Dad used tell me about Ms. Annie Wheeler and our family's history with her. I heard bits and pieces through the years but finally got him to tell me the whole story!
"Ms. Annie Wheeler was Fightin' Joe's daughter. When he died, she inherited all his land and his plantation, and she controlled it... Daddy and 'em wouldn't do nothin' without Ms. Annie's approval......I mean nothing! She named all the kids and everything! Course, I was scared of her as a bear cuz I'd hear everyone saying, "Oh, Ms. Annie ain't gonna like that!". But see, Daddy and 'em didn't tell her that they were moving... She had no idee... Ms. Annie Wheeler considered Daddy to be the very best sharecropper that she had... He worked on her plantation. Course, you know what a sharecropper is? You are able to live in their house and on their property rent free, but they get a third or a fourth... When you raise cotton or corn or produce, if they want it, everything that's raised on that land they got a third or fourth... And as best I remember, she got a third. Sometimes, cause they would have so much they wouldn't take that, but I remember that Momma used to can tomater soup for Ms. Annie ... She liked that.. Stuff like that ya know...
But, uh, in '42....because we moved to Moulton when I was in 3rd grade and that would have made me 7....I was born in '35....it was in '42... The War had just started... Willie Owens had moved to Moulton away from Wheeler and Willie and Daddy, and their wives, was real good friends... They came down, and I was a little ol boy... I wanted to know everything so when the grown-ups was talkin I would sit and listen....kinda like Josh does you know... I'd sit and listen. Well, Willie said, "Travis, you need to get away from this. You need to buy you a farm in Moulton. You need to get away from this. You won't never have nothin' as long as you work for Ms. Annie Wheeler. You'll be a sharecropper. You won't never have nothin'. You can buy you a farm. And I know where there's a farm is... You wanna go see it?" Daddy said, "Willie I don't have no money!". Willie Owens was on the board of directors for the Federal Land Bank, and he said, "Travis, I'll go on the note with you and you can buy this farm. Its a fine farm. Its the Warren place. Go look at it. You and Ider go look at it.". So they did. It was 160 acres about a mile and a half from Willie's place. I had never seen Momma and Daddy so keyed up and happy about something... Now that was in the fall of the year, and Daddy bought that farm. We had a 20 year note on that farm, and we paid it off in 5 years.
I won't ever forget it as long as I live. We loaded our stuff up on a pick-up truck, and Dan and C.B. had already carried away the cultivators and lot of the farm stuff. They hadn't told Ms. Annie yet. Well, Momma and Daddy went by, I think they owed her a little money and paid her off, and told Ms. Annie they were movin. Aw Lord, she had the awfulest fit I've ever heard. She talked to Momma and told her how sorry our family was and how much she had done for our family over all these years. She told what a bad bunch of...my Mother cried from the Wheeler Plantation to Moulton. I wont never forget it. I've never got over it. Ms. Annie, I don't view her like a lot of people do, cause I remember how she hurt my mother. It didn't bother Daddy, cause he knew how she was...it just rolled off his back, but it hurt Momma. She liked Ms. Annie. She thought she was a good person, and she respected her. She thought the feeling was mutual. I guess Ms. Annie felt betrayed. Maybe they should have told her earlier what they was doin, but they were afraid of her."
And so the Parker Family Farm was born.