AUTOBIOGRAPHY James Gilbert Lyerly
I was given the name of James Gilbert Lyerly after I was born on March 2, 1893. The location was in Rowan County, seven miles Southeast of Salisbury, N.C., the County seat. It was on a farm given to my father, Thomas Jackson Lyerly, by his father, Charles Lyerly. The latter had a large plantation of acreage, who had four children, all boys. When the boys became of age or got married, he gave them land for a farm, over one hundred acres each. He kept a farm of about equal size for himself in the center of the group. My father, Thomas, was the youngest of the four boys. His farm was to the East of his father’s farm. His other sons’ farms surrounded his. Lewis to the North, John to the West and Maxwell to the South.
Each son was married and had a family and children of his own. My father married Lelea Brown, the daughter of Nathan Brown, a descendent of Michael Brown who migrated from Germany and settled in Rowan County, North Carolina. He built a large stone house in 1766, which still stands in good condition and is now a historical museum place, taken over and maintained by the state of North Carolina. I was a third child, preceded by an older brother and sister and followed by two other brothers and sisters. All of my brothers and sisters have died except one, Pauline Hartsell, living now 1986, in Salisbury N.C.
I remember my grandfather and grandmother, who lived about a half mile away from our home. She wanted me to come over and live with them when I was three or four years old. I did it for a while and remember riding on the lap or back of a plow pulled by a horse as he plowed the field. I got lonesome at my grandfather’s house, having no other children to play with, so I returned to my house to play with my brothers and sisters.
I also remember when I was four or five years old riding on a wide high seat of a two horse wagon with large wooden wheels with iron rims. The wagon ran over a rock or something, causing me to fall off the seat behind the horse’s feet and the front wheel ran over my abdomen and body. The imprint of my body made an indentation on the hard ground which remained for a long time. I was taken home and put to bed. I believe the old family doctor, Dr. Coleman came to see me and there was nothing they could do, probably except to give me some medicine. Anyway, I recovered, why, I do not know. I feel that God was by my side.
Another time I was sick in bed about this age with colitis media, a middle ear abscess which ruptured and drained pus. Again Dr. Coleman came on his horse with a saddle bag hanging on each side of the saddle holding his medicine which he carried and left to be taken as he prescribed. That was when I first decided I wanted to be a doctor. Again, I got well. I guess God was by my side.
I continued to live and grow up on the farm. We raised cotton, corn, wheat, oats and vegetables for our own use. We always had three or four milk cows, probably more, and two or three horses. I remember milking cows every morning with the cow’s tail switching me in the face. I remember hoeing cotton, thinning out the growth and the same with corn. In the fall it would be harvest time, picking cotton, a back breaking job, and harvesting and then shucking corn. Wheat was harvested in the late Spring and early Summer.