.
He said, “I remember the old logging camp at the head of the creek and the big saw dust piles that they left behind. To build this old barn, we dug under the saw dust piles and salvaged what lumber the saw millers had left behind. I remember my daddy taking us to old burned-out buildings and we would go through the rubble and pull the nails and straighten them so we could use them in the barn to be built here on our place.” He said daddy would split oak shingles to cover the barn. At one time I considered taking the old barn down, but after learning about the hardships endured building it, I cherish it more now than ever.
The property that my family had was very steep and full of rock cliffs. Uncle Bruce said they had two cows for milk and butter, but they had no pasture land.Â In the mornings they would milk the cows then drive them two miles to the surry fields to graze all day then return to get them in the evening. Bruce said, “We put bells on those doggone cows so we could find them in the high weeds and in the edge of the woods. They soon learned that if they would stand still, the bells wouldn’t clang, making them harder to find.” Oh, well, just another curse for mankind, I suppose.
This is just the way it was in the 20s and 30s for mountain people. They did whatever it took to live and provide for their family. God help me not to complain over petty things. Hearing Uncle Bruce’s stories has helped me so much to realize how we got to where we are today and just how much we have been blessed.