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Part of the Oral History of Agriculture in Edgecombe County Project. The audio on track 2 ends at 00:52:00. African American farmer Spencer William Jones of Tarboro was born in 1910 on the farm of J. Rogers Pender in Edgecombe County near Speed. The Jones family were sharecroppers on the Pender Farm for many years. He and his four siblings helped their parents raise cotton, peanuts, corn, sweet potatoes, and soybeans, and kept hogs and two milk cows. They also raised sugar cane for molasses and had an orchard with apples, peaches, mulberries, briar berries, huckleberries, and blackberries. Their father was a strict disciplinarian, and Spencer, as the oldest child, helped keep his brothers in line as they worked in the field, while his two sisters helped their mother indoors with cooking, cleaning, and laundry. (He describes how his mother made their soap.) The children had little time for playing – on rainy days they would go to the barn to shuck corn for the livestock and shell corn for the chickens. They supplemented their farm-raised food with rabbits, raccoons, and squirrels that they and their father would shoot. Jones describes how he grew up on the farm as “wonderful” – a happy and healthy way of life. They never had to go to a doctor, and their mother would use home remedies, including an illness-preventive tea, to keep everyone well. Spencer left school in the seventh grade to work full-time on the farm. He married at age 21 and they lived on his father’s farm for three years. He got a job working on Jay Robinson’s farm, and a few years later went back to farming on Pender’s. He says that Mr. Pender was a good man. Jones talks about his children, all of whom finished high school, and one of whom went to college and teaches agriculture. Jones managed to buy his own farm and his children helped him work it; it was largely pine forest, and they cleared it themselves. He has long been active in the church, and has been a deacon for many years, as well as a leader in the Sunday School Convention. He was also president of the 11th District PTA. At the time of the interview Jones has 50 acres, and lives in a duplex one of his sons built for him and for his own family. Jones used to grow corn, tobacco, cotton, peanuts, soybeans, and cucumbers, but over the years has cut back and rents half his farm out. He has never had trouble because of race issues, but frequently comments on the virtues of keeping quiet and not rocking the boat. He says the main qualities someone should cultivate are a love of hard work, honesty, and being nice to others. Unfortunately the tape of this interview has many bits that are difficult to make out, and the transcript accordingly has blank spaces.





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