Collins Commercial, Sept. 15, 1933
Friends Honor Pioneer Woman: “Grannie” Spell’s Log Cabin Home is Scene of Celebration
Mount Olive, Sept, 12th, down in the heart of Covington County, ten miles east of here, the friends and relatives gather this week to pay tribute to Mrs. Kaziah “Grannie” Spell, one of Covington County’s oldest citizens.
“Grannie” directed the entertainment in person, selecting old time hymns which were sung by the assembly and introducing the speakers, including Lt. Governor Dennis Murphee and Dr. F. J. Underwood, executive officer of the state board of health.
At noon a bounteous meal was spread on the tables set up under trees on the spacious lawn in front of the log cabin where “Grannie” reared a family of ten children, nine of whom are still living. The aged woman was born in the cabin which was built by her father ninety-seven years ago, and she lives there now with her youngest son, T. T. Spell.
She has lived a very active life and until three years ago, when stricken with influenza, which left her almost blind, she did all of her house work and enjoyed an active outdoor life among her flowers, chickens, and gardens. She is yet quite active despite the fact that she is almost blind. She has been a widow for many years.
She says in comparison with her earlier life and today that taxes were not as high but harder to pay. In speaking of Civil War days, the most trying of her experiences was when Union soldiers marched in and drove away her two prized saddle horses in spite of her vigorous protests.
Her people came to this county from South Carolina one hundred and fifty years ago, in 1783, this being thirty six years before the county was established in 1819. The story of this section runs the gamut stories of banditry, bushwhacking all the way from blood-curdling and Indian adventure to the stories of hardy pioneers who blazed a way into the heart of a wilderness and carved there from one of the most progressive communities in this section.
This two-story log house was the home for the Speed and Spell families for most of the 1800’s and in the early to middle 1900’s, and saw the birth of most ll the 22 Speed and Spell children. The house was built in the 1820’s by W. W. Speed, Jr. And Mr. Thomas Ates, a nearby land-owner, in Covington County, Mississippi.
It was well constructed from “heart” pine hewn logs and ceiled with hewn boards. William Wages Speed, Jr. And Keziah Duckworth Speed lived here on what was called the “Home Forty”, rearing 10 of 11 children, one having been still-born.
Their daughter, Keziah Catherine “Kid” Speed married William Frederick “Bill” Spell on January 4, 1866. One year later, on January 29, 1987, Kid’s parents deeded to her and Bill Spell “their entire estate of a two-storied log house (as shown), farm buildings, and 455 acres of land for $1 and to be cared for the remainder of their lives”. A portion of this land had been acquired by W. W. Speed, Jr. As a “patent” from the United States in 1841. Here the Spells reared 10 children (11 were born but the 2nd lived only 4 days).
During those busy years the place grew to have the log-house, kitchen, dairy and dining room joined to “The Big House” with halls, porches and extra storage rooms. The upstairs bedroom was reached by a ladder on the wall in the “main room”. A “Boy House” was also built across from the main house, and was later used by the boys to entertain their “guests”. The farm buildings included a chicken house, smoke house, milk barn, mule barn, molasses mill house, sheep barn, a blacksmith shop and a brick kiln, with slave houses in the back and a slave cemetery across from the front. The old slave houses of logs were remembered for picking geese, spinning, weaving, and useful storage places. There also were water wells, gardens and orchards, beautiful arbors, flowers and herb beds.
One of Grandmother Keziah Catherine’s favorite stories was the time Governor McWillie, of Jackson, with his fine spans of horses and a surrey, stopped overnight en-route to Ellisville. She was four years old, and she remembered the entourage stopped with their oxcarts and oxen to purchase supplies. The large clearing where the oxen were hobbled for the night was called “Baldy” because of the abundance of salt in the troughs. Nothing has ever grown there since. Governor McWillie, on his return, took little Keziah Speed in his lap and gave her a pair of pretty little red Moroccan shoes.
Grandmother Keziah lived in the old home with her youngest son, Thomas Spell, who never married. She died in 1937 at the age of 91, and was preceded in death by her husband, William, who died of hard toil and apoplexy in 1905. She had lived to see 54 of her grandchildren to adulthood.
The house stood for about 160 years and was torn down in November of 1985 to provide a house cite for William Wages Speed’s Great-Great-Granddaughter, Jeri Vaughn Ellzey.