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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Annie Mack Barbee, May 28, 1979. Interview H-0190. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Memories of the Miller family farm

Barbee describes the family farm, explaining the floor plan to the farmhouse and sharing stories of how ownership passed through the family.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Annie Mack Barbee, May 28, 1979. Interview H-0190. 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

ANNIE MACK BARBEE:
Well, as near as I can remember, they owned that whole area. I don't know whether you go by acres of land—surrounding the house. I can see that old house now. And he could have had more. Yes, wait a minute. I can't tell you how they acquired the land, because when your grandmother came to Durham, her brother—they called Richard Miller—bought her part out from the home place and gave her some money. She was getting ready to come here to your granddaddy. So it must have been quite a lot of land—for all the children to have a part in it. Every one of 'em had a part in it. And I think he sold his part out of it, to grandma. Anyway, he gave her some money. I don't know how that worked. And then Uncle Richard—you see when granddaddy died, from what I can understand—when grandfather died, he was what you called, if Wash had left Willie executive, then the executive—is that what the word for it?
BEVERLY JONES:
Yeah.
ANNIE MACK BARBEE:
Over the property although Richard was the executive over the entire thing. And see by him being the oldest son, they helped grandmomma carry on. And somehow or another they fell out, they couldn't make it. And he took his part and went and built him a store beyond where she lived. And that's where he was living when he married. When he married after grandma died, he married again, then he went back to the home place. I don't know how he got back there, I don't whether he was in business or what. But that's where he died at, the home. place. So his son now owns the home place. It's a kind of tangled up. I was a child, I didn't know too much about it. But you know when you put one child over something that they don't mean to do right, they'll mess up. You have to be careful, who you put over it. But it must've been quite a bit, 'cause granddaddy figured grandmomma couldn't handle it so he fixed it up so that if he died Uncle Richard could help her carry on. And so, somehow or another, along the line they couldn't make it. So she just went downtown and gave him his part and he just went on about his business. But I remember my mother, she was supposed to be coming to Durham the next day. And he met her beyond the fence and when she came back she had a whole lot of money rolled up in her hand. I've never known why he gave her that money. She said, I saw your uncle. I said, I was looking right at you when you saw your uncle. She said he gave me some money. I said for what. She didn't say nothing, she just shook her head. And she went on in the house and went into her room there and put it in a pocketbook. But she still didn't say nothing to grandma. And I don't know what that was about up until the day—but I know I saw her 'cause I was standing behind her. She went right on down to the fence. He whistled for her and she went over there and he gave her a whole lot of money. How much it was I don't know. To this day I don't know why he gave her that. But her mother never did know it. You know, that was unknowned to her 'cause I think they fell out for some reason or another, they fell out. To tell you the truth, I've never know the whole story of why they fell out, but they fell out. And so she just took it in her hand and just told him he could get his part and he went on about his business. But it was a large house, very large. Along then, they'd have the porch here, go all the way around the house. Something like these old—the ranch houses are something like 'em now. Only thing the ranch houses are not up. The ranch houses—you know the ranch houses. Start here with a porch and go all the way around. You'd walk from the living room—from her bedroom, all the way down, clean down a long lane, to the kitchen. Large house. But it wasn't a two story. Compared to the houses now, I wouldn't have it, the way it was built, you know.
BEVERLY JONES:
But it seems beautiful.
ANNIE MACK BARBEE:
Yeah. It was a nice, very nice house. With rooms going to bed. You'd never go outdoors—if you come from her bedroom, by the living room. You start—here's her bedroom, come right on out down the long lane. And you'd walk, and you'd walk. Then you'd get to the kitchen. And then, because when you go indoors you could—yeah, the kitchen, dining room, bedroom, bedroom, bedroom—I'm trying to see if you had to go outdoors to get into—yeah, that's why I said I wouldn't have it. Each time you go in a room, you've got to go on this porch. You see, you couldn't go through. Now I'm seeing it now, why you couldn't go through, but you're still on the porch, you're not outdoors. Go in the kitchen. But you could go from the kitchen to the dining room—that's the only two rooms connected. You go in the kitchen and bring the food from the kitchen to the dining room. But if you go in the bedroom, you've got to go around that lane, go in the door, go out on the porch, and go in the door. That's the way it was built. No I wouldn't have it in this day and time.
BEVERLY JONES:
Let's see, what year are we probably talking about. What, nineteen hundreds?
ANNIE MACK BARBEE:
Yup. Nineteen hundreds. My father came here in '22, he said. I can't remember the year he came here. It must've been 1900.
BEVERLY JONES:
Okay, so that means that everybody was brought up on the farm.
ANNIE MACK BARBEE:
Yeah.
BEVERLY JONES:
And I think, in granddaddy's interview, the farm was not owned by the family, but it was rented from a landlord.
ANNIE MACK BARBEE:
Well now, when he died he owned the house.
BEVERLY JONES:
Who was that, granddaddy? I didn't know that.
ANNIE MACK BARBEE:
Probably didn't go into the details about that. He can't remember. That's why I have to—I'm glad you… Property from this old man, Mr. Dick Tilson, for years and years. Granddaddy did—my grandfather. Well he fixes up in his will—he didn't die but he gave it to him. He gave him enough money to build him a full room house with about a acre and a half of land. That's where we went to when we left here. He owned his home in the end, he did. This old white man gave him some money and he built a four room house and he had a acre and a half of land around the house. 'Cause when we went down there—father and I—we went when the house was about torn down. In the end he really owned his own house. That's where we went to when we left here. That house—he owned that—that was his house.