Interview with L. R. Thomas, May 19, 1971

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Interview with L. R. Thomas, May 19, 1971
Thomas, L.R. ( Interviewee )
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Gainesville High School (Alachua County) Oral History Collection ( local )
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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.

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Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
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This interview is part of the 'Gainesville High School' 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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L.R. Thomas
typist aml

I: University of Florida libraries and Oral History Project and we're talking with

Mr. L. R. Thomas. Mr. Thomas, where were you born and how long ago?

T; I was born 18... December the sixth, 1896 right here in this county, was Alachua

county at that time.

I: It was Al'chua county then?

T: Yeah.

I; When was it Gilcrest County? When was it changed to ....?

T: if my memory serves me correctly it was in '25 but I'm, I wouldn't want

to be sure of that, I can't be sure of it but I think it was '25.

I; Have you ever lived anywhere other than in this general vicinity?

T: No where else. Been here all my life.

I; Have you visited other places?

T: Well, uh, very little. I've been in Georgia, some parts of Georgia and Carolina

a little bit. My folks, when they were coming' down and they lived in Virginia

and in the Carolinas, down in Georgia, over around Thomasville, Georgia then on

down here in what's, uh, uh, Bradford and Union County now. in

here, they was stout people and they were looking' for places, at that time

it was open range, ya see, and they were looking' for places to raise stock.

This was an open community in here so they settled here.

I: You've been a farmer all your life?

T: All my life.

I; What do you usually raise?

T; I raise livestock.

I; Livestock.

T: Right on. Cattle and hogs. And, uh, we grow a little tobacco, some peanuts,

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a small acerage of peanuts and some corn. This stuff is all under base and

control, as ou know probably. And, uh, we don't grow, well, we've never had

I believe it's three 'n some, three acres of cot... I believe is as much

tobacco as we've ever had. Maybe a few and a few nuts very similar to

that. Therefore we had to look to livestock which was all... we, we we're

natural to livestock people, we like it, always have. _I've

got any knowledge.

I: Uh, what was your schooling like?

T: Ha, ha, ha, ha. Uh, well, I hope I can tell ya so, uh, our schools was

two, sometimes three months of school. I never remember

over four an' that wasn't very often. And that was in the, uh, we grew long

cotton, I might add, in those days and the boll weevil later on, uh, knocked

it out so we just continued long cotton. But, uh, we'd have to grow these

uh, we had, they had to have those schools, uh, at a time when the children

were available. See, school, because people had to work. They, they

all worked, the whole family worked. And, uh, so there... therefore they did

have Very short schools and, uh, sometimes they didn't

even have school. Our, well none of my ancestors that I really knew, like my

grandmother 'n father 'n aunts didn't have any education at all... they were.

And now that my father could write, he wrote a very beautiful hand and he

was, he could read real good and he could do his figuring. He figured well in

his head so, uh, that was about the extent of his education.

I: Uh, did you gt to any particular grade, like, uh, eighth grade or seventh grade?

T: Uh, Carol, it seemed to me that I, I, uh, went to the sixth grade as well as

I recall. I believe that was right. It was, uh, I think the teaching' possibly

was a lot different, the school's was entirely different then to know, see.

And we had to, uh, pack all we could into this short term of school. We

had to get all we could out of it. And I might add at this point there that


this cotton was to pick, see, when they, when the feed, when it was open and

ready to pick we needed to pick it because of the weather conditions. And, uh,

well, if that cotton needs pickin' you're just out of school, see.

I: Uh huh. Um, what sort of religious training did you have?

T: Baptist.

I: Baptist?

T: Baptist.

I: Did you, your parents and your family go to church every Sunday 'n?

T: Well, no. Uh, my, my daddy did and, uh, my mother, well, my mother died when I

was an infant and I was raised by a stepmother and, uh, she, incidentally, he

was married three times. He had, uh, eight children by his first wife, two by

his second, which, I was the baby of those two. And uh, than eight by his

last wife.

I: Eight by his last wife?

T: Yeah. The baby was born after his death. And, uh, the church,uh, I've not been

an active member in church like I should have. I, I agree to that. But, uh,

I read my Bible, I study it daily. I, when I say read it, I, I try to study

my Bible, see, for what it says. Take it for what it says. And the, uh,

see how I can apply it to my life and to others 'cause I deal with others.

So that's that's the way I try to live, just as nearly as I can by the way

it teaches.

I: What was an average day for you when you were seventeen?

T: Uh, uh at work?

I: Uh,just an average day. What did you do and you know, in a day?

T: Oh, gee, well, we, we didn't know, uh, Caroli... when I was seventeen, ha, uh, I

I was, uh,... lemme see now.if I can get that straight. I worked for a

dollar a day and took that, that was at a saw mill and you worked from daylight

till dark. And, uh, we took lumber then in exchange for my labor, see. And, uh,

whatever the job was, uh, it didn't make any different if it was saw mill or

GHS 17A 4

cross ties, this was a well timbered-area through here and, uh, that was the

way we, uh, picked up our little cash money was by working in these

and things that we needed like this lum... lumber, which we did need on the

farm. I would be trading' labor for that lumber and it was based on a dollar

i -ay and the lumber was based at ten dollars a

U: .... Gainesville... everything like that.

I: Okay. Yeah, what was Gainesville like when you were young? Did you...

T: Ah, yes.

I: ... to Gainesville much?

T: We, my daddy was, uh, County Commissioner of that county and, uh, I don't know,

don't remember how many years of terms. But, uh, I was too young and then, uh,

uh, at this time I was the oldest child, see, at home. Now he had, I had a

sister, I was the oldest boy, let me put it with that. I had a sister, a full

sister that was eight years older than I and then the last wife that he married

had a sister of her same age that was an orphan child. And they raised her.

So, uh, uh, naturally I was needed at home, see, and, uh, was... it was a, a

day and night trip to drive from here to Gainesville, see, with a horse

and buggy. And, uh, I didn't go to Gainesville. Now my mother, step-mother

went once in a while with him. And, uh, so then they, I guess I was, uh

well I believe that I was seventeen years old and he died. Then after that

I had to go in and pay taxes and things like that, see. And, uh, Gainesville

was, uh, a small place. It was, uh, had us a Vick Street as I recall and the

railroad went right uh... just _west of the courthouse. And, uh, of

course the courthouse was, uh, it was not a big building at that time, the

university was, uh, I recall in, uh, pardon me for making this interruption,

I that in, in 1819 and 20 up to 24 I growed white leggin' chickens and

there wasn't too many of 'em in the area and a fellow by the name of Davison,

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3rad Davison, ran a restaurant in High Springs and I'd sell most of the eggs

a good many of the eggs to him. In fact he gave me a little more than anybody

else would give us I gave him all he could use. And he got, uh,

he said to me one day, he said uh, uh, this goin' right into Gainesville.

Fellow had F little model T car sometimes and good friend of

mine. I had two cases of eggs that he couldn't use which

and he said, uh, lemme me sell em over there for you. And I told him O.K. and

so the next week when I come back why he had pay for 'em and he had got a

considerable increase in price at the university above what he could pay me

in High Springs see. So I continued... I'd I'd take 'em to High Springs on the, uh,

buggy and put 'em on the train and ship 'em down there sometimes but in case

someone going that would carry 'em, take 'em down that way. But it was, uh, uh,

the place that we went into, I recall was a small building, it was not a, it was

not a big building in fact there wasn't very many big buildings and it was, uh,

very little. I can't recall but one brick and that was this

one down in front of the courthouse, there could have been more but I don't, I don't

remember. There was some sidewalks and things like that, you know, that, uh, I

remember one fellow, Burline, who was a newsman and on the sidewalk from the

depot around to his was uh, every so often a mule track. He was, uh,

an' I don't know if he didn't continue on in Gainesville as a newsman as long as

he lived probably.

I : Uh, Mr. Thomas, what was, uh, during the election years where di d you go to vote?

T: We went to a, it was a town, Timber Quarters, see, is what it was, with a

side track over here on this, uh, little seaboard road goes right, used to go out

to it only goes to Bell I believe now. And, uh, they had a, I believe

that possibly that road was put in there about 1900, 1901, somewhere in that area

and they had this votin: that was the votin' precinct. That's where we went to

GHS 17A 6


I : Uh, d... would... did the, uh, how did you find out like when you voted, did you
vote for presidents, national presidents and when you did how did you find

out, were there signs and stuff like there are now... speeches?

T: Oh no, not so much so, uh, Joe, there was very little adveritsement and usually

you would have, uh, voter heads in the area that kept informed like, uh, we had a

sheriff, I recall, uh, uh, sheriff sheriff, uh, Ramsey and old men like

Wengis, Sam Wengis was once clerk of the courts there and the Mason, George

Mason was, uh, let's see what was the Masons, but anyway those folks would keep

people like us better informed I might say. They, uh, they'd keep, uh, have a

little better way of known' and,uh, some of them would come, I'm not saying

that they, they ruled the vote now, but they had the influence be.. because they

were men we confidence, we believed in 'em. We thought they were good men. And, uh,

naturally he had a little better information on presidents and governors and so

forth than we did.

I : Um, around the time of getting a little farther along, around the time of maybe
World War I and the twenties and the depression, how did these events affect life

in this area like the war and the depression?

T: Well, uh, the depression, of course, we, we were never we, we had no means of

money, raising money, see. This little livestock that we raised was, uh, uh, a

means of money but, uh, it was slow, see, it was once a year. The long cotton

was a means of money and it was once a year. And, uh, along about that time

before we were, knocked this cottnn out, and cattle went extremely cheap to follow

that. The timber that was here helped to, uh, I guess, was one of the biggest

helps around during that time because, uh, at that time timber did bring

good prices. Uh, turpentine brought a good price. We had a lot of lumber. See

they had small stills located all about there was one other And, uh, so

it was a, a continuous, I guess from the time of the railroad come, maybe before

GHS 17A 7

but I don't think so, I think that, uh, it was there after the railroad come

in there. But the timber had a lot to do with, because you could sell, uh,

see they worked a good many people and even the wages was cheap

than the farm comodoties were cheap and you could, uh, exchange it for other food

and could sell it and pick up a little cash that way. Then they, uh, well naturally

we had been, so far back as I have any knowledge, we were used to raising

what we ate, most of what we ate on the farm,see. And, uh, uh, all the garden

vegetables, ___ potatoes and things like that we grew that ourselves. Oranges

we had, uh, fruit, uh, grapefruit, never could raise tangerines for some reason

but we had oranges. They were trees but they were beautiful trees.

They more area right east of here and if, uh, you.,know enough

about this little that I'm talking' about on this tract over here, uh, it's

right out where we lived. We lived just north of Williford out there. Well they

had mills they had saw mills, they had turpentine, they had cross ties

and a man could, uh, if you had a day or any amount of time which you could spare,

you could get work to do at these places, see, at that price... come in son.

Didn't the trouble. And, uh, yeah let's see now, uh...

well they, the money, of course you had to raise your taxes by some means. Taxes

was very, very cheap but then it was very hard to get 'em. Uh,: I recall one

time and, uh, I, maybe I shouldn't make this statement at this time.

I: No, do it.

I : Go ahead.
I: Do it.

T: I was uh, was in June and it was an awful hot day and I was hoeing potatoes and

I came in for noon and, uh, there was a man there dressed well, very clean and

neat and, uh, so he was sitting' on the porch when I come up and, uh, I had

to put my horses inside. I come on in. Well, I was just as dirty as a man would

GHS 17A 8

very well get on a farm, see. I doubt if he could hardly tell whether I was, uh,

black or white. But anyway I come on in and spoke to him and asked him to

excuse my conditions and, uh, he did very kindly so when I washed up an' come

to sit down why he told me who he was and what his business was. And he was

a tax collector of that county. So, you could imagine what that

meant. I had left my taxes over see. And, uh, so I said, well, um,

you know I'm in no better shape now than I was, I believe they come due in

November, maybe. And then you have, uh, now three or four

months to pay 'em. the time passed off and I still didn't find the

money to pay those taxes with and he said, uh, well, he said, we carried it

as long as we can carry it so we'll have to, we'll have to make some arrangements

about it. And I stuttered a bit and I said, well, I wouldn't know how to make

those arrangements, you didn't make those arrangements

conveniently, you could do it by goin' out and putting'

and, uh, first of all there was not too many banks and the next thing was that

there wasn't too many, uh, neighbors that had that money, see. And, uh, so one

of these, uh, while he and I were in this discussion about the the property

tax, one of those timber men come along which was a very good friend of

mine. And naturally, he wanted to talk to me and he drove on up and stopped

and he could hear the, overhear the conversation. Well, the boy, uh, I didn't

bring still don't, you know, but I had those horses, was the only

dependents I had to make a living with. And he said that he would have to

tie those horses up if I didn't pay this tax. And I said well I couldn't,

I can't spare those horses. I have to have 'em. So he insisted that I get the

money somehow and this guy drove up in time to hear that part of it,see, and, uh,

so, uh, he interrupted, he said, uh, I, I don't often do this but sir, I'd like...

could I add a word here? And I told him he most certainly could so he asked

the man what the taxes were and the fellow told him and, uh, and he says I got that

GHS 17A 9

much money in my pocket, says I'll pay it for 'im. And he did. I believe it was

seventeen dollars. Well taxes is high now but then you have a better way, the

farmers do, uh, not everyone knows this but,the, the depression and things like

that was bad. It was, it was very bad and, uh, but there again we knew how to

grow our foods,see and, uh, we had depended on those livestock, which was, it was

a small amount of money. Because I drove thousands of 'em out of here, 5, 6, 7

dollars a head.

I: Um..did you take 'em to an, an auction or a ...?

T: No, no auctions. You bought... somebody come through buying. Uh, maybe he

could buy a carload or maybe he could buy a trainload depending on where they went.

And then everybody sold whatever amount he had to sell or could spare at that time,

see. And, uh, some of the cattle, we drove 'em to various places, uh, Ft. White,

High Springs, Branford, it was loadin' places, it was that load 'em their see.

I've load 'em at Bell. I remember uh, driving' to Bell and loadin' but never

not very much. Most of it went to Branford and to Fort White. There was a man

with a name of Joel at Fort White that dealt in cattle.

Uh, in fact he and well, he and my daddy were in the war together and he lost

a arm in the war. Well, I don't know that they were right together but anyhow

it was the same war. Might have been together but they were very good friends,

very close. And, uh, at any time he could handle those cattle why, he did

the .Uh, my daddy sold all his cattle that he could to this old man

And we'd help to drive 'em out High Springs and

across the river and in at his farm back in Columbia County.

I: Uh, did you fight in World War I or World War II?

T: No, never did have to go to war.

I: You never had... were you ever drafted?

T: Yeah

I: You were?

GHS 17A 10

T: Yeah. Th, I, I forgot what, uh, we was, I was turned down. was, well,

dependents I believe at that time. And, uh, uh, maybe it was going towards the latter

part of the war.

I: Would you have minded going to war?

T: No.

I: No?

T: No. No, at that time we felt it was our duty.

I: Do you feel that people today who, who, uh, say they don't want to go to war, they

don't want to be drafted are unpatriotic?

T: Uh, well, that would depend some, Carol, on what their, what their reason was. I'm

not sure but I believe then that you could be, uh, I don't know whether they would,

I don't know whether they would defer you on that ground or not at that time. I don't

believe they would have.

I: A conscientious objector.

T: Yeah, I, but I, I don't ever recall one, uh, doin' that

Uh, no, we, we really, uh, we felt that it was our duty if it was necessary to

fight for our country.

I; Your father fought in World War I or...

T: Oh yes.

I; ... or in the...

T: No...

I: Spanish-American?

T: No, in the Confederate War.

I: He fought in the Civil War?

T: Yeah.

I: Oh me...

I : Did he ever tell you stories about the war?

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T: Yeah. Yeah, he and this old man _uh, my daddy was

wounded, uh, I believe he was wounded, uh, maybe the third time. And, uh,

my undle was, -h, he, he, he was wounded. And he volunteered, he volunteered

and went below his age. old man took his place here. Uh,

he was too young for 'em to, to, uh, sign for,'im so he just...

I; Took off?

T: ... took off. and went.

I: mumble)

: I know there's so, so, uh, many things, Joe, Carol and, and David that I, that I

don't really know about. Now I read the paper some, I never watch television. I

read the paper. And, uh, like I said, I read my Bible daily and, uh, just to

evade war if there was no other reason, I don't think a man has a right to do that

because we have to defend our, our country. Uh, if we don't do it, why, of course

you know what happens. And, uh, it may happen anyway but then, uh, for instance,

this farm. Uh, see, I've worked all my life for the farm and uh, did some just

as hard work as any man ever did in this area. I made some just as long hours

as any man ever did. Well if, uh, an outsider then wanted to take over this

farm I wouldn't feel like lettin' him have it, would you?

I: No

T: Well, that's the way we felt about our country. We, we felt like that, uh,uh, whether

we, uh, I'm sayin' that I don't know all... you folks probably read enough to, to

venture about some things that I never knew about, don't know about yet. But, uh,

uh, for instance if, uh, if a person, let it be decide they

wanna take something that they haven't earned, haven't done anything to earn and

you have earned it and earned it honestly and then I don't believe in that

person takin' it.

I : Okay... Mr. Thomas, what is your Idea of a good life?

GHS 17A- 12

T: Well I believe that, uh, I have followed it as far as I know in, in my weak

manner of trying to describe it. I try to live honest first of all with my

fellow man, my God and myself. So, then I believe in, uh, working I never minded

work. Of all the... I.... uh, I could prove this later today by livin' beings

that I have done some of the hardest manual labor as, as any white man or colored

either has ever done in this area. 'Cause I cut cross ties, I cross

ties, I I worked at the saw mill, I, uh worked

in turpentine, I did some of the other things what you do in timber, except

at an overhead skidder I never did work at an overhead skidder I was


I: What's an overhead skidder?

T: An overhead skidder. It's a big, uh, uh, powerful machine we use to pull the timber

out of the swamps with. They have a right over yonder for maybe a half

a mile or three-quarters and they have 'em anchored well, at both ends and they

have this, uh, big that runs that cable. And beginning here, pulling

the timber out, why it opens up it's own So they go the full

lengths of that line then with that overhead and.... the thing... and, oh, those

trees, you have both pine and cyprus. And, uh, they was no entertainment

at that time, see, but as we had to work, which we had to if we made an honest

living. Now you just didn't make an honest livin' without working, see? And that

we knew .... we didn't know any way of making, And, uh, then when night come, why

you were tired and want to sleep, see. You know. Had a good night's rest, the next

morning we was fresh and ready to go back to work again.

I: There wasn't any entertainment like, uh, dances or...?

T: On the fourth of July I recall that there was, uh, over here at this East Sutton

which is, uh, you know East Sutton Springs? Well they had, uh, a little dance

place out there. Then up here, right here at, uh, at this lake they had a little

dancing place there on the fourth of July... it's right here. Uh, Beach

GHS 17A 13

an' things would usually attend those places and-their little get acqqainted

speaking' and so forth on election years. Now it was, oh, I was a married man

before I ever saw any, any dances.

I: Um, were there any courting customs and... you know... what was the typical age

for people to be married around here?

T: Mostly I would say around, uh, anywhere from... occasionally they might come

below twenty but most of the time it was twenty to twenty-five or six years-

old. There would be, uh, a few exceptions that I would recall, see, that, uh,

where they would marry younger than that but not too many of 'em.

I: How old did the woman marry?

T: The women? Uh, they'd usually be about the same age. There wasn't a lot of

difference. There was only, uh, two months difference with me and my wife's age.

My, my birthday was the sixth of December and her's, the sixth of February.

I: Was there sort of a, a dating or a visiting type...?

T: Yeah, there was, uh, local churches all about some of the communities. Some of

'em made ten mile apart. But, uh, naturally as the community began to develop

and more people come in why there was, uh, more churches. And, uh, they would

meet at these churches an' they'd have their, uh, services different then

mostly to what they do now, I guess. Th, they'd, they'd have services there

Saturday and Sundays, Saturday nights and sometimes Sunday nights. So that's

where they mostly got acquainted was at those churches. And that was mostly

their dates. Ha, ha, ha...

I: Were you chaperoned?

T: No.

I: ... very heavily?

T: I never was.

I: How many children did you have?

T: Nine. Ten, I lost my first one. Five boys and five girls. The first one

GHS 17A 14


I : Uh, how long usually wa... is... was the engagement period? From the time
when the boy would say wou... the man would say would you marry me and the

girl would say yes until the time they got married. Was it long or short?

T: Uh, I think that would vary considerably, Joe. But, uh, uh, it was three

years from the time I asked my wife if she would marry me before we got married.

I : What, what sort of kind of wedding did you have? Did you have, uh, a party
type wedding where you where you had the whole ?

T: No. That didn't happen very, very much in, in my knowledge or in, or in this

community, see. It would usually be at a church, uh, most of it and, uh, once

in a while in the home. Uh, it would depend on circumstances and conditions

there. There were various things that would, that would change that but

I'd say that most of 'em were in the church or in her home.

I: Did you go to live at your own house? Were you living away from home by now

and had your own farm or did yop live with her parents or yours?

T: Uh, no, at this, oh... well I stated that I was the oldest boy in the family

at that time, see, and my mother and uh, and her children, of course her

oldest son then got married before I did. Uh, uh, but when my daddy died, uh,

he asked me to take care of her and her children, see, and I took that responsibility.

So I did that and when, uh... now he and his wife went to live with her. Uh, me

and my wife lived there two months but, uh, we soon moved out to another little

farm right near. I had the... I had the little old farm when, uh, when we got



T: Now I have acquired all these other farms

I: How much land... Joel...

I : How much....
I: How much land do you have all together now?

GHS 17A 15

T: Well there's seventeen hundred and sixty acres of it, Carol. Incidentally, this

was a good watermelon section and I love to grow watermelons and I growed 'em

from the time I come here right on till four years ago.

I: You don't grow them anymore?

T:; No. You couldn't get labor to move 'em. The last crop that I growed we had, oh boy,

we had watermelons.... but I couldn't move 'em and I just... it's a... it's a good

food for livestock but it's not practical, see. But I could grow watermelons

in connection with, uh, with my other farm men over there... hogs 'n cattle.

Uh, you see the things that we took so seriously, uh, : like the Dicken

Law with cattle. Uh, it was, it was, uh, it was a forced thing... you had to

do it and, uh, it, it hurt some people, but, uh, after all it was a of

the cattle.

I: What was it, the Dicken Law?

T: Well, there was a, there was a tick here see, that was poisonous to cattle and that

tick was in the woods and the cattle were in the woods and, uh, by enforcing this

law it put the cattle inside and off of the range and it also irradicated that

tick. I hadn't know of any of 'em in years and years. So then various things

could come about like, uh, uh, diseases among your calves and cattle and things

that, uh, well, there was no remedy for it. They just died. And now then they

have, uh, things to offset that tick. Well this particular bomb right

here, when I moved here you could hardly raise a calf here you had to

be very very cautious with it. And now we raise calves here all the time.

That was the point with this place I owned. I kept that thing for a number

of years because it was an ideal place for cattle if it had 'a been

I had it fenced, see, yesterday to control the whole thing except something

that you can't have any control over, uh, is not worth much to you.

I: and

conduct a dig didn't you?

GHS 17A 16

T: Uh, no. In the time that this thing, uh, really developed, uh, I didn't own

this farm, see, then. Uh, I rented this place right here, the first two

hundred and forty acres. I rented it for four years. I moved in in '28.

And, uh, these other places were... later on... I didn't quite finish my

story there. They created a... there was so much of this land that was

completely off of tax records, see. There was no taxes bein' paid on it.

What had happened, uh, re,re,re... the honor couldn't, the, the mortgage he

couldn't... uh, well, anybody that that wanted to went out there to

cut what little of timber there was out there. So he couldn't afford

to invest no more in it. And, uh, uh, then they created a, a what they call

a Murphey Act, uh, to get this land back on tax tolls. I forgot what year

that was. And, uh, but anyhow, they made it a law, see and, uh, oh, any

thousands and thousands of acres of land was sold for

nothin- just to get it back on tax rolls Uh, I, I never... I don't have

an acre, I don't... there's not an acre of this land that I bought that way.

I bought every acre I owned from the individual and paid him his price for

it. Every one of 'em. And,uh, in that time, the first, the first that I

can recall about it was that, uh, evidentally, they don't have to pay any tax,

see? The university doesn't have to pay any tax. So a fellow by the name of

R. E. Davis that was sheriff here for years and, uh, he was familiar with

all these things. He could of turned 'em in and he was interested and he

begin to buy up those, uh, pieces of land to buy that tax ,

and that was included. And, uh, it had been, uh, neglected by somebody, I guess

the tax collector or I don't know who. But anyhow, uh, when after he had

gotten a certificate on it or maybe a deed to it, seems to me he tole me he

got a deed to that thing and found out then that it belonged to the University

of Florida, he gave it back to 'em. And, uh, no, I, I didn't have any possession

GHS 17A 17

of it at all, Carol, at the time they got over there with it. I don't know

I'm not sure just how they got over there but well it was

in that time right along in there when, uh, it was a kindof a no man's land here.

I: (mumble)

T: It was a Thomas farm, see.

I : Ray__
T: Yeah.

I : Do you know him?
T: Yeah. They, uh, how, how they started the name of the Thomas farm was I

imagine because it was, it had been the Thomas farm, see. Old man, E. D. Thomas

And, uh, which is my uncle Uh, it was his homesite, that's where he

homesteaded. And this, uh, surrounding land here is, uh, I have bought. Oh,

I bought it from different people that owned it at that time.

I : Around the time your life has there been many changes...
I : ... changes of life styles, like has, have you noticed much change in the way
that things are done like in the kitchen an' around the farm, coming of

machinery and stuff like that?

T: Oh, yes. Tremendous so. See we, when we were doin' all this work, all this

timber work, most of it was done with, uh, mules and oxen and men. Uh, those

skidders that I spoke of and they had a little they built those little roads,

roads, railroads back out into this timber which was, uh, uh, at a very

slow speed. They had a powerful motors, see, engine but it went along very

slowly. And, uh, the jacks was, uh, well they couldn't afford to done any

other way. But they'd git that timber over there and, uh, then later on why

they, they occasionally somebody, a doctor maybe, would have an automobile

and, uh, I don't know it must have been '16 or '17 they begin to get

a and a Well, there again they was, some of these

GHS 17A 18

fellows, there was one man that I remember and his name was Thomas, had a saw

mill out here. And he stacked up millions and millions of feet of lumber

out there. And that fellow by the name of Gilbert the same

way. They stored those spirits they... robbin' was a fair price and they

got enough out of it to operate on to store those spirits which kept

getting' cheaper and cheaper and cheaper. So they began to store and, now they

were bein' backed by the Naval store people which was another big concern

that handled those things, see. And, uh, big companies like Grass and, uh,

there are many others but I can't think of 'em now that would do the lumber

and timber the same way. Well, they stacked this, uh, cyprus lumber, there

was just millions and millions and acres of it that was stacked back there

in those woods in I guess they put 'em fifteen, eighteen

feet high. And it dried out there, air dried, see. Well then some big

company, I believe this company w:" in Virginia, I'm not sure about that,

but anyway, they'd come in and buy up this stuff, see. And,uh, in that way

uh, some farmers would get his first vehicle. Uh, this man would pay 'em so

much to haul that stuff for him, lumber and things of that nature. And he'd

haul it out and, uh, pay for his, well it just cost him five... maybe five

hundred fifty, sixty dollars which, uh,were mostly Model T's. Well, within

a years time we, most of the time he'd work it out within a year.

I : Mr. Thomas, what lessons do you feel that you have learned from life?
T: Well, I don!t know how to say that, uh, Joe, but, uh, many lessons because of

uh, I think that's one thing that we have, the various, uh, changes in life.

I think we take it for a lesson, see, uh, like, uh, oh, let me put it like the..,.

What I had to use what I've got in knowledge of see, Joe and, uh, like our

cattle, uh, dictum...

I : Uh huh.

GHS 17A 19

T: ... uh, that, that was a lesson to us. We had to accept it as such. Like your

uh, tobacco acreages for farmers, uh, you see, you heard me say it. I have

a small acreage, uh, which I'm not complaining about that. It might sound to

you like I was complaining but I was not. Uh, see I was not a, a... in Carolina

you pick, uh, and even Georgia they's farmers there would have fields and fields

of tobacco, see. Peanuts the same way And, uh, but my information was to

follow livestock and that's the way I worked along. So, uh, uh, all those things

I have to say they had been a lesson to me. Then one of the greatest lessons

that I could, uh, think of right at this moment would be to, uh, to try to get along

with people, get along with my fellow man whatever and whenever and wherever it

may be. Uh, you folks are strange to me but, uh, then you feel right at home.

I want you t feel that way. I'd feel the same way to you. I'd feel like I

was talking' to a group of my own, uh, family or friends or people ;that I have

know, see. So that's, uh, I, I learned that which I didn't know too much of

to start with. God if a boy beat me to the bat, I, I didn't know but what I

ought to try to take it away him,see. I learned that that didn't work so well.

And, uh, many things that, uh, as I say, I wouldn't know how to find,... I couldn't

find the words to make it sound interesting to anybody but myself, maybe, but

that is it. I take the hardships of life to help make, uh, knowledge and

understanding and lessons for me. I think if it was all godd, we wouldn't know

what the bad was like, see. If it was all bad we wouldn't know what the good

was like. So I think we need the two to make us, uh, fully aware that they do

have two and then to know how to deal with 'em would be a wonderful lesson.

Uh, to be perfectly honest with your God and with your fellow man and with

yourself is, uh, .to me one of the greatest lessons that I've learned in life.

I don't know whether that, uh, meets your question as it should or not but it

was as pod as I knew how to give you,

GHS 17A 20

I : That's fine.
I: does.

I : Okay, play it.