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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Ethelene McCabe Allen, May 21, 2006. Interview C-0314. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Moving frequently as tenant farmers

Allen explains that her family often moved around, primarily within Wayne County and Johnson County, North Carolina, during her childhood because of her father's work as a sharecropper. In particular, Allen recalls moving one time because her father found a landlord who was willing to let him keep two-thirds, rather than one-half, of his share of the crops. Though brief, Allen's comments are indicative of the lifestyle of tenant farmers during these years.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Ethelene McCabe Allen, May 21, 2006. Interview C-0314. 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

Now let's talk about those moves. Why did your family make those moves? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: He was a tenant farmer. He rented somebody's land and they - he got part of the crop and the landowner or, as they called it the landlord, got part of the crop when it was sold and of course he always had some acres that were his own to do what he got ready with. It was the cash crops that they shared, the tobacco and cotton. The corn, grains - that was his to do what he wanted to with, raise farm animals or whatever he wanted to with. He was looking to better himself, so he would maybe look for a better location, a better farm, maybe a little bigger farm, if he could manage it. Then the move to Wayne County was - he decided he wanted to be near his relatives. Mama's relatives were in Johnston County, but he got a good offer from a good landlord there and he really - he really liked that landlord. He was. And too it was - usually they shared crops half and half. This one just took one-third and left daddy two-thirds, which meant he paid one-third of the expenses on the crop too, but still that, and daddy paid two-thirds, but that was getting more of the benefit of what land he was tending.
Do you remember the name of that particular landlord in Wayne County? Who gave such favorable terms? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: I do not. I cannot remember if he was a Woodard. I cannot remember his name.
Do you remember the location, what part of Wayne County? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: But uh. It was not too far from Princeton, between Princeton and Goldsboro, but I attended Rosewood School, so it was in that district for Rosewood School. I was not close enough to Princeton to go to Princeton School. So. And I was in first grade when we moved to Wayne County and I was in sixth grade when we moved back to Smithfield to Johnston County.
Were all of those moves associated with your dad changing to a different farm? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: The farming. That's it.