Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves - Georgia Narratives, Part 4
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"Aunt Darkas lived in McDonough, Ga. until a few years ago. She died when she wuz 128 years old; but, chile, lemme tell you that 'oman knowed just what ter do fer you. She wuz blind but she could go ter the woods and pick out any kind of root or herb she wanted. She always said the Lord told her what roots to get and always fore sun-up you would see her in the woods with a short handled pick. She said she had ter pick 'em for sun-up; I don't know why. If you wuz sick all you had ter do wuz go ter see Aunt Darkas and tell her. She had a well and after listening to your complaint she would go out there and draw a bucket of water and set it on the floor, and then she would wave her hand over it and say something. She called this healing the water. After this she would give you a drink of water. As she hand it ter you, she would say, 'now drink, take this and drink.' Honey, I had some of that water myself and blieve me it goes all over you and makes you feel so good. Old Aunt Darkas would give you a supply of water and tell you ter come back fer more when that wuz gone. Old Aunt Darkas said the Lord gave her power and vision, and she used to fast for a week at a time. When she died there wuz a piece in the paper bout her.

"This here is sho the trufe, and if you don't believe it, go out ter Southview Cemetery and see Sid Heard, my oldest son; he been out there over 20 years as sexton and bookkeeper. Yessir, he tole it ter me and I believe it. This happen long ago, 10 or 15 years. There wuz a couple that lived in Macon, Ga., but their home wuz in Atlanta and they had a lot out ter Southview. Well, they had a young baby that tuck sick and died so they had the baby's funeral there in Macon; then they put the coffin in the box, placed the label on the box, then brought it ter Atlanta. Folkes are always buried so that they head faces the east. They say when Judgment Day come and Gabriel blow that trumpet everybody will rise up facing the east. Well, as I wuz saying, they came here. Sid Heard met 'em out yonder and instructed his men fer arrangements fer the grave and everything. A few weeks later the 'oman called Sid Heard up long distance. She said, 'Mr. Heard.' Yesmam, he said. 'I call you ter tell you me and my husband can't rest at all.' 'Why?' he asked. 'Because we can hear our baby crying every night and it is worrying us ter death. Our neighbors next door say our baby must be buried wrong.' Sid Heard said, Well, I buried the baby according ter the way you got the box labeled. 'I am not blaming you, Mr. Heard, but if I pay you will you take my baby up?' Yesmam, I will if you want me to; jest let me know the day you will be here and I'll have everything ready. Alright, said she.

'Well,' said Sid Heard, 'the day she wuz ter come she wuz sick and instead sent a car load of her friends. The men got busy and started digging till they got ter the box; when they took it up sho nuff after they opened it, they found the baby had been buried wrong; the head was facing the west instead of the east. They turned the box around and covered it up. The folks then went on back to Macon. A week later the 'omen called up again. 'Mr. Heard,' she says. Yesmam, says he. 'Well, I haven't heard my baby cry at all in the past week. I wuzn't there but I know the exact date you took my baby up, cause I never heard it cry no more.'


On December 10, 1936 Mr. and Mrs. Millegan who reside at 231 Chestnut Ave. NE. were interviewed on the subject of superstitions, signs, conjure, etc. Mrs. Rosa Millegan studied awhile after the facts of the interview were made clear to her. Finally she said; "I kin tell you more bout conjure; that's all I know bout cause I done been hurted myself and every word of it is the trufe.

"Well, it happen lak this. I wuz suffering with rheumatism in my arm and a old man in the neighborhood came ter me and gave me some medicine that he said would help me. Well, I done suffered so I thought mebbe it might help me a little. Chile honey, 'after I done tuck some of that stuff I nearly went crazy. I couldn't talk; couldn't hardly move and my head look lak it bust open. I didn't know what ter do. I called medical doctors and they jest didn't do me no good. Let me tell you right here, when you done been conjured, medical doctors can't do you no good; you got ter get a nudder conjur doctor ter get it off you. Well, one day I says to my daughter, "I'm through wid medical doctors. I'm gwine ter Sam Durham. They say he is good and I go find out. Chile, folks done give me up ter die. I use ter lay in bed and hear 'em say, she won't never get up. Well, I went ter Sam Durham and he looked at me and said: 'You is hurt in the mouth.' He carried me in a small room, put some medicine around my face, and told me ter sit down a while. After while my mouth and face begin ter feel lak it wuz paralyzed, and he begin ter talk. 'That man that give you that medicine is mad wid you about his wife and he fixed you. Now do what I tell you and you will overcome it. He is coming ter your door and is gwine want ter shake your hand. Don't let him touch you, but speak ter him in the name of the Lord and throw your hands over your head; by doing this you will overcome him and the devil.' Anudder thing he says; 'This man is coming from around the back of your house.' Then he give me 5 vials of different lengths and a half cup of pills, and told me ter take all that medicine. He told me too ter get a rooster and let him stay on my porch all the time and he couldn't get ter me no more. Sho nuff, that nigger come jest lak he said he wuz going ter do, but I fixed him. Later on this same man tried ter fix his wife cause he thought she had anudder man. Do you know that oman couldn't drink water in her house? and when he died he wuz nearly crazy; they had ter strap him in the bed; all the while he wuz cussin God and raving."

The next stories were told to the writer by Mr. Jasper Millegan:

"My uncle wuz poisoned. Yes, sir, somebody fixed him in coffee. He lingered and lingered and finally got so he wuz confined ter bed fer good. Somebody put scorpions in him and whenever they would crawl under his skin he would nearly go crazy, and it looked lak his eyes would jest pop out. He waited so long ter go ter the conjure doctors they couldn't do him any good. And the medical doctors ain't no good fer nothing lak that. Yes, sir, them snakes would start in his feet and run up his leg. He nebber did get any better and he died.

"A long time ago I saw a lady that wuz conjured in her feet; somebody put something down fer her ter walk over. Well, anyway she got down with her feet and couldn't travel from her bed ter a chair. Well, she got a old conjure doctor ter come treat her and he rubbed her feet with medicine and after he done that a while he told her that something wuz coming out of her feet. Sho nuff, I see'd them maggots with my own eyes when they come out of her feet; but she got well."

The following are preventatives to use against conjure; also a few home treatments for different sickness.

"Ter keep from being conjured, always use plenty salt and pepper. Always get up soon in the morning so nobody can see you and sprinkle salt and pepper around your door and they sho can't git at you.

"If you think you done been poisoned or conjured, take a bitter gourd and remove the seeds, then beat 'em up and make a tea. You sho will heave all of it up.

"Ef you think you will have a stroke, go to running water and get four flint rocks; heat 'em and lay on all of them, and believe me, it will start your blood circulating and prevent the stroke. Another way to start your blood circulating; heat a brick and (lay) lie on it.

"To get rid of corns, bathe your feet in salt water and take a little salt and put it 'tween your toes."

Mrs. Millegan closed her interview by telling the writer that every morning found her sprinkling her salt and pepper, cause she knows what it means ter be fixed. As the writer started out the door she noticed a horse shoe hanging over the door.

FOLKLORE (Negro) Minnie B. Ross


On November 24, 1936 Mrs. Camilla Jackson was interviewed concerning superstitions, signs, etc. Mrs. Jackson, an ex-slave, is about 80 years of age and although advanced in years she is unusually intelligent in her speech and thoughts. The writer was well acquainted with her having previously interviewed her concerning life as a slave.

Mrs. Jackson related to the writer the following signs and incidents:

If a tree is standing in your yard or near your house and an owl lights in it and begins to hoot, some one in the family will die.

If, during the illness of a person, a cat comes in the room, or the house, and whines, the person will die.

Another sure sign of death and one that has been experienced by Mrs. Jackson is as follows: Listen child if a bird flies in your house some one is going to die. My daughter and I were ironing one day and a bird flew in the window right over her head. She looked up and said, "mama that bird came after me or you, but I believe it came for me." One month later my daughter took sick with pneumonia and died.

My mother said before the Civil War ended her mistress owned an old slave woman 100 years old. This old woman was very wicked and the old miss used to visit her cabin and read the Bible to her. Well sir, she died and do you know the horses balked and would go every way but the right way to the grave. They rared and kicked and would turn straight around in the road 'cause the evil spirits were frightening them. It was a long time before they could get the body to the grave.

Mrs. Jackson before relating the following experiences emphatically stated her belief in seeing the dead but only believes that you can see them in a dream.

"Many a night my sister has come to me all dressed in white. I have heard her call me too; but I have never answered. No longer than one night last week old Mr. and Mrs. Tanner came to me in a dream. The old lady came in my room and stood over my bed. Her hair was done up on the top of her head just like she always wore it. She was distressed and spoke about some one being after her. Old Mr. Tanner came and led her away. They really were in my room, you see both of them died in this house years ago."

Mrs. Jackson could not relate any stories of conjuring; but did mention the fact that she had often heard of people wearing money around their legs to keep from being conjured. She also spoke of people keeping a horseshoe over the door for good luck.

During slavery and since that time, if you should go out doors on a drizzling night for any thing, before you could get back Jack O'lantern would grab you and carry you to the swamps. If you hollowed and some one bring a torch to the door the Jack O'lantern would turn you aloose. Another way to get rid of them is to turn your pockets wrong side out.

One day a man came here selling roots called "John the Conqueror" and sister Blakely there, paid him 10c for one of the plants, but she never did plant it. He said the plant would bring good luck.


On the same day Mrs. Jackson was interviewed, Mrs. Anna Grant told the writer that if she didn't mind she would relate to her a ghost story that was supposed to be true. In her own words the writer gives the following story:

Onst a 'oman, her husband and two chillun wuz travelin'. This 'oman wuz a preacher and only wanted to stop over night. Now this 'oman's husban' wuz a sinner, but she wuz a christian. Well she saw an old empty house setting in a field but when she went ter inquire 'bout it she wuz told that it wuz hanted and no one had ebber been able ter stay there over night. De lady dat owned de house offered her pillows, bed clothes, sheets, etc., if she intended to stay, and even told her that she would give her de house if she could stay there. The woman that owned the house told her butler to go and make a fire for the family and carry the pillows, sheets, etc. Well, they all got there the 'oman built a fire, cooked supper and fed 'em all. Her husband and children went ter bed. The husband wanted to know why his wife wanted him to go to bed and she wanted ter stay up. The wife didn't say nothin', just told him ter go to bed, then she laid the Bible on the table bottom side up and kept looking behind her. The house wuz two story and after while something came ter the top steps and said, "Can I throw down," she said "throw down in the name of the father, son and Holy Ghost." Two thighs and a foot came down. Later the same voice sed, "Can I throw down," and she said, "throw down in the name of the father, son and the Holy Ghost," and then a whole body came down. The husband woke up when he heard the noise and ran away from the house. The ghost told the 'oman ter follow her, and she picked up her Bible and kept on reading and went on behind the ghost. The ghost showed her where some money was buried near a big oak tree and then vanished. The next morning the 'oman dug and found der money, but the 'oman of the house wouldn't take a penny, said she didn't want it, sides that she gave her the house. They said this wuz a true story and der reason dat house wus hanted wuz 'cause der family dat used to live there got killed about money. Mrs. Grant ended by saying "Deres a horseshoe over my door right now for luck."


Mrs. Emmaline Heard lives on Cain St. between Fort and Butler Sts. She is an ex-slave and on a previous occasion had given the writer an interesting account of slavery as she knew it. When the writer approached her concerning superstitious signs, ghost tales, conjure etc., Mrs. Heard's face became lit with interest and quickly assured the writer that she believed in conjuring, ghosts, and signs. It was not long before our interview began. Mrs. Heard, although seventy or seventy-five years old, is very intelligent in her expression of her different thoughts. This interview, as nearly as possible, was taken in the exact words of the person interviewed.

"If you are eating with a mouthful of food and sneeze, that sho is a true sign of death. I know that 'cause years ago I wuz havin' breakfast with my son Wylie and one other boy and Wylie sneezed and said "Mama I'm so sorry I jist coundn't help it the sneeze came on me so quick." I jist sat there and looked at him and began ter wonder. Two weeks later my brother rode up and announced my mother's death. That is one sign thats true, yes sir.

If a picture falls off the wall some one in the family will die.

If you dream about teeth, if one falls out thats another sign of death.

Another sign of death jest as sho as you live is ter dream of a person naked. I dreamed my son was naked but his body was covered with hair. Three months later he died. Yes sir, that sho is a true sign.

Jest as sho as your left hand itches you will receive money. If fire pops on you from the stove, or fire place, you will get a letter.

If the left side of your nose itches a man is coming to the house. If it itches on the tip, he will come riding.

If the right side of your nose itches a woman is coming to the house.

Following are stories told to Mrs. Heard by her parents, which took place during the period of slavery. They are supposed to be true as they were experienced by the persons who told them.

"My mother told me a story that happened when she was a slave. When her mistress whipped her she would run away ter the woods; but at night she would sneak back to nurse her babies. The plantation was on old McDonough road, so ter get ter the plantation she had ter come by a cemetery and you could see the white stones shining in the moonlight. This cemetery was near a cut in the road that people said was hanted and they still say old McDonough road is hanted. One night, mama said she was on her way to the plantation walking on the middle of the road and the moon was shining very bright. When she reached this cut she heard a noise, Clack! Clack! Clack!, and this noise reminded a person of a lot of machines moving. All at once a big thing as large as a house came down the side of the road. She said it looked like a lot of chains, wheels, posts all mangled together, and it seemed that there were more wheels and chains than anything else. It kept on by making that noise, clack! clack! clack!. She stood right still till it passed and came on ter the farm. On her way back she say she didn't see it any more, but right till ter day that spot is hanted. I have knowed horses to run away right there with people and hurt them. Then sometimes they have rared and kicked and turned to go in the other direction. You see, horses can see hants sometimes when folks can't. Now the reason fer this cut being hanted was because old Dave Copeland used to whip his slaves to death and bury them along there."

The next story was told to Mrs. Heard by her father, who experienced it, as a slave boy.

"My father sed when he wuz a boy him and two more boys run away from the master 'cause the master whipped 'em. They set out and walked till it got dark, and they saw a big old empty house settin' back from der road. Now this house was 3 or 4 miles from any other house. So they went in and made a fire, and laid down 'cause they wuz tired from running from the Pader rollers. Soon they heard something say tap! tap! tap!, down the stairs it came, a loud noise and then "Oh Lordy Master, I aint goin' do it no more; let me off this time." After a while they heard this same noise like a house falling in and the same words "Oh Lordy Master, I ant goin' do it no more. Let me off this time." By this time they had got good and scared, so my pa sed he and his friends looked at each other and got up and ran away from that house jest as fast as they could go. Nobody knowed why this old house wuz hanted; but they believed that some slaves had been killed in it."

The next is a story of the Jack O'lantern as told by Mrs. Heard.

"Old South River on' the Jonesboro road is jest full of swampy land and on a rainy drizzly night Jack O'lanterns will lead you. One night my uncle started out ter see his girl end he had ter go through the woods and the swamps. When he got in der swamp land he had ter cross a branch and the night wuz dark and drizzly, so dark you could hardly see your hand before your face. Way up the creek he saw a little bright light, so he followed it thinking he wuz on his way. All night long he sed he followed this light up and down the swamp, but never got near ter it. When day came he was still in the creek and had not gone any distance at all. He went home and told the folks and they went back ter the swamps and saw his tracks up and down in the mud. Later a group of 'em set out to find the Jack O'lantern and way down the creek they found it on a bush. It looked like soot hanging down from a bush, burnt out. My uncle went ter bed 'cause he wuz sleepy and tired down from walking all night."

The following three stories related by Mrs. Heard deals with practices of conjure. She definitely states that they are true stories; and backs up this statement by saying she is a firm believer in conjure.

"As I told you before, my daddy came from Virginia. He wuz bought there by Old Harper and brought ter McDonough as a slave boy. Well as the speculator drove along south, he learned who the different slaves were. When he got here he wuz told by the master to live with old uncle Ned 'cause he wuz the only bachelor on the plantation. The master said ter old Ned, "Well Ned, I have bought me a fine young plow boy. I want him ter stay with you and you treat him right." Every night uncle Ned would make a pallet on the floor for daddy and make him go to bed. When he got in bed he (uncle Ned) would watch him out of the corner of his eye, but daddy would pretend he wuz asleep and watch old uncle Ned to see what he wuz going ter do. After a while uncle Ned would take a broom and sweep the fireplace clean, then he would get a basket and take out of it a whole lot of little bundles wrapped in white cloth. As he lay out a package he would say "grass hoppers," "spiders", "scorpian," "snake heads", etc., then he, would take the tongs and turn 'em around before the blaze so that they would parch. Night after night he would do this same thing until they had parched enough, then he would beat all of it together and make a powder; then put it up in little bags. My daddy wuz afraid ter ask old uncle Ned what he did with these bags, but heard he conjured folks with 'em. In fact he did conjure a gal 'cause she wouldn't pay him any attention. This gal wuz very young and preferred talking to the younger men, but uncle Ned always tried ter hang around her and help hoe, but she would always tell him to go do his own work 'cause she could do hers. One day he said ter her "All right madam, I'll see you later, you wont notice me now but you'll wish you had. When the dinner came, and they left the field they left their hoes standing so they would know jest where ter start when they got back. When that gal went back ter the field the minute she touched that hoe she fell dead. Some folks say they saw uncle Ned dressing that hoe with conjure.

"My sister Lizzie sho did get fixed, honey, and it took a old conjurer ter get the spell off of her. It wuz like this: Sister Lizzie had a pretty peachtree and one limb spreaded out over the walk and jest as soon as she would walk under this limb, she would stay sick all the time. The funny part 'bout it wuz that while she wuz at other folks house she would feel all right, but the minute she passed under this limb, she would begin ter feel bad. One day she sent fer a conjurer, and he looked under the house, and sho nuff, he found it stuck in the sill. It looked like a bundle of rags, red flannel all stuck up with needles and every thing else. This old conjurer told her that the tree had been dressed for her an t'would be best fer her ter cut it down. It wuz a pretty tree and she sho did hate to cut it down, but she did like he told her. Yes child, I don't know whither I've ever been conjured or not, but sometimes my head hurts and I wonder."

Mrs. Heard asked the writer to return at a later date and she would probably be able to relate more interesting incidents.

FOLKLORE (Negro) Edwin Driscoll


The Negro folklore as recounted below was secured from the following persons: Mrs. Julia Rush (an ex-slave) who lives at 878 Coleman Street, S.W.; Mr. George Leonard (a very intelligent elderly person) whose address is 148 Chestnut Avenue N.E.; and Mr. Henry Holmes (an ex-slave); Mr. Ellis Strickland; Mr. Sam Stevens and a young boy known only as Joe. The latter named people can be found at the address of 257 Old Wheat Street, N.E. According to these people this lore represents the sort of thing that their parents and grandparents believed in and at various times they have been heard to tell about these beliefs.


Mr. Leonard says: "In dem days de old folks b'lieved in witch-craft and conjure and sicha stuff like dat. Dey b'lieved dat an old person could punish anybody by taking a piece of chip and spitting on it and den dey would throw it on 'em. Dey said dat in two weeks time maggots would be in 'em."

"I have seen 'em take a black cat an' put 'im in a sack an' den dey took 'im an' put 'im in a pot of boiling hot water alive. Man de cat would almos' tear dat pot up tryin' to git out. After dey had cooked all de meat off de cat dey took one of his bones (I don't know which one of 'em) and put it crossways in their front teeth while dey mumbled somethin' under their breath an' den dey took dis bone an' throwed it 'cross de right shoulder an' when dey went an' picked it up an' put it in their pocket it was supposed to give 'em de bes' kind of luck. Dey could say or do anything dey wanted to an' ole marster couldn't hit 'em."

Regarding the Black cat's bone Mr. Strickland told the following story which he says he once heard an old man tell his father:

"You goes out in de valley in de woods an' you takes a live black cat an' throws 'im in a pot of boiling water. You boils 'im 'till he gits done all to pieces an' den you takes all de bones an' throws 'em in de creek an' de one dat floats up de creek is de one to use. You takes dis bone an' draws it through your teech an' gits all de meat off an' den you can take dat bone an' do all kinds of majic. You can talk to folks an' dey can't see you. You can even disappear an' come right back. It takes a good 'un to do dat (get a black cat's bone). While you's boilin' de cat dat thunder an' lightnin' look like it goin' tear up de face of de earth—you can even see de wind which is like a red blaze of fire."

Continuing Mr. Strickland says: "Some of de roots dat dey used to bring 'im luck an' to trick folks wid wuz Rattle-Snake Marster, and John de Conquerer. John de Conquerer is supposed to conquer any kind of trouble you gits intuh. Some folks says dat you can tote it in your pocket an' have good luck.

"I once knowed a woman who had some lodestone dat she uster work. She could take men an' dere wives apart an' den put 'em back together again. She say dat she had killed so many folks (by the use of conjure and majic etc.) dat she did'nt know whether she would ever git fit fer forgiveness. She sold She sold herself to de devil fer twenty years."

"Aint nuthin wrong wid folks all de time when dey thinks dey is tricked," says Mr. Strickland. "I had a friend named Joe once an' he uster fool 'roun wid roots an' stuff like dat. One day he heard about a man who had promised to pay five-hundred dollars to anybody dat could cure him of de misery in his stomach. He thought somebody had "tricked" him by puttin' a snake in 'im. Joe stayed wid 'im fer two days an' he did'nt git no better an' so he went out de nex' day an' bought a rubber snake an den he come back an' give de man some medecine to make 'im vomit. When he comited Joe throwed de snake in de can an' den he said to de man: "Dere it is, I knowed somebody had fixed you." De man said: "Dey tol' me somebody had put a snake in me." Joe took de snake an' done away wid it an' de nex' day de man wuz up walkin' 'roun. He never did know how he had been fooled an' Joe made de five-hundred dollars."

According to Mrs. Rush the wife of the colored foreman on her master's plantation was always working with roots. She says "One day I come in fum de field to nurse my baby an' when I got to my house dere was dis woman standing at my door." I said to her: "Name o' God Aunt Candis (dat wus her name) whut is you doin'?" She wus makin' all kings of funny motions when I come up on her. If you aint scared of 'em dey can't do nuthin to you. When I hollored at her de sweat broke out on her face. By dis time I had stayed away fum de field too long an' I knowed I wus goin' to git a whippin' but Candis gimme some of de roots she had in her mouth an'in her pockets. She tol' me to put piece of it in my mouth an' chew it. When I got near de overseer I was to spit some of de juice towars him an' I would'nt git a whippin'. I tied a piece of it 'roun my waist an' put some in my trunk too. I did'nt git a whippin' when I got to de field but when I went to look fer de root 'roun my waist it wus gone. When I went back to de house dat night de other piece was gone too. I aint seed it fum dat day to dis. De rest of de women on de plantation honored Candis but I did'nt. Dey say dat folks like dem can put stuff down fer you to walk in er set in or drink an' dat dey can fix you lie dat. But dey can't do nuthin' wid you if you aint scared of 'em."

"Not so long ago a woman whut uster live back of me tried to do sumpin' to me after we had a fuss. I woke up one mornin' an' looked out by my back fence an' dere wus a lotsa salt an' sulphur an' stuff all 'roun de yard. De other women wus scared fer me but I wus'nt."

Several of my informants say that salt can be used as a weapon of conjure. According to Joe salt may be used to make a gambler lose all of his money. To do this all that is necessary is to stand behind the person to be conjured and then sprinkle a small amount of salt on his back. From that instant on he will lose money. Joe has also seen a woman use the following method to make her male friend remain at home: "She taken some salt an' pepper an' sprinkled it up an' down de steps," says Joe, "an' den she taken a plain eatin' fork an' stuck it under de door steps an' de man stayed right in de house until she moved de fork."

Mr. Stevens says: "If you want to fix somebody all you got to do is to sprinkle some salt an' petter 'roun 'em an' it'll make 'em bus' dere brains out. If you wants to make 'em move you go out to de grave yard an' stick your hand down in de middle of a grave an' git a handful of dat red graveyard dirt an' den you comes back an' sprinkles it 'roun dere door an' dey's gone, dey can't stay dere. Another conjuration is fer a woman to make three waves over a man's head. I saw one do dat once."

Another method used to fix or conjure people, according to Mrs. Rush, is to take a lizard and parch it. The remains must be put in something that the person is to eat and when the food is eaten the individual will be conjured. Mr. Holmes says if a black cat's tail is tied on someone's doorknob it will "cut dey luck off."

Silver money tied around the leg will ward off the effects of conjure. Mrs. Rush says if you are feeling ill and you wish to determine whether or not someone has been trying to conjure you or not just take a silver coin and place it in your mouth. If it turns black somebody is working conjure on you. "I knowed a man who went to Newnan to see his mother who wus sick," stated Mrs. Rush. "She wus so sick dat she could'nt tell whut wus de matter wid her an' so her son took a silver quarter an' put it in her mouth an' it turned as black as a kettle."

Says Mr. Holmes: "If anybody comes to your house an' you don't want 'em dere, when dey leaves you take some salt an' throw it at 'em when dey gits out of hearin' you cuss at 'em an' dey won't never come back again."

Following are some songs that used to be sung about conjure, etc.:


"Mother, make my bed down I will freely lie down, Mother, make my bed down I will freely lie down"


"Ransom, my son, what did she give you to eat? Ransom, my son, what did she give you to eat?


"Red head (parched lizard) and speckle back Oh, make my bed down I will freely lie down."

"I'm goin' to pizen (poison) you, I'm goin' to pizen you, I'm jus' sick an' tired of de way you do, I'm goin' to sprinkle spider legs 'roun yo' bed an' you gonna wake up in de mornin' an find yourself dead"

"You beat me an' you kick me an' you black my eyes, I'm gonna take dis butcher knife an' hew you down to my size, You mark my words, my name is Lou, You mind out what I say, I'm goin' to pizen you."


Mrs. Rush says that backache can be cured by rubbing a hot iron up and down the afflicted person's back.

Asafetida tied around the neck will prevent smallpox.

Risings can be cured by rubbing them with a poultice made from House-Leak root.

To prevent a fall while walking from one side of a creek to the other on a log, place a small stick crosswise in the front-teeth and no mishap will result.

Hold the mouth full of water while peeling onions and the onion juice will not get in the eyes.

If a man wishes to make a woman fall in love with him all that he has to do is to take some of her hair, tie it up, and then throw it in running water. In a short while she will fall deeply in love with him.

A man may also cause a woman to fall in love with him by letting her drink whiskey in which he has allowed "Gin-Root" to soak.

If a woman wishes to make a man fall in love with her she has only to take the small bow usually found in the back of a man's cap on the sweatband, or the bow usually found on the band of the man's hat. After this has been secured it must be taken and worn under her clothes next to her body.


Mrs. Betty Brown of 74 Butler Street, N.E. says that when people die angry with someone they usually come back after death in the form of a witch and then they ride the person that they were angry with at the time of their death.

According to Mr. Favors who lives at 78 Raymond Street, when a witch rides anyone it is a sign that a man, a woman, or a dog, is after that person.

Mrs. Julia Rush says: "De old folks uster call witches hags. Dey wus some kind of sperrits (spirits) an' dey would ride anybody. My grandmother uster sleep wid de sissors under her pillow to keep 'em away."

"I once heerd a woman dat a witch come to a house one night an' took her skin off an' went through de key hole. Somebody foun' de skin an' sprinkled salt on it an' when de witch come out she could'nt git in de skin an' she started saying: 'Skinny, Skinny, don't you know me?'"

Regarding witches Mr. Leonard made the following statement: "The old folks b'lieved dat any house a person died in was "hainted" and dat de dead person's spirit was a witch dat would come back at night. They used to put a pan of salt on de corpse to keep it fum purgin' an' to keep de witches away. They burned lamps all night long fer about three weeks after de person was dead an' they sprinkled salt an' pepper 'roun too to keep de witches away."

Another informant claims that if a person sleeps with his or her shoes under the bed the witches are liable to ride him.

Mr. Strickland says that when the witches are riding anyone if that person can say any three words of the Bible such as: "Lord have mercy," or "Jesus save me" the witch will stop riding.


Mr. Henry Holmes claims that he has seen the Jack O'Lantern and that at one time he even followed it. He says: "One night me an' two more fellows followed de Jack O'Lantern. It looked like a light in a house or sumpin. We did'nt know where we wus until de nex' mornin' an' when we did find ourselfs we wus at home. All de while we followed it it jus' kep' goin' further an' further until it jus' vanished."

According to Mr. Leonard the Jack O'Lantern is a light that comes out of the swamps at night and after getting in front of a person it will lead him on and on. The old folks also used to think that the vapor seen rising out of the swamps at night were ghosts. One night he and his grandfather were walking down the railroad tracks when suddenly his grandfather said: "Stand back dere George don't you see dat man walkin' 'long dere wid no head?" He says, however, that he himself failed to see any such thing.

According to both Mrs. Brown and Mrs. [Rush?] people who are born with cauls (a kind of a veil) over their eyes are able to see ghosts.


Mr. Leonard says that a young man wishing to accompany a young woman to her home always spoke in the following manner: "Dear kind Miss, if you have no objection of my being your protection, I'm going in your direction." It was in this manner that he asked her to allow him to escort her home.

For several years after freedom was declared it was the custom for the bride and the groom to jump over the broom together before they were pronounced man and wife.


The best time to hunt 'possums is on a cloudy night just before the break of day. All of the big ones are out then Mr. Favors claims.



Written by: Louise Oliphant Federal Writers' Project Augusta, Georgia

Edited by: John N. Booth, District Supervisor, Residencies 6 & 7, Federal Writers' Project Augusta, Georgia


Richmond County's older colored citizens, particularly the few surviving ex-slaves, are outspoken in their firm belief concerning powers of conjurers and root workers.

"When it comes to conjuration, don't nobody know more 'bout that, and there ain't nobody had as much of it done to 'em as I have," said a wizened old woman. "I know nobody could stand what I have stood. The first I knowed 'bout conjuration was when a woman named Lucinda hurt my sister. She was always a 'big me,' and her chillun was better than anybody elses. Well her oldest child got pregnant and that worried Lucinda nearly to death. She thought everybody she seed was talkin' 'bout her child. One day she passed my sister and another 'oman standin' on the street laughin' and talkin'. Lucinda was so worried 'bout her daughter she thought they was laughin' at her. She got so mad she cussed 'em out right there and told 'em their 'turn was in the mill.' My sister called the other 'oman in the house and shut the door to keep from listenin' at her. That made it wuss.

"'Bout three weeks later my sister started complainin'. Us had two or three doctors with her, but none of 'em done her any good. The more doctors us got the wuss she got. Finally all of the doctors give her up and told us there warn't nothin' they could do. After she had been sick 'bout two months she told us 'bout a strange man comin' to her house a few days 'fore she took sick. She said he had been there three or four times. She 'membered it when he come back after she took sick and offered to do somethin' for her. The doctors hadn't done her no good and she was just 'bout to let him doctor on her when this 'oman that was with her the day Lucinda cussed 'em out told her he was Lucinda's great uncle. She said that everybody called him the greatest root worker in South Carolina. Then my sister thought 'bout how this man had come to her house and asked for water every time. He wouldn't ever let her get the water for him, he always went to the pump and got it hisself. After he had pumped it off real cool he would always offer to get a bucket full for her. She didn't think nothin' 'bout it and she would let him fill her bucket. That's how he got her.

"She stayed sick a long time and Mamie stayed by her bed 'til she died. I noticed Mamie wipin' her mouth every few minutes, so one day I asked her what did she keep wipin' from my sister's mouth. She told me it wasn't nothin' but spit. But I had got very anxious to know so I stood by her head myself. Finally I seed what it was. Small spiders came crawlin' out of her mouth and nose. Mamie thought it would skeer me, that's why she didn't want me to know.

"That happened on Tuesday and that Friday when she died a small snake come out of her forehead and stood straight up and stuck his tongue out at us. A old man who was sittin' there with us caught the snake, put him in a bottle, and kept him 'bout two weeks before he died.

"Don't think Lucinda didn't have pore Mamie conjured too. Mamie took sick just one month after my sister died. After she found out the doctors couldn't do her no good, she got a real good root worker to doctor on her. He got her up and she stayed up for nearly a year before Lucinda doubled the dose. That time pore Mamie couldn't git up. She suffered and suffered before she died. But Lucinda got her pay for all of it. When Mamie died Lucinda come to see her and said 'some folks was better off dead anyhow'. Mamie's daughter started to jump on her but some of the old folks wouldn't let her.

"Lucinda went a long time, but when she fell she sho' fell hard. She almost went crazy. She stayed sick as long as my sister and Mamie put together. She got so bad off 'til nobody couldn't even go in her house. Everybody said she was reapin' what she sowed. She wouldn't even let her own chillun come in the house. After she got so sick she couldn't get off the bed she would cuss 'em and yell to the top of her voice 'til they left. Nobody didn't feel sorry for her 'cause they knowed she had done too much devilment.

"Just 'fore she died, Lucinda was so sick and everybody was talkin' 'bout it was such a shame for her to have to stay there by herself that her youngest daughter and her husband went to live with her. Her daughter was 'fraid to go by herself. When she died you could stand in the street and hear her cussin' and yellin'. She kept sayin' 'take 'em off of me, I ain't done nothin' to 'em. Tell 'em I didn't hurt 'em, don't let 'em kill me.' And all of a sudden she would start cussin' God and anybody she could think of. When she died it took four men to hold her down in the bed."

"I've been sick so much 'til I can look at other folks when they're sick and tell if its natural sickness or not. Once I seed my face always looked like dirty dish water grease was on it every mornin' 'fore I washed it. Then after I washed it in the places where the grease was would be places that looked like fish scales. Then these places would turn into sores. I went to three doctors and every one of 'em said it was poison grease on my face. I knowed I hadn't put no kind of grease on it, so I couldn't see where it was comin' from. Every time I told my husband 'bout it he got mad, but I never paid too much 'tention to that. Then one day I was tellin' a friend of mine 'bout it, and she told me my husband must be doin' it. I wondered why he would do such a thing and she said he was just 'bout jealous of me.

"The last doctor I went to give me somethin' to put on my face and it really cleared the sores up. But I noticed my husband when my face got clear and he really looked mad. He started grumblin' 'bout every little thing, right or wrong. Then one day he brought me a black hen for dinner. My mind told me not to eat the chicken so I told him I wanted to keep the hen and he got mad 'bout that. 'Bout two or three days later I noticed a big knot on the side of the chicken's head and it bursted inside of that same week. The chicken started drooping 'round and in a week's time that chicken was dead. You see that chicken was poison.

"After that my husband got so fussy I had to start sleepin' in another room. I was still sick, so one day he brought me some medicine he said he got from Dr. Traylor. I tried to take a dose 'cause I knowed if it was from Dr. Traylor it was all right, but that medicine burnt me just like lye. I didn't even try to take no more of it. I got some medicine from the doctor myself and put it in the bottom of the sideboard. I took 'bout three doses out of it and it was doing me good, but when I started to take the fourth dose it had lye in it and I had to throw it away. I went and had the doctor to give me another bottle and I called myself hidin' it, but after I took 'bout six doses, lye was put in it. Then one day a friend of mine, who come from my husband's home, told me he was a root worker and she thought I already knowed it. Well I knowed then how he could find my medicine everytime I hid it. You see he didn't have to do nothin' but run his cards. From then on I carried my medicine 'round in my apron pocket.

"I started sleepin' in the kitchen on a cot 'cause his mother was usin' the other room and I didn't want to sleep with her. Late at night he would come to the window and blow somethin' in there to make me feel real bad. Things can be blowed through the key hole too. I know 'cause I have had it done to me. This kept up for 'bout a year and five or six months. Then 'cause he seed he couldn't do just what he wanted to, he told me to get out. I went 'cause I thought that might help me to git out of my misery. But it didn't 'cause he come where I was every night. He never did try to come in, but us would hear somebody stumblin' in the yard and whenever us looked out to see who it was us always found it was him. Us told him that us seed him out there, but he always denied it. He does it right now or sometimes he gets other root workers to do it for him. Whenever I go out in the yard my feet always feel like they are twistin' over and I can't stop 'em; my legs and knees feel like somethin' is drawin' 'em, and my head starts swimmin'. I know what's wrong, it just what he had put down for me.

"When I get up in the mornin' I always have to put sulphur and salt and pepper in my shoes to keep down the devilment he puts out for me. A man who can do that kind of work give me somethin' to help me, but I was s'posed to go back in six months and I ain't been back. That's why it's started worryin' me again.

"My sister was conjured by openin' the door and eatin' afterwards without washin' her hands," an 80-year old ex-slave remarked. "She had just come home and opened her front door and went in the house to eat before goin' to church. She et her supper and started to church with another of my sisters. After she had gone 'bout two or three blocks she started feelin' sick and walkin' as if she was drunk. My sister tried to make her go back home but she wouldn't. When they got to church she couldn't hardly get up the steps and they warn't in church over fifteen minutes 'fore she had a stroke. Somebody took a car and carried her home. She couldn't even speak for more than a week. The doctor come and 'xamined her, but he said he didn't see nothin' that would cause her to have a stroke. He treated her for 'bout two weeks but she didn't get no better. A friend told us to try a root worker. She said she knowed one that was good on such things. Us was afraid at first, but after the three doctors us had tried didn't seem to do her no good, us decided to get the root worker.

"The root worker come that Wednesday mornin' and looked at her, but he never touched her. He told us she had been hurt, but he could have her on her feet in 'bout a week or ten days. He didn't give her no medicine, and he never come back 'til after she was up and walkin' 'round. She got up in 'bout seven days, and started talkin' earlier than that. The root worker told her she had got conjured by puttin' her hands on somethin' and eatin' without washin' 'em.

"She got along fine for 'bout three years, 'til one day she got home from work and found her house open. She thought her son had gone out and forgot to lock the door. When he come home he told her he had not been back since he left that mornin'. She knowed she didn't forget to lock it, so she guessed somebody had jus 'bout gone in through the window and come out the door. But it was too late then 'cause she had et what was left in the house and had drunk some water.

"That night she had her second stroke. Us sent for the same man who had got her up before, but he said he doubted gettin' her up this time 'cause the person had made a good job of it by puttin' somethin' in her water and t'eat. He treated her, and she got strong enough to sit up in the house, but she soon had the third stroke and then he give her up. She died 'bout two months later.

"I know you don't know how folks can really conjure you. I didn't at one time, but I sho' learnt. Everytime somebody gets sick it ain't natchel sickness. I have seed folks die with what the doctors called consumption, and yet they didn't have it. I have seed people die with heart trouble, and they didn't have it. Folks is havin' more strokes now than ever but they ain't natchel. I have seed folks fixed so they would bellow like a cow when they die, and I have seed 'em fixed so you have to tie them down in bed to die. I've got so I hardly trust anybody."

Estella Jones thinks conjurers and root workers are much more skillful now than formerly. "Folks don't kill you like they used to kill you. They used to put most anythin' in you, but now they got so wise or afraid that somebody will know zactly what killed you, 'til they do it slick as a eel.

"Once a man named John tried to go with a girl but her step-pa, Willie, run him away from the house just like he mought be a dog, so John made it up in his mind to conjure Willie. He went to the spring and planted somethin' in the mouth of it, and when Willie went there the next day to get a drink he got the stuff in the water. A little while after he drunk the water he started gettin' sick. He tried to stay up but every day he got wuss and wuss 'til he got flat down in bed.

"In a few days somethin' started growin' in his throat. Every time they tried to give him soup or anythin' to eat, somethin' would come crawlin' up in his throat and choke him. That was what he had drunk in the spring, and he couldn't eat nothin' or drink nothin'. Finally he got so bad off he claimed somethin' was chokin' him to death, and so his wife sont off and got a fortune teller. This fortune teller said it was a turtle in his throat. He 'scribed the man that had conjured Willie but everybody knowed John had done it 'fore the fortune teller told us. It warn't long after that 'fore Willie was dead. That turtle come up in his throat and choked him to death.

"Some folk don't believe me, but I ain't tellin' no tale 'bout it. I have asked root workers to tell me how they does these things, and one told me that it was easy for folks to put snakes, frogs, turtles, spiders, or most anythin' that you couldn't live with crawlin' and eatin' on the inside of you. He said these things was killed and put up to dry and then beat up into dust like. If any of this dust is put in somethin' you have to eat or drink, these things will come alive like they was eggs hatchin' in you. Then the more they grow, the worse off you get.

"My aun't son had took a girl away from another man who was going with her too. As soon as this man heard they was going to marry, he started studyin' some way to stop it. So he went to a root worker and got somethin' and then went to this girl's house one night when he knew my cousin was there. Finally when he got ready to leave, he was smart enough to get my cousin to take a drink with him.

"That next mornin' the boy was feelin' a little bad, but he never paid too much 'tention to it. Next day he felt a little wuss, and everyday from then on he felt wuss and wuss 'til he got too sick to stay up. One day a old lady who lived next door told us to try a root worker who lived on Jones Street. This man came and told us what was wrong, but said us had waited too long to send for him. He give us some thin' to 'lieve the boy of his misery. Us kept givin' this to him 'til he finally got up. Course he warn't well by no means and this medicine didn't help his stomach. His stomach got so big everybody would ask what was wrong. He told everybody that asked him and some who didn't ask him 'bout the frogs in his stomach. The bigger these frogs got, the weaker he got.

"After he had been sick 'bout four months and the frogs had got to be a pretty good size, you could hear 'em holler everytime he opened his mouth. He got to the place where he wouldn't talk much on account of this. His stomach stuck out so far, he looked like he weighed 250 pounds.

"After these frogs started hollerin' in him, he lived 'bout three weeks, and 'fore he died you could see the frogs jumpin' 'bout in him and you could even feel 'em.

"T'ain't no need talkin'; folks can do anythin' to you they wants to. They can run you crazy or they can kill you. Don't you one time believe that every pore pusson they has in the 'sylum is just natchelly crazy. Some was run crazy on account of people not likin' 'em, some 'cause they was gettin' 'long a little too good. Every time a pusson jumps in the river don't think he was just tryin' to kill hisself; most times he just didn't know what he was doin'.

"My daughter was fixed right here under our noses. She was married and had five little chillun and she was the picture of health. But she had a friend that she trusted too much and this friend was single and in love with my daughter's husband. Diff'unt people told Liza 'bout this girl, but she just didn't believe 'em. Every day this girl was at Liza's house 'til time for Lewis to git off from work. She helped Liza wash, clean up, iron and cook, but she always left at the time for Lewis to git off from work.

"This went on for more'n a year, but I kept tellin' Liza to ween off from this girl 'cause I seed she didn't mean her no good. But Liza was grown and nobody couldn't tell her nothin'. I think she had Liza fixed so she would be crazy 'bout her. People can make you love 'em, even marry 'em when if you was in your right mind you wouldn't give 'em a thought. Anyhow Liza went on with the girl 'til one afternoon while she was comin' from the store she seed Lewis and Edna goin' in a house together. He come home 'bout three hours later, and when Liza asked him why he was so late he told her they had to work late. He didn't know she had seed him and she never told him.

"After this she started watchin' him and Edna, and she soon found out what folks had been tellin' her was true. Still she never told Lewis nothin' 'bout it. She told Edna 'bout seein' 'em and asked her to please let Lewis alone. Edna made up some kind of s'cuse but she never let him alone, and she kept goin' to Liza's house. When things finally went too far, Liza spoke to Lewis 'bout it and asked him to leave Edna alone. He did, but that made Edna mad and that's when she 'cided to kill Liza. Lewis really loved Liza and would do anythin' she asked him to.

"One day Edna come to see Liza, after she had stayed away for 'bout three weeks, and she was more lovin' than ever. She hung around 'til she got a chance to put somethin' in the water bucket, then she left. People can put somethin' in things for you and everybody else can eat or drink it, but it won't hurt nobody but the one it's put there for. When Liza drunk water, she said it tasted like it had salt-peter in it. When she went to bed that night, she never got out 'til she was toted out. She suffered and suffered and we never knowed what was wrong 'til Edna told it herself. She took very sick and 'fore she died she told one of her friends 'bout it and this friend told us, but it was too late then, Liza was dead."



Written by: Louise Oliphant Federal Writers' Project Augusta, Georgia

Edited by: John N. Booth District Supervisor Federal Writers' Project Augusta, Georgia

Belief in charms and conjurs is still prevalent among many of Augusta's older Negroes. Signs and omens also play an important part in their lives, as do remedies and cures handed down by word of mouth from generation to generation.

If a wrestler can get dirt from the head of a fresh grave, sew it up in a sack, and tie it around his waist, no one can throw him.

To make a person leave town, get some dirt out of one of his tracks, sew it up in a sack, and throw it in running water. The person will keep going as long as the water runs.

To take a hair out of a person's head and put it in a live fishes mouth will make the person keep traveling as long as the fish swims.

If someone dies and comes back to worry you, nail some new lumber into your house and you won't be bothered any more.

When the hands of a dead person remain limp, some other member of the family will soon follow him in death.

When a spider builds a web in your house, you may expect a visitor the same color as the spider.

A singing fire is a sign of snow.

If a cat takes up at your house it's a sign of good luck; a dog—bad luck.

If a spark of fire pops on you, it is a sign that you will receive some money or a letter.

To dream of muddy water, maggots, or fresh meat is a sign of death. To dream of caskets is also a sign of death. You may expect to hear of as many deaths as there are caskets in the dream.

To dream of blood is a sign of trouble.

To dream of fish is a sign of motherhood.

To dream of eggs is a sign of trouble unless the eggs are broken. If the eggs are broken, your trouble is ended.

To dream of snakes is a sign of enemies. If you kill the snakes, you have conquered your enemies.

To dream of fire is a sign of danger.

To dream of a funeral is a sign of a wedding.

To dream of a wedding is a sign of a funeral.

To dream of silver money is a sign of bad luck; bills—good luck.

To dream of dead folk is a sign of rain.

Wear a raw cotton string tied in nine knots around your waist to cure cramps.

To stop nosebleed or hiccoughs cross two straws on top of your head.

Lick the back of your hand and swallow nine times without stopping to cure hiccoughs.

Tea made from rue is good for stomach worms.

Corn shuck tea is good for measles; fodder tea for asthma.

Goldenrod tea is good for chills and fever.

Richet weed tea is good for a laxative.

Tea made from parched egg shells or green coffee is good for leucorrhoea.

Black snuff, alum, a piece of camphor, and red vaseline mixed together is a sure cure for piles.

To rid yourself of a corn, grease it with a mixture of castor oil and kerosine and then soak the foot in warm water.

Sulphur mixed with lard is good for bad blood.

A cloth heated in melted tallow will give relief when applied to a pain in any part of the body.

Take a pinch of sulphur in the mouth and drink water behind it to cleanse the blood.

Dog fern is good for colds and fever; boneset tea will serve the same purpose.

Catnip tea is good for measles or hives.

If your right shoe comes unlaced, someone is saying good things about you; left shoe—bad things.

If a chunk of fire falls from the fireplace a visitor is coming. If the chunk is short and large the person will be short and fat, etc.

Don't buy new things for a sick person; if you do he will not live to wear it out.

If a person who has money dies without telling where it is, a friend or relative can find it by going to his grave three nights in succession and throwing stones on it. On the fourth night he must go alone, and the person will tell him where the money is hidden.

If a witch rides you, put a sifter under the bed and he will have to count the holes in the sifter before he goes out, thus giving you time to catch him.

Starch your sweetheart's handkerchief and he will love you more.

Don't give your sweetheart a knife. It will cut your love in two.

If it rains while the sun is shining the devil is beating his wife.

To bite your tongue while talking is a sign that you have told a lie.

Persons with gaps between their front teeth are big liars.

Cut your finger nails on Monday, you cut them for news; Cut them on Tuesday, get a new pair of shoes; Cut them on Wednesday, you cut them for wealth; Cut them on Thursday, you cut them for health; Cut them on Friday, you cut them for sorrow; Cut them on Saturday, see your sweetheart tomorrow; Cut them on Sunday, its safety to seek; But the devil will have you the rest of the week.

If you start some place and forget something don't turn around without making a cross mark and spitting in it, if you do you will have bad luck.

To stump your right foot is good luck, but to stump your left foot is bad luck. To prevent the bad luck you must turn around three times.

It is bad luck for a black cat to cross you to the left, but good luck if he crosses you to the right.

If a picture of a person falls off the wall it is a sign of death.

To dream of crying is a sign of trouble.

To dream of dancing is a sign of happiness.

If you meet a gray horse pulling a load of hay, a red haired person will soon follow.

If you are eating and drop something when you are about to put it in your mouth someone wishes it.

If a child never sees his father he will make a good doctor.

To dream that your teeth fall out is a sign of death in the family.

To dream of a woman's death is a sign of some man's death.

To dream of a man's death is the sign of some woman's death.

If a chicken sings early in the morning a hawk will catch him before night.

Always plant corn on the waste of the moon in order for it to yield a good crop. If planted on the growing of the moon there will be more stalk than corn.

When there is a new moon, hold up anything you want and make a wish for it and you will get it.

If you hear a voice call you and you are not sure it is really someone, don't answer because it may be your spirit, and if you answer it will be a sure sign of death.

Cross eyed women are bad luck to other women, but cross eyed men are good luck to women and vice-versa for men.

To wear a dime around your ankle will ward off witch craft.

To put a silver dime in your mouth will determine whether or not you have been bewitched. If the dime turns black, someone has bewitched you, but if it keeps its color, no one has bewitched you.

To take a strand of a person's hair and nail it in a tree will run that person crazy.

If a rooster crows on your back steps you may look for a stranger.

Chinaberries are good for wormy children.

The top of a pine tree and the top of a cedar tree placed over a large coal of fire, just enough to make a good smoke, will cure chillblain feet.



Written by: Louise Oliphant, Federal Writers' Project Augusta, Georgia

Edited by: John N. Booth, District Supervisor, Federal Writers' Project Augusta, Georgia

There are many ex-slaves living in Richmond County and Augusta who have vivid recollections of the days when their lives were inseparably bound to those of their masters. These people have a past rich in tradition and sentiment, and their memories of customs, habits of work and play, and the superstitious beliefs, which still govern their actions to a large extent weave a colorful pattern in local history.

Mistreatment at the hands of their masters and the watchdog overseers is outstanding in the memory of most of them. "When I was in slavery, us had what you call good white folk. They warn't rich by no means, but they was good. Us had rather have 'em poor and good than rich and mean. Plenty of white folk mistreated they slaves, but ours never mistreated us. They was a man lived in callin' distance, on the next plantation, who worked his slaves day and night and on Sunday for a rarety. You could hear 'em coming from the field about 12 o'clock at night, and they had to be back in the fields by daylight. They couldn't get off on Saturday nights like everbody else. Whenever he bought their clothes, it was on Sunday when they warn't workin'. He was mean, but he was good about buyin' for 'em, new shoes or a suit or anything of the like they said they needed.

"Marster had overseers, but he wouldn't let 'em whip his slaves unmerciful. They always whipped us just as your mamas whips you now.

"Bob Lampkin was the meanest slave owner I ever knowed. He would beat his slaves and everybody else's he caught in the road. He was so mean 'til God let him freeze to death. He come to town and got drunk and when he was going back home in his buggy, he froze stiff going up Race Creek Hill. White and colored was glad when he died.

"His slaves used to run away whenever they got a chance. I 'member he had a real pretty gal on his place. She was light brown and was built up better than anybody I ever saw. One of the overseers was crazy about her, but her mother had told her not to let any of 'em go with her. So this old overseer would stick close 'round her when they was workin', just so he could get a chance to say somethin' to her. He kept followin' this child and followin' this child until she almost went crazy. Way afterwhile she run away and come to our house and stayed 'bout three days. When my marster found out she was there, he told her she would have to go back, or at least she would have to leave his place. He didn't want no trouble with nobody. When that child left us she stayed in the woods until she got so hungry she just had to go back. This old man was mad with her for leavin', and one day while she was in the field he started at her again and when she told him flat footed she warn't goin' with him he took the big end of his cow hide and struck her in the back so hard it knocked her plumb crazy. It was a big lake of water about ten yards in front of 'em, and if her mother hadn't run and caught her she would have walked right in it and drowned.

"In them times white men went with colored gals and women bold. Any time they saw one and wanted her, she had to go with him, and his wife didn't say nothin' 'bout it. Not only the men, but the women went with colored men too. That's why so many women slave owners wouldn't marry, 'cause they was goin' with one of their slaves. These things that's goin' on now ain't new, they been happenin'. That's why I say you just as well leave 'em alone 'cause they gwine to do what they want to anyhow.

"My marster never did whip any grown folk. He whipped chillun when they did anything wrong. He didn't 'low us to eat plums before breakfus, but all the chillun, his too, would die or do it, so every time he caught us he would whip us."

Another ex-slave recalled that "you had to call all your marster's chillun marster or mistis, even the babies. You never wore enough clothes and you always suffered for comfort. Us warn't even 'lowed to have fire. If you had a fireplace in your house, it was took out and the place closed up. If you was ever caught with fire you was beat 'most to death. Many mothers died in confinement on account of takin' cold 'cause us couldn't have fire.

"My young marster tried to go with me, and 'cause I wouldn't go with him he pretended I had done somethin' and beat me. I fought him back because he had no right to beat me for not goin' with him. His mother got mad with me for fightin' him back and I told her why he had beat me. Well then she sent me to the courthouse to be whipped for fightin' him. They had stocks there where most people would send their slaves to be whipped. These stocks was in the shape of a cross, and they would strap your clothes up around your waist and have nothin' but your naked part out to whip. They didn't care about who saw your nakedness. Anyway they beat me that day until I couldn't sit down. When I went to bed I had to lie on my stomach to sleep. After they finished whippin' me, I told them they needn't think they had done somethin' by strippin' me in front of all them folk 'cause they had also stripped their mamas and sisters. God had made us all, and he made us just alike.

"They never carried me back home after that; they put me in the Nigger Trader's Office to be sold. About two days later I was sold to a man at McBean. When I went to his place everbody told me as soon as I got there how mean he was and they said his wife was still meaner. She was jealous of me because I was light; said she didn't know what her husband wanted to bring that half white nigger there for, and if he didn't get rid of me pretty quick she was goin' to leave. Well he didn't get rid of me and she left about a month after I got there. When he saw she warn't comin' back 'til he got rid of me, he brought me back to the Nigger Trader's Office.

"As long as you warn't sold, your marster was 'sponsible for you, so whenever they put you on the market you had to praise yourself in order to be sold right away. If you didn't praise yourself you got a beatin'. I didn't stay in the market long. A dissipated woman bought me and I done laundry work for her and other dissipated women to pay my board 'til freedom come. They was all very nice to me.

"Whenever you was sold your folk never knowed about it 'til afterwards, and sometimes they never saw you again. They didn't even know who you was sold to or where they was carryin' you, unless you could write back and tell 'em.

"The market was in the middle of Broad and Center Streets. They made a scaffold whenever they was goin' to sell anybody, and would put the person up on this so everybody could see him good. Then they would sell him to the highest bidder. Everybody wanted women who would have children fast. They would always ask you if you was a good breeder, and if so they would buy you at your word, but if you had already had too many chillun, they would say you warn't much good. If you hadn't ever had any chillun, your marster would tell 'em you was strong, healthy, and a fast worker. You had to have somethin' about you to be sold. Now sometimes, if you was a real pretty young gal, somebody would buy you without knowin' anythin' 'bout you, just for yourself. Before my old marster died, he had a pretty gal he was goin' with and he wouldn't let her work nowhere but in the house, and his wife nor nobody else didn't say nothin' 'bout it; they knowed better. She had three chillun for him and when he died his brother come and got the gal and the chillun.

"One white lady that lived near us at McBean slipped in a colored gal's room and cut her baby's head clean off 'cause it belonged to her husband. He beat her 'bout it and started to kill her, but she begged so I reckon he got to feelin' sorry for her. But he kept goin' with the colored gal and they had more chillun.

"I never will forget how my marster beat a pore old woman so she couldn't even get up. And 'cause she couldn't get up when he told her to, he hit her on the head with a long piece of iron and broke her skull. Then he made one of the other slaves take her to the jail. She suffered in jail all night, and the jailer heard her moanin' and groanin', so the next mornin' he made marster come and get her. He was so mad 'cause he had to take her out of jail that he had water pumped into her skull just as soon as he got back home. Then he dropped her down in a field and she died 'fore night. That was a sad time. You saw your own folk killed and couldn't say a word 'bout it; if you did you would be beat and sometimes killed too.

"A man in callin' distance from our place had a whippin' pole. This man was just as mean as he could be. I know he is in hell now, and he ought to be. A woman on his place had twins and she warn't strong from the beginnin'. The day after the chillun was borned, he told her to go over to his house and scrub it from front to back. She went over to the house and scrubbed two rooms and was so sick she had to lay down on the floor and rest awhile. His wife told her to go on back to her house and get in bed but she was afraid. Finally she got up and scrubbed another room and while she was carryin' the water out she fainted. The mistress had some of the men carry her home and got another slave to finish the scrubbin' so the marster wouldn't beat the pore nigger. She was a good woman but her husband was mean as the devil. He would even beat her. When he got home that night he didn't say nothin' 'cause the house had been scrubbed, but the next mornin' one of the chillun told him about the woman faintin' and the other girl finishin' the scrubbin'. He got mad and said his wife was cloakin' for the slaves, that there was nothin' wrong with the woman, she was just lazy. He beat his wife, then went out and tied the pore colored woman to a whippin' pole and beat her unmerciful. He left her hangin' on the pole and went to church. When he got back she was dead. He had the slaves take her down and bury her in a box. He said that laziness had killed her and that she warn't worth the box she was buried in. The babies died the next day and he said he was glad of it 'cause they would grow up lazy just like their mother.

"My marster had a barrel with nails drove in it that he would put you in when he couldn't think of nothin' else mean enough to do. He would put you in this barrel and roll it down a hill. When you got out you would be in a bad fix, but he didn't care. Sometimes he rolled the barrel in the river and drowned his slaves.

"I had a brother who worked at the acadamy and every night when the teacher had his class he would let my brother come in. He taught him to read and write too. He learned to read and write real well and the teacher said he was the smartest one in the class. Marster passed our window one night and heard him readin'. The next mornin' he called him over to the house and fooled him into readin' and writin', told him he had somethin' he wanted him to do if he could read and write good enough. My brother read everythin' marster give him and wrote with a pencil and ink pen. Marster was so mad that he could read and write better than his own boy that he beat him, took him away from the academy, and put him to work in the blacksmith shop. Marster wouldn't let him wear no shoes in the shop 'cause he wanted the hot cinders to fall on his feet to punish him. When the man in charge of the shop told marster he wouldn't work my brother unless he had on shoes, he bought some brogans that he knowed he couldn't wear, and from then on he made him do the hardest kind of work he could think of.

"My marster never whipped us himself. He had a coachman do all the whippin' and he stood by to see that it was done right. He whipped us until we was blistered and then took a cat-o-nine-tails and busted the blisters. After that he would throw salty water on the raw places. I mean it almost gave you spasms. Whenever they sent you to the courthouse to be whipped the jail keeper's daughter give you a kick after they put you in the stocks. She kicked me once and when they took me out I sho did beat her. I scratched her everwhere I could and I knowed they would beat me again, but I didn't care so long as I had fixed her."

One ex-slave "belonged to an old lady who was a widow. This lady was very good to me. Of course most people said it was 'cause her son was my father. But she was just good to all of us. She did keep me in the house with her. She knowed I was her son's child all right. When I married, I still stayed with my mistress 'til she died. My husband stayed with his marster in the day time and would come and stay with me at night.

"When my mistress died I had to be sold. My husband told me to ask his marster to buy me. He didn't want me to belong to him because I would have to work real hard and I hadn't been use to no hard work, but he was so afraid somebody would buy me and carry me somewhere way off, 'til he decided it was best for his marster to buy me. So his marster bought me and give me and my husband to his son. I kept house and washed for his son as long as he was single. When he married his wife changed me from the house and put me in the field and she put one of the slaves her mother give her when she married, in the kitchen. My marster's wife was very mean to all of us. She didn't like me at all. She sold my oldest child to somebody where I couldn't ever see him any more and kept me. She just did that to hurt me. She took my baby child and put her in the house with her to nurse her baby and make fire. And all while she was in the house with her she had to sleep on the floor.

"Whenever she got mad with us she would take the cow hide, that's what she whipped us with, and whip us 'til the blood ran down. Her house was high off the ground and one night the calf went under the house and made water. The next morning she saw it, so she took two of my sister-in-law's chillun and carried 'em in the kitchen and tied 'em. She did this while her husband was gone. You see if he had been there he wouldn't have let her done that. She took herself a chair and sit down and made one of the slaves she brought there with her whip those chillun so 'til all of the slaves on the place was cryin'. One of the slaves run all the way where our marster was and got him. He come back as quick as he could and tried to make her open the door, but she wouldn't do it so he had to break the door in to make her stop whippin' them chillun. The chillun couldn't even cry when he got there. And when he asked her what she was whippin' them for she told him that they had went under the house and made that water. My master had two of the men to take 'em over to our house, but they was small and neither one ever got over that whippin'. One died two days later and the other one died about a month afterwards. Everybody hated her after that.

"Just before freedom declared, my husband took very sick and she took her husband and come to my house to make him get up. I told her that he was not able to work, but my husband was so scared they would beat me to death 'til he begged me to hush. I expect marster would have if he hadn't been scared of his father. You see his father give me to him. He told me if the legislature set in his behalf he would make me know a nigger's place. You know it was near freedom. I told him if he made my husband get out of bed as sick as he was and go to work, I would tell his father if he killed me afterwards. And that's one time I was goin' to fight with 'em. I never was scared of none of 'em, so I told 'em if they touched my husband they wouldn't touch nothin' else. They wouldn't give us nothin' to eat that whole day.

"Course we never did have much to eat. At night they would give us a teacup of meal and a slice of bacon a piece for breakfus' the next mornin'. If you had chillun they would give you a teacup of meal for two chillun. By day light the next mornin' the overseer was at your house to see if you was out, and if you hadn't cooked and eat and got out of that house he would take that bull whip, and whip you nearly to death. He carried that bull whip with him everywhere he went.

"Those folks killed one of my husband's brothers. He was kind of crack-brained, and 'cause he was half crazy, they beat him all the time. The last time they beat him we was in the field and this overseer beat him with that bull hide all across the head and everywhere. He beat him until he fell down on his knees and couldn't even say a word. And do you know he wouldn't even let a one of us go to see about him. He stayed stretched out in the the field 'til us went home. The next mornin' he was found dead right where he had beat him that evenin'.

"'Bout two or three weeks later than that they told one of the slaves they was goin' to beat him after we quit work that evenin'. His name was Josh.

"When the overseer went to the other end of the field Josh dropped his hoe and walked off. Nobody saw him anymore for about three weeks. He was the best hand us had and us sho' did need him. Our master went everywhere he could think of, lookin' for Josh, but he couldn't find him and we was glad of it. After he looked and looked and couldn't find him he told all of us to tell Josh to come back if we knowed where he was. He said if Josh would come back he wouldn't whip him, wouldn't let the overseer whip him. My husband knowed where he was but he warn't goin' to tell nobody. Josh would come to our house every night and us would give him some of what us had for dinner and supper. Us always saved it for him. Us would eat breakfus' at our house, but all of us et dinner and supper at the mess house together. Everyday when I et dinner and supper I would take a part of mine and my husband would take a part of his and us would carry it to our house for pore Josh. 'Bout 'leven o'clock at night, when everybody was sleep, Josh would come to the side window and get what us had for him. It's really a shame the way that pore man had to hide about just to keep from bein' beat to death 'bout nothin'. Josh said the first day he left he went in the woods and looked and looked for a place to hide. Later he saw a tree that the wind had blowed the top off and left 'bout ten feet standin'. This was rather a big tree and all of the insides had rotted out. I reckon you have seen trees like that. Well that's the way this one was. So Josh climbed up this tree and got down inside of it. He didn't know there was nothin' down in that tree, but there was some little baby bears in there. Then there he was down there with no way to come out, and knowin' all the time that the mama bear was comin' back. So he thought and thought and thought. After while he thought 'bout a knife he had in his pocket. You see he couldn't climb out of the tree, it was too tall. When he heard the bear climbin' up the tree he opened his knife. Have you ever seen a bear comin' down a tree? Well he comes down backwards. So when this bear started down inside of the tree he went down backwards, and Josh had his knife open and just caught him by the tail and begin stickin' him with the knife. That's the way Josh got out of that tree. When he stuck the bear with the knife the bear went back up the tree, and that pulled Josh up. And when the bear got to the top of the tree Josh caught a hold of the tree and pulled himself on out, but the bear fell and broke his neck. Well Josh had to find him somewhere else to hide. In them times there was big caves in the woods, not only the woods but all over the country, and that's where pore Josh hid all while he was away. Josh stayed there in that cave a long time then he come on back home. He didn't get a whippin' either."

Childhood memories were recalled by an old woman who said: "When I was about nine years old, for about six months, I slept on a crocus bag sheet in order to get up and nurse the babies when they cried. Do you see this finger? You wonder why its broke? Well one night the babies cried and I didn't wake up right away to 'tend to 'em and my mistess jumped out of bed, grabbed the piece of iron that was used to push up the fire and began beatin' me with it. That's the night this finger got broke, she hit me on it. I have two more fingers she broke beatin' me at diff'unt times. She made me break this leg too. You see they would put the women in stocks and beat 'em whenever they done somethin' wrong. That's the way my leg was broke. You see us had to call all of our marster's chillun 'mistess' or 'marster.' One day I forgot to call one of my young mistesses, 'miss.' She was about eight or nine months old. My mistess heard me and put me in a stock and beat me. While she was beatin' me, I turned my leg by some means and broke it. Don't you think she quit beatin' me 'cause I had broke my leg. No, that made no diff'unce to her. That's been years ago, but it still worries me now. Now other times when you called your marster's chillun by their names, they would strip you and let the child beat you. It didn't matter whether the child was large or small, and they always beat you 'til the blood ran down.

"Have you ever slept in the grave yard? I know you haven't but I have. Many a time when I was told that I was goin' to get a beatin', I would hide away in the cemetery where I stayed all night layin' in gullies between graves prayin'. All night long I could see little lights runnin' all over the grave yard, and I could see ha'nts, and hear 'em sayin' 'Uh, Uh, Uh, Uh, Uh,' which meant they were pityin' my case.

"When they whipped the men, all their clothes was took off, their hands was fastened together and then they wound 'em up in the air to a post and tied their feet to the bottom of the post. They would begin whippin' 'em at sundown, and sometimes they would be whippin' 'em as late as 'leven o'clock at night. You could hear 'em cryin' and prayin' a long ways off. When they prayed for the Lord to have mercy, their marster would cuss the Lord and tell 'em they better not call his name again."

The whipping pole, as described by Lizzie, was a long post several feet in diameter to which was attached a long rope through a pulley. On one end was a device, similiar to the modern handcuff—the other end was used to draw the hand to an upward position, thereby, rendering the individual helpless. At the base of the pole was a clamp like instrument which held the feet in a motionless position.

Roy Redfield recalls going to the courthouse and seeing the older slaves whipped. "When I would go there with my young marster I would see 'em whippin' the slaves. You see they had stocks there then, and they wouldn't put you in jail like they do now. Your marster or mistess would send you to the courthouse with a note and they would put you in them stocks and beat you, then they would give you a note and send you back. They never did beat me, if they had my old mistess would have raised sand with 'em. Whenever I was whipped my mother did it. I warn't no slave and my ma neither, but my pa was.

"When they whipped you they would strap you down in them stocks, then a man would wind the whippin' machine and beat you 'til they had given you the number of lashes your boss had on the note. I didn't see them whippin' any women there, so I can't say they did and I can't say they didn't.

"My master wouldn't let us go to school, but his chillun would slip 'round and teach us what they could out of their books. They would also give us books to read. Whenever their pa or ma caught them tryin' to teach us they always whipped them. I learned to read and write from 'em and I'll never forget how hard it was for 'em to get a chance to teach me. But if they caught you tryin' to write they would cut your finger off and if they caught you again they would cut your head off.

"When I was a young man, a old man stole the head and pluck (pluck is the liver and lites) out of the hog (some people call it the haslet) and hid it up in the loft of his house. When his marster missed it he went to this man's house lookin' for it. The man told him that he didn't have it. He had already told his wife if his marster come not to own it either. Well his master kept askin' him over and over 'bout the head and pluck, but they denied having it. The marster told 'em if they didn't give it to him and that quick he was goin' to give 'em a thousand lashes each, if less didn't kill 'em. This woman's husband told her not to own it. He told her to take three thousand lashes and don't own it. So their marster whipped her and whipped her, but she wouldn't own it. Finally he quit whippin' her and started whippin' the old man. Just as soon as he started whippin' the man he told his wife to go up in the loft of the house and throw the head and pluck down 'cause he didn't want it.

"You always had to get a pass when goin' out. Sometimes, when you wouldn't be thinking, a patter roller would step up to the door and ask who was there. If any visitor was there they would ask 'em to show their pass. If you didn't have a pass they would take you out and beat you, then make you go home and when you got home, your marster would take you to the barn, strip you buck naked, tie you to a post and beat you. Us didn't have to get passes whenever us wanted to go visitin'. All us had to do was tell 'em who us belonged to, and they always let us by. They knowed our marster would let us go 'thout passes.

"Us used to go to barn dances all the time. I never will forget the fellow who played the fiddle for them dances. He had run away from his marster seven years before. He lived in a cave he had dug in the ground. He stayed in this cave all day and would come out at night. This cave was in the swamp. He stole just 'bout everythin' he et. His marster had been tryin' to catch him for a long time. Well they found out he was playin' for these dances and one night us saw some strange lookin' men come in but us didn't pay it much 'tention. Us always made a big oak fire and thats where us got mos' of our light from. Well these men danced with the girls a good while and after a while they started goin' out one by one. Way after while they all came back in together, they had washed the blackenin' off their faces, and us seen they was white. This man had a song he would always sing. 'Fooled my marster seven years—expect to fool him seven more.' So when these men came in they went to him and told him maybe he had fooled 'em for seven years, but he wouldn't fool 'em seven more. When they started to grab him he just reached in the fire and got a piece of wood that was burnin' good on one end and waved it all around (in a circle) until he set three of 'em on fire. While they was puttin' this fire out he run out in the swamp and back in his cave. They tried to catch him again. They painted their faces and done just like they did the first time, but this time they carried pistols. When they pulled their pistols on him he did just like he did the first time, and they never did catch him. He stopped comin' to play for the dances after they was straight after him. Dogs couldn't trail him 'cause he kept his feet rubbed with onions.

"I have seen some marsters make their slaves walk in snow knee deep, barefooted. Their heels would be cracked open jus' like corn bread.

"The only real mean thing they did to us when I was young was to sell my father when our marster died. They sold him to somebody way off, and they promised to bring him back to see us, but they never did. We always wished he would come, but until this day us hasn't laid eyes on him again. My mother worried 'bout him 'til she died.

"Chillun didn't know what shoes was 'til they was 'bout fifteen years old. They would go a mile or a mile and a half in the snow for water anytime, and the only thin' they ever had on their feet would be somethin' made out of home-spun. You don't hardly hear of chilblain feet now, but then most every child you saw had cracked heels. The first pair of shoes I ever wore, I was sixteen years old, was too small for me and I pulled 'em off and throwed 'em in the fire."

[HW: Dist. #2 Ex. Slave #99]




The ex-slaves interviewed ranged in ages from 75 to 100 years old. Out of about thirty-five negroes contacted only two seemed to feel bitter over memories of slave days. All the others spoke with much feeling and gratitude of the good old days when they were so well cared for by their masters. Without exception the manners of these old men and women were gentle and courteous. The younger ones could pass on to us only traditional memories of slavery times, as given them by their parents; on some points a few were vague, while others could give clear-cut and vivid pictures.

Practically all the Negroes interviewed seemed to be of pure African blood, with black or dark brown skin, Negroid features, and kinky, tightly wrapped wool. Most of the women were small and thin. We found one who had a strain of Indian blood, a woman named Mary, who belonged to John Roof. Her grandfather was an Indian, and her grandmother was part Indian, having migrated into South Carolina from Virginia.

Sarah Ray, who was born on the Curtis Lowe place in McDuffie County was one of the few ex-slaves contacted, who was admittedly half-white. Although now wrinkled and weazened with age she has no definite Negroid features. Her eyes are light hazel and her hair fluffs about her face in soft ringlets instead of the tight kinks of the pure Negro.

"My father was a white man, de overseer," said Sarah. "Leastways, dey laid me to him."

Sarah was brought up like the Negro children on the plantation. She had no hard work to do. Her mother was a field hand, and they lived in a little house in the quarters. "De ve'y fust thing I kin remember is ridin' down de road in de ox cart wid my mammy," she said. "Ole man Eli wus drivin'. We wus goin' to Miss Meg's on de odder side o' Hart's Branch. Marster had give us to Miss Meg when she married Mr. Obediah Cloud."


The slave houses were called "quarters," which consisted generally of a double row of houses facing each other in a grove of trees behind the "big house." On prosperous plantations each of these cabins had a garden plot and a chicken yard. Some of them were built of logs, but many were of planks. Most of them were large, one-room, unceiled, with open fireplaces at one end for cooking. When families grew too large a shed room would be "drap down on de back." Another type of slave cabin was called the "Double-pen" house. This was a large two-room cabin, with a chimney between the two rooms, and accommodating two families. On the more prosperous plantations the slave quarters were white-washed at intervals.

On plantations housing arrangements were left entirely to the discretion of the owner, but in the cities strict rules were made. Among the ordinances of the City Council of Augusta, dated from August 10th, 1820-July 8, 1829, Section 14, is the following law concerning the housing of slaves:

"No person of color shall occupy any house but that of some white person by whom he or she is owned or hired without a license from the City Council. If this license is required application must first be made for permission to take it out. If granted the applicant shall give bond with approved security, not exceeding the sum of $100.00 for his or her good behavior. On execution of charge the Clerk shall issue the license. Any person renting a house, or tenament contrary to this section or permitting the occupancy of one, may be fined in a sum not exceeding $50.00."

Descriptions were given of housing conditions by quite a number of slaves interviewed. Fannie Fulcher, who was a slave on Dr. Balding Miller's plantation in Burke County described the slave quarters thus: "Houses wus built in rows, one on dat side, one on dis side—open space in de middle, and de overseer's house at de end, wid a wide hall right through it. (Fannie was evidently referring to the breezeway or dogtrot, down the middle of many small plantation houses). We cook on de fireplace in de house. We used to have pots hanging right up in de chimbley. When dere wus lots of chillun it wus crowded. But sometimes dey took some of 'em to de house for house girls. Some slep' on de flo' and some on de bed. Two-three houses had shed rooms at de back. Dey had a patch sometime. My father, he used to have a patch. He clean it up hisself at night in de swamp."

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