|Transcription of Oral History|
|Subject: [Sarah] Lucinda Miller Brent Posey|
|Interviewer: Mildred Pratt |
|Date: August 7, 1985|
|Transcript: This is a January 22, 2002 version which incorporates Mrs. Posey's additions and corrections to the first|
| transcription of the taped interview.|
|MP||This is July 7, 1985 [sic].
August 7, 1985. Mrs. Lucinda Posey is being interviewed. Mrs. Posey just tell us as
much as you can remember and feel comfortable to discuss in terms of your early childhood
and your family, your growing up, and we really want you to tell anything else about your
life experiences that you feel comfortable to discuss. In any format that you want.
Well, when you get to be as old as I am you have a lot of remembering to do, so I'm not
too sure how much you're interested in. You already have the history of my mother and
her family. My father was born in Barboursville [Barbourville], Kentucky. His mother
was a slave girl in the big house. His father was Miller, the owner of the plantation.
And my father told my mother this history that the plantation owner, Samuel Miller,
for whom he was named-his [Miller's] wife knew that this was his son, and when he was
a good boy, he played in the front of the big house with all the rest of his white
brothers and sisters. And when he was naughty, he got sent to the back of the house
to stay with his Black mammy, as she was called. He moved or he came to Farmer City,
Illinois, which is about thirty miles east of Bloomington, with a load of horses, and
everybody down there I understand thought he was white. He was highly insulted, and I
got this from one of the white neighbors after I had grown up and married. So when he
brought the second load of horses back, he decided he would stay, and, of course, with
my mother dead and gone, it never dawned on me to ask Mama how she and my father met.
But Mama lived in Normal. And she belonged to the [Mount Pisgah] Baptist Church, and
evidently my father came to the Baptist church because in the old church history, there
is an article-I was born down in Farmer City on the farm that they had. And there's an
article in the church history where Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Miller came to Mount Pisgah to
church, and he put in the large sum of fifty cents, and they brought their baby daughter
with them. The baby daughter was me. So I guess fifty cents was a lot of money in those
days. But I read that in the church history. I had a half-brother and half-sister. My
half-sister was twenty-one years older than I, and the half-brother was twenty years older
than I. And both of them were married when I was a child coming along. My parents were
married eleven years before I showed up. It was like having three sets of parents. My
brother nor sister neither had children. So they mothered me. And of course my own parents
mothered me. So what I couldn't get out of one, I got out of the other. Papa died when
I was six. I was six on the fifth of February, and he died the end of February. And here
is a woman up in her forties left with a kid to take care of and a house to finish paying
for. When my father contracted to buy the house, he had my name put on the deed; not his
wife's, but his daughter's. He had never given Mama a wedding ring until after I was born,
and I now have the wide wedding band in which he inscribed my initials S-L-M-Sarah Lucinda
Miller-and February 5. And that was the wedding ring he gave my mother after they'd been
married eleven years.
What did your father do for a living? You said he brought horses to Bloomington.
That was to Farmer City. When he moved-they moved from Farmer City to
Bloomington Mama said, when Jim Reeder was elected sheriff here in
Bloomington. Jim Reeder was formerly from Normal. He was a Normal man,
and I remember Jim Reeder. But Mama said he came down to the farm, and
offered my father a job as janitor here at the courthouse-McLean County
Courthouse-if we would move to Bloomington. They sold the farm. And they
moved to Bloomington from Farmer City when I was three years old. And I
can remember my father taking me to the old courthouse here in Bloomington
and opening a door and showing me an engine room with a whole lot of machinery,
and I was scared to death of it. He worked there for awhile, and I don't
know how he happened to leave there, other then I have a sneaking idea that
the sheriff wasn't re-elected as I look back now. I imagine maybe Jim Reeder
was not re-elected, and those appointees of his were let go. We had a Johnson
Transfer Company here which is now Allied Vans on South Center Street, and they
had great big moving wagons that they carried furniture in, and I remember my
father coming home for lunch driving six horses. And one day he had eight horses,
and he took me way up high on this wagon seat with all of these reins-I guess
that is that you call them-for these horses, and that day there were eight horses.
And I screamed and hollered. I was scared to death. It was too high up in the air.
But they called them drays in those days, but that's what they moved furniture in.
He worked for Johnson's Transfer Company until he died.
Was it common practice to put property in the names of children in those days? Do you know?
||Did your mother work outside the home before your father died?
No. In those days when Papa died, I don't think they had all these things that
they have now-all these aid things. If they did I never heard anything about it.
Mama worked out in service for two families, Dr. Brown who lived about five blocks
from us and a family by the name of Mitchell over here on East Grove Street, those
two families. And Mama would go-those women in those days did their own washing.
Mama went and ironed all day. Mama did the cleaning. Every Christmas Mama went
out to Mitchell's and cooked Christmas dinner and served it. I had a place set in
the dining room. They had one daughter, Frances. I had a place set in the dining
room. I sat in the dining room with the Mitchell family for Christmas dinner.
I had my gifts under the tree. So you see I've been integrated all my life.
That's where I had an advantage I guess you would say. The Browns lived within
walking distance of Lincoln school where I attended. They had one daughter named
Bernice. When Bernice got a new dress, Mrs. Brown bought me a new dress. When
Bernice got shoes, I got shoes. Everyday after school if Mama was there that day,
there was a piece of fruit. Anything on the kitchen table was mine. There would be
a polished apple and her specialty was taking canned pears and putting red blush on
them and a stick of mint in if she'd had a party or something. Well, if they did
have a party, Mama went down and served the party, and whatever was left Mama brought
home which I loved. But those people kept me clothed, and as a result I was a
well-dressed child, which didn't help me psychologically at Mount Pisgah Baptist
Church. You get the picture? Because I had new coats, and I had long hair, and I
had pretty hair, and I had bows, and I had new shoes. And some of them didn't.
And I was persecuted because of this. I cried many a time because my feelings had
been hurt. But it was through the goodness of these families you see. I was
sixteen years old before anybody bought me a coat, and I worked and bought my own coat.