Beulah Perry was born on January 28, 1891 and was raised in the Piedmont region of South Carolina, at the base of the mountains. Beulah Perry’s childhood experiences differ from many women raised in the Appalachians. Her parents worked as sharecroppers on land where their ancestors were enslaved. She shared oral histories of slavery in the South, as told to her by her maternal grandfather. Beulah married in 1915 just before her 18th birthday. She did have several children, but none survived to adulthood. Beulah moved all over the country, following jobs and family, but Clayton, Georgia, was her favorite place: “This is the best and most beautiful part of the country to me, here in the mountains.” She was an active member of Ivy Hill Baptist Church, where she was a member of the choir.
I grew up in the country in Anderson County [South Carolina], about ten to twelve miles from Anderson. I married in 1915. I guess I must have been about thirteen or fourteen [when we started dating]. We’d sit around at home, read the Bible, talk about things done at church, things like that. It had to be a real quiet date. There wasn’t much to be done—just sit talking and playing. You know, we played like other children do, but not too loud and rough. They were strict about who we dated. Most of the time when we were old enough to date, it would be on Sunday, not any other day. I think we called it courting.
I guess it was pretty rough [when I first got married]. People now might think it was bad, but we were used to living on a farm and eating things we raised on the farm. We were taught to raise chickens, hogs, and cows, and that’s just the way we started out.
The white people that raised my husband gave him a little spot of land. It had one little house on it and they gave that to him and we lived in it. You could lay down at night and look through the loft and see the stars. I remember one night it snowed and the snow had come through those cracks and the bed and the floor were covered with snow. I waked up my husband and said, “It’s rained in here.” He made a light and looked, and everywhere in that room—even our bed—had just a little white coat of snow. It had come in the cracks overhead. It was fun to us. We got up and put some sheets up by the side of the walls to keep the snow from coming in. Well, it didn’t keep it out but it didn’t go all over the house. We did things like that and it was fun to us. I married just before my eighteenth birthday. I married the fifteenth of January, and the twenty-eighth was my birthday.