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Egypt, Arkansas History

Hershal and Nancy (Kinder) Henson, My parents - 1923-1998

submitted by Everett Henson

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Hershal and Arthur Henson first came to this community in January 1923. They came in two wagons loaded with their household goods. They came from North of Walnut Ridge and when night came they were somewhere between the Ridge and Egypt about where the Joint called the BLUDY BUCKET used to be. The reason they had to camp for the night was the road was graded off for gravel to be put down and they had cut trees and pulled them across the road to keep traffic off. They spent half the night pulling them off the road. They slept in the wagons that night. They were close to the place where they were going, but didn't know it until daylight. They were going to the Burley Chesser place. This was one mile east of Egypt School at the Crossroads, then North a ways. They lived in the house with Arthur and Ora until they built a house for Dad (Hershal). My sister Freeda was born here.

As told by Nancy Jane Henson 1988:

FREEDA MARIE HENSON was born at the crossroads over there on the Burley Chesser place in Lawrence County, Arkansas in a little two-room house Dad built, him and Arthur and Burley Chesser. She was born 10 April 1924 about four thirty in the evening. Dad went after old Dr. Tom Johnson in Walnut Ridge. The doctor came down and stayed part of the evening, all night, and until about five o'clock the next day. He went up stairs. It was an attic but the floor was fixed in the top. Dad had a bed up there. We had a hired hand the most of the time. Doctor went up there and slept. We had our meat hanging up there, we had our shoulders, hams and our midhinds hanging up there. Doctor laughed about getting to sleep where the good old ham was. The next morning he got up and came down to see about me every little bit. He'd say, "no, it will be a good while yet." He just liked to let me die. I was having pains, and he didn't give me a thing, not even an aspirin. I had a natural childbirth, had not a thing in the world. Jethroe Wyatt's wife, a cousin of your dads, and I can't think of the other lady's name, stayed all night and the next day they did all the cooking. They cooked Ham for breakfast and made gravy and hot biscuits and coffee and we had pear preserves. I'll never, never forget it. Doctor ate dinner, he ate breakfast and he ate dinner with us and Freeda was born about four or four thirty the next evening and she was almost dead when she come. She was as black as she could be and I said, "oh!" He said that it's a girl, I said, "oh, is it a girl, I can't believe it?" He said, "you are like the old lady, you will have to be sighted," and he turned her rear end up to me and I believed it was a girl then. When he first came, he examined me in the bed, he said, I know you are young. You are built up to be a large woman, he said, I weighed two hundred pounds. Then he said, I know it's embarrassing. I didn't know they examined you that way, I didn't know it atoll. I had never seen a doctor. Hershal had went to the doctor and told him about it and he sent me some medicine and he told me to take a broken dose of Epson salts every morning for several months and Dad said if it will help you, I believe it will help me too and he took a broken dose too, so we both took epsom salts and he told Hershal when she starts to crying and taking, on wait till she gets to hollering and taking on and when she has pain, have her to start taking a tablespoon of epsom salts ever two hours. I taken it until I couldn't take it any more, had to sit on the slopjar and I said" Hershal, I cant take it any more," so he went and got the doctor and the doctor got there and he said are you taking the epsom salts. I said, "I did, but I quit it and he started it again all night, every two hours, a tablespoon every two hours. We didn't have a soul in this world to stay with us or nothing, so he said to his wife, my cousin, you stay here with Nancy until I go see if I can get Ethel Hern. I was 20 and she was older than me. He drove way down below Egypt to the Gage settlement down by where the greasy Jones lived. He had never seen her but he had heard of her and she came home with him in a buggy and brought her back. He didn't have the money to pay her and he had to keep her two weeks till he borrowed some money. Went to town and borrowed $75.00 to make a crop on and paid her $10.00 out of that and she done the scrubbing, washing and cooking and she might still be with us if he hadn't been able to borrow the money. Dad pulled on the right hand and the doctor pulled on the left and this arm came unjointed. He said her heart is not beating right and for us to watch her, so what did we know to watch. He left that evening without eating, we was too busy to fix supper. We didn't pay the doctor till fall, paid him $25.00. Old Dr Tom Johnson and when he started off, he said, I know this is embarrassing to a young girl like you, said i'll see you on the street and i'll never think about it any more, want even think about it, he said, seeing me and being with me. I didn't know they examined that way. I didn't know that, my mother didn't tell me. Miss Henson didn't tell me no body. Well, Freeda long in the summer, then up in the summer, after the crops was laid by, every day Freeda, she'd go to sleep. She'd wake up with a fever. I'd feel of her and she'd have a high fever. I told Hershal she's having chills or something and we taken her to this doctor at Walnut Ridge. We went in and the doctor said, "well, I didn't know you was a such nice looking girl. I would never had him, but Mrs Henson said he was a good doctor.

As told by Nancy Jane Henson 1988:

?? was born 3 Day of August 1926, about eleven o'clock in the morning, in Craig head County, Arkansas, east of Egypt between East and West Cash River, in the house that Coy called the crooked house. The doctor was supposed to be Dr Townsend from Walnut Ridge. Arthur drove up there to get him and he was giving shots and couldn't come. He said, I'll get as good a doctor as I am. I'll get a hospital doctor and he called Jonesboro and got Doctor Horner. He got there just about thirty minuets before you was born and I was about to die. You had come rear first, breach first. He said you was two weeks old when you was born. You was as white as any baby could be, you was not ever red, and I almost died that morning. I got up at four o'clock and I was having pains. I killed a couple chickens and I picked and cleaned and washed them and put them away and was going to fry them or have them fried for me. That day Arthur had got a bushel of peaches, so I peeled enough of them peaches and cooked them to make a cobbler that day. And I said, Hershal, I've got to have a doctor and Arthur drove to Walnut Ridge and that doctor, called Dr Horner, came in, and he said, "my name is Jack Horner but not the Jack Horner that stood in the corner and put in his thumb and pulled out a plum," and he charged fifty dollars and he wasn't there an hour. I was just about gone, my head nearly killed me, didn't give me a thing in this world. Ora stayed all night and she went ahead and fried the chicken and made the cobbler and all that, and we had dinner and she stayed all night and dad went down to Egypt and got aunt Kate Hufstudler. I thought she was an old woman but she wasn't all that old. Whistling Tom was her son and she stayed with us about four nights and while I was lying there in bed she just worked day in and day out and cooked all time. Oh, she was clean and every thing was spotless. She was nice, that's what she did, she stayed with people, and she was a widow woman. She'd go to the field and gather roasting ears and pick peas and get cucumbers out of the garden and tomatoes. And one day, I was laying there in bed and she was in the kitchen cooking and I heard Dad's voice, and I heard Ora say something. My dad and mother had never been in my house and they caught the train and came to Jonesboro and there was a bus that come to Egypt. Jewel and Golden had told them how to get there, they stopped down there at the Taylor place, close to the Baptist Church, and they got off and knowed which road to come and they met Luther Hensley's oldest son, I can't think of his name, and Dad said, do you know Hershal Henson, and he said yes, we live right there by them. Said, they got a big boy and mom and Dad walked that far, about three miles carrying a suitcase and Mom had got her a new hat, some new shoes and pretty dresses. Oh: she looked good. And she done the work. Uncle Tom and Aunt Ethel come down and they stayed a couple nights, and I tell you we had a time. We paid the woman $1.50 a day. What she would do, she'd go out to the garden, we had so many cucumbers, she picked everything outa the garden. The queks that was too big she'd give to the hogs and just all such as that. And we had a milk box just right in front of the door, a barrel sunk in the ground, pipes from it out to the water trough and she would pump water for an hour at a time to cool the milk. So mom and Dad stayed until I was able to do my work and they left. First they had been in my house. Crops was laid by and Dad wasn't there, when they came he was working and a tree almost killed him, just barely missed him, a big cypress tree, liked to got him almost. I was setting there rocking you when you was rite tiny and I heard the hens go qok qok and I could tell they was bothering something . There was a snake big as my leg right there. It was about six ft long. It was a rattler and Hershal was in the other room, and I said, "Lord a mercy Hershal, come here, I said I never seen such a snake, it looks like a alligator." He came and killed that snake, believe he shot it and carried it over to Waylands and Miss Wayland just rubbed it and loved it. That was the biggest snake I ever saw.

As told by Nancy Jane Henson 1988:

OREN HOWARD HENSON born Nov 20 1928 about 8 o'clock in the morning. My Dad come down and he said I come down for the dance, they always called it that. They had moved down to the house A J was born in. They come in Oct and he was born in Nov and he took you out to Herberts and Lydias. Freeda was in the bed in the other room he went and got Dr Stevens at Egypt Arkansas, he was a full blooded Irishman and Church of Christ. He was a good man and good doctor. He had his boots on and got right up in bed with them boots on. He got up in the bed, believe it or not didn't even pull his boots off. Oren was born, didn't have such a hard time with him. We ate breakfast after he was born Mom and Ora was with me, he had been duck hunting, that is why he had them boots on. Dad took you out to Arthurs with Harold after everything was over. He washed and ate breakfast with us, had ham again, hot biscuits, butter, jelly, and just everything eggs. He charged about $15.00. He'd take it in eggs bout anything we had, he'd take bout anything. Mama and Papa and Golden stayed with us until I was able to take care of myself.

As told by Nancy Jane Henson 1988:

A J HENSON, he was born and Mom and Dad was there then too. My Dad was dying in one room and A J was being born in the other. They come from Smackover, Arkansas up there so my daddy could be buried by his father at Pocahontas at the Chesser graveyard. They had already talked it over, he knowed he was gonna die, no chance, had Golden, he was still living with them. Dad went to see the Doctor and told him how I was and he gave me some medicine and Jewell was living there too. They had moved their things with Mom and Dad and he had an old car and he went and got the Doctor and he went and got Miss Wyeth Holder, Jethroe Holders wife, the one that was with me when Freeda was born and brought her. Freeda and Everett was sent to Herbert and Lydias and that night Freeda sassed Lydia and she whipped her with a belt and the next morning Everett said he had to go to the toilet and he went around the garden and ran all the way home, bare footed and there was A J and you said, I ain't going off no more, for every time I do, it's either a baby or something happens, said not going off any more. They fixed breakfast and the doctor and all of them ate. My Dad in the other room dying. Mama went in there and said, Dad, you know Nannie got a new boy and he said uh huh. I can hear him say it to this day, that is the first time I ever remember hearing any one talking about a dead person. Golden or Jewell put quarters on grandpa's eyes to make them close. That was DR Stevens again and he charged $15.00. Dad paid him off with corn, eggs and stuff like that. He paid off some in wood. He would cut wood on rainy days or when it was too bad to farm and he had to rick the wood in the woods and he would get up before daylight and haul it to Egypt and had to rick it again in the doctor's yard, got a dollar a rick, and, if it was hickrey, he got a dollar and a half for stove wood. Mother said, Hershal you are going to kill yourself and Dad said oh no, we Hensons live a long time. He would come home and do his work in the field, he took sick in 1953 and died in 1956 wasn't hardly 56, when he died.

As told by Nancy Jane Henson 1988:

COY DEAN HENSON was born July 6 1934 in the splinter house, just across the county line in Lawrence, County. Freeda and Everett went through the woods and along the ditch bank north of the house and cross the ditch on a footlog and went to Grandpa Henson's house. Dad was in the field working, me and Mama was out there in that there cypress bottom picking blackberries when I took sick. I clum over them old logs and stumps and everything. I had on a pair of overhauls with a gallon and a have lard bucket hooked on each gallus, picked both them full, took sick out there and come to the house and washed and cleaned my berries and canned them, went down to the garden and picked my cucumbers and canned them. After supper, I told Mama, I'm sick, I've got to have the doctor. Dad went and got Dr Stevens again and he come and stayed all night, went and got Lydia and he thought they was going to be twins but he seen they wasn't. He said, "Nancy, what's a matter, I've never seen you hurt this way so bad." He first thought they was twins but he pretty soon found out they wasn't. I still didn't go to the doctor before the baby was born, I wasn't on no special diet or nothing, eat anything or done anything whenever I wanted. You all stayed all night and Grandma took you-ins a swimming the next day. She had on a pair of yellow bloomers, didn't have no swim suit and Coy was born about 8 o'clock that morning, Friday Morning 1934 6 of July, and your Ggrandpa come bringing you-ins in that evening and you come in and you seen. well, while he was being born, A J woke up and Lydia took him out in the yard and showed him the chickens and everything. And when Coy was born, the doctor spanked him a little and he cried, went to crying wa-wa and I can hear A J till this day, "I hear a baby, I hear a baby crying." Lydia, oh: all she could do to keep him out there till they got him cleaned up and come in, he walked by the bed that night. That evening then Lydia and Mama went in and fixed dinner, we had chicken and dumplings that day for dinner. The old sow had got hold of old hen and killed her so we fixed her and had chicken and dumplings. Lydia was there and that evening when your grandpa brought ya'll home Everett said, "I'm not going off any more. Every time I go off, mama has another baby, gets another baby or old Sooner has pups." He said, "I ain't going off no more," that's what you said. Mama give A J, he was just 2 years from November to July older than Coy. I can just see him walking by the bed, pointed his finger and said, "Mother when that baby gets big enough to sleep by his self," he said, "I'm a gonna sleep with you" and he just walked on with his gown and big as you please and in the other room but he thought he was gonna get to sleep with me again but he never did. That was the 15 dollar doctor again, he just took any thing, chickens, wood or anything. He visited around and are with us his family, bring his family, had 4 5 6 kids, boys and one girl, stay all day with you and eat.

Note from Everett Henson:

I have a lot of stories that my Mother told me about the community of EGYPT. John Wesley Henson, father of Hershal, Arthur, Lemual (Lem), Ander, Lydia, Nila, Otto and Jake, moved to this community with his family and they all married and had family here. Otto lived here until his death in the 90's and when his wife, Justine, died that was the last of the Henson name in EGYPT. My mother celebrated her 98th birthday on Feb. 22, 2002. She still has a good memory.


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