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Interview with David Leslie, July 13, 1976

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Title:
Interview with David Leslie, July 13, 1976
Creator:
Leslie, David ( Interviewee )
Publication Date:
Language:
English

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Catawba Indians -- Florida
Kataba Indians -- Florida
Catawba Oral History Collection ( local )

Notes

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

Source Institution:
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location:
This interview is part of the 'Catawba' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
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Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

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UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

ORAL HISTORY PROJECT


INTERVIEWEE: David Leslie
INTERVIEWER: Emma Echols
DATE: September 13, 1976












CAT 125A
Subject: David Leslie
Interviewer: Emma Echols
9-13-76


E: This is Emma Reid Echols, Rock Hill, South Carolina. I'm recording the
oral history of the Catawba Indians. This is July 13, 1976. I'm visit-
ing in the home of Mr. David Leslie. David, will you give me your full
name and your address?

L: I'm David Leslie. My address is Route 1, Catawba.

E: David, you've always lived at Catawba, haven't you?

L: Yes.

E: This used to be Catawba Junction, which it is still called, and it was
a large railroad center. What's your job on the railroad now?

L: I am a locomotive engineer on the Seaboard Coastline.

E: Now, David has some interesting memories. I remember, of course, the
big country store in this little village that was operated by his uncle,
Mr. Will Simpson. David, as a young boy, delivered groceries back on
the reservation. David, what was your means of transportation there?
How did you go?

L: Well, it was a Model A Ford. I was always real anxious to have a chance
to drive a car, so if Uncle Will had some groceries to deliver over on
the Indian reservation, I was more than anxious to take them over there.

E: You were just a little boy at that time, about how old?

L: I don't know. I imagine about twelve.

E: Now, your uncle had a great big store with many different kinds of things.
Tell me some of the things he'd have in that country store.

L: Well, he had fresh meat that most country stores didn't have then. He had
a cooler in the back of the store, well insulated--a walk-in cooler with
ice buried in sawdust to keep the fresh meat cool, and he had fresh fish
he got every week, stuff like that.

E: Do you remember any kinds of things the Indians would want to buy?

L: No, nothing in particular.

E: They would probably buy staple things. They wouldn't have any way of
preserving meat, either.

L: No.








2

E: What was the condition of the roads on the Indian reservation?

L: Well, there were dirt roads, and of course when it was raining it was
awfully hard to get in and out. It was dusty, and there was no surface-
treated road anywhere.

E: You only delivered this during summer time, because you went to school,
of course, in the winter time.

L: That's right.

E: Did Mr. Simpson have anyone else to help him in delivery?

L: Well, he did. Yes, he had two other men there that delivered, but I don't
know anything about that part of it. I just remember going to the Indian
reservation.

E: Sometimes these Indians would come into the store and buy things, and some-
times you would just deliver them. Did you ever know how they paid your
uncle for their groceries?

L: I don't know whether they paid him when they came, or whether they ever
paid or not. I was just interested in driving the car; that was all.

E: Exactly the thing a young boy would want to do. Now, of course, you
remember E.G. Hill and his father, Dr. Hill, made tapes for us. Do you
remember Dr. Hill at all?

L: I barely remember him.

E: Dr. Hill was a famous doctor among the Catawba Indians, and he lived in
the village at Catawba Junction. As you grew older, David, you went to
school for awhile in Winthrop College [Rock Hill, South Carolina], went to
training school, I believe you rode into school with a lady who was a
teacher at the Indian reservation, Mrs. Sparks. Tell me what sort of
person Mrs. Sparks was.

L: I know she was half German, and a hard-working woman. She kept a cow,
and she was always going moving the cow from one place to another. She
always had a big garden. The railroad men ate lunch with her, and she
had an enormous meal every day.

E: What do you know about her as a teacher?

L: Well, I didn't know she taught at the Indian reservation. Her son and I
went to school together for a couple of years trying to improve our grammar,
and she was always correcting us or helping us with our grammar.

E: When she went to church, did she find any errors in the minister's sermons?








3

L: A lot of times she would say they used incorrect grammar.

E: In our records we do have that Mrs. Sparks was a teacher at the Indian
reservation, and her husband taught with her for several months. I don't
know exactly how long. Did Mr. Sparks work on the railroad, too?

L: He worked on the Southern Railroad in Rock Hill, and he'd come probably
once a month. I don't know what department he was in up there.

E: He had a job of forwarding mail. Did he write a pretty handwriting?

L: I have seen his handwriting lots of times. It was real pretty handwriting.

E: I am told by the Indians that he taught some of them penmanship. He was
very proud of his beautiful handwriting, and that is remembered down on
the reservation. He taught there only a few months. Some of the Indians
did find intoxicating liquors to drink. What kinds of things would they
drink?

L: I heard they drank bay rum a whole lot, because it's too expensive to buy
anything else. It was swallowing hair tonic, in a way, but they drank
a lot of bay rum.

E: David, there was one Indian that had a job down here, and he got drunk in
Rock Hill and was unable to come on the job. Will you tell me about that
Indian?

L: Five or six years ago one of the Indians worked for the Southern Railroad,
and like I do, he worked the Bowater job at night. He was drunk one night
when they were supposed to go to work at midnight. They couldn't get him
on the train at Rock Hill, so they came on without him. Later, he woke
up and came down, thinking he would just catch up on what he hadn't done.
He just threw switches all over the yard until the Bowater guard went out
there and made him quit. He said, "Well, I'll quit after I throw one more
switch," but the Southern officials were down there by that time and they
ran him off.

E: David,what do you remember about the houses on the reservation? What kind
of houses did they have?

L: Well, I remember that they were small houses, and they were high off the
ground (I remember that part), and scattered around in the reservation.
I don't think you could hardly see one house from another then. I remember
the roads twisted and turned, but they were back in the woods and the shade
I guess.

E: Did they have the houses painted?

L: I don't remember any painted houses.

E: Did you see the school as you drove back on the reservation? What did it
look like?

L: It just looked like one great big room.








4

E: Was the school at the foot of the hill near the old church, or was it half
way up that hill?

L: I remember both.

E: Do you remember any of the teachers on the reservation besides Mrs. Sparks?
Mrs. Spencer taught in Catawba Junction, and Mrs. Ernest Patton taught for
a short time. Do you remember those people?

L: I remember those people, but I didn't realize that they taught over at the
Indian reservation.

E: As a young boy you liked to play games, and I know you were a good ball
player. Did you have any games with the Indians?

L: Oh, yes. Ever since I can remember. I wanted to be a professional baseball
player. We used to play against the Indians and played here at Catawba. We
played once or twice over at the Indian reservation, but their field was so
unlevel that you could hardly see the right fielder from home plate, so we
played at Catawba most of the time. Later on, I played with the Indians
against the other teams more than I played just against the Indian teams.
One summer I played twice a week with a pitcher, Doug Harris, in the county
league.

E: Doug Harris is not living, but he was considered one of the finest Indians.
Did you find him a very fine person?

L: Yes, ma'am.

E: Was there any ill feeling between the whites and the Indians, or did you all
get along very well?

L: We got along very, very, well. We got along better with them than we did
some of the white teams we played. We never had any fusses that I know of.

E: Do you remember the names of any boys you played ball with?

L: I played with Doug and Landon George and Marvin George more than anybody
else, but I remember someone they called Sky Eagle Brown. He was a catcher,
but he was a little older than I was. He played a few games after I started.
I remember him saying he could squat down behind the plate and never get up,
and throw like a bullet to second base.

E: They were fast runners, weren't they?

L: Very fast, except for one or two of them. Just as fast as they could be.

E: Did any of you ever get hurt in the ball games?

L: We didn't, but it was said that Marvin George was pitching against some
team and threw a fast ball and hit a boy in the back of the head and killed
him. That was several years before I started playing.

E: You lived not too far from the Catawba river, and you remember the bridges.
Did you remember also the old ferries along the Catawba River?








5

L: When I was a small boy they had one ferry they called the Brown ferry, or
the Hooton or the Curreton Ferry. It was down the river toward the Lancaster
County line. Later, when I went to work at the railroad, I worked out of
Monroe, North Carolina, and in order to get to work, I had to go over the
ferry. It was twenty-six miles to Monroe that way, and forty-one around by
the bridges. 'One of the Indians and his grandson ran the ferry [Early Brown
and his grandson, Howard], until they put in a highway bridge. It was often
a problem to get him to get up so I could get to work on time. A lot of
times, I just took the flat over myself. When it came back to this side of
the river he'd go get it after he got up.

E: The current would bring it back to the other side?

L: Yeah, if you would pull it up on one end, the current would shove it almost
to the bank on the other side.

E: Did you have to pay to cross the river?

L: No, the state highway department owned.it.

E: Was Early Brown an industrious person, or was he rather lazy?

L: He was rather lazy.

E: He was quite an interesting character, though. Was there another ferry
above that one?

D: No, that was upper ferry.

E: Did you remember John Brown, who once operated that ferry?

D: No.

E: They tell me that around that Curreton ferry there was a garden and fruit
trees. Did you ever remember that?

D: No.

E: Did you ever go fishing with any of the Indian boys?

D: No, I never did go fishing. I've had Early Brown give me fish sometimes,
or maybe a duck or something they'd killed in the winter time.

E: The Indians were famous fishermen, who had to fish because they didn't
have enough meat. We've all lived through the Depression, but the Indians
were affected more than anybody else. Do you remember the poverty of the
people when they went around selling property for fifteen or twenty-five
cents trying to make a living?

D: No, Mrs. Echols, I don't remember much about that, because all of us were
in poverty then.

E: Your parents would remember. Do you remember Landon George? I believe you
played ball with him. What do you remember about him?








6

D: Of all the Indian ball players that I played with, he was the only-major
league prospect. One time he went to Charlotte to try out for the Charlotte
Hornets who were in the Southern League with Jacksonville and Augusta. They
wanted to sign him up, but his mother didn't want him to leave home, so he
never did play. He wouldn't sign a contract to play professional ball.

E: He's a fine-looking person. I believe he's retired now. He married Chief
Blue's daughter. Did Chief Blue attend any of your ball games?

D: He came to most games. Lots of times he'd have his costume on, and he
would do some dancing around. When that team was doing real good, he'd
make a lot of noise and dance.

E: He was famous for that war whoop, wasn't he?

D: Yes, you could hear him all over the place.

E: David, have you seen many changes in the Indians since you have known them?

D: Yes, a whole lot of changes. Their homes are a lot prettier, they dress a
lot better, and drive nice automobiles. They didn't have very nice homes
before.

E: We're all glad to see them making progress, and I know you are too.

D: Yes, ma'am.





Full Text

PAGE 1

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA ORAL HISTORY PROJECT I NT ERV I EWEE: INTERVIEWER: DATE: David Leslie Emma Echols September 13, 1976

PAGE 2

CAT 125A Subject: David Leslie Interviewer: Emma Echols 9-13-76 E: This is Emma Reid Echols, Rock Hill, oral history of the Catawba Indians. ing in the home of Mr. David Leslie. name and your address? South Carolina. I 1 m recording the This is July 13, 1976. I 1m visit David, will you give me your full L : I'm David Leslie. My address is Route 1, Catawba. E: David, you've always lived at Catawba, haven't you? L: Yes. E: This used to be Catawba Junction, which it is still called, and it was a large railroad center. What's your job on the railroad now? L: am a locomotive engineer on the Seaboard Coastline. E: Now, David has some interesting memories. I remember, of course, the big country store in this little village that was operated by his uncle, Mr. Will Simpson. David, as a young boy, delivered groceries back on the reservation. David, what was your means of transportation there? How did you go? L: Well, it was a Model A .. Ford. I was always rea l anxious to have a chance to drive a car, so if Uncle Will had some groceries to deliver over on the Indian reservation, I was more than anxious to take them over there. E: You were just a little boy at that time, about how old? L: I don't know. I imagine about twelve. E: Now, your uncle had a great big store with many different kinds of things. Tell me some of the things he'd have in that country store. L: Well, he had fresh meat that most country stores didn't have then. He had a cooler in the back of the store, well insulated--a walk-in cooler with ice buried in sawdust to keep the fresh meat cool, and he had fresh fish he got every week, stuff like that. E: Do you remember any kinds of things the Indians would want to buy? L: No, nothing in particular. E: They would probably buy staple things. They wouldn't have any way of preserving meat, either. L: No.

PAGE 3

------------------------------------E: What was the condition of the roads on the Indian reservation? L: Well, there were dirt roads, and of course when it was raining it was awfully hard to get in and out. It was dusty, and there was no surface treated road anywhere. E: You only delivered this during summer time, because you went to school, of course, in the winter time. L: That's right. E: Did Mr. Simpson have anyone else to help him in delivery? 2 L: Well, he did. Yes, he had two other men there that delivered, but I don't know anything about that part of it. I just remember going to the Indian reservation. E: Sometimes these Indians would come into the store and buy things, and some times you would just deliver them. Did you ever know how they paid your uncle for their groceries? L: I don't paid or E: Exactly remember remember know whether they paid him when they came, or whether they ever not. I was just interested in driving the car; that was al 1. the thing a young boy would want to do. Now, of course, you E.G. Hill and his father, Dr. Hill, made tapes for us. Do you Dr. Hill at all? L: I barely remember him. E: Dr. Hill was a famous doctor among the Catawba Indians, and he lived in the village at Catawba Junction. As you grew older, David, you went to school for awhile in Winthrop College [Rock Hill, South Carolina], went to training school, I believe you rode into school with a lady who was a teacher at the Indian reservation, Mrs. Sparks. Tell me what sort of person Mrs. Sparks was. L: I know she was half German, and a hard-working woman. She kept a cow, and she was always going moving the cow from one place to another. She always had a big garden. The railroad men ate lunch with her, and she had an enormous meal every day. E: What do you know about her as a teacher? L: Well, I didn't know she taught at the Indian reservation. Her son and I went to school together for a couple of years trying to improve our grammar, and she was always correcting us or helping us with our grammar. E: When she went to church, did she find any errors in the minister's sermons?

PAGE 4

3 L: A lot of times she would say they used incorrect grammar. E: In our records we do have that Mrs. Sparks was a teacher at the Indian reservation, and her husband taught with her for several months. I don 1 t know exactly how long. Did Mr. Sparks work on the railroad, too? L: He worked on the Southern Railroad in Rock Hill, and he 1 d come probably once a month. don 1 t know what department he was in up there. E: He had a job of forwarding mail. Did he write a pretty handwriting? L: have seen his handwriting lots of times. It was real pretty handwriting. E: am told by the Indians that he taught some of them penmanship. He was very proud of his beautiful handwriting, and that is remembered down on the reservation. He taught there only a few months. Some of the Indians did find intoxicating liquors to drink. What kinds of things would they drink? L: I heard they drank bay rum a whole lot, because it 1 s too expensive to buy anything else. It was swallowing hair ton i c, in a way, but they drank a lot of bay rum. E: David, there was one Indian that had a job down here, and he got drunk in Rock Hill and was unable to come on the job. Will you tell me about that Indian? L: Five or six years ago one of the Indians worked for the Southern Railroad, and like I do, he worked the Bowater job at night. He was drunk one night when they were supposed to go to work at midnight. They couldn 1 t get him on the train at Rock Hill, so they came on without him. Later, he woke up and came down, thinking he would just catch up on what he hadn 1 t done. He just threw switches all over the yard until the Bowater guard went out there and made him quit. He said, 11 Well, I'll quit after I throw one more switch, 11 but the Southern officials were down there by that time and they ran him off. E: David,what do you remember about the houses on the reservation? What kind of houses did they have? L: Well, I remember that they were small houses, and they were high off the ground (I remember that part), and scattered around in the reservation. I don 1 t think you could hardly see one house from another then. I remember the roads twisted and turned, but they were back in the woods and the shade I guess. E: Did they have the houses painted? L: I don 1 t remember any painted houses. E: Did you see the school as you drove back on the reservation? What did it I ook Ii ke? L: It just looked 1 ike one great big room.

PAGE 5

~-----------------------------------------4 E: Was the school at the foot of the hill near the old church, or was it half way up that hill? L: I remember both. E: Do you remember any of the teachers on the reservation besides Mrs. Sparks? Mrs. Spencer taught in Catawba Junction, and Mrs. Ernest Patton taught for a short time. Do you remember those people? L : remember those people, but I didn't realize that they taught over at the Indian reservation. E: As a young boy you liked to play games, and I know you were a good ball player. Did you have any games with the Indians? L: Oh, yes. Ever since I can remember. I wanted to be a professional baseball player. We used to play against the Indians and played here at Catawba. We played once or twice over at the Indian reservation, but their fietd was so unlevel that you . could hardly see the right fielder from home plate, so we played at Catawba most of the time. Later on, t played with the Indians against the other teams more than I played just against the Indian teams. One summer I played twice a week with a pitcher, Doug Harris, in the county league. E: Doug Harris is not living, but he was considered one of the finest Indians. Did you find him a very fine person? L: Yes, ma'am. E: Was there ~ny ill feeling between the whites and the Indians, or did you all get along very well? L: We got along very, very, well. We got along better with them than we did some of the white teams we played. We never had any fusses that I know of. E: Do you remember the names of any boys you played ball with? L: I played with Doug and Landon George and Marvin George more than anybody else, but I remember someone they called Sky Eagle Brown. He was a catcher, but he was a little older than I was. He played a few games after I started. I remember him saying he could squat down behind the plate and never get up, and throw like a bullet to second base. E: They were fast runners, weren't they? L: Very fast, except for one or two of them. Just as fast as they could be. E: Did any of you ever get hurt in the ball games? L: We didn't, but it was said that Marvin George was pitching against some team and threw a fast ball and hit a boy in the back of the head and killed him. That was several years before I started playing. E: You lived not too far from the Catawba river, and you remember the bridges . Did you remember also the old ferries along the Catawba River?

PAGE 6

5 L: When I was a small boy they had one ferry they called the Brown ferry, or the Hooton or the Curreton Ferry. It was down the river toward the Lancaster County line. Later, when I went to work at the railroad, I worked out of Monroe, North Carolina, and in order to get to work, I had to go over the ferry. It was twenty-six miles to Monroe that way, and forty-one around by the bridges. 'One of the Indians and his grandson ran the ferry [Early Brown and his grandson, Howard], until they put in a highway bridge. It was often a problem to get him to get up so I could get to work on time. A lot of times, I just took the flat over myself. When it came back to this side of the river he'd go get it after he got up. E: The current would bring it back to the other side? L: Yeah, if you would pull it up on one end, the current would shove it almost to the bank on the other side. E: Did you have to pay to cross the river? L: No, the state highway department owned.it. E: Was Early Brown an industrious person, or was he rather lazy? L: He was rather lazy. E: He was quite an interesting character, though. Was there another ferry above that one? D: No, that was upper ferry. E: Did you remember John Brown, who once operated that ferry? D: No. E: They tell me that around that Curreton ferry there was a garden and fruit trees. Did you ever remember that? D: No. E: Did you ever go fishing with any of the Indian boys? D: No, I never did go fishing. I've had Early Brown give me fish sometimes, or maybe a duck or something they'd killed in the winter time. E: The Indians were famous fishermen, who had to fish because they didn't have enough meat. We've all lived through the Depression, but the Indians were affected more than anybody else. Do you remember the poverty of the people when they went around selling property for fifteen or twenty-five cents trying to make a living? D: No, Mrs. Echols, I don't remember much about that, because all of us were in poverty then. E: Your parents would remember. Do you remember Landon George? I believe you played ball with him. What do you remember about him?

PAGE 7

6 D: Of all the Indian ball players that I played with, he was the only [ major league prospect. One time he went to Charlotte to try out for the Charlotte Hornets who were in the Southern League with Jacksonville and Augusta. They wanted to sign him up, but his mother didn't want him to leave home, so he never did play. He wouldn't sign a contract to play professional ball. E: He's a fine-looking person. I believe he's retired now. He married Chief Blue's daughter. Did Chief Blue attend any of your ball games? D: He came to most games. Lots of times he'd have his costume on, and he . would do some dancing around. When that team was doing real good, he'd make a lot of noise and dance. E: He was famous for that war whoop, wasn't he? D: Yes, you could hear him all over the place. E: David, have you seen many changes in the Indians since you have known them? D: Yes, a whole lot of changes. Their homes are a lot prettier, they dress a lot better, and drive nice automobiles. They didn't have very nice homes before. E: We're all glad to see them making progress, and I know you are too. D: Yes, ma'am.