Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States
Author: Various
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

"I was lucky. Miss Ella (daughter of the first Beverly Jones) was a little girl when I was borned and she claimed me. We played together an' grew up together. I waited on her an' most times slept on the floor in her room. Muh was cook an' when I done got big enough I helped to set the table in the big dinin' room. Then I'd put on a clean white apron an' carry in the victuals an' stand behind Miss Ella's chair. She'd fix me a piece of somethin' from her plate an' hand it back over her shoulder to me (eloquent hands illustrate Miss Ella's making of a sandwich.) I'd take it an' run outside to eat it. Then I'd wipe my mouth an' go back to stand behind Miss Ella again an' maybe get another snack.

"Yes'm, there was a crowd of hands on the plantation. I mind 'em all an' I can call most of their names. Mac, Curley, William, Sanford, Lewis, Henry, Ed, Sylvester, Hamp, an' Juke was the men folks. The women was Nellie, two Lucys, Martha, Nervie, Jane, Laura, Fannie, Lizzie, Cassie, Tensie, Lindy, an' Mary Jane. The women mostly, worked in the house. There was always two washwomen, a cook, some hands to help her, two sewin' women, a house girl, an' some who did all the weavin' an' spinnin'. The men worked in the fields an' yard. One was stable boss an' looked after all the horses an' mules. We raised our own flax an' cotton an' wool, spun the thread, wove the cloth, made all the clothes. Yes'm, we made the mens' shirts an' pants an' coats. One woman knitted all the stockin's for the white folks an' colored folks too. I mind she had one finger all twisted an' stiff from holdin' her knittin' needles. We wove the cotton an' linen for sheets an' pillow-slips an' table covers. We wove the wool blankets too. I use to wait on the girl who did the weavin' when she took the cloth off the loom she done give me the 'thrums' (ends of thread left on the loom.) I tied 'em all together with teensy little knots an' got me some scraps from the sewin' room and I made me some quilt tops. Some of 'em was real pretty too! (Pride of workmanship evidenced by a toss of Betty's head.)

"All our spinnin' wheels and flax wheels and looms was hand-made by a wheel wright, Marse Noah Westmoreland. He lived over yonder. (A thumb indicates north.) Those old wheels are still in the family'. I got one of the flax wheels. Miss Ella done give it to me for a present. Leather was tanned an' shoes was made on the place. 'Course the hands mostly went barefoot in warm weather, white chillen too. We had our own mill to grind the wheat and corn an' we raised all our meat. We made our own candles from tallow and beeswax. I 'spect some of the old candle moulds are over to 'the house' now. We wove our own candle wicks too. I never saw a match 'til I was a grown woman. We made our fire with flint an' punk (rotten wood). Yes'm, I was trained to cook an' clean an' sew. I learned to make mens' pants an' coats. First coat I made, Miss Julia told me to rip the collar off, an' by the time I picked out all the teensy stitches an' sewed it together again I could set a collar right! I can do it today, too! (Again there is manifested a good workman's pardonable pride of achievement)

"Miss Julia cut out all the clothes herself for men and women too. I 'spect her big shears an' patterns an' old cuttin' table are over at the house now. Miss Julia cut out all the clothes an' then the colored girls sewed 'em up but she looked 'em all over and they better be sewed right! Miss Julia bossed the whole plantation. She looked after the sick folks and sent the doctor (Dr. Jones) to dose 'em and she carried the keys to the store-rooms and pantries. [HW: paragraph mark here.] Yes'm, I'm some educated. Muh showed me my 'a-b-abs' and my numbers and when I was fifteen I went to school in the log church built by the Moravians. They give it to the colored folks to use for their own school and church. (This log house is still standing near Bethania). Our teacher was a white man, Marse Fulk. He had one eye, done lost the other in the war. We didn't have no colored teachers then. They wasn't educated. We 'tended school four months a year. I went through the fifth reader, the 'North Carolina Reader'. I can figger a little an' read some but I can't write much 'cause my fingers 're—all stiffened up. Miss Julia use to read the bible to us an' tell us right an' wrong, and Muh showed me all she could an' so did the other colored folks. Mostly they was kind to each other.

"No'm, I don't know much about spells an' charms. Course most of the old folks believed in 'em. One colored man use to make charms, little bags filled with queer things. He called 'em 'jacks' an' sold 'em to the colored folks an' some white folks too.

"Yes'm, I saw some slaves sold away from the plantation, four men and two women, both of 'em with little babies. The traders got 'em. Sold 'em down to Mobile, Alabama. One was my pappy's sister. We never heard from her again. I saw a likely young feller sold for $1500. That was my Uncle Ike. Marse Jonathan Spease bought him and kept him the rest of his life.

"Yes'm, we saw Yankee soldiers. (Stoneman's Cavalry in 1865.) They come marchin' by and stopped at 'the house. I wasn't scared 'cause they was all talkin' and laughin' and friendly but they sure was hongry. They dumped the wet clothes out of the big wash-pot in the yard and filled it with water. Then they broke into the smokehouse and got a lot of hams and biled 'em in the pot and ate 'em right there in the yard. The women cooked up a lot of corn pone for 'em and coffee too. Marster had a barrel of 'likker' put by an' the Yankees knocked the head in an' filled their canteens. There wasn't ary drop left. When we heard the soldiers comin' our boys turned the horses loose in the woods. The Yankees said they had to have 'em an' would burn the house down if we didn't get 'em. So our boys whistled up the horses an' the soldiers carried 'em all off. They carried off ol' Jennie mule too but let little Jack mule go. When the soldiers was gone the stable boss said,'if ol' Jennie mule once gits loose nobody on earth can catch her unless she wants. She'll be back!' Sure enough, in a couple of days she come home by herself an' we worked the farm jus' with her an' little Jack.

"Some of the colored folks followed the Yankees away. Five or six of our boys went. Two of 'em travelled as far as Yadkinville but come back. The rest of 'em kep' goin' an' we never heard tell of' em again.

"Yes'm, when we was freed Pappy come to get Muh and me. We stayed around here. Where could we go? These was our folks and I couldn't go far away from Miss Ella. We moved out near Rural Hall (some 5 miles from Bethania) an' Pappy farmed, but I worked at the home place a lot. When I was about twenty-four Marse R. J. Reynolds come from Virginia an' set up a tobacco factory. He fotched some hands with 'im. One was a likely young feller, named Cofer, from Patrick County, Virginia. I liked 'im an' we got married an' moved back here to my folks.(the Jones family) We started to buy our little place an' raise a family. I done had four chillen but two's dead. I got grandchillen and great-grandchillen close by. This is home to us. When we talk about the old home place (the Jones residence, now some hundred years old) we just say 'the house' 'cause there's only one house to us. The rest of the family was all fine folks and good to me but I loved Miss Ella better'n any one or anythin' else in the world. She was the best friend I ever had. If I ever wanted for anythin' I just asked her an she give it to me or got it for me somehow. Once when Cofer was in his last sickness his sister come from East Liverpool, Ohio, to see 'im. I went to Miss Ella to borrow a little money. She didn't have no change but she just took a ten dollar bill from her purse an' says 'Here you are, Betty, use what you need and bring me what's left'.

"I always did what I could for her too an' stood by her—but one time. That was when we was little girls goin' together to fetch the mail. It was hot an' dusty an' we stopped to cool off an' wade in the 'branch'. We heard a horse trottin' an' looked up an' there was Marster switchin' his ridin' whip an' lookin' at us. 'Git for home, you two, and I'll 'tend to you,' he says, an' we got! But this time I let Miss Ella go to 'the house' alone an' I sneaked aroun' to Granny's cabin an' hid. I was afraid I'd git whupped! 'Nother time, Miss Ella went to town an' told me to keep up her fire whilst she was away. I fell asleep on the hearth and the fire done burnt out so's when Miss Ella come home the room was cold. She was mad as hops. Said she never had hit me but she sure felt like doin' it then.

"Yes'm, I been here a right smart while. I done lived to see three generations of my white folks come an' go, an' they're the finest folks on earth. There use to be a reg'lar buryin' ground for the plantation hands. The colored chillen use to play there but I always played with the white chillen. (This accounts for Aunt Betty's gentle manner and speech.) Three of the old log cabins (slave cabins) is there yet. One of 'em was the 'boys cabin'. (house for boys and unmarried men) They've got walls a foot thick an' are used for store-rooms now. After freedom we buried out around our little churches but some of th' old grounds are plowed under an' turned into pasture cause the colored folks didn't get no deeds to 'em. It won't be long 'fore I go too but I'm gwine lie near my old home an' my folks.

"Yes'm, I remember Marse Israel Lash, my Pappy's Marster. He was a low, thick-set man, very jolly an' friendly. He was real smart an' good too, 'cause his colored folks all loved 'im. He worked in the bank an' when the Yankees come, 'stead of shuttin' the door 'gainst 'em like the others did, he bid 'em welcome. (Betty's nodding head, expansive smile and wide-spread hands eloquently pantomime the banker's greeting.) So the Yankees done took the bank but give it back to 'im for his very own an' he kep' it but there was lots of bad feelin' 'cause he never give folks the money they put in the old bank. (Possibly this explains the closing of the branch of the Cape Fear Bank in Salem and opening of Israel Lash's own institution, the First National Bank of Salem, 1866.)

"I saw General Robert E. Lee, too. After the war he come with some friends to a meeting at Five Forks Baptist Church. All the white folks gathered 'round an' shook his hand an' I peeked 'tween their legs an' got a good look at' im. But he didn't have no whiskers, he was smooth-face! (Pictures of General Lee all show him with beard and mustache)

"Miss Ella died two years ago. I was sick in the hospital but the doctor come to tell me. I couldn't go to her buryin'. I sure missed her. (Poignant grief moistens Betty's eyes and thickens her voice). There wasn't ever no one like her. Miss Kate an' young Miss Julia still live at 'the house' with their brother, Marse Lucian (all children of the first Beverly Jones and 'old Miss Julia',) but it don't seem right with Miss Ella gone. Life seems dif'rent, some how, 'though there' lots of my young white folks an' my own kin livin' round an' they're real good to me. But Miss Ella's gone!

"Goodday, Ma'am. Come anytime. You're welcome to. I'm right glad to have visitors 'cause I can't get out much." A bobbing little curtsy accompanies Betty's cordial farewell.

Although a freed woman for 71 years, property owner for half of them, and now revered head of a clan of self respecting, self-supporting colored citizens, she is still at heart a "Jones negro," and all the distinguished descendants of her beloved Marse Beverly and Miss Julia will be her "own folks" as long as she lives.

N. C. District: No. 2 [320188] No. Words: 340 Worker: Mary A. Hicks Subject: Ex-slave Story Story Teller: John Coggin Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: No Date Stamp]

JOHN COGGIN. Ex-Slave Story.

An interview with John Coggin 85, of Method, N. C.

When the interviewer first visited Uncle John he was busy cutting hay for a white family nearby, swinging the scythe with the vigor of a young man. In late afternoon he was found sitting on the doorsteps of his granddaughter's house after a supper which certainly had onions on the menu and was followed by something stronger than water.

"I was borned on March 1, 1852 in Orange County. My mammy wuz named Phillis Fenn an' she wuz from Virginia. I ain't neber had no paw an' I ain't wanted none, I ain't had no brothers nar sisters nother."

"We 'longed ter Doctor Jim Leathers, an' de only whuppin' I eber got wuz 'bout fightin' wid young Miss Agnes, who wuz sommers long' bout my age. Hit wuz jist a little whuppin' but I' members hit all right."

"We wucked de fiel's, I totin' water fer de six or seben han's that wucked dar. An' we jist wucked moderate like. We had plenty ter eat an' plenty ter w'ar, do' we did go barefooted most of de year. De marster shore wuz good ter us do'."

"I 'members dat de fust I hyard of de Yankees wuz when young marster come in an' says, 'Lawd pa, de Yankees am in Raleigh.'"

"Dat ebenin' I wuz drawin' water when all of a sudden I looks up de road, an' de air am dark wid Yankees. I neber seed so many mens, hosses an' mules in my life. De band wuz playin' an' de soldiers wuz hollerin' an' de hosses wuz prancin' high. I done what all of de rest o' de slaves done, I run fer de woods."

"Atter de surrender we moved ter a place nigh Dix Hill hyar in Raleigh an' my mammy married a Coggin, dar's whar I gits my name. All of us slaves moved dar an' farmed."

"Way long time atter dat ole Marster Jim come ter visit his niggers, an' we had a big supper in his honor. Dat night he died, an' 'fore he died his min' sorta wanders an' he thinks dat hit am back in de slave days an' dat atter a long journey he am comin' back home. Hit shore wuz pitiful an' we shore did hate it."

"Yes 'um honey, we got 'long all right atter de war. You knows dat niggers ain't had no sense den, now dey has. Look at dese hyar seben chilluns, dey am my great gran'chillun an' dey got a heap mo' sense dan I has right now."


N. C. District: No. 2 [320150] Worker: Mary A. Hicks No. Words: 433 Subject: MANDY COVERSON Story Teller: Mandy Coverson Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: Date Stamp "JUN 7 1937"]


An interview with Mandy Coverson, 78, of 103 South Wilmington Street, Raleigh.

I wuz borned in Union County to Sarah an' Henderson Tomberlin. My mother belonged to Mr. Moses Coverson, an' my pappy belonged to Mr. Jackie Tom Tomberlin. I stayed wid my mammy, of course, an' Marster Moses wuz good ter me. Dey warn't so good ter my mammy, case dey makes her wuck frum sunup till sundown in de hot summertime, an' she ain't had no fun at all. She plowed two oxes, an' if'en yo' has eber been around a steer yo' knows what aggravatin' things dey is.

De oberseer, whose name I'se plumb forget, wuz pore white trash an' he wuz meaner dan de meanest nigger. Anyhow I wuz too little ter do much wuck so I played a heap an' I had a big time.

My mammy, died 'fore I wuz very old an' missus kept me in de house. I wuz petted by her, an' I reckon spoiled. Yo' knows dat den de niggers ain't neber eat no biscuits but missus always gimmie one eber meal an' in dat way she got me interested in waitin' on de table.

I wuzn't old enough ter know much, but I does 'member how de fambly hid all de valuables 'fore de Yankees come, an' dat Marster Moses in pickin' up de big brass andirons hurt his back an' dey said dat dat wuz de cause of his death a little while atterwards. Anyhow de andirons wuz saved an' dar warn't no trouble wid de Yankees who comed our way, an' dey ain't hurt nobody dar.

Dey did kill all de things dat dey could eat an' dey stold de rest of de feed stuff. Dey make one nigger boy draw water fer dere hosses fer a day an' night. De Yankees wuz mean 'bout cussin', but de southern soldiers wuz jist as bad. Wheeler's Cavalry wuz de meanest in de whole bunch, I thinks.

De Ku Kluxes wuz pretty mean, but dey picked dere spite on de Free Issues. I doan know why dey done dis 'cept dat dey ain't wantin' no niggers a-favorin' dem nigh by, now dat slavery am ober. Dey done a heap of beatin' an' chasin' folkses out'n de country but I 'specks dat de Carpet Bagger's rule wuz mostly de cause of it.

I married Daniel Coverson, a slave on de same plantation I wuz on, an' forty years ago we moved ter Raleigh. We had a hard time but I'se glad dat he an' me am free an' doan belong ter two diff'ent famblies.


N. C. District: No. 2 [320212] Worker: Mary A. Hicks No. Words: 914 Subject: Ex-Slave Story Story Teller: Willie Cozart Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: No Date Stamp]


An Interview by Mary A. Hicks with Willis Cozart of Zebulon, (Wake Co. N. C.) Age 92. May 12, 1937.

No mam, Mistress, I doan want ter ride in no automobile, thank you, I'se done walked these three miles frum Zebulon an' walkin' is what has kept me goin' all dese years.

Yes'm I'se a bachelor an' I wuz borned on June 11, 1845 in Person County. My papa wuz named Ed an' my maw wuz named Sally. Dar wuz ten of us youngins, Morris, Dallas, Stephen, Jerry, Florence, Polly, Lena, Phillis, Caroline, an' me. Mr. Starling Oakley of Person County, near Roxboro wuz my master an' as long as him an' ole mistress lived I went back ter see dem.

He wuz right good to de good niggers an' kinder strick wid de bad ones. Pusonly he ain't never have me whupped but two or three times. You's hyard 'bout dese set down strikes lately, well dey ain't de fust ones. Onct when I wuz four or five years old, too little to wuck in de fiel's, my master sot me an' some more little chilluns ter wuck pullin' up weeds roun' de house. Well, I makes a speech and I tells dem le's doan wuck none so out we sprawls on de grass under de apple tree. Atter awhile ole master found us dar, an' when he fin's dat I wuz de ring-leader he gives me a little whuppin'.

Hit wuz a big plantation, round 1,200 acres o' land, I reckon, an' he had 'bout seventy or eighty slaves to wuck de cotton, corn, tobacco an' de wheat an' vege'bles. De big house wuz sumpin to look at, but de slave cabins wuz jist log huts wid sand floors, and stick an' dirt chimneys. We wuz 'lowed ter have a little patch o' garden stuff at de back but no chickens ner pigs. De only way we had er' makin' money wuz by pickin' berries an' sellin' 'em. We ain't had much time to do dat, case we wucked frum sunup till sundown six days a week.

De master fed us as good as he knowed how, but it wuz mostly on bread, meat, an' vege'bles.

I 'members seberal slave sales whar dey sold de pappy or de mammy 'way frum de chillums an' dat wuz a sad time. Dey led dem up one at de time an' axed dem questions an' dey warn't many what wuz chained, only de bad ones, an' sometime when dey wuz travelin' it wuz necessary to chain a new gang.

I'se seed niggers beat till da blood run, an' I'se seed plenty more wid big scars, frum whuppin's but dey wuz de bad ones. You wuz whupped 'cordin ter de deed yo' done in dem days. A moderate whuppin' wuz thirty-nine or forty lashes an' a real whuppin' wuz a even hundred; most folks can't stand a real whuppin'.

Frum all dis you might think dat we ain't had no good times, but we had our co'n shuckin's, candy pullin's an' sich like. We ain't felt like huntin' much, but I did go on a few fox hunts wid de master. I uster go fishin' too, but I ain't been now since 1873, I reckon. We sometimes went ter de neighborhood affairs if'n we wuz good, but if we wuzn't an' didn't git a pass de patter-rollers would shore git us. When dey got through whuppin' a nigger he knowed he wuz whupped too.

De slave weddin's in dat country wuz sorta dis way: de man axed de master fer de 'oman an' he jist told dem ter step over de broom an' dat wuz de way dey got married dem days; de pore white folks done de same way.

Atter de war started de white folks tried ter keep us niggers frum knowin' 'bout it, but de news got aroun' somehow, an' dar wuz some talk of gittin' shet of de master's family an' gittin' rich. De plans didn't 'mout to nothin' an' so de Yankees come down.

I 'members moughty well when de Yankees come through our country. Dey stold ever'thing dey could find an' I 'members what ole master said. He says, 'Ever' one dat wants ter wuck fer me git in de patch ter pullin' dat forty acres of fodder an' all dat don't git up de road wid dem d—— Yankees.' Well we all went away.

Dat winter wuz tough, all de niggers near 'bout starved ter death, an' we ain't seed nothin' of de forty acres of land an' de mule what de Yankees done promise us nother. Atter awhile we had ter go ter our ole masters an' ax 'em fer bread ter keep us alive.

De Klu Klux Klan sprung right up out of de earth, but de Yankees put a stop ter dat by puttin' so many of dem in jail. Dey do say dat dat's what de State Prison wus built fer.

I never believed in witches an' I ain't put much stock in hain'ts but I'se seed a few things durin' my life dat I can't 'splain, like de thing wid de red eyes dat mocked me one night; but shucks I ain't believin' in dem things much. I'se plowed my lan', tended it year atter year, lived by myself an' all, an' I ain't got hurted yet, but I ain't never rid in a automobile yet, an' I got one tooth left.

B. N.

N. C. District: No. 2 [320159] Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 1453 Subject: HANNAH CRASSON Story Teller: Hannah Crasson Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: HW notes at bottom of page illegible]


My name is Hannah Crasson. I wuz born on John William Walton's plantation 4 miles from Garner and 13 miles from Raleigh, N. C. in the County of Wake. I am 84 years ole the 2nd day uv dis las' gone March. I belonged to Mr. John William Walton in slavery time. My missus wuz named Miss Martha.

My father wuz named Frank Walton. My mother wuz named Flora Walton. Grandma wuz 104 years when she died. She died down at de old plantation. My brothers were named Johnnie and Lang. My sisters were Adeline, Violet, Mary, Sarah, Ellen, and Annie. Four of us are livin', Ellen, Mary, Sarah and me.

De old boss man wuz good to us. I wuz talkin' about him the udder night. He didn't whup us and he said, he didn't want nobody else to whup us. It is jis like I tell you; he wuz never cruel to us. One uv his sons wuz cruel to us. We had a plenty to eat, we shore did, plenty to eat. We had nice houses to live in too. Grandma had a large room to live in, and we had one to live in. Daddy stayed at home with mother. They worked their patches by moonlight; and worked for the white folks in the day time.

They sold what they made. Marster bought it and paid for it. He made a barrel o' rice every year, my daddy did.

Mr. Bell Allen owned slaves too. He had a plenty o' niggers. His plantation wuz 5 miles from ourn. We went to church at the white folks church. When Mr. Bell Allen seed us cummin' he would say, 'Yonder comes John Walton's free niggers.'

Our marster would not sell his slaves. He give dem to his children when they married off do'. I swept yards, churned, fed the chickens. In de ebening I would go with my missus a fishin'. We eat collards, peas, corn bread, milk, and rice. We got biskit and butter twice a week. I thought dat de best things I ever et wuz butter spread on biskit. We had a corn mill and a flour mill on the plantation. There wuz about 24 slaves on de place. Dey had brandy made on de plantation, and de marster gib all his slaves some for dere own uses.

My grandmother and mother wove our clothes. Dey were called homespun. Dey made de shoes on de plantation too. I wuz not married til atter de surrender. I did not dress de finest in the world; but I had nice clothes. My wedding dress wuz made of cream silk, made princess with pink and cream bows. I wore a pair of morocco store bought shoes. My husband was dressed in a store bought suit of clothes, the coat wuz made pigen [HW correction: pigeon] tail. He had on a velvet vest and a white collar and tie. Somebody stole de ves' atter dat.

One of our master's daughters wuz cruel. Sometimes she would go out and rare on us, but old marster didn't want us whupped.

Our great grand mother wuz named granny Flora. Dey stole her frum Africa wid a red pocket handkerchief. Old man John William got my great grandmother. De people in New England got scured of we niggers. Dey were afrid me would rise aginst em and dey pushed us on down South. Lawd, why didn't dey let us stay whur we wuz, dey nebber wouldn't a been so menny half white niggers, but the old marster wuz to blame for that.

We never saw any slaves sold. They carried them off to sell 'em. The slaves travelled in droves. Fathers and mothers were sold from their chilluns. Chilluns wuz sold from their parents on de plantations close to us. Where we went to church, we sat in a place away from de white folks. The slaves never did run away from marster, because he wuz good to 'em; but they run away from other plantations.

Yes, we seed the patterollers, we called 'em pore white trash, we also called patterollers pore white pecks. They had ropes around their necks. They came to our house one night when we were singin' and prayin'. It wuz jist before the surrender. Dey were hired by de slave owner. My daddy told us to show 'em de brandy our marster gib us, den dey went on a way, kase dey knowed John Walton wuz a funny man about his slaves. Dey gave us Christmas and other holidays. Den dey, de men, would go to see dere wives. Some of the men's wives belong to other marsters on other plantations. We had corn shuckin's at night, and candy pullin's. Sometimes we had quiltings and dances.

One of the slaves, my aint, she wuz a royal slave. She could dance all over de place wid a tumbler of water on her head, widout spilling it. She sho could tote herself. I always luved to see her come to church. She sho could tote herself.

My oldest sister Violet died in slavery time. She wuz ten years old when she died. Her uncles were her pall bearers. Uncle Hyman and Uncle Handy carried her to the grave yard. If I makes no mistake my daddy made her coffin. Dere wuz no singin'. There were seven of the family dere, dat wuz all. Dey had no funeral. Dere were no white folks dere.

Dey baptized people in creeks and ponds.

We rode corn stalks, bent down small pine trees and rode' em for horses. We also played prison base. Colored and white played, yes sir, whites and colored. We played at night but we had a certain time to go to bed. Dat wuz nine o'clock. [HW: New paragraph indicated]

De boss man looked atter us when we wuz sick. He got doctors. I had the typhoid fever. All my hair came out. Dey called it de "mittent fever." Dr. Thomas Banks doctored me. He been dead a long time. Oh! I don't know how long he been dead. Near all my white folks were found dead. Mr. John died outside.

Walton died in bed. Marster Joe Walton died sitting under a tree side de path. Miss Hancey died in bed.

I 'member the day de war commenced. My marster called my father and my two uncles Handy and Hyman, our marster called 'em. Dey had started back to the field to work in the afternoon. He said, 'Cum here boys,' that wuz our young marster, Ben Walton, says 'cum here boys. I got sumptin' to tell you.' Uncle Hyman said, 'I can't. I got to go to work.' He said 'Come here and set down, I got sumptin' to tell you.'

The niggers went to him and set down. He told them; 'There is a war commenced between the North and the South. If the North whups you will be as free a man as I is. If the South whups you will be a slave all your days.'

Mr. Joe Walton said when he went to war dat dey could eat breakfast at home, go and whup the North, and be back far dinner. He went away, and it wuz four long years before he cum back to dinner. De table wuz shore set a long time for him. A lot of de white folks said dey wouldn't be much war, dey could whup dem so easy. Many of dem never did come back to dinner. I wuz afraid of the Yankees because Missus had told us the Yankees were going to kill every nigger in the South. I hung to my mammy when dey come through.

I thought Abraham Lincoln wuz the Medicine man, with grip in his han', cause he said every borned man must be free.

I did not think anything of Jeff Davis. I thank de will of God for setting us free. He got into Abraham Lincoln and the Yankees. We are thankful to the Great Marster dat got into Lincoln and the Yankees. Dey say Booker Washington wuz fine, I don't know.

The white folks did not allow us to have nuthing to do wid books. You better not be found, tryin' to learn to read. Our marster wuz harder down on dat den anything else. You better not be ketched wid a book. Day read the Bible and told us to obey our marster for de Bible said obey your marster.

The first band of music I ever herd play the Yankees wuz playin' it. They were playin' a song. 'I am tired of seeing de homespun dresses the southern women wear'.

I thinks Mr. Roosevelt is a fine man. Jus' what we need.

N. C. District: No. 2 [320169] Worker: Mary A. Hicks No. Words: 130 Subject: EX-SLAVE STORY Story Teller: Julia Crenshaw Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: HW circled "I"]

[TR: No Date Stamp]


As Julia Crenshaw recalled her mother's story.

My mammy wuz named Jane an' my pappy wuz named Richard. Dey belonged ter Lawyer R. J. Lewis in Raleigh, dar whar Peace Institute am ter day. Mammy said dat de white folkses wuz good ter dem an' gib 'em good food an' clothes. She wuz de cook, an' fer thirty years atter de war she cooked at Peace.

Before de Yankees come Mr. Lewis said, dat he dreamed dat de yard wuz full uv dem an' he wuz deef. When dey comed he played deef so dat he won't have ter talk ter 'em. Him he am dat proud.

Mammy said dat she ain't cared 'bout been' free case she had a good home, but atter all slavery wusn't de thing fer America.

N. C. District: No. 2 [320239] Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 1,414 Subject: ZEB CROWDER Story Teller: Zeb Crowder Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: Date Stamp "JUN 30 1937"]

ZEB CROWDER 323 E. Cabarrus Street

I wont nuthin' in slavery time and I aint nuthin' now. All de work I am able ter do now is a little work in de garden. Dey say I is too ole ter work, so charity gives me a little ter go upon every week. For one weeks 'lowance o' sumptin' ter eat dey gives me, hold on, I will show you, dat beats guessin'. Here it is: 1/2 peck meal (corn meal), 2 lbs oat meal, 2 lb dry skim milk, and 1 lb plate meat. Dis is what I gits fer one week 'lowance. I can't work much, but de white folks gib me meals fur washin' de woodwork in dere houses, de white folks in Hayes's Bottom. What little I do, I does fer him. He gives me meals for workin'. De charity gives me about 80 cts worth o' rations a week.

I wus seven years old when de Yankees come through. All de niggers 'cept me an' de white folks ran to de woods. I didn't have sense enough ter run, so I stayed on de porch where dey were passin' by. One of 'em pointed his gun at me. I remember it as well as it was yisterday. Yes sir, I seed de Yankees and I remember de clothes dey wore. Dey were blue and dere coats had capes on' em and large brass buttons. De niggers and white folks were afraid of' em. De ole house where dey came by, an' me on de porch is still standin', yes sir, and dey are livin' in it now. It belongs to Ralph Crowder, and he has a fellow by de name o' Edward, a colored man, livin' dere now. De house is de udder side o' Swift Creek, right at Rands Mill. I belonged ter ole man William Crowder durin' slavery, Tom Crowder's daddy. Ralph is Tom's son. My missus wus named Miss Melvina an' if I lives ter be a hundred years old I will never forget dem white folks. Yes sir, dey shore wus good ter us. We had good food, good clothes and a good place ter sleep.

My mother died before de war, but Miss Melvina wus so good ter us we didn't know so much difference. Mother wus de first person I remember seein' dead. When she died Miss Melvina, marster's wife, called us chillun in and says, 'Chillun your mother is dead, but anything in dis kitchen you wants ter eat go take it, but don't slip nuthin'. If you slip it you will soon be stealin' things.' I had four brothers and one sister, and none of us never got into trouble 'bout stealin'. She taught us ter let other people's things alone.

My father wus named Waddy Crowder. My mother wus named Neelie Crowder. Grandpa was named Jacob Crowder and grandma was named Sylvia Crowder. I know dem jist as good as if it wus yisterday.

Never went ter school a day in my life. I can't read an' write. Dey would not 'low slaves ter have books, no sir reee, no, dat dey wouldn't. We went wid de white folks to church; dey were good ter us, dat's de truth. Dere aint many people dat knows 'bout dem good times. Dey had a lot o' big dinners and when de white folks got through I would go up and eat all I wanted.

I 'member choppin' cotton on Clabber branch when I wus a little boy before de surrender. When de surrender come I didn't like it. Daddy an' de udders didn't like it, 'cause after de surrender dey had to pay marster fer de meat an' things. Before dat dey didn't have nuthin' to do but work. Dere were eight slaves on de place in slavery time. Clabber branch run into Swift Creek. Lord have mercy, I have caught many a fish on dat branch. I also piled brush in de winter time. Birds went in de brush ter roost. Den we went bird blindin'. We had torches made o' lightwood splinters, and brushes in our han's, we hit de piles o' brush after we got 'round 'em. When de birds come out we would kill 'em. Dere were lots o' birds den. We killed' em at night in the sage fields[5] where broom grass was thick. Dem were de good times. No sich times now. We killed robins, doves, patridges and other kinds o' birds. Dey aint no such gangs o' birds now. We briled 'em over coals o' fire and fried 'em in fryin' pans, and sometimes we had a bird stew, wid all de birds we wanted. De stew wus de bes' o' all. Dere aint no sich stews now. We put flour in de stew. It was made into pastry first, and we called it slick. When we cooked chicken wid it we called it chicken slick.

Dere were no overseers on our plantation. Marster wouldn't let you have any money on Sunday. He would not trade on Sunday. He would not handle money matters on Monday, but 'ceptin' dese two days if you went to him he would keep you. He was who a good ole man. Dat's de truf.

The Ku Klux would certainly work on you. If dey caught you out of your place dey would git wid you. I don't remember anything 'bout de Freedman's Bureau but de Ku Klux Klan was something all niggers wus scared of. Yes sir, dey would get wid you. Dats right. Ha! Ha! Dat's right.

I never seen a slave whupped, no sir, I never see a slave sold. I saw de speculators do'. I saw de patterollers, but dey didn't never whup my daddy. Dey run him one time, but dey couldn't cotch him. Marster Crowder allus give daddy a pass when he asked fer it.

I believe ole marster an' ole missus went right on ter Heaven, Yes, I do believe dat. Dat's de truf. Yes, my Lawd, I would like to see' em right now. Dere is only one o' de old crowd livin', an' dat is Miss Cora. She stays right here in Raleigh.

We used to have candy pullin's, an' I et more ash cakes den anybody. We cooked ash cakes out o' meal. We had dances in de winter time, and other plays. I played marbles an' runnin' an' jumpin' when I wus a chile. Dey give us sasafrac tea sweetened to eat wid bread. It shore wus mighty good. My father never married enny more. He settled right down after de war and farmed fer his old marster and all we chillun stayed. We didn't want ter leave, an' I would be wid 'em right now if dey wus livin'.

I got married when I wus 21 years old, and moved ter myself in a little house on de plantation. De house is standin' dere now, de house where I lived den. I seed it de udder day when I went out dere to clean off my wife's grave. I married Lula Hatcher. She died 'bout ten years ago. I married her in Georgia. I stayed dere a long time when missus' brother, Wiley Clemmons, went ter Georgia ter run turpentine an' tuck me wid him. I stayed dere till he died; an' Mr. Tom Crowder went after him an' brought him back home an' buried him at de ole home place. He is buried right dere at de Crowder place.

I have worked wid some o' de Crowders mos' all my life and I miss dem people, when one of 'em dies. Dey allus give my daddy outside patches, and he made good on it. He cleaned up seven acres, and do you know how he fenced it? Wid nuthin' but bresh. An' hogs an' cows didn't go in dere neither. We had lots o' game ter eat. Marster 'lowed my daddy ter hunt wid a gun, and he killed a lot o' rabbits, squirrels, an' game. We trapped birds an' caught rabbits in boxes. Daddy caught possums an' coons wid dogs. One o' my brothers is livin' at Garner, N. C. I am four years older den he is. From what little judgment I got I thought a right smart o' Abraham Lincoln, but I tells you de truf Mr. Roosevelt has done a lot o' good. Dats de truf. I likes him.

[Footnote 5: The Negroes call the tall grass sage.]


N. C. District: No. 2 [320243] Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 585 Subject: ADELINE CRUMP Story Teller: Adeline Crump Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

ADELINE CRUMP 526 Cannon Street

My name is Adeline Crump, and I am 73 years old. My husband's name wus James Crump. My mother's wus Marie Cotton and my father's name wus Cotton. My mother belonged to the Faucetts; Rich Faucett wus her marster. Father belonged to the Cottons; Wright Cotton wus his marster. My maiden name wus Cotton. Mother and father said they were treated all right and that they loved their white folks. They gave them patches, clothed them tolerably well, and seed that they got plenty to eat. The hours of work wus long. Nearbout everybody worked long hours then, but they said they wus not mistreated 'bout nothing. When they got sick marster got a doctor, if they wus bad off sick.

They wus allowed holidays Christmas and at lay-by time, an' they wus 'lowed to hunt possums an' coons at night an' ketch rabbits in gums. They also caught birds in traps made of splinters split from pine wood.

Mother and father had no learnin'. They would not allow them to learn to read and write. Marster wus keerful 'bout that. I cannot read an' write. My mother and father told me many stories 'bout the patterollers and Ku Klux. A nigger better have a pass when he went visitin' or if they caught him they tore up his back. The Ku Klux made the niggers think they could drink a well full of water. They carried rubber things under their clothes and a rubber pipe leadin' to a bucket o' water. The water bag helt the water they did not drink it. Guess you have heard people tell 'bout they drinking so much water.

Marster didn't have no overseers to look after his slaves. He done that hisself with the help o' some o' his men slaves. Sometimes he made 'em foreman and my mother and father said they all got along mighty fine. The colored folks went to the white folk's church and had prayer meeting in their homes.

Mother lived in the edge o' marster's yard. When the surrender come after the war they stayed on the plantation right on and lived on marster's land. They built log houses after de war cause marster let all his slaves stay right on his plantation. My mother had twenty-one chillun. She had twins five times. I was a twin and Emaline wus my sister. She died 'bout thirty years ago. She left 11 chillun when she died. I never had but four chillun. All my people are dead, I is de only one left.

Marster's plantation was 'bout six miles from Merry Oaks in Chatham County. We moved to Merry Oaks when I wus fourteen years old. I married at seventeen. I have lived in North Carolina all my life. We moved to Raleigh from Merry Oaks long time ago. My husband died here seventeen years ago. I worked after my husband died, washin' and ironin' for white folks till I am not able to work no more. Hain't worked any in fo' years. Charity don't help me none. My chillun gives me what I gits.

Slavery wus a bad thing, cause from what mother and father tole me all slaves didn't fare alike. Some fared good an' some bad. I don't know enough 'bout Abraham Lincoln an' Mr. Roosevelt to talk about 'em. No, I don't know just what to say. I sho' hopes you will quit axin' me so many things cause I forgot a lot mother and father tole me.

N. C. District: No. 2 [320232] Worker: Mary A. Hicks No. Words: 844 Subject: BILL CRUMP Person Interviewed: Bill Crump Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: No Date Stamp]

[HW: "photo"]

BILL CRUMP Ex-Slave Story

An interview with Bill Crump, 82 of State prison, Raleigh North Carolina.

I reckon dat I wus borned in Davidson County on de plantation of Mr. Whitman Smith, my mammy's marster.

My daddy wus named Tom an' he 'longed ter Mr. Ben Murry fust an' later ter Mr. Jimmy Crump. Daddy wus named atter his young marster. Dey lived in Randolph, de county next ter Davidson whar me mammy an' de rest of de chilluns, Alt, George, Harriet, Sarah, Mary an' de baby libed.

Both of de marsters wus good ter us, an' dar wus plenty ter eat an' w'ar, an' right many jubilees. We ain't none of de dozen er so of us eber got a whuppin', case we ain't desarved no whuppin'; why, dar wusn't eben a cowhide whup anywhar on de place. We wucked in de fie'ls from sunup ter sundown mos' o' de time, but we had a couple of hours at dinner time ter swim or lay on de banks uv de little crick an' sleep. Ober 'bout sundown marster let us go swim ag'in iff'en we wanted ter do it.

De marster let us have some chickens, a shoat an' a gyarden, an' 'tater patch, an' we had time off ter wuck 'em. In season we preserved our own fruits fer de winter an' so we larned not ter be so heaby on de marster's han's.

My daddy wus a fiddler, an' he sometimes played fer de dances at de Cross Roads, a little village near de marster's place. All what ain't been mean could go, but de mean ones can't, an' de rest o' us has ter habe a pass ter keep de patterollers from gittin us.

Yes mam, we had our fun at de dances, co'n chuckin's, candy pullin's, an' de gatherin's an' we sarbed de marster better by habin' our fun.

I'se seed a bunch o' slaves sold a heap of times an' I neber seed no chains on nobody. Dey jist stood dem on de table front of de post office at Cross Roads an' sol' 'em ter de one what bids de highes'.

We hyard a whisper 'bout some slaves bein' beat ter death, but I ain't neber seed a slave git a lick of no kin', course atter de war I seed de Ku Klux runnin' mean niggers.

Dar wus no marryin' on de plantation, iffen a nigger wants a 'oman he has got ter buy her or git her marster's permit, den dey am married.

When one o' de slaves wus sick he had a doctor fast as lightnin', an' when de died he wus set up wid one night. De marster would gibe de mourners a drink o' wine mebbe, an' dey'd mo'n, an' shout, an' sing all de night long, while de cop'se laid out on de coolin' board, which 'minds me of a tale.

Onct we wus settin' up wid a nigger, 'fore de war an' hit bein' a hot night de wine wus drunk an' de mo'ners wus settin' front o' de do' eatin' watermillons while de daid man laid on de coolin' board. Suddenly one of de niggers looks back in at de do', an' de daid man am settin' up on de coolin' board lookin right at him. De man what sees hit hollers, an' all de rest what has been wishin 'dat de daid man can enjoy de wine an' de watermillons am sorry dat he has comed back.

Dey doan take time ter say hit do', case dey am gone ter de big house. De marster am brave so he comes ter see, an' he says dat hit am only restrictions o' de muscles.

De nex' mornin', as am de way, dey puts de man in a pine box made by 'nother slave an' dey totes him from de cabin ter de marster's buryin' groun' at de cedars; an' de slaves bury's him while de marster an' his fambly looks on.

I doan know much 'bout de Yankees case de warn't none 'cept de skirtin' parties comed our way.

Atter de war we stays on fer four or five years mebbe, an' I goes ter school two weeks. De teacher wus Mr. Edmund Knights from de No'th.

I'se sarbed four years an' ten months of a eight ter twelve stretch fer killin' a man. Dis man an' a whole gang o' us wus at his house gamblin'. I had done quit drinkin' er mont' er so 'fore dat, but dey 'sists on hit, but I 'fuses. Atter 'while he pours some on me an' I cusses him, den he cusses me, an' he says dat he am gwine ter kill me, an' he follers me down de road. I turns roun' an' shoots him.

Dat am all of my story 'cept dat I has seen a powerful heap of ghostes an' I knows dat dey comes in white an' black, an' dat dey am in de shape er dogs, mens, an' eber'thing dat you can have a mind to.


N. C. District: No. 2. [320148] Worker: Mary A. Hicks No. Words: 652 Subject: CHARLIE CRUMP Person Interviewed: Charlie Crump Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: Date Stamp "—- 11 1937"]


An interview with Charlie Crump 82 of Cary (near)

I wuz borned at Evan's Ferry in Lee or Chatham County, an' I belonged ter Mr. Davis Abernathy an' his wife Mis' Vick. My pappy wuz named Ridge, an' my mammy wuz named Marthy. My brothers wuz Stokes an' Tucker, an' my sisters wuz Lula an' Liddy Ann. Dar wuz nine o' us in all, but some o' dem wuz sold, an' some o' dem wuz dead.

De Abernathy's wuzn't good ter us, we got very little ter eat, nothin' ter wear an' a whole lot o' whuppin's. Dey ain't had no slaves 'cept seben or eight, in fact, dey wuz pore white trash tryin' ter git rich; so dey make us wuck.

Dey wucks us from daylight till dark, an' sometimes we jist gits one meal a day. De marster says dat empty niggers am good niggers an' dat full niggers has got de debil in dem. An' we ain't 'lowed ter go nowhar at night, dat is if dey knowed it. I'se seed de time dat niggers from all ober de neighborhood gang up an' have fun anyhow, but if dey hyard de patterollers comin' gallopin' on a hoss dey'd fly. Crap shootin' wuz de style den, but a heap of times dey can't find nothin ter bet.

I toted water, case dat's all I wuz big enough ter do, an' lemmie tell yo' dat when de war wuz ober I ain't had nary a sprig of hair on my haid, case de wooden buckets what I toted on it wored it plumb off.

When we got hongry an' could fin' a pig, a calf or a chicken, no matter who it had belonged to, it den belonged ter us. We raised a heap o' cane an' we et brown sugar. Hit 's funny dat de little bit dey gibed us wuz what dey now calls wholesome food, an' hit shore make big husky niggers.

My mammy had more grit dan any gal I now knows of has in her craw. She plowed a hateful little donkey dat wuz about as hongry as she wuz, an' he wuz a cuss if'en dar eber wuz one. Mammy wuz a little brown gal, den, tough as nails an' she ain't axin' dat donkey no odds at all. She uster take him out at twelve an' start fer de house an' dat donkey would hunch up his back an' swear dat she wuzn't gwine ter ride him home. Mammy would swear dat she would, an' de war would be on. He'd throw her, but she'd git back on an' atter she'd win de fight he'd go fer de house as fast as a scaulded dog.

When we hyard dat de Yankees wuz comin' we wuz skeerd, case Marse Abernathy told us dat dey'd skin us alive. I'members hit wuz de last o' April or de fust o' May when dey comed, an' I had started fer de cane fil' wid a bucket o' water on my haid, but when I sees dem Yankees comin' I draps de bucket an' runs.

De folks thar 'bouts burnt de bridge crost de ribber, but de Yankees carried a rope bridge wid 'em, so dey crossed anyhow.

Dem Yankees tuck eber thing dat dey saw eben to our kush, what we had cooked fer our supper. Kush wuz cornmeal, onions, red pepper, salt an' grease, dat is if we had any grease. Dey killed all de cows, pigs, chickens an' stold all de hosses an' mules.

We wuz glad ter be free, an' lemmie tell yo', we shore cussed ole marster out 'fore we left dar; den we comed ter Raleigh. I'se always been a farmer an' I'se made right good. I lak de white folkses an' dey laks me but I'll tell yo' Miss, I'd ruther be a nigger any day dan to be lak my ole white folks wuz.

M. A. H. L. E.

N. C. District: No. 2 [320050] Worker: Mary Hicks No. Words: 10,018 Subject: BEFORE AND AFTER THE WAR Story Teller: MATTIE CURTIS Editor: George L. Andrews

[HW: 8/31/37]


An interview with Mattie Curtis, 98 years old, of Raleigh, North Carolina, Route # 4.

I wus borned on de plantation of Mr. John Hayes in Orange County ninety-eight years ago. Seberal of de chilluns had been sold 'fore de speculator come an' buyed mammy, pappy an' we three chilluns. De speculator wus named Bebus an' he lived in Henderson, but he meant to sell us in de tobacco country.

We come through Raleigh an' de fust thing dat I 'members good wus goin' through de paper mill on Crabtree. We traveled on ter Granville County on de Granville Tobacco path till a preacher named Whitfield buyed us. He lived near de Granville an' Franklin County line, on de Granville side.

Preacher Whitfield, bein' a preacher, wus supposed to be good, but he ain't half fed ner clothed his slaves an' he whupped 'em bad. I'se seen him whup my mammy wid all de clothes offen her back. He'd buck her down on a barrel an' beat de blood outen her. Dar wus some difference in his beatin' from de neighbors. De folks round dar 'ud whup in de back yard, but Marse Whitfield 'ud have de barrel carried in his parlor fer de beatin'.

We ain't had no sociables, but we went to church on Sunday an' dey preached to us dat we'd go ter hell alive iffen we sassed our white folks.

Speakin' 'bout clothes, I went as naked as Yo' han' till I wus fourteen years old. I wus naked like dat when my nature come to me. Marse Whitfield ain't carin', but atter dat mammy tol' him dat I had ter have clothes.

Marse Whitfield ain't never pay fer us so finally we wus sold to Mis' Fanny Long in Franklin County. Dat 'oman wus a debil iffen dar eber wus one. When I wus little I had picked up de fruit, fanned flies offen de table wid a peafowl fan an' nussed de little slave chilluns. De las' two or three years I had worked in de fiel' but at Mis' Long's I worked in de backer factory.

Yes mam, she had a backer factory whar backer wus stemmed, rolled an' packed in cases fer sellin'. Dey said dat she had got rich on sellin' chawin' terbacker.

We wus at Mis' Long's when war wus declared, 'fore dat she had been purty good, but she am a debil now. Her son am called ter de war an' he won't go. Dey comes an' arrests him, den his mammy tries ter pay him out, but dat ain't no good.

De officers sez dat he am yaller an' dat day am gwine ter shoot his head off an' use hit fer a soap gourd. De Yankees did shoot him down here at Bentonville an' Mis' Long went atter de body. De Confederates has got de body but dey won't let her have it fer love ner money. Dey laughs an' tells her how yaller he am an' dey buries him in a ditch like a dog.

Mis' Long has been bad enough fore den but atter her son is dead she sez dat she am gwine ter fight till she draps dead. De nex' day she sticks de shot gun in mammy's back an' sez dat she am gwine ter shoot her dead. Mammy smiles an' tells her dat she am ready ter go. Mis' Long turns on me an' tells me ter go ter de peach tree an' cut her ten limbs 'bout a yard long, dis I does an' atter she ties dem in a bundle she wears dem out on me at a hundret licks. Lemmie tell yo', dar wus pieces of de peach tree switches stickin' all in my bloody back when she got through.

Atter dat Mis' Long ain't done nothin' but whup us an' fight till she shore nuff wore out.

De Yankee captain come ter our place an tol' us dat de lan' was goin' ter be cut up an' divided among de slaves, dey would also have a mule an' a house apiece.

I doan know how come hit but jist 'fore de end of de war we come ter Moses Mordicia's place, right up de hill from here. He wus mean too, he'd get drunk an' whup niggers all day off' an' on. He'd keep dem tied down dat long too, sometimes from sunrise till dark.

Mr. Mordicia had his yaller gals in one quarter ter dereselves an' dese gals belongs ter de Mordicia men, dere friends an' de overseers. When a baby wus born in dat quarter dey'd sen' hit over ter de black quarter at birth. Dey do say dat some of dese gal babies got grown an' atter goin' back ter de yaller quarter had more chilluns fer her own daddy or brother. De Thompson's sprung from dat set an' dey say dat a heap of dem is halfwits fer de reason dat I has jist tol' yo'. Dem yaller wimen wus highfalutin' too, dey though [HW correction: thought] dey wus better dan de black ones.

Has yo' ever wondered why de yaller wimen dese days am meaner dan black ones 'bout de men? Well dat's de reason fer hit, dere mammies raised dem to think 'bout de white men.

When de Yankees come dey come an' freed us. De woods wus full of Rebs what had deserted, but de Yankees killed some of dem.

Some sort of corporation cut de land up, but de slaves ain't got none of it dat I ever heard about.

I got married before de war to Joshua Curtis. I loved him too, which is more dam most folks can truthfully say. I always had craved a home an' a plenty to eat, but freedom ain't give us notin' but pickled hoss meat an' dirty crackers, an' not half enough of dat.

Josh ain't really care 'bout no home but through dis land corporation I buyed dese fifteen acres on time. I cut down de big trees dat wus all over dese fields an' I milled out de wood an' sold hit, den I plowed up de fields an' planted dem. Josh did help to build de house an' he worked out some.

All of dis time I had nineteen chilluns an' Josh died, but I kep' on an' de fifteen what is dead lived to be near 'bout grown, ever one of dem.

Right atter de war northern preachers come around wid a little book a-marrying slaves an' I seed one of dem marry my pappy an' mammy. Atter dis dey tried to find dere fourteen oldest chilluns what wus sold away, but dey never did find but three of dem.

But you wants ter find out how I got along. I'll never fergit my first bale of cotton an' how I got hit sold. I wus some proud of dat bale of cotton, an' atter I had hit ginned I set out wid hit on my steercart fer Raleigh. De white folks hated de nigger den, 'specially de nigger what wus makin' somethin' so I dasen't ax nobody whar de market wus.

I thought dat I could find de place by myself, but I rid all day an' had to take my cotton home wid me dat night 'case I can't find no place to sell hit at. But dat night I think hit over an' de nex' day I goes' back an' axes a policeman 'bout de market. Lo an' behold chile, I foun' hit on Blount Street, an' I had pass by hit seberal times de day before.

I done a heap of work at night too, all of my sewin' an' such an' de piece of lan' near de house over dar ain't never got no work 'cept at night. I finally paid fer de land. Some of my chilluns wus borned in de field too. When I wus to de house we had a granny an' I blowed in a bottle to make de labor quick an' easy.

Dis young generation ain't worth shucks. Fifteen years ago I hired a big buck nigger to help me shrub an' 'fore leben o'clock he passed out on me. You know 'bout leben o'clock in July hit gits in a bloom. De young generation wid dere schools an dere divorcing ain't gwine ter git nothin' out of life. Hit wus better when folks jist lived tergether. Dere loafin' gits dem inter trouble an' dere novels makes dem bad husban's an' wives too.


By Miss Nancy Woodburn Watkins [320227] Rockingham County Madison, North Carolina

[TR: No. Words: 1,165]

Ex-Slave Biography—Charles Lee Dalton, 93.

In July, 1934, the census taker went to the home of Unka Challilee Dalton and found that soft talking old darky on the porch of his several roomed house, a few hundred feet south of the dirt road locally called the Ayersville road because it branches from the hard surfaced highway to Mayodan at Anderson Scales' store, a short distance from Unka Challilie's. Black got its meaning from his face, even his lips were black, but his hair was whitening. His lean body was reclining while the white cased pillows of his night bed sunned on a chair. His granddaughter kept house for him the census taker learned. Unka Challilie said: "I'se got so I ain't no count fuh nuthin. I wuz uh takin' me a nap uh sleepin' (' AM). Dem merry-go-wheels keep up sich a racket all nite, sech a racket all nite, ah cyan't sleep." This disturbance was "The Red Wolfe Medicine Troop of Players and Wheels" near Anderson Scales' store in the forks of the Mayodan and the Ayresville roads.

In 1937 in the home of his son, Unka Challilie ninety-three, told the cause of his no "countness." "I wuz clean-up man in de mill in Mayodan ontill three years ago, I got too trimbly to git amongst de machinery. Daze frade I'd fall and git cut."

I cum tuh Madison forty-five yeah ago, and I bought one acre, and built me a house on it, an' razed my leben chillun dyah. My wife was Ellen Irving of Reidsville. We had a cow, pigs, chickens, and gyardum of vegetables to hope out what I got paid at de mill.

Nome I nevah learned to read an write. Ounct I thought mebbe I'd git sum lunnin but aftah I got married, I didn't think I would.

My old Marse wuz Marse Lee Dalton and I stayed on his plantation till forty-five years ago when I cum tuh Madison. His place wuz back up dyah close tuh. Mt. Herman Church. Nome we slaves ain't learn no letters, but sumtimes young mistis' 'd read de Bible tuh us. Day wuz pretty good tuh us, but sumtimes I'd ketch uh whippin'. I wuz a hoe boy and plow man. My mothers' name wuz Silvia Dalton and my daddy's name wuz Peter Dalton. Day belonged to Marse Lee and his wife wuz Miss Matilda Steeples (Staples). Marse Lee lived on Beaver Island Creek at the John Hampton Price place. Mr. Price bought it. He married Miss Mollie Dalton, Marse Lee's daughter. Dyah's uh ole graveyard dyah whah lots uh Daltons is buried but no culled fokes. Day is buried to the side uh Stoneville wiff no white fokes a-tall berried dyah. De ole Daltons wuz berried on de Ole Jimmy Scales plantation. Day bought hit, an little John Price what runs uh tuhbaccah warehouse in Madison owns hit now. (1937) His tenant is Marse Walt Hill, an hits five miles frum Madison. I knose whah de old Deatherage graveyard is, too, up close to Stoneville whah sum Daltons is berried. Ole Marse Lee's mother was a Deatherage.

Ole Marse was kind to us, an' I stayed on his plantation an' farmed till I kum to Madison. Dee Yankees, day didn't giv us nuthin so we had kinduh to live off'n old Marse.

Fuh ayteen yuz I kin member ah de Mefodis Church byah in Madison. I wuzn't converted unduh de Holiness preachment uh James Foust but duh de revival of Reverend William Scales. William didn't bare much lunnin. His wife wuz Mittie Scales an huh mother wuz Chlocy Scales, sister to Tommie Scales, de shoemaker, what died lase summuh (July, 1936). William jes wanted so much tuh preach, and Mittie hoped him. I'se been uh class leader, an uh stewart, an uh trustee in de church. It's St. Stephen's and de new brick church was built in 1925, an Mistuh John Wilson's son wrote uh peace uh bout hit in de papuh. De fuss chuch wuz down dyah cross de street fum Jim Foust's "tabernacle." But de fuss cullud chuch in Madison wuz a Union chuch over dyah by de Presbyterian graveyard whah now is de Gyartuh factry. An' Jane Richardson wuz de leader.

Yess'm I got so no count, I had to cum live with mah son, Frank Dalton. Frank married Mattie Cardwell. You remembuh Mary Mann? She married Anderson Cardwell. Day's bofe dade long time. Days berried jess up hyuh at Mayodan whah Mr. Bollin's house is on and dem new bungyloes is on top um, too. Uh whole lots uh cullud people berried in dah with de slaves of Ole Miss Nancy (Watkins) Webster on till de Mayo Mills got started and day built Mayhodan at de Mayo Falls. An' dat's whah my daughter-in-law's folks is berried.

My leben chillun—Frank, one died in West Virginia; Cora married Henry Cardwell; Hattie married Roy Current and bafe ob dem in Winston; Della married Arthur Adkins, an' Joe, an' George an' Perry an' Nathaniel Dalton, an'.

Yes'm mah daughter-in-law has de writings about de brick chuch, dem whut started hit, an' she'll put it out whah she can git hit fuh you easy, when you coun back fuh hit.

Nome, up at Marse Lee Dalton's fob de s'renduh us slaves didn't nevuh go tuh chuch. But young Miss'ud read de Bible to us sometimes.

Here in the five room, white painted cottage of his son, Frank, Unka Challilie is kindly cared for by his daughter-in-law, Mattie. A front porch faces the Mayodan hard road a few doors from the "coppubration line." A well made arch accents the entrance to the front walk. A climbing rose flourishes on the arch. Well kept grass with flowers on the edges show Mattie's love. At the right side is the vegetable garden, invaded by several big domineckuh chickens. A kudzu vine keeps out the hot west sun. Unka Challilie sits on the front porch and nods to his friends [HW: , or] else back in the kitchen, he sits and watches Mattie iron after he has eaten his breakfast. Several hens come on the back porch and lay in boxes there. One is "uh settin" fuh fried chicken later! A walnut tree, "uh white wawnut", waves its long dangly green blooms as the leaves are half grown in the early May. Well dressed, clean, polite, comforted with his religion, but very "trimbly" even on his stout walking stick, Unka Challilie often dozes away his "no countness" with "uh napuh sleepin" while the mad rush of traffic and tourist wheels stir the rose climbing over the entrance arch. An ex-slave who started wiff nuffin de Yankees gave him, who lived on his old Marse's place ontil he wuz forty-eight, who cleaned the Mayo Mills ontill he wuz too trimbly to get amongst de machinery, who raised eleven children on an acre of red Rockingham county hillside, faces the next move with plenty to eat, wear, plenty time to take a nap uh sleepin.

N. C. District: No. 2 [320281] Worker: Mary A. Hicks No. Words: 386 Subject: JOHN DANIELS Story Teller: John Daniels Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: No Date Stamp]

JOHN DANIELS Ex-Slave Story [HW: (?)]

I'se named fer my pappy's ole massa down in Spartanburg, South Carolina, course I doan know nothin' 'bout no war, case I warn't borned. I does 'member seein' de ole 'big house' do', maybe you want me ter tell you how hit looked?

It wuz a big white two-story house at de end uv a magnolia lane an' a-settin' in a big level fiel'. Back o' de big house wuz de ole slave cabins whar my folks uster live.

Dey said dat de massa wuz good ter 'em, but dat sometimes in de mo'nin' dey jist has lasses an' co'nbread fer breakfas'.

I started ter tell you 'bout de Joe Moe do'.

You mebbe doan know hit, but de prisoners hyar doan git de blues so bad if de company comes on visitin' days, an' de mail comes reg'lar. We's always gittin' up somepin' ter have a little fun, so somebody gits up de Joe Moe.

Yo' sees dat when a new nigger comes in he am skeerd an' has got de blues. Somebody goes ter cheer him up an' dey axes him hadn't he ruther be hyar dan daid. Yo' see he am moughty blue den, so mebbe he says dat he'd ruther be daid; den dis feller what am tryin' ter cheer him tells him dat all right he sho' will die dat [HW correction: 'cause] he's got de Joe Moe put on him.

Seberal days atter dis de new nigger fin's a little rag full of somepin twix de bed an' mattress an' he axes what hit am. Somebody tells him dat hit am de Joe Moe, an' dey tells him dat de only way he can git de spell off am ter git de bag off on somebody else. Ever'body but him knows' bout hit so de Joe Moe keeps comin' back till a new one comes in an' he l'arns de joke.

Talkin' 'bout ghostes I wants ter tell you dat de air am full of 'em. Dar's a strip from de groun' 'bout four feet high which am light on de darkes' night, case hit can't git dark down dar. Git down an' crawl an' yo'll see a million laigs of eber' kin' an' if'en you lis'ens you'll hyar a little groanin' an' den you has gone through a warm spot.

B. N.

N. C. District: No. 2 [320186] Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 725 Subject: HARRIET ANN DAVES Story Teller: Harriet Ann Daves Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: No Date Stamp]

HARRIET ANN DAVES 601 E. Cabarrus Street

My full name is Harriet Ann Daves, I like to be called Harriet Ann. If my mother called me when she was living, I didn't want to answer her unless she called me Harriet Ann. I was born June 6, 1856. Milton Waddell, my mother's marster was my father, and he never denied me to anybody.

My mother was a slave but she was white. I do not know who my mother's father was. My mother was Mary Collins. She said that her father was an Indian. My mother's mother was Mary Jane Collins, and she was white—maybe part Indian. My grandfather was old man William D. Waddell, a white man. I was born in Virginia near Orange Courthouse. The Waddells moved to Lexington, Missouri, after I was born. I guess some of the family would not like it if they knew I was telling this. We had good food and a nice place to live. I was nothing but a child, but I know, and remember that I was treated kindly. I remember the surrender very well. When the surrender came my grandfather came to mother and told her: 'Well, you are as free as I am.' That was William D. Waddell. He was one of the big shots among the white folks.

My white grandmother wanted mother to give me to her entirely. She said she had more right to me than my Indian grandmother that she had plenty to educate and care for me. My mother would not give me to her, and she cried. My mother gave me to my Indian grandmother. I later went back to my mother.

While we were in Missouri some of my father's people, a white girl, sent for me to come up to the great house. I had long curls and was considered pretty. The girl remarked, 'Such a pretty child' and kissed me. She afterwards made a remark to which my father who was there, my white father, took exception telling her I was his child and that I was as good as she was. I remember this incident very distinctly.

My mother had two children by the same white man, my father. The other was a girl. She died in California. My father never married. He loved my mother, and he said if he could not marry Mary he did not want to marry. Father said he did not want any other woman. My father was good to me. He would give me anything I asked him for. Mother would make me ask him for things for her. She said it was no harm for me to ask him for things for her which she could not get unless I asked him for them. When the surrender came my mother told my father she was tired of living that kind of a life, that if she could not be his legal wife she wouldn't be anything to him, so she left and went to Levenworth, Kansas. She died there in 1935. I do not know where my father is, living or dead, or what became of him.

I can read and write well. They did not teach us to read and write in slavery days. I went to a school opened by the Yankees after the surrender.

I went with my mother to Levenworth, Kansas. She sent me to school in Flat, Nebraska. I met my husband there. My first husband was Elisha Williams; I ran away from school in Flat, and married him. He brought me to Raleigh. He was born and raised in Wake County. We lived together about a year when he died July 1st, 1872. There was one child born to us which died in infancy.

I married the second time Rufus H. Daves in 1875. He was practically a white man. He wouldn't even pass for a mulatto. He used to belong to the Haywoods. He died in 1931 in Raleigh.

I think Abraham Lincoln was a fine, conscientious man; my mother worshipped him, but he turned us out without anything to eat or live on. I don't think Mr. Roosevelt is either hot or cold—just a normal man.


N. C. District: No. 2 [320257] Worker: Mary A. Hicks No. Words: 429 Subject: JERRY DAVIS Story Teller: Jerry Davis Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: Date Stamp "JUN 26 1937"]

JERRY DAVIS Ex-Slave Story and Folk Tale

An interview with Jerry Davis 74 of 228 E. South Street, Raleigh, North Carolina.

I wus borned in Warren County ter Mataldia an' Jordan Davis. Dere wus twenty-two o' us chilluns, an' natu'ally Marster Sam Davis laked my mammy an' daddy. He owned two hundert an' sebenty slaves, an' three, four, or five scopes o' lan'.

Marster wus good ter us, he gibe us plenty ter eat, an' w'ar, an' he wus good an' kind in his talkin'. I warn't big 'nuff ter do much 'sides min' de chickens, an' sich lak.

I doan 'member so much 'bout de Yankees comin' 'cept sein' dem, an' dat dey gibe my pappy a new blue overcoat an' dat I slep' on it onct er twict. I knows dat de Yankees wus good ter de niggers but dey warn't so good ter de ole Issues. Dey did 'stroy most eber'thing do'.

I can't 'member, but I'se hyard my mammy tell o' dances, co'n shuckin's, wrestlin' matches, candy pullin's an' sich things dat wus had by de slaves dem days.

My pappy tol' me 'bout de cock fights in de big pits at Warrenton an' how dat when de roosters got killed de owner often gibe de dead bird ter him. I'se also hyard him tell 'bout de hoss races an' 'bout Marster Sam's fine hosses.

I knows dat de marster an' missus wus good case my mammy an' daddy 'sisted on stayin' right on atter de war, an' so dey died an' was buried dar on Marster Sam's place.

I wucked in de Dupont Powder plant durin' de World War but I wus discharged case I had acid injury.

Yessum, I'll tell you de only rale ole tale dat I knows an' dat am de story' bout——Jack.


Onct dar wus a white man down in Beaufort County what owned a nigger named Jack. Dis man owned a boat an' he was fer ever more goin' boat ridin', fer days an' nights. He larned Jack how ter steer an' often he'd go ter sleep leavin' Jack at de wheel, wid 'structions ter steer always by de seben stars.

One night as Jack steered for his master to sleep, Jack suddenly fell asleep too. When he awake it wuz jist at de crack of dawn so no stars wus dar.

Jack went flyin' ter de marster hollerin', 'please sur marster, hang up some mo' stars, I done run by dem seben'.


Onct Jack an' de debil got inter a 'spute 'bout who can throw a rock de ferderest. De debil sez dat he can throw a rock so fur dat hit won't come down in three days.

Iffen you can throw a rock furder dan dat, sez de debil, I'll give you yer freedom.

De debil chunks a rock an' hit goes up an' stays fer three days. When hit comes down Jack picks hit up an' he 'lows, 'Good Lawd, move de stars an' de moon case dar's a rock comin' ter heaben'.

De debil sez, 'Iffen you can do dat den you can beat me case I can't throw a rock in a mile o' heaben'.


N. C. District: No. 2 [320240] Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 1025 Subject: A Slave Story Story Teller: W. S. Debnam Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: Date Stamp "JUN 30 1937"]

W. SOLOMON DEBNAM. 701 Smith Street.

Yes, I remember the Yankees coming to Raleigh. I don't know very much about those times, I was so young, but I remember the Yankees all right in their blue clothes; their horses, and so on. I'll be 78 years old the 8th of this comin' September an' I've heard mother an' father talk about slavery time a whole lot. We belonged to T. R. Debnam at Eagle Rock, Wake County. His wife was named Priscilla Debnam. My father was named Daniel Debnam an' my mother was named Liza Debnam. My master had several plantations an' a lot of slaves. I don't know how many, but I know he had 'em. He fed us well; we had a good place to sleep. We had wove clothes, enough to keep us warm. He treated me just like he had been my father. I didn't know the difference. Marster an' missus never hit me a lick in their lives. My mother was the house girl. Father tended business around the house an' worked in the field sometimes. Our houses were in marster's yard. The slave quarters were in the yard of the great house. I don't remember going to church until after the surrender.

I remember the corn shuckin's, but not the Christmas and the fourth of July holidays. They had a lot of whiskey at corn shuckin's and good things to eat.

I heard pappy talk of patterollers, but I do not know what they were. Pappy said he had to have a pass to visit on, or they would whip him if they could ketch him. Sometimes they could not ketch a nigger they were after. Yes, they taught us to say pappy an' mammy in them days.

I remember the coon and possum hunts an' the rabbits we caught in gums. I remember killin' birds at night with thorn brush. When bird blindin' we hunt 'em at night with lights from big splinters. We went to grass patches, briars, and vines along the creeks an' low groun's where they roosted, an' blinded 'em an' killed 'em when they come out. We cooked 'em on coals, and I remember making a stew and having dumplings cooked with 'em. We'd flustrate the birds in their roostin' place an' when they come out blinded by the light we hit 'em an' killed 'em with thorn brush we carried in our han's.

Marster had a gran'son, the son of Alonza Hodge an' Arabella Hodge, 'bout my age an' I stayed with him most of the time. When Alonza Hodge bought his son anything he bought for me too. He treated us alike. He bought each of us a pony. We could ride good, when we were small. He let us follow him. He let us go huntin' squirrels with him. When he shot an' killed a squirrel he let us race to see which could get him first, while he laughed at us.

I didn't sleep in the great house. I stayed with this white boy till bed time then my mammy come an' got me an' carried me home. When marster wanted us boys to go with him he would say, 'Let's go boys,' an' we would follow him. We were like brothers. I ate with him at the table. What they et, I et. He made the house girl wait on me just like he an' his son was waited on.

My father stayed with marster till he died, when he was 63 an' I was 21; we both stayed right there. My white playmate's name was Richard Hodge. I stayed there till I was married. When I got 25 years old I married Ida Rawlson. Richard Hodge became a medical doctor, but he died young, just before I was married.

They taught me to read an' write. After the surrender I went to free school. When I didn't know a word I went to old marster an' he told me.

During my entire life no man can touch my morals, I was brought up by my white folks not to lie, steal or do things immoral. I have lived a pure life. There is nothing against me.

I remember the Yankees, yes sir, an' somethings they done. Well, I remember the big yeller gobler they couldn't ketch. He riz an' flew an' they shot him an' killed him. They went down to marster's store an' busted the head outen a barrel o' molasses an' after they busted the head out I got a tin bucket an' got it full o' molasses an' started to the house. Then they shoved me down in the molasses. I set the bucket down an' hit a Yankee on the leg with a dogwood stick. He tried to hit me. The Yankees ganged around him, an' made him leave me alone, give me my bucket o' molasses, an' I carried it on to the house. They went down to the lot, turned out all the horses an' tuck two o' the big mules, Kentucky mules, an' carried 'em off. One of the mules would gnaw every line in two you tied him with, an' the other could not be rode. So next morning after the Yankees carried 'em off they both come back home with pieces o' lines on 'em. The mules was named, one was named Bill, an' the other Charles. You could ride old Charles, but you couldn't ride old Bill. He would throw you off as fast as you got on 'im.

After I was married when I was 25 years old I lived there ten years, right there; but old marster had died an' missus had died. I stayed with his son Nathaniel; his wife was named Drusilla.

I had five brothers, Richard, Daniel, Rogene, Lorenzo, Lumus and myself. There wont places there for us all, an' then I left. When I left down there I moved to Raleigh. The first man I worked fer here was George Marsh Company, then W. A. Myatt Company an' no one else. I worked with the Myatt Company twenty-six years; 'till I got shot.

It was about half past twelve o'clock. I was on my way home to dinner on the 20th of December, 1935. When I was passing Patterson's Alley entering Lenoir Street near the colored park in the 500 block something hit me. I looked around an' heard a shot. The bullet hit me before I heard the report of the pistol. When hit, I looked back an' heard it. Capt. Bruce Pool, o' the Raleigh Police force, had shot at some thief that had broken into a A&P Store an' the bullet hit me. It hit me in my left thigh above the knee. It went through my thigh, a 38 caliber bullet, an' lodged under the skin on the other side. I did not fall but stood on one foot while the blood ran from the wound. A car came by in about a half hour an' they stopped an' carried me to St. Agnes Hospital. It was not a police car. I stayed there a week. They removed the bullet, an' then I had to go to the hospital every day for a month. I have not been able to work a day since. I was working with W. A. Myatt Company when I got shot. My leg pains me now and swells up. I cannot stand on it much. I am unable to do a day's work. Can't stand up to do a day's work. The city paid me $200.00, an' paid my hospital bill.

Abraham Lincoln was all right. I think slavery was wrong because birds an' things are free an' man ought to have the same privilege.

Franklin Roosevelt is a wonderful man. Men would have starved if he hadn't helped 'em.

N. C. District: No. 3 [320199] Worker: Travis Jordan Subject: SARAH DEBRO EX-SLAVE 90 YEARS Durham, N. C.

[TR: Date Stamp "JUL 24 1937"]


I was bawn in Orange County way back some time in de fifties.

Mis Polly White Cain an' Marse Docter Cain was my white folks. Marse Cain's plantation joined Mistah Paul Cameron's land. Marse Cain owned so many niggers dat he didn' know his own slaves when he met dem in de road. Sometimes he would stop dem an' say: 'Whose niggers am you?' Dey'd say, 'We's Marse Cain's niggers.' Den he would say, 'I'se Marse Cain,' and drive on.

Marse Cain was good to his niggers. He didn' whip dem like some owners did, but if dey done mean he sold dem. Dey knew dis so dey minded him. One day gran'pappy sassed Mis' Polly White an' she told him dat if he didn' 'have hese'f dat she would put him in her pocket. Gran'pappy wuz er big man an' I ax him how Mis' Polly could do dat. He said she meant dat she would sell him den put de money in her pocket. He never did sass Mis' Polly no more.

I was kept at de big house to wait on Mis' Polly, to tote her basket of keys an' such as dat. Whenever she seed a chile down in de quarters dat she wanted to raise be hand, she took dem up to do big house an' trained dem. I wuz to be a house maid. De day she took me my mammy cried kaze she knew I would never be 'lowed to live at de cabin wid her no more Mis' Polly was big an' fat an' she made us niggers mind an' we had to keep clean. My dresses an' aprons was starched stiff. I had a clean apron every day. We had white sheets on de beds an' we niggers had plenty to eat too, even ham. When Mis' Polly went to ride she took me in de carriage wid her. De driver set way up high an' me an' Mis' Polly set way down low. Dey was two hosses with shiney harness. I toted Mis' Polly's bag an' bundles, an' if she dropped her hank'chief I picked it up. I loved Mis' Polly an' loved stayin' at de big house.

I was 'bout wais' high when de sojers mustered. I went wid Mis' Polly down to de musterin' fiel' whare dey was marchin'. I can see dey feets now when dey flung dem up an' down, sayin', hep, hep. When dey was all ready to go an' fight, de women folks fixed a big dinner. Aunt Charity an' Pete cooked two or three days for Mis' Polly. De table was piled wid chicken, ham, shoat, barbecue, young lam', an'all sorts of pies, cakes an' things, but nobody eat nothin much. Mis' Polly an' de ladies got to cryin.' De vittles got cold. I was so sad dat I got over in de corner an' cried too. De men folks all had on dey new sojer clothes, an' dey didn' eat nothin neither. Young Marse Jim went up an' put his arm 'roun' Mis' Polly, his mammy, but dat made her cry harder. Marse Jim was a cavalry. He rode a big hoss, an' my Uncle Dave went wid him to de fiel' as his body guard. He had a hoss too so if Marse Jim's hoss got shot dare would be another one for him to ride. Mis' Polly had another son but he was too drunk to hold a gun. He stayed drunk.

De first cannon I heard skeered me near 'bout to death. We could hear dem goin' boom, boom. I thought it was thunder, den Mis Polly say, 'Lissen, Sarah, hear dem cannons? Dey's killin' our mens.' Den she 'gun to cry.

I run in de kitchen whare Aunt Charity was cookin an' tole her Mis' Polly was cryin. She said: 'She ain't cryin' kaze de Yankees killin' de mens; she's doin' all dat cryin' kaze she skeered we's goin' to be sot free.' Den I got mad an' tole her Mis' Polly wuzn' like dat.

I 'members when Wheelers Cavalry come through. Dey was 'Federates but dey was mean as de Yankees. Dey stold everything dey could find an' killed a pile of niggers. Dey come 'roun' checkin'. Dey ax de niggahs if dey wanted to be free. If dey say yes, den dey shot dem down, but if dey say no, dey let dem alone. Dey took three of my uncles out in de woods an' shot dey faces off.

I 'members de first time de Yankees come. Dey come gallupin' down de road, jumpin' over de palin's, tromplin' down de rose bushes an' messin' up de flower beds. Dey stomped all over de house, in de kitchen, pantries, smoke house, an' everywhare, but dey didn' find much, kaze near 'bout everything done been hid. I was settin' on de steps when a big Yankee come up. He had on a cap an' his eyes was mean.

'Whare did dey hide do gol' an silver, Nigger?' he yelled at me.

I was skeered an my hands was ashy, but I tole him I didn' nothin' 'bout nothin; dat if anybody done hid things dey hid it while I was sleep.

'Go ax dat ole white headed devil,' he said to me.

I got mad den kaze he was tawkin' 'bout Mis' Polly, so I didn' say nothin'. I jus' set. Den he pushed me off de step an' say if I didn' dance he gwine shoot my toes off. Skeered as I was, I sho done some shufflin'. Den he give me five dollers an' tole me to go buy jim cracks, but dat piece of paper won't no good. 'Twuzn nothin' but a shin plaster like all dat war money, you couldn' spend it.

Dat Yankee kept callin' Mis' Polly a white headed devil an' said she done ramshacked 'til dey wuzn' nothin' left, but he made his mens tote off meat, flour, pigs, an' chickens. After dat Mis' Polly got mighty stingy wid de vittles an' de didn' have no more ham.

When de war was over de Yankees was all 'roun' de place tellin' de niggers what to do. Dey tole dem dey was free, dat dey didn' have to slave for de white folks no more. My folks all left Marse Cain an' went to live in houses dat de Yankees built. Dey wuz like poor white folks houses, little shacks made out of sticks an' mud wid stick an' mud chimneys. Dey wuzn' like Marse Cain's cabins, planked up an' warm, dey was full of cracks, an' dey wuzn' no lamps an' oil. All de light come from de lightwood knots burnin' in de fireplace.

One day my mammy come to de big house after me. I didn' want to go, I wanted to stay wid Mis' Polly. I 'gun to cry an' Mammy caught hold of me. I grabbed Mis' Polly an' held so tight dat I tore her skirt bindin' loose an' her skirt fell down 'bout her feets.

'Let her stay wid me,' Mis' Polly said to Mammy.

But Mammy shook her head. 'You took her away from me an' didn' pay no mind to my cryin', so now I'se takin' her back home. We's free now, Mis' Polly, we ain't gwine be slaves no more to nobody.' She dragged me away. I can see how Mis' Polly looked now. She didn' say nothin' but she looked hard at Mammy an' her face was white.

Mammy took me to de stick an' mud house de Yankees done give her. It was smoky an' dark kaze dey wuzn' no windows. We didn' have no sheets an' no towels, so when I cried an' said I didn' want to live on no Yankee house, Mammy beat me an' made me go to bed. I laid on de straw tick lookin' up through de cracks in de roof. I could see de stars, an' de sky shinin' through de cracks looked like long blue splinters stretched 'cross de rafters. I lay dare an' cried kaze I wanted to go back to Mis' Polly.

I was never hungry til we waz free an' de Yankees fed us. We didn' have nothin to eat 'cept hard tack an' middlin' meat. I never saw such meat. It was thin an' tough wid a thick skin. You could boil it allday an' all night an' it wouldn' cook dome, I wouldn' eat it. I thought 'twuz mule meat; mules dat done been shot on de battle field den dried. I still believe 'twuz mule meat.

One day me an' my brother was lookin' for acorns in de woods. We foun' sumpin' like a grave in de woods. I tole Dave dey wuz sumpin' buried in dat moun'. We got de grubbin hoe an' dug. Dey wuz a box wid eleven hams in dat grave. Somebody done hid it from de Yankees an' forgot whare dey buried it. We covered it back up kaze if we took it home in de day time de Yankees an' niggers would take it away from us. So when night come we slipped out an' toted dem hams to de house an' hid dem in de loft.

Dem was bad days. I'd rather been a slave den to been hired out like I was, kaze I wuzn' no fiel' hand, I was a hand maid, trained to wait on de ladies. Den too, I was hungry most of de time an' had to keep fightin' off dem Yankee mens. Dem Yankees was mean folks.

We's come a long way since dem times. I'se lived near 'bout ninety years an' I'se seen an' heard much. My folks don't want me to talk 'bout slavery, day's shame niggers ever was slaves. But, while for most colored folks freedom is de bes, dey's still some niggers dat out to be slaves now. Dese niggers dat's done clean forgot de Lawd; dose dat's always cuttin' an' fightin' an' gwine in white folks houses at night, dey ought to be slaves. Dey ought to have an' Ole Marse wid a whip to make dem come when he say come, an' go when he say go, 'til dey learn to live right.

I looks back now an' thinks. I ain't never forgot dem slavery days, an' I ain't never forgot Mis' Polly an' my white starched aprons.

N. C. District: No. 2 [320147] Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 805 Subject: CHARLES W. DICKENS Story Teller: Charles W. Dickens Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[HW note: 26]

[TR: Date Stamp "JUN 11 1937"]

CHARLES W. DICKENS 1115 East Lenoir Street

My name is Charles W. Dickens. I lives at 1115 East Lenoir Street, Raleigh, North Carolina, Wake County. I wuz born August 16, 1861, de year de war started. My mother wuz named Ferebee Dickens. My father wuz named John Dickens. I had nine sisters and brothers. My brothers were named Allen, Douglas, my name [HW: question mark above "my name"], Jake, Johnnie and Jonas. The girls Katie, Matilda Francis, and Emily Dickens.

My grandmother wuz named Charity Dickens. My grandfather wuz Dudley T. Dickens. I do not know where dey came from. No, I don't think I do. My mother belonged to Washington Scarborough, and so did we chilluns. My father he belonged to Obediah Dickens and missus wuz named Silvia Dickens. Dey lowed mother to go by the name of my father after dey wuz married.

We lived in log houses and we had bunks in 'em. Master died, but I 'member missus wuz mighty good to us. We had tolerable fair food, and as fur as I know she wuz good to us in every way. We had good clothing made in a loom, that is de cloth wuz made in de loom. My father lived in Franklin County. My mother lived in Wake County. I 'member hearin' father talk about walkin' so fur to see us. There wuz about one dozen slaves on de plantation. Dere were no hired overseers. Missus done her own bossing. I have heard my father speak about de patterollers, but I never seed none. I heard him say he could not leave the plantation without a strip o' something.

No, sir, the white folks did not teach us to read and write. My mother and father, no sir, they didn't have any books of any kind. We went to white folk's church. My father split slats and made baskets to sell. He said his master let him have all de money he made sellin' de things he made. He learned a trade. He wuz a carpenter. One of the young masters got after father, so he told me, and he went under de house to keep him from whuppin' him. When missus come home she wouldn't let young master whup him. She jist wouldn't 'low it.

I 'members de Yankees comin' through. When mother heard they were comin', she took us chillun and carried us down into an ole field, and after that she carried us back to the house. Missus lived in a two-story house. We lived in a little log house in front of missus' house. My mother had a shoulder of meat and she hid it under a mattress in the house. When the Yankees lef, she looked for it; they had stole the meat and gone. Yes, they stole from us slaves. The road the Yankees wuz travellin' wuz as thick wid' em as your fingers. I 'member their blue clothes, their blue caps. De chickens they were carrying on their horses wuz crowing. Dey wuz driving cows, hogs, and things. Yes sir, ahead of 'em they come first. The barns and lots were on one side de road dey were trabellin' on and de houses on de other. Atter many Yankees had passed dey put a bodyguard at de door of de great house, and didn't 'low no one to go in dere. I looked down at de Yankees and spit at 'em. Mother snatched me back, and said, 'Come back here chile, dey will kill you.'

Dey carried de horses off de plantation and de meat from missus' smokehouse and buried it. My uncle, Louis Scarborough, stayed wid de horses. He is livin' yet, he is over a hundred years old. He lives down at Moores Mill, Wake County, near Youngsville. Before de surrender one of de boys and my uncle got to fightin', one of de Scarborough boys and him. My uncle threw him down. The young Master Scarborough jumped up, and got his knife and cut uncle's entrails out so uncle had to carry 'em to de house in his hands. About a year after de war my father carried us to Franklin County. He carried us on a steer cart. Dat's about all I 'member about de war.

Abraham Lincoln wuz de man who set us free. I think he wuz a mighty good man. He done so much for de colored race, but what he done was intended through de higher power. I don't think slavery wuz right.

I think Mr. Roosevelt is a fine man, one of the best presidents in the world. I voted for him, and I would vote for him ag'in. He has done a lot for de people, and is still doin'. He got a lot of sympathy for 'em. Yas sir, a lot of sympathy for de people.


N. C. District: No. 2 [320184] Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 655 Subject: MARGARET E. DICKENS Story Teller: Margaret E. Dickens Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: Date Stamp "JUN 11 1937"]

MARGARET E. DICKENS 1115 E. Lenoir St.

My name is Margaret E. Dickens and I was born on the 5th of June 1861. My mother wuz free born; her name wuz Mary Ann Hews, but my mother wuz colored. I don't remember anything about Marster and Missus. My father was named Henry Byrd. Here is some of father's writing. My mother's father was dark. He had no protection. If he did any work for a white man and the white man didn't like it, he could take him up and whup him. My father was like a stray dog.

My name was Margaret E. Byrd before I got married. Here is some of father's writing—"Margaret Elvira Byrd the daughter of Henry and Mary Ann Byrd was born on the 5th June 1861." My grandfather, my mother's father was a cabinet maker. He made coffins and tables and furniture. If he made one, and it didn't suit the man he would beat him and kick him around and let him go. Dis was told to me. My father was a carpenter. He built houses.

I can read and write. My father could read and write. My mother could read, but couldn't write very much.

I have heerd my mother say when she heerd the Yankees were commin' she had a brand new counterpane, my father owned a place before he married my mother, the counterpane was a woolen woven counterpane. She took it off and hid it. The Yankees took anything they wanted, but failed to find it. We were living in Raleigh, at the time, on the very premises we are living on now. The old house has been torn down, but some of the wood is in this very house. I kin show you part of the old house now. My mother used to pass this place when she wuz a girl and she told me she never expected to live here. She was twenty years younger than my father. My mother, she lived here most of the time except twenty-four years she lived in the North. She died in 1916. My father bought the lan' in 1848 from a man named Henry Morgan. Here is the deed.[6]

When we left Raleigh, and went North we first stopped in Cambridge, Mass. This was with my first husband. His name was Samuel E. Reynolds. He was a preacher. He had a church and preached there. The East winds were so strong and cold we couldn't stan' it. It was too cold for us. We then went to Providence, R. I. From there to Elmira, N. Y. From there we went to Brooklyn, N. Y. He preached in the State of New York; we finally came back South, and he died right here in this house. I like the North very well, but there is nothing like home, the South. Another thing I don't have so many white kin folks up North. I don't like to be called Auntie by anyone, unless they admit bein' kin to me. I was not a fool when I went to the North, and it made no change in me. I was raised to respect everybody and I tries to keep it up. Some things in the North are all right, I like them, but I like the South better. Yes, I guess I like the South better. I was married to Charles W. Dickens in 1920. He is my second husband.

I inherited this place from my father Henry Byrd. I like well water. There is my well, right out here in the yard. This well was dug here when they were building the first house here. I believe in havin' your own home, so I have held on to my home, and I am goin' to try to keep holdin' on to it.

[Footnote 6: An interesting feature of the deed is the fact that Henry Morgan made his mark while Henry Byrd's signature is his own.]

N. C. District: No. 2 [320156] Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 1369 Subject: REV. SQUIRE DOWD Story Teller: Rev. Squire Dowd Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

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