Welcome To KEY TO THE CITY's Page For
Pickens County, Alabama
My granddaddy was a small child when our great-grandmother carried her family to work on the Bailey Plantation. The Civil War was winding down. This put my granddaddy to be raised right in the Reconstruction Period. The farm hands that were once slaves thought they could stay on and not work. The plantation owner told them they were free to go with their newfoundfreedom. They just walked off with nowhere to go and no way to make a living. Granddaddy told me this one day when we were sitting by an old wood burning stove made from a 50 gallon barrel. He told me many farm homes were left without a man to guard the home or plow the fields. The men had not gotten back from the war or were killed during the war. These, once slaves, gathered on the Tombigbee River. They had no food or money, so they took to stealing. They would slip in at night, take a widow woman's milk cow, chickens, hog, corn, or anything they could find to eat. This went on for a long time. It seems these former slaves had put severe hardships on everybody. Women who were trying to feed their children, sometimes large families couldn't, because the former slaves were taking everything they had raised on the farms. So, all the white men had a meeting. They decided to fix the problem. They went to the river and killed every black man they could find. Granddaddy said, "The Tombigbee River had former slaves floating for miles." The white men told the black women that they were free to go and take their children with them. Chuck Bailey put my granddaddy in charge of these workers at a very young age. This made him a hard man, and he never got over it. He had a quick temper until the day he died. His job forced him to do things he was not mature enough to handle. These are the things I have been told by my uncle of my great-Grandfather, Calvin Dickerson Johnson. I am not proud of the things, "Dick," as he was known, had to do on the Chuck Bailey Planation, but I am proud of his mother, Liza Johnson, a Chitimacha Indian, from around Franklin, Louisiana and her husband, my great-great-grandfather, Samuel Johnson who died of malaria and was buried on the banks of the Tombigbee River.
Submitted by Pamela