Jeff Johnson, from microfilm of Resource Material for Mississippi History, Kemper County film, Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
Submitted to the site by Darleen Brown.
Aug. 18, 1937
I mar'ied in, well, some say it's Kemper. Me an' her separated. Yes'm, we had chullun, Mistis. I don't zactly - well, you count 'em, Mistis, while I calls 'em off. Dey was Jeff an' Liza - dat's two, aint it? - an' Sarafin an' ... an' Carter. How many is dat, Mistis? Fo', yes'm. My wife was name Sally an' she was ... An Queen Esther! Did I call off Queen Esther's name, Mistis? Well, dey was her, too. Five chullun, yes'm, dat's right. Dey don' none of 'em live in Mer-ree-dian.
I stays out here in dat old two-story house on thiry-fourth Avenue with old Mis' Jane Scott. She aint dere though; she stay in Memphis. I can' walk aroun' now 'count of my rheumatis'. I supe-un-tends 'round dere at de He'p-Mer-Se'f Sto' on de corner where you sees me a-settin' by de side do'. I picks up slops an' trash an' dey pays me a little somp'in' an' I buys me my little somp'in'-t'eat.
I'se a Missionary Baptis'. I was baptise up in Alabama out a piece frum York. I was baptise in de creek, yes'm. Sometimes, if dey's a meetin' close 'roun', I goes, but I can' get far now 'count of my rheumatis'.
Dey is too much change now days. I used to be a mighty cotton-picker. I seen de time when I could pick six hund'ed pounds a day, plenty days; an' I could cut five cords of fo'foot wood a day an' put hit up too. Mr. John Lutz - you knows him - he turns me off onct 'cause he say I cut too much in one day. He say hit ud break de Fus National Bank to pay me. Course, he 'tended that for a joke but he aint never took me back.
But I got white folks. Mr. Big Boss Williams an' Mr. Casper Phillips, dey is de two bes' white men ever lived. Big Boss he gimme two bits mos' ever' mornin' an' Mr. Casper he gimme dis here fer my rheumatis' - yes'm, Sal'patica, he call hit - somp'in' like dat.
Jeff was born in 1862 and his family was removed to the Johnson country place where the father and mother worked in the field. Jeff stayed here until he was about fifteen, then drifted, finally landing in Meridian.
Jeff Kemp - State Coordinator
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