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Title: Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States - From Interviews with Former Slaves - Georgia Narratives, Part 3
Author: Work Projects Administration
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States - From Interviews with Former Slaves - Georgia Narratives, Part 3" ***

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images generously made available by the Library of Congress,
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[TR: ***] = Transcriber Note
[HW: ***] = Handwritten Note


A Folk History of Slavery in the United States
From Interviews with Former Slaves


Illustrated with Photographs





the Federal Writers' Project of
the Works Progress Administration
for the State of Georgia


Kendricks, Jennie                       1
Kilpatrick, Emmaline                    8
Kimbrough, Frances                     14
King, Charlie                          16
Kinney, Nicey                          21

Larken, Julia                          34
Lewis, George                          47

McCommons, Mirriam                     51
McCree, Ed                             56
McCullough, Lucy                       66
McDaniel, Amanda                       71
McGruder, Tom                          76
McIntosh, Susan                        78
McKinney, Matilda                      88
McWhorter, William                     91
Malone, Mollie                        104
Mason, Charlie                        108
  [TR: In the interview, Aunt Carrie Mason]
Matthews, Susan                       115
Mays, Emily                           118
Mention, Liza                         121
Miller, Harriet                       126
Mitchell, Mollie                      133
Mobley, Bob                           136

Nix, Fanny                            139
Nix, Henry                            143

Ogletree, Lewis                       146
Orford, Richard                       149

Parkes, Anna                          153
Pattillio, G.W.                       165
  [TR: In the interview,  G.W. Pattillo]
Pope, Alec                            171
Price, Annie                          178
Pye, Charlie                          185

Raines, Charlotte                     189
Randolph, Fanny                       194
Richards, Shade                       200
Roberts, Dora                         206
Rogers, Ferebe                        209
Rogers, Henry                         217
Rush, Julia                           229

Settles, Nancy                        232
Sheets, Will                          236
Shepherd, Robert                      245
Singleton, Tom                        264
Smith, Charles                        274
  [TR: In the interview, Charlie Tye Smith]
Smith, Georgia                        278
Smith, Mary                           285
Smith, Melvin                         288
Smith, Nancy                          295
Smith, Nellie                         304
Smith, Paul                           320
Stepney, Emeline                      339
Styles, Amanda                        343

Transcriber's Notes:

[TR: The interview headers presented here contain all information
included in the original, but may have been rearranged for readability.
Also, some ages and addresses have been drawn from blocks of information
on subsequent interview pages. Names in brackets were drawn from text of

[TR: Some interviews were date-stamped; these dates have been added to
interview headers in brackets. Where part of date could not be
determined -- has been substituted. These dates do not appear to
represent actual interview dates, rather dates completed interviews were
received or perhaps transcription dates.]

[HW: Dist 5
Ex-Slave #63]


[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

Jennie Kendricks, the oldest of 7 children, was born in Sheram, Georgia
in 1855. Her parents were Martha and Henry Bell. She says that the first
thing she remembers is being whipped by her mother.

Jennie Kendricks' grandmother and her ten children lived on this
plantation. The grandmother had been brought to Georgia from Virginia:
"She used to tell me how the slave dealers brought her and a group of
other children along much the same as they would a herd of cattle," said
the ex-slave, "when they reached a town all of them had to dance through
the streets and act lively so that the chances for selling them would be

When asked to tell about Mr. Moore, her owner, and his family Jennie
Kendricks stated that although her master owned and operated a large
plantation, he was not considered a wealthy man. He owned only two other
slaves besides her immediate family and these were men.

"In Mr. Moores family were his mother, his wife, and six children (four
boys and two girls). This family lived very comfortably in a two storied
weatherboard house. With the exception of our grandmother who cooked for
the owner's family and slaves, and assisted her mistress with housework
all the slaves worked in the fields where they cultivated cotton and the
corn, as well as the other produce grown there. Every morning at sunrise
they had to get up and go to the fields where they worked until it was
too dark to see. At noon each day they were permitted to come to the
kitchen, located just a short distance in the rear of the master's
house, where they were served dinner. During the course of the day's
work the women shared all the men's work except plowing. All of them
picked cotton when it was time to gather the crops. Some nights they
were required to spin and to help Mrs. Moore, who did all of the
weaving. They used to do their own personal work, at night also." Jennie
Kendricks says she remembers how her mother and the older girls would go
to the spring at night where they washed their clothes and then left
them to dry on the surrounding bushes.

As a little girl Jennie Kendricks spent all of her time in the master's
house where she played with the young white children. Sometimes she and
Mrs. Moore's youngest child, a little boy, would fight because it
appeared to one that the other was receiving more attention from Mrs.
Moore than the other. As she grew older she was kept in the house as a
playmate to the Moore children so she never had to work in the field a
single day.

She stated that they all wore good clothing and that all of it was made
on the plantation with one exception. The servants spun the thread and
Mrs. Moore and her daughters did all of the weaving as well as the
making of the dresses that were worn on this particular plantation. "The
way they made this cloth", she continued, "was to wind a certain amount
of thread known as a "cut" onto a reel. When a certain number of cuts
were reached they were placed on the loom. This cloth was colored with a
dye made from the bark of trees or with a dye that was made from the
indigo berry cultivated on the plantation. The dresses that the women
wore on working days were made of striped or checked materials while
those worn on Sunday were usually white."

She does not know what the men wore on work days as she never came in
contact with them. Stockings for all were knitted on the place. The
shoes, which were the one exception mentioned above, were made by one
Bill Jacobs, an elderly white man who made the shoes for all the
plantations in the community. The grown people wore heavy shoes called
"Brogans" while those worn by the children were not so heavy and were
called "Pekers" because of their narrow appearance. For Sunday wear, all
had shoes bought for this purpose. Mr. Moore's mother was a tailoress
and at times, when the men were able to get the necessary material, she
made their suits.

There was always enough feed for everybody on the Moore plantation. Mrs.
Moore once told Jennie's mother to always see that her children had
sufficient to eat so that they would not have to steal and would
therefore grow up to be honorable. As the Grandmother did all of the
cooking, none of the other servants ever had to cook, not even on
Sundays or other holidays such as the Fourth of July. There was no stove
in this plantation kitchen, all the cooking was done at the large
fireplace where there were a number of hooks called potracks. The pots,
in which the cooking was done, hung from these hooks directly over the

The meals served during the week consisted of vegetables, salt bacon,
corn bread, pot liquor, and milk. On Sunday they were served milk,
biscuits, vegetables, and sometimes chicken. Jennie Kendricks ate all of
her meals in the master's house and says that her food was even better.
She was also permitted to go to the kitchen to get food at any time
during the day. Sometimes when the boys went hunting everyone was given
roast 'possum and other small game. The two male slaves were often
permitted to accompany them but were not allowed to handle the guns.
None of the slaves had individual gardens of their own as food
sufficient for their needs was raised in the master's garden.

The houses that they lived in were one-roomed structures made of heavy
plank instead of logs, with planer [HW: ?] floors. At one end of this
one-roomed cabin there was a large chimney and fireplace made of rocks,
mud, and dirt. In addition to the one door, there was a window at the
back. Only one family could live in a cabin as the space was so limited.
The furnishings of each cabin consisted of a bed and one or two chairs.
The beds were well constructed, a great deal better than some of the
beds the ex-slave saw during these days. Regarding mattresses she said,
"We took some tick and stuffed it with cotton and corn husks, which had
been torn into small pieces and when we got through sewing it looked
like a mattress that was bought in a store."

Light was furnished by lightwood torches and sometimes by the homemade
tallow candles. The hot tallow was poured into a candle mold, which was
then dipped into a pan of cold water, when the tallow had hardened, the
finished product was removed.

Whenever there was sickness, a doctor was always called. As a child
Gussie was rather sickly, and a doctor was always called to attend to
her. In addition to the doctor's prescriptions there was heart leaf tea
and a warm remedy of garlic tea prepared by her grandmother.

If any of the slaves ever pretended sickness to avoid work, she knows
nothing about it.

As a general rule, slaves were not permitted to learn to read or write,
but the younger Moore children tried to teach her to spell, read, and
write. When she used to stand around Mrs. Moore when she was sewing she
appeared to be interested and so she was taught to sew.

Every Sunday afternoon they were all permitted to go to town where a
colored pastor preached to them. This same minister performed all
marriages after the candidates had secured the permission of the master.

There was only one time when Mr. Moore found it necessary to sell any of
his slaves. On this occasion he had to sell two; he saw that they were
sold to another kind master.

The whipping on most plantation were administered by the [HW: over]seers
and in some cases punishment was rather severe. There was no overseer on
this plantation. Only one of Mr. Moore's sons told the field hands what
to do. When this son went to war it became necessary to hire an
overseer. Once he attempted to whip one of the women but when she
refused to allow him to whip her he never tried to whip any of the
others. Jennie Kendricks' husband, who was also a slave, once told her
his master was so mean that he often whipped his slaves until blood ran
in their shoes.

There was a group of men, known as the "Patter-Rollers", whose duty it
was to see that slaves were not allowed to leave their individual
plantations without passes which [HW: they] were supposed to receive
from their masters. "A heap of them got whippings for being caught off
without these passes," she stated, adding that "sometimes a few of them
were fortunate enough to escape from the Patter-Rollers". She knew of
one boy who, after having outrun the "Patter-Rollers", proceeded to make
fun of them after he was safe behind his master's fence. Another man
whom the Patter-Rollers had pursued any number of times but who had
always managed to escape, was finally caught one day and told to pray
before he was given his whipping. As he obeyed he noticed that he was
not being closely observed, whereupon he made a break that resulted in
his escape from them again.

The treatment on some of the other plantations was so severe that slaves
often ran away, Jennie Kendricks told of one man [HW: who was] [TR:
"being" crossed out] lashed [HW: and who] ran away but was finally
caught. When his master brought him back he was locked in a room until
he could be punished. When the master finally came to administer the
whipping, Lash had cut his own throat in a last effort to secure his
freedom. He was not successful; his life was saved by quick action on
the part of his master. Sometime later after rough handling Lash finally
killed his master [HW: and] was burned at the stake for this crime.

Other slaves were more successful at escape, some being able to remain
away for as long as three years at a time. At nights, they slipped to
the plantation where they stole hogs and other food. Their shelters were
usually caves, some times holes dug in the ground. Whenever they were
caught, they were severely whipped.

A slave might secure his freedom without running away. This is true in
the case of Jennie Kendricks' grandfather who, after hiring his time out
for a number of years, was able to save enough money with which to
purchase himself from his master.

Jennie Kendricks remembers very little of the talk between her master
and mistress concerning the war. She does remember being taken to see
the Confederate soldiers drill a short distance from the house. She says
"I though it was very pretty, 'course I did'nt know what was causing
this or what the results would be". Mr. Moore's oldest sons went to war
[HW: but he] himself did not enlist until the war was nearly over. She
was told that the Yankee soldiers burned all the gin houses and took all
live stock that they saw while on the march, but no soldiers passed near
their plantation.

After the war ended and all the slaves had been set free, some did not
know it, [HW: as] they were not told by their masters. [HW: A number of
them] were tricked into signing contracts which bound them to their
masters for several years longer.

As for herself and her grandmother, they remained on the Moore property
where her grandmother finally died. Her mother moved away when freedom
was declared and started working for someone else. It was about this
time that Mr. Moore began to prosper, he and his brother Marvin gone
into business together.

According to Jennie Kendricks, she has lived to reach such a ripe old
age because she has always been obedient and because she has always
been a firm believer in God.

[HW: Dist 1
Ex-Slave #62]

Born a slave on the plantation of
Judge William Watson Moore,
White Plains, (Greene County) Georgia

[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

One morning in October, as I finished planting hyacinth bulbs on my
cemetery lot, I saw an old negro woman approaching. She was Emmaline
Kilpatrick, born in 1863, on my grandfather's plantation.

"Mawnin' Miss Sarah," she began, "Ah seed yer out hyar in de graveyard,
en I cum right erlong fer ter git yer ter read yo' Aunt Willie's
birthday, offen her toomstone, en put it in writin' fer me."

"I don't mind doing that for you, Emmaline," I replied, "but why do you
want to know my aunt's birthday?"

"Well," answered the old ex-slave, "I can't rightly tell mah age no
udder way. My mammy, she tole me, I wuz bawned de same night ez Miss
Willie wuz, en mammy allus tole me effen I ever want ter know how ole I
is, jes' ask my white folks how ole Miss Willie is."

When I had pencilled the birthdate on a scrap of paper torn from my note
book and she had tucked it carefully away in a pocket in her clean blue
checked gingham apron, Emmaline began to talk of the old days on my
grandfather's farm.

"Miss Sarah, Ah sho did love yo' aunt Willie. We wuz chilluns growin' up
tergedder on Marse Billie's place. You mought not know it, but black
chilluns gits grown heap faster den white chilluns, en whilst us played
'round de yard, en orchards, en pastures out dar, I wuz sposed ter take
care er Miss Willie en not let her git hurt, er nuthin' happen ter her."

"My mammy say dat whan Marse Billie cum hom' frum de War, he call all
his niggers tergedder en tell 'am dey is free, en doan b'long ter nobody
no mo'. He say dat eny uf 'um dat want to, kin go 'way and live whar dey
laks, en do lak dey wanter. Howsome ebber, he do say effen enybody wants
ter stay wid him, en live right on in de same cabins, dey kin do it,
effen dey promise him ter be good niggers en mine him lak dey allus

"Most all de niggers stayed wid Marse Billie, 'ceppen two er thee brash,
good fer nuthin's."

Standing there in the cemetery, as I listened to old Emmaline tell of
the old days, I could see cotton being loaded on freight cars at the
depot. I asked Emmaline to tell what she could remember of the days whan
we had no railroad to haul the cotton to market.

"Well," she said, "Fore dis hyar railroad wuz made, dey hauled de cotton
ter de Pint (She meant Union Point) en sold it dar. De Pint's jes' 'bout
twelve miles fum hyar. Fo' day had er railroad thu de Pint, Marse Billie
used ter haul his cotton clear down ter Jools ter sell it. My manny say
dat long fo' de War he used ter wait twel all de cotton wuz picked in de
fall, en den he would have it all loaded on his waggins. Not long fo'
sundown he wud start de waggins off, wid yo' unker Anderson bossin' 'em,
on de all night long ride towards Jools. 'Bout fo' in de mawnin' Marse
Billie en yo' grammaw, Miss Margie, 'ud start off in de surrey, driving
de bays, en fo' dem waggins git ter Jools Marse Billie done cotch up wid
em. He drive er head en lead em on ter de cotton mill in Jools, whar he
sell all his cotton. Den him en Miss Margie, dey go ter de mill sto' en
buy white sugar en udder things dey doan raise on de plantation, en load
'em on de waggins en start back home."

"But Emmaline," I interrupted, "Sherman's army passed through Jewels and
burned the houses and destroyed the property there. How did the people
market their cotton then?"

Emmaline scratched her head. "Ah 'members somepin 'bout dat," she
declared. "Yassum, I sho' does 'member my mammy sayin' dat folks sed
when de Fed'rals wuz bunnin' up evvy thing 'bout Jools, dey wuz settin'
fire ter de mill, when de boss uv dem sojers look up en see er sign up
over er upstairs window. Hit wuz de Mason's sign up day, kaze dat wuz de
Mason's lodge hall up over de mill. De sojer boss, he meks de udder
sojers put out de fire. He say him er Mason hisself en he ain' gwine see
nobuddy burn up er Masonic Hall. Dey kinder tears up some uv de fixin's
er de Mill wuks, but dey dassent burn down de mill house kaze he ain't
let 'em do nuthin' ter de Masonic Hall. Yar knows, Miss Sarah, Ah wuz
jes' 'bout two years ole when dat happen, but I ain't heered nuffin'
'bout no time when dey didden' take cotton ter Jools ever year twel de
railroad come hyar."

"Did yer ax me who mah'ed my maw an paw? Why, Marse Billie did, cose he
did! He wuz Jedge Moore, Marse Billie wuz, en he wone gwine hev no
foolis'mant 'mongst 'is niggers. Fo' de War en durin' de War, de niggers
went ter de same church whar dare white folks went. Only de niggers, dey
set en de gallery."

"Marse Billie made all his niggers wuk moughty hard, but he sho' tuk
good keer uv 'em. Miss Margie allus made 'em send fer her when de
chilluns wuz bawned in de slave cabins. My mammy, she say, Ise 'bout de
onliest slave baby Miss Margie diden' look after de bawnin, on dat
plantation. When any nigger on dat farm wuz sick, Marse Billie seed dat
he had medicine an lookin' atter, en ef he wuz bad sick Marse Billie had
da white folks doctor come see 'bout 'im."

"Did us hev shoes? Yas Ma'am us had shoes. Dat wuz all ole Pegleg wuz
good fer, jes ter mek shoes, en fix shoes atter dey wuz 'bout ter give
out. Pegleg made de evvy day shoes for Marse Billie's own chilluns,
'cept now en den Marse Billie fetched 'em home some sto' bought shoes
fun Jools."

"Yassum, us sho' wuz skeered er ghosts. Dem days when de War won't long
gone, niggers sho' wus skert er graveyards. Mos' evvy nigger kep' er
rabbit foot, kaze ghosties wone gwine bodder nobuddy dat hed er lef'
hind foot frum er graveyard rabbit. Dem days dar wuz mos' allus woods
'round de graveyards, en it uz easy ter ketch er rabbit az he loped
outer er graveyard. Lawsy, Miss Sarah, dose days Ah sho' wouldn't er
been standin' hyar in no graveyard talkin' ter ennybody, eben in wide
open daytime."

"En you ax wuz dey enny thing else uz wuz skert uv? Yassum, us allus did
git moughty oneasy ef er scritch owl hollered et night. Pappy ud hop
right out er his bed en stick de fire shovel en de coals. Effen he did
dat rat quick, an look over 'is lef' shoulder whilst de shovel gittin'
hot, den maybe no no nigger gwine die dat week on dat plantation. En us
nebber did lak ter fine er hawse tail hair en de hawse trough, kaze us
wuz sho' ter meet er snake fo' long."

"Yassum, us had chawms fer heap er things. Us got 'em fum er ole Injun
'oman dat lived crost de crick. Her sold us chawms ter mek de mens lak
us, en chawms dat would git er boy baby, er anudder kind er chawms effen
yer want er gal baby. Miss Margie allus scold 'bout de chawns, en mek us
shamed ter wear 'em, 'cept she doan mine ef us wear asserfitidy chawms
ter keep off fevers, en she doan say nuffin when my mammy wear er nutmeg
on a wool string 'round her neck ter keep off de rheumatiz.

"En is you got ter git on home now, Miss Sarah? Lemme tote dat hoe en
trowel ter yer car fer yer. Yer gwine ter take me home in yer car wid
yer, so ez I kin weed yer flower gyarden fo' night? Yassum, I sho' will
be proud ter do it fer de black dress you wo' las' year. Ah gwine ter
git evvy speck er grass outer yo' flowers, kaze ain' you jes' lak yo'
grammaw--my Miss Margie."

[HW: Dist 6
Ex Slave #65]

J.R. Jones

Place of birth: On Kimbrough plantation, Harries County,
near Cataula, Georgia
Date of birth: About 1854
Present residence: 1639-5th Avenue, Columbus, Georgia
Interviewed: August 7, 1936
[Date Stamp: MAY 8 --]

"Aunt Frances" story reveals that, her young "marster" was Dr. Jessie
Kimbrough--a man who died when she was about eighteen years of age. But
a few weeks later, while working in the field one day, she saw "Marse
Jessie's" ghost leaning against a pine "watchin us free Niggers wuckin."

When she was about twenty-two years of age, "a jealous Nigger oman"
"tricked" her. The "spell" cast by this "bad oman" affected the victim's
left arm and hand. Both became numb and gave her great "misery". A
peculiar feature of this visitation of the "conjurer's" spite was: if a
friend or any one massaged or even touched the sufferer's afflicted arm
or hand, that person was also similarly stricken the following day,
always recovering, however, on the second day.

Finally, "Aunt" Frances got in touch with a "hoodoo" doctor, a man who
lived in Muscogee County--about twenty-five miles distant from her. This
man paid the patient one visit, then gave her absent treatment for
several weeks, at the end of which time she recovered the full use of
her arm and hand. Neither ever gave her any trouble again.

For her old-time "white fokes", "Aunt" Frances entertains an almost
worshipful memory. Also, in her old age, she reflects the superstitious
type of her race.

Being so young when freedom was declared, emancipation did not have as
much significance for "Aunt" Frances as it did for the older colored
people. In truth, she had no true conception of what it "wuz all about"
until several years later. But she does know that she had better food
and clothes before the slaves were freed than she had in the years
immediately following.

She is deeply religious, as most ex-slaves are, but--as typical of the
majority of aged Negroes--associates "hants" and superstition with her

[HW: Dist 6
Ex-Slave #64]

Mary A. Crawford
Re-Search Worker

435 E. Taylor Street, Griffin, Georgia
September 16, 1936

Charlie was born in Sandtown, (now Woodbury) Meriwether County, Georgia,
eighty-five or six years ago. He does not know his exact age because his
"age got burned up" when the house in which his parents lived was burned
to the ground.

The old man's parents, Ned and Ann King, [TR: "were slaves of" crossed
out] Mr. John King, who owned a big plantation near Sandtown [TR: "also
about two hundred slaves" crossed out]. [TR: HW corrections are too
faint to read.]

Charlie's parents were married by the "broom stick ceremony." The Master
and Mistress were present at the wedding. The broom was laid down on the
floor, the couple held each other's hands and stepped backward over it,
then the Master told the crowd that the couple were man and wife.

This marriage lasted for over fifty years and they "allus treated each
other right."

Charlie said that all the "Niggers" on "ole Master's place" had to work,
"even chillun over seven or eight years of age."

The first work that Charlie remembered was "toting cawn" for his mother
"to drap", and sweeping the yards up at the "big house". He also recalls
that many times when he was in the yard at the "big house", "Ole Miss"
would call him in and give him a buttered biscuit.

The Master and Mistress always named the Negro babies and usually gave
them Bible names.

When the Negroes were sick, "Ole Master" and "Ole Miss" did the
doctoring, sometimes giving them salts or oil, and if [HW: a Negro]
refused it, they used the raw hide "whup."

When a member of a Negro family died, the master permitted all the
Negroes to stop work and go to the funeral. The slave was buried in the
slave grave yard. Sometimes a white minister read the Bible service, but
usually a Negro preacher [HW: "officiated"].

The Negroes on this plantation had to work from sun up till sun down,
except Saturday and Sunday; those were free.

The master blew on a big conch shell every morning at four o'clock, and
when the first long blast was heard the lights "'gin to twinkle in every
"Nigger" cabin." Charlie, chuckling, recalled that "ole Master" blowed
that shell so it could-a-been heard for five miles." Some of the
"Niggers" went to feed the mules and horses, some to milk the cows, some
to cook the breakfast in the big house, some to chop the wood, while
others were busy cleaning up the "big house."

When asked if he believed in signs, Charlie replied: "I sho does for dis
reason. Once jest befo my baby brother died, ole screech owl, he done
come and set up in the big oak tree right at the doah by de bed and fo'
the next twelve hours passed, my brother was dead. Screech owls allus
holler 'round the house before death."

The slaves always had plenty to eat and wear, and therefore did not know
what it was to be hungry.

The Master planted many acres of cotton, corn, wheat, peas, and all
kinds of garden things. Every "Nigger family was required to raise
plenty of sweet potatoes, the Master giving them a patch." "My 'ole
Master' trained his smartest 'Niggers' to do certain kinds of work. My
mother was a good weaver, and [HW: she] wove all the cloth for her own
family, and bossed the weaving of all the other weavers on the

Charlie and all of his ten brothers and sisters helped to card and spin
the cotton for the looms. Sometimes they worked all night, Charlie often
going to sleep while carding, when his mother would crack him on the
head with the carder handle and wake him up. Each child had a night for
carding and spinning, so they all would get a chance to sleep.

Every Saturday night, the Negroes had a "breakdown," often dancing all
night long. About twelve o'clock they had a big supper, everybody
bringing a box of all kinds of good things to eat, and putting it on a
long table.

On Sunday, all the darkies had to go to church. Sometimes the Master had
a house on his plantation for preaching, and sometimes the slaves had to
go ten or twelve miles to preaching. When they went so far the slaves
could use 'ole' Master's' mules and wagons.

Charlie recalls very well when the Yankees came through. The first thing
they did when they reached 'ole Master's' place was to break open the
smokehouse and throw the best hams and shoulders out to the darkies, but
as soon as the Yankees passed, the white folks made the "Niggers" take
"all dey had'nt et up" back to the smokehouse. "Yes, Miss, we had plenty
of liquor. Ole Master always kept kegs of it in the cellar and big
'Jimmy-john's' full in the house, and every Saturday night he'd give us
darkies a dram, but nobody nevah seed no drunk Nigger lak dey does now."

Charlie's mother used to give her "chillun" "burnt whiskey" every
morning "to start the day off." This burnt whiskey gave them "long

Another thing that Charlie recalls about the Yankees coming through, was
that they took the saddles off their "old sore back horses", turned them
loose, and caught some of Master's fine "hosses", threw the saddles over
them and rode away.

Charlie said though "ole Marster" "whupped" when it was necessary, but
he was not "onmerciful" like some of the other "ole Marsters" were, but
the "paterolers would sho lay it on if they caught a Nigger off his home
plantation without a pass." The passes were written statements or
permits signed by the darkies' owner, or the plantation overseer.

Charlie is very feeble and unable to work. The Griffin Relief
Association [TR: "furnishes him his sustenance" crossed out, "sees to
him" or possibly "supports him" written in.]


R.F.D. #3
Athens, Ga.

Written by:
Miss Grace McCune

Edited by:
Mrs. Sarah H. Hall

John N. Booth
District Supervisor
Federal Writers' Proj.
Res. 6 & 7
Augusta, Ga.

Sept. 28, 1938

A narrow path under large water oaks led through a well-kept yard where
a profusion of summer flowers surrounded Nicey Kinney's two-story frame
house. The porch floor and a large portion of the roof had rotted down,
and even the old stone chimney at one end of the structure seemed to
sag. The middle-aged mulatto woman who answered the door shook her head
when asked if she was Nicey Kinney. "No, mam," she protested, "but dat's
my mother and she's sick in bed. She gits mighty lonesome lyin' dar in
de bed and she sho does love to talk. Us would be mighty proud if you
would come in and see her."

Nicey was propped up in bed and, although the heat of the September day
was oppressive, the sick woman wore a black shoulder cape over her thick
flannel nightgown; heavy quilts and blankets were piled close about her
thin form, and the window at the side of her bed was tightly closed. Not
a lock of her hair escaped the nightcap that enveloped her head. The
daughter removed an empty food tray and announced, "Mammy, dis lady's
come to see you and I 'spects you is gwine to lak her fine 'cause she
wants to hear 'bout dem old days dat you loves so good to tell about."
Nicey smiled. "I'se so glad you come to see me," she said, "'cause I
gits so lonesome; jus' got to stay here in dis bed, day in and day out.
I'se done wore out wid all de hard wuk I'se had to do, and now I'se a
aged 'oman, done played out and sufferin' wid de high blood pressur'.
But I kin talk and I does love to bring back dem good old days a-fore de

Newspapers had been pasted on the walls of Nicey's room. In one corner
an enclosed staircase was cut off from the room by a door at the head of
the third step; the space underneath the stair was in use as a closet.
The marble topped bureau, two double beds, a couple of small tables, and
some old chairs were all of a period prior to the current century. A pot
of peas was perched on a pair of "firedogs" over the coals of a wood
fire in the open fireplace. On a bed of red coals a thick iron pan held
a large pone of cornbread, and the tantalizing aroma of coffee drew
attention to a steaming coffeepot on a trivet in one corner of the
hearth. Nicey's daughter turned the bread over and said, "Missy, I jus'
bet you ain't never seed nobody cookin' dis way. Us is got a stove back
in de kitchen, but our somepin t'eat seems to taste better fixed dis
'way; it brings back dem old days when us was chillun and all of us was
at home wid mammy." Nicey grinned. "Missy," she said, "Annie--dat's dis
gal of mine here--laughs at de way I laks dem old ways of livin', but
she's jus' as bad 'bout 'em as I is, 'specially 'bout dat sort of
cookin'; somepin t'eat cooked in dat old black pot is sho good.

"Marse Gerald Sharp and his wife, Miss Annie, owned us and, Child, dey
was grand folks. Deir old home was 'way up in Jackson County 'twixt
Athens and Jefferson. Dat big old plantation run plumb back down to de
Oconee River. Yes, mam, all dem rich river bottoms was Marse Gerald's.

"Mammy's name was Ca'line and she b'longed to Marse Gerald, but Marse
Hatton David owned my daddy--his name was Phineas. De David place warn't
but 'bout a mile from our plantation and daddy was 'lowed to stay wid
his fambly most evvy night; he was allus wid us on Sundays. Marse Gerald
didn't have no slaves but my mammy and her chillun, and he was sho
mighty good to us.

"Marse Gerald had a nice four-room house wid a hall all de way through
it. It even had two big old fireplaces on one chimbly. No, mam, it
warn't a rock chimbly; dat chimbly was made out of home-made bricks.
Marster's fambly had deir cookin' done in a open fireplace lak evvybody
else for a long time and den jus' 'fore de big war he bought a stove.
Yes, mam, Marse Gerald bought a cook stove and us felt plumb rich 'cause
dere warn't many folks dat had stoves back in dem days.

"Mammy lived in de old kitchen close by de big house 'til dere got to be
too many of us; den Marse Gerald built us a house jus' a little piece
off from de big house. It was jus' a log house, but Marster had all dem
cracks chinked tight wid red mud, and he even had one of dem
franklin-back chimblies built to keep our little cabin nice and warm.
Why, Child, ain't you never seed none of dem old chimblies? Deir backs
sloped out in de middle to throw out de heat into de room and keep too
much of it from gwine straight up de flue. Our beds in our cabin was
corded jus' lak dem up at de big house, but us slept on straw ticks and,
let me tell you, dey sho slept good atter a hard days's wuk.

"De bestest water dat ever was come from a spring right nigh our cabin
and us had long-handled gourds to drink it out of. Some of dem gourds
hung by de spring all de time and dere was allus one or two of 'em
hangin' by de side of our old cedar waterbucket. Sho', us had a cedar
bucket and it had brass hoops on it; dat was some job to keep dem hoops
scrubbed wid sand to make 'em bright and shiny, and dey had to be clean
and pretty all de time or mammy would git right in behind us wid a
switch. Marse Gerald raised all dem long-handled gourds dat us used
'stid of de tin dippers folks has now, but dem warn't de onliest kinds
of gourds he growed on his place. Dere was gourds mos' as big as
waterbuckets, and dey had short handles dat was bent whilst de gourds
was green, so us could hang 'em on a limb of a tree in de shade to keep
water cool for us when us was wukin' in de field durin' hot weather.

"I never done much field wuk 'til de war come on, 'cause Mistess was
larnin' me to be a housemaid. Marse Gerald and Miss Annie never had no
chillun 'cause she warn't no bearin' 'oman, but dey was both mighty fond
of little folks. On Sunday mornin's mammy used to fix us all up nice and
clean and take us up to de big house for Marse Gerald to play wid. Dey
was good christian folks and tuk de mostest pains to larn us chillun how
to live right. Marster used to 'low as how he had done paid $500 for
Ca'line but he sho wouldn't sell her for no price.

"Evvything us needed was raised on dat plantation 'cept cotton. Nary a
stalk of cotton was growed dar, but jus' de same our clothes was made
out of cloth dat Mistess and my mammy wove out of thread us chillun
spun, and Mistess tuk a heap of pains makin' up our dresses. Durin' de
war evvybody had to wear homespun, but dere didn't nobody have no better
or prettier dresses den ours, 'cause Mistess knowed more'n anybody 'bout
dyein' cloth. When time come to make up a batch of clothes Mistess would
say, 'Ca'line holp me git up my things for dyein',' and us would fetch
dogwood bark, sumach, poison ivy, and sweetgum bark. That poison ivy
made the best black of anything us ever tried, and Mistess could dye the
prettiest sort of purple wid sweetgum bark. Cop'ras was used to keep de
colors from fadin', and she knowed so well how to handle it dat you
could wash cloth what she had dyed all day long and it wouldn't fade a

"Marster was too old to go to de war, so he had to stay home and he sho
seed dat us done our wuk raisin' somepin t'eat. He had us plant all our
cleared ground, and I sho has done some hard wuk down in dem old bottom
lands, plowin', hoein', pullin' corn and fodder, and I'se even cut
cordwood and split rails. Dem was hard times and evvybody had to wuk.

"Sometimes Marse Gerald would be away a week at a time when he went to
court at Jefferson, and de very last thing he said 'fore he driv off
allus was, 'Ca'line, you and de chillun take good care of Mistess.' He
most allus fetched us new shoes when he come back, 'cause he never kept
no shoemaker man on our place, and all our shoes was store-bought. Dey
was jus' brogans wid brass toes, but us felt powerful dressed up when us
got 'em on, 'specially when dey was new and de brass was bright and
shiny. Dere was nine of us chillun, four boys and five gals. Us gals had
plain cotton dresses made wid long sleeves and us wore big sunbonnets.
What would gals say now if dey had to wear dem sort of clothes and do
wuk lak what us done? Little boys didn't wear nothin' but long shirts in
summertime, but come winter evvybody had good warm clothes made out of
wool off of Marse Gerald's own sheep, and boys, even little tiny boys,
had britches in winter.

"Did you ever see folks shear sheep, Child? Well, it was a sight in dem
days. Marster would tie a sheep on de scaffold, what he had done built
for dat job, and den he would have me set on de sheep's head whilst he
cut off de wool. He sont it to de factory to have it carded into bats
and us chillun spun de thread at home and mammy and Mistess wove it into
cloth for our winter clothes. Nobody warn't fixed up better on church
days dan Marster's Niggers and he was sho proud of dat.

"Us went to church wid our white folks 'cause dere warn't no colored
churches dem days. None of de churches 'round our part of de country had
meetin' evvy Sunday, so us went to three diffunt meetin' houses. On de
fust Sunday us went to Captain Crick Baptist church, to Sandy Crick
Presbyterian church on second Sundays, and on third Sundays meetin' was
at Antioch Methodist church whar Marster and Mistess was members. Dey
put me under de watchkeer of deir church when I was a mighty little gal,
'cause my white folks sho b'lieved in de church and in livin' for God;
de larnin' dat dem two good old folks gimme is done stayed right wid me
all through life, so far, and I aims to live by it to de end. I didn't
sho 'nough jine up wid no church 'til I was done growed up and had left
Marse Gerald; den I jined de Cedar Grove Baptist church and was baptized
dar, and dar's whar I b'longs yit.

"Marster was too old to wuk when dey sot us free, so for a long time us
jus' stayed dar and run his place for him. I never seed none of dem
Yankee sojers but one time. Marster was off in Jefferson and while I was
down at de washplace I seed 'bout 12 men come ridin' over de hill. I was
sho skeered and when I run and told Mistess she made us all come inside
her house and lock all de doors. Dem Yankee mens jus' rode on through
our yard down to de river and stayed dar a little while; den dey turned
around and rid back through our yard and on down de big road, and us
never seed 'em no more.

"Soon atter dey was sot free Niggers started up churches of dey own and
it was some sight to see and hear 'em on meetin' days. Dey would go in
big crowds and sometimes dey would go to meetin's a fur piece off. Dey
was all fixed up in deir Sunday clothes and dey walked barfoots wid deir
shoes acrost deir shoulders to keep 'em from gittin' dirty. Jus' 'fore
dey got to de church dey stopped and put on deir shoes and den dey was
ready to git together to hear de preacher.

"Folks don't know nothin' 'bout hard times now, 'specially young folks;
dey is on de gravy train and don't know it, but dey is headed straight
for 'struction and perdition; dey's gwine to land in dat burnin' fire if
dey don't mind what dey's about. Jus' trust in de Lord, Honey, and cast
your troubles on Him and He'll stay wid you, but if you turns your back
on Him, den you is lost, plumb gone, jus' as sho as shelled corn.

"When us left Marse Gerald and moved nigh Athens he got a old Nigger
named Egypt, what had a big fambly, to live on his place and do all de
wuk. Old Marster didn't last long atter us was gone. One night he had
done let his farm hands have a big cornshuckin' and had seed dat dey had
plenty of supper and liquor to go wid it and, as was de custom dem days,
some of dem Niggers got Old Marster up on deir shoulders and toted him
up to de big house, singin' as dey went along. He was jus' as gay as dey
was, and joked de boys. When dey put him down on de big house porch he
told Old Mistess he didn't want no supper 'cept a little coffee and
bread, and he strangled on de fust bite. Mistess sont for de doctor but
he was too nigh gone, and it warn't long 'fore he had done gone into de
glory of de next world. He was 'bout 95 years old when he died and he
had sho been a good man. One of my nieces and her husband went dar atter
Marse Gerald died and tuk keer of Mistess 'til she went home to glory

"Mammy followed Old Mistess to glory in 'bout 3 years. Us was livin' on
de Johnson place den, and it warn't long 'fore me and George Kinney got
married. A white preacher married us, but us didn't have no weddin'
celebration. Us moved to de Joe Langford place in Oconee County, but
didn't stay dar but one year; den us moved 'crost de crick into Clarke
County and atter us farmed dar 9 years, us moved on to dis here place
whar us has been ever since. Plain old farmin' is de most us is ever
done, but George used to make some mighty nice cheers to sell to de
white folks. He made 'em out of hick'ry what he seasoned jus' right and
put rye split bottoms in 'em. Dem cheers lasted a lifetime; when dey got
dirty you jus' washed 'em good and sot 'em in de sun to dry and dey was
good as new. George made and sold a lot of rugs and mats dat he made out
of plaited shucks. Most evvybody kep' a shuck footmat 'fore deir front
doors. Dem sunhats made out of shucks and bulrushes was mighty fine to
wear in de field when de sun was hot. Not long atter all ten of our
chillun was borned, George died out and left me wid dem five boys and
five gals.

"Some old witch-man conjured me into marryin' Jordan Jackson. Dat's de
blessed truth, Honey; a fortune-teller is done told me how it was done.
I didn't want to have nothin' to do wid Jordan 'cause I knowed he was
jus' a no 'count old drinkin' man dat jus' wanted my land and stuff.
When he couldn't git me to pay him no heed hisself, he went to a old
conjure man and got him to put a spell on me. Honey, didn't you know dey
could do dat back in dem days? I knows dey could, 'cause I never woulda
run round wid no Nigger and married him if I hadn't been witched by dat
conjure business. De good Lord sho punishes folks for deir sins on dis
earth and dat old man what put dat spell on me died and went down to
burnin' hell, and it warn't long den 'fore de spell left me.

"Right den I showed dat no 'count Jordan Jackson dat I was a good 'oman,
a powerful sight above him, and dat he warn't gwine to git none of dis
land what my chillun's daddy had done left 'em. When I jus' stood right
up to him and showed him he warn't gwine to out whack me, he up and left
me and I don't even use his name no more 'cause I don't want it in my
business no way a t'all. Jordan's done paid his debt now since he died
and went down in dat big old burnin' hell 'long wid de old witch man dat
conjured me for him.

"Yes, Honey, de Lord done put it on record dat dere is sho a burnin'
place for torment, and didn't my Marster and Mistess larn me de same
thing? I sho does thank 'em to dis day for de pains dey tuk wid de
little Nigger gal dat growed up to be me, tryin' to show her de right
road to travel. Oh! If I could jus' see 'em one more time, but dey can
look down from de glory land and see dat I'se still tryin' to follow de
road dat leads to whar dey is, and when I gits to dat good and better
world I jus' knows de Good Lord will let dis aged 'oman be wid her dear
Marster and Mistess all through de time to come.

"Trust God, Honey, and He will lead you home to glory. I'se sho enjoyed
talkin' to you, and I thanks you for comin'. I'se gwine to ax Him to
take good keer of you and let you come back to cheer up old Nicey


693 Meigs Street
Athens, Georgia

Written by:
Miss Grace McCune

Edited by:
Mrs. Sarah H. Hall

John N. Booth
District Supervisor
Federal Writers' Project
Residencies 6 & 7
Augusta, Georgia

Julia's small three-room cottage is a servant house at the rear of a
white family's residence. A gate through an old-fashioned picket fence
led into a spacious yard where dense shade from tall pecan trees was
particularly inviting after a long walk in the sweltering heat.

An aged mulatto woman was seated on the narrow porch. Her straight white
hair was arranged in braids, and her faded print dress and enormous
checked apron were clean and carefully patched. A pair of dark colored
tennis shoes completed her costume. She arose, tall and erect, to greet
her visitor. "Yessum, dis here's Julia Larken," she said with a friendly
smile. "Come right in, Chile, and set here and rest on my nice cool
porch. I knows you's tired plumb out. You shouldn't be out walkin'
'round in dis hot sun--It ain't good for you. It'll make you have brain
fever 'fore you knows it."

When asked for the story of her life, Julia replied: "Lordy, Chile, did
you do all dis walkin', hot as it is today, jus' to hear dis old Nigger
talk? Well, jus' let me tell you, dem days back yonder 'fore de war was
de happiest time of my whole life.

"I don't know much 'bout slavery, 'cause I was jus' a little gal when de
war ended. I was borned in war times on Marse Payton Sails' plantation,
way off down in Lincoln County. My Ma was borned and bred right dar on
dat same place. Marster bought my Daddy and his Mammy from Captain
LeMars, and dey tuk de name of Sails atter dey come to live on his
place. Mammy's name was Betsy Sails and Daddy was named Sam'l. Dey was
married soon atter Marster fetched Daddy dar.

"Dere ain't no tellin' how big Marster's old plantation was. His house
set right on top of a high hill. His plantation road circled 'round dat
hill two or three times gittin' from de big road to de top of de hill.
Dere was a great deep well in de yard whar dey got de water for de big
house. Marster's room was upstairs and had steps on de outside dat come
down into de yard. On one side of his house was a fine apple orchard, so
big dat it went all de way down de hill to de big road.

"On de other side of de house was a large gyarden whar us raised
evvything in de way of good veg'tables; dere was beans, corn, peas,
turnips, collards, 'taters, and onions. Why dey had a big patch of
nothin' but onions. Us did love onions. Dere was allus plenty of good
meat in Marster's big old smokehouse dat stood close by de well.
Marster, he believed in raisin' heaps of meat. He had cows, hogs, goats,
and sheep, not to mention his chickens and turkeys.

"All de cloth for slaves' clothes was made at home. Mammy was one of de
cooks up at de big house, and she made cloth too. Daddy was de shoe man.
He made de shoes for all de folks on de plantation.

"De log cabins what de slaves lived in was off a piece from de big
house. Dem cabins had rock chimblies, put together wid red mud. Dere
warn't no glass in de windows and doors of dem cabins--jus' plain old
home-made wooden shutters and doors." Julia laughed as she told of their
beds. "Us called 'em four posters, and dat's what dey was, but dey was
jus' plain old pine posties what one of de men on de plantation made up.
Two posties at de head and two at de foot wid pine rails betwixt 'em was
de way dey made dem beds. Dere warn't no sto'-bought steel springs dem
days, not even for de white folks, but dem old cord springs went a long
ways towards makin' de beds comfortable and dey holped to hold de bed
together. De four poster beds de white folks slept on was corded too,
but deir posties warn't made out of pine. Dey used oak and walnut and
sometimes real mahogany, and dey carved 'em up pretty. Some of dem big
old posties to de white folkses beds was six inches thick.

"Slaves all et up at de big house in dat long old kitchen. I kin jus'
see dat kitchen now. It warn't built on to de big house, 'cept it was at
de end of a big porch dat went from it to de big house. A great big
fireplace was 'most all de way 'cross one end of dat kitchen, and it had
racks and cranes for de pots and pans and ovens but, jus' let me tell
you, our Marster had a cookstove too. Yessum, it was a real sho' 'nough
iron cookstove. No'm, it warn't 'zactly lak de stoves us uses now. It
was jus' a long, low stove, widout much laigs, jus' flat on top wid eyes
to cook on. De oven was at de bottom. Mammy and Grandma Mary was mighty
proud of dat stove, 'cause dere warn't nobody else 'round dar what had a
cookstove so us was jus' plumb rich folks.

"Slaves didn't come to de house for dinner when dey was wukin' a fur
piece off in de fields. It was sont to 'em, and dat was what kilt one of
my brothers. Whilst it was hot, de cooks would set de bucket of dinner
on his haid and tell him to run to de field wid it fore it got cold. He
died wid brain fever, and de doctor said it was from totin' all dem hot
victuals on his haid. Pore Brudder John, he sho' died out, and ever
since den I been skeered of gittin' too hot on top of de haid.

"Dere was twelve of Mammy's chillun in all, countin' Little Peter who
died out when he was a baby. De other boys was John, Tramer, Sam'l,
George, and Scott. De only one of my brothers left now is George,
leastwise I reckon he's livin' yet. De last 'count I had of him he was
in Chicago, and he must be 'bout a hundred years old now. De gals was me
and Mary, 'Merica, Hannah, Betsy, and Emma.

"'Fore Grandma Mary got too old to do all de cookin', Mammy wuked in de
field. Mammy said she allus woke up early, and she could hear Marster
when he started gittin' up. She would hurry and git out 'fore he had
time to call 'em. Sometimes she cotch her hoss and rid to the field
ahead of de others, 'cause Marster never laked for nobody to be late in
de mornin'. One time he got atter one of his young slaves out in de
field and told him he was a good mind to have him whupped. Dat night de
young Nigger was tellin' a old slave 'bout it, and de old man jus'
laughed and said: 'When Marster pesters me dat way I jus' rise up and
cuss him out.' Dat young fellow 'cided he would try it out and de next
time Marster got atter him dey had a rukus what I ain't never gwine to
forgit. Us was all out in de yard at de big house, skeered to git a good
breath when us heared Marster tell him to do somepin, 'cause us knowed
what he was meanin' to do. He didn't go right ahead and mind Marster lak
he had allus been used to doin'. Marster called to him again, and den
dat fool Nigger cut loose and he evermore did cuss Marster out. Lordy,
Chile, Marster jus' fairly tuk de hide off dat Nigger's back. When he
tried to talk to dat old slave 'bout it de old man laughed and said:
'Shucks, I allus waits 'til I gits to de field to cuss Marster so he
won't hear me.'

"Marster didn't have but two boys and one of 'em got kilt in de war. Dat
sho'ly did hurt our good old Marster, but dat was de onliest diffunce de
war made on our place. When it was over and dey said us was free, all de
slaves stayed right on wid de Marster; dat was all dey knowed to do.
Marster told 'em dey could stay on jus' as long as dey wanted to, and
dey was right dar on dat hill 'til Marster had done died out and gone to

"Us chillun thought hog killin' time wes de best time of all de year. Us
would hang 'round de pots whar dey was rendin' up de lard and all day us
et dem good old browned skin cracklin's and ash roasted 'taters. Marster
allus kilt from 50 to 60 hogs at a time. It tuk dat much meat to feed
all de folks dat had to eat from his kitchen. Little chillun never had
nothin' much to do 'cept eat and sleep and play, but now, jus' let me
tell you for sho', dere warn't no runnin' 'round nights lak dey does
now. Not long 'fore sundown dey give evvy slave chile a wooden bowl of
buttermilk and cornpone and a wooden spoon to eat it wid. Us knowed us
had to finish eatin' in time to be in bed by de time it got dark.

"Our homespun dresses had plain waisties wid long skirts gathered on to
'em. In hot weather chillun wore jus' one piece; dat was a plain slip,
but in cold weather us had plenty of good warm clothes. Dey wove cotton
and wool together to make warm cloth for our winter clothes and made
shoes for us to wear in winter too. Marster evermore did believe in
takin' good keer of his Niggers.

"I kin ricollect dat 'fore dere was any churches right in our
neighborhood, slaves would walk 8 and 10 miles to church. Dey would git
up 'way 'fore dawn on meetin' day, so as to git dar on time. Us wouldn't
wear our shoes on dem long walks, but jus' went barfoots 'til us got
nearly to de meetin' house. I jus' kin 'member dat, for chillun warn't
'lowed to try to walk dat fur a piece, but us could git up early in de
mornin' and see de grown folks start off. Dey was dressed in deir best
Sunday go-to-meetin' clothes and deir shoes, all shined up, was tied
together and hung over deir shoulders to keep 'em from gittin' dust on
'em. [HW in margin: Sunday clothing] Men folks had on plain homespun
shirts and jeans pants. De jeans what deir pants was made out of was
homespun too. Some of de 'omans wore homespun dresses, but most of 'em
had a calico dress what was saved special for Sunday meetin' wear.
'Omans wore two or three petticoats all ruffled and starched 'til one or
dem underskirts would stand by itself. Dey went barfoots wid deir shoes
hung over deir shoulders, jus' lak de mens, and evvy 'oman pinned up her
dress and evvy one of her petticoats but one to keep 'em from gittin'
muddy. Dresses and underskirts was made long enough to touch de ground
dem days. Dey allus went off singin', and us chillun would be wishin'
for de time when us would be old enough to wear long dresses wid
starched petticoats and go to meetin'. Us chillun tried our best to stay
'wake 'til dey got home so us could hear 'em talk 'bout de preachin' and
singin' and testifyin' for de Lord, and us allus axed how many had done
jined de church dat day.

"Long 'fore I was old enough to make dat trip on foot, dey built a
Baptist church nearby. It was de white folkses church, but dey let deir
own Niggers join dar too, and how us chillun did love to play 'round it.
No'm, us never broke out no windows or hurt nothin' playin' dar. Us
warn't never 'lowed to throw no rocks when us was on de church grounds.
De church was up on top of a high hill and at de bottom of dat hill was
de creek whar de white folks had a fine pool for baptizin'. Dey had
wooden steps to go down into it and a long wooden trough leadin' from de
creek to fill up de pool whenever dere was baptizin' to be done. Dey had
real sermons in dat church and folks come from miles around to see dem
baptizin's. White folks was baptized fust and den de Niggers. When de
time come for to baptize dem Niggers you could hear 'em singin' and
shoutin' a long ways off.

"It jus' don't seem lak folks has de same sort of 'ligion now dey had
dem days, 'specially when somebody dies. Den de neighbors all went to de
house whar de corpse was and sung and prayed wid de fambly. De coffins
had to be made atter folks was done dead. Dey measured de corpse and
made de coffin 'cordin'ly. Most of 'em was made out of plain pine wood,
lined wid black calico, and sometimes dey painted 'em black on de
outside. Dey didn't have no 'balmers on de plantations so dey couldn't
keep dead folks out long; dey had to bury 'em de very next day atter dey
died. Dey put de corpse in one wagon and de fambly rode in another, but
all de other folks walked to de graveyard. When dey put de coffin in de
grave dey didn't have no sep'rate box to place it in, but dey did lay
planks 'cross de top of it 'fore de dirt was put in. De preacher said a
prayer and de folks sung _Harps from de Tomb_. Maybe several months
later dey would have de funeral preached some Sunday.

"Us had all sorts of big doin's at harvest time. Dere was cornshuckin's,
logrollin's, syrup makin's, and cotton pickin's. Dey tuk time about from
one big plantation to another. Evvy place whar dey was a-goin' to
celebrate tuk time off to cook up a lot of tasty eatments, 'specially to
barbecue plenty of good meat. De Marsters at dem diffunt places allus
seed dat dere was plenty of liquor passed 'round and when de wuk was
done and de Niggers et all dey wanted, dey danced and played 'most all
night. What us chillun laked most 'bout it was de eatin'. What I 'member
best of all is de good old corn risin' lightbread. Did you ever see any
of it, Chile? Why, my Mammy and Grandma Mary could bake dat bread so
good it would jus' melt in your mouth.

"Mammy died whilst I was still little and Daddy married again. I guess
his second wife had a time wid all of us chillun. She tried to be good
to us, but I was skeered of her for a long time atter she come to our
cabin. She larnt me how to make my dresses, and de fust one I made all
by myself was a long sight too big for me. I tried it on and was plumb
sick 'bout it bein' so big, den she said; 'Never mind, you'll grow to
it.' Let me tell you, I got dat dress off in a hurry 'cause I was 'most
skeered to death for fear dat if I kept it on it would grow to my skin
lak I thought she meant. [HW in margin: Humor] I never put dat dress on
no more for a long time and dat was atter I found out dat she jus' meant
dat my dress would fit me atter I had growed a little more.

"All us chillun used to pick cotton for Marster, and he bought all our
clothes and shoes. One day he told me and Mary dat us could go to de
store and git us a pair of shoes apiece. 'Course us knowed what kind of
shoes he meant for us to git, but Mary wanted a fine pair of Sunday
shoes and dat's what she picked out and tuk home. Me, I got brass-toed
brogans lak Marster meant for us to git. 'Bout half way home Mary put on
her shoes and walked to de big house in 'em. When Marster seed 'em he
was sho' mad as a hornet, but it was too late to take 'em back to de
store atter de shoes had done been wore and was all scratched up.
Marster fussed: 'Blast your hide, I'm a good mind to thrash you to
death.' Mary stood dar shakin' and tremblin', but dat's all Marster ever
said to her 'bout it. Us heared him tell Mist'ess dat dat gal Mary was a
right smart Nigger.

"Marster had a great big old bull dat was mighty mean. He had real long
horns, and he could lift de fence railin's down one by one and turn all
de cows out. Evvy time he got out he would fight us chillun, so Marster
had to keep him fastened up in de stable. One day when us wanted to play
in de stable, us turned Old Camel (dat was de bull) out in de pasture.
He tuk down rails enough wid his horns to let de cows in Marster's fine
gyarden and dey et it all up. Marster was wuss dan mad dat time, but us
hid in de barn under some hay 'til he went to bed. Next mornin' he
called us all up to git our whuppin', but us cried and said us wouldn't
never do it no more so our good old Marster let us off dat time.

"Lak I done said before, I stayed on dar 'til Marster died, den I
married Matthew Hartsfield. Lordy, Chile, us didn't have no weddin'. I
had on a new calico dress and Matthew wore some new blue jeans breeches.
De Reverend Hargrove, de white folks preacher, married us and nobody
didn't know nothin' 'bout it 'til it was all over. Us went to Oglethorpe
County and lived dar 19 years 'fore Matthew died. I wuked wid white
folks dar 'til I married up wid Ben Larken and us come on here to Athens
to live. I have done some wuk for 'most all de white folks 'round here.
Ben's grandpappy was a miller on Potts Creek, nigh Stephens, and
sometimes Ben used to have to go help him out wid de wuk, atter he got
old and feeble.

"Dey's all gone now and 'cept for some nieces, I'm left all alone. I kin
still mind de chillun and even do a little wuk. For dat I do give thanks
to de Good Lord--dat he keeps me able to do some wuk.

"Goodbye Chile," said Julia, when her visitor arose to leave. "You must
be more keerful 'bout walkin' 'round when de sun is too hot. It'll make
you sick sho'. Folks jus' don't know how to take de right sort of keer
of deyselves dese days."

[HW: Dist. 5
Ex-Slave #67
E.F. Driskell

[Date Stamp: MAY 2- --]

Mr. George Lewis was born in Pensacola, Florida December 17, 1849. In
addition to himself and his parents, Sophie and Charles Lewis, there
were thirteen other children; two of whom were girls. Mr. Lewis (Geo.)
was the third eldest child.

Although married Mr. Lewis' parents belonged to different owners.
However, Dr. Brosenhan often allowed his servant to visit his wife on
the plantation of her owner, Mrs. Caroline Bright.

In regard to work all of the members of the Lewis clan fared very well.
The father, who belonged to Dr. Brosenhan, was a skilled shipbuilder and
he was permitted to hire himself out to those needing his services. He
was also allowed to hire [HW: out] those children belonging to him who
were old enough to work. He was only required to pay his master and the
mistress of his children a certain percent of his earnings. On the
Bright plantation Mrs. Lewis served as maid and as part of her duties
she had to help with the cooking. Mr. Lewis and his brothers and sisters
were never required to do very much work. Most of their time was spent
in playing around in the yard of the big house.

In answer to a query concerning the work requirements of the other
slaves on this particular plantation Mr. Lewis replied "De sun would
never ketch dem at de house. By de time it wus up dey had done got to de
fiel'--not jes gwine. I've known men to have to wait till it wus bright
enough to see how to plow without "kivering" the plants up. Dey lef' so
early in de mornings dat breakfus' had to be sent to dem in de fiel'. De
chillun was de ones who carried de meals dere. Dis was de first job dat
I had. All de pails wus put on a long stick an' somebody hold to each
end of de stick. If de fiel' hands was too far away fum de house at
dinner time it was sent to dem de same as de breakfus'".

All of the slaves on the plantation were awakened each morning by a
bugle or a horn which was blown by the overseer. The same overseer gave
the signal for dinner hour by blowing on the same horn. All were usually
given one hour for dinner. None had to do any work after leaving the
fields unless it happened to be personal work. No work other than the
caring for the stock was required on Sundays.

A few years before the Civil War Mrs. Bright married a Dr. Bennett
Ferrel and moved to his home in Georgia (Troupe County).

Mr. Lewis states that he and his fellow slaves always had "pretty fair"
food. Before they moved to Georgia the rations were issued daily and for
the most part an issue consisted of vegetables, rice, beans, meat
(pork), all kinds of fish and grits, etc.

"We got good clothes too says Mr. Lewis. All of 'em was bought. All de
chillun wore a long shirt until dey wus too big an' den dey was given
pants an' dresses. De shoes wus made out of red leather an' wus called
brogans. After we moved to Georgia our new marster bought de cloth an'
had all de clothes made on de plantation. De food wus "pretty fair" here
too. We got corn bread an' biscuit sometimes--an' it was sometimes
too--bacon, milk, all kinds of vegetables an' sicha stuff like dat. De
flour dat we made de biscuits out of was de third grade shorts."

The food on Sunday was almost identical with that eaten during the week.
However, those who desired to were allowed to hunt as much as they
pleased to at night. They were not permitted to carry guns and so when
the game was treed the tree had to be cut down in order to get it. It
was in this way that the family larder was increased.

"All in all", says Mr. Lewis, "we got everything we wanted excep' dere
wus no money comin' for our work an' we couldn't go off de place unless
we asked. If you wus caught off your plantation without a permit fum
marster de Paddy-Rollers whupped you an' sent you home."

The slaves living quarters were located in the rear of the "big house"
(this was true of the plantation located in Pensacola as well as the one
in Georgia). All were made of logs and, according to Mr. Lewis, all were
substantially built. Wooden pegs were used in the place of nails and the
cracks left in the walls were sealed with mud and sticks. These cabins
were very comfortable and only one family was allowed to a cabin. All
floors were of wood. The only furnishings were the beds and one or two
benches or bales which served as chairs. In some respects these beds
resembled a scaffold nailed to the side of a house. Others were made of
heavy wood and had four legs to stand upon. For the most part, however,
one end of the bed was nailed to the wall. The mattresses were made out
of any kind of material that a slave could secure, burlap sacks,
ausenberg, etc. After a large bag had been made with this material it
was stuffed with straw. Heavy cord running from side to side was used
for the bed springs. The end of the cord was tied to a handle at the end
of the bed. This pemitted the occupant to tighten the cord when it
became loosened. A few cooking utensils completed the furnishings. All
illumination was secured by means of the door and the open fire place.

All of the slaves on the plantation were permitted to "frolic" whenever
they wanted to and for as long a time as they wanted to. The master gave
them all of the whiskey that they desired. One of the main times for a
frolic was during a corn shucking. At each frolic there was dancing,
fiddling, and eating. The next morning, however all had to be prepared
to report as usual to the fields.

All were required to attend church each Sunday. The same church was used
by the slave owners and their slaves. The owners attended church in the
morning at eleven o'clock and the slaves attended at three o'clock. A
white minister did all of the preaching. "De bigges' sermon he
preached", says Mr. Lewis, "was to read de Bible an' den tell us to be
smart an' not to steal chickens, eggs, an' butter, fum our marsters."
All baptising was done by this selfsame minister.

When a couple wished to marry the man secured the permission of his
intended wife's owner and if he consented, a broom was placed on the
floor and the couple jumped over it and were then pronounced man and

There was not a great deal of whipping on the plantation of Dr. Ferrel
but at such times all whippings were administered by one of the
overseers employed on the plantation. Mr. Lewis himself was only whipped
once and then by the Doctor. This was just a few days before the slaves
were freed. Mr. Lewis says that the doctor came to the field one morning
and called him. He told him that they were going to be freed but that
before he did free him he was going to let him see what it was like to
be whipped by a white man, and he proceeded to paddle him with a white
oak paddle.

When there was serious illness the slaves had the attention of Dr.
Ferrel. On other occasions the old remedy of castor oil and turpentine
was administered. There was very little sickness then according to Mr.
Lewis. Most every family kept a large pot of "Bitters" (a mixture of
whiskey and tree barks) and each morning every member of the family took
a drink from this bucket. This supposedly prevented illness.

When the war broke out Mr. Lewis says that he often heard the old folks
whispering among themselves at night. Several times he saw the Northern
troops as well as the Southern troops but he dos'nt know whether they
were going or coming from the scene of the fighting. Doctor Ferrel
joined the army but on three different occasions he deserted. Before
going to war Dr. Ferrel called Mr. Lewis to him and after giving him his
favorite horse gave him the following "charge" "Don't let the Yankees
get him". Every morning Mr. Lewis would take the horse to the woods
where he hid with him all day. On several occasions Dr. Ferrel slipped
back to his home to see if the horse was being properly cared for. All
of the other valuables belongings to the Ferrels were hidden also.

All of the slaves on the plantation were glad when they were told that
they were free but there was no big demonstration as they were somewhat
afraid of what the Master might do. Some of them remained on the
plantation while others of them left as soon as they were told that they
were free.

Several months after freedom was declared Mr. Lewis' father was able to
join his family which he had not seen since they had moved to Georgia.

When asked his opinion of slavery and of freedom Mr. Lewis said that he
would rather be free because to a certain degree he is able to do as he
pleases, on the other hand he did not have to worry about food and
shelter as a slave as he has to do now at times.

164 Augusta Avenue
Athens, Georgia

Written by:
Miss Grace McCune
Research Worker
Athens, Georgia

Edited by:
Mrs. Sarah H. Hall

John N. Booth
District Supervisor
Augusta, Georgia
[Date Stamp: APR 29 1938]

It was a bright sunny day when the interviewer stopped at the home of
Aunt Merry, as she is called, and found her tending her old-fashioned
flower garden. The old Negress was tired and while resting she talked of
days long passed and of how things have changed since she was "a little

"My pa wuz William Young, and he belonged to old Marse Wylie Young and
later to young Marse Mack Young, a son of old marster. Pa wuz born in
1841, and he died in 1918.

"Ma wuz Lula Lumpkin, and she belonged to Marse Jack Lumpkin. I forgits
de year, but she wuz jus' 38 years old when she died. Ma's young mistis
wuz Miss Mirriam Lumpkin, and she wuz sho' good ter my ma. I 'members,
'cause I seed her lots of times. She married Marse William Nichols, and
she ain't been dead many years.

"I wuz born at Steebens (Stephens), Georgia, in 1862 at seben 'clock in
de mornin' on de 27th day of April. Yassum, I got here in time for
breakfast. Dey named me Mirriam Young. When I wuz 'bout eight years old,
us moved on de Bowling Green road dat runs to Lexin'ton, Georgia. Us
stayed dar 'til I wuz 'bout 10 years old, den us moved to de old
Hutchins place. I wukked in de field wid my pa 'til I wuz 'bout 'leben
years old. Den ma put me out to wuk. I wukked for 25 dollars a year and
my schoolin'. Den I nussed for Marse George Rice in Hutchins, Georgia. I
think Marse George and his twin sister stays in Lexin'ton now. When I
wuz twelve, I went to wuk for Marse John I. Callaway. Ma hired me for de
same pay, 25 dollars a year and my schoolin'.

"Missus Callaway sho' wuz good to me. Sha larnt me my books--readin' and
writin'--and sewin', knittin', and crochetin'. I still got some of de
wuk dat she larnt me to do." At this point Aunt Merry proudly displayed
a number of articles that she had crocheted and knitted. All were
fashioned after old patterns and showed fine workmanship. "Mistis larnt
me to be neat and clean in evvything I done, and I would walk 'long de
road a-knittin' and nebber miss a stitch. I just bet none of dese young
folkses now days could do dat. Dey sho' don't do no wuk, just run 'round
all de time, day and night. I don't know what'll 'come of 'em, lessen
dey change deir ways.

"Whilst I wuz still nussin' Missis' little gal and baby boy dey went
down to Buffalo Crick to stay, and dey give me a pretty gray mare. She
wuz all mine and her name wuz Lucy.

"I tuk de chillun to ride evvy day and down at de crick, I pulled off
dey clo'es and baptized 'em, in de water. I would wade out in de crick
wid 'em, and say: 'I baptizes you in de name of de Fadder and de Son and
de Holy Ghost.' Den I would souse 'em under de water. I didn't know
nobody wuz seein' me, but one mornin' Missis axed me 'bout it and I
thought she mought be mad but she just laughed and said dat hit mought
be good for 'em, 'cause she 'spect dey needed baptizin', but to be
keerful, for just on t'other side of de rock wuz a hole dat didn't have
no bottom.

"Dere wuz just two things on de place dat I wuz 'fraid of, and one wuz
de big registered bull dat Marster had paid so much money for. He sho'
wuz bad, and when he got out, us all stayed in de house 'til dey cotched
'im. Marster had a big black stallion dat cost lots of money. He wuz bad
too, but Marster kept 'im shut up most of de time. De wust I ever wuz
skeert wuz de time I wuz takin' de baby to ride horseback. When one of
de Nigger boys on de place started off on Marster's horse, my mare
started runnin' and I couldn't stop 'er. She runned plumb away wid me,
and when de boy cotched us, I wuz holdin' de baby wid one hand and de
saddle wid t'other.

"I sho' did have a big time once when us went to Atlanta. De place whar
us stayed wuz 'bout four miles out, whar Kirkwood is now, and it
belonged to Mrs. Robert A. Austin. She wuz a widder 'oman. She had a gal
name' Mary and us chillun used to play together. It wuz a pretty place
wid great big yards, and de mostes' flowers. Us used to go into Atlanta
on de six 'clock 'commodation, and come home on de two 'clock
'commodation, but evvythings changed now.

"At de Callaway place us colored folks had big suppers and all day
dinners, wid plenty to eat--chicken, turkey, and 'possum, and all de
hogs us wanted. But dere warnt no dancin' or fightin', 'cause old Missis
sho' didn't 'low dat.

"I married when I wuz sebenteen. I didn't have no weddin'. I wuz just
married by de preacher to Albert McCommons, at Hutchins. Us stayed at
Steebens 'bout one year after us married and den come to Athens, whar I
stays now. I ain't never had but two chillun; dey wuz twins, one died,
but my boy is wid me now.

"I used to nuss Miss Calline Davis, and she done got married and left
here, but I still hears from 'er. She done married one of dem northern
mens, Mr. Hope. I 'members one time whilst dey wuz visitin' I stayed wid
'em to nuss deir baby. One of Mr. Hope's friends from New York wuz wid
'em. When dey got to de train to go home, Miss Calline kissed me
good-bye and de yankee didn't know what to say. Miss Calline say de
yankees 'low dat southern folks air mean to us Niggers and just beat us
all de time. Dey just don't know 'cause my white folkses wuz all good to
me, and I loves 'em all."

As the interviewer left, Aunt Merry followed her into the yard asking
for a return visit and promising to tell more, "bout my good white


As viewed by
ED McCREE, Age 76
543 Reese Street
Athens, Georgia

Written by:
Sadie B. Hornsby [HW: (White)]

Edited by:
Sarah H. Hall

Leila Harris

John N. Booth
District Supervisor
Federal Writers' Project
Residencies 6 & 7

Ed McCree's home was pointed out by a little albino Negro girl about 10
years old. The small front yard was gay with snapdragons, tiger lilies,
dahlias, and other colorful flowers, and the two-story frame house,
painted gray with white trimmings seemed to be in far better repair than
the average Negro residence.

Chewing on a cud of tobacco, Ed answered the knock on his front door.
"Good evenin' Lady," he said. "Have a cheer on de porch whar it's cool."
Ed is about five feet, six inches in height, and on this afternoon he
was wearing a blue striped shirt, black vest, gray pants and black
shoes. His gray hair was topped by a soiled gray hat.

Nett, his wife, came hobbling out on the porch and sat down to listen to
the conversation. At first the old man was reluctant to talk of his
childhood experiences, but his interest was aroused by questioning and
soon he began to eagerly volunteer his memories. He had just had his
noon meal and now and then would doze a little, but was easily aroused
when questions called him back to the subject.

"I was borned in Oconee County," he said, "jus' below Watkinsville. My
Ma and Pa was Louisa and Henry McCree, but Old Marster called Pa 'Sherm'
for short. Far as I ever heared, my Ma and Pa was borned and brung up
right dar in Oconee County. Dere was six of us chillun: Silas, Lumpkin,
Bennie, Lucy, Babe, and me. Babe, she was borned a long time atter de

"Little Niggers, what was too young to wuk in de fields, toted water to
de field hands and waited on de old 'omans what was too old to wuk in de
craps. Dem old 'omans looked atter de babies and piddled 'round de

"Slave quarters was lots of log cabins wid chimlies of criss-crossed
sticks and mud. Pore white folks lived in houses lak dat too. Our bed
was made wid high posties and had cords, what run evvy which a-way, for
springs. 'Course dey had to be wound tight to keep dem beds from fallin'
down when you tried to git in 'em. For mattresses, de 'omans put wheat
straw in ticks made out of coarse cloth wove right dar on de plantation,
and de pillows was made de same way. Ole Miss, she let her special
favorite Niggers, what wuked up at de big house, have feather mattresses
and pillows. Dem other Niggers shined dey eyes over dat, but dere warn't
nothin' dey could do 'bout it 'cept slip 'round and cut dem feather beds
and pillows open jus' to see de feathers fly. Kivver was 'lowanced out
evvy year to de ones what needed it most. In dat way dere was allus good
kivver for evvybody.

"Grandma Liza b'longed to Marse Calvin Johnson long 'fore Marse John
McCree buyed her. She was cook at de big house. Grandpa Charlie, he
b'longed to Marse Charlie Hardin, but atter him and Grandma married, she
still went by de name of McCree.

"Lawdy Miss! Who ever heared of folks payin' slaves to wuk? Leastwise, I
never knowed 'bout none of 'em on our place gittin' money for what dey
done. 'Course dey give us plenty of somepin' t'eat and clothes to wear,
and den dey made us keep a-humpin' it. I does 'member seein' dem paper
nickels, dimes, and quarters what us chillun played wid atter de war. Us
used to pretend us was rich wid all dat old money what warn't no good

"'Bout dem eatments, Miss, it was lek dis, dere warn't no fancy victuals
lak us thinks us got to have now, but what dere was, dere was plenty of.
Most times dere was poke sallet, turnip greens, old blue head collards,
cabbages, peas, and 'taters by de wholesale for de slaves to eat and,
onct a week, dey rationed us out wheat bread, syrup, brown sugar, and
ginger cakes. What dey give chillun de most of was potlicker poured over
cornbread crumbs in a long trough. For fresh meat, outside of killin' a
shoat, a lamb, or a kid now and den, slaves was 'lowed to go huntin' a
right smart and dey fotch in a good many turkles (turtles), 'possums,
rabbits, and fish. Folks didn't know what iron cookstoves was dem days.
Leastwise, our white folks didn't have none of 'em. All our cookin' was
done in open fireplaces in big old pots and pans. Dey had thick iron
skillets wid heavy lids on 'em, and dey could bake and fry too in dem
skillets. De meats, cornbread, biscuits, and cakes what was cooked in
dem old skillets was sho' mighty good.

"De cotton, flax, and wool what our clothes was made out of was growed,
spun, wove, and sewed right dar on our plantation. Marse John had a
reg'lar seamster what didn't do nothin' else but sew. Summertime us
chillun wore shirts what looked lak nightgowns. You jus' pulled one of
dem slips over your haid and went on 'cause you was done dressed for de
whole week, day and night. Wintertime our clothes was a heap better. Dey
give us thick jeans pants, heavy shirts, and brogan shoes wid brass
toes. Summertime us all went bar'foots.

"Old Marster John McCree was sho' a good white man, I jus' tells you de
truf, 'cause I ain't in for tellin' nothin' else. I done jus' plum
forgot Ole Miss' fust name, and I can't git up de chilluns' names no
way. I didn't play 'round wid 'em much nohow. Dey was jus' little young
chillun den anyhow. Dey lived in a big old plank house--nothin' fine
'bout it. I 'members de heavy timbers was mortised together and de other
lumber was put on wid pegs; dere warn't no nails 'bout it. Dat's all I
ricollects 'bout dat dere house right now. It was jus' a common house,
I'd say.

"Dere was a thousand or more acres in dat old plantation. It sho' was a
big piece of land, and it was plumb full of Niggers--I couldn't say how
many, 'cause I done forgot. You could hear dat bugle de overseer blowed
to wake up de slaves for miles and miles. He got 'em up long 'fore sunup
and wuked 'em in de fields long as dey could see how to wuk. Don't talk
'bout dat overseer whuppin' Niggers. He beat on 'em for most anything.
What would dey need no jail for wid dat old overseer a-comin' down on
'em wid dat rawhide bull-whup?

"If dey got any larnin', it was at night. Dere warn't no school 'ouse or
no church on dat plantation for Niggers. Slaves had to git a pass when
dey wanted to go to church. Sometimes de white preacher preached to de
Niggers, but most of de time a Nigger wid a good wit done de preachin'.
Dat Nigger, he sho' couldn't read nary a word out of de Bible. At de
baptizin's was when de Nigger boys shined up to de gals. Dey dammed up
de crick to make de water deep enough to duck 'em under good and, durin'
de service, dey sung: _It's de Good Old Time Religion_.

"When folks died den, Niggers for miles and miles around went to de
funeral. Now days dey got to know you mighty well if dey bothers to go a
t'all. Dem days folks was buried in homemade coffins. Some of dem
coffins was painted and lined wid cloth and some warn't. De onliest song
I ricollects 'em singin' at buryin's was: _Am I Born to Lay Dis Body
Down_? Dey didn't dig graves lak dey does now. Dey jus' dug straight
down to 'bout five feet, den dey cut a vault to fit de coffin in de side
of de grave. Dey didn't put no boards or nothin' over de coffins to keep
de dirt off.

"'Bout dem patterollers! Well, you knowed if dey cotched you out widout
no pass, dey was gwine to beat your back most off and send you on home.
One night my Pa 'lowed he would go to see his gal. All right, he went.
When he got back, his cabin door was fastened hard and fast. He was
a-climbin' in de window when de patterollers got to him. Dey 'lowed:
'Nigger, is you got a pass?' Pa said: 'No Sir.' Den dey said: 'Us can't
beat you 'cause you done got home on your marster's place, but us is
sho' gwine to tell your Marster to whup your hide off. But Old Marster
never tetched him for dat.

"Atter dey come in from de fields, dem Niggers et deir supper, went to
deir cabins, sot down and rested a little while, and den dey drapped
down on de beds to sleep. Dey didn't wuk none Sadday atter dinner in de
fields. Dat was wash day for slave 'omans. De mens done fust one thing
and den another. Dey cleant up de yards, chopped wood, mended de
harness, sharpened plow points, and things lak dat. Sadday nights, Old
Marster give de young folks passes so dey could go from one place to
another a-dancin' and a-frolickin' and havin' a big time gen'ally. Dey
done most anything dey wanted to on Sundays, so long as dey behaved
deyselfs and had deir passes handy to show if de patterollers bothered

"Yessum, slaves sho' looked forward to Christmas times. Dere was such
extra good eatin's dat week and so much of 'em. Old Marster had 'em kill
a plenty of shoats, lambs, kids, cows, and turkeys for fresh meat. De
'omans up at de big house was busy for a week ahead cookin' peach puffs,
'tater custards, and plenty of cakes sweetened wid brown sugar and
syrup. Dere was plenty of home-made candy for de chilluns' Santa Claus
and late apples and peaches had done been saved and banked in wheat
straw to keep 'em good 'til Christmas. Watermelons was packed away in
cottonseed and when dey cut 'em open on Christmas Dey, dey et lak fresh
melons in July. Us had a high old time for a week, and den on New Year's
Day dey started back to wuk.

"Come winter, de mens had big cornshuckin's and dere was quiltin's for
de 'omans. Dere was a row of corn to be shucked as long as from here to
Milledge Avenue. Old Marster put a gang of Niggers at each end of de row
and it was a hot race 'tween dem gangs to see which could git to de
middle fust. Dere was allus a big feast waitin' for 'em when de last ear
of corn was shucked. 'Bout dem quiltin's!" Now Lady, what would a old
Nigger man know 'bout somepin' dat didn't nothin' but 'omans have
nothin' to do wid?

"Dem cotton pickin's was grand times. Dey picked cotton in de moonlight
and den had a big feast of barbecued beef, mutton, and pork washed down
wid plenty of good whiskey. Atter de feast was over, some of dem Niggers
played fiddles and picked banjoes for de others to dance down 'til dey
was wore out.

"When slaves got sick, our white folks was mighty good 'bout havin' 'em
keered for. Dey dosed 'em up wid oil and turpentine and give 'em teas
made out of hoarhound for some mis'ries and bone-set for other troubles.
Most all the slaves wore a sack of assfiddy (asafetida) 'round deir
necks all de time to keep 'em from gittin' sick.

"It was a happy day for us slaves when news come dat de war was over and
de white folks had to turn us 'loose. Marster called his Niggers to come
up to de big house yard, but I never stayed 'round to see what he had to
say. I runned 'round dat place a-shoutin' to de top of my voice. My
folks stayed on wid Old Marster for 'bout a year or more. If us had
left, it would have been jus' lak swappin' places from de fryin' pan to
de fire, 'cause Niggers didn't have no money to buy no land wid for a
long time atter de war. Schools was soon scattered 'bout by dem Yankees
what had done sot us free. I warn't big enough den to do nothin' much
'cept tote water to de field and chop a little cotton.

"Me and Nettie Freeman married a long time atter de war. At our weddin'
I wore a pair of brown jeans pants, white shirt, white vest, and a
cutaway coat. Nettie wore a black silk dress what she had done bought
from Miss Blanche Rutherford. Pears lak to me it had a overskirt of blue
what was scalloped 'round de bottom."

At this point, Nettie, who had been an interested listener, was
delighted. She broke into the conversation with: "Ed, you sho' did take
in dat dress and you ain't forgot it yit."

"You is right 'bout dat, Honey," he smilingly replied, "I sho' ain't and
I never will forgit how you looked dat day."

"Miss Blanche give me a pair of white silk gloves to wear wid dat
dress," mused Nettie.

"Us didn't have no sho' 'nough weddin'," continued Ed. "Us jus' went off
to de preacher man's house and got married up together. I sho' is glad
my Nett is still a-livin', even if she is down wid de rheumatiz."

"I'm glad I'm livin' too," Nettie said with a chuckle.

Ed ignored the question as to the number of their children and Nettie
made no attempt to take further part in the conversation. There is a
deep seated idea prevalent among old people of this type that if the
"giver'ment folks" learn that they have able-bodied children, their
pensions and relief allowances will be discontinued.

Soon Ed was willing to talk again. "Yessum," he said. "I sho' had ruther
be free. I don't never want to be a slave no more. Now if me and Nett
wants to, us can set around and not fix and eat but one meal all day
long. If us don't want to do dat, us can do jus' whatsomever us pleases.
Den, us had to wuk whether us laked it or not.

"Lordy Miss, I ain't never jined up wid no church. I ain't got no reason
why, only I jus' ain't never had no urge from inside of me to jine.
'Course, you know, evvybody ought to lissen to de services in de church
and live right and den dey wouldn't be so skeered to die. Miss, ain't
you through axin' me questions yit? I is so sleepy, and I don't know no
more to tell you. Goodbye."

[HW: Dist. 1
Ex Slave #68]


[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

[TR: This first half of this interview was edited by hand to change many
'er' sounds to 'uh', for example, 'der' to 'duh', 'ter' to 'tuh'; as a
single word, 'er' was also changed to 'a'.]

"Does Ah 'member 'bout war time, en dem days fo' de war? Yassum, Ah sho'
does. Ah blong ter Marse Ned Carter in Walton county."

"Whut Ah 'members mos' is duh onliest beatin' Ah ebber got fum de
overseer on Marse Ned's place. De hawgs wuz dyin' moughty bad wid
cholry, en Marse Ned hed 'is mens drag evvy dead hawg off in de woods
'en bun 'em up ter keep de cholry fum spreadin' mongst de udder hawgs.
De mens wuz keerless 'bout de fire, en fo' long de woods wuz on fire, en
de way dat fire spread in dem dry grape vines in de woods mek it 'peer
lak jedgment day tuh us chilluns. Us run 'bout de woods lookin' at de
mens fight de fire, en evvy time we see uh new place a-blaze we run dis
way en dat way, twel fus' thing us knows, we is plum off Marse Ned's
plantation, en us doan rightly know whar us is. Us play 'roun' in de
woods en arter while Marse Ned's overseer cum fine us, en he druv us
back tuh de big house yahd en give evvy one uv us uh good beaten'. Ah
sho' wuz black en blue, en Ah nebber did fuhgit en run offen Marse Ned's
lan' no mo' lessen I hed uh pass."

"Mah mammy, she wuz cook at duh big house, en Ah wuz raised dah in de
kitchen en de back yahd at de big house. Ah wuz tuh be uh maid fer de
ladies in de big house. De house servants hold that dey is uh step
better den de field niggers. House servants wuz niggah quality folks."

Ah mus' not a been mo' en thee uh fo' yeahs ole when Miss Millie cum out
in de kitchen one day, en 'gin tuh scold my mammy 'bout de sorry way
mammy done clean de chitlins. Ah ain' nebber heard nobuddy fuss et my
mammy befo'. Little ez Ah wuz, Ah swell up en rar' back, en I sez tuh
Miss Millie, "Doan you no' Mammy is boss uh dis hyar kitchen. You cyan'
cum a fussin' in hyar." "Miss Millie, she jus laff, but Mammy grab a
switch en 'gin ticklin' my laigs, but Miss Millie mek her quit it." "Who
wuz Miss Millie? Why, she wuz Marse Ned's wife."

"Whilst Marse Ned wuz 'way at de war, bad sojer mens cum thoo de
country. Miss Millie done hyar tell dey wuz on de way, an she had de
mens haul all Marse Ned's cotton off in de woods en hide it. De waggins
wuz piled up high wid cotton, en de groun' wuz soft atter de rain. De
waggins leff deep ruts in de groun', but none us folks on de plantation
pay no heed ter dem ruts. When de sojer mens cum, dey see dem ruts en
trail 'em right out dar in de woods ter de cotton. Den dey sot fire ter
de cotton en bun it all up. Dey cum back ter de big house en take all de
sweet milk in de dairy house, en help 'emselfs ter evvy thing in de
smoke houses. Den dey pick out de stronges' er Marse Ned's slave mens en
take 'em 'way wid 'em. Dey take evvy good horse Marse Ned had on de
plantation. No Ma'am, dey diden' bun nuffin ceppen' de cotton."

"Us wuz mo' skeered er patter-rollers den any thing else. Patter-rollers
diden' bodder folks much, lessen dey caught 'em offen dar marsters
plantations en dey diden' hab no pass. One night en durin' de war, de
patter-rollers cum ter our cabin, en I scrooge down under de kiver in de
bed. De patter-roller man tho' de kiver offen mah face, en he see me
blong dar, en he let me be, but Ah wuz skeered plumb ter death. Courtin'
folks got ketched en beat up by de patter-rollers mo' den enny buddy
else, kazen dey wuz allus slippen' out fer ter meet one er nudder at

"When folks dat lived on diffunt plantations, en blonged ter diffunt
marsters wanted ter git married, dey hed ter ax both dar marsters fus'.
Den effen dar marsters 'gree on it, dey let 'em marry. De mans marster
'ud give de man er pass so he cud go see his wife et night, but he sho'
better be back on his own marsters farm when de bell ring evvy morning.
De chilluns 'ud blong ter de marster dat own de 'oman."

"Black folks wuz heap smarter den dey is now. Dem days de 'omans knowed
how ter cyard, en spin, en weave de cloff, en dey made de close. De mens
know how ter mek shoes ter wear den. Black folks diden' hev ter go cole
er hongry den, kaze dey marsters made 'em wuk en grow good crops, en den
der marsters fed 'em plenty en tuk keer uv 'em."

"Black folks wuz better folks den dey is now. Dey knowed dey hed ter be
good er dey got beat. De gals dey diden't sho' dare laigs lak dey do
now. Cloff hed ter be made den, en hit wuz er heap mo' trouble ter mek
er yahd er cloff, den it is ter buy it now, but 'omans en gals, dey
stayed kivvered up better den. Why, Ah 'member one time my mammy seed me
cummin' crost de yahd en she say mah dress too short. She tuk it offen
me, en rip out de hem, en ravel at de aig' er little, en den fus' thing
I knows, she got dat dress tail on ter de loom, en weave more cloff on
hit, twel it long enuf, lak she want it."

"Long 'bout dat time dey wuz killin' hawgs on de plantation, en it wuz
er moughty cole day. Miss Millie, she tell me fer ter tote dis quart er
brandy out dar fer ter warm up de mens dat wuz er wukkin in de cole
win'. 'Long de way, Ah keep er sippin' dat brandy, en time Ah got ter de
hawg killin' place Ah wuz crazy drunk en tryin' ter sing. Dat time
'twon't no overseer beat me. Dem slave mens beat me den fo' drinkin' dat

"Mah folks stayed on en wukked fo' Marse Ned long atter de war. When Ah
wuz mos' grown mah fam'ly moved ter Logansville. No, Ma'am, I ain't
nebber been so free en happy es when I diden' hev ter worry 'bout whar
de vittles en close gwine cum fum, en all Ah had ter do wuz wuk evvy day
lak mah whitefolks tole me."

[HW: Dist. 5 (Driskell)
Ex Slave #69]

[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

Among these few remaining persons who have lived long enough to tell of
some of their experiences during the reign of "King Slavery" in the
United States is one Mrs. Amanda McDaniel.

As she sat on the porch in the glare of the warm October sun she
presented a perfect picture of the old Negro Mammy commonly seen during
the days of slavery. She smiled as she expectorated a large amount of
the snuff she was chewing and began her story in the following manner:
"I was born in Watsonville, Georgia in 1850. My mother's name was
Matilda Hale and my father was Gilbert Whitlew. My mother and father
belonged to different master's, but the plantations that they lived on
were near each other and so my father was allowed to visit us often. My
mother had two other girls who were my half-sisters. You see--my mother
was sold to the speculator in Virginia and brought to Georgia where she
was sold to Mr. Hale, who was our master until freedom was declared.
When she was sold to the speculator the two girls who were my
half-sisters had to be sold with her because they were too young to be
separated from their mother. My father, Gilbert Whitlew, was my mother's
second husband.

"Mr. Hale, our master, was not rich like some of the other planters in
the community. His plantation was a small one and he only had eight
servants who were all women. He wasn't able to hire an overseer and all
of the heavy work such as the plowing was done by his sons. Mrs. Hale
did all of her own cooking and that of the slaves too. In all Mr. Hale
had eleven children. I had to nurse three of them before I was old
enough to go to the field to work."

When asked to tell about the kind of work the slaves had to do Mrs.
McDaniel said: "Our folks had to get up at four o'clock every morning
and feed the stock first. By the time it was light enough to see they
had to be in the fields where they hoed the cotton and the corn as well
as the other crops. Between ten and eleven o'clock everybody left the
field and went to the house where they worked until it was too dark to
see. My first job was to take breakfast to those working in the fields.
I used buckets for this. Besides this I had to drive the cows to and
from the pasture. The rest of the day was spent in taking care of Mrs.
Hale's young children. After a few years of this I was sent to the
fields where I planted peas, corn, etc. I also had to pick cotton when
that time came, but I never had to hoe and do the heavy work like my
mother and sisters did." According to Mrs. McDaniel they were seldom
required to work at night after they had left the fields but when such
occasions did arise they were usually in the form of spinning thread and
weaving cloth. During the winter months this was the only type of work
that they did. On days when the weather was too bad for work out of
doors they shelled the corn and peas and did other minor types of work
not requiring too much exposure. Nobody had to work on Saturday
afternoons or on Sundays. It was on Saturdays or at night that the
slaves had the chance to do their own work such as the repairing of
clothing, etc.

On the Hale plantation clothing was issued two times each year, once at
the beginning of summer and again at the beginning of the winter season.
On this first issue all were given striped dresses made of cotton
material. These dresses were for wear during the week while dresses made
of white muslin were given for Sunday wear. The dye which was necessary
in order to color those clothes worn during the week was made by boiling
red dirt or the bark of trees in water. Sometimes the indigo berry was
also used. The winter issue consisted of dresses made of woolen
material. The socks and stockings were all knitted. All of this wearing
apparel was made by Mrs. Hale. The shoes that these women slaves wore
were made in the nearby town at a place known as the tan yards. These
shoes were called "Brogans" and they were very crude in construction
having been made of very stiff leather. None of the clothing that was
worn on this plantation was bought as everything necessary for the
manufacture of clothing was available on the premises.

As has been previously stated, Mrs. Hale did all of the cooking on the
plantation with the possible exception of Sundays when the slaves cooked
for themselves. During the week their diet usually consisted of corn
bread, fat meat, vegetables, milk, and potliquor. The food that they ate
on Sunday was practically the same. All the food that they ate was
produced in the master's garden and there was a sufficient amount for
everyone at all times.

There were two one-room log cabins in the rear of the master's house.
These cabins were dedicated to slave use. Mrs. McDaniel says: "The
floors were made of heavy wooden planks. At one end of the cabin was the
chimney which was made out of dried mud, sticks, and dirt. On the side
of the cabin opposite the door there was a window where we got a little
air and a little light. Our beds were made out of the same kind of wood
that the floors were and we called them "Bed-Stilts." Slats were used
for springs while the mattresses were made of large bags stuffed with
straw. At night we used tallow candles for light and sometimes fat pine
that we called light-wood. As Mrs. Hale did all of our cooking we had
very few pots and pans. In the Winter months we used to take mud and
close the cracks left in the wall where the logs did not fit close

According to Mrs. McDaniel all the serious illnesses were handled by a
doctor who was called in at such times. At other times Mr. or Mrs. Hale
gave them either castor oil or salts. Sometimes they were given a type
of oil called "lobelia oil." At the beginning of the spring season they
drank various teas made out of the roots that they gathered in the
surrounding woods. The only one that Mrs. McDaniel remembers is that
which was made from sassafras roots. "This was good to clean the
system," says Mrs. McDaniel. Whenever they were sick they did not have
to report to the master's house each day as was the case on some of the
other plantations. There were never any pretended illnesses to avoid
work as far as Mrs. McDaniel knows.

On Sunday all of the slaves on the Hale plantation were permitted to
dress in their Sunday clothes and go to the white church in town. During
the morning services they sat in the back of the church where they
listened to the white pastor deliver the sermon. In the afternoon they
listened to a sermon that was preached by a colored minister. Mrs.
McDaniel hasn't the slightest idea of what these sermons were about.
She remembers how marriages were performed, however, although the only
one that she ever witnessed took place on one of the neighboring
plantations. After a broom was placed on the ground a white minister
read the scriptures and then the couple in the process of being married
jumped over this broom. They were then considered as man and wife.

Whippings were very uncommon the the Hale plantation. Sometimes Mr. Hale
had to resort to this form of punishment for disobedience on the part of
some of the servants. Mrs. McDaniel says that she was whipped many times
but only once with the cowhide. Nearly every time that she was whipped a
switch was used. She has seen her mother as well as some of the others
punished but they were never beaten unmercifully. Neither she or any of
the other slaves on the Hale plantation ever came in contact with the
"Paddie-Rollers," whom they knew as a group of white men who went around
whipping slaves who were caught away from their respective homes without
passes from their masters. When asked about the buying and the selling
of slaves Mrs. McDaniel said that she had never witnessed an auction at
which slaves were being sold and that the only thing she knew about this
was what she had been told by her mother who had been separated from her
husband and sold in Georgia. Mr. Hale never had the occasion to sell any
of those slaves that he held.

Mrs. McDaniel remembers nothing of the talk that transpired between the
slaves or her owners at the beginning of the war. She says: "I was a
little girl, and like the other children then, I didn't have as much
sense as the children of today who are of the age that I was then. I do
remember that my master moved somewhere near Macon, Georgia after
General Wheeler marched through. I believe that he did more damage than
the Yanks did when they came through. When my master moved us along with
his family we had to go out of the way a great deal because General
Wheeler had destroyed all of the bridges. Besides this he damaged a
great deal of the property that he passed." Continuing, Mrs. McDaniel
said: "I didn't see any of the fighting but I did hear the firing of the
cannons. I also saw any number of Confederate soldiers pass by our
place." Mr. Hale didn't join the army although his oldest son did.

At the time that the slaves were freed it meant nothing in particular to
Mrs. McDaniel, who says that she was too young to pay much attention to
what was happening. She never saw her father after they moved away from
Watsonville. At any rate she and her mother remained in the service of
Mr. Hale for a number of years after the war. In the course of this time
Mr. Hale grew to be a wealthy man. He continued to be good to those
servants who remained with him. After she was a grown woman Mrs.
McDaniel left Mr. Hale as she was then married.

Mrs. McDaniel says that she has reached such an old age because she has
always taken care of herself, which is more than the young people of
today are doing, she added as an after thought.

Dist. 7
Ex. Slave #74

TOM McGRUDER, 102 years old

By Elizabeth Watson, Hawkinsville, Georgia
[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

Tom McGruder, one of the oldest living ex-slaves in Pulaski County, was
sitting on the porch of his son's home when we went in to see him. His
grizzled old head began to nod a "Good morning" and his brown face
became wreathed in smiles when he saw us.

He looked very small as he sat in a low straight chair by the door. His
shirt and overalls were ragged but spotlessly clean. On his feet were
heavy shoes that were kept free from dirt. His complexion was not black
as some of the other members of his race but was a light brown. There
were very few wrinkles in his face considering the fact that he was one
hundred and two years old in June. He spoke in a quiet voice though
somewhat falteringly as he suffers greatly from asthma.

"Were you born in this county, Uncle Tom?" we asked.

"No mam, Missus," he replied. "Me and my mother and sister wuz brought
from Virginia to this state by the speculators and sold here. I was only
about eighteen or twenty and I was sold for $1250. My mother was given
to one of Old Marster's married chillun.

"You see, Missus," he spoke again after a long pause. "We wuz put on the
block just like cattle and sold to one man today and another tomorrow. I
wuz sold three times after coming to this state."

Tom could tell us very little about his life on the large plantations
because his feeble old mind would only be clear at intervals. He would
begin relating some incident but would suddenly break off with, "I'd
better leave that alone 'cause I done forgot." He remembered, however,
that he trained dogs for his "whie folks," trained them to be good
hunters as that was one of the favorite sports of the day.

The last man to whom Tom was sold was Mr. Jim McGruder, of Emanuel
County. He was living in a small cabin belonging to Mr. McGruder, when
he married. "I 'members", said Tom, "That Old Marster and Missus fixed
up a lunch and they and their chillun brought it to my cabin. Then they
said, 'Nigger, jump the broom' and we wuz married, 'cause you see we
didn't know nothing 'bout no cer'mony."

It was with Mr. McGruder that Tom entered the army, working for him as
his valet.

"I wuz in the army for 'bout four years," Tom said. "I fought in the
battles at Petersburg, Virginia and Chattanooga, Tennessee. I looked
after Old Marster's shoes and clothes. Old Marster, what he done he done
well. He was kind to me and I guess better to me sometimes than I
deserved but I had to do what he told me."

"Do you remember any of the old songs you used to sing?" we asked.
"Missus, I can't sing no mo'," he replied. But pausing for a few minutes
he raised his head and sang in a quiet voice, the words and melody
perfectly clear;

  "Why do you wait, dear brother,
     Oh, why do you tarry so long?
   Your Saviour is waiting to give you
     A place in His sanctified throng."

PLANTATION LIFE as viewed by ex-slave

1203 W. Hancook Avenue
Athens, Georgia

Written by:
Sadie B. Hornsby
Federal Writers' Project
Athens, Ga.

Edited by:
Sarah H. Hall

John N. Booth

Leila Harris

April 28, 1938
[Date Stamp: MAY 6 1938]

A driving rain sent the interviewer scurrying into the house of Susan
McIntosh who lives with her son, Dr. Andrew Jones, at the corner of
Hancock Avenue and Billups Street.

Susan readily gave her story: "They tell me I was born in November
1851," she said, "and I know I've been here a long time 'cause I've seen
so many come and go. I've outlived 'most all of my folks 'cept my son
that I live with now. Honey, I've 'most forgot about slavery days. I
don't read, and anyway there ain't no need to think of them times now. I
was born in Oconee County on Judge William Stroud's plantation. We
called him Marse Billy. That was a long time before Athens was the
county seat. Ma's name was Mary Jen, and Pa was Christopher Harris. They
called him Chris for short. Marster Young L.G. Harris bought him from
Marster Hudson of Elbert County and turned him over to his niece, Miss
Lula Harris, when she married Marster Robert Taylor. Marse Robert was a
son of General Taylor what lived in the Grady house before it belonged
to Mr. Henry Grady's mother. Pa was coachman and house boy for Miss

"Marse Billy owned Ma, and Marse Robert owned Pa, and Pa, he come to see
Ma about once or twice a month. The Taylor's, they done a heap of
travellin' and always took my Pa with 'em. Oh! there was thirteen of us
chillun, seven died soon after they was born, and none of 'em lived to
git grown 'cept me. Their names was Nanette and Ella, what was next to
me; Susan--thats me; Isabelle, Martha, Mary, Diana, Lila, William, Gus,
and the twins what was born dead; and Harden. He was named for a Dr.
Harden what lived here then.

"Marse Billy bought my gran'ma in Virginia. She was part Injun. I can
see her long, straight, black hair now, and when she died she didn't
have gray hair like mine. They say Injuns don't turn gray like other
folks. Gran'ma made cloth for the white folks and slaves on the
plantation. I used to hand her thread while she was weavin'. The lady
what taught Gran'ma to weave cloth, was Mist'ess Gowel, and she was a
foreigner, 'cause she warn't born in Georgia. She had two sons what run
the factory between Watkinsville and Athens. My aunt, Mila Jackson, made
all the thread what they done the weavin' with. Gran'pa worked for a
widow lady what was a simster (seamstress) and she just had a little
plantation. She was Mist'ess Doolittle. All Gran'pa done was cut wood,
'tend the yard and gyarden. He had rheumatism and couldn't do much.

"There ain't much to tell about what we done in the slave quarters,
'cause when we got big enough, we had to work: nussin' the babies,
totin' water, and helpin' Gran'ma with the weavin', and such like. Beds
was driv to the walls of the cabin; foot and headboard put together with
rails, what run from head to foot. Planks was laid crossways and straw
put on them and the beds was kivvered with the whitest sheets you ever
seen. Some made pallets on the floor.

"No, Ma'am, I didn't make no money 'til after freedom. I heard tell of
ten and fifteen cents, but I didn't know nothing 'bout no figgers. I
didn't know a nickel from a dime them days.

"Yes, Ma'am, Marse Billy 'lowed his slaves to have their own gyardens,
and 'sides plenty of good gyarden sass, we had milk and butter, bread
and meat, chickens, greens, peas, and just everything that growed on the
farm. Winter and summer, all the food was cooked in a great big
fireplace, about four feet wide, and you could put on a whole stick of
cord wood at a time. When they wanted plenty of hot ashes to bake with,
they burnt wood from ash trees. Sweet potatoes and bread was baked in
the ashes. Seems like vittuls don't taste as good as they used to, when
we cooked like that. 'Possums, Oh! I dearly love 'possums. My cousins
used to catch 'em and when they was fixed up and cooked with sweet
potatoes, 'possum meat was fit for a king. Marse Billy had a son named
Mark, what was a little bitty man. They said he was a dwarf. He never
done nothing but play with the children on the plantation. He would take
the children down to the crick what run through the plantation and fish
all day. We had rabbits, but they was most generally caught in a box
trap, so there warn't no time wasted a-huntin' for 'em.

"In summer, the slave women wore white homespun and the men wore pants
and shirts made out of cloth what looked like overall cloth does now. In
winter, we wore the same things, 'cept Marse Billy give the men woolen
coats what come down to their knees, and the women wore warm wraps what
they called sacks. On Sunday we had dresses dyed different colors. The
dyes were made from red clay and barks. Bark from pines, sweetgums, and
blackjacks was boiled, and each one made a different color dye. The
cloth made at home was coarse and was called 'gusta cloth. Marse Billy
let the slaves raise chickens, and cows, and have cotton patches too.
They would sell butter, eggs, chickens, brooms, made out of wheat straw
and such like. They took the money and bought calico, muslin and good
shoes, pants, coats and other nice things for their Sunday clothes.
Marse Billy bought leather from Marster Brumby's tanyard and had shoes
made for us. They was coarse and rough, but they lasted a long time.

"My Marster was father-in-law of Dr. Jones Long. Marse Billy's wife,
Miss Rena, died long before I was born. Their six children was all grown
when I first knowed 'em. The gals was: Miss Rena, Miss Selena, Miss
Liza, and Miss Susan. Miss Susan was Dr. Long's wife. I was named for
her. There was two boys; Marse John and Marse Mark. I done told you
'bout Marse Mark bein' a dwarf. They lived in a big old eight room
house, on a high hill in sight of Mars Hill Baptist Church. Marse Billy
was a great deacon in that church. Yes, Ma'am, he sho' was good to his
Negroes. I heard 'em say that after he had done bought his slaves by
working in a blacksmith shop, and wearin' cheap clothes, like mulberry
suspenders, he warn't goin' to slash his Negroes up. The older folks
admired Mist'ess and spoke well of her. They said she had lots more
property than Marse Billy. She said she wanted Marse Billy to see that
her slaves was give to her children. I 'spose there was about a hundred
acres on that plantation and Marse Billy owned more property besides.
There was about fifty grown folks and as to the children, I just don't
know how many there was. Around the quarters looked like a little town.

"Marse Billy had a overseer up to the time War broke out, then he picked
out a reliable colored man to carry out his orders. Sometimes the
overseer got rough, then Marse Billy let him go and got another one. The
overseer got us up about four or five o'clock in the morning, and dark
brought us in at night.

"Jails! Yes, Ma'am, I ricollect one was in Watkinsville. No, Ma'am, I
never saw nobody auctioned off, but I heard about it. Men used to come
through an buy up slaves for foreign states where there warn't so many.

"Well, I didn't have no privilege to learn to read and write, but the
white lady what taught my gran'ma to weave, had two sons what run the
factory, and they taught my uncles to read and write.

"There warn't no church on the plantation, so we went to Mars Hill
Church. The white folks went in the mornings from nine 'til twelve and
the slaves went in the evenings from three 'till about five. The white
folks went in the front door and slaves used the back door. Rev. Bedford
Lankford, what preached to the white folks helped a Negro, named Cy
Stroud, to preach to the Negroes. Oh! Yes, Ma'am, I well remembers them
baptizings. I believe in church and baptizing.

"They buried the slaves on the plantation, in coffins made out of pine
boards. Didn't put them in two boxes lak dey does now, and dey warn't
painted needer.

"Did you say patterollers? Sho' I seen 'em, but they didn't come on our
plantation, 'cause Marse Billy was good to his Negroes and when they
wanted a pass, if it was for a good reason, he give 'em one. Didn't none
of Marse Billy's slaves run off to no North. When Marse Billy had need
to send news somewhere, he put a reliable Negro on a mule and sent him.
I sho' didn't hear about no trouble twixt white folks and Negroes.

"I tell you, Honey, when the days work was over them slaves went to bed,
'cep' when the moon was out and they worked in their own cotton patches.
On dark nights, the women mended and quilted sometimes. Not many worked
in the fields on Saturday evenin's. They caught up on little jobs aroun'
the lot; a mending harness and such like. On Saturday nights the young
folks got together and had little frolics and feasts, but the older
folks was gettin' things ready for Sunday, 'cause Marse Billy was a
mighty religious man: we had to go to church, and every last one of the
children was dragged along too.

"We always had one week for Christmas. They brought us as much of good
things to eat as we could destroy in one week, but on New Year's Day we
went back to work. No, Ma'am, as I ricollect, we didn't have no corn
shuckings or cotton pickings only what we had to do as part of our
regular work.

"The white folks mostly got married on Wednesday or Thursday evenin's.
Oh! they had fine times, with everything good to eat, and lots of
dancing too. Then they took a trip. Some went to Texas and some to
Chicago. They call Chicago, the colored folks' New York now. I don't
remember no weddings 'mongst the slaves. My cousin married on another
plantation, but I warn't there.

"Where I was, there warn't no playing done, only 'mongst the little
chillun, and I can't remember much that far back. I recall that we sung
a little song, about:

  'Little drops of water
   Little grains of sand,
   Make the mighty ocean
   And the pleasant land.'

"Oh! Yes, Ma'am, Marse Billy was good to his slaves, when they got sick.
He called in Dr. Jones Long, Dr. Harden, and Dr. Lumpkin when they was
real sick. There was lots of typhoid fever then. I don't know nothing
about no herbs, they used for diseases; only boneset and hoarhound tea
for colds and croup. They put penrile (pennyroyal) in the house to keep
out flies and fleas, and if there was a flea in the house he would shoo
from that place right then and there.

"The old folks put little bags of assfiddy (assafoetida) around their
chillun's necks to keep off measles and chickenpox, and they used
turpentine and castor oil on chillun's gums to make 'em teethe easy.
When I was living on Milledge Avenue, I had Dr. Crawford W. Long to see
about one of my babies, and he slit that baby's gums so the teeth could
come through. That looked might bad to me, but they don't believe in old
ways no more."

She laughed and said: "No, Ma'am, I don't know nothing about such low
down things as hants and ghosts! Rawhead and Bloody Bones, I just
thought he was a skelerpin, with no meat on him. Course lots of Negroes
believe in ghosts and hants. Us chillun done lots of flightin' like
chillun will do. I remember how little Marse Mark Stroud used to take
all the little boys on the plantation and teach 'em to play Dixie on
reeds what they called quills. That was good music, but the radio has
done away with all that now.

"I knowed I was a slave and that it was the War that sot me free. It was
'bout dinner time when Marse Billy come to the door and called us to the
house. He pulled out a paper and read it to us, and then he said: 'You
all are free, as I am.' We couldn't help thinking about what a good
marster he always had been, and how old, and feeble, and gray headed he
looked as he kept on a-talkin' that day. 'You all can stay on here with
me if you want to,' he 'lowed, 'but if you do, I will have to pay you
wages for your work.'

"I never saw no Yankees in Athens, but I was in Atlanta at Mrs.
Winship's on Peachtree Street, when General Sherman come to that town
'parin' his men for to go home. There was about two thousand in all,
white and black. They marched up and down Marietta Street from three
o'clock in the evening 'til seven o'clock next morning. Then they left.
I remember well that there warn't a house left standing in Atlanta, what
warn't riddled with shell holes. I was scared pretty nigh to death and I
never want to leave home at no time like that again. But Pa saw 'em soon
after that in Athens. They was a marching down Broad Street on their way
to Macon, and Pa said it looked like a blue cloud going through.

"Ma and me stayed on with Marse Billy 'bout six months after the War
ended before we come to town to live with Pa. We lived right back of
Rock College and Ma took in washin' for the folks what went to school
there. No, Ma'am I never saw no Ku Kluxers. Me and Ma didn't leave home
at night and the white folks wouldn't let 'em git Pa.

"Major Knox brought three or four teachers to teach in a school for
Negroes that was started up here the first year after the War. Major
Knox, he was left like a sort of Justice of Peace to get things to going
smooth after the War. I went to school there about three months, then Ma
took sick, and I didn't go no more. My white teacher was Miss Sarah, and
she was from Chicago.

"Now and then the Negroes bought a little land, and white folks gave
little places to some Negroes what had been good slaves for 'em.

"I didn't take in about Mr. Abraham Lincoln. A long time after the War,
I heard 'em say he got killed. I knowed Mr. Jeff. Davis was President of
the Confederacy. As for Booker Washington, I never saw him, but I heard
his son whan he was here once and gave a musical of some sort at the
Congregational Church.

"I was a old gal when I married 'bout thirty or forty years after the
War. I married George McIntosh. Wedding clothes!" she chuckled, and
said: "I didn't have many. I bought 'em second hand from Mrs. Ed. Bond.
They was nice though. The dress I married in was red silk. We had a
little cake and wine; no big to do, just a little fambly affair. Of our
four chillun, two died young, and two lived to git grown. My daughter
was a school teacher and she has been dead sometime. I stays wid my only
living child. My husban' died a long time ago.

"I cooked and washed for Mr. Prince Hodgson for thirty years. Miss Mary
Franklin used to tell me 'bout all them strange places she had been to
while she was paintin'. There never was nobody in this town could paint
prettier pictures than Miss Mary's.

"I'm glad slavery is over. I'm too old to really work anymore, but I'm
like a fish going down the crick and if he sees a bug he will catch him
if he can.

"I joined the church 'cause I believe in the Son of God. I know he is a
forgiving God, and will give me a place to rest after I am gone from the
earth. Everybody ought to 'pare for the promised land, where they can
live always after they are done with this world."

After the interview, she said: "Honey, this is the most I have talked
about slavery days in twelve years; and I believe what I told you is
right. Of course, lots has faded from my mind about it now."

District #7
Adella S. Dixon, Macon, Georgia

100 Empire Avenue, Macon, Georgia
[Date Stamp: JUL 28 1937]

Matilda McKinney was born in Texas but was brought to southwest Georgia,
near Albany, at an early age. Her mother, Amy Dean, had eight children,
of which Aunt Matilda is the eldest. The plantation on which they lived
was owned by Mr. Milton Ball, and it varied little in size or
arrangement from the average one of that time. Here was found the usual
two-story white house finished with high columns and surrounded by

Most of the Negro mothers did field work, so it was necessary for others
to care for the children. Mr. Ball handled this problem in the usual
way. He established what would today be called a day nursery. Each
mother brought her offspring to the home of an elderly woman before
leaving for her day's work. Here, they were safely kept until their
parents returned. The midday meal for everyone was prepared at the Big
House and the slaves were served from huge tubs of vegetables and pots
of meat. "Aunt" Julia was responsible for the children's noon meal.

When "Aunt" Matilda was old enough to do a little work, she was moved
into the house where she swept floors, waited on the table, and fanned
flies while a meal was being served. The adult females who lived in the
house did most of the weaving and sewing. All the summer, garments were
made and put away for winter use. Two dresses of osnaburg were then
given each person.

The field hands, always considered an inferior group by the house
servants, worked from sunup to sundown. When they returned from the
fields they prepared supper for their families and many times had to
feed the children in the dark, for a curfew horn was blown and no lights
could be lighted after its warning note had sounded. There was very
little visiting to or from the group which dwelt here, as the curfew
hour was early.

Saturday varied a little from the other week days. The field work was
suspended in the afternoon to allow the mothers time to wash their
clothing. With sunset came the preparations for the weekly frolic. A
fiddler furnished music while the dancers danced numerous square dances
until a late hour.

Home remedies for illness were used much more extensively than any
doctor's medicine. Teas, compounded from sage, boneset, tansy, and
mullen, usually sufficed for any minor sickness, and serious illness was

Food was distributed on Sunday morning. Two-and-a-half pounds of meat, a
quantity of syrup, and a peck of meal were given each adult for the
week. A special ration for Sunday alone was potatoes, buttermilk, and
material for biscuits. Each family had its own garden from which a
supply of vegetables could always be obtained in season. The smaller
children had additional delicacies, for they early learned that the
house where produce was kept had holes in the floor which yielded
peanuts, etc, when punched with a stick.

"Aunt" Matilda was unable to give any information regarding the war, but
remembers that her family remained at her former owner's plantation for
some time after they were freed. She now lives with her granddaughter
who takes excellent care of her. Her long life is attributed to her
habit of going to bed early and otherwise caring for herself properly.


383 W. Broad Street
Athens, Georgia

Written by:
Mrs. Sadie B. Hornsby

Edited by:
Mrs. Sarah H. Hall

John N. Booth
District Supervisor
Federal Writers'
Residencies 6 & 7
Augusta, Ga.

Sept. 30, 1938

The rambling, one-story frame building where William McWhorter makes his
home with his cousin, Sarah Craddock, houses several families and is
proudly referred to by the neighbors as "de 'partment house."

William, better known as "Shug," is a very black man of medium build. He
wore a black slouch hat pulled well down over tangled gray hair, a dingy
blue shirt, soiled gray pants, and black shoes. The smile faded from his
face when he learned the nature of the visit. "I thought you was de
pension lady 'comin' to fetch me some money," he said, "and 'stid of dat
you wants to know 'bout slavery days. I'se disapp'inted.

"Mistess, it's been a long time since I was born on Marse Joe
McWhorter's plantation down in Greene County and I was jus' a little
fellow when slavery was done over wid. Allen and Martha McWhorter was my
ma and pa. Pa, he was de carriage driver, and ma, she was a field hand.
Dey brought her here from Oingebug (Orangeburg), South Carolina, and
sold her to Marse Joe when she was jus' a little gal. Me and Annie,
Ella, Jim, and Tom was all de chillun in our fambly, and none of us
warn't big enough to do no wuk to speak of 'fore de end of de big war.
You see, Mistess, it was lak dis; Marse Joe, he owned a old 'oman what
didn't do nothin' 'cept stay at de house and look atter us chillun, and
dat was one of dem plantations whar dere was sho a heap of slave

"'Bout our houses? Mistess, I'se gwine to tell you de trufe, dem houses
slaves had to live in, dey warn't much, but us didn't know no better
den. Dey was jus' one-room log cabins wid stick and dirt chimblies. De
beds for slaves was home-made and was held together wid cords wove evvy
which away. If you didn't tighten dem cords up pretty offen your bed was
apt to fall down wid you. Suggin sacks was sewed together to make our
mattress ticks and dem ticks was filled wid straw. Now, don't tell me
you ain't heared of suggin sacks a-fore! Dem was coarse sacks sort of
lak de guano sacks us uses now. Dey crowded jus' as many Niggers into
each cabin as could sleep in one room, and marriage never meant a thing
in dem days when dey was 'rangin' sleepin' quarters for slaves. Why, I
knowed a man what had two wives livin' in de same cabin; one of dem
'omans had all boys and t'other one didn't have nothin' but gals. It's
nigh de same way now, but dey don't live in de same house if a man's got
two famblies.

"I 'members dat my pa's ma, Grandma Cindy, was a field hand, but by de
time I was old 'nough to take things in she was too old for dat sort of
wuk and Marster let her do odd jobs 'round de big house. De most I seed
her doin' was settin' 'round smokin' her old corncob pipe. I was named
for Grandpa Billy, but I never seed him.

"Mistess, does you know what you'se axin'? Whar was slaves to git money
whilst dey was still slaves? Dere warn't but a few of 'em dat knowed
what money even looked lak 'til atter dey was made free.

"Now, you is talkin' 'bout somepin sho 'nough when you starts 'bout dem
victuals. Marse Joe, he give us plenty of sich as collards, turnips and
greens, peas, 'taters, meat, and cornbread. Lots of de cornbread was
baked in pones on spiders, but ashcakes was a mighty go in dem days.
Marster raised lots of cane so as to have plenty of good syrup. My pa
used to 'possum hunt lots and he was 'lowed to keep a good 'possum hound
to trail 'em wid. Rabbits and squirrels was plentiful and dey made
mighty good eatin'. You ain't never seed sich heaps of fish as slaves
used to fetch back atter a little time spent fishin' in de cricks and de

"De kitchen was sot off from de big house a little piece, but Old
Marster had a roof built over de walkway so fallin' weather wouldn't
spile de victuals whilst dey was bein' toted from de kitchen in de yard
to de dinin' room in de big house. I don't reckon you ever seed as big a
fireplace as de one dey cooked on in dat old kitchen. It had plenty of
room for enough pots, skillets, spiders, and ovens to cook for all de
folks on dat plantation. No, mam, slaves never had no gardens of deir
own; dey never had no time of deir own to wuk no garden, but Old Marster
fed 'em from his garden and dat was big enough to raise plenty for all.

"De one little cotton shirt dat was all chillun wore in summertime den
warn't worth talkin' 'bout; dey called it a shirt but it looked more lak
a long-tailed nightgown to me. For winter, our clothes was made of wool
cloth and dey was nice and warm. Mistess, slaves never knowed what
Sunday clothes was, 'cept dey did know dey had to be clean on Sunday. No
matter how dirty you went in de week-a-days, you had to put on clean
clothes Sunday mornin'. Uncle John Craddock made shoes for all de grown
folks on our plantation, but chillun went barfoots and it never seemed
to make 'em sick; for a fact, I b'lieves dey was stouter den dan dey is

"Marse Joe McWhorter and his wife, Miss Emily Key, owned us, and dey was
jus' as good to us as dey could be. Mistess, you knows white folks had
to make slaves what b'longed to 'em mind and be-have deyselfs in dem
days or else dere woulda been a heap of trouble. De big fine house what
Marse Joe and his fambly lived in sot in a cedar grove and Woodville was
de town nighest de place. Oh! Yes, mam, dey had a overseer all right,
but I'se done forgot his name, and somehow I can't git up de names of
Marse Joe's chillun. I'se been sick so long my mem'ry ain't as good as
it used to be, and since I lost my old 'oman 'bout 2 months ago, I don't
'spect I ever kin reckomember much no more. It seems lak I'se done told
you my pa was Marse Joe's carriage driver. He driv de fambly
whar-some-ever dey wanted to go.

"I ain't got no idee how many acres was in dat great big old plantation,
but I'se heared 'em say Marse Joe had to keep from 30 to 40 slaves, not
countin' chillun, to wuk dat part of it dat was cleared land. Dey told
me, atter I was old enough to take it in, dat de overseer sho did drive
dem slaves; dey had to be up and in de field 'fore sunup and he wuked
'em 'til slap, black dark. When dey got back to de big house, 'fore dey
et supper, de overseer got out his big bull whip and beat de ones dat
hadn't done to suit him durin' de day. He made 'em strip off deir
clothes down to de waist, and evvywhar dat old bull whip struck it split
de skin. Dat was awful, awful! Sometimes slaves dat had been beat and
butchered up so bad by dat overseer man would run away, and next day
Aunt Suke would be sho to go down to de spring to wash so she could
leave some old clothes dar for 'em to git at night. I'se tellin' you,
slaves sho did fare common in dem days.

"My Aunt Mary b'longed to Marse John Craddock and when his wife died and
left a little baby--dat was little Miss Lucy--Aunt Mary was nussin' a
new baby of her own, so Marse John made her let his baby suck too. If
Aunt Mary was feedin' her own baby and Miss Lucy started cryin' Marse
John would snatch her baby up by the legs and spank him, and tell Aunt
Mary to go on and nuss his baby fust. Aunt Mary couldn't answer him a
word, but my ma said she offen seed Aunt Mary cry 'til de tears met
under her chin.

"I ain't never heared nothin' 'bout no jails in slavery time. What dey
done den was 'most beat de life out of de Niggers to make 'em be-have.
Ma was brung to Bairdstown and sold on de block to Marse Joe long 'fore
I was borned, but I ain't never seed no slaves sold. Lordy, Mistess,
ain't nobody never told you it was agin de law to larn a Nigger to read
and write in slavery time? White folks would chop your hands off for dat
quicker dan dey would for 'most anything else. Dat's jus' a sayin',
'chop your hands off.' Why, Mistess, a Nigger widout no hands wouldn't
be able to wuk much, and his owner couldn't sell him for nigh as much as
he could git for a slave wid good hands. Dey jus' beat 'em up bad when
dey cotched 'em studyin' readin' and writin', but folks did tell 'bout
some of de owners dat cut off one finger evvy time dey cotch a slave
tryin' to git larnin'. How-some-ever, dere was some Niggers dat wanted
larnin' so bad dey would slip out at night and meet in a deep gully whar
dey would study by de light of light'ood torches; but one thing sho, dey
better not let no white folks find out 'bout it, and if dey was lucky
'nough to be able to keep it up 'til dey larned to read de Bible, dey
kept it a close secret.

"Slaves warn't 'lowed to have no churches of dey own and dey had to go
to church wid de white folks. Dere warn't no room for chillun in de
Baptist church at Bairdstown whar Marse Joe tuk his grown-up slaves to
meetin', so I never did git to go to none, but he used to take my ma
along, but she was baptized by a white preacher when she jined up wid
dat church. De crick was nigh de church and dat was whar dey done de

"None of our Niggers never knowed enough 'bout de North to run off up
dar. Lak I done told you, some of 'em did run off atter a bad beatin',
but dey jus' went to de woods. Some of 'em come right on back, but some
didn't; Us never knowed whar dem what didn't come back went. Show me a
slavery-time Nigger dat ain't heared 'bout paterollers! Mistess, I 'clar
to goodness, paterollers was de devil's own hosses. If dey cotched a
Nigger out and his Marster hadn't fixed him up wid a pass, it was jus'
too bad; dey most kilt him. You couldn't even go to de Lord's house on
Sunday 'less you had a ticket sayin': 'Dis Nigger is de propity of Marse
Joe McWhorter. Let him go.'

"Dere warn't never no let-up when it come to wuk. When slaves come in
from de fields atter sundown and tended de stock and et supper, de mens
still had to shuck corn, mend hoss collars, cut wood, and sich lak; de
'omans mended clothes, spun thread, wove cloth, and some of 'em had to
go up to de big house and nuss de white folks' babies. One night my ma
had been nussin' one of dem white babies, and atter it dozed off to
sleep she went to lay it in its little bed. De child's foot cotch itself
in Marse Joe's galluses dat he had done hung on de foot of de bed, and
when he heared his baby cry Marse Joe woke up and grabbed up a stick of
wood and beat ma over de head 'til he 'most kilt her. Ma never did seem
right atter dat and when she died she still had a big old knot on her

"Dey said on some plantations slaves was let off from wuk when de dinner
bell rung on Saddays, but not on our'n; dere warn't never no let-up 'til
sundown on Sadday nights atter dey had tended to de stock and et supper.
On Sundays dey was 'lowed to visit 'round a little atter dey had 'tended
church, but dey still had to be keerful to have a pass wid 'em. Marse
Joe let his slaves have one day for holiday at Christmas and he give 'em
plenty of extra good somepin t'eat and drink on dat special day. New
Year's Day was de hardest day of de whole year, for de overseer jus'
tried hisself to see how hard he could drive de Niggers dat day, and
when de wuk was all done de day ended off wid a big pot of cornfield
peas and hog jowl to eat for luck. Dat was s'posed to be a sign of
plenty too.

"Cornshuckin's was a mighty go dem days, and folks from miles and miles
around was axed. When de wuk was done dey had a big time eatin',
drinkin', wrestlin', dancin', and all sorts of frolickin'. Even wid all
dat liquor flowin' so free at cornshuckin's I never heared of nobody
gittin' mad, and Marse Joe never said a cross word at his cornshuckin's.
He allus picked bright moonshiny nights for dem big cotton pickin's, and
dere warn't nothin' short 'bout de big eats dat was waitin' for dem
Niggers when de cotton was all picked out. De young folks danced and cut
up evvy chanct dey got and called deyselfs havin' a big time.

"Games? Well, 'bout de biggest things us played when I was a chap was
baseball, softball, and marbles. Us made our own marbles out of clay and
baked 'em in de sun, and our baseballs and softballs was made out of

"Does I know anything 'bout ghosties? Yes, mam, I sees ha'nts and
ghosties any time. Jus' t'other night I seed a man widout no head, and
de old witches 'most nigh rides me to death. One of 'em got holt of me
night 'fore last and 'most choked me to death; she was in de form of a
black cat. Mistess, some folks say dat to see things lak dat is a sign
your blood is out of order. Now, me, I don't know what makes me see 'em.

"Marse Joe tuk mighty good keer of sick slaves. He allus called in a
doctor for 'em, and kept plenty of castor ile, turpentine, and de lak on
hand to dose 'em wid. Miss Emily made teas out of a heap of sorts of
leaves, barks, and roots, sich as butterfly root, pine tops, mullein,
catnip and mint leaves, feverfew grass, red oak bark, slippery ellum
bark, and black gum chips. Most evvybody had to wear little sacks of
papaw seeds or of assyfizzy (asafetida) 'round deir necks to keep off

"Dey used to say dat a free Nigger from de North come through de South
and seed how de white folks was treatin' his race, den he went back up
der and told folks 'bout it and axed 'em to holp do somepin' 'bout it.
Dat's what I heared tell was de way de big war got started dat ended in
settin' slaves free. My folks said dat when de Yankee sojers come
through, Miss Emily was cryin' and takin' on to beat de band. She had
all her silver in her apron and didn't know whar to hide it, so atter
awhile she handed it to her cook and told her to hide it. De cook put it
in de woodpile. De Yankee mens broke in de smokehouse, brought out meat
and lard, kilt chickens, driv off cows and hosses, but dey never found
Miss Emily's silver. It was a long time 'fore our fambly left Marse
Joe's place.

"Marse Joe never did tell his Niggers dey was free. One day one of dem
Yankee sojers rid through de fields whar dey was wukin' and he axed 'em
if dey didn't know dey was as free as deir Marster. Dat Yankee kept on
talkin' and told em dey didn't have to stay on wid Marse Joe 'less dey
wanted to, end dey didn't have to do nothin' nobody told 'em to if dey
didn't want to do it. He said dey was deir own bosses and was to do as
dey pleased from de time of de surrender.

"Schools was sot up for slaves not long atter dey was sot free, and a
few of de old Marsters give deir Niggers a little land, but not many of
'em done dat. Jus' as de Niggers was branchin' out and startin' to live
lak free folks, dem nightriders come 'long beatin', cuttin', and
slashin' 'em up, but I 'spects some of dem Niggers needed evvy lick dey

"Now, Mistess, you knows all Niggers would ruther be free, and I ain't
no diffunt from nobody else 'bout dat. Yes, mam, I'se mighty glad Mr.
Abraham Lincoln and Jeff Davis fit 'til dey sot us free. Dat Jeff Davis
ought to be 'shamed of hisself to want Niggers kept in bondage; dey says
dough, dat he was a mighty good man, and Miss Millie Rutherford said
some fine things 'bout him in her book what Sarah read to me, but you
can't 'spect us Niggers to b'lieve he was so awful good.

"Me and Rosa Barrow had a pretty fair weddin' and a mighty fine supper.
I don't ricollect what she had on, but I'se tellin' you she looked
pretty and sweet to me. Our two boys and three gals is done growed up
and I'se got three grandchillun now. Rosa, she died out 'bout 2 months
ago and I'se gwine to marry agin soon as I finds somebody to take keer
of me.

"I was happier de day I jined de church at Sander's Chapel, dan I'se
been since. It was de joyfullest day of all my life, so far. Folks ought
to git ready for a better world dan dis to live in when dey is finished
on dis earth, and I'se sho glad our Good Lord saw fit to set us free
from sin end slavery. If he hadn't done it, I sho would have been dead
long ago. Yistidday I picked a little cotton to git me some bread, and
it laid me out. I can't wuk no more. I don't know how de Blessed Lord
means to provide for me but I feels sho He ain't gwine to let me

[HW: Dist. 6:
Ex-Slave #72]

Henrietta Carlisle
Alberta Minor
Re-search Workers

Route B, Griffin, Georgia

September 16, 1936
[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

Mollie was born on a plantation owned by Mr Valentine Brook, near Locust
Grove, Georgia. Mr. Brook died before the War and his wife, "the widder
Brock", ran the plantation.

Slaves not needed on the home plantation were "hired out" to other land
owners for from $200.00 to $300.00 a year. This was done the first of
each year by an auction from a "horse block". When Mollie was seven
months old her mother, Clacy Brock, was "hired out" and she was taken
care of by two old Negroes, too old to work, and who did nothing but
care for the little "Niggers". Mollie grew up with these children
between the "big house" and the kitchen. When she was old enough she was
"put to mind" the smaller children and if they did'nt behave she pinched
them, but "when the 'ole Miss found it out, she'd sure 'whup me'", she
said. These children were fed cornbread and milk for breakfast and
supper, and "pot licker" with cornbread for dinner. They slept in a
large room on quilts or pallets. Each night the larger children were
given so many "cuts" to spin, and were punished if all weren't finished.
The thread was woven into cloth on the loom and made into clothes by the
slaves who did the sewing. There were no "store bought" clothes, and
Mollie was free before she ever owned a pair of shoes. Clothes had to be
furnished by the owner for the slaves he "hired out".

Mr. and Mrs. Brock had two daughters, Margaret and Mary Anne, who led
very quiet secluded lives. Mollie remembers visits of the traveling
preacher, who conducted services in a nearby church once a month. The
slaves walked behind the White folks' carriages to and from the church,
where they were seated in the rear during the services. If there were
baptisms, the Whites were baptized first, then the Darkies.

On this plantation the Negroes were not allowed to engage in any frolics
or attend social gatherings. They only knew Christmas by the return of
the hired out slaves, who came home for a week before the next auction.

The young lady daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Brock wore "drag tail" dresses,
and Mollie says the little Negroes had to hold these long skirts off the
ground whenever they were out doors, then spread them as they went into
the house so they could "strut."

The children were not allowed any education other than the "old Miss"
reading them the Bible on Sunday afternoons.

The older Negroes were not allowed to visit on other plantations often,
but when they did go they had to have passes from their masters or the
"patarolers" would whip them--if they were caught.

Hoar-hound and penny-royal were used for minor ailments, and "varnish"
was put on cuts by the "ole Miss". Mollie doesn't remember ever seeing a
doctor, other than a mid-wife, on the plantation. Home made remedies for
"palpitation of the heart" was to wear tied around the neck a piece of
lead, pounded into the shape of the heart, and punched with nine holes,
or to get some one "not kin to you", to tie some salt in a small bag and
wear it over your heart. Toothache was cured by smoking a pipe of "life
everlasting", commonly called "rabbit tobacco". Headaches were stopped
by beating the whites of an egg stiff, adding soda and putting on a
cloth, then tying around the head.

Mr. Brock died before the War, consequently not having any men to go
from the plantation, Mollie knew very little about it. She remembers
Confederate soldiers "practicin" at Locust Grove, the nearest town, and
one time the Yankees came to the plantation and "took off" a horse Mrs.
Brock had hidden in the swamp, also all the silver found buried.

Mollie knew nothing of the freedom of the slaves until her mother came
to get her. For two years they "hired out" on a farm in Butts County,
where they worked in the fields. Several times in later years Mollie
returned to the Brock plantation to see "the ole Miss" and the young
Misses. Mrs. Brock and her daughters, who had never married, died on the
plantation where they had always lived.

Mollie's family "knocked around awhile", and then came to Griffin where
they have since made their home. She became a familiar figure driving an
ox-cart on the streets and doing odd jobs for White families and leading
a useful life in the community. Besides her own family, Mollie has
raised fifteen orphaned Negro children. She is approximately ninety
years old, being "about growd" when the War ended.

District Two

Milledgeville, Georgia
(Baldwin County)

Written By:
Mrs. Estelle G. Burke
Research Worker
Federal Writers' Project
Milledgeville, Georgia

Edited By:
John N. Booth
Asst. District Supervisor
Federal Writers' Project
Athens, Georgia

July 7, 1937
[Date Stamp: JUL 20 1937]

"Howdy, Miss, Howdy. Come on in. George is poly today. My grandchillun
is doin' a little cleanin' up fer me 'cause us thinks George ain't got
long on this earth an' us don' want de place ter be dirty an' all when
he's gone."

The home of Aunt Carrie and Uncle George Mason, a two-room cabin
surrounded by a dirty yard, stands in a clearing. Old tin cans, bottles,
dusty fruit jars, and piles of rat-tail cotton from gutted mattresses
littered the place. An immense sugarberry tree, beautifully
proportioned, casts inviting shade directly in front of the stoop. It is
the only redeeming feature about the premises. Aunt Carrie, feeble and
gray haired, hobbled out in the yard with the aid of a stick.

"Have a seat, Miss. Dat cheer is all right. It won't fall down. Don't
git yo' feet wet in dat dirty water. My grandchillun is scourin' terday.
Effen yer want to, us'll set under de tree. Dey's a cool breeze dar all
de time.

"You wants to fin' out my age an' all? Law Miss, I don' know how ole I
is. George is nigh 'bout 90. I 'members my mammy said I wuz bawn a mont'
or two 'fore freedom wuz 'clared. Yas'um I rekymembers all 'bout de
Yankees. How cum I 'members 'bout dem an' de war wuz over den? I cain't
tell yer dat, but I knows I 'members seein' 'em in de big road. It
mought not uv been Mister Sherman's mens but mammy said de Yankees wuz
in de big road long after freedom wuz 'clared, and dey wuz down here
gettin' things straight. Dey wuz sho' in er mess atter de war! Evvythin'
wuz tore up an' de po' niggers didn't know which away to turn.

"My mammy's name wuz Catherine Bass an' my pappy wuz Ephriam Butts. Us
b'longed ter Mars' Ben Bass an' my mammy had de same name ez marster
twell she ma'ied pappy. He b'longed ter somebody else 'til marster
bought him. Dey had ten chillun. No, mam, Mammy didn't have no doctor,"
Aunt Carrie chuckled, "Didn't nobody hardly have a doctor in dem days.
De white folks used yarbs an' ole 'omans to he'p 'em at dat time. Mammy
had er ole 'oman whut lived on de place evvy time she had a little 'un.
She had one evvy year too. She lost one. Dat chile run aroun' 'til she
wuz one year ole an' den died wid de disentery.

"Us had er right hard time in dem days. De beds us used den warn't like
dese here nice beds us has nowadays. Don't you laugh, Berry, I knows
dese beds us got now is 'bout to fall down," Aunt Carrie admonished her
grandson when he guffawed at her statement, "You chilluns run erlong now
an' git thoo' wid dat cleanin'." Aunt Carrie's spirits seemed dampened
by Berry's rude laugh and it was several minutes before she started
talking again. "Dese young folks don't know nuthin' 'bout hard times. Us
wukked in de ole days frum before sunup 'til black night an' us knowed
whut wuk wuz. De beds us slep' on had roun' postes made outen saplins of
hickory or little pine trees. De bark wuz tuk off an' dey wuz rubbed
slick an' shiny. De sprangs wuz rope crossed frum one side uv de bed to
de udder. De mattress wuz straw or cotton in big sacks made outen
osnaberg or big salt sacks pieced tergether. Mammy didn't have much soap
an' she uster scrub de flo' wid sand an' it wuz jes ez white. Yas mam,
she made all de soap us used, but it tuk a heap. We'uns cooked in de
ashes an' on hot coals, but de vittals tasted a heap better'n dey does
nowadays. Mammy had to wuk in de fiel' an' den cum home an' cook fer
marster an' his fambly. I didn' know nuthin' 'bout it 'till atter
freedom but I hyearn 'em tell 'bout it.

"Mammy an' pappy stayed on Marster's plantation 'til a year or mo' atter
dey had dey freedom. Marster paid 'em wages an' a house ter stay in. He
didn't hav' many slaves, 'bout 20, I reckon. My brothers wuz Berry,
Dani'l, Ephriam, Tully, Bob, Lin, an' George. De yuthers I disremembers,
caze dey lef' home when dey wuz big enough to earn dey livin' an' I jes
don't recollec'.

"Conjur' woman! Law miss, I aims ter git ter Hebem when I dies an' I
show don't know how ter conjur' nobody. No mam, I ain't never seed no
ghost. I allus pray to de Lord dat He spar' me dat trouble an' not let
me see nary one. No good in folks plunderin' on dis earth atter dey
leave here de fus time. Go 'way, dog."

A spotted hound, lean and flop-eared was scratching industriously under
Aunt Carrie's chair. It was a still summer day and the flies droned
ceaselessly. A well nearby creaked as the dripping bucket was drawn to
the top by a granddaughter who had come in from the field to get a cool
drink. Aunt Carrie watched the girl for a moment and then went back to
her story.

"Effen my mammy or pappy ever runned away from Marster, I ain't heered
tell uv it, but Mammy said dat when slaves did run away, dey wuz cotched
an' whupped by de overseer. Effen a man or a 'oman kilt another one den
dey wuz branded wid er hot i'on. Er big S wuz put on dey face somewhars.
S stood fer 'slave, 'an' evvybody knowed dey wuz er mudderer. Marster
din't have no overseer; he overseed hisself.

"Why is George so white? 'Cause his marster wuz er white genemun named
Mister Jimmie Dunn. His mammy wuz er cullud 'oman name' Frances Mason
an' his marster wuz his paw. Yas mam, I see you is s'prised, but dat
happ'ned a lots in dem days. I hyeared tell of er white man what would
tell his sons ter 'go down ter dem nigger quarters an' git me mo'
slaves.' Yas mam, when George wuz borned ter his mamny, his pappy wuz er
white man an' he made George his overseer ez soon ez he wuz big e'nuf
ter boss de yuther slaves. I wish he wuz able to tell yer 'bout it, but
since he had dat las' stroke he ain't been able ter talk none."

Aunt Carrie took an old clay pipe from her apron pocket and filled it
with dry scraps of chewing tobacco. After lighting it she puffed quietly
and seemed to be meditating. Finally she took it from her mouth and

"I ain't had no eddication. I 'tended school part of one term but I wuz
so skairt of my teacher that I couldn't larn nuthin'. He wuz a ole white
man. He had been teachin' fer years an' years, but he had a cancer an'
dey had done stopped him frum teachin' white chillun'. His name wuz
Mister Bill Greer. I wuz skairt 'cause he was a white man. No mam, no
white man ain't never harmed me, but I wuz skairt of him enyhow. One day
he says to me, 'chile I ain't goin to hurt yer none 'cause I'm white.'
He wuz a mighty good ole man. He would have larned us mo' but he died de
nex' year. Mammy paid him ten cents a mont' a piece fer all us chillun.
De boys would wuk fer dey money but I wuz the onliest gal an' Mammy
wouldn't let me go off de plantation to make none. Whut I made dar I
got, but I didn't make much 'til atter I ma'ied.

"Law honey, does yer want to know 'bout my ma'ige? Well, I wuz 15 years
ole an' I had a preacher to ma'y me. His name wuz Andrew Brown. In dem
days us allus waited 'til de time of year when us had a big meetin' or
at Christmus time. Den effen one of us wanted ter git mai'ed, he would
perform de weddin' atter de meetin' or atter Chris'mus celebratin'. I
had er bluish worsted dress. I mai'ed in Jannywerry, right atter
Chris'mus. At my mai'ge us had barbecue, brunswick stew, an' cake. De
whole yard wuz full uv folks.

"Mammy wuz a 'ligous 'oman an' de fust day of Chris'mus she allus fasted
ha'f a day an' den she would pray. Atter dat evvybody would hav' eggnog
an' barbecue an' cake effen dey had de money to buy it. Mammy said dat
when dey wuz still slaves Marster allus gived 'em Chris'mus, but atter
dey had freedom den dey had ter buy dey own rations. Us would have
banjer playin' an' dance de pijen-wing and de shuffle-toe.

"No mam, George's pa didn' leave him no lan' when he died. Us went ter
another farm an' rented when de mai'ge wuz over. George's pa warn't
dead, but he didn't offer to do nuthin' fer us.

"Yas'um, I'se had eight chilluns of my own. Us ain' never had no lan' us
could call our'n. Us jes moved from one farm ter another all our days.
This here lan' us is on now 'longs ter Mr. Cline. My son an' his chillun
wuks it an' dey give us whut dey kin spare. De Red Cross lady he'ps us
an' us gits along somehow or nother."

Works Progress Administration
Harry L. Hopkins, Administrator
Ellen S. Woodward, Assistant Administrator
Henry S. Alsberg, Director of the Federal Writers' Project


Interview with:
Madison Street,
Macon, Georgia

Written by:
Ruth H. Sanford,
Macon, Georgia

Edited by:
Annie A. Rose,
Macon, Georgia

Susan Matthews is an intelligent old negress, very tall and weighing
close to two hundred pounds. Her eyes were bright, her "store-bought"
teeth flashed in a smile as she expressed her willingness to tell us all
she remembered "'bout ole times." In a tattered, faded print dress, a
misshapen hat and ragged shoes, she sat enjoying the sunshine on the
porch while she sewed on an underskirt she was making for herself from
old sugar sacks. Her manner was cheerful; she seemed to get genuine
enjoyment from the interview and gave us a hearty invitation to come to
see her again.

"I was jes a chile" she began, "when de white folks had slaves. My ma an
her chillen wuz the onliest slaves my marster and mistis had. My pa
belonged to some mo white folks that lived 'bout five miles from us. My
marster and mistis were poor folks. They lived in a white frame house;
it wuz jes a little house that had 'bout five rooms, I reckon. The house
had a kitchen in the backyard and the house my ma lived wuz in the back
yard too, but I wuz raised in my mistis' house. I slept in her room;
slep' on the foot of her bed to keep her feets warm and everwhere my
mistis went I went to. My marster and mistis wuz sho good to us an we
loved 'em. My ma, she done the cooking and the washing fer the family
and she could work in the fields jes lak a man. She could pick her three
hundred pounds of cotton or pull as much fodder as any man. She wuz
strong an she had a new baby mos' ev'y year. My marster and Mistis liked
for to have a lot of chillen 'cause that helped ter make 'em richer."

I didn't have much time fer playin' when I wus little cause I wuz allus
busy waitin' on my mistis er taking care of my little brothers and
sisters. But I did have a doll to play with. It wuz a rag doll an my
mistis made it fer me. I wuz jes crazy 'bout that doll and I learned how
to sew making clothes fer it. I'd make clothes fer it an wash an iron
'em, and it wasn't long 'fo I knowed how to sew real good, an I been
sewing ever since.

My white folks wern't rich er tall but we always had plenty of somep'n
to eat, and we had fire wood to keep us warm in winter too. We had
plenty of syrup and corn bread, and when dey killed a hog we had fine
sausage an chitlin's, an all sorts of good eating. My marster and the
white an collored boys would go hunting, and we had squirrels an rabbits
an possums jes lots of time. Yessum, we had plenty; we never did go

"Does I remember 'bout the Yankees coming?, Yes ma'am, I sho does. The
white chillen an us had been looking fer 'em and looking fer 'em. We
wanted 'em to come. We knowed 'twould be fun to see 'em. And sho 'nuf
one day I was out in de front yard to see and I seed a whole passel of
men in blue coats coming down de road. I hollered "Here come de
Yankees". I knowed 'twuz dem an my mistis an my ma an ev'y body come out
in the front yard to see 'em. The Yankees stopped an the leading man
with the straps on his shoulders talked to us an de men got water outen
de well. No'm, they didn't take nothing an they hurt nothing. After a
while they jes went on down the road; they sho looked hot an dusty an

"After de war wuz over my pa, he comed up to our house an got my ma an
all us chillen an carries us down to his marster's place. I didn't want
ter go cause I loved my mistis an she cried when we left. My pa's ole
marster let him have some land to work on shares. My pa wuz a hard
worker an we helped him an in a few years he bought a little piece of
land an he owned it till he died. 'Bout once er twice a year we'd all go
back ter see our mistis. She wuz always glad to see us an treated us

"After de war a white woman started a school fer nigger chillen an my pa
sent us. This white lady wuz a ole maid an wuz mighty poor. She an her
ma lived by dereselves, I reckon her pa had done got kilt in de war. I
don't know 'bout that but I knows they wuz mighty poor an my pa paid her
fer teaching us in things to eat from his farm. We didn't never have no
money. I loved to go to school; I had a blue back speller an I learned
real quick but we didn't get ter go all the time. When there wuz work
ter do on the farm we had ter stop an do it.

"Times warn't no better after de war wuz over an dey warnt no wuss. We
wuz po before de war an we wuz po after de war. But we allus had somep'n
to wear and plenty to eat an we never had no kick coming.

"I never did get married. I'se a old maid nigger, an they tells me you
don't see old maid niggers. How come I ain't married I don't know. Seems
like when I was young I seed somep'n wrong with all de mens that would
come around. Then atter while I wuz kinder ole an they didn't come
around no mo. Jes' last week a man come by here what used to co't me. He
seed me settin here on the porch an I says 'Come on in an set a while',
an he did. So maybe, I ain't through co'tin, maybe I'll get married
yet." Here she laughed gleefully.

When asked which she preferred freedom or slavery she replied, "Well,
being free wuz all right while I wuz young but now I'm old an I wish I
b'longed to somebody cause they would take keer of me an now I ain't got
nobody to take keer of me. The government gives me eight dollars a month
but that don't go fer enough. I has er hard time cause I can't git
around an work like I used to."

[HW: DIST. 6
Ex-slave #77]

Alberta Minor
Re-search Worker

East Solomon Street,
Griffin, Georgia
[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

Emily was born in 1861 on the Billy Stevens plantation in Upson County.
Her mother, Betsy Wych, was born at Hawkinsville, Georgia, and sold to
Mr. Billy Stevens. The father, Peter Wych, was born in West Virginia. A
free man, he was part Indian and when driving a team of oxen into
Virginia for lime, got into the slave territory, was overtaken by a
"speculator" and brought to Georgia where he was sold to the Wyches of
Macon. He cooked for them at their Hotel, "The Brown House" for a number
of years, then was sold "on the block" to Mr. Stevens of Upson County.
Betsy was sold at this same auction. Betsy and Peter were married by
"jumping the broomstick" after Mr. Stevens bought them. They had sixteen
children, of which Emily is the next to the last. She was always a
"puny", delicate child and her mother died when she was about seven
years old. She heard people tell her father that she "wasn't intented to
be raised" 'cause she was so little and her mother was "acomin' to get
her soon." Hearing this kind of remarks often had a depressing effect
upon the child, and she "watched the clouds" all the time expecting her
mother and was "bathed in tears" most of the time.

After the war, Peter rented a "patch" from Mr. Kit Parker and the whole
family worked in the fields except Emily. She was not big enough so they
let her work in the "big house" until Mrs. Parker's death. She helped
"'tend" the daughter's babies, washed and ironed table napkins and
waited on them "generally" for which she can't remember any "pay", but
they fed and clothed her.

Her older sister learned to weave when she was a slave, and helped sew
for the soldiers; so after freedom she continued making cloth and sewing
for the family while the others worked in the fields. [Buttons were made
from dried gourds.] They lived well, raising more on their patch than
they could possibly use and selling the surplus. For coffee they split
and dried sweet potatoes, ground and parched them.

The only education Emily received was at the "Sugar Hill" Sunday School.
They were too busy in the spring for social gatherings, but after the
crops were harvested, they would have "corn shuckings" where the Negroes
gathered from neighboring farms and in three or four days time would
finish at one place then move on to the next farm. It was quite a social
gathering and the farm fed all the guests with the best they had.

The Prayer Meetings and "singings" were other pleasant diversions from
the daily toil.

After Mrs. Parker's death Emily worked in her father's fields until she
was married to Aaron Mays, then she came to Griffin where she has lived
ever since. She is 75 years old and has cooked for "White folks" until
she was just too old to "see good", so she now lives with her daughter.


Written and Edited By:
Leila Harris
John N. Booth

Federal Writers' Project
Augusta, Georgia

March 25, 1938

"Come right in. Have a seat. I'll be glad to tell you anything I can
'bout dem early days", said Liza Mention. "Course I warn't born till de
second year atter freedom, so I don't 'member nothin' 'bout all dat
fightin' durin' de war. I'se sho' glad I warn't born in slavery from
what I heared 'em tell 'bout dem patterollers ketchin' and beatin' up
folks." Liza's house, a 2-room hut with a narrow front porch, stands in
a peaceful spot on the edge of the Wilson plantation at Beech Island,
South Carolina. A metal sign on the door which revealed that the
property is protected by a theft insurance service aroused wonder as to
what Liza had that could attract a burglar. The bedroom was in extreme
disorder with clothing, shoes, bric-a-brac, and just plain junk
scattered about. The old Negress had been walking about the sunshiny
yard and apologized for the mess by saying that she lived alone and did
as she pleased. "Folks says I oughtn't to stay here by myself," she
remarked, "but I laks to be independent. I cooked 25 years for de Wilson
fambly and dey is gonna let me have dis house free 'til I die 'cause I
ain't able to do no work."

Liza's close-fitting hat pinned her ears to her head. She wore a dress
that was soiled and copiously patched and her worn out brogans were
several sizes too large. Ill health probably accounts for this
untidiness for, as she expressed it, "when I gits up I hate to set down
and when I sets down, I hates to git up, my knees hurts me so," however,
her face broke into a toothless grin on the slightest provocation.

"I wuz born up on de Reese's place in McDuffie County near Thomson,
Georgia. When I wuz chillun us didn't know nothin' 'bout no wuk," she
volunteered. "My ma wuz a invalis (invalid) so when I wuz 6 years old
she give me to her sister over here at Mr. Ed McElmurray's place to
raise. I ain't never knowed who my pa wuz. Us chaps played all de time
wid white chillun jus' lak dey had all been Niggers. Chillun den didn't
have sense lak dey got now; us wuz satisfied jus' to play all de time. I
'members on Sundays us used to take leaves and pin 'em together wid
thorns to make usselves dresses and hats to play in. I never did go to
school none so I don't know nothin' 'bout readin' and writin' and
spellin'. I can't spell my own name, but I think it begins wid a M.
Hit's too late to study 'bout all dat now 'cause my old brain couldn't
learn nothin'. Hit's done lost most all of what little I did know.

"Back in dem times, folkses cooked on open fireplaces in winter time and
in summer dey built cook stands out in de yard to set de spiders on, so
us could cook and eat outdoors. Dere warn't no stoves nowhar. When us
wuz hard up for sompin' green to bile 'fore de gyardens got goin' good,
us used to go out and git wild mustard, poke salad, or pepper grass. Us
et 'em satisfactory and dey never kilt us. I have et heaps of kinds of
diffunt weeds and I still eats a mess of poke salad once or twice a year
'cause it's good for you. Us cooked a naked hunk of fat meat in a pot
wid some corn dumplin's.

"De grown folks would eat de meat and de chilluns would sit around on de
floor and eat de potlikker and dumplin's out of tin pans. Us enjoyed dat
stuff jus' lak it had been pound cake.

"Dances in dem days warn't dese here huggin' kind of dances lak dey has
now. Dere warn't no Big Apple nor no Little Apple neither. Us had a
house wid a raised flatform (platform) at one end whar de music-makers
sot. Dey had a string band wid a fiddle, a trumpet, and a banjo, but
dere warn't no guitars lak dey has in dis day. One man called de sets
and us danced de cardrille (quadrille) de virginia reel, and de 16-hand
cortillion. When us made syrup on de farm dere would always be a candy
pullin'. Dat homemade syrup made real good candy. Den us would have a
big time at corn shuckin's too.

"I don't believe in no conjuration. Ain't nobody never done nothin' to
me but I have seed people dat other folks said had been hurt. If
somebody done somethin' to me I wouldn't know whar to find a root-worker
to take it off and anyways I wouldn't trust dem sort of folks 'cause if
dey can cyore you dey can kill you too.

"I'se a member of de Silver Bluff Baptist Church, and I been goin' to
Sunday School dar nearly ever since I can 'member. You know dey say
dat's de oldest Nigger church in de country. At fust a white man come
from Savannah and de church wuz built for his family and dey slaves.
Later dere wuz so many colored members de white folks come out and built
another house so de niggers could have de old one. When dat ole church
wuz tore down, de colored folks worshipped for a long time in a goat
house and den in a brush arbor.

"Some folks calls it de Dead River Church 'cause it used to be near Dead
River and de baptisin' wuz done dar for a long time. I wuz baptised dar
myself and I loves de old spot of ground. I has tried to be a good
church member all my life but it's hard fer me to get a nickel or a dime
for preacher money now."

When asked if people in the old days got married by jumping over a broom
she made a chuckling sound and replied: "No, us had de preacher but us
didn't have to buy no license and I can't see no sense in buyin' a
license nohow, 'cause when dey gits ready to quit, dey just quits."

Liza brought an old Bible from the other room in which she said she kept
the history of the old church. There were also pictures from some of her
"white folks" who had moved to North Carolina. "My husband has been daid
for 40 years," she asserted, "and I hasn't a chile to my name, nobody to
move nothin' when I lays it down and nobody to pick nothin' up. I gets
along pretty well most of de time though, but I wishes I could work so I
would feel more independent."

District Two

Toccoa, Georgia
(Stephens County)

Written By:
Mrs. Annie Lee Newton
Research Worker
Federal Writers' Project
Athens, Georgia

Edited By:
John N. Booth
Asst. District Supervisor
Federal Writers' Project
Athens, Georgia

July 15, 1937

Aunt Harriet Miller, a chipper and spry Indian Half-breed, thinks she is
about 100 years old. It is remarkable that one so old should possess so
much energy and animation. She is tall and spare, with wrinkled face,
bright eyes, a kindly expression, and she wears her iron grey hair wound
in a knob in the manner of a past generation. Aunt Harriet was neatly
dressed as she had just returned from a trip to Cornelia to see some of
her folks. She did not appear at all tired from the trip, and seemed
glad to discuss the old days.

"My father," said Aunt Harriet, "was a Cherokee Indian named Green
Norris, and my mother was a white woman named Betsy Richards. You see, I
am mixed. My mother give me to Mr. George Naves when I was three years
old. He lived in de mountains of South Carolina, just across de river.
He didn't own his home. He was overseer for de Jarretts, old man Kennedy
Jarrett. Honey, people was just like dey is now, some good and some bad.
Mr. Naves was a good man. Dese here Jarretts was good to deir slaves but
de ----s was mean to deirs. My whitefolks tried to send me to school but
de whitefolks wouldn't receive me in deir school on account of I was
mixed, and dere warn't no colored school a t'all, nowhere. Some of de
white ladies taught deir slaves. Yes'm, some of 'em did. Now, Miss
Sallie Jarrett, dat was Mrs. Bob Jarrett's daughter, used to teach 'em

"Slaves had half a day off on Saturday. Dey had frolics at night,
quiltings, dances, corn-shuckings, and played de fiddle. Dey stayed in
de quarters Sunday or went to church. Dey belonged to de same church wid
de whitefolks. I belonged to Old Liberty Baptist Church. De back seats
was whar de slaves set. Dey belonged to de same church just like de
whitefolks, but I wasn't with 'em much." As a child, Aunt Harriet
associated with white people, and played with white children, but when
she grew up, had to turn to negroes for companionship.

"If slaves stayed in deir places dey warn't never whipped or put in
chains. When company come I knowed to get out doors. I went on to my
work. I was treated all right. I don't remember getting but three
whippings in my life. Old Mistis had brown sugar, a barrel of sugar
setting in de dinin' room. She'd go off and she'd come back and ask me
'bout de sugar. She'd get after me 'bout it and I'd say I hadn't took
it, and den when she turned my dress back and whipped me I couldn't
hardly set down. She whipped me twice 'bout the sugar and den she let me
alone. 'Twasn't de sugar she whipped me 'bout, but she was trying to get
me to tell de truth. Yes'm, dat was de best lesson dat ever I learned,
to tell de truth, like David.

"I had a large fambly. Lets see, I had ten chillun, two of 'em dead, and
I believes 'bout 40 grand-chillun. I could count 'em. Last time I was
counting de great-grandchillun dere was 37 but some have come in since
den. Maggie has 11 chillun. Maggie's husband is a farmer and dey lives
near Eastonallee. Lizzie, her husband is dead and she lives wid a
daughter in Chicago, has 5 chillun. Den Media has two. Her husband,
Hillary Campbell, works for de Govemint, in Washington. Lieutenant has
six; he farms. Robert has six; Robert is a regular old farmer and Sunday
School teacher. Davey has four, den Luther has seven, and dat leaves
Jim, my baby boy. He railroads and I lives wid him. Jim is 37. He ain't
got no chillun. My husband, Judge Miller, been dead 37 years. He's
buried at Tugalo. Dis old lady been swinging on a limb a long time and
she going to swing off from here some time. I'm near about a hundred and
I won't be here long, but when I go, I wants to go in peace wid

"I don't know. I'd be 'feard to say dere ain't nothing in voo-doo. Some
puts a dime in de shoe to keep de voo-doo away, and some carries a
buckeye in de pocket to keep off cramp and colic. Dey say a bone dey
finds in de jawbone of a hog will make chillun teethe easy. When de
slaves got sick, de whitefolks looked after 'em. De medicines for
sickness was nearly all yerbs. Dey give boneset for colds, made tea out
of it, and acheing joints. Butterfly root and slippery elm bark was to
cool fever. Willow ashes is good for a corn, poke root for rheumatism,
and a syrup made of mullein, honey, and alum for colds. Dey use barks
from dogwood, wild cherry, and clack haws, for one thing and another.
I'll tell you what's good for pizen-oak, powdered alum and sweet cream.
Beat it if it's lump alum, and put it in sweet cream, not milk, it has
to be cream. Dere's lots of other remedies and things, but I'm getting
so sap-skulled and I'm so old I can't remember. Yes'm, I've got mighty
trifling 'bout my remembrance.

"Once some Indians camped on de river bottoms for three or four years,
and we'd go down; me, and Anne, and Genia, nearly every Saturday, to
hear 'em preach. We couldn't understand it. Dey didn't have no racket or
nothing like colored folks. Dey would sing, and it sounded all right. We
couldn't understand it, but dey enjoyed it. Dey worked and had crops.
Dey had ponies, pretty ponies. Nobody never did bother 'em. Dey made
baskets out of canes, de beautifulest baskets, and dey colored 'em wid
dyes, natchel dyes.

"Indian woman wore long dresses and beads. Deir hair was plaited and
hanging down de back, and deir babyes was tied on a blanket on de back.
Mens wore just breeches and feathers in deir hats. I wish you could have
seen 'em a cooking. Dey would take corn dough, and den dey'd boil birds,
make sort of long, not round dumplings, and drop 'em in a pot of hot
soup. We thought dat was terrible, putting dat in de pot wid de birds.
Dey had blow-guns and dey'd slip around, and first thing dey'd blow, and
down come a bird. Dey'd kill a squirrel and ketch fish wid deir blow
guns. Dem guns was made out of canes 'bout eight feet long, burned out
at de j'ints for de barrel. Dey put in a arrow what had thistles on one
end to make it go through quick and de other end sharp.

"Yes honey, I believes in hants. I was going 'long, at nine o'clock one
night 'bout the Denham fill and I heard a chain a rattling 'long de
cross-ties. I couldn't see a thing and dat chain just a rattling as
plain as if it was on dis floor. Back, since the war, dere was a
railroad gang working 'long by dis fill, and de boss, Captain Wing,
whipped a convict. It killed him, and de boss throwed him in de fill. I
couldn't see a thing, and dat chain was just rattling right agai' de
fill where dat convict had been buried. I believes de Lord took keer of
me dat night and I hope he keeps on doing so."

[HW: Dist. 6
Ex-Slave #75]

Alberta Minor
Re-search Worker

507 East Chappell Street
Griffin, Georgia

August 31, 1936
[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

Mollie Mitchell, a white haired old darkey, 85 years old was born on the
Newt Woodard plantation. It is the old Jackson Road near Beulah Church.
Until she was 7 years old she helped about the house running errands for
her "Missus", "tendin' babies", "sweeping the yard", and "sich." At 7
she was put in the fields. The first day at work she was given certain
rows to hoe but she could not keep in the row. The Master came around
twice a day to look at what they had done and when it was not done
right, he whipped them. "Seems like I got whipped all day long," she
said. One time when Mollie was about 13 years old, she was real sick,
the master and missus took her to the bathing house where there was
"plenty of hot water." They put her in a tub of hot water then took her
out, wrapped her in blankets and sheets and put her in cold water. They
kept her there 4 or 5 days doing that until they broke her fever.
Whenever the negroes were sick, they always looked after them and had a
doctor if necessary. At Christmas they had a whole week holiday and
everything they wanted to eat. The negroes lived a happy carefree life
unless they "broke the rules." If one lied or stole or did not work or
did not do his work right or stayed out over the time of their pass,
they were whipped. The "pass" was given them to go off on Saturday. It
told whose "nigger" they were and when they were due back, usually by 4
o'clock Sunday afternoon or Monday morning. "The patta-roll" (patrol)
came by to see your pass and if you were due back home, they would give
you a whippin'!"

Mollie was 15 years old when the master came out in the fields and told
them they were as free as he was. Her family stayed with him. He gave
them a horse or mule, their groceries and a "patch to work", that they
paid for in about three years time. Before the war whenever his slaves
reached 70 years, the master set them free and gave them a mule, cow and
a "patch". Mollie can remember her grandmother and grandfather getting
theirs. When Mollie married (17 years old), she moved to her husband's
farm. She had 9 children. She had to "spin the cloth" for their clothes,
and did any kind of work, even the men's work too. Out of herbs she made
syrup for worms for her children. With the barks of different trees she
made the spring tonic and if their "stomachs was wrong", she used red
oak bark. When she was younger, she would "dream a dream" and see it
"jes' as clear" next morning and it always came true, but now since
she's aged her dreams are "gone away" by next morning. When she was a
little girl, they made them go to Sunday School and taught them out of a
"blue back speller". After freedom, they were sent to day school "some".
The "little missus" used to teach her upstairs after they were supposed
to be in bed. She's been a member of the Methodist Church since she was
17 years old. Mollie's husband was always a farmer and he always planted
by the moon. Potatoes, turnips and things that grow under the ground
were planted in the dark of the moon while beans and peas and things
that develope on top the ground were planted in the light of the moon.

She said she couldn't remember many superstitions but she knew a
rabbit's foot was tied round your neck or waist for luck and a crowing
hen was bad luck, so bad that they killed them and "put 'em in the pot"
whenever they found one. When you saw a cat washing its face, it was
going to rain sure.

Mollie is quite wrinkled, has thinning white hair, very bad teeth but
fairly active physically and her mind is moderately clear.

Elizabeth Watson

BOB MOBLEY, Ex-Slave, Aged about 90
Pulaski County, Georgia
[Date Stamp: JUL 20 1937]

When recently interviewed, this aged colored man--the soul of humbleness
and politeness--and long a resident of Pulaski County, sketched his life
as follows (his language reconstructed):

"I was the seventh child of the eleven children born to Robert and
Violet Hammock, slaves of Mr. Henry Mobley of Crawford County. My
parents were also born in Crawford County.

My master was well-to-do: he owned a great deal of land and many

Macon was our nearest trading town--and Mr. Mobley sold his cotton and
did his trading there, though he sent his children to school at
Knoxville (Crawford County).

My mother was the family cook, and also superintended the cooking for
many of the slaves.

We slaves had a good time, and none of us were abused or mistreated,
though young Negroes were sometimes whipped--when they deserved it.
Grown Negro men, in those days, wore their hair long and, as a
punishment to them for misconduct (etc.), the master cut their hair off.

I was raised in my master's house--slept in his room when I was a small
boy, just to be handy to wait on him when he needed anything.

If a slave became sick, a doctor was promptly called to attend him. My
mother was also a kind of doctor and often rode all over the plantation
to dose ailing Negroes with herb teas and home medicines which she was
an adept in compounding. In cases of [HW: minor] illness, she could
straighten up the sick in no time.

Before the war started, I took my young master to get married, and we
were certainly dressed up. You have never seen a Nigger and a white man
as dressed up as we were on that occasion.

An aunt of mine was head weaver on our plantation, and she bossed the
other women weavers and spinners. Two or three seamstresses did all the

In winter time we slaves wore wool, which had been dyed before the cloth
was cut. In summer we wore light goods.

We raised nearly every thing that we ate, except sugar and coffee, and
made all the shoes and clothes worn on the place, except the white
ladies' silks, fine shawls, and slippers, and the men's broadcloths and
dress boots.

My young master went to the war, but his father was too old to go. When
we heard that the Yankees were coming, old mister refugeed to Dooly
County--where he bought a new farm, and took his Negroes with him. But
the new place was so poor that, right after the war closed, he moved
back to his old plantation. I stayed with Mr. Henry for a long time
after freedom, then came to Hawkinsville to work at the carpenter's
trade. And I did pretty well here until I fell off a house several years
ago, since which time I haven't been much good--not able to do hardly
any work at all."

Now old, feeble, and physically incapacitated, "Uncle" Bob lives with a
stepdaughter--a woman of 72--who, herself, is failing fast. Both are
supported mainly by Pulaski County and the Federal Government.

[HW: Dist. 6
Ex-Slave #79]

Mary A. Crawford
Re-Search Worker

[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

Fanny was born in slavery and was "a great big girl" when the slaves
were freed but does not know her exact age, however, she thinks that she
was "at least twelve when the War broke out." According to this method
of estimating her age, Fanny is about eighty-seven.

The old woman's parents were John Arnold and Rosetta Green, who were
married 'away befo de wah' by steppin' over the broom' in the presence
of "old Marse," and a lot of colored friends.

Fanny does not know where her parents were born, but thinks that they
were born in Upson County near Thomaston, Georgia, and knows that she
and her two brothers and other sister were.

Fanny and her family were owned by Judge Jim Green. Judge Green had a
hundred or so acres of land Fanny 'reckon', and between twenty-five and
seventy-five slaves.

"The Marster was just as good as he could be to all the slaves, and
especially to the little chillun." "The Judge did not 'whup' much--and
used a peach tree limb and done it hisself. There wuzn't no strop at
Marse Green's big house."

Rosetta Green, the mother of Fanny, "cooked and washed for Judge Green
for yeahs and yeahs." Fanny "found her mammy a cookin' at the big house
the fust thing she knowed."

As Fanny grew up, she was trained by "ole Miss" to be a house girl, and
did "sech wuk" as churning, minding the flies "offen de table when de
white folks et, gwine backards and forads to de smoke-house for my

She recalls that when she "minded the flies offen the table she allus
got plenty of biscuits and scraps o' fried chicken the white folks left
on their plates." "But," Fanny added with a satisfied smile, "Marse
Green's darkies never wanted for sumpin t'eat, case he give 'em a
plenty, even molasses all dey wanted." Fanny and her mammy always ate in
"de Missis kitchen."

"Yes," said Fanny, "I remembers when de Yankees come through, it tickled
us chillun and skeered us too! Dey wuz mo'n a hundred, Miss, riding
mighty po' ole wore out hosses. All de men wanted wuz sumpin' t'eat and
some good hosses. De men poured into de smokehouse and de kitchen (here
Fanny had to laugh again) an how dem Yankee mens did cut and hack "Ole
Marse's" best hams! After dey et all dey could hol' dey saddled up "ole
Marse's" fine hosses an' away dey rid!"

When asked why the white folks did not hide the horses out in the swamps
or woods, Fanny replied, "case, dey didn't have time. Dem Yankees
pounced down like hawks after chickens!" "Ole Marse jost did have time
to 'scape to de woods hisself." The Judge was too old to go to the war.

John Arnold, Fanny's daddy, was owned by Mr. John Arnold on an adjoining
plantation to Judge Greene, and when he and Fanny's mother were married,
John was allowed to visit Rosetta each week-end. Of course he had to
carry a pass from his "Marster."

John and Rosetta "never lived together year in and year out," according
to Fanny's statement, "till long after freedom."

Fanny relates that Judge Green's slaves all went to "meetin" every
Sunday in the white folks church. The darkies going in the after-noon
and the white people going in the forenoon.

The white preacher ministered to both the white and colored people.

If the Negroes were sick and needed mo [HW: den] "old Marse" knowed what
to give em, he "sont the white folk's doctor." "You see, Miss," said old
Fanny with pride, "I wuz owned by big white folks."

She tells that Judge Green had two young sons (not old enough to fight)
and three daughters, 'jest little shavers, so high', (here Fanny
indicated from three, to four or five feet at intervals, to indicate
small children's height,) then added, "We allus said, 'Little Miss
Peggy', 'Little Miss Nancy', and 'Little Missz Jane', and 'Young Marse
Jim' and 'Little Marster Bob'". "Did you ever forget to speak to the
children in that way?" the interviewer asked. "No, Miss, we sho didn't,
we knowed better dan to fergit!"

Fanny is very feeble in every way, voice is weak and her step most
uncertain, but she is straight of figure, and was ripping up smoking
tobacco sacks with which her daughter is to make 'a purty bed spread'.
Fanny and her husband, another ex-slave, live with Fanny's daughter. The
daughter supports her mother.

[HW: Dist. 6
Ex-Slave #80]

Mary A. Crawford
Re-Search Worker

808 E. Slaton Ave.
Griffin, Georgia

September 24, 1936
[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

[TR: Numerous handwritten changes were made in this interview. Where a
word appears in brackets after a HW entry, it was replaced by that
handwritten entry. All numbers were originally spelled out.]

Henry Nix was born March 15, 1848 in Upson County, about 5 miles from
Barnesville, Georgia.

[HW: His] [Henry's] parents were John Nix and Catherine Willis, who were
not married, because as Henry reports, John Nix was an overseer on the
plantation of Mr. Jasper Willis, "and when Marster found out what kind
of man John Nix was he (Nix) had to skip out."

When Henry "was a good sized boy, his mother married a darky man", and 3
other children were born, 2 boys and a girl. Henry loved his mother very
much and [HW: says] relates that on her death bed she told him who his
father was, and [TR: "also told him" crossed out] how to live so as not
to get into trouble, and, [HW: due to her advice] that he has never been
in jail nor in any meanness of any kind [TR: "due to what she told him"
crossed out].

Mr. Jasper Willis, [TR: "who was" crossed out] Henry's owner, lived on a
large plantation of about 300 three hundred acres in Upson County, [HW:
and] [Mr. Willis] owned only about 50 or 60 slaves as well as Henry can
remember. The old man considers Mr. Willis "the best marster that a
darky ever had," saying that he "sho" made his darkies work and mind,
but he never beat them or let the patter-role do it, though sometimes he
did use a switch on 'em". Henry recalls that he received "a sound
whuppin onct, 'case he throwed a rock at one o' Marse Jasper's fine cows
and broke her laig!"

When asked if Mr. Willis had the slaves taught to read and write, Henry
hooted at the idea, saying emphatically, "No, Mam, 'Ole Marse' wuz sho
hard about dat. He said 'Niggers' wuz made by de good Lawd to work, and
onct when my Uncle stole a book and wuz a trying to learn how to read
and write, Marse Jasper had the white doctor take off my Uncle's fo'
finger right down to de 'fust jint'. Marstar said he fixed dat darky as
a sign fo de res uv 'em! No, Miss, we wuzn't larned!"

Mr. Willis allowed his slaves from Saturday at noon till Monday morning
as a holiday, and then they always had a week for Christmas. All of the
Negroes went to meeting on Sunday afternoon in the white people's church
and were served by the white minister.

Henry says that they had a "circuit doctor" on his Marster's place and
the doctor came around regularly at least every two weeks, "case Marster
paid him to do so and [HW: he] 'xamined evah darky big and little on dat

One time Henry recalls that he "had a turrible cowbunkle" on the back of
his neck and 'marse' had the doctor to cut it open. Henry knowed better
den to holler and cut up, too, when it was done.

The old man remembers going to war with his young master and remaining
with him for the two years he was in service. They were in Richmond when
the city surrendered to Grant and soon after that the young master was
killed in the fight at Tumlin Gap. Henry hardly knows how he got back to
"Ole Marster" but is thankful he did.

After freedom, [HW: al]most all of Mr. Willis' darkies stayed on with
him but Henry "had to act smart and run away." He went over into Alabama
and managed "to keep [TR: "his" crossed out] body and soul together
somehow, for several years and then [TR: "he" crossed out] went back to
"Ole Marster."

Henry is well and rather active for his 87 or 88 years and likes to
work. He has a job now cleaning off the graves at the white cemetery but
he and his wife depend mainly [HW: for support] on their son [TR: "for
support" crossed out], who lives just across the street from them.

[HW: Dist. 6]

Mary A. Crawford
Re-Search Worker

501 E. Tinsley Street
Griffin, Georgia

August 21, 1936
[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

[TR: Numerous handwritten changes were made in this interview. Where a
word appears in brackets after a HW entry, it was replaced by that
handwritten entry.]

Lewis Ogletree was born on the plantation of Mr. Fred Crowder of
Spalding County, Georgia [HW: Ga], near Griffin. [HW: He] [Lewis] does
not know exactly when he was born, but says that [TR: "he knows that"
crossed out] he was maybe 17 years old at the end of the war in '65.
This would make him 88 now.

Mr. Crowder was the owner of a large number of slaves and among them
was Lettie Crowder, [TR: "(married an Ogletree) the" crossed out]
housekeeper and head servant in the home of Mr. Fred Crowder. Lettie was
Lewis' mother.

Lewis remembers standing inside the picket fence with a lot of other
little pick-a-ninnies watching for Sherman's Army, and when the Yankees
got close enough to be heard plainly, they hid in the bushes or under
the house.

The Yankees poured into the yard and into the house, making Lettie open
the smoke-house and get them Mr. Crowder's best whiskey and oftentimes
they made her cook them a meal of ham and eggs.

Mr. Crowder, Lettie's master, was ill during the war, having a cancer on
his left hand.

Lewis reports that Mr. Crowder was a very hard master but a good one
saying, "That it wasn't any use for the "patty-role" (the Patrol) to
come to Marse Crowder's, 'cause he would not permit him to "tech one of
his darkies."

Mrs. Crowder, the "ole mistis", had died just before the war broke out
and Mr. Crowder lived alone with his house servants.

There were two young sons in the war. The oldest son, Col. Crowder, was
in Virginia.

Lewis said that his Master whipped him only once and that was for
stealing. One day when the old master was taking a nap, Lewis "minding
off the flies" and thinking his "marster" asleep slipped over to the big
table and snatched some candy. Just as he picked up a lump, (it was
"rock candy,") "Wham! Old [HW: Marster] [mastah] had me, and when he got
through, well, Lewis, didn't steal anymore candy nor nothin'." "Mastah
nevah took no foolishness from his darkies."

Lewis remembers very clearly when Mr. Crowder gave his darkies their
freedom. "Mastah sont me and my mammy out to the cabin to tell all de
darkies to come up to de "big house". When they got there, there were so
many that [HW: they] [some] were up on the porch, on the steps and all
over the yard."

"Mr. Crowder stood up on the porch and said, "You darkies are all free
now. You don't belong to me no more. Now pack up your things and go on
off." My Lord! How them darkies did bawl! And most of them did not leave
ole mastah."

[RICHARD ORFORD, Age around 85]

The following version of slavery was told by Mr. Richard Orford of 54
Brown Avenue in South Atlanta. Mr. Orford is large in statue and
although 85 years of age he has a very active mind as well as a good
sense of humor.

Mr. Orford was born in Pike County, Georgia (near the present site of
Griffin) in 1842. His master's name was Jeff Orford. Mr. Orford
describes him as follows: "Marster wus a rich man an' he had 'bout 250
slaves--'course dat was'nt so many 'cause some of de folks 'round dere
had 400 and 500. He had plenty of land too--I don't know how many acres.
He raised everything he needed on de plantation an' never had to buy
nothing. I 'members when de Yankees come through--ol' marster had 'bout
200 barrels of whiskey hid in de smokehouse--dat wus de fust time I ever
got drunk."

"Besides hisself an' his wife ol' marster had two boys an' nine girls".

Continuing, Mr. Orford said: "My Ma did'nt have many chillun--jus' ten
boys an' nine girls. I went to work in marster's house when I wus five
years old an' I stayed dere 'till I wus thirty-five. De fust work I had
to do wus to pick up chips, feed chickens, an' keep de yard clean. By de
time I wus eight years old I wus drivin' my missus in de carriage."

"All de rest of de slaves wus fiel' hands. Dey spent dere time plowing
an' takin' care of de plantation in general. Dere wus some who split
rails an' others who took care of de stock an' made de harness--de
slaves did everything dat needed to be done on de plantation. Everybody
had to git up 'fore daybreak an' even 'fore it wus light enuff to see
dey wus in de fiel' waitin' to see how to run a furrow. 'Long 'bout nine
o'clock breakfus' wus sent to de fiel' in a wagon an' all of 'em stopped
to eat. At twelve o'clock dey stopped again to eat dinner. After dat dey
worked 'till it wus to dark to see. Women in dem days could pick
five-hundred pounds of cotton a day wid a child in a sack on dere

"When de weather wus too bad to work in de fiel' de hands cribed an'
shucked corn. If dey had any work of dere own to do dey had to do it at

According to Mr. Orford there was always sufficient food on the Orford
plantation for the slaves. All cooking was done by one cook at the cook
house. In front of the cook house were a number of long tables where the
slaves ate their meals when they came in from the fields. Those children
who were too young to work in the fields were also fed at this house but
instead of eating from the tables as did the grown-ups they were fed
from long troughs much the same as little pigs. Each was given a spoon
at meal time and then all of the food was dumped into the trough at the
same time.

The week day diet for the most part consisted of meats and
vegetables--"sometimes we even got chicken an' turkey"--says Mr. Orford.
Coffee was made by parching meal or corn and then boiling it in water.
None of the slaves ever had to steal anything to eat on the Orford

All of the clothing worn on this plantation was made there. Some of the
women who were too old to work in the fields did the spinning and the
weaving as well as the sewing of the garments. Indigo was used to dye
the cloth. The women wore callico dresses and the men wore ansenberg
pants and shirts. The children wore a one piece garment not unlike a
slightly lengthened dress. This was kept in place by a string tied
around their waists. There were at least ten shoemakers on the
plantation and they were always kept bust [TR: busy?] making shoes
although no slave ever got but one pair of shoes a year. These shoes
were made of very hard leather and were called brogans.

In the rear of the master's house was located the slave's quarters. Each
house was made of logs and was of the double type so that two families
could be accommodated. The holes and chinks in the walls were daubed
with mud to keep the weather out. At one end of the structure was a
large fireplace about six feet in width. The chimney was made of dirt.

As for furniture Mr. Orford says: "You could make your own furniture if
you wanted to but ol' marster would give you a rope bed an' two or three
chairs an' dat wus all. De mattress wus made out of a big bag or a
tickin' stuffed wid straw--dat wus all de furniture in any of de

"In dem days folks did'nt git sick much like dey do now, but when dey
did de fust thing did fer 'em wus to give 'em blue mass. If dey had a
cold den dey give 'em blue mass pills. When dey wus very sick de marster
sent fer de doctor."

"Our ol' marster wus'nt like some of de other marsters in de
community--he never did do much whuppin of his slaves. One time I hit a
white man an' ol' marster said he was goin' to cut my arm off an' dat
wus de las' I heard of it. Some of de other slaves useter git whuppins
fer not workin' an' fer fightin'. My mother got a whuppin once fer not
workin'. When dey got so bad ol' marster did'nt bother 'bout whuppin'
'em--he jes' put 'em on de block an' en' sold 'em like he would a
chicken or somethin'. Slaves also got whuppins when dey wus caught off
the plantation wid out a pass--de Paddie-Rollers whupped you den. I have
knowed slaves to run away an' hide in de woods--some of 'em even raised
families dere."

"None of us wus allowed to learn to read or to write but we could go to
church along wid de white folks. When de preacher talked to de slaves he
tol' 'em not to steal fum de marster an' de missus 'cause dey would be
stealing fum dere selves--he tol' 'em to ask fer what dey wanted an' it
would be givven to 'em."

When Sherman marched through Georgia a number of the slaves on the
Orford plantation joined his army. However, a large number remained on
the plantation even after freedom was declared. Mr. Orford was one of
those who remained. While the Yankee soldiers were in the vicinity of
the Orford plantation Mr. Orford, the owner of the plantation, hid in
the woods and had some of the slaves bring his food, etc. to him.

Mr. Orford was thirty-five years of age when he left the plantation and
at that time he married a twelve year old girl. Since that time he has
been the father of twenty-three children, some of whom are dead and some
of whom are still alive.


150 Strong Street
Athens, Georgia

Written by:
Sarah H. Hall
Federal Writers' Project
Athens, Georgia

Edited by:
John N. Booth
District Supervisor
Federal Writers' Project
Residencies 6 & 7
Augusta, Georgia

Anna Parkes' bright eyes sparkled as she watched the crowd that thronged
the hallway outside the office where she awaited admittance. A trip to
the downtown section is a rare event in the life of an 86 year old
Negress, and, accompanied by her daughter, she was making the most of
this opportunity to see the world that lay so far from the door of the
little cottage where she lives on Strong Street. When asked if she liked
to talk of her childhood days before the end of the Civil War, she
eagerly replied: "'Deed, I does." She was evidently delighted to have
found someone who actually wanted to listen to her, and proudly

"Dem days sho' wuz sompin' to talk 'bout. I don't never git tired of
talkin' 'bout 'em. Paw, he wuz Olmstead Lumpkin, and Ma wuz Liza
Lumpkin, and us b'longed to Jedge Joe Henry Lumpkin. Us lived at de
Lumpkin home place on Prince Avenue. I wuz born de same week as Miss
Callie Cobb, and whilst I don't know z'ackly what day I wuz born, I kin
be purty sho' 'bout how many years ole I is by axin' how ole Miss Callie
is. Fust I 'members much 'bout is totin' de key basket 'round 'hind Ole
Miss when she give out de vittals. I never done a Gawd's speck of work
but dat. I jes' follered 'long atter Ole Miss wid 'er key basket.

"Did dey pay us any money? Lawsy, Lady! What for? Us didn't need no
money. Ole Marster and Ole Miss all time give us plenty good sompin'
teat, and clo'es, and dey let us sleep in a good cabin, but us did have
money now and den. A heap of times us had nickles and dimes. Dey had
lots of comp'ny at Ole Marster's, and us allus act mighty spry waitin'
on 'em, so dey would 'member us when dey lef'. Effen it wuz money dey
gimme, I jes' couldn't wait to run to de sto' and spend it for candy."

"What else did you buy with the money?", she was asked.

"Nuffin' else," was the quick reply. "All a piece of money meant to me
dem days, wuz candy, and den mo' candy. I never did git much candy as I
wanted when I wuz chillun."

Here her story took a rambling turn.

"You see I didn't have to save up for nuffin'. Ole Marster and Ole Miss,
dey took keer of us. Dey sho' wuz good white folkses, but den dey had to
be good white folkses, kaze Ole Marster, he wuz Jedge Lumpkin, and de
Jedge wuz bound to make evvybody do right, and he gwine do right his own
self 'fore he try to make udder folkses behave deyselvs. Ain't nobody,
nowhar, as good to dey Negroes as my white folkses wuz."

"Who taught you to say 'Negroes' so distinctly?" she was asked.

"Ole Marster," she promptly answered, "He 'splained dat us wuz not to be
'shamed of our race. He said us warn't no 'niggers'; he said us wuz
'Negroes', and he 'spected his Negroes to be de best Negroes in de whole

"Old Marster had a big fine gyarden. His Negroes wukked it good, and us
wuz sho' proud of it. Us lived close in town, and all de Negroes on de
place wuz yard and house servants. Us didn't have no gyardens 'round our
cabins, kaze all of us et at de big house kitchen. Ole Miss had flowers
evvywhar 'round de big house, and she wuz all time givin' us some to
plant 'round de cabins.

"All de cookin' wuz done at de big house kitchen, and hit wuz a sho'
'nough big kitchen. Us had two boss cooks, and lots of helpers, and us
sho' had plenny of good sompin' teat. Dat's de Gawd's trufe, and I means
it. Heap of folkses been tryin' to git me to say us didn't have 'nough
teat and dat us never had nuffin' fittin' teat. But ole as I is, I cyan'
start tellin' no lies now. I gotter die fo' long, and I sho' wants to be
clean in de mouf and no stains or lies on my lips when I dies. Our
sompin' teat wuz a heap better'n what us got now. Us had plenny of
evvything right dar in de yard. Chickens, ducks, geese, guineas,
tukkeys, and de smoke'ouse full of good meat. Den de mens, dey wuz all
time goin' huntin', and fetchin' in wild tukkeys, an poddiges, and heaps
and lots of 'possums and rabbits. Us had many fishes as us wanted. De
big fine shads, and perch, and trouts; dem wuz de fishes de Jedge liked
mos'. Catfishes won't counted fittin' to set on de Jedges table, but us
Negroes wuz 'lowed to eat all of 'em us wanted. Catfishes mus' be mighty
skace now kaze I don't know when ever I is seed a good ole river catfish
a-flappin' his tail. Dey flaps dey tails atter you done kilt 'em, and
cleaned 'em, and drap 'em in de hot grease to fry. Sometimes dey nigh
knock de lid offen de fryin' pan.

"Ole Marster buyed Bill Finch down de country somewhar', and dey called
him 'William' at de big house. He wuz de tailor, and he made clo'es for
de young marsters. William wuz right smart, and one of his jobs wuz to
lock up all de vittals atter us done et much as us wanted. All of us had
plenny, but dey won't nuffin' wasted 'round Ole Marster's place.

"Ole Miss wuz young and pretty dem days, and Ole Marster won't no old
man den, but us had to call 'em 'Ole Miss,' and 'Ole Marster,' kaze dey
chilluns wuz called 'Young Marster' and 'Young Mistess' f'um de very day
dey wuz born."

When asked to describe the work assigned to little Negroes, she quickly
answered: "Chilluns didn't do nuffin'. Grownup Negroes done all de wuk.
All chilluns done wuz to frolic and play. I wuz jes' 'lowed ter tote de
key basket kaze I wuz all time hangin' 'round de big house, and wanted
so bad to stay close to my ma in de kitchen and to be nigh Ole Miss.

"What sort of clo'es did I wear in dem days? Why Lady, I had good
clo'es. Atter my little mistesses wore dey clo'es a little, Ole Miss
give 'em to me. Ma allus made me wear clean, fresh clo'es, and go
dressed up good all de time so I'd be fittin' to carry de key basket for
Ole Miss. Some of de udder slave chilluns had homemade shoes, but I
allus had good sto'-bought shoes what my young mistess done outgrowed,
or what some of de comp'ny gimme. Comp'ny what had chilluns 'bout my
size, gimme heaps of clo'es and shoes, and some times dey didn't look
like dey'd been wore none hardly.

"Ole Marster sho' had lots of Negroes 'round his place. Deir wuz Aunt
Charlotte, and Aunt Julie, and de two cooks, and Adeline, and Mary, and
Edie, and Jimmy. De mens wuz Charlie, and Floyd, and William, and
Daniel. I disremembers de res' of 'em.

"Ole Marster never whipped none of his Negroes, not dat I ever heared
of. He tole 'em what he wanted done, and give 'em plenny of time to do
it. Dey wuz allus skeert effen dey didn't be smart and do right, dey
might git sold to some marster dat would beat 'em, and be mean to 'em.
Us knowed dey won't many marsters as good to dey slaves as Ole Marster
wuz to us. Us would of most kilt ourself wukkin', fo' us would of give
him a reason to wanna git rid of us. No Ma'am, Ole Marster ain't never
sold no slave, not whilst I kin 'member. Us wuz allus skeert dat effen a
Negro git lazy and triflin' he might git sold.

"No Negro never runned away f'um our place. Us didn't have nuffin' to
run f'um, and nowhar to run to. Us heared of patterollers but us won't
'fraid none kaze us knowed won't no patteroller gwine tech none of Jedge
Lumpkin's Negroes.

"Us had our own Negro church. I b'lieves dey calls it Foundry Street
whar de ole church wuz. Us had meetin' evvy Sunday. Sometimes white
preachers, and sometimes Negro preachers done de preachin'. Us didn't
have no orgin or pianny in church den. De preacher hysted de hymns. No
Ma'am, I cyan' 'member no songs us sung den dat wuz no diffunt f'um de
songs now-a-days, 'ceppen' dey got orgin music wid de singin' now. Us
had c'lections evvy Sunday in church den, same as now. Ole Marster give
us a little change for c'lection on Sunday mawnin' kaze us didn't have
no money of our own, and he knowed how big it made us feel ter drap
money in de c'lection plate. Us Meferdis had our baptizin's right dar in
de church, same as us does now. And 'vival meetin's. Dey jes' broke out
any time. Out on de plantations dey jes' had 'vival meetin's in
layin'-by times, but here in town us had 'em all durin' de year. Ole
Marster used ter say: 'Mo' 'vivals, better Negroes.'

"Evvybody oughter be good and jine de church, but dey sho' oughtn't to
jine effen dey still gwine to act like Satan.

"Us chillun would git up long 'fore day Chris'mas mawnin'. Us used ter
hang our stockin's over de fire place, but when Chris'mas mawnin' come
dey wuz so full, hit would of busted 'em to hang 'em up on a nail, so
dey wuz allus layin' on Ma's cheer when us waked up. Us chillun won't
'lowed to go 'round de big house early on Chris'mas mawnin' kaze us
mought 'sturb our white folkses' rest, and den dey done already seed dat
us got plenny Santa Claus in our own cabins. Us didn't know nuffin'
'bout New Years Day when I wuz chillun.

"When any of his Negroes died Ole Marster wuz mighty extra good. He give
plenny of time for a fun'ral sermon in de afternoon. Most of da fun'rals
wuz in de yard under de trees by de cabins. Atter de sermon, us would go
'crost de hill to de Negro buyin' ground, not far f'um whar our white
folkses wuz buried.

"Us never bothered none 'bout Booker Washin'ton, or Mister Lincum, or
none of dem folkses 'way off dar kaze us had our raisin' f'um de
Lumpkins and dey's de bes' folkses dey is anywhar'. Won't no Mister
Lincum or no Booker Washin'ton gwine to help us like Ole Marster and us
knowed dat good and plenny.

"I cyan' 'member much 'bout playin' no special games 'ceppin' 'Ole
Hundud.' Us would choose one, and dat one would hide his face agin' a
tree whilst he counted to a hundud. Den he would hunt for all de others.
Dey done been hidin' whilst he wuz countin'. Us larned to count
a-playin' 'Ole Hundud'.

"No Ma'am, us never went to no school 'til atter de War. Den I went some
at night. I wukked in de day time atter freedom come. My eyes bothered
me so I didn't go to school much.

"Yes Ma'am, dey took mighty good care of us effen us got sick. Ole
Marster would call in Doctor Moore or Doctor Carleton and have us looked
atter. De 'omans had extra good care when dey chilluns comed. 'Til
freedom come, I wuz too little to know much 'bout dat myself, but Ma
allus said dat Negro 'omans and babies wuz looked atter better 'fore
freedom come dan dey ever wuz anymo'.

"Atter de War wuz over, a big passel of Yankee mens come to our big
house and stayed. Dey et and slept dar, and dey b'haved powerful nice
and perlite to all our white folkses, and dey ain't bother Jedge
Lumpkin's servants none. But den evvybody allus b'haved 'round Jedge
Lumpkin's place. Ain't nobody gwine to be brash 'nough to do no
devilment 'round a Jedges place.

"Hit was long atter de War 'fo' I married. I cyan' 'member nuffin' 'bout
my weddin' dress. 'Pears like to me I been married mos' all of my life.
Us jes' went to de preacher man's house and got married. Us had eight
chillun, but dey is all dead now 'ceppin' two; one son wukkin' way off
f'um here, and my daughter in Athens.

"I knows I wuz fixed a heap better fo' de War, than I is now, but I sho'
don't want no slav'ry to come back. It would be fine effen evvy Negro
had a marster like Jedge Lumpkin, but dey won't all dat sort."

Anna leaned heavily on her cane as she answered the knock on the front
door when we visited her home. "Come in," she invited, and led the way
through her scrupulously tidy house to the back porch.

"De sun feels good," she said, "and it sorter helps my rheumatiz. My
rheumatiz been awful bad lately. I loves to set here whar I kin see dat
my ole hen and little chickens don't git in no mischief." A small bucket
containing chicken food was conveniently at hand, so she could scatter
it on the ground to call her chickens away from depredations on the
flowers. A little mouse made frequent excursions into the bucket and
helped himself to the cracked grains in the chicken food. "Don't mind
him," she admonished, "he jes' plays 'round my cheer all day, and don't
bother nuffin'."

"You didn't tell anything about your brothers and sisters when you
talked to me before," her visitor remarked.

"Well, I jes' couldn't 'member all at onct, but atter I got back home
and rested up, I sot here and talked ter myself 'bout old times. My
brudder Charles wuz de coachman what drove Ole Marster's carriage, and
anudder brudder wuz Willie, and one wuz Floyd. My sisters wuz Jane and
Harriet. 'Pears like to me dey wuz more of 'em, but some how I jes'
cyan' 'member no more 'bout 'em. My husband wuz Grant Parkes and he tuk
care of de gyardens and yards for de Lumpkins.

"I had one chile named Caline, for Ole Miss. She died a baby. My
daughter Fannie done died long time ago, and my daughter Liza, she wuks
for a granddaughter of Ole Miss. I means, Liza wuks for Mister Eddie
Lumpkin's daughter. I done plum clear forgot who Mister Eddie's daughter

"I jes' cyan' recollec' whar my boy, Floyd, stays. You oughter know,
Lady, hits de town whar de President lives. Yes Ma'am, Washin'ton, dats
de place whar my Floyd is. I got one more son, but I done plum forgot
his name, and whar he wuz las' time I heared f'um him. I don't know if
he's livin' or dead. It sho' is bad to git so old you cyan' tell de
names of yo' chilluns straight off widout havin' to stop and study, and
den you cyan' allus 'member.

"I done been studyin' 'bout da war times, and I 'members dat Ole Marster
wuz mighty troubled 'bout his Negroes when he heared a big crowd of
Yankee sojers wuz comin' to Athens. Folkses done been sayin' de Yankees
would pick out de bes' Negroes and take 'em 'way wid 'em, and dere wuz a
heap of talk 'bout de scandlous way dem Yankee sojers been treatin'
Negro 'omans and gals. 'Fore dey got here, Ole Marster sent mos' of his
bes' Negroes to Augusta to git 'em out of danger f'um de Fed'rals.
Howsome-ever de Negroes dat he kept wid' 'im won't bothered none, kaze
dem Fed'rals 'spected de Jedge and didn't do no harm 'round his place.

"In Augusta, I stayed on Greene Street wid a white lady named Mrs.
Broome. No Ma'am, I nebber done no wuk. I jes' played and frolicked, and
had a good time wid Mrs. Broome's babies. She sho' wuz good to me. Ma,
she wukked for a Negro 'oman named Mrs. Kemp, and lived in de house wid

"Ole Marster sont for us atter de war wuz over, and us wuz mighty proud
to git back home. Times had done changed when us got back. Mos' of Ole
Marster's money wuz gone, and he couldn't take keer of so many Negroes,
so Ma moved over near de gun fact'ry and started takin' in washin'.

"De wust bother Negroes had dem days wuz findin' a place to live. Houses
had to be built for 'em, and dey won't no money to build 'em wid.

"One night, jes' atter I got in bed, some mens come walkin' right in
Ma's house widout knockin'. I jerked de kivver up over my head quick,
and tried to hide. One of de mens axed Ma who she wuz. Ma knowed his
voice, so she said: 'You knows me Mister Blank,' (she called him by his
sho' 'nuff name) 'I'm Liza Lumpkin, and you knows I used to b'long to
Jedge Lumpkin.' De udders jes' laughed at him and said: 'Boy, she knows
you, so you better not say nuffin' else.' Den anudder man axed Ma how
she wuz makin' a livin'. Ma knowed his voice too, and she called him by
name and tole him us wuz takin' in washin' and livin' all right. Dey
laughed at him too, and den anudder one axed her sompin' and she called
his name when she answered him too. Den de leader say, 'Boys, us better
git out of here. These here hoods and robes ain't doin' a bit of good
here. She knows ev'ry one of us and can tell our names.' Den dey went
out laughin' fit to kill, and dat wuz de onliest time de Ku Kluxers ever
wuz at our house, leastways us s'posed dey wuz Ku Kluxers.

"I don't 'member much 'bout no wuk atter freedom 'ceppin' de wash tub.
Maw larned me how to wash and iron. She said: 'Some day I'll be gone
f'um dis world, and you won't know nuffin' 'bout takin' keer of yo'self,
lessen you larn right now.' I wuz mighty proud when I could do up a
weeks washin' and take it back to my white folkses and git sho' 'nuff
money for my wuk. I felt like I wuz a grown 'oman den. It wuz in dis
same yard dat Ma larned me to wash. At fust Ma rented dis place. There
wuz another house here den. Us saved our washin' money and bought de
place, and dis is de last of three houses on dis spot. Evvy cent spent
on dis place wuz made by takin' in washin' and de most of it wuz made
washin' for Mister Eddie Lumpkin's family.

"Heaps of udder Negroes wuz smart like Ma, and dey got along all right.
Dese days de young folkses don't try so hard. Things comes lots easier
for 'em, and dey got lots better chances dan us had, but dey don't pay
no 'tention to nuffin' but spendin' all dey got, evvy day. Boys is
wuss'en gals. Long time ago I done give all I got to my daughter. She
takes keer of me. Effen de roof leaks, she has it looked atter. She wuks
and meks our livin'. I didn't want nobody to show up here atter I die
and take nuffin' away f'um her.

"I ain' never had no hard times. I allus been treated good and had a
good livin'. Course de rheumatiz done got me right bad, but I is still
able to git about and tend to de house while my gal is off at wuk. I
wanted to wash today, but I couldn't find no soap. My gal done hid de
soap, kaze she say I'se too old to do my own washin' and she wanter wash
my clo'es herse'f."

In parting, the old woman said rather apologetically, "I couldn't tell
you 'bout no sho' 'nuff hard times. Atter de War I wukked hard, but I
ain't never had no hard times".

[HW: Dist. 5
Ex-Slave #83]

[HW: age 78]

Submitted by
Minnie B. Ross

Typed by:
J.C. Russell
[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

[TR: In Informants List, G.W. Pattillio]

In the shelter provided by the Department of Public Welfare, lives an
old Negro, G.W. Pattillo, who was born in Spaulding County, Griffin,
Ga., in the year 1852. His parents, Harriett and Jake Pattillo, had
twelve children, of whom he was the second youngest. Their master was
Mr. T.J. Ingram. However, they kept the name of their old master, Mr.

Master Ingram, as he was affectionately called by his slaves, was
considered a "middle class man," who owned 100 acres of land, with one
family of slaves, and was more of a truck farmer than a plantation
owner. He raised enough cotton to supply the needs of his family and his
slaves and enough cattle to furnish food, but his main crops were corn,
wheat, potatoes and truck.

With a few slaves and a small farm, Master Ingram was very lenient and
kind to his slaves and usually worked with them in the fields. "We had
no special time to begin or end the work for the day. If he got tired he
would say, 'Alright, boys, let's stop and rest,' and sometimes we didn't
start working until late in the day."

Pattillo's mother was cook and general house servant, so well thought of
by the Ingram family that she managed the house as she saw fit and
planned the meals likewise. Young Pattillo was considered a pet by
everyone and hung around the mistress, since she did not have any
children of her own. His job was to hand her the scissors and thread her
needles. "I was her special pet," said Pattillo, "and my youngest
brother was the master's special pet." Mr. and Mrs. Ingram never
punished the children, nor allowed anyone but their parents to do so.
If the boy became unruly, Mrs. Ingram would call his mother and say,
"Harriett, I think G.W. needs to be taken down a button hole lower."

The master's house, called the "Big House," was a two-story frame
structure consisting of 10 rooms. Although not a mansion, it was fairly
comfortable. The home provided for Pattillo's family was a three-room
frame house furnished comfortably with good home-made furniture.

Pattillo declared that he had never seen anyone on the Ingram Plantation
punished by the owner, who never allowed the "paterrollers" to punish
them either.

Master Ingram placed signs at different points on his plantation which
read thus: "Paterrollers, Fishing and Hunting Prohibited on this
Plantation." It soon became known by all that the Ingram slaves were not
given passes by their owner to go any place, consequently they were
known as "Old Ingram's Free Niggers."

Master Ingram could not write, but would tell his slaves to inform
anyone who wished to know, that they belonged to J.D. Ingram. "Once,"
said Pattillo, "my brother Willis, who was known for his gambling and
drinking, left our plantation and no one knew where he had gone. As we
sat around a big open fire cracking walnuts, Willis came up, jumped
off his horse and fell to the ground. Directly behind him rode a
'paterroller.' The master jumped up and commanded him to turn around and
leave his premises. The 'Paterroller' ignored his warning and advanced
still further. The master then took his rifle and shot him. He fell to
the ground dead and Master Ingram said to his wife, 'Well, Lucy, I guess
the next time I speak to that scoundrel he will take heed.' The master
then saddled his horse and rode into town. Very soon a wagon came back
and moved the body."

The cotton raised was woven into cloth from which their clothing was
made. "We had plenty of good clothing and food," Pattillo continued.
"The smokehouse was never locked and we had free access to the whole
house. We never knew the meaning of a key."

Master Ingram was very strict about religion and attending Church. It
was customary for everyone to attend the 9 o'clock prayer services at
his home every night. The Bible was read by the mistress, after which
the master would conduct prayer. Children as well as grownups were
expected to attend. On Sundays, everybody attended church. Separate
Churches were provided for the Negroes, with White and Colored preachers
conducting the services. White Deacons were also the Deacons of the
Colored Churches and a colored man was never appointed deacon of a
Church. Only white ministers were priviliged to give the sacrament and
do the baptizing. Their sermons were of a strictly religious nature.
When a preacher was unable to read, someone was appointed to read the
text. The preacher would then build his sermon from it. Of course,
during the conference period, colored as well as white ministers were
privileged to make the appointments. The Negroes never took up
collections but placed their money in an envelope and passed it in. It
was their own money, earned with the master's consent, by selling
apples, eggs, chickens, etc.

Concerning marriages, Pattillo believes in marriages as they were in the
olden days. "Ef two people felt they wuz made for each other, they wuz
united within themselves when they done git the master's 'greement, then
live together as man and wife, an' that was all. Now, you got to buy a
license and pay the preacher."

Loss of life among slaves was a calamity and if a doctor earned a
reputation for losing his patients, he might as well seek a new
community. Often his downfall would begin by some such comment as, "Dr.
Brown lost old man Ingram's nigger John. He's no good and I don't intend
to use him." The value of slaves varied, from $500 to $10,000, depending
on his or her special qualifications. Tradesmen such as blacksmiths,
shoe makers, carpenters, etc., were seldom sold under $10,000. Rather
than sell a tradesman slave, owners kept them in order to make money by
hiring them out to other owners for a set sum per season. However,
before the deal was closed the lessee would have to sign a contract
which assured the slave's owner that the slave would receive the best of
treatment while in possession.

Pattillo remembers hearing his parents say the North and South had
disagreed and Abraham Lincoln was going to free the slaves. Although he
never saw a battle fought, there were days when he sat and watched the
long line of soldiers passing, miles and miles of them. Master Ingram
did not enlist but remained at home to take care of his family and his

After the war ended, Master Ingram called his slaves together and told
them of their freedom, saying, "Mr. Lincoln whipped the South and we are
going back to the Union. You are as free as I am and if you wish to
remain here you may. If not, you may go any place you wish. I am not
rich but we can work together here for both our families, sharing
everything we raise equally." Pattillo's family remained there until
1870. Some owners kept their slaves in ignorance of their freedom.
Others were kind enough to offer them homes and help them to get a

After emancipation, politics began to play a part in the lives of
ex-slaves, and many were approached by candidates who wanted to buy
their votes. Pattillo tells of an old ex-slave owner named Greeley
living in Upson County who bought an ex-slaves vote by giving him as
payment a ham, a sack of flour and a place to stay on his plantation.
After election, he ordered the ex-slave to get the wagon, load it with
his possessions and move away from his plantation. Astonished, the old
Negro asked why. "Because," replied old Greeley, "If you allow anyone to
buy your vote and rob you of your rights as a free citizen, someone
could hire you to set my house on fire."

Pattillo remebers slavery gratefully and says he almost wishes these
days were back again.


1345 Rockspring Street
Athens, Georgia

Written by:
Sadie B. Hornsby
Federal Writers' Project
Athens, Ga.

Edited by:
Sarah H. Hall

John N. Booth
District Supervisor
Federal Writers' Project
Augusta, Ga.

April 28, 1938
[Date Stamp: MAY 6 1938]

Alec lives with his daughter, Ann Whitworth. When asked if he liked to
talk about his childhood days, he answered: "Yes Ma'am, but is you one
of dem pension ladies?" The negative reply was an evident disappointment
to Alec, but it did not hinder his narrative:

"Well, I wuz born on de line of Clarke and Oglethorpe Counties, way down
de country. Celia and Willis Pope wuz my ma and pa. Lawdy! Mist'ess, I
don't know whar dey come f'um; 'peers lak pa's fust Marster wuz named
Pope. Dat's de onlies' last name I ever ricollec' us havin'.

"Dere wuz a passel of us chillun. My sisters wuz Sallie, Phebie Ann,
Nelia, and Millie. My brudders wuz Anderson, Osborn, George, Robert,
Squire, Jack, and Willis. Willis wuz named for pa and us nicknamed 'im

"De slave quarters wuz little log houses scattered here and dar. Some of
'em had two rooms on de fust flo' and a loft up 'bove whar de boys most
genially slep' and de gals slep' downstairs. I don't 'member nothin'
t'all 'bout what us done 'cept scrap lak chilluns will do.

"Oh! I ain't forgot 'bout dem beds. Dey used cords for springs, and de
cords run f'um head to foot; den dey wove 'em 'cross de bed 'til dey
looked lak checks. Wheat straw wuz sewed up in ticks for mattresses.
When you rolled 'round on one of dem straw mattresses, de straw crackled
and sounded lak rain. No Ma'am, I don't know nothin' t'all 'bout my
gran'pa and gran'ma.

"I wuz de reg'lar water boy, and I plowed some too. 'Course dere wuz so
many on dat plantation it tuk more'n one boy to tote de water. Money?
dis Nigger couldn't git no money in dem days.

"Us sho' had plenty somepin' t'eat, sich as meat, and cornbread, and
good old wheat bread what wuz made out of seconds. Dere wuz lots of
peas, corn, cabbage, Irish 'tatoes, sweet 'tatoes, and chickens,
sometimes. Yes Ma'am, sometimes. I laks coffee, but us Niggers didn't
have much coffee. Dat wuz for de white folkses at de big house. Cookin'
wuz done in de fireplace in great big spiders. Some of de biggest of de
spiders wuz called ovens. Dey put coals of fire underneath and more
coals on top of de lid. Ma baked bread and 'taters in de ashes. In
winter she put de dough in a collard leaf so it wouldn't burn. In summer
green corn shucks wuz wrapped 'round de dough 'stid of collard leaves.
All de fish and 'possums and rabbits us had wuz cotch right dar on Old
Marster's place, 'cause if one of our Niggers got cotch offen our place
hit wuz jes' too bad. I sho' does love 'possum, and us had lots of 'em,
'cause my brudder used to ketch 'em by de wholesale wid a dog he had,
and dat same dog wuz a powerful good rabbit hound too.

"Us had pretty good clothes most all de year 'round. In summer, shirts,
and pants wuz made out of coarse cotton cloth. Sometimes de pants wuz
dyed gray. Winter time us had better clothes made out of yarn and us
allus had good Sunday clothes. 'Course I wuz jes' a plow boy den and
now I done forgot lots 'bout how things looked. Our shoes wuz jes'
common brogans, no diff'unt on Sunday, 'ceppin' de Nigger boys what wuz
shinin' up to de gals cleaned up deir shoes dat day.

"Our Marster wuz Mr. Mordecai Ed'ards. Well, he wuz pretty good--not too
good. He tried to make you do right, but if you didn't he would give you
a good brushin'. Miss Martha, Old Marster's old 'oman, warn't good as
Old Marster, but she done all right. Dey had a heap of chillun: Miss
Susan, Miss Mary, Miss Callie, Miss Alice, and it 'peers to me lak dere
wuz two mo' gals, but I can't 'call 'em now. Den dere wuz some boys:
Marse Billy, Marse Jim, Marse John, Marse Frank, and Marse Howard. Marse
Frank Ed'ards lives on Milledge Avenue now.

"Old Marster and Old Mist'ess lived in a great big fine house what
looked to me lak one of dese big hotels does now. Marse Jack Ed'ards wuz
de fust overseer I can ricollec'. He wuz kin to Old Marster. Marster had
two or three mo' overseers at diff'unt times, but I don't ricollec' dey
names. Dere wuz two car'iage drivers. Henry driv de gals 'round and
Albert wuz Old Mist'ess' driver. Old Marster had his own hoss and buggy,
and most of de time he driv for hisself, but he allus tuk a little
Nigger boy namad Jordan 'long to help him drive and to hold de hoss.

"Lawdy! Mist'ess, I couldn't rightly say how many acres wuz in dat
plantation. I knowed he had two plantations wid fine houses on 'em. He
jes' had droves and droves of Niggers and when dey got scattered out
over de fields, dey looked lak blackbirds dere wuz so many. You see I
wuz jes' a plow boy and didn't know nothin' 'bout figgers and countin'.

"De overseer got us up 'bout four o'clock in de mornin' to feed de
stock. Den us et. Us allus stopped off by dark. Mist'ess dere's a old
sayin' dat you had to brush a Nigger in dem days to make 'em do right.
Dey brushed us if us lagged in de field or cut up de cotton. Dey could
allus find some fault wid us. Marster brushed us some time, but de
overseer most gen'ally done it. I 'members dey used to make de 'omans
pull up deir skirts and brushed 'em wid a horse whup or a hickory; dey
done de mens de same way 'cept dey had to take off deir shirts and pull
deir pants down. Niggers sho' would holler when dey got brushed.

"Jails! Yes Ma'am, dey had 'em way down in Lexin'ton. You know some
Niggers gwine steal anyhow, and dey put 'em in dere for dat mostly. I
didn't never see nobody sold or in chains. De only chains I ever seed
wuz on hosses and plows.

"Mist'ess, Niggers didn't have no time to larn to read in no Bible or
nothin' lak dat in slav'ry time. Us went to church wid de white folkses
if us wanted to, but us warn't 'bleeged to go. De white folkses went to
church at Cherokee Corner. Dere warn't no special church for Niggers
'til long atter de War when dey built one out nigh de big road.

"Some of de Niggers run away to de Nawth--some dey got back, some dey
didn't. Dem patterollers had lots of fun if dey cotch a Nigger, so dey
could brush 'im to hear 'im holler. De onlies' trouble I ever heard
'bout twixt de whites and blacks wuz when a Nigger sassed a white man
and de white man shot 'im. H'it served dat Nigger right, 'cause he
oughta knowed better dan to sass a white man. De trouble ended wid dat

"De most Niggers ever done for a good time wuz to have little parties
wid heaps of fidlin' and dancin'. On Sunday nights dey would have prayer
meetin's. Dem patterollers would come and break our prayer meetin's up
and brush us if dey cotch us.

"Chris'mas wuz somepin' else. Us had awful good times den, 'cause de
white folkses at de big house give us plenty of goodies for Chris'mas
week and us had fidlin' and dancin'. Us would ring up de gals and run
all 'round 'em playin' dem ring-'round-de-rosie games. Us had more good
times at corn shuckin's, and Old Marster allus had a little toddy to
give us den to make us wuk faster.

"Oh! No Ma'am, I don't 'member nothin' 'bout what us played when I wuz a
little chap, and if I ever knowed anything 'bout Rawhead and Bloody
Bones and sich lak I done plumb forgot it now. But I do know Old Marster
and Old Mist'ess sho' wuz powerful good when dey Niggers got sick. Dey
put a messenger boy on a mule and sont 'im for Dr. Hudson quick, 'cause
to lose a Nigger wuz losin' a good piece of property. Some Niggers wore
some sort of beads 'round deir necks to keep sickness away and dat's all
I calls to mind 'bout dat charm business.

"I wuz jes' a plow boy so I didn't take in 'bout de surrender. De only
thing I ricollects 'bout it wuz when Old Marster told my pa and ma us
wuz free and didn't belong to him no more. He said he couldn't brush de
grown folks no more, but if dey wanted to stay wid 'im dey could, and
dat he would brush dey chilluns if dey didn't do right. Ma told 'im he
warn't gwine brush none of her chilluns no more.

"Us lived wid Old Marster 'bout a year, den pa moved up on de big road.
Buy land? No Ma'am, Niggers didn't have no money to buy no land wid 'til
dey made it. I didn't take in 'bout Mr. Lincoln, only dat thoo' him us
wuz sot free. I heard 'em say Mr. Davis wuz de President of de South,
and 'bout Booker Washin'ton some of de Niggers tuk him in, but I didn't
bodder 'bout him.

"Lawdy! Mist'ess, I didn't marry de fust time 'til long atter de War,
and now I done been married three times. I had a awful big weddin' de
fust time. De white man what lived on de big road not far f'um us said
he never seed sich a weddin' in his life. Us drunk and et, and danced
and cut de buck most all night long. Most all my chilluns is dead. I
b'lieve my fust wife had 10 or 11 chilluns. I know I had a passel fust
and last; and jes' to tell you de trufe, dere jes' ain't no need to stop
and try to count de grand chilluns. All three of my wives done daid and
I'm lookin' for anudder one to take keer of me now.

"Why did I jine de church? 'Cause I jes' think evvybody oughta jine if
dey wanna do right so'se dey can go to Heben. I feels lak a diff'unt man
since I done jined and I knows de Lord has done forgive me for all my

"Mist'ess ain't you thoo' axin' me questions yit? Anyhow I wuz thinkin'
you wuz one of dem pension ladies." When he was told that the interview
was completed, Alec said: "I sho' is glad, 'cause I feels lak takin' a
little nap atter I eat dese pecans what I got in my pocket. Goodbye

[HW: Dist. 5
Ex-Slave #84]

Whitley, Driskell

[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

Mrs. Annie Price was born in Spaulding County, Georgia October 12, 1855.
Although only a mere child when freedom was declared she is able to
relate quite a few events in her own life as well as some of the
experiences of other slaves who lived in the same vicinity as she.

Her mother and father Abe and Caroline were owned by a young married
couple named Kennon. (When this couple were married Abe and Caroline had
been given as wedding presents by the bride's and the groom's parents).
Besides her parents there four brothers and five sisters all of whom
were younger than she with one exception. The first thing that she
remembers of her mother is that of seeing her working in the "Marster's"

Mr. Kennon was described as being a rather young man who was just
getting a start in life. His family consisted of his wife and about
five children. He was not a mean individual. The plantation on which he
lived was a small one, having been given to him by his father (whose
plantation adjoined) in order to give him a start. Mr. Kennon owned one
other slave besides Mrs. Price and her family while his father owned a
large number some of whom he used to lend to the younger Mr. Kennon.
Cotton and all kinds of vegetables were raised. There was also some live

As Mr. Kennon owned only a few slaves it was necessary for these few
persons to do all of the work. Says Mrs. Price: "My mother had to do
everything from cultivating cotton to cooking." The same was true of her
father and the other servant. Before the break of day each morning they
were all called to prepare for the day's work. Mrs. Price then told how
she has seen the men of her plantation and those of the adjoining one
going to the fields at this unearthly hour eating their breakfast while
sitting astride the back of a mule. After her mother had finished
cooking and cleaning the house she was sent to the field to help the
men. When it was too dark to see all field hands were permitted to
return to their cabins. This same routine was followed each day except
Sundays when they were permitted to do much as they pleased. When the
weather was too bad for field work they shelled corn and did other types
of work not requiring too much exposure. Holidays were unheard of on the
Kennon plantation. As a little slave girl the only work that Mrs. Price
ever had to do was to pick up chips and bark for her mother to cook
with. The rest of the time was spent in playing with the "Marster's"
little girls.

"The servants on our plantation always had a plenty of clothes,"
continued Mrs. Price, "while those on the plantation next to ours (Mrs.
Kennon's father) never had enough, especially in the winter." This
clothing was given when it was needed and not at any specified time as
was the case on some of the other plantations in that community. All of
these articles were made on the plantation and the materials that were
mostly used were homespun (which was also woven on the premises) woolen
goods, cotton goods and calico. It has been mentioned before that the
retinue of servants was small in number and so for this reason all of
them had a reasonable amount of those clothes that had been discarded by
the master and the mistress. After the leather had been cured it was
taken to the Tannery where crude shoes called "Twenty Grands" were made.
These shoes often caused the wearer no little amount of discomfort until
they were thoroughly broken in.

For bedding, homespun sheets were used. The quilts and blankets were
made from pieced cotton material along with garments that were unfit for
further wear. Whenever it was necessary to dye any of these articles a
type of dye made by boiling the bark from trees was used.

In the same manner that clothing was plentiful so was there always
enough food. When Mrs. Price was asked if the slaves owned by Mr. Kennon
were permitted to cultivate a garden of their own she stated that they
did'nt need to do this because of the fact that Mr. Kennon raised
everything that was necessary and they often had more than enough. Their
week-day diet usually consisted of fried meat, grits, syrup and corn
bread for breakfast; vegetables, pot liquor or milk, and corn bread for
dinner; and for supper there was milk and bread or fried meat and bread.
On Sunday they were given a kind of flour commonly known as the
"seconds" from which biscuits were made. "Sometimes", continued Mrs.
Price, "my mother brought us the left-overs from the master's table and
this was usually a meal by itself". In addition to this Mr. Kennon
allowed hunting as well as fishing and so on many days there were fish
and roast 'possum. Food on the elder Mr. Kennon plantation was just as
scarce as it was plentiful on his son's. When asked how she knew about
this Mrs. Price told how she had seen her father take meat from his
master's smoke house and hide it so that he could give it to those
slaves who invaribly slipped over at night in search of food. The elder
Mr. Kennon had enough food but he was too mean to see his slaves enjoy
themselves by having full stomachs.

All cooking on Mrs. Price's plantation was done by her mother.

All of the houses on the Kennon plantation were made of logs including
that of Mr. Kennon himself. There were only two visible differences in
the dwelling places of the slaves and that of Mr. Kennon and there were
(1) several rooms instead of the one room allowed the slaves and (2)
weatherboard was used on the inside to keep the weather out while the
slaves used mud to serve for this purpose. In these crude one-roomed
houses (called stalls) there was a bed made of some rough wood. Rope
tied from side to side served as the springs for the mattress which was
a bag filled with straw and leaves. There were also one or two boxes
which were used as chairs. The chimney was made of rocks and mud. All
cooking was done here at the fireplace. Mrs. Price says; "Even Old
Marster did'nt have a stove to cook on so you know we did'nt." The only
available light was that furnished by the fire. Only one family was
allowed to a cabin so as to prevent overcrowding. In addition to a good
shingle roof each one of these dwellings had a board floor. All floors
were of dirt on the plantation belonging to the elder Mr. Kennon.

A doctor was employed to attend to those persons who were sick. However
he never got chance to practice on the Kennon premises as there was
never any serious illness. Minor cases of sickness were usually treated
by giving the patient a dose of castor oil or several doses of some form
of home made medicine which the slaves made themselves from roots that
they gathered in the woods. In order to help keep his slaves in good
health Mr. Kennon required them to keep the cabins they occupied and
their surroundings clean at all times.

Mrs. Price said that the slaves had very few amusements and as far as
she can remember she never saw her parents indulge in any form of play
at all. She remembers, however, that on the adjoining plantation the
slaves often had frolics where they sang and danced far into the night.
These frolics were not held very often but were usually few and far

As there was no church on the plantation Mr. Kennon gave them a pass on
Sundays so that they could attend one of the churches that the town
afforded. The sermons they heard were preached by a white preacher and
on rare occasions by a colored preacher. Whenever the colored pastor
preached there were several white persons present to see that [HW: no]
doctrine save that laid down by them should be preached. All of the
marrying on both plantations [TR: duplicate section removed here] was
done by a preacher.

It has been said that a little learning is a dangerous thing and this
certainly was true as far as the slaves were concerned, according to
Mrs. Price. She says: "If any of us were ever caught with a book we
would get a good whipping." Because of their great fear of such a
whipping none of them ever attempted to learn to read or to write.

As a general rule Mrs. Price and the other nembers of her family were
always treated kindly by the Kennon family. None of them were ever
whipped or mistreated in any way. Mrs. Price says that she has seen
slaves on the adjoining plantation whipped until the blood ran. She
describes the sight in the following manner. "The one to be whipped was
tied across a log or to a tree and then his shirt was dropped around his
waist and he was lashed with a cow hide whip until his back was raw."
Whippings like these were given when a slave was unruly or disobedient
or when he ran away. Before a runaway slave could be whipped he had to
be caught and the chief way of doing this was to put the blood hounds
(known to the slaves as "nigger hounds") on the fugitive's trail. Mrs.
Price once saw a man being taken to his master after he had been caught
by the dogs. She says that his skin was cut and torn in any number of
places and he looked like one big mass of blood. Her father once ran
away to escape a whipping.(this was during the Civil War), and he was
able to elude the dogs as well as his human pursuers. When asked about
the final outcome of this escape Mrs. Price replied that her father
remained in hiding until the war was over with and then he was able to
show himself without any fear.

She has also seen slaves being whipped by a group of white men when her
parents said were the "Paddie-Rollers". It was their duty to whip those
slaves who were caught away from their respective plantations without a
"pass", she was told.

According to Mrs. Price the jails were built for the "white folks". When
a slave did something wrong his master punished him.

She does'nt remember anything about the beginning of the Civil War
neither did she understand its significance until Mr. Kennon died as a
result of the wounds that he received while in action. This impressed
itself on her mind indelibly because Mr. Kennon was the first dead
person she had ever seen. The Yankee troops did'nt come near their
plantation and so they had a plenty of food to satisfy their needs all
during the war. Even after the war was over there was still a plenty of
all the necessities of life.

When Mrs. Kennon informed them that they were free to go or to stay as
they pleased, her father, who had just come out of hiding, told Mrs.
Kennon that he did not want to remain on the plantation any longer than
it was necessary to get his family together. He said that he wanted to
get out to himself so that he could see how it felt to be free. Mrs.
Price says that as young as she was she felt very happy because the
yoke of bondage was gone and she knew that she could have a privelege
like everybody else. And so she and her family moved away and her
father began farming for himself. His was prosperous until his death.
After she left the plantation of her birth she lived with her father
until she became a grown woman and then she married a Mr. Price who was
also a farmer.

Mrs. Price believes that she has lived to reach such a ripe old age
because she has always served God and because she always tried to obey
those older than she.

[HW: Dist. 6
Ex-Slave #87]

[Date Stamp: MAY -- --]

The writer was much surprised to learn that the person whom she was
about to interview was nine years old when the Civil War ended. His
youthful appearance at first made her realize that probably he was not
an ex-slave after all. Very soon she learned differently. Another
surprise followed the first in that his memory of events during that
period was very hazy. The few facts learned are related as follows:

Mr. Charlie Pye was born in Columbus, Ga., 1856 and was the ninth child
of his parents, Tom Pye and Emmaline Highland. Tom Pye, the father,
belonged to Volantine Pye, owner of a plantation in Columbus, Ga. known
as the Lynch and Pye Plantation.

Mr. Pye's mistress was Miss Mary Ealey, who later married a Mr. Watts.
Miss Ealey owned a large number of slaves, although she did not own a
very large plantation. Quite a few of her slaves were hired out to other
owners. The workers on the plantation were divided into two or more
groups, each group having a different job to do. For instance, there
were the plow hands, hoe hands, log cutters, etc. Mr. Pye's mother was a
plow hand and besides this, she often had to cut logs. Mr. Pye was too
young to work and spent most of his time playing around the yards.

Houses on the Ealey plantation were built of pine poles after which the
cracks were filled with red mud. Most of these houses consisted of one
room; however, a few were built with two rooms to accommodate the larger
families. The beds, called "bunks" by Mr. Pye were nailed to the sides
of the room. Roped bottoms covered with a mattress of burlap and hay
served to complete this structure called a bed. Benches and a home made
table completed the furnishings. There were very few if any real chairs
found in the slave homes. The houses and furniture were built by skilled
Negro carpenters who were hired by the mistress from other slave owners.
A kind slave owner would allow a skilled person to hire his own time and
keep most of the pay which he earned.

Plenty of food was raised on the Ealey plantation, but the slave
families were restricted to the same diet of corn meal, syrup, and fat
bacon. Children were fed "pot likker", milk and bread from poplar
troughs, from which they ate with wooden spoons. Grown-ups ate with
wooden forks. Slaves were not allowed to raise gardens of their own,
although Mr. Pye's uncle was given the privilege of owning a rice patch,
which he worked at night.

In every slave home was found a wooden loom which was operated by hands
and feet, and from which the cloth for their clothing was made. When the
work in the fields was finished women were required to come home and
spin one cut (thread) at night. Those who were not successful in
completing this work were punished the next morning. Men wore cotton
shirts and pants which were dyed different colors with red oak bark,
alum and copper. Copper produced an "Indigo blue color." "I have often
watched dye in the process of being made," remarked Mr. Pye. Mr. Pye's
father was a shoemaker and made all shoes needed on the plantation. The
hair was removed from the hides by a process known as tanning. Red oak
bark was often used for it produced an acid which proved very effective
in tanning hides. Slaves were given shoes every three months.

To see that everyone continued working an overseer rode over the
plantation keeping check on the workers. If any person was caught
resting he was given a sound whipping. Mr. Pye related the following
incident which happened on the Ealey plantation. "A young colored girl
stopped to rest for a few minutes and my uncle stopped also and spoke to
her. During this conversation the overseer came up and began whipping
the girl with a "sapling tree." My uncle became very angry and picked up
an axe and hit the overseer in the head, killing him. The mistress was
very fond of my uncle and kept him hid until she could "run him."
Running a slave was the method they used in sending a slave to another
state in order that he could escape punishment and be sold again. You
were only given this privilege if it so happened that you were cared for
by your mistress and master."

Overseers on the Ealey plantation were very cruel and whipped slaves
unmercifully. Another incident related by Mr. Pye was as follows:

"My mother resented being whipped and would run away to the woods and
often remained as long as twelve months at a time. When the strain of
staying away from her family became too great, she would return home. No
sooner would she arrive than the old overseer would tie her to a peach
tree and whip her again. The whipping was done by a "Nigger Driver," who
followed the overseer around with a bull whip; especially for this
purpose. The largest man on the plantation was chosen to be the "Nigger

"Every slave had to attend church, although there were no separate
churches provided for them. However, they were allowed to occupy the
benches which were placed in the rear of the church. To attend church on
another plantation, slaves had to get a pass or suffer punishment from
the "Pader Rollers." (Patrollers)

"We didn't marry on our plantation", remarked Mr. Pye. After getting the
consent of both masters the couple jumped the broom, and that ended the
so called ceremony. Following the marriage there was no frolic or

"Sometimes quilting parties were held in the various cabins on the
plantation. Everyone would assist in making the winter bed covering for
one family one night and the next night for some other family, and so on
until everyone had sufficient bed covering.

"A doctor was only called when a person had almost reached the last
stages of illness. Illness was often an excuse to remain away from the
field. "Blue mass pills", castor oil, etc. were kept for minor aches and
pains. When a slave died he was buried as quickly as a box could be
nailed together.

"I often heard of people refugeeing during the Civil War period,"
remarked Mr. Pye. "In fact, our mistress refugeed to Alabama trying to
avoid meeting the Yanks, but they came in another direction. On one
occasion the Yanks came to our plantation, took all the best mules and
horses, after which they came to my mother's cabin and made her cook
eggs for them. They kept so much noise singing, "I wish I was in Dixie"
that I could not sleep. After freedom we were kept in ignorance for
quite a while but when we learned the truth my mother was glad to move
away with us."

"Immediately after the war ex-slave families worked for one-third and
one-fourth of the crops raised on different plantations. Years later
families were given one-half of the crops raised."

Mr. Pye ended the interview by telling the writer that he married at
the age of 35 years and was the father of two children, one of whom is
living. He is a Baptist, belonging to Mount Zion Church, and has
attended church regularly and believes that by leading a clean, useful
life he has lengthened his days on this earth. During his lifetime Mr.
Pye followed railroad work. Recently, however, he has had to give this
up because of his health.

[HW: Dist. 1
Ex-Slave #91]

DATE: JANUARY 18, 1937
[Date Stamp: JAN 26 1937]
[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

Aunt Charlotte Raines, well up in the seventies at the time of her death
some years ago, was an excellent example of the type of negro developed
by the economic system of the old South.

When I could first remember, Charlotte was supreme ruler of the kitchen
of my home. Thin to emaciation and stooped almost to the point of having
a hump on her back she was yet wiry and active. Her gnarled old hands
could turn out prodigous amounts of work when she chose to extend

Her voice was low and musical and she seldom raised it above the
ordinary tone of conversation; yet when she spoke other colored people
hastened to obey her and even the whites took careful note of what she
said. Her head was always bound in a snow-white turban. She wore calico
or gingham print dresses and white aprons and these garments always
appeared to be freshly laundered.

Charlotte seldom spoke unless spoken to and she would never tell very
much about her early life. She had been trained as personal maid to one
of her ex-master's daughters. This family, (that of Swepson H. Cox) was
one of the most cultured and refined that Lexington, in Oglethorpe
County, could boast.

Aunt Charlotte never spoke of her life under the old regime but she had
supreme contempt for "no count niggers that didn't hav' no white Folks".
She was thrifty and frugal. Having a large family, most of her small
earnings was spent on them. However, she early taught her children to
scratch for themselves. Two of her daughters died after they had each
brought several children into the world. Charlotte thought they were
being neglected by their fathers and proceeded to take them "to raise
myse'f". These grand children were the apple of her eye and she did much
more for them than she had done for her own children.

The old woman had many queer ways. Typical of her eccentricities was her
iron clad refusal to touch one bite of food in our house. If she wished
a dish she was preparing tasted to see that it contained the proper
amount of each ingredient she would call some member of the family,
usually my grandmother, and ask that he or she sample the food.
Paradoxically, she had no compunctions about the amount of food she
carried home for herself and her family.

Strange as it may seem, Charlotte was an incorrigible rogue. My mother
and my grandmother both say that they have seen her pull up her skirts
and drop things into a flour sack which she always wore tied round her
waist just for this purpose. I myself have seen this sack so full that
it would bump against her knee. She did not confine her thefts to food
only. She would also take personal belongings. Another servant in the
household once found one of Aunt Charlotte's granddaughters using a
compact that she had stolen from her young mistress. The servant took
the trinket away from the girl and returned it to the owner but nothing
was ever said to Aunt Charlotte although every one knew she had stolen

One year when the cherry crop was exceptionally heavy, grandmother had
Charlotte make up a huge batch of cherry preserves in an iron pot. While
Charlotte was out of the kitchen for a moment she went in to have a look
at the preserves and found that about half of them had been taken out. A
careful but hurried search located the missing portion hidden in another
container behind the stove. Grandmother never said a word but simply put
the amount that had been taken out back in the pot.

Charlotte never permitted anyone to take liberties with her except Uncle
Daniel, the "man of all work" and another ex-slave. Daniel would josh
her about some "beau" or about her over-fondness for her grandchildren.
She would take just so much of this and then with a quiet "g'long with
you", she would send him on about his business. Once when he pressed her
a bit too far she hurled a butcher knife at him.

Charlotte was not a superstitious soul. She did not even believe that
the near-by screech of an owl was an omen of death. However, she did
have some fearful and wonderful folk remedies.

When you got a bee sting Charlotte made Daniel spit tobacco juice on it.
She always gave a piece of fat meat to babies because this would make
them healthy all their lives. Her favorite remedy was to put a pan of
cold water under the bed to stop "night sweats."

In her last years failing eye-sight and general ill health forced her to
give up her active life. Almost a complete shut-in, she had a window cut
on the north side of her room so she could "set and see whut went on up
at Mis' Molly's" (her name for my grandmother).

She was the perfect hostess and whenever any member of our family went
to see how she did during those latter days she always served locust
beer and cookies. Once when I took her a bunch of violets she gave me an
old coin that she had carried on her person for years. Mother didn't
want me to take it because Charlotte's husband had given it to her and
she set great store by it. However, the old woman insisted that I be
allowed to keep the token arguing it would not be of use to her much
longer anyway.

She died about a month later and in accordance with her instructions her
funeral was conducted like "white folk's buryin'", that is without the
night being filled with wailing and minus the usual harangue at the
church. Even in death Charlotte still thought silence golden.

[HW: Dist. 1
Ex-Slave #90]

         Jefferson, Georgia
DATE: MARCH 29, 1937
[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

Perhaps the oldest ex-slave living today is found in Jefferson, Georgia.
Fanny Randolph is a little old wrinkled-faced woman, but at the time of
our visit she was very neat in a calico dress and a white apron with a
bandanna handkerchief around her head.

We saw her at the home of a niece with whom she lives, all of her own
family being dead. Her room was tidy, and she had a bright log fire
burning in the wide old fire place. She readily consented to talk about
slavery times.

"Honey, I doan know how ole I is, but I'se been here er long time and
I'se been told by folks whut knows, dat I'se, maybe, mo' dan er hunderd
years ole. I 'members back er long time befo' de war. My mammy and daddy
wuz bofe slaves. My daddy's name wuz Daniel White an' my mammy's name
befo' she married wuz Sarah Moon, she b'longed ter Marse Bob Moon who
lived in Jackson County over near whar Winder is now. He wuz er big
landowner an' had lots uv slaves."

"When I wuz 'bout nine years ole, Marse Bob tuk me up ter de "big house"
ter wait on ole Mistis. I didn't hav' much ter do, jes' had ter he'p 'er
dress an' tie 'er shoes an' run eroun' doin' errands fur 'er. Yer know,
in dem times, de white ladies had niggers ter wait on 'em an' de big
niggers done all de hard wuk 'bout de house an' yard."

"Atter some years my mammy an' daddy bofe died, so I jes' stayed at de
"big house" an' wukked on fer Marse Bob an' ole Mistis."

"Atter I growed up, us niggers on Marse Bob's plantation had big times
at our corn shuckin's an' dances. Us 'ud all git tergether at one uv de
cabins an us 'ud have er big log fire an' er room ter dance in. Den when
us had all shucked corn er good while ever nigger would git his gal an'
dey would be some niggers over in de corner ter play fer de dance, one
wid er fiddle an' one ter beat straws, an' one wid er banjo, an' one ter
beat bones, an' when de music 'ud start up (dey gener'ly played 'Billy
in de Low Grounds' or 'Turkey in de Straw') us 'ud git on de flo'. Den
de nigger whut called de set would say: 'All join hands an' circle to de
lef, back to de right, swing corners, swing partners, all run away!' An'
de way dem niggers feets would fly!"

"Bye an' bye de war come on, an' all de men folks had ter go an' fight
de Yankees, so us wimmen folks an' chillun had er hard time den caze us
all had ter look atter de stock an' wuk in de fiel's. Den us 'ud hear
all 'bout how de Yankees wuz goin' aroun' an' skeerin' de wimmen folks
mos' ter death goin' in dey houses an' making de folks cook 'em stuff
ter eat, den tearin' up an' messin' up dey houses an' den marchin' on

"Den when ole Mistis 'ud hear de Yankees wuz comin' she'd call us
niggers en us 'ud take all de china, silver, and de joolry whut b'longed
ter ole Miss an' her family an' dig deep holes out b'hind de smoke-house
or under de big house, en bury h'it all 'tell de Yankees 'ud git by."

"Dem wuz dark days, but atter er long time de war wuz over an' dey tole
us us wuz free, I didn't want ter leave my white folks so I stayed on
fer sometime, but atter while de nigger come erlong whut I married. His
name wuz Tom Randolph an' befo' de war he b'longed ter Marse Joshua
Randolph, who lived at Jefferson, so den us moved ter Jefferson. Us had
thirteen chillun, but dey's all daid now an' my ole man is daid too, so
I'se here all by my se'f an' ef h'it warn't fer my two nieces here, who
lets me liv' wid 'em I doan know whut I'd do."

"I'se allus tried ter do de right thin' an' de good Lawd is takin' keer
uv me fer his prophet say in de Good Book, 'I'se been young and now am
ole, yet I'se nebber seed de righteous fersaken ner his seed beggin'
bread!' So I ain't worryin' 'bout sumpin' ter eat, but I doan want ter
stay here much longer onless h'its de good Lawds will."

Asked if she was superstitious, she said: "Well when I wuz young, I
reckin' I wuz, but now my pore ole mine is jes so tired and h'it doan
wuk lak h'it uster, so I never does think much 'bout superstition, but I
doan lak ter heer er "squinch owl" holler in de night, fer h'it sho is a
sign some uv yore folks is goin' ter die, en doan brin' er ax froo de
house onless yer take h'it back de same way yer brung h'it in, fer dat
'ill kill de bad luck."

When asked if she believed in ghosts or could "see sights" she said:
"Well, Miss, yer know if yer is borned wid er veil over yer face yer can
see sights but I has never seed any ghosts er sight's, I warn't born dat
way, but my niece, here has seed ghostes, en she can tell yer 'bout

When we were ready to leave we said, "Well, Aunt Fanny, we hope you live
for many more years." She replied: "I'se willin' ter go on livin' ez
long ez de Marster wants me ter, still I'se ready when de summons comes.
De good Lawd has allus giv' me grace ter liv' by, an' I know He'll giv'
me dyin' grace when my time comes."

[HW: Dist. 6
Ex-slave #94]

Alberta Minor
Re-search Worker

East Solomon Street
Griffin, Georgia

September 14, 1936
[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

Shade Richards was born January 13, 1846 on the Jimpson Neals plantation
below Zebulon in Pike County. His father, Alfred Richards had been
brought from Africa and was owned by Mr. Williams on an adjoining
plantation. His mother, Easter Richards was born in Houston County but
sold to Mr. Neal. Shade being born on the plantation was Mr. Neal's
property. He was the youngest of 11 children. His real name was
"Shadrack" and the brother just older than he was named "Meshack".
Sometimes the mothers named the babies but most of the time the masters
did. Mr. Neal did Shade's "namin'".

Shade's father came two or three times a month to see his family on Mr.
Neal's plantation always getting a "pass" from his master for "niggers"
didn't dare go off their own plantation without a "pass". Before the war
Shade's grandfather came from Africa to buy his son and take him home,
but was taken sick and both father and son died. Shade's earliest
recollections of his mother are that she worked in the fields until "she
was thru' bornin' chillun" then she was put in charge of the milk and
butter. There were 75 or 80 cows to be milked twice a day and she had to
have 5 or 6 other women helpers.

Mr. Neal had several plantations in different localities and his family
did not live on this one in Pike County but he made regular visits to
each one. It had no name, was just called "Neal's Place." It consisted
of thirteen hundred acres. There were always two or three hundred slaves
on the place, besides the ones he just bought and sold for "tradin'". He
didn't like "little nigger men" and when he happened to find one among
his slaves he would turn the dogs on him and let them run him down. The
boys were not allowed to work in the fields until they were 12 years
old, but they had to wait on the hands, such as carrying water, running
back to the shop with tools and for tools, driving wagons of corn, wheat
etc. to the mill to be ground and any errands they were considered big
enough to do. Shade worked in the fields when he became 12 years old.

This plantation was large and raised everything--corn, wheat, cotton,
"taters", tobacco, fruit, vegetables, rice, sugar cane, horses, mules,
goats, sheep, and hogs. They kept all that was needed to feed the slaves
then sent the surplus to Savannah by the "Curz". The stage took
passengers, but the "Curz" was 40 or 50 wagons that took the farm
surplus to Savannah, and "fetched back things for de house."

Mr. Neal kept 35 or 40 hounds that had to be cooked for. He was "rich
with plenty of money" always good to his slaves and didn't whip them
much, but his son, "Mr. Jimmy, sure was a bad one". Sometimes he'd use
the cow hide until it made blisters, then hit them with the flat of the
hand saw until they broke and next dip the victim into a tub of salty
water. It often killed the "nigger" but "Mr. Jimmy" didn't care. He
whipped Shade's uncle to death.

When the "hog killin' time come" it took 150 nigger men a week to do it.
The sides, shoulders, head and jowls were kept to feed the slaves on and
the rest was shipped to Savannah. Mr. Neal was good to his slaves and
gave them every Saturday to "play" and go to the "wrestling school". At
Xmas they had such a good time, would go from house to house, the boys
would fiddle and they'd have a drink of liquor at each house. The liquor
was plentiful for they bought it in barrels. The plantations took turn
about having "Frolics" when they "fiddled and danced" all night.

If it wasn't on your own plantation you sure had to have a "pass". When
a slave wanted to "jine the church" the preacher asked his master if he
was a "good nigger", if the master "spoke up for you", you were "taken
in," but if he didn't you weren't. The churches had a pool for the
Baptist Preachers to baptize in and the Methodist Preacher sprinkled.

Mr. Neal "traded" with Dr. by the year and whenever the slaves were hurt
or sick he had to come "tend" to them. He gave the families their food
by the month, but if it gave out all they had to do was to ask for more
and he always gave it to them. They had just as good meals during the
week as on Sunday, any kind of meat out of the smoke house, chickens,
squabs, fresh beef, shoats, sheep, biscuits or cornbread, rice,
potatoes, beans, syrup and any garden vegetables. Sometimes they went
fishing to add to their menu.

The single male slaves lived together in the "boy house" and had just as
much as others. There were a lot of women who did nothing but sew,
making work clothes for the hands. Their Sunday clothes were bought with
the money they made off the little "patches" the master let them work
for themselves.

Mr. Jimmy took Shade to the war with him. Shade had to wait on him as a
body servant then tend to the two horses. Bullets went through Shade's
coat and hat many times but "de Lord was takin' care" of him and he
didn't get hurt. They were in the battle of Appomatox and "at the
surrenderin'," April 8, 1865, but the "evidence warn't sworn out until
May 29, so that's when the niggers celebrate emancipation."

Shade's brother helped lay the R.R. from Atlanta to Macon so the
Confederate soldiers and ammunition could move faster.

In those days a negro wasn't grown until he was 21 regardless of how
large he was. Shade was "near 'bout" grown when the war was over but
worked for Mr. Neal four years. His father and mother rented a patch,
mule and plow from Mr. Neal and the family was together. At first they
gave the niggers only a tenth of what they raised but they couldn't get
along on it and after a "lot of mouthin' about it" they gave them a
third. That wasn't enough to live on either so more "mouthin" about it
until they gave them a half, "and thats what they still gits today."

When the slaves went 'courtin' and the man and woman decided to get
married, they went to the man's master for permission then to the
woman's master. There was no ceremony if both masters said "alright"
they were considered married and it was called "jumpin' the broomstick."

Signs were "more true" in the olden days than now. God lead his people
by dreams then. One night Shade dreamed of a certain road he used to
walk over often and at the fork he found a lead pencil, then a little
farther on he dreamed of a purse with $2.43 in it. Next day he went
farther and just like the dream he found the pocketbook with $2.43 in

Shade now works at the Kincaid Mill No. 2, he makes sacks and takes up
waste. He thinks he's lived so long because he never eats hot food or
takes any medicine. "People takes too much medicine now days" he says
and when he feels bad he just smokes his corn cob pipe or takes a chew
of tobacco.


Dora Roberts was born in 1849 and was a slave of Joseph Maxwell of
Liberty County. The latter owned a large number of slaves and
plantations in both Liberty and Early Counties. During the war "Salem"
the plantation in Liberty County was sold and the owner moved to Early
County where he owned two plantations known as "Nisdell" and "Rosedhu".

Today, at 88 years of age, Aunt Dora is a fine specimen of the fast
disappearing type of ante-bellum Negro. Her shrewd dark eyes glowing, a
brown paper sack perched saucily on her white cottony hair, and puffing
contentedly on an old corn cob pipe, the old woman began her recital
what happened during plantation days.

"Dey is powerful much to tell ob de days ob slabry, chile, an' it come
to me in pieces. Dis story ain't in no rotation 'cause my mind it don't
do dat kinda function, but I tell it as it come ta me. De colored folks
had dey fun as well as dey trials and tribulations, 'cause dat Sat'day
nigh dance at de plantation wuz jist de finest ting we wanted in dem
days. All de slabes fum de udder plantation dey cum ta our barn an' jine
in an' if dey had a gal on dis plantation dey lob, den dat wuz da time
dey would court. Dey would swing to de band dat made de music. My
brother wuz de captain ob de quill band an' dey sure could make you
shout an' dance til you quz [TR: wuz?] nigh 'bout exhausted. Atta
findin' ya gal ta dat dance den you gits passes to come courtin' on
Sundays. Den de most ob dom dey wants git married an' dey must den git
de consent fum de massa ceremonies wuz read ober dem and de man git
passes fo' de week-end ta syat [TR: stay?] wid his wife. But de slabes
dey got togedder an' have dem jump over de broom stick an' have a big
celebration an' dance an' make merry 'til morning and it's time fo' work

"We worked de fields an' kep' up de plantation 'til freedom. Ebry
Wednesday de massa come visit us an look ober de plantation ta see dat
all is well. He talk ta de obersheer an' find out how good de work is.
We lub de massa an' work ha'd fo' him.

"Ah kin 'member dat Wednesday night plain as it wuz yesterday. It seems
lak de air 'round de quarters an' de big house filled wid excitement;
eben de wind seem lak it wuz waitin' fo' som'ting. De dogs an' de
pickaninnies dey sleep lazy like 'gainst de big gate waitin' fo' de
crack ob dat whip which wuz de signal dat Julius wuz bringin' de master
down de long dribe under de oaks. Chile, us all wuz happy knowin' date
de fun would start.

"All of a sudden you hear dem chilluns whoop, an' de dogs bark, den de
car'age roll up wid a flourish, an' de coachman dressed in de fines' git
out an' place de cookie try on de groun'. Den dey all gadder in de
circle an' fo' dey git dey supply, dey got ta do de pigeon wing.

"Chile, you ain't neber seen sich flingin' ob de arms an' legs in yo'
time. Dem pickaninnies dey had de natural born art ob twistin' dey body
any way dey wish. Dat dere ting dey calls truckin' now an' use to be
chimmy, ain't had no time wid de dancin' dem chilluns do. Dey claps dey
hands and keep de time, while dat old brudder ob mine he blows de
quills. Massa he would allus bring de big tray ob 'lasses cookies fo'
all de chilluns. Fast as de tray would empty, Massa send ta de barrel
fo' more. De niggers do no work dat day, but dey jist celebrate.

"Atta de war broke out we wuz all ca'yhed up to de plantation in Early
County to stay 'til atta de war. De day de mancipation wuz read dey wuz
sadness an' gladness. De ole Massa he call us all togedder an' wid tears
in his eyes he say--'You is all free now an' you can go jist whar you
please. I hab no more jurisdiction ober you. All who stay will be well
cared for.' But de most ob us wanted to come back to de place whar we
libed befo'--Liberty County.

"So he outfitted de wagons wid horses an' mules an' gib us what dey wuz
ob privisions on de plantation an' sent us on our way ta de ole
plantation in Liberty County. Dare wuz six horses ta de wagons. 'Long de
way de wagons broke down 'cause de mules ain't had nothin' ta eat an'
most ob dem died. We git in sich a bad fix some ob de people died. When
it seem lak we wuz all gwine die, a planter come along de road an' he
stopped ta find out what wuz de matter. Wan he heard our story an' who
our master wuz he git a message to him 'bout us.

"It seem lak de good Lord musta answered de prayers ob his chillun fo'
'long way down de road we seed our Massa comin' an' he brung men an'
horses to git us safely ta de ole home. When he got us dare, I neber see
him no more 'cause he went back up in Early County an' atta I work dere
at de plantation a long time den I come ta de city whyah my sister be
wid one ob my master's oldest daughters--a Mrs. Dunwodies[TR: ?? first
letter of name not readable], who she wuz nursin' fo'.

"An' dat's 'bout all dey is ta tell. When I sits an' rocks here on de
porch it all comes back ta me. Seems sometimes lak I wuz still dere on
de plantation. An' it seem lak it's mos' time fo' de massa ta be comin'
ta see how tings are goin'."

Written by Ruth Chitty
Research Worker
District #2
Rewritten by Velma Bell

Baldwin County
Milledgeville, Ga.

More than a century lies in the span of memory of "Aunt Ferebe" Rogers.
The interviewers found her huddled by the fireside, all alone while her
grandaughter worked on a WPA Project to make the living for them both.
In spite of her years and her frail physique, her memory was usually
clear, only occasionally becoming too misty for scenes to stand out
plainly. Her face lighted with a reminiscent smile when she was asked to
"tell us something about old times."

"I 'members a whole heap 'bout slav'ey times. Law, honey, when freedom
come I had five chillen. Five chillen and ten cents!" and her crackled
laughter was spirited.

"Dey says I'm a hundred and eight or nine years old, but I don't think
I'm quite as old as dat. I knows I'se over a hundred, dough.

"I was bred and born on a plantation on Brier Creek in Baldwin County.
My ole marster was Mr. Sam Hart. He owned my mother. She had thirteen
chillen. I was de oldest, so I tuck devil's fare.

"My daddy was a ole-time free nigger. He was a good shoe-maker, and
could make as fine shoes and boots as ever you see. But he never would
work till he was plumb out o' money--den he had to work. But he quit
jes' soon as he made a little money. Mr. Chat Morris (he had a regular
shoe shop)--he offered him studdy work makin' boots and shoes for him.
Was go'n' pay him $300. a year. But he wouldn't take it. Was too lazy.
De ole-time free niggers had to tell how dey make dey livin', and if dey
couldn't give satisfaction 'bout it, dey was put on de block and sold to
de highest bidder. Most of 'em sold for 3 years for $50. My daddy
brought $100. when he was sold for three or four years.

"I was on de block twice myself. When de old head died dey was so many
slaves for de chillen to draw for, we was put on de block. Mr. John
Baggett bought me den; said I was a good breedin' 'oman. Den later, one
de young Hart marsters bought me back.

"All de slaves had diff'unt work to do. My auntie was one de weavers.
Old Miss had two looms goin' all de time. She had a old loom and a new
loom. My husband made de new loom for Old Miss. He was a carpenter and
he worked on outside jobs after he'd finished tasks for his marster. He
use to make all de boxes dey buried de white folks and de slaves in, on
de Hart and Golden Plantations. Dey was pretty as you see, too.

"I was a fiel' han' myself. I come up twix' de plow handles. I warn't de
fastes' one wid a hoe, but I didn't turn my back on nobody plowin'. No,

"My marster had over a thousand acres o' land. He was good to us. We had
plenty to eat, like meat and bread and vegetables. We raised eve'ything
on de plantation--wheat, corn, potatoes, peas, hogs, cows, sheep,
chickens--jes' eve'ything.

"All de clo'es was made on de plantation, too. Dey spun de thread from
cotton and wool, and dyed it and wove it. We had cutters and dem dat
done de sewin'. I still got de fus' dress my husband give me. Lemme show
it to you."

Gathering her shawl about her shoulders, and reaching for her stick, she
hobbled across the room to an old hand-made chest.

"My husband made dis chis' for me." Raising the top, she began to search
eagerly through the treasured bits of clothing for the "robe-tail
muslin" that had been the gift of a long-dead husband. One by one the
garments came out--her daughter's dress, two little bonnets all faded
and worn ("my babies' bonnets"), her husband's coat.

"And dat's my husband's mother's bonnet. It use to be as pretty a black
as you ever see. It's faded brown now. It was dyed wid walnut."

The chest yielded up old cotton cards, and horns that had been used to
call the slaves. Finally the "robe-tail muslin" came to light. The soft
material, so fragile with age that a touch sufficed to reduce it still
further to rags, was made with a full skirt and plain waist, and still
showed traces of a yellow color and a sprigged design.

"My husband was Kinchen Rogers. His marster was Mr. Bill Golden, and he
live 'bout fo' mile from where I stayed on de Hart plantation."

"Aunt Ferebe, how did you meet your husband?"

"Well, you see, us slaves went to de white folks church a-Sunday.
Marster, he was a prim'tive Baptis', and he try to keep his slaves from
goin' to other churches. We had baptisin's fust Sundays. Back in dem
days dey baptised in de creek, but at de windin' up o' freedom, dey dug
a pool. I went to church Sundays, and dat's where I met my husband. I
been ma'ied jes' one time. He de daddy o' all my chillen'. (I had
fifteen in all.)"

"Who married you, Aunt Ferebe. Did you have a license?"

"Who ever heered a nigger havin' a license?" and she rocked with
high-pitched laughter.

"Young marster was fixin' to ma'y us, but he got col' feet, and a
nigger by name o' Enoch Golden ma'ied us. He was what we called a
'double-headed nigger'--he could read and write, and he knowed so much.
On his dyin' bed he said he been de death o' many a nigger 'cause he
taught so many to read and write.

"Me and my husband couldn't live together till after freedom 'cause we
had diffunt marsters. When freedom come, marster wanted all us niggers
to sign up to stay till Chris'man. Bless, yo' soul, I didn't sign up. I
went to my husband! But he signed up to stay wid his marster till
Chris'man. After dat we worked on shares on de Hart plantation; den we
farmed fo'-five years wid Mr. Bill Johnson."

"Aunt Ferebe, are these better times, or do you think slavery times were

"Well, now, you ax me for de truth, didn't you?--and I'm goin' to tell
yo' de truth. I don't tell no lies. Yes, mam, dese has been better times
to me. I think hit's better to work for yourself and have what you make
dan to work for somebody else and don't git nuttin' out it. Slav'ey days
was mighty hard. My marster was good to us (I mean he didn't beat us
much, and he give us plenty plain food) but some slaves suffered awful.
My aunt was beat cruel once, and lots de other slaves. When dey got
ready to beat yo', dey'd strip you' stark mother naked and dey'd say,
'Come here to me, God damn you! Come to me clean! Walk up to dat tree,
and damn you, hug dat tree! Den dey tie yo' hands 'round de tree, den
tie yo' feets; den dey'd lay de rawhide on you and cut yo' buttocks
open. Sometimes dey'd rub turpentine and salt in de raw places, and den
beat you some mo'. Oh, hit was awful! And what could you do? Dey had all
de 'vantage of you.

"I never did git no beatin' like dat, but I got whuppin's--plenty o'
'em. I had plenty o' devilment in me, but I quit all my devilment when I
was ma'ied. I use to fight--fight wid anything I could git my han's on.

"You had to have passes to go from one plantation to 'nother. Some de
niggers would slip off sometime and go widout a pass, or maybe marster
was busy and dey didn't want to bother him for a pass, so dey go widout
one. In eve'y dee-strick dey had 'bout twelve men dey call patterollers.
Dey ride up and down and aroun' looking for niggers widout passes. If
dey ever caught you off yo' plantation wid no pass, dey beat you all

"Yes'm, I 'member a song 'bout--

  'Run, nigger, run, de patteroller git you,
   Slip over de fence slick as a eel,
   White man ketch you by de heel,
   Run, nigger run!'"

No amount of coaxing availed to make her sing the whole of the song, or
to tell any more of the words.

"When slaves run away, dey always put de blood-hounds on de tracks.
Marster always kep' one hound name' Rock. I can hear 'im now when dey
was on de track, callin', 'Hurrah, Rock, hurrah, Rock! Ketch 'im!'

"Dey always send Rock to fetch 'im down when dey foun' 'im. Dey had de
dogs trained to keep dey teef out you till dey tole 'em to bring you
down. Den de dogs 'ud go at yo' th'oat, and dey'd tear you to pieces,
too. After a slave was caught, he was brung home and put in chains.

"De marsters let de slaves have little patches o' lan' for deyse'ves. De
size o' de patch was 'cordin' to de size o' yo' family. We was 'lowed
'bout fo' acres. We made 'bout five hundred pounds o' lint cotton, and
sol' it at Warrenton. Den we used de money to buy stuff for Chris'man."

"Did you have big times at Christmas, Aunt Ferebe?"

"Chris'man--huh!--Chris'man warn't no diffunt from other times. We used
to have quiltin' parties, candy pullin's, dances, corn shuckin's, games
like thimble and sich like."

Aunt Ferebe refused to sing any of the old songs. "No, mam, I ain't
go'n' do dat. I th'oo wid all dat now. Yes, mam, I 'members 'em all
right, but I ain't go'n' sing 'em. No'm, nor say de words neither. All
dat's pas' now.

"Course dey had doctors in dem days, but we used mostly home-made
medicines. I don't believe in doctors much now. We used sage tea, ginger
tea, rosemary tea--all good for colds and other ail-ments, too.

"We had men and women midwives. Dr. Cicero Gibson was wid me when my
fus' baby come. I was twenty-five years old den. My baby chile
seventy-five now."

"Auntie, did you learn to read and write?"

"No, _mam_, I'd had my right arm cut off at de elbow if I'd a-done dat.
If dey foun' a nigger what could read and write, dey'd cut yo' arm off
at de elbow, or sometimes at de shoulder."

In answer to a query about ghosts, she said--"No, mam, I ain't seed
nuttin' like dat. Folks come tellin' me dey see sich and sich a thing. I
say hit's de devil dey see. I ain't seed nuttin' yit. No'm, I don't
believe in no signs, neither."

"Do you believe a screeeh owl has anything to do with death?"

"Yes, mam, 'fo' one my chillen died, squinch owl come to my house ev'ey
night and holler. After de chile die he ain't come no mo'. Cows mooin'
or dogs howlin' after dark means death, too.

"No, man, I don't believe in no cunjurs. One cunjur-man come here once.
He try his bes' to overcome me, but he couldn't do nuttin' wid me. After
dat, he tole my husband he couldn't do nuttin' to me, 'cause I didn't
believe in him, and dem cunjur-folks can't hurt you less'n you believes
in 'em. He say he could make de sun stan' still, and do wonders, but I
knowed dat warn't so, 'cause can't nobody stop de sun 'cep' de man what
made hit, and dat's God. I don't believe in no cunjurs.

"I don't pay much 'tention to times o' de moon to do things, neither. I
plants my garden when I gits ready. But bunch beans does better if you
plants 'em on new moon in Ap'il. Plant butterbeans on full moon in
Ap'il--potatoes fus' o' March.

"When de war broke out de damn Yankees come to our place dey done
eve'ything dat was bad. Dey burn eve'ything dey couldn't use, and dey
tuck a heap o' corn. Marster had a thousand bushels de purtiest shucked
corn, all nice good ears, in de pen at de house. Dey tuck all dat.
Marster had some corn pens on de river, dough, dey didn't find. I jes'
can't tell you all dey done.

"How come I live so long, you say?--I don't know--jes' de goodness o' de
Lawd, I reckon. I worked hard all my life, and always tried to do

[HW: Dist. 1
Ex-Slave #92]

by Minnie Branham Stonestreet
[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

Henry Rogers of Washington-Wilkes is known by almost every one in the
town and county. To the men around town he is "Deacon", to his old
friends back in Hancock County (Georgia) where he was born and reared,
he is "Brit"; to everybody else he is "Uncle Henry", and he is a friend
to all. For forty-one years he has lived in Washington-Wilkes where he
has worked as waiter, as lot man, and as driver for a livery stable when
he "driv drummers" around the country anywhere they wanted to go and in
all kinds of weather. He is proud that he made his trips safely and was
always on time. Then when automobiles put the old time livery stables
out of business he went to work in a large furniture and undertaking
establishment where he had charge of the colored department. Finally he
decided to accept a job as janitor and at one time was janitor for three
banks in town. He is still working as janitor in two buildings, despite
his seventy-three years.

Uncle Henry's "book learning" is very limited, but he has a store of
knowledge gathered here and there that is surprising. He uses very
little dialect except when he is excited or worried. He speaks of his
heart as "my time keeper". When he promises anything in the future he
says, "Please the Lord to spare me", and when anyone gets a bit
impatient he bids them, "Be paciable, be paciable". Dismal is one of his
favorite words but it is always "dism". When he says "Now, I'm tellin'
yer financially" or "dat's financial", he means that he is being very
frank and what he is saying is absolutely true.

Regarded highly as the local weather prophet, Uncle Henry gets up every
morning before daybreak and scans the heavens to see what kind of
weather is on its way. He guards all these "signs" well and under no
consideration will he tell them. They were given to him by someone who
has passed on and he keeps them as a sacred trust. If asked, upon making
a prediction, "How do you know?" Uncle Henry shakes his wise old head
and with a wave of the hand says, "Dat's all right, you jess see now,
it's goin' ter be dat way". And it usually is!

Seventy-three years ago "last gone June" Uncle Henry was born in the Mt.
Zion community in Hancock county (Georgia), seven miles from Sparta. His
mother was Molly Navery Hunt, his father, Jim Rogers. They belonged to
Mr. Jenkins Hunt and his wife "Miss Rebecca". Henry was the third of
eight children. He has to say about his early life:

"Yassum, I wuz born right over there in Hancock county, an' stayed there
'til the year 1895 when Mrs. Riley come fer me to hep' her in the Hotel
here in Washington an' I been here ev'ry since. I recollects well living
on the Hunt plantation. It wuz a big place an' we had fifteen or twenty
slaves"--(The "we" was proudly possessive)--"we wuz all as happy passel
o' niggers as could be found anywhere. Aunt Winnie wuz the cook an' the
kitchen wuz a big old one out in the yard an' had a fireplace that would
'commodate a whole fence rail, it wuz so big, an' had pot hooks, pots,
big old iron ones, an' everything er round to cook on. Aunt Winnie had a
great big wooden tray dat she would fix all us little niggers' meals in
an' call us up an' han' us a wooden spoon apiece an' make us all set
down 'round the tray an' eat all us wanted three times ev'ry day. In one
corner of the kitchen set a loom my Mother use to weave on. She would
weave way into the night lots of times.

"The fust thing I 'members is follerin' my Mother er 'round. She wuz the
housegirl an' seamstress an' everywhere she went I wuz at her heels. My
father wuz the overseer on the Hunt place. We never had no hard work to
do. My fust work wuz 'tendin' the calves an' shinin' my Master's shoes.
How I did love to put a Sunday shine on his boots an' shoes! He called
me his nigger an' wuz goin' ter make a barber out o' me if slavery had
er helt on. As it wuz, I shaved him long as he lived. We lived in the
Quarters over on a high hill 'cross the spring-branch from the white
peoples' house. We had comfortable log cabins an' lived over there an'
wuz happy. Ole Uncle Alex Hunt wuz the bugler an' ev'ry mornin' at 4:00
o'clock he blowed the bugle fer us ter git up, 'cept Sunday mornin's, us
all slept later on Sundays.

"When I wuz a little boy us played marbles, mumble peg, an' all sich
games. The little white an' black boys played together, an' ev'ry time
'Ole Miss' whipped her boys she whipped me too, but nobody 'cept my
Mistess ever teched me to punish me.

"I recollects one Sadday night ole Uncle Aaron Hunt come in an' he must
er been drinkin' or sumpin' fer he got ter singin' down in the Quarters
loud as he could 'Go Tell Marse Jesus I Done Done All I Kin Do', an'
nobody could make him hush singin'. He got into sich er row 'til they
had ter go git some o' the white folks ter come down an' quiet him down.
Dat wuz the only 'sturbance 'mongst the niggers I ever 'members.

"I wuz so little when the War come on I don't member but one thing 'bout
it an' that wuz when it wuz over with an' our white mens come home all
de neighbors, the Simpsons, the Neals, the Allens all living on
plantations 'round us had a big dinner over at my white peoples', the
Hunts, an' it sho wuz a big affair. Ev'rybody from them families wuz
there an' sich rejoicin' I never saw. I won't forgit that time.

"I allus been to Church. As a little boy my folks took me to ole Mt
Zion. We went to the white peoples' Church 'til the colored folks had
one of they own. The white folks had services in Mt Zion in the mornings
an' the niggers in the evenin's."

When a colored person died back in the days when Uncle Henry was coming
on, he said they sat up with the dead and had prayers for the living.
There was a Mr. Beman in the community who made coffins, and on the Hunt
place old Uncle Aaron Hunt helped him. The dead were buried in home-made
coffins and the hearse was a one horse wagon.

"When I wuz a growin' up" said Uncle Henry, "I wore a long loose shirt
in the summer, an' in the winter plenty of good heavy warm clothes. I
had 'nits an' lice' pants an' hickory stripe waists when I wuz a little
boy. All these my Mother spun an' wove the cloth fer an' my Mistess
made. When I wuz older I had copperas pants an' shirts."

Uncle Henry has many signs but is reluctant to tell them. Finally he was
prevailed upon to give several. What he calls his "hant sign" is: "If
you runs into hot heat sudden, it is a sho sign hants is somewheres

When a rooster comes up to the door and crows, if he is standing with
his head towards the door, somebody is coming, if he is standing with
his tail towards the door, it is a sign of death, according to Uncle
Henry. It is good luck for birds to build their nests near a house, and
if a male red bird comes around the woodpile chirping, get ready for bad
weather for it is on its way.

Uncle Henry is a pretty good doctor too, but he doesn't like to tell his
remedies. He did say that life everlasting tea is about as good thing
for a cold as can be given and for hurts of any kind there is nothing
better than soft rosin, fat meat and a little soot mixed up and bound to
the wound. He is excellent with animals and when a mule, dog, pig or
anything gets sick his neighbors call him in and he doctors them and
usually makes them well.

As for conjuring, Uncle Henry has never known much about it, but he said
when he was a little fellow he heard the old folks talk about a mixture
of devil's snuff and cotton stalk roots chipped up together and put into
a little bag and that hidden under the front steps. This was to make all
who came up the steps friendly and peacable even if they should happen
to be coming on some other mission.

After the War the Rogers family moved from the Hunts' to the Alfriend
plantation adjoining. As the Alfriends were a branch of the Hunt family
they considered they were still owned as in slavery by the same "white
peoples". They lived there until Uncle Henry moved to Washington-Wilkes
in 1895.

Christmas was a great holiday on the plantation. There was no work done
and everybody had a good time with plenty of everything good to eat.
Easter was another time when work was laid aside. A big Church service
took place Sunday and on Monday a picnic was attended by all the negroes
in the community.

There were Fourth of July celebrations, log rollings, corn shuckings,
house coverings and quilting parties. In all of these except the Fourth
of July celebration it was a share-the-work idea. Uncle Henry grew a bit
sad when he recalled how "peoples use ter be so good 'bout hep'in' one
'nother, an' now dey don't do nothin' fer nobody lessen' dey pays 'em."
He told how, when a neighbor cleared a new ground and needed help, he
invited all the men for some distance around and had a big supper
prepared. They rolled logs into huge piles and set them afire. When all
were piled high and burning brightly, supper was served by the fire
light. Sometimes the younger ones danced around the burning logs. When
there was a big barn full of corn to be shucked the neighbors gladly
gathered in, shucked the corn for the owner, who had a fiddler and maybe
some one to play the banjo. The corn was shucked to gay old tunes and
piled high in another barn. Then after a "good hot supper" there was
perhaps a dance in the cleared barn. When a neighbor's house needed
covering, he got the shingles and called in his neighbors and friends,
who came along with their wives. While the men worked atop the house the
women were cooking a delicious dinner down in the kitchen. At noon it
was served amid much merry making. By sundown the house was finished and
the friends went home happy in the memory of a day spent in toil freely
given to one who needed it.

All those affairs were working ones, but Uncle Henry told of one that
marked the end of toil for a season and that was the Fourth of July as
celebrated on the Hunt and Alfriend plantations. He said: "On the
evenin' of the third of July all plows, gear, hoes an' all sich farm
tools wuz bro't in frum the fields an' put in the big grove in front o'
the house where a long table had been built. On the Fo'th a barbecue wuz
cooked, when dinner wuz ready all the han's got they plows an' tools,
the mules wuz bro't up an' gear put on them, an' den ole Uncle Aaron
started up a song 'bout the crops wuz laid by an' res' time had come,
an' everybody grabbed a hoe er sumpin', put it on they shoulder an'
jined the march 'round an' round the table behind Uncle Aaron singin'
an' marchin', Uncle Aaron linin' off the song an' ev'ry body follerin'
him. It wuz a sight to see all the han's an' mules er goin' 'round the
table like that. Den when ev'ry body wuz might nigh 'zausted, they
stopped an' et a big barbecue dinner. Us use ter work hard to git laid
by by de Fo'th so's we could celebrate. It sho' wuz a happy time on our
plantations an' the white peoples enjoyed it as much as us niggers did.

"Us use ter have good times over there in Hancock County", continued
Uncle Henry. Ev'rybody wuz so good an' kind ter one 'nother; 't'ain't
like that now--no mam, not lak it use ter be. Why I 'members onst, when
I fust growed up an' wuz farmin' fer myself, I got sick way long up in
the Spring, an' my crop wuz et up in grass when one evenin' Mr.
Harris--(he wuz overseein' fer Mr. Treadwell over on the next plantation
to the Alfriends)--come by. I wuz out in the field tryin' ter scratch
'round as best I could, Mr. Harris say: 'Brit, you in de grass mighty
bad.' I say: 'Yassir, I is, but I been sick an' couldn't hep' myself,
that's how come I so behind.' He say: 'Look lak you needs hep'.'
'Yassir,' I says, 'but I ain't got nobody to work but me.' Dat's all he
said. Well sir, the nex' mornin' by times over comes Mr. Harris wid six
plows an' eight hoe han's an' they give me a whole day's work an' when
they finished that evenin' they want a sprig of grass in my crop; it wuz
clean as this floor, an' I'se tellin' yer the truth. Dat's the way
peoples use ter do, but not no mo'--everybody too selfish now, an' they
think ain't nobody got responsibilits (responsibilities) but them."

Speaking of his early life Uncle Henry continued: "When I growed up I
broke race horses fer white mens an' raced horses too, had rooster
fights an' done all them kind o' things, but I 'sought 'ligion an' found
it an' frum that day to this I ain't never done them things no mo'. When
I jined the Church I had a Game rooster named 'Ranger' that I had won
ev'ry fight that I had matched him in. Peoples come miles ter see Ranger
fight; he wuz a Warhorse Game. After I come to be a member of the Church
I quit fightin' Ranger so Mr. Sykes come over an' axed me what I would
take fer him, I told him he could have him--I warn't goin' to fight wid
him any mo'. He took him an' went over three states, winnin' ev'ry fight
he entered him in an' come home wid fifteen hundred dollars he made on
Ranger. He give me fifty dollars, but I never wanted him back. Ranger
wuz a pet an' I could do anything wid 'im. I'd hold out my arm an' tell
him to come up an' he'd fly up on my arm an' crow. He'd get on up on my
haid an' crow too. One rainy day 'fore I give him away he got in the lot
an' kilt three turkeys an' a gobbler fer my Mistess. She got mighty mad
an' I sho wuz skeered 'til Marse took mine an' Ranger's part an'
wouldn't let her do nothin' wid us."

Forty-seven years ago Uncle Henry married Annie Tiller of Hancock
County. They had four children, three of whom are living. About his
courtship and marriage he has to say: "I wuz at Sunday School one Sunday
an' saw Annie fer the fust time. I went 'round where she wuz an' wuz
made 'quainted with her an' right then an' there I said to myself,
'She's my gal'. I started goin' over to see her an' met her folks. I
liked her Pa an Ma an' I would set an' talk with them an' 'pear not to
be payin' much 'tention to Annie. I took candy an' nice things an' give
to the family, not jest to her. I stood in with the ole folks an'
't'warn't long 'fore me an' Annie wuz married." Uncle Henry said he took
Annie to Sparta to his Pastor's home for the marriage and the preacher
told him he charged three dollars for the ceremony. "But I tole him I
warnt goin' to give him but er dollar an' a half 'cause I wuz one of his
best payin' members an' he ought not to charge me no more than dat. An'
I never paid him no mo' neither, an' dat wuz er plenty."

Though he is crippled in his "feets" he is hale and hearty and manages
to work without missing a day. He is senior Steward in his church and
things there go about like he says even though he isn't a preacher. All
the members seem to look to him for "consulation an' 'couragement". In
all his long life he has "never spoke a oath if I knows it, an' I hates
cussin'." He speaks of his morning devotions as "havin' prayers wid
myself". His blessing at mealtime is the same one he learned in his
"white peoples'" home when he was a little boy:

  "We humbly thank Thee, our Heavenly Father,
     for what we have before us."

Uncle Henry says: "I loves white peoples an' I'm a-livin' long 'cause in
my early days dey cared fer me an' started me off right--they's my bes'

[HW: Dist. 5
E.F. Driskell

109 years old]

[TR: The beginning of each line on the original typewritten pages for
this interview is very faint, and some words have been reconstructed
from context. Questionable entries are followed by [??]; words that
could not be deciphered are indicated by [--].]

Mrs. Julia Rush was born in 1826 on Saint Simons Island, Georgia. Mrs.
Rush, her mother, and three sisters were the property of a Frenchman
named Colonel De Binien, a very wealthy land owner. Mrs. Rush does not
remember her father as he was sold away from his family when she was a

As a child Mrs. Rush served as playmate to one of the Colonel's
daughters and so all that she had to do was to play from morning till
night. When she grew older she started working in the kitchen in the
master's house. Later she was sent to the fields where she worked side
by side with her mother and three sisters from sunup until sundown.
Mrs. Rush says that she has plowed so much that she believes she can
"outplow" any man.

Instead of the white overseer usually found on plantations the Colonel
used one of the slaves to act as foreman of the field hands. He was
known to the other slaves as the "Nigger Driver" and it was he who
awakened all every morning. It was so dark until torch lights had to be
used to see by. Those women who had babies took them along to the field
in a basket which they placed on their heads. All of the hands were
given a certain amount of work to perform each day and if the work was
not completed a whipping might be forthcoming. Breakfast was sent to the
field to the hands and if at dinner time they were not too far away from
their cabins they were permitted to go home[??]. At night they prepared
their own meals in their individual cabins.

All food on the colonel's plantation was issued daily from the corn
house. Each person was given enough corn to make a sufficient amount of
bread for the day when ground. Then they went out and dug their potatoes
from the colonel's garden. No meat whatsoever was issued. It was up to
the slaves to catch fish, oysters, and other sea food for their meat
supply. All those who desired to were permitted to raise chickens,
watermelons and vegetables. There was no restriction on any as to what
must be done with the produce so raised. It could be sold or kept for
personal consumption.

Colonel De Binien always saw that his slaves had sufficient clothing. In
the summer months the men were given two shirts, two pairs of pants, and
two pairs of underwear. All of these clothes were made of cotton and all
were sewed on the plantation. No shoes were worn in the summer. The
women were given two dresses, two underskirts, and two pairs of
underwear. When the winter season approached another issue of clothes
was given. At this time shoes were given. They were made of heavy red
leather and were known as "brogans".

The slave quarters on the plantation were located behind the colonel's
cabin[??]. All were made of logs. The chinks in the walls were filled
with mud to keep the weather out. The floors were of wood in order to
protect the occupants from the dampness. The only furnishings were a
crude bed and several benches. All cooking was done at the large
fireplace in the rear of the one room.

When Colonel De Binion's [TR: earlier, De Binien] wife died he divided
his slaves among the children. Mrs. Rush was given to her former
playmate who was at the time married and living in Carrollton, Georgia.
She was very mean and often punished her by beating her on her forearm
for the slightest offence. At other times she made her husband whip her
(Mrs. Rush) on her bare back with a cowhide whip. Mrs. Rush says that
her young Mistress thought that her husband was being intimate with her
and so she constantly beat and mistreated her. On one occasion all of
the hair on her head (which was long and straight) was cut from her head
by the young mistress.

For a while Mrs. Rush worked in the fields where she plowed and hoed the
crops along with the other slaves. Later she worked in the master's
house where she served as maid and where she helped with the cooking.
She was often hired out to the other planters in the vicinity. She says
that she liked this because she always received better treatment than
she did at her own home. These persons who hired her often gave her
clothes as she never received a sufficient amount from her own master.

The food was almost the same here as it had been at the other
plantation. At the end of each week she and her fellow slaves were given
a "little bacon, vegetables, and some corn meal."[HW: ?] This had to
last for a certain length of time. If it was all eaten before the time
for the next issue that particular slave had to live as best he or she
could. In such an emergency the other slaves usually shared with the
unfortunate one.

There was very little illness on the plantation where Mrs. Rush lived.
Practically the only medicine ever used was castor oil and turpentine.
Some of the slaves went to the woods and gathered roots and herbs from
which they made their own tonics and medicines.

According to Mrs. Rush the first of the month was always sale day for
slaves and horses. She was sold on one of those days from her master in
Carrollton to one Mr. Morris, who lived in Newman, Ga. Mr. Morris paid
$1100.00 for her. She remained with him for a short while and was later
sold to one Mr. Ray who paid the price of $1200.00. Both of these
masters were very kind to her, but she was finally sold back to her
former master, Mr. Archibald Burke of Carrollton, Ga.

Mrs. Rush remembers that none of the slaves were allowed away from their
plantation unless they held a pass from their master. Once when she was
going to town to visit some friends she was accosted by a group of
"Paddle-Rollers" who gave her a sound whipping when she was unable to
show a pass from her master.

Mrs. Rush always slept in her masters' houses after leaving Colonel De
Binien. When she was in Carrollton her young mistress often made her
sleep under the house when she was angry with her.

After the war was over with and freedom was declared Mr. Burke continued
to hold Mrs. Rush. After several unsuccessful attempts she was finally
able to escape. She went to another part of the state where she married
and started a family of her own.

Because of the cruel treatment that she received at the hands of some of
her owners[??] Mrs. Rush says that the mere thought of slavery makes her
blood boil. Then there are those, under whom she served, who treated her
with kindness, whom she holds no malice against.

As far as Mrs. Rush knows the war did very little damage to Mr. Burke.
He did not enlist as a soldier.

[HW: Dist. 1
Ex-Slave #96]

[HW: Good ghost story on page 4.]
[HW: "revolution drummer" parts very good.]

NANCY SETTLES, Ex-slave, Age 92
2511 Wheeler Road
(Richmond County)
Augusta, Georgia

Augusta, Georgia
[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

Nancy Settles was born 15 miles from Edgefield in South Carolina on the
plantation of Mr. Berry Cochran.

Until about five months ago, Nancy had been bed-ridden for three years.
Her speech is slow, and at times it is difficult to understand her, but
her mind is fairly clear. Her eyes frequently filled with tears, her
voice becoming so choked she could not talk. "My Marster and Missis, my
husban' and eight of my chaps done lef me. De Lawd mus be keepin' me
here fur some reason. Dis here chile is all I got lef'." The "Chile"
referred to was a woman about 69. "My fust chap was born in slavery. Me
and my husband lived on diffunt plantashuns till after Freedom come. My
Ma and my Pa lived on diffunt places too. My Pa uster come evy Sadday
evenin' to chop wood out uv de wood lot and pile up plenty fur Ma till
he come agin. On Wensday evenin', Pa uster come after he been huntin'
and bring in possum and coon. He sho could get 'em a plenty.

"Ma, she chop cotton and plow, and I started choppin' cotton when I wuz
twelve years old. When I was a gal I sure wuz into plenty devilment."

"What kind of devilment?"

"Lawdy Miss, evy time I heayd a fiddle, my feets jes' got to dance and
dancin' is devilment. But I ain't 'lowed to dance nothin' but de
six-handed reel.

"I uster take my young Misses to school ev'y day, but de older Misses
went to boadin' school and come home ev'y Friday an' went back on
Monday. No ma'am, I never learn to read and write but I kin spell some."

"Nancy, did you go out at night and were you ever caught by the patrol?"

"No, ma'am, I never wuz caught by de patterol; my Pa wuz the one I was
scart uv."

"Did you always have enough to eat, and clothes to wear?"

"Yes ma'am, Marster put out a side uv meat and a barrul o' meal and all
uv us would go and git our rations fur de week."

"Suppose some one took more than his share, and the supply ran short."

"Lawd Ma'am, we knowed better'n to do dat kinder thing. Eve'ybody, had
er garden patch an' had plenty greens and taters and all dat kinder
thing. De cloth fur de slave close wuz all made on the place and Missis
see to mekkin' all de close we wear."

"My Missis died endurin' of de war, but Marster he live a long time.
Yes, Ma'am, we went to Church an to camp meetin' too. We set up in de
galley, and ef dey too many uv us, we set in de back uv de church. Camp
meetin' wuz de bes'. Before Missis died I wuz nussin' my young miss
baby, and I ride in de white foke's kerrage to camp meetin' groun' and
carry de baby. Lawdy, I seen de white folks and de slaves too shoutin'
an gittin' 'ligion plenty times."

"Nancy, were the slaves on your place ever whipped?"

"Yes'm sometimes when de wouldn' mine, but Marster allus whip 'em
hissef, he ain't let nobody else lay er finger on his slaves but him. I
heayd 'bout slaves been whipped but I tink de wuz whipped mostly cause
de Marsters _could_ whip 'em."

"Nancy do you know any ghost stories, or did you ever see a ghost?"

"No, Ma'am, I ain't never see a ghos' but I heayd de drum!"

"What drum did you hear--war drums?"

"No, ma'am de drum de little man beats down by Rock Crick. Some say he
is a little man whut wears a cap and goes down the crick beating a drum
befo' a war. He wuz a Revolushun drummer, and cum back to beat the drum
befo' de war. But some say you can hear de drum 'most any spring now. Go
down to the Crick and keep quiet and you hear Brrr, Brrr, Bum hum,
louder and louder and den it goes away. Some say dey hav' seen de little
man, but I never seen him, but I heayd de drum, 'fo de war, and ater dat
too. There was a white man kilt hisself near our place. He uster play a
fiddle, and some time he come back an play. I has heayd him play his
fiddle, but I ain't seen him. Some fokes say dey is seen him in the wood
playin' and walkin' 'bout."

"Nancy I am glad you are better than you were the last time I came to
see you."

"Yes, Ma'am, I is up now. I prayed to God and tell Him my trouble and he
helped me get about again. This po chile uv mine does what she kin to
pay de rent and de Welfare gives us a bit to eat but I sho do need er
little wood, cause we is back on de rent and my chile jes scrap 'bout to
pick up trash wood and things to burn."

PLANTATION LIFE as viewed by ex-slave

1290 W. Broad Street
Athens, Georgia

Written by:
Sadie B. Hornsby

Edited by:
Sarah H. Hall

Leila Harris
John N. Booth
District Supervisor
Federal Writers' Project
Augusta, Georgia
[Date Stamp: MAY 13 1938]

Old Will Sheets readily complied with the request that he tell of his
experiences during slavery days. "No'm I don't mind, its been many a
long day since anybody axed me to talk 'bout things dat far back, but I
laks to have somebody to talk to 'cause I can't git 'bout no more since
I los' both of my footses, and I gits powerful lonesome sometimes.

"I was borned in Oconee County, not far f'um whar Bishop is now. It
warn't nothin' but a cornfield, way back in dem times. Ma was Jane
Southerland 'fore she married my pa. He was Tom Sheets. Lawsy Miss! I
don't know whar dey cone f'um. As far as I knows, dey was borned and
raised on deir Marsters' plantations. Dar was seven of us chilluns. I
was de oldes'; James, Joe, Speer, Charlie, and Ham was my brudders, and
my onlies' sister was Frances.

"You ax me 'bout my gram'ma and gram'pa? I can't tell you nothin' t'all
'bout 'em. I jus' knows I had 'em and dat's all. You see Ma was a house
gal and de mos' I seed of her was when she come to de cabin at night;
den us chilluns was too sleepy to talk. Soon as us et, us drapped down
on a pallet and went fast asleep. Niggers is a sleepyheaded set.

"I was a water boy, and was 'spected to tote water f'um de spring to de
house, and to de hands in de fiel'. I helped Mandy, one of de colored
gals, to drive de calves to de pasture and I toted in a little wood and
done little easy jobs lak dat. Lawsy Miss! I never seed no money 'til
atter de War. If I had a had any money what could I have done wid it,
when I couldn't leave dat place to spend it?

"Dare ain't much to tell 'bout what little Nigger chillun done in
slavery days. Dem what was big enough had to wuk, and dem what warn't,
played, slep' and scrapped. Little Niggers is bad as game chickens 'bout
fightin'. De quarters whar us lived was log cabins chinked wid mud to
keep out de rain and wind. Chimblies was made out of fiel' rock and red
clay. I never seed a cabin wid more dan two rooms in it.

"Beds warn't fancy dem days lak dey is now; leastwise I didn't see no
fancy ones. All de beds was corded; dey had a headboard, but de pieces
at de foot and sides was jus' wide enough for holes to run de cords
thoo', and den de cords was pegged to hold 'em tight. Nigger chillun
slep' on pallets on de flo'.

"Marse Jeff Southerland was a pore man, but he fed us all us could eat
sich as turnips, cabbages, collards, green corn, fat meat, cornbread,
'taters and sometimes chicken. Yes Ma'am, chicken dinners was sorter
special. Us didn't have 'em too often. De cookin' was all done at de big
house in a open fireplace what had a rack crost it dat could be pulled
out to take de pots off de fire. 'Fore dey started cookin', a fire was
made up ready and waitin'; den de pots of victuals was hung on de rack
and swung in de fireplace to bile. Baking was done in skillets. Us
cotched rabbits three and four at a time in box traps sot out in de plum
orchard. Sometimes us et 'em stewed wid dumplin's and some times dey was
jus' plain biled, but us laked 'em bes' of all when dey was fried lak

"Oh! dem 'possums! How I wisht I had one right now. My pa used to ketch
40 or 50 of 'em a winter. Atter dey married, Ma had to stay on wid Marse
Jeff and Pa was 'bliged to keep on livin' wid Marster Marsh Sheets. His
marster give him a pass so dat he could come and stay wid Ma at night
atter his wuk was done, and he fetched in de 'possums. Dey was baked in
de white folkses kitchen wid sweet 'tatoes 'roun' 'em and was barbecued
sometimes. Us had fishes too what was mighty good eatin'. Dere warn't
but one gyarden on de plantation.

"Slave chillun didn't wear nothin' in summer but shirts what looked lak
gowns wid long sleeves. Gals and boys was dressed in de same way when
dey was little chaps. In winter us wore shirts made out of coarse cloth
and de pants and little coats was made out of wool. De gals wore wool
dresses." He laughed and said: "On Sunday us jus' wore de same things.
Did you say shoes? Lawsy Miss! I was eight or nine 'fore I had on a pair
of shoes. On frosty mornin's when I went to de spring to fetch a bucket
of water, you could see my feet tracks in de frost all de way dar and

"Miss Carrie, my Mist'ess, was good as she knowed how to be. Marse and
Mist'ess had two gals and one boy, Miss Anna, Miss Callie, and Marster

"Marse Jeff was a good man; he never whupped and slashed his Niggers. No
Ma'am, dere warn't nobody whupped on Marse Jeff's place dat I knows
'bout. He didn't have no overseer. Dere warn't no need for one 'cause he
didn't have so many slaves but what he could do de overseein' his own
self. Marse Jeff jus' had 'bout four mens and four 'oman slaves and him
and young Marse Johnny wukked in de fiel' 'long side of de Niggers. Dey
went to de fiel' by daybreak and come in late at night.

"When Marse Jeff got behind wid his crop, he would hire slaves f'um
other white folkses, mostly f'um Pa's marster, dat's how Pa come to know
my Ma.

"Dere was 'bout a hunderd acres in our plantation countin' de woods and
pastures. Dey had 'bout three or four acres fenced in wid pine poles in
a plum orchard. Dat's whar dey kep' de calves.

"Dere was a jail at Watkinsville, but Marse Jeff never had none of his
slaves put in no jail. He didn't have so many but what he could make 'em
behave. I never seed no slaves sold, but I seed 'em in a wagon passin'
by on deir way to de block. Marse Jeff said dey was takin' 'em a long
ways off to sell 'em. Dat's why dey was a-ridin'.

"Miss Anna larned Ma her A.B.C's. She could read a little, but she never
larned to write.

"Slaves went to de white folkses church if dey went a t'all. I never
could sing no tune. I'se lak my Ma; she warn't no singer. Dat's how come
I can't tell you 'bout de songs what dey sung den. I 'members de fus'
time I seed anybody die; I was 'bout eight years old, and I was twelve
'fore I ever seed a funeral. No Ma'am, us chilluns didn't go to no
baptizin's--Ma went, but us didn't.

"Didn't none of Marse Jeff's Niggers run off to no North, but I heared
of a Nigger what did on de place whar my Pa was at. De only thing I
knowed what might a made him run to de North was dat Niggers thought if
dey got dar dey would be in Heb'en. Dem patterollers was somepin' else.
I heared folkses say dey would beat de daylights mos' out of you if dey
cotched you widout no pass. Us lived on de big road, and I seed 'em
passin' mos' anytime. I mos' know dere was plenty trouble twixt de
Niggers and de white folkses. Course I never heared tell of none, but
I'm sho' dere was trouble jus' de same," he slyly remarked.

"Marse Jeff wukked dem few Niggers so hard dat when dey got to deir
cabins at night dey was glad to jus' rest. Dey all knocked off f'um wuk
Sadday at 12 o'clock. De 'omans washed, patched, and cleaned up de
cabins, and de mens wukked in dey own cotton patches what Marse Jeff
give 'em. Some Niggers wouldn't have no cotton patch 'cause dey was too
lazy to wuk. But dey was all of 'em right dar Sadday nights when de
frolickin' and dancin' was gwine on. On Sundays dey laid 'round and
slep'. Some went to church if dey wanted to. Marster give 'em a pass to
keep patterollers f'um beatin' 'em when dey went to church.

"Us chilluns was glad to see Chris'mas time come 'cause us had plenty to
eat den; sich as hogshead, backbones, a heap of cake, and a little
candy. Us had apples what had been growed on de place and stored away
special for Chris'mas. Marse Jeff bought some lallahoe, dat was syrup,
and had big old pones of lightbread baked for us to sop it up wid. What
us laked best 'bout Chris'mas was de good old hunk of cheese dey give us
den and de groundpeas. Don't you know what groundpeas is? Dem's goobers
(peanuts). Such a good time us did have, a-parchin' and a-eatin' dem
groundpeas! If dere was oranges us didn't git none. Marse Jeff give de
grown folkses plenty of liquor and dey got drunk and cut de buck whilst
it lasted. New Year's Day was de time to git back to wuk.

"Marse Jeff was sich a pore man he didn't have no corn shuckin's on his
place, but he let his Niggers go off to 'em and he went along hisself.
Dey had a big time a-hollerin' and singin' and shuckin' corn. Atter de
shuckin' was all done dere was plenty to eat and drink--nothin' short
'bout dem corn shuckin's.

"When slaves got sick, dey didn't have no doctor dat I knowed 'bout.
Miss Carrie done de doctorin' herself. Snake root tea was good for colds
and stomach mis'ries. Dey biled rabbit tobacco, pine tops, and mullein
together; tuk de tea and mixed it wid 'lasses; and give it to us for
diffunt ailments. If dey done dat now, folkses would live longer. Ma put
asafiddy (asafetida) sacks 'round our necks to keep off sickness.

"Ma said us was gwine to be free. Marse Jeff said us warn't, and he
didn't tell us no diffunt 'til 'bout Chris'mas atter de War was done
over wid in April. He told us dat us was free, but he wanted us to stay
on wid him, and didn't none of his Niggers leave him. Dey all wukked de
same as dey had before dey was sot free only he paid 'em wages atter de

"I 'members dem Yankees comin' down de big road a-stealin' as dey went
'long. Dey swapped deir bags of bones for de white folkses good fat
hosses. I never seed so many pore hosses at one time in my life as dey
had. Dem Yankees stole all da meat, chickens, and good bedclothes and
burnt down de houses. Dey done devilment aplenty as dey went 'long. I
'members Marse Jeff put one of his colored mens on his hoss wid a
coffeepot full of gold and sont him to de woods. Atter dem Yankees went
on he sont for him to fetch back de gold and de fine hoss what he done
saved f'um de sojer mens.

"I heared tell of dem Ku Kluxers, but I never seed 'em. Lawsy Miss! What
did Niggers have to buy land wid 'til atter dey wukked long enough for
to make some money? Warn't no schoolin' done 'round whar us lived. I was
10 years old 'fore I ever sot foots in a schoolhouse. De nearest school
was at Shady Grove.

"It was a long time atter de War 'fore I married. Us didn't have no
weddin'; jus' got married. My old 'oman had on a calico dress--I
disremembers what color. She looked good to me though. Us had 16
chilluns in all; four died. I got 22 grandchillun and one great
grandchild. None of 'em has jobs to brag 'bout; one of 'em larned to
run a store.

"I think Mr. Lincoln was a great man, 'cause he sot us free. When I
thinks back, it warn't no good feelin' to be bound down lak dat. Mr.
President Davis wanted us to stay bound down. No Ma'am, I didn't lak dat
Mr. Davis atter I knowed what he stood for. 'Course dere is plenty what
needs to be bound down hard and fast so dey won't git in no trouble. But
for me I trys to behave myself, and I sho' had ruther be free. I guess
atter all it's best dat slavery days is over. 'Bout dat Booker
Washin'ton man, de Niggers what tuk him in said he done lots of good for
his race, and I reckon he did.

"Somepin' 'nother jus' made me jine de church. I wanted to do better'n
what I was doin'. De Lord says it's best for folkses to be 'ligious.

"No Ma'am, I don't 'spect to live as long as my Ma lived, 'cause dese
legs of mine since I done los' both of my footses wid blood pizen atter
gangreen sot in, sho' gives me a passel of trouble. But de Lord is good
to me and no tellin' how long I'se gwine to stay here. Miss, you sho'
tuk me way back yonder, and I laks to talk 'bout it. Yes, Ma'am, dat's
been a long time back."

386 Arch Street
Athens, Georgia

Written by:
Grace McCune [HW: (White)]

Edited by:
Sarah H. Hall

Leila Harris

John N. Booth
District Supervisor
Federal Writers' Project
Residencies 6 & 7

Robert lives in a small house so old and in such bad repair that a
strong wind would no doubt tumble it down. Large holes in the roof
can be plainly seen from the gateway. The neat yard, filled with
old-fashioned flowers, is enclosed by a makeshift fence of rusty wire
sagging to the ground in places, and the gate rocks on one hinge. There
was some evidence that a porch had extended across the front of the
cottage, but it is entirely gone now and large rocks serve as steps at
the doorway.

Knocks and calls at the front of the house were unanswered and finally
Robert was found working in his garden behind the house. He is a tiny
old man, and his large sun hat made him seem smaller than he actually
was. He wore a clean but faded blue shirt and shabby gray pants much too
large for him. His shoes, bound to his feet with strips of cloth, were
so much too large that it was all he could do to shuffle along. He
removed his hat and revealed white hair that contrasted with his black
face, as he smiled in a friendly way. "Good morning, Missy! How is you?"
was his greeting. Despite his advanced age, he keeps his garden in
excellent condition. Not a blade of grass was to be seen. Asked how he
managed to keep it worked so efficiently he proudly answered: "Well
Miss, I jus' wuks in it some evvy day dat comes 'cept Sundays and, when
you keeps right up wid it dat way, it ain't so hard. Jus' look 'round
you! Don't you see I got de bestest beans and squashes, 'round here, and
down under dem 'tater vines, I kin tell you, dem roots is jus' full of
'taters. My Old Marster done larnt me how to gyarden. He allus made us
raise lots of gyarden sass such as: beans, peas, roas'in' ears,
collards, turnip greens, and ingons (onions). For a fact, dere was jus'
'bout all de kinds of veg'tables us knowed anything 'bout dem days right
dar in our Marster's big old gyarden. Dere was big patches of 'taters,
and in dem wheatfields us growed enough to make bread for all de folks
on dat dere plantation. Us sho' did have plenty of mighty good somepin

"I would ax you to come in and set down in my house to talk," he said,
"but I don't 'spect you could climb up dem dere rocks to my door, and
dem's all de steps I got." When Robert called to his daughter, who lived
next door, and told her to bring out some chairs, she suggested that the
interview take place on her porch. "It's shady and cool on my porch,"
she said, "and Pa's done been a-diggin' in his garden so long he's plum
tuckered out; he needs to set down and rest." After making her father
comfortable, she drew up a bucket of water from the well at the edge of
the porch and, after he had indulged in a long drink of the fresh water,
he began his story.

"I was borned on Marster Joe Echols' plantation in Oglethorpe County,
'bout 10 miles from Lexin'ton, Georgy. Mammy was Cynthia Echols 'fore
she married up wid my daddy. He was Peyton Shepherd. Atter Pappy and
Mammy got married, Old Marse Shepherd sold Pappy to Marse Joe Echols so
as dey could stay together.

"Marse Joe, he had three plantations, but he didn't live on none of 'em.
He lived in Lexin'ton. He kept a overseer on each one of his plantations
and dey had better be good to his Niggers, or else Marse Joe would sho'
git 'em 'way from dar. He never 'lowed 'em to wuk us too hard, and in
bad or real cold weather us didn't have to do no outside wuk 'cept
evvyday chores what had to be done, come rain or shine, lak milkin',
tendin' de stock, fetchin' in wood, and things lak dat. He seed dat us
had plenty of good somepin t'eat and all de clothes us needed. Us was
lots better off in dem days dan us is now.

"Old Marster, he had so many Niggers dat he never knowed 'em all. One
day he was a-ridin' 'long towards one of his plantations and he met one
of his slaves, named William. Marse Joe stopped him and axed him who he
was. William said: 'Why Marster, I'se your Nigger. Don't you know me?'
Den Marster, he jus' laughed and said: 'Well, hurry on home when you
gits what you is gwine atter.' He was in a good humor dat way most all
de time. I kin see him now a-ridin' dat little hoss of his'n what he
called Button, and his little fice dog hoppin' 'long on three legs right
side of de hoss. No Ma'am, dere warn't nothin' de matter wid' dat little
dog; walkin' on three legs was jus' his way of gittin' 'round.

"Marster never let none of de slave chillun on his plantation do no wuk
'til dey got fifteen--dat was soon 'nough, he said. On all of his
plantations dere was one old 'oman dat didn't have nothin' else to do
but look atter and cook for de nigger chillun whilst dey mammies was at
wuk in de fields. Aunt Viney tuk keer of us. She had a big old horn what
she blowed when it was time for us to eat, and us knowed better dan to
git so fur off us couldn't hear dat horn, for Aunt Viney would sho' tear
us up. Marster had done told her she better fix us plenty t'eat and give
it to us on time. Dere was a great long trough what went plum 'cross de
yard, and dat was whar us et. For dinner us had peas or some other sort
of veg'tables, and cornbread. Aunt Viney crumbled up dat bread in de
trough and poured de veg'tables and pot-likker over it. Den she blowed
de horn and chillun come a-runnin' from evvy which away. If us et it all
up, she had to put more victuals in de trough. At nights, she crumbled
de cornbread in de trough and poured buttermilk over it. Us never had
nothin' but cornbread and buttermilk at night. Sometimes dat trough
would be a sight, 'cause us never stopped to wash our hands, and 'fore
us had been eatin' more dan a minute or two what was in de trough would
look lak de red mud what had come off of our hands. Sometimes Aunt Viney
would fuss at us and make us clean it out.

"Dere was a big sand bar down on de crick what made a fine place to
play, and wadin' in de branches was lots of fun. Us frolicked up and
down dem woods and had all sorts of good times--anything to keep away
from Aunt Viney 'cause she was sho' to have us fetchin' in wood or
sweepin' de yards if us was handy whar she could find us. If us was out
of her sight she never bothered 'bout dem yards and things. Us was
skeered to answer dat horn when us got in Marster's 'bacco. He raised
lots of 'bacco and rationed it out to mens, but he never 'lowed chillun
to have none 'til dey was big enough to wuk in de fields. Us found out
how to git in his 'bacco house and us kept on gittin' his 'bacco 'fore
it was dried out 'til he missed it. Den he told Aunt Viney to blow dat
horn and call up all de chillun. I'se gwine to whup evvy one of 'em, he
would 'clare. Atter us got dere and he seed dat green 'bacco had done
made us so sick us couldn't eat, he jus' couldn't beat us. He jus'
laughed and said: 'It's good enough for you.'

"Aunt Martha, she done de milkin' and helped Aunt Nancy cook for de
slaves. Dey had a big long kitchen up at de big house whar de overseer
lived. De slaves what wuked in de field never had to do deir own
cookin'. It was all done for 'em in dat big old kitchen. Dey cooked some
of de victuals in big old washpots and dere was sho' a plenty for all.
All de cookin' was done in big fireplaces what had racks made inside to
hang pots on and dey had big old ovens for bakin', and thick iron
skillets, and long-handled fryin' pans. You jus' can't 'magine how good
things was cooked dat way on de open fire. Nobody never had no better
hams and other meat dan our Marster kept in dem big old smokehouses, and
his slaves had meat jus' lak white folks did. Dem cooks knowed dey had
to cook a plenty and have it ready when it was time for de slaves to
come in from de fields. Miss Ellen, she was the overseer's wife, went
out in de kitchen and looked over evvything to see that it was all right
and den she blowed de bugle. When de slaves heared dat bugle, dey come
in a-singin' from de fields. Dey was happy 'cause dey knowed Miss Ellen
had a good dinner ready for 'em.

"De slave quarters was long rows of log cabins wid chimblies made out of
sticks and red mud. Dem chimblies was all de time ketchin' fire. Dey
didn't have no glass windows. For a window, dey jus' cut a openin' in a
log and fixed a piece of plank 'cross it so it would slide when dey
wanted to open or close it. Doors was made out of rough planks, beds was
rough home-made frames nailed to de side of de cabins, and mattresses
was coarse, home-wove ticks filled wid wheat straw. Dey had good
home-made kivver. Dem beds slept mighty good.

"Dere warn't many folks sick dem days, 'specially 'mongst de slaves.
When one did die, folks would go 12 or 15 miles to de buryin'. Marster
would say: 'Take de mules and wagons and go but, mind you, take good
keer of dem mules.' He never seemed to keer if us went--fact was, he
said us ought to go. If a slave died on our place, nobody went to de
fields 'til atter de buryin'. Marster never let nobody be buried 'til
dey had been dead 24 hours, and if dey had people from some other place,
he waited 'til dey could git dar. He said it warn't right to hurry 'em
off into de ground too quick atter dey died. Dere warn't no undertakers
dem days. De homefolks jus' laid de corpse out on de coolin' board 'til
de coffin was made. Lordy Miss! Ain't you never seed one of dem coolin'
boards? A coolin' board was made out of a long straight plank raised a
little at de head, and had legs fixed to make it set straight. Dey wropt
'oman corpses in windin' sheets. Uncle Squire, de man what done all de
wagon wuk and buildin' on our place, made coffins. Dey was jus' plain
wood boxes what dey painted to make 'em look nice. White preachers
conducted de funerals, and most of de time our own Marster done it,
'cause he was a preacher hisself. When de funeral was done preached, dey
sung _Harps From De Tomb_, den dey put de coffin in a wagon and driv
slow and keerful to de graveyard. De preacher prayed at de grave and de
mourners sung, _I'se Born To Die and Lay Dis Body Down_. Dey never had
no outside box for de coffin to be sot in, but dey put planks on top of
de coffin 'fore dey started shovellin' in de dirt.

"Fourth Sundays was our meetin' days, and evvybody went to church. Us
went to our white folks' church and rid in a wagon 'hind deir car'iage.
Dere was two Baptist preachers--one of 'em was Mr. John Gibson and de
other was Mr. Patrick Butler. Marse Joe was a Methodist preacher
hisself, but dey all went to de same church together. De Niggers sot in
de gallery. When dey had done give de white folks de sacrament, dey
called de Niggers down from de gallery and give dem sacrament too.
Church days was sho' 'nough big meetin' days 'cause evvybody went. Dey
preached three times a day; at eleven in de mornin', at three in de
evenin', and den again at night. De biggest meetin' house crowds was
when dey had baptizin', and dat was right often. Dey dammed up de crick
on Sadday so as it would be deep enough on Sunday, and dey done de
baptizin' 'fore dey preached de three o'clock sermon. At dem baptizin's
dere was all sorts of shoutin', and dey would sing _Roll Jordan, Roll_,
_De Livin' Waters_, and _Lord I'se Comin' Home_.

"When de craps was laid by and most of de hardest wuk of de year done
up, den was camp-meetin' time, 'long in de last of July and sometimes in
August. Dat was when us had de biggest times of all. Dey had great big
long tables and jus' evvything good t'eat. Marster would kill five or
six hogs and have 'em carried dar to be barbecued, and he carried his
own cooks along. Atter de white folks et dey fed de Niggers, and dere
was allus a plenty for all. Marster sho' looked atter all his Niggers
good at dem times. When de camp-meetin' was over, den come de big
baptizin': white folks fust, den Niggers. One time dere was a old slave
'oman what got so skeered when dey got her out in de crick dat somebody
had to pull her foots out from under her to git her under de water. She
got out from dar and testified dat it was de devil a-holdin' her back.

"De white ladies had nice silk dresses to wear to church. Slave 'omans
had new calico dresses what dey wore wid hoopskirts dey made out of
grapevines. Dey wore poke bonnets wid ruffles on 'em and, if de weather
was sort of cool, dey wore shawls. Marster allus wore his linen duster.
Dat was his white coat, made cutaway style wid long tails. De cloth for
most all of de clothes was made at home. Marse Joe raised lots of sheep
and de wool was used to make cloth for de winter clothes. Us had a great
long loom house whar some of de slaves didn't do nothin' but weave
cloth. Some cyarded bats, some done de spinnin', and dere was more of
'em to do de sewin'. Miss Ellen, she looked atter all dat, and she cut
out most of de clothes. She seed dat us had plenty to wear. Sometimes
Marster would go to de sewin' house, and Mist'ess would tell him to git
on 'way from dar and look atter his own wuk, dat her and Aunt Julia
could run dat loom house. Marster, he jus' laughed den and told us
chillun what was hangin' round de door to jus' listen to dem 'omans
cackle. Oh, but he was a good old boss man.

"Us had water buckets, called piggens, what was made out of cedar and
had handles on de sides. Sometimes us sawed off little vinegar kegs and
put handles on 'em. Us loved to drink out of gourds. Dere was lots of
gourds raised evvy year. Some of 'em was so big dey was used to keep
eggs in and for lots of things us uses baskets for now. Dem little
gourds made fine dippers.

"Dem cornshuckin's was sho' 'nough big times. When us got all de corn
gathered up and put in great long piles, den de gittin' ready started.
Why dem 'omans cooked for days, and de mens would git de shoats ready to
barbecue. Marster would send us out to git de slaves from de farms
'round about dar.

"De place was all lit up wid light'ood-knot torches and bonfires, and
dere was 'citement a-plenty when all de Niggers got to singin' and
shoutin' as dey made de shucks fly. One of dem songs went somepin lak
dis: 'Oh! my haid, my pore haid, Oh! my pore haid is 'fected.' Dere
warn't nothin' wrong wid our haids--dat was jus' our way of lettin' our
overseer know us wanted some likker. Purty soon he would come 'round wid
a big horn of whiskey, and dat made de 'pore haid' well, but it warn't
long 'fore it got wuss again, and den us got another horn of whiskey.
When de corn was all shucked den us et all us could and, let me tell
you, dat was some good eatin's. Den us danced de rest of de night.

"Next day when us all felt so tired and bad, Marster he would tell us
'bout stayin' up all night, but Mist'ess tuk up for us, and dat tickled
Old Marster. He jus' laughed and said: 'Will you listen to dat 'oman?'
Den he would make some of us sing one of dem songs us had done been
singin' to dance by. It goes sort of lak dis: 'Turn your pardner 'round!
Steal 'round de corner, 'cause dem Johnson gals is hard to beat! Jus'
glance 'round and have a good time! Dem gals is hard to find!' Dat's
jus' 'bout all I can ricollect of it now.

"Us had big 'possum hunts, and us sho' cotched a heap of 'em. De gals
cooked 'em wid 'taters and dey jus' made your mouth water. I sho' wish I
had one now. Rabbits was good too. Marster didn't 'low no huntin' wid
guns, so us jus' took dogs when us went huntin'. Rabbits was kilt wid
sticks and rocks 'cept when a big snow come. Dey was easy to track to
dey beds den, and us could jus' reach in and pull 'em out. When us cotch
'nough of 'em, us had big rabbit suppers.

"De big war was 'bout over when dem yankees come by our place and jus'
went through evvything. Dey called all de slaves together and told 'em
dey was free and didn't b'long to nobody no more, and said de slaves
could take all dey wanted from de smokehouses and barns and de big
house, and could go when and whar dey wanted to go. Dey tried to hand us
out all de meat and hams, but us told 'em us warn't hongry, 'cause
Marster had allus done give us all us wanted. When dey couldn't make
none of us take nothin', dey said it was de strangest thing dey had done
ever seed, and dat dat man Echols must have sho' been good to his

"When dem yankees had done gone off Marster come out to our place. He
blowed de bugle to call us all up to de house. He couldn't hardly talk,
'cause somebody had done told him dat dem yankees couldn't talk his
Niggers into stealin' nothin'. Marster said he never knowed 'fore how
good us loved him. He told us he had done tried to be good to us and had
done de best he could for us and dat he was mighty proud of de way evvy
one of us had done 'haved ourselfs. He said dat de war was over now, and
us was free and could go anywhar us wanted to, but dat us didn't have to
go if us wanted to stay dar. He said he would pay us for our wuk and
take keer of us if us stayed or, if us wanted to wuk on shares, he would
'low us to wuk some land dat way. A few of dem Niggers drifted off, but
most of 'em stayed right dar 'til dey died."

A sad note had come into Robert's voice and he seemed to be almost
overcome by the sorrow aroused by his reminiscences. His daughter was
quick to perceive this and interrupted the conversation: "Please Lady,"
she said. "Pa's too feeble to talk any more today. Can't you let him
rest now and come back again in a day or two? Maybe he will be done
'membered things he couldn't call back today."

The front door was open when Robert's house was next visited, and a
young girl answered the knock. "Come in," she said. The little house was
as dilapidated in the interior as it was on the outside. Bright June
sunshine filtered through the many gaps in the roof arousing wonder as
to how the old man managed to remain inside this house during heavy
rains. The room was scrupulously clean and neat. In it was a very old
iron bed, a dresser that was minus its mirror, two chairs, and a table,
all very old and dilapidated. The girl laughed when she called attention
to a closet that was padlocked. "Dat's whar Grandpa keeps his rations,"
she said, and then volunteered the information: "He's gone next door to
stay wid Ma, whilst I clean up his house. He can't stand no dust, and
when I sweeps, I raises a dust." The girl explained a 12 inch square
aperture in the door, with a sliding board fastened on the inside by
saying: "Dat's Grandpa's peep-hole. He allus has to see who's dar 'fore
he unfastens his door."

Robert was sitting on the back porch and his daughter was ironing just
inside the door. Both seemed surprised and happy to see the interviewer
and the daughter placed a comfortable chair for her as far as the
dimensions of the small porch would permit from the heat of the charcoal
bucket and irons. Remembering that his earlier recollections had ended
with the close of the Civil War, Robert started telling about the days
"atter freedom had done come."

"Me, I stayed right on dar 'til atter Marster died. He was sick a long,
long time, and one morning Old Mist'ess, she called to me. 'Robert,' she
said, 'you ain't gwine to have no Marster long, 'cause he's 'bout gone.'
I called all de Niggers up to de big house and when dey was all in de
yard, Mist'ess, she said: 'Robert, you been wid us so long, you kin come
in and see him 'fore he's gone for good.' When I got in dat room I
knowed de Lord had done laid His hand on my good Old Marster, and he was
a-goin' to dat Home he used to preach to us Niggers 'bout, and it
'peared to me lak my heart would jus' bust. When de last breath was done
gone, I went back out in de yard and told de other Niggers, and dere was
sho' cryin' and prayin' 'mongst 'em, 'cause all of 'em loved Marster.
Dat was sho' one big funeral. Mist'ess said she wanted all of Marster's
old slaves to go, 'cause he loved 'em so, and all of us went. Some what
had done been gone for years come back for Marster's funeral.

"Next day, atter de funeral was over, Mist'ess, she said: 'Robert, I
want you to stay on wid me 'cause you know how he wanted his wuk done.'
Den Mist'ess' daughter and her husband, Mr. Dickenson, come dar to stay.
None of de Niggers laked dat Mr. Dickenson and so most of 'em left and
den, 'bout 2 years atter Marster died, Mist'ess went to 'Lanta (Atlanta)
to stay wid another of her daughters, and she died dar. When Mist'ess
left, I left too and come on here to Athens, and I been here ever since.

"Dere warn't much town here den, and 'most all 'round dis here place was
woods. I wuked 'bout a year for Mr. John McCune's fambly on de old
Pitner place, den I went to wuk for Mr. Manassas B. McGinty. He was a
cyarpenter and built most of de fine houses what was put up here dem
days. I got de lumber from him to build my house. Dere warn't but two
other houses 'round here den. My wife, Julie, washed for de white folks
and helped 'em do deir housewuk. Our chillun used to come bring my
dinner. Us had dem good old red peas cooked wid side meat in a pot in de
fireplace, and ashcake to go wid 'em. Dat was eatin's. Julie would rake
out dem coals and kivver 'em wid ashes, and den she would wrop a pone of
cornbread dough in collard or cabbage leaves and put it on dem ashes and
rake more ashes over it. You had to dust off de bread 'fore you et it,
but ashcake was mighty good, folks what lived off of it didn't git sick
lak dey does now a-eatin' dis white flour bread all de time. If us had
any peas left from dinner and supper, Julie would mash 'em up right
soft, make little cakes what she rolled in corn meal, and fry 'em for
breakfast. Dem sausage cakes made out of left-over peas was mighty fine
for breakfast.

"When de chillun started out wid my dinner, Julie allus made two of 'em
go together and hold hands all de way so dey wouldn't git lost. Now,
little chillun jus' a few years old goes anywhar dey wants to. Folks
don't look atter dey chillun lak dey ought to, and t'ain't right. Den,
when night come, chillun went right off to bed. Now, dey jus' runs
'round 'most all night, and it sho' is a-ruinin' dis young genrayshun
(generation). Dey don't take no keer of deirselfs. My own grandchillun
is de same way.

"I left Mr. McGinty and went to wuk for Mr. Bloomfield in de mill. Mr.
Bill Dootson was our boss, and he was sho' a good man. Dem was good
times. I wuked inside de mill and 'round de yard too, and sometimes dey
sont me to ride de boat wid de cotton or sometimes wid cloth, whatever
dey was sendin'. Dere was two mills den. One was down below de bridge on
Oconee Street, and de old check factory was t'other side of de bridge on
Broad Street. Dey used boats to carry de cotton and de cloth from one
mill to de other.

"Missy, can you b'lieve it? I wuked for 68¢ a day and us paid for our
home here. Dey paid us off wid tickets what us tuk to de commissary to
git what us needed. Dey kept jus' evvything dat anybody could want down
dar at de comp'ny store. So us raised our nine chillun, give 'em plenty
to eat and wear too and a good roof over deir haids, all on 68¢ a day
and what Julie could make wukin' for de white folks. 'Course things
warn't high-priced lak dey is now, but de main diff'unce is dat folks
didn't have to have so many kinds of things to eat and wear den lak dey
does now. Dere warn't nigh so many ways to throw money 'way den.

"Dere warn't so many places to go; jus' church and church spreads, and
Sundays, folks went buggy ridin'. De young Niggers, 'specially dem what
was a-sparkin', used to rent buggies and hosses from Mr. Selig
Bernstein. He kept a big livery stable den and he had a hoss named
Buckskin. Dat was de hoss what evvybody wanted 'cause he was so gentle
and didn't skeer de 'omans and chilluns. Mr. Bernstein is a-livin' yit,
and he is sho' a good man to do business wid. Missy, dere was lots of
good white folks den. Most of dem old ones is done passed on. One of de
best of 'em was Mr. Robert Chappell. He done passed on, but whilst he
lived he was mighty good to evvybody and de colored folks sho' does miss
him. He b'lieved in helpin' 'em and he give 'em several churches and
tried his best to git 'em to live right. If Mr. Robert Chappell ain't in
Heb'en, dere ain't no use for nobody else to try to git dar. His
granddaughter married Jedge Matthews, and folks says she is most as good
as her granddaddy was."

Robert chuckled when he was asked to tell about his wedding. "Miss," he
said, "I didn't have no sho' 'nough weddin'. Me and Julie jus' jumped
over de broom in front of Marster and us was married. Dat was all dere
was to it. Dat was de way most of de slave folks got married dem days.
Us knowed better dan to ax de gal when us wanted to git married. Us jus'
told our Marster and he done de axin'. Den, if it was all right wid de
gal, Marster called all de other Niggers up to de big house to see us
jump over de broom. If a slave wanted to git married to somebody on
another place, den he told Marster and his Marster would talk to de
gal's Marster. Whatever dey 'greed on was all right. If neither one of
'em would sell one of de slaves what wanted to git married, den dey let
'em go ahead and jump over de broom, and de man jus' visited his wife on
her Marster's place, mostly on Wednesday and Sadday nights. If it was a
long piece off, he didn't git dar so often. Dey had to have passes den,
'cause de patterollers would git 'em sho' if dey didn't. Dat meant a
thrashin', and dey didn't miss layin' on de stick, when dey cotch a

"Dese days, de boys and gals jus' walks off and don't say nothin' to
nobody, not even to dey mammies and daddies. [TR: written in margin:
"Elopement"] Now take dis daughter of mine--Callie is her name--she
runned away when she was 'bout seventeen. Dat day her mammy had done
sont her wid de white folks' clothes. She had on brass-toed brogan
shoes, a old faded cotton dress dat was plum up to her knees,--dem days,
long dresses was stylish--and she wore a old bonnet. She was totin' de
clothes to Mrs. Reese and met up wid dat Davenport boy. Dey traips'd up
to de courthouse, got a license, and was married 'fore me and Julie
knowed nothin' 'bout it. Julie sho' did light out from hyar to go git
Callie. She brung her back and kept her locked up in de house a long
time 'fore she would let her live wid dat Nigger.

"Us had our troubles den, but dey warn't lak de troubles us has now.
Now, it seems lak dem was mighty good days back when Arch Street was
jus' a path through de woods. Julie, she's done been gone a long time,
and all of our chillun's daid 'cept three, and two of 'em is done gone
up north. Jus' me and my Callie and de grandchillun is all dat's left
here. Soon I'se gwine to be 'lowed to go whar Julie is and I'se ready
any time, 'cause I done been here long 'nough."

When the visitor arose to take her departure Robert said: "Good-bye
Missy, come back to see me and Callie again 'cause us laked your
'pearments (appearance) de fust time you was here. Jus' trust in de
Lord, Miss, and He will take keer of you wharever you is."


TOM SINGLETON, Ex-Slave, Age 94
Athens, Georgia

Written by:
Sadie B. Hornsby
Research Worker
Federal Writers' Project
Athens, Georgia

Edited by:
Leila Harris
Federal Writers' Project
Augusta, Georgia
[Date Stamp: APR 27 1938]

Uncle Tom lives alone in a one room cabin, about two and one half miles
from town, on Loop-de-Loop road, not far from the Brooklyn section of
Athens. He states that he lives alone because: "I wuz raised right and
de Niggers dis day and time ain't had no raisin'. I just can't be
bothered wid havin' 'em 'round me all de time. Dey ain't my sort of
folkses." Uncle Tom says he will be 94 years old on May 15th of this
year, but many believe that he is much older.

When asked if he felt like talking about his experiences and observances
while he was a slave, he said: "I don't know, Missie; I got a pow'ful
hurtin' in my chest, and I'm too old to 'member much, but you ax me what
you want to know and I'll try to tell you. I wuz born in Lumpkin County
on Marster Joe Singleton's place. My ma wuz named Nancy Early, and she
belonged to Marster Joe Early what lived in Jackson County. My pa's name
wuz Joe Singleton. I don't 'member much 'bout my brothers and sisters.
Ma and Pa had 14 chillun. Some of deir boys wuz me and Isaac, Jeff,
Moses, and Jack; and deir gals wuz: Celia, Laura, Dilsey, Patsey,
Frankie, and Elinor. Dese wuz de youngest chillun. I don't 'member de
fust ones. I don't ricollect nothin' t'all 'bout my grandma and grandpa,
cause us wuz too busy to talk in de daytime, and at night us wuz so
whupped out from hard wuk us just went off to sleep early and never
talked much at no time. All I knows 'bout 'em is dat I heared folkses
say my gran'pa wuz 107 years old when he died. Folkses don't live dat
long now-a-days.

"De slave quarters wuz in rows and had two rooms and a shed. Dey had
beds made out of poles fastened together wid pegs and 'cross 'em wuz
laid de slats what dey spread de wheat straw on. Us had good kivver
'cause our Marster wuz a rich man and he believed in takin' keer of his
Niggers. Some put sheets dat wuz white as snow over de straw. Dem sheets
wuz biled wid home-made soap what kept 'em white lak dat. Udder folkses
put quilts over de straw. At de end of de slave quarters wuz de barns
and cow sheds, and a little beyond dem wuz de finest pasture you ever
seed wid clear water a-bubblin' out of a pretty spring, and runnin'
thoo' it. Dar's whar dey turned de stock to graze when dey warn't
wukkin' 'em."

When Tom was asked if he ever made any money, a mischievous smile
illumined his face. "Yes ma'am, you see I plowed durin' de day on old
Marster's farm. Some of de white folks what didn't have many Niggers
would ax old Marster to let us help on dey places. Us had to do dat wuk
at night. On bright moonshiny nights, I would cut wood, fix fences, and
sich lak for 'em. Wid de money dey paid me I bought Sunday shoes and a
Sunday coat and sich lak, cause I wuz a Nigger what always did lak to
look good on Sunday.

"Yes ma'am, us had good clo'es de year 'round. Our summer clothes wuz
white, white as snow. Old Marster said dey looked lak linen. In winter
us wore heavy yarn what de women made on de looms. One strand wuz wool
and one wuz cotton. Us wore our brogan shoes evvy day and Sunday too.
Marster wuz a merchant and bought shoes from de tanyard. Howsomever, he
had a colored man on his place what could make any kind of shoes.

"Lawdy! Missie, us had evvythin' to eat; all kinds of greens, turnips,
peas, 'tatoes, meat and chickens. Us wuz plumb fools 'bout fried chicken
and chicken stew, so Marster 'lowed us to raise plenty of chickens, and
sometimes at night us Niggers would git together and have a hee old
time. No Ma'am, us didn't have no gyardens. Us didn't need none. Old
Marster give us all de vittuls us wanted. Missie, you oughta seed dem
big old iron spiders what dey cooked in. 'Course de white folkses called
'em ovens. De biscuits and blackberry pies dey cooked in spiders, dey
wuz somethin' else. Oh! don't talk 'bout dem 'possums! Makes me hongry
just to think 'bout 'em. One night when pa and me went 'possum huntin',
I put a 'possum what us cotched in a sack and flung it 'cross my back.
Atter us started home dat 'possum chewed a hole in de sack and bit me
square in de back. I 'member my pa had a little dog." Here he stopped
talking and called a little black and white dog to him, and said: "He
wuz 'bout de size of dis here dog, and pa said he could natchelly
jus' make a 'possum de way he always found one so quick when us
went huntin'." The old man sighed, and looking out across the field,
continued: "Atter slav'ry days, Niggers turned dey chilluns loose,
an' den de 'possums an' rabbits most all left, and dere ain't so many
fishes left in de rivers neither."

Tom could not recall much about his first master: "I wuz four year old
when Marster Dr. Joe Singleton died. All I 'members 'bout him; he wuz a
big man, and I sho' wuz skeered of him. When he cotch us in de branch,
he would holler at us and say: 'Come out of dar 'fore you git sick.' He
didn't 'low us to play in no water, and when, he hollered, us lit a rag.
Dere wuz 'bout a thousand acres in Marse Joe's plantation, he owned a
gold mine and a copper mine too. Old Marster owned 'bout 65 Niggers in
all. He bought an' sold Niggers too. When Old Marster wanted to send
news, he put a Nigger on a mule an' sont de message.

"Atter Marse Joe died, old Mist'ess run de farm 'bout six years.
Mist'ess' daughter, Miss Mattie, married Marster Fred Lucas, an' old
Mist'ess sold her share in de plantation den. My pa, my sister, an' me
wuz sold on de block at de sheriff's sale. Durin' de sale my sister
cried all de time, an' Pa rubbed his han' over her head an' face, an' he
said: 'Don't cry, you is gwine live wid young Miss Mattie.' I didn't cry
none, 'cause I didn't care. Marse Fred bought us, an' tuk us to Athens
to live, an' old Mist'ess went to live wid her chilluns.

"Marse Fred didn't have a very big plantation; jus' 'bout 70 or 80 acres
I guess, an' he had 'bout 25 Niggers. He didn't have no overseer. My pa
wuz de one in charge, an' he tuk his orders from Marse Fred, den he went
out to de farm, whar he seed dat de Niggers carried 'em out. Pa wuz de
carriage driver too. It wuz his delight to drive for Marster and

"Marster and Mist'ess had eight chillun: Miss Mattie, Miss Mary, Miss
Fannie, Miss Senie, Mr. Dave, Mr. Joe, Mr. Frank and Mr. Freddy. Dey
lived in a big house, weather-boarded over logs, an' de inside wuz

"Marster an' Mist'ess sho' wuz good to us Niggers. Us warn't beat much.
De onliest Nigger I 'member dey whupped wuz Cicero. He wuz a bad boy. My
Marster never did whup me but onct. Mist'ess sont me up town to fetch
her a spool of thread. I got to playin' marbles an' 'fore I knowed it,
it wuz dinner time. When I got home, Mist'ess wuz mad sno' 'nough.
Marster cotch me an' wore me out, but Mist'ess never touched me. I seed
Niggers in de big jail at Watkinsville an' in de calaboose in Athens.
Yes Ma'am! I seed plenty of Niggers sold on de block in Watkinsville. I
ricollects de price of one Nigger run up to $15,000. All de sellin' wuz
done by de sheriffs an' de slave Marsters.

"Marster Fred Lucas sold his place whar he wuz livin' in town to Major
Cook, an' moved to his farm near Princeton Factory. Atter Major Cook got
kilt in de War, Marse Fred come back to town an' lived in his house

"No Ma'am, dey warn't no schools for Niggers in slav'ry time. Mist'ess'
daughters went to Lucy Cobb. Celia, my sister, wuz deir nurse, an' when
all our little missies got grown, Celia wuz de house gal. So when our
little missies went to school dey come home an' larnt Celia how to read
an' write. 'Bout two years atter freedom, she begun to teach school

"Us had our own churches in town, an' de white folkses furnished our
preachers. Once dey baptised 75 in de river below de Check Factory;
white folkses fust, and Niggers last.

"Oh! dem patterrollers! Dey wuz rough mens. I heared 'em say dey would
beat de stuffin' out of you, if dey cotch you widout no pass.

"Yes Ma'am! dar always wuz a little trouble twixt de white folkses an'
Niggers; always a little. Heaps of de Niggers went Nawth. I wuz told
some white men's livin' in town hyar helped 'em git away. My wife had
six of 'er kinfolkses what got clean back to Africa, an' dey wrote back
here from dar.

"Us had parties an' dances at night. Sometimes Mist'ess let Celia wear
some of de little missies' clo'es, 'cause she wanted her to outshine de
other Nigger gals. Dey give us a week at Christmas time, an' Christmas
day wuz a big day. Dey give us most evvythin': a knot of candy as big as
my fist, an' heaps of other good things. At corn shuckin's Old Marster
fotched a gallon keg of whiskey to de quarters an' passed it 'round.
Some just got tipsy an' some got low down drunk. De onliest cotton
pickin' us knowed 'bout wuz when us picked in de daytime, an' dey warn't
no good time to dat. A Nigger can't even sing much wid his head all bent
down pickin' cotton.

"Folkses had fine times at weddin's dem days. Dar wuz more vittuls dan
us could eat. Now dey just han' out a little somethin'. De white folkses
had a fine time too. Dey let de Niggers git married in deir houses. If
it wuz bad weather, den de weddin' wuz most genully in de hall, but if
it wuz a pretty day, dey married in de yard.

"I can't 'member much 'bout de games us played or de songs us sung. A
few of de games wuz marbles, football, an' town ball. 'Bout dem witches,
I don't know nothin'. Some of de folkses wore a mole foot 'roun' dey
neck to keep bad luck away: some wore a rabbit's foot fer sharpness, an'
it sholy did fetch sharpness. I don't know nothin' 'tall 'bout Rawhead
and Bloody Bones, but I heared tell he got atter Mist'ess' chillun an'
made 'em be good. Dey wuz pow'ful skeert of 'im.

"Old Marster an' Mist'ess looked atter deir Niggers mighty well. When
dey got sick, de doctor wuz sont for straight away. Yes Ma'am, dey
looked atter 'em mighty well. Holly leaves an' holly root biled together
wuz good for indigestion, an' blackgum an' blackhaw roots biled together
an' strained out an' mixed wid whiskey wuz good for diffunt mis'ries.
Some of de Niggers wore little tar sacks 'roun' dey necks to keep de
fever 'way.

"Yes Ma'am.' I wuz in de War 'bout two years, wid young Marster Joe
Lucas. I waited on him, cooked for him, an' went on de scout march wid
him, for to tote his gun, an' see atter his needs. I wuz a bugger in dem

"I 'members I wuz standin' on de corner of Jackson Street when dey said
freedom had come. Dat sho' wuz a rally day for de Niggers. 'Bout a
thousand in all wuz standin' 'roun' here in Athens dat day. Yes Ma'am,
de fust time de yankees come thoo' dey robbed an' stole all dey could
find an' went on to Monroe. Next to come wuz de gyards to take charge of
de town, an' dey wuz s'posed to set things to goin' right.

"Atter de War I stayed on wid Marse Fred, an' wukked for wages for six
years, an' den farmed on halves wid him. Some of de Niggers went on a
buyin' spree, an' dey bought land, hand over fist. Some bought eight an'
nine hundred acres at a time."

When asked to tell about his wedding, a merry twinkle shone in his eyes:
"Lawdy, Missie, dis ole Nigger nebber married 'til long atter de War. Us
sho' did cut up jack. Us wuz too old to have any chillun, but us wuz so
gay, us went to evvy dance 'til 'bout six years ago. She died den, an'
lef' me all by myse'f.

"Dat Mr. Abyham Lincoln wuz a reg'lar Nigger god. Us b'lieved dat Mr.
Jeff. Davis wuz all right too. Booker Washin'ton give a speech here
onct, an' I wuz dar, but de Niggers made sich a fuss over him I couldn't
take in what he said."

Asked what he thinks about slavery, now that it is over, he replied: "I
think it is all right. God intended it. De white folks run de Injuns
out, but dey is comin' back for sho'. God said every nation shall go to
deir own land 'fore de end.

"I just jined de church right lately. I had cut de buck when I wuz a
young chap, and God has promised us two places, heb'en an' hell. I
thinks it would be scand'lous for anybody to go to hell, so I 'cided to
jine up wid de crowd goin' to heb'en."

After the interview, he called to a little Negro boy that had wandered
into the house: "Moses! gimme a drink of water! Fotch me a chaw of
'bacco, Missie done tuck me up de crick, down de branch, now she's a
gwine 'roun'. Hurry! boy, do as I say, gimme dat water. Nigger chillun,
dis day an' time, is too lazy to earn deir bread. I wuz sorry to see you
come, Missie 'cause my chest wuz a hurtin' so bad, but now I'se sorry to
see you go." Out of breath, he was silent for a moment, then grinned and
said: "I wuz just lookin' at de Injun on dis here nickle, you done
gimme. He looks so happy! Good-bye, Missie, hurry an' come back! You
helped dis old Nigger lots, but my chest sho' do hurt."

[HW: Dist. 6
Ex slave 100]

Mary A. Crawford
Re-search Worker

East Solomon Avenue,
Griffin, Georgia

September 16, 1936
[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

Charlie Tye Smith was born in Henry County, near Locust Grove, Georgia,
on June 10, 1850 (as nearly as he can tell). His mother kept his age for
him and had him tell it to her over and over when he was a little boy.
The old fellow is well and rather alert, despite his eighty-six years.

Mr. Jim Smith, of Henry County, was Charlie's owner and according to
Charlie's version, "sho wuz a mighty good Marster". Mr. Smith owned a
large plantation, and also "around one hundred and fifty, to two hundred
Darkies". Charlie recalls that the slaves were well treated, seldom
"whupped", and never "onmercifully". "Ole Miss", too, [HW: was]
"powerful good" to the darkies, most especially to the "Chillun."

The old man related the following incident in proof of Miss Nancy's
goodness. About every two weeks "ole Miss" would have "ole Uncle Jim"
bake "a whole passel of ginger cakes and tote 'em down to the cabins and
jest pitch 'em out by de handfuls to de chillun!" The old man smiled
broadly as he concluded the ginger cake story and said, "Charlie allus
got his share. Miss Nancy seed to that, kase I wuz one of ole Miss's
best little darkies". The interviewer inquired as to how so many ginger
cakes could have been baked so easily, and he replied that "ole Marse"
had a big rock-oven down at the spring about like what they boil syrup
cane juice in today.

The slaves on "Marse Jim's" place were allowed about four holidays a
year, and a week at Christmas, to frolic. The amusements were dancing
("the break-down"), banjo playing, and quill blowing. Sometimes when the
"patarol" was in a good humor, he would take about twenty-five or thirty
"Niggers" and go fishing at night. This kind of fishing was mostly
seining, and usually "they got plenty o' fish".

Charlie, true to his race, is quite superstitious and on many occasions
"went into the cow lot on Christmas night and found the cows down on
their knees 'a-lowin". He also witnessed the "sun shoutin" on Christmas
morning and "made sho" to get up jest in time to see the sun as it first
"showed itself." Here Charlie did some very special gesticulating to

The Negroes were required to go to Church on Sunday. They called it
"gwine to meetin'", often leaving at sun up and walking ten or twelve
miles to the meeting house, staying all day and late into the night.

If "ole Marse" happened to be in a good humor on Sunday, he would let
the Darkies use the "waggins" and mules. The little "Niggers" never went
to meetin' as they were left at home to take care of the house and
"nuss" the babies. There were no Sunday Schools in those days. When the
grown folks got back late in the night, they often "had to do some tall
knocking and banging to get in the house--'cause the chillun were so
dead asleep, and layin' all over the floor".

When asked if the slaves wouldn't be awfully tired and sleepy the next
morning after they stayed up so late, he replied that they were "sho
tired" but they had better turn out at four o'clock when ole Marse
"blowed the horn!" They [TR: then?] he added with a chuckle, "the
field was usually strowed with Niggers asleep in the cotton rows when
they knocked off for dinner".

"No, Miss, the Marster never give us no money (here he laughed), for we
didn't need none. There wasn't nothing to buy, and we had plenty to eat
and wear".

"Yes, Mr. Jim and Miss Nancy believed in whuppin' and kep the raw hide
hanging by the back door, but none o' Mr. Jim's Niggers evah got beat
till dey bled".

Charlie Tye recalls vividly when the Yankees passed through and
graphically related the following incident. "The Yankees passed through
and caught "ole Marse" Jim and made him pull off his boots and run
bare-footed through a cane brake with half a bushel of potatoes tied
around his neck; then they made him put his boots back on and carried
him down to the mill and tied him to the water post. They were getting
ready to break his neck when one of Master's slaves, "ole Peter Smith",
asked them if they intended to kill "Marse Jim", and when they said
"Yes", Peter choked up and said, "Well, please, suh, let me die wid ole
Marse! Well, dem Yankees let ole Marse loose and left! Yes, Missy, dat's
de truf 'case I've heered my daddy tell it many's the time!"

Charlie is not working at all now as he is too old and is supported by
the Griffin Relief Association. For forty-five years he served as
janitor in the various public schools of Griffin.


286 Augusta Ave.
Athens, Georgia

Written by:
Miss Grace McCune
Research Worker
Federal Writers' Project
Athens, Georgia

Edited by:
Mrs. Sarah H. Hall
Federal Writers' Project
Athens, Georgia

WPA Residency No. 6
April 6, 1938

The cold, rainy, and altogether disagreeable weather on the outside was
soon forgotten when the interviewer was admitted to the neat little home
of Aunt Georgia Smith and found the old woman enjoying the cheerful
warmth of her blazing fire.

Aunt Georgia appeared to be quite feeble. She was not only willing, but
eager to talk of her experiences, and explained that her slow and rather
indistinct articulation is one of the several bad after effects of her
recent stroke of paralysis.

"My pappy was Blackstone Smith, and he b'longed to Marse Jeb Smith. My
mammy was Nancy Chappell, owned by Mistus Peggie Chappell.

"I stayed wid my mammy on Mistus Chappell's plantation in Oglethorpe
County, near old Antioch Church. W'en I was 'bout five or six years ole
my mammy died. Den my pappy done come an' got me, an' I was to stay wid
'im on Marster Smith's place. Dey was good to me dar, but I warn't
satisfied, an' I cried for Old Mistus.

"I'd jes' go 'roun' snifflin', an' not eatin' nuffin', an' one day w'en
us was pickin' peaches, Marster Smith tole my pappy he better take dat
chile back to her old mistus, 'fo' she done git sick fer sho'.

"Hit was de next day w'en dey ax me did I want to see Old Mistus an' I
jes' cry an' say, 'yassum.' Den Marster say: 'Blackstone, hitch a mule
to dat wagon, an' take dat chile right back to her Old Mistus.' I tell
'em I can walk, but dey made me ride in de wagon, an' I sho' was glad I
was goin' back home.

"I seed Old Mistus 'fo' I got dar, an' jumped out of de wagon an' run to
'er. W'en she seed me, she jes' grabbed me, an' I thought she was a
laughin', but when I seed dat she was cryin', I tole 'er not to cry, dat
I warn't goin' to leave 'er no mo'.

"Mistus sho' was good to me, but she was good to all 'er niggers, an'
dey all loved 'er. Us allus had plenny of evvything, she made us wear
plenny of good warm clo'es, an' us wo'e flannel petticoats when hit was
cole weather. Chillun don't wear 'nuff clo'es dese days to keep 'em
warm, an nuffin' on deir legs. Hits a wonder dey doan' freeze.

"I diden' stay at de quarters with de udder niggers. Mistus kep' me in
de big 'ouse wid 'er, an' I slep' on a cotton mattress on de floor by de
side of 'er bed. She had a stick dat she used to punch me wid w'en she
wannid somepin' in de night, an' effen I was hard to wake, she sho'
could punch wid dat stick.

"Mistus diden' ever have us niggers whipped 'lessen it jes' had to be
done. An' if us chilluns was bad, fussin' an' fightin', Mistus would git
'er a stick, but us would jes' run an' hide, an' Mistus would forgit all
'bout it in jes' a little w'ile.

"Marster was dead, an' us had a overseer, but he was good to us jes'
lak' Mistus was. Hit was a big old plantation, wid lots of niggers. W'en
de overseer would try to larn de chilluns to plow an' dey diden' want to
larn, dey would jes' play 'roun'. Sometimes dey snuck off to de udder
side of de fiel' an' hunnid for lizards. Dey would hold a lizard's head
wid a stick, an' spit 'bacco juice in 'is mouf an' turn 'im loose. De
'bacco juice would make de lizard drunk, and he would run 'roun' an'
'roun'. Dey would cotch snakes, kill dem an' hang de skins on trees so
hit would rain an' dey wouldn't have to wuk in de fiel'.

"De quarters was built away f'um de big 'ouse. Dey was cabins made of
logs an' dey all had dey own gardens whar dey raised all kinds of
vegetables an' allus had plenny of hog meat. De cookin' was done on a
big fireplace an' in brick ovens. 'Taters was baked in de ashes, an' dey
sho' was good.

"Dey had big times huntin' an' fishin' w'en de wuk was over. Dey cotch
lots of 'possums, an' had big 'possum suppers. De 'possums was roasted
with plenny of 'taters, butter an' red pepper. Us would eat an' dance
most of de night w'en us had a 'possum supper.

"De rabbits was so bad in de gardens dat dey tuk white rags an' tied 'em
on sticks stuck up in de ground. Rabbits woulden' come 'roun' den, cyaze
dey was 'fraid of dem white rags flyin' on de sticks.

"Mistus b'lieved in lookin' atter her niggers w'en dey was sick. She
would give 'em medicine at home. Candy an' tea, made wid ho'e houn' an'
butterfly root tea was good for worms; dewberry wine, lak'wise dewberry
root tea was good for de stomach ache; samson snake root an' poplar bark
tea was good medicine for coles an' so'e th'oats, an' w'en you was in
pain, de red pepper bag would sho' help lots sometimes. If de homemade
medicine diden' cyore 'em, den Mistus sont for de doctor.

"Slaves went to de white folkses chu'ch an' sot up in de gallery. Dey
stayed all day at chu'ch, an' had big dinners on de groun'. Dem was sho'
'nough good dinners. Us had big times on meetin' days.

"Our slaves had prayer meetin' twict a week in deir quarters, 'til dey
got 'roun' to all de cabins den dey would start over again. Dey prayed
an' sung all de old songs, and some of 'em as I 'member are: 'Roll
Jordan Roll,'--'Better Mind How you Step on de Cross,'--'Cause You Ain'
Gon 'er be Here Long,'--'Tell de Story Bye an' Bye,'--'All God's
Chilluns are a Gatherin' Home,' an' 'We'll Understand Better Bye an'
Bye.' Dey really could sing dem old songs. Mistus would let me go to dem
cabin prayer meetin's an' I sho' did enjoy 'em.

"W'en slaves died dey jes' tuk 'em off an buried 'em. I doan' 'member
'em ever havin' a funeral, 'til way atter freedom done come an' niggers
got dey own chu'ches.

"I 'member one night dey had a quiltin' in de quarters. De quilt was up
in de frame, an' dey was all jes' quiltin' an' singin', 'All God's
Chilluns are a Gatherin' Home,' w'en a drunk man wannid to preach, an'
he jumped up on de quilt. Hit all fell down on de flo', an' dey all got
fightin' mad at 'im. Dey locked 'im in de smokehouse 'til mornin', but
dey diden' nobody tell Mistus nuffin' 'bout it.

"Us chilluns had to pick peas; two baskets full 'fo' dinner an' two 'fo'
night, an' dey was big baskets too. I 'member dere was a white widow
'oman what lived near our place, an' she had two boys. Mistus let dem
boys pick 'em some peas w'en us would be pickin', an' us would run 'em
off, cause us diden' lak' po' white trash. But Mistus made us let 'em
pick all dey wannid.

"I was 'bout twelve years old w'en freedom come, an' was big 'nough to
wait on Mistus good den. I 'member how I used to run to de spring wid a
little tin bucket w'en she wannid a fresh drink of water.

"Mos' of de slaves stayed with Mistus atter freedom come, 'cause dey all
loved her, an' dey diden' have no place to go. Mistus fed 'em jes' lak'
she had allus done and paid 'em a little money too. Us diden' never have
no fussin' an' fightin' on our place, an' de Ku Klux Klan never come
'roun' dar, but de niggers had to have a ticket if dey lef' de place on
Sunday. Dat was so de paddyrollers woulden' whip 'em if dey cotch 'em.

"All de niggers on de udder places, called us free niggers long 'fo'
freedom come, 'cause we diden' have no whippin' post, an' if any of us
jes' had to be whipped, Mistus would see dat dey warn't beat bad 'nough
to leave no stripes.

"My pappy left de old Smith plantation, soon atter he got 'is freedom,
an' went to Augusta, Georgia whar he died in jes' 'bout two years.

"I waked up one mornin' an' heered Mistus makin' a funny fuss. She was
tryin' to git up an' pullin' at her gown. I was plum skeert an' I runned
atter some of de udder folkses. Dey come a runnin' but she never did
speak no mo', an' diden' live but jes' a few hours longer. De white
folkses made me go to 'er funeral. Dere sho' was a big crowd of folkses
dar, 'cause evvybody loved Mistus; she was so good to evvybody. Dey
diden' preach long, mos'ly jes' prayed an' sung Mistus' favorite songs:
'All God's Chillun are a Gatherin' Home,' and', 'We'll Understand Bye
an' Bye.'

"I lef' de old place not long atter Mistus died, 'cause hit was too
lonesome dar an' I missed her so much, I come to town an' jes' wukked
for white folkses. I doan' 'member all of 'em. But I cain' wuk no mo'
now, an' hit woan' be so long 'til I see my old Mistus again, an' den I
can still wait on her, an' we woan' have to part no mo'."

[HW: Dist. 2
Ex Slave 101]

910 Spruce Street
Augusta, Georgia
(Richmond County)

BY: (Mrs.) Margaret Johnson
Fed. Writer's Proj.
Augusta, Georgia
[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

Such a hovel, such squalor it would be hard to imagine. Only first hand
observation could be a reliable witness to such conditions.

Into a tiny room was squeezed a double and a single bed with a
passage-way barely wide enough to walk between the two beds. The door
from the small porch could be opened only enough to allow one to enter,
as the head on the single bed was against it. A small fire burned in the
open fire place. An old man, ragged but respectful, and two old women
were sitting in the room, one on a broken chair, the other on an empty
nail keg. As we entered the room one of the old women got up, took a
badly clipped and handleless teacup from the hearth and offered it to a
girl lying in the single bed, in a smother of dirty quilts.

Mary was a squat figure, her head tied up in a dirty towel, her dress
ragged and dirty, and much too small for her abundant figure. She
welcomed us telling us the "po chile was bad sick" but she would talk to
us. As the door of the lean-to kitchen was open, it offered a breath of
outside air, even though polluted with the garbage scattered on the
ground, and the odors from chickens, cats and dogs meandering about.

Mary's round face was unwrinkled, but the wisps of wool showing beneath
her "head rag" were grey, and her eyes were rheumy with age. She was
entirely toothless and her large tongue rolled ceaselessly in her mouth,
chewing nothing.

Her articulation necessarily was very poor. "I wus seven yeres old when
Freedum cum. My ma and pa belonged to Mr. McNorrell of Burke County.
Miss Sally was a good lady and kind to evebody. My marster was a good
man cuz he was a preacher, I never member him whuppin' anybody. I
'members slavry, yes mam, I 'members all the slaves' meals wus cooked in
de yard, in big pots hung up on hooks on a iron bar. The fust wurk I
ever done wus to push fire wood under dem pots. Mostly I stayed home and
minded de baby. My ma uster pin a piece of fat back on my dres' before
she went to de fiel' and when de baby cry I tek him up and let 'em suck
'em. My brudder you see sittin' in dere, he de baby I uster mine. My pa
wuz the blacksmith on the plantashun, and he mek all de plows and tings
like dat. My ma tek me to de fiel when I wuz 'bout sever yeres ole and
teach me to chop cotton, I don't member what happen when freedom come,
tings wuz 'bout de same, fur as we chillun knowed."

Elizabeth Watson
M.G. 7/15/37

MELVIN SMITH, Ex-Slave, 96 Years
[Date Stamp: JUL 28 1937]

"Yes'm, I show does 'member all 'about my white folks an' th' war 'cause
I was twenty-four year ole when th' war was over. I was born in 1841 an'
that makes me 'bout eighty-seven now, don't it?"

Old Melvin Smith sat back in his chair with a smile of satisfaction on
his face. He was seated on the narrow porch of his little cabin with the
bright sunshine beaming down upon him. But his blind eyes could not
notice the glare from the sun. His wife and daughter appeared from
around the corner of the house and took their places near him to hear
again the story that they had heard many times before.

"My white folks lived in Beaufort, South Ca'lina, an' that's whar I was
born," Melvin continued. "My old Miss, I called her Miss Mary, took care
of me 'till I was eight year old. Then she give me back to my ma. You
see, it was this a-way. My ma an' pa was sold in Beaufort; I don't know
whar they come from before that. When I was born Miss Mary took me in
th' big house with her an' thar I stayed, jest like I told you, 'till I
was eight. Old Miss jest wanted me to be in th' room with her an' I
slep' on a pallet right near her bed. In the daytime I played in th'
yard an' I pick up chips for old Miss. Then when I got most big enuff to
work she give me back to my ma.

"Then I live in a cabin like the rest of th' niggers. Th' quarters was
stretched out in a line behind Marse Jim's house. Ever' nigger fam'ly
had a house to theyselves. Me an' my pa an' ma, they names was Nancy an'
Henry Smith, live in a cabin with my sisters. They names was Saphronia
an' Annie. We had beds in them cabins made out of cypress. They looked
jest like they do now. Ever'body cooked on th' fire place. They had pots
an' boilers that hung over th' fire an' we put th' vittles in thar an'
they cooked an' we et 'em. 'Course we never et so much in th' cabin
'cause ever mornin' th' folks all went to th' field. Ma an' Pa was field
hands an' I worked thar too when I got big enuff. Saphronia an' Annie,
they worked to th' big house. All th' nigger chillun stayed all day with
a woman that was hired to take care of them."

When asked about the kind of food they ate, Melvin replied:

"We had enuff for anybody. Th' vittles was cooked in great big pots over
th' fire jest like they was cookin' for stock. Peas in this pot, greens
in that one. Corn-bread was made up an' put back in th' husks an' cooked
in th' ashes. They called that a ash cake. Well, when ever'thing was
done th' vittles was poured in a trough an' we all et. We had spoons cut
out of wood that we et with. Thar was a big lake on th' plantation whar
we could fish an' they show was good when we had 'em for supper.
Sometimes we go huntin' an' then we had possum an' squirrel to eat. Th'
possums was best of all."

Melvin was asked to tell something about his master's family.

"Old Marster was name Jim Farrell an' his wife was Miss Mary. They had
three chillun name Mary, Jim an' Martha. They live in a big white house
sot off from th' road 'bout two an' a half mile from Beaufort. Marster
was rich I reckon 'cause he had 'bout a sixteen horse farm an' a whole
hoodle of niggers. If you measured 'em it would a-been several cowpens
full. Heap of them niggers worked in Marster's house to wait on th'
white folks. They had a heap of comp'ny so they had to have a heap of
niggers. Marster was good to his niggers but he had a overseer that was
a mean man. He beat th' niggers so bad that Marster showed him th' road
an' told him to git. Then th' Boss an' his son looked after th' hands
theyselves 'till they could git another one. That overseer's name was

"Ever' mornin' at four clock th' overseer blowed a conchshell an' all us
niggers knowed it was time to git up an' go to work. Sometimes he blowed
a bugle that'd wake up the nation. Ever'body worked from sunup 'till
sundown. If we didn't git up when we was s'posed to we got a beatin'.
Marster'd make 'em beat the part that couldn't be bought." Melvin
chuckled at his own sly way of saying that the slaves were whipped
through their clothes.

"In the summertime," he continued, "We wore shirts that come down to
here." Melvin measured to his ankle. "In the wintertime we wore heavy
jeans over them shirts an' brogan shoes. They made shoes on the
plantation but mine was store-bought. Marster give us all the vittles
an' clothes we needed. He was good to ever'body. I 'member all the po'
white trash that lived near us. Marster all time send 'em meat an' bread
an' help 'em with they crop. Some of 'em come from Goldsboro, North
Ca'lina to git a crop whar we lived. They was so sorry they couldn't git
no crop whar they come frum, so they moved near us. Sometimes they even
come to see the niggers an' et with us. We went to see them, too, but we
had more to eat than them. They was sorry folks."

After a pause, Melvin asked:

"Did you ever hear how the niggers was sold? They was put on a stage on
the courthouse square an' sold kinder like they was stock. The prettiest
one got the biggest bid. They said that they was a market in North
Ca'lina but I never see'd it. The ones I saw was jest sold like I told
you. Then they went home with they marsters. If they tried to run away
they sont the hounds after them. Them dogs would sniff around an' first
news you knowed they caught them niggers. Marster's niggers run away
some but they always come back. They'd hear that they could have a
better time up north so they think they try it. But they found out that
they wasn't no easy way to live away from Marster. He always took 'em
back, didn't beat 'em nor nothin'. I run away once myself but I never
went nowhere." Melvin's long body shook with laughter as he thought of
his prank. He shifted in his chair and then began:

"I was 'bout sixteen an' I took a notion I was grown. So I got under the
house right under Marster's dinin' room an' thar I stayed for three
months. Nobody but the cook knowed whar I was. They was a hole cut in
the floor so ever' day she lifted the lid an' give me something to eat.
Ever' day I sneaked out an' got some water an' walked about a bit but I
never let nobody see me. I jest got biggety like chillun does now. When
I got ready to come out for good I went 'way round by the barn an' come
up so nobody know whar I been. Ol' Miss was standin' in the yard an' she
spy me an' say, 'Jim," she always call all us niggers Jim 'cause that
was Marster's name. She say, "Jim, whar you been so long?' I say, 'I
been to Mr. Jones's workin' but I don't like the way they treat me. You
all treats me better over here so I come back home.' I say, 'You ain't
gonna whip me is you, Miss?' Ol' Miss say, 'No, I ain't gonna whip you
this time but if you do such a thing again I'm gonna use all the leather
on this place on you." So I went on 'bout my business an' they never
bothered me."

Melvin was asked about the church he attended. To this he replied:

"The niggers had a church in the bush arbor right thar on the place.
Preacher Sam Bell come ever' Sunday mornin' at ten clock an' we sot thar
an' listened to him 'till 'leven thirty. Then we tear home an' eat our
dinner an' lie round till four-thirty. We'd go back to church an' stay
'bout hour an' come home for supper. The preacher was the onliest one
that could read the Bible. When a nigger joined the church he was
baptized in the creek near the bush arbor." And in a low tone he began
to speak the words of the old song though he became somewhat confused.

  "Lord, remember all Thy dying groans,
     And then remember me.
   While others fought to win the prize
     And sailed through bloody sea.

  "Through many dangers, toils an' snares,
     I have already come.
   I once was lost but now am found,
     Was blind but now I see."

"I've knowed that song for a long time. I been a member of the church
for sixty year."

When asked about the war, Melvin became somewhat excited. He rose feebly
to his feet and clasped his walking stick as if it were a gun.

"I see'd the Yankee soldiers drill right thar in front of our house," he
said. "They'd be marchin' 'long this way (Melvin stumblingly took a few
steps across the porch) an' the cap'n say, 'Right' an' they turn back
this here way." Melvin retraced his steps to illustrate his words.
"Cap'n say, 'Aim' an' they aim." He lifted his stick and aimed. "Cap'n
say, 'Fire' an' they fire. I see'd 'em most ever' day. Ol' Marster was a
cap'n in our army. I hear big guns a-boomin' all a-time an' the sights I
did see! Streets jest runnin' with blood jest like it was water. Here
lay a man on this side with his legs shot off; on that thar side they
was a man with his arms shot off. Some of them never had no head. It was
a terrible sight. I wasn't scared 'cause I knowed they wouldn't hurt me.
Them Yankees never bothered nothin' we had. I hear some folks say that
they stole they vittles but they never bothered ours 'cause they had
plenty of they own. After the war Marster called us together an' say,
'You is free an' can go if you want to' an' I left, so that's all I

A few days later a second visit was made to Melvin. This time he was on
the inside of his little cabin and was all alone. He came forward, a
broad smile on his face, when he heard familiar voices.

"I been thinkin' 'bout what I told you an' I b'lieve that's 'bout all I
'member," he said.

Then he was asked if he remembered any days when the slaves did not have
to work.

"Yes'm," was the reply. "We never worked on Christmas or the Fourth of
July. Marster always give us big sacks of fruit an' candy on Christmas
an' a barbecue the Fourth of July. We never worked none New Year's Day,
neither. We jest sot around an' et chicken, fish an' biscuit. Durin' the
week on Wednesday an' Thursday night we had dances an' then they was a
lot of fiddlin' an' banjo playin'. We was glad to see days when we never
had to work 'cause then we could sleep. It seem like the niggers had to
git up soon's they lay down. Marster was good to us but the overseer was
mean. He wan't no po' white trash; he was up-to-date but he like to beat
on niggers."

When asked if he has been happier since he was freed, he replied:

"In a sense the niggers is better off since freedom come. Ol' Marster
was good an' kind but I like to be free to go whar I please. Back then
we couldn't go nowhar 'less we had a pass. We don't have no overseer to
bother us now. It ain't that I didn't love my Marster but I jest likes
to be free. Jest as soon as Marster said I didn't b'long to nobody no
more I left an' went to Tallahassee. Mr. Charlie Pearce come an' wanted
some hands to work in orange groves an' fish for him so that's what I
done. He took a whole crew. While we was down thar Miss Carrie Standard,
a white lady, had a school for the colored folks. 'Course, my ol' Miss
had done taught me to read an' write out of the old blue back Webster
but I had done forgot how. Miss Carrie had 'bout fifteen in her class.

"I stayed in Tallahassee three years an' that's whar I married the first
time. I was jest romancin' about an' happened to see Ca'line Harris so I
married her. That was a year after the war. We never had no preacher but
after we been goin' together for such a long time folks say we married.
We married jest like the colored folks does now. When I left Tallahassee
I moved to another place in Florida, thirteen mile from Thomasville, Ga.
I stay thar 'bout thirty-seven year. My first wife died an' I married
another. The second one lived twenty-one year an' I married again. The
one what's livin' now is my third one. In 1905 she had a baby that was
born with two lower teeth. It never lived but a year. In all, I've had
twenty-three chillun. They most all lives in Florida an' I don't know
what they doin' or how many chillun they got. I got four gran'-chillun
livin' here."

Melvin was asked to tell what he knew of the Ku Klux Klan. He answered:

"I don't know nothin' 'bout that, I hear somethin' 'bout it but I never
b'lieved in it. I b'lieve in h'ants, though. I ain't never see'd one but
I'se heard 'em. When you walkin' 'long an' a twig snaps an' you feel
like you want to run an' your legs won't move an' your hair feels like
it's goin' to rise off your head, that's a ha'nt after you. That sho is
the evil sperrit. An' if you ain't good somethin' bad'll happen to you."

When asked why he joined the church, he replied:

"So many people is tryin' to live on flowery beds of ease that the world
is in a gamblin' position an' if it wasn't for the Christian part, the
world would be destroyed. They ask God for mercy an' He grants it. When
they git in trouble they can send a telegram wire an' git relief from on

PLANTATION LIFE as viewed by Ex-Slave

NANCY SMITH, Age about 80
129 Plum Street
Athens, Georgia

Written by:
Grace McCune

Edited by:
Sarah H. Hall

John N. Booth
District Supervisor
Federal Writers' Project
Residencies 6 & 7

Nancy Smith was in bed when the interviewer called. The aged Negress
appeared to be quite feeble but, even though she was alone in the house,
her head was tied up in a snowy white cloth and the sickroom was neat
and clean. The bowl of fresh flowers on her bedside table was no gayer
than Nancy's cheerful chuckle as she repeated the doctor's instructions
that she must stay in bed because of a weak heart. "Lawsy Chile," she
said, "I ain't dead yit." Nancy stated that the grandson who lives with
her has been preparing breakfast and cleaning the room since she has
been bedridden, and that a niece who lives nearby comes in occasionally
during the day to look after her.

Asked if she felt strong enough to talk about the old plantation days,
she answered: "I jus' loves to talk 'bout old times, and I spends a lot
of dis lonesome time here by myself jus' a-studyin' 'bout dem days. But
now listen, Chile, and understand dis. I warn't no plantation Negro. Our
white folks was town folks, dey was. My Mammy and Daddy was Julia and
Jack Carlton. Dey belonged to old Marster, Dr. Joe Carlton, and us lived
right here in town in a big white house dat had a upstairs and a
downstairs in it. Our house stood right whar de courthouse is now.
Marster had all dat square and his mother, Mist'ess Bessie Carlton,
lived on de square de other side of Marse Joe's. His office was on de
corner whar de Georgia (Georgian) Hotel is now, and his hoss stable was
right whar da Cain's boardin' house is. Honey, you jus' ought to have
seed Marse Joe's hoss stable for it sho' was a big one.

"No Mam, I don't know 'zactly how old I is. I was born 'fore de war, and
Marse Joe kept de records of all of us and evvything, but somehow dem
books got lost. Folks said I was 'bout de age of Marse Joe's son, Dr.
Willie. Marster had three boys: Dr. Joe, Jr., Dr. Willie, and Dr.
Jimmie, and dere was one little Mist'ess. She was Miss Julia. Us all
played 'round in de yard together.

"Daddy, he was de car'iage driver. He driv Marse Joe 'round, 'cept when
Mist'ess wanted to go somewhar. Den Daddy driv de coach for her, and
Marse Joe let another boy go wid him.

"De biggest, bestest fireplace up at de big house was in de kitchen whar
Mammy done de cookin'. It had a great wide hearth wid four big swingin'
racks and four big old pots. Two of de ovens was big and two was little.
Dat was better cookin' 'rangements and fixin's dan most of de other
white folks in dis town had den. When dat fire got good and hot and dere
was plenty of ashes, den Mammy started cookin' ash cakes and 'taters.
One of Mammy's good ash-roasted 'taters would be awful good right now
wid some of dat good old home-made butter to go wid it. Marster allus
kept jus' barrels and barrels of good old home-made 'lasses sirup,
'cause he said dat was what made slave chilluns grow fast and be strong.
Folks don't know how to have plenty of good things to eat lak us had
den. Jus' think of Marse Joe's big old plantation down nigh de Georgia
Railroad whar he raised our somepin' t'eat: vegetables sich as green
corn, 'taters, cabbages, onions, collards, turnip greens, beans,
peas--more than I could think up all day--and dere was plenty of wheat,
rye, and corn for our bread.

"Out dar de pastur's was full of cows, hogs and sheep, and dey raised
lots of chickens and turkeys on dat farm. Dey clipped wool from dem
sheep to weave wid de cotton when dey made cloth for our winter clothes.

"Marster had a overseer to look atter his plantation, but us chillun in
town sho'ly did love to be 'lowed to go wid him or whoever went out dar
when dey needed somepin' at de big house from de farm. Dey needed us to
open and shut gates and run errands, and whilest dey was gittin' up what
was to be took back to town, us would run 'round seein' evvything us

"Honey, de clothes us wore den warn' t lak what folks has now. Little
gals jus' wore slips cut all in one piece, and boys didn't wear nothin'
but long shirts 'til dey was big enough to wuk in de fields. Dat was
summertime clothes. In winter, dey give us plenty of warm clothes wid
flannel petticoats and brass-toed shoes. Grown-up Negroes had dresses
what was made wid waisties and skirts sewed together. Dey had a few
gathers in de skirts, but not many. De men wore homespun britches wid
galluses to hold 'em up. White folks had lots better clothes. Mist'ess'
dresses had full, ruffled skirts and, no foolin', her clothes was sho'ly
pretty. De white menfolks wore plain britches, but dey had bright
colored coats and silk vests dat warn't lak de vests de men wears now.
Dem vests was more lak fancy coats dat didn't have no sleeves. Some
folks called 'em 'wescoats.' White chillun never had no special clothes
for Sunday.

"Miss Julia used to make me sweep de yard wid a little brushbroom and I
had to wear a bonnet den to keep dust out of my hair. Dat bonnet was
ruffled 'round de front and had staves to hold de brim stiff, but in de
back it didn't have no ruffle; jus' de bottom of de crown what us called
de bonnet tail. Dem bonnets looked good enough in front but mighty
bob-tailed in de back.

"Dey used to have big 'tracted meetin's in Pierce's Chapel nigh Foundry
Street and Hancock Avenue, and us was allus glad for dem meetin' times
to come. Through de week dey preached at night, but when Sunday come it
was all day long and dinner on de ground. Pierce's Chapel was a old
fashioned place, but you forgot all 'bout dat when Brother Thomas got in
de pulpit and preached dem old time sermons 'bout how de devil gwine to
git you if you don't repent and be washed in de blood of de Lamb. De
call to come up to de mourner's bench brought dem Negroes jus' rollin'
over one another in de 'citement. Soon dey got happy and dere was
shoutin' all over de place. Some of 'em jus' fell out. When de 'tracted
meetin' closed and de baptizin' dey come, dat was de happiest time of
all. Most of de time dere was a big crowd for Brother Thomas to lead
down into de river, and dem Negroes riz up out of de water a-singin':
_Lord, I'm comin' Home_, _Whar de Healin' Waters Flow_, _Roll, Jordan
Roll_, _All God's Chillun Got Wings_, and sich lak. You jus' knowed dey
was happy.

"No Mam, I don't 'member much 'bout folks dyin' in dem days 'cause I
never did love to go 'round dead folks. De first corpse I ever seed was
Marse Joe's boy, young Marse Jimmy. I was skeered to go in dat room 'til
I had done seed him so peaceful lak and still in dat pretty white
casket. It was a sho' 'nough casket, a mighty nice one; not lak dem old
home-made coffins most folks was buried in. Hamp Thomas, a colored man
dat lived right below us, made coffins for white folks and slaves too.
Some of dem coffins was right nice. Dey was made out of pine mostly, and
sometimes he painted 'em and put a nice linin' over cotton paddin'. Dat
made 'em look better dan de rough boxes de porest folks was buried in.
Mammy said dat when slaves died out on de plantation day wropped de
'omans in windin' sheets and laid 'em on coolin' boards 'til de coffins
was made, Dey put a suit of homespun clothes on de mens when dey laid
'em out. Dey jus' had a prayer when dey buried plantation slaves, but
when de crops was laid by, maybe a long time atter de burial, dey would
have a white man come preach a fun'ral sermon and de folks would all
sing: _Harps (Hark) From De Tomb_ and _Callin' God's Chillun Home_.

"Dere warn't no patterollers in town, but slaves had to have passes if
dey was out atter 9:00 o'clock at night or de town marshal would put a
fine on 'em if dey couldn't show no pass.

"De fust I knowed 'bout de war was when Marse Joe's brother, Marse
Bennie Carlton, left wid de other sojers and pretty soon he got kilt. I
was little den, and it was de fust time I had ever seed our Mist'ess
cry. She jus' walked up and down in de yard a-wringin' her hands and
cryin'. 'Poor Benny's been killed,' she would say over and over.

"When dem yankee sojers come, us warn't much skeered 'cause Marse Joe
had done told us all 'bout 'em and said to spect 'em 'fore long. Sho'
'nough, one day dey come a-lopin' up in Marse Joe's yard. Dey had dem
old blue uniforms on and evvy one of 'em had a tin can and a sack tied
to his saddle. Marster told us dey kept drinkin' water in dem cans and
dey called 'em canteens. De sacks was to carry deir victuals in. Dem
fellows went all through out big house and stole whatever dey wanted.
Dey got all of Mist'ess' best silver 'cause us didn't have no time to
hide it atter us knowed dey was nigh 'round de place. Dey tuk all de
somepin' t'eat dere was in de big house. When dey had done et all dey
wanted and tuk evvything else dey could carry off, dey called us Negroes
up 'fore deir captain, and he said all of us was free and could go any
time and anywhar us wanted to go. Dey left, and us never seed 'em in dat
yard no more. Marse Joe said all of us dat wanted to could stay on wid
him. None of us had nowhar else to go and 'sides nobody wanted to go
nowhar else, so evvy one of Marse Joe's Negroes stayed right on wid him
dat next year. Us warn't skeered of dem Kluxers (Ku Klux Klan) here in
town, but dey was right bad out on de plantations.

"'Bout de time I was old enough to go to school, Daddy moved away from
Marse Joe's. Us went over to de other side of de river nigh whar de old
check mill is. Dey had made guns dar durin' de war, and us chillun used
to go and look all through dat old mill house. Us played 'long de river
banks and went swimmin' in de river. Dem was de good old days, but us
never realized it den.

"I never went to school much, 'cause I jus' couldn't seem to larn
nothin'. Our teachers said I didn't have no talent for book larnin'.
School was taught in Pierce's Chapel by a Negro man named Randolph, and
he sho'ly did make kids toe da mark. You had better know dem lessons or
you was gwine to git fanned out and have to stay in atter school. Us got
out of school evvy day at 2:00 o'clock. Dat was 'cause us was town
chillun. I was glad I didn't live in de country 'cause country schools
kept de chillun all day long.

"It was sort of funny to be able to walk out and go in town whenever us
wanted to widout gittin' Marster's consent, but dere warn't nothin' much
to go to town for 'less you wanted to buy somepin. A few stores, mostly
on Broad Street, de Town Hall, and de Fire Hall was de places us headed
for. Us did love to hang 'round whar dat fire engine was, 'cause when a
fire broke out evvybody went, jus' evvybody. Folks would form lines from
de nearest cisterns and wells and pass dem buckets of water on from one
to another 'til dey got to de man nighest de fire.

"Soon as I was big enough, I went to wuk for white folks. Dey never paid
me much in cash money, but things was so much cheaper dan now dat you
could take a little cash and buy lots of things. I wukked a long time
for a yankee fambly named Palmer dat lived on Oconee Street right below
de old Michael house, jus' 'fore you go down de hill. Dey had two or
three chillun and I ain't never gwine to forgit de day dat little Miss
Eunice was runnin' and playin' in de kitchen and fell 'gainst de hot
stove. All of us was skeered most to death 'cause it did seem den lak
her face was plumb ruint, and for days folks was 'most sho' she was
gwine to die. Atter a long, long time Miss Eunice got well and growed up
to be a fine school teacher. Some of dem scars still shows on her face.

"Me and Sam Smith got married when I was 17. No Chile, us didn't waste
no money on a big weddin' but I did have a right pretty weddin' dress.
It was nice and new and was made out of white silk. My sister was
a-cookin' for Mrs. White at dat time, and dey had a fine two-room
kitchen in de back yard set off from de big house. My sister lived in
one of dem rooms and cooked for de Whites in de other one. Mrs. White
let us git married in her nice big kitchen and all de white folks come
out from de big house to see Brother Thomas tie de knot for us. Den me
and Sam built dis very same house whar you is a-settin', and I done been
livin' here ever since.

"Us was livin' right here when dey put on dem fust new streetcars.
Little bitty mules pulled 'em 'long and sometimes dey had a right hard
time draggin' dem big old cars through mud and bad weather. Now and den
day got too frisky and run away; dat was when dem cars would rock and
roll and you wished you could git off and walk. Most of de time dem
little mules done good and us was jus' crazy 'bout ridin' on de

When Nancy tired of talking she tactfully remarked: "I spects I better
git quiet and rest now lak de doctor ordered, but I'm mighty glad you
come, and I hopes you'll be back again 'fore long. Most folks don't take
up no time wid old wore-out Negroes. Good-bye, Missy."


660 W. Hancock Avenue
Athens, Georgia

Written by:
Miss Grace McCune

Edited by:
Mrs. Sarah H. Hall

John N. Booth
District Supervisor
Federal Writers' Project
Residencies 6 & 7
Augusta Georgia

September 2, 1938

Large pecan trees shaded the small, well-kept yard that led to Nellie
Smith's five-room frame house. The front porch of her white cottage was
almost obscured by a white cloud of fragrant clematis in full blossom,
and the yard was filled with roses and other flowers.

A small mulatto woman sat in the porch swing, a walking stick across her
lap. Her straight, white hair was done in a prim coil low on the neck,
and her print dress and white apron were clean and neat. In answer to
the visitor's inquiry, she smiled and said: "This is Nellie Smith. Won't
you come in out of the hot sun? I just knows you is plumb tuckered out.
Walkin' around in this hot weather is goin' to make you sick if you
don't be mighty careful.

"'Scuse me for not gittin' up. I can't hardly make it by myself since I
fell and got hurt so bad. My arm was broke and it looks lak my old back
never will stop hurtin' no more. Our doctor says I'll have to stay
bandaged up this way two or three weeks longer, but I 'spects that's on
account of my age. You know old folks' bones don't knit and heal quick
lak young folks' and, jus' let me tell you, I've done been around here a
mighty long time. Are you comfortable, Child? Wouldn't you lak to have a
glass of water? I'll call my daughter; she's back in the kitchen."

Nellie rapped heavily on the floor with her walking stick, and a tall,
stout, mulatto in a freshly laundered house frock made her appearance.
"This is my daughter, Amanda," said Nellie, and, addressing her
off-spring, she continued: "Bring this lady a drink of water. She needs
it after walkin' 'way out here in this hot sun." Ice tinkled in the
glass that the smiling Amanda offered as she inquired solicitously if
there was anything else she could do. Amanda soon went back to her work
and Nellie began her narrative.

"Lordy, Honey, them days when I was a child, is so far back that I don't
s'pect I can 'member much 'bout 'em. I does love to talk about them
times, but there ain't many folks what keers anything 'bout listening to
us old folks these days. If you don't mind we'll go to my room where
it'll be more comfortable." Amanda appeared again, helped Nellie to her
room, and placed her in a large chair with pillows to support the broken
arm. Amanda laughed happily when she noticed her mother's enthusiasm for
the opportunity to relate her life story. "Mother likes that," she said,
"and I'm so glad you asked her to talk about those old times she thinks
so much about. I'll be right back in the kitchen ironing; if you want
anything, just call me."

Nellie now began again: "I was born right near where the Coordinate
College is now; it was the old Weir place then. I don't know nothin'
'bout my Daddy, but my Mother's name was Harriet Weir, and she was owned
by Marster Jack Weir. He had a great big old plantation then and the
homeplace is still standin', but it has been improved and changed so
much that it don't look lak the same house. As Marse Jack's sons married
off he give each one of 'em a home and two slaves, but he never did sell
none of his slaves, and he told them boys they better not never sell
none neither.

"Slaves slept in log cabins what had rock chimblies at the end. The
rocks was put together with red clay. All the slaves was fed at the big
house kitchen. The fireplace, where they done the cookin', was so big it
went 'most across one end of that big old kitchen. It had long swingin'
cranes to hang the pots on, and there was so many folks to cook for at
one time that often there was five or six pots over the fire at the same
time. Them pots was large too--not lak the little cookin' vessels we use
these days. For the bakin', they had all sizes of ovens. Now Child, let
me tell you, that was good eatin'. Folks don't take time enough to cook
right now; They are always in too big a hurry to be doin' something else
and don't cook things long enough. Back in dem days they put the
vegetables on to cook early in the mornin' and biled 'em 'til they was
good and done. The biggest diffunce I see is that folks didn't git sick
and stay sick with stomach troubles then half as much as they does now.
When my grandma took a roast out of one of them old ovens it would be
brown and juicy, with lots of rich, brown gravy. Sweet potatoes baked
and browned in the pan with it would taste mighty fine too. With some of
her good biscuits, that roast meat, brown gravy, and potatoes, you had
food good enough for anybody. I just wish I could taste some more of it
one more time before I die.

"Why, Child, two of the best cake-makers I ever knew used them old ovens
for bakin' the finest kinds of pound cakes and fruit cakes, and evvybody
knows them cakes was the hardest kinds to bake we had in them days. Aunt
Betsey Cole was a great cake-baker then. She belonged to the Hulls, what
lived off down below here somewhere but, when there was to be a big
weddin' or some 'specially important dinner in Athens, folks 'most
always sent for Aunt Betsey to bake the cakes. Aunt Laura McCrary was a
great cake-maker too; she baked the cake for President Taft when he was
entertained at Mrs. Maggie Welch's home here.

"In them days you didn't have to be runnin' to the store evvy time you
wanted to cook a extra good meal; folks raised evvything they needed
right there at home. They had all the kinds of vegetables they knowed
about then in their own gardens, and there was big fields of corn, rye,
and wheat. Evvy big plantation raised its own cows for plenty of milk
and butter, as well as lots of beef cattle, hogs, goats, and sheep.
'Most all of 'em had droves of chickens, geese, and turkeys, and on our
place there were lots of peafowls. When it was goin' to rain them old
peafowls set up a big holler. I never knew rain to fail after them
peafowls started their racket.

"All our clothes and shoes was home-made, and I mean by that they growed
the cotton, wool, and cattle and made the cloth and leather on the
plantation. Summer clothes was made of cotton homespun, and cotton and
wool was wove together for winter clothin'. Marse Jack owned a man what
he kept there to do nothin' but make shoes. He had another slave to do
all the carpenterin' and to make all the coffins for the folks that died
on the plantation. That same carpenter made 'most all the beds the white
folks and us slaves slept on. Them old beds--they called 'em
teesters--had cords for springs; nobody never heard of no metal springs
them days. They jus' wove them cords criss-cross, from one side to the
other and from head to foot. When they stretched and sagged they was
tightened up with keys what was made for that purpose.

"Jus' look at my room," Nellie laughed. "I saw you lookin' at my bed. It
was made at Wood's Furniture Shop, right here in Athens, and I've had it
ever since I got married the first time. Take a good look at it, for
there ain't many lak it left." Nellie's pride in her attractively
furnished room was evident as she told of many offers she has had for
this furniture, but she added: "I want to keep it all here to use myself
jus' as long as I live. Shucks, I done got plumb off from what I was
tellin' you jus' ravin' 'bout my old furniture and things.

"My Mother died when I was jus' a little girl and she's buried in the
old family graveyard on the Weir place, but there are several other
slaves buried there and I don't know which grave is hers. Grandma raised
me, and I was jus' gittin' big enough to handle that old peafowl-tail
fly brush they used to keep the flies off the table when we were set

"It wasn't long after the War when the Yankees come to Athens. Folks had
to bury or hide evvything they could, for them Yankees jus' took
anything they could git their hands on, 'specially good food. They would
catch up other folks' chickens and take hams from the smokehouses, and
they jus' laughed in folks' faces if they said anything 'bout it. They
camped in the woods here on Hancock Avenue, but of course it wasn't
settled then lak it is now. I was mighty scared of them Yankees and they
didn't lak me neither. One of 'em called me a little white-headed devil.

"One of my aunts worked for a northern lady that they called Mrs.
Meeker, who lived where the old Barrow home is now. Evvy summer when she
went back up North she would leave my aunt and uncle to take care of her
place. It was right close to the Yankees' camp, and the soldiers made my
aunt cook for them sometimes. I was livin' with her then, and I was so
scared of 'em that I stayed right by her. She never had to worry 'bout
where I was them days, for I was right by her side as long as the
Yankees was hangin' 'round Athens. My uncle used to say that he had seen
them Yankees ride to places and shoot down turkeys, then make the folks
that owned them turkeys cook and serve 'em. Folks used to talk lots
'bout the Yankees stoppin' a white 'oman on the street and takin' her
earrings right out of her ears to put 'em on a Negro 'oman; I never saw
that, I jus' heard it.

"After the war was over Grandpa bought one of the old slave cabins from
Marse Jack and we lived there for a long time; then we moved out to Rock
Spring. I was about eight or nine years old then, and they found out I
was a regular tomboy. The woods was all 'round Rock Spring then, and I
did have a big time climbin' them trees. I jus' fairly lived in 'em
durin' the daytime, but when dark come I wanted to be as close to
Grandpa as I could git.

"One time, durin' those days at Rock Spring, I wanted to go to a Fourth
of July celebration. Those celebrations was mighty rough them days and
Grandpa didn't think that would be a good place for a decent little
girl, so he didn't want me to go. I cried and hollered and cut up
something awful. Grandma told him to give me a good thrashin' but
Grandpa didn't lak to do that, so he promised me I could go to ride if I
wouldn't go to that celebration. That jus' tickled me to death, for I
did lak to ride. Grandpa had two young mules what was still wild, and
when he said I could ride one of 'em Grandma tried hard to keep me off
of it, for she said that critter would be sure to kill me, but I was so
crazy to go that nobody couldn't tell me nothin'. Auntie lent me her
domino coat to wear for a ridin' habit and I sneaked and slipped a pair
of spurs, then Grandpa put a saddle on the critter and helped me to git
up on him. I used them spurs, and then I really went to ride. That mule
showed his heels straight through them woods and way on out in the
country. I couldn't stop him, so I jus' kept on kickin' him with them
spurs and didn't have sense to know that was what was makin' him run. I
thought them spurs was to make him mind me, and all the time I was I
lammin' him with the spurs I was hollerin': 'Stop! Oh, Stop!' When I got
to where I was too scared to kick him with the spurs or do nothin' 'cept
hang on to that saddle, that young mule quit his runnin' and trotted
home as nice and peaceable as you please. I never did have no more use
for spurs.

"Grandpa used to send me to Phinizy's mill to have corn and wheat
ground. It would take all day long, so they let me take a lunch with me,
and I always had the best sort of time when I went to mill. Uncle Isham
run the mill then and he would let me think I was helpin' him. Then,
while he helped me eat my lunch, he would call me his little 'tomboy
gal' and would tell me about the things he used to do when he was 'bout
my age.

"My first schoolin' was in old Pierce's Chapel that set right spang in
the middle of Hancock Avenue at Foundry Street. Our teacher was a Yankee
man, and we were mighty surprised to find out that he wasn't very hard
on us. We had to do something real bad to git a whippin', but when we
talked or was late gittin' to school we had to stand up in the back of
the schoolroom and hold up one hand. Pierce's chapel was where the
colored folks had preachin' then--preachin' on Sunday and teachin' on
week days, all in the same buildin'. A long time before then it had been
the white folks' church, and Preacher Pierce was the first one to preach
there after it was built, so they named it for him. When the white folks
built them a new church they gave the old chapel to the colored folks,
and, Honey, there was some real preachin' done in that old place. Me, I
was a Methodist, but I was baptized just lak the Baptists was down there
in the Oconee River.

"Me and my first husband was too young to know what we was doin' when we
got married, but our folks give us a grand big weddin'. I think my
weddin' cake was 'bout the biggest one I ever saw baked in one of them
old ovens in the open fireplace. They iced it in white and decorated it
with grapes. A shoat was cooked whole and brought to the table with a
big red apple in his mouth. You know a shoat ain't nothin' but a young
hog that's done got bigger than a little pig. We had chicken and pies
and just evvything good that went to make up a fine weddin' supper.

"Our weddin' took place at night, and I wore a white dress made with a
tight-fittin' waist and a long, full skirt that was jus' covered with
ruffles. My sleeves was tight at the wrists but puffed at the shoulders,
and my long veil of white net was fastened to my head with pretty
flowers. I was a mighty dressed up bride. The bridegroom wore a real
dark-colored cutaway coat with a white vest. We did have a swell weddin'
and supper, but there wasn't no dancin' 'cause we was all good church

"We was so young we jus' started out havin' a good time and didn't miss
nothin' that meant fun and frolic. We was mighty much in love with each
other too. It didn't seem long before we had three children, and then
one night he was taken sick all of a sudden and didn't live but a little
while. Soon as he was taken sick I sent for the doctor, but my husband
told me then he was dyin' fast and that he wasn't ready to die. He said:
'Nellie, here we is with these three little children and neither one of
us had been fit to raise 'em. Now I've got to leave you and you will
have to raise one of 'em, but the other two will come right on after

For several moments Nellie was still and quiet; then she raised her head
and said: "Honey, it was jus' lak he said it would be. He was gone in
jus' a little while and it wasn't two weeks 'fore the two youngest
children was gone lak their daddy. I worried lots after my husband and
babies was taken. I wanted to be saved to raise my little girl right,
and I was too proud to let anybody know how troubled I was or what it
was all about, so I kept it to myself. I lost weight, I couldn't sleep,
and was jus' dyin' away with sin. I would go to church but that didn't
git me no relief.

"One day a dear, good white lady sent for me to come to the hotel where
she was stayin'. She had been a mighty good friend to me for a long,
long time, and I had all the faith in the world in her. She told me that
she had a good job for me and wanted me to take it because it would let
me keep my little girl with me. She said her best friend's maid had died
and this friend of hers needed someone to work for her. 'I want you to
go there and work for her,' said the white lady, 'for she will be good
to you and your child. I've already talked with her about it.'

"I took her advice and went to work for Mrs. R.L. Bloomfield whose
husband operated the old check mill. Honey, Mrs. Bloomfield was one of
God's children and one of the best folks I have ever known. Right away
she told her cook: 'Amanda, look after Nellie good 'cause she's too
thin.' It wasn't long before Mrs. Bloomfield handed me a note and told
me to take it to Dr. Carlton. When he read it he laughed and said; 'Come
on Nellie, I've got to see what's wrong with you.' I tried to tell him I
wasn't sick, but he examined me all over, then called to see Mrs.
Bloomfield and told her that I didn't need nothin' but plenty of rest
and to eat enough good food. Bless her dear old heart, she done
evvything she could for me, but there wasn't no medicine, rest, or food
that could help the trouble that was wearin' me down then.

"Soon they started a revival at our church. One night I wanted to go,
but Aunt Amanda begged me not to, for she said I needed to go to bed and
rest; later she said she would go along with me to hear that preachin'.
Honey, I never will forgit that night. The text of the sermon was: 'Come
unto me all you weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' When
they began callin' the mourners to come up to the mourners' bench
something seemed to be jus' a-pullin' me in that direction, but I was
too proud to go. I didn't think then I ever could go to no mourners'
bench or shout. After a while they started singin' _Almost Persuaded_,
and I couldn't wait; I jus' got up and run to that blessed mourners'
bench and I prayed there. Honey, I shouted too, for I found the Blessed
Lord that very night and I've kept Him right with me ever since. I don't
aim to lose Him no more. Aunt Amanda was most nigh happy as I was and,
from that night when the burden was lifted from my heart, I begun
gittin' better.

"I worked on for Mrs. Bloomfield 'til I got married again, and then I
quit work 'cept for nursin' sick folks now and then. I made good money
nursin' and kept that up 'til I got too old to work outside my own

"My second husband was Scott Smith. We didn't have no big, fancy weddin'
for I had done been married and had all the trimmin's one time. We jus'
had a nice quiet weddin' with a few close friends and kinfolks invited.
I had on a very pretty, plain, white dress. Again I was blessed with a
good husband. Scott fixed up that nice mantelpiece you see in this room
for me, and he was mighty handy about the house; he loved to keep things
repaired and in order. Best of all, he was jus' as good to my little
girl as he was to the girl and boy that were born to us later. All three
of my children are grown and married now, and they are mighty good to
their old mother. One of my daughters lives in New York.

"Soon after we married, we moved in a big old house called the old White
place that was jus' around the corner from here on Pope Street. People
said it was haunted, and we could hear something walkin' up and down the
stairs that sounded lak folks. To keep 'em from bein' so scared, I used
to try to make the others believe it was jus' our big Newfoundland dog,
but one night my sister heard it. She got up and found the dog lyin'
sound asleep on the front porch, so it was up to me to find out what it
was. I walked up the stairs without seein' a thing, but, Honey, when I
put my foot on that top step such a feelin' come over me as I had never
had before in all my life. My body trembled 'til I had to hold tight to
the stair-rail to keep from fallin', and I felt the hair risin' up all
over my head. While it seemed like hours before I was able to move, it
was really only a very few seconds. I went down those stairs in a hurry
and, from that night to this day, I have never hunted ghosts no more and
I don't aim to do it again, never.

"I've been here a long time, Honey. When them first street lights was
put up and lit, Athens was still mostly woods. Them old street lights
would be funny to you now, but they was great things to us then, even if
they wasn't nothin' but little lanterns what burned plain old lamp-oil
hung out on posts. The Old Town Hall was standin' then right in the
middle of Market (Washington) Street, between Lumpkin and Pulaski
Streets. The lowest floor was the jail, and part of the ground floor was
the old market place. Upstairs was the big hall where they held court,
and that was where they had so many fine shows. Whenever any white folks
had a big speech to make they went to that big old room upstairs in Town
Hall and spoke it to the crowd.

"You is too young to remember them first streetcars what was pulled by
little bitsy Texas mules with bells around their necks. Hearing them
bells was sweet music to us when they meant we was goin' to git a ride
on them streetcars. Some folks was too precise to say 'streetcars'; they
said 'horsecars', but them horsecars was pulled through the streets by
mules, so what's the diffunce? Sometimes them little mules would mire up
so deep in the mud they would have to be pulled out, and sometimes, when
they was feelin' sassy and good, they would jus' up and run away with
them streetcars. Them little critters could git the worst tangled up in
them lines." Here Nellie laughed heartily. "Sometimes they would even
try to climb inside the cars. It was lots of fun ridin' them cars, for
you never did know what was goin' to happen before you got back home,
but I never heard of no real bad streetcar accidents here."

Nellie now began jumping erratically from one subject to another. "Did
you notice my pretty flowers and ferns on the front porch?" she asked.
"I jus' know you didn't guess what I made them two hangin' baskets out
of. Them's the helmets that my son and my son-in-law wore when they was
fightin' in the World War. I puts my nicest flowers in 'em evvy year as
a sort of memorial to the ones that didn't git to fetch their helmets
back home. Yes Mam, I had two stars on my service flag and, while I
hated mighty bad that there had to be war, I wanted my family to do
their part.

"Honey, old Nellie is gittin' a little tired, but jus' you listen to
this: I went to meetin' one night to hear the first 'oman preacher that
ever had held a meetin' in this town. She was meanin' to preach at a
place out on Rock Spring Street, and there was more folks there than
could git inside that little old weather-boarded house. The place was
packed and jammed, but me and Scott managed to git in. When I saw an old
Hardshell Baptist friend of mine in there, I asked her how come she was
at this kind of meetin'. 'Curiosity, my child,' she said, 'jus' plain
old curiosity.' The 'oman got up to preach and, out of pure devilment,
somebody on the outside hollered; 'The house is fallin' down.' Now
Child, I know it ain't right to laugh at preachin's of any sort, but
that was one funny scene. Evvybody was tryin' to git out at one time;
such cryin', prayin', and testifyin' to the Lord I ain't never heard
before. The crowd jus' went plumb crazy with fright. I was pushed down
and trampled over in the rush before Scott could git me out; they mighty
near killed me." The old woman stopped and laughed until the tears
streamed down her face. "You know, Honey," she said, when she could
control her voice sufficiently to resume her story, "Niggers ain't got
no sense at all when they gits scared. When they throwed one gal out of
a window, she called out: 'Thank you, Lord,' for the poor thing thought
the Lord was savin' her from a fallin' buildin'. Poor old Martha
Holbrook,"--The sentence was not finished until Nellie's almost
hysterical giggles had attracted her daughter who came to see if
something was wrong--"Martha Holbrook," Nellie repeated, "was climbin'
backwards out of a window and her clothes got fastened on a nail. She
slipped on down and there she was with her legs kickin' around on the
outside and the rest of her muffled up in her clothes. It looked lak her
clothes was jus' goin' to peel off over her head. It took the menfolks a
long time to git her uncaught and out of that predicament in the window.
Pretty soon the folks began to come to their senses and they found there
wasn't nothin' wrong with the house 'cept that some doors and windows
had been torn out by the crowd. They sho did git mad, but nobody seemed
to know who started that ruction. My old Hardshell Baptist friend came
up then and said: 'Curiosity brought us here, and curiosity like to have
killed the cat.'"

Seeing that Nellie was tired, the visitor prepared to leave. "Goodbye
and God bless you," were the old woman's farewell words. At the front
door Amanda said: "I haven't heard my Mother laugh that way in a long,
long time, and I jus' know she is goin' to feel more cheerful after
this. Thank you for givin' her this pleasure, and I hope you can come
back again."

429 China Street
Athens, Georgia

Written by:
Miss Grace McCune

Edited by:
Mrs. Sarah H. Hall

Mrs. Leila Harris

John N. Booth
District Supervisor
Federal Writers' Project
Residencies 6 & 7
Augusta, Georgia

Paul Smith's house stands on China Street, a narrow rutted alley
deriving its name from the large chinaberry tree that stands at one end
of the alley.

Large water oaks furnish ample shade for the tidy yard where an old
well, whose bucket hanging from a rickety windlass frame, was supplying
water for two Negro women, who were leaning over washtubs. As they
rubbed the clothes against the washboards, their arms kept time to the
chant of _Lord I'se Comin' Home_. Paul and two Negro men, barefooted and
dressed in overalls rolled to their knees, were taking their ease under
the largest tree, and two small mulatto children were frolicking about
with a kitten.

As the visitor approached, the young men leaped to their feet and
hastened to offer a chair and Paul said: "Howdy-do, Missy, how is you?
Won't you have a cheer and rest? I knows you is tired plumb out. Dis old
sun is too hot for folkses to be walkin' 'round out doors," Turning to
one of the boys he continued: "Son, run and fetch Missy some fresh
water; dat'll make her feel better. Jus' how far is you done walked?"
asked Paul. Then he stopped one of the women from the washing and bade
her "run into the house and fetch a fan for Missy."

Paul is a large man, and a fringe of kinky white hair frames his face.
His manner is very friendly for, noticing that the visitor was looking
with some curiosity at the leather bands that encircled his wrists, the
old man grinned. "Dem's jus' to make sho' dat I won't have no
rheumatiz," he declared. "Mind if I cuts me a chaw of 'baccy? I'se jus'
plumb lost widout no 'baccy."

Paul readily agreed to give the story of his life. "I can't git over it,
dat you done walked way out here from de courthouse jus' to listen to
dis old Nigger talk 'bout dem good old days.

"Mammy belonged to Marse Jack Ellis, and he owned de big old Ellis
Plantation in Oglethorpe County whar I was borned. Marse Jack give mammy
to his daughter, young Miss Matt, and when her and Marse Nunnally got
married up, she tuk my mammy 'long wid her. Mistess Hah'iet (Harriet)
Smith owned my daddy. Him and mammy never did git married. My granddaddy
and grandmammy was owned by Marse Jim Stroud of Oconee County, and I dug
de graves whar bofe of 'em's buried in Mars Hill graveyard.

"All I knows 'bout slavery time is what I heared folkses say, for de war
was most over when I was borned, but things hadn't changed much, as I
was raised up.

"I warn't but 'bout 2 years old when young Miss Matt tuk my mammy off,
and she put me out 'cause she didn't want me. Missy, dey was sho good to
me. Marse Jack's wife was Mistess Lizzie. She done her best to raise me
right, and de ways she larnt me is done stayed wid me all dese years;
many's de time dey's kept old Paul out of trouble. No Mam, I ain't never
been in no jailhouse in all my days, and I sho ain't aimin' to de
nothin' to make 'em put me dar now.

"In dem days, when chillun got big enough to eat, dey was kept at de big
house, 'cause deir mammies had to wuk off in de fields and Old Miss
wanted all de chillun whar she could see atter 'em. Most times dere was
a old slave 'oman what didn't have nothin' else to do 'cept take keer of
slave chillun and feed 'em. Pickaninnies sho had to mind too, 'cause dem
old 'omans would evermore lay on de switch. Us et out of wooden trays,
and for supper us warn't 'lowed nothin' but bread and milk.

"Long as us was little, us didn't have to wuk at nothin' 'cept little
jobs lak pickin' up chips, bringin' in a little wood, and sometimes de
biggest boys had to slop de hogs. Long 'bout de fust of March, dey tuk
de pants 'way from all de boys and give 'em little shirts to wear from
den 'til frost. Yes Mam, dem shirts was all us boys had to wear in
summer 'til us was big enough to wuk in de fields. Gals jus' wore one
piece of clothes in summertime too; dey wore a plain cotton dress. All
our clothes, for summer and winter too, was made right dere on dat
plantation. Dey wove de cloth on de looms; plain cotton for summer, and
cotton mixed wid a little wool for winter. Dere was a man on de
plantation what made all our brogans for winter. Marster made sho us had
plenty of good warm clothes and shoes to keep us warm when winter come.

"Folkses raised deir livin', all of it, at home den. Dey growed all
sorts of gyarden truck sech as corn, peas, beans, sallet, 'taters,
collards, ingons, and squashes. Dey had big fields of grain. Don't
forgit dem good old watermillions; Niggers couldn't do widout 'em.
Marster's old smokehouse was plumb full of meat all de time, and he had
more cows, hogs, sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys, geese, and de lak, dan
I ever larnt how to count. Dere warn't no runnin' off to de sto' evvy
time dey started cookin' a company meal.

"Dem home-made cotton gins was mighty slow. Us never seed no fast
sto'-bought gins dem days. Our old gins was turned by a long pole what
was pulled around by mules and oxen, and it tuk a long time to git de
seeds out of de cotton dat way. I'se seed 'em tie bundles of fodder in
front of de critters so dey would go faster tryin' to git to de fodder.
Dey grez dem gins wid homemade tar. De big sight was dem old home-made
cotton presses. When dem old mules went round a time or two pullin' dat
heavy weight down, dat cotton was sho pressed.

"Us chillun sho did lak to see 'em run dat old gin, 'cause 'fore dey
ever had a gin Marster used to make us pick a shoe-full of cotton seeds
out evvy night 'fore us went to bed. Now dat don't sound so bad, Missy,
but did you ever try to pick any seeds out of cotton?

"Course evvybody cooked on open fireplaces dem days, and dat was whar us
picked out dem cotton seeds, 'round dat big old fireplace in de kitchen.
All de slaves et together up dar at de big house, and us had some mighty
good times in dat old kitchen. Slave quarters was jus' little one room
log cabins what had chimblies made of sticks and red mud. Dem old
chimblies was all de time a-ketchin' on fire. De mud was daubed 'twixt
de logs to chink up de cracks, and sometimes dey chinked up cracks in de
roof wid red mud. Dere warn't no glass windows in dem cabins, and dey
didn't have but one window of no sort; it was jus' a plain wooden
shutter. De cabins was a long ways off from de big house, close by de
big old spring whar de wash-place was. Dey had long benches for de
wash-tubs to set on, a big old oversize washpot, and you mustn't leave
out 'bout dat big old battlin' block whar dey beat de dirt out of de
clothes. Dem Niggers would sing, and deir battlin' sticks kept time to
de music. You could hear de singin' and de sound of de battlin' sticks
from a mighty long ways off.

"I ain't never been to school a day in all my life. My time as chillun
was all tuk up nussin' Mistess' little chillun, and I sho didn't never
git nary a lick 'bout dem chillun. Mistess said dat a white 'oman got
atter her one time 'bout lettin' a little Nigger look atter her chillun,
and dat 'oman got herself told. I ain't never uneasy 'bout my chillun
when Paul is wid 'em,' Mistess said. When dey started to school, it was
my job to see dat dey got dere and when school was out in de evenin', I
had to be dere to fetch dem chillun back home safe and sound. School
didn't turn out 'til four o'clock den, and it was a right fur piece from
dat schoolhouse out to our big house. Us had to cross a crick, and when
it rained de water would back up and make it mighty bad to git from one
side to t'other. Marster kept a buggy jus' for us to use gwine back and
forth to school. One time atter it had done been rainin' for days, dat
crick was so high I was 'fraid to try to take Mistess' chillun crost it
by myself, so I got a man named Blue to do de drivin' so I could look
atter de chillun. Us pulled up safe on de other side and den dere warn't
no way to git him back to his own side. I told him to ride back in de
buggy, den tie de lines, and de old mule would come straight back to us
by hisself. Blue laughed and said dere warn't no mule wid dat much
sense, but he soon seed dat I was right, cause dat old mule come right
on back jus' lak I said he would.

"Us chillun had good times back den, yes Mam, us sho did. Some of our
best times was at de old swimmin' hole. De place whar us dammed up de
crick for our swimmin' hole was a right smart piece off from de big
house. Us picked dat place 'cause it had so many big trees to keep de
water shady and cool. One Sunday, when dere was a big crowd of white and
colored chillun havin' a big time splashin' 'round in de water, a white
man what lived close by tuk all our clothes and hid 'em way up at his
house; den he got up in a tree and hollered lak evvything was atter him.
Lawsy, Miss, us chillun all come out of dat crick skeered plumb stiff
and run for our clothes. Dey was all gone, but dat never stopped us for
long. Us lit out straight for dat man's house. He had done beat us
gitting dar, and when us come runnin' up widout no clothes on, he
laughed fit to kill at us. Atter while he told us he skeered us to keep
us from stayin' too long in de crick and gittin' drownded, but dat
didn't slow us up none 'bout playing in de swimmin' hole.

"Talkin' 'bout being skeered, dere was one time I was skeered I was
plumb ruint. Missy, dat was de time I stole somepin' and didn't even
know I was stealin'. A boy had come by our place dat day and axed me to
go to de shop on a neighbor's place wid him. Mistess 'lowed me to go,
and atter he had done got what he said he was sont atter, he said dat
now us would git us some apples. He was lots bigger dan me, and I jus'
s'posed his old marster had done told him he could git some apples out
of dat big old orchard. Missy, I jus' plumb filled my shirt and pockets
wid dem fine apples, and us was havin' de finest sort of time when de
overseer cotch us. He let me go, but dat big boy had to wuk seven long
months to pay for dat piece of foolishment. I sho didn't never go nowhar
else wid dat fellow, 'cause my good old mistess said he would git me in
a peck of trouble if I did, and I had done larn't dat our mistess was
allus right.

"Times has sho done changed lots since dem days; chillun warn't 'lowed
to run 'round den. When I went off to church on a Sunday, I knowed I had
to be back home not no later dan four o'clock. Now chillun jus' goes all
de time, whar-some-ever dey wants to go. Dey stays out most all night
sometimes, and deir mammies don't never know whar dey is half de time.
'Tain't right, Missy, folkses don't raise deir chillun right no more;
dey don't larn 'em to be 'bejient and don't go wid 'em to church to hear
de Word of de Lawd preached lak dey should ought to.

"Fore de war, colored folkses went to de same church wid deir white
folkses and listened to de white preacher. Slaves sot way back in de
meetin'-house or up in a gallery, but us could hear dem good old
sermons, and dem days dey preached some mighty powerful ones. All my
folkses jined de Baptist Church, and Dr. John Mell's father, Dr. Pat
Mell, baptized evvy one of 'em. Course I growed up to be a Baptist too
lak our own white folkses.

"Slaves had to wuk hard dem days, but dey had good times too. Our white
folkses looked atter us and seed dat us had what-some-ever us needed.
When talk come 'round 'bout havin' separate churches for slaves, our
white folkses give us deir old meetin'-house and built deyselfs a new
one, but for a long time atter dat it warn't nothin' to see white
folkses visitin' our meetin's, cause dey wanted to help us git started
off right. One old white lady--us called her Aunty Peggy--never did stop
comin' to pray and sing and shout wid us 'til she jus' went off to sleep
and woke up in de better world. Dat sho was one good 'oman.

"Some of dem slaves never wanted no 'ligion, and dey jus' laughed at us
cause us testified and shouted. One day at church a good old 'oman got
right 'hind a Nigger dat she had done made up her mind she was gwine to
see saved 'fore dat meetin' ended. She drug 'im up to de mourner's
bench. He 'lowed he never made no prep'ration to come in dis world and
dat he didn't mean to make none to leave it. She prayed and prayed, but
dat fool Nigger jus' laughed right out at her. Finally de 'oman got mad.
'Laugh if you will,' she told dat man, 'De Good Lawd is gwine to purge
out your sins for sho, and when you gits full of biles and sores you'll
be powerful glad to git somebody to pray for you. Dat ain't all; de same
Good Lawd is gwine to lick you a thousand lashes for evvy time you is
done made fun of dis very meetin'.' Missy, would you believe it, it
warn't no time 'fore dat man sickened and died right out wid a cancer in
his mouf. Does you 'member dat old sayin' 'De ways of de Lawd is slow
but sho?'

"Corpses was washed good soon atter de folkses died and deir clothes put
on 'em, den dey was laid on coolin' boards 'til deir coffins was made
up. Why Missy, didn't you know dey didn't have no sto'-bought coffins
dem days? Dey made 'em up right dere on de plantation. De corpse was
measured and de coffin made to fit it. Sometimes dey was lined wid black
calico, and sometimes dey painted 'em black on de outside. Dere warn't
no undytakers den, and dere warn't none of dem vaults to set coffins in
neither; dey jus' laid planks crost de top of a coffin 'fore de dirt was
piled in de grave.

"When dere was a death 'round our neighborhood, evvybody went and paid
deir 'spects to de fambly of de dead. Folkses set up all night wid de
corpse and sung and prayed. Dat settin' up was mostly to keep cats offen
de corpse. Cats sho is bad atter dead folks; I'se heared tell dat dey
most et up some corpses what nobody warn't watchin'. When de time come
to bury de dead, dey loaded de coffin on to a wagon, and most times de
fambly rode to de graveyard in a wagon too, but if it warn't no fur
piece off, most of de other folkses walked. Dey started singin' when dey
left de house and sung right on 'til dat corpse was put in de grave.
When de preacher had done said a prayer, dey all sung: _I'se Born to Die
and Lay Dis Body Down_. Dat was 'bout all dere was to de buryin', but
later on dey had de funeral sermon preached in church, maybe six months
atter de buryin'. De white folkses had all deir funeral sermons preached
at de time of de buryin'.

"Yes Mam, I 'members de fust money I ever wuked for. Marster paid me 50
cents a day when I got big enough to wuk, and dat was plumb good wages
den. When I got to whar I could pick more'n a hunnerd pounds of cotton
in one day he paid me more. I thought I was rich den. Dem was good old
days when us lived back on de plantation. I 'members dem old folkses
what used to live 'round Lexin'ton, down in Oglethorpe County.

"When us warn't out in de fields, us done little jobs 'round de big
house, de cabins, barns, and yards. Us used to holp de older slaves git
out whiteoak splits, and dey larnt us to make cheer bottoms and baskets
out of dem splits. De best cheer bottoms what lasted de longest was dem
what us made wid red ellum withes. Dem old shuck bottoms was fine too;
dey plaited dem shucks and wound 'em 'round for cheer bottoms and
footsmats. De 'omans made nice hats out of shucks and wheat straw. Dey
plaited de shucks and put 'em together wid plaits of wheat straw. Dey
warn't counted much for Sunday wear, but dey made fine sun hats.

"Whilst us was all a-wukin' away at house and yard jobs, de old folkses
would tell us 'bout times 'fore us was borned. Dey said slave dealers
used to come 'round wid a big long line of slaves a-marchin' to whar
dere was gwine to be a big slave sale. Sometimes dey marched 'em here
from as fur as Virginny. Old folkses said dey had done been fetched to
dis country on boats. Dem boats was painted red, real bright red, and
dey went plumb to Africa to git de niggers. When dey got dere, dey got
off and left de bright red boats empty for a while. Niggers laks red,
and dey would git on dem boats to see what dem red things was. When de
boats was full of dem foolish Niggers, de slave dealers would sail off
wid 'em and fetch 'em to dis country to sell 'em to folkses what had
plantations. Dem slave sales was awful bad in some ways, 'cause
sometimes dey sold mammies away from deir babies and famblies got
scattered. Some of 'em never knowed what 'comed of deir brudders and
sisters and daddies and mammies.

"I seed dem Yankees when dey come, but I was too little to know much
about what dey done. Old folkses said dey give de Athens people smallpox
and dat dey died out right and left, jus' lots of 'em. 'Fore dey got rid
of it, dey had to burn up beds and clothes and a few houses. Dey said
dey put Lake Brown and Clarence Bush out in de swamp to die, but dey got
well, come out of dat swamp, and lived here for years and years.

"Granddaddy told us 'bout how some slaves used to rum off from deir
marsters and live in caves and dugouts. He said a man and a 'oman run
away and lived for years in one of dem places not no great ways from de
slave quarters on his marster's place. Atter a long, long time, some
little white chillun was playin' in de woods one day and clumb up in
some trees. Lookin' out from high up in a tree one of 'em seed two
little pickaninnies but he couldn't find whar dey went. When he went
back home and told 'bout it, evvybody went to huntin' 'em, s'posin' dey
was lost chillun. Dey traced 'em to a dugout, and dere dey found dem two
grown slaves what had done run away years ago, and dey had done had two
little chillun born in dat dugout. Deir marster come and got 'em and tuk
'em home, but de chillun went plumb blind when dey tried to live out in
de sunlight. Dey had done lived under ground too long, and it warn't
long 'fore bofe of dem chillun was daid.

"Dem old slavery-time weddin's warn't lak de way folkses does when dey
gits married up now; dey never had to buy no license den. When a slave
man wanted to git married up wid a gal he axed his marster, and if it
was all right wid de marster den him and de gal come up to de big house
to jump de broomstick 'fore deir white folkses. De gal jumped one way
and de man de other. Most times dere was a big dance de night dey got

"If a slave wanted to git married up wid a gal what didn't live on dat
same plantation he told his marster, den his marster went and talked to
de gal's marster. If bofe deir marsters 'greed den dey jumped de
broomstick; if neither one of de marsters wouldn't sell to de other one,
de wife jus' stayed on her marster's place and de husband was 'lowed a
pass what let him visit her twict a week on Wednesday and Sadday nights.
If he didn't keep dat pass to show when de patterollers cotch him, dey
was more'n apt to beat de skin right off his back. Dem patterollers was
allus watchin' and dey was awful rough. No Mam, dey never did git to
beat me up. I out run 'em one time, but I evermore did have to make
tracks to keep ahead of 'em.

"Us didn't know much 'bout folkses bein' kilt 'round whar us stayed.
Sometimes dere was talk 'bout devilment a long ways off. De mostest
troubles us knowed 'bout was on de Jim Smith plantation. Dat sho was a
big old place wid a heap of slaves on it. Dey says dat fightin' didn't
'mount to nothin'. Marse Jim Smith got to be mighty rich and he lived to
be an old man. He died out widout never gittin' married. Folkses said a
nigger boy dat was his son was willed heaps of dat propity, but folkses
beat him out of it and, all of a sudden, he drapped out of sight. Some
says he was kilt, but I don't know nothin' 'bout dat.

"Now Missy, how come you wants to know 'bout dem frolics us had dem
days? Most of 'em ended up scandlous, plumb scandlous. At harvest season
dere was cornshuckin's, wheat-thrashin's, syrup-cookin's, and
logrollin's. All dem frolics come in deir own good time. Cornshuckin's
was de most fun of 'em all. Evvybody come from miles around to dem
frolics. Soon atter de wuk got started, marster got out his little brown
jug, and when it started gwine de rounds de wuk would speed up wid sich
singin' as you never heared, and dem Niggers was wuking in time wid de
music. Evvy red ear of corn meant an extra swig of liquor for de Nigger
what found it. When de wuk was done and dey was ready to go to de tables
out in de yard to eat dem big barbecue suppers, dey grabbed up deir
marster and tuk him to de big house on deir shoulders. When de supper
was et, de liquor was passed some more and dancin' started, and
sometimes it lasted all night. Folkses sometimes had frolics what dey
called fairs; dey lasted two or three days. Wid so much dancin', eatin',
and liquor drinkin' gwine on for dat long, lots of fightin' took place.
It was awful. Dey cut on one another wid razors and knives jus' lak dey
was cuttin' on wood. I 'spects I was bad as de rest of 'em 'bout dem
razor fights, but not whar my good old mist'ess could larn 'bout it. I
never did no fightin' 'round de meetin'-house. It was plumb sinful de
way some of dem Niggers would git in ruckuses right in meetin' and break
up de services.

"Brudder Bradberry used to come to our house to hold prayermeetin's, but
Lawsey, Missy, dat man could eat more dan any Nigger I ever seed from
dat day to dis. When us knowed he was a-comin' Mistess let us cook up
heaps of stuff, enough to fill dat long old table plumb full, but dat
table was allus empty when he left. Yes Mam, he prayed whilst he was
dere, but he et too. Dem prayers must'a made him mighty weak.

"Marster Joe Campbell, what lived in our settlement, was sho a queer
man. He had a good farm and plenty of most evvything. He would plant his
craps evvy year and den, Missy, he would go plumb crazy evvy blessed
year. Folkses would jine in and wuk his craps out for him and, come
harvest time, dey had to gather 'em in his barns, cause he never paid
'em no mind atter dey was planted. When de wuk was all done for him,
Marster Joe's mind allus come back and he was all right 'til next
crap-time. I told my good old marster dat white man warn't no ways
crazy; he had plumb good sense, gittin' all dat wuk done whilst he jus'
rested. Marster was a mighty good man, so he jus' grinned and said
'Paul, us mustn't jedge nobody.'

"When marster moved here to Athens I come right 'long wid 'im. Us
started us a wuk-shop down on dis same old Oconee River, close by whar
Oconee Street is now. Dis was mostly jus' woods. Dere warn't none of
dese new-fangled stock laws den, and folkses jus' fenced in deir
gyardens and let de stock run evvywhar. Dey marked hogs so evvybody
would know his own; some cut notches in de ears, some cut off de tails
or marked noses, and some put marks on de hoof part of de foots. Mr.
Barrow owned 'bout 20 acres in woods spread over Oconee Hill, and de
hogs made for dem woods whar dey jus' run wild. Cows run out too and got
so wild dey would fight when dey didn't want to come home. It warn't no
extra sight den to see folkses gwine atter deir cows on mules. Chickens
run out, and folkses had a time findin' de aigs and knowin' who dem aigs
b'longed to. Most and gen'ally finders was keepers far as aigs was
consarnt but, in spite of all dat, us allus had plenty, and Mistess
would find somepin' to give folkses dat needed to be holped.

"When us come to Athens de old Georgy Railroad hadn't never crost de
river to come into town. De depot was on de east side of de river on
what dey called Depot Street. Daddy said he holped to build dat fust
railroad. It was way back in slavery times. Mist'ess Hah'iet Smith's
husband had done died out, and de 'minstrator of de 'state hired out
most all of Mist'ess' slaves to wuk on de railroad. It was a long time
'fore she could git 'em back home.

"Missy, did you know dat Indians camped at Skull Shoals, down in Greene
County, a long time ago? Old folkses said dey used to be 'round here
too, 'specially at Cherokee Corners. At dem places, it was a long time
'fore dey stopped plowin' up bones whar Indians had done been buried.
Right down on dis old river, nigh Mr. Aycock's place, dey says you kin
still see caves whar folkses lived when de Indians owned dese parts. If
high waters ain't washed 'em all away, de skeletons of some of dem
folkses what lived dar is still in dem caves. Slaves used to hide in dem
same caves when dey was runnin' off from deir marsters or tryin' to keep
out of de way of de law. Dat's how dem caves was found; by white folkses
huntin' runaway slaves.

"Now Missy, you don't keer nothin' 'bout my weddin'. To tell de trufe,
I never had no weddin'; I had to steal dat gal of mine. I had done axed
her mammy for her, but she jus' wouldn't 'gree for me to have Mary, so I
jus' up and told her I was gwine to steal dat gal. Dat old 'oman 'lowed
she would see 'bout dat, and she kept Mary in her sight day and night,
inside de house mos'ly. It looked lak I never was gwine to git a chance
to steal my gal, but one day a white boy bought my license for me and I
got Brudder Bill Mitchell to go dar wid me whilst Mary's ma was asleep.
Us went inside de house and got married right dar in de room next to
whar she was sleepin'. When she waked up dere was hot times 'round dat
place for a while, but good old Brudder Mitchell stayed right dar and
holped us through de trouble. Mary's done been gone a long time now and
I misses her mighty bad, but it won't be long now 'fore de Lawd calls me
to go whar she is.

"I done tried to live right, to keep all de laws, and to pay up my jus'
and honest debts, cause mist'ess larnt me dat. I was up in Virginny
wukin' on de railroad a few years ago. De boss man called me aside one
day and said; 'Paul, you ain't lak dese other Niggers. I kin tell dat
white folks raised you.' It sho made me proud to hear him say dat, for I
knows dat old Miss up yonder kin see dat de little Nigger she tuk in and
raised is still tryin' to live lak she larnt him to do."

When the visitor arose to leave, old Paul smiled and said "Goodby Missy.
I'se had a good time bringin' back dem old days. Goodby, and God bless

[HW: Dist. 1
Ex-Slave 102]

[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

Emeline Stepney, as she came into the office that July day, was a
perfect vignette from a past era. Over 90 years old, and unable to walk
without support, she was still quick witted and her speech, although
halting, was full of dry humor. Emeline was clad in a homespun dress
with high collar and long sleeves with wristbands. On her feet she wore
"old ladies' comforts." She was toothless and her hands were gnarled and
twisted from rheumatism and hard work.

Emeline's father, John Smith, had come from Virginia and belonged to
"Cap'n Tom Wilson." Her mother, Sally, "wuz a Georgia borned nigger" who
belonged to "Mars Shelton Terry." The two plantations near Greensboro,
in Greene County, were five miles apart and the father came to see his
family only on Wednesday and Saturday nights. The arrangement evidently
had no effect in the direction of birth control for Emeline was the
second of thirteen children.

Life on the Terry place was a fairly pleasant existence. The master was
an old bachelor and he had two old maid sisters, Miss Sarah and Miss
Rebecca. The plantation was in charge of two overseers who were
reasonably kind to the Negroes.

No crops of any kind were sold and consequently the plantation had to be
self-sustaining. Cotton was spun into clothing in the master's own
spinning room and the garments were worn by the master and slaves alike.
A small amount of flax was raised each year and from this the master's
two sisters made household linens. Food crops consisted of corn, wheat
(there was a mill on the plantation to grind these into flour and meal),
sweet potatoes, and peas. In the smoke house there was always plenty of
pork, beef, mutton, and kid. The wool from the sheep was made into
blankets and woolen garments.

The Terry household was not like other menages of the time. There were
only one or two house servants, the vast majority being employed in the
fields. Work began each morning at eight o'clock and was over at
sundown. No work was done on Saturday, the day being spent in
preparation for Sunday or in fishing, visiting, or "jes frolickin'". The
master frequently let them have dances in the yards on Saturday
afternoon. To supply the music they beat on tin buckets with sticks.

On Sunday the Negroes were allowed to attend the "white folks' church"
where a balcony was reserved for them. Some masters required their
"people" to go to church; but Emeline's master thought it a matter for
the individual to decide for himself.

Emeline was about 15 when her first suitor and future husband began to
come to see her. He came from a neighboring farm and had to have a pass
to show the "patty rollers" or else he would be whipped. He never stayed
at night even after they were married because he was afraid he might be

The slaves were never given any spending money. The men were allowed to
use tobacco and on rare occasions there was "toddy" for them. Emeline
declares SHE never used liquor and ascribes her long life partly to this
fact and partly to her belief in God.

She believes in signs but interprets them differently [HW: ?] from most
of her people. She believes that if a rooster crows he is simply
"crowin' to his crowd" or if a cow bellows it is "mos' likely bellowin'
fer water." If a person sneezes while eating she regards this as a sign
that the person is eating too fast or has a bad cold. She vigorously
denies that any of these omens foretells death. Some "fool nigger"
believe that an itching foot predicts a journey to a strange land; but
Emeline thinks it means that the foot needs washing.

Aunt Emeline has some remedies which she has found very effective in the
treatment of minor ailiments. Hoarhound tea and catnip tea are good for
colds and fever. Yellow root will cure sore throat and a tea made from
sheep droppings will make babies teethe easily. "I kin still tas'e dat
sassafras juice mammy used to give all de chilluns." She cackled as she
was led out the door.

[HW: Atlanta
Dist. 5
Ex-Slave #103]



On November 18, 1936 Amanda Styles ex-slave, was interviewed at her
residence 268 Baker Street N.E. Styles is about 80 years of age and
could give but a few facts concerning her life as a slave. Her family
belonged to an ordinary class of people neither rich nor poor. Her
master Jack Lambert owned a small plantation; and one other slave
besides her family which included her mother, father and one sister. The
only event during slavery that impressed itself on Mrs. Styles was the
fact that when the Yanks came to their farm they carried off her mother
and she was never heard of again.

Concerning superstitions, signs, and other stories pertaining to this
Mrs. Styles related the following signs and events. As far as possible
the stories are given in her exact words. "During my day it was going
ter by looking in the clouds. Some folks could read the signs there. A
'oman that whistled wuz marked to be a bad 'oman. If a black cat crossed
your path you sho would turn round and go anudder way. It was bad luck
to sit on a bed and when I wuz small I wuz never allowed to sit on the

Following are stories, related by Mrs. Styles, which had their origin
during slavery and immediately following slavery.

"During slavery time there was a family that had a daughter and she
married and ebby body said she wuz a witch cause at night dey sed she
would turn her skin inside out and go round riding folks horses. Der
next morning der horses manes would be tied up. Now her husband didn't
know she was a witch so somebody tole him he could tell by cutting off
one of her limbs so one night the wife changed to a cat and the husband
cut off her forefinger what had a ring on it. After that der wife would
keep her hand hid cause her finger wuz cut off; and she knowed her
husband would find out that she wuz the witch.

My mother sed her young mistress wuz a witch and she too married but her
husband didn't know that she wuz a witch; and she would go round at
night riding horses and turning the cows milk into blood. Der folks
didn't know what ter do instead of milk they had blood. So one day a old
lady came there and told em that a witch had been riding the cow, and to
cast off the spell, they had to take a horse shoe and put it in the
bottom of the churn and then the blood would turn back ter milk and
butter. Sho nuff they did it and got milk.

Anudder man had a wife that wuz accused of being a witch so he cut her
leg off and it wuz a cats' leg and when his wife came back her leg was

They say there wuz a lot of conjuring too and I have heard 'bout a lot
of it. My husband told me he went to see a 'oman once dat had scorpions
in her body. The conjurer did it by putting the blood of a scorpion in
her body and this would breed more scorpions in her. They had to get
anudder conjurer to undo the spell.

There wuz anudder family that lived near and that had a daughter and
when she died they say she had a snake in her body.

My husband sed he wuz conjured when he wuz a boy and had ter walk with
his arms outstretched he couldn't put em down at all and couldn't even
move 'em. One day he met a old man and he sed "Son whats der matter wid
you?" "I don't know," he sed. "Den why don't you put your arms down?" "I
can't." So the old man took a bottle out of his pocket and rubbed his
arms straight down 'till they got alright.

He told me too bout a 'oman fixing her husband. This 'oman saw anudder
man she wonted so she had her husband fixed so he would throw his arms
up get on his knees and bark just like a dog. So they got some old man
that wuz a conjurer to come and cure him. He woulda died if they hadn't
got that spell off him.

My father told me that a 'oman fixed anudder one cause she married her
sweetheart she told her he nebber would do her any good and sho nuff she
fixed her so dat she would have a spell ebby time she went to church.
One day they sent fer her husband and asked him what wuz the matter with
her and he told them that this other 'oman fixed her with conjure. They
sent for a conjurer and he came and rubbed some medicine on her body and
she got alright.

During slavery time the master promised ter whip a nigger and when he
came out ter whip him instead he just told him "Go on nigger 'bout your
business." Der Nigger had fixed him by spitting as for as he could spit
so the master couldn't come any nearer than that spit.

I know a Nigger that they sed wuz kin ter the devil. He told me that he
could go out hind the house and make some noise and the devil would come
and dance with him. He sed the devil learned him to play a banjo and if
you wanted to do anything the devil could do, go to a cross road walk
backwards and curse God. But don't nebber let the devil touch any of
your works or anything that belonged to you or you would lose your

The nearest I ebber came ter believing in conjure wuz when my step
mother got sick. She fell out with an 'oman that lived with her daughter
cause this 'oman had did something ter her daughter; and so she called
her a black kinky head hussy and this 'oman got fightin mad and sed ter
her. "Nebber mind you'll be nappy and kinky headed too when I git
through wid you." My Ma's head turned real white and funny right round
the edge and her mind got bad and she used to chew tobacco and spit in
her hands and rub it in her head; and very soon all her hair fell out.
She even quit my father after living with him 20 years saying he had
poisoned her. She stayed sick a long time and der doctors nebber could
understand her sickness. She died and I will always believe she wuz

After relating the last story my interview with Mrs. Styles came to an
end. I thanked her and left, wondering over the strange stories she had
told me.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States - From Interviews with Former Slaves - Georgia Narratives, Part 3" ***

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