"As I has said once, de fields was in lay-by shape and de Missus done already got de house cleaned. De chilluns was put in one room to sleep and dat make more room fer de preachers and guests dat gwine to visit in de big house fer de nex' six weeks. Den de plans fer cooking had to be brung 'bout. Dey never had no ice in dem days as you well knows; but us had a dry well under our big house. It was deep and everything keep real cool down dar. Steps led down into it, and it allus be real dark down dar. De rats run aroun' down dar and de younguns skeert to go down fer anything. So us carry a lightwood not [HW: knot] fer light when us put anything in it or take anything out. Dar ain't no need fer me to tell you 'bout de well house where us kept all de milk and butter, fer it was de talk o' de country 'bout what nice fresh milk and butter de missus allus had. A hollow oak log was used fer de milk trough. Three times a day Cilla had her lil' boy run fresh cool well water all through de trough. Dat keep de milk from gwine to whey and de butter fresh and cool. In de dry well was kept de canned things and dough to set till it had done riz. When company come like dey allus did fer de camp meetings, shoalts and goats and maybe a sheep or lamb or two was kilt fer barbecue out by Cilla's cabin. Dese carcasses was kept down in de dry well over night and put over de pit early de next morning after it had done took salt. Den dar was a big box kivvered wid screen wire dat victuals was kept in in de dry well. Dese boxes was made rat proof.
"Whilst de meats fer de company table was kept barbecued out in de yard, de cakes, pies, breads, and t'other fixings was done in de kitchen out in de big house yard. Baskets had ter be packed to go to camp meetin'. Tables was built up at Rogers under de big oak trees dat has all been cut down now. De tables jes' groaned and creeked and sighed wid victuals at dinner hour every day durin' de camp meetin'.
"Missus fetch her finest linens and silver and glasses to out-shine dem brung by de t'other white folks o' quality. In dem days de white folks o' quality in Union most all come from Goshen Hill and Fish Dam. After de white folks done et all dey could hold den de slaves what had done come to church and to help wid de tables and de carriages would have de dinner on a smaller table over clost to de spring. Us had table cloths on our table also and us et from de kitchen china and de kitchen silver.
"Young gals couldn't eat much in public, kaise it ain't stylish fer young courting gals to let on like dey has any appetite to speak of. I sees dat am a custom dat still goes amongst de wimmen folks, not to eat, so heavy. Cullud gals tried to do jes' like de young white missus would do.
"After everything was done eat it would be enough to pack up and fetch back home to feed all de hungry niggers what roams roun' here in Union now. Dem was de times when everybody had 'nuff to eat and more dan dey wanted and plenty clothes to wear!
"During de preaching us darkies sot in de back o' de church. Our white folks had some benches dar dat didn't nobody set on 'cept de slaves. Us wore de best clo'es dat us had. De Marse give us a coat and a hat and his sons give all de old hats and coats 'round. Us wore shirts and pants made from de looms. Us kept dem clean't and ironed jes' like de Marster and de young marsters done their'n. Den us wore a string tie, dat de white folks done let us have, to church. Dat 'bout de onliest time dat a darky was seed wid a tie. Some de oldest men even wore a cravat, dat dey had done got from de old marster. Us combed our hair on Sunday fer church. But us never bothered much wid it no other time. During slavery some o' de old men had short plaits o' hair.
"De gals come out in de starch dresses fer de camp meeting. Dey took dey hair down out'n de strings fer de meeting. In dem days all de darky wimmens wore dey hair in string 'cep' when dey 'tended church or a wedding. At de camp meetings de wimmens pulled off de head rags, 'cept de mammies. On dis occasion de mammies wore linen head rags fresh laundered. Dey wore de best aprons wid long streamers ironed and starched out a hanging down dey backs. All de other darky wimmens wore de black dresses and dey got hats from some dey white lady folks; jes' as us mens got hats from our'n. Dem wimmens dat couldn't git no hats, mostly wore black bonnets. De nigger gals and winches did all de dressing up dat dey could fer de meeting and also fer de barbecue.
"At night when de meeting dun busted till nex' day was when de darkies really did have dey freedom o' spirit. As de waggin be creeping along in de late hours o' moonlight and de darkies would raise a tune. Den de air soon be filled wid the sweetest tune as us rid on home and sung all de old hymns dat us loved. It was allus some big black nigger wid a deep bass voice like a frog dat ud start up de tune. Den de others mens jine in, followed up by de fine lil voices o' de gals and de cracked voices o' de old wimmens and de grannies. When us reach near de big house us soften down to a deep hum dat de missus like! Sometime she his't up de window and tell us sing 'Swing Low Sweet Cha'ot' for her and de visiting guests. Dat all us want to hear. Us open up and de niggers near de big house dat hadn't been to church would wake up and come out to de cabin door and jine in de refrain. From dat we'd swing on into all de old spirituals dat us love so well and dat us knowed how to sing. Missus often 'low dat her darkies could sing wid heaven's 'spiration (inspiration). Now and den some old mammie would fall out'n de waggin a shoutin' Glory and Hallelujah and Amen! After dat us went off to lay down fer de night.
"Young Newt and Anderson was de boys what was near de age of me and John. Co'se dey went to school every day it was in session. Dey had dey own hosses and dey rid 'em to school. When dey come home dey would throw de reins to me and John and us took dem hosses and rub dem down and feed 'em.
"Lots of times Newt and Anderson would tell me and John to come and git under de steps while ole Marse was eating his supper. When he git up from de table us lil' niggers would allus hear de sliding o' his chair, kaize he was sech a big fat man. Den he go into de missus room to set by de fire. Dar he would warm his feets and have his Julip. Quick as lightning me and John scamper from under de steps and break fer de big cape jasamine bushes long de front walk. Dar we hide, till Anderson and Newt come out a fetching ham biscuit in dey hands fer us. It would be so full of gravy, dat sometime de gravy would take and run plumb down to de end o' my elbow and drap off, 'fo I could git it licked offn my wrists. Dem was de best rations dat a nigger ever had. When dey had honey on de white folks table, de boys never did fail to fetch a honey biscuit wid dem. Dat was so good dat I jest take one measley lil' bite of honey and melted butter on my way to de 'quarter. I would jest taste a leetle. When I git to Mammy den me and Mammy set off to ourself's and taste it till it done all gone. Us had good times den; like I never is had befo' or since.
"Soon atter dat dey sent me and John to de field to larn drapping. I had to drap peas in every other hill and John had to drap de corn in de rest. De overseer, ole man Wash Evans, come down dar to see how us was a doing. Den us got dat skeert dat us got de corn and peas mixed up. He started to hit us wid de whip dat he had hung 'round his waist. Bout dat time Marse Tom rid up. He made de overseer git out'n dem corn rows and let us 'lone. After dat us got 'long fine wid our drapping. When it come up everybody could see dem rows dat us had done got mixed up on when de overseer was dar. Marse Tom was dat good to his hands dat dey all love him all de time. But one day when ole man Evans come through de field and see dem rows he did call me and John off and whip us. Dat de most dat I ever got whipped. Marse got shed o' de overseer soon after dat.
"It was just like dis. Ole man Wash Evans was a wicked man. He take 'vantage of all de slaves when he git half chance. He was great source of worriment to my Mammy, ole lady Lucy Price and 'nother 'oman, ole lady Lucy Charles. Course he 'vantage over all de darkies and fer dat reason he could sway everything his way, most all de time. But my mammy and ole lady Lucy was 'ligious wimmens. Dat didn't make no diffuns wid wicked old man Evans. One day Missus sent my mammy and de other ole lady Lucy to fetch her some blackberries by dinner.
"Me and John was wid dem a pickin' and fillin' o' de big buckets from de lil' buckets when ole man Evans come riding up. He argued wid both mammy and ole lady Lucy and dey kept telling him dat de missus want her berries and dat dey was 'ligious wimmens anyhow and didn't practice no life o' sin and vile wickedness. Finally he got down off'n his hoss and pull out his whip and low if dey didn't submit to him he gwine to beat dem half to death. At [HW: that] me and John took to de woods. But we peep. My mammy and old lady Lucy start to crying and axing him not to whip dem.
"Finally dey act like dey gwine to indulge in de wickedness wid dat ole man. But when he tuck off his whip and some other garments, my Mammy and ole lady Lucy grab him by his goatee and further down and hist him over in de middle of dem blackberry bushes. Wid dat dey call me and John. Us grab all de buckets and us all put out fer de 'big house' fas' as our legs could carry us. Ole man Evans jest er hollering and er cussing down in dem briars. Quick as us git to de big house us run in de kitchen. Cilla call Missus. She come and ax what ailing us and why we is so ashy looking. Well, my Mammy and ole lady Lucy tell de whole story of dey humiliations down on de creek.
"Missus 'lowed dat it didn't make no diffuns if Marse was in Union, she gwinter act prompt. So she sent fer Mr. Evans and he took real long to git dar, but when he do come, Missus, she 'low—'Mr. Evans, us does not need yo' services on dis plantation no mo', Sir!' He 'low Marse aint here. Missus 'low—'I does not want to argue de point wid ye, Mr. Evans, fer yo' services has come to an end on dis plantation!' Wid dat ole man Evans go off wid his head a-hanging in shame. Us niggers went out and tole de news wid gladness shining out from our eyes, kaise us was dat glad dat we did not know what to do.
"All de fields was enclosed wid a split rail fence in dem days. De hands took dey rations to de field early every morning and de wimmens slack work round eleven by de sun fer to build de fire and cook dinner. Missus 'low her niggers to git buttermilk and clabber, when de cows in full, to carry to de field fer drinking at noon, dat is twelve o'clock. All de things was fetched in waggins and de fire was built and a pot was put to bile wid greens when dey was in season. Over coals meat was baked and meal in pones was wrapped in poplar leaves to bake in de ashes. 'Taters was done de same way, both sweet 'taters and irish. Dat made a good field hand dinner. Plenty was allud had and den 'lasses was also fetched along. Working niggers does on less dese days.
"Does you know dat de poplar leaves was wet afo' de meal pone was put in it? Well, it was, and when it got done de ashes was blowed off wid your breath and den de parched leaves folded back from de cooked pone. De poplar leaves give de ash cake a nice fresh sweet taste. All forks and spoons was made out'n sticks den; even dem in de big house kitchen. Bread bowls and dough trays was all made by de skilled slaves in de Marse's shop, by hands dat was skilled to sech as dat.
"Young chilluns and babies was kept at home by de fire and nursed and cared fer by de ole wimmens dat couldn't do no field work. De chief one on our plantation during my 'membrance was ole aunt Abbie. She had head o' de chilluns all over de plantation when dey mamies was a working in de field. Marse Tom used to ride through de 'quarters' every day to see about ole lady Abbie and de chilluns when dey parents was at work in de fields during de working season. Ole lady Abbie had to see to it dat dey was kept warm by de fire and dat dey clothes was kept up wid while dey mammies was in de field. Dem chilluns on our plantation was well looked after. De seamstresses also kept our work clothes patched and darned, till new ones was wove fer us.
"Sides dat dem chilluns was fed. Each child had a maple fork and spoon to eat wid. Lil' troughs was made fer dem to eat de milk and bread from. 'Shorts', low stools, was made fer dem to set up to de troughs to, whilst dey was eating. De other ole ladies helped wid de preparations of dey messes o' vittals. One ole woman went her rounds wid a wet rag a wiping dem chilluns dresses when dey would spill dey milk and bread. Marse Tom and sometime Missus come to see de lil' babies whilst dey was a eating. De other ole ladies 'tended to de small babies. Sometimes it was many as fifteen on de plantation at one time dat was too little to walk.
"Dey mammies was not worked on our plantation till de babies was big 'nough to take a bottle. And in dem days no bottle was given no baby under a year old. De wimmins in family way was better cared for den dese young niggers now-a-days. Marse Tom never bred no slaves but he did care fer his niggers when dey married and got dey own chilluns. I has done related to you how dey fixed de medicines and things. Dem babies was washed every day if dey mammies was in de field, dat never made no diffuns, kaise it was de old ladies' jobs to see to it dat dey was. Younguns on de plantation was bathed two or three times a week. Mullein leaves and salt was biled in great big pot to put in de babies' wash water and also in de chilluns' water. Dis would keep 'em from gitting sick. Den dey was allus greased after de washing to keep de skin from busting open. Mosely dey was greased wid tallow from de mutton. Mr. Anderson took medicine and after dat he doctor all de slaves fer his paw free.
"While de Yankees had everything closed up down in Charleston it was hard to git anything in dis country into de sto's. Us allus traded at de post (Goshen Hill Trading Post). If I recollects correctly it was during dis period dat Marse Tom let my Mammy go up to de post to fetch back her a bonnet.
"Up dar dey took cotton and corn and anything like dat in trade dat dey could sell to de folks dat was working on de railroad bed dat was gwine through dat country (Seaboard Airline). So Mammy took a lot of cotton wid her to de post. She knowd dat it was gwine to take lots to git dat bonnet. It weren't but three and a half miles de short way to de post from our place.
"I's gwine long wid her and so I had to wear some pants to go to de post as dat was big doings fer a lil' darky boy to git to go to de trading center. So aunt Abbie fotched me a pair of new pants dat was dat stiff, dat dey made me feel like I was all closed up in a jacket, atter being used to only a shirt-tail!
"Well, it wasn't fur and us arriv' dar early in de day. Mammy said 'howdy' to all de darkies what dar and I look at dem from behind her skirts. I felt real curious-like all inside. But she never give me no mind whatever. She never act like she knowd dat I was pulling her dress at all. I seed so many things dat I never had seed befo', not in all my born days. Red sticks o' candy was a laying right dar fo' my eyes, jes' like de folks from de big house brung us at Christmas. It was not near Christmas den, kaise it was jest cotton picking time and I wondered how-come dey was having candy in de store fer, now-how.
"Mammy look down at me and she say to de white man wid a beard, 'Marse, please sir, give me five cent worth peppermint candy.' Den when he hand her de bag she break off lil' piece and hand it to me, and wall her eyes at me and say in a low voice, 'Don' you dare git none dat red on yo' clean shirt, if you wants to git home widout gitting wo' plumb smack out.'
"Den she talk about de bonnets. Finally she git one fer ten dollars worth o' cotton. Money wasn't nothing in dem times. By dis time us had done started on our return home and I was starting to feel more like I allus felt.
"Nigger, what dat you is done gone and got on dat clean shirt? Didn't you hear me tell you not to git dat new shirt all red? Look dar a streaming down off'n your chin at dar red. How is I gwine to ever teach you anything, when you act jest like a nigger from some pore white trashes poor land?'
"When we gits to dat branch now I's got to stop and wash dat dirty black mouth and den I can't git dat red candy off'n dat shirt. What ole lady Abbie gwine to say to ye when she see you done gone and act like you ain't never seed no quality befo'?
"Atter I has done tole you all de way from home how you must act at de post den you goes and does like you is. Aint never gwine to carry you nowhars 'gin long as I lives.
"Bend dat lazy, good-fer-nothing back so as I won't git you wet all de way down your belly, you hear me? Now you is looking like you belongs to Marse Tom 'gin. Gimme dat candy right now; I gwine to see to it dat you gits back home looking like somet'ing after all my worriments wid ye.'
"Mammy seed dust a flying and de hoss come a-bringing Marse Tom down de road. Mammy drap everything in the dust and grab her apron to drap a curtsy. She 'low—'Git dat hat off dat head and bow your head fo' he git hear."
"Howdy, Lucy, what is you and dat youngun been, anyhow?' 'Us been to git me a bonnet, Marse Tom, and it took all de ten dollars worth of cotton to fetch it back wid.' 'Yes, Lucy, money does not go far these days, since the Yankees got everything'. 'No Sir, No Sir, Marse,' and he rid on, leaving us behind in de dust."
Source: Interview with Gus Feaster (C-97), ex-slave, living at 20 Stutz Ave., Union, S.C.; interviewer - Caldwell Sims, Union, South Carolina.
Project #-1655 Phoebe Faucette Hampton County
Approx. 388 words
ANN FERGUSON EX-SLAVE 74 YEARS
"Aunt Annie" sat in the sun of a fall afternoon on the steps of her house across from the Baptist Church at Estill, S.C. Her short, stout form and her kind, deeply wrinkled face beneath her white cap, were, as always, a pleasingly familiar sight.
"I'se sure you'se come, Missus. I'se been jes' asittin' here awaitin' for somebody to come. I'm gittin' on in years now. Been right here for fourteen years. I was sick last night. Suffers wid high blood, yes'm.
"Could I tell you 'bout de times before de war? Well ma'am, I was jes' a baby den; so I cain't to say know 'bout it for meself, but I knows what me mother told me 'bout it.
"My mother was at Old Allendale when de Yankees come through. She was in de kitchen at de time. I was quite small. 'Round two years old—now how old dat make me, Miss? 74? Well, I knows I is gittin' 'long. I remember dem talkin' 'bout it all. Dey searched de house, and take out what dey want, den set de house afire. Ma, she run out den an' whoop an' holler. De lady of de house wuz dere, but de Massa had went off. De place wuz dat of Dr. Bucknor. My mother been belong to de Bucknors. After dat, dey moved to de old home place of de Bucknors down here at Robertville. Dey had two places. Dey jes' had to start farming all over again. We lived dere a good bit after freedom, ma say. My mother stay wid 'em for about three years after freedom.
"Fore freedom my mother used to go to de white folks church—white and black used to worship together den. She jined at de old Cypress Creek Baptist Church at Robertville. A white preacher baptized her dere. De old church is dere at Robertville now. After freedom de colored folks had dey own churches.
"Dey tell me dat in slav'ry time, some of de overseers treat 'em mighty mean. Some of 'em work 'em in de day, 'en in de night, weaving. Now some of 'em treat 'em good; but some of 'em treat 'em mean. Dey have to run away into de bay.
"Do I know of anybody what sees ghosts? Yes'm, dere's a lady over dere what say she always see a ghost come and whip a woman dat asittin' on de steps. Sometime she say she goin' to report it to de police, but I ain't never seen none, 'ceptin' in my dreams.
"I sure is glad you come, Missus. I been jes' awaitin' for somebody."
Source: Ann Ferguson, ex-slave 74 years, Estill, S.C.
Project, 1885-(1) Prepared by Annie Ruth Davis Place, Marion, S.C. Date, September 21, 1937
"I was born bout two miles bove Lake View on Zonia Rogers place. Boys used to tell me I was born on Buck Branch. Think I was born de 12th. day of February cause I was bout 16 years old when freedom come. Another person born de same day en de same year en I might look on dey tombstone en get de date."
"Miles Ford was my father en my mother, Jennie Ford, but dey didn' live on de same place. Father belonged to Alias Ford at Lake View en mother come from Timmonsville what used to be called Sparrow Swamp. Railroad run through dere change name from Sparrow Swamp to Timmonsville."
"Just like I tell you, Zonia Rogers was my boss en he wasn' so bad. He whip me a few times when I did things dat I oughtened to do. Sometimes I was pesty en he whip me wid a switch, but he never whip so hard. I tell de truth, Zonia Rogers was a good man. Give his slaves good pole houses to live in up in de quarter. Never had but five slaves to start wid en dat de reason he just had two slave house in de quarter. Sometimes dey slept on de floor en den another time, some had homemade bedstead wid de framework made out of black gum."
"We had meat en corn bread to eat all de time en dey gave us fried meat en rye bread en flour bread to eat every now en den. Made rye bread in time of de war, but didn' get much flour bread to eat. Massa would weigh meat out on his hand. If anybody wanted meat, he hand it to dem on his hand en say, 'Here it is.' Den some of de slaves had gardens dat dey work at 12 o'clock en at night. Never was much to catch possums, but was great hand to catch rabbits. Boss had dog name Trip dat he wouldn' have taken $200.00 for. If I had him now, I wouldn' take $200.00 for him neither cause dat dog would stay at a tree all night. See him stay dere from early in de day till dark."
"Slaves wore one piece garment in de summer en used thick woolen garment in de winter. When I got large, had wrapper en little breeches to wear. Sometimes de clothes was all wool en sometimes dey was just half wool. Yes, sir, I know all bout how de cloth was made in dat day en time. Three treadle made dis here jeanes cloth dat was for de nigger clothes en white people wore four treadle cloth. Had Sunday clothes in slavery time, too, en made de shoes right dere home. Tanned de leather en made shoes called nigger brogans dat dey used in de turpentine woods. Dese here low quarters. I married in 1873. Just had common clothes when I was married."
"I remember my grandfather all right. He de one told me how to catch otters. Told me how to set traps. Heard my grandfather tell bout whippin slaves for stealin. Grandfather told me not to take things dat were not mine. If a pile of corn was left at night, I was told not to bother it. In breakin corn, sometimes people would make a pile of corn in de grass en leave it en den come back en get it in de night. Grandfather told me not to never bother nothin bout people's things."
"De first work dat I remember bout doin in slavery time, I hold mules for my boss. Drove wagon for Mr. Rogers. If people wanted any haulin done, he told me to help dem en collect for it. He never wouldn' ax any questions bout what I collected for de haulin. Just let me have dat money. I remember I bought cloth dat cost 12-1/2 cents a yard wid de first money I get. Den I bought a girl 10 cents worth of candy en sent it to her. Hear she stamped it in de ground wid her foot. Girl never even mentioned it to me en I ain' never bothered wid her again. Dis girl en me bout de same age."
"Don' remember much bout my first Missus only dat she had a bump on her neck. Second Missus was good to me en just like I tell you, Zonia Rogers was a good man. He hired white men to plow, but he never put nobody ahead of me no time. I take dogs en slip out in de woods en hunt rabbits. White man tell on me en my boss ain' never said nothin bout dis to me yet. Never had no overseer en no driver whe' I stay."
"Oh, dere was bout two or three hundred acres in de Rogers place. Slaves worked from daylight till dark in de winter time. Always be up fore day cause my boss generally called de slaves fore day. Hear him say, 'Rob, come, come. Aaron, come, come.' We didn' work hard though. Didn' work in hot sun in June, July en August cause in slavery time dey allow us to take out at 10 or 11 o'clock en go swimmin. Den we had to be back in de field bout three o'clock. Had plenty poor white neighbors bout dere en boss hire me to man like dat one time. Poor man give bout 1-1/2 hours for noon whe' I get two hours back home en I never go back de next day. Boss say, 'Why don' you go back to work?' I tell him dat fellow wouldn' give me long enough time for noon. My boss wouldn' force me to go back when I tell him dat."
"I see one or two slaves whipped in slavery time, but I didn' see anybody whipped bad. If a slave on one place was accused of takin a thing on another place, dey have a trial bout it. Justice might tell dem how many licks to give him en point man to do it. I hear dat some been whipped way off till dey died, but old man Everett Nichols wouldn' never whip his slaves. He had son dat whipped some rough darkies dat he got off another place cause old man Nichols wouldn' want strange darkies to marry girls on his place. I hear way up de country dat dey whipped dem till dey died right dere."
"Dey had jails in slavery time at Marion for de slaves. If dey caught slaves dat had run away, dey would put dem in jail till dey Massa sent after dem. Sometimes dey would hold dem en sell dem for debt. Dey tell me some put on stand en sold dere at Marion, but I never saw any sold. Just hear bout dat, but I remembers I saw dis. Saw six men tied together wid a chain one Saturday evenin dat was comin from Virginia en gwine to Texas."
"Some people helped de slaves to read en write en some of dem didn'. Boy learnt one of my uncles to read, but didn' want him to write. People learn to spell in dem times better den dey do now. Some of de slaves could read de Bible en den others of dem could write dese pass dat dey had to get from dey Massa fore dey could go from one plantation to another. I recollects my mother's father could write a pass."
"Dere wasn' no church on de plantation whe' I stay. Had preachin in Mr. Ford's yard sometimes en den another time de slaves went to white people's church at Bear Swamp. Boss tell slaves to go to meetin cause he say he pay de preacher. Dean Ears, white man, gave out speech to de slaves one day dere to Nichols. Slaves sat in gallery when dey go dere. He tell dem to obey dey Massa en Missus. Den he say, 'God got a clean kitchen to put you in. You think you gwine be free, but you ain' gwine be free long as dere an ash in Ashpole Swamp.' White folks complain bout de slaves gettin two sermons en dey get one. After dat, dey tell old slaves not to come to church till after de white folks had left. Dat never happen till after de war was over."
"I sho remember when freedom come here. Remember when my boss told me I was free. My father come dere en say he wanted his boys. Boss called, 'Aaron, come here, your daddy wants you. I want you to go.' He told me not to go till de news came though. Please me, I felt like a new man."
"I hate to speak what I think bout slavery. Think it a pity de slaves freed cause I know I'm worried more now den in slavery time. Dere got to be a change made. People got to turn. I belong to de Methodist Church en I think everybody ought to belong to de church. God built de church for de people en dey ought to go dere en be up en doin in de church. Dat dey duty."
Source: Aaron Ford, Ex-Slave, Age 80-90, (No other information given by interviewer.)
Personal interview by H. Grady Davis, June, 1937.
Project 1885 -1- District #4 Spartanburg, S.C. May 28, 1937
Six miles east of Spartanburg on R.F.D. No. 2, the writer found Aunt Charlotte Foster, a colored woman who said she was 98 years old. Her mother was Mary Johnson and her father's name was John Johnson. She is living with her oldest daughter, whose husband is John Montgomery.
She stated she knew all about slavery times, that she and her mother belonged to William Beavers who had a plantation right on the main road from Spartanburg to Union, that the farm was near Big Brown Creek, but she didn't know what larger stream the creek flowed into. Her father lived on another place somewhere near Limestone. She and her mother were hands on the farm and did all kinds of hard work. She used to plow, hoe, dig and do anything the men did on the plantation. "I worked in the hot sun." Every now and then she would get a sick headache and tell her master she had it; then he would tell her to go sit down awhile and rest until it got better.
She had a good master; he was a Christian if there ever was one. He had a wife that was fussy and mean. "I didn't call her Mistus, I called her Minnie." But, she quickly added, "Master was good to her, just as kind and gentle like." When asked what was the matter with the wife, she just shook her head and did not reply. Asked if she had rather live now or during slavery times, she replied that if her master was living she would be willing to go back and live with him. "Every Sunday he would call us chilluns by name, would sit down and read the Bible to us; then he would pray. If that man ain't in the Kingdom, then nobody's there."
She said her master never whipped any of the slaves, but she had heard cries and groans coming from other plantations at five o'clock in the morning where the slaves were being beaten and whipped. Asked why the slaves were being beaten, she replied rather vehemently, "Just because they wanted to beat 'em; they could do it, and they did." She said she had seen the blood running down the backs of some slaves after they had been beaten.
One day a girl about 16 years of age came to her house and said she'd just as leave be dead as to take the beatings her master gave her, so one day she did go into the woods and eat some poison oak. "She died, too."
On one plantation she saw an old woman who used to get so many beatings that they put a frame work around her body and ran it up into a kind of steeple and placed a bell in the steeple. "Dat woman had to go around with that bell ringing all the time."
"I got plenty to eat in dem days, got just what the white folks ate. One day Master killed a deer, brung it in the house, and gave me some of the meat. There was plenty of deer den, plenty of wild turkeys, and wild hogs. Master told me whenever I seed a deer to holler and he would kill it."
When slaves were freed her mother moved right away to her father's place, but she said the two sons of her master would not give her mother anything to eat then. "Master was willing, but dem boys would not give us anything to live on, not even a little meal."
"After the Civil War was over and the Yankee soldiers came to our place, dey just took what they wanted to eat, went into de stable and leave their poor, broken-down horses and would ride off with a good horse. They didn't hurt anybody, but just stole all they wanted."
One day she said her master pointed out Abe Lincoln to her. A long line of cavalry rode down the road and presently there came Abe Lincoln riding a horse, right behind them. She didn't have much to say about Jeff Davis, except she heard the grown people talking about him. "Booker Washington? Well, he was all right trying to help the colored people and educate them. But he strutted around and didn't do much. People ought to learn to read the Bible, but if you educate people too high it make a fool out of them. They won't work when they gets an education, just learns how to get out of work, learns how to steal enough to keep alive. They are not taught how to work, how do you expect them to work when they ain't taught to work? Well, I guess I would steal too before I starved to death, but I ain't had to steal yet. No man can say he ever gave me a dollar but what I didn't earn myself. I was taught to work and I taught my chilluns to work, but this present crowd of niggers! They won't do."
She stated her mother had twelve children and the log house they lived in was weatherboarded; it was much warmer in such a house during cold weather than the houses are now. "Every crack was chinked up with mud and we had lots of wood." Her mother made all their beds, and had four double beds sitting in the room. She made the ticking first and placed the straw in the mattresses. "They beat the beds you can get now. These men make half beds, den sell 'em to you, but dey ain't no good. Dey don't know how to make 'em."
Aunt Charlotte said she remembered when the stars fell. "That was something awful to see. Dey just fell in every direction. Master said to wake the chilluns up and let 'em see it. Everybody thought the world was coming to an end. We went out on de front porch to look at the sight; we'd get scared and go back into de house, den come out again to see the sight. It was something awful, but I sure saw it." (Records show that the great falling of stars happened in the year 1833, so Aunt Charlotte must be older than she claims, if she saw this eventful sight. Yet she was positive she had seen the stars falling all over the heavens. She made a sweep of her arm from high to low to illustrate how they fell.)
Source: Aunt Charlotte Foster, RFD #2, Spartanburg, S.C. Interviewer: F.S. DuPre, Spartanburg, S.C.
Project #1655 Stiles M. Scruggs Columbia, S.C.
JOHN FRANKLIN EX-SLAVE 84 YEARS OLD.
"I is the son of John Franklin and Susan Bobo Franklin. I was born August 10th, 1853 in Spartanburg County. My daddy was a slave on the plantation of Marster Henry Franklin, sometimes called Hill and my mammy was a slave on the plantation of Marster Benjamin Bobo. They was brother-in-law's and lived on a plantation joining each other.
"My white marsters and their mistresses was good to us and to all their slaves. We have plenty to eat and wear, on the Bobo plantation, from the time I can remember up to the time I was 'bout eleven years old. In 1861, my marsters go away with their neighbors, to fight the damn Yankees and the plantation was left in charge of the mistresses and worked by the slaves. The slaves all raised 'bundance of rations, but pretty soon there was a scarcity 'cause they was no coffee at the store and stragglin' Yankees or what they call 'Rebel soldiers' come 'long every few days and take all they can carry.
"That shortage begun in 1862, and it kept on gettin' worse all the time, and when Lincoln set all niggers free, there was such a shortage of food and clothes at our white folks houses, that we decided to move to a Dutch Fork plantation. My daddy go 'long with other niggers to fight for 'Uncle Abe' and we never see him no more. Soon after that me and mammy told our mistress goodbye, and move down to her daddy's place, 'bout ten miles from Chapin. I was ten years old that year and we raise corn, beans, 'taters and chickens for ourselves and to sell, when we could go to Columbia and sell it and buy coffee and other things that we could not raise at home. So we do pretty well for a year or two and we keep up our tradin' trips to Columbia, which 'counts for me and Ben Lyles, my cousin 'bout my age, comin' to Columbia on February 16, 1868. We sold out and stayed all night at the home of Ben's uncle. He had us do some tasks 'bout his home on Lincoln Street the next day and it was way in the day befo' we start home. We walk north on what was known then as the Winnsboro road 'til we come to Broad River road, and we take it. There was one or two farm houses north of Elmwood Street on the Winnsboro road at that time and only one house on Broad River road, the farm house of Mr. Coogler, which is still standin'. There was a big woodsland at the forks of the Winnsboro road and Broad River road.
"After we walk 'long the Broad River road, what seem to us for a quarter of a mile, we see four or five old men standin' on the left side of the road wavin' a white flag. We walks out in the woods on the right side opposite and watches. Soon we see what seem lak a thousand men on hosses comin' briskly 'long. The men keep wavin' the white flag. After many had passed, one big bearded man rein up his hoss and speak with the men wavin' the white flag. They tell the soldier there am no 'Rebel soldier' in Columbia and the blue-clad army am welcome; beggin' them to treat the old folks, women and children, well. The Yankee soldier set straight and solemn on his hoss, and when the old men finish and hand him a paper, he salute and tell them, 'Your message will be laid befo' General Sherman'.
"All this time the ground am shakin' from the roar of big guns 'cross the river. Ben and me run thru the woods to our footlog and see thousands still comin' into Columbia, all 'long. We get 'fraid and stayed in the woods 'til we get out of sight of the soldiers. But we ain't got far over the top of the hill 'til we come face to face with more men on hosses. One of the men, who seem to be the leader, stop his hoss and ask us boys some questions. We answer as best we can, when he grin at us and pull out some money and give us a nickel a piece.
"We travel on toward Chapin and meet our mammies and many other people, some them white. They all seem scared and my mammy and Ben's mammy and us, turns up the river and camps on the hill, for the night, in the woods. We never sleep much, for it was 'most as light as day, and the smell of smoke was terrible. We could see people runnin' in certain parts of Columbia, sometimes. Next mornin' we look over the city from the bluff and only a few houses was standin' and hundreds of tumble-down chimneys and the whole town was still smokin'.
"I dreams yet 'bout that awful time, but I thank God that he has permitted me to live 'long enough to see the city rebuilt and it stretching far over the area where we hid in the trees."
Project #-1655 Cassels R. Tiedeman Charleston, S.C.
Emma Fraser, a pathetic old character, probably on account of many hardships, and the lack of family to care for her properly, shows the wear and tear of years. She was born, in slavery, on a plantation near Beaufort, of a mother whom she scarcely remembers, and cannot recall the name of the plantation, nor the name of her mother's owner. She talks very little but is most emphatic about the time of her birth. "I born in rebel time, on de plantation down by Beaufort. My ma say I a leetle gal when dey shoot de big gun on Fort Sumter. All dem people done dead an' gone now. I aint know dey name any mo'. Wid de troublulation and bombation I hab to tend wid an' de brain all wore down, you aint blame me for not know.
"I wants to go to Hebben now an' when de roll is call up dere an' I be dere, de Lord, he find a hiding place for me. I goes to chu'ch when I kin an' sing too, but ef I sing an' it doan mobe (move) me any, den dat a sin on de Holy Ghost; I be tell a lie on de Lord. No I aint sing when it doan mobe me. You mus'n ax me to do dat.
"One day I see a big automobile on de street wid a old gemmun (gentleman) ob slavery time settin' in em. I goes up to em an' ax how old he t'ink I is, an' he say dat I come way, way back dere in de slavery day, an' he know what he say."
Source: Interview with the writer
Emma Fraser, 98 Coming St, Charleston, S.C. Approx. 80 years old.
S-260-264-N Hattie Mobley Project 935 Richland County
EX-SLAVE 93 YEARS OF AGE
"I was bo'n in Adams Run, South Carolina, January 21st. 1844. My father name was Robert King, an' my mother was Minder King. My father was bo'n in Adams Run but my mother came from Spring Grove, South Carolina. I had eight brothers an' sisters, Maria, Lovie, Josephine, Eliza, Victoria, Charlie an' Robert King. The other two died w'en dey was babies. Only three of us is alive now. Maria, who lives in Adams Run is 95 years old. I was brought heh at the age of twelve to be maid for Mr. Mitchell, from who' I didn't git any money but a place to stay an' a plenty of food an' clothes. My bed was the ole time four post' with pavilion hangin' over the top.
"I's use to wear thin clothes in hot weather an' warm comfortable ones in the winter. On Sunday I wear a ole time bonnet, a'm hole apron, shoes an' stockin'. My Master was kind to his slaves an' his overseer was all Negroes. He had a large fa'm at Parkers' Ferry. He worked his slaves 'til twelve in the day an' the res' of the day they could do their own work.
"I never gone to school in my life an' massa nor missus ever help me to read.
"On the plantation was a meetin' house in which wen' used to have meetin's every Chuseday night, Wednesday night, an' Thursday night. I use to attend the white church. Doctor Jerico was de pastor. Collud people had no preacher but dey had leader. Every slave go to church on Sunday 'cause dey didn't have any work to do for Massa. My grandma use to teach the catekism an' how to sing.
"Co'n shuckin' was always done in de night. Dere was also a dance. Es de distance was five miles we would walk dere, work an' dance all night an' come back early nex' mornin'.
"Fun'rals was at night an' w'en ready to go to the graveyard every body would light a lightud knot as torch while every body sing. This is one of the songs wen' use to sing,
'Goin' to carry dis body To the grave-yard, Grave-yard don' you know me? To lay dis body down.'
"These are some the games wen' use to play,
Have a han'ful of co'n den say, "Trow kissey Wilson let him go."
while the res' is to guess how many co'n is lef in his han's.
We ain't had no doctor, our Missus an' one of de slave' would 'tend to the sick.
The Yankees take t'ree nights to march through I was afraid of dem an' clim' into a tree. One call me down an' say, "I am your frien'". He give me a piece of money an' I wasn't 'fraid no mo.
After de war I still work' as a maid for Mr. Mitchell.
My husband was Dan'l Frost. We didn't have no weddin', jus' married at de jedge office. We had three chillun.
I joined the church 'cause I wanted to be a christian an' I think every body should be. I move here wid my gran' daughter, bout ten year ago.
Reference: Interview with (Mrs) Adele Frost who is supported by her Master's people.
Project #-1655 Martha S. Pinckney Charleston, S.C.
"My name is Amos Gadsden, not Gadson, like some call it—the same old name Gadsden"—he added, with a friendly smile.
"I was born at St. Philip's Street; that is where old Miss lived then. (We belonged to old Mr. Titus Bissell) I don't rightly know what year, but I was nineteen years old before the War, when the family Bible was lost; old Mistress had my birth written in the Bible. I keep my age by Mas. Henry, he died three years ago; he was 83, and I was five years older than he was, so I am 88. Oh, yes, I can remember slavery! My grandmother was a 'daily gift' to old Mistress when they were both children. Grandmother was nurse to the children; she lived over a hundred years and nursed all the children and grandchildren. She died at the Bissell's home on Rutledge Avenue years and years after slavery. Mother Ellen was laundress; she died first part of the War. My father tended the yard and was coachman.
"I never got a slap from my mistress; I was treated like a white person; if my mistress talked to me to correct me, I want to cry. Sometime I slept at the foot of my mistress bed." Whatever the occasion, Amos was very proud of it, and mentioned it a second time in his story, and added—"it ain't every little boy that could say that.
"We spent the summers in Charleston—winters on the plantation; Cypress Plantation which belonged to Mr. Bissell's father, Mr. Baker, was near Green Pond. The smoke house was there full of meat; the fields and the gardens were there and everybody had plenty to eat—but still there was bad people just like they are now. You can make yourself respectable, but some never do it. The bad ones had to be punished; they got a few lashes on 'um. Now they go to Court, and they go to jail—If there was a place to whip bad coons, they would be scared to behave like they do now—the jails wouldn't be so full. There was no bad treatment of our people. Some neighbors that never owned any slaves, hired negro help and ill-treated them—old mistress felt so bad about this.
"I grew up with the white children in the family, but I was trained to step aside at all times for white people. My grandmother's name was Affy Calvert; she was a 'daily gift' to old Mistress; she was given to her when they were both children and trained up in her service. Old Mistress died long before her because she lived over a hundred years, and nursed all the children and grandchildren. She brought me up more than my mother; she and I never gave up the family."
Amos makes a strange statement: "Old Mausa, Mr. T.L. Bissell, (voice lowered) was a Yankee, but he lived long before the War," with an indulgent smile, and in a lower voice, with his hand up to his mouth he continued as though communicating a dangerous confidence, "Oh, yes, Ma'am—but he was a Yankee!" What Amos meant will remain a family secret.
"I was trained by old Tony for yard boy before the War. I looked out that no harm came to the older children, but one day they got away from me," Amos chuckled, "they went to play on the logs in the lumber yard, around what is now Halsey's Mill. The water was full of timber, open to the river, (Ashley) and the tide was running out. One of the boys got on a log, and two others on another log, and the little scamps paddled the logs out, but when they found themselves in the tide they were scared, and screamed at the top of their voices. I wasn't far off and heard them. I was scared too. I jumped into the water and swam to get a bateau; when they saw me they hushed. The tide had carried them some distance before I caught up with them—was down near Chisolm's Rice Mill. Mr. Chisolm saw it; he gave me a five dollar bill, Confederate money, for saving the children."
Amos throws a new light on old history;—"Before the War come here it was down in Beaufort, on the Port Royal Road; Confederates on one side, Yankees on the other, and things happen here that belong to War. One evening, early dusk, because it was winter, I was with two white boys on the corner of Hasell street and East Bay. We stopped to watch a balloon slowly floating in the sky. I never saw anything like it before—it looked so pretty—and while we were looking a streak of fire came straight down from the balloon to Russell's Planing Mill at the foot of Hasell street, right by us. In a short time the mill was on fire; nothing could put it out. One place after another caught, and big flakes of fire were bursting up and flying through the air, and falling on other buildings. (illustrating with his arms, hands, and whole body) The first church that burned was the Circular Church on Meeting Street; then Broad street and the Roman Catholic Church, and St. Andrews Hall. Yes, Ma'am, 'course I remember St. Andrews Hall, right next to the Roman Catholic Cathedral on Broad Street! That was 1861, before I went to Virginia with Dr. H. E. Bissel. That balloon went on down to Beaufort, I s'pose. Yes Ma'am, I saw it drop that fire on Russell's Mill.
"I went to Virginia with Dr. H.E. Bissell in the Army; he was a surgeon. A camp of Negroes went ahead to prepare the roads; pioneers, they called them. I remember Capt. Colcock, (he mentioned several other officers,) Honey Hill—terrible fighting—fight and fight! had to 'platoon' it. I was behind the fighting with Dr. Bissell. I held arms and legs while he cut them off, till after a while I didn't mind it. Hard times came to the Army; only corn to eat. When the bombardment came to Charleston the family moved to Greenville; I was in Virginia with the Doctor. The railroad bridge across the Ashley River was burned to prevent the Yankees from coming into Charleston; the ferry boat 'Fannie' crossed the river to make connections with the Savannah Railroad. The 54th Massachusetts Regiment was coming down to Charleston; they destroyed railroads as they came. Sherman set fire everywhere he went—didn't do much fighting, just wanted to destroy as he went.
"After Freedom, we went back to the Plantation; lived catch as catch can. The smoke house had been emptied by the Yankees, and no money. Lieutenant Duffy, at the Citadel, fell in love with me and offered me a place to work with him for money. I took it and worked for him til he left—but I didn't give up the family. I work for Mas. Titus now; haven't stopped calling Mr. Orvel Bissell 'Mas' today; I raised him but I still call him Mas. Orvel. My young Missus was the one who taught me; she kept a school for us; we took it for a play school; when I was a little boy I knew the alphabet.
"We buried our valuables in sacks in holes, then put plants over the hiding places. The silver was buried by Cypress Pond; and we saved all buried valuables.
"To show how Mas. Titus (Bissell) will look out for me—a man I rented from wanted to put some 'coon' in my room. I had paid him the rent, but one day I came and find my things being put out. I went right to Mas. Titus and told him. He was mad, and, excusing the words, he said, 'do you mean that damned so-and-so is putting your things out, well, we'll go there'—so we went, and the man was so scared he wanted to put the things back but Mas. Titus said: 'He sha'nt bother with any such damned person as you are. I'll find a proper place for him,' and he found me a good room on Short Street where I stayed for 8 years until the house was sold—that make I move on Elliott street where I am now.
"My wife is long dead, and I have no children—this is my niece; my brother's daughter. He went from this State three years ago and we have never heard a word from him since. I take care of her. Does she do right by me? She got to! I make her!"
Source: Amos Gadsden, 88, 20 Elliott Street, Charleston, S.C.
[Footnote 1: King, William L. in "The Newspaper Press of Charleston, S.C." Lucas and Richardson (Book Press) 1882—200p—pp-120-121. Charleston Library Society.
Confirms the statement that the fire of 1861 started in the Russell's Planing Mill, though no mention is made of its origin.]
Project 1886 -1- District #4 Spartanburg, S.C. From Field Notes Folk-Lore May 26, 1937
Journeying on Cudd Street this morning and stopping at the "Old Ladies' Home" (an institution for negroes), the writer found two ex-slaves sitting on the porch passing the time of day with those who passed the house. They both spoke very respectfully and asked me to come in.
One was seated and she asked me to have a seat by her. Her name was Janie Gallman and she said she was 84 years of age. Upon my telling her my name she stated she knew my father and grandfather and had worked for them in days gone by. "If your father or Mr. Floyd was living I wouldn't want for a thing".
She was born in slavery on the plantation of Bill Keenan in Union County. The place was situated between Pacolet River and Fairforest Creek and near where Governor Gist had a plantation. Her mother and father were both owned by Bill Keenan and he was a good master. She never saw any of the slaves get a whipping and never saw any slave in chains. When she, her father, and mother were set free, she said, "My master gave my father a barrel of meal, a cow and a calf and a wagon of corn when he sot him free. He gave every one of his slaves the same. He had a big plantation, but I don't know how many acres of land there was, but it was a big place."
She was married three times and her mother had 12 children, but she has never had any.
Her young life was spent in playing with the children of the white overseer. They used to jump rope most of the time. Whenever the overseer left home to spend the night anywhere, his wife would send for her to spend the night with the family. The overseer was "poor white trash". She had plenty to eat in slavery days. Her father and mother had their own garden, and she did her share of eating the vegetables out of the garden. She remembered seeing plenty of wild turkeys as a child, but as for hogs and cattle, she did not remember them running wild. She had heard of conjuring, but she did not know how it was done—never saw anybody who had been conjured—yet she had seen ghosts two or three times. One night she saw a light waving up against a piece of furniture, then come towards her, then flicker about the room, but she wasn't able to see anybody holding the light. She had heard of headless men walking around, yet had never seen any.
A neighbor told her a woman ghost came to her house one night, just sat on the front steps and said nothing, repeated her visits several nights in succession, but said no word as she sat on the front step. One night the neighbor's husband asked the ghost what did she want, why she sat on the steps and said nothing. The ghost then spoke and told him to follow her. He followed her and she led him to the basement of the house and told him to dig in the corner. He did and pretty soon he unearthed a jar of money. The woman ghost told him to take just a certain amount and to give the rest to a certain person. The ghost told the man if he didn't give the money to the person she named, she would come back and tear him apart. He very obediently took the small amount of the money and gave the balance where the ghost directed, and he never saw the woman sitting on his steps any more.
Another time she heard footsteps approaching a certain house in the yard, but she could never see anybody walking, though she could distinctly hear the gravel crunching as the ghost walked along. "God is the only one who can do any conjuring. I don't believe anybody else can."
Source: Aunt Janie Gallman, 391 Cudd St, Spartanburg, S.C. Interviewer: F.S. DuPre, Spartanburg, S.C.
Project 1885 -1- Spartanburg, S.C. May 31, 1937 District #4
Edited by: Martha Ritter
"I was born in Edgefield County, S.C. (now called Saluda County) in 1857. My father and mother was Bill and Mary Kinard who was slaves of John Kinard. The year I was born, I allus heard say, there was a big fire near Columbia, S. C. It started in the woods near the river, spread over all parts there and the people, womens with new-born infants, had to leave in a hurry, going back from the fire and crossing the river, to Edgefield County. I 'member there was a big fire in Prosperity back in about 1875.
"I was a girl in slavery, worked in the fields from the time I could work at all, and was whipped if I didn't work. I worked hard. I was born on John Bedenbaugh's place; I was put up on the block and sold when a girl, but I cried and held tight to my mistress's dress, who felt sorry for me and took me back with her. She was Mrs. Sarah Bedenbaugh, as fine a woman as ever lived.
"Marse Bedenbaugh had a 5-horse farm, and about 20 slaves. We didn't have time to teach them to read and write; never went to church—never went to any school. After the war some started a nigger school and a brush-arbor church for niggers.
"When the Yankees went through their soldiers stole everthing, all horses and supplies. The soldiers stopped at places, and like the soldiers who come home foot-sore, they was lousy and dirty. Our soldiers come with canteen shoes [TN: 'and' was crossed out in the original] and old blankets swung on their backs and shoulders. The people would send wagons out to meet them and bring them in, some of them could hardly walk. The Yankee soldiers would take our rations at our gates and eat them up. They would blow bugles at we children and beat drums. Our old Missus would take victuals to them.
"The paterollers down there where we lived was Geo. Harris, Lamb Crew, Jim Jones, and Theo. Merchant. They bothered us lots. On the first day of the month, some was put up on the whipping block and whipped with an oak paddle with holes in it to make blisters; then de blisters were cut open with cowhide whips.
"When freedom come, all slaves went to some place to get work. My father give me six cuts a day to work in the house to spin the yarn. My mistress used to have me pick up de sheckles for her when she was making a homespun dress. In the winter time we had homespuns, too, but sometimes had flannel underwear. I helped at the corn mill, too, always went there and tote a half bushel corn many days. The mill belonged to Capt. McNary. I worked hard, plowed, cut wheat, split cord wood, and other work just like a man.
"When any niggers died they had funerals like they do now, 'cept the pallbearers den would sing. They carried the bodies in wagons, and the preacher would say words while they was going to the grave.
"When the soldiers was here, I 'member how they would sing:
"I'm all de way from Georgia, I'm all the way to fight, I left my good old mother, To come here to fight."
"Joe Bowers, Joe Bowers, He had another wife, He's all de way from Missouri, To come here to fight."
"I didn't like slavery. I'd rather live like now.
"I thought Abraham Lincoln was a big man, a fine man. I thought Jeff Davis was all right. I don't know nothing about Booker Washington."
Source: Lucy Gallman (80), Newberry, S.C. Interviewer: G. Leland Summer, 1707 Lindsey St, Newberry, S.C.
Project 1885-1 FOLKLORE Spartanburg Dist. 4 May 24, 1937
Edited by: Elmer Turnage
STORIES FROM EX-SLAVES
"I was born about 1857, and belonged to Marse George Gallman who lived in the Dutch Fork, on de old road to Pomaria, S.C. There was not a better man to his slaves. When the Ku Klux went through, they never hurt anybody at our place. The Padder-rollers never did harm any of Marse George's slaves—he would not allow it.
"After the war when I married, I moved to Newberry, but first, I moved to the Jalapa section and lived there ten years.
"I allus 'member the old wheat mill dat old Captain Ellerson had in Dutch Fork, on Cannons Creek. All the neighbors would take their wheat there to grind."
Source: Simon Gallman (80), Newberry, S.C. Interviewer: G. L. Summer, Newberry, S.C. (5/18/37).
Project 1885-1 Folklore Spartanburg, Dist. 4 Oct. 25, 1937
Edited by: Elmer Turnage
"I live in de house wid my grandniece and her husband. It is a two-room house which dey rent; and dey take care of me. I am old, weak and in bed much of de time. I can't work any, now. My grandniece had to give up her job so she could stay home and take care of me. Dat makes it hard fer us.
"I don't remember much about de war nor de Ku Klux 'cept what I done tole you befo'. Dey never bothered us. My master would not let 'em bother us. He was George Gallman and he had a big farm and lots of slaves. Just atter freedom come he made a coffin shop in back of his house in a little one-room shack. He made coffins fer people about de country. It got to be han'ted, and sometimes niggers could see ghosts around dere at night, so dey say, I never saw none, myself.
"Master George and his mistress was good to de niggers. Dey always give dem plenty to eat. I had it good, and never bothered about nothing den. De slaves never learn't to read and write; but dey went to de whitefolks' church. Dey had to go, and set in de back or in de gallery.
"When freedom come, de slaves hired out mostly as share-croppers. A little later, some got small farms to rent. Since dat time dey have worked at most anything dey could get to do. De ones dat moved to town worked at odd jobs, some at carpenter work, janitor work or street work; but most of dem worked in fields around town.
"I married Hattie Eckles. When she died I went to Jalapa and lived ten years dere; den atter I got too old to work, I come to town and lived wid my kin.
"I was about twelve years old when dey made me go to de field to work. Befo' dat and after dat, too, I worked around de barn and took care of de stock.
"As fer eats, we had plenty. We had good collards, turnips and other good vegetables. De master has his own hogs, too, and we had plenty meat to eat.
"Christmas was a big day fer us. We never worked dat day. We had good dinner, and could do what we wanted to do. We never had to work in de fields on Saturday. We would do washing or go hunting or something else.
"All I know about slavery being all right, is dat I had a good time, better dan now. Abraham Lincoln was a good man. I don't know nothing agin' him. Never heard anything about Jefferson Davis. I think Booker Washington is a good man. He do good fer de niggers in giving dem education.
"I joined de church when I was young because others was joining. I think everybody ought to belong to de church."
Source: Simon Gallman (80), Newberry, S.C. Interviewer: G.L. Summer, Newberry, S.C. (9/3/37)
Project 1885 District #4 Spartanburg, S.C. June 1, 1937
Edited by: Martha Ritter
"I was born in 1861, at Gary's Lane, in Newberry County, S.C. My father and mother and me were slaves of Dr. John Gary who lived in a big fine house there. They had lots of slaves, and a large plantation. After freedom come he told them they could go where they wanted to, but they stayed on with Doc Gary. He was a good master; he never allowed any paderollers around his place; he always give the slave a pass when he went off. When de Ku Klux went up and down the road on horses, all covered with white sheets, old Doc wouldn't allow them on his place.
"We was allowed to hunt, and we hunted rabbits, 'possums, a few foxes in the neighborhood, partridges, squirrels, and doves.
"We went to school after freedom come; we had a school for niggers and had a church for niggers, too.
"Doc Gary had a big piano in his house, and most everybody else had a fiddle or Jews harp. He had a wide fireplace in his kitchen where he cooked over it, in skillets.
"I think Abe Lincoln was a fine man and Jeff Davis was all right. Booker Washington is a smart fellow."
Source: Laurence Gary (76), Newberry, S.C. (Helena) Interviewer: G. Leland Summer, 1707 Lindsey St, Newberry, S.C.
Code No. Project 1885-(1) Prepared by Annie Ruth Davis Place, Marion, S.C. Date, December 2, 1937
No. —— Reduced from —— words Rewritten by ——
LOUISA GAUSE Ex-Slave, Age 70-75
"I been born down yonder to old man Wash (Washington) Woodberry's plantation. Pa Cudjo, he been keep my age in de Bible en he tell me dat I come here de first year of freedom. Monday Woodberry was my grandfather en Celina Woodberry, my grandmother. I tell you, I is seen a day, since I come here. My mammy, she been drown right down dere in de Pee Dee river, fore I get big enough to make motion en talk what I know. Dat how-come it be dat Pa Cudjo raise me. You see, Pa Cudjo, he been work down to de swamp a heap of de time en been run boat en rafter up en down dat river all bout dere. Ma, she get word, one day, she better come cross de river to de Sand Hills to see bout grandmammy cause she been took down wid de fever en was bad off. Pa Cudjo tell her de river been mighty high, but dat he would risk to take us. Say, Ma, she get in de boat wid Pa Cudjo en take me in her lap en dey start cross de river. De wind, it begin gettin higher en higher en de boat, it go dis way en den it go de other way. Cose I never recollect nothin bout dat day cause I won' nothin, so to speak, but a sucklin child den. But I hear Pa Cudjo speak bout de water wash rougher en rougher en knock side dat boat just like it been comin out de ocean. Say, fore he think bout he in trouble, de wind just snatch he hat right out in de water en when he reach out after it, he hear Ma holler en de next thing he know, us all been throwed right out in de water. Yes, mam, de boat turned over en dumped us all out in dat big old crazy river. Pa Cudjo say, if he ain' never had no mind to pray fore den, he know, when he see dat boat gwine down dat stream, dere won' nothin' left to do, but to pray. Pa Cudjo tell dat he make for de bank fast as he could get dere cause he know de devil been in de river dat day en he never know whe' he might go. I reckon you hear talk bout, Pa Cudjo, he been a cussin man. Never had no mind what he was gwine let loose no time. But poor Ma, she been a buxom woman, so dey tell me, en when she hit de bottom of dat river, she never didn' come to de top no more. Like I tell you, I never been long come here den en I ain' been fast gwine under de water cause dere won' no heaviness nowhe' bout me. Pa Cudjo say, he pray en he cuss en when he look up, he see a boat makin up de river wid two men in it en me lyin dere 'tween dem. You see, dey had come along en pick me up bout a mile from dere floatin down de river. Now, I tellin you what come out of Pa Cudjo mouth. Pa Cudjo say, when he see me, he been so happy, he pray en he cuss. Say, he thank de Lord for savin me en he thank de devil for lettin me loose. Yes, mam, I tell you, I been raise up a motherless child right dere wid Pa Cudjo en I been take de storm many a day. I say, if you is determine to go through wid a thing, God knows, you can make it. Cose Pa Cudjo, he been mighty good to me, but he used to have dem cussin spells, my Lord. Been love to keep up fun all de time."
"Oh, de colored people never had no liberty, not one speck, in slavery time. Old man Wash Woodberry, he was rough wid his niggers, but dem what lived on Miss Susan Stevenson's plantation, dey been fare good all de time. I know what I talk bout cause I been marry Cato Gause en he tell me dey been live swell to Miss Susan's plantation. Dat whe' he been born en raise up. Hear Pa Cudjo talk bout dat Miss Harriet Woodberry whip my mother one day en she run away en went down in Woodberry en stayed a long time. Say, some of de Woodberry niggers stayed down dere till after freedom come here. Yes, mam, white folks would whip dey colored people right dere, if dey didn' do what dey tell dem to do. Oh, dey was awful in dat day en time. Colored people had to live under a whip massa en couldn' do nothin, but what he say do. Yes, mam, dey had dese head men, what dey call overseers, on all de plantations dat been set out to whip de niggers. I tell you, it was rough en tough in dem days. Dey would beat you bout to death. My grandfather en my grandmother, dey die wid scars on dem dat de white folks put dere."
"Oh, my Lord, dey would give de colored people dey allowance to last dem a week to a time, but dey never didn' give dem nothin widout dey work to get it en dat been dey portion. I remember, I hear Cato tell bout Mr. Bobbie say, "Mom Dicey, dey tell me dey catch Bacchus stealin Pa's watermelons out de field de other night." (Bacchus was Mom Dicey's son). Grandmother Dicey say, "Oh, he never take nothin but dem little rotten end ones." Den Mr. Bobbie say, "Well, dey tell me, dey catch Bacchus stealin de horse's corn out de feed trough de other night." En grandmother Dicey say, "Well, if he did, he never take nothin, but what been belong to him." Dat it, some white folks was better to dey colored people den others would be. Would give dem so much of meal en meat en molasses to last dem a week en dey would feed all de nigger chillun to de big house 'tween meals. Have cook woman to give dem all de milk en clabber dey wanted dere to de white people yard."
"De overseer, he would give you a task to do en you had to do it, too, if you never been want your neck broke. Yes, mam, de overseer would stock you down en whip you wid a buggy whip. Some of de time, when de colored people wouldn' do what dey been put to do, dey would hide in de woods en stay dere till de overseer come after dem. Oh, dey would find dem wid de nigger dog. When de overseer would find out dey had run away, he would send de nigger dog to hunt dem. My God, child, dem dogs would sho find you. Some of de time, dey would run you up a tree en another time, dey would catch you whe' dere won' no tree to go up en grab you en gnaw you up. Yes, mam, de overseer would hear you hollerin or else he would hear de dog barkin at you up de tree. Dem nigger dogs, I know you is see dem kind of dogs. Dey is high, funny lookin dogs. Don' look like no other kind of dog. When dey would find de one dey was huntin, dey would just stand right dere en look up in de tree en howl."
"De colored people never had no church dey own in slavery time cause dey went to de white people church. Yes, mam, I been dere to de Old Neck Church many a day. In dat day en time, when de preacher would stand up to preach, he would talk to de white folks en de colored people right dere together. But when de colored people would get converted in dem days, dey never been allowed to praise de Lord wid dey mouth. Had to pray in dey sleeve in dem days. De old man Pa Cudjo, he got right one day to de big house en he had to pray wid he head in de pot."
"No, mam, de colored people never didn' have no liberty no time in dem days. Cose dey had dey little crop of corn en 'tatoe en thing like dat bout dey house, what dey would work at night, but dat won' nothin to speak bout. Oh, dey would put fire in a fry pan en fetch it up on a stump to see to work by."
"No, child, white people never teach colored people nothin, but to be good to dey Massa en Mittie. What learnin dey would get in dem days, dey been get it at night. Taught demselves."
"Now, Pa Cudjo, if he been here, my Lord, I couldn' never say what he might could tell you. Like I say, he been a cussin man en he die wid a bright mind. Cose I never come here what dey call a slavery child, but I been hear slavery people speak dey mind plenty times."
Source: Louisa Gause, colored, age 70-75; Brittons Neck, S.C. Personal interview by Annie Ruth Davis.
Project #1665 W.W. Dixon Winnsboro, S.C.
EX-SLAVE 86 YEARS OLD.
"I was born at Palatka, Florida. I was a slave of Captain John Kinsler. Wish all white men was just like him, and all white women like Miss Maggie Dickerson, de lady that looks after me now.
"Captain John wouldn't sell his niggers and part de members of de family. He fetched us all, Daddy George, Mammy Martha, Gran'dad Jesse, Gran'mammy Nancy, and my two brothers, Flanders and Henry, from Florida to Richland County, South Carolina, along wid de rest.
"My mistress was named Mary. Marster John had a daughter named Adelaide, but they call her Ada. I was called up on one of her birthdays, and Marster Bob sorta looked out of de corner of his eyes, first at me and then at Miss Ada, then he make a little speech. He took my hand, put it in Miss Ada's hand, and Say: 'Dis your birthday present, darlin'.' I make a curtsy and Miss Ada's eyes twinkle like a star and she take me in her room and took on powerful over me.
"We lived in a two-room log house daubed wid mud and it had a wood and mud chimney to de gable end of one room. De floor was hewed logs laid side by side close together. Us had all we needed to eat.
"De soap was made in a hopper for de slaves. How dat you ask? A barrel was histed on a stand 'bove de ground a piece; wheat straw was then put into de barrel, hickory ashes was then emptied in, then water, and then it set 'bout ten days or more. Then old fats and old grease, meat skins, and rancid grease, was put in. After a while de lye was drained out, put in a pot, and boiled wid grease. Dis was lye-soap, good to wash wid.
"Slaves had own garden. Some of de old women, and women bearin' chillun not yet born, did cardin' wid hand-cards; then some would get at de spinnin' wheel and spin thread, three cuts make a hank. Other women weave cloth and every woman had to learn to make clothes for the family, and they had to knit coarse socks and stockin's. Mighty nigh all de chillun had a little teency bag of asafetida, on a string 'round they necks, to keep off diseases.
"Us slaves had 'stitions and grieve if a black cat run befo' us, or see de new moon thru de tree tops, and when we start somewhere and turn back, us sho' made a cross-mark and spit in it befo' we commence walkin' again.
"I 'member Wheeler's men come to our house first, befo' de Yankees. They took things just like de Yankees did dat come later. Marster John was a Captain, off fightin' for Confeds but dat didn't stop Wheeler's men from takin' things they wanted, no sir! They took what they wanted. Wasn't long after then dat the Yankees come and took all they could and burnt what they couldn't carry off wid them.
"After de war I marry Abe Smith and had two chillun by him, Clifton and Hattie. De boy died and Hattie marry a man named Lee. She now lives at White Oak.
"My husband die, I marry Sam Gibson, and had a nice trousseau dat time. Blue over-skirt over tunic, petticoats wid tattin' at de borders, red stockin's and gaiter shoes. I had a bustle and a wire hoop and wore a veil over my hair."
Project 1885-1 FOLKLORE Spartanburg Dist. 4 May 31, 1937
Edited by: Elmer Turnage
STORIES FROM EX-SLAVES
"I was Capt. Jack's body-guard in during de whole entire war. I means Capt. Jack Giles, his own self. And I is pushing close to a hundred. Dey used to make likker in de holler down on Dr. Bates' place deep in de forest. De soldiers would drink by de barrels. Mr. Will Bates, Dr. Bates' son, helped me out of skimage one time.
"Don't never go in no war, 'less you is gwine to give orders like my marse Jack. Dat is, onless you is gwine to act as body-guard. Time of de war, old man Sammy Harmon had a state still. He never sold no likker to no private. De bluecoats, dey blockade Charleston and Savannah. Miss Janie couldn't get no spices fer her cakes, neither could she get no linen and other fine cloth fer her 'dornment. Couldn't nothing get by dat blockade. So Mr. Sammy, he make de likker by de barrels. Dem dat had wagins come and fotch it off, as many barrels as de mules could draw, fer de soldiers. I drunk much as I wanted. De drum taps say, 'tram lam-lam, following on de air. De sperrits lift me into a dance, like dis, (he danced some) 'cept I was light on my foots den—atter I had done drunk, anyhow.
"De sharp-shooters got atter me one day. Mr. Dewey, one of de rangers, sent fer de cannon balls. Dese run de bluecoats.
"I went to Petersburg wid Capt. Douglas, dat Miss Janie's second husband. Our train went dat fast, dat it took my breaf away. But de cars goes much faster, gwine to Patter-a-rac now.
"All de picket-men had dogs. Lots of de soldiers had niggers wid dem. At night in de camp when de Yankees would come spying around, de dogs would bark. De niggers would holler. One Confederate officer had a speckledy dog that could smell dem Yankees far off. When de Yankees got dare, everything was ready. When us want information fer direction and time, all us had to do was to look up through de pines fer it.
"One song I remembers is, 'would like to catch-a feller looking like me'. Another was, 'I feel as happy as a big sun-flower.' (Charlie can sing them both, and dance accompaniment.)
"At Petersburg, April 1863, de Yankees act like dey was gwine to blow everything up. I crawl along de ground wid my Marster, and try to keep him kivered as best as I could. Us reached Chica-hominy River and go over to Petersburg. Den dey blow up Richmond. De river turn to blood while I was looking at it. De cannons deafened me and I has been hard of hearing ever since. Some de blue tails clumb de trees when us got atter dem.
"Next time I'se gwine to tell you about deserters and refugees. Ain't nobody got no business in automobiles 'cept lawyers, doctors, and fools."
Source: Charlie Giles, Rt. 3, Box 274, Union, S.C. Caldwell Sims, Union, S.C. 2/8/37.
Project #-1655 Phoebe Faucette Hampton County
WILLIS GILLISON Luray, S.C.
There is no doubt that "Uncle Gillison" is old. He is knock-kneed and walks slowly. His long thin hands clutch his chair strongly for support as he continually shifts his position. When he brings his hands to the back of his head, as he frequently does, in conversation, they tremble as with palsy. He enjoys talking of the old times as do many of his contemporaries.
"Yes, Maam," he starts off. "I been heah when de war was on. I seen when de drove of people come up. Dey was dress in blue clothes. Call dem Yankees. Had de Scouts, too. But dey was de Southerners. I knowed all dem! I wasn't nuthin' but a little boy but I kin remember it.
"Mr. Jesse Smith wife been my young Missus. Dey lived at Furman. My mother mind Mr. Trowell's father. His name was Mr. Ben Trowell. I call him, Bub Ben. Bub was for brother. Dat de way we call folks den—didn't call 'em by dere names straight out. Mr. Trowell's mother we call, Muss, for Miss. Sort of a nickname. We call Mr. Harry Fitts grandmother, Muss, too.
"My daddy was name Aleck Trowell. After freedom he was call by his own name, Aleck Gillison. After freedom some was call by dere own name—some were, and some weren't. My father was sold from a Gillison, first off.
"How old I is? Well, Missus, I been put on de road to 75 years, but I'm more than dat. I'm between seventy and eighty years old.
"I knows Mr. Tom Lawton. Dey was rich people. My old Massa and him been boys together. Dey was a place call de Trowell Mill Pond right at de Lawton place. Mr. Lawton was sure rich, 'cause we all had a plenty—plenty to eat, and sech likes—Mr. Lawton was rich! When Mr. Trowell got up a little higher than what he was, he trade his Lena place for a place at Stafford. De Stafford place was some better.
"Yes Maam, de records was burn. Dey had a courthouse at Gillisonville in dem times. Dat fact 'bout it Miss. Now I don't want you to say a nigger 'spute your word, or nuthin' like that, (this, in response to the visitor having remarked that the records were burned at Beaufort) but I don't think that Beaufort was built up till after the war. Gillisonville was right muchly built up. I don't think de records was burn at Beaufort. I think it was at de courthouse at Gillisonville dey was burn up. Now de district was call Beaufort District, but de courthouse was at Gillisonville. Gillisonville was where dey had de trial of de Mr. Martin dat kill Mr. Peeples. De Morrisons lived at Gillisonville. Plenty of 'em!
"I kin tell you where two of de old Robert homes used to be. One was back dis way toward Scotia from Robertville. Dat was de Mr. John H. Robert' place. Had a whole string of cedar trees going up to his place. Now den, 'bout two miles out from Robertville going from de white folk' church out toward Black Swamp was another Robert place. Dat where old Major Robert lived. He had a whole tun (turn) of slaves. Dere was no Robert live right in de village of Robertville. De Lawtons was de only people live right in Robertville—and one family of Jaudons. I don't know of no other Robert home.
"Dat's all I kin tell you 'bout de old times, Missus. I don't want to tell you what ain't true."
Source: Willis Gillison, 75 years old, (Ex-slave) Luray, S.C.—R.F.D.
Project 1885-1 FOLKLORE Spartanburg Dist. 4 June 10, 1937
Edited by: Elmer Turnage
STORIES FROM EX-SLAVES
"We lived in a log house during the Ku Klux days. Dey would watch you just like a chicken rooster watching fer a worm. At night, we was skeered to have a light. Dey would come around wid de 'dough faces' on and peer in de winders and open de do'. Iffen you didn't look out, dey would skeer you half to death. John Good, a darkey blacksmith, used to shoe de horses fer de Ku Klux. He would mark de horse shoes with a bent nail or something like that; then atter a raid, he could go out in the road and see if a certain horse had been rode; so he began to tell on de Ku Klux. As soon as de Ku Klux found out dey was being give away, dey suspicioned John. Dey went to him and made him tell how he knew who dey was. Dey kept him in hiding, and when he told his tricks, dey killed him.
"When I was a boy on de 'Gilmore place', de Ku Klux would come along at night a riding de niggers like dey was goats. Yes sir, dey had 'em down on all-fours a crawling, and dey would be on dere backs. Dey would carry de niggers to Turk Creek bridge and make dem set up on de bannisters of de bridge; den dey would shoot 'em offen de bannisters into de water. I 'clare dem was de awfulest days I ever is seed. A darky name Sam Scaife drifted a hundred yards in de water down stream. His folks took and got him outen dat bloody water and buried him on de bank of de creek. De Ku Klux would not let dem take him to no graveyard. Fact is, dey would not let many of de niggers take de dead bodies of de folks no whars. Dey just throwed dem in a big hole right dar and pulled some dirt over dem. Fer weeks atter dat, you could not go near dat place, kaise it stink so fer and bad. Sam's folks, dey throwed a lot of 'Indian-head' rocks all over his grave, kaise it was so shallah, and dem rocks kept de wild animals from a bothering Sam. You can still see dem rocks, I could carry you dere right now.
"Another darky, Eli McCollum, floated about three and a half miles down de creek. His folks went dere and took him out and buried him on de banks of de stream right by de side of a Indian mound. You can see dat Indian mound to dis very day. It is big as my house is, over dere on de Chester side.
"De Ku Klux and de niggers fit at New Hope Church. A big rock marks de spot today. De church, it done burnt down. De big rock sets about seven miles east of Lockhart on de road to Chester. De darkies killed some of de Ku Klux and dey took dere dead and put dem in Pilgrims Church. Den dey sot fire to dat church and it burnt everything up to de very bones of de white folks. And ever since den, dat spot has been known as 'Burnt Pilgrim'. De darkies left most of de folks right dar fer de buzzards and other wild things to eat up. Kaise dem niggers had to git away from dar; and dey didn't have no time fer to fetch no word or nothing to no folks at home. Dey had a hiding place not fer from 'Burnt Pilgrim'. A darky name Austin Sanders, he was carring some victuals to his son. De Ku Klux cotch him and dey axed him whar he was a gwine. He lowed dat he was a setting some bait fer coons. De Ku Klux took and shot him and left him lying right in de middle of de road wid a biscuit in his dead mouth.
"Doctor McCollum was one of dem Ku Klux, and de Yankees sot out fer to ketch him. Doc., he rid a white pony called 'Fannie'. All de darkies, dey love Doc, so dey would help him fer to git away from de Yankees, even though he was a Ku Klux. It's one road what forks, atter you crosses Wood's Ferry. Don't nobody go over dat old road now. One fork go to Leeds and one to Chester. Well, right in dis fork, Mr. Buck Worthy had done built him a grave in de 'Woods Ferry Graveyard'. Mr. Worthy had done built his grave hisself. It was built out of marble and it was kivered up wid a marble slab. Mr. Worthy, he would take and go dar and open it up and git in it on pretty days. So old Doc., he knowed about dat grave. He was going to see a sick lady one night when dey got atter him. He was on old Fannie. Dey was about to ketch de old Doc. when he reached in sight of dat graveyard. It was dark. So Doc., he drive de horse on pass de fork, and den he stop and hitch her in front of some dense pines. Den he took and went to dat grave and slip dat top slab back and got in dar and pulled it over him, just leaving a little crack. Doc. lowed he wrapped up hisself in his horse blanket, and when de Yankees left, he went to sleep in dat grave and never even woke up till de sun, it was a shinning in his face.