The Brasstown Economy in the Early 1900s - Part 2

Fred O. Scroggs 
Fred O. Scroggs - Brasstown NC


Excerpt from Fred O. Scroggs' writings about the community of Brasstown

I marketed a lot of  sun dried apples. I think the price usually ran about .05¢ per pound, and my customers furnished rather large quantities, and I also bought from other merchants. I remember selling at one time three thousand pounds to one commission merchant in Atlanta. One year I sold over 5000 pounds. Sometimes I exchanged the dried apples to Atlanta Wholesale firms for groceries. Some times I shipped away to Florida and other places. Dried apples were packed in 50 pound white bags. We used second hand, laundered sugar bags. I remember buying at one time, 88 bags from a Mr. Elliott a merchant near Blairsville, Ga. 

We bought a lot of field peas. Price was usually $2.00 per bu. Black eye or brown eye peas around $3.00 One year I marketed over 200 bu. of these in Atlanta. A lot of corn field beans were grown and always brought a good price. (Hulled) Around $4.00 per bu.

During this time there was a ready market for sun dried  apples, and we marketed a lot each year. I remember selling one firm in Atlanta 5000 pounds bagged in 50 bags. The price was around .10¢ per pound. Every one worked and made good on their farms.

There was no relief money in those days. No government pensions. About three in the whole area drew Confederate Veterans Pensions from our State, which was round $30 per year, and payable annually.

Some folks raised sheep which were bought by out of state dealers. We bought the wool which brought a good price.

Farmers cut the tops off the corn and pulled and bundled the corn fodder. There was always ready sale for any of their surplus feed stuff to the livery stables, drayman and "wagoners". Some times we baled the corn fodder, core shucks, etc, with our horse power baler. Lots of this baled feed stuff was sold to "lumber camps" in different parts of the  section.

There was a steady demand for cross ties, tan bark, (bark off of chestnut oak and black oak) also chestnut wood for making tanic acid, (large plant at Andrews then) also pulp wood, as now was shipped to Canton, N.C.

Every one kept busy. Many of our farmers, after crops were finished, (laid-by) worked short intervals at some of the lumber camps or at the Ducktown copper mines. Seems they could always get work and quit any time to return to gather in their crops; seed their fall acreage of grain, etc. 


I hope you enjoyed this second small peek into Brasstown's economy in days gone by. If you missed first entry from Fred O. Scroggs go here


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The Brasstown Economy in the Early 1900s

How to crack black walnuts

Excerpt from Fred O. Scroggs' writings about the community of Brasstown

After the threshing season was over we baled lots of the wheat and rye straw. This we sold to lumber camps in Graham County and elsewhere where it was used for bedding material for their stock, and in the bunk houses where their men slept.

I had an Uncle by marriage, (Uncle Henry Green who lived at Mayesville Ga., who was a Veterinarian Doctor.) He obtained an order for me for a car load of baled straw for the Boney Allen company of Buford, Ga. I filled the order. 1200 bales in a box car. Probably the only car of straw that was ever shipped from Murphy. The price was good and we made money on the deal. Boney Allen owned a large tannery, a shoe factory and a harness factory. Also a horse collar factory. This straw was used as filler in the horse collars. They made large quantities of these a great amount of which was used by the U. S. Government for use in the army calverly services.

In trying to work with my neighbors and customers, I kept on the lookout for a market for anything that we might supply. Most every farm had some apple trees. The apples just dropped off and rotted. I made a trade with a jelly making plant in Atlanta to sell them a shipment of these "cull" apples. Any variety but some apples. The order was for 50 barrels at $1.00 per bushel. So I bought the barrels from Fain Grocery Co., in Murphy, and made a trade with Floyd Clayton and Frank Hampton to go around and trade for the apples and fill the barrels. They could pay .25¢ per bu., but most of the folks didn't charge anything. The boys went about buying apples. I paid them .50¢ per bu. and furnished the barrels and did the hauling. We placed a little straw in the bottom, and some on top, taking off the top hoop and covering with a piece of burlap bag and replacing the hoops. We shipped 30 barrels or around 90 bu. So this brought in around $90.00 for a product that would otherwise have been wasted. I did not try and fill an order the next season as these neighbors who had given their apples away or sold cheap, got an idea that we were making too much money on them and asked $1.00 per bushel. 

One time my good friend, Mercer Fain of Murphy, who operated the Fain Wholesale Grocery Co., contacted me and said that he had an order for 50 or more bushel of wild crabapples. Could I fill the order? The price would be $1.00 per bu. He said it didn't matter if they had rotten places, half rotten or what not. I said that I would try but was skeptical. Asked what he wanted them for. He said they they were going to a Nursery company at Cleveland, Tenn. They would let them rot and save the seeds which they planted to grow root stocks on which they grafted improved varieties of apples and sold to orchardist. I put out a call over the section and was able to fill Mr. Fain's order complete. For some unknown reason this order never repeated. 

At this time there was a demand for walnut kernels. We bought from any who would bring them in. I could never get enough to fill my orders. A hand operated walnut cracker had appeared on the market. I bought one maybe around 1926, and began buying walnuts. Stored them in the blank-shop building I had built, near the Elmer Sales House, the present Chas. Hedden Home. I paid .50¢ per hundred pounds and accumulated around 2000 lbs. They came in as far away as Shooting Creek, N.C., Ivy Log, Ga., and elsewhere. I then made a trade with a number of folks to crack and extract the kernels. Those who did the work would come and crack a quantity which they could carry home if they wished and extract the meats. I sold these meats at .50¢ per pound and paid the workers .25¢ per pound. It was just and experiment, but paid out for all of us. At the same time I bought kernels from others over the area. I marketed these kernels in Gainesville and Atlanta, also to the Sears Market in Atlanta. I remember selling to a creamery and ice cream supply house in Atlanta, (Bessire & co.) 700 pounds at one time. They would have bought several thousand pounds. We continued to work this market for some years. 


I hope you enjoyed this peek into the thriving metropolis of Brasstown in the early 1900s. Be on the lookout for another installation from Fred O. Scroggs detailing the way he worked with his neighbors to put a little money in all their pocketbooks. 


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