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November 05, 2007

The Story of the Churn

In the year 1885 a man named Cartwright arrived in Martinsville, Virginia.

He introduced a churn to the elite and people who would be interested in buying stock in his new company. Business men, both young and old, bought rights to the patent, both State and County rights. This churn, Cartwright told everyone, could get the butter out of the milk in three minutes!

The new churn churned water so beautifully that no one doubted that it would not work by using milk the same way Cartwright had used water. Cartwright collected the money, much cash, and left the area. It was not until after his departure from the Martinsville area that the churn was found to be worth nothing at all, just good to look at and not made for churning milk at all. This was the last of Cartwright!

Dr. William Wade Morris was born March 2, 1836 and married Emmaline Schoolfield. Emmaline's father was a Methodist preacher and founded the Mt. Bethel Methodist Church. The Morris family lived in the old Schoolfield house in the Mt. Bethel community.

Dr. Morris was a Captain in the Confederate Army, the 42nd Infantry. He was injured in the line of duty, shot in his leg and was left slightly lame for the rest of his life. He lived to be ninety years ago. He evidently knew Mr. Cartwright and knew the men who were swindled as he wrote a poem soon after Cartwright's departure. It is entitled 'Song of the Churn' and follows:

Wish I'd had the smallpox,

And the fever in its turn;

The day I met young Cartwright,

In the buggy with the Churn!

Go it, Cartwright!Go it,

You are the coming man

You soaked well Henry Lester

Please tell us, Who else can?

And Hamilton's friend Charlie,

Has learned his lesson well;

That the way to make most money

Is to run a live Hotel.

One more name, next in order

Whom young Cartwright did not miss;

He made a haul among the Barkers,

And lifted 'Big Man Chris'.

Other names would deck my story,

If the names could be rhymed with;

Among the Joneses quite a number,

If I mistake not, J. Moss Smith.

Yes, all these took to nibbling.

Nor could ever be kept straight;

All the 'smallfry' bought by Counties,

But Henry Lester swallowed State.

'I, too, want a County,'

Said a lawyer with a snarl;

'And because old Massey's in it

You may give me Albermarle.'

Come on, Big Fool Killer,

For Henry never waits;

Hereafter, if one doubts it,

I'll tell of St. John's Gate.

Now, when they write from Nashville,

To know just what is said,

Write them plainly, Cartwright,

The Fools are not all dead.

All my nearest neighbors,

To Cartwright paid their bill;

Hodges and Woodson Bassett,

And Miss Judith Parks America Hill.

To these I send greeting,

Whom no humbug ever sells;

But my poem is too late coming,

To Bill Hill and Tom P. Wells.

Miss Judith America Parks Hill was the author of 'History of Henry County, Virginia' in 1925 and this poem was included in her book, possibly because she was one of the investors in The Churn. The original poem 'Song of the Churn' was given to Mrs. Shirley Brightwell Bassett, along with the churn itself. We do not know for certain who in the family gave the churn to Mrs. Bassett; however, her husband, George Walter Bassett, was a descendant of Woodson Bassett who is noted in the poem.

The glass churn is in great condition and is now at home and on display at the Bassett Historical Center.










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