Title: Interview with Edwards Text (August 17, 1973)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007526/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Edwards Text (August 17, 1973)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: August 17, 1973
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: UF00007526
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 52

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Full Text


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and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of

Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
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Text from a booklet by Reverend Edwards

Interviewer: Paredes (I)
August 17, 1973

Typed by: P. F. Williams

I: This is the text from a booklet written by Reverend


"About three years ago Bishop McDowall asked the

missionary at Atmore to visit the Indians near At-

more and see if there was work there which we could

do. I went out and found them very friendly. There

was no work being done except once in a while a Holy

Roller preacher went among them. But he generally

left them worse than before. I left word I would be

out to preach in the schoolhouse. No one came. This

happened two or three times. When I investigated, I

was told to see chief, Mr. Fred Walker. This gentleman WLAS CUEF,

by the reason he had sometimes past been made deacon in

the Free-will Baptist Church. The real chief, Alec

-Roland- was then very old and feeble with no power.

Chief Walker said anyone could preach to his people

who preached out of the Bible except Catholics. At

CRK 52A 2

our first service we had the small schoolhouse packed,

as you see from the picture. Most of the people were

afraid and little was done. Soon, Dr. and Mrs. R. C.

Macy, both returned missionaries from Mexico, consented

to work among them, living nearby. Then our work really

began, though very slow, Zut with no other religious

body doing anything for them, our way was clear and

opportunity great. Mrs. Macy persuaded a few young

folks to meet at her house once a week where instruction

began for our first class, eight in all. Later, Dr.

Macy, too, began to help, and his first opportunity

came when Jack-Roland, aged about six years, needed

medical help. Jack had fallen from a wagon, landed

on a stump which had punctured his shinbone, with

no medical care but a little salve put on now and

then. Tuberculosis of the bone set:in and had advanced

nearly to the knee-bone. After much talk and persuasion,

consent was given for the doctor to take the boy to the

hospital. But we had to take the mother and sister too,

to stay with him. They were much afraid of us. Chief

Walker said later that no one had done anything good for

his people for sixty-five years. Little Jack is well

CRK 52A 3

and growing fast. I called upon Jack every day while

in the hospital. He was always afraid of the place

and cried much. Before he went to the hospital, I

took his picture. All Indians like to have their

picture taken. I framed one of these little pictures

with one of myself and gave to Jack and told him every

time he looked at the picture he had to be brave and

not cry. That little six-year-old fellow would watch

the doctor wash the bone out with a solution which

burned and never a tear came from him. He had to be

brave. His mother, several sisters, and one or two

brothers are members of the church now. These Indians

are remnants of the tribes that went to the Territories.

There are about six hundred of them. They have no Indian

traits left but meanness, and most of that has the white

man's trademark on it. No language, habits, dress of the

tribe; are left. The govern ment gave them six thousand

tracts of land but the white man wanted them so kept

worrying the Indian department through the Indians until

the land was given outright freed from government control.

There is not one tract of the land left in their name now.

There are four tracts of land about forty acres each given

CRK 52A 4

by the U. S. to the heirs of Lynn McGe, many years

ago, for saving the life of General Andrew Jackson's

life when he was surrounded by the Spanish. This land

is still in their hands, but the whites are trying their

best to get it. These folks are exploited in every way.

They have degenerated below the Negro and have not been

able to help it. The chief of police here in Atmore

told me right a few days ago that thirty-five years

ago these Indians were highly respected and successful

people. They have large families, desperately poor.

The girls are very pretty but can not make any money

except at harvest except to sell their purity. Many

of them are now mixed with white. The highly respected

white men are responsible for it. One dear little girl,

beautiful, a member of the church, about fifteen years

old, was found in trouble. When asked what made her

do it, she replied, 'I Igot a-dollar for it. .Don't

get shocked, my friends. There were never a girl

which God Almighty gave beauty but what wants to have

pretty clothes and she deserves it. This dear child

bought her some pretty clothes. The young man married

CRK 52A 5

her of his own free will. They are both members of

the church, doing well and happy. 'Let him that is

without sin cast the first stone.' We have about

seventy members now and fully instructed -ad the

churchs-s teaching in ways. No more loyal band of

people anywhere to be found. Though very poor, they

gave more in the Lenten offering last year than three

of my biggest white missions. Dr. Macy ,rked about

eighteen months among the Indians. Most of it was

work of love without pay. During that time, he treated

over one hundred and fifty cases of infected hookworm,

repaired the school building with own hands, making or

repairing benches. He joined the county medical board,

then go behind the county doctor for not looking over

the Indian field. Thus he was made assistant county

doctor which gave him opportunity. When God called him

to go up higher, he sang until his lips could move no

more. We laid him ;out for a couple of days so that the

Indians could come in to see his remains. Chief Walker

says, 'Brother Edwards, we had some money for our Lenten

boxes, but my people wanted to go to see the doctor and

had no way. So I took the money to hire a truck to take

CRK 52A 6

them to Atmore, about eleven miles. Was that wrong?'

I told him I though it was well-spent. Mrs. Macy was

cared for at the hotel until after the burial. Many

Indians came to see her. One man said, 'Brother Edwards'--

that's what they call me--'we's ruint, but if anything

happens to you or to Mrs. Macy, we'll fight for you.'

The poor man wanted to say something kind to us and

he did. Chief Walker can not read but very little,

but is very intelligent born of necessity. He holds

his people together, always working for their spiritual

good. Bishop McDowall has licensed him to hold prayer

meetingsand etc.) A^s he can not read, therefore, no

lay reader. Mrs. Macy is getting very feeble but is

still trying to carry on. The Woman's Auxiliary, at

their last general convention, voted her a pension but

she still does what work she can. The first picture at

top left is my first congregation. The tall boy near

window and the bushy girl in front center belong to the

thief. We used this building until we could get money

to build the one at bottom, named St. Anna's in memory

of Mrs. Anna Macy, our worker. When these people are

baptized, they prefer immersion in the river nearby.

CRK 52A 7

and I like to do it. Our first baptism brought some

sightseers. -A bootlegger who had in the past baptisms

did a big business came with his bottles in a bag. They

could be seen but none sold. He remarked that that baptism

was the most dignified he had ever seen. I went down in

the water in my vestments. He has never been back to

my baptism--that is, with his bottles. And nothing was

said to him about it. The Indians are having ice cream

parties to raise money for painting the church. After

Dr. Macy died, Mrs. Macy asked Hattie May Hickson, the

girl center, to live with her. Hattie May teaches twice

in church school each Sunday, has been confirmed, was

baptizedd. The girl on left is Eva, the minister's

daughter, also a helper. One day Mrs. Macy could not

go out with these girls so Mr. Frank Clingo, c-l-i-n-g-o,

went as escort. He fell in love with the work so now

goes out each Sunday, AM and PM, for the church schools.

The Indian girls below are teachers, too. They have a

grammar school education and one can play the organ.

This bunch go to both church schools. They are about

three miles apart using the church car. Before we built

this church building, an old man, 'Holy Roller,' attacked

the chief and told him we did not worship the right kind

CRK 52A 8

of cross, that the Lord died on the old rugged cross.

He had someone singing 'The Old Rugged Cross.' Upper

left, St. John in the Wilderness, named for there is

no house in a mile of it but just toot the auto horn

and here they come. The work here is the largest in

numbers and membership. There are three other groups

where we hope to open work soon. The man on the right

with theminister built both churches, reducing the cost.

The county will not furnish these Indians with school

buildings but will send them a teacher. This group

had a building of their own on another man's land

but it burnt down and they could not rebuild it. So

Mrs. Macy and the missionary planned this work. The

chancel is closed with folding doors during the week

and the nave used as a day school. Lower left, altar

in St. John's, built by the minister in his own work-

shop. Right, a group of the children of the day school

and teacher. Most of these come to church school too.

The chief asked the minister to explain the cross to

his people. Later, when the building was in -the process

of erection, one of the Indians made the little cross

and put it on the building. We own an acre of land with

CRK 52A 9

this building. We hope to own more soon and homestead

some of the young couples. We have our Holy Cpmmunion

at night. Each church, every other&Sunday night, at

these services, the building will not hold the congregation.

At the two places together, the confirmation numbered

the last time thirty-five. Everyone old or young had

to recite the Lord's Prayer, Creed, and the Ten Com-

mandments. And before instruction was over, all under-

stood them. One old man, about sixty-five, could not

get the words just right, so the minister tried to see

if he understood them. He asked what the Ninth Command-

ment meant. 'Stop your lying' was the answer. We passed

him for that one. Wedding party. Both members of the

church. Mr. and Mrs. Edmund Walker, nephew of Chief

Walker. This young man sent the minister a note asking

that he be married within three days. Mrs. Macy planned

for a big church wedding with procession and all. It

was simple but sweet. Therbaby was brought to baptism,

our first infant baptism. Infant baptism and the explanation

is the next move we are to make among them. On the right

a group of girls in Mrs. Edwards' church school class

dressed for a play to make money for the Lenten boxes.

Lower left. A part of the large church school at St.

CRK 52A 10

John's. The young man on front row with hands in

pockets is white. His mother the second time married

an Indian. He is very bright. There are many of the

Indians married to white, but as a rule not an elevating

white, either. But there are exceptions. Lower right.

A group of mothers with their babies. A sad picture.

These people have been exploited so long that they

have become unmoral, not immoral. There is an old

rule among some tribes that babies born out of wedlock

belong to the tribe. This old idea still has its

effect. Then, when the white man comes along and offers

money, it is hard to combat. But we are making progress.

We do not condemn the girl, but the sin. When they have

been taught what is right, then we have something to

say. One girl blamed her child on a certain white man.

When the news reached him, as the rumor goes, he sent

word back that if he or his son was blamed for the child,

the whole family would be made to leave their job on his

farm. Enough said. We are fighting for these people

and are gradually winning for them. It used to be when

a fight was among them, the Indians paid the fine and

the white got free. That is changing. On the Fourth

of July, they played ball with a white team which had

CRK 52A 11

been drinking. The minister warned them about it. A

fight came at the end and two of the white got a little

hurt. They tried to have the Indians arrested but

could not get a warrant for them. They were told to

stay away from the Indians, and they would not get

hurt. The Indians are very peaceful folks and real

friendly. The hut in the upper left held a man, wife,

and eleven children. This is extreme way some of them

live. Mostly better homes. This has been torn down

for a better one. Right upper. Mother and son are

the children who lived in house. Lower left, left

to right. Fred Relan4 Ed McoQee. These are wardens,

respectfully, of St. Anna's and St. John's. Fred

-,Roand-married a fine white girl. The child is his,

Miss Ola Lee 4 ad, age six. She can recite the

creed, Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments. The

minister baptized the old chiefAlec Roland, relative

of Fred's, before he died. He was about a hundred and

ten years old. Later, I buried him. He told his folks

he wanted to be baptized before he died. They called

in a Baptist minister. He refused him. Then a Holy

Roller preacher was called. He refused him. When

CRK 52A 12

asked who he wanted, he told them he wanted the minister

who had the year before buried his sister, age about 90

years. Therefore, I was sent for. There are amusing

things which happen often among them. When Chief Roland's

sister died, they purchased the casket and overbox, loaded

the remains on a wagon, started to the burying ground,

then sent for the minister. It was a very hot day, about

noon. The horses were unhitched, the wagon and body left

in the sunjwhile the Indians and horses rested in the

shade waiting for the preacher to get there. The body

was not embalmed. Then they insisted the remains be

opened at grave for late-comers to see. The minister

was glad they did not keep opened long. Often, the

minister is the funeral preacher and undertaker and so

many things happen that it is nothing to start 9:00 AM

and get the remains in the grave by dark. The cards

on the next page are printed from the Office of Instruction

in the prayer book. All who are old enough for baptism

by immersion or want to be confirmed must be able to say

the creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments

which are on one side, and know from instruction the

data concerning the Church and her ministry, which is

on the other side. (On the other side are printed the

CRK 52A 13

Apostles' Creed, the Ten Commandments, the Lord's

Prayer, the Church and Her Ministry.) Real friends,

loyal and true, trying their best to please God under

many trying circumstances. Let's give them a real

chance. These Indians have many children, fine ones,

too. But they suffer from many diseases due to under-

feeding and hookworms a-plenty. One little fellow was

told by the teacher to stay home and take hookworm

treatment. Some neighbor advised the mother not to

get medicine but to catch one of the worms, hang it

up to dry, then powder it and give it to the child

to swallow. She says, 'She did and all the worms

left.' When the doctor was told about it, his reply

was, 'I do not blame the worms for leaving.' For a

long time, the local high school would not take the

Indians' children. But this year, the high school at

Atmore has taken two for us and one is in the grammar

school, too. All are receiving fine reports. The

doctors have refused many times to go to these people

without pay. Are they worth saving in body and soul

for God? If you think so, then help us. We need

clothing of all kinds and money for medical service

CRK 52A 14

and drugs. Attached to the page facing this is a

leaflet printed by the Atmore Advanced Printing Com-

pany entitled 'Brief History of the Indians in Escambia

County, Alabama, and the work of the Episcopal Church

Among Them.' Since the Church has undertaken work

among these people, much injustice, forced immorality,

and other evils have been exposed, and because of this

there seems to be a.qi-te movement to scatter the Indians

by making them move from the farms where they have worked

many years. This means that wherever.they go, they will

become, many of them, body chattels for white men. We

want to stop this. Will you help us to do it? There

are about six hundred of these Indians, over one hundred

families living near each other, and we can save them

for God and make good citizens for the land and country.

To do this we want to homestead many of them on land to

be owned by the church. One large landowner who at last

has become interested in what we are trying to do, will

give us some land worth about thirty dollars per acre

for from five to eight dollars per acre to give us a

chance to try it out. There is enough timber on this

land to make many good log cabins, and there will be

no expense for the building work. We want you to help

CRK 52A 15

us. The Bishop of Alabama has given the missionary

permission to place this program before the Women's

Auxiliary of the province and ask them to help us

raise about twenty-five thousand dollars to buy some

of this land and equip it to about fifteen dollars,

the rest to go into a fund for medical service and

drugs. We will invest the money inAland and homes

as fast as it comes in. It will take about twenty

acres to a family. There is a tract of eighty acres

available now for only three hundred and fifty dollars.

This would take care of three families and have a

common pasture. There is another plot of twenty acres.

St..Anna's Church is on the plot. We own about ten

acres and would like very much to get the rest so we

can put an Indian on it or make a home 6 T-o for

a worker. This can be purchased for about one hundred

dollars. This is badly needed now. The first twenty-

five dollars which comes in will go to get hold of this

piece of land. The money can be sent right to the missionary

in charge or through Bishop McDowall marked for this

work. Now, dear reader, I know that you agree with me

that this Indian work is the greatest piece of missionary

work in the province of Suwannee. Will you not then

CRK 52A 16

help us to make the work secure, either by securing

the hundred dollars needed'for the land near St. Anna's

or the three hundred and fifty dollars for the eighty

acres near St. John's Church. (The next sentence has

been crossed through in ink.) The missionary will

gladly give or mail you one of these albums if you

will ask him for it. He will be found somewhere near

at the synod meetings." This is signed by a name I

can't make out. R. L-i-o-n-h-e-m-i-n, it looks like.

Typed signature, Reverend Edgar Van W. Edwards, Atmore,

Alabama. (This is the end of the text.) The preceding

document read into the tape is the text of a photo

album which is typed and also has included a printed

one-sheet brief history of the Creek Indians in general

glued on one of the pages. Pictures generally show

scenes of individuals who were active in the Episcopal

Church during the 1930s, including scenes of Sunday

school classes, but also some pictures of houses and

other things. This text and album which the text goes

with the album and the reader will notice that sometimes

in the text there are references to pictures. Unfortunately,

CRK 52A 17

I have not yet been able to obtain copies of those

pictures. But this album with the text was passed

through the hands of a number.of Episcopal Church

workers and now is in the hands of Mrs. Roberta

Sells. The last person to give it to her; I believe,

was the daughter of Mr. Clingo referred to in the text.

She regards this as a confidential document because

She says that if people knew she had it, they would

want to be looking at it and it would be torn up

and the pictures accompanying the album--not all

pictures are infact in the album--would be dog-eared

andpmessed up. However, she feels a proprietary

interest in this since it was given to her-and she

let me examine these documents with a pledge of

strictest confidentiality. I think part of the reason

is that other people in the community strongly suspect,

some in fact I-think know that she has these pictures

and documents and would like to have them back, par-

ticularly those who are still in the Episcopal Church.

She herself, having ro en off from the Episcopal Church

about three or four years ago and really established her

own church.

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