‘Father’ Abraham Found Success in Florida’s Grueling Turpentine Labor

“Turpentine bands were recruited from throughout the South, often by their fellow blacks. The most famous of these agents was Henry N. ‘Father’ Abraham, a native of South Carolina who went to work in a turpentine camp in Lawtey, Florida. While there, he became a hoodoo doctor and used the prestige and influence of that position accorded him in rural southern communities to recruit workers, receiving payment from the company for each person he brought to camp.For a fee, he healed the sick, removed and cast spells, predicted winning bolt numbers. He earned enough from his practice to buy 200 acres of land, on which he built homes for two dozen tenant farmers and their families. He became a successful strawberry grower, a wealthy and world-famous hoodoo doctor before his death in 1937. He was one of the few lucky ones. In many ways a decent, generous man, Father Abraham profited from a cruel business and then escaped while continuing to trade on ignorance and superstition.”

Source: Some Kind of Paradise: A Chronicle of Man and the Land in Florida  By Mark DerrWilliam Morrow and Company, 1998 p. 120

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