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Summary of interview with Cecilia Alice Rice Rogers

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  • Cecelia Alice Rice Rogers is interviewed by Lorraine Crittenden on May 20, 1986 as a part of the Western North Carolina Tomorrow Black Oral History Project. The transcript and audio are unavailable for this interview, however Crittenden’s reflections on the interview and fact sheet are available. Born in 1910, Rogers moved from Asheville to Cullowhee to take care of her new husband's children because their mother had died. She discusses her mother's (most likely her grandmother) first child being taken from her and sold during slavery.
  • Interviewee: Mrs. Cecelia Alice Rice Rogers Interviewer: Lorraine Crittenden Date: May 20, 1986 Location: Jackson County Transcript and audio of interview are unavailable. These are the observations of Lorraine Crittenden after her interview with Mrs. Cecilia Rice Rogers. Mrs. Cecelia Rogers came to Cullowhee from Asheville, NC; she is the widow of Mr. Will Rogers. She inherited a large family of children because their mother had died. Because of her warm and loving ways, the children began to call her “Big Mama” she is surrounded by the Rogers who have their own “cove” in Cullowhee. Her husband owned almost 100 acres which he bought many years ago. He supported his family as a brick layer. His work is still standing today in various buildings in Sylva. She was so proud of him, and it was heart wrenching to see the tears streaming down he face as she talked about their life together. When we discussed her life before coming to Cullowhee, she began to talk about her mother who had been a slave in South Carolina. With anguish in her voice, she recounted stories her mother had told her about slavery. The most abhorrent story was the one about her mother’s first child being taken from her and sold almost as soon as she had had the child. After the Emancipation Proclamation, her mother found her way to Asheville and there she married and had seven children, but she never ceased to wonder about her first born. Miss Cecelia had to adjust from life in Asheville, the largest city in WNC, to life in the country. She laughed about this period of adjustments and the lessons she learned the hard way. She loved every minute of it. What a wonderful woman she is! There are not many women who could adjust to a ready-made family of ten children and life in the country with such ease. The pain was in her voice as she spoke of her mother, and in the loss of her husband. She has one brother living today, but her other relatives have passed away. Adjusting to being a widow has been an ordeal for her, but having her children surrounding her has been a tremendous support because she is still “Big Mama” to them. Additional information given: Mother is Alberta Fowler Rice of Spartanburg, South Carolina; Father is Theodore Rice of Belton, South Carolina; Brothers and sisters are Mahalia Rice, Johnny Rice, James Edward Rice, Ernest Rice, William Rice, Isaiah Rice.