Days Gone By - stories from the past

Gee’s Bend in Wilcox County, Alabama at the start of the Federal Government Resettlement Program in 1939

In 1937, the United States Government Resettlement Program purchased the old Pettway plantation and two adjacent farms in Wilcox County, Alabama and divided the land, then rented it to the tenants. During the 1940s, many families at Gee’s Bend bought their farms from the government for an average of $1,400 each.

In 1937, Arthur Rothstein took photographs of Gee’s Bend and citizens in the area which can be seen here.  Marion Post Wolcott returned in 1939 and took the photographs of the community after the Resettlement Program had helped the residents for two years. The only way to get to Gee’s Bend was to cross the river on the ferry operated by the 80-year old man in the photographs below.

Ferry to Gee’s Bend in 1939

ferry 1939

Ferry in Water

1939 Ferry in water

1939 Ferry on side

Tying ferry 1939

1939 Steering the Ferry1939 steering

1939 Ferry and car1939 Ferry and car

The African American who was operating the ferry was almost 80Black almost 80 running ferry years

Resettlement Project Managers arrive at Gee’s Bend
ferry project manager 1939

Many changes had taken place in the community of Gee’s Bend in the two years since the federal government began to assist the residents including a new school building, additional teachers and new courses of study as seen by the photographs taken in 1939 by Marion Post Wolcott

Gee’s Bend School photo taken by M. P. Walcott 1939

Gee's Bend School photo taken by M. P. Walcott 1939

Noon hour at new school building in 1939

new school building

This is a photo of the first grade, showing extremes in ages of pupils. Gee’s Bend, Alabama.

School – class in anatomy and hygiene

Below: the school’s junior cooperative store receives help and instructions in cooperative enterprises from a manager of the big project cooperative store. Gee’s Bend, Alabama

The school's junior cooperative store receives help and instructions in cooperative enterprises from a manager of the big project cooperative store. Gee's Bend, Alabama

And new homes for many….

Nolan Pettway in 1939 home

Nolan pettway 1939 house

See more photographs of Gee’s Bend


ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Pioneers: A Collection of Lost & Forgotten Stories

Stories include; The Yazoo land fraud; daily life as an Alabama pioneer; the capture and arrest of Vice-president Aaro nBurr; the early life of William Barrett Travis, hero of the Alamo; Description of Native Americans of early Alabama including the visit by Tecumseh; Treaties and building the first roads in Alabama.

See all books by Donna R. Causey

ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Pioneers: Lost & Forgotten Stories (Volume 3) (Paperback)

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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 All her books can be purchased at 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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