Matilda Mckinney

District #7

Adella S. Dixon, Macon, Georgia


100 Empire Avenue, Macon, Georgia

[Date Stamp: JUL 28 1937]

Matilda McKinney was born in Texas but was brought to southwest Georgia,

near Albany, at an early age. Her mother, Amy Dean, had eight children,

of which Aunt Matilda is the eldest. The plantation on which they lived

was owned by Mr. Milton Ball, and it varied little in size or

arrangement from the average one of that time. Here was found the usual

two-story white house finished with high columns and surrounded by


Most of the Negro mothers did field work, so it was necessary for others

to care for the children. Mr. Ball handled this problem in the usual

way. He established what would today be called a day nursery. Each

mother brought her offspring to the home of an elderly woman before

leaving for her day's work. Here, they were safely kept until their

parents returned. The midday meal for everyone was prepared at the Big

House and the slaves were served from huge tubs of vegetables and pots

of meat. "Aunt" Julia was responsible for the children's noon meal.

When "Aunt" Matilda was old enough to do a little work, she was moved

into the house where she swept floors, waited on the table, and fanned

flies while a meal was being served. The adult females who lived in the

house did most of the weaving and sewing. All the summer, garments were

made and put away for winter use. Two dresses of osnaburg were then

given each person.

The field hands, always considered an inferior group by the house

servants, worked from sunup to sundown. When they returned from the

fields they prepared supper for their families and many times had to

feed the children in the dark, for a curfew horn was blown and no lights

could be lighted after its warning note had sounded. There was very

little visiting to or from the group which dwelt here, as the curfew

hour was early.

Saturday varied a little from the other week days. The field work was

suspended in the afternoon to allow the mothers time to wash their

clothing. With sunset came the preparations for the weekly frolic. A

fiddler furnished music while the dancers danced numerous square dances

until a late hour.

Home remedies for illness were used much more extensively than any

doctor's medicine. Teas, compounded from sage, boneset, tansy, and

mullen, usually sufficed for any minor sickness, and serious illness was


Food was distributed on Sunday morning. Two-and-a-half pounds of meat, a

quantity of syrup, and a peck of meal were given each adult for the

week. A special ration for Sunday alone was potatoes, buttermilk, and

material for biscuits. Each family had its own garden from which a

supply of vegetables could always be obtained in season. The smaller

children had additional delicacies, for they early learned that the

house where produce was kept had holes in the floor which yielded

peanuts, etc, when punched with a stick.

"Aunt" Matilda was unable to give any information regarding the war, but

remembers that her family remained at her former owner's plantation for

some time after they were freed. She now lives with her granddaughter

who takes excellent care of her. Her long life is attributed to her

habit of going to bed early and otherwise caring for herself properly.

Matilda Hatchett Matilda Miller facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail