Mrs. Anna Tate


(Reprinted from Elmer Centennial, 1987)


Can you imagine cooking a meal on two coal burning ranges with kerosene oil lamps to see by? Anna Ruby Tate cooked for 65-85 Navajo and Prairie Indians six of her eight years on the railroad gang. The last two years she cooked for 35 men. From the years 1951-58, she traveled with the gang from Chicago to Kansas City.

Mrs. Tate recalled that bread was made in large tubs ranging from 40 loaves of bread to 400 buns a day, besides baking another 400 biscuits or preparing pancakes for breakfast. Fifty poiunds of fish were fried on Friday, since most of the Indians were Catholics. Other meals popular with the gang were mutton, goat, tripe, beef, and pork. 

As for entertainment, Mrs. Tate stated that there were baseball games between gangs. She remembered that Crystal Dunlap had started working with a Negro gang the same time that she was working with the Indians.  Mrs. Tate worked with Wilma Coffman, Stella Baker, and Gertrude Agee.

(And a little info about Mercyville)

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