Here is some interesting history about the Ames Manufacturing Company (now closed) in Selma Alabama… written by Bobbie Ames:
“My husband inherited the old Ames Bag Manufacturing Company in Selma, Alabama, at the end of WWII. It was the largest manufacturing plant in the area, and had hundreds of employees who had worked there for many decades. It had awards for the efficiency of the operation and for the race relations, which were always remarkable in those years.This was not true of every business in those days.
The demand for cotton and burlap bags dwindled, and the company was forced to close or to make a transition to other products. Space does not permit me to expound on this remarkable story which has been related in corporate boards over the nation as an inspiration.
Just let me say this: Our Selma and Blackbelt employees unanimously wanted to learn new methods of manufacturing and they remained true to my husband’s business, as they learned new skills of making fiber and plastic containers of every kind imaginable. They made the first miniature Morton Salt and Accent cans for one example. The very first “Wet Ones” were designed in part by Jack Green, our on-sight ngineer. I never knew if he had his PE or not. He was a genius. These were fast changing skills for a work force that never finished college. They had the character to love learning new skills, and they shared Prayer and Scripture over the loud speaker. They had an open door any time day or night to the “Boss’s office.” We all shared moral absolutes and family values. I prayed with many individual mothers who worked there. There was no racial divide in that workforce.”
Source: “The Battle for the Minds of Children: American Education at the Crossroads” by Bobbie Ames, Alabama Gazette, 03/01/2014: http://www.alabamagazette.com/story/2014/03/01/education/the-battle-for-the-minds-of-children-american-education-at-the-crossroads/200.html
On September 20, 1979, A F2 tornado hit and that Ames Bag and Packaging Company sustained major damage when the roof and 3 walls of one of the buildings collapsed, causing $25,000 worth of damages. There were no fatalities, 2 people suffered minor injuries.: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/bmx/?n=tornadodb_1979
If you have anything to contribute, please post below in the comments–your resources, web links, stories and thoughts are appreciated!
NOTE: Just discovered my relative Ira Smith worked at the Ames Bag Manufaturing Company in Selma.
Ira Smith (b.1891) m. Alma J. Smith (b. 1897). According to the City Directory, Ira and Alma lived on 1538 Range Street in Selma.
1870 Census Harrell’s Crossroads, Dallas County Alabama
Enumerated August 16, 1870 by SJ Martin, Assistant Marshall
Julia Watkins married Monk Ford, also of Harrells Crossroads, in 1874. The family alternately is recorded as using the last name “FORT”. Monk Fort died somewhere between 1895-1900.
Monk and Julia are recorded as having 9 children: William b. July 1877, Elijah (Elliot) b. July 1879, Pettus (James Pettus) b. July 1884, India (Judie?) b. Jan 1888, Pinkie b. Jan 1890, Daisie b. Sept 1893 and Charlie b. Jan 1894.
I believe James was also called James Pettus, Pettis, and Pettus Ford.
|Age in 1870:||60|
|Birth Year:||abt 1810|
|Home in 1870:||Harrells, Dallas, Alabama|
|Post Office:||Marion Junction|
|Value of real estate:|
The Family Next Door Is:
David Watkins Jr., b. 1844, Georgia, Black, Farm Laborer
Fannie Watkins, b. 1841 Georgia, Black, Farm Laborer
Edward Watkins, b. 1863 Georgia, Black
Clark Watkins, b. 1867 Alabama, Black
Source: Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.
|Head of Household:||Jordan Stevens|
|Age in 1870:||53|
|Birth Year:||abt 1817|
|Home in 1870:||Harrells, Dallas, Alabama|
|Post Office:||Marion Junction|
|Value of real estate:|
Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.
“Having pride in melanin is revolutionary, rebellious. It takes strength and a special type of courage to refuse to compare yourself to what society deems as beautiful which is anti-black, against every drop of melanin on your skin. Stay the course.” – Afro Latina Army: https://www.facebook.com/AfroLatinoArmy
Argentina does not have a recognized Black population, and even the origins of its Black history have been repressed…97% of the country’s population identifies itself as “White”. Where did the population of Blacks go? And what does this mean for descendants of Africans or the Mixed Race population?
From 16th to the 19th Century, millions of free Africans were forcibly removed from their homelands and under horrific conditions sent to the New World as slaves. This forced migration is one of the worst tragedies in human history–known as the “Middle Passage”. An estimated 12 million Africans were brought into Latin America, mainly arriving at the port cities of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, to be sold at auction or sent to plantations, and other places of forced labor, in chains. Argentina is a country built on the bloodied backs of slave labor. During the Middle Passage, hundreds of thousands of Africans were brought into Argentina on slave ships, beginning in 1587. In a second forced exodus, these Africans have been erased from the social conscience of Argentina.
Historical records say the first Africans arrived in Argentina in the 16th century, in the region of Rio de la Plata to work primarily as domestic servants and in agriculture. By the lat 18th and 19th century, the population of slaves had greatly increased that in some parts of Argentina, Africans counted for half the population of regions like Santiago del Estero, Catamarca, Salta and Córdoba. Argentina officially abolished slavery in 1813 buts its practice continued until about 1853, when the Black population began to drastically decline. In Buenos Aires, the population of Blacks was 30% in in 1810, by 1887, that number dropped to a staggering 1.8%
The reason for the decline in African population? Two contrasting set of theories- Historians cite two reasons for the Black “disappearance” from Argentina– war with Paraguay (1865-1870) where thousands of Blacks fought on the front lines, and were killed. Other Blacks fled the country, seeking safety in Brazil or Uruguay.
Due to the increase in the number of Black men, many Black women sought White partners instead, “diluting” the population (or creating an entirely new population!). The Mixed-Race population was not acknowledged as Black because “People of mixed ancestry are often not considered ‘black’ in Argentina, historically, because having black ancestry was not considered proper,” said Alejandro Frigerio, an anthropologist at the Universidad Catolica de Buenos Aires, according to Planete Afrique (“Black Out”).The term “Negro” is used to describe anyone with dark skin, regardless of ethnicity. Or, mixed race people may be identified on a census as “white” or any number of races. It is believed this Mixed Race population with African ancestry may have blended into any number of ethnic groups, and descendants may not know they are Black, “According to some researchers, as many as 10 percent of Buenos Aires residents are partly descended from black Argentines but have no idea.” (Mixedracestudies.org) Alternately, this group was forced into hiding, to the point they shed any connection to their ancestry, heritage and even began to deny being Black.
And, in 1871, an epidemic of Yellow Fever hit Buenos Aires, killing thousands. Epidemics of Cholera followed. Freed Blacks were segregated from society, forced into menial jobs where they earned barely enough to survive, and most could not afford medicine or treatment to combat disease. The unsanitary, cramped quaters of the ghettos increased the spread of disease.
Others dispute historical accounts, saying the government, led by President Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (1868-1874), engaged in genocide against the Blacks. Under the leadership of President Sarmiento Argentina sought to re-create itself as a “white” country, an extension of Europe.
Sarmiento wrote in his diary in 1848: “In the United States… 4 million are black, and within 20 years will be 8 [million]…. What is [to be] done with such blacks, hated by the white race? Slavery is a parasite that the vegetation of English colonization has left attached to leafy tree of freedom.”
Sarmiento also writes, “I come to this happy Chamber of Deputies in Buenos Aires, where there are no gauchos, or black, or poor…”
Many believe President Sarmiento’s oppressive policies which included forcing Blacks into military service at such large numbers that they were literally being killed off at such a rate their population began to vanish. Until slavery was abolished in 1853, owners of slaves were mandated to cede 40% of slaves for military service. Blacks made a large population of the troops–their numbers rising to 65% of military population. Slaves were promised freedom after 5 years of service, though this rarely happened. (“Mixed in Different Shades”). Some slaves were enticed into the military with the promise of freedom, again, that rarely happened. Argentina fought in military conflict and wars from 1864-1870, decimating the population of Blacks.
Another government policy forced Blacks into ghettos, where they would be decimated by disease, mainly cholera and yellow fever, is what caused the drastic decline in population of Blacks. Can you imagine how horrible that would be to suffer in agony, and die from an highly contagious illness that would consume your family, your neighborhood, your community. You be helpless to stop the disease as it claimed your children, your parents, your family…and the lifesaving treatment needed would be denied. This happened to Afro Argentines– the deaths were human lives, people who were real and living, ow gone. The policies were so effective that by 1895, there were so few Blacks in Argentina that the government didn’t bother including their numbers in the census. These are not numbers–these are human lives, families, children, a generation of possibly… murdered through covert genocide.
In the 19th and 20th century, Blacks were encouraged to leave the country through immigration. At the same time, from 1880-1950, a large number of Europeans were migrating into Argentina. European immigrants were welcomed, and given incentives to come to Argentina while non-Whites were discouraged, and kept away.
The Blacks who did remain in Argentina were hidden, and often concealed their identity for safety. Reports also say that Census takers were so opposed to Blacks that they refused to report Blacks on the census, even if they had African features, and instead referred to them by another race, usually White. The African survivors became a forgotten part of society.
There is such strong racial discrimination against Blacks, that even survivors of the genocide will not admit they are Black or have any Black ancestry. Yet the roots of African heritage remain in Argentina’s culture, their language, their dance.. And new generations of Argentina are starting to embrace their Black and/or Mixed Race ancestry, fighting for resurgence of Black Argentinians, proud of their heritage, and willing to publicly proclaim their existence as descendants of Blacks. Some of these organizations include “Grupo Cultural Afro,” “SOS Racismo,” and”Africa Vive” , all have helped to revive the African heritage of Argentina, and raise awareness about their existence as a real, living People. There are also Afro-Uruguayan and Afro-Brazilian migrants who increase the African culture, and have joined with these organizations and others, to share their heritage.
My blog is about finding who you are through connecting to your ancestry, it’s about giving voice to our Elders, and having pride in our family and culture.. I support the Afro Argentines! You are Beautiful! Your Voice is powerful. Your history and culture has value, purpose..it brings color and vibrance to this world. You are a treasure. Hold your head high with pride. Tell the stories to your children, pass down your songs, your recipes, your dance, all that has been passed down before you… Let Africa rise in your blood again, reclaim your heritage. You honor your ancestors, and you give a blessing to your children, to the future generations in doing so. xoxo Lynn xoxox
“African Descendants in Argentina (Afro-Argentines)” by Trip Down Memory Lane, 10/17/2012: http://kwekudee-tripdownmemorylane.blogspot.com/2012/10/african-descendants-in-argentina-afro.html
“Afro-Argentine Wikipedia”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afro-Argentine
“Black out: How Argentina ‘Eliminated’ Africans From It’s History and Conscience” by Palash Ghosh (International Business Times), 06/04/2013: Blackout: How Argentina ‘Eliminated’ Africans From Its History And Conscience.
“In Buenos Aires, Researchers Exhume Long-Unclaimed African Roots” by Monte Reel (The Washington Post), 05/05/2005: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/04/AR2005050402125.html
“Mixed in Different Shades: Argentina” by Administrator, 07/22/2010: http://www.mixedindifferentshades.net/south-a-central-america/argentina.html
Groom: Monk Fort
Bride: Julia Wadkins
Date: December 5, 1874
Place: Dallas County, Ala
Family Search.org: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FQFR-H2T
“Alabama, Marriages, 1816-1957,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FQFR-H2T : accessed 16 Jul 2014), Monk Fort and Julia Wadkins, 05 Dec 1874; citing reference ; FHL microfilm 1289634 V. H, J.
1880 Census: Monk and Julia Fort, Harrell’s Crossroads: http://inourhearts.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/1880-fort-family-harralls-road/
1920 Census: Julia Fort Family (the date of birth matches, as does the statement that her parents are from Georgia, as the ages/names of the children. The only difference is that Elijah is listed as Eloid and Elliot):http://inourhearts.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/1920-united-states-federal-census-julia-fort-ford-family/
Harrall’s X Road Precinct – 1880 Census – Dallas County, Ala
Harrall’s X Road or Cross Road later became the town of Harrell. Harrell is located 10 miles west of Selma off Highwy 80 and Highway 45. In 1895, it had a post office but no railroad service. For more information on the history of Harrell and it’s founding family, visit Harrell Archives: http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/HARRELL/2010-06/1276289653
In 1880, the population of Dallas County was recorded as: 48,433; population in 1890, 49,350.
White, 8,016; colored, 41,334. Land prices range from $3 to $25 an acre.
|Laborer||Harrles Cross Roads, Dallas, Alabama||abt 1856||Alabama||Self (Head)|
|Julia A. Fort(surname may be Wadkins)||Laborer||Harrles Cross Roads, Dallas, Alabama||abt 1857||Alabama||Wife|
|Harrles Cross Roads, Dallas, Alabama||abt 1877||Alabama||Son|
|Elijah Fort (this may be Elliot Fort/Ford b. July 1879)||Monk,
|Harrles Cross Roads, Dallas, Alabama||abt 1879||Alabama||Son|
|Birth Year:||abt 1856|
|Home in 1880:||Harrles Cross Roads, Dallas, Alabama|
|Relation to Head of House:||Self (Head)|
|Spouse’s Name:||Julia A. Fort (Both parents born in Georgia)|
|Neighbors:||See FORT Family Below|
**** ALSO LISTED ON THE SAME PAGE… ****
|Julia Fort||Keeping House||Harrles Cross Roads, Dallas, Alabama||abt 1824||Parents from Virginia||Self (Head)|
|James Fort||Laborer||Harrles Cross Roads, Dallas, Alabama||abt 1856||Alabama||Son of Julia|
|Lizzie Fort||At School||Harrles Cross Roads, Dallas, Alabama||abt 1861||Alabama||Daughter of Julia|
|Homer Fort||Lizzie||Harrles Cross Roads, Dallas, Alabama||abt 1879||Alabama||Grandson|
Name: Julia Fort
Birth Year: abt 1857
Home in 1920: Mobile Ward 7, Mobile, Alabama
Relation to Head of House: Head
Marital Status: Widowed
(NOTE: Husband Monk Fort/Ford, see here: 1880 Census: Monk and Julia Fort, Harrell’s Crossroads: http://inourhearts.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/1880-fort-family-harralls-road/)
Father’s Birthplace: Georgia
Mother’s Birthplace: Georgia
Home Owned: Rent
Able to Read: Yes
Able to Write: No
Julia Fort -Head
Homer Taylor- b. 1902, son, Laborer Ship Company
Rosetta Taylor- b. 1905, daughter-in-law
NOTE: The 1910 Census lists Homer Taylor as a grandson
Robert Allen- b. 1882, Son-in-Law, Laborer Garage
NOTE: Robert’s wife was Mary Fort/Ford she died in 1919 in Selma)
Homer Burke- b. 1901, Lodger, Mailer (?) Hotel