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Interview With Miss Jessy

The following is the transcript of an interview from the summer of 1994 between Earnest Scarborough's neice, Kathy Gilmore and nephew, Michael Poythress with Mrs. Jessy Brown Josey (Mrs C.W. Josey) in Bishopville, South Carolina.

Earnest did the transcription from a copy of the tape.

The identity of person speaking is indicated by "J" for Miss Jessie (Jessie Brown Josey), "O" for others.

Miss Jessie was married on 11 December 1910.

She passed away, a few years ago.

J - "It didn't take much time for me to sleep. I could sit up all night long and get one or two hours of sleep,you know, and get up and go. But its different now - laugh-. Of course none of you precious young children know. I am living in a different world."


O - "You look like you're right here to me."


J - "Well now, I mean not everything is so different now. I remember things, you know, that precious youngpeople now-a-days don't even know. But I find _______.and I like young people. Quite to my astonishment, when I was growing up, quite many little ones, you-know, would stand in awe just like they were afraid of us. You know. I guess you noticed, I never did."


O - "Oh yes."


J - "I think one reason, my mother had an anut and she was a maiden lady and she never had a home, so she spent alot, you know, with us and my mother... I beg your pardon if I've spoken too much.... but she was the best and sweetest Christian I ever knew."


O - "That's great."


J - "And of course I was little when she came and she took an interest in me so she would tell me things and she'd braid my hair and, you know, she took alot of interest in me and so I learned to just worship her. I never was afraid of older people, and I was so happy that little people aren't afraid of me at church. You know when I go to church. Thats the only place I go. - laugh .Well occassionally I go somewhere when er I feel its just right. With those people who have been so good to me. Growing up, I grew up in the sand hills where people worked. -laugh- and, but there was a few things that were strict, you know


O - "Yea, I know."


J - "My father and mother, I thank God every night of my life in my last devotions. Because Pappa always said, you know, he had no literary education, well because what he got he had to walk maybe two or three miles and it was an old country school. But he had, the thing, you know, there was such a difference in learning and unless you have the wisdom, if you get the learning, you don't know how to use it."


O - "That makes sense, sure does."


J - "Thats right. I found that out -laugh-, The problem of course, I'm a real rebel you know. When pappa found out something about the firing on Fort Sumner, was as much as he could stand. He didn't want to be a conscripter, you see, He loved the South, but he did not love slavery. He was actually, his mother died when he was born and his grandmother raised him, and she was a strict abolishionist. She was not a big planter or anything, but she had a farm. She bought help and they were suppose to be man and wife, but they knew nothing and she didn't know about marriage laws in Africa. But they were suppose to be man and wife according to "his " grandmother. They didn't know anything, you know, except of course they took her name and one of the decendents of those people worked with my father on the farm. It was a strange thing about them in a way, because when she bought them, she told them they were free because she didn't believe in slaves, but that she needed them on her little farm. She was not a big planter, but she had a hundred acres or so and nobody to work anything much and if they would stay she would provide a little cottage for them to live in and take care of them. And they stayed until Mr. Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclimation and then two of them left.


O -"And they were already free and they left anyway?"


J - "They left but there was two of them that stayed. Her grandmothers name was Martha and they just told her, Aunt Martha, we just don't want to leave you. You have been a good friend to us and took care of us. They didn't have... and they didn't know anything. So we're going to stay with you, So they stayed. And they was there until they died and their decendents followed their example. It certainly is a good thing two of them stayed because when father was captured, you know, he was taken prisoner on the 15th of October, 1864. On the line between Tennessee and North Carolina, at a little place... I think there is still a place up there they call Hensonville."


O - "Yes mam"


J - "It was somewhere near that and that's where he was captured and they took him right on from there to Richmond and from there to Point Lookout Maryland, and you know the history of that place."


O - "I've heard a little about it."


J - "Well it was the most notorious prison they had and my dear ol' daddy said, and he stayed there until Robert E Lee laid down his sword. A man who came there on day from Oklahoma and had found out from his daughter what a rebel I was, so he decided to have some fun with me... He ask how she felt about Robert E.Lee surrendering. You know, I said " He surrendered? you know, I said, Robert E. Lee was a gentleman. I said, " he didn't surrender, he just laid down his sword because he thought he might endanger more of those men's lives and he was outnumbered." That man looked at me and said" You think so?" and I said " I know so. I don't think anything about it.


O - "I have read a little about my great-grandfather, Hanford Augustus." [Hanford Augustus Scarborough]


J - "Uncle Gus we called him."


O - "I knew he was a musician and a singer."


J - "And everything else."


O - "Did he play the piano?"


J - "I tell you one thing. There never was a finer man."


O - "I need to know what kind of man he was because I'd like to write a book about him."


J - "You know, he, when I married my husband, it was the 11th of December, 1910, and I'd gone to church when I was about eleven years old but we were out in the country and we were married in the church. Harold [Dickerson] and I know where it is........ and it was in Sumter County and I was born in Sumter County, not in the city you know, but out on the farm and I was raised up there. I lived around Sumter until I was about ten years old when Uncle Gus built them a house. My father didn't inherit an acre of land. His mother died when he was born and he was the only child of hers."


O - "Wait a minute, Let me tell this on you then, I'm going to let you all talk. I think she had a crush on your grandad." [Ernest SScarborough]


J - "Huh? Ernest ?"


O - "Didn't you have a crush on Ernest. Weren't you and Ernest kinda........."


J - "Well, I... No, not that way, special friends, good friends."


O - "You weren't sweet on each other?"


J - "Enough of this now. What were we talking about ?"


O - "Handford Augustus." [Scarborough]


J - "Well now, Uncle Gus came here. I married my husband as I said in 1910, and moved my [church] membership here. At that time I was trying to teach in the neighborhood, but, at my first school I taught up in the county at Newberry. In Newberry it was the 14th of July to be exact, I went up to Newberry to celebrate its 80th, was it the 80th, No the 74th child I taught to read. She's still living but is feebler than I am now. Cause I got a message from them the other day. Thats where I lived when I went up there to try to teach. And you see- laughter-- Ol Uncle Gus, when I came here, I soon found out and joined the church there and started going to church of course, every Sunday. That was a must you know. We always knew what we was going to do on Sunday morning. For years we were able to get up and eat breakfast., we were going to church. There's the family Bible oer there that's father's we called it. I'm the only one left of my generation you know, and so I have the family Bible. We called it Father's Sunday Bible because it was so big ,you know. He would read smaller ones during the week but on Sunday, he'd get that big Bible. If it was good weather, and sit out on the front porch in a big ol' home made chair, he made himself with a cowhide bottom. He would sit there, and everybody that passed the road in front of the house, he would speak to them and invite them in. And of course after the way Uncle Gus was, everybody was welcome--- unless it was a Yankee.. laugh-- You know, I told you one night, a Yankee, he was, I dont know how he happened to be in this area buthe was riding, you know, a horse. Everybody had big horses, you know. Any way, he got lost. He got over there somewhere and of course where Uncle Gus lived back in that area. Do you know where the place is Harold? Where Uncle Gus was raised, lived.

O - "I'm not sure I do."


J - "You know who his Wife was a Wheeler. We called her Aunt Patty. Well, this man, it was a storm coming up and he hailed . Uncle Gus went out to see who was there. And he saw he had on a blue coat and he told him, he said, Well, sir, you're welcome to come in, but drop that coat in the yard. I remember one time, he was so devoted to Bethany Church, if Uncle Gus had seen the day when he didn't have but 25 cents and anything came up in Bethany that needed it, they had it. That was how dedicated he was,


O -"Was he very soft spoken, soft spoke or was he...."


J - "No, he was very clear spoken and very, very easy to understand because he made it known exactly what he thought and felt and all aabout it. There was no temper to decieve. None. His life was an open book. It stood itself. He was a person that anybody thats got any judgement or sane and having spent time on Bull Street would admire him. You know the country churches got along and gave their preachers what ever they could but it would pay them off in the fall. They was as Uncle Gus told them an agricultural people."


O - "Was he educated in his speech?"


J - "You couldn't tell the difference, Well, he sounded that way, he was just like my daddy, he went to school where he could."


O - "Would you call your father and the way he growed up like he was from a geltleman farmer?"


J - "Just like that in fact father always said and Uncle Gus, I heard him ssay it too. An honest man is noblest work of God. And you see every time they would tell you anything they would quote a scripture to prove it. When we sat out to eat our meals at the big long table with the richest cloth . You know families ate together, father would sit at the head and mother at the foot, that's the way Uncle Gus did and he would say the grace and passed the food. Well when he pasts it to you, yu either would say thank you and help your self, and pass it onor if you didn't care for it, you would say no thank you, But you did not comment. Their's a quote in the Bible about that . Uncle Gus reminded me so much about my daddy i just about worshiped him . He said quote the Bible. He would sit before you ask him no question for consience things."


O - "Thats a good point."


J - "That's right it's in the Bible"


O - "Well I wonder if that is where I got that from because my father would always say if you don't care

for it, Say I don't care for any thank you, you don't make comments."


J - "No comments, No comments"


O -"And thats the way I'm teaching my boys too."


J - "Well that's the bway because Uncle Gus said and Father always said that the place for a child to learn

to behave is at home. That way when they go to school."


O - "They already know how to behave."


O - "Miss Jessie knows exactly what she is talking about too. Don't you ever forget that."


J - "Yes, I told you Uncle Gus, I love the ground he walks on. Because you see when I came here I was away from my daddy, but in a week I loved him"


O - "My mother and her were good as friends as I recon as it ever were."


J - "Oh, yea, now then Lease and she was the first young woman that I met in this area."


O " He looks like my father."


J "He does?"


O - "My father and Herald are first cousins."


J - "Yes , thats right. Yea he looks like him. Well now you know all the time that Uncle Gus had his daughter's you see."


O - "One thing they are trying to do now is come down here to put them all together again.. figure out who is who."


J - "I tell you ! The first one that I knew and the oldest that was living at that time was Miss Edna and she married a DuBose and Miss Nina married the preacher. He was preaching here when I came here."


O - "That's right, Richard Wilder."


J - "And Elise married a Mister Nixon"


O - "Thats right."


J - "And there were two daughters that died with out ever marrying."


O - "Yes ,Lalla Rooke and Madge."


J - "Yea, they are burried at Bethany."


O - "We saw their tombstones."


J - "Uncle Gus admitted to me he never disgusted it and that him and Aunt Patty, ...Aunt Patty didn't talk a great deal, but she was all sweet and good and smart. Well he said that they had typhoid fever. In those day's it had become an epidemic, you know, and didn't know anything to do. So many people died. Lots in Savannah, that was before I finished school. Ole Miles counts the man of the living. My dad liked to get turned out of church account of that, and he was a deacon. He was a deacon. When he came down..Harold, my father moved down here to over see the Chain planttion and a..of course I was grown then, I was teaching and our mother never did like it because they had a little home you know,and had it paid for and she didn't want to leave , and she never did go anywhere down here at all, but He would go to church and he met Uncle Gus and they just ...bang.....they got together. And they compared notes you know, on what they gone through and everything. Uncle Gus was right badly wounded, it troubled him all his life. My father, he was shot three times, but they were superficial wounds, they didn't strikw a bone and he said he never came out of any battle with a head shot off."


O - "If he would have died we wouldn't be here."


J - "And do you know who nursed him while he was hurt? Mister Carter."


O - "Do you know where Mister Carter, was he from around here?"


J - "No, well he was from over near Lamar, but they were in the same company. I reckon how and you know the Confederate Veterans got back they did not have much do with and I told what he used with Uncle Gus, I listened to father and Uncle Gus talk all often you know, and heard them, but going back to your kin folks there, I don't know is there any of them living now , is there? Miss Nina and all gone."


O - "All gone."


J - "Well Miss Nina of course I saw her more then any and Elease of course. Mister Wilder was preaching here and he preached here right on for a long time. I don't know exactly who followed him. We had two Mitchels and we had one was living in Misselmen (?) and preached at the Baptist Church there and filled in for us, you see. Beeing a country church, time the membership wasn't big. One time there were having a church meeting and I was in there but I was never taking part in it. Because I also growed up with the old fashion idea that a woman should keep her mouth closed in church."


O - "They still say that."


J - "Well I tell you right now......."


O - "Not as bad as they did then."


J - "And so they were talking about what they were doing and didn't do. They were giving a report, you know, from the convention about what the different churches had done. And Bethany wasn't mentioned. Uncle Gus got so upset when the man got through, I will never forget it. He stood up and he stood up just as straight as he said... Well sir, he said, What have you there about Bethany, ---Where is that?, the man said----He knew, you see, we had done our part and my husband he know there wasn't anything that would scare him I don't think. This fellow Mitchell that was preaching there. I never forget what happened on Sunday. He was promoted the conferences once a week, I talked it around , he had come around from a long distance. He was a young fellow and so he got one Sunday, Out of a clear blue sky, told them that this was his last Sunday, He hadn't told that he would resign , you know and nothing. So every body was just - didn't know what to say or what to do and it happened that , I don't know how it happened that Uncle Gus did not make a single remark, He just look on and I can tell, you know, He was just out done with it; he felt like it was very rude you know to do this with preacher Mitchell and so Monday morning it was raining, I never will forget it. and the old house was standing then, this is the fourth house built on this site, but the house that my husband brought me to was burned in 1938 and that house was still standing and he came to the front door and I was here, of course, Daddy was out some where but it was raining a light rain and I opened the door and said, Why, Uncle Gus come in, Outside it is raining, He says -- Oh you women don't want the floor to get all splotched up and ground up, he said, I said, You come on in; the floor is not too good for you ,,, come right on in.. I know that something was about to talk about something about the church, so I insisted he got all in. He said, Where is Charlie? I said, He is out there, I'll call him, he was out about the barn somewhere. I called him in before he got here he was telling me. He said, Jessie, he said, that Mitchell drat his skin, he said, raised up here in cotton mill section and used to getting their money once a week. We told him when he came here that we were agricultural people, and we do the best we could. But his man would come in the floor and he expedited and came and then walk off without saying a word, he has got a bit of manners problem. I said, Sir! and he sure hastened. Of course I agreed with him. So he came in and they talked it over, but there was nothing they could do, I think they finely paid him up to the time he was there, but and there was a Mister Wilder and to us was so kind and sweet and good . There was a young lady in the church that made a very bad mistake and it was brought up, you know, they use to bring things up in the Church to turn you out about and things like that they didn't do it like they do now. They brought things up and have a regular trial.


O - "Talk about Mister Wilder, his daughter is the only living child, she is over in Darlington in a home now, and her husband is still living if you hear him or not, He is preaching too, you know."


J - "But now, have I told you anything that would be any help, You just ask me the question you want to know."


O - "Was Gus a tall fellow, Was he as big as Harold ?"


J - "He was as tall as Harold, but he wasn't a great big man. He was well build, He was a person that who had lived right and he was not puffed up looking at it all."


O - "Did he have a beard all the time?"


J - "Well no, not much, he had a little beard around but he did not have a big beard,no. He was neet and clean and everything like that, and smart and just simply a wonderful person. You can have every reason in the world , honey, to be proud of him. And your family all the way of course Aunt Patty was as fine as she can be, but she was more quiet yu know and more reserved."


O - "Did he ever mentioned that he was sent off to school any place?"


J - "No, I never heard him say that he did, but he know the dictionary, he knew what words meant and my daddy was the same way, honey. My mother used to laugh about his name was William and they called him Billy and she use to laugh and tell him Billy, you got everybody to see you. You know what my dad used to say to Harold about that he said when he was in the army, I know I used to listen. Little pitchers have big ears.. When the older people were talking, I was listening, and had a preacher that stayed with us a a long time. One of his daughters is coming out here Monday. Come one night to see me."


O - "We have to go, we have a long way to go home. Can she take your picture?"


O - "Do you belong to the daughters of the Confederacy?"


J - "Yes sir; and the Revolunary people to. You know Karl thinks so much of you , were you in the same class?"


O -"No."


J - "I guess he is older then you, he was born 13 August 1913 on Friday."


O - "He is two years older then me."


J - "You know he was lazy in high school and late finishing, he didn't love school much, Neither one of my boys love school."


O - "I wasn't too crazy about school myself."


J - "I saw you the program up there Harold, want to say this to you before you leave. I want you to give your wife my special love and tell her to come see me. I believe she is a fine lady."


O - "She would have come today but they had a thing in Camden with the boy and his wife, that and the grandchildren."


J - "When have you seen Tom?"


O - "About a week ago."


J - "He seemed like you; he used to be interested in the family."


O - "He still is."


J - "Well I tell you , I repeat that over and over darling, you have every reason to be proud."


O - "I thank you."


J - "I tell you what this little house belongs to God, I'm just a keeper here."


Miss Jessy passed away shortly after this interview.

I think somehow, that she is related to me.. but so far havent found out how... The Dickersons and

/or Wheelers in that area should be able to give you better information on her.


Miss Jessy's Words

My father told me that if there had been an 11th Commandment, It would have been : Mind your own Affairs". I was brought up on pretty strict philosophy and I'm still livin' by it. We knew where we were going on Sunday if we were able to get up and get breakfast, To Church. On Sunday afternoon the whole parlor would be full of people.


My Mother had some education because her people had some acreage, but, my father had only what he could get himself from books, We lived on what we could grow.


My father was shot two times, but, they were flesh wounds and did not keep him out. He volunteered after they fired on Fort Sumter because he did not want to be conscripted. He loved the South. You see the people that don't know or didn't try to know, didn't know their history. They blamed all of that terrible conflict on slavery. Most of the men that fought in the battles owned no slaves. My father was an abolixshonist. His mother died when he was born and he was brought up by his grandmother who was a very pious woman. She was a land holder but, she was not a wealthy woman. Grandmother had no one at her farm, so she went to the market and bought four slaves and when she got them to her farm, she told them that they were free. She asked them if they would stay and help her with her farm and told them that they would receive a monthly wage. And they stayed. They had no where to go noway.

Two of them stayed right along so that when I was growing up I grew up with the descendents of "Uncle George and Aunt Betsy." They told Grandmother that she was the best friend they ever had. So Uncle George was there when my daddy came home from prison at the end of the war.

He was in prison in Maryland. He walked back from Pt. Lookout Maryland. Do you know anything about that place ? Well it was the awfulest prison in the country at that time. I don't know if it is still used as a place of incarceration. Well, my father said that he was arrested on the line between Tennessee and North Carolina. They had a little skirmish there, not a big battle. There was just a major with them as their leader. He had made a pact, as you know that is an unbreakable promise, with a friend that had the same given name and had been reared by his grandmother. My father said that his friend had this fine gold watch that was a family heirloom, that he kept with him all the time. He said that they had been such good friends, that they promised one another that they would seek each other out if either one of them had fallen in battle and that the other William would see that the gold watch was retrieved and sent to his home. Well in battle my father said that you just keep your head down and aim and fire when you are ordered to and you didn' know what happened until the end when you went back in for roll call.

So when roll was called Billy did't answer so he knew that he was either wounded or dead. So my Father went to the Major and asked him if he could go back to look for Billy. The Major said oh no, because you see it was against military regulations to go into enemy territory unless you were in battle. The Major said, Boy you don't know what you are asking for. And my father said, Yes, I do know what I'm asking for and if you'll bring a bible, I'll put my hand on it and I'll swear that if I don't come back that I will be lost in action, but, if I do come back no one but, you and the Almighty Father in Heaven will know that I've done this.

Well the Major let him go and ,my father, he found Billy and he was dead and he laid down his rifle thinking that he could lay him across his shoulder and carry him back and bury him. Well , he laid down his rifle and looked up and there were five or six Yankees swooped up out of the bushes and one had his gun leveled right at him.. Father said, Well, why don't you go ahead and pull, it is just like a Blankety blank Yankee to shoot an unarmed man. You just go ahead and be a Yankee.


But there is always a gentleman in the crowd, and the officer said..Leave him alone, the boys got grit and we'll take him in. My father said that it wasn't bravery on his part (that he mouthed off to the Yankees) he just decided that he would rather be dead than be in prison. So they took him away and sent him to Pt .Lookout Maryland.

He told me that of course he was just a prisoner, but, he felt that 3,000 men died there of neglect. There were many who were sick and they gave them very little to eat. And didn't get a bath or a shave the whole time he was there.


He was there from 15th of October until Lee laid down his sword at Appromatix Court House. He walked all the way home, to Sumter County, and begged and got what he could. Some where in North Carolina an old man gave him a horse that he could not feed, but the horse was not able to carry him so he walked as well as he could. He said that peole were very kind to him, but , that he would not offend anyone because he was so very dirty and he was a scrupulous man about his person and clothing.


When he finally reached home, he stood well away from the house in a little copse of trees, that he showed me many times afterwards, and shouted for Uncle George, the old family retainer. When Uncle George saw him he said. Lord have mercy, Is that Billy? You can't come into Miss Martha's house like that. Well Uncle George brought the wash pot, built a fire, burnt his clothes and shaved him all over. From the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. There was nothing else that could be done.


It took him quite sometime to recover, as it did all the soldiers coming back. And you know the South suffered more terribly during the Reconstruction than they ever did during the war.


Miss Jessy could talk for hours about her father, and the stories he told her of the great conflict between North and South. She told me that she talked so much to some visitors one day that she prayed to God that night that he teach her to keep her mouth shut. The next day she woke up with Laryngitis....

This page was uploaded to the Lee County, SCGenWeb site on June 9, 2000

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