SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
INTERVIEWEE: Willoughby Jones
INTERVIEWER: Adolph Dial
DATE: August 28, 1969
D: This is August 28, 1969. I'm here in the Hopewell community
at the home of Mr. Willoughby Jones.. Mr. Jones, how old are
D: What's your father's name?
J: Philip Jones.
D: And your mother?
J: Martha Oxendine.
D: Do you know of your grandparents' name?
J: My grandfather on my mother's side was Calvin Oxendine.
D: Do you know any of your other grandparents?
J: My grandparents on my dad's side, well, his name was Richmond.
D: Richmond Oxendine.
J: My grandfather on my father's side was Richmond, on the colored side.
D: I understand that your father and also your grandfather played a
part in the Civil War, is this correct?
J: This is correct.
D: I want you to go right ahead and explain this whole story to us.
J: As to why each one of them was in the Civil War?
D: Yeah, just tell them the whole story.
J: My grandfather, Calvin Oxendine, was in the service. Also,
my father wasin the service. Why did each one of them, and
then me being such a young man as I am, know that each one of them
was in the service? My father really married at an early age
and raised a family. Then at a later date, he married a younger
woman and raised another family of which I am the oldest one of
his last family. My grandfather and my father was practically the
same age men.
D: What were their names again? Your father and grandfather?
J: My father's name was Philip Jones. My grandfather was Calvin
D: It was these two men who participated in the Civil War.
J: They did. My father was down at Fort Fisher. He worked down
there at the battery. My grandfather, I don't know just where
he was at, but he was captured by the Yankees. He spent most
of his time at Baldhead Island. He also worked in the hospital
with the wounded folks. Sorry to say but my father deserted.
He didn't stay his time out; he escaped and got out from the
army. After his escape from the army with his first family, he
got into a little difficulty and so he left. Later on he married
this younger woman which is my mother. Therefore, I have nieces
and nephews that was older than I myself.
D: Down at the battery at Fort Fisher, what did they do? What did
he say his work was like down there?
J: They built this battery, said they built these mounds and rolled
it up and dug up with wheelbarrows. It was all done by slaves,
was the best I could understand. I understood him to say that
there was colored folks working down there, and how they punished
them. They whipped them, and what they called bucked and gagged
them. Put them down in the sand, turned their face to the sun,
D: What do they call that?
J: Bucking gag.
D: Bucking gag.
J: They bucking gagged them. Turned their face to the sun, and as the
sun would pass over, they would move them around, their face in
the sun. Said after they'd take them up from there, they had no
more trouble with them working. They really worked when you take
them up. He spoke about them being runaway from down there.
There was some gentleman down there that would help them get away
from the army. They'd run away, crossed over on the river on a
boat. He said there was a fellow Jacob that landed several of
them. He was caught one morning just about sunrise. They seen
him crossing over on the other side of the river. They shot at
him as they could see the water splashing but they never got
him. So they learn from then that this man was probably the one
who was causing so many folks to get away.
That reminds me of the big Mr. Johnny Jacobs. They said he
was just about a giant. He was the father of Mr. Frank and Reverend
D: Who lived here in this area?
J: Who lived in this area. They said that he deserted from the
army for a couple of times. I understood that after you
deserted, and they got you the third time, it was the death
penalty. They said that he was such a developed man, such a
strong, able-bodied man, said the doctors examined him out, and
said there was too much service and too much real labor in a man
like that to put him to death. Therefore, his manhood spared his
D: That's very interesting. Go right ahead and tell us some more.
Other than building the batteries there at Fort Fisher, did
they make any salt there or was that at a different place?
J: That was the only place that my dad was. There was a lot of them
making salt. He said that the folks would come down there to
the beach. Salt was scarce. They'd go down and they'd put the
water in big pots and boil it down and make their salt. I don't
know whether they were making it there, whenever he was for the
army or not, but he said he saw them making the salt.
D: Have you ever visited Fort Fisher, Mr. Jones?
J: One time. I didn't take a very big stroll over it, just merely
D: I believe you went with a group of school children, right?
J: I did. Yes, that's right.
D: Did you talk with any of the boys about any of the old names at
Fort Fisher? The officers and so on?
J: I did.
D: Did your story seem to relate to their story?
J: It seemed to relate with them. I told them about my father speaking
about his Captain Lamb, and Lieutenant Miller. By the way, that
could be correct because we have a Colonel Lamb, that was in this
position there, and I believe taking over the fort to build it
or fortify it with guns or something. In other words, he was
there. He said I was correct, and my daddy was correct about him
D: Was it your father or grandfather that escaped?
J: My father escaped.
D: After he escaped, what did he do?
J: He said he just got around for a good while until after the
war was over.
D: I believe you said a minute ago that one of them drew a pension.
Which one was that?
J: That was my grandfather. He was captured by the Yankees, and
he spent his time over at,I believe he called it,Baldhead,
wherever that could be.
D: Was your grandfather working in the battery or fighting? He
must have been fighting.
J: He must have been. He was captured; I don't know just how.
D: I was wondering if one of them happened to fight and one of
them happened to work in the battery, you know?
J: My dad was working in the battery. I don't know where my
grandfather was when he was captured. But when he was captured
by the Yankees, they put him to work wherever they wished to.
Therefore, they put him to work at the hospital.
D: Were these fellows who were drafted into the battery eligible
for pensions too?
J: They must to have been because my dad never did put in for a
pension. We spoke about putting in for a pension, and he
really died before he ever did put in for a pension. At his
death, when I was making arrangements for the burial, which
was down at Lumberton, with Stephen Barnes. I spoke concerning
the arrangements of paying for the burial. I said, "Now I
haven't anything right at the present to pay for it all but,"
I said, "my daddy spoke about putting in for a war pension."
He said, "Do how?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Was your daddy
a veteran?" I said, "He was in the war down at Fort Fisher,
but he had never put in for his pension." He said, "Let's
take a note of that." I said, "Okay." He said, "If we can
work that out, we'll help." So later on, he sent for my
mother to come down, made an investigation, and the government
paid for the burial, and had some money left.
D: They didn't hold that desertion against him?
J: Must not, cause they buried him.
D: That's very interesting. Do you remember any other stories
there that might be of interest that your dad or your grand-
father told you about at Fort Fisher?
J: No, I don't remember anything.
D: You did say something about the way that he went to Fort Fisher.
You want to tell us something about that?
J: The only thing that I ever remember him saying about that, he
said that at that particular time. they had what they had called
a home guard. Whenever they captured folks that was deserted,
or maybe taken down to Fort Fisher, they had to walk 'em. They
rode horseback, and they drove them down there. They walked by
foot all the way down to Fort Fisher.
D: They walked all the way.
J: Uh huh.
D: This old fellow, Brent Harris, was a member of the home guard,
wasn't he? Do you remember hearing them talk about Brent Harris
who was after Henry Berry Lowrie at one time?
J: Why, yes, I remember hearing concerning Brent Harris that was
after the Lowrie gang.
D: He seemed to be quite a mean man.
J: Yes, and I understand that he was killed by someone then.
D: Yes. He had supposedly been killed by some of the boys. Mr.
Mabe Sampson thinks that the Strong boys killed him, and he's
supposedly buried right there at Harpers Ferry on the left
before you cross the river. That's supposed to be where he was
buried. Of course, he lived over there close to Mr. Henry
J: Yeah, Henry. Henry lives there now. He lives over there a good
D: Yeah, near Maynor Center. Henry Berry reigned from 1864 to 1874.
He wasn't heard of around here after 1872. Do you remember hearing
your father or grandfather tell anything about Lowrie, what kind
of man he was, whether they respected him and so forth? Do
you recall any of those stories?
J: My father Philip said that he stayed with him some, that Henry
Berry was a mighty respectable-man,had a lot of respect for women
and children and so on. Later on, as he disappeared, someone
said that he was killed. My dad said that he was well acquainted
with him, that he absolutely was not killed, that he was left
D: He seemed to think he left.
J: He remembered he absolutely knowed that he was shipped. He
was shipped off in a large box. He just absolutely knew that he
was not killed.
D: There seem to be a quite a few who feel that he was not killed,
that he escaped some way from here. As a matter of fact, some feel
that he went away with General Gorman, who came down to capture
him, and became his friend, and went away with him.
Mr. Jones, a few minutes ago, you said something about at
Fort Fisher they would use a bucking gag as a punishment. Would
you explain what you mean by a bucking gag, the position they
would put this person who was being punished in?
J: They'd tie your hands together, right about your wrists, make
you sit down, and slip them over your knees.
D: Tie your hands together, slip them over your knees.
J: That's right. And lay you down on your side, and drive a stick
between your arms, and the work of your knee. You lay on your
side, no way in the world that you could move. For a punishment
for not working, they said in those hot days in the sand, they
would turn your face to the sun. If the sun moved over and got
away from your face, they could move you a little bit more, put
the sun right in your face, and whenever they'd take you up,
they'd had no more trouble about your work. You'd go to work.
D: This made a good boy out of them?
J: Made a good boy. Put him to work.
D: What did your grandparents do for a living, farm or lumber? Did
you ever hear them say what they did for a living?
J: My grandparents?
J: My grandfather Calvin farmed as long as he was able. I knew
that he farmed as long as he was able.
D: Did you ever hear him say anything about their social outlet
back in those days? What did they do for entertainment? Did
they have dances, or quilting parties, logrollings- or: what
fun did they have?
J: One of their most biggest fun was what they called old corn
shucking and logrollings.- They had what they called parties.
I don't know just how it was, but it had me scared up about
the parties. They said that they do a right smart of drinking
and dancing, and so on. My mother was always against that and
had me really scared of them. I wouldn't even go to what we
call a party.
D: Don't you feel that drinking was a little more acceptable back
in that day than it is today around here?
J: It seems that it was, and I hear some of the old ones, such as
my uncle and so on, speak about it. He said that kind of whisky
they-drink:in them days--the folk were more sociable, there wasn't
no really fighting, they just get drunk, and sort of knock out
and be quiet.
D: They had barrooms around, too, where they sold it, didn't they?
J: Yes, they did.
D: Of course, this is a dry place today.
J: That's right.
D: But back in those days they could buy a drink.
J: They could buy it, and they also had what they called a covered
wagon, come through and camped down probably for weeks at a time.
Have a big sociable, big time.
D: Buy other things?
J: That's right.
D: Mr. Jones, what do you believe about your ancestors? Do you believe
you are a descendant of White's Lost Colony? What do you believe
J: I really believe that I am for a simple reason. I bear the
name of some of the Jones that was among the Lost Colony, and
as my father was a real old man, and things like that, I really
believe that he was one of the descendants of White's Lost
D: Yeah, could very well be. Mr. Jones, do you have any reason to
believe that any of your ancestors went to school with the whites
prior to 1835?
J: My great granddad went to school right here in this vicinity
with the whites, and married a white right here in this vicinity.
He went to school, and married a white girl that he went to
school with. Was a Paul lady that was my great grandmother.
D: Where was this school located?
J: It was located right out down here not far from Elroy.
D: Did you ever hear your grandfather speak of the Indians going
with the white at one time prior to 1835? Did you ever hear
him speak of that any?
J: It could have been before then because they all went to school
together and married.
D: In other words, the situation was different prior to 1835 than
it was after 1835.
J: Yes, that's right.
D: Did your father ever explain this area of 1835 to 1885? Did he
ever tell you what it was like when the Indians didn't want to go
to school during that time?
J: They said after they cut them out, wouldn't let them go to school
with the whites, they didn't have no choice only except to go
with the colored. So the majority of them wouldn't go, just
one once in a while that did go to school. They wouldn't accept
it. They tell me they had a period of fifty years they didn't
have any school, up until the school was opened up for the Indian
people. It was just a very few that could read and write, in my
day. I know in my community, we didn't have but two people that
I knowed of that could read and write a letter.
D: Is that right? Who were they?
J: One of them was my grandfather's wife, Mrs. Edna Bowen, and the
other one was Mack Revels's wife. Her name was Katherine.
D: That hasn't been so terribly long. How long?
J: That was back along about 1905 or '06.
D: Only two people in the community who could write a letter. It
appears that the Lumbee Indians have come a long way in the
past years, haven't they?
J: A mighty long way. You take my mother and my father. Neither
one of them didn't even know the alphabet.
D: You feel that after the establishment of what was first known
as Croatan Normal School in 1885, which is today Pembroke State
University, that it's been a great -asset to people here?
J: Has been a terrible asset to people because at that particular
time, right here in our area, I didn't know of anyone who was
capable of teaching in the school, or had any education, except
a very few that accepted with the colored.
D: Thank you, Mr. Jones. I enjoyed visiting in your home today.
We hope to hear from you again sometime.