Sulphura is two miles from Chestnut Hill on down Dobbins Pike toward Gallatin.
In December, 1908, it consisted of two stores, one on either side of a small creek, between two small hills. This creek was fed by a Sulphur spring which gave its name to the community.
The older store was on the north side of the little creek. It was just one room in Mr. Will (may have been Dye’s) house. There was not too great a variety of things for sale, a few places of calico and gingham, needles, thread, tablets, pencils, coffee, sugar, beans and some other staples.
I remember once when my mother had me with her in the store I was very much taken, as a little girl, with a piece of blue calico with a border down one side, so Mother bought two yards to make me an all-over apron. It was five cents a yard.
In the room with the store was also the post office for the community. Mail came out once a week from Fountain Head, and everyone went to the post office to pick up their mail.
In 1907 or 1908, the first Rural Routes were put in and Sulphura was on Route 3. Mr. Barney Whiteside was our mail carrier for years. He drove in an open buggy and in cold weather and had a lighted lantern between his feet under a heavy lap robe. He wore great heavy gloves, but when he would get stamps for anyone from a metal box beside him on the seat his hands would get red and stiff with the cold.
The other store on the opposite side of the creek was owned and operated in 1908 by Mr. Jack Thomerson. He sold out to Calvin Freeland, son of Elvis Freeland who had the Oak Grove store.
Mr. Calvin had the first car in the community. I don’t remember the make. I do remember it was red and the first car I ever rode in. Mother and I had spent the day with Mrs. Freeland, and Mr. Calvin offered to take us home.
Bert Brizendine was spending the day also and she rode with us and then back, as she lived on the other side of the store. We all got in and he drove down the little hill and across the little creek and started up the little hill on the other side, tried several times and couldn‘t make it, so he said we had better get out and walk up the hill. Minus the passengers the car went right on up and we rode the rest of the way.
Mr. Calvin sold the store to Chestine Brown who later sold it to his oldest son, Walter, who ran it (for) a number of years until he was elected to the office of County Trustee. He held that position for years.
Walter sold it to his brother, Olie, who ran it for years with his wife, Louise.
Across the road from the store was a blacksmith shop where farmers had their horses shod. Beside it was a grist mill where people took corn to be ground into meal. You could pay for having it ground or give a certain portion of the meal.
On past the store a little way was an old church building and by it a graveyard. James A. Brizendine, great-grandfather of Nell Ruth Lane of Portland, gave the land for the church and graveyard. The church was East Station Camp Church and of the Primitive Baptist faith. They held a foot-washing meeting every first Sunday in May. People came in buggies, wagons and on horseback for miles.
As long as the church held services the building and land was theirs, but if it ceased, the property would revert to James A.’s heirs. On past the church on the opposite side of the road, and where a road turned off Dobbins Pike to Fountain Head, stood a one-room schoolhouse with a shelf across the back of the room for lunch pails and, in this case, two water buckets, one for sulphur water from the spring and one for good well water.
Will Bennett was the teacher in 1909, and for several years. I don't remember it happening, but the schoolhouse must have burned down, as for a number of years school was held in the old church building, with children sitting in the pews and writing on their laps on their slates or tablets.
Lillian Brown Brizendine was one of the teachers, followed by Dinkye Hodges, who taught a number of years. Ewing Brizendine built a house where the old schoolhouse had been and he and his wife operated the first switchboard for our Home Mutual Telephone Co. It was put in operation sometime between 1910 and 1912.
It was a wonderful addition to the communities on the Ridge. All lines were party lines of eight telephones. Instead of a dial you turned a little crank on the side of the telephone box. Our ring was one long ring and one short. It was called one and a half. Our line was eighteen. If something of importance happened, the switchboard operator rang all lines and everyone listened to the news. If you missed answering your phone before it stopped ringing you could ask the operator who called, and he would always tell you.
After Ewing Brizendine had the switchboard for a number of years a house was built across the road for the switchboard with rooms for the operator’s family so emergency calls could be answered at night. There was no connection with Gallatin or Portland until later. It remained in operation until 1951, when the ice storm tore down the lines. The community was without telephone service then for about three months until the North Central Telephone Cooperative system was installed.
Sulphura had a sorghum mill where a horse or mule walked round and round in a circle led by a pole that guided him. His walking turned the 12 to 14 inch heavy rollers and crushed the sorghum stalks fed over a wood fire. As it moved slowly to the other end of the pan it thickened and became delicious sorghum molasses.
Farmers raised sorghum, stripped off the leaves and brought a wagon load or more of stalks to the mill to be made into sorghum molasses, and would take home one or two five-gallon lard stands full. How good it was on hot biscuits and corn bread with homemade butter!
Oak Grove, Chestnut Hill and Sulphura have been my home territory for 78 of my 88 years. I am thankful I grew up in neighborhoods where people cared for each other. If one man was sick the neighbors would plant his crop or, if in later summer or fall, harvest it. Never thought of charging the neighbor.
In wheat-threshing time all the neighbors took their teams and wagons and helped each other. The wives went too, and helped prepare a real feast. As a child I enjoyed those feasts. And I still love my home territory.