Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Life in Rural West Carroll Parish, Lousiana

Life on the Farm in Rural West Carroll Parish, Louisiana
June 16, 2013
Esther Eley Jones

Esters (Erastus) Eley age 3
     Esters Eley was born in a small rural area on 28 June 1908 in Eros, Jackson Parish, Louisiana to Alice Lee, daughter of William “Willie” Alfred Lee and Sophronia Emma Meadows from Alabama. Who was Esters Eley? He was my father. He was a common, hardworking, farmer. As were all his ancestors before him. Or as some folks would say “they engaged in agriculture.” Whatever you want to call it, Daddy worked hard most of his life, but that’s what most farmers do. Work from sunup to sundown. The work goes on, because the crops won’t wait. Agriculture is raising field crops such as cotton, corn, and potatoes, and poultry, or other livestock; those were the goods produced on the farm. There were cows, hogs, and a couple of horses. Then there was the garden with all the fresh vegetables. Daddy and Mother took care of the gardening, growing fresh peas, tomatoes, Kentucky Wonder beans, squash, okra, butterbeans, cabbage, and in season turnip greens and collard greens. The garden wasn’t just a small plot of land, it was at least an acre maybe more. There were ten people in our family so they planted enough to take care of our family year round. In addition, there was enough to supply our basic need for each meal every day.

     Daddy taught us kids how to work, and we worked on the farm. We didn’t always like to do the work, but Daddy had a way of persuading us it was for our own good. There was always enough food to can and store for the winter. The meat that our family ate was raised and cured on the farm.  
The thing that I remember most about growing up on a farm in West Carroll Parish is that we always had food to eat, clothes to wear, and a place to live. We didn’t do without the basic needs of life, and those were provided by Daddy and Mother, and a home environment where we felt love and safe. No, we didn’t get hugs and kisses, or words such as I love you. However, we knew they cared and they loved us in their own ways.  

     Daddy worked the fields and Mother cared for the household chores and the children.  He provided for his family during very difficult times.  Family was important to daddy not only because the times were hard, but being raised by an uncle, cousins, or grandparents, William and Emma until they passed away. William died in 6 October 1917 and Emma died 11 November 1920 in Oak Grove, West Carroll Parish.  Daddy was the oldest of the six children, and was five years old when Granny (Alice Lee) married Jack Eley.

     Daddy retired from Mr. Hinton’s chicken farm when he was about 70 years old. He had worked on the chicken farm since 1965 and retired due of upper respiratory problems.  He lived to be 82 years old. He lived a full productive life. He loved life and loved his family.  He married his sweetheart Alma Coon; they were married 58 years, and raised eight children. All of the children have lived to become “senior adults.”  That is an accomplishment!

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