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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Strom Thurmond, July 20, 1978. Interview A-0334. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The Thurmond children worked to support the family farm

Strom Thurmond and his siblings helped operate the family farm. He milked the cows and also earned income by buying additional land and working at a store and a garage.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Strom Thurmond, July 20, 1978. Interview A-0334. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JAMES G. BANKS:
Did you have a lot of farm equipment to run that farm?
STROM THURMOND:
No, we didn't have any equipment at all, we didn't have any tractors.
JAMES G. BANKS:
So you had a lot of hired help, right?
STROM THURMOND:
Well, the land out in the country was done on division of the crops. My father would furnish the fertilizer and the seed, and finance and everything and split the crop with the man who worked it. We would go out and talk with these people every few weeks;ride the buggy out and talk with 'em. My father would talk to me going out there and back. At the time, sometimes I thought I'd rather be playing, but after going with him several times I learned it was so much fun and I found it very interesting to be with him, and enjoyed being with him.
JAMES G. BANKS:
Did anybody else live with your family in the house, other than family?
STROM THURMOND:
Well, except a man. We did have a white man;Logan, cousin of my mother's who lived with us and worked there on the place some. But we had some other people that worked there;I'm speaking now of near Edgefield;we had other people. We had a cook, and we had a man who worked in the field. When I got big enough my job was to milk the cows, so I milked the cows up until I went off to college.
JAMES G. BANKS:
How many cows did you have?
STROM THURMOND:
Anywhere from three to half a dozen.
JAMES G. BANKS:
So what did you grow on these number of acres here and there. You had diverse agriculture?
STROM THURMOND:
Cotton and corn chiefly, some grains. We generally grew enough oats to feed the horses, corn and oats.
JAMES G. BANKS:
So you didn't have any farm equipment for cotton, so it all had to be hand labor, right?
STROM THURMOND:
Oh yeah. And when my neighbor went to war in about 1917, World War I, I bought his crop and worked it myself;I was about fourteen years old. I bought his crop and it helped him out, and then I thought I'd make some money. My brother and I actually bought it. He later became a doctor, obstetrician. He's delivered more babies than any doctors in Georgia or South Carolina, the older brother. At any rate, he didn't like to work much in the farm. I soon saw I wasn't going to get much work out of him so I bought him out. But it turned out he cleared about as much as I did because we had a drought that year. (chuckle) But he was always cutting old frogs and snakes and things like that.
JAMES G. BANKS:
Did you ever get an allowance. You know, kids today want an allowance. Did you get a weekly allowance for doing these jobs around the place?
STROM THURMOND:
No, I don't believe we got an allowance. But I worked;I clerked in the store some on Saturdays. Clerked for Mr. Bob Dunovant Mr. J. D. Kemp. Also worked in a garage for George Adams on Saturdays in the summer time;not all summers but some times, maybe for a month. I had to work on the farm chiefly. When I clerked;well, I guess I was about fourteen, fifteen;I worked on the farm until I got big enough, then do that. And I still did some, my father required us to work on that farm.