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Pulling Together Like Buddy

by Pettus Read

I don't know if you have ever tried to trace your ancestry, but it can get real interesting at times. Just recently, I found some old family photos that include several pictures of a gentleman made around the time following the Civil War. There were shots made on the grounds of the Hermitage and the gravesite of President Andrew Jackson, causing me to wonder what my family was doing with these old flashes from the past. After a week or two of going through family records, I found that the pictures were of my great uncle and a favorite of my grandfather when he was growing up. With some Internet investigation, I even found where he had been a member of the 18th Tennessee Infantry during the war and was a color bearer at the Battle of Murfreesboro along with other numerous engagements during those turbulent times in our country's history.

Also, the reason his picture was made around the Hermitage was due to there being a Confederate Soldiers Home located near the grounds and he often visited there as well as attended several reunions. It was something to see what the grounds around the former President's home looked like back in those days compared to today's reconstruction and renewal efforts being done by the association that takes care of the facilities now. Just like my old great uncle standing there in the photo holding his battle years saber near Rachael Jackson's tomb during the years after his "cause" lost the war, the black and white picture shows the Hermitage grounds in a state of gloom as well.

But, locating this relative's history renewed my interest in tracing our family history. It reminded me of many years ago when I asked my grandfather, who was a county magistrate at one time, about our family history. I have always wanted to have the family history traced, but I couldn't afford to spend a lot of money to do it. So, I asked him if he had any suggestions.

He had just finished a tough county election where his challenger had been pretty rough on him and had worked hard at trying to dig up some skeletons from our family closet.

Grandfather answered me fairly quickly and merely said, "Yes, I have a suggestion for running down a family history. Just run for public office."

After what we have all just gone through over the summer and the fall with the campaigns around here, my grandfather's advice was pretty much on target many years ago. Now with everyone attempting to pick up the pieces and get on with making our governments what the people want, maybe we can take a lesson from a story I heard several years ago about a farmer and his team of horses. It happened back when the roads were dirt or somewhat graveled and many of them had grass growing in the middle. It was during the time when most of the early rural "expressways" could be classified as the roads less graveled, rather than the roads less traveled.

Late one evening around dusky-dark, an out-of-towner drove his big city car into a ditch on an out of the way little county road. But, lucky for him, a farmer by the name of Ben came to help the man with his big Belgium horse named Buddy.

Ben hitched Buddy up to the car and yelled, "Pull, Nellie, pull!"

Buddy didn't move.

Then Ben hollered, "Pull, Buster, pull!"

Buddy didn't respond to that either.

Once more Ben commanded, "Pull, Mac, pull!"

Still nothing happened and the out-of-towner started to get worried.

Then Ben nonchalantly said, "Pull, Buddy, pull!"

And the horse easily dragged the car right out of the ditch.

The out-of-towner was most appreciative, but was very curious about what he had just seen. He had heard some of the local folks call Buddy by his name and even heard Ben call him that when he first arrived at the accident scene. He asked Ben why he called his horse by the wrong name three times.

Ben pulled out his bright red bandana and wiped his brow as a mischievous grin spread across his face. He answered the man with this explanation and said, "Oh, Buddy is blind and if he thought he was the only one pulling, he wouldn't even try!"

Let's hope that what the future holds for our governments will be a whole lot more folks pulling like Buddy, but not having to be tricked to do so. It seems the people have spoken for what they want, but let's not be blind to the fact that sometimes what you asked for is not necessarily what you really thought it would be, but is best in the long run. "Pull, Buddy, pull!"


- Pettus L. Read is editor of the Tennessee Farm Bureau News and Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation.  He may be contacted by e-mail at

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