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Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves Georgia Narratives, Part 3 online

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


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


Illustrated with Photographs





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


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

Larken, Julia 34
Lewis, George 47

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

Nix, Fanny 139
Nix, Henry 143

Ogletree, Lewis 146
Orford, Richard 149

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

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

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

Transcriber's Notes:

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

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

[HW: Dist 5
Ex-Slave #63]


[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[HW: Dist 1
Ex-Slave #62]

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

[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[HW: Dist 6
Ex Slave #65]

J.R. Jones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[HW: Dist 6
Ex-Slave #64]

Mary A. Crawford
Re-Search Worker

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