Luther Henry Quarterman was born Oct. 5, 1870, at Canoochee Bluff. He married Mary Elizabeth Walker from McIntosh County. Luther did many things in his long lifetime, but he enjoyed the lumber business most.
He also was interested in starting chapels in the Presbyterian Church. He set up the first chapel in Allenhurst, which now is a nice church. In 1939, Luther retired from public working and settled down on a small farm. He selected 25 acres of land across from the historic Flemington Presbyterian Church and built a good six-room, central-heated bungalow. This home now is occupied by Lawrence Hammack.
In 1941, Luther left Savannah and moved to the little farm to try farming and raising livestock. He planted several hundred fruit trees, built a large scuppernong grape arbor and much more. He purchased a small herd of full-blooded Angus and Hereford cows and a barn full of mules and horses, and he began buying and selling stock at the sales stables. He enjoyed riding Play Boy, his registered Tennessee Walker.
His dear wife of more than 50 years died Nov. 6, 1959. Shortly after, he left his fine place in Flemington and moved in with his daughter, Leonora, in Savannah in the Ashantilly Apartments that he built 27 years earlier.
Leonora, a famous sketcher and painter, did many famous paintings of Savannah scenes as well as the sketches for her parents’ books. She died in 1979. Luther had a son, Edward William “Riley” Quarterman, born in 1913 and also died in 1979.
When Luther was 90 years old, he wrote a small book, “Reminiscences of a Country Boy,” in which he told his life story. I really enjoyed reading this book and learning more about history that took place in the areas around us. His wife wrote one about her childhood, “The Home at the Bluff,” even though she did not live to see it published.
I enjoyed the story he told about ’coon and ’possum hunting. I remember my brother, Tommy, trapping coons when he was young, drying the hides and selling them. I can still see the hides tacked up on the walls of the shed out back. Sometimes, Mama cooked a ’coon for supper, and it was so good! She boiled it until tender and then baked it in the oven until golden brown.
“After a hard day of working at the cane mill and grinding syrup on a very cold day came the best part. About 10 o’clock at night, the furnace fire was put out, and everyone called it a day and went in for a snack and bed (except us boys and Moses, the help). When everything got quiet, we rounded up our bunch of fice, currs, hounds and everything that went by the name of “dog” including of course, Old Rover, the big shaggy old faithful. With a homemade smoked sausage in one pocket and a yellow sweet potato in the other, and Moses with an ax on his shoulder and a bundle of lightwood kindling under his arm, off we went on a visit to every persimmon tree within a radius of several miles. The ’possum that was out that night for a feast was apt to find himself dangling by his tail from the hand of a husky boy, or perhaps just playing ’possum in a gunny sack. But, that wasn’t the worst of it for Mr. ’Possum! We would make camp in an old field under a wide-spread oak where soon we had a good fire going. In time, the dry limbs were burned into a beautiful bed of coals for roasting potatoes and barbecuing our sausage, which was done with much hilarity while Moses ‘singed’ and roasted Mr. ’Possum over the coals, then said, ‘Quiet down, boys. Let’s eat.’ Then there was some eating done! ’Possum and ’tater, Southern style!” (This probably took place around the year 1885 when Luther was 15 years old.)
“After that, we would loll around or wrestle on the carpet of clean pine needles or just toast our toes around the campfire while Moses entertained us with his weird Uncle Remus stories, many of which, I’m sure, Uncle Remus has not yet gotten around to. For instance, the one about ‘The nanny goat that fell into the well, and Brer’ Wolf pulled her out by her tail and bit the tail off, and that’s why goats forever have short tails.’ We waited for Old Rover to call by his lusty baying to come shake another nice fat ’possum out of a persimmon tree; or perhaps, one that didn’t have a chance to get to a tree and took refuge in a gopher hole, which would mean a long process of digging him out with the able assistance of us boys. It was just possible that when Rover brought him out, it was a skunk instead of a ’possum. Despite years of practice and many sad experiences, Rover did make this mistake occasionally, thus putting an untimely end to that night’s hunt.
“At other times we would go from farm to farm chasing and, if possible, catching coons that were destroying corn in the fields. It was a standing rule that when we hunted coons in a farmer’s cornfield that we were entitled to help ourselves to a watermelon if we could find the patch. In this, we were expert and never missed the melons even if we missed the coon. But, on one occasion, we unintentionally imposed on our melon privilege. After we had made a good job of our ’coon hunting, naturally we wanted our watermelon. Not one of us knew where the melon patch was located. We scattered in every direction over the field with the understanding that the one who found the melon patch was to get a melon large enough for all of us.
“Unfortunately for our farmer friend, his melon patch consisted of one long row all the way across the field and each boy, when he crossed it, supposed that he was the only one who had found the melons. So, when we met at the appointed place for resting and feasting, we had six huge melons for six boys to eat! We did the best we could under the unfortunate circumstances but we certainly didn’t visit any more melon patches that night!”
Another situation I read about Luther made me realize what a tough and ingenious fellow he was.
He was on a horse every day even at the time he was sworn in as a town councilman! Before he got Play Boy, he was riding a half-broken filly on his farm in Flemington (about age 72) looking for some stray cattle. Something spooked the filly in the dense, desolate woods, and she reared and fell backwards, pinning Luther under her, leaving him unconscious.
When he came to, the filly was standing beside him with the bridle reins still in his hands. He tied the reins securely to his wrists and took stock of the situation. He realized his backbone was broken; he was almost helpless from his waist down. It was nearly dark and very cold. He knew something had to be done quickly, or he would be finished. He knew that if he stayed in that remote area, no one could find him soon enough and his wife would not even be home until midnight as they had gone to concert in Savannah. A farmer had moved off his place just a few days before. He decided it was up to him, the filly and Providence.
Necessity being the mother of invention, he put his wits to work. He saw a pine sapling 6 yards away. He finally managed to roll over on his stomach and pull himself along by clutching to hills of wiregrass until he reached the tree. From time to time, he blacked out and came back to. Finally, he reached the tree and by slowly putting one hand above the other on the tree he managed to pull himself up in severe pain.
He pulled himself up until he could fall over the filly and left it up to her to find the way home. He wondered how he would get off when he arrived as no one was there. The farmer and his son had been to the farm the day before to harvest a patch of sugar cane, and the kid had left his shoes in the barn. They were there to fetch them and were leaving the barnyard when the filly arrived at the gate. They helped him to the bedroom.
A man from a tombstone company in Savannah was across the road in the Flemington Presbyterian Cemetery finishing some work. He saw the commotion and went to help. He called a doctor and ambulance, and soon Luther was in a hospital in Savannah. Many days later and eight weeks in a cast from his armpits to his ankles, he finally recovered. At long last, he was back in the saddle and chasing strayed cattle again!
Luther died at the age of 98 in 1968 and is buried in McIntosh County.