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.
GEORGE ANN BUTLER
West of the paved highway at Garnett one may reach, after several miles, the old Augusta Road that follows along the Savannah River from Augusta to a landing point a little south of Garnett. Miles from the busy highway, it passes, in quiet majesty, between fields and woods, made rich by the river's overflow and heavy dews. Nature has done her best in producing beautiful evergreen trees of immense size and much luxuriant shrubbery of many kinds. Live oaks, magnolias, yellow slash pines, hollies, and many evergreen shrubs keep the woods even in winter, a fascinating wilderness to hunters and nature lovers. On this road George Ann Butler lives, and has lived for the seventy-five years of her life.
"I was born an' raised on de Greenwood place. It belonged to ole man Joe Bostick. He owned all dese places 'long dese here road. He own de Bostick place back yonder; den he own de Pipe Creek place next dat; den Oaklawn; den joinin' dat was Greenwood. De Colcock's Elmwood was next. My Husband was birth right here on de Pipe Creek, an' been here ever since. He kin tell you more'n I kin. I was George Anne Curry before I marry.
"I can't remember so much 'bout slavery time. I was crawlin' over de
floor when slavery time—dey tell me. But atter de war, I 'members.
Couldn't find no corn seed! Couldn't find no cotton seed! Couldn't find no
salt! You knows it was hard times when dere wasn't no salt to season de
"Cotton was de thing 'way back yonder. An' right 'long dis road dey'd haul it. Haul it to Cohen's Bluff! Haul it to Matthews Bluff! Haul it to Parichucla! Don't haul it dis way no more! Send de cotton to de railroad! But in dem days it was de ships dat carried it to Savannah. Cotton seem to be play out now—dey plant so much.
"I hear 'em tell 'bout de war, an' havin' to drill an' step when dey say step, an' throw up dey hands, when dey say throw up de hand. Everything had to be done jes' so! De war was sure a terrible thing."
Source: George Anne Butler, R. F. D. Garnett, S. C.
ISAIAH [HW: Solbert (?)] BUTLER, EX-SLAVE 79 YEARS
"Yes, dis is Isaiah Butler, piece of him. Ain't much left of him now. Yes, I knows all 'bout dis heah country from way back. I was born and raised right on dis same place here; lived here all my life 'sides from travellin' round a little space. Dere was a rice field not far from dis house here, where I plowed up more posts that had been used as landmarks! Dis place was de Bostick place, and it jined to de Thomson place, and de Thomson place to Edmund Martin's place dat was turned over to Joe Lawton, his son-in-law. Bill Daniel had charge of de rice field I was telling you 'bout. He was overseer, on de Daniel Blake place. Den dere was de Maner place, de Trowell, de Kelly, and de Wallace places. Back in dem times dey cultivated rice. Had mules to cultivate it! But cotton and corn was what dey planted most of all; 4,000 acres I think dey tell me was on dis place. I know it supposed to be more than ten miles square. Nobody know de landmarks 'cept me. When de Bostick boys came back from out west last year, dey had to come to me to find out where dere place was. Dey didn't know nuttin' 'bout it. Dey used to use twenty plow, and de hoe hands was over a hundred, I know.
"I 'member when de Yankees come through. I was no more'n a lad, nine or
ten years old. Bostick had a big gin-house, barn, stables, and such like.
And when de soldiers come a goat was up on de platform in front of de door
to de loft of de barn. Dere were some steps leadin' up dere and dat
"Fore dat time I was jes' a little boy too young to do nuttin'. Jes' played aroun' in de street. Ole Mr. Ben Bostick used to bring clothes an' shoes to us and see dat we was well cared for. Dere was nineteen houses in de street for us colored folks. Dey wuz all left by de soldiers. But in de year 1882 dere come a cyclone (some folks call it a tornado), and knocked down every house; only left four standing. Pieces of clothes and t'ings were carried for four or five miles from here. It left our house; but it took everyt'ing we had. It took de walls of de house, jes' left de floorin', an' it wus turn 'round. Took everyt'ing! I'd jes' been married 'bout a year, and you know how dat is. We jes' had to scuffle and scuffle 'roun' till de Lord bless us.
"Dere wuz plenty of deer, squirrel, possum, an' rabbits in dem times;
no more dan dere is now, but dere wuz no hinderance den as now. De deer
come right up to my door now; dey come all 'roun' dis house, and we cain't
do nuttin'. De other day one wuz over dere by dat peachtree, an' not long
ago four of 'em come walkin' right through dis yard. I don't go fishin' no
more. Folks say de streams is all dried up. But I used to be a good
"My father used to belong to General Butler, Dennis Butler was his name. My mother was a Maner, but originally she wuz draw out of de Robert estate. Ole Ben Bostick fuss wife wuz a Robert. Dey wuz sure wealthy folks. One of 'em went off to sail. Bill F. Robert wuz his name. He had so much money dat he say dat he goin' to de end of de world. He come back an' he say he went so close hell de heat draw de pitch from de vessel. But he lost his eyesight by it. Wa'n't (it was not) long after he got back dat he went stone blind.
"My ole boss, preacher Joe Bostick wuz one of de best of men. He wuz hard of hearin' like I is, an' a good ole man. But de ole lady, ole "Miss Jenny", she wuz very rough. She hired all de overseers, and she do all. If'n anybody try to go to de old man wid anyt'ing, she'd talk to 'em herself an' not let 'em see de old man.
"In slavery time de slaves wuz waked up every morning by de colored
over-driver blowin' a horn. Ole man Jake Chisolm wuz his name. Jes' at
daybreak, he'd put his horn through a crack in de upper part of de wall to
his house an' blow it through dat crack. Den de under-driver would go out
an' round 'em up. When dey done all dey day-work, dey come home an' cook
dey supper, an' wash up. Den dey blow de horn for 'em to go to
"My mother used to tell me dat if any didn't do dey day's work, dey'd be put in de stocks or de bill-bo. You know each wuz given a certain task dat had to be finish dat day. Dat what dey call de day-work. When dey put 'em in de stocks dey tie 'em hand and foot to a stick. Dey could lie down wid dat. I hear of colored folks doin' dat now to dare chillun when dey don't do. Now de bill-bo wuz a stabe (stave) drove in de ground, an' dey tied dere hands and den dere feet to dat, standin' up. Dey'd work on Saturday but dey wuz give Sundays. Rations wuz give out on Mondays. Edmund Lawton went over to Louisiana to work on de Catherine Goride place, but he come back, 'cause he say dey blow dey horn for work on Sunday same as any other day, and he say he wa'n't goin' to work on no Sunday. Dey didn't have a jail in dem times. Dey'd whip 'em, and dey'd sell 'em. Every slave know what, 'I'll put you in my pocket, sir!' mean.
"De slaves would walk when dey'd go anywhere. If'n dey buy a bunch of
slaves in New Orleans, dey'd walk by night and day. I 'member when one
young girl come back from refugin' wid de white folks, her feet were jes'
ready to buss open, and dat wuz all. You couldn't travel unless de boss
"If'n you wanted to send any news to anybody on another plantation, de overseer'd write de message for you and send it by a boy to de overseer of de other plantation, and he'd read it to de one you wrote to.
"When de war wuz over, ole man Jones cone over frum Georgia and sell t'ings to de colored folks. He'd sell 'em everyt'ing. He took all de colored folks' money!
"I learned to read when I wuz goin' to school when I wuz about fifteen years old, but I learned most I know after I wuz married, at night school, over on de Morrison place. De colored folks had de school, but 'course Mr. Morrison was delighted to know dey wuz havin' it. As for church, in de olden times, people used to, more or less, attend under de bush-arbor. In 1875 when I jined de church, ole man John Butler wuz de preacher.
"Ghosts? I'se met plenty of um! When I wuz courtin' I met many a
one—One got me in de water, once. And another time when I wuz crossing a
stream, I wuz on de butt end of de log, an' dey wuz on de blossom end, an'
we meet jes' as close as I is to you now. I say to him, same as to
anybody, 'I sure ain't goin' to turn back, and fall off dis log. Now de
best t'ing for you to do is to turn 'round and let me come atter (after)
"Abraham Lincoln done all he could for de colored folks. But dey cain't
none of 'em do nuttin' without de Lord."
Approx. 800 Words
SOLBERT BUTLER EX-SLAVE OF 82 YEARS
Miles from the highway old Solbert Butler lives alone under the shadow of the handsome winter home of an aged northerner upon the same soil that he has seen pass from Southerner to Negro, to Southerner, to Northerner. Though shrunken and bent with age he still enjoys talking.
"I lives in de Deer Country. A couple of months ago, I saw eight in a drove at one time, like a drove of sheep, or sech like. You can't raise nuthin' 'round here. Dey'll eat up your garden. And de wild turkey! And de partridge! But you can't shoot 'em without de Cassels give you a license to do it. Now he comin' next month and dere'll be more shootin'! But he aint able to hunt none hisself. He kin ride 'bout in de woods in de car. Dey are blessed people, though!
"Dis used to be de Bostick place. Old Massa Ben Bostick lived fourteen miles from here. Dere was Ben Bostick, Iva Bostick, Joe Bostick, Mr. Luther, Eddie Bostick, an' Jennie Jo Bostick. De place was divided up between 'em. O-oh! I couldn't number de plantations old Mr. Bostick owned. I think he owned fifteen plantations! He was de millinery (millionaire)! Oh, de Bosticks, O-oh!! De house dey live in, dey call um—what was it dey call um—de Paradise house. No one go to dat house but only de rich.
"At Christmas dey'd go up dere. And oh, I couldn't number it! Oh, it
was paradise. He was good to 'em. An' he whip 'em good, too! Tie 'em to de
fence post and whip 'em. But I didn't' have anythin' of dat. I was a
little boy. Jes' 'bout six year old when de war broke out. But I got
"Massa take me as a little boy as a pet. Took me right in de carriage! Had a little bed right by his own an' take care of me. Every morning dey bring in dey tray, an' go back. My uncle was a carriage man. Dey kept two fine horses jes' for de carriage. Massa'd come up to de Street every Monday morning with big trays of rations. He'd feed his colored folk, den go on back."
(Another old ex-slave from the same plantation had said that on Mondays the week's rations were given out.)
"Dey planted cotton, corn, peas, potatoes, rice—an' dey'd lick you! All de time, dey'd lick you. After dey'd lick 'em until de blood come out, den dey'd rub de red pepper and salt on 'em. Oh, my God! Kin you say dem as done sech as dat aint gone to deir reward? My uncle was so whip he went into de woods, an' live dere for months. Had to learn de independent life. Mr. Aldridge was de overseer. Old Mr. Aldridge gone now. But dere can't be no rest for him. Oh my God no! He do 'em so mean dat finally ole Massa hear 'bout it. And when he do hear 'bout it, he discharged him. He had everything discharged—to de colored driver. Den he got Mr. Chisolm. After Mr. Chisolm come in, everythin' jes' as sweet an' smooth as could be! Dere's a nice set of people for you—de Chisolms. Two of 'em livin' now. One at Garnett, an' one at Luray, I believe.
"I refugeed wid Massa. Dey come together in Virginia. Dey surrendered in Virginia. Set de house afire. And set all dey houses. Dey burned Massa's cotton. Over 200 bales! But if'n de colored folks begged for some, dey let 'em have some. I stayed right wid Massa. He carried me everywhere he went. Carried me all de way to Mill Haven, Georgia.
"After de war de colored folks jes' took an' plant de crop an' make de livin' wid de hoe. Didn't have no mule, no ox, or thin' like dat. When ole Massa come back, he took de cotton, an' give de colored folks de corn. De Yankees kill all de hog. Kill all de cow. Kill all de fowl. Left you nothin' to eat. If de colored folk had any chicken, dey jes' had to take dat an' try to raise 'em somethin' to eat.
"I'se a Methodist. I was converted under Elder Drayton—come from
Georgia at St. Luke Methodist Church on de Blake Plantation. De Blake
Plantation right dere. It jines dis one. De ole Methodist white folk's
church where I was baptized been take down. It was called de Union Church.
But de cemetery still dere. It right up dere not a mile down de road. Dere
was a good ole preacher name of Rev. Winborn Asa Lawton. An' de camp
meetin'! Oh, Lord, Lord! Dey had over a thousand dere. Come from
Orangeburg. Come from Aiken! An' come way from Cheraw! Come from
Charleston, Beaufort, and Savannah! De colored folks got a church now up
here on what used to be de Pipe Creek place of ole Ben Bostick where
"Ghosts? I used to 'em. I see 'em all de time. Good company! I live over dere by myself, an' dey comes in my house all de time. Sometime I walk along at night an' I see 'em. An' when you see 'em you see a sight. Dey play. Dey dance 'round an' 'round. Dey happy all right. But dey'll devil you, too. When dey find out dat you scary, dey'll devil you. Dey don't do nothin' to me. Only talk to me. I'll be in my house an' dey'll come talk to me. Or I'll be walkin' down de road, an' meet 'em. Dey'll pass de time of day wid me, Like:
'Hey, Solbert! How far you goin', Solbert?'
'I'se jes' goin' down de road a little piece,' I'll say.
"Or sometime dey'll say, 'Mornin', Solbert. How you feeling?'
'I'se jes' so so'.
'Now what you done dat for?'
'Well, dat aint nothin''
'Aint nothin'. But don't you do dat no more.'
"I talks to 'em jes' de same as if dey was somebody. Some folks outgrows 'em. But not me. You have to be born to see 'em. If'n you be born wrapped in de caul, you kin see 'em. But if you aint, you can't see 'em."
Source: Solbert Butler, 82 years, R. F. D. Scotia, S. C.
"Aunt Silvie", sitting out in the sunshine in the yard of a small negro cabin, on a warm day in January, seemed very old and feeble. Her answers to questions were rather short and she appeared to be preoccupied.
"I been fifteen year old when de Yankee come—fifteen de sixth of June. I saw 'em burn down me Massa's home, an' everythin'. I 'members dat. Ole man Joe Bostick was me Massa. An' I knows de Missus an' de Massa used to work us. Had de overseer to drive us! Work us till de Yankees come! When Yankee come dey had to run! Dat how de buildin' burn! Atter dey didn't find no one in it, dey burn! De Marshall house had a poor white woman in it! Dat why it didn't burn! My Massa's Pineland place at Garnett was burn, too. Dey never did build dis un (one) back. Atter dey come back, dey build deir house at de Pineland place.
"I wus mindin' de overseer's chillun. Mr. Beestinger was his name! An' his wife, Miss Carrie! I been eight year old when dey took me. Took me from me mother an' father here on de Pipe Creek place down to Black Swamp. Went down forty-two mile to de overseer! I never see my mother or my father anymore. Not 'til atter freedom! An' when I come back den I been married. But when I move back here, I stay right on dis Pipe Creek place from den on. I been right here all de time.
"Atter I work for Mr. Beestinger, I wait on Mr. Blunt. You know Mr. Blunt, ain't you? His place out dere now.
"Mr. Bostick was a good ole man. He been deaf. His chillun tend to his business—his sons. He was a preacher. His father was ole man Ben Bostick. De Pipe Creek Church was ole Missus Bostick's Mammy's church. When de big church burn down by de Yankees, dey give de place to de colored folks. Stephen Drayton was de first pastor de colored folks had. Dey named de church, Canaan Baptist Church. Start from a bush arbor. De white folks church was paint white, inside an' out. It was ceiled inside. Dis church didn't have no gallery for de colored folks. Didn't make no graveyard at Pipe Creek! Bury at Black Swamp! An' at Lawtonville! De people leave dat church an' go to Lawtonville to worship. Dey been worshipping at Lawtonville ever since before I could wake up to know. De Pipe Creek Church jes' stood dere, wid no service in it, 'til de Yankee burn it. De church at Lawtonville been a fine church. Didn't burn it! Use it for a hospital durin' de war!
"I'se 88 year old now an' can't remember so much. An' I'se blind! Blind in both eye!"
Source: Silvia Chisolm, R. F. D. Estill, S. C.
Stiles M. Scruggs
Columbia, S. C.
AN EX-SLAVE WHO CLIMBED UP
Tom Chisolm, a sixty-two year old bricklayer, 11 Railroad Street, Columbia, S. C., is a son of Caesar Chisolm, who represented Colleton County in the South Carolina House of Representatives for ten years. Caesar was one of the few leading Negroes, who voted and spoke for the Democratic Party and was friendly to the leaders of white supremacy until he died in 1897. Tom relates the following story:
"My daddy was born in slavery and he was always treated good by his master, de late Jimeson Chisolm, of Colleton County. He could read and figure up 'most anything, when he was set free, and he had notions of his own, too. For instance, he marry my mammy. She die soon after I was born, and daddy say to me: 'Son, your mammy is gone, but you need not fear dat any other woman will ever boss you. I's through with wives.' And he never marry again.
"I come to Columbia with him, when he serve in de Legislature. When he
tell de niggers and white folks, back in Colleton, dat he was not aimin'
to run for de Legislature no more, they was sad. One time I go with him to
Smoak's, where Congressman George D. Tillman was to speak on one of his
campaigns. I felt pretty big, when Congressman Tillman smile and grasp de
hand of my daddy and say: 'You's goin' to say a few words for me befo' I
starts, eh, Chisolm?' 'I sho' will, if you laks,' say my daddy. Soon he
mount de platform, and befo' he say a word, both de white and de niggers
clap deir hands and stamp deir feets and smile. My daddy bow, smile, and
say: 'Ladies and gentlemen: We, us, and company sent George Tillman to
Congress long ago and knows what he has done. Now we's gwine to send him
back, and I is a little in doubt as to whether he is gwine to take us to
Washington, or bring Washington down here!' He say, he jus' git started.
But de crowd was laughin', dancin', and huggin' de Congressman,
"He introduce Master Duncan Clinch Heyward at Walterboro in 1902, when Master Heyward was making his first race for governor. He raise such laughter and pay so many witty compliments to Master Heyward, dat Governor Heyward, when he was 'lected, appoint my daddy to an office in Columbia, and we come to Columbia to live in 1903. My daddy retire at de same time dat Governor Heyward quit office, in 1907. He later wrote insurance on de lives of niggers, and he prosper.
"'Bout 1885, my daddy happen to be walkin' near de corner of Gervais and Pulaski streets, and two niggers meet dere at de time and begin to quarrel. My daddy stop and watch them awhile. One of them niggers kill de other, and some time afterward a nigger lawyer come to see my daddy and ask him: 'Wasn't you dere?' 'I sho' was,' say my daddy. De nigger lawyer laugh and slap daddy on de back and say: 'Come on.' Daddy come back in a few hours pretty tipsy. 'Dat lawyer spend a lot on me,' say daddy, 'but de fool never let me tell him jus' what I knows.'
"A day or two afterward he was in de witness box. De nigger lawyer say: 'Now, Mister Chisolm, tell your tale in your own way.' Daddy say: 'I saw de defendant and de man, now dead, as they meet. They glare at each other and begin to talk harsh and cuss each other. Then, one strike at de other and they back 'way and begin to reach in deir hind pockets.' Daddy stop, and de nigger lawyer fairly scream: 'Yes, yes, go on!' 'That all I saw,' say my daddy, 'cause I run to cover. I made it to de next corner in nothin' flat and pick up speed afterward. So I was two blocks 'way, when I hear de shootin'!' De nigger lawyer nearly faint. He say: 'Who bought you off?' Daddy say he would have told him at de start, if he'd had de chance.
"At another time, we was down on de 700 block of Wayne Street, at a
nigger gatherin'. We often spend days down dere collectin' weekly
insurance dues, and we knowed most of de people. Dere happen to be a young
nigger dere, back from de West for a visit, and he was a great bragger. He
"My daddy cleared his throat and say: 'Dat am nothin' in de way of corn. One day I was walkin' past a forty-acre patch of corn, on de Governor Heyward plantation by de Combahee River and de corn was so high and thick, I decide to ramble through it. 'Bout halfway over, I hears a commotion. I walks on and peeps. Dere stands a four-ox wagon backed up to de edge of de field, and two niggers was sawin' down a stalk. Finally they drag it on de wagon and drive off. I seen one of them, in a day or two, and asks 'bout it. He say: 'We shelled 366 bushels of corn from dat one ear, and then we saw 800 feet of lumber from de cob.'
"Dat young man soon slip out from de crowd and has never been seen here since. I thinks daddy was outdone with me, 'cause I was not quickwitted and smart, lak him. He tell me once: 'You must learn two good trades, and I think carpenterin' and brick-layin' safest.' I done that, and I has never been sorry, 'cause I's made a good livin'. Governor Heyward was always a good friend of daddy, and he was proud to see us makin' good in de insurance business."
"Aunt Lucy is a tall well-built old woman who looks younger than her years. She delights in talking, and was glad to tell what she knew about the olden times.
"I don't know how old I been when de war end. If I been in de world I wasn't old enough to pick up nuthin'. Miss Lulie Bowers say I'll be 78 first of March coming. Miss Lulie was my 'young Missus'. I love Miss Lulie, and I thinks she thinks a heap of me—my young Missus, and her father, my young Massa. He good to his darkies. He was a rich man—even after de war. Miss Lulie say she was de only young lady that could go off to college after de war. Miss Lulie help me powerful. She give me shoes, and beddin. She and me grow up together. She is in de bed sick now. I jes' come from dere. Had de doctor to see her.
"I hear 'em tell 'bout how de soldiers burn 'em out. My mother would
tell me. My father had gone off to fight. Say dey'd tie de hams an' de
things on de saddle—and burn de expensive houses. White folks jes' had to
hide everything. She talk 'bout all de men was gone and de women had to
pile up, four or five in one house to protect deyselves. My father say
when dey been 'rough-few-gieing' (refugeeing) de Beaufort Bridge been burn
down. He say he been so hungry one time he stop to a old lady's house and
ask her for something to eat. She say she didn't have nothing but some dry
bread. He take de bread, but he say it been so hard, he threw some of it
away. But he say he so hungry he wish he hadn't throw it away. It was
"I had nine chillun for my first husband and one for my second husband. I raise 'em all 'till dey grown; but all dead now 'cept three. My husband died last year, I had to work for my chillun. But my second husband, he help me wid 'em.
"Dat's all I kin tell you, Miss. I don't remember so much. Chillun in those days weren't so bright as dey is now, you know."
Source: Lucy Daniels, 78 ex-slave, Luray, S. C.
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