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Today is October 4, 2022

Grin 'n' Bare It

Hitch the wagon–we’re going to George County

Kay Grafe
Kay Grafe

    I was bothering Randy Brown, a retired Vocational Shop school teacher, by talking to him as he worked inside our house. He has awesome family stories. Especially one about a wagon (over a 100 years old) that was lost and found.
    Randy is an excellent carpenter. Our house is 43 years old, so we do a fix-up every few years to keep it updated and standing up. Randy’s brother, Alan, teams up with him to repair or remodel house projects for folks in George County. 
    Randy didn’t let his work interfere with talking and answering my questions. He and his wife, Amanda, have one son, Andrew, and a large extended family. Their beautiful old-fashioned home is located on original Brown land in Agricola, which is in hollering distance of his brother Alan, and cousins Charles Walter and Kent Brown.
    Now here’s the wagon story as Randy told it to me: The Browns packed up all their belongings in the wagon pulled by two mules and left their home west of Meridian—Meehan community to be exact. These pioneers arrived from their bumpy trip at the community of Agricola in George County on Thanksgiving Day 1913. About 10 miles south of Lucedale.
    The family consisted of John A. and his wife, Ida, and three of their youngest children, Zema, Miller and Clyde. His married son, Walter, with wife Emma and four children, also made the trip. The women and children came by train. Others followed in 1918.
    John A. was Randy and Alan’s great-grandfather and Walter was their grandfather. Elton, another son of Walter and Emma, was born in George County and was the father of Randy and Alan.
    Now where is the 100-year-old wagon today?
    Soon after they moved, John A. and Walter Brown decided they needed a larger wagon for their farm in Agricola, so it was traded for a big wheel wagon. The larger wagon had belonged to Carley Davis, who owned a sawmill at the edge of Jackson County. Randy remembers picking corn in the big wheel wagon.
    The Brown family lost track of the wagon that brought their family to Agricola. They kept the big wheel wagon stored in a barn at Alan and Randy’s granddaddy’s old place. When Hurricane Frederic blew the barn down in 1979 it almost destroyed the wagon.
    Elton, Randy’s daddy, wanted to cut it up for firewood, but Randy talked him out of it. Since he taught shop at East Central High School, Randy took it to school and while his students worked on their projects, he restored the big wheel wagon. But he always longed to know what happened to their family’s original wagon.
    One of Randy’s students, a young boy named Roger Emerson, asked about the big wagon he was restoring. So Randy told him the story, including the story of the wagon that brought his family to Agricola.
    Roger told Randy he knew who had that original wagon, where it was and that he would inherit it someday. Randy told him, if you ever decide to sell the wagon, I want to buy it.
    This went on for 25 to 30 years. Each time he saw Roger, Randy would ask about the wagon and Roger would tell him it was in good shape and used only at Old Fashioned Day in Hurley.
    About a year ago, Roger’s 91-year-old mother decided to sell the original Brown wagon to a neighbor, but Roger remembered the promise he made to Randy years before.
    I call it a covenant. Like God made with His people. 
    Here’s the rest of the saga. The wagon was purchased by cousins Kent and Charles Walter Brown, and Randy and Alan for $600. No refurbishment was needed on the Cyprus wagon. It’s in great condition and a beauty.
    Not only do they now have the two wagons, but they have a book written by members of the Brown family 1880 to 2013; the family records of birth and deaths; and stories by family members that will make you laugh out loud.
    Wayne Brown, retired Southern District highway commissioner, wrote 69 stories for the  book. Rev. Dr. Bryce Evans and other friends have poems and other good tales incorporated in their “home-style” book called, “Brown Book of Tales.” A wonderful read.
    The Browns are planning a 100-year celebration on Thanksgiving Day this year at Randy’s home. If your name is Brown, just come on down. There was a population explosion like Abraham’s descendants, so they’d never know the difference ... if you bring a casserole.

    Kay Grafe is the author of “Oh My Gosh, Virginia.” To order, send name, address, phone number and $16.95, plus $3.50 S&H to Kay Grafe, 2142 Fig Farm Road, Lucedale, MS 39452.

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