by Jesse Lanier Poe as told to her by her father, Francis Burdette Lanier (mother was Sally McDonald)
My grandfather, Rev. Walter Lanier, was born in Clark Co., Georgia, near Athens, April 29, 1819. He was married September 1840, to Mary Eliza Meade [Eliza Mary]. He was converted in 1841 and was made Class Leader of the Methodist Episcopal Church South in 1842. He was licensed to exhort in 1848 and to preach in the M. E. Church South in 1856.
Mary Eliza [Eliza Mary] Meade was the daughter of a slave-owning planter. It was a well-known fact that her husband, Walter Lanier, opposed slavery. This caused no friction in the family nor did it cause any inconvenience to the wife of the young church leader as long as she lived near her mother who quietly saw to it that her daughter had plenty of help. The time came, however, when Walter Lanier felt impelled to move back to North Georgia. We assume that he fely it to be a clear call to some phase of Christian duty. He gathered his wife and three small children and began preparations.
Going back to Athens, they moved in covered wagons. Everything was packed and the wagons loaded so they could start at daybreak. Something happened though and the journey was delayed for two days. One of the children saw a little colored boy peeking out from the covered wagon and upon investigation, it was discovered that Eliza's mother had concealed three slaves, a man, woman, and child, in the back of one of the wagons.
Mr. Lanier (as everyone called him) would have none of this and great excitement prevailed.
Two days later, another start was made. The wagons got an early start and they traveled steadily until early afternoon. They came to a large spring and creek where they all stopped for water for themselves and their stock, and to eat of their generous baskets of food prepared by Eliza's mother. While all of them walked up and down to rest themselves again from sitting so long, again one of the children discovereed something.
He saw one of the drivers hand a gourd of water into the wagon. Again Mr. Walter investigated. Behind a large piece of furniture sat Kizzie, all dressed up in a starched white sunbonnet. Kizzie was a fifteen-year old girl, black with very white teeth. Mr. Walter questioned her and found that only two people knew she was there -- her mistress (who was Mr. Walter's mother-in-law) and her pappy who was the driver of the wagon.
As always, when Mr. Walter was perplexed and burdened with a great decision to be made, he resorted to prayer. He called them all together, drivers of the two wagons, Kizzie, and his family; and there, by the creek in the wilderness of North Georgia, he begged that through the "mercies" of God he was led to make the right decision. He could send Kizzie back to her mistress by the drivers who would return with the wagons, or he could keep her and do the best he could with her as a free negro.
The decision was made through Kizzie herself. The prayer revealed to her that she might be sent back and by the time the prayer ended she was sobbing and shrieking and begging not to be sent back. She wanted to stay with Miss 'Liza.
And stay she did! She never left them.
When I was a child in about 1889 I went with my parents to visit Grandpa in Georgia. Aunt Kizzie was still there. I can remember her, tall, black, with snow-white hair. She had married and raised a family of good substantial boys and girls. It never did bother her that she was a free negro in a country of slaves. They always paid her a small wage. She didn't need it; she didn't want it but she had Miss 'Liza to keep it for her. By the time Sherman marched through Georgia she had quite a sizeable little sum in the hair-covered trunk- but that's another story.
By Robin Lanier as told to her by Frances Lanier, as told to Frances by her grandfather, Francis Burdette Lanier
Because Walter Lanier did not agree with slavery, he sympathized with some of the goals of the Union Army during the Civil War. During Sherman's march to sea, the general sent a scouting party ahead to check on provisions and the like. They came by Walter's homestead. At this time Burt Lanier (Francis Burdette Lanier, born in 1855) was only nine or ten years old. Anyway, Walter, sympathizing with the Union forces treated the scouts to a meal and a religious service of some kind (akin to prayer breakfast, I guess). The soldiers thanked the family and went on their way.
A few days later Sherman's main forces came through the area, burning every farm within the area, except Walter Lanier's. Burt Lanier climbed a tree on the family's property which was up on a hill. He told his granddaughter that from that vantage point he could see the smoke of burning farms for a five or ten mile radius.
My Mother wrote of her memories from about 1919-20.
by Mary Catharine Nicol 1997, 1998, 1999 ©
My earliest memories of going to Grandmother Lanier's house for a visit began with a long train ride from Lineville where we lived. Just standing by the tracks and having the train pull up, sent shivers up and down my spine. The engine was so huge and noisy to me. Then there were the cinders from the engine that always get into your eyes! The windows were raised on the train. By the time we reached our destination, we were pretty dirty!
One of my happiest memories was of the man on the train with the "goodies". He was called "the Butch". After the conductor collected the tickets, he would walk up and down the aisle with his basket. It was full of fruit and the most wonderful little pistols and lanterns made of glass and filled with tiny candies. All for sale. Of course, we always had to have one of each.
The train stopped, at long last, at Grassmere, which is across from Laniers Cemetery. There was a station there then where the little store is now. I may have been drawing on my imagination but I think Stelle "and company" met us in her car. I think she had driven down from LaGrange with "Baby" Stelle and Henry earlier. Penie was always there with Mary Jim and Aunt Nina (Uncle Noble's wife) was there with Mary and I'm sure some of her other children. I just remember Mary.
Speaking of the train-- we would lie in bed at night and hear the whistle of the freight train as it came through. Legend had it that the engineer's sweetheart had been killed at a train crossing. So he blew his whistle at every crossing he came to. My! It was a mournful sound! I'll always remember that.
Grandmother's house was a big one painted white with a long hall down the middle. On rainy days we had a little red wagon that we used to pull each other up and down it. The noise must have been awful for the adults! There e were two HUGE oak chifforobes in the hall where Grandmother kept clothes and linens. I don't remember closets except one in her bedroom. We slept in the front bedroom. We'd lie there and have fun listening to the adults talking just outside the window while they sat and rocked on the porch.
I remember there was mosquito netting over the bed, hung from the ceiling. We'd lie there and listen also to the hoot owls on the mountain just back of the house. It was an eerie sound. I don't ever remember being hot or uncomfortable.
There was the kitchen and dining room on that side of the house. The kitchen was presided over by two black women named Josie and Lena. Some wonderful food came out of that kitchen! We ate at a long table, covered with large white cloth and I guarantee it was loaded with food! I remember eating off of sprigged china plates, which I think was Havilland china. When one meal was finished the table was cleared except for the jellies, relishes, etc. The dishes were done and they again set the table and covered it with another white cloth until the next meal. Guess it was to keep the flies away.
There was no indoor plumbing in the home down there. (I have heard that their home in Talladega had the first indoor bathroom in the town). We had to go to the "Chick sales" outhouse that was back of the smokehouse. Believe it or not there was a Sears catalogue hung by the door! The smoke house which backed up to the outhouse had not been used for years. I remember the base of it was made of beautiful pink and white marble.
A big back porch was screened-in. When I was a baby (I was born down there) they hung a swing for me out there. The hooks were still there when I took our girls by to see there house. On the porch was a cistern; water for it caught (when it rained) in a container outside the porch, connected in some way to the cistern, You had to pump and pump the handle to get the water. Don't know what happened in dry weather! We were bathed in a zinc tub on that back porch. Wonder how many baths we were given!
Uncle Homer and Aunt Annie and family lived in the house at the foot of the hill. We were always together with the boys, especially Homer, Jr. and Miller. Lucille the only girl was older than we were and I'm sure too grownup to play with us. I always "looked up" to her. I thought she was the perfect teenager. Later Uncle Homer and family moved into the house with Grandmother.
Halfway up the hill there had been a tennis court, for our parents, when they were young. It was fairly overgrown when we came along but still level. we'd build bonfires there at night and talk and tell ghost stories until our parents called us to bed.
There were huge rockers on the porch which wrapped around three sides of the house. On one end, there was a large, long wooden swing painted green. It was not the usual slatted swing but with a solid back and bottom. Mary and I used to play with our dolls on it.
A store was at the foot of the hill. I can still smell the wonderful mixture of sawdust (on the meat market floor), pickles in kegs and cheeses. They also used some sort of oil on the floor to clean it. It was a "country store" smell. I'd like to bottle it and keep it!
They would give Mary and me a nickel or dime and we'd go down to the store. The lady would show us all their bolts of cloth and sell us a one-fourth or one-half yard to make doll clothes. Grandmother would furnish the thread and needles. We had a big time. Mary Jim and Stelle probably did the same thing but I'm not sure. We were the oldest!
Everyday we'd take turns riding down the hill in the red wagon. Then back we'd trudge with it so the next one could ride. The hill was a lot steeper and longer than it is now. They changed the road and cut into the side of the hill. Boy, would we get hot. Didn't seem to bother us though. I don't remember us having any squabbles. We must have, with all of us down there.
The Lanier boys would take us for an occasional wagon ride. That was always a treat.
On real hot days we were taken in the afternoon to Blue Springs to wade in the cool water. We didn't have bathing suits, I don't think. Guess the boys rolled up their pants legs. The girls all had "bloomers" to match our dresses so we'd tuck our dresses in and wade away. I'm sure we must have fallen down every now and then and gotten wet.
Blue Springs was a small pond quite a distance from the house. It was clear as crystal and our daddies used to fish there. There was a little stream that ran off from it and across the road. It was about ankle deep and clear too. That is the part we waded in. Daddy, Jimmie, and I went back down there several times, before Daddy died, but we never could locate it. We had some good times there, as children, and it was oh so cool on a hot Alabama day.
There was an old barn there back of the house that I vaguely remember. Guess it was torn down. Also a small cabin near the house that they called the slave cabin. Why, I don"t know. It must have been there a long time. It was used for storage by my time. That will always be a mystery to me, 'cause they surely didn't have slaves, even in the early years.
The little church that still stands there was built with lumber from our granddaddy's lumber mill. I think they said he and Uncle John (I never knew him either) donated it for the church. I remember Penie saying one of the highlights of their Saturdays was going with Grandmother (when they were children) and a couple of servants to clean the church and get it ready for Sunday.
Grandmother always made the Communion wine. I'm sure, remembering Grandmother, it was never used for anything else. Her recipe for Blackberry and Scuppernog wine are in the Lanier Reunion Cookbook. See recipes.
Those were happy days we spent "down in the country" as it was always spoken of!
Blackberry Wine: Mash berries. Let stand 48 hours. Strain. Add sugar until an egg floats in it. Let stand one week. Strain. Pour into bottles and cork.
Scuppernong Wine: Wash fruit. Mash all juice out possible. Let juice and hulls stand 48 hours. Drain. To one gallon juice, put about three ponds sugar. Let stand several weeks. Strain and cork.
Carol'sNote: For all you city folks out there, a scuppernong is a wild grape.
1 pound butter (real butter)
1 pound sugar
1 pound flour
one-half teaspoon mace
2 tablespoons brandy
Cream butter. Add sugar gradually and continue beating through. Add egg yolks, beaten until thick and lemon-colored, egg whites beaten until stiff, flour, mace and brandy. Beat vigorously 5 minutes. Bake in stem pan one and one-half hours in slow preheated oven (300 degrees).
6-8 small apples
6 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar
3 drops red food coloring
ice cream sticks (popsicle sticks)
Melt butter over slow heat; beat in sugar; add vinegar and water. Cook until it makes a hard ball in cold water. Add coloring. Take from stove. Stick ice cream stick into cores of apples after apples have been washed and dried. Dip into syrup covering the whole apple. Place on wax paper.
1 yeast cake
4 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 heaping tablespoons lard (Crisco)
1 cup milk, slightly warmed
Cream yeast and sugar. Add lard, milk, salt, and enough flour to make dough. Put on floured board and beat with rolling pin until it blisters (it will actually blister). Roll out and cut as Parker House rolls. Let rise 2/3 hours. Bake in medium oven until brown.
1 quart heavy cream
1 cup sugar
6 egg whites, beaten until stiff
one-half box gelatin
Sherry and vanilla to taste
Whip cream until light and fluffy. Add egg whites and sugar. Flavor with sherry and vanilla to taste. Soak gelatin in cold water until soft. Let it melt by beating until it is dissolved. Pour gelatin into whipped cream. Beat 5 minutes. Cherries and nuts may be added. Set aside to congeal.
8 eggs, separated
2 level tablespoons gelatin
one-half cup cold water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup orange juice
three-quarters teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1 and one-half dozen ladyfingers, split
Beat yolks. Add salt, orange juice, and half of sugar. Cook over boiling water until thick like custard. Add gelatin (which has been dissolved in water), lemon juice, orange zest and cool. Beat egg whites and add rest of sugar. Fold into custard. Line spring mold pan with ladyfingers around bottom and sides (and tube, if using tube pan). Pour custard into mold. Chill overnight.
one-half pint cream, whipped
1 and one-third teaspoon lemon juice
1 and one-third tablespoon grated orange zest
Make icing by combining cream, juice, zest. Unmold cake and frost. Decorate with orange slices and cherries. Keep refrigerated until ready for presentation.