Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States
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A Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves


Illustrated with Photographs


[Transcriber's Note: Obvious printer errors have been corrected. In some instances Transcriber's notes (TR) are included with each individual interview, as well as some Handwritten Notes (HW) from the original were maintained but as notation only. In addition, punctuation and formatting have been made consistent, particularly the use of quotation marks. Added two lines to list of illustrations missing from original.]




Prepared by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of North Carolina


Adams, Louisa 1 Adkins, Ida 8 Allen, Martha 13 Anderson, Joseph 16 Anderson, Mary 19 Andrews, Cornelia 27 Anngady, Mary 32 Arrington, Jane 44 Augustus, Sarah Louis 50 Austin, Charity 58

Baker, Blount 63 Baker, Lizzie 66 Baker, Viney 70 Barbour, Charlie 73 Barbour, Mary 78 Baugh, Alice 82 Beckwith, John 87 Bectom, John C. 91 Bell, Laura 99 Blalock, Emma 103 Blount, David 110 Bobbit, Clay 117 Bobbitt, Henry 120 Bogan, Herndon 125 Boone, Andrew 130 Bost, W. L. 138 Bowe, Mary Wallace 147 Brown, Lucy 152 Burnett, Midge 155

Cannady, Fanny 159 Cofer, Betty 165 Coggin, John 176 Coverson, Mandy 179 Cozart, Willie 182 Crasson, Hannah 187 Crenshaw, Julia 194 Crowder, Zeb 196 Crump, Adeline 203 Crump, Bill 207 Crump, Charlie 212 Curtis, Mattie 216

Dalton, Charles Lee 223 Daniels, John 229 Daves, Harriet Ann 232 Davis, Jerry 237 Debnam, W. S. 241 Debro, Sarah 247 Dickens, Charles W. 254 Dickens, Margaret E. 259 Dowd, Rev. Squire 263 Dunn, Fannie 270 Dunn, Jennylin 275 Dunn, Lucy Ann 278 Durham, Tempie Herndon 284

Eatman, George 291 Edwards, Doc 295 Evans, John 298

Faucette, Lindsey 302 Flagg, Ora M. 307 Foster, Analiza 311 Foster, Georgianna 314 Freeman, Frank 318

Gill, Addy 323 Glenn, Robert 328 Green, Sarah Anne 340 Griffeth, Dorcas 346 Gudger, Sarah 350

Hall, Thomas 359 Hamilton, Hecter 363 Harris, George W. 370 Harris, Sarah 375 Hart, Cy 379 Haywood, Alonzo 382 Haywood, Barbara 385 Henderson, Isabell 389 Henry, Essex 393 Henry, Milly 399 Hews, Chaney 405 High, Joe 409 High, Susan 417 Hill, Kitty 422 Hinton, Jerry 427 Hinton, Martha Adeline 433 Hinton, Robert 436 Hinton, William George 441 Hodges, Eustace 446 Huggins, Alex 449 Hunter, Charlie H. 453 Hunter, Elbert 457


Facing page Louisa Adams 1

Viney Baker 70

John Beckwith 87

Clay Bobbit 117

Henry Bobbitt 120

Herndon Bogan 125

W. L. Bost 138

John Coggin 176

Hannah Crasson 187

Bill Crump 207

Charlie Crump and Granddaughter 212

Harriet Ann Daves 232

Charles W. Dickens 254

Margaret E. Dickens 259

Rev. Squire Dowd 263

Jennylin Dunn 275

Tempie Herndon Durham 284

George Eatman 291

John Evans 298

Sarah Gudger 350

Sarah Harris 375

Essex Henry 393

Milly Henry 399

Joe High 409

Elbert Hunter 457

N. C. District: No. 2 [320152] Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 1384 Subject: Louisa Adams Person Interviewed: Louisa Adams Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: Date Stamp "JUL 7 1937"]


My name is Louisa Adams. I wuz bawned in Rockingham, Richmond County, North Carolina. I wuz eight years old when the Yankees come through. I belonged to Marster Tom A. Covington, Sir. My mother wuz named Easter, and my father wuz named Jacob. We were all Covingtons. No Sir, I don't know whur my mother and father come from. Soloman wuz brother number one, then Luke, Josh, Stephen, Asbury. My sisters were Jane, Frances, Wincy, and I wuz nex'. I 'members grandmother. She wuz named Lovie Wall. They brought her here from same place. My aunts were named, one wuz named Nicey, and one wuz named Jane. I picked feed for the white folks. They sent many of the chillun to work at the salt mines, where we went to git salt. My brother Soloman wuz sent to the salt mines. Luke looked atter the sheep. He knocked down china berries for 'em. Dad and mammie had their own gardens and hogs. We were compelled to walk about at night to live. We were so hongry we were bound to steal or parish. This trait seems to be handed down from slavery days. Sometimes I thinks dis might be so. Our food wuz bad. Marster worked us hard and gave us nuthin. We had to use what we made in the garden to eat. We also et our hogs. Our clothes were bad, and beds were sorry. We went barefooted in a way. What I mean by that is, that we had shoes part of the time. We got one pair o' shoes a year. When dey wored out we went barefooted. Sometimes we tied them up with strings, and they were so ragged de tracks looked like bird tracks, where we walked in the road. We lived in log houses daubed with mud. They called 'em the slaves houses. My old daddy partly raised his chilluns on game. He caught rabbits, coons, an' possums. We would work all day and hunt at night. We had no holidays. They did not give us any fun as I know. I could eat anything I could git. I tell you de truth, slave time wuz slave time wid us. My brother wore his shoes out, and had none all thu winter. His feet cracked open and bled so bad you could track him by the blood. When the Yankees come through, he got shoes.

I wuz married in Rockingham. I don't 'member when Mr. Jimmie Covington, a preacher, a white man, married us. I married James Adams who lived on a plantation near Rockingham. I had a nice blue wedding dress. My husband wuz dressed in kinder light clothes, best I rickerlect. It's been a good long time, since deen [HW: den] tho'.

I sho do 'member my Marster Tom Covington and his wife too, Emma. Da old man wuz the very nick.[HW correction: Nick] He would take what we made and lowance us, dat is lowance it out to my daddy after he had made it. My father went to Steven Covington, Marster Tom's brother, and told him about it, and his brother Stephen made him gib father his meat back to us.

My missus wuz kind to me, but Mars. Tom wuz the buger. It wuz a mighty bit plantation. I don't know how many slaves wuz on it, there were a lot of dem do'. Dere were overseers two of 'em. One wuz named Bob Covington and the other Charles Covington. They were colored men. I rode with them. I rode wid 'em in the carriage sometimes. De carriage had seats dat folded up. Bob wuz overseer in de field, and Charles wuz carriage driver. All de plantation wuz fenced in, dat is all de fields, wid rails; de rails wuz ten feet long. We drawed water wid a sweep and pail. De well wuz in the yard. De mules for the slaves wuz in town, dere were none on the plantation. Dey had 'em in town; dey waked us time de chicken crowed, and we went to work just as soon as we could see how to make a lick wid a hoe.

Lawd, you better not be caught wid a book in yor han'. If you did, you were sold. Dey didn't 'low dat. I kin read a little, but I can't write. I went to school after slavery and learned to read. We didn't go to school but three or four week a year, and learned to read.

Dere wuz no church on the plantation, and we were not lowed to have prayer meetings. No parties, no candy pullings, nor dances, no sir, not a bit. I 'member goin' one time to the white folkses church, no baptizing dat I 'member. Lawd have mercy, ha! ha! No. De pateroller were on de place at night. You couldn't travel without a pas.

We got few possums. I have greased my daddy's back after he had been whupped until his back wuz cut to pieces. He had to work jis the same. When we went to our houses at night, we cooked our suppers at night, et and then went to bed. If fire wuz out or any work needed doin' around de house we had to work on Sundays. They did not gib us Christmas or any other holidays. We had corn shuckings. I herd 'em talkin' of cuttin de corn pile right square in two. One wud git on one side, another on the other side and see which out beat. They had brandy at the corn shuckin' and I herd Sam talkin' about gittin' drunk.

I 'member one 'oman dying. Her name wuz Caroline Covington. I didn't go to the grave. But you know they had a little cart used with hosses to carry her to the grave, jist a one horse wagon, jist slipped her in there.

Yes, I 'member a field song. It wuz 'Oh! come let us go where pleasure never dies. Great fountain gone over'. Dat's one uv 'em. We had a good doctor when we got sick. He come to see us. The slaves took herbs dey found in de woods. Dat's what I do now, Sir. I got some 'erbs right in my kitchen now.

When the Yankees come through I did not know anything about 'em till they got there. Jist like they were poppin up out of de ground. One of the slaves wuz at his master's house you know, and he said, 'The Yankees are in Cheraw, S. C. [HW correction: South Carolina] and the Yankees are in town'. It didn't sturb me at tall. I wuz not afraid of de Yankees. I 'member dey went to Miss Emma's house, and went in de smoke house and emptied every barrel of 'lasses right in de floor and scattered de cracklings on de floor. I went dere and got some of 'em. Miss Emma wuz my missus. Dey just killed de chickens, hogs too, and old Jeff the dog; they shot him through the thoat. I 'member how his mouth flew open when dey shot him. One uv 'em went into de tater bank, and we chillun wanted to go out dere. Mother wouldn't let us. She wuz fraid uv 'em.

Abraham Lincoln freed us by the help of the Lawd, by his help. Slavery wuz owin to who you were with. If you were with some one who wuz good and had some feelin's for you it did tolerable well; yea, tolerable well.

We left the plantation soon as de surrender. We lef' right off. We went to goin' towards Fayetteville, North Carolina. We climbed over fences and were just broke down chillun, feet sore. We had a little meat, corn meal, a tray, and mammy had a tin pan. One night we came to a old house; some one had put wheat straw in it. We staid there, next mornin', we come back home. Not to Marster's, but to a white 'oman named Peggy McClinton, on her plantation. We stayed there a long time. De Yankees took everything dey could, but dey didn't give us anything to eat. Dey give some of de 'omen shoes.

I thinks Mr. Roosevelt is a fine man and he do all he can for us.

District No: 3 [320278] Worker: Travis Jordan No. Words: 1500 Title: Ida Adkins Ex-slave Interviewed: Ida Adkins County Home, Durham, N. C.

[TR: Date Stamp "JUN 1 1937"]


Ex-slave 79 years.

[TR note: Numerous hand written notations and additions in the following interview (i.e. wuz to was; er to a; adding t to the contractions.) Made changes where obvious without comment. Additions and comments were left as notation, in order to preserve the flow of the dialect.]

I wuz bawn befo' de war. I wuz about eight years ole when de Yankee mens come through.

My mammy an' pappy, Hattie an' Jim Jeffries belonged to Marse Frank Jeffries. Marse Frank come from Mississippi, but when I wuz bawn he an' Mis' Mary Jane wuz livin' down herr near Louisburg in North Carolina whare dey had er big plantation an' [HW addition: I] don' know how many niggers. Marse Frank wuz good to his niggers, 'cept [HW addition: that] he never give dem ernough to eat. He worked dem hard on half rations, but he didn' believe in all de time beatin' an' sellin' dem.

My pappy worked at de stables, he wuz er good horseman, but my mammy worked at de big house helpin' Mis' Mary Jane. Mammy worked in de weavin' room. I can see her now settin' at de weavin' machine an' hear de pedals goin' plop, plop, as she treaded dem wid her feets. She wuz a good weaver. I stayed 'roun' de big house too, pickin' up chips, sweepin' de yard an' such as dat. Mis' Mary Jane wuz quick as er whippo'-will. She had black eyes dat snapped, an' dey seed everythin'. She could turn her head so quick dat she'd ketch you every time you tried to steal a lump of sugar. I liked Marse Frank better den I did Mis' Mary Jane. All us little chillun called him Big Pappy. Every time he went [HW correction: come back] to Raleigh he brung us niggers back some candy. He went to Raleigh erbout twice er year. Raleigh wuz er far ways from de plantations—near 'bout sixty miles. [HW notation: check—appears to be about 40 miles only.] It always took Marse Frank three days to make de trip. A day to go, er' day to stay in town, an' a day to come back. Den he always got home in de night. Ceptn' [HW addition: when] he rode ho'se back 'stead of de carriage, [HW addition: an'] den sometimes he got home by sun down.

Marse Frank didn' go to de war. He wuz too ole. So when de Yankees come through dey foun' him at home. When Marse Frank seed de blue coats comin' down de road he run an' got his gun. De Yankees was on horses. I ain't never seed so many men. Dey was thick as hornets comin' down de road in a cloud of dus' [HW: correction "dust"]. Dey come up to de house an' tied de horses to de palin's; [HW correction: dey was so many dey was stan] 'roun' de yard [HW addition: fence]. When dey seed Marse Frank standin' on de po'ch [HW correction: porch] wid de gun leveled on dem, dey got mad. Time Marse Frank done shot one time [HW correction: "once a"] a bully Yankee snatched de gun away an' tole Marse Frank to hold up his hand. Den dey tied his hands an' pushed him down on de floor 'side de house an' tole him dat if he moved [HW addition: a inch] dey would shoot him. Den dey went in de house.

I wuz skeered near 'bout to death, but I run in de kitchen an' got a butcher knife, an' when de Yankees wasn' lookin', I tried to cut de rope an' set Marse Frank free. But one of dem blue debils seed me an' come runnin'. He say:

'Whut you doin', you black brat! you stinkin' little alligator bait!' He snatched de knife from my hand an' told me to stick out my tongue, dat he wuz gwine to cut it off. I let out a yell an' run behin' de house.

Some of de Yankees was in de smoke house gettin' de meat, some of dem wuz at de stables gettin' de ho'ses, an' some of dem wuz in de house gettin' de silver an' things. I seed dem put de big silver pitcher an' tea pot in a bag. Den dey took de knives an' fo'ks an' all de candle sticks an' platters off de side board. Dey went in de parlor an' got de gol' clock dat wuz Mis' Mary Jane's gran'mammy's. Den dey got all de jewelry out of Mis' Mary Jane's box.

Dey went up to Mis' Mary Jane, an' while she looked at dem wid her black eyes snappin', dey took de rings off her fingers; den dey took her gol' bracelet; dey even took de ruby ear rings out of her ears an' de gol' comb out of her hair.

I done quit peepin' in de window an' wuz standin' 'side de house when de Yankees come out in de yard wid all de stuff dey wuz totin' off. Marse Frank wuz still settin' on de po'ch [HW correction: porch] floor wid his han's tied an' couldn' do nothin'. 'Bout dat time I seed de bee gums in de side yard. Dey wuz a whole line of gums. Little as I wuz I had a notion. I run an' got me a long stick an' tu'ned over every one of dem gums. Den I stirred dem bees up wid dat stick 'twell [HW correction: 'till] dey wuz so mad I could smell de pizen. An' bees! you ain't never seed de like of bees. Dey wuz swarmin' all over de place. Dey sailed into dem Yankees like bullets, each one madder den de other. Dey lit on dem ho'ses 'twell [HW correction: till] dey looked like dey wuz live [HW correction: alive] wid varmints. De ho'ses broke dey bridles an' tore down de palin's an' lit out down de road. But dey [HW correction: dar] runnin' wuzn' nothin' to what dem Yankees done. Dey bust out cussin', but what did a bee keer about cuss words! Dey lit on dem blue coats an' every time dey lit dey stuck in a pizen sting. De Yankee's forgot all about de meat an' things dey done stole; dey took off down de road on er [HW correction: a] run, passin' de horses. De bees was right after dem in a long line. Dey'd zoom an' zip, an' zoom an' zip, an' every time dey'd zip a Yankee would yell.

When dey'd gone Mis' Mary Jane untied Marse Frank. Den dey took all de silver, meat an' things de Yankees lef' behin' an' buried it so if dey come back dey couldn' fin' it.

Den day called ma an' said:

'Ida Lee, if you hadn't tu'ned [HW correction: turned] over dem bee gums dem Yankees would have toted off near 'bout everythin' fine we got. We want to give you somethin' you can keep so' you'll always remember dis day, an' how you run de Yankees away.'

Den Mis' Mary Jane took a plain gold ring off her finger an' put it on mine. An' I been wearin' it ever since.

N. C. District: No. 2 [320276] Worker: Mary A. Hicks No. Words: 402 Subject: Ex-Slave Story Person Interviewed: Martha Allen Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: Date Stamp "JUN 7 1937"]

[HW: good short sketch]


An interview with Martha Allen, 78, of 1318 South Person Street, Raleigh.

I wuz borned in Craven County seventy eight years ago. My pappa wuz named Andrew Bryant an' my mammy wuz named Harriet. My brothers wuz John Franklin, Alfred, an' Andrew. I ain't had no sisters. I reckon dat we is what yo' call a general mixture case I am part Injun, part white, an' part nigger.

My mammy belonged ter Tom Edward Gaskin an' she wuzn't half fed. De cook nussed de babies while she cooked, so dat de mammies could wuck in de fiel's, an' all de mammies done wuz stick de babies in at de kitchen do' on dere way ter de fiel's. I'se hyard mammy say dat dey went ter wuck widout breakfast, an' dat when she put her baby in de kitchen she'd go by de slop bucket an' drink de slops from a long handled gourd.

De slave driver wuz bad as he could be, an' de slaves got awful beatin's.

De young marster sorta wanted my mammy, but she tells him no, so he chunks a lightwood knot an' hits her on de haid wid it. Dese white mens what had babies by nigger wimmens wuz called 'Carpet Gitters'. My father's father wuz one o' dem.

Yes mam, I'se mixed plenty case my mammy's grandmaw wuz Cherokee Injun.

I doan know nothin' 'bout no war, case marster carried us ter Cedar Falls, near Durham an' dar's whar we come free.

I 'members dat de Ku Klux uster go ter de Free Issues houses, strip all de family an' whup de ole folkses. Den dey dances wid de pretty yaller gals an' goes ter bed wid dem. Dat's what de Ku Klux wuz, a bunch of mean mens tryin' ter hab a good time.

I'se wucked purty hard durin' my life an' I done my courtin' on a steer an' cart haulin' wood ter town ter sell. He wuz haulin' wood too on his wagin, an' he'd beat me ter town so's dat he could help me off'n de wagin. I reckon dat dat wuz as good a way as any.

I tries ter be a good christian but I'se got disgusted wid dese young upstart niggers what dances in de chu'ch. Dey says dat dey am truckin' an' dat de Bible ain't forbid hit, but I reckin dat I knows dancin' whar I sees hit.

N. C. District: No. 2 [ ] Worker: Mrs. Edith S. Hibbs No. Words: 275 Subject: Story of Joseph Anderson Interviewed: Joseph Anderson 113 Rankin St., Wilmington, N. C. Edited: Mrs. W. N. Harriss

[TR: No Date Stamp]

[HW: Unnumbered]


1113 Rankin Street Wilmington, N. C.

Yes'm I was born a slave. I belong to Mr. T. C. McIlhenny who had a big rice plantation "Eagles Nest" in Brunswick County. It was a big place. He had lots of slaves, an' he was a good man. My mother and father died when I was fourteen. Father died in February 1865 and my mother died of pneumonia in November 1865. My older sister took charge of me.

Interviewer: "Can you read and write?"

Joseph: "Oh yes, I can write a little. I can make my marks. I can write my name. No'm I can't read. I never went to school a day in my life. I just "picked up" what I know."

I don't remember much about slave times. I was fourteen when I was freed. After I was freed we lived between 8th and 9th on Chestnut. We rented a place from Dan O'Connor a real estate man and paid him $5 a month rent. I've been married twice. First time was married by Mr. Ed Taylor, magistrate in Southport, Brunswick County. I was married to my first wife twenty years and eight months. Then she died. I was married again when I was seventy-five years old. I was married to my second wife just a few years when she died.

I was on the police force for a year and a half. I was elected April 6, 1895. Mr. McIlhenny was an ole man then an' I used to go to see him.

I was a stevedore for Mr. Alexander Sprunt for sixty years.

Joseph is now buying his house at 1113 Rankin Street. Rents part of it for $8.50 a month to pay for it. He stays in one room.

NOTE: Joseph's health is none too good, making information sketchy and incoherent.

N. C. District: No. 2 [320086] Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 1905 Subject: MARY ANDERSON Person Interviewed: Mary Anderson Editor: G. L. Andrews

[TR: Date Stamp "AUG 23 1937"]


86 years of age. 17 Poole Road, R. F. D. #2. Raleigh, N. C.

My name is Mary Anderson. I was born on a plantation near Franklinton, Wake County, N. C. May 10, 1851. I was a slave belonging to Sam Brodie, who owned the plantation at this place. My missus' name was Evaline. My father was Alfred Brodie and my mother was Bertha Brodie.

We had good food, plenty of warm homemade clothes and comfortable houses. The slave houses were called the quarters and the house where marster lived was called the great house. Our houses had two rooms each and marster's house had twelve rooms. Both the slave and white folks buildings were located in a large grove one mile square covered with oak and hickory nut trees. Marster's house was exactly one mile from the main Louisburg Road and there was a wide avenue leading through the plantation and grove to marster's house. The house fronted the avenue east and in going down the avenue from the main road you traveled directly west.

The plantation was very large and there were about two hundred acres of cleared land that was farmed each year. A pond was located on the place and in winter ice was gathered there for summer use and stored in an ice house which was built in the grove where the other buildings were. A large hole about ten feet deep was dug in the ground; the ice was put in that hole and covered. [TR: HW note in left margin is illegible.]

A large frame building was built over it. At the top of the earth there was an entrance door and steps leading down to the bottom of the hole. Other things besides ice were stored there. There was a still on the plantation and barrels of brandy were stored in the ice house, also pickles, preserves and cider.

Many of the things we used were made on the place. There was a grist mill, tannery, shoe shop, blacksmith shop, and looms for weaving cloth.

There were about one hundred, and sixty-two slaves on the plantation and every Sunday morning all the children had to be bathed, dressed, and their hair combed and carried down to marster's for breakfast. It was a rule that all the little colored children eat at the great house every Sunday morning in order that marster and missus could watch them eat so they could know which ones were sickly and have them doctored.

The slave children all carried a mussel shell in their hands to eat with. The food was put on large trays and the children all gathered around and ate, dipping up their food with their mussel shells which they used for spoons. Those who refused to eat or those who were ailing in any way had to come back to the great house for their meals and medicine until they were well.

Marster had a large apple orchard in the Tar River low grounds and up on higher ground and nearer the plantation house there was on one side of the road a large plum orchard and on the other side was an orchard of peaches, cherries, quinces and grapes. We picked the quinces in August and used them for preserving. Marster and missus believed in giving the slaves plenty of fruit, especially the children.

Marster had three children, one boy named Dallas, and two girls, Bettie and Carrie. He would not allow slave children to call his children marster and missus unless the slave said little marster or little missus. He had four white overseers but they were not allowed to whip a slave. If there was any whipping to be done he always said he would do it. He didn't believe in whipping so when a slave got so bad he could not manage him he sold him.

Marster didn't quarrel with anybody, missus would not speak short to a slave, but both missus and marster taught slaves to be obedient in a nice quiet way. The slaves were taught to take their hats and bonnets off before going into the house, and to bow and say, 'Good morning Marster Sam and Missus Evaline'. Some of the little negroes would go down to the great house and ask them when it wus going to rain, and when marster or missus walked in the grove the little Negroes would follow along after them like a gang of kiddies. Some of the slave children wanted to stay with them at the great house all the time. They knew no better of course and seemed to love marster and missus as much as they did their own mother and father. Marster and missus always used gentle means to get the children out of their way when they bothered them and the way the children loved and trusted them wus a beautiful sight to see.

Patterollers were not allowed on the place unless they came peacefully and I never knew of them whipping any slaves on marster's place. Slaves were carried off on two horse wagons to be sold. I have seen several loads leave. They were the unruly ones. Sometimes he would bring back slaves, once he brought back two boys and three girls from the slave market.

Sunday wus a great day on the plantation. Everybody got biscuits Sundays. The slave women went down to marsters for their Sunday allowance of flour. All the children ate breakfast at the great house and marster and missus gave out fruit to all. The slaves looked forward to Sunday as they labored through the week. It was a great day. Slaves received good treatment from marster and all his family.

We were allowed to have prayer meetings in our homes and we also went to the white folks church.

They would not teach any of us to read and write. Books and papers were forbidden. Marster's children and the slave children played together. I went around with the baby girl Carrie to other plantations visiting. She taught me how to talk low and how to act in company. My association with white folks and my training while I was a slave is why I talk like white folks.

Bettie Brodie married a Dr. Webb from Boylan, Virginia. Carrie married a Mr. Joe Green of Franklin County. He was a big southern planter.

The war was begun and there were stories of fights and freedom. The news went from plantation to plantation and while the slaves acted natural and some even more polite than usual, they prayed for freedom. Then one day I heard something that sounded like thunder and missus and marster began to walk around and act queer. The grown slaves were whispering to each other. Sometimes they gathered in little gangs in the grove. Next day I heard it again, boom, boom, boom. I went and asked missus 'is it going to rain?' She said, 'Mary go to the ice house and bring me some pickles and preserves.' I went and got them. She ate a little and gave me some. Then she said, 'You run along and play.' In a day or two everybody on the plantation seemed to be disturbed and marster and missus were crying. Marster ordered all the slaves to come to the great house at nine o'clock. Nobody was working and slaves were walking over the grove in every direction. At nine o'clock all the slaves gathered at the great house and marster and missus came out on the porch and stood side by side. You could hear a pin drap everything was so quiet. Then marster said, 'Good morning,' and missus said, 'Good morning, children'. They were both crying. Then marster said, 'Men, women and children, you are free. You are no longer my slaves. The Yankees will soon be here.'

Marster and missus then went into the house got two large arm chairs put them on the porch facing the avenue and sat down side by side and remained there watching.

In about an hour there was one of the blackest clouds coming up the avenue from the main road. It was the Yankee soldiers, they finally filled the mile long avenue reaching from marster's house to the main Louisburg road and spread out over the mile square grove. The mounted men dismounted. The footmen stacked their shining guns and began to build fires and cook. They called the slaves, saying, 'Your are free.' Slaves were whooping and laughing and acting like they were crazy. Yankee soldiers were shaking hands with the Negroes and calling them Sam, Dinah, Sarah and asking them questions. They busted the door to the smoke house and got all the hams. They went to the ice-house and got several barrels of brandy, and such a time. The Negroes and Yankees were cooking and eating together. The Yankees told them to come on and join them, they were free. Marster and missus sat on the porch and they were so humble no Yankee bothered anything in the great house. The slaves were awfully excited. The Yankees stayed there, cooked, eat, drank and played music until about night, then a bugle began to blow and you never saw such getting on horses and lining up in your life. In a few minutes they began to march, leaving the grove which was soon as silent as a grave yard. They took marster's horses and cattle with them and joined the main army and camped just across Cypress Creek one and one half miles from my marster's place on the Louisburg Road.

When they left the country, lot of the slaves went with them and soon there were none of marster's slaves left. They wandered around for a year from place to place, fed and working most of the time at some other slave owner's plantation and getting more homesick every day.

The second year after the surrender our marster and missus got on their carriage and went and looked up all the Negroes they heard of who ever belonged to them. Some who went off with the Yankees were never heard of again. When marster and missus found any of theirs they would say, 'Well, come on back home.' My father and mother, two uncles and their families moved back. Also Lorenza Brodie, and John Brodie and their families moved back. Several of the young men and women who once belonged to him came back. Some were so glad to get back they cried, 'cause fare had been mighty bad part of the time they were rambling around and they were hungry. When they got back marster would say, 'Well you have come back home have you, and the Negroes would say, 'Yes marster.' Most all spoke of them as missus and marster as they did before the surrender, and getting back home was the greatest pleasure of all.

We stayed with marster and missus and went to their church, the Maple Springs Baptist church, until they died.

Since the surrender I married James Anderson. I had four children, one boy and three girls.

I think slavery was a mighty good thing for mother, father, me and the other members of the family, and I cannot say anything but good for my old marster and missus, but I can only speak for those whose conditions I have known during slavery and since. For myself and them, I will say again, slavery was a mighty good thing.

N. C. District: No. 2 [320280] Worker: Mary A. Hicks No. Words: 789 Subject: Cornelia Andrews Story Teller: Cornelia Andrews Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: Date Stamp "JUN 7 1937"]


An interview on May 21, 1937 with Cornelia Andrews of Smithfield, Johnston County, who is 87 years old.

De fust marster dat I 'members wuz Mr. Cute Williams an' he wuz a good marster, but me an' my mammy an' some of de rest of 'em wuz sold to Doctor McKay Vaden who wuz not good ter us.

Doctor Vaden owned a good-sized plantation, but he had just eight slaves. We had plank houses, but we ain't had much food an' clothes. We wored shoes wid wooden bottom in de winter an' no shoes in de summer. We ain't had much fun, nothin' but candy pullin's 'bout onct a year. We ain't raised no cane but marster buyed one barrel of 'lasses fer candy eber year.

Yo' know dat dar wuz a big slave market in Smithfield dem days, dar wuz also a jail, an' a whippin' post. I 'members a man named Rough somethin' or other, what bought forty er fifty slaves at de time an' carried 'em ter Richmond to re-sell. He had four big black horses hooked ter a cart, an' behind dis cart he chained de slaves, an' dey had ter walk, or trot all de way ter Richmond. De little ones Mr. Rough would throw up in de cart an' off dey'd go no'th. Dey said dat der wuz one day at Smithfield dat three hundret slaves wuz sold on de block. Dey said dat peoples came from fer an' near, eben from New Orleans ter dem slave sales. Dey said dat way 'fore I wuz borned dey uster strip dem niggers start naked an' gallop' em ober de square so dat de buyers could see dat dey warn't scarred nor deformed.

While I could 'member dey'd sell de mammies 'way from de babies, an' dere wuzn't no cryin' 'bout it whar de marster would know 'bout it nother. Why? Well, dey'd git beat black an' blue, dat's why.

Wuz I eber beat bad? No mam, I wuzn't.

(Here the daughter, a graduate of Cornell University, who was in the room listening came forward. "Open your shirt, mammy, and let the lady judge for herself." The old ladies eyes flashed as she sat bolt upright. She seemed ashamed, but the daughter took the shirt off, exposing the back and shoulders which were marked as though branded with a plaited cowhide whip. There was no doubt of that at all.)

"I wuz whupped public," she said tonelessly, "for breaking dishes an' 'bein' slow. I wuz at Mis' Carrington's den, an' it wuz jist 'fore de close o' de war. I wuz in de kitchen washin' dishes an' I draps one. De missus calls Mr. Blount King, a patteroller, an' he puts de whuppin' yo' sees de marks of on me. My ole missus foun' it out an' she comed an' got me."

A friend of the interviewer who was present remarked, "That must have been horrible to say the least."

"Yo' 'doan know nothin," the old Negro blazed. "Alex Heath, a slave wuz beat ter death, hyar in Smithfield. He had stold something, dey tells me, anyhow he wuz sentenced ter be put ter death, an' de folkses dar in charge 'cided ter beat him ter death. Dey gib him a hundret lashes fer nine mornin's an' on de ninth mornin' he died."

"My uncle Daniel Sanders, wuz beat till he wuz cut inter gashes an' he wuz tu be beat ter death lak Alex wuz, but one day atter dey had beat him an' throwed him back in jail wid out a shirt he broke out an' runned away. He went doun in de riber swamp an' de blow flies blowed de gashes an' he wuz unconscious when a white man found him an' tuk him home wid him. He died two or three months atter dat but he neber could git his body straight ner walk widout a stick; he jist could drag."

"I 'specks dat I doan know who my pappy wuz, maybe de stock nigger on de plantation. My pappy an' mammy jist stepped ober de broom an' course I doan know when. Yo' knows dey ain't let no little runty nigger have no chilluns. Naw sir, dey ain't, dey operate on dem lak dey does de male hog so's dat dey can't have no little runty chilluns."

"Some of de marsters wuz good an' some of dem wuz bad. I wuz glad ter be free an' I lef' der minute I finds out dat I is free. I ain't got no kick a-comin' not none at all. Some of de white folkses wuz slaves, ter git ter de United States an' we niggers ain't no better, I reckons."

N. C. District: No. 2 [320026] Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 22,289 Subject: A SLAVE STORY (Princess Quango Hennadonah Perceriah). Reference: MARY ANNGADY [HW: 80 years] Editor: George L. Andrews

[TR: Date Stamp "OCT 25 1937"]


(Princess Quango Hennadonah Perceriah) 1110 Oakwood Avenue, Raleigh, North Carolina.

I was eighteen years old in 1875 but I wanted to get married so I gave my age as nineteen. I wish I could recall some of the ole days when I was with my missus in Orange County, playing with my brothers and other slave children.

I was owned by Mr. Franklin Davis and my madam was Mrs. Bettie Davis. I and my brother used to scratch her feet and rub them for her; you know how old folks like to have their feet rubbed. My brother and I used to scrap over who should scratch and rub her feet. She would laugh and tell us not to do that way that she loved us both. Sometimes she let me sleep at her feet at night. She was plenty good to all of the slaves. Her daughter Sallie taught me my A B C's in Webster's Blue Back spelling Book. When I learned to Spell B-a-k-e-r, Baker, I thought that was something. The next word I felt proud to spell was s-h-a-d-y, shady, the next l-a-d-y, lady. I would spell them out loud as I picked up chips in the yard to build a fire with. My missus Bettie gave me a blue back spelling book.

My father was named James Mason, and he belonged to James Mason of Chapel Hill. Mother and I and my four brothers belonged to the same man and we also lived in the town. I never lived on a farm or plantation in my life. I know nothing about farming. All my people are dead and I cannot locate any of marster's family if they are living. Marster's family consisted of two boys and two girls—Willie, Frank, Lucy and Sallie. Marster was a merchant, selling general merchandise. I remember eating a lot of brown sugar and candy at his store.

My mother was a cook. They allowed us a lot of privileges and it was just one large happy family with plenty to eat and wear, good sleeping places and nothing to worry about. They were of the Presbyterian faith and we slaves attended Sunday school and services at their church. There were about twelve slaves on the lot. The houses for slaves were built just a little ways back from marster's house on the same lot. The Negro and white children played together, and there was little if any difference made in the treatment given a slave child and a white child. I have religious books they gave me. Besides the books they taught me, they drilled me in etiquette of the times and also in courtesy and respect to my superiors until it became a habit and it was perfectly natural for me to be polite.

The first I knew of the Yankees was when I was out in my marster's yard picking up chips and they came along, took my little brother and put him on a horse's back and carried him up town. I ran and told my mother about it. They rode brother over the town a while, having fun out of him, then they brought him back. Brother said he had a good ride and was pleased with the blue jackets as the Yankee soldiers were called.

We had all the silver and valuables hid and the Yankees did not find them, but they went into marster's store and took what they wanted. They gave my father a box of hardtack and a lot of meat. Father was a Christian and he quoted one of the Commandments when they gave him things they had stolen from others. 'Thou shalt not steal', quoth he, and he said he did not appreciate having stolen goods given to him.

I traveled with the white folks in both sections of the country, north and south, after the War Between the States. I kept traveling with them and also continued my education. They taught me to recite and I made money by reciting on many of the trips. Since the surrender I have traveled in the north for various Charitable Negro Societies and Institutions and people seemed very much interested in the recitation I recited called "When Malinda Sings".

The first school I attended was after the war closed. The school was located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and was taught by a Yankee white woman from Philadelphia. We remained in Chapel Hill only a few years after the war ended when we all moved to Raleigh, and I have made it my home ever since. I got the major part of my education in Raleigh under Dr. H. M. Tupper[1] who taught in the second Baptist Church, located on Blount Street. Miss Mary Lathrop, a colored teacher from Philadelphia, was an assistant teacher in Dr. Tupper's School. I went from there to Shaw Collegiate Institute, which is now Shaw University.

I married Aaron Stallings of Warrenton, North Carolina while at Shaw. He died and I married Rev. Matthews Anngady of Monrovia, west coast of Africa, Liberia, Pastor of First Church. I helped him in his work here, kept studying the works of different authors, and lecturing and reciting. My husband, the Rev. Matthews Anngady died, and I gave a lot of my time to the cause of Charity, and while on a lecture tour of Massachusetts in the interest of this feature of colored welfare for Richmond, Va., the most colorful incident of my eventful life happened when I met Quango Hennadonah Perceriah, an Abyssinian Prince, who was traveling and lecturing on the customs of his country and the habits of its people. Our mutual interests caused our friendship to ripen fast and when the time of parting came, when each of us had finished our work in Massachusetts, he going back to his home in New York City and I returning to Richmond, he asked me to correspond with him. I promised to do so and our friendship after a year's correspondence became love and he proposed and I accepted him. We were married in Raleigh by Rev. J. J. Worlds, pastor of the First Baptist Church, colored.

P. T. Barnum had captured my husband when he was a boy and brought him to America from Abyssinia, educated him and then sent him back to his native country. He would not stay and soon he was in America again. He was of the Catholic faith in America and they conferred the honor of priesthood upon him but after he married me this priesthood was taken away and he joined the Episcopal Church. After we were married we decided to go on an extensive lecture tour. He had been a headsman in his own country and a prince. We took the customs of his people and his experiences as the subject of our lectures. I could sing, play the guitar, violin and piano, but I did not know his native language. He began to teach me and as soon as I could sing the song How Firm A Foundation in his language which went this way:

Ngama i-bata, Njami buyek Wema Wemeta, Negana i bukek diol, di Njami, i-diol de Kak Annimix, Annimix hanci

Bata ba Satana i-bu butete Bata ba Npjami i bunanan Bata be satana ba laba i wa— Bata ba Njami ba laba Munonga

We traveled and lectured in both the north and the south and our life, while we had to work hard, was one of happiness and contentment. I traveled and lectured as the Princess Quango Hennadonah Perceriah, wife of the Abyssinian Prince. I often recited the recitation written by the colored poet, Paul Lawrence Dunbar When Malinda Sings to the delight of our audiences.

* * * * *

The following incidents of African life were related to me by my husband Quango Hennadonah Perceriah and they were also given in his lectures on African customs while touring the United States.

The religion of the Bakuba tribe of Abyssinia was almost wholly Pagan as the natives believed fully in witchcraft, sorcery, myths and superstitions. The witch doctor held absolute sway over the members of the tribe and when his reputation as a giver of rain, bountiful crops or success in the chase was at stake the tribes were called together and those accused by the witch doctor of being responsible for these conditions through witchery were condemned and speedily executed.

The people were called together by the beating of drums. The witch doctor, dressed in the most hellish garb imaginable with his body painted and poisonous snake bone necklaces dangling from his neck and the claws of ferocious beasts, lions, leopards and the teeth of vicious man-eating crocodiles finishing up his adornment, sat in the middle of a court surrounded by the members of the tribe. In his hand he carried a gourd which contained beads, shot, or small stones. He began his incantations by rattling the contents of the gourd, shouting and making many weird wails and peculiar contortions. After this had gone on for sometime until he was near exhaustion his face assumed the expression of one in great pain and this was the beginning of the end for some poor ignorant savage. He squirmed and turned in different directions with his eyes fixed with a set stare as if in expectancy when suddenly his gaze would be fixed on some member of the tribe and his finger pointed directly at him. The victim was at once seized and bound, the doctor's gaze never leaving him until this was done. If one victim appeased his nervous fervor the trial was over but if his wrought-up feelings desired more his screechings continued until a second victim was secured. He had these men put to death to justify himself in the eyes of the natives of his tribe for his failing to bring rain, bountiful crops and success to the tribe.

The witch doctor who sat as judge seemed to have perfect control over the savages minds and no one questioned his decisions. The persons were reconciled to their fate and were led away to execution while they moaned and bade their friends goodbye in the doleful savage style. Sometimes they were put on a boat, taken out into the middle of a river and there cut to pieces with blades of grass, their limbs being dismembered first and thrown into the river to the crocodiles. A drink containing an opiate was generally given the victim to deaden the pain but often this formality was dispensed with. The victims were often cut to pieces at the place of trial with knives and their limbs thrown out to the vultures that almost continuously hover 'round the huts and kraals of the savage tribes of Africa.

In some instances condemned persons were burned at the stake. This form of execution is meted out at some of the religious dances or festivities to some of their pagan gods to atone and drive away the evil spirits that have caused pestilences to come upon the people. The victims at these times are tortured in truly savage fashion, being burned to death by degrees while the other members of the tribe dance around and go wild with religious fervor calling to their gods while the victim screeches with pain in his slowly approaching death throes. Young girls, women, boys and men are often accused of witchcraft. One method they used of telling whether the victim accused was innocent or guilty was to give them a liquid poison made from the juice of several poisonous plants. If they could drink it and live they were innocent, if they died they were guilty. In most cases death was almost instantaneous. Some vomited the poison from their stomachs and lived.

The Bakubas sometimes resorted to cannibalism and my husband told me of a Bakuba girl who ate her own mother. Once a snake bit a man and he at once called the witch doctor. The snake was a poisonous one and the man bitten was in great pain. The witch doctor whooped and went through several chants but the man got worse instead of better. The witch doctor then told the man that his wife made the snake bite him by witchery and that she should die for the act. The natives gathered at once in response to the witch doctor's call and the woman was executed at once. The man bitten by the snake finally died but the witch doctor had shifted the responsibility of his failure to help the man to his wife who had been beheaded. The witch doctor had justified himself and the incident was closed.

The tribe ruled by a King has two or more absolute rules. The Kings word is law and he has the power to condemn any subject to death at any time without trial. If he becomes angry or offended with any of his wives a nod and a word to his bodyguard and the woman is led away to execution. Any person of the tribe is subject to the King's will with the exemption of the witch doctor. Executions of a different nature than the ones described above are common occurrences. For general crimes the culprit after being condemned to death is placed in a chair shaped very much like the electric chairs used in American prisons in taking the lives of the condemned. He is then tied firmly to the chair with thongs. A pole made of a green sapling is firmly implanted in the earth nearby. A thong is placed around the neck of the victim under the chin. The sapling is then bent over and the other end of the thong tied to the end of the sapling pole. The pole stretches the neck to its full length and holds the head erect. Drums are sometimes beaten to drown the cries of those who are to be killed. The executioner who is called a headsman then walks forward approaching the chair from the rear. When he reaches it he steps to the side of the victim and with a large, sharp, long-bladed knife lops off the head of the criminal. The bodies of men executed in this manner are buried in shallow holes dug about two feet deep to receive their bodies.

The rank and file of the savage tribes believe explicitly [HW correction: implicitly] in the supernatural powers of the witch doctor and his decisions are not questioned. Not even the King of the tribe raises a voice against him. The witch doctor is crafty enough not to condemn any of the King's household or any one directly prominent in the King's service. After an execution everything is quiet in a few hours and the incident seems forgotten. The African Negroes attitude towards the whole affair seems to be instinctive and as long as he escapes he does not show any particular concern in his fellowman. His is of an animal instinctive nature.

The males of the African tribes of savages have very little respect for a woman but they demand a whole lot of courtesies from their wives, beating them unmercifully when they feel proper respect has not been shown them. The men hunt game and make war on other tribes and the women do all the work. A savage warrior when not engaged in hunting or war, sleeps a lot and smokes almost continuously during his waking hours. Girls are bought from their parents while mere children by the payment of so many cows, goats, etc. The King can take any woman of the tribe whether married or single he desires to be his wife. The parents of young girls taken to wife by the King of a tribe feel honored and fall on their knees and thank the King for taking her.

The prince of a tribe is born a headsman and as soon as he is able to wield a knife he is called upon to perform the duty of cutting off the heads of criminals who are condemned to death by the King for general crimes. Those condemned by the witch doctor for witchcraft are executed by dismemberment or fire as described above.

* * * * *

My husband was a cannibal headsman and performed this duty of cutting off persons heads when a boy and after being civilized in America this feature of his early life bore so heavily upon his mind that it was instrumental in driving him insane. By custom a prince was born a headsman and it was compulsory that he execute criminals. He died in an insane ward of the New Jersey State Hospital.

[Footnote 1: [HW: ]Dr. Henry M. Tupper, a Union Army chaplain, who helped to start Shaw University in 1865.]

N. C. District: No. 2 [320126] Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 1051 Subject: JANE ARRINGTON Story Teller: Jane Arrington Editor: Geo. L. Andrews

[TR: Date Stamp "AUG 4 1937"]

JANE ARRINGTON 84 years old 302 Fowle Street Raleigh, N. C.

I ort to be able to tell sumpin cause I wus twelve years old when dey had de surrender right up here in Raleigh. If I live to see dis coming December I will be eighty five years old. I was born on the 18th of December 1852.

I belonged to Jackson May of Nash County. I wus born on de plantation near Tar River. Jackson May never married until I wus of a great big girl. He owned a lot of slaves; dere were eighty on de plantation before de surrender. He married Miss Becky Wilder, sister of Sam Wilder. De Wilders lived on a jining plantation to where I wus borned.

Jackson May had so many niggers he let Billy Williams who had a plantation nearby have part of 'em. Marster Jackson he raised my father and bought my mother. My mother wus named Louisa May, and my father wus named Louis May. My mother had six chilluns, four boys and two girls. The boys were Richard, Farro, Caeser, and Fenner. De girls Rose and Jane. Jane, dats me.

We lived in log houses with stick an' dirt chimleys. They called 'em the slave houses. We had chicken feather beds to sleep on an' de houses wus good warm comfortable log houses. We had plenty of cover an' feather pillows.

My grandmother on my mother's side told me a lot of stories 'bout haints and how people run from 'em. Dey told me 'bout slaves dat had been killed by dere marster's coming back and worryin' 'em. Ole Missus Penny Williams, before Jackson May bought mother, treated some of de slaves mighty bad. She died an' den come back an' nearly scared de slaves to death. Grandmother told all we chillun she seed her an' knowed her after she been dead an' come back.

John May a slave wus beat to death by Bill Stone an' Oliver May. Oliver May wus Junius May's son. Junius May wus Jackson May's Uncle. John May come back an' wurried both of 'em. Dey could hardly sleep arter dat. Dey said dey could hear him hollerin' an' groanin' most all de time. Dese white men would groan in dere sleep an' tell John to go away. Dey would say, 'Go way John, please go away'. De other slaves wus afraid of 'em cause de ghost of John wurried 'em so bad.

I wurked on de farm, cuttin' corn stalks and tendin' to cattle in slavery time. Sometimes I swept de yards. I never got any money for my work and we didn't have any patches. My brothers caught possums, coons and sich things an' we cooked 'em in our houses. We had no parties but we had quiltin's. We went to the white folks church, Peach Tree Church, six miles from de plantation an' Poplar Springs Church seven miles away. Both were missionary Baptist Churches.

There were no overseers on Jackson May's plantation. He wouldn't have nary one. Billy Williams didn't have none. Dey had colored slave foremen.

After wurkin' all day dere wus a task of cotton to be picked an' spun by 'em. Dis wus two onces of cotton. Some of de slaves run away from Bill Williams when Marster Jackson May let him have 'em to work. Dey run away an' come home. Aunt Chaney runned away an' mother run away. Marster Jackson May kept 'em hid cause he say dey wus not treated right. He wouldn't let 'em have 'em back no more.

I never saw a grown slave whupped or in chains and I never saw a slave sold. Jackson May would not sell a slave. He didn't think it right. He kept 'em together. He had eighty head. He would let other white people have 'em to wurk for 'em sometimes, but he would not sell none of 'em.

If dey caught a slave wid a book you knowed it meant a whuppin', but de white chillun teached slaves secretey sometimes. Ole man Jake Rice a slave who belonged to John Rice in Nash County wus teached by ole John Rice's son till he had a purty good mount of larnin'.

We did not have prayer meeting at marster's plantation or anywhur. Marster would not allow dat.

When I wus a child we played de games of three handed reels, 'Old Gray Goose', 'All Little Gal, All Little Gal, All Little Gal remember me'. We took hold of hands an' run round as we sang dis song.

We sang 'Old Dan Tucker'. Git outen de way, ole Dan Tucker, Sixteen Hosses in one stable, one jumped out an' skined his nable an' so on.

Dr. Mann and Dr. Sid Harris and Dr. Fee Mann and Dr. Mathias looked arter us when we wus sick. Mother and de other grown folks raised herbs dat dey give us too. Chillun took a lot of salts.

Jackson May wus too rich to go to de war. Billy Williams didn't go, too rich too, I reckons. I remember when dey said niggers had to be free. De papers said if dey could not be freedom by good men dere would be freedom by blood. Dey fighted an' kept on fightin' a long time. Den de Yankees come. [HW correction: New paragraph] I heard dem beat de drum. Marster tole us we wus free but mother an' father stayed on with Marster. He promised 'em sumptin, but he give 'em nothin'. When de crop wus housed dey left.

Father and mother went to Hench Stallings plantation and stayed there one year. Then they went to Jim Webbs farm. I don't remember how long they stayed there but round two years. They moved about an' about among the white folks till they died. They never owned any property. They been dead 'bout thirty years.

I married Sidney Arrington. He has been dead six years las' September.

I am unable to do any kind of work. My arm is mighty weak.

I know slavery wus a bad thing. I don't have to think anything about it. Abraham Lincoln wus the first of us bein' free, I think he wus a man of God. I think Roosevelt is all right man. I belongs to the Pentecostal Holiness Church.


N. C. District: No. 2 [320031] Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 1,426 Subject: SARAH LOUISE AUGUSTUS Source: Sarah Louise Augustus Editor: George L. Andrews

[TR: No Date Stamp]

SARAH LOUISE AUGUSTUS Age 80 years 1424 Lane Street Raleigh, North Carolina

I wus born on a plantation near Fayetteville, N. C., and I belonged to J. B. Smith. His wife wus named Henrietta. He owned about thirty slaves. When a slave was no good he wus put on the auction block in Fayetteville and sold.

My father wus named Romeo Harden and my mother wus named Alice Smith. The little cabin where I wus born is still standing.

There wus seven children in marster's family, four girls and two boys. The girls wus named Ellen, Ida, Mary and Elizabeth. The boys wus named Harry, Norman and Marse George. Marse George went to the war. Mother had a family of four girls. Their names wus: Mary, Kate, Hannah and myself, Sarah Louise. I am the only one living and I would not be living but I have spent most of my life in white folk's houses and they have looked after me. I respected myself and they respected me.

My first days of slavery wus hard. I slept on a pallet on the floor of the cabin and just as soon as I wus able to work any at all I wus put to milking cows.

I have seen the paterollers hunting men and have seen men they had whipped. The slave block stood in the center of the street, Fayetteville Street, where Ramsey and Gillespie Street came in near Cool Springs Street. The silk mill stood just below the slave market. I saw the silkworms that made the silk and saw them gather the cocoons and spin the silk.

They hung people in the middle of Ramsey Street. They put up a gallows and hung the men exactly at 12 o'clock.

I ran away from the plantation once to go with some white children to see a man hung.

The only boats I remember on the Cape Fear wus the Governor Worth, The Hurt, The Iser and The North State. Oh! Lord yes, I remember the stage coach. As many times as I run to carry the mail to them when they come by! They blew a horn before they got there and you had to be on time 'cause they could not wait. There wus a stage each way each day, one up and one down.

Mr. George Lander had the first Tombstone Marble yard in Fayetteville on Hay Street on the point of Flat Iron place. Lander wus from Scotland. They gave me a pot, a scarf, and his sister gave me some shells. I have all the things they gave me. My missus, Henrietta Smith, wus Mr. Lander's sister. I waited on the Landers part of the time. They were hard working white folks, honest, God fearing people. The things they gave me were brought from over the sea.

I can remember when there wus no hospital in Fayetteville. There wus a little place near the depot where there wus a board shanty where they operated on people. I stood outside once and saw the doctors take a man's leg off. Dr. McDuffy wus the man who took the leg off. He lived on Hay Street near the Silk Mill.

When one of the white folks died they sent slaves around to the homes of their friends and neighbors with a large sheet of paper with a piece of black crepe pinned to the top of it. The friends would sign or make a cross mark on it. The funerals were held at the homes and friends and neighbors stood on the porch and in the house while the services were going on. The bodies were carried to the grave after the services in a black hearse drawn by black horses. If they did not have black horses to draw the hearse they went off and borrowed them. The colored people washed and shrouded the dead bodies. My grandmother wus one who did this. Her name wus Sarah McDonald. She belonged to Capt. George McDonald. She had fifteen children and lived to be one hundred and ten years old. She died in Fayetteville of pneumonia. She wus in Raleigh nursing the Briggs family, Mrs. F. H. Briggs' family. She wus going home to Fayetteville when she wus caught in a rain storm at Sanford, while changing trains. The train for Fayetteville had left as the train for Sanford wus late so she stayed wet all night. Next day she went home, took pneumonia and died. She wus great on curing rheumatism; she did it with herbs. She grew hops and other herbs and cured many people of this disease.

She wus called black mammy because she wet nursed so many white children. In slavery time she nursed all babies hatched on her marster's plantation and kept it up after the war as long as she had children.

Grandfather wus named Isaac Fuller. Mrs. Mary Ann Fuller, Kate Fuller, Mr. Will Fuller, who wus a lawyer in Wall Street, New York, is some of their white folks. The Fullers were born in Fayetteville. One of the slaves, Dick McAlister, worked, saved a small fortune and left it to Mr. Will Fuller. People thought the slave ought to have left it to his sister but he left it to Mr. Will. Mr. Fuller gives part of it to the ex-slaves sister each year. Mr. Will always helped the Negroes out when he could. He was good to Dick and Dick McAlister gave him all his belongings when he died.

The Yankees came through Fayetteville wearing large blue coats with capes on them. Lots of them were mounted, and there were thousands of foot soldiers. It took them several days to get through town. The Southern soldiers retreated and then in a few hours the Yankees covered the town. They busted into the smokehouse at marstar's, took the meat, meal and other provisions. Grandmother pled with the Yankees but it did no good. They took all they wanted. They said if they had to come again they would take the babies from the cradles. They told us we were all free. The Negroes begun visiting each other in the cabins and became so excited they began to shout and pray. I thought they were all crazy.

We stayed right on with marster. He had a town house and a big house on the plantation. I went to the town house to work, but mother and grandmother stayed on the plantation. My mother died there and the white folks buried her. Father stayed right on and helped run the farm until he died. My uncle, Elic Smith, and his family stayed too. Grandfather and grandmother after a few years left the plantation and went to live on a little place which Mrs. Mary Ann Fuller gave them. Grandmother and grandfather died there.

I wus thirty years old when I married. I wus married in my missus' graduating dress. I wus married in the white folks' church, to James Henry Harris. The white folks carried me there and gave me away. Miss Mary Smith gave me away. The wedding wus attended mostly by white folks.

My husband wus a fireman on the Cape Fear river boats and a white man's Negro too. We had two children, both died while little. My husband and I spent much of our time with the white folks and when he wus on his runs I slept in their homes. Often the children of the white families slept with me. We both tried to live up to the standards of decency and honesty and to be worthy of the confidence placed in us by our white folks.

My husband wus finally offered a job with a shipping concern in Deleware and we moved there. He wus fireman on the freighter Wilmington. He worked there three years, when he wus drowned. After his death I married David Augustus and immediately came back to North Carolina and my white folks, and we have been here ever since. I am a member of several Negro Lodges and am on the Committee for the North Carolina Colored State Fair.

There are only a few of the old white folks who have always been good to me living now, but I am still working with their offspring, among whom I have some mighty dear friends. I wus about eight years old when Sherman's Army came through. Guess I am about eighty years of age now.


N. C. District: No. 2 [320261] Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 908 Subject: A Slave Story Story Teller: Charity Austin Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: Date Stamp "JUN 26 1937"]

CHARITY AUSTIN 507 South Bloodworth Street, Raleigh, N. C.

I wus borned in the year 1852, July 27. I wus born in Granville County, sold to a slave speculator at ten years old and carried to Southwest, Georgia. I belonged to Samuel Howard. His daughter took me to Kinston, North Carolina and I stayed there until I wus sold. She married a man named Bill Brown, and her name wus Julia Howard Brown. My father wus named Paul Howard and my mother wus named Chollie Howard. My old missus wus named Polly Howard.

John Richard Keine from Danville, Virginia bought me and sent me to a plantation in Georgia. We only had a white overseer there. He and his wife and children lived on the plantation. We had slave quarters there. Slaves were bought up and sent there in chains. Some were chained to each other by the legs, some by the arms. They called the leg chains shackles. I have lived a hard life. I have seen mothers sold away from their babies and other children, and they cryin' when she left. I have seen husbands sold from their wives, and wives sold from their husbands.

Abraham Lincoln came through once, but none of us knew who he wus. He wus just the raggedest man you ever saw. The white children and me saw him out at the railroad. We were settin' and waitin' to see him. He said he wus huntin' his people; and dat he had lost all he had. Dey give him somethin' to eat and tobacco to chew, and he went on. Soon we heard he wus in de White House then we knew who it wus come through. We knowed den it wus Abraham Lincoln.

We children stole eggs and sold 'em durin' slavery. Some of de white men bought 'em. They were Irishmen and they would not tell on us. Their names were Mulligan, Flanagan and Dugan. They wore good clothes and were funny mens. They called guns flutes.

Boss tole us Abraham Lincoln wus dead and we were still slaves. Our boss man bought black cloth and made us wear it for mourning for Abraham Lincoln and tole us that there would not be freedom. We stayed there another year after freedom. A lot o' de niggers knowed nothin' 'cept what missus and marster tole us. What dey said wus just de same as de Lawd had spoken to us.

Just after de surrender a nigger woman who wus bad, wus choppin' cotton at out plantation in Georgie. John Woodfox wus de main overseer and his son-in-law wus a overseer. Dey had a colored man who dey called a nigger driver. De nigger driver tole de overseer de woman wus bad. De overseer came to her, snatched de hoe from her and hit her. The blow killed her. He was reported to de Freedman's Bureau. Dey came, whupped de overseer and put him in jail. Dey decided not to kill him, but made him furnish de children of de dead woman so much to live on. Dere wus a hundred or more niggers in de field when this murder happened.

We finally found out we were free and left. Dey let me stay with Miss Julia Brown. I was hired to her. She lived in Dooley County, Georgia. I next worked with Mrs. Dunbar after staying with Mrs. Brown four years. Her name wus Mrs. Winnie Dunbar and she moved to Columbia, South Carolina takin' me with her. I stayed with her about four years. This wus the end of my maiden life. I married Isaac Austin of Richmond County, Georgia. He wus a native of Warrenton County and he brought me from his home in Richmond County, Georgia to Warrenton and then from Warrenton to Raleigh. I had two brothers and thirteen sisters. I did general house work, and helped raise children during slavery, and right after de war. Then you had to depend on yourself to do for children. You had to doctor and care for them yourself. You just had to depend on yourself.

Dey had 320 acres o' cleared fields in Georgia and then de rice fields, I just don't know how many acres. I have seen jails for slaves. Dey had a basement for a jail in Georgia and a guard at de holes in it.

No, No! you better not be caught tryin' to do somethin' wid a book. Dey would teach you wid a stick or switch. De slaves had secret prayer meetin's wid pots turned down to kill de soun' o' de singin'. We sang a song, 'I am glad salvation's free.' Once dey heard us, nex' mornin' dey took us and tore our backs to pieces. Dey would say, 'Are you free? What were you singin' about freedom?' While de niggers were bein' whupped they said, 'Pray, marster, pray.'

The doctor came to see us sometimes when we were sick, but not after. People just had to do their own doctorin'. Sometimes a man would take his patient, and sit by de road where de doctor travelled, and when he come along he would see him. De doctor rode in a sully drawn by a horse. He had a route, one doctor to two territories.

When de white folks were preparing to go to de war they had big dinners and speakin'. Dey tole what dey were goin' to do to Sherman and Grant. A lot of such men as Grant and Sherman and Lincoln came through de South in rags and were at some o' dese meetings, an' et de dinners. When de white folks foun' it out, dere wus some sick folks. Sometimes we got two days Christmas and two days July. When de nigger wus freed dey didn't know where to go and what to do. It wus hard, but it has been hard since. From what de white folks, marster and missus tole us we thought Lincoln wus terrible. By what mother and father tole me I thought he wus all right. I think Roosevelt wus put in by God to do the right things.


N. C. District: No. 2 [320012] Worker: Mary A. Hicks No. Words: 367 Subject: BLOUNT BAKER Person Interviewed: Blount Baker Editor: G. L. Andrews

[TR: Date Stamp "SEP 10 1937"]


An interview with Blount Baker, 106 Spruce Street, Wilson, North Carolina.

Yes'um, I 'longed ter Marse Henry Allen of Wilson County an' we always raise terbacker. Marse Henry wus good ter us so we had a heap of prayer meetin's an' corn shuckin's an' such.

I 'members de big meetin's dat we'd have in de summer time an' dat good singin' we'd have when we'd be singin' de sinners through. We'd stay pretty nigh all night to make a sinner come through, an' maybe de week atter de meetin' he'd steal one of his marster's hogs. Yes'um, I'se had a bad time.

You know, missy, dar ain't no use puttin' faith in nobody, dey'd fool you ever time anyhow. I know once a patteroller tol' me dat iffen I'd give him a belt I found dat he'd let me go by ter see my gal dat night, but when he kotch me dat night he whupped me. I tol' Marse Henry on him too so Marse Henry takes de belt away from him an' gives me a possum fer hit. Dat possum shore wus good too, baked in de ashes like I done it.

I ain't never hear Marse Henry cuss but once an' dat wus de time dat some gentlemens come ter de house an' sez dat dar am a war 'twixt de north an' de south. He sez den, 'Let de damn yaller bellied Yankees come on an' we'll give 'em hell an' sen' dem a-hoppin' back ter de north in a hurry.'

We ain't seed no Yankees 'cept a few huntin' Rebs. Dey talk mean ter us an' one of dem says dat we niggers am de cause of de war. 'Sir,' I sez, 'folks what am a wantin' a war can always find a cause'. He kicks me in de seat of de pants fer dat, so I hushes.

I stayed wid Marse Henry till he died den I moved ter Wilson. I has worked everwhere, terbacker warehouses an' ever'thing. I'se gittin' of my ole age pension right away an' den de county won't have ter support me no mo', dat is if dey have been supportin' me on three dollars a month.


N. C. District: No. 2 [320244] Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 745 Subject: LIZZIE BAKER Person Interviewed: Lizzie Baker Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: No Date Stamp]

LIZZIE BAKER 424 Smith Street

I was born de las' year o' de surrender an'course I don't remember seein' any Yankee soldiers, but I knows a plenty my mother and father tole me. I have neuritis, an' have been unable to work any fer a year and fer seven years I couldn't do much.

My mother wus named Teeny McIntire and my father William McIntire. Mammy belonged to Bryant Newkirk in Duplin County. Pap belonged to someone else, I don't know who.

Dey said dey worked from light till dark, and pap said dey beat him so bad he run away a lot o' times. Dey said de paterollers come to whare dey wus havin' prayer meetin' and beat 'em.

Mammy said sometimes dey were fed well and others dey almost starved. Dey got biscuit once a week on Sunday. Dey said dey went to de white folks's church. Dey said de preachers tole 'em dey had to obey dere missus and marster. My mammy said she didn't go to no dances 'cause she wus crippled. Some o' de help, a colored woman, stole something when she wus hongry. She put it off on mother and missus made mother wear trousers for a year to punish her.

Mammy said dey gave de slaves on de plantation one day Christmas and dat New Years wus when dey sold 'em an' hired 'em out. All de slaves wus scared 'cause dey didn't know who would have to go off to be sold or to work in a strange place. Pap tole me 'bout livin' in de woods and 'bout dey ketchin' him. I 'member his owner's name den, it wus Stanley. He run away so bad dey sold him several times. Pap said one time dey caught him and nearly beat him to death, and jest as soon as he got well and got a good chance he ran away again.

Mammy said when de Yankees come through she wus 'fraid of 'em. De Yankees tole her not to be 'fraid of 'em. Dey say to her, 'Do dey treat you right', Mammy said 'Yes sir', 'cause ole missus wus standin' dere, an' she wus 'fraid not to say yes. Atter de war, de fust year atter de surrender dey moved to James Alderman's place in Duplin County and stayed dere till I wus a grown gal.

Den we moved to Goldsboro. Father wus a carpenter and he got a lot of dat work. Dat's what he done in Goldsboro. We come from Goldsboro to Raleigh and we have lived here every since. We moved here about de year o' de shake and my mother died right here in Raleigh de year o' de shake. Some of de things mother tole me 'bout slavery, has gone right out of my min'. Jes comes and goes.

I remember pap tellin' me' bout stretchin' vines acrost roads and paths to knock de patterollers off deir horses when dey were tryin' to ketch slaves. Pap and mammy tole me marster and missus did not 'low any of de slaves to have a book in deir house. Dat if dey caught a slave wid a book in deir house dey whupped 'em. Dey were keerful not to let 'em learn readin' and writin'.

Dey sold my sister Lucy and my brother Fred in slavery time, an' I have never seen 'em in my life. Mother would cry when she was tellin' me 'bout it. She never seen 'em anymore. I jes' couldn't bear to hear her tell it widout cryin'. Dey were carried to Richmond, an' sold by old marster when dey were chillun.

We tried to get some news of brother and sister. Mother kept 'quiring 'bout 'em as long as she lived and I have hoped dat I could hear from 'em. Dey are dead long ago I recons, and I guess dare aint no use ever expectin' to see 'em. Slavery wus bad and Mr. Lincoln did a good thing when he freed de niggers. I caint express my love for Roosevelt. He has saved so many lives. I think he has saved mine. I want to see him face to face. I purely love him and I feel I could do better to see him and tell him so face to face.


N. C. District: No. 2 [320182] Worker: Mary A. Hicks No. Words: 339 Subject: VINEY BAKER Story Teller: Viney Baker Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: No Date Stamp]

VINEY BAKER Ex-Slave Story

An interview with Viney Baker 78 of S. Harrington Street, Raleigh.

My mammy wuz Hannah Murry an' so fur as I know I ain't got no father, do' I reckon dat he wuz de plantation stock nigger. I wuz borned in Virginia as yo' mought say ter my marster Mr. S. L. Allen.

We moved when I wuz little ter Durham County whar we fared bad. We ain't had nothin' much ter eat an' ter w'ar. He had a hundert slaves an' I reckon five hundert acres o' lan'. He made us wuck hard, de little ones included.

One night I lay down on de straw mattress wid my mammy, an' de nex' mo'nin' I woked up an' she wuz gone. When I axed 'bout her I fin's dat a speculator comed dar de night before an' wanted ter buy a 'oman. Dey had come an' got my mammy widout wakin' me up. I has always been glad somehow dat I wuz asleep.

Dey uster tie me ter a tree an' beat me till de blood run down my back, I doan 'member nothin' dat I done, I jist 'members de whuppin's. Some of de rest wuz beat wuser dan I wuz too, an' I uster scream dat I wuz sho' dyin'.

Yes'um I seed de Yankees go by, but dey ain't bodder us none, case dey knows dat 'hind eber' bush jist about a Confederate soldier pints a gun.

I warn't glad at de surrender, case I doan understand hit, an' de Allen's keeps me right on, an' whups me wuser den dan eber.

I reckon I wuz twelve years old when my mammy come ter de house an' axes Mis' Allen ter let me go spen' de week en' wid her. Mis' Allen can't say no, case Mammy mought go ter de carpet baggers so she lets me go fer de week-en'. Mammy laughs Sunday when I says somethin' 'bout goin' back. Naw, I stayed on wid my mammy, an' I ain't seed Mis' Allen no mo'.


District: No. 2 [320151] No. Words: 733 Worker: Mary A. Hicks Subject: EX-SLAVE STORY Story Teller: Charlie Barbour Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: Date Stamp "JUN 7 1937"]

[HW: A (circled)]


An interview on May 20, 1937 with Charlie Barbour, 86 of Smithfield, N. C. Johnston County.

I belonged ter Mr. Bob Lumsford hyar in Smithfield from de time of my birth. My mammy wuz named Candice an' my pappy's name wuz Seth. My brothers wuz Rufus, William an' George, an' my sisters wuz Mary an' Laura.

I 'minds me of de days when as a youngin' [HW correction: youngun'] I played marbles an' hide an' seek. Dar wuzn't many games den, case nobody ain't had no time fer 'em. De grown folkses had dances an' sometimes co'n shuckin's, an' de little niggers patted dere feets at de dances an' dey he'p ter shuck de co'n. At Christmas we had a big dinner, an' from den through New Year's Day we feast, an' we dance, an' we sing. De fust one what said Christmas gift ter anybody else got a gif', so of cou'se we all try ter ketch de marster.

On de night 'fore de first day of Jinuary we had a dance what lasts all night. At midnight when de New Year comes in marster makes a speech an' we is happy dat he thanks us fer our year's wuck an' says dat we is good, smart slaves.

Marster wucked his niggers from daylight till dark, an' his thirteen grown slaves had ter ten' 'bout three hundred acres o' land. Course dey mostly planted co'n, peas an' vege'ables.

I can 'member, do' I wuz small, dat de slaves wuz whupped fer disobeyin' an' I can think of seberal dat I got. I wuz doin' housewuck at de time an' one of de silber knives got misplaced. Dey 'cused me of misplacin' it on purpose, so I got de wust beatin' dat I eber had. I wuz beat den till de hide wuz busted hyar an' dar.

We little ones had some time ter go swimmin' an' we did; we also fished, an' at night we hunted de possum an' de coon sometimes. Ole Uncle Jeems had some houn's what would run possums or coons an' he uster take we boys 'long wid him.

I 'members onct de houn's struck a trail an' dey tree de coon. Uncle Jeems sen's Joe, who wuz bigger den I wuz, up de tree ter ketch de coon an' he warns him dat coons am fightin' fellers. Joe doan pay much mind he am so happy ter git der chanct ter ketch de coon, but when he ketched dat coon he couldn't turn loose, an' from de way he holler yo' would s'pose dat he ain't neber wanted ter ketch a coon. When Joe Barbour wuz buried hyar las' winter dem coon marks wuz still strong on his arms an' han's an' dar wuz de long scar on his face.

I 'members onct a Yankee 'oman from New York looks at him an' nigh 'bout faints. 'I reckon', says she, dat am what de cruel slave owner or driver done ter him'.

Yes mam, I knows when de Yankees comed ter Smithfield. Dey comed wid de beatin' of drums an' de wavin' of flags. Dey says dat our governor wuz hyar makin' a speech but he flewed 'fore dey got hyar. Anyhow, we libed off from de main path of march, an' so we ain't been trouble so much 'cept by 'scootin' parties, as my ole missus call' em.

Dey am de darndest yo' eber seed, dey won't eat no hog meat 'cept hams an' shoulders an' dey goes ter de smoke house an' gits 'em 'thout no permission. Dey has what dey calls rammin' rods ter dere guns an' dey knock de chickens in de haid wid dat. I hyard dem say dat dar warn't no use wastin' powder on dem chickens.

Dey went ober de neighborhood stealin' an' killin' stock. I hyard 'bout 'em ketchin' a pig, cuttin' off his hams an' leave him dar alive. De foun' all de things we done hid, not dat I thinks dat dey am witches, but dat dey has a money rod, an' 'cides dat some of de slaves tol' 'em whar marster had hid de things.

Yes 'um, I reckon I wuz glad ter git free, case I knows den dat I won't wake up some mornin' ter fin' dat my mammy or some ob de rest of my family am done sold. I left de day I hyard 'bout de surrender an' I fared right good too, do' I knows dem what ain't farin' so well.

I ain't neber learn ter read an' write an' I knows now dat I neber will. I can't eben write a letter ter Raleigh 'bout my ole man's pension.

I 'members de days when mammy wored a blue hankerchief 'round her haid an' cooked in de great house. She'd sometimes sneak me a cookie or a cobbler an' fruits. She had her own little gyardin an' a few chickens an' we w'oud ov been happy 'cept dat we wuz skeered o' bein' sold.

I'se glad dat slavery am ober, case now de nigger has got a chanct ter live an' larn wid de whites. Dey won't neber be as good as de whites but dey can larn ter live an' enjoy life more.

Speakin' 'bout de Ku Klux dey ain't do nothin' but scare me back in '69, but iffen we had some now I thinks dat some of dese young niggers what has forgot what dey mammies tol' 'em would do better.


N. C. District: No. 2 [320249] Worker: Mary A. Hicks No. Words: 678 Subject: MARY BARBOUR Person Interviewed: Mary Barbour Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: No Date Stamp]


Ex-Slave Story

An interview with Mary Barbour 81 of 801 S. Bloodworth Street, Raleigh, N. C.

I reckon dat I wuz borned in McDowell County, case dat's whar my mammy, Edith, lived. She 'longed ter Mr. Jefferson Mitchel dar, an' my pappy 'longed ter er Mr. Jordan in Avery County, so he said.

'Fore de war, I doan know nothin' much 'cept dat we lived on a big plantation an' dat my mammy wucked hard, but wuz treated pretty good.

We had our little log cabin off ter one side, an' my mammy had sixteen chilluns. Fas' as dey got three years old de marster sol' 'em till we las' four dat she had wid her durin' de war. I wuz de oldes' o' dese four; den dar wuz Henry an' den de twins, Liza an' Charlie.

One of de fust things dat I 'members wuz my pappy wakin' me up in de middle o' de night, dressin' me in de dark, all de time tellin' me ter keep quiet. One o' de twins hollered some an' pappy put his hand ober its mouth ter keep it quiet.

Atter we wuz dressed he went outside an' peeped roun' fer a minute den he comed back an' got us. We snook out o' de house an' long de woods path, pappy totin' one of de twins an' holdin' me by de han' an' mammy carryin' de udder two.

I reckons dat I will always 'member dat walk, wid de bushes slappin' my laigs, de win' sighin' in de trees, an' de hoot owls an' whippoorwills hollerin' at each other frum de big trees. I wuz half asleep an' skeered stiff, but in a little while we pass de plum' thicket an' dar am de mules an' wagin.

Dar am er quilt in de bottom o' de wagin, an' on dis dey lays we youngins. An' pappy an' mammy gits on de board cross de front an' drives off down de road.

I wuz sleepy but I wuz skeered too, so as we rides 'long I lis'ens ter pappy an' mammy talk. Pappy wuz tellin' mammy 'bout de Yankees comin' ter dere plantation, burnin' de co'n cribs, de smokehouses an' 'stroyin' eber'thing. He says right low dat dey done took marster Jordan ter de Rip Raps down nigh Norfolk, an' dat he stol' de mules an' wagin an' 'scaped.

We wuz skeerd of de Yankees ter start wid, but de more we thinks 'bout us runnin' way frum our marsters de skeerder we gits o' de Rebs. Anyhow pappy says dat we is goin' ter jine de Yankees.

We trabels all night an' hid in de woods all day fer a long time, but atter awhile we gits ter Doctor Dillard's place, in Chowan County. I reckons dat we stays dar seberal days.

De Yankees has tooked dis place so we stops ober, an' has a heap o' fun dancin' an' sich while we am dar. De Yankees tells pappy ter head fer New Bern an' dat he will be took keer of dar, so ter New Bern we goes.

When we gits ter New Bern de Yankees takes de mules an' wagin, dey tells pappy something, an' he puts us on a long white boat named Ocean Waves an' ter Roanoke we goes.

Later I larns dat most o' de reffes[2] is put in James City, nigh New Bern, but dar am a pretty good crowd on Roanoke. Dar wuz also a ole Indian Witch 'oman dat I 'members.

Atter a few days dar de Ocean Waves comes back an' takes all ober ter New Bern. My pappy wuz a shoemaker, so he makes Yankee boots, an' we gits 'long pretty good.

I wuz raised in New Bern an' I lived dar till forty years ago when me an' my husban' moved ter Raleigh an' do' he's been daid a long time I has lived hyar ober [TR: eber] since an' eben if'en I is eighty-one years old I can still outwuck my daughter an' de rest of dese young niggers.

[Footnote 2: refugees]

N. C. District: No. 2 [320162] Worker: Mary A. Hicks No. Words: 927 Subject: Plantation Times Person Interviewed: Alice Baugh Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: Date Stamp "JUN 1 1937"]


An Interview on May 18, 1937 with Alice Baugh, 64, who remembers hearing her mother tell of slavery days.

My mammy Ferbie, an' her brother Darson belonged ter Mr. David Hinnant in Edgecombe County till young Marster Charlie got married. Den dey wuz drawed an' sent wid him down hyar ter Wendell. De ole Hinnant home am still standin' dar ter dis day.

Marster Charlie an' Missus Mary wuz good ter de hundred slaves what belonged ter' em. Dey gib 'em good houses, good feed, good clothes an' plenty uv fun. Dey had dere co'n shuckin's, dere barn dances, prayer meetin's an' sich like all de year, an' from Christmas till de second day o' January dey had a holiday wid roast oxes, pigs, turkey an' all de rest o' de fixin's. From Saturday till Monday de slaves wuz off an' dey had dere Sunday clothes, which wuz nice. De marster always gib 'em a paper so's de patterollers won't git 'em.

Dey went up de riber to other plantations ter dances an' all dem things, an' dey wuz awful fond uv singin' songs. Dat's whut dey done atter dey comes ter dere cabins at de end o' de day. De grown folkses sings an' somebody pickin' de banjo. De favorite song wuz 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' an' 'Play on yo' Harp Little David'. De chilluns uster play Hide an' Seek, an' Leap Frog, an' ever'body wuz happy.

Dey had time off ter hunt an' fish an' dey had dere own chickens, pigs, watermillons an' gyardens. De fruits from de big orchard an' de honey from de hives wuz et at home, an' de slave et as good as his marster et. Dey had a whole heap o' bee hives an' my mammy said dat she had ter tell dem bees when Mis' Mary died. She said how she wuz cryin' so hard dat she can't hardly tell 'em, an' dat dey hum lak dey am mo'nin' too.

My mammy marry my pappy dar an' she sez dat de preacher from de Methodis' Church marry 'em, dat she w'ar Miss Mary's weddin' dress, all uv white lace, an' dat my pappy w'ar Mr. Charlie's weddin' suit wid a flower in de button hole. Dey gived a big dance atter de supper dey had, an' Marster Charlie dance de first [HW correction: fust] set wid my mammy.

I jist thought of a tale what I hyard my mammy tell 'bout de Issue Frees of Edgecombe County when she wuz a little gal. She said dat de Issue Frees wuz mixed wid de white folks, an' uv cou'se dat make 'em free. Sometimes dey stay on de plantation, but a whole heap uv dem, long wid niggers who had done runned away from dere marster, dugged caves in de woods, an' dar dey lived an' raised dere families dar. Dey ain't wored much clothes an' what dey got to eat an' to w'ar dey swiped from de white folkses. Mammy said dat she uster go ter de spring fer water, an' dem ole Issue Frees up in de woods would yell at her, 'Doan yo' muddy dat spring, little gal'. Dat scared her moughty bad.

Dem Issue Frees till dis day shows both bloods. De white folkses won't have 'em an' de niggers doan want 'em but will have ter have 'em anyhow.

My uncle wuz raised in a cave an' lived on stold stuff an' berries. My cousin runned away 'cause his marster wuz mean ter him, but dey put de blood hounds on his trail, ketched him. Atter he got well from de beatin' dey gib him, dey sold him.

I'se hyard ole lady Prissie Jones who died at de age of 103 las' winter tell 'bout marsters dat when dere slaves runned away dey'd set de bloodhounds on dere trail an' when dey ketched 'em dey'd cut dere haids off wid de swords.

Ole lady Prissie tole 'bout slaves what ain't had nothin' ter eat an' no clothes 'cept a little strip uv homespun, but my mammy who died four months ago at de age 106 said dat she ain't knowed nothin' 'bout such doin's.

When de Yankees come, dey come a burnin' an' a-stealin' an' Marster Charlie carried his val'ables ter mammy's cabin, but dey found 'em. Dey had a money rod an' dey'd find all de stuff no matter whar it wuz. Mammy said dat all de slaves cried when de Yankees come, an' dat most uv 'em stayed on a long time atter de war. My mammy plowed an' done such work all de time uv slavery, but she done it case she wanted to do it an' not 'cause dey make her.

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