Slave Narratives Vol. XIV. South Carolina, Part 2
by Works Projects Administration
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

"Didn't have no colored churches. De drivers and de over-seers, de house-servants, de bricklayers and folks like dat'd go to de white folk's church. But not de field hands. Why dey couldn't have all got in de church. My marsa had three or four hundred slaves, himself. And most of the other white folks had just as many or more. But them as went would sing! Oh they'd sing! I remember two of 'em specially. One was a man and he'd sing bass. Oh, he'd roll it down! The other was a woman, and she'd sing soprano! They had colored preachers to preach to de field hands down in de quarters. Dey'd preach in de street. Meet next day to de marsa's and turn in de report. How many pray, how many ready for baptism and all like dat. Used to have Sabbath School in de white people's house, in de porch, on Sunday evening. De porch was big and dey'd fill dat porch! They never fail to give de chillun Sabbath School. Learn them de Sabbath catechism. We'd sing a song the church bells used to ring in Beaufort. You never hear it any more. But I remembers it."

The old woman sang the song for me as melodiously and beautifully as any young person. The words are:

"I want to be an angel, and with an angel stand, A crown upon my forehead, a harp within my hand. Right there before my Saviour, so glorious and so bright, I'll hear the sweetest music, and praise Him day and night."

"Old Parson Winborn Lawton used to preach for us after the war until we got our church organized. He had a daughter named Miss Anna Lawton. At the white folk's church at Lawtonville they had a colored man who used to sing for them, by the name of Moses Murray. He'd sit there back of the organ and roll down on them bass. Roll down just like de organ roll! He was Moses Lawton at that time, you know.

"You know how old I am? I'm in my 94th year. Ella has a dream book she looks up my age in and tells me what luck I have, and all that. I generally had good luck."

Source: Rebecca Jane Grant, 93 years old. Lena, S.C.

Project 1885-(1) FOLKLORE Spartanburg, S.C. District No. 4. May 26, 1937.

Edited by: R.V. Williams


"Mos' everybody know my name. You gotta help me. Oh, yeah, dat's what I goes by. It's Brack; dey calls me ole uncle Brack".

"Look out, over dar!" said a negro who was standing nearby. "Uncle Brack, you know you is got mo' names dan dat. Why, everwhar you goes, dey calls you a different name."

"Shet up, you sassy-mouth nigger!" Uncle Brack waved his stick as the younger negro moved out of its reach. Uncle Brack walks with two sticks nearly all the time. He is bent almost double.

"He de greatest nigger rascal a-gwine," Uncle Brack said. "He jest dream all de time, and dreams don't nebber amount to nothin'. Dem dreams what he carries on wid in de daytime, dey is what makes him tell so many lies. De idea, talking like I has a different name everwhar I goes, when I don't go nowhar. Why, I can't hardly hobble to de sto'.

"Dey mus' help me. I took down sick in November. Mr. Rice sent me things. You gov'ment folks ain't sont me much as Mr. Rice and de good white folks what likes me. I'se bawn ten years when Freedom come out. Benn seventy-odd years since Freedom, ain't it, Cap?

"Dr. Jim Gibbs was mighty good to me. You sees dat I'se a-gwine about now. Dr. Gibbs come from Aiken to Union and set up a drug sto' whar Cohen's is now. Dr. Gibbs was a Charleston man, but I is a Kentucky darky. Dr. Gibbs brung me from Kentucky to Charleston when I was five years old. My ma was de one dat dey bought. Dr. Gibbs' wife was a Bohen up in Kentucky. When Dr. Gibbs fetch his wife to Charleston, he bought my ma from his wife's pa, and she fetch me along too.

"It ten o'clock befo' I can creep. Dat de reason dat I has to beg. Wasn't fer my age, I wouldn't ax nobody fer nothing. De Lawd done spared me fer somethin' and I carries on de best dat I can. Doctor say he couldn't do no good. Dat been five years ago de fust time I tuck down. Doctors steadies about money too much. I trustes de Lawd, He spare me to dis day. I can't hardly walk, and I jus' can't bear fer nothing to touch dis foot. I has to use two sticks to walk. (Uncle Brack punched his foot with a stick; then looked up and saw two negro girls approaching.)

"As the girls got opposite Uncle Brack, he threw his stick in front of them and they exclaimed, "Is dat you, Uncle Brack? How did you get up here?" Uncle Brack replied, "I never meant fer you to git by me. Jes kaize I'se ole, ain't no reason fer you not speaking to me." As the girls walked on, Uncle Brack said, "I flirts wid all de colored gals, and I also has a passing word for de white ladies as dey goes by."

"I used to work at the baker shop over dar when Mr. James' chilluns was little saplings. I'se gwine on eighty-six and dem big boys raise dey hats to me. White people has respec' for me kaize I ain't never been in jail. I knows how to carry myself, and I specs to die dat way if I can. Lil chile what jus' could talk good gived me a penny dis mawning.

"I used to could read. I learnt to read in Aiken, when school fust broke out to de colored people. Northern people teached me to read long time ago. Now my eyes is dim."

Source: JOHN GRAVES, (Col. 86) N. Church St., Union, S.C. Interviewer: Caldwell Sims, Union, S.C. (2/27/37)

Project 1885-1 FOLKLORE Spartanburg, Dist. 4: Sept. 8, 1937

Edited by: Elmer Turnage


"Miss Alice Cannon give me my age from de foundation of my mother. Dey been bringing my things out to me—is dat what you'se doing, setting down here by me? I was born on de first Christmas Day, I means de 25th of December, 1855; in Newberry County on de Sam Cannon place. You had to turn off de Ashford Ferry Road about seven and a half miles from de town of Newberry. My mother was Frances Cannon of near Cannon Creek Church.

"I'll try to give you a straight definition. Old man Sim Gallman was my old missus' brother; she was Miss Viny Cannon. My boss was overseer for Mr. Geo. Gallman. We was on Mr. George's place. When Mr. Gallman started overseeing, Mr. Sim Gallman come over dar for dem to take his place and care for him.

"My boss, Sam Cannon, promised me a place. Miss Viny Cannon suckled me and her son Henry at de same time, me on one knee and Henry on t'other. Dey calls me 'Timber'. Miss Sallie said to us atter Freedom, 'You ain't got no marsters'. I cried. My Ma let me stay wid Miss Sallie. Mr. Henry Gallman promised to marry Miss Sally Cannon, my young missus; but he went to de war and never come back home no mo'. Mr. Jeff Gallman went, but he come back wid one arm. Mr. Tom Gallman went and married his first cousin, Miss Addie Cannon; he never got to go to de war.

"My father was a full-blooded Indian from Virginia. He was a refugee. But you know dat dey had a way of selling people back den. Somebody caught him and sold him at one of dem sales. De man what bought him was Mr. Jeff Buzzard. He went back to Virginia atter de surrender. I would not go. He took another woman on de place, and my mother would not let me go. De woman's name dat he took was Sara Danby. She had two brothers and a sister—Samuel, Coffee, and Jenny.

"My mother was mixed Indian and African blood. My folks got 'stroyed up in a storm. My grandfather was named Isaac Haltiwanger. My grandmother, his wife, was named Annie. Dey had one child who was my mother; her name Frances. My grandmother's name was Molly Stone.

"My parents, talking 'bout de Africans, how funny dey talked. Uncle Sonny and uncle Edmund Ruff was two of de old 'uns. Old man Charles Slibe was de preacher. He was a Methodist. My father was a Baptist. His white folks, de Billy Caldwells, prepared de barn for him to preach to dere slaves. In dat day, all de Africans was low chunky fellers and raal black. Dey said dat in Africa, little chilluns run 'round de house and de fattest one fall behind; den dey kill him and eat him. Dat's de worst dat I ever heard, O Lawd!

"I hates dat Missus didn't whip me mo' and let me be teached to read and write so dat I wouldn't be so ignant.

"For de neuralgia, take and tie two or three nutmegs around yo' neck. Tie brass buttons around de neck to stop de nose a-bleeding."

Greeley's house has four rooms and it is in great need of repair. It is badly kept and so are the other houses in "Fowler's Row". He lives with his wife, Eula, but she was not home during the visit.

"My house 'longs to a widder woman. She white but I does not know her name. Her collector is Mr. Wissnance (Whisenant). He got a office over here on E. Main St., right up in de town. I rents by de month but I pays by de week—a dollar. De house sho is gwine down. Rest of de houses on de Row is repaired, but mine ain't yet; so she have Mr. Wissnance drap off twenty-five cents, and now I is paying only seventy-five cents a week. Me and Eula has to go amongst de white folks fer bread and other little things. Ain't got no bread from 'Uncle Sam' since last August. See my tater patch, wid knee-high vines.

"De case worker want to git my age and whar I's born. I told her jest what I told you. She say she got to have proof; so I told her to write Mr. Cannon Blease who was de sheriff. I means de High Sheriff, fer nigh thirty years in Newberry. And does you know, she never even heard of Mr. Cannon Blease. Never had no money but Mr. Blease knowed it, so he up and sont my kerrect age anyway. It turn't out jest 'zactly like I told you it was. What worried me de mostest, is dat she never knowed Mr. Cannon Blease. Is you ever heard of sech a thing as a lady like dat not knowing Mr. Blease?

"Now Mr. Dr. Snyder is a man dat ain't setting here 'sleep. He's a mill'onaire, kaise he run Wofford College and it must take a million dollars to do dat, it sho must. My case worker knowed him.

"De case worker calls me 'Preacher', but I ain't got up to dat yet—I ain't got dat fer. I been sold out twice in insurance. I give my last grand-baby de name 'Roosevelt', and his daddy give him 'Henry'. His Ma never give him none. Some folks loads down babies and kills dem wid names, but his ma never wanted to do dat. So us jest calls him Henry Roosevelt. Us does not drap none and us does not leave none out.

"Went to church one night and left my pocketbook in a box on my mantel. Had $120.00 in it in paper, and $8 in silver. Some niggers dat had been watching me broke down my do' dat I had locked. Dey took de $120 and left de $8. Went home and I seed dat broke do'. I went straight to my mantel and see'd what was done. Dey never bothered de books and papers in dat box. Next morning, de nigger what lived next do' to me was gone. I went to a old fortune teller, a man; he say I know dat you lost a lot. De one I thought got de money, he said, was not de right one. He say dat three hobos got it. One had red hair, one sandy hair and de other had curly hair. He say somebody done cited dem and dey sho going to be caught dis very day. He say dat dey come from Asheville. But he was wrong, kaise dey ain't never caught no three hobos dat I ever learn't about.

"One day when I was plowing, I struck de plow 'ginst something. My plow knocked off de handle. I heard money rattle. It ringed three times. I couldn't see nothing, so I called my wife and son and dey looked, but we never found but five cents. Never in my life did I hear of a bank in slavery times. Everybody buried dere money and sometimes dey forgot where dey put it. I thought dat I had run on some of dat money den, but I never found none. Lots of money buried somewhars, and folks died and never remembered whar it was.

"A nigger republican leader got kilt. I hel't de hosses fer de Ku klux. Great God-a-mighty, Dave and Dick Gist and Mr Caldwell run de sto' at de Rutherford place in dem times. Feeder of dem hosses was Edmund Chalmers. Mr. Dick say, 'Hello, Edmund, how come dem mules so po' when you got good corn everywhar—what, you stealing corn, too?' Mr. Oatzel say, 'Yes, I cotch him wid a basket on his shoulder.' 'Whar was you carrying it?' Edmund say, 'To Mr. Caldwell'. Mr. Caldwell say he ain't see'd no corn. Dey took Edmund to de jail. He had been taking corn and selling it to de carpetbaggers, and dat corn was fer de Ku Klux hosses.

"Dere was a Mr. Brown, a white man, dat come up to live in Newberry. Dey called him a refugee. Us called him Mr. 'Refugee Brown'. He was sorter destituted and not a bit up-to-date. He settled near de Gibson place. I fed de Gibson boys' fox-dogs about dat time fer dem.

"I want to git right wid you, now; so I can meet you lovely. In '73, I thought someone was shaking my house; I come out doors wid my gun; see'd white and colored coming together. Everybody was scared. All got to hollering and some prayed. I thought dat de earth gwine to be shook to pieces by morning. I thought of old Nora (Noah).

"Dem Bible folks see'd a little hand-span cloud. Nora had done built him a house three stories high. Dat little cloud busted. Water riz in de second story of de wicked king's palace. He sont fer de northern lady. When she come a-shaking and a-twisting in de room de king fell back in his chair. He say dat he give her anything she want, all she got to do is ask fer it. She say to cut off John Wesley's head and bring it to her. De king had done got so suluctious dat he done it. Dat king and all of dem got drowned. Nora put a lot of things in de ark dat he could have left out, sech as snakes and other varments; but de ark floated off anyhow. No sir, dat wasn't de Clifton flood, dat was Nora's flood."

Source: Sim Greeley (82), 280 Fowler's Row, Spartanburg, S.C. Interviewer: Caldwell Sims, Union, S.C. (8/27/37)

S-260-264-N Project #1655 Augustus Ladson Charleston, S.C.

Page I No. Words: 1497



"I was bo'n in Charleston at 82 King Street, December 25, 1843. The house is still there who' recent owner is Judge Whaley. My ma an' pa was Kate an' John Green. My ma had seben chillun (boys) an I am the last of 'em. Their names was: Henry, Scipio, Ellis, Nathaniel, Hobart, Mikell, an' myself.

"From the South-East of Calhoun Street, which was then Boundry Street, to the Battery was the city limit an' from the North-West of Boundry Street for sev'als miles was nothin' but fa'm land. All my brothers was fa'm han's for our master, George W. Jones. I did all the house work 'til the war w'en I was given to Mr. Wm. Jones's son, Wm. H. Jones as his "daily give servant" who' duty was to clean his boots, shoes, sword, an' make his coffee. He was Firs' Lieutenant of the South Car'lina Company Regiment. Bein' his servant, I wear all his cas' off clothes which I was glad to have. My shoes was call' brogan that has brass on the toe. W'en a slave had one of 'em you couldn't tell 'em he wasn't dress' to death.

"As the "daily give servant" of Mr. Wm. H. Jones I had to go to Virginia durin' the war. In the battle at Richmond Gen'al Lee had Gen'al Grant almos' beaten. He drive him almos' in the Potomac River, an' then take seven pieces of his artillery. W'en Gen'al Grant see how near defeat he was, he put up a white flag as a signal for time out to bury his deads. That flag stay' up for three weeks while Gen'al Grant was diggin' trenches. In the meantime he get message to President Lincoln askin' him to sen' a reinforcement of sojus. Gen'al Sherman was in charge of the regiment who sen' word to Gen'al Grant to hol' his position 'til he had captur' Columbia, Savannah, burn out Charleston while on his way with dispatch of 45,000 men. W'en Gen'al Sherman got to Virginia, the battle was renew' an' continued for seven days at the en' of which Gen'al Lee surrender' to Gen'al Grant. Durin' the seven days fight the battle got so hot 'til Mr. William Jones made his escape an' it was two days 'fore I know he was gone. One of the Gen'als sen' me home an' I got here two days 'fore Mr. William got home. He went up in the attic an' stay' there 'til the war was end'. I carry all his meals to him an' tell him all the news. Master show was a frighten' man; I was sorry for him. That battle at Richmond, Virginia was the wors' in American history.

Dr. George W. Jones, my master, ran a blockade. He had ships roamin' the sea to capture pirates ships. He had a daughter, Ellen, who was always kin' to the slaves. Master had a driver, William Jenkins, an' an' a' overseer, Henry Brown. Both was white. The driver see that the work was done by the supervision of the overseer. Master' fa'm amounted to twenty-five acres with 'bout eighteen slaves. The overseer blow the ho'n, which was a conch shell, at six in the mornin' an' every slave better answer w'en the roll was call' at seven. The slaves didn't have have to work on Sat'day.

Mr. Ryan had a private jail on Queen Street near the Planters Hotel. He was very cruel; he'd lick his slaves to death. Very seldom one of his slaves survive' a whippin'. He was the opposite to Govenor Aiken, who live' on the North-West corner of Elizabeth an' Judith Streets. He had several rice plantations, hundreds of his slaves he didn't know.

Not 'til John C. Calhoun' body was carried down Boundry Street was the name change' in his honor. He is bury in St. Phillip Church yard, 'cross the street with a laurel tree planted at his head. Four men an' me dig his grave an' I clear' the spot w'ere his monument now stan'. The monument was put up by Pat Callington, a Charleston mason. I never did like Calhoun 'cause he hated the Negro; no man was ever hated as much as him by a group of people.

The Work House (Sugar House) was on Magazine Street, built by Mr. Columbus C. Trumbone. On Charlmer Street is the slave market from which slaves was taken to Vangue Range an' auctione' off. At the foot of Lawrence Street, opposite East Bay Street, on the other side of the trolly tracks is w'ere Mr. Alonze White kept an' sell slaves from his kitchen. He was a slave-broker who had a house that exten' almos' to the train tracks which is 'bout three hundred yards goin' to the waterfront. No train or trolly tracks was there then 'cause there was only one railroad here, the Southern, an' the depot was on Ann Street w'ere the Baggin' Mill now is.

W'en slaves run away an' their masters catch them, to the stockade they go w'ere they'd be whipp' every other week for a number of mornins. An' de for God sake don' you be cotch with pencil an' paper, dat was a major crime. You might as well had kill your master or missus.

One song I know I use to sing to the slaves w'en master went 'way, but I wouldn't be so fool as to let him hear me. What I kin 'member of it is:

Master gone away But darkies stay at home, The year of jubilee is come An' freedom will begun.

A group of white men was in Doctor Wilson' drug store one day w'en I went to buy something. They commence' to ax me questions concernin' some historical happenin's an' I answer them all. So Dr. Wilson bet 'me that I couldn't tell who fired the firs' shot on Fort Sumter. I tell him I did know an' he offer's dollar if I was right. I tell him I wasn't goin' tell 'less the dollar was given to one of the men. He did so an' I told them it was Edward Ruffin who fired the firs' shot an' the dollar was mine. Anderson was determine' not to leave the fort but w'en 'bout four shells had hit the fort he was glad to be able to come out. W'en Sherman was comin' through Columbia, he fired an' a shell lodged in the South-East en' ef the State House which was forbidden to be fix'. He was comin' down Main Street w'en that happens'.

The firs' two people that was hung in Charleston was Harry an' Janie; husban' an' wife who was slaves of Mr. Christopher Black. Mr. Black had them whip' an' they planned to kill the whole fambly. They poison the breakast one morning an' if two of the fambly han' been sleep, they too would a been dead. The others die almos' instantly. An investigation was made an' the poison discovered an the two slaves hung on the big oak in the middle of Ashley Avenue.

If'en any in your owner' fambly was goin' to be married the slaves was dress' in linen clothes to witness the ceremony. Only special slaves was chosen to be at the weddin'. Slaves was alway ax how they like' the one who was comin' in the [TN: two illegible words.] myself by sayin' nice things 'bout the person en hate' the person at the same time.

Slaves was always bury in the night as no one could stop to do it in the day. Ole boards was use' to make the coffin that was blackened with shoe polish.

After the war I did garden work.

Mr. Stiles Bee on James Islan' give track of lan' to the Negroes for a school jus' after the war; he put up a shed-like buildin' with a few chairs in it. It was at the place call Cut Bridge.

Henry McKinley, a Negro who ran as congressman from Charleston jus' after the war, lived on Calhoun Street. He was a mail carrier. He made an oath to Almighty God that if he was elected, he'd never betray his trus'. In one of his speeches he said: "I hope God 'ill paralize me should I do as others have done." He was elected an' never see the Congress. One white man from Orangeburg, Samuel Dibbin, bought him out. An' three weeks later McKinley took a stroke that carry him to a' early grave. James Wright, a Negro judge of Charleston in 1876 sol' out for ten thousand dollars—a dime of which he hasn't receive' yet. He 'cross the bridge an' stay in a' ole house an' die there. The Probate Judge, A. Whipper, refused to give up the books of Judge Wright to the white man he sell out to. Judge Whipper went in Beauford jail an' die there 'cause he wouldn't give up the books. Wright kept such a poor record that Judge Whipper was ashamed to have them expose', an' that's why he didn't give up the books. Henry Smalls, owner of the Smalls Lot on Comin' Street was Second Lieutenant on the Police Force. Henry Fordham was Second Assistant Lieutenant. Captain James Williams, Third Assistant Lieutenant who become Captain of the Military Department an' forme' the Carolina Light Infantry which was recogniz' 'til Ben Tillman call' them on the Green an' take their guns.

I was janitor at Benedict College in Columbia for two years an' at Clafflin in Orangeburg for twelve. The Presidents under which I worke' was: Allen Webster, grandson of the dictionary maker; J.C. Cook; an' Dr. Duntin.

Now all that is pass' an I'm livin' from han' to mouth. The banks took all my money an' I can't work. I do the collectin' for my lan'lord an' he give me a room free. If it wasn't for that I don't know what I'd do.


Interview with Elijah Green, 156 Elizabeth Street, Charleston, S.C.

Project 1885-1 FOLKLORE Spartanburg, Dist. 4 Sept. 7, 1937

Edited by: Elmer Turnage


"Cap, I was born on de Bonner place, five miles from Gaffney. Jest about de very first recollection dat sticks wid me, is my mammy a-hiding me when de Ku Klux was riding. She heard de hosses a-trotting and she rushed us out'n our beds and took us and buried us in de fodder out in our barn, and told us to be as quiet as possible. Both my parents went and hid in de edge of de woods. De Ku Klux passed on by widout even holding up dere hosses.

"During slavery my mother went to Mississippi wid her mistress, Artimesse Smith Ross. Soon atter Freedom dey come back to Smith's Ford on de Pacolet. Steers pulled 'slides', wid de white folk belongings on de slides. We niggers went to meeting on de slides. De ends of de slides was curved upward. When we got to meeting, we went under de brush arbors. Fresh brush was kept cut so dat de sun would not shine through. Under de arbors we sat on slabs and de preacher stood on de ground. We had better meetings den dan dey have now. Everybody had better religion den dan dey does now. In dem days religion went further dan it does now. Yes sir, religion meant something den, and went somewhars. My pappy rode a ginny to preaching.

"Dere was not as much devilment as dere is now. Times was better fer niggers. One day last week I went to meeting and took dinner. We eat on a slab table and had ice tea to drink. Meas was dere drinking on de side, and all other devilment dey could carry on in sight of de church. De preacher eat wid us. Some eat out of dere buckets and would not come and be wid de crowd. Long time ago, nobody didn't act greedy like dat. Girls cut up like boys now, and nobody don't look down on dem.

"When I was a boy, girls acted like de old folks and dey did not carry on. Nobody ever heard of a girl drinking and smoking den. If a girl made a mistake in de old days she was throwed overboard. Why when I was little, us boys went in a-washing wid de girls and never thought nothing 'bout it. We was most grown befo' we know'd a thing 'bout man and woman. I was fifteen years old when I got my first shoes and dey had brass toes. We played ball wid de girls in de house, and sung songs like: 'Goosey, Goosey Gander'."

"We had wheat bread only once a week," said Jesse Stevenson who came up and entered the conversation, "and dat was on Sunday. I had a good time at Green's wedding. Green married Carrie Phillips who lived two miles above me. We boys talked to de girls in school. We was around twenty years old befo' we went to school. Of course dat was atter Freedom. De teacher would light on both of us fer talking across de books. Carrie was about a year younger dan Green. Green, tell de gentleman (interviewer) what you said when you ax'd uncle Ben fer Carrie."

"I say," said Green, "come out into de cool of de yard, please sir, if you will uncle Ben; I has a question of de utmost concern to us both to lay at your feet'. Uncle Ben say, 'Look here, young nigger, don't you know dat I ain't got no business gwine out in no night dew—what ails you nohow?' I 'lows, 'Uncle Ben, it is a great matter of life and death dat I wishes to consult wid you over'. He clear his throat and spit in de fire and say, 'Wait, I'll come if it's dat urgent.' I took him under a tree so dat no dew wouldn't drap on his head and give him a cold. I said, 'I want to marry your daughter, uncle Ben.' He say, 'Which one is dat dat you wishes, Sir?' 'De purttiest one, Carrie,' says I; 'dat is, if you ain't got no objection.'

"Befo' I axed fer Carrie I was loving two gals, but of course I drapped de other'n after uncle Ben give me a favorable answer. Me and Carrie married at Miss Twitty Thompson's house. Dat whar uncle Ben had raised Carrie. Carrie's missus give her a good wedding supper wid chicken, ham, turkey, cake and coffee, and tater salad. Seventy-five people is what Miss Twitty let Carrie ax to dat supper. All dem niggers was dere, too.

"I had on a grey suit wid big stripes in it. Carrie had on a white dress and a white veil. We used dat veil to keep de skeeters off'n our first two babies. It made de best skeeter net. We married one Sunday morning at 'leven o'clock and had dinner at twelve; give de preacher twenty-five cents. Never no one give us no presents. We stayed at my pappy's house fer years. He give us a bed, a bureau and a washstand. Carrie's folks give us de bed clothes, and dats what we started on. Jesse, tell de gentleman what you did at my wedding."

"I stood wid Green," said Jesse Stevenson, "and I had on a brown suit wid grey stripes gwine up and down it. Atter de ceremony all de gals wanted to swing me and Green, but Carrie grabbed him and shake her head and grin; so I got all de swinging."

Green said, "Me and Carrie never went no whar atter our marriage. We stayed on wid my pappy and worked. We been doing well ever since."

Source: W. M. Green (71); Jesse Stevenson (71), Rt. 1, Gaffney, S.C. Interviewer: Caldwell Sims 8/23/37

Project #-1655 Phoebe Faucette Hampton County

Approx. 390 words FOLKLORE


Adeline Grey seemed in good health as she sat before her granddaughter's comfortable fire. She spoke quietly, with little excitement, and readily recalled events of her early childhood.

"I was a girl when freedom was declare, an' I kin remember 'bout de times. My Ma used to belong to ole man Dave Warner. I remember how she used to wash, and iron, an' cook for de white folks durin' slavery time.

"I member when de Yankees come through. I wuz right to de old boss' place. It wuz on de river side. Miss Jane Warner, she wuz de missus. De place heah now—where all de chillun raise. Mr. Rhodes got a turpentine still dere now—jes after you pass de house. Dey burn de ginhouse, de shop, de buggyhouse, de turkeyhouse an' de fowlhouse. Start to set de cornhouse afire, but my Ma say: 'Please sir, don't burn de cornhouse. Gie it to me an' my chillun.' So dey put de fire out. I member when dey started to break down de smokehouse door, an' ole Missus come out an' say: 'Please don't break de door open, I got de key.' So dey quit. I remember when dey shoot down de hog. I remember when dey shoot de two geese in de yard. Dey choked my Ma. Dey went to her an' dey say; 'Where is all de white people gold an' silver?' My Ma say she don't know. 'You does know!' dey say, an' choke her till she couldn't talk. Dey went into de company room where de ole Miss wuz stayin' an' start tearin' up de bed. Den de captain come an' de ole Miss say to him: 'Please don't let 'em tear up my bed,' an' de captain went in dere an' tell 'em 'Come out!'.

De ole Miss wasn't scared. But de young Miss May was sure scared. She was courtin' at de time. She went off an' shut herself up in a room. De ole Miss ask de captain: 'Please go in an' talk to de Miss, she so scared'. So he went in an' soon he bring her out. We chillun wasn't scared. But my brother run under de house. De soldiers went under dere a-pokin' de bayonets into de ground to try to find where de silver buried, an' dey ran 'cross him. 'What you doin' under heah?' dey say. 'I'se jes runnin' de chickens out, sir,' he say. 'Well, you kin go on out,' dey say. 'We aint gwine to hurt you.'

'I remember when dey kill de hog an' cook 'em. Cook on de fire where de little shop been. Cook 'em an' eat 'em. Why didn't dey cook 'em on de stove in de house? Didn't have no stoves. Jes had to cook on de fireplace. Had an oven to fit in de fireplace. I remember when my Ma saw de Yankees comin' dat mornin' she grab de sweet potatoes dat been in dat oven and throw 'em in de barrel of feathers dat stayed by de kitchen fireplace. Jes a barrel to hold chicken feathers when you pick 'em. Dat's all we had to eat dat day. Dem Yankees put de meat in de sack an' go on off. It was late den, 'bout dusk. I remember how de Missus bring us all 'round de fire. It was dark den.

'Well chillun,' she say, 'I is sorry to tell you, but de Yankees has carry off your Ma. I don't know if you'll ever see her any mo.' Den we chillun all start cryin.' We still a-sittin' dere when my Ma come back. She say she slip behind, an' slip behind, slip behind, an' when she come to a little pine thicket by de side of de road, she dart into it, drop de sack of meat dey had her carryin, an' start out for home. When we had all make over her, we say to her den: 'Well why didn't you bring de sack of meat 'long wid you?'

Dey took de top off ole Marse John carriage, put meat in it, an' made him pull it same as a horse. Carry him way down to Lawtonville, had to pull it through de branch an' all. Got de rock-a-way back though—an' de ole man. I remember dat well. Had to mend up de ole rock-a-way. An' it made de ole man sick. He keep on sick, sick, until he died. I remember how he'd say: 'Don't you all worry'. An' he'd go out in de orchard. Dey'd say: 'Don't bother him! Jes let him be! He want to pray!' Atter a while he died an' dey buried him. His name was John Stafford. Dey Massa wasn't dere. I guess he was off to de war.

"But after freedom was de time when dey suffered more dan before. Dese chillun don't know how dey blessed. My Ma cooked for de white folks for one year after freedom. I remember dey cook bread, an' dey ain't have nuthin' to eat on it. Was thankful for a cornbread hoecake baked in de fireplace. But dey had some things. Had buried some meat, an' some syrup. An' dey had some corn. My Ma had saved de cornhouse. De rice burn up in de ginhouse. After freedom, dey had to draw de best thread out of de old clothes an' weave it again. Ole Miss had give my Ma a good moss mattress. But de Yankees had carry dat off. Rip it up, throw out de moss, an' put meat in it. Fill it full of meat. I remember she had a red striped shawl. One of de Yankee take dat an' start to put in under his saddle for a saddle cloth. My brother go up to him an' say: 'Please sir, don't carry my Ma's shawl. Dat de only one she got.' So he give it back to him. To keep warm at night, dey had to make dere pallet down by de fire; when all wood burn out, put on another piece. Didn't have nuthin' on de bed to sleep on.

"I remember when de ole Miss used to have to make soap, out of dese red oaks. Burn de wood, an' catches de ashes. Put de ashes in a barrel wid a trough under it, an' pour de water through de ashes. If de lyewater dat come out could cut a feather, it was strong.

"Used to weave cloth after freedom. Used to give a brooch (hank) or two to weave at night. I'se sometimes thread de needle for my Ma, or pick out de seed out de cotton, an' make it into rolls to spin. Sometimes I'd work de foot pedal for my Ma. Den dey'd warp de thread. If she want to dye it, she'd dye it. She'd get indigo—you know dat bush—an' boil it. It was kinder blue. It would make good cloth. Sometimes, de cloth wuz kinder strip, one strip of white, an' one of blue. I remember how dey'd warp de thread across de yard after it wuz dyed, an' I remember seem' my Ma throw dat shuttle through an' weave dat cloth. I member when de ole Miss made my Mamma two black dresses to wear through de winter. She'd keep 'em clean; had two so she could change.

"I don't know why dey didn't burn de house. Must have been 'cause de captain wuz along. De house dere now. One of de chimney down. I don't think dey ever put it up again. Colored folks are in it now.

"I never did know my Pa. He was sold off to Texas when I was young. My mother would say, 'Well, chillun, you aint never known your Pa. Joe Smart carry him off to Texas when he went. I don't guess you'll ever see him.' My father wuz name Charles Smart. He never did come back. Joe Smart come back once, an' say dat our father is dead. He say our Pa had three horses an' he want one of them to be sent to us chillun heah; but no arrangements had been made to get it to us. You see he had chillun out dere, too.

"Atter freedom, my Ma plow many a day, same as a man, for us chillun. She work for ole man Bill Mars. Den she marry again. Part of de time dey work for Mr. Benny Lawton, de one-arm man, what lost his arm in de war. Dese chillun don't know what hard times is. Dey don't know how to preciate our blessings.

Source: Adeline Grey, 82-year old resident of Luray, S.C.

Project #1655 Everett R. Pierce Columbia, S.C.


"You wants me to tell you all what I 'members 'bout slavery in slavery time? Well ma'am, I was just a young gal then and I's a old woman now, nigh on to ninety-four years old; I might be forgot some things, but I'll tell you what I 'members best.

My massa, Massa Joe Beard, was a good man, but he wasn't one of de richest men. He only had six slaves, three men and three women, but he had a big plantation and would borrow slaves from his brother-in-law on de 'joining plantation, to help wid de crops.

I was de youngest slave, so Missy Grace, dats Massa Joe's wife, keep me in de house most of de time, to cook and keep de house cleaned up. I milked de cow and worked in de garden too. My massa was good to all he slaves, but Missy Grace was mean to us. She whip us a heap of times when we ain't done nothing bad to be whip for. When she go to whip me, she tie my wrists together wid a rope and put that rope thru a big staple in de ceiling and draw me up off de floor and give me a hundred lashes. I think 'bout my old mammy heap of times now and how I's seen her whipped, wid de blood dripping off of her.

All that us slaves know how to do, was to work hard. We never learn to read and write nor we never had no church to go to, only sometimes de white folks let us go to their church, but we never jine in de singing, we just set and listen to them preach and pray. De graveyard was right by de church and heap of de colored people was scared to go by it at night, they say they see ghosts and hants, and sperits but I ain't never see none, don't believe there is none. I more scared of live people than I is dead ones; dead people ain't gwine to harm you.

Our massa and missus was good to us when we was sick; they send for de doctor right off and de doctor do all he could for us, but he ain't had no kind of medicine to give us 'cepting sperits of turpentine, castor oil, and a little blue mass. They ain't had all kinds of pills and stuff then, like they has now, but I believe we ain't been sick as much then as we do now. I never heard of no consumption them days; us had pneumonia sometime tho'.

You wants to know if we had any parties for pastime? Well ma'am, not many. We never was allowed to have no parties nor dances, only from Christmas Day to New Year's eve. We had plenty good things to eat on Christmas Day and Santa Claus was good to us too. We'd have all kinds of frolics from Christmas to New Years but never was allowed to have no fun after that time.

I 'members one time I slip off from de missus and go to a dance and when I come back, de dog in de yard didn't seem to know me and he bark and wake de missus up and she whip me something awful. I sho didn't go to no more dances widout asking her. De patarollers (patrollers) would ketch you too, if you went out after dark. We most times stay at home at night and spin cloth to make our clothes. We make all our clothes, and our shoes was handmade too. We didn't have fancy clothes like de people has now. I likes it better being a slave, we got along better then, than we do now. We didn't have to pay for everything we had.

De worst time we ever had was when de Yankee men come thru. We had heard they was coming and de missus tell us to put on a big pot of peas to cook, so we put some white peas in a big pot and put a whole ham in it, so that we'd have plenty for de Yankees to eat. Then when they come, they kicked de pot over and de peas went one way and de ham another.

De Yankees 'stroyed 'most everything we had. They come in de house and told de missus to give them her money and jewels. She started crying and told them she ain't got no money or jewels, 'cepting de ring she had on her finger. They got awfully mad and started 'stroying everything. They took de cows and horses, burned de gin, de barn, and all de houses 'cept de one massa and missus was living in. They didn't leave us a thing 'cept some big hominy and two banks of sweet potatoes. We chipped up some sweet potatoes and dried them in de sun, then we parched them and ground them up and that's all we had to use for coffee. It taste pretty good too. For a good while we just live on hominy and coffee.

No ma'am, we ain't had no celebration after we was freed. We ain't know we was free 'til a good while after. We ain't know it 'til General Wheeler come thru and tell us. After that, de massa and missus let all de slaves go 'cepting me; they kept me to work in de house and de garden."

Home address:

2125 Calhoun St. Columbia, S.C.

Project 1885-1 FOLKLORE Spartanburg Dist. 4 June 22, 1937

Edited by: Elmer Turnage


"I will be 85 years old dis coming August. My master said I was 14 years old de August coming after freedom.

"My master was Billy Scott who had seven or eight hundred acres of land, and 48 slaves. He wouldn't have no white overseers, but had some nigger foremen dat sometimes whipped de niggers, and de master would whip dem, too. He was a fair man, not so good and not so mean. He give us poor quarters to live in, and sometimes plenty to eat, but sometimes we went hungry. He had a big garden, plenty cows, hogs and sheep. De most we had ter eat, was corn, collards, peas, turnip-greens and home-made molasses. We had wheat bread on Sundays. It was made from flour grind at our own mill. We didn't have but one day off, that was Christmas Day and den we had to grind our axes.

"We made our clothes out of cotton and wool mixed, made dem at home wid our own cards and spinning wheels. We made our shoes out of leather tanned at home, but had to use woolen shoes after de war, which would wear out and split open in three weeks.

"My daddy was Amos Wilson and mammy was Carline Griffin. I had some brothers and sisters. When freedom come, de master come to us and told us de damn Yankees done freed us, 'what you gwinter do? If you want ter stay on wid me, I will give you work.' We stayed fer awhile.

"The patrollers caught me once when I run off. I run fast and lost my hat and dey got it. I saw some slaves sold on de block. Dey was put in a ring and sold by crying out de price. We didn't learn to read and write, not allowed to. De niggers went to de corn shuckings and was give pumpkin custards to eat and liquor. Dey wasn't allowed to dance, but sometimes we had secret dances, shut up in de house so de master couldn't hear us.

"After de war, we went hunting and fishing on Sundays. We never had Saturday afternoons off. We killed wild deer and other things. Once de master killed 14 squirrels in three quarters of hour.

"We raised our own tobacco, the master did, for home use. Most always a small patch was planted.

"De master once saw ghosts, he come from his sisters and passed de graveyard and saw 9 cows with no heads. His horse jest flew home. Most white folks didn't believe in ghosts, but dat is one time de master believed he saw some.

"I went wid de Red Shirts, belonged to de company and went to meetings wid dem. I voted fer Hampton. Befo' dat, de Ku Klux had bad niggers dodging like birds in de woods. Dey caught some and threw dem on de ground and whipped dem, but de master say he don't know nothing 'bout it as he was asleep. Dey caught a nigger preacher once and made him dance, put him in muddy water and walloped him around in de mud.

"Once seven Indians come in our neighborhood an call fer meat, meal and salt. Dere was three men and four women. Dey cooked all night, murmuring something all de time. Next morning three squirrels was found up a tree, and de Indians shot 'em down wid bow and arrow.

"One time I saw horses froze to death. Dey couldn't get dere breath, and de people took warm water and wash dere foreheads. I was a small boy den. My master had 46 guineas.

"I married Nancy Robinson who belonged to Robert Calmes. She was living at de Gillam place near Rich Hill.

"We used to ask a riddle like this: Love I stand, Love I sit, Love I hold in my right hand. What is it? It was made up when an old woman had a little dog named 'Love'. She killed it and put a part of it, after it was baked, in her stockings; part in her shoes; part in back of her dress, and part in her gloves. A nigger was going to be hung the next Friday, and told if he guess the riddle he would be turned loose. He couldn't guess it, but was turned loose anyway.

"I think Abe Lincoln might ter done good, but he had us all scared to death, took our mules and burned our places. Don't know anything about Jeff Davis. Booker Washington is all right.

"I joined de church when 28 years old, because I thought it was right. Wanted to git right and git to God's Kingdom. I think everybody ought to join de church.

"O' course I rather it not be slavery time, but I got more ter eat den dan now. Den we didn't know what ter do, but now we perish ter death."

Source: Madison Griffin (84), Whitmire, S.C. Interviewer: G.L. Summer, Newberry, S.C. (6/18/1937)

Project 1885-1 FOLKLORE Spartanburg, Dist. 4 June 7, 1937

Edited by: Elmer Turnage


"I was born in old Edgefield county, about three miles below what is now Saluda Courthouse. I was a slave of Alec Grigsby. He was a fair marster, but his wife was awful mean to us. She poked my head in a rail fence once and whipped me hard with a whip. I lived in that section until eight years ago, when I come to Newberry to live with my daughters.

"I worked hard in cotton fields, milked cows and helped about the marster's house. When the bush-whackers and patrollers come around dere, us niggers suffered lots with beatings. Some of dem was killed.

"The old folks had corn-shuckings, frolics, pender pullings, and quiltings. They had quiltings on Saturday nights, with eats and frolics. When dey danced, dey always used fiddles to make the music.

"The men folks hunted much: doves, partridges, wild turkeys, deer, squirrels and rabbits. Sometimes dey caught rabbits in wooden boxes, called 'rabbit-gums'. It had a trap in the middle, which was set at night, with food in it, and when the rabbit bite, the tray sprung, and the opening at the front was closed so he couldn't get out.

"The marster had a big whiskey still, and sold lots of liquor to people around there."

Source: Peggy Grigsby (106), Newberry, S.C. Interviewer: G.L. Summer, Newberry, S.C. 5/10/37.

Project #1655 W.W. Dixon Winnsboro, S.C.


"I was born a slave in de Rocky Mount part of Fairfield County, up close to Great Falls. I hear them falls a roarin' now and I see them waters flashin' in de sunshine when I close my eyes.

My pappy name Robert and my mammy name Phyllis. They b'long to de old time 'ristocats, de Gaither family. Does you know Miss Mattie Martin, which was de secretary of Governor Ansel? Dat one of my young mistresses and another is dat pretty red headed girl in de telegraph office at Winnsboro, dat just sit dere and pass out lightnin' and 'lectricity over de wires wheresomever she take a notion. Does you know them? Well, befo' their mama marry Marster Starke Martin, her was Sally Gaither, my young missus in slavery time. Her die and go to Heaven last year, please God.

Marster Richard was a good marster to his slaves, though he took no foolishness and worked you from sun to sun. 'Spect him had 'bout ten family of slaves and 'bout fifty big and little slaves altogether on dat plantation befo' them Yankees come and make a mess out of their lives.

Honey, us wasn't ready for de big change dat come! Us had no education, no land, no mule, no cow, not a pig, nor a chicken, to set up house keeping. De birds had nests in de air, de foxes had holes in de ground, and de fishes had beds under de great falls, but us colored folks was left widout any place to lay our heads.

De Yankees sho' throwed us in de briar patch but us not bred and born dere lak de rabbit. Us born in a good log house. De cows was down dere in de canebrakes to give us milk, de hogs was fattenin' on hickory nuts, acorns, and shucked corn, to give us meat and grease; de sheep wid their wool, and de cotton in de gin house was dere to give us clothes. De horses and mules was dere to help dat corn and cotton, but when them Yankees come and take all dat away, all us had to thank them for, was a hungry belly, and freedom. Sumpin' us had no more use for then, than I have today for one of them airplanes I hears flyin' 'round de sky, right now.

Well, after ravagin' de whole country side, de army got across old Catawba and left de air full of de stink of dead carcasses and de sky black wid turkey buzzards. De white women was weepin' in hushed voices, de niggers on de place not knowin' what to do next, and de piccaninnies suckin' their thumbs for want of sumpin' to eat; mind you 'twas winter time too.

Lots of de chillun die, as did de old folks, while de rest of us scour de woods for hickory nuts, acorns, cane roots, and artichokes, and seine de river for fish. De worst nigger men and women follow de army. De balance settle down wid de white folks and simmer in their misery all thru de spring time, 'til plums, mulberries, and blackberries come, and de shad come up de Catawba River.

My mammy stay on wid de same marster 'til I was grown, dat is fifteen, and Thad got to lookin' at me, meek as a sheep and dumb as a calf. I had to ask dat nigger, right out, what his 'tentions was, befo' I get him to bleat out dat he love me. Him name Thad Guntharpe. I glance at him one day at de pigpen when I was sloppin' de hogs, I say: 'Mr. Guntharpe, you follows me night and mornin' to dis pigpen; do you happen to be in love wid one of these pigs? If so, I'd like to know which one 'tis; then sometime I come down here by myself and tell dat pig 'bout your 'fections.' Thad didn't say nothin' but just grin. Him took de slop bucket out of my hand and look at it, all 'round it, put upside down on de ground, and set me down on it; then he fall down dere on de grass by me and blubber out and warm my fingers in his hands. I just took pity on him and told him mighty plain dat he must limber up his tongue and ask sumpin', say what he mean, wantin' to visit them pigs so often. Us carry on foolishness 'bout de little boar shoat pig and de little sow pig, then I squeal in laughter over how he scrouge so close; de slop bucket tipple over and I lost my seat. Dat ever remain de happiest minute of my eighty-two years.

After us marry, us moved on de Johnson Place and Thad plow right on a farm where dere use to be a town of Grimkeville. I was lonely down dere all de time. I's halfway scared to death of de skeeters 'bout my legs in day time and old Captain Thorn's ghost in de night time. You never heard 'bout dat ghost? If you went to school to Mr. Luke Ford sure he must of tell you 'bout de time a slave boy killed his marster, old Captain Thorn. He drag and throwed his body in de river.

When they find his body they ketch John, de slave boy, give him a trial by six white men, find him guilty and he confess. Then they took de broad axe, cut off his head, mount it on a pole and stick it up on de bank where they find old Captain Thorn. Dat pole and head stay dere 'til it rot down. Captain Thorn's ghost 'pear and disappear 'long dat river bank ever since in de night time. My pappy tell me he see it and see de boy's ghost too.

De ghost rode de minds of many colored folks. Some say dat de ghost had a heap to do wid deaths on dat river, by drowning. One sad thing happen; de ghost and de malaria run us off de river. Us moved to Marster Starke P. Martin's place. Him was a settin' at a window in de house one night and somebody crept up dere and fill his head full of buck-shot. Marster Starke was Miss Sallie's husband, and Miss Mattie and Miss May's papa. Oh, de misery of dat night to my white folks! Who did it? God knows! They sent poor Henry Nettles to de penitentiary for it, but most white folks and all de colored didn't believe he done it. White folks say a white man done it, but our color know it was de work of dat slave boy's ghost.

My white folks come here from Maryland, I heard them say. They fought in de Revolution, set up a tanyard when they got here, and then when cotton come, my marster's pappy was de fust to put up a hoss-gin and screw pit in Rocky Mount section. I glories in their blood, but dere none by de name 'round here now, 'cept colored folks.

Marster Wood you read a heap of books. Did you ever read 'bout foots of ghosts? They got foots and can jump and walk. No they don't run, why? 'Cause seem lak their foots is too big. Dat night Marster Starke Martin was killed it was a snowin'. De whole earth was covered wid a white blanket. It snowed and snowed and snowed. Us measure how big dat snow was next mornin' and how big dat ghost track. De snow was seven inches, and a little bit deep. De ghost track on top de snow big as a elephant's. Him or she or it's tracks 'pear to drap wid de snow and just rise up out de snow and disappear. De white folks say 'twas a man wid bags on his foots, but they never found de bags, so I just believe it was ghost instigate by de devil to drap down dere and make all dat misery for my white folks.

Dere's a great day a comin' when de last trumpet will sound and de devil and all de ghosts will be chained and they can't romp 'round de old river and folks houses in de night time and bring sorrow and pain in de wake of them big tracks."

Project #-1655 Gyland H. Hamlin Charleston, S.C.



"Good a'ternoon, suh. Yassuh, I'ze gittin' on up in de years. I be eighty-one year ole nex' May. I name John Hamilton an' I lib at sickty-t'ree Amherst Street.

"I 'member sumptin' 'bout slabery. I wuz 'bout big as dat gal gwine dere w'en de Fed'rul war broke out," indicating a child, passing down the street who appeared to be about eight years old.

"I belong' to Maussa Seabrook, an' he lib at W'ite Point, ten mile from Adams Run. De Maussa, he been daid but he got some boys. Dem boys all scatter', dough. Yassuh, ole Maussa treat us good. I not big 'nough to wuk, I jus' a li'l boy den. My fadder name' Rhode Hamilton, an' 'e hab two acre to wuk. Dere didn't been no hoss, an' 'e grub it wid de hoe.

"Some slabes no good an' not satisfy fo' tuh wuk. Dey run 'way fum de plantation. Dere been big dawgs high as street-cyar, yassuh, high as dat street-cyar. Dey name' nigger-dawg an' dey trace nigger an' put dem nigger back to wuk. Dere been Yankee man name' Tom Cudry. I kin sho' de house 'e been in. He say 'e tired see colored mans wuk hard an' git nuttin'. He put colored mans on banjoo (vendue) table an' 'e be free.

"I didn't be marry till I git in my t'irty year. My wife, she 'bout sickty-fibe year ole'. We got fibe chillun libbin', 'bout twelbe haid in all. Grand-chillun? 'Bout sebben haid an' one gal. Hab great grand-chillun, too.

"I ain't been know nuttin' 'bout jailhouse. Ain't see a jailhouse in my life. I hab to look all day to find one in Charleston, an' don't know where 'bouts de court-house. Ain't gwine to jailhouse. Nobody hab to 'rest me no how.

"I be a Babtis'. I babtize' in de ribber, de Edisto ribber. I tryin' git to Hebben. Hebben be glory. Yassuh, Hebben be glory. You got to lub all God's chillun to git dere. God send w'ite folks an' colored folks, an' dey mus' he'p each odder an' wuk togedder. Dey got to lib in union. Yassuh, got to lib in union to git to Hebben.

"I 'pend on de w'ite folks to he'p me. Dese pore colored folks ain't got nuttin'. Nawsuh, I ain't be too ole to wuk an' mek a honest libbin' like lot o' dem no good nigger what too stiff fo' to speak. I wuk some flower-yard fo' some w'ite folks, an' I wuk a li'l gyarden.

"Yassuh, I hol' up berry well, but I can't see at night w'en de sun go down. My sight gone back den. I got git 'long now.

"You gimme a nickel or dime? T'ank you, suh. T'ank you kin'ly."

Source: Personal interview with John Hamilton, colored, of 63 Amherst Street, Charleston, S.C.

Project #-1655 Jessie A. Butler Charleston, S.C.



(Verbatim Conversation)

Old Susan Hamlin, one hundred and four years old, was strolling down lower King St., about a mile from where she lives, when she was met by a white "friend," and the following conversation took place:

"How are you, Susan, do you remember me?"

"Yes, Ma'am, I 'member yo face, Missus, but I can't 'member yo name. I gettin' ole. Dis eye (touching the right one) leabin' me. Ole age you know. Somet'ing got tuh gie way."

"Don't you remember I came to see you one morning, and you told me all about old times?"

"Yes, Ma'am, (with enthusiasm) come tuh see me 'gain, I tell you some mo'. I like tuh talk 'bout dem days; 'taint many people left now kin tell 'bout dat time. Eberybody dead. I goes 'round tuh de ole house, an' I t'ink 'bout all dem little chillen I is nuss, (calling them by name) dey all sleep, all sleep in de groun'. Nobody lef' but ole Susan. All my fambly, de massa, de missus, all de little chillen, all sleep. Only me one lef', only ole Susan. Sometime I wonder how it is. I ober a hund'ed, I stahtin' (starting) tuh forgit de years."

"Tell me one thing, Susan, you have lived a long time, do you think the young people of today are better or worse than in the old days?"

"Well, Missus, some is wuss but not all. Some stray jus' like dey always done but dey'll come back. I stray 'way myself but dey'll come back jus' like I did. Gib um time dey come back. I git converted you know."

"Yes, you told me about that."

"Yes, Ma'am, I see de Sabior. He show me hoe He die. I nebber forget dat day. Dere He hang,—so—(with arms outstretched) an' He show me de great brightness, an' He show me de big sin on my back, black as dat cyar (car). Den I pray an' I pray, an' it fall off. Den I praise Him. Nebber since dat day is I forget what I see. When I see dat reconcile Sabior countenance,—oh!—I nebber forget. No, Ma'am. I nebber forget dat reconcile countenance. As I tell yuh, I stray 'way, but not after I see dat reconcile countenance. I pray and praise Him. Sometimes all by myself I get so happy, jes t'inkin' on Him. I cyant forget all dat He done fuh me."

"People tell me I ought not walk 'round by myself so. I tell um I don't care where I drop. I 'member when my ma was dyin' I beg um not to leabe me, she say: 'Wha' I got yuh, wha' I want tuh stay yuh fuh? I want tuh go, I want tuh see muh Jesus.' I know what she mean now. I don't care if I drop in de street, I don't care if I drop in my room. I don't care where I drop, I ready tuh go."

"All you got tuh do is libe right, yuh got tuh libe (live) de life. What is de life?—Purity.—What is Purity?—Righteousness.—What is Righteousness?—Tuh do de right t'ing.—Libe right,—pray an' praise. Beliebe on de delibrin (delivering) Sabior. Trus' Him. He lead yuh. He show yuh de way. Dat all yuh got tuh do. Beliebe—pray—praise. Ebery night befo' I lay on my bed I git on my knees an' look up tuh Him. Soon I wake in de mornin' I gibe Him t'anks. Eben sometime in de day I git on my knees an' pray. He been good to me all dese years. He aint forget me. I aint been sick for ober twenty-five years. Good t'ing too, nobody left tuh tek care of me. Dey all gone. But I don't care now, jus' so I kin see my Jesus when I gone."

"I goin' down now tuh see my people I use to cook fuh. I too ole now tuh cook. I use tuh cook fine. Come tuh see me again, missus, come tuh see de ole monkey, I tell yuh mo' 'bout dose times. You know I kin 'member dem when I been a big girl, most grown, when de bombardment come ober de city."

Source: Writer's conversation with Susan Hamlin, 17 Henrietta Street, Charleston. S.C.

Project#-1655 Jessie A. Butler Charleston, S.C.

Approx. 1739 Words


On July 6th, I interviewed Susan Hamlin, ex-slave, at 17 Henrietta street, Charleston, S. C. She was sitting just inside of the front door, on a step leading up to the porch, and upon hearing me inquire for her she assumed that I was from the Welfare office, from which she had received aid prior to its closing. I did not correct this impression, and at no time did she suspect that the object of my visit was to get the story of her experience as a slave. During our conversation she mentioned her age. "Why that's very interesting, Susan," I told her, "If you are that old you probably remember the Civil War and slavery days." "Yes Ma'am, I been a slave myself," she said, and told me the following story:

"I kin remember some things like it was yesterday, but I is 104 years old now, and age is starting to get me, I can't remember everything like I use to. I getting old, old. You know I is old when I been a grown woman when the Civil War broke out. I was hired out then, to a Mr. McDonald, who lived on Atlantic Street, and I remembers when de first shot was fired, and the shells went right over de city. I got seven dollars a month for looking after children, not taking them out, you understand, just minding them. I did not get the money, Mausa got it." "Don't you think that was fair?" I asked. "If you were fed and clothed by him, shouldn't he be paid for your work?" "Course it been fair," she answered, "I belong to him and he got to get something to take care of me."

"My name before I was married was Susan Calder, but I married a man name Hamlin. I belonged to Mr. Edward Fuller, he was president of the First National Bank. He was a good man to his people till de Lord took him. Mr. Fuller got his slaves by marriage. He married Miss Mikell, a lady what lived on Edisto Island, who was a slave owner, and we lived on Edisto on a plantation. I don't remember de name cause when Mr. Fuller got to be president of de bank we come to Charleston to live. He sell out the plantation and say them (the slaves) that want to come to Charleston with him could come and them what wants to stay can stay on the island with his wife's people. We had our choice. Some is come and same is stay, but my ma and us children come with Mr. Fuller.

We lived on St. Philip street. The house still there, good as ever, I go 'round there to see it all de time; the cistern still there too, where we used to sit 'round and drink the cold water, and eat, and talk and laugh. Mr. Fuller have lots of servants and the ones he didn't need hisself he hired out. The slaves had rooms in the back, the ones with children had two rooms and them that didn't have any children had one room, not to cook in but to sleep in. They all cooked and ate downstairs in the hall that they had for the colored people. I don't know about slavery but I know all the slavery I know about, the people was good to me. Mr. Fuller was a good man and his wife's people been grand people, all good to their slaves. Seem like Mr. Fuller just git his slaves so he could be good to dem. He made all the little colored chillen love him. If you don't believe they loved him what they all cry, and scream, and holler for when dey hear he dead? 'Oh, Mausa dead my Mausa dead, what I going to do, my Mausa dead.' Dey tell dem t'aint no use to cry, dat can't bring him back, but de chillen keep on crying. We used to call him Mausa Eddie but he named Mr. Edward Fuller, and he sure was a good man.

"A man come here about a month ago, say he from de Government, and dey send him to find out 'bout slavery. I give him most a book, and what he give me? A dime. He ask me all kind of questions. He ask me dis and he ask me dat, didn't de white people do dis and did dey do dat but Mr. Fuller was a good man, he was sure good to me and all his people, dey all like him, God bless him, he in de ground now but I ain't going to let nobody lie on him. You know he good when even the little chillen cry and holler when he dead. I tell you dey couldn't just fix us up any kind of way when we going to Sunday School. We had to be dressed nice, if you pass him and you ain't dress to suit him he send you right back and say tell your ma to see dat you dress right. Dey couldn't send you out in de cold barefoot neither. I 'member one day my ma want to send me wid some milk for her sister-in-law what live 'round de corner. I fuss cause it cold and say 'how you going to send me out wid no shoe, and it cold?' Mausa hear how I talking and turn he back and laugh, den he call to my ma to gone in de house and find shoe to put on my feet and don't let him see me barefoot again in cold weather.

When de war start going good and de shell fly over Charleston he take all us up to Aiken for protection. Talk 'bout marching through Georgia, day sure march through Aiken, soldiers was everywhere.

"My ma had six children, three boys and three girls, but I de only one left, all my white people and all de colored people gone, not a soul left but me. I ain't been sick in 25 years. I is near my church and I don't miss service any Sunday, night or morning. I kin walk wherever I please, I kin walk to de Battery if I want to. The Welfare use to help me but dey shut down now, I can't find out if dey going to open again or not. Miss (Mrs.) Buist and Miss Pringle, dey help me when I can go there but all my own dead."

"Were most of the masters kind?" I asked. "Well you know," she answered, "times den was just like dey is now, some was kind and some was mean; heaps of wickedness went on just de same as now. All my people was good people. I see some wickedness and I hear 'bout all kinds of t'ings but you don't know whether it was lie or not. Mr. Fuller been a Christian man."

"Do you think it would have been better if the Negroes had never left Africa?" was the next question I asked. "No Ma'am," (emphatically) dem heathen didn't have no religion. I tell you how I t'ink it is. The Lord made t'ree nations, the white, the red and the black, and put dem in different places on de earth where dey was to stay. Dose black ignoramuses in Africa forgot God, and didn't have no religion and God blessed and prospered the white people dat did remember him and sent dem to teach de black people even if dey have to grab dem and bring dem into bondage till dey learned some sense. The Indians forgot God and dey had to be taught better so dey land was taken away from dem. God sure bless and prosper de white people and He put de red and de black people under dem so dey could teach dem and bring dem into sense wid God. Dey had to get dere brains right, and honor God, and learn uprightness wid God cause ain't He make you, and ain't His Son redeem you and save you wid His precious blood. You kin plan all de wickedness you want and pull hard as you choose but when the Lord mek up His mind you is to change, He can change you dat quick (snapping her fingers) and easy. You got to believe on Him if it tek bondage to bring you to your knees.

You know I is got converted. I been in Big Bethel (church) on my knees praying under one of de preachers. I see a great, big, dark pack on my back, and it had me all bent over and my shoulders drawn down, all hunch up. I look up and I see de glory, I see a big beautiful light, a great light, and in de middle is de Sabior, hanging so (extending her arms) just like He died. Den I gone to praying good, and I can feel de sheckles (shackles) loose up and moving and de pack fall off. I don't know where it went to, I see de angels in de Heaven, and hear dem say 'Your sins are forgiven.' I scream and fell off so. (Swoon.) When I come to dey has laid me out straight and I know I is converted cause you can't see no such sight and go on like you is before. I know I is still a sinner but I believe in de power of God and I trust his Holy name. Den dey put me wid de seekers but I know I is already saved."

"Did they take good care of the slaves when their babies were born?" she was asked. "If you want chickens for fat (to fatten) you got to feed dem," she said with a smile, "and if you want people to work dey got to be strong, you got to feed dem and take care of dem too. If dey can't work it come out of your pocket. Lots of wickedness gone on in dem days, just as it do now, some good, some mean, black and white, it just dere nature, if dey good dey going to be kind to everybody, if dey mean dey going to be mean to everybody. Sometimes chillen was sold away from dey parents. De Mausa would come and say "Where Jennie," tell um to put clothes on dat baby, I want um. He sell de baby and de ma scream and holler, you know how dey carry on. Geneally (generally) dey sold it when de ma wasn't dere. Mr. Fuller didn't sell none of us, we stay wid our ma's till we grown. I stay wid my ma till she dead.

"You know I is mix blood, my grandfather bin a white man and my grandmother a mulatto. She been marry to a black so dat how I get fix like I is. I got both blood, so how I going to quarrel wid either side?"

Source: Interview with *Susan Hamlin, 17 Henrietta Street.

NOTE * Susan lives with a mulatto family of the better type. The name is Hamlin not Hamilton, and her name prior to her marriage was Calder not Collins. I paid particular attention to this and had them spell the names for me. I would judge Susan to be in the late nineties but she is wonderfully well preserved. She now claims to be 104 years old.

S-260-264-N Project #1885 Augustus Ladson Charleston, S.C.

No. Words: 1195




I'm a hund'ed an' one years old now, son. De only one livin' in my crowd from de days I wuz a slave. Mr. Fuller, my master, who was president of the Firs' National Bank, owned the fambly of us except my father. There were eight men an' women with five girls an' six boys workin' for him. Most o' them wus hired out. De house in which we stayed is still dere with de cisterns an' slave quarters. I always go to see de old home which is on St. Phillip Street.

My ma had t'ree boys an' t'ree girls who did well at their work. Hope Mikell, my eldest bredder, an' James wus de shoemaker. William Fuller, son of our master, wus de bricklayer. Margurite an' Catharine wuz de maids an' look at de children.

My pa b'long to a man on Edisto Island. Frum what he said, his master was very mean. Pa real name wus Adam Collins but he took his master' name; he wus de coachman. Pa did supin one day an his master whipped him. De next day which wuz Monday, Pa carry him 'bout four miles frum home in de woods an' give him de same 'mount of lickin' he wus given on Sunday. He tied him to a tree an' unhitched de horse so it couldn't git tie-up an' kill a self. Pa den gone to de landin' an' catch a boat dat wus comin' to Charleston wood fa'm products. He wus permitted by his master to go to town on errands, which helped him to go on de boat without bein' question'. When he got here he gone on de water-front an' ax for a job on a ship so he could git to de North. He got de job an' sail' wood de ship. Dey search de island up an' down for him wood houndogs en w'en it wus t'ought he wus drowned, 'cause dey track him to de river, did dey give up. One of his master' friend gone to New York en went in a store w'ere Pas wus employed as a clerk. He reconize' pa is easy is pa reconize' him. He gone back home an' tell pa master who know den dat pa wusn't comin' back an' before he died he sign' papers dat pa wus free. Pa ma wus dead an' he come down to bury her by de permission of his master' son who had promised no ha'm would come to him, but dey wus fixin' plans to keep him, so he went to the Work House an' ax to be sold 'cause any slave could sell e self if e could git to de Work House. But it wus on record down dere so dey couldn't sell 'im an' told him his master' people couldn't hold him a slave.

People den use to do da same t'ings dey do now. Some marry an' some live together jus' like now. One t'ing, no minister nebber say in readin' de matrimony "let no man put asounder" 'cause a couple would be married tonight an' tomorrow one would be taken away en be sold. All slaves wus married in dere master house, in de livin' room where slaves an' dere missus an' massa wus to witness de ceremony. Brides use to wear some of de finest dress an' if dey could afford it, have de best kind of furniture. Your master nor your missus objected to good t'ings.

I'll always 'member Clory, de washer. She wus very high-tempered. She wus a mulatta with beautiful hair she could sit on; Clory didn't take foolishness frum anybody. One day our missus gone in de laundry an' find fault with de clothes. Clory didn't do a t'ing but pick her up bodily an' throw 'er out de door. Dey had to sen' fur a doctor 'cause she pregnant an' less than two hours de baby wus bo'n. Afta dat she begged to be sold fur she didn't want to kill missus, but our master ain't nebber want to sell his slaves. But dat didn't keep Clory frum gittin' a brutal whippin'. Dey whip' 'er until dere wasn't a white spot on her body. Dat wus de worst I ebber see a human bein' got such a beatin'. I t'ought she wus goin' to die, but she got well an' didn't get any better but meaner until our master decide it wus bes' to rent her out. She willingly agree' since she wusn't 'round missus. She hated an' detest' both of them an' all de fambly.

W'en any slave wus whipped all de other slaves wus made to watch. I see women hung frum de ceilin' of buildin's an' whipped with only supin tied 'round her lower part of de body, until w'en dey wus taken down, dere wusn't breath in de body. I had some terribly bad experiences.

Yankees use to come t'rough de streets, especially de Big Market, huntin' those who want to go to de "free country" as dey call' it. Men an' women wus always missin' an' nobody could give 'count of dere disappearance. De men wus train' up North fur sojus.

De white race is so brazen. Dey come here an' run de Indians frum dere own lan', but dey couldn't make dem slaves 'cause dey wouldn't stan' for it. Indians use to git up in trees an' shoot dem with poison arrow. W'en dey couldn't make dem slaves den dey gone to Africa an' bring dere black brother an' sister. Dey say 'mong themselves, "we gwine mix dem up en make ourselves king. Dats e only way we'll git even with de Indians."

All time, night an' day, you could hear men an' women screamin' to de tip of dere voices as either ma, pa, sister, or brother wus take without any warnin' an' sell. Some time mother who had only one chile wus separated fur life. People wus always dyin' frum a broken heart.

One night a couple married an' de next mornin' de boss sell de wife. De gal ma got in in de street an' cursed de white woman fur all she could find. She said: "dat damn white, pale-face bastard sell my daughter who jus' married las' night," an' other t'ings. The white 'oman treaten' her to call de police if she didn't stop, but de collud woman said: "hit me or call de police. I redder die dan to stan' dis any longer! De police took her to de work House by de white woman orders an' what became of 'er, I never hear.

W'en de war began we wus taken to Aiken, South Ca'lina w'ere we stay' until de Yankees come t'rough. We could see balls sailin' t'rough de air w'en Sherman wus comin'. Bumbs hit trees in our yard. W'en de freedom gun wus fired, I wus on my 'nees scrubbin'. Dey tell me I wus free but I didn't b'lieve it.

In de days of slavery woman wus jus' given time 'nough to deliver dere babies. Dey deliver de baby 'bout eight in de mornin' an' twelve had too be back to work.

I wus a member of Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for 67 years. Big Zion, across de street wus my church before den an' before Old Bethel w'en I lived on de other end of town.

Sence Lincoln shook hands with his assasin who at de same time shoot him, frum dat day I stop shakin' hands, even in de church, an' you know how long dat wus. I don't b'lieve in kissin' neider fur all carry dere meannesses. De Master wus betrayed by one of his bosom frien' with a kiss.


Interview with (Mrs.) Susan Hamilton, 17 Henrietta Street, who claims to be 101 years of age. She has never been sick for twenty years and walks as though just 40. She was hired out by her master for seven dollars a month which had to be given her master.

Project #1655 Stiles M. Scruggs Columbia, S.C.


Anson Harp, eighty-seven years old, lives out in the country on Route #3. He still works on the few acres he owns, raising vegetables for himself and a few baskets to sell. He is a gray-haired, medium sized man and his geniality is frequently noticed by white and Negro friends who know him.

"I was born in Mississippi in 1850, on a big plantation dat b'long to Master Tom Harp. I can see dat big rushin' river now, 'ceptin' the mosquitoes. My daddy and mammy b'long to Master Harp and we live in a cabin 'bout a mile from the big house of my master's home.

"One day when the slaves was choppin' cotton, a strange white man come and watch us, and in a day or two me and three other chillun was called in the yard of the big house and told we goin' to git to go wid the stranger. My daddy and mammy and the other chillun's daddy and mammy all cry when we was put in a big wagon and carried 'way to somewhere.

"We gits plenty of rations on the way and when we gits to Aiken one mornin', we was told we was close to home and soon we was on the big plantation of Master James Henry Hammond. We find other boys there, too. We go to the fields and chop cotton, after we rest up. No sah, we wasn't flogged often. One time the grown men and women was choppin' two rows to our one, and a straw-boss slave twit us and call us lazy. The white overseer, who was riding by, heard him. He shake his whip at the straw-boss and tell him: 'The young niggers not yet 'spected to make a half hand and you do pretty well to 'tend to your own knittin'.

"I been there for a pretty long time befo' I really talks to my great white master, James Henry Hammond. He not at home much, and when he was home, many big white men wid him 'most every day.

"One Saturday, we always had a half holiday on Saturday, me and my friends 'bout the same age, was playin' a game on a big lot behind the barn. We quit yellin' and playin' when we see Master Hammond and three or four white men at the barn. They was lookin' at and talkin' 'bout Master Hammond's big black stallion. Master Hammond lead him out of the stall and he stand on his hind feet.

"'Well Senator,' says one big man to Master Hammond, 'I has come a long ways to see this famous hoss. It's no wonder he was s'lected as a model for the war hoss of General Jackson. I seen his statue in Washington and Nashville.'

"'And I see him in New Orleans', says another big man, in a fine black slick suit.

"'I 'clare, Governor', says the other big man, also dressed just lak he goin' to church, 'this grand stallion look today well as he did when I use him for my model'.

"Then they all pat the hoss's nose and stroke him down his mane, and the big buckra hoss steps, just lak the fine gentlemen he is, back to his stall, while all the big men wave him goodbye!

"No, I not take the name of Hammond after we free, 'cause too many of his slaves do. I kept the name of my old master and the one my daddy and mammy had. No, I never hear of them in Mississippi. Lak as not they was sold and taken far away, lak me.

"I was eleven in 1861, when the war start, 'cordin' to my count. Master Hammond was hardly ever at home no more. He, too, was angry at President Lincoln and I love my master, so I used to wonder what sort of man the President was. My Master Hammond sure did honor President Davis. I hear him say once, dat President Davis was a Chesterfield and dat the Lincoln fellow is coarse and heartless.

"In 1862 I was twelve years old, big for my age, and I do more than half as much work as any grown slave. At dat time we see many free niggers, and nearly all of them sorry lookin'. They eat off of slave families, when they could git it.

"I come to Columbia in 1865, after all the niggers everywhere am set free. I work for white folks 'bout town and when the Freedman's aid was set up, I goes 'long wid some new found friends to the aid headquarters, and was the last one to be heard. The others got bundles of food and I see one git a piece of money, too. When I got to the white man in charge, he eye me and zay: 'What damn rebel did you slave for?' I forgot 'bout what I am there for and I say: 'I never slave for no damn rebel. I work for Governor Hammond and he is the finest buckra that is.'

"Then the aid man say: 'Dat damn rebel Hammond and all lak him yet unhung, should be, and you wid him. Go let him feed and clothe you! When you come here again maybe you have 'nough sense to ask for favors decent.' I so mad, I hardly 'member just what happen, 'ceptin' I come 'way just lak I go, empty handed.

"I am now an old man, as you see, but I am happy to know dat the white folks has always been ready to help me make a livin'. I now own a patch of ground, where I makes a livin' on the shares. My boy, a son by my second wife, works it, and he takes care of me now. If I had been as big, and knowed as much at the start of the war as I did at the end of it, I would surely have gone to the front wid my white master."

Project 1885-1 FOLKLORE Spartanburg Dist. 4 May 25, 1937

Edited by: Elmer Turnage


"I was born in Fairfield County, S.C. near Broad River. I was de son of John and Harriet Harper. I worked in slavery time and was a slave of John Stanley who was a good man and easy to work with. He give me a good whipping once when I was a boy. We earned no money but had our place to sleep and something to eat and wear. We didn't have any gardens, but master had a big plantation and lots of slaves, and worked a garden himself. I remember he whipped mother once the last year of the war,—just about to get freedom.

"Master belonged to patrollers, and let dem come on the place and punish the slaves if needed. They whipped my sister once. He had a house to lock slaves in when dey was bad. He learned us to read and write. He had a school on de plantation for his niggers. After the days work was over, we frolicked, and Saturday afternoons we had off to do what we wanted. We had to go to the white folks church and set in back of de church. Corn shuckings, cotton picking and carding and quilting, the old folks had when dey had big times and big eats.

"Weddings and funerals of slaves were about like white folks. Some would go walking and singing to de grave in back of hearse or body. There was a conjurer in our neighborhood who could make you do what he wanted, sometimes he had folks killed. The Yankees marched through our place, stole cattle, and meat. We went behind dem and picked up lots dat dey dropped when dey left. When de war was over, de niggers was promised small farms but dey didn't get 'em.

"I have been preaching many years in colored Methodist churches. I have 7 children, 22 grand-children but no great-grand-children.

"I think Abraham Lincoln was a great man, and Jefferson Davis, too. Booker Washington was a grand educator for the colored race. Bishop S.D. Chappell, colored preacher of the A.M.E. church South, one time president of Allen University at Columbia, S.C. was a great colored man, too. He went to Nashville, Tenn. as secretary-treasurer of the Sunday School Union.

"I don't believe slavery was good—much better for all of us now.

"I joined the church when I was young, because I thought it right to be a member. I think everybody ought to join some church, and they ought to join early in life, when quite young."

Source: Rev. Thomas Harper (84), Newberry, S.C., interviewed by: G.L. Summer, Newberry, S.C. May 21, 1937.

Project #1555 W.W. Dixon Winnsboro, S.C.


Abe Harris lives about nine miles southwest of the town of Winnsboro, South Carolina. His home is a two-room frame house, with rock chimneys of rough masonry at each gable end. It is the property of Mr. Daniel Heyward. Abe is one-fourth white and this mixture shows in his features. He is still vigorous and capable of light manual labor.

"My father was Samuel Lyles. My mother's name was Phenie Lyles. My father and mother had fifteen chillun. I am de only one livin'. De last one to die was my brother, Stocklin, that tended to de flowers and gardens of people in Winnsboro for many years. He was found dead, one mornin', in de Fortune Park woods.

"My parents b'long to Captain Tom Lyles, in slavery time. Father was de hog man. He 'tended to de hogs; didn't pasture them as they do now. Marster had a drove of eighty or more in de fall of de year befo' hog killin' time. They run 'bout in de woods for acorns and hickory nuts and my father had to keep up wid them and bring them home. He pen them, feed them, and slop them at night.

"My white folks was de fust white settlers in de county. De fust one was name Ephram, so I hear them tell many times. They fought in all wars dat have been fought. My old marster, Tom, live up 'til de Civil War and although he couldn't walk, he equip and pay a man to go in his place. When Sherman's men come to de house, he was in bed wid a dislocated hip. They thought he was shammin', playin' 'possum, so to speak. One of de raiders, a Yankee, come wid a lighted torch and say: 'Unless you give me de silver, de gold, and de money, I'll burn you alive.' Him reply: 'I haven't many more years to live. Burn and be damned!' De Yankee was surprised at his bravery, ordered father to take de torch from under de bed and say: 'You 'bout de bravest man I ever see in South Carolina.'

"His wife, old Miss Mary, was sister to Congressman Joe Woodward. Deir house and plantation was out at Buckhead. I was a boy eleven years old and was in de house when he died, in 1874. He was de oldest person I ever saw, eighty-seven. He had several chillun. Thomas marry Eliza Peay, de baby of Col. Austin Peay, one of de rich race horse folks. Marse Boykin marry Miss Cora Dantzler of Orangeburg. Him went to de war. Then Nicholas, Austin, John, and Belton, all went to de Civil War. Austin was killed at second Bull Run. Marse Nicholas go to Alabama and become sheriff out dere. Marse John marry Miss Morris and was clerk of court here for twenty-eight years.

"One of Marse John's sons is Senator Lyles, de cotton buyer here in Winnsboro. De youngest boy, just a lad at freedom, marry Miss Cora Irby. Two of deir chillun marry Marse Jim and Marse Bill Mobley in Columbia. De youngest child, Miss Rebecca marry Marse DuBose Ellison in Winnsboro.

"First time I marry Emily Kinlock and had one child. Emily die. Then I marry Lizzie Brown. Us had six chillun. When Lizzie die, I marry a widow, Frances Young. Us too old to have chillun.

"I live at Rion, S.C. Just piddle 'round wid chickens and garden truck. I sells them to de stone cutters and de mill people of Winnsboro. I's past de age to work hard, and I'm mighty sorry dat our race was set free too soon."

PROJECT #1655 W.W. Dixon, Winnsboro, S.C.


Eli Harrison lives on a small ten-acre tract of land near Dutchman Creek, in Fairfield County, approximately seven miles southeast of Winnsboro. The house, which he owns, is a small shack or shanty constructed of scantlings and slabs. He lives in it alone and does his own cooking. He has been on the relief roll for the past three years, and ekes out a subsistence on the charity of the Longtown and Ridgeway people. He is small, wiry, and healthy, weighing about 110 pounds.

"I sure has had a time a finding you! I was up here to Winnsboro befo' dis Welfare Society, tryin' to git a pension and they ask me who know my age. I tell them a whole lot of people out of town knows it. Then they ask if anybody in town know my age. I gived in your name. They say they will take your affidavit for it and tell me to bring dis paper to you.

"I b'long, in slavery, to your step-mother's people, de Harrisons, in Longtown. You 'members comin' down when I was a young man and you was a boy? Don't you 'member us playin' in de sand in front of de old Harrison house? Dat house older than you and me. 'Member how I show you how to call de doodles from de sand? How was it? I just git down on my hands and knees in de sand and say: 'Doodle, doodle, doodle, doodle, come up your house is afire!' Them black little doodles would come right up out of de sand to see what gwine on up dere 'bove de sand. Mighty glad you keeps dat in your mem'ry, 'til dis blessed day.

"I b'long to old Marse Eli Harrison, de grandpa of your step-mother. I was born and raised on his Wateree River plantation. They called it Harrison Flats, 'til de Southern Power Company and de Dukes taken over de land, de river, de bull-frogs, de skeeters, whoop owls, and everything else down here. De Harrisons owned dat place befo' de Revolutionary War, they say. De skeeters run them out and de folks built a string of houses out of logs, all 'long de roadside and call it Longtown. Marse John D. tell me dat, and fust thing you know they was callin' it Longtown and dats what it's called today.

"Old Marse Eli is a quiet man but him have two brudders dat wasn't so quiet. They was Marse Aaron Burr Harrison and Marse John R. Harrison. All of them have race horses. I, bein' little, ride de horses in de races at de last. De tracks I ride on? One was up near Great Falls, 'tween old Marse Strother Fords and de Martin place. De other was out from Simpsons' Turn Out. De Hamptons used to have horses on dese tracks.

"My mistress name Mary. My young marsters name: Sylvester, Lundsford, David, and John D. They all dead but de old house is still dere on de roadside and I alone is live to tell de tale.

"Dere's one thing I wants to tell you 'bout old Marse John. Him was 'suaded by de Hamptons, to buy a big plantation in Mississippi. Him go out dere to raise cattle, race horses, cotton, sugar cane and niggers. When him die, after so long a time they take him out of his grave. De Harrisons done built a long, big, rock, family vault in de graveyard here to put all de dead of de family name in. Well, what you reckon? Why when dat coffin reach Ridgeway and they find it mighty heavy for just one man's body, they open it and find Marse John's body done turned to solid rock. What you think of dat? And what you think of dis? They put him in de vault in de summertime. Dat fall a side show was goin' on in Columbia, showin' a petrified man, you had to pay twenty-five cents to go in and see it. De show leave and go up North. 'Bout Christmas, de family go together to de vault, open it, and bless God dat rock body done got up and left dat vault. What you think 'bout dat? What people say? Some say one thing, some say another. Niggers all 'low, 'Marse John done rose from de dead.' White folks say: 'Somebody done stole dat body of Marse John and makin' a fortune out of it, in de side show line.'

"Well, I's told you 'nough for one day. I's impatient to git back down yonder to them white ladies wid dis paper, so as to speed up dat pension as fast as I used to speed up them race horses I use to ride on de old race track road from Simpson's to Columbia."

Project 1885-1 FOLKLORE Spartanburg Dist. 4 Sept. 20, 1937

Edited by: Elmer Turnage


"I was born July 16, 1852 at Jeter's old mill place in Santuc township. The Neal's Shoal dam now marks the site of the old Jeter mill. My family consisted of my parents and an older brother. My mother was Mandy Clark of Union township. My grandfather Clark moved to the Jeter mill and ran it for Mr. Jeter. My father, Tom Clark, was a laborer for the Jeters and old man Tom Sims up on Broad River at what was then known as Simstown. The Tom Sims and Nat Gist families owned everything in Santuc township until their lands hit the Jimmie Jeter place.

"When I was twelve, my father went to the Confederate War. He joined the Holcombe Legion of Union County and they went immediately to Charleston. They drilled near the village of Santuc in what was then called Mulligan's Old Field, now owned by Rion Jeter. This was the only mustering ground in our part of the county. The soldiers drilled once a week, and for the 'general muster, all of the companies from Sedalia and Cross Keys come there once a month. During the summer time they had what they called general drill for a week or ten days. Of course on this occasion the soldiers camped over the field in covered wagons. Some came in buggies. Slaves, called 'wait-men' cared for the stock and did the cooking and other menial duties for their masters.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse