History of Salt Creek Farm
February 4, 2005
Before Emmett and Anna Brown owned the farm it was owned by Joseph and Belle Cook. My accompanying article which was recently published by the DEMOCRAT explains some of the details of that transaction. Emmett and Anna lived on the place most of their married lives, both dying at home. Cecil and Flossie, unmarried siblings, lived all their lives there, dying many years after their parents in the community care center. There were eight children in all, three of them dying young at home.
The village of Sherman, which was named after the Civil War general, consisted of two residences, a church, a school, general store and post office. The store and post office were operated from mid-1890’s to about 1906 when the operation was closed. The homes, church and school were in use until 1917 when everything but the store was destroyed by a tornado. The neighbors suffered two fatalities.
The store building survives but not at its original site. It was pressed into use as a church for a few years. The present barn and residence were completed about 1930, built by hand by Emmett and helpers. Native lumber from the farm, sawed by local mills, was used. Foundations were made from native gravel out of the creek, mixed by hand.
There are no known pictures of the original village.
Remembering “Doc” Cook
From the Brown County Democrat newspaper… (date unknown)
It was 1900 and Emmett would say to Dr. Joseph M. Cook, “Doc, I haven’t got the money to pay what I owe you, but I just wanted you to know I hadn’t forgotten about it.” The good doctor’s reply, “That’s alright young man, I like to see a man name it.” That was Doc’s way of saying that he appreciated Emmett, acknow- ledgement of his obligation and was thus reassured that his loan was good.”
Emmett was buying a farm from Doctor Cook. It was a place called Sherman, a few miles northeast of town. It appears that a contractual sale was the basis for the transaction because Emmett didn’t get a deed until 1919 when he gave a mortgage for the balance to William J. Cook, who was Doc’s son.
Dr. Cook – physician, farmer, banker, real estate speculator, county treasurer, state legislator, benefactor – had operated a “private banking house” in Nashville for several years before a chartered bank was opened about 1905. The new bank was called Nashville State Bank. In 1907, the two operations were merged. Later the financial institution was renamed The Nashville State Bank.
The BROWN COUNTY DEMOCRAT in 1907 was effusive in its praise of Dr. Cook calling his private bank “a concern of much backbone and muscle.” As a result of the merger, Doc became a stockholder in the new bank and the DEMOCRAT referred to him as one of a “body of local stockholders composed of the best men in the county, reckoned from the standpoint of wealth and viewed from any standpoint they will grade “A No. 1.”
The DEMOCRAT went on to say, “Dr. Cook deserves much credit for the work he has done in the matter of supplying funds for the use of traders and merchants, as also for the supply of money to farmers awaiting sale of crops. He has made himself a useful citizen and as age came upon him he retired from the banking business and will look after his farming interest which he already has done much to make a respectable and profitable business. Dr. Cook ever heartily and liberally responded to the calls of distress. His modest, quiet methods of charitable work made him much beloved by the recipients and the community in general. He retires to get a needed rest and so becomes a silent factor in a business where the burden rests on others shoulders.” The esteemed gentleman died in April 19, 19??, sticken by Brigiers? disease. He was …(years old?)
More Salt Creek Farm History
Emmett opened a post office across the street in about 1890 when the little settlement was called Sherman. The old building next to Salt Creek Farmhouse was the post office and has also been used as a general store, church and living quarters.
There was a Methodist church in the “triangle” just south of theSalt Creek Farmhouse property. It was destroyed by the May 26?,1917 tornado that also knocked down a barn that was across the street. The tornado killed two people who lived in a house in the bean field just south of Brahaum Road. It’s said the man who died was found with his spoon still in his mouth and the girl’s body was found by “Sherman Lane” a little ways up the hill across the street.
After the tornado residents moved the old store down the hill to its present location next to Salt Creek Farmhouse which at that time had not yet been built. Emmett and his family may have lived in the old post office until they built Salt Creek Farmhouse. We’ve also heard they lived in a house across the creek and to the north which no longer exists but we have found many bricks in that area.
We’ve heard that Emmett built Salt Creek Farmhouse largely by himself in the late 1920’s. He dug the well next to the house and had a brass pump in the kitchen that drew water from the well. At the time the brass pump was the envy of the neighborhood. The spot for digging the well Farmhouse was discovered by Mary Marshall, who found a good vein of water by “dousing” with a peach branch. Her picture is said to be on “the wall” along with those of other old-timers at the Nashville house restaurant.
The barn was built several years before the house in about 1922.
The woods surrounding the house and across the street was pasture-land back then and there was a wallow where they cows would cross the creek. The barn is where horses were kept and there’s still and old horse drawn sled inside.
Emmett’s son farmed this land and worked on the railroad post office so he travelled frequently. We’re told that on one occasion he had to rush home from his route because he had been informed that his wife was terribly sick with
pneumonia. She was living in the general store at the time and is believed to have recovered. Another story is that one of Emmett ’s grand-daughters may have been born in the general store.
Present day Salt Creek Road was built sometime between 1919 and 1926 when the county obtained a right of way and bisected Salt Creek farm with the current road which made this formerly remote area more accessible. Prior to that, Salt Creek Road was a wagon trail or stage-coach road on the other side of the creek at the base of “Tea Hill.” That trail still exists and marks the eastern border of our property. The wagon trail crossed the creek and ended in “The Lane” which led to Sherman. The lane is now Brahaum Road and remnants of the part on our property are now a gravel brook flowing into Salt Creek, in the woods on our southern border.
The little building across the street from us was Emmett Brown’s garage and the remains of a hog house can be seen about 100 feet north of that. Also across the street and part way up “Rattlesnake Hill”, there’s another hog house and on the flat ground to the left of it is where the general store originally sat. There are a few stones remaining from the store’s foundation and others were brought to the present location to set the store on. It was probably moved down to present location on rollers and we’ve heard that it’s the oldest general store left in Nashville.
Old timers say they used to find Morel mushrooms by the big Tulip tree by the driveway and we’ve found them in the woods in April and May.
We’re told that Rattlesnakes lived under the country kitchen years ago and that Copperheads may also inhabit the area. They say that Copperheads smell like cucumbers but if we ever see one we won’t get close enough to find out!
There used to be a “swinging bridge” across Salt Creek for kids to get to school and for people on the east side of the creek to cross to this side. Later the concrete culvert bridge on Annie Smith Road replaced the swinging bridge. 4
The last occupant of Salt Creek Farmhouse before we purchased it was Flossie Brown. She took care of her invalid brother most of her adult life and neither of them ever married. He was a song writer and some of his gospel songs were reportedly published. When we purchased the house in 2006 there was no indoor plumbing and only a few light fixtures and electrical outlets. Some old timers still refer to the Salt Creek Farmhouse property as Flossie’s farm.
Behind the summer kitchen there are two or three Paw Paw trees which are also known as “Indiana Bananas.” Paw Paws taste like bananas but have a pronounced aftertaste. Before electricity was brought to the area, the house’s lights and a two burner stove were powered by a below ground gas generator. “Carbide” was put in the generator’s water tank, producing natural gas which traveled to the house through a small underground pipe. Old fashioned miners helmet lanterns work in a similar manner. The gas generator was located under the well that is behind the house and a large unused can of carbide is in the store.
There’s another well between the barn and the creek which is covered with a large circular saw blade which may have been used to cut wood for the barn.