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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Mary Price Adamson, April 19, 1976. Interview G-0001. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Life on a tobacco farm during the early 1900s

Adamson describes her family farm, the economic conditions there during the early 1900s, and the relationship her family had with the tenant farmers working on the property.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Mary Price Adamson, April 19, 1976. Interview G-0001. 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

MARY FREDERICKSON:
What had been the effects of the Civil War on your family?
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
I heard only reverberations about it. My grandfather's family had slaves, and the most that I knew about it as a child was the slave graveyard in our front yard; it was sort of toward the barns as wasour family graveyard. But they were slightly separated, apart. Then there were the slave houses down from the house, down towards the creek, in the fields that way. There was a ditch that had been there, and it was told that the slave houses were built along that ditch, I suppose for the drainage. I don't know anything more about it. But these were just things that I accepted as a child. That's what it was. They were still known as the slave houses' ditch and the slave graveyard. These were places where I played as a child.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
When your father was running the farm, were they still farming tobacco?
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
Yes, it was a tobacco farm. I don't know how large the farm had been originally, whether it was the same size. But by the time that I came along, there were about 2,000 acres in the farm.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Who worked on the farm? Who did he have to help him?
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
Tenant farmers and my brothers.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Were they black?
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
They were black; let's see, I guess there were one or two white tenant farmers. There were about-I could stop to count them-but there were about six or eighttenant houses on the farm.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you have any contact with those tenants?
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
Yes, very much I had contact with those tenants. For one thing, Martha Oliver lived within sight of our house. It seemed to me like a considerable distance at the time, but now if I saw it it doubtless would be not very far away because we could see her house up the road, on the way to Madison. She was really more the house servant. She had a small plot of land, but she really didn't work in the fields. What she did was she worked at our house. Her older daughter, Nora, was my nurse, and so I was particularly close to her. And then Martha's youngest girl was just about my age. I can't remember her name right now. And there was a son Petras who was just older than I, so that I was associated with them very closely. Then the other tenant farmers were within walking distance but a little farther away. So when I started to school at the Gold Hill School, why, we had to go past some of these houses. Well, I just knew about them.