Thursday, February 15, 2018

Lucasville, Ohio and Brant's Store: Home of the Whittlers' Gazette

 *Note -- no drug store there now. This was published in 1969.

Joseph Brant Senior was a farmer most of his life. He owned a small farm of hill land and several lots in Lucasville . At one time in the 1840s he bought the old tavern in Lucasville. At the time of acquisition, the tavern was the chief distributing point in the area for whiskey and other intoxicating drinks in Lucasville's so-called “wild and wooly days” for which, it is said. the town had gained quite a notoriety throughout the lower Scioto Valley..

The sale of drinks was stopped when Mr. Brant took charge and immediately, it is said the morals of Lucasville began to improve. He conducted it for ten years.

Joseph H. Brant, Jr., youngest son of Joseph and Susan Brandt, was born December 13, 1858, and was educated in Lucasville. At the age of nineteen years he entered the store of B. G. Warwick, with whom he remained until his death. Joseph became a pharmacist there in what is described as a “general store that sold everything from coal oil to hairpins to railroad ties.” The store later was purchased by Brant, and Brant's Store became a local institution for generations as later Joe and Frank Brant became pharmacists there. The store was also the home of the infamous Whittlers' Club of America.

Brant's Grocery Store
By Edith Anderson Crawford

The men-folks had an unnamed club,
Some forty years ago, or more
This general hangout or loafing place,
Was down at Brant's grocery store.

Around the pot-bellied old heating stove,
Again they fought the Civil War.
Seated on nail-kegs and upturned boxes,
Down at Brant's Grocery Store.

Uncle Jake Schulz was taken prisoner once
Starved too, till he was near death's door
Escaped just in the nick of time
Down at Brant's Grocery Store.

Davie Schoonover fought on Lookout Mountain
The rebels he killed was a score or more.
He fought and killed them single-handed
Down at Brant's Grocery Store.

Cal Anderson marched from Atlanta to the sea,
General Sherman's men's feet were bare and sore,
But they didn't give up till they got there,
Down at Brant's Grocery Store.

Ben Yeager and Jim Saunders played fife and drum
All got het up (highly excited) fighting the Civil War,
Till Joe Brant came back, said “I'm sorry,
But it's time to lock up the store.


Clyde Brant became editor and publisher of what he called “the Official Publication of the Whittlers' Club of America titled the Whittlers' Gazette. It was published in Lucasville. The Gazette featured banter, often light and satirical, of local interest. I thought you might enjoy reading some stories from the paper. These articles were taken from the June 1935 issue, which can be found in its entirety here:

Help Wanted

Since I began publishing the Whittlers' Gazette, seems like nearly everybody who comes in the store, women included, have taken some objection to something I have said and want to start an argument. I want to hire some good man and woman to do my arguing for me, so I can get something else done.

Generous commissions will be paid to the right persons, up to $25 for each argument won for me. Previous experience unnecessary. Applicants should be robust and strong, capable of handling two or three opponents at a time and equipped with a sharp tongue and a wicked eye which could wither the boldest by word or glance. No weapons allowed except perhaps a rolling pin for the lady to be used only in self defense. No commission will be paid unless the one who has had the audacity to question the reliability of the Whittlers' Gazette is able to walk and talk, and sign a statement that he or she admits the Gaezette was right. Easy job, pleasant work, wonderful opportunity. Apply in person.

Pat Henry

There are two distinct types of whittlers. Pat Henry would be classified as one the passive type. The name “Pat” would indicate that he was Irish, but I am inclined to believe he was Scotch. At least he was in no way responsible for the destruction of our National Forests, like some careless whittlers are. He was a rank conservationist. It is unbelievable, but it is a fact, gentlemen. Pat Henry could and did whittle every minute of the day, all day long, on one single match, an achievement which we are sure has never been equaled.

Earl Stevens and His Pigs

Earl has a brood sow which gave birth to 17 pigs. Did anyone ever know of a larger litter? Looks like nature and this mother are doing their best to replace all the pigs the A.A.A. (Agricultural Adjustment Administration) had slaughtered.

Valley Rural School District Again Upset

A petition by fallen timber and nearby citizens representing 75 percent of the voters was filed with the country school board asking to be set over into Pike County. Smith Canter who lives on top of the hill is a member of the Valley Rural Board, and was not included in the original petition, but it seems that the action of the county board has included him which if it goes through will automatically throw Smithy off the board.

It is our understanding that this will give the county board the opportunity to appoint all new members of our local board. An article in the Portsmouth Times a few days ago left the impression that our county superintendent was not in sympathy with the program, but failed to shed any light on why Smithy Canter was included. Time will Tell, and when all the facts are known, the Gazette may have more to say.

My Dog, Gyp

I never wanted a police. Dog. I was suspicious of them and afraid of them, but nothin' would do by my young daughter but a police dog for Christmas. I tried every way to convince her that a nice bird dog or a hound would be more preferable because I wanted a huntin' dog myself. Christmas passed and no dog because I was determined we should have no police do. But you know women. On January 11th, her mother saw the offspring of a state show winner advertised and a telegram about the most smelly, the most awkward and scared German Shepherd puppy you ever saw. The first time my little nephew saw her, both of them a little frightened, he ventured the remark that he could tell she was a Brant alright, by the size of her feet. We named her Gyp for short and she now weighs 110 pounds.

I couldn't blame my wife much for wantin' a police dog. You see our store had been robbed many times and it is only ten feet from our home and we were molested frequently by prowlers, and once one came right in the house, and she was getting afraid to stay alone of evenings. Well, we ain't never been bothered but once in eight years since Gyp came. Nobody ever comes in the yard unless he is drunk or crazy like Esto Davis, Birch Massie, Ace Spanable and a few others who don't know enough to be afraid of dogs. She has every clerk in the store bluffed out except Jim Doll, Buck Russel, and Gladys Gibbons. There is only one man she refuses absolutely to make up with and that is the ice man. I have often wondered why dogs generally like the mail man and object so strongly to the ice man.

Other Millers Runners

Chief among the old-fashioned virtues to which Millers Runners may justly lay claim is that of thinking and talking straight. Ben Brown is about 100 percent perfect at this. I don't think Ben is any better thinker or more honest than Fred Ruth or Ed Walls or Ashby Hawk or Ves Luckett or a lot of other Millers Runners, but maybe he talks more. Some say he talks too much, but I don't think so. Ben would tell you the truth, the whole truth, no matter what the personal consequences might be. That is the reason he is not afraid of any man or the devil himself, though they do say he is puttin' in a good deal of time right now studyin' the Koran.

Fallen Timber, Owl Creek

The native wit and talkativeness and reputation for veracity has spread up the divide to Smithy Canter's and filtered down in the valleys of Fallen Timber, Owl Creek, Hog Holler, Back Run, and Blue Run, or visa versa. Fallen Timber prides itself in having fewer people on relief than any other section of like population. Now there is the Conkel family, of whom it is said some could talk when they were born. The older they grow, the worse they get. Their favorite subject is politics, but most of them missed their calling because they are too broad-minded and too outspoken. You always know where they stand and what for, which ain't a good policy in politics nowadays. If you want the truth, you can nearly always get from a Conkel, straight from the shoulder, in plain, concise Anglo-Saxon language. I ain't sayin' they are always right or that they can even agree among themselves all the time, but they do think, and say what they think, which is becoming more and more of a novelty in this day and age. And the rarer anthing is, the more it is worth, even a virtue.

Then there is the McCain family which has long been noted for its eloquence and integrity. We never had a customer we thought more of than Uncle Dan McCain, a veteran of the Civil War. On down the creek lives Elza Canter, Ex-Sheriff, who in his wider contact with the world has become more diplomatic, but none the less reliable and loquacious.

Over on Owl Creek the folks are a little different, perhaps. For example, John Porter and Ed Griffith are more modest and reserved by just as honest and firm in their convictions. And over on the runs are Harvey Eblin and Vinton Arthurs and Jerry Walker whose personalities and judgments are as solid and uncompromising as the hills in which they live.

And so I could go on, indefinitely telling you about the spunk, the grit, and the reckless honesty of many others who live among our hills, and maybe I will sometime.

A Note on Sam Spriggs

Sam Spriggs insists that Barkers Horse and Cattle Powders are the finest spring tonic he has ever tried.

Planting Corn

My son-in-law was raised in a big city and is as fond as he is ignorant of nature in the raw. He liked to watch plants grow. One day when my daughter was driving him out in the country he stopped the car , and got a shovel and bucket from the rear seat, climbed over a fence and walked out in the cornfield and filled the bucket with dirt. She asked him what he was going to do and he explained that he was going to plant some corn in tin cans just to watch it grow, and he had to have corn ground for it to grow in or it wouldn't do any good.

Valley Township School

Commencement was held for the largest class ever graduated in Lucasville. 30 students having completed the course. Miss Lena Turner as the honor student was presented with a four year scholarship from Wilmington College, and a gold medal. Miss Turner made the Valedictory Address. Miss Marion Moon delivered the Salutatory and was presented with a scholarship at Ohio University. Miss Irma Litton won first place in English at Athens where the scholarship test for Southern Ohio schools was held. Music was furnished by the Lucasville-Minford orchestra.

Esto's Martins

Esto Davis has moved his magnificent 14-room martin box out of my sight, seein' I didn't approve of the color he painted it. I been watchin' it pretty close, and I ain't see a martin near it yet. He will find out that matins can be just as happy in their old-fashioned homes as they can in the finest modern apartment buildings. A lot of us humans will never be really free and happy either until we rise above the sordid and enslavin' influence of material things.

Charlie Schoonover

It has come to our attention that Charlie Schoonover, town constable and trader is making his headquarters on our whittling bench for a double purpose. It is a splendid place to trade knives and he is making the most of the opportunity. In addition, he is accosting the unsuspecting stranger and asking him to join the Whittlers Club of America for 50 cents. As he has the law on his side and carries a big gun there ain't much we can do about it but warn everybody.

Vorse Lundy

Vorse Lundy, who lives on the West Side, son of Frank Lundy, one of the last of the old time blacksmiths still in active business, and himself a no mean whittler, is undoubtedly an outstanding member of the breed know as creative whittlers. As the sculptor molds clay to create the image of his model, so Vorse Lundy, with the aid of his keen Barlow, carves wood into almost every conceivable shape and form. He is a master whittler, whose talent borders on genius. Wanser Rickey, scout for the St. Louis Cardinals, has a cane fashioned by Vorse, for which he has refused $25.00 and his father, Frank Rickey, has quite a collection of articles which Vorse made. We hope to have a window display some of these days of the products which this boy has whittled. Watch for it.

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