Tribute to "Miss Daisy"

(an article written on 2/20/1975 by E.K.)
"Miss Daisy" or "Aunt Daisy" -- as the Rev. William Sheridan pointed out at her funeral service, it was not necessary to mention her last name, for there are few Cowanites who have not known her all their lives.

Mrs. Daisy Beuford Sargent, who passed away on February 10, 1975, will remain more than a memory to many. Although this writer met her only once, the long visit remains unforgettable. "I'm paralyzed all but my tongue," and with her strong voice she opened her past, all the while winding some yarn for a pair of houseshoes. She allowed me to travel with her to another time and era.

She took me back to her childhood, "I was born and reared in a log cabin", she said and was proud of it. She remembered the bit cherries that had to be split to make bedsteads. The main source of entertainment was to walk to the tunnel or to Miller springs at Uncle John's and Aunt Nancy's (no relation). The greater portion of what is now Cowan was fields and she "picked many a blackberry here."

She remembered her first school, "a great big room and two little rooms to each side." Her first school teacher was a Mrs. Ella Perry Herrford and the building was located where the manse of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church now stands.

She suffered a great loss when her father, Aaron Churchman, was killed in Bridgeport, Alabama on May 30, 1899. He had been a railroad employee. "It was hard", she said, "Mama (Sallie Fleet) sewed and Granny (Martha Ann Perkins) wove." "Mama could sew beautifully."

At the age of 16 she graduated from high school here in Cowan. Emmons Hudson was a teacher who "thought enough of us to teach us the high school grades (Latin, Geography, Trigonometry, etc.)" and thereby graduated the first and only class of high school students right here in Cowan. They were Roy Ross, Pearl Moore, and Daisy Churchman. There is probably no certificate Miss Daisy was prouder of than this rare high school diploma of Cowan, signed April 25, 1902 by Mr. H. J. Caperton and J. M. Stewart.

For a while, Daisy Churchman worked in a store at the Franklin Hotel for $2.00 a week. The hotel, which had been built by Dr. Sloan and Dr. William, was operated by William M. Bucher. Miss Daisy cherished a wedding present given to her by the Buchers.

In 1905 she married James Calvin Sargent, a car inspector for the Railroad. Again she showed her contentment by this statement, "I married a good man. I never heard him swear an oath in my life; I never heard him say damn it; I never heard him say darn it." When she "went to house keeping", she started with a bed, dresser and washstand, all of oak, for $44.00 and a dining room table for $9.00. They have lasted to this day. She gave birth to three daughters, all still residing in Cowan: Mrs. Mary Proby, who lives in one of the oldest homes in Cowan, built in 1886, the year of Miss Daisy's birth; Miss Agnes Sargent, who has taught in our Public School since 1928 and in addition has spent many years teaching night classes; and Miss Ruth Sargent, who has devoted her life to being a faithful companion to her mother. Miss Daisy dearly loved her daughters.

As interest in Cowan's historical past was rekindled, it was Miss Daisy who knew the precise dates, names and locations of events and persons involved. She was like a talking history book.

Her keen memory took me back to her Grandfather Arthur Neighbors, who was a blacksmith during the mid 1800's and "sharpened things that needed sharpening" when the famous tunnel near Cowan was built. She painted a vivid picture of her Grandfather Churchman who came to this country from England on a boat and met her Grandmother Rachael Kinder from Germany. They were married, neither of them speaking the other's native tongue. They raised ten children, one of whom became Miss Daisy's father, Aaron Alexander Churchman.

The greatest compliment this dear lady could pay me was to comment, "I always wanted to know some German people on account of Grandma Churchman", and had she had another daughter she would have named her Rachael.

Mrs. Daisy Sargent, who had lived in Franklin County all of her life except for a period of nine years (June 17, 1906 to May 30, 1915, to be precise) when her husband was transferred to Tullahoma, would have been 89 this March 15th.

"I love Cowan, I reckon, the best," and so did Cowan love her.

Return to Daisy Churchman's Biography Page