Alice Mae Williams


December 2, 1921 - April 5, 2003
Role: Cowhand Family
Nicknames: Miss Mack, Sister Mack
Maiden name: Barefield

Alice Mae was born in Inari, up on the river, and was raised on the Fred Fagan Ranch. Alice Mae’s maternal grandfather was John Summers and her father was a white man in Mission Valley. With most of the families on the Fagan Ranch being of Mexican heritage, Alice Mae grew up speaking Spanish. She married very young, at fifteen, to Mack Williams, a young black cowhand from the neighboring Peach Mott (Martin O’Connor) Ranch who also spoke primarily Spanish. As a cowhand wife she kept the home and raised their two children. When her husband retired from being a cowhand he started preaching, so she became a pastor’s wife with much civic responsibility. She was known in the community as “Miss Mack” and “Sister Mack”. She served for awhile as a midwife. Alice Mae made the best mesquite jelly in the world.

Introduction to Alice Mae Williams

Louise S. O'Connor
Voice of Alice Mae Williams
Alice Williams - Well, I was born…well, we call it Inari. We say "up on the river." And that's where I was born at, but I was raised on the Fred Fagan Ranch. That's where I was raised at. My mother made lye soap. And then she made it with lye and lard and cracklings to make it firm. I never did learn how to make it because when I got up in the morning, she was already stirring and it was half made because she'd get up early – real early in the morning and put it on. This is what we bathed with. We used to mix flour and water, and then strain it. And that's what we had to starch our clothes. And we put the smoothing iron on the wood stove, and then we sprinkle them clothes and roll 'em up a while. And that's when we take it off there and we iron our clothes. The same way with the gasoline iron – did the same thing. We didn't know nothing else. We didn't come up easy. We come up hard. We got to go to church. See, we was at Fagan's Ranch and we had to go…it was twelve miles to Tivoli to church. Well, they hook up the wagon and we set on the end of that wagon, and he take us to church. And when he was driving, we'd jump off of the wagon and walk a piece. Then jump back up on the wagon. And that's when we went to church. That's the onliest way we had to go until my grandmother moved to Tivoli for us to go and get a little schooling in 1935. And that little while I went to school. And part of '36, I went to school in Refugio. And then December the 25th, I got married. I was fifteen…fifteen years old and he was twenty-two when we got married.