Gilbert Parrish and the Dipper Gourd

For white pioneers, slaves and freedmen of Wiregrass Georgia, the utility of gourds was an essential part of daily living.   “In a thousand different ways the gourd is of the greatest use to all Southern families,” the Friends’ Intelligencer 1902 volume observed:

“… there is seldom found a farm-house where many gourd utensils are not in evidence, and the tourist will not be long in finding that in some of the poorer homesteads, and, in fact, in a great many of the well-to-do farm houses, they are the only known receptacles for water, milk, food, soap, and the various articles found in country kitchens. Every Southern housewife has a small sized gourd for holding salt, one for flour, one for pepper and other condiments, and a large one for lard, butter, corn, beans, and other vegetables…The housewife prides herself on her milking-gourds, which are kept white and clean by constant scourings and scaldings.” Large gourds are used as hens’ nests, water is carried to the farm hands in the fields in a large gourd bucket, the tinsmith and the shoemaker keep their tools in a gourd chest; they are also used as hanging baskets…” “Stopping at a farm-house in any of our Southern States of North America and asking for water, the tourist will be directed to help himself at the well, where a gourd dipper hangs in readiness.

Georgia Telfair, born into slavery on a Georgia plantation about 1864, talked about gourds in African-American folk life in the period after the war. In one passage recorded in WPA Slave Narratives,  Georgia Telfair mentions,

Everybody tried to raise plenty of gourds, ’cause they was so handy to use for dippers then. Water was toted from the spring and kept in piggins. Don’t expect you ever did see a piggin. That’s a wooden bucket with wire hoops round it to keep it from leaking.

The piggin was a small barrel or bucket, which could be used as a water cooler. One stave was left extra long and carved into a handle so the bucket could be held like an oversized scoop and easily filled. A lid kept the water or other contents clean. The dipper gourd made a convenient serving vessel.

 

Gilbert Parrish (1856-1903)

Gilbert Parrish, son of William Parrish and Rebecca Jane Devane, was a farmer of the 1156 District of Berrien County. As a farmer, Gilbert Parrish  appreciated the aesthetics of  country life.  The simplicity of a cool drink of water from a gourd dipper was, for his tastes, unbeatable.

Gilbert Parrish

Gilbert Parrish

The 1883 American Agriculturalist noted the utility of the dipper gourd:

 One of the most useful forms is the Dipper-gourd, in which the smaller end, or handle, is sometimes curved, but quite as often it is straight. The shell of this gourd, when a large opening is made in one side, and the contents removed, forms a dipper, very useful on washing days and at soap-making times. When thoroughly cleansed and soaked, to remove all taste, it is used at the water- pail. 

Dipper gourd

Dipper gourd

While in Nashville, GA on a dog day afternoon, Gilbert Parrish waxed eloquently on the refreshing qualities of water from a dipper gourd.

Atlanta Constitution Wednesday, Aug 6, 1884. Pg. 2. GEORGIA GOSSIP.  From the Berrien, Ga. News   It was Sunday afternoon, and they were sitting under the awning in front of Bill K. Robert’s store. As we walked up Gilbert Parrish was delivering himself as follows: “Boys, you may talk about your fancy fixing, your silver and gold and your tin dippers, your oak buckets, and your drinking from the spring, but for solid comfort and keen enjoyment give me the old-fashioned country raised gourd – the kitchen gourd. It must hold about a quart, have a long crooked handle and be split about half way down the side and sewed up with white thread crossed just so (here he crossed his fingers like the letter x). If a man will drink some of our Berrien county water from such a gourd as that and say that it ain’t the very quintessence of pleasure, why I don’t want to know him, that’s all.”

Note: Storekeeper William K. Roberts was a son of Bryan J. Roberts, pioneer and Indian fighter of old Lowndes county.

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Georgia Gossip about Hardeman Giddens

Hardeman Giddens (1843- 1910) led an active life that often caught the attention of citizens in Berrien County and beyond. In March of 1884, the Georgia Gossip was about the horse racing at Alapaha, GA, and whether Hardeman’s black stallion was as fast as he believed.  The Challengers were W.N. Fiveash, Dr. Fogle, and Mr. Henley.  William Newton Fiveash, a young man of Magnolia, GA and later of Ocilla, GA entered his bay pony.  Dr. James A. Fogle, a surgeon trained during the Civil War, put his sorrel horse into the race. (Fogle was the original proprietor of the Alapaha hotel later known as the Schockley Hotel)  The winner for the evening was Mr. Henley’s sorrel mare.

The Atlanta Constitution 25 Mar 1884, pg 2 Alapaha is now engaged in the pleasures of the turf. In a recent race — half mile heat – between Mr. W. N. Fiveash’s bay pony and Mr. Hart Gidden’s black horse, the bay came under the string two lengths ahead. The next race was between Dr. Fogles’s sorrel horse and Mr. Henley’s sorrel mare. The horse was beaten by a neck. Then, Mr. Giddens still believing in his black, a race was arranged between the black and Dr. Fogle’s sorrel. The sorrel was again the winner. The last race of the evening was between Fogle’s sorrel horse and Henley’s sorrel mare. Henley’s mare came under the string ahead, but it was claimed that if a good start had been obtained the horse would have won. The races were quite exciting and proved that Alapaha contains some good horseflesh.

Hardeman Giddens, born MAR 1844 in Lowndes (nka Berrien) County, Georgia , was a son of Jacob Giddens and Sarah Ann “Annie” Sirmans.  The 1860 Census shows he was a resident of Berrien County at the time, Berrien having been cut out of Lowndes in 1856. During the Civil War, Hardeman Giddens joined the 29th Georgia Regiment, Company D,  the Berrien Minutemen, enlisting for  12 months. He mustered in at Sapelo Island, GA on 4 November 1861 as a private in Captain John C. Lamb’s Company D (later Company K) .  Records show in 1862 he was on duty at Camp Young, near Savannah, GA.   In October he was  on extra duty there as a mail carrier. He was documented on payroll record rolls for  April 1862, December 1862, and January – March 1863 at a rate of 25 cents.  In September 1863, Hardeman Giddens was at the Battle of Chickamauga. His war experience and amazing good fortune in battle were the subject of a previous post:  Civil War Bullet Dodger Hardeman Giddens Finally Catches One in 1887

Georgia 29th Infantry, monument at Chicamauga battle field.

Georgia 29th Infantry, monument at Chickamauga battle field.

After the war, Hardeman Giddens returned to Berrien County, GA.  On the day before Valentines Day, February 13,  1870 he married Martha J. Gaskins.  She was a daughter of Harmon Gaskins & Malissa Rowland Rouse,  born on February 16,  1838 in Lowdnes Co, GA.   Martha had been widowed twice.  Her first husband was Thomas N. Connell, who died in the Civil War; her second was William Parrish. After marriage, the Giddens made their home in the 1148th Georgia Militia District, where Hardeman was farming land valued at $225 dollars. His father Jacob Giddens, age 68, lived in Hardy’s household and assisted with farm labor. In the census of 1880, Hardeman Giddens was enumerated in Georgia Militia District 1148 with his wife Martha, and sons James and Lyman. In 1900, Hardeman Giddens and  Martha, now his wife of 30 years, were living on the family farm near Ray City, GA. The Giddens owned the farm free and clear, and their two sons, Lyman and William, lived with them and helped their father work the farm.  It seems Martha Giddens must have had a hard life. She birthed 9 children, only four of whom were living in 1900. Martha J. Gaskins died in Berrien Co, GA on 26 February 1910 at age 72. The 1910 Census shows in that year Hardeman Giddens was living with his eldest son, Lyman F. Giddens, who was a prominent citizen, barber, and (later) mayor of Ray City, GA.    Hardeman Giddens died later that year on October 2, 1910 and was buried in the Harmon Gaskins Family Cemetery, Berrien County, Georgia. Related Posts: