On the morning of Sept. 29th 1866 a very small baby girl was born to Ezekiel Alexander who was born in 1812 and Mary Ann McGahey Alexander who was born in 1826. That little girl grew up as Julia Alexander until 188 when Cowen Lemley Shields came along and on Nov. 7th of that year after a few words by Rev. Miller of Hopewell my name was changed to Julia Shields. My first dark days came before I was 9 yrs. old as then my Father died suddenly leaving me too young to reallize my loss. Still have memories of things that happened during his last years. One day stands out almost as if it were yesterday. There still were wild turkeys and my Father had a blind up in the woods also a whistle of some kind to call the turkeys -- on that day I can still see him coming across the hill with a big turkey hanging across his shoulder. It happened to be one of the
days that two of the old slaves, named Henry and Jean came back on a visit and took up their duties they had left when they were freed -- they always came to visit and work three or four times a year as long as Father lived. Jean dressed and cooked the turkey and rest of the dinner. Another thing I remember so well is I was sent to dry the dishes for Jean -- guess I did not dry them so well for she would pick them up and wash them over -- that went on and on 'till I thought we never would get through. My Father must have trusted Old Henry more than any of the other slaves for when Sherman made his famous march through the South sending out Scouts to steal and destroy he took Old Henry over on a hill -- had him to dig a hole to bury his Confederate money -- told him not to tell any one where they had buried the money.
Not feeling altogether satisfied he listened around the old kitchen that night -- heard Henry say "Listen Marse Zekel took me over on the hill and we buried his money." Father woke one of the older boys and buried it in another place. Sherman's men did not find the money which was used later as "Thumb papers" to keep our books clean but they took one of our best horses and a bale of cotton one night. Father and older boys followed them to Biddleville the next morning where they were camped but failed to get the stolen property back. This happened a year or two before I was born. On Saturdays everything was prepared for Sunday then all were up early next morning and ready to go to preaching at Gilead. There wasent any heat in the old Church of that day but no one stayed at home on that account.
My first school days were spent in little schools near home. When I was 10 or 12 yrs. old Rev. W. W. Orr opened a school in the Session house of the A.R.P. church of Huntersville -- I was one of his pupils -- the room soon became too crowded there so we moved into the church -- the next move was to the new school building just below the church -- the school grew too large there then I moved again with them to a new building on what is now College St. -- the next move into the present building I was'ent there but two of my boys were. In between my school days and marriage beginning when I was 18 yrs. old I taught 2 schools in the Bethel neighborhood -- 1 Private school near home for small children then taught 3 yrs. at Gilead -- 2 months in the Summer and 4 in the Winter.
My Mother died in 1910 and my Husband in 1928. We raised 8 children, have 17 Grandchildren living and 5 Great Grandchildren. My Uncles, Aunts, Brothers, and Sisters have all passed on, have one Sister-in-law living Annie Alexander Brother Houston's widow. Will not try to name my Nieces, Nephews and Cousins for they are many. Here is a good suggestion to put in practice --
"Happiness adds and multiplies when divided with others and also substracts from our own worries"
I have made many footprints in the sands [of] time and hope that the most of them have been pointed in the right direction.
Julia A. Shields
Source: Submitted by Sandra Shields Griffin. Transcription by Susan Shields Sasek
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