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Oral History Interview with J. D. Thomas and Lela Rigsby Thomas, November 14, 2000. Interview K-0507. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    J. D. Thomas and his wife, Lela Rigsby Thomas, grew up on Sprinkle Creek in upper Madison County, North Carolina, and made their lifelong home not far from where they spent their childhoods. In this interview, they discuss the many changes that have come to Madison County since the early 1900s, remembering unpaved roads and reading by oil lamp, iceboxes and wooden sidewalks. Farmers, laborers, and textile workers formed a closely-knit community that bonded over decorating graves at their cemetery, or building barns together. But growth and immigration, speeded by road improvements and new highways that cut through Madison County, have changed the Thomases' community. They share their perspectives on these changes in this interview: Lela reveals a strong emotional connection to the area and frustration over the extent of its change and the number of new arrivals, although she is optimistic for the future. J. D., a self-described "old-timer," is resigned to his area's transformation and happy for the opportunity he hopes it brings to young people. This interview offers a portrait of change in people and in the natural environment, and a look at how one community has weathered the pressures of modernization.
  • A boy's farm chores
  • Changes in Madison County, North Carolina
  • A self-reliant rural community
  • Cameraderie at a textile mill
  • Modern changes come to Madison County
  • Modern changes come to Madison County
  • Different perspectives on new arrivals to an old community
  • Development dramatizes emotional connections to family land
  • Development may strengthen a community
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  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.