- Historic Sites
Ed A Black Sharecropper’s Story
DRAWN FROM INTERVIEWS WITH JANE MAGUIRE
February 1976 | Volume 27, Issue 2
Mac come to spend two or three days with his sister so he could see what his brother-in-law, Rogers Hollis, had. The main thing was one milk cow. Mac got some men’s shoes and ties them on the cow’s feet so Rogers won’t be able to follow her tracks. After Mac lead the cow to the railway tracks, he take off the shoes and walk her from Burnham’s Bay to Vienna, Georgia, about twenty miles.
He goes to the hands on a big farm. They was goin to buy the cow for seven dollars and butcher it and divide the beef amongst them. But before they could make up the money, the law come and arrest McLeod. The judge sentence him to twelve months. If he didn’t steal somethin from jail, I would be surprised.
After Mac was in jail awhile, Mr. Hyatt Wilcox paid his fine and got him out. Mr. Wilcox would not pay him in cash but let him take up his wages in groceries at the store.
Saturday night Mac was in the habit of takin up enough groceries for two or three people. Then he’d go right out behind the store and sell what he’d got for cash. If he had took up one dollar’s worth of groceries, he’d sell them for fifty cents or even twenty-five. After pilin up a big debt at the store he runned away.
The first I knowed McLeod was back, my brother driv up to my house and call, “Hey, Ed, here Mac! He want me to carry him over to Miss Estelle’s.” That was his mother-in-law. “You want to go with us?” I was settin in the bathtub and told them no. It was Saturday evenin, and he had slipped back on the Seaboard train that run through there then to see his wife.
Somehow the white folks got in the winds of McLeod bein back. I was livin on Mr. Addison’s place in Kramer in a house that white people had once lived in. It had glass windows and a narrow porch with a rail that run acrost the front of it.
About midnight there was a knock at the door. Whoever was there had come up quiet. I look out the front window. There was two men settin on the rail. I walk into the dinin room, where my two sisters was settin up in bed. “What is you done?”
“Nothin,” they both say. I look out the dinin room window and there was men in the yard.
I want to tell you the honest truth; that’s a turrible feelin to be surrounded like that. There was one or two men at every crack that open out my house. In them days the whites would come and take people out and try to whup ‘em, beat ‘em to death, kill ‘em. I didn’t want that to happen. I had always said if the whites ever come there at me, I’m goin to make them kill me right there in front of my folks and not way off somewhere. Now I couldn’t figure what to do.
I walk into my bedroom. “What is you done?” My wife was drawed up under the covers cryin and prayin.
“I ain’t done nothin.” When I look out the bedroom window, I saw more men. I hadn’t done anythin. And my little girl was too small.
I seen a Chevrolet settin out on the road.
Just walkin, walkin every which a way in my house, I didn’t know what in the world to do.
“Lord have mercy,” my wife cry. “Turn to the Lord.”
They sure scared a fit on me. I wasn’t thinkin about prayin.
They kept a callin, “Ed, come on out.”
“I ain’t comin out there. Who is it?”
I thought I heard “The Law.” I ask him, “Who did you say that is?” My sisters both stand straight up in their double bed.
“Josh Lawson.” He a bailiff. I knowed him.
“Light you a lamp.”
“No, I don’t need no light.”
“Come on out here.”
“Put your shoes on.”
“All right.” I set there and put my shoes on. That give me a little time to study. I had a .38 pistol and a good shotgun, but I didn’t have nare cartridge and nare shell.
“Open the door.”
I was shakin so bad. I crack open the door. There was a man standin with his back to the wall right next to the door. I look out right into his face. I shot the door back.
Now Josh Lawson seed I wasn’t comin out unless he drug me out. “I’m lookin for McLeod,” he say. “You seen McLeod?”
“Yeah, I seed him. He come by here this evenin with my brother.”
“I’m comin in to search for him.”
I open the door, and he come on in. I had one closet. He jump backwards up in that closet. He make a show of lookin around.
“Ed, you got any good drinkin liquor?”
“No, I don’t drink liquor.”
They run for the car because they knowed there was too many of them for the inside of Mr. Lawson’s Chevrolet. Some could hang on to the runnin boards, and the last one or two would have to stick on the hood. OfF they went to search the other colored people’s houses.
After they left, I went to my brother’s house. I want him and the other colored families to know the bailiff was comin.
They had done got at Homer before they come to my house. “I was so scared I butted my head against the wall tryin to kill myself,” he say.
And they had been to my brother-in-law Tommy’s house. He swore he wasn’t scared. “Shoot, no!” But I know he was.
McLeod’s mother-in-law had a bunch of cows in the barn, and he just went in there and lay down amongst them. He sneaked off, and I haven’t seen him since.
Me and none of my people did anythin the next day. We just laid around.