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By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

From horse and buggy to automobiles, from the telegraph to the Internet, from small farming community to full-fledged town, Hartsville and Trousdale County have seen plenty of progress over the last hundred years.

And bearing witness to all of those changes was Evelyn Woodmore, a Hartsville woman who says she is “still going strong” at the age of 101.

The Vidette recently had the opportunity to talk with Woodmore, who lives with her daughter, grandson and great-granddaughter.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Evelyn Woodmore, seated, is shown with her daughter Willene Carr.

Woodmore was born on Dec. 20, 1916 and was the oldest of six children to William and Gracie Gregory.

“I’m the only one who’s still living,” Woodmore said. “And I’m the oldest!”

Woodmore’s father was a farmer in the Cato Community and she recalled life on the farm in her younger days, early in the 20th century. She said the farm was in what was known as the Johnny Dyer Hollow in that area.

“He raised tobacco, corn and cattle – milk cows,” Woodmore said. “I would can fruit, pick strawberries and blackberries. Then I would help Mother can tomatoes, apples and more.”

She recalled learning to quilt at her mother’s side, making lye soap, helping to strip tobacco, helping tend to her younger siblings and also remembered having spring water from the hollow piped into the house.

Woodmore said she and her siblings walked to the Maces Hill School until her father sold the farm and the family moved to Dixon Creek Road. She then went to the Cato school.

As a child Woodmore rode with the family to the Missionary Baptist church they attended each Sunday in a horse and buggy, but she never recalls going into downtown Hartsville itself.

“I stayed on the farm till I married,” she said. “I rode a pony, Ol’ Blue Bell, and then I had another, Ol’ Rex. Mother and Daddy used to tell me not to make the horse gallop, but when I’d get out of sight of them, I’d get me a switch and there I’d go!”

Woodmore did not ride in a car until her father purchased one when she was 12, she recalled.

“Daddy bought a T-Model car,” she said. “He didn’t care much about driving. Mother did the driving.”

Photo courtesy of the Woodmore family
This picture from around 1960 shows Evelyn Gregory Woodmore, her parents and five siblings. Pictured are from left: front row, Nancy, Willie Grace, William (Teapot), Gracie, Evelyn. Back row, Gerald, Truman, Adron. At 101 years old, Evelyn is the sole surviving sibling.

She recalled one of the major floods early in the 1920s and having to go with her daddy as he went to rescue Evelyn’s aunt in Hartsville from rising floodwaters. Woodmore estimated she was 6 years old at the time.

“He had to drive the horse out in the water to turn around and it scared me!” she said. “I though we were going to drown.”

Evelyn married James Erby Woodmore in 1935 at the age of 18 and lived with him in the Woodmore Hollow for the first several years of their marriage before moving to Nashville in 1944. They had one daughter, Willene Carr.

The Woodmores were married until Erby passed away in 1991, Evelyn recalled.

Woodmore recalled that her husband was spared from having to fight in World War II, as he was unable to pass the required physical because of poor hearing.

Erby worked at Tasty Bread and then took a job at Davis Cabinet Company, Evelyn recalled. They returned to Trousdale County in 1957 and he worked at Crescent Manufacturing.

“I remember I didn’t want to move!” said Willene Carr.

After returning from Nashville, Evelyn held a number of jobs. She helped run a small country store near Dixon Springs for 10 years, worked at the old Texas Boot factory, worked in the hospital, a nursing home, in the school system and a daycare before retiring in 2001. She also helped care for her own mother, who passed away in 1988 at the age of 93.

“I worked till I was 84 years old,” Woodmore said with a sense of pride. “I decided I was getting to where I couldn’t hardly hold out.”

Submitted photo
This picture shows Evelyn Woodmore, now 101, as a 2-year-old child.

The Woodmores moved to their current home in 1989, and Evelyn remains there with her daughter, grandson and great-granddaughter, a junior at Trousdale County High School.

Evelyn recalled some of the many changes she has seen in Trousdale County during her 101 years.

“Hartsville has really changed! There used to be a lot more stores, the movie theater, and the skating rink,” she said.

Despite a few surgeries, a walker and hearing aids in both ears, Woodmore said she remains in good health and is as spry as she ever was. Although her hands no longer allow her to quilt or do the word puzzles she loves, she now enjoys television game shows, especially “Family Feud” and “The Price Is Right.”

“I never dreamed I’d ever live to be 101,” Woodmore said. “I feel like I may just make 102!”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.