By Walter Edward Christian

By Walter Edward Christian free pdf ebook was written by Nancy Goodban on June 09, 2005 consist of 80 page(s). The pdf file is provided by home.comcast.net and available on pdfpedia since May 15, 2012.

when shiloh comes by walter edward christian dedicated to l’chaim – to..celebrations, school, and medicine. shiloh was a very poor community until..to put up with the conditions of oppression and segregation. walt...

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By Walter Edward Christian - page 1
When Shiloh Comes By Walter Edward Christian Dedicated to L’Chaim – to Life! copyright 2002
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By Walter Edward Christian - page 2
Preface Walter Edward Christian was born in Longview, Texas on March 24, 1922. He grew up in Shiloh, a small African American community in east Texas founded by emancipated slaves after the Civil War. When Shiloh Comes is based on approximately 12 hours of taped interviews with Walt during 2000- 2002. The tapes have been transcribed and edited by his widow and step-daughters. Walt also wrote two stories of his childhood that fit into the narrative. The community of Shiloh was established by Walt’s great-grandfather Randel Christian and Randel’s half-brother Butch Christian after the Civil War - they bought a few hundred acres of land in Texas at 25 cents an acre from Gid Christian, the plantation owner. The book covers the early years, including the families, church, holidays, celebrations, school, and medicine. Shiloh was a very poor community until about 1929 when oil was discovered. This transformed the community – not always for the better. The book discusses how the oil boom came about and its impact on the community. In World War II, Walt, like many other young men, joined the Army and went off to fight in World War II. He was with the 1954 Ordnance Depot and Supply, stationed in England and then in France for the Battle of the Bulge. The Army was segregated. African-American soldiers had white officers, and Walt discusses the different treatment of the black and white soldiers. After the War, these young soldiers came home changed. They had fought for their country and grown up, and were not willing to put up with the conditions of oppression and segregation. Walt attended Wiley College, a black college in Marshall, Texas, on the GI Bill, and participated in a strike to improve educational conditions. He graduated from Wiley College and received his Masters degree in Business Administration from Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico. After completing his education he moved to California and taught school for 29 years in Hayward until his retirement. After retiring from teaching, Walt became a successful artist and sculptor. His art has been exhibited in several local art galleries and museums as well as in other states. In addition to his love for art, he also enjoyed golf, fishing, and gardening. Walt passed away on September 9, 2002, a week after completing these memoirs. He is survived by Mary Jane Christian, his wife of 30 years, his children Walt Christian, Jr. and Carmen Christian, his step-daughters Jean Bjerke, Nancy Goodban, Sue Koon, and Janet Goodban, four sons-in-law, eight grandchildren, two sisters, a brother, and many friends. The family hopes that Walt’s story will educate and inspire. We also recognize that this story is based on Walt’s memory and oral history - there are missing pieces that others can add to this wonderful story. Please contact [email protected] if you have questions or other information to share. See http://home.comcast.net/~whenshilohcomes for the online version.
By Walter Edward Christian - page 3
Introduction I want to show the young people where they came from, and how people struggled to get to where we are. I want them to know that they sprang from someplace, they came from somewhere. You don’t have to hang your head down because you’re a person of color. You don’t have to be someone else either, but can be you, just as important as anyone else. Changing your color doesn’t make any difference. Be what you want to be. You don’t have to be bitter, you don’t have to get revenge. As I look back and see the road I’ve traveled, I want to see my footsteps and see somebody back there reading my tracks. Walter Edward Christian July, 2002
By Walter Edward Christian - page 4
Table of Contents Purpose ..............................................................................................................................................................1 Chapter 1. The Building of Shiloh..............................................................................................................2 The Story About Shiloh................................................................................................................................2 Shiloh’s Creation............................................................................................................................................3 Butch and Randel Christian .........................................................................................................................7 The Surrounding Communities.................................................................................................................11 The Church ..................................................................................................................................................16 Chapter 2. My First Recollections...........................................................................................................20 Communication ...........................................................................................................................................20 Fun.................................................................................................................................................................21 School............................................................................................................................................................23 Desegregation ..............................................................................................................................................25 Chapter 3. Medicine .....................................................................................................................................26 Aunt Liza ......................................................................................................................................................26 Chapter 4. The Pre-War Years...................................................................................................................29 Discovery of Oil ..........................................................................................................................................29 1928/1929 ....................................................................................................................................................29 Prosperity and Community Building ........................................................................................................34 The End of the Oil Boom..........................................................................................................................36 Chapter 5. The War Years...........................................................................................................................38 World War II................................................................................................................................................38 The Battle of the Bulge...............................................................................................................................45 The Parties....................................................................................................................................................47 The Segregated Army..................................................................................................................................49 Chapter 6. The Post-War Years.................................................................................................................51 Wiley College and the Early Civil Rights Movement.............................................................................53 Shiloh Today ................................................................................................................................................60 Afterword .........................................................................................................................................................64 A Personal Tale..............................................................................................................................................65 I. Old Blue and Queen ...............................................................................................................................65 II. The B. J. Boys .........................................................................................................................................69 III. 1929 ........................................................................................................................................................70 IV. The Boom..............................................................................................................................................73 V. Building the Community.......................................................................................................................75
By Walter Edward Christian - page 5
Purpose The purpose of my story is to point out that there were positive things going on in the Black community -- with well meaning neighbors that are thoughtful, kind and loving in spite of slavery, wars and riots. To take a good hard look at the Black community and see some of the positive aspects of the past, present, and future. What do you see and read in your newspapers? What do you see and hear on your TV about the Black communities through this nation: poor housing, run down neighborhoods, drug abuse, murder, rape, drunkenness and prostitution are the tidbits that make the news. So you would conclude that there is no love, caring, or sharing in the Black communities simply because most of the news shows some black dude face down with some law enforcement officer standing over him. How are you to know when the Black non-newsmaker is doing positive and constructive things? Especially when Blacks are separate from the mainstream of society. If you do not live in a Black neighborhood, what do you care if the inhabitants eat each other up or not? Why should you be concerned if they all have AIDS? Why should you care if half of the Black community starves? If you are not Black and get all of your information from the media, you would be somewhat hard pressed to consider the Blacks as humans. On the other hand, if you consider Blacks as humans there would be some trace of a kinship - a brother or sister, whole or half. The blacks are the brother and the sister denied. It is not my purpose to sell to you the idea of brotherly love -- If you have love in your heart you have it. If you do not have love - you have not. Until there is love - there shall always be conflict, wars, riots, strife and confusion. When Shiloh Comes © 2002 Walter Edward Christian Page 1
By Walter Edward Christian - page 6
Chapter 1. The Building of Shiloh The Story About Shiloh Somewhere in Texas, between Little Cypress River to the north and Sabine River to the south, East of Big Sandy Creek and West of Caddo Lake, there once was the thriving community of "SHILOH," though it was known to few outside of its boundaries. You could also say it was located south of East Mountain, north of White Oak, and west of Seven Pines. I’m not sure if Shiloh was a name of a famous battlefield east of the Mississippi, or whether they adopted the name from a biblical story about Shiloh. That is the name of the community in which I was reared. Shiloh was a little black community. None of the people could read or write, so a lot of history was just handed down by word of mouth and they didn’t have any dates or anything. Most of us in the community were related one way or the other. I’m telling the story that I heard word of mouth from my parents, grandparents, uncles, and members of the community who just felt like talking – and I was always very curious to talk with people. The story was told to me time and time again about how the slaves who founded Shiloh had moved from somewhere in Virginia to Texas by oxen, mules, and horses – with all of the livestock and domestic fowl: chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys and pigeons. They came as the slaves of a Danish planter named Gid Christian who gave them the name Christian. He had quite a number of slaves, and some of those in the building of Shiloh were Randel Christian, who was my great-great- grandfather, and his half-brother Butcher Christian. It was passed down by word of mouth that after they were freed, Randel and Butcher Christian spearheaded the purchase of several sections of land of the plantation. They were then joined by the other clans, paying 25¢ per acre for the same land that they had cleared, sprouted and farmed when they were slaves, long before the Civil War. Each clan had many sons and daughters, with an average family consisting of 9 to 12 offspring. How Shiloh Got Its Name My sister Muriel says that according to ancient biblical writings, Shiloh translates to mean Tranquility. She says Shiloh was an ancient village of central Palestine northwest of the Dead Sea. In the Old Testament, it was a meeting place and sanctuary for the Israelites and the site of a tabernacle where the Ark of the Covenant was kept until the capture by the Philistines. Shiloh was Israel’s first capital and was the title of Christ (Genesis 49:10) When Shiloh Comes © 2002 Walter Edward Christian Page 2
By Walter Edward Christian - page 7
Shiloh’s Creation Shiloh was organized around the Christian family and the former Gid Christian plantation. Just after the proclamation of the freeing of the slaves, the slaves of the Christian family in Texas had to have a place to live. They already knew the land, and so they decided they would purchase the property. In those days, perhaps sometime after 1836 when Texas became a state, you could have a neck of land for 12 cents an acre. When Shiloh was established, probably in the 1860s, the Gid Christian family sold the land for 25 cents an acre to the former slaves. It was just the Christian family slaves that purchased that section of the plantation where the black quarters were involved, with enough land to survive. As far as the land was concerned, it took in several sections of land, that was part of his plantation, a section being approximately 500 acres. It was a huge amount of land. At least a mile and a half across. The plantation covered the southern part of Upsure County and northern part of Gregg County. We used to cross the county line every day, because our houses were pastured in Upsure County and we lived in Gregg County. I don’t know how many years had transpired from their settling in Texas until slavery was abolished. They remembered when they moved from Virginia to Texas, but didn’t know exactly when it was, since they weren’t educated. It might be recorded somewhere in Virginia or Texas, but I don’t know. My great-grandfather Randel and his half-brother Butcher were the main founders of Shiloh and were given credit by all of them that started the community. Frank and French Christian were also involved. Their sons and daughters and sons-in-law were grown men and women at this point in time. They established the community when they were older. Their kids were grown up. The Jones, Andersons, Allens, and Boyds married into the Christians and were also early members of the community. For instance, how the Andersons got involved was when Butcher’s daughter Plina married Isaac Anderson. There were maybe 100-200 people who lived on this land. The families that maintained the land paid taxes to keep the land. Most of those people ended up owning their own land in the community of Shiloh, and it was mostly ex-slaves. There were no sharecroppers on this land. For example, Randel had several daughters and a couple of sons. Randel and Butcher each originally had maybe 500 acres each, and their sons and daughters were dealt 150-200 acres eventually, sometimes when there was a marriage, or inheritance, etc. When the Jones married into the Christian family they had that amount of land on that side of the community, and those on the west side of the community, like Frank and French, their sons and daughters took care of that part of it, and the east part of it was Randel and Butcher’s portion of the land, and the Jones’ took care of the eastern section of the land. There were quite a few members at first, but they began to fade out. The sons and daughters were able to divide up the land into portions that they could have. Julie, Plina, little Richard, Henry, and all of Butcher’s sons and daughters, they had land, through inheritance or marriage. I think Randel was in his late 40s at the time of the emancipation of the slaves, and I think someone said that he lived to be 80 years old. Randel had several sons and daughters. My grandfather, whose name was B.J., was his youngest child. B.J. was born before emancipation, before 1865, but I’m not sure exactly when. When Shiloh Comes © 2002 Walter Edward Christian Page 3
By Walter Edward Christian - page 8
My father, Tommy, was born in 1893. One of my father’s brothers was 6 years old when the slaves were freed, and went on to read and write, but his older brothers never felt comfortable learning to read and write. This was true in many families, not just my father’s. Neither my father nor his two older brothers could read, but his two younger brothers were able to read a little bit. There were not many public schools in those days, and there was no money for tutors. To have survival skills was very important, that was a prerequisite to survival. There wasn’t much emphasis on education. There were some Christians that were white, and I only realized this when I moved to town in the late 40’s, early 50’s. My initials were W.E. and this other Christian was W. (William) H., and he lived in the white community of town. The possibilities are that there were a lot of relatives that were not claimed by both sides. These were devout, religious people, and there was no fighting over the land. There was much harmony in the community. Their survival was too important for them to be fighting. They had to fight the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), so they were more together than a lot of communities, because they protected each other. It was a fairly self-sufficient community. When I came along, they owned their own cotton gin, and I remember seeing some scraps and such that were left there. I didn’t see the cotton gin itself, but the building was there. A lot of these slaves were brick masons or artisans, some made harnesses, some were blacksmiths, not just field hands. There were a lot of skilled slaves that did all the work, because the “wagon mechanics” made spokes, hubs, bellows, and there were people who did leather for belts. I don’t know what Randel’s skill was. Most everybody considered most of these guys to be just farmers, and they were off picking cotton. The plantation had to be run; somebody had to do the dairy, somebody had to groom the horses, and somebody had to do smithing. These plantations were self-sufficient. They didn’t have to use much outside help other than social. The plantation was the main thing, by the slaves. Some of them were very skilled. After the Civil War, when the property was just bought, some slaves were allowed to join the Union Army, but I don’t ever remember hearing about black soldiers in the Rebel Army, so when it was over, the slaves had the crops in already, and in January or so, in ’63 when emancipation became effective, they didn’t know about it until June 19, 1865 (“Juneteenth”), because of communication and a conspiracy of silence. At that time, all the crops were “laid by” and all the cultivation had been done, and all they needed to do is harvest. Anybody can harvest. In February, March and April is the “earn” season, when everybody plants. Then the crops are harvested in June, July and August, when the stuff is brought in. Juneteenth Juneteenth dates to June 19, 1865 when Union Army General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, Texas and brought news of freedom to the 250,000 slaves in Texas, almost two and a half years after President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Declaration which had become official January 1, 1863. Newly freed slaves celebrated their independence day with music, prayers, and feasts. Juneteenth provides the opportunity for renewing family bonds, honoring ancestors who survived slavery, sharing joy, and celebrating culture. Juneteenth has always been a major holiday for African Americans in Texas and became an official state holiday in Texas in 1980. It is also celebrated in other states where freed slaves and their descendants moved after the Civil War. When Shiloh Comes © 2002 Walter Edward Christian Page 4
By Walter Edward Christian - page 9
Juneteenth Proclamation Emancipation Day celebration June 19, 1900. PICA 05476(Austin City Library) Juneteenth celebration in Eastwoods Park, 1900 (courtesy of Tary Owens/Austin History Center) When Shiloh Comes © 2002 Walter Edward Christian Page 5
By Walter Edward Christian - page 10
I’m sure, when they heard on June 19 th , they celebrated their freedom, probably by having a big feast, and the whole community had a Texas barbeque. Everyone brought pigs and whatever, and had what we call “dinner on the ground.” They had this feast at the church under the trees, because that was the only meeting place at the time. There were benches and tables, and the whole community came. They had food and all kinds of meat, barbequed goat, pork, beef, lamb if they had it, just a huge feast. I don’t know how many slaves there were on the Christian plantation, but there were enough to maintain a huge plot of land, because there were thousands of acres. There could have been more than I knew about, because the other black communities around there could have been part of the larger plantation. They had a church, and eventually had a school. I think Butcher was a preacher. I know one of his sons was, and there were preachers all over the place. The name of it was the Shiloh Baptist Church, in the heart of the bible belt. Some of the other communities had what are now the Church of Christ, but in those days they were known as Camelites. In Shiloh, there was just this one church. The community leaders were mostly the local ministers. They were either descendants of Randel or Butcher, so they were the ruling group, along with very civic minded people. They voted and knew majority ruled at Board meetings, where there were the deacons, sisters, lodges, such as the Blue Lodge (Masons), sanctioned by the church. that would see the needs of the people. The women were Heroines, they were the sisters to these Lodges. It was very political. Everybody belonged to everything. You belonged to the Lodge and the church, and if there was a sister or a brother who was not living right, they’d chastise them or bring them before the Board. That’s how law and order was done. That’s how laws were made and enforced. It was like an extended family. All the members, men and women, had equal rights and could vote. Often, the problems were brought up by the women, and the men had to vote on whatever the problems were. Everyone was related to everyone else, and the families were all interconnected. Everyone was practically double-related to everyone, so there was not a lot of animosity between the people, and they got along quite well. For example, if I was to do something wrong at one of my aunt’s houses, she would thrash me, and my parents would probably thrash me again. Shiloh, Texas Shiloh was a farming community on Shiloh Road in north central Gregg County. It was just south of the Upshur county line and was established after the Civil War by former slaves of Gideon Christian. Christian was a native of South Carolina and had moved his family to East Texas in the mid-1850s. By 1860 his estate was valued at $30,000, a lot of money for those days. Gideon also owned thirty-two slaves. In 1870 most of the heads of household in the Shiloh community were black, and only two heads of household were white. Nine heads of household were property owners, and, according to the folk lore histories of local families, the Christian family conveyed land titles to several emancipated slaves. The Shiloh Baptist Church was founded in 1871 and served as the focal point of the community. After World War II the community began to disperse and in the early 1990s only a church and scattered buildings remained. At that time descendants of the original settlers were still living around the area. http://txgenes.com/TxGregg/ghosttowns.html When Shiloh Comes © 2002 Walter Edward Christian Page 6
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