SOURCE: Uncle Sabe Rutledge, The Ridge, Burgess, S.C., (Horry County) Born first year of the Civil War.
(He owns his house and land,——some twenty-five acres under cultivation. This is located on what appears to be a 'height of land' lying between the Waccamaw and the Atlantic. Locally it is known as 'The Sand Ridge'.)
Project 1885 -1- District #4 Spartanburg, S.C. May 31, 1937
Edited by: Martha Ritter
"I was born in Edgefield county, S.C., about 1854. I was the son of Larkin and Cheny Ryan who was the slaves of Judge Pickens Butler who lived at Edgefield Courthouse. I has some brothers and sisters, but don't remember them all. We lived in a log house with but one room. We had good beds to sleep in, and always had plenty to eat. Old Judge Butler was a good man. I was 10 years old when he died. Before then I worked in and around the house, and freedom come I stayed with the Butler family two years, then went to Dr. Maxwell's.
"In slavery time we had extra patches of ground to work for ourselves which we sometimes worked on Saturday afternoons as we had dat time off. Judge Butler used to give us a little money, too, before freedom come, for our work. We bought clothes and things we had to have. We had a big plantation garden dat the overseers planted for all on de place to eat out of.
"We used to hunt 'possums, rabbits, squirrels, wild turkeys, doves, partridges, and set traps for partridges and set box gums for rabbits. We had good food then, plenty peas, cornbread, and wild game. When winter time come we put on wool clothes and heavy shoes.
"Old Marse Butler and his mistress was good, de best folks in de country. They lived in a big house, had a girl and a boy, and over 1000 or maybe 2,000 acres of land, on several farms. One was on Saluda River. His overseers some was no good, but master wouldn't let them treat slaves cruel, just light whipping.
"We used to have to wake up at sun-up and work till sundown. We didn't learn to read and write; but we had a prayer house on de plantation where we could go to sometimes, until freedom come, then we went on to it just the same. Old man Bennefield, a nigger preacher, talked to us there. I can 'member one of de favorite songs we sung:
'Show pity, O Lord, forgive, Let e'er repentant sinner live; Are not thy mercies large and free, May not a sinner trust in Thee.'
'My crimes are great, and can't surpass,
"None of Major Pickens Butler's slaves ever went away from him, but some in de neighborhood did run away, and day never heard of dem again.
"The paderrollers would catch a nigger if he didn't have a pass. Some would pass and re-pass in the road, and maybe get catched and such scuffling would go on!
"We worked on Saturday afternoons unless boss give time off to work our own little patches or do some other work we had to do. But some would frolic then and wash up for Sunday, or set around. On Sunday we went to church and talked to neighbors. On Christmas we celebrated by having a big dinner which the master give us. We had three days holiday or sometimes a week. We had New Year's Day as a special day for working, 'cause it was a sign if we worked good dat day, we would work good all de year. The white folks had corn-shuckings and cotton pickings in slavery and after freedom, too. Den would have big supper. Some neighbors walk ten miles, like walking to church or to school. Didn't think anything of walking dat far.
"Some of de games played by children were marbles, jump-rope.
"Once an old man had his dog trained to say his prayers. The dog was fed but wouldn't be allowed to eat until he put his paws in front and bow his head on dem; de old man say to him, 'No, no, you die and go to hell if you don't say your prayers.'
"Once another fellow, a nigger, said he was going to his wife's house to see her; but he had to pass his old partner's place on de way, who was dead. When he got opposite the partner's place something, maybe a ghost, came to him and wrestled with him and wouldn't let him go on to see his wife, so he come back to his master's house and stayed.
"When the slaves got sick they had doctors, and used old herbs. 'Jerusalem Ore' was a kind of herb for children, to build them up, and there was field grass roots and herb roots which was boiled and tea drunk for fevers. And 'Primer-rhine' tea which was drunk, too. Sometimes they would hang garlic around small boys and girls necks to keep away any kind of sickness.
"We didn't have schools; started them the second year after freedom. Old General Butler give us old slaves a home each and a small patch to work.
"I married when I was 21 years old, the first time in Edgefield County, now called Saluda County. I have six children, nine grand-children, and four great-grand-children.
"I think Abe Lincoln was good man and he was Providential arrangement. I think Jeff Davis was good man, same. Booker T. Washington is good man, done lots for young niggers. I rather like it now, and not slavery time. I joined church when I was 18 to turn from evil ways and to live a better life."
SOURCE: Henry Ryan (83), Newberry, S.C.; by G. Leland Summer, Newberry, S.C.
Project 1885-1 Folklore Spartanburg, Dist. 4 Oct. 11, 1937
Edited by: Elmer Turnage
STORIES FROM EX-SLAVES
"I live in a rented three-room house with my daughter. I am too old to do much work, but I work where I can get little jobs that I can do.
"The slaves did not expect anything after Freedom, for the South was in such a bad fix. They just got jobs where they could find them. Most of them worked as share-croppers or wage hands on the farms, and have worked like this since that time. Some few have rented farms. When any moved to town they got jobs where they could.
"I never thought much about Reconstruction. Some slaves voted at first, but when Wade Hampton was elected they didn't get to vote much.
"I think the younger generation has too much freedom and doesn't stay home enough. They want to have their own way.
"Over in old Edgefield where I was raised we had plenty to eat; plenty peas, corn bread, turnips and other things. We hunted wild game, too. I was a slave of Major Pickens Butler. He was a good man and sometimes gave us a little money for our work. Our master gave us a small patch of land to work for ourselves and plant anything we wanted.
"No, I never think anything about voting. I am satisfied just to get along."
Source: Henry Ryan (N—83), Newberry, S.C. Interviewer: G.L. Summer, Newberry, S.C. 8/18/37.
Project 1885-1 FOLKLORE Spartanburg Dist. 4 May 25, 1937
Edited by: Elmer Turnage
STORIES FROM EX-SLAVES
"I am bad-sick woman, in bed and can't hardly talk and can't 'member much. I was born near Broad River in de Blair section. I belonged in slavery to de Blair family. My mudder and papa was Grace and Samuel Blair, and dey belonged to Capt. Blair. When dey was sold, I was put in de house wid a good free nigger woman to raise me and to stay 'till de war was over. Den I come to de Blair house, and helped around de house. My sisters could card, spin and weave, and I helped dem wid it. I didn't have but one dress. When it got dirty, I went down to de creek and washed it and put it against de lims to dry, but I had to put it back on before it got good dry.
"When I got old enough, I worked in de field, hoeing and picking cotton."
Source: Emoline Satterwhite (82), Newberry, S.C. Interviewer: G.L. Summer, Newberry, S.C. May 19, 1937
Project 1885-1 FOLKLORE Spartanburg, Dist. 4 Sept. 9, 1937
Edited by: Elmer Turnage
STORIES OF EX-SLAVES
"Marster Charner Scaife a-laying on his bed of death is 'bout de first thing dat stuck in my mind. I felt sorry fer everybody den. Miss Mary Rice Scaife, his wife, was mean. She died a year atter. Never felt sad nor glad den; never felt no ways out of de regular way, den.
"Overseers I recollects was, Mr. Sam Hughes, Mr. Tom Baldwin, and Mr. Whitfield Davis. Mr. Baldwin was de best to me. He had a still-house out in a field whar liquor was made. I tote it fer him. We made good corn liquor. Once a week I brung a gallon to de big house to Marster. Once I got happy off'n it, and when I got dar lots of it was gone. He had me whipped. Dat de last time I ever got happy off'n Marster's jug.
"When I was a shaver I carried water to de rooms and polished shoes fer all de white folks in de house. Sot de freshly polished shoes at de door of de bed-room. Get a nickle fer dat and dance fer joy over it. Two big gals cleaned de rooms up and I helped carry out things and take up ashes and fetch wood and build fires early every day. Marster's house had five bedrooms and a setting room. De kitchen and dining-room was in de back yard. A covered passage kept dem from getting wet when dey went to de dining-room. Marster said he had rather get cold going to eat dan to have de food get cold while it was being fetched to him. So he had de kitchen and dining-room jined, but most folks had de dining-room in de big house.
"It took a week to take de cotton boat from Chester to Columbia. Six slaves handled de flat-boat. Dere was six, as I said, de boatman, two oarsmen, two steermen and an extra man. De steermen was just behind de boatman. Dey steered wid long poles on de way up de river and paddled down de river. De two oarsmen was behind dem. Dey used to pole, too, going up, and paddling going down. Seventy-five or eighty bales was carried at a time. Dey weighed around three hundred pounds apiece. In Columbia, de wharfs was on de Congree banks. Fer de cotton, we got all kinds of supplies to carry home. De boat was loaded wid sugar and coffee coming back. On Broad River we passed by Woods Ferry, Fish Dam Ferry, Hendersons Ferry and Hendersons Island and some others, but dat is all I recollect. We unloaded at our own ferry, called Scaife Ferry.
"I split rails fer fences. On Christmas we had coffee, sugar and biscuit fer breakfast."
Source: Alexander Scaife (82), Box 104, Pacolet, S.C. Interviewer: Caldwell Sims, Union, S.C.
Project #-1655 Phoebe Faucette Hampton County
ELIZA SCANTLING EX-SLAVE
"If you wants to know about de slavery times," said old Aunt Eliza, "you'se sure come to de right person; 'cause I wuz right dere." The statement was easy to believe; for old Aunt Eliza's wrinkled face and stiff, bent form bore testimony to the fact that she had been here for many a year. As she sat one cold afternoon in December before her fire of fat lightwood knots, in her one-room cabin, she quickly went back to her childhood days. Her cabin walls and floor were filled with large cracks through which the wind came blowing in.
"I gits along pretty good. My chillun lives all around here, and my granddaughter that's a-standin' at the window dere, takes care of me. Den de government helps me out. It sure is a blessing, too—to have sech a good government! And 'Miss Maggie' good to me. She brought me dis wood. Brought it in her truck herself. Had a colored man along to handle it for her. But I so stiff I sometimes kin hardly move from me waist down. And sometimes in de morning when I wake, it is all I kin do to get up an' wash me face. But I got to do it. My granddaughter bring me my meals.
"I is 87 years old. I know 'cause I wuz so high when de war broke out. An' I plowed my January to July de year 'fore peace declare. I remember dat. I wuz a good big girl; but jes' a child—not married yet. Yes'm I plowed a mule an' a wild un at dat. Sometimes me hands get so cold I jes' cry. But dey all say I 'wuz a nigger what wuz a nigger!'
"In May peace declare. De first president of de country wuz Lincoln. He took his seat in March. But I work for de white people 'fore dat. On a Friday mornin' our Massa, Mr. Richard Davant come an' told us peace declare. He come an' told us hisself. I wuz in de cornhouse a-shuckin' corn to go to de mill on Saturday. After freedom all de niggers left 'cept my Mamma. My father brought us back here to Col. Alex Lawton's place at Robertville. He used to belong to Col. Lawton. Many years atter dat Col. Lawton moved to Savannah; but when he died dey brought him back here an' buried him at Robertville.
"My young Missus was de daughter of Mr. Sam Maner, my old Massa; so when she marry Mr. Davant I went wid her. Dey had bought a place in Screven, Georgia. Seven year 'fore peace declare we went to Georgia. On a Monday mornin' a colored man come along an' tell Miss Anna de Yankees had took Waynesboro. We all went to see it. De fire had left de place clean. Could pick up a pin behind it. Other than dat I see nothin'. I never see no house burn down. I never hear no gun fire. I jes' see de uniform, an' see 'em kill de hog an' sling 'em 'cross de saddle. Den when we come back to Robertville, we see de destruction left behind.
"After I git of size I mind de birds off de corn an' rice an' sech like. Den I'd take care of de turkeys. An' we'd sweep de yards. Carry de leaves off to de stable in a wheelbarrow.
"Both my missus wuz good to me. De last missus I own treat me jes' de same as her own child. I stayed right dere in de house wid her, an' if I wuz sick or anything she'd take care of me same as her own chillun. I nurse one of her chillun. An' dat child would rather be wid me than wid her own mother!"
Source: Elisa Scantling, Scotia, S.C. age 87 years.
Code No. 390166 Project No. 1885-(1) Prepared by Mrs. Lucile Young & H. Grady Davis Place, Florence, S.C. Date, May 25, 1937 Typed by M.C., N.Y.A.
No Words Reduced from Words Rewritten by
Ex-Slave, About 90 years old
"Where and when were you born?"
"On Gaston Gamble place, between here and Greeleville. In da Gamble's Bible is my age. Don't know my age. Pretty much know how old, I bout 90. I wuz little girl when freedom come."
"Give the names of your father and mother."
"Father, John Davis. Mother, Tina Davis. Belonged to last mausa. Darby Fulton. Gamble sold mama and three children to Fulton. Belonged to Davis after freedom. Father belonged to Davis. Take first mausa's name. Sold to Arnold Mouzon. Didn't take Mouzon name."
"Where did your father and mother come from?"
"Right where Grandma go, Gamble place."
"Did you have any brothers and sisters?"
"James and Benjamin. All ded."
"Describe the beds and where you slept."
"Had plenty slaves. I don't know exactly how many. In dem times you know, we had to get ticket to go to see dere family."
"What kind of house did you have to live in?"
"Better dan dis. Better dan dis. Good house. Sleep on wooden bed. Straw and feather mattress."
"Do you remember anything about your grandparents or any stories told you about them?"
"I ain't know my grandmother, grandfather either."
"What work did you do in slavery times."
"Didn't do no kind of work. Mother milked, tended to de butter."
"Did you ever earn any money?"
"What did you eat and how was it cooked?"
"Boil meat and put peas or greens, rice cooked dry, take up in plate and eat. One girl get done and wash dishes and put dem up."
"Did you ever eat any possums?"
"Yes, my brother catch possum and raccoon."
"Fishing in de branch."
"Did the slaves have their own gardens?"
"Yes, sir, plant big garden, no use plant, go to dere garden and get it."
"What clothes did you wear in cold weather?"
"Thick. I could weave it with stripes and put one check one way and nother strip nother way."
"In winter warm clothes and shoes. Had Sunday clothes. I had a green worsted dress."
"Did the slaves have a church on your plantation?"
"Go to white people church and sit out of doors and wait till dey come out and den we go in and have preaching."
"White or colored preacher?"
"Was your master a good man?"
"Mr. Gamble like to drink liquor but still good people. All who I talking about good people."
"What was Mr. Gamble's name?"
"Mr. Gamble name Gastron Gamble. Son living in dat big house and grandson living down dere."
"How many children did Mr. Davis have?"
"He had some not many. Mr. Gamble had some too."
"What kind of house did Mr. Gamble live in?"
"Medium size house. All had just common house, two-story."
"What about the overseer?"
"Overseer he see dat you work soon. Driver go in de field and stay 'til 12 o'clock."
"How many acres in the plantation?"
"Don't know how many acres."
"What time did the overseer wake the slaves up?"
"Wake dem up soon. Blow horn."
"Did you have to work hard?"
"Work 'til sundown."
"Did you see any slaves punished?"
"Some punished, but I ain't never see none whip. I heard stick strike de ground and tie hands and feet. Paddle on dis side and den paddle on de other side 'til sore."
"Did you ever see any slaves sold or auctioned off?"
"My mother and us sold. Mrs. Gamble died left my mama for a daily gift. She wouldn't allow dem to whip me. I ain't know when we be sell, I wuz a baby."
"Did you see slaves in chains?"
"Did the slaves have a church on your plantation?"
"Yes, de Gambles make us to go to Sunday school and learn us the Sunday school lessons. I could plow. We went to white church and set down till white people go out and de old man dat tend to de church and open up de church and say come in, can't stay outside."
"Who preached for you all?"
"My uncle, Jefferie Pendergrass, mother's brother. If colored people want preacher preach, he go in dere and made de children be quiet and preach a nice sermon and have watch night but not in de church."
"Do you know any spirituals?"
"I forgets dem things. I use to be good singer but I ain't got no teeth. I ain't been looking fer dis. If you hadn't come, I'd been gone."
"Where would you have gone?"
"Just to walk about. All gone to de field and de children so bad."
"Tell about baptizing."
"Baptized by de white people."
"Did the slaves run away to the North?"
"I ain't know 'bout dat."
"What about patrollers?"
"No patarollers. Have to get ticket, whip dem if dey didn't get it. Colored people do more than white people allow. Caused dem to whip dem. My sister, my sister-in-law and girl went and tell dem dey gwine have play in white kitchen. Mr. Sam Fulton boss wouldn't go to war. My sister, sister-in-law run up in de loft and tell dem come down and dey come down and jump off de window and land in de mud hole wid dere best dress on. Mr. Fulton let dem have it in de quarters."
"Did you hear of any trouble between the master and the slaves?"
"My grandmother went off and wouldn't come back. She write that she get everyday what she could get fer Sunday."
"Did you work on Saturday evenings?"
"Some of de white people made dem work on Saturday evening. I had a uncle when white people come by going to church he hoeing his rice. Dey didn't want him work on Sunday. Miss Elizabeth Gamble tell dem he gwine to chop his rice on Sunday."
"What did you do on Sunday?"
"Go to church."
"I don't remember what dey give on Christmas day. My family got clothes."
"What did you do at a wedding or funeral among the slaves?"
"Just say got a wife, ain't married. If anybody ded everything stop."
"What games did you play as a child?"
"I don't know what all I played."
"Do you know any funny stories?"
"No, sir, I used to tell my grands things."
"Did you ever see any ghosts?"
"I ain't believe in it, but I see dem. Jest pass by and dey want bother you. Don't know where dey come from. Dey look like people."
"You don't believe in them?"
"No, sir, but I know one thing, dey say fox gwine mad. Say cat gwine mad but dat ain't so. I ain't scared of nothing."
"You are not scared at night?"
"When de moon shining. Moon ain't shine might fall and cripple. When we holler voice way back dere."
"When the slaves became sick, who tended to them?"
"White people tended to dem. Use medicine."
"Do you make medicine out of herbs?"
"No, sir, don't make it."
"Did you ever see anybody wear a ten-cent piece around the ankle?"
"I see dem wear it, but I ain't know what fer."
"What do you remember about the war that brought you freedom?"
"I know just as good when peace declared. Gun rolled in dat direction. Must be guns. Cook say roll thunder roll and I say de sun shine it ain't gwine rain. I wuz too little to know but my sister say every man and every woman got to work for demselves."
"What did your master say?"
"I ain't know what master say, he single man and didn't talk much."
"Did you stay with him the year after freedom?"
"No, he didn't treat my mother right."
"Any schools for Negroes?"
"Pretty good time before schools."
"Did the slaves buy any land?"
"No land bought."
"Do you remember your wedding?"
"I member jest as good 'bout my wedding. I married on Thursday night. Some white people from Kingstree and different ones come and pile it up and when I get all dem presents some one stick fire and burn it all down."
"Whom did you marry?"
"Do you have any children?"
"One gone in de field and dis one."
"What are they doing?"
"Working on farms. Jane got killed in de wreck."
"Who is Jane?"
"My daughter. She wuz coming to see me. Train wreck and kill her coming from Norfolk."
"How long ago was that?"
"'Bout two years ago."
"What do you think of Abraham Lincoln?"
"I see picture of dem. Picture in dere of Lincoln."
"Now that slavery time is ended, what do you think of it?"
"I believe colored people do better in de slavery than now."
"Do you belong to the church?"
"Yes, Promise Land Baptist church."
"Why do you think people ought to go to church?"
"To have some protection and when you go in a church dat is a place for you to be taken care of. Dey ain't got no religion."
"Was the overseer 'poor white trash?'"
"I could hear de people talk 'bout him. Some like him and some don't. If I got a wife over yonder, I got to get ticket before I could go to see her. Had to work hard too."
"Let us see the picture of Lincoln."
"Dis is it." (Granddaughter shows us Aunt Mary's picture)
"Is that the one?"
"Yea, I think so."
"Let me see, dat ain't de one. Here is." (Aunt Mary showed us a picture which looked to be taken from some New York newspaper. It was probably a screen star).
"Who told you that was Lincoln?"
"Some preacher or somebody come here and tell me."
Project 1885-1 FOLKLORE Spartanburg—Dist. 4 May 18, 1937
Edited by: Elmer Turnage
STORIES FROM EX-SLAVES
"Aunt" Nina Scot sat on her front porch. She was drinking some liquid from a bottle which she said would help her trouble. Being short of breath, she was not able to talk very much. She said that she was very small at the time she was set free. "My Marster and his folks did not treat me like a nigger," she said, "they treated me like they did other white folks." She said that she and her mother had belonged to Dr. Shipp, who taught at Wofford College, that they had come here from Chapel Hill, N.C. and that she was a tarheel negro. She said that white people in slavery days had two nurses, one for the small children and one for the older ones. "Yes sir, those were certainly fine people that lived on the Campus during those days. (Wofford Col. Campus) When the 'raid' came on, people were hiding things all about their places." She referred to the Yankee soldiers who came to Spartanburg after the close of the Civil War. "My mother hid the turkeys and told me where she had hidden them." Dr. Shipp came up to Nina one day and asked her where the turkeys were hidden. She told him they were hidden behind a clump of small trees, and pointed them out to him. "Well," he said, "tell your mother to go and hide them somewhere else and not to tell you about it. You would tell the Yankees just where those turkeys were hidden." Aunt Nina recalls that Mr. and Mrs. Dr. Duncan (formerly of Wofford College) had a habit of getting a slice of bread and butter for all the neighboring children (black or white) whenever their nurses brought them to their home.
SOURCE: "Aunt" Nina Scott, 260 N. Converse St., Spartanburg, S.C. Interviewer: F.S. DuPre, Spartanburg Office, Dist. 4 (May 17, 1937)
Project 1885-1 FOLKLORE Spartanburg Dist. 4 May 25, 1937
Edited by: Elmer Turnage
STORIES OF EX-SLAVES
"I was born in Newberry County, near the Laurens County line, above Chappells Depot. My father and mother were Tom and Francis Scurry and belonged as slaves to the Drury Scurry family. Dr. Drury Scurry bought them from Col. Cooper of Laurens County. He was a fine man and mighty good to his slaves. I worked around the house as a boy, and in the fields when I got old enough. Some of the nigger boys hunted 'possums, rabbits and squirrels. Dr. Scurry had 100 acres in woods. They were just full of squirrels and we killed more squirrels than you can count.
"The slaves didn't have a garden, but after the war, we stayed on wid Marse Scurry. When freedom come, he come to us in the yard where we had congregated and told us we was free and could go anywhere we wanted, but if any wanted to stay on wid him, he would pay wages. All of us stayed on wid him. He give us a one-acre patch of ground to raise anything we wanted to raise. He had white overseers during slavery, but none ever whipped us 'cause the master wouldn't let them. He had a plantation of about 300 acres and 40 or 50 slaves. They got up at sun-up and worked 'till sun-down each day, but had Saturday afternoons off when dey could do anything dey wanted to.
"There wasn't much time for learning to read and write. The white folks sometimes had niggers to go to their church and set in the back of gallery. In our neighborhood, niggers had their own church dat they made of poles and brush, and called it, 'Brush Harbor'. They made seats from small logs sawed off of rough plank.
"On Christmas day, the master would have a big dinner for his slaves and spread it out in the yard. Corn shuckings were popular and so were cotton pickings, where big eats were prepared for those who helped. They had big feasts at marriages, and even the slaves had feasts at their marriages, the master and his family taking part in the ceremonies. I was married in 1887, and at that time I was living with Mr. Renwick, and my girl with Dr. Tom Brown. Dr. Brown had us to marry in his yard in the grove, and over 200 persons was there to see it. The next day, he give us a big 'infair' with all kinds of good things to eat, presents and dances. We never had any children. After we moved to town, my wife was a nurse or midwife among some of the white families for a long time.
"In Ku Klux times, I met five or ten of them in the road one night. They never bothered me. They had long white sheets over them and the horses. Slits were cut for the head, eyes, nose and mouth.
"The niggers had an old field song: 'Give me dat good ole time religion' which they sang most of the time. There was another song they sang: 'Dark midnight is my cry—Give me Jesus, You may have all this world, but give me Jesus.'
"Some old-time cures for the sick was—barks of cherry tree, dogwood, and olive bush, made into tea and drunk.
"I thought Abe Lincoln was a fine man, done mighty good and saved the country. Jeff Davis was a good man. Booker Washington was a great man. I think slavery was bad; yet our white folks was good to us, but some white masters was mean. I think everybody should belong to the church and be a Christian."
SOURCE: Morgan Scurry (78), Newberry, S.C.; interviewed by: G.L. Summer. Newberry, S.C. May 19, 1937.
S-260-264-N Project #935 Hattie Mobley Richland County South Carolina
Uncle Ransom Simmons
Richland County, South Carolina.
Uncle Ransom is one of the few remaining slaves who still lives and whose mind is still clear and active. He has just passed his one-hundred and fourth birthday, was born in Mississippi, and brought to South Carolina by his master Wade Hampton, the father of the illustrious General Wade Hampton, before the Civil War.
When the war broke out and General Wade Hampton went to war Uncle Ransom cried to be allowed to follow his young master. He went and served as a body guard. Uncle Ransom learned to read the Bible while attending a night school held for slaves before freedom, and it was only in recent years that he was taught to write his name.
This old man lives alone in a shack at Taylor, a little village on the outskirts of Columbia. He is furnished with all the milk and ice cream he can eat by the Columbia Dairy. He purchases a little food with the state pension of twenty-five dollars a year paid to Negroes who served the Confederacy in some military capacity.
Uncle Ransom says his master was the kindest man in the world, and that as far as he is concerned, he has never had a worry in his life, and as he said this, his face radiated with a broad and satisfied smile.
Reference: Personal interview with Ransom Simmons age 104.
Project #1655 Stiles M. Scruggs Columbia, S.C.
EX-SLAVE 100 YEARS OLD.
Alfred Sligh, who lives in a rented house at 1317 Gregg Street, says he was born in Newberry County, South Carolina, in 1837. His hair is white and he is feeble. He goes about the city, on fair days, collecting small sums of money from his white friends and sometimes from his own race. In this way he earns most of his income.
"My folks was slaves of the Sligh family for many years, befo' I was born. My mammy and daddy and me b'long to Butler Sligh, at de time I begin to do chores and take notice of things. I be nearly half grown when my young master, Butler Sligh, am just four years old. He die, four or five years ago. I guess you 'member, 'cause he was a powerful well-known white man. He was seventy-five years old when he die.
"De young master, he name for my old master. De old master and 'most all de white men of de neighborhood, 'round 'bout us, march off to de war in 1861. One day I see them ridin' down de big road on many hosses and they wavin' deir hats and singin': 'We gwine to hang Abe Lincoln on a sour apple tree!' and they in fine spirits. My young master, Butler, who they call Junior at de time, he am too young to go with them so we stay home and farm. I go with him to de fields and he tell de slaves what to do. Durin' de war I see much of de soldiers who say they not quit fightin' 'til all de damn-Yankees am dead. Dis was so, durin' de first two years. After dat I see more and more of de damn-Yankees, as they pass through 'flictin' punishment on 'most everybody.
"Sho' we hear dat all Negroes am free in 1863, but dat rumor not affect us. We work on, 'til Sherman come and burn and slash his way through de state in de spring of 1865. I just reckon I 'member dat freedom to de end of my life.
"We gang up at my grandmother's cabin and she tell us it am so. We look scared, lak mules in de midst of a hornet nest, as we stood dere. We didn't wait long, for old Mistress Sligh she come 'long and say: 'Sho' it am so, you am free.' Many of de slaves, 'cludin' me, tell her we love to stay on and work as usual 'til de big white folks come. She smile and say: 'All right, maybe we be able to feed and clothe you, and when your old master git back from Virginia, maybe he will hire you!'
"When I first marry, which was at de start of de war, I marry Sarah, a slave gal on de Sligh plantation. We has several chillun, befo' she die, which was soon after we move to Columbia. De chillun, at least two boys and two gals, all git grown, but they go North a long time ago, and I never hears from them.
"When I come to Columbia in 1866, I find work on houses, and building was plentiful then. I git 'long pretty well, then, 'cause if I did not land a job, I could go to de Freedman's Aid Office at Assembly and Gervais streets and git rations and a little cash for my family. After de Freedman's Aid left town I had no trouble findin' work. And soon I was pretty prosperous. I kept that way, so long as I was able to do my share of de work.
"It was in 1913, as I was walkin' 'long Hampton Street, dat I see my present wife, Sadie. She pass by me, and smile and look and I smile and look, and she slow up a little and say: 'What's happen, big boy?' I am so tickled, I say: 'I just have to tell you:
'De rose am red, De violet's blue, No knife can cut My love in two.'
"She say; 'Pretty good, big boy, pretty good! Come 'round and see me sometime.' I answer: 'I sho' will, Peaches and Cream'. And dat am just what I did. We got married dat same year, and we have been happy, 'til I git too old and feeble to work much. She work now to de best of her ability and we somtimes has a big squeeze to pay de rent. Dat is why I'm hopin' to get de old age pension, made possible by de greatest President of them all.
"Does I recall de 'sassination of de first President dat died dat way? Yes sir, I sho' do. De first one was Abraham Lincoln, a little after de close of de war. He was shot while sittin' in a seat in de theater at Washington. James A. Garfield, was de nex' one. He was shot in de depot, at Washington. De nex' one was McKinley. He was shot while at a show place, in Buffalo."
Project #1655 W.W. Dixon, Winnsboro, S.C.
EX-SLAVE 75 YEARS.
Dan Smith lives in one room, rent free, of a three-room frame house, the property of his son-in-law, Jim Cason. It is situated on the southeast corner of Garden and Palmer streets in the town of Winnsboro, S.C. He is tall, thin and toothless, with watery eyes and a pained expression of weariness on his face. He is slow and deliberate in movements. He still works, and has just finished a day's work mixing mortar in the construction of a brick store building for Mr. Lauderdale. His boss says: 'The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.' There is nothing organically wrong with Dan but he appears, in human anatomy, as Doctor Holmes's One Horse Shay must have looked the day before its final collapse.
"You been here once befo' and now here you is again. You say you wanna git additions? Well, I's told you dat I was born in Richland County, a slave of Marse John Lever and on his plantation, January de 11th day, 1862, when de war was gwine on. How I know? 'Cause my mammy and pappy told me so. They call my pappy Bob and my mammy Mary. Strange as it seem, my mistress name Mary, just de same as my mammy, tho' marster wasn't name Bob, lak pappy. Him name Marster John and de young marster, an only child, was name Marse Jim. You better stop right dere 'til I tell you pappy no b'long to de Levers. Him b'long to de Smiths. Him name Bob Smith, after freedom. Dat's how come I be dis day, Dan Smith. You ketch de p'int? Well dats de way it was.
"Befo' pappy take a shine to mammy in slavery time, her got mixed up wid one of old Marse Burrell Cook's niggers and had a boy baby. He was as black as long-leaf pine tar. Her name him George Washington Cook but all him git called by, was Wash Cook. My full brudders was Jim, Wesley, and Joe. All of them dead and gone long ago.
"Us chillun slept on de floor. Mammy had some kind of 'traption or other, 'ginst de wall of de log house us live in, for her and de baby child to git in at night. Us have plenty to eat, sich as: peas, 'tatoes, corn bread, 'lasses, buttermilk, turnips, collards and fat meat.
"De only thing I 'member 'bout my mistress is: One day her come down to de house and see my brudder Joe sucking his thumb. Mammy tell her, her can't make him quit it. Mistress go back to de big house and come runnin' back with quinine. Her rub Joe's thumbs wid dat quinine and tell mammy to do dat once or twice a day. You ought to see dat baby's face de first time and heard him squall! It sho' stopped him sucking his thumbs!
"Clothes? Didn't need no clothes in de summer time but a shirt. In de winter, us just stood 'bout de fire. I'm talkin' 'bout us chillun, don't 'member 'bout old folks.
"Master and Mistress lived in a big white house, two stories high, tall brick chimneys at de gable ends, and wide front and back piazzas de full length of de dwelling. Us chillun had no shoes. Mammy had two pair all de time but they had wooden bottoms. Dere was no white overseers 'round, but patarollers (patrollers) ketched my pappy once, in de house, jerk him out and whup him, while mammy and us chillun yell and cry and beg them to stop.
"When de Yankees come, mammy hide us chillun under her bed 'traption. They act mighty nice to her, so she say.
"What kinda work mammy do? Her was one of de weavers. Heard her tell 'bout how they make de thread and de cloth. They had spinnin' wheels. Person turn de wheel wid de hand and walk back'ards and for'ards, drawing out de thread. Dis kind of thread, her say, was rough. Later they got a thing de spinners operate wid deir foots, settin' by de wheel and workin' it wid deir foots, sorta lak a sewing machine is run. Her 'low de thread dat come to her in de weave-room from dis kind of spinnin' was smoother and more finer than de other kind. After de yarn was spin, it was reeled off de spools into hanks and then took to de warper. Then she woofed it, warped it, and loomed it into cloth. Her make four yards in a day.
"After freedom, pappy come and take mammy and all us chillun to a farm on Cedar Creek, in dis county, Fairfield. I works dere 'til 1872, I thinks. I gits concerned 'bout dis time wid two things, jinin' wid de Lord, and jinin' wid de woman. De fust was easy. All I had to do was go to de Methodis' revival, shout a little, and jine up befo' de preacher. I just had to be convicted and convinced, but mind you, I was de one to be convinced, de other was not so easy. De Lord was easy to find and quick to take me, but de gal was hard to find and was slow to take me, 'cause she was de one to be convinced dis time, you see.
"I looks all 'round Cedar Creek. De ones I could git, I wouldn't have, and de ones I would have I couldn't git. So dere it was. I mounts old Betsy, dat was pappy's mule, one Sunday and come to Winnsboro. I spied a gal at church, 'bout de color of a ripe pumpkin after de big frosts done fall on it, hair black as a crow and meshed up and crinkled as a cucker burr. Just lookin' at her made my mouth water. Me and old Betsy raise de dust and keep de road hot from Cedar Creek to Winnsboro dat summer and fall, and when us sell de last bale of cotton, I buys me a suit of clothes, a new hat, a pair of boots, a new shirt, bottle Hoyt's cologne and rigs myself out and goes 'round and ask her to marry me. Her name Ida Benjamin. Did her fall for me right away? Did her take me on fust profession and confession lak de Lord did? No sir-ree bob! Her say: 'I got to go to school some more, I's too young. Got to see papa and mama 'bout it. Wait 'til you come nex' time and I'll tell you.' I was confused then, I gits up, gives her de cologne bottle, and mounts old Betsy, spurs her in de side, gallops, and cusses all de way back to Cedar Creek. I confess to mammy. Her laugh and say: 'Dan, you knows nothin' 'bout women and gals. Why it's mighty plain she gonna say yes, nex' time.' Just lak her say, Ida did, and us got married de end of de nex' school term, in May.
"Us had ten chillun. Dan, name for me, is at Concord, N.C. Oscar is in Concord, N.C. Lucinda marry a Haltiwanger and is comfortable in Baltimore, Md. Aurelia marry a Williams and is in Baltimore. Henrietta marry a Sawney and is in Charlotte, N.C. Lilly marry Jim Cason and live right in Winnsboro, in de house I have a room in.
"I got lots of gran'childs, too many to mention, They take after dere grandma, lak to go to school and read de Bible and go to church and Sunday School.
"Whut I have on my mind now is a pension. When a man git seventy-five years old, (I hear folks talk 'round me) dat man should not be 'lowed to work on de Supreme Court, him should be give a pension of $15,000.00 and made to stop work. Him may have chillun dat can support him, all de same, dat jedge gits his pension. Then in de name of goodness, why don't they make me quit mixing mortar when I is seventy-five years old and give me $240.00 a year? Sauce for de fat goose Supreme Court Jedge, oughta be sauce for de mortar mixer poor gander, I 'low. It look lak jestice for de rich jedge and mix more mortar for poor Dan."
Code No. Project, 1885-(1) Prepared by Annie Ruth Davis Place, Marion, S.C. Date, July 22, 1937
No. Words Reduced fromwords Rewritten by
Ex-Slave, 79 Years
"I born down here in Wahee Neck. Easter Avant, dat was my mammy en my father name Hector Smith. Coase I ain' never see him cause he die fore I was born, but dat what dey tell me. Dat was a pretty rough time wid de people den. I don' recollect so much bout de times back dere cause in dat day en time chillun didn' have de heap of knowledge dey have dis day en time, but I remembers seein de Yankees en de people gwine to de war. Oh, dat was a tough time cause dey use de whip in dem days. Oh, yes'um, my Massa whip my gran'mammy wid a leather strap. You see she had a knack of gwine off for some cause or another en meetin de boat what run up en down dat big Pee Dee river en bring fertilizer en all kind of goods to de peoples. Massa Randall had told her not to go nowhe' bout dat boat, but some people is sorta high strung like en dey go off anyhow no matter bout de whip. Oh, yes'um, he sho whip her like he didn' have no soul to save."
"I couldn' tell you nothin bout how many slaves Massa Randall Davis had, but I know dat he had a right smart of them. I know it cause he had so many field hands dey didn' none of em never have to work every day in de field. Oh, dey just knock bout our Massa house en see after de stock en such things as dat what time dey didn' have to work in de field."
"You knows when a thing happen so long back dere, it does vanish from a person's remembrance some of de time en den it'll wander back to you when you ain' thinkin bout it. I does recollect dat dere wasn' nothin much more for de colored peoples in dat day en time den what dey got to eat en de clothes dey had to wear. My Massa give everyone of he colored family a peck of meal en a quart of syrup en so much of meat every week en 'low em all to have a garden of dey own. Oh, dey work dey garden by de moonshine en fore light good in de mornin cause dey had to turn dey hand to dey Massa work when daylight come here. I tellin you corn bread was sweet to me in dat day en time as pound cake ever been. Wasn' never noways pickin' en choosin bout nothin. Oh, I forget bout all dem possums en rabbits dat eat right smart in dem days. Use to catch em when dey had swells of de water en dey come out de woods to hunt dry land. It just like dis, dey couldn' conceal demselves in de open fields en dat how-come we catch em so easy. Run em down wid de dogs en make em take to de water. Dat how we catch em. Dat sho was sweet eatin in dem days."
"Den we had a log house to stay in what never had but just one room en de furniture we had was worser den de house. Us beds was made wid four stumps for de corners dat had boards lay cross em to put de mattress on. Some of de colored peoples had bag mattress stuff wid hay en de others had homespun mattress what was stuff wid dis here gray moss you see in de woods. En I remembers all bout when de peoples had to cook in de fireplace cause dere wasn' much stoves in circulation in dat day en time."
"Well, I don' know so much bout dem things peoples call ghost, but I know dat I has seen things. I knows once long time back I was gwine long de road late on a evenin drivin me ox what I had hitch up to de cart en a ghost or somethin or another cause dat cart wheel to go right in de ditch. Well, de ox, he pull en he pull, but wid all me help, he couldn' never pull dat cart out. I ax some of dem people bout dere what dey reckon dat was en dey say all dey know to compare it to was a hant or a ghost. No 'mam, didn' see it, just hear it cause it come right to my back en knocked. It had been rainin en soon as it quit, de moon shine out bright as ever was day en dat when de hant turn de cart loose."
"De next thing I see was one time when me en another fellow was sleepin in de swamp. I couldn' tell whe' de moon rise den en when I come to my senses, dere was one of dem things just a danglin in de air like dese things show people have. Some people say dat was a ghost."
"Oh, de peoples didn' never worry bout no doctor den. Dey doctor was in de field in dat day en time. I gwine tell you just like I know it, all de older peoples use to get de herbs out de old fields for dey remedies. My Massa en my Missus was de ones what doctor mostly in dem times. Use to get old field ringdom, what smell like dis here mint, en boil dat en let it steep. Dat what was good to sweat a fever en cold out you. Den dere was life everlastin tea dat was good for a bad cold en cherry bark what would make de blood so bitter no fever never couldn' stand it. Dem what had de rheumatism had to take dat lion's tongue or what some peoples calls wintergreen tea en some of de time, dey take pine top en mix wid de herbs to make a complete cure. Oh, dey make it bad as dey could so as to weaken de case. Another thing dat been good for de rheumatism was dat red oak bark dat dey use to bathe de limbs wid. Willow tea was somethin good for chill en fever en catnip en sage tea was de thing for babies."
"It like I tell you de colored peoples never get no learnin but what little dey catch from de plantation men in dem night schools. Oh, dey give everyone of us a slate en slate pencil en we study dere in de quarter in de night time by de light of de fire. Studied dem Blue Back Websters. Dat was de text we know bout den."
"I tell you de truth I live so much in darkness den dat I think dat time was bout good as dis time. Didn' know no better sense den. I tell you just like I been know it, de peoples was coward like in dem days. Couldn' never pluck up no ambition to do a heap of things de people do dis day en time. Dat how-come I rather live in dis go round."
Source: Hector Smith, ex-slave, age 79, Wahee section of Marion Co., S.C. Personal interview, July 1937.
Code No. 390144 Project, 1885-(1) Prepared by Annie Ruth Davis Place, Marion, S.C. Date, July 14, 1937
No. Words Reduced fromwords Rewritten by
Ex-Slave, 79 years
"I studied en studied what songs would suit, but dem old familiar hymns bout all I know dese days. You see dem old familiar hymns what de spirit sings. It just like I tell you, I put all dem other kind of songs away when I is change to a better way of livin. I does remember first one en den de other of dem frolicksome song dat my grandparents learnt me."
NOBODY BUSINESS BUT MINE
I. Rabbit in de hollow, I ain' got no dog, How can I catch em? I do know! I do know! O Me! O Mine! Sorry dat if I leave my home, I gwine to my shack Wid de chicken on my back, Nobody business but mine.
(Continued on next page.)
II. Rabbit in de hollow, Ain' got no dog, How can he catch em? I do know! I do know! O Me! O Mine! Let every nigger have his way, Gwine to his shack Wid he chicken on his back, Nobody business but his.
Source: Hector Smith, ex-slave, 79 years., Wahee section of Marion Co., S.C. Personal interview, July 1937.
Code No. Project, 1885-(1) Prepared by Annie Ruth Davis Place, Marion, S.C. Date, July 14, 1937
No. Words7 Reduced fromwords Rewritten by
WAY DOWN IN DE LONESOME VALLEY
I. De mockin birds a singin so sweetly, So sweetly, so sweetly. De mockin birds a singin so sweetly, So sweetly, so sweetly. Way down in de lonesome valley.
II. Dey tell you one thing en dey mean another, Mean another, mean another. Dey tell you one thing en dey mean another, Mean another, mean another. Way down in de lonesome valley.
III. Some say, what make de young girls so deceivin? So deceivin, so deceivin? Some say, what make de young girls so deceivin? So deceivin, so deceivin? Way down in de lonesome valley.
"Dat go way back dere. De peoples didn' have nothin more den a mouth organ to make music wid in dem times."
Source: Hector Smith, age 79, ex-slave., Wahee section of Marion Co., S.C. Personal interview, July 1937.
Code No. Project, 1885-(1) Prepared by Annie Ruth Davis Place, Marion, S.C. Date, July 14, 1937
No. Words8 Reduced fromwords Rewritten by
HOLD DE DEAL
I. Kitty, Kitty died O—O, Kitty had a man. Rather kiss a monkey, Den to kiss a nigger man. Hold de deal! Hold de deal! I'm gwine to get drunk again.
II. Nigger on de horseback, Thought he was de king. Come along alligator, En let de nigger in. Hold de deal! Hold de deal! I'm gwine to get drunk again.
Source: Hector Smith, age 79, ex-slave, Wahee section of Marion Co., S.C. Personal interview, July 1937.
Code No. Project, 1885-(1) Prepared by Annie Ruth Davis Place, Marion, S.C. Date, July 14, 1937
No. Words9 Reduced fromwords Rewritten by
ex-Slave, 79 years.
"I use to holler a heap in late years but after I lay it down, all dat leave me."
Bulldogs a barkin, Howl! Howl! Bulldogs a barkin, Howl! Howl! Bulldogs a barkin, Howl! Howl! Ah—oodle—oodle—ou, Ah—oodle—oodle—ou, Ah—ou—ah—ou, Ah—oodle—ou, Ah—ou—ah—ou, Ah—oodle—oodle—ou.
Source: Hector Smith, 79 years, ex-slave, Wahee section of Marion Co., S.C. Personal interview, July 1937.
Project 1885-(1) Folk Lore Spartanburg, S.C. District No. 4 May 28, 1937.
Edited by: R.V. Williams
STORIES OF EX-SLAVES
"Aunt" Jane Smith, 80 years old, says that she was only eight years old when the war ended, and that her recollections are very meagre as to conditions during slavery.
Her mother belonged to John Snoddy, who owned a farm a few miles west of Spartanburg. Her father was owned by Dr. Miller of a nearby plantation. She stated that she was old enought to rock the cradle for the white babies during slavery.
She stated that she could remember seeing some of the slaves being whipped on their bare backs with a plaited hickory stick, or thong. She never received any whippings. She said that a man once cut at her with his thong, but that she escaped the blow by dodging.
She said she remembered seeing a small child with a piece of bread in its hand when a hog entered the house and in snatching at the bread, caught the child's hand near the thumb with its tusks. When running off, the hog carried the child with it, dragging it along into the field. All the other children and some men ran after the hog and caught it. The other colored children were whipped, but by staying in the house and watching the babies, keeping them safe from other pigs which had also entered the house, she was not whipped.
Aunt Jane said that when the Yankee soldiers came to the house, they were just as thick as the "fingers on her hands." She held up her hands for inspection to illustrate how thick the soldiers stood in the ranks. She said they did not take anything, but that they crawled under the house to get the hen eggs. One soldier, she said, came to the house and asked if there were any horses on the farm. A colored woman told him that there were no horses on the place, but just at that time, one of the horses in a nearby stable neighed, and the soldier threatened the woman's life for lying to him. She says she doesn't remember whether the soldier took the horses but thinks that he did.
The soldiers told the colored people that they free, but she said that didn't signify much to her mind. Some time afterwards, she said her father came and carried her and her mother to his master's place. Later, she came to Spartanburg and got a job as a cook and washerwoman.
When asked if she knew anything about conjuring, she stated that she had heard of it but didn't know anything about it. When asked if she had ever seen a ghost, she said, "No, but I heard one once." She said that one night after her master had killed "hisself" in the barn with a pistol, she heard the doors being shut, the windows being slammed, and the chairs rocking on the front porch all by themselves. She declared that the wind was not blowing and that a "ghost was doing all dem things."
She stated that she had been married twice; had reared a houseful of children; had adopted some and reared them, but that she didn't have anybody to work for her now but "him," referring to her husband who was sitting on a trunk.
"Thank the Lord for coming to see me," she said, as the writer left.
SOURCE: Jane Smith, Concord St., Spartanburg, S.C. Interviewer: F.S. DuPre
Project 1885-1 Folklore Spartanburg, Dist. 4 Nov. 9, 1937
Edited by: Elmer Turnage
STORIES FROM EX-SLAVES
"I liked to went crazy when my brother, Bob, went to Arkansas. Den Marse George Young wrote our names in a book and give it to my ma. It was jes' a small mem'randum book. We kept it till Miss Addie, dat is Mrs. Billy, give ma de Bible storybook, and den she copied our names in dat one. De little book was about wore out den; so it was burned up when Miss Addie had done finished writing our names in de storybook. Us gwine to keep dat book and hand it down atter we done left dis earth. Ma been dead now over fifty years.
"I sho nu'sed Marse George's chilluns fer him, when I was a little gal. Jimmie, Willie, Conquest, Jack, Katie and Annie was Marse's chilluns. Conquest dead now. Marse George had a great big house. He was a jes'tice of de peace or something or 'nother den. I don't know what year my ma died, but Marse had her buried at New Chapel. Dat same year we raised a big crop of corn, cotton and peanuts, and had plenty hogs. Marse let us have all we wanted. He let us hang our meat in his smokehouse dat year.
"Befo' ma died and I was a little gal, a terrible thing happened to us. Across de Enoree on another place, de Miller place, Fannie Miller run away. Dey couldn't find her fer a long time. Dey told my marster to git her. One Sunday my ma got ready to dress me fer Sunday school. She bathed me and when she looked in de drawer she couldn't find my clothes. All of her clothes was gone, too. I cried 'cause I couldn't go to Sunday school. Maude, de woman what lived next to us, went to church. She saw Fannie dar wid all ma's clothes on. She told Marse about it and he sont out and had Fannie caught. She had come to our house and got de clothes on Saturday evening. She had dem hid in a old house on our place. Dey put her in jail, and den her marster come and whupped her and sont de clothes back to ma. She never tried to run off agin.
"Jack Gist, a slave of Gov. Gist, run away once and lived in a cave fer five months befo' de white folks found him. He went down on 'de forest' and dug a cave near de road in sight of de Harris Bridge which still spans de Fairforest Creek at dat p'int. De cave wasn't dug on Governor Gist's land, but on a place know'd den as de old Jackson place. In de mid hours of night Jack come to see his friends and dey give him things to eat. When dey got him he had a hog, two geese, some chickens and two middles of meat. Cose de hog and de middles was stole.
"One night he was crossing de Fairforest Creek on a foot-log and he met Anderson Gist, one of de Governor's slaves. Dey talked fer awhile. Next morning, Anderson come wid his marster to de cave whar Jack was. Dey took all his things on to de big house, and he was whupped and put back to work. Governor Gist and our marster was good to deir slaves and dey didn't punish 'em hard like some of 'em did. We had lots more den dan we has had ever since.
"I never went to de field till atter freedom come. Dey wasn't hard on us in de fields and I liked to work. We worked mostly from sun-up till it was too dark to work. Marster's youngest girl, Mary Jane Young, married Mr. Dave Lane. Dey didn't have a wedding.
"My grandpa was a African and he talked real funny. He was low, chunky, fat and real black. He went around a lot befo' he died. He was de father of my mother, Clora. Granny, his wife, was called 'Fender' and she died de first year of freedom. She was sold and lived on a neighboring plantation. We went to see her every Saturday. Ma would always take us to see her, and if we didn't git to go, she come to see us. We liked to go, and Marse always give us a pass. De patrollers watch us like a hawk, but we had our passes and we told dem if dey bothered us our marster would handle 'em. He would, too, 'cause dat was 'de law'. Granny Fender was good looking. She wore purty beads, earrings and bracelets, and wrapped her head up in a red cloth. Her eyes and teeth flashed and she was always jolly. Sometimes we stay all night, but most de time we come back home. When she come to see us she always stay all night. All de old folks had real religion den, and it kept 'em happy. Folks now are too fancy fer religion and it ain't real. I has real religion and nothing don't worry me. I feels happy all de time over it.
"My marster give my mother de spot of ground and de lumber fer our church which was named New Chapel. De second church is on de same spot. De first preaching was had under a oak tree, or arbor. Uncle Tony Murphy was de first preacher. He was my favorite of all de preachers. Marse read de Bible to us, but sometimes others read it to us, too. His son, Bud, dat was killed in de first battle, used to come to de quarters and read de Bible to us.
"Alex Hall was de minister dat immersed us all. We was all Methodists, but out dar dey baptized everybody in de Fairforest no matter what church dey went to. Dar was fifty people baptized de day dat I was. Milly Bethane made me a big white robe to be baptized in. When I got out I had a white dress to put on. Dey had a tent fer us to go in to change our clothes. We was baptized in de Fairforest jes' above de Harris Bridge. Everybody sung while we was going under de water. Some of 'em shouted, too. It took de earthquake to shake religion in my husband. He was Emanuel Gist, de first one.
"Dat night, de people was hollering and woke me up. My husband called me. 'What dat?' he 'low. 'I don't know,' I says. He got up and run out. Soon he come back home and he was shaking all over. He fell on de bed. When de chimney started to fall, I told him to git up. He said he was too scared to git up. I pulled him up and he was so scared dat he shook all over. I opened de door. He was too scared to stand up. Next day he couldn't work; so he went off. I looked fer him till way in de night. When he did come home, he was rejoicing. He was wid religion and he never give it up. Dat was on de night of de earthquake. You could hear people hollering fer miles around."
Source: Mary Smith (N, 84), Buffalo St., Union, S.C. Interviewer: Caldwell Sims, Union, S.C. (9/14/37)
S-260-264-N Project: #1885 Augustus Ladson Charleston, S.C.
EXPERIENCES OF AN EX-SLAVE ON WARDMALAW ISLAND
Massa Wus Kind to Slaves
Prince Smith, a man who is said to be over a hundred years of age, has lived on Wardmalaw Island practically all of his life. His experiences during slavery are very interesting and true to life. An interview with him revealed the following:
"I was bo'n an' raise' on dis island and was only frum here when de Civil War had begun. W'en Fort Sumter wus fired on mossa carried seventy of us to Greenville, South Ca'lina on account of its montanous sections, which was believed would have prevented the Yankees invasion in regard to their hide-out." We stayed een Greenville nearly four years. Durin' dat time mossa planted his fa'm an' we wurk as if we wus right here.
"The Yankees had gunboats," he continued, "but dey didn' help dem atoll fur dey couldn' make any a'tack dat dis place is so unsuited fur water battles. But forest' battles wus fight on Beaufort Island and Port Royale. We een Greenville didn' know enyt'ing 'bout whut wus goin' on except what wus brought to us collud people by dose who wus sent to da town. Mossa didn' tell us eny ting. Fur almos' four 'ears we stayed een Greenville w'en suddenly one Chuesday mornin' bright an' early, Sheridan came into Greenville on horse backs en' order ebery body to sarrendar. Colonels an' Gen'rals came een de city widout de firin' of a gun. We stayed dere 'til harvestin' time by de orders of Master Osland Bailey who saw to it dat we wus given money as a share fur our wurk.
"Mossa's custom at de end of de week wus to give a dry peck o' corn which you had to grin' on Sat'day ebenin' w'en his wurk wus done. Only on Chris'mus he killed en give a piece o' meat. De driber did de distribution o' de ration. All young men wus given four quarts o' corn a week, while de grown men wus given six quarts. All of us could plant as much lan' as we wuld fur our own use. We could raise fowls. My master wus a gentleman, he treat all his slaves good. My fadder an' me wus his favorite.
"Some o' de slaves had to wurk on Sunday to finish dere week's wurk. If dey didn' de dribber who wus a Negro would give a lashin' varyin' frum fifteen to twenty five chops. Only high-class massas had Negro dribbters, de crackers had white overseers.
"Like odder slaves had to hide frum dere mastas to hab meetin', us could hab ours any night we want to even widout his consent. When masta went to town any o' his slaves could ax him to buy t'ings for dem een Cha'leston. When Jews en peddlers came with clothes an' gunger to sell, we as chillun would go to him an' ax fur money to buy whut we want.
"He had about four hund'ed acres of land which he divided in two half by a fence. One 'ear he would plant one an' let de cattles pasture on de oder. We could also raise hogs 'long wood his but had to change pasture w'en he did. De people on his plantation didn' hab any need to steal from him fur he didn' 'low us to want fur any thing.
"Dere wus three kinds of days wurk on de plantation: One is de whole tas', meanin' a whole han' or a person een his prime. He wus given two tas' fur dis day's wurk. A tas' carried frum twenty four to twenty five rows which wus thirty-five feet long en twenty five feet wide. De shree fourth han' wus given one whole tas' which consists of twelve rows. All de young chillun wus included in dis group. De half han' was de old slaves who did a half tas' for dere day's work. When it was time to pick cotton, de shree fourth han' had to pick thirty pound' an' de half han' twenty fur dere day's wurk. Dose who attended to the gin only include de three fourth han'.
"Massa had shree kinds o' punishment fur dose who disobeyed him. One wus de sweatbox. It wus made de height of de person an' no larger. Jus' large 'nough so de person woodn' hab to be squeezed in. De box is nailed an' een summer is put een de hot sun; een de winter it is put in de coldest, dampest place. De next is de Stock. Wood is nailed on floor with de person lyin' on his back wid hans an' feet tied wood a heavy weight on de chest. De shird is de Bilboa. You are place on a high scaffold fur so many hours an' if you don' try to keep a level head, you'll fall an you will surely hurt yourself if your neck isn't broken. Most o' de time dey were put dere so dey could break dere necks."
Information from an interview with Mr. Prince Smith, who is supposed to be over a hundred years of age, Wardmalaw Island, S.C.
Project 1885-1 Folklore Spartanburg, Dist. 4 Nov. 29, 1937
Edited by: Elmer Turnage
STORIES FROM EX-SLAVES
"Lawsey, honey chile, how does I know jes' when I was born. All sech as dat don't mean nothing to us old slave time darkies. De mis'tus say, 'Silas, you sho was thirteen years old when dat 'Federate War wound up! Dat's all I knows and dat's what I goes by. De white folks is worrying 'bout my age being in sech and sech a year and all de like of dat. No sech as dat don't worry Silas, kaise he sho don't give it no mind, dat I doesn't.
"Mis'tus call us all to set down on de side steps wid our hats in our hands. She read dat paper. When she git through, us still sets, kaise no writing never aggrevated us niggers way back dar. She wait a few minutes; den she 'low: 'It means dat you all is free, jes' as free as I is.' 'Dumpling Pie' jumped up and started crying. We all looked at him, kaise he was a fat lazy thing dat laid around like dumplings a-laying over kraut, and we axed him what he was crying for. He say, 'I ain't gwine to be no free nigger, kaise dat brings in de Issue, and I wants to keep my ma and pa, and what is I'm gwine to do widout Marse Dusey?'
"Dat woke us up. Didn't narry nigger on dat entire plantation know what to do widout his marster. It was de awfulest feeling dat everything in dem quarters laid down wid dat night, de new feeling dat day was free and never had no marster to tell dem what to do. You felt jes' like you had done strayed off a-fishing and got lost. It sho won't no fun to be free, kaise we never had nothing.
"Next morning Mis'tus low, 'Silas, I wants you to keep on being my house boy.' Dat sound de best to me of any news dat I had got. She hired me and I jes' kept on den as I had been gwine befo'. De quarters broke up, kaise Marse Dusey couldn't keep all dem niggers, so Mis'tus low'd. Marse was at de war and Mis'tus took things on.
"Dat left only a few in de quarter. In de meantime, carpetbaggers and scalawags had put devilment in some of dem ig'nant niggers and dey thought dat if dey leave, de U.S. gwine to give dem a plantation atter de war had ceased, and plenty mules to make dem rich, like quality white folks. So by dat time dey was a-raring to git moved off. But I stay on wid Miss Sallie, as I called her den.
"One dark, rainy cold day a stranger come riding up on a po' hoss and fetched a note of sorrow. Marse Dusey had done died somewhars, and Mis'tus was widowed to de ground. I stayed on, and in a year she died. Mr. Thomas Smith of Hickory Grove is de onliest chile living of my mis'tus, and he is 71 years old.
"Atter Mis'tus died, I went to live wid my pa on Mr. 'Baby' John Smith's place. He had been my pa's marster. Way back den it was so many John Smiths. 'Pears like it was mo' den dan now. Dat why dey call Mis'tus' husband 'John Dusey'. Each John had a frill to his name so dat folks could keep dem straight in deir minds whenever dey would speak of dem. Mis'tus sho was good to me. I 'members her chilluns' names well; Misses Aurita and Amenta. Miss Amenta married Mr. Sam Jeffries. Miss Rachael, Mis'tus other daughter, married Mr. John Morrow. Her 'Baby' John married a lady whose name I jes' disremembers, anyway dey had a son called 'Jeff'. He lived between Hickory Grove and Broad River. All dese Smiths which I gives you renumeration of is de Hickory Grove Smiths. You jes' has to keep dem straight yet."
Source: Silas Smith (N, 85), Gaffney, S.C. Interviewer: Caldwell Sims, Union, S.C. (11/27/37)
Code No. Project, 1885-(1) Prepared by Annie Ruth Davis Place, Marion, S.C. Date, May 17, 1937
No. Words Reduced from words Rewritten by
MOM JESSIE SPARROW
Ex-Slave, 83 years.
"Honey, my white folks been well-to-do peoples. Dey ain' been no poor white trash. Dey hab 'stonishing blood in dey vein. I been b'long to Massa Sam Stevenson wha' lib right down dere 'cross Ole Smith Swamp. Dey ain' hab no chillun dey own, but dey is raise uh poor white girl dere, Betty. Dey gi'e (give) she eve'yt'ing she ha'e en dey school she too."
"De ole man, he mind ain' been zactly right when he die. Dey say he bury some o' he money down dere on he place jes 'fore he die. Coase I dunno nuthin 'bout it, but dats wha' dey tell me. Dey say dey never is find dat money a'ter he been dead. Reckon it dere yet, I dunno. Peoples use'er aw de time be plough up kegs en box full o' money en va'uables wha' de well-to-do folks been hide dere."
"De white peoples use'er bury dey silver en dey money en aw dey va'uables late on uh evenin' er early on uh mornin' when de Yankees come 'bout. De Yankees 'stroy aw us white peoples va'uables wha' dey is see. Um——dem Yankees sho' was 'structive whey dey is went."
"My ole mammy been Sally Stevenson 'fore she marry en den she wuz Sally Bowens. My ole Missus take she 'way from her mammy when she wuz jes uh little small girl en never wouldn't 'low her go in de colored settlement no more. She been raise up in de white folks house to be de house girl. Never didn't work none tall outside. She sleep on uh pallet right down by de Missus bed. She sleep dere so she kin keep de Missus kivver (cover) up aw t'rough de night. My mammy ain' never do nuthin but been de house girl. My Missus larnt (learned) she how to cut en sew so she been good uh seamstress is dere wuz anywhey. She help de Missus make aw de plantation clothes en dere ain' never been no better washer en ironer no whey den my ole mammy wuz."
"When I wuz uh little small girl, us lib right dere in my ole Missus yard. Dey le' us chillun play aw us wanna den. Never did hadder do none hard work tall. My Massa is some uh time send we chillun in de field to scare de crow offen de corn. Ain' never been no hoe hand in me life. When dey send we to scare de crow 'way, we is go in de field when fuss (first) sun up en we is stay dere aw day. Coase we is come to de house when 12 o'clock come en ge' we sumptin uh eat. Dese white folks 'round here don' hab no chillun to scare de crow offen dey corn nowadays. Dey has aw kind o' ole stick sot (set) 'bout in de field wid ole pant en coat flying 'bout on dem to scare de crow 'way. Dere be plenty crow 'bout nowadays too. I hears em hollerin aw 'bout in dis sky 'round 'bout here."
"I 'member when I use'er nu'se de white folks baby. I al'ays did lub to nu'se de babies, but I didn't never lub to nu'se no ug'y baby. I lub to hab uh pretty baby to nu'se. Didn't lak no boy baby neither. Don' lak boy baby nohow. Lubbed little girl baby. Lubbed to take de little girls en dress em up in dey pretty clothes en carry dem out under de trees to 'muse dem whey dere wuz plenty peoples 'bout to see em. Mammy al'ays 'ud fuss at me 'bout puttin' on dey best clothes, but I ain' never do lak dese nu'se do nowadays. I take care o' my babies, didn't never 'low em wallow in de dirt lak yunnah see dese nu'se do 'bout here dese day en time."
"I 'members one time I been nu'se little boy baby en I is larnt he hair to curl jes uz pretty. I bresh he hair eve'y morning en twist it 'round me finger en he is had pretty curl uz dere wuz anywhey. Never lak de Missus to cut my baby hair off neither when I had larnt it to curl."
"I been lub to wash little baby clothes too. I is primp em up so nice. Never did put no starch much in em. I do me best on em en when I ge' t'rough, dey been look too nice to le' de child muss up."
"Honey, I can' stand no chillun fuss 'round me no more dese days. Don' hab no chillun fuss 'round me peaceful little place. I tell aw me chillun en grandchillun en great-grandchillun dat I can' stand no chillun fuss 'round me no more. My Sammie, he marry three times en I ax him why he wanna marry so many time. I ain' never see no man I is wan' since my ole man die."
"I ain' wha' I use'er to be, child. I ain' able to do nuthin more now but dem little bit o' clothes wha' Miss Betty hab. Coase she clothes ain' hard to wash. Miss Betty mighty clean, honey, she mighty clean. She don' strip she bed but eve'y udder week en den de sheet ain' dirty one speck. She does wash she self eve'y day en de sheet don' ge' de crease out dem from one time dey wash till de next. I say I gwinna wash Miss Betty clothes jes uz long uz de Massa'll le' me em."
Source: Personal interview with Mom Jessie Sparrow, age 83, colored, Marion, S.C., May 1937.
Code No. Project, 1885-(1) Prepared by Annie Ruth Davis Place, Marion, S.C. Date. May 24, 1937
MOM JESSIE SPARROW
Ex-Slave, 83 years.
"I dunno, child, I don' 'member nuthin more den I tell yuh de udder time. Is yuh been to see Maggie Black yet? I dunno how old she, but I know she been here. No, child, Maggie ain' dead. She lib right down dere next Bethel Church. She move 'way from Miss Mullins house when Gus die. Coase I ain' ne'er been in she house a'ter she move dere, but dey say she hab uh mighty restful place dere. Dat wha' dey tell me. Maggie oughta could tell yuh aw 'bout dem times. I ain' know nuthin more to tell yuh. Don' tell yuh aw I know."
"Who my mammy wuz? My mammy been Sallie Stevenson 'fore she marry en den a'ter she marry, she waz Sallie Bowens. Don' know whey dey ge' de Bowens from cause my pa been b'long to be uh Evans. Dat how come Miss Betty know so much 'bout me. She say we mighty nigh de same age. Coase I don' never 'spute Miss Betty word, but I don' t'ink so."
"No, child, I dunno. Dunno how many chillun my mammy is hab. Dey aw been die sech uh long time dat I don' forgot. Coase George, de carpenter, my brother. He been train up by uh good carpenter man en Henry, wha' paint aw dese house 'bout here, b'long to be annuder one uv we. It jes lak 'bout my own chillun, I ain' 'member how many dey wuz. I know dere 'bout t'ree uv dem bigguns dead, but aw dem babies, Lawd, I ain' 'member how many dere wuz. Can' never recollect nuthin 'bout how many dere been come here."
"My mammy been de house girl in my white folks house. She marry when she ain' but 13 year old. Dat wha' she tell me. She say she marry to ge' outer de big house. Dat how come she to marry so soon. Say de white folks take she way from she mammy when she won' but uh little small girl en make she sleep right dere on uh pallet in de Missus room aw de time 'fore she marry. Coase a'ter she marry, she been de house girl right on but she never stay in de Missus house when night come. Us chillun ain' been 'low to stay in de big house. Dey hab uh room put on de kitchen fa my mammy en she family to lib in. We chillun stay right dere in de yard whey my mammy could look a'ter us in en 'round. My mammy hadder stay 'bout my ole Missus aw de day en help she cut en sew de plantation clothes en wash en iron. Den she hadder help make quilts outer aw de scrap dat been left o'er a'ter de garment was cut out."
"Us chillun been fed from de table right dere in de Missus kitchen en some uv de time my mammy 'ud bring us sumptin to eat, wha' wuz cook in de Missus kitchen, en le' us eat it in she room. Dey'ud gi'e us hominy en milk en meat fa us break'ast. My white folks hadder uh lot uv cows en dey'ud gi'e us chillun plenty milk en clabber to eat. We is hab milk en clabber eve'y day en dey is gi'e us plenty meat to eat, so dey is dat. Child, I ain' know no slack eatin' 'round my ole Missus. Some uv de time we hab hoecake en den annuder time dey'ud gi'e us obben (oven) bread. Dey cook eve'yt'ing on de fireplace in dem days, eve't'ing. Jes hab rods put 'cross de fireplace in de kitchen wid pot hang on it. Dat whey dey cook us ration. Dey'ud gi'e us t'ings lak peas en collards en meat fa we dinner. Den dey'ud gi'e us uh big bowl uv corn bread en clabber late in de evenin' cause jes lak I is call to yuh jes now, dey is use milk right smart in dem days. I lak eve'yt'ing wha' dey is hab to eat den. Dey never eat lak dese peoples eats nowadays. I won' larnt to lak aw kind uv t'ing. Dey use'er cook poke salad wha' been season wid meat. Don' yuh know wha' dat? Poke salad is come up jes lak dose weed out dere en dey is cut de top offen dem en take aw de hard part outer em en den dey is boil em uh long time wid meat. Dey is eat right good too. Don' lak spinach en aw dat sumptin en don' lak celery neither. Don' lak butter put in nuthin I eats. I laks me squash fried down brown lak wid grease in de pan. I laks me beets wid uh little vinegay on em en season wid some sugar sprinkle on em. Don' lak em jes wid nuthin but uh little salt en butter smear aw o'er dem lak some uv dese peoples 'bout here eat em nowadays."
"Yas'um, we use'er eat plenty uv em possum. Eve'y one dey is ketch, us parent cook it. Us eat aw kinder wild animal den sech uz coon, possum, rabbit, squirrel en aw dat. Hab plenty uv fish in dem days too. Hab pond right next de white folks house en is ketch aw de fish dere dat we is wan'. Some uv de time dey'ud fry em en den some uv de time dey'ud make uh stew. Dey'ud put uh little salt en onion en grease in de stew en anyt'ing dey been ge' hold uv."
"Massa Sam been hab uh heap uv colored peoples 'sides we, but dey lib up on de hill in de quarters. My Missus, she see to it she self dat dey hab good bed wha' to sleep on en plenty sumptin uh eat. She docker (doctor) em when dey ge' sick too en she be mighty anxious ef dey sick mucha. Us hab good clothes en shoes den too. Coase de peoples'ud wear more clothes den, en dey'ud put on more undey shirt in de winter den dey wear in de summer. My white folks'ud make de plantation clothes outer gingham en jeanes cloth mostly. Dat jeanes cloth be wha' dey make little coat en pant outer. Dat sumptin jes lak homespun."
"No, child, dey ain' ne'er gi'e us no money den. Never need no money den. My Massa been provide eve't'ing us hab, honey, eve'yt'ing. We ain' lak fa nuthin den. We chillun ain' been big 'nough to do nuthin but scare de crow offen de corn en some uv de time my ole Missus'ud hab we chillun sweepin' outer in de yard when she be out dere wid us."
"Yas'um, honey, my white folks al'ays'ud see dat dey colored peoples'ud go to chu'ch (church) eve'y Sunday. We hadder walk dere to de white big Methodist Chu'ch up de road en sot en de gallery. Yas'um de white folks is stay down en we is go up. Ef we chillun never go, my ole Missus'ud teach us de catechism right dere in de back yard. Hadder wash us face en hand en come dere to she. Yas'um, I 'members dat aw right."
"My white folks'ud ride to chu'ch in dey big ole carriage en dey driver'ud hab dey big black hosses bresh jes uz shiny. I forge' de driver name. Dey hab uh pair uv dem black hosses wha' been match hosses en dey is look jes lak. En den one day de ole Yankees is come t'rough dere en dey is carry one uv dem 'way. A'ter dat dey hadder use one uv de plantation hoss in de place uv dis carriage hoss. De Missus'ud al'ays take my mammy in de carriage wid she too. Never left her home, so she tell me. Jes stuff she down dere 'tween de seats somewhey."
Source: Mom Jessie Sparrow, age 83, colored, Marion, S.C. Personal interview, May 1937.
Code No. Project No. 1885-(1) Prepared by Annie Ruth Davis Place, Marion, S.C. Date, September 7, 1937
MOM JESSIE SPARROW
Ex-Slave, 83 Years
"No, honey, dere ain' not a soul live here but me. Man stay in dat other room dere just to be a little bit of company for me when night come. He ain' not a speck of kin to me, not a speck. Oh, he pay me a little somethin, but it not much. Mostly, I does want him for protection like. Ain' got but just dis one room for myself cause dat part out dere does be just like out in de yard. Dis Miss Mary Watson house en she tell me stay on here dat de house ain' worth no fixin. Don' know how long I be here. No, honey, I ain' got no property only just myself. Ain' got not a bit. Ain' got nothin, child. I can' do no work dese days but dat little bit of washin dat Miss Betty have en dat ain' nothin to depend on. Just try to do a little somethin to help myself along. Nothin worth to speak bout though."
"Miss Betty say we bout one age. My daddy belonged to Miss Betty father en dat how-come she know dere ain' much difference in us age. My mammy was de house 'oman on old man Sam Stevenson plantation en dat whe' I was born. When we was freed, I was a little small girl en my daddy moved us up here in town right over dere on de Gibson place. Fore den, when he have a mind to see us, he had to come cross de swamp dere to old man Sam Stevenson place en dat de reason he move us. He say it take too much pains to keep dat gwine back en forth. I remembers I finished growin right up here in dis town over dere on de Gibson place. My mammy have task to cook dere en my daddy been de butler man, but I was small den. Can' recollect much bout it. Reckon I wouldn' hardly know de place whe' I was born if I go back dere now. De old man Sam Stevenson had nice house, but it burn down long time back. Dey tell me dat de first court de peoples in Marion did ever know bout meet right dere on dat same spot. Coase I don' know nothin bout it, but dat what I hear dem say."
"My Massa had a big plantation, honey, a big plantation wid heap of colored people house. I remember dey call up dat way from de house on de hill en all de servants house set up dere. So I hear my mammy say she know bout some white folks dat didn' half feed dey colored people en didn' half clothe dem in de winter neither, but our white folks always treat us mighty good. Put shoes on all us feet in de winter en give us abundance of ration all de time."
"Honey, I hear dem talkin bout dat war, but I can' tell you nothin bout dat. I recollects I see dem Yankees when dey come through my Massa plantation en took his best carriage horse. Had two of dem big black carriage horses dat was match horses en dem Yankees carry one of dem away wid dem. I hear dem say de white folks would bury dey silver en money in pots en barrels to hide dem from de Yankees. Oh, dem fiddlin Yankees ax nobody nothin. Just go in de house en take dat what dey wanted. Go right in de house en plunder round en take de peoples best things. Wouldn' take no common things. Wasn' right, but dey done it. I hear talk dat a man plowed up a chest or somethin another de other day full of money, so dey tells me. I hear plenty peoples plow up all kind of things dese days in old fields dat ain' been broke up or throwed out for years. I hear so, but I know I ain' never found none though."
"I sho been here when dat shake come here, child. I been married ever since I was a grown 'oman en I was stayin right over yonder in dat house dere. My son Henry was de baby on me lap den en he tell me de other day dat he was bout 50 now. It come like a wind right from dat way. Some people tell me de ground was just a shakin en a mixin up, but I don' know how de ground was doin cause I never go on it. I hear de lumberation comin or dat what I calls it en it come long en hit de side of de house so hard dat all de dishes was just a rattlin. Every time de earth commence shakin, dem dish start jinglin. It come bout de early part of de night. I didn' know what to think it was till somebody come dere en say it been a earthquake. Say de ground was just a workin up. I tell you I ain' know what it was to be scared of, but dere been de old Ark (boarding house) standin cross de street den en dem people was scared most to death. Dey thought it was de Jedgment comin on. Reckon I would been scared worser den I was, but I didn' get on de ground. No, honey, I reckon de house dat was standin up in dat day en time was substantial like en it didn' worry none of dem."
"Is you seen Maggie Black any more? She been right sick, but she better now. Yes, she been right puny. Don' know what ail her."
"Honey, what can you tell me bout dat white man dat been shoot up bout Mullins de other day. I hear people talk bout a man been shot by another man, but I ain' know nothin more den dat. Ain' hear none of de details only as dey tell me dey catch de man dat got away next Dillon tryin to get back home. I tell you it a bad place up dere in Mullins durin dis tobacco time. Dey tell me dere be such a stir up dat people be rob en shoot all bout dere. Dat de reason I stay back here whe' ain' nobody to worry me. Some of dem be seekin for you when you sleep en den another time dey get you when you gwine long de road. I don' like so much fuss en rousin en mix up round me. Dat de reason I does stay here by myself."
"De people just livin too fast dis day en time, honey. You know some of dese people, I mean my race, dey got a little bit of education en ain' got no manners. I tell dem if dey ain' got no manners, dey ain' got nothin cause manners carries people whe' a dollar won' carry you. Dis education don' do everybody no good. It get some of dem standin on de top of dey heads. Dat what it done to dem. Coase dey say everybody chillun got to go to school dis year en dat a good thing cause dere be so many runnin round makin mischief when dey ain' in school. I used to tell my chillun I buy dey book en satchel en keep plenty meat en bread for dem to eat en dey portion been to go dere en get dey learnin. If dey get whippin at school, I tell dem go back en get more. Didn' never entice dem to stay home."
"All I know bout Abraham Lincoln was dat he Abraham Lincoln en he de one cause freedom. I recollect dey used to sing song bout him, but I done forget it now. Say dey hung Abraham Lincoln on de sour apple tree or old Jeff Davis or somethin like dat. Honey, dat all I know. Can' recollect nothin more den dat bout it."
"Child, dis a pretty bad time de people got dese days, I tell you. Coase I thankful don' nobody worry me. All treats me nice, both white en black, what knows me. I be gwine down de street en folks come out de courthouse en say, 'Ain dat Mom Jessie? Mom Jessie, don' you remember me?' I say, 'I know your favor, but I can' call your name.' Dey tell me en laugh en let me lone. It just like dis, child, I puts my trust in de Lord en I lives mighty peaceful like. I ain' got a enemy in de world cause everybody speaks appreciatively of me. Dere somebody bringin me somethin to eat all de time en I don' be studyin bout it neither. First one en den de other bring me a plate en somethin another. Don' want me to do no cookin. Say I might fall in de fire. Honey, de lady come by here de other day en tell me I gwine get de old 'oman money pretty soon now dat dere been so much talk bout. I be thankful when it get here too, child, cause I wants to get first one thing en de other to do some fixin up bout my house."
"Well, honey, I tired now cause I ain' much today nohow. Can' recollect nothin else dis mornin. Don' know what you want to hear bout all dem things for nohow."
Source: Mom Jessie Sparrow, age 83, ex-slave, Bond Street, Marion, S.C.—Third Report.
Personal interview by Annie Ruth Davis, Sept., 1937.
Code No. Project, 1885-(1) Prepared by Annie Ruth Davis Place, Marion, S.C. Date, December 7, 1937
MOM JESSIE SPARROW
Ex-Slave, 83 Years
"No, I ain' cold. I settin in de sun. Miss Ida, she went by here just now en call at me bout de door been open en lettin dat cold wind blow in on my back wid all de fire gone out. I tell her, it ain' botherin me none, I been settin out in de sun. Well, I don' feel much to speak bout, child, but I knockin round somehow. Miss Ida, she bring me dis paper to study on. She does always be bringin me de Star cause she know dat I love to see de news of Marion. It right sad bout de Presbyterian preacher, but everybody got to die, I say. Right sad though. We hear dat church bell here de other evenin en we never know what it been tollin for. I holler over dere to Maggie house en ax her how-come de church bell tollin, but she couldn' tell me nothin bout it. Reckon some chillun had get hold of it, she say. I tell her, dat bell never been pull by no chillun cause I been hear death note in it. Yes, honey, de people sho gwine horne (grieve) after Dr. Holladay."
"I say, I doin very well myself en I thankful I ain' down in de bed. Mighty thankful I ain' down in de bed en can set up en talk wid de people when dey comes to see me. I ain' been up dere on your street in a long time. Can' do much walkin dese days cause I ain' got no strength to speak bout. Ain' been up town dere in bout two months. Mr. Jervey ax John Evans what de matter dat I ain' been comin to de store to get my rations en John Evans tell him I been under de weather. Somehow another, dey all likes me up dere en when dey don' see me up town on Saturday, dey be axin bout me. Mr. Jervey, he come here de other day en bring me some tobacco en syrup en cheese en some of dem other things what he know dat I used to buy dere. He tell me dey all was wantin to see me back up dere again. I say, I can' go up dere cause I give way in my limbs en just comes right down whe' I don' have nothin to catch to. Got dis old stick here dat I balances myself on when I goes out round bout de house here. Cose I don' venture to steady myself no far ways on it."
"No, child, I ain' been up your way in a long time. I wash for Miss Betty all my best days, but I ain' been up to de house in many a mornin. Miss Betty like myself now, she old. I tell dem up dere to de house, de last time I talk wid dem, don' mind Miss Betty cause her mind ain' no good. I say, just gwine on en do what you got to do en let Miss Betty rest. You see, Miss Betty always would have her way en dis ain' no time to think bout breakin her neither. Cose I don' know nothin bout it, but Miss Betty say we bout one age."
"I reckon Miss Betty got plenty pecans dis year cause she does rake dem up by de tubfuls bout dis time of de year. I got my share of dem last year, but I ain' got no mind dat I gwine get any dis year less I go up dere. Yes, mam, I got my share last year cause when I went to carry Miss Betty washin home, I could pick up all I wanted while I come through under de trees. My Lord, Miss Betty, she had a quantity of dem last year, but I ain' hear what de crop doin dis year. I don' care though cause I wouldn' eat dem nohow widout I beat dem up en I ain' in no shape to go to all dat trouble. I loves peanuts good as anybody, but I couldn' never chew dem widout dey was beat up."
"Honey, my child en her daughter comin from de northern states dis Christmas to see me. Her name Evelyn, but dey call her Missie. She write here dat she want to come en I tell my Sammie to send word dey is welcome. Cose dey gwine stay wid my son, Sammie, cause dey got more room den I is en dey got a cookin stove, too, but she gwine be in en out here wid her old mammy off en on. Yes'um, I wants to see her mighty bad since it be dat she been gone from here so long. When she first went up dere, she worked for a white family dere to Hartford, Connecticut, but it won' long fore she got in a fidget to marry en she moved dere to Philadelphia. Dat whe' she livin now, so my Sammie tell me."
"Den dere another one of my chillun dat I say, I don' never 'spect to see no more on dis side of de world. Evelina, she get married en go way out west to live. She de one what used to nurse Lala up dere to Miss Owens' house. My God, honey, she been crazy bout Lala. Don' care what she been buy on a Saturday evenin, she would save some of it till Monday to carry to dat child. My Evelina, she always would eat en she used to bring Lala here wid her a heap of times to get somethin to eat. She would come in en fetch her dat tin plate up dere full of corn bread en molasses en den she would go to puttin dem ration way. Would put her own mouth full en den she would cram some of it down Lala's mouth in de child's belly. You see, I always would keep a nice kind of syrup in de safe cause I don' like none dese kind of syrup much, but dis here ribbon cane syrup. My Lord, dat child would stand up dere en eat just as long as Evelina poke it down her. Oh, Lala been just a little thing plunderin bout en I tell Evelina dat she ought not to feed dat child dem coarse ration, but she say, 'Lala want some en I gwine give it to her cause I loves her.' No, child, Miss Owens never didn' worry her mind bout whe' Evelina been carry dat child. You see, she been put trust in Evelina."
"I don' know what to tell you, honey. I bout like Miss Betty now. My 'membrance short dese days. Oh, I hear talk bout all kind of signs de people used to worry over en some of dem still frets bout dem, too. Hear talk dat you mustn't wash none on de New Years' Day. It bad luck, so a heap of dem say. Den some folks say it a sign of death to hear a owl holler at night. Some people can' bear to hear dem, but don' no owls worry me, I say. Lord, Maggie, dis child ax me how a owl holler when it a sign of death. Well, dey does holler a right good space apart. Don' holler right regular. I ain' hear one holler now in a long time, but I used to hear dem be hollerin plenty times out dere somewhe' another in dem trees. Say, when some people been hear dem holler on a night, dey would stick a fire iron in de fire en dat would make de owl quit off. I hear talk bout a lot of people would do dat. Den dere another sign de people does have bout de New Years' Day. Reckon dat what dey call it, I don' know. No, mam, I don' understand nothin bout it, but I does hear people speak bout dey craves to get a cup of peas en a hunk of hog jowl on de first day of de year. Say, dem what put faith in dem kind of victuals on de New Years' Day, dey won' suffer for nothin no time all de next year. Cose I don' know, but I say dat I eats it cause I loves it."
"Well, child, dat bout all I know to speak bout dis evenin. It gettin so cold, I don' know whe' I can manage here much longer or no. Cose my Sammie, he want me to go stay dere wid him, but I can' stand no chillun fuss round me no more. I tell him dese people bout here be in en out to ax bout me right smart en I think bout I better stay here whe' dere ain' nobody to mind what I do. You see, honey, old people is troublesome en I don' want to be noways burdensome to nobody. Yes, mam, I gwine be right here waitin, if de Lord say so, de next time I see you makin up dat path."
Source: Mom Jessie Sparrow, age 83, colored, Marion, S.C. Personal interview by Annie R. Davis, Dec., 1937.
Code No. Project, 1885-(1) Prepared by Annie Ruth Davis Place, Marion, S.C. Date, October 11, 1937