Sevier County Museum
Interview with: Mrs. A E Pettigrew on August 7, 1979; at her home.
Interviewed by: Louise Thompson
Ethel Millwee Pettigrew, who was born 85 years ago five miles east of De Queen, remembers much of the early times of the county. A talk with her is a real treat as she takes one back through the years. she recalls her first ice cream, getting away from a bear, walking behind the coffin to the little cemetery, and riding three on a horse to De Queen for supplies.
Mrs. Pettigrew's grandmother, Julia Davis, who raised her, came to Arkansas in 1848 from Georgia. She cried three weeks after she got here as the move was so strange, but her daddy, Mr. Davis, who was a farmer, built a house near Fairview and began to farm.
The grandmother (Julia) married Dr. Jim Hadley and when Ethel Pettigrew's mother died, the grandmother took the two little girls, Ethel and Irene, into her home and heart.
"Grandmother never hit us a lick in our lives," said Mrs. Pettigrew." Noble Millwee, the father, died within a few years of his wife's death, but Mrs. Hadley (grandmother)was always afraid some of the Millwees would try to take the little girls.
Dr. Hadley had built a log house but soon built a bigger home as the family was growing. The kitchen was logs and apart from the rest of the house, which was of good lumber. It had two stories and a fine stairway which Mrs. Pettigrew remembers vividly.
The old log house stood for years and was used by people passing through as temporary shelter. Grandmother Hadley had a fine garden and an orchard nearby.
Dr. Jim Hadley raised a pretty good stock of cattle. (Mrs. Pettigrew grew eloquent over the milk they had) and he was good at making furniture. He grew poppies to make his opium for sedation. They smoked their meat, made soap and hominy, picked the berries that grew nearby and walked into De Queen for supplies.
"I don't know how we did it," said Mrs. Pettigrew, "But we just took off through the woods to go anywhere and never got lost!"
After her husband's death, Mrs. Hadley went to Central area near Horatio to care for a sick relative. Ethel was 13 years old then. She attended school at the Weems schoolhouse and carried her lunches in a syrup pail. Dillard Millwee from Lockesburg was the teacher.That is where she met the boy she later married. The recesses were spent playing baseball.
I asked Mrs.Pettigrew if she remembered any frightening experiences. She said, "Not Many. Life was pretty quiet, but I do remember a tornado that came when we lived at Fairview and blew the tents away of some people camping by the old log house. They woke us up hollering."
She also told of seeing a bear as she and Irene were walking home from Wallace Hill school while living in Fairview Community. They were using the log railroad as a path, but they quietly slipped around through the trees and made it safely home!
The worst scare for Ethel as a little girl in the neighborhood was this: "And there was a man nearby we thought was a hunted man (He was afraid of a bounty hunter) who got angry and killed people's stock if he thought they had it in for him, but mostly people were good. Good thing, too, for we didn't have many laws."
After the move to Central, Horatio was the nearest town and from there Ethel took an occasional trip to visit in De Queen. A cousin, Tom Meredith, was editor of the De Queen Bee, she said. Most of her 85 years have been spent in the area of central Sevier County.
She married Alonzo Pettigrew October 8, 1911, and raised 6 children. her oldest daughter, Vida Traywick, has moved back to Horatio and lives near her mother. (1979) Mrs. Pettigrew said Rev. W D Hill of the Missionary Baptist Church at Corinth performed her wedding ceremony at her home, after which they were loudly treated to a shivaree.
Next will be an interview with Mr. T M "Mack" Ridley.