We attended this month’s Lower Richland Heritage and Genealogy Society LRHGS’ Kindred Connection: Sharing Our Stories. The funding for this project came from Richland County Conservation Commission. This meeting was hosted by Dedra Harvin at Jerusalem Baptist Church in Hopkins, South Carolina. As I sat in the back, I noticed the place was packed. Everyone was listening intently to the recorded interviews being shown upfront.
I thought about the great impact this would have on those present who will feel the importance of leaving some form of similar record for their families. I was amazed at the quality of the videos and the documentation shared in each video. We were treated to four oral histories:
- Ada Young Hopkins
- Pelham Myers Sr.
- Sara Lee Shiver Green
- Joe Richardson
In no other way can you learn what things were like for African Americans and feel what it was like for them to go through those hard times. Going to school first by walking, then by riding a truck, and then being granted one of the old, run down buses used by the white schools is a common story.
They had to be strong and smart. When it was time to work and they already were working but wanted a better job, going to work at the more promising job for a period of time until you got paid then telling your first employer you were quitting was the smart thing to do. It was the way to ensure a job back then.
To have enough for food, shelter, and clothing they had to do some things we would not do today. Children in the 1930’s had to miss going to school to work in the field. These people laid down their lives for their posterity, and many own their land.
I was listening carefully to know if the persons interviewed were still living, and they were. Each received a plaque for their contribution, and each person will get a YouTube link to the entire interview series because there was so much more to each interview than what we saw.
The meeting ended, but the best part for me occurred while we were enjoying refreshments and chatting. It was so good to see Rose Shiver. I appreciate her efforts and how far the society come. Dedra Harvin, who is the first lady of Jerusalem Baptist Church, is a great support to Rose. She is a strong example of family history in her own family.
I then moved to front where I could meet the interviewees. I have to send Joe Richardson questions to answer about my family. He was around during the same time as my mom. Next, I asked Sarah Shiver Green if she knew the Vance’s. “Yes, Edna, Beatrice, and Wallace, and Martha Vance was my teacher,” she said.
Next, I asked Pelham if he knew any Vance’s. “Edna Vance,” he said. I got his address to give to my mother to call that day. They rode the same bus to school. I said that she now lives in Joliet, Illinois. He said that they had exchanged phone number before, but she must have lost his number. He gave me his phone number again, and I called my mom to tell her I met him and to give her the number. She was so happy to hear I had found him again, and she too told how they had been given buses from the white schools.
I had interviewed family members before in Lower Richland. My grandfather’s favorite cousin, Marshall Fair had moved from Laurens County to Lower Richland during the time he lived there. To this day he still has children and grandchildren living there. I became very close to his daughter, Betty Fair Harris who passed in 2016.
Now, I am glad to be making more friends with people who can tell me about my family and life back then. I am especially glad to make connections with people who were once students of my great grandmother, Martha Vance. Lafayette Franklin Vance (1861-1952) and Martha had a home built for them in Gadsden by my grandfather, Emory W. Vance (1901-1973) who stayed on the same land in his own house with my grandmother, Otis E. Tucker-Vance and family.
Here is my mother at about 2 when they moved from Columbia, South Carolina in the Waverly District to Lower Richland to a more rural neighborhood in Gadsden, South Carolina:
Thanks to the Lower Richland Heritage and Genealogy Society (LRHGS) for bringing this history forward. Thank you for all the work you have put forth in preserving our history and sharing it, especially to Rose Shiver, Chairperson. They will be recording many more or oral history interviews which they will make available on YouTube. If you would like to join the Lower Richland Heritage Society, you can access their Facebook page here.
We are pleased to let you know that we will be putting up a page for Lower Richland which will feature the people, churches, schools, work, midwives, fraternal organizations, and more. Stay tuned for the release of this page.
Sharpen the Saw
Have you sat listening to oral history which was shared with the community at church or genealogy society meeting? Were you able to find a connection to the past for yourself? Let us know in our Facebook Group where others are sharing what they know or experience.