Pintlala Historical Association
Friday, October 18, 2019
Crossroads of Pintlala's past and future.

The PHA ORAL HISTORY PROJECTS - Bibb Fork Interviews

THE PHA ORAL HISTORY PROJECT

Last year we began interviewing residents of Bibb Fork. This historic community is nestled between the forks of the Pintlala Creek and the Pinchona Creek. Gary Burton, Margery Henry, and Alice Carter have participated in the interviews thus far. Frankly, this could not have been done without Margery. She, and her husband, Davis, have employed many who live in the Fork and friendships have been nurtured over several decades. 

Josephine Washington Johnson/Interviewed November 8, 2018

Josephine Johnson lives at 33 Windham Court and was born on Joe Hall’s place across the creek [north of Pintlala Creek]. Josephine’s father was James Washington, Jr. Her mother was Rosie D. McQueen. She grew up with two brothers and three sisters.

Josephine began her working life at age 13. She recalls working Wednesdays for the Rev. Robert Perry, an early pastor of Pintlala Baptist Church. Rev. Perry, who lived on Allendale Road in Montgomery, would pick up Josephine after school. She would iron and clean in the Perry home; then when Rev. Perry drove to Pintlala for the evening Bible Study, he brought Josephine to her home. Such an early beginning revealed in Josephine a strong work ethic which led to opportunities in her working life: Davis and Margery Henry, Mitch Henry, Mike Henry’s catering business, David and Mary Ann McLoud, Mrs. Julia Alverson, Mrs. Louise Newell and Linda Henry.

Josephine Johnson’s work experience included service at the Holiday Inn/Montgomery. She began working for the Montgomery County Board Of Education with her work concentrated at Pintlala Elementary School Lunchroom.

Josephine attended McLean School [located on McLean Road in Hope Hull] and Carver High School [in Montgomery]. The McLean School (grades 1-9) was operated by eight or nine teachers with last names: Mitchell, McKenzie, Cannon, Crawford, Porter. Principals included: Miss Stevenson, Mr. Mitchell. Josephine played on the school volleyball team. She played softball for fun, often in the field behind Mitch Henry’s place.

Recollections of working in the family garden were shared by Josephine. Okra, peas, greens, potatoes and corn were cultivated and harvested.

During the interview Josephine commented on certain houses and neighbors in Bibb Fork, among whom were Peter and Annie Mae McQueen, Bob Carter, T. J. Johnson (Galbaby), Peg [had a pegleg] Cobb and his brother William, father of Clifford Cobb. Mr. J.P. Henry, Sr. gave nicknames to all his employees.

Church life centered around the Shiloh Church [on McLean Road] and the Beulah Church [on highway 31] where she is a member. The church has celebrated its 139th anniversary. Her memories of good food and great music are strong. Needs within the Beulah were met by raising money through fish fries and rummage sales. Today used clothing is often shared with members in need.

Josephine recalled the Montgomery wreck in which she and Linda Henry were involved and from which they are still recovering. The accident occurred on August 15, 2018. The two are good friends who talk by phone daily.

Josephine Johnson brings enrichment to many who call Pintlala home.

 

Clifford Cobb/Interviewd November 30, 2018

This interview was conducted at the home of Davis and Margery Henry, 12976 U.S. Highway 31, who joined Alice Carter and Gary Burton with comments and questions. The recording begins with Clifford Cobb and Davis Henry referring to particular houses and residents in Bibb Fork.

Clifford was born in Fairfield, Jefferson County and is now 83 years old. His father was William Cobb, originally from Montgomery County, to which he returned bringing his family in the mid-1930s. Clifford had two half-sisters who lived in the Birmingham area.

Clifford began working in local cornfields and hayfields. He smiled when he said that he milked a “few” cows for Margery and her father, [Gus Boyd, Sr.] Margery testified to the fact that Clifford grows good turnip greens and even delivers them to the back door! Following his work in the fields and with the cows, Clifford worked in construction for twenty years until retirement. After retirement he has worked for eight years with Baptist Health where he drives the shuttle, often helping people like Margery when she has appointments or is making visits.

Reflecting upon his earliest memories of Bibb Fork, Clifford Cobb recalls “clicking a wheel,” which preceded learning how to ride a bike. “Clicking a wheel” involved pushing a metal wheel [such as a barrel stave] with a steel wire which had a hook at the end.

Clifford’s father, William, worked on the paving of Highway 31. The work started in 1929 and concluded in 1935-36. Clifford’s memories of gathering at Crenshaw’s Store [located on corner of Hwy. 31 and Windham Road] were vivid. Automobiles were so few that one could Josephine Johnson, Photo courtesy Josephine Johnson stand on the porch of the store and know the owner of the approaching car by its unique and distant sound.

Conversation centered around the grist mill and cotton gin in the curve [of Windham Rd.], both owned by Mr. Crenshaw. Mention was also made of the Shackelford mill located on the Pinchona Creek some distance behind Mitch Henry’s house, on the old Bibb Place. Clifford was free to hunt all the way from the McLean’s [McLean Road] to the Stokes [Windham Road]. Influential churches were Beulah (where Clifford attended) and Shiloh [McLean Rd.], the Bottom church [First Baptist Church of Hope Hull, on School Spur, just off Pettus Rd.] and the Hill Church [Mt. Sinai, near Fleta]. Every church had good cooks. Clifford expressed concern that many young people had moved away. At Beulah Church, primarily those on fixed incomes, have remained.

Clifford Cobb’s recollections focused on lemonade made in a wooden barrel or keg which was placed on the back of a truck and kept cool with a block of ice. Real lemonade!

When the old school in Bibb Fork was mentioned, Clifford remembered seeing the building, which has long since vanished. He attended the McLean School by walking or catching the bus. Teachers lived in town. One teacher he remembered was Fannie C. Jones, mother of TV12’s former reporter, Eileen Jones. 

Clifford Cobb was asked about his experience plowing, which was considerable, and if he were competitive with Peter McQueen. Clifford remembers fishing in a pond on the Windham Place and in a smaller, nearby catfish pond too. Recently he has seen evidence of a very large animal in the fishing areas.

Today the population of Bibb Fork has declined, but all houses are occupied. Still strong in Clifford’s memory is the day he learned of the death of James Griggs while going to Birmingham to work. Griggs died in a bus fire. [Griggs lived on Windham Road about where Mark Dauber lives today, 2019.]

A highlight for Clifford is the memory of working for Davis Henry who recollects Bob Carter killing rabbits while bringing home the cows to be milked.

Random subjects punctuated the rest of the conversation.

Davis remembered how his father, J.P. Henry, Sr., took Peter McQueen and Annie Mae to the courthouse to be married and how his father (Henry, Sr.) served on the draft board and processed Leslie Williams and Bobby Chesnutt. The two later bought land from him.

Windham Road was built by the WPA.

When Dr. Frank Shackelford died, his wife, Fannie lived with the Henrys (1942). Fannie Shackelford traveled to Colorado to visit her daughter and while there, Fannie Shackelford died. Her blindness did not deter her from regularly studying her Sunday School lesson.

Dr. William Tankersley delivered Margery Henry.

Margery loved riding her horse, Bonnie, every day when she would get the cows up for milking.

There have been many changes and improvements in loading and unloading hay.

After WW1. Davis’s father, J.P. Henry, patriotically marched through Pintlala on the way to Florida. Instead of crossing the Atlantic bound for Europe, Mr. Henry became ill and was quarantined. When discharged he refused to take mustering out money. He not only served on the Draft Board, but also served on the Public Charity Hospital Board.

Pintlala farming was always interesting. Whenever a whiskey still was discovered on the Henry farm, a fence was put up around it to prevent the cows from partaking.

It would be hard to forget the conversation with Clifford Cobb and with Davis and Margery Henry.

 

ANNIE MAE MCQUEEN/INTERVIEWED AUGUST 17, 2019

By Alice Carter

Margery Henry, Gary Burton and Alice Carter visited with Annie Mae McQueen in her home in the Bibb Fork community of Pintlala. She agreed to let her interview/conversation be recorded for an oral history project by the Pintlala Historical Association.

Annie Mae was born on April 28, 1924 to Russell and Eliza McCall Talley. Eliza Talley passed away when Annie Mae was six weeks old and Russell reared her and her two brothers and one sister on the Crenshaw place situated in the “Parmer/Palmer Bottom” near Pinchona Creek. Annie Mae and her siblings attended the Harefield School right off Cloverfield Road, within sight of Pinchona Creek. The one-room school was kept warm by a woodburning stove. The students would pick up wood to burn on their walk to school. Annie Mae remembers Rachel Draper followed by Tessie E. Felder as teachers. Playtime included ball games, jump rope and foot races. The Talley children, like others of the era, had to walk to and from school each day, which meant crossing the Pinchona Creek via the wooden bridge over the creek. Annie Mae was very frightened to walk over the bridge, especially when the  water was high. She would cry with fear to make the trek when she could see the rushing water between the cracks in the bridge timbers. She carried her lunch in a syrup bucket — usually a biscuit with syrup.

At age nineteen in 1943 Annie Mae married Peter McQueen who lived on the upper section of Windham Road. He worked for many years for the J.P. Henry family in the fields and in the dairy barns. Peter grew millet, corn, sugar cane and a vegetable garden for his family and animals. He and his family moved to the Bibb Fork community in 1971 and Peter passed away in 1999. Their daughter, Liza, who had married Robert Burt, a local plumber, ran the Pintlala School lunchroom for 28 years. Both Robert and Liza have passed away.

Their daughter, Judith, currently [2019] lives with Annie Mae and with the help of Betty Washington cares for the talkative Annie Mae.

Annie Mae shared that she attends church at Beulah Baptist Church on Highway 31 in Hope Hull and remembers ministers Rev. Tyson, Rev. George Williams and the current minister, Rev. Ben Mathews. She enjoys the singing in the services.

Among her other memories include those of childhood Christmases. That season marked the occasion of one of her few trips to town—Montgomery. Her family usually shopped in local general stores including Crenshaw’s, Mosley’s and Lassiter’s .

Ninety-five year old Annie Mae proudly shared with us, as we said our good-byes, that she still has ALL of her own teeth!