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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
INTERVIEWEES: Troy Bell
Mrs. Troy Bell
Miles S. Jones
INTERVIEWER: Adolph Dial
DATE: January 18, 1970
D: Today is January 18, 1970. This morning I visited New
Bethel Baptist Church in Sampson County. This area is an
area where many Indians live. Today, at the church, I had
a wonderful dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Troy Bell. Indians
have always been able to fix fine meals over the years. The
Indian people always enjoyed eating and liked to have a very
fine dinner. I'm impressed very much by the cleanliness of
the place here, the yard and the home and so forth of Mr.
and Mrs. Troy Bell. With me also is my father-in-law, Mr.
Miles S. Jones, who was born and reared in Sampson County,
and later married a Robeson County girl. Mrs. Bell, first
of all, how old are you? Would you mind telling your age?
Mrs. B: Seventy-two.
D: How far back could you go with your ancestors on either side?
Mrs. B: My great-grandmother, Mrs. Bashley Burlington. I was about
nine years old, I guess. I can remember granny very well.
We used to visit the home.
D: You remember your great-grandmother?
Mrs. B: Yes, I do.
D: Do you know who her parents were? In other words, your great-
grandmother'd be as far back as you could go.
Mrs. B: Yes, way back there.
D: Mr. Bell, how old are you?
D: How far back can you go with your ancestry, do you think?
B: I can go back, I know, fifty years. Of course, I can remember
things that were told. We can follow back from there.
D: Mr. and Mrs. Bell, your ancestors, as far as you've heard
your parents talk about it, have they always lived in Sampson
Mrs. B: Yes, they have.
D: Mr. Bell?
B: Not always, but they drifted possibly from Sampson County
into other counties, and then back, and various places.
D: You think they left Sampson and returned to Sampson, is this
what you're saying? Uh huh. What's some of the other
counties, perhaps, they moved into?
B: Harnett, Cumberland, Robeson, so on.
D: I believe one of the Bells at one time owned what is now
Lumberton. Are you any relation to that Bell?
B: Not that I recall. I never was too good at getting relation-
D: The record shows that some Bell fellow owned what is now
Lumberton at one time. Mrs. Bell, I believe you taught
school for a number of years, did you not?
Mrs. B: Yes, I did. Tried.
D: Where did you teach? What was at one time known as East
Mrs. B: No, it was known as New Bethel. It's a one-teacher's room,
with the grades passing up to eight.
D: Is that the present location of the church?
Mrs. B: The present location of the Bethel church.
D: The school was there, too? Was it the same building or two
different buildings for the church and school?
Mrs. B: The school building was used for our church until we got a
D: The school building was used for a church until you built a
B: Also the church was used for a school.
D: The church.was used for a school,also.
D: How many years did you teach, Mrs. Bell?
Mrs. B: You mean in my entire teaching...?
D: Yes, in your entire career, how long did you teach?
Mrs. B: Thirty-two years.
D: Thirty-two years. I believe you attended what is now Pembroke
State University [Pembroke, North Carolina] at one time?
Mrs. B: Yes, I did. I began there about 1920, I think. Finished
high school in 1925.
D: Mr. Bell, have you primarily been engaged in farming most
of your life?
B: All in all, I guess so.
D: How about your ancestors? They were engaged in farming perhaps
as far back as you've known?
B: That's correct.
D: I noticed today that Sampson County has made lots of progress
in the way of integrating schools, that is, if we would call
it progress. I believe there are no more Indian schools in
Sampson County as such. I guess the last Indian school you
had in Sampson County was East Carolina?
B: Uh huh.
D: East Carolina today, what is this' called?
B: Sampson Technical School.
D: I believe you're connected with Sampson Technical School in
some way, aren't you?
B: Committeeman on the advisory committee.
D: How do the people in Sampson feel? Did they hate to lose their
school when integration came about or were there mixed feelings
on it. Some thought it was good and some felt it was not so
good, or just how did they feel about it? Would you care to
comment on it?
Mrs. B: Some hated to give up their school, although there were
others who felt it was for their advantage.
D: Did some feel that perhaps they would be able to get a better
education by having larger schools, more supplies, equipment
and so forth to work with?
Mrs. B: Yes, they did.
D: I believe I know several teachers in the area in Sampson
County. Some I have taught at Pembroke State College, so
many of these teachers today are working in the integrated
schools, are they not?
Mrs. B: They are. They're wonderful teachers some of them.
D: Yes, I know some exceptionally good [ones]. Mr. Bell, how
do you see that?
B: Just as you have spoken. There's some that thought it was bad
to leave the school. Some thought that it would lead to advance-
ment of educational opportunities.
D: What's the population here today? Would there be as many as
3,000 Indians in Sampson County?.
B: I believe I heard that statement from someone who had his
statistics to date.
D: It appears that Sampson County has made more progress along
the line of integration than Robeson. Robeson's been a little
slow, of course there's 35,000 Indians in Robeson County and
perhaps it complicates the situation even a little more.
However, the schools are integrating, but they seem to have
more of a problem down in Robeson County than the other
counties. So many involve certain administrative units and so
forth, that have quite a few problems to work with. How do
you compare race relations today, say here in Sampson County,
race relations with Indians with whites, as when you were a
boy? Can you see much difference? Would you say white people
today are more friendly than they were when you were a boy or
when you were a child, or worse, or you don't see much difference?
How would you speak of that? Would you care to comment on that?
B: I would consider there is a tremendous change because people,
the white, the colored, the Indians, really have learned to live
and be sociable and get along pretty good.
D: In other words you feel that progress has been made living
together, so to speak.
Mrs. B: I feel like they're changing.
D: So in the way of race prejudice and discrimination, it appears
today that there's not as much here in Sampson County as there
was at one time. This brings us to another question: do you
feel that the Indians got a fair break when the schools were
integrated? Are the Indian teachers employed and so forth? Do
you feel that they had a fair shake, Mr. Bell?
B: Yes, I do. They had a more than average consideration.
D: They didn't try to take the Indians and put them in the colored
schools before there were some whites there too, basically?
B: Yes sir, they did not.
D: So it seemed they were wanting to satisfy them and give them a
fair shot. Mr. and Mrs. Bell, do you feel the people here are
descendants from White's Lost Colony?
B: Yes sir, I do.
D: Mrs. Bell?
Mrs. B: Yes, according to my knowledge, I believe....
D: In other words, the people here have always spoken, as far back
as your parents and grandparents and so forth, the English
B: That's correct.
D: The same with you Mrs. Bell? They were speaking the English
language, tilling the soil, and living in European-type homes,
at least trying to? Mrs. Bell, do you feel that the Indian
children, when it come to school plays and so forth, do they
seem to be getting a fair showing in the schools and are able
to participate just like anyone else?
Mrs. B: Yes, I think so, Mr. Dial, so far as I know. I know in their
programs they have theirplaces. There are programs for all
of the children.
D: Have you had any incidents in the school like race riots or
anything between Indian and colored or Indian and white here
in Sampson County?
Mrs. B: No, I don't think so.
D: So things are going along quite well. Mr. Jones, you were
born and reared here in Sampson County and you've been living
in Robeson County since when?
J: Since 1935.
D: How would you compare the people of Robeson and Sampson counties?
I've heard you speak over the years. You said there's more
welfare cases in Robeson. People in Sampson seem to be able to
get along a little better. Maybe some of them not as large a
land owners, but less cases on welfare and so forth. How would
you compare this? You want to make a statement on it?
J: Oh, I can give my ideas about it.
D: All right, that's all I want.
J: I always thought that the Indian folks in Sampson County, I
didn't know a family that what weren't willing to work for a
living, and was working. They could be pretty good living or
they could be poor living Indians and work. The best I can
learn around Robeson County, there's a lot of families there
and it look to me like they are going to wait on somebody's hand
to bring it to them, 'stead of working.
D: In other words you are saying that the Indian people in Sampson
seem to have less welfare cases...
J: Oh, yeah.
D: ...than Robeson. Just from observation over the years that I
been coming up here, the people in Sampson, I don't belive,
have as many-I'd say there's a greater number of poor homes,
shacks, in Robeson County than in Sampson County. If you were to
spot a group of people say from Sampson County, or you take a
group from Robeson County, or as I saw in the church this morning--
I looked at the group who was gathering an award and to me they
all looked about the same. I think they're all of basically the
same stock. Would you agree with that, that a group of Sampson
County people look about the same as group of Robeson County
people? How would you feel about that? You people seem to be
quite prosperous, as we were speaking awhile ago and there does
not seem to be a great number on welfare and so forth. What
would you care to say about this, Mrs. Bell?
Mrs. B: Well, I think the fact is that most of our people like to work.
A person that works, why, he can get work to do, and he's able
to provide for his family usually.
D: Do you know of any Indian families now who are out of work and
who are starving, really begging, and so forth?
Mrs. B: No, I don't, Mr. Dial.
D: So it appears that although you don't have any millionaires
perhaps in the community, everybody seems to be making a decent
living with adequate housing, food, and clothes. You agree with
this, Mr. Bell?
B: Yes sir, sure will.
D: Mr. Jones, you think that Robeson County perhaps has more welfare
cases, by percentage, than Sampson County.
J: As long as I've ever been there.
D: In other words, it's been that way ever since you've known
J: Yes, sir.
D: All right, there might be a reason for this but I'll dig into