Title: Interview with Willis McGhee (August 18, 1972)
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007507/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Willis McGhee (August 18, 1972)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: August 18, 1972
Spatial Coverage: Creek County (Fla.) -- History.
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00007507
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'Creek County' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: CRK 32

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Mr. Willis McGhee
A. Paredes

^tey^^ po 0, r. c

P: Mr. McGhee, yesterday, you were telling me about the land situation
here and I wonder if we could just talk about that -- how the grant
land came into existence and the other ways in which the Indian people
around here have gotten land through the years and what has happened
to it.

M: y_ V they come inthe reservation owning this land. Well,
I tell you, that is a little too far back for me on that part of it.
I remember when I was born and raised here, you know, this land was
here then. They have been trying to take it, you know. The people
around here tried to take it. My dad, he was called the smartest one,
though, about handling anything like that. So, he felt in charge of
it and he was overseer of U trying to hold it down. So he had been
back here on this branch hold back here, what they call old ZA le a_
There was good size timber there, pine timber and large things. Way
back then, I reckon it was about the twenty, was it twenty-six that
time of that storm when that storm came through and tore the timber
down? That was long about twenty-six, wasn't it? Well, they tore
down a lot of timber down there, you know, a lot of timber down.
Well, at McCaulley place I was telling you about over there, Jim
McCaulley lived over there. Well, they wasn't weere to this land,
but they tried this +- -0e- 0'Well, they didt k e out forty acres
I told you about on that end over there -- there's three eighties
though here.

P: How did they take that forty acres?

M: Well, byO this claiming, you know, tbe 4- thes, too, you know. I
think they had-, A'a but they were McCaulleys. /AWf7, but as they
got in their possession, the old man's smart enough -- he used his
laywer, and the lawyer told him if he ever could get into the house,
no one would let anyone get in the house -- see, and he held possession
of it. So, everytime one would move out, one would move in and spend the
night. So, when this timber blowed down, this fine timber, this
railroad hauled timber through there, Carnamill and Swift Lumber Company
had a railroad through there. You see the wooden bed over there. So
the old man put into cutting the timber and everything. Jim McCaulley,
he -4A in t1jje too, wasn't he? The old man, he just hired lawyers
you know, andAcouldn'; even stop him, but he stopped him. He had some o-"/
a_ Leo o0 re46ftsold me a _1u( Iup there, and the old man tightened him
up so tight till he couldn't even cut the logs up.

P: McCaulley tightened him up?

M: Yeah, no, my dad tightened McCaullev up and wouldn't let him cut no more
and he had a pile of them up there and he couldn't even cut them, he
had him tied up. He asked him would he let him cut them up, and
the old man agreed -- he always went along with him. He told him, he
said, you got me where I can't even ride across town and break a saddle

Page Two
Willis McGhee A. Paredes

switch, you know, like riding a horse.

P: Before we go any further, would you say the name of your dad.

4: Will McGhee his name was Will McGhee. I was named after him.
My name is Willis -- his, Will McGhee.

P: Well, then, other than that forty acres, what through the years
has happened to the rest of the land?

M: Well, see, he kept paying out taxes on it, and so this eighty,
like I told you down there, he let Fred Walker have it. ayr lenrwrj
they come in between that right acres and after that, they
got into a squabble with the kids after old man Walker died,
and some way they come in an agreement they didn't want to
share part of ti, so they decided they'd sell it. They divided
it p and sold it for $1,000. John Moore owns it now -- I think
it went through the Slaughters over here on the river. I believe
a fellow)Smith bought it first -- Jim Smith bought it and then
the Slaughters tied into it and then John Moore got it from them.
It was all related together, the Slaughters and the Moores.

P:A Little River

M: Yeah, back here on Little River. I don't know, you've even been
down over there -- down that Stockton highway. You know, as you
go through Stockton and out through that away.

P: Now, when you were growing up, how many acres was there left of
the grant land?

M: Well, all the way through here, there was besides McCaulleys and
all like that, there was two eighties, and a forty, there's
three eighties, you know, there's two eighties and a forty. Had
to be about a hundred and sixty acres, wouldn't it? ije-)...

P: Hownany acres of the original grant land are still held by heirs
of Lynn McGhee?

M: Lynn McGhee?

P: How many Indians, let me t it this way, still own some of the
grant land?

M: Well, I really don't know. Right now, the way it is, it is divided
up. Like I told you V, Ihad to sell my part to get out. Now my
sister, Roberta, was here and Woodley Martin. Woodley owns this
part here and Roberta owns that up there. My oldest brother, he
died, and Fay Jackson, you know him, he married my brother's wife.
HA iv\o ta; IT The kids own that forty across the creek here.

Page Three
Willis McGhee A. Paredes

P: Which kids is this?

M: Mel lGhee my oldest brother. They own that forty across the creek
over there. Wooldley owns this here and Bert owns that up there. This
other eighty,I* ruf .nd, Well, now up here at Hucksworth, I don't
know if you've been up there or not, have you?

P: I have just driven up there a time or two.

M: Well, you ain't got to contact with, I don't know which one it is,
Faris orCPi ?), They got the old Lynn McGhee place. See, that
was some eir property up there. They done seen things they sold it
outdone of the boys and he owns it and all that stuff.

P: Now you were saying last night that there was something about this
that it wasn't legal and that they really didn't own it or something
like that. They were people who got it away from the Indian folk.

M: Oh, well, what I was speaking aboit is like sme of them got it
then. U Ii Like I sold mine c .A fofad a mind to, I
could come in and take part of it back. Of course, that's dirty,
and I don't intend to do it. That was what I was speaking about.
You take this land here like you said, *ikEx can't be sold .s / 14f AS 7
the grass and the water runs over it." The government gives to the
Indian people that way)you knw. The pay this thing is 5SmUg5gl
it is still ef aw.7?, /w ,1 as far as Washington and all like that.

P: It is what as far as Washington?

M: I say it it's going back to Washington, it ain't ap far.as Washington.
Like they go, ,rcw+oi up here, they do all this ta g ,I imagine,
they are just out something like that, I don't knowvuYiA ee, (
legal. Coul wo 1 t'out like that, I don't know. Like I said, I
don't know nothing about law too much, but i they got deeds to it,
they can sell. q4c l;A

P: Now, you were saying last night that in addition to the grant land,
there was a lot of ether land that the Indians owned in years past.

M: My grandfather, Alec Roland, all way back through here; Sam Roland,
allthat back through behind Alec. The old Fickland lace, back over
here, we used to call i fe uis.-% ga pa used to own
that and like I said, they S" it out Yrom 1h-"i by swapping them
buc'C whiskey, horses, and all that stuff.

P: Now, how did they get the land in the first place?

M: Who was that:

Page Four
Willis McGhee A. Paredes

P: Like Alec Roland, Sam Roland, and the like.

M: Well, I don't know. See, that is a little further back for me.
Maybe because of their dads, I reckon. That is way they call them
way back to your third and fourth generation, you know, and all like
that. The way I understand, your forefathers, and all like that.

P: You say, through the years, they lost their land, though, by what?

M: By drinking and stuff like that. \They lost it like that. Old Man
Moore was a doctor. He doctored on them Mow',I tell you what,
come right down to it, you take the Indian people right in here,
they just now, what they call, they don't have an education enough,
jef liN .-_- you know like that, down to where they couldn't even
do nothing. You take the white people -- they didn't know the Indian
people didn't even go to school with them. It's just now got to where
they can do that. We had tolave a little old school set off to itself
here and go to schooland get what little schooling they got.

P: And, could you go on to high school any place?

M: They never did. See, none of them didn't get no high school. That's
the way it worked. Till now, it's come out, you see.

P: And that's been not too many years ago that change came about?

M: That's right. Not too many years.

P: Like yourself, how much schooling were you able to get?

M: I didn't hardly get but to the third grade. I had to work and all.
I tell you, way back like)you're young -- I am old, I will soon be
sixty years old. I'll be sixty on my birthday, the fourth day of
September, but I remember back in Hoover's time. You know, you don't
remember him back then. Now thqse were rough times. You get out of
hardwrk like paperwood. 11ik4f*Vy But Hugh McCloud, $5.00 My dad
he always was the man that run a job hewould work as high as 25 men
to a camp down here what they call Sminxan Seminole that's where I
met my wife, Seminole, Alabama. That's about sixty miles down-here
out from Pensacola. You come out 90, come out through Robertsdald.
You been all through there?

P: I have been on 90, but IAthink I have been through Robertsdale.

M; Well, you come through Robertsdale right on down through Seminole on
through Pensacola. And then there's another old 90. Well, anyhow,
my daddy run a job like that and he would work these boys, you know,
all the time Well, back in those times, they were tough. Five
dollars a week ou was making money. Fivofle

P: Five dollars a week.

Page Five
Willis McGhee A. Paredes

P: Back in those days, before this change you were talking about came about,
well, even up until now, how easy has it been for the Indian people to
borrow money at the bank and things like that?

M: Well, they all could do that pretty good certain ones of them. They
built themselves up.

P: What determined what the certain ones were?

M: Well, you take like my dad. Well, I just right off the hand Fouldn't
call how many, but they all kind of dealt with the banks pretty good)
some of them.

P: Do a bt of people get closed on back in those Hoover days. Did they
get their place closed on them?

M: No, no, they never did put no close on them. Their places never did
get closed on or nothing like that. It was just tough times, I tell you.)
A lot of time was living. Way back in them times, people got along
pretty good. They come out a little "Pe ght when we was plowing
mules people lay their own stuff to eat. Just like we used to kill
hogs. You see them hogs down there e used to kill a thousand pounds
of meat and put in the smokehouse'land we lived off of it. Syrup,
they had cane mills there and they had to make their own syrup. Grist
mills Old man Fickland, that one I was telling you about, had a
grist mill down here and people around here would shell them about
a bushel of corn and take it downand have t ground up and make grits
and corn out of it. Cornmeal euse% to eating cornbread
much. You would eat cornbread and you take milk with it. I know
this fellow Fred Walker I was talking about, he just about raised his
family on cornbread and milk over there. Well, there are plenty of
woods out here and cows run out. We had a bunch of cows. My
mother, she sedto have to pen them cows every night and milk them in the
morning by hand and turn the calves out at night, you know, and milk
at night, and turn the calves out at night. Shut the cows up and in
the daytime, turn the cows out. Seemed we got along good there
wasn't nuch money but money went further then

P: Back in those days, people that were farming -- did they raise much
to sell, or was it tha t they were mainly raising their food or what?

M: Well, they raised cotton and things like that -- peanuts and stuff like
that to sell.

P: When did you start farming on your own?

M: Well, I started farming on my own after I got married. But just after
I got married, I got called in the Army. I spent three years,three
months, 21 days at war.

P: What warT

Page Six. -
Willia McGhee A. Paredes

M: number two war. Yeah, I stayed overseas about two years. 0({-

P: I was going to ask you about that anyway. I wondered through the
years, have many of the men of this community been in the service?
M: Well, I tell you, no, therexsxnit too many of the boys who have
been in there. You take, there was me, this right here, I reckon
is the oldest member that went through the number two war for the
Indian people that Ican think of, was me and Alton Jackson I think
he went through part of some of it. But me and Willie Gibson went
through most all of it when it startedybut I recall that D-Day, when
that D-Day was we was over there then and ....

P: Didn't the Indian men around here get drafted or not?

M: Yeah, that is what we did we got drafted.

P: Why weren't more of them drafted?

M: Well, there's boys in different ages Some of them got turned down)
some way or another. You take A. D. Martin, you met him, he was
turned down. Now heleft and went with us the same day, but he
got turned down and ev4body got passed in that group but me and
Willie Gibson.

P: Do you remember some of the reasons why they didn't pass?

M: No, hat's what you don't know.

P: Do you think it is possible without having much chance for education
that some of them might not have passed because they couldn't read
and write?

M: No, tat wasn't it, because I couldn't. I went to school while.I was
in the Army. OV _o_ to an old sergeant. I couldn't hardly xmx write
a letter back home until I went to school under him.

P: But they took you anyway.

M;; Yeah, they took me anyway. You see, the war was on and they was needing
them and they take me. I went to school and learned how to write pretty
good. You had so many hours of schooling a day when you wasn't doing
nothing, so I got pretty good schooling I think.

P: Tell me, about your Army experiences a little bit.

M: Well, nothing too much. I'll tell you the truth, I didn't take it too
bad. It wasn't too rough on me. 1xwx When I got drafted, I went and
took my basic training at Campground, Illinois,,and when I got my basic
training I come back to Campground, I mean Camp rry, Indiana.
I stationed there for a while. That's where my first boy was born.
I was stationed I wasn't married but for a year after before I was

Page Seven
Willis McGhee A. Paredes

drafted. My boy Kent, he was born when I was waiting to go across.
I stayed there most of the time and so I wasinto a medical corps. We
left there and went across we were in 233rd station hospital.
Supposed to have been behind the front line a mile all the time.
But we left to go across, but after e got across, we got such a
good lspital, we went into a u 72d6 ^^A4 I believe, behind
8th Air Force over there. Well, the eth only thing we done, we
stayed and worked in thel spitals, you see, and gotIthewounded back.
The hospital carried around 500 and it stayed full o wounded paix
people. They got wounded and killed over there every day. We went
to the place, I forget the name of the place, a train brought a load
in -- had to sit up allright waiting for that 1xim train to come in
all eight The train came in with a load of passengers nd we had to
ke. aftl t O vfli AMK(Acl Some had to load up, some would hospital
unloading. They was just going and coming unloading the train,-you
know. They were jast groaning, you know, the men were just KganiR
groaning. A person who had never seen that I gqt a chance then
afterwards, see I never went through 41-t., W4 hadn a whistle
blow like that, and we would hunt cover. Had a foxhole to fall in
or something like that. 4=Hl butz- o&WI What you call them Germans would do -
they would load them things, maybe they had 4ilf and we would get
that thing up and head it over towards England and he would bail
out. Tat thing come and when it run out of gas, it fall. That's
when th blowed up. But, we got under that, it fell and burned
up the thing, but our people got under that thing_JM"tKey got
one (ming. 2i Send one up and had a wired hooked it and pnit turned
it back+w-- &f)AARIt .But see, when we left up there, we all
agreed not to use this3S poison gas, you know. That's the way it
was, the United States, Germany, and all of them promised not to use
it. Bit, we had it over there and had it dumped in a storage place.
That is what they was trying to ;l with themabobs dK. It could
have fallen into that gas, we would have been into it. Probably
would have had gas all over England.

P: Our own gas

M: Yeah,xx our own gas. So, that's the way, but it never did hit that.
We had it stored in gas they did break it out to use it, we had it
too. That kind will kill you.

P: Were you and Alton Jackson in the same outfit?

M: Alton?

P: Didn't you say you two went in?

M: No, we wouldn't in the outfit. Me and Willie Gibson, we took our basic
training together but that's one thing they do. They bust you up. If
you know, like me, and we know one another, and we go off together,
we ay stay around awhile together, but then they separate you.

Page Eight

P: When you were in the service, did a man ever call you "chief"?
M: 1Chief? No.

P: No, he didn't. Did they know that you were an Indian descendant?
M: Oh,yes. They were plenty of Indians in there. Alot of them in there.

P: Did you ever get to meet any of them?

M: Just a few. In my outfit, there was some from Oklahoma, and other parts.

P: How would they react when you would tell them you were an Indian
from Alabama,

M: Well, they mostly knowed you was YrO__o _

P: Well, the reason I asked you that, for many years, most people didn't
know there wKx were Indians in Alabama and I wanted to ask you how they
reacted to that.

M: Well, I tell you bout like this. Now you take England The way I
have been told. England is the mother country of this country. Right?
So the England people over there they didn't know no better)and
you know the colored people w was restricted from a place over there -
they wouldn't even let us ag go in there because the niggers in there
and then the whites would go in and therplace was just taken up with the
niggers. Some of the minded the rigger people being in there. I heard
a lot of boys say colored fellow a colored fellow was in the hospital
on place over there there was a lot of hospitals over there a
colored fellow got wounded and tve pbtEle )his wife and daddy and
all, well they thought they was Indian people, see. That's just the way
it was. A lot of that happened.

P: The English girls thought they were Indian people.

M: Yeah, they didn't know no different.

P: Have you ever been very far away from home before you were in the service?

M: No, I hadn't.

P: How far away had you been before then?

M: Well, I been to Gulfport, Mississippi.

P: What took you down to Gulfport?

M:' I run away from home. I run away and said I would never do that no more.
A fellow don't know -- t -e Veee e t t W 11 there were
Farastor a fellow by the name of Willie Glosson. He was talking
and had him talking one Sunday night. He was talking about the prodigal son.
There was two of them One got his portion of goods and left home and
the i other one left home didn't run away, he wanted to leave. He

Page Nine

M: went throughfall of his. After he went through his, he had to eat
husks with the swines, feeding for some other man, feeding the hogs.
Well, he thoughlhe better come back home. So his daddy loved him, you
know, and seen him coming and came out and met him. So, from my own
experience, I've been lonely but I wasn't the prodigal son. I went
along with that part of it o0aImHI The other boy persuaded me
to run away from home -- that's when times was hard, too. I was about
nineteen or twenty, so I run away from home. My dad give me a bale
of cotton at the end of the year. He gave tUSe aale, that was my
brother's step son. He gave him a bale of cot-on, so we sold the
cotton and we left we run away. So jobs /dsn Af We
couldn't find nothing to do, so we went to ulfpot Mississippi, and
couldn't find nothing to do down there. So we come back to Grand
Bay and we run t1H into people with a job there. So Jack /tt cAck
and Barney got toge e and the boy killed himself, see. You heard
people talking aboutiflling himself. Well, we got together and
we finally come back to Grand Bay, Alabama, south of Mobile and we
went to work. In the meantime, I took with malaria fever and I had to
stay at the luse. I couldn't go out and work I got homesick, too. I
was ready to come home So, I put out, I had an aunt who lived in
Mobile, and I come into Mobile that Saturday That Sunday morning, I
cauXt the train out to A otrf.C- Well, a fellow)Ed ettta
he/running a taxi and he brought me on home, So he told me people were
glad to see me and that my parents were and I was glad to get home
too, you know! Now I left'these fio they didn't have nothing to
do, and I told them about this job. There was a bunch of them bunched
up over there and they went headed for Grand Bay to get a job.
So the Indian people that give up to be brought people were together, so
they went back to drinking -- I wasn't over there, I didn't go back.
So, they go to drinking over there and got to fighting. felow
Dobbs, I believe over there, that was out offb '4 4Jack f I_ CCA
killed him. I don't know if he did or not, but he put up time for it.
They all got into it over there.

P: You know, I've heard several people talk about years ago, &how there
was a lot of fighting and carrying on but this seemslike such a
peaceful community. What made the change?

M: The younger people the young people. They ain't fighting now like
they used to.

P: Why not, do you think?

M: Oh, they just -- nowyou Mre right now, for yourself, you know. People
don't fight now they kill you. Now used to, people used to fight
hand to and, fists that's the way you used to years ago. They'd
been knifed One would get cut every once in a while. Now, if a
fellow started a fight, you better be ready to do something or MW02
hurtP'n orhill you. That's just the way it is today. People ain't
nearly as bad on fighting as they used to be. I noticed down here
young people growing up like my brothers tr*s .

Page Ten

M: 914t xigk like the group that was over here in Latwy, over here at
the old mill pond, what they call the wash hole. It was Sunday --

these boys around here growing up, they met down there and would fight.

And they'd fight That's the way they'd fight -- with sticks, limbs,

fists and all like that. That's the way they'd fight -- no killing,

they just fight.

P: When you say boys, do you mean teenagers?

M: Yeah, teenagers.

P: What were they fighting about?

M: Just fighting. Just because they wanted to fight.

P: So agoup from ...

M; They wanted to do something to one in water over there -- make him mad

or something and call him something, a bad name or something like that.

They liked to get to fighting like that -- they wouldn't take... You take

like cuss ne another -- don't do much like that -- cuss one another with*

a bad name and he wouldn't take it. That's the way to bring on things

like that.

P: Have you ever known of a fight to happen because of somebody making a

dirty comment about somebody being Indian?

M: No, I ain't.

P; Has that been something that used to happen in the past when the Indians

were called bad names?

M: Well, I tell you one thing, the only time, my brother, .WJAr, he's dead
.f i l -- -
now) & We had some cane one year, and we had to haul it over here at Jim

McCaulley's -- he was making it back over here and there was this little

schoolhouse just right above --there was a white people's schoolhouse.

Well, we had a little old gray mule, she was skittish you know, and a

gray horse. He was hauling the cane, we was stacking it, and he was


Page Eleven

M: hauling it over there. Them boys -- they lined up for the w agon, you know,

and said we won't ask for no cane-- we'll take it. A- ferc of -rin zae --

and Buck couldn't do nothing-- he was by himself, he want on and un-

loaded the wagon. He come back to get another load. So, Johnny or one

of the other boys he carried my load- says I want you to go with me this

time. So, he carried him with him the next time and said I'm gonna

fix those boys. So, we went on and started through there and they was

lined up by that time.

P: White boys were lined up?

M: Yeah, one asked us for the cane and he give it to them. I ain't

gonna ask him for the cane. Another one said, I ain't ganxx gonna ask

him for the cane now, I'm gonna get me one. He went to jumping on the

wagon and buddy, he come around with one and he went to throwing it to
I 50^-^ ef- i
him. He and knocked him ever with the cane. He went back and told

the teacher and he said that was a good fight. Said maybe he won't do

that Iep more. Well, I said' Ulike that happen.

P: Back to your Army experience, did your wife stay here while you were

overseas in this communityhere?

M: She went to my sister's some.

P: When you got out of the service, did you come back here to g _L \ ?

M: Yeah, I come back here. First, I went to a paper wood y dad

owned on the other side of Mobile. Then I come here and settled down

in a little house back here and I farmed. I went to farming.

P: Did you tkae over your dad's farm?

M: Uh huh.

P: I wanted to ask you, having been gone for quite a while, three years,

didn't you say?

______ _____________________ ________________________________- _____-------------------

Page Twleve

M: About three years.

P: And having seen so much -- did you have different ideas about this place

when you came back? What did you think when you came back?

M: All the kids were growed up. Half of them I didn't even know. All the

kids were growed up so. It's changing now it changed a lot but you

take now, it's changing. You take that road -- that road wasn't like


P: When you first got back, did you ever think about not settling here,

but going someplace else.

M: No, I like settling down here. Yeah, settling down here and staying

here. I go through a lot of ... you know, you sign up like to go to

work somehwere and they want your records and all like that: Where you

live all your life? I saysI was born and raised right there on that

P: You were starting to tell me about beginning to farm and as I told you

the other day, I would like you to talk quite a hit about how farming

has changed through the years, so maybe you could start out by

talking about the way the tools, the kind of things people grew, every-

thing you can remember about farming when you were a boy and what you

did when you started and how it's changed through the years until you

finally stopped farming on a fulltime basis.

M: You mean a farming with mules?

P: WhenyDu were a boy, how did people farm what did they do?

M: Well, farming with mules you know. They had plow stocks. Like wCei /ft'
4k A these old sto-ck ,, o
____you don't know what a Georgia stock is Oliver plow.and

all like that, and all like that. When u- I 4 e with

a big A... We always planted our cotton on a big A you know. We'd

Page Thirteen

M: go in, and the mule, laying off with at and then you'd

But now, that's all past. The first tractor that I owned -- we owned

a Ford Ferguson. It had one of these stepping up gears. That's the
oAlic S+-
first that came i here and we had the ie4t one. There's a fellow who

sold out here in Jay, Florida, a fellow Fowler sold out, and my brother

bought a Frd Ferguson tractor.

0: When was that when you got that tractor?

M: Well, that was so far back.

P: I mean was that when you were still a boy?

M: Well, Iwas .. I don't know if I was married. I believe I was married.

Yeah, I was married then .. Yeah, I was still a boy, I was married.

I remember farming with a mule my wife remembers the mules. We got

some pictures in there where I used to plow. It would take a long time

to hunt them up. I had a pair of mules and got my picture taken. Yeah

I jAdI a a man when I first got that tractor -- I'm the __"%now

P: And that was the first tractor in this community you say?

M: Well, maybe around here, maybe. A few of these other folks owned

something, but that was the first thing we ever owned around here that

Ford Ferguson tractor. Yu know, right after I come back, those tractors

were rationed. You had to sign upyou know, and then with the ration,

they couldn't make them fast enough I signed up and got a new

one and I let a fellow up the road here have it, you know. He wanted a

tractor. I didn't have much use for it so my dad siad, well, go ahead

and let him have it. I just let him have the tractor and he give me, I

believe, $25 to let him have it.

P: Did you use your VA loan at all to get you started in farming after you

got out c the Army?

"ft%"F -

Page Fourteen

M: Yeah, I did. I used it and I drawed $90 a month farming. I had to use

it a lot. I wanted to use it all up what I was supposed to, farming.

P: So, when you came back from the war, you started off pretty quick with

the tractor, then?

M: Yeah, I started off.

P: How big an area were you farming at the time?

W: Well, I was renting land then I was farmin forty acres. I got
about as high as two hundred acres of farm. I farmed all up in there.

I had forty acres and forty acres towards the creek... I farmed P r-e

around two hundred acres.

P: What as the rent at that time per acre?

M: Well, we didn't have to pay but about f tan acre) TrCe-n,

P: Was it still mainly cotton you were growing?

1: Yeah, cotton, corn, feed for th- hogs, cows and mules.

P: Another question I just thought of, back when you were a boy, how big

a garden do you think the average person, Indian person out here, had as

far as food stuffs that they grew?

M; Oh, about one-quarter of an acre, one-half of an acre, something like that.

P: Would that be enough to provide an average family with plenty of food:

M: Yeah, you plant the right thing on that little place I have there and

you plant... but for his own use, it will take care of him. But I give

a lot of mine away to neighbors and all. You take that little bit of

okra out there. I had about two or three.. well, there's ham about three

or four little old short rows or okra and it supplies a ton of people

around here, C k I ar-Cre .

P: What were the main you mentioned okra besides that, what were the

main things that people grew in their gardens when you were a boy and

Page Fifteen

P: what do they grow now?

M: What do they grow in the garden now? Oh, well, you can grow okra, tomatoes,

peas, butter beans, and carrots, cabbage, collards, pepper, Ihwadbeff *,

cucumbers, all such as that.

P: Do you remember or is it still the case ever, that in a field of corn,

somebody might grow something else in between the rows?

M: Oh, yeah. Some of them... You mean put two rows of corn and a row of

something else?
P: Well, I was wondering if right in amongst the corn there underneathhthe

rows if you ever saw anybody grow any beans or anything amg the corn


M: Oh, Yeah. Used to, a lot of them do it right now. Beans down in the corn

and plant them like that. They'd run the carrots kxramxkmar through there

and get the beans.

P: Now you say a quarter of an acre is an axExagxfmx enough for an average

, family. Now when you say average family, what does that mean?

M: About four or five in a family,4 may be five or six.

P: But that would be Eough vegetables to get a family through a year?
M: Iah P Wh wt- f WA #t
M: Yeah But do you know now, people are now have quit raising

gardens here. Have you noticed that? They can buy it cheaper at the

store than they can by raising a garden. Well, I was just talking the

other night. You take peaches -- Like buying peaches You go down

there and give three and four and five dollars a bushel for them peaches --

By the time you buy sugar, jam and tEa jars and all and put them peaches

up, well you get these sales on peaches four cans for a dollar, well you

can't put them up for that, see. So that's the way things have come out.

P: I have noticed some people around here do grow a few pnnx peppers and

Page Sixteen

P: tomatoes and things.

M: Well, Idid.

P: Have people always had a few peppers growing around their place.

M: Uh huh. FWV / .

P: Back in the days when people plowed with mules, what was the average

size cotton farm do you think around the Indian community here?

M: They would plant about five acres to the mule. Sometimes I would have ...

I would have en or fifteen acres%

P: Was there anything else for sale grown besides cotton through here?

M: Well, yeah. 1e potatoes. They used to plant potatoes. There was

one fellow come through here and they contract potatoes you know.

And, we used to plant about as high as fifteen or twenty mfx acres of -Lee

potatoes and dig them like that.

P: Anything else besides that?

M: Peanuts and stuff like that. They would sell them, too. About all that

is all they sold, corn and cotton and all.

P: When you first started out farming after the war, you were growing

mainly cottonlyou say?

M: Well, yeah. We growed cotton and soy beans.

P: You started soy beans way back then?

M: Yeah, way back then.

P; What made you start in soy beans?

M: Well, it is a more easy crop to make -- more money in the crop. Easier

to make. That's the reason so many of them planted it.

Tape 32A, Page 17

P: How good a crop was that as far as what you could sell them for?

M: Well, back then,my dad, I was working for him, We planted five

acres one time. Planted one with high beds and then you have to

get a higher bunch to pick them

You grated them out and then bunch them up ....

It's been so long since I've planted them.

P: Tell me, I don't know anything about it. You mentioned Irish potatoes

a fellow came around and contracted, but with your cotton, how did

you handle your sales on that? Did you just haul it into town or


M: You see, cotton you get your fertilizer and you plant your cotton.

Some of them borrow money from the bank and .... well you go there

and you pick out a bale of cotton. You go downtto have it checked ...

They charge so much for you to have it checked and then the cotton

would be you'rn. There would be buyers down there to buy this

cotton.You go around to different ones and he'd give you a bid on

the cotton,o to another and he'd give you a bid on the cotton.

The highest bidder, you'd sell, you see?

P: Just like an auction?

M: Yeah, just like an auction. The highest bidder gets it. ONe's

paying more, you go to another one, maybe he's paying more, maybe

a few cents more.A You fool around some more and you go to another

and you sell to the highest buyer, if you can.

P: Is there much cotton growing around here?

M: Well, there's a good deal of it. Now, farming has got to where it is

Farming now has got aif you aren't a big farmer, you just don't

get nowhere. I"ll tell you, if you're just a little 4 farmer

and you go to a bank and ask to borrow money, he won't even talk to )


TAPE 32A, Page 18

^ But if you were a big farmer .

P: How big?

M: Some of these fellows farm around six or seven hundred acres.
P: So the oandkExwon't consider a small man loaning him money for


M: Not too much. There ain't no small farmers around rna here Most of

them are big ones. Say they had a hundred acres farm out there.I'd really make

more and (t would bebmore safer to rent tixtj x it to a man for about $25 an acre

than to farm it myself, you see? 7'w i, 4 rc

P: I think this would be a good time to ask you when you got out of

farming and why it was that you did.
He closed me out.
M: Well, it's like I told you down at thehogpelI farmed one year and

s wah well I didn't get out of farming, I quit. It made me so

aggravated and I quitafter he done me like he did. I sold my tractors

out and quit and went to paper wood.

P: What year was that?

M:: Oh, that's been S back here. Can you remember when I quit farming? /16/ S&
-Py- ^ -. W ^u y-^z -
In 59? It was back here. -

P: In '59 though. a '

M: I just quit after he done me like that.

P: I don't understand. What did he arado? ? ic
it7a n u ook
M: Well, he got me to book my beans that yar.He ot me t beans

and I borrowed money to farm from the baAk, $2600 I owed him. He got

me to book my beans, two and #alf that year so I went over and

booked my beans, that's more than they was paying, just like they're

booking them this year, so I--> f V j i so I had

them booked along with the rest of my crop I just turned it over to

^. Marion f*. /& W-. ./l

Tape 32A, Page 19

M: hauling them and there was no other place to carry them but to old

Farrell. I went on the paper wood, so he went ahead and gathered my

beans and hauled them down there and so a week had gone on. I went

down to the settlement. He asked me he told me he was tied up

and in a hurry and said could I wait until next week. What he

wanted to do was to get them beans out of his bin, you nm know, and

get them on a boat to Mobile. I didn't know and so this fellow Joe

Snead, he come clean out here and told why I was farming and, I mean

paper-wood then, and he told why, he said /tI i you better watch

that old man, he's fixin to put it to him. Well, I didn't believe it,
the old man
I thought AaxxxEt was a pretty good fellow. So, he asked me to wait

and I said yeah, I could. So I waited until next week and went down

there and buddy he had me sewed up. I owed him this and I owed him

that, and the old man just closed him out, and I didn't keep no receipts

for fertilizer, I didn't get no fertilizer for the beans. I figured

he get me for about five or xi six hundred dollars before I got statement.

It was a 190 pounds of beans is what was sold and thatxmnE went on up

to .

P: I wanted to ask you one ast thing. I heard it said that you kept on

farming longer than anybody else around here and what kept you going

when the rest didn't?

M: What kept me going? Well, I really don't know. I was just the O OianeSt

one who was in shape for farming, I reckon. I had two tractors then .

I just kept on going plowing a farm.
P: What is zkkXEx that expression book my beans mean? I don't understand that.

M: Book yourbeans? Well, that's where they claim you are going to get more.

What are they going to book t g ggp e, bd..b? Three twenty six and

a quarterA See, that's the way it is. You book them to that man.

Tape 32A, Page 20

M: You make your beans, you don't show you're gonna get that much for them,

up or down. You still have to pay for them. But you have to make so

many beans. If you don't make the amount of beans you've booked, you have

to book so many bushels. Well, if you don't make them bushels, you have

to go out and get them, I understand. You have to get them some way or

another. He's got to pay you whatever amount that price. If it goes

down, or up.

P: So, I see. The man that you had your beans booked to didn't credit you

with the amount of beans you took to him?

M: No, that's what I said.

P: So you didn't get your money for your beans, but you had to pay the

banker, is that right?
M: Yeah, that's right. Skm he closed me out. When he lose you out, he

tie your veins. See, I didn't get nothing so that's the way he left me.

PL You say, you x3ygiA tried to sue him for that?

M: No, he tried to sue me. The way it was, I had a note. What I told

is went down to there during the farming seasons and when I was plowing,

I had to pay one of my tractors off. Nine hundred dollars. I went

down there, intending to get it from old Farrell and he said he didn't

have it, but go to First National Bank to Johnny Jones, Jonny Garrett.

Make and note and bring it back around and he signed it and got the

money and so I did. So, I offered to give him that tractor if he had

paid that $900 ai off to that First National Bank. So, he put down
and said he wanted tcappeal4 the sheriff. He brought the deputy sheriff

out hhere. Well, I had a tractor down there, go out and get it if you'd

pay that note. So he appealed to Alton Kelly, he was a friend of mine, he

appealed to him Tbey wasMz wasn't gonna sell no more. I didn't put

no sale on my Cwt'i) so he swore out a warrant for me and I had to

fight lim a little suit, and I a- the tractor and everything and he had to

Tape 32A, Page 21

pay the $900 and I won my tractor back. So, that's the way it was. Then I

sold my tractor afterwards sold the tractor out, then.

P: After you sold the land to your sister, you say?

M: To my brother, A' (44 t (tV At ,&(e V

P: And then you went up to Mississippi?

M: Yeah, I *' around. Where did I went? I went down here to Florida, down

where my daughter is, stayed with paper wood and then from then on, Mississippi.

Then from MIssissippi back. Back here and / fax with-_th -a I paper

wood and got ki this job here, going on four years now, this Standard furniture

factory. I was paper wooding downC .' hen I went down and

signed up and I just quit, quit paper wooding.

P: Did you have your own rig when you were paper wooding?

M: I was buying it through Joe Jones. I just let him have it over in Mobile,

a big fellow over there. They contracted out paper wooding and putting

out trucks and I just let him have the truck back and tractor that had
Ct 5h Ie r^ I j I I -C c.

P: So you've been working for about four years at standard furniture and

but you do still have a few hogs and grow a little bit?

M: Yeah, I have a little bit and try and make a garden. Yeah, don't make

too much money like all these big fellows you know. Some fellows make

four or five dollars an hour, but we don't get that much.

P: If you had it to do over, do you think you would still have done farming

all those years?

M:: No, if it was like it was then, I wouldn't. A big old fellow come out

and work for another fellow, he ain't got all these headaches and

paper wooding either. I don't think I'd go back to paper wooding.

P: Did you ever work in the fields for somebody else?

M: No, I never did.

Taoe 32A, Page 2

P: You never went up to Wisconsin like many of them did?

M: One year, my brother in law... ee, both my boys were with me when we

wnax went up there. One year and we worked up there. There wasn't' too

much money at that. I worked oneyear and quit that.

P: That was digging potatoes?

M: Yeah, digging potatoes up there when it goes getting cold up there, you

have to quit digging up the ground. It gets so cold, you see, digging with

them C%- and they roll out them wagons and bust open. So, you got to quit,

P: One other specific thing I wanted to ask you, to what extent in your

boyhood or later on or whenever if at all, have two brothers with their

families worked the farm together, or is it always the case of the indi-

vidual with his family?

M: Well,xmmx xhe he kind of worked in with me a little bit.

To kep the income tax down. His wife was working at the Vanity Fair, you

know, and you had to turn in so much. rf 4.w cW.A and worked along

with him. But the brothers if r/ don't get along too goods,..

P: How about father and grown son?

M: Well, they get along pretty good sometimes, but I tell you it's hard

when you share property to get along good together. You go halfs with

somebody, it's pretty hard.

P: Did you ever do that?

M: Going halves? Might have a little bit, never did fool with that too much.

P: You never were .

M: People really don't own halves. They think he's getting more than the

other one and something like that. It don't work out. One is liable to

wind up Sometime they wind upillingj yu know, sack now, that's

the reason im I'm saying, I aint' got nothing to leave when I die to leave

my children and in one way it's a good thing. You know, there's a lot of

pay people who kills one another over such things as that.

Tape 32A, ige 23

M: Like t t-leaveet a lot of stuff, have property.

Like the prodigal son I was talking about: He owned his portion of

it and it don't work out too hot.

P: You never did say share crop for any big land owner some place?

M: No, I never did.

P: Now some of the people over at erer, they got over there in the first

place sharecropping didn't they?

M: Yeah, they done that. Back over there, you know, t told you all about

that, used to work for Charlie Halllg Charlie Hall had a big barn out

there and he worked fellows like that and he lived out kh like quarters,

had houses big place out there. Think Bill Brown own s it all now, just

about. Had houses out there and one had so much land, other one had so

much land, mules, you know, in the barn there. I never did do none of that.

P: One thing you said the first time I came by kk here which intrigues me,

and this will be the last thing I ask you about is that you xid said years

ago there didn't seem to be as many bugs and things and you didn't need to

use ptppppp piannKs.planes.

M: No, we didn't have nompts poisons like that, so much insects and all. Now,

they have to keep it sprayed. You can't even plant no peas. I pl noted peas

out there about three times, and I ain't got a mess out of than Bugs eat

it up while I'm working out in te yaxx yeard yard. You got to keep those

planes going.spraying)now You take them beans bugs eat them beans if

you don't keep them poisoned. But years ago, we didn't have to do that.

P: How much does a plane cost by the way?

M: Well, I really don't know. I had a few peas up here about an acre, I think

it was about two dollars an acre when they come in there and sprayed. These

bigikg farmers you know, kthkx the4p spray is contracted to them for so much, so ..

Tape 32A, Page 24

M: I don't know how that runs. He make good money out of it, though, from the

price of spraying with them planes.

P: There's a lot more bugs than they used to be?

M: Oh, yes. Well, you know, the bible speaks of that. Before the end of time,

that's the way the preachers are preaching, 4ha-4the times are near. The

bible speaks nS-' 1 Ctnd all like that. Even the different kinds of

bugs people don't know nothing about. Just all kinds of things. That's

what the ible says, it S SWefilling fast.

P: I said that was going to be my last question, but I can't help asking one more.

Have you always been a religious man?

M: Well, I don't really know. I axixt been trying to live a religious life

for about twenty years. Yes, about seventeen or eighteen years I used to

drink and run around and all like a that. I just found out there wasn't

no good in it and I quit. I promised the Lord I'd try to live for him all

I can. But, I don't say I ain't like some people who say I live perfect.

Nobody lives perfect on this earth. And it's really impossible for a
person to live perfect on this earth. You got to go through iMx so much

so much temptation, he's going to make failures on the way an h somewhere,

but I kkiakxasxan ixsay,believe like this, God says don't let the sun go

down upon you. He said he'd forgive you for so many times, and that's just

the way it works. A lot of people, preachers and teachers, live here

perfect... But I fear fx kthm.the Lord. What I mean by fear the

Lord, I'm afraid I may not be ready when he comes, he says there ain't no

little bit of sin gonna enter up there and a person got to be mighty good

if he enters in that gate, so that's what I say, I fear the Lord. I'm

afraid I ain't gonna be ready when he comes.

P: Was there any particular things that turned you around to the Christian life?
M: Well, no. I reckon mHk. Rmx Our Lord didn't put things upon me too much

Tape 32A, Ige 25

M: Me and my wife I reckon just come to the point to sx change and live a better

life, so that's what we're trxigx trying to do. He didn't put nothing up

on me since I've been trying to live a kxixisndah christian life. I had

more sickness, me and her both, in the hospital, I was operated...--,C (4 D ,

but take since I've been working down here, and I was operated on and the

doctor told me, says he couldn't get nothing to show up that I had appendi-

citus. He take blood tests and he take xrays and none of it showed up.

I hurt in the stomach and all like that, but still he believe it was.

And I believe that the Lord works through doctors. He says still he

believed I had appendicitus and all the time he's setting the time to

operate on me in the lspital. I went on up there, and I got operated on

and I had to stay in intensive care about five or six daysxKckh. After
I got better, I asked him, and he said I'll tell you, you wouldn't have
) (set upj
been living in two more days. Said it A gangrene. If I hadn't xKmKX went

ahead aid been operated on, you would have been a dead person.

You see I hadn't been built so stiff for something like that. I was

getting in bad shape and he knowed it, too. He couldn't get it to show

up, you know. Might have been cause it had been set up gangrene. A lot

of times now, appendicitis, it will kill you like a young person. Heix It

hit you, you better do something. It will kill you.
Po IevtA
P: Did you always go to this church down here, the Perth Co immunity Church, or
if V r' 1 et it/l~C"di~ -
M: Yeah, / church to start with. They got a little different belief
there aidllo- A ntu a
there andtrong on some things. We -er-t- / 4 there with the church
now those eneie-te wpnpax people built that church. But letting us

have it like that, we went onto another branch Mississippi, Brother

David t --t over in Miss., making e is our leader in our church here

now. We pulled out from this one down here -- they had a different belief

and all like that, and we went on to-Peeek, Well, our pastor, he come from

Tape 324, Ege 26

M: Phoenix, Aiixona, and sayd the Lord had sent him here. Didn't know why, but

the Lord led him out here to us and he's a fine little fellow1

P: What's his name?

P: Oh, that's Mr VOtr

M: He's a fine fellow. He preaches hard.

P: Did you ever go to the Episcopal Church?

M: Well, I did join the Episcopal kxlp x Church, but that si is a different

belief that I don't believe. I don't believe into that what they believe.
They believe you get the name on the book, then go on downAthe line and
drink and everything else and go on a like a that. OncerSHHsd, you're

always saved. Well, that ain't it. You# got to work to keep Tfch

P: Want to ask you one more question Probably has a very short answer.

In your life growing up over the past sixty years, what do you think

has been the most important change for the Indian people?

M: Most important change Well, I tell you aboutAthe most important

about the Indian people, you find them in love. Wh love one another

more than any other pms peoplethat I know. They're changing that -

They're trying to grow more. That's the reason Ifwas etl pfe-lrd

down here. There's a group growing like that Love one another.

P: Do you think the Tdian pMp people love one another more now than they

did before?

M: Well, we can't say They always did love one another, but I believe they do& 314

MYore. I believe they love more than they did before. I tell you another thing -

They're all getting their education now. Well, just get right down into it.

Used to, there's more Indian people marrying the white girls and everything.

The girls are marrying the white boys and all. There's more of that happening

now than the other thing. But tisxax they're still some of these old heads

way back who want to keep the Indian people down and still has it into them

Tape 32A, Page 26

M: You take like this fellow Hall and his wife down there, thPse young

Halls come out iia like Junior Hall, and all them, them boys are much

different thah their daddy's father.

P: They don't have the attitude .

M: They want to be stuck up You know, think themselves better. They

still want to hold on to some of that. They still gxxn going at it,

though. The boys are getting around, and the girls are marrying one

another, you know, and there's nothing they can do about it. So,

that's just the way it's working. Well, I'll tell you about it. 1 : t'Lo U )

K Alfa Jackson, he said he's full-blooded There ain't no full-

blooded Indians here now. See, they all mixed up. You take my wife,

she's a white woman, You take my children, see how it's coming on out.

But further back, I'd rather be a full-blooded Indian, 'cause that's

a pure American. It is, an Indian person. That's the way I was

taught. You take all this marx land, kkazx,here, is really belongJt

to the Indian people. The white people just come in and taking over.

Well, back when you found the Indian peopletback here growing corn.

You might have a history of it, I don't know. That's too fur back for

me to mmember, but I remember hearing them talking abou it. So, that's

the way it come in.

P: Do you have anything else you want to say?

M: No, that's about all.

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