Emma Mae Hall Pettway
Raised in Rehoboth's Hall family, whose quilts are freely improvisational, Emma Mae Hall Pettway married and moved down to Gee's Bend, where she made quilts alongside and was influenced by some of its leading quiltmakers, such as Louella Pettway and Aolar Mosely. Her cousin Queen Hall recounts their background.
She was born in 1932, out from Rehoboth. Her daddy was name Joseph Hall. Mama was Josie Lee Hall. They was farmers; rented the land and farmed cotton, corn, peas, potatoes, and peanuts; took corn to the mill to make meal; and made out from year to year. She had a sister and two brothers, and they had a cousin stayed with them. She went to school for a while—they had it back then over in the Pine Grove Church. Her first boyfriend was Lovell Pettway from down in the Bend, and he married her real young and took her down there.
Lovell was the school bus driver, and he was a farmer, too. Everybody around was a farmer. Emma Mae helped him to farm, mostly what peoples grow—peas, corn, cotton, watermelon, some of everything. She kept a nice house, and people say she was a good cook. She treated her husband good. Had to been treating him good as long as they been together. They had two children; one died.
She was a quitter from the beginning. Quilted with her mama and cousins in Rehoboth, and made little dresses and skirts way back when she was a little thing. They made their quilts out of old clothes. That's all peoples used back there, and they just kind of put stuff together. They buy cloth sometimes at the store for to make children's clothes—and you know, any little leftover scrap going into them quilts.
After she got down to Gee's Bend, she do a lot of quilts at home a lot of the time. Lovell make the horses for the frame. Emma go visit with friends over to Aolar Mosely's house. They had a place peoples come over and work together, and Emma learned to make pretty quilts from Aolar and them.
Emma and Lovell, they live over the creek down there near to where they used to have the baptizing in the bend of the creek. Nice down there.