Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States
Author: Various
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After the battle of Fort Fisher, we was on our way to Aspinwal. Layin' off one day at Navassa Island, the Mast Head reported a strange sail. 'Where away?' 'Just ahead'. 'She seems to be a three mast steamer!' 'Which way headed?' We decided it was the Alabama going to St. Nicholas Mole, West Indies.

Our Captain called the officers together an' held a meetin'. Says he: 'We'll go under one bell (slow). Lieutenant will go ashore an' get some information.' When we got there she had a coal schooner alongside taking on coal. Our Captain prepared to capture her when she came out. But she did'n come out 'til night. She dodged. Good thing too. She'd a knocked hells pete out o' us. She was close to the water and could have fought us so much better than we could her. We didn't want to fight 'cause we knowed enough to jest natu'ally be skeered. She was a one decker man o' war. We was a two decker with six guns on berth deck, an' five guns on spar deck. I never saw her after that, but I heard she was contacted by the Kearsage which sunk her off some island.

I stayed in the navy eighteen months. Was discharged at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Admiral Porter was Admiral of the U. S. Navy at that time.

I stayed in New York five or six years, then I cane home to my mother. I was in the crude drug business in Wilmington for twenty years.

Yes'm I went to church and Sunday school when I was a child, when they could ketch me. Whilst I was in New York I went to church regular.

I married after awhile. My wife died about ten years ago. We had one son. I b'lieve he's in Baltimore, but I ain't heard from him in a long time. He don't keer nothin' about me. Of co'se I'm comfortable. I gits my pension, $75 a month. I give $10 of it to my nephew who's a cripple.

N. C. District: No. 2 [320124] Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 645 Subject: CHARLIE H. HUNTER Story Teller: C. H. Hunter Editor: Geo. L. Andrews

[TR: Date Stamp "AUG 4 1937"]

CHARLIE H. HUNTER, 80 years old, 2213 Barker Street West Raleigh

My full name is Charlie H. Hunter. I wus borned an' reared in Wake County, N. C., born May, 1857. My mother wus Rosa Hunter an' my father wus named Jones. I never saw my father. We belonged to a family named Jones first, an' then we wus sold to a slave owner seven miles Northwest by the name Joe Hayes an' a terrible man he wus. He would get mad 'bout most anything, take my mother, chain her down to a log and whup her unmercifully while I, a little boy, could do nothing but stan' there an' cry, an' see her whupped. We had fairly good food an' common clothing. We had good sleeping places. My mother wus sold to a man named Smith. I married first Annie Hayes who lived sixteen months.

No prayer meetings wus allowed on de plantations an' no books of any kind. I can read an' write, learned in a school taught by Northern folks after the surrender, Mr. an' Mrs. Graves who taught in Raleigh in the rear of the African Methodist Episcopal church. The school house wus owned by the church. We played no games in slavery times. I saw slaves sold on the block once in Raleigh.

I wus to be sold but the surrender stopped it. When the Yankees come they asked me where wus my marster. I told them I didn't know. Marster told me not to tell where he wus. He had gone off into the woods to hide his silver. In a few minutes the ground wus covered with Yankees. The Yankees stole my pen knife. I thought a lot of it. Knives wus scarce and hard to get. I cried about they taking it. They got my marster's carriage horses, two fine gray horses. His wife had lost a brother, who had been in the army but died at home. He wus buried in the yard. The Yankees thought the grave wus a place where valuables wus buried and they had to get a guard to keep them from diggin' him up. They would shoot hogs, cut the hams and shoulders off, stick them on their bayonetts, throw them over the'r shoulders an' go on.

We called our houses shanties in slavery time. I never saw any patterollers. I don't remember how many slaves on the plantation wus taken to Richmond an' sold. My mother looked after us when we wus sick. I had four brothers an' no sisters. They are all dead. I did house work an' errands in slavery time. I have seen one gang of Ku Klux. They wus under arrest at Raleigh in Governor Holden's time. I don't remember the overseer.

We moved to Raleigh at the surrender. Marster give us a old mule when we left him, an' I rode him into Raleigh. We rented a house on Wilmington Street, an' lived on hard tack the Yankees give us 'til we could git work.

Mother went to cooking for the white folks, but I worked for Mr. Jeff Fisher. I held a job thirty-five years driving a laundry truck for L. R. Wyatt. The laundry wus on the corner of Jones an' Salisbury Street.

I married Cenoro Freeman. We lived together fifty-six years. She wus a good devoted wife. We wus married Dec. 9, 1878. She died in May 1934. [HW: bracket] Booker T. Washington wus a good man. I have seen him. Abraham Lincoln wus one of my best friends. He set me free. The Lawd is my best friend. I don't know much 'bout Jefferson Davis. Jim Young an' myself wus pals.

My object in joining the church wus to help myself an' others to live a decent life, a life for good to humanity an' for God.

N. C. District: No. 2 [320154] Worker: Mary A. Hicks No. Words: 670 Subject: EX-SLAVE STORY Story Teller: Elbert Hunter Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: Date Stamp "JUN 1 1937"]


An interview on May 19, 1937 with Elbert Hunter of Method, N. C., 93 years old.

I wuz borned eight miles from Raleigh on de plantation of Mr. Jacob Hunter in 1844. My parents were Stroud and Lucy an' my brothers wuz Tom, Jeems an' Henderson. I had three sisters who wuz named Caroline, Emiline an' Ann.

Massa Hunter wuz good to us, an' young Massa Knox wuz good too. My mammy wuz de cook an' my pappy wuz a field hand. Massa ain't 'lowed no patterollers on his place, but one time when he wuzn't ter home my mammy sent me an' Caroline ter de nex' door house fer something an' de patterollers got us. Dey carried us home an' 'bout de time dat dey wuz axin' questions young Massa Knox rid up.

He look dem over an' he sez, 'Git off dese premises dis minute, yo' dad-limb sorry rascals, if us needs yo' we'll call yo'. 'My pappy patterolls dis place hisself.'

Dey left den, an' we ain't been bothered wid 'em no more.

I toted water 'fore de war, minded de sheeps, cows and de geese; an' I ain't had many whuppin's neither. Dar wuz one thing dat massa ain't 'low an' dat wuz drinkin' 'mong his niggers.

Dar wuz a ole free issue named Denson who digged ditches fer massa an' he always brung long his demijohn wid his whiskey. One ebenin' Missus tells me an' Caroline ter go ter de low groun's an' git up de cows an' on de way we fin' ole man Denson's demijohn half full of whiskey. Caroline sez ter lets take er drink an' so we does, an' terreckly I gits wobbly in de knees.

Dis keeps on till I has ter lay down an' when I wakes up I am at home. Dey says dat Massa Jacob totes me, an' dat he fusses wid Denson fer leavin' de whiskey whar I can fin' it. He give me a talkin' to, an' I ain't neber drunk no more.

When we hyard dat de Yankees wuz comin' ole massa an' me takes de cattle an' hosses way down in de swamp an' we stays dar wid dem fer seberal days. One day I comes ter de house an' dar dey am, shootin' chickens an' pigs an' everthing. I'se seed dem cut de hams off'n a live pig or ox an' go off leavin' de animal groanin'. De massa had 'em kilt den, but it wuz awful.

Dat night dey went away but de nex' day a bigger drove come an' my mammy cooked fer 'em all day long. Dey killed an' stold ever'thing, an' at last ole massa went to Raleigh an' axed fer a gyard. Atter we got de gyard de fuss ceased. One of de officers what spent de night dar lost his pocket book an' in it wuz seven greenback dollars, de fust I eber seed.

We wuz glad ter be free even do' we had good white folks. De wuck hours wuz frum daybreak till dark, an' de wimmens had ter card an' spin so much eber night. We had our own chickens an' gyarden an' little ways of makin' money, but not so much fun.

We played cat, which wuz like base ball now, only different. De children played a heap but de grown folks wucked hard. De cruelest thing I eber seed wuz in Raleigh atter slavery time, an' dat wuz a nigger whuppin'.

De pillory wuz whar de co'rthouse am now an' de sheriff, Mr. Ray whupped dat nigger till he bled.

I neber seed a slave sale, an' I neber seed much whuppin's. I larned some long wid de white chilluns, 'specially how ter spell.

No mam, I doan know nothin' 'bout witches, but I seed a ghos'. Hit wuz near hyar, an' hit wuz a animal as big as a yearlin' wid de look of a dog. I can't tell you de color of it case I done left frum dar.

B. N.


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