And Mama’s daughter’s name Hattie, Hattie Mae. That’s who they named me after. I asked them why they named me Hattie after a dead person. “What, you don’t like Hattie? Well, I just thought ’twas nice.” And after I looked at the picture, I said, “Well, she was pretty.” Well, since Jack knew her, and he wanted her picture, so when I come up here, I give him the picture. And he kept it. They thought she was white, wanted to know what old white girl was that. And the frame was out on, right on whatchacallem street now where Mildred live, it was out there on her back porch, and I saw the frame, and I asked something about the picture, what happened to the picture, and she said she didn’t know what happened to it, it was some of Daddy’s stuff he brought here. I said, “Well, I know ’cause I gave him the picture, that frame where was sitting right out on the back porch.” He wanted it, and it was Bessie — not Bessie, but Hattie, Mama’s daughter Hattie. I said, “’Cause they grew up together.” “I don’t know who that old white girl was. I don’t know what happened, … he brought the stuff when he got sick, you know. Waited on him, you know… And he died, so…” Never did find out what ever come of the picture. They thought ’twas a white woman.
Mama never talked about her. But A’nt Nina, she would tell everything. Mama got mad with her, said, “You always bringing up something. You don’t know what you talking ’bout.” So she’d go behind — Mama wouldn’t want her to tell things. And she never did say, well, if she said, I wouldn’t have known him, but I never did ask her who Hattie’s daddy was. I figured he was white. Because she looked — her hair and features, you know, white.
It’s hard to see, but here lies the first Hattie Mae. Born just seven months before their marriage, Jesse Jacobs Jr. adopted Sarah Henderson‘s daughter as his own. (I need to clean this stone next time I’m in Dudley. I’m ashamed I left it like this this time.)
Interview of Hattie Henderson Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson; all rights reserved.