Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Hugh D. Palmer, August 21, 1985

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:13 - Working for a white family and never getting an education

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Partial Transcript: Mr. Palmer, my name is George Wright.

Segment Synopsis: Palmer was born in 1895. His mother was a former slave, and his father came to Kentucky from St. Louis. His father was a preacher, and his mother worked for a white family cleaning their house. Palmer also worked for the white family in the yard. Palmer's mother wanted him to go to school, but the white man they worked for said the black school was too far away. The white woman taught Palmer to count money and read his name.

Keywords: 1895; Baptist ministers; Blindness; Christian County (Ky.); Counting money; Creek County (Ky.); Crittenden County (Ky.); Cut the grass; Domestic labor; Families; Frances Palmer; Grandparents; Henry Palmer; Hopkinsville (Ky.); Illiteracy; Maids; Ministers; Parents; Pastors; Preachers; Railroad; Schools; Segregation; Slavery; Slaves; Spelling; St. Louis (Mo.); Teaching; White people; Wife; Working; Yard cleaning

Subjects: African American churches; African American churches--Kentucky; African American clergy.; African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism; Segregation.

00:10:42 - Drafted into World War I

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Partial Transcript: And what age did you quit working for them?

Segment Synopsis: Palmer was drafted into World War I. He never saw active fighting. He says he was in an integrated battalion that built railroads in France. He trained at Camp Taylor in Louisville.

Keywords: Ammunition; Battalion 515; Black military personnel; Black troops; Camp Taylor; Draft; Drills; France; Guard duty; Horses; Integration; Louisville (Ky.); Military service; Military training; Mixed; Railroads; Ships; WW1; WWI; White troops; Word War One; World War 1; World War I

Subjects: African Americans--Politics and government.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Draft.; Integration; United States--Armed Forces--African Americans.; World War, 1914-1918

00:15:30 - Marriage and home life after the war

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Partial Transcript: When I come back from France, I--when I got back in the United States, me and my wife marry.

Segment Synopsis: Palmer talks about coming back from the war and marrying his wife. They wanted to get married before he left, but it didn't work. His wife got an education growing up, but she also worked. She did domestic labor for white people. They rented their house from Lord Blakely. During the week, Palmer worked for the Illinois Central Railroad Company.

Keywords: African American schools; African Americans; Alberta Wallace; Black people; Children; Domestic labor; Draft; Farm laborer; Housework; IC Railroad; Illinois Central Railroad; Larken's; Lord Blakely; Marriage; Renting; WW1; WWI; White people; Working; World War 1; World War I; World War One

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Marriage; African Americans--Social conditions.

00:19:53 - African American sharecroppers at Golden Pond / The Night Riders

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Partial Transcript: One of the things we're very interested in is finding out about race relations; how black people and white people got along back then.

Segment Synopsis: Palmer knows that the black sharecroppers at Golden Pond were forced from their homes, but he doesn't know why. He also remembers how the Night Riders took the horses one night. Larken, the man Palmer worked for, was a Night Rider. The Night Riders burned the Depot and a warehouse but those were the only structures that he remembers being burned. The militia was called out, and the leader, Dr. David Amoss, was killed.

Keywords: African American coach; Board timber; Child; Dr. David A. Amoss; Feeds; Fires; Forced out; Golden Pond (Ky.); Horses; Lynching; Militia; Moonshine; Playing cards; Race relations; Sharecroppers; Stables; Sweat; The Night Riders; Tobacco farmers; Trunks; Warehouses; Whiskey; Woods

Subjects: African Americans--Crimes against.; African Americans--Housing.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism; United States--Race relations.

00:30:41 - African Americans and The Night Riders

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Partial Transcript: What did--how did black people feel about The Night Riders?

Segment Synopsis: African Americans were not allowed to participate in The Night Riders, but if they talked about the Riders, then they were threatened with switches. Larson, the man that Palmer worked for as a child, was found to be a member of the Riders and was made to pay.

Keywords: African American opinions; Approval; Black people; Dissent; Gossiping; Larson; Payment; Segregation; Switches; Talking; The Night Riders; Threatened; Threats; Whipping

Subjects: African Americans--Crimes against.; African Americans--Religion.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Lexington (Ky.)--Race relations.

00:32:50 - The family home from the full beginning to the solitary end

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Partial Transcript: So you stayed here and lived in this area--are, are--was this, up until you stayed in that house up until 1930-something on, on, on that--on Lord--

Segment Synopsis: Palmer recounts how they bought the house that he still lives in. He made sure his children got an education, unlike him. He retired early in 1962 to take care of his wife who was blind and had hurt her knee and her hip.

Keywords: 1962; Adopted daughter; Adoption; Black mail clerk; Blindness; Broken hip; Broken knee; Buying a house; Care; Education; Family; High school students; Homeowners; Hospital bills; Injuries; Mail clerk; Moving; Pension; Railroad; Reading; Retirement; Sickness; Social Security; Trigg County (Ky.); Wife; Working; Writing

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Housing.; African Americans--Marriage.; Older people; Wages.

00:38:56 - Church and leisure / Storm hits the farm

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Partial Transcript: I, I'm the oldest member of our church here.

Segment Synopsis: Palmer talks about his church and what they did for leisure when he was growing up. He ends with telling a story about a bad storm that hit the farm. The conversation circles back to Palmer's mother and maternal grandparents.

Keywords: 4115; 4208; Acres; African American churches; African American communities; Baptism; Barns; Black churches; Black people; Card games; Churches; Community; Cutting wheat; Doctors; Families; Fun; Gates; Hopkinsville (Ky.); Horses; Mothers; Moving; Mules; Physicians; Playing cards; Prayers; Rain clouds; Recreation; Stables; Storming; Talking; Trigg County (Ky.)

Subjects: African American churches; African American churches--Kentucky; African American clergy.; African American families; African American physicians; African Americans--Agriculture; Family histories.; Family--history