August 2021

Gay Zinn's Adventures with the Horses

Horse is spooked and runs off. Drives into bees nest. Needs to put down an injured horse - but not on Sunday.

By Bobbi Spiker-Conley

The agricultural revolution of the 19th and early 20th centuries was powered by horses. They provided the greatest part of the labor on the farms (to plow, plant, and cultivate fields; to haul feed, bedding, and manure, etc.,) and the greatest part of local transportation (with horse-drawn carriages, buggies, and in the winter, by horse-drawn sleighs and sleds.) The horse was valued and essential; loss by theft or injury could mean ruin.*

Not surprisingly, there were many accidents. Horses often became frightened by noises, objects in the road, or even other horses. Such was the case in many of Gay Zinn’s descriptions of her “adventures with the horses.”

4 May 1905 – “I am out to my sister [Fay]’s on a visit…My horse run off and left me and the buggy out here, but my brother-in-law went after him and caught him.”

14 May 1905 – “I rode a colt to Holbrook the other day and allmost [sic] frightened everybody of the creek. They were all out looking at me and telling me to be careful and [saying] she isn’t safe. I told them they were more nervous about me than I were myself.”

17 Sep 1905 – “[My brother] Manley is about as bad to go a driving with as you are. He made me drive all the way up there [to Grove] and half of the way back. I was going to a sale tomorrow. It will be my first sale.”

5 Oct 1905 – “I was up to Summers town yesterday. Irode one of Papa’s colts and it nigh about finished me. It just scared at evere [sic] leaf that fell by the way side and just any thing. I told them when I got home, I wouldn’t ride up that far again for it. They all laughed at me.”

21 Jan 1906 – “We got another one of our horses crippled and will have to kill her tomorrow. Pa would have had her killed today if it wasn’t Sunday. I haven’t cried any yet. I don’t know [whether] I will or not. But I hate it awful bad. For it only leaves us 2 horses that we can use very much. My colt it too young to ride much.”

22 Jan 1906 – “They are burying our horse this morning. Papa had her shot last evening.”

Jake responded on 28 Jan 1906, “I am certainly sorrow [sic] to hear that your father is having so much bad luck with his horses. The old saying is, them that has, must lose, and them that hain’t got, can.”

22 Apr 1906 – “I am going to ride [my colt] Tona this afternoon and Manley is going to ride Ma’s colt. Don’t you bet we will go a flying. Manley and I have been telling what all we are going to do. And I expect we will get set off, ha ha.”

10 May 1906 – “[My sister] Coe and I went to Summers. Manley rode the colt, and I rode Tona, and Coe rode Ma’s 2 year old. We had fun and trouble of our own.”

18 May 1906 – Jake wrote, “What do you think? I have got no horse to ride now when I want to come to see you, but I can steal one off Papa. I sold my horse Fred for one hundred and twenty-five dollars and now I have got no horse to ride.

23 May 1906, Gay responded, “You can ride my colt when you come up. He is going to be a fine saddler when I get able to ride and gait him.”

26 Jul 1906 – “I am just a little tired as I have been in the hay field all day. I came near getting my head kicked on Friday. I drove the horses in a bumble bee’s nest and what a time. I had a run away.

On 29 July 1906, Jake replied, ”My dear, you must be careful where you drive, you know. If you had got your head kicked off, then I would have to die an old bachelor, and just think how dreadful that would be.”

22 Nov 1906 – “Mama and Papa came out [to Newberne where I was visiting] yesterday and went back today. I was going to go home too, and they wouldn’t let me. I had my suit case packed and ready to go. [My brother-in-law] Henry said I shouldn’t go, and [he refused] to get my horse. So I went to the barn to get Tona, and Henry went and locked my saddle up and I couldn’t get it. I just teased and stormed, but he wouldn’t let me have the keys, so they had to go home without me. I told Henry I would make them tired enough of me. I would just stay and stay all the time and just be as cranky as possible. Henry said he wasn’t scared…Several other people was here, and they all just laughed at me because I didn’t get to go home. I told them when I got home again, I was never coming back. I can’t go home by myself for I can’t ride my colt without company. It wouldn’t do for me to try and tell them one fiftieth part of how I rared [sic].”

20 Jan 1907 – “Papa came out here yesterday on some business. We all went over to Japs (Jasper Allman’s) this morning and you ought to of saw Tona [the colt] throw me off in the mud. I bet you would of laughed. I was a muddy sight, for the mud was over my shoe tops. He was wanting to run and play, and I was holding him as he jumped two or three times and whirled, and the saddle turned and off I went. We had trouble with our horses coming back. Fay’s horse walked nearly all the way on his hind feet. We run them up the hill as fast as they wanted to go. We told Henry they had had too much oats. We are going to get them out tomorrow and jockey them up and down the meadow so we can ride them to the meeting by ourselves. They say Tona isn’t safe for me to ride by myself but I ain’t afraid of him. He can’t any more than kill me.”

27 Jan 1907 – “I have just arrived home [at the Allman’s house] from [church] meeting. It is half past nine. Henry, Fay, the children and I went to meeting in the sled today and tonight. The protracted meeting commenced today. The church is about ½ miles from here, just a few minute’s drive…I will wach [sic] Tona better after this.”

31 Jan 1907 – “I have just got home from church and such a time as we didn’t have coming down home. We have been going to all the meetings in the sled until tonight. We went on horseback. Tona had been in the stable all this time till this evening and he showed me a lively time.

25 Feb 1907 – “The protracted meeting is going on up at Holbrook. They have all been going but me. I can’t go out [on the colt] after night. If it is not too bad this week, I want to go some in the day time.”

9 March 1907 – “We had an awful bad accident Wednesday evening. Manley and Papa were hauling rails and building a fence. They had just finished and sat down to rest, and just left the horses standing. They started and ran off. They were coming down the hill, and the gray horse ran against a tree and killed himself. He struck in the breast and just dropped right there and never moved, only his head, till he died a few hours later. [Veterinarian] Roy Bee came over to see him and gave him some medicine and said, $1.50 gone. I told Roy it wasn’t the money I cared for. It was because it was Trit. We all feel so bad about it for we raised him and thought so much of it. He was such a good, gentle horse and only 7 years old…The protracted meeting commences on Bear Run Sunday night. I don’t think I shall attend any.”

On 14 Mar 1907, Jake replied, ”I certainly was sorrow [sic] to hear about your bad luck. That is three horses that you folks has lost in the last two years and a half. There was one thing that I was glad to hear and that was to hear that my little girl is O.K.”

24 Mar 1907 – “My horse is much better but isn’t well yet by a long ways. Roy came over that Sunday evening. He said we made a mistake by not having him doctored sooner. He came near being nerved. If he had of been, he would of lost feeling of his foot. Roy left two big bottles of medicine and showed me how to doctor him. I doctor him by myself.”

1 Apr 1907 – “I am out to sister Fay’s…I have got [my colt] Tona out here with me. Manley rode him out and I rode Mama’s colt. Tona isn’t well yet, but he just runs and kicks all the time. We was over to Jap’s yesterday and Jap cut Tona’s antidote off. I didn’t want it cut off either. I could of just cried. I told him I was going to tell you on him if I ever got a chance. I am going to fix his horses’ tails a plenty, ha ha. I will tell you what Roy said when I can see you. Oyes, Manley wants to buy Tona. He says he will give a $100 and no more. Of course, that is almost all he is worth now, but if I keep him awhile, he will sell for more. What do you say? Sell him to Manley or keep him a while longer?”

On 3 Apr 1907, Jake answered, ”Gay, you just do as you like with Tona. He is yours. Wait till I come out and will talk to you about it.”

9 Apr 1907 – “Tona hurt his leg over again last night, nearly as bad as ever. I told Manley I was so worried, I had a notion to get a gun and shoot him. He was getting almost well, and now he is nearly as bad as ever.”