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´╗┐Title: Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States - From Interviews with Former Slaves - Ohio Narratives
Author: Work Projects Administration
Language: English
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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 - Ohio Narratives" ***

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from images provided by the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division.



[TR: ***] = Transcriber Note
[HW: ***] = Handwritten Note



SLAVE NARRATIVES


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


THE FEDERAL WRITERS' PROJECT
1936-1938
ASSEMBLED BY
THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS PROJECT
WORK PROJECTS ADMINISTRATION
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
SPONSORED BY THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

Illustrated with Photographs


WASHINGTON 1941



VOLUME XII

OHIO NARRATIVES



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



INFORMANTS

Anderson, Charles H.

Barden, Melissa
Bledsoe, Susan
Bost, Phoebe
Brown, Ben
Burke, Sarah Woods

Campbell, James
Clark, Fleming

Davidson, Hannah
Dempsey, Mary Belle

East, Nancy

Glenn, Wade

Hall, David A.
Henderson, Celia

Jackson, George
Jemison, Rev. Perry Sid [TR: Name also appears as Jamison]

King, Julia

Lester, Angeline

McKimm, Kisey
McMillan, Thomas
Mann, Sarah
Matheus, John William

Nelson, William

Slim, Catherine
Small, Jennie
Smith, Anna
Stewart, Nan
Sutton, Samuel

Toler, Richard

Williams, Julia
Williams, Rev.
Williams, William



ILLUSTRATIONS

Charles H. Anderson

Melissa Barden
Phoebe Bost

James Campbell

Angeline Lester

Richard Toler



Ruth Thompson, Interviewing
Graff, Editing

Ex-Slave Interview
Cincinnati

CHARLES H. ANDERSON
3122 Fredonia St.,
Cincinnati, Ohio

[Illustration: Charles H. Anderson]


"Life experience excels all reading. Every place you go, you learn
something from every class of people. Books are just for a memory, to
keep history and the like, but I don't have to go huntin' in libraries,
I got one in my own head, for you can't forget what you learn from
experience."

The old man speaking is a living example of his theory, and, judging
from his bearing, his experience has given him a philosophical outlook
which comprehends love, gentleness and wisdom. Charles H. Anderson, 3122
Fredonia Street, was born December 23, 1845, in Richmond, Virginia, as a
slave belonging to J.L. Woodson, grocer, "an exceedingly good owner--not
cruel to anyone".

With his mother, father, and 15 brothers and sisters, he lived at the
Woodson home in the city, some of the time in a cabin in the rear, but
mostly in the "big house". Favored of all the slaves, he was trusted to
go to the cash drawer for spending money, and permitted to help himself
to candy and all he wanted to eat. With the help of the mistress, his
mother made all his clothes, and he was "about as well dressed as
anybody".

"I always associated with high-class folks, but I never went to church
then, or to school a day in my life. My owner never sent me or my
brothers, and then when free schools came in, education wasn't on my
mind. I just didn't think about education. Now, I read a few words, and
I can write my name. But experience is what counts most."

Tapping the porch floor with his cane for emphasis, the old fellow's
softly slurred words fell rapidly but clearly. Sometimes his tongue got
twisted, and he had to repeat. Often he had to switch his pipe from one
side of his mouth to the other; for, as he explained, "there ain't many
tooth-es left in there". Mr. Anderson is rather slight of build, and his
features are fine, his bald head shiny, and his eyes bright and eager.
Though he says he "ain't much good anymore", he seems half a century old
instead of "92 next December, if I can make it".

"I have been having some sick spells lately, snapped three or four ribs
out of place several years ago, and was in bed for six weeks after my
wife died ten year ago. But my step-daughter here nursed me through it.
Doctor says he doesn't see how I keep on living. But they take good care
of me, my sons and step-daughter. They live here with me, and we're
comfortable."

And comfortable, neat, and clean they are in the trimmest little frame
house on the street, painted grey with green trim, having a square of
green lawn in front and another in back enclosed with a rail fence, gay
flowers in the corners, rubber plants in pots on the porch, and grape
arbor down one side of the back yard. Inside, rust-colored mohair
overstuffed chairs and davenport look prim with white, crocheted
doilies, a big clock with weights stands in one corner on an ornately
carved table, and several enlarged framed photographs hang on the wall.
The other two rooms are the combined kitchen and dining room, and a
bedroom with a heatrola in it "to warm an old man's bones". Additional
bedrooms are upstairs.

Pointing to one of the pictures, he remarked, "That was me at 37. Had it
taken for my boss where I worked. It was a post card, and then I had it
enlarged for myself. That was just before I married Helen".

Helen Comer, nee Cruitt, was a widow with four youngsters when he met
her 54 years ago. One year later they were married and had two boys,
Charles, now 47, employed as an auto repair man, and Samuel, 43, a
sorter in the Post Office, both bachelors.

"Yes sir, I sure was healthy-looking them days. Always was strong, never
took a dollars worth of medicine in fifty year or more till I had these
last sick spells. But we had good living in slave days. In one sense we
were better off then than after the war, 'cause we had plenty to eat.
Nowadays, everybody has to fen' for himself, and they'd kill a man for a
dime.

"Whip the slaves? Oh, my God! Don't mention it, don't mention it! Lots
of 'em in Old Dominion got beatings for punishment. They didn't have no
jail for slaves, but the owners used a whip and lash on 'em. I've seen
'am on a chain gang, too, up at the penitentiary. But I never got a
whipping in my life. Used to help around the grocery, and deliver
groceries. Used to go up to Jeff Davis' house every day. He was a fine
man. Always was good to me. But then I never quarreled with anybody,
always minded my own business. And I never was scared of nothing. Most
folks was superstitious, but I never believed in ghosts nor anything I
didn't see. Never wore a charm. Never took much stock in that kind of
business. The old people used to carry potatoes to keep off rheumatism.
Yes, sir. They had to steal an Irish potato, and carry it till it was
hard as a rock; then they'd say they never get rheumatism.

"Saturday was our busy day at the store; but after work, I used to go to
the drag downs. Some people say 'hoe down' or 'dig down', I guess 'cause
they'd dig right into it, and give it all they got. I was a great hand
at fiddlin'. Got one in there now that is 107-year old, but I haven't
played for years. Since I broke my shoulder bone, I can't handle the
bow. But I used to play at all the drag downs. Anything I heard played
once, I could play. Used to play two steps, one of 'em called 'Devil's
Dream', and three or four good German waltzes, and 'Turkey in the
Straw'--but we didn't call it that then. It was the same piece, but I
forget what we called it. They don't play the same nowadays. Playin' now
is just a time-consumer, that's all; they got it all tore to pieces, no
top or bottom to it.

"We used to play games, too. Ring games at play parties--'Ring Around
the Rosie', 'Chase the Squirrel', and 'Holly Golly'. Never hear of Holly
Golly? Well, they'd pass around the peanuts, and whoever'd get three
nuts in one shell had to give that one to the one who had started the
game. Then they'd pass 'em around again. Just a peanut-eating contest,
sorta.

"Abraham Lincoln? Well, they's people born in this world for every
occupation and Lincoln was a natural born man for the job he completed.
Just check it back to Pharoah' time: There was Moses born to deliver the
children of Israel. And John Brown, he was born for a purpose. But they
said he was cruel all the way th'ough, and they hung him in February,
1859. That created a great sensation. And he said, 'Go ahead. Do your
work. I done mine'. Then they whipped around till they got the war
started. And that was the start of the Civil War.

"I enlisted April 10, 1865, and was sent to San Diego, Texas; but I
never was in a battle. And they was only one time when I felt anyways
skittish. That was when I was a new recruit on picket duty. And it was
pitch dark, and I heard something comin' th'ough the bushes, and I
thought, 'Let 'em come, whoever it is'. And I got my bayonet all ready,
and waited. I'se gittin' sorta nervous, and purty soon the bushes
opened, and what you think come out? A great big ole hog!

"In June '65, I got a cold one night, and contracted this throat trouble
I get--never did get rid of it. Still carry it from the war. Got my
first pension on that--$6 a month. Ain't many of us left to get pensions
now. They's only 11 veterans left in Cincinnati.

"They used to be the Ku Klux Klan organization. That was the
pat-rollers, then they called them the Night Riders, and at one time the
Regulators. The 'Ole Dragon', his name was Simons, he had control of it,
and that continued on for 50 year till after the war when Garfield was
president. Then it sprung up again, now the King Bee is in prison.

"Well, after the war I was free. But it didn't make much difference to
me; I just had to work for myself instead of somebody else. And I just
rambled around. Sort of a floater. But I always worked, and I always eat
regular, and had regular rest. Work never hurt nobody. I lived so many
places, Cleveland, and ever'place, but I made it here longer than
anyplace--53 year. I worked on the railroad, bossin'. Always had men
under me. When the Chesapeake and Ohio put th'ough that extension to
White Sulphur, we cut tracks th'ough a tunnel 7 mile long. And I handled
men in '83 when they put the C & O th'ough here. But since I was 71, I
been doin' handy work--just general handy man. Used to do a lot of
carving, too, till I broke my shoulder bone. Carved that ol' pipe of
mine 25 year ago out of an ol' umbrella handle, and carved this monkey
watch charm. But the last three year I ain't done much of anything.

"Go to church sometimes, over here to the Corinthian Baptis' Church of
Walnut Hills. But church don't do much good nowadays. They got too much
education for church. This new-fangled education is just a bunch of
ignoramacy. Everybody's just looking for a string to pull to get
something--not to help others. About one-third goes to see what everbody
else is wearing, and who's got the nicest clothes. And they sit back,
and they say, 'What she think she look like with that thing on her
haid?'. The other two-thirds? Why, they just go for nonsense, I guess.
Those who go for religion are scarce as chicken teeth. Yes sir, they go
more for sight-seein' than soul-savin'.

"They's so much gingerbread work goin' on now. Our most prominent people
come from the eastern part of the United States. All wise people come
from the East, just as the wise men did when the Star of Bethlehem
appeared when Christ was born. And the farther east you go, the more
common knowledge a person's got. That ain't no Dream Boat. Nowadays,
people are gettin' crazier everyday. We got too much liberty; it's all
'little you, and big me'. Everybody's got a right to his own opinion,
and the old fashioned way was good enough for my father, and it's good
enough for me.

"If your back trail is clean, you don't need to worry about the future.
Your future life is your past conduct. It's a trailer behind you. And I
ain't quite dead yet, efn I do smell bad!"



Story and Photo by Frank M. Smith

Ex-Slaves
Mahoning County, District #5
Youngstown, Ohio

The Story of MRS. MELISSA (LOWE) BARDEN, Youngstown, Ohio.

[Illustration: Melissa Barden]


Mrs. Melissa (Lowe) Barden of 1671 Jacobs Road, was "bred and born" on
the plantation of David Lowe, near Summersville, Georgia, Chattooga
County, and when asked how old she was said "I's way up yonder
somewheres maybe 80 or 90 years."

Melissa assumed her master's name Lowe, and says he was very good to her
and that she loved him. Only once did she feel ill towards him and that
was when he sold her mother. She and her sister were left alone. Later
he gave her sister and several other slaves to his newly married
daughter as a wedding present. This sister was sold and re-sold and when
the slaves were given their freedom her mother came to claim her
children, but Melissa was the only one of the four she could find. Her
mother took her to a plantation in Newton County, where they worked
until coming north. The mother died here and Melissa married a man named
Barden.

Melissa says she was very happy on the plantation where they danced and
sang folk songs of the South, such as _"Sho' Fly Go 'Way From Me"_, and
others after their days work was done.

When asked if she objected to having her picture taken she said, "all
right, but don't you-all poke fun at me because I am just as God made
me."

Melissa lives with her daughter, Nany Hardie, in a neat bungalow on the
Sharon Line, a Negro district. Melissa's health is good with the
exception of cataracts over her eyes which have caused her to be totally
blind.



Ohio Guide
Ex-Slave Stories
Aug 15, 1937

SUSAN BLEDSOE
462-12th St. S.E., Canton, Ohio.

"I was born on a plantation in Gilee County, near the town of Elkton, in
Tennessee, on August 15, 1845. My father's name was Shedrick Daley and
he was owned by Tom Daley and my mother's name was Rhedia Jenkins and
her master's name was Silas Jenkins. I was owned by my mother's master
but some of my brothers and sisters--I had six brothers and six
sisters--were owned by Tom Daley.

I always worked in the fields with the men except when I was called to
the house to do work there. 'Masse' Jenkins was good and kind to all us
slaves and we had good times in the evening after work. We got in groups
in front of the cabins and sang and danced to the music of banjoes until
the overseer would come along and make us go to bed. No, I don't
remember what the songs were, nothing in particular, I guess, just some
we made up and we would sing a line or two over and over again.

We were not allowed to work on Sunday but we could go to church if we
wanted to. There wasn't any colored church but we could go to the white
folks church if we went with our overseer. His name was Charlie Bull and
he was good to all of us.

Yes, they had to whip a slave sometimes, but only the bad ones, and they
deserved it. No, there wasn't any jail on the plantation.

We all had to get up at sunup and work till sundown and we always had
good food and plenty of it; you see they had to feed us well so we would
be strong. I got better food when I was a slave than I have ever had
since.

Our beds were home made, they made them out of poplar wood and gave us
straw ticks to sleep on. I got two calico dresses a year and these were
my Sunday dresses and I was only allowed to wear them on week days after
they were almost worn out. Our shoes were made right on the plantation.

When any slaves got sick, Mr. Bull, the overseer, got a regular doctor
and when a slave died we kept right on working until it was time for the
funeral, then we were called in but had to go right back to work as soon
as it was over. Coffins were made by the slaves out of poplar lumber.

We didn't play many games, the only ones I can remember are 'ball' and
'marbles'. No, they would not let us play 'cards'.

One day I was sent out to clean the hen house and to burn the straw. I
cleaned the hen house, pushed the straw up on a pile and set fire to it
and burned the hen house down and I sure thought I was going to get
whipped, but I didn't, for I had a good 'masse'.

We always got along fine with the children of the slave owners but none
of the colored people would have anything to do with the 'poor white
trash' who were too poor to own slaves and had to do their own work.

There was never any uprisings on our plantations and I never heard about
any around where I lived. We were all happy and contented and had good
times.

Yes, I can remember when we were set free. Mr. Bull told us and we cut
long poles and fastened balls of cotton on the ends and set fire to
them. Then, we run around with them burning, a-singin' and a-dancin'.
No, we did not try to run away and never left the plantation until Mr.
Bull said we could go.

After the war, I worked for Mr. Bull for about a year on the old
plantation and was treated like one of the family. After that I worked
for my brother on a little farm near the old home place. He was buying
his farm from his master, Mr. Tom Daley.

I was married on my brother's place to Wade Bledsoe in 1870. He has been
dead now about 15 years. His master had given him a small farm but I do
not remember his master's name. Yes, I lived in Tennessee until after my
husband died. I came to Canton in 1929 to live with my granddaughter,
Mrs. Algie Clark.

I had three children; they are all dead but I have 6 grandchildren, 8
great-grandchildren and 9 great-great-grandchildren, all living. No, I
don't think the children today are as good as they used to be, they are
just not raised like we were and do too much as they please.

I can't read or write as none of we slaves ever went to school but I
used to listen to the white folks talk and copied after them as much as
I could."


NOTE: The above is almost exactly as Mrs. Bledsoe talked to our
interviewer. Although she is a woman of no schooling she talks well and
uses the common negro dialect very little. She is 92 years of age but
her mind is clear and she is very entertaining. She receives an Old Age
Pension. (Interviewed by Chas. McCullough.)



Story and Photo by Frank Smith

Topic: Ex-slaves
Mahoning County, District #5
Youngstown, Ohio

The Story of MRS. PHOEBE BOST, of Youngstown, Ohio.

[Illustration: Phoebe Bost]


Mrs. Phoebe Bost, was born on a plantation in Louisiana, near New
Orleans. She does not know her exact age but says she was told, when
given her freedom that she was about 15 years of age. Phoebe's first
master was a man named Simons, who took her to a slave auction in
Baltimore, where she was sold to Vaul Mooney (this name is spelled as
pronounced, the correct spelling not known.) When Phoebe was given her
freedom she assummed the name of Mooney, and went to Stanley County,
North Carolina, where she worked for wages until she came north and
married to Peter Bost. Phoebe claims both her masters were very mean and
would administer a whipping at the slightest provocation.

Phoebe's duties were that of a nurse maid. "I had to hol' the baby all
de time she slept" she said "and sometimes I got so sleepy myself I had
to prop ma' eyes open with pieces of whisks from a broom."

She claims there was not any recreation, such as singing and dancing
permitted at this plantation.

Phoebe, who is now widowed, lives with her daughter, in part of a double
house, at 3461 Wilson Avenue, Campbell, Ohio. Their home is fairly well
furnished and clean in appearance. Phoebe is of slender stature, and is
quite active in spite of the fact that she is nearing her nineties.



WPA in Ohio
By Albert I. Dugan [TR: also reported as Dugen]
Jun 9, 1937

Topic: Ex-slaves
Muskingum County, District #2

BEN BROWN
Ex-slave, 100 years
Keen St., Zanesville, Ohio


Yes suh I wuz a slave in Vaginyah, Alvamaul (Albermarle) county an' I
didn't have any good life, I'm tellin' you dat! It wuz a tough life. I
don't know how old I am, dey never told me down dere, but the folks here
say I'm a hunderd yeah old an' I spect dats about right. My fathah's
name wuz Jack Brown and' my mammy's Nellie Brown. Dey wuz six of us
chillun, one sistah Hannah an' three brothers, Jim, Harrison, an' Spot.
Jim wuz de oldes an' I wuz next. We wuz born on a very lauge plantation
an dey wuz lots an' lots of other slaves, I don't know how many. De log
cabins what we live in[HW:?] on both sides de path make it look like a
town. Mastah's house wuz a big, big one an' had big brick chimneys on de
outside. It wuz a frame house, brown, an' set way back from de road, an'
behind dat wuz de slaves' quarters. De mastah, he wuz Fleming Moon an'
dey say he wuz cap'n in de wah of 1812. De missy wuz Parley Moon and dey
had one son an fouh daughters.

All us chillun an mammy live in a log cabin dat wuz lauge enuf foh us an
we sleep in good beds, tall ones an' low ones dat went undaneath,
trundles dey call 'em, and de covahs wuz comfohtable. De mammies did de
cookin. We et cohn bread, beans, soup, cabbage an' some othah vegtubles,
an a little meat an fish, not much. Cohn cake wuz baked in de ashes,
ash-cake we call 'em an' dey wuz good and sweet. Sometimes we got wheat
bread, we call dat "seldom bread" an' cohn bread wuz called "common"
becos we had it ev'ry day. A boss mammy, she looked aftah de eatins' and
believe me nobuddy got too much.

De meat house wuz full of smoked po'k, but we only got a little piece
now an' den. At hog killin' time we built a big fiah an put on stones
an' when dey git hot we throw 'em in a hogshead dat has watah in it. Den
moah hot stones till de watah is jus right for takin' de hair off de
hogs, lots of 'em. Salt herrin' fish in barls cum to our place an we put
em in watah to soak an den string em on pointed sticks an' hang up to
dry so dey wont be so salty. A little wuz given us with de other food.

I worked about de place doin' chores an takin' care of de younger
chillun, when mammy wuz out in de fields at harvest time, an' I worked
in de fields too sometimes. De mastah sent me sometimes with young
recruits goin' to de army headquartahs at Charlottesville to take care
of de horses an show de way. We all worked hard an' when supper wuz ovah
I wuz too tired to do anything but go to bed. It wuz jus work, eat an
sleep foh most of us, dere wuz no time foh play. Some of em tried to
sing or tell stories or pray but dey soon went to bed. Sometimes I heard
some of de stories about hants and speerits an devils that skeered me so
I ran to bed an' covered mah head.

Mastah died an' den missie, she and a son-in-law took charge of de
place. Mah sistah Hannah wuz sold on de auction block at Richmon to
Mastah Frank Maxie (Massie?) an' taken to de plantation near
Charlottesville. I missed mah sistah terrible an ran away to see her,
ran away three times, but ev'ry time dey cum on horseback an git me jus
befoh I got to Maxies. The missie wuz with dem on a horse and she ax
where I goin an' I told her. Mah hands wuz tied crossways in front with
a big rope so hard it hurt. Den I wuz left on de groun foh a long time
while missie visited Missie Maxie. Dey start home on horses pulling de
rope tied to mah hands. I had to run or fall down an' be dragged on de
groun'. It wuz terrible. When we got home de missie whipped me with a
thick hickory switch an' she wasn't a bit lenient. I wuz whipped ev'ry
time I ran away to see mah sister.

When dere wuz talk of Yankies cumin' de missie told me to git a box an
she filled it with gold an' silver, lots of it, she wuz rich, an I dug a
hole near de hen house an put in de box an' covered it with dirt an'
smoothed it down an scattered some leaves an twigs ovah it. She told me
nevah, nevah to tell about it and I nevah did until now. She showed me a
big white card with writin' on it an' said it say "This is a Union
Plantation" an' put it on a tree so the Yankies wouldn't try to find de
gold and silvers. But I never saw any Yankie squads cum around. When de
wah wuz ovah, de missie nevah tell me dat I wuz free an' I kep' on
workin' same as befoh. I couldn't read or write an' to me all money
coins wuz a cent, big copper cents, dey wuz all alike to me. De slaves
wuz not allowed any learnin an' if any books, papers or pictures wuz
foun' among us we wuz whipped if we couldn't explain where dey cum from.
Mah sistah an' brother cum foh me an tell me I am free and take me with
them to Mastah Maxies' place where dey workin. Dey had a big dinnah
ready foh me, but I wuz too excited to eat. I worked foh Mastah Maxie
too, helpin' with de horses an' doin' chores. Mammy cum' an wuz de cook.
I got some clothes and a few cents an' travelers give me small coins foh
tending dere horses an' I done done odd jobs here an dere.

I wanted some learnin but dere wuz no way to git it until a white man
cleared a place in de woods an' put up branches to make shade. He read
books to us foh a while an' den gave it up. A lovly white woman, Missy
Holstottle, her husband's name wuz Dave, read a book to me an' I
remember de stories to dis day. It wuz called "White an' Black." Some of
de stories made me cry.

After wanderin about doin work where I could git it I got a job on de C
an O Railroad workin' on de tracks. In Middleport, dat's near Pomeroy,
Ohio, I wuz married to Gertie Nutter, a widow with two chillun, an dere
wuz no moah chilluns. After mah wife died I wandered about workin' on
railroads an' in coal mines an' I wuz hurt in a mine near Zanesville.
Felt like mah spine wuz pulled out an I couldn't work any moah an' I cum
to mah neice's home here in Zanesville. I got some compensation at
first, but not now. I get some old age pension, a little, not much, but
I'm thankful foh dat.

Mah life wuz hard an' sad, but now I'm comfortable here with kind
friens. I can't read or write, but I surely enjoy de radio. Some nights
I dream about de old slave times an' I hear dem cryin' an' prayin', "Oh,
Mastah, pray Oh, mastah, mercy!" when dey are bein' whipped, an' I wake
up cryin.' I set here in dis room and can remember mos' all of de old
life, can see it as plain as day, de hard work, de plantation, de
whippings, an' de misery. I'm sure glad it's all over.



James Immel, Reporter

Folklore
Washington County, District Three

SARAH WOODS BURKE
Aged 85


"Yessir, I guess you all would call me an ex-slave cause I was born in
Grayson County, West Virginia and on a plantation I lived for quite a
spell, that is until when I was seven years old when we all moved up
here to Washington county."

"My Pappy's old Mammy was supposed to have been sold into slavery when
my Pappy was one month old and some poor white people took him ter
raise. We worked for them until he was a growed up man, also 'til they
give him his free papers and 'lowed him to leave the plantation and come
up here to the North."

"How did we live on the plantation? Well--you see it was like this we
lived in a log cabin with the ground for floors and the beds were built
against the walls jus' like bunks. I 'member that the slaves had a hard
time getting food, most times they got just what was left over or
whatever the slaveholder wanted to give them so at night they would slip
outa their cabins on to the plantation and kill a pig, a sheep or some
cattle which they would butcher in the woods and cut up. The wimmin
folks would carry the pieces back to the cabins in their aprons while
the men would stay behind and bury the head, skin and feet."

"Whenever they killed a pig they would have to skin it, because they
didn't dare to build a fire. The women folk after getting home would put
the meat in special dug trenches and the men would come erlong and cover
it up."

"The slave holders in the port of the country I came from was men and it
was quite offen that slaves were tied to a whipping stake and whipped
with a blacksnake until the blood ran down their bodies."

"I remembers quite clearly one scene that happened jus' afore I left
that there part of the country. At the slaveholders home on the
plantation I was at it was customary for the white folks to go to church
on Sunday morning and to leave the cook in charge. This cook had a habit
of making cookies and handing them out to the slaves before the folks
returned. Now it happened that on one Sunday for some reason or tother
the white folks returned before the regular time and the poor cook did
not have time to get the cookies to the slaves so she just hid then in a
drawer that was in a sewing chair."

"The white folks had a parrot that always sat on top of a door in this
room and when the mistress came in the room the mean old bird hollered
out at the top of his voice, 'Its in the rocker. It's in the rocker'.
Well the Missus found the cookies and told her husband where upon the
husband called his man that done the whipping and they tied the poor
cook to the stake and whipped her till she fainted. Next morning the
parrot was found dead and a slave was accused because he liked the woman
that had been whipped the day before. They whipped him than until the
blood ran down his legs."

"Spirits? Yessir I believe in them, but we warnt bothered so much by
them in them days but we was by the wild animals. Why after it got dark
we children would have to stay indoors for fear of them. The men folks
would build a big fire and I can remember my Pappy a settin on top of
the house at night with a old flint lock across his legs awaiting for
one of them critters to come close enough so he could shoot it. The
reason for him being trusted with a gun was because he had been raised
by the poor white man who worked for the slaveholder. My Pappy did not
work in the fields but drove a team of horses."

"I remembers that when we left the plantation and come to Washington
County, Ohio that we traveled in a covered wagon that had big white
horse hitched to it. The man that owned the horse was Blake Randolls. He
crossed the river 12 miles below Parkersberg. W. Va. on a ferry and went
to Stafford, Ohio, in Monroe County where we lived until I was married
at the age of 15 to Mr. Burke, by the Justice of the Peace, Edward
Oakley. A year later we moved to Curtis Ridge which is seven miles from
Stafford and we lived their for say 20 year or more. We moved to Rainbow
for a spell and then in 1918 my husband died. The old man hard luck came
around cause three years my home burned to the ground and then I came
here to live with my boy Joe and his family."

"Mr. Burke and myself raised a family of 16 chilluns and at that time my
husband worked at farming for other people at $2.00 a month and a few
things they would give him."

"My Pappy got his education from the boy of the white man he lived with
because he wasn't allowed to go to school and the white boy was very
smart and taught him just as he learned. My Pappy, fought in the Civil
War too. On which side? Well, sho nuff on the site of the North, boy."



Hallie Miller, Reporter
Audrey Meighen, Author-Editor

Folklore: Ex-slaves
Gellia County, District 3

JAMES CAMPBELL
Age 86

[Illustration: James Campbell]


"Well, I'se bo'n Monro' County, West Virginia, on January 15, 1852, jes'
few miles from Union, West Virginia."

"My mammy wuz Dinnah Alexander Campbell an' my pappy wuz Levi Campbell
an' dey bof cum frum Monro' County. Dat's 'bout only place I heerd dem
speak 'bout."

"Der wuz Levi, Floyd, Henry, Noah, an' Nancy, jes' my haf brudders an'
sistahs, but I neber knowed no diffrunce but whut dey wuz my sistahs an'
brudders."

"Where we liv? On Marsa John Alexander's farm, he wuz a good Marsa too.
All Marsa John want wuz plenty wurk dun and we dun it too, so der wuz no
trubble on ouah plantashun. I neber reclec' anyone gittin' whipped or
bad treatment frum him. I does 'members, dat sum de neighbers say dey
wuz treated prutty mean, but I don't 'member much 'bout it 'caise I'se
leetle den."

"Wher'd I sleep? I neber fergit dat trun'l bed, dat I sleep in.

"Marsa John's place kinda stock farm an' I dun de milkin'. You all know
dat wuz easy like so I jes' keep busy milkin' an' gits out de hard work.
Nudder thing I lik to do wuz pick berries, dat wuz easy too, so I dun my
shar' pickin'."

"Money? Lawsy chile, I neber dun seen eny money 'til aftah I dun cum to
Gallipolis aftah der war. An' how I lik' to heah it jingle, if I jes'
had two cents, I'd make it jingle."

"We all had plenty an' good things to eat, beans, corn, tatahs, melons
an' hot mush, corn bread; we jes' seen white flour wunce in a while."

"Yes mam, we had rabbit, wil' turkey, pheasunts, an' fish, say I'se
tellin' you-all dat riful pappy had shure cud kill de game."

"Nudder good ole time wuz maple sugar makin' time, mostly dun at night
by limestone burnin'. Yes, I heped with the 'lasses an' all de time I
wuz a thinkin' 'bout dem hot biscets, ham meat, corn bread an' 'lasses."

"We liv in a cabin on Marse John's place. Der wuzn't much in de cabin
but my mammy kept it mighty clean. Say, I kin see dat ole' fiah place
wid de big logs a burnin' right now; uh, an' smell dat good cookin', all
dun in iron pots an' skillets. An' all de cookin' an' heatin' wuz dun by
wood, why I nebber seed a lump o' coal all time I wuz der. We all had to
cut so much wood an' pile it up two weeks 'for Christmas, an' den when
ouah pile wuz cut, den ouah wurk wuz dun, so we'd jes' hav good time."

"We all woah jeans clos', jes pants an' jacket. In de summah we chilluns
all went barefoot, but in de wintah we all woah shoes."

"Ol' Marse John an' his family liv in a big fine brick hous'. Marse John
had des chilluns, Miss Betty an' Miss Ann an' der wuz Marse Mike an'
Marse John. Marse John, he wuz sorta spiled lik. He dun wen to de war
an' runs 'way frum Harpers Ferry an' cum home jes' sceered to death. He
get himsef a pah o' crutches an' neber goes back. Marse John dun used
dem crutches 'til aftah de war wuz ovah. Den der wuz ol' Missy
Kimberton--de gran'muthah. She wuz 'culiar but prutty good, so wuz
Marse's chilluns."

"Ol' Marse John had bout 20 slaves so de wurk wuzn't so bad on nun ob
us. I kin jes' see dem ol' bindahs and harrows now, dat dey used den. It
would shure look funny usin' 'em now."

"I all'us got up foah clock in de mornin' to git in de cows an' I didn't
hurry nun, 'caise dat tak in de time."

"Ouah mammy neber 'lowed de old folks to tell us chilluns sceery stories
o' hants an' sich lik' so der's nun foah me to 'member."

"Travelin' wuz rather slo' lik. De only way wuz in ox-carts or on hoss
back. We all didn't hay much time fer travelin'. Our Marse wuz too good
to think 'bout runnin' 'way."

"Nun my fam'ly cud read er write. I lurned to read an write aftah I cum
up Norf to Ohio. Dat wuz biggest thing I ebber tackled, but it made me
de happies' aftah I learn't."

"We all went to Sunday School an' meetin'. Yes mam, we had to wurk on
Sundays, too, if we did hav any spare time, we went visit in'. On
Saturday nights we had big time foah der wuz mos' all'us dancin' an'
we'd dance long as de can'les lasted. Can'les wuz all we had any time
fur light."

"I 'member one de neighbah boys tried to run 'way an' de patrollahs got
'im an' fetched 'im back an' he shure dun got a wallopin' fer it. Dat
dun tuk any sich notion out my head. Dem patrollahs dun keep us skeered
to deaf all de time. One, Henry Jones, runned off and went cleah up Norf
sum place an' dey neber did git 'im. 'Course we all wuz shure powahful
glad 'bout his 'scapin'."

"We'se neber 'lowed out de cabin at night. But sum times de oldah 'uns
wud sneak out at night an'tak de hosses an' tak a leetle ride. An' man
it wud bin jes' too bad if ol' Marse John ketched 'em: dat wuz shure
heaps o' fun fer de kids. I 'member hearin' wunce de ol' folks talkin'
'bout de way one Marse dun sum black boys dat dun sumthin' wrong. He
jes' mak 'em bite off de heads o' baccer wurms; mysef I'd ruther tuk a
lickin."

"On Christmus Day, we'd git fiah crackahs an' drink brandy, dat wuz all.
Dat day wuz only one we didn't wurk. On Saturday evenin's we'd mold
candles, dat wuzn't so bad."

"De happies' time o' my life wuz when Cap'n Tipton, a Yankee soljer
cumed an' tol' us de wah wuz ober an' we wuz free. Cap'n. Tipton sez,
"Youse de boys we dun dis foah". We shure didn't lose no time gittin'
'way; no man."

"We went to Lewisburg an' den up to Cha'leston by wagon an' den tuk de
guvment boat, _Genrul Crooks_, an' it brung us heah to Gallipolis in
1865. Dat Ohio shoah shure looked prutty."

"I'se shure thankful to Mr. Lincoln foah whut he dun foah us folks, but
dat Jeff Davis, well I ain't sayin' whut I'se thinkin'."

"De is jes' like de worl', der is lots o' good an' lots o' bad in it."



WPA in Ohio
Federal Writers' Project

Topic: Ex-Slavery
Jefferson Co, District #2

FLEMING CLARK
Ex-Slave, 74+ in years


My father's name wuz Fleming Clark and my mother's name wuz Emmaline
Clark. Both of dem wuz in slavery. Der massa's name wuz David Bowers. I
don't know where dey cum from but dey moved to Bad Creek after slavery
days.

Der wuz three of us chillun. Charles, de oldest, den Anthony next and
den me, de youngest. I wuz workin' for a white man and wuz old enough to
drive cows and work in de 'bacco fields, pickin' worms off de leaves. De
other brudders worked wid my father on another plantation. De house
where I lived wid de white Massa Lewis Northsinge and his Missus, wuz a
log house wid just two rooms. I had just a little straw tick and a cot
dat de massa made himself and I hed a common quilt dat de missus made to
cover me.

I hear dat my grandmother died during slavery and dat my grandfather wuz
killed by his massa during slavery.

On Sunday I would go home and stay wid my father and mother and two
brothers. We would play around wid ball and marbles. We had no school or
church. We were too far away for church.

I earned no money. All I got wus just my food and clothes. I wuz leasted
out to my massa and missus. I ate corn bread, fat hog meat and drank
butter milk. Sometimes my father would catch possum and my mother would
cook them, and bring me over a piece. I used to eat rabbit and fish. Dey
used to go fishin' in de creek. I liked rabbit and groundhog. De food
wuz boiled and roasted in de oven. De slaves have a little patch for a
garden and day work it mostly at night when it wuz moonlight.

We wore geans and shirts of yellow cotton, we wore no shoes up til
Christmas. I wore just de same during de summer except a little coat. We
had no under shirt lik we have now. We wore de same on Sunday. Der wuz
no Sunday suit.

De mass and missus hed one boy. De boy wuz much older than I. Dey were
all kind to me. I remember plenty poor white chillun. I remember Will
and John Nathan. Dey were poor white people.

My massa had three plantations. He had five slaves on one and four on
another. I worked on one with four slaves. My father worked on one wid
my brother and mother. We would wake up at 4 and 5 o'clock and do chores
in de barn by lamp light. De overseer would ring a bell in de yeard, if
it wuz not too cold to go out. If it wuz too cold he would cum and knock
on de door. It wuz 8 or 9 o'clock fore we cum in at night. Den we have
to milk de cows to fore we have supper.

De slaves were punished fore cumin' in too soon and unhitching de
horses. Dey would bend dem accross a barrel and switch dem and den send
dem back to de fields.

I head dem say dey switch de blood out of dem and salt de wound den dey
could not work de next day.

I saw slaves sold. Dey would stand on a block and men would bid for dem.
De highest bidder bought de slaves. I saw dem travel in groups, not
chained, one white man in front and one in back. Dey looked like cattle.

De white folks never learned me to read or write.

Der were petrollers. Dey were mean if dey catch you out late at night.
If a slave wus out late at night he had to have a notice from his massa.
Der wuz trouble if de slaves were out late at night or if dey run off to
another man.

De slaves worked on Saturday afternoons. Dey stay in de cabins on
Saturday nights and Sundays. We worked on New Years day. De massa would
give us a little hard cider on Christmas day. Dey would give a big
supper at corn huskin' or cotton pickin' and give a little play or
somethin' lik dat.

I remember two weddings. Dey hed chicken, and mutton to eat and corn
bread. Dey all ganged round de table. Der wur milk and butter. I
remember one wedding of de white people. I made de ice cream for dem. I
remember playin' marbles and ball.

Sometimes a racer snake would run after us, wrap round us and whip us
with its tail. The first one I remember got after me in de orchard. He
wrapped right round me and whipped me with his tail.

My mother took care of de slaves when dey were sick. You had to be awful
sick if dey didn't make you go out. Dey made der own medicine in those
days. We used asafetida and put a piece in a bag and hung it round our
necks. It wuz supposed to keep us from ketchin' diseases from anyone
else.

When freedom cum dey were all shoutin' and I run to my mother and asked
her what it wuz all bout. De white man said you are all free and can go.
I remember the Yankee soldier comin' through the wheat field.

My parents lived very light de first year after de war. We lived in a
log cabin. De white man helped dem a little. My father went to work
makin' charcoal. Der wuz no school for Negroes and no land that I
remember.

I married Alice Thompson. She wuz 16 and I wuz 26. We hed a little
weddin' down in Bushannon, Virginny. A Baptist preacher named Shirley
married us. Der were bout a dozen at de weddin'. We hed a little dancin'
and banjo play in'. I hed two chillun but dey died and my wife died a
long, long time ago.

I just heard a little bout Abraham Lincoln. I believe he wuz a good man.
I just hed a slight remembrance of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis.
I have heard of Booker T. Washington, felt just de same bout him. A
pretty good man.

I think it wuz a great thing that slavery anded, I would not lik to see
it now.

I joined de Baptist church but I have been runnin' round from place to
place. We always prosper and get along with our fellowmen if we are
religious.

De overseer wuz poor white trash. His rules were you hed to be out on de
plantation before daylight. Sometimes we hed to sit around on de fence
to wait for daylight and we did not go in before dark. We go in bout one
for meals.



K. Osthimer, Author
Aug 12, 1937

Folklore: Stories from Ex-Slaves
Lucas County, District Nine
Toledo, Ohio

The Story of MRS. HANNAH DAVIDSON.


Mrs. Hannah Davidson occupies two rooms in a home at 533 Woodland
Avenue, Toledo, Ohio. Born on a plantation in Ballard County, Kentucky,
in 1852, she is today a little, white-haired old lady. Dark, flashing
eyes peer through her spectacles. Always quick to learn, she has taught
herself to read. She says, "I could always spell almost everything." She
has eagerly sought education. Much of her ability to read has been
gained from attendance in recent years in WPA "opportunity classes" in
the city. Today, this warm-hearted, quiet little Negro woman ekes out a
bare existence on an old age pension of $23.00 a month. It is with
regret that she recalls the shadows and sufferings of the past. She
says, "It is best not to talk about them. The things that my sister May
and I suffered were so terrible that people would not believe them. It
is best not to have such things in our memory."

"My father and mother were Isaac and Nancy Meriwether," she stated. "All
the slaves went under the name of my master and mistress, Emmett and
Susan Meriwether. I had four sisters and two brothers. There was
Adeline, Dorah, Alice, and Lizzie. My brothers were Major and George
Meriwether. We lived in a log cabin made of sticks and dirt, you know,
logs and dirt stuck in the cracks. We slept on beds made of boards
nailed up.

"I don't remember anything about my grandparents. My folks were sold
around and I couldn't keep track of them.

"The first work I did out from home was with my mistress's brother, Dr.
Jim Taylor, in Kentucky, taking care of his children. I was an awful
tiny little somethin' about eight or nine years old. I used to turn the
reel for the old folks who was spinning. That's all I've ever
known--work.

"I never got a penny. My master kept me and my sister Mary twenty-two
long years after we were supposed to be free. Work, work, work. I don't
think my sister and I ever went to bed before twelve o'clock at night.
We never got a penny. They could have spared it, too; they had enough.

"We ate corn bread and fat meat. Meat and bread, we kids called it. We
all had a pint tin cup of buttermilk. No slaves had their own gardens.

"The men just wore jeans. The slaves all made their own clothes. They
just wove all the time; the old women wove all the time. I wasn't old
enough to go in the field like the oldest children. The oldest
children--they _worked_. After slavery ended, my sister Mary and me
worked as ex-slaves, and we _worked_. Most of the slaves had shoes, but
us kids used to run around barefoot most of the time.

"My folks, my master and mistress, lived in a great, white, frame house,
just the same as a hotel. I grew up with the youngest child, Mayo. The
other white children grew up and worked as overseers. Mayo always wanted
me to call him 'Master Mayo'. I fought him all the time. I never would
call him 'Master Mayo'. My mistress wouldn't let anyone harm me and she
made Mayo behave.

"My master wouldn't let the poor white neighbors--no one--tell us we was
free. The plantation was many, many acres, hundreds and hundreds of
acres, honey. There were about twenty-five or thirty families of slaves.
They got up and stood until daylight, waiting to plow. Yes, child, they
was up _early_. Our folks don't know how we had to work. I don't like to
tell you how we were treated--how we had to _work_. It's best to brush
those things out of our memory.

"If you wanted to go to another plantation, you had to have a pass. If
my folks was going to somebody's house, they'd have to have a pass.
Otherwise they'd be whipped. They'd take a big man and tie his hands
behind a tree, just like that big tree outside, and whip him with a
rawhide and draw blood every whip. I know I was scared every time I'd
hear the slave say, 'Pray, Master.'

"Once, when I was milking a cow, I asked Master Ousley, 'Master Ousley,
will you do me a favor?'

"He said in his drawl, 'Of course I will.'

"'Take me to McCracken County,' I said. I didn't even know where
McCracken County was, but my sister was there. I wanted to find my
sister. When I reached the house where my sister stayed, I went through
the gate. I asked if this was the house where Mary Meriwether lived. Her
mistress said, 'Yes, she's in the back. Are you the girl Mr.
Meriwether's looking for?" My heart was in my mouth. It just seemed I
couldn't go through the gate. I never even saw my sister that time. I
hid for a while and then went back.

"We didn't have any churches. My master would come down Sunday morning
with just enough flour to make bread. Coffee, too. Their coffee was
parts of meal, corn and so on. Work all week and that's what they had
for coffee.

"We used to sing, 'Swing low, sweet chariot'. When our folks sang that,
we could really see the chariot.

"Once, Jim Ferguson, a colored man, came to teach school. The white
folks beat and whipped him and drove him away in his underwear.

"I wanted so hard to learn to read, but I didn't even know I was free,
even when slavery was ended.

"I been so exhausted working, I was like an inch-worm crawling along a
roof. I worked till I thought another lick would kill me. If you had
something to do, you did it or got whipped. Once I was so tired I
couldn't work any more. I crawled in a hole under the house and stayed
there till I was rested. I didn't get whipped, either.

"I never will forget it--how my master always used to say, 'Keep a
nigger down' I never will forget it. I used to wait on table and I heard
them talk.

"The only fun we had was on Sunday evening, after work. That was the
only chance we got. We used to go away off from the house and play in
the haystack.

"Our folks was so cruel, the slaves used to whisper 'round. Some of them
knew they was free, even if the white folks didn't want 'em to find out
they was free. They went off in the woods sometimes. But I was just a
little kid and I wasn't allowed to go around the big folks.

"I seen enough what the old folks went through. My sister and I went
through enough after slavery was over. For twenty-one long years we were
enslaved, even after we were supposed to be free. We didn't even know we
were free. We had to wash the white people's feet when they took their
shoes off at night--the men and women.

"Sundays the slaves would wash out their clothes. It was the only time
they had to themselves. Some of the old men worked in their tobacco
patches. We never observed Christmas. We never had no holidays, son,
_no, sir_! We didn't know what the word was.

"I never saw any slave funerals. Some slaves died, but I never saw any
of them buried. I didn't see any funerals at all.

"The white folks would come down to the cabins to marry the slaves. The
master or mistress would read a little out of a book. That's all there
was to it.

"We used to play a game called 'Hulgul'. We'd play it in the cabins and
sometimes with the white children. We'd hold hazelnuts in our hands. I'd
say 'Hulgul' How many? You'd guess. If you hit it right, you'd get them
all and it would be your turn to say 'Hulgul'. If you'd say 'Three!' and
I only had two, you'd have to give me another to make three.

"The kids nowadays can go right to the store and buy a ball to play
with. We'd have to make a ball out of yarn and put a sock around it for
a cover. Six of us would stay on one side of a house and six on the
other side. Then we'd throw the ball over the roof and say 'Catch!' If
you'd catch it you'd run around to the; other side and hit somebody,
then start over. We worked so hard we couldn't play long on Sunday
evenings.

"School? We never seen the inside of a schoolhouse. Mistress used to
read the Bible to us every Sunday morning.

"We say two songs I still remember.

  "I think when I read that sweet story of old,
  When Jesus was here among men,
  How he called little children like lambs to his fold,
  I should like to have been with them then.

  "I wish that his hands had been placed on my head,
  That his arms had been thrown around me,
  That I might have seen his kind face when he said
  'Let the little ones come unto me.'

  "Yet still to his footstool in prayer I nay go
  And ask for a share of his love,
  And that I might earnestly seek Him below
  And see Him and hear Him above.

"Then there was another:

  "I want to be an angel
  And with the angels stand
  With a crown upon my Forehead
  And a harp within my hand.

  "And there before my Saviour,
  So glorious and so bright,
  I'd make the sweetest music
  And praise him day and night.

"And as soon as we got through singing those songs, we had to get right
out to work. I was always glad when they called us in the house to
Sunday school. It was the only chance we'd get to rest.

"When the slaves got sick, they'd take and look after themselves. My
master had a whole wall of his house for medicine, just like a store.
They made their own medicines and pills. My mistress's brother, Dr. Jim
Taylor, was a doctor. They done their own doctoring. I still have the
mark where I was vaccinated by my master.

"People was lousy in them days. I always had to pick louses from the
heads of the white children. You don't find children like that nowadays.

"My mistress had a little roan horse. She went all through the war on
that horse. Us little kids never went around the big folks. We didn't
watch folks faces to learn, like children do now. They wouldn't let us.
All I know about the Civil War was that it was goin' on. I heard talk
about killin' and so on, but I didn't know no thin' about it.

"My mother was the last slave to get off the plantation. She travelled
across the plantation all night with us children. It was pouring rain.
The white folks surrounded her and took away us children, and gave her
so many minutes to get off the plantation. We never saw her again. She
died away from us.

"My brother came to see us once when slavery was over. He was grown up.
My master wasn't going to let him see us and he took up his gun. My
mistress said he should let him see us. My brother gave me a little
coral ring. I thought it was the prettiest thing I ever saw.

"I made my sister leave. I took a rolling pin to make her go and she
finally left. They didn't have any more business with us than you have
right now.

"I remember when Yankee soldiers came riding through the yard. I was
scared and ran away crying. I can see them now. Their swords hung at
their sides and their horses walked proud, as if they walked on their
hind legs. The master was in the field trying to hide his money and guns
and things. The soldiers said, 'We won't hurt you, child.' It made me
feel wonderful.

"What I call the Ku Klux were those people who met at night and if they
heard anybody saying you was free, they would take you out at night and
whip you. They were the plantation owners. I never saw them ride, but I
heard about them and what they did. My master used to tell us he wished
he knew who the Ku Kluxers were. But he knew, all right, I used to wait
on table and I heard them talking. 'Gonna lynch another nigger tonight!'

"The slaves tried to get schools, but they didn't get any. Finally they
started a few schools in little log cabins. But we children, my sister
and I, never went to school.

"I married William L. Davison, when I was thirty-two years old. That was
after I left the plantation. I never had company there. I had to _work_.
I have only one grandchild still living, Willa May Reynolds. She taught
school in City Grove, Tennessee. She's married now.

"I thought Abe Lincoln was a great man. What little I know about him, I
always thought he was a great man. He did a lot of good.

"Us kids always used to sing a song, 'Gonna hang Jeff Davis to a sour
apple tree as we go marchin' home.' I didn't know what it meant at the
time.

"I never knew much about Booker T. Washington, but I heard about him.
Frederick Douglass was a great man, too. He did lots of good, like Abe
Lincoln.

"Well, slavery's over and I think that's a grand thing. A white lady
recently asked me, 'Don't you think you were better off under the white
people?' I said 'What you talkin' about? The birds of the air have their
freedom'. I don't know why she should ask me that anyway.

"I belong to the Third Baptist Church. I think all people should be
religious. Christ was a missionary. He went about doing good to people.
You should be clean, honest, and do everything good for people. I first
turn the searchlight on myself. To be a true Christian, you must do as
Christ said: 'Love one another'. You know, that's why I said I didn't
want to tell about my life and the terrible things that I and my sister
Mary suffered. I want to forgive those people. Some people tell me those
people are in hell now. But I don't think that. I believe we should all
do good to everybody."



Betty Lugabell, Reporter [TR: also reported as Lugabill]
Harold Pugh, Editor
R.S. Drum, Supervisor
Jun 9, 1937

Folklore: Ex-Slaves
Paulding Co., District 10

MARY BELLE DEMPSEY
Ex-Slave, 87 years


"I was only two years old when my family moved here, from _Wilford_
county, Kentucky. 'Course I don't remember anything of our slave days,
but my mother told me all about it."

"My mother and father were named Sidney Jane and William Booker. I had
one brother named George William Booker."

"The man who owned my father and mother was a good man." He was good to
them and never 'bused them. He had quite a large plantation and owned 26
slaves. Each slave family had a house of their own and the women of each
family prepared the meals, in their cabins. These cabins were warm and
in good shape."

"The master farmed his land and the men folks helped in the fields but
the women took care of their homes."

"We had our churches, too. Sometimes the white folks would try to cause
trouble when the negroes were holding their meetings, then a night the
men of the church would place chunks and matches on the white folks gate
post. In the morning the white folks would find them and know that it
was a warning if they din't quit causing trouble their buildings would
be burned."

"There was a farm that joined my parents' master's place and the owner
was about ready to sell the mother slave with her five small children.
The children carried on so much because they were to be separated that
the mistress bought them back although she had very little money to
spare."

"I don't know any more slave stories, but now I am getting old, and I
know that I do not have long to live, but I'm not sorry, I am, ready to
go. I have lived as the Lord wants us to live and I know that when I die
I shall join many of my friends and relatives in the Lord's place.
Religion is the finest thing on earth. It is the one and only thing that
matters."



Former Slave Interview, Special
Aug 16, 1937

Butler County, District #2
Middletown

MRS. NANCE EAST
809 Seventeenth Ave.,
Middletown, Ohio


"Mammy" East, 809 Seventeenth Ave., Middletown, Ohio, rules a four-room
bungalow in the negro district set aside by the American Rolling Mill
Corporation. She lives there with her sons, workers in the mill, and
keeps them an immaculate home in the manner which she was taught on a
Southern plantation. Her house is furnished with modern electrical
appliances and furniture, but she herself is an anachronism, a personage
with no faith in modern methods of living, one who belongs in that vague
period designated as "befo' de wah."

"I 'membahs all 'bout de slave time. I was powerful small but my mother
and daddy done tole me all 'bout it. Mother and daddy bofe come from
Vaginny; mother's mama did too. She was a weaver and made all our
clothes and de white folks clothes. Dat's all she ever did; just weave
and spin. Gran'mama and her chilluns was _sold_ to the Lett fambly, two
brothers from Monroe County, Alabama. _Sole_ jist like cows, honey,
right off the block, jist like cows. But they was good to they slaves.

"My mother's last name was Lett, after the white folks, and my daddy's
name was Harris Mosley, after his master. After mother and daddy
married, the Mosleys done bought her from the Letts so they could be
together. They was brother-in-laws. Den I was named after Miss Nancy.
Dey was Miss Nancy and Miss Hattie and two boys in the Mosleys. Land,
honey, they had a big (waving her hands in the air) plantation; a whole
section; and de biggest home you done ever see. We darkies had cabins.
Jist as clean and nice. Them Mosleys, they had a grist mill and a gin.
They like my daddy and he worked in de mill for them. Dey sure was good
to us. My mother worked on de place for Miss Nancy."

Mammy East, in a neat, voile dress and little pig-tails all over her
head, is a tall, light-skinned Negro, who admits that she would much
rather care for children than attend to the other duties of the little
house she owns; but the white spreads on the beds and the spotless
kitchen is no indication of this fact. She has a passion for the good
old times when the Negroes had security with no responsibility. Her
tall, statuesque appearance is in direct contrast to the present-day
conception of old southern "mammmies."

"De wah, honey? Why, when dem Yankees come through our county mother and
Miss Nancy and de rest hid de hosses in de swamps and hid other things
in the house, but dey got all the cattle and hogs. Killed 'em, but only
took the hams. Killed all de chickens and things, too. But dey didn't
hurt the house.

"After de wah, everybody jist went on working same as ever. Then one day
a white mans come riding through the county and tole us we was free.
_Free!_ Honey, did yo' hear _that_? Why we always had been free. He
didn't know what he was talking 'bout. He kept telling us we was free
and dat we oughtn't to work for no white folks 'less'n we got paid for
it. Well Miss Nancy took care of us then. We got our cabin and a piece
of ground for a garden and a share of de crops. Daddy worked in de mill.
Miss Nancy saw to it that we always had nice clothes too.

"Ku Klux, honey? Why, we nevah did hear tell of no sich thing where we
was. Nevah heered nothin' 'bout dat atall until we come up here, and dey
had em here. Law, honey, folks don't know when dey's well off. My daddy
worked in de mill and save his money, and twelve yeahs aftah de wah he
bought two hundred and twenty acres of land, 'bout ten miles away. Den
latah on daddy bought de mill from de Mosleys too. Yas'm, my daddy was
well off.

"My, you had to be somebody to votes. I sure do 'membahs all 'bout dat.
You had to be edicated and have money to votes. But I don' 'membahs no
trouble 'bout de votin'. Not where we come from, no how.

"I was married down dere. Mah husband's fust name was Monroe after the
county we lived in. My chilluns was named aftah some of the Mosleys. I
got a Ed and Hattie. Aftah my daddy died we each got forty acahs. I sold
mine and come up here to live with my boys.

"But honey dis ain't no way to raise chilluns. Not lak dey raised now.
All dis dishonesty and stealin' and laziness. _No mam!_ Look here at my
gran'sons. Eatin' offen dey daddy. No place for 'em. Got edication, and
caint git no jobs outside cuttin' grass and de like. Down on de
plantation ev'body worked. No laziness er 'oneriness, er nothin! I tells
yo' honey, I sure do wish these chilluns had de chances we had. Not much
learnin', but we had up-bringin'! Look at dem chilluns across de street.
Jist had a big fight ovah dere, and dey mothah's too lazy to do any
thing 'bout it. No'm, nevah did see none o' dat when we was young.
Gittin' in de folkeses hen houses and stealing, and de carryins on at
night. _No mam!_ I sure do wish de old times was here.

"I went back two-three yeahs ago, to de old home place, and dere it was,
jist same as when I was livin' with Miss Nancy. Co'se, theys all dead
and gone now, but some of the gran'chilluns was around. Yas'm, I membahs
heap bout dem times."



Miriam Logan, Reporter
Lebanon, Ohio

Warren County, District 21

Story of WADE GLENN from Winston-Salem North Carolina:
(doesn't know his age)


"Yes Madam, I were a slave--I'm old enough to have been born into
slavery, but I was only a baby slave, for I do not remember about
slavery, I've just heard them tell about it. My Mammy were Lydia Glenn,
and father were Caesar Glenn, for they belonged to old Glenn. I've heard
tell he were a mean man too. My birthday is October 30th--but what
year--I don't know. There were eight brothers and two sisters. We lived
on John Beck's farm--a big farm, and the first work for me to do was
picking up chips o' wood, and lookin' after hogs.

"In those days they'd all kinds of work by hand on the farm. No Madam,
no cotton to speak of, or tobacco _then_. Just farmin' corn, hogs, wheat
fruit,--like here. Yes Madam, that was all on John Beck's farm except
the flax and the big wooley sheep. Plenty of nice clean flax-cloth suits
we all had.

"Beck wasn't so good--but we had enough to eat, wear, and could have our
Saturday afternoon to go to town, and Sunday for church. We sho did have
church, large meetin'--camp meetin'--with lot of singin' an shoutin' and
it was fine! Nevah was no singer, but I was a good dancer in my day,
yes--yes Madam I were a good dancer. I went to dances and to church with
my folks. My father played a violin. He played well, so did my brother,
but I never did play or sing. Mammy sang a lot when she was spinning and
weaving. She sing an' that big wheel a turnin.'

  "When I can read my title clear,
  Up Yonder, Up Yonder, Up Yonder!

and another of her spinnin' songs was a humin:--

  "The Promise of God Salvation free to give..."

"Besides helpin' on the farm, father was ferryman on the Yadkin River
for Beck. He had a boat for hire. Sometimes passengers would want to go
a mile, sometimes 30. Father died at thirty-five. He played the violin
fine. My brother played for dances, and he used to sing lots of songs:--

  "Ol' Aunt Katy, fine ol' soul,
  She's beatin' her batter,
  In a brand new bowl...

--that was a fetchin' tune, but you see I can't even carry it. Maybe I
could think up the words of a lot of those ol' tunes but they ought to
pay well for them, for they make money out of them. I liked to go to
church and to dances both. For a big church to sing I like 'Nearer My
God to Thee'--there isn't anything so good for a big crowd to sing out
big!

"Father died when he was thirty-five of typhoid. We all had to work
hard. I came up here in 1892--and I don't know why I should have, for
Winston-Salem was a big place. I've worked on farm and roads. My wife
died ten years ago. We adopted a girl in Tennennesee years ago, and she
takes a care of me now. She was always good to us--a good girl. Yes,
Madam."

Wade Glenn proved to be not nearly so interesting as his appearance
promised. He is short; wears gold rimmed glasses; a Southern Colonel's
Mustache and Goatee--and capitals are need to describe the style! He had
his comical-serious little countenance topped off with a soft felt hat
worn at the most rakish angle. He can't carry a tune, and really is not
musical. His adopted daughter with whom he lives is rated the town's
best colored cook.



Ohio Guide, Special
Ex-Slave Stories
August 16, 1937

DAVID A. HALL


"I was born at Goldsboro, N.C., July 25, 1847. I never knew who owned my
father, but my mother's master's name was Lifich Pamer. My mother did
not live on the plantation but had a little cabin in town. You see, she
worked as a cook in the hotel and her master wanted her to live close to
her work. I was born in the cabin in town.

"No, I never went to school, but I was taught a little by my master's
daughter, and can read and write a little. As a slave boy I had to work
in the military school in Goldsboro. I waited on tables and washed
dishes, but my wages went to my master the sane as my mother's.

"I was about fourteen when the war broke out, and remember when the
Yankees came through our town. There was a Yankee soldier by the name of
Kuhns who took charge of a Government Store. He would sell tobacco and
such like to the soldiers. He was the man who told me I was free and
then give me a job working in the store.

"I had some brothers and sisters but I do not remember them--can't tell
you anything about them.

"Our beds were homemade out of poplar lumber and we slept on straw
ticks. We had good things to eat and a lot of corn cakes and sweet
potatoes. I had pretty good clothes, shoes, pants and a shirt, the same
winter and summer.

"I don't know anything about the plantation as I had to work in town and
did not go out there very much. No, I don't know how big it was or how
many slaves there was. I never heard of any uprisings either.

"Our overseer was 'poor white-trash', hired by the master. I remember
the master lived in a big white house and he was always kind to his
slaves, so was his wife and children, but we didn't like the overseer. I
heard of some slaves being whipped, but I never was and I did not see
any of the others get punished. Yes, there was a jail on the plantation
where slaves had to go if they wouldn't behave. I never saw a slave in
chains but I have seen colored men in the chain gang since the war.

"We had a negro church in town and slaves that could be trusted could go
to church. It was a Methodist Church and we sang negro spirituals.

"We could go to the funeral of a relative and quit work until it was
over and then went back to work. There was a graveyard on the
plantation.

"A lot of slaves ran away and if they were caught they were brought back
and put in the stocks until they were sold. The master would never keep
a runaway slave. We used to have fights with the 'white trash' sometimes
and once I was hit by a rock throwed by a white boy and that's what this
lump on my head is.

"Yes, we had to work every day but Sunday. The slaves did not have any
holidays. I did not have time to play games but used to watch the slaves
sing and dance after dark. I don't remember any stories.

"When the slaves heard they had been set free, I remember a lot of them
were sorry and did not want to leave the plantation. No, I never heard
of any in our section getting any mules or land.

"I do remember the 'night riders' that come through our country after
the war. They put the horse shoes on the horses backwards and wrapped
the horses feet in burlap so we couldn't hear them coming. The colored
folks were deathly afraid of these men and would all run and hide when
they heard they were coming. These 'night riders' used to steal
everything the colored people had--even their beds and straw ticks.

"Right after the war I was brought north by Mr. Kuhns I spoke of, and
for a short while I worked at the milling trade in Tiffin and came to
Canton in 1866. Mr. Kuhns owned a part in the old flour mill here (now
the Ohio Builders and Milling Co.) and he give me a job as a miller. I
worked there until the end of last year, 70 years, and I am sure this is
a record in Canton. No, I never worked any other place.

"I was married July 4, 1871 to Jennie Scott in Massillon. We had four
children but they are all dead except one boy. Our first baby--a girl
named Mary Jane, born February 21, 1872, was the first colored child
born in Canton. My wife died in 1926. No, I do not know when she was
born, but I do know she was not a slave.

"I started to vote after I came north but did not ever vote in the
south. I do not like the way the young people of today live; they are
too fast and drink too much. Yes, I think this is true of the white
children the same as the colored.

"I saved my money when I worked and when I quit I had three properties.
I sold one of these, gave one to my son, and I am living in the other.
No, I have never had to ask for charity. I also get a pension check
from, the mill where I worked so long.

"I joined church simply because I thought it would make me a better man
and I think every one should belong. I have been a member of St. Paul's
A.M.E. church here in Canton for 54 years. Yesterday (Sunday, August 15,
1937) our church celebrated by burning the mortgage. As I was the oldest
member I was one of the three who lit it, the other two are the only
living charter members. My church friends made me a present yesterday of
$100.00 which was a birthday gift. I was 90 years old the 25th of last
month."

Hall resides at 1225 High Ave., S.W., Canton, Ohio.



Miriam Logan
Lebanon, Ohio

MRS. CELIA HENDERSON, aged 88.
Born Hardin County, Kentucky in 1849

(drawing of Celia Henderson) [TR: no drawing found]


"Mah mammy were Julia Dittoe, an pappy, he were name Willis Dittoe. Dey
live at Louieville till mammy were sold fo' her marster's debt. She were
a powerful good cook, mammy were--an she were sol' fo to pay dat debt."

"She tuk us four chillen 'long wid her, an pappy an th' others staid
back in Louieville. Dey tuk us all on a boat de Big Ribber--evah heah ob
de big ribber? Mississippi its name--but we calls it de big ribber."

"_Natchez on de hill_--dats whaah de tuk us to. Nactchez-on-de-hill dis
side of N' Or'leans. Mammy she have eleven chillen. No 'em, don't
'member all dem names no mo'. No 'em, nevah see pappy no moah. Im
'member mammy cryin' goin' down on de boat, and us chillen a cryin' too,
but de place we got us was a nice place, nicer den what we left. Family
'o name of GROHAGEN it was dat got us. Yas'em dey was nice to mammy fo'
she was a fine cook, mammy wus. A fine cook!"

"Me? Go'Long! I ain't no sech cook as my mammy was. But mah boy, he were
a fine cook. I ain't nothin' of a cook. Yas'em, I cook fo Mis Gallagher,
an fo 4 o' de sheriffs here, up at de jail. But de fancy cookin' I ain't
much on, no'em I ain't. But mah boy an mammy now, dey was fine! Mah boy
cook at hotels and wealthy homes in Louieville 'til he died."

"Dey was cotton down dere in Natchez, but no tobacco like up here. No
'em, I nevah wuk in cotton fields. I he'p mammy tote water, hunt chips,
hunt pigs, get things outa de col' house. Dat way, I guess I went to wuk
when I wuz about 7 or 8 yeahs ol'. Chillen is sma't now, an dey hafto be
taught to wuk, but dem days us culled chillen wuk; an we had a good time
wukin' fo dey wernt no shows, no playthings lak dey have now to takey up
day time, no'em."

"Nevah no church fo' culled people does I 'member in Natchez. One time
dey was a drouth, an de water we hauls from way ovah to de rivah. Now
dat wuz down right wuk, a haulin dat water. Dey wuz an ol' man, he were
powerful in prayer, an gather de darkies unda a big tree, an we all
kneels down whilse he pray fo de po' beastes what needs good clean water
fo to drink. Dat wuz a putty sight, dat church meetin' under de big
tree. I alus member dat, an how, dat day he foun a spring wid he ol'
cane, jes' like a miracle after prayer. It were a putty sight to see mah
cows an all de cattle a trottin' fo dat water. De mens dey dug out a
round pond fo' de water to run up into outa de spring, an it wuz good
watah dat wudn't make de beastes sick, an we-all was sho' happy.'"

"Yes'em, I'se de only one of mammy's chillen livin'. She had 11 chillen.
Mah gran'na on pappy's side, she live to be one hundred an ten yeah's
ol' powerful ol' ev'y body say, an she were part Indian, gran'ma were,
an dat made her live to be ol'.

"Me? I had two husband an three chillen. Mah firs' husban die an lef' me
wid three little chillens, an mah secon' husban', he die 'bout six yeahs
ago. Ah cum heah to Lebanon about forty yeahs ago, because mah mammy
were heah, an she wanted me to come. When ah wuz little, we live nine
yeahs in Natchez on de hill. Den when de wah were ovah Mammy she want to
go back to Louieville fo her folks wuz all theah. Ah live in Louieville
til ah cum to Lebanon. All ah 'members bout de close o'de wah, wuz dat
white folks wuz broke up an po' down dere at Natchez; and de fus time ah
hears de EMANICAPTION read out dey was a lot o' prancin 'roun, an a big
time."

"Ah seen soldiers in blue down there in Natchez on de hill, oncet ah
seen dem cumin down de road when ah were drivin mah cows up de road. Ah
wuz scared sho, an' ah hid in de bushes side o' de road til dey went by,
don' member dat mah cows was much scared though." Mammy say 'bettah hide
when you sees sojers a-marchin by, so dat time a whole line o dem cum
along and I hide."

"Down dere mammy done her cookin' outa doors, wid a big oven. Yo gits yo
fiah goin' jes so under de oven, den you shovels some fiah up on top de
oven fo to get you bakin jes right. Dey wuz big black kettles wid hooks
an dey run up an down like on pulleys ovah de oven stove. Den dere wuz
de col'house. No 'lectric ice box lak now, but a house under groun'
wheah things wuz kept jest as col' as a ice box. No'em don't 'member jes
how it were fix inside."

"Yas'em we comes back to Louieville. Yes'em mah chillen goes to school,
lak ah nevah did. Culled teachers in de culled school. Yes'em mah
chillen went far as dey could take 'em."

"Medicin? My ol' mammy were great fo herb doctorin' an I holds by dat
too a good deal, yas'em. Now-a-days you gets a rusty nail in yo foot an
has lockjaw. But ah member mammy--she put soot mix wid bacon fryin's on
mah foot when ah run a big nail inter it, an mah foot get well as nice!"

"Long time ago ah cum heah to see mammy, Ah got a terrible misery. Ah
wuz asleep a dreamin bout it, an a sayin, "Mammy yo reckon axel grease
goin' to he'p it?" Den ah wake up an go to her wheahs she's sleepin an
say it.

"What fo axel grease gointo hep?--an I tol her, an she say:--

"Axel grease put on hot, wid red flannel goin'to tak it away chile."

Ah were an ol' woman mahse'f den--bout fifty, but mammy she climb outa
bed an go out in de yard where deys an ol' wagon, an she scrapes dat
axel off, an heat it up an put it on wid red flannel. Den ah got easy!
Ah sho was thankful when dat grease an flannel got to wukin on me!

"You try it sometime when you gets one o' dem col' miseries in de winter
time. But go 'long! Folks is too sma't nowadays to use dem good ol'
medicines. Dey jes' calls de Doctor an he come an cut 'em wide open fo
de 'pendycitus--he sho do! Yas'em ah has de doctor, ef ah needs him. Ah
has de rheumatism, no pain--ah jes gets stiffer, an' stiffer right
along."

Mah sight sho am poor now. Ah cain't wuk no mo. Ah done ironin aftah ah
quit cookin--washin an ironin, ah likes a nice wash an iron the bes fo
wuk. But lasyear mah eyes done give out on me, an dey tell me not to
worry dey gointo give me a pension. De man goes to a heap o' wuk to get
dem papers fix jes right."

"Yes 'em, I'se de on'y one o' mammy's chillen livin. Mah, gran'ma on
pappy's side, she live to be one hundred and ten yeah's ol--powerful ol
eve'ybody say. She were part Indian, gran' ma were, an dat made her to
be ol."

"Yes'em, mos' I evah earn were five dollars a week. Ah gets twenty
dollars now, an pays eight dollars fo rent. We is got no mo'--ah
figgers--a wukin fo ourself den what we'd have wuz we slaves, fo dey
gives you a log house, an clothes, an yo eats all yo want to, an when
you _buys_ things, maybe you doesn't make enough to git you what you
needs, wukin sun-up to sun down. No' em 'course ah isn't wukin _now_
when you gits be de hour--wukin people does now; but ah don't know
nothin 'but that way o'doin."

"We weahs cotton cloths when ah were young, jes plain weave it were; no
collar nor cuffs, n' belt like store clothes. Den men's jes have a kinda
clothes like ... well, like a chemise, den some pantaloons wid a string
run through at de knees. Bare feet--yes'em, no shoes. Nevah need no coat
down to Natchez, no'em."

"When we comes back to Louieville on de boat, we sleeps in de straw on
de flo' o' de boat. It gits colder 'n colder! Come big chunks ol ice
down de river. De sky am dark, an hit col' an spit snow. Ah wish ah were
back dere in Natchez dat time after de war were ovah! Yes'em, ah members
dat much."

"Ah wuk along wid mammy til ah were married, den ah gits on by mahsef.
Manny she come heah to Lebanon wid de Suttons--she married Sam. Sutton's
pappy. Yes 'em dey wuz about 12 o'de fambly cum heah, an ah come to see
mammy,... den ah gits me wuk, an ah stays.

"Cookin'? Yes'em, way meat is so high now, ah likes groundhog. Ground
hog is good eatin. A peddler was by wid groun' hog fo ten cents apiece.
Ground hog is good as fried chicken any day. You cleans de hog, an boils
it in salt water til its tender. Den you makes flour gravy, puts it on
after de water am drain off; you puts it in de oven wif de lid on an
bakes hit a nice brown. No 'em, don' like fish so well, nor coon, nor
possum, dey is too greasy. Likes chicken, groundhog an pork." Wid de
wild meat you wants plain boiled potatoes, yes'em Irish potatoes, sho
enough, ah heard o' eatin skunk, and muskrat, but ah ain't cookin em.
But ah tells you dat groun' hog is _good eatin_.

"Ah were Baptized by a white minister in Louieville, an' ah been a
Baptist fo' sixty yeahs now. Yes'em dey is plenty o' colored churches in
Louisville now, but when I were young, de white folks has to see to it
dat we is Baptised an knows Bible verses an' hymns. Dere want no smart
culled preachers like Reverend Williams ... an dey ain't so many now."

"Up to Xenia is de culled school, an dey is mo's smart culled folks, ol'
ones too--dat could give you-all a real story if you finds dem. But me,
ah cain't read, nor write, and don't member's nuthin fo de War no good."

Celia is very black as to complexion; tall spare; has small grey eyes.
In three long interviews she has tried very hard to remember for us from
her youth and back through the years; it seems to trouble her that she
cannot remember more. Samuel Sutton's father married her mother. Neither
she or Samuel had the kind of a story to tell that I was expecting to
hear from what little I know about colored people. I may have tried to
get them on the songs and amusements of their youth too often, but it
seems that most that they knew was work; did not sing or have a very
good time. Of course I thought they would say that slavery was terrible,
but was surprised there too. Colored people here are used to having
white people come for them to work as they have no telephones, and most
white people only hire colored help by the day or as needed. Celia and
Samuel, old age pensioners, were very apoligetic because they are no
longer able to work.



WPA in Ohio
Federal Writers' Project
Bishop & Isleman
Reporter: Bishop
[HW: Revised]

Topic: Ex-Slaves.
Jefferson County, District #5
July 6, 1937

GEORGE JACKSON
Ex-Slave, 79 years


I was born in Loudon County, Virginny, Feb. 6, 1858. My mother's name
was Betsy Jackson. My father's name was Henry Jackson. Dey were slaves
and was born right der in Loudon County. I had 16 brothers and sisters.
All of dem is dead. My brothers were Henry, Richard, Wesley, John and
me; Sisters were Annie, Marion, Sarah Jane, Elizabeth, Alice, Cecila and
Meryl. Der were three other chillun dat died when babies.

I can remember Henry pullin' me out of de fire. I've got scars on my leg
yet. He was sold out of de family to a man dat was Wesley McGuest.
Afterwards my brother was taken sick with small-pox and died.

We lived on a big plantation right close to Bloomfield, Virginny. I was
born in de storeroom close to massa's home. It was called de weavin'
room--place where dey weaved cotton and yarn. My bed was like a little
cradle bed and dey push it under de big bed at day time.

My grandfather died so my mother told me, when he was very old. My
grandmother died when se bout 96. She went blind fore she died. Dey were
all slaves.

My father was owned by John Butler and my grandmother was owned by Tommy
Humphries. Dey were both farmers. My massa joined de war. He was killed
right der where he lived.

When my father wanted to cum home he had to get a permit from his massa.
He would only cum home on Saturday. He worked on de next plantation
joinin' us. All us chillun and my mother belonged to Massa Humphries.

I worked in de garden, hoein' weeds and den I washed dishes in de
kitchen. I never got any money.

I eat fat pork, corn bread, black molasses and bad milk. The meat was
mostly boiled. I lived on fat meat and corn bread. I don't remember
eatin' rabbit, possum or fish.

De slaves on our plantation did not own der own garden. Dey ate
vegetables out of de big garden.

In hot weather I wore gean pants and shirt. De pants were red color and
shirt white. I wore heavy woolen clothes in de winter. I wore little
britches wid jacket fastened on. I went barefooted in de summer.

De mistress scold and beat me when I was pullin' weeds. Sometimes I
pulled a cabbage stead of weed. She would jump me and beat me. I can
remember cryin'. She told me she had to learn me to be careful. I
remember the massa when he went to war. He was a picket in an apple
tree. A Yankee soldier spied and shot him out of de tree.

I remember Miss Ledig Humphries. She was a pretty girl and she had a
sister Susie. She married a Mr. Chamlain who was overseer. Der were
Robert and Herbert Humphries. Dey were older dan me. Robert wuz about 15
years old when de war surrender.

De one that married Susie was de overseer. He was pretty rough. I don't
remember any white neighbors round at dat time.

Der were 450 acres of de plantation. I can't remember all de slaves. I
know der were 80, odd slaves.

Lots of mornings I would go out hours fore daylight and when it was cold
my feet would 'most freeze. They all knew dey had to get up in de
mornin'. De slaves all worked hard and late at night.

I heerd some say that the overseer would take dem to de barn. I remember
Tom Lewis. Then his massa sold him to our massa he told him not to let
the overseer whip him. The overseer said he would whip him. One day Tom
did something wrong. The overseer ordered him to de barn. Tom took his
shirt off to get ready for de whippin' and when de overseer raised de
whip Tom gave him one lick wid his fist and broke de overseer's neck.

Den de massa sold Tom to a man by de name of Joseph Fletcher. He stayed
with old man Fletcher til he died.

Fore de slaves were sold dey were put in a cell place til next day when
dey would be sold. Uncle Marshall and Douglas were sold and I remember
dem handcuffed but I never saw dem on de auction block.

I never knew nothin' bout de Bible til after I was free. I went to
school bout three months. I was 19 or 20 years old den.

My uncle Bill heard dey were goin' to sell him and he run away. He went
north and cum back after de surrender. He died in Bluemont, Virginny,
bout four years ago.

After de days work dey would have banjo pickin', singin' and dancin'.
Dey work all day Saturday and Saturday night those dat had wives to see
would go to see dem. On Sunday de would sit around.

When Massa was shot my mother and dem was cryin'.

When Slaves were sick one of the mammies would look after dem and dey
would call de doctor if she couldn't fix de sick.

I remember de big battle dey fought for four days on de plantation. That
was de battle of Bull Run. I heard shootin' and saw soldiers shot down.
It was one of de worst fights of de war. It was right between Blue Ridge
and Bull Run mountain. De smoke from de shootin' was just like a fog. I
saw horses and men runnin' to de fight and men shot off de horses. I
heard de cannon roar and saw de locust tree cut off in de yard. Some of
de bullets smashed de house. De apple tree where my massa was shot from
was in de orchard not far from de house.

De Union Soldiers won de battle and dey camped right by de house. Dey
helped demselves to de chickens and cut their heads off wid their
swords. Dey broke into de cellar and took wine and preserves.

After de war I worked in de cornfield. Dey pay my mother for me in food
and clothes. But dey paid my mother money for workin' in de kitchen.

De slaves were awful glad bout de surrender.

De Klu Klux Klan, we called dem de paroles, dey would run de colored
people, who were out late, back home. I know no school or church or land
for negroes. I married in Farguar [HW: Farquhar] Co., state of Virginny,
in de county seat. Dat was in 1883. I was married by a Methodist
preacher in Leesburg. I did not get drunk, but had plenty to drink. We
had singin' and music. My sister was a religious woman and would not
allow dancin'.

I have fourteen chillun. Four boys are livin' and two girls. All are
married. George, my oldest boy graduated from grade school and de next
boy. I have 24 grandchillun and one great grandson. John, my son is
sickly and not able to work and my daughter, Mamie has nine chillun to
support. Her husband doesn't have steady work.

The grandchillun are doin' pretty well.

I think Abraham Lincoln was a fine man. It was put in his mind to free
de colored people. Booker T. Washington was alright.

Henry Logan, a colored man that lives near Bridgeport, Ohio is a great
man. He is a deacon in de Mt. Zion Baptist church. He is a plasterer and
liked by de colored and white people.

I think it wuz a fine thing that slavery was finished. I don't have a
thing more than my chillun and dey are all poor. (A grandchild nearby
said, "We are as poor as church mice".) My chillun are my best friends
and dey love me.

I first joined church at Upperville, Virginny. I was buried under de
water. I feel dat everybody should have religion. Dey get on better in
dis life, and not only in dis life but in de life to cum.

My overseer wuz just a plain man. He wasn't hard. I worked for him since
the surrender and since I been a man. I was down home bout six yares ago
and met de overseer's son and he took me and my wife around in his
automobile.

My wife died de ninth of last October (1936). I buried her in Week's
cemetery, near Bridgeport, Ohio. We have a family burial lot there. Dat
where I want to be buried, if I die around here.


Description of GEORGE JACKSON [TR: original "Word Picture" struck out]

George Jackson is about 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 145 lbs. He has
not done any manual labor for the past two years. He attends church
regularly at the Mt. Zion Baptist church. As he only attended school
about four months his reading is limited. His vision and hearing is fair
and he takes a walk everyday. He does not smoke, chew or drink
intoxicating beverages.

His wife, Malina died October 9, 1936 and was buried at Bridgeport,
Ohio. He lives with his daughter-in-law whose husband forks for a junk
dealer. The four room house that they rent for $20 per month is in a bad
state of repairs and is in the midst of one of the poorest sections of
Steubenville.



WPA in Ohio
Federal Writers' Project
Written by Bishop & Isleman
Edited by Albert I. Dugen [TR: also reported as Dugan]

Ex-Slaves
Jefferson County, District #2

PERRY SID JEMISON [TR: also reported as Jamison]
Ex-Slave, 79 years


(Perry Sid Jemison lives with his married daughter and some of his
grand-children at 422 South Sixth Street, Steubenville, O.)

"I wuz borned in Perry County, Alabama! De way I remember my age is, I
was 37 years when I wuz married and dat wuz 42 years ago the 12th day of
last May. I hed all dis down on papers, but I hab been stayin' in
different places de last six years and lost my papers and some heavy
insurance in jumpin' round from place to place.

"My mudders name wuz Jane Perry. Father's name wuz Sid Jemison. Father
died and William Perry was mudders second husband.

"My mudder wuz a Virginian and my father was a South Carolinian. My
oldest brodder was named Sebron and oldest sister wuz Maggie. Den de
next brudder wuz William, de next sister wuz named Artie, next Susie.
Dats all of dem.

"De hol entire family lived together on the Cakhoba river, Perry County,
Alabama. After dat we wuz scattered about, some God knows where.

"We chillun played 'chicken me craner crow'. We go out in de sand and
build sand houses and put out little tools and one thing and another in
der.

"When we wuz all together we lived in a log hut. Der wuz a porch in
between and two rooms on each side. De porch wuz covered over--all of it
wuz under one roof.

"Our bed wuz a wooden frame wid slats nailed on it. We jus had a common
hay mattress to sleep on. We had very respectable quilts, because my
mudder made them. I believe we had better bed covers dem days den we hab
des days.

"My grandmother wuz named Snooky and my grandfather Anthony. I thought
der wasn't a better friend in all de world den my grandmother. She would
do all she could for her grandchildren. Der wuz no food allowance for
chillun that could not work and my grandmother fed us out of her and my
mudders allowance. I member my grandmudder giving us pot-licker, bread
and red syrup.

"De furst work I done to get my food wuz to carry water in de field to
de hands dat wuz workin'. De next work after dat, wuz when I wuz large
enough to plow. Den I done eberything else that come to mind on de farm.
I neber earned money in dem slave days.

"Your general food wuz such as sweet potatoes, peas and turnip greens.
Den we would jump out and ketch a coon or possum. We ate rabbits,
squirrels, ground-hog and hog meat. We had fish, cat-fish and scale
fish. Such things as greens, we boil dem. Fish we fry. Possum we parboil
den pick him up and bake him. Of all dat meat I prefar fish and rabbit.
When it come to vegetables, cabbage wuz my delight, and turnips. De
slaves had their own garden patch.

"I wore one piece suit until I wuz near grown, jes one garment dat we
called et dat time, going out in your shirt tail. In de winter we had
cotton shirt with a string to tie de collar, instead of a button and
tie. We war den same on Sunday, excepting dat mudder would wash and iron
dem for dat day.

"We went barefooted in de summer and in de winter we wore brogan shoes.
Dey were made of heavy stiff leather.

"My massa wuz named Sam Jemison and his wife wuz named Chloe. Dey had
chillun. One of the boys wuz named Sam after his father. De udder wuz
Jack. Der wuz daughter Nellie. Dem wuz all I know bout. De had a large
six room building. It wuz weather boarded and built on de common order.

"Dey hed 750 acres on de plantation. De Jemisons sold de plantation to
my uncle after the surrender and I heard him say ever so many times that
it was 750 acres. Der wuz bout 60 slaves on de plantation. Dey work hard
and late at night. Dey tole me dey were up fore daylight and in de
fields til dark.

"I heard my mudder say dat the mistress was a fine woman, but dat de
marse was rigied [TR: rigid?].

"De white folks did not help us to learn to read or write. De furst
school I remember dat wuz accessbile was foh 90 days duration. I could
only go when it wuz too wet to work in de fields. I wuz bout 16 years
when I went to de school.

"Der wuz no church on de plantation. Couldn't none of us read. But after
de surrender I remember de furst preacher I ebber heard. I remember de
text. His name was Charles Fletcher. De text was "Awake thou dat
sleepeth, arise from de dead and Christ will give you life!" I remember
of one of de baptizing. De men dat did it was Emanuel Sanders. Dis wuz
de song dat dey sing: "Beside de gospel pool, Appointed for de poor."
Dat is all I member of dat song now.

"I heard of de slaves running away to de north, but I nebber knew one to
do it. My mudder tole me bout patrollers. Dey would ketch de slaves when
dey were out late and whip and thress dem. Some of de owners would not
stand for it and if de slaves would tell de massa he might whip de
patrollers if he could ketch dem.

"I knowed one colored boy. He wuz a fighter. He wuz six foot tall and
over 200 pounds. He would not stand to be whipped by de white man. Dey
called him Jack. Des wuz after de surrender. De white men could do
nothin' wid him. En so one day dey got a crowd together and dey shoot
him. It wuz a senation[TR: sensation?] in de country, but no one was
arrested for it.

"De slaves work on Saturday afternoon and sometimes on Sunday. On
Saturday night de slaves would slip around to de next plantation and
have parties and dancin' and so on.

"When I wuz a child I played, 'chicken me craner crow' and would build
little sand houses and call dem frog dens and we play hidin' switches.
One of de play songs wuz 'Rockaby Miss Susie girl' and 'Sugar Queen in
goin south, carrying de young ones in her mouth.'

"I remember several riddles. One wuz:

  'My father had a little seal,
  Sixteen inches high.
  He roamed the hills in old Kentuck,
  And also in sunny Spain.
  If any man can beat dat,
  I'll try my hand agin.'

"One little speech I know:

  'I tumbled down one day,
  When de water was wide and deep
  I place my foot on the de goose's back
  And lovely swam de creek.'

"When I wuz a little boy I wuz follin' wid my father's scythe. It fell
on my arm and nearly cut if off. Dey got somethin' and bind it up.
Eventually after a while, it mended up.

"De marse give de sick slaves a dose of turpentine, blue mass, caromel
and number six.

"After de surrender my mother tole me dat the marse told de slaves dat
dey could buy de place or dey could share de crops wid him and he would
rent dem de land.

"I married Lizzie Perry, in Perry County Alabama. A preacher married us
by the name of John Jemison. We just played around after de weddin' and
hed a good time til bedtime come, and dat wuz very soon wid me.

"I am de father of seven chillun. Both daughters married and dey are
housekeepers. I have 11 grandchillun. Three of dem are full grown and
married. One of dem has graduated from high school.

"Abraham Lincoln fixed it so de slaves could be free. He struck off de
handcuffs and de ankle cuffs from de slaves. But how could I be free if
I had to go back to my massa and beg for bread, clothes and shelter? It
is up to everybody to work for freedom.

"I don't think dat Jefferson Davus wuz much in favor of liberality. I
think dat Booker T. Washington wuz a man of de furst magnitude. When it
come to de historiance I don't know much about dem, but according to
what I red in dem, Fred Douglas, Christopher Hatton, Peter Salem, all of
dem colored men--dey wuz great men. Christopher Hatton wuz de furst
slave to dream of liberty and den shed his blood for it. De three of dem
play a conspicuous part in de emancipation.

"I think it's a good thing dat slavery is ended, for God hadn't intended
there to be no man a slave.

"My reason for joining de church is, de church is said to be de furst
born, the general assembly of the living God. I joined it to be in the
general assembly of God.

"We have had too much destructive religion. We need pure and undefiled
religion. If we had dat religion, conditions would be de reverse of that
dey are."


(Note: The worker who interviewed this old man was impressed with his
deep religious nature and the manner in which there would crop out in
his conversation the facile use of such words as eventually, general,
accessible, etc. The interview also revealed that the old man had a
knowledge of the scripture. He claims to be a preacher and during the
conversation gave indications of the oratory that is peculiar to old
style colored preachers.)


Word Picture of PERRY SID JAMISON and his Home

[TR: also reported as Jemison]

Mr. Jamison is about 5'2" and weighs 130 pounds. Except for a slight
limp, caused by a broken bone that did not heal, necessitating the use
of a cane, he gets around in a lively manner. He takes a walk each
morning and has a smile for everybody.

Mr. Jamison is an elder in the Second Baptist Church and possesses a
deep religious nature. In his conversation there crops out the facile
use of such words as "eventually", "general", "accessible", and the
like. He has not been engaged in manual labor since 1907. Since then he
has made his living as an evangelist for the colored Baptist church.

Mr. Jamison says he does not like to travel around without something
more than a verbal word to certify who and what he is. He produced a
certificate from the "Illinois Theological Seminary" awarding him the
degree of Doctor of Divinity and dated December 15, 1933, and signed by
Rev. Walter Pitty for the trustees and S. Billup, D.D., Ph.D. as the
president. Another document was a minister's license issued by the
Probate court of Jefferson county authorizing him to perform marriage
ceremonies. He has his ordination certificate dated November 7, 1900, at
Red Mountain Baptist Church, Sloss, Alabama, which certifies that he was
ordained an elder of that church; it is signed by Dr. G.S. Smith,
Moderator. Then he has two letters of recommendation from churches in
Alabama and Chicago.

That Mr. Jamison is a vigerous preacher is attested by other ministers
who say they never knew a man of his age to preach like he does.

Mr. Jamison lives with his daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth Cookes, whose
husband is a WPA worker. Also living in the house is the daughter's son,
employed as a laborer, and his wife. Between them all, a rent of $28.00
a month is paid for the house of six rooms. The house at 424 S. Seventh
Street, Steubenville, is in a respectable part of the city and is of the
type used by poorer classes of laborers.

Mr. Jamison's wife died June 4, 1928, and since then he has lived with
his daughter. In his conversation he gives indication of a latent
oratory easily called forth.



K. Osthimer, Author

Folklore: Stories From Ex-Slaves
Lucas County, Dist. 9
Toledo, Ohio

The Story of MRS. JULIA KING of Toledo, Ohio.


Mrs. Julia King resides at 731 Oakwood Avenue, Toledo, Ohio. Although
the records of the family births were destroyed by a fire years ago,
Mrs. King places her age at about eighty years. Her husband, Albert
King, who died two years ago, was the first Negro policeman employed on
the Toledo police force. Mrs. King, whose hair is whitening with age, is
a kind and motherly woman, small in stature, pleasing and quiet in
conversation. She lives with her adopted daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth King
Kimbrew, who works as an elevator operator at the Lasalle & Koch Co.
Mrs. King walks with a limp and moves about with some difficulty. She
was the first colored juvenile officer in Toledo, and worked for twenty
years under Judges O'Donnell and Austin, the first three years as a
volunteer without pay.

Before her marriage, Mrs. King was Julia Ward. She was born in
Louisville, Kentucky. Her parents Samuel and Matilda Ward, were slaves.
She had one sister, Mary Ward, a year and a half older than herself.

She related her story in her own way. "Mamma was keeping house. Papa
paid the white people who owned them, for her time. He left before Momma
did. He run away to Canada on the Underground Railroad.

"My mother's mistress--I don't remember her name--used to come and take
Mary with her to market every day. The morning my mother ran away, her
mistress decided she wouldn't take Mary with her to market. Mamma was
glad, because she had almost made up her mind to go, even without Mary.

"Mamma went down to the boat. A man on the boat told Mamma not to answer
the door for anybody, until he gave her the signal. The man was a
Quaker, one of those people who says 'Thee' and 'Thou'. Mary kept on
calling out the mistress's name and Mamma couldn't keep her still.

"When the boat docked, the man told Mamma he thought her master was
about. He told Mamma to put a veil over her face, in case the master was
coming. He told Mamma he would cut the master's heart out and give it to
her, before he would ever let her be taken.

"She left the boat before reaching Canada, somewhere on the Underground
Railroad--Detroit, I think--and a woman who took her in said: 'Come in,
my child, you're safe now.' Then Mama met my father in Windsor. I think
they were taken to Canada free.

"I don't remember anything about grandparents at all.

"Father was a cook.

"Mother's mistress was always good and kind to her.

"When I was born, mother's master said he was worth three hundred
dollars more. I don't know if he ever would have sold me.

"I think our home was on the plantation. We lived in a cabin and there
must have been at least six or eight cabins.

"Uncle Simon, who boarded with me in later years, was a kind of
overseer. Whenever he told his master the slaves did something wrong,
the slaves were whipped, and Uncle Simon was whipped, too. I asked him
why he should be whipped, he hadn't done anything wrong. But Uncle Simon
said he guessed he needed it anyway.

"I think there was a jail on the plantation, because Mamma said if the
slaves weren't in at a certain hour at night, the watchman would lock
them up if he found them out after hours without a pass.

"Uncle Simon used to tell me slaves were not allowed to read and write.
If you ever got caught reading or writing, the white folks would punish
you. Uncle Simon said they were beaten with a leather strap cut into
strips at the end.

"I think the colored folks had a church, because Mamma was always a
Baptist. Only colored people went to the church.

"Mamma used to sing a song:

  "Don't you remember the promise that you made,
  To my old dying mother's request?
  That I never should be sold,
  Not for silver or for gold.
  While the sun rose from the East to the West?

  "And it hadn't been a year,
  The grass had not grown over her grave.
  I was advertised for sale.
  And I would have been in jail,
  If I had not crossed the deep, dancing waves.

  "I'm upon the Northern banks
  And beneath the Lion's paw,
  And he'll growl if you come near the shore.

"The slaves left the plantation because they were sold and their
children were sold. Sometimes their masters were mean and cranky.

"The slaves used to get together in their cabins and tell one another
the news in the evening. They visited, the same as anybody else.
Evenings, Mamma did the washing and ironing and cooked for my father.

"When the slaves got sick, the other slaves generally looked after them.
They had white doctors, who took care of the families, and they looked
after the slaves, too, but the slaves looked after each other when they
got sick.

"I remember in the Civil War, how the soldiers went away. I seen them
all go to war. Lots of colored folks went. That was the time we were
living in Detroit. The Negro people were tickled to death because it was
to free the slaves.

"Mamma said the Ku Klux was against the Catholics, but not against the
Negroes. The Nightriders would turn out at night. They were also called
the Know-Nothings, that's what they always said. They were the same as
the Nightriders. One night, the Nightriders in Louisville surrounded a
block of buildings occupied by Catholic people. They permitted the women
and children to exscape, but killed all the men. When they found out the
men were putting on women's clothes, they killed everything, women and
children, too. It was terrible. That must have been about eighty years
ago, when I was a very little girl.

"There was no school for Negro children during slavery, but they have
schools in Louisville, now, and they're doing fine.

"I had two little girls. One died when she was three years old, the
other when she was thirteen. I had two children I adopted. One died just
before she was to graduate from Scott High School.

"I think Lincoln was a grand man! He was the first president I heard of.
Jeff Davis, I think he was tough. He was against the colored people. He
was no friend of the colored people. Abe Lincoln was a real friend.

"I knew Booker T. Washington and his wife. I belonged to a society that
his wife belonged to. I think it was called the National Federation of
Colored Women's Clubs. I heard him speak here in Toledo. I think it was
in the Methodist church. He wanted the colored people to educate
themselves. Lots of them wanted to be teachers and doctors, but he
wanted them to have farms. He wanted them to get an education and make
something of themselves. All the prominent Negro women belonged to the
Club. We met once a year. I went to quite a few cities where the
meetings were held: Detroit, Cleveland, and Philadelphia.

"The only thing I had against Frederick Douglass was that he married a
white woman. I never heard Douglass speak.

"I knew some others too. I think Paul Lawrence Dunbar was a fine young
man. I heard him recite his poems. He visited with us right here several
times.

"I knew Charles Cottrell, too. He was an engraver. There was a young
fellow who went to Scott High. He was quite an artist; I can't remember
his name. He was the one who did the fine picture of my daughter that
hangs in the parlor.

"I think slavery is a terrible system. I think slavery is the cause of
mixing. If people want to choose somebody, it should be their own color.
Many masters had children from their Negro slaves, but the slaves
weren't able to help themselves.

"I'm a member of the Third Baptist Church. None join unless they've been
immersed. That's what I believe in. I don't believe in christening or
pouring. When the bishop was here from Cleveland, I said I wanted to be
immersed. He said, 'We'll take you under the water as far as you care to
go.' I think the other churches are good, too. But I was born and raised
a Baptist. Joining a church or not joining a church won't keep you out
of heaven, but I think you should join a church."

(Interview, Thursday, June 10, 1937.)



Story and Photo by Frank M. Smith

Ex-Slaves
Mahoning County, Dist. #5
Youngstown, Ohio

The Story of MRS. ANGELINE LESTER, of Youngstown, Ohio.

[Illustration: Angeline Lester]


Mrs. Angeline Lester lives at 836 West Federal Street, on U.S. Route
#422, in a very dilapidated one story structure, which once was a retail
store room with an addition built on the rear at a different floor
level.

Angeline lives alone and keeps her several cats and chickens in the
house with her. She was born on the plantation of Mr. Womble, near
Lumpkin, Stewart County, Georgia about 1847, the exact date not known to
her, where she lived until she was about four years old. Then her father
was sold to a Dr. Sales, near Brooksville, Georgia, and her mother and a
sister two years younger were sold to John Grimrs[HW:?], who in turn
gave them to his newly married daughter, the bride of Henry Fagen, and
was taken to their plantation, near Benevolence, Randolph County,
Georgia.

When the Civil War broke out, Angeline, her mother and sister were
turned over to Robert Smith, who substituted for Henry Fagen, in the
Confederate Army.

Angeline remembers the soldiers coming to the plantation, but any news
about the war was kept from them. After the war a celebration was held
in Benevolence, Georgia, and Angeline says it was here she first tasted
a roasted piece of meat.

The following Sunday, the negroes were called to their master's house
where they were told they were free, and those who wished, could go, and
the others could stay and he would pay them a fair wage, but if they
left they could take only the clothing on their back. Angeline said "We
couldn't tote away much clothes, because we were only given one pair of
shoes and two dresses a year."

Not long after the surrender Angeline said, "My father came and gathered
us up and took us away and we worked for different white folks for
money". As time went on, Angeline's father and mother passed away, and
she married John Lester whom she has outlived.

Angeline enjoys good health considering her age and she devotes her time
working "For De Laud". She says she has "Worked for De Laud in New
Castle, Pennsylvania, and I's worked for De Laud in Akron". She also
says "De Laud does not want me to smoke, or drink even tea or coffee, I
must keep my strength to work for De Laud".

After having her picture taken she wanted to know what was to be done
with it and when told it was to be sent to Columbus or maybe to
Washington, D.C. she said "Lawsy me, if you had tol' me befo' I'd fixed
up a bit."



Betty Lugabill, Reporter [TR: also reported as Lugabell]
Harold Pugh, Editor
R.S. Drum, Supervisor
Jun 9, 1937

Folklore: Ex-Slaves
Paulding Co., District 10

KISEY McKIMM
Ex-Slave, 83 years


Ah was born in Bourbon county, sometime in 1853, in the state of
Kaintucky where they raise fine horses and beautiful women. Me 'n my
Mammy, Liza 'n Joe, all belonged to Marse Jacob Sandusky the richest man
in de county. Pappy, he belonged to de Henry Young's who owned de
plantation next to us.

Marse Jacob was good to his slaves, but his son, Clay was mean. Ah
remembah once when he took mah Mammy out and whipped her cauz she forgot
to put cake in his basket, when he went huntin'. But dat was de las'
time, cauz de master heard of it and cussed him lak God has come down
from Hebbin.

Besides doin' all de cookin' 'n she was de best in de county, mah Mammy
had to help do de chores and milk fifteen cows. De shacks of all de
slaves was set at de edge of a wood, an' Lawse, honey, us chillun used
to had to go out 'n gatha' all de twigs 'n brush 'n sweep it jes' lak a
floor.

Den de Massa used to go to de court house in Paris 'n buy sheep an'
hogs. Den we use to help drive dem home. In de evenin' our Mammy took de
old cloes of Mistress Mary 'n made cloes fo' us to wear. Pappy, he come
ovah to see us every Sunday, through de summer, but in de winter, we
would only see him maybe once a month.

De great day on de plantation, was Christmas when we all got a little
present from de Master. De men slaves would cut a whole pile of wood fo'
de fiah place 'n pile it on de porch. As long as de whole pile of wood
lasted we didn't hab to work but when it was gone, our Christmas was
ovah. Sometimes on Sunday afternoons, we would go to de Master's honey
room 'n he would gib us sticks of candied honey, an' Lawd chile was dem
good. I et so much once, ah got sick 'nough to die.

Our Master was what white folks call a "miser". I remembah one time, he
hid $3,000, between de floor an' de ceilin', but when he went fur it, de
rats had done chewed it all up into bits. He used to go to de stock
auction, every Monday, 'n he didn't weah no stockings. He had a high
silk hat, but it was tore so bad, dat he held de top n' bottom to-gether
wid a silk neckerchief. One time when ah went wid him to drive de sheep
home, ah heard some of de men wid kid gloves, call him a "hill-billy" 'n
make fun of his clothes. But he said, "Don't look at de clothes, but
look at de man".

One time, dey sent me down de road to fetch somethin' 'n I heerd a bunch
of horses comin', ah jumped ovah de fence 'n hid behind de elderberry
bushes, until dey passed, den ah ran home 'n tol' 'em what ah done seen.
Pretty soon dey come to de house, 125 Union soldiers an' asked fo'
something to eat. We all jumped roun' and fixed dem a dinnah, when dey
finished, dey looked for Master, but he was hid. Dey was gentlemen 'n
didn't botha or take nothin'. When de war was ovah de Master gave Mammy
a house an' 160 acre farm, but when he died, his son Clay tole us to get
out of de place or he'd burn de house an' us up in it, so we lef an'
moved to Paris. After I was married 'n had two children, me an my man
moved north an' I've been heah evah since.



WPA in Ohio
Federal Writers' Project
Bishop & Isleman
Reporter: Bishop
July 7, 1937

Topic: Ex-Slaves.
Jefferson County, District #5
[HW: Steubenville]

THOMAS McMILLAN, Ex-Slave
(Does not know age)


I was borned in Monroe County, Alabam. I do not know de date. My
father's name was Dave McMillan and my mothers name was Minda. Dey cum
from Old Virginny and he was sold from der. We lived in a log house. De
beds hed ropes instead of slats and de chillun slept on de floor.

Dey put us out in de garden to pick out weeds from de potatoes. We did
not get any money. We eat bread, syrup and potatoes. It wuz cooked in
pots and some was made in fire, like ash cakes. We hed possum lots of
times and rabbit and squirrel. When dey go fishin' we hed fish to eat. I
liked most anything they gave us to eat.

In de summer we wore white shirt and pants and de same in de winter. We
wore brogans in de winter too.

De Massa name wuz John and his wife died before I know her. He hed a boy
named John. He lived in a big house. He done de overseeing himself.

He hed lots of acres in his plantation and he hed a big gang of slaves.
He hed a man to go and call de slaves up at 4 o'clock every morning. He
was good to his slaves and did not work them so late at night. I heard
some of de slaves on other plantations being punished, but our boss take
good care of us.

Our Massa learn some of us to read and write, but some of de udder
massas did not.

We hed church under a arbor. De preacher read de bible and he told us
what to do to be saved. I 'member he lined us up on Jordan's bank and we
sung behind him.

De partrollers watch de slaves who were out at night. If dey have a pass
dey were alright. If not dey would get into it. De patrollers whip dem
and carry dem home.

On Saturday afternoon dey wash de clothes and stay around. On Sunday dey
go to church. On Christmas day we did not work and dey make a nice meal
for us. We sometimes shuck corn at night. We pick cotton plenty.

When we were chillun me other brudders and five sisters played marbles
together.

I saw de blue jackets, dat's what we called de Yankee soldiers. When we
heard of our freedom we hated it because we did not know what it was for
and did not know where to go. De massa say we could stay as long as we
pleased.

De Yankee soldier asked my father what dey wuz all doing around der and
that dey were free. But we did not know where to go. We stayed on wid de
massa for a long time after de war wuz over.

De Klu Klux Klan wuz pretty rough to us and dey whip us. Der was no
school for us colored people.

I wuz nearly 20 when I first took up with my first woman and lived with
her 20 years den I marry my present wife. I married her in Alabama and
Elder Worthy wuz de preacher. We had seven chillun, all grandchillun are
dead. I don't know where dey all are at excepting me daughter in
Steubenville and she is a widow. She been keepin' rooms and wash a
little for her living.

I didn't hear much bout de politics but I think Abraham Lincoln done
pretty well. I reckon Jefferson Davis did the best he knowed how. Booker
T. Washington, I nebber seen him, but he wuz a great man.

Religion is all right; can't find no fault with religion. I think all of
us ought to be religious because the dear Lord died for us all. Dis
world would be a better place if we all were religious.


Word Picture of MR. MCMILLAN

Thomas McMillan, 909 Morris Ave., Steubenville, Ohio. He lives with his
wife, Toby who is over 50 years old. He makes his living using a hand
cart to collect junk. He is 5'6" tall and weighs 155 pounds. His beard
is gray and hair white and close cropped. He attends Mt. Zion Baptist
Church and lives his religion. He is able to read a little and takes
pleasure in reading the bible and newspaper.

He has seven children. He has not heard of them for several years except
one daughter who lives in Steubenville and is a widow.

His home is a three room shack and his landlord lets him stay there rent
free. The houses in the general surrounding are in a run down condition.



Wilbur Ammon, Editor
George Conn, Writer
C.R. McLean, District Supervisor
June 16, 1937

Folklore
Summit County, District #9

SARAH MANN


Mrs. Mann places her birth sometime in 1861 during the first year of the
Civil War, on a plantation owned by Dick Belcher, about thirty miles
southwest of Richmond, Virginia.

Her father, Frederick Green, was owned by Belcher and her mother, Mandy
Booker, by Race Booker on an adjoining plantation. Her grandparents were
slaves of Race Booker.

After the slaves were freed she went with her parents to Clover Hill, a
small hamlet, where she worked out as a servant until she married
Beverly Mann. Rev. Mike Vason, a white minister, performed the ceremony
with, only her parents and a few friends present. At the close of the
ceremony, the preacher asked if they would "live together as Isaac and
Rebecca did." Upon receiving a satisfactory reply, he pronounced them
man and wife.

Mr. and Mrs. Mann were of a party of more than 100 ex-slaves who left
Richmond in 1880 for Silver Creek where Mr. Mann worked in the coal
mines. Two years later they moved to Wadsworth where their first child
was born.

In 1883 they came to Akron. Mr. Mann, working as laborer, was able to
purchase two houses on Furnace Street, the oldest and now one of the
poorer negro sections of the city. It is situated on a high bluff
overlooking the Little Cuyahoga River.

Today Mrs. Mann, her daughter, a son-in-law and one grandchild occupy
one of the houses. Three children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Mann, but
only one is living. Mr. Mann, a deacon in the church, died three years
ago. Time has laid its heavy hand on her property. It is the average
home of colored people living in this section, two stories, small front
yeard, enclosed with wooden picket fence. A large coal stove in front
room furnishes heat. In recent years electricity has supplanted the
overhead oil lamp.

Most of the furnishings were purchased in early married life. They are
somewhat worn but arranged in orderly manner and are clean.

Mrs. Mann is tall and angular. Her hair is streaked with gray, her face
thin, with eyes and cheek bones dominating. With little or no southern
accent, she speaks freely of her family, but refrains from discussing
affairs of others of her race.

She is a firm believer in the Bible. It is apparent she strives to lead
a religious life according to her understanding. She is a member of the
Second Baptist Church since its organization in 1892.

Having passed her three score and ten years she is "ready to go when the
Lord calls her."



WPA in Ohio
Federal Writers' Project
Bishop & Isleman
Reporter: Bishop
(Revision)
July 8, 1937

Topic: Ex-Slaves
Jefferson County, District #5

JOHN WILLIAMS MATHEUS
Ex-Slave, 77 years


"My mothers name was Martha. She died when I was eleven months old. My
mother was owned by Racer Blue and his wife Scotty. When I was bout
eleven or twelve they put me out with Michael Blue and his wife Mary.
Michael Blue was a brother to Racer Blue. Racer Blue died when I was
three or four. I have a faint rememberance of him dying suddenly one
night and see him laying out. He was the first dead person I saw and it
seemed funny to me to see him laying there so stiff and still."

"I remember the Yankee Soldier, a string of them on horses, coming
through Springfield, W. Va. It was like a circus parade. What made me
remember that, was a colored man standing near me who had a new hat on
his head. A soldier came by and saw the hat and he took it off the
colored man's head, and put his old dirty one on the colored man's head
and put the nice new one on his own head."

"I think Abraham Lincoln the greatest man that ever lived. He belonged
to no church; but he sure was Christian. I think he was born for the
time and if he lived longer he would have done lots of good for the
colored people."

"I wore jeans and they got so stiff when they were wet that they would
stand up. I wore boots in the winter, but none in the summer."

"When slavery was going on there was the 'underground railway' in Ohio.
But after the surrender some of the people in Ohio were not so good to
the colored people. The old folks told me they were stoned when they
came across the river to Ohio after the surrender and that the colored
people were treated like cats and dogs."

"Mary Blue had two daughters, both a little older than me and I played
with them. One day they went to pick berries. When they came back they
left the berries on the table in the kitchen and went to the front room
to talk to their mother. I remember the two steps down to the room and I
came to listen to them tell about berry pickin'. Then their mother told
me to go sweep the kitchen. I went and took the broom and saw the
berries. I helped myself to the berries. Mary wore soft shoes, so I did
not hear her coming until she was nearly in the room. I had berries in
my hand and I closed my hand around the handle of the broom with the
berries in my hand. She says, 'John, what are you doin'? I say,
'nothin'. Den she say, 'Let me see your hand! I showed her my hand with
nothin' in it. She say, 'let me see the other hand! I had to show her my
hand with the berries all crushed an the juice on my hand and on the
handle of the broom."

"Den she say; 'You done two sins'. 'You stole the berries!, I don't mind
you having the berries, but you should have asked for them. 'You stole
them and you have sinned. 'Den you told a lie! She says, 'John I must
punish you, I want you to be a good man; don't try to be a great man, be
a good man then you will be a great man! She got a switch off a peach
tree and she gave me a good switching. I never forgot being caught with
the berries and the way she talked bout my two sins. That hurt me worse
than the switching. I never stole after that."

"I stayed with Michael and Mary Blue till I was nineteen. They were
supposed to give me a saddle and bridle, clothes and a hundred dollars.
The massa made me mad one day. I was rendering hog fat. When the
crackling would fizzle, he hollo and say 'don't put so much fire.' He
came out again and said, 'I told you not to put too much fire,' and he
threatened to give me a thrashing. I said, 'If you do I will throw rocks
at you.'"

"After that I decided to leave and I told Anna Blue I was going. She
say, 'Don't do it, you are too young to go out into the world.' I say, I
don't care, and I took a couple of sacks and put in a few things and
walked to my uncle. He was a farmer at New Creek. He told me he would
get me a job at his brothers farm until they were ready to use me in the
tannary. He gave me eight dollars a month until the tanner got ready to
use me. I went to the tanner and worked for eight dollars a week. Then I
came to Steubenville. I got work and stayed in Steubenville 18 months.
Then I went back and returned to Steubenville in 1884."


Word Picture of JOHN WILLIAM MATHEUS

Mr. John William Matheus is about 5'4" and weighs about 130 pounds. He
looks smart in his bank messenger uniform. On his sleeve he wears nine
stripes. Each stripe means five years service. Two years were served
before he earned his first strip, so that gives him a total of 47 years
service for the Union Savings Bank and Trust Company, Steubenville,
Ohio. He also wears a badge which designates him as a deputy sheriff of
Jefferson County.

Mr. Matheus lives with his wife at 203 Dock Street. This moderate sized
and comfortable home he has owned for over 40 years. His first wife died
several years ago. During his first marriage nine children came to them.
In his second marriage one child was born.

His oldest son is John Frederick Matheus. He is a professor at
[Charleston] [HW: West Virginia] State College Institute. He was born in
Steubenville and graduated from Steubenville High School. Later he
studied in Cleveland and New York. He speaks six languages fluently and
is the author of many published short stories.

Two other sons are employed in the post office, one is a mail carrier
and the other is a janitor. His only daughter is a domestic servant.

Mr. Matheus attended school in Springfield, W. Va., for four years. When
he came to Steubenville he attended night school for two winters. Mr.
Dorhman J. Sinclair who founded the Union Savings Bank and Trust Co.,
employed Mr. Matheus from the beginning and in recognition of his loyal
service bequeated to Mr. Matheus a pension of fifty dollars per month.

Mr. Matheus is a member of the office board of the Quinn Memorial A.M.E.
He has been an elder of that church for many years and also trustee and
treasure. He frequently serves on the jury. He is well known and highly
respected in the community.



Sarah Probst, Reporter
Audrey Meighen, Author-Editor

Folklore: Ex-Slaves
Meigs County, District Three

MR. WILLIAM NELSON
Aged 88


"Whar's I bawned? 'Way down Belmont Missouri, jes' cross frum C'lumbus
Kentucky on de Mississippi. Oh, I 'lows 'twuz about 1848, caise I wuz
fo'teen when Marse Ben done brung me up to de North home with him in
1862."

"My Pappy, he wuz 'Kaintuck', John Nelson an' my mammy wuz Junis Nelson.
No suh, I don't know whar dey wuz bawned, first I member 'bout wuz my
pappy buildin' railroad in Belmont. Yes suh, I had five sistahs and
bruthahs. Der names--lets see--Oh yes--der wuz, John, Jim, George, Suzan
and Ida. No, I don't member nothin' 'bout my gran'parents."

"My mammy had her own cabin for hur and us chilluns. De wuz rails stuck
through de cracks in de logs fo' beds with straw on top fo' to sleep
on."

"What'd I do, down dar on plantashun? I hoed corn, tatahs, garden
onions, and hepped take cair de hosses, mules an oxen. Say--I could hoe
onions goin' backwards. Yessuh, I cud."

"De first money I see wuz what I got frum sum soljers fo' sellin' dem a
bucket of turtl' eggs. Dat wuz de day I run away to see sum Yankee
steamboats filled with soljers."

"Marse Dick, Marse Beckwith's son used to go fishin' with me. Wunce we
ketched a fish so big it tuk three men to tote it home. Yes suh, we
always had plenty to eat. What'd I like best? Corn pone, ham, bacon,
chickens, ducks and possum. My mammy had hur own garden. In de summah
men folks weah overalls, and de womins weah cotton and all of us went
barefooted. In de winter we wore shoes made on de plantashun. I wuzn't
married 'til aftah I come up North to Ohio."

"Der wuz Marse Beckwith, mighty mean ol' devel; Miss Lucy, his wife, and
de chilluns, Miss Manda, Miss Nan, and Marse Dick, and the other son wuz
killed in der war at Belmont. Deir hous' wuz big and had two stories and
porticoes and den Marse Beckwith owned land with cabins on 'em whar de
slaves lived."

"No suh, we didn't hab no driver, ol' Marse dun his own drivin'. He was
a mean ol' debel and whipped his slaves of'n and hard. He'd make 'em
strip to the waist then he's lash 'em with his long blacksnake whip. Ol'
Marse he'd whip womin same as men. I member seein' 'im whip my mammy
wunce. Marse Beckwith used the big smoke hous' for de jail. I neber see
no slaves sold but I have seen 'em loaned and traded off."

"I member one time a slave named Tom and his wife, my mammy an' me tried
to run away, but we's ketched and brung back. Ol' Marse whipped Tom and
my mammy and den sent Tom off on a boat."

"One day a white man tol' us der wuz a war and sum day we'd be free."

"I neber heard of no 'ligion, baptizing', nor God, nor Heaven, de Bible
nor education down on de plantashun, I gues' dey didn't hab nun of 'em.
When Marse Ben brung me North to Ohio with him wuz first time I knowed
'bout such things. Marse Ben and Miss Lucy mighty good to me, sent me to
school and tole me 'bout God and Heaven and took me to Church. No, de
white folks down dar neber hepped me to read or write."

"The slaves wus always tiahed when dey got wurk dim in evenins' so dey
usually went to bed early so dey'd be up fo' clock next mornin'. On
Christmas Day dey always had big dinna but no tree or gifts."

"How'd I cum North? Well, one day I run 'way from plantashun and hunted
'til I filled a bucket full turtl' eggs den I takes dem ovah on river
what I hears der's sum Yankee soljers and de soljers buyed my eggs and
hepped me on board de boat. Den Marse Ben, he wuz Yankee ofser, tol 'em
he take cair me and he did. Den Marse Ben got sick and cum home and
brung me along and I staid with 'em 'til I wuz 'bout fo'ty, when I gets
married and moved to Wyllis Hill. My wife, was Mary Williams, but she
died long time 'go and so did our little son, since dat time I've lived
alone."

"Yessuh, I'se read 'bout Booker Washington."

"I think Abraham Lincoln wuz a mighty fine man, he is de 'Saint of de
colured race'."

"Good day suh."



WPA in Ohio
Federal Writers' Project
Bishop & Isleman
Jun 9, 1937

Topic: Ex-Slaves
Jefferson County, District #2

MRS. CATHERINE SLIM
Ex-slave, 87 years,
939 N. 6th St., Steubenville


I wuz born in Rockingham, Virginny; a beautiful place where I cum from.
My age is en de courthouse, Harrisonburg, Virginny. I dunno de date of
my birth, our massa's wouldn't tell us our age.

My mother's name wuz Sally. She wuz a colored woman and she died when I
wuz a little infant. I don't remember her. She had four chillun by my
father who wuz a white man. His name wuz Jack Rose. He made caskets for
de dead people.

My mother had six chillun altogether. De name of de four by my father
wuz, Frances de oldest sister, Sarah wuz next, den Mary. I am de baby,
all three are dead cept me. I am very last one livin'.

I had two half-brudders, dey were slaves too, John and Berwin. Berwin
wuz drowned in W. Va. He wuz bound out to Hamsburger and drowned just
after he got free. Dey did not sold infant slaves. Den dey bound out by
de court. John got free and went to Liberia and died after he got there.
He wuz my oldest brudder.

I wuz bound out by de court to Marse Barley and Miss Sally. I had to git
up fore daylight and look at de clock wid de candle. I held up de candle
to de clock, but couldn't tell de time. Den dey ask me if de little hand
wuz on three mark or four mark. Dey wouldn't tell me de time but bye and
bye I learned de time myself.

I asked de mistress to learn me a book and she sez, "Don't yo know we
not allowed to learn you niggers nothin', don't ask me dat no more. I'll
kill you if you do." I wuzn't goin' to ask her dat anymore.

When I wuz ten years old I wuz doin' women's work. I learned to do a
little bit of eberthin'. I worked on de farm and I worked in de house. I
learned to do a little bit of eberthin'. On de farm I did eberthin' cept
plow.

I lived in a nice brick house. En de front wuz de valley pike. It wuz
four and three-quarter miles to Harrisonburg and three and three-quarter
miles to Mt. Crawford. It wuz a lobley place and a fine farm.

I used to sleep in a waggoner's bed. It wuz like a big bed-comfort,
stuffed with wool. I laid it on de floor and sleep on it wid a blanket
ober me, when I get up I roll up de bed and push it under de mistress's
bed.

I earned money, but nebber got it. Dey wuz so mean I run away. I think
dey wuz so mean dat dey make me run away and den dey wouldn't heb to pay
de money. If I could roll up my sleeve I could show you a mark that cum
from a beatin' I had wid a cow-hide whip. Dey whip me for nothin'.

After I run away I had around until the surrender cum. Eberybody cum to
life then. It wuz a hot time in de ole place when dey sezs freedom. The
colored ones jumped straight up and down.

De feed us plenty. We had pork, corn, rabbit, dey hed eberythin' nice.
Dey made us stan' up to eat. Dey no low us sit down to eat. Der wuz bout
twenty or thirty slaves on de farm an some ob dem hed der own gardens.
Anythin' dey gib us to eat I liked. Dey had bees and honey.

I wore little calico dress in de summer, white, red, and blue. Some hed
flowers and some hed strips. We went barefooted until Christmas. Den dey
gabe us shoes. De shoes were regular ole common shoes; not eben
calfskin. Dey weaved linen and made us our clothes. Dey hab sleeves,
plain body and little skirt. I hed two of dem for winter.

I hab seen lots of slaves chained together, goin' south, some wuz
singin' and some wuz cryin'. Some hed dey chillun and some didn't.

Dey took me to church wid dem and dey put me behind de door. Dey tole me
to set der till dey cum out. And when I see dem cumin' out to follow
behind and get into de carrage. I dursent say nothin'. I wuz like a
petty dog.



INTERVIEW OF EX-SLAVE FROM VIRGINIA
Reported by Rev. Edward Knox
Jun. 9, 1937

Topic: Ex-slaves
Guernsey County, District #2

JENNIE SMALL
Ex-slave, over 80 years of age


I was born in Pocahontas County, Virginia in the drab and awful
surroundings of slavery. The whipping post and cruelty in general made
an indelible impression in my mind. I can see my older brothers in their
tow-shirts that fell knee-length which was sometimes their only garment,
toiling laborously under a cruel lash as the burning sun beamed down
upon their backs.

Pappy McNeal (we called the master Pappy) was cruel and mean. Nothing
was too hard, too sharp, or too heavy to throw at an unfortunate slave.
I was very much afraid of him; I think as much for my brothers' sakes as
for my own. Sometimes in his fits of anger, I was afraid he might kill
someone. However, one happy spot in my heart was for his son-in-law who
told us: "Do not call Mr. McNeal the master, no one is your master but
God, call Mr. McNeal, mister." I have always had a tender spot in my
heart for him.

There are all types of farm work to do and also some repair work about
the barns and carriages. It was one of these carriages my brother was
repairing when the Yankees came, but I am getting ahead of my story.

I was a favorite of my master. I had a much better sleeping quarters
than my brothers. Their cots were made of straw or corn husks. Money was
very rare but we were all well-fed and kept. We wore tow-shirts which
were knee-length, and no shoes. Of course, some of the master's
favorites had some kind of footwear.

There were many slaves on our plantation. I never saw any of them
auctioned off or put in chains. Our master's way of punishment was the
use of the whipping post. When we received cuts from the whip he put
soft soap and salt into our wounds to prevent scars. He did not teach us
any reading or writing; we had no special way of learning; we picked up
what little we knew.

When we were ill on our plantation, Dr. Wallace, a relative of Master
McNeal, took care of us. We were always taught to fear the Yankees. One
day I was playing in the yard of our master, with the master's little
boy. Some Yankee Soldiers came up and we hid, of course, because we had
been taught to fear the soldiers. One Yankee soldier discovered me,
however, and took me on his knee and told me that they were our friends
end not our enemies; they were here to help us. After that I loved them
instead of fearing them. When we received our freedom, our master was
very sorry, because we had always done all their work, and hard labor.



Geo. H. Conn, Writer
Wilbur C. Ammon, Editor
C.R. McLean, District Supervisor
June 11, 1937

Folklore
Summit County, District #5

ANNA SMITH


In a little old rocking chair, sits an old colored "mammy" known to her
friends as "Grandma" Smith, spending the remaining days with her
grandchildren. Small of stature, tipping the scales at about 100 lbs.
but alert to the wishes and cares of her children, this old lady keeps
posted on current events from those around her. With no stoop or bent
back and with a firm step she helps with the housework and preparing of
meals, waiting, when permitted, on others. In odd moments, she like to
work at her favorite task of "hooking" rag rugs. Never having worn
glasses, her eyesight is the envy of the younger generation. She spends
most of the time at home, preferring her rocker and pipe (she has been
smoking for more than eighty year) to a back seat in an automobile.

When referring to Civil War days, her eyes flash and words flow from her
with a fluency equal to that of any youngster. Much of her speech is
hard to understand as she reverts to the early idiom and pronunciation
of her race. Her head, tongue, arms and hands all move at the same time
as she talks.

A note of hesitancy about speaking of her past shows at times when she
realizes she is talking to one not of her own race, but after eight
years in the north, where she has been treated courteously by her white
neighbors, that old feeling of inferiority under which she lived during
slave days and later on a plantation in Kentucky has about disappeared.

Her home is comfortably furnished two story house with a front porch
where, in the comfort of an old rocking chair, she smokes her pipe and
dreams as the days slip away. Her children and their children are
devoted to her. With but a few wants or requests her days a re quiet and
peaceful.

Kentucky with its past history still retains its hold. She refers to it
as "God's Chosen Land" and would prefer to end her days where about
eighty years of her life was spent.

On her 101st birthday (1935) she posed for a picture, seated in her
favorite chair with her closest friend, her pipe.

Abraham Lincoln is as big a man with her today as when he freed her
people.

With the memories of the Civil War still fresh in her mind and and
secret longing to return to her Old Kentucky Home, Mrs. Anna Smith, born
in May of 1833 and better known to her friends as "Grandma" Smith, is
spending her remaining days with her grandchildren, in a pleasant home
at 518 Bishop Street.

On a plantation owned by Judge Toll, on the banks of the Ohio River at
Henderson, Ke., Anna (Toll) Smith was born. From her own story, and
information gathered from other sources the year 1835 is as near a
correct date as possible to obtain.

Anna Smith's parents were William Clarke and Miranda Toll. Her father
was a slave belonging to Judge Toll. It was common practice for slaves
to assume the last name of their owners.

It was before war was declared between the north and south that she was
married, for she claims her daughter was "going on three" when President
Lincoln freed the slaves. Mrs. Smith remembers her father who died at
the age of 117 years.

Her oldest brother was 50 when he joined the confederate army. Three
other brothers were sent to the front. One was an ambulance attendant,
one belonged to the cavalry, one an orderly seargeant and the other
joined the infantry. All were killed in action. Anna Smith's husband
later joined the war and was reported killed.

When she became old enough for service she was taken into the "Big
House" of her master, where she served as kitchen helper, cook and later
as nurse, taking care of her mistress' second child.

She learned her A.B.C.'s by listening to the tutor teaching the children
of Judge Toll.

"Grandma" Smith's vision is the wonder of her friends. She has never
worn glasses and can distinguish objects and people at a distance as
readily as at close range. She occupies her time by hooking rag rugs and
doing housework and cooking. She is "on the go" most of the time, but
when need for rest overtakes her, she resorts to her easy chair, a
pipeful of tobacco and a short nap and she is ready to carry on.

Many instances during those terrible war days are fresh in her mind: men
and boys, in pairs and groups passing the "big house" on their way to
the recruiting station on the public square, later going back in squads
and companies to fight; Yankee soldiers raiding the plantation, taking
corn and hay or whatever could be used by the northern army; and
continual apprehension for the menfolk at the front.

She remembers the baying of blood hounds at night along the Ohio River,
trying to follow the scent of escaping negroes and the crack of firearms
as white people, employed by the plantation owners attempted to halt the
negroes in their efforts to cross the Ohio River into Ohio or to join
the Federal army.

Referring to her early life, she recalls no special outstanding events.
Her treatment from her master and mistress was pleasant, always
receiving plenty of food and clothing but never any money.

In a grove not far from the plantation home, the slaves from the nearby
estates meet on Sunday for worship. Here under the spreading branches
they gathered for religious worship and to exchange news.

When President Lincoln issued his proclamation freeing the slaves, and
the news reached the plantation, she went to her master to learn if she
was free. On learning it was true she returned to her parents who were
living on another plantation.

She has been living with her grandchildren for the past nine years,
contented but ready to go when the "Good Lord calls her."



Sarah Probst, Reporter
Audrey Meighen, Author-Editor
Jun 9, 1937

Folklore
Meigs County, District Three
[HW: Middeport]

NAN STEWART
Age 87


"I'se bawned Charl'stun, West Virginia in February 1850."

"My mammy's name? Hur name wuz Kath'run Paine an' she wuz bawned down
Jackson County, Virginia. My pappy wuz John James, a coopah an' he wuz
bawned at Rock Creek, West Virginia. He cum'd ovah heah with Lightburn's
Retreat. Dey all crossed de ribah at Buffington Island. Yes, I had two
bruthahs and three sistahs. Deir wuz Jim, Thomas, he refugeed from
Charl'stun to Pum'roy and it tuk him fo' months, den de wuz sistah Adah,
Carrie an' Ella. When I rite young I wurked as hous' maid fo' numbah
quality white folks an' latah on I wuz nurs' fo' de chilluns in sum
homes, heah abouts."

"Oh, de slaves quartahs, dey wuz undah de sam' ruf with Marse Hunt's big
hous' but in de back. When I'se littl' I sleeped in a trun'l bed. My
mammy wuz mighty 'ticlar an' clean, why she made us chilluns wash ouah
feets ebry night fo' we git into de bed."

"When Marse Hunt muved up to Charl'stun, my mammy and pappy liv' in log
cabin."

"My gran' mammy, duz I 'member hur? Honey chile, I shure duz. She wuz my
pappy's mammy. She wuz one hun'erd and fo' yeahs ol' when she die rite
in hur cheer. Dat mawhin' she eat a big hearty brekfast. One day I
'member she sezs to Marse Hunt, 'I hopes you buys hun'erds an' hun'erds
ob slaves an' neber sells a one. Hur name wuz Erslie Kizar Chartarn."

"Marse an' missus, mighty kind to us slaves. I lurned to sew, piece
quilts, clean de brass an' irons an' dog irons. Most time I set with de
ol' ladies, an' light deir pipes, an' tote 'em watah, in gourds. I us'
tu gether de turkey eggs an' guinea eggs an' sell 'em. I gits ten cents
duzen fo' de eggs. Marse and Missus wuz English an' de count money like
dis--fo' pence, ha' penny. Whut I do with my money? Chile I saved it to
buy myself a nankeen dress."

"Yes mam we always had plenty to eat. What'd I like bes' to eat,
waffl's, honey and stuffed sausage, but I spise possum and coon. Marse
Hunt had great big meat hous' chuck full all kinds of meats. Say, do you
all know Marse used to keep stuffed sausage in his smoke hous' fo' yeahs
an' it wuz shure powahful good when it wuz cooked. Ouah kitchin wuz big
an' had great big fiah place whur we'd bake ouah bread in de ashes. We
baked ouah corn pone an' biskets in a big spidah. I still have dat
spidah an' uses it."

"By the way you knows Squire Gellison wuz sum fishahman an' shure to
goodness ketched lots ob fish. Why he'd ketch so many, he'd clean 'em,
cut 'em up, put 'em in half barrels an' pass 'em 'round to de people on
de farms."

"Most de slaves on Marse Hunt's place had dir own garden patches.
Sumtimes dey'd have to hoe the gardens by moonlight. Dey sell deir
vegetables to Marse Hunt."

"In de summah de women weah dresses and apruns made ob linen an' men
weah pants and shurts ob linen. Linsey-woolsey and jean wuz woven on de
place fo' wintah clothes. We had better clothes to weah on Sunday and we
weahed shoes on Sunday. The' shoes and hoots wuz made on de plantashun."

"My mastah wuz Marse Harley Hunt an' his wife wuz Miss Maria Sanders
Hunt. Marse and Miss Hunt didn't hab no chilluns of der own but a nephew
Marse Oscar Martin and niece Miss Mary Hunt frum Missouri lived with
'em. Dey's all kind to us slaves. De Hous' wuz great big white frame
with picket fence all 'round de lot. When we lived Charl'stun Marse Hunt
wuz a magistrate. Miss Hunt's muthah and two aunts lived with 'em."

"No mam, we didn't hab no ovahseeah. Marse Hunt had no use fo'
ovahseeahs, fact is he 'spise 'em. De oldah men guided de young ones in
deir labors. The poor white neighbahs wurn't 'lowed to live very close
to de plantashun as Marse Hunt wanted de culured slave chilluns to be
raised in propah mannah."

"I duzn't know how many acres in de plantashun. Deir wuz only 'bout
three or fo' cabins on de place. Wurk started 'bout seben clock 'cept
harvest time when ebrybudy wuz up early. De slaves didn't wurk so hard
nor bery late at night. Slaves wuz punished by sendin' 'em off to bed
early.

"When I'se livin' at Red House I seed slaves auctioned off. Ol' Marse
Veneable sold ten or lebin slaves, women and chilluns, to niggah tradahs
way down farthah south. I well 'members day Aunt Millie an' Uncl' Edmund
wuz sold--dir son Harrison wuz bought by Marse Hunt. 'Twuz shure sad an'
folks cried when Aunt Millie and Uncl' Edmund wuz tuk away. Harrison
neber see his mammy an' pappy agin. Slaves wuz hired out by de yeah fo'
nine hundred dollahs."

"Marse Hunt had schools fo' de slaves chilluns. I went to school on
Lincoln Hill, too."

"Culured preachahs use to cum to plantashun an' dey would read de Bible
to us. I 'member one special passage preachahs read an' I neber
understood it 'til I cross de riber at Buffinton Island. It wuz, 'But
they shall sit every man under his own vine and under his fig tree; and
none shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of Hosts hath
spoken it." Micah 4:4. Den I knows it is de fulfillment ob dat promis;
'I would soon be undah my own vine an' fig tree' and hab no feah of
bein' sold down de riber to a mean Marse. I recalls der wuz Thorton
Powell, Ben Sales and Charley Releford among de preachahs. De church wuz
quite aways frum de hous'. When der'd be baptizins de sistahs and
brethruns would sing 'Freely, freely will you go with me, down to the
riber'. 'Freely, freely quench your thirst Zion's sons and daughtahs'."

"How wells I 'member when I wuz converted. I'd thought 'bout 'ligion a
lot but neber wunce wuz I muved to repent. One day I went out to cut sum
wood an' begin thinkin' agin and all wunce I feeled so relieved an' good
an' run home to tell granny an' de uthahs dat I'd cum out at last."

"No, we didn't wurk on Saturday aftahnoons. Christmas wuz big time at
Marse Hunts hous'. Preparations wuz made fo' it two weeks fo' day cum.
Der wuz corn sings an' big dances, 'ceptin' at 'ligious homes. Der wuz
no weddins' at Marse Hunts, cause dey had no chilluns an' de niece and
nephew went back to own homes to git married."

"We played sich games as marbles; yarn ball; hop, skip, an' jump; mumble
peg an' pee wee. Wunce I's asked to speak down to white chilluns school
an' dis is what I speak:

  'The cherries are ripe,
  The cherries are ripe,
  Oh give the baby one,
  The baby is too little to chew,
  The robin I see up in the tree,
  Eating his fill and shaking his bill,
  And down his throat they run.'

Another one:

  'Tobacco is an Indian weed,
  And from the devil doth proceed
  It robs the pocket and burns the clothes
  And makes a chimney of the nose.'

"When de slaves gits sick, deir mammies luked af'er em but de Marse
gived de rem'dies. Yes, dere wuz dif'runt kinds, salts, pills, Castah
orl, herb teas, garlic, 'fedia, sulphah, whiskey, dog wood bark,
sahsaparilla an' apple root. Sometimes charms wuz used.

"I 'member very well de day de Yankees cum. De slaves all cum a runnin'
an' yellin': "Yankees is cumin', Yankee soljers is comin', hurrah". Bout
two or three clock, we herd bugles blowing' an' guns on Taylah Ridge.
Kids wuz playin' an' all 'cited. Sumone sed: "Kathrun, sumthin' awful
gwine happen", an' sumone else sez; "De' is de Yankees". De Yankee mens
camp on ouah farm an' buyed ouah buttah, milk an' eggs. Marse Hunt, whut
you all call 'bilionist [HW: abolitionist] an' he wuz skeered of suthern
soljers an' went out to de woods an' laid behind a log fo' seben weeks
and seben days, den he 'cided to go back home. He sez he had a dream an'
prayed, "I had bettah agone, but I prayed. No use let des debils take
you, let God take you." We tote food an' papahs to Marse while he wuz a
hidin'."

"One ob my prized possessions is Abraham Lincoln's pictures an' I'se
gwine to gib it to a culured young man whose done bin so kind to me,
when I'se gone. Dat's Bookah T. Washington's picture ovah thar."

"I'se married heah in Middeport by Preachah Bill, 1873. My husban' wuz
Charles Stewart, son of Johnny Stewart. Deir wuz hous' full my own
folks, mammy, pappy, sistahs, bruthas, an' sum white folks who cumed in
to hep dress me up fo' de weddin'. We kep de weddin' a secrut an' my
aunt butted hur horns right off tryin' to fin' out when it wuz. My
husban' had to leave right away to go to his job on de boat. We had
great big dinnah, two big cakes an' ice cream fo' desurt. We had fo'teen
chilluns with only two livin'. I has five gran' sons an' two great gran'
daughters."

"Goodbye--cum back agin."



Miriam Logan, Lebanon, Ohio
Warren County, Dist. 2
July 2, 1937

Interview with SAMUEL SUTTON, Ex Slave.
Born in Garrett County, Kentucky, in 1854

(drawing of Sutton) [TR: no drawing found]


"Yes'em, I sho were bo'n into slavery. Mah mothah were a cook--(they was
none betteah)--an she were sold four times to my knownin'. She were part
white, for her fathah were a white man. She live to be seventy-nine
yeahs an nine months old."

"Ah was bo'n in Garrett County, but were raised by ol' Marster Ballinger
in Knox County, an' ah don remember nothin 'bout Garrett County." When
Lincoln was elected last time, I were about eight yeahs ol'."

"Ol' Marster own 'bout 400-acres, n' ah don' know how many slaves--maybe
30. He'd get hard up fo money n' sell one or two; then he'd get a lotta
work on hands, an maybe buy one or two cheap,--go 'long lak dat you
see." He were a good man, Ol' Mars Ballinger were--a preacher, an he wuk
hisse'f too. Ol' Mis' she pretty cross sometime, but ol' Mars, he
weren't no mean man, an ah don' 'member he evah whip us. Yes'em dat ol'
hous is still standin' on the Lexington-Lancaster Pike, and las time I
know, Baby Marster he were still livin."

"Ol' Mars. tuk us boys out to learn to wuk when we was both right little
me and Baby Mars. Ah wuz to he'p him, an do what he tol' me to--an first
thing ah members is a learnin to hoe de clods. Corn an wheat Ol' Mars.
raised, an he sets us boys out fo to learn to wuk. Soon as he lef' us
Baby Mars, he'd want to eat; send me ovah to de grocery fo sardines an'
oysters. Nevah see no body lak oyster lak he do! Ah do n' lak dem. Ol
Mars. scold him--say he not only lazy hese'f, but he make me lazy too."

"De Wah? Yes'em ah sees soldiers, Union Calvary [HW: Cavalry] goin' by,
dressed fine, wid gold braid on blue, an big boots. But de Rebels now, I
recollect dey had no uniforms fo dey wuz hard up, an dey cum in jes
common clothes. Ol' Mars., he were a Rebel, an he always he'p 'em.
Yes'em a pitched battle start right on our place. Didn't las' long, fo
dey wuz a runnin fight on to Perryville, whaah de one big battle to take
place in de State o' Kentucky, tuk place."

"Most likely story I remembers to tell you 'bout were somepin made me
mad an I allus remember fo' dat. Ah had de bigges' fines' watermellon an
ah wuz told to set up on de fence wid de watermellon an show 'em, and
sell 'em fo twenty cents. Along cum a line o' soldiers."

"Heigh there boy!... How much for the mellon?" holler one at me.

"Twenty cents sir!" Ah say jes lak ah ben tol' to say; and he take dat
mellon right out o' mah arms an' ride off widout payin' me. Ah run after
dem, a tryin' to get mah money, but ah couldn't keep up wid dem soldiers
on hosses; an all de soldiers jes' laf at me."

"Yes'em dat wuz de fines' big mellon ah evah see. Dat wuz right mean in
him--fine lookin gemman he were, at the head o' de line."

"Ol' Marster Ballinger, he were a Rebel, an he harbors Rebels. Dey wuz
two men a hangin' around dere name o' Buell and Bragg."

"Buell were a nawtherner; Bragg, he were a Reb."

"Buell give Bragg a chance to get away, when he should have found out
what de Rebs were doin' an a tuk him prisoner ah heard tell about dat."

"Dey wuz a lotta spyin', ridin' around dere fo' one thing and another,
but ah don' know what it were all about. I does know ah feels sorry fo
dem Rebel soldiers ah seen dat wuz ragged an tired, an all woe out, an
Mars. He fell pretty bad about everything sometimes, but ah reckon dey
wuz mean Rebs an southerners at had it all cumin' to em; ah allus heard
tell dey had it comin' to em."

"Some ways I recollect times wuz lots harder after de War, some ways dey
was better. But now a culled man ain't so much better off 'bout votin'
an such some places yet, ah hears dat."

"Yes'em, they come an want hosses once in awhile, an they was a rarin'
tarin' time atryin to catch them hosses fo they would run into the woods
befo' you could get ahold of 'em. Morgan's men come fo hosses once, an
ol Mars, get him's hosses, fo he were a Reb. Yes'em, but ah thinks them
hosses got away from the Rebels; seem lak ah heard they did."

"Hosses? Ah wishes ah had me a team right now, and ah'd make me my own
good livin! No'em, don't want no mule. They is set on havin they own
way, an the contrariest critters! But a mule is a wuk animal, an eats
little. Lotsa wuk in a mule. Mah boy, he say, 'quit wukin, an give us
younguns a chance,' Sho nuf, they ain't the wuk they use to be, an the
younguns needs it. Ah got me a pension, an a fine garden; ain't it fine
now?"

"Yes'em, lak ah tells you, the wah were ovah, and the culled folks had a
Big Time wid speakin'n everything ovah at Dick Robinsen's camp on de
4th. Nevah see such rejoicin on de Fourth 'o July since,-no'em, ah
ain't."

"Ah seen two presidents, Grant an Hayes. I voted fo Hayes wen I wuz
twenty-two yeahs old. General Grant, he were runnin against Greeley when
ah heard him speak at Louieville. He tol what all Lincoln had done fo de
culled man. Yes'em, fine lookin man he were, an he wore a fine suit.
Yes'em ah ain't miss an election since ah were twenty-two an vote fo
Hayes. Ah ain't gonto miss none, an ah vote lak the white man read outa
de Emanicaption Proclamation, ah votes fo one ob Abe Lincoln's men ev'y
time--ah sho do."

"_Run a way slaves?_ No'em nevah know ed of any. Mars. Ballinger
neighbor, old Mars. Tye--he harbor culled folks dat cum ask fo sumpin to
eat in winter--n' he get 'em to stay awhile and do a little wuk fo him.
Now, he did always have one or two 'roun dere dat way,--dat ah
recollects--dat he didn't own. Maybe dey was runaway, maybe dey wuz just
tramps an didn't belong to noboddy. Nevah hear o' anybody claimin'
dem--dey stay awhile an wuk, den move on--den mo' cum, wuk while then
move on. Mars. Tye--he get his wuk done dat way, cheap.

"No'em, don't believe in anything lak dat much. We use to sprinkle salt
in a thin line 'roun Mars. Ballinger's house, clear 'roun, to ward off
quarellin an arguein' an ol' Miss Ballinger gettin a cross spell,--dat
ah members, an then too;--ah don believe in payin out money on a Monday.
You is liable to be a spendin an a losin' all week if you do. Den ah
don' want see de new moon (nor ol' moon either) through, de branches o'
trees. Ah know' a man dat see de moon tru de tree branches, an he were
lookin' tru de bars 'a jail fo de month were out--an fo sumpin he nevah
done either,--jus enuf bad luck--seein a moon through bush."

"Ah been married twice, an had three chillens. Mah oles' are Madge
Hannah, an she sixty yeah ol' an still a teachin' at the Indian School
where she been fo twenty-two yeahs now. She were trained at Berea in
High School then Knoxville; then she get mo' learnin in Nashville in
some course."

"Mah wife died way back yonder in 1884. Then when ah gets married again,
mah wife am 32 when ah am 63. No'am, no mo' chillens. Ah lives heah an
farms, an takes care ob mah sick girl, an mah boy, he live across the
lane thah."

"No'em, no church, no meetin hous fo us culled people in Kentucky befo'
de wah. Dey wuz prayin folks, and gets to meetin' at each othah's houses
when dey is sumpin a pushin' fo prayer. No'em no school dem days, fo
us." "Ol Mars., he were a preacher, he knowed de Bible, an tells out
verses fo us--dats all ah members. Yes'em Ah am Baptist now, and ah sho
do believe in a havin church."

"Ah has wuked on steam boats, an done railroad labor, an done a lotta
farmin, an ah likes to farm best. Like to live in Ohio best. Ah can
_vote_. If ah gits into trouble, de law give us a chance fo our
property, same as if we were white. An we can vote lak white, widout no
shootin, no fightin' about it--dats what ah likes. Nevah know white men
to be so mean about anythin as dey is about votin some places--No'em, ah
don't! Ah come heah in 1912. Ah was goin on to see mah daughter Madge
Hannah in Oklahoma, den dis girl come to me paralized, an ah got me work
heah in Lebanon, tendin cows an such at de creamery, an heah ah is evah
since. Yes'em an ah don' wanto go no wheres else."

"No'em, no huntin' no mo. Useto hunt rabbit until las yeah. They ain't
wuth the price ob a license no mo." No'em, ah ain't evah fished in
Ohio."

"No'em, nevah wuz no singer, no time. Not on steamboats, nor nowheres.
Don't member any songs, except maybe the holler we useto set up when dey
wuz late wid de dinner when we wuked on de steamboat;--Dey sing-song lak
dis:"

  'Ol hen, she flew
  Ovah de ga-rden gate,
  Fo' she wuz dat hungrey
  She jes' couldn't wait.'

--but den dat ain't no real song."

"Kentucky river is place to fish--big cat fish. Cat fish an greens is
good eatin. Ah seen a cat fish cum outa de Kentucky river 'lon as a man
is tall; an them ol' fins slap mah laig when ah carries him ovah mah
shoulder, an he tail draggin' on mah feet.--Sho nuf!"

"No'em, ah jes cain't tell you all no cryin sad story 'bout beatin' an a
slave drivin, an ah don' know no ghost stories, ner nuthin'--ah is jes
dumb dat way--ah's sorry 'bout it, but ah Jes--is."

Samuel Sutton lives in north lane Lebanon, just back of the French
Creamery. He has one acre of land, a little unpainted, poorly furnished
and poorly kept. His daughter is a huge fleshy colored woman wears a
turban on her head. She has a fixed smile; says not a word. Samuel talks
easily; answers questions directly; is quick in his movements. He is
stooped and may 5'7" or 8" if standing straight. He wears an old
fashioned "Walrus" mustache, and has a grey wooley fringe of hair about
his smooth chocolate colored bald head. He is very dark in color, but
his son is darker yet. His hearing is good. His sight very poor. Being
so young when the Civil War was over, he remembers little or nothing
about what the colored people thought or expected from freedom. He just
remembers what a big time there was on that first "Free Fourth of July."



Ruth Thompson, Interviewing
Graff, Editing

Ex-Slave Interviews
Hamilton Co., District 12
Cincinnati

RICHARD TOLER
515 Poplar St.,
Cincinnati, O.

[Illustration: Richard Toler]


"Ah never fit in de wah; no suh, ah couldn't. Mah belly's been broke!
But ah sho' did want to, and ah went up to be examined, but they didn't
receive me on account of mah broken stomach. But ah sho' tried, 'cause
ah wanted to be free. Ah didn't like to be no slave. Dat wasn't good
times."

Richard Toler, 515 Poplar Street, century old former slave lifted a bony
knee with one gnarled hand and crossed his legs, then smoothed his thick
white beard. His rocking chair creaked, the flies droned, and through
the open, unscreened door came the bawling of a calf from the building
of a hide company across the street. A maltese kitten sauntered into the
front room, which served as parlor and bedroom, and climbed complacently
into his lap. In one corner a wooden bed was piled high with feather
ticks, and bedecked with a crazy quilt and an number of small,
brightly-colored pillows; a bureau opposite was laden to the edges with
a collection of odds and ends--a one-legged alarm clock, a coal oil
lamp, faded aritifical flowers in a gaudy vase, a pile of newspapers. A
trunk against the wall was littered with several large books (one of
which was the family Bible), a stack of dusty lamp shades, a dingy
sweater, and several bushel-basket lids. Several packing cases and
crates, a lard can full of cracked ice, a small, round oil heating
stove, and an assorted lot of chairs completed the furnishings. The one
decorative spot in the room was on the wall over the bed, where hung a
large framed picture of Christ in The Temple. The two rooms beyond
exhibited various broken-down additions to the heterogeneous collection.

"Ah never had no good times till ah was free", the old man continued.
"Ah was bo'n on Mastah Tolah's (Henry Toler) plantation down in ole
V'ginia, near Lynchburg in Campbell County. Mah pappy was a slave befo'
me, and mah mammy, too. His name was Gawge Washin'ton Tolah, and her'n
was Lucy Tolah. We took ouah name from ouah ownah, and we lived in a
cabin way back of the big house, me and mah pappy and mammy and two
brothahs.

"They nevah mistreated me, neithah. They's a whipping the slaves all the
time, but ah run away all the time. And ah jus' tell them--if they
whipped me, ah'd kill 'em, and ah nevah did get a whippin'. If ah
thought one was comin' to me, Ah'd hide in the woods; then they'd send
aftah me, and they say, 'Come, on back--we won't whip you'. But they
killed some of the niggahs, whipped 'em to death. Ah guess they killed
three or fo' on Tolah's place while ah was there.

"Ah nevah went to school. Learned to read and write mah name after ah
was free in night school, but they nevah allowed us to have a book in
ouah hand, and we couldn't have no money neither. If we had money we had
to tu'n it ovah to ouah ownah. Chu'ch was not allowed in ouah pa't
neithah. Ah go to the Meth'dist Chu'ch now, everybody ought to go. I
think RELIGION MUST BE FINE, 'CAUSE GOD ALMIGHTY'S AT THE HEAD OF IT."

Toler took a small piece of ice from the lard can, popped it between his
toothless gum, smacking enjoyment, swished at the swarming flies with a
soiled rag handkerchief, and continued.

"Ah nevah could unnerstand about ghos'es. Nevah did see one. Lots of
folks tell about seein' ghos'es, but ah nevah feared 'em. Ah was nevah
raised up undah such supastitious believin's.

"We was nevah allowed no pa'ties, and when they had goin' ons at the big
house, we had to clear out. Ah had to wo'k hard all the time every day
in the week. Had to min' the cows and calves, and when ah got older ah
had to hoe in the field. Mastah Tolah had about 500 acres, so they tell
me, and he had a lot of cows and ho'ses and oxens, and he was a big
fa'mer. Ah've done about evahthing in mah life, blacksmith and stone
mason, ca'penter, evahthing but brick-layin'. Ah was a blacksmith heah
fo' 36 yea's. Learned it down at Tolah's.

"Ah stayed on the plantation during the wah, and jes' did what they tol'
me. Ah was 21 then. And ah walked 50 mile to vote for Gen'l Grant at
Vaughn's precinct. Ah voted fo' him in two sessions, he run twice. And
ah was 21 the fust time, cause they come and got me, and say, 'Come on
now. You can vote now, you is 21.' And theah now--mah age is right
theah. 'Bout as close as you can get it.

"Ah was close to the battle front, and I seen all dem famous men. Seen
Gen'l Lee, and Grant, and Abe Lincoln. Seen John Brown, and seen the
seven men that was hung with him, but we wasn't allowed to talk to any
of 'em, jes' looked on in the crowd. Jes' spoke, and say 'How d' do.'

[HW: Harper's Ferry is not [TR: rest illegible]]

"But ah did talk to Lincoln, and ah tol' him ah wanted to be free, and
he was a fine man, 'cause he made us all free. And ah got a ole histry,
it's the Sanford American History, and was published in _17_84[HW:18?].
But ah don't know where it is now, ah misplaced it. It is printed in the
book, something ah said, not written by hand. And it says, 'Ah am a ole
slave which has suvved fo' 21 yeahs, and ah would be quite pleased if
you could help us to be free. We thank you very much. Ah trust that some
day ah can do you the same privilege that you are doing for me. Ah have
been a slave for many years.' (Note discrepancy).

"Aftah the wah, ah came to Cincinnati, and ah was married three times.
Mah fust wife was Nannie. Then there was Mollie. They both died, and
than ah was married Cora heah, and ah had six child'en, one girl and fo'
boys. (Note discrepancy) They's two living yet; James is 70 and he is
not married. And Bob's about thutty or fo'ty. Ah done lost al mah
rememb'ance, too ole now. But Mollie died when he was bo'n, and he is
crazy. He is out of Longview (Home for Mentally Infirm) now fo' a while,
and he jes' wanders around, and wo'ks a little. He's not [TR: "not" is
crossed out] ha'mless, he wouldn't hurt nobody. He ain't married
neithah.

"After the wah, ah bought a fiddle, and ah was a good fiddlah. Used to
be a fiddlah fo' the white girls to dance. Jes' picked it up, it was a
natural gif'. Ah could still play if ah had a fiddle. Ah used to play at
our hoe downs, too. Played all those ole time songs--_Soldier's Joy_,
_Jimmy Long Josey_, _Arkansas Traveler_, and _Black Eye Susie_. Ah
remembah the wo'ds to that one."

Smiling inwardly with pleasure as he again lived the past, the old Negro
swayed and recited:

  Black Eye Susie, you look so fine,
  Black Eye Susie, ah think youah mine.
  A wondahful time we're having now,
  Oh, Black Eye Susie, ah believe that youah mine.

  And away down we stomp aroun' the bush,
  We'd think that we'd get back to wheah we could push
  Black Eye Susie, ah think youah fine,
  Black Eye Susie, Ah know youah mine.

Then, he resumed his conversational tone:

"Befo' the wah we nevah had no good times. They took good care of us,
though. As pa'taculah with slaves as with the stock--that was their
money, you know. And if we claimed a bein' sick, they'd give us a dose
of castah oil and tu'pentine. That was the principal medicine cullud
folks had to take, and sometimes salts. But nevah no whiskey--that was
not allowed. And if we was real sick, they had the Doctah fo' us.

"We had very bad eatin'. Bread, meat, water. And they fed it to us in a
trough, jes' like the hogs. And ah went in may shirt tail till I was 16,
nevah had no clothes. And the flo' in ouah cabin was dirt, and at night
we'd jes' take a blanket and lay down on the flo'. The dog was supe'ior
to us; they would take him in the house.

"Some of the people I belonged to was in the Klu Klux Klan. Tolah had
fo' girls and fo' boys. Some of those boys belonged. And I used to see
them turn out. They went aroun' whippin' niggahs. They'd get young girls
and strip 'em sta'k naked, and put 'em across barrels, and whip 'em till
the blood run out of 'em, and then they would put salt in the raw pahts.
And ah seen it, and it was as bloody aroun' em as if they'd stuck hogs.

"I sho' is glad I ain't no slave no moah. Ah thank God that ah lived to
pas the yeahs until the day of 1937. Ah'm happy and satisfied now, and
ah hopes ah see a million yeahs to come."



Forest H. Lees
C.R. McLean, Supervisor
June 10, 1937

Topic: Folkways
Medina County, District #5

JULIA WILLIAMS, ex-slave


Julia Williams, born in Winepark, Chesterfield County near Richmond,
Virginia. Her age is estimated close to 100 years. A little more or a
little less, it is not known for sure.

Her memory is becoming faded. She could remember her mothers name was
Katharine but her father died when she was very small and she remembers
not his name.

Julia had three sisters, Charlotte, Rose and Emoline Mack. The last
names of the first two, Charlotte and Rose she could not recall.

As her memory is becoming faded, her thoughts wander from one thing to
another and her speech is not very plain, the following is what I heard
and understood during the interview.

"All de slaves work with neighbors; or like neighbors now-adays. I no
work in de fiel, I slave in de house, maid to de mistress."

"After Yankees come, one sister came to Ohio with me."

"The slaves get a whippin if they run away."

"After Yankees come, my ole mother come home and all chillun together. I
live with gramma and go home after work each day. Hired out doin maid
work. All dis after Yankees come dat I live with gramma."

"Someone yell, 'Yankees are comin',' and de mistress tell me, she say
'You mus learn to be good and hones'.' I tole her, 'I am now'."

"No I nevah get no money foh work."

"I allways had good meals and was well taken care of. De Mrs. she nevah
let me be sold."

"Sho we had a cook in de kichen and she was a slave too."

"Plantashun slaves had gahdens but not de house slaves. I allus had da
bes clothes and bes meals, anyting I want to eat. De Mrs. like me and
she like me and she say effen you want sompin ask foh it, anytime you
want sompin or haff to have, get it. I didn suffer for enythin befoh dim
Yankees come."

"After de Yankees come even de house people, de white people didn get
shoes. But I hab some, I save. I have some othah shoes I didn dare go in
de house with. Da had wood soles. Oh Lawde how da hurt mah feet. One day
I come down stair too fas and slip an fall. Right den I tile de Mrs. I
couldn wear dem big heavy shoes and besides da makes mah feet so sore."

"Bof de Mrs. and de Master sickly. An their chillun died. Da live in a
big manshun house. Sho we had an overseer on de plantashun. De poor
white people da live purty good, all dat I seed. It was a big
plantashun. I can't remember how big but I know dat it was sho big. Da
had lots an lots of slaves but I doan no zackly how many. Da scattered
around de plantashun in diffren settlements. De horn blew every mohnin
to wake up de fiel hans. Da gone to fiel long time foh I get up. De fiel
hans work from dawn till dark, but evabody had good eats on holidays. No
work jus eat and have good time."

"Da whipp dem slaves what run away."

"One day after de war was over and I come to Ohio, a man stop at mah
house. I seem him and I know him too but I preten like I didn, so I say,
'I doan want ter buy nothin today' and he says 'Doan you know me?' Den I
laugh an say sho I remember the day you wuz goin to whip me, you run
affer me and I run to de Mrs. and she wouldn let you whip me. Now you
bettah be careful or I get you."

"Sho I saw slaves sole. Da come from all ovah to buy an sell de slaves,
chillun to ole men and women."

"De slaves walk and travel with carts and mules."

"De slaves on aukshun block dey went to highes bidder. One colored
woman, all de men want her. She sold to de master who was de highes
bidder, and den I saw her comin down de road singin 'I done got a home
at las!'. She was half crazy. De maste he sole her and den Mrs. buy her
back. They lef her work around de house. I used to make her work and
make her shine things. She say I make her shine too much, but she haff
crazy, an run away."

"No dey didn help colored folks read and write. Effn dey saw you wif a
book dey knock it down on de floor. Dey wouldn let dem learn."

"De aukshun allus held at Richmond. Plantashun owners come from all
states to buy slaves and sell them."

"We had church an had to be dere every single Sunday. We read de Bible.
De preacher did the readin. I can't read or write. We sho had good
prayer meetins. Show nuf it was a Baptis church. I like any spiritual,
all of dem."

"Dey batize all de young men and women, colored folks. Dey sing mos any
spirtual, none in paticlar. A bell toll foh a funeral. At de baptizen do
de pracher leads dem into de rivah, way in, den each one he stick dem
clear under. I waz gonna be batize and couldn. Eva time sompin happin an
I couldn. My ole mothah tole me I gotta be but I never did be baptize
when Ise young in de south. De othah people befoh me all batized."

"A lot of de slaves come north. Dey run away cause dey didn want to be
slaves, like I didn like what you do and I get mad, den you get mad an I
run away."

"De pattyroller was a man who watched foh de slaves what try to run
away. I see dem sneakin in an out dem bushes. When dey fine im de give
im a good whippin."

"I nevah seed mush trouble between de whites and blacks when I live
dare. Effen dey didn want you to get married, they wouldn let you. Dey
had to ask de mastah and if he say no he mean it."

"When de Yankees were a comin through dem fiels, dey sho was awful. Dey
take everythin and destroy what ever they could not take. De othah house
slave bury the valables in de groun so de soldiers couldn fine em."

"One of the house slaves was allus havin her man comin to see her, so
one day affer he lef, when I was makin fun and laughin at her de
mistress she say, 'Why you picken on her?' I say, dat man comin here all
the time hangin round, why doan he marry her."

"I was nevah lowed to go out an soshiate with de othah slaves much. I
was in de house all time."

"I went to prayer meetins every Sunday monin and evenin."

"Sometimes dey could have a good time in de evenin and sometimes day
couldn."

"Chrismas was a big time for everyone. In the manshun we allus had roast
pig and a big feed. I could have anythin I want. New Years was the big
aukshun day. All day hollerin on de block. Dey come from all ovah to
Richmond to buy and sell de slaves."

"Butchern day sho was a big time. A big long table with de pigs laid out
ready to be cut up."

"Lots of big parties an dances in de manshun. I nevah have time foh
play. Mrs, she keep me busy and I work when I jus little girl and all
mah life."

"Effen any slaves were sick dey come to de house for splies and medsin.
De Mrs. and Master had de doctor if things were very bad."

"I'll nevah forget de soldiers comin. An old woman tole me de war done
broke up, and I was settin on de porch. De Mrs. she say, 'Julia you ant
stayin eneymore'. She tole me if I keep my money and save it she would
give me some. An she done gave me a gold breast pin too. She was rich
and had lots of money. After the war I wen home to my mother. She was
half sick and she work too hard. On de way I met one slave woman who
didn know she was even free."

"The Yankees were bad!"

"I didn get married right away. I worked out foh diffren famlies."

"After de war dare was good schools in de south. De free slaves had land
effen dey knowed what to do with. I got married in the south to Richar
Williams but I didn have no big weddin. I had an old preacher what
knowed all bout de Bible, who married me. He was a good preacher. I was
de mothah of eight chillun."

"Lincoln? Well I tell you I doan know. I didn have no thought about him
but I seed him. I work in de house all de time and didn hear much about
people outside."

"I doan believe in ghosts or hants. As foh dancin I enjoy it when I was
young."

"I cant read and I thought to myself I thought there was a change comin.
I sense that. I think de Lawd he does everythin right. De Lawd open my
way. I think all people should be religious and know about de Lawd and
his ways."

Her husband came to Wadsworth with the first group that came from
Doylestown. The men came first then they sent for their families. Her
husband came first them sent for her and the children. They settled in
Wadsworth and built small shacks then later as times got better they
bought properties.

This year is the 57th Anniversary of the Wadsworth Colored Baptist
Church of which Julia Williams was a charter member. She is very close
to 100 years old if not that now and lives at 160 Kyle Street,
Wadsworth, Ohio.



Lees
Ohio Guide, Special
Ex-Slave Stories
August 17, 1937

JULIA WILLIAMS
(Supplementary Story)


"After de War deh had to pick their own livin' an seek homes.

"Shuah, deh expected de 40 acres of lan' an mules, but deh had to work
foh dem."

"Shuah, deh got paht of de lan but de shuah had to work foh it.

"After de war deh had no place to stay an den deh went to so many
diffrunt places. Some of dem today don't have settled places to live.

"Those owners who were good gave their slaves lan but de othahs jus
turned de slaves loose to wander roun'. Othahs try to fine out where
dere people were and went to them.

"One day I seed a man who was a doctor down dere, an' I says, 'You
doktah now?' An says 'No, I doan doktah no mow.' I work foh him once
when I was slave, few days durin de war. I say, 'Member that day you
gonna lick me but you didn', you know I big woman an fight back. Now de
war ovah and you can't do dat now'.

"Slaves didn get money unless deh work for it. Maybe a slave he would
work long time before he get eny pay."

"Lak you hire me an you say you goin to pay me an then you don't. Lots
of them hired slaves aftah de war and worked dem a long time sayin deh
gwine pay and then when he ask for money, deh drive him away instead of
payin him.

"Yes, some of de slaves were force to stay on de plantation. I see how
some had to live." "They had homes for awhile but when deh wasen't able
to pay dere rent cause deh weren't paid, deh were thrown out of dere
houses." Some of dem didn't know when deh were free till long time after
de Wah.

"When I were free, one mornin I seed the mistress and she ask me would I
stay with her a couple years. I say, 'No I gonna find mah people an go
dere.'

"Anyway, she had a young mister, a son, an he was mean to de slaves. I
nebber lak him.

"Once I was sent to mah missys' brother for a time but I wouldn' stay
dere: he too rough.

"No, deh didn't want you to learn out of books. My missy say one day
when I was free, 'Now you can get your lessons.'

"I allus lowed to do what I wanted, take what I wanted, and eat what I
wanted. Deh had lots of money but what good did it do them? Deh allus
was sick.

"De poor soldiers had lots to go thru, even after de wah. Deh starvin
and beggin and sick.

"De slaves had more meetins and gatherins aftah de war.

"On de plantation where I work dey had a great big horn blow every
mornin to get de slaves up to de field, I allus get up soon after it
blew, most allways, but this mornin dey blew de horn a long time an I
says, 'what foh dey blow dat horn so long?' an den de mastah say, 'You
all is free'. Den he says, ter me, 'What you all goin to do now', and I
says, 'I'm goin to fine my mother.'

"One day a soldier stop me an says, 'Sister, where do you live?' I tole
him, den he says, 'I'm hungry.' So I went an got him sompin to eat.

"One time I was to be sold de next day, but de missy tole the man who
cried the block not to sell me, but deh sold my mother and I didn't see
her after dat till just befoh de war ovah.

"All dat de slaves got after de war was loaned dem and dey had to work
mighty hard to pay for dem. I saw a lot of poor people cut off from
votin and dey off right now, I guess. I doan like it dat de woman vote.
A woman ain't got no right votin, nowhow.

"Most of de slaves get pensions and are taken care of by their chillun."

"Ah doan know about de generation today, just suit yourself bout dat."

Julia Williams resides at 150 Kyle St., Wadsworth, Ohio.



Miriam Logan
Lebanon, Ohio
July 8th

Warren County, District 2

Story of REVEREND WILLIAMS, Aged 76,
Colored Methodist Minister,
Born Greenbriar County, West Virginia (Born 1859)


"I was born on the estate of Miss Frances Cree, my mother's mistress.
She had set my grandmother Delilah free with her sixteen children, so my
mother was free when I was born, but my father was not.

"My father was butler to General Davis, nephew of Jefferson Davis.
General Davis was wounded in the Civil War and came home to die. My
father, Allen Williams was not free until the Emancipation."

"Grandmother Delilah belonged to Dr. Cree. Upon his death and the
division of his estate, his maiden daughter came into possession of my
grandmother, you understand. Miss Frances nor her brother Mr. Cam. ever
married. Miss Frances was very religious, a Methodist, and she believed
Grandmother Delilah should be free, and that we colored children should
have schooling."

"Yes ma'm, we colored people had a church down there in West Virginia,
and grandmother Delilah had a family Bible of her own. She had fourteen
boys and two girls. My mother had sixteen children, two boys, fourteen
girls. Of them--mother's children, you understand,--there were seven
teachers and two ministers; all were educated--thanks to Miss Frances
and to Miss Sands of Gallipolice. Mother lived to be ninety-seven years
old. No, she was not a cook."

"In the south, you understand--there is the COLORED M.E. CHURCH, and the
AFRICAN M.E. CHURCH, and the SOUTHERN METHODIST, and METHODIST EPISCOPAL
CHURCHES of the white people. They say there will be UNION METHODIST of
both white and colored people, but I don't believe there will be, for
there is a great difference in beliefs, even today. SOUTHERN METHODIST
do believe, do believe in slavery; while the Methodist to which Miss
Frances Cree belonged did not believe in slavery. The Davis family, (one
of the finest) did believe in slavery and they were good southern
Methodist. Mr. Cam., Miss Frances brother was not so opposed to slavery
as was Miss Frances. Miss Frances willed us to the care of her good
Methodist friend Miss Eliza Sands of Ohio."

"Culture loosens predijuce. I do not believe in social equality at all
myself; it cannot be; but we all must learn to keep to our own road, and
bear Christian good will towards each other."

"I do not know of any colored people who are any more superstitious than
are white people. They have the advantages of education now equally and
are about on the same level. Of course illiterate whites and the
illiterate colored man are apt to believe in charms. I do not remember
of hearing of any particular superstitious among my church people that I
could tell you about, no ma'm, I do not."

"In church music I hold that the good old hymns of John and of Charles
Wesley are the best to be had. I don' like shouting 'Spirituals'
show-off and carrying on--never did encourage it! Inward Grace will come
out in your singing more than anything else you do, and the impression
we carry away from your song and, from the singer are what I count."
Read well, sing correctly, but first, last, remember real inward Grace
is what shows forth the most in a song."

"In New Oreleans where I went to school,--(graduated in 1887 from the
Freedman's Aid College)--there were 14 or 15 colored churches
(methodist) in my youth. New Oreleans is one third colored in
population, you understand. Some places in the south the colored
outnumber the whites 30 to 1.

"I pastored St. Paul's church in Louieville, a church of close to 3,000
members. No'ma'm can't say just how old a church it is."

"To live a consecrated life, you'd better leave off dancing, drinking
smoking and the movies. I've never been to a movie in my life. When I
hear some of the programs colored folks put on the radio sometimes I
feel just like going out to the woodshed and getting my axe and chopping
up the radio, I do! It's natural and graceful to dance, but it is not
natural or good to mill around in a low-minded smoky dance hall."

"I don't hold it right to put anybody out of church, no ma'm. No matter
what they do, I don't believe in putting anybody out of church."

"My mother and her children were sent to Miss Eliza Sands at Gallipolis,
Ohio after Miss Frances Cree's death, at Miss Frances' request. Father
did not go, no ma'm. He came later and finished his days with us."

"We went first to Point Pleasant, then up the river to Gallipolis."

"After we got there we went to school. A man got me a place in
Cincinnati when I was twelve years old. I blacked boots and ran errands
of the hotel office until I was thirteen; then I went to the FREEDMAN'S
AID COLLEGE in N' Orleans; remained until I graduated. Shoemaking and
carpentering were given to me for trades, but as young fellow I shipped
on a freighter plying between New Orleans and Liverpool, thinking I
would like to be a seaman. I was a mean tempered boy. As cook's helper
one day, I got mad at the boatswain,--threw a pan of hot grease on him."

The crew wanted me put into irons, but the captain said 'no,--leave him
in Liverpool soon as we land--in about a day or two. When I landed there
they left me to be deported back to the States according to law."

"Yes, I had an aunt live to be 112 years old. She died at Granville
(Ohio) some thirty years ago. We know her age from a paper on Dr. Cree's
estate where she was listed as a child of twelve, and that had been one
hundred years before."

"About the music now,--you see I'm used to thinking of religion as the
working out of life in good deeds, not just a singing-show-off kind."

Some of the Spirituals are fine, but still I think Wesley hymns are
best. I tell my folks that the good Lord isn't a deaf old gentleman that
has to be shouted up to, or amused. I do think we colored people are a
little too apt to want to show off in our singing sometimes."

"I was very small when we went away from Greenbriar County to Point
Pleasant, and from there to Gallipolis by wagon. I do remember Mr. Cam.
Cree. I was taring around the front lawn where he didn't want me; he was
cross. I remember somebody taking me around the house, and thats
all,-all that I can remember of the old Virginia home where my folks had
belonged for several generations."

"I've pastored large churches in Louisville and St. Louis. In Ohio I
have been at Glendale, and at Oxford,--other places. This old place was
for sale on the court house steps one day when I happened to be in
Lebanon. Five acres, yes ma'm. There's the corner stone with 1822--age
of the house. My sight is poor, can't read, so I do not try to preach
much anymore, but I help in church in any way that I am needed, keep
busy and happy always! I am able to garden and enjoy life every day.
Certainly my life has been a fortunate one in my mother's belonging to
Miss Frances Cree. I have been a minister some forty years. I graduated
from Wilberforce College."

This colored minister has a five acre plot of ground and an old brick
house located at the corporation line of the village of Lebanon. He is a
medium sized man. Talks very fast. A writer could turn in about 40 pages
on an interview with him, but he is very much in earnest about his
beliefs. He seems to be rather nervous and has very poor sight. His wife
is yellow in color, and has a decidedly oriental cast of face. She is as
silent, as he is talkative, and from general appearances of her home
she is a very neat housekeeper. Neither of them speak in dialect at all.
Wade Glenn does not speak in dialect, although he is from North
Carolina.



Ex-Slaves
Stark County, District 5
Aug 13, 1937

WILLIAM WILLIAMS, Ex-Slave


Interview with William Williams, 1227 Rex Ave. S.E. Canton, O.

"I was born a slave in Caswell County, North Carolina, April 14, 1857.
My mother's name was Sarah Hunt and her master's name was Taz Hunt. I
did not know who my father was until after the war. When I was about 11
years old I went to work on a farm for Thomas Williams and he told me he
was my father. When I was born he was a slave on the plantation next to
Hunt's place and was owned by John Jefferson. Jefferson sold my father
after I was born but I do not know his last master's name.

My father and mother were never married. They just had the permission of
the two slave owners to live together and I became the property of my
father's master, John Jefferson until I was sold. After the war my
mother joined my father on his little farm and it was then I first
learned he was my father.

I was sold when I was 3 years old but I don't remember the name of the
man that bought me.

After the war my father got 100 acres and a team of mules to farm on
shares, the master furnishing the food for the first year and at the end
of the second year he had the privilege of buying the land at $1.00 per
acre.

When I was a boy I played with other slave children and sometimes with
the master's children and what little education I have I got from them.
No, I can't read or write but I can figure 'like the devil'.

The plantation of John Jefferson was one of the biggest in the south, it
had 2200 acres and he owned about 2000 slaves.

I was too young to remember anything about the slave days although I do
remember that I never saw a pair of shoes until I was old enough to
work. My father was a cobbler and I used to have to whittle out shoe
pegs for him and I had to walk sometimes six miles to get pine knots
which we lit at night so my mother could see to work.

I did not stay with my father and mother long as I was only about 14
when I started north. I worked for farmers every place I could find work
and sometimes would work a month or maybe two. The last farmer I worked
for I stayed a year and I got my board and room and five dollars a month
which was paid at the end of every six months. I stayed in Pennsylvania
for some years and came to Canton in 1884. I have always worked at farm
work except now and then in a factory.

I had two brothers, Dan and Tom, and one sister, Dora, but I never heard
from them or saw them after the war. I have been married twice. My first
wife was Sally Dillis Blaire and we were married in 1889. I got a
divorce a few years later and I don't know whatever became of her. My
second wife is still living. Her name was Kattie Belle Reed and I
married her in 1907. No, I never had any children.

I don't believe I had a bed when I was a slave as I don't remember any.
At home, after the war, my mother and father's bed was made of wood with
ropes stretched across with a straw tick on top. 'Us kids' slept under
this bed on a 'trundle' bed so that at night my mother could just reach
down and look after any one of us if we were sick or anything.

I was raised on ash cakes, yams and butter milk. These ash cakes were
small balls made of dough and my mother would rake the ashes out of the
fire place and lay these balls on the hot coals and then cover them over
with the ashes again. When they were done we would take 'em out, clean
off the ashes and eat them. We used to cook chicken by first cleaning
it, but leaving the feathers on, then cover it with clay and lay it in a
hole filled with hot coals. When it was done we would just knock off the
clay and the feathers would come off with it.

When I was a 'kid' I wore nothing but a 'three cornered rag' and my
mother made all my clothes as I grew older. No, the slaves never knew
what underwear was.

We didn't have any clocks to go by; we just went to work when it was
light enough and quit when it was too dark to see. When any slaves took
sick they called in a nigger mammy who used roots and herbs, that is,
unless they were bad sick, then the overseer would call a regular
doctor.

When some slave died no one quit work except relatives and they stopped
just long enough to go to the funeral. The coffins were made on the
plantation, these were just rough pine board boxes, and the bodies were
buried in the grave yard on the plantation.

The overseer on the Jefferson plantation, so my father told me, would
not allow the slaves to pray and I never saw a bible until after I came
north. This overseer was not a religious man and would whip a slave if
he found him praying.

The slaves were allowed to sing and dance but were not allowed to play
games, but we did play marbles and cards on the quiet. If we wandered
too far from the plantation we were chased and when they caught us they
put us in the stockade. Some of the slaves escaped and as soon as the
overseer found this out they would turn the blood hounds loose. If they
caught any runaway slaves they would whip them and then sell them, they
would never keep a slave who tried to run away."


NOTE: Mr. Williams and his wife are supported by the Old Age Pension.
Interviewed by Chas. McCullough.





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