Part 1 out of 3
Produced by Andrea Ball and PG Distributed Proofreaders. Produced
from images provided by the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division.
[TR: ***] = Transcriber Note
[HW: ***] = Handwritten Note
A Folk History of Slavery in the United States
From Interviews with Former Slaves
TYPEWRITTEN RECORDS PREPARED BY
THE FEDERAL WRITERS' PROJECT
THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS PROJECT
WORK PROJECTS ADMINISTRATION
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
SPONSORED BY THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
The Federal Writers' Project of
The Works Progress Administration
For the State of Kentucky
[TR: All county names added. Names, information in brackets added.]
Rev. John R. Cox
[Mrs. Elizabeth Alexander]
Susan Dale Sanders
[Martha J. Jones]
Annie B. Boyd
[A Bill of Sale.]
[Mrs. C. Hood]
Easter Sudie Campbell
Mary Wooldridge [TR: name corrected per interview.]
[Tinie Force and Elvira Lewis]
[Mrs. Jennie Slavin]
[TR: This volume contains a high number of misspellings and typing
errors. Words that are apparent misspellings to render dialect, such as
'morster' for 'master', or that reflect spelling errors of a particular
interviewer or typist, such as 'posess' for 'possess' or 'allegience'
for 'allegiance', have not been changed; words that are apparent typing
errors such as 'filed' for 'field', 'ot' for 'of', 'progent' for
'progeny', have been corrected without note, to avoid interrupting the
Garrard County. Ex-Slave Stories.
(Eliza Ison) [HW: Ky 9]
Interview with Dan Bogie:
Uncle Dan tells me "he was born May 5, 1858 at the Abe Wheeler place
near Spoonsville, now known as Nina, about nine miles due east from
Lancaster. Mother, whose name was Lucinda Wheeler, belonged to the
Wheeler family. My father was a slave of Dan Bogie's, at Kirksville, in
Madison County, and I was named for him. My mother's people were born in
Garrard County as far as I know. I had one sister, born in 1860, who is
now dead, and is buried not far from Lancaster. Marse Bogie owned about
200 acres of land in the eastern section of the county, and as far as I
can remember there were only four slaves on the place. We lived in a
one-room cabin, with a loft above, and this cabin was an old fashioned
one about hundred yards from the house. We lived in one room, with one
bed in the cabin. The one bed was an old fashioned, high post corded bed
where my father and mother slept. My sister and me slept in a trundle
bed, made like the big bed except the posts were made smaller and was on
rollers, so it could be rolled under the big bed. There was also a
cradle, made of a wooden box, with rockers nailed on, and my mother told
me that she rocked me in that cradle when I was a baby. She used to sit
and sing in the evening. She carded the wool and spun yarn on the old
spinning wheel. My grandfather was a slave of Talton Embry, whose farm
joined the Wheeler farm. He made shingles with a steel drawing knife,
that had a wooden handle. He made these shingles in Mr. Embry's yard. I
do not remember my grandmother, and I didn't have to work in slave days,
because my mother and father did all the work except the heavy farm
work. My Mistus used to give me my winter clothes. My shoes were called
brogans. My old master had shoes made. He would put my foot on the
floor and mark around it for the measure of my shoes.
Most of the cooking was in an oven in the yard, over the bed of coals.
Baked possum and ground hog in the oven, stewed rabbits, fried fish and
fired bacon called "streaked meat" all kinds of vegetables, boiled
cabbage, pone corn bread, and sorghum molasses. Old folks would drink
coffee, but chillun would drink milk, especially butter milk.
Old master would call us about 4 o'clock, and everybody had to get up
and go to "Starring"[TR:?]. Old Marse had about 30 or 40 sugar trees
which were tapped, in February. Elder spiles were stuck in the taps for
the water to drop out in the wooden troughs, under the spiles. These
troughs were hewed out of buckeye. This maple water was gathered up and
put in a big kettle, hung on racks, with a big fire under it. It was
then taken to the house and finished upon the stove. The skimmings after
it got to the syrup stage was builed down and made into maple sugar for
We wore tow linen clothes in summer and jeans in winter. Sister wore
linsey in winter of different colors, dyed from herbs, especially poke
berries; and wore unbleached cotton in summer, dyed with yellow mustard
My grandfather, Jim Embry mended shoes and made fairly good ones.
There were four slaves. My mother did cooking and the men did the work.
Bob Wheeler and Arch Bogie were our masters. Both were good and kind to
us. I never saw a slave shipped, for my boss did not believe in that
kind of punishment. My master had four boys, named Rube, Falton, Horace,
and Billie. Rube and me played together and when we acted bad old Marse
always licked Rube three or four times harder then he did me because
Rube was older. Their daughter was named American Wheeler, for her
White folks did not teach us to read and write. I learned that after I
left my white folks. There was no church for slaves, but we went to the
white folks church at Mr. Freedom. We sat in the gallery. The first
colored preacher I ever heard was old man Leroy Estill. He preached in
the Freedom meeting house (Baptist). I stood on the banks of Paint Lick
Creek and saw my mother baptized, but do not remember the preachers name
or any of the songs they sung.
We did not work on Saturday afternoon. The men would go fishing, and the
women would go to the neighbors and help each other piece quilts. We
used to have big times at the corn shuckings. The neighbors would come
and help. We would have camp fires and sing songs, and usually a big
dance at the barn when the corn was shucked. Some of the slaves from
other plantations would pick the banjo, then the dance. Miss Americe
married Sam Ward. I was too young to remember only that they had good
things to eat.
I can remember when my mothers brother died. He was buried at the
Wheeler, but I do not recall any of the songs, and they did not have a
preacher. My mother took his death so hard.
There was an old ash hopper, made of slats, put together at the bottom
and wide at the top. The ashes were dumped in this and water poured over
them. A drip was made and lye caught in wooden troughs. This was then
boiled down and made into soap. My mother let me help stir it many a
time. Then the big kettle would be lifted from the fire and left until
cold. My mother would then block it off, and put on a wooden plank to
dry out until ready for use."
Interview with Dan Bogie, Ex-Slave.
Garrard County. Ex-Slave Stories.
(Eliza Ison) [HW: Ky 13]
Interview with George Henderson:
Uncle George tells me that he was born May 10, 1860 near Versailles, in
Woodford County, Kentucky. His father's name was Bradford Henderson, who
was a slave of Milford Twiman who belonged to the Cleveland family. He
does not know where his family came from. There were 21 children
including two or three sets of twins. All died while young, except his
brothers: Milford, Sam, and Joe; and sisters: Elle and Betsy. All the
slaves lived in log cabins and there were about 30 or 40 of them on a
plantation of 400 acres. "The cabin I was born in had four rooms, two
above and two below. The rooms above were called lofts, and we climbed
up a ladder to get to these rooms. We slept on trundle-beds, which were
covered with straw ticks. Our covers were made in big patches from old
cast-off clothes. When we got up in the morning we shoved the trundle
bed back under the big bed. Some boy would ring a great big bell, called
the "farm bell" about sunrise. Some went to the stables to look after
the horses and mules. Plowing was done with a yoke or oxen. The horses
were just used for carriages and to ride. My work was pulling weeds,
feeding chickens, and helping to take care of the pigs. Marse Cleveland
had a very bad male hog and had to keep him in a pen about 10 feet high.
Sometimes he would break out of the pen and it would take all the
bulldogs in the county to get him back. I never did earn any money, but
worked for my food and clothes. My daddy used to hunt rabbits and
possums. I went with him and would ride on his back with my feet in his
pockets. He had a dog named Brutus which was a watch dog. My daddy would
lay his hat down anywhere in the woods and Brutus would stay by the hat
until he would come back. We ate all kinds of wild food, possum, and
rabbits baked in a big oven. Minnows were fished from the creeks and
fried in hot grease. We ate this with pone corn bread. We had plenty of
vegetables to eat. An old negro called "Ole Man Ben" called us to eat.
We called him the dinner bell because he would say "Who-e-e, God-dam
your blood and guts".
Out clothes were made of jeens and linsey in winter. In the summer we
wore cotton clothes. They gave us shoes at Christmas time. We were
measured with sticks. Once I was warming my shoes on a back log on the
big fire place, they fell over behind the logs and burnt up. I didn't
marry while on the plantation.
My master and mistress lived in the big brick house of 15 rooms, with
two long porches. One below and one below. My mistus was Miss Lucy
Elmore before she married. Her children were named Miss Mat, Miss Emma,
and Miss Jennie.
I saw the slaves in chains after they were sold. The white folks did not
teach us to read and write. We had church on the plantation but we went
from one plantation to another to hear preaching. White folks preacher's
name was Reuben Lee, in Versailles. A meeting of the Baptist Church
resulted in the first baptizing I ever saw. It was in Mr. Chillers pond.
The preacher would say 'I am baptizing you in Mr. Chillers pond because
I know he is an honest man'. I can't remember any funeral.
I remember one slave named Adams who ran away and when he came back my
old master picked up a log from the fire and hit him over the head. We
always washed up and cleaned up for Sunday. Some time the older ones
would get drunk.
On Christmas and New Years day we would go up to the house and they
would give us candy and fruit and fire-crackers. We were given some of
all the food that the white folks had, even turkey. Would have heaps of
corn-shuckings, the neighbors would come in and then we'd have big
dances and old Marse would always have a "jug of licker".
If a cat crossed our path we would turn backwards for a while. When I
was about 9 or 10 years old I went from the cabin to the big kitchen to
make the fire for my mammy to get the breakfast and I saw ole man Billie
Cleveland standing looking up in the sky. He had been dead about 3 or 4
years; but I saw him.
The white folks looked after us when we were sick. Used dock leaves,
slippery elm for poultices. They put polk root in whiskey and gave it to
When the news came we were freed every body was glad. The slaves cleared
up the ground and cut down trees. Stayed with Marse Cleveland the first
year after the war. Have heard the Klu Klux Klan ride down the road,
wearing masks. None ever bothered me or any of Marse Clevelands slaves.
I married years after I left Marse Cleveland. Married Lucy Mason the
first time and had three children, two girls and 1 boy. I didn't have no
children by my second marriage, but the third time I had four. One died.
I have eight grandchildren.
We had no overseer but Marse Hock was the only boy and the oldest child.
We had no white trash for neighbors. I have seen old covered wagons
pulled by oxen travelling on the road going to Indianny and us children
was whipped to keep us away from the road for fear they would steal us."
Interview with George Henderson, Ex-slave.
Garrard County. Ex-Slave Stories.
(Eliza Ison) [HW: Ky 11]
Aunt Harriet Mason--Ex-Slave:
She was born one mile below Bryantsville on the Lexington Pike in
Garrard County, and was owned by B.M. Jones. She gives the date of her
birth as April 14, 1847. Aunt Harriet's father was Daniel Scott, a slave
out of Mote Scott's slave family. Aunt Harriet's mother's name was Amy
Jones, slave of Marse Briar Jones, who came from Harrodsburg, Ky. The
names of her brothers were Harrison, Daniel, Merida, and Ned; her
sisters were Susie and Maria. Miss Patsy, wife of Marse Briar gave Maria
to Marse Sammy Welsh, brother of Miss Patsy's and who lived with his
sister. He taught school in Bryantsville for a long time. "General Gano
who married Jane Welsh, adopted daughter of Marse Briar Jones, took my
sisters Myra and Emma, Brother Ned and myself to Tarrant County, Texas
to a town called Lick Skillet, to live. Grapevine was the name of the
white folks house. It was called Grapevine because these grapevines
twined around the house and arbors. Sister Emma was the cook and Myra
and me were nurse and house maids. Brother married Betty Estill, a slave
who cooked for the Estill family. Mr. Estill later bought Ned in order
to keep him on the place. I didn't sleep in the cabins with the rest of
the Negroes; I slept in the big house and nursed the children. I was not
paid any money for my work. My food was the same as what the white folks
et. In the summer time we wore cotton and tow linen; and linsey in the
winter. The white folks took me to church and dressed me well. I had
good shoes and they took me to church on Sunday. My master was a
preacher and a doctor and a fine man. Miss Mat sho was hard to beat. The
house they lived in was a big white house with two long porches. We had
no overseer or driver. We had no "Po white neighbors". There was about
300 acres of land around Lick Skillet, but we did not have many slaves.
The slaves were waked up by General Gano who rang a big farm bell about
four times in the morning. There was no jail on the place and I never
say a slave whipped or punished in any way. I never saw a slave
auctioned off. My Mistus taught all the slaves to read and write, and we
set on a bench in the dining room. When the news came that we were free
General Gano took us all in the dining room and told us about it. I told
him I wusn't going to the cabins and sleep with them niggers and I
didn't. At Christmas and New Years we sho did have big times and General
Gano and Miss Nat would buy us candy, popcorn, and firecrackers and all
the good things just like the white folks. I don't remember any
weddings, but do remember the funeral of Mr. Marion who lived between
the big house and Lick Skillet. He was going to be buried in the
cemetery at Lick Skillet, but the horses got scared and turned the
spring wagon over and the corpse fell out. The mourners sure had a time
getting things straightened out, but they finally got him buried.
They used to keep watermelon to pass to company. Us children would go to
the patch and bring the melons to the big spring and pour water over
them and cool 'em. When news came that we were free we all started back
to Kentucky to Marse Jones old place. We started the journey in two
covered wagons and an ambulance. General Gano and Miss Nat and the two
children and me rode in the ambulance. When we got to Memphis we got on
a steam boat named "Old Kentucky". We loaded the ambulance and the two
wagons and horses on the boat. When we left the boat, we got on the
train and got off at Georgetown in Scott County and rode from there to
General Gano's Brother William in Scott County, on a stage coach. When I
took the children, Katy and Maurice, upstairs to wash them I looked out
the window into the driveway and saw the horses that belonged to Marse
Briar Jones. They nickered at the gate trying to get in. The horses were
named Henry Clay and Dan. When the children went down I waved at the
horses and they looked up at the window and nickered again and seemed to
know me. When we were coming back from Texas, Maurice held on the plait
of my hair all the way back. I didn't marry while I belonged to the Gano
family. I married Henry Mason after I came to Lancaster to live about
sixty years ago. I am the mother of nine children, three boys and six
girls. There are two living. I have no grand-children. I joined the
church when the cholera epidemic broke out in Lancaster in 1878. The
preacher was Brother Silas Crawford, of the Methodist Church. I was
baptized in a pond on Creamery Street. I think people ought to be
religious because they live better and they love people more."
Aunt Harriet lived at the present behind the White Methodist Church in
Lancaster. The daughter with whom she lives is considered one of the
high class of colored people in Lancaster. She holds an A.B. Degree,
teaching in the colored city school, and is also a music teacher. She
stands by the teaching of her mother, being a "Good Methodist"; giving
of her time, talent, and service for her church.
Interview with Aunt Harriet Mason, Lancaster, Kentucky.
Garrard County. Ex-Slave Stories.
Interview with Bert Mayfield:
Bert Mayfield was born in Garrard County, May 29, 1852, two miles south
of Bryantsville on Smith Stone's place. His father and mother were Ped
and Matilda Stone Mayfield, who were slaves of Smith Stone who came from
Virginia. His brothers were John, Harrison, Jerry, and Laurence, who
died at an early age.
He lived on a large plantation with a large old farm house, built of
logs and weatherboards, painted white. There were four rooms on the
first floor, and there were also finished rooms on the second floor. An
attic contained most of the clothes needed for the slaves. "Uncle Bert"
in his own language says, "On Christmas each of us stood in line to get
our clothes; we were measured with a string which was made by a cobbler.
The material had been woben by the slaves in a plantation shop. The flax
and hemp were raised on the plantation. The younger slaves had to
"swingle it" with a wooden instrument, somewhat like a sword, about two
feet long, and called a swingler. The hemp was hackled by the older
slaves. The hackle was an instrument made of iron teeth, about four
inches long, one-half inch apart and set in a wooden plank one and
one-half feet long, which was set on a heavy bench. The hemp stalks were
laid on these benches and hackled herds were then pulled through and
heaped in piles and taken to the work shops where it was twisted and
tied then woven, according to the needs. Ropes, carpets, and clothing
were made from this fiber.
"Our cabins were usually one room with a loft above which we reached by
a ladder. Our beds were trundle beds with wheels on them to push them
under the big beds. We slept on straw ticks covered with Lindsey
quilts, which were made from the cast-off clothes, cut into squares and
Bert can just remember his grandparents.
He would feed pigs; pulled "pusley" out of the garden for them "and them
pigs loved it mighty well".
No money was paid for work. Bacon and "pone bread" baked in the yard in
an oven that had legs and lid on top was the chief food and his
favorite. The coals were put on top as well as under the oven. They
drank sweet milk and butter milk, but no coffee; they also ate cabbage,
squash, sweet and Irish potatoes, which were cooked with, skins on,
greased, and put in the oven. "Possum" and coon hunts were big events,
they would hunt all night. The possums were baked in the ovens and
usually with sweet potatoes in their mouths. The little boys would fish,
bringing home their fish to be scaled by rubbing them between their
hands, rolled in meal and cooked in a big skillet. "We would eat these
fish with pone corn bread and we sho' had big eatins!"
Marse Stone had a big sugar camp with 300 trees. We would be waked up at
sun-up by a big horn and called to get our buckets and go to the sugar
camps and bring water from the maple trees. These trees had been tapped
and elderwood spiles were placed in the taps where the water dripped to
the wooden troughs below. We carried this water to the big poplar
troughs which were about 10 feet long and 3 feet high. The water was
then dipped out and placed in different kettles to boil until it became
the desired thickness for "Tree Molasses". Old Miss Polly would always
take out enough of the water to boil down to make sugar cakes for us
boys. We had great times at these "stirrin' offs" which usually took
place at night.
The neighbors would usually come and bring their slaves. We played
Sheep-meat and other games. Sheep-meat was a game played with a yarn
ball and when one of the players was hit by the ball that counted him
out. One song we would always sing was "Who ting-a-long? Who
ting-a-long? Who's been here since I've been gone? A pretty girl with a
There was no slave jail on the Stone place, and I never saw a slave sold
or auctioned off. I was told that one of our slaves ran off and was gone
for three years. Some white person wrote him to come home that he was
free. He was making his own way in Ohio and stopped in Lexington,
Kentucky for breakfast; while there he was asked to show his Pass papers
which he did, but they were forged so he was arrested. Investigators
soon found that his owner was Mr. Stone who did not wish to sell him and
sent for him to come home. Uncle Ned's own Tim said he "would go fetch
him back" but instead he sold him to a southern slave trader. My old
Mistus Meg taught me how to read from an old national spelling book, but
I did not learn to write. We had no church, but the Bible was read to us
on Sunday afternoons by some of the white folks. The first Church I
remember was the Old Fork Baptist Church about four miles from Lancaster
on the Lexington Pike. The first preacher I remember was Burdette
Kemper. I heard him preach at the old church where my Mistus and Master
took me every Sunday. The first Baptizin' that I remember was on Dix
Fiver near Floyd's Mill. Preacher Kemper did the Baptizin' and Ellen
Stone, one of our slaves was Baptized there with a number of
others--whites and blacks too. When Ellen came up out of the water she
was clapping her hands and shouting. One of the songs I remember at this
"Come sinners and Saints and hear me tell
The wonders of E-Man-u-el,
Who brought my soul with him to dwell
And give me heavenly union."
"The first funeral sermon I remember was preached by John Moran, negro
at the first Baptist here in Lancaster.
"The negroes would talk among themselves, but never carried tales to the
white folks. I never heard of any trouble between blacks and whites. On
Sunday's we would hold prayer meetings among ourselves. The neighbors
would come when slaves were sick. Old Mistus looked after us, giving us
teas made of catnip and vermifuge. Poultices of dock leaves and slippery
elm were also used when were sick. Some of the slaves wore rabbit feet
for charms and skins of snakes for a belt as a charm.
"My first wedding was 53 years ago. The woman was named Emma Barren,
raised by Dr. Pettus. I had no children. We went to Mr. Spencer Hubble
to live, in Lincoln County. We had no chil [TR: This sentence appears to
have been unfinished or erased.]
I received the first news of freedom joyfully. I went to old man
Onstott's to live. I lived there two or three years. I think Abe Lincoln
a great man. He did not believe in slavery and would have paid the
southern people for their slaves if he had lived. All the slaves on
Morse Stone's place were treated well.
Interview with Bert Mayfield.
Mercer County. Ex-Slave Stories.
Interview with Will Oats--Ex-Slave:
Will Oats, 84 years of age, was born in Wayne County, up Spring Valley
in 1854. He was the son of Betty Oats and Will Garddard of North
Carolina. He has three sisters: Lucy Wilson, Frances Phillips that live
in Ohio, and Alice Branton of Mercer County, Kentucky. He has two
brothers; Jim Coffey and Lige Coffey of Harrodsburg.
As a child he lived with his mother, brothers, sisters, and grandmother.
Their quarters were in the yard of their master; and they were as
comfortable as any slaves--with plenty to eat and clothes to keep them
Will was just a boy at that time, and he cut wood and carried it in; and
did other chores around the house such as help to milk and feed the
stock. Their food was plentiful and they ate all kinds of vegetables,
and had plenty of milk and butter, fat meat, and bread.
The family all wore home made clothing, cotton shirts, heavy shoes, very
heavy underwear; and if they wore out their winter shoes before the
spring weather they had to do without until the fall.
Will was owned by Lewis Oats and his sister; they lived in a two story
house, built of log and weather boarded. They were very wealthy people.
The farm consisted of over 230 acres; they owned six slaves; and they
had to be up doing their morning work before the master would wake.
When working and the slaves would disobey their master, they were
punished in some way; but there was no jail. They didn't know how to
read or write, and they had no church to attend. All they had to do when
not at work was to talk to the older folks. On Christmas morning they
would usually have a little extra to eat and maybe a stick of candy. On
New Year's Day their work went on just the same as on any other day.
Will, as a boy loved to play marbles which was about the most
interesting game they had to play. Of course, they could play outside as
all children do now when they had spare time.
At that time there were few doctors and when the slaves would get hurt
or sick, they were usually looked after by the master or by their
After the war had closed, Will's grandmother walked from Monticello to
Camp Nelson to get her free papers and her children. They were all very
happy, but they were wondering what they were going to do without a
home, work, or money. But after Will and his mother and grandmother got
their freedom, the grandmother bought a little land and house and they
all went there to live. Of course, they worked out for other people and
raised a great deal of what they ate. Will lived there until he grew
older and went out for himself; and later moved to Mercer County where
he now lives.
Interview with Will Oats, Ex-Slave of Mercer County.
Garrard County. Ex-Slave Stories.
Aunt Belle Robinson:
I found Aunt Belle sitting on the porch, dressed nice and clean with a
white handkerchief pinned on her neck. When I went to her and told her
who I was and the reason for my visit her face beamed with smiles and
she said "Lawdy, it has been so long that I have forgot nearly
everything I knew".
Further investigation soon proved that she had not forgotten, for her
statements were very intelligent. She was working on a quilt and close
investigation found that the work was well done. Aunt Belle tells me "I
was born June 3rd, 1853 in Garrard County near Lancaster. My mother's
name was Marion Blevin and she belonged to the family of Pleas Blevin.
My father's name was Arch Robinson who lived in Madison County. Harrison
Brady bought me from Ole Miss Nancy Graham and when Mr. Brady died and
his property was sold Mrs. Brady bought me back; and she always said
that she paid $400 for me. I lived in that family for three generations,
until every one of them died. I was the only child and had always lived
at the big house with my mistus. I wore the same kind of clothes and ate
the same kind of food the white people ate. My mother and father lived
at the cabin in the yard and my mother did the cooking for the family.
My father did the work on the farm with the help that was hired from the
neighbors. I was too young to remember much about the slave days, but I
never heard of any slaves of the neighbors being punished. My "Mistus"
always took me to the Baptist Church with her. I do not remember any
preacher's names or any songs they sang."
Interview with Aunt Belle Robinson, Ex-Slave of Garrard County.
Monroe County. Folklore.
(Lenneth Jones-242) [HW: Essay]
Uncle Edd Shirley (97):
Janitor at Tompkinsville Drug Co. and Hospital,
[TR: Information moved from bottom of page.]
I am 97 years old and am still working as janitor and support my family.
My father was a white man and my mother was a colored lady. I was owned
three different times, or rather was sold to three different families. I
was first owned by the Waldens; then I was sold to a man by the name of
Jackson, of Glasgow, Kentucky. Then my father, of this county, bought
I have had many slave experiences. Some slaves were treated good, and
some were treated awful bad by the white people; but most of them were
treated good if they would do what their master told them to do.
I onced saw a light colored gal tied to the rafters of a barn, and her
master whipped her until blood ran down her back and made a large pool
on the ground. And I have seen negro men tied to stakes drove in the
ground and whipped because they would not mind their master; but most
white folks were better to their slaves and treated them better than
they are now. After their work in the fields was finished on Saturday,
they would have parties and have a good time. Some old negro man would
play the banjo while the young darkies would dance and sing. The white
folks would set around and watch; and would sometimes join in and dance
My colored grand father lived to be 115 years old, and at that age he
was never sick in his life. One day he picked up the water bucket to go
to the spring, and as he was on his way back he dropped dead.
Garrard County. Ex-Slave Stories.
Interview with Ex-Slave Uncle Wes Woods:
My first visit to uncle Wes Wood, and his wife Aunt Lizzie Wood, found
them in their own comfortable little home in Duncantown, a nice urban
section of the town, where most of the inhabitants are of the better
class of colored people. A small yard with a picket fence and gate
surround the yard, which had tall hollyhocks, rearing their heads high
above the fence.
A knock on the front door brought the cordial invitation "to come in".
Upon entering, I was invited to have a chair and "rest my hat". After
seating myself and making inquiry as to their health, I told them the
object of my visit, and their faces beamed when I asked if they
remembered "slave days". Aunt Lizzie set down the can of beans she was
preparing for their meal and said with a clasp of her hands, "Lawsey,
Honey, what I do know would fill a book".
Uncle Wes had been a "shut-in" for eleven months, and was in bed, but
was cheerful and bright with an intelligent memory, rarely found in one
his age. Uncle Wes tells me that he was born May 21, 1864 in Garrard
County, near Cartersville, and was first a slave of Mrs. Eliza Kennedy,
who later married John Yeakey, of that section of the county. "My
father's name was Ben Woods, my mother's name was Janie Woods, but I do
not know what family she belonged to except the Woods. My master owned
about three or four hundred acres of land, and there were about twenty
slaves, including the children.
There were three or four cabins for the slaves to live in, not so very
far from the house. The cabin where my mother and father lived was the
closest to the house, for my mother did the cooking. Our cabin was one
long room, with a loft above, which we reached with a ladder. There was
one big bed, with a trundle bed, which was on wooden rollers and was
shoved under the big bed in the daytime. The oldest boys slept in a big
wooden bed in the loft. The cabins were built of logs and chinked with
rock and mud. The ceiling was of joists, and my mother used to hang the
seed that we gathered in the fall, to dry from these joists. Some of the
chimneys were made with sticks and chinked with mud, and would sometimes
catch on fire. Later people learned to build chimneys of rock with big
wide fire places, and a hearth of stone, which made them safer from
"I chopped corn and pulled weeds and the other work hands would let me
ride behind them beck to the big house, and My! how hungry I wuz and how
we did eat. We would have beans, cooked in a big kettle in the back
yard, cabbage and potatoes, with corn pone bread, baked in a big oven In
the yard and plenty of good buttermilk to drink.
"My young bosses, when I lived in the Kennedy family would take the dogs
and let me go coon hunting at night with them, and what big times we
had. The possums were skinned and cooked in a big kettle hung over the
fire, then taken out and put in a big oven to take. A piece of streaked
meat was put in and a small pod of red pepper--My-My what eatin' we had!
"We fished with a stock pole and a twine string. We had big times
hunting fishing worms for bait. We used to catch Hockney, Hads and
Chubs. My mistus would not let me go fishing on Sunday, but I would slip
off and go anyhow. I nearly always had a good string caught and I would
tie them to a branch on the creek until the next day; then I would go
fishing and in about two hours I would come back with the fish, and she
would say, "Wes, you had good luck today"; and I would say, "Yes Mistus,
I did", but never did I tell her when I caught the fish.
"My first wife was Lou Burnsides and we had five children: Eliza,
Fannie, George, Julia, and Jennie. All of them are dead but two. I have
no children by my present wife.
"I never saw a slave whipped or in chains. My boss did not believe in
that kind of punishment. If the children needed whipping, it was done
like all other children are whipped when they need it.
"The first colored preacher I recall was named John Reed, a Baptist
preacher at Paint Lick. I joined the church at Lowell, not very far from
here. The preachers name was Leroy Estill, a "Predestinerian".
"Marse Woods had five children, two boys and three girls, none of them
"We were glad when the news came that we were free, but none of us left
for a long time, not until the Woods family was broken up. My father
hired me out to work for my vituals and clothes, and I got $25.00 at the
end of the year. I do not remember of any wedding or death in my old
"I believe in heart-felt religion and prayer. The Good Book teaches us
we must be prepared for another world after this. I want to go to Heaven
when I die, and I try to live by the Bible."
Interview with Wes Woods, Ex-Slave of Garrard County.
Customs: By Counties
Slavery: Local History and Dialect
Story of Ann Gudgel (age unknown):
"I doesn't know how old I am, but I was a little girl when dat man
Lincum freed us niggahs. My mammy neber tole us our age, but I knows
I'se plenty old, cause I feels like it.
"When I was a liddle girl all of us was owned by Master Ball. When
Lincum freed us neggahs, we went on and libbed with Master Ball till us
chilluns was bout growed up. None of us was eber sold, cause we belonged
to the Balls for always back as far as we could think.
"Mammy worked up at the big house, but us chilluns had to stay at de
cabin. But I didn't berry much care, cause ole Miss had a liddle child
jest bout my age, and us played together.
"The onliest time ole Miss eber beat me was when I caused Miss Nancy to
get et up wit de bees. I tole her 'Miss Nancy, de bees am sleep, lets
steal de honey.' Soon as she tetched it, day flew all ober us, and it
took Mammy bout a day to get the stingers outen our haids. Ole Miss jest
natually beat me up bout dat.
"One day they vaccinated all de slaves but mine neber took atall. I
nebber tole noboddy, but I jest set right down by de fireplace and
rubbed wood ashes and juice that spewed outen de wood real hard ober de
scratch. All de others was real sick and had the awfullest arms, but
mine neber did eben hurt."
(These two stories were told by Mrs. Heyburn as she remembered them from
"When the War was going on between the States and the Confederate
soldiers had gone south, the Yankee soldiers came through. There was a
little negro slave boy living on the farm and he had heard quite a bit
about the Yankees, so one day they happened to pass through where he
could see them and he rushed into the house and said, "Miss Lulu, I saw
a Yankee, and he was a man."
"I remember the slaves on my grandfather's farm. After they were freed
they asked him to keep them because they didn't want to leave. He told
them they could stay and one of the daughters of the slaves was married
in the kitchen of my grandfather's house. After the wedding they set
supper for them. Some of the slave owners were very good to their
slaves; but some whipped them until they made gashes in their backs and
would put salt in the gashes.
Story of Uncle George Scruggs, a colored slave:
I wuz a slave befo de wa. My boss, de man dat I b'long to, wuz Ole Man
Vol Scruggs. He wuz a race hoss man. He had a colod boy faw evy hoss dem
days and a white man faw evy hoss, too. I wuz bawn rite here in Murry.
My boss carrid me away frum here. I thought a heap uv him and he though
a heap uv me. I'd rub de legs uv dem hosses and rode dem round to gib em
excise. I wuz jes a small boy when my boss carrid me away from Murry. My
boss carrid me to Lexinton. I staid wid Ole Man Scruggs a long time. I
jes don no how long. My boss carrid me to his brother, Ole Man Finch
Scruggs. He run a sto and I had to sweep de flo uv de sto, wash dishes
and clean nives and falks evy day. Ole Man Finch Scruggs carrid my uncle
up thar wen Ole Vol carrid me. Ole Man Finch Scruggs liv'd at a little
town called Clintinvil on tuther side uv Lexinton. Wen Ole man Vol
Scruggs marid, he take me away from Old Man Finch Scruggs and carrid me
to liv wid him. I wuz den wid my ole boss again. He den hired me to wuk
faw a docta in Lexinton. My job wuz to clean up his ofis and wen he went
out en de cuntry, he took me long to open de gates. I had to skowa nives
and fawks and ole brass canel stix. Dats been a long time ago, Ize
tellin you, white man. While I wuz sweepin de doctas ofis one day I saw
droves uv colud folks gwine by wid two white men ridin in front, two
ridin in de midel, and two ridin behind. De colud folks wuz wulkin,
gwine down town to be sold. When I fust seen em comin I got scared an
started to run but de white man said, "stop, boy, we is not gwine a hurt
you." I staid wid dat boss docta sumpin like a yer, an den wont back to
my Ole Boss. I'd a been up thar wid im yet but he kep telin me I wuz
free. But I diden no whut he mean by sich talk. Wen my Ole Boss sole out
up thar, he brung me wid him on to Paducah.
He had a neffu in de wholesale grocy bisness in Paducah. My Old Boss
carrid me to his neffu and lef me thar. Dat wuz de las time I eva saw my
good Ole Boss caus he went on to Missouri. My Old Boss wuz sho good to
me, white man. I sho do luv im yet. Wy, he neva wood low me to go
barfooted, caus he wuz afraid I'd stick thorns in my feet, an if he eva
caut me barfooted, he sho wod make my back tell it. Wen he lef me in
Paducah, his neffu took me over to my ant, Rose Scruggs to stay all nite
wid her. Nex day I walked wid my cousin to Mayfield, carryin two toe
sacks uv cloes dat my Good Ole Boss give me wen he lef me in Paducah. De
cloze wuz faw me an my muther. Wen we got to Mayfield, we went strate to
Judge Williams caus he marrid my Ole Boss' sister and I wuz sho we could
stay wid dem. My Ole Boss an my muther wuz play-children together. My
muther's name wuz Patsy Malone. Mr. Maline's wife wuz my Ole Boss'
sister and my muther fell to her as a slave. Next day I come to Murry
whar my muther lived wid Miss Emily Malone. I wuz gone a long time caus
my Ole Boss took me way from Murry wen I wuz a small boy. I staid wid my
muther til she died. I now live in one mile uv de house whar I wuz bawn.
Mr. Hugh Wear sez I is 100 years old.
Story of Aunt Harriet Mason age 100--a slave girl:
"When I was seven years old my missis took me to Bourbon County, when we
got to Lexington I tried to run off and go back to Bryantsville to see
my mammy. Mas'r Gano told me if I didn't come the sheriff would git me.
I never liked to go to Lexington since.
"One Sunday we was going to a big meetin' we heared som'in rattling in
the weeds. It was a big snake, it made a track in the dust. When we got
home missis asked me if I killed any snakes. I said to missis, snake
like to got me and Gilbert, too.
"They used to have dances at Mrs. Dickerson's, a neighbor of General
Gano (a preacher in the Christian Church). Mrs. Dickerson wouldn't let
the "Padaroes" come to the dances. If they did come, whe[TR:she?] would
get her pistol and make them leave.
"When General Gano went from Texas to Kentucky, he brought 650 head of
horses. He sold all of them but Old Black.
"Mas'r Gano went back to Texas to take up a child he had buried there.
The boat blowed up, and he came nigh gittin' drowned.
"One time I wus out in Mas'rs wheat field. I would get the wheat heads
and make chewin' wax. I told missis I want to go up to Bryantsville to
see my mammy. Mas'r took me in about a week.
"Up at Miss Jennie West's house they had an ole icehouse. Some boys made
out like they had a bear up there to scare every body away.
"I saw a flock of wild geese fly over one evenin' late. Some boys saw
them and one boy shot the leader. The rest of the flock wound round and
round, they didn't know where to go.
"One time when I was actin' nurse for missis, there was another nigger
gal there and we was playin' horse-shoes. Celia hit me in the head. It
got blood all over the baby's dress. Missis came out, she say, "I'll
hit you niggers if you don't stop playing with horse-shoes." The scar is
on my head yet whar Celia hit me. I ain't played since. Do you blame me?
"Missis told her brother Sam one day to whoop me. Every time he hit me,
I'd hit him. I wan't feared then. I didn't know no better. Look like
white folks goin' to have their way and niggers goin' to have theirs.
"I used to say I wish I'd died when I was little. But now I thank De
Lord I'm here and I want to stay here as long as Lilly (my daughter)
"Missis wanted all of us little niggers to call Kate, Missis' little
daughter, Miss Kate. But missis say, "They will call me old missis
"Kate had red hair. A little nigger boy say, 'Look! Harriet, the town's
on fire', I say git away from here nigger, I ain't goin' to have you
makin' fun of my chil'en.
"Me and missis was goin' to a neighbor's house one day in a sleigh. The
baby was wrapped up in a comfort (it had a hole in it). The baby slipped
out. I say, 'Lor' missis, you're lost that baby.'
"No, I haven't, Missis say. We stopped and shook the comfort and John
was gone. 'Ain't that awful, Miss Mat?' We went back and found him a
I asked Aunt Harriet to sing. She said, "I have to wait for the speret
to move me". (S. Higgins).
(Carl F. Hall)
Rev. John R. Cox:
It is probable that slave labor was more expensive to the white masters
than free labor would have been. Beside having cost quite a sum a
two-year old negro child brought about $1,500 in the slave market, an
adult negro, sound and strong, cost from $5,000 up to as high as
$25,000, or more. The master had to furnish the servant his living. The
free employee is paid only while working; when sick, disabled or when
too old to work, his employer is no longer responsible.
A slave owner, in West Virginia, bought a thirteen year old black girl
at an auction. When this girl was taken to his home she escaped, and
after searching every where, without finding her, he decided that she
had been helped to escape and gave her up as lost. About two years after
that a neighbor, on a closely farm, was in the woods feeding his cattle,
he saw what he first thought was a bear, running into the thicket from
among his cows. Getting help, he rounded up the cattle and searching the
thick woodland, finally found that what he had supposed was a wild
animal, was the long lost fugitive black girl. She had lived all this
time in caves, feeding on nuts, berries, wild apples and milk from cows,
that she could catch and milk. Returned to her master she was sold to a
Mr. Morgan Whittaker who lived near where Prestonsburg, Kentucky now is.
A Dr. David Cox, physician from Scott County, Virginia, who treated Mr.
Whitaker for a cancer, saw this slave girl, who had become a strong
healthy young woman, and Mr. Whitaker unable to otherwise pay his doctor
bill, let Dr. Davis have her for the debt.
At this time the slave girl was about twenty-one years of age, and Dr.
Davis took her home to Scott County, Virginia where he married her to
his only other slave, George Cox, by the ceremony of laying a broom on
the floor and having the two young negroes step over the broom stick.
Among the children of George Cox and his wife was Rev. John R. Cox, Col.
who now lives in Catlettsburg, Kentucky, and is probably the only living
ex-slave in this county.
After the Emancipation Proclamation, by President Lincoln, in 1865, John
managed to get four years of schooling where he learned to read and
write and become very proficient in arithmetic.
He says that had he had the opportunity to study that we have today he
could have been the smartest man in the United States. He also says,
that before freedom, the negroes in his neighborhood were allowed no
books, if found looking at a book a slave was whipped unmercifully.
John's master, in allowing his slaves to marry, was much more liberal
than most other slave owners, who allowed their slaves no such liberty.
As a rule negro men were not allowed to marry at all, any attempt to
mate with the negro women brought swift, sure horrible punishment and
the species were propogated by selected male negroes, who were kept for
that purpose, the owners of this privileged negro, charged a fee of one
out of every four of his offspring for his services.
The employing class of Kentuckians, many of them descendants of slave
owners, are prone to be reactionary in their attitude towards those who
toil, this is reflected in low wages and inferior working conditions, a
condition which affects both white and black labor alike, in many
sections of the state. (Bibliography: Rev. John R. Cox (colored)
Catlettsburg, Kentucky. Born 1852 (does not know day and month),
Minister A.M.E. Church. First truant officer Catlettsburg, Kentucky.
Interviewed Dec. 23, 1936.)
"After the War was over mammie's old man did not want us with them, so
he threatened to kill us. Then my old mammie fixed us a little bundle of
what few clothes we had and started us two children out to go back to
the Campbell family in Albany. The road was just a wilderness and full
of wild animals and varmints. Mammie gave us some powder and some
matches, telling us to put a little down in the road every little while
and set fire to it. This would scare the wild animals away from us.
"We got to the river at almost dark and some old woman set us across the
river in a canoe. She let us stay all night wit her, and we went on to
'Grandpap Campbells'' (We always called him grandpap instead of master,
as the others did.) When he saw us comin' he said 'Lawd have mercy here
comes them poor little chillun'.
"I stayed with them that time until I was big enough to be a house girl.
Then I went to live with the Harrison family in Albany; and I lived with
them till I married old Sam Duncan and come to Wayne County to live.
I've raised a family of nine children and have thirty-seven grand
children and twenty great grand children.
"Every one of my children wears a silver dime on a string around their
leg, to keep off the witches spell. One time, before my daughter Della
got to wearing it, she was going down the road, not far from our house,
when all at once her leg gave way and she could not walk. Of course I
knowed what it was. So I went after Linda Woods, the witch doctor. She
come with a bottle of something, all striped with all colors, but when
you shake it up it was all the same color. She rubbed her leg with it
and told me to get all the life everlasting (a weed you know) that I
could carry in my arm, and brew it for tea to bathe her leg in. Then
pour it in a hole in the ground, but not to cover it up. Then not to go
down the same road for nine days.
"We did all she said, and her leg got all right as soon as we bathed it.
But she did not wait nine days, and started down the road the next day.
The very same thing happened to her again. Her leg give way under her
and she could not walk a step.
"I went after Linda Woods again. This time she said, 'D--m her, I told
her not to go over that road for nine days.' But she came with the
striped bottle and destroyed the witch spell again, telling her this
time if she went over the road again for nine days that she would remain
a cripple all her life, for she would not cure her again.
"Della stayed off that road for nine days, this time, and all the
family have worn the silver dime around their legs ever since.
"Another time my old man Sam got down in his back. Well, he went to
Henry Coulter (he was another witch doctor). He just shot in the back
with a glass pistol, and cured him. Of course there was not any bullet
in the pistol, but it cured him. He could draw a picture of a chicken on
a paper and shoot it, and a chicken would fall dead in the yard, yes
sir. I've seen him do it. Old Henry is dead now though. When he died he
had a whole trunk full of the queerest looking things you ever seed. And
they took it all and buried it. Nobody would touch it for anything.
"I always keep a horse shoe over my door to keep the spirits away. We
live very close to the graveyard, and my boy Ed said he had been seeing
his brother Charley in his room every night. If he was livin' right he
would not be seeing Charlie every night. Charlie never bothers me. He
was my boy that died and is buried in this graveyard above our house."
[Mrs. Elizabeth Alexander:]
The following is a very old Negro sermon I found in an old scrap book
dated 1839, belonging to Mrs. Elizabeth Alexander, Frederica St. She
says she has heard her family refer to parts of it at different time in
her early life and supposed that the negro preacher belonged to her
people. Quote: Mine deerly fren: Ub dar's wun ting wot de Lord
abominerates worser nor anudder; it is a wicked nigger! A wicked wite
man's bad snuff, dur Lord nose! but dey so dam wite, an so kussed sarcy,
day doun no no better, so dar's some appolleragee fur 'em; but I gin yer
for th noe as how, a wicked nigger can nibber scape frum de vengence ob
de Lord-day's no use playin possum any more dan day was ob Joner coorin
it into de wale's belly! (Glory from the congregation) Let um go to de
Norf Pole, or to de Souf Pole, to de West Pole, or to de East Pole, or
de Poles in any ob de words; he ant a bit safer den he would be in a
cellar at 5 pints, wid ole Hays arter him! (groans) Oh! niggers! I tink
I see you look round. Yer's better! Fer wot I tells yer's trufe! Gorda
mity's trufe! Werrily I say unter yer! Wen de court ob seshions ob de
las day cum, ye'll reckerlect wot I say at dis times! Wen yer hab de
Lord fer Recorder, an a jury ob angles, an Gabriel ter report der trial
fer de hebbenly "Herald" (deep groans) Yas! den yar'll turn up de wite
ob yer eyes! (Sighs) den ter'll call fer de rock ter cubber yer! An de
hill ter fall top o' yer. No yer don't. Kase, in de fus place day
woodn't do it; an in de libenth place, ub day would it would be no
better dan ridin in a cart in de big city or gettin under de butcher's
stall in de fly market; fer de Lord can move more mountins in wun
minite, dan de biggest nigger in dis congregation could shake a stick at
twixt now an next fort ob July (clapping of hands, sighs, groans and
grunts) Tink, yer black sinners ob de bottomless pit, deeper dan de hole
Holt bored fer water. Oh! yer'll wish yo cood bore fer wat-r dar! but
day's no water dar, an de deeper yer go, Oh, my bredren, de deeper it
git! An den de smell! Yer'll gib yer soul uv yer had any left, jist fur
wun smell ob a rotten egg! Oh, my deelee frens some ob yer hold yer nose
wen yer go by de gas works. How der yer spose yer'l feel dare yer smell
notin but brimstone an nashin ob teeth! (deep groans) Oh, I hear yer
groans, but I ant begin to cum ter worst yit. Oh! my toenail a'most
shake off in ma stockin wen I tink ob dat heat ob infernal regins! Den
yer tink melted led cold as de young gemmen at de big houses tink a miny
julip is now, an besid's my brederen it keeps a burnin nite on day to de
end ob ebrerlastin; yer needn't tink bimeby yer go from dare to hebben
like de Rummin Catlick--No, in de fust place yer don't; an in de second
if yer cood, yer'd git yer def of cole goin frum one place to tudder. An
now, my belobbed brederen, lets in terwestigate how tar git bale; how to
avoid de Sing Sing ob de world wot's got to cume. Fiddlin an dancin wont
do it. Yer'll neber git ter hebben by loafin, pitchin cents, an dancin
Juba! De only way is ter support de preacher, gib yer money ter me, and
I'll take yer sins on my shoulder. An now I beseech yer not ter leebe
dis here holy place an go round er corner, round er corner and fergit de
words yer have heered dis night. Next Wednesday ebenin dar will be a
sarbice in his place de Lord willin, but next Thursday ebenin weffer or
no. An now we will sing inti de 40-elebent him de particlarest meter.
Old Ebe he was de second man fur Adam was de fust----
A black man's made ob ebony, a white man's made o' dust.
Methuselah was the oldest man, but Sampson was the strongest----
Cats, rats, and puppies all hab tails, but monkies is der longest.
(While they were singing the 11th verse, I took my departure.--B.L.)
Concerning slaves of this section of the country, I will quote
experiences and observation of an old negro lady who was a slave, Mrs.
Amelia Jones, living in North London, Kentucky. "Aunt Amelia" as she is
known around here is eighty-eight years of age, being sixteen years of
age at the close of the Civil War.
Mrs. Jones says, "I will tell as best I can remember, _I was born
eighty-eight years ago in Manchester, Ky. under a master by the name of
Daw White. he was southern republican and was elected as congressman by
that party from Manchester, Ky_. He was the son of Hugh White, the
original founder of Whitesberg, Ky. Master White was good to the slaves,
he fed us well and had good places for us to sleep, and didn't whip us
only when it was necessary, but didn't hesitate to sell any of his
slaves, he said, "You all belong to me and if you don't like it, I'll
put you in my pocket" meaning of course that he would sell that slave
and put the money in his pocket.
The day he was to sell the children from their mother he would tell that
mother to go to some other place to do some work and in her absence he
would sell the children. It was the same when he would sell a man's
wife, he also sent him to another job and when he returned his wife
would be gone. The master only said "don't worry you can get another
Mrs. Jones has a sister ninety-two years of age living with her now, who
was sold from the auction block in Manchester. Her sister was only
twelve years of age when sold and her master received $1,220.00 for her,
then she was taken south to some plantation. Also her father was sold at
that place at an auction of slaves at a high price, handcuffed and taken
south. She never saw her father again. She says the day her father was
sold there was a long line of slaves to be sold and after they were sold
and a good price paid for each they were handcuffed and marched away to
the South, her father was among the number.
The Auction block at Manchester was built in the open, from rough-made
lumber, a few steps, and a platform on top of that, the slave to be
sold. He would look at the crowd as the auctioner would give a general
description of the ability and physical standing of the man. He heard
the bids as they came in wondering what his master would be like.
Mrs. Jones claims she had no privileges, but had as before stated plenty
to eat and wear, and a good place to sleep; but most masters treated
them cruel and beat them most of the time. They were also underfed at
most places, but since they had such a good master they did not want for
Cemetery Hill as it is known to us here, being in London, Ky. was a hill
on which a Civil War battle was fought. The trenches are still here. The
hill was given to the north to bury their dead by Jarvis Jackson, a
great grand father of the Jarvis Jackson who is now city police of
London, today. By some reason, the soldiers were taken up and moved to a
different place only a few years ago. Mrs. Hoage says "the first daisies
that were brought to this contry were put on that hill" and she can
remember when the entire hill was covered with them.
The southern side had trenches on the east side of the Dixie Highway on
and surrounding the site where the Pennington Hospital is now standing,
which are very vivid today. The London City School being in the path
bears a hole today from a cannon ball. Shot no doubt from the Southern
forces. The new addition to the school hides the hole, but until recent
years it could be seen being about ten inches in diameter.
Zollie Coffer a southern general had camped at Wild Cat, Ky. but was
forced to retreat when general Garrad and Lucas and Stratton two
captains under him, all from Clay county, with a large crowd came in.
He, on his retreat came through London and had a battle with an army of
Ohioians camped on Cemetery Hill. Quoted a poem by Mrs. Hodge, which she
remembered from those days:
"Just raise your eyes to yon grassy hill,
View the bold Ohioians working with skill,
Their bombs lying around them to spew fiery flames,
Among the seceders, till they wont own their names."
Mrs. Hodge quotes another poem from memory about Gen. Coffer's retreat
from Wild Cat:
"Our tigers and bullpups to Wild Cat did go,
To fight our brave boys, tho our force they did not know.
When they come in gun shot distance, Schelf told them to halt,
We're not Murphey's honey, nor Alex Whites salt.
His orders to his men, was "go thru" or "go to hell"
But our Indiana hoosier bous, heard them too well,
In less than thirty minutes, they gave them many balls,
Wild Cat had had kittens, Oh; don't you hear them squall.
They did not stay long, before they did retreat,
Went on double quick and left all their meat,
As they went back through Barbourville, they say Zollie did say
I've lost fifteen hundred killed or run away.
Away back in Mississippi, we're forced to go
As for our loss you'll never know
Slipped back when the union fell asleep
Hauled off our dead and buried them deep.
To fight against Garrad, it never will do,
Stratton and Lucas is hard to out do,
They conquered our tigers and bull pups too,
In spite of our force and all we could do."
Coffer was killed by Colonel Frye at Mill Springs. A statue is erected
to Zollie Coffer at Somerset, Kentucky.
Both sides were cruel during the Civil War. Mrs. McDaniel who lives here
tells a story of how her father was killed in Clay County, while eating
dinner one day. Some federal soldiers drove up and asked what side he
was on and upon saying the confederate side, they took him outside and
shot him with a gun in his own yard.
Mrs. Jenny McKee, of color, who lives just North of London can tell many
interesting things of her life.
"Aunt Jenny" as she is called, is about eighty-five years of age, and
says she thinks she is older than that as she can remember many things
of the slave days. She tells of the old "masters" home and the negro
shacks all in a row behind the home. She has a scar on her forehead
received when she was pushed by one of the other little slaves, upon a
marble mantle place and received a deep wound in her head.
The old negro lady slaves would sit in the door way of their little
shacks and play with pieces of string, not knowing what else to do to
pass off the time. They were never restless for they knew no other life
Aunt Jenny McKee was born in Texas though she doesn't know what town she
was born in. She remembers when her mother was sold into the hands of
another slave owner, the name of the place was White Ranch Louisiana.
Her mother married again, and this time she went by the name of Redman,
her mother's second husband was named John Redman, and Aunt Jenny altho
her real name was Jenny Garden, carried the name of Redman until she was
married to McKee.
During the War her mother died with cholera, and after the war her
step-father sold or gave her away to an old Negro lady by the name of
Tillet, her Husband was a captain from the 116th regiment from
They had no children and so Aunt Jenny was given or sold to Martha
Tillet. Aunt Jenny still has the paper that was written with her
adoption by Mrs. Martha Tillet and John Redman, the paper was exactly as
September 10, 1866
To Whom it may concern, I, John Redman has this day given my consent
that Mrs. Martha Tillet can have my child Jenny Redman to raise and own
as her child, that I shall not claim and take her away at any time in
She has a picture in her possession of Captain Tillet in war costume and
with his old rifle. After the war the Tillets were sent back to
Manchester where he was mustered out, Aunt Jenny being with them. "I
stayed with them" Aunt Jenny said, "until I was married Dec. 14, 1876,
to David McKee another soldier of the 116th regiment". She draws a
pension now from his services.
David McKee was a slave under John McKee, father of the late John McKee
of this place. He was finally sold to a man by the name of Meriah
Jackson. "David's masters were good to him" said Jenny "he learned to be
a black smith under them".
Aunt Jenny has the history of the 116th regiment, U.S.C. Infantry.
Tillet was captain in this regiment and David McKee a soldier then was a
lot of soldiers in this regiment from here. Tom Griffin being one, a
slave who died a few years ago. The history was printed in 1866 and this
particular copy was presented to Captain Tillet, and bears his
The first deed to be put on record in the Laurel County court was
between Media Bledsoe of Garrad County of the first part and Daniel
Garrard of Clay County of the second part. Being 4800 acres of land
lying in Knox County on Laurel River and being that part of 16000 acres
of land patented in the name of John Watts. One thousand dollars was the
sum paid for this land. This is on record in Deed Book "A", page 1. Date
of September 30, 1824.
Susan Dale Sanders:
The following is a story of Mrs. Susan Dale Sanders, #1 Dupree Alley,
between Breckinridge and Lampton Sts., Louisville, an old Negro Slave
mammy, and of her life, as she related it.
"I lived near Taylorsville, Kentucky, in Spencer County, nearly all my
life, 'cept the last fo' or five yea's I'se been livin' here. I was bo'n
there in a log cabin, it was made of logs, and it was chinked with clay
and rock. My Mammy, was raised from a baby by her master, Rueben Dale.
He was a good ole Master, and was alway's good to my Mammy. Master Dale
owned a big farm and had big fields of co'n an' tobacco, and we raised
everything we had to eat. Ole master Dale was a good ole baptist, had
lots of good ole time relig'n. Ruben Dale had lots of slaves, and every
family had its own cabin. As he raised my Mammy as a slave from a baby,
she thought there was none livin' bett'r than her master Dale.
The next fa'm close to the Masters, was owned by a man, Colonel Jack
Allen, and he had a big fa'm and owned lots of slaves. And Mammy was
allowed to marry one of the Allan slaves, and my father's name was Will
Allen. You see the slaves had the same name as the Master's, as he owned
'em. My Mammy had seven children and we all grow'd up on our Master
Dales fa'm. My father had to stay at his master's, Col. Jack Allen's and
wo'k in the fields all day, but at night he would come to my mammy's
cabin and stay all night, and go back to his master's, Col. Allen's
fields the next mon'in. Yes, I grow'd up in slavery times. I used to
carry tubs of clothes down to the old spring house, there was plenty of
water, and I'se washed all the clothes there. Me and my sisters used to
wash and sing and we had a good time. I can't remember much of the ole
song's its been so long ago.
I had two brothers, and they jined the war and fought in the army. One
was named Harry and 'tother Peter. Mammy wo'ked hard, done all the
cookin' but ole Master Dale was so good to all of us children we did't
mind it. I'se was a mischevious gal when I was grow'in up. I'se would
get a lickin' most every-day. I'se alway's like to fight the ot'er
children, and I would say, "Mammy she hit me", but I was bad and I'se
got my whipp'n. On my masters fa'm we killed a lot of hogs for our meat,
had a big trough, that we cut the meat up in, and put the hams and
shoulders together, and the middles together, then put 'em down in salt
for about six weeks, and then hang them up in the smoke-house and smoke
'em with hickory chips. And leave them all the time till we used 'em up.
We had a apple house we used to fill every fall with the best apples.
The ole master sho' had a apple fa'm. Inside of the house there was a
big hole in the ground, dug deep, and we use to fill it full of apples,
then cover it over with a straw, and O Lawd, we would have apples all
wint'r when the snow lies deep on the ground; sure I wish them old days
Some of the other old Masters, who had lots of slaves on fa'ms close by,
was so mean to the slaves they owned. They wo'ked the women and men both
in the fields and the children too, and when the ole Master thought they
was'n't do'n' 'nuf wo'k, he would take his men and strip off their
shirts, and lash them with cow-hide whips until you could see the blood
run down them poor niggers backs.
The Nigger traders would come through and buy up a lot of men, and women
slaves, and get a big drove of them and take them further south to work
in the fields, leavin their babies. I'se never can forget. I know'd some
mean ole masters.
Our ole master Dale that raised my Mammy and her family never was hard
or mean like that. He would let us go to church, have parties and
dances. One of the ole salves would come to our cabin with his fiddle
and we'd dance.
After I'se grow'd up, I'se wo'ked for Mrs. Susan Lovell, that was the
ole masters married daughter. She lived down the road from his fa'm. She
was good to me! You see I was named after Susan Lovell. It was while I
was wo'kin' fo' her when the war ended. She told me I was free after the
war was over. I got happy and sung but I didn't know for a long time,
what to be free was, so after the war she hired me and I stayed on doin'
all the cookin' and washin' and all the work, and I was hired to her for
four dollars a month. After the war was over my father died. And it
wasn't long after that, I Married Wm. Sanders and we had six children. I
got a Government pension, as my husband was in the army during the Civil
War and he was wounded in the body, but he lived a long time after the
war was ended.
In the ole days we used to sing and go to church, sing the ole time
religion, and when we danced we sung: "Who's been here since I'se been
gone, Ah, that gal with the blue dress on."
I'se still believes in lots of good and bad luck signs, but forget most
of 'em, "But if you drap a knife, on the floor someone is sure to come
to see you, and if you dream of money that is good luck." "To sneeze at
the table is bad luck, to sneeze when away from the table good luck."
"If you dream of the stars is bad luck."
A story resulting from an interview with John Anderson, an old Negro
"I was born in Pennsylvania, on Shiptown road, Clinton County, close to
Mercersberg. When I was growing up my mammy always believed in making
her own medicine, and doctored the whole family with the roots she dug
herself. She use to bile down the roots from may-apple, snake root and
blood root, and make her medicine. This was good for the blood and keep
us from gettin' sick.
While the wah was goin' on, the soldiers were campin' all about us and
when they heer'd the Gray's was comin' they got ready for battle, and
when they did come they fit' em back, and they made their stand at
Harpers Ferry, Va., and had a hard battle there. My mammy was scared of
the Gray's and when she heer'd they was comin', would hide us three boys
in some white folks cellar until they was gone. They would take all the
young niggahs with them they could get hold of, and soon as they'd gone,
we would go back home.
When the wah was over, me and some boys went over to the battlefield and
foun' a calvary gun which I had for years. We lived in a log cabin on a
farm and worked for a farmer in the fields while my mammy worked in the
house for the white folks. We had lots of things that is good and bad
The following is the life and traditions of Joana Owens, 520 E.
Breckinridge St., Louisville, Kentucky, an old negro mammy who was born
"My mother and father was slaves, and there was two children born to
them, my sister and me. We used to live at Hawesville, Kentucky, on the
Ohio River. My peoples name was Barr, and their masters name was Nolan
Barr. You know they all had to take their masters name in slave days.
I will never forget how mean old Master Nolan Barr was to us. I was
about fourteen years old and my sister was a little younger. We lived in
an old log cabin. The cracks was filled with mud. My Mother done the
housework for Master Barr's house. My father and sister and me had to
work in the fields. He had a big farm, and owned lots of slaves, and
when the old master got mad at his slaves for not working hard enough he
would tie them up by their thumbs and whip the male slaves till they
begged for mercy. He sure was a mean old man. I will never forget him as
long as I live. I don't know exactly how old I is, but I am close to
ninety now. After I growed up and married a man named Owens, we come
here to Louisville to live. That was a short while after the slaves was
freed. I can remember how me and my sister used to go down to the river
and watch the red hospital boats come in, bringing the wounded soldiers
in to be cared for, and me and sister would go long
singing--Nigger--Nigger--never die, if you want a chicken pie."
[Martha J. Jones:]
In an interview with Mrs. Martha J. Jones, she reminisced of the old
Civil War days as follows:
"I was born in Buckingham County, Virginia, and later during the Civil
War, I lived in Gilmer County, W. Va. My fathers name was Robert R.
Turner; he was born in 1818 and my mother's name was Susan; she was born
in 1821. My parents had six children and we lived on a big farm.
My father was in the legislature in W. Va. During the Civil War, I had
three brother in the Southern Army. One of them died of fever, one was
shot and killed in action, and the other William Wert Turner, came out
of the army after the close of the war and became a lawyer. Later he
went to New Castle, Kentucky, and became a prominent lawyer, where he
remained until his death in 1932.
I married John R. Jones, a lieutenant in the Union Army, at Gilmer, W.
Va., when I was about twenty years old, shortly after the war. We then
moved to New Castle, Kentucky, Henry County. We had four children born
to us, and I now have three living children; later on in years we moved
to Louisville. During the days of the Civil War my father owned three
slave, one was an old darkey named Alex, and the nigger mammies, were
Diana and Mary Ann. My parents were always good to their slaves, and
never traded or sold them. They were good workers and my father never
My Uncle, John C. Turner, had farms close to my father's in West Va.,
and he had fifty-two slaves when the war ended. He would buy, sell and
trade them all the time. The slaves were judged by the Masters. If they
were big and strong they would bring a good price, as they would be
better workers for the fields, and then, I would watch my uncle swap and
buy slaves, just the same as he was buying any other stock for his farm.
I am getting [HW: old] now, and my memory is not so good no more, and it
is hard to remember the things of so long ago. You see, I will be ninety
years old, next Feb. 23rd. I was born in 1847."
(John I. Sturgill)
We are unable to interview ex-slaves in Floyd County, so far as anyone
we are able to contact knows, there are no living ex-slaves in the
County. There are several colored people. The majority of them reside at
Tram, Kentucky, Floyd County, in a kind of colored colony, having been
placed there just after the Civil War. A small number of colored people
live in the vicinity of Wayland, Kentucky, the original being the
remains of a wealthy farmer of Civil War day, by name of Martin. The
colored people were identified as "Martin's Niggers."
The last ex-slave of Floyd County, says Mr. W.S. Wallen of Prestonsburg,
Kentucky, was "Uncle" Charlie Richmond, of Prestonsburg. Uncle Charlie
was brought to the county by old Judge Richmond, father of I. Richmond
of the Richmond Dept. Stores of Prestonsburg, about the time of the
Civil War. When the war was over "Uncle" Charlie worked at Richmond's
for hire and lived as a member of the family. While working on a
Prestonsburg newspaper, Mr. Wallen interviewed this old ex-slave and
worked him into a feature story for his paper. These old paper files
were destroyed by fire about 1928.
Mr. Wallen remembers that "Uncle" Charlie Richmond, as the old ex-slave
was called, died in 1910, was buried in Prestonsburg, and that he, W.S.
Wallen, wrote up the old Darkey's death and funeral for his newspaper.
This is the same paper who's files were destroyed by fire and which
papers does not now exist.
Old Judge Richmond brought this old slave, from Virginia about 1862,
along with a number of other slaves. "Uncle" Charlies was the only slave
that remained in the family as a servant after the Emancipation
Mr. Wallen is a lawyer in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, a member of the James
and Wallen Law Firm, located in the Lane Bldg., on Court St. He was born
at Goodlow, Kentucky in Floyd County, March 15, 1866. He taught school
in Floyd County thirteen years, took his L.L.B. at Law School in
Valpariso, Ind., in 1910, and later served as representative to the
Kentucky General Assembly from the 93rd District, the 1922-24 and 26
The List of People who owned Slaves in Floyd County include:
Sophia Lane, Lanesville.
Jim Lane, Lanesville
Gilbert Higgins, Wilson's Creek
George May, Maytown
Hi Morgan, Prestonsburg
Penny J. Sizemore, Prestonsburg
Samuel P. Davidson, Prestonsburg
I. Richmond, Prestonsburg
Valentine Mayo, Prestonsburg
---- Lanes, Prestonsburg
Kennie Hatcher, Lanesville
Morgan Clark, John's Creek
Daniel Hager, Hager Shoals near what is Auxier, Ky.
Adam Gayheart, Prestonsburg
John P. Martin, Prestonsburg
Jacob Mayo, Sr., Prestonsburg
Wm. Mayo, Jr., Prestonsburg
Johnny Martin, Wayland, Kentucky
Thomas Johns, Dwale, Ky.
Isom Slone, Beaver Creek
John Bud Harris, Emma, Kentucky
Billy Slone, Caney Fork, Right Beaver, Kentucky.
This list is as remembered by the oldest citizens, and one T.J. "Uncle"
Jeff Sizemore, 94 years old Civil War Veteran and citizen of
Prestonsburg, Kentucky, dictated then to the writer in just this order.
The nearest auction blocks were Mt. Sterling, Kentucky and Gladdville,
Virginia. Most slaves from the present Floyd County Territory were
bought and sold through auction in southwest Virginia. Other auction
blocks were at Abington and Bristol, Virginia.
The negro dialect of this county is a combination of the dialect white
folk use plus that of the negro of the South. The colored population is
continually moving back and forth from Alabama, Georgia and North and
South Carolinas. They visit a lot. Colored teachers so far have all been
from Ohio. Most visiting colored preachers come from Alabama and the
Carolinas. The negroes leave out their R's use an't han't gwin, su' for
sir, yea for yes, dah for there and such expressions as, "I's Ye?"
The wealthiest families o' white folk still retain colored servants. In
Prestonsburg, Kentucky one may see on the streets neat looking colored
gals leading or wheeling young white children along. Folk say this is
why so many southerners leave out their R's and hold on to the old
superstitions, they've had a colored mama for a nurse-maid.
Adam Gearheart was a sportsman and used negro Jockeys. His best jockey,
Dennis, was sold to Morg. Clark, John's Creek. The old race track took
in part of the east end of the present Prestonsburg--from Gearheart's
home East in Mayo's bottom one mile to Kelse Hollow--Jimmie Davidson now
lives at the beginning of the old track, near Maple Street. Mike Tarter
of Tennessee, Gearheart's son-in-law brought horses from Tennessee and
ran them here. Tarter was a promoter and book-maker also. Penny J.
Sizemore and Morg. Clark were other sportsmen. This was as early as 1840
up to the Civil War.
Slaves ware traded, bought and sold between owners just as domestic
animals are today. Where one owned only a few servants with no families
they lived in the big house--otherwise in Slave quarters, little cabins
Billy Slone just had two female servants, he bought them in Virginia 15
years old, for $1,000.00 sound.
Many folk went over to Mt. Sterling or Lexington to auctions for trading
servants. (The same manner is used trading stock today).
Slave traders came into the county to buy up slaves for the Southern
plantations, and cotton or sugar fields--Slave families were very
frequently separated, some members mean, theiving, or running away
niggers were sold (first) down the river. Sometimes good servants were
sold for the price, the master being in a financial strait or dire need
of money. Traders handcuffed their servants purchased, and took them by
boat or horse-back down the river or over in Virginia and Carolina
Good servants were usually well treated and not over-worked. Mean or
contrary servants were whipped, or punished in other ways. Run-aways
were hunted--dogs being used to track them at times.
Although this article is presented in narrative form and has but few
characters, the writer believes it to be an excellent example of life in
Owen County sixty or more years ago. With the exception of the grey
eagle episode, similar events to these described were happening all over
the county. There is no reason to doubt the authenticity of any part of
the article. The narrator (George Dorsey, age 76 (negro) Owentown,
Kentucky, born in slavery and raised by a white family) bears a good
reputation and is intelligent enough to react favorably and
intelligently to questions concerning the past. Further interviews
concerning more general subjects are planned.
"I was born on the 16th day of June, 1860 on the ole poor house farm
'bout two miles from Owentown. My mother yousta tell me I'd be a sleepy
head. I didn't know what she meant by that so finally one day, after I
got to be a great big boy, I asked her what she meant.
"Well, she says, Chickens that is hatched in June jess stand 'round in
the hot sun an' sleep themselves to death. So, as you was born in June,
you'll jess be a sleepy head."
"My mother belonged to Sammy Duvall, the father o' little Sam Duvall who
died not long ago. Little Sam usta be town marshall here and a guard at
the pen over at Frankfort. I was born a slave an' stayed one till the
niggers was freed.
"Bout the time the war was over I seen my first soldier. The road that
passed along in front of our house was a dirt road. I'd gone with mother
to watch her milk a young cow late one night, 'bout dark I guess, when I
heard somebody hollerin' and yellin' an' I looked down the road an' seen
'em comin'. I was 'bout five years old then an' it looked to me like all
the army was comin' up the road. The captain was on a hawse an' the men
afoot an' the dust from the dirt road a flyin'. There was a moon shinin'
an' you could see the muskets shinin' in the moonlight. I was settin' on
a fence an' when I seen 'em it scared me so I started to run. When I
jumped off I fell an' cut a hole in my for'head right over this left
eye. The scar's there yet. I run in the house and hid. Mr. Sammy Duvall
had to get on a hawse an' go to New Liberty an' fetch a doctor to plug
up the hole in my head. I seen lots of soldiers after that an' I always
run under the bed or hid in a closet or somewheres. They stayed 'round
here for a long time. Finally provender got low and the soldiers took to
stealing. We called it stealin', but I reckon it warn't for they come
and got the stuff like meat out o' the smoke house in broad open
daylight. Mr. Duvall had a chestnut earl stallion he called Drennon an'
they come, or somebody did, an' got him one night. One day, 'bout two or
three weeks later, Will Duvall, a son o' Mr. Sammy Duvall, heard that
the hawse was over in Henry County where the soldiers had a camp. So he
went over there and found the Captain an' told him he'd come after old
Drennon. The Captain said to describe him an' Will said, "Captain, he's
a chestnut earl named Drennon. If'n I whistl' a certain way he' nicker
an' answer me."
"Well, they went down to the stable where they had a lot of stalls like,
under tents. An' when they got there, Will, he whistled, an' sure
'nough, old Drennon nickered. So the Captain, he said, That's your hawse
all right. Go in an' get him an' take him on home.
Will brought the hawse home an' took him down in the woods on the creek
where the water'd washed all the dirt offen a big, flat rock and we kep
him hid for three or four weeks. We didn't want to loose him again.
When I was 'bout six years old we moved offen the creek to a new road up
on the ridge. It was on the same farm but to another house. I had a
great big, ole grey cat I called "Tom." I wanted to move him so I put
him in a pillow slip so's he couldn't see where we wus takin' him so he
couldn't fin' the way back. He stayed 'round his new home for a few days
an' then he went back to his ole home. Mr. Duvall went and got him again
for me. Not many white men would do that for a little nigger boy. He
musta told Tom somethin' for he never run off no more.
Mr. Duvall usta ride a blazed-face, sarl [HW: sorrel] mare named Kit. He
most al'ays taken me up behind him, 'specially if he was goin' to town.
Kit was trained to hunt deer. I can't remember any deer in the country
but Mr. Duvall yousta tell me 'bout 'em an 'bout the way they had their
hawses trained. He said there wus a place down on Panther Lick Creek,
below where we lived, that was a deer lick. The deer would come there
and lick the ground close to the creek because there was salt left there
by the high waters. He'd put a strap with a littel bell on 'round ole
Kit's neck; an' tie her to a tree not far from this lick. Then he'd hide
behin' 'nother tree close to Kit. When the deer come ole Kit'd shake her
head an' the deer would raise their heads to see what the noise made by
the bell was an' where it was comin' from. Then he'd shoot the deer in
the head. He showed me the place where he killed the biggest buck he
ever seen right here jess out o' town a little ways. He kept the horns.
An' I remember seein' 'em in the attic at his house. He had an ole
riffle he called "Ole Betsy" that'd been his deer rifle.
After I got to be a big boy, huntin' and fishin' was good. I never got
to do any uv it except on Saturdays and Sundays. Everbody had a brush
fence 'round the house to keep the stock in out o' the yard and one day
I seen a big bird sail down on the fence and run under it. Mother was
out in the back yard so I said to myself, I'll get the gun and kill that
hawk. I taken good aim at its head and banged away. At the crack o' the
gun I never heard such a flutterin' in my life. Mother come runnin' to
see what was the matter and when she seen it, she said, Son, that's a
pheasant. Some day you'll be a good hunter. An' guess I was for I killed
lots o' pheasants, quail, squir'ls and rabbits.
Little Sammy Duvall had a pointer he called "Quail". She was the
smartest dog I ever seen, but everybody had smart dogs them days.
Quail'd trail birds when they was runnin' till she got clost and then
circle 'round 'em an' make her stand.
Be careful there, Quail, Mr. Sammy would say. He'd nearly always get
eight or ten out uv a covey an' sometimes the whole covey. I yousta go
along jess to see him shoot. He hardly ever missed. There was so many
quail that nobody ever thought to leave any uv a covey if he wanted that
many an' they didn't get so scattered that he couldn't fin' em.
After the deer was all killed out, people trained their deer hounds to
chase foxes, coons and such like. The white boys from town yousta come
and get Will and young Sammy to go coon huntin'. They al'ays had ten or
twelve dogs. They al'ays taken me along an' treated me jest the same as
if I was as white as they was. If I got behind or out o' sight somebody
was sure to say, 'Where's George'?
One night we treed three coons in a big hollow oak. They started to cut
down the trees an' put me at the butt with a fire bran'. When the tree
fell the coons'd come out an' I was supposed to drive 'em back with the
fire, jest lettin' out one at a time so's the dogs could kill 'em. I was
about half scared uv 'em and when one big feller come out I backed up
an' he got by me. I throwed the fire at him an' it lit on his back an'
burnt' him. I never seen a coon run so fast. But the dogs soon treed him
again an' we got him. Then we come back an' the dogs picked up the trail
uv another one an' we catched him. I never seed a bigger one. He was as
long as this umbrella (3-1/2 ft.) The other one got away. Coon huntin'
was a great sport with the boys an' men in those days.
I catched the only grey eagle that was ever seen 'round here. They was a
bunch of us boys out rabbit huntin' one day one fall. The dogs got after
a rabbit an' chased it across a holler out o' range. I had the only gun
in the crowd an' was right after that rabbit. The dogs run over the
track an' could see 'em over on the hillside jess settin' still. All at
once I seen a big bird--I taken it to be a hawk, fold its wings like a
man'd fold his arms 'round his body, and drop straight down on the
rabbit. But the rabbit saw it too for when the eagle got there he was
ten feet up the hillside. The bird hit, "boom", jest like that. But the
rabbit was goin' over the hill an' the eagle musta saw him for he riz
an' flew in that direction.
'You boys stay back, I'll kill that hawk. That's the biggest hawk I ever
seen,' I told them. When I got to the top of the ridge I seen him
settin' in the top uv a big tree. The boys stayed where I told them and
I slipped along till I got pritty close enough to shoot him. He was
either watchin' the rabbit or didn't think I was watchin' him for I got
pritty close before he started to fly. Jess as he opened his wings I let
him have it with my old muzzle loader shotgun. Down he come makin' as
much noise as a whole flock o' hawks oughta made. He was alive when I
got to him an' made right at me, strikin' with his claws an' bill. The
dogs come when they heard the shot an' he whipped 'em off. Every time he
struck one of 'em he (the dog) would holler like he'd been speared. The
other boys wanted to kill it but I gotta a long pole an' got it on him
so's it held him down. We'd found out by this time that one wing was
broke by my shot. So we jess hold of the tips of his wings an' led him
to the house. His wing spread was 'bout six or eight feet. When I got
him to the house I told 'em I had the biggest hawk they ever seen. A ole
man by the same of William said, "Hell that ain't no hawk, that's a grey
eagle." A ole colored fiddler, named Fred Roberts, sent word he'd buy
it from me. He even got so fraid he wouldn't get it that he come for it.
'What'll you take for him', he asked me, and before I could say anything
he says, 'I'll give a dollar for him'.
That was a lot of money for me an' boy like I sold him then and there. I
coulda got two or maybe three dollars for him. Fred taken him to town
an' fed him live hens and raw meat. On court days or when there was a
crowd in town he showed him for ten cents a look. I bet he made $50.00
on him. People yousta to come for miles to see that eagle. He finally
Fishin' was good too. We cut our poles in the woods an' used to flax
thread for lines. Where people built water-gaps in fences that crossed
the creeks the water'd fill in till it made a dam. Then the creek spread
behind it. Them water holes was full o1 perch an' cat fish. They didn't
get much bigger them your hand but they bit fast and we had lots o' fun
(Mamie Hanberry) [TR: also spelled Hanbery.]
Annie B. Boyd:
Annie B. Boyd, born August 22nd 1851, resides at corner of Liberty and
First Street, Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Born a slave belonging to Charles
Cammack near Gordonsville, Kentucky in Christian County. "My mother and
me war put on de block in front of de Courthouse in Hopkinsville and
sold to Mr. Newt. Catlett and we brung $500.00. Marse Catlett lived on
the corner of Seventh and Clay Streets, Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Wen I
was older the white folks had me foh to nurse dar chilluns. I noes wen
de war broke out marse had a store and den marsa took me to his wife's
kinfolks down in de country till freedom war declared den my stepfather
come an' got me. Of course I hed ter work and den I went ter nurse foh
Dr. Fairleigh and nussed his daughter Madge. De white folks wont good to