Title: Interview with Winston Thead, Isabelle Thead (August 20, 1973)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007536/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Winston Thead, Isabelle Thead (August 20, 1973)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: August 20, 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: UF00007536
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 63

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Date: August 20, 1973
Subject: Winston Thead, Isabelle Thead
Interviewer: Paredes
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?

T: Twenty-three.

P: Twenty-three?

T: Um-hum.

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

in school.

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

Por/ Switch?

T: Yeah.

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?
<1o4- op
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

pulling corn.

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.

P: Um-hum.

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.

P: Um-hum.

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

in her?

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..

P: Um-hum.

T: Go swimming. Most of the time they're just out with the

other kids, you know...

P: Yeah.

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...

P: Um-hum.

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

you think?

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.

P: Um-hum.

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,

really, they...

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

been his.

P: Um-hum.

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: Yeah.

P: Um-hum.


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

trees there.

P: Um-hum.

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.

P: Um-hum.

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?

T: No.-

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

be theirs.

P: Yeah.

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.

P: Um-hum.

T: And that's my, Aunt Eva and Aunt Evelyn.

P: Um-hum.

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,..

P: Um-hum.

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.

P: Hum.

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?

T: Yeah.


P: Um-hum.....(Long pause) Yeah, I guess it was hard to stay

in school in another state.

T: Yeah.

P: Well, you mentioned that you just didn't have a lot of things

like clothes and so forth...

T: Yeah.

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,

you know.

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?

T: Yeah.

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.

T: Right.

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.

P: Um-hum.

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?

I: Yes.

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

the house.

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

the hospital?

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

or was?

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.

P: Um-hum.


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

were there?

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.

P: Um-hum.

I: Then we went to school back cross the railroad and went to

school there.

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.


P: Um-hum,

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.

P: Um-hum.


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

many years...

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,

go ahead.

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

down there.

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

like that?

I: Not too much, you know. He didn't tell like that

too much.

P: Um-hum.

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.

P: Um-hum.

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: No.

"* To..

I: To Atmore.


P: 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

was it?

I: No, it sure wasn't.

t: And they came all the way from Oklahoma and they were

over here?

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

small then.

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
k e-r-e-
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
and things?

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: .-Sorkie!

F: Sotkie.

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,

you know.

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

know exactly.

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,

back then.

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,

by there.

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?

I: Grant'Land?

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

Grant Land.

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.

f: Well.

ELM 07 adl initet4bie dialoguee. Fj I

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