Annie E. Pettway
Annie E. Pettway was born June 18, 1904, one of the ten children born to Austin H. and Leetha Pettway. She married Ed O. Pettway, and they had nine children. Ed O., who had been born a Williams, had his name changed to Pettway when his family moved to the area known as Pettway, on the site of the former Pettway Plantation in Gee's Bend. Annie E. Pettway spent her life working in the fields and raising her growing family, which would eventually include numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren. She pieced and quilted quilts and also taught her daughters and granddaughters how to quilt. Her family continues to live in the same homestead she established almost seventy five years ago and her progeny, including Rita Mae Pettway and Louisiana Bendolph, continue to carry on the quilting traditions Annie E. Pettway helped to establish.
Deputy Sheriff Willie Quill Pettway remembers his mother, Annie E. Pettway.
She was born June 18, 1904. Her parents were Austin H. and Leetha Pettway. She had seven brothers and two sisters. She was married to Ed O.—they said Pettway, but he was a Williams. They changed his name to Pettway because he was living on the Pettway place, and they had to change their name as long as they stay on the place. So, when they took up the census, that’s what he kept his name: Pettway. His father was Ottoway Williams. He had changed his name to Pettway, too. My parents had five boys and four girls. My mama was a housewife and a field worker. She was picking cotton, hoeing, pulling corn, something like that. Pulling up peanuts and planting peanuts. Everything you can say on the farm, she did, but she didn’t plow. Some of the women plowed, but not my mama. We didn’t have no mules or nothing. The only man who had mules was the man who owned the place we living on. So, we got a bull and quit using the mule. That mule will plow along, and take a break and lay down under a tree, and you can’t get him up until he’s ready. He get hot, and he going to move, move to the shade.
We was walking about two miles and a half to the fields, and coming back about twelve o’clock to see about the baby, and two miles and a half back to the fields. Work until it’s time to cook supper.
Mama go to the fields with a pot and put on peas that morning, and every time she’d make a round she’d push the fire up under that pot, and that evening we’d have supper already done. When we knock off that evening, we bring the pot in the house, and nothing to do but fix the food. Didn’t have no good peas unless you do it that way.
My mama pieced quilts. She had to. She was piecing them in the house. My mama taught my sisters how to quilt. All my sisters know just how to make a quilt. And my sisters’ daughters know what to do with a quilt.