Maggie Wilkerson

This collection began with the Kentucky Oral History Commission’s effort to establish oral history programs in each of the state’s 120 counties. County libraries worked with local volunteers to collect interviews. Since 1987, county oral histories have been generated primarily by recipients of technical assistance grants from the commission that provide training and equipment to volunteer interviewers. Interviews donated by independent researchers are also included. Original collection held at Kentucky Oral History Commission/Kentucky Historical Society.  Access copies available at Lincoln County Public Library. Authorization must by granted by KHS to use or publish by any means the archival material to which the Society holds copyright.

 

LINCOLN COUNTY ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW 

MAGGIE WILKERSON INTERVIEWED BY LIBBY FRAAS  

AND FLORENCE PETTUS EMBRY 

June 22, 1978

Ms. Fraas: ….Lincoln County Kentucky, by Libby Fraas with the Kentucky Oral History Commission on June 22, 1978, approximately 2:00 in the afternoon. 

(tape goes off, then back on) 

Ms. Fraas: Maggie, can you tell me where you were born and where you were raised up? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Right here, in…right here. 

Ms. Fraas: In Lincoln County? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Yes’m, I was. 

Ms. Fraas: Do you remember when you were born? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: 1890. 

Ms. Fraas: 1890? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: I’d have to count it back.  I don’t know how old that’d make me. 

Ms. Fraas: What were your parents…who were your parents? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Mattie Smith and John Penman.  Those are…Mattie Penman after she married.  She was Smith when she married. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes).  Were you born in Stanford? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Right here. 

Ms. Fraas: Right here where we are sitting now? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Yes’m. 

Ms. Fraas: What is this called, what road is this on? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Logantown. 

Ms. Fraas: Logantown? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Yes’m. 

Ms. Fraas: What was Logantown like when you were a child? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Well, it was mostly like it is now, I suppose, from what I can remember, cause…there was more people here in Logantown when I was a child than there is now.  

Ms. Fraas: How many people, do you know? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: No, I couldn’t tell you just exactly, cause there was a lot of kids…. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Wilkerson: And older people…I couldn’t say just how many. 

(unidentified person): Where did you go to school?  (This unidentified person is Florence Pettus Embry, 2nd wife of Joe T. Embry.) 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Up here, they had the school house right up back where Mr. {  } got their barn at.  Mr. {  } bought that building. 

(unidentified person): Do you remember who your teacher was?   

Mrs. Wilkerson: Miss Florence Step and Miss Clara Lackey (sic). 

Ms. Fraas: How many children were there in school when you first went? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: I don’t know.  I couldn’t tell you. 

Ms. Fraas: Were they all in one room?  Was it a one room school? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: It was one room.  I just don’t exactly know.  It’s been so long, I couldn’t say. 

(unidentified person): Maggie, how many brothers and sisters did you have? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: There was eleven of us.  Seven girls and four boys…is that right? 

(unidentified person): That makes eleven.  How long did you go to school? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: I didn’t go no further than fifth grade, because I had to work out in the field with my daddy; get cows to the field.  There was always a crop.  About 5th grade was as far I went. 

Ms. Fraas: What kind of work did you do with your father? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Setting out tobacco, chopping out corn, first one thing then another that you do on the farm. 

Ms. Fraas: Did your brothers and sisters work in the fields also? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Ma’am? 

Ms. Fraas: Did your brothers and sisters work also? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Yes’m, we all worked. 

(unidentified person): Maggie, tell us about the church up here. 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Well, what would you want to know? 

(unidentified person): Well, what it was like when you were a child…. 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Oh…. 

(unidentified person): And how long it’s been there. 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Oh, I couldn’t tell you how long it’s been there.  I just couldn’t tell how long. 

Ms. Fraas: Was it there when you were young?  Do you remember it when you were a child? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: When I was a child, yes. 

Ms. Fraas: Do you remember any preachers? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Reverend Goodlow and my Uncle Isaiah Smith and Brother Willis Logan.  That was way back when I was small. 

(unidentified person): Well, Maggie, didn’t you all have a pretty nice choir? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Yes’m we had a pretty nice choir. 

(unidentified person): Do they still have church up there? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: They still have church, but there’s been so many out, they don’t have much choir now. 

(unidentified person): Tell us about the dinners they used to have; the basket dinners. 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Basket dinners, we had a pretty good time at the basket dinners, since I’ve been grown and remember. 

Ms. Fraas: What was a basket dinner? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Up on the church ground, up here on the church ground. 

(unidentified person): Where everybody brought things. 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Yes’m; just plate lunch, we’d have almost anything; green beans and sweet potatoes and corn pudding and things like that and sliced tomatoes, cake. 

(unidentified person): Fried chicken? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Fried chicken; yes. 

(unidentified person): You see, they made money for the church by selling the lunches. 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Yes’m. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Sell the plates…used to sell them for fifty cents, but after everything got higher, we sold them for a dollar a plate. 

(unidentified person): Did you make homemade ice cream, too? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: No, we bought the ice cream. 

(unidentified person): You did. 

Mrs. Wilkerson: And, buy a ham and have ham sandwiches and sell them ham sandwiches separate from the dinners. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Wilkerson: And, we sold pop; different kinds of pop. 

(unidentified person): Maggie, tell us about some of the people you worked for. 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Well, I worked for Ms. Joe T Embry. 

              (unidentified person): Why don’t you begin…do you remember the first people you worked for? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: First people I worked for was up here at Mr. Tom Balls (sic). 

(unidentified person): How old were you? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Old enough to cry after poppa when he took me, I was so little.  I couldn’t tell to save my life how old I was.  That was the first time I ever was away from home.  And, I didn’t stay there too long. 

(unidentified person): What did you do for Mrs. Ball? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Cleaned up and done a little cooking, what I knowed then.  And, then, after I left there, I worked for Mr…Dr. Ammon(s) (sic) over to Lancaster, cause his wife was maimed (sic)…Ida.  I cooked for her. 

(unidentified person): Do you remember how long you worked there? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Oh, I guess I must have worked there, maybe, about…I’d say maybe about four or five years. 

(unidentified person): Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Wilkerson: I was small then, when I worked that one.  She learned me a whole lot about cooking. 

Ms. Fraas: Mrs. Ammon(s)(sic)taught you how to cook? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Huh? 

Ms. Fraas: Who taught you how to cook? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Mrs. Ida Ammon(s) (sic). 

Ms. Fraas: What kinds of things did she teach you? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Well, she learned me how to fry steaks and make gravy and yeast for light bread and light rolls.  She was awful nice. 

(unidentified person): She later became blind, didn’t she? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: I think she was blind.  Somebody said she went plum blind. 

(unidentified person): Maggie, how old were you when you married the first time? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: I think I was about twenty.  I think I was now.  I think I was twenty.  I’m forgetful now.  I have to think way back. 

(unidentified person): Do you remember where you got married? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: We got married down to Danville at Book’s sister’s house. 

(unidentified person): And, your first husband’s name was? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Booker Helm (sic). 

Ms. Fraas: What did your husband do? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Plaster work.  This last time, I was married to Lewis Wilkerson (sic). I was married right here in this house. 

Ms. Fraas: Who married you? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: My Uncle Isaiah Smith. 

(unidentified person): Do you remember what year that was, Maggie? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: No, ma’am, I don’t; I just didn’t keep up with it.  I just don’t know. 

(unidentified person): Now who else did you work for?  I know you worked for a lot of people. 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Yes’m.  I worked for Miss Gabbard.  I don’t know whether you remember Miss Gabbard used to run the store up here or not.  I used to work for her, and I worked for, oh, Mr. Hugh Hamby (sic). 

(unidentified person): Did you work for the Hubbles any? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: No, my sister worked for the Hubbles.  I had two sisters that worked for them. 

(unidentified person): Well, how long did you live in Danville? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: After I married?  I don’t know.  I don’t know how long I lived in Danville.  Went back and forth and then bought a place up here across the field there, and lightning struck the house and then after that, why, we come here to live.  But, my husband Book was back and forth to Danville because he’d do plaster work back and forth down there, I don’t know just how long. 

(unidentified person): Book got so he couldn’t work, didn’t he? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Yes’m, bad heart, I think. 

Ms. Fraas: Did you have any children? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: No, ma’am. 

(unidentified person): Well, now, let’s see…. 

Mrs. Wilkerson: I can’t think, look like way back that away, I just, you know, a person don’t keep up with a body…just forget it. 

(unidentified person): Maggie, did you used to drive a car? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Oh, I used to live at Rolling Fork.  I forgot about that.  Yes’m, I used to drive a car.  Used to when we lived at…lived on Mr. Frank Allen’s place at Rolling Fork, and then…. 

(unidentified person): Where is Rolling Fork? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: You go way out toward Mitchellsburg and you turn off Mitchellsburg Road and you turn on the Rolling Fork Road.  I used to drive a car from down there to Stanford to a doctor. 

(unidentified person): Were you in your own home or were you on somebody’s farm? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: On the farm, yes’m.  Mr. Allen Calhoun’s farm. 

Ms. Fraas: What were the roads like back when you were…when the first cars came out, do you remember what the roads were like? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: The roads? 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Wilkerson: They’s in pretty good shape.  They’s curvy roads down in there, I know, but it seemed like the roads were pretty good. 

(unidentified person): You never did have an accident did you? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: No ma’am, I didn’t drive too much, just now and then. 

(unidentified person): Well, you haven’t driven for a good long while. 

Mrs. Wilkerson: No, I haven’t.  I think I’m too nervous to drive now.  Done got too old. 

(unidentified person): Well, Maggie, you came to work for us in 1940 something, didn’t you? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: I reckon, I can’t think of nothing.  I used to work for Miss Moore over here on the creek, used to wash for her and Ms. Catherine Lettie (sic).  I worked for Ms. Catherine Lettie (sic) when I lived on Goshen Pike, we lived on this little other place.  I moved from place to place.  But I didn’t know just exactly what…when it was I started working there, at your place. 

(unidentified person): 1940’s sometime. 

Mrs. Wilkerson: I used to ride back and forth with {   } uptown and then Mr. Joe T would pick me up. 

(unidentified person): Do you remember what you called Mr. Embry? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Mr. Joe T (laughs). 

(unidentified person): Well, I thought you referred to him as the boss too. 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Oh, yes’m.  He was a good man, him and you too.  You did me right.  You all were good, nice, good people, JoAnn (Joan Embry), all of Mr. Joe T’s folks and your folks, it seemed like home to me. 

(unidentified person): Well, Mr. Embry’s mother used to help you decide what to cook and all, didn’t she? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Yes’m, and your mother, she was there, Ms. Pettus.  I often think about her.  I was studying about her when I was cooking some greens here the other day, I was thinking about her.  You know, you used to go out and pick greens and have greens for dinner.  She was a good woman. 

(unidentified person): What do you remember about Mr. Embry’s mother? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Well, she was nice and everything.  She would show me too and tell me about things to cook and I’d wash for her and she’d pick out clothes and things that needed to be washed.  [ ] 

Ms. Fraas: It’s a lot easier to wash clothes now, isn’t it? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Ma’am? 

Ms. Fraas: It’s a lot easier now washing clothes, isn’t it? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: I say…. 

Ms. Fraas: It’s a lot easier to wash clothes now, isn’t it? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Oh, yes’m. 

Ms. Fraas: How did you wash clothes back when you first started working? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Washed on a washboard. 

Ms. Fraas: Washboard? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Yes ma’am, and that’s the way we did here too until we got a washer. 

(unidentified person): Maggie, didn’t you tell me that when you first went to work at Mr. Ball’s, that in order to reach the washboard, you had to stand on something? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Stand on a lard can.  Oh, we had a time trying to wash.  I have a time now trying to wash, cause I ain’t got no washer.  My old washer broke down.  I have to get Mattie Mae to wash for me, my sister. 

(unidentified person): Maggie, how long has it been since Lewis died? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: I don’t even know that.  I just keep…didn’t keep up with it.  I just don’t know.  I’d expect he’s been dead around ten years, don’t you think? 

(unidentified person): I’d imagine, uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Time flies; been about ten or eleven years.  I just don’t keep up with things.  It’s kind of hard to…. 

(unidentified person): Have you got it written down somewhere? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: I didn’t…no’m, I didn’t have it written down.  Some of ’em had it written down, I forgot now who had written it down. 

(unidentified person): Who did you like to work for the best? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Ma’am? 

(unidentified person): Who did you like to work for the best, or is that a bad question? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: It’s a pretty hard question, because most places I worked seemed like it was awful nice.  And, Mr. Powell, I used to work for him.  I forgot that. 

Ms. Fraas: Who’s Mr. Powell? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: What is his first name, do you know? 

(unidentified person): R.M. Powell; they lived over on Hubble Road. 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Yes’m, yes’m, they lived over on Hubble Road then when I worked for them. 

(unidentified person): What did you do there, Maggie? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: I did cooking and cleaning up and tending to Mae [ ] (Mary Cromwell Powell, “Crummie”) and Josh (Powell). 

(unidentified person): Josh lives in Atlanta now.   

Mrs. Wilkerson: He do? 

(unidentified person): And, he sings the National Anthem at some of the soccer games. 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Well. 

(unidentified person): Some of the ice hockey games, I believe. 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Yes’m; Mr. Powell and Mrs. Powell, they was awful nice.  She would go to the club meetings and leave me there to take care of Mae [ ] (Mary Cromwell) and Josh.  Real nice.  How’s Mrs. Powell getting along now? 

(unidentified person): Pretty good. 

(tape goes off and then back on) [ ] 

(unidentified person): The depression came after that, Maggie.  The depression was along in the 30’s. 

Mrs. Wilkerson: I didn’t know how long it had been. 

Ms. Fraas: You had to quit school to go to work? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Yes, ma’am. 

Ms. Fraas: Did you want to stay in school? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Yea’m, I wanted to.  The teacher used to get after my daddy, but he didn’t have nobody to help him and he wasn’t too well, and so we just had to go help him, to have something to live on. 

Ms. Fraas: What did you learn in school?  What kinds of books did you read in school? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Well, I remember I had spelling…spelling and reading.  I wasn’t much on spelling and reading, I tell you. 

Ms. Fraas: (laughs) 

Mrs. Wilkerson: And, some geography.  I remember that.  First one book, then another. 

(unidentified person): Did you like arithmetic? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: No’m; that’s the reason I don’t know nothing about it now.  I thought arithmetic was the hardest thing for me, and reading, I’d ever seen. 

Ms. Fraas: Did you walk to school? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Yes, ma’am, not very far, right up the road here.  That used to be the school house, up on the corner from the church, and then they built down here just a little bit further there where the barn is back beside the [ ], and they made it a little larger. 

Ms. Fraas: Who built the school? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Ma’am? 

Ms. Fraas: Who built the school? 

Mrs. Wilkerson:Who burned it? 

Ms. Fraas: Who built it? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: I can’t remember who built it now.  I can’t remember.   

Ms. Fraas: Do you know who paid the teachers? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: No, no I do not. 

Ms. Fraas: You mentioned two teachers…. 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Miss Florence Step and Miss Claire Lackey (sic). 

Ms. Fraas: Did they teach at the same time? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Miss Florence, she taught first, I think, it was, oh, gee, and I believe Miss Claire Lackey (sic), that was another teacher we had when we was growing up.  Miss Claire Lackey (sic), she was the first teacher, I believe, and then Miss Florence Step, and did I name another, or just Miss Florence Step and Miss Claire Lackey (sic)? 

(unidentified person): Did they live out here? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: It seemed like there was another one. 

(unidentified person): Maggie, did they live out here? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: No…I don’t know what that other teacher’s name was.  No, they lived up at Stanford.  Miss Stella Jones; she was the last one that taught.  I didn’t go to her.  Some of the rest of the kids, the younger kids went to her.  But, I remember going to school with Miss Florence Step and Miss Claire Lackey (sic). 

(unidentified person): Back then, did they start school in July? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: I just can’t remember really when they would start.  I can’t remember. 

Ms. Fraas: Did you go to school in the wintertime, when there was snow on the ground, or did you stay at home? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Seem like they’d start school along in the fall or something like that, and go on up until it was cold, to school. 

Ms. Fraas: How did they keep the school building warm? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: A stove; coal stove. 

Ms. Fraas: How did your teachers get out here from Stanford? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: They’d have a car, or have somebody to pick them up, taxi, to bring them out. 

(unidentified person): Way back, Maggie, they must have come in horse and buggy. 

Mrs. Wilkerson: I can’t…let me see…seem to me like Miss Florence Step used to come in a horse and buggy.  I can’t remember how Miss Claire Lackey (sic) come.   It’s just been so far back, I just can’t remember. 

Ms. Fraas: Did you come home for lunch? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Yes’m.  So far back that way, I just can’t remember. 

Ms. Fraas: Were the other boys and girls at school from Logantown? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Yes’m. 

Ms. Fraas: Were they from around here? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Yes’m; raised around here.  There used to be a lot of kids around here.  Not much here now. 

(unidentified person): Maggie, your father and mother lived here.  Did their parents live here before them? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Uh, my mother’s daddy lived right over here above this other old house.  It’s been torn down.  My mother’s daddy; and, my father’s daddy, I can’t hardly remember him, when I was real small, I guess.  I can’t hardly remember.  I think he lived somewhere towards Danville.  {  }  I forgot. 

Ms. Fraas: What was your mother’s father’s name? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Allen Smith. 

Ms. Fraas: Allen Smith? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Yes’m. 

Ms. Fraas: Do you remember him? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Yes, I can remember him a little; and my father’s daddy (What was his name? I forgot.  Ben.  His name was Ben Penman.  That’s been so long, so far back, I might forget the names. 

(unidentified person): Do you remember your grandmother? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Lucindy, I remember, that was my mother’s step-mother, Lucindy was.  But, I don’t remember my daddy’s grandmother. (mumbles) 

Ms. Fraas: Did your grandfather ever talk about when he was a little boy?  Did he ever tell you stories? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: No…I feel like I don’t remember it. 

Ms. Fraas: What kind of work did he do; your grandfather? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: I can’t remember what kind of work he did, because we was small then. 

(unidentified person): Maggie, did they… 

Mrs. Wilkerson: I just can’t remember. 

(unidentified person): Did they ever talk about slave times? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: No, I can’t remember.  They might have, but it’s been so far back, I just can’t remember. 

Ms. Fraas: Your Uncle Smith, Uncle Isaiah Smith was a preacher? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Yes’m. 

Ms. Fraas: Did he go to school somewhere? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: I can’t remember where he went to school at.  I can’t remember.  That’s too far back for me, I guess. 

Ms. Fraas: Was he a good speaker? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Yes, he was a good preacher. 

Ms. Fraas: What did your uncle look like? 

Mrs. Wilkerson:He was kind of low (sic), dark (sic), heavyset.  He was kind of heavyset.  He sure was a good preacher.  I used to hear him many a time way back down here on the river when I was small, down there praying, and the first thing you knowed, he was a preaching. 

(unidentified person): Maggie, what’s the name of the church up here? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Baptist church. 

(unidentified person): Logantown? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Yes’m, First Baptist Church of Logantown.  We had some mighty good preachers to preach up here. 

(unidentified person): How many people come on a Sunday now? 

Mrs. Wilkerson: Well, not too many, cause there’s not that many in here now like there used to.  Maybe sometime, maybe some of them would come from Perryville.  But lightning up, ain’t it. 

(interview ends tly) 

 

END OF INTERVIEW