Timeless wisdom to put you in a holiday spirit

jennie_stone_houseNot long ago, I learned about the existence of private journals written more than a century ago by a relative on my father’s side, from his ancestral stomping grounds in the mountains of southwest Virginia.

Their author, Mary Margaret Persinger**, was barely literate, and she lived in a time and place far closer to the 19th century than to the 20th century. She was a widow and grandmother, living with her spinster sister and surviving as a quilter, cook and housekeeper in what today we would call dire poverty.

But to hear her tell it in these excerpts, she was richer than Midas:

“James (her oldest son) give me a new Bible for my birthday and I love it cause mine was falling to pieces and always be feeling bad taking it in the lords house. I was a little mad cause sweet Jesus knows that James needed him that money but James says that cause he don’t go often enough now it be like he is there with me every Sunday. Lord knows I loves me that boy. I give my old one to Miss Jones cause she don’t got her one. She don’t do her no reading cause she never had her no learning but says it sure feels good having the word of god in her own hands….”

“Some folks gots them kids that when they grown never wants to be round them and here me and sis gots us one (James) that wants us with him forever. Praise be to Jesus. Granddaddy Persinger always say a house aint nothing but four wood walls with a cover. A home is the family that is round them walls and if you take away those walls you still has you a home….”

“Miss Elizas girl say she don’t want her momma or her daughter moving in with her. That don’t make no good sense to me why a child treat their own momma and girl that way. Everyone I got is welcome to come live with me even if we have to sleep five to a bed. Me and sis sleep many a night in a hay barn when we were growing up. Family is family and you do for your family when they need you. To many folks done forgot what it means to be a family….”

“I think (her daughters) Mary and Sara are into it again. I never understand why they not able to get along better. They always in a fuss over some foolness. My boys get in it sometimes but they always settle it fast. Me and sis almost never have us any hard words and I wish my girls could be more like us cause one day we be gone and they only have each other…. I aint never beat my children but lord knows that if they stopped talking to each other I would beat them near to death….”

“Somedays it seem like the world moving so fast that a body never keep up. Most everyday they done invented some new thing to take the place of the old and me and sis starting to feel lost. The old days were hard but we knowed what to do and how to act. Today you hears everyday of men beating their women for nothing and their women doing nothing bout it and people being robbed in plain daylight and when we was little there never was such things cause people was stronger and knowed how to take care of themselves….”

Mary Margaret and her sister were of mixed ancestry, part white, part free black and part Cherokee. Parts of their family, including Mary Margaret’s son David, were “passing” as white and disappeared; others did not or could not pass. Here’s a story that she tells about her half-Cherokee grandfather before the Civil War:

They were living over there in Allegany County long fore the war. One night they heared some commotion and was ascared someone be thiefing some their domineckers (hens). Granddaddy went out and finds himself two runaways over by his springhouse. They were a man and a woman and he say they the darkest coloreds he seen in his life. They say they done runaway cause their master was going to sell them off at auction.

Grandma fixed them something to eat cause they looked half starved to death. Granddaddy didn’t know what to do with them so he took them to old man Redcross place. He was this mulatto man that knowed everybody round. He say he didn’t want to help cause he say that kind of wrongness get his family killed or sold out from under him if the whites find out. Granddaddy tells him that he gots to help them cause they are little older than a child and he knowed that if the slavers take them they would beat them to the bone.. He thinks bout it fore a spell and tells them where they can go and find some white folks that take in runaways but says it is far off.

Granddaddy says that he is going to take them through the woods cause that way no whites be eyeing them. Fore they leave he tells granddaddy that if the whites catch them then they never knowed him. Grandma say he gone purt near two weeks but she never worried her head over it cause Miss Sara always say him and his brothers was more like wild Indians and aint no white folks ever catch him once he in the woods.”

And here’s a story that she tells apparently handed down from the days of the Cherokee Removal, which ended with her own great-grandfather being sent on the Trail of Tears. It’s about one old mountain woman protecting Cherokee who had taken shelter in her home:

“One day some them troops come on the place and one them old white women that had to be near eighty go out. Them soldiers say they looking for them Indians she say she don’t care what they be after that it aint proper for no men that not her relations to be coming by when there is only women folk on the place. One them say don’t fret yourself grandma we be gone after we sees in the house. She tells them that if any them trys she be sending that man to Jesus. They never come in the house and sis say that old woman must had her some Persinger blood.

Sometimes colored folks want to be bad talking all white people and me and sis not have it round us cause we has white blood but also cause there be lots of them folks that done stood between coloreds and Indians and any troubles coming their way and was willing to fight the devil himself to save them. Some these do nothings round here needs to be looking at themselves fore they talk such foolness….

In the journals, Mary Margaret says that she writes because she feels driven to do so, and so that “when the lord calls me my family wont forget.” And while she belittles her own talent as a writer, I find it fascinating and beautifully done. I bet she’d be shocked and more than a little pleased to learn that her words were being read more than a century later.

And thankful. She’d always be thankful.

——–

**While a relative, Mary Margaret is not a direct ancestor. That part of Virginia is thick with Persingers. Drive down the road and in places it seems like “Persinger” is on every other mailbox.

 

Reader Comments 0

1177 comments
TBS
TBS

We have a td meltdown to start the week on the old Thanksgiving thread.

Send someone to clean up the mess.  

Brosephus
Brosephus

@TBS 

I don't know what to say about Republicans and their kinks.  We have a size queen and now a butt sniffer.  No wonder those aides got caught using the GOP card at the S&M club.  They're all a bunch of freaks. 

Just let your inner freak go and quit trying to suppress it.  Jesus will forgive you.

LeninTime
LeninTime

@straker 

Black on Black shootings don't matter.

***
Not so much they don't matter, it's just they don't matter to you - all your concern trolling aside. 

blah blah blah
blah blah blah

I see all the trolls have made it into work today.  Keep stealing that bandwidth moochers...No matter what you think or how you rationalize it "Ethics" does have a place in the world.

td1234
td1234

It appears the ST. Louis Rams football players have been grubernized. 

KUTGF
KUTGF

@td1234  Its looks like the RWer nuts and children have a new code word.  Quiver and fear little ones. 

straker
straker

blah


It only counts if a White police officer or guard shoots a Black person.


Black on Black shootings don't matter.

Brosephus
Brosephus

@straker 

I'll ask you the same question as I asked three x blah.  Do you know whether or not any of those families have extended an invitation to Al Sharpton seeking his assistance? 

blah blah blah
blah blah blah

@Brosephus @straker

Chicago stats 2014

Totals Since Ferguson (Aug 9 – Nov 24)

Shot & Killed: 130

Shot & Wounded: 725

Total Shot: 855

Total Homicides: 155


Year To Date Totals

Shot & Killed: 349

Shot & Wounded: 2028

Total Shot: 2377

Total Homicides: 414

Maybe you should ask Al directly...

Brosephus
Brosephus

@blah blah blah 

Go ask yourself.  You're the one with Sharpton priapism.  Do I look like Benson to you?

blah blah blah
blah blah blah

A 50-year-old man has died after being struck by a bullet that went through a bedroom window Tuesday night


Oscar Garcia was fatally shot in the Little Village neighborhood Friday night.


Nadia Ezaldein, 22, Friday night — on one of the busiest shopping days of the year in the accessories department at the Nordstrom at 55 E. Grand Ave., was shot dead


Joshua Rockett was found shot to death in the Washington Heights community Friday night.


Jahakel Clark was shot in the head in the 3100 block of West 64th Street about 3:30 p.m., authorities said.


Chicago weekend murders.  Where is Al Sharpton???  Oh wait, he was in Missouri mouthing off.  Typical Al, No cameras, no cash, NO Al.  

KUTGF
KUTGF

@blah blah blah  Yes because any person shot is just the equal of any other person shot... in stupidville

Brosephus
Brosephus

@TBS @td1234 

They're probably not race hustlers and he has his membership card to prove it.  LOL!!!!

td1234
td1234

@Brosephus @blah blah blah Knowing that Al Sharpton is a race hustler then by your logic that means that anyone that calls Al is only concerned about race and not real justice. 

Brosephus
Brosephus

@blah blah blah 

Do you know if any of those families contacted Al Sharpton and asked him to come to their assistance?  Contrary to what you think, that's how Al gets involved.  He doesn't have a magic 8 Ball that tells him where to go next.

If your Al Sharpton erection lasts for more than 4 hours, you should seek medical attention.  As yours has been more than four days, it's probably too late for you.

TBS
TBS

@Brosephus @TBS @td1234


The funny thing is that when he posted an article from their site then was called out his weak excuse was he just happen to come across that article and didn't know who they were.


LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

td1234
td1234

@Brosephus @td1234 Not even in the same building and you know it. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson makes their entire living based on nothing more than race and keeping racial tension high. The higher the racial tensions in the nation the more money they make so in other words they are hustling race. 


Rush and Hannity would still be rich if they did not say a word about race. Not so much for Sharpton and Jackson. 

td1234
td1234

@TBS How does Bro's a$$ smell? You have had your nose shoved so far up it the past few weeks that I thought you would know. 

Brosephus
Brosephus

@td1234 

They're all the same, and your attempt at making excuses is duly noted, although it's weak as crap.  Your folks, Newt included, have been using racial fears to stoke tension against Obama since he was elected.

Food Stamp President?

Closet Muslim?

Black Radical preacher?

Dude, the evidence is all over the internet.  Funny that you only see racial animus as a Black thing.  That says far more about you than you'll ever realize.  Thanks for posting your racial issues for all to see.

TBS
TBS

@td1234 @TBS


bwhahahahahahah


What is the CCC up to these days?


Have you ran across any of their articles lately?

td1234
td1234

@Brosephus @td1234


These are only evidence of "racial fears" in your biased mind. Food stamp President was an accurate statement but you see race when in reality more whites receive FS than blacks. Closet Muslim is a good political ploy considering his dad was and his stepdad was but you see race when his stepdad was Asian. For you to believe that his preacher and his black liberation theology was not radical is again you wanting to see race. 


You are the one that is attempting to use race to shut down those that disagree with your political views. 

TBS
TBS

@td1234 @TBS


Meltdown much or just when your CCC card is shown?


bwhahahahahaahahahahahah


Someone's fragile ego is cracking

TBS
TBS

@Brosephus @td1234


I could be wrong but don't recall td ever calling a white person a race hustler.  But I could have missed that comment. 


Guess there aren't any.  

Brosephus
Brosephus

@td1234 

Only you conservative people call him a race hustler.  Funny that you never hear Rush, Hannity, or any White people who stir up racial crap get called race hustlers.  Is this another one of those things that Whites can do that we Black people can't do?

The only one knowing such a thing, race hustling, are people too stupid to see beyond their own racial bigotries.

Brosephus
Brosephus

@td1234

I'm not trying to shut down anyone or anything.  I love watching you make a fool of yourself.  Why would I try to stop such an entertaining thing?

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

If Officer Wilson was found to have been smoking marijuana prior to his encounter with Brown, would THAT be important to you deniers?

td1234
td1234

@KUTGF Attempting to defend Michael Brown is a real sign of lack of intelligence. 

Tiberius Constitutionus
Tiberius Constitutionus

Depends. Indica? Sativa? Hybrid? High THC content? High CBD content?

Your question is unanswerable without additional facts, oh BigButtHurt.

Crossbreed
Crossbreed

ustice was done, which of course means you lost

agreed in part but truly everyone lost this one- 

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

Do you still believe Mike Brown was shot in the back, as eyewitnesses claimed, or have you come to terms with the fact that that was a lie?

One step at a time, deniers.  You'll get to the truth eventually.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

The truth is that Mike Brown was not shot in the back, as claimed by eyewitnesses.

Can you accept that reality?