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Twenty-four Whealton families report real property valued by them .t $7,100. The property is in Maryland and is as follows:
ESTIMATED VALUE OF REAL ESTATE OWNED BY NEGROES OF WHEALTON, 1901.
A careful analysis of the Sandy Spring property holders was made with a view to discovering, if practicable, whether the fact of two or more generations of freedom has seemed to influence the Negroes of Sandy Spring in the matter of property getting and property keeping—the economic basis of civilization,” and the conclusion reached was that “not proven” seemed the soundest verdict. With regard to Litwalton, it seems unnecessary to make such an analysis, as the number of freedmen in the community prior to 1865 was small.
Of those born in Litwalton and over 36 years of age, 19 former slaves and 4 freemen own property, and of those under 36, 1+ are property holders; of those not property holders, 9 are former slaves and 2 are freemen over 36, while 5 are under 36.
Of the property holders born out of Litwalton, 7 are former slaves, 2 are freemen, and 3 are under 36; of those not property holders, 9 are former slaves, 1 is a freeman, and 2 are under 36; 5 are not reported. Thirty-seven of the 19 property holders are native born and 12 are outsiders; 16 of the 28 not owning property are natives and 12 are immigrants. Of 44 born slaves, 26 are property holders and 18 are not; of 9 born free (and over 36 years old), 6 are property holders and 3 are not. Seven report inherited property, 3 over 36 (2 of them freedmen's sons) and 4 under 36. There seems nothing in these figures indicative of the acquisition of land by those who have always been free, in comparison with former slaves. A number of those classed as slaves were slaveborn during the war, but they were freed while mere children and never really knew any other than the life of the freedman.
There are said to be many trust deeds against the properties of the Negroes for purchase money still unpaid.
The group life of the Litwalton Negroes appeared to the investigator to be particularly lacking in organization. In spite of so many of them owning their homes and of their being able to earn the greater part of their living within two-thirds of the year, their economic con
on is not good. The opportunity for economic success is too great, the means of obtaining it too easy, hence the lack of success. Except in the case of a very few individuals, there seems not to be sufficient force of character to rise above the mere provision for present needs. With land at $10 an acre, homes that could have been and should have been paid for by the work of two or three seasons, remain unpaid for at the end of many years. These people hold and practice the faith that “Man wants but little here below, nor wants that little long.”
There is an Odd Fellows lodge among them, which owns a small hall, formerly much used, it is said, as a place of church meeting and for other social purposes. Some meetings are still held there. So far as could be learned, there is a complete absence in Litwalton of those societies and beneficial orders which form so important an element of the social life of Farmville and of Sandy Spring, and which serve a valuable economic as well as a good social purpose. There seems to be a decided habit of the men to herd together. This habit would probably result naturally from the exigencies and intervals of the oysterman's life, combined with the sociable nature of the Negro.
There is a special cause for the disorganization of a part of the social life of the Litwalton Negroes. This cause has been in operation for the last 4 years, and came partly through their church. The strong denomination among these Negroes is the Baptist. A very few reported themselves as not belonging to any church; none as belonging to any other church than the Baptist. In the same way, the Whealton Negroes, Marylanders, are all Methodists. The Baptist church of Litwalton was the great center of the Negro social life, as the Baptist church is in Farmville, and as the Methodist church is in Sandy Spring. The congregation included practically the whole of the community in addition to about as many more from the outside.
About 5 years ago a site was selected just beyond the bounds of the neighborhood for a large new church, and the building was begun. Just about this time a determined and active movement against the sale of liquor was begun in the county and in the neighborhood.
In a very short time the fight became bitter and resulted after a sharp campaign in the adoption of local option for the county. The occasion of the fight for local option, so far as the Litwalton Negroes were concerned, was that the oystermen and others were in the habit of congregating in and around the barrooms and stores where liquor was sold, and of drinking and idling, to the great loss of their money and character and to the disgust of the community, for frequent quarrels and fights scandalized and annoyed the neighbors and passers-hy. The pastor of the Litwalton Negro Baptist church took this matter into his church, where he met with ardent opposition, sides being taken and maintained with much heat. The virulence of the campaign left many antagonisms and heartburnings among friends and kinsfolk, white and black, and this bitterness had not been soothed by time when the investigation was made, about 4 years after the election. So bitter was the feeling that it is said to have even invaded the jury room, and partisanship was shown by jurors for or against a
wet” man or a “ dry" man, as the case might be, to the perversion of justice and equity. ''pon the Litwalton Veyro church the effect was disastrous. The building itself was still unfinished, just where it had been left 4 years before, except that it had taken on the weatherbeaten air of premature decay seen on new but neglected houses. The congregation was divided into two almost hostile camps, one of which had practically ceased going to church, though they were talking in a vague way of organizing another congregation. With the cessation of their church-going they had given up the social life connected with their periodic gatherings and had found nothing to put in its place.
In the meantime, according to the testimony of both whites and blacks, local option, unsupported by public sentiment, had proved a complete failure so far as the quantity of liquor sold was concerned, as the following recital will show, and a movement was on foot to have the question resubmitted to the popular vote at the spring elections of 1901. There were said to be about 25 or 30 barrooms in the county at the beginning of the prohibition campaign, 5 of them within the limits of Litwalton. Two of these Litwalton barrooms, it was said, never stopped the sale of liquor at all, and the others soon resumed it as “speak easies.” About 2 years after the vote 5 other speak easies” were in operation, just doubling the number of previous barrooms in the neighborhood. The same thing was true of the county, where about 75 “ speak easies” were flourishing in the place of the 25 or 30 barrooms previously existing. The majority of these “speak easies" had United States liquor licenses in order to avoid trouble with the Government authorities. The State authorities were ignoredi. During the 4 years of the existence of the law one man had been made to pay a fine of $20 for violation of the law; one trial for a "club license" had resulted in acquittal; a number of indictments had been tied before juries, which failed on one ground or another to convict; the sale of liquor was said to be increasing all the while, and the State was losing at least $2,500 a year in licenses on the former basis, besides the money expended in fruitless trials. These were some of the arguments used by those circulating the petitions for resubmission, which petitions were being numerously signed by the Litwalton Negroes.
An attempt was made to ascertain the effect of this condition of affairs upon the Negroes of the Litwalton community. The whites who were questioned were unanimous in the opinion that the existing law was not saving the Litwalton Negro's money nor improving his ... 15. Probably an opportunity for wider inquiry would have
ht out contradictory opinions from other whites. The Negroes
were divided in opinion as to some points of the controversy. They all agreed that at least as much liquor was sold to Negroes now as had been sold under the old system. In spite of this practical failure some thought that the general result of the present law was better than the former one because there was less noisy disorder and disturbance of public peace around the barrooms than formerly, since the barkeepers for their own sakes kept the drunken Negroes within doors and treated them carefully to avoid the annoyance and expense of possible trial and conviction; because the drunken Negroes were not literally kicked out of doors and “treated like dogs" by the barkeepers, as had formerly been done under the old law; and because there was not as much actual open drunkenness as formerly. Other Negroes thought that the general effect of the present law was bad, because it failed in its chief aim; because, under it, the Negroes were being taught a wholesale disregard of all law by the impunity of the violation of this law; and because they were taught the practice of public lying by the flimsy evasions of the requirements of the law practiced by the liquor sellers and by their own participation in these frauds. These things, they thought, were as bad or worse than any additional amount of drunkenness that might have existed under the former law.
They all agreed, when pressed for an answer, that this controversy had broken up that part of their former community social life which centered in their church.
Those who are not familiar with what his church and its social associations mean to the Negro are referred to the description of it given in the Farmville report. (a)
There is another aspect of the matter. The habit of congregating at the barrooms was a form of social life in itself. It was a kind of rude club life in which the Negro men wasted the money that should have gone to home and family. This rude club life was not stopped by local option, but it was put under the ban of the law. How far this was resented by the Litwalton Negroes, if resented at all, the investigator is unable to say.
In any case, with or without such local causes as the local-option struggle, the group life of Litwalton seemed to be of a very unorganized kind. This aspect of Litwalton is probably typical of the semipredatory life of the oyster tonger, though suflicient data are not at hand to form the basis of an authoritative opinion on the subject.
With regard to the peculiar hopefulness on the part of the people themselves," found by the Farmville investigator to pervade "the whole group life of Farmville Negroes," the present investigator must report that, as at Sandy Spring, he did not find such hopefulness pervading Litwalton. Some of the younger and thrifty men of Litwalton were hopeful and were of opinion that the Negroes of their community were bettering their condition; a number were noncommittal on the subject, either because they had no opinions or did not choose to express any; and the older Negroes were emphatic in their opinion that the younger set might be able to read and write better, and might be worth more money than their fathers, but that in respect for the rights of others, in manners, and in character they were distinctly degenerates. In this opinion the whites of the community seemed to coincide.
a See Bulletin No. 14, January, 1898, page 35.