This is another Pike County memory from William Weinrich talking with his uncle, James Scott, when he was a resident of Pike Nursing Home in Piketon.
James told of when he was a small boy living on a farm on Higby Road north of Omega, his grandpa had a team of mules he had raised and broke to work. Uncle Jim told William about the time the mules ran off and ran into a Norfolk and Western train. Jim Scott lived on the Rittenour farm and remembers this escapade well, although he was just a small boy at the time.
Great Grandpa raised a mule colt and named him “Jack.” Later on down the road, he bought another mule colt and named him “Billy.”
Great Grandpa had four sons: William Stanley, Jim, Cliff, and Jack Scott. William was my Grandpa (says William Weinrich, the author).
To break a team of young horses or mules to work, it takes a lot of patience and a lot of time. The first thing to do is break them to lead, and that is done when the colts are very young. Then when the colts are yearlings or a little older, they were broke to work harness and bridle. When both of the colts got used to the harness, they were put together and taught to drive by a person. They were taught to respond to “Gee” and “Haw.” “Gee” was to turn right. “Haw” was to turn left. “Whoa” was to stop. “Back” was to back up.
When the mules were about two years old, they were hooked to a sled and taught to stand while the farmer forked the manure off the sled.
Gradually, they were hooked to something heavier and when they graduated to the riding cultivator at the time to plow corn.
This is the story of two young mules my Great Grandfather Scott had way back in the 1930s.
My Great Uncle Cliff Scott, was plowing corn with the young mules, “Billy” and “Jack” not far from where my Uncle and his brothers and sisters lived. The sun got high and Uncle Cliff got thirsty, so he stopped the mules and got off the cultivator and went back to get his water jug.
When Uncle turned their heads to see where he was, then like a flash of lightning, they took off as hard as they could run, and the way Uncle Jim talked, they were really “carrying the mail.”
Great Uncle Cliff was plowing corn in a big, flat field upon a hill and to go to the house, you had to go down a long lane. The N&W railway track lay at the bottom of the hill and the mules were headed towards the railroad tracks in order to get home, but they didn’t quite make it. The N&W freight train was on its way from Omega going to Chillicothe and as the mules started down the hill, dragging the cultivator with them. The train beat them to the crossing and the mules ran into the freight train and that was what happened. Uncle Jim said that you could hear Uncle Cliff clear to the house hollering and cussing. He would get out of breath and have to stop and rest.
The only damage the mules did was to break the tongue out of the riding cultivator. The mules never got a scratch on them. After the train passed, the mules headed for home. The lane to the house was pretty long and the mules came down the lane as hard as they could run. Uncle Jim said you never heard such a racket in your life because the cultivator was still hooked to the mules.
Uncle Jim said that he and his brothers and sisters got on the porch real quick. The mules ran around the house and what stopped them was a clothes prop for a line. The mules straddled the clothes line prop. Finally, Great Uncle Cliff got to the house and after he and Grandpa got the cultivator unhooked, and then they hooked up to another one and went back on the hill to plow corn.
This is dedicated to James Scott and his relatives.