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Picture Window: 1937

Picture Window: 1937

April 1937. "Girl at Gee's Bend. Descendants of slaves of the Pettway family are still living very primitively on the plantation." Wilcox County, Alabama. Medium format nitrate negative by Arthur Rothstein for the FSA. View full size.


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Gee's Bend

Joseph Gee, a planter from Halifax, North Carolina established in 1816 a plantation, and named the place for himself: "Gee's Bend." Mark Pettway bought Gee's Bend from his relatives, Sterling and Charles Gee (nephews of Joseph), in 1845 to settle a $29,000 debt. A year later, Pettway and his family moved there in a caravan with a hundred or more slaves. Except for one cook, the slaves literally walked from North Carolina to Gee's Bend. The 10,000 acre plantation retained "Gee" for its name but the name of each of the slaves became "Pettway", a name that has prevailed in Wilcox County until the present day. Today, if someone from Gee's Bend is named Pettway, he or she is a descendant or married to a descendant of those Mark Pettway wagon-train slaves who walked from North Carolina. That is why many of the black tenants Arthur Rothstein photographed (as Annie Pettway Bendolph below) were named Pettway.

By the way, the Resettlement Administration reports of the 1930s already emphasized ... the unreliable ferry.

This, and more can be found here and here.

In the "Will of Mark H. Pettway, Wilcox County, Alabama - July 1860," you can read which of his properties he would "give and bequeath" [un]to his beloved Wife, his eight daughters (depending on their civil status: married, unmarried), his son and his grand children. Among his daughters there was one who seems was married, but practically divorced, because her legacy is given in trust to his brother in law and son in law "to have and hold the same in trust for the sole use & benefit of my said daughter and her children free from the control and management of her husband." Among the properties were: fifty head of sheep, ... negroes and their increase (by name, among which: Peter No 14, Ginny & carpenter tools, Altimare -the ugly- Bett, Bathemia Dempseys and his black Smith tools), ... the gold watch usually worn by myself ... and a gold watch known as the watch with the gold face.

Fine Shot

There are so many fabulous photos on Shorpy, but once in a while one really stands out. This is one.

Girl in the window

I am amazed almost every day by the quality - and qualities - of the photographs. This one reminds me so much of Andrew Wyeth.

Proud face

Proud face the girl has, I like the picture!

The ironing is delicious!

Wow, how ironic is it that the "window" to the house is covered by an advertisement for Cellophane.

[Yes, delicious ironing. Must be the starch. - Dave]

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