The All-Black Town: Part 10

A few months later, as Truehart stood in his front yard after dinner, a white man, Mr. Willson, walked slowly towards the house. Willson was a small farmer who scratched out a living growing a few bales of cotton on twenty acres.

Willson was thin and flushed. He said, “I hear you buy land.”

Truehart said, “I might.”

Willson said, “We’re wore out farming and we’re going up to Greenwood to see how we can get by.” He coughed and put his sleeve to his mouth to wipe it. “Never thought I’d sell my land to a nigger, but I’m willing to sell.”

“What might you ask for it, Mr. Willson?”

“Need five dollars an acre.”

“Ain’t a bad price, but it’s more than I can pay.”

Willson coughed again. “Two dollar and fifty cents.”

Willson’s relations had murdered black people in Leflore County, but he was a sick man. He didn’t need this money. His widow and orphans would. Truehart said, “Two dollar and fifty cents.”

“All right.”

Truehart told Willson, “Don’t tell Marse Little.”

Willson coughed so hard he bent over. When he straightened he said, “Mr. Little? Why would I tell him my business?”

After that, poor farmers came by to offer Truehart dribs and drabs of their land, some by the river, and some farther away. He bought it. Some he resold and the rest he rented out. When Davey figured it for him, he was startled to realize that he had bought three hundred acres.