Title: Interview with Rentha McGhee (August 3, 1972)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007519/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Rentha McGhee (August 3, 1972)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: August 3, 1972
Spatial Coverage: Creek County (Fla.) -- History.
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00007519
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 44

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Full Text


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CRK 44A Wells,
Interview w/ typist
Rentha McGhee


P: The date is August 31, 1973. Interviewing Mrs. Willis McGhee,

Rentha is her name. And she is a non-Indian who has lived

in the Indian community for many years. Mrs. McGhee, if you could

just start talking about when you were born, where you were

born, what your early life was like, and how you happened to

meet your husband and come here.

M: Well, I was born in 1921 .

My mother and father so far as I know both were white. I mean

they didn't have any Indian whatsoever. And I & 2 zW t O l t, t

sister. And you know 4U ( "A a cuLo __-_.
IMQC /CcrC. --
I have some half-sisters and brothers. And then in 1937I1

guess we met our first Indian people. They came down and,

i-, my sister dii I was living there with her then in a

place called SPInerie And that's when we first met our

Indian people. And I guess they was there/ year or so before

I ever got any connection with a'L you know.

P: What wre they doing there?

M: Papekoo Willis' father run a paper wood job. -tt was

1937 then. Willis remarried in 1940. Theyiere there about

three years before we were married.

P: Were they camping out down there?

M: That's right.



P: What kind of equipment did they have to camp with?

M: They, my brother-in-law had a house. They had lived, they had camped
over though c-r-y-v f_ a place they / "Black Water" back

over in the woods long time before I met them, you know. And then

my brother-in-law had a house just across the road from his home

so he rented/it out to us, and that's where I first knew Eugene and
Roberta. And then Jack ilvlgot he's dead, I/know if

you ever met Lil or not, no, she died. Well, she was just a

young girl and Roberta, she lived with Roberta. And through
them we got connected, you know. Just/her as a child. She'd

come over there with them other children, that's the way we

got connected. So it was '40, 1940 and then, well, we were

just, we were poor people, too. I mean we i don't have anything
bJ ufc jC- p crr ,--ao.
either. We were white people, I mean we didn't have nothing'

like lots of people had.

P: Were you all farmers,r re ,

M: My daddy farmed years ago in '37, '38, '39, '40, and on up

to about '45 when he was just an invalid, you know. So we

married, me and Willis married in '40 and then we come ...we

moved from Seminole. We stayed down there about six, eight

months. And then we moved back up here.The following year

he farmed for his daddy ()) tl ;i We didn't have no

tractors or nothing' 4"(.(" So we lived in a little

house down by this creek.

P: Excuse me just a minute. But when they were down in Seminole



am I right, you did some cooking for Willis' father?

M: Yea, yeah. Well, I washed. I even washed clothes for his boys.


P: And you all were paid for that J LJ\ \\ \ C'h- ?

M: Yeah, um, huh. And well, I didn't cook too much them, you

S1'iow, just ... I really didn't have no job but, you know ...

But then in '42 Willis come back to farm that year, and then
^.d, i 4 -
in '42 he went off to the service.k t was just, I mean, just
something, it was just an experience for me to come here afjf

see the way they lived; it was so much different from what

we lived. See, down there we didn't .even have fireplaces;

just a few homes had fireplaces back then. And then all

the people up here, they, they had fireplaces, but they wasn't

fireplaces like we had. Lots of them. Willis' momma and daddy

lived right over here. They had what you call!"a stickin'

bird",4 I guess you'd call it. Well, I never' had .saw

nothing like that. And but they had woodstoves like we did.
We had woodstoves back then. And it was just, / was just

whole lots of difference than what I was really -.,. Willis'

momma, she4d go out in the crib and and they had albox with

a;thing that you turned. You put your corn down in it and

it'd shell the corn out, you know. They would take it to the

mill here and have it ground Q b ti ^ .Well, we never,

we didn't do nothing' like that, you know. We didn't know what
it was. Andit was know
it was. And it was, I nh't know, ...



P: WhenAyou were growing up down there in Baldwin county, was

your family place out in the country quite a ways?

M: Um, huh, yes. Seven miles ...

P: You weren't living in a town or anything?

M: No.

P: So you were just about as far from a town down there as these

people here were from\...?

M: That's exactly right. But wer-when I was growing up, where I

grew up from a child up to I'll say fifteen, sixteen years old,

it was a place called and Tib a Cf / ^

school there Rhat's where we went to school.But it wasn't

no further from here up to where you areh / C V4

where I lived then 'cause we walked. We didn't have no school

bus to pick you up then. That's mostly where I got my education

'cept when I went to high school.- I had to catch a bus and ride

to ___ __ __ __ __J_ _

P: Speaking of education, one thing I've heard a lot of the older

people here talk about was that years ago before World War I

the parents themselves had to pay the teacher out of their

own pocket.

M: I heard that.

P_ I was wondering if you ever heard anythingfrom the older people

among the white people you grew up with about having to do

that years ago there, too?



M: No. I really didn't hear about the paying, but I heard my

daddy. My daddy had a good education, but he said that they

didn't have but just a couple of books, one he called a

blue-backed speller. And he could figure and ,T7 /yr-and spell

-ocJ better than I could after I got up to the ninth grade.

Just you know, just like that. And I did hear of him speak of

the teacher staying iAhomes, you know.

P: Tell me again about how fascinated you were with the way the

people ironed here,--Mr Mr'Thee.

M: Well, I just never had saw nothing' like it. See, they, they

took the irons down by the ...they'd build a good, big

oak fire ind the fireplace. And then they'd set their irons

up, you know, let them get hot. Then they'd iron -- I "_

Down home I 've seen my momma sit her irons on the stove and
Ot4} e'-11 4 A.L
get them hot, but never on the/fireplace like that.

P: What else was different when you came here that you noticed be-

sides the chimneys and the ironing?

M: Well, for the schools now, you're speaking about just

things ...

T: Things in general. Household thing, anything ...

M: I kept .itwhen I first moved up in here I kept one of my

sister's little boys. And they went to school up here. They

had a school in this parish house eaa now the school

S- j d to the clubhouse, I mean the church 4he teachers

were just the local women around here. What I mean, anQd


-ad- Lucille Moore up here, from what I understood then, when I come

here, that they had been here just for years and years and years.

/i-( 1hat6-that's all the teachers the children had. And then

after /ly JAAAf Cf t- --- they got t -o So'- .? cr: C,-c0c. (
they had to walk. If we lived across the ri,,,C over there,

they even had a house across there, and they would have to

walk all the way up to the school, where the school is now,

to catch a bus. And then that was when they got up to high

school. But after Mrs. P]f came here, Grace U/l 2Ly ,

her and a lady by the name of Mrs. //,}!//Ht f, ''///- ,a

I believe) they were the first teachers that really were from

here. ... It4was just altogether different. I mean, lots of
things were, you know. \ But you've mentioned before something

about how people got their water here compared to what you

were used to. That's right. We always had pumps, you

know and things. And they had these old wells.

P: You came in '30, in '40 you came -up, you said, )..__ r i' i ?

M: Well, we moved here, but I had come, you know, since '37 off and on.

P: At that time did all the people have dug wells? Or did you know

any of them that had pumps at that time?

M: I just really can't remember, Tohv. I know there was a dug

well over here at this house, and one out there at Willis'.
5" b.cr fir .C.
\OT) 'there were some had pumps -ou-the-e, hand pumps likeI believe

up to -ert-ies, up there, you know, where the EpRibopal church

is now. I believe they had pumps then, I'm not sure. But they Wu'4


electrical/ hand pumps. And then when I first come here

there wasn't any electricity at all. It was ...

P: Were there any board wells at that time? Do you know what I mean

by a board well? The kind that has that very long bucket-

M: Well, that's the kind they was.

P: oh, that was the kind ...

M: Yeah, they were ...

P: They weren't the big, open, ...
M: Oh, no, uh, huh. I don't know as there's any of those wells here.

Do you mean the ...

P: The big kind you dig out with a shovel.

M: No, I don't believe they are. The first pump I believe that I can

remember Willis' daddy and mommy putting in, you know,athey called

it a deep well pump. They had some kind of a, something

they had to put way down in the ground, you know 5t's

hard to get water up on that hill over there. Ao, they had

the well overi-ire with the bucket, that you let down with a


P: That was just ... the well was only a small thing, just about a foot

M: Square.

P: ... square and about a foot.

M: Yes, uh, huh.

P: But they didn't have any of the old covered style, you know?

M: No, no. I didn't see any of those. I know where one well, I


keep talking about, but it's not here. It's /.. you go from
here, you/go from here down through Florida here and .cut through

Musicogee going over to Seminole where my sister lives. Well,

over at Muscogee, they call it a s 4i-,r well. It's
a great big oneAbuilt out of--made out of cement--and it's
bubbling. It's/like a spring, you Kw. That's the only one that

I ever saw.

P: That deep well they had, was that where the Rolins live now, or

was that when they had their place up here on ...

M: No, I'm talking about the deep well was for Willis's daddyand mommy.

Right here on the hill. But now it was a pump that had one of

those long handles, you know. It wasn't a short handled pump.

P: It wasn't a pitcher pump, it was a ...?

M: No, no, uh, huh. Deep well pump.

P: Deep well pump. One other thing .you mentioned the other day

when we were talking was how surprised you were at how your

husband's mother fed people. Tell about that a little bit.

M: Well, she just never did know who she was going to feed. When

she started cooking she didn't know who was gaming sit down and
,5_ T k r n" \., /iC--'
anybody that come in her house cr0, \ was welcome. he
7t---4 f^l /1She

just made them welcome. She would ul,. her, Mal, he's dead, her

oldest son, was Martha's first husband out here, cL i. b S

daddy. Well, they lived in Mobile and they would come up

here, they run a boarding house back in the war and all, c"^ -

and his wife was, she cookrcand clean you know, had boarders.


But they would come up here, and if it was eleven o'clock when

they got here and they wanted a chicken, she'd get out in that

backyard and she'd grab up one of those chickens and wring that

chicken's neck anfis wife would have that chicken cleaned and

ready to cook and they'd have it on in no time. Now that's

actually the truth. I said, I never experienced, I mean, I

never seen nobody that I guess could just cook it quick or fix

something like that But she would churn, they milked cows, you

know. They just had some well, they wasn't Holstein cows or

nothing like that, they was just cows, I'd call them.

But her nieces, Lottie andAFrances, and them, they were small

girls then and they'd milk them cows and she'd be churning that

milk. And when she churned she'd try to send every one of them

a little bit of that milk. She'd even leave them a little

butter on top of it when she made it. It was just ...

P: And you weren't used to that where you grew up?

M: No. No, we didn't even have a cow' Well, when you were growing

up did families feed other people like that?
Idt- U-T ,. tAS c -;'' "
M: Well, not, I'll tell you Tohy. here .. I mean, just like

people coming in, like over there, and her feeding people

like that it wasn't like that a+ ko n-. they didn't do

that. I mean, you know, coming right in at meal time and

everything and sit down and eat. It was just different ....

because they just didn't do that(Aei /,

P: Was there anything else you noticed different at that time?

CR 44A


P: From your own background?

M: Yes. There was/lone thing--they used midwifes here At home they

didn't use them, they used doctors.

P: Everybody had a doctor?

M:. As far as I know they did. But here, you know, it was ... they

had a ... there was a colored lady here.d

/ ,Pr _4.. -U I don't remember nothing' but just a colored

lady coming here you know, and being a midwife.

P: How were you received in the community when you came in?

M: Well, I guess alright. Yeah.

P: Did you have any trouble getting used to the people here?

M:- I never have got used to them. don't guess I ever will. Some-

body speaking the other day about, Harry's wife, my son's wife

here in At more and she was asking about somebody was

kin to somebody,. I said, let me tell you, I've been here

thirty-some odd years and I never have got them straighto.t-

yet. And I know you can't! But that's the truth. You just don't

... I mean when one dies, then I'll get to asking whose

brother, whose sister, and who are they connected with. And

that's about the only way I'll know, I mean, I just, I don't guess

I'd ever get them really straightened out.

P: 4o you think/ i at ... especially when you first came that the way

people behaved and acted here was any different from what you were used

to at home? How was it here?

M: Oh, I don't know.!A t was,W'I don't know, Tony, they just, they



bunched up, you know what I mean. They would ... it was just some-

thing, I mean, they didn't do at home, down home, people didn't

bunch up like that, you know. But P.: here at Willis' iomma

and Vaddy's on Sunday evenings they would all be there, you

know. But mostly back thethe men would leave on Sunday and

then go back to camps. And they/lwoild all gather up, and then

they'd leave, and then all the women would be around, and all

the children/ It was ....

P: I've heard that back, I don't know if this was before you

came, or it was about that time, that sometimes people

were pretty wild around here---fightin', and drinking and carrying'


M: Well, that's probably before my time. They was, they was still

bad at that. In fact, I guess 4o. Willis /,AS5 iC for

drinking I'll have to ... the truth's the truth. But I

think that was more back before I came, because eaa in '37 and

'38, well, they had got rid of all their horses W'hat I

was told, they used to ride horses and drink and all k- iros I' lt

) Ytihey .. they had got rid of their horses. There wasn't no-

,tJJ to-rd horses.

P: I don't quite see the connection between the horses and the

drinking. What, what's the connection?
Well, see,
M: /'they would drink and ride horses and fight and have these dances.

NVJ, I mean this is what I had heard. Not after I come here. Or


it was. I mean, like that, you know. In fact Willis' daddy

used to sit and told 'lots of stories--my children used to just get

thrilled to death. In the wintertime he'd sit in front of

the fireplace, you know, and he'd tell them tales of how

he had i V, and rode horses and drank and done things

like this.

P: What did people use for transportation when you came? DId they

all have cars?

M: Well, they had some cars, But he had a bunch of trucks, you know.

IL p1 i IUJI J.l and they drove those. And when I

first seae here, Tony, there wasn't, there wasn't graded roads

like they are now./ from here to Atmore it was just like a


P: al Springs wasn't ...?

M: No, uh, huh.

P: Were there any people at that time, say in their early forties,

who went to town inypule and wagon?

: Yeah, uh, huh, e ) you could see people going.

P: When you went to town, say on a Saturday, in Atmore back in

those days, did you see all races of people in mule and wagon?

M: Yeah, yeah.

P: There were white who still went in mule and wagon?

M: Yeah, I believe there were. _j C_ _mfm_ -- seems


there '/ :_ ,
like / was. I've heard Willis tell before *. -was married

and pe came up here, how they would haul cotton -A & with

the wagons, you know. Load it on the wagons and carry it at

night, you know) ''-: ::", 'S He

' L: didn't

_t4uhist have been about '47 when Willis bought his first tractor

when he come back home from the service. He got it in '45.

It may have been '46, but '46 or '47. He got his first


P: Were there a lot of men who went away dur-ftg the war?

M: No, not from here, there wasn't. Willis andWillie Gibson,
Billy Joe's daddy, and /' th/rC c f-ccc and Shirley McGhee

out at fP-Cj I And Shirley and Willis and Willie went

off, but /A was turned down. And that was the only ones

that I fn I

P : f '- -! ,/ i '. : . -1, -P .; ,- l0 . -u o 1 t

M: No,J.I'm talking most, well, Shirley was from over there. But
now I can't remember anybody else from over 'there. There

could have been.

P: Were those men that went away, did they have any different

attitudes when they came baciabout things? They just slipped

right back into ...

:. Not ... It was like they Wsn't even gone!



P: Was there ... at that time were there a lot of people that

went off to work in defense work and things like that?

M: Yeah.Y You mean like shipyards?

P: Shipyards.

M; Yeah, A. G. and all of them worked for/shipyardz in Mobile.

up here, -4 /. ,_

S Sam Loiv.w, down here, and I think Tom Well, there was a

bunch of them,that worked in the shipyard.

P: Calvin McGhee ?____

M: I really don't know, but I know A. C. did, and I believe W1eykf m

( y1 I don't know \,' who all t0p

P: Lots of them?

M: Yeah, there was, they used to go on trucks, you know, they had a

c^ (V-A. C M truck. It was just a

homemade ....
av-&r P: And theyrduWc e, they'd commute back and forth and eve4thg?

M: Yeah.

P: What about in Pensacola, were there any kind of jobs that opened

up during the war in Pensacola? You mentioned /)1V/v/'i 7 had

a boarding house?

M: That was in Mobile.

P: Mobile.

M: No, no, I don't remember ...

P: What about through the years, especially when you first came



here. Did you/or the gple here have much to do with the
yu o ,o ,r cth
people over in ?Qrt-^__-__ or ( ,f7 ? Did you all

see each other very much?

M:: Well, they just didn't have as much transportation as they do

now, Tony. And they didn't visit like they do. But they did.

They associated, you know.

P: Would you all ever have church meetings where all would be

together or not?

M:: Well, there wasn't any church out in I don't believe,

Tony, but the Episcolpal church. You know where that block church

is built now, there used to be an Episcopal church there.

P: That was still there when you came?

M: Yeah.

P: Um, huh.

M:. Well, it was tore down while the war was going on, I believe,

or right after or something. And, you know, Alfi-t J e

bought it. And they tore it down. But as far as I can remember

I believe that was the only church around out there. I don't

know where those people went to church.

P: Was there the Holiness church at 9 at that time?

M:' Not the one that's there now. I guess they had a church there.
down -V.-1-
P: Was thereroneNbehind the graveyard?

M:: I believe they did have one down there.

P: vAr W Mh l 7 Was Belle Creek still a community

when you came here?



M : I don't know anything about Belle Creek.

P: You don't of any people living over there?

M: No, ..-I've heard of Willis speaking about so-and-so lives

at Belle Creek, but I don't really kaow. its one place I just

never r.'. I don't believe I've hardly ever been there.
: *.' .1 -".rc .*^--
P: you just didn't know any people living at Belle Creek?

M : No, uh, huh. So far as I know I didn't.

P: When you first came- were you aware of the attitude of white

people toward the Indians, here? And the way they treated them

M : Not really.

P: Did you get to know about that?

M T: "Oh, a little bit, not too much.

P: How was the treatment of the Indians in those days?

-M: You mean toward I_ ?

P: No, toward-the white people--their treatment of the Indians in

those days.

M: The white people sure didn'tteat the Indians right here, not

to my ... you know what I mean. Because I, you know, I told

you over there about how the folks up here done. ... make
them go to the back door and all, you know.

P: That was '/!r ^ '- ?
"tM:aL x he Willis had an aunt that lived across over here. And she

would go and work for those white people up there--Mrs. Lucille

and them. They wouldn't give her nothing for working, just

little bit of milk and things along like that.



P: What was here name?

M: Aunt rnr\/? She's a K61p. S* -W' .

P: ^,,x 's mother?

M9 No, yeah. yeah. *" '

P: You, had MaryJane when you came, is that right?! How did she as

a young child get along with the Indians here?

M: Just fine.,/ Tony, there were something ./. now you're speaking

about Mary Jane--- she was/three years old when me and Willis

married. When I came here, I don't know, it was just the

thought of Willis daddy being a ... he wasn't a mean man, but -1-1:

they were afraid of him. You know what I mean? When he spoke

they know,'to jump. I mean that's the way it was for me. And,t'-'"

the children, if he'd come in and lay down on the bed 1. C- O

0- why, Granny, she'd go to the door if any children

started to coming' up, "P'all be quiet," she tell them. "Pa's

sleeping. And they wouldn't stay. I mean they'd take off.

But, you know, it was just, I guess it was a difference in raising

the children because Mary Jane would get up in the bed with

him. She would. She wasn't afraid of him at all. /I guess that

was the way they had raised them--to fear him or something

like that.

P: Um ,huh. And it didn't bother him?

M'. No, he didn't say nothing' to her. .But he was just ... but before

he died everything was different. Because he was/ust as humble

as he could be. And I never hear him say a hollerin' word to



nobody. He was just ...

P: What year did he die?

M: '55.

P: '55. I've heft many people speak of him. He was one man

that really in a way Stood above all others around here in

giving people work and all that kind of thing. What was

it about him that got him started in ...?

"M: He was ...well, I really don't know, Tony. He just ... he was

a man\ he just had plenty of sense if you want to just know the

truth about it. He just had the knowledge, the understanding

that these other people didn't. I mean, you know, and ...
than them
P: Was he a little better off/to start with?

M: Not as I know of. He just ... it was just him, I guess. Aind
people just looked up to him for some reason. Now his brother
I,, -
down here, Uncle Clay Aunt Alice's husband, now they

were brothers. And he just never was nothing .

P: Was which V one was older, Will or Clay?

M: 1JrI believe Willis' daddy was oldest. I know he was. But from

the way I understand and the way people have talked and the

way I understand it just from a boy up he just, people just

looked up to him. For some reason. But I don't know why.

But just from the way I've heard people talk about him. Nv- i- I

P: As a boy you heard tales about him?

M: Yeah.

P: What kind of tales did they tell about him as a boy?

M: I couldn't tell you all of them. ButAI mean he was just a,-ck.



I don't know. They just looked up to him or something. He

was just ... as I said I guess had more knowledge and understanding.

And then he'dget intoplawsuits and things, and you know, just

things like-hat. I guess he just .... he just U f t q.

He just ... just alead of all of them I guess you'd say, or

something' another. And then he married Willis' momma I don't

think she was about fourteen when they married. And-it was

just ... I don't know.

P: Did he have people working for him that lived. over in (

and __ ?

M: Yes.

P: It wasn't just this area?

Mi All of them. No. lP p and colored people out of Fr-Ci-r'iO vioe

and everywhere. He'd go down and they'd camp in, you know,

different places and work for him.

P: His main business in the paper wood and in the farm.

M:. Farming.

P: Farming.

M: W4-Ais-farmed all his life. I mean from a little boy on up.

He cleared all this ground that's been cleared here. I mean

that's what's they told me. I, I wasn't here to see it. But

now he married iwc\ lf and then there was Lillie May's

husband. And he just he never farmed or

nothing And it just fell to Willis, I guess. He farmed

all his life until he went in the service then



in the wintertime when there wasn't any farming, why, he

would go help his daddy.

P: Did Will have a better house than most people?

M: No.

P: Even after he got successful he lived in the same ...?

M: No. Just the same as when I come up in here, Tony. HOc i'

A)6S while the war was going on, they rebuilt them a house

but it wasn't, it wasn't as f good as this one. I mean, out of

old lumber.

P:S- Rhat did he do with the money that he made?

.M: He didn't have it when he died. I don't know where it went.

I really don't.

P: Would he ever give loans to people around here?

M: He'd just give anybody that needed help, he'd help them, Tony.

If he found out a family was in need why, he'd help them. I mean,

he'd get them groceries or give them money or help them.

P: Was he much of a churchgoer?

M: No.

P: He wasn't. Not as I ever ... he, welli



Side 2,
Mt: loved Pcji --fa 6 3CCo.
P: You said Will, I didn't get that, Will loved to chew tobacco?

M: Yeah. He chewed Apple tobacco and 2.n6 bk-j tobacco. I can

just remember him chewing it, you know.

P: But he never claimed to be a Christian, you say?

M: No.

P: But he acted like a Christian.
-he Co-4jd C J5r
M: He could Aave belonged to a church, but I don't remember him

ever saying anything about it. He could have belonged to the

Episcopal church. You know, they all did. When I come up

in here everybody around in here belonged to the Episcopal


P: Um, huh. When you first came, were there any people still

living in log houses?

M: Yeah. Right down here where Shirley _'s house sits


P: Um.

M: There's a log house there. That's where Linda May and Buck

lived. They lived in a log house there.

P: Were there any others?

M: Yes, up here where Girlie lives; where she lives now. And it

was a log house there then. But that's about the only two I

believe I can remember.

P: Were there any 6 over in Hog Court that you can remember?

M: I don't remember. I didn't go out there too much, I mean,



you know. I really don't know. There could have been, but I

just don't know.

P: Did you ever know of any cases back when you first came of any

Indians being turned away from any restaurants or businesses or

anything like that in town?

P: ii-L don't ask me that 'cause I didn't see it. Yeah. I knew

of some of that.

P: How often did that happen?

M: .I really don't know. But I have heard of Willis telling,A you

know what I mean, or either it could have been his daddy. f4Could
have been is daddy telling about Betty Ann's daddy. See, Betty

Ann's daddy was here Howard Neal. He was a big nlpd wcd man,
I l'erpfe
too. He had trucks and worked colored people and Indian and all

like that. And I've heard him tell, oaid that here in Pensacola
-"/ A ?^- -, (J b
him and this one of these ... Rob f0n ; him and Rob and

somebody else went into a cafe here. I think it was Pensacola.

Or either Atmore. One of the places. Anyway said at they didn't want

to serve them. And so he just rode them out. ..5.Alf his Indian

friends wasn't welcome, he just wasn't ... so that's the way it


P: Howard Neal was white himself?

M: Ur, huh.

P: Other than education and occasional things like that were there

other ways the Indians were mistreated back in those days that you

know of or heard people speak of?


M: Nothing, just except the school. I ... They just/didn't treat

them right by the schools. I guess they would have still just
kept right on if Mrs. Mays hadn't got into it and done like

she done, you know.

P: What did she do?
s te, W-"
M: Well, she, her and Calvin, see, she/, I think she was the first

one, now I'm not sure what I'm telling you, yoiknow, but/ be-

lieve that she is the first one that found out about this Indian

thing. And she -h0to hf she went to Calvin or she come

over here to Willis' daddy first. And she told him that she

had read in the paper where the government owed the Indian people.

And from that, well, it got started. And then she got in with

Calvin out here and I guess he mostly took it up. You know,

instead of somebody else, I mean anybody else, Calvin got interested

in it.

P: Why him?

M: I don't know. That's why I say he just must have, you know. And
t ,0U.! -
thinthey started I guess with Mr. Weaver up here af re AVl

and they just kept on, you know,J... and they got the school.

But she was the backbone of all of it. I mean if she hadn't everT-v- e AZ-er

come here, I mean, you know.

P: Um, huh. And she came before the new school was built.

M: Yeah. She taught over there in that little house. She lived

here at Cramepri.ae. She died here about two, three monish




P: Um, huh. e a [' Ire
M: But she lived here in / ; had a home here. And she had just

taught everywhere, And I don't know why. She hadn't ever been

connected up with these Indian people. But some way she got

interested in them and she come here, they give-- her the school

here. She just took a hold.. But yet, some of the people didn't

like it. The Indian people didn't like it.

P: Didn't like what?

M: Didn't like her coming in and taking over like that. Even after

she was trying to help them.

P: What didn't they like about it?

M: I can't tell you why they didn't like her, but they didn't like
be bossed.
her, I guess, because she meant business. And they didn't like to /

P: And she would boss them?

M: She'd tell them what she meant if she meant it. She didn't go

behind nobody's back. She just was a plain person. And what she

meant, she meant. I mean she wanted she ; just told them. And

that's the way she done Harry Weaver e BrecOlM If she wanted

anything for these people out here she went up there and told

him and they got it. And all these lawyers here at Atmore and

all of them, well, she ... t
... forgot ...

P: Rosell? i.' V

M: Well, I believe, somebody. But anyway she, you know, A.. she

just got what she wanted.



P: But a lot of people around here didn't like that, huh? How

come Will didn't get involved when she came to him first?
n;'.-^ 2 flelo_-
M: He just wasn't interested I guess I don't know how Calvin

ever got ... unless she went to Calvin, you know, after, but

I remember she came over here -o eat supper. Well, she was
A ,
really more acquainted with Roberta and Eugene. -And she!came

over there and eat supper one night. And then that's when she

told him. She said, "Well," she said, "I saw in the paper

where theAgovernment owes the Indians a claim or something,"
you know. That's the way,/it got started.

P: You don't remember what Will said?

M: No, I don't. -o.

P: But he didn't pick it up. It was Calvin who took this up.

M: It must have been Calvin. I just really don't know how it

had come round, but anyway Calvin got involved in it.

P: One thing, going back to when you first got ready to marry your

husband, would you repeat what your daddy said to you you

told me?
&Ak3 (16J 1L j-
M: 'Bout the Indians?

P: Uh, huh.

M: Havin' two wives? He said he'd always heard that the Indian men

had two wives.

P: And was that true?

M: They might wanted to, but mine didn't!



P: In what ways do you think the Indians have changed in the past

thirty years?
M: In lots of ways, Tony. I mean, with education and in

their homes. They got more, you know what I mean? There's

lots of ways they've changed. They've learned how to do other

things just likeAhe's talkingnow about they're going to meet

up there at that schoolhouse and decide. Long time ago they

didn't have such as that. They'd, when I ...

P: Decide what they're going to have for what?

M: -or, they're going to have a supper tomorrow night. And, there's

just lots of ways they've changed. They're different.

P: They'd never do that in the past--get together and decide what

they're going to do?

M: Back when I first came up in here, Tony, they would have like

they'd say'"pie suppers." They'd never have a cookout like they
kv' ezkc_
have now-and things like that. It would just be pies and they'd

sell them and things like that.

P: Where would they hold those?

M: Just different places--houses.

P: In houses.

P: Like that.
t)lhK;u where
P: Oh, that reminds me. Had you ever seen / you were growing

up, ever seen people cooking in a wash pot like they do around


M: No! No, uh, huh. No, we didn't have nothing' like that down there.



M: People just didn't gather up down there like ... I mean, where

I was raised.

P: Seeing somebody cook in a wash pot in the first ...

M: Well, back to the business back then they didn't cook in wash pots

like they do now.

P: They didn't?

M: No. They didn't cook out like that. TheyAjust here in the last

years got to cooking' out like that.

P: So that's something new--cooking in a wash pot?

M: Yeah, um, huh. Yeah.

P: Oh, I was going to ask you one other thing about-you mentioned

before. Did you say that you remember people that washed ,in

the spring?

M: Yeah.
P: Who were some people \7, washed in the spring?

M: All of them mostly down around here, Tony. See, we had a spring

over there where I lived, When I first come up here. And then

we bought the place across the creek over there. Well, we had

a spring. We had/tote water. And we didn't have no washing
machines 'cause there / no electricity. We had to wash

with washboards and tubs and things just like everybody else.

But they would ... lots of people would go down here to this

creek. You could hear them down there with a stick. They had a

block. They'd put them clothes on that block and they'd beat

them clothesJ, Ir n t 0{V1 i' that creek, and they'd rub them



with their hands and rinse them, hang them up on the bushes.
V!I, JuJ/l
P: Why would they do that rather than washing in a pot at home?

M: I don't know. Some ...

P: At least one thing ...
-Sff- c l-., l^^i
M: Well, some of them would, you know. they'd boil their clothes.
Now when I washed, see, I had my tubs and washboard and Willis

built a bench. Well, I had a wash pot. Well, I boiled my

clothes like they, you know, like the Indian people always

did, I guess. And then ... but I've seen my momma do that, too.

You know. Back Icl years ago she would like that, too.

P: Had you ever seen anybody else actually go down to the-spring

and wash clothes in the spring?

M: No, not at a spring. See, Momma had a pump. She didn't have

to go to no spring. She had a wash pot and things like that.

P: WEll, just in a general way what's it been like living with these

Indians all these years?

M: Oh, I've enjoyed it, I guess. I got my family and that's what

matter. I mean I wouldn't ,some of them said, if something

was to happen to Willis you'd probably go back home. I said,

"no, I'd never go back home 'cause this is my home." I means
well, it was from '37 to '55/I didn't live with my momma

and daddy. I mean close to them and all, -And I was right with

his. See, they both died in '55 and my mother died in '55.

But I said, I miss them whole lots more than I did mine 'cause

I wasn't living with them. See, and I was right here with his.



M: No, I wouldn't ever go back 'cause all my children is right here.

This is where I'd stay. i

P: Let me ask you one/more thing. What do you think about all the

pow-wow and feathers and all that kind of thing that the young ones

are doing now?
J,- It's
M: Well, I'm like this, Tony. /like I told some of them the other

day they were speaking about different people not really wanting

to take part in it. You know what I mean? You know how people

are. They have conflicts and things. An it's like I said.

The mothers of these childrenJI feel like, I don't know nothing

about Billy Smith, I mean, ya Billy Smith. I've just met

him, well I knew his momma, I mean I knew her and then she got

killed- But, and then I know 2 M//ic- /ef That's his sister.

But I said, the mothers of these children I feel like should

be proud of him because to have somebody that-to help the children,

what I mean, to ,. keep them out of other things and to take

care of them as good as he seems to be taking care of these boys.

Because from the way I hear and see things that they just

and he was / just, having todo just as he said. And they lis-

ten at him. And Tony, rough boys around here. And

I said, if I had a child a boy that was I believe

I would really appreciate it beca\e it's like I said there

are some rough boys around here; these little boys and things

that's coming on up with nothing to do and nobody, no parents

to take care of them; it's rough.



P: Do you think there are some people that don't appreciate what

Billy's doing?

M: I really don't know, you know, you know how people are. Some

get all wound up and talk. That's one thing about the Indian

people, they sure talk: ''

P: About each other?

M: They'll talk, but then they, I guess they love each other. Seems

like, I mean, it's just like,I got George and Danny up there. They

go out on Friday nights and Saturday nights and all, and/just

seem like they're going to take care of each other. I mean, if

it's not them it's somebody else. They always, all of them

together; they stick together, I guess, you know. Just like

with these boys and Roberta's boys and my boys, all of Buster's

boys and all the rest of them. They all stay together, I mean ...

P: Well, one last question. What do you think is going to be in

the future for this group of Indian peoplel&icr,

M: I really don't know. I certainly don't know. Sometime I think

it would be a good thing if the Indian people would get their

money that the government owes them, and then again, Tony,

I think it mighgnot beA That's right. I mean, for some. Now

some,it would benefit some. And some it wouldn't help them at

all. Now that's the way I think about it. Because, I don't know.
qu( 5co d -
l I got one up there,that boy, Danny. If he would some-

body told us they was going to get $4000, I said, it would hurt



him worser than anybody 'cause he don't know what to do with

money. I don't know why he's like that. He makes, I imagine

he's making' right at $300 a week now, but it"' just coming

gnnad an d ia. gd. If you want twenty dollars and asked thim

Danny would hand it to you. It 0 don't make him no difference.

He'll give it to you. He's just that kind. I said though,

maybe he's like his grandfather. Said, Willis' daddy used to

help everybody. I ., said maybe Danny feels like he wants to

help everybody.
P: Mrs. McGhee has just shown me a picture of her father-in-law,

Will McGhee, and her mother-in-law, Bessie McGhee. A colored

photograph taken in 1954, the date on the back of the print

is "week of October 25, 1954." And in the background is the

newly completed _oarC S A'-Ci Friendly Holiness Church, much

as it is now but without being painted yet. In the photograph

of Will McGhee he has a big, almost a handlebar mustache, but

not quite. And his wife is wearing a straw hat.


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