Title: Interview with Taft Sagers (August 21, 1973)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007534/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Taft Sagers (August 21, 1973)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: August 21, 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: UF00007534
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 61

Full Text




DATE: AUGUST 21, 1973




I: This is August 21, 1973, and I'm interviewing Mr. Taft Sagers

in his home.

S: My name is Taft Sagers. I was born in Monroe County, and I'll

be 65 years old December the 2nd. And I came up, I was

raised poor, and well, you might say I'm a, well I came up,

I am a wedlock. I came up, Greg Rudolph Reed was my father.

And I stayed with him for many years. I stayed with him, he

raised me up. I stayed with him until I was, I would say at

the age of ten.er-12 years old. I don't recall the exact

date, but me and him lived together after his first wife

died. And I inherited, ,Ct-e, L 2-

He married the 2nd time, his first wife had some other

children, and we had, you know, had our disagreements. So

I decided it would be best for me to go back to my mother.

And that's where I inherited the Sagers name. Of course I




S: ...have papers. I came up on the Indian side, I have papers

that, and a will, and he claimed me as his, recognized me as

his only son. But through years gone by I have always used,

I don't know why I did, but I just, being with my other bro-

thers and things, I inherited the Sagers name, and I used

my mother's name. My early dayhood, yearhoo, when I stayed

with my father, which I have a picture of me and him, it's,,e

we stayed together. I can remember when I used to go hunting

with him many times. People wonder why I love to hunt so. I

inherited it. He was a great hunter, and I can remember many

times whenever I would get tired when I was with him, and he

toyed me: many a times on my back, on his back until I was

rested up and we'd get near home, and he'd put me down, and

I'd go. And he was a great tinker in a blacksmith's shop,

and I den't go along -i.th hm there, I don't know why. I

have no mechanical incline of any kind. Iwas, after I grew

up, and I left Monroe County in 1933. And I got aquainted

with our great chief which is now deceased, Calvin McGhee.

And you might say that that's where that I met my wife, but

of course we wasn't married then. I drifted away and went




S: ...to and fro. And- I stayed with Calvin for several years in

Monroe County when he was up there. That's where I got

acquainted with him. And he was on a farm there. But after

then I left, and I went to Mobile. And I went to different

places. And I came back to Escambia County to live in 1942,

which I married my wife in October 24 1942. And I've been

living in C-heTe-if Escambia County ever since. But now in
^or Qet)icK
my boyhood days, i- get-s back to that, when I was in Monroe

County we was tenant farmers, and we was very poor. And I'm

not ashamed of that, which I was happy when I was up there

in them days. But through these many years I've, I'm not

rich now. But God has blessed me in many ways, and he's

brought me this far which I appreciate, and I'm proud of it.

And me and my wife, we doesn't have any children. I have one

step-son, which is, he's married and I raised him from very

small, me- and my wife. And he's married, and which I'm

proud of him. And he has a nice home, and a nice wife now

and which I'm also proud of that.




I: Tell me a little bit more about how you happened to meet

Calvin McGhee up there in Monroe County. Where was he, was

he a ten ant farmer, or what was he doing up-there?

S: Calvin was a teynantiqI came to meet Calvin in Monroe

County, he was a tenant farmer. And I'll get back to those

days. In those days as ten ant farmers, we was, well, whiskey

wasn't legalized at that time, and I used to be quite a booze

head. And Calvin, he was in the booze business, and I got

acquainted with him, and he and I sort of teamed up and be-

came great friends. And me and him went into the /ooze bus-

iness up there, that's why I stayed with him so long. And

that's where I originally met Calvin, and really become

aquainted with him.

I: Was, were ye all making it, or just selling it?

S: Well we made some, and we hauled some. And we had a man out

of Florida used to bring us some. And he also had a

brother-in-law, Jessie Rollin, which is my wife's

step-daddy. And he and I and Jessie had some great times

along about that time.




I: Was Jessie living in Monroe County too?

S: Yes, he was in Monroe County. We used to get out in those days

and we had the signals then. I mean I could, I don't know, we

used to could blow our fists, I mean that a way blow a signal.

Jessie lived, ,6h, I'd say about a mile and a half or two miles

from there, and we could blow a signal and he'd know what we

wanted/and heLd, just a little while in other words it was

the same as telephones this time today. We could call Jessie,

or Jessie could get out and he could call us, and in a little

while, me and Calvin would be over there. And back those days,

there used to be quite a many wild hogs back in them woods.

Oh, food was scarce, and we, many times that we'd get out in

the woods, and we'd catch the wild hogs. Oh, we had some great

times in those days.

I: Did yeo all ever have any brushes with the law when you were

doing that?

S: They used to, we wepe fortunate. I mean we'd, the law would

kind of stay, well we just stayed a step ahead of them all the

time. I said many times, if I was wi-th the law, I would know




S: ...how to catch a bootlegger because I really done enough of

it. And I thought back te them times, I guess me and Calvin

were pretty shrewd. We used to make that home brew oh, we'd

make it by the jug )f_ so we could have some great times.

I: Did you all make corn liquor or what?

S: We made corn liquor and made home brew.

I: What's the difference, you mean a beer of some kind?

S: I mean, yeah, it's a home brew, other words, home brew is,

you would take a, you could get the stuff and put it together,

and it'll make, and then you'd cap it up just like oCSaQ

beer is now. But you'd take malt and sugar and the other in-

gredients and put it up. And over, oh, I'd say, in this kind

of, in the summer time, in 72 hours after it was put in a keg,

you'd put it in an open vess*, and it would, we called it,

"Working it off" in them days, and I'd work off whenever it

got ready.

I: When it stopped bubbling?

S: When it stopped bubbling, or just before, we'd take a, we had

a capper, and we'd get some Coca Cola bottles. There wasn't





S: ...any beer in them times, and we'd get some Coca Cola

bottles and get some Coca Cola caps, and we'd cap that

stuff up. And of course we didn't have, ice was pretty

scarce then; you'd have to put it in a stream or some-

where to keep it cool. I'll tell you something. If you

hadt capped that stuff up a little bit, we called

it "green' a little bit too quick, it would bust the Coca

Cola, that stuff would get capped up and bust the Coca

Cola bottle would go like a pistol.

I: Did you all ever make anything out of cane syrup skim-


S: Yeah, we made that.

I: What's that called?

S: We called it Mal4ol n kO rnM,

I: Me.alol- Vt- ca.

S: ~Maleomt. yeah. And I never will forget one time that me

and Calvin and Riley McGhee, and two or three others, we'd

get, went down in Baldwin County and got some whiskey,

come back up there, and oh, we'd had a big time hauling




S: ...kegs around all over the country. Sunday morning, now

we'd went out in the corn field, me and Calvin and another

fellow, and we used to take, we was afraid the law would

find anything, and so we'd take, we called it "burning

out," and Calvin, I don't know what was in this keg. After

the whiskey was out of it, it'd accumulated some kind of

gas in there I mean it, of course that moonshine whiskey

in them days, it was, it was 100 proof' it was strong. And

he dropped a match in that keg, and I'm telling you, it

went like dynamite. It blew up, and you know it's a wonder

it hadn't a hurt someona.,But it blew that keg all to pieces.

I: Tell me, how do you make Mleeeolm I just heard about that


S: Make- Malcol? Well you just take, take, well the skim that's,

the skim when they're making syrup, you take that skimming

off of that, and just put it in a keg, a barrel or something

or other, and you'd let it set there. Now you could put a

grain in it, put corn or rye in it, but you'd let that set

there and settle. And that stuff would work off, and then

you'd draw it off there after it settTd and worked off,





S: ...you'd draw it through the bottom. And that's what they

called ie-4, woc kIv ,

I: Did you bottle that just like home brew?

S: No, that's what, you'd take that and distill it and make

whiskey a lot of times.

I: Well, how did you get out of that business?

S: Well, I drank that stuff until I just, I don't know, after

whiskey became legalized. I made a lot of, I fooled with

a lot of whiskey after I came to Escambia County, and so

did Calvin. And I used to, after I married, I lived up there

right close to Calvin. And we also used to make a stuff we

called raisin jack. You'd take some seedless raisins, and

you',dput that in and add some grain and sugar to it, and

put that in a keg or something or other and work off. And

it was, it was powerfuller than this beer is now, it didn't

take but very little of it before you wouldn't go nowhere.

I: And it was like a beer?

S: Oh yeah, it would really throw you.




I: And that's called raisin jack?

S: Raisin jack. And I don't know, I drank that, I drank

whiskey and fooled with it until after whiskey got legal-

ized. And I still fool with whiskey quite a bit. And I

lived up in this old house up here in front of where we've

got this brush arbor now. And Calvin lived where his son

Houston McGhee is living over there. And I drank that

stuff until I become very close to being an alcoholic. I

realized that, I drank it until I realized that I just had

to have it, and then I seen that wasn't going to do. And

then God got ahold of me and began to deal with me. And

God saved me, and him and the Holy Ghost, and I've been

living for the Lord now 'd say since 1955.

I: Well what got Calvin out of that business?

S: Calvin, he, he quit, and Calvin was living for the Lord,
givingg for the Lord a number of years, and then drifted

away, and then he came back, and he was living for the

Lord when he died.




I: What year did he give up the whiskey business?

S: I don't recall the exact time. About the time that Calvin,

I think that he quit fooling with it along about the time

that he got involved with this, with this Indian deal,

something like that.

I: Well I was going to ask you, when you first met him up

there in Monroe County, did he show any inclinations or

indications at that time, that he might become the man that

he was, working so hard for his people?

S: Well no, not at that time see. Calvin was, he was in the

farming, as I said, about that time, times was hard, and

he was more or less inclined to do what he was doing. I

mean he didn't, he never. I don't think it ever dawned on

him at that time, that he might be involved with this In-

dian deal.

I: Would he ever at all talk about the injustices that the

Indians had had?

S: Yeah, yeah, we would, he'd talk about that. And this In-

dian school up here, now I can remember, when the Indians

went to school back up there, which I got my education,




S: ...what I got, in Monroe County. And I never went to school

any in Escambia County, which fortunately I had to walk to

school up there, and I got very little education. I picked

up the most of mine, you might say after I got out of school.

I mean I began to study and read different books and other

school books. And in other words, these school children

this day and times, I mean after he came up, I learned a

lot from themsee. And I had very little chance to go to

school up in Monroe County because funds then for teachers

was, well they just wasn't available, that was all there

was to it) ,nd we had short school times-. As I say, get-

ting back to this Indian school, I can remember back where

this new school is up here, that the Indians was shoved off

in a little old half deteriorated, well it was a little

old dwelling house back of the school building. And Calvin

got a burden on his heart, I mean he began to see more,

this Indian deal began to work on him, and he seen that,

how the Indian was being treated. And some way or another

he heard about this Indian deal, and he began to get




S: ...interested in it, in this school business. And Calvin

burned a lots of midnight oil, I mean, trying to help the

people in this community. I mean I can remember plenty of

times that Calvin would stay up until the wee hours in the

morning, I mean, working on it. And he went, I think Gov-

ernor Folsome was governor at that time, he went to Mont-

gomery, and he met with the people in Brewton. And Calvin

had lots of bad things said about him.

I: Who would say bad things about him?

S: What did you say?

I: Who would say bad things about him?

S: Well it was the, some of the white people you know, he al-

most had some fights with the, some of the people, with the

principal of the school in Atmoore, that's the head official

in Brewton. And I can remember whenever a white child

couldn't go to school in Atmoore, couldn't even ride the


I: You said a white child, do you mean a...?




S: I mean an Indian, excuse me, I said an Indian couldn't

ride the bus with a white. They couldn't ride the bus.

I: Was Calvin generally a quick-tempered man?

S: He was, Calvin was one of the most, he was, you might say,

was one of the finest fellows I ever met in my life. But

when Calvin, in other words, you didn't shove him too far.

I mean he didn't take, he was very quick to stand up for

his rights.

I: Was he the type man that would, especially when he was

younger, would he get in a fight with somebody, I mean


S: Oh yeah, yes sir, he'd sure scrap ge+d. I said many times,

if I wanted to fight, I'd just, I'd just as soon hunt, I'd

hunt him to fight if I wanted to fight. Why Calvin sure

scrapped good.

I: Do you remember specifically any fights he was in?

S: Yeah, they was having a dance, now them dances used to be

popular in this country. Now if anybody wanted to come




S: ...through this country, or it didn't make any difference,

white people, if they wanted to come in here and have them

a good time, they could come inland they could enjoy their-

self as long as they walked straight, and you know, behaved

theirself. But if he wanted to get something started, he

could jar his rattles a little bit, somebody would comb

his hair for him. I remember the time that, Jim Blackman

was Calvin's brother-in-law, and him and Calvin had, oh,

they had several fights, and Calvin which would always come

out winner. And up in Monroe County one time, Jim came down

there when I was staying with Calvin up there, and he

started a big argument, and it got pretty rough in Calvin's

house. And Calvin tried to get him to go on, and he, it

looked like the more he talked to him, the worse it got.

It finally wound up with Calvin Bighting a chunk out of

his face. And getting back to the dances. They had one up

here just, oh, there used to be an old log house down just

below where our church is right now. They had a dance there




S: ...one night, and Jim Blackman, which was Calvin's

brother-in-law, and ae-Hollinger, he was a- Indian, and

anotherer fellow come down with him, Jim Daniels, they come

down there with him. Jim, he was always big mouthig, and

Calvin was wanting to enjoy therself and have a good time.

So he takes, he and Jessie took Jim off back of the house

to try to quiet him down.

I: Jessie Rollin?

S: Jessie Rollin, yeah. And he was talking all kind of talk

before the ladies, and Calvin was trying to quieten him

down. And so Ben Daniels, he decided that they was out

there, was going to jump on him, and so he just jumped

out and jerked him off a pick, not even trying to find

out what it was all about, and he made a pass at Jessie

Rollin with that pick, and which he shouldn't have done

that. And I think Ben wound up, I don't know where he

went, but he went off. He broke his leg. I think he run

over a rail fence and broke his leg doing that 4m pW

S in other words they didn't whip him and turn

him loose, they just whipped him until he broke loose.




S: And he went over a brick, over a rail fence and broke his

leg. And he said someone-kicked him, but I think he t

over that fence when he got loose. And I had some big laughs

with old Ben several times after that. And he was a veteran

of World War I. And Ben said a lot of times he'd been

through two wars. Said he went through World War I and

never got a scratch, and he come out here and went t-the

Indian war, and like to got killed.

I: About how old were all those fellows at that time?

S: They was,-:oh,. theyawas in :their-late 30s. They was grown


I: Was that the time you were telling me about one time when

Calvin bit somebody's ear off or something?

S: Oh, now Calvin bit Jessie Rollin's ear off. They used to,

they used to scrap right off pretty well. Yeah, Calvin bit

Jessie's ear off. Now Jessie was another fellow, now he'd

sure scrap He was a good fellow, but he'd scrap. And

Jessie had a, he raised, he married my wife's mother, Maggie




S: ...Rollin, and which that was Calvin's sister. Of course

she was married to Clay McGhee before then, and she had

three boys and two girls, which my wife, 2V'Y Sagers

now is, she was the oldest. Kinzie McGhee married the other

girl, Ethyl. And she had two more boys by, three boys, Elly

and Grady 4iveE down in Florida, and Arby 1isois dwn in io

Florida, Arby McGhee. And then after Cla and his wife, my

wife's mother separated, she married Jessie Rollin. He had

two boys, Jessie James Rollin) and Allen Rollin, which he

later married Tomalyn McGhee. And Maggie Rollin was GaT-

-aLkar-s sister6, he was a great church worker) nd I guess

she fed more preachers than anybody in this'country. And

Jessie James Rollin, he was, he became a preacher, and he

preached for a number of years. Oh, he's in Galveston,

Texas, now. He and I are the best of friends, great friends.

I know him, knew him when he was, well ever since he was

nursing in his mother's arms. We became great friends. He's

a good boy. He's one of the finest boys you ever met.




I: Now who was Brooks Rollin?

S: Brooks Rollin? Brooks, he was, he preached in here a num-

ber of years, and he had a, I don't know a lots about...

I: Who were his mother and daddy was the first thing I wanted

to know.

S: I don't know, see I wasn't here at the time. I became

aquainted with Brooks up in Monroe County, now,whenever

he was up there. And he had three brothers. Two more bro-

thers had a... Buck McGhee, or-Buck Rollin I mean, he left

this country and went out in Arizona with some peoples. And

had another brother named Duny, and had two sisters. I don't

know, I don't know anything about Brooks', his mother and

father. y wife, I guess she knows them, but I wasn't around

here at that time. But I got apuainted with Brooks up


I: Was it the same time you got acquainted with Calvin?

S: Yeah, they used to come up there and pick cotton, and that's
where I got acquainted with Brooks. And Brooks, he preached

for a number of years, which, and then he quit. He got to




S: ...drifting around, and got in trouble, he was in prison

when he died.

I: Were there a lot of folks from this community arn here

that were working as tennant farmers in Monroe County at

the time Calvin was, or was he just one of a few?

S: He was, just he and Jim Blackman, he was -he was up there

in Monroe County. Of course Jim spent most of his life up

there. In his later years he came down to Escambia County.

Then later, he died down in Florida.

I: Was he Indian, Jim Blackman?

S: No, no he wasn't Indian. He married Calvin's sister.

I: Anna?

S: Yeah, Anna. And Calvin and Jessie was the only ones from

this 4eP. area right in here was up in Monroe County.

I: Through the years, did you stay in touch with your other

brothers John and Artie?

S: Yeah, yeah, I stayed in touch with them. And as I said, I

stayed in touch with them, and I used to, from time to time




S: ...I'd go back and stay with my dad, and you know maybe

this difficulty would come up, and I'd go backr.to mother.

I: Now I realize that there was a, you were, they were just,

they were your half-brothers, that's, is that right?

S: Yeah it e A4ie A tA k) half-brothers.

I: Now they, they remembered some Creek Indian words they

learned from their daddy, did you ever learn anything2

S: No, I never, dad used to talk some, but I never did pick

it up. I never did understand any of it.

I: They were around him more than you were?

S: Yeah, they was around him more than I was.

I: Changing the subject, one thing I'd like for you to re-

member back and see if you can't sort of recreate that

day, but I understand that you were the first Creek In-

dian of this area to receive notification that you were

elligible to share in the land claims.

S: That's right.

I: Tell me about that day and what all happened.




S: Oh, I...

I: What year was that anyway?

S: What do you say?

I: What year did that happen in?

S: I, you mean what year that I got the.--- -406-

I: The- not, ..

S: I just don't remember, I mean it's slipped my memory just

what year it was, but it's not been too long ago, too many

years ago. It wasn't too long after we got that before we

did get, I'd say, oh, it wasn't too long it didn't seem to

me like maybe 18 months before we got that money.

I: So then it was only about-two or three years ago at most?

S: Yeah, two or three years ago. Oh, I came in that day, and

my wife, she was overthrilled. And I got them papers, and

they was, I was overjoyed, and there was people around here

was sure wanting to see them papers that I got that I was

el igible for my Indian money. And me and Houston McGhee,

our chief now, we went to Atmore and had it put in the




S: ...Atmore paper. They took our picture. Lot s of people

wondered why that I was, had the Re d name. And I had to,

you know, lots of explaining. I had to explain how me

always going by Sagers, hew I inherited the Reid name.

I: Well do you, did you ever give much thought to why it was

that your s came through first?

S: Well, I had, a direct proof, I mean mine, Calvin always

told me that, talking to him through the years, see Calvin,

people couldn't understand, he'd been to Washington so

many times, and been through them records, aed well, he

told me years and years ago, a long time before thi~.-that

I didn't have anything to worry about. He said if everybody

had as good of proof of who they was, that they was descend-

ent of the Indians, as I did, he said he wouldn't worry

about it at all because he said that...he always told me

many times, said, "You ain't got a thing to worry about."

Said, "If they ever pay it," said, "you'll get it." And

it sorrowed my heart that Calvin was dead whenever I got

that. I would, I would have wished he had been living

whenever I got that paper/because he worked hard. And





S: ...I've said many-times, if Calvin lots of people couldn't

understand, they thought Calvin beat them out of their

money, but he didn't beat anybody out of a dime. If he'd

of let that Indian deal alone, I mean if he hadn't of spent

as much time, -a&,well) as I said many times, that Calvin

might have been living today I mean he give his life for

this thing. He had his whole heart in it. Like I said

awhile ago, he spent many many) many hours-fhst, when people

were asleep/and maybe in the wee hours of the morning

working on this thing. And Calvin was also a great hunter;

I mean he loved to hunt. And well he's, he was, Calvin is

real close to my heart.

I: I've heard it said that some people felt that he was, I

think you more or less said this just a second ago, thought

he was trying to get rich off of it himself.

S: Yeah, yeah, I've had people tell me, and had it throwed in

my face many times, and I'd always tell them, I'd say,

"Listen, I lived next oor neighbor to Calvin," and I said,

"I know more what's going on than you think. I said, "Cal-

vin ain't making no money off of this thing." I said, "He's




S: ...about lost his place," I said, "trying to help somebody."

I: What kind of people mainly were)that were accusing him of

that, from right here/or out in the countryside, or what?

S: Well, they was a lot of people that's not connected with

this thing directly, I mean wasn't Indian. And they're not

right in this particular area, but I've had some Indian

people I mean they claim kgF'e Indian, I don't know

whether they was or not but they, things didn't go just

like they wanted,and4- hey figured Calvin wasn't treating

them right see, and he was doing all he could. Those that,

Calvin couldn't make a fellow be Indian, all he could do

was go by what he picked up. And I can remember the time,

you're speaking about this area, and you'd tell a fellow

or somebody that they had the Indian blood in them, they

were about ready to fight you. But whenever this here In-

dian deal started, you go to telling about the people that

didn't have Indian blood in them, it was visa versa they

were praet4ea4-y.ready to fight. They wanted, they wanted

to be Indian then. And oh, it's been a great fight.




I: What was the reaction of yourself and other people when

Calvin started making head-dresses and wearing Indian

costume and all of those thingsi why did he do that?

S: Well Calvin wanted, I think, it never so much as dawned on

me, just, down in my heart, I think Calvin really wanted

to represent, I mean the forefather, I mean he wanted to

let the younger generation see just what, you know, how

they, what our forefathers used to be like, And I never,

back in when I was coming up at that time, I mean there's,

you know,..I can remember when I was quite small. Now there's

some fellows up in Monroe County, this Indian money, you

probably heard about it7ears and years ago, there was a

little bit, it started, I believe back in 1906 there was

some fellows that got that started. But it, I used to hear

my dad talk about, see, I was born in 1908, and it dawned

on me-maybe at 14 or 15, I was big enough to remember about

how I used to hear them talk about the Indian money. But I

think more or less that these people back then at that time,




S: ...it died down, or they was trying to get something for

their own gain. I mean if they'd of really followed it

through we might have got paid off a long time before we

did. But they, I don't know, they didn't have the right

procedure or something or other. And you've probably heard

them talk about it.

I: Yeah, a long time ago.

S: You going to turn it over?

I: No, we've got some left.

S: Is it ready to start?

I: Yeah.

S: I was, when I first, after I left school in Monroe County,

I got about a fourth grade education, fourth or fifth. As

I said a while ago, I picked up a lots after I came out of

school. But I worked on a farm up there for 50 cents a daye

I've picked cotton for 35 cents a 100,and I'e turpentined.

I used to rake turpentine boxes up there. There was quite



S: ...a bit of turpentine in that area. I raked turpentine

boxes for 35 cents for 100 trees. I mean, other words you

get $34-F-for a thousand. You didn't rake a whole lots of

trees in that time in...

I: You better explain what raking turpentine boxes means.

S: In other words, you take a hoe, and go out in these woods,

and they had the, they used to burn the woods every year

then. And these trees th~e they wasn't protected from fire,

it would ruin the turpentine. See, they would burn up and

it would ruin them. And you'd take a hoe, and go around

these trees and hoe that grass off. And there had to be

an area around these trees, a three foot circle all the

way around these trees before that fire couldn't get to

them. And these marshy areas, that grass was pretty bad.

Then I went to paper-wooding. I farmed some, share-cropped

until I was, oh, well I came up on the farm, and I

share-cropped until I was in the 20s. And we used to get,

work o=th=a hard on the farm, and back in those days why

you had a lots of people that they got where they are by

beating the poor farmer out of what he made see.




I: How did that work? I've heard a lot of people say that. How

d-i4 they work that system?

S: That share-crop, well they would, .he would be living on

your, on the place see, and you didn't have to pay no rent

on where you was living. hat-'- give you a place to live.

And back in those days we didn't keep any books. I mean

most of the time they would give you a scrip to go to a

store somewhere. I mean maybe a couple of dollars, and you

would go to a grocery store and they would give you a,

they called it "giving you an-6rder" and you'd go down

there, and you'd get what groceries you need, and maybe if

you needed any clothes you would get them. And they, the

man that owned the place, he kept all the books. The

share-croppers didn't carry-any. Then at the end of the

year, why you made your crop, and you hauled your corn in

or whatever you made. And you got a load of corn and he

got a load. And your cotton and stuff you had for sale,

why he done all the selling, and he done all the book-

keeping, and he done all the figuring. It was like I say,




S: ...most of us, we didn't have the education, and in other

words that we was brought up that, we thought everybody

was honestsee?

I: Um huh.

S: And we'd go up there settlementt fay, up there in the fall

of the year, whenever everything was in the barns and the

cotton was sold, and the man would tell us how much we owed

him, and how much the cotton sold for, and what the stuff

sold for. And most of the times you would come out on the

short end. I mean, you still owed something on it.

I: You'd owe the store for something?

S: You'd owe him. See, he'd be paying the store...

I: Oh, I see.

S: And he'd say you-still owed, well you so and so, the cot-

ton sold for so much, and we never knew what cotton, what

it was selling for unless we just, always trusted the man

we were working for. And he just told us what, in other

words, we believed what he said.




I: Now was all of your share-cropping up in Monroe County, or

did you do some in Escambia too?

S: All mine was in Monroe County.

I: I got you off the track, go ahead -ow- Y&a- *

S: And as I was a boy coming up, I was raised very strict.

Mother, in other words, that we, many times I thought a

fellow wasn't treating me right, but she always believed

that, in other words, I never was allowed to sass back at

him, and I just, in other words we had to take whatever he

give, and that was the way it was. So after I got out on

my own you might say, I left, and I started paper-wooding,

and cross tying, and logging# and I used to work in a saw

mill up there in Monroe County for 75 cents a day. I've

done that many days. And on this particular fellow's, we

share-cropped on this fellow's farm some, and he would

give you all of about SeO -a week, $.54 sometimes. And

he was, oh, he was close. And I got away from there, and

I started going, you know, into logging and then I traveled

around quite a bit. And I used to Hobo some, ride a freight,

and go here and yonder. Then I got off down in Mobile, and




S: ...I started working the shipyard. And, well I first started

to work, in Mobile I first started working on the dredge

boat. And I started, I worked there a good while. The man

tried to get me to stay with him, and I left there and went

to the shipyard. And I went to the shipyard in 1941. And

I was in the shipyard when I married. I never will forget

when the war broke outs I mean before the war broke out,

I don't know, I always had a desire, I mean when I was

coming up I always wanted to get in the Army or Navy, I

kind of wanted to get in the Marines. But I remember one

time a bunch of us boys were working down in Baldwin County.

We was working with Howard Neil, which, I worked with.him,

he used to-be at McCullough, I worked at him, with him

around here in the logging business for a number of years.

But we was down there, and a bunch of us decided we'd get

in the Army, and he carried us over to Mobile one time,

over there to the recruiting officer. And back then you

couldn't get in the Army unless you had a high, you know,




S: ...you had to have a good education and everything. They

turned me down, several of us down, on account of -the ed-

ucation we couldn't get in. Well then I come back, and some

of the boys that was turned down at the same time that I

was, they got drafted in the Army. And I was, I don't know,

somehow they missed me at that time, but they had classed

us 4-F, I mean, and they did then, but they reclassed them

and called them up, and ahead of me. But I never will for-

get, I went to work in the ship....





DATE: AUGUST 21, 1973



I: Go ahead.

S: I went to work at the shipyard, and after I got in the

shipyard and started to work for awhile they reclassed me

and-sant-me 1-A. And they called me up for induction, and

I was about ready to go up, and got to thinking about that

thing over with-these other boys that Iwanted to gethin

the Army withy ad I thought maybe if we got in the Army

I'd get to stay with some of them you know, we'd be in the

same outfit. I got to thinking th4e thing over, and I got

a few drinks one day, and I went up and talked to this man.

Well I had been around, kept in contact with him, and we

became, this draft board man, me and him had become pretty

good friends. So I went up there one day, and he asked me,

he said, "Well," said, you about ready to go to the Army

now?" I said, "Well yes and no." I said, "I've got a




S: ...question I want to ask you," and I said, "I'd like for

you to answer it." I said, "You remember I tried to get

in the Army," I said, "and I couldn't." I said, "They-

turned me down." And I said, I had some buddies that they'd

been reclassed, and they'd gone, and I wanted to get in the

Army at the same time they did. And I said, "They'd gone."

I said, "I'm on a defense job now," which the war had

broke out then, and it was getting pretty hot. And I said,

"I'm on a defense job, and they called me up to reclassify

me," and I said, "they wanted to send me to the Army."

And I said, he said, "You don't want to go to the Army?" I

said, "Well," I said, "no, to be perfee~t frank with you,

I said, "I don't want to go in the Army." And he went back

there and hunted through some books, and came back with a

little old black book, was a war manual, and he looked

through that thing, it seemed to me like 20 minutes he

didn't say a word. And then he closed that book up and played

it down and he said, "You don't want to go to the Army?"




S: I said, "No sir." He said, "You go back to the shipyard,

and get on your defense job," and he said, "you forget

about the Army." Said, "I can't send you." And what hap-

pened, I mean I don't know. He just said, "I can't send

you." And I went back to the shipyard, and I workedithere

a- during the war, and they reclassified me. And that's

the last time I ever heard anything about a draft. Now

what he got out of this book I don't know I mean he never

did tell me why he could, he just told me, he said, "I

can't send you." And I worked at the shipyard all during

the war, and I was working down there when me and my

wife got married. That's when I moved back to Escambia


I: When you were down in the shipyard working, did you already

know quite a few of the men from right around this community


S: Oh yeah, Calvin worked down there.

I: That's what I was going to ask you, who were some other men

that worked down at the shipyard during the war?




S: A.C. McGhee, Woodrow Rollin, and brother, Edgar Rackard, and,

oh,there was Adam Daughtry, and Jack Daughtry, and there

was a bunch of them that worked down there awhile. Which

some of them didn't stay down there very long, but A.C.

McGhee, he's still down there, and brother Edgar Rackard

is still there, and Woodrow Rollin is down there. And I

stayed down in the shipyard after World War I, stayed

there, and Kinzie McGhee, he worked down there too, my

brother-in-law over here. But I went to work at the ship-

yard in April 1941, and I stayed u-til 1945, and I thought

I had enough of the shipyard so I quit. I came back home62

and fooled around here awhile. And worked with Howard Neil

in the logging. Ard-Then I decided that I'd go back to the

shipyard. And-I went down there awhile, and things didn't

go too right, and I quit again. Then I went out, from there

I went out to the Gulf Shipyard which is up the river from

there, I mean it's the...I stayed there awhile and I got

dissatisfied and I quit out there and left. I come back

here. And I used to go out in Baldwin County and make the
_er \-ah^b^w)
potato harvest. And I went uptas Hogetewn,~ New Jersey

on these harvests.




I: Were you hauling the hands, or were you one of the hands?

S: No, no, I was just, I went with Howard Neil up there. He

used to -carry some hands. Getting back to Howard Neil, he

was a good fellow. I mean he, there was lots of, he didn't

have any Indian blood in him, but he was one of the finest

fellows I evermet inmmy life. He was, in other words, I've

been all over the country with him, and worked with him,

and I've been to New York City, and which he's dead now.

But he done a lot of much for the Indian people.

I: Where was he living?

S: He was at McCullough. He lived at McCullough. I used to

have a place out there. He gave the Indian people lots of


I: How did he come to be that kind of mando you think?

S: Well he was, he was in there, and he just got acquainted

with the Indians. He sort of took up with them. And-he

was Irish, he didn't have no Indian in him. In other

words he's, he's been to my house many a times and, boy, he

was, he was just a fine fellow.




I: : Afd:he was a farmer, and what, :ailogger?

S: Yeah, he had a farm out there, and logged, and he give the

Indian people lots of work. Andof course, he had some

children by some Indian girls I mean he finally married

an Indian, a girl from out here at Poorch. After he left

his wife. Wo he was down in Florida when he died. And

he's got a son, sister Lauri's nephew. He's down in Florida.

He's not, well he's a preacher down there.

I: That's?

S: ~e-l-i Curtis Neil I guess.

I: Let me ask yougonetreal quick question. What was Curtis

Neil's mother's name?

S: ___a what was her name?

U: Exalee.

S: Exalee, Exalee.

I: And I just, as I was listening to that, I just, you said

Mr. Neil was down in Florida when...

S: When he died.

I: When he died, uh huh.




S: Getting back to my work at the shipyard, after I'd left

and went up in New Jersey, and down in Florida. I made

the harvests, I used to go down to Florida and pick oranges.

I: You said you were ny-yet used to go down to Florida to

pick oranges

S: I went back to the shipyard in 1951, and I've been working

down there ever since. Of course it would become kind of

slack and I'd get laid2off. And I might have to go back to,

you know, pick up odd jobs. And we're in the union down

there, and maybe when, I didn't have too much seniority

down there, they'd, I'd get laid-off ~and they'd recall me,

and I'd always go back. So I worked down there until, this

year I started to take my vacation in Mayh and I was on

my last week of vacation, and I ran into a little heart

condition, and I've been off on sick leave ever since. And

I don't guess I'll ever go back. The doctors advised me t

against it. And I've already signed for my Social Security.

And I'll finish out down there in December, and I'm going

to kind of take it easy. And me and a friend of mine, Junior

Crinnaw, we've got a fish farm leased down hert aed we're





S: ...going to try to put some fish in it. Aa4 I'll be 65 in

December. I'm going to sort of take it easy. I want to

hunt and fish -er a little bit. I think I worked long

enough)anyhow. I think it would be good if everybody would

try to get out at, I would only wish that I would have got

out when I was 62. I might have been, my health might have

been a lot better than what it is now. Anything you want

to add?

I: I was just going to say, you were speaking of hunting and

fishing, and if you remembered years back about the way

people used to hunt and fish then, whether there was any-

thing different about it then than now?

S: Yeah, these, you're talking about hunting and fishing. It's

got to where that, I mean most of these land owners, that

if you don't belong to a club or got dogs, some way to get

in, I mean it's almost impossible to have a good place to

hunt. That is, that is one thing that I would like to see.

I would like to see the Indians get their hunting rights

back, which when they paid this $112.13, I told several




S: ...people, if they'd give me my hunting rights back they

could've had the money. I mean I would just liked to had

the hunting rights backhand had7to hunt anywhere I

wanted to.

I: Do you think there're other Indians around here that feel

the same way or not?

S: Oh, there's, there's, of course there's some of them that

don't hunt, but there's quite a number of them that feel

the same way I do.

I: Around this country now, and in the past, how do people

usually go out deer hunting, in parties, or alone, or with

drives, or how do they do it?

S: Yeah, yeah. There's very few go alone. -And&They go in

parties, I mean take dogs and take, you know, a number of

people and go out and put them on a stand. And they've

always got somebody they call the drivers. I mean they go

with the dogs, and they put the stands on, and they go

au follow the dogs and jump the deer, and they drive them




S: ...out over the stands. Oh, there's always lots of fun.

I like it. You can always get a lot of kick out of it, 0-

hear a fellow tell why, how come he missed the deer. Gh .

-ebes^ some months they have t.bir. shirt tail cut. I

mean if a fellow shoot a deer and he miss&ee- em, 'l

have his shirt tail cut.

I: They cut the tail of his shirt off?

S: Yeah. And I, I've always been fortunate; I ve never had

mine cut. Of course)I've done the most of the driving. I've

killed a lot of deer, and I've shot a lot I didn't kill.

But talking about hunting, if I don't ever shoot another

deer/or I don't ever catch another 4ig, I don't have no

complaints, because I've got my share of them.

I: Have you ever been much of one for hunting other kind of

game like rabbits and coons and things like that?

S: I used to be quite a coon hunter. And I never was too much

of a rabbit hunter. Ad- I like to turkey hunt- ] but it,

you know, but it's, it takes quite a bit of time turkey

hunting, I mean you've got to locate them things. But I'll




S: ...never live to see the day that I was the turkey hunter

my dad was. He was one of the greatest hunt, turkey hunt-

ers there was in the country. But he taught me a lot

about it, and there's a lot instilled in me that I'll

always remember. Did I remember correctly, your dad made

his own turkey calls?

S: Yeah, yeah, he made his own turkey calls.

I: How did he make his?

S: He made some out of a cedar box. And he used, another box,

would take a piece of rubber and put it on it, and he used

it with his mouth. But he used cedar bark quite a bit.

I: Did you ever do any twisting of rabbits and things like

that out of a hole?

S: Oh yeah, I've twisted them out, rabbit hunted, and coon

hunted. I used to trap some.

I: Did you ever make your own traps, or were you.always using...?

S: Oh no, I used steel traps. And I've sure owned some good

dogs, and my dad had some good dogs.




I: On the fishing, I was just talking the other day with, or

today I guess, with Houston, and he said he seemed to re-

member that there used to be some way they'd put something

in the water to stun fish and bring them to the top. Do you

ever remember anything about that?

S: Yeah, they used to use green walnutsV I've heard them

talking about that. I never did, I never did have much

luck, but they used to use that in, you know, in ponds and

things. And they'd, sometimes they% use lime or things

like that. That's been years past. But in my fishing, I

used to be quite a trout fisherman. But I like to bream

fish. And that fly fishing is one of the cleanest sport

fishing there is. I like to fly fish.

I: Do you tie your own flies?

S: No, I don't tie my own flies. But I have, talking about

James Rollin, my brother-in-law, me and him have done lots

of it together. And when he went to Texas out there, I

kind of, oh, I kind of miss him in that hunting and fish-

ing. He and I was so close together, I mean, I mean, well

maybe one day he'll come back here.




I: On this putting the green walnuts did you say, in the water?

S: Uh huh.

I: Did they grind those up or what?

S: Yeah, they'd beat them up, and there's something in them

walnuts that would cause those fish, would take the oxygen

out of the water. And -t-e-folks they-use lime and other

things, but I never di) I never did participate in that

much.e*--it. I don't know just too much of the results of


I: Had you ever seen it done by anybody?

S: I don't recalls I mean, I'll tell you what folks used to

do a whole lot. They'd get in these ponds, I mean you know,

a place that was cut off. And you could get in there and

stir this place up real good. I mean get, and they used to

call it muddingg it," and maybe some of those fish would

come to the top. I mean you'd catch them that a way, and

we used to take old sacks and just anything we could. I

remember one time me and Calvin, and a bunch of us boys

got off down here in this creek over here, and took some

regular old, just net wire, and hemmed up a bunch of




S: ...suckers. Oh, we caught a lot, I don't know how many,

we just would catch them things. Just get in the creek,

oh, we had a time. But to get back to fishing, I don't

have any complaints if I don't catch anymore.

I: You caught your share you think?

S: Oh, for sure. And just like I say talking about the deer

hunting, I've killed a lot of deer, and I've had some great

times deer hunting. I still like to hunt, and I'm looking

forward to doing some more of it. And the Lord has blessed

me in -well in a 1-t of ways.

I: Let me ask you, when you were a boy up in Monroe County,

do you remember ever seeing people up there, not smoking

meat now, but just drying it outside on a rack over a fire?

S: Wei they'd have smoke houses up there, and they'd cure

their own meat see.

I: But you never saw them doing it outside with a rack over

a fire?

S: I don't recall that I did. They'd put it in what they called

a smoke house. And they'd, they didn't have those supermarkets

back in those days. People cured their own meat, hey4ce

no meat maTt, and-in other words, about the only thing a





S: ...farmer had to go to town for, he'd, I mean if he used

tobacco, I mean he'd get his tobacco. And when he could

he'd get a little flour and coffee or something like that.

Now their coffee, they used to, they used to parch their

own coffee, it wasn't a -eti made coffee; they'd parch

it. They had a mill they'd grind that thing in, and some-

times they didn't have it milled. They used to take beat

it up, or take an old bottle and put it in and go over it

that a way. And sometimes y.ou could smell that coffee

parching from...They didn't have electric stoves- it -wa-a

gas stove. Oh, maybe later over in the evenings you could

catch the wind from a certain direction, why you could

smell that coffee parching for, oh, I don't know, a great

distance. Over a quarter of a mile you could smell that

coffee parching.

I: Speaking of farming, I couldn't help but notice quite awhile

ago that in front of your house you have a sign that shows

that you're a farm Xureau member. You must be the only one

around here in the farm bureau, is that right?




S: Well I don't know of anybody else>I mean if there is I mean

they don't have a sign. But I am a farmB'ureau member.

I: Was there much of a drive out here to try and get members,

did they send a representative out or not?

S: Yeah, thlatls-a business that you, there's a fellow out here,

Mr. Hall out here, he's the head

of that thing. Now if you've got insurance with the farm

bureau, why you've,..if you stay a member very long with

the insurance, you've got to be a member of it. Of course

there might be people that's a member of it, doesn't have

a sign up here. But they- gave me this sign, and I put it


I: 41w That's strictly your insurance involved in that,-the

farm bureau?

S: Yeah. Well the farm bureau has got it's good points in it.

I mean there's some things that the farm bureau has got,

I mean if you're a member of it, such as batteries and dif-

ferent things. Oh, you can, you can get'a discount on it.

I: But it's not like a farmer's union or something?




S: Oh no, uh ih, no, it's not a farmer's union. And they give

you a discount on some things.

I: Well let me ask you one more thing, and this will be kind

of a general question)I guess. And it's really two ques-

tions. And that is, what in your opinion lies in the future

for the Creek Indians of this area, and what kind of advice

would you give to the younger people amongst the Creek In-


S: Well to advise the young people, I would advise them ta,

to be more unity, I mean be, I mean together, I mean people.

That's been one of the biggest troubles, it seems like the

Indian people is, in the late years, I don't know, they've

got separated somehow or another. They need to get back

together the way they once was. I can remember a time that,

you might say hat one Indian had, another one had. I

mean people used to have, we was united together more than

they are now. And that's what my advi e would be to them,

is to get back to where they once was. And we could see

great things happen. There's an old saying, "United to-

gether, united we stand, divided we fall," and I really




S: ...believe that.

I: How hopeful are you that that will in fact happen?

S: Beg your pardon?

I: How hopeful are you that you think that will in fact hap-


S: Well, I hope with my whole heart, of course,that remains

to be seen I mean you know there's, I'll tell you, there's

so many environments in this world, I mean there's things

to draw the attention of people away. I mean there's, I'll

tell you' one of the greatest, one of the biggest tragedies

of the young people this day that we have now, this dope

situation is, it's just destroying our young generation.

It's really destroying them.

I: Well is that d'esrtmLitd even in this community do you


S: Well, I'm afraid that some of our young people that's

involved in this, I wouldn't say hard drugs, but I couldn't

pin point right out, but I'm afraid some of them is, it's

possible they could be on marijuana. I mean...




I: It's certainly in Atmore isn't it?

S: It's in Atmore, and hard drugs too, I believe it is. That's

one thing we're going to have, have this, trying.tb.havehi.

this street-meeting so you can get some of those young

people to try to see where they're at. I'll tell you, taking

young people and putting them in jail Tony is not the an-

swer. You've got to take people and love them, and let them,

show them that you're interested in them. And once you get

a person, show them that you're interested in them, you can

help them, see. But taking them and putting them in jail,

these young people, these dope addicts and so what they're

called, all you're doing is making things worse. You're

just making him mad, that's all you're doing. He come et b

and do the same thing. But a person that you can show him

his mistake, and where he's making a mistake, you can,

chances are you stand a great chance of helping him. I

take myself, if somebody hadn't of got interested in me,

and prayed for me, and talked with me, why I might have

been a alcoholic today or something else.




I: Who was that person that got interested in you?

S: My wife's mother sghe used to talk to'me and-she used to

pray for me, and show me, see I was bad to drink.'And the

same boy that I was telling you about was a preacher, James


I: Um huh.

S: He was, me and him was great friends- yIAtAesa and

then when he came to the Lord and started preaching, see

I had never came to the Lord. And then he kept praying for

me, and I saw the kind of life that he was living, and it

inclined on me. I'll tell you, God was good to me. I wrecked

three automobiles in six months, and somehow or another God

had his hands on me. And I woke up to the fact that, where

I was headed, and that's where I come here to turn to the


I: Was that in this church right here?

S: Yeah, that's that church right there. And I was Baptized

in Jesus' name, and God filled me with the Holy Ghost, and

I've been proud of it.




I: Very quickly, I said I wasn't going to ask much more, but

when was your present church built up there? How long ago

was that built?

S: I believe we built this church up here in, I believe we

finished this church in about '58 or '59, somewhere's

along in there.

I: So that wasn't the church building you got saved in?

S: No, I, the old, the church building that I got saved in

was down here by the graveyard )And I gave them this prop-

erty up here, and we built this church up here. And I

gave that piece of property, which I'm not boasting any,

I'm just glad that I was able to give it to them, and I'm

proud of it. We've got a nice church there, and I think

we've got a nice group of people, and we're doing real


I: That church was built by. the men in the church themselves,

or did you contract it out?

S: Thes it was men of the church built it.

I: I've got one more thing that :Iwanted.to ask you about.and-

I'd almost forgotten. If you'd just tell me a little bit




I: ...about how you all came upon the idea of the brush arbor,

and how much interest has been she in it, and what people

in the church feel about it?

S: Well that brush arbor, I mean we just got to talking about

it. See back years ago, the brush arbor used to be quite

popular. And I don't know, we just got to talking about the

ones that, -Whe and I don't know. And brother Hartzle, he

went to the conference up here, and he and brother Welsh

got together, and they got to talking about it, come back,

and all at once we just decided to build a brush arbor. And

he's coming up here and bringing those young people, and

we're going to have a brush arbor meeting. That's, and we

just got together and put this one up. Oh, we've had a good

meeting out there and had some good times.

I: Think you'll do it again?

S: Yeah, I mean we're going to keep that thing. We're not go-

ing to tear it down. I mean we're going to have kind of a

fellowship out there and dinners& and you know I think




S: ...it's, I think it's real nice.

I: Well unless you've got something else you want to say?

S: No that's about all. I can remember about the, 4.he. talking

about the sofkee, people used to take, old people used to

take that corn and theae onua-eelled lye hominy. But

they would take oak ashes, and they-would take oak wood and

burn it and make the ashes, and then they would put them

ashes, and put that corn, and somehow that's the way they

lyed that corn. ArndThen they'd husk it, and they'd put it

in those, had a trough, you know, dug out in a stump or a
S0 t.in --vd
piece of wood. And they e4-a mallet, and they'd take and

beat that corn up, then they'd;'make a lye corn. And there

have been sometimes they'd have this thing on a limb, I

mean in other words it was like a spring. They'd have a

limber pole over there, and they'd beat that thing up and

down, it would spring up and down, and they'd beat that

stuff with it.




I: Now when they would hollow out that trough, would they just

chip that out, or would they burn it and scrape it out?

S: Well they would burn it and scrape it out some, or they

would chis e it out, and they would A(yv[p l L

I: They used both ways then?

S: Yeah. And they used to make their own soap. They'd use

that oak wood, I mean some wood, I mean, to make that lyed


I: What kind of fat would they use in it?

S: Well they would use hog fat, I don't know just all the in-

gredients, but I can remember them making that lye, and I

can remember using it. It was really soaptoo.

I: Now this, do you remember old people in Monroe County

making Sofkee?

S: Yeah, yeah.

I: All right, what's the difference between sofkee and light


S: Well it's, I don't knowdit would just be, I mean beat up.

I mean in other words, I can't hardly explain just what




S: ...would be the difference exactly.

I: When it's beat up, is that sofkee?

S: Yeah, that's what they call the stt-, So *

I: But when it's not beat up, it's just light honminy?
rt- t
S: Gri-- hominy, tat' al e-eL ~ hdifferea .

I: I see. Did you ever know them to beat up any corn like that

without soaking it in those, in that lye first?

S: No, no I never did do that.

I: Then when they beat it up, how would they cook it, just in

water or what?

S: Yeah, I mean they would cook it. See back in those days

Tony, people, very few people had stoves. They used to do

most of their cooking on the fireplace; or they would cook

out in skillets. And I've eat a many a meal cooked on a


I: Now this may have been before your time, but I just wondered

if you remembered it in.-Monroe.County at all',but-somefof;"-

the oldold people'here told me that they remembered that

in the summer time sometimes, people would go out under a




I: ...shade tree, and they'd put four posts in the ground,

and line it with wood, and fill that in with dirt, and

build them a fire on top of that, so it would be about

waist high. Do you ever remember seeing anything like that

when you were a boy?

S: No, I don't never remember, I don't believe I ever re-

member seeing that. I'm sure they did, but I, I might have

seen one, but I can't recall it)you know.

I: It was going out of style about your time.

S: Yeah.

I: But you do remember people cooking on fireplaces?

S: Oh yeah, I've eaten a many a meal cooked on the fireplace.

I: When they cooked on the fireplace, say in a skillet, what

did they rest the skillet on, did they have andirons in


S: They had some roq, some iron rods, or anything that would

hold that stuff up.

I: Did you ever see any fireplaces with an iron sticking out




I: ...with a chain to hang a pot f-om, or anything like that?

S: I don't recall. Back then, they'd, most of the chimneys

was made out of, well what, what it was made out of, they

used to have what they called the stick dirt chimney, and

they had the rock, that was pretty popular up here, the

rock chimney. Made out of just regular old rough brown

rocks, and it was daubed with mud. But I can remember the

old stick and dirt chimneys that most of the people had

then. I can remember that. JiL o -

I: Let me ask you...

S: And then the lime rock come out. This, they used to go to

these lime pits. And there used to be oneat Monroe County,

and we'd take a saw and saw them lime rocks out. Oh, a fel-

low had one of them, why he was up-to-date. You know that

was just the, you know, taty up-+n- la

I: About when did the brick chimneys come in?

S: Oh, them brick chimneys, they must have been, I'd say in

the 15s or 20s. I don't know, but to tell you the truth,

I don't recall when I did see the first brick chimney.




I: But you remember seeing your first brick chimney?

S: I don't...

I: Or had they been around all the time that you were grow-

ing up?

S: NoI don't think they had, because they used to use them

lime rocks. The lime rocks took the place of the old rough

rock and the-stick and:dirt type- And then the, then just

the regular lime rock see, and then the brick came along.

But I don't remember the exact year that I remember seeing

the first brick chimney.

I: Let me ask you another thing about old time ways of doing

things, do you remember as a boy in Monroe County, ever

seeing anybody dress their own deer hides, cure their own

deer hides?

S: I saw my dad cure a hide one time, but I don't remember 'i,

the-kind. He used red oak bark and I don't know just what

he did, but I do remember he used some red oak bark in it.

And they would cure their own Lj\______




I: Did you ever hear of anybody up there curing deer hides

with eggs?

S: No, I don't believe I, I don't recall that, if they did.

I: Now...

S: Now you see, a lots of this here,.af tanning them hides

and different things, that was before my time. But about

the time that I came along O- S -ec4----A Vtv it kind

of, it was kind of getting away from that& but I did see

my dad, I remember him tanning a hideI mean.

I: Let me ask you one more thing about the sofkeegwere there

white people that did that too, or was it just strictly

Indians that did it?

S: I don't remember any white peopledid that. And speaking

of those chimneys and houses, you know people used to hew

these logs out, and they used to seal the houses with mud.


I: On the outside or inside?

S: On the outside. They would daub them cracks with mud.




I: Did you ever see a house wheirethe'whole outside was sort

of plastered in mud?

S: Yeah.

I: And you just couldn't see any logs at all?

S: Well I don't remember that the whole thing was plastered

with mud, but I remember seeing them.

I: Would they mix anything with the mud at all?

S: Just, I don't think well, it was just a regular mud, I mean

just clay. You had to get a good clay, you know. But you

know, back in them days when those people lived in them old

log houses, ar- I can remember living in houses you could

lay-andyjust see the...look up and see the stars and moon

and everything, and had wooden shutters. Chickens and things

walking around under the house. Folks, you know there

wasn't as much sickness as there is now? And people had a

cold then, they'd take a little turpentine, or someCmee-

herbs, they'd give you a little tea, and that was about

all there was to it. But now, I think what causes so much

sickness ow people stay shut up too tight, and then they




S: ...get out and get a little co and they...

I: And they just don't have the immunities -c h

S: That's right, that's right. We didn't have, we didn't

have the convenience of hospitals and things then as we do

now. They had old country doctors, and somebody got sick

enough they'd take him sometimes four or five hours to get

there. But most of the doctors, the doctoring then was

home remedies. And they had some good ones.

I: Did they?

S: Yes sir.

I: Do you remember any of them?

S: Yes.

I: What were they?

S: I've drank that horse mint tea, and sassafrass tea. We used

to have a herb in the woods I believe they called blue

grass, something like that I believe Oh, it was de14ghbtfu.

I: What was horse mint tea for?




S: Well they'd give you that for, people wa used to have the

measles and things like that, they'd give you that horse

mint tea. I mean that would break the measles, it would

cause them to break out on you.

I: And the sassafrass tea?

S: Sassafrass teav

I: What was that for?

S: Well, they used that for the same thing. And of course a
tlva t-o
lots of people just used it, drank sassafrass tea. It's

pretty popular in Tennesee now I think. I been thinking

about going down here and making, getting some and drink-

ing some of it.

I: I was just remembering something, was it your daddy or

your grancaddy that was in the Confederate Army?

S: My grandaddy I think. Now my dad might have been in, and

just enlisted in it, but I don't think he, you know, ser-

ved in it. I never hear him talk to much about it, I mean.

I: Did you ever hear, did you ever know your grandaddy, or he





S: No, I never did.

I: Did you ever hear your daddy talking about that war at all?

S: Not too much, I mean he talked about it some, but he was,

he was a hunter in his days. I mean, there used to be a

.aptain Meritt over on the river, and there -a people hired

him to hunt for tsem.He killed so much they used to

just pay him to hunt.

I: What river was that?

S: -TR ld Alabama River. And they never give him permits.

When these permits come along, why they just let him hunt

anywhere he wanted to. Whenever, where-ever he wanted-to

go hunting, why that's where he went. Of course they had

reserved places/they wouldn't let some people go, but

they'd always tell him, he'd ask them about it, and they'd

tell him, you just hunt anywhere you want to.

I: Now what about hunting and fishing li en&es, when did

those start coming in?




S: I don't recall the very, now them hunting lienses, they

came in, oh, it must have been the 20s. It was, I don't
c $Z
remember just the very date, but hunting li ences have '

been in a good while. Though I can't recall just when.

But fishing li en es haven't been in too many years. I

don't remember the exact date they came in.

I: Have the Indian folks been, some to have just sort of

ignored those things sometimes?

S: Well some of them have.

I: Are they pretty strict, do they have a lot of game wardens

in this area out around here?

S: A good many& I mean there's, well sometime I don't think

they had as many of thc zffioe.s~

I: Do you get many, say during deer hunting season, do you

get many parties of hunters out of the big cities coming

in this area hunting at all?

S: Yeah, yeah. I'll tell you, out-of-state hunters hunt this

area, right, quite a bit in here. You have a number of

people out of Florida.




I: Has there ever been any work for the Indian folks as guides

for any of these hunters coming in?

S: Any guides?

I: Yeah, doing anything like that.

S: No, no there've never been -te-many guides. See, as I was

speaking ahile ago, most of this land is company owned,

and all the best deer-hunting areas is swallowed up by

some club or another. You don't, in other words if you

don't know somebody, or got some good dogs to get in, why

a everybody Gan-go hunting on the club. That's why I

was speaking awhile ago about, I wish they'd give me my

hunting rights, where I could hunt anywhere I wanted to.

I: We-4- in years past, if you wanted to go hunting, you'd just

take off and go anyplace?

S: Oh yeah, yes.

I: Did you ever do much hunting right around this immediate

area around here?




S: Yeah, I used to hunt quite a bit, used to be lots of

squirrels in here close, and when I had some good squirrel

dogs, course I've kind of gotten away from squirrel hunt-

ing.ad- I still like to squirrel hunt, still like to bird

hunt. But I've kind of got away from that, and got, you

know, especially deer hunting. We hunt north Baldwin and

Escambia. I've, I hunt mostly in Baldwin County, a little

bit in Escambia County. We get quite a few deer back in

here. You know if it's left alone-justrawhile:we"get-plenty

of -them-, ao iS ar ""tT0

I: I was looking at a map the other day in an outdoor magazine

that said this area of -Alabama was supposed to be one.of

the best deer-hunting areas in Alabama.

S: Well> there's quite a few deer.

I: Have you ever known anybody around here to hunt beavers,

trap beavers at all?

S: No, no. And I, sometimes I think that would be good if

somebody started. You know beaver have destroyed lots of





I: And they're getting back stronger and stronger in this


S: Stronger and stronger, yeah.

I: When you were trapping did you trap coons?

S: I used to trap coon and possum.

I: For what purpose, to eat them or sell their skins?

S: No, I'd sell the, you know you used to could take a, back

when I was trapping, at that time, there was a pretty good

demand for a coon hide, and all kinds of hides you could
s?^ AO\\aV( =
get $Z~8 for most any kind of coon hide then.

I: How many years ago was that when you were doing that?

S: Oh, that was back in the, in the 20s when I was trapping.

I was living in Monroe County. I haven't trapped any now

since I've been here. I might have put out a trap or two.

I: Were there any big buyers back at that time that had a

warehouse or anything like that?

S: No, you'd ship them. They had a few local buyers I mean

some of the local fellows used to buy them around here,

but they'd ship them to different companies.



I: Would you salt them down, or what would you do with them?

S: No, we'd just stretch them and let them dry.

I: Uh huh.

S: And it depends on your, -th4ifr your hide depends on, the

grade of it, how you prepared it.-moean,

I: Would you put them on board stretchers, ortack them-on or


S: Well a possum hide or something you would, and sometimes

you'd take a, take a coon hide and just tack it to the side

of the house. The proper way to stretch a coon hide then.

for some reason they wanted it stretched perfectly square.

I don't know why, the companies would want them perfectly

square. And you could get around the outer edge of that

hide, just cut you a little hole by the edge and take you

a green twig stick, or a reed cane and run it through

there, and get the thing, and then cut you some braces,

< 4ev gwe u orLt~ M i and you could get

them things...

I: So you'd stretch it in a kind of a frame made out of...?

S: You have it kind of in a frame, in a wood frame with the

green branches. And then you could 4i -one square.





I: And then when it dried out, you'd take it to a local buy-


S: Yes. Some of those hides, a first-grade.hideII've known

to sell as high as eight dollars.

I: For a coon hide?

S: For a coon hide, yeah.

I: What about deer hides, was there ever anybody buying deer k'Al

S: No, I never knew of anybody buying a deer hide There

used to be a big demand for skunk hides, ;possum hides,

wellopossum never was too much. Some of them went as high
O cO air 6L V- C, Lk V -Ce
as $2.00, but ordinarily about a dollar or $i what you'd

get for a possum hide back then.

I: Well right now for example, what do you do with your deer

hides, just throw them away?

S: Well most of the time they dop somebody will just, you know,

just throw them away.

I: Do you do your own butchering of the deer, or do you get

somebody to...?

S: Yeah, yeah, we just do our own butchering. And it's seldom

anybody wants a deer hide. I've talked severaltimes about




S: ... 41-Y g k e. ^A.i< fF and

have me a jacket made out of one.

I: Those are expensive items, those deer hide clothes.

S: Yeah.

I: The next sound heard is the sound of Mr. Taft Sagers

turkey call.


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