T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History
Mount Zion and Willow Springs Churches
Vera Payne by Doug Mungin, 2015.
DOUGLAS MUNGIN: What church did your family go to? VERA PAYNE: My father’s family went to Mount Zion, which is the oldest church in this area. And my family went to a church that was a branch of Mount Zion, which is Willow Springs. Mount Zion is a hundred forty plus years, and Willow Spring is a hundred five years old.

MUNGIN: Do you know why the church . . . Why they split off?

PAYNE: Because my . . . Vincent side of the family lived in the Willow Spring area and that was . . . Dad married into the family. So eventually Dad migrated to Mom’s church.

MUNGIN: Okay. And who were some of the leaders in the church?

PAYNE: Dallas Moss . . . Jim Johnson. Ervin Perkins. They were some of the early leaders. And at Willow Springs there was a Walter Smith, and Joe Vincent. Walter Smith and James Moss, I think, were kind of wealthy at that particular day and time in standing. Walter Smith had a sugarcane mill, and Jim Moss apparently had a mill or something that he ran, and then later the post office that he kind of sublet to someone else. We didn’t know that term at the time, but that was what was going on.

MUNGIN: What happened to the mills?

PAYNE: Eventually I guess they just closed down with modernization. Times changed.

MUNGIN: Like what year . . . Like what timeframe was that?

PAYNE: The sugarcane mill that Walter Smith operated phased out probably when I was about four or five years old. And the reason I say that was, he kind of became like my pal because I was the oldest grandchild on that side of the family and sometimes he would take me to go to what was called his branding pen, and brand cows and feed his horses and whatever. And I remember walking along his old mill. And then on this end of the retrospect, I can more or less remember just church services and whatever. But there was an old, old resident called Pete Moss at the time that lived in what we would call today a shanty. And I guess he was very happy and content. He had a lot of dogs. His wife name was Virginia. And he would travel back and forth by wagon. And I was just a little girl at that particular time. Probably twelve years old at the oldest. Twelve, thirteen at the most, see. And it just so happened that the property that my home is sitting on, I purchased that from, I think his brother, or one at least of his ancestors.
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