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.
The road is perfectly camouflaged from the King's Highway by wild plums that lap overhead. Only those who have traveled this way before could locate the 'turn in' to Uncle Welcome's house. When you have turned in and come suddenly out from the plum thicket you find your road winding along with cultivated patches on the left—corn and peas—a fenced-in garden, the palings riven out by hand, and thick dark woods on the left. A lonesome, untenanted cabin is seemingly in the way but your car swings to the left instead of climbing the door-step and suddenly you find you are facing a bog. The car may get through; it may not. So you switch off and just sit a minute, seeing how the land lies. A great singing and chopping of wood off to the left have kept the inmates from hearing the approach of a car. When you rap therefore you hear, 'Come in'.
A narrow hall runs through to the back porch and off this hall on your
right opens a door from beyond which comes a very musical squeaking—you
know a rocking chair is going hard—even before you see it in motion with a
fuzzy little head that rests on someone's shoulder sticking over the top.
And the fuzzy head which in size is like a small five-cent cocoanut,
belongs to Uncle Welcome's great-grand. On seeing a visitor the grand, the
mother of the infant, rises and smiles greeting, and, learning your
errand, points back to the kitchen to show where Uncle Welcome sits. You
step down one step and ask him if you may come in and he pats a chair by
his side. The old man isn't so spry as he was when you saw him in the
fall; the winter has been hard. But here it is warm again and at most four
in the April afternoon, he sits over his
"I couldn't tell the date or time I born. Your Maussa (Master) take it
down. When I been marry, Dr. Ward Fadder (Father) aint been marry yet. My
mother had twelve head born Oatland. He bought my mother from Virginia.
Dolly. Sam her husband name. Sam come from same course. When my mother
been bought, her been young woman. Work in rice. Plow right now (Meaning
April is time to plow rice fields). I do carpenter work and mind horse for
plantation. Come from Georgetown in boat. Have you own carriage. Go
anywhere you want to go. Oatland church build for colored people and
po-buckra. I helped build that church. The boss man, Mr. Bettman.
Mrs. Genevieve W. Chandler
Murrells Inlet, S. C.
Mom Hagar Brown lives in her little weathered cabin on forty odd acres left by her husband, Caleb Brown. Caleb died in Georgia where he had been sent to the penitentiary for stealing a hog that another man stole. Aunt Hagar has grands settled all around her and she and the grands divide up the acreage which is planted in corn, sweet potatoes, cotton, and some highland rice. She ministers to them all when sick, acts as mid-wife when necessary, and divides her all with her kin and friends—white and black. She wages a war on ground-moles, at which she laughs and says she resembles. Ground-mole beans almost a foot long protect and decorate her yard. She has apple and fig trees, and scuppernong grape vines grow rank and try to climb all her trees.
(Monday morning she hobbles up on a stick—limping and looking sick.) Comes in kitchen door.
Lillie: "Aunt Hagar, how you?"
Hagar: "Painful. Doctor tell me I got the tonsil. Want to represent me
one time and take them out. I say, 'No Doctor! Get in hospital, can't get
out! Let me stay here till my change come.' Yeddy? I ain't wuth! Ain't
wuth! Ain't got a piece o' sense. Yeddy? Ellen say she want God to take
she tomorrow? When you ready it's 'God take me now!
Zackie: "Aunt Hagar, how you feel?"
Hagar: "I ain't wuth son. How's all?"
Zackie: "Need a little more grits!"
Lillie: "Hear Zackie! Mom Hagar, that ain't hinder him ordering another!" (The fact that food is scarce doesn't limit Zackie's family.)
Hagar: "You hear bout this Jeremiah broke in somewhere—get all kinds likker and canned things and different thing?"
Zackie: "Must a broke in that place call 'Stumble Inn!' (Very seriously.) That Revenue man been there."
Hagar: "I yeddy last night! Say he there in news-paper. Mary say, 'see 'em in paper!' Mrs. White gone to child funeral. That been in paper too. Mary see that in paper. Easter say old lady gone dere. Doctor say better go. Child sick. Child seven years old. Fore they get there tell 'em say, 'Child dead!'
"People gone in patch to pick watermillon. Ain't want child to go. You
know chillun! Child gone in. Ain't want 'em for go. You know. Child pick
watermillon. Ketch up one—I forgotten what pound they say. Roll. Roll duh
watermillon. Roll 'em on snake! They say, 'Snake bite 'em?' Child say,
'No. Must a scratch.' See blood run on boy
Lillie: "You know 'em, Mom Hagar?"
Hagar: "No! No! Lill, fever got me! Cold get me till my rump dead. Got hospital boy rouse one time say, 'Ma, less go home! Red stripe snake bite me.'"
Hagar: "Klu Klux?" (Chin cupped in hand—elbow on knee—looking way off—)
"Reckon that the way them old timey people call 'em. Have to run way, you go church. Going to come in to ketch you or do any mischievous thing—come carry you place they going beat you—in suit of white. Old white man to Wilderness Plantation. Parish old man name. Treat his wife bad. Come to house, ain't crack. Come right in suit of white. Drag him out—right to Woodstock there where Mr. Dan get shoot. Put a beating on that white man there till he mess up! Oman never gone back to him yet!"
"A man wuz name (I forgot what the man name wuz)—wuz a white man mess
round wid a colored woman and they didn't do a God thing but gone and put
a beating on you, darling! Come in. Grab you and go. Put a beating on you
till you can't see. Know they got a good grub to lick you wid. They git
done you can't sit down. Ain't going
"Mom Hagar, you wanter vote?"
Hagar: "Oh my God!"
"Aunt Hagar are the colored people happier now than the old timey slavery time people?"
Hagar: "Young people now got the world by force. Don't care. Got more trick than law low. Tricky! Can't beat the old people. Can't equal to 'em. Some the young people you say 'AMEN' in church they make fun o' you. Every tub stand on his own bottom. Can't truss 'em.
"Ma say some dem plan to run way. Say, 'Less run! Less run!' Master
ketch dem and fetch dem in. Lay 'em cross barrel. Beat dem till they wash
in blood. Fetch 'em back. Place 'em cross the barrel—hogsket
barrel—Christ! They ramp wash in blood! Beat Ma sister. He sister sickly.
Never could clear task—like he want. My Ma have to work he self to death
to help Henritta so sickly. Clear task to keep from beat. Some obersheer
mean. Oaks labor. (Meaning her Ma and ma's family were laboring on Oaks
Plantation—the plantation where Gov. Joseph Allston and Theodosia his wife
lived on Waccamaw.) Mother Sally Doctor. Ma got four chillun. One was
"Stay in the field!
(This is Aunt Hagar's favorite song)
Mom Hagar Brown—age 77
(Some recollections of Mom Hagar Brown)
Visitor: "Mom Hagar, how old did you say you were?"
Hagar: "Don't take care of my age! Had me gang of chillun when ma die. I had Samuel, I had Elias, I had Arthur, I had Beck. Oh, my God! Man, go way! I had Sally! I had Sally again. I didn't want to give the name 'Sally' again. Say, 'First Sally come carry girl.' Ma say, 'Gin 'em name 'Sally!' I faid (afraid) that other one come back for him. Had to do what Ma say. Had to please 'em. Ma name Sally. Ma chillun Catrine, Hagar, Emmeline, Gettie. I born Columbia. Come Freedom, when we left Columbia, ma finer till we get in Charston. Freedom come, battle till we get 'Oaks.' (Battled till they reached the 'Oaks Plantation—.')Stay there till people gin (begin) move bout. Come Watsaw. Gone 'Collins Creek.' In the 'Reb Time' you know, when they sell you bout—Massa sell you all about. Broke through them briar and branch and thing to go to church. Them patrol get you. Church 'Old Bethel.' You don't know 'em. Been gone!
"I yeddy ma! (heard my mother) Ma say, 'I too glad my chillun aint been
here Rebs time! Gin you task you rather drown than not done that task! Ma
say Auntie poor we weak creeter, couldn't strain. Ma had to strain to
fetch sister up with her task. Dere (there) in rice-field. Ma say they on
flat going to islant (island), see cloud, pray God
"Any cash money? Where you gwine get 'em? Only cash the gospel! Have to get the gospel. Give you cloth! Give you ration! Jess (just according) many chillun you got. Ma say chillun feed all the corn to the fowl.
"Parent come to door. Not a grain of corn leave! Poor people! Come, drop! Not a grain! Everybody on the hill help. One give this; one give that. Handle 'em light! (Very careful with victuals). Gone you till Saddy (Saturday.) (Will last you until Saturday when you are rationed again.)
"When Ma get down, she say, 'I gone leave! I gone leave here now! But, oh, Hagar! Be a mudder and fadder for Katrine!'
"I say, (I call Katrine 'Gob') I say, 'Better tell Gob to look atter me!'
"Ma say, 'When I gone I ax the Master when he take me, to send drop o' rain to let true believer know I gone to Glory!'
"When they lift the body to take 'em to the church, rain, 'Tit! Tit! Tit! Tit!' on the house! At the gate, moon shine out' Going to the church! Bury to the 'Oaks.'
"Gob say, 'Titty, all you chillun bury at Oaks. Ma to Oaks. How come you wanter bury Watsaw?"
"I say, 'When the trumpet sound, I yeddy!' (When the trumpet sounds, I'll hear it!)
"I marry right to Collins Creek hill. Big dance out the door! I free! I kick up! Ma, old rebs time people!"
Mom Hagar Brown
"My old man can 'member things and tell you things and he word carry. We marry to Turkey Hill Plantation. Hot supper. Cake, wine, and all. Kill cow, hog, chicken and all. That time when you marry, so much to eat! Finance wedding! Now—
"We 'lamp-oil chillun'; they 'lectric light' chillun now! We call our wedding 'lamp-oil wedding'. Hall jam full o' people; out-of-door jam full. Stand before the chimbley.
"When that first war come through, we born. I don't know just when I smell for come in the world.
"Big storm? Yinnah talk big storm hang people up on tree? (Noah!) Shake? I here in house. House gone, 'Rack-a-rack-a-racker!'
"My husband run out—with me and my baby left in bed! Baby just come in time of the shake.
"When I first have sense, I 'member I walk on the frost bare-feet. Cow-belly shoe.
"My husband mother have baby on the flat going to Marion and he Auntie Cinda have a baby on that flat.
"From yout (youth) I been a Brown and marry a Brown; title never change.
"Old timey sing?
Take it in my fadder field
"That wuz a sing we used to have on the plantation. Then we make up sing—we have sing for chillun. Make 'em go sleep. Every one have his own sing.
This one boy!"
Emmie Jordan: "Missus, I too plague with bad heart trouble to give you the sing!"
Song and conversation Given by
Mom Louisa Brown (Born time of 'Reb people War')
Mrs. Genevieve W. Chandler
Murrells Inlet, S. C.
(Some recollections of 'The Reb Time day' given by Aunt Margaret Bryant)
Visitor: "How are you Aunt Margaret?"
Margaret: "Missus, I ain't wuth! I ain't wuth!"
Visitor: "Aunt Margaret you've been here a long time. How old are you?"
Margaret: "I can't tell you my age no way in the world! When freedom come, I been here. Not big nuff (enough) for work for the Reb, but I been here Reb time. Been big nuff (enough) to know when Yankee gun-boat come to Watsaw (Wachesaw). Whole gang o' Yankee come to the house and didn't do a thing but ketch (catch) a gang o' fowl and gone on. And tell the people (meaning the slaves) to take the house and go in and get what they want. The obersheer (overseer) hear the Doctor whistle to the gate and wabe (wave) him back. And then the Doctor know the Yankee been there and he gone on to the creek house and get all he gold and ting (thing) out the house and gone—Marion till Freedom then he come back.
"Yankee come in that night. Moon shine lak a day. Stay in the Doctor house that night. Morning come, take a gang o' fowl and gone on!"
Visitor: "Aunt Margaret, what was your name before you were married?"
Margaret: "Margaret One. Brother and sister? I ain't one when I come here. Ain't meet aunty, uncle—none. Me and my brudder Michael wuz twin. I ain't meet none when I come here. All been sell. Me and my Ma One here. Mary One. Husband title, husband nichel (initial) been 'One.' Number one carpenter—give 'em that name Michael One—and he gibe 'em that name. Born Sandy Island. Been to landing to Watsaw when gun-boat come. Just a sneak long! Boat white. Hab (have) a red chimbley (chimney.) Didn't try to carry we off. Tell 'em 'Go and help youself.' Been after the buckra. (The Yankee trying to catch the buckra.)
"I see my Ma dye with some bush they call 'indigo,' and black walnut bark. Big old pen for the sheep-folds.
"My Pa sister, Ritta One had that job. Nuss (nurse) the chillun. Chillun house. One woman nuss (nurse) all the chillun while they ma in the field—rice field. All size chillun. Git the gipsy (gypsum) weed. Beat 'em up for worm. Give 'em when the moon change. Take a bucket and follow dem. And tell the Doctor how much a worm that one make and that one and count dem (them). When the moon change, do that.
"I have one born with caul. Loss he caul. Rat carry 'em. Ain't here; he see nothin. (The custom seems to be, to preserve the caul.)
"Child born feet fore-most see 'um too." (See spirit) "Talk chillun? Put duh switch. Put you 'Bull pen.' Hab 'um (have them) a place can't see you hand before you. Can't turn round good in there. Left you in there till morning. Give you fifty lash and send you to work. You ain't done that task, man and woman lick!
"Couldn't manage my ma. Obersheer (overseer) want to lick ma, Mary One say, 'Going drownded meself! I done my work! Fore I take a lick, rather drownded meself.'" Obersheer gone tell the Doctor. Tie her long rope. Right to Sandy Island. Man hold the rope. Gone on. Jump in river. So Doctor say, 'You too good labor for drown. Take dem (them) to Watsaw.' Me and she and man what paddle the boat. Bring her to weave. Two womans fuh card; two spin. Ma wop 'em off. Sail duh sheckel (shuttle) through there.
"Po-buckra come there and buy cloth from Ma. Buy three and four yard. Ma sell that, have to weave day and night to make up that cloth to please obersheer. Come big day time. 'Little chillun, whey (where) Mama?' Tell 'em Ma to the weaving house. Don't have money fuh pay. Bring hog and such like as that to pay.
"You know Marse Allard age? Me and Marse Allard suck together. Me and
Marse Allard and my brudder Michael. My ma fadder mix wid (with) the
Injun. Son Larry
Given by Aunt Margaret Bryant
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