Skip to main content

Interview with L.A. "Stick" Nelson, July 10, 2003

 File — Bag: \folklife\prj1014\, Folder: 065_nelson-la
Collection number: PRJ1014-065

Scope and Contents

Oral history interview with L.A. "Stick" Nelson, July 10, 2003. Nashville (Ga.). Fieldworker: LeRoy Henderson. Audio file digitized from cassette tape. Part of the South Georgia Folklife Project at Valdosta State University Archives and Special Collections. Topics include family history and turpentining.

Subjects: Georgia; Oral histories; Sound recordings; African Americans; Turpentine; Naval Stores; Turpentining; Turpentine industry and trade; Nelson, L.A. (1905-2004); Nashville (Ga.); Berrien County (Ga.);


  • July 10, 2003

Conditions Governing Access

Biographical Note

Mr. L.A. Nelson was born in Spring Hill, Georgia on February 26, 1903 [1905?]. Spring Hill was a settlement started by Negroes from South Carolina. These newly freed slaves migrated to an area approximately 6 miles outside Thomasville, Georgia. They cleared a wooded area and established homestead farms on the cleared site. Nelson’s biological father left the family while he was still quite young, but he and his younger sister were reared by his mother who worked several domestic jobs to provide for them. Nelson was introduced to the turpentine business by his stepfather, Mr. Will Brown, sometime between his 12th and thirteenth birthday (1915-1916). His first experience in the woods was as a pine raker.

Nelson’s family moved from woods to woods over a fifty year period. They went from Murphy, Georgia to Fargo, Georgia and on to other locations in Colquitt County. Farming was also a part of Nelson’s experience while turpentining, and he worked the areas of Dahlonega, Georgia, Moultrie, Georgia, Macon, Georgia, Cordele, Georgia, Waycross and Blackshear, Georgia. Next, it was on to Florida as Nelson sought to work the woods in Jasper and Jennings. Then he came back to Georgia to work in Council, Needmore, Mayday and Tom Creek. Nelson’s experiences in the camp and his acquired ability took him from raking pines, to chipping and mauling casks, to tacking tin and pulling boxes, and even to woods rider, and from there to driving trucks. His experience also put him in the employ of many different turpentiners. He began working for Poole and Langdale. Later he worked for S. W. Paw, and the Wetherington family. Nelson describes in great detail, sometimes humorous, and sometimes painful, his experiences over several decades as a turpentiner.

At the time of this interview Mr. Nelson, or “Stick” as he was fondly called, was ninety eight years old. This interview took place in the summer of 2003, and shortly after its completion, Nelson died. He gives us an accounting of the lives of the people that he worked for, and of those with whom he worked. He gives us a vivid picture of life in the camps-covering camp conditions, bosses, entertainment, sports, money, self employment, food, education, religion, women and children.


5.36 Gigabytes (1 electronic record(s) and derivatives. 1 audio file (wav, mp3) 2334476224 bytes. 01:50:17. 3 PDF documents (32 scans, jp2). 5.36 GB (5,759,971,712 bytes).) : Made available in DSpace on 2022-05-09T19:40:09Z (GMT). No. of bitstreams: 3 dat-1002-09_nelson_2003.mp3: 105871569 bytes, checksum: 9a7e3c3e2b18964777a8802548b3e5be (MD5) tapelog-and-transcript.pdf: 7509749 bytes, checksum: 11a7a7e97b48544038bb28651b169625 (MD5) ADS-1002-14_Redacted.pdf: 626267 bytes, checksum: c15d43e6970d575b31afcfaf46bddf7d (MD5) Previous issue date: 2003-07-10


From the Collection: English

Tape Log and Artist Data Sheet

item_title: L.A. Stick Nelson #2

call_number: PRJ-1002

project_title: ;

equipment_used: Tascam DAT

informant_name: L.A. Stick Nelson

fieldworker: LeRoy Henderson

recording_engineer: LeRoy Henderson

date: 10-Sep-03

recording_location: Nashville

content_summary: Continuation of a tape session begun over a series of days in July and August, 2003, regarding Nelson's life experiences, focusing on turpentine and in this tape, as a Mason.

notes: ;

technical_summary: Good

genre: personal experience narratives, occupational folklife, turpentine, naval stores

places: ;

people: Will Brown

groups: African American

keywords: Masonic order, Masons, fraternal organizations, quarters

linked_document: ;

id_number: ADS-1002-14

last_name: Nelson

first_name: L.A.


nickname: Stick


Call number: PRJ-1002


artist_city: Nashville

state: GA

zip: Berrien

birthdate: 02/26/1903

birthplace: "Spring Hill, GA"

ethnicity_1: African American

religion: Baptist Church-Salem

genre: "Turpentine, personal experience narrative, occupational folklife, naval stores"

occupation: "turpentiner, woodsman"

date_of_contact: 07/10/03

contact_made_by: LeRoy Henderson

notes: "deceased, Interview location was Nelson Home in Nashville, GA. Faces of Piney Woods project interview. Mr. Nelson is now deceased."

Processing Information

PRJ1014-065, ADS-1002-14, VF-1002.45, DAT-1002.09, DAT-1002.20

No Wave File. 128kps MP3 only. Appears to be alt date DAT from September 10, 2003.

Repository Details

Part of the Valdosta State University Archives and Special Collections Repository

Valdosta State University Archives, Odum Library
1500 N. Patterson St.
Valdosta GA 30601 United States
229-259-5055 (Fax)