By: Judge John L. Kiener
(Editor’s Note: Continued from the 11th day of September 2012. This is Part XXXVII of the “Autobiography or Memoirs of Dr. Abraham Jobe of Elizabethton, Tennessee: Written by Himself.” In this chapter of his 300 page autobiography, Dr. Jobe talks about his wife’s stepfather, John W. Garland, in this episode about land speculations including “The Great Copper Speculation.” Garland was a prominent citizen of Yancey County, North Carolina, the clerk of the County Court for many years, and the county’s representative in the State Legislature. Today’s text begins on page 219 of the typewritten transcript, page 227 of Dr. Jobe’s original writing. – J. L. Kiener)
He (John W. Garland) was so successful in his land speculations, I was anxious to
learn how he could proceed so smoothly, and finish up a trade with so few words; that I told him if he would instruct me how to proceed and accomplish the same end, I would give him a hundred dollars.
Garland said he could tell me in five minutes and would not charge me anything. He said, “When you want to buy anything, a horse, a cow or anything, say nothing about it. If you talk about it, others will step in before you, if they have the least chance, even if they have no interest in it only to defeat you in your trade.”
“Never approach your man and do as most men do, tell him you have come to make a trade with him”.
“You can always manage, so the subject will come up accidentally. When you get to talking, be sure and let him do most of the talking and you try to be unconcerned, and when he makes a proposition you are willing to entertain, accept it at once; and draw up the writing, then and there, for very often if it is put off even till the next day, the terms will be changed to suit him better. Remember every time it is done, it suits you less.”
This was good advice and I remembered it in after years. About ten years after I
settled in Elizabethton (Tennessee), the Great Copper Speculation was inaugurated
in Virginia. I was drawn into it by friends in various sections of the country, especially my brother, John, then a citizen of Georgia.
There were nineteen of us and the enterprise was a vast one. My brother was agent for the Company with headquarters at Hillsville, Virginia. We bought large interests in Carroll, Floyd, Patrick and Grayson, in Virginia, and also property in North Carolina.
Nearly everybody was excited about Copper. It was the topic discussed constantly in hotels, on railroad trains and everywhere. Mr. Garland was very anxious to invest in Copper property in Virginia. He had offered me his home farm adjoining the town property at Burnsville for one-half my interest in our Copper
property in Virginia, but I refused to make the swap, unless he would first go to Virginia and see the lands. So we started to examine it and after traveling about half of the distance, the weather was so hot and the trip so fatiguing, he proposed returning and make the trade without seeing the lands.
I agreed to it and we went on to Burnsville and drew up the Deeds. I had possession of the land for twelve years. In the meantime “the bottom fell out
of the Copper Speculation, ” and I thought it hurt him to know that was the first land trade he ever had made, in which he got the worst of the bargain. So to cause him to feel better over it, I proposed to deed the land back to him without consideration and did so – believing that some day that and much more would come back to Saphronia and her heirs, as Mr. Garland had no legal heirs, and especially
as he had told me more than once that “Saphronia’s mother helped me to make what I have and I intend her and her heirs to have part of it”.
Note: I did nearly all the practice [of medicine] in Mr. Garland’s family and for many years both in North Carolina and after he removed to Tennessee, and never charged any fee for any part of it. If it had been paid for, it would have amounted to a considerable amount.
Notwithstanding all of this, before he died, he willed everything to John Wesley Higgins, an illegitimate son. His wife died several years before he died. He was a cripple and an invalid for several years. His residence was in an adjoining county over twenty miles from me and I could not see him often, and when I did I never mentioned his business affairs; but he had told me he had made his Will and that something was left to Saphronia, but in his last days he was surrounded by such influences as to cause him to revoke his former Will and make another; cutting her out of everything.
She did not get to see him for a long time before his death. She loved her stepfather — she always called him “papa” in such an endearing way that strangers would think he was her father, and he was much attached to her. More for this attachment than any other; I would have been proud that he had been allowed to leave her something that she could remember him by.
South Carolina, Nullification, in Verse by a Negro.
When memory carries me back to my life among the Indians, and my Campaign in the Federal Army in 1836, I can remember songs, or parts of songs, sung by Allen Campbell, one of our regiment, around the camp fires of dark and lonesome nights. I will here repeat all I can remember of an old negro song, describing the Nation’s troubles about Nullification in 1832 or about that time:
“You know Uncle Sam, I know him prime,
He come over de frog pond, away in ole time.
Bull John been he daddy, so hear people say,
But he bin got so crabit, Uncle Sam run away.
So de pond he cross over to lib in dis land,
He hab notion to marry, so give Gall he hands’
Dis couple keep house, and hab children plenty,
I count him one time, I bleb over twenty.
Dose children lib in friendship, all be of one mine,
Cept one tarnal huzza, her name Caroline,
She lib in day place, where da raise such big tater,
Mong deem great pond, where da ketch Alligator,
Dis gal she git sassy, she bin so much mess,
She for ever, and for ternall she keep such a fuss,
You can’t go out meeting, mong nice combergation,
But you’re sure to be rupted, by Nulberfication.
At de Fourth of July, sometime in last May,
When people all assembled to celebrate dat day,
While many be joicing case he gets emancipation,
Some ternal fool would holler for nulberfication.
She will stand up in public and she’ll cuss and she’ll dam.
And right afore public, she’ll abuse Uncle Sam.
If she keep on dat way and she hab six or eight,
Ole Harry can’t keep em from brake up de State.”
I have just come across some of my old papers containing memoranda, in regard to my administration of Indian affairs in the Chippewa Nation in 1868, which show to some extent the mysterious way in which money is made off of the Government by unscrupulous men.
The following is a sample account,
“Daniel S. Mooers a/c December 16, 1867.
To hauling from St. Cloud to Leech Lake at $2.50 per hundred.
To do from St. Cloud to the agency at $l.25 per hundred.
Amounting to $1,626.12.
The actual amount on the books at the agency is $1,561.90 — $64.22 was paid more than the hauling came to, even at his big figures.
A second example:
N. F. Clark —
“Gets 34 37/100 per ration for 734 Indians at White Oak Point.
For six months — His first voucher was $18,920.68; His second voucher was $22,957.10 and His third voucher was $4,288.68
As evidence that it is destructive to the interest, both of the Government and Indians alike, it is only necessary to refer to the contract Bassett made with Oscar Taylor of St. Cloud for transportation in 1867 at 2.16 per hundred for one hundred miles.
The above contract was made to the lowest bidder. Mr. Taylor failed to give bond and Major Bassett at once made arrangements to have it done for 1.80.
Another change should be made. Supplies should not be bought for the Indians for a whole year at a time. This rule causes the Government to pay more exorbitant prices, and the Indians should be moved in closer proximity to each other.” Ft. Ripley should be moved.
Elk Park, North Carolina — Jan. 9, 1894.
I have today burned up several pages of notes or memoranda taken
during my stay in Chippewa Nation, investigating Indian affairs.
These notes have been mislaid for years and while they have much bearing and would shed light on many of the issues then discussed, I destroy them because I have hurried over these incidents, or most of them in the preceding pages and could not now make these memoranda fit in — so I have to leave out much of what I did in those days of hardship, trial and danger.
Miss Prudens’ Commendation, Elk Park, March 29, l894.
Dr. A. Jobe
I thank you heartily for the privilege of reading these notes. It
would be a rich treat to anyone, even a stranger. Such delightful reading! I finished it in two sittings. I feel as though my knowledge of this section was greatly increased.
The portion of the deepest interest to me is the account of your experience as a Union Man. I shall have to tell it to my northern friends.
I hope that this eventful life, the story of which is told so simply and so well, will be yet known to the world by the publishing of these notes.
Very truly yours,
(Signed) E.C. Pruden
Miss Pruden’s home is in Minnesota. She has spent most of her time for several years building up free schools in the South. One of these schools is hers at Elk Park.
Miss Pruden has done a good work here and at other points. She has not only had a large free school taught here, but she has given a great deal to the poor. She is sixty-two years old. She is a good Christian lady, finally educated and very intelligent. I wish we had more like her.
(To Be Continued)