Sie McCollum, His Life and Times
By Joyce Reese McCollum
Sie MCCOLLUM was born on February 8, 1845-8 enslaved to Newman McCollum of Fayette County, Alabama. Sie’s life was filled with exciting and well documented events. Living to age 96, he had many stories to tell of times past and was known as a eccentric individualist, prosperous farmer and ancestor of many.
As a young boy Sie was hung by the home guard (Confederate Militia) and lived to tell the experience! He had his own coffin made and kept it under his bed as well as having his tombstone erected and is featured in the book Slavery in Alabama by James Benson Sellers.
His marriage to Nellie Tyre produced eight children: Jim, Bill, Dave, Jake, Bet, Leah, Charlie and Henry.
The Fayette Banner newspaper printed a story on Sie McCollum dated October 24, 1940. The article relates how the home guard captured Sie, who was known to aid runaway slaves and army deserters and In an attempt to make him reveal what he knew he was threatened and eventually hanged. From his own account, “ Dey cotched me one day and I didn’ tell where the deserters wuz den dey took me down unner dat tree, put a rope ‘round my neck and throwed it over a limb.” “Den de cap’n said he would give me one mo’ chance. When I didn’t say nothing, dey pulled the rope and jerked me up in de air and I went whirling around and my tongue flopped out and I thought dat I was sho dead.”
But the soldiers decided that the boy was not lying, so they cut him down. “Fo de breath leaked out.” He was said to have the scars from the rope burn until his death in 1944.
He often related how he and his master James McCollum burned down the Fayette court house supposedly to erase the records of James K’s debt after the death of his father Newman. Sie was “given” as a boy to Martha McCaleb who was Newman’s grandchild. Sie and many of the white McCollums remained close until death.
Sie was listed on the census records as mulatto and it is known that his father was a member of the slave owner family. His relationship throughout his lifetime with his white “relatives,” and his accumulation of a large portion of land (300+ acres), all point to his kindred as well.
Being the father of 6 sons and 2 daughters, Sie McCollum has progeny throughout the United States that are a cross section of American society from farmers to professionals. They are all as proud of him as he would be of them!
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