LOOKING BACK: An ‘old-timer’ family from the Civil War to Duncan School

Grotis McGuire was born April 19, 1882, at Howard’s Mill, 4 miles south of Nashville down on Salt Creek. Kelley Woods was between his family’s farm and the state park.

The homestead is long gone and the house burned. The outbuildings gradually disintegrated, and there’s nothing left on the old place.

Alfred McGuire, grandfather of Grotis, was a Union soldier in the Civil War. He settled this homestead after coming to Brown County from Owen County.

Seralvo McGuire, known as Al, was born on that property in 1849 and also farmed it, as did Grotis, who was one of six children.

“Al” was one of the old-timers whose pictures are displayed in the Old Country Store operated by the Nashville House. He lived to be 94½ and died in 1944.

It was Al, Grotis’ father, who conceived the idea of putting the old Green Valley road up on the banks of Salt Creek, instead of following the creek bed as it did in many places. A lot of people complained about it, at first. They said it would be a lot of expense for a road that wouldn’t hold.

Grotis’ grandmother was Annie Jackson of Brown County. She was raised on Jackson Branch which was named for her family.

Grotis’ mother was Lucy Jane Hatchett, who died in 1937 at age 87. She and Al lived all of their lives in Brown County until they moved to Illinois to stay with Grotis and his wife in 1934.

Grotis’ wife, Myrtle, whom he married in 1911, was a California native. They had three children: Irene, Clifford and Max. She died in 1971 at age 83.

As a teenager, Grotis would spend his summers working in the cornfields in Illinois, as did many Brown County farm people. The young men he knew in the Belmont area were the Bay boys, the McDonalds, the Ciscos and the Breedloves.

Closer to home were the Rose brothers (Theodore, Charley, Walter and Bill), Curt Smith and the Sturgeons. He was also close to Clyde Bond. Clyde was an uncle of Earl Bond.

Grotis went all eight grades at the Duncan School on Lower Schooner. It was a two-mile hike through the woods from his home.

Grotis farmed all his life except for a brief time he drove a bakery truck, and then had a brief factory experience and a fling at construction work. For 38 years, Grotis sold hybrid seed corn.

Other reminiscences include his grandfather chopping wood for the boilers at the old salt wells at the mouth of Jackson Creek.

Alfred McGuire and others took their pay in salt and sold it by the cup from door to door in Bloomington and Columbus.

When he was 14 or 15, Grotis bought his first suit of clothes from Tom Gibson’s store in Morgantown.

The last panther Grotis heard of, about 1860, attacked his Uncle Harvey’s horse (ridden by Harvey at the time) in a place called Low Gap just east of the McGuire homestead, on the main route to Nashville. Neither the horse nor Harvey was injured.

A favorite spot Grotis wanted to see every time he visited Brown County was the old Duncan Cemetery. His parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents and other relatives are buried there.

— Pauline Hoover, Brown County Historical Society