Abe McDuffie

Written by: Curtis H. Thomasson
Submitted by: Peggy Chesteen
Sources: Memories of area residents

Some elderly residents have recalled some of the life of Abe McDuffie, a local black gentleman. Abe was liked very well because of his helpfulness and outgoing personality. He worked hard doing a variety of farm chores to help the families with whom he associated. He and other black families would help the neighboring white families slaughter hogs and cure the meat for winter eating.

Abe was born circa 1856 and lived mostly in the Cedar Grove community until his death around 1919. In the 1870 census, he was living in the household of W.G.W. and Tempy (Sasser) McDuffie. It is most likely that Abe took his last name from this family.

Abe farmed with Jesse Howell Sasser and John W.B. Sasser, brothers to Tempy Sasser. He became like kin to these families. His parents had been dead for many years, and some have claimed that John Sasser actually reared Abe even though they were near the same age.

Abe was particularly close to John’s son, John Hiram Sasser. Hiram helped him build a two-room log house in his own yard. The location was about where the present day Dallas Henderson home stands. The house was designed to have a long kitchen down one side. Leading from the house was a path in the direction of the black church building, which was located behind Bud Paulk’s house. It is understood that there are some graves of black people who were buried there. The second black church was known as Rockanna.

John Hiram Sasser died at a fairly young age leaving his widow, Martha (Short), to rear their children. Abe was able to help Martha make several crops before his health failed. Then it was Martha who led the effort to help care for Abe. Neighbors took turns in taking his meals and doing his laundry to assure clean bed linens. His faithful support was well rewarded.

Before he died, Abe requested to be buried just inside the gate at the Cedar Grove Bapitst Church Cemetery. He reasoned that he would long be remembered if everyone entering had to step over him. He was buried there between the graves of Charley Barnette and O.S. Davis.

Abe had saved a little money, which he placed in a jar and hid in the pasture. He is supposed to have shown someone the hiding place, but no one has ever found it or forgotten about the well-loved gentleman, Abe McDuffie.

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