A Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves
TYPEWRITTEN RECORDS PREPARED BY 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
NORTH CAROLINA NARRATIVES
Prepared by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of North Carolina
[HW:] = Handwritten notes by original editor.
[TR:] = Inline transcriber notes. See end of document for additional notes.
Jackson, John H. 1 Johnson, Ben 8 Johnson, Isaac 14 Johnson, Tina 20 Jones, Bob 23 Jones, Clara 27, 30 Jordon, Abner 34
Lassiter, Jane 37 Lawson, Dave 43 Lee, Jane 51 Littlejohn, Chana 54
McAllister, Charity 60 McCoy, Clara Cotton 64 McCullers, Henrietta 72 McCullough, Willie 76 McLean, James Turner 82 Magwood, Frank 90 Manson, Jacob 95 Manson, Roberta 100 Markham, Millie 105 Mials, Maggie 109 Mitchel, Anna 113 Mitchner, Patsy 116 Moore, Emeline 124 Moore, Fannie 127 Moring, Richard C. 138
Nelson, Julius 143 Nichols, Lila 147
Organ, Martha 151
Parker, Ann 155 Penny, Amy 158 Perry, Lily 162 Perry, Valley 167 Pitts, Tempe 173 Plummer, Hannah 177 Pool, Parker 183
Raines, Rena 192 Ransome, Anthony 196 Richardson, Caroline 198 Riddick, Charity 203 Riddick, Simuel 207 Rienshaw, Adora 212 Robinson, Celia 216 Rogers, George 220 Rogers, Hattie 226 Rountree, Henry 232
Scales, Anderson 236 Scales, Catherine 244 Scales, Porter 252 Scott, William 259 Shaw, Tiney 265 Smith, John 269 Smith, John 276 Smith, Josephine 281 Smith, Nellie 285 Smith, Sarah Ann 289 Smith, William 292 Sorrell, Laura 295 Sorrell, Ria 299 Spell, Chaney 306 Spikes, Tanner 309 Stephenson, Annie 312 Stewart, Sam T. 316 Stone, Emma 324 Sykes, William 327
Taylor, Annie 332 Taylor, R.S. 335 Thomas, Elias 342 Thomas, Jacob 348 Thornton, Margaret 352 Tillie 355 Trell, Ellen 359 Trentham, Henry James 363
Upperman, Jane Anne Privette 367
Whitley, Ophelia 371 Wilcox, Tom 376 Williams, Catharine 380 Williams, Rev. Handy 385 Williams, John Thomas 390 Williams, Lizzie 394 Williams, Penny 401 Williams, Plaz 406 Williamson, Melissa 410 Woods, Alex 414 Wright, Anna 420
Yellady, Dilly 425 Yellerday, Hilliard 431
Tina Johnson 20
Fannie Moore 127
Julius Nelson 143
Lila Nichols 147
Tempe Pitts 173
Adora Rienshaw 212
William Scott 259
Tiney Shaw 265
John Smith 269
Josephine Smith 281
Sam T. Stewart 316
William Sykes 327
N.C. District: No. 2 Worker: Mrs. W.N. Harriss No. Words: 1363 Subject: Memories of Uncle Jackson Interviewed: John H. Jackson 309 S. Sixth St. Wilmington, N.C.
[TR: Date stamp: JUN 26 1937]
MEMORIES OF UNCLE JACKSON
"I was born in 1851, in the yard where my owner lived next door to the City Hall. I remember when they was finishin' up the City Hall. I also remember the foreman, Mr. James Walker, he was general manager. The overseen (overseer) was Mr. Keen. I remember all the bricklayers; they all was colored. The man that plastered the City Hall was named George Price, he plastered it inside. The men that plastered the City Hall outside and put those colum's up in the front, their names was Robert Finey and William Finey, they both was colored. Jim Artis now was a contractor an' builder. He done a lot of work 'round Wilmin'ton.
"Yes'm, they was slaves, mos' all the fine work 'round Wilmin'ton was done by slaves. They called 'em artisans. None of 'em could read, but give 'em any plan an' they could foller it to the las' line."
Interviewer: "Did the owner collect the pay for the labor, Uncle Jackson?"
"No, ma'm. That they did'n. We had a lot of them artisans 'mongst our folks. They all lived on our place with they fam'lies. They hired theyselves where they pleased. They colle'ted they pay, an' the onliest thing the owner took was enough to support they fam'lies. They all lived in our yard, it was a great big place, an' they wimmen cooked for 'em and raised the chilluns.
"You know, they lays a heap o' stress on edication these days. But edication is one thing an' fireside trainin' is another. We had fireside trainin'.
"We went to church regular. All our people marched behind our owners, an' sat up in the galle'y of the white folks church. Now, them that went to St. James Church behind their white folks didn' dare look at nobody else. 'Twant allowed. They were taught they were better than anybody else. That was called the 'silk stockin' church. Nobody else was fitten to look at.
"My mother was the laund'ess for the white folks. In those days ladies wore clo'es, an' plenty of 'em. My daddy was one of the part Indian folks. My mammy was brought here from Washin'ton City, an' when her owner went back home he sold her to my folks. You know, round Washin'ton an' up that way they was Ginny (Guinea) niggers, an' that's what my mammy was. We had a lot of these malatto negroes round here, they was called 'Shuffer Tonies', they was free issues and part Indian. The leader of 'em was James Sampson. We child'en was told to play in our own yard and not have nothin' to do with free issue chil'en or the common chil'en 'cross the street, white or colored, because they was'nt fitten to 'sociate with us. You see our owners was rich folks. Our big house is the one where the ladies of Sokosis (Sorosis) has their Club House, an' our yard spread all round there, an' our house servants, an' some of the bes' artisans in Wilmin'ton lived in our yard.
"You know, I'm not tellin' you things what have been told me, but I'm tellin' you things I knows.
"I remember when the Zoabbes company came from Georgia here to Wilmin'ton an' they had all ladies as officers.
"I remember when the Confederates captured part of the Union Army at Fort Sumter, S.C., and they brought them here to Wilmin'ton and put them out under Fourth Street bridge, and the white ladies of Wilmin'ton, N.C. cooked food and carried it by baskets full to them. We all had plenty of food. A warehouse full of everything down there by the river nigh Red Cross Street, an' none of us ever went hungry 'till the war was over.
"I remember when Gen'ral Grant's Army came to the river. They mounted guns to boombar the city. Mr. John Dawson an' Mr. Silas Martin, they went on the corner of Second an' Nun Streets on the top of Ben Berry's house an' run up a white sheet for a flag, an' the Yankees did'n' boombar us. An' Mr. Martin gave his house up to the Progro Marshells, and my mother cleaned up the house an' washed for them. Her name was Caroline West.
"I remember when that Provo Marshell told the colored people that any house in Wilmin'ton they liked, that was empty, they could go take it, an' the first one they took was the fine Bellamy Mansion on Market an' Fifth Street."
"Uncle Jackson", asked the interviewer, "don't you remember that house was headquarters of the Federal Army? How could colored people occupy it?"
Uncle Jackson: "I don't remember nothin' about Federal soldiers bein' in that house, but I'm tellin' you I knows a lot of common colored folks was in it because I seen 'em sittin' on the piazza an' all up an' down those big front steps. I seen 'em. Nice colored people wouldn't 'a gone there. They had respec' for theirselves an' their white folks. But Dr. Bellamy came home soon with his fam'ly an' those colored people got out. They wan't there long.
"Endurin' of slavery I toted water for the fam'ly to drink. I remember when there was springs under where the new Court House is now, and all the white folks livin' 'round there drank water from those springs. They called it Jacob Spring. There was also a spring on Market Street between Second and Third Streets, that was called McCrayer (McCrary) spring. They didn't 'low nobody but rich folks to get water from that spring. Of co'se I got mine there whenever I chose to tote it that far. We did'n' work so hard in those days. I don't know nothin' about field han's an' workmen on the river, but so far as I knows the carpenters an' people like that started work at 8 o'clock A.M. and stopped at 5 o'clock P.M. Of course 'round the house it was different. Our folks done pretty much what the white folks did because we was all pretty much one an' other.
"Did I ever know of any slaves bein' whipped? I seen plenty of 'em whipped over at the jail, but them was bad niggers, (this with a grimace of disgust, and shaking of the head), they needed whippin'. But (with a chuckle) I sho' would have hated to see anybody put they han's on one of my owner's people. We was all 'spectable an' did'n know nothin' about whippen. Our mammy's spanked us aplenty, yes mam they did.
"I remember when they didn't have no trussels 'cross either river, an' they had a passages boat by the name of Walker Moore, an' the warf was up there by the Charlotte railroad (S.A.L.) The Boat would take you from there to the bluff an' then you would have to catch the train to go to Greensboro, and other places in No'th Carolina.
"I remember when the Fourth Street Fire Department bell was in front of the City Hall. An' Mr. Maginny had his school right back of the City Hall.
"I believe we was all happy as slaves because we had the best of kere (care). I don't believe none of us was sold off because I never heard tell of it. I have always served nice folks an' never 'sociated with any other kind. I brought up Mis ——'s chil'ren an' now she gives me a life intrust in this place I lives in. I hav'nt never to say really wanted for anything. I hav'nt never bothered with wimmen, an' had nothin' to bother me.
"I mus' tell you' bout Gov'ner Dudley's election, an' the free issue niggers. They say Mr. Dudley told 'em if they'd vote for him he'd do more for 'em than any man ever had. So they voted for him an' he was elected. Then he ups an' calls a const'utional convention in Raleigh an' had all the voting taken away from 'em. An' that the big thing he done for em."
[Footnote 1: Note: Have not been able to verify this memory, and think perhaps the unusual uniforms of the Zoaves caused the small boy to think they were women, or some adult may have amused themselves by telling him so.]
[Footnote 2: Note: Governor Dudley was elected before Uncle Jackson was born, but he enjoyed thoroughly telling this joke on the 'free issue niggers'.]
N.C. District: No. 2 Worker: Mary A. Hicks No. Words: 920 Subject: EX-SLAVE STORY Story teller: Ben Johnson Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt
[TR: Date stamp: JUN 1 1937]
An interview with Ben Johnson 85 of Hecktown, Durham, Durham County, May 20, 1937.
Uncle Ben, who is nearly blind and who walks with a stick, was assisted to the porch by his wife who sat down near him in a protecting attitude. He is much less striking than his wife who is small and dainty with perfect features and snow white hair worn in two long braids down her back. She wore enormous heart shaped earrings, apparently of heavy gold; while Uncle Ben talked she occasionally prompted him in a soft voice.
"I wuz borned in Orange County and I belonged ter Mr. Gilbert Gregg near Hillsboro. I doan know nothin' 'bout my mammy an' daddy, but I had a brother Jim who wuz sold ter dress young missus fer her weddin'. De tree am still standin' whar I set under an' watch 'em sell Jim. I set dar an' I cry an' cry, 'specially when dey puts de chains on him an' carries him off, an' I ain't neber felt so lonesome in my whole life. I ain't neber hyar from Jim since an' I wonder now sometimes if'en he's still livin'.
"I knows dat de marster wuz good ter us an' he fed an' clothed us good. We had our own gyarden an' we wuz gittin' long all right.
"I seed a whole heap of Yankees when dey comed ter Hillsboro an' most of 'em ain't got no respeck fer God, man, nor de debil. I can't 'member so much 'bout 'em do' cause we lives in town an' we has a gyard.
"De most dat I can tell yo' 'bout am de Ku Klux. I neber will fergit when dey hung Cy Guy. Dey hung him fer a scandelous insult ter a white 'oman an' dey comed atter him a hundert strong.
"Dey tries him dar in de woods, an' dey scratches Cy's arm ter git some blood, an' wid dat blood dey writes dat he shall hang 'tween de heavens an' de yearth till he am daid, daid, daid, an' dat any nigger what takes down de body shall be hunged too.
"Well sar, de nex' mornin' dar he hung, right ober de road an' de sentence hangin' ober his haid. Nobody'ud bother wid dat body fer four days an' dar hit hung, swingin' in de wind, but de fou'th day de sheriff comes an' takes hit down.
"Dar wuz Ed an' Cindy, who 'fore de war belonged ter Mr. Lynch an' atter de war he told 'em ter move. He gives 'em a month an' dey ain't gone, so de Ku Kluxes gits 'em.
"Hit wuz on a cold night when dey comed an' drugged de niggers out'n bed. Dey carried 'em down in de woods an' whup dem, den dey throws 'em in de pond, dere bodies breakin' de ice. Ed come out an' come ter our house, but Cindy ain't been seed since.
"Sam Allen in Caswell County wuz tol' ter move an' atter a month de hundret Ku Klux come a-totin' his casket an' dey tells him dat his time has come an' if'en he want ter tell his wife good bye an' say his prayers hurry up.
"Dey set de coffin on two cheers an' Sam kisses his ole oman who am a-cryin', den he kneels down side of his bed wid his haid on de piller an' his arms throwed out front of him.
"He sets dar fer a minute an' when he riz he had a long knife in his hand. 'Fore he could be grabbed he done kill two of de Ku Kluxes wid de knife, an' he done gone out'n de do'. Dey ain't ketch him nother, an' de nex' night when dey comed back, 'termined ter git him dey shot ano'her nigger by accident.
"I Imembers [TR: 'members] seein' Joe Turner, another nigger hung at Hillsboro in '69 but I plumb fergot why it wuz.
"I know one time Miss Hendon inherits a thousand dollars from her pappy's 'state an' dat night she goes wid her sweetheart ter de gate, an' on her way back ter de house she gits knocked in de haid wid a axe. She screams an' her two nigger sarvants, Jim an' Sam runs an' saves her but she am robbed.
"Den she tells de folkses dat Jim an' Sam am de guilty parties, but her little sister swears dat dey ain't so dey gits out of it.
"Atter dat dey fin's out dat it am five mens, Atwater, Edwards, Andrews, Davis an' Markham. De preacher comes down to whar dey am hangin' ter preach dar funeral an' he stan's dar while lightnin' plays roun' de dead mens haids an' de win' blows de trees, an he preaches sich a sermon as I ain't neber hyard before.
"Bob Boylan falls in love wid another oman so he burns his wife an' four youngins up in dere house.
"De Ku Kluxes gits him, of course, an' dey hangs him high on de old red oak on de Hillsboro Road. Atter dey hunged him his lawyer says ter us boys, 'Bury him good, boys, jist as good as you'd bury me if'en I wuz daid.'
"I shuck han's wid Bob 'fore dey hunged him an' I he'ped ter bury him too an' we bury him nice an' we all hopes dat he done gone ter glory."
N.C. District: No. 2 Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 991 Subject: ISAAC JOHNSON Story teller: Isaac Johnson Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt
ISAAC JOHNSON Lillington, North Carolina, Route 1, Harnett County.
"I am feelin' very well this mornin', while I don't feel like I used to. I done so much hard work, I'm 'bout all in. Dey didn't have all dese new fangled things to do work an' go 'bout on when I wus a boy. No, no, you jes' had to git out an' do all de work, most all de work by hand. I wus ten years old when de Yankees come through. I wus born Feb. 12, 1855.
"I belonged to Jack Johnson. My missus' name wus Nancy. My father wus Bunch Matthews; he belonged to old man Drew Matthews, a slave owner. My mother wus named Tilla Johnson. She belonged to Jack Johnson, my marster. De plantation wus near Lillington, on the north side o' de Cape Fear River and ran down to near de Lillington Cross roads one mile from de river. I had one brother and six sisters. My brother wus named Phil and my sisters name Mary, Caroline, Francis and I don't remember de others names right now. Been so long since I saw any of 'em. Dey are all dead. Yes sir, dey are all dead. I do not remember my grandpa and grandma. No sir, I don't.
"I wus too small to work, dey had me to do little things like feedin' de chickens, an' mindin' de table sometimes; but I wus too small to work. Dey didn't let children work much in dem days till dey were thirteen or fourteen years old. I had plenty to eat, good clothes, a nice place to sleep an' a good time. Marster loved his slaves an' other white folks said he loved a nigger more den he did white folks. Our food wus fixed up fine. It wus fixed by a regular cook who didn't do anything but cook. We had gardens, a plenty o' meat, a plenty, an' mo' biscuit den a lot o' white folks had. I kin remember de biscuit. I never hunted any, but I went bird blindin' an' set bird traps. I caught lots o' birds.
"Jack Johnson, my marster never had no children of his own. He had a boy with him by the name of Stephen, a nephew of his, from one of his brothers. Marster Jack had three brothers Willis, Billy, and Matthew. I don' remember any of his sisters. There was 'bout four thousand acres in de plantation an' 'bout 25 slaves. Marster would not have an overseer.
"No sir, de slaves worked very much as they pleased. He whupped a slave now an' then, but not much. I have seen him whup 'em. He had some unruly niggers. Some of 'em were part Indian, an' mean. Dey all loved him doe. I never saw a slave sold. He kept his slaves together. He didn't want to git rid of any of 'em. We went to de white folks church at Neill's Creek a missionary Baptis' Church.
"We played during the Christmas holidays, an' we got 'bout two weeks 4th of July, and lay by time, which wus 'bout the fourth. We had great times at corn shuckin's, log rollin's and cotton pickin's. We had dances. Marster lowed his slaves lots o' freedom. My mother used to say he wus better den other folks. Yes, she said her marster wus better than other folks.
"The white folks didn't teach us to read an' write. I cannot read an' write, but de white folks, only 'bout half or less den half, could read an' write den. Dere were very few pore white folks who could read an' write. I remember de baptizin's at de Reuben Matthews Mill Pond. Sometimes after a big meeting dey would baptize twenty four at one time. No slaves run away from Marster. Dey didn't have any scuse to do so, cause whites and colored fared alike at Marster's. We played base, cat, rolly hole, and a kind of base ball called 'round town.
"Dr. John McNeill looked after us when we were sick. We used a lot of herbs an' things. Drank sassafras tea an' mullen tea. We also used sheep tea for measles, you knows dat. You know how it wus made. Called sheep pill tea. It shore would cuore de measles. 'Bout all dat would cuore measles den. Dey were bad den. Wus den dey is now.
"I saw Wheeler's Cavalry. Dey come through ahead of de Yankees. I saw colored people in de Yankee uniforms. Dey wore blue and had brass buttons on 'em. De Yankees an' Wheeler's Cavalry took everything dey wanted, meat, chickens, an' stock. We stayed on wid Marster after de war. I've never lived out of de state. We lived in de same place ontill old Marster an' Missus died. Den we lived wid deir relations right on an' here. I am now on a place deir heirs own.
"Ole Marster loved his dram, an' he gave it to all his slaves. It sold for ten cents a quart. He made brandy by de barrels, an' at holidays all drank together an' had a good time. I never saw any of 'em drunk. People wan't mean when dey were drinking den. It wus so plentiful nobody notices it much. Marster would tell de children 'bout Raw Head and Bloody Bones an' other things to skeer us. He would call us to de barn to git apples an' run an' hide, an' we would have a time findin' him. He give de one who found him a apple. Sometimes he didn't give de others no apple.
"I married Ellen Johnson May 22, 1865 de year de war went up, an' my wife is livin' as you see, an' able to be about. I'm not able to work, not able to go out anywhere by myself. I know I cain't las' much longer but I'm thankful to de Lord for sparin' me dis long."
N.C. District: No. 2 Worker: Mary A. Hicks No. Words: 346 Subject: TINA JOHNSON Story teller: Tina Johnson Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt
TINA JOHNSON Ex-Slave Story
An interview with Tina Johnson 85, S. Bloodworth Street, Raleigh.
"I wuz bawned in Richmon', Georgia 'round eighty-five years ago. My mammy wuz named Cass an' my father, dat is my step-father wuz named John Curtis. I got de name of Johnson frum Gen'l Johnson, I doan know who my real daddy wuz.
"My mammy belonged ter a Mis' Berry who wuz pretty good ter her, but we ain't had nothin' but de coarsest food an' clothes. I had one brother name Dennis an' me an' him wucked wid de others in de cotton patch.
"We had done moved nigh Augusta when Sherman come, an' Sherman's sister wuz a-livin' in Augusta. Dat's de reason dat Sherman missed us, case he ain't wantin' ter 'sturb his sister none.
"I ain't seed nary a Yankee, but fer two days an' nights I hyard de guns roarin' an' felt de earth shakin' lak a earthquake wuz hittin' it. De air wuz dark an' de clouds hunged low, de whole earth seemed ter be full of powder an' yo' nostrils seemed lak dey would bust wid de sting of it.
"Atter de surrender we stayed on an' went through de Ku Klux scare. I know dat de Ku Kluxes went ter a nigger dance one night an' whupped all of de dancers. Ole Marster Berry wuz mad, case he ain't sont fer' em at all an' he doan want dem.
"Seberal year's atter de war mammy married John Curtis in de Baptist church at Augusta, an' me an' Dennis seed de ceremony. I pulled a good one on a white feller 'bout dat onct. He axed me if I knowed dat my pappy an' mammy wuz married 'fore I wuz borned. I sez ter him dat I wonder if he knows whar his mammy an' pappy wuz married when he wuz borned.
"We comed ter Raleigh 'fore things wuz settled atter de war, an' I watches de niggers livin' on kush, co'nbread, 'lasses an' what dey can beg an' steal frum de white folkses. Dem days shore wuz bad."
N.C. District: No. 2 Worker: Mary Hicks No. Words: 450 Subject: EX-SLAVE STORY Story Teller: BOB JONES Editor: George L. Andrews
[TR: Date stamp: AUG 17 1937]
EX-SLAVE STORY BOB JONES
An interview with Bob Jones, 86 years of age, County Home, Raleigh, North Carolina.
"I wus borned in Warren County on de plantation 'longin' ter Mister Logie Rudd. My mammy wus Frankie. My pappy wus named [TR: illegible] [H]arry Jones. Him an' my oldes' brother Burton 'longed ter a Mister Jones dar in de neighborhood.
"Marster Logie an' young Marster Joe wus nice as dey could be, but Mis' Betsy wus crabbed an' hard ter git along wid. She whupped de servants what done de house work an' she fussed so bad dat she moughty nigh run all us crazy. Hit wus her what sold my Aunt Sissy Ann an' hit wus her what whupped my sister Mary so bad. Dar warn't but six of us slaves but dem six run a race ter see who can stay outen her sight.
"Young Marster Joe wus one of de fust ter go ter de war an' I wanted ter go wid him but I bein' only fourteen dey 'cided ter sen' Sidney instead. I hated dat, 'case I shorely wanted ter go.
"We neber seed Marse Joe but twice atter he left, de time when his daddy wus buried an' when dey brung his body home frum de war.
"One day about seben or eight Yankees comed 'roun' our place lookin' fer Reb. scouts, dey said, but dey ain't fin' none so dey goes on 'bout dere business. De nex' day a few of our soldiers brings Marse Joe's body home frum de war.
"I doan 'member whar he wus killed but he had been dead so long dat he had turned dark, an' Sambo, a little nigger, sez ter me, 'I thought, Bob, dat I'ud turn white when I went ter heaben but hit 'pears ter me lak de white folkses am gwine ter turn black.'
"We buried young Marse Joe under de trees in de family buryin' groun' an' we niggers sung Swing Low Sweet Chariot an' Nearer My God to Thee an' some others. De ole missus wus right nice ter ever'body dat day an' she let de young missus take charge of all de business frum dat time.
"We stayed on de Rudd plantation fer two years atter de war, den we moves ter Method whar I met Edna Crowder. We courted fer seberal months an' at las' I jist puts my arm 'roun' her waist an' I axes her ter have me. She ain't got no mammy ter ax so she kisses me an' tells me dat she will.
"Durin' de course of our married life we had five chilluns but only one of dem lived ter be named, dat wus Hyacinth, an' he died 'fore he was a month old.
"Edna died too, six years ago, an' lef' me ter de mercies of de worl'. All my brudders an' sisters dead, my parents dead, my chilluns dead, an' my wife dead, but I has got a niece.
"Till lately I been livin' at de Wake County Home, but my niece what lives on Person Street says dat iffen I can git de pension dat she can afford ter let me stay ter her house. I hope I does, 'case I doan want ter go back ter de County Home."
N.C. District: No. 2 Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 333 Subject: CLARA JONES Story teller: Clara Jones Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt
CLARA JONES 408 Cannon Street
"I been unable ter work fer 10 years; I am blind. I been in bed helpless fer four years. I eats all I can get, and takes what I am told ter take. De Lord helps me, I am depending on him. He put me into de world and he can take me out. I was 17 years old at de surrender. My missus wus Dillie Scott. I wus a Scott before I married William Jones. My marster wus Aaron Scott. I loved my white folks. Hain't got no word ter say against 'em. Don't think de Government goin' to help me any; I have been fooled so many times. We all should fix our salvation right that's the thing that counts now. My time is 'bout spent here.
"De white folks went off to de war; dey said dey could whup, but de Lord said, 'No', and dey didn't whup. Dey went off laffin', an' many were soon cryin', and many did not come back. De Yankees come through, dey took what dey wanted; killed de stock; stole de horses; poured out de lasses and cut up a lot of meaness, but most of 'em is dead and gone now. No matter whether dey were Southern white folks, or Northern white folks, dey is dead now.
"I am helpless, my son, de baby, who is de only livin' chile I has, takes care o' me. My son is a Baptis' Minister, but he has no Church. He stays here, and looks after me. He is forty years old. He has heart disease, and his lungs are bad. He has no regular job, so some times we have very little ter eat. Our water is cut off now. We never have money to buy any ice. We have had only one ten cent piece of ice this summer. Sometimes my son sets up wid me all night.
"Maybe de Lawd will help us sometime. I trusts him anyway. Yes, I trusts de Lawd."
N.C. District: No. 2 Worker: Mary A. Hicks No. Words: 554 Subject: CLARA JONES Story teller: Clara Jones Editor: Geo. L. Andrews
[TR: Date stamp: AUG 6 1937]
An interview with Clara Jones of 408 Cannon Street, Raleigh, North Carolina.
"I doan know how old I is but I wus borned long time ago case I wus a married 'oman way 'fore de war. We lived on Mr. Felton McGee's place hear in Wake County. I wurked lak a man dar an' de hours wus from sunup till dark mostly. He ain't had but about fifty slaves but he makes dem do de wurk of a hundret an' fifty. We ain't had no fun dar, case hit takes all of our strength ter do our daily task. Yes'um we had our tasks set out ever' day.
"One day, right atter my fifth chile wus borned, I fell out in de fiel'. Marster come out an' looked at me, den he kicks me an' 'lows, 'a youngin' ever' ten months an' never able ter wurk, I'll sell her'.
"A few days atter dat he tuck me an' my two younges' chilluns ter Raleigh an' he sells us ter Marse Rufus Jones.
"Marse Rufus am a good man in ever' way. He fed us good an' he give us good clothes an' we ain't had much wurk ter do, dat is, not much side of what we had ter do on McGee's plantation.
"We had some fun on Marse Rufus' plantation, watermillion slicin's, candy pullin's, dances, prayer meetin's an' sich. Yes mam, we had er heap of fun an' in dat time I had eleben chilluns.
"My husband, William, still stayed on ter Mister McGee's. We got married in 1860, de year 'fore de war started, I think. I can't tell yo' much 'bout our courtin' case hit went on fer years an' de Marster wanted us ter git married so's dat I'd have chilluns. When de slaves on de McGee place got married de marster always said dat dere duty wus ter have a houseful of chilluns fer him.
"When de Yankees come Mis' Sally, Marse Rufus' wife cried an' ordered de scalawags outen de house but dey jist laughs at her an' takes all we got. Dey eben takes de stand of lard dat we has got buried in de ole fiel' an' de hams hangin' up in de trees in de pasture. Atter dey is gone we fin's a sick Yankee in de barn an' Mis' Sally nurses him. Way atter de war Mis' Sally gits a letter an' a gol' ring from him.
"When de news of de surrender comes Mis' Sally cries an' sez dat she can't do widout her niggers, so Marse Rufus comes in an' tells us dat we can stay on.
"William moves ober dar, takes de name of Jones an' goes ter farmin' wid a purpose an' believe me we makes our livin'. We stay dar through all of de construction days an' through de time when de Ku Kluxes wus goin' wild an' whuppin's all de niggers. We raise our eleben chilluns dar an' dar's whar my husban' died in 1898 an' den I comes ter Raleigh.
"I wurked till four years ago when I had a stroke now I ain't able ter wurk an' I sho' does want my pension. Will yo' tell dem ter sen' hit in de nex' mail."
N.C. District: No. 3 Writer: Daisy Whaley No. Words: 250 Subject: Abner Jordan, Ex-slave Of Durham County. Interviewed: Abner Jordan Durham County Home.
Abner Jordan Ex-slave, 95 years.
"I wus bawn about 1832 an' I wus bawn at Staggsville, Marse Paul Cameron's place. I belonged to Marse Paul. My pappy's name wus Obed an' my mammy wus Ella Jordan an' dey wus thirteen chillun on our family.
"I wus de same age of Young Marse Benehan, I played wid him an' wus his body guard. Yes, suh, Whare ever young Marse Benehan went I went too. I waited on him. Young Marse Benny run away an' 'listed in de war, but Marse Paul done went an' brung him back kaze he wus too young to go and fight de Yankees.
"Marse Paul had a heap of niggahs; he had five thousan'. When he meet dem in de road he wouldn' know dem an' when he azed dem who dey wus an' who dey belonged to, dey' tell him dey belonged to Marse Paul Cameron an' den he would say dat wus all right for dem to go right on.
"My pappy wus de blacksmith an' foreman for Marse Paul, an' he blew de horn for de other niggahs to come in from de fiel' at night. Dey couldn' leave de plantation without Marse say dey could.
"When de war come de Yankees come to de house an' axed my mammy whare de folks done hid de silver an' gol', an' dey say dey gwine to kill mammy if she didn' tell dem. But mammy say she didn' know whare dey put it, an' dey would jus' have to kill her for she didn' know an' wouldn' lie to keep dem from hurting her.
"De sojers stole seven or eight of de ho'ses an' foun' de meat an' stole dat, but dey didn' burn none of de buildin's nor hurt any of us slaves.
"My pappy an' his family stayed wid Marse Paul five years after de surrender den we moved to Hillsboro an' I's always lived 'roun' dese parts. I ain' never been out of North Carolina eighteen months in my life. North Carolina is good enough for me."
N.C. District: No. 2 Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 1044 Subject: JANE LASSITER Story teller: Jane Lassiter Editor: Geo. L. Andrews
[TR: Date stamp: AUG 6 1937]
JANE LASSITER About 80 years old. 324 Battle Street Raleigh, N.C.
"I am 'bout 80 years old. I am somewhere in my seventies, don't zackly know my age. I wus here when de Yankees come an' I 'member seein' dem dressed in blue. I wus a nurse at dat time not big enough to hold a baby but dey let me set by de cradle an' rock it.
"All my white folks dead an' all my people am dead an' I haint got no one to ax 'bout my age. Dey had my age an' my mother's age in de Bible but dey am all dead out now an' I don't know whur it is.
"My mother an' me belonged to the Councils. Dr. Kit Council who lived on a plantation in de lower edge of Chatham County, 'bout three miles from New Hill. My father belonged to de Lamberts. Their plantation wus near Pittsboro in Chatham County. My father wus named Macon Lambert an' his marster wus named At Lambert. Our missus wus named Caroline an' father's missus wus named Beckie. My grandfather wus Phil Bell. He belonged to the Bells. They lived in Chatham County. My grandmother wus named Peggy an' she belonged to de same family.
"We lived in little ole log houses. We called 'em cabins. They had stick an' dirt chimleys wid one door to de house an' one window. It shet to lak a door.
"We did not have any gardens an' we never had any money of our own. We jest wurked fer de white folks.
"We had plenty sumptin to eat an' it wus cooked good. My mother wus de cook an' she done it right. Our clothes wus homemade but we had plenty shiftin' clothes. Course our shoes wus given out at Christmas. We got one pair a year an' when dey wore out we got no more an' had to go barefooted de rest of de time. You had to take care of dat pair uv shoes bekase dey wus all you got a year. The slaves caught game sometime an' et it in de cabins, but dere wus not much time fer huntin' dere wus so much wurk to do.
"Dere wus 'bout fifty slaves on de plantation, an' dey wurked from light till dark. I 'member dey wurkin' till dark. Course I wus too small to 'member all 'bout it an' I don't 'member 'bout de overseers. I never seen a slave whupped, but I 'members seein' dem carryin' slaves in droves like cows. De white men who wus guardin' 'em walked in front an' some behind. I did not see any chains. I never seen a slave sold an' I don't 'member ever seein' a jail fer slaves.
"Dere wus no books, or larnin' uv any kind allowed. You better not be ketched wid a book in yore han's. Dat wus sumptin dey would git you fer. I ken read an' write a little but I learned since de surrender. My mother tole me 'bout dat bein' 'ginst de rules of de white folks. I 'members it while I wus only a little gal. When de Yankees come thro'.
"Dere wus no churches on de plantation an' we wus not 'lowed to have prayer meetings in de cabins, but we went to preachin' at de white folks church. I 'member dat. We set on de back seat. I 'member dat.
"No slaves ever run away from our plantation cause marster wus good to us. I never heard of him bein' 'bout to whup any of his niggers. Mother loved her white folks as long as she lived an' I loved 'em too. No mister, we wus not mistreated. Mother tole me a lot 'bout Raw Head an' Bloody Bones an' when I done mean, she say, 'Better not do dat any more Raw Head an' Bloody Bones gwine ter git yo'.' Ha! ha! dey jest talked 'bout ghosts till I could hardly sleep at nite, but de biggest thing in ghosts is somebody 'guised up tryin' to skeer you. Ain't no sich thing as ghosts. Lot of niggers believe dere is do'.
"We stayed on at marsters when de surrender come cause when we wus freed we had nothin' an' nowhere to go. Dats de truth. Mister, dats de truth. We stayed with marster a long time an' den jest moved from one plantation to another. It wus like dis, a crowd of tenants would get dissatisfied on a certain plantation, dey would move, an' another gang of niggers move in. Dat wus all any of us could do. We wus free but we had nothin' 'cept what de marsters give us.
"When we got sick, you sees we stayed wid a doctor, he looked after us, but we had our herbs too. We took sassafras tea, catnip an' horehound tea an' flag. Flag wus good to ease pain. Jest make a tea of de flagroots an' drink it hot.
"I married Kit Lassiter in Chatham County an' I had seven chilluns. Three boys an' four girls. All am dead but two. Two girls are livin'. One named Louie Finch, her husband dead. She stays wid me an' supports me. She cooks an' supports me. My other livin' daughter is Venira McLean. She lives across de street wid her husband. Her husband had a stroke an' ain't able to wurk no more. Dey live on five dollars a week. Dey ain't able to help me now. I moved ter Raleigh 20 years ago. My husband died here.
"I heard 'bout de Ku Klux but dey never give our family no trouble cause we didn't give 'em no cause to bother us. I don't know all 'bout slavery but I 'members dere wus a lot of big fat greasy niggers goin' around, an' I reckin dey fared good or dey wouldn't a been so fat. Dey got plenty to eat even if dey did wurk 'em.
"I believe slavery wus all rite whur slaves wus treated right. I haint got nuff edication to tell you nothin' 'bout Lincoln an' dem udder men. Heard 'em say he come thro', reckon he did too. I belong to the 'United Holiness Church'."
[Footnote 3: HW: New Hill (Newhill P.O.), Wake County.]
N.C. District: No. 3 Worker: Travis Jordan Subject: Dave Lawson Ex-Slave Story Lived at Blue Wing, N.C.
[TR: Date stamp: AUG 8 1937]
DAVE LAWSON EX-SLAVE
MY FATHER WHO KNEW THE PRINCIPLE CHARACTERS TOLD ME THIS STORY YEARS AGO
"Yes, suh, de wus' I knows 'bout slavery times is what dey tols me 'bout how come dey hung my gran'mammy an' gran'pappy. Dey hung dem bof at de same time an' from de same lim' of de tree, but dat was way back yonder befo' Mistah Lincoln come down here to set de niggers free. My mammy wuzn' but six months ole den an' I wuzn' even bawn, but Aunt Becky tole me 'bout it when I was ole enough to lissen.
"Dis ain' no nice tale you gwine hear. It's de truf, but 'tain't nice. De fus' time I heard it I didn' sleep none for a week. Everytime I shut my eyes I seed Marse Drew Norwood wid dat funnel in his mouf an' de hot steam blowin' up like a cloud 'roun' his wicked face an' skeered eyes.
"Dey say my gran'pappy's Ole Marse was de meanes' white man de Lawd ever let breath de breaf of life. His name was Marse Drew Norwood. He was de riches' lan' owner anywhare 'roun'. He owned more lan' an' more niggers den anybody in Person or Granville counties. But he didn' make his money wid no farm, no suh, he sho didn', he made his money buyin' an' sellin' niggers. He bought dem cheap an' sold dem high. He would catch all de niggers dat run away from other plantations an' keep dem in his lockup 'twell he fatten dem, den he would take dem way off down in Georgia, Alabama or some place like dat an' sell dem for a big price. He would come back wid his pockets runnin' over wid money. Some folks say he stold niggers to sell, but nobody never could catch him.
"Marse Drew lived over here on de Virginia line 'tween Red Bank an' Blue Wing. He owned lan' 'cross de No'th Carolina line too an' lived close to Blue Wing. He treated his niggers so mean dey was all de time runnin' off. If he caught dem he beat dem near 'bout to death. He did beat Cindy Norwood to death one time kaze she run off to Marse Reuben Jones place an' axed him to keep her. She got pizen in de cut places on her back an' had fits three days befo' de Lawd took her. But Marse Drew jus' laugh an' say he didn' keer; dat she wuzn' no 'count nohow.
"I ain't never seed Marse Drew kaze I was bawn way after de niggers was freed, but dey tole me he looked like a mad bull. He was short wid a big head set forward on his big shoulders. His neck was so short dat he couldn' wear no collar; he jus' kept de neck bindin' of his shirt pinned wid a diaper pin. De debil done lit a lamp an' set it burnin' in his eyes; his mouf was a wicked slash cut 'cross his face, an' when he got mad his lips curled back from his teef like a mad dog's. When he cracked his whip de niggers swinged an' de chillun screamed wid pain when dat plaited thong bit in dey flesh. He beat Mistis too. Mis' Cary wuzn' no bigger den a minute an' she skeered as a kildee of Marse Drew. She didn' live long dey say kaze Marse Drew whipped her jus' befo' dey fus' baby wuz bawn.
"Marse Drew done whip Luzanne kaze she burnt de biscuits, an' Mis' Cary give her some salve to rub on de cut places on her back. When Marse Drew foun' it out he got so mad dat he come back to de big house an' tole Mis' Cary dat he gwine touch her up wid his whip kaze she give Luzanne de salve, dat when he want his niggers doctored he gwine doctor dem hese'f, so he got to use his lash a little bit to make her remember.
"Mis' Cary got so skeered dat she run 'roun' an' 'roun' de house, but Marse Drew run after her, an' every now an' den he th'ow out dat plaited whip an' curl it 'roun' her shoulders. Every time it hit it cut clean through her clothes. Mis' Cary got so skeered dat de baby come dat night befo' 'twuz time. De baby wuz bawn dead an' Mis' Cary went on to glory wid it. Dey say she was glad to go. Yes, suh, everything on dat plantation, animal an' man was skeered of dat whip—dat whip dat never lef' Marse Drew's wris'. It was made of home-tanned leather plaited in a roun' cord big as a man's thum'. All day it swung from a leather strop tied to his wris' an' at night it lay on a chair 'side de bed whare he could reach it easy.
"It was jus' befo' de Yankees come over here to fight dat Marse Drew bought Cleve an' Lissa Lawson. Dey was my gran'mammy an' gran'pappy. My mammy den was a baby. Marse Drew bought dem for fo' hundred an' fifty dollars. Dat was cheap kaze de niggers was young wid hard farm trainin'. Ole Marse didn' buy mammy. He said a nigger brat wuzn' no good, dey wouldn' sell an' dey might die befo' dey growed up, 'sides dey was a strain on de mammy what breas' nussed it. Lissa cut up powerful kaze he made her leave de baby behin', but Marse Drew jus' laughed an' tole her dat he would give her a puppy; dat dey was plenty of houn's on de plantation. Den he snapped de chains on dey wris' an' led dem off. Lissa an' Cleve never seed dat baby no more. Aunt Beck Lawson took an' raised her an' when she got grown she was my mammy.
"Yes, suh, Marse Drew bought dem niggers like he was buyin' a pair of mules. Dey wuzn' no more den mules to him. It was early summer when he brung dem to de plantation, but when wheat cuttin' time come Lissa an' Cleve was sent to de wheat fiel's. Dey was smart niggers, dey worked hard—too hard for dey own good. In dem times 'twuz de smart, hard workin' niggers dat brought de bes' price, an' nobody didn' know dat better den Marse Drew.
"One day Cleve seed Marse Drew watchin' Lissa. She was gleamin' de wheat. Her skin was de color of warm brown velvet; her eyes was dark an' bright an' shinin' like muscadines under de frosty sun, an' her body was slender like a young tree dat bends easy. As she stooped an' picked up de wheat, flingin' it 'cross her arm, she swayed back an' fo'th jus' like dem saplins down yonder by de creek sways in de win'.
"Cleve watched Marse Drew on de sly. He seed him watchin' Lissa. He seed de lustful look in his eyes, but 'twuzn' Lissa he lustin' after; 'twuz money he seed in her slender swayin' body, in de smooth warm brown skin, an' de quick, clean way she gleam de wheat. Stripped to de wais' on de Alabama auction block she would bring near 'bout a thousan' dollars. Cleve 'gun to sweat. He turned so sick an' skeered dat he could hardly swing de scythe through de wheat. Marse Drew done took his baby away, an' now sumpin' way down in his heart told him dat he was gwine take Lissa. He didn' keer if he parted dem, 'twuz dollars he seed swingin' 'roun' his head—gol' dollars shinin' brighter den stars.
"'Twuz de nex' day dat Marse Drew went to Cleve's cabin. He walk up whistlin' an' knock on de door wid de butt of his whip.
"Cleve opened de door.
"Ole Marse tole him to pack Lissa's clothes, dat he was takin' her to Souf Boston de nex' day to sell her on de block.
"Cleve fell on his knees an' 'gun to plead. He knew Ole Marse wuzn' gwine take Lissa to no Souf Boston; he was gwine take her way off an' he wouldn' never see her no more. He beg an' promise Marse Drew to be good an' do anything he say [HW: to] do if he jus' leave him Lissa, dat she was his wife an' he love her. But Marse Drew hit him 'cross de face wid his whip, cuttin' his lip in half, den he went over an' felt of Lissa's arms an' legs like she might have been a hoss.
"When he done gone Cleve went over an' set down by Lissa an' took her han'. Lissa 'gun to cry, den she jumped up an' 'menced to take down her clothes hangin' on de wall.
"Cleve watched her for a while, den he made up his min' he gwine do sumpin', dat she ain't gwine be took away from him. He say: 'Quit dat, Lissa, leave dem clothes alone. You ain't gwine leave me, you ain't gwine nowhare, hear me?' Den he tole her to make up a hot fire while he brung in de wash pot. He brung in de big iron pot an' set it on de hearth an' raked de' red coals all 'roun' it, den he filled it wid water. While it was heatin' he went to de door an' looked out. De sun done gone down an' night was crowdin' de hills, pushin' dem out of sight. By daylight dat white man would be comin' after Lissa.
"Cleve turned 'roun' an' looked at Lissa. She was standin' by de wash pot lookin' down in de water, an' de firelight from de burnin' lightwood knots showed de tears droppin' off her cheeks. Cleve went outside. 'Bout dat time a scritch owl come an' set on de roof an' scritched. Lissa run out to skeer it away, but Cleve caught her arm. He say, 'Don't do dat, Lissa, leave him alone. Dat's de death bird, he knows what he's doin'. So Lissa didn' do nothin', she let de bird keep on scritchin'.
"When 'twuz good an' dark Cleve took a long rope an' went out, tellin' Lissa to keep de water boilin'. When, he come back he had Marse Drew all tied up wid de rope an gagged so he couldn' holler; he had him th'owed over his shoulder like a sack of meal. He brung him in de cabin an' laid him on de floor, den he tole him if he wouldn' sell Lissa dat he wouldn' hurt him. But Marse Drew shook his head an' cussed in his th'oat. Den Cleve took off de gag, but befo' de white man could holler out, Cleve stuffed de spout of a funnel in his big mouf way down his th'oat, holdin' down his tongue. He ax him one more time to save Lissa from de block, but Marse Drew look at him wid hate in his eyes shook his head again. Cleve didn' say nothin' else to him; he call Lissa an' tole her to bring him a pitcher of boilin' water.
"By den Lissa seed what Cleve was gwine do. She didn' tell Cleve not to do it nor nothin'; she jus' filled de pitcher wid hot water, den she went over an' set down on de floor an' hol' Marse Drew's head so he couldn' move.
"When Ole Marse seed what dey was fixin' to do to him, his eyes near 'bout busted out of his head, but when dey ax him again 'bout Lissa he wouldn' promise nothin', so Cleve set on him to hol' him down, den took de pitcher an' 'gun to pour dat boilin' water right in dat funnel stickin' in Marse Drew's mouf.
"Dat man kicked an' struggled, but dat water scalded its way down his th'oat, burnin' up his insides. Lissa brung another pitcher full an' dey wuzn' no pity in her eyes as she watched Marse Drew fightin' his way to torment, cussin' all niggers an' Abraham Lincoln.
"After dat Lissa an' Cleve set down to wait for de sheriff. Dey knew 'twuzn' no use to run, dey couldn' get nowhare. 'Bout sunup de folks come an' foun' Marse Drew, an' dey foun' Lissa an' Cleve settin' by de door han' in han' waitin'. When dem niggers tole what dey done an' how come dey done it dem white folks was hard. De sheriff took de rope from' roun' Marse Drew an' cut it in two pieces. He tied one rope 'roun' Cleve's neck an' one rope 'roun' Lissa's neck an' hung dem up in de big oak tree in de yard.
"Yes, suh, dat's what happened to my gran'mammy an' gran'pappy in slavery times. Dis here cabin we's settin' in is de same cabin whare Cleve an' Lissa scalded Marse Drew, an' dat oak tree 'side de paf is de same tree dey was hung on. Sometimes now in de fall of de year when I'se settin' in de door after de sun done gone down; an' de wheat am ripe an' bendin' in de win', an' de moon am roun' an' yeller like a mush melon, seems like I sees two shadows swingin' from de big lim' of dat tree—I sees dem swingin' low side by side wid dey feets near 'bout touchin' de groun'."
N.C. District: No. 2 Worker: Mary A. Hicks No. Words: 390 Subject: JANE LEE Person Interviewed: Jane Lee Editor: G.L. Andrews
[TR: Date stamp: SEP 10 1937]
An interview with Jane Lee, 81 years old, Selma, North Carolina.
"I wus borned de slave of Marse Henry McCullers down here at Clayton on de Wake an' Johnston line. My daddy wus named Addison an' my mammy wus named Caroline. Daddy 'longed to Mr. John Ellington who also lived near Clayton. I doan know de number of Mr. Ellington's slaves, but I know dat Marse Henry had six or seben.
"Marse Henry ain't had no oberseer ner no patterollers nother. He managed his business hisself an' ain't needed nobody. He whupped dem when dey needed hit but dat ain't often, not dat he ain't put de whuppin' on dem what did need hit.
"I 'members de Yankees comin' good as iffen hit wus yesterday. Dey comed wid a big noise, chasin' our white folks what wus in de army clean away. Dey chase dem to Raleigh an' den dey kotch 'em, but dey ain't had much time, ter do us any damage case dey wus too busy atter de Rebs.
"De woods wus full of runaway slaves an' Rebs who deserted de army so hit wus dangerous to walk out. Marse Henry give us a speech about hit an' atter I seed one rag-a-muffin nigger man dat wus so hongry dat his eyes pop out, I ain't took no more walks.
"Atter de war we moved on Mr. Ellington's place wid daddy an' dar I stayed till I married Wyatt Lee. Wyatt wus a bad proposition an' he got shot in Fayetteville atter we had five chilluns. Wyatt tuck a woman to Fayetteville an' a man named Frank Mattiner killed him about her. Den my oldest boy went to wurk in Virginia an' a man named Rudolphus killed him 'bout a yaller gal. Both of de murderers runaway an' ain't never been ketched.
"All five of my chilluns am daid now, an' fer de past ten years I'se done ever'thing but cut cord wood.
"How does I live? Well I lives now an' den. De county gives me two dollars a month an' de house am mine durin' my life time. Mr. Parrish sold hit to Judge Brooks wid de understandin' dat hit am mine long as I live. I don't know why, none of us never 'longed ter de Parrish's ner nothin' dat I knows of."
N.C. District: No. 2 Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 1138 Subject: CHANA LITTLEJOHN Person Interviewed: Chana Littlejohn Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt
[TR: Date stamp: JUN 26 1937]
CHANA LITTLEJOHN 215 State Street
[HW marginal note: To P. 2] "I remember when de Yankees come. I remember when de soldiers come an' had tents in Marster's yard before dey went off to de breastworks. My mother wus hired out before de surrender an' had to leave her two chilluns at home on Marster's plantation. When she come home Christmas he told her she would not have to go back any more. She could stay at home. This wus de las' year o' de war and he tol' her she would soon be free.
"My eyes are mighty bad. De doctor said he would work on 'em if somebody in de Agriculture Building would pay it. I can't see at all out of one eye and the other is bad.
"I doan reckon I wus ten years old when de Yankees come, but I wus runnin' around an' can remember all dis. Guess I wus 'bout eight years old. I wus born in Warren County, near Warrenton. I belonged to Peter Mitchell, a long, tall man. There were 'bout a hundred slaves on de plantation. My missus wus named Laura. Mother always called me 'ole Betsy' when she wus mad at me. Betsy wus Marster Peter's mother. I remember seein' her. She wus a big fat 'oman wid white hair. She give biscuits to all de chillun on Saturdays. She also looked out for de slave chilluns on Sunday. My father wus named Marcillus Littlejohn and my mother wus named Susan Littlejohn.
"We had gardens and patches and plenty to eat. We also got de holidays. Marster bought charcoal from de men which dey burnt at night an' on holidays. Dey worked an' made de stuff, an' marster would let dem have de steer-carts an' wagons to carry deir corn an' charcoal to sell it in town. Yes sir, dis wus mighty nice. We had plank houses. Dere wus not but one log house on de plantation. Marster lived in de big house. It had eight porches on it.
"Dere wus no churches on de plantation, an' I doan remember any prayer meetin's. When we sang we turned de wash-pots an' tubs in de doors, so dey would take up de noise so de white folks could not hear us. I do remember de gatherin's at our home to pray fur de Yankees to come. All de niggers thought de Yankees had blue bellies. The old house cook got so happy at one of dese meetin's she run out in de yard an' called, 'Blue bellies come on, blue bellies come on.' Dey caught her an' carried her back into de house.
"When de overseer whupped one o' de niggers he made all de slaves sing, 'Sho' pity Lawd, Oh! Lawd forgive!. When dey sang awhile he would call out one an' whup him. He had a sing fur everyone he whupped. Marster growed up wid de niggers an' he did not like to whup 'em. If dey sassed him he would put spit in their eyes and say 'now I recon you will mind how you sass me.'
"We had a lot o' game and 'possums. When we had game marster left de big house, and come down an' et wid us. When marster wan't off drunk on a spree he spent a lot of time wid de slaves. He treated all alike. His slaves were all niggers. Dere were no half-white chilluns dere.
"Marster would not let us work until we were thirteen years old. Den he put us to plowin' in soft lan', an' de men in rough lan'. Some of de women played off sick an' went home an' washed an' ironed an' got by wid it. De oberseer tried to make two of 'em go back to work. Dey flew at him an' whupped him. He told de marster when he come home, marster said, 'Did you 'low dem women to whup you?' 'Yes', he replied, den marster tole him if women could whup him he didn't want him. But he let him stay on. His name wus Jack Rivers. He wus hired by marster. Marster Rivers did not have any slaves. Dere wus no jail on de plantation, case when er overseer whupped er nigger he did not need any jail.
"De black folks better not be caught wid a book but one o' de chilluns at our plantation, Marster Peter Mitchell's sister had taught Aunt Isabella to read and write, an' durin' de war she would read, an' tell us how everythin' wus goin'. Tom Mitchell, a slave, sassed marster. Marster tole him he would not whup him, but he would sell him. Tom's brother, Henry, tol' him if he wus left he would run away, so marster sold both. He carried 'em to Richmond to sell 'em. He sold 'em on de auction block dere way down on Broad Street. When dey put Tom on de auction block dey found Tom had a broken leg and marster didn't git much fer him. He wanted to git enough fer these two grown settled men to buy two young men. Tom wus married. He wus sold from his wife and chilluns. Marster did not git enough fer 'em to pay for dese two young boys. He had to pay de difference in money. De boys were 'bout 21 or 22 years ole. When marster got back wid 'em de overseer tole him he had ruined his plantation. De boys soon become sick wid yeller fever an' both died. Dey strowed it 'round, an' many died. Marster shore made a mess o' things dat time.
"Dr. Ben Wilson, of Warren County wus Marster Mitchell's brother-in-law. He 'tended de sick folks an' he made many trips. Sometimes as soon as he got home dey sent fer him again.
"We played mumble-peg an' hop-scotch when I wus a child, we played jumpin' de rope a lot.
"I have never been married. I had only one brother. He has been dead six years. Since he died I have had a hard time makin' a livin'. Brother John lived wid me until he died. I had only one sister. She died many years ago. I think slavery wus mighty hard an' wrong. I joined de church 'cause I had religion an' de church would help me to keep it. People should be religious so dey will have a place in de beyond.
"Abraham Lincoln wus a good man. I have his picture. I think Mr. Roosevelt is a good God-fearin' man. When he gits sick I prays fer him. When he is sick I is jist as scared as I kin be. I prays fer him ter stay well."
[Footnote 4: The office of the State Board of Welfare is in the Agriculture Building.]
N.C. District: No. 2 Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 625 Subject: CHARITY McALLISTER Story teller: Charity McAllister Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt
CHARITY McALLISTER 602 South Street
"My name is Charity McAllister. I wus here a long time before de Yankees come here. I wus 'bout grown when dey come through. I ain't hardly able to cook my little sumptin' to eat now. I ain't able to work out. No sir, not able to work. Done and worked my time out. I wus a grown gal when de Yankees come. I wus 'bout 18 years old. I loves to give you de truth and I knows I wus dat old. I wus a grown gal.
"My father wus named Robert Blalock. He 'longed to de Blalocks o' Harnett County. My mother wus Annie McAllister. She 'longed to Jennett McAllister in Harnett County. I 'longed to John Greene at Lillington, Harnett County. My mother first 'longed to John Greene. She got in de family way by a white man, and John Greene sold her to a speculator named Bill Avery of Raleigh, a speculator. Dey sold my brother. He wus as white as you is. When de surrender come mother went back to Miss Jennett McAllister in Harnett County. Dat's how dey got back dere. I wants to tell de truth and dats what I is goin' to do.
"I tell you I wus whupped durin' slavery time. Dey whupped us wid horsehair whups. Dey put a stick under our legs an' tied our hands to de stick and we could not do nuthin' but turn and twist. Dey would sure work on your back end. Every time you turned dey would hit it. I been whupped dat way and scarred up. We slept on mattresses made o' tow sacks. Our clothes were poor. One-piece-dress made o' carpet stuff, part of de time. One pair o' shoes a year after Christmas. Dey give 'em to us on January first; no shoes till after Christmas. Dey did not give us any holidays Christmas in Harnett County. Dat wus 'ginst de rules. No prayer nor nuthin' on de plantation in our houses. Dey did not 'low us to go to de white folks church. Dey did not 'low de slaves to hunt, so we did not have any game. Dey did not 'low us any patches. No sirree, we did not have any money.
"De slaves slep' a lot on pallets durin' slavery days. A pallet wus a quilt or tow carpet spread on de floor. We used a cotton pillow sometimes. Dere wus about 50 slaves on de plantation. We had no overseer on master's plantation, and no books and schools o' any kind for niggers. I cannot read and write. No sir, I wish I could read and write.
"I split rails and worked in de Cape Fear River Low Grounds. We fenced de fields wid rails split from trees, pine trees. Dey were eleven feet long.
"Yes sir, I seed de patterollers. I seed a plenty of dem scoundrels. Oh! ho, de Ku Klux, Ha!, Ha! Dey were real scandals, and I jest caint tell you all de mean things dey done right after de war. Reubin Matthew's slave, George Matthews, killed two Ku Klux. Dey double teamed him and shot him, and he cut 'em wid de ax, and dey died.
"I wus married right after de war. De second year after de war, I married Richard Rogers, but I kep' de name o' McAllister right on. My husband been dead a good long time. Lawd, I don't know how long. I been married one time, and dat wus one time too much. I have two sons, one name Clarence, and one named John, two daughters, one in Newport News, one in Washington, D.C., one named Lovie, and one named Lula."
District No.: 3 Worker: Travis Jordan Subject: Clara Cotton McCoy Ex-slave 82 years Durham, N.C. RFD #7
CLARA COTTON MC-COY EX-SLAVE 82 YEARS
"Yes'm, I was bawn eighty-two years ago. My mammy died den an' my gran'mammy raised me. I sho do 'member when dat man Sherman an' his mens marched through Orange County, but, it didn' take no army of Yankees to ruin my white folks home, it took jus' one Yankee, but even dat didn' bow my Mistis' head.
"I ain't never seed nobody as proud as my Mis' 'Riah Cotton. She never bowed her head to trouble nor nobody; she never even bowed her head in chu'ch. When de preacher prayed she jus' folded her hands an' set up straight, facin' de Lawd wid no fear. No, suh, my Mistis ain't gwine bow her head no time. Young Mis' Laughter broke her mammy's heart, but she ain't make her bend her head.
"Mis' Laughter's sho nuff name was Mis' Clorena Cotton. She wasn' tall an' dark like Mis' 'Riah; she was little an' roun' an' pretty as a thorn flower, all pink an' gol'. She was jus' like a butterfly, never still a minute, skippin' here an' yonder, laughin' wid everybody. Dat's whare she got her name. Us niggers 'gun to call her Mis' Laughter kaze she was so happy. She was de only one dat could make Mis' 'Riah smile. She would run up to Mis' 'Riah an' ruffle her hair dat she done comb back so slick an' smooth, den she would stick a red rose behin' her ear, an' say: 'Now, pretty Mammy, you look like you did when Pappy come cou'tin'.' Marse Ned would lay down his paper an' look fus' at Mis' 'Riah den at Mis' Laughter, an' for a minute Mis' 'Riah would smile, den she would look firm an' say to Mis' Laughter, 'Don't you know dat rightousness an' virtue am more 'ceptable to de Lawd den beauty? You's worldly, Clorena, you's too worldly.'
"Mis' Laughter would throw back her head an' laugh, an' her eyes would shine bright as blue glass marbles. She tole Mis' 'Riah dat she 'specs dat when her man come he gwine see her face befo' he seed her rightousness, so she gwine wear roses an' curls den he would know her when he seed her. Den befo' Mis' 'Riah could speak her mind, Mis' Laughter done gone skippin' down de hall, her little feets in de gol' slippers twinklin' from de ruffles of her pantalets. Everybody on de place love dat chile an' de house wasn' never de same after she done gone away.
"My gran'mammy, Rowena, say dat Mis' 'Riah was bawn for trouble. She was bawn de las' day of March 'tween midnight an' day. De moon was on de wane, an' jus 'as Mistis was bawn de wind come down de chimbley an' blew de ashes out on de hearth. Gran'mammy say dat mean trouble an' death; dat new bawn baby ain't never gwine keep long de things she love de mos', an' she better never love nobody too well, if she do dey gwine be took away from her, an' trouble sho did follow Mis' 'Riah after she growed up.
"When de war come Marse Ned went off to fight. He was Marse General Cotton den. Dat didn't leave nobody at home 'cept Mis' 'Riah, her mammy, Mis' Roberta Davis, but we called her ole Mistis, den dare was Mis' Laughter an' young Marse Jerome. Young Marse wasn' but fifteen when de war started, but dey got him in de las' call an' he didn' never come back no more.
"De plantation was big, but Mis' 'Riah 'tended to things an' handled de niggers same as a man. De fus' year of de war she rode a hoss 'bout de fields like an overseer, seein' after de cotton an' cawn an' taters. But de Yankees come an' set fire to de cotton; dey took de cawn to dey camp for dey hosses, an' dey toted off de taters to eat. De nex year Mis' 'Riah didn' plant no cotton a tall kaze de seeds an' gin done been burned up, but she had de niggers plant cawn, taters an' a good garden. Dat fall de wind blew de hickory leaves to de no'th an' by spring trouble done come sho nuff. Dey was a drouth an' de cawn didn' come up; de garden burned to pa'chment, but de taters done all right. Wid all dat Mis' 'Riah held up her head an' kep' goin'. Den one day a buzzard flew over de house top an' his wings spread a shadow out on de roof. Dat night death come an' got Ole Mistis. She passed on to glory in her sleep. ''Twas de lawd's will,' Mis' 'Riah tole gran'mammy, an' she still held up her head. But Gran'mammy said dat if somebody had shot dat buzzard an' wiped his shadow off de roof Ole Mistis wouldn' have gone nowhare.
"De nex' spring dey wasn' much to plant. De Yankees done kep' totin' off everything, hosses an' all, 'twell dey wasn' much lef'. But de niggers, gran'mammy an' pappy along wid dem, dug up de garden wid de grubbin hoe an' planted what seeds dey had. Mis' 'Riah's an' Mis' Laughter's clothes 'gun to look ole, but gran'mammy kep' dem washed an' sta'ched stiff. 'Twas Mis' Laughter dat kep' us from frettin' too much. She would look at Mis' Riah an' say, 'We'll be all right, Mammy, when Marse Ned comes home.' Sometime she call her pappy Marse Ned jus' like dat. One day Marse Ned did come home. Dey brung him home. 'Twas 'bout sunset. I 'members kaze 'twas de same day dat my ole black hen hatched de duck eggs I done set her on, an' de apple trees wus bloomin'. De blooms look jus' like droves of pink butterflies flyin' on de sky. Dey brought Marse Ned in de house an' laid him out in de parlor. Mis' 'Riah stood straight 'side him wid her head up. 'Twas de Lawd's will, she tole Gran'mammy, but Gran'mammy shook her head an 'gun to cry, an' say: 'You can't put dat on de Lawd, Mis' 'Riah, you sho can't. 'Twasn' de Lawd's will a tall, 'twas de will of de cussed Yankees.' Den she turn 'roun' an' took Mis' Laughter's hand an' led her up stairs an' put her to bed.
"After dat things got worse. Dat wind dat blew trouble down de chimbley for Mis' 'Riah when she was bawn 'gun to blow harder. De war got young Marse Jerome an' shot him down. Dey won't much to eat, de coffee was made out of parched cawn an' de sweetnin' was cane lasses, an' de ham an' white bread done been gone a long time. Dey won't no eggs an' chickens, an' dey won't but one fresh cow, but nobody ain't never seed Mis' 'Riah bow her head nor shed a tear.
"When de surrender come dey was Yankees camped all 'roun' de plantation an' Hillsboro was full of dem. One day a Yankee mans come to de house. He was young. He come to see if Mis' 'Riah didn' want to sell her place. Mis' 'Riah stood in de door an' talked to him, she wouldn' let him come on de po'ch. She tole him she would starve befo' she would sell one foot of her lan' to a Yankee, an' dat he shouldn' darken de door of her house.
"'Bout dat time Mis' Laughter come down de hall an' stood behin' her mammy. Her hair curled 'bout her head yellow as a dandylion an' she had on a blue dress. When dat sojer seed her he stopped an' dey looked an' looked at each other 'twell Mis' 'Riah turned 'roun'. When she done dat Mis' Laughter turned an' run up de stairs.
"After dat Mis' 'Riah wouldn' let dat chile go no place by hersef. I was her bodyguard, everywhare she went I had to go too. We would go to walk down in de pine woods back of de paster, an' somehow dat Yankee would go to walk in dem woods too. Every time we seed him he would give me a piece of money, an' when I got back to de house I didn' tell nothin'. Den one day I heard dat sojer tell Mis' Laughter dat he was gwine away. Mis' Laughter 'gun to cry an' I didn' hear what else dey said kaze dey sent me down de path. But dat night Mis' Laughter put her clothes in her box an' made me tote it down to de paster an' hide it in de blackberry patch. Den she give me a note an' tole me to go to bed an' go to sleep, but when mornin' come to give de note to Mis' 'Riah.
"De nex' mornin' I give de note to Mis' 'Riah, but by den Mis' Laughter done gone off wid dat Yankee. Mis' 'Riah called all us niggers in de big room. She took down de family Bible from de stand an' marked out Mis' Laughter's name. 'I ain't got no daughter,' she say. ''Member, de chile dat I had am dead an' her name mustn' never be called in dis house no more.'
"We all went out 'cept Gran'mammy, but Mis' 'Riah wouldn' let her talk to her 'bout forgivin' Mis' Laughter, an' when de letters 'gun to come dey was sent back unopened.
"Mis' 'Riah's niece, Mis' Betty an' Marse John Davis, hur husban', come to live wid Mis' 'Riah to help her 'ten' to things, but nobody was 'lowed to call Mis' Laughter's name. Even though dey was free, gran'mammy an' pappy an' some more of us niggers stayed on at de plantation helpin' on de farm, but in 'bout a year Mis' 'Riah took sick. Mis' Betty wanted to sen' for Mis' Laughter, but Mis' 'Riah wouldn' even answer, but Mis' Betty sent for her anyhow an' kept her down stairs. Den one day de sun turned black an' de chickens went to roost in de day time. Gran'mammy flung her apron over her face an' 'gun to pray kase she knew de death angel was comin' after Mis' 'Riah. Mis' Betty got Mis' Laughter an' when she come up de stairs all us house niggers stood in de hall watchin' her go in to see Mis' 'Riah. She was layin' on de bed wid her eyes shut like she was sleep.
"Mis' Laughter went in an' kneel down by de bed. 'Mammy, Mammy,' she say soft jus' like dat.
"Mis' 'Riah's hands caught hold of de quilt tight, but she ain't opened her eyes. Gran'mammy went up an' laid her hand on her head, but she shook it off.
"De tears was runnin' down Mis' Laughter's cheeks. 'Mammy,' she say, 'I'se sorry—I loves you, Mammy.'
"Mis' 'Riah turned her face to de wall an' her back on Mis' Laughter. She ain't never opened her eyes. 'Bout dat time de sun come out from behin' dem black wings of shadow an' Mis' 'Riah's soul went on to glory to meet Marse Ned.
"Yes'm, Mis' 'Riah sho was proud, but Gran'mammy say 'twon' no war dat brung all dat trouble on her, she say 'twas de wind dat come down de chimbley de night she was bawn—de no'th wind dat blowed de ashes 'bout de hearth."
N.C. District: No. 2 Worker: Mary Hicks No. Words: 535 Subject: A GOOD MISTRESS Teller: Henrietta McCullers Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt
A GOOD MISTRESS
An interview with Henrietta McCullers, eighty-seven years old, of 531 E. Davie Street, Raleigh, North Carolina.
"I wus borned roun' eighty-seben years ago in Wake County. Me an' my mammy 'longed ter Mis' Betsy Adams an' my pappy 'longed ter Mr. Nat Jones. I think dat Marse Nat had a whole passel o' slaves, but Mis' Betsy ain't had more'n six or seben.
"Yo' ax me iffen Mis' Betsy was good ter us? She wus so good dat I loved her all her life an' now dat she's daid I loves her in her grave.
"We et de same rations what she et an' we slept in de same kind o' bed she slept in. I knows dat sometimes she'd have company an' she'd do a heap o' extra fixin'; but she ain't neber fix better fer de company dan fer us.
"She'd let us have a co'n shuckin' onct a year, an' of course, we had a heap of prayer meetin's an' a few socials. She ain't wanted her niggers ter dance case she am such a good Christian, but she let us have candy pullin's an' sich.
"When de wuck warn't pushin' she'd let us go fishin' an' swimmin' an' all, only we jist waded, case we ain't used enough ter de water. Yo' know dat niggers am natu'lly skeerd o' water anyhow.
"Iffen de wuck wus pushin' we wucked from sunup till dark an' Mis' Betsy wucked too. Man, she wus a wuckin' woman, an' she made us wuck too; but I loves her better dan I does my own chilluns now, an' dat's one reason dat I wants ter go ter heaben. All my life when I done a bad thing I think 'bout Mis' Betsy's teachin's an' I repents.
"I plowed an' dug ditches an' cleaned new groun'; an' hard wuck ain't neber hurted me yit. De master wus too puny to wuck, an' I often thinks dat maybe he married Mis' Betsy to look atter him. Dey only had one man, Uncle Mose, an' so, of course, he had to have some help ter ten' 'bout a hundert acres.
"Most of our lan' wus planted in feed stuff fer us an' de cattle. An' so we raised ever'thing but de coffee. Sometimes we drunk Japonica tea, an' done without de coffee.
"On Sunday's yo' should o' seen us in our Sunday bes' goin' ter church 'hind de missus coach, wid ole Uncle Mose high on de box. We can't read de hymns eben iffen we had a book 'cause we ain't 'lowed ter have no books, but we sung jist de same.
"At Christmas time we had a party at de big house. Mis' Betsy had sabed a bushel er so o' de lates' apples an' she made a big dish of lasses candy an' we popped pop corn an' wus happy. Mis' Betsy always give us some clothes an' we had a feas' all through de week of holidays.
"When de Yankees comed dey jist about cleaned us out. Dey kills pigs, turkeys, calves an' hens all over de place, dey gits de beserves an' a heap o' de lasses an' dey sass Mis' Betsy. All dis wus dem bad-mannered soldiers' fault, case Abraham Lincoln ain't mean't fer it ter be dis way, I know. I reckon dat most o' dem soldiers wus pore white trash. Dey doan keer 'bout de niggers, but dey ain't wanted our white folks ter be rich.
"De Yankees ain't stayed long in our neighborhood case dey am a-lookin' fer our soldiers, so dey goes away.
"Did I leave atter de war wus ober? Naw sir, I ain't, an' all de rest stayed on too. Uncle Mose stayed on too. Uncle Mose stayed de rest o' his life, but I left two years atterwards when I got married.
"My memory am gittin' so short dat I doan 'member my daddy's name, ner my brothers an' sisters names. I 'member dat my mammy wus named Piety do' an' I 'members my fust lesson from Mis' Betsy, 'Doan lie, an' doan steal, ax fer what you needs, needs, mind you, not what you wants.'"
"Niggers ort ter be back in slavery now, dey'd be better an' happier dan dey is. I ain't neber had a whuppin' in my life an' dat's more dan most of dese free niggers can say."
N.C. District: No. 2 Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 1050 Subject: WILLIE McCULLOUGH Person Interviewed: Willie McCullough Editor: G.L. Andrews
[TR: Date stamp: OCT 23 1937 (unclear)]
8 McKee Street, Raleigh, North Carolina. Age 68 years.
"I was born in Darlington County, South Carolina, the 14th of June 1869. My mother was named Rilla McCullough and my father was named Marion McCullough. I remember them very well and many things they told me that happened during the Civil War. They belonged to a slave owner named Billy Cannon who owned a large plantation near Marion, South Carolina. The number of slaves on the plantation from what they told me was about fifty. Slaves were quartered in small houses built of logs. They had plenty of rough food and clothing. They were looked after very well in regard to their health, because the success of the master depended on the health of his slaves. A man can't work a sick horse or mule. A slave occupied the same place on the plantation as a mule or horse did, that is a male slave. Some of the slave women were looked upon by the slave owners as a stock raiser looks upon his brood sows, that is from the standpoint of production. If a slave woman had children fast she was considered very valuable because slaves were valuable property.
"There was classes of slavery. Some of the half-white and beautiful young women who were used by the marster and his men friends or who was the sweetheart of the marster only, were given special privileges. Some of 'em worked very little. They had private quarters well fixed up and had a great influence over the marster. Some of these slave girls broke up families by getting the marster so enmeshed in their net that his wife, perhaps an older woman, was greatly neglected. Mother and grandmother tole me that they were not allowed to pick their husbands.
"Mother tole me that when she became a woman at the age of sixteen years her marster went to a slave owner near by and got a six-foot nigger man, almost an entire stranger to her, and told her she must marry him. Her marster read a paper to them, told them they were man and wife and told this negro he could take her to a certain cabin and go to bed. This was done without getting her consent or even asking her about it. Grandmother said that several different men were put to her just about the same as if she had been a cow or sow. The slave owners treated them as if they had been common animals in this respect.
"Mother said she loved my father before the surrender and just as soon as they were free they married. Grandmother was named Luna Williams. She belonged to a planter who owned a large plantation and forty slaves adjoining Mr. Cannon's plantation where mother and father stayed. My grandmother on my mother's side lived to be 114 years old, so they have tole me.
"I ran away from home at the age of twelve years and went to Charleston, South Carolina. I worked with a family there as waitin' boy for one year. I then went to Savannah, Ga. I had no particular job and I hoboed everywhere I went. I would wait all day by the side of the railroad to catch a train at night. I rode freight trains and passenger trains. I rode the blind baggage on passenger trains and the rods on freight trains. The blind baggage is the car between the mail car and the engine. The doors are on the side and none at the end. I hoboed on to Miami over the Florida East Coast Railroad. I next went from Miami to Memphis, Tenn. after staying there a few days and working with a contractor, I again visited Charleston, S.C. I had been there only two days when I met some Yankees from Minnesota. They prevailed on me to go home with them, promising if I would do so they would teach me a trade. I went with them. We all hoboed. We were halted at the Blue Ridge mountains but we got by without going to jail. We then went to N.J. From N.J. to Chicago, Ill., then into Milwaukee, Wis., then on into Minneapolis, Minn. Many towns and cities I visited on this trip, I did not know where I was. My Yankee companions looked out for me. They taught me the trade of making chairs and other rustic furniture. They taught me 164 ways of making different pieces of furniture. I spent 11 years in Minnesota but during that time I visited the South once every three years, spending several days in the county of my birth. Mother and father farmed all their lives and they often begged me to settle down but the wanderlust had me and for 30 years I travelled from place to place. Even while in Minnesota I did not stay in Minneapolis all the time. I visited most every town in the state during the eleven years I stayed there and made hobo trips into most of the adjoining states.
"The main Yankee who taught me the trade was Joe Burton. He and the gang helped me to get food until I learned the trade well enough so I could make a living working at it.
"I have made a lot of money making and selling rustic furniture, but now I am getting old. I am not able to work as I used too. Not long ago I made a trip from Raleigh to Charleston, S.C., but the trip was different from the old days. I hitch-hiked the entire distance. I rode with white folks. On one leg of the trip of over 200 miles I rode with a rich young man and his two pals. They had a fruit jar full of bad whiskey. He got about drunk, ran into a stretch of bad road at a high rate of speed, threw me against the top of his car and injured my head. I am not over it yet.
"I quit the road in 1924. My last trip was from Raleigh, N.C. to Harrisburg, Penn. and return. I have made my home in Raleigh ever since. Done settled down, too ole to ramble anymore."
N.C. District: No. 2 Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 1,477 Subject: JAMES TURNER McLEAN Storyteller: James Turner McLean Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt
JAMES TURNER McLEAN Lillington, N.C. Route 1
"My name is James Turner McLean. I was born in Harnett County near Cape Fear River in the Buies Creek Section, Feb. 20, 1858. I belonged to Taylor Hugh McLean, and he never was married. The plantation was between Buies Creek and the Cape Fear river; the edge of it is about 75 yards from where I now live. The place where I live belongs to me. 'Way back it belonged to the Bolden's.
"The Boldens came from Scotland, and so did the McLeans. There were about five hundred acres in this plantation and Marster Hugh McLean had about fifty slaves. The slaves lived in quarters and Marster lived in the big house which was his home. Marster took good care o' his darkies. He did not allow anybody to whip 'em either. We had good food, clothes and places to sleep. My father was Jim McLean and my mother was named Charlotta McLean. My grandmother was named Jane. I called my mother 'Sissie' and called my grandmother 'mammy' in slavery time. They did not have me to do any heavy work just tending to the calves, colts, and goin' to the post office.
"The post office was at Mr. Sexton's and we called it Sexton's post office, on the Raleigh and Fayetteville Road. The stage run on this road and brought mail to this place. This post in my yard is part of a stage coach axle. You see it? Yes sir, that's what it is. I got it at Fayetteville when they were selling the old stage coach. We bought the axle and wheels and made a cart. We got that stuff about 1870; my father bought it. He gave twelve dollars for jes' the wheels and axle. This was after we had taken the iron clad oath and become more civilized.
"We were daresome to be caught with a paper book or anything if we were tryin' to learn to read and write. We had to have a pass to go around on, or the patterollers would work on us. I saw a lot of patterollers. Marster gave his Negroes a pass for twelve months. He sent his timber to Wilmington, and worked timber at other places so he gave his slaves yearly passes. Then when the war was about up me and him went to the post office, and he got the paper. All the niggers were free. We stopped on the way home at a large sassafras tree by the side o' the road where he always stopped to read, and he read, and told me I was free.
"I did not know what it was or what it meant. We came on to the house where my mother was and I said, 'Sissie, we is free.' She said, 'Hush, or I will put the hickory on you.' I then went to grandma, the one I called mammy and threw my arms around her neck and said, 'Mammy we are free, what does it mean?' and mammy, who was grandma, said, 'You hush sich talk, or I will knock you down wid a loom stick.'
"Marster was comin' then, and he had the paper in his hand and was cryin'. He came to the door and called grandma and said, 'You are free, free as I am, but I want you to stay on. If you go off you will perish. If you stay on now the crop is planted and work it, we will divide.' Marster was cryin' and said, 'I do not own you any longer.' He told her to get the horn and blow it. It was a ram's horn. She blew twice for the hands to come to the house.
"They were workin' in the river lowground about a mile or more away. She blew a long blow, then another. Marster told her to keep blowin! After awhile all the slaves come home; she had called them all in. Marster met them at the gate, and told them to put all the mules up, all the hoes and plows, that they were all free. He invited all to eat dinner. He had five women cooking. He told them all he did not want them to leave, but if they were going they must eat before they left. He said he wanted everybody to eat all he wanted, and I remember the ham, eggs, chicken, and other good things we had at that dinner. Then after the dinner he spoke to all of us and said, 'You have nowhere to go, nothin' to live on, but go out on my other plantation and build you some shacks.'
"He gave them homes and did not charge any rent. He bought nails and lumber for them, but he would not build the houses. Some stayed with him for fifteen years; some left. He gave them cows to milk. He said the children must not perish.
"Marster was a mighty good man, a feelin' man. He cried when some of his slaves finally left him. Mother and father stayed till they got a place of their own. I waited on him as long as he lived. I loved him as well as I did my daddy. I drove for him and he kept me in his house with him. He taught me to be honest, to tell the truth, and not to steal anything.
"When freedom came marster gave us a place for a school building and furnished nails and gave the lumber for the floors. He instructed them in building the windows. He was goin' to put his sister Jenette McAllister in as teacher. She had married Jim McAllister at the Bluff Church, right at the lower part of the Averysboro Battleground where some of the last fightin' between the North and South was done, but a man by the name of George Miller of Harnett County told him he knew a nigger who could teach the school. He employed the nigger, whose name was Isaac Brantley, to teach the school. He came from Anderson's Creek in the lower part of Harnett County. We learned very little, as the nigger read, and let us repeat it after him. He would hold the book, and spell and let us repeat the words after him without lettin' us see in the book. He stayed there two months, then a man by the name of Matthews, Haywood Matthews, son of Henderson Matthews came. They were white folks, but went for negroes. Haywood teached there. He got the children started and most of 'em learned to read and write.
"I saw the Yankees come through. Also Wheeler's Cavalry. The Yankees took chickens and things, and they gave us some things, but Wheeler's Cavalry gave us nothin'. They took what they wanted and went on. Marster hid his horses and things in the Pecosin.
"When the Yankees came Marster was hid. They rode up to my mother and asked her where he was. She said, 'I do not know.' They then asked her where was de silver, his money, an' de brandy, an' wine. They got one demijohn full o' brandy. They went into the house, tore up things got his china pipe, fixed for four people to smoke at one time. You could turn a piece and shett off all de holes but one, when one man wanted to smoke. They threw away his old beaver hat, but before they left they got it and left it in the house. Wheeler's Cavalry stomped things and broke up more den de Yankees.
"Daddy hid marster's money, a lot of it, in the jam o' de fence. He covered it with sand that he threw out of a ditch that ran along near the fence. The Yankees stopped and sat on the sand to eat their dinner and never found the money.
"I have never seen a slave sold, and none never ran away from marster's plantation. When any of his men went to visit their wives he let them ride the stock, and give them rations to carry. There was a jail for slaves at Summerville. I saw it.
"We went to the white folks church at Neill's Creek. Mother used herbs to give us when we were sick. Dr. Turner, Dr. John Turner, looked after us. We were bled every year in the spring and in the fall. He had a little lance. He corded your arm and popped it in, and the blood would fly. He took nearly a quart of blood from grandma. He bled according to size and age.
"We ought to think a lot o' Abraham Lincoln and the other great men such as Booker T. Washington. Lincoln set us free. Slavery was a bad thing and unjust."
N.C. District: No. 2 Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 857 Subject: FRANK MAGWOOD Person Interviewed: Frank Magwood Editor: G.L. Andrews
"I was born in Fairfield County, South Carolina, near the town of Ridgeway. Ridgeway was on the Southern Railroad from Charlotte, N.C. to Columbia, South Carolina. I was born Oct. 10, 1864. I belonged to Nora Rines whose wife was named Emma. He had four girls Frances, Ann, Cynthia, and Emma and one son named George. There was about one thousand acres of land inside the fences with about two hundred acres cleared. There were about seventy slaves on the place. My mother and father told me these things. Father belonged to a man by the name of John Gosey and mother belonged to ole man Rines. My father was named Lisbon Magwood and my mother was named Margaret Magwood. They were sold and resold on the slave auction block at Charleston, South Carolina, but the families to whom they belonged did not change their names until mother's name was changed when she married father in 1862.
"There were twelve children in the family, three boys and nine girls. Only two boys of this family are living, Walter and myself.
"Mother and father said at the beginning of the war that the white folks said it would not last long and that in the first years of the war they said one southern soldier could whup three Yankee soldiers, but after awhile they quit their braggin. Most everything to eat and wear got scarce. Sometimes you couldn't git salt to go in the vegetables and meat that was cooked. People dug up the salty earth under their smoke houses, put water with it, drained it off and used it to salt rations.
"There came stories that the Yankees had taken this place and that they were marching through Georgia into South Carolina. They burned Columbia, the Capitol of South Carolina, and had both whites and black scared, they were so rough. The Yankees stole, burned, and plundered. Mother said they hated South Carolina cause they started the war there. They burned a lot of the farm houses. The army, so my father and mother said, was stretched out over a distance of sixty-two miles. Jest think of a scope of country sixty two miles wide with most of the buildings burned, the stock killed, and nothing to eat. The southern army and the northern army had marched back and forth through the territory until there was nothing much left. Where Sherman's army stopped and ate and fed their horses the Negroes went and picked up the grains of corn they strowed there and parched and ate them. People also parched and ate acorns in South Carolina.
"Father and mother got together after the war and they moved to a widow lady's place by the name of Ann Hunter, near Ridgeway. She was good to us and we stayed there sixteen years. Ann Hunter had three sons, Abraham, George and Henry. Abraham went to South America on a rambling trip. He decided to stay there. He was a young man then and he married a Spaniard. When he came home to see his mother it was the year of the earthquake in 1886. He was a grown man then and he brought his wife and children with him. He had three children, all of them spoke Spanish and could not understand their grandmother's talk to them. His wife was a beautiful woman, dark with black hair and blue eyes. She just worshipped her husband. They stayed over a month and then returned to South America. I have never seen 'em since or had any straight news of them.
"Mother and father lived on the farm until they died, with first one ex-slave owner and another. They said they had nothing when the war ended and that there was nothing to do.
"I stayed with my mother and father near Ridgeway until I was 21 years of age. I left the farm then and went to work on the railroad. I thought I was the only man then. I was so strong. I worked on the railroad one year then I went to the Stone mountain Rock Quarry in Georgia.
"I got my hand injured with a dynamite cap after I had worked there a year and I came home again. I went back to working on the farm as a day hand. I worked this way for one year then I began share croppin'.
"I farmed ever since I came to Wake County 15 years ago. I farmed on Mr. Simpkins place one year then Mr. Dillon bought the place and I stayed there nine more years then I became so near blind I could not farm. I came to Raleigh to this house four years ago. I have been totally blind since the fifteenth of last December.
"I married Alice Praylor near Ridgeway when I was 23 years of age. We had nine children.
"My last marriage was to Mamie Williams. I married her in South Carolina. We had four children. They are all living, grown and married off. My chief worry over being blind is the fact that it makes me unable to farm anymore."
N.C. District: No. 2 Worker: T. Pat Matthews No. Words: 1120 Subject: JACOB MANSON Person Interviewed: Jacob Manson Editor: G.L. Andrews
317 N. Haywood St. Raleigh, N.C. 86 years of age.
"It has been a long time since I wus born—bout all my people am dead 'cept my wife an one son an two daughters. De son an' one daughter live in N.C. an de other daughter lives in Richmond, Va.
"I belonged to Col. Bun Eden. His plantation wus in Warren County an' he owned 'bout fifty slaves or more. Dere wus so many of 'em dere he did not know all his own slaves. We got mighty bad treatment an' I jest wants to tell you a nigger didn't stan' as much show dere as a dog did. Dey whupped fur mos' any little trifle. Dey whupped me, so dey said, jes to help me git a quicker gait. De patterollers come sneakin' round often an' whupped niggers on marster's place. Dey nearly killed my uncle. Dey broke his collar bone when dey wus beatin him an marster made 'em pay for it 'cause uncle never did git over it.
"Marster would not have any white overseers. He had nigger foremen. Ha! ha! he liked some of de nigger 'omans too good to have any udder white man playin' aroun' 'em.
"We wurked all day an some of de night an' a slave who made a week, even atter doin dat, wus lucky if he got off widout gettin' a beatin. We had poor food an' de young slaves wus fed outen troughs. De food wus put in a trough an de little niggers gathered round an' et. Our cabins wus built of poles an had stick an dirt chimleys one door an one little winder at de back end of de cabin. Some of de houses had dirt floors. Our clothin' was poor an homemade.
"Many of de slaves went bareheaded an barefooted. Some wore rags roun dere heads an some wore bonnets. Marster lived in de great house. He did not do any work but drank a lot of whiskey, went dressed up all de time an had niggers to wash his feet an comb his hair. He made me scratch his head when he lay down so he could go to sleep. When he got to sleep I would slip out. If he waked up when I started to leave I would have to go back an' scratch his head till he went to sleep agin. Sometimes I had to fan de flies way from him while he slept. No prayer-meetings wus allowed, but we sometimes went to de white folks church. Dey tole us to obey our marsters an be obedient at all times. When bad storms come dey let us rest but dey kept us in de fields so long sometimes dat de storm caught us 'fore we could git to de cabins. Niggers watched de wedder in slavery time an de ole ones wus good at prophesyin' de wedder.
"Marster had no chilluns by white women. He had his sweethearts 'mong his slave women. I ain't no man for tellin false stories. I tells de truth an dat is de truth. At dat time it wus a hard job to find a marster dat didn't have women 'mong his slaves. Dat wus a ginerel thing 'mong de slave owners.
"One of de slave girls on a plantation near us went to her missus an tole her 'bout her marster forcing her to let him have sumthin to do wid her an her missus tole her, 'Well go on you belong to him.'
"Another marster named Jimmie Shaw owned a purty slave gal nearly white an he kept her. His wife caught 'im in a cabin in bed wid her. His wife said sumthin to him 'bout it an' he cussed his wife. She tole him she had caught him in de act. She went back to de great house an got a gun. When de marster come in de great house she tole 'im he must let de slave girls alone dat he belonged to her. He cussed her agin an sed she would have to tend to her own dam business an' he would tend to his. Dey had a big fuss an den marster Shaw started towards her. She grabbed de gun an let him have it. She shot 'im dead in de hall. Dey had three chillun, two sons an one married daughter. Missus Shaw took her two sons an' left. De married daughter an her husband took charge of de place. Missus an her sons never come back as I knows of.