Davis Martha




Davis Martha




Davis Martha


Bell Ledford

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Iris Karp


Vidalia, Georgia


Joan Hutcheson


Bill Ledford (BL): First question, are you ready?

Martha Davis (MD): Yeah, I am.

BL: Is it my understanding that this quilt was crafted by several women of the Johnsons, all from the lower Montgomery County area as part of the project to raise funds to remodel and convert an abandoned schoolhouse into a community house? Is that the way you remember it?

MD: Yes, yes. That, that is definitely how I remember that and--

BL: Can you elaborate on how it started or the genesis of--that's the trouble with them having you try to establish a date or even a close date.

MD: I think they started talking about this somewhere around 1936 or 7. I can't go into that. I know that the quilt had the date 1939, but it took a while to collect the money to get the quilt made before they--and do the embroidery before they ever started quilting the quilt and getting it ready, so I think it started probably in 1936 and in 1936 I would've been ten years old. I think my grandmother and I made the trip to Richmond Hilton, the Ford Plantation probably early that year, sometime early in that particular year. And my understanding, it's hearsay mainly, is that she had contacted him, and he-she wasn't--did not expect him to be down there at that time, but she must have been expected later when she took the cake. She liked to bake, and she baked fruit cake.

BL: Your grandmother's name was--

MD: Hessy Johnson. She was Mrs. W. A. Johnson.

BL: Mrs. W. A. Johnson. Hessy, Mrs. W. A. Johnson

MD: And that, that was the beginning of [inaudible.] for selling. At this time there was no raffling anything. We were asking people if they wanted to put their name on the quilt and if they paid a dime, they would get their name on the quilt.

BL: That's what we need to hear. But then it was later raffled.

MD: Later raffled.

BL: When it was completed.

MD: Uh-huh. Later if was raffled when it was complete. They did several projects and the quilts, I think maybe there were two, the quilts were the first of the projects they did that I remember when they were remodeling that old school. We still use the old school.

BL: And you use it for what?

MD: We use it for weddings, for receptions, [someone sneezes.], birthday parties, family homecomings, [someone coughs.] reunions.

BL: I'm sorry. [coughs.] Excuse me.

MD: And the Long Pond Trust Association has a homecoming there for all the people who were reared there, had relatives there, spent time there for years and years back. And they come, once a year we go the third Sunday in October for a big homecoming.

BL: Did you go to that school?

MD: No, I didn't. My mother did.

BL: Your mother did, and she was--what was her name?

MD: Her name was, she was Gertrude Johnson, married a Currie. She went to that school and all her brothers and sisters went there at some time. It was not there when my grandfather came along and he went to Auburn, Georgia to boarding school way up near--

BL: Where is that?

MD: Way up in north Georgia near Winder, a long way at that time.

BL: Yeah, yeah.

MD: And he was there at boarding school because he was old enough that he was part of early Montgomery County, and there was no other school available.

BL: The school now is located in Long Pond.

MD: In Long Pond and Long Pond was once, at one time was McBride, Georgia. Now it is Long Pond, Georgia and has been all my life.

BL: Do you know how many, if there were raffle tickets per se and if--

MD: I have no idea. I think the raffle tickets sold for a dollar each, but I have no idea how many were sold.

BL: But to get the name on there, the signature, family names and all--

MD: That was ten cents.

BL: Ten cents.

MD: Ten cents a name.

BL: Henry Ford

MD: Paid a whole dollar for his, to put his on there. I guess it's easier to mail a dollar in the mail than it is a dime, and he was being generous with us.

BL: You [chuckle.] still believe he came to Long Pond.

MD: I don't, I have no recollection of that. My father was the Ford dealer in Uvalde. I can't seem to think I should have if he did. But I have no recollection of him coming there.

BL: Was the quilt given a name or title or anything like that?

MD: Not that I know of. It was all green and white. They used the same colors, cut the pattern out of the green and white and the embroidery went on the white squares in green. And some of it was embroidered--those were the name--and some were embroidered in white on green. There was a pattern, but I don't know a name.

BL: I didn't get why the two of them.

MD: I think they sold enough, enough money, got enough money that they could afford to make two and make twice the money on selling the raffle tickets.

BL: One of the quilts is where, in the courthouse?

MD: In Montgomery County Georgia in Mount Vernon. The other one is, belongs to Gail and Peter Johnson, one of my first cousins is grandchild of my grandmother and he is the one who is living in their home now.

BL: Name?

MD: His name is Peter Johnson.

BL: Gail?

MD: Gail. His wife is Gail.

BL: [cleared throat.] Is Gail originally from that area?

MD: Yes, she was. She was a McCrimmons from Mount Vernon and when you trace our lines back far enough the McCrimmons and the Johnsons are related as are everybody else in Montgomery County is just about.

BL: Do you remember the names, any names, of those mothers or grandmothers, sisters or [inaudible.] that--

MD: That worked on the quilt?

BL: That worked on the quilt.

MD: I can name most of the main ones. Long Pond's a little community and it was a group of my grandmother's friends, people her age. I can give you several names. One was May McAllister, Mrs. Mac McAllister, Mrs. Earl McArthur and I can't remember Cousin Irene's [Mrs. Alex Johnson.], her husband's name, but I reckon she was Mrs. Irene Johnson, my grandmother Mrs. W.A. Johnson, Mrs. Bruce McArthur. There was my grandmother's sister, Martha. They were all related in one way or the other. And then there was Irene's daughter Johnnie who lived with them and helped also. Those were the main ones.

BL: But you were part of the [inaudible.], you think?

MD: They let me, yeah, they sort of took me in and let me sell tickets, sell--ask for names and do a little bit of the embroidery. You know the messy ones were mine [BL chuckles.] and some of the quilting. They taught--that's where they taught me to quilt.

BL: You mean some of the names?

MD: Uh huh. When I did the embroidering, that was embroidering the names on the quilt.

BL: Yes, I see.

MD: We'd write them out and then embroider them on there.

BL: Of course, most of the names, most but a lot of the names are from the Montgomery County or the Toombs area.

MD: Almost all of them, almost all, all of them except we have one from Michigan, Henry Ford. [chuckles.]

BL: [chuckles.] Henry Ford. How 'bout that? I like that. [coughs.] That's a good, good work. [coughs.] Are [clears throat.] are there any particular incidents, anecdotes, facts or rumor that might add to the facts of the narrative regarding the quilt?

MD: I'm, I don't know. The main rumor that I'm and I don't disclaim it as being a fact and I don't--

BL: Yeah.

MD: Claim it to be, is that he came through our area during that time and that he had a meal at my grandmother's house. That I cannot--I have no way of verifying and I [inaudible.]. I'd like to think it's so but I can't say it's true. [chuckle.]

BL: Well, I declare. Well, you've certainly done a good job on all these questions. I hope I'm asking the right ones. The thing has been so interesting and I just-- it's hard to tie it all together, really.

MD: Well, it was a real interesting nostalgia and I'm going to [inaudible.] the ladies. Well, the fact that they were so interested in it had other people interested in it. And all the community around thought it was worth--the building was worth saving. And I think if we could get and did get to the records, we may even find that the civilian-oh what was that- CCC [Civilian Conservation Corp.]


MD: CCC corp., that they did some of the work for us.

BL: On the building?

MD: On the building itself. And then somebody, somewhere, and it may have been that same group, donated a number of cots. And the first time I remember going there to a social event, maybe it wasn't a social event, was the Girl Scouts. We had a weekend there and we slept on those--and the cots were used that way. And that was probably in 1939.

BL: Part of the New Deal.

MD: Uh huh. As part of, part of the New Deal.

BL: Well, that's an interesting facet, too. The more you think about it, the more things you remember. [laughs.]

MD: Well, it's, it comes back to you, a lot of the stuff. This was a Girl Scout troop from Mount Vernon/Ailey, and I was a part of that troop. All of us were going to school in Mount Vernon at that time. [BL coughs.] And I don't have any idea how much money they made but they were pleased with their project, happy with their project. And they were the ones that really--every time they had a chance to use the community house, they did. We had some square dancing there, in fact that's another thing we charged for. We had some square dances and you had to pay a dollar to go to the square dance. And we had local musicians with fiddles.

BL: How 'bout that? Wish we could go back and see all of that, hear all of it.

MD: I wish we had some films. At that time nobody ever knew about--had films in theaters but nobody ever made a home film.

BL: Martha, I certainly, Rose and I appreciate you doing this.

MD: I'm happy to do this. I hope--I know y'all will do a good job. I hope it gets some recognition.


“Davis Martha,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 21, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/1665.