Saturday, October 11, 2008

Civilian Conservation Corp - Leo Williamson in the CCC

Chris Hansen sent me the following about CCC camps during the depression, and I'm finally getting around to putting it on my blog. Sorry it took so long Chris!

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Roosevelt Administration established the Civilian Conservation Corp aka CCC. The purpose was to aid poverty stricken depression families by employing their sons in reclamation and construction programs across the nation. The CCC was run by Reserved Army Officers and Non-commissioned Officers and was a Para-military organization and did give the US Army a supply of cadre for WWII. Over 3 million men participated in the CCC program from 1933-1942. Peak numbers came in August 1935 with 505,000 enrollees in 2,650 camps. There were similar programs for young daughters called the NYA, the National Youth Administration and another for adults called the WPA or Works Projects Administration. The NYA and the WPA kept members close to their homes. Unlike government programs of today, people worked very hard for their money in these programs.

Leo Williamson joined the CCCs in 1933 at 18 years old. He was sent to Camp Beauregard near Alexandria, Louisiana for training and there he was outfitted with two suits of denim uniforms, underwear, socks, and army boots. Then he was sent to a forest cleanup project north of Bastrop, Morehouse Parish, Louisiana. When they arrived at the cleanup site they had to pitch tents, build wooden floors for the tents, dig latrines and water wells. Drinking and bathing water were in short supply. Water was brought to the camp in Rail tank cars from Crossett, Arkansas until the wells were completed. The hard work did not bother Leo because he had worked hard since he was a small boy on the farm, but being covered with red-bugs and ticks did. He stayed there for one year and after a brief stay at home, re-enlisted for another year and was sent to Chatham, Jackson Parish, Louisiana. Everyone was paid $5 per month and $25 per month was sent home to their parents. Leo's mother, Lela McElrath Williamson and his five siblings were living on a subsistence farm in West Carroll Parish and $25 per month was adequate for staples like: flour, sugar, coffee, etc.

Leo Williamson worked as a heavy equipment operator mostly in South Texas where he lives today in 2008 at the age of 92. He lives in his own house on a ranch owned by his daughter and son-in-law. The above is from a taped interview in 1996.

One of Leo's younger brothers, Bert Williamson, also served in the CCCs in Truckee, California. After a short time he left Truckee and rode on freight trains back to Louisiana. He died in August of 1987 at the age of 66.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have a question aqbout the Lee Williamson family. Where did they live in West Carroll? My family came to West Carroll in 1918 from Simpson County, MS. Our relatives include the May, Canoy, Finnley, JOnes, and Layton families. All the family children attended school at Forest. A member of our family has attended Forest fron 1918 through today.
Lehman Williamson

Who are these people?

Sally Jo Gibson sent me this picture of the "Old Floyd" Courthouse, but didn't know who the people were. If anyone knows who they are, please let the rest of us know. Just post a reply.

Old Floyd Courthouse

Old Floyd Courthouse

Buildings in Old Floyd

Buildings in Old Floyd