Fannie Arzella Mitchell
My name is Fannie Arzella Mitchell and I was born on December 31, 1926 in Tunnel Springs, Alabama. I was the last of fourteen children to Will Ranaldson and Brownie Fountain. My siblings are: Will, Georgia (Tut), Rosa Lee, Mary Sheppard (Mae Shep), Lily, John (Buddy), Ozzie Mae, Elizabeth (Lizzy), Ernestine (Shug), Rufus, Elisha, and Leroy. The first child born to my parents died at an early age, his name was also Will. My oldest sister, Rosa Lee, married before I was born and had a child named Annie who was also born before me. Lily went to college in Mobile Alabama. I walked to school everyday in Rosen Wall. Mary Fountain, my maternal grandmother, was freed from slavery at 11 years of age in Tunnel Springs. I never knew my paternal grandmother but her name was Mary Shepard. My mother never worked outside the house or in the fields because she was sick. She died when I was twelve.
Will my father was a farmer who owned a syrup mill, raised corn, peanuts, cotton and cows. He would take cows to Montgomery Alabama to sell them. He also killed and butchered a cow every Friday and sold the meat to the white folks. The only meat we got at home from the cows was ground beef. Papa never knew how to cook, however he lived a long life having never to go to the hospital and dying at 99 years of age from a stroke.
My brothers and I were in charge of the house. When I came home from School I would get water from the spring, milk the cow and churn the milk. The cow always came to the fence to wait for me. I did all the washing and ironing, cut wood for the stove to heat water and cook. In the house we used lamps because we had no lights and used an outhouse.
At eighteen I moved to Pensacola Florida to do housework and to work in a restaurant. I lived with my sister Tut and her children Samuel and Minnie Lee. At twenty-two I married my husband, Ruben Mitchell who was in the Air Force and stationed at Eglin Air Fore Base in Pensacola. We moved to Fort Bragg in Fayetteville North Carolina where my first, third and fourth daughters (Patricia Ann, Wanda and Ruby) were born. My second daughter Brownie was born in Pensacola. My last daughter Karen was born at Castle Air Force Base in Merced California where my husband was stationed and we retired.
Of the five daughters I have nine grandchildren, one deceased, Marland Fountain, son of my daughter, Wanda. I also have eleven great grandchildren. I am now 92 years of age and am truly blessed.
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