SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
In cooperation with the Catawba Nation
INTERVIEWEES: Mrs. Peggy Harris
Miss Alice Harris
INTERVIEWER: Emma Echols
DATE: January 19, 1972
E: This is Emma Reid Echols, Route 6, Box 260, Rock Hill, South Carolina,
January 19, 1972. I'm working on the oral history of the Catawba In-
dians. I'm visiting in the home of Mrs. Harris. Mrs. Harris, will you
tell me your full name?
H: Peggy Elizabeth Harris. Thatcher Harris.
E: Where were you born, Mrs. Harris?
H: I was born on the old reservation.
E: Have you lived all of your life here on the reservation?
H: Yes, ma'am.
E: Your first school was on the reservation?
H: Yes, ma'am, up through the seventh.
E: Who was your father and your mother?
H: My mother was Edna Wheelock and my father was Alfred Thatcher.
E: Do you remember your grandparents?
E: Who were your grandparents?
H: Rosa Wheelock and Archie Wheelock.
E: You married who?
H: A Harris.
E: A Harris?
H: Uh huh.
E: His given name is?
H: Alfred Harris.
E: You all have built this home since you were married, haven't you, and
H: Yes, ma'am.
E: How many children do you all have?
E: Six children. Tell me about things you remember when you were a little
girl down on the reservation. What did you do and how 'bout your
H: We went to school down at the one-room schoolhouse on the reservation.
We walked back and forth to school no matter how cold it was, all kind
of weather. Back at home lunchtime, most the time, then back and forth
E: Who was your teacher? The first one.
H: My first teacher was a Hayes, Willard Hayes.
E: I believe he's living now in
the next teacher you had?
H: He taught me through
Mr. Willard Hayes. Do you remember
i the seventh. Then I went to high school.
E: How many years were you in high school?
E: What did you do when you left high school?
H: Went to work down in one of the textile mills.
E: You already knew your husband?
He'd been away from here for quite a while. He'd been up in
and in the army and everything. I didn't know him real well,
he came back.
E: When you went to high school, how did you find the teachers and the
pupils treated you in high school?
H: I thought we got along real well. We wasn't allowed to ride the bus. We
had to get our own way. We had to go back and forth in a car, but I had
a good many friends in high school.
E: Was it the roads so bad, the buses could not come down here?
H: It wasn't only that, they didn't want Indians to ride the buses.
E: How did you arrange your ride to go into the high school?
H: The government paid private people who had private cars. They would
pay 'em so much, then we'd ride back and forth in the car.
E: Then you finished high school and worked in the mill awhile. What
mill was it you worked in?
H: The old Victoria.
E: The old Victoria Mill.
H: Uh huh.
E: Over near the Arcade Victoria School, I believe, isn't it? Then you
met your husband and were married and you have six children. Tell me
about your children. What are they doing?
H: My oldest daughter's married now. She still works out at one of the
department stores. She works at night, from six to ten, and I take
care of her baby for her at night while she works. My next oldest son,
he finished out at BYU and he's got a position with J. P. Stevens Mill
in a management program. My next daughter finished high school and
she's working in an office up at York General Hospital. She's been
there for two years. My next son would be Kelly. He went out to
Brigham Young for a year and now he's serving his church mission,
Mormon church mission. He'll be gone for two years. He's in Stockton,
California. When he goes back, I hope he goes to school. He's planning
on it. I want him to finish, too. The next child is thirteen. He's
in junior high school. The next one's seven. She goes to an elementary
school. She's in second grade.
E: And you've done a wonderful job educating those children.
H: I hope so.
E: Give us the names of your children as you go along. The girl who's
married is Mrs. who?
H: She's Kay_
E: The one who works in an office at York Hospital is...?
H: Vicky Harris.
E: She's not married?
H: No, she's not.
E: The boy who works at the mill is...?
H: He's Kenneth Harris.
E: Who is out in Stockton, California?
E: Kelly. The one in junior high school is...?
E: Darrell. And the one at Leslie school is...?
E: How have things changed on the reservation today from what they used
to be? Are they much better for you now?
H: Yes. I think after they made the settlement and gave us deeds, that
enabled us to get loans, where we couldn't before; wasn't any way you
could with the government land. We still can't get any loans put
any buildings on or anything. Since they gave us this deed to our land,
we got fifty-four acres here, and got our new home that way. They put
a new home on it. I think that helped a lot, because if you didn't
have what we had, have to go out and purchase the land, never afford
to have built a home.
E: You got your acreage after you were married and had children, is that
E: That's the reason you got so much? You were allowed so much for each
H: Yes. We, we got five. My younger daughter didn't. My little girl
wasn't on the rolls at that time. They closed the rolls at certain
times and the ones that are on the rolls, the ones that got. And she
wasn't on the rolls at that time, so we got for five.
E: So you have enough land to share with your children.
H: Yes. It's theirs whenever they want it. We'll take a notion to sell
it or divide it up. Anyway, it's theirs, and it's here for them to
have their part of it.
E: Do you remember any of the Indian language at all?
H: Chief Sam Blue used to come around to schools and we would have dif-
ferent schools coming in, visiting us. He would come dance and talk
for a little while. I remember that, but I can't speak any of it.
E: Are there any Indians here that can speak the language?
H: I don't think so, any more.
E: Tell me about your relationship to the church. I know you're very
active in your church work.
H: Yes, ma'am, we are.
E: You go every Sunday?
H: I try to, yes, ma'am.
E: With your children?
H: Uh huh.
E: What activities does your church carry on?
H: They usually carry on a good activity for the young people. I think
they have really a better program for the young than they do for the
older. Course the younger need it more. They try to watch out for
the young people, see that they're entertained and kept in some kind of
different contests or different singing groups or things. They really
do try to keep the young people active.
E: You have all those programs in the church or do you use the old school
H: The church is small and if they get ready to have any kind of social
like, well, they usually use the old school building.
E: Do you all own the school building and keep it up yourself?
H: Uh huh. The church owns it. The church keeps it up.
E: Then you have a kitchen and an assembly room and...
H: Two classrooms.
E: ...two classrooms now. What about your services on Sunday? How many
people attend the services?
H: There's a lot more attend Sunday school than they do night meetings.
I think most of the time you go in and you have a time trying to find
a seat, if you go in kind of late. They have very good attendance in
the mornings, I know. Fairly good, but not too good at night. Most
people come out in the mornings with their small children 'cause they
got a junior Sunday school where they take all the small children.
More people come with their small children in the mornings than they
do at night.
E: What do you remember about your mother and your father? Your mother is
still living. Did your father go to school here on the reservation?
H: No, he was white.
E: He's a white man. But your mother is an Indian?
H: She's part Catawba.
E: Do you remember anyone telling you stories about your grandfather? He
was a famous athlete, I believe. What do you remember of the stories
which are told about your grandfather?
H: I most remember about he had ribs broke, and they wired him, some kind
of wire, and they sent him back in. He won the game for 'em, but he
used to talk about it quite a bit. I know he played football. Pretty
famous football player that played, Jim Thorpe, played with him.
E: Do any of the boys here go away to school now or do most of them go to
the high school and colleges close by?
H: There's been one boy, a Wade boy, that went to Clemson, but there not
very many of 'em. Most of 'em do finish high school now, there's
very few boys that don't finish high school any more. But now most of
'em, they'll go on to service, 'cause not too many of 'em goes to
E: You spoke of years ago you were not allowed to ride the school bus. Don't
you find there's a big change in the attitude of white people toward you
now? Do you find any differences in that attitude?
H: Yes, I do. They don't seem to have any discrimination towards us anymore.
They never did have feeling as far as the work goes, but I can remember
all the time that some of the Indians did work at some of the outside
jobs, or mills, or something. They didn't hold anything against us about
working, anywhere, but they just wouldn't let us ride the bus. I think
it mostly was with people that was on the Board of Trustees that live
around close by. Every time they'dhave a meeting well, they'd close
down our chances.
E: Mrs. Harris, this is such a nice home here, and you said you had fifty-
four acres of land. Tell me where does your husband work?
H: Oh, he works at R. H. Printing & Finishing industrial plant.
E: What are his hours?
H: He usually works anywhere from twelve to sixteen hours a night.
E: Tell me about how you built your home. Did you get a government loan
to build your home?
H: Yes, ma'am.
E: Then you're paying for it by the month or do you already have it paid
H: We have a good down payment, where we don't owe such big payments. We
don't pay very much a month and we're paying for it by the month.
E: I think that's wonderful. How many rooms do you have in your home?
H: We have six.
E: They're very nice. Your little daughter has just come in from school
and I'm going to ask her to tell us her name. What's your name?
AH: Alice Harris.
E: Alice Harris. Are you proud to be an Indian?
AH: Yes, ma'am.
E: And you look like an Indian, that pretty complexion and dark brown eyes,
sparkling, and pretty dark hair with a pigtail in it. Can you run
fast at school, and play games with other children?
AH: Yes, ma'am.
E: Who's your teacher at school?
AH: Miss Thompson.
E: Do you like going to Leslie school?
AH: Yes, ma'am.
E: What other Indian friends do you have up there?
AH: Well, Lucinda Sanders and
E: Oh, that's nice to have some friends to play with. What do you like
to play at school?
AH: Jump rope.
E: Do you ever read books about the Indians and draw pictures about the
AH: One time I drew a picture in one of my classes.
E: Did you color it?
AH: Yes, ma'am.
E: I bet it was pretty, wasn't it? Did your teacher put it up on the board
for everybody to see?
AH: I don't know. It was in a storybook.
E: Oh, it was in a story. What did you write your story about?
AH: It was in this book thing and you had to read and you had to write it.
E: Wrote it in a workbook and you drew the pictures. Well, that's very
Mrs. Harris, you've cleared the land around your home. What do you
remember about the old forest that used to be here?
H: Oh, it was great big pines, lot of pines here, great big wood. When
we moved here, we cleared it completely, had the pines sawed.
E: I bet there's still some big trees on the reservation?
H: Oh the old reservation, yes, ma'am.
E: Are you allowed to cut that?
H: No, ma'am. The state owns them. Nobody s'posed to go in there. But
if needed a few people cut it for firewood. They're not allowed to cut
it for commercial use, for sale or anything.