Mary Frances "Fanny" Sutton was married to my 3rd great uncle, Isaac Newton "Ike" Wallen. Ike and my third great grandfather Jesse B. Wallen were brothers. Fanny was also related by blood through our common ancestors Jonas Sutton, Jr. and his wife Sarah. Jonas's son Micajah is mentioned below. Micajah was married to Eleanor Haggard and he and another of my 3rd great Grandfathers, Uriah Sutton, were brothers.
Ike was probably a practical joker of sorts considering a picture we have of him posing naked. Now I know where my dad and my brothers got their "Wallen" sense of humor! This picture was probably taken between 1885-1895 in either Cooke Co., Texas or Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory (Oklahoma).
My Father's Father, Micajah Sutton had established a tan yard for making leather and leather articles at a very early date in the history of Kentucky in a valley 6 miles East of Somerset, Pulaski county Kentucky and here grandfather reared his family teaching each one to work in the tan yard and thereby providing a living as all work was done by the family.
This valley was well watered not by creeks but by wells of wonderfully sweet good water and when I can first remember there were 300 tanning vats and sheds with all the equipment which went with such an extensive plant. All parts were operated by hand as there was not one bit of machinery in the whole establishment.
The hides were lowered into these vats which were about 15' deep by 10' square boarded up on the inside with heavy timbers while at each corner was a heavy piece of square timbers called a plug which was raised when it was desired for that the vat be drained and cleaned to make ready for another pack of hides. These vats were dug into the ground but were so constructed that the stale water would run out at the bottom.
After the hides were well soaked so that the flesh adhering to the under side and the hair would slip off when the hand operated scraper was used on tem they were ready for the leather making process which was that of the old German kind which was used in Germany and put in practice by my grandfather Micajah Sutton.
My father purchased 800 acres of land near him just to secure the tan bark off the chestnut, oak and read oak trees as this bark is what they used for tanning. Lamp black and fish oil were also used on the leather.
I worked in the tan yard also, when a child and a young woman. Harness and leather horse collars were also made here by hand. I have stuffed the wheat straw into many, many horse collars as that was usually my job. I can think of nothing that stinks like that tan yard and if a person was not accustom to the smell he or she could hardly endure working there, but of course, our family was brought up to do this sort of work.
When the civil war came up my father was not drafted because of his operating this tan yard, neither was it ever destroyed by either army. I remember on one November 23 during the war that twenty five Union soldiers came to our home, all very ill of dysentery and remained two days and 2 nights until all but one was well enough to travel. The one was left and we took care of him the best we could, until some Confederate soldiers came and took him away and father feared that the man would be killed but eight months later, we received a letter from him stating he had been freed and sent to his home.