Tuesday, March 15, 2011

School in the Southland in the 1890's.

My mother was only 18 months old when her father, Charles Irvin Dick, died - leaving a pregnant wife and seven little children.

As a child, Ieula Ann Dick never knew her paternal relatives, but she was told her Grandfather Dick had been the "first sheriff of Clay County, Alabama." I am told her Grandfather Dick's picture is still on the wall of the Clay County Courthouse.

Mama's young father had gone hunting late on a cold Christmas Day. He became very ill with a cold that turned into pneumonia and proved fatal for Charles Dick and for many others in that year. (1887)

Soon after her father's untimely death, her maternal grandfather, Bogan Mask, moved his daughter, Elizabeth, and her children from Clay County Alabama to a small house on his large farm in Inman, Georgia. Inman was a farming community in Fayette County, Georgia, where the grieving widow, Elizabeth, gave birth to her eight child, a son. I do not know how Charles Dick in Clay County Alabama met Elizabeth Mask in Inman Georgia? But apparently Bogan Mask thought Charles Dick worthy to marry his oldest daughter?

Mama loved her Grandfather Mask who apparently tried to be a father to his oldest daughter's fatherless children. He was hard working and prosperous for the times - a farmer and a Methodist preacher. Bogan Mask also is credited with beginning Ebenezer Methodist Church in Fayette County and Friendship Methodist Church in Clayton County.

Aunt Cora, Eula's (my mother was called "Eula") older sister thought Elizabeth and her eight little children were overlooked often by their more prosperous relatives. But Mama said her mother was aware of her dependance and was timid about making her father aware of their needs.I do not know all of what was going on during the "Reconstruction of the South". But certainly Rev. Bogan Mask had his heart and hands full with farming and family as well as pastoring several churches.

The South was still in reconstruction in the late 1880's. My mother said she remembered the first pair of shoes she ever had. She told me how one time when her mother mentioned her feet were cold, she got down at the foot of the bed to rub her mother's feet until they were warm. Apparently the younger children were sleeping with their mother. My mother, whose IQ was at least as high as mine, had to stop her schooling after about ninth grade.

Mama had grown up to marry Wilson Baird when she was 18. Wilson was, according to Eula , "a young 40. " Wilson was the youngest son of William and Mary Baird. William had served as an officer in the Confederate Army and was wounded in the Battle of the Wilderness. William Baird was said to be a Methodist Exorter. In the history of the Methodist Church at Oak Hill, He was known as Colonel William Baird. He was listed as the Sunday School Superintendent and was one of their literate members before the devastation of the schools during the War Between the States.


My father, Benjamin Wilson Baird's father had been wounded and his older sister's husband had been killed while serving in the Confederate Army, leaving his wife with a child to raise.

My understanding it that Wilson Baird, my Papa stayed on to work the farm (he was said to be a good and talented farmer) and help his mother and widowed sister in the care of his niece, and so waited until his 40's to marry. I am the youngest of Wilson and Ieula's 11 children, nine of whom survived into adulthood.

I grew up realizing the personal cost of the Civil War to my family as well as others, both Black and White families in the devastated Southland. My father, who died when I was nine, was a devote Christian man and church lay leader. He was a good farmer and although with little formal education read widely.

Mama told me a little about the school she attended. As was typical in the South, this bright little girl went to school only too briefly in the war-torn South where many of the schools and houses had been torched as General Sherman and his Army moved through the Southland "all the way to the Sea."
We need to see how we did overcome many of these problems and not continue down the road to bitterness and political division of class and ethnicity and also not continue the destruction of our hard won life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. (1)

Mama told me about Professor Culpepper who taught her though all the arithmetic books and into much of algebra in the little one room schoolhouse near Inman before, all too soon, she had to leave school to work in the fields and on the farm. School was a luxury few in the South could afford. When I asked Mama what grade she completed, she told me they did not have grade levels then (1890's) as we then had when i was in school (early 1930's). However, her formal education was probably somewhat equal to a ninth grade education. Strangely, this was more education than many of the women in our neighborhood had at the time my family moved there in 1922, a year before my birth.

Mama revered Professor Culpepper and told me how he took time to teach algebra to her in that one room schoolhouse. Mama was also glad to tell me, in a world divided by class as well as race and gender, her father and her mother's family "came from good stock." They valued education for the girls as well as the boys.

My Cousin, S.J.Overstreet sent me this 1904 picture of the one room Inman Schoolhouse in Fayette County Georgia. Dr. Culpepper is shown on the back row. My mother was 19 in 1904 and had long since had to drop out of school and had married. When I think of how valuable family history is to me, I know the need for all of America's children to hear the unique history of America at a time of world wide slavery and later illiteracy, class divisions and racial segregation.

Notes
1.Recently,(7-8-10) I heard a member of the New Black Panthers say he hated "all white people. " (If so, as reported in another post, this young African American man hates the Caucasian descendents of Abolitionists. From the beginning of Africans being sold into slavery to some White slave owners and some also sold to African American and Native American's, at the same time there were many White people who were working tirelessly and some giving their life to abolish what John Wesley and other white Christian men and women called "the vile institution of Slavery.)


G.K Chesterson said, "When Jesus died, Slavery was defeated but it took the church many years to become powerful enough to defeat the powerful slave trade."

9 comments:

Carol said...

Fascinating reading - as always.

Joan said...

How very, very interesting! Thanks for taking the time to search your memory and write these accounts.

Greatfullivin said...

Hi, I just found you through the blog awards. I think I have been missing out. Very interesting read. I will be back often. Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

Mother, you really do need to write your book on "Blogging at 80"! Your posts are so interesting! There is information here I don't remember ever knowing before.

Debi

Questing Parson said...

One of the tragedies of our times is stories like this don't get handed down as they should be. You're a blessing to your descendants.

Jennifer said...

What a blessing indeed! I, too, found you through the Blog Awards... what a wonderful record for your family.

Jane Rhem said...

I would love to hear from anyone having information on the old Hill Family Cemetery in Inman. I found it in 1997 from a posting on the Internet and help from a long time local resident - but have been unable to find anyone since with information on it. It was deep into a wooded area and grown over, with leaning headstones and even open graves. My ggg-grandmother, Mary Amanda Murphy, was buried there and I took pictures of her marker and that of her husband's, Andrew Murphy.
Hoping for information!
Jane Rhem
jsrhem@yahoo.com

Janice said...

Fascinating reading, mother, thanks for writing it all down for us!

www.islas-baleares-3d.com said...
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