Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States
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All de slaves hate de Yankees an' when de southern soldiers comed by late in de night all de niggers got out of de bed an' holdin' torches high dey march behin' de soldiers, all of dem singin', 'We'll Hang Abe Lincoln on de Sour Apple Tree.' Yes mam, dey wuz sorry dat dey wuz free, an' dey ain't got no reason to be glad, case dey wuz happier den dan now.

I'se hyard mammy tell 'bout how de niggers would sing as dey picked de cotton, but yo' ain't hyard none uv dat now. Den dey ain't had to worry 'bout nothin'; now dey has ter study so much dat dey ain't happy nuff ter sing no mo'.

"Does yo' know de cause of de war?" Aunt Alice went to a cupboard and returned holding out a book. "Well hyar's de cause, dis Uncle Tom's Cabin wuz de cause of it all; an' its' de biggest lie what ever been gived ter de public."

N. C. District: No. 2 [320157] Worker: Mary A. Hicks No. Words: 341 Subject: WHEN THE YANKEES CAME Story Teller: John Beckwith Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: No Date Stamp]


An Interview with John Beckwith 83, of Cary.

I reckon dat I wuz 'bout nine years old at de surrender, but we warn't happy an' we stayed on dar till my parents died. My pappy wuz named Green an' my mammy wuz named Molly, an' we belonged ter Mr. Joe Edwards, Mr. Marion Gully, an' Mr. Hilliard Beckwith, as de missus married all of 'em. Dar wuz twenty-one other slaves, an' we got beat ever' onct in a while.

When dey told us dat de Yankees wuz comin' we wuz also told dat iffen we didn't behave dat we'd be shot; an' we believed it. We would'uv behaved anyhow, case we had good plank houses, good food, an' shoes. We had Saturday an' Sunday off an' we wuz happy.

De missus, she raised de nigger babies so's de mammies could wuck. I 'members de times when she rock me ter sleep an' put me ter bed in her own bed. I wuz happy den as I thinks back of it, until dem Yankees come.

Dey come on a Chuesday; an' dey started by burnin' de cotton house an' killin' most of de chickens an' pigs. Way atter awhile dey fin's de cellar an' dey drinks brandy till dey gits wobbly in de legs. Atter dat dey comes up on de front porch an' calls my missus. When she comes ter de do' dey tells her dat dey am goin' in de house ter look things over. My missus dejicts, case ole marster am away at de war, but dat doan do no good. Dey cusses her scan'lous an' dey dares her ter speak. Dey robs de house, takin' dere knives an' splittin' mattresses, pillows an' ever' thing open lookin' fer valerables, an' ole missus dasen't open her mouth.

Dey camped dar in de grove fer two days, de officers takin' de house an' missus leavin' home an' goin' ter de neighbor's house. Dey make me stay dar in de house wid 'em ter tote dere brandy frum de cellar, an' ter make 'em some mint jelup. Well, on de secon' night dar come de wust storm I'se eber seed. De lightnin' flash, de thunder roll, an' de house shook an' rattle lak a earthquake had struck it.

Dem Yankees warn't supposed ter be superstitious, but lemmie tell yo', dey wuz some skeered dat night; an' I hyard a Captain say dat de witches wuz abroad. Atter awhile lightnin' struck de Catawba tree dar at de side of de house an' de soldiers camped round about dat way marched off ter de barns, slave cabins an' other places whar dey wuz safter dan at dat place. De next mornin' dem Yankees moved frum dar an' dey ain't come back fer nothin'.

We wuzn't happy at de surrender an' we cussed ole Abraham Lincoln all ober de place. We wuz told de disadvantages of not havin' no edercation, but shucks, we doan need no book larnin' wid ole marster ter look atter us.

My mammy an' pappy stayed on dar de rest of dere lives, an' I stayed till I wuz sixteen. De Ku Klux Klan got atter me den' bout fightin' wid a white boy. Dat night I slipped in de woods an' de nex' day I went ter Raleigh. I got a job dar an' eber' since den I'se wucked fer myself, but now I can't wuck an' I wish dat yo' would apply fer my ole aged pension fer me.

I went back ter de ole plantation long as my pappy, mammy, an' de marster an' missus lived. Sometimes, when I gits de chanct I goes back now. Course now de slave cabins am gone, ever' body am dead, an' dar ain't nothin' familiar 'cept de bent Catawba tree; but it 'minds me of de happy days.

N. C. District: No. 2 [320163] Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 1,566 Subject: JOHN C. BECTOM Story Teller: John C. Bectom Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: Date Stamp "JUN 1 1937"]

[HW: N. C.]


My name is John C. Bectom. I was born Oct. 7, 1862, near Fayetteville, Cumberland County, North Carolina. My father's name was Simon Bectom. He was 86 years of age when he died. He died in 1910 at Fayetteville, N. C. My mother's name was Harriet Bectom. She died in 1907, May 23, when she was seventy years old. My brother's were named Ed, Kato and Willie. I was third of the boys. My sisters were Lucy, Anne and Alice. My father first belonged to Robert Wooten of Craven County, N. C. Then he was sold by the Wootens to the Bectoms of Wayne County, near Goldsboro, the county seat. My mother first belonged to the McNeills of Cumberland County. Miss Mary McNeill married a McFadden, and her parents gave my mother to Mis' Mary. Mis' Mary's daughter in time married Ezekial King and my mother was then given to her by Mis' Mary McFadden, her mother. Mis' Lizzie McFadden became a King. My grandmother was named Lucy Murphy. She belonged to the Murpheys. All the slaves were given off to the children of the family as they married.

My father and mother told me stories of how they were treated at different places. When my grandmother was with the Murpheys they would make her get up, and begin burning logs in new grounds before daybreak. They also made her plow, the same as any of the men on the plantation. They plowed till dusk-dark before they left the fields to come to the house. They were not allowed to attend any dances or parties unless they slipped off unknowin's. They had candy pullings sometimes too. While they would be there the patterollers would visit them. Sometimes the patterollers whipped all they caught at this place, all they set their hands on, unless they had a pass.

They fed us mighty good. The food was well cooked. They gave the slaves an acre of ground to plant and they could sell the crop and have the money. The work on this acre was done on moonshiny nights and holidays. Sometimes slaves would steal the marster's chickens or a hog and slip off to another plantation and have it cooked. We had plenty of clothes, and one pair o' shoes a year. You had to take care of them because you only got one pair a year. They were given at Christmas every year. The clothes were made on the plantation.

There were corn mills on the plantation, and rice mills, and threshing machines. The plantation had about 300 acres in farm land. The enclosure was three miles. My marster lived in a fine house. It took a year to build it. There were about 16 rooms in it. We slaves called it the great house. Some of the slaves ran away and finally reached Ohio. There was no jail on the plantation. Sometimes the overseer would whip us.

The Kings had no overseers. King beat his slaves with a stick. I remember seeing him do this as well as I can see that house over there. He became blind. An owl scratched him in the face when he was trying to catch him, and his face got into sich a fix he went to Philadelphia for treatment, but they could not cure him. He finally went blind. I have seen him beat his slaves after he was blind. I remember it well. He beat 'em with a stick. He was the most sensitive man you ever seed. He ran a store. After he was blind you could han' him a piece of money and he could tell you what it was.

There were no churches on the plantation but prayer meeting' were held in the quarters. Slaves were not allowed to go to the white folk's church unless they were coach drivers, etc. No sir, not in that community. They taught the slaves the Bible. The children of the marster would go to private school. We small Negro children looked after the babies in the cradles and other young children. When the white children studied their lessons I studied with them. When they wrote in the sand I wrote in the sand too. The white children, and not the marster or mistress, is where I got started in learnin' to read and write.

We had corn shuckings, candy pullings, dances, prayer meetings. We went to camp meetin' on Camp Meeting days in August when the crops were laid by. We played games of high jump, jumping over the pole held by two people, wrestling, leap frog, and jumping. We sang the songs, 'Go tell Aunt Patsy'. 'Some folks says a nigger wont steal, I caught six in my corn field' 'Run nigger run, the patteroller ketch you, Run nigger run like you did the other day'.

When slaves got sick marster looked after them. He gave them blue mass and caster oil. Dr. McDuffy also treated us. Dr. McSwain vaccinated us for small pox. My sister died with it. When the slaves died marster buried them. They dug a grave with a tomb in it. I do not see any of them now. The slaves were buried in a plain box.

The marsters married the slaves without any papers. All they did was to say perhaps to Jane and Frank, 'Frank, I pronounce you and Jane man and wife.' But the woman did not take the name of her husband, she kept the name of the family who owned her.

I remember seeing the Yankees near Fayetteville. They shot a bomb shell at Wheeler's Calvary, and it hit near me and buried in the ground. Wheeler's Calvary came first and ramsaked the place. They got all the valuables they could, and burned the bridge, the covered bridge over Cape Fear river, but when the Yankees got there they had a pontoon bridge to cross on,—all those provision wagons and such. When they passed our place it was in the morning. They nearly scared me to death. They passed right by our door, Sherman's army. They began passing, so the white folks said, at 9 o'clock in the mornin'. At 9 o'clock at night they were passin' our door on foot. They said there were two hundred and fifty thousan' o' them passed. Some camped in my marster's old fiel'. A Yankee caught one of my marster's shoats and cut off one of the hind quarters, gave it to me, and told me to carry and give it to my mother. I was so small I could not tote it, so I drug it to her. I called her when I got in hollering distance of the house and she came and got it. The Yankees called us Johnnie, Dinah, Bill and other funny names. They beat their drums and sang songs. One of the Yankees sang 'Rock a Bye Baby'. At that time Jeff Davis money was plentiful. My mother had about $1000. It was so plentiful it was called Jeff Davis shucks. My mother had bought a pair of shoes, and had put them in a chest. A Yankee came and took the shoes and wore them off, leaving his in their place. They tol' us we were free. Sometimes the marster would get cruel to the slaves if they acted like they were free.

Mat Holmes, a slave, was wearing a ball and chain as a punishment for running away. Marster Ezekial King put it on him. He has slept in the bed with me, wearing that ball and chain. The cuff had embedded in his leg, it was swollen so. This was right after the Yankees came through. It was March, the 9th of March, when the Yankees came through. Mat Holmes had run away with the ball and chain on him and was in the woods then. He hid out staying with us at night until August. Then my mother took him to the Yankee garrison at Fayetteville. A Yankee officer then took him to a black smith shop and had the ball and chain cut off his leg. The marsters would tell the slaves to go to work that they were not free, that they still belonged to them, but one would drop out and leave, then another. There was little work done on the farm, and finally most of the slaves learned they were free.

Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest men that ever lived. He was the cause of us slaves being free. No doubt about that. I didn't think anything of Jeff Davis. He tried to keep us in slavery. I think slavery was an injustice, not right. Our privilege is to live right, and live according to the teachings of the Bible, to treat our fellowman right. To do this I feel we should belong to some religious organization and live as near right as we know how.

The overseers and patterollers in the time of slavery were called poor white trash by the slaves.

On the plantations not every one, but some of the slave holders would have some certain slave women reserved for their own use. Sometimes children almost white would be born to them. I have seen many of these children. Sometimes the child would be said to belong to the overseer, and sometimes it would be said to belong to the marster.

N. C. District: No. 2 [320118] Worker: Mary A. Hicks No. Words: 610 Subject: AUNT LAURA Story Teller: LAURA BELL Editor: Geo. L. Andrews

[TR: Date Stamp "AUG 6 1937"]


An interview with Laura Bell, 73 years old, of 2 Bragg Street, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Being informed that Laura Bell was an old slavery Negro, I went immediately to the little two-room shack with its fallen roof and shaky steps. As I approached the shack I noticed that the storm had done great damage to the chaney-berry tree in her yard, fallen limbs litterin' the ground, which was an inch deep in garbage and water.

The porch was littered with old planks and huge tubs and barrels of stagnant water. There was only room for one chair and in that sat a tall Negro woman clad in burlap bags and in her lap she held a small white flea-bitten dog which growled meaningly.

When I reached the gate, which swings on one rusty hinge, she bade me come in and the Carolina Power and Light Company men, who were at work nearby, laughed as I climbed over the limbs and garbage and finally found room for one foot on the porch and one on the ground.

"I wus borned in Mount Airy de year 'fore de Yankees come, bein' de fourth of five chilluns. My mammy an' daddy Minerva Jane an' Wesley 'longed ter Mr. Mack Strickland an' we lived on his big place near Mount Airy."

"Mr. Mack wus good ter us, dey said. He give us enough ter eat an' plenty of time ter weave clothes fer us ter wear. I've hearn mammy tell of de corn shuckin's an' dances dey had an' 'bout some whuppin's too."

"Marse Mack's overseer, I doan know his name, wus gwine ter whup my mammy onct, an' pappy do' he ain't neber make no love ter mammy comes up an' takes de whuppin' fer her. Atter dat dey cou'ts on Sadday an' Sunday an' at all de sociables till dey gits married."

"I'se hearn her tell' bout how he axed Marse Mack iffen he could cou't mammy an' atter Marse Mack sez he can he axes her ter marry him."

"She tells him dat she will an' he had 'em married by de preacher de nex' time he comes through dat country."

"I growed up on de farm an' when I wus twelve years old I met Thomas Bell. My folks said dat I wus too young fer ter keep company so I had ter meet him 'roun' an' about fer seberal years, I think till I wus fifteen."

"He axed me ter marry him while he wus down on de creek bank a fishin' an' I tol' him yes, but when he starts ter kiss me I tells him dat der's many a slip twixt de cup an' de lip an' so he has ter wait till we gits married."

"We runned away de nex' Sadday an' wus married by a Justice of de Peace in Mount Airy."

"Love ain't what hit uster be by a long shot," de ole woman reflected, "'Cause dar ain't many folks what loves all de time. We moved ter Raleigh forty years ago, an' Tom has been daid seberal years now. We had jest one chile but hit wus borned daid."

"Chilluns ain't raised ter be clean lak we wus. I knows dat de house ain't so clean but I doan feel so much lak doin' nothin', I jest went on a visit 'bout seben blocks up de street dis mo'nin' an' so I doan feel lak cleanin' up none."

I cut the interview short thereby missing more facts, as the odor was anything but pleasant and I was getting tired of standing in that one little spot.

"Thank you for comin'", she called, and her dog growled again.

N. C. District: No. 2 [320111] Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 1153 Subject: EMMA BLALOCK Story Teller: Emma Blalock Editor: Geo. L. Andrews

[TR: Date Stamp "AUG 6 1937"]

EMMA BLALOCK 88 years old 529 Bannon Avenue Raleigh, N. C.

I shore do 'member de Yankees wid dere blue uniforms wid brass buttons on 'em. I wus too small to work any but I played in de yard wid my oldes' sister, Katie. She is dead long ago. My mother belonged to ole man John Griffith an' I belonged to him. His plantation wus down here at Auburn in Wake County. My father wus named Edmund Rand. He belonged to Mr. Nat Rand. He lived in Auburn. De plantations wus not fur apart. Dere wus about twenty-five slaves on de plantation whur mother an' me stayed.

Marse John used ter take me on his knee an' sing, 'Here is de hammer, Shing ding. Gimme de Hammer, shing ding.' Marster loved de nigger chilluns on his plantation. When de war ended father come an' lived with us at Marse John's plantation. Marster John Griffith named me Emmy. My grandfather on my fathers side wus named Harden Rand, an' grandmother wus named Mason Rand. My grandfather on my mother's side wus named Antny Griffiths an' grandmother wus named Nellie.

Our food wus a plenty and well cooked. Marster fed his niggers good. We had plenty of homespun dresses and we got shoes once a year, at Christmas Eve. I ken 'member it just as good. We got Christmas Holidays an' a stockin' full of candy an' peanuts. Sometimes we got ginger snaps at Christmas. My grandmother cooked' em. She wus a good cook. My mother's missus wus Miss Jetsy Griffith and my father's missus wus Lucy Rand. Dey wus both mighty good women. You know I am ole. I ken 'member all dem good white folks. Dey give us Fourth July Holidays. Dey come to town on dat day. Dey wore, let me tell you what dey wore, dey wore dotted waist blouses an' white pants. Dat wus a big day to ever'body, de Fourth of July. Dey begun singing at Auburn an' sung till dey reached Raleigh. Auburn is nine miles from Raleigh. Dere wus a lot of lemonade. Dey made light bread in big ovens an' had cheese to eat wid it. Some said just goin' on de fofe to git lemonade an' cheese.

In the winter we had a lot of possums to eat an' a lot of rabbits too. At Christmas time de men hunted and caught plenty game. We barbecued it before de fire. I 'members seein' mother an' grandmother swinging rabbits 'fore de fire to cook 'em. Dey would turn an' turn 'em till dey wus done. Dey hung some up in de chimbly an' dry 'em out an' keep 'em a long time an' dat is de reason I won't eat a rabbit today. No Sir! I won't eat a rabbit. I seed 'em mess wid 'em so much turned me 'ginst eatin' 'em.

I don't know how much lan' Marster John owned but, Honey, dat wus some plantation. It reached from Auburn to de Neuse River. Yes Sir, it did, 'cause I been down dere in corn hillin' time an' we fished at twelve o'clock in Neuse River. Marster John had overseers. Dere wus six of 'em. Dey rode horses over de fields but I don't 'member dere names.

I never seen a slave whupped but dey wus whupped on de plantation an' I heard de grown folks talkin' 'bout it. My uncles Nat an' Bert Griffiths wus both whupped. Uncle Nat would not obey his missus rules an' she had him whupped. Dey whupped Uncle Bert 'cause he stayed drunk so much. He loved his licker an' he got drunk an' cut up bad, den dey whupped him. You could git plenty whiskey den. Twon't like it is now. No sir, it won't. Whiskey sold fur ten cents a quart. Most ever' body drank it but you hardly ever seed a man drunk. Slaves wus not whupped for drinkin'. Dere Marsters give 'em whiskey but dey wus whupped for gittin' drunk. Dere wus a jail, a kind of stockade built of logs, on de farm to put slaves in when dey wouldn't mind. I never say any slave put on de block an' sold, but I saw Aunt Helen Rand cryin' because her Marster Nat Rand sold her boy, Fab Rand.

No Sir, no readin' an' writin'. You had to work. Ha! ha! You let your marster or missus ketch you wid a book. Dat wus a strict rule dat no learnin' wus to be teached. I can't read an' write. If it wus not fur my mother wit don't know what would become of me. We had prayer meetings around at de slave houses. I 'member it well. We turned down pots on de inside of de house at de door to keep marster an' missus from hearin' de singin' an' prayin'. Marster an' his family lived in de great house an' de slave quarters wus 'bout two hundred yards away to the back of de great house. Dey wus arranged in rows. When de war ended we all stayed on wid de families Griffiths an' Rands till dey died, dat is all 'cept my father an' me. He lef' an' I lef'. I been in Raleigh forty-five years. I married Mack Blalock in Raleigh. He been dead seven years.

My mother had two boys, Antny an' Wesley. She had four girls, Katie, Grissie, Mary Ella an' Emma. I had three chilluns, two are livin' yet. They both live in Raleigh.

We had big suppers an' dinners at log rollin's an' corn shuckin's in slavery time ha! ha! plenty of corn licker for ever'body, both white an' black. Ever'body helped himself. Dr. Tom Busbee, one good ole white man, looked after us when we got sick, an' he could make you well purty quick, 'cause he wus good an' 'cause he wus sorry fer you. He wus a feelin' man. Course we took erbs. I tell you what I took. Scurrey grass, chana balls dey wus for worms. Scurrey grass worked you out. Dey give us winter green to clense our blood. We slaves an' a lot of de white folks drank sassafras tea in de place of coffee. We sweetened it wid brown sugar, honey, or molasses, just what we had in dat line. I think slavery wus a right good thing. Plenty to eat an' wear.

When you gits a tooth pulled now it costs two dollars, don't it? Well in slavery time I had a tooth botherin' me. My mother say, Emma, take dis egg an' go down to Doctor Busbee an' give it to him an' git your tooth pulled. I give him one egg. He took it an' pulled my tooth. Try dat now, if you wants to an' see what happens. Yes, slavery wus a purty good thing.

N. C. District: No. 2 [320165] Worker: Mary A. Hicks No. Words: 1430 Subject: Days on the Plantation Person Interviewed: Uncle David Blount Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: Date Stamp "JUN 1 1937"]

[HW: N. C. Good general story—]

[HW: Good story Hates the Yankees boy beaten by overseer who is later discharged; slaves make pact with Yankees]


As told by Uncle David Blount, formerly of Beaufort County, who did not know his age. "De Marster" he refers to was Major Wm. A. Blount, who owned plantations in several parts of North Carolina.

Yes mam, de days on de plantation wuz de happy days. De marster made us wuck through de week but on Sadays we uster go swimmin' in de riber an' do a lot of other things dat we lak ter do.

We didn't mind de wuck so much case de ground wuz soft as ashes an' de marster let us stop and rest when we got tired. We planted 'taters in de uplan's and co'n in de lowgroun's nex' de riber. It wuz on de Cape Fear an' on hot days when we wuz a-pullin' de fodder we'd all stop wuck 'bout three o'clock in de ebenin' an' go swimmin'. Atter we come out'n de water we would wuck harder dan eber an' de marster wuz good to us, case we did wuck an' we done what he ast us.

I 'members onct de marster had a oberseer dar dat wuz meaner dan a mean nigger. He always hired good oberseers an' a whole lot of times he let some Negro slave obersee. Well, dis oberseer beat some of de half grown boys till de blood run down ter dar heels an' he tole de rest of us dat if we told on him dat he'd kill us. We don't dasen't ast de marster ter git rid of de man so dis went on fer a long time.

It wuz cold as de debil one day an' dis oberseer had a gang of us a-clearin' new groun'. One boy ast if he could warm by de bresh heap. De oberseer said no, and atter awhile de boy had a chill. De oberseer don't care, but dat night de boy am a sick nigger. De nex' mornin' de marster gits de doctor, an' de doctor say dat de boy has got pneumonia. He tells 'em ter take off de boys shirt an' grease him wid some tar, turpentine, an' kerosene, an' when dey starts ter take de shirt off dey fin's dat it am stuck.

Dey had ter grease de shirt ter git it off case de blood whar de oberseer beat him had stuck de shirt tight ter de skin. De marster wuz in de room an' he axed de boy how come it, an' de boy tole him.

De marster sorta turns white an' he says ter me, 'Will yo' go an' ast de oberseer ter stop hyar a minute, please?'

When de oberseer comes up de steps he axes sorta sassy-like, 'What yo' want?'

De marster says, 'Pack yo' things an' git off'n my place as fast as yo' can, yo' pesky varmit.'

De oberseer sasses de marster some more, an' den I sees de marster fairly loose his temper for de first time. He don't say a word but he walks ober, grabs de oberseer by de shoulder, sets his boot right hard 'ginst de seat of his pants an' sen's him, all drawed up, out in de yard on his face. He close up lak a umbrella for a minute den he pulls hisself all tergether an' he limps out'n dat yard an' we ain't neber seed him no more.

No mam, dar wuzent no marryin' on de plantation dem days, an' as one ole 'oman raised all of de chilluns me an' my brother Johnnie ain't neber knowed who our folkses wuz. Johnnie wuz a little feller when de war ended, but I wuz in most of de things dat happen on de plantation fer a good while.

One time dar, I done fergit de year, some white mens comes down de riber on a boat an' dey comes inter de fiel's an' talks ter a gang of us an' dey says dat our masters ain't treatin' us right. Dey tells us dat we orter be paid fer our wuck, an' dat we hadn't ort ter hab passes ter go anywhar. Dey also tells us dat we ort ter be allowed ter tote guns if we wants 'em. Dey says too dat sometime our marsters was gwine ter kill us all.

I laughs at 'em, but some of dem fool niggers listens ter 'em; an' it 'pears dat dese men gib de niggers some guns atter I left an' promised ter bring 'em some more de nex' week.

I fin's out de nex' day 'bout dis an' I goes an' tells de marster. He sorta laughs an' scratches his head, 'Dem niggers am headed fer trouble, Dave, 'he says ter me, 'an I wants yo' ter help me.'

I says, 'Yas sar, marster.'

An' he goes on, 'Yo' fin's out when de rest of de guns comes Dave, an' let me know.'

When de men brings back de guns I tells de marster, an' I also tells him dat dey wants ter hold er meetin'.

'All right,' he says an' laughs, 'dey can have de meetin'. Yo' tell 'em, Dave, dat I said dat dey can meet on Chuesday night in de pack house.'

Chuesday ebenin' he sen's dem all off to de low groun's but me, an' he tells me ter nail up de shutters ter de pack house an' ter nail 'em up good.

I does lak he tells me ter do an' dat night de niggers marches in an' sneaks dar guns in too. I is lyin' up in de loft an' I hyars dem say dat atter de meetin' dey is gwine ter go up ter de big house an' kill de whole fambly.

I gits out of de winder an' I runs ter de house an tells de marster. Den me an' him an' de young marster goes out an' quick as lightnin', I slams de pack house door an' I locks it. Den de marster yells at dem, 'I'se got men an' guns out hyar, he yells, 'an' if yo' doan throw dem guns out of de hole up dar in de loft, an' throw dem ebery one out I'se gwine ter stick fire ter dat pack house.'

De niggers 'liberates for a few minutes an' den dey throws de guns out. I knows how many dey has got so I counts till dey throw dem all out, den I gathers up dem guns an' I totes 'em off ter de big house.

Well sar, we keeps dem niggers shet up fer about a week on short rations; an' at de end of dat time dem niggers am kyored for good. When dey comes out dey had three oberseers 'stid of one, an' de rules am stricter dan eber before; an' den de marster goes off ter de war.

I reckon I was 'bout fifteen or sixteen den; an' de marster car's me 'long fer his pusonal sarvant an' body guard an' he leabes de rest of dem niggers in de fiel's ter wuck like de dickens while I laughs at dem Yankees.

Jim belonged to Mr. Harley who lived in New Hanover County during de war, in fac' he was young Massa Harley's slave; so when young Massa Tom went to de war Jim went along too.

Dey wuz at Manassas, dey tells me, when Massa Tom got kilt, and de orders wuz not to take no bodies off de field right den.

Course ole massa down near Wilmington, doan know 'bout young Massa Tom, but one night dey hears Jim holler at de gate. Dey goes runnin' out; an' Jim has brung Massa Tom's body all dat long ways home so dat he can be buried in de family burian ground.

De massa frees Jim dat night; but he stays on a time atter de war, an' tell de day he died he hated de Yankees for killing Massa Tom. In fact we all hated de Yankees, 'specially atter we hear 'bout starve dat first winter. I tried ter make a libin' fer me an' Johnnie but it was bad goin'; den I comes ter Raleigh an' I gits 'long better. Atter I gits settled I brings Johnnie, an' so we done putty good.

Dat's all I can tell yo' now Miss, but if'n yo'll come back sometime I'll tell yo' de rest of de tales.

Shortly after the above interview Uncle Dave who was failing fast was taken to the County Home, where he died. He was buried on May 4th, 1937, the rest of the tale remaining untold.

N. C. District: No. 2 [320185] Worker: Mary A. Hicks No. Words: 459 Subject: Ex-Slave Story Person Interviewed: Clay Bobbit Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: Date Stamp "JUN 17 1937"]


An interview with Clay Bobbit, 100 of S. Harrington Street, Raleigh, N. C., May 27, 1937.

I wuz borned May 2, 1837 in Warren County to Washington an' Delisia Bobbit. Our Marster wuz named Richard Bobbit, but we all calls him Massa Dick.

Massa Dick ain't good ter us, an' on my arm hyar, jist above de elbow am a big scar dis day whar he whupped me wid a cowhide. He ain't whupped me fer nothin' 'cept dat I is a nigger. I had a whole heap of dem whuppin's, mostly case I won't obey his orders an' I'se seed slaves beat 'most ter deff.

I wuz married onct 'fore de war by de broom stick ceremony, lak all de rest of de slaves wuz but shucks dey sold away my wife 'fore we'd been married a year an' den de war come on.

I had one brother, Henry who am wuckin' fer de city, an' one sister what wuz named Deliah. She been daid dese many years now.

Massa Dick owned a powerful big plantation an' ober a hundert slaves, an' we wucked on short rations an' went nigh naked. We ain't gone swimmin' ner huntin' ner nothin' an' we ain't had no pleasures 'less we runs away ter habe 'em. Eben when we sings we had ter turn down a pot in front of de do' ter ketch de noise.

I knowed some pore white trash; our oberseer wuz one, an' de shim shams[3] wuz also nigh 'bout also. We ain't had no use fer none of 'em an' we shorely ain't carin' whe'her dey has no use fer us er not.

De Ku Kluxes ain't done nothin' fer us case dar ain't many in our neighborhood. Yo' see de Yankees ain't come through dar, an' we is skeerd of dem anyhow. De white folks said dat de Yankees would kill us if'en dey ketched us.

I ain't knowed nothin' 'bout de Yankees, ner de surrender so I stays on fer seberal months atter de wahr wuz ober, den I comes ter Raleigh an' goes ter wuck fer de city. I wucks fer de city fer nigh on fifty years, I reckon, an' jis' lately I retired.

I'se been sick fer 'bout four months an' on, de second day of May. De day when I wuz a hundert years old I warn't able ter git ter de city lot, but I got a lot uv presents.

Dis 'oman am my third lawful wife. I married her three years ago.[4]

[Footnote 3: Shim Sham, Free Issues or Negroes of mixed blood.]

[Footnote 4: The old man was too ill to walk out on the porch for his picture, and his mind wandered too much to give a connected account of his life.]

N. C. District: No. 2 [320190] Worker: Mary A. Hicks No. Words: 793 Subject: Ex-Slave Story Story Teller: Henry Bobbitt Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: No Date Stamp]


An interview with Henry Bobbitt, 87 of Raleigh, Wake County N. C. May 13, 1937 by Mary A. Hicks.

I wuz borned at Warrenton in Warren County in 1850. My father wuz named Washington, atter General Washington an' my mamma wuz named Diasia atter a woman in a story. Us an' 'bout forty or fifty other slaves belonged ter Mr. Richard Bobbitt an' we wucked his four hundred acres o' land fer him. I jist had one brother named Clay, atter Henry Clay, which shows how Massa Dick voted, an' Delilah, which shows dat ole missus read de Bible.

We farmed, makin' tobacco, cotton, co'n, wheat an' taters. Massa Dick had a whole passel o' fine horses an' our Sunday job wuz ter take care of 'em, an' clean up round de house. Yes mam, we wucked seben days a week, from sunup till sundown six days, an' from seben till three or four on a Sunday.

We didn't have many tear-downs an' prayer meetin's an' sich, case de fuss sturbed ole missus who wuz kinder sickly. When we did have sompin' we turned down a big wash-pot in front of de do', an' it took up de fuss, an' folkses in de yard can't hyar de fuss. De patterollers would git you iffen you went offen de premises widout a pass, an' dey said dat dey would beat you scandelous. I seed a feller dat dey beat onct an' he had scars as big as my fingers all ober his body.

I got one whuppin' dat I 'members, an' dat wuz jist a middlin' one. De massa told me ter pick de cotton an' I sot down in de middle an' didn't wuck a speck. De oberseer come an' he frailed me wid a cotton-stalk; he wuz a heap meaner ter de niggers dan Massa Dick wuz. I saw some niggers what wuz beat bad, but I ain't neber had no bad beatin'.

We libed in log houses wid sand floors an' stick an' dirt chimneys an' we warn't 'lowed ter have no gyarden, ner chickens, ner pigs. We ain't had no way o' makin' money an' de fun wuz only middlin'. We had ter steal what rabbits we et from somebody elses [TR correction: else's] boxes on some udder plantation, case de massa won't let us have none o' our own, an' we ain't had no time ter hunt ner fish.

Now talkin' 'bout sompin' dat we'd git a whuppin' fer, dat wuz fer havin' a pencil an' a piece of paper er a slate. Iffen you jist looked lak you wanted ter larn ter read er write you got a lickin'.

Dar wuz two colored women lived nigh us an' dey wuz called "free issues," but dey wuz really witches. I ain't really seen 'em do nothin' but I hyard a whole lot 'bout 'em puttin' spells on folkses an' I seed tracks whar day had rid Massa Dick's hosses an' eber mo'nin' de hosses manes an' tails would be all twisted an' knotted up. I know dat dey done dat case I seed it wid my own eyes. Dey doctored lots of people an' our folkses ain't neber had no doctor fer nothin' dat happen.

You wuz axin' 'bout de slave sales, an' I want ter tell you dat I has seen some real sales an' I'se seed niggers, whole bunches of' em, gwin' ter Richmond ter be sold. Dey wuz mostly chained, case dey wuz new ter de boss, an' he doan know what ter 'spect. I'se seed some real sales in Warrenton too, an' de mammies would be sold from deir chilluns an' dare would be a whole heap o' cryin' an' mou'nin' 'bout hit. I tell you folkses ain't lak dey uster be, 'specially niggers. Uster be when a nigger cries he whoops an' groans an' hollers an' his whole body rocks, an' dat am de way dey done sometime at de sales.

Speakin' 'bout haints: I'se seed a whole lot o' things, but de worst dat eber happen wuz 'bout twenty years ago when a han'ts hand hit me side o' de haid. I bet dat hand weighed a hundred pounds an' it wuz as cold as ice. I ain't been able ter wuck fer seben days an' nights an' I still can't turn my haid far ter de left as you sees.

I reckon 'bout de funniest thing 'bout our plantation wuz de marryin'. A couple got married by sayin' dat dey wuz, but it couldn't last fer longer dan five years. Dat wuz so iffen one of 'em got too weakly ter have chilluns de other one could git him another wife or husban'.

I 'members de day moughty well when de Yankees come. Massa Dick he walked de floor an' cussed Sherman fer takin' his niggers away. All o' de niggers lef', of course, an' me, I walked clean ter Raleigh ter find out if I wuz really free, an' I couldn't unnerstan' half of it.

Well de first year I slept in folkses woodhouses an' barns an' in de woods or any whar else I could find. I wucked hyar an' dar, but de folkses' jist give me sompin' ter eat an' my clothes wuz in strings' fore de spring o' de year.

Yo' axes me what I thinks of Massa Lincoln? Well, I thinks dat he wuz doin' de wust thing dat he could ter turn all dem fool niggers loose when dey ain't got no place ter go an' nothin' ter eat. Who helped us out den? Hit wuzn't de Yankees, hit wuz de white folkses what wuz left wid deir craps in de fiel's, an' wuz robbed by dem Yankees, ter boot. My ole massa, fur instance, wuz robbed uv his fine hosses an' his feed stuff an' all dem kaigs o' liquor what he done make hisself, sides his money an' silver.

Slavery wuz a good thing den, but de world jist got better an' outgrowed it.


N. C. District: No. 2 [320235] Worker: Mary A. Hicks No. Words: 863 Subject: HERNDON BOGAN Story Teller: Herndon Bogan Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: No Date Stamp]


Ex-Slave Story

An interview with Herndon Bogan, 76 (?) of State Prison, Raleigh, N. C.

I wus bawned in Union County, South Carolina on de plantation o' Doctor Bogan, who owned both my mammy Issia, an' my pap Edwin. Dar wus six o' us chilluns; Clara, Lula, Joe, Tux, Mack an' me.

I doan' member much 'bout slavery days 'cept dat my white folkses wus good ter us. Dar wus a heap o' slaves, maybe a hundert an' fifty. I 'members dat we wucked hard, but we had plenty ter eat an' w'ar, eben iffen we did w'ar wood shoes.

I kin barely recolleck 'fore de war dat I'se seed a heap o' cocks fightin' in pits an' a heap o' horse racin'. When de marster winned he 'ud give us niggers a big dinner or a dance, but if he lost, oh!

My daddy wus gived ter de doctor when de doctor wus married an' dey shore loved each other. One day marster, he comes in an' he sez dat de Yankees am aimin' ter try ter take his niggers way from him, but dat dey am gwine ter ketch hell while dey does hit. When he sez dat he starts ter walkin' de flo'. 'I'se gwine ter leave yore missus in yore keer, Edwin,' he sez.

But pa 'lows, 'Wid all respec' fer yore wife sar, she am a Yankee too, an' I'd ruther go wid you ter de war. Please sar, massa, let me go wid you ter fight dem Yanks.'

At fust massa 'fuses, den he sez, 'All right.' So off dey goes ter de war, massa on a big hoss, an' my pap on a strong mule 'long wid de blankets an' things.

Dey tells me dat ole massa got shot one night, an' dat pap grabs de gun 'fore hit hits de earth an' lets de Yanks have hit.

I 'members dat dem wus bad days fer South Carolina, we gived all o' de food ter de soldiers, an' missus, eben do' she has got some Yankee folks in de war, l'arns ter eat cabbages an' kush an' berries.

I 'members dat on de day of de surrender, leastways de day dat we hyard 'bout hit, up comes a Yankee an' axes ter see my missus. I is shakin', I is dat skeerd, but I bucks up an' I tells him dat my missus doan want ter see no blue coat.

He grins, an' tells me ter skedaddle, an' 'bout den my missus comes out an' so help me iffen she doan hug dat dratted Yank. Atter awhile I gathers dat he's her brother, but at fust I ain't seed no sense in her cryin' an' sayin' 'thank God', over an' over.

Well sar, de massa an' pap what had gone off mad an' healthy an' ridin' fine beastes comes back walkin' an' dey looked sick. Massa am white as cotton, an' so help me, iffen my pap, who wuz black as sin, ain't pale too.

Atter a few years I goes ter wuck in Spartanburg as a houseboy, den I gits a job wid de Southern Railroad an' I goes ter Charlotte ter night-watch de tracks.

I stays dar eighteen years, but one night I kills a white hobo who am tryin' ter rob me o' my gol' watch an' chain, an' dey gives me eighteen months. I'se been hyar six already. He wus a white man, an' jist a boy, an' I is sorry, but I comes hyar anyhow.

I hyard a ole 'oman in Charlotte tell onct 'bout witchin' in slavery times, dar in Mecklenburg County. She wus roun' ninety, so I reckon she knows. She said dat iffen anybody wanted ter be a witch he would draw a circle on de groun' jist at de aidge o' dark an' git in de circle an' squat down.

Dar he had ter set an' talk ter de debil, an' he mus' say, 'I will have nothin' ter do wid 'ligion, an' I wants you ter make me a witch.' Atter day he mus' bile a black cat, a bat an' a bunch of herbs an' drink de soup, den he wuz really a witch.

When you wanted ter witch somebody, she said dat you could take dat stuff, jist a little bit of hit an' put hit under dat puson's doorsteps an' dey'd be sick.

You could go thru' de key hole or down de chimney or through de chinks in a log house, an' you could ride a puson jist lak ridin' a hoss. Dat puson can keep you outen his house by layin' de broom 'fore de do' an' puttin' a pin cushion full of pins side of de bed do', iffen he's a mind to.

Dat puson can kill you too, by drawin' yore pitcher an' shootin' hit in de haid or de heart too.

Dar's a heap o' ways ter tell fortunes dat she done tol' me but I'se done forgot now 'cept coffee groun's an' a little of de others. You can't tell hit wid 'em do', case hit takes knowin' how, hit shore does.

N. C. District: No. 2 [320022] Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 1,741 Subject: ANDREW BOONE Story Teller: Andrew Boone Editor: G. L. Andrews

ANDREW BOONE age 90 years.

Wake County, North Carolina. Harris Farm.

I been living in dese backer barns fifteen years. I built this little shelter to cook under. Dey cut me off the WPA cause dey said I wus too ole to work. Dey tole us ole folks we need not put down our walkin' sticks to git work cause dey jes' won't goin' to put us on.

Well, I had some tomatoes cooked widout any grease for my breakfast. I had a loaf of bread yesterday, but I et it. I ain't got any check from the ole age pension an' I have nothin' to eat an' I am hongry. I jes' looks to God. I set down by de road thinkin' bout how to turn an' what to do to git a meal, when you cum along. I thanks you fer dis dime. I guess God made you give it to me.

I wus glad to take you down to my livin' place to give you my story. Dis shelter, an ole tobacco barn, is better dan no home at all. I is a man to myself an' I enjoy livin' out here if I could git enough to eat.

Well de big show is coming to town. It's de Devil's wurk. Yes sir, it's de Devil's wurk. Why dem show folks ken make snakes an' make 'em crawl too. Dere wus one in Watson Field in de edge of Raleigh not long ago an' he made snakes an' made 'em crawl too. All shows is de Devil's wurk.

I never done anything fer myself in all my life. I always wurked fer de Rebels. I stuck right to 'em. Didn't have no sense fer doin' dat I guess.

One time a Rebel saw a Yankee wid one eye, one leg an' one arm. De Yankee wus beggin'. De Rebel went up to him an' give him a quarter. Den he backed off an' jes' stood a-lookin' at de Yankee, presently he went back an' give him anudder quarter, den anudder, den he said, 'You take dis whole dollar, you is de first Yankee I eber seed trimmed up jes' to my notion, so take all dis, jes' take de whole dollar, you is trimmed up to my notion'.

I belonged to Billy Boone in Slavery time. He wus a preacher. He lived on an' owned a plantation in Northampton County. The plantation wus near woodland. The nearest river to the place wus the Roanoke. My ole missus' name wus Nancy. When ole marster died I stayed around wid fust one then another of the chilluns, cause marster tole me jes' fore he died fer me to stay wid any of 'em I wanted to stay with. All dem ole people done dead an' gone on.

Niggers had to go through thick an' thin in slavery time, with rough rations most of de time, wid jes' enough clothin' to make out wid. Our houses were built of logs an' covered wid slabs. Dey wus rived out of blocks of trees about 3-6 and 8ft in length. De chimleys wus built of sticks and mud, den a coat of clay mud daubed over 'em. De cracks in de slave houses wus daubed wid mud too.

We wurked from sun to sun. If we had a fire in cold weather where we wus wurkin' marster or de overseer would come an' put it out. We et frozen meat an' bread many times in cold weather. After de day's wurk in de fields wus over we had a task of pickin' de seed from cotton till we had two ounces of lint or spin two ounces of cotton on a spinnin' wheel. I spun cotton on a spinnin' wheel. Dats de way people got clothes in slavery time.

I can't read an' write but dey learned us to count. Dey learned us to count dis way. 'Ought is an' ought, an' a figger is a figger, all for de white man an' nothin' fer de nigger'. Hain't you heard people count dat way?

Dey sold slaves jes' like people sell hosses now. I saw a lot of slaves sold on de auction block. Dey would strip 'em stark naked. A nigger scarred up or whaled an' welted up wus considered a bad nigger an' did not bring much. If his body wus not scarred, he brought a good price. I saw a lot of slaves whupped an' I was whupped myself. Dey whupped me wid de cat o' nine tails. It had nine lashes on it. Some of de slaves wus whupped wid a cabbin paddle. Dey had forty holes in' em an' when you wus buckled to a barrel dey hit your naked flesh wid de paddle an' every whur dere wus a hole in de paddle it drawed a blister. When de whuppin' wid de paddle wus over, dey took de cat o' nine tails an' busted de blisters. By dis time de blood sometimes would be runnin' down dere heels. Den de next thing wus a wash in salt water strong enough to hold up an egg. Slaves wus punished dat way fer runnin' away an' sich.

If you wus out widout a pass dey would shore git you. De paterollers shore looked after you. Dey would come to de house at night to see who wus there. If you wus out of place, dey would wear you out.

Sam Joyner, a slave, belonged to marster. He wus runnin' from de paterollers an' he fell in a ole well. De pateroller went after marster. Marster tole' em to git ole Sam out an' whup him jes' as much as dey wanted to. Dey got him out of de well an' he wus all wet an' muddy. Sam began takin' off his shoes, den he took off his pants an' got in his shirt tail. Marster, he say, 'What you takin' off you clothes fer Sam?' Sam, he say, 'Marster, you know you all can't whup dis nigger right over all dese wet clothes.' Den Sam lit out. He run so fas' he nearly flew. De paterollers got on dere hosses an' run him but dey could not ketch him. He got away. Marster got Sam's clothes an' carried 'em to de house. Sam slipped up next morning put his clothes on an' marster said no more about it.

I wus a great big boy when de Yankees come through. I wus drivin' a two mule team an' doin' other wurk on de farm. I drove a two hoss wagon when dey carried slaves to market. I went to a lot of different places.

My marster wus a preacher, Billy Boone. He sold an' bought niggers. He had fifty or more. He wurked the grown niggers in two squads. My father wus named Isham Boone and my mother wus Sarah Boone. Marster Boone whupped wid de cobbin paddle an' de cat o' nine tails an' used the salt bath an' dat wus 'nough. Plenty besides him whupped dat way.

Marster had one son, named Solomon, an' two girls, Elsie an' Alice. My mother had four children, three boys an' one girl. The boys were named Sam, Walter and Andrew, dats me, an' de girl wus Cherry.

My father had several children cause he had several women besides mother. Mollie and Lila Lassiter, two sisters, were also his women. Dese women wus given to him an' no udder man wus allowed to have anything to do wid 'em. Mollie an' Lila both had chilluns by him. Dere names wus Jim, Mollie, Liza, Rosa, Pete an' I can't remember no more of 'em.

De Yankees took jes' what dey wanted an' nothin' stopped 'em, cause de surrender had come. Before de surrender de slave owners begun to scatter de slaves 'bout from place to place to keep de Yankees from gittin' 'em. If de Yankees took a place de slaves nearby wus moved to a place further off.

All I done wus fer de Rebels. I wus wid 'em an' I jes' done what I wus tole. I wus afraid of de Yankees 'cause de Rebels had told us dat de Yankees would kill us. Dey tole us dat de Yankees would bore holes in our shoulders an' wurk us to carts. Dey tole us we would be treated a lot worser den dey wus treating us. Well, de Yankees got here but they treated us fine. Den a story went round an' round dat de marster would have to give de slaves a mule an' a year's provisions an' some lan', about forty acres, but dat was not so. Dey nebber did give us anything. When de war ended an' we wus tole we wus free, we stayed on wid marster cause we had nothin' an' nowhere to go.

We moved about from farm to farm. Mother died an' father married Maria Edwards after de surrender. He did not live wid any of his other slave wives dat I knows of.

I have wurked as a han' on de farm most of de time since de surrender and daddy worked most of de time as a han', but he had gardens an' patches most everywhere he wurked. I wurked in New York City for fifteen years with Crawford and Banhay in de show business. I advertised for 'em. I dressed in a white suit, white shirt, an' white straw hat, and wore tan shoes. I had to be a purty boy. I had to have my shoes shined twice a day. I lived at 18 Manilla Lane, New York City. It is between McDougall Street and 6th Avenue. I married Clara Taylor in New York City. We had two children. The oldest one lives in New York. The other died an' is buried in Raleigh.

In slavery time they kept you down an' you had to wurk, now I can't wurk, an' I am still down. Not allowed to wurk an' still down. It's all hard, slavery and freedom, both bad when you can't eat. The ole bees makes de honey comb, the young bee makes de honey, niggers makes de cotton an' corn an' de white folks gets de money. Dis wus de case in Slavery time an' its de case now. De nigger do mos' de hard wurk on de farms now, and de white folks still git de money dat de nigger's labor makes.



STATE: North Carolina RECEIVED FROM: (State office) Asheville MS: Interview with W. L. Bost, Ex-Slave. WORDS: 2,000 DATE: Sept. 27, 1937

Interview with W. L. Bost, Ex-slave [HW: 88 years] 63 Curve Street, Asheville, N. C.

By—Marjorie Jones

My Massa's name was Jonas Bost. He had a hotel in Newton, North Carolina. My mother and grandmother both belonged to the Bost family. My ole Massa had two large plantations one about three miles from Newton and another four miles away. It took a lot of niggers to keep the work a goin' on them both. The women folks had to work in the hotel and in the big house in town. Ole Missus she was a good woman. She never allowed the Massa to buy or sell any slaves. There never was an overseer on the whole plantation. The oldest colored man always looked after the niggers. We niggers lived better than the niggers on the other plantations.

Lord child, I remember when I was a little boy, 'bout ten years, the speculators come through Newton with droves of slaves. They always stay at our place. The poor critters nearly froze to death. They always come 'long on the last of December so that the niggers would be ready for sale on the first day of January. Many the time I see four or five of them chained together. They never had enough clothes on to keep a cat warm. The women never wore anything but a thin dress and a petticoat and one underwear. I've seen the ice balls hangin' on to the bottom of their dresses as they ran along, jes like sheep in a pasture 'fore they are sheared. They never wore any shoes. Jes run along on the ground, all spewed up with ice. The speculators always rode on horses and drove the pore niggers. When they get cold, they make 'em run 'til they are warm again.

The speculators stayed in the hotel and put the niggers in the quarters jes like droves of hogs. All through the night I could hear them mournin' and prayin'. I didn't know the Lord would let people live who were so cruel. The gates were always locked and they was a guard on the outside to shoot anyone who tried to run away. Lord miss, them slaves look jes like droves of turkeys runnin' along in front of them horses.

I remember when they put 'em on the block to sell 'em. The ones 'tween 18 and 30 always bring the most money. The auctioneer he stand off at a distance and cry 'em off as they stand on the block. I can hear his voice as long as I live.

If the one they going to sell was a young Negro man this is what he say: "Now gentlemen and fellow-citizens here is a big black buck Negro. He's stout as a mule. Good for any kin' o' work an' he never gives any trouble. How much am I offered for him?" And then the sale would commence, and the nigger would be sold to the highest bidder.

If they put up a young nigger woman the auctioneer cry out: "Here's a young nigger wench, how much am I offered for her?" The pore thing stand on the block a shiverin' an' a shakin' nearly froze to death. When they sold many of the pore mothers beg the speculators to sell 'em with their husbands, but the speculator only take what he want. So meybe the pore thing never see her husban' agin.

Ole' Massa always see that we get plenty to eat. O' course it was no fancy rashions. Jes corn bread, milk, fat meat, and 'lasses but the Lord knows that was lots more than other pore niggers got. Some of them had such bad masters.

Us pore niggers never 'lowed to learn anything. All the readin' they ever hear was when they was carried through the big Bible. The Massa say that keep the slaves in they places. They was one nigger boy in Newton who was terrible smart. He learn to read an' write. He take other colored children out in the fields and teach 'em about the Bible, but they forgit it 'fore the nex' Sunday.

Then the paddyrollers they keep close watch on the pore niggers so they have no chance to do anything or go anywhere. They jes' like policemen, only worser. 'Cause they never let the niggers go anywhere without a pass from his master. If you wasn't in your proper place when the paddyrollers come they lash you til' you was black and blue. The women got 15 lashes and the men 30. That is for jes bein' out without a pass. If the nigger done anything worse he was taken to the jail and put in the whippin' post. They was two holes cut for the arms stretch up in the air and a block to put your feet in, then they whip you with cowhide whip. An' the clothes shore never get any of them licks.

I remember how they kill one nigger whippin' him with the bull whip. Many the pore nigger nearly killed with the bull whip. But this one die. He was a stubborn Negro and didn't do as much work as his Massa thought he ought to. He been lashed lot before. So they take him to the whippin' post, and then they strip his clothes off and then the man stan' off and cut him with the whip. His back was cut all to pieces. The cuts about half inch apart. Then after they whip him they tie him down and put salt on him. Then after he lie in the sun awhile they whip him agin. But when they finish with him he was dead.

Plenty of the colored women have children by the white men. She know better than to not do what he say. Didn't have much of that until the men from South Carolina come up here and settle and bring slaves. Then they take them very same children what have they own blood and make slaves out of them. If the Missus find out she raise revolution. But she hardly find out. The white men not going to tell and the nigger women were always afraid to. So they jes go on hopin' that thing won't be that way always.

I remember how the driver, he was the man who did most of the whippin', use to whip some of the niggers. He would tie their hands together and then put their hands down over their knees, then take a stick and stick it 'tween they hands and knees. Then when he take hold of them and beat 'em first on one side then on the other.

Us niggers never have chance to go to Sunday School and church. The white folks feared for niggers to get any religion and education, but I reckon somethin' inside jes told us about God and that there was a better place hereafter. We would sneak off and have prayer meetin'. Sometimes the paddyrollers catch us and beat us good but that didn't keep us from tryin'. I remember one old song we use to sing when we meet down in the woods back of the barn. My mother she sing an' pray to the Lord to deliver us out o' slavery. She always say she thankful she was never sold from her children, and that our Massa not so mean as some of the others. But the old song it went something like this:

"Oh, mother lets go down, lets go down, lets go down, lets go down. Oh, mother lets go down, down in the valley to pray. As I went down in the valley to pray Studyin' about that good ole way Who shall wear that starry crown. Good Lord show me the way."

Then the other part was just like that except it said 'father' instead of 'mother', and then 'sister' and then 'brother'.

Then they sing sometime:

"We camp a while in the wilderness, in the wilderness, in the wilderness. We camp a while in the wilderness, where the Lord makes me happy And then I'm a goin' home."

I don't remember much about the war. There was no fightin' done in Newton. Jes a skirmish or two. Most of the people get everything jes ready to run when the Yankee sojers come through the town. This was toward the las' of the war. Cose the niggers knew what all the fightin' was about, but they didn't dare say anything. The man who owned the slaves was too mad as it was, and if the niggers say anything they get shot right then and thar. The sojers tell us after the war that we get food, clothes, and wages from our Massas else we leave. But they was very few that ever got anything. Our ole Massa say he not gwine pay us anything, corse his money was no good, but he wouldn't pay us if it had been.

Then the Ku Klux Klan come 'long. They were terrible dangerous. They wear long gowns, touch the ground. They ride horses through the town at night and if they find a Negro that tries to get nervy or have a little bit for himself, they lash him nearly to death and gag him and leave him to do the bes' he can. Some time they put sticks in the top of the tall thing they wear and then put an extra head up there with scary eyes and great big mouth, then they stick it clear up in the air to scare the poor Negroes to death.

They had another thing they call the 'Donkey Devil' that was jes as bad. They take the skin of a donkey and get inside of it and run after the pore Negroes. Oh, Miss them was bad times, them was bad times. I know folks think the books tell the truth, but they shore don't. Us pore niggers had to take it all.

Then after the war was over we was afraid to move. Jes like tarpins or turtles after 'mancipation. Jes stick our heads out to see how the land lay. My mammy stay with Marse Jonah for 'bout a year after freedom then ole Solomon Hall made her an offer. Ole man Hall was a good man if there ever was one. He freed all of his slaves about two years 'fore 'mancipation and gave each of them so much money when he died, that is he put that in his will. But when he die his sons and daughters never give anything to the pore Negroes. My mother went to live on the place belongin' to the nephew of Solomon Hall. All of her six children went with her. Mother she cook for the white folks an' the children make crop. When the first year was up us children got the first money we had in our lives. My mother certainly was happy.

We live on this place for over four years. When I was 'bout twenty year old I married a girl from West Virginia but she didn't live but jes 'bout a year. I stayed down there for a year or so and then I met Mamie. We came here and both of us went to work, we work at the same place. We bought this little piece of ground 'bout forty-two years ago. We gave $125 for it. We had to buy the lumber to build the house a little at a time but finally we got the house done. Its been a good home for us and the children. We have two daughters and one adopted son. Both of the girls are good cooks. One of them lives in New Jersey and cooks in a big hotel. She and her husband come to see us about once a year. The other one is in Philadelphia. They both have plenty. But the adopted boy, he was part white. We took him when he was a small and did the best we could by him. He never did like to 'sociate with colored people. I remember one time when he was a small child I took him to town and the conductor made me put him in the front of the street car cause he thought I was just caring for him and that he was a white boy. Well, we sent him to school until he finished. Then he joined the navy. I ain't seem him in several years. The last letter I got from him he say he ain't spoke to a colored girl since he has been there. This made me mad so I took his insurance policy and cashed it. I didn't want nothin' to do with him, if he deny his own color.

Very few of the Negroes ever get anywhere; they never have no education. I knew one Negro who got to be a policeman in Salisbury once and he was a good one too. When my next birthday comes in December I will be eighty-eight years old. That is if the Lord lets me live and I shore hope He does.

N. C. District: No. 3 [320279] Worker: Travis Jordan Subject: Mary Wallace Bowe Ex-slave 81 Years Durham County Home Durham, N. C.

[HW: Lovely story about Abraham Lincoln]

[TR: This interview was heavily corrected by hand. i.e. wuz to was, er to a, etc. Changes made without comment.]

MARY WALLACE BOWE Ex-slave 81 years

My name is Mary Wallace Bowe. I was nine years ole at de surrender.

My mammy an' pappy, Susan an' Lillman Graves, first belonged to Marse Fountain an' Mis' Fanny Tu'berville, but Marse Fountain sold me, my mammy an' my brother George to Mis' Fanny's sister, Mis' Virginia Graves. Mis' Virginia's husban' was Marse Doctor Graves. Dey lived on de ole Elijah Graves estate not far from Marse Fountain's plantation here in Durham county, an' Mis' Virginia an' Mis' Fanny seed each other near 'bout every day.

I was little when Marse Fountain an' Marse Doctor went to de war but I remembers it. I remembers it kaze Mis' Fanny stood on de po'ch smilin' an' wavin' at Marse Fountain 'til he went 'roun' de curve in de road, den she fell to de floor like she was dead. I thought she was dead 'till Mis' Virginia th'owed some water in her face an' she opened her eyes.

De nex day Mis' Virginia took me an' mammy an' we all went over an' stayed wid Mis' Fanny kaze she was skeered, an' so dey'd be company for each other. Mammy waited on Mis' Virginia an' he'ped Surella Tu'berville, Mis' Fanny's house girl, sweep an' make up de beds an' things. I was little but mammy made me work. I shook de rugs, brung in de kindlin' an run 'roun' waitin' on Mis' Virginia an' Mis' Fanny, doin' things like totin' dey basket of keys, bringin' dey shawls and such as dat. Dey was all de time talkin' about de folks fightin' an' what dey would do if de Yankees come.

Every time dey talk Mis' Fanny set an' twist her han's an' say: "What is we gwine do, Sister, what is we gwine do?"

Mis' Virginia try to pacify Mis' Fanny. She say, 'Don' yo' worry none, Honey, I'll fix dem Yankees when dey come.' Den she set her mouf. When she done dat I run an' hid behin' Mis' Fanny's chair kaze I done seed Mis' Virginia set her mouf befo' an' I knowed she meant biznes'.

I didn' have sense enough to be skeered den kaze I hadn' never seed no Yankee sojers, but 'twaren't long befo' I wuz skeered. De Yankees come one mornin', an' dey ripped, Oh, Lawd, how dey did rip. When dey rode up to de gate an' come stompin' to de house, Mis' Fanny 'gun to cry. 'Tell dem somethin', Sister, tell dem somethin'; she tole Mis' Virginia.

Mis' Virginia she ain' done no cryin'. When she seed dem Yankees comin' 'cross de hill, she run 'roun' an' got all de jewelry. She took off de rings an' pins she an' Mis' Fanny had on an' she got all de things out of de jewelry box an' give dem to pappy. "Hide dem, Lillmam" she tole pappy, 'hide dem some place whare dem thieves won't find dem'.

Pappy had on high top boots. He didn' do nothin but stuff all dat jewelry right down in dem boots, den he strutted all' roun' dem Yankees laughin' to heself. Dey cussed when dey couldn' fin' no jewelry a tall. Dey didn' fin' no silver neither kaze us niggers done he'p Mis' Fanny an' Mis' Virginia hide dat. We done toted it all down to de cottin gin house an' hid it in de loose cotton piled on de floor. When dey couldn' fin' nothin' a big sojer went up to Mis' Virginia who wuz standin' in de hall. He look at her an' say: 'Yo's skeered of me, ain' yo'?'

Mis' Virginia ain' batted no eye yet. She tole him, "If I was gwine to be skeered, I'd be skeered of somethin'. I sho ain' of no ugly, braggin' Yankee."

De man tu'ned red an he say: "If you don' tell me where you done hide dat silver I'se gwine to make' you skeered."

Mis' Virginia's chin went up higher. She set her mouf an' look at dat sojer twell he drap his eyes. Den she tole him dat some folks done come an' got de silver, dat dey done toted it off. She didn' tell him dat it wuz us niggers dat done toted it down to de cotton gin house.

In dem days dey wuz peddlers gwine 'roun' de country sellin' things. Dey toted big packs on dey backs filled wid everythin' from needles an' thimbles to bed spreads an' fryin' pans. One day a peddler stopped at Mis' Fanny's house. He was de uglies' man I ever seed. He was tall an' bony wid black whiskers an' black bushy hair an' curious eyes dat set way back in his head. Dey was dark an' look like a dog's eyes after you done hit him. He set down on de po'ch an' opened his pack, an' it was so hot an' he looked so tired, dat Mis' Fanny give him er cool drink of milk dat done been settin' in de spring house. All de time Mis' Fanny was lookin' at de things in de pack an' buyin', de man kept up a runnin' talk. He ask her how many niggers dey had; how many men dey had fightin' on de 'Federate side, an' what wuz was she gwine do if de niggers wuz was set free. Den he ask her if she knowed Mistah Abraham Lincoln.

'Bout dat time Mis' Virginia come to de door an' heard what he said. She blaze up like a lightwood fire an' told dat peddler dat dey didn't want to know nothin' 'bout Mistah Lincoln; dat dey knowed too much already, an' dat his name wuzn [HW correction: wasn't] 'lowed called in dat [HW correction: her] house. Den she say he wuzn [HW correction: wasn't] nothin' but a black debil messin' in other folks biznes' [HW correction: business], an' dat she'd shoot him on sight if she had half a chance.

De man laughed. "Maybe he [HW correction: Mr. Lincoln] ain't so bad,' he told her. Den he packed his pack an' went off down de road, an' Mis' Virginia watched him 'till he went out of sight 'roun' de bend."

Two or three weeks later Mis' Fanny got a letter. De letter was from dat peddler. He tole her dat he was Abraham Lincoln hese'f; dat he wuz peddlin' over de country as a spy, an' he thanked her for de res' on her shady po'ch an' de cool glass of milk she give him.

When dat letter come Mis' Virginia got so hoppin' mad dat she took all de stuff Mis' Fanny done bought from Mistah Lincoln an' made us niggers burn it on de ash pile. Den she made pappy rake up de ashes an' th'ow dem in de creek.

N. C. District: No. 2 [320148] Worker: Mary A. Hicks No. Words: 377 Subject: Ex-Slave Recollections Person Interviewed: Lucy Brown Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: Date Stamp "JUN 7 1937"]


An interview with Lucy Brown of Hecktown, Durham, Durham County, May 20, 1937. She does not know her age.

I wuz jist a little thing when de war wuz over an' I doan 'member much ter tell yo'. Mostly what I does know I hyard my mammy tell it.

We belonged to John Neal of Person County. I doan know who my pappy wuz, but my mammy wuz named Rosseta an' her mammy's name 'fore her wuz Rosseta. I had one sister named Jenny an' one brother named Ben.

De marster wuz good ter us, in a way, but he ain't 'lowin' no kinds of frolickin' so when we had a meetin' we had ter do it secret. We'd turn down a wash pot outside de do', an' dat would ketch de fuss so marster neber knowed nothin' 'bout hit.

On Sundays we went ter church at de same place de white folkses did. De white folkses rid an' de niggers walked, but eben do' we wored wooden bottomed shoes we wuz proud an' mostly happy. We had good clothes an' food an' not much abuse. I doan know de number of slaves, I wuz so little.

My mammy said dat slavery wuz a whole lot wuser [HW correction: wusser] 'fore I could 'member. She tol' me how some of de slaves had dere babies in de fiel's lak de cows done, an' she said dat 'fore de babies wuz borned dey tied de mammy down on her face if'en dey had ter whup her ter keep from ruinin' de baby.

She said dat dar wuz ghostes an' some witches back den, but I doan know nothin' 'bout dem things.

Naw. I can't tell yo' my age but I will tell yo' dat eber'body what lives in dis block am either my chile or gran'chile. I can't tell yo' prexackly how many dar is o' 'em, but I will tell you dat my younges' chile's baby am fourteen years old, an' dat she's got fourteen youngin's [HW correction: youngun's], one a year jist lak I had till I had sixteen.

I'se belonged ter de church since I wuz a baby an' I tells dem eber'day dat dey shore will miss me when I'se gone.

N. C. District: No. 2 [320115] Worker: Mary Hicks No. Words: 462 Subject: PLANTATION LIFE IN GEORGIA Reference: Midge Burnett Editor: George L. Andrews

[TR: Date Stamp "AUG 6 1937"]


An interview with Midge Burnett, 80 years old, of 1300 S. Bloodworth Street, Raleigh, North Carolina.

I wus borned in Georgia eighty years ago, de son of Jim an' Henretta Burnett an' de slave of Marse William Joyner.

I wurked on de farm durin' slavery times, among de cotton, corn, an' sugar cane. De wurk wusn't so hard an' we had plenty of time ter have fun an' ter git inter meanness, dat's why Marse William had ter have so many patterollers on de place.

Marse William had near three hundret slaves an' he kept seben patterollers ter keep things goin' eben. De slaves ain't run away. Naw sir, dey ain't, dey knows good things when dey sees dem an' dey ain't leavin' dem nother. De only trouble wus dat dey wus crazy 'bout good times an' dey'd shoot craps er bust.

De patterollers 'ud watch all de paths leadin' frum de plantation an' when dey ketched a nigger leavin' dey whupped him an' run him home. As I said de patterollers watched all paths, but dar wus a number of little paths what run through de woods dat nobody ain't watched case dey ain't knowed dat de paths wus dar.

On moonlight nights yo' could hear a heap of voices an' when yo' peep ober de dike dar am a gang of niggers a-shootin' craps an' bettin' eber'thing dey has stold frum de plantation. Sometimes a pretty yaller gal er a fat black gal would be dar, but mostly hit would be jist men.

Dar wus a ribber nearby de plantation an' we niggers swum dar ever' Sadday an' we fished dar a heap too. We ketched a big mess of fish ever' week an' dese come in good an' helped ter save rations ter boot. Dat's what Marse William said, an' he believed in havin' a good time too.

We had square dances dat las' all night on holidays an' we had a Christmas tree an' a Easter egg hunt an' all dat, case Marse William intended ter make us a civilized bunch of blacks.

Marse William ain't eber hit one of us a single lick till de day when we heard dat de Yankees wus a-comin'. One big nigger jumps up an' squalls, 'Lawd bless de Yankees'.

Marse yells back, 'God damn de Yankees', an' he slaps big Mose a sumerset right outen de do'. Nobody else wanted ter git slapped soe ever'body got outen dar in a hurry an' nobody else dasen't say Yankees ter de marster.

Eben when somebody seed de Yankees comin' Mose wont go tell de' marster 'bout hit, but when Marster William wus hilt tight twixt two of dem big husky Yankees he cussed 'em as hard as he can. Dey carries him off an' dey put him in de jail at Atlanta an' dey keeps him fer a long time.

Atter de surrender we left dar an' we moves ter Star, South Carolina, whar I still wurks 'roun' on de farm. I stayed on dar' till fifty years ago when I married Roberta Thomas an' we moved ter Raliegh. We have five chilluns an' we's moughty proud of 'em, but since I had de stroke we has been farin' bad, an' I'se hopin' ter git my ole aged pension.


N. C. District: No. 3 [320274] Worker: Travis Jordan Subject: Fanny Cannady Ex-Slave 79 Years Durham County [TR No. Words: 1,444]

[TR: No Date Stamp]


I don' 'member much 'bout de sojers an' de fightin' in de war kaze I wuzn' much more den six years ole at de surrender, but I do 'member how Marse Jordan Moss shot Leonard Allen, one of his slaves. I ain't never forgot dat.

My mammy an' pappy, Silo an' Fanny Moss belonged to Marse Jordan an' Mis' Sally Moss. Dey had 'bout three hundred niggahs an' mos' of dem worked in de cotton fields.

Marse Jordan wuz hard on his niggahs. He worked dem over time an' didn' give den enough to eat. Dey didn' have good clothes neither an' dey shoes wuz made out of wood. He had 'bout a dozen niggahs dat didn' do nothin' else but make wooden shoes for de slaves. De chillun didn' have no shoes a tall; dey went barefooted in de snow an' ice same as 'twuz summer time. I never had no shoes on my feets 'twell I wuz pas' ten years ole, an' dat wuz after de Yankees done set us free.

I wuz skeered of Marse Jordan, an' all of de grown niggahs wuz too 'cept Leonard an' Burrus Allen. Dem niggahs wuzn' skeered of nothin'. If de debil hese'f had come an' shook er stick at dem dey'd hit him back. Leonard wuz er big black buck niggah; he wuz de bigges niggah I ever seed, an' Burrus wuz near 'bout as big, an' dey 'spized Marse Jordan wus'n pizen.

I wuz sort of skeered of Mis' Polly too. When Marse Jordan wuzn' 'roun' she wuz sweet an' kind, but when he wuz 'roun', she wuz er yes, suh, yes, suh, woman. Everythin' he tole her to do she done. He made her slap Marmy one time kaze when she passed his coffee she spilled some in de saucer. Mis' Sally hit Mammy easy, but Marse Jordan say: 'Hit her, Sally, hit de black bitch like she 'zerve to be hit.' Den Mis' Sally draw back her hand an' hit Mammy in de face, pow, den she went back to her place at de table an' play like she eatin' her breakfas'. Den when Marse Jordan leave she come in de kitchen an' put her arms 'roun' Mammy an' cry, an' Mammy pat her on de back an' she cry too. I loved Mis' Sally when Marse Jordan wuzn' 'roun'.

Marse Jordan's two sons went to de war; dey went all dressed up in dey fightin' clothes. Young Marse Jordan wuz jus' like Mis' Sally but Marse Gregory wuz like Marse Jordan, even to de bully way he walk. Young Marse Jordan never come back from de war, but 'twould take more den er bullet to kill Marse Gregory; he too mean to die anyhow kaze de debil didn' want him an' de Lawd wouldn' have him.

One day Marse Gregory come home on er furlo'. He think he look pretty wid his sword clankin' an' his boots shinin'. He wuz er colonel, lootenent er somethin'. He wuz struttin' 'roun' de yard showin' off, when Leonard Allen say under his breath, 'Look at dat God damn sojer. He fightin' to keep us niggahs from bein' free.'

'Bout dat time Marse Jordan come up. He look at Leonard an' say: 'What yo' mumblin' 'bout?'

Dat big Leonard wuzn' skeered. He say, I say, 'Look at dat God damn sojer. He fightin' to keep us niggahs from bein' free.'

Marse Jordan's face begun to swell. It turned so red dat de blood near 'bout bust out. He turned to Pappy an' tole him to go an' bring him dis shot gun. When Pappy come back Mis' Sally come wid him. De tears wuz streamin' down her face. She run up to Marse Jordan an' caught his arm. Ole Marse flung her off an' took de gun from Pappy. He leveled it on Leonard an' tole him to pull his shirt open. Leonard opened his shirt an' stood dare big as er black giant sneerin' at Ole Marse.

Den Mis' Sally run up again an' stood 'tween dat gun an' Leonard.

Ole Marse yell to pappy an' tole him to take dat woman out of de way, but nobody ain't moved to touch Mis' Sally, an' she didn' move neither, she jus' stood dare facin' Ole Marse. Den Ole Marse let down de gun. He reached over an' slapped Mis' Sally down, den picked up de gun an' shot er hole in Leonard's ches' big as yo' fis'. Den he took up Mis' Sally an' toted her in de house. But I wuz so skeered dat I run an' hid in de stable loft, an' even wid my eyes shut I could see Leonard layin' on de groun' wid dat bloody hole in his ches' an' dat sneer on his black mouf.

After dat Leonard's brother Burrus hated Ole Marse wus' er snake, den one night he run away. Mammy say he run away to keep from killin' Ole Marse. Anyhow, when Ole Marse foun' he wuz gone, he took er bunch of niggahs an' set out to find him. All day long dey tromped de woods, den when night come dey lit fat pine to'ches an' kept lookin', but dey couldn' find Burrus. De nex' day Ole Marse went down to de county jail an' got de blood houn's. He brung home er great passel of dem yelpin' an' pullin' at de ropes, but when he turned dem loose dey didn' find Burrus, kaze he done grease de bottom of his feets wid snuff an' hog lard so de dogs couldn' smell de trail. Ole Marse den tole all de niggahs dat if anybody housed an' fed Burrus on de sly, dat he goin' to shoot dem like he done shot Leonard. Den he went every day an' searched de cabins; he even looked under de houses.

One day in 'bout er week Mis' Sally wuz feedin' de chickens when she heard somethin' in de polk berry bushes behin' de hen house. She didn' go 'roun' de house but she went inside house an' looked through de crack. Dare wuz Burrus layin' down in de bushes. He wuz near 'bout starved kaze he hadn' had nothin' to eat since he done run away.

Mis' Sally whisper an' tole him to lay still, dat she goin' to slip him somethin' to eat. She went back to de house an' made up some more cawn meal dough for de chickens, an' under de dough she put some bread an' meat. When she went 'cross de yard she met Marse Jordan. He took de pan of dough an' say he goin' to feed de chickens. My mammy say dat Mis' Sally ain't showed no skeer, she jus' smile at Ole Marse an' pat his arm, den while she talk she take de pan an' go on to de chicken house, but Ole Marse he go too. When dey got to de hen house Ole Marse puppy begun sniffin' 'roun'. Soon he sta'ted to bark; he cut up such er fuss dat Ole Marse went to see what wuz wrong. Den he foun' Burrus layin' in de polk bushes.

Ole Marse drag Burrus out an' drove him to de house. When Mis' Sally seed him take out his plaited whip, she run up stairs an' jump in de bed an' stuff er pillow over her head.

Dey took Burrus to de whippin' post. Dey strip off his shirt, den dey put his head an' hands through de holes in de top, an' tied his feets to de bottom, den, Ole Marse took de whip. Dat lash hiss like col' water on er red hot iron when it come through de air, an' every time it hit Burrus it lef' er streak of blood. Time Ole Marse finish, Burrus' back look like er piece of raw beef.

Dey laid Burrus face down on er plank den dey poured turpentine in all dem cut places. It burned like fire but dat niggah didn' know nothin' 'bout it kaze he done passed out from pain. But, all his life dat black man toted dem scares on his back.

When de war ended Mis' Sally come to Mammy an' say: 'Fanny, I's sho glad yo's free. Yo' can go now an' yo' won' ever have to be er slave no more.'

But Mammy, she ain't had no notion of leavin' Mis' Sally. She put her arms' roun' her an' call her Baby, an' tell her she goin' to stay wid her long as she live. An' she did stay wid her. Me an' Mammy bof stayed Mis' Sally 'twell she died.

N. C. District: No. 3 [320193] Field Worker: Esther S. Pinnix Word Total: 3,199 Editor: P. G. Cross Subject: "Negro Folklore of the Piedmont". Consultants: Mrs. P. G. Cross, Miss Kate Jones, Descendants of Dr. Beverly Jones.

Sources of Information: Aunt Betty Cofer—ex-slave of Dr. Beverly Jones

[HW: Cofer]


* * * * *

The ranks of negro ex-slaves are rapidly thinning out, but, scattered here and there among the ante-bellum families of the South, may be found a few of these picturesque old characters. Three miles north of Bethania, the second oldest settlement of the "Unitas Fratrum" in Wachovia, lies the 1500 acre Jones plantation. It has been owned for several generations by the one family, descendants of Abraham Conrad. Conrad's daughter, Julia, married a physician of note, Dr. Beverly Jones, whose family occupied the old homestead at the time of the Civil War.

Here, in 1856, was born a negro girl, Betty, to a slave mother. Here, today, under the friendly protection of this same Jones family, surrounded by her sons and her sons' sons, lives this same Betty in her own little weather-stained cottage. Encircling her house are lilacs, althea, and flowering trees that soften the bleak outlines of unpainted out-buildings. A varied collection of old-fashioned plants and flowers crowd the neatly swept dooryard. A friendly German-shepherd puppy rouses from his nap on the sunny porch to greet visitors enthusiastically. In answer to our knock a gentle voice calls, "Come in." The door opens directly into a small, low-ceilinged room almost filled by two double beds. These beds are conspicuously clean and covered by homemade crocheted spreads. Wide bands of hand-made insertion ornament the stiffly starched pillow slips. Against the wall is a plain oak dresser. Although the day is warm, two-foot logs burn on the age-worn andirons of the wide brick fire place. From the shelf above dangles a leather bag of "spills" made from twisted newspapers.

In a low, split-bottom chair, her rheumatic old feet resting on the warm brick hearth, sits Aunt Betty Cofer. Her frail body stoops under the weight of four-score years but her bright eyes and alert mind are those of a woman thirty years younger. A blue-checked mob cap covers her grizzled hair. Her tiny frame, clothed in a motley collection of undergarments, dress, and sweaters, is adorned by a clean white apron. Although a little shy of her strange white visitors, her innate dignity, gentle courtesy, and complete self possession indicate long association with "quality folks."

Her speech shows a noticeable freedom from the usual heavy negro dialect and idiom of the deep south. "Yes, Ma'am, yes, Sir, come in. Pull a chair to the fire. You'll have to 'scuse me. I can't get around much, 'cause my feet and legs bother me, but I got good eyes an' good ears an' all my own teeth. I aint never had a bad tooth in my head. Yes'm, I'm 81, going on 82. Marster done wrote my age down in his book where he kep' the names of all his colored folks. Muh (Mother) belonged to Dr. Jones but Pappy belonged to Marse Israel Lash over yonder. (Pointing northwest.) Younguns always went with their mammies so I belonged to the Joneses.

"Muh and Pappy could visit back and forth sometimes but they never lived together 'til after freedom. Yes'm, we was happy. We got plenty to eat. Marster and old Miss Julia (Dr. Jones' wife, matriarch of the whole plantation) was mighty strict but they was good to us. Colored folks on some of the other plantations wasn't so lucky. Some of' em had overseers, mean, cruel men. On one plantation the field hands had to hustle to git to the end of the row at eleven o'clock dinner-time 'cause when the cooks brought their dinner they had to stop just where they was and eat, an' the sun was mighty hot out in those fields. They only had ash cakes (corn pone baked in ashes) without salt, and molasses for their dinner, but we had beans an' grits an' salt an' sometimes meat.

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