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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
Date: August 20, 1973
Subject: Winston Thead, Isabelle Thead
Transcriber: Sharon Harrington
P: Winston Thead and this is August 20, 1973. Winston, you
were saying that you were, you never finished school?
T: Yeah, I just went about seventh grade.
P: What was your reason for dropping out?
T: Well, one reason we, we didn't have the, I didn't have as
good of things as lots of the other kids. Had it hard all my
life, really. My mother was on welfare and we really didn't
have all the clothes and everything that the other kids had.
That was one thing, but, I guess I could of went on and took
it out if I really tried hard enough. Now, its .rea-JL -4,
P: When you were transferred to Atmore, what year was that?
T: Ah, I don't remember exactly, let's see, honey, do you
remember what year that was? When I started Atmore? I was
P: Well, how old are you now?
P: So that was, ah, must of been, what, about ten years ago,
when you 'transferred?
T: Yeah, about that.
P: Well, at that time, lets see, that would put it about 1963.
Going to school at Atmore was there any evidence of any preju-
dice against Indians still at that time? Do you think?
T: Ah, it seemed like it was, it was about all over with then, I
mean, you couldn't, I couldn't tell all that much about it, I
mean, as far as, prejudices against the Indians.
P: Kids ever make any jokes about being Indian or anything like
that or even good natured kind of kidding around?
T: No, not while I was going to there.
P: You were saying that, ah, you weren't sixteen when you
dropped out, that right?
T: That's right.
P: And not once anybody ever came here to your:house to try
and make you go to school, a truant officer or anything like
T: No, we, we didn't have that. We should of had it,lthough.
P: Well, now that the kids are in school now, do you think
they're more determined to finish school, than you were when
you were in school, or not?
T: Oh, it's hard to say, ah, I guess you have some that got
determination, but, you still got some playing hookey and
everything. I guess that's going to go on.
P: Ella-,4kc.^oun^ k -ON 1s w -^. you v/ o L.
T: Well, I think that would help a whole lot to get somebody
to come around and inquire about the kids, why they weren't
P: When you were going to school in Atmore, did you ever take
part in any athletics or was that, didn't they have any at
the junior high level?
T: We had football and everything. I never did take no
interest in it. Really, I didn't have the money to buy the
equipment and stuff like that.
P: Was there any integration at all when the school, when you
first started going to it, or was that before it?
T: They had, ah, a couple of colored boys in school.
P: In, ah,...
T: It was real hard for those guys, other boys they just,
some of them would just pick at 'em. 1Lk vjeT a-( coodA,
they were hit on the head several times with bricks and stuff
like that, they just kept on going. They really had determination
to go on. (Sigh)
P: As a, as a youngster growing up, you grew up here in
P: Did you ever give much thought about the fact that you
were Indian, that your people\were Indians and all, or do
you pay any attention to that, in any way?
T: Ah, yeah, I never really knew all that much about my
heritage, just what people have told me and...
P: Were you ever involved with Calvin McGee and the Indian
dancing and all?
T: No, I never did, ah, never did do like that. Any of it.
P: Did he ever try and get you to get into it?
T: A little bit, my brothers, they were dancing a good bit, but,
I never did do any of it.
P: How, how do people around here in Poyr Switch feel about
all that, you think? About Indian dancing?
T: /, well, the most of them, they sort of go along with it,
they, you know, its not, is ah, custom is in it, reservations,
and stuff like that.
P: Um-hum, um-hum. How long you been working at ?
T: This coming November it'll be three years.
P: What'd you do for all that time between the time you
dropped out of school and the time you started at
T: Well, I worked at this pickle shed for about four years
off and on, then, odds and ends. Whatever I could get to do the
P: What kinds of odds and ends are there to do around here
in this part of Alabama?
T: Well, that's just, it!-e&I hard work.
P: You work in the fields at all?
T: Field work and cut wood, just all hard work.
P: What was the pay like in the field work?
T: Think we was making four and five dollars a day and that
was good money.
P: I understand they're paying up to ten dollars and something .
T: That's real good.
P: So, it wasn't just, but just a few years ago after you dropped
out that it was only four and five dollars.
T: That's right, four and five dollars a day. You got out
there and worked from sun up til sundown, picking cotton,
chopping cotton, pulling weeds and o ^-v k ad oA-o(a
P: Did you ever go off, away from this immediate area, worked
in the fields like some of them have?
T: No, ah, I never did go any of these other states as far as
field work is concerned. Been off in other states doing other
work; went out in Texas and worked a while, Op -' e<-e i aA- -o
I came back, I didn't like it out there too good and I went down
in Florida. Went down there a while in this canning plant.
So, I haven't been around, too much. Just...
P: What part of Florida were you in?
T: Down in ah, Lake, Lake Wales.
P: Were there people that you knew from here down there?
T: Well, I had a cousin that was living down in rroS rooT, I
stayed with him a little bit, that was, there wasn't really
many people that I knew down there. I just went down there
to give it a try.
T: Lonesome and homesick, had to come back to Alabama, Poa-7rV-.
I don't know, ain't much here, but, once you get away from it,
you miss it.
P: Yeah. What is it, I've heard allot of people say that, what
is it, if you could just put it in to words, you think, that
people miss when they leave here.
T: I just don't know what. I don't know, I guess just t-+
peaceful atmosphere and, people that you know and relatives
and all that you growed up with. You just miss them when you
go away to another state or something. I know a lot of
boys that go to other states and all, and make big money but.
they're not satisfied. Some make as high as five or six
dollars an hour, but, they'd rather come back down here and
work for, say, two and a half an.hour. You know, and be at
home, really, this is the only home that they'll ever really
have cause they can't stay away.
P: Well, how'd you happen to get your job at .
T: Ah, I just kept going up there and inquiring about a job.
Well, one of the guys said, the personnel manager told one of
the guys, said, just hire the man and get me off -m back, but,
he was just kidding, you know, I just, at that time, I was
trying to get a job, but, they didn't have an opening for me.
There just came an opening and I got it.
T: Since then, they've expanded and everything, its real easy
to get a job there now.
P: Ah-hah. You think you'll stick with that company for
quite a while to come?
T: Yeah, I tell ya, its the best thing that I 've come about, one's
the best job I've ever had, to be at home, too.
P: Did your wife ever work around here?
T: No, really. We got married before she finished school
and you know how young people are. Once they get that marrying
in their heads, I think, I don't know, they just gotta get
married right then.
P: Yeah, yeah. Your wife, is your wife Indian? Have Indian
T: No, ah, her daddy might of had just a little bit in him,
but, ah, not very much.
P: Where'd you all meet?
T: Well, just over in that little town of BraH-,
P: Bnr-tt, is that where she's from?
T: Yeah, she's from (rca-+.
P: What took you down to (Icft, to run into her?
T: Well, you know how it is... just riding around.
P: Um-hum. What is it for the young people of this community
to do, now, as far as, any kind of activity?
T: Well, I don't know, the boys, they get together and, ah,
play football and stuff like that sometime..
T: Go swimming. Most of the time they're just out with the
other kids, you know...
T: ...doing whatever they do. You want to say something, hum?
(talking to crying child)
P: Speak up. When you were a, a, from that size on up. Do you
remember hearing like, your mother and other people talking
about the old days very much?
T: Oh, yeah. I still remember a'lot of them old days.
P: Tell me about them
T: Yeah. When we used to have to cook on that wood stove,
light we had was that kerosene lamp.
P: You remember that?
T: Yeah, I remember that. I tell you, that, today if we had to
go back to that I don't see how we could really see with it, but,
I guess we could. Boy those things, those old kerosene lamps
are just as bright as electric bulb, light bulb...
T: ...but, you get out of them old days and you don't see
how you could really make it, how you made it...
P: Um-hum. Um-hum.
T:: ... but, that's what a lot of folks says back in them good
old days, well, didn't have all the bills and things that
you have this day and time. That way, they, you really didn't
have nothing to fight over. Still seem like you enjoyed it,
P: When you were growing up like that, were you any poorer
that other families around here or were you about average, do
T: About average, then, as far as I could tell,
P: You say your mother was on welfare then?
T: Yeah. My daddy, he, left my mother; she was pregnant
with my younger brother. You can picture from that how hard
the times were for us. We4had barely enough to survive, you
know, but we made it. We had enough, we didn't go hungry or
anything. We was living in poverty all the way up.
P: What, I've noticed that things around here seem to have
gotten; I realize there's still people that live pretty
hard still today, but, for the most part, people in the
community here livin' pretty well. When exactly do you think
the major change came about in the way people lived out here?
kar-dA 4o s-l
T: Ah, vj-L tt not-sure exactly. Well, I'd more or less say
its just, you know, gradually, more or less, than just a certain
time. People have just gotten better jobs and pi^ oD +k
r, that they'd better, bettered themselves.
P: Um-hum. I guess things like the carpet factory and other
factories around here have been a help in that.
T: Yeah, its' really helped out. I know
its not the best place to work, but, its really helped a lot
of people out, then when the carpet factory come in. For Atmore,
it would of been better off, I hear people say, they've turned
down a lot of these big ah, companies. This ah, con-, container
paper mill company up in reUJ4fbn, but it could of been built here
in Atmore and ah, several other big companies that they've
been turned away with, they went to other, ah, other towns
and built their factory.
P: I've heard that from other people, too. What, what, why
do you think they're turning away?
T: I I don't know ah, I just can't figure a town out like that,
whether it was scared of pollution or scared of the big company
taking over the town or really what.
P: Could the fear of, in any way could it be tied up with any
fears of unions or anything like that, you think?
T: I don't know, whether it would, ah, whether that would
have any effect on or not.
P: You say you weren't involved in ah, the ah, you weren't
involved in the Indian dancing or anything like that. As
a kid growing up did you pay much attention to the Indian
money cases and all that or...
T: No, I'd just hear my folks talk about it, you know.
T: Well, really we were, what you'd call way down in the woods.
We didn't communicate with the other kids too much.
P: Where were you living?
T: About, oh, its about two or three miles back down in the
woods where the Chief lived then.
P: Are you talking about the place up behind the old place,
the prison farm there.
T: Yeah. Um-hum.
P: Oh, you lived there for awhile.
T: Yeah, we lived there til we moved out here.
P: Now, that's called old, is that Dave McGee.
T: Old Dave McGee.
P: Dave McGee... did you have a farm out there, at all?
T: Well, ah, my daddy, my grand-daddy he farmed it til, a
good while, he got to where he couldn't get around too good
then he started getting you know,but, he cleared
up all that land out there. He cleared up a lot of the State
land out there and they took it back. They took it from him,
P: Was that in your time they took it from him?
T: That was before my time, you know, I hI/e my uncles and
aunts so we can talk about it, but, really, the land should of
T: Like a lot of this, the people that are coming in, they're
taking our land away from us, and ah, they just LovMe, the land
away that he declared the stump proper and they jut put a fence
in and said this is my land. Well, it was just as much, in
my book, my grand-daddy's as it was theirs.
P: Of course, and they made it part of the prison farm.
T: Now, I don't know how many acres it was that my grandfather
cleared over, ut, and the part, the other part that we were
living on, back this side of the fence, St. Regis, yoJ-noOu C J s o I
Scott, Scott Paper Company owns it now. And ah, really, I
believe by rights if we would of stayed living there, they
kept, it used to belong to Algiers and they'd come up
and threaten my grandfather and say you're going to have to leave,
this is, this is our land and we're going, we're goin' plant
trees, we're goin' set out trees, my grandfather, he never would
leave, you know, but, by rights, I don't believe they could
of ever made us move. I believe in, really, what they call
homestead. If it was anybody's it should of been his and
since then we've moved and they've let my mother, they'd rent it
to her to subrent and she's gotten just a little bit of money
off of it. Since .then they've told her that they couldn't
rent it to her no longer; they were going' to plant a
T: But, really, in my book, that land was just as much
grandfather's as it was those people, 'cause, they just come
out and looked to me what they done, just, grabbed up all the
land they wanted and said this is ouf land. But, really, I
think that land was just as much ours as is, as it was theirs.
P: Well, after you all moved off of there, was there ever
any other families living back, after you all moved in here?
T: No, nobody ever lived back up there where we lived.
T: But, this is my mother, my last year, no, my mother's last
year of renting it, and they goin' take it back over.
P: The ttate is?
P: Or the Scott Paper Company?
T: Yeah, they're goin' to set out trees.
P: Um-hum. But she's renting it out right now?
T: Yeah, sub-renting.
P: Um-hum... sub-renting. What's she doing with it then, just,...?
T: Um-m. She's renting it to this, ah, Bill Brown, over here.
P: I see, I see.
T: But, you know. I can sit back and I think about how
the Indian people were treated and everything and I think we
deserve everything that's coming to us, as far as, this lcd .
concerned, cause, this land it was ours to start with you know,
and the people just came over and made claims on what was theirs,
what they wanted, I mean, you know, just, I believe it was just
as much ours as, or more than theirs.
P: And not all of that wasn't ancient history as you say?
Some of it happened lately.
T: No. That's right. And ah, especially when, when ah,
when the hard working people like my grandfather would of,
would get out there and clear up something. I think it should
T: They're so damned about how you'd come up there
and try to threaten grandfather off, run him off,vyou know.
Said, well, you're going to have to move Davey, says we're
goin' p't trees up in there, kept on staying o)-r -er .
He was a hard working man,
P: And that was Dave McGee?
T: Dave McGee.
P: Was your grandmother living, that you can remember at that
T: I think my grand, grandmother died, after twins were born.
T: And that's my, Aunt Eva and Aunt Evelyn.
T: Seems like my mother was bound, with the sickness in the
family and my, seems like my mother was down with the measles, or
something like that, and then my mother, she, my grandmother,
she got so weak and everything waiting' on them to sickness
come over, I think she got pneumonia,..
T: ...and I think that's what killed her, pneumonia, they didn't
have, back in them days, they didn't have penicillin...
P: Um-hum. Yeah.
T: ...They might of had it but, it was so hard to come by,
you know, and if they'd of had medicine that we have today, back
in them days, she'd a probably, maybe been living today, you
know. But that's what carried her out, was that pneumonia.
T: I tell you it was a dreadful thing back in those days. If
you got pneumonia there was hardly no hope for you.
P: Um-hum. Now, were you all living down there when you quit
T: No, ah. We were living out here.
P: In the spot where your mother lives now?
P: Um-hum.....(Long pause) Yeah, I guess it was hard to stay
in school in another state.
P: Well, you mentioned that you just didn't have a lot of things
like clothes and so forth...
P: It really made a difference to you at the time?
T: Yeah, it did cause, when you didn't have, what, say, two
pairs of pants and two shirts, it would of made a difference,
you'd have to wear one shirt for a couple days and wash it out
and wear another one a couple days, three days, and you didn't
really have the money to buy your books and everything like,
P: Well, you had to buy your own books at County
T: A lot of 'em, you know. Test books and stuff like that.
P: When you all were living down there on the old Dave McGee
place, ah, what church did you go to?
T: We ah, most of the time, we just come out here to this one.
P: T-o Friendly Holders, that church out here, so that's
been the church you grew up in.
T: Yeah. Its been here a long time, ever since my time. I
guess its been standing there now for as long as I remember, must.be
about twenty-five, thirty years right now.
P; Oh, I guess you're going to try to encourage your girls to
stay in school when they come home.
T: Yeah, you know, a person always wants better things for his
children than he had, you know.
P: Right. Right.
T: Think perhaps everybody feels like that, no matter what the
race or color is...
P: That's right, that's right.
T: They want a little better for their children.
P: Are you a deacon in the church up there?
T: Yeah, I was, but I'm not now.
P: Is that by election or what?
P: Um-hum. Well, you still go to that church up there?
T: We do sometimes.
P: Um-hum. Winston's just been telling me about the young
folks view of things around here. I think you're good to..
What, wht do you think is going to happen to this, I know
there are a lot of younger people unlike yourself, 4ta are
moving off, a lot of them come back but, what do you think
is going to happen to this community in the future, things
always going to be here or'what?
T: Yeah, a lot like it here. I feel like the biggest majority
of the young people are going to s--> right round in here.
I feel like its going, ah, the community's going to keep
building up younger people getting married and
building houses aan
P: You plan to stay here anyway?
T: Yeah. I don't, unless something comes up in the future
that T have to go look for another job somewhere else, into
another town or something.
P: But your field work and pulp wood and all that, that's all over,
those days are over for you?
T: Yeah, I was, cause, you can't never say what you're going
to go back to, you know.
P: When you were cutting paper wood, ah, were you working for
somebody or working for yourself?
T: Working for somebody else.
P: Who were you working for?
T: Ah, it's hard to ou know, working, working for this,
cousin of mine, James Rollin, and first one another, mostly who
ever needed you, you stayed a day or two, you know.
P: Um-hum. So, you were just working on a wage bracket, they'd
pay you so much.
P: How did you pick that up? I've been out paper wooding with
some of them, at times, at one time, and there's more to it
than you'd think at first. How'd you, how'd you learn the...
T: Well, its just the, its just hard work and you just gotta
watch, watch out and be careful, its just a dangerous job.
P: Did you ever do any of that while you were still in school?
T: No, ah, I mostly did, did it after I quit.
T: Just hard work, tell you, the people that work out in the
woods deserve everything that they get.
P: I'm going to agree to that. (Long pause)
P: Mrs. Thead, let me ask you then. When did your mother die
and what was the circumstances of that?
I: She died in 1934.
P: And you were how old?
I: I was fourteen years old.
P: And they didn't have penicillin back in those days?
I: No, sir. They didn't have it then. Not as I know of, cause,
they done the best they could for her. They give her some kind
of tablets, but, they said if they didn't work, you know, that,
there wouldn't be no more hopes for her, you know, and...
P: Did the doctor come out to the house ?
I: Yes, sir. Dr. Keety.
P: Where did, where'd he practice, where's his office?
I: In Atmore.
P: In Atmore? Can you remember, I've talked to some of the
old ones, like Isaac, and so forth, about different kinds of
medicines people used to make for themselves out of the woods?
Do you remember much about people doing that kind of thing?
I: Ah, yes I remember when my momma and daddy used to go down
from ar house and, you know, they go up Yellow ROOT and we'd
sell it to these older, we'd sell it to this man, you know,
and he said he would make medicine out of it. you
P: Um-hum. Where'd that man come from?
I: Lets see. He was, George Shirley was his name, I believe...
P: Was he a doctor, himself, George Shirley?
I: No, I don't think he claimed to be a doctor, ut, he just
claimed he was getting it for medicine, they would let him have
it, you know.
P: Um-hum. Um-hum. But...
I: They claimed that was a really good medicine and, you know, it
grew down from out household place, you know, ah, this Shirley,
claimed it was good for lots of things, sore eyes and different
things, you know, he used to use some of it, you know,ah.
P: Did he? Ah-hah. Were there any other medicines like that you
can remember? Besides Yellow Root?
I: My mother used to give us, ah, go in the woods and dig up
fever grass to give to us-for a purgative medicine.
P: She would, hah. Any others you can think of?
I: Some kind of pole, dollar weed, I remember digging it up.
P: What was the dollar, weed good for?
I: It was good for, like 'a, stomach trouble.
P: Stomach trouble? Um-hum.
I: She used to have us to dig it up for our twin sisters, you know,
when they were little. We'd go in' the woods and try, and dig
it up for them, you know. We had a big leaf point 1 -_e--- .
P: Ah-hah. What part would you use for the medicine, the leaf,
or the root?
I: We'd use the root, you know, dig up the root and ah, put
it in water and they said it was good
for our stomach trouble, upset stomach, I believe, diarrhea,
I believe that's what...
P: Were there any other medicines you can think of?
I: Well, not one off hand. Might of been some more, I can't
think of them right off...
P: Back in not, I guess, it wasn't too many years ago, a lot
of those people k2-e- were born with, I don't know, you call
them women, or midback women, midwives.
I: Midwives, yes most all of them was born, you know, used to
use the midwives, you know, they didn't...
P: Who was the main midwife, right through this area? Around
Porf Switch and....
I: Well, there were two or three of them, that was, Ann Eliza
Timm, she was one, she lived over in ville and ah, ...
P: Was she a white lady or...?
I: She was a colored lady...
P: Colored lady, ah-hah.
I: ...and ah, 3-7o(e
P: C*irin's wife, ah-hah. Ah-hah. Any others you can think of
that were midwives?
I: I know another one, but, I can't think of her name, not
now. What gets me, when my older son was born...ah, Slay, I
believe, Slay, was her name. She was one,too.
P: And, was she a white lady?
P: One thing I've wondered about when people were born with
midwives, was that, what did they do about birth certificates,
did the midwife fill out a birth certificate, for, like did
your parents, id they have birth certificates or not?
I: N I don't think they had birth certificates back then,
and, you know, I don't know how it come about, the birth
certificates, I don't know.
P: I've talked to different people, talking about babies,
and they said, used to be a custom of carrying a baby around
I: Yes, sir. They did, you know, 4 c..y-ed 4+--y cd4
first one that would carry them around the house would be who
they would pick after, you know. Yeah.
P: One thing I haven't figured out, is, how would you pick the
person that would carry your baby around?
I: Well, just who ever you thought, you know, who would carry
him out, you know, that's who would.
P: Would the mother decide who they wanted to carry the baby?
How would that work?
I: Yes, ah, who ever told them that they wanted them to carry
him out they would, you know, let 'em carry him out.
P: How old is the baby, usually, when they...
I: It was mighty young before anyone could, get hold, before ,
anybody would carry him out of the house.
P: Did you ever have that done to any of your children?
I: Yessum. I remember my son, Leila Rollin, carried
him out, wrapped him up in a half-coat and carried him out,
around the house wanted, she asked the Lord to make a
preacher out of him, then she carried him in the house.
P: When the, somebody carried your baby, did the mother go
along, too or did they...?
I: No, they just would carry them out themselves, you know, ah,
the mother used to say, you know, that different women carried
her boys out, you know, one woman carried one of them out
and she was really a smart woman and, you know, she thought
she could be, the taken after.
P: Does anybody do that still, you think? You have somebody
carry your babies out?
I: I think once in a while they do it,'cause, I think my other
son down there, I believe, he carried his little baby out. I
heard he did, I don't know the story.
P: Well, how does that work now that babies are being born in
I: You can't do that...cause, the first one, you don't know who
the first one....I don't think they do it too much now, like they
did, use back in the old days, you know, when all the
P: The other day you were telling me about, ah, you all used
to use a different kind of broom, you thought than anybody else.
Talk about that again, if you would?
I: To get right on, ah, yes, I don't know if any of the rest.
of em use a broom like they used to sweep with or not. Most
of them use their own make, with their broom hanging off the
straw on the stick, but, we used to just go out in'the woods
and cut a, a stem of pine top, just a regular pine, green
pine top and we'd sweep our floor with it.
P: Did you have to trim it off at all or you just?
I: We'd trim it up a little bit, to want to get it looking
good and we had to sweep our floor, that's the only way we had
to sweepin'our'floor. We'd rinse the floor with it, youokow,
I don't see how we got it rinsed, but we poured water on it,
and we got it rinsed somehow.
P: Well, did you or yourself, were you born and did you go off
on the Dave McGee place over there?
I: sir. Until we moved out here, you
know. V-s ea-+, c.6004 o4vAr+- -- 05 r4,,
P: One thing I wonder I, I didn't know who it was that had
lived there before, but, even last summer I had heard people
talking about the Dave McGee place and...
I: Yeah, that was our little home.
P: I noticed that there are some really nice peach trees out
there that have a lot of peaches. Were those your trees, those
peach trees up there?
I: Oh, is there some up there now?
P: There sure are,
I: Well, they'd come up mostly, we used to have a peach trees,
you know, dic ( oso but, then none of them had come up, I guess.
We just had good peach trees up there. That was really our, o r
/ good home. We was all raised up there.
P: Was there always a prison farm up there that you can remember
I: I remember, best I remember, the year it come up there, best
I can remember was, I believe they,said it was 1929. I mean,
I was nine years old and I 'member I see the prison men
working when I was a little girl, but, it might of been there
a year before th .
P: Um-hum. I wonder about, did you all ever have any trouble
with the prisoners, living that close to a farm, did any of
them ever escape and come around to your place or anything?
I: Yes, we've looked at'em sometimes out in the field, sometimes,
we looked at em sometimes leaving, they cross right by my door.
P: Were you scared?
I: We was pretty scared. Me, my sister, and my daddy was in
the house they, but, they didn't, it was so close to the
prison, you know, they can, and they, ah, they didn't try to
hurt us, they just went on.
I: And we saw something,
leaving and escaping one time, you know, and, but they soon got
him back, notified the warden, you know.
P: But, you lived there for a lot of years after the prisoners
I: Yes, we lived long time there, we, we didn't think nothing
could hurt us, yov ->o-3 we were throwed up there, and we
P: When you were a girl were other families living out there, too,
or was it just your mother and daddy and your family?
I: There wasn't nobody living there but us..
P: You were the only ones.
I: ...yes, that was about a mile off, you know, how far it is.
P: Ah-hah. Ah-hah.
I: I know, we were the only family living there, you know, and
P: Farming back in there?
I: Um-hum. Yessum. My daddy cleared that land, you know, we
farmed it, my oldest brother would do the we would do
the hoeing, picking cotton and things like that, you know.
P: Where did you go to school from there?
I: I had to walk and go to school. I didn't have a bus to
ride on. I had to walk everyday almost to school, in houses,
we didn't have a school to go in and out the door.
P: Did you go to Bell Creek or ....
I: Yeah, and the first school I went to is across the street,
Bell Creek school. We had to walk from my old place and maybe
cut across a footlog.
I was a little girl, and ie and my, I almost fall in the creek,
my brother would help me, have to help me get across that log,
to go to school. We'd be late getting there, but we'd go on.
That was the first school and then we went to another house
back down here, a dwelling house, you know.
P: Back down where, maam?
I: Close to where Calvin Mcee lives, on the hill, we went
to school in a little house on the hill and the house, the
school house got burned down, somebody burned it, I guess or
had a fire someway.
I: Then we went to school back cross the railroad and went to
P: That's right down here, you mean?
I: A little small house, right cross the railroad, it was
just a little house and I went to school in it. I went to
school around here where our church is, and we used to have
school there, you know.
P: Was that when the Episcopal Church was there?
I: Yes, we went to school in that, in that church. That church
was, he name was St. John's Episcopal Church. We had a lot
of happy days there, playing ball and going to school.
P: What happened that, that they, people stopped going to
St. Johf's That change at the Episcopal Church just sort of
died down, what happened to make that happen?
I: Well, they all went a better way ah, reckon they ah, guess
they found out that wasn't the right church. I reckon they
learned it 7.
I: A lot of them just quit o40f4 I guess going, they had to
do something with the church and they sold the church and...
P: Did everybody sort of quit going at the same time or, or
was it just gradual, one after another?
I: I guess it was just kind of gradually, they used to be a
member, you know, that's before I knowed about koli,. I
\o -o7 Y -0o\. St
mean, I knowed about Hdies but we just got into
that church, but we,found out a better way to live.
P: Do you remember when there was a Baptist church at Bell
I: A Baptist Fhurch?
P: A Baptist Church.
I: Ah, yes I remember. There was one church, I guess, it was a
Baptist. We used to go and have a big meeting and have dinner
there and we'd go out there when:T was a small girl, we'd go
and eat dinner, me and my sisters, and we'd come back.
P: And that was Baptist there?
I: Yes, I think it was, you know, best I remember.
P: Now, but, you say, when you went to the Episcopal church
you had heard about Holiness before, you knew about the Holiness
Church before that?
I: Yes, I think I had, you know, and this small girl my momma
used to kept, the Holiness church. We used to go to0Arber ,
that's out here across, back here, and we'd walk from my old home
place to that rber.
P: Is.your rber at Bell Creek?
I: Yes. Across, back over here.
I: Holiness School, and we walked and we'd be midnight getting
back home C.Y"sidr lo ^C ^'e vca-. tC .
P: Well, what is it exactly. I don't/really know much about
Holiness belief, myself, what is it that's better about
Holiness belief, in your opinion?
I: Well, ah, people have to be born again of the Spirit, you
know, born, have a new birth, you know, where we understand,
you know, to have to be born of the Spirit, you know.
P: Um-hum. And the Episcopal church doesn't teach that?
I: No, sir. They don't. They seem like they ain't come out
from an under world, you know, they have worldly things.
1 C\Jde r
The Bible says to come out from among-the-world, he separated
people, you know.
P: Um-hum. Um-hum.
I: We believe, you know, you have to live a really Christian
life, you know, to be born again, born of the Spirit and, to be
able to see the Lord. Some churches don't teach that, you know,
they claim, they let, they just let people go on in the way
they're living, you know, like that, but, we don't believe it like
that, you know, you have to come out from it.
P: You have to become the changed person?
I: Changed, be born again, like a baby's born one time, you
know, in this world, but you have to be born, the Bible told,
Jesus told Nicodemus, you have to be born again, you know,
You ever read that? Well, that's what it was meaning, you know,
to be born again, born of the Spirit, you know, when you become
a Christian, you know, you can't have your sins, well, and a, be
born again, cause, you're born of that Spirit. The Bible says
if you don't have that Spirit of Jesus then you're none of his.
And that's the way we believe in it...
P: And it was when people, ah, turned to Holiness that, that's,
when they stopped going to the Episcopal (hurch.
It Yes. Yeah, they turned here. They all went to Holiness.
OL/ Ct C cc-
Brush $rber's, you know, we used to have an old Brush rber
back down there, up where Calvin McGee lives, you know. This
place, back up this way in the woods. That was a, where we
used to go to church; at the old rush rber we used to have
some mighty good services there. Well, mostly, I think the
most of the Baptists ot Bell Creek, you know, the ones you were
telling me about, this Baptist Church, that's only one I
remember 'em talking about how it was back in olden times,
you know, until \aA-c- on til they learned about Holiness, you
P: You remember them ever talking about if there was ever a
time, ah, before the Holiness at Hog Fort, was there ever a
church at Hog Fort before the Holiness?
I: Oh, I don't remember ever being one down there, you know,
besides Holiness. I've heard of, cause May said
he used to follow his daddy down through the fields and said
they would have service out on under a tree, you know, and
his daddy, but, I don't know it they called his-selt Holiness.
I guess so. I remember him saying that, you know, used to
follow his daddy and they'd have benches under, maybe just be
him, following along with him, they'd have prayer and they'd
come back home.
P: I think she wants to play, is that alright there?
Play. (Speaking to the baby) When you when you first started
going, ah, in the Holiness, did they have those kinds ot meetings
that they, that they do now, where different Holiness churches
get together from all over the place and you'd go to other
churches? Did you ever, say, go to Holiness churches in Atmore?
Back when you were first in Holiness.
I: NO, it was all just full all together, all, not divided
like it is now.
P: Um-hum. I was thinking about, like, the Fifth Sunday Meetings
and those things, have they always had those?
I: Ah, not always, but, then they didn't hardly have...
P: When did they, when did they start having those?
I: Well, I don't remember how many years, ah, Brother Will
Pretwell usually carried on, you know, been a good many years,
I guess since he started having them, but I don't remember how
P: Um-hum. Um-hum.
I: ...but, way on back they didn't have no Fifth Sunday Meeting
where everybody just, they wouldn't say Fifth Sunday Meeting,
they would just have a big dinner to the rber. I remember
its been ,c bedown there a long time, /r'S-- /rber, they'd
have a big dinner, but, they didn't hardly have no church
talk to ____ They'd have just this big dinner
together, you know, call it dinner on the ground and everybody
enjoyed it, you know.
P: Before Brother Mace, who was your Pastor?
I: I'll have to think, this is the first one Jr c- our /astor.
See, one, well, we had C.C. Johnson, then we had, ah, Casey,
Jack Casey was awhile, and I don't remember what one of them
was before Brother Mace.
P: Now, I never knew him, but I've heard people say that
Brooks Rollin was a Pastor at one time. Was he a/astor
of this church up here or another one?
I: He used to preach, a long time ago. There was a back the
little church, back there on a little old hill where Ed
Caracus lived and he used to have a little church there, you
know and BrookslRollin preached down here, you know. Well, I
don't know if they ever considered he was a Pastor, but, he
preached there, different places, you know.
F: one thing I wondered about and this would be something that
I really couldn't, I could ask, but I think I'd get a different
kind of answer, and Brother Mace,'cause he is the man. I
just wondered it it has made any difference to the congregation
having one of your own people as your pastor? Did you ever think
about that at all?
I: Well, he's, he's mighty good, I mean, we have really, he
really has preached us the word, but, I don't know, he's
preached a mighty long time for us, and ah, I don't know,
I know I thinks lots of him and I like to hear him, some of them
might not, I don't know, you know, the Bible said ah,....
P: I was just wondering if people, excuse me for interrupting,
I: ...says ah, somewhere its a, I don't know how to just quote
it like the Bible says, but, it has, is without honor in his own
country, something like that, I can't quote it just right ott.
P: Um-hum. Um-hum. A man is without honor, ah, ah-hah.
I: Yeah. So he is our people, you know and...
P: I just wondered about whether, whether it had any effect
that you, made you feel like the church was more your own
or something like that than when you had somebody from the
outside here as a pastor?
I: Well, it, I just, I just like to hear him.
F: Um-hum. At least you got him close at hand to call on...
I Yes, and .,
P: The other pastors did they live out here, or did they live in
I: No, they was lived a good ways, you know, and um, we need
prayer or anything, well, we can call for him and he's ready
anytime, night or day, you know, to come and pray for anybody
when they call on him, you know. He's mighty faithful, I guess,
P: Back in the early days of when Holiness first started, now,
you said that he used to go with his daddy, Lee, was that Lee
I: Yes. Lee McGee.
P: Um-hum. Was Lee McGee ever a preacher or, or leader of the
Holiness Church at all?
I: Ah, no he was just a good Christian man far as I know. I've
heard him talk about following L" ^S Sto this church, I mean,
service, where they'd have it under the trees down there, back
P: Did he ever lead the /rush $rber services at all, Lee McGee?
I: No, sir. I don't remember him leading, in my time, you know,
I'd come up, I just heard him talking about it, he'd follow him
down there and they'd put, have church under this tree. But,
I don't remember much about him.
F: I asked you before about what the older people before your
time, about what they might have to say about religion.
Can you remember much at all, about the older people sitting
around and talking about days gone by, when they were youngsters:
the kind of things they'd talk about?
I: Well, I don't know too much about how it is.
P: You mean, your daddy get when you were a little girl,
did they get the children around and tell you stories or anything
I: Not too much, you know. He didn't tell like that
I: Some of them would at night, but, there's a man, Mr.
Olimouster would tell scary, different ones wbuld tell ah,
scary things in the night, you know, different ones about
digging money. and things like...
P: Now, can you can you remember just even the parts of any of
those stories they used to tell'
I: No, sir. I'd hate to try.
r: Were they supposed to be true stories orY
I: That's what they were sippoee, you know, and when they did
get money they would see things, you know.
P: What kinds of things would they see?
I: Ah, we called them you know.
e: And they'd go out to dig money?
I: Yes, and I told them to talk things like that, you know, but,
I don't know whether there would be anything to it or not.
F: Did you ever hear them talk at all about the, the Indian
Wars and what Len McGee did or anything like that?
I: Ne, sir, they didn't remember much about him. I don't guess.
I mean, I didn't hear lem talk much about him, some of the older
ones might of knew him, you know.
F: Did you ever hear any of the older ones, ah, talking' the
Indian language at all? Were there any of them that, the real old
I: Most of them ones on the hill could talk in the Indian
language, you know. Like the ones from Oklahoma, you know, they
would, did, learn the England, the real England language, you
P: There weren't any just words and things they would say
sometimes or Indian,....
I: Well, they say some kind of a words, you know, ^-hdT words
I guess you call them.
P: They call them what?
I: Oh, I mean, you say words -AeJ like any word I guess.
P: Like what, how do you mean that? You mean the way they would
say their words, is that what you're talking about, or?
I: Yes. My daddy had a few words, you know, that he'd speak
right off and he'd call it lang, he'd call it language, you know.
I: they change, you know.
P: Um-hum. Um-hum.
I: Different words, you know, they would say, but they didn't
say A-- __ _. The Indian language, you know hardly
wasn't any of them real full-blooded Indians, I don't guess.
P: Did you ever get up around the Indians at Huxford, at all,
when you were a girl growing up? Did you ever go to any church
meetings up there or anything?
I: Not too much. I have been to and back, but, I
hadn't been, go too much up there. I member some Indians
come by the homes and all when I was a little girl and they
spent the night. hTre was no-beome, we couldn't stand,
understand them. I was a small girl and they, they, me and
my mother was downtown at my grandmother's and these Indians
come by in all big cars and they'd ask my daddy if they could
spend the night there,.you know, and they put up a tent and
we went on to bed that night, but, next morning they left.
We couldn't understand them and they brought a little, hot
little hog for my daddy to eat and they just throwed him in
the fire and, and ah, got the hide off of 'em, like that, you know,
and cooked him there and I remember I was a little girl and I
went out of bed with my brother to see them. We couldn't
understand them, they were4just talking and we couldn't hardly
understand them, you know. Said they were from Oklahoma and
they just passing through, that's when the main road was by the
house, the main highway was by the house.
P: The main highway to McCullogh, you mean?
I: To Atmore.
I: It was the main highway where we lived over there and
across that creek, called the Black Shire highway.
F: I see, um-hum. Um-hum. And, and it wasn't paved at that time
I: No, it sure wasn't.
t: And they came all the way from Oklahoma and they were
I: Theys, I don't know what they was passing through for, but,
I remember they had lots of cars, they came in lots of cars
and they come by and spent the night. That night.
i: Were they, ah,...
I: They claimed it was one big family. I knowed,,,
P: Did they ever say what their business was? Were they
working or some religion?
I: I don't know cause I don't know. They claim the women
telled fortunes and things.
r: They didn't say what their business was?
I: No, sir. They just asked us about spending the night
in the back of our house
F: Well, did they have a regular tent or was it a tepee, likeY
I: It might have been a tepee, I was pretty small then and
I don't remember.
P: They weren't gypsies were they?
I: They could of been. I don't remember could of been, 'cause
we thought they were Indians, they might of been.
P: They said they were Indians?
I: 1 just remember now. We thought they was Indian, I guess,
but, they could of been gypsies. I don't know for sure.
P: But, they claimed, they said they were from Oklahoma?
I: Best I can remember seem like they, you know. I was pretty
F: They talked in a language you couldn't understand?
I: Yes. They talked in a different language, you know.
F: But your, your daddy was nice to them and let them stay.
I: Yes, sir. I remember we was down to our grandmother's
and we saw them coming through and he had let them stop
there, you know, and spend the night.
F: Well, did they have big new cars orY
I: Yes. Best I can member, you know, they was seemed like
big long cars.
P: I hadn't realized that that where you lived where the Dave
McGee place, that was the main road to Atmore from, from
northh ot here you say.
I: Yeah, -t c-O-Ve- cLcJ- -(rJv-- Ur:.Lft' 4
F: Was that what was sometimes called the Stage Coach Road,
is that the one that they sometimes called the Stage Coach
Road or was that anotherY
I: I don't think that was that one, the main, main, we always
called the Black Shire Highway, you know.
F: Well, did you get a lot of people passing by on that road,
that would stopY
I: O, there wa lots of people go on, there was lots of
traffic on that road and mailman may travel it and all.
P: Was most ot the trattic from cars or was it mule and wagon
at that time?
I: estr5 1, it was old cars, you know, old make or cars and
I had wagons, too. Mostly wagons would go, go to town in wagons,
too, my mother and dad used to go, we'd go and they'd stay all
day and maybe be after dark coming back in the wagon, you know,
go to town and stay all the day and come back. We'd be glad
when we get back home to come home, we'd stay all day in the
P: I noticed that along that road there, now, now anyways,
there's quite a tew berries, were there always been a lot
of berries growing out in that, blackberries and things?
I: blackberries. Oh, yes, sir. Theys been a good many.
P: Did you all use those much to eat when you were growing
up and can them or anything like that?
I: Ah, yes/ sir. We canned some ot 'em and a...
F: Were there any other foods that you ate besides blackberries
I: No. I don't remember 'em. .much more. Might of been.
F: Let me ask you one more question about those old days. Do
you remember something called eofe", when you were...
I: xeah, I reckon I do. I know that used to make it for us.
Ravy Gravens would make a pot and we'd call it sofkfe.
F: Tell me how she made it.
I: Well, she put some corn and beat it up fine, you know,
and ah, she'd cook it in a pot, maybe put seasoning in it and
we d be glad when she got it cooked and give us some or it,
you know. 'Cause she would beat it up and she would, um,
get this sift it, and she would get some or this, what we
call it coal flour and we'd eat that while she sifted and hollered
and she, you know to cook the rest ot it right.
P: What would she beat it up in'
I: Oh, just anything she could get to beat it up, you know,
what would be, up, something heavy like, she'd get maybe, ah,
an iron tin and beat it up,
P: Did you ever see her beat it up in ah, ah, end or a log,
hollowed out or anythingY
I: No, that was before my time. I've heard of 'em talk about
the beat up the meal, the corn in this ah, I've heard ot that,
f: She just beat it up on the, on the table or something ?
I: beat it up in something, maybe a can or something. I don't
P: And the coal flour was the stuff that stayed in when she
sifted or the stutt that came through;
I: Come out ot it, she'd sitt that out, she wouldn't cook it
all in the softe, together and we would, we would hang around
and she would give us some of that to eat and we'd eat that.
F: And.you all really liked that, huhY
I: Yes, we liked that stuff.
P: Have you ever heard of a dish called Lazy Jack?
I: No, that's one ot them I don't know.
.: I just wondered it that was another name tor it.
I: Might. That's all I know is sotk-e, that's what they would
call it, we, we just call it what, what they told us it was.
F: Well, let me ask you one last question, this is just, just
tor your, your opinion now. What do you think is goin' to be
in, in the future for the Ureek Indian people 6t this area, whats
going to happen in the future, you think to this, this community
ot Creek Indian people?
I: Well, I wouldn't know what, what to say. Hope that they
1 t O t
get the rest or our money, one thing, cr.e-u&C.e i; fr hAs
/ get, that they would have some more CorvitAo o-S but, we
just hope the Lord -ill help us to get it.
o ftL o -L c
r: Well, what do you think the-taw some or things that have
started in recent years like the Indian dancing and all those
things, that some or the youngsters are doing?
I: Well, I don't, don't know too much about that cA\ V-\aJe- OJL_
I don't tool muci t that. I can't tell much about tX.
F: une other thing I wanted to ask you about, I heard a lot
ot people speak ot Mcuee iieid and I sort or know where that is,
.F a A-Y-o (or-'t
back up there between orf Switch and H to.r. well, what, what,
exactly is McGee kieid. There's that little road you-turn ori
there and go up in the-woods?
I: Along back there they call they called the Old Bill McGee
field, that the one that you're talking about?
F: I guess that's where it is .
I: best I can remember is along down there, by that road down
there, they called Old bill McGee Field.
There used to be some houses along there, But, he died, I
think he died before they used to call it old Bill McGee
Field. I reckon there was some ot it cleared up there,
r: Ah-han. Do you remember people living there when you
were a girlY
I: I don;t remember, really. It was before, before I can
remember they lived, but I, I feared -em talking about they
have as long as I can remember.
F: Um-hum. And it was sort or like your dad's place, just
cleared out in the woods up in there?
l: xes, I don't thinK there was much ot a road, you Know,
r: Were there still houses there when you were a giri
I: Ah. NO, I don't remember any being there, they must ot
done away with and that's all I know is the bill McGee Field.
I don't hear em talking much about....
r: Iow, what bill McGee was this, how was he related to your
daddy, do' you Know;
I: No, sir. I don't know what kin, I guess some ot the older
ones could tell you more about it. I don't Know it tneys,
Kin but, I don-t remember what kin was.
r: but, that was 'ong before your time, then, hunh Or before
your time anyway'
I: xes, sir. That was before I was, I was, he might or still
been living when I was born, but, I don't remember, you know,
I don't remember. All I just know about the Bill McGee Field,
call it, you know.
F: Well, along that same line, did you ever near much about
the Grant Land, when you were growing up?
r: Over in Head ort erdido.
I: I heard them talk about the Grant Land, they said it was up to
Head or rerdido, we caLl it, you know, Grant Land, where the
McGees, their's hardly any ot 'em on it. Some or *em lived
on it, I thinK. They still live on it. They claimed it was
r: As a girl, did you ever go over there and visit toiks at
Head or rerdido at aliY
I: NO too much. I went to, um, went to church up there one
time, our Christmas tree, I didn't visit too much up there.
r: Um-hum. Well, I just thought or that about the Bill McGee
Field there and I just wondered it there was still people
living there when you were coming along. But that must ot been
reelny a long time ago then, before the il2u's, it they were
I: xes, it must or been then, cause, I remember pretty good
bacK in .Y92, when my grandmother died. I was nine years old.
r: Do you remember much about her-
I: Yes, sir. I was...
r: What Kind or a lady was she'
I: She was dark complexioned and she was a good, good woman,
tar as I know, you Know.
f: Was she one or those older ones that stucK to the old
fashion style or dress with the long skirt and the long...
I: Yes, sir. Yes, sir. She wore a bonnet, you Know. I can
remember my mother when she used to wear the bonnet, you Know,
on her head. Her name was Mary Jane.
r: Did she....
I: ...that was my mother's mother.
r: Um-hum. And she, ah, did she live with you and your mother
and daddy or where did she live
I: I thinK she, they lived with them a while and then they
moved out to another place, her and her daughter moved out to
another place, back down, bacK down by where the Chier live.
This old taLt house; they moved, they used to live with us,
my mother and me before they moved out there.
ELM 07 adl initet4bie dialoguee. Fj I