Travis and Getty Hitt recall their lifetime of ministry

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 29, 2005

(This week The Luverne Journal spotlights Crenshaw County residents Travis and Getty Hitt who have been married for 58 years.)

By Ann Grier

Approaching his 90s, after 57 years as a country preacher in Crenshaw County, Travis Hitt and his wife Getty recall the highlights of their 58-year marriage as the day Travis was ordained to preach the Gospel and when their daughter Penny was born.

"Travis toted Penny in and out of Crenshaw County churches until her legs drug the ground," Ms. Geffy said. "He would sit her on the front row when he preached revivals. I stayed home a lot to care for my mother, Haffie Mellinger, who lived with us. I was her only child. Penny slept on the back seat coming home then he'd tote her in and put her to bed."

Penny Morgan, their daughter said, "If I ever misbehaved in church Daddy would look over his glasses at me and I'd straighten up. Most of the other children did too when he looked at them."

Hitt, who's baptized, married and buried a whole generation of people in Crenshaw County, said he doesn't know how many revivals he's preached, but say's it's been quite a few. Hitt was known to be a visiting preacher and, according to his wife and daughter, he did most of that visiting when the butterbeans and peas got ready ever year.

"A friend I went to school with knew Travis in the Army," Ms. Getty said. "He told Travis about me and Travis asked for my address. He wrote about three lines and sent a picture. I got the letter the day my daddy died. He kept writing and wanted to meet me. Finally, he rode the bus to Troy and Mama and me met him," she said. "One of our neighbors said, 'I bet he's got wooden legs or he wouldn't have sent a picture just from the waist up! He was tall and handsome though and had both legs," she laughed." But, he was in the Army and our soldiers were being wounded."

Hitt said he was drafted into the Army during World War II and served three and a half years in France and the Philippines.

"I never was in combat," he said, "but I came mighty close. My baby brother was killed in the war."

Hitt said he was born on a farm in York, and there was 11 children in his family. He said he and Ms. Getty wrote for about five years, and his letters finally got up to 30 pages long.

"I worked for the State Department when I got out of the Army," Hitt said, "and traveled wherever they sent me. I quit in 1947 when Getty and I married and started farming her daddy's land."

Ms. Getty said after her daddy died she and her mother had hired help on their farm near Patsburg. She said Hitt hadn't farmed in a long time and it almost killed him at first. She said he really enjoyed eating back then and she did a lot of cooking for him.

"I was public working when I met Travis," she said. "I worked in Goshen, which was a good size town back then with a circle of stores. I had sent word by the rolling store man to tell Mr. Max Shirley I needed a job. He sent word back to come on! I sent him word I'd have to sew myself some dresses before I could start. Later I worked for Roy Bell's store in Luverne and Luverne was a city back then. It was during the Depression and Mr. Bell would let us write tickets out of the cash drawer against our pay. I hardly ever got a pay check," she said. "Gas was rationed and my tires kept going bad. One morning I found my gas tank open and a funnel in it and I knew what had been happening to my gas."

Ms. Getty said they lived in the house she was born in until 1965, when they moved to the parsonage at Mount Zion Church. She said her childhood home burned in the early 70s, but their barn and a chicken house survived. She said they later moved back and built their home on the exact same spot of the old home place.

"I didn't meet Travis's folks until after we married," she said. "We married at home, then went to Birmingham for our honeymoon on my old 1936 Chevrolet with the patched tires."

Hitt, whose entire ministry has been in Crenshaw County, except for a year and a half in Pine Level, was the Crenshaw Baptist Association's clerk for 40 years.

Reflecting back Hitt said, "I've seen the world go from horse and buggies to the space age and it's not all good! Young folks don't respect their parents now. Children need to be in Sunday School every Sunday, but they're going the way of the world. They're tempted with things we never thought of."

"People have conveniences today we never had," Ms. Getty said. "We lived off the farm and everybody lives out of the store now!"

The Hitt's lived in their home in Patsburg until early 2005. Hitt continues to preach, pray and sing as the opportunity arises. They have two grandsons and three great granddaughters. Hitt was born in 1917 and Ms. Getty was born in 1919. They now reside at the Luverne Health and Rehab in Luverne.