Citation
Interview with Mrs. Hattie George, September 1, 1976

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Title:
Interview with Mrs. Hattie George, September 1, 1976
Creator:
George, Hattie ( 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
Rights Management:
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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SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT


UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


In cooperation with the Catawba Nation


INTERVIEWEE: Hattie George
INTERVIEWER: Emma Echols


DATE: September 1, 1976




















E: This is Emma Reid Echols, Rock Hill, South Carolina, route 6260. This
is September 1, 1976. I am visiting with a friend in York, an Indian
friend. I'm visiting in the home of Mr. and Mrs. George. Mrs. George,
tell me what is your name?

G: Hattie.

E: Now your husband's name is....

G: Maroni.

E: Maroni George, and you all have raised nine children.

G: That's right.

E: You used to live on the reservation and I know those were hard times.
First of all, tell me about that pottery. Who taught you to make pottery?

G: Emma George, his mother.

E: His mother. Did she have molds to make it?

G: Yes, she had molds to make the heads.

E: But everything else was made by hand?

G: The rest of it, all by hand.

E: Did the men go to the river and bring you the clay?

G: Most of the time we went.

E: You went yourselves. Well, you were real smart to do that. You had two
kinds of clay, didn't you? You had pipe clay and you had the pottery
clay, is that right?

G: Yeah.

E: Tell me exactly how you made your pottery.

G: I made it with my hands, cut them, rolled,them up, make them in my hands.

E: Then what did you scrape it with?







2







G: We waited until it got dry. When it got dry, used a knife.

E: Did you put any decorations on your pottery, any little leaves or decora-
tions?

G: Some of them had a little bit.

E: A little bit. Do you like to make the little animals, like the frogs,
birds, and turtles, or did you like to make the big pots?

G: I made the big things. I made squirrels and I made turtles.

E: Oh, you made squirrels. Nobody else has told me they made squirrels except
you. Squirrels and turtles and ducks and frogs, different kinds of frogs,
like that? And where did you go to sell that pottery?

G: I sold some up here at the college in Rock Hill and sold some of them up
at Asheville.

E: Some of it, that must be the Rock Hill, at Winthrop College. How long
would it take you from the time you began making that pottery until you
had it all fired and ready to sell?

G: Sometimes take three or four weeks.

E: Three or four weeks.

G: Then I had to scrape them, rub them and burn them.

E: Yes, and the burning was the final process, wasn't it?

G: That's right.

E: Were you disappointed sometime when you raked the ashes away and found some
of them had broken?

G: You can count up the broken when you take them out.

E: That's right. I saw some of your pottery and all of yours are beautiful
light colors. I want to know how you kept that pretty light golden color.

G: Just burnt that way.

E: Just burnt that way. Well, you've got some beautiful pieces. Do you still
make some now?

G: No, I haven't made any in a good while.







3







E: You are eighty-three years old?

G: Eighty-three.

E: Eighty-three, but you could make it, couldn't you?

G: Oh yes, I could but I don't have the time.

E: You're so busy looking after this husband and so forth. But I hope you
will. Do you think the younger persons are learning to make pottery today?

G: Going to do what?

E: Are any of the young people learning to make pottery?

G: Well, I tried to teach my young'uns and I don't know. I tried to teach
one of my granddaughters and she didn't last too long.

E: But you still want them to learn?

G: Yeah.

E: I believe down on the reservation they have regular classes that they are
teaching that now.

G: Yeah, I got a daughter down there building pots.

E: You have? Now what's that daughter's name?

G: Bertha Harris.

E: Bertha Harris. Bertha Harris, your daughter, is teaching on the reservation.
I know there's a big crowd of those youngsters that are down there learning;
that's wonderful! Do you think there'll be a place for them to sell that
pottery?

G: Well, I think they will. Because there's people about quit making them.
And them that can make them can show the younger ones.

E: Yeah.

G: She's down there making pots.

E: Where do they fire the ones down on the reservation? Do they have to dig
a pit to fire them in?

G: I don't know how they going to do it. They useEd] toburn them in the fire-
place.







4








E: Did you ever make a piece of pottery that had a snake coiled around that
pot?

G: Yeah.

E: You did? Who taught you to do that?

G: I just made the vase and put a snake around it.

E: You did? What kind of a snake were you doing? A copperhead?

G: I don't know what kind it was. I just made it.

E: Well, that's a very, very old kind of a pot.

G: Yeah.

E: You made the gypsy pot with the little legs on it?

G: Yes.

E: You made the little long vase?

G: Yeah, I make all kinds of them.

E: All kinds of them. They tell me you were a real good cook and that one
thing you like to bake down on the reservation was cornbread. How did
you make that good old cornbread?

G: I'm afraid I ain't much cooked on cornbread. I got and put me about ten
spoonfuls of flour in my bowl and I put my eggs in there and I put onions
in there and I put my meal.

E: Meal. Now on the reservation you grated that corn. How did you grate that
corn. Did you sometimes take a tin can and cut holes in it and nail it
to pieces of board and you'd grate your corn there, that right?

G: Yes.

E: You're the first one that I ever heard tell that. That's very interesting.

G: I did take the can, cut it open, and cut the holes in it, then begin to
bend it over the board to where it'd stand and nail it down. We rubs the
corn over that, just like you'd grate the cabbage.

E: It'd be just like you'd grate cabbage for slaw. Were you the only one
that had that kind of a grater?







5







G: I imagine. I made that.

E: You made that. Now what else did you like to have to eat on the reser-
vation? Did your husband bring you any fish or birds?

G: No, he didn't, but he should have.

E: But you had meat of some kind, wouldn't you? You had a garden?

G: Sometimes we worked one.

E: You lived down on the reservation most of your life. Tell me about when
your babies were born. Who was your doctor?

G: Dr. Hill was there when the oldest of them were born.

E: He would come in a horse and buggy?

G: Yeah.

E: Sometimes if necessary he would just spend the night there, wouldn't he?
Did he ever spend the night at your house?

G: No.

E: Then were the other children all born at your home?

G: I had midwives.

E: Midwives, yes. Where did you go to school?

G: I didn't go [to] high school; I got married.

E: Your husband went to Charlotte to marry you and then he brought you back
to the reservation.

G: He was working there when I met him in Charlotte.

E: You went to church with him, the old church, didn't you?

G: Yeah.

E: Tell me about that old church. Did they ring the bell when you were supposed
to come?

G: Yes. They rang the bell every morning and in the evening when time for
the meeting, they'd ring it.







6







E: What did you sing? Did you sing the same old hymns we sing today?

G: Well, not much.

E: Did you ever hear them talk the Indian language?

G: Yes, I have.

E: But you didn't learn any of it yourself?

G: I couldn't talk it.

E: Could your husband say any of it?

G: No, he don't know none of it.

E: He doesn't know any of it, either. Well, we're sorry that that has gone
away. Your children went to school on the reservation, didn't they?

G: Yes. They went to school in Columbia down there and some of them went to
school here on the reservation.

E: You moved up here to York and some of them went to school up here.

G: Yes.

E: They did not have any lunch program at the school then. Did your children
all come home for lunch?

G: No.

E: They had lunch there for them? I believe Arzada Sanders cooked lunch for
awhile.

G: She did down there but didn't none of mine go then.

E: Oh yes, that was later that she did. You're real proud of what your chil-
dren have done now. You've got a policeman in town that helps you keep
straight. Where are your other children? You got a daughter here, I
believe?

G: Yeah, and I got one over in the country.

E: They're all good to you, aren't they?

G: I got one that's dead.

E: You had nine children, how many are living?







7







G: I got one out of Spartanburg, I got one over at Matthews CNorth Car-
olina].

E: You've scattered all around, aren't you?

G: Yeah. One at Gaffney. No, she don't live there anymore. I got one down
at Greenville now.

E: All of your children have gotten a good education, haven't they? And
made their way in this world? Are you proud of what they're doing?

G: Yeah, I'm glad they got it because I didn't have the chance.

E: Didn't have a chance. I'm sort of proud of what the Catawba Indians are
doing. Are you sort of proud to be married to a Catawba Indian? All of
you ought to get together and have a big reunion sometime and then you can
remember about all of the things. I noticed that you remembered the names
of the old people on pictures of the church and the school. When there
was a death on the reservation, would they ring the bell?

G: Finally they got to where they'd ring it.

E: Yes, and would they designate how old the person was by tapping the bell?

G: I don't think so. When I first went down there they'd walk around and
tell who was dead. Somebody would come walking and tell you who had died.

E: Your husband useEd] to help Chief Sam Blue with the Bible. Things that
he didn't know about the scripture he would explain to him. Tell me what
you remember about Chief Blue.

G: Well, all I couldn't tell you. I do remember him; he seems to be a good
man.

E: Yes.

G: He was always around there, he'd come to the house one time.

E: What special friends did you have? Women friends that you have down on
the reservation?

G: I didn't.

E: You kept busy lots of times I know.

G: Yes, I did not have special ones because I went around with all of them.
I stayed down there among them for better than forty-nine years.

E: Forty-nine years. That's a long time, isn't it?







8







G: Yes, we moved in and out.

G: I liked them all, it didn't bother me.

E: You liked them all. I can tell that.
This was a most interesting visit in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Maroni
I. George, in York. They lived in a small, neat white painted house along
the side of a small street not far from their son and daughter. It was
interesting to see how graciously I, the stranger, was received. Mr.
and Mrs. Mack George and Mrs. Brindle, the daughter, went with me to in-
troduce me. But they need not have gone because I was very graciously
received. Mr. George, the father, is a fine-looking man with Indian features
weathered by the years. He showed a kind spirit and a keen sense of humor.
Mrs. George is white, but she has completely entered the life of the Catawba
Indians. Although she does not read at all, she identified persons in the
oldest pictures I had, talked about the old church and school with a great
deal of enthusiasm and had a vivid memory of the old days. It interested
me that she, a white girl, had learned to make all kinds of Indian pottery,
and because of hard times, this pottery was most often exchanged for food
instead of money.





Full Text

PAGE 1

SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA In cooperation with the Catawba Nation INTERVIEWEE: Hattie George INTERVIEWER: Emma Echols DATE: September 1, 1976

PAGE 2

E: This is Emma Reid Echols, Rock Hill, South Carolina, route 6260. This is September 1, 1976. I am visiting with a friend in York, an Indian friend. I'm visiting in the home of Mr. and Mrs. George. Mrs. George, tell me what is your name? G: Hattie. E: Now your husband's name is G: Maroni. E: Maroni George, and you all have raised nine children. G: That's right. E: You used to live on the reservation and I know those were hard times. First of all, tell me about that pottery. Who taught you to make pottery? G: Emma George, his mother. E: His mother. Did she have molds to make it? G: Yes, she had molds to make the heads. E: But everything else was made by hand? G: The rest of it, all by hand. E: Did the men go to the river and bring you the clay? G: Most of the time we went. E: You went yourselves. Well, you were real smart to do that. You had two kinds of clay, didn't you? You had pipe clay and you had the pottery clay, is that right? G: Yeah. E: Tell me exactly how you made your pottery. G: I made it with my hands, cut them, rolled.them up, make them in my hands. E: Then what did you scrape it with?

PAGE 3

2 G: We waited until it got dry. When it got dry, used a knife. E: Did you put any decorations on your pottery, any little leaves or decora tions? G: Some of them had a little bit. E: A little bit. Do you like to make the little animals, like the frogs, birds, and turtles, or did you like to make the big pots? G: I made the big things. I made squirrels and I made turtles. E: Oh, you made squirrels. Nobody else has told me they made squirrels except you. Squirrels and turtles and ducks and frogs, different kinds of frogs, like that? And where did you go to sell that pottery? G: I sold some up here at the college . in Rock Hill and sold some of them up at Asheville. E: Some of it, that must be the Rock Hill, at Winthrop College. How long would it take you from the time you began making that pottery until you had it all fired and ready to sell? G: Sometimes take three or four weeks. E: Three or four weeks. G: Then I had to scrape them, rub them and burn them. E: Yes, and the burning was the final process, wasn't it? G: That's right. E: Were you disappointed sometime when you raked the ashes away and found some of them had broken? G: You can count up the broken when you take them out. E: That's right. light colors. I saw some of your pottery and all of yours are beautiful I want to know how you kept that pretty light golden color. G: Just burnt that way. E: Just burnt that way. Well, you've got some beautiful pieces. Do you still make some now? G: No, I haven't made any in a good while.

PAGE 4

E: You are eighty-three years old? G: Eighty-three. E: Eighty-three, but you could make it, couldn't you? G: Oh yes, I could but I don't have the time. 3 E: You . 1 re so busy looking after this husband and so forth. But I hope you will. Do you think the younger persons are learning to make pottery today? G: Going to do what? E: Are any of the young people learning to make pottery? G: Well, I tried to teach my young'uns and I don't know. I tried to teach one of my granddaughters and she didn't last too long. E: But you still want them to learn? G: Yeah. E: I believe down on the reservation they have regular classes that they are teaching that now. G: Yeah, I got a daughter down there building pots. E: You have? Now what's that daughter's name? G: Bertha Harris. E: Bertha Harris. Bertha Harris, your daughter, is teaching on the reservation. I know there's a big crowd of those youngsters that are down there learning; that's wonderful! Do you think there'll be a place for them to sell that pottery? G: Well, I think they will. Because there's people about quit making them. And them that can make them can show the younger ones. E: Yeah. G: She's down there making pots. E: Where do they fire the ones down on the reservation? Do they have to dig a pit to fire them in? G: I don't know how they going to do it. They use[dJ to burn them in the fire place.

PAGE 5

4 E: Did you ever make a piece of pottery that had a snake coiled around that pot? G: Yeah. E: You did? Who taught you to do that? G: I just made the vase and put a snake around it. E: You did? What kind of a snake were you doing? A copperhead? G: I don't know what kind . it was. I just made it. E: Well, that's a very, very old kind of a pot. G: Yeah. E: You made the gypsy pot with the little legs on it? G: Yes. E: You made the little long vase? G: Yeah, I make all kinds of them. E: All kinds of them. They tell me you were a real good cook and that one thing you like to bake down on the reservation was cornbread. How did you make that good old cornbread? G: I'm afraid I ain't much cooked on cornbread. I got and put me about ten spoonfuls of flour in my bowl and I put my eggs in there and I put onions in there and I put my meal. E: Meal. Now on the reservation you grated that corn. How did you grate that corn. Did you sometimes take a tin can and cut holes in it and nail it to pieces of board and you'd grate your corn there, that right? G: Yes. E: You're the first one that I ever heard tell that. That's very interesting. G: I did take the can, cut it open, and cut the holes in it, then begin to bend it over the board to where it'd stand and nail it down. We rubs the corn over that, just like you'd grate the cabbage. E: It'd be just like you'd grate cabbage for slaw. Were you the only one that had that kind of a grater?

PAGE 6

5 G: I imagine. I made that. E: You made that. Now what else did you like to have to eat on the reser vation? Did your husband bring you any fish or birds? G: No, he didn't, but he should have. E: But you had meat of some kind, wouldn't you? You had a garden? G: Sometimes we worked one. E: You lived down on the reservation most of your life. Tell me about when your babies were born. Who was your doctor? G: Dr. Hill was there when the oldest of them were born. E: He would come in a horse and buggy? G: Yeah. E: Sometimes if necessary he would just spend the night there, wouldn't he? Did he ever spend the night at your house? G: No. E: Then were the other children all born at your home? G: I had midwives. E: Midwives, yes. Where did you go to school? G: I didn't go [to] high school; I got married. E: Your husband went to Charlotte to marry you and then he brought you back to the reservation. G: He was working there when I met him in Charlotte. E: You went to church with him, the old church, didn't you? G: Yeah. E: Tell me about that old church. Did they ring the bell when you were supposed to come? G: Yes. They rang the bell every morning and in the evening when time for the meeting, they'd ring it.

PAGE 7

6 E: What did you sing? Did you sing the same old hymns we sing today? G: Well, not much. E: Did you ever hear them talk the Indian language? G: Yes, I have. E: But you didn't learn any of . it yourself? G: I couldn't talk it. E: Could your husband say any of it? G: No, he don't know none of it. E: He doesn't know any of it, either. Well, we're sorry that that has gone away. Your children went to school on the reservation, didn't they? G: Yes. They went to school in Columbia down there and some of them went to school here on the reservation. E: You moved up here to York and some of them went to school up here. G: Yes. E: They did not have any lunch program at the school then. Did your children all come home for lunch? G: No. E: They had lunch there for them? I believe Arzada Sanders cooked lunch for awhile. G: She did down there but didn't none of mine go then. E: Oh yes, that was later that she did. You're real proud of what your chil dren have done now. You've got a policeman in town that helps you keep straight. Where are your other children? You got a daughter here, I believe? G: Yeah, and I got one over in the country. E: They're all good to you, aren't they? G: I got one that's dead. E: You had nine children, how many are living?

PAGE 8

7 G: I got one out of Spartanburg, I got one over at Matthews [North Car olina]. E: You've scattered all around, aren't you? G: Yeah. One at Gaffney. No, she don't live there anymore. I got one down at Greenville now. E: All of your children have gotten a good education, haven't they? And made their way in this world? Are you proud of what they're doing? G: Yeah, I'm glad they got it because I didn't have the chance. E: Didn't have a chance. I'm sort of proud of what the Catawba Indians are doing. Are you sort of proud to be married to a Catawba Indian? All of you ought to get together and have a big reunion sometime and then you can remember about all of the things. I noticed that you remembered the names of the old people on pictures of the church and the school. When there was a death on the reservation, would they ring the bell? G: Finally they got to where they'd ring it. E Yes, and would they designate how old the person was by tapping the bell? G: I don't think so. tell who was dead. When I first went down there they'd walk around and Somebody would come walking and tell you who had died. E: Your husband use[dJ to help Chief Sam Blue with the Bible. he didn't know about the scripture he would explain to him. you remember about Chief Blue. Things that Tell me what G: Well, all I couldn't tell you. I do remember him; he seems to be a good man. E: Yes. G: He was always around there, he'd come to the house one time. E: What special friends did you have? Women friends that you have down on the reservation? G: I didn't. E: You kept busy lots of times I know. G: Yes, I did not have special ones because I went around with all of them. I stayed down there among them for better than forty-nine years. E: Forty-nine years. That's a long time, isn't it?

PAGE 9

G: Yes, we moved in and out. G: I liked them all, it didn't bother me. E: You liked them all. I can tell that. 8 This was a most interesting visit in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Maroni I. George, in York. They lived in a small, neat white painted house along the side of a small street not far from their son and daughter. It was interesting to see how graciously I, the stranger, was received. Mr. and Mrs. Mack George and Mrs. Brindle, the daughter, went with me to in troduce me. But they need not have gone because I was very graciously received. Mr. George, the father, is a fine-looking man with Indian features weathered by the years. He showed a kind spirit and a keen sense of humor. Mrs. George is white, but she has completely entered the life of the Catawba Indians. Although she does not read at all, she identified persons in the oldest pictures I had, talked about the old church and school with a great deal of enthusiasm and had a vivid memory of the old days. It interested me that she, a white girl, had learned to make all kinds of Indian pottery, and because of hard times, this pottery was most often exchanged for food instead of money.