Knott House Museum
Alberta Garrett lived in Frenchtown and worked twenty years for the Knott family, starting around the age of fifteen. In the early twentieth century, part of the Jim Crow era, jobs in domestic service were predominately filled by African American women as other employment opportunities were limited due to systemic racism. In addition, working conditions and rules of conduct affirmed the subservient role of Blacks—for instance, they were not allowed to use the front door and were required to have separate dishes and bathrooms. Mrs. Knott trained Alberta as the family cook. She put in long days also cleaning the house and caring for Mrs. Knott when she was sick. For this, the Knotts paid her more than the usual rate at that time of two dollars a week.
Alberta seems to have had a good/bad relationship with the Knott family. In 1942, Mrs. Knott wrote that, “Even to have this little devil of an Alberta – always loyal and helpful – is a joy.” Alberta moved to New York at the beginning of World War II, but later returned to Tallahassee and worked occasionally for the Knott family, and in 1944, Alberta remained in Jacksonville for six weeks to care for her ill mother, and returned to Tallahassee, enamored with the city life. Upon her return to Tallahassee, Alberta spoke often of going back to Jacksonville and of her dislike for Tallahassee. Mentions of Alberta in letters between the Knott family appear to have stopped sometime in the 1950s, and what eventually happened to her remains unknown. Learn more about life during this period in Tallahassee history with a visit to the Knott House Museum.