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Willie Nickens interviewed by Inez Ramsey and Vicki Lloyd, 1978 July 17, 20, 24 and 1979 February 14

Identifier: SdArch 5. File 5-3

Scope and Contents

Records the reminiscences of Virginia "Willie" Josephine Nickens (b. 1895) of Harrisonburg, Va., school teacher and maid for twenty years at Madison College. Describes childhood incl. experiences driving cattle thru town for Siebert family; "switching" (discipline); riding horses, downtown stable, local race track; roller skating, double decker sleds; bear and snake stories, fortune telling by Bob Rawls, the half-breed Indian blacksmith; heating with pot bellied stoves, lighting by kerosene lamps; early education (Effinger, Lucy Simms schools -- knew about Tin Cup Alley school, teachers Fannie Wilson, L. Simms and brother), training at Hampton Institute and meeting President Taft; cooking (quince honey, apple butter); gardening; home remedies; Madison College (Newman farms, first men on campus, soldiers, three sorority houses at Fine Arts bldg. where she was maid); stories of Indians in Bath County where her mother was born, also in Rockingham County (dug a tunnel from Hilltop to spring at Court Square in Harrisonburg); Red Hill and Zenda; churches (AME church and the missionary from Africa, John Wesley Methodist Church, Rev. Ronald Colley); Court days; various town personalities and black businesses (barber shops, black restaurant owner, first black policeman, Joseph Williams, the Olympian, R. Earl Johnson); her family (incl. story of her mother, born into slavery -- father the master, later escaped and caught), her children; mixed race families, voting privileges; and relations between blacks and whites over the years. Recorded at the home of Mrs. Willie Nickens, Harrisonburg, Va. on July 17, 20, 24, 1978 and Feb. 14, 1979. Tapes for four interviews. Note that some tapes contain blank sides: 5-3f (side 2 of tape 3); 5-3h (side 2 of tape 4); 5-3i (side 1 of tape 5)


  • 1978 July 17, 20, 24 and 1979 February 14


Access Restrictions

Oral history is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Copyright interests have been transferred to Carrier Library.


From the Collection: 0.46 cubic feet (7 folders, 15 audiocassettes, 15 cds)

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Location of Interview

The home of Willie Nickens in Harrisonburg, Virginia.


Repository Details

Part of the James Madison University Libraries Special Collections Repository

820 Madison Drive
MSC 1706
Harrisonburg Virginia 22807
(540) 568-3612