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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
P: This is September 4, 1972, Labor Day, and I'm interviewing Mrs. Ruby
Barnhill, and I'll ask her if she will just begin by saying where and
when she was born.
B: Well, I was born over in Monroe County, that's at Uriah, a place named
Uriah now. At that time, she called it Blackshear's. My daddy worked
as a...sawed logs there for Blackshear at the time I was born.
P: Your daddy was who, by the way?
B: Len McGhee. I was a McGhee, see, and my mother was a Colbert--Hettie
Colbert and Len McGhee.
P: So there won't be any confusion, this wasn't the original Lynn McGhee.
B: Oh, no, he was...oh no....
P: Was this one of Isaac's brothers?
B: Yes, he was. Yes, he was Isaac's brother. And they was quite a bunch
of them boys. And my daddy has been passed away. Yeah, I think he
passed away. I have it down; I think it was in '48, 1948.
P: I interrupted you, just go ahead with what you were saying about why
you were born in Monroe County.
B: Yeah, I was born in Monroe County and later we left Monroe County and
came down to what they call Bell Creek. I guess it was the next move
we made, was at Bell Creek. There we lived for a good many years; most
of us was born and raised....
P: What year were you born in?
B: 1904. October 2, 1904.
P: When you were, when your parents were up there at Blackshear, were there
other Indian families living in that area up there or not?
B: Well, I know there was, but, see, I was small, real small then, and
me and my oldest brother, Narva Lee, we were both--and probably Britt--
we all three was probably born over there. But I'm sure there was
because I know there's Tom McGhee, they call him, but that's not the
young one they have for a councilman; it was his daddy, he was named
after him. They were living there. I know Tom McGhee was, and I'm
sure there was others too.
P: Up there working in the....
B: Yeah, uh huh, they did over in...sawed lags at that time.
P: And their whole family would move up there and stay.
B: Oh, yes, yeah, whole families would be there.
P: On back to Bell Creek, since I really don't know much about Bell Creek,
could you tell me something about it from your earliest rememberances,
what Bell Creek was like, how many families were there, and this sort of
B: I'd say there was about, I would say at least a dozen families in that
P: Were they all Indian families?
B: Yes, they was. They were all Indians in that little community.
P: Do you happen to know anything about how the community got started--
B: No. Really I don't. I don't know where the name came from. I don't
know how they gave it to 'em. Anyway, it seems funny to have a Bell
Creek, but I don't know about where they got the name. They probably
got it from that Creek, I reckon, that runs through there. I just really
don't know about that.
P: But that's where your first rememberances are from, Bell Creek....
B: Oh, yes, uh huh. That's where I first went to school. The first day I
went to school, I was five years old, I well remember. I went on my
birthday, and I was five years old that day. So I did a lot of crying
when I first started school. When they'd try to get me to read or anything,
I'd cry. I did a lot of crying. I know I can remember that, I know,
and then my teacher at that time, I believe that was Van Jernigan. We
had a Van Jernigan and we also had a Riley Jernigan and then we also had
another teacher by the name of Mr. Goodman. Old man. And he was the
one who was our teacher when our schoolhouse burned, was Mr. Goodman. He
was kind of elderly at that time. He could have easily saved our building
if he'd just used his head, but he didn't. We had a nice building. We
had boys, grown boys there at that time could've easily saved it, but
he didn't use his head. He started toting out the benches and desks and
things, you know, out of the school. I remember I was the first one who
discovered the fire at the school.
P: Tell me about discovering the fire.
B: Well, I don't know how I did. I just happened to look up and I saw the
fire coming up through the roof in little places. It just started.
P: Was it during a school day?
B: Yes, it was. In the afternoon, I really remember. So we toted every-
thing out and we had a spring. We toted, got our water from there
I'd say a quarter from the school, and where we'd go get our water. Now
he could have easily put some of those boys up there that had a ladder
or something, climb up there and throw a little water up there, but no,
he put them to work, toting out the desks and the benches and everything
outside, so we lost our building. From there on, we had a pretty tough
time in getting a building for a school. Was not able', nobody was to
build a building, you know. So we went to an old dwelling house, then.
My daddy had a house, an extra house. He let us go there and have school,
which was very short terms. We didn't have a long term, just a short
term. We had difficulty getting a teacher at that time, you know, to
teach us. But we had our short-term school anyway. And we really, me
and my brother, we really took advantage of it, too. We did, at that
P: Which brother was that?
B: Narva Lee, my oldest brother, yeah.
P: What year was that that the school burned, or how old were you?
B: Well, let's see, I was born in four, and I was five years old the first
day I went, and let's see, that could have been long about--well, I don't
believe it burned that first year I went to school. I probably went to
another session. Yeah, I reckon it did burn because I was real small
too, but I well remember it. I could have been, I'd say, about five or
six. I'd say about 1909 or 1910, I don't remember, somewhere in there.
P: You were about ten, do you think?
B: I think, well, I was four, in four, you know, then I went when I was
five, that would have put it up to '09.
P: Was the school financed in any way by the county at that time? Who paid
the teachers in other words?
B: Well, yes, the county probably did for a short term.
P: To get a new building, the people in the community had to build it?
B: Well, we really never did get another new building.
P: You never did get another building.
B: No, they just taught here and there, you know, and later then our little
community built the church building, church house.
P: At Bell Creek?
B: Yes. Everybody in Bell Creek, we built a church. And there we used
the church for our school, but we never did really get another church
building, I mean a school building, you know. We never did get another
one, but we used that church. The community, you know, people went
together and built the church, and we used that for the school.
P: The other day you said something about walking to school over at Hog-
fork. Tell about that if you would.
B: Oh yeah. Well, see, over at Hogfork, now, that was, I'd say that was
about three or four miles from there. They kinda divided the school
up. They couldn't get a teacher there and we couldn't get one hardly
out there, but our teacher divided us. Somehow or another, the people
out there wouldn't too much agree for them to go out there from down
there. But out teacher, then, he took and divided the school and put
part down there and part out here. So, me and my brother, we both
walked with the teacher and went them miles each morning. Our teacher
boarded out right near us, and we'd walk, we'd walk from Bell Creek to
Hogfork. Now where it got it's name I don't know, but it seems very
funny, Bell Creek, Head of Perdido, and Hogfork.
P: Well, how did they decide which ones would go to Bell Creek School and
which ones would go to Hogfork?
B: Well, they too much didn't care for us going down there, but....
P: Down where?
B: Hogfork, but now out at Bell Creek, we had one we called our trustee.
He was a curious man, you know.
B: He finally agreed to let a few of them come out there. A few of them
went out to Bell Creek, but they's a precious few. I well remember in
Hogfork there was boys going there was really, really grown. And in the
first grade. They started on the first grade.
P: Who was this trustee that you mentioned?
B: Dave Gibson, he was our trustee. And Bill Gibson--two brother. And
they was kind of funny people. You know, I don't know--they didn't seem
to realize the others needed a school, I reckon, or something. I don't
know, just contrary. Like lotta old people are, you know, they was kind
of old then. They just didn't think too much, you know about letting
them come there.
P: I understand the original school that burned was called Gibson's School.
B: Yes, it was.
P: Why was it called that?
B: Well, I guess on account the community right there was most Gibsons.
P: Was mainly Gibsons?
B: Yes, it was.
P: What were some other family names?
B: There was Bill Gibson, Dave Gibson, and Gid Gibson, I know. And then
they had children, you know. Well then there was, we were McGhees;
my daddy was a McGhee.
P: Were there any Colberts in there?
B: No, there wasn't. They were from Huxford.
P: How about Adams? Were there any Adamses in there?
B: Not right in that community.
P: Rolins? Were there any Rolins?
B: No, there wasn't any Rolins in there either. They was farther on down.
The Colberts was at Huxford and the Rolins was down at what they call
Hogfork, and right in this little community there was Gibson and...well,
we happened to be in there, I don't know how come we was there, but
anyway my daddy owned a place there and I don't know how he got the
place. But anyway, I know he built and he owned a place there and
that's how come we was in there, but mostly it was Gibsons. 'Course their
offspring, you know, was in there and they married different ones. I
well remember one married a--now this girl you were talking about, Elsie
Mae, she was a Dees. Well, her mother was a Gibson and so, her sister...
one of them married a Hodges, Bob Hodges. One married a Dees, and one
married DeSilvy (DeSilva?), and well, there were some boys in there
too, Gibson boys, you know. Well, now take on over to Dave Gibson.
Now he's--one married a Mitchell, one married a Rackard and....
P: There were Rackard's at Bell Creek?
B: Yes, they was. They was. I believe there was about one family of the
Rackard's--no, there was two families--Lonny Rackard and Willie Rack-
ard, which is both dead now; most all those people out in that community
P: You started to talk about when you started to build the church out there.
Would you talk about the church life in Bell Creek when you were a girl,
what you remember about it?
B: Oh, I remember we had some might good times there. I was growing up
at that time and I had done grown up....
P: What kind of church was it?
B: A Baptist. It was a Baptist--a Missionary Baptist church, that's the kind
it was and at that time we had the church, we really had a good time.
We'd go to school and we were very happy going to school, all of us
children, you know. We'd have a glorious time, school. But then we'd
have our church there too, and our Sunday School and all in the same
P: Did you have a regular pastor there?
B: Yes, we did.
P: Who was your pastor?
B: John Kersher (?), which is dead too now.
P: Where was he from originally?
B: He was from over in Eliska or somewhere over there, either one of them.
P: Was he Indian himself?
B: No, he was a German, he was....
P: He was a German?
B: Yes, he was.
P: Now I understand, someone was telling me that the First Holiness preachers
came in, came first to Bell Creek.
B: Yeah, and that was Presley's too. They were, first time a Holiness came
in was John Presley and they had a meeting in their house and they had a
meeting in a little brush arbor at that time, too. But I well remember
that,when they first had their first meeting. They'd come to his house
and had cottage meeting, you know.
P: Do you remember about how old you were when that took place?
B: Well, no, let me see. I would say 'round about fifteen or sixteen; about
sixten I reckon, I expect on down through there. I maybe....
P: Think back if you can and tell me about how that happened that the Holiness
came in and what was the people's reaction to it.
B: I'll tell you, the people didn't react much to it. They didn't care much
about them at that time. There was a few families was real interested in
the preacher, but the most, the majority of them, they were Missionary
Baptist and they didn't care about the Holiness people. But I always
went, I was always glad to go to any church and I did. I really liked
P: Were there any people from Hogfork that came to those meetings, those
B: Well, I don't think so, not to the Holiness Church, but they came to
our Baptist Church. They used to walk, as I said, from distance to
distance, and come be in church with us; the younger, you know, younger
P: In the...in your Baptist church services, were they sort of like the
Holiness or was it a lot of singing and shouting?
B: Oh, yeah. There is a lot of singing, not shouting.
P: No shouting.
B: Not in the Baptist. But there were in Holiness but not in the Baptist.
We had a lot of, you know, singing and all like that, and we had Sunday
school. And we had prayer service in the middle of the week and all
P: Back to the Holiness. Was it from that first Holiness meeting in Bell
Creek that the Holiness church over in Hogfork and Poarch eventually de-
B: Well, I would say so. I would say, I would say that it really started
from there and his home, it was in, was old man John Presley. These
Holiness people was a man, I know who he was, he was Aaron Hollingsworth;
he had his wife and four daughters, so they....
P: Where were they from?
B: They were from down here in Florida back at, at a...down at Nokomis, back
in there. They lived below Nokomis, so they traveled around, no doubt,
you know, and sing and had little organ they took along with them, and
they'd come in this home and have the meeting. Well now, on back, though,
before we built our church, we had a meeting in a, under a brush arbor.
P: The Holiness?
B: No, that was, well, we didn't have no church right there. And we, that
was really Baptist, I reckon. When we had, before we built our church,
we had it in the brush arbor and the Holiness had it under brush arbor,
too, later down.
P: Was there ever a Holiness building built at Bell Creek?
B: No, there surely was not, no sir. There wasn't any Holiness Church
built; there wasn't.
P: Did the Episcopals ever come to Bell Creek?
B: No. I never heard of Episcopals until later in life here. They come up
in here around Head of Perdido where-you been staying at now. Now it
was later in life before I ever knew about them. I never heard of
Episcopals, they have 'em down...'course they'd been right out in there
for quite a while before I, you know, ever...I don't know just when
they started out in.ithere, but I imagine they...any of them, Tom Tracy
or Tom Rolin or any of them--probably Dan McGhee.
P: I knew about 'em coming to Head of Perdido; I just wondered if they
ever came to Bell Creek.
B: Yeah, but that's the onliest place they ever came. No, they never did--
nowheres else they didn't--never put up. Nowhere else, 'cept there.
P: When you were a girl at Bell Creek, were there any people living around
what's called Poarch Switch now?
B: Well, later there was; earlier they weren't. There wasn't nothing
there at a Poarch Switch.
P: Was the railroad through there already, for as long as you can remember?
B: Yes, yes, the railroad was there.
P: Why did the people start moving into Poarch Switch?
P: Were they farming in there?
B: Yes, they was, but they didn't own their places or nothing. They just,
somebody come in and settled it up, you know, for farming and let the
people move in there and farm and rent out farms and rent from the man
this that owned it, you know, they didn't own their places, none of them.
Which today is really built up. I guess you see that. It's come a long
ways since then. There wasn't a building nowhere in there, I remember a
time when there wasn't a building in there nowhere. All that's built
up, you know, in later years.
P: When you were a girl in Bell Creek, did you all ever visit over to Head of
Perdido at all?
P: How would you?
B: In a horse and buggy. In a wagon or something. I've even been rode in
a ox wagon. Yeah, I sure have. This, what they called Gid Gibson, he's
one from out at Bell Creek now, they had ox wagon and had two big old
oxens and they'd train them things to work their wagon and we young
people liked to ride on it. It was fun to us, you know. And that's the
onliest way at that time we had of going to a funeral. If someone died,
well, they always took it, you know, on a wagon, but now the oxen pulling
the wagon, you know. There wasn't no way hardly to go. People didn't have
a way to go hardly. So they's glad to get to go on a wagon, anyway, ox
wagon or anything, and it thrilled us to death to get on the ox wagon so
we usually, young people, we'd drive that old wagon and we'd go to the
funeral in a ox wagon.
P: What was your main reason for going to Head of Perdido? Any special
B: Well, I've been to church there and then we had our--that was where our
graveyard was at that time, down to Head of Perdido.
P: So the Bell Creek....
B: Judson, they call it Judson now.
P: So people from Bell Creek would go there....
B: Yeah, we'd go from Bell Creek, yes, uh huh.
P: Was there a graveyard at Hogfork at that time?
B: Well, let me see, there was a few graves there because my grandmamma and
granddaddy was buried there, but they just like they are now, some wanted
them here, you know, in the community, and some wanted them there. But
we never had a cemetery in Bell Creek. Now our only cemetery was over
at Head of Perdido and down at what they call Hogfork. We call it New
Home Cemetery now. But we'd go, you see, when anyone would die in amongst
our people, why, we'd go to one or the other. So this Hogfork cemetery,
that's where my granddaddy and my grandmother and my daddy and my mother's
all buried there.
P: Could you tell me back in the old days, if you could, describe for me
what a typical funeral was when somebody died. What were the things
that happened back in the old days?
B: Well, in them days, they didn't preach the funeral like they do now.
They just buried 'em. And later down they'd give a...they'd preach the
funeral maybe months behind. They'd set a, have a Sunday for a preach
this person's funeral. And I think they still caryy that on out in
Mississippi--the Indians out there. Of course, I don't know whether
they are really Creeks, or what they are. I don't think they're Creek
Indians. But they still follow that old original down. But we got out
of that, see.
P: Now, what was the first thing that...when somebody died, what would be
the first thing that would happen?
B: Well, the first thing when one died, they's, which they'd, you know,
place of embalm them like they do now.
P: Would they use an embalmer from Atmore?
B: No, they didn't use one. We didn't have one in them days.
P: Who did that?
B: Well, my mother was the most one in that community that did the washing,
you know, if it was a lady or a baby or a child or something, my mother
did it. She was real good amongst the sick and took care of sick and
something like that. They'd go for miles to get my momma. They'd
come and wash this person. You know you'd call 'em, washin' them or
layin' them out. They have what you call, you might know it, a cooling
board they'd call it in them days. Well, they didn't, you know, they
just taken like a door or a plank and they'd cover it good, you know,
with a sheet or blanket, and things and make it, and then they'd take
this person and they would, you know, wash 'em well, you know how they
do when you lay them out. First they put this thing around the face,
you know, and put money on your eyes. I remember that. Then they'd
wash them and lay them out. And my mother used to go and she was good
with the sick and they'd go at her for miles to come and wash this per-
son and dress him. And she'd make a many, they call them shrouds, in
that day. She'd make them, you know, they'd get the material and make
the burial, you know, shroud.
P: Was it like a robe?
B: Yes, it was. It was, you know, they'd make it up pretty nice in front,
you know, it would be long. Yeah, my mother, I remember well, going with
my mother when I was a little younger, a lot of times I mostly went with
her to the sick and care for them, and if they died, it usually, it fell
to her to see about it, you know. That she was laid out, washed and lay
out, you know, and everything.
P: Do you know how she happened to become skilled at that?
B: No, I don't, I guess it was just to, a gift her God give her, the gift
of going around and waiting on people like that. They really depended
on her, too.
P: After the person was laid out, would that be in the house or...?
B: Yes, it would be in your home.
P: Then what happened?
B: Well, they'd keep them there maybe a day or two or maybe all day and
night, but you couldn't keep a person like that too long.
P: Uh huh.
B: They'd be maybe a day or something like that, you know, they'd keep them
in the home then until they got ready for the funeral.
P: What would happen? Would other people come to the house?
B: Oh yes. Uh huh.
P: Tell me about that.
B: Well, people would...if it was in your neighborhood or your people or
anything, they'd gather in just like they do now. They'd gather in the
home, you know, and sit there. They'd sit up all night long in the home,
you know, with the ones that lost their loved one. They'd sit there all
night with them and then maybe the next day they'd take them into their
P: What kind of caskets did people have back in those days?
B: Well, I think the casket was, uh, kind of, you know, built up like now.
Now, I have know 'em building the casket.
P: Uh huh.
B: But most time they got up, you know, where they could afford a casket.
P: Back in those days, did they have regular pallbearers, people would be
named as pallbearers?
B: No, no.
P: How did that...?
B: They just anybody, anybody, they didn't have special pallbearers.
P: They'd put them on a wagon or something?
B: Yes, anybody, menfolk, you know, just take 'em and put 'em on, in the
casket on the wagon.
P: Now I've heard that in later years, at funerals, that people would walk
by the casket, the last respects kind of thing, and sometimes people put
their hands on the person's head?
B: Oh, yes.
P: Tell me about that. What's that for?
B: Yeah, I don't know what it was for, but that's just something they did.
Most everybody would lay their hand on them. And, I even noticed this
woman doing this yesterday. I went up to a--up at Monroeville yesterday--
this young man got killed in a wreck Saturday night; I noticed this
lady going by and putting her hand on him and some of 'em told her she
shouldn't do that because this, uh, you know, when they real cut up bad,
they fix them; you're not supposed to touch them. But she did, she
touched him. I don't never do that. I remember when my granddaddy died.
Oh, he was in the old Confederate War, I believe it was. I remember well
as anything when he died. I might be telling you too much you don't want
to hear Claughs].
P: No, uh uh, I'm just checking because I don't want the tape to come to the
B: I know [laughs] well, I'm telling you too much; just ask me some questions.
P: No, you're not either. Well, tell me about when your granddaddy died.
B: Well, I remember he died in June and come a bad windstorm that night,
dry storm. And the place he was laid across, that wind was so rough that
night it just took a glass window out and blowed it right over his cas-
ket--just almost blowed the house away. It was a lot of people were
there. He was an old man, our granddaddy, and a lot of people were
there. And, that house, you could almost feel it come up off, seemed
like, off the blocks. Just blowed that window right across over here--
across the room. It was an awful wind--just the driest storm that night.
And that was in June, I really remember that. I remember my mother was
down there, as usually she'd go and stay with anybody that was sick or
anything, and, so me and my daddy and my oldest brother, we walked, I guess
it was about three or four miles, late that afternoon and we walked and
went down to where mother was, you know, 'cause she was down there. And
that night it come up, this bad storm. Now you better ask me something,
because I'll be talk my head off here and tell you [laughs].
P: Now you just keep talking.
B: Talk too much when I get started.
P: Let's go back to after, you said that the funeral wasn't actually preached
until sometime months afterwards.
P: What would happen at the graveside when they buried someone?
B: Well, they'd just bury them, that'd be all.
P: Would there be any prayers or anything?
B: No, as far as I can remember, there wasn't anything as I can remember.
Just, all would go, everybody would go, you know, and they just went and
buried. Well, later down through the years, later on, they did get to
where they would have a funeral, maybe a graveside funeral, but that
wasn't in the early day, we didn't have a funeral.
P: Now they would preach a funeral for them eventually?
B: Oh, yes, uh huh.
P: Now would that be at the graveside?
B: No, that would be at the church. That's be at the church.
P: And could anybody preach the funeral or would it have to be the regular
B: Well, I imagine the family's, whoever it was funeral, would have their
special preacher, you know, special one they wanted to preach. But in
them days, there never was, they just took them, you know, and everybody
went to the grave and put them away.
P: Why was it that they would wait to preach the funeral?
B: Just an old way they did, I guess.
P: You say it might be months before they'd preach it?
B: Oh yes. Sometimes it would be maybe seven to eight maybe for this per-
son's funeral, and we'd all go to the funeral and they'd preach the
P: Do you remember whether people ever used to put some little moment or
something in the casket with somebody that had died. Something that
B: Oh yeah. I remember.
P: What kinds of things?
B: Anything. Most of 'em put clothes, any little thing you had that you
thought they personally liked; they'd put it in there. Maybe lot of
'em--some I've seen them, known 'em pack clothes in there, hats, their
clothes, maybe the shoes, any little thing, you know,that this person
liked a great deal, they'd put it in with him.
P: Would it ever be like somebody's gun or anything in there?
B: Well, I don't know, but I'm sure they did, I imagine they did....
P: On the days that the funeral was preached, would people go to the grave-
yard after church?
B: No, they just go to church. That's where the funeral would be, in church.
P: Nowadays, we have different days that we sort of go and sort of decorate
graves like Memorial Day.,
B: Oh, yes, uh huh.
P: Did you celebrate Memorial Day?
B: No, we didn't know nothing about Memorial Day, or Mother's Day, or
Father's Day, or nothing like that. We didn't have none of those days
then. It was just....
P: What about Christmas or Easter?
B: Oh, yeah, we had a Christmas.
P: Did you all have Christmas trees when you were young?
B: Yeah. We had Christmas tree. Later on, not when I was right small, I
didn't ever remember no tree, but later as I grew up, you know, then I
could remember Christmas tree.
P: When you were a tiny little girl did people tell you about Santa Claus?
B: Oh, yes, sure did. And I--Christmas never would come. It was just so
long till Christmas would come.
P: Was there a lot of toys and things at Christmas?
B: No, they weren't too many.
P: What kind of things would people get?
B: There weren't too many toys but we always got some and got fruit most of
all, you know, we got fruit. That was, we was glad to see Christmas come.
to get our fruit. Which now, you don't know, we have fruit the year
through, all the months though.
P: But Christmas was the only season you got fruit?
B: Most of the time.
P: Like what kind of fruit?
B: Apples and oranges and well, grapes, and pecans and nuts of all kinds
and raisins--we'd call 'em raisins--we'd have all those at Christmas-
time, but we seldom got anything except, you know, till about Christmas.
P: One thing I'm interested in knowing about is whether people used to have
any real good ghost stories and things they told. Do you remember people
sitting around telling ghost stories?
B: Oh, yeah, I remember but I couldn't tell about the ghost stories EchuckleL.
I know my mother's daddy, I mean my mother's brother, he was bad to tell
them ghost stories. He used to come spend the evening--he'd ride his
little horse down and spend the night with us, about seven-eight miles
from Huxford down to Bell Creek. And we'd sit up at night out on the
P: Uh huh.
B: ...and he'd begin telling these ghost stories and you'd see everyone of
them younguns get scared, they'd begin getting closer and closer to my
mother and, you know, daddy sitting out there. They'd begin to get
scared when he'd tell them old scary ghost stories. But I don't know--
I never paid too much stories.
P: You don't remember just the basic....
B: I don't know, no I really don't remember just how about the ghost stories,
but I know he did tell them. I know that, but I couldn't personally line
up nothing like that about the ghost stories. But I know he told them.
And I know everybody'd get scared. And they'd begin to move up closer,
you know, to your mother and daddy when in the nighttime we'd be sitting
like out on the porch and sit up till late in the night. He'd tell
all kinds of old scary stories. I reckon it's bad, in fact, all of them
was at that time, I guess telling those scary stories.
P: Do you remember back in those days whether there were any other kinds
of stories that people would tell besides ghost stories, tell to their
children--kinds of stories they'd tell?
B: Well, I used to think they talked a lot about old money, finding money,
digging up money but I, that was just something they'd make out like
they were going....
P: But those were stories that people would tell a lot about digging up
B: Yeah, it might have been true, that about money, I really don't know.
P: Do you remember any of the stories.
B: He might could tell you about that money. ETo husband] Do you know any-
thing else? Do you remember anything? Do you remember any old Indian
stories about money or anything?
P: This is Mr. Barnhill. Before you begin telling it, Mr. Barnhill, would
you say when and where you were born, please, sir?
Mr. B: I was born in Santa Rosa County, Florida, in Milton, Florida, I mean, you
know, in 1904, 29 February, 1904. I have a birthday every four years
anyway. Let's see, Calvin McGhee and Greeley McGhee, Ida McGhee's sons
and myself have been up in North Georgia around up in there fooling
around with a little gold. We had some stuff rented up there--I mean
leased, leased for hunting minterals and stuff like that. And they've
told me time and again about their, uh, their mother, when she was a
girl, that she went with her, her folks over there across Little River--
that would be in Monroe County--and they said they crossed that creek on
a foot log and said they'd go over there and get a bucket of nuggets,
gold--there's some place over there there's some gold. And they'd bring
it down here 'bout nearly a peck bucketful and they'd trade it to
Carney down here. The Carney Mill people had a store down here, the
first store in Atmore, the first business was put up in Atmore, and they'd
trade that bucket of stuff to old man Carney and he'd allow them five
dollars for that whole bucket of stuff, see, in merchandise, so that's
the way they'd get their groceries and stuff. And them boys told me
that they'd heard their mother talking about going with them while she
was a girl. That would have been a long time ago.
P: Yeah. That was the woman who died last month.
Mr. B: Yeah, uh huh.
P: December, about age ninety?
Mr. B: And so them boys, we'd talk about it a lot, but we never did go over
there and check on it.
P: Little River?
Mr. B: Yeah, uh huh. We'd been up in North Georgia, around up in there, but we
never did go over there, so I had promised one of these Indian boys up
here from McCollough--other words, over there at a, well, he wasn't at
McCullough, it was at this side of McCullough, he was after me to go
with him over there. He said he knowed he could find that place; said
there was a little branch on the other side of the creek that ran up,
out across the hill, and he told me the name of the branch and everything
and he said that that gold was supposed to be in the fork of that branch
in Little River, according to his, I believe he said, his wife's grand-
P: Who was that that said he knew where the place was?
Mr. B: One of them Rolin boys. What's that old boy's name that got run over
with that car that time up there?
P: Is that Chippy Rolin?
Mr. B. Chippy, yeah chucklee.
B: CLaughing] You done met him...?
P: No, I hadn't met him, but I heard a lot of talk about him.
Mr. B: Yeah. You've heard a lot of him. And I'd promised to go with him, but
I haven't never got off. In other words I wrecked my car and I haven't
got out nowhere much here lately.
P: Well, tell me, getting back to, going to, you said north Georgia to look
for gold, tell me how that came about that you all started doing that?
Mr. B: What's that old man's name? His mother and daddy owned about eighty
acres of land on Holly Creek up there in North Georgia, that was above,
uh, right close to...
Mr. B: ...just above Ellijay, Georgia. That's in north Georgia. And in his time,
coming up, they'd get nuggets out of that little branch, creek that runs
by there, through all across their place there. So he put in and got
these boys to go with him up there. He lived over there towards Andalusia
or somewhere back over here, and he got in with these boys somewhere,
I don't know where, and they got, got them in the notion of going up there
with him and trying to find some gold up in the mountains up there, so they
went up there and went to leasing land. They had eighty acres of his on
their own. He hadn't leased it, his mother gave him rights. His daddy
was dead and his mother gave him rights on it. So, they went up there
a time or two and then one of these boys that was in there with them,
one of the Rolin boys over there, James Rolin, he give up and wouldn't
go back with them. Well, then they put in and wanted me to go with them.
These boys did, I didn't know Gibbons at that time, but I did--I went in
with them. I spent some money in there too.
P: Uh huh.
Mr. B: So we leased 1,300 acres up there from the...well, uh, 900 acres, govern-
ment land we leased and the balance of the 1,300 acres, excepting the
eighty acres that Gibbops already had, we leased it. Certain ones around
there, you know.
P: What years was this that you were doing this?
Mr. B: What was that?
B: That's been in the late years.
Mr. B: That was only...that was about fifteen years ago.
B: 1958, I imagine.
Mr. B: Yeah, something like that.
B: Yeah, long about 1957 or 1958.
Mr. B: Well, uh....
B: See, that was Chief Calvin and his brother, Greeley. You might already
have met him.
P: I know Greeley, uh huh.
B: Yes, him and them, they all went all together up there to that touching
Mr. B: Well, uh....
P: How long did you stay up there, by the way?
Mr. B: Uh, we stayed--let's see, what? Two years.
B: Off and on they went...in the fall of the year. We'd always go in the
fall of the year most of the time up there. The reason why we didn't
go any further than we did, we had--there was plenty of granite there
and stuff we could have worked on, you see, and made a go. We had a
granite, there was a whole mountain of granite there we could have mined
that out, you know, and sold it to the state, and made us a footway to go,
you see, we had to, we had to crawl before we could walk. But this old
man wouldn't see that he was as extravagant as the devil.
B: He spent everything he could on something or another.
P: This is Gibbons you're talking about?
B: Yeah. He wouldn't listen at none of us. So eventually we just let him
down. We quit him, on account of he was spending all the money we could
get a hold of, and wouldn't trying to do nothing but wanting to--he
wanted to lease the whole--he wanted everything joining, that's all he
wanted. And so we couldn't stand it, I mean we wasn't getting nowhere
like that. So we got out. Well, when we got out, our lease contract
that the old lady had given us on the thing run out and so his brother
went there. Gibbons and his brother went there and went to mining that
granite mountain there.
P: Gibbon's brother did?
IAC. B: Well, Gibbons, he didn't 'cause...
B: He died.
Mr. B: He died. But this brother of his went there then and took over and got
that granite and sold it to the state. Well, I don't know what all
they've got out of that since then, but they was gold there, though; we
found some gold. We got--I picked up some gold rock and sent it down
and had it analyzed. They found had three per cent, just ordinary, just
picking it up in the valley there. But that wasn't too strong, but
there was some there; there was a good bit of gold up there. You could
strip mine it. Now there's a place or two around there; there's two
places--one on one side of it and one on the other side of it, about
three miles from us, had, well, they had a strip mine over there. Oh, I
think they got about $9,000,000 out of it and then they had a shaft on
the other side of us over there. They got about, I think they said,
seventeen-eighteen million, or something like that before they lost
the vein. And, uh, so, uh, it like it was, that old man was a leader,
you know, and under the circumstances, that's the reason we give up. We
saw that we wasn't going to get nowhere listening at him and he bought all
kinds of little old motor machinery and stuff like that getting ready,
you know, as long as he could, he'd buy everything he could find--even
crushers and everything else.
P: Getting ready to haul the gold out?
B: [Laughs] Yeah, getting ready and never got ready.
Mr. B: Getting ready to grind them rock up and everything else.
B: Oh, Lord, I'm telling you.
Mr. B: Well, he never did get ready to do anything except run around and try
to lease more land. We had enough there to last us 400 years if we'd
live that long.
P: Well, you all lost some money on the deal then?
Mr. B: We lost money on it, yeah. We had a lot of fun though.
P: Were there any other Indian men besides Calvin and Greeley that had money
Mr. B: Well, James Rolin had a little in there to start with. Now he's the one
that dropped out when I went in. But we never did get anything out of
it. We stumped the money in it all right, but we didn't get anything
out of it.
P: Well, how did this man Gibbons get in touch with Calvin and Greeley and
all of them in the first place?
Mr. B: Do you know where?
B: No, I really don't. They just met him somehow, you know, somewhere.
Mr. B: Somewheres, I don't know...
B: Out around.
Mr. B: ...he was a great talker.
B: They just got in contact with him somewhere and he, you know, a lot
of people will for a, you know, somebody, and they did--they fell for
him. And he got up there in their community and he wanted them to go
up there and join in partners with him. And he went and they did.
Calvin and they had the, you know, Calvin was a smart fellow. Lord,
yeah, that Calvin was good as the Lord--I'm telling you right now,
right now, Calvin--I guess they've already told you the record of
him, maybe--Chief Calvin.
P: Well, different ones have talked about him. Do you remember him from
when you were small?
B: Oh, sure I do.
P: You all grew up together?
B: Oh, we grow up pretty 'bout--he was Hogfork and we was to Bell Creek
most of the time. Anyway, we called that all nearly 'bout the same com-
P: When you all were children, was he a leader?
B: My first cousin.
P: Was he a leader even when he was....
B: No, he weren't, he was just a funmaker, that's all he was at that time.
P: A funmaker?
B: I tell you, yessiree, but as he grew, he didn't go to school now and get
degrees up in college and everything, but he just got that old head over
it, head set for that--reading and learning, reading and learning.
P: He did learn to read?
B: Oh, sure, I imagine you couldn't turn Calvin down. He was a lawyer. He's
a good lawyer, I say. He could do, he did good as our lawyer in Atmore,
P: Now when he was a young boy, he was a funmaker?
B: Oh, yes.
P: What kinds of things would he do?
B: All kinds of things. Anything for you to make you laugh is what he'd do.
P: Can you remember some of them?
B: Really laughs so many old funny things that I wouldn't even try to
remember what he'd say, but he'd say all kinds of funny things to get
you to laugh. Anything come up for fun, he was in for it. He sure was.
P: Before I forget it, I wanted to ask you now that I got the machine running
to tell me how it was that...you said that your baby brother was one of
the first ones to finish high school.
B: Yes sir.
P: Could you tell me how it happened that he was able? How old was he,
first of all?
B: Well, he was born in 1917, you can figure it out.
P: Yeah, yeah.
B: That's when he was born.
P: Uh huh.
B: He was born July the seven, 1917, and he went up there at Bell Creek.
The opportunity was there--he went there. Well, we left Bell Creek. We
moved down at Nokomis, and he finished his school in Atmore. He went the
session--you know then that was a long term then, back when you got in
there, when you get out of Atmore. 'Course that was just be in the Indian
school where we didn't have the short terms. Out to the other schools
that had the long terms, but we wasn't allowed, you know, to go out to
P: So the other schools had longer terms than the Indians?
B: Oh, they had--yes, sure. Just the Indian schools didn't have but just a
little bit and we was lucky to get that little bit.
P: Why would the Indian schools have such a short term?
B: 'Cause they didn't like us, I reckon.
P: The teachers wouldn't stay longer?
B: Well, they just didn't--we couldn't get 'em any longer or something, I
don't know why. But anyway, they didn't, we didn't have no privileges at
all to get our education. We didn't have any.
P: But when your family moved to Nokomis--Florida or Alabama?
B: My brother. Nokomis Alabama. Well, he had an opportunity to go to Atmore
here and he went, I mean he went in the session through the fall session
and then when they had summer school, went right on too. And,.he finished
school, and as far as I know, that's the first Indian as I can remember,
as I remember.
P: And what's his name again?
B: Lindsey McGhee--he lives in Mobile now.
P: Did he ride the bus to school?
B: Yes, he did. He rose a bus. He rode a bus. He'd walk about, from our
house in Nokomis, how far is that?
Mr. B: About a mile.
B: Mile, better than a mile, 'bout a mile and a half according to me.
P: Did he show his Indian? Is he dark?
B: Well, I have his picture if you would like to see it. I don't know if
you can tell anything from a picture or not....
P: I just wondered if he had any troubles or anything like that.
B: The Indian people--they didn't like for him to go.
P: When he went to school, he didn't have any problems?
B: I don't think he did. I think he got along pr-et-ty good. I don't think
I ever heard of him having any trouble. I have my mother and daddy's
picture. He wore a moustache.
P: Your daddy?
B: Yeah, a lot of them wear it now. Well, they all did. All his brothers
had a full moustache.
P: Back to your brother that finished high school, after he finished high
school, what did he do next, do you remember?
B: No, he didn't take a job. He was helping my daddy around the farm. He
didn't go out and take a job after he finished school down here in
junior high in Atmore.
P: What was the reason that your family moved to NoKomis?
B: Well, we rented from a man out there, Mr. Joe Day, that's where our place
was, we rented from him for a good long many years. My daddy worked for
P: In NokomiS,?
B: No. That was a Bell Creek, now.
P: Bell Creek, uh huh.
B: We lived there for years and years in that one place in Bell Creek. Well,
I think some of Mr. Day's children got married and seemed like he, they
wanted a farm, so that made my daddy have to get out and look for him a
place. So he went down at Nokomis and he found this place that he bought,
120 acres, he got 120 acres there, and so we all, naturally, younguns went
along with him. There was houses on the place, you know. They lived
one place, we lived another, my brother lived another, all right on the
same place, you know. And they were living there when they died, both
of 'em passed away.
P: And you were telling me the other day that what they call the "Old House
Church" was on your daddy's place?
B: Yeah, that's on my daddy's place.
P: Was that originally built as a church?
B: No, it wasn't a big--it was a dwelling house. It was a big house, but
it was where we all lived, my momma and daddy lived. And they's both lay
their corpse in the front room. So now we sold it, you see. After they
died; my daddy died first. Mother and one brother, they lived there to-
gether, until she passed away and then we children sold the place, each
one got, you know, equally divided it amongst the children. Well, uh,
one of his nephews bought the place. And so their dwelling, they just
took it, you know, the partition out and made a big old long room, and
that's where they have the church over in Nokomis.
P: After you all moved down to Nokomis, did you all still keep up visiting
with folks out at Bell Creek?
B: Oh, yes, yes. We'd go back out there.
P: Did you get to know many people in the Nokomis area?
B: Yeah, we learned a good many people and all, yeah.
P: Do you think that when you moved, were you among the first Indian people
to move to Nokomis?
B: No, I don't guess we was, I think they--I reckon we was too. No, there
were some already down there.
Mr. B: Richard Walker.
B:Richard Walker and them was living down in there.
P: How did the Indian folks get along with the whites in Nokomis?
B: Oh fine, we never had any trouble. I never know of we having any
trouble.with whites, you know, out in the communities.
P: It was just the school?
B: Just the schools. Just mostly.
P: Why was that?
B: Well, the people didn't go out and mingle with them, that's one reason I
guess. We didn't, nobody would go out and mix with other people. And
they really didn't want the children to go....
P: I've heard some say that years ago, before even your time, that the
whites and Indians did used to go to school out in this area, and did
you ever remember your folks talking about whether they did or not?
B: Well, if they did, it was very little--not early they didn't. Now later
down through the years, Calvin really got in behind them, everyone, and
we had a privilege and a right to go and he got in behind them and then
they seen, you know, what...Calvin was sharp and he was smart, that they
couldn't deny 'em, and they had to let them go. But his boys...I think
Calvin's was the most, first boys, his younguns started from there
coming riding the bus, but they didn't let them ride, no siree, no
sir. I tell you, the Indian people had a kind of tough time, later back.
Of course, now, you know, up now it's everything, they've got all the
conveniences of everything as much as anybody else has now.
P: Besides the school thing, was there any other--what were some of the
other things the Indian people had a tough time on back then?
B: I don't know. They didn't handle with them too much; they had a tough
P: Start from the beginning and who it was.
B: Laugh] You have to tell that [to husband].
P: No, I want her to tell it. She was there now.
P: Who was the teacher?
B: Laugh] Miss Brown: Miss Julie? Miss Julie Brown?
Mr. B: [inaudible]
B: Miss Julie didn't have any Indian....
P: Well, that's not really important. What did she say?
B: You better let him tell it.
P: Okay, you tell it then. She's not going to tell it.
B: I don't like to tell it Claugh].
Mr. B: Well, this schoolteacher, Mrs. Black, she said, uh, she told her students,
people, the class there one day was talking about their nationality and
everything, first one thing and another. She told them that she--that
was at the Indian school where she was teaching--she told 'em, said,
"She had a little Indian in her, too." And one of those boys kind of looked
at her and laughed and said, "What you going to name him?" [All laugh]
P: Was that at the Bell Creek school?
B: Yeah (augh).
P: I'd like to get that on tape. Mrs. Barnhill was just telling my why
it was, she thinks, that the people didn't like the Holiness preaching
when it first came to Bell Creek.
B: Well, I don't know how I said it now. Well, they really didn't like
it because of the shouting in it. They didn't like shouting in them
days. A lot of the people didn't believe in it--they didn't believe in
shouting. But I did, I really believed it was right and, you know, it
was really under the good power that God was making them shout, I believe
it. I still today do.
P: Now you say when they first came, people didn't like getting under the
B: The people in the community around, they didn't like Holiness. No. They
fought it. They fought it.
P: You said some people would fall down?
B: Yeah, yeah. Fall out under the power. They'd fall out under the power
of God. They'd get to preaching, shouting, singing, and everything,
and people, I've seen them lay out just like they're dead, but, you
see, there still people that do that today. They don't still like Holi-
ness. They are people don't like Holiness.
P: And Mr. Barnhill, you said that you thought it was too strict for them?
Mr. B: Pretty strict, yeah, that's right.
B: It's a straight way, Holiness is, I'm telling you. You better live a
straight life if you're a Holiness, regardless of what name you go under,
you got to still live to be a Holiness, you got to be a Holiness at heart.
P: I wanted to go to another topic, and I wondered if you could sort of
pick up your life from the time you moved to Nokomis and just briefly tell
about when you got married, and the different places you lived....
B: Well, I had married just before I went to Nokomis. I had been married
not long. My first child was born at Nokomis and....
P: Where did you and your husband meet:
B: Up at Bell Creek. I guess at church. He used to come down there to
church. I guess that's where we first met.
Mr. B: Yeah, I got [inaudible].
P: And then from Nokomis where did you all move?
B: Well, we lived at Nokomis a good many years. All my children were
born there except one, my baby child, he was born out here, back out
towards State Farm, out here. All my children were born and raised up
and went to church in that community. Always did go to church. I be-
lieve in church and I always went to church. Lots of times I walked to
church, but I never failed going. When my daddy--he was another one.
He really believed in going to church--and as long as he was able, he
went to church, and uh....
P: Did you all move back up to Hogfork or someplace?
B: Well, we moved on a highway there. We didn't really move in Hogfork. We
owned a place there close to the New Home Cemetery, Hogfork Cemetery;
that was our place and we lived out on the highway and we left there.
P: Highway 21?
B: Yes, Highway 21. And so we left there and moved back here, which we
been living here ever since.
P: Were you farming out there or what?
B: Yes, we was. We had our farm was nearly fifty acres; we had a big fifty-
acre farm over there and we farmed until our children,'you know, got to
marrying off and going away. But his health was bad at that time and
he decided we would sell. So we sold our place and moved here, which
we just have, you know, [an] acre and our home here.
P: When did you move here?
B: In '60, I believe it was in '60, 1960. Right here, special spot. See,
we moved from up there back here and we've been living right here in
this little community ever since.
P: I wanted to go back to something you said before. You said that In-
dians are easily led. What did you mean by that?
B: Well, I mean, I guess, what I said. You know, you could--they'll just
take up, anybody take up anytime or anything with them, well, you just,
uh...Eto husband] Take his picture while he's drinking coffee.
Mr. B: What:
B: Take it while he was drinking coffee.
Mr. B: Now I'm going to take yours and mine. Let him have a couple.
B: Well, take his too.
P: Anybody come along and spend some time with them, you say they'll go
along with them?
B: Yeah, uh huh, they, yeah, they would go right along with them.
P: Why do you think that is?
B: I don't know.
P: Do you think that Indians are more easily led than other people?
B: Well, I believe they are. I believe they are, really.
P: Has it ever been bad for the Indian people to be easily led, do you
B: Well, not as I remember. I think they've always been mighty easy. They're
easygoing, I thought, Indians are.
P: Do you think being easygoing has hurt them sometimes?
B: Well, I don't know whether it has or not. I don't think it would have hurt
them any. Because they like to meet people that's friendly, Indians do.
If you take up time with them and they like your--you know, meet people
that are friends, make friends.
P: Do you think there's any difference in their attitude, between the older
and younger Indian generations living today?
B: Well, I believe they are.
P: In what ways?
B: I believe this younger generation things they more educated up or some-
thing like that. You know they think they kinda--to what I'd think, now
I might be thinking wrong, but our younger generation, I believe they
think they're a little more educated than the older ones are, that's what
they believe, which I don't think they are. We just got, we didn't get
a real good education or nothing like that, but I've known some of our
people that's be on way up yonder and finished school and they didn't
know no more than lot of us old ones. Now, I don't consider myself to
know nothing, but I know that I have known, knew things that they didn't
know really, and they'd going in school. You just got to get it in
your head, you got to get it in your head and not all get this out of,
you know, books and all like that and go up and mount the grades and
getting out of school, you got to learn so much of it yourself.
P: You mentioned welfare. How long has there been welfare for the Indian
people out there or for anybody for that matter?
B: Well, we never was on that welfare, but out around Poarch, since they
got Miss--who was this lady, old lady used to be out there at Head of
Perdido, first one come in there as I remember? Wasn't Miss Ewzer.
P: Was that Miss Macy?
B: Yeah, I believe it was. I think it was Miss Macy.
P: She got people on welfare?
B: Well, she gave them stuff, you know, she'd give them handouts, I'd call
it. Little of this and that.
Mr. B: She went out there and give them people stuff.
B: Clothing, you know, she'd give them clothing. Now, I never did get
any of that, but all my people up in there--see, that was mostly right
'round Head of Perdido, what they call. They got in, that's where this
church originated from, through her.
P: Let me ask you a series of real quick questions.
B: Uh huh.
P: When you were a young girl, do you remember any of the older heads that
could talk in the Indian language at all?
B: No, I didn't know about that.
P: You remember any that could say a few words?
B: No, I didn't.
P: As a young girl, do you remember people making sofki?
B: Oh, yes, I remember that.
P: Did you ever help make it?
B: I was really, I was small, but I seen it made a many a times.
P: Tell me how you saw it made.
B: Well, I'll tell you. They had a...I'd call it something sawed out about
this high. It looked like, it looked like a stump, a wood or something,
and it was beat out down in there about that deep and they'd put that corn
in there, and then they'd have a big old long stick or something and go
down in there and knock, beat, I've seen them do that. I remember that
well. They'd call it sofki. I never did like it.
P: You didn't like it?
B: No sir, I didn't like it. That's the way they did it. They'd put that
corn in there and they'd have a big old stick and they'd come down, it'd
be heavy, you know, at the end, big old long stick and they'd come down
in that thing and they'd knock it and knock it till they beat, I guess,
the husk off it, and that's the way they called it sofki, but I never
did like it.
P: Was the corn shelled off the husks?
B: Oh, yes, it was shelled off the cob. Yeah, they'd shell it and put it
down like in that thing, you know, and that was an old--I'd call it a
tree or stump, or something. I don't know what it was.
P: Did they do anything to it afterwards?
B: Well, after they'd get the husk out, you can cook it, they'd cook it.
P: Just cook it straight out of there then.
B: Uh huh, uh huh.
P But you didn't like it?
B: No sir, I didn't like it. I was one Indiand that didn't like that. I
didn't like it.
P: Do you remember any old medicines you could get out of the woods for
B: Oh, I remember 'em going out in the woods and getting stuff, yeah.
P: Do you remember anything specifically what they'd get?
B: Well, I don't know. I know the name, but I don't know whether they'd be
in a dictionary now or not Claughs].
P: What was the names of them?
B: Used to get this little, some kind of little tea growed up. They'd call
it spider leg tea.
P: Spider leg tea?
: That's what they did. And they'd get a, what they call a, they'd take a,
I've seen 'em a many a time take these old...pinestraws, and boil it
and make a tea out of it. They said it was good for colds.
P: What was the spider leg tea good for?
B: It was for colds too and fevers, well, anything like that. Then they
had this, what they call a horsemint tea, isn't it? It's good for colds
and everything. This is--it smelt so good. And they'd gather it,
some folks. And the butterfly root tea, they'd call it.
P: What kind?
B: Butterfly root. It would grow up about this high and had a pretty yellow
bloom on it, and that was butterfly root tea. And had what they call
a yellow root tea.
P: What was butterfly root tea good for?
B: That was still good for fevers or colds or anything. In them days, they
used anything, you know, like all...
P: And yellowroot tea--what was that good for?
B: That was good for a mouthwash. Yeah, so I--you could boil it down and
make a tea out of it. Yellow root tea. I've seen 'em get all that.
Mr. B: Fever grass is a purgative.
B: Yeah, that's a, what they call fever grass.
P: Fever grass is a purgative, you say?
B: Yes, uh huh.
P: Mr. Barnhill, did you grow up in Santa Rosa County?
Mr. B: Yes.
P: Did people down there use those same medicines?
Mr. B: A lot of them.
P: A lot of them, uh huh.
B: See, he was...he didn't come up into this part of the country until
Mr. B: Long about when I was about twenty-three, twenty-four years old.
B: See, he was raised, born and raised over there. He come up in here and
got in contact [laughs].
P: Are you part Indian yourself, Mr. Barnhill?
Mr. B. Yes, I have it in me.
P: What tribe are you part Indian?
Mr. B: Durned if I could tell you. We came from north Alabama. All my people
came out of England or somewhere. I was named after an Italian, but....
B: You know his name is Pietro Rozasco? You might know it's an Italian
name--Pietro Rozasco [chuckle].
P: That is an Italian name.
B: It is.
Mr. B: We came...our people came across the north seas....
B: He has people up around Florala, Andalusia.
Mr. B: Granddaddy, Great Granddaddy bought his wife; she was Indian. He bought
her, give $25 for her. And that's where that Indian come up, in....
B: You ask people around Andalusia, most people Creeks, that's what they
Mr. B: That's north Alabama, must of been Cherokee.
P: But that was way up in north Alabama.
B: Yes, they're scattered all throughout.
P: I wanted to ask you, Mrs. Barnhill, another question. Do you remember
the custom of carrying a baby around the house?
B: We never did take them on their backs like the pictures show.
P: I mean did you have the custom of when the baby was taken outside for
the first time, somebody would carry it around, you were supposed to
take after that person?
B: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
P: Would you tell me about that? Tell me how that went.
B: Oh, yeah, when a baby was born, the first one took it out, you took
it around the house, you wrap it up real good and around the house it
go, and they claim this baby would take after the one that, you know,
carried it around the house.
Mr. B: Then a son of a bitch must have carried me around [laughter].
P: Would anybody else ever go with that person?
B: No, just the one, just the one. Like I would come in this house here,
and there'd be a little baby in here, they don't do it nowadays--they
take 'em out of the hospital first thing now--but anyway if you...some-
time they'd slip in there and take the child out. I remember my mother
said this one lady took my brother out but when he was, you know, younger.
And this woman went away and so she said, "Now," says, "Okay," when I
come along, "she won't get this one." And she come back in that...up
at Uriah, Blackshear, and before she knew it, she had me, and around
the house she'd go with me, same woman. And she wanted us to take after
her disposition, you know, take after her. So I don't know whether we
did or not.
P: Was there any particular number of days after the baby was born that this
B: Well, uh, anywhere under a month. Some said three days, but it...you
know, we wouldn't allow the...mother's weren't allowed to go out under
thirty days when the babies were born; it isn't like it is this day and
P: Mr. Barnhill, was that something that was down down in Santa Rosa County
too with babies?
Mr. B: I've heard of it all my life, but I never saw it down but I have heard
of it all my life.
P: But you never saw it down?
Mr. B: No sir.
P: Can you think of any other old-time customs like that that people used
B: Think a minute.
P: What about helping a baby teething? Do you remember anything like that?
B: [Laughs] Well, I've heard them say, I always heard--this seems so funny,
but I've heard them say they did it. Take a rabbit and cut its head
off when he's alive and thake their, open up the head and take those brains
out and put 'em in a little clean cloth and rub the gums with it, now I've
hear that. That seems terrible nowadays and I can tell me children all
about it and they think that's the terriblest thing they ever heard in
P: Have you ever heard of a custom of putting a quail's head in the baby's
B: Yes, I have. I started to tell you.
P: What's that for?
B: They said they'd talk quick, make them talk early. Speech, you know. Yes,
sir, I heard all of that and I've seen it. I really know about that rab-
bit and the little bird, too. Find a little baby quail, pick up and let
it kind of pick in its mouth and they say that's make talk early. And
this rubbing the mouth with that rabbit's brains.
P: One more question like that. Do you remember any of the older folks
tanning their own deer hides when you were a girl?
B: Well, I remember hearing about it. Now I have heard 'em do that, but I
didn't never see that, but I heard them speaking of it, you know, and
P: What did they tan them with?
B: I really don't know, but I know that when they kill them, they'd stretch
them out on a plank, go up side of the house or somewhere, and let them
stay so long and they'd get them things down and work them somehow or
another. They'd make bottoms in chairs.
P: Bottoms in chairs, uh huh.
Mr. B: They had a vat and you put red oak boark in there.
P: Red oak bark.
Mr. B: And that red oak bark--I don't know whether they boiled it or not, but that
red oak board turned that hide.
P: Let me ask you--we got a little bit of tape left here--the other day you
were talking about the Indian claims money. Would you express your
opinion on that and tell about all of what's happened through the years
on that and your feelings about it?
B: Well, I feel like they should pay it off. That's what I feel. That's
the way I really feel. If it ain't but a little bit, I'd like for them
to pay it. And I think personally everybody ought to write their senator,
get him behind them and see if he wouldn't, they wouldn't get it paid
off. Because they are so many of our people that's passed away, went
down with the hope of receiving this money and there's nothing been done
about it. I think that they should pay it, that's what I feel, the way
I feel about it. Yes, and it's already been set aside for us and why
not pay it?
P: When did you first sign up for it?
B: Oh, years ago. I don't really know. But long years ago, there came a man
through that we signed up, years back, that's when I was little. They had
a big Indian meeting and they come in here and they got our money--older
time, you know. Got the money--they's going to do something about it,
and that's all they did. They got the money. We had big meetings--I
remember going to the meetings. I was a little old thing.
P: Going.to meetings about land money when you were little?
B: Yes siree, I sure did. Somebody come in here and claim he's gonna get
this money for us. And we'd have thismeeting and make up money that
was it, we never hear no more about it.
P: Where would you have the meeting?
B: Well, I remember when this very schoolhouse, the one I told burned up...
I was a little old thing, but I remember it. We had Indian meetings.
P: Were those Indians that were gonna get the money for you?
B: No, they were white people that'd come in and give this meeting, Indian
meeting, you know. People would gather in and make up money for them,
and that was it, never know no more about it.
P: What were they supposed to use the money for that was made up for them?
B: Well, that was to get the claim over 'em, you know, to work it up, but
they never did. And so it went on until in, let's see, about...what
year we here in Nokomis, I mean Calvin and them start this? Was it about
Mr. B: It's about twenty years ago.
B: About '40, in '42 or something. Somewheres in the forties, about '42,
Calvin and this Brooks Rolin, his nephew, they got in behind this, and
then we all begin to sign up. And it's just been working on down through
this many years. And never nothing done about it and the president, he
said that it was ours, he appropriated the money. Well, why is it they
don't pay it off? I don't know what the hold-up is.
Mr. B: Indian Affairs Division up there holding it up.
B: Yeah, I guess so.
P: You mentioned Brooks Rolin. How did he get involved in this?
B: Well, he was a very smart guy too. And that was some of Calvin's rel-
atives. He was his nephew, I believe, and he was a pretty great worker,
pretty smart guy too.
P: But it was mainly those two who first started it?
B: Yeah, they was the first one I know of that started it. Calvin and Brooks
Rolin, which is dead now. Yeah, he was real smart. And they was...I
well remember, in his forties sometime, we was out in the field picking
cotton and they come over--we had to put up so much, they told each one
to give so much and they was working at it 'cause it took money to go
around, you know, for traveling expense and everything else. Everybody
would give a little money and then they set a day, you know, we all went
up and signed up. They just work it on down through that way.
P: Just as an example, how much money do you think you yourself, you've put
B: Oh, Lord, I don't know. I couldn't even know. It was each--we put in
so much to get it started, you know, and then we'd put in--it was so
much for each one of 'em--myself too and my children to sign us up. And
it then come along and take so much to notarize them, and then it took,
come on down, had to refix some papers. I just, I have no idea. I
didn't try to keep up with it. I wish I had. Things back, wish I
had put them down where I could have kept them in memory. But you know
you can just think back part of it, ally, you can't get it all, but I
wish that I'd just made a....
P: Made a tally sheet?
B: Yeah, of things that's happened back, you know, in the years gone by; it
would be something to see. I want to show you my daddy's picture and
my mother's picture, too, before you go.
P: Let me ask you one final question. What do you think the future is
going to be like for the Indian people of Alabama?
B: The future?
P: We've been talking about the past. What do you think about what's gonna
be in the future?
B: Lord, I don't know. It's gonna be terrible. It's just bad times for
anybody now the way the world's running, it's a terrible situation every-
way, but young people especially, our young people, I don't know, they
going...well, it's everywhere, it ain't only here amongst our people, it's
the world over. They going looks like astray to me, unless there's
something done to check our young generation of people, I don't know
where they're gonna end up to, that's what I feel about it.
P: And that's for all young people?
B: Oh, yes, that's everywhere, that's not only amongst our, the Indian people,
that's I count that for the world over. 'Course our young generation is
right in there with them and not too much partiality shown amongst them,
you know, you can get out and pretty well, you know, mix pretty well now.
I don't know what the future holds for them, but I know one thing....
. don't know which one's the meanest?
Mr. B: I don't know which one's the meanest now.
B: That's the truth, oh, it's terrible. The young generation now. I
don't care what nationality they are, they are, really got it nowadays.
Sure, the colored and everybody, they just got it made. The colored and
all are mixing too, now, you know, it's bringing problems. Well, it's
not as bad, I don't reckon, right now as it was. Maybe it's getting a
little settled, but, you know, we never was used to nothing like that
for the last few years, but....
Mr. B: According to the Scriptures it's going to get from bad to worse.
B: Oh yes, that's the Bible; I don't think there's anything we can do about
P: That's one thing I forgot to ask you about was years ago, were there many
colored people living around Bell Creek at all?
B: In that community there was one old couple lived there, old man Henry
Armstrong. And he was Dr. Sellers', our doctor at McCullough, he was our
doctor, and that was his wife, the little colored man's wife was their
maid. But they did live and they took care of his farm down there.
P: Down at Bell Creek?
B: Yes, uh huh. He was a real good man and they were a good family.
P: Would he go to church with you all?
B: No, no.
P: Where did he go to church?
B: They had a church back out toward McCullough. We never, we never have
had colored go to church with us, yet...up until yet, up until now.
We mixing the schools and all that but we still have never had coloreds
visiting our church.
Mr. B: There's a colored grave over there in that cemetery. I have worked
B: Oh yeah, that's old, that's an old slavery nigger that was buried. I
reckon they told you all about that one, haven't they?
P: No, I've heard people talk about it, but I never had anybody tell me
about it on tape. Maybe you could tell me how that came about.
B: Well, that was in that community. I'm sure they could tell you more
about it to get it on tape than I can.
P: You talking about the Head of Perdido cemetery?
B: Yes, uh huh, this old, uh, what's that old...? Joe Coley, they called
P: And Aunt Serene?
B: Yeah. That was them. Now they lived in that community and I'm sure
any of them folks up there, because, see, they were like Bell Creek, Hog-
fork, and Head of perdido...they was three separate communities and
what went on in their community, well, we would all know about it, but
we couldn't, you know, personally tell you just how it happened and all,
but those people out in Head of Perdido should be able to tell you all
about it. He's an old slavery, I know that. And his home was over there
which I don't reckon none of it stands now. But it would have been
something to have had a picture of that old, old home.
P: And he's buried in that Head of Perdido cemetery?
B: Yes, they say he's buried in that Head of Perdido cemetery.
P: Well, is there anything I haven't asked you that you would like to say?
B: Well, I don't know. I don't reckon there are, 'cause I can't think, I
really don't know, you know, as memory when you talk about things, your
memory, you know, can come to you. Now my brother, Narva Lee, he probably
could tell you lots if could have ever met him, you know. Probably you
might have a privilege of meeting him someday. He's real smart, you
know, he has a....
Mr. B: You need old man Bob who lives over here...our history.
Mr. B: Bob Barnhill, over there at Crestview. That wasn't our name when we was
overseas before coming here. It's changed, see. It was Bonneville over
Mr. B: Yeah. They got here, they changed that to Barnhill. Now for what reason,
I don't know.
P: Maybe it was easier to pronounce.
B: Maybe so. Well, uh, I was a McGhee, that's what I was, then married a
Barnhill. My mother was a Colbert. Now, they were Indian and they were
up at Huxford, around Huxford, Alabama. That was her old home place,
she was around....
P: Did you all visit up at Huxford much when you were little?
B: Yes, uh huh, 'cause all my mother's people were there, my mother's bro-
thers and sisters. ATell you somebody you ought to talk to and that's
old man Williams and his wife, they're Indians, down here in Atmore.
B: They might be good.
P: Who is that now?
Mr. B: They, uh, she, see, she was a...do you know who she was?
B: She was a Hollinger.
Mr. B: Hollinger. Well, they all Indians, see.
B: Oh, yeah.
Mr. B: Williams and Hollingers. So he could talk to them and get lots of
B: Yeah, he's old, but a....
P: What's his name?
B: Uh, Williams.
P: His first name?
B: They lived down...what is his first name. It ain't Vale?
Mr. B: I don't know about that, but you go down here to this first red light.
P: Uh huh.
Mr. B: And turn right and when you turn right at that red light you turn first
left just as you get to that big church house in the corner, turn left
just this side of the church house and it will be the first house on
the right, about a half a block.
P: And that's Mr., that's Mr. Williams'?
Mr. B: Yeah.
P: They're Indians up around Huxford, you. say?
B: No, they at Uriah.
P: Uriah, uh huh.
B: They, yeah, they would be good on that. That old man is pretty old, and
she is too.
P: Is he related to Mr. John Williams from Monroeville who makes those
Mr. B: Oh, I wouldn't doubt but what they wouldn't be some relation.