Thursday, January 16, 2014

#52ancestors - Albert Josiah Hill - Cotton Picking Days

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Ancestor #3
Amy Johnson Crow has posted a challenge on her blog "No Story Too Small".



Cotton Sharecropper

Albert and Minnie Williams Hill
My grandfather died before I was born. 
The only "memories" I have of him are the memories my Mother and other family members shared with me combined with numerous records.

Grandpa was a man of many names and had many children. His birth name was Albert Josiah Hill. Only one record exists using his middle name Josiah but spelled "Josia". No records exist using his first name Albert.

He was known as Joe E. Hill from the time he was very young. We are not sure how he was tagged with that nickname but that was the name he used during his lifetime. It's even listed that way on his death certificate.

Louisa Barefield Hill, Joe Hill,
Minnie Williams Hill

Albert Josiah Hill is the son of William (Doc) Hill and Louisa Elizabeth (Lizzie) Barefield. He was born March 22, 1876 in Milam County, Texas. Grandpa followed in his father's steps and became a farmer. His specialty was cotton sharecropping.

Grandpa first married Laura Maude Stokes on July 28, 1896.  They had one son together and named him Luie Benjamin Hill. Laura died either giving birth to a child or right afterwards. That child did not live. I have seen a photo of Laura and wish I had copy to add to this post. She was a very beautiful woman.

Grandpa then married my Grandmother - Minnie Lee Williams on April 11, 1907 in Falls County, Texas. They had a few children - thirteen to be exact.

 Mildred Venuar Hill -  J. D. Winford Hill - Tulsa Lee Hill - Gladys Oline Hill -  Juanita Hill  - Genevieve Hill -  Kathryn Inez Hill -  Joe Edward Hill -  Walter Eugene Hill - Christine Hill -  Frederick Hill - Pauline Hill (my mother), and Johnnie Faye Hill.

Grandpa had a total of fourteen children.

HOW IN THE WORLD DID HE FEED THAT MANY PEOPLE? He sharecropped cotton. Large landholders (generally bankers, merchants, men with money) would hire sharecroppers to farm their the land. There were generally two types of sharecropping agreements:

1) Half-and-half: Grandpa would would furnish the necessary items; seeds, fertilizer, equipment, etc. In this agreement Grandpa would receive half of the profit for the season.
2) The land owner would furnish the necessary items and Grandpa would get one-third of the profit for the season.

The profit varied for Grandpa. A good season meant decent pay. A bad season meant money had to borrowed to get through the next season. The weather could have a huge impact on the profit or loss.

Once the crop was picked it was taken to the cotton gin where the cotton and seed were separated. The seed was as valuable as the cotton because without the seed there would be no crop the next year.

It was a family event. The entire family picked cotton at one time or another.

While on vacation one year my Dad stopped at a cotton field. He asked the owner if it would be alright for me and my sister to pick one cotton. I have to tell you it really hurts your fingers.

Every year he would take the kids to town and give a coin to each one. The coin was to be spent on a Mother's Day gift. When Fall rolled around they went to town for shoes. Each child received one pair of new shoes to wear to school and church. They had to take good care of their shoes because there would be no more until the next Fall. Mama said if their shoes wore out or they outgrew them, they had wear hand-me-down shoes or go barefoot.

Grandpa normally spoke in a low voice but my cousin said Grandpa could speak up when necessary. On one or more occasions Grandpa would wake the boys and they would go back to sleep. Grandpa would go to the bedroom door a second time and once again tell them to get up but this time he would have a razor strap in his hand.  Feet would hit the floor! They knew he meant business. Grandpa had too many kids to stand around and argue with them about getting out of bed.

You know with that many kids there had to be something going on all the time. Mama was involved in one of those situations. She said one of their older brothers was the first in the family to own a car. It was a Model T. The boys were all working in the fields with Grandpa. Mama and her sister Juanita were helping Grandma with chores around the house. Mama and Juanita decided to try to drive their brother's car with Juanita behind the wheel and Mama in the passenger seat. The car was parked in front of a fence. Juanita forgot to put it in reverse and rammed into the fence. Needless to say Mama and Juanita were in hot water over that one.

Grandpa spent his life working hard and providing for his family. Grandpa had a major heart attack on February 5, 1942. He was missed by his family, friends, and neighbors. I wish I had known him.

Albert Josiah Hill
aka Joe E. Hill


At least three different people completed his death certificate. None of it was completed by a family member. I feel certain the people completing the certificate thought they knew the answers. Grandma personally knew his parents and their names so she didn't give the information as shown on the certificate.

Beam me up Cathy --(back to top)

1 comment:

  1. This is great! You do a good job at keeping up with the family history and sharing it! Thank you!