Living history: Munford resident, 102, shares stories
by Rachael Griffin
Feb 24, 2013 | 8924 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Essie Mae Boyd, 102, speaks Sunday at Shady Grove Baptist Church in Munford. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
Essie Mae Boyd, 102, speaks Sunday at Shady Grove Baptist Church in Munford. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
MUNFORD – Essie Mae Boyd, 102, sat in a rocking chair in front of the Shady Grove Baptist Church congregation Sunday, telling stories while surrounded by four generations of family.

Boyd was born in Tallapoosa County on Sept. 22, 1910. When she was 6 years old she moved to Talladega County and spent her life working in the cotton fields.

“You just had to work, whether you want to or not, you had to work,” Boyd told the congregation during a Black History Month celebration.

Boyd and her husband, Jake Boyd, were married for 54 years and had nine children. Six of those children are still living and Boyd continues to share her love and wisdom with 29 grandchildren, 44 great-grandchildren and 26 great-great-grandchildren.

Emma Harmon, 65, one of Boyd’s daughters, said she remembers helping her mother take pots of food to workers in the cotton field and working side-by-side with her mother in those same fields when she was old enough. Harmon said her father was a sharecropper, meaning he raised his farm on borrowed land and only received a portion of what was grown. Harmon said eventually her father was able to purchase his own land and built a home on Grant Town Road, in Munford, where Boyd still lives today.

Boyd said she’s lived a good life, even with a few rough times. How she found time to mother nine children after working from sunrise to sunset still amazes her daughters.

Her mother always found a way to turn a bare-looking cupboard into a home-cooked meal, Harmon said.

“Things were hard, but we never wanted for anything,” Harmon said.

Martha Boyd, 69, said she takes care of her mother in the home her father built, but she rarely asks for help. Boyd maintains her independence working in her rose garden at the former site of the general store she and her husband once owned. Both daughters said they hope they’re blessed with the same longevity genes their mother has, which made Boyd grin under the brim of her white church hat.

One of Boyd’s great-great granddaughters, Brooklyn Ball, 5, of Huntsville, said she loves playing at her “Grandma Essie’s” house and eating the cookies she makes.

“Grandma Essie is fun,” Ball said.

Boyd told the church she remembers a simpler time, when she used to make her children’s clothes.

Asked what she remembers about segregation, Boyd shook her head and for a moment, her eyes sad through her round glasses.

“I remember a lot, but I don’t like to talk about it,” Boyd said.

Instead, Boyd talked about the United States moving forward and how happy she is to see Barack Obama as president for another term.

“I’m proud that he’s thinking of us,” Boyd said.

She said she never thought she would see a black president in her lifetime and always looks forward to voting, which she’s done every year she’s been eligible.

Boyd said she doesn’t know the secret to living a long life, but said she always looks forward to her birthday because she spends it with family.

Staff Writer Rachael Griffin: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @RGriffin_Star.

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