Federal Writers' Project - Life Histories/2018/Fall/Section 3/Mandy Long Roberson

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Mandy Long Roberson
Born1855
DiedUnknown
OccupationHousekeeper
SpouseJoe Goodman, Sam Morrison
ChildrenUnknown, Bessie

Overview[edit]

Mandy Long Roberson was an ex-slave, housekeeper, landowner, and County Home inmate in Yadkinville, North Carolina. Roberson was interviewed by the Federal Writers' Project [1] in 1939.

Biography[edit]

Early Life[edit]

Mandy Long Roberson was born around 1855[2]. As a baby, Roberson and her parents were sold to the Larson family near Edgeville in Guilford County, North Carolina. Her mother and brother were bought by slave speculators from the Larson family and were sent to St. Louis, Missouri or New Orleans, Lousiana. After her family was sold, Roberson never saw them again.[3]

Adult Life[edit]

After emancipation, Roberson stayed with the Larsons as a housekeeper. She was also a housekeeper and cook for "well-to-do" white families. Roberson met her first husband, Joe Goodman, who worked as a cotton factor, selling crops from the factory. Goodman and Roberson had two kids. They split when Roberson had an offer to work for her Uncle Robert in Atlanta, Georgia. After the divorce, their youngest child, Bessie, died. In Atlanta, she met and married Sam Morrison. They lived together in Spruce Hill for fifteen years until Morrison cheated on Roberson. Roberson moved back to Atlanta where her uncle soon died. He willed Roberson his five-lot property. [4]

Roberson moved to Mineral Springs, Arkansas after her doctor suggested mineral water baths for her arthritis. She moved back to North Carolina after four years and lived with distant family. After moving back to North Carolina, Roberson hired a lawyer to take over the five-lot property. The lawyer "wa'n't honest" and Roberson gained no money from the sale of property. Roberson retired to the Yadkin County poorhouse. Her death date is unknown. [5]

Social Issues[edit]

Separated Families[edit]

During slavery, many masters did not allow slaves to marry because it was a binding contract. Marriages among slaves would not allow slaveowners to separate them when necessary.[6] Children had a 50% chance of being split from their parents. The small amount of married slaves had a 10 to 20% chance of being separated.[7] Only one-third of children lived on plantations or farms with both their mother and father.[8] Over 900 advertisements from freedmen searching for family were posted between 1865 and 1900 in African-American newspapers.[9] Some of the black newspapers were The Christian Recorder, The Colored Tennessean, and The Colored Citizen.[10] A digitized project called "Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery" sponsored by Villanova University found that out of 915 "Information Wanted" ads, only two were successful.[11]

Poorhouses[edit]

The poorhouse originated in England during the 1600s.[12]During America's early years, poorhouses were built for the disabled and elderly. The poorhouse, a form of government aid, was for those who could not afford housing. Those who lived in poorhouses were called "inmates."[13] Poorhouses were built to be unattractive to the able-bodied.[14] The conditions inside the houses were unsanitary. However, not all conditions were bad. According to historian Ruth Wallis, many women returned to the poorhouses after leaving.[15] Poorhouses were more popular before Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.[16] Many families during the Depression could not support elderly family members. In 1929, there was an influx of elderly people moving into poorhouses.[17]By 1935, 50% of elderly people were in poverty.[18] However, by the end of the Great Depression, many poorhouses closed due to an increase in government aid.[19]

References[edit]

  1. Folder 359: Mandy Long Roberson (interview), in the Federal Writers' Project papers #3709, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  2. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Crisp, Georgia, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
  3. Folder 359: Mandy Long Roberson (interview)
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Steven Mintz, Digital History. Accessed October 11, 2018. http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook_print.cfm?smtid=2&psid=458.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ari Shapiro and Maureen Pao, "After Slavery, Searching For Loved Ones In Wanted Ads." NPR. February 22, 2017. Accessed October 12, 2018. https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2017/02/22/516651689/after-slavery-searching-for-loved-ones-in-wanted-ads.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Erin Blakemore, "Poorhouses Were Designed to Punish People for Their Poverty." History.com. https://www.history.com/news/in-the-19th-century-the-last-place-you-wanted-to-go-was-the-poorhouse. Accessed September 24, 2018.
  13. Kevin C. Fleming, MD, Jonathon M. Evans, MD, and Darryl S. Chutka, MD. "A Cultural and Economic History of Old Age in America." Mayo Clinic Precedings 78, no. 7 (July 2003): 914-21. October 20, 2011. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025619611626955. Accessed September 24, 2018.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Erin Blakemore, "Poorhouses Were Designed to Punish People for Their Poverty."
  16. Ibid.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Ibid.
  19. Ibid.

Bibliography[edit]

Blakemore, Erin. "Poorhouses Were Designed to Punish People for Their Poverty." History.com. https://www.history.com/news/in-the-19th-century-the-last-place-you-wanted-to-go-was-the-poorhouse. Accessed September 24, 2018.

Fleming, Kevin C., Jonathon M. Evans, MD, and Darryl S. Chutka, MD. "A Cultural and Economic History of Old Age in America." Mayo Clinic Precedings 78, no. 7 (July 2003): 914-21. October 20, 2011. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025619611626955. Accessed September 24, 2018.

Folder 359: Roberson, Mandy Long (interview) in the Federal Writers' Project papers #3709, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Mintz, Steven. Digital History. Accessed October 11, 2018. http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook_print.cfm?smtid=2&psid=458.

Shapiro, Ari and Maureen Pao. "After Slavery, Searching For Loved Ones In Wanted Ads." NPR. February 22, 2017. Accessed October 12, 2018. https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2017/02/22/516651689/after-slavery-searching-for-loved-ones-in-wanted-ads.

1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Crisp, Georgia, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.