Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sitting and Talking with Mrs. Lillian Womack

Lillian Johnson Womack
Photo Credit: Antoinette Harrell
I decided to take the scenic route to my destination and while riding, I saw a tidy and neat little house with a well maintain lawn that caught my attention. I decided too stop and start up a genealogy conversation. Well the person who I saw sitting on the porch said, "I don't know much you would have to talk with my mother who is in her eighties."

I was extremely excited and seized the opportunity to talk with a living history book. Mrs. Lilian was born to Thomas and Carrie Johnson in 1928 in St. Helena, Louisiana. She was one of sixteen children. Some of siblings are Willie, Isaac Jessie, Walter, Rebecca, Thomas, Irene, Iretha, and Rose, these are the children who was listed on the 1940 U.S. Census.

Having someone to talk about people who were born in the early nineteen hundreds and the late eighteen hundreds was just what I needed. She gave me the names of two midwives that she could recall, two ladies by the name of Annie Sims and her grandmother Fannie Johnson who was part Indian and mulatto. She said that she didn't know Fannie maiden name because she was brought as a slave to someone plantation.

What Not Tree " Crab Apple and Pear" 
She told me how she walked for miles to attend school at the church at Black Creek the same place where she was baptized as a young child. She worked in the field with her brothers and sisters picking cotton, beans, corn, taking care of the livestock, milking cows before she went to school.  She talked about Venable Chapel and Pipkin Chapel Methodist Churches. She was the Sunday School Superintendent for forty-five years at Veneable Chapel A.M.E. in Greensburg, LA.

As the conversation continued we end up talking about canning pears and how the "what not tree" in her back yard is a cross between the grab apple and pear seed. I was happy to see the peach tree in her backyard blooming with peaches. Mrs. Womack is just a kind and sweet lady. She and I are making plans going to go to the cemetery at Veneable Chapel.

She and her son Kerry told me about the plant that is called the wild onion plant. I tasted the plant and it tasted like black pepper and onion. If anyone know how to live off the land it is Mrs. Lillian. Everything they ate they grew. I asked her if any of the younger people talked with her about her early years growing up without the amenities that we have today. She said, " they don't want to know about that kind of stuff."
Pepper Grass

Peach Tree
She is sweetheart and I really enjoyed sitting and talking with her. It's people like Mrs. Lillian that we need to be interviewing and preserving the oral history before we loose it. She is a very strong woman and her memory is very good. The Knighten, Johnson's is her relations and the Pounds and Womack is her deceased husband relations.

I only wish that more people would take interest in their family history. There is so much to learn and the rewards are great. Its nothing like sitting and talking with the elders to gain knowledge. They are waiting for us if only we take the time and talk with them. Especially if we are talking about people who they lived with and may have passed on. It helps their memory when we talk with about the times they came up in and the people who must of us are reading about on the census and other sources.