Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves
by Works Projects Administration
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[Transcriber's Note:

This text is mainly written in dialect. As such, the majority of the spelling, grammar, and punctuation irregularities have been preserved, with the exception of a number of typographical errors. A full list of them can be found at the end of the text.]


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


Illustrated with Photographs





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


Raines, Mary 1 Range, Frank 3 Rawls, Sam 5, 7 Renwick, Ellen 9 Rice, Anne 10 Rice, Jessie 12 Rice, Phillip 17 Richardson, Martha 19 Riley, Mamie 23 Riser, Susie 25 Roberts, Isom 26 Robertson, Alexander 31 Robinson, Charlie 35 Rosboro, Al 38 Rosboro, Tom 42 Rosborough, Reuben 45 Rose, William 48 Russell, Benjamin 51 Rutherford, Joe 55 Rutherford, Lila 57 Rutledge, Sabe 59, 65 Ryan, Henry 71, 74

Satterwhite, Emoline 75 Scaife, Alexander 76 Scantling, Eliza 78 Scott, Mary 81 Scott, Nina 88 Scurry, Morgan 89 Simmons, Ransom 91 Sligh, Alfred 92 Smith, Dan 95 Smith, Hector 100, 105 Smith, Jane 110 Smith, Mary 112 Smith, Prince 116 Smith, Silas 119 Sparrow, Jessie 121, 125, 130, 136, 141 Starke, Rosa 147 Stewart, Josephine 151 Suber, Bettie 155 Swindler, Ellen 156

Taylor, Mack 157 Thompson, Delia 160 Toatley, Robert 163

Veals, Mary 167, 169

Walker, Manda 170 Walker, Med 174 Waring, Daniel 181 Washington, Nancy 184 Watson, Charley 188 White, Dave 191, 194 White, Tena 196 Williams, Bill 199 Williams, Jesse 202 Williams, Mary 206 Williams, Willis 208 Wilson, Emoline 213, 215 Wilson, Jane 216 Woodberry, Genia 218 Woodberry, Julia 227, 232, 237, 242 Woods, George 247 Woodward, Aleck 253 Woodward, Mary 257 Worth, Pauline 260 Wright, Daphney 266

Young, Bill 270 Young, Bob 273

Project #1655 W.W. Dixon Winnsboro, S.C.



Mary Raines is the oldest living person, white or black, in Fairfield County. If she survives until next December, she will have attained her century of years. She lives with her widowed daughter, Fannie McCollough, fifty-seven years old, and a son, Joe Raines, aged 76 years. They rent a two-room frame house, on lands of Mrs. Sallie Wylie, Chester County, S.C. Joe, the son, is a day laborer on nearby farms. Fannie cooks for Mrs. W.T. Raines. Old Mother Mary has been receiving a county pension of $5.00 per month for several years.

"How old would Marse William Woodward be if he hadn't died befo' I gwine to die? A hundred and twenty, you say? Well, dat's 'bout de way I figured my age. Him was a nephew of Marse Ed, de fust Marse Ed P. Mobley. Him say dat when him 'come twenty-one, old marster give him a birthday dinner and 'vite folks to it. Marse Riley McMaster, from Winnsboro, S.C., was dere a flyin' 'round my young mistress, Miss Harriett. Marse Riley was a young doctor, ridin' 'round wid saddlebags. While they was all settin' down to dinner, de young doctor have to git up in a hurry to go see my mammy. Left his plate piled up wid turkey, nice dressin', rice and gravy, candy 'tatoes, and apple marmalade and cake. De wine 'canter was a settin' on de 'hogany sideboard. All dis him leave to go see mammy, who was a squallin' lak a passle of patarollers (patrollers) was a layin' de lash on her. When de young doctor go and come back, him say as how my mammy done got all right and her have a gal baby. Then him say dat Marse Ed, his uncle, took him to de quarter where mammy was, look me all over and say: 'Ain't her a good one? Must weigh ten pounds. I's gwine to name dis baby for your mama, William. Tell her I name her, Mary, for her, but I 'spects some folks'll call her 'Polly', just lak they call your mama, 'Polly'.

"I was a strong gal, went to de field when I's twelve years old, hoe my acre of cotton, 'long wid de grown ones, and pick my 150 pounds of cotton. As I wasn't scared of de cows, they set me to milkin' and churnin'. Bless God! Dat took me out of de field. House servants 'bove de field servants, them days. If you didn't git better rations and things to eat in de house, it was your own fault, I tells you! You just have to help de chillun to take things and while you doin' dat for them, you take things for yourself. I never call it stealin'. I just call it takin' de jams, de jellies, de biscuits, de butter and de 'lasses dat I have to reach up and steal for them chillun to hide 'way in deir little stomaches, and me, in my big belly.

"When Joe drive de young doctor, Marse Riley, out to see Mass Harriett, while Marse Riley doin' his courtin' in de parlor, Joe was doin' his courtin' in de kitchen. Joe was as smart as de nex' one. Us made faster time than them in de parlor; us beat them to de marriage. Marse Riley call it de altar, but Joe always laugh and say it was de halter. Many is de time I have been home wid them sixteen chillun, when him was a gallavantin' 'round, and I wished I had a got a real halter on dat husband of mine.

"I b'longs to de Gladden's Grove African Methodist 'Piscopal Church. Too old to shout but de great day is comin', when I'll shout and sing to de music of dat harp of 10,000 strings up yonder. Oh! Won't dat be a joyful day, when dese old ailin' bones gonna rise again." (Then the old darkey became suffused in tears, lapsed into a silence and apathy, from which she couldn't be aroused. Finally she slumbered and snored. It would have been unkind to question her further.)

Project 935 Hattie Mobley Richland County



At the age of one hundred and three, Frank Range is a familiar figure on the streets of Greenville, talking freely of pre-Civil and Civil War days, and the part he played in the war.

Frank, the oldest of nine children, was born of slave parents, Lenard and Elizabeth Herbert, on the plantation of Mr. Jim Boler, Newberry, South Carolina. He was sold several times, and is known by the name of one of his owners, John Range.

During the Civil War his master, Mr. Jim Herbert, carried him to the war as a cook, and when necessary, he was pressed into service, throwing up breast-works; and while he was engaged in this work, at Richmond Va. a terrific bombardment of their lines was made, and a part of their breast-works was crushed in, and his master buried beneath it. Frantic with fear for the safety of his master, Frank began to move the dirt away; finally he was able to drag him to safety. Though shot and shell were falling all around him, he came out unscathed.

Frank Range returned to Newberry at the close of the war, after which he moved to Greenville County in 1901, and into the city in 1935. He is never happier than when, in the center of a group of willing hearers, he is reciting in a sing-song tone the different periods of his life.

He attributes his longevity to the fact that he has never tasted whiskey, never chewed tobacco; never had a fight; toothache and headache are unknown to him; the service of a physician has never been needed; he does not know one playing card from another. He can walk five or more miles with seeming ease; is jovial and humorous.

He receives a state pension of twenty five dollars annually. His place of residence is 101 Hudson St. Greenville, S.C.


Mr. Guy A. Gullick, Probate Judge, Greenville County.

Frank Range (information given concerning himself) 101 Hudson St. Greenville S.C.

Project 1885-1 FOLKLORE Spartanburg Dist. 4 June 15, 1937

Edited by: Elmer Turnage


"I was born in 1835 in Lexington County, S.C. I know I was 12 years old de last year of de war. I belonged to John Hiller in Lexington County, near Columbia, S.C. Old Marse Hiller was strict to his slaves, wasn't mean, but often whipped 'em. I thought it was all right then. When de Yankees come through burning, killing and stealing stock, I was in marse's yard. Dey come up whar de boss was standing, told him dere was going to be a battle, grabbed him and hit him. Dey burned his house, stole de stock, and one Yankee stuck his sword to my breast and said fer me to come wid him or he would kill me. O' course I went along. Dey took me as fer as Broad River, on t'other side o' Chapin; then turned me loose and told me to run fast or they would shoot me. I went fast and found my way back home by watching de sun. Dey told me to not go back to dat old man.

"De slaves never learnt to read and write. If any o' dem was caught trying to learn to read or write, dey was whipped bad. I kotched on to what de white chilluns said, and learnt by myself to say de alphabet.

"We went to de white churches atter de war, and set in de gallery. Den de niggers set up a 'brush harbor' church fer demselves. We went to school at de church, and atter school was out in de atternoon, we had preaching.

"Befo' freedom come, de patrollers was strong dere, and whipped any niggers dey kotched out without a pass; wouldn't let dem go to church without a pass.

"Lots of hunting round dere, dey hunted rabbits, squirrels, foxes and 'possums. Dey fished like dey do now.

"De white folks had old brick ovens away from de house, and wide fireplaces in de kitchens. Dey cooked many things on Saturdays, to last several days. Saturday afternoons, we had off to catch up on washing and other things we wanted to do.

"I 'member de Ku Klux and de Red Shirts, but don't 'member anything dey did dere.

"We had corn-shuckings and cotton pickings, when de white people would have everybody to come and help. Us niggers would help. Dey had big suppers afterwards.

"We had plenty to eat from de garden of de boss, a big garden dat furnished all de slaves. Den de boss killed hogs and had other things to eat. Most o' de things raised in de garden, was potatoes, turnips, collards and peas.

"Some of us had witches. One old woman was a witch, and she rode me one night. I couldn't get up one night, had a ketching of my breath and couldn't rise up. She held me down. In dem days, was lots o' fevers with de folks. Dey cured 'em and other sickness wid teas from root herbs and barks.

"Abraham Lincoln was a good man. He said you folks ought to let dem niggers loose and let dem go to work. He come wid his two men, Grant and Sherman, and captured de slave bosses. Jeff Davis was one o' de forerunners of de war. Don't know much about him. Booker T. Washington is a good man. Think he is in office fer a good purpose. I been married four times, Was young man when I married first time. Gussie Gallman, my last wife, is living wid me."

Source: Sam Rawls (84), Newberry, S.C. Interviewer: G.L. Summer, Newberry, S.C. (6/9/37)

Project 1885-1 Folklore Spartanburg, Dist. 4 Oct. 13, 1937

Edited by: Elmer Turnage


"I live wid my fourth wife and she is much younger dan me. I am unable to work and have to stay in bed lots of de time. My wife works at odd jobs, like washing, ironing and cooking. We rent a two-room house from Miss Ann Ruff.

"I belonged to John Hiller. He was a good master but he worked his slaves hard. Dat was in Lexington County.

"I heard dat Gen. Grant said de slaves ought to get 40 acres of land and a mule so dey could go to work; but dey never got any dat I knows of. Atter Freedom dey worked as wage earners and share-croppers. Some went to other farms to get jobs. Dat's about what dey do now, but some of dem saved a little money and bought farms and some started little businesses of deir own.

"De Ku Klux didn't have much influence wid de slaves or ex-slaves. As soon as de war broke, dey went riding up and down de public roads to catch and beat niggers. My brother run off when dey got atter him. He went to Orangeburg County and stayed down dere.

"I voted twice den, once at Prosperity and again at Newberry. I was a Republican, of course. Some of de Niggers of dis state was elected to office, but dey was not my kinfolks nor special friends. I think niggers ought to vote so dey could vote fer good white folks; and dey ought to run fer office if dey could be elected by good white folks.

"I was sixteen years old when de Yankees come through dis country. Dey caught me in de road and made me go wid dem to Broad River where dey camped one night. Den dey turned me loose and told me to git. I run as fast as I could. I followed de setting sun, de road running towards de sun all de time, and got home about night.

"Since freedom is come de niggers have worked mostly on farms as share-croppers; some as renters wid deir own crops to raise.

"De present generation of niggers ain't got much sense. Dey work when dey want to, and have deir own way about it. De old niggers was learned to work when dey was little.

"I don't know nothing about de Nat Turner Rebellion. I never know'd but one old nigger dat come from Virginia, old Ellen Abner. She lived below Prosperity fer a long time, in de Stoney Hills.

"Yes sir, I tries to live right and git along wid everybody."

Source: Sam Rawls (80), Newberry, S.C. Interviewer: G.L. Summer, Newberry, S.C. 8/23/37.

Project 1885 -1- Spartanburg, S.C. District #4 May 31, 1937

Edited by: Martha Ritter


"I was born on Capt. John P. Kinard's place. My mammy and pa was Lucy and Eph Kinard who belonged to Marse Kinard. Marse Kinard was good to his slaves—didn't whip them much. He whipped me a little. When I was a little girl I slept in the big house in the room with my mistress and her husband, and waited on them. I worked when I got old enough, in the field, and anywhere around. When I wouldn't work good, my mammy whipped me most.

"I 'member the folks cooked in skillets over an old fireplace.

"After the war was over and freedom come we stayed on with Capt. Kinard, 'till I married and then went over to Dock Renwick's place where my husband worked. I married Tom Renwick. We went to the church of the colored folks after the war, and had preachings in mornings and evenings and at night, too. We didn't have no nigger schools, and we didn't learn to read and write.

"The white folks had corn-shuckings, cotton pickings at night, when the mistress would fix a big dinner for all working."

SOURCE: Ellen Renwick (79), RFD, Newberry, S.C. Interviewer: Mr. G. Leland Summer, 1707 Lindsey St., Newberry, S.C.

Project 1885 -1- District #4 Spartanburg, S.C. June 7, 1937


"I was born in Spartanburg County, S.C., near Glenn Springs. I can't 'member slavery or de war, but my ma and pa who was Green Foster and his wife, Mary Posey Foster, always said I was a big gal when the war stopped, when freedom come.

"We belonged to Seth Posey who had a big farm there. He was a good man, but sure made us work. I worked in the fields when I was small, hoed and picked cotton, hoed corn. They didn't give us no money for it. All we got was a place to sleep and a little to eat. The big man had a good garden and give us something from it. He raised loads of hogs, to eat and to sell. He sold lots of them. The young fellows hunted rabbits, possums, squirrels, wild turkeys, partridges, doves, and went fishing. The Master's wife, Miss Nancy, was good to us. She had one son, William.

"Yes, I 'member my ma telling us 'bout the padder-rollers. They would ride around, whipping niggers.

"My ma said her step-mother sold her. Sometimes they would take crowds of slaves to Mississippi, taking away mothers from their infant babies, leaving the babies on the floor.

"We always shuck corn and shell it at night, on moon-light nights we pick cotton. On Saturday afternoons we had frolics, sometimes frolics 'till Sunday daylight, then sleep all day Sunday.

"When we got sick all the medicine we took was turpentine—dat would cure almost any ailment. Some of the niggers used Sampson snake weed or peach leaves boiled and tea drunk.

"I joined the church when I was 12 years old 'cause the other girls joined. I think everybody ought to join a church to get their souls right for heaven:

"I married Charley Rice in Spartanburg County, at a colored man's house, named Henry Fox, by a colored preacher named 'Big Eye' Bill Rice. I had four children, and have five grand-children. I have been living in Newberry about 35 years or more. I worked as a wash-woman many years.

"When freedom come, my folks stayed on with Capt. Posey, and I washed and ironed with them later when I was big enough. I done some cooking, too. I could card and spin and make homespun dresses. My ma learned me.

"I don't know much about Abraham Lincoln and Jeff Davis but reckon dey was good men. I never learned to read and write. Booker Washington, I reckon, is a good man."

SOURCE: Anne Rice (75), Newberry, S.C. Interviewer: G. Leland Summer, 1707 Lindsey St., Newberry, S.C.

Project 1885-1 Folklore Spartanburg, Dist. 4 Jan. 17, 1937

Edited by: Elmer Turnage


"My people tells me a lot about when I was a lil' wee boy. I has a clear mind and I allus has had one. My folks did not talk up people's age like folks do dese days. Every place dat I be now, 'specially round dese government folks, first thing dat dey wants to know is your name. Well, dat is quite natu'al, but de very next question is how old you is. I don't know, why it is, but dey sho do dat. As my folks never talked age, it never worried me till jes' here of late. So dey says to me dat last week I give one age to de man, and now I gives another. Soon I see'd dat and I had to rest my mind on dat as well as de mind of de government folks. So I settled it at 80 years old. Dat gives me respect from everybody dat I sees. Den it is de truth, too, kaise I come along wid everybody dat is done gone and died now. De few white folks what I was contemperment (contemporary) wid, 'lows dat I is 80 and dey is dat, too.

"You know dat I does 'member when dat Sherman man went through here wid dem awful mens he had. Dey 'lowed dat dey was gwine to Charlotte to git back to Columbia. I never is heard of sech befo' or since. We lived at old man Jerry Moss's in Yorkville, way back den. Yes sir, everyone said Yorkville, den, but dey ain't never called Gaffney like dat. Stories goes round 'bout Sherman shooting folks. Some say dat he shot a big rock off'n de State House in Columbia. My Ma and my Pa, Henry and Charity Rice, hid me wid dem when Sherman come along. Us never see'd him, Lawd God no, us never wanted to see him.

"Folks allus crying hard times dese days, ain't no hard times now like it was atter Sherman went through Yorkville. My ma and pa give me ash cake and 'simmon beer to eat for days atter dat. White folks never had no mo', not till a new crop was grow'd. Dat year de seasons was good and gardens done well. Till den us nearly starved and we never had no easy time gitting garden seed to plant, neither.

"Yes sir, if I's handy to locust I makes locust beer; den if I's handy to 'simmons, why den I makes 'simmon beer. Now it's jes' for to pass de time dat us does dat. But gwine back to de war; den it was for necessity. Dese young'uns now don't know what hard times is. Dey all has bread and meat and coffee, no matter how poor dey is. If dey had to live for days and weeks on ash cake and 'simmon beer, as us did den, and work and wait on a crop wid nothing but dat in deir bellies; den dey could grumble hard times. I allus tells 'em to shut up when dey starts anything like dat around me.

"When dat crop come along, we sho did fall in and save all us could for de next year. Every kind of seed and pod dat grow'd we saved and dried for next spring or fall planting. Atter folks is once had deir belly aching and growling for victuals, dey ain't never gwine to throw no rations and things away no mo'. Young folks is powerful wasteful, but if something come along to break up deir good time like it did to us when dat man Sherman held everything up, dey sho will take heed, and dey won't grumble 'bout it neither, cause dey won't have no time to grumble.

"Things passes over quicker sometimes dan we figures out dat dey will. Everything, no matter how good it be or how hard, passes over. Dey jes' does like dat. So dem Yankees went on somewhars, I never know'd whar, and everything round Yorkville was powerful relieved. Den de Confederate soldiers started coming across Broad River. Befo' dey got home, word had done got round dat our folks had surrendered; but dem Yankees never fit (fought) us out—dey starved us out. If things had been equal us would a-been fighting dem till dis day, dat us sho would. I can still see dem soldiers of ours coming across Broad River, all dirty, filthy, and lousy. Dey was most starved, and so poor and lanky. And deir hosses was in de same fix. Men and hosses had know'd plenty till dat Sherman come along, but most of dem never know'd plenty no more. De men got over it better dan de hosses. Women folks cared for de men. Dey brewed tea from sage leaves, sassafras root and other herb teas. Nobody never had no money to fetch no medicine from de towns wid, so dey made liniments and salves from de things dat grow'd around about in de woods and gardens.

"I told you 'bout how small I was, but my brother, Jim Rice, went to Charleston and helped to make dem breastworks down dar. I has never see'd dem, but dem dat has says dat dey is still standing in good conditions. Cose de Yankees tore up all dat dey could when dey got dar.

"Lots of rail fences was made back in dem days. Folks had a 'no fence' law, dat meant dat everybody fenced in deir fields and let de stock run free. Hogs got wild and turkeys was already wild. Sometimes bulls had to be shot to keep dem from tearing up everything. But folks never fenced in no pasture den. Dey put a rail fence all around de fields, and in dem days de fields was never bigger dan ten or fifteen acres. Logs was plentiful, and some niggers, called 'rail splitters', never done nothing else but split rails to make fences.

"If I recollects right, Wade Hampton broke down fence laws in dis country. I sho heard him talk in Yorkville. Dey writ about him in de Yorkville Inquirer and dey still has dat paper over dar till now. De Red Shirts come along and got Wade Hampton in. He scared de Yankees and Carpetbaggers and all sech folks as dem away from our country. Dey went back whar dey come from, I reckon.

"De Ku Klux was de terriblest folks dat ever crossed my path. Who dey was I ain't never know'd, but dey took Alex Leech to Black's Ford on Bullet Creek and killed him for being a radical. It was three weeks befo' his folks got hold of his body.

"Dr. Bell's calves got out and did not come back for a long time. Mrs. Bell fear'd dat dey was gitting wild, so she sent de milk girl down on de creek to git dem calves. Dat girl had a time, but she found 'em and drove 'em back to de lot. De calves give her a big chase and jumped de creek near a big raft of logs dat had done washed up from freshets. All over dem logs she saw possums, musrats and buzzards a-setting around. She took her stick and drove dem all away, wid dem buzzards puking at her. When dey had left, she see'd uncle Alex laying up dar half e't up by all dem varmints.

"She know'd dat it must be him. When she left, dem buzzards went back to deir perch. First thing dey done was to lap up deir own puke befo' dey started on uncle Alex again. Yes sir, dat's de way turkey buzzards does. Dey pukes on folks to keep dem away, and you can't go near kaise it be's so nasty; but dem buzzards don't waste nothing. Little young buzzards looks like down till dey gits over three days old. You can go to a buzzard roost and see for yourself, but you sho better stay out'n de way of de old buzzard's puke. Dey sets around de little ones and keeps everything off by puking.

"Pacolet used to be called Buzzard Roost, kaise in de old days dey had a rail outside de bar-room dat de drunks used to hang over and puke in a gully. De buzzards would stay in dat gully and lap up dem drunkards' puke. One night a old man went in a drunkard's sleep in de bar-room. De bar tender shoved him out when he got ready to close, and he rolled up against dis here rail dat I am telling you about. He 'lowed dat next morning when he woke up, two buzzards was setting on his shirt front eating up his puke. He said, 'You is too soon', and grabbed one by de leg and wrung his head off. But befo' he could git its head wrung off it had done puked his own puke back on him. He said dat was de nastiest thing he ever got into, and dat he never drunk no more liquor. Dem days is done past and gone, and it ain't nobody hardly knows Pacolet used to be called Buzzard Roost.

"Lawd have mercy, white folks! Here I is done drapped plumb off'n my subject; but a old man's mind will jes' run waa'ry at times. Me and Joe, Alex's son, went to see de officer 'bout gitting Joe's pa buried. He 'lowed dat Alex's body was riddled wid bullets; so we took him and put his bones and a little rotten flesh dat dem buzzards had left, in de box we made, and fetched it to de site and buried him. Nobody ever seed Alex but me, Joe, and dat gal dat went atter dem calves. Us took shovels and throw'd his bones in de box. When we got de top nailed on, we was both sick. Now, things like dat don't come to pass. I still thinks of de awful days and creeps runs all over me yet.

"All my brothers, sisters, mother and father is done gone. And I is looking to leave befo' a great while. I is trying every day to git ready, Lawd. I been making ready for years. Smart mens tries to make you live on, but dey can't git above death. Tain't no use."

Source: Jesse Rice (80), Littlejohn St., Gaffney, S.C. Interviewer: Caldwell Sims, Union, S.C. 1/8/38

Project 1885-1 FOLKLORE Spartanburg Dist. 4 June 15, 1937

Edited by: Elmer Turnage


"I'm living on Mr. Russel Emmitt's place. I never did nothing but drive cows when I was a little boy growing up. Miss Cum and Miss Lizzie Rice was Marse Alex's sisters. Marse Alex done died, and dey was my mistress. Dey tuck and sold de plantation afo dey died, here 'bout twenty years ago. Dat whar my ma found me and den she died.

"My grandparents, Jane and Peter Stevens, brung me up. I was a little farm boy and driv cows fer de overseer, Jim Blalock. Miss Cum was really Miss Ann. Miss Ann had a hundred niggers, herself, and Miss Lizzie had might nigh dat many, asides dem what Marse Alex done left 'em. De overseer try to act rough out o' Miss Ann's sight, and she find it out and set him down a peg.

"Miss Jane have our shirts made on de looms. She let us wear long shirts and go in our shirt tails, and us had to keep 'em clean, too, 'cause Miss Jane never like no dirt around her. Miss Jane have charge of de whole house and everything along wid it.

"Us had three hundred hogs to tend to, two hundred yellings and heifers, and Lawdy knows how many sheep and goats. Us fed dem things and kept 'em fat. When butchering time come, us stewed out the mostest lard and we had enough side-meat to supply the plantation the year round. Our wheat land was fertilized wid load after load of cotton seed. De wheat us raised was de talk of de country side. 'Sides dat, dare was rye, oats and barley, and I ain't said nothing 'bout de bottom corn dat laid in de cribs from year to year.

"Our smokehouse was allus full o' things to eat, not only fer de white folks but fer de darkies as well. And our barns carried feed fer de cattle from harvest to harvest.

"De fattest of all de hosses, was Miss Ann's black saddle hoss called, 'Beauty'. Miss Ann wo' de longest side-saddle dress dat hung way down below her feets. Somebody allus had to help her on and off Beauty, but n'ary one of her brothers could out-ride Miss Ann."

Source: Phillip Rice (75), Kelton, S.C. RFD Interviewed by: Caldwell Sims, Union, S.C. (5/7/37)

Project #1655 Stiles M. Scruggs Columbia, S.C.


Martha Richardson, who tells this story, lives at 924 Senate Street, Columbia, S.C. Her father was an Indian and her mother a mulatto. She was born in Columbia in 1860 and was five years old, when General W.T. Sherman's Federal troops captured and burned the city in 1865.

"When I gits big 'nough to pick up chips for de cook stove, we was livin' in de rear of Daniel Gardner's home, on Main Street, and my mammy was workin' as one of de cooks at de Columbia Hotel. De hotel was run by Master Lowrance, where de Lorick & Lowrance store is now.

"My daddy, like de general run of Indians, love to hunt but de game not bring much cash in. My mammy often give him some change (money) and he not work much but he always good to mammy and she love him and not fuss at him, much. I soon learn dat if it had not been for mammy, we wouldn't a had much to eat and wear. We go 'long lak dat for a good while and my mammy have friends 'nough dat she seldom had to ask for a job.

"De game was so scarce dat my daddy sometimes make a little money a showin' people how to make Indian medicine, dat was good for many complaints, how to cover deir houses, and how to kill deir hogs, 'cordin' to de moon. He tell us many times 'bout de great Catawba Indians, who make all deir own medicines and kill bears and dress in deir skins, after feastin' on deir flesh. He was a good talker.

"You know, I sees so much 'skimpin', to make ends meet at home, as we go 'long dis way, dat I has never married. My mammy tell me: 'Honey, you a pretty child. You grow up and marry a fine, lovin' man lak your daddy, and be happy.' I kinda smile but I thinks a lot. If my daddy had worked and saved lak my mammy, we would be 'way head of what we is, and my brudders say so, too. But we fond of our daddy, he so good lookin' and all.

"What de most 'citin' thing I ever see? Well, I think de Red Shirt campaign was. You never see so much talkin', fightin', and fussin' as dat. You know de Yankees was still here and they not 'fraid, and de Hampton folks was not 'fraid, so it was a case of knock down and drag out most of de time, it seem to me. Long at de end, dere was two governors; one was in de Wallace House and one in de Capitol. Men went 'bout town wid deir guns.

"Mammy keep busy cookin', nussin', and washin', and us chillun help. You know I had two brudders older than me and a little baby brudder 'bout a year old, when my mammy rent a small farm from Master Greenfield, down at de end of Calhoun Street, near de Broad River. We plant cotton. I was then eleven years old and my brudder was twelve and thirteen. My mammy help us plant it befo' she go to work at de hotel.

"She was home washin', one day, when my brudders and me was choppin' cotton. We chop 'til 'bout eleven o'clock dat mornin' and we say: 'When we gits out de rows to de big oak tree we'll sit down and rest.' We chillun lak each other and we joke and work fast 'til we comes to de end of de rows and in de shade of de big oak. Then we sets down, dat is, my oldest brudder and me, 'cause my young brudder was a little behind us in his choppin'. As he near de finish, his hoe hit somethin' hard and it ring. Ha rake de dirt 'way and keep diggin', light lak.

"What you doin', brudder?' I say. He say: 'Tryin' to find out what dis is. It seem to be a pot lid.' Then we jump up and go to him and all of us grabble dirt 'way and sho' 'nough it was a pot lid and it was on a pot. We digs it out, thinkin' it would be a good thing to take home. It was so heavy, it take us all to lift it out.

"It was no sooner out than we takes off de lid and we is sho' s'prised at what we see. Big silver dollars lay all over de top. We takes two of them and drops them together and they ring just lak we hear them ring on de counters. Then we grabble in de pot for more. De silver went down 'bout two inches deep. Twenty dollar gold pieces run down 'bout four inches or so and de whole bottom was full of big bundles of twenty dollar greenbacks.

"We walks up to de house feelin' pretty big and my oldest brudder was singin':

'Hawk and buzzard went to law, Hawk come back wid a broken jaw.'

"Mammy say widout lookin' at us: 'What you all comin' to dinner so soon for?' Then she looked up and see de pot and say: 'Land sakes, what you all got?' Then we puts de big pot down in de middle of de floor and takes off de lid, and mammy say: 'Oh! Let's see what we has!' She begin to empty de pot and to count de money. She tell us to watch de door and see dat nobody got in, 'cause she not at home!

"She say de money 'mount to $5,700, and she swear us not to say nothin' 'bout findin' it. She would see what she could find out 'bout it. Weeks after dat, she tell us a big white friend tell her he hear a friend of his buried some money and went to war widout tellin' anybody where it was. Maybe he was killed and dat all we ever hear.

"My mammy kept it and we all work on just de same and she buy these two lots on Senate Street. She build de two-story house here at 924, where you sittin' now, and de cottage nex' door. She always had rent money comin' in ever since. By and by she die, after my Indian pappy go 'way and never come back. Then all de chillun die, 'ceptin' me.

"I am so happy dat I is able to spend my old days in a sort of ease, after strugglin' most of my young life and gittin' no learnin' at school, dat I sometimes sing my mammy's old song, runnin' somethin' lak dis:

'Possum up de simmon tree Sparrow on de ground 'Possum throw de 'simmons down Sparrow shake them 'round'."

Project#-1655 Phoebe Faucette Hampton County

Approx. 416 words



"Aunt Mamie's" hair is entirely white. She lives in a neat duplex brick house with one of her husband's relatives, a younger woman who is a cook for a well established family in Estill, S.C. When questioned about the times before the war, she replied:

"Yes'm, I kin tell you 'bout slav'ry time, 'cause I is one myself. I don' remember how old I is. But I remember when de Yankees come through I bin 'bout so high. (She put her hand out about 3-1/2 feet from the floor.) We lived on Mr. Henry Solomons' place—a big place. Mr. Henry Solomons had a plenty of people—three rows of house, or four.

"When de Yankees come through Mr. Solomons' place I wuz right dere. We wuz at our house in de street. I see it all. My ma tell me to run; but I ain't think they'd hurt me. I see 'em come down de street—all of 'em on horses. Oo—h, dey wuz a heap of 'em! I couldn't count 'em. My daddy run to de woods—he an' de other men. Dey ran right to de graveyard. Too mucha bush been dere. You couldn't see 'em. Stay in de woods three days.

"Dey went to my daddy's house an' take all. My daddy ran. My mother an' my older sister wuz dere. My ma grab a quilt off de bed an' cover herself all over wid it—head an' all. And set in a chair dere by de fire. She tell us to git in de bed—but I ain't git in. And she yell out when she hear 'em comin': 'Dere's de fever in heah!' Six of 'em come to de door; but dey say dey ain't goin' in—dey'll catch de fever. Den some more come along. Dey say dey gwine in. Dey ain't gwine to take no fever. Fill two sack of 'tatoes. White man ask to search all trunk. Dey take two of me Ma's good dresses out. Say to wrap 'tatoes in. I start to cryin' den, an' dey say, 'Well, git us some sacks den.' I knowed where some sacks wuz. I git 'em de sacks. Dey do 'em right. Dey bid 'em goodbye, an' ax 'em where de man wuz. Dey give me 'leven or twelve dollars. I wuz little an' ain't know. My mother never give it to me.

"I stay right on dere after freedom, until after I married."

Source: Mamie Riley, Negro about 80 years old, Estill, S.C.

Project 1885-1 FOLKLORE Spartanburg Dist. 4 May 24, 1937

Edited by: Elmer Turnage


"I was born near Broad River in de Dutch Fork of Newberry County. I was a slave of Cage Suber. He was a fair master, but nothing to brag about. I was small at slavery time and had to work in de white folks' house or around the house until I was big enough to go to de field and work.

"Old Marse Cage always made me fan flies off of him when he lay down to take a nap. The fan was made out of brushes.

"De white folks had cotton-pickings, corn-shuckings and quiltings. Dey allus had something to eat at the frolics and I had to help wid 'em.

"I married John Riser. I moved to town several years ago."

Source: Susie Riser (80), Newberry, S.C. Interviewer: G.L. Summer, Newberry, S.C., May 17, 1937.

Project #1655 Henry Grant, Columbia, S.C.



Isom Roberts rents one room at 1226 Waverly Street, Columbia, S.C., and lives alone. However frail he appears, he is able to support himself by working in the yards about the city.

"Well, sir, white folks, I is eighty years old, or leastwise I is so close to it, dat it don't make much difference. But even if I is dat old, it don't seem so long since I was a little boy. Years flies by mighty fas' to old folks, 'cause deir 'memberance is shorter, while young folks 'members everything, and in dat way months and years drags 'long slower to them.

"I was a very small boy when de Civil War was gwine on. It seems like I knows all 'bout Sherman's army comin' through dis State, a burnin' Columbia and destroyin' and takin' away everything what folks had. I has heard so much 'bout slavery and all them times, from my mammy and daddy, dat it 'pears to me dat I 'sperienced it all. I 'spects knowin' 'bout things is just 'bout as good and true as seein' them. Don't you?

"My daddy and mammy b'long to Marster Sam Louie, who had a big plantation over in Calhoun County. He had 'bout fifty or more grown slaves, 'sides many chillun of de slaves. Old marster was a good farmer; raised big crops and saved what he made. He sho' was a fine business man but he was mighty hard on everybody he had anything to do wid. He told his slaves to work hard and make him a heap of money and that he would keep it, in case of hard times. Times was all de time hard wid old marster but de niggers never got no money. When news spread 'round dat de Yankees was comin' to free de niggers, he called all de slaves up in de yard and showed them a big sack of money, what they had made for him, and told them dat he was gwine to kill all of them befo' de Yankees set them free and that they wouldn't need no money after they was done dead. All de slaves was mighty sad and troubled, all dat day, when old marster made dat speech to them. But somethin' happened. It most makes me tremble to talk to you 'bout it now. Providence, or some kind of mercy spirit, was sho' walkin' 'round dat plantation dat night. Sometime in de night it was whispered 'round amongst de slaves dat old marster done took de smallpoxes and was mighty sick. Mammy said he must have been terrible sick, 'cause they buried him two days after dat.

"After old marster flew away, everything was different on de plantation. Miss Nancy, dat was old marster's wife, told de slaves dat when de Yankees freed them, they could stay right there and work on shares or by the day, which ever way they wanted. Many stayed on de plantation after freedom while others went away. Me and my folks stayed on wid Miss Nancy until she die. Then us moved on another plantation in de lower side of de county. I stayed dere until my wife died, seventeen years ago.

"Does I 'member anything 'bout how de slaves was treated in slavery time? Well, I 'members a little myself and a heap of what others told me. Wid dis I has done told you, I believes I want to stop right dere. A low fence is easier to git over than a high one. Say little and you ain't gwine to have a heap to 'splain hereafter. Dere is a plenty of persons dat has lost deir heads by not lettin' deir tongues rest. Marster Sam Louie is dead now. He can't disturb nobody in his grave. He had his faults and done many things wrong but show me dat person what don't mis-step sometimes. All of us, both white and black, is prone to step aside now and then. To tell de truth, old marster never knowed what Sunday was. Everybody on de plantation worked on dat day as same as any other day.

"But Boss, if my old marster was rough and hard and break de Sabbath and all dat, he was no worser than what young white folks and niggers is dese days. You can see them any time, floppin' 'bout in dese automobiles, a drinkin' and a carryin' on. Sich stuff is abomination in de sight of a decent person, much less dat One up yonder. (He pointed upward).

"I's gwine to tell you boss, dat slavery time was better for de average nigger than what they is gittin' now. Folks say dat slavery was wrong and I 'spose it was, but to be poor like a heap of niggers is now, is de worse thing dat has ever come upon them, I thinks. Dis gittin' something wrong, ain't right. De North had no business sellin' niggers to de South and de South had no business buyin' them from de North and makin' slaves of them. Everything went on pretty nice for awhile, then de North got jealous of de South and de South got 'spicious of de North. I believes dat if you can't go over and you can't go under, then you should try to go 'round. If de big men up North and here in de South had been good 'nough and smart 'nough, they might could a gone 'round dat terrible Civil War. I believes dat.

"I marry Lucy Nelson when I was 'bout thirty years old. She was a bright skin nigger, much brighter than I is. She was high tempered and high spirited, too. She was sho' smart, and de best cook I has ever seen. Just plain corn bread, dat she cooked in de hot ashes of de fireplace, taste sweeter and better than de cake you buy now. But de least thing would git her temper 'roused. I has knowed her to complain wid de old hound dog us had, 'cause he didn't run some rabbits out de woods for me to shoot. Fuss wid de cats, 'cause they didn't ketch de mouses in de house. Quarrel wid de hens, 'cause they eat, cackled, scratched and wallowed holes in de yard and wouldn't lay. Told de old rooster many times dat she was gwine to chop his head off if he didn't crow sooner and louder of mornin's and wake me up so I could go to work. All dis sounds foolish I knows but you see how bent my back is. Well, I 'spects it was bent from totin' so many buckets of water from de spring for her to wash wid soon of mornin's, so I could then do a day's work.

"My wife thought she was doin' right by workin' like she did. She thought dat she was helpin' me make a livin' for our big family of eight chillun. Yes sir, I knows now she was right, but hard work broke her health and brought her to her bed where she lingered 'bout one year and then she went away from me. All dis took place seventeen years ago and, from then to dis, I ain't seen no woman I would have for a wife, 'cause I ain't gwine to find no woman Lucy's equal. All my chillun are dead, 'cept two, and I don't know where they is.

"Does poor folks have any blessings and pleasure? Well, yes sir, in a way. You see they don't have no worriments over what they has, like rich folks. They can sleep as hot as they want to in de summer time and raise as big families as anybody. Sho', poor folks, and especially niggers, has a good time on hog-killin' days. In early summer come them juicy brierberries dat they enjoy so much. They last until watermelon season. Then they has 'possum and 'tators in de fall. Most all livin' beings has deir own way of doin' things and deir way of existin'. De hog roots for his, de squirrel climbs for his, de chickens scratches for deirs, and de nigger, well, if dere ain't nobody lookin', I reckon they could slip deirs right handy.

"I sho' has enjoyed talkin' to you dis evening and now, if you will 'scuse me, I's gwine home and cook me a pot of turnips. I can almost taste them now, I is so hungry."

Project #1655 W.W. Dixon Winnsboro, S.C.



Alexander Robertson lives as a member of the household of his son, Charley, on the General Bratton plantation, four miles southeast of White Oak, S.C. It is a box-like house, chimney in the center, four rooms, a porch in front and morning glory vines, in bloom at this season, climbing around the sides and supports. Does Alexander sit here in the autumn sunshine and while the hours away? Nay, in fact he is still one of the active, working members of the family, ever in the fields with his grandchildren, poke around his neck, extracting fleecy cotton from the bolls and putting it deftly into the poke. He can carry his row equally as well as any of the six grandchildren. He has a good appetite at meal time, digestive organs good, sleeps well, and is the early riser in the mornings. He says the Negro half of his nature objects to working on Saturday afternoon, and at such times his tall figure, with a green patch cloth over the left eye, which is sightless, may be seen strolling to and fro on the streets of Winnsboro.

"Well, well! If it ain't de youngun dat use to sell me sugar, coffee, fat back and meal, when he clerk for Calvin Brice & Company, at Woodward, in '84 and 'long dere.

"I hopes you is well dis mornin'. I's told to come to Winnsboro and gits blanks for a pension. Andy Foster, man I knows, d'rect me up dese steps and bless God I finds you. You wanna ask me some questions? Well, here I is, more than glad to answer, if I can. Where I born? Strange as it seems, I born right here in Winnsboro. My name set down in a book: 'Alexander-boy-mother, Hannah, wench of James Stewart'. Dat de way it was read to me by Dr. Beaty, dat marry a Miss Cherry and live in Rock Hill. If slavery had never been done 'way wid, dat would be my master today, 'cause him lak hound dogs and I lak a hound dog. Dat kind of breed got a good nose and make good 'possum dog. Marster Jim tell me one time, dat de first dog sprung from a wolf, and dat fust dog was a hound dog. Dat out dat fust dog, (must to a been a bitch, don't you reckon?) come all dogs. I follow his talk wid belief, 'bout de setters, pointers, and blood hounds, even to de fices, but it strain dat belief when it git to de little useless hairy pup de ladies lead 'round wid a silver collar and a shiney chain. Well, you don't care to hear anymore 'bout dat? What is de question?

"My master at de fust, was Marster Jim Stewart and my mistress was his wife, Mistress Clara. They have two chillun. I 'member Marster Jim and Miss Lizzie; they live in a fine house befo' de war, 'round yonder close to Mt. Zion College. My mother was de cook and I was de house boy. They had a big plantation 'bout two miles out, sorta southwest of Boro, I mean Winnsboro, of course, but de country people still call it Boro.

"On dat plantation was many two-room houses, brick chimneys in de middle, for de plantation slaves. In de growin' season I go wid marster every day, not to drive, too small for dat, just to hold de hoss, when him git out and then I run errands for him, 'round de house and in de fields.

"My mother had another child, Willie Finch. A colored man name of Finch is his father but her and de white folks never tell me who my father was. I have to find out dat for myself, after freedom, when I was lookin' 'round for a name. From all I hear and 'pear in de lookin' glass, I see I was half white for sure, and from de things I hear, I conclude I was a Robertson which have never been denied. Maybe it best just to give no front names. Though half a nigger, I have tried to live up to dat name, never took it in dat court house over yonder, never took it in dat jail or dat calaboose. I's paid my debts dollar for dollar and owe no man nothin' but good will.

"What de Yankees do when they come? Let other people tell dat, but seem lak they lay de whole town in ashes, 'cept de college and our house close to it, dat they use for de officers while they was in Boro. Why they hear sumpin' bout de Davis name techin' de St. John 'Piscopal Church and they march 'round dere, one cold February Sunday mornin', set it afire, and burn it up. Mother and me went to de plantation and stayed dere 'til they left.

"When freedom come, I was twelve years old. Mother marry a Finch; Bill was de name of him. Our nex' move was to Dr. Madden's place, just north of Boro. Us farm up dere and I do de hoein'. I live dere thirteen years. I got to feelin' my oats and tired of workin' for a plum black nigger, I did. Maybe I ought to been more humble but I wasn't.

"I ask myself one night: 'What you gonna do, stay here forever for your vittles and clothes?' Then come over my mind I old 'nough for to marry. Who I gwine to marry? It pop right in dis head, Sarah was de gal for me. I rode old Beck down dere de nex' Sunday; dat was in December. I come right to de point wid her and de old folks. They 'low they have no objections if I could take care of her. I say I try to. They say: 'Dat ain't 'nough, 'range yourself for another year and then come and git her'.

"De Lord directs me. I's down here payin' my poll, too. Marster Tom Shanty Brice come in as us come out. I ask him if he need a hand for nex' year. He look me up from top to bottom and say: 'What's your name?' I show him my tax receipt. He hire me than and dere. I go right straight to Sarah and us tell de old folks. Rev. Gordon marry us de 29th of January, 1879. Us has seven chillun. Alex, dat's de one name for me, is in Tampa, Florida. Carrie marry a Coleman and is in Charlotte, N.C. Jimmie is dead. Thomas is in Charleston, S.C. Emma marry a Belton and lives wid her husband in Ridgeway, S.C. I stay wid my son, Charley, up de country.

"I voted one time in 1876, for Gov. Chamberlain, but when I moved to Marster Tom Brice's I thought so much of him, I just quit voting. I would lak to vote one more time to say: 'I have vote one time wid de black part of my nature, dis time I votes wid de white side of my nature.' What you laughin' 'bout? If it was de call of dark blood de fust time, maybe it's de call of de white blood dis time. You have no idea de worry and de pain a mulatto have to carry all his eighty-four years. Forced to 'sociate wid one side, proud to be related to de other side. Neither side lak de color of your skin. I jine de Methodist church here in Boro and 'tend often as I can and as I hear my preacher Owens preach, dat dere will be no sex in hebben, I hopes and prays dat dere'll be no sich thing as a color line in hebben.

"Who de best white men I ever know? Mr. Tom Brice, Mr. W.L. Rosborough, Mr. Watt Sinonton, and Mr. August Nicholson. Master Bill Beaty, dat marry my young mistress, Elizabeth, was a fine man.

"What I think of Abe Lincoln? What I think of Mr. Roosevelt? Dere de color come up again. De black say Mr. Lincoln de best President us ever have; de white say us never have had and never will have a President equal of Mr. Roosevelt."

Project #1655 W.W. Dixon Winnsboro, S.C.



Charlie Robinson lives nine miles northwest of Winnsboro, S.C., on lands of Mr. R.W. Lemmon. There is one other occupant in the four-room house, John Giles, a share cropper. The house has two fireplaces, the brick chimney being constructed in the center of the two main rooms. The other two rooms are shed rooms. Charlie ekes out a living as a day laborer on the farm.

"They been tellin' me to come to de social circle and see 'bout my pension but I never is got dere. It been so hot, I hate to hotfoot it nine miles to Winnsboro and huff dat same distance back on a hot summer day.

"Glad you come out here but sorry of de day, 'cause it is a Friday and all de jay-birds go to see de devil dat day of de week. It's a bad day to begin a garment, or quilt or start de lye hopper or 'simmon beer keg or just anything important to yourself on dat day. Dere is just one good Friday in de year and de others is given over to de devil, his imps, and de jay-birds. Does I believe all dat? I believes it 'nough not to patch dese old breeches 'til tomorrow and not start my 'simmon beer, when de frost fall on them dis fall, on a Friday.

"You wants me to set down so you can ask me sumpin'? I'll do dat! Of course I will! (He proceeded to do so—wiping his nose on his sleeve and sprawling down on the doorsill). My pappy name George, black George they call him in slavery time, 'cause dere was a small yallow slave on de place, named George. My mammy name Ca'line. My pappy b'long to de McNeals and my mammy b'long to Marse Joe Beard. His wife was my mistress. Her name Miss Gracie. 'Nitials? Dat sumpin' not in my lingo, Boss. You want to know what my pappy's old marster name? Seem to me they call him Marse Gene, though it been so long I done forgot. When my marster went to de war him got a ball through his leg. Bad treatment of dat leg give him a limp for de balance of his days. White folks call him 'Hoppin' Joe Beard' and sometime 'Lopin' Joe'.

"Marster and mistress have two chillun. I play marbles wid them and make mud pies. Deir names was Marse Willie and Miss Rhoda.

"My brudders and sisters was Jeff, Roland, Jane and Fannie. All dead 'cept Fannie. Her marry a big, long nigger name Saul Griffin. Last I heard of them, they was livin' in Columbia, S.C.

"I start workin' in de field de second year of de war, 1862. It sho' made me hungry. I 'members now, how I'd git a big tin cupful of pot liquor from de greens, crumble corn bread in it at dinner time and 'joy it as de bestest part of de dinner. Us no suffer for sumpin' to eat. I go all summer in my shirt-tail and in de winter I have to do de best I can, widout any shoes. Ever since then, I just lak to go barefooted as you sees me now.

"My pappy git a pass and come to see mammy every Saturday night. My marster had just four slave houses on de place. 'Spect him have 'bout eight women, dat men come from other places to see and marry them and have chillun. I doesn't 'member nary one of de women havin' a husband livin' wid her every night.

"Who do de plowin'? Women and boys do de plowin'. Had good 'nough houses, though they was made of logs, 'cup and saddled' at both ends, and covered wid white oak board shingles. Had stick and mud chimneys.

"De Yankees made a clean sweep of everything, hosses, mules, cows, hogs, meat and 'lasses. Got so mad when they couldn't find any salt, they burn up everything. Pull Marse Joe's beard, just 'cause him name Beard. De one dat do dat was just a smart aleck and de cap'n of de crowd shame him and make him slink 'way, out de house.

"When freedom come, Marse Joe stay one year, then leave. Sell out and move to Walhalla and us move to pappy on de McNeal place. Dat year us all jined de church, Union Church. I now b'longs to New Hope Methodist Church. Us nex' move to Mr. Bill Crawford's place. Mr. Crawford got to be school commissioner on de 'publican ticket and white folks call him scalawag. Him have pappy and all de colored folks go to de 'lection box and vote. Ku Klux come dere one night and whip every nigger man they could lay deir hands on. Things quiet down then but us no more go to de 'lection box and vote.

"'Bout dis time thoughts of de gals got in my head and feets at de same time. I was buyin' a biled shirt and celluloid collar, in Mr. Sailing Wolf's store, one Saturday, and in walked Ceily Johnson. I commence to court her right then and dere, befo' I ever git inside dat shirt and collar. Her have dark skin and was good to look at, I tell you. I de-sash-shay 'bout dat gal, lak a chicken rooster spread his wing 'round a pretty black pullet, 'til I wear out her indifference and her make me happy by marryin' me. Her was too good lookin' and too bad doin', though, for me. She left by de light of de moon when us was livin' on de Cummings place, 'bove town. Excuse me now, dat's still a fresh subject of torment to me. Let's talk 'bout chances of gittin' dat pension, when I can git another clean white shirt, lay 'round de white folks again, and git dis belly full of pot liquor."

Project #1655 W.W. Dixon. Winnsboro, S.C.



Al Rosboro, with his second wife, Julia, a daughter, and six small grandchildren, lives in a three-room frame house, three hundred yards east of the Southern Railway track and US #21, about two miles south of Woodward, S.C., in Fairfield County. Mr. Brice gives the plot of ground, four acres with the house, to Al, rent free. A white man, Mr. W.L. Harvey does the ploughing of the patches for him. Al has cataracts on his eyes and can do no work. Since this story was written he has received his first old age pension check of eight dollars from the Social Welfare Board in Columbia, S.C.

"Does I know what a nonagenarian is? No seh, what dat? Old folks? Well, dats a mighty long name and I been here a mighty long time. Glad you say it's a honor and a privilege by de mercy of de Lord. I's thankful! You wants to know where I was born and who my white folks then?

"I was born just one and a half mile b'low White Oak, S.C., on de old Marse Billie Brice place. My pappy b'long to old Miss Jennie Rosboro, but mammy b'long to Marse William Brice. Her name Ann. My old mistress name Mary, daughter of de Simontons, on Dumpers Creek.

"You wants de fust thing I 'members, then travel 'long de years 'til I come to settin' right here in dis chair. Well, reckon us git through today? Take a powerful sight of dat pencil to put it all down.

"Let me see. Fust thing I 'members well, was a big crowd wid picks and shovels, a buildin' de railroad track right out de other side of de big road in front of old marster's house. De same railroad dat is dere today. When de fust engine come through, puffin' and tootin', lak to scare 'most everybody to death. People got use to it but de mules and bosses of old marster seem lak they never did. A train of cars a movin' 'long is still de grandest sight to my eyes in de world. Excite me more now than greyhound busses, or airplanes in de sky ever do.

"I nex' 'members my young misses and young marsters. Dere was Marse John; he was kilt in de war. Marse Jim, dat went to de war, come back, marry, and live right here in Winnsboro. Marse Jim got a grandson dat am in de army a sailin' air-ships. Then dere was Marse William; he moved off. One of de gals marry a Robertson, I can't 'member her name, tho' I help her to make mud pies many a day and put them on de chicken coop, in de sun, to dry. Her had two dolls; deir names was Dorcas and Priscilla. When de pies got dry, she'd take them under de big oak tree, fetch out de dolls and talk a whole lot of child mother talk 'bout de pies, to de Dorcas and Priscilla rag dolls. It was big fun for her tho' and I can hear her laugh right now lak she did when she mince 'round over them dolls and pies. Dere was some poor folks livin' close by and she'd send me over to 'vite deir chillun over to play wid her. They was name Marshall. Say they come from Virginny and was kin to de highest judge in de land. They was poor but they was proud. Mistress felt sorry for them but they wouldn't 'cept any help from her.

"Well, when I git twelve years old, marster give me to his son, Marse Calvin, and give Marse Calvin a plantation dat his son, Homer, live on now. I 'member now old marster's overseer comin' to de field; his name was McElduff. Him say: 'Al, Marse William say come to de house'. I goes dere on de run. When I git dere, him 'low: 'Calvin, I wants you to take Al, I give him to you. Al, you take good care of your young marster'. I always did and if Marse Calvin was livin' he'd tell you de same.

"I forgit to tell you one thing dat happen down dere befo' I left. Dere was a powerful rich family down dere name Cockrell; I forgits de fust name. Him brudder tho', was sheriff and live in Winnsboro. Dere was a rich Mobley family dat live jinin' him, two miles sunrise side of him. One day de Cockrell cows got out and played thunder wid Mr. Mobley's corn. Mr. Mobley kilt two of de cows. Dat made de Cockrells mad. They too proud to go to law 'bout it; they just bide deir time. One day Marse Ed Mobley's mules got out, come gallopin' 'round and stop in de Cockrell wheat field. Him take his rifle and kill two of them mules. Dat made Mr. Mobley mad but him too proud to go to law 'bout it. De Mobley's just bide deir time. 'Lection come 'round for sheriff nex' summer. No Cockrell was 'lected sheriff dat time. You ask Mr. Hugh Wylie 'bout dat nex' time him come to de Boro. Him tell you all 'bout it.

"Dat call to my mind another big man, dat live 'bove White Oak then, Marse Gregg Cameron. He was powerful rich, wid many slaves. Him lak to bar-room and drink. Him come by marster's house one day, fell off his hoss and de hoss gallop on up de road. Dat was de fust drunk man I ever see. Marster didn't know what to do; him come into de house and ask Mistress Mary. Him tell her him didn't want to scandal de chillun. She say: 'What would de good Samaritan do?' Old marster go back, fetch dat groanin', cussin', old man and put him to bed, bathe his head, make Sam, de driver, hitch up de buggy, make West go wid him, and take Marse Gregg home. I never see or hear tell of dat white man anymore, 'til one day after freedom when I come down here to Robinson's Circus. Him drop dead dat day at de parade, when de steam piano come 'long a tootin'. 'Spect de 'citement, steam, and tootin', was too much for him.

"Niggers never learn to read and write. It was 'ginst de law. White folks fear they would write deir passes and git 'way to de free states.

"Us slaves 'tend Concord Church, tho' Marse Calvin jine de Seceders and 'tend New Hope. Why us go to Concord? 'Cause it too far to walk to New Hope and not too far to walk to Concord. Us have not 'nough mules for all to ride, and then de mules need a rest. I now b'longs to Bethany Presbyterian Church at White Oak. Yes sah, I thinks everybody ought to jine de church for it's de railroad train to git to hebben on.

"Marse Calvin went to de war. Him got shot thru de hand. Yankees come and burn up everything him have. Wheeler's men just as bad.

"After freedom I got mannish. Wid not a drop of blood in me but de pure African, I sets out to find a mate of de pure breed. 'Bout de onliest place I could find one of dis hatchin', was de Gaillard quarter. I marry Gabrielle. Live fust years at de Walt Brice McCullough place, then move to de Vinson place, then to de preacher Erwin place. Dat was a fine preacher, him pastor for Concord. Him lak to swap hosses. When him come down out de pulpit him looks 'round, see a hoss him lak, soon as not him go home to dinner wid de owner of dat hoss. After dinner him say: 'If it wasn't de Sabbath, how would you trade dat hoss for my hoss?' More words pass between them, just supposin' all de time it was Monday. Then Mr. Erwin ride back dere nex' day and come back wid de hoss him took a fancy for.

"Mr. Erwin move when he git a call to Texas. I moves to de Bob Sinonton place. From dere I goes to de Jim Brice place, now owned by young Marse James Brice. I been dere 32 years. Gabrielle and me generate thirteen chillun, full blooded natural born Africans, seven boys and six gals. Then Gabrielle die and I marry Julia Jenkins. Us have five chillun, one boy and four gals. I's done a heap for my country. I wants Mr. Roosevelt to hear 'bout dat; then maybe him make de country do sumpin' for me."

Project #1655 W.W. Dixon Winnsboro, S.C.



Tom Rosboro lives with his daughter, Estelle Perry, in a three-room frame house, on Cemetery Street, Winnsboro, S.C. The house stands on a half-acre plot that is used for garden truck. Estelle owns the fee in the house and lot. Tom peddles the truck, eggs, and chickens, in the town and the suburban Winnsboro mill village.

"My pappy was name Tom, just lak I is name Tom. My mammy was name Sarah but they didn't b'long to de same marster. Pappy b'long to old Marse Eugene McNaul. Mammy b'long to old Marse John Propst. De ownership of de child followed de mammy in them days. Dat throwed me to be a slave of old Marse John Propst.

"My young marsters was name Marse Johnnie, Marse Clark, Marse Floyd, and Marse Wyatt. I had two young misses. Miss Elizabeth marry a McElroy and Miss Mamie marry a Landecker. You know Marse Ernest Propst dat run dat ladies' garment store and is a member of de Winnsboro Town Council? Yes? Well, dat is one of Marse Floyd Propst chillun.

"I hear mammy say dat daddy's mistress was name Miss Emma but her mistress and my mistress was name Miss Margaret. My daddy have to have a pass every time he come to see mammy. Sometime they give him a general pass for de year. Sometime him lose de pass and then such a gwine on you never did see de lak. Make more miration (hullabaloo) over it than if they had lost one of de chillun. They was scared de patarollers (patrollers) would come ketch him, and lay de leather whip on his naked back. He wouldn't dare stay long. Him would go back soon, not on de big road but through de woods and fields, so as not to meet de patarollers.

"Who was my brothers and sisters and where is they? Brother Ben and Sister Mamie is dead and in glory. Dat's all de chillun mammy had a chance to have, 'cause she was a good woman and would never pay any 'tention to de men slaves on de Propst place. Her was faithful to pappy through thick and thin, whichever it be.

"I doesn't 'member much 'bout de Yankees, though I does 'members de Ku Klux. They visit pappy's house after freedom, shake him, and threaten dat, if him didn't quit listenin' to them low-down white trash scalawags and carpetbaggers, they would come back and whale de devil out of him, and dat de Klan would take notice of him on 'lection day.

"When I was 'bout seventeen years old, I come to de Boro (Winnsboro) one Saturday evenin' and seen a tall willowy gal, black she was but shiny, puttin' them foots of her'n down on de pavement in a pretty gamecock pullet kind of way, as if to say: 'Roosters look at me.' I goes over to Mr. Landecker's store, de Mr. Landecker dat marry Miss Mamie Propst, and I begs him to give me a cigar. I lights dat cigar and puts out after her. I ketches up wid her just as she was comin' out of Mr. Sailing Wolfe's Jew store. I brush up 'ginst her and say: 'Excuse me lady.' Her say: 'I grants your pardon, Mister. I 'spects smoke got in your eyes and you didn't see me.' I say: 'Well, de smoke is out of my eyes now and they will never have sight for any other gal but you as long as I live.' Black as she was, her got red in de face and say: 'Who is you?' I say: 'Tom Rosboro. What might be your name, lovely gal?' Her say: 'My name is Mattie Nelson.' I say: 'Please to meet you, Sugar Plum.' Her say: 'I live down at Simpson's Turnout. Glad to have you come down to see me sometime.' After dat us kep' a meetin' in Winnsboro, every Saturday, 'til one day us went 'round to Judge Jno. J. Neils' law office and him married us. Me and Mat have our trials and tribulations and has went up and down de hills in all kind of weather. Us never ceased to bless dat day dat I run into her at Mr. Sailing Wolfe's store.

"How come I name Rosboro? I just picked it up as a mighty pretty name. Sound better than Propst or McNaul and de Rosboro white folks was big buckra in dat time.

"Us had lots of chillun; raise some and lost some. I have a son, Charlie, dat's a barber in Washington, D.C. Lucy, a daughter, marry Tank Hill. Nan marry Banks Smith. Estelle marry Jim Perry but her is a widow now. Her bought a house and lot wid de insurance money from Dr. McCants. She has a nice house on Cemetery Street, wid water and 'lectric lights. Her got four chillun. When my wife die, two years ago, I move in wid Estelle and her four chillun. Her make money by washin' and ironin' for de white folks. Me and de chillun picks cotton and 'tends to de makin' and de peddlin' of garden truck and sich lak. Ah, us is a happy family but I ain't 'bove usin' some of dat old age pension money, if I can git it."

Project #1655 W.W. Dixon Winnsboro, S.C.


"No sir, I can 'member nothin' 'bout de State of Verginny, where pappy said us was born. He told me, when I was 'bout two years old he and mammy Kitty was took from somewhar in dat state to Richmond, wid de understandin' to sell us as a family, and to give a man name Johnson, de preference. He say de trader couldn't find de man Johnson, and sold us to my marster, John Rosborough. My pappy name William, my brothers, Tom and Willie and my sisters, Mary and Alice.

"My marster was a kind and tender man to slaves. You see a man love hosses and animals? Well, dat's de way he love us, though maybe in bigger portion, I 'low. Marster John never marry. Set down dere dat he was good enough to buy my old gran' mammy Mary, though she never could do much work.

"Us knowed dat our gran'pappy was a white man back in Verginny, but dat was her secret, dat she kept locked in her breast and carried it wid her to de grave. You say I's very light color myself? So I is, so was she, so was pappy. Ease your mind, us had none of de white Rosborough in us. Us come on one side from de F.F.V's. I's proud of dat, and you can put down dere dat deres no poor white trash blood in dese old veins, too.

"De last part of de war I worked some in de field, but not enough to hurt. My Marster was a Presbyterian, b'longed to Aimwell Church. Two or three acres in cemetery dere now, but they done move de church into de town of Ridgeway.

"Money was not worshipped then like it is now. Not much use of it. Marster raised all we eat and made all we wear right dere on de place, 'bout five miles north of Ridgeway.

"I guess Marster John had forty slaves. Us live in two-story log house wid plank floor. Marster John die, us 'scend to his brother Robert and his wife Mistress Mary. I played wid her chillun. Logan was one and Janie the other. My marster and mistress was good to me. I use to drive de mules to de cotton gin. All I had to do was to set on de long beam and crack my whip every now and then, and de mules would go 'round and 'round. Dere was three hundred and seventy-six acres in dat place. I own part of it today. I b'longs to Good Hope Church. I sure believes in de Lord, and dat His mercies is from everlastin' to everlastin' to them dat fears Him.

"'Member but little 'bout de war for freedom, 'cept dat some of de slaves of marster was sent to de front to use pick and shovel to throw up breast works, and things of dat nature. My pappy was de foreman and stayed at home, carry on whilst Marster Robert go.

"'Deed I recollects 'bout de Yankees. They come and ask my pappy, de foreman, where was de mules and hosses hid out? Pappy say he don't know, he didn't carry them off. They find out a boy dat knowed; make him tell, and they went and got de mules and hosses. They took everything and left.

"Doctor Scott was our doctor. Dere was in them days lots of rattlesnakes; had to be keerful of them. Then us hear lots and had lots of chills and fever. They found de remedy, but they was way off 'bout what make them come on you. Some 'low it was de miasma dat de devil bring 'round you from de swamp and settle 'round your face whilst you sleep, and soon as he git you to snore you sniffed it to your liver, lights and gall, then dat make bile, and then you was wid de chills a comin' every other day and de fever all de day. Marster Doctor Hayne done find out dat de skeeter bring de fever and de chills, and funny, he 'low dat it is de female skeeter bite dat does de business. You believe dat? I didn't at first, 'til old Doctor Lindor tell me dat it was no harder to believe than dat all disease come into de world when a female bite a apple in de garden of Eden.

"I think Mr. Lincoln was raised up by de Lord, just like Moses, to free a 'culiar people. I think Mr. Roosevelt is de Joshua dat come after him. No president has done as much for de poor of both races as de one now president. God bless him and 'stain him in his visions and work to bring de kingdom of heaven into and upon de earth."

Project #-1655 C.S. Murray Charleston, S.C.

Approx. 430 Words.




Boss Man, you talk about de brave soldier who been in de last big war and how dey look death in de eye and spit on him. I ain't see dat war. It been 'cross de water. But I know sump'en 'bout de Civil War. I been young lad when de big gun shoot and de Yankee pile down from de north.

Talk 'bout being brave. De bravest thing I ever see was one day at Ashepoo junction. Dat was near de end of de war. Grant was standing up before Richmond; Sherman was marching tump-tump through Georgia. I was a stripling lad den and boy-like I got to see and hear everything. One day more than all, de overseer sent my pappy to Ashepoo junction to get de mail. I gone 'long wid him. Seem like I jest had to go dat day.

I member dat morning well. When I get to de junction de train start to come in. What a lot of train! De air fair smoke up wid dem. They come shouting in from Charleston, bound up-country.

I stand wid my pappy near de long trestle, and see de train rock by. One enjine in front pulling one in de back pushing, pushing, pushing. De train load down wid soldier. They thick as peas. Been so many a whole ton been riding on de car roof. They shout and holler. I make big amaze to see such a lot of soldier—all going down to die.

And they start to sing as they cross de trestle. One pick a banjo, one play de fiddle. They sing and whoop, they laugh; they holler to de people on de ground, and sing out, "Good-bye." All going down to die.

And it seem to me dat is de most wonderful sight I ever see. All them soldier, laughing light, singing and shouting dat way, and all riding fast to battle.

One soldier man say in a loud voice: "Well, boys we going to cut de Yankee throat. We on our way to meet him and he better tremble. Our gun greeze up, and our bayonet sharp. Boys we going to eat our dinner in hell today."

I turn to my pappy and ax him how can man act like dat when they going down to die. He answer me: "Dat ain't nutting. They n'use to dat. Ain't you know soldier different?"

But I say: "Pappy, you hear dem talk 'bout eat dinner in hell?"

He answer me back: "They been in de army 'long time. They don't study hell anymore."

De train still rumble by. One gang of soldier on de top been playing card. I see um hold up de card as plain as day, when de luck fall right. They going to face bullet, but yet they play card, and sing and laugh like they in their own house ... All going down to die.

De train pull 'cross de trestle. I stand up and watch um till he go out of sight 'round de bend. De last thing I hear is de soldier laugh and sing ... All going down to die.

SOURCE: Interview with William Rose, 80, ex-slave of Edisto Island, S.C., in 1936.

Project #1655 W.W. Dixon Winnsboro, S.C.



"I was born fourteen miles north of Chester, S.C. the property of Mrs. Rebecca Nance. After eighty-eight years, I have a vivid recollection of her sympathy and the ideal relations she maintained with her slaves.

"My father was just Baker, my mother just Mary. My father was bought out of a drove of slaves from Virginia. I have been told my mother was born on the Youngblood place. (Youngblood name of my mistress' people in York County.) My father was a slave of a Mr. Russell and lived two or three miles from the Nance place, where mother lived. He could only visit her on a written pass. As he was religiously inclined, dutiful and faithful as a slave, my mother encouraged the relation that included a slave marriage between my father and mother. My mother in time, had a log house for herself and children. We had beds made by the plantation's carpenter. As a boy I remember plowing from sun to sun, with an hour's intermission for dinner, and feeding the horses.

"Money? Yes, sometimes white folks and visitors would give me coppers, 3-cent pieces, and once or twice dimes. Used them to buy extra clothing for Sundays and fire crackers and candy, at Christmas. We had good food. In the busy seasons on the farm the mistress saw to it that the slaves were properly fed, the food cooked right and served from the big kitchen. We were given plenty of milk and sometimes butter. We were permitted to have a fowl-house for chickens, separate from the white folks. We wore warm clothes and stout brogan shoes in winter; went barefooted from April until November and wore cotton clothes in summer. The master and some of the women slaves spun the thread, wove the cloth and made the clothes. My mother lived in a two-story farm house. Her children were: William, Mattie and Thomas. We never had an overseer on the place. Sometimes she'd whip the colored children, but only when it was needed for correction.

"Yes, sir, I went with my young master, William, to Chester Court House, and saw slaves put on a block and auctioned off to the highest bidder, just like land or mules and cattle. Did we learn to read and write? We were taught to read, but it was against the law to teach a slave to write. The Legislature passed an act to that effect. A number of cases in which slaves could write, the slave would forge a pass and thereby get away to free territory. They had a time getting them back. On one occasion I run in on my young master, William, teaching my Uncle Reuben how to write. They showed their confusion.

"All slaves were compelled to attend church on Sunday. A gallery around the interior of the church, contained the blacks. They were permitted to join in the singing. Favorite preacher? Well, I guess my favorite preacher was Robert Russell. He was allowed sometimes to use the white folks school, which wasn't much in those days, just a little log house to hold forth in winter. In summer he got permission to have a brush arbor of pine tops, where large numbers came. Here they sang Negro spirituals. I remember one was called: 'Steal away to Jesus.'

"Runaway slaves? Yes, we had one woman who was contrary enough to run away: Addie, she run off in the woods. My mistress hired her out to the McDonald family. She came back and we had to pelt and drive her away.

"How did we get news? Many plantations were strict about this, but the greater the precaution the alerter became the slaves, the wider they opened their ears and the more eager they became for outside information. The sources were: Girls that waited on the tables, the ladies' maids and the drivers; they would pick up everything they heard and pass it on to the other slaves.

"Saturday afternoons? These were given to women to do the family washing, ironing, etc., and the men cut fire wood, or worked in the garden, and special truck crops. Christmas? Christmas was a holiday, but the fourth of July meant very little to the slave people. Dances? There was lots of dancing. It was the pastime of the slave race. The children played shimmy and other games, imitating the white children, sometimes with the white folks.

"The master and mistress were very particular about the slave girls. For instance, they would be driving along and pass a girl walking with a boy. When she came to the house she would be sent for and questioned something like this: 'Who was that young man? How come you with him? Don't you ever let me see you with that ape again. If you cannot pick a mate better than that I'll do the picking for you.' The explanation: The girl must breed good strong serviceable children.

"No, I never saw a ghost, but there was a general belief among the race in ghosts, spirits, haunts and conjuration. Many believe in them yet. I can never forget the fright of the time my young master, William was going off to the war. The evening before he went, a whippoorwill lighted on the window sill and uttered the plaintive 'whip-poor-will.' All the slaves on the place were frightened and awed and predicted bad luck to Master Will. He took sick in war and died, just wasted away. He was brought back in rags toward the end of the struggle.

"Mistress always gave the slaves a big dinner on New Year's Day and talked to us out of the catechism. She impressed on us after dinner that time, that we were free. Some were sorry, some hurt, but a few were silent and glad. I and many of the others had been well treated. When we were sick she visited us and summoned a doctor the first thing, but the remedies those days were castor oil, quinine, turpentine, mustard plaster and bleeding."

Project 1885 -1- District #4 Spartanburg, S.C. May 29, 1937


"I was born about 1846, 'cause I was in de war and was 19 years old when de war was over. I went to Charleston with my master, Ros Atwood, my mistress's brother. My mistress was Mrs. Laura Rutherford and my master at home was Dr. Thomas Rutherford. We was on Morris Island.

"My father was Allen Rutherford and my mother Barbara Rutherford. My daddy had come from Chili to this country, was a harness maker, and belonged awhile to Nichols. We had a good house or hut to live in, and my work was to drive cows till I was old 'nough to work in de fields, when I was 13. Then I plowed, hoed cotton, and hoed corn 'till last year of war and den went to Charleston.

"Master paid us no money for work. We could hunt and fish, and got lots of game around there. We had dogs but our master didn't like hounds.

"Col. Daryton Rutherford, doct's son, had me for a 'pet' on the place. They had overseers who was sometimes bossy but they wouldn't allow dem to whip me. One old nigger named 'Isom', who come from Africa, was whipped mighty bad one day. The padderollers whip me one night when I went off to git a pair of shoes for an old lady and didn't git a pass. I was 16 years old then.

"Doctor Rutherford had several farms—I reckon around 2,000 acres of land. We didn't have church nor school but sometimes we had to go to de white folks church and set in the gallery. We didn't learn to read and write. The mistress learnt some of de nigger chaps to read and write a little.

"We had Saturday afternoons off to wash up and clean up. When Christmas come the doctor would give us good things to eat. When we was sick he give us medicine, but some of de old folks would make hot teas from root herbs.

"We had old time corn-shuckings before and after freedom. We made sure enough corn den and lots of it—had four cribs full. When freedom come, the old man had fallen off a block and was hurt, so one of de overseers told us we was free and could go if we wanted to. Some of dem stayed on and some got in the big road and never stopped walking. Then we worked for 1/3 share of the crops; had our little patch to work, too.

"I was 31 years old when I married first time. Was living in Mollohon. Her name was Leana and she belonged to Madison Brooks's family, as waiting girl. I was married twice, but had 13 children all by my first wife. I have 14 grandchildren, and so many great-grandchildren I can't count them.

"When de Ku Klux was in dat country I lived wid a man who was one of them. The first I knew about it was when I went down to de mill, de mule throwed me and de meal, and down de road I went to running and met a Ku Klux. It was him.

"I think Abe Lincoln and Jeff Davis good men, but don't know much about dem.

"I join de church when I was 68 years old 'cause God sent me to do it. I believe all ought to join church."

SOURCE: Joe Rutherford (92), Newberry, S.C.; Interviewer: G. Leland Summer, Newberry, S.C.

Project 1885 -1- District #4 Spartanburg, S.C. June 7, 1937


"I was born about 1849 in the Dutch Fork section of Newberry County, S.C. I was slave of Ivey Suber and his good wife. My daddy was Bill Suber and my mammy was Mary Suber. I was hired by Marse Suber as a nurse in the big house, and I waited on my mistress when she was sick, and was at her bed when she died. I had two sisters and a brother and when we was sold they went to Mr. Suber's sister and I stayed with him.

"My master was good to his slaves. He give them plenty to eat, good place to sleep and plenty of clothes. The young men would hunt lots, rabbits, possums, and birds. My white folks had a big garden and we had eats from it. They was good cooks, too, and lived good. We card and spin and weave our own clothes on mistress's spinning wheels.

"Marse Suber had one overseer who was good to us. We went to work at sun-up and worked 'till sun-down, none of us worked at night. We sometimes got a whipping when we wouldn't work or do wrong, but it wasn't bad.

"We never learned to read and write. We had no church and no school on the plantation, but we could go to the white folk's church and sit in the gallery. Some of us was made to go, and had to walk 10 miles. Of course, we never thought much about walking that far. I joined the church because I was converted; I think everybody ought to join the church.

"The patrollers rode 'round and ketched slaves who ran away without passes. They never bothered us. When our work was over at night, we stayed home, talked and went to sleep. On Saturday afternoons white folks sometimes give us patches of ground to work, and we could wash up then, too. We raised corn on the patches and some vegetables. On Sunday we just rested and went to neighbor's house or to church. On Christmas we had big eats.

"Corn-shuckings and cotton-pickings always had suppers when work was done. Master made whiskey up at his sister's place, and at these suppers he had whiskey to give us.

"When we was sick we had a doctor—didn't believe much in root teas.

"I married when I was 15 years old at a white man's place, Mr. Sam Cannon's. A negro man named Jake Cannon married us. Supper was give us by Mr. Sam Cannon after it was over.

"When freedom came, my mother moved away, but I stayed on.

"I think Abraham Lincoln was a good man, and Jeff Davis was a good man. I don't know anything about Booker Washington."

SOURCE: Lila Rutherford (86), Newberry, S.C., RFD Interviewer: G. Leland Summer, 1707 Lindsey St., Newberry, S.C.

Project #-1655 Mrs. Genevieve W. Chandler Murrells Inlet, S.C. Georgetown County


Uncle Sabe Rutledge

(Testimony given by old man born 1861, The Ark Plantation. Horry County—owned by Mr. John Tillman)

"Fust thing I realize to remember, I nuster cry to go to the old boss—old Massa—for sugar. Massa say:

"'Martha, what Newman (he call me that) crying for?' Ma say, 'Wanter come to you for sugar!'

"'Bring the boy here, Martha!'

"He gi'e me sugar.

"Boil salt? Pump! Pump! Pump it! Had a tank. Run from hill to sea. Had a platform similar to wharf. And pump on platform. Fetch good high. Go out there on platform. Force pump. My Grandmother boil salt way after Freedom. We tote water. Tote in pidgin and keeler—make out of cedar and cypress. No 'ting to crove 'em (groove 'em) compass. Dog-wood and oak rim. Give it a lap. (This was his description, with pantomime, of the way pidgin and keelers were made by plantation carpenters)

"My Grandmother had two pots going. Boil all day and all night. Biling. Boil till he ticken (thicken) Cedar paddles stir with. Chillun eat with wooden spoons. Clay pot? Just broken piece. Indian had big camping ground on beach near the Ark. After big blow you can find big piece of pot there. I see Indian. Didn't see wild one; see tame one.

"Indigo? Old man Lashie Tillman nuster plant indigo. Seed lak a flax. Put myrtle seed in with indigo to boil. Gather and boil for the traffic. All the big folkses plant that fore the rice. Rice come in circulation, do way with indigo. Nuster (used to) farm indigo just like we work our corn. Didn't have nothing but ox. And the colored folks—they came next to the ox—Hill keep advancing out. Reckon you wouldn't blieve it, but I ken cummember (Uncle Sabe stutters a bit) when all that beach been cultivate field. Must be nature for sand hill to move. Time most got too fast now for the people to live.

"Storm? Oh my Lord! Flagg Storm? Sea naturally climb right over that hill like it wasn't nothing. Water come to King Road. Reckon it would a come further if the wind didn't shift.

"Calls this 'The Ridge.' Why? I first man settle here. Oak Ridge. (It is the highest land between the Waccamaw river and the ocean.) Just name it so.

"Member the shipwreck. Two men and lady come to the Ark. Stormy time. Massa take them to town. Old anchor there now. Come a blow you kin see it. Water rise over it high tide.

"Ma tell me bout they had the to-do. Blockade at Inlet. Had 'em out to drill (The Yankees came to shore to drill.) Old man John Tillman lose all he China-a-way! (chinaware.) Every bit of his china and paints (panes of glass) out the window. Yankee gun boat sojer (soldier) to Magnolia to drill. They tack 'em (attacked 'em) to cut 'em off. When Rebs tack 'em, small boats gone back. She had to brace 'em. Shoot dem shell to brace. (Gun boat fired to frighten Rebs who were cutting Yankees off from escape) I hear old man Frank Norris—lived right beyond Vettrill Deas—I hear him (nuster come home to the Ark and trap)—I hear him say lot of 'em bog. (Ella, Agnes and Johnnie Johnson fadder been there) Bomb shell hit the hill and bury them in the sand. Had to dig out.

"Old man John Tillman my boss. Sho treat his people good. Don't see why his folks (slaves) went to blockade (tried to escape and join Yankee gun-boats). Sho treat his colored folks good. My Grandfather, Rodrick Rutledge, driver from a boy. Time he big nuff to handle it till Freedom.

"Couldn't marry widout consent of boss." (Remark from Uncle Sabe's sister, Mom Jane, who is quite acid. All her information inherited—she Freedom child) Mom Jane: "Been to devil and come back now!"

(Comparing slavery to the lower regions)

Uncle Sabe—continuing:

"Have sick house; have chillun house." (All in this section tell great tales of the 'chillun house.' Sounds a lot like the nurse houses in Russia today. All the babies were in this day nursery in care of the older women, too old for field work.) "Corn. Meat—pig, beef, fish—plenty milk." (Some cow 'coffee cow'—that is give just enough milk for the coffee.)

"Any rice?"

Aunt Jane: (interrupting) "Pick you teet (teeth) to find the rice! Great God! Now I can buy my rice!"

Uncle Sabe: "Could plant up-land rice to Ark. (This on coast away from fresh water)

"Ash cake? Meal, salt, water. Not a grease! Not a grease! See Mudder cook it many a hundred day!"

Mom Jane: "Put it in the stove today,—nothing! Rather have it any day!"

Sabe: "Wrap it in brown paper, mostly. Cows free in woods. Alligator tail good. Snail built up just like a conch (whelk). They eat good. Worms like a conch. Bile conch. Git it out shell. Grind it sausage grinder. Little onion. Black pepper. Rather eat conch than any kind of nourishment out of salt water."

Mom Jane: "Conjur? Wouldn't turn a hucks bread for 'em." (Give a crust.)

Sabe: "What God got lot out for a man he'll get it."

"Flat boat full up (with slaves trying to escape) gone down Waccamaw. Uncle Andrew Aunt the one got he eye shoot out (by patrollers) took 'em to camp on North Island. Never see so much a button and pin in my life! Small-pox in camp. Had to leave 'em.

"Captain Ben and Captain Tom fadder—look how he die! Looker the blood! Looker the people! Looker the blood! His boat call 'The Bull River.' Up and down Pee Dee river. Meet flat! Bore hole in flat and women and chillun go down! Take men off. He COME TO THIS COUNTRY. (Came down from North before Civil War) Them darnish Yankee very percruel. (Peculiar?)

"My Great-grandmother Veenia, pirate captured and took all they money in English war. (Revolution) Dem day Ladies wear bodkin fastened to long gold chain on shoulder—needle in 'em and thimble and ting. Coming down from New York to get away from English. My great grandmother little chillun. Pirate come to her Missus. Take all they money—come cut bodkin off her shoulder. Grandmother ma gone on the boat and twiss herself in Missus' skirt. Pirate put 'em off to Wilmington. Come on down settle to Pitch Landing near Socastee. Keep on till they get to Ark.

"My Great-Grandma Veenia didn't have a teet in her head—one hundred ten years old and could eat hard a bread as any we."

Uncle Sabe Rutledge Burgess, S.C.—P.O. Horry County Age 76 (Born 1861) Ark Plantation.

Project 1655 Genevieve W. Chandler Georgetown County, S.C.




"They call him Rogerick Rutledge for shortness. My Grandpa REAL name Jim. First time I big enough to realect (recollect) him he have on no pants but something built kinder like overall and have a apron. Apron button up here where my overall buckle and can be let down. All been dye with indigo. Have weave shirt—dye with blue indigo boil with myrtle seed. Myrtle seed must-a-did put the color in. Old brogan shoe on he foot. Old beaver hat on he head. Top of crown wear out and I member he have paste-board cover over with cloth and sew in he hat crown. My Grandmother wear these here gingham cloth call gingham twill.

"Now the chillun! I member I was a big boy grown when I get my first pants. All boy chillun wear a shirt——long down to knee and lower. Have belt round the middle—just like you belt to hold 'em. Chillun have not a shoe! Not a shoe for chillun on us plantation to the Old Ark. First shoe I have, Pa get a cow hide and tan it. And a man name Stalvey make my first pair of shoes. I was way near bout grown. Make the sole out the thickness of the cow hide. Short quarter. No eye—just make the hole. Last! Yes man! Yes man! Yes man! Keep 'em grease! Them shoe never wear out!

"We raise all we get to eat. Hominy, cornbread, peas, potatoes, rice. Morest we plant this here yellow corn. I cry many a day bout that yellow corn! We say, 'Pa, this here yellow corn make hominy look like he got egg cook in 'em; red corn look like hominy cook in red molasses!'

"But yellow corn stronger feed! Stronger feed! And Pa know 'em.

"Sunday come go to church in that same blue shirt! Little old pole church—(gone now)—call 'Dick Green Bay Church'. (Named for a local character.) When we go to church before freedom, Mudder and them have to have the ticket.

"Old man John Tilghman at the Ark Plantation have no overseer—have 'Driver'. Most folks on Waccamaw have overseer and 'Driver'. My Pa been the Ark 'Driver.'

"Old man Zachariah Duncan been the preacher. That the same man build the first 'Heaven Gate' church after freedom. He got drift lumber on the river and on the beach. Flat 'em—make a raft and float 'em over to the hill and the man haul 'em to 'Heaven Gate' with ox. Yes. 'Heaven Gate' built outer pick up lumber.

"Before freedom Parson Glennie—he was 'Piscopal—he would come give us a service once a month on the plantation—so mother said.

"Patches of indigo all through the woods. You know cow eat indigo. Us have too much ox! Have to haul rail all the time keep up the old fence. Woods full up with cow. Cattle loose—free. When you want beef have to hunt for 'em like we hunts deer now. I member some ox I helped broke. Pete, Bill, Jim, David. Faby was a brown. David kinder mouse color. We always have the old ox in the lead going to haul rail. Hitch the young steer on behind. Sometimes they 'give up' and the old ox pull 'em by the neck! Break ox all the time. Fun for us boys—breaking ox. So much of rail to haul!

"(You can't tell me bout this pension? Look like to me somebody trying to smother something. Letters come. Cards come. My name on outside alright. Tell me to put my name on cards and hand 'em out to my friends. Say send twenty-five cents. Next time say 'Send thirty-five cents'. He cool off then and another man—Mr. Pope come in. Got two letter from him and he tell me be still till I hear from him again. J.E. Pope. Last blank I got from Mr. Pope he say not to look for more than thirty or thirty-two dollars a month. Say there ain't going to be no two hundred a month.)

"How come I know all these Buh Rabbit story, Mudder spin you know. Have the great oak log, iron fire dog. Have we chillun to sit by the fireplace put the light-wood under—blaze up. We four chillun have to pick seed out the cotton. Work till ten o'clock at night and rise early! Mudder and Father tell you story to keep you eye open! Pick out cotton seed be we job every night in winter time—'cept Sunday! When we grow bigger, Mudder make one card. One would spin and then Mudder go to knitting. Night time picking these cotton seed out; day time in winter getting wood!

"Fall——harvest peanut, peas, 'tater!

"I member all them Buh Rabbit story! Mudder tell 'em and we laugh and wake up! They was one bout Buh Rabbit and Buh Patridge. You know Buh Patridge the onliest one get the best of Buh Rabbit!

"Buh Rabbit bet Buh Patridge (Buh Rabbit think he so sharp you know!) He bet Buh Patridge if he fly off down the road a piece and lit Buh Rabbit can find 'em.—Buh Patridge bet him he can't! So Buh Patridge take off and fly down the road a piece and lit—like a Patridge will do—lit and turn up on he back and rake the leaves over him and kiver (cover) his body all 'cept he two foots sticking up like stick!

"Now Buh Rabbit come! He hunt and he hunt and he hunt! Couldn't find 'em and he get so hot he take off he coat and hang it on Buh Patridge foots!

"He go on hunting and after while he call out,

"'Well I can't find Buh Patridge! Can't find Buh Patridge!'

"And Buh Patridge sing out,

"'Well, Buh Rabbit, here I is! You hang you coat on my feet!'

"Buh Rabbit have to pay the bet! (I don't member what the bet was). So Buh Patridge was the onliest one I ever hear bout could get the best of Buh Rabbit!

"When Father and Mudder tell them story we chillun noddin'! Some cackle out and all jump up and go back to picking out cotton seed!

"There is another one bout Buh Bear. They goes out my head. I'll think them Buh Rabbit up fore you come back Missus!"

And Uncle Sabe, who was sitting on the 'LOOK OUT' at the Floral Beach Fishery, continued to let his eyes play all over the sea like searchlights, ready to wave the black flag and march down toward the fishery holding it aloft keeping himself in a line with the fish if fish were sighted. Since way before what he called 'the big war' he and his people have eaten mullet and rice for the three fall months. His home was visited before Uncle Sabe was located and children and grand-children, wife, sister and neighbors were found seated and standing all over the kitchen floor and piazza floor and steps——each one with a generous tin plate of rice and fresh, brown, hot 'spot'——a fish not so valuable in summer but choice in fall and winter. Two hounds and a large cat worked around among the feasters for their well chewed bones.

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