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Interview with Major Phillips, January 25, 2004

 File — Bag: \folklife\prj1014\, Folder: 066_phillips-major
Collection number: PRJ1014-066

Scope and Contents

Oral history interview with Major Phillips, January 25, 2004. Adrian (Ga.). Fieldworker: Le Roy Henderson. Audio file digitized from cassette tape. Part of the South Georgia Folklife Project at Valdosta State University Archives and Special Collections. Topics include Turpentining.

Subjects: Georgia; Oral histories; Sound recordings; Phillips, Major (1945-2010); Turpentine; Turpentine industry and trade; Adrian (Ga.); African Americans;


  • January 25, 2004

Conditions Governing Access

Biographical Note

Major Phillips was born in 1945 in Treutlen County, Georgia, and has worked in the woods for most of his life. He dipped the last barrel of commercial turpentine in August, 2001, while in the employ of Jim Gillis, Jr. of Soperton Naval Stores. At the time of the industry’s demise, Phillips had worked for the Gillis family for over 20 years and is still in their employ as of this writing. Phillips’ father had worked the pine woods for over 40 years, and young Major began working beside him at age 12. His first job was dipping tar, and he states that he and his father could dip as many as 2000 trees per day. Phillips worked for a number of employers in the Soperton vicinity and beyond, including the Claxtons, the Phillips, and the Kennedys of Cobbtown, the latter an African American family that had its own farm, still and turpentine farm. Along with turpentine, he sharecropped cotton, worked in a sawmill, and also worked cotton and tobacco on his family farm.

Obituary: ADRIAN, Ga. - Mr. Major Phillips, 64, passed away Monday, May 3, 2010. Link


657 Megabytes (1 electronic record(s) and derivatives. 1 audio file (wav, mp3) 502213660 bytes. 00:47:27. 4 PDF documents (7 scans, jp2). 1 jpg image. 657 MB (689,554,339 bytes).) : Made available in DSpace on 2022-05-10T13:45:35Z (GMT). No. of bitstreams: 3 ua22-12prj1002_phillips_cas1002-16.mp3: 114148168 bytes, checksum: bb9f9f52d984b88ef5837bfbbfe1d5a9 (MD5) tapelog-and-transcript_Redacted.pdf: 92393 bytes, checksum: 45a411b60d78d92a65c2666fa98848ad (MD5) ADS-1002-26.pdf: 202589 bytes, checksum: 748dda962d08a02a820662e512487d92 (MD5) Previous issue date: 2004-01-25


From the Collection: English

Related Materials

* Photograph - Major Phillips loads barrels of raw gum to take to the still for processing, August, 2001. Photo by Bill Godfrey courtesy Georgia Forestry Commission Magazine. [sgfp_sca-2004-4_007]

* Photograph - Major Phillips empties raw gum into a barrel to take to the still for processing, August, 2001. [sgfp_sca-2004-4_006]

* Photograph - Major Phillips gathering scrape from a catface, Soperton Naval Stores, August, 2001. [sca-2004-4_turpentine_baxley003]

* Photograph - Major Phillips with dip bucket, August, 2001. Photo by Bill Godfrey courtesy Georgia Forestry Commission Magazine

Tape Log and Artist Data Sheet

id: DAT-1002.16

item_title: Major Phillips interview

call_number: PRJ-1002

project_title: Turpentine

informant_name: Major Phillips

fieldworker: LeRoy Henderson

recording_engineer: LeRoy Henderson

date: 25-Jan-04

recording_location: Adrian

content_summary: Interview with Phillips about his life farming, turpentining, and gathering last barrel of domestic turpentine for Soperton Naval Stores.

notes: Phillips has a speech impediment which affects the interview. See Faces of Piney Woods web site and End of an Era article in VF.

technical_summary: good quality

genre: occupational folklife, turpentine, personal experience narrative

places: Adrian, Soperton

people: Major Phillips, Marsten Kennedy, Phillips, Gillis

groups: African American

keywords: quarters, commissary, tally board, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving

id_number: ADS-1002-26

last_name: Phillips

first_name: Major

Call number: PRJ-1002

artist_city: Adrian

state: GA

zip: 31002

artist_county: Treutlen

birthdate: 11/03/45

birthplace: Soperton

ethnicity_1: African American

religion: Baptist

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

Processing Information

PRJ1014-066, DAT-1002.16, ADS-1002-26


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)