Oral History Of (Jessie) Willis Keith
Interview conducted by Cindy Hall on December 8, 1997, for Professor
Tom Forgey's class in Arkansas History at Southern Arkansas University.
The interview took place at Keith's home in the Sharman/Bussey community
near Taylor, Arkansas, and was part of "Golden Reflections," an
intergenerational project organized by Nancy Bailey of the Area Agency on
Aging of Southwest Arkansas, Inc. The transcript below is an excerpt of
this taped-recorded interview. The original audio tape is archived at Magale
Library at Southern Arkansas University.
"The focus of this oral history account is to present the frame
of mind in the southwest Arkansas area in early 20 th century rural America.
Focus will be placed upon rural racial relations, World War II, and home
life. Mr. Willis Keith is my uncle by marriage on my father's side of the
Kauffman family. He is a life-long resident of the Sharman / Bussey community."
- Cindy Hall (CH): Was a midwife present at your birth?
- Willis Keith (WK): No. A doctor. Dr. A.W. Keith. He was my second cousin.
- CH: How many siblings do you have?
- WK: 2
- CH: What years were your siblings born?
- WK: My oldest brother [Hubert] was bom 5 years before  and my
younger brother [David] was bom 5 years after me .
- CH: Where exactly were you born? (specific location)
- WK: Well, I don't know how to give it. In Columbia County, I live about
6 or 8 miles from where I was bom. In the southern part of Columbia County
south from here. Go up to the crossroads towards Hwy. 160 going into Taylor
in the Sharman community. Go to the crossroads south about 6 miles.
- CH: Is it still standing:
- WX: Oh, no. It's not still standing, but you can tell it was a home
place. It's been done away with.
- CH: Where did you attend school?
- WK: Sharman country school. Sharman and Bussey schools consolidated.
When I quit school I was going to Bussey. It was close to the cemetery,
the old house is still there but it has been remodeled. It is now the Baptist
parsonage where the old school was. The Bussey school, I know where the
building or the houseplace is, I know where the old house was. The old
well is still there. You go over there west from here and hit the highway
and go straight across [northwest]. You go down to there and you can tell
where the school was.
- CH: Sharman was a town?
- WK: No, it was a community.