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Note: This is taken from the WPA county history for Perry County. It was prepared by Historian Carrie T. Russell  in 1937.  She based her work on interviews she did with various citizens.  Their names in parenthesis at the ends of the paragraphs containing information attributed to them.  The wording of these documents may be offensive to some;  please remember these words were written in 1937. . . a different world from that which we know today.

The Negroes of Perry County have done much industrially, as they have finished two-thirds of the labor in this field of work. They have suffered the hardships along with the white man and shielded them in many instances. They have held the more menial jobs in the sawmills and turpentine industry, also, in the rafting businesses.

Educationally they have progressed slowly, but surely. They are awakening to the need of consolidating their schools. Perry County has three schools that run transportation busses. A goodly percent of the pupils that finish from the schools of this county go off to high schools and colleges. The teachers are principally women.

Music: They have had organized singing classes. Each community would sing against each other. Their spirituals, perfect time and rhythm is unsurpassed. They contributed greatly in this respect. Some of the white churches reserve a place each year during meetings for the colored choir to render several selections.


 Austin McSwain has been dead 8 or 10 years. He was one of the young slaves who remained with his white folks after the Negroes were set free. He owned a small farm out 1/2 mile southeast of New Augusta, he also had a home in New Augusta. He was one of the founders of Good Hope Baptist Church. He served as deacon in this church, trustee of the Sand Hill School. He butchered and sold beef to the white and colored of New Augusta for many years.

Caesar West is an old slave Negro, owns his home and a small farm, one hog and some cattle. He is located one mile south of New Augusta. He was one of the founders and supporters of the Methodist Church in New Augusta. He and his family have done exceptionally good laundry work. He is not able to work now, but is being taken care of by his family, he also gets a small relief check. (Mr. J. A. Kennedy, New Augusta)

Arthur Bivens homesteaded land in beat 5 near Janice and then he bought more land and added to it, which made him a nice farm. He is a respectable "white man's Negro". He is an expert grave digger. Some of the white people request that he dig their graves. He has developed cancer and has not been able to work for three years. He sold his place and is now living on Mr. Isom Garraway's place. Mr. Garraway takes care of him. He keeps a colored boy hired to take care of him. (Mr. Isom Garraway, Rt. 1 Brooklyn)

 Jim West, one of the oldest settlers in Beat 5, owns 160 acres of land near J(anice?). His wife is praised for her efficient cooking and laundering. They have a comfortable house and some livestock. The house and premises are well kept. They have been what would be called prosperous Negroes, but they are old now and are in bad health. (Mr. R. W. Shattles, Brooklyn)

Will Husband is one of the most outstanding Negroes in Perry County, lives 3 miles southwest of Richton. He owns his farm and raises enough produce and feed stuff to see them through the year. He owns some cattle and hogs, and has reared a large family of his own besides 7 orphan children. He has trained them to work and to be honest. He has no education but is humble and polite. All you have to do when you need help is call on him, he willingly goes. He is on the Resettlement program and always meets his obligations each year. (Mrs. W. E. Carter, New Augusta)

Lelia Haden and her husband own a pressing shop in Richton. They do fairly well for themselves. They do splendid work at a very reasonable cost. The have been in the business for 15 years. Lelia is a good cook and does baking for the prominent white families of Richton. She bakes birthday cakes, also, other baking for special occasions. (Mrs. W. E. Carter, New Augusta)

Martha Brown is a practical nurse and a midwife, and is said to be the best in the county. Records show that she reports more births than any other midwife in the county. She prepares the meals for the patient, keeps everything spotlessly clean. Martha is busy nearly all of her time and receives two dollars per day. She nurses in Laurel, Ellisville, and Hattiesburg, besides all over Perry County. Martha and her husband own their home. They are good and substantial Negroes.

Ida Hollimon is a practical nurse and midwife. She is above the average in intelligence. She works for white people altogether. She is very clean in person and keeps patient and room tidy and clean, prepares good appetizing meals. She is also sympathetic and kind. This Hollimon family is one of the most outstanding in this county.

Mattie Hall has been teaching for fifteen years. She had two years college training at Jackson, Miss. She is at present an Adult Educational leader in beat 5. She has been teaching in this capacity for 16 months. She has organized a domestic service class, striving hard to make it an outstanding class for its kind. She mentioned having taught one woman who was 50 years old to write well enough to sign her name to a check. She is affiliated with all the civic organizations of her community. Mattie and her husband are buying a home and 40 acres of land. (Mattie Hall, Route 1 Brooklyn)

 Walter White who is 52 years old and has lived in Richton 29 years, is superintendent of the Methodist Sunday School and a steward of the church, and their choir leader and his wife is an organist for the church. At one time they owned a barber shop in Richton and he was the leading barber. He owns his home and some rent property. Frances, his wife, (illegible word) for some of the most prominent white people of Richton and is classed as one of the best cooks of the town. According to failing eyesight she is not able to cook now. Walter is cooking for V. R. Walley's road camp and has been connected with road camps for two years. He is active in hunting and fishing with the white people by keeping the dogs and fishing tackles in readiness. He has in his care dogs of doctors: Hinton, C. C. Pardue, and W. Pardue of Mobile and J. E. Green of Laurel. Frances took two orphan children , a boy and a girl, and reared them. The boy is married and living in Mobile, Alabama.

Lucile DeLoach is the daughter of Ella and Anthony DeLoach. They live in Richton. She finished school at the age of 15 years, she then went to Piney Woods College and finished there in the Spring of 1936. She worked her way through school and was there as an English teacher for the year 1936-37. Now she is sending her brother to school at Piney Woods College and helping to take care of her brother's children, whom her mother has taken to rear. This summer Lucile plans to take special courses in English, but has not decided yet where she will go. (Ella DeLoach, Richton, MS)

 Sam Wade is a Methodist preacher, he has also taught school for several years. His (word is left out) was an educated woman. She was a schoolteacher also. Sam has been living on Mr. McKenzie's place as a share cropper for 11 years. He planted one acre of cotton each for himself his landlord and his Lord. Strange to say, but that acre seemed to make better cotton than those next to it. Mr. McKenzie suggested that he keep that acre and give one of the others to (word is missing) but Sam said, "No, that belongs to the lord". Mr. McKenzie stated that he made a bumper crop on this acre for several years. Sam's days of usefulness are over for he is old and has heart trouble. Mr. McKenzie is taking care of him and he also gets an old age assistance check of $4.00 per month. (Roy McKenzie)

Zollie Henry is a reliable Negro farmer. He owns his home, 2 horses, cattle. He is located 3 miles east of New Augusta. He is a trustee at the Sand Hill School and is one of the leaders in his church. He provides well for his family. (Mr. J. A. Kennedy, New Augusta, MS)

Joe Lee In 1919 Joe Lee moved to Perry County. He was soon elected trustee of the Talahala Colored School and has been a trustee up to the present time. He is also an active deacon of the Baptist church. Joe worked on public works for many years, and still when he can get work, but he is a real good farmer. He is 64 years old. (J. J. Odom, Route 2 Hattiesburg)

Isaac Thomas was born in Nuxubee County near Macon, Miss. January 15, 1889. He graduated from Macon High School 1906, spent two years in Alcorn Agricultural Mechanical College. He specialized in teacher training and agriculture in the summer schools of Tuskogee Institute and Alcorn A & M College. He had four appointments in the U. S. Railroad Mail Service. Mail weigher, 1908 and 1912, Postal Clerk 1909, Emergency Clerk 1918. He was elected principal of public school of Lucedale, Miss. in 1912-1915. Elected principal of Beaumont Public School in 1915 and has served in this capacity until present time. During this time, her directed the building of a Rosenwald School at Beaumont, and assisted in the repair and building of two churches, and organized a Black People Burial Association, serving as president of same. (Isaac Thomas, Beaumont, MS)

Page last Modified: Tuesday, 07-Nov-2017 15:36:43 EST