Part of the GAGenWeb Project.
"But That Wasn't Yesterday"
Minnie Jane Henderson Griffin Interview
By Christopher Boyd
The following interview was taped on 19 August 1972 between Minnie Jane Henderson Griffin and me at her home out of Waycross, Ware County, GA. It was taped in the living room with the following people present: Thyra Floree Griffin Addison; Dennis Joe Boyd; Rhonda Gennise Boyd; Lavell Davis; Myrtle Loree Griffin Boyd Davis; Alice Virginia Griffin Eastland; and Gordon William "Bill" Huott. Grandmother has just celebrated her 88th birthday the day before. She began to talk before I got the tape recorder turned on. The mantel clock, which she and Granddaddy bought from Sears and Roebuck for eight dollars many years ago when the children were small, strikes 4. No, he was 18 (Joseph Daniel Griffin 25 Sept 1882-2 April 1964) and I was 16 (Minnie Jane Henderson 18 Aug 1884-18 July 1981) and we went to his uncle's. He was sick (Daniel Martin married Joe's Aunt Elender Griffin 20 Mar 1848-?) and we went there and I thought he was the best looking boy I ever saw nearly. But I didn't see that boy no more in seven months. And he came to our house one day with his cousin (William Martin) and we all went to the cane patch to get cane and there was an old knife which wasn't worth a thing and some of them got a hold of that, come back and they put it in his hat. And his cousin says, "Joe, your hat has stole the knife." He said "Well, it has. I'll keep it." And he had forgotten it and when he was a going home and they saw some birds beside the road he thought he would reach inside his pocket and get his pen and chunk'em. And he reached in there and it was that knife. And you know he wouldn't go back home no more in, I don't know, nearly a year. He was so shamed. And they teased him and said if he went back my Daddy would run him off. Finally, though, he did go back and (laughs) Annie (Her sister Annie Eliza 26 Feb 1887-17 Sept 1980.) slip back there and wrote in his notebook and says, "Joe my darlin, Joe, my dear, Joe don't love me, And I don't care." I didn't know which one he was wanting to go see, her or me. But I finally found out. He hadn't see me seven months before we got married but (pause)...
Do you remember when he asked you to marry him? Where were you and what you were doing? We was in the buggy and one of the girls was standing on the back. My Mother wouldn't let us go by our selves. Noooo! That would have been a shame. So, one of the girls, I think it was Nora, standing on the back of the buggy. He asked me to marry him and she said she don't remember hearing it. I reckon she was paying attention to something else. (It was Sarah Martin.) And I didn't see that man from the two weeks from the time we went to get married and he come to marry me. It was so far you know and you had to ride a horse. From the time I saw him he came but in two weeks. I told him I was afraid he'd back out. I hadn't seen him in so long, but he didn't.
Remember that little story about saying it was a long way to come over here and what you told him? (It was a 10 miles trip from Ruskin where he lived.) Oh, (he he he) He says, "I'm getting tired of coming so often." And I says, "You hadn't got to come." I said, "Nobody's making you come." He says, "Oh, you know what I mean."
Did he ask Granddaddy if you...
Yeah, he asked. He went way up the road and saw my Daddy (James Monroe Henderson 28 Jan 1854-3 Oct 1928) coming round the field. He met him down there and he said he was grinning so bad and he asked him and he said my Daddy cried. Well, I said, he don't belong to cry. He says, "He did that time." But he never said nothing against it.
What was that your Daddy told you about marrying Granddaddy?
He didn't care only he said, "He's so little and sickly." He had malaria
fever nearly every summer. He said, "That man's not able to work for a
family. He wouldn't be able to support a family." I said, "Well, I guess
we'll have as much as we've always had." I said, "I'm gonna marry him just
the same." I married him and we raised eight children. Had ten and we raised eight of them till Darrell, till LD (Leon Dawson "LD" 21 Mar 1913-22 Dec 1971) died last Christmas. We had it tough but we stuck together. The harder the time the tighter we stuck.
Now where abouts did you get married? Was it home or...
At home. We married at home.
And do you remember who was there, or...
The Justice of the Peace married us. (David McQuaig from Glenmore.) People will say you have to get married by a preacher to make it stick. I said, "No you don't because we lived together sixty-one years and five months and a Justice of the Peace married us." (20 Nov 1902)
Do you remember who was at the wedding?
Noooo. There was a house full.
Well, where did you first start your house keeping and what did you have?
Huuuu Lawd. I had a stove, a new stove. That's all the new thing I had.
Do you remember what kind it was? What it looked like?
It was a nice--it was a pretty little thing made out of sheet iron it looked
like and it didn't last two years. I don't know. I don't know what was the
Yeah. But that's the only new piece of furniture we had. I tell my children
if they had to start off like we did they'd just turn around and go back home.
Where abouts did you live when you first married?
We lived at his Daddy's (Peter Griffin 24 Oct 1843-6 Oct 1916) in a house
down in the field. And the Old Man give him a hundred and fifty acres of land and a horse and a saddle and a bridle and a cow and a calf. And my Daddy gave me a hog. Ha ha ha. And they give us some chickens. Oh, we thought we was just fixed up and we was. (Peter and Margaret Thrift Griffin's children:
William Owen 25 April 1867-25 Nov 1954; Sallie 25 Sept 1868-12 Dec 1926; Peter Jackson 1870-1952; James Robert 10 April 1873-1 Feb 1953; David Patrick 14 Sept 1875-14 Feb 1958; Mollie 1877-1926; Cynthia Ann 1880-?; Joseph Daniel 25 Sept 1882-2 April 1964; Matthew Mark Luke John 30 Oct 1886-12 Nov 1961; Lillie Rosabelle 21 Mar 9 April 1947) Well, do you remember how many rooms were on the house?
Hmmmm. There weren't none. There was one room. Just one big house and a side room on it for a kitchen and a front porch. Now that's what it had. But we built more.
Well now, what other kind of furniture did you have? Oh, we had two bedsteads and my Mother (Nancy Ann Bennett Henderson 13 Sept 1860-14 Dec 1957) gave me two, three quilts and two pillows and a feather bed and a mattress. His Mother (Margaret "Margie" Thrift 1843-1927) gave him one mattress and two pillows and a bolster. What they called a bolster them days. Just one long pillow, and I didn't know what to do with it so I cut it into and made two pillows out of it. But we quilted. Mae (Mae Clara 13 Sept 1889-23 Jan 1983) my sisters went and stayed with me and we quilted five quilts. We made it.
What was your first child? It was a boy but it didn't live but a week.
The second child?
Thelma, she come along. (Thelma Grace 17 Oct 1904-7 Dec 1980)
Do you remember why you named her Thelma?
Just because I thought it was an odd name. Then there wasn't any children named Thelma then hardly.
Do you remember where you heard the name? (Here I am hoping she will remember that she saw the name in a novel she had read.)
Uh uh. Then the next one was Thyra. (Thyra Floree 31 1908-15 Aug 1996) I've never heard of no Thyra since. But still the only Thyra I know of. (Thyra is another name she came across when reading as a young girl.)
And then who was next? (I know all these answers but I wanted to have her voice on the tape saying her children's names.)
Jim P (James Peter 22 Dec 1910-5 Oct 1986) and then LD. Then Marguerite (Marguerite Nannie 23 Feb 1916-28 Sept 1997) and Myrtle (Myrtle Loree 27 April 1919) and Little Mildred (Mildred Louise 17 Dec 1921-31 Oct 1824). She lived three years and Alice (Alice Virginia 9 Feb 1924) and Darrell (Joseph Darrell 31 July 1927). And you understand I am eighty-eight year old today. I say today. Yes. No. Yesterdays. And I raised them and took care of that many children all this time.
How many grand children to you have? Ooooh. I can't tell you. I think it's 25 and 26 great grand children, 5 great great grand children--6 now since Jim, Joey's one. There's five generations in my family.
(Here we take a break and I begin to ask her about her Mother and Father. She begins before I can get the tape recorder on.)
She's told that herself a lot of times. About how she's 14 year old when they moved from Florida. My Granddaddy had been to the service in Virginia and had come back and was restless. (John Bennett May 1838-Nov 1915) When he got back he couldn't be satisfied no where. and he wanted to fish and hunt and he come
into the Okefenokee Swamp and found --a fishing and hunting in there--and found a little, old log house in there. Well, my Granddaddy Wilson had given Grandma (Sarah Wilson 1840-1890/1900) a nice home, cows and everything with it. (Jesse Wilson [1790 SC-?] and Mary Snowden [1800 FL-?] Their children:
William C. 1824-1892; Jesse, Jr. abt 1829/1834-1898; Lewis abt
1831/1832-1903; James Madison 11 July 1838- 11 April 1905; Sarah
1840-1890/1900; Eleanor 1828-1893) Where was this? Clay County, Florida. And he went back there and sold everything she had but the hogs and brought the family and landed in the Okefenoke (She pronounces this Oak fah noke.) Swamp on Harper's Hammock. And I said, "Well, Ma, how did the boys find you?" She said they hunted in there, going a fishing and a hunting in there and they found me.
So Pa, he said, when he asked Grandpa for her he said he got him in a boat and right in the middle of the river he asked him. He knowed then he couldn't do nothing about it. And he married her and put her in a board shanty right on the edge of the river. (At this statement you can hear dismay in her voice.) And she dipped water out of the river. All the water she used was dipped out of the river. And she said an alligator got to coming up at her. And she told my Daddy. She says, "There's a gator about to eat me. Every time I go down there for water that gator comes." And he says, "There aint no reason." And she says, "You go down there and watch and you'll see." He went down there and he said, "Sure nuff the gator popped up" and he killed him, and he killed him, and he was eleven foot long. And then she moved on the other side of the river, so where she could be closer to Grandpa and said she never wanted to get away from a place so bad in her life. Just seemed like she would go crazy. He stayed in Billy's Island and worked for his uncle. (James "Jim" Lee 25 June 1829-4 Jan 1888 and Catherine Miller Lee 11 Oct 1832-16 Feb 1899) The way he made his living.
Said one evening about sundown she saw two mules and a wagon coming. And she said when it got up there it was two of my Daddy's brothers. Young brothers that hadn't married, Uncle Zeke and Uncle Sam. (Ezekiel Stephens 19 Aug 1857-28 Dec 1934; Samuel Lewis 31 Jan 1861-20 Oct 1934) And they told they had come after them. And she said, "Well, Jim aint here." They said, "Where was he?" And she said, "In Billy's Island." Said "When will he be back?" Said "I don't know. He may come tonight, and he may come tomorrow." So they waited and the next morning they went a fishing. They come back in the evening and said, "Has Jim come back yet?" "No." Well they stayed that night. They went back a fishing and when they come in "Has Jim come back yet?" "No, Jim's not come." (He was helping Uncle Jim harvest his cane.) "Well" they said, "Just rather go home." Uncle Zeke said, "We just as well go home." Uncle Sam said, "I'm not going a step until he comes." So they waited and about dark he come. They told him what they had come after. They had come after 'em. He said he had a hog to kill. They had a fat hog to kill. They got out there and killed that hog and dried out the fat. I know that Mother didn't sleep much for she wanted to get away so bad. She said at 10 o'clock the next day they pulled out. And some of the neighbors went along and they was all going to camp, seems like she said, at Suwanoochee Creek. I won't be sure. They struck camp about sundown and she had two children (Isabelle Mae "Belle" 24 Oct 1879-17 Dec 1912 and Leon Thomas 1 Mar 1882-20 Nov 1940) and she said after a while, after they eat supper, they all decided to go a hunting. A fire hunting. (Hunting with torches,) Leave her there with those two little children alone there without a dog. They had the dog. Right out there in them woods. She said "Jimma", she always called my Daddy Jimma, "Are you gonna leave these two little children and me here by ourselves?" He said, "Nothing won't hurt you." She said, "Well, I'm not gonna stay." He said, "What will you do?" She says, "I'll take one of these children and you can take the other one." He turned to them and said, "Well, boys, you all go on and I'll stay." And he stayed. And it went to raining and he said he cut palmettoes and put over the wagon and put quilts around the wagon and fixed a bed for my Mother and the babies.
(Under the wagon) And said it didn't rain but just a little and turned
freezing cold. The palmettoes had turned green. (She catches her mistake and laughs.) Had turned a bluish color. Next morning though they had to go back a hunting before they could go on. And when they got to Manor it was sundown. All that time coming from Suwanee River to Manor.
How come 'em to come, my Daddy's uncle, Uncle Lem Miller (wife was Lilla V. Kirkland) was a running a wood rack, that was when that railroad first come through here. (Let me add some MILLER information for you, the reader. Lemuel E. Miller was the brother to Catherine and to Martha Ann, Granddaddy Jim's Mother. These three children were from 15 children born to Ezekiel Stafford Miller 15 June 1812-4 March 1863 and Elender Dyess 16 October 1813-31 May 1896.[Catherine 11 Oct 1832-16 Feb 1899; Martha Ann 25 Dec 1833-17 May 1918; John H. 24 Jan 1836-15 Dec 1902; Amy 1836-?; Barbara 1838-?; Lusina 1840-1844; Nathan B. 1843-?; Martin Luther 1844-?; Moses 1845-?; William 1847-?; Victoria 1850-?; Almira 1851-?; Elender 1852-?; Miriam 1857-?; Lemuel E. 24 May 1859-28 Oct 1923.] Ezekiel's parents were William T. 8 April 1759-27 Nov 1837 and Amy Baker a Quaker, abt 1757-23 Oct 1831. William's parents were Tobias 1727-1789 and Mary Wood 23 Sept 1742-between 1770-1836. Tobias' parents were Jacob Miller born 1668 in Germany-died between 1728-1761
in NC and Catherine Lether born 1672 in Germany and died between 1728 and 1767 in NC. It is through these Millers that our family is connected to so many families on the East Coast and in South East Georgia, especially. What was his name? Uncle Lem Miller. (Here the telephone begins to ring and she becomes a little distracted as Myrtle goes to answer it.) The railroad was first come though here and he had a wood rack. They was cutting wood for him. They told Pa, said "You can have a good job there." So when they got there she said, "I was never as glad to get away from some place in my life" as she was there. That's the way they got away.
She said Pa went to cutting cord wood. And they had been no schools there. Nothing. They had a vacant dwelling house there and they got Miss Mamie Clark, an old maid to come teach. And Bill Manor come and he put up a post office there and they didn't know what to call it. And they said Miss Clark said, "Well, call it Manor after the man who owns it." And some didn't like that. They wanted to call it Lick Skillet. Lick Skillet, that's what it was called.
Why did they want to call it that?
Well, they had a little negro boy that cooked and waited on them and he had a little frying pan he called his lick skillet. And they wanted it for that. So they named it Manor after the man who owned it. (The post office building.) And it's been Manor ever since. And she taught school in it---I can remember the first school I ever went to was in that old house. Cane was growing all around it. Somebody had grown cane there. Now who in the world--anybody now would die. They couldn't take it! They just couldn't take it! What were the names of the children born to Granny Nan in the Swamp? Two was all she had while she was out in there. She lost her first baby and it's buried on Billy's Island.
Alice: Who were they Momma?
Belle and Leon. (Here Alice coughs and we can't hear her answer.) Who?
Belle and Leon. Belle was the oldest. She died after she was 32 and had eight children. But they brought them two to Manor and pretty quick I come along and then Annie (Annie Eliza 26 Feb 1887-17 Sept 1980) and Mae Clara (13 Sept 1889-23 Jan 1983) and Jim (James Martin 13 Sept 1892- 24 April 1957) and Nora (Nora Bessie 28 Jan 1895-6 April 1972) and John (John Franklin 3 Oct 1905-20 Oct 1971) and Mattie (Mattie Eleanor 30 July 1901-24 July 1996).
You told me last year about that settlement that was in the Swamp. A little
town in there.
Oh, there! The Cypress Company made a town in there. I don't know, they said it was pretty. There's a cemetery in there. The Cypress Company had Delco lights, you know, and fine houses and after they cut all the timber out they done away with it. There's nothing there now. But that wasn't yesterday.
Do you remember anything about Waycross, the first time you came to Waycross?
I remember the first time I ever saw an electric light. I went to church and
I got to crying to come home. Sunday night-- my Daddy said, "Well, we'll go
if you want to." And Uncle Zeke Henderson with us and he said, "Well, I want to go too." We pulled out and when we come to Waycross there was the prettiest lights I thought I ever saw. (They must have been coming from High Bluff near Schlatterville.) Everything was just lit up. And we hadn't never had none you know. And that's the first lights I ever saw. But when your Granddaddy and I were married that Waycross wasn't anything but just one or two stores. You couldn't sell chickens. You couldn't sell anything until that Shop was put there. Then it went to growing.
The ACL Shops in Waycross. You couldn't sell, it was just a little town. It's
grown since then. That railroad had just been put through here. (On another occasion she told me about seeing an Indian here and there on a street corner on the rare trips to Waycross.)
Now what's the story about you living with Granddaddy's parents?
Hmmmm! Weren't no story to it. (Everyone laughs.) I just lived with'em.
Now we didn't have our things in their house. We had our own house but we had to take care of him because he was bed ridden for fifteen years. He couldn't feed hisself. We just had to take care of him day and night.
What were Granddaddy's Mother and Father's names?
William--William Griffin--William and I can't tell you let's see. (This was Granddaddy Griffin's Grandfather. His great Grandfather was James Griffin.
Children of James Griffin 1793-April 1860 and Nancy Burnside 1798/1800-Oct 1859: William M. 1815-1879; Nancy 1819-1859; Dempsey 8 June 1825-2 Nov 1897; James, Jr. 1829-4 Jan 1906; Edward Thomas 1833-?; Alfred 1836-?; Elender S. 26 Jan 1837-18 June 1880; Washington 1840-?. Children of William M. and Cynthia Strickland: Treacy 28 Feb 1835-?; William B. 15 July 1837-?; John 10 Jan 1862- wounded 2nd Manassas 28 Aug 1862 died 5 Sept 1862; Nancy 16 Oct 1840-?; Peter; Leander 2 Aug 1844-?; James E. 22 Aug 1845 died young; James
Washington 2 Oct 1846-?; Alexander 2 Oct 1846 died young; Elender 20 Mar 1848-?; Patrick 4 Jan 1850-?; Elijah 14 April 1851-?; Appie Ann 4 Dec 1853-?; Cynthia Ann 5 Mar 1855-? Owen Alfred 1 Dec 1856-?; Lusina 15 July 1859-?; Mary Ann 2 April 1861-?) Thyra: Peter and Margaret Griffin.
Yeah, well that was what Joe's Daddy and Mother's name was but I don't know what his Daddy's name was (She means his Granddaddy) only William (William M. 1815-1879). I don't know what his Mother's name was. (She means his Grandmother.) (Cynthia "Cynthie" Strickland 1815-1897) His Mother and Daddy's name was Margaret and Peter. And he called'em Pah (Not Pa but sounds like the "a" in path.) and Mother. As long as they lived I called'em Pah and Mother.(Margaret was a daughter of Carr William Thrift 1805-1880 and Unity Unknown 1804?-abt 1855. Her siblings: Robert Thomas 8 May 1831-3 Mar 1916; Sarah March 1834-1923; Laney 1836-1865?; Mary Ann 1838-1919; Leroy J. 1841-1889 Martha A. 1842-1869?; Margaret 1844-1927; William Owen 20 Sept 1852-2 Dec 1931.)
Well, where did you move after that, after you left that first house?
Across the railroad to the Jesse Sedgewick Place. (Jesse Sedgewick
[1871-1931] had married Mollie M. Griffin [1877-1926], Granddaddy's sister.) And then to Waresboro. And back to Nora's Place. And then to Sob Nob. (She laughs and we all laugh with her.) Then to the place we bought in Manor. (I had asked Grandmother on another occasion if she believed in ghosts. She said no, but when they lived in Waresboro there was a pond near by where ghost lights were said to be seen by some. She said some negroes had been knocked in the head over the years and thrown in there and it was told they haunted the place. "I never saw no lights." She told me. Do you know who owned that last house you lived in there in Manor before you bought it?
Fred McQuaig owned it. Old man Hartford, I believe his name was Hartford, had it built. He was a Yankee. He come down there. That house was cut and shipped ready made. (She laughs.) We lived there twenty-one years.
Do you remember how much you paid for it to begin with?
Seven hundred and fifty dollars.
And how much land was with it?
Thirteen acres. And I sold Jim an acre of it and that left us twelve. And
then I sold it for ten thousand. I told Huey Corbitt-- he just had to have
it. I said, "I don't want to sell it." I said, "I have no other home but
this." He wanted it so bad and he had the money then you know. His wife had got killed on the railroad. (This tragic accident happened on the crossing there in Manor along with Ruby Corbitt Henderson, Grandmother's niece-in-law.) I said, "Well I don't want to sell it." He said, "Just how much would you take for it?" I said, "Not a cent less than ten thousand dollars!" Didn't think he would buy it. He said, "Well, don't sell it to nobody else." He said, "In just two or three days I should have..." I said,
"You take just as long as you want cause I don't want to sell it." The next
day, I think it was, he come to me and said he had the money and if I'd sell
it. I told him, "Yeah, I'd sell it."
I called Jim P, but I called the children and told them and they were
surprised. When I called Jim P he said "Moma you didn't sell the little, old
home said I do love to go down there a hunting and a fishing in that pond." I said, "I sold it!" He said, "What did you get for it?" And when I told him he
said, "You must've done some mighty big talking." I said, "No I didn't." I
said, "I just told him what I would take for it and he give it."
Myrtle: "That was Phyllis." (My brother, Arthur's wife had called.)
Ma was sick and when she'd get sick her mind would waiver. One day the grand children was in there and she got better and was sitting up by the fire. And she got to telling them how people lived when she was young. She said some of those poor people raised their families near bout on cabbage palmettoes, take the buds. Said why Mrs. Oglesby nearly bout raised her children on those old cabbage palmettoes. Said "Minnie you know how it was." I said "No Mama, I wasn't there." Said "Ah, you was." I said "Well, I've forgotten." Ma wasn't but fourteen. I said "Well, I have forgotten."( Four of Granny Nan's siblings married Oglesbys but I don't know if they were related to Mrs. Oglesby above. Polly Ann mar. James Oglesby; Leta Ann mar. Edward D. Oglesby; Sarah Elizabeth mar. Henry Shelton Oglesby. They were brothers. John Richard mar.
Bessie Oglesby. I don't know the connection of Bessie to the brothers at this time.)
What were Granny Nan's two sisters' names?
Two? She had a bunch! When they moved to Harper's Hammock in the Swamp there were four girls. There was Aunt Adeline, Aunt Polly, and my Mother and Aunt Leety and Aunt Sarah. There was five. But four of them was about grown. There was three grown ones. Ma was sixteen when she married. She moved there when she was fourteen. And when she was sixteen she married him. (Adeline July 1857-1933; Polly Ann 1859 [She is listed as Mary on the 1870 Clay Co, FL census.]; Nancy Ann 13 Sept 1860-14 Dec 1957; Leta Ann 1862 [She is listed as Leaty Jean on the same census.]; Jesse 1865-1872; Sarah Elizabeth 1867; John Richard 1869-5 Sept 1953; William Elias 27 Dec 1869-5 June 1945; Julia 17 Sept 1875-20 June 1973; James 1876)
And now what was the funny thing you told me about-- what-- they had to get married twice?
Well, my Grandaddy (George W. Thornton [2 March 1822-22 Feb 1895] had married Martha Ann Miller Henderson [25 Dec 1833-17 May 1918] after her husband, Lewis Jarrell Henderson died. [15 April 1828-25 Nov 1868]) married 'em and he was out of his district. He was a Justice of the Peace and had been out of the district. Then in three weeks they went to Homerville and got married again. And he used to tease us children. He'd say, "I married your Mother first time and the next time I married your Mother." Well, we was--we was perplexed. We didn't know what to think. But that's how come he did marry twice. He married my Mother one time and Leon's Mother one time. But it was the same woman.
(Martha Ann and Lewis Jarrell's children: James; Nancy Ellen 11 Jan 1856-28 Jan 1936; Ezekiel; Samuel; Eliza Elizabeth 28 Feb 1863-2 Feb 1951; Martha Ann Victoria 15 Jan 1866-10 Aug 1964; Martin Elias 15 Sept 1868-14 April 1933.)(Martha Ann and George W.'s children: Amy Celestine 1 May 1874-28 Dec 1940; Laura Belle 25 Dec 1877-?)
Have you heard of anything back then when they lived in Clay County?
No, as I told my Mother, I wasn't there!"
I mean, did Granny Nan tell you anything about it?
No, only she said that whenever my Granddaddy went to the war and left
Grandma with those children--three children, my Mother was born during the time. And Grandpa Wilson had a bunch of slaves and she let my Grandmother have a big , young woman. She was a healthy, young woman, said she could plow like a man. And her and Grandmother lived there and she did the plowing. And they kept the home together till Granddaddy come back. (Her name was Posey.)
When she told you anything I believed it.
You always said you wish she had written down those...
Yeah, if she had've wrote her story she could have written a book. She could read but she had forgotten how to write. In her old days she could read but she didn't write.
Where did they live when they came to Manor and Granddaddy worked for Uncle Lem?
Uncle Lem? They lived down there at Suwanee River. They called it Lodever. Down where Fargo is now. (This may be a little confusing. She is telling where they came from not where they lived when they first came to Manor. This is why I rephrase the next question.)
And they moved to Manor and where did they live in Manor? In Manor? I don't know for I wasn't there. (Group laughter.)
But what about that place across from Grandmother Boyd. Did you live there at one time?
Yeah, we lived there until I was fifteen years old. We moved from Manor when I was fifteen years old. To my Daddy's place, as we called it, "Out in the sticks." And he owned 60 head of cows. That's why he wanted to move out there from Manor, so he could have his stock. He had 60 head of cows and I bet a hundred head of hogs. And somebody got in there then. He wanted to dehorn'em so they wouldn't fight. they built a big shed in there. He dehorned'em all. And there come a disease and like to killed everyone of'em.
And it was while you were living there that you met Granddaddy?
Uh huh. why it's a wonder anybody ever found us. we were so far off down
there. We'd go to school and it would be for a month we didn't see anyone.
And we'd go on Sunday afternoon and pick flowers and climb the persimmon trees. (She laughs.) We'd do anything to pass time. We certainly had it lonesome. We wuz not used to staying off like that. We were used to being with people on Sunday. Way off down there. It just seemed awfully lonesome for us children.
The church you go to now, Mt. Olive, how old is that church?
You can't tell me. It was there when I was born. And I'm eighty-eight. And it
was there by Claude McQuaigs. There's a little cemetery there.
Myrtle: Mother, tell him there was nobody but women who would go there and sit. Wasn't it before my Daddy come in there. When he come in there, there wasn't a male member, just three old ladies and they'd go every first Sunday and set around on the logs. Looking, thinking maybe they'd come a preacher. Finally, they did. Every once in a while one would come. And then my Daddy was received. They come and he was received there. And they give him the books. He was the clerk there. And a year's time or more he was made deacon. As long as he lived. And them women had so much faith they knowed there would come one after a while and they'd be out there a waiting. Well, now, as far as you know your family all the way back has been Primitive Baptist? (Granny Nan and her family were Missionary Baptist. The Wilsons belonged to Beulah Baptist Church in Clay County, FL.) My Grandmother's buried out there and my daddy, three of my brothers and my aunt and cousins. (So are her husband and her mother.) That's a Henderson cemetery if you ask me.
Have you ever heard stories about where the Henderson and Wilsons came from originally?
Folks Huxford said that the Bennetts come from North Carolina. My Daddy, they said they come from Ireland. I don't know. Then they was called Hendrys. When they first come here he said.
Hendrys. (She spells it.) H-E-N-D-R-Y. And then they called it Henderson. If
you could read those books that Folks Huxford has printed. Laura Nell Mixon bought six of the books. Six editions. And she's left them down here with her people and she said I could read them when they got through with'em. I'd like to read them. It tells who everybody married. It tells back hundreds of years ago. He come to our house one time asking Ma about her people. Where she come from and he could tell her more than she could tell herself.
How old was your Daddy when he died?
Seventy-four. He must have been quite a bit older than Granny Nan.
Just seven years?
I think so. Just seven years. He was twenty-four and she was sixteen. Has
your grandchildren come? (Directed at Thyra. ?) Then the tape goes on but it is blank for what ever reason.
(In the summer of 1997 I went home and Mother and I went out to try and find where the farm had been. I had been told there was nothing left except one lone palm tree to mark the place. As we traveled on that narrow, sugar sand road with vegetation on both sides and deep ditches filled with water, Mother said she noticed there were no power lines in the area. "What would we do if something happened to the car?" She was uneasy and when I was able to, I turned the car around and left that desolate looking terrain boardering on the Swamp. It was out here when Mother was a little girl she saw her first blimp from Mayport, Florida. The chickens were "really taking on" and Granddaddy Griffin was weeding in the chicken yard. When Grandmother looked out, he had the hoe up in the air as though he were defending himself and the chickens from something he had never seen before and didn't understand. He was clearly frightened. She yelled to him, "Joe, that's a blimp, that's all it is, it's just a blimp!" It was so low they could see the men in the gondola.
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