I asked Ugee if there were any black musicians in Calhoun County and she said she remembered some living around Big Bear Fork and Little Bear Fork.
“That’s in between Stumptown and Shock. They was two families lived out there: Jake Catlip and Bone Ratliff. They were black people. Lived out there in the country. First ones I ever seen. They called and wanted Dad to come to Bear Fork. Well, this boy had a guitar there. Maybe he was eight years old. They called him ‘Black Bill’ later. Dad said, ‘I can’t play it but I’ll show you something.’ Dad tuned it up and showed him three chords. Said, ‘Now learn that and come up and we’ll play music some day.'”
Ugee said she met Black Bill a little later.
“Well, when I was carrying Harold before Harold was born, I walked up the road and was going up to Dad’s and Mom’s and down there at what they call Hog Run there was a pile of rock there by the side the road and a paw paw tree,” she said. “And up jumped that black boy with a guitar on his back — liked to scared me to death. He said, ‘Lady, could you tell me where Dr. L.A. Hicks lives?’ I just pointed up to the house and said, ‘That house right there.’ I couldn’t speak I got scared so bad. Well, he just started out running. I was so weak I had to sit down. Got up there and here was that boy that Dad had showed how to chord. Now, you ought to heard him play. They kept him around there for a month. Well, the boys liked to hear him play the guitar. That’s where I got that ‘Down the road, down the road. Everybody going off down the road. Down the road, far as I can see. All the pretty girls look alike to me.’ Dad said to him, ‘Bill, you made a good guitar player but you can’t play with a fiddle. Now, let my daughter show you how to play the guitar with a fiddle.'”
Ugee’s meeting with Black Bill made a real impression on her.
“I’m not the type to get scared bad but that scared me: just come around a corner and there sat a black man — jump right out like that,” she said. “Now, I was only seven months along with Harold and when he was born he was so blue I thought I had ‘marked’ him with Black Bill. You know, you hear people ‘marking’ their kids? I raised up and they had him up to show me and I said, ‘Oh my god, I marked him to Black Bill.’ Mom said, ‘He’s not marked. He’s just blue.’ Me and Black Bill had many a laugh over it.”
I asked Ugee what happened to Black Bill and she said, “Brown Hicks was down sick and he went there and helped them out and everything. He stayed there one whole winter with them. Someone told me that he took up with Brown Hicks’ wife, Sadie. They lived together, I guess, over there toward Glenville and she had one kid by him. My brother Harvey seen the kid. Harvey said Sadie’s boy was ‘just a Black Bill made over.’ I don’t know what ever become of him after that. I never heard no more about him.”