A Penny Post Card

When I was around four years old, we lived in a little house that once stood near Arby’s here in Livingston. One summer during the time we lived in that neighborhood, a tent revival was held out in the field in back of that house. The tent stood across the road from Bennett and Mary Ann Smith’s home. My mother decided to go one night and took me along. Even though I was very young, I remember how scary going to that turned out to be for me. That was the first and only time I ever heard shouting during a church service from both the person who delivered the message as well as some of those in attendance. The part of the service that was really scary to me as a young child was when some attending passed out in the aisle while the shouting was taking place. I had no idea what all that was about, but some years later, I learned that was pretty typical for a tent revival service in this area.

Even though the information for the following story doesn’t really have anything to do with tent revivals, it does go back to the time when people often walked or traveled in wagons, sometimes for many miles, to attend church meetings. Mrs. Bobbie Sells of Livingston brought me a copy of an article published in 1980 written by Mark Houser, a former employee of the Overton County News. The story entitled "Post Card Brings Reunion After 71 Years" tells how way back in 1909, a young man, while attending a meeting at a Presbyterian church in Hilham, gave a four year old boy a penny post card, and some 71 years later, the two were reunited again. The following was taken from Mark’s story:

"On September 26, 1909, a young man gave a 4-year old boy a penny post card while both were attending services at the Hilham Presbyterian Church. The 4-year-old boy, (who was 75 when Mark’s story was written) was Quinn Davidson of Pall Mall, Tennessee. He found the post card while going through some old things and then began a search for the man who’s name was scribbled on the back. His search ended in March, 1980 when after 71 years, he was reunited with Robert Nolen (who was 91) of Bilbrey Street in Livingston. Almost three-quarters of a century had passed between the time the two first met and the time they were reunited. Nolen, who lived in Overton County all of his life, was raised on the property where the Flatt Creek Church of Christ now stands, and often used to travel to Hilham for church get-togethers. Davidson just happened to be visiting his mother’s uncle, the late Jasper Setser, of Hilham at the time of the Presbyterian get-together. The unusual reunion took place after Davidson had recovered the post card in 1980. He happened to be at Nolen’s Farm Supply in Byrdstown and asked the store owner, Denver Nolen, if he knew a Robert Nolen. It turned out Robert Nolen was Denver Nolen’s great nephew, and thanks to him, the two got together after more than 70 years.

The front of the penny post card given by Robert Nolen to Quinn Davidson in 1909.

The back of the penny post card shows Robert Nolen's signature.

Mr. Davidson, a retired farmer and sacred songwriter, lived at Pall Mall. After Mr. Nolen retired, he continued to repair saws at his Bilbrey Street residence. He was quoted as saying, "I’ve sawed enough wood in my life to fence in the state of Tennessee." Both men appeared to be happy about the reunion as they looked back to 1909 once again."

Robert Nolen, the young man in the story, was the son of Isaac Nolen and wife V.J. (known as Vea) Gore Nolen. After the death of his first wife, Robert Nolen married Willie Gore, the daughter of James C. Gore and wife Julie Fleming Gore. Robert and Willie were the parents of four children, a son, Chalmer; a daughter, Bobbie; a daughter, Joyce; and a son, Ronald, who died as an infant. Mr. Nolen made a living working in saw mills around Livingston. Medlock Lumber Company was one of the mills where he worked, and later, he was employed by Simcox and Copeland Lumber Company.

Quinn Davidson, left, and Robert Nolen, right, were photographed at their reunion in 1980.  They had not seen each other since 1909.