Days Gone By - stories from the past

Gee’s Bend – vintage pictures of residents and the new health clinic in 1939

In 1937, the Van de Graaff family sold their land in Wilcox County, Alabama to the federal government, and the Farm Security Administration (FSA) established Gee’s Bend Farms Inc., a pilot project of a cooperative-based program designed to sustain the inhabitants. A health center and cooperative store and cotton gin were built, along with a new school.


The government built houses, subdivided the property, and sold tracts of land to the local families, for the first time giving the African American population control of the land they worked. A health clinic and cooperative store and cotton gin were built, along with a new school.

During this period, the community also became the subject of several FSA-sponsored photographers, including Marion Post Wolcott and Arthur Rothstein. The photographs below were taken in the health clinic in 1939 by Marion Post Wolcott.

 Waiting in project clinic for examinations and treatments by doctor and nurse. Gee’s Bend, Alabama

 Nurse Shamburg weighing Ira Dencie Pettway’s baby in project clinic. Gee’s Bend, Alabama

 Nurse Shamburg weighing Ira Dencie Pettway's baby in project clinic. Gee's Bend, Alabama

Nurse Shamburg is directing young girls how to make a sick bed in the photograph below.

Nurse Shamburg is directing young girls how to make a sick bed in the photograph below.

Mrs. Daisy Lee Pettway and Rhoda Lee looking at food chart in clinic waiting room. Gee’s Bend, Alabama

1939 Mrs. Daisy Lee Pettway and Rhoda Lee looking at food chart in clinic waiting room. Gee's Bend, Alabama

Clay Coleman shows interest in food chart while waiting in clinic. Gee’s Bend, Alabama

 

1939 Clay Coleman shows interest in food chart while waiting in clinic. Gee's Bend, Alabama

Nurse Shamburg demonstrates care of baby bottles to Mrs. Paralee Coleman and Marie. Mothers have to work in field and children are left at home to care for babies. Health clinic, Gee’s Bend, Alabama

Nurse Shamburg demonstrates care of baby bottles to Mrs. Paralee Coleman and Marie. Mothers have to work in field and children are left at home to care for babies. Health clinic, Gee's Bend, Alabama

Nurse Shamburg and Dr. Dixon (R.E.) examining Susanna Pettway, whose father, Clement Pettway, has been ill for several years with tuberculosis. Gee’s Bend, Alabama

Nurse Shamburg and Dr. Dixon (R.E.) examining Susanna Pettway, whose father, Clement Pettway, has been ill for several years with tuberculosis. Gee's Bend, Alabama

Juanita Coleman, NYA (National Youth Administration) leader and teacher, helps Sally Titus preserve some eggs. Through this activity the girl has bought some badly needed eyeglasses. Gee’s Bend, Alabama

Juanita Coleman, NYA (National Youth Administration) leader and teacher, helps Sally Titus preserve some eggs.

 More pictures of Gee’s Bend Resettlement Program

Vinegar of the Four Thieves was a recipe that was known for its antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic and antifungal properties for years. It was even used to cure the Bubonic Plague. See Thomas Jefferson’s recipe in VINEGAR OF THE FOUR THIEVES: Recipes & curious tips from the past 

 

Vinegar of the Four Thieves: Recipes & Curious Tips from the Past (Paperback)


By (author):  Donna R Causey
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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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9 comments

  1. BC O

    Gee’s Bend is famous for the beautiful quilts created by it’s residents.

  2. As B C O’Brien reported, Gees is renown within quilting circles for the originality and quality of quilts prepared from rags by African American women on the “wrong side” of the river. They and their struggles for recognition is the subject of an off-Broadway play produced 3 or 4 years ago here in Seattle by the TapRoot Theatre. The quilts have circulated the USA in a number of shows.

  3. Mary Margaret Fife Kyser

    We used some copies of these photos to teach history and hand tinting through Wilcox Artworks. The children had a fabulous time as did the grown ups discussing old traditions and methods from Gees Bend

  4. Wendy Craft

    I love reading everything I can about Gee’s Bend Quilters. Awesome history.

  5. Brad Norris

    I took a road trip to Gee’s Bend two weekends ago to cross the Alabama River on the ferry. Beautiful country. Delightful trip.

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