Interviewer: William M. Cash
Interviewee: Mrs. James Hand
Date: November 29, 1973
This is William M. Cash of Delta State University interviewing Mrs. James Hand, Jr. of Rolling Fork, Mississippi. Today is November 29, 1973.
Dr. Cash: In another tape we have covered the Moore family as a pioneer family in Rolling Fork. In this tape, our concentration will be on you, Mrs. Hand, and Mr. Hand. Would you give us some biographical information concerning your parents perhaps when they came to this section.
Mrs. Hand: My parents came to Mississippi as bride and groom in 1897 to live on and manage the family plantation of Baconia. I was born on November 30, 1898, on the Indian Mound just south of Rolling Fork, on the Mound Plantation, which our uncle, Daniel Lawson Moore, owned and where he spent the winter months. When I was one year old we moved back to Kentucky where my sister, Lillian Dudley Moore, and brother, Dudley Bowman Moore, Jr. were born. When I was we moved back to Baconia where we remained except for the summer months because of the mosquitoes and malaria where we went back to Kentucky each summer until the plantation was sold to a Mr. Holland and later to Edgar Bagget.
I’d like to tell you something about our early school training. We had a one-room school just below the house on Baconia. Miss Neal of Vicksburg was our teacher. And then after that we rode our horses to Rolling Fork to the schoolhouse which now is called the Baggett Apartment. When the roads were good, and never real good, because in the summertime they were about six inches deep with dust and in the wintertime there was at least eight inches to a foot in mud. We would drive our horse and buggy some days when the weather was good and when it was real muddy sometimes the axle would drag the mud was so deep. The in the spring when the overflow came we would have to come in a motorboat from Baconia to the Mound place, Mound house and stay there with my uncle from Monday until Friday when Pap would come back and get us and take us home for the weekend. When we were staring there in the water over all the land, we walked up the railroad to the courthouse where we had school.
Dr. Cash: What do you remember about your subsequent schooling, especially perhaps your schooling in Kentucky?
Mrs. Hand: Yes, when I was a junior in high school here my sister and I were sent to Kentucky to Kentucky College for Women at Danville, Kentucky. This school later became affiliated with Centre College, and we were there and when I finished there I came back to Mississippi. In the meantime my family had moved from Baconia to Edwards, Mississippi, because the p plantation had been sold at that time. So, I came back to Rolling Fork to visit a friend and go to a dance, and this friend introduced me to a young man she thought I would like to meet by the mane of James Hand, Jr. and it was a nice meeting.
Dr. Cash: I might ask you, perhaps this is a bit personal, but did you have a tremendously long engagement or was it shortly after this that we had the marriage?
Mrs. Hand: Well the engagement lasted a very short time. We were engaged in quite a short time, and we were married in April of the following spring and I moved back to Egremont and lived there for five years before we built a home in Rolling Fork. Our older son, James Hand III was born at Egremont.
Dr. Cash: Now, from my understanding, originally your husband was involved in the timber business. As a struggling young couple did you find this to be a successful venture?
Mrs. Hand: Well, not for long. The floods came. He and his father after Jim came home to Purvis after World War I acquired six thousand acres of timber east of Egremont and had a sawmill, hardwood sawmill, but the following spring the water from the overflow was seventeen feet deep at the mill, so it did quite a bit of damage. Not only to the mill but to the pocketbooks.
Dr. Cash: Certainly coming from that tragedy and adversity in the early years of the difficulty in timber, Mr. Hand has become a very successful businessman, but he’s become even more than that. He’s become a great Mississippian as well as a great American. He’s been extremely loyal to his community, to his state, and his achievements and record of service to his fellowman are certainly well-known to the Mississippi area; and we would just like for a person who knows him best to share with us some of his achievements and some of his honors and certainly all of these have been well deserved.
Mrs. Hand: James Hand, Jr. was born in Purvis, Mississippi on July 30, 1893. He attended the University Military School at Mobile, graduated there in 1911, and went to the University of Missouri for his B.S. degree in Agriculture in 1915. He was president of Phi Kappa Psi social fraternity and inter-fraternity council, Gamma Sigma Delta honorary agricultural fraternity, Chi Chi Chi inter-fraternity president. He was a field artillery officer in training school at Camp Taylor, 1918, and a second lieutenant reserve, Board of Supervisors, 1924-1928, Chairman, Official Board in the United Methodist Church, and also was a Sunday school teacher for many years. He was one of the founders of Delta Council and president, President of Mississippi Economic Council, State Chamber of Commerce, Progressive Farmer Man of the Year in Agriculture in Mississippi, University of Mississippi Man of the Year, Advisory Council to College and University Presidents, Advisory Council to Mississippi Department of Education on Vocational and Technical Education, Committee of 100, Chandler – School of Theology at Emory University, National Agriculture Advisory Committee under Eisenhower, Mississippi State Committee – Agricultural Administration, former director of Mississippi Power and light Company, director of the Bank of Anguilla, member of the board of Mississippi Levee Commissioners, former director of First Mississippi Corporation.
Dr. Cash: Omicron Delta Kappa, honorary, Mississippi State University.
Mrs. Hand: Yes, and former member of Mississippi Forestry Commission, former president of the Rotary Club; board chairman, treasurer, six farm equipment dealerships; President of five farm corporations; Board Chairman of two finance corporations.
Dr. Cash: Certainly, this is a most imposing list of achievements, but there is something else that certainly contributes to a man of his stature. I think perhaps, you, as a person who knows him best might just describe what traits does Mr. James Hand, Jr. posses?
Mrs. Hand: I don’t think I have the vocabulary to do it justice, but he is a generous, sympathetic, loving and warm person; a wonderful husband and a wonderful father.
Dr. Cash: Certainly a very important phase of community life would be the activity of the women. For example, Mrs. Hand, we might talk a little bit about the Methodist women, some of their projects, your Sunday school, WSCS. Would you share with us some of the activities of the ladies of the community regarding your church?
Mrs. Hand: Well, we have had a very active group of women throughout the years. Just mow in the last three or four years we have not been as active as we might have been although we are always interested in finding out what we can do to help anyone in distress or ill in the community, and especially when the tornado came through the Delta and so many were made homeless and injured. We did all we could and our fellowship hall of the church was just turned into a storage place for all kinds of clothing or anything anyone had to spare to help and really it was amazing how much we could do at that time. And speaking of the tornado, there were so many injured who were brought to the school gymnasium and wrapped in blankets and talked and fed and taken care of there until they could be placed in the proper places. Our society does try to think of anyone ill in the community and visit them and take them flowers, something that they might enjoy, and some refreshments.
Dr. Cash: Do you have separate Sunday schools here for ladies and gentlemen or do you have the mixed classes or perhaps do you have any of what we might call church cooperation with civic clubs, things of this nature?
Mrs. Hand: Well, yes we do. I would like to say that for years the WSCS served the Rotarians a dinner in our church fellowship hall using our kitchen of course so that was something that we could do for the community and also to make a little money f or the society. We do have in the Sunday school a number of classes. Of course, the very young and then the others and on up, and a class called the fellowship class where the young married and on up have their classes together and they like it so well, they don’t like to come on to the older classes. We are having a hard time getting some new members but we do have the men’s class and also the women’s class and we have some mighty faithful teachers in both and in all the classes.
Dr. Cash: Taking a slightly different approach here, do we find garden clubs for example in Rolling Fork?
Mrs. Hand: Oh yes, years ago we organized a garden club. In fact, it was organized right here in this living room and as usual when anyone takes a lead to do something of the kind they get a good job. I was made first president. And, many others have served very faithfully. To name a few, Mrs. Harry Carpenter, Mrs. George Cortwright, Mrs. Blaine Barrier, Mrs. Cauley Cortwright, Mrs. Dudley Moore, and many others and the garden club is still very active and under good leadership.
Dr. Cash: Do you have literary clubs or activity clubs of this type in the Rolling Fork community?
Mrs. Hand: Years ago we organized a literary club, the Delphian Club. We met in the residential hotel when Mr. and Mrs. William Gibbons had the hotel and Mrs. Gibbons was so gracious to have us meet there each month because she had a nice large room for us. And then we have of course bridge clubs and a Rook club years ago. We started playing…
Dr. Cash: Do you have and active P.T.A.? Certainly it should include both parents but often times P.T.A. is identified with women’s activities. I’m certain that P.T.A. here perhaps has had excellent leadership and participation from the ladies of the community.
Mr. Hand: Yes, we do have an active P.T.A. Years ago when we needed to make some money one thing I remember we did was to have a womanless wedding and if you want have something that will draw a crowd and make some money just have one.
Dr. Cash: Certainly we have not intended to include all of the numerous contributions that the fine ladies of the community have made but just in summary could you perhaps think of anything that we may have omitted?
Mrs. Hand: Yes, I’d like to mention during the war we had a room in the courthouse where the ladies gathered several days a week to make and wrap bandages and to make other things. I can’t recall just what they called them that the soldiers needed to carry the things in, little kits I suppose, and so we did work there very faithfully.
Dr. Cash: Mrs. Hand, I have noted a plaque of Mr. Hand’s service as president of the Delta Council. Seems that I also recall that James Hand III also served in that capacity. Am I correct?
Mrs. Hand: Yes, so far as I know they are the only father-son presidents of Delta Council and our son-in-law Rives Carter is vice president just now.
END OF DOCUMENT