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Selected Chronology


Gee's Bend       United States History
     
  1808: The direct importation of slaves from Africa to the United States is banned, although it continues illegally for decades.
   
1816: Joseph Gee purchases land and establishes a cotton plantation in Gee’s Bend. 1819: Alabama becomes a state.
       
1824: Joseph Gee dies and his heirs contest the inheritance of his plantation.

1845: Mark Pettway buys the plantation from the Gee family and brings 100 of his slaves from North Carolina to Gee’s Bend.
1831: Nat Turner leads a slave revolt in Virginia
       
1859: Dinah Miller, Gee’s Bend’s earliest identified quiltmaker, was brought to Alabama on an outlaw slave ship from Africa. 1861–65:The Civil War
       
1861: Mark Pettway dies. 1863: President Abraham Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring all slaves in rebellious areas to be free.
         
1880: Gee’s Bend becomes the property of Mark Pettway’s son, John Henry. 1870: The Fifteenth Amendment, guaranteeing all citizens the right to vote, is ratified.

1875: Congress passes the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which bans discrimination in places of public accommodation.
       
1895: John Henry sells approximately 4,000 acres of the old Pettway plantation to the Dew family. 1896: The Supreme Court rules in Plessy v. Ferguson that "separate but equal" facilities for blacks and whites is constitutional.
       
1900: Adrian Van de Graff buys the entire property from the Dews. After his death, his son inherits the land. He later sells it to the Roosevelt Administration. 1909: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is formed.

1914–18: World War I
       
Late 1920s: The price of cotton plummets. Merchants in Camden advance credit to Gee’s Bend farmers, many of whom fall into debt. 1929: The stock market crashes and the Great Depression begins.

1920–30s: The Harlem Renaissance
       
1932: Collectors foreclose on Gee’s Bend debtors, seizing everything they own. Many residents of Gee’s Bend face near-starvation. 1933: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issues New Deal reforms in order to relieve the economic strife caused by the Great Depression.
       
1934–35: The Federal Emergency Relief Administration provides some relief to Gee’s Bend residents by giving them seeds, fertilizer, farming tools, livestock, and loans.

1937 and 1939: U.S. photographers Arthur Rothstein and Marion Post are sent by the Farm Security Administration to Gee’s Bend to photograph the community.

1937–40: Approximately 100 Roosevelt Project Houses are built in Gee’s Bend. Other buildings constructed include a school, store, cotton gin, mill, and a clinic.

1941: Robert Sonkin documents traditional spirituals, sermons, and singing groups in Gee’s Bend for the Library of Congress.

1945: The federal government offers Gee’s Bend residents loans to buy farmland.
1939–45: World War II
       
1955: Activist Rosa Parks is arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, when she refuses to give her seat on the bus to a white man.
 
1962: A dam and lock are constructed on the Alabama River, just south of Gee’s Bend, flooding much of Gee’s Bend’s best farming land. 1963: Martin Luther King, Jr., gives his “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C. to 200,000 activists who participated in the historic March on Washington.
       
1965: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., visits Gee’s Bend and preaches at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. Many residents march with him to Selma and register to vote in nearby Camden. Many of these people lose their jobs after marching or registering to vote.

Ferry service from Gee’s Bend to Camden is terminated.
1964: President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlaws discrimination in housing, employment, and education.

The U.S. begins to bomb Vietnam
       
1966: The Freedom Quilting Bee is established in Rehoboth (just north of Gee’s Bend). 1968: Martin Luther King, Jr., is assassinated. Mules from Gee’s Bend pull his casket through Atlanta.
       
Mid-1970s: Water and telephone service is established throughout Gee’s Bend. 1973: The United States withdraws troops from Vietnam.
       
2002: The Quilts of Gee’s Bend exhibition opens at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and then travels to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Eleven more museums sign on to host the show.

2003: Fifty local women found the Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective.

2006: Ferry service from Gee’s Bend to Camden reopens.

The U.S. Postal Service issues ten postage stamps commemorating Gee’s Bend quilts.

Gee’s Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt is organized.
   
 

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