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!”  

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