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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Ethelene McCabe Allen, May 21, 2006. Interview C-0314. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Paternal grandfather and father's experiences growing up

Allen discusses her paternal grandfather and her father. Like Allen's mother, Allen's father lost his father at a young age and spent most of his adolescence living with and working with his uncle. Shortly before Allen's father came of age, his uncle left town and ran away with the money his brother had left for his children. By that time, Allen's father had begun to work as a tenant farmer, which he continued to do following his marriage and while raising his family.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Ethelene McCabe Allen, May 21, 2006. Interview C-0314. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

BARBARA C. ALLEN:
What did your father remember of him or did he ever talk about him? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: He didn't talk about him. He didn't talk about his dad. I never heard him talk about his dad or his uncle. He lived in their home but he didn't talk about it. He lived there, he lived in his uncle's home until he was - I don't know, I don't know what. I know he was a bachelor and staying by himself for awhile before he married. He was I believe twenty-two when he married Mama. And maybe he had been, course it could have been only a year, he could have moved into his own place when he turned twenty-one, I don't know.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
Did he have anything to say about the relatives who raised him? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: Oh, he liked his Aunt Mattie, his uncle's - and apparently he thought a lot of his uncle, but his uncle had had a relationship with a younger woman and left.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
Tell that story. Now the uncle, what did he do? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: Well, he farmed, but he had a sawmill business too and daddy worked at his sawmill part of the time. Daddy was really good with figures, math, and he could - he could tally lumber, is what they called it, I believe, I believe that's what he called it, tally the lumber in his head, he didn't have to use a paper and pencil. He could, when, how many board feet they had or whatever, he could do it in his head, he was good at math and he worked at his dad - his uncle's sawmill some, farming and tending crops and working at the sawmill. They were a lot of small sawmills at that time and if you had acreage, land to put it on, you maybe had a small sawmill on the place, for your own lumber and do any for custom sawing for other people.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
But the uncle left at some point. ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: He left just before daddy turned twenty-one. And he was guardian of their - he - they were it must have been life insurance money that his dad left him when he died.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
Your dad's dad left. ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: And yeah, and I think he was associated - maybe he could have sold insurance, I don't know, but there was something about the Woodmen of the World insurance and I don't know if that's what kind he had that he left daddy. I know daddy had that kind of insurance at one time, Woodmen of the World. I think it's called Foresters now, they changed their name, I'm not sure.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
It's not the same as Independent Order of Foresters, is it? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: I'm not sure if they changed their Woodmen of the World - whether they changed their or what it is, but some insurance company and it was just a few thousand dollars each that was left to them, but.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
Now how many children were there? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: There were four children.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
And your dad was which number? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: He was number two.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
Number two. ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: His brother was older, the oldest, and I think he was a couple of years older than daddy and then Roxie was - and then Maggie, and there was maybe two or three years difference between each child.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
So your paternal grandfather seems to have left an insurance policy and his brother was placed as guardian of that?. ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: Yeah, the money. They got their money.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
And the children would have gotten their money when they turned twenty-one? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: Yeah.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
Did the older boy ever get anything? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: I think he did. I think he got his and I think Aunt Roxie got hers. I don't remember about Maggie. I don't remember if she was even on the policy. She might not have been cause she was very young. He might not even have changed, you know, put her on the policy, I don't know. But anyway the three older ones were named on it. Patricia's done some research, but he used the money and he bought land he bought a lot of land. He would borrow the money and pay interest on it. He would lend it out and collect interest on it. There are records of that.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
Who was doing this? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: The guardian, his uncle, so he apparently was somewhat of a businessman, but then when he decided he would leave with the younger woman, he mortgaged everything and took everything he could and left.