"The Homeplace"

The Isham S. Haston Family

By Andrew LaRowe

I am just old enough to have had the opportunity to know someone that was born on a farm in Tennessee in 1881. Della Myrtle Haston was my great-grandmother. She came to Winston Salem, North Carolina to live with her daughter, Arabelle, and they lived three houses down the street from where I grew up. From my earliest days, I would sit on her lap, and she would tell me stories of her home in the Hickory Valley, halfway between Sparta in White County, and Spencer in Van Burren County near the Caney Fork River. She was the next to oldest with four brothers and two sisters. I knew all but one of her siblings and was by her side as each of them passed. On December 11, 1970, I arrived home from school, and as the two of us were accustomed, I laid down beside her and recounted the highlights of my day. When I noticed she was not responding, I innocently reached for an old hand that had turned ice cold only moments before a pot of coffee water on the stove boiled dry. It was the end of a day I will never forget, and the end of a wonderful long story Della trusted to my youth.

Della Myrtle Haston was the last surviving child of Isham S. Haston (1852-1931) [son of Isaac T. and Elizabeth Sparkman Haston] and Elizabeth Catherine Parker (1856-1907). My grandmother lovingly referred to the house pictured below as the “Homeplace.” The 1900 federal census indicates that Isham Haston lived in Civil District 2, White County, Tennessee. Given the names and ages of those listed as members of the household, it is relatively easy to place this (below) photo very close to 1900 and identify each person in the picture.

My grandmother Della Myrtle Haston, age 18, is the well-dressed young lady to the far left. Her sister Arie Belle Haston, age 16, is next and Elizabeth Catherine Parker, who was 43 at the time, is in the center holding 11-month-old James Roy HastonJ. The boy at the front door is Isham Haston III, age 11. The little girl is Bettie Elizabeth Haston, age 7. Isham S. Haston (wearing a hat) who was 47 at the time, is pictured next. The young man on the right side of the porch is Arthur Haston, age 14. The man on the far right is the oldest of the children, Horace Haston, age 21. This would be very close to the time Horace moved from home to start his own family, and in fact, shows up at a different location than this homeplace in the 1900 federal census.

Della subscribed to the Sparta Expositor which was regularly delivered to the house in Winston-Salem. I have a copy of the paper dated April 23, 1970, which was only a few months before she passed. It includes a half page advertisement for an auction sale of the seven-room residence and 220 acres of, “one of White County’s finest farms.” It was referred to as the “Will Haston Farm.” The picture of the homeplace showed the house without its beautiful front porch and now there were very large trees in the front yard. Della and I spent a lot of time looking at the advertisement and talking about all her memories growing up there. It made her sad to think of it being auctioned off and to see the house and the barns in such poor condition. She was certain that if the timing had been different, I would have ultimately become a successful businessman and would have been able to purchase the property and keep it in the family. 

She may have been right, although I have my own regret about the timing. I would give anything to have had an iPhone in my hand while she vividly described the details of her life at the Homeplace. While I am left with many photographs and memories of our conversations, the details are like snowflakes, each one slowly melting away.

On July 23, 2022, I attended the Haston Family Reunion in Sparta and had the good fortune to meet Harris Haston whose family owned the Homeplace after Isham S. Haston passed in 1931. At the same time, I was reacquainted with a special cousin, Carolyn Keith, and her daughter Zara. Carolyn’s grandfather was James Roy Haston, the 11-month-old baby in the 1900 photo.  We arranged to meet Harris at the nearby Old Union Church, and he guided us to the site where the house stood. He was a wealth of knowledge and spoke of days when he himself lived in the house.

So many years before, Della had described the view across the Hickory Valley when there were only two other farms within sight. I stood there for a long time trying to remember her descriptions of the fields, the farm roads and fence lines and the gentle slopes of the Cumberland Plateau. I imagined the day a photographer came by, waited patiently while they prepared to have their picture taken. At some later date, the photographer returned with several copies of the magical image of the Homeplace.
 

I am privileged that I was trusted to hold onto one of the original photographs. I will do my best to pass it along so others can enjoy it as I have.

About 1923, Isham S. Haston Family

This picture was taken about 1923 on the front porch of the Homeplace. In that year, Isham Haston on the right was around 70 years old. Elizabeth passed in 1907 and oldest son Horace Haston died in 1915. The two brothers on the front row are James Roy Haston, age 23 on the right, and Isham Haston III on the left, age 34. Arthur Haston, age 36 is seated on the porch to the left beside his sister Della Myrtle Haston, age 42. Next is Elizabeth Bettie Haston, age 30, and, Arrie Belle Haston, age 38.

Isom Haston Family History

Created by Carolyn Haston Keith and Averill Stewart Keith – 55 Pages (May 2006)

You can scroll – zoom – download – or click to go page by page

Located 500 Yards North of Old Union Cemetery

Andrew LaRowe

2421 Limner Lane

Winston-Salem, NC  27106

larowea@gmail.com

336-409-4694

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