Source: Slave Narratives Vol. XIV. South Carolina, Part
A Folk History of Slavery in the United States From
Interviews with Former Slaves. Contributed to South Carolina, Genealogy Trails by Kim Paterson.
"I 'members when you was barefoot at de bottom; now I see you a settin' dere, gittin' bare at de top, as bare as de palm of my hand.
"I's been 'possum huntin' wid your pappy, when he lived on de Wateree, just after de war. One night us got into tribulation, I tells you! 'Twas 'bout midnight when de dogs make a tree. Your pappy climb up de tree, git 'bout halfway up, heard sumpin' dat once you hears it you never forgits, and dats de rattlin' of de rattles on a rattle snake's tail. Us both 'stinctly hear dat sound! What us do? Me on de ground, him up de tree, but where de snake? Dat was de misery, us didn't know. Dat snake give us fair warnin' though! Marster Sam (dats your pa) 'low: 'Frank, ease down on de ground; I'll just stay up here for a while.' I lay on them leaves, skeered to make a russle. Your pa up de tree skeered to go up or down! Broad daylight didn't move us. Sun come up, he look all 'round from his vantage up de tree, then come down, not 'til then, do I gits on my foots.
"Then I laugh and laugh and laugh, and ask Marster Sam how he felt. Marster Sam kinda frown and say: 'Damn I feels like hell! Git up dat tree! Don't you see dat 'possum up dere?' I say: 'But where de snake, Marster?' He say: 'Dat rattler done gone home, where me and you and dat 'possum gonna be pretty soon!'
"I b'longs to de Peays. De father of them all was, Korshaw Peay. My marster was his son, Nicholas; he was a fine man to just look at. My mistress was always tellin' him 'bout how fine and handsome-like he was. He must of got use to it; howsomever, marster grin every time she talk like dat.
"My pappy was bought from de Adamson peoples; they say they got him off de ship from Africa. He sho' was a man; he run all de other niggers 'way from my mammy and took up wid her widout askin' de marster. Her name was Lavinia. When us got free, he 'sisted on Adamson was de name us would go by. He name was William Adamson. Yes sir! my brothers was: Justus, Hillyard, and Donald, and my sisters was, Martha and Lizzettie.
"'Deed I did work befo' freedom. What I do? Hoed cotton, pick cotton, 'tend to calves and slop de pigs, under de 'vision of de overseer. Who he was? First one name Mr. Cary, he a good man. Another one Mr. Tim Gladden, burn you up whenever he just take a notion to pop his whip. Us boys run 'round in our shirt tails. He lak to see if he could lift de shirt tail widout techin' de skin. Just as often as not, though, he tech de skin. Little boy holler and Marster Tim laugh.
"Us live in quarters. Our beds was nailed to de sides of de house. Most of de chillun slept on pallets on de floor. Got water from a big spring.
"De white folks 'tend to you all right. Us had two doctors, Doctor Carlisle and Doctor James.
"I see some money, but never own any then. Had plenty to eat: Meat, bread, milk, lye hominy, horse apples, turnips, collards, pumpkins, and dat kind of truck.
"Was marster rich? How come he wasn't? He brag his land was ten miles
square and he had a thousand slaves. Them poor white folks looked up to
him lak God Almighty; they sho' did. They would have stuck their hands in
de fire if he had of asked them to do it. He had a fish pond on top of de
house and terraces wid strawberries, all over de place. See them big rock
columns down dere now? Dats all dats left of his grandness and greatness.
They done move de whippin' post dat was
"I ain't a complainin'. He was a good master, bestest in de land, but he just have to have a whippin' post, 'cause you'll find a whole passle of bad niggers when you gits a thousand of them in one flock.
"Screech owl holler? Women and men turn socks and stockings wrong side out quick, dat they did, do it now, myself. I's black as a crow but I's got a white folks heart. Didn't ketch me foolin' 'round wid niggers in radical times. I's as close to white folks then as peas in a pod. Wore de red shirt and drunk a heap of brandy in Columbia, dat time us went down to General Hampton into power. I 'clare I hollered so loud goin' 'long in de procession, dat a nice white lady run out one of de houses down dere in Columbia, give me two biscuits and a drum stick of chicken, patted me on de shoulder, and say: 'Thank God for all de big black men dat can holler for Governor Hampton as loud as dis one does.' Then I hollers some more for to please dat lady, though I had to take de half chawed chicken out dis old mouth, and she laugh 'bout dat 'til she cried. She did!
"Well, I'll be rockin' 'long balance of dese days, a hollerin' for Mr. Roosevelt, just as loud as I holler then for Hampton.
"My young marsters was: Austin, Tom, and Nicholas; they was all right 'cept they tease you too hard maybe some time, and want to mix in wid de 'fairs of slave 'musements.
"Now what make you ask dat? Did me ever do any courtin'? You knows I did. Every he thing from a he king down to a bunty rooster gits cited 'bout she things. I's lay wake many nights 'bout sich things. It's de nature of a he, to take after de she. They do say dat a he angel ain't got dis to worry 'bout.
"I fust courted Martha Harrison. Us marry and jine de church. Us had nine chillun; seven of them livin'. A woman can't stand havin' chillun, lak a man. Carryin', sucklin', and 'tending to them wore her down, dat, wid de malaria of de Wateree brung her to her grave.
"I sorrow over her for weeks, maybe five months, then I got to thinking how I'd pair up wid dis one and dat one and de other one. Took to shavin' again and gwine to Winnsboro every Saturday, and different churches every Sunday. I hear a voice from de choir, one Sunday, dat makes me sit up and take notice of de gal on de off side in front. Well sir! a spasm of fright fust hit me dat I might not git her, dat I was too old for de likes of her, and dat some no 'count nigger might be in de way. In a few minutes I come to myself. I rise right up, walked into dat choir, stand by her side, and wid dis voice of mine, dat always 'tracts 'tention, jined in de hymn and out sung them all. It was easy from dat time on.
"I marry Kate at de close of dat revival. De day after de weddin', what you reckon? Don't know? Well, after gittin' breakfas' she went to de field, poke 'round her neck, basket on her head and picked two hundred pounds of cotton. Dats de kind of woman she is."
Spartanburg Dist. 4
June 14, 1937
Edited by: Elmer Turnage
"We was allowed three pounds o' meat, one quart o' molasses, grits and other things each week—plenty for us to eat.
"When freedom come, he told us we was free, and if we wanted to stay on with him, he would do the best he could for us. Most of us stayed, and after a few months, he paid wages. After eight months, some went to other places to work.
"The master's wife died and he married a daughter of Robert Gillam and moved to Greenville, S. C.
"The master always had a very big garden with plenty of vegetables. He had fifty hogs, and I helped mind the hogs. He didn't raise much cotton, but raised lots of wheat and corn. He made his own meal and flour from the mill on the creek; made home-made clothes with cards and spinning wheels.
"They cooked in wide chimneys in a kitchen which was away off from the
big house. They used pots and skillets to cook with. The hands got their
rations every Monday
"The master had his own tanyard and tanned his leather and made shoes for his hands.
"He had several overseers, white men, and some Negro foremen. They sometimes whipped the slaves, that is the overseers. Once a nigger whipped the overseer and had to run away in the woods and live so he wouldn't get caught. The nigger foremen looked after a set of slaves on any special work. They never worked at night unless it was to bring in fodder or hay when it looked like rain was coming. On rainy days, we shucked corn and cleaned up around the place.
"We had old brick ovens, lots of 'em. Some was used to make molasses from our own sugar cane we raised.
"The master had a 'sick-house' where he took sick slaves for treatment, and kept a drug store there. They didn't use old-time cures much, like herbs and barks, except sassafras root tea for the blood.
"We didn't learn to read and write, but some learned after the war.
"My father run the blacksmith shop for the master on the place. I worked around the place. The patrollers were there and we had to have a pass to get out any. The nigger children sometimes played out in the road and were chased by patrollers. The children would run into the master's place and the patrollers couldn't get them 'cause the master wouldn't let them. We had no churches for slaves, but went to the white church and set in the gallery. After freedom, niggers built 'brush harbors' on the place.
"Slaves carried news from one plantation to another by riding mules or horses. They had to be in quarters at night. I remember my mother rode side-saddle one Saturday night. I reckon she had a pass to go; she come back without being bothered.
"Some games children played was, hiding switches, marbles, and maybe others. Later on, some of de nigger boys started playing cards and got to gambling; some went to de woods to gamble.
"The old cotton gins on de farms were made of wooden screws, and it took all day to gin four bales o' cotton.
"I was one of the first trustees that helped build the first colored folks' church in the town of Greenwood. I am the only one now living. I married Alice Robinson, and had five sons and one daughter, and have five or six grandchildren.
"Abraham Lincoln, I think, was a good man; had a big reputation. Couldn't tell much about Jefferson Davis. Booker T. Washington—Everybody thinks he is a great man for the colored race.
"Of course I think slavery was bad. We is free now and better off to work. I think anybody who is any count can work and live by himself.
"I joined de church when I was 17 years old, because a big preaching was going on after freedom for the colored people.
"I think everybody should join the church and do right; can't get anywhere without it, and do good."
Source: William Ballard (88), Greenwood, S. C.
W. W. Dixon
Winnsboro, S. C.
Charley Barber lives in a shanty kind of house, situated on a plot of ground containing two acres all his own. It is a mile and a half southeast of Winnsboro, S. C. He lives with an anaemic daughter, Maggie, whose chief interests are a number of cats, about the premises, and a brindled, crumple-horned cow that she ties out to graze every morning and milks at evening.
Charley is squat of figure, short neck, popeyed, and has white hair. He tills the two acres and produces garden truck that he finds a sale for among the employees of the Winnsboro mills, just across the railroad from his home. He likes to talk, and pricks up his ears,(so to speak), whenever anything is related as having occurred in the past. He will importune those present to hear his version of the event unusual.
"Well sah, dis is a pleasure to have you call 'pon me, howsomever it be unexpected dis mornin'. Shoo! (driving the chickens out of the house) Shoo! Git out of here and go scratch a livin' for them chickens, dat's followin' you yet, and you won't wean and git to layin' again. Fust thing you know you'll be spoilin' de floor, when us is got company dis very minute. Scat! Maggie; git them cats out de chairs long 'nough for Mr. Wood to set in one whilst he's come to see me dis mornin'.
"And dat's it? You wants me to talk over de days dat am gone? How dis come 'bout and how dat come 'bout, from de day I was born, to dis very hour? Let's light, up our smokestacks befo' us begin. Maybe you wants a drink of, water. Maggie, fetch de water here!
"How old you think I is, sixty-five? My goodness! Do you hear dat
Maggie? (Rubbing his hands; his eyes shining with pleasure) Take another
look and make another
"Bless your soul Marse Wood, you know what old Mudder Shifton say? She 'low dat: 'In de year 1881, de world to an end will surely come'. I was twenty-five years old when all de niggers and most of de white folks was believin' dat old lady and lookin' for de world to come to an end in 1881. Dat was de year dat I jined de church, 'cause I wanted to make sure dat if de end did come, I'd be caught up in dat rapture dat de white Methodist preacher was preachin' 'bout and explainin' to my marster and mistress at deir house on de piazza dat year.
"I is eighty-one years old. I was born up on de Wateree River, close to Great Falls. My marster was Ozmond Barber. My mistress was name Miss Elizabeth; her de wife of Marse Ozmond. My pappy was name Jacob. My mammy went by de name of Jemima. They both come from Africa where they was born. They was 'ticed on a ship, fetch 'cross de ocean to Virginny, fetch to Winnsboro by a slave drover, and sold to my marster's father. Dat what they tell me. When they was sailin' over, dere was five or six hundred others all together down under de first deck of de ship, where they was locked in. They never did talk lak de other slaves, could just' say a few words, use deir hands, and make signs. They want deir collards, turnips, and deir 'tators, raw. They lak sweet milk so much they steal it.
"Pappy care-nothin' 'bout clothes and wouldn't wear shoes in de winter time or any time. It was 'ginst de law to bring them over here when they did, I learn since. But what is de law now and what was de law then, when bright shiny money was in sight? Money make de automobile go. Money make de train go. Money make de mare go, and at dat time I 'spect money make de ships go. Yes sir, they, my pappy and mammy, was just smuggled in dis part of de world, I bet you!
"War come on, my marster went out as a captain of de Horse Marines. A tune was much sung by de white folks on de place and took wid de niggers. It went lak dis:
'I'm Captain Jenks of de Horse Marines
"When de Yankees come they seem to have special vengeance for my white folks. They took everything they could carry off and burnt everything they couldn't carry off.
"Mistress and de chillun have to go to Chester to git a place to sleep and eat, wid kinfolks. De niggers just lay 'round de place 'til master rode in, after de war, on a horse; him have money and friends and git things goin' agin. I stay on dere 'til '76. Then I come to Winnsboro and git a job as section hand laborer on de railroad. Out of de fust money,—(I git paid off de pay train then; company run a special pay train out of Columbia to Charlotte. They stop at every station and pay de hands off at de rear end of de train in cash). Well, as I was a sayin': Out de fust money, I buys me a red shirt and dat November I votes and de fust vote I put in de box was for Governor Wade Hampton. Dat was de fust big thing I done.
"De nex' big thing I done was fall in love wid Mary Wylie. Dat come
'bout on de second pay day. De other nigger gals say her marry me for my
money but I never have believed it. White ladies do dat 'kalkilating'
trick sometime but you take a blue-gum nigger gal, all wool on de top of
her head and lak to dance and jig wid her foots, to pattin' and fiddle
music, her ain't gonna have money in de back of her head when her pick out
a man to marry. Her gonna want a man wid muscles on his arms and back
"I b'longs to de St. John Methodist Church in Middlesix, part of
Winnsboro. They was havin' a rival (revival) meetin' de night of de
earthquake, last day of August, in 1886. Folks had hardly got over de
scare of 1881, 'bout de world comin' to an end. It was on Tuesday night,
if I don't disremember, 'bout 9 o'clock. De preacher was prayin', just
after de fust sermon, but him never got to de amen part of dat prayer.
Dere come a noise or rumblin', lak far off thunder, seem lak it come from
de northwest, then de church begin to rock lak a baby's cradle. Dere was
great excitement. Old Aunt Melvina holler: 'De world comin' to de end'. De
preacher say: 'Oh, Lordy', and run out of de pulpit. Everbody run out de
church in de moonlight. When de second quake come, 'bout a minute after de
fust, somebody started up de cry: 'De devil under de church! De devil
under de church! De devil gwine to take de church on his back and run away
wid de church!' People never stop runnin' 'til they got to de court house
in town. Dere they 'clare de devil done take St. John's Church on his back
and fly away to hell wid it. Marse Henry Galliard make a speech and tell
them what it was and beg them to go home. Dat Mr. Skinner, de telegraph
man at de depot, say de main part of it was way down 'bout Charleston, too
far away for anybody to git hurt here, 'less a brick from a chimney fall
on somebody's head. De niggers mostly believes what a fine man, lak Marse
Henry, tell them. De crowd git quiet. Some of them go home but many of
them, down in de low part of town, set on de railroad track in de
moonlight, all night. I was mighty sleepy de nex' mornin' but I work on de
"Just think! Dat has been fifty-one years ago. Them was de glorious horse and buggy days. Dere was no air-ships, no autos and no radios. White folks had horses to drive. Niggers had mules to ride to a baseball game, to see white folks run lak de patarollers (patrollers) was after them and they holler lak de world was on fire."
W. W. Dixon
Winnsboro, S. C.
Ed Barber lives in a small one-room house in the midst of a cotton field on the plantation of Mr. A. M. Owens, ten miles southeast of Winnsboro, S. C. He lives alone and does his own cooking and housekeeping. He is a bright mulatto, has an erect carriage and posture, appears younger than his age, is intelligent and enjoys recounting the tales of his lifetime. His own race doesn't give him much countenance. His friends in the old days of reconstruction were white people. He presumes on such past affiliation and considers himself better than the full-blooded Negro.
"It's been a long time since I see you. Maybe you has forgot but I ain't forgot de fust time I put dese lookers on you, in '76. Does you 'members dat day? It was in a piece of pines beyond de Presbyterian Church, in Winnsboro, S. C. Us both had red shirts. You was a ridin' a gray pony and I was a ridin' a red mule, sorrel like. You say dat wasn't '76? Well, how come it wasn't? Ouillah Harrison, another nigger, was dere, though he was a man. Both of us got to arguin'. He 'low he could vote for Hampton and I couldn't, 'cause I wasn't 21. You say it was '78 'stead of '76, dat day in de pines when you was dere? Well! Well! I sho' been thinkin' all dis time it was '76.
"'Member de fight dat day when Mr. Pole Barnadore knock Mr. Blanchard down, while de speakin' was a gwine on? You does? Well, us come to common 'greement on dat, bless God!
"Them was scary times! Me bein' just half nigger and half white man, I
knowed which side de butter was on de bread. Who I see dere? Well, dere
was a string of red shirts a mile long, dat come into Winnsboro from White
Oak. And another from Flint Hill, over de Pea Ferry road, a mile long. De
bar-rooms of de town did a big
"Them red shirts was de monkey wrench in de cotton-gin of de carpet bag party. I's here to tell you. If a nigger git hungry, all he have to do is go to de white folk's house, beg for a red shirt, and explain hisself a democrat. He might not git de shirt right then but he git his belly full of everything de white folks got, and de privilege of comin' to dat trough sometime agin.
"You wants me to tell you 'bout who I is, where I born, and how old I is? Well, just cross examine me and I'll tell you de facts as best I knows how.
"I was born twelve miles east of Winnsboro, S. C. My marster say it was de 18th of January, 1860.
"My mother name Ann. Her b'long to my marster, James Barber. Dat's not a fair question when you ask me who my daddy was. Well, just say he was a white man and dat my mother never did marry nobody, while he lived. I was de onliest child my mother ever had.
"After freedom my mother raised me on de Marse Adam Barber place, up by
Rocky Mount and Mitford. I stayed dere 'til all de 'citement of politics
die down. My help was not wanted so much at de 'lection boxes, so I got to
roamin' 'round to fust one place and then another. But wheresomever I go,
I kept a thinkin' 'bout Rosa and de ripe may-pops in de field in cotton
pickin' time. I landed back to de Barber place and after a skirmish or two
wid de old folks, marry de gal de Lord always 'tended for me to marry. Her
name was Rosa Ford. You ask me if she was pretty? Dat's a strange thing.
Do you ever hear a white person say a colored woman is pretty? I never
have but befo' God when I was trampin' 'round Charleston, dere was a
church dere called St. Mark, dat all de society folks of my color went to.
No black nigger welcome dere,
"Glad you fetch me back to Rosa. Us marry and had ten chillun. Francis, Thompkins, William, Jim, Levi, Ab and Oz is dead. Katie marry a Boykin and is livin' in New York. My wife, Rosa, die on dis place of Mr. Owens.
"I lives in a house by myself. I hoes a little cotton, picks plums and blackberries but dewberries 'bout played out.
"My marster, James Barber, went through de Civil War and died. I begs you, in de name of de good white folks of '76 and Wade Hampton, not to forget me in dis old age pension business.
"What I think of Abe Lincoln? I think he was a poor buckra white man, to de likes of me. Although, I 'spects Mr. Lincoln meant well but I can't help but wish him had continued splittin' them fence rails, which they say he knowed all 'bout, and never took a hand in runnin' de government of which he knowed nothin' 'bout. Marse Jeff Davis was all right, but him oughta got out and fought some, lak General Lee, General Jackson and 'Poleon Bonaparte. Us might have won de war if he had turned up at some of de big battles lak Gettysburg, 'Chickenmaroger', and 'Applemattox'. What you think 'bout dat?
"Yes sah, I has knowed a whole lot of good white men. Marse General
Bratton, Marse Ed P. Mobley, Marse Will Durham, dat owned dis house us now
settin' in, and Dr. Henry Gibson. Does I know any good colored men? I sho'
does! Dere's Professor Benjamin Russell at Blackstock. You knows him. Then
dere was Ouillah Harrison,
W. W. Dixon
Winnsboro, S. C.
"Hope you find yourself well dis mornin', white folks. I's just common; 'spect I eats too much yesterday. You know us celebrated yesterday, 'cause it was de Fourth of July. Us had a good dinner on dis 2,000 acre farm of Mr. Owens. God bless dat white boss man! What would us old no 'count niggers do widout him? Dere's six or seven, maybe eight of us out here over eighty years old. 'Most of them is like me, not able to hit a lick of work, yet he take care of us; he sho' does.
"Mr. Owens not a member of de church but he allowed dat he done found out dat it more blessed to give than to receive, in case like us.
"You wants to know all 'bout de slavery time, de war, de Ku Kluxes and everything? My tongue too short to tell you all dat I knows. However, if it was as long as my stockin's, I could tell you a trunk full of good and easy, bad and hard, dat dis old life-stream have run over in eighty-two years. I's hoping to reach at last them green fields of Eden of de Promise Land. 'Scuse me ramblin' 'round, now just ask me questions; I bet I can answer all you ask.
"My pa name, Tom McCullough; him was a slave of old Marster John
McCullough, whose big two-story house is de oldest in Fairfield County. It
stands today on a high hill, just above de banks of Dutchman Creek. Big
road run right by dat house. My mammy name, Nicie. Her b'long to de Weir
family; de head of de family die durin' de war of freedom. I's not
supposed to know all he done, so I'll pass over dat. My mistress name,
Eliza; good mistress. Have you got down dere dat old marster just took
"Well, my pa b'longin' to one man and my mammy b'longin' to another, four or five miles apart, caused some confusion, mix-up, and heartaches. My pa have to git a pass to come to see my mammy. He come sometimes widout de pass. Patrollers catch him way up de chimney hidin' one night; they stripped him right befo' mammy and give him thirty-nine lashes, wid her cryin' and a hollerin' louder than he did.
"Us lived in a log house; handmade bedstead, wheat straw mattress, cotton pillows, plenty coverin' and plenty to eat, sich as it was. Us never git butter or sweet milk or coffee. Dat was for de white folks but in de summer time, I minds de flies off de table wid the peafowl feather brush and eat in de kitchen just what de white folks eat; them was very good eatin's I's here for to tell you. All de old slaves and them dat worked in de field, got rations and de chillun were fed at de kitchen out-house. What did they git? I 'members they got peas, hog meat, corn bread, 'lasses, and buttermilk on Sunday, then they got greens, turnips, taters, shallots, collards, and beans through de week. They were kept fat on them kind of rations.
"De fact is I can't 'member us ever had a doctor on de place; just a granny was enough at child birth. Slave women have a baby one day, up and gwine 'round de next day, singin' at her work lak nothin' unusual had happened.
"Did I ever git a whippin'? Dat I did. How many times? More than I can count on fingers and toes. What I git a whippin' for? Oh, just one thing, then another. One time I break a plate while washin' dishes and another time I spilt de milk on de dinin' room floor. It was always for somethin', sir. I needed de whippin'.
"Yes sir, I had two brothers older than me; one sister older than me and one brother younger than me.
"My young marster was killed in de war. Their names was Robert, Smith, and Jimmie. My young mistress, Sarah, married a Sutton and moved to Texas. Nancy marry Mr. Wade Rawls. Miss Janie marry Mr. Hugh Melving. At this marriage my mammy was give to Miss Janie and she was took to Texas wid her young baby, Isaiah, in her arms. I have never seen or heard tell of them from dat day to dis.
"De Yankees come and burn de gin-house and barns. Open de smokehouse, take de meat, give de slaves some, shoot de chickens, and as de mistress and girls beg so hard, they left widout burnin' de dwellin' house.
"My oldest child, Alice, is livin' and is fifty-one years old de 10th of dis last May gone. My first husband was Levi Young; us lived wid Mr. Knox Picket some years after freedom. We moved to Mr. Rubin Lumpkin's plantation, then to George Boulwares. Well, my husband die and I took a fool notion, lak most widows, and got into slavery again. I marry Prince Barber; Mr. John Hollis, Trial Justice, tied de knot. I loved dat young nigger more than you can put down dere on paper, I did. He was black and shiny as a crow's wing. Him was white as snow to dese old eyes. Ah, the joy, de fusses, de ructions, de beatin's, and de makin' ups us had on de Ed Shannon place where us lived. Us stay dere seven long years.
"Then de Klu Kluxes comed and lak to scared de life out of me. They ask
where Prince was, searched de house and go away. Prince come home 'bout
daylight. Us took fright, went to Marster Will Durham's and asked for
advice and protection. Marster Will Durham fixed it up. Next year us moved
to dis place, he own it then but Marster
"Prince die on dis place and I is left on de mercy of Marster Arthur, livin' in a house wid two grandchillun, James twelve years, and John Roosevelt Barber, eight years old. Dese boys can work a little. They can pick cotton and tote water in de field for de hands and marster say: 'Every little help'.
"My livin' chillun ain't no help to me. Dere's Willie, I don't know where he is. Prince is wid Mr. Freeman on de river. Maggie is here on de place but she no good to me.
"I 'spect when I gits to drawin' down dat pension de white folks say is comin', then dere will be more folks playin' in my backyard than dere is today."
W. W. Dixon
Winnsboro, S. C.
Anderson Bates lives with his son-in-law and daughter, Ed and Dora Owens, in a three-room frame house, on lands of Mr. Dan Heyward, near the Winnsboro Granite Company, Winnsboro, S. C. Anderson and his wife occupy one of the rooms and his rent is free. His son-in-law has regular employment at the Winnsboro Cotton Mills. His wife, Carrie, looks after the house. Anderson and his daughter, Dora, are day laborers on the neighborhood farms, but he is able to do very little work.
"I was born on de old Dr. Furman place, near Jenkinsville, S. C., in de year, 1850. My pappy was name Nat and mammy name Winnie. They was slaves of old Dr. Furman, dat have a big plantation, one hundred slaves, and a whole lot of little slave chillun, dat him wouldn't let work. They run 'round in de plum thickets, blackberry bushes, hunt wild strawberries, blow cane whistles, and have a good time.
"De old Dr. Furman house is ramshackle but it is still standin' out dere and is used as a shelter for sawmill hands dat is cuttin' down de big pines and sawin' them on de place.
"Where did my pappy and mammy come from? Mammy was born a slave in de Furman family in Charleston, but pappy was bought out of a drove dat a Baltimore speculator fetch from Maryland long befo' de war. Doctor practice all 'round and 'bout Monticello, happen 'long one day, see my pappy and give a thousand dollars for him, to dat speculator. I thank God for dat!
"Dr. Furman, my old marster, have a brudder called Jim, dat run de Furman School, fust near Winnsboro, then it move to Greenville, S. C.
"My mistress name Nancy. Her was of de quality. Her voice was soft and quiet to de slaves. Her teach us to sing:
'Dere is a happy land, far, far 'way,
"Dere was over a thousand acres, maybe two thousand in dat old Furman place. Them sawmill folks give $30,000.00 for it, last year.
"My pappy and mammy was field hands. My brudders and sisters was: Liddie, Millie, Ria, Ella, Harriet, Thomas, Smith, and Marshall. All dead but me and Marshall.
"I was fifteen when de Yankees come thru. They took off everything, hosses, mules, cows, sheep, goats, turkeys, geese, and chickens. Hogs? Yes sah, they kill hogs and take off what parts they want and leave other parts bleedin' on de yard. When they left, old marster have to go up into Union County for rations.
"Dat's funny, you wants to set down dere 'bout my courtship and weddin'? Well, sir, I stay on de old plantation, work for my old marster, de doctor, and fell head over heels in love wid Carrie. Dere was seven more niggers a flyin' 'round dat sugar lump of a gal in de night time when I breezes in and takes charge of de fireside cheer. I knocks one down one night, kick another out de nex' night, and choke de stuffin' out of one de nex' night. I landed de three-leg stool on de head of de fourth one, de last time. Then de others carry deir 'fections to some other place than Carrie's house. Us have some hard words 'bout my bad manners, but I told her dat I couldn't 'trol my feelin's wid them fools a settin' 'round dere gigglin' wid her. I go clean crazy!
"Then us git married and go to de ten-acre quarry wid Mr. Anderson. I work dere a while and then go to Captain Macfie, then to his son, Wade, and then to Marse Rice Macfie. Then I go back to de quarry, drill and git out stone. They pay me $3.50 a day 'til de Parr Shoals Power come in wid 'lectric power drills and I was cut down to eighty cents a day. Then I say: 'Old grey hoss! Damn 'lectric toolin', I's gwine to leave.' I went to Hopewell, Virginia, and work wid de DuPonts for five years. War come on and they ask me to work on de acid area. De atmosphere dere tear all de skin off my face and arms, but I stuck it out to de end of de big war, for $7.20 a day. I drunk a good deal of liquor then, but I sent money to Carrie all de time and fetch her a roll every fourth of July and on Christmas. After de war they dismantle de plant and I come back to work for Mr. Eleazer, on de Saluda River for $2.00 a day, for five years.
"Carrie have chillun by me. Dere was Anderson, my son, ain't see him in forty years. Essie, my daughter, marry Herbert Perrin. Dora, another daughter, marry Ed Owens. Ed makes good money workin' at de factory in Winnsboro. They have seven chillun. Us tries to keep them chillun in school but they don't have de good times I had when a child, a eatin' cracklin' bread and buttermilk, liver, pig-tails, hog-ears and turnip greens.
"Does I 'member anything 'bout de Klu Kluxes? Jesus, yes! My old marster, de doctor, in goin' 'round, say out loud to people dat Klu Kluxes was doin' some things they ought not to do, by 'stortin' money out of niggers just 'cause they could.
"When he was gone to Union one day, a low-down pair of white men come,
wid false faces, to de house and ask where Dick Bell was. Miss Nancy say
her don't know.
"Nex' day, us see them a comin' again. Dick James done load up de shotgun wid buckshot. When they was comin' up de front steps, Uncle Dick say to us all in de big house: 'Git out de way!' De names of de men us find out afterwards was Bishop and Fitzgerald. They come up de steps, wid Bishop in de front. Uncle Dick open de door, slap dat gun to his shoulder, and pull de trigger. Dat man Bishop hollers: 'Oh Lordy.' He drop dead and lay dere 'til de coroner come. Fitzgerald leap 'way. They bring Dick to jail, try him right in dat court house over yonder. What did they do wid him? Well, when Marse Bill Stanton, Marse Elisha Ragsdale and Miss Nancy tell 'bout it all from de beginnin' to de end, de judge tell de jury men dat Dick had a right to protect his home, and hisself, and to kill dat white man and to turn him loose. Dat was de end of de Klu Kluxes in Fairfield."
W. W. Dixon
Winnsboro, S. C.
Anne Bell lives with her niece, in a one-room annex to a two-room frame house, on the plantation of Mr. Lake Howze, six miles west of Winnsboro, S. C. Her niece's husband, Golden Byrd, is a share-cropper on Mr. Howze's place. The old lady is still spry and energetic about the cares of housekeeping and attention to the small children of her niece. She is a delightful old lady and well worth her keep in the small chores she undertakes and performs in the household.
"My marster was John Glazier Rabb; us call him Marse Glazier. My mistress was Nancy Kincaid Watts; us call her Miss Nancy. They lived on a big plantation in Fairfield County and dere I come into dis world, eighty-three years ago, 10th day of April past.
"My pappy name just Andy but after de freedom, he took de name of Andrew Watts. My old mammy was Harriett but she come to you if you calls her Hattie. My brudders was Jake and Rafe. My sister name Charity. They all dead and gone to glory long time ago; left me here 'lone by myself and I's settin' here tellin' you 'bout them.
"My mammy was de cook at de 'Big House' for marster, Miss Nancy, and de chillun. Let me see if I can call them over in my mind. Dere was Marse John, went off to de war, color bearer at Seven Pines. Yes sir, him was killed wid de colors a flyin' in his hand. Heard tell of it many times. He lies right now in de old Buck Church graveyard. De pine trees, seven of them, cry and sob 'round him every August 6th; dat's de day he was killed. Oh, my God!
"Marse James went wid old Colonel Rion. They say he got shot but bullets couldn't kill him. No, bless God! Him comed back. Then come Marse Clarence. He went wid Captain Jim Macfie, went through it all and didn't get a scratch. Next was Miss Jesse. Then come Marse Horace, and Miss Nina. Us chillun all played together. Marse Horace is livin' yet and is a fine A. R.P. preacher of de Word. Miss Nina a rich lady, got plantation but live 'mong de big bugs in Winnsboro. She married Mr. Castles; she is a widow now. He was a good man, but he dead now.
"De one I minds next, is Charlie. I nussed him. He married Colonel Province's daughter. Dat's all I can call to mind, right now.
"Course de white folks I b'longs to, had more slaves than I got fingers and toes; whole families of them. De carpenter and de blacksmith on de place made de bedsteads. Us had good wheat straw mattresses to sleep on; cotton quilts, spreads, and cotton pillows. No trouble to sleep but it was hard to hear dat white overseer say at day break: 'Let me hear them foots hit de floor and dat befo' I go! Be lively! Hear me?' And you had to answer, 'Yas sah', befo' he'd move on to de nex' house. I does 'member de parts of de bed, was held together by wooden pins. I sho' 'members dat!
"Mammy Harriett was de cook. I didn't done no work but 'tend to de chillun and tote water.
"Money? Go 'way from here, boss! Lord, no sir, I never saw no money. What I want wid it anyhow?
"How did they feed us? Had better things to eat then, than now and more different kind of somethin's. Us had pears, 'lasses, shorts, middlings of de wheat, corn bread, and all kinds of milk and vegetables.
"Got a whuppin' once. They wanted me to go after de turkeys and I didn't want to go past de graveyard, where de turkeys was. I sho' didn't want to go by them graves. I's scared now to go by a graveyard in de dark. I took de whuppin' and somebody else must have got de turkeys. Sho' I didn't drive them up!
"Slaves spun de thread, loomed de cloth, and made de clothes for de plantation. Don't believe I had any shoes. I was just a small gal anyhow then, didn't need them and didn't want them.
"Yes, I's seen nigger women plow. Church? I wouldn't fool you, all de slaves big enough and not sick, had to go to church on de Sabbath.
"They give us a half Saturday, to do as we like.
"I was 'bout ten years old when de Yankees come. They was full to de brim wid mischief. They took de frocks out de presses and put them on and laugh and carry on powerful. Befo' they went they took everything. They took de meat and 'visions out de smoke-house, and de 'lasses, sugar, flour, and meal out de house. Killed de pigs and cows, burnt de gin-house and cotton, and took off de live stock, geese, chickens and turkeys.
"After de freedom, I stayed on wid mammy right dere, 'til I married
Levi Bell. I's had two chillun. Dis my grand-daughter, I visitin'. I never
'spects to have as good a home as I had in slavery time, 'til I gits my
title to dat mansion in de sky. Dats de reason I likes to sing dat old
plantation spiritual, 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Jesus Gwinter Carry me
Home'. Does I believe in 'ligion? What else good for colored folks? I ask
you if dere ain't a heaven, what's colored folks got to look forward to?
They can't git anywhere down here. De only joy they can have here, is
servin' and lovin'; us can git dat in 'ligion but dere is a limit to de
nigger in everything else. Course I
W. W. Dixon
Winnsboro, S. C.
Andy Brice lives with his wife and two small children, about twelve miles east of Ridgeway, S. C., in a two-room frame building, chimney in the center. The house is set in a little cluster of pines one hundred and fifty yards north of state highway #34. Andy, since the amputation of his right leg five years ago, has done no work and is too old to learn a trade. He has a regular beggar's route including the towns of Ridgeway, Winnsboro, Woodward, and Blackstock. His amiability and good nature enable him to go home after each trip with a little money and a pack of miscellaneous gifts from white friends.
"Howdy Cap'n! I come to Winnsboro dis mornin' from way 'cross Wateree, where I live now 'mongst de bull-frogs and skeeters. Seem lak they just sing de whole night thru: 'De bull-frog on de bank, and de skeeter in de pool.' Then de skeeter sail 'round my face wid de tra la, la la la, la la la part of dat old song you is heard, maybe many times.
"I see a spit-box over dere. By chance, have you got any 'bacco? Make me more glib if I can chew and spit; then I 'members more and better de things done past and gone.
"I was a slave of Mistress Jane. Her was a daughter of old Marster William Brice. Her marry Henry Younge and mammy was give to Marse Henry and Miss Jane.
"My pappy name Tony. Mammy name Sallie. You is seen her a many a day.
Marse Henry got kilt in de war. His tombstone and Mistress Jane's
tombstone am in Concord Cemetery. They left two chillun, Miss Kittie and
Miss Maggie. They both marry a Caldwell; same name but no kin. Miss Kittie
marry Marse Joe Caldwell and move to
"My pappy die durin' de war. After freedom, mammy marry a ugly, no 'count nigger name Mills Douglas. She had one child by him, name Janie. My mammy name her dat out of memory and love for old mistress, in slavery time. I run away from de home of my step-pappy and got work wid Major Thomas Brice. I work for him 'til I become a full grown man and come to be de driver of de four-hoss wagon.
"One day I see Marse Thomas a twistin' de ears on a fiddle and rosinin' de bow. Then he pull dat bow 'cross de belly of dat fiddle. Sumpin' bust loose in me and sing all thru my head and tingle in my fingers. I make up my mind, right then and dere, to save and buy me a fiddle. I got one dat Christmas, bless God! I learn and been playin' de fiddle ever since. I pat one foot while I playin'. I kept on playin' and pattin' dat foot for thirty years. I lose dat foot in a smash up wid a highway accident but I play de old tunes on dat fiddle at night, dat foot seem to be dere at de end of dat leg (indicating) and pats just de same. Sometime I ketch myself lookin' down to see if it have come back and jined itself up to dat leg, from de very charm of de music I makin' wid de fiddle and de bow.
"I never was very popular wid my own color. They say behind my back, in
'76, dat I's a white folks nigger. I wear a red shirt then, drink red
liquor, play de fiddle at de 'lection box, and vote de white folks ticket.
Who I marry? I marry Ellen Watson, as pretty a ginger cake nigger as ever
fried a batter cake or rolled her arms up in a wash tub. How I git her? I
never git her; dat fiddle got her. I play for all de white folks dances
down at Cedar Shades, up at Blackstock. De money roll in when someone pass
'round de hat and say: 'De fiddler?' Ellen had more beaux 'round her than
her could shake a stick at but de beau she lak best was de bow dat could
draw music out of
"I 'members very little 'bout de war, tho' I was a good size boy when de Yankees come. By instint, a nigger can make up his mind pretty quick 'bout de creed of white folks, whether they am buckra or whether they am not. Every Yankee I see had de stamp of poor white trash on them. They strutted 'round, big Ike fashion, a bustin' in rooms widout knockin', talkin' free to de white ladies, and familiar to de slave gals, ransackin' drawers, and runnin' deir bayonets into feather beds, and into de flower beds in de yards.
"What church I b'long to? None. Dat fiddle draws down from hebben all de sermons dat I understan'. I sings de hymns in de way I praise and glorify de Lord.
"Cotton pickin' was de biggest work I ever did, outside of drivin' a wagon and playin' de fiddle. Look at them fingers; they is supple. I carry two rows of cotton at a time. One week I pick, in a race wid others, over 300 pounds a day. Commencin' Monday, thru Friday night, I pick 1,562 pounds cotton seed. Dat make a bale weighin' 500 pounds, in de lint.
"Ellen and me have one child, Sallie Ann. Ellen 'joy herself; have a good time nussin' white folks chillun. Nussed you; she tell me 'bout it many time. 'Spect she mind you of it very often. I knows you couldn't git 'round dat woman; nobody could. De Lord took her home fifteen years ago and I marry a widow, Ida Belton, down on de Kershaw County side.
"You wants me to tell 'bout dat 'lection day at Woodward, in 1878? You
wants to know de beginnin' and de end of it? Yes? Well, you couldn't wet
dis old man's whistle wid a swallow of red liquor now? Couldn't you or
could you? Dis was de way of it: It was set for Tuesday. Monday I drive de
four-hoss wagon down to dis very town.
"De nex' mornin', polls open in de little school house by de brick church. I was dere on time, help to fix de table by de window and set de ballot boxes on it. Voters could come to de window, put deir arms thru and tuck de vote in a slit in de boxes. Dere was two supervisors, Marse Thomas for de Democrats and Uncle Jordan for de Radicals. Marse Thomas had a book and a pencil, Uncle Jordan had de same.
"Joe Foster, big buckra nigger, want to vote a stranger. Marse Thomas
challenge dis vote. In them times colored preachers so 'furiate de women,
dat they would put on breeches and vote de 'Publican radical ticket. De
stranger look lak a woman. Joe Foster 'spute Marse Thomas' word and Marse
Thomas knock him down wid de naked fist. Marse Irish Billy Brice, when him
see four or five hindred blacks crowdin' 'round Marse Thomas, he jump thru
de window from de inside. When he lit on de ground, pistol went off pow!
One nigger drop in his tracks. Sixteen men come from nowhere and sixteen,
sixteen shooters. Marse Thomas hold up his hand to them and say: 'Wait!'
Him point to de niggers and say: 'Git.' They start to runnin' 'cross de
railroad, over de hillside and never quit runnin' 'til they git half a
mile away. De only niggers left on dat ground was me, old Uncle Kantz,
(you know de old mulatto, club-foot nigger) well, me and him and Albert
Gladney, de hurt nigger dat was shot thru
W. W. Dixon
Winnsboro, S. C.
"Does you recollect de Galloway place just dis side of White Oak? Well dere's where I was born. When? Can't name de 'zact year but my ma say, no stork bird never fetch me but de fust railroad train dat come up de railroad track, when they built de line, fetched me. She say I was a baby, settin' on de cow-ketcher, and she see me and say to pa: 'Reubin, run out dere and get our baby befo' her falls off and gets hurt under them wheels! Do you know I believed dat tale 'til I was a big girl? Sure did, 'til white folks laugh me out of it!
"My ma was name Louisa. My marster was Billie Brice, but 'spect God done write sumpin' else on he forehead by dis time. He was a cruel marster; he whip me just for runnin' to de gate for to see de train run by. My missus was a pretty woman, flaxen hair, blue eyes, name Mary Simonton, 'til she marry.
"Us live in a two-room plank house. Plenty to eat and enough to wear 'cept de boys run 'round in their shirt tails and de girls just a one-piece homespun slip on in de summer time. Dat was not a hardship then. Us didn't know and didn't care nothin' 'bout a 'spectable 'pearance in those days. Dats de truth, us didn't.
"Gran'pa name Obe; gran'ma, name Rachel. Shoes? A child never have a shoe. Slaves wore wooden bottom shoes.
"My white folks went to New Hope Church. Deir chillun was mighty good
to us all. Dere was Miss Martha, her marry Doctor Madden, right here at
Winnsboro. Miss Mary marry Marster John Vinson, a little polite smilin'
man, nice man, though. Then Miss Jane marry Marster John Young. He passed
out, leavin' two lovely chillun,
"It was a big place, I tell you, and heaps and heaps of slaves. Some times they git too many and sell them off. My old mistress cry 'bout dat but tears didn't count wid old marster, as long as de money come a runnin' in and de rations stayed in de smoke house.
"Us had a fine carriage. Sam was de driver. Us go to Concord one Sunday and new Hope de next. Had quality fair neighbors. Dere was de Cockerells, 'Piscopalians, dat 'tend St. John in Winnsboro, de Adgers, big buckra, went to Zion in Winnsboro. Marster Burr Cockerell was de sheriff. 'Members he had to hang a man once, right in de open jailyard. Then dere was a poor buckra family name Marshall. Our white folks was good to them, 'cause they say his pappy was close kin to de biggest Jedge of our country, John Marshall.
"When de slaves got bad off sick, marster send for Dr. Walter Brice, his kin folks. Some times he might send for Dr. Madden, him's son-in-law, as how he was.
"When de Yankees come, all de young marsters was off in de 'Federate side. I see them now, gallopin' to de house, canteen boxes on their hips and de bayonets rattlin' by deir sides. De fust thing they ask, was: 'You got any wine?' They search de house; make us sing: 'Good Old Time 'Ligion'; put us to runnin' after de chickens and a cookin'. When they leave they burnt de gin house and everything in dere. They burn de smoke-house and wind up wid burnin' de big house.
"You through wid me now, boss? I sho' is glad of dat. Help all you kin to git me dat pension befo' I die and de Lord will bless you, honey. De Lord not gwine to hold His hand any longer 'ginst us. Us cleared de forests, built de railroads, cleaned up de swamps, and nursed de white folks. Now in our old ages, I hopes they lets de old slaves like me see de shine of some of dat money I hears so much talk 'bout. They say it's free as de gift of grace from de hand of de Lord. Good mornin' and God bless you, will be my prayer always. Has you got a dime to give dis old nigger, boss?"
W. W. Dixon,
Winnsboro, S. C.
JOHN C. BROWN AND ADELINE
John C. Brown and his wife, Adeline, who is eleven years older than himself, live in a ramshackle four-room frame house in the midst of a cotton field, six miles west of Woodward, S. C. John assisted in laying the foundation and building the house forty-four years ago. A single china-berry tree, gnarled but stately, adds to, rather than detracts from, the loneliness of the dilapidated house. The premises and thereabout are owned by the Federal Land Bank. The occupants pay no rent. Neither of them are able to work. They have been fed by charity and the W. P. A. for the past eighteen months.
"Where and when I born? Well, dat'll take some 'hear say', Mister. I never knowed my mammy. They say she was a white lady dat visited my old marster and mistress. Dat I was found in a basket, dressed in nice baby clothes, on de railroad track at Dawkins, S. C. De engineer stop de train, got out, and found me sumpin' like de princess found Moses, but not in de bulrushes. Him turn me over to de conductor. De conductor carry me to de station at Dawkins, where Marse Tom Dawkins come to meet de train dat mornin' and claim me as found on his land. Him say him had de best right to me. De conductor didn't 'ject to dat. Marse Tom carry me home and give me to Miss Betsy. Dat was his wife and my mistress. Her always say dat Sheton Brown was my father. He was one of de slaves on de place; de carriage driver. After freedom he tell me he was my real pappy. Him took de name of Brown and dat's what I go by.
"My father was a ginger-bread colored man, not a full-blooded nigger. Dat's how I is altogether yallow. See dat lady over dere in dat chair? Dat's my wife. Her brighter skinned than I is. How come dat? Her daddy was a full-blooded Irishman. He come over here from Ireland and was overseer for Marse Bob Clowney. He took a fancy for Adeline's mammy, a bright 'latto gal slave on de place. White women in them days looked down on overseers as poor white trash. Him couldn't git a white wife but made de best of it by puttin' in his spare time a honeyin' 'round Adeline's mammy. Marse Bob stuck to him, and never 'jected to it.
"When de war come on, Marse Richard, de overseer, shoulder his gun as a soldier and, as him was educated more than most of de white folks, him rise to be captain in de Confederate Army. It's a pity him got kilt in dat war.
"My marster, Tom Dawkins, have a fine mansion. He owned all de land 'round Dawkins and had 'bout 200 slaves, dat lived in good houses and was we well fed. My pappy was de man dat run de mill and grind de wheat and corn into flour and meal. Him never work in de field. He was 'bove dat. Him 'tend to de ginnin' of de cotton and drive de carriage.
"De Yankees come and burn de mansion, de gin-house and de mill. They take all de sheep, mules, cows, hogs and even de chickens. Set de slaves free and us niggers have a hard time ever since.
"My black stepmammy was so mean to me dat I run away. I didn't know
where to go but landed up, one night, at Adeline's mammy's and steppappy's
house, on Marse Bob Clowney's place. They had been slaves of Marse Bob and
was livin' and workin' for him. I knock on de door. Mammy Charity, dat's
Adeline's mammy, say: 'Who
"When Adeline open dat door, I look her in de eyes. Her eyes melt towards me wid a look I never see befo' nor since. Mind you, I was just a boy fourteen, I 'spects, and her a woman twenty-five then. Her say: 'You darlin' little fellow; come right in to de fire.' Oh, my! She took on over me! Us wait 'til her pappy come in. Then him say: 'What us gonna do wid him?' Adeline say: 'Us gonna keep him.' Pappy say: 'Where he gonna sleep?' Adeline look funny. Mammy say: 'Us'll fix him a pallet by de fire.' Adeline clap her hands and say: 'You don't mind dat, does you boy?' I say: 'No ma'am, I is slept dat way many a time.'
"Well, I work for Marse Bob Clowney and stayed wid Adeline's folks two years. I sure made myself useful in dat family. Never 'spicioned what Adeline had in her head, 'til one day I climbed up a hickory nut tree, flail de nuts down, come down and was helpin' to pick them up when she bump her head 'ginst mine and say: 'Oh, Lordy!' Then I pat and rub her head and it come over me what was in dat head! Us went to de house and her told de folks dat us gwine to marry.
"Her led me to de altar dat nex' Sunday. Gived her name to de preacher as Adeline Cabean. I give de name of John Clowney Brown. Marse Bob was dere and laugh when de preacher call my name, 'John Clowney Brown'.
"Our chillun come pretty fast. I was workin' for $45.00 a year, wid
rations. Us had three pounds of bacon, a peck of meal, two cups of flour,
one quart of 'lasses, and
"Us never left Marse Robert as long as him lived. When us have four chillun, him increase de amount of flour to four cups and de 'lasses to two quarts. Then him built dis house for de old folks and Adeline and de chillun to live in. I help to build it forty-four years ago. Our chillun was Clarice, Jim, John, Charity, Tom, Richard, and Adeline.
"I followed Marse Robert Clowney in politics, wore a red shirt, and voted for him to go to de Legislature. Him was 'lected dat time but never cared for it no more.
"Adeline b'long to de church. Always after me to jine but I can't believe dere is anything to it, though I believes in de law and de Ten Commandments. Preacher calls me a infidel. Can't help it. They is maybe got me figured out wrong. I believes in a Great Spirit but, in my time, I is seen so many good dogs and hosses and so many mean niggers and white folks, dat I 'clare, I is confused on de subject. Then I can't believe in a hell and everlastin' brimstone. I just think dat people is lak grains of corn: dere is some good grains and some rotten grains. De good grains is res'rected, de rotten grains never sprout again. Good people come up again and flourish in de green fields of Eden. Bad people no come up. Deir bodies and bones just make phosphate guano, 'round de roots of de ever bloomin' tree of life. They lie so much in dis world, maybe de Lord will just make 'lie' soap out of them. What you think else they would be fit for?"
W. W. Dixon
Winnsboro, S. C.
SAVILLA BURRELL, EX-SLAVE, 83 YEARS
"Our preacher, Beaty, told me that you wanted to see me today. I walked three miles dis mornin' before the sun gits hot to dis house. Dis house is my grand daughter's house. Willie Caldwell, her husband, work down to de cotton mill. Him make good money and take good care of her, bless the Lord, I say."
"My Marster in slavery time was Captain Tom Still. He had big plantation down dere on Jackson Crick. My Mistress name was Mary Ann, though she wasn't his fust wife—jest a second wife, and a widow when she captivated him. You know widows is like dat anyhow, 'cause day done had 'sperience wid mens and wraps dem 'round their little finger and git dem under their thumb 'fore the mens knows what gwine on. Young gals have a poor chance against a young widow like Miss Mary Ann was. Her had her troubles with Marse Tom after her git him, I tell you, but maybe best not to tell dat right now anyways."
"Marse Tom had four chillun by his fust wife, dey was John, Sam, Henretta and I can't 'member de name of the other one; least right now. Dey teached me to call chillun three years old, young Marse and say Missie. Dey whip you if dey ever hear you say old Marse or old Missie. Dat riled dem."
"My pappy name Sam. My mother name Mary. My pappy did not live on the same place as mother. He was a slave of de Hamiltons, and he got a pass sometimes to come and be with her; not often. Grandmammy name Ester and she belonged to our Marse Tom Still, too."
"Us lived in a log cabin wid a stick chimney. One time de sticks got afire and burnt a big hole in de back of de chimney in cold winter time wid the wind blowing, and dat house was filled wid fire-sparks, ashes, and smoke for weeks 'fore dey tore dat chimney down and built another jest like the old one. De bed was nailed to de side of de walls. How many rooms? Jest one room."
"Never seen any money. How many slaves? So many you couldn't count dem. Dere was plenty to eat sich as it was, but in the summer time before us git dere to eat de flies would be all over de food and some was swimmin' in de gravy and milk pots. Marse laugh 'bout dat, and say, it made us fat."
"Dey sell one of mother's chillun once, and when she take on and cry 'bout it, Marse say, 'stop dat sniffin' dere if you don't want to git a whippin'.' She grieve and cry at night 'bout it. Clothes? Yes Sir, us half naked all de time. Grown boys went 'round bare footed and in dey shirt tail all de summer."
"Marse was a rich man. 'Fore Christmus dey would kill thirty hogs and after Christmus, thirty more hogs. He had a big gin house and sheep, goats, cows, mules, hosses, turkeys, geese, and a stallion; I members his name, Stockin'-Foot. Us little niggers was skeered to death of dat stallion. Mothers used to say to chillun to quiet dem, 'Better hush, Stockin'-Foot will git you and tramp you down.' Any child would git quiet at dat."
"Old Marse was de daddy of some mulatto chillun. De 'lations wid de mothers of dese chillun is what give so much grief to Mistress. De neighbors would talk 'bout it and he would sell all dem chillun away from dey mothers to a trader. My Mistress would cry 'bout dat.
"Our doctor was old Marse son-in-law, Dr. Martin. I seen him cup a man
once. He was a good doctor. He give slaves castor oil, bleed dem some
times and make dem
"Us looked for the Yankees on dat place like us look now for de Savior and de host of angels at de second comin'. Dey come one day in February. Dey took everything carryable off de plantation and burnt de big house, stables, barns, gin house and dey left the slave houses."
"After de war I marry Osborne Burrell and live on de Tom Jordan place. I'se de mother of twelve chillun. Jest three livin' now. I lives wid the Mills family three miles 'bove town. My son Willie got killed at de DuPont Powder Plant at Hopewell, Virginia, during de World War. Dis house you settin' in belongs to Charlie Caldwell. He marry my grand daughter, Willie B. She is twenty-three years old."
"Young Marse Sam Still got killed in de Civil War. Old Marse live on. I went to see him in his last days and I set by him and kept de flies off while dere. I see the lines of sorrow had plowed on dat old face and I 'membered he'd been a captain on hoss back in dat war. It come into my 'membrance de song of Moses; 'de Lord had triumphed glorily and de hoss and his rider have been throwed into de sea'."
"You been good to listen. Dis is the fust time I can git to speak my mind like dis mornin'. All de' people seem runnin' here and yonder, after dis and after dat. Dere is a nudder old slave, I'se gwine to bring him down here Saturday and talk to you again."
W. W. Dixon,
Winnsboro, S. C.
Nelson Cameron and his wife, Mary, together with a widowed daughter, Rose, and her six children, live in a four-room frame house, two miles south of Woodward, S. C., about sixty yards east of US highway #21. He cultivates about eighty acres of land, on shares of the crop, for Mr. Brice, the land owner. He is a good, respectable, cheerful old darkey, and devoted to his wife and grandchildren.
"Marse Wood, Ned Walker, a old Gaillard nigger says as how he was down here t'other day sellin' chickens, where he got them chickens I's not here for to say, and say you wanna see me. I's here befo' you and pleads guilty to de charge dat I'm old, can't work much any longer, and is poor and needy.
"You sees dere's a window pane out of my britches seat and drainage holes in both my shoes, to let de sweat out when I walks to Bethel Church on Sunday. Whut can you and Mr. Roosevelt do for dis old Izrallite a passin' thru de wilderness on de way to de Promise Land? Lak to have a little manna and quail, befo' I gits to de river Jordan.
"My old marster name Sam Brice. His wife, my mistress, tho' fair as de lily of de valley and cheeks as pink as de rose of Sharon, is called 'Darkie.' Dat always seem a misfit to me. Lily or Rose or Daisy would have suited her much more better, wid her laces, frills, flounces, and ribbons. Her mighty good to de slaves. Take deir part 'ginst de marster sometime, when him want to whup them. Sometime I sit on de door-steps and speculate in de moonlight whut de angels am like and everytime, my mistress is de picture dat come into dis old gray head of mine. You say you don't want po'try, you wants facts?
"Well, here de facts: My mammy name Clara. Don't forgit dat. I come back to her directly. My young mistress was Miss Maggie. Her marry Marse Robert Clowney; they call him 'Red-head Bob.' Him have jet red hair. Him was 'lected and went to de Legislature once. No go back; he say dere too much ding dong do-nuttin' foolishness down dere for him to leave home and stay 'way from de wife and chillun half de winter months.
"Marse Sam never have so pow'ful many slaves. Seem lak dere was more women and chillun than men. In them days, pa tell me, a white man raise niggers just lak a man raise horses or cows. Have a whole lot of mares and 'pendin' on other man to have de stallion. Fust thing you know dere would be a whole lot of colts kickin' up deir heels on de place. Lakwise a white man start out wid a few women folk slaves, soon him have a plantation full of little niggers runnin' 'round in deir shirt-tails and a kickin' up deir heels, whilst deir mammies was in de field a hoeing and geeing at de plow handles, workin' lak a man. You ketch de point? Well I's one of them little niggers. My pa name Vander. Him b'long to one of de big bugs, old Marse Gregg Cameron. Marse Gregg, him 'low, always have more money and niggers than you could shake a stick at, more land than you could walk over in a day, and more cuss words than you could find in de dictionary. His bark was worser than his bite, tho'. Pa was de tan-yard man; he make leather and make de shoes for de plantation. After freedom date, de way he make a livin' for mammy and us chillun was by makin' boots and shoes and half solin' them for white folks at Blackstock, S. C. Marse Sam Brice mighty glad for mammy to contact sich a man to be de pappy of her chillun.
"Us live in a log house wid a little porch in front and de mornin'
glory vines use to climb 'bout it. When they bloom, de bees would come a
"Freedom come, pa come straight as a martin to his gourd, to mammy and us pickaninnies. They send us to school at Blackstock and us walk fourteen miles, and back, every day to school. At school I meets Mary Stroud, a gal comin' from de Gaillard quarter. Her eyes was lak twin stars. Her hair lak a swarm of bees. All my studyin' books was changed to studyin' how to git dat swarm of bees in a hive by myself. One day I walk home from school with her and git old Uncle Tom Walker to marry us, for de forty cents I saved up. Us happy ever since. Nex' year I work for Ben Calvin, a colored man on de Cockerell place, jinin' de Gaillard place. Us did dat to be near her pappy, Uncle Morris Stroud.
"All thru them 'Carpet Bag' days my pappy stuck to de white folks, and
went 'long wid de Ku Kluxes. His young mistress, Miss Harriet Cameron,
marry de Grand Titan of all de Holy invisible Roman Empire. Him name was
Col. Leroy McAfee. Pappy tell me all 'bout it. Marse Col. McAfee come down
from North Ca'lina, and see Marse Feaster Cameron at old Marse Gregg
Cameron's home and want Marse Feaster to take charge down in dis State.
While on dat visit him fall in love wid Marse Feas's sister, Harriet, and
marry her. You say Marse Tom Dixon dedicate a book to her, de Clansman?
Well, well, well! To think of dat. Wish my pappy could a knowed dat, de
Sundays he'd take dat long walk to Concord Church to put flowers on her
grave. They all lie dere in dat graveyard, Old Marse Gregg, Marse Leroy,
Miss Harriet, and Marse Feas. De day they bury Marse Feas de whole county
was dere and both men and women sob when de red earth rumbled on his
coffin top. Pappy had me by de hand and cried lak
"Does you 'member de time in 1884, when my pappy made you a pair of boots for $10.00 and when you pay him, him knock off one dollar and you pay him nine dollars? You does? Well dat is fine, for I sure need dat dollar dis very day.
"Does I 'member de day old Marse Gregg die? 'Course I does. It happen right here in Winnsboro. Him come down to 'tend John Robinson's Circus. Him lak Scotch liquor; de tar smell, de taste, and de 'fect, take him back to Scotland where him generate from. Them was bar-room days in Winnsboro. De two hotels had bar-rooms, besides de other nine in town. Marse Gregg had just finished his drink of Scotch. De parade of de circus was passing de hotel where he was, and de steam piano come by a tootin'. Marse Gregg jump up to go to de street to see it. When it pass, him say: 'It's a damn humbug' and drop dead."
W. W. Dixon
Winnsboro, S. C.
"Good mornin' Marster Wood! Marster Donan McCants and Marster Wardlaw McCants both been tellin' me dat how you wants to see me but I's been so poorly and down at de heels, in my way of feelin', dat I just ain't of a mind or disposition to walk up dere to de town clock, where they say you want me to come. Take dis bench seat under de honey suckle vine. It shade you from de sun. It sho' is hot! I's surprise dat you take de walk down here to see a onery old man lak me.
"Yes sir, I was born, 'cordin' to de writin' in de Book, de 15th day of March, 1855, in de Horeb section of Fairfield District, a slave of old Marster John Kennedy. How it was, I don't know. Things is a little mixed in my mind. Fust thing I 'members, and dreams 'bout sometimes yet, is bein' in Charleston, standin' on de battery, seein' a big ocean of water, wid ships and their white sails all 'bout, de waves leapin' and gleamin' 'bout de flanks of de ships in de bright sunshine, thousands of white birds flyin' 'round and sometimes lighting on de water. My mammy, her name Chanie, was a holdin' my hand and her other hand was on de handle of a baby carriage and in dat carriage was one of de Logan chillun. Whether us b'long to de Logans or whether us was just hired out to them I's unable to 'member dat. De slaves called him Marster Tom. Us come back to Fairfield in my fust childhood, to de Kennedy's.
"Marster John Kennedy raise more niggers than he have use for; sometime he sell them, sometime he hire them out. Him sell mammy and me to Marster James B. McCants and I been in de McCants family ever since, bless God!
"Marse James was a great lawyer in his day. I was his house boy and office boy. When I get older I take on, besides de blackin' of his boots and shoes and sweepin' out de office, de position of carriage driver and sweepin' out de church. Marster James was very 'ligious. Who my pa was? Dat has never been revealed to me. Thank God! I never had one, if they was lak I see nigger chillun have today. My white folks was all de parents I had and me wid a skin as black as ink. My belly was always full of what they had and I never suffer for clothes on my back or shoes on my feets.
"Does I 'members de Yankees? Yes sir, I 'member when they come. It was cold weather, February, now dat I think of it. Oh, de sights of them days. They camp all 'round up at Mt. Zion College and stable their hosses in one of de rooms. They gallop here and yonder and burn de 'Piscopal Church on Sunday mornin'. A holy war they called it, but they and Wheeler's men was a holy terror to dis part of de world, as naked and hungry as they left it. I marry Savannah Parnell and of all our chillun, dere is just one left, a daughter, Izetta. Her in Tampa, Florida.
"Does I 'members anything 'bout de Ku Klux? No sir, nothin'. I was always wid de white folks side of politics. They wasn't concerned 'bout me. Marster James have no patience for dat kind of business anyhow. Him was a lawyer and believed in lettin' de law rule in de daylight and would have nothin' to do wid work dat have to have de cover of night and darkness.
"Does I 'member 'bout de red shirts? Sure I does. De marster never wore
one. Him get me a red shirt and I wore it in Hampton days. What I
"De day of de radical republican meetin' in de court house, Marster Ed Ailen had a drug store, so him and Marster Ozmond Buchanan fix up four quart bottles of de finest kind of liquor, wid croton-oil in every bottle. Just befo' de meetin' was called to order, Marster Ed pass out dat liquor to de ring leader, tellin' him to take it in de court house and when they want to 'suade a nigger their way, take him in de side jury rooms and 'suade him wid a drink of fine liquor. When de meetin' got under way, de chairman 'pointed a doorkeeper to let nobody in and nobody out 'til de meetin' was over, widout de chairman say so.
"They say things went along smooth for a while but directly dat
croton-oil make a demand for 'tention. Dere was a wild rush for de door.
De doorkeeper say 'Stand back, you have to 'dress de chairman to git
permission to git out'. Chairman rap his gavel and say, 'What's de matter
over dere? Take your seats! Parliment law 'quire you to 'dress de chair to
git permission to leave de hall'. One old nigger, Andy Stewart, a ring
leader shouted: 'To hell wid Parliment law, I's got to git out of here.'
Still de doorkeeper stood firm and faithful, as de boy on de burnin' deck,
as Marster Glenn lak to tell it. One bright mulatto nigger, Jim Mobley,
got out de tangle by movin' to take a recess for ten minutes, but befo' de
"Well, dat seem to make you laugh and well it might, 'cause dat day been now long ago. Sixty-one years you say? How time gits along. Well, sixty-one years ago everybody laugh all day in Winnsboro, but Marster Ed never crack a smile, when them niggers run to his drug store and ask him for somethin' to ease their belly ache."
W. W. Dixon
Winnsboro, S. C.
"You want me to start wid my fust memory and touch de high spots 'til dis very day? Dat'll take a long time but I glad to find someone to tell dat to; I is! I 'members when I was a boy, drivin' de calves to de pasture, a highland moccasin snake rise up in de path. I see dat forked tongue and them bright eyes right now. I so scared I couldn't move out my tracks. De mercy of de Lord cover me wid His wings. Dat snake uncoil, drop his head, and silently crawl away. Dat was on de Biggers Mobley place 'tween Kershaw and Camden, where I was born, in 1848.
"My pappy name Ned; my mammy name Jane. My brudders and sisters was Tom, Lizzie, Mary, and Gill. Us live in a log house wid a plank floor and a wooden chimney, dat was always ketchin' afire and de wind comin' through and fillin' de room wid smoke and cinders. It was just one of many others, just lak it, dat made up de quarters. Us had peg beds for de old folks and just pallets on de floor for de chillun. Mattresses was made of wheat straw but de pillows on de bed was cotton. I does 'member dat mammy had a chicken feather pillow she made from de feathers she saved at de kitchen.
"My grandpappy name Warren and grandmammy name Maria. De rule on de place was: 'Wake up de slaves at daylight, begin work when they can see, and quit work when they can't see'. But they was careful of de rule dat say: 'You mustn't work a child, under twelve years old, in de field'.
"My master's fust wife, I heard him say, was Mistress Gilmore. Dere was
two chillun by her. Master Ed, dat live in a palace dat last time I visit
Rock Hill and go to 'member myself to him; then dere was Miss Mary dat
marry her cousin, Dr. Jim Mobley. They had one child, Captain Fred, dat
"Marster had one child, a boy, by my mistress, Miss Sallie. They call him Black George. Him live long enough to marry a angel, Miss Kate McCrorey. They had four chillun. Dere got to be ninety slaves on de place befo' war come on. One time I go wid pappy to de Chester place. Seem lak more slaves dere than on de Gibson place. Us was fed up to de neck all de time, though us never had a change of clothes. Us smell pretty rancid maybe, in de winter time, but in de summer us no wear very much. Girls had a slip on and de boys happy in their shirt tails.
"Kept fox hounds on both places. Old Butler was de squirrel and 'possum dog. What I like best to eat? Marster, dere is nothin' better than 'possum and yallow sweet 'taters. Right now, I wouldn't turn dat down for pound cake and Delaware grape wine, lak my mistress use to eat and sip while she watch my mammy and old Aunt Tilda run de spinnin' wheels.
"De overseer on de place was name Mr. Mike Melton. No sir, he poor man
but him come from good folks, not poor white trash. But they was cussed by
marster, when after de war they took up wid de 'publican party. Sad day
for old marster when him didn't hold his mouth, but I'll get to
"Marster Biggers believe in whippin' and workin' his slaves long and hard; then a man was scared all de time of being sold away from his wife and chillun. His bark was worse then his bite tho', for I never knowed him to do a wicked thing lak dat.
"How long was they whipped? Well, they put de foots in a stock and clamp them together, then they have a cross-piece go right across de breast high as de shoulder. Dat cross-piece long enough to bind de hands of a slave to it at each end. They always strip them naked and some time they lay on de lashes wid a whip, a switch or a strap. Does I believe dat was a great sin? No sir. Our race was just lak school chillun is now. De marster had to put de fear of God in them sometime, somehow, and de Bible don't object to it.
"I see marster buy a many a slave. I never saw him sell but one and he sold dat one to a drover for $450.00, cash down on de table, and he did dat at de request of de overseer and de mistress. They was uneasy 'bout him.
"They give us Christmas Day. Every woman got a handkerchief to tie up her hair. Every girl got a ribbon, every boy a barlow knife, and every man a shin plaster. De neighbors call de place, de shin plaster, Barlow, Bandanna place. Us always have a dance in de Christmas.
"After freedom when us was told us had to have names, pappy say he love his old Marster Ben Clifton de best and him took dat titlement, and I's been a Clifton ever since.
"Go way, white folks! What everthing mate for? De birds, de corn tassle
and de silk, man and woman, white folks and colored folks mates. You ask
me what for I seek out Christina for to marry. Dere was sumpin' 'bout dat
gal, dat day I meets her, though her hair had 'bout a pound of cotton
thread in it, dat just 'tracted me to her lak a fly will sail 'round and
light on a 'lasses pitcher. I kept de Ashford Ferry road hot 'til I got
her. I had to
"Us have seven chillun. They's scattered east, west, north, and south. De only one left is just David, our baby, and him is a baby six foot high and fifty-one years old.
"Yes sir, us had a bold, drivin', pushin', marster but not a hard-hearted one. I sorry when military come and arrest him. It was dis a way, him try to carry on wid free labor, 'bout lak him did in slavery. Chester was in military district no. 2. De whole state was under dat military government. Old marster went to de field and cuss a nigger woman for de way she was workin', choppin' cotton. She turnt on him wid de hoe and gashed him 'bout de head wid it. Him pull out his pistol and shot her. Dr. Babcock say de wound in de woman not serious. They swore out a warrant for Marster Biggers, arrest him wid a squad, and take him to Charleston, where him had nigger jailors, and was kicked and cuffed 'bout lak a dog. They say de only thing he had to eat was corn-meal-mush brought 'round to him and other nice white folks in a tub and it was ladeled out to them thru de iron railin' into de palms of dere hands. Mistress stuck by him, went and stayed down dere. The filthy prison and hard treatments broke him down, and when he did get out and come home, him passed over de river of Jordan, where I hopes and prays his soul finds rest. Mistress say one time they threatened her down dere, dat if she didn't get up $10,000 they would send him where she would never see him again.
"Well, I must be goin'. Some day when de crops is laid by and us get de boll weevil whipped off de field, I'll get David to bring me and dat gal, Christina, you so curious 'bout, to Winnsboro to see you. Oh, how her gonna laugh and shake her sides when I get home and tell her all 'bout what's down on dat paper! You say it's to be sent to Washington? Why, de President and his wife will be tickled at some of them things. I's sure they will. Dat'll make Christina have a great excitement when I tell her we is to be talked 'bout way up dere. I 'spect it will keep her wake and she'll be hunchin' me and asking me all thru de night, what I give in.
"Oh, well, I's thankful for dis hour in which I's been brought very near to de days of de long long ago. Maybe I'll get a pension and maybe I won't. Just so de Lord and de President take notice of us, is enough for me."
W. W. Dixon
Winnsboro, S. C.
John Collins lives in a two-room frame cottage by the side of US 21, just one mile north of the town of Winnsboro, S. C. on the right side of the highway and a few hundred yards from the intersection of US 21 and US 22. The house is owned by Mr. John Ameen. His son, John, who lives with him, is a farm hand in the employ of Mr. John Ameen, and is his father's only support.
"They tells me dat I was born in Chester County, just above de line dat separates Chester and Fairfield Counties. You know where de 'dark corner' is, don't you? Well, part is in Fairfield County and part is in Chester County. In dat corner I first see de light of day; 'twas on de 29th of February, 1852. Though I is eighty-five years old, I's had only twenty-one birthdays. I ketches a heap of folks wid dat riddle. They ask me: 'How old is you Uncle John?' I say: 'I is had twenty-one birthdays and won't have another till 1940. Now figure it out yourself, sir, if you is so curious to know my age!' One time a smart aleck, jack-leg, Methodist preacher, of my race, come to my house and figured all day on dat riddle and never did git de correct answer. He scribbled on all de paper in de house and on de back of de calendar leaves. I sure laughed at dat preacher. I fears he lacked some of dat good old time 'ligion, de way he sweated and scribbled and fussed.
"My daddy was name Steve Chandler. My mammy was called Nancy. I don't
know whether they was married or not. My daddy was sent to Virginia, while
de war was gwine on, to build forts and breastworks around Petersburg, so
they say, and him never come back. I 'members him well. He was a tall
black man, over six feet high, wid broad shoulders. My son, John, look
just lak him. Daddy used to play wid mammy just lak she
"My mammy and me was slaves of old Marse Nick Collins. His wife, my mistress, was name Miss Nannie. Miss Nannie was just an angel; all de slaves loved her. But marster was hard to please, and he used de lash often. De slaves whisper his name in fear and terror to de chillun, when they want to hush them up. They just say to a crying child: 'Shet up or old Nick will ketch you!' Dat child sniffle but shet up pretty quick.
"Marster didn't have many slaves. Best I 'member, dere was about twenty men, women, and chillun to work in de field and five house slaves. Dere was no good feelin's 'twixt field hands and house servants. De house servants put on more airs than de white folks. They got better things to eat, too, than de field hands and wore better and cleaner clothes.
"My marster had one son, Wyatt, and two daughters, Nannie and Elizabeth. They was all right, so far as I 'member, but being a field hand's child, off from de big house, I never got to play wid them any.
"My white folks never cared much about de slaves having 'ligion. They went to de Universalist Church down at Feasterville. They said everybody was going to be saved, dat dere was no hell. So they thought it was just a waste of time telling niggers about de hereafter.
"In them days, way up dere in de 'dark corner', de white folks didn't had no schools and couldn't read or write. How could they teach deir slaves if they had wanted to?
"De Yankees never come into de 'dark corner'. It was in 1867, dat us
found out us was free; then we all left. I come down to Feasterville and
stayed wid Mr. Jonathan Coleman. From dere, I went to Chester. While I was
living dere, I married Maggie Nesbit. Us had five chillun; they all
"I is tired now, and I is sad. I's thinking about Maggie and de days dat are gone. Them memories flood over me, and I just want to lay down. Maybe I'll see you sometime again. I feel sure I'll see Maggie befo' many months and us'll see de sunrise, down here, from de far hebben above. Good day. Glad you come to see me, sir!"
W. W. Dixon
Winnsboro, S. C.
Caleb Craig lives in a four-room house, with a hall, eight feet wide, through the center and a fireplace in each room. He lives with his grandson, who looks after him.
"Who I is? I goes by de name of C. C. All de colored people speaks of me in dat way. C. C. dis and C. C. dat. I don't 'ject but my real name is Caleb Craig. Named after one of de three spies dat de Bible tell 'bout. Him give de favorite report and, 'cause him did, God feed him and clothe him all de balance of him life and take him into de land of Canaan, where him and Joshua have a long happy life. I seen a picture in a book, one time, of Joshua and Caleb, one end of a pole on Joshua's shoulder and one end on Caleb's shoulder, wid big bunches of grapes a hangin' from dat pole. Canaan must to been a powerful fertile land to make grapes lak dat.
"Would you believe dat I can't write? Some of them adultery (adult) teachers come to my house but it seem a pack of foolishness; too much trouble. I just rather put my money in de bank, go dere when I want it, set dat C. C. to de check, and git what I want.
"When I born? Christmas Eve, 1851. Where 'bouts? Blackstock, S. C. Don't none of us know de day or de place us was born. Us have to take dat on faith. You know where de old Bell house, 'bove Blackstock, is? Dere's where I come to light. De old stagecoach, 'tween Charlotte and Columbia, changed hosses and stop dere but de railroad busted all dat up.
"My mammy name Martha. Marse John soon give us chillun to his daughter,
Miss Marion. In dat way us separated from our mammy. Her was a
"Us chillun was carried down to de June place where Miss Marion and her husband, Marse Ed P. Mobley live. It was a fine house, built by old Dr. June. Marse Ed bought de plantation, for de sake of de fine house, where he want to take Miss Marion as a bride.
"Dere was a whole passle of niggers in de quarter, three hundred or maybe more. I didn't count them, 'cause I couldn't count up to a hundred but I can now. Ten, ten, double ten, forty-five, and fifteen. Don't dat make a hundred? Sho' it do.
"Clothes? Too many dere, for to clothe them much. I b'long to de shirt-tail brigade 'til I got to be a man. Why I use to plow in my shirt-tail! Well, it wasn't so bad in de summer time and us had big fires in de winter time, inside and outside de house, whenever us was working'. 'Til I was twelve years old I done nothin' but play.
"Money? Hell no! Excuse me, but de question so surprise me, I's caught off my guard. Food? Us got farm produce, sich as corn-meal, bacon, 'lasses, bread, milk, collards, turnips, 'tators, peanuts, and punkins.
"De overseer was Mr. Brown. My marster was much talked 'bout for workin' us on Sunday. He was a lordly old fellow, as I 'member, but dere was never anything lak plowin' on Sunday, though I do 'member de hands workin' 'bout de hay and de fodder.
"Marse Ed, a great fox hunter, kep' a pack of hounds. Sometime they run deer. Old Uncle Phil was in charge of de pack. Him had a special dog for to tree 'possums in de nighttime and squirrels in de daytime. Believe me, I lak 'possum de best. You lak 'possum? Well, I'll git my grandson to hunt you one dis comin' October.
"Marse Ed didn't 'low patarollers (patrollers) on de June place. He tell them to stay off and they knowed to stay off.
"Slave drovers often come to de June place, just lak mule drovers and hog drovers. They buy, sell, and swap niggers, just lak they buy, sell, and swap hosses, mules, and hogs.
"Us had preachin' in de quarters on Sunday. Uncle Dick, a old man, was de preacher. De funerals was simple and held at night. De grave was dug dat day.
"A man dat had a wife off de place, see little peace or happiness. He could see de wife once a week, on a pass, and jealousy kep' him 'stracted de balance of de week, if he love her very much.
"I marry Martha Pickett. Why I marry her? Well, I see so many knock-knee, box-ankle, spindly-shank, flat nose chillun, when I was growin' up, dat when I come to choose de filly to fold my colts, I picks one dat them mistakes wasn't so lakly to appear in. Us have five chillun. Lucy marry a Sims and live in Winnsboro, S. C. Maggie marry a Wallace and live in Charlotte, N. C. Mary marry a Brice and live in Chester, S. C. Jane not married; she live wid her sister, Mag, in Charlotte. John lives 'bove White Oak and farms on a large place I own, not a scratch of pen against it by de government or a bank.
"I live on 27 acres, just out de town of Winnsboro. I expects no
pension. My grandchillun come and go, back'ards and fo'ards, and tell me
"What 'bout Marse Ed and Marse Jim Jones? Well, you see, Marse Jim was
close wid his money. Marse Ed was a spender. I 'tend Marse Ed to a chicken
main once. Marse Jim rode up just as Marse Ed was puttin' up $300.00 on a
pile brass wing rooster, 'ginst a black breasted red war hoss rooster, dat
de McCarleys was backin'. Marse Ed lost de bet. But him never told Marse
Jim, dat befo' he rode up, him had won $500.00 from them same men. After
de main was over, Marse Jim, bein' brudder-in-law to Marse Ed, rode home
to dinner wid him. After dinner they was smokin' deir cigars befo' de
parlor fire dat I was 'viving up. Marse Jim lecture Marse Ed for throwin'
'way money. Marse Ed stretch out his long legs and say: 'Mr. Jones does
you 'member dat day us 'tended de circus in Chester and as us got to de
top of de hill a blind begger held out his cup to us and you put in a
quarter?' Mr. Jones say he does 'member dat. Marse Ed went on: 'Well, Mr.
Jones, I had a dream last night. I dream us comin' through de Cumberland
Mountains wid a drove of mules from Kentucky. You was ridin' a piebald
hoss, de same one you rode into South Carolina de fust time you come here.
You had on a faded, frazzled grey shawl, 'bout lak de one you had on
today. Us was in front, de outriders behind, when us got to de gap in de
mountains. De drove stampede just as us git in de gap. Us was both kilt.
You got to heaven befo' I did. When I did git dere, you was befo' de High
Court. They examine you and turn over de leaves of a big book and find
very little dere to your credit. At last they say, I think it was de
'Postle Peter dat ask de question. Him say: 'Everything is recorded in dis
book. Us can find nothin'. Do you happen to 'member anything you
That part of the suburb of Winnsboro called "Mexico". Just east of
W. W. Dixon
Winnsboro, S. C.
Dinah Cunningham lives about seven miles west of Ridgeway, S. C., on the Hood place about a hundred yards off the old Devil's Race Track road. She lives with her daughter and son-in-law and their three children. They live in a two-room frame house with a shed room annex. In the annex, Dinah and the smaller children sleep. They are kind to Dinah, who is feeble and can do no farm labor. Dinah is as helpless about the home as a child.
"I's come up here 'bout seventeen miles for to let you see me. 'Spect you don't see much in dis old worn out critter. Now does you?
"Well, here I is, and I wants you white folks to help me, 'cause I's served you from generation to generation. Wid de help of de Lord and trustin' in Jesus de Lamb, I knows I's goin' to git help. When is they gwine to start payin' off? I's heard them say how you got to be on de roll and signed up befo' de fourth day of July. So here I is!
"I was born de fust day of March, 1853, out from Ridgeway, sunrise side. My marster was David Robertson and my mistress name Sally. Her was mighty pretty. Her was a Rembert befo' she marry Marse Dave. They had one child dat I was de nurse for and her name was Luray. Her marry Marse Charlie Ray.
"De onliest whippin' I got was 'bout dat child. I had de baby on de
floor on a pallet and rolled over on it. Her make a squeal like she was
much hurt and mistress come in a hurry. After de baby git quiet and go to
sleep, she said: 'Dinah, I hates to whip you but de Good Book say, spare
de rod and spoil de child.' Wid dat, she goes out and git a little switch
off de crepe myrtle bush and come back and took my left hand in her left
"My white folks was no poor white trash, I tells you! Good marse and good mistress had heap of slaves and overseers. One overseer name Mr. Welch. De buckra folks dat come visitin', use to laugh at de way he put grease on his hair, and de way he scraped one foot back'ards on de ground or de floor when they shake hands wid him. He never say much, but just set in his chair, pull de sides of his mustache and say 'Yas sah' and 'No sah', to them dat speak to him. He speak a whole lot though, when he git down in de quarters where de slaves live. He wasn't like de same man then. He woke everybody at daylight, and sometime he help de patrollers to search de houses for to ketch any slaves widout a pass.
"Us had all us need to eat, sich as was good for us. Marse like to see his slaves fat and shiny, just like he want to see de carriage hosses slick and spanky, when he ride out to preachin' at Ainswell and sometime de Episcopal church at Ridgeway. My young mistress jine de Baptist church after she marry, and I 'member her havin' a time wid sewin' buckshots in de hem of de dress her was baptized in. They done dat, you knows, to keep de skirt from floatin' on top of de water. You never have thought 'bout dat? Well, just ask any Baptist preacher and he'll tell you dat it has been done.
"When de Yankees come, they went through de big house, tore up everything, ripped open de feather beds and cotton mattresses, searchin' for money and jewels. Then they had us slaves ketch de chickens, flung open de smoke-house, take de meat, meal, flour, and put them in a four-hoss wagon and went on down to Longtown. Them was scandlous days, boss! I hope never to see de likes of them times wid dese old eyes again.
"I 'member 'bout de Ku Klux just one time, though I heard 'bout them a heap. They come on de Robertson place all dressed up wid sheets and false faces, ridin' on hossback, huntin' for a republican and a radical nigger, (I forgits his name, been so long) but they didn't find him. They sho' was a sight and liked to scared us all to death.
"Was I ever married? Sure I was, I marry Mack Cunningham. Us was jined in de holy wedlock by Marse Alex Matherson, a white trial justice. Ask him and he'll tell you when it was. I's got some chillun by dat husband. There is William at Charlotte, and Rosy at Ridgeway. Rosy, her marry a man name Peay. Then there is Millie Gover at Rembert and Lila Brown at Smallwood, de station where Marse Charlie Ray and my Mistress Luray was killed by a railroad train runnin' into de automobile they was in. Then there is my daughter, Delia Belton, at Ridgeway, and John L., a son livin' and farmin' at Cedar Creek.
"I b'longs to de Mt. Olivet Church dat you knows 'bout. White folks comes there sometime for to hear de singin'. They say us can carry de song better than white folks. Well, maybe us does love de Lord just a little bit better, and what's in our mouth is in our hearts.
"What you gwine to charge for all dat writin' you got down there? If you writes much more maybe I ain't got enough money to pay for it. I got a dollar here but if it's more than dat you'll have to wait on me for de balance. You say it don't cost nothin'? Well, glory hallelujah for dat! I'll just go 'round to de colored restaurant and enjoy myself wid beef stew, rice, new potatoes, macaroni and a cup of coffee. I wonder what they'll have for dessert. 'Spect it'll be some kind of puddin'. But I'd be more pleased if you would take half of this dollar and go get you a good dinner, too. I would like to please you dat much!
"May de good Lord be a watch 'tween me and you 'til us meets again."
W. W. Dixon
Winnsboro, S. C.
Henry Davis is an old Negro, a bright mulatto, who lives in a two-room frame house on the farm of Mr. Amos E. Davis, about two miles southwest of Winnsboro, S. C.
In the house with him, are his wife, Rosa, and his grown children, Roosevelt, Utopia, and Rose. They are day laborers on the farm. At this period, Henry picks about seventy-five pounds of cotton a day. His children average one hundred and fifty pounds each. The four together are thus enabled to gather about five hundred and twenty-five pounds per day, at the rate of sixty-five cents per hundred. This brings to the family, a daily support of $3.41. This is seasonal employment, however; and, as they are not a provident household, hard times come to Henry and his folks in the winter and early summer.
"I was born on de old Richard Winn plantation dat my master, Dr. W. K. Turner, owned and lived on. I was born de year befo' him marry Miss Lizzie Lemmon, my mistress in slavery time.
"My mother was name Mary and took de name of Davis, 'cause befo' freedom come, her was bought by my master, from Dr. Davis, near Monticello.
"I had a good many marsters and mistresses. Miss Minnie marry Dr. Scruggs. Miss Anna marry Mr. Dove. Miss Emma marry Mr. Jason Pope. Marse Willie K. marry a Miss Carroll up in York, S. C., and Marse Johnnie marry Miss Essie Zealy. My brothers and sisters was Minton, Ike, Martha, and Isabella.
"Who I marry and all 'bout it? How come you want to know dat? I 'clare!
You think dat gwine to loosen me up? Well, I marry de 'Rose of Sharon' or
I calls her dat when I was sparkin' her, though she was a Lemmon. Her was
name Rose Lemmon. Lots of times she throw dat in my face, 'Rose of Sharon'
when things go wrong. Then her git
"My mammy and us chillun live in de yard not far from de kitchen. My mammy do de washin' and ironin'. Us chillun did no work. I ride 'round most of de time wid de doctor in his buggy and hold de hoss while he visit de patients. Just set up in de buggy and wait 'til him git ready to go to another place or go home.
"I 'member de Yankees comin' and searchin' de house, takin' off de cows, mules, hosses, and burnin' de gin-house and cotton. They say dat was General Sherman's orders. They was 'lowed to leave de dwellin' house standin', in case of a doctor or preacher.
"Miss Lizzie had a whole lot of chickens. Her always keep de finest pullets. She make pies and chicken salad out of de oldest hens. Dat February de Yankees got here, she done save up 'bout fifty pullets dat was ready to lay in March. A squad of Yankees make us chillun ketch every one and you know how they went 'way wid them pullets? They tie two on behind, in de rings of de saddle. Then they tie two pullets together and hang them on de saddle pommel, one on each side of de hosses neck. Dat throw them flankin' de hosses withers. I 'members now them gallopin' off, wid them chickens flutterin' and hollerin' whare, whare, whare, whare, whare!
"After slavery time, us live on de Turner place nigh onto thirty years
and then was de time I go to see Rosa and court and marry her. Her folks
b'long to de Lemmons and they had stayed on at de Lemmon's place. De white
folks of both plantations 'courage us to have a big weddin'. Her white
folks give her a trousseau and mine give me a
"Does I 'members anything 'bout patrollers? 'Deed, I do! Marster didn't 'ject to his slaves gwine to see women off de place. I hear him say so, and I hear him tell more than once dat if he ever hear de patrollers a comin' wid blood hounds, to run to de lot and stick his foots in de mud and de dogs wouldn't follow him. Lots of run'ways tried it, I heard, and it proved a success and I don't blame them dogs neither."
Jesse Davis, one of the fast disappearing landmarks of slavery times, lives with his wife and son, in one of the ordinary two-room frame houses that dot, with painful monotony, the country farms of white landowners. The three attempt to carry on a one-horse farm of forty acres, about thirty acres in cotton and the remainder in corn. The standard of living is low. Jesse is cheerful, his wife optimistic with the expression that the Lord will provide, and their son dutiful and hopeful of the harvest. Their home is about ten miles southwest of Winnsboro, in the Horeb section of Fairfield County.
"Dere is some difficulty 'bout my age. Nigh as I can place it, I was born befo' de Civil War. I 'members 'tendin' to and milkin' de cows, and keepin' de calf off, drawin' water out de well, and bringin' in wood to make fires. I 'spects I's eighty-five, mountin' up in years.
"I lives on Mr. Eber Mason's place wid one of my chillun, a son name Mingo. Us all work on de place; run a farm on shares. I can't do much work and can't support myself. It's mighty hard to be 'pendent on others for your daily rations, even if them others is your own bone and flesh. I'd 'preciate sumpin' to help my son and wife carry on. Dats why I wants a pension. Do you 'spect God in His mercy will hear de prayer of dis feeble old believer? I don't beg people but de Bible give me a right to beg God for my daily bread. De Good Book say: 'Take no consarnment 'bout your raiment'. You can see from what I's got on, dat me nor nobody else, is much consarned 'bout dis raiment.
"My mammy b'long to de Smiths. My master was Dr. Ira Smith. My mistress
was him wife, Miss Sarah. Deir chillun was: Marse Gad, Marse Jim, and
"Dere was my young misses, Miss Lizzie and Miss Lennie. My mammy name Sarah, just lak old mistress name Sarah. Her b'long to marster and mistress but my pappy no b'long to them. Him b'long to de big bugs, de Davis family. Him was name Mingo, and after slavery him and all us take de name, de secon' name, Davis, and I's here today, Jesse Davis. See how dat work out to de name? Good Book again say: 'Good name better than riches; sweeter to de ear than honey-comb to de tongue.'
"You is well 'quainted wid Marse Amos Davis, ain't you? Well, his people was pappy's people. I had a brudder name Gabriel, tho' they called him Gabe. Another one name Chap; he got kilt while clearin' up a new ground. Sister Fannie marry a Ashford nigger. Marse Ira, de doctor, have a plantation near Jenkinsville, S. C.
"When de Yankees come thru, they come befo' de main army. They gallop right up, jump down and say: 'Hold dese hosses! Open dat smoke-house door!' They took what they could carry 'way. 'Bout dat time marster rode up from a sick call him been 'tendin' to. Course you know him was a doctor. They surround him, take his watch, money, and hoss, and ride 'way.
"De main army come nex' day, Saturday mornin' 'bout 8 o'clock. They spread deir tents and stay and camp 'til Monday mornin'. When they leave they carry off all de cows, hogs, mules, and hosses. Then they have us ketch de chickens, got them all, 'cept one old hen dat run under de house, and they didn't wait to git her. Marster have to go 'way up to Union County, where him have kin folks, to git sumpin' to eat.
"My marster was not big rich lak de Davises, de Means, and de Harpers, but him have all them people come to see him. Him know a heap of things dat they 'preciate. De way to dye cloth was one of dese secrets. Marster have a madder bed. Him take de roots of dat madder put them in de sun just lak you put out pieces of apples and peaches to make dried fruit. When them roots git right dry, him have them ground up fine as water-ground meal. He put de fine dust in a pot and boil it. When he want red cloth, he just drop de cloth in dat pot and it come out all red to suit you. Want it blue, him have a indigo patch for dat.
"I never hear anything 'bout alum dese days. Well, de slaves could take peach tree leaves and alum and make yellow cloth and old cedar tops and copperas and make tan cloth. Walnut stain and copperas and make any cloth brown. Sweet-gum bark and copperas and make any cloth a purple color. I 'member goin' wid one into de woods to git barks. One day old marster come 'cross a slippery elm tree. Him turn and command me to say right fast: 'Long, slim, slick saplin' and when I say long, slim, sick slaplin', him 'most kill hisself laughin'. You try dat now! You find it more harder to say than you think it is. Him give me a piece of dat bark to chew and I run at de mouth lak you see a hoss dat been on de range of wild clover all night and slobberin' at da bits.
"Yes sah, I b'longs to de church! My wife and son, Mingo, just us three in de house and de whole household jined de Morris Creek Baptist Church. What's my favorite song? None better than de one dat I'll h'ist right now. Go ahead? I thanks you. Listen:
'Am I born to die
'All de medicine you may buy
"You lak dat one? You just ought to hear my wife, Mingo, and Me, singin' dat 'round de fire befo' us go to bed.
"Well, well, well! You knows my white folks on Jackson Creek, up in Fairfield! I's mighty glad of dat, and glad to see you. My white folks come to see me pretty often, though they lives way up dere. You wants to write me up? Well, I'll tell you all I recollect, and what I don't tell you, my daughter and de white folks can put in de other 'gredients. Take dis armchair and git dat smokin' ash tray; lay it on de window sill by you and make yourself comfortable and go ahead."
"I was born in de Catawba River section. My grandpappy was a full blood Indian; my pappy a half Indian; my mother, coal black woman. Just who I b'long to when a baby? I'll leave dat for de white folks to tell, but old Marster Jim Lemon buy us all; pappy, mammy, and three chillun: Jake, Sophie, and me. De white folks I fust b'long to refuse to sell 'less Marse Jim buy de whole family; dat was clever, wasn't it? Dis old Louisa must of come from good stock, all de way 'long from de beginnin', and I is sho' proud of dat."
"When he buy us, Marse Jim take us to his place on Little River nigh clean cross de county. In de course of time us fell to Marse Jim's son, John, and his wife, Miss Mary. I was a grown woman then and nursed their fust baby, Marse Robert. I see dat baby grow to be a man and 'lected to legislature, and stand up in dat Capitol over yonder cross de river and tell them de Law and how they should act, I did. They say I was a pretty gal, then, face shiny lak a ginger cake, and hair straight and black as a crow, and I ain't so bad to look at now, Marse Willie says."
"My pappy rise to be foreman on de place and was much trusted, but he plowed and worked just de same, mammy say maybe harder."
"Then one springtime de flowers git be blooming, de hens to cackling, and de guineas to patarocking. Sam come along when I was out in de yard wid de baby. He fust talk to de baby, and I asked him if de baby wasn't pretty. He say, 'Yes, but not as pretty as you is, Louisa.' I looks at Sam, and dat kind of foolishness wind up in a weddin'. De white folks allowed us to be married on de back piazza, and Reverend Boggs performed de ceremony."
"My husband was a slave of de Sloans and didn't get to see me often as he wanted to; and of course, as de housemaid then, dere was times I couldn't meet him, clandestine like he want me. Us had some grief over dat, but he got a pass twice a week from his marster, Marse Tommie Sloan, to come to see me. Bold as Sam git to be, in after years ridin' wid a red shirt long side of General Bratton in '76, dat nigger was timid as a rabbit wid me when us fust git married. Shucks, let's talk 'bout somthing else. Sam was a field hand and drive de wagon way to Charleston once a year wid cotton, and always bring back something pretty for me."
"When de war come on, Sam went wid young Marster Tom Sloan as bodyguard, and attended to him, and learned to steal chickens, geese, and turkeys for his young marster, just to tell 'bout it. He dead now; and what I blames de white folks for, they never would give him a pension, though he spend so much of his time and labor in their service. I ain't bearin' down on my kind of white folks, for I'd jump wid joy if I could just git back into slavery and have de same white folks to serve and be wid them, day in and day out."
"Once a week I see de farm hands git rations at de smoke house, but dat didn't concern me. I was a housemaid and my mammy run de kitchen, and us got de same meals as my marster's folks did."
"Yas sir; I got 'possum. Know how to cook him now. Put him in a pot and parboil him, then put him in a oven wid lots of lard or fat-back, and then bake him wid yaller yam potatoes, flanked round and round, and then wash him down wid locust and persimmon beer followed by a piece of pumpkin pie. Dat make de bestest meal I 'members in slavery days."
"Us got fish out of Little River nigh every Saturday, and they went good Sunday morning. Us had Saturday evenin's, dat is, de farm hands did, and then I got to go to see Sam some Sundays. His folks, de Sloans, give us a weddin' dinner on Sunday after us was married, and they sho' did tease Sam dat day."
"Like all rich buckra, de Lemons had hogs a plenty, big flock of sheep, cotton gin, slaves to card, slaves to spin, and slaves to weave. Us was well clothed and fed and 'tended to when sick. They was concerned 'bout our soul's salvation. Us went to church, learn de catechism; they was Presbyterians, and read de Bible to us. But I went wid Sam after freedom. He took de name of Davis, and I jined de Methodist Church and was baptized Louisa Davis."
"Patroller, you ask me? 'Spect I do 'member them. Wasn't I a goodlookin' woman? Didn't Sam want to see me more than twice a week? Wouldn't he risk it widout de pass some time? Sure he did. De patrollers got after and run Sam many a time."
"After de war my pappy went to Florida. He look just like a Indian, hair and all, bushy head, straight and young lookin' wid no beard. We never heard from him since."
"De slaves wash de family clothes on Saturday and then rested after
doin' dat. Us had a good time Christmas; every slave ketch white folks wid
a holler, 'Christmas gift, Marster' and they holler it to each other. Us
all hung our stockin's all 'bout de Big House, and then dere would be
sumpin' in dere next mornin'. Lord, wasn't them good
"Now how is it dese days? Young triflin' nigger boys and gals lyin' 'round puffin' cigarets, carryin' whiskey 'round wid them, and gittin' in jail on Christmas, grievin' de Lord and their pappies, and all sich things. OH! De risin' generation and de future! What is it comin' to? I just don't know, but dere is comin' a time to all them."
"I sho' like to dance when I was younger. De fiddlers was Henry Copley and Buck Manigault; and if anybody 'round here could make a fiddle ring like Buck could, wouldn't surprise me none if my heart wouldn't cry out to my legs, 'Fust lady to de right and cheat or swing as you like, and on to de right'."
"Stop dat laughin'. De Indian blood in me have held me up over a hundred years, and de music might make me young again."
"Oh yes, us had ghost stories, make your hair stand on end, and us put iron in de fire when us hear screech owl, and put dream book under bed to keep off bad dreams."
"When de yankees come they took off all they couldn't eat or burn, but don't let's talk 'bout dat. Maybe if our folks had beat them and git up into dere country our folks would of done just like they did. Who knows?"
"You see dis new house, de flower pots, de dog out yonder, de cat in de
sun lyin' in de chair on de porch, de seven tubs under de shed, de two big
wash pots, you see de pictures hangin' round de wall, de nice beds, all
dese things is de blessin's of de Lord through President Roosevelt. My
grandson, Pinckney, is a World War man, and he got in de CCC Camp, still
in it in North Carolina. When he got his bonus, he come down, and say,
'Grandma, you too old to walk, supposin' I git you a automobile?" I
"And dis is de tepee you settin' in today. I feel like he's a young
warrior, loyal and brave, off in de forests workin' for his chief, Mr.
Roosevelt, and dat his dreams are 'bout me maybe some night wid de winds
blowin' over dat three C camp where he is."
Tom Dixon, a mulatto, is a superannuated minister of the Gospel. He lives in Winnsboro, S. C., at the corner of Moultrie and Crawford Streets. He is duly certified and registered as an old age pensioner and draws a pension of $8.00 per month from the Welfare Board of South Carolina. He is incapable of laborious exercise.
"I was born in 1862, thirteen miles northeast of Columbia, S. C., on the border line of Kershaw and Fairfield Counties. My mother was a slave of Captain Moultrie Gibbes. My father was white, as you can see. My mother was the cook for my white folks; her name was Malinda. She was born a slave of Mr. Tillman Lee Dixon of Liberty Hill. After she learned to cook, my marster bought her from her master and paid $1,200.00 for her. After freedom, us took the name of Dixon.
"My mistress in slavery time was Miss Mary. She was a Clark before she married Marse Moultrie. I was nothing but a baby when the war ended and freedom come to our race. I lived on my marster's Wateree River plantation, with mother, until he sold it and went into the hotel business at Union, S. C.
"My mother then went to Columbia, S. C., and I attended Benedict College. I became a preacher in 1886, the year of the earthquake. That earthquake drove many sinners to their knees, me amongst them; and, when I got up, I resolved to be a soldier of the cross, and every since I have carried the shield of faith in my left hand and the sword of the Word in my right hand.
"The night I was converted, the moon was shining brightly. We was all
at a revival meeting out from Blythewood, then called Dako, S. C. First,
we heard a low murmur
"I married Fannie Irwin, and God blessed us all the days of her life. My daughter, Maggie, married a Collins and lives in the Harlem section of New York City. My daughter, Sallie, lives also in Harlem, Greenville Village. Malinda, named for my mother, lives and works in Columbia, S. C.
"On the death of my wife, Fannie, I courted and married the widow Lizzie Williams. The house we live in is her own property. She had two children when we married, a boy and a girl. The boy got killed at the schoolhouse two years ago. The girl is working in Columbia, S. C. I am a superannuated minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and receive a small sum of money from the denomination, yearly. The amount varies in different years. At no time is it sufficient to keep me in food and clothing and support.
"I have taken nothing to do with politics all my life, but my race has been completely transformed, in that regard, since Mr. Roosevelt has been President. Left to a popular vote of the race, Mr. Roosevelt would get the solid South, against any other man on any ticket he might run on. He is God Almighty's gentleman. By that, I mean he is brave in the presence of the blue-bloods, kind in the presence of the common people, and gentle to the lowly and despised Negro."
N.C. District: No. 2
Worker: T. Pat Matthews
Subject: FRANK MAGWOOD
Person Interviewed: Frank Magwood
Editor: G.L. Andrews
"I was born in Fairfield County, South Carolina, near the town of Ridgeway. Ridgeway was on the Southern Railroad from Charlotte, N.C. to Columbia, South Carolina. I was born Oct. 10, 1864. I belonged to Nora Rines whose wife was named Emma. He had four girls Frances, Ann, Cynthia, and Emma and one son named George. There was about one thousand acres of land inside the fences with about two hundred acres cleared. There were about seventy slaves on the place. My mother and father told me these things. Father belonged to a man by the name of John Gosey and mother belonged to ole man Rines. My father was named Lisbon Magwood and my mother was named Margaret Magwood. They were sold and resold on the slave auction block at Charleston, South Carolina, but the families to whom they belonged did not change their names until mother's name was changed when she married father in 1862.
"There were twelve children in the family, three boys and nine girls. Only two boys of this family are living, Walter and myself.
"Mother and father said at the beginning of the war that the white folks said it would not last long and that in the first years of the war they said one southern soldier could whup three Yankee soldiers, but after awhile they quit their braggin. Most everything to eat and wear got scarce. Sometimes you couldn't git salt to go in the vegetables and meat that was cooked. People dug up the salty earth under their smoke houses, put water with it, drained it off and used it to salt rations.
"There came stories that the Yankees had taken this place and that they were marching through Georgia into South Carolina. They burned Columbia, the Capitol of South Carolina, and had both whites and black scared, they were so rough. The Yankees stole, burned, and plundered. Mother said they hated South Carolina cause they started the war there. They burned a lot of the farm houses. The army, so my father and mother said, was stretched out over a distance of sixty-two miles. Jest think of a scope of country sixty two miles wide with most of the buildings burned, the stock killed, and nothing to eat. The southern army and the northern army had marched back and forth through the territory until there was nothing much left. Where Sherman's army stopped and ate and fed their horses the Negroes went and picked up the grains of corn they strowed there and parched and ate them. People also parched and ate acorns in South Carolina.
"Father and mother got together after the war and they moved to a widow lady's place by the name of Ann Hunter, near Ridgeway. She was good to us and we stayed there sixteen years. Ann Hunter had three sons, Abraham, George and Henry. Abraham went to South America on a rambling trip. He decided to stay there. He was a young man then and he married a Spaniard. When he came home to see his mother it was the year of the earthquake in 1886. He was a grown man then and he brought his wife and children with him. He had three children, all of them spoke Spanish and could not understand their grandmother's talk to them. His wife was a beautiful woman, dark with black hair and blue eyes. She just worshipped her husband. They stayed over a month and then returned to South America. I have never seen 'em since or had any straight news of them.
"Mother and father lived on the farm until they died, with first one ex-slave owner and another. They said they had nothing when the war ended and that there was nothing to do.
"I stayed with my mother and father near Ridgeway until I was 21 years of age. I left the farm then and went to work on the railroad. I thought I was the only man then. I was so strong. I worked on the railroad one year then I went to the Stone mountain Rock Quarry in Georgia.
"I got my hand injured with a dynamite cap after I had worked there a year and I came home again. I went back to working on the farm as a day hand. I worked this way for one year then I began share croppin'.
"I farmed ever since I came to Wake County 15 years ago. I farmed on Mr. Simpkins place one year then Mr. Dillon bought the place and I stayed there nine more years then I became so near blind I could not farm. I came to Raleigh to this house four years ago. I have been totally blind since the fifteenth of last December.
"I married Alice Praylor near Ridgeway when I was 23 years of age. We had nine children.
"My last marriage was to Mamie Williams. I married her in South Carolina. We had four children. They are all living, grown and married off. My chief worry over being blind is the fact that it makes me unable to farm anymore."
(Source: Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves, North Carolina Narratives, Vol. XI, Part 2. Vol. XI, Publ. 1941. The Federal Writer’s Project, 1936-1938. Library of Congress. Contributed by Kim Paterson)
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