Interview with Louise Buchanan, November 18, 1982

Material Information

Interview with Louise Buchanan, November 18, 1982
Buchanan, Louise ( Interviewee )
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Fifth Avenue (Gainesville, Fla.)
African Americans ( fast )
Fifth Avenue African American (Alachua County) Oral History Collection ( local )
Joel Buchanan Archive of African American Oral History ( local )
Florida History ( local )
Oral histories ( lcgft )
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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

Source Institution:
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location:
This interview is part of the 'Fifth Avenue Blacks' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management:
Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license:
Resource Identifier:
FAB 001 Louise Buchanan 11-18-1982 ( SPOHP IDENTIFIER )


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INTERVIEWEE: Louise Buchanan

INTERVIEWER: Joel Buchanan

DATE: November 18, 1982

J: [When were you] born?

L: [In] 1890.

J: How old are you now?

L: [I'm] ninety-two years old.

J: How long have you lived in Jonesville and Gainesville?

L: All my life.

J: Can you recall anything about your childhood?

L: Yeah. I could recall some of it.

J: How many children are in your family?

L: Six.

J: Were you the oldest or the youngest?

L: In my family, let me see. Now, some have passed away but you want those that
are living that I know about.

J: Yes.

L: Three.

J: Who were you raised by?

L: My aunts.

J: What were their names?

L: Sara Wittacker, and her husband was named John Wittacker.

J: Can you remember anything about your livelihood when you were a little girl?

L: Yeah, they raised me [Sara, John Wittacker] and I think she did a good job in
raising me.

J: What do you mean when you say a good job?

L: Well, she didn't let me run all about the streets. She tried to raise me,
I think, the best she could.

J: Good. Do you recall anything about your schooling? Did you go to school?

L: Yes. I went to school but not too much.

J: One year,two years, three years?

L: Well, I read for two or three years or more. I just don't remember how many
years now, to tell you the truth.


J: Can you recall very much about your school?

L: No.

J: The name of it?

L: My school was named Wittacker School.

J: And was the school named after those people?

L: Yea. He was an outstanding citizen in that little community and the place
was named Wittacker so they named the school Wittacker School.

J: Can you recall anything about your school? How were the classes? How often
did you go to school? What kind of friends did you have in the school? Can
you recall any of that?

L: Now just exactly how many years I couldn't tell you but I knew I went a good
many years, but it wasn't all the time.

J: You didn't go to school everyday?

L: No.

J: Why?

L: I had to work.

J: What kind of work were you doing?

L: Well, different field work. In the winter time, I raked fencerconners ladd
in the summertime I chopped cotton. Things like that.

J: I see. Now you said fence corners, what do you mean by that?

L: You had no wire fence. Then you put your first corner like that. You put it
like that. Right in here is a fence corner.

J: You had to rake those?

L: Yes, clear them off.

J: Every morning?

L: Not every morning, but some mornings.

J: So you had to work sometimes and then went to school sometimes.

L: I went to school practically every day in the winter time, but still I had to
work in the morning and when I came back from school.

J: That was a very busy day, wasn't it?

L: Yeah. We had a few chores then. We've got a few chores now. You have to
keep busy. [laughter]

J: I understand. Do you recall your teacher's name?


L: No. The only one I knew was named Margie Debose. I guess I had more
but that's the only one I remember. Of course, she was a creole. I
always will remember her.

J: Was the school very far from your home?

L: It was about two miles, or a mile and a half.

J: How did you get there?

L: We had to walk. [laughter]

J: It is known that black people believe in God very much, and that most of the
children are raised in a Christian home.

L: That's right.

J: Can you recall very much about your church life as a little girl?

L: Yeah. My aunt said my mother gave me to her before she suffered a stroke.

J: That's right.

L: So I grew up calling her momma.

J: Did you go to church very much as a child?

L: My mother and daddy, I never knew my real daddy, and I went to church with
a horse and buggy.

J: Was the church very far from your house?

L: Yeah, about three miles, I think.

J: Did your church service last most of the day? Did it last half a day?

L: I can't recall how long it lasted.

J: Do you remember anything important about your church service back in those

L: No, they just had regular service with singing, preaching, and praying.

J: Did your minister stay in your community?

L: I don't know.

J: Did you know very much about Christmas back in those days?

L: I didn't know anything about Christmas. You know momma. When Christmas
came Momma said it was Christmas. I had to believe that. Yes, she would
give me toys and little things. I remember one Christmas my father didn't
put the Christmas out. They went to what they called the all-night
reading, and they forgot to put it out so they had to come back. I saw them
but I didn't know what they were doing. I didn't know what they were doing
because I wasn't old enough. When you said Santa Claus, I thouahtof Santa

Claus. When they got in the house, I didn't know it was them. I just
thought it was Santa Claus.

When morning came, my momma told me, "Well, this Christmas is gone and the
next one will be in twelve months." I didn't know why Christmas came so
soon. I wasn't large enough to know better.

J: I understand.

L: I just thought that's the way it went.

J: Do you recall when you got married or did you get married?

L: Sure I got married. [laughter]

J: Do you know how old you were when you got married?

L: I could tell you what year it was. I got married on the 14th of August, 1908.

J: You know something about religion. Do you know when you got your religion?

L: Yeah. I got religion in 1907.

J: Can you recall anything about your marriage? I mean the night you got
Married or the day you got married, where you got married, who was there?

L: I got married on a Wednesday night, the fourteenth of August and my lady
was Grace Debose. It was on a Wednesday night.

J: Who married you?

L: Reverend Ruth Morris.

J: Where did you get married at?

L: In my father's and mother's house.

J: Your husband's name was?

L: Anderson Buchanan.

J: After you got married, where did you all move to? Or did you all move?

L: We moved to his home.

J: Where was that?

L: I think about a mile out.

J: You stayed at home until you got married, and then you
moved to your husband's house. How many children did you have? Six?

L: Six, yeah.

J: Can you tell me their names?


L: Sure. The oldest one is named Eric Vander Buchanan. I called him Buck.

J: You had Eric Vander Buchanan.

L: But we called him Buck.

J: And the other children' names?

L: The second was named Ernest Buchanan but we had no nickname for Ernest.
The next was Chester. The next ones were twins, Mary and Joe.

J: Is there any more? Is that it?

L: There's one sitting back there.

J: What is her name?

L: Her first name is Ellen Buchanan. But now it's Ellen Jordan.

J: That's who you live with, Ellen Jordan?

L: Yeah.

J: That's the youngest of your children?

L: Yes, that's the youngest one of my children.

J: Well, what was your day like as a mother?

L: Tough times.

J: What do you mean?

L: Well, I did see some heavy days. It was hard at the beginning. My husband
worked at a mine and he worked there until the next one got old enough to
run the farm.

J: What did you grow on the farm?

L: We had corn, cotton, peanuts, raised potatoes and cane.

J: Did you work?

L: Yeah, I worked out at the white folks' farm. All our work was on the farm
with the white folks.

J: What did you do on the farm?

L: I hoed peanuts. I didn't chop cotton because I didn't plant cotton. They
had peanuts and corn. They gave me plenty of work to do.

J: So you were working in the fields and going to school when you were a little

L: Yeah, but not, I wasn't working with white folks then. I worked for myself
and for my mother and father.

J: What else did you all do on your farm? Did you do a lot of canning?

L: We used to can meat and peas. I didn't can greens because everybody
had greens.

J: How did you do that?

L: Well, we would cook it and put it in jars.

J: Is that what they called smoked meat or cured meat?

L: No. Cured meat is what they have in a smoke house. You hang it up on a stick
and put oak and hickory wood in it. That's cured meat.

J: How long did that take?

L: About three or four weeks. We didn't do all our meat in one day. We did
a little everyday.

J: So you all put up meat, vegetables and smoked meat.

L: Yes.

J: Did you make anything else on your farm?

L: We made syrup and yellow potatoes?

J: How did you make syrup?

L: You grind cane, make juice out of it, put it in a kettle and boil it.

J: How did you grind the cane?

L: With a horse. It went around and around. You put the juice in the kettle
and then you cook it.

J: Did you sell the syrup?

L: No, there were too many children to sell that stuff. I had to feed my

J: Did they go to school?

L: Yeah, they went to school. Some, they didn't go too much.

J: I see. Did they go to the same school you went to?

L: Yeah, Wittacker School.

J: Did you ever see a lynching?

L: I didn't see any lynching but I heard a lot of talking.

J: Tell me something about it, if you can.


L: I could tell you what they told me, but it's heresay. [laughter] My husband
went to Alachua for groceries on Saturday morning. When he got up there the
white man told him to go back home and stay in his house. He said, "Don't
let none of your people come out because they will shoot you down as quick
as they will anybody else." He came back to the corner, to the fence, at the
fork in the road. We were sitting there and he told us we better come home.
We didn't go out any more,not that night. They had the lynching on Friday

J: How did you find out about this information?

L: I told you. The white man told my husband about the lynching in Jonesville.
I didn't want to be out on the street. I think they lynched five that night.
They were looking for one more but they couldn't find him.

J: Do you ever recall coming to Gainesville back in those days?

L: I don't know about coming to Gainesville when I was small.

J: During your adult days, when your children were growing up, did you come over
here very much?

L: Oh yeah. I came over here regularly on Saturday.

J: How did you all come?

L: In a horse and wagon.

J: How far was it back?

L: I think it was nine miles. It.might have been a little more or a little less.
I don't know.

J: What did you all do? Where did you all go?

L: [We] went down the street, bought our food, talked to people.

J: Do you recall what area that was? What street that was?

L: Right on the main street of town. It's called Union Street now.

J: Do you recall if they had places for black people to go and places for
white people to go?

L: No, not that I know of. We went in the stores and got what we wanted. We went
in the white stores. There weren't too many black stores up there.

J: When you were working for other people, do you recall how much you got paid
back in those times?

L: When I first started out I worked for fifty cents a day. I used to wash for
a family for twenty-five cents a day.

J: Could you do a lot of things for twenty-five cents? Was that a lot of money?


L: That was enough. Twenty-five cents was big money. I washed for four
people. There was four in that family. His name was Dixie Jones. His
wife was Quintine. That was the family.

J: When you say you washed, did you iron these clothes?

L: Well, I ironed them all on the same day.

J: What kind of irons did you have in that time.

L: These were the smoothing irons. There were no electric irons.

J: How did you get it warm?

L: I used to have a fireplace and you would set the iron next to the fireplace.
That's the way that we ironed back in those days.

J: And you called it a smoothing iron?

L: Yeah, it was called a smoothing iron.

J: How long did you live in your house in Jonesville? You said that when you
got married you moved about a mile from where you were born. You lived in
a house with your husband. Who else was there at that time?

L: My mother-in-law and my father-in-law, Virginia Buchanan and Dave Buchanan.

J: You stayed there with them how long?

L: I stayed there with them until both of them passed away. We remained right
in the same house.

J: You moved from your house, moved into Mr. Buchanan's house, and stayed there
until they passed away.

L: We lived right there until their house got burned down.

J: I see. Do you remember what year that was?

L: I knew when I got my legs cut off. I got this one cut off in March. I don't
know what year it was.

J: You've been here in Gainesville since then.

L: I moved right here after I got this last one cut off.

J: You have a very good remembrance for a person ninety-two years old to recall
things that happened years ago.

L: Yeah, somethings I can remember and then somethings I forget.

J: After'you got married, did you join any organizations back in there? Did you
have clubs or organizations you could become a member of?

L: I've got two.


J: What are they?

L: One was the Female Protection Society. The other one was the Pall Bearer

J: I've enjoyed talking to you and I think it's important for the record to say
that one of the twins is my father and you are my grandmother. I really have
enjoyed talking to you and I would like to come and find out something about
those two clubs you joined. Can I come again?

L: Yes, but don't be too long.