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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 >>

Economic motivations for absentee land ownership

When Adamson was born, her family was going through a difficult economic time. They tried moving to a nearby town to run a hotel, leaving the farm in the hands of the tenants, but absenteeism did not work well.

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

I perhaps should clarify something as far as time was concerned. My father was having a very difficult time, my parents were having a very difficult time about the time I was born. I was the tenth child, and that wouldexplain about it, but also, times were hard. I don't know enough about history to know what depression it was, but anyhow, it was very difficult for him to make a living. He had gone to Wentworth the county seat, to be the clerk of the court where some of the children had been born. But they had moved back to the farm before I was born because they were just struggling very hard to make a living. So my sister, Teeny, just two and a half years older than I was born in Wentworth, but I was born on the farm.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
After they came back.
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
Yes. So my earliest memories are of the hotel in Leaksville-Spray where they moved, my parents moved again in an effort to make a living. There was a small hotel where mostly the drummers stayed. You know what a drummer is?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No.
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
Now they would be called traveling salesmen, but then they were drummers. There was a railroad that went through, it was a cotton mill town, so the drummers came through in connection, I suppose, with the tobacco and the cotton business there. They needed to have a place to stay. And how large the hotel was? It seemed quite large to me as a child, but in later years when I went through Spray, why, it seemed a very small establishment. Anyhow, the idea was that they would have a place for the family to live, and then they could make some money in running the hotel. So it also was a very difficult life. My parents really, really had a hard time making a living.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did they stay in Spray for a very long time?
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
Well, since I was born in the farm and how old I was when we went there, a year, not more than two years, my first memories are in the hotel in Spray. Then we moved back to the farm when I was five years old because it was just too difficult in trying to run the farm. My father was trying to run the farm, to keep up with the tenants, and so forth. I have only one memory of the farm and during that period, and that is going up there with him one time, when we went in the surrey. We had to cross a stream that was swollen with rain, and it was a very exciting thing for me, you know, whether the horses were goingto make it across or not. We had to have hot bricks in the foot of the surrey to try to keep us warm for this trip up there. We didn't stay very long. I don't remember that we stayed at all, but I it was one of my earliest, most vivid memories about that trip in the wintertime up to the farm.