Sunday, October 13, 2013

My Great Grandmother Emma Mead Harrell Owned Land

Kneeling down: Antoinette, Thomas, Michael and Reginald
Standing: Right to Left-Palmer Harrell, Bertha Harrell,
Photo: Standing from left to right-Palmer Harrell his sister Bertha Harrell, his niece Gertrude Love, standing behind Gertrude is  Jasper Harrell, Jr., and his wife Primrose Bennett Harrell. 

Growing up as a child in Amite, Louisiana was fun times for my brothers and I. My three brothers and I would play all day on the twenty acres of land my maternal great-grandmother Emma Mead Harrell purchased in 1896 and 1902 for her and all of her heir. My maternal grandfather Jasper Harrell, Sr., were the youngest of all his siblings. My grandfather decided that he would stay right there on the land and raise his family. My mother often told me that he would just walk the land thinking and meditating. The land was divided by a black top road, he decided to build his house across the road from his mother's house.

On the land  there were all kinds of fruit trees growing, such as fig trees, peach trees, lemon trees, pecan trees, walnut trees, plum trees and pear trees that produced annually. Many of those hot summer days my brothers: Reginald, Thomas and Michael and I would walk across the road to pick some plums, and peaches. This was just a special treat, there was nothing like fresh plums and peaches right off the tree.
When we got thirsty we would go to the old water pump and pump out some of the best tasting water. Beside there was a water spring that also gave us cold water to cool ourselves off.  Where we lived there were red clay dirt and we would play in the dirt until the red dirt just stained our clothes with red color. We would pretend that we were mountain climbing. We waiting patiently for that beat-up green truck to come up the road traveling slowly. Finally our uncle "Palmer" had arrived and we headed back across the road with him. We would help him pick the beans and other vegetables he planted.

We all enjoyed his company and he enjoyed our company as well. We would help him filled the hampers full to the top with snap beans, butter beans, purple hub peas, cucumbers and squash. Both white and yellow squash, he would always send us home with fresh produce for our mother to cook for dinner.

After a long days of work, he would take us to "Ardillo's" store to buy each one of us a nickel worth candy. Back in those days a nickel went a long way. My brother and I would be so happy for our little treat and the love our great uncle " Buddy" gave to us.

You see that land is dear to me, there is a special attachment to the land when you know what the land had provided for you. Now that I know the history behind the land and how hard my great grandmother Emma Mead Harrell worked to purchase that land for her heirs it is very difficult for me stand by and allow someone to misuse the property.

The Land 
by Antoinette Harrell

The land gave me food to eat
The land provided wood to make a fire to keep me warm
The land gave me water to drink when I was thirsty
The land provided a shelter for my family and I
This Black Gold 
Provided and Income
This Black Gold
Can't be Sold
This Black Gold
Have many stories that remains to be told
117 Years Later
The Black Gold still remains in the Harrell Family
Thank you Grandma Emma

Crop Lien System

The crop lien system is a credit system that became widely used in the United States in the South from the 1860s to the 1950s. Sharecroppers and tenant farmers who didn't own the land they worked to obtain supplies and food on credit from the local merchants. At one point my great uncle Palmer borrowed against his crops. Many farmers both black and white loss their land by these crop liens.