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Title: Interview with John Williams (July 17, 1973)
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007516/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with John Williams (July 17, 1973)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: July 17, 1973
 Subjects
Spatial Coverage: Creek County (Fla.) -- History.
 Notes
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.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00007516
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 41

Table of Contents
    Copyright
        Copyright
    Interview
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        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
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        Page 11
        Page 12
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        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
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        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
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        Page 31
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        Page 33
        Page 34
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        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
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        Page 41
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Full Text



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This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of
Florida.

Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
All rights, reserved.

This oral history may be used for research,
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the University of Florida










CRK 41 A
SUBJECT: MR. JOHN WILLIAMS
INTERVIEWER: PAREDES
DATE: JULY 17, 1973
SIDE: ONE
PAGE: ONE












I: This is July the 17th, 1973, and I'm in the home of uh, Mr. John C. Williams,

uh, in Monroeville,Alabama, and I'm going to let him identify himself, and

when and where he was born. And he'll just began talking about his uh,

family background, and uh, his Indian grandmother.

S: Uh, I was born...my name is John C. Williams...called Captain Dan Williams

all the time. I was born in Pine Barren, Florida, March 26, 1890. Uh, my

father was Jo...uh, James Williams...James Allen Williams. And uh, he was

born in 1863 I think it was something like that," o Mrs. John Williams,

and Melinda Pile Williams. And uh...Melinda...Melinda Pile Williams was my

grandmother, and she was an Indian. And uh, that's where I get my Indian

ancestors from. And they was living...we lived in Pine Barren for awhile,

and then moved from Pine Barren to Alabama...uh, Florida...and we moved to,

I believe it was uh, Greenville Alabama when I was very young. And when

I was about eight years old we moved to Mississippi, and stayed there until

I was about fifteen...sixteen, and then I came to Mobile, Alabama, and

stayed there. And uh, I've been n Alabama now ever since.

I: Let me ask you first...what county in Florida is the place where you were

born?

S: I don't know what county...it was Escambia County I believe. It was Pine

Barren, that's right out of Century, there's no town there anymore.











SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



I: Oh, there's not?

S: And my daddy was a blacksmith, and he was just uh, building different mills.

He was working...a blacksmith working for mills. And that's the reason we

moved over to Mississippi to a little town called Chicora, Mississippi.

I: What was the name again?

S: Gicora, Mississippi.

I: Um huh.

S: And uh, heb4 -tAZy -4- -4AA 4. uilt. then for those two mills.

There was a blacksmith for two big mills there. A little town, it was a little

bitty sawmill town. And while we were there, the government, somebody, I

don't know who it was, I heard my daddy talking about it, tried to get him

to move out to Oklahoma, and he wouldn't do it.

I: Was....

S: I don't know who it was...that was sending, but somebody...some Indian

affairss people wanted to move to Oklahoma.

I: Some Indian Affairs people?

S: Uh huh...somebody...it was...that had something to do with the Indians

moving to Oklahoma.

I: Was this town in Mississippi near where the Choctaws lived?

S: Well, it was in Wayne County, and I think it was just a little bit below

the octaws, where they were...where we were. But we was over there on

account of goingAwhere the Robertson Lurybar Company, to build that

mill over there.

I: Was...was your father a...an Indian looking man?

S: Yes...my...I say he was. I'll show you the picture of it...you want to see


2












SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: ...it...I've got it in the living room...and you can see it.

I: Uh...do you recall whether he uh...knew any words in the Indian language?

S: No, I don't recall it at all. And in fact, being...in them days, Indians

was looked down on a whole lot. And they didn't...he didn't talk much

about Indian...his Indian affairs, or anything at all.

I: He didn't?

S: Not much. He only just told us who his mother was and all. And he talked

to us in the family a little once in awhile, but he would...outside, he

never did too much talking about Indians. In fact, when his mother died,

she died, and was buried in uh...oh uh...Milview, Florida. That's out

from, on the edge of Pensacola...just out of Pensacola. And they wouldn't

let him bury her in the white cemetery, because she was Indian.

I: And what year was this?

S: That's in Miliview, Florida.

I: What year was this that she died?

S: I don't know what year it was, but it was before he married. And they got

married in...let's see...'80...in the early '80s. 7J er- -4irL b uew

but the records and all, of the things, in the court house

was...been burnt, and that's the reason I couldn't find any records of

Kar oe-r-'agre- in Pine Barren. .

I: Going...going back to when you were in Mississippi, and this was after

you were born ...that they tried to ....

S: Yeah! Oh, I was born in 1890, and we went to move up there...uh we left

for Mississippi in about 1908.

I: Uh, do you recall, remember your father saying anything about this within

3










SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



I: ,/4the family...about this man coming to get him to move, and....

S: He didn't say who it was, but when he talked about them...there was a

doctor there, Dr. Ed Gavin. Uh, our doctor, he was also an Indian, and they

tried to get him to go...them two...tried to get both of them to go out there.

Heard him talk about that...said neither one would go out there, said they

would rather stay here.

I: And that...that must have been in the early part of this century, or...?

S: Well, that was in...uh yeah...the early part of the century...that was about

the turn of the century.

I: Um huh.

S: About 18...be about 1900.

I: About 1900?

S: About...somewheres around 1900.

I: How much education did your father have?

S: He didn't have much...just a very little education.

I: Uh huh.

S: He never did get much education, but I'd say about...he could read and

write and take figures, and such as that, but...about sixth or seventh

grade.

I: Um huh. Do you happen to know how he picked up his blacksmithing trade?

S: Uh, just manually...just...he just picked it up is all...hisjself...doing

blacksmith's work. And his...his father...was uh...a mill man also, you see.

I: Uh huh. Uh, you never actually saw your grandmother then, because she died

before your f rer and mother were married?

S: No, she died before...even before he was married...before my father was

married. In other words, he had a younger brother...and uh...he had to take

4











SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: t,4care of his younger brother. See, and his father...now I never heard...

heard him say when his faAer died or anything. His father was Welsh,

come from over in Wales, to Jacksonville.

I: When you came back here to Alabama, uh, where did...what town did you live

in?

S: We lived in Mobile.

I: In Mobile. And uh, when did you come to Monroe County?

S: Well, I came to Monroe County in 1924. In other words, we went to Mobile

in 1908, and we stayed there, and then I went to...in the Army, and I went

out to the Mexican border, to that trouble out there. And they came back to
deL re-
Mobile, and then the war was the 4yr with Germany, so I went...stayed in

the service, and I went overseas, and then came back. And then I went to

the conservatory and stayed four years at the conservatory, and was

teaching music. And then I came to Monroeville in 1924 as a bandmaster

there. I thought thirty-two years and retired in '56.

I: Uh...where did you go to conservatory?

S: New Orleans Conservatory of Music and Dramatic Arts...at the New Orleans

Museum there.

I: Uh, you went to uh...grade school and higjschool then in Mobile?

S: No, uh in...uh...some in Mobile, and some in...in uh...Wayne County.

I: In Mississippi...uh huh. Could you talk a little bit about your experiences

on the Mexican Border?

S: Well, uh, all we did...went out there...see, they had that trouble with

Villa out there, and we went out there, and we didn't have much

experience. The only thing is...uh...they done a whole lot of marching

5










SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: poand drilling out there. It was cold weather. And uh they had one

scare...one night.-&t had the guns shooting, and we thought...the...the

g rds thought that they saw somebody trying to come in on the...on

to the camp where we was. And they started to shoot, and we come to

find out it wasn't anything. It was some bushes or something ----------

I: It was what?

S: It was some bushes or something...there was some mesquite bushes. They

thought they could see it moving see...and they started to shooting at

it, and got us all aroused, but it wasn't.nohody. They thought there

was somebody coming in.

I: Were you stationed in New Mexico?

S: No, uh, we were stationed in Arizona, Nogales, Arizona.

I: Nogales, Arizona. What was the /rmy like in those days?.

S: What was what...?

I: What was the Army likezas-far as your food, and....?

S: Well, theArmy life was just...uh...well, it was worse than what it is

now. We had to do all of our travelling walking. See it was...now we

didn't get a chance to ride. We were mechanized of course...they had some,

some uh...mules and things to pull some wagons. And we had some mechanized

wagons, but that hauled supplies and such as that. And we...but the...the

/rmy ...I know when we was in Nogales we had to walk to T#iJn. At least

most of the residents did...the exercise and drill...I forget now how many

miles...seventy-five or eighty miles...something or other...forget. It

was uh, a little way, but uh, our Army...the people catched...got

pneumonia from camping out. And a Co nel in our...CoAel Madison...our

Co nel wouldn't let us go because it was just too dangerous. So we got

6











SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: /^,4out of going, but we did have to hike when we come back to Mobile.

I was in camp there, and fixing to be discharged when war was declared

with Germany. So we marched from Mobile to Montgomery.

P: On foot all the way?

S: On foot, all the way. I was in the band see, I was in the Army band...

I: Uh huh.

S: And we had to march...allthe soldiers aI ac-k. from Mobile

to Montgomery.
4-
I: Did you camp out in tens all the way?
bX-
S: Camped out in tents all...all the way. We left Mo...I think it was the fifth

of July, hot weather, and we had to cross the bay then on boats. There

wasn't no way to cross it, but be on them boats, see, and we crossed the

bay in boats. And the first night, I remember, we stayed in Daphne, Alabama.

And the second night we stayed there just above a little town below

Bay Minette there. There's a little town. We was camped out there, and the

third day we was in -Bay Minette. And we C^-Og about twelve miles a day

all the way up. And there wasn't any paved roads that day, we had to walk,

it was all dirt road we had to walk.

I: And then in Montgomery they put you on trains or what?

S: They put...in Montgomery we was in training, and we stayed there for awhile,

and then we went to Macon Georgia, and some of them marched there, but

most of them rode to Macon, Georgia. And then we left Macon, Georgia, and went

to New York, and then from New York sailed overseas.

I: Did you see action overseas?

S: I didn't see any action at all. I happened to get out of that. And uh, we

7












SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: A4Awere supposed to go in action and relieve another band. See, a band

would do...Lt0-5 o"9 the hospital d8 y hbus esS the

hospital corp. And uh, but uh, about a day before the Armistice was

signed we got orders to go up and relieve another band...then the

Armistice was signed and they cancelled the orders.

I: When you were in the service, uh, did you meet Indians from other parts

of the country?

S: Uh, a good many of them...yeah, there was some Indians from a different

part of the country. I met a good many of them.

I: Did you get to know them very well?

S: Not uh...well, it's been so long ago...I remember, but I...I'd...I'd

know them pretty well, but I just...I remember...I don't remember their

names or anything...

I: At that time, did you think of yourself as being Indian or...or white...?

S: Well yeah...uh, I remember -+hc- +o /d -4Ve-v\ I was Indian.

And at one time, when I was going to the conservatory over in New Orleans,

I was rooming at a place there, and there was a good many boarding in

this place...a boarding house see...and uh, they got to talking about

nationality...they wanted to know what nationality I was, and I told them

I was an American. They said, "We know you're American, but what nation-

ality are you?" Said, "You're...uh, we're all American." I said, "well,

you all are French, ain't you all." Well, them was French down there.

I said, "I'm American Indian, that's who I am. Well, I'm the only

American here...you all are not Americans." And at any rate they

realized then that what I means was I was an American...see.

8











SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



I: Um huh.

S: But I...I never did deny that I was an Indian. I've always...was proud to

say that I was...was from Indian ancestors.

I: Uh, when you were in conservatory, you were there for four years did you

say?

S: I was in the conservatory four years.

I: Uh, in the conservatory, at that time, uh, did you take other subjects

besides music?

S: I...I just studied music. All I wanted to do see...uh...I had...I was uh,

thoroughly versed in all band instruments. I was in the bandmaster's

school over in after the Armistice was signed I went to bandmaster's

school in Chaumont, France. The...well, I was a goo...was a good

bandmaster when I come out, but I thought maybe I wanted to teach piano,

in conjunction with band instruments I was just going to teach band

instruments individually. So I went to conservatory to teach piano...

learn to teach piano. I didn't care about playing it so much, because I

wanted the techniques on teaching it...and play enough so I could uh, express

some phrase in the iano that I wanted a child to know, you see. And I

studied for four years. And I studied Sol-V9Qio and harmony, counterpoint,

such as that. Well, when I come back and started teaching piano, nobody but

girls took piano lessons. And to hold...to play a piano properly, you had

to hold your hands a certain way. And they wouldn't cut their fingernails

off...they was click...click...click all the time, and I just quit teach-

ing piano, because if they think more of their fingernails than they did

piano...I'll go fish. So I just quit piano all together, and started- .4s

9











SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: ,-.that's when I got...teaching just band...see it...go around and give

a few private lessons. And I come up here in '24...and I stayed in...

teaching in this system here.

I: In Monroeville?

S: Monroeville...in the Monroe County system here...for thirty-two years,

until I retired in '56.

I: How did you uh...first get your interest in music?

S: When I was a kid we had a little old band over there in Chicora, Mississippi,

where my daddy was blacksmith...and I started music there. Started king

under a fellow by the name of Bill Halmer (?). And uh, then we moved to

9bbile, and I kept it up. And I got into professional music down there.

Uh, I played professional...I was playing professional music before I

was eighteen years old.

I: Did you ever uh, take part in music in church, or anything like that?

S: In church?

I: Um huh.

S: I used to sing in church a good bit. I belonged to the Baptist Church.

I used to sing in church then.

I: Uh, as a child, what was...what was life like back in those days when

you were a child? In Mississippi, and Florida ....

St, Well uh, it was different from what it is now. And uh...we had different

interest's, and there wasn't any cars or anything to go around in. You

had to go to anywhere you wanted to go...take your girl out riding, you

had to carry out in a horse and buggy. _____my younger

days, you hear. But a bunch of boys would always get together, and...and

10











SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: ...uh, on Sundays was about the only day we'd get together...after

Sunday school, and go out and play. We always had work to do around

the house or somewhere or we was going'to school. And uh, we'd play

different games...uh, sometimes town ball, we didn't know what baseball

was...but they called it town ball...and such as that.

I: When you came to Monroe County, did you get to know uh..fairly soon, uh,

some of the Indian people around here in Monroe County?

S: Well, no, it was a good while before I began to find out that there were

Indians. They never did say...they didn't say they was Indians...in front

of me. And I began to find out there was...and uh...well, I'd been up there

twenty years...twenty-five years before I found out any of them was Indians.

I: Before you...before you knew about Porch and all of that?
A
S: Yes, uh huh, yeah.

I: Well then how did...how did you get involved in the Indian Council and

those things later on?

S: Uh...I heard...I was visiting friends in Mobile, and I heard that they were

having a meeting...going to have a meeting...up at Atimore. And I says,

"Well, I'm going up there with them." And I came to...came down there

and went to Porch with them, and they had the first meeting. And then uh,

when they was selecting men, different ones, to be on the council, why

they selected me as one of the Indians.

I: Do you remember who nominated you to be on the council?

S: I think it was Tom Weatherford, I'm not sure of it.

I: Um huh. Where was he from?

S: He's from uh...around here to uh...uh...Alisca, I think it is.

11












SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



I: Had you known....

S: You know uh...you know John Weatherford, the boy that was on the council

with us?

I: Um huh.

S: Well, it was his daddy.

I: Uh, how did he know you? Is that the first time he had ever met you?

S: No, I'd been know...I'd been knowing him...see I was teaching school

down here, and they knew me from teaching school. They knew I was Indian

see.

I: So there were quite a few Indian descendents around here that knew you...

S: That knew I was Indian.

I: ...Indian, but you didn't know they were Indian?

S: Un uh.

I: When you were teaching school did you ever talk to your students about

Indians?

S: Well, I used to...they'd ask me what nationality I was and I always told

them that I was a Indian...from Indian ancestors.

I: Um huh.

S: Told them I.was .Creek Indian.

I: Well, you've been on the council since the very beginning, haven't you?

S: Begi ng...I was nominated the first one that they had, and I've been

on it afterwards. Only two of us...Roberta I think...uh Sells...is one,

and there was me.

I: Roberta Sells...uh huh.

S: Uh huh, and me is the only two original councilmens they had.

12












SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



I: Well, I'm just going to let you talk as things come to you, but could

you talk about uh, what has happened over the years as a council

member, and the kinds of things you've done?

S: Well, there's a whole lot of things happened. There's different things.

We used to go to a meeting...we used to have a meeting when it was first

organized...every week, sometimes twice a week. And I'd drive from here

down to Bay Minette...had all the meetings in Bay Minette. And Mr.

Thompson...I never could agree with him on a whole lot of things that

he did for us, and theway he done. But uh, I used to go down there

every meetings, and we'd have different things. He'd tell us one thing,

thdn first thing you'd know, he'd come up with something else. And uh,

I tried to get him to put, uh, the people that was handling money...under

bond. And I'd never get him to do it, but he looked like he wanted to

raise the ceiling off you...jump up to the ceiling with it. I'd mention

anything about somebody...putting under bond that was handling money.

And he wouldn't....

I: Do you mean the registration fees?

S: Yeah, for the registration fees. And we had a fellow down there, Heinz,

and I warned him...he said he was already under bond. Well, he was,

because he was justice of the peace, but that didn't do us no good.

I: Who was that...Heinz...you said?

S: Uh huh. And so we just lost all the money, just as fast as he collected.

I: His name was Heinz...or...?

S: Huh?.bderay...no, Hand.


13














SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



I: Hand...uh huh.

S: Hand, Godfrey. I mean Hand was his name.

I: Uh huh. And how did you lose the money?

S: Well he...he put it in the bank, and we never did get it...he spent it or

done something with it. He was supposed to had when he died...we couldn't

find a record of it.

I: And this was registration fees from the land claims?

S: Yeah, registration fees...uh huh.

I: Did you help on registering people yourself?

S: Uh, I...I never did help with the registration fee at all...the registering

at all.

I: Uh huh. Uh, did you ever go on trips to Washington with the gr6up?

S: Yeah, I went on several trips to Washington. I was there a couple of

years with students.

I: Would you talk about that a little bit?

S: Well, the only thing is...is I...we just went up there...and it appeared

to me, that the courts...in the courts, when they had the trial...that

uh, the...the lawyers for the government...it's...you would think, from-ke_-S-

they talk, that they was paying this money out of their own pockets.

They was doing everything they could to make it as little as possible, if

they'd give us anything at all, to give us as little as possible. Yep, that's

the way it appeared to me. And they did finally wind up not giving us about

half. I always contended that the uh government...the Bill says...that Act

that gave us a right to collect the money...to make a fair settlement with

14











SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: ,,,the Indians, and I never did think that what they gave us was a fair

settlement. And I don't believe anybody else with...with a good mind

would approve that ? .

I: That...the final amount was about four million dollars, or something like

that?

S: Yes, it was a little less than four million dollars...for, I forget now

how many acres of land. But it didn't amount to much an acre...and the

timber was worth more than that on it.

I: Um huh. Through the years, I guess you took, paid a lot of money out of your

own pocket in....?

S: I guess it's cost me five or six hundred dollars.

I: Uh huh.

S: All together...for all the trips I've made. I made, I guess, over a hundred

trips...down to Atmore and back, and it cost me at least a couple of dollars

a trip for my gasoline...go back there so much, that wear and tear on your

car, and I'd pick up other people and carry them down there.

I: What was your motivation for spending that time and money?

S: Uh, to...just to help the Indian people, and do everything I could to get

it for them. I knew that I'd never collect what I put out on it.

I: Uh huh.

S: And just to help the Indian people get their .. because I felt

like they was due something. Yeah.

I: Uh huh. Due something...?

S: Do something to help them.

I: Uh huh...uh huh. Where was your grandmother born by the way? I don't know

if I asked you that.
15










SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: Uh, I don't know. I never did find out where she was born.

I: Uh huh.

S: I never did know exactly where she was born.

I: Now, you say you...

S: It was somewhere in...in uh...I think, in Alabama.

I: In Alabama?

S: Uh huh. Now, it shows on the record...that she's a family...in the family,

the...on the archives...records...the...I mean the uh...oh...censorship,

But-uh, she was in the family I think in...I forget now what it is.

Uh, but the...1850...'40s...something like this, she was in the...in the

family it might have been later than that. But some year, she

was 5 J her name in the family. What is the family. The, the,

I...it didn't say why for anything, but it was a household...in the

household.

I: Uh huh. Uh huh. In a census?

S: Uh huh.

I: Yeah.

S: And it gives the name of my father, and some people ahead of him...some

of them wasn't born then see, but some of them had been.

I: And you don't have any Indian on your mother's side at all?

S: Un uh...my mother was French.

I: Uh huh. Well back to the council...uh...what do you think is in the future

now for the council...what's going on these days? What do you think about

all the things that are happening now?

S: Well, I think it uh...it's a good thing...we're going on...to help...because

there is things that could be done, like that uh, Indian uh, uh...I mean the,

16











SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS
INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: ...oh uh...the thing they're building down there at Atmore....

I: Um huh.

S: I think that if...if...if we was to give up as a council that would

never be uh...down there, that U+ rut .

I: Um huh.

S: And in uh...these uh...uh homecomings and such as that that we have

down there. That would just give up, and we never would have anything

at all, and never gath...have a gathering of the Indians anymore if

the council don't stay together and keep them organized. That's the

way I feel about it. And that's the reason why I go down there. I'm getting

pretty old to go down there and make them trips, but I still enjoy going.

I: I guess...go ahead.

S: I'm get...I'm getting a little hard of hearing, and I can't hear sometimes

in the council...what they're talking about. But I'll find...uh. wiggle

around and find out somebody that knows something tell you...get them

to tell me personally what it is...if I don't understand it.

I: Uh huh. Uh, I guess...now that's been almost twenty-five years since this

started. I guess you've seen a lot of change in the Indian community down

around Porch.

S: Yeah.

I: Could you t1k about some of the kinds of things that have changed?

S: Well, I do know that uh... it...it looks like at the town down there

at Porch is building up a little bit. And they're having beater farms.

And they've got better houses down there than they had when we started

all this council.

I: Uh huh. What kind of houses did they have when you first started going there?

17










SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: Uh, little shacks, and it looked like tar paper on the side of it, and

uh, not a very good roof...and just more shacks than they was houses.

But now you see a good many good houses...and then some brick houses

down there now.

I: Right.

S: And the...and the roads...seems like that the county is paying more

attention to them, and building some paved roads through the town.

I: When you started going down there, there were logs...

S: Wasn't any paved roads at all...down through there at all. All....

I: Nope...Jack Springs road wasn't paved....

S: All little dirt roads, narrow...sometimes you couldn't hardly pass

somebody on the road.

I: Ill be. Uh...going down there...someone who hasn't grown up in that

immediate community, uh, how would you say youwere received by the

Indian people down there? How did they get along?

S: Well, I first started to going down there...with the members of the

council...see. And they all knew me from that, and I was received good

by them. It was...it was good to see them. I've always found them very

courtesy, and...and uh...they appreciated me coming by and seeing them.

I: Uh huh. Have you ever tried uh, to get any kind of music program

started with the Indians?

S: Never have. Well, I never did have the time hardly. I was...had been

so busy...I...just a little time...I might go down there once a week,

or once a month for a...the...the council meeting, but other timestI.l

don't hardly have time to go over there. Cause this little stuff I got

here...these hobbies, keep me busy now...and it's almost turned out to

18











SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: "*be labor instead of a hobby.

I: We'll get to that in a minute. Another subject I'd like for you to talk

about, since you were at it for so long, is...if you could talk about the

teaching profession through the years, and your work in that here in

Monroe County?

S: Well...well uh, I taught uh, uh...as far as the Indians concerned, I

taught a good many Indians. I can't recall exactly the names and all.

But uh, all the Weatherfords...I taught them down there. But I started

teaching here in '24...1924, and have had a good sized band. I first

started here in Monroe Countyo..came up here first...started in Monroe

County, and then I +urned...organized finally...organized the bbnd in

...in Excel, and taught them. And organized the band in Uriah, and I

taught the band down there. And I organized one in Frisco City, and

taught down there. Taught all those....

I: Now this..-was-this all strictly high school, or did you...?

S: All...well, no, I taught from the...from about the third grade on up.

I had some of them in the band in third and fourth grade...all through

the twelfth. It wasstrictly high... And then...I had a little...sometimes

I had a little time to spare...maybe one or two periods during the day,

and I taught shop...cabinet work...I was a cab...I was interested in

cabinet making and inlaying work, and such as that, so I taught uh shop

at a couple of schools too.

I: But band and shop were the only two subjects you taught?

S: Band...yeah...that's all I taught...just band....

I: Uh, you yourself graduated from high school in what town or city?

19











SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: Well uh...uh...to be frank with you I never did graduate from high school.

I: You didn't?

S: I didn't uh...didn't get a chance to go through high school. And I...

eighth grade was a far as I went through, but I've done all the rest of

this studying myself.

I: Uh huh.

S: And I went to conservatory, and all through that.

I: So when you started teaching, you didn't have to go to college and all to

teach?

S: No, I didn't have to, because I stood examination in Montgomery for my

teaching experience, and got a teaching degree from them. Got a

certificate from the state, as a special professional teacher see. And that's

the way I had a certified teacher's certificate.

I: So you...only got through the eighth grade yourself, and that was....

S: Yeah, but I ...but I went to...I studied all the time. And I studied more

after...than I did going to school. And then when I went to conservatory

I had two years of college work down there.

I: Oh, you did?

S: Uh huh.

I: So you took uh...at the conservatory you took uh...

S: Yes...uh huh.

I: English and composition and those kind of things? Uh huh. Uh, your eighth

grade...you finished that in Mobile, or...?


20











SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: No, I finished that in..:.in uh...Mississippi.

I: In Mississippi?

S: And then I started to work...when I was about...started...I've worked all

my life, and doing carpenter work, or such as that, until I started...or

learned...when I learned music, and...and started music good...as a

profession...I quit ev.-..all my hard work. Yes, so I've been a professor

of music. I'll show you some pictures afterwhile.
je
I: O.k. Uh, did...you say you were in the band in the /my?

S: Yeah.

I: Were you in the band from the very beginning after your basic training?

S: Yeah, uh huh. I was in uh at the National "Qrd Army Band in Monroeville

...I mean Mobile. And then when they got the /my ...the National GJrd to

go down on the border...I went down there on the border with them see.

And then when they came back, and war was declared uh, on Germany, why they

carried us to Montgomery and federalized us. Inducted us into the Federal

...the government. So 4 'ooS 0io^ the National

q%rd ended or was Federalized, and then we went from there on in

overseas I think.

I: And it was after all your military experience that you went to conservatory

in New Orleans?

S: Yeah, uh huh.

I: I see.

S: See, and I went to the bandmaster's school, and studied in the bandmaster's

school in Chaumont, France.

I: So your carpentry work and all that was before you went into the Xrmy then?

21











SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: Yeah.

I: Uh huh. As a very young man?

S: Um huh.

I: Well, turning to another subject, could you talk a little bit about

what kind of a man Calvin McGhee was, and what kind of friends you were?

S: Well, I know him to be uh...uh...honest, and....
















END SIDE ONE

























22












CRK 41A

SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES

SIDE: TWO










I: If you could just pickup where you were talking before about Calvin

McGhee?

S: Well uh, he uh...I remember him saying one time that he almost let his

crops, almost ruined...out in the field...because he was working at this

uh...uh Indian Affairs stuff...and for his people...to work for them.

And uh...uh, I don't know if he ever gathered it...he never did say...

whether he gathered all his crop or not at that year. He...and he almost
mjaA+ 6rv-e-,


I: Did he ever seek your advice on any matters?

S: Well uh...some, yeah. He...the way to...to go about uh...fo the council

to work.

I: Um huh. I would imagine that uh, you were one of the most educated people

on the council?

S: Well, I imagine...I imagine so.

I: Uh, did you ever feel there was any uh, difference of opinion between

yourself and other council members strictly on that basis?

S: No, uh...well, some times I...there was...there was some little difference

of opinions there, but uh, it was always worked out, there wasn't anything

serious at all. It was probably some little minor matter.

I: Uh huh.


23











SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER- PAREDES



S: But uh the only thing that differed with the council was...it...the...

the way that we was going about to uh, handle it with the lawyer.

I: Um huh.

S: The...I couldn't agree with.

I: What was that all about?

S: Uh, it was about uh the money matters.

I: Um huh.

S: It uh...I wanted them to put law...the lawyer see...uh I don't know we

should talk about it know but we advanced money to the lawyers, to do all

this work for us...with the stipulation that they was to pay it back when

the...when the case was settled...all that we let them have was coming

back...was given back. And I wanted to make the lawyers sign contracts

to that effect. In fact we had to sign a contract to them to pay them.

Then they should of did it, but they wouldn't do it. See, they wouldn't

make them do it. Kept on them...and uh...I used to con...be continually

at them to make them do something to get some assurance that we was going

to get our money because we was letting-oet-a lots of money. And it wound

up that when we got the money...we didn't get nothing back.

I: Now where didyou get the money to give the lawyers in the first place?

S: We didn't...we got the money from this money that we had..,when we first

organized,,we charged a dollar for registration fee and we used that

money to pay the lawyer. /A44 4 %ea_/

1: That's for their...for their expenses?

S: Huh?

I- For their...for the lawyer's expenses?

24











SUBJECT: TOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: Right...lawyer's expenses going to Birmingham and to Washington and

back...that and buy books and with the books that we bought...all them

books ...we paid hundreds of dollars for books. See, for him to study

on lawyers. And those books was to be sent back, when the case was
a a
settled, to Porch...to the school in Porch. And they never did get the
A A
books back

I: Now what kind of books were those?

S: On the Indians books...all Indian books...about Indian Affairs and

different...the Indian...all Indian books.

I: So the Indians paid the money in registration fees.

S: Yeah.

I: And that was then given to the lawyers and when the case was won

they were suooosed to return that money?

S: Yes uh huh...they were supposed to return it and they didn't return it.

I: Did you keep any kind of accounting of that money?

S: Well we had the...we had the accounting of how much it was and all see,

but we never did get it back.

I: Uh why didn't you...press the lawyers on that then?

S: They dressed it but they wouldn't do it...but they wouldn't...what I wanted

to do was to get a contract, a binding contract. see...they would give this

money back. But they all said...well now, the lawyers honest...the lawyers

honest...he'll give it back to us. Not all of them but some of them...

there was one or two. And that's one thing that me and Calvin couldn't

agree on good. Of course he..when we was personally talking he would agree

with me. But the...we couldn't...agree...we couldn't make him do it.

I: Uh. Calvin didn't want to have a contract with him or....?

25











SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: Well he wanted to but he wouldn't...he wouldn't insist on it.

I: He wouldn't insist on it...I see. Uh, how many lawyers have been

involved in this over the years?

S! Well the prime lawyer I know was Dr. Peoper from Florida. And then there

was Leroy...I mean Lenore Thompson and uh, Hugh Rosell and Mr. Home

from Atmore. And there was some others, but I don't know...I don't know

which one it is. Now they got somebody else in Atmore now but I don't

know who he is.

I: Now did all these lawyers get fees from this claim?

S: Uh the lawyers I understand was to get...I think ten per cent of what

we got. And uh...that was all to go...now Mr, Thompson was the head lawyer

and he was to divide it with these others. And I understand they had to go

to court to get their money.

I: Among themselves?

S: Yeah among themselves yeah. See that was all paid in, and Mr...as I

understand it Mr. Thompson got paid back through the insur...I mean for

his expense money. And that was supposed to come to us so we didn't get

that.

I: Now speaking of money I've heard a lot of the Indians talking about uh

chicken suooers and things that were put on to raise money...now what

was that money for?

S: Well that was for the...for the...for the expense of going to these lawyers

and some of it was paying...expense to pay Calvin's way up to Washington to

do some research work...such as that.

I: Uh do you remember the first time Calvin and some of the others started

putting on feathers and costumes and doing that kind of thing?

26











SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: I don't remember what year it was, but I remember when they started to

do itf
c
I: What was the oqswion for them to do this?

S: Well on account of uh I guess recognition. That's the only o asiion but

it was uh at some meetings we had back uh...big uh...uh for the whole

band to come out not just the council meeting but for the whole band.

Any of the Creek Indians at these uh big rallies we have they'd uh wear

them there.

I: Did you yourself ever wear an Indian costume to any of these doings?

S: What?

I: Did you yourself ever wear an Indian costume to any of these...?

S: Nope, I never did.

I: You didn't? Did Calvin try to get you to?

S: Ao, he never did say a thing about it. I never did wear it.

I: Uh well that's....

S: I been thinking about getting me one of those big head things to go up some

time when...with the Indian affairs with these...uh bottles. Southern



I: Let's...let's talk about those bottles a little bit. How you got started

doing that and all of that.

S: Uh I got started a making those sand bottles, by seeing the sand different

colored sands on the side of the road...highway. And I was uh...hunting

rocks...going over the country...riding in Alabama hunting rocks to make

ijal-s out of...and I said well I might can get some of this sand and

do something with it. So I got me some sand, some bottles and some wire

27










,SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: ...and started to work. I'd never seen anything like it or anything

nothing no books or anything to go by. So I just got me some...my stuff

and started to working I've been at it about seven...seven and a half

years.

I: You've only been doing it about seven and a half years?

S: And I've come up with some pretty good stuff now...I've got about. I guess

about twelve, fifteen different designs that I make...them bottles.

I: And you had never seen anything even ..? \ _. ,

S: Never seen anything like it at all. I...all that I got here I've...I just

created myself.

I: Uh huh.

S: Every design I make I created myself.

I: Well I notice here lately you've been going to a lot of shopping centers

and arts and craft shows and these kind of...

S: Uh huh.

I: How do you find out about those how do they keep ?

S: Uh oeoole recommend me...one peoDle recommended me or one man was with

these art shows recommended that the man that uh...uh gathered...gets these

people to go to these shows...told him about me and asked him to get me

invited. So he sent me an invitation...this Mr. Brock...Henry Brock Jr,

from McMinnville Tennesee...he...he's in charge of the Collin's River

Wood Craft Shows see-. And uh he invited me to one of the shows with him

and after I went to one show he said "Well you've got a place all the

time." So he's been inviting me to about a dozen shows every year. Ever

since then.

28











SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



I: Now uh...could you talk a little bit about how other people are starting

to imitate your...your...?

S: Well I...T taught about...I guess...a dozen people myself, and they inturn

have taught others.

I: Uh huh.

S: So I guess it's probably fifty people in all uh doing this right. But the...

I don't know I'm not trying to brag or say anything about others. they do

good work but most of them...they don't pack their bottles tight enough.

And if they are handled much and tilted very much then they'll all mix up.

And they don't have the designs that I have. They have more of a just plain

design.
0
I: Could you name some of the people you've taught this' craft to?

S: Well I taught Mrs. Lyndon...uh, Linton. I taught uh...

I: And the town they live in.

S: All right. And I taught uh...uh Mr. uh...Col. Nolan and his wife and I

taught uh...Zedee Lander. Grove Hill...and I taught uh, oh uh...I don't

know I've...I just can't think of the names of all of-them I have taught.

I: This folI where does he live?

S: He lives in Pass Christian Mississippi.

I: Uh huh. And he in turn, or his wife in turn taught uh...Mrs. Blaylock, over

at uh...Little.Rock Mississippi. And she taught her husband and they go

to these art shows that I go to.

I: Uh besides Mrs. Linton uh, from Pensacola, have there been any of the Ind-

ians that have shown any interest in learning how to do this?

S: Well no. there's none of them have asked me about it..uh that wanted to

learn but I'd be glad to teach them any time they want to. I tell them

29












SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: 4all the time, that if they wanted to...because I'm getting old, and

I can't carry on all the time, and I'd be glad for some of them to come

over. Now then, there was a fellow...I go to Franklin, North Carolina a

good bit...look for rocks, and then I carry bottles up there, and I make

bottles while I'm there, and I sell a whole lot of them. And there was a

fellow that operates the arts and crafts show...I got letters around here

somewhere, in uh, Maitland, Florida. And uh...

I: Maitland, Florida?

S: Yeah. And uh, he wrote to me that he saw my bottles up there, and wanted

me to come down and interview him...I mean to let him see me make them,

and just...well, show him how it's made. And uh, but I never have...could

...would...when I could go he couldn't be there, and when he could be

there I couldn't. And I did...but he told me...wrote and told me in a letter,

that it was a lost...he saw my bottles in Franklin, and he said it was a

lost Indian art. Now if it was, I don't know, n 4f nybod. ..that's the

first I heard of it about being a lost Indian art. But he said that's what

it was, and I don't know.

I: Have you ever seen uh...the sand paintings that the Navajoes do?

S: Never have seen them.

I: You never have se...those are just on the ground...

S: And...uh huh...since I've been into this, I've had people to tell me at

times, that uh...this...about this lost art out there.

I: To give me some idea of just how...how important a business this is,

could you just estimate the number of different shows and things you've

been to in the past year?

30











SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: Well, you mean where?

I: Or how many different places you've gone...

S: Well, I've been...I've been to Macon, Georgia, and I've been to, uh, uh,

Franklin, North Carolina, and Gatlinburg, Tennessee, McMinnville, Tennessee,

and Chattanooga, Tennessee, and uh, uh, Birmingham, and Bessemer, and

Birmingham in the Eastwood Mall...that's on the other side of Birmingham,

and Muscle Shoals, Alabama...and uh, Huntsville, Alabama, and Montgomery,

Alabama, and uh, Jackson, Mississippi...Mobile,-Alabama, and uh, Atmore...

I mean Bay Minette, Alabama, and Thomasville, Alabama...Jackson, Miss...

Alabama...and I don't know....

I: Baton Rouge, I saw you.

S: Yeah, Baton Rouge...Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

I: Uh, I don't mean to pry by this question, but it sounds to me like it's

an important enough thing for possible Indian development. But how much

would you estimate, in a good year, you make, just from the bottles alone?

S: Well uh, I don't know...I couldn't hardly estimate how much. I made pretty

good, but still, I give away just about as much as I...as I sell.

I: Uh huh.

S: And I don't know, it's been...through the years, I guess I've made several

thousand dollars...through the years. I....

I: Several t usand?
A
S: Yeah, several thousand...

I: Just from the bottles?

S: Uh huh.

I: Uh....

31











SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: Now you take when I go to a show...I don't know, I...somebody probably

criticize me about it...but I've got to have it, for me a show is...every

show I go to, if anyone comes by in a rolling chair, I give them a

bottle of sand.

I: You do?

S: When I was in Huntsville...yeah, Huntsville, give out...well it was last

month...I give away fifty dollars worth of bottles. I've never seen so

many people in rolling chairs in my life as there was there, but I didn't

mind it a bit in the world. See, I'm happy to do it.

I: How...how did you get started with that practice of giving one away to

people in the rolling chairs?

S: Well, I...I just feel sorry for anybody is in a rolling chair, and me

being as healthful as I am, and able to get around, and at my age...and

anybody that's crippled...I feel like...the least I can do is to give a

little bottle of sand to help them that much. And I wouldn't let them buy

one. Some of them would come around to want to buy one, and I wouldn't,

I wouldn't let them buy any.

I: Now your bottles are all made with natural sands?

S: Natural colored sand...those change. Now some of the people I noticed,

they'll ta...they take the sand, and they grade it, and get it real fine.

Use all nothing but fine sand. If it's course they just keep on sifting

until they get nothing but fine sand out of it. But I don't. I use it

just as it comes out of the ground. All I do...is I spread it out on

plastic on my porch out here, and get it good and thoroughly dry, and then

sift the trash out of it. If it's course sand I leave it course, if it's

fine sand I use it fine. 32










SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



I: Now there are some colors, like green, that you must have to really look

around to find those.

S: No, I found out where that was by Mr. Lavender, over in...uh...Grove Hill

...told us where it was. It...found some...Blafon Springs, Alabama, or

I was two and a half miles west of Blaon Springs on road...Culfmburg

Road...and I guess there's a couple thousand acres of it out there.

There where the point of a ridge is cut off, you know, where the road went

through...it's just green all there.

I: I'll be.

S: You just go there and shovel up all you want.

I: So one of the things you have had to do is to find the places where you

can get these different colors.

S: Yeah. Well it's all along the side of the road. I don't get off of the

highway. Whenever I go...want the sand, a certain color...I go and park

my car right on the shoulder of the road there, and reach down and pick

it up.

I: Now black...is that a sand, or is that .. ?

S: Yes, it's sand too...I get it in Baldwin County. Down about three quarters

of a mile, out of berta, towards Mitkin. And I get a dark red on one

side of the road, and the black on the other side of the road...right there.

And the black is right on the surface of the ground. See, I just shovel

it up...looks like mud when I get it, but it turns out black sand. Yeah.

And then uh...the red is a...a cut ...where the road down...in a little

ditch there. Well, that's in the side of the road there...that...I get

the red.

I: What's the hardest color to find?

33










SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: Well, none of it now is...it's all...to find now if we want the color

...to get...but the color I can't find is blue.

I: Blue?

S: I've never found any blue sand...and can't get...now some people use

dye, and they dye blue.

I: Uh huh.

S: If you ever see SRy bottle with blue sand in it, you know it dyed.

Well, you can't dye...see sand...silica is a rock...it's just little fine

rocks is what it is, and dye will not penetrate it. And if you put dye

on it, then the sun or light gets to it too much, then it's going to

fade out on you. See, and therefore, you've got a bottle of sand...it's

just all one color just about.

I: Now the colors you have besides the ones we mentioned are...are what?

S: Sir?

I: The colors you have besides the ones we already mentioned are what

colors?

S: Well, I got black, and red, and I got about two or three colors of pink,

and I got a purple, and uh...a beige...I don't know, you got to name the

colors yourself, but I got about twenty-one different colors....

I: Twenty-one....

S: You put them right beside...now that...I got...see a dark pink, and a

medium black, and a light pink. There's three different colors T call

there...I imagine that's three different colors.

I: Have you made any special effort to develop any Indian designs in your

bottles?


34










SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: Well, I'm figuring on that...to...right now. I'm in the process of

trying to make a Indian face with feathers on it.

I: Uh huh...and your buffalo is sort of an Indian design?

S: Yeah, uh huh...buffalo.

I: When you go to these shows, do you uh...do you make much out of the fact

that your Indian yourself?

S: I tell them all I'm Indian. If they say...anybody says...but see, they

come up and ask me..."You must be Indian ain't you?" And I said, "yes,
a'-
I'm Indian." But they...they realize /hat I must be Indian...and I got

one design I call a Indian Blanket.

I: Uh huh. Anything else that you think should be said about your bottle

art...for future generations?

S: Well, not as I know of. The only thing is that I just hope it's carried

on, and everybody...the people I've taught...and they'll teach some

younger people so they can carry it on, because I think it's a fine art.

And it's a good vocation for anybody that wants to make a living out of

it.

I: And besides just the bottles, you do make lamps too...uh huh?

S: Yeah...I make lamps.

I: Any other new things that.you'veldeveloped in the sand bottle art?

S: Well uh...not anything new that I know of...I...I've...this year I've

started to make peacock feathers...look like a peacock.

I: Yes, you've showed me some of those.

S: Did you see that?

I: Um huh...um huh.


35











SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: Uh, see, you make those peacock feathers...I started that this year, and

last year I think it was, or it was the year...a little over a year ago,

I started to making a dear with antlers in it. And then I make faces too.

I make a face. Did you ever see any of those faces I make?

I: No I haven't seen one of them.

S: Let me bring one in here...I'll be right back.

I: Let me ask you about that. Do you have a lot of people that save bottles

for you?

S: Yeah. Uh, I don't know who it is that saves them a heap of times, because

sometimes I go out at the...out to the back porch there, and there'll be

maybe...a dozen bottles in a sack out there. I don't know who brings them

or anything. I don't know whether they want me to know they drink or not.

They just leave them out there.

I: And you do use mainly whisky bottles? Is that right?

S: Yeah. It's whisky bottles. Now I'm having a hard time getting those bottles

now, because uh, I've used up just about all I can get, and I've got

plenty of quarts, but quarts is to heavy, and people don't want to buy

them.

I: Um huh.

S: And I don't want anything but the four fifths bottles, and they've got

to be clear bottles, or real light green.

I: Uh huh.

S: I can't use the real dark green bottles.

I: But you also use these salad dressing bottles?

S: I just use these cause...for models and such as that. I don't use these


36










SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: _.flat bottles. I can't use a flat bottle, and a square bottle...I got

to get it into square bottles, and you can't pack them tight. See, it

being square is a surface...flat surface...and when you pack it it will

give, and break.

I: I see.

S: When it's round, it won't break so easy...feel it?

I: Uh huh...the round

S: And I can pack them tight see, and they're a whole lot stronger, and I can

pack them just as tight as I want see?

I: Uh, did you ever see...I've never seen them myself, but I've heard that

some times in the southwest, just as a souvenir, you can by a little

bottle that just has different colors of layers...there's no design in

there.

S: Well I've...I've heard that there's some bottles like that in the...in

e...out in the southwest.

I: No design...I mean just different....

S: No design...just get...just got one layer after another to show the

different colors of sand.

I: Um huh. But you hadn't even seen anything like that when you started?

How did it come to you...you just...?

S: Well I don't know. It just...just...my life...uh...uh...always been kind

of a creative man anyway...what I mean, making different things. I make

things I've never seen anything else before. I got some uh...work here,

of course I've heard talk of inlay work, but I've got some inlay work

in some lamps I made... I never have seen any lamps that I've made. I'll

show you them after while. You want to go look at them now?

37











SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



I: Uh, let me turn to one more subject, and then we'll quit. And before we

started, you said you had thought about substitute teaching for awhile,

but you just didn't like the way the children behaved today. Would you

just make a general statement on klcl(re.-., ?

S: Well, in the band room...well, I went in the band room to teach

having a rehearsal...with the band, and the
7>
children would get up and walk around have

maybe a few measures rest, because the-g gl had been sitting down there

counting those rests and all. They'd get up, walk around talk, go outside,

they'd come back...and uh...then uh...they'd be talking to one another

when they should be quiet and listening...and I just won't put up with it.

And I just said, "Well, I'll...I'm just going to quit teaching."

I: For the older children in a place like Monroeville is there...been any

trouble with drugs, or anything like that lately...that you know of?

S: With what?

I: Drugs.

S: Well, I understand they had...I have not personally...but uh...just

hear say, you know. I believe it was in the paper one time that they

...said something about drugs.

I: But you think the children today just aren't as well behaved as they

were a few years ago?

S: Well, they're not...I don't think they are. I tell you one thing that

I insisted on when I was teaching, and the children fairly soon found it

out...that was time value. In other words, what I'm telling about is the

...is that clock. If I said that we was going to leave here...we went and

38











SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIMAS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: ,,,made a whole lot of trips see. If we was going to leave at five

o'clock in the morning...at five o'clock that bus was on the way. See,

I left at five...if I didn't have but half of the band. And I went off

and left people on account of that, so they knew I mefat business. If

I...if you had...uh...be out to the ball park to play for a ball game,

and...a certain time they'd be out there...they better be out there, or

they'll stop that. In other words, they got a bad report on their report.

And sometimes I'd fail them for it...just-for being late one time.

I: Being interested in time like that...are you ever...had any thoughts

about the way the Indian people regard time? Is there any....?

S: Well no, I never have. But I just had __they didn't...it

didn't...time didn't matter so much with them to a fact. It...they didn't

have nothing to do at a certain time...

I: Uh huh...uh huh.

S: See...but to go where they pleased when they wanted, and they had their

own transportation see...and going...they never had a place to be at a

certain time.

I: Has there ever been much...in the past...much of a problem of a...of a

meeting being scheduled a particular time, and people wouldn't show up?

S: Well...you mean...what meetings is this?

I: Indian meetings.

S: Indian? Well yes, sometimes uh, that's one thing around here at Porch

that I'd like to see them do...be to have...being uh...set a time, say

at-hwo o'clock...and be three before we start...and then be five or six

o'clock before we leave.

39










SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



I: Um huh.

S: If we set a time at two o'clock...I thought they ought to be at two, and

if they set a time at four to quit...quit at four.

I: But sometimes they don't start at two?

S: Uh, they're late.

I: They're late.

S: See I...I...I would like to see them uh schedule it. I never have said

anything...well, I did say something about...to a couple of them, about

how I would like to see them start on time, and quit on time.

I: Um huh.

S: And then everybody be there, and if you're not there, start anyway. I

mean, I belong to organizations here...Civitan Club...they uh...they

have meetings at seven thirty, and at eight thirty it's over. And start

right on time, and stop on time. After if you want to stay and talk it'll

be all right for you to do it. But the meeting is over at that...that time.

I: Uh...let me ask you one question I forgot to ask you before. In your

whole life time, have you ever experienced any kind of...uh...discrimination

because you were Indian at all...you can think of?

S: Well uh, I don't know if I have or not. No, I don't...I don't remember

uh...uh...as I know of...I might...if I was why I was young, and didn't

know it, and didn't realize it.

I: But that story about your grandmother not being buried in the white...you

learned that as a child?

S: Uh huh...yeah. My daddy told me that. He said that.

I: What did he say when he told you that? I...can you...can you remember

how...how he expressed it when he told you about it?

40










SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: Well, he...he just said to me that...that...that they wouldn't let...

No! It wasn't my daddy, it was my uncle...my daddy's brother see. He

said that...it was at Millview one time. I was at Millview at his house.

And he said, that his grandmother...I mean his mother was buried, he

just...he just told me...it was about a hundred yards where...from where

he was living at.

I: Um huh.

S: And the white...uh, cemetery was on the right hand side of the road, and

the colored on the left hand side...and they buried her on the coloreds.

I: They did?

S: And now the...I understand that...I went there to try to find, you know,

if there's any markers or anything. And the water has washed all them...

done away with all them cemeteries. You know, it's right on the...uh,
er o
right on Ppdidf Beach. You know, the high waters and all...washing all

...has washed them all away.

I: Had you just asked him about where your grandmother was buried, or what

brought the subject up?

S: Well, yes. Uh, I don't...I think it was...I think I asked something about

it...uh...a conversation come up about it...and he said it was there.

I: And that was your father's brother that told you that?

S: Uh huh.

I: Let me ask you one last question. What do you think is in the future for

the Creek Indian people of eastern Mississippi?

S: Well, I think...I think that the...that the government is becoming...into

concern to uh, help them out, and to improve them, and there will be uh,


41










SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



S: r=,.regular reservations in this neighborhood for the Indians and the

and the culture of the Indians, and be uh...uh...be recognized as an

Indian territory around here. I think there's a good future for them.

I: Do you think that's a good idea r ,rA

S: Yeah, I think that's a good idea. And if we get that Indian culture

started, that's going to be a great thing for this...this community down

here. Epnot>e V r s

I: How many children do you have?

S: I have three children.

I: Uh huh.

S: Uh, my oldest daughter is uh...worked for Dr. David Fridge, a dentist in

uh...Mobile. And uh, she's uh, going to retire in two more...no, another

year. After August she'll be...sixty-one in August.

I: Um huh.

S: She's going to retire when she's sixty-two years old. And my other

daughter, Fanny, runs a beauty shop out there in her back yard.

I: Um huh.

S: And uh, then my baby dtyghter, is W.C....Mrs. W.C. Taylor. He's a

contractor...W.C. Taylor Contracting...building houses here in town. They

lives in the other side of town. And Fanny Reed, my middle daughter, lives

about three blocks from me on this side.

I: Are they interested in Indian affairs at all?

S: Yeah.

I: Um huh. What about your grandchildren...do you have any?

S: Yeah, they are too.


42











SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



I: They're interested in that? Do they take part, and go...like go to the

Thanksgiving IowCZow and things?

S: Yeah they go down...sometimes they do...yeah.

I: Uh huh...uh huh.

S: But usually, or generally though, we'll have a gathering of the...all the

children...see we're pretty close over here. And we...generally though,

we'll have a big dinner on Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and them holidays

like that. But I generally go down there myself, and then come back. And

sometimes I stay until after dinner and then go down.

I: Um huh. And just...just for the record...you said you yourself had problems

in getting your Indian Claim in?

S: Yeah, uh huh.

I: Because of...

S: Now I don't know whether I'll gver get it...now they might, and they might

not...see, but if they don't get it...why...I...I'm still going to do

everything I can to help them out.

I: You have an appeal in for yourself?

S: Yeah, I have an appeal, and I got the letter up there somewhere, wh1re the
A
man says he receives it, and that uh...that he was taking it to court.

I: Well, clearly in your case, you haven't been in it for the money.

S: No, I'm not in it for the money. Cause I knew I'd never...I'd never get

out of it, and I said all along, that I'd never get G..." T \ -'

;_ I'd never get out what I put in it.

I: Uh huh. And just your own interest in Indians...?

S: Just my own interest.

43











SUBJECT: JOHN WILLIAMS

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



I: How do you think you came to have that interest in the Indians?

S: Well I don't know it's just...I just knew that they were having a hard

time and I wanted to do everything I can to help them. Not that I got

a whole lots, but I...I've got a living anyways, and I...at least...some

of them don't have that, or they used to didn't have. They're better off

now than they was. I've always tried to help them.

I: Well, that's good. Well, anything else that I should ask you that I

haven't?

S: I...not that I know of.

I: O.k.












END






















44





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