Written by Helen Dedman
For the past 11 years the James Harrod Trust for Historic Preservation has sponsored the “History Underfoot” Cemetery Tour in September at our beautiful Spring Hill Cemetery. This is not a “ghost tour” but a performance of 5-6 characters that come to life in our cemetery. Characters from Mercer County’s past with interesting stories to tell. Here is one such story, a visitor from Maple Grove Cemetery. Come join us next year, September 11-12, 2015.
(Portrayed by Doris Bartleson) My name is Hattie Parker Crutcher. I was born in 1878, right here in Harrodsburg. My mother, Hattie Parker, was a cook at Beaumont College. You know where that is? I believe it is something like Beaumont Inn now. Well, anyway my mother cooked for all those girls, teachers, professors, just about anyone who came around and was hungry. She had some help; they hired girls to help with the cooking and men who worked at the farm there at the college. Yes, we had a big garden, cows for milking, chickens we raised for eggs and meat, pigs. In fact there used to be a big barn over there and someone told me not too long ago that now there is some kind of swimming pool where that barn was-can you imagine that, a swimming pool. Wonder if that is the same thing as a lake or pond we used to fish in? Anyway, my mama was a good, hard-working cook. She had to get up early in the morning to get breakfast ready for those girls before classes started. When I got old enough she got Colonel Smith, he was the one man running the college, to hire me as a fire girl. Know what that is? Well, I was about 9-10 years old and I would go in with Mama early in the morning. My job was to quietly go into each of the rooms, I believe there was about 20, and put a little kindling in each fireplace and coal and get it to warm up the room before the girls got up to dress. Yes, they liked me a lot because it sure could get cold in the building during the winter! I also had to cut the kindling that I used. Well, one day I was out back with my little ax, just chopping away and all of a sudden one little piece of wood hit me right in the eye. Oh my did it hurt, I ran to mama and all the cooks laid me down, cleaned my eye, made me rest, praying all the while that I wouldn’t lose my eye. But I did, just couldn’t see out of it ever again. Well, Colonel Smith heard about what happened and he came to see me. He said, “Hattie, I heard you had an accident and I am so sorry. I am told you must wear a patch over your eye.” “Yes, sir, I do, because the eyeball looks so bad.” “Well, Hattie, you know we have something in common. You see I was wounded in the War, got a bullet in my arm and I can’t use my arm, it just hangs there. So I wear a cape, instead of a jacket, kind of like your eye patch. I wear that cape with dignity and most people don’t even know I have a dead arm.” You know that made me feel so much better, so I decided I would wear my eye patch with dignity and I do, I always wear one that matches my dresses. I have blue, black, pink, even a flowered patch.
Well, now as I got older I started helping my mother with the college cooking and I came to be just about as good a cook as my mama. I sure enjoyed working with her. But along about 1917 there just weren’t as many girls coming to the college. You know we had day students from around here in Harrodsburg come to school here also. There were all types of schools around here, little private schools in homes and churches, black and white. Everybody wanted their children to learn to read and write and do their numbers. Then the government decided it they were going to get in the school business and so along comes public schooling. A grand idea but it sure put Beaumont College out of business! Several people tried to start it up again but finally it just sat vacant. I would ride by on our pony (Oh by that time I had married John, my sweet, hard working John. He was a plasterer and a good one) to look at the old building. So sad, so many memories. Well, thank goodness, I had married because I and a lot of others were out of work now. I picked up a few cooking jobs here and there but then Miss Annie came to see me. Miss Annie Bell Goddard, I mean. See Miss Annie graduated from Daughters College (that was what it was called at first) then she went away with her husband, Nick, but he died so she came home. Then she taught at the College, that’s when I got to know her, she even became the Dean of Students, whatever that is. She was heart broken when the school closed. She just couldn’t bear it, but like I said she came to see me after that building had been sitting there vacant for a few years and said, “Hattie, Mr. Glave (that is Glave Goddard, her second husband, who happened to be her first husband’s brother. She didn’t married Mr. Glave until Mr. Nick had been dead for about 20 years) and I have bought the old college building and I need your help! We aren’t sure what we are going to do with it but we bought it!” Well, I went to help and so did Frank Smith who had helped take care of the farm at the college. We cleaned up rooms, Mr. Glave bought in some old furniture he would fix up (I heard some of it is still there) and we just started working. Then every so often some of the girls who had gone to school here started showing up, wanting to show their families where they went to school, wanted to talk to Miss Annie. We had to fix them up a place to sleep and feed them some supper and then a little breakfast. I got to start cooking again—I love to cook! Then one day I overheard Miss Annie and Mr. Glave talking about how they just couldn’t afford to do this any more. Miss Annie was saying “we have got to charge them something, we are living on a shoestring.” But Mr. Glave wasn’t for it, he was one for entertaining, having guests. Finally, Miss Annie talked him into it and they started calling the place Beaumont Inn. My little kitchen with a coal stove was right out in front, some people have told me it is the front room of some kind of gift shop that is there now. So I would cook and Frank Smith would come in from the barn and fields, wash up, put on a white coat and serve the folks in the parlor. Yes sir that was the dining room. That big room that they use for a dining room now, why Frank hung tobacco in there!
It went on like this for awhile and Frank and I overheard Miss Annie talking to Mr. George Alfred Curry. Everyone knew who he was, fine man who lived on the corner there of Beaumont, big white house. I believe it became a funeral home. (Doris if anyone asks, it’s where McClellan funeral home was, Johnson’s own it now.) Oh Mr. Curry and his wife were nice folks and had done real well in insurance up in Ohio somewhere. He was calling Miss Annie to ask her to feed some guests he was having here in Harrodsburg. He had heard we were serving some fine food and he wanted to bring them to us. She kept saying no, we just can’t and hung up. Well, Frank and I said, “Miss Annie, we can do that, we can. You just call him back, we can do it. We have been feeding all those other folks.” She did call him back, he came, his guests and he and his wife loved every bite! So you see Frank and I talked Miss Annie into serving folks good old cooking and I hear tell Beaumont Inn is still serving food to travelers today. We were all a team in those days, cooking, cleaning, working hard. But I was getting older and more and more people started coming so I retired. Wanted to spend some time with my husband. But that didn’t last long, Miss Pansy Poe out on Shawnee Farm called and wanted me to cook for her. Miss Pansy could make me laugh, and she did like to eat! It was easy there, not as many people to cook for and I pretty much decided what I wanted to cook, Miss Pansy liked it that way.
Then John passed away and I was getting more and more tired. You know John and I never had children and I missed that.
On April 5, 1950 I was just so tired I didn’t wake up. I got a little write up in the newspaper (back then they didn’t put much in the paper about colored folks.) Let’s see it said “Hat Crutcher died Wednesday at her home on West Broadway. She was one of Harrodsburg’s most beloved Negro citizens and had a host of friends among the white people.” I think that was nice, I did have a lot of friends black and white and I am proud of my hard work throughout the years.