Thursday, February 21, 2013

Stanley and Jarman Mixed Families

Stanley Family

Huston Cobb’s brother Ernest Cobb married Helen Stanley who was the great, great, granddaughter of former slave Lila Vinson King; Helen was the daughter of O. C. Stanley and Elsie King.  Helen Stanley had a brother Henry Stanley; Henry married Helen Garrett and they had a son that is Doctor Wayne Stanley.  

The white Stanley Family came into the area during the 1818 federal sales of Indian lands taken by government in September 1816 by the Turkey Town Treaty.  By the time of the 1820 Census of Lawrence County, Alabama, Syrus Stanley is the listed as having five black slaves; his family consists of one white male over 21 years of age, three white males under 21 years of age, one female over 21 years of age, four females under 21 years of age, and five black slaves. 

In the 1830 Census of Lawrence County, Alabama, Henry Stanley is listed as one white male between 50 and 60, one white male between 20 and 30, one white male between 10 and 15, two white males under 5, one white female between 20 and 30, and one white female under five.  Also in 1830, Nathaniel Stanley was listed between 40 and 50, one white male between 20 and 30, one white male between15 to 20, one white male between 10 to 15, two white males between 5 to 10, and one white male under 5.  Also three white females were listed in Nathaniel family with one between 40 to 50, one between 20 to 30, and one 10 to 15.

The white Stanley Family was owners of black slaves; according to the 1850 slave census of Lawrence County, Andrew Stanley had six slaves, Joseph Stanley had 55 slaves, and Edward Stanley had 34 slaves.  By the 1860 census, Andrew Stanley owned 11 black slaves and J. H. and E. R. Stanley owned 42 slaves.  Many of the black folks who were descendants of the white Stanley slaves took Stanley as their last name.

According to the 1850 census, Joseph H. Stanley was from North Carolina and was 38 years old.  His wife was Mariah L. who was age 30 and from Virginia; Joseph H., Jr., age 10, born in Alabama; Thomas E., age 5, born in Alabama.  Also living with the family was Hannah Kemper, age 17, born in Alabama, and John Green was age 70 from North Carolina; John was probably the father of Mariah.

Edward R. Stanley is listed in 1850 as being age 26 and born in Alabama; Mary J., age 26, born in Virginia; Mary J., Jr., age 4, born in Alabama; and, Margaret Hill, age 70, born in Virginia.  Margaret Hill was probably the grandmother to either Edward or Margaret; Edward and Joseph were probably brothers.

Obviously, the Stanley Family along with several other wealthy white slave owners came from North Carolina and Virginia to the Tennessee Valley after the lands were taken from the Cherokee and Chickasaw Indian people in September 1816.  These white families bought the fertile lands near the Tennessee River for their cotton farming activities; through the blood, sweat, and tears of their black slaves, the early white Appalachian settlers passed their wealth and power to their white descendants. 

Today, Doctor Wayne Stanley is known as one of the best medical doctors in the northwest Alabama area.  Dr. Stanley’s Grandmother Elsie King was a descendant of black slaves and white slave owners; she was half white and half black.  She was thought to be the daughter of one of the white King Family slave owners; the Kings owned some 220 black slaves.

On the other hand, the descendants of the slaves had to struggle for survival nearly 100 years after the end of the Civil War before the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960’s put black folks on a more level status with the white families.  Even after the Civil War, black women were many times subjected to the advances of wealthy and powerful white men who had children by their black house maids; such was the case with the black King Family females.  

Dr. Wayne Stanley is one of the descendants of the former slaves of the white Stanley Family and the white King Family.  His grandmother Elsie King Stanley was the mulatto daughter of Lou Bell (Momma Bell) King and granddaughter of Lila Vinson King.  Today, Dr. Wayne Stanley has a beautiful hilltop mansion with a big metal gate at the entrance of his drive just south of Second Street.  His huge spacious home sits on a hill with a magnificent view of the former land that his ancestors worked as slaves.   

Jarman Plantation

During our tour of his ancestral land in northeastern Colbert County, Huston Cobb, Jr. guided us to the Jarman Plantation House that had several black slaves.  Huston’s brother Leo Cobb married Nazarene Jarman who is a descendant of the former slave Lila Vinson King.  Nazarene was born on Jarman Lane and was one of 12 siblings; she was a descendant of the white King Family and the white Jarman Family slaves.  Two of Nazarene’s aunts married descendants of the mixed blood black and white Spangler and Mullins Family.

The Jarman Plantation was owned by Amos Jarman who was born on November 13, 1789, and he died on December 14, 1861; his wife was Mary who was born in1790.  The original plantation house is still standing just one mile north of Second Street in Colbert County, Alabama.  The home is a beautiful brick house that is on the flat plain between the River Road and Second Street.

According to the 1860 Census of Lawrence County, Alabama, Amos Jarmon was 70 years old and a planter from North Carolina.  In his household at the time, Mary was listed as 70 years old from North Carolina; George W. was a 32 year old teacher born in Alabama; and Neppie was a 30 year old female from Tennessee.  In the 1850 census, Amos and Mary were listed as 60 years old; living in the house with them was James C. Vincent, age 32 from Virginia, and William H. Jarman, age 26 from Alabama, and D.F. who was a 23 year old male. According to the 1850 Census of Lawrence County, Alabama, Amos Jarman owned 50 black slaves.
Amos Jarman’s household was listed next to Samuel O. Eggleston from Virginia who was 53 in 1850 and owned 48 black slaves.   Houston’s great grandfather was Shirley Eggleston who was probably a descendant of the Samuel O. Eggleston’s slaves.  The black man Shirley Eggleston had a brother named Houston Eggleston; Houston may have been the namesake of Houston Cobb, Sr. and Huston Cobb, Jr.

The Amos Jarman place was a landmark in Huston Cobb’s lifetime and was located in the area that he called home; many of Huston’s black neighbors were probably descendants of the Jarman slaves.  According to Huston, the Jarman family eventually moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and began making Jarman Shoes.  Jarman Shoes eventually merged with another company and the Jarman Shoe line is no longer available.

Jarman Lane is south of Second Street and the Jarmon Plantation Home; the lane is a blacktopped county highway that ends to the west on the County Line Road.  Jarman Lane is where some of the slave descendants of Amos Jarman live today.  Probably many of the black folks in the area of present-day northeastern Colbert County, Alabama, are descendants of the Jarman Plantation slaves.

This story will also be CONTINUED; stay in touch with my blog on the black, Indian, and plantation history in our area as it unfolds in my new book and on my blogs.  Mr. Houston Cobb, Jr.’s story will be included in my new book which will be called “Black Folk Tales of Appalachia: Slavery to Survival.”

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Testimony of Former Slave

Martin Johnson

According to family folklore, Martin Johnson Sr. was a black slave of John Johnson.  John Johnson and his black slaves settled the area around the mouth of Town Creek prior to 1820; his slaves took the last name of Johnson.  Huston’s grandmother Fannie was the daughter of Martin Johnson, Jr.; he was 50 years old in the Census of 1870.  Therefore, Martin Johnson, Jr. was born about 1820 and was probably a slave of the white Johnson Family.  Martin Johnson, Jr. was Huston Cobb’s maternal great grandfather; of course, Martin Johnson Sr. was the father of the younger Martin. 

Martin Johnson, Jr. owned 52 acres of land; Martin bought land and lived Just northeast of the River Road and Second Street. When his son-in-law Tracy Carter lost his place, he and his wife moved in with Martin.  When the gin owner Will Norman’s place was sold, he claimed Tracy Carter’s five acres of land; Tracy thought that he had bought five acres of land in the northwest corner of the junction of the Mt. Stanley Road/River Road and Second Street.  The Johnson family moved to Second Street, and the depression took all their stuff including a 1928 Ford.  Martin and his wife were buried Bethel Community Cemetery; land was sold and Tracy was administrator; Martin lived with Tracy until death when the 52 acres were divided up among the descendants. 

Martin Johnson, Jr. married Caroline who was a mulatto that was half blood black and white woman.  Caroline was the half white mother of Fannie Johnson, who was Huston Cobb’s great grandmother.  Caroline’s mother was a black slave and her father was white; the white father was either an overseer or the slave owner.  Caroline’s mother was a slave and her name was Viney; Viney lived with Martin and Caroline.

Carter Place

Cyrus (Sye) Carter was the great grandfather of Huston Cobb, Jr.; Huston showed me the tombstone of his great grandfather Sye.  Cyrus (Sye) Carter and Mary Alice lived and worked on the Carter Place; they are buried a few miles south of Ford City at Mount Pleasant Cemetery on the County Line Road.  Cyrus Carter was last listed on the 1880 Census; by the 1900 Census, only Cyrus’ wife Mary Alice was listed as the head of the household.  Therefore, Cyrus must have died between 1880 and 1900; Cyrus and Mary Alice had 16 children.

Cyrus Carter’s daddy lived near the Tennessee River and was a slave of the Carter Family; one day, he just disappeared and no one ever knew what happened to him.  Huston Cobb, Jr. said, “My great, great grandfather could have been killed, throwed in the Tennessee River, or could have possibly escaped north, but my family always believed the worse.  We feel he was killed by his slave holder overseer or owner.”

The oldest of the Carter Family was Ammon Carter who was born in Buckingham County, Virginia, in 1765 and died on October 20, 1851, in what was then Lawrence County, Alabama.  In the 1850 Census of Lawrence County, Ammon Carter is listed as being 85 from Virginia.  Ammon is buried just to the north of the Jarmon Plantation Home and just a few yards south of the River Road in the Hatton Baptist Cemetery in present-day Colbert County, Alabama.  Ammon was married to Mary “Polly” Burnett who was also born in Virginia, on August 8, 1773, and died in Lawrence County, Alabama, on October 19, 1837.  Ammon and Mary had the following six children: Joel Walker Jones Carter, Ammon Carter, Jr., David B. Carter, Sabra or Mary Carter, Mahala Carter, and Samuel Carter. 

Joel Walker Jones Carter, son of Ammon Carter,  was listed in the 1860 Census of Lawrence County, Alabama, as being a 65 year old farmer from Virginia and owning 31 black slaves.  His family included Sarah, age 65, from Tennessee; John D., 42 year old farmer from Tennessee; Nancy, age 42, Tennessee; J. N. McCarley, age 29, merchant from Tennessee; Eliza E., age 30, Tennessee; Lern Carter, 27 year old male farmer from Alabama; Anna, age 20, Alabama; P. P., 18 year old male student from Alabama; Alice, age 13, Alabama; J. W., ten year old female, Alabama; Mary, age eight, Alabama; Jere, six year old male, Alabama; and Marcellus, two year old male, Alabama. 

The black Carter Family was the descendants of the black slaves of the white Carter Family who were from Virginia.  The Carter Place was between the River Road and Tennessee River and was north of the Jarman Plantation and present-day Ford City.  

After the Civil War, most of the black families stayed on or near the plantation or farm where they were slaves; this is why Huston’s family is still in the area.  Many of the slaves that were Huston Cobb’s ancestors stayed near where they lived and worked for their owners prior to the Civil War; many times some slaves continued to work for their plantation owners after the war.  

Cyrus’ son Tracy Carter married Fannie Johnson: Tracy and Fannie were the grandparents of Huston Cobb, Jr.  Tracy Carter was a farmer and fired the boiler for the cotton gin on the River Road about a quarter mile north of Second Street.  Tracy C. Carter worked for the Will Norman at the cotton gin and fired gin boiler with wood to make steam to run the mill.

Former Slave--Lila Vinson King

Lila Vinson King was a former slave connected to Huston Cobb’s family by marriage; Lila’s great grandson Walter James King married Mattie Ellen Carter, the sister of Huston’s mother Nazareth Carter. Walter was an overseer for John Fennel; Walter drove the farm truck to carry cotton to the gin and to carry folks to Leighton to Fennel’s store to buy groceries. 

Lila Vinson King tells a firsthand account about some of the Fennel slaves; her account was written on September 1, 1948, by Owen L. Crocker.  At the time of the interview, Lila was 110 years old and she was assisted by her son Fred King.  The complete story is as follows:  “This was told to Owen L. Crocker by Aunt Lila King assisted by her son Fred-written up September 1, 1948.

Aunt Lila King-Lazily winding from the little old southern town of Huntsville, Alabama, the picturesque highway, General Joseph Wheeler, crosses, then follows westward the beautiful Tennessee River.  On, or near, this highway are the great Wheeler and Wilson dams, the birthplace of the famed Helen Keller, the home of General Joseph Wheeler of Civil War fame, and the Civil War battlefield of Town Creek.  Every mile of the road is full of historical interest; every foot is filled with ancient lore.  Here and there are seen old slave towers, relics of by-gone days—grim reminders of humanity in bondage.

Living in a modest little home on this highway between the LaGrange Mountains and the Tennessee River is a former slave, Lila King Vinson, known to the whites and blacks alike as “Aunt Lila.”

Let us turn back the pages of time to that day when the slave woman, Carrie Vinson, persuaded her master to purchase Mose Napper for her to marry.  Mose was bought in/from North Carolina by the “Speculators” and sold/at Kiddie Carter to the Vinsons.  From that marriage were several children, but this story concerns only one, Lila Vinson, born August 12, 1838—one hundred ten years ago.

As “Aunt Lila” sits in her rocking chair, sewing on her apron and eagerly answering your questions, you are amazed at her active mind, her firm and steady voice, as she rethreads her needle without the aid of glasses.  Her memory is so clear that she recalls one hundred years ago as if it were only yesterday. Many people only half her age are not so well preserved.  Four years ago she fell and broke her leg while trying to get the mule out of the garden, but the cast itched so badly that she tore it off causing her leg to become twisted, which permits her to only hobble around.

The first twenty-seven years of her life were spent in slavery along with approximately one hundred others on the same place.  Good mules on the farms were treated with more consideration, given better things to eat, and brought more money in a trade.  Every slave was kept busy from daylight to dark and later, plowing the fields, picking cotton, tending the cattle, and the various tasks around the farms.  Overseers made sure that these tasks were performed, or that severe punishment was inflicted.

Uncle Bust King, an old and feeble slave, was made to pick cotton down in the swamps where the water was knee deep. This was done by the light of pine torches.  He fell out—with pneumonia.  The overseer whipped him and made him go back to work—and to die.  He had just “fessed” religion, and his last words were “Jesus, draft this cloud back, for such as these won’t do to burn.”  The slaves made a pine box, painted it black with soot and buried him.

As a very small child Lila was made to knit.  She was made to stand on one foot behind her mistress for hours at a time and if she once put her raised foot down, she got a whipping.  She also had to rake leaves and help haul them off to the farms.  Sometimes the piles of leaves would be almost as high as the shade trees.  Invariably, when she helped load up the wagons next day with leaves, there would be hundreds of snakes crawling, “working like maggots” in the leaves.  A long house was used to take the babies to while the women were working in the fields.  Very old, feeble women fed (slopped) the babies.  Sometimes the mothers would moan and cry for their babies, but the overseers would whip them and make them go on to work.  Oft times the mothers were sold or traded, leaving the babies in the “slop” house.

“Aunt Lila” clearly remembers slave George Fennel.  Because of a little infraction of a rule, George had a stick run under his knees, his arms tied around it, kicked over, and whipped with a rawhide whip until he passed out, but they kept on beating him.  His body was a solid mass of bloody meat, his back “laid open” in slits.  And there was Mae Hunter’s son who was tied over a barrel, and ridden with spurs like a horse.

Then there was old George who tried to run away.  They “sicked” the blood hounds on him.  (Usually the dogs tore the slaves up and ate them.)  Old George carried a grass scythe with him, and when the dogs cornered him, be began to swing the blade.  “Dog legs, heads, and guts shore was scattered around there.”  The overseers came up on him, carried him back to the house and whipped him.

Sometimes, Lila would go with the boys to haul water from the Blue Hole, a large bottomless, beautiful pool.  Aunt Timmey’s son backed the wagon into this pool and was never seen again.  (This same pool is used to this day for watering the stock in the pasture.”

A note (or pass) was required for any slave to leave the place for any reason.  To leave without this pass meant a sure whipping.  This rule was true in every case, even to church, to the next farm, or wherever it might be.  Many slaves would live and die on the place, unless traded or sold, without ever having been one mile off the premises.

One of “Aunt Lila’s” first whippings was administered to her when she was old enough to walk good.  She was dropping corn in the field, planting the check system, but she was dropping it where it would later have been plowed up.

The slaves lived in small stalls, just room enough for a bed, a fireplace on which to cook, and a table.  This was the home of one family.  Hogs were killed and distributed among them.  “Aunt Lila” remembers that the insides of the hogs were eaten just as they were because, in her words, “The black folks were no better that the hogs they ate.”

Snuff was made by grinding the dried tobacco leaves in the coffee mill, chewing tobacco was made by putting sorghum molasses between several layers of tobacco leaves, putting them under the fence rails to press, and letting them stay there for some time.

One of the most cruel taskmasters was Granville Pillars who married Aunt Lila’s mistress, Miss Lucy.  His delight was to torture everybody—even his wife, actually beating her and literally throwing her across the room by the hair on her head.  He “sicked” the dogs on the slave girls and was amused when the dog “Lela” chewed parts of the flesh from their bodies.  He shot and killed “Aunt Lila’s” brother, Tuskee, for coming over on his property hunting a cow.  The KKK, however, put an end to his cruelty by killing him, shooting his tongue off first.

In the 1850’s the slaves heard and passed on the word that they would be freed.  There arose a mighty controversy.  The cry was heard “You shall be free,” but another was, “You shan’t be free.”  This spread like wild fire, and then it happened—the great Civil War of 1860-1865.  The North against the South, father against son, brother against brother—the fought each other in the bloodiest war this country had ever seen.  There was not first aid to the wounded, you lay where you were hit, twisted, cried, and suffered until you died.

Battles were fought all along the Joe Wheeler Highway.  Markers now depict each battle.  Camps were pitched on the place of “Aunt Lila King’s” folks.  “Aunt Lila” was “thinking herself a grown woman then”—eighty-eight years ago.  Her mother died before peace was made some years later.

The Yankees swept down from the North pillaging, burning, and taking everything.  The whites and colored alike fled to the hills until the army passed over, then more would come.  The people buried all valuables—tar, grease, money, syrup, and meat.  The Yankees went into the smoke houses and threw hams out to the naked colored children.  Hood’s army was after the Yankees at Town Creek.  The Yankees burned the bridge, so the Confederates cut down a large tree across the small creek to use as a foot log (bridge).  That log is still to be seen lying about a foot under the water—hard as a rock—petrified.  Here the battle of Town Creek was fought—a bloody, an awful battle.

The Yankees burned LaGrange Academy, a large school on top of the mountain where “Aunt Lila” waited on the tables.  Miss Hastings tended the school (and drank three cups of coffee each meal).  During the burning everybody carried off everything they could find.  One slave carried off a sack full of stuff.  When he got down to the foot of the mountain, he and “Aunt Lila” found it to be a sack of broken pitchers.  She had carried off a little red chair.

After the Yankees had taken everything, “Aunt Lila” and the others used leaves to wrap the food in before covering it with ashes to cook it.  Times were hard for all.  To add to the confusion, wolves came down from the mountains by the hundreds to feed on the fresh killed meat, whether it was pigs, horses, dogs, or soldiers.

Uncle Billy Yancy was a Negro preacher who held his meetings under brush arbors.  His folks would get filled up with religion and go into wild fits.  Old Martha Franks became so full of religion that she danced around and broke her leg.  The usual method of marrying the slaves was to simply make the man and woman hold hands and jump over a broom stick, and they became man and wife.  “Aunt Lila,” however, met Louie King in the edge of the woods, they got a marriage license at Courtland and were married.  She was permitted to move her bed that night.  She and Louie had nineteen children before he died in 1911 at the age of seventy-four.

Lila’s children are:  Living: Lue Belle, Zella, Charity, Charles, Fred (youngest-age 51, July 31, 1948).  Dead: Cherry (oldest-died 1920, age 57), Ross, Jackson, Louise, Bowlin, Emma, Fanny, Susan, Louie, Mary, Addie, and one set of triplets unnamed.  At a family reunion in 1911 there were sixty-three grandchildren.  In 1941, there were forty-nine great grand children.  No count has been taken since then.

Aunt Lila sits on her porch basking in the warm sun, she recalls over one hundred years—a full century—of life at its worst to a now relative life of ease.  As she watches her children’s, children’s, children grow up free to go and come at will, she remembers those days of slavery—human bondage—when one had to have a pass to go to the adjoining farm.  Those horrible wars, beatings, and mutilated bodies that we only read about are very real, very actual, to “Aunt Lila.”  But she is happy, happy because she has so many friends, both black and white, who bring her gifts almost daily.  Her days are filled with the joy of living.  Let’s hope she has a lot more of them.

This story will also be CONTINUED; stay in touch with my blog on the black, Indian, and plantation history in our area as it unfolds in my new book and on my blogs.  Mr. Houston Cobb, Jr.’s story will be included in my new book which will be called “Black Folk Tales of Appalachia: Slavery to Survival.”

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Slave Holders and Hard Work

Pointer, McDaniel, and Elliott Slaves

The black folks that were the slaves of the first white settlers in the Tennessee Valley of northwest Alabama were not allowed to leave the land or plantation that they were living on without a pass from their white owner unless they were accompanying him or his heirs.  Some black slaves were probably born and died without ever leaving the farm where they were born; therefore, many of these black families did not go far from the area where they and their immediate family were born after the Civil War.  Most of the black slave families of North Alabama area still have descendants that survived and stayed in the home land of their ancestors; of the families that stayed near their birth site, many have deep family roots and some even purchased land on which their great grandparents were slaves.

The black Pointer Family is probably descendants of the 104 black slaves in 1850 census of the white Pointer Family of Lawrence County, Alabama.  The black slaves in the 1850 census belonged to Phillip Pointer with  39, William R. Pointer with 24, Sarah Pointer with 22, and Thomas M. with 19.  In 1860, M. A. Pointer is listed as being a female who was 58 years old from Virginia; her occupation is farming and had 19 black slaves.  She probably inherited her slaves from Thomas M. Pointer who had the same number in 1850.  M. A. Pointer came to Lawrence County, Alabama, from Virginia; her 19 slaves are listed in the 1860 slave census.  Also in 1860, Samuel Pointer had 22 slaves which is the same amount that Sarah Pointer had in 1850; not sure if there was a relationship between Samuel and Sarah Pointer.

In 1850, Phillip Pointer is listed as being 44 years of age from Virginia; Sarah, age 32 from Virginia; Thomas S., age 11, born in Alabama; Mary A., age eight; Phillip Jr., age nine; Emma L., age six; Martha A.(Patsy), age 3; and, John, age one.  In 1860, Phillip Pointer is not listed in the census, but his estate is listed as having eight heirs and 44 black slaves; between 1850 and 1860, Phillip gained five slaves.  Notice in his family excluding Phillip, Sr. are eight heirs in his family listed in the 1860 census; he had another child in 1853 who is listed as Phlem, a son of seven years old born in Alabama.
The black McDaniel Family that intermarried into the black Pointer Family was probably descendants from the slaves of two white men-either P. A. McDaniel or Thomas McDaniel.  According to the 1860 slave census, P. A. McDaniel owned 67 black slaves and Thomas McDaniel owned 59 black slaves.  The McDaniel Mill was located on the West Fork of Flint Creek about three or four miles from the present-day Jesse Owens Park in Oakville.  Many of the older white members of the McDaniel Family are buried in Oakville with a few yards southwest of the P. B. Lowery home; the cemetery was behind the old P. B. Lowery barn, and tombstones have been disturbed.  The old McDaniel Cemetery on the P. B. Lowery property is only a quarter mile north of the present-day Jesse Owens Park and a few hundred yards east of the Oakville Indian Mounds Park and Museum.

The Elliott Family member that intermarried with black Pointer Family was probably a descendant of the 94 black slaves listed in the 1860 slave census as being owned by Samuel Elliott of Lawrence County, Alabama.  According to the 1860 census, Samuel Elliott was a planter listed as being 49 years old from Tennessee; Elizabeth P., age 37, was from Alabama; Leonidas, age 24, male; Mary F., age 17, Jerimiah, age 12; Randolph, age ten; Catherine, age three; Ann P., three months; Mary Green, age 25, school mistress; Andrew Woldridge, age 24, Tennessee, Methodist clergyman; and Sarah E., age 21, Tennessee.  The black Elliott Family may have been the slaves of William Elliott who is listed in the 1820 Census of Lawrence County, Alabama as having 12 slaves.  In the 1860 census, William Elliott (Ellitt or Ellett) is listed as being 58 years old from Virginia and owning 19 black slaves.

Jackson and Lucy Taylor Pointer

Charlie Pointer’s father was Jackson (Jack) Pointer and his mother was Lucy Taylor.  Jack and Lucy had seven children: Corene Pointer married Son Hill; Ruth Pointer never married; Robert Pointer got shot and killed with a rifle by Ab Rogers, who was sent to the penitentiary; Louie Pointer married Lilly McDaniel; Dee Pointer married Geneva, the daughter of Lizzie Ann McDaniel (Po Duck); Aaron Pointer married Hoyl Elliott; and Charlie Pointer married Louise Price. 

Jackson (Jack) Pointer lived and worked on the old Alexander Plantation until he was around twelve years old.  When Jack was real young, he helped Ben Price and other black folks make bricks on the Alexander place.  Later, Jack started working and farming the fields for the Jacobs Family near Will Melson’s store.  When I was a little boy, I remember going with my folks to Mr. Will Melson’s store.  It was scary watching Mr. Melson cut slices off those huge rounds sticks of bologna with a big butcher knife; the bologna sticks were four to six inches across and one slice made a great sandwich.  Charlie Pointer said, “Will Melson had a record of my dad’s birth in the old Melson Family bible.”

Ms. Mildred Brackin Lee said, “Uncle Jackson Pointer was the hardest working man that I ever knew; he was small in size and not very tall, but he would work you to death.  Uncle Jack was always far out front of everybody chopping cotton.”  She said, “One day my cousin Aaron Pointer was going to out chop his dad Uncle Jack Pointer; Aaron started chopping as fast as he could and tried to get in front of his dad.  When they got to the end of the row, Uncle Jack did not slow down; he started another row and Aaron was close on his hills. Finally, Aaron caught up to his dad and brushed his heel with the hoe; Uncle Jack stopped and after a few choice words Aaron knew better than get close to his dad again. Everyone laughed at the situation and Uncle Jack hollered, ‘What are y’all laughing at’ and went right back to chopping as hard as he could.  But it did not matter how hard Uncle Jack and our family worked, we never got out of debt with the landowner.  They would always say, maybe you can get out of debt next year, but it never happened.”

After working for the Jacobs, Jack moved to the Lamar Cartwright place on the West Fork of Flint Creek just north of the Old Moulton Road in the Red Hill Community which is a few miles north of Oakville.  Charlie said that he was born on the Cartwright place; when he was a small boy, Charlie said most of the place was covered in forest land and contained huge stands of timber.  Jack and his older sons began clearing the trees and turning much of the timber land into pastures and row crops.

Jackson Pointer worked for Cartwright for several years.  Charlie was too young to help his dad cut timber and make new grounds for row crops on the Cartwright place, but even as a small boy, Charlie was responsible for making sure that his father and older brothers had plenty of water to drink while they were clearing the woodlands.  Charlie said, “I kept busy toting water to the men cutting the trees on the Cartwright place. Even though I was a small boy, I would take drinking water to my daddy and older brothers.  Just about the whole place was covered in big trees and we cleared the land so they could plant crops.”

Lucy Taylor’s folks were Joe and Rachel Taylor; the Taylor’s lived in Moulton, Alabama.  Joe had a brother by the name of Amos Taylor who owned a big farm and ran a store in Moulton.  Charlie remembers walking with his mother Lucy to Uncle Amos Taylor’s place; he said, “Uncle Amos was always dressed up and wore a suit and tie.”  Charlie also remembered that Lucy’s brother Jerry Taylor made whiskey and was eventually caught.  Charlie said that Jerry was sent to the penitentiary and the law said that they did not want him to come back to Lawrence County; Charlie’s Uncle Jerry was killed in prison.

Charlie’s Uncle James (Sonny) Taylor got killed playing his favorite game which was rolling dice.  Gambling was not only fun to Charlie’s Uncle Sonny, but it was also a way he made a lot of money.  Charlie said that his uncle kept the people broke who rolled dice with him; he kept a pistol with him all the time, and many times, just liked to threatened people with his gun.  One particular day, Charlie’s Uncle Sonny Taylor and a white man by the last name of Lindsey were rolling dice; Lindsey felt he had been cheated and slipped up behind Taylor with a butcher knife.  When Taylor reached to pick up the dice that he had just rolled, Lindsey cut his throat from ear to ear.  Sonny Taylor was able to get his pistol and get off two shots before he died, but the bullets did not hit anyone.

Jackson and Lucy Taylor Pointer are buried in the Lindsey Memorial Garden Cemetery.  The cemetery is located just one half mile directly east of Jesse Owens Park in the Community of Oakville in Lawrence County, Alabama.  From the cemetery, you can look west and see the Jesse Owens Museum and see the flags that fly in the park.

Be sure to follow my blog and learn about the plantation owners, slaves, and the survivors of slavery.  This part of Charlie life and other stories will be a part of my book, “Black Folk Tales of Appalachia: Slavery to Survival!”  

Rosenwald Schools and The Green Onion

Rosenwald Schools

Huston Cobb, Jr.’s mother was Nazareth Carter Cobb; Nazareth attended Courtland Academy which was a black boarding school in Courtland, Alabama.  She attended the academy until the eighth grade; the school burned in 1928.  The academy was built by a group of black churches organized as the North Alabama Baptist Association.

Huston Cobb told of many schools for black children that were built as part of a project of a Jewish man, Julius Rosenwald (August 12, 1862-January 6, 1932); Rosenwald was part-owner and leader of Sears, Roebuck and Company.  Paul J. Sachs, senior partner of Goldman Sachs, introduced Rosenwald to black educator Booker T. Washington, who in 1912 served on the Board of Directors of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.  Washington asked Rosenwald to help poor black children get an adequate education; initially, Rosenwald provided money to construct six schools in rural Alabama that were opened between 1913 and 1914.

Starting in 1917, the Rosenwald Fund constructed some 5,800 schools and educational facilities for poor children across the South.  Huston Cobb, Jr. was familiar with three of the Rosenwald schools that were built for black children in Colbert County, Alabama: one was located at Mount Pleasant on the County Line Road; another located on Ford Road near Wise (previously Reynolds) was called Pond Creek or Mt. Olivia at the south end of Ford Road; and another school was between Barton and Cherokee.  Huston was also familiar with a Rosenwald school for white students on Mt. Stanley Road that was called Midway School.

Nazareth Carter

Nazareth Carter was born on November 3, 1902, and died April 24, 1962; her father was Tracy C. Carter who was born in October 1878 and her mother was Fannie Johnson who was born in August 1883.  Tracy and Fannie Johnson Carter initially lived on the Johnson farm about one half mile southwest of the mouth of Town Creek.  Nazareth Carter Cobb had the following brothers and sisters: Carl A. (Boss), Willie Dee, Caroline, Mary Alice, Mattie Ellen, Annie Lee, Jimmy B., Odessa Carter.

Nazareth Carter’s maternal grandfather was Martin Johnson, Jr.; Nazareth was born on Martin’s home place which was located in the northeast corner of the junction of Second Street and Mt. Stanley Road/River Road.  Today, the River Road and the Mt. Stanley Road is actually the same road with both ending or beginning at the same place on Second Street; in other words, the River Road runs north from Second Street and the Mt. Stanley Road runs south from Second Street.  The old home site of Martin Johnson, Jr. was on a beautiful hilltop near the road crossing that is visible south of the mouth of Town Creek and the Tennessee River in present-day Colbert County, Alabama.  The Martin Johnson Jr. farm was located on part of the original old John Johnson plantation site.

Johnson Plantation

The Johnson plantation home was about a half mile southwest of the mouth of the Kittiakaska Creek and about 200 yards west of Kittiakaska Spring.  According to local folklore, a rope and pulley system was used to pull water from the spring to the house on the hilltop.  John H. Johnson built the large brick home just west of the present-day junction of the Foster’s Mill Road and the River Road. 

On a recent visit to the home, the walls were some three or more layers of brick thick; the house is in the process of decay and disrepair with the west wall fallen and the back of the house seen in the picture below is gone.  The site was listed in 1850 as The Green Onion; today, it is still known by that name.  Later during prohibition, The Green Onion was the site of a bootlegger’s alcoholic establishment near the mouth of Kittiakaska Creek. 

Captain John H. Johnson of Virginia was married three times; his wives were Elizabeth Williams, Nancy, and an unknown wife.  Supposedly, on August 3, 1807, Captain John H. Johnson and Nancy leased 1,000 acres from Doublehead in an agreement between John D. Chisholm and the State of Georgia.  Johnson’s lease in Doublehead’s Reserve was in the vicinity of the present-day City of Florence; however, on August 9, 1807, Doublehead was assassinated and his leases to white settlers came into question especially with the Chickasaw Indians.  The Chickasaw petitioned the United States Government to remove all white settlers from Chickasaw land; in order to comply with the Chickasaw request, the government built Fort Hampton which was established to remove white squatters.

Before 1830, John H. Johnson’s daughter Maredian, who was born in Virginia in 1806, married Cordial Faircloth; in the 1820 Census of Lawrence County, Cordial Faircloth household was listed as having one male over 21, one female over 21, two males under 21, and three black slaves.  According to the 1850 slave census, Cordial Faircloth had 38 black slaves; the Faircloth Family lived between the River Road and the Tennessee River north of the John H. Johnson place.

Another daughter of John H. Johnson, Lucinda married Major Lewis Dillahunty; in 1816, Major Dillahunty and Lucinda came into North Alabama.  Dillahunty on the request of General Andrew Jackson was sent to this area by the fifth President of the United States James Monroe in 1816 to secure removal of the Indians on the south side of the Tennessee River.  He was to survey the Indian lands and secure these lands for the United States.  Lewis and Lucinda were the first residents of Courtland, Alabama; in the 1820 census, Lewis Dillahunty household had a male and female over 21, two females under 21, and three black slaves.  In 1820, Thomas Dillahunty was listed as having nine black slaves.

On September 16 and 18, 1816, both the Cherokees and Chickasaws signed the Turkey Town Treaty giving up their overlapping claims to the land on the south side of the river; the Chickasaws received $120,000 and the Cherokees were paid $60,000 for the land in which includes the present-day counties of Colbert, Franklin, Lawrence, and Morgan.

Since John Johnson was in Alabama just prior to Doublehead’s death, his family was probably familiar with the Shoal Town Creek area; these Indian lands were sold during the federal lands sales starting in September of 1818; according to local folklore, Major Dillahunty selected the area at Kittikaska Spring for his father-in-law Johnson H. Johnson’s Plantation Home.  Later, according to the Lauderdale County Court Records, Henry Smith purchased a large tract of land from John Johnson in 1826 near the Smithsonia Community.  

The Green Onion farm included the land south of the mouth of Town Creek between the north and south forks of Kittikaski Branch.  The Johnson place was north of Second Street and west of the River Road.  Originally, all the John Johnson land was part of Lawrence County, Alabama.  In 1895, the area of Lawrence County west of Town Creek, north of the Franklin County line, and east of the County Line Road that ran through White Oak, Leighton, and Ford City was annexed into Colbert County.

John H. Johnson had a son John T. Johnson; another John A. Johnson of Colbert County may be a descendant of the Johnson family of The Green Onion.  The 1870 census of Colbert County shows a John A. Johnson, age 41, male, white, farm laborer, born in AL; Mary, age 30, female, white, keeping house, born in AL; Isaac, age 12, male, white, farm laborer, born in AL; Thomas, age 10, male, white, at home, born in AL; Newton, age 9, male, white, at home, born in AL; Joshua, age 8, male, white, at home, born in AL; Martha, age 4, female, white, born in AL; Lawranci, age 63, female, white, at home, born in GA; John Johnson is listed as John A., living in Tuscumbia in 1880; Mary is listed as Mary E.; Isaac L. is at home; Robert N., is at home; Joshua W. is at home; and Martha A. is at home. 

According to the 1850 slave census, the Johnsons of northeast Colbert County had some 20 black slaves that were the ancestors of many black folks in area including Huston Cobb’s family.  Also in 1850, the agent for The Green Onion or the John H. Johnson place was listed as being Thomas Jefferson Foster who at that time had under his control some 95 black slaves.  According to their black descendants, Huston’s great, great, Grandfather Martin Johnson, Sr. was a Johnson Family slave; his son Martin Johnson, Jr. who was Huston’s great grandfather was born a slave in 1820.

This story will also be CONTINUED; stay in touch with my blog on the black, Indian, and plantation history in our area as it unfolds in my new book and on my blogs.  Mr. Houston Cobb, Jr.’s story will be included in my new book which will be called “Black Folk Tales of Appalachia: Slavery to Survival.”

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Houston Cobb, Sr.

Houston Cobb, Sr.

Houston Cobb, Sr. was born on October 4, 1902, on the north side of Second Street across from present-day Cobb Drive in Colbert County, Alabama; he died October 24, 1985, on the south side of Second Street within a few hundred yards from where he was born.  Houston Cobb, Sr.’s parents were Mack Griffin and Mattie Eggleston Cobb, but they were never married.  Mattie was also born out of wedlock, and her father was Shirley Eggleston and her mother was Callie Cobb.  Callie was Huston Jr.’s great grandmother; she was the daughter of Archie Cobb.  According to the 1870 Census, Archie Cobb was 53 years old; therefore, he was probably a slave who was born in 1817.  In 1870, Archie was listed in the South Florence Post Office district in Colbert County which first became a county in 1867.

According to the 1870 Census of the South Florence Post Office, Alabama, Archie Cobb’s family is listed as follows:  23/23, Cobb, Archie, age 53, male, black, farm laborer, born in AL; Candas, age 30, female, black, keeping house, born in AL; Bedford, age 16, male, black, farm laborer, born in AL; Thomas, age 11, male, black, born in AL; Malinda, age 7, female, black, born in AL; Callie, age 3, female, black, born in AL; Salley; William, age 22, male, black, farm laborer, born in AL.

Mack Griffin’s mother, Mary, was from Moulton, Alabama; the black Griffin Family probably got their family name from the nine slaves listed in the 1850 slave census and owned by G. W. Griffin of Lawrence County, Alabama.  Mack Griffin was probably born in Moulton and died in 1923; he was originally buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery on the County Line Road just south of present-day Ford City.  After the burial of his body of 83 years, his remains were exhumed and moved; he was reinterred in the Cobb Family Cemetery behind Bethel Church on Highway 184 or Second Street in 2006.

After Huston’s great grandfather Mack Griffin and his wife Salley Cobb Griffin died, Houston Cobb, Sr. inherited half of the 42 acres of land that they owned; Sally was the sister of Callie and the daughter of Archie Cobb.  Houston Cobb, Sr. inherited 21 acres of land that is just south of the present-day home of Huston Cobb, Jr.

In 1929, Houston Cobb, Sr. and Salley Cobb Griffin bought a 1929 Chevrolet car when Republican Herbert Hoover took office as President of the United States.  During the Hoover presidency, the United States economy plunged into the Great Depression; the financial situation of the country continued to get worse until Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt won the presidential election in 1932 at the depth of the depression.

 The 1929 car was purchased from Emmitt King of Leighton; Emmitt was the son of Claude King.  Houston’s car was the only new car owned by a black family that people both black and white would seek for transportation within miles of the community.  White and black folks would come to Houston’s house and get him to carry them to doctors, funerals, or even on dates for young men to see their girlfriends.

The King Family was one of the some 30 original groups of white settlers that owned slaves which came to Alabama from North Carolina.  According to the 1860 slave census, the Kings owned some 221 black slaves; during the days of slavery, the family accumulated fine homes, farms, businesses, many acres of land, and considerable wealth for that time.  Many of the black folks in the Tennessee Valley portion of North Alabama are descendants of the King Family slaves and remained in the area after the Civil War.

In the Town of Leighton, Claude King moved a small stage coach stop building west of the intersection of County Line Road and old Highway 20 where he built a fine brick home; both old houses are still standing today.  Claude owned a cotton gin, two stores in Leighton, and one store in Florence; he furnished both black and white farmers in the area.  Some members of the King Family maintained their wealth after the Civil War and continued to have economic ties to their former black slaves; they provided the materials and backing to the small black farmers in exchange for mortgages on everything they owned.

Many of the of poor white and black families had to mortgage their property in order to make a crop; therefore, during bad harvest years, these marginal families lost their property to the wealthy white folks that held their mortgage.  Especially during the years of the Great Depression, the wealthy got richer while many of the small landowners lost everything they had accumulated.  The vicious cycle of poverty, low wages, poor living conditions, and other factors of economic depression continue during the depression until the New Deal under Roosevelt and other social programs put the poor on better footing for improved living conditions.

Immediately after being elected President of the United States, Roosevelt begins the New Deal which came up with programs that included the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).  Among the work projects of TVA was the construction of Wheeler Dam which was started in January 1933, and completed November 9, 1936; Houston Cobb, Sr. got a job at Wheeler Dam in 1934.  He made thirty five cents per hour working on the dam and received a check every two weeks.  Houston worked on the dam until it was completed; while working for TVA at Wheeler Dam, he ran a jack hammer.

After working on Wheeler Dam, Houston Cobb, Sr. began work at the nitric plant number two near Wilson Dam in present-day Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Wilson Dam was started in 1918 and completed in 1924 by the Army Corps of Engineers, but the dam became part of the TVA in 1933.  Wilson Dam was originally built to provide power to the nitrate plants that were built to make explosives for World War I.

Houston Cobb made a good living working with TVA, but he also farmed and borrowed $300.00 a year to make a crop.  In order to get the money for the crop, Houston had to mortgage their property.  Huston Cobb, Jr. said, “We really did not know we were poor, but we were better off than most black and white families.  My family went to church every Sunday; many of the TVA workers would wear their badge to church to show that they had a job.”

The Houston Cobb Sr. family attended Bethel Colbert Baptist Church when Huston, Jr. was a small child; he was a member and attended the church until he was 32 years old.  After people went to the mourner’s bench to get their religion, they would later be baptized thinking their sins had already been forgiven; so the consensus was that you were saved when you got your religion.  Then after many years, Huston Jr. found out that baptism was for the remission of sins; then the question is why you got the religion.

Huston disagreed with the Baptist and the Church of Christ teaches baptism was the way of salvation; therefore, for this biblical reason, Huston started going to the Church of Christ which was more in line with his beliefs.  When Huston left the Baptist church, a total of 16 other members of the Baptist congregation left with him; the members changing to the Church of Christ included his daddy and mother, Nazareth and Houston Cobb, Sr.

This story will also be CONTINUED; stay in touch with my blog on the black, Indian, and plantation history in our area as it unfolds in my new book and on my blogs.  Mr. Houston Cobb, Jr.’s story will be included in my new book which will be called “Black Folk Tales of Appalachia: Slavery to Survival.”

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Huston Cobb Story

Huston Cobb Story

On January 4, 2013, I had the good fortune to meet a delightful eighty seven year old black gentleman by the name of Huston Cobb, Jr.  After a two hour interview of getting into the world of Huston Cobb, we took a tour of his stomping grounds in the northeastern corner of Colbert County, Alabama; we made stops at The Oaks Plantation Home, LaGrange Mountain Cemetery, Jarman Plantation House, John Johnson Plantation House, Shaw Plantation Home, Old Brick, and the old Cherokee village of Shoal Town at the mouth of Town Creek.  

Huston Cobb, Jr. was born to Houston Cobb, Sr. and Nazareth Carter Cobb on March 10, 1925.   Huston Cobb was delivered for $14.00; he was born at home only one and a half miles from where he lives today.  Huston Cobb describes his home of today as an exotic house with lots of glass and a garden in the middle; his home is on Second Street or present-day Highway 184.  Doctor Stanley delivered Huston Cobb, Jr.; he lived on Mt. Stanley Road between Second Street and Sixth Street.  In 1860, the Stanley Family owned 42 black slaves.  Houston Cobb, Sr. and Nazareth Carter Cobb had the following children:  Tracien, Huston, Leo M., Earnest, Carl, Mattie Cleazell, and Willie I. Cobb.

Hog Island

Huston Cobb’s sister, Tracien Cobb Oats, was born on October 22, 1923, on Hog Island in the mouth of Town Creek prior to the flooding of the area by Wilson Dam.  Houston and Nazareth Carter Cobb along with other black families lived and farmed on Hog Island before the rising flood waters inundated the island when Wilson Dam was closed.  Prior to the creation of the reservoir, the Cobb Family moved just a mile south near Second Street where Huston Cobb, Jr. was born.

Hog Island probably got its name from the Hogg Family found in the area during the 1870 census; traditionally, many of the islands in the Tennessee River were named for the white settler families that owned or lived on the islands after the Indians were removed.  Prior to removal, the area around Hog Island was in the Cherokee village called Shoal Town.  Today, the island is presently covered with some two to three feet of shallow backwaters of Wilson Lake.  The island is located about two miles west of present-day Wheeler Dam near the middle of Big Muscle Shoals.  Hog Island is located adjacent to the south edge of the main channel of the Tennessee River in the mouth of Town Creek; the island was about a mile north of Kittiakaska Creek.

Originally, the area of Shoal Town was a large prehistoric Indian settlement with several large mounds dating back to the Archaic Period.  The historic Shoal Town  was in the area of Hog Island, Blue Water Creek,  Shoal Town Creek, and Big Nance Creek on the Big Muscle Shoals of the Tennessee River.  Shoal Town was the largest Cherokee town in the area and was the home of Kattygisky, Doublehead, and Tahluntuskee (Talohuskee) Benge.  In 1809, Tahluntuskee led his Cherokee people from their home at Shoal Town to west of the Mississippi River and became known as the “Cherokees West” or “Old Settlers.”

Kittiakaska Creek

Kittiakaska Creek runs into Town Creek about a half mile south of the Tennessee River and west of present-day Doublehead’s Resort; the present-day River Road in Colbert County crosses the creek in sight of the resort.  Chickamauga Cherokee Chiefs Kattygisky and his friend Doublehead lived at Shoal Town which included Hog Island.  The area near the mouth of Kittiakaska Creek was earlier the home the Cherokee Kattygisky; the small creek was named after him. 

During the time of Huston Cobb, Kittiakaska Creek was used as the baptizing hole for the Bethel Colbert Baptist Church; Huston and Lorene Rutland was baptized in the creek in 1935, by Reverend Willie A. Ashford, who was the preacher at the church.  Reverend Ashford would ride a train from Courtland to Town Creek; when Huston Cobb turned 16 years old, he would pick up Ashford at the railroad station in the Town of Town Creek and bring him to the Cobb home on Saturday. 

Ashford would preach on Sunday at Bethel Colbert which was on the south fork of Kittiakaska Creek and Second Street.  After the noon service, he would be carried back to the railroad station at Town Creek to catch a trail back to Courtland.  Teachers that taught at the one room Bethel School would also board with the Cobb family during the week and would go home on the weekend.  Most of the teachers would come from Sheffield or Tuscumbia to teach at the one room school that was for the nearby black children.

The baptizing hole was located in the center of Section 26 of Township 3 South and Range 9 West.  The baptizing hole was about three to four feet deep; the blue hole was up the creek about a half of mile from the baptizing hole.  Later, the church started baptizing people at old Foster’s Bridge.

Foster’s Slaves

According to a 1908 map of Colbert County, Foster’s Mill was located near the junction of Kittiakaska Creek and Town Creek.  It was at this location that Mary C. Foster was shown as owning land on both sides of the road.  The grist mill was owned by Thomas Jefferson Foster; according to the 1860 Lawrence County Census of slaves, Thomas Jefferson Foster owned 129 black slaves.  Many of the black folks at Red Bank and other places along the river are probably descendants of Foster’s slaves.  Fosters Mill was the original name of the bridge crossing Town Creek at Doublehead’s Resort; however, today the bridge is now called Joe Patterson Bridge.  The road that crosses Town Creek and runs past Doublehead’s Resort is still called Foster’s Mill Road.

Not all black slaves were brought into North Alabama by white settlers; many were already in the area and owned by the Cherokee and Chickasaw Indians.  Doublehead, a Lower Cherokee of the Chickamauga Confederacy, and his sister Ocuma and her husband John Melton owned some 100 black slaves.  Some 60 of the black slaves of Doublehead’s family were purchased by General Andrew Jackson and remained in North Alabama.  In addition, Doublehead’s double son-in-law Chickasaw Chief George Colbert owned some 150 slaves, but many of those were moved west with Colbert in November, 1837.

This story will also be CONTINUED; stay in touch with my blog on the black, Indian, and plantation history in our area as it unfolds in my new book and on my blogs.  Mr. Houston Cobb, Jr.’s story will be included in my new book which will be called “Black Folk Tales of Appalachia.”