I’m so glad ‘Trouble Don’t Last Always’
The focus of this article is a living testimony of a nearly century old African-American Marshall County native. This is Reverend Jones Davis, still able to express his feelings about things that he has experienced during his lifetime. It takes one who actually experienced a situation and climbed a mountain to relate true facts about how difficult it was to reach the top.
Rev. Davis was born July 25, 1918 in Maury County to Annie and George Davis. During the time when he was born, blacks had little or no access to hospitals. Occasionally, a few doctors or a person trained to do medical care would come to your house, provided they had transportation. Jones was born at home, assisted by a midwife. Many babies and mothers died during childbirth, because of not having proper facilities.
Jones was born into a large family. His parents, 3 brothers; Herbert, Thomas and Cordie Lee Davis, 6 sisters; Ida Bruce Frierson, Suvannah Obera Freeman, Hazel Tucker and Frances Marlow are all deceased. He’s blessed to have two sisters living, Willie Mae Norwood and Rachel Bailey.
He attended Park Station School housing grades 1-8. The school bus was near Park Station, a small town east of Columbia. Jones walked 8 miles back and forth to school as much as possible. In the early 1900’s schools were optional and age didn’t matter, especially for black children. It was common to see black children working long hours in the fields picking cotton or stripping tobacco. Black schools received very little assistance from the county. They were issued old, torn and outdated books. Children were sometimes asked to bring old newspapers or Sears Roebuck Catalogs to use as tissue in outdoor toilets. Some parents would donate lime to put in the toilets to keep the odor down.
Children carried their lunches in lard buckets or paper bags. Jones and his siblings usually took their lunch in a basket. His father made baskets and chair bottoms out of hickory bark strips. The lunches consisted of food left from the previous day.
After graduation Jones stayed home and worked on the farm. His family were sharecroppers. During World War II, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the military decided to open the draft. He was not happy about going, but had no other choice. He went to the Air Force and served 29 months. Jones was in India, 75 miles from China when the World War II ended. He was happy to know he would be coming home when his tour ended.
In 1948 he met the love of his life, Ida Mae Primm and got married. To this union 7 children were born, 3 girls; Peggy Davis, Stephanie Davis and Beverly Pigg, 4 boys; Jerry Davis (military retired Navy), Keith Davis (military Army) and Kevin (military Navy). They are also blessed with 13 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. They have been married 69 years.
After returning home from the Air Force and getting married, Jones decided to relocate and move to Lewisburg. Finding a decent job for a black man or woman was almost impossible. Jones began to do odd jobs for different people. Luckily he met the president of the 1st National Bank (R.L. McBride) and started doing different jobs at the bank. He was an excellent worker and was soon hired as a full time employee and retired after 25 years. He remained very active with the VFW and American Legion.
In 1950, Rev. Davis was called to pastor the Fountain Creek Missionary Baptist Church in Culleoka, TN. He pastored 25 years. The black church has been the African-American culture. Religion to the African was life. Our African-American forefathers who found themselves among ships desired to continue to sing songs that told their experiences and included rhythmic sounds, such as: “Go Down Moses,” “Swing Low Sweet Chariot,” “Down By the Riverside,” “Climbing the Rough Side of the Mountain,” “Nobody Knows the Trouble I See” and “Trouble Don’t Last Always.”
Rev. Davis began to climb his mountain nearly 100 years ago. It was rough, but obvious he didn’t give up and continued to climb. Now that it is 2018, I asked him to reveal to me a few things that he enjoyed and does now, that he could not do a century ago. He smiled and said, “I can write a book.” He stated that he can ride a bus or train without going to the seats in the back or stand up, use bathrooms and water fountains without going to the sections labeled “Colored,” sit down and eat in restaurants and not go to the side window to pick up his food, get medical care and use medical facilities, vote, enjoy going to the theater without going to the “Buzz and Roost” to sit. Ten years ago, Jones could truthfully say, without a doubt, that he had reached the top of his mountain, when he witnessed the 1st black man (Barack Obama) being sworn in as President of the United States for the 1st and 2nd time. “God Bless America”
Being a retired school teacher I’ve always had a problem teaching black history. Recalling the struggles of my ancestors are very depressing to me. However, I realize that many issues about black history are not taught in classrooms. I am happy that Rev. Jones Davis is still able to keep memories alive by recalling the things that used to be.