Part 2 out of 3
me. My marster was a good man but my missus wont no good woman. She
uster box my ears, stick pins in me and tie me ter de cedar chest and
whoop me as long as she wanter. Oh, how I did hate dat woman.
"Yes, once in my life I seed a ghost. We was goin' thru de woods to a
neighbors ter a prayer meeting en a man stepped out in de woad without
no head wid all his clothes on en I had jes wropped my head dat day and
wen I seed him all my hair strings en all jes stood straight up. I got
hot den I'se got cold and he jest stepped ter de side of de road en I
went by running. Yes, we got ter de prayer meeting en den we went back
home de same way en did us niggers run?
"I was nurse in slave time en I carried de chilluns all ober de house en
one day I had de chilluns upstars en my missus called me en I went ter
see whar she wont and while I'se war gone de baby got hodter Indian
Turnip an hed bit it by de time I git back dar en I called my missus en
she come en made me eat de rest of de turnip en my face enall swelled up
en my eyes war closed foh days. After missing de baby en tending ter de
uther chilluns all de day an night wen I put de baby ter bed I bed ter
knit two round ebery night en would be sleepy en my missus would reach
ober en jab a pin in me to keep me awake. Now dat is what I calls a mean
"I kin read en write at first of freedom I sent ter school some en
learned ter read and write.
"I sho do believe in dreams. I had one once I laid down on de bed ter
take er nap en den I dreamed dat somethin was a chokin me en I pulled at
my dress en a big snake dropped out of my bosom rolled down on de bed.
Den on de floor en when I woke up sho nuff dar war a snake on de floor
by de bed en I killed it en den I knowed dat I had an enemy sho nuff in
a few days a woman I thot was my friend turned gain me. By killing de
snake I knowed dat I would conquer dat enemy.
"I noes wishes cen come tru seems ter me I hev but my memory aint so
good but still I believes hit.
"Wen de smoke flies low hit sho is goin ter snow."
"Spilling salt or ter waste salt is bad luck. I always wen I makes my
bread put de salt in de bread den I puts some of de salt in de fire ter
bring me good luck.
"Sometime de moon affects people wen it changes hit makes some folks
crazy en dey is hard to git alon wid."
"If you plant Irish pertatoes on de light of de moon you hev nuthin but
top. Whatever ter be made underneath de ground like turnips, potatoes,
onions is ter be planted by de dark of de moon. Beans, peas, corn in de
light of de moon.
"Yes, spit will cure, cause I had ringworms once en in de morning wen I
woke up afore I spoke ter anyone I'd take spit en put on my face en hit
sho cured de ringworms."
"If you nail a horse shoe ober de door hits a good luck ter you.
"I thin "13" is an unlucky number I'se heard so much talk of hit till I
believes hit. Breaking a mirror is sho bad luck if you break one you
will hev seben years bad luck."
"Blue gummed niggers is shon bad luck wen I sees one gits as far away as
I kin foh if one bites you you is a ded nigger foh dey is pizen as er
"De white folks jes made niggers carry on like brutes. One white man
uster say ter nuther white man, "My nigger man Sam wanter marry yer
nigger gal Lucy what does yer say en if he said hit war all right why
dat couple war supposed to be married. Den Sam would work foh his
marster in de daytime en den would spend de night at Lucy's house on de
Kate Billingsby, Ex-slave, according to a record in a Bible the Buckners
gave her when she married was born in 1828. She was owned by Frank and
Sarah Buckner. Born in this County and has spent her life in and around
Hopkinsville. She lives on what is known as the Gates Mill Road about
one half mile east of US 41E and owns her own home.
Aunt Kate as she is generally called is a small black negro and in going
into her home you will find it furnished in lovely antique furniture in
a disreputable state of repair. She met me with a dignity and grace that
would be a credit to any one of the white race to copy, illiterate
though she may be. Her culture and training goes back to the old Buckner
family, at one time one of the most cultured families in Christian
County. She is not a superstitious negro. Being born a Buckner slave,
she was never sold and her manners and ways proclaim that she surely
must have been raised in "De white folks house" as she claims, being a
maid when old enough, to one of Frank Buckner's daughters. She stated,
"Dese Buckners war sho good to me, eben now dey chilluns comes to see me
and always bring me something. Dey don let my taxes lapse am I'se neber
widout somting to eat." My man and I was married by Mr. Alexander at
McClain College. I was de cook an he was the janitor. My man followed
his Massa in de Secess War. If he was a livin' now he would be 110 years
old, he bin ded 'round fifteen year."
No I'se done believe in no ghosts hants or anything of that kind my
white folks being "quality". I'se been raised by "quality"! Why I'se
"quality nigger". "Wen any of my folks git sick or eny of my white folks
de doctor would always bee sent foh." (Her address is: R.R. #2,
Nannie Eaves, age 91, born in McLain County, Ky. being a slave of
William Eaves, never sold, address now R.R. #2, Hopkinsville, Kentucky.
"I guess I was about twenty one years old wen I was freed." I'se was
neber once treated as a slave cause my Massa was my very own Daddy. Ben
Eaves my husband was a slave en chile of George Eaves my Massa's
brother. He ran away from his Massa en his Daddy en jins the U.S. Army
during the Secess War en I'se now drawing a pension from Uncle Sam. I'se
sho glad dat he had sense nuff ter go dis way or I'd be jes like dese
old niggers dat is now on de Government.
"Course I never sweep de trash out de house after sun down jest sweep
hit in de corner of de room cause hit is bad luck ter sweep out de door
after dark. Lawd yes squeech owls en dogs howling under de house shi God
means dar is going ter be a death in de family. Wen I hears one I'se git
trembly all ober, hit makes me hot en den cold both de same time."
"Ho I haint neber seed a ghost or hant but I sho don wanter see one
neither. I'se always fraid I will seed one. Sho de dead can hant you if
war not good to dem wen dey is livin'. Signs en sech things is going out
of style now but Lor wen I was a chile why seems like things war better
cause of dem."
Nannie is a tall bright negro holding herself very straight, with real
white long hair. Her hair is very fine and wavy. Her cabin home was
immaculate, furnished very neatly in the now prevailing style.
Slave Trades: "We had two slave traders in this town. They were Judge
Houston and his son-in-law, Dr. Brady. They gathered up all the slaves
that were unrully or that people wanted to trade and housed them in an
old barn until they had enough to take to New Orleans on a boat. They
traded them down there for work in the cotton fields.
Mary Wright, 204 W. Fourth St., Born August 1, 1865.
"I was born at Gracey, Kentucky on Mr. James Colemans far, in a log
cabin wid a dirt floor en a stick chimney.
"Folks uster weat wat dey calls a "Polanaise". Hid wat kinder like a
wrapper made of calico made wid tight in de waist en wide in de bottom.
Den I've remembers de basque waist on de over skirts dese war made real
tight waists wid a point in de back en ober de stomach. De skirt wer
real full dem a skirt ober dis ter de knees wid a big pucker on de
"My Mammy bound me out to Miss Puss Graham ter learn ter work, foh my
vittals en cloes. Miss Puss gave me a pair of red morocco shoes en I was
made so happy, I'se neber fohgot dese shoes.
"I heard my Mammy talk of "De Nigger Risin". De Klu Klux uster stick de
niggers head on er stake alongside de Cadiz road en dar de buzzards
would eat them till nuthin' was left but de bones. Dar war a sign on dis
stake dat said "Look out Nigger You are next". Us chilluns would not go
far way from dat cabin. I'se tells you dat is so. I jes knowed dat dis
Ku Klux would do dat to us sho if weuns had been catched.
"I remember wen Hopkinsville had jest a few stores en ole jew by name of
Shyer bought bones an iron en rags. Once us chilluns found some bones on
de creek bank en took dem things and wanted ter sell dem to Mr. Shyer en
he said 'take dem things way dey stink, dey aint cured up yet. Bury dem
things den bring dem back to me. Us Chilluns bed a hard time gittin home
cause we stunk so bad.'
"I remember wen we uster hev big time quilting on dem days we sho had a
big time fore we start in de morning wid a water melon feast, den weuns
quilt erwhile den a big dinner war spread out den after dinner we'd
quilt in the evening den supper and a big dance dat night, wid de banjo
a humming en us niggers a dancing, "Oh, Lawdy wat good days dem war."
"Wen we were young we uster hev parties called "Dideoos", de banjo
would play en den de girls would line up on one side of de cabin en de
boys on de tother side while the folks war a clappin en er playing why
de boys en girls wuld choose dar parrners den weuns sing:
"Ole Brer Rabbit,
Shake it, shake it,
How I love you,
Shake it, shake it.
I'd ruther play dat game dan to eat."
"We uster tap maple trees en hev big gathering foh ter make maple sugar
dat war while I lived at Gracey.
"De stage coach day war big days, wen de stage coach war a comin thru
why us little niggers would try ter keep up wid de horses en run erlong
side de coach en sometimes a man or woman would drop us a penny den dar
was sho a scramble."
"I remember wen we uster wash cloes wid a paddle. You wet dese cloes en
put soft soap in dem, the soap war made outer ash lye en grease den dese
cloes war spread on a smooth stump an beat wid paddles till dey war
clean. Den come de wooden wash board, hit war jes a piece of wood wid
rough places or ridges chiseled in hit. Wen we uster wash quilts we
uster cyt a nikasses varrek ubter eb dat made de tub deb my Mammy would
put water in dese tubs den soft soap de quilts den us chilluns would git
in de tubs in our Bare foots en tromp de dirt out."
"We uster use grease lamps, dese war made outer iron, wid a piece of
cotton rope down in de grease on dis jes send out a puny smelly light.
Dem de brass lamp came erlong hit war a little lamp wid a wich wid a
handle in er stem, no burner or nuthin hit burned coaloil but had no
"Hee, Hee, Hee, I remember arbout a story Mary Beard told ter me erbout
a slave woman dat war foolish. Her Massa couldn't git no body ter buy
her, hee, hee, hee, so he dresses her up nice en buys her a thimble en
gives her a piece of cloth ter sew on. It war right here in Hopkinsville
in front of de court house dat de block war en he sold dis woman as a
"sewing slave", en her war foolish en couldn't take er right stitch en
she sho brought a good price en wen her new Massa found out she war
foolish he sho war mad. He tried ter sell her but pshaw he bought
something he couldn't git rid of, Hee, Hee."
"Dese ole nigger slave traders uster so my Mammy said, steal de niggers
from one Massa and dey would leave at night en stay in "Campbells Cave"
den dey would take dese niggers wid a promise of freedom to Clarksville,
Tenn., sell dem again on "Mr. Dunk Morr's" slave market. Sometimes dese
niggers if dey got a new Massa dat war mean would run erway en come back
tar dar ole Massas."
"Yes I believe you can be hauted, I aint neber seed one tho but I'se
heard dem en I jest git creepy en I no's dey is around."
"Cos dreams come tru, I dont remember one now but if I'se had one ergin
I will try ter remember en tells you."
"No I aint neber seed a ghost. I feels dem sometimes en I jis shot my
eyes en pray de "Good Lawd" ter send dat ghost away."
"If youse find a horse shoe er put eber de door you will sho has good
"Thirteen has always been my lucky number. Dats follish ter thing
'Thirteen is unlucky'. Seben is lucky ter me ter. I always win when I
think of a seben."
"Of cos now if youse breakes a mirror you cant keep from having bad
luck. Nuthin you do will keep you from hit."
"Sho is bad luck ter meet a cross-eyed pusson er blue gummed niggers is
pizen cause if one bites you youse will sho ter die."
"My Mammy sho did hev a big wedding my Pappys Massa ask my Mammy Massa
foh her en den my Mammy Massa give her a big infair dat cost him $200.00
wid de bridal supper en all."
"Dey uster do niggers pretty bad erbout dat funerals. Wen a nigger did
die why de rest of de niggers hed ter work en one nigger made de box
whiler ernother nigger dug de grave en the nigger war jes civered up en
den on de Fourth Sunday in August ebery year all de colored folks would
take a basket dinner ter de church en each family dat had buried a
nigger would pay de preacher ter preach the sermon foh dat darkie dat
died. We ate dinner en supper at de church en sometimes the funeral foh
some fo de darkies wouldn't git preached till next August. We went to
dis funeral why we had big time talking wid our neighbors en of de
"Dogs howling meand bad luck if he howls under de house why someone is
goin ter die."
"If er owl come around de house on holler a death will happen in de
family fore de next day."
"I remembers I wat a sitting in de house en er peckerwood war a pecking
on de house 'Pure bad luck.'"
"I was working once foh Mrs. Shelton wen a little wren kept trying ter
git in de house an I kep a shosin hit arway wen he got in somehow jes as
soon as hit did Mrs. Shelton called me en I had a telegram from Chicago
my neice war dead. She by dat I nos dat am bad luck. I dont like wrens
"Wenn a cow loses hits cud, jes giv hit an old dirty dish rag en den de
cow will ding her cud again."
"Sometimes a cow gits sich en lay down en if you will fell her tail on
de end it is all soft, 'Dat cow hot holler tail, en less you split dat
tail en fill de holler wid salt den bind hit up dat cow will sholy
"I asked Mary if she was superstitious and she said 'no, cos niggers are
edicatted dese days en dey don believe in all dat tom-foolery. Dey neber
would benn so foolish if de white folks did not tell us all dat rot.'"
Mary neither reads or writes and is not superstitious according to her
admission. What do you think of it. I am afraid that I do not agree
The following story of slave days is the exact words of one who had the
bitter experience of slavery. Sophia Word, who is now ninety-nine years
of age, born February 2, 1837. She tells me she was in bondage for
nineteen years and nine months. I shall repeat just as she told the
"I wuz here in time of Mexican War and seed 'em get up volunteers to go.
They wuz dressed in brown and band played 'Our Hunting Shirts are
Fringed with Doe and away We march to Mexico'.
"My grandmother came straight from Africa and wuz auctioned off and
bought by William Reide Father. When he died William Reides inherited my
mother. Mother married a Bates and had ten of us children.
"Our Master didn't auction off his slaves as the other masters would for
he was a better master than most of them. When he started to sale one of
us he would go out and talk to the old slave trader like he wuz g'wine
to sale a cow or sometin and then he would come back to git the slave he
wanted. This wuz the way my mothers' brother and sister wuz sold. When
the other masters at other places sold a slave they put the slave on the
auction block and the slave trader had a long whop that he hit them with
to see if they could jump around and wuz strong. The largest and brought
"I wuz a slave nineteen yeahs and nine months but somehow or nuther I
didn't belong to a real mean pet of people. The white folks said I was
the meanest nigger that ever wuz. One day my Mistress Lyndia called fer
me to come in the house, but no, I wouldn't go. She walks out and says
she is Gwine make me go. So she takes and drags me in the house. Then I
grabs that white woman, when she turned her back, and shook her until
she begged for mercy. When the master comes in, I wuz given a terrible
beating with a whip but I did'nt care fer I give the mistress a good'un
"We lived off to the back of the masters house in a little log cabin,
that had one winder in the side. We lived tobly well and didn't starve
fer we had enough to eat but we didn't have as good as the master and
mistress had. We would slip in the house after the master and mistress
wuz sleeping and cook to suit ourselves and cook what we wanted.
"The Mistress had an old parrot and one day I wuz in the kitchen making
cookies, and I decided I wanted some of them so I tooks me out some and
put them on a chair and when I did this the mistress entered the door, I
picks up a cushion and throws over the pile of cookies on the chair and
mistress cane near the chair and the old parrot cries out, Mistress
burn, Mistress burn, then the mistress looks under the cushion and she
had me whupped but the next day I killed the parrot, and she often
wondered who or what killed the bird.
"I've seen whole pigs roasted before open fire place and when it wuz
done we would put a nice red apple in its mouth and the big white folks
company that come would eat of this delicious dish. Sometimes we had to
bake pies for a week to supply the company that wuz invited to our
masters and mistresses house. They served elaborate dinners and hundreds
of guest were invited.
"My master wuzn't as mean as most masters. Hugh White was so mean to his
slaves that I know of two gals that killt themselfs. One nigger gal
sudie wuz found across the bed with a pen knife in her hand. He whipped
another nigger gal most to death fer fergiting to put onions in the
stew. The next day she went down to the river and fer nine days they
searched fer her and her body finally washed upon the shore. The master
could never live in that house again as when he would go to sleep he
would see the nigger standing over his bed. Then he moved to Richmond
and there he stayed until a little later when he hung himself.
"Our clothes wuz made from cotton and linsey. Cotton wuz used in the
summer and linsey fer the winter. Sometimes our clothes wuz yeller
checked and most time red. Our stockings wuz made of coarse yarn fer
winter to wear with coarse shoes. We had high topped shoes fer Sunday.
"I've seed ten thousand of the Union Soldiers and a great many of the
rebel soldiers. The Rebel soldiers would take everything they could get
their hands on but I never did know of the Union Soldier taking
anything. The rebels have stole my masters cows and horses and we would
have to hide the meat in a box and bury it in the ground."
(Carl F. Hall)
The Commonwealth of Kentucky, having for a northern boundary the Ohio
River--the dividing line between the northern free states and the
southern slave states has always been regarded as a southern state. As
in the other states of the old south, slavery was an institution until
the Thirteenth Ammendment to the Constitution of the United States gave
the negro freedom in 1865.
Kentucky did not, as other southern states, secede from the Union, but
attempted to be neutral during the Civil War. The people, however, were
divided in their allegience, furnishing recruits for both the Federal
and Confederate armies. The president of the Union, Abraham Lincoln, and
the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, both were born in
Boyd County was formed in 1860 from parts of Lawrence, Greenup and
Carter Counties, and we are unable to find any records, in Boyd County,
as to slave holders and their slaves, though it is known that many well
to do families the Catletts, Davis, Poages, Williams and others were
Slaves were not regarded as persons, had no civil rights and were owned
just as any other chattel property, were bought and sold like horses and
cattle, and knew no law but the will of their white masters and like
other domestic animals could be, and were, acquired and disposed of
without regard to family ties or other consideration.
Usually, as each slave represented a large investment of money, they
were well cared for, being adequately fed, clothed and sheltered, having
medical attention when sick.
As, along the border in Kentucky, there were no large plantations where
field workers could be used, most of the slaves in this region were
house servants, who were housed in wings of the master's house, where
the plantations were large enough to need many slaves, they were
furnished one, or two, rooms cabins close by the mansion on the master's
As educated people are apt to be able to figure out ways to improve
their lot, learning among the negroes was not encouraged, in fact it was
illegal to teach them. In some instances an enlighted and humane master
would teach a servant, and often they could find some one who would
teach them secretly. As a race, however, they were, at the time they
were set free, without any education at all.
Tales are told of cruel masters who overworked, flogged and otherwise
mistreated their helpers and slaves; these masters, however, seem to
have been an exception to the rule and considering that they were
generally well provided for, many slaves were better off economically
than the laborer of today who is a victim of misfortunes such as
sickness, disability and old age.
One reason why slaves were better treated here than further south, was
that Kentucky was a border state, and throughout Ohio and other northern
states, was an organization known as the "Underground Railroad." This
was a sort of secret society whose members were sworn to assist escaped
slaves to run away to Canada where they would be free. When a run-away
slave crossed the Ohio River he would be met by some one of this
organization and taken where he could remain in hiding by day, then by
traveling by night, could reach another place of concealment by morning,
where he would be fed and hidden until darkness permitted him to reach
the next haven. By this means many were successful in reaching freedom,
though they were hunted by officers, armed with guns, and assisted by
fierce dogs especially trained for this work.
Negroes who were unruly, or were caught attempting to escape, were
usually sold to planters in the far south where they could not hope to
escape, and were forced to end their days in unremitting toil in the
cotton and cane fields, forever separated from relatives and friends.
It was the barbarism practiced by cruel masters, so vividly portrayed in
such books as "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and songs like "Nellie Gray," that
awakened the nation's conscience and brought about the bloody "Civil
War" which resulted in the race being set free.
Just before the war, George Davis, a mulatto, son of his master and a
black servant girl, was in Cincinnati and was accosted by two white men
who offered to use the good offices of the "Underground Railroad" to
help him to get away to Canada. Being well treated, as a trusted servant
of his white father and master, he did not avail himself of this
opportunity to escape and stayed on as a slave until Freed by the war,
after which he went to Ohio and settled and prospered until his death.
Another slave, Asberry Parker, did escape, and traveling by night hiding
by day, reached safety in Canada where he worked and saved until he
became wealthy. After the war, when he could safely return to the United
States, he moved to Ironton, Ohio, where he made his home for the rest
of his life. He belonged in his days of slavery, to a Williams family,
in Carter County, Kentucky.
Another slave, George McVodie, belonging to the Poage family, of Boyd
Co., escaped and went to Canada, no [TR: missing word?] as to whether he
ever came back later.
A sister of George Davis was sold to a planter in Louisiana where she
lived until 1877, when she returned to Boyd County as a free woman.
As negroes, in slavery days, were regarded as beasts of burden not much
interest was taken in the welfare of their souls. Some kind hearted
masters would allow them the privilege of meeting in religious service,
where some one of their race in spite of the conditions of the times,
could read and explain the Bible, would preach. Other masters would not
allow this to be done. A negro would become, in character much like the
family who owned him, i.e., an honest, moral and kindly master would
have slaves of like qualities, while a cruel, dishonest master would
usually affect his slaves so that they would be tricky and unreliable.
Where the master did not personally supervise his slaves and left them
to the mercies of a hired "over-seer," their lot was usually much worse,
as these task-masters were almost always tyranical and were not
restrained by a sense of ownership from abusing the helpless creatures
under their authority as were the master's, whose money was invested in
On one occasion, a young negro saw his own sister stripped naked and
unmercifully whipped by one of these over-seers. He gathered up all of
his small belongings and tied them in a bundle and securing a club of
wood, laid in wait for the cruel 'boss' until dark, when he killed him
with the club. He then escaped, via the "Underground Railroad."
One thing he was careful to do, was to avoid all telegraph poles, as
that he thought the wires could detect and betray him, the telegraph was
a mystery to his ignorant mind. He succeeded in making his way to
Canada and freedom where he stayed until after the war, when it was
safe to return.
The slave trade of importing slaves into the United States, being
forbidden after about 1820, cut off the supply to such an extent that
strong, healthy negroes became very high in price. Many Kentucky slave
owners raised slaves for this market just as we today raise live stock
on our farms.
Only the strong healthy slave women were allowed to have children, and
often were not allowed to mate with their own husbands, but were bred
like live stock to some male negro who was kept for that purpose because
of his strong phisique, which the master wished to reproduce, in order
to get a good price for his progeny, just like horses, cattle, dogs and
other animals are managed today in order to improve the stock. Often the
father of a comely black woman's child, would be the master himself, who
would heartlessly sell his own offspring to some other master, without
regard for his welfare.
Many of the aristocratic women of the master class, to keep from the
burdensome task of caring for their own children, and to assure
themselves a life of leisure would delegate to one of the negro slave
women the care of their own children.
Many of the upper class white children were cared for by these faithful
black "Mammies" fed by the milk from their breasts. Countless stories
are told of the love and devotion of the black "Mammy" for the white
child who was brought to their 'grown up' years by her care.
A marriage between negroes, before freedom, had no legal standing; a
negro couple, wishing to marry, had to get a permit from each master and
were united in marriage by a ceremony with a preacher of their own race
officiating. After the war, when they were made citizens with civil
rights, many former slaves who had been married in this way, hastened to
legalize their union by obtaining licenses and having a legal ceremony
While the four years of Civil War, between the North and South resulted
in the freedom of the slaves, the negro is yet restricted in many ways
in the south. In many states, separate schools are maintained, the negro
churches are separate, social equality is not recognized.
In Kentucky, intermarriages between the races are not allowed. Separate
coaches are provided on railway trains, hotels, restaurants, theaters
and other places of amusement, which cater to white customers, do not
permit negro patrons. Many towns and cities have zoning ordinances
forbidding negroes to live in white localities. In many southern states
the negroes is prevented from voting by local regulations, in Boyd
County colored people go to the polls and vote just like anyone else.
Negroes make good house servants, and are extensively used for that
purpose today. White families employ them as chauffeurs, butlers, house
boys, child nurses, maids and cooks, preferring them to white servants
who are not so adaptable to such subordinate positions in life.
Colored men work in barber shops, in restaurants as waiters, and are
largely employed as porters in hotels and on railway coaches. Colored
women work in hotels as cooks, chamber maids, and are commonly employed
as elevator operator in hotels and office buildings.
Not many negroes are in business locally, as race prejudice prevents
white folks from trading at colored stores, and the local colored
population is too small to provide many customers of their own race.
Many ambitious colored folks have left here and gone to the large cities
of the north, and made conspicious successes in business. Some have
succeeded in the professions as doctors, lawyers, actors, and writers
and other vocations.
All in all, the race has progressed to an astonishing degree since being
set free a generation ago.
Politics: Formerly, the negro, attributing his freedom to the efforts
of Abraham Lincoln in his behalf, voted almost solidly for the
Republican Party. Now, however, the Democrats have, by remembering the
race when passing out jobs, gained recruits among the colored people,
and some negro Democrats are found here. The negro has been accused of
voting for money, but it is doubtful if as a race, he is any more prone
to this practice than his white fellow citizens among whom this abuse
seems to be growing.
There were auction-blocks near the court houses where the slaves were
sold to the highest bidders. A slave would be placed on a platform and
his merits as a speciman of human power and ability to work was
enomerated the bidding began. Young slave girls brought high prices
because the more slave children that were born on one's plantation the
richer he would be in the future. Some slaves were kept just for this
purpose, the same as prize thorough-bred stock is kept. In many
instances slaves were treated like brutes and their places to sleep were
like barn sheds with only a little straw, on which to sleep. Mrs.
Neikirk's mother said that she distinctly remembered that the slaves she
knew of had only the roughest of food such as: corn bread molasses, and
scraps from their owner's table. Their clothing was such as their owners
saw fit to give them and the cheapest.
An old negro woman, Aunt Mandy Gibson by name, died last month, Sep. in
Middlesboro and I have heard her tell about coming here from Alabama
when the town of Middlesboro was first founded. When asked about her old
home people she would go to great lengths to explain about her people
having been slaves, but she would always add that they did not mind
slavery as they at that time knew nothing of the outdoor life and
therefore desired nothing better. She also said that the family that
owned her was a kind nature and was good to slaves.
Some of the citizens of Middlesboro today can recall stories that their
parents told them about the days when slaves were bought and sold in the
United States. Among these is one Mrs. Martha Neikirk, a daughter of an
old Union soldier now deceased. Mrs. Rhuben Gilbert, Mrs. Neikirk's
mother said that: "Once my mother and I were out in the woods picking
huckle-berries and heard a noise as of someone moaning in pain. We kept
going toward the sound and finally came to a little brook. Near the
water was a negro woman with her head bent over to the ground and
weeping as if her heart was broken. Upon asking her what had caused her
agony she finally managed to control her emotions enough to sob out her
story. The negro woman said then that her master had just sold her to a
man that was to take her far away from her present owner and incidently
her children. She said this couldn't be helped but she could ask the
good Lord to let her die and get out of the misery she was in.
It seems that such incidents were common in those days. Mrs. Sarah
Sloan, now residing in Middlesboro tells the stories her mother has told
her and she remembers one story in particular about old Aunt Suzy, an
old negro slave who, after the close of the Civil War lived near Mrs.
Sloan's mother. Aunt Suzy was the property of the Southern plantation
owner and had lived on this plantation until she had raised a large
family. One day a northern buyer came there and said he wanted to buy
some slaves as cheap as possible so, aunt Suzy was getting old and not
able to work as she once had, her owner naturally thought that while he
had the chance he should sell her but he wanted to keep her children as
they were young and able to do hard work. So poor old Aunt Suzy was sold
along with some others and taken North. Here she was bought by another
trader and sold to a new master. It seems this new master was kind to
her and felt sympathy for her in her distress. She told him how she had
lived on the old plantation so long and how she had never thought that
when she became old and lonely that she would forever be separated from
her children so the new [TR: owner?] said he would see what he could do,
if anything. He made a trip to her former home and had a talk with the
owner of the plantation. The plantation owner said that he had a bad
crop year and heavy losses and much as he needed all the help possible
to put in more crops he could not afford to buy more slaves, much less
one that was unable to work. At this, Aunt Suzy's new owner being a
generous, kind-hearted man, decided to give the old lady back to him. He
knew he could not get much money for her if he did sell her, for no one
wanted an old slave that was unable to work. Aunt Suzy after all her
traveling got to return to her old plantation and when the slaves were
freed she lived with one of her children until her death.
As told by Scott Mitchell, a former slave:
Scott Mitchell, claims his age as somewhere in the 70's but his wool is
white on the top of his head. Negroes don't whiten near as quickly as
white people, evidently he is nearly 90, or there-a-bouts.
"Yes'm I 'members the Civil Wah, 'cause I wuz a-livin' in Christian
County whah I wuz bohn, right wif my masteh and mistress. Captin Hester
and his wife. I wuz raised on a fahm right wif the, then I lef there.
"Yes, Cap'n Hester traded my mother an my sister, 'Twuz in 1861, he sent
em tuh Mississippi. When they wuz 'way from him 'bout two years he bot
em back. Yes, he wuz good tuh us. I wuz my mistess' boy. I looked afteh
her, en she made all uv my cloes, en she knit my socks, 'cause I wuz her
"Yes, I wuz twenty yeahs old when I wuz married. I members when I wuz a
boy when they had thet Civil Wah. I members theah wuz a brick office
wheah they took en hung colohed folks. Yes, the blood wuz a-streamin'
down. Sumtimes theah hung them by theah feet, sometimes they hung them
by theah thumbs.
"I cum tu Kentucky coal mines when I wuz 'bout twenty years old. I
worked for Mistah Jenkins. I worked right here et the Davis, the R.T.
Davis coal mine, en at the Bailey mine; that was a-fore Mistah Bailey
"When I worked for Mistah Davis he provided a house in the Cutt-Off,
that's ovah wheath the mine's at. We woaked frum 7 o'clock in the
mawnin' til 6 'clock at night. Yes, I sure liked tuh woak for Mistah
Davis. I tended fuahnaces some, too. I sure wuz sorry wen Mistah Davis
(Ruby J. Girten)
A Bill of Sale:
This indenture, made and entered into this 5th day of June 1850, by and
between Joseph W. Cromwell and Martha Cromwell, his wife, of the first
part, and Wm. C. Hamner of the second part, all of the County of Union
and State of Kentucky, Witnesseth: That the said Joseph W. Cromwell and
Martha his wife, for, and in consideration of the sum of $550.00, in
hand paid, the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, have given,
granted, bargained and sold and by these present to grant bargain, sell
and deliver unto the said Wm. C. Hamner a certain negro woman called
Milly, about 29 years old, and her child, called James, about 18 months
old which negroes together with their increase, and the said Joseph W.
Cromwell and Martha Cromwell for themselves, their heirs and assigns,
will, warrant, and defend unto the said Wm. C. Hamner, his heirs and
assigns forever, against the claims of themselves, their heirs, and
against the claims of all and every person or persons whatever. Said
Cromwell and wife further warrant said negro woman, Milly, to be sound
and healthy, and slaves for life. In testimony whereof, the said Joseph
W. Cromwell and Martha Cromwell, his wife, have hereunto set the hands
and affixed their seals, the day and date first written.
Joseph W. Cromwell
Martha L. Cromwell
(Recorded in Deed Book on Page 155 at Morganfield, Kentucky.)
In the name of God, Amen. I, Nancy Austin of sound mind and disposing
memory, but weak in body, do make and publish this as my last will and
In the first place I give to my Grandsons, Fielding Jones and Isaac
Vanmeter Jones, a negro girl of the name of Margaritte, and negro boy by
the name of Solomon to be equally divided between them when the arrive
at the age of 21 years or without lawful issue, then and in that case my
will and desire is that the survivor have the aforesaid negroes with
their increase and should both die without lawful issue, then and that
case my will and desire is that the aforesaid negroes and their increase
go to my three children and their lawful heirs.
Secondly, I give to my daughter, Harriet Lapham, a negro girl of the
name of Mahala, and a boy of the name of Washington, and girl of the
Thirdly, I give to my son, Daniel Vanmeter, a negro boy of the name of
Alexander, and a negro woman of the name of Teresa, and the horses he
claims being 3 in number, and 3 steers, and the hogs he claims, and one
bed and furniture.
Fourthly: I give to my daughter, Helen Jones, a negro girl of the name
of Sarah, and a boy of the name of John, and a girl of the name of
Amanda, and two of the choice of my cows, and one bed a furniture.
Fifthly: My will and desire is that the house and lot I now live on be
sold on a 12 months credit with my personal property not heretofore
disposed of by my Executor hereafter named or such of them as may
qualify, and such as qualify are hereby authorized to convey said house
and lot whenever the purchase money is paid to the prchaser[TR: sic] of
said house and lot.
Sixthly: My will and desire is that all my just debts be paid and then
the balance of the money arising from the sale to be equally divided
between my three children and my 2 grandsons, Fielding and Isaac, they
taking one fourth of the money between them.
Seventhly: My will and desire is that my faithful servants, Amanda, be
free at my death and if she should not be able to support herself then
out of the hire or services of the negroes I have given to them. Lastly,
I appoint Samuel Casey, Gibson B. Taylor and William Grundy executors of
this my last will and Testament as witness my hand this 26th day of May,
Witness: Nathaniel Ashby, C.C. Jones, Tabitha Wilson.
(Will Book B., P.9, at Morganfield, Kentucky.)
The years 1843 to 1845 worked the development of the systematic enticing
away, or stealing of slaves from Kentucky slave owners, and the passing
them to Canada by a cordon of posts, or relays, which came to be known
as the "Underground Railroad". A number were stolen and carried away on
horses. The abductors traveled with the slaves at night and concealed
them during the day. The old McFerron house in Mt. Vernon, Kentucky was
used as a relay post to hide slaves enroute to Ohio, Michigan and
Canada. The slaves in these parts were locked in the old McFerron
cellar which was situated under the ground, and they were concealed
under the cover until night, when they would travel again.
There were never at any time any slaves sold from auction blocks in this
county. It is reported that the life of the slave in Rockcastle County
was a happy lot. Their masters built them cabins to live in, furnished
with bunks, tables, stoves, and other necessities. Their masters gave
them chickens, cows and other stock and gave them plenty to eat.
There are no slaves living in Rockcastle at this time.
The first records of Slaves in Clark County was given by a descendant of
one of the members of the little band of resolute Revolutionary
soldiers who had been comrades and mess mates throughout the long bloody
war. These fifteen families, some from Virginia and others from
Maryland, started westward in the early spring of 1783 for Kentucky.
They bought with them some horses, a few cattle, thirty or forty slaves
and a few necessary household articles.
After many hardships and trials, borne heroically by both men and women,
they halted on the banks of the Big Stoner, in what is now the eastern
part of Clark County. Two years later another group of families with
their slaves came to join this little settlement.
In some cases the owners were good to their slaves had comfortable
quarters for them at a reasonable distance from the main house. Their
clothing was given them as they needed it. In most instances the
clothing was made on the plantation Material woven, and shoes made. The
cabins were one and two rooms, maybe more if the families were large.
The slaves ate their meals in the kitchen of the main house.
A cruel and inhuman master was ostrazied and taught by the silent
contempt of his neighbors a lesson which he seldom failed to learn. In
1789 the general assembly passed an act in which good treatment was
enjoined upon master and all contracts between master and slaves were
forbidden. The execution of this law was within the jurisdiction of the
county courts which were directed to admonish the master of any ill
treatment of his slave. If presisted in the court had option and power
to declare free the abused slave.
Few traders came to Clark County as the slaves were not sold unless they
were unruly. There was no underground railroads through this area.
Among some of the old wills compiled by Dr. George F. Doyle of
Winchester, we find wills as follows:
"John Briston in his will dated April 27, 1840 frees his negroes, the
executor to go to Todd County and buy land and divide it between the
negroes and they were given a cow, three horses and he expressed a
desire for them to go to Liberia. They were to be given a certain amount
to defray their moving expenses, and buy them provisions and each negro
was given his blanket."
"Henry Calmes, in his will dated 1831, divides his slaves among his wife
and children." (B7--p654)
"John Christy in his will 1848 says at the death of his wife all his
land and slaves are to be sold and the proceeds divided among his
"In some old wills enough slaves are to be sold said all outstanding
debts paid and those left to be divided among his heirs."
"A will dated 1837 says at the expiration of eight years after his death
all negroes above those bequeated are to be offered to the Colonization
Society, if they are of age, to be transported to Liberia and those not
of age to continue to serve the persons to whom they are allotted until
they come of age, boys 21 and the girls at 18 when they are to be
offered to the Colonization Society to be transported to Liberia. None
of them are to be forced to go. Those that do not go to Liberia are to
continue to serve the persons to whom they are allotted until they are
willing to go. Three persons by name to be hired out the seventh year
after the death and the money arising from said hire to be given to
those that first go to Liberia, $10.00 a piece if there should be so
much and the balance given to the next ones to go."
"In the will of Robert Lewis, February 20, 1799, he sets three of his
slaves free and gives them the use of 200 acres of the northwest of the
Ohio, their life time. There were to be five hired out until their hire
amounts to 120 pounds each, then they were to be freed. As the other
younger slaves become of age, they are to be freed."
From the following will dated June 22, 1840 it shows the slaves were
able, to accumalate an estate:
"Allan, Charles June 22, 1840 Oct 26, 1840
"A free man of color. Estate to be sold and the proceeds distributed as
follows: To Ester Graves, a woman of color belonging to the heirs of
Rice Arnold, $100.00; balance of money to be divided equally between the
children 'I claim to be mine'. Jerrett, Charles, Ester, Carolina,
Granvill and Emile; all children of aforesaid. Charlotte Arnold and all
belonging to the heirs of Rice Arnold and also Sally, Alfred, Mary,
Lucy, Hulda, Catharine, and Maud, children of Ester Graves aforesaid,
slaves of Bengamine Graves; also two children of Mary Allan, a slave
belonging to Patsey Allan names Lesa and Carolina, the sixteen children
to receive an equal share of the money arising from the sale of his
Clark County did not have an auction block or slave market but every
New Years day in front of the Courthouse owners would bring their
slaves to be hired. It was told by one of the old citizens a few years
ago, (died two years ago) that he walked nine miles one bitter cold day
to hire some slaves. These could be hired for a definite time or until
they brought certain amounts of money.
In 1812-1814 Winchester, the County Seat of Clark County boasted of a
weekly newspaper, issued every Saturday. From the advertisement column
of this paper we learned that Dillard Collins was willing to pay $10.00
to get his run away slave, Reuben, and a similar reward was offered for
one "Scipio" who had taken French leave from his master, (donned) in his
master's new clothes. Another ad in this paper ways[TR: says?] one
Walter Karrick offered to trade a negro woman for "whiskey", cyder and
"A story is told of a slave "Monk Estill" who helped or rather belonged
to Col. James Estill of Madison County. In 1782 in a battle known as
Estill's defeat, which occured on the grounds where Mt. Sterling now
stands in Montgomery County, Col. Estill and twenty-five men attacked a
party of Wyandotte Indians by whom the slave was taken prisoner.
"In the thickest of the fight, Monk called out in a loud voice; 'Don't
give way, Marse Jim, there's only twenty-five Indians and you con whip
all of them.'
"Col. Estill was killed and the men retreated. Monk escaped from his
captors and after many hardships joined the white comrades.
"On his shoulder he carried a wounded soldier twenty-five miles to
Estill Station. His young master gave him his freedom in recognition for
his bravery and supported him in comfort the rest of his life."
In Clark County are many small negroe settlements formed by the old
freed slaves after the war. Some had accumalated a little and brought a
small piece of land and others had homes given to them by their owners.
Mr. Archilles Eubank was the largest slave holder of his day, Mr. Colby
Quisenberry was second, in Clarks County.
"The story is told that at the time of General Morgan's last raid on
Winchester, an old faithful slave of Dr. Hubbard Taylor, (a noted
Physician all over this portion of Kentucky at this time) who was always
careful of his master's interests, and without the consent of his
master, saved his very fine riding horse, "Black Prince" from being
pressed into service of the Confederates. Ab (the slaves name) learned
that Morgan's men were good judges of horse flesh and had taken several
horses just as the Federals did when they needed them and he determined
to conceal prince, whose groom he was. He put him there in the smoke
house along with the meat, but Prince pawed and made disturbances until
he took him out and took him to the cellar persuading him to descend the
steps and left him there. He came up to hear that several horses had
been taken from the cellars of the men, then he hastened back to get
Black Prince. He brought him out of the cellar and took him to the
Laundry room and sat there with him conversing him to keep him quite
until all danger passed. When Prince became restless and wanted to paw
his way out, old Ab would say, "Now Prince, you quit dat you's in danger
of being taken by the bad soldiers." Old Prince would stop instantly and
listen to his groom."
In this community most of the slaves were kept on farms and each family
was given a well constructed log house. They were fed by provisions
given them by their white masters and they were plentiful. They were
clothed by their masters. These clothes were made by the colored women
under the direction and supervision of their mistress, the white woman
cut the clothes for both men and women, and the colored women did the
sewing of the garments. The men did the manual labor on the farm and
the women the domestic. Each white woman and girl had a special servant
for her own use and care and each white man had his colored man or
There are no records of a big slave trade in this county. When a slave
was sold it was usually to a friend or neighbor and most masters were
very considerate and would not sell unless a family could go together.
For instance from the diary of Mrs. Wliza[TR: Eliza?] Magowan 1853-1871,
we read this: "Lina and two children Scott and Dulcina sold to J.
Wilkerson". Also another item: "Violet married to Dennie" showing that
care was taken that marriages were made among the negroes.
The darkies had suppers in their own quarters and had much merrymaking
Illness among the darkies were cared from among themselves but under the
watchful eye of the master and mistress.
The darkies were deeply religious and learned much of the Bible from
devout mistresses who felt it their holy duty to teach these ignorant
people the word of God. An extract from Mrs. Magowan's diary on July 25,
1856: "Old Aunt Becky was baptised on the 20th; she being upwards of 70
years of age. A considerable interest on the subject of religion is
manifest among the negroes, several have joined may they be kept by the
power of God unto Salvation. The redemption of the soul is precious".
This is quoted to show that the Negro was considered as a human being
and treated as such.
Also taken from Mrs. Magowan's diary: "Dove sold to Mr. Van Thompson. O
slavery, thorn art a bitter draught! tho' thousands have tasted of thee,
thou art none the less bitter."
The Underground Railroad did not run through this county. No slaves were
carried away on any such thing. The older people interviewed about this
say they do not believe such a railroad ever existed as it would be a
feat of engineering even in this day and time.
The rosters of the Independent company which Ge. John S. Williams
organized in this county and led to Mexico is in the possession of his
grandson Mr. John S.W. Hollaway, Winchester, Kentucky.
Mrs. Allie R. Robertson has in her possession the suit worn home from
the war, by her father Joe Arrasmith. He was in the company of Morgan's
men. It is made of coarse cotton and was in a most deplorable condition
when he came home.
(Uncle) Edd Shirley:
I am 97 years and my name is Uncle Edd Shirley and I 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 me.
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 grandfather 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.
The Story of Mrs. C. Hood:
Once upon a time during the Civil War my grandmother was alone with just
one old faithful servant. The Union troops had just about taken
everything she had, except three prize saddle horses and one coal black
mare which she rode all the time. She was very fond of the mare and
valued it very much. One night my grandmother heard a noise, and called
old Joe to go to the barn and see what was the matter. As he was nearing
the barn someone yelled "Halt"; and Joe being a black man and a servant,
stopped just where he was. My grandmother, who had also heard the
command, paid no attention whatsoever; she went straight through the
dozen or more Union soldiers who were stealing her stock to the one who
appeared to be the leader. He was holding her mare; she jerked the
briddle from his hand, led her mare back to the kitchen door, where she
held her the remainder of the night.
When my mother was a girl she was staying with some kinfolks for one
month. These people owned several slaves and among them was one old
man-servant who was very old and had served out his usefulness. It was
war time and food was scarce even for the white folks. The younger and
stronger slaves got most of the food, and old Tom was always hungry. My
mother finding this out, and feeling sorry for him would slip him bread
and other food through a hole in the kitchen floor. A short time after
this, my mother married and moved to a home of her own. Old Tom never
forgot her kindness; and finally persuaded his master to give him to my
mother, who kept him until his death.
Story of Peter Bruner, a former slave:
Peter Bruner, was born in Winchester, Kentucky, Clark Co., in 1845. His
master was John Bell Bruner, who at that time treated him fairly well.
When Peter was 10 years of age his master brought him and his sister to
Irvine. After arriving in Irvine, Peter's master was very cruel to him.
They got only cornbread, fat meat and water to eat. If his master's
hunger was not satisfied, he would even take this little from them.
The[TR:?] were tables to eat from.
Once Peter, was taken into his master's house to nurse the children and
was made to sleep on the floor with only a ragged quilt to lie on and
one thin one over him.
Often he was whipped because his mistress said the washing was not
clean, when it was. On one occasion when he was beaten his master took a
piece of sole leather about 1 foot long and 2 inches wide, cut it full
of holes and dipped it in water that was brined. He then took the
leather and lashed the poor slave's back.
Joe Bruner, was a better master to his slaves than John. Once when Peter
stole some sugar and flour, that he and his sister might have a pound
cake, Joe caught him. He did not whip him however, because he knew that
Peter did not often have enough to eat.
Peter, endured torture as long as he could and finally decided to
escape. He went to Richmond, Kentucky on to Lexington. On his way he
made a contract with a man to drive his horses to Orleans, but was
caught while in Lexington. On his way they caught him and took him to
jail and he remained until his master came for him. This did not down
him, for just as soon as he could he escaped again, and this time got as
far as Xenia, Ohio, but was again caught and brought back. This time he
was severely beaten for three hours.
When 17 years old, Peter was hired out to Jimmy Benton, who was more
cruel than John Bruner, but was again brought back. It was then that he
tried again to escape. This time he went through Madison Co. near Sugar
Creek. This was about the year 1861, when the war had begun. Again he
was caught and taken back, but this time by Joe Bruner. He escaped
several times, but never could seem to get anywhere. Once when he and
another slave, Phil, escaped they were caught and made to walk the
entire distance barefoot. After this Peter, was chained each night to a
chair. One morning while eating his breakfast he heard a knock at the
door and on opening it he found a troop of Union Home Guards. Jim Benton
and John Bruner were taken to prison. After this Peter went to Miller's
Creek and worked at odd jobs for awhile.
When John Bruner was taken from Prison, he was much better to Peter.
Soon after John was released from Prison, Peter escaped again. This time
he had joined a regiment in the war. He went through hardships, cold,
hunger and illness.
Often when they were awaken in the morning they would find their
blankets frozen to the ground. He was sick several times. His feet
frozen and other things would go wrong such as having fever and once he
had Variloid. After serving for awhile he was mustered out and returned
to Winchester, where his mother lived. He stayed a short time and then
went to Oxford, Ohio. Here he went to school, but soon decided he was
not learning anything so decided to get married. In the spring he was
married to Nannie Proctor. Again he made a mistake and during this time
suffered hardships trying to keep a roof over their heads and food
enough to eat. He worked at odd jobs, but could not find much to do and
got very much in debt. He then went to Hamilton, Ohio and asked Mr. John
Frye to loan him some money. He had asked Mr. Roberts for some and he
would not loan it. However, John Frye did loan him the money and Peter
paid himself out of debt and bought a stone quarry from his
mother-in-law. He sold a lot of stone from it, but finally sold this and
took a job as engineer at Oxford, College. Dr. Walker was president at
that time. It was here that Peter celebrated his 25th wedding
anniversary. The teacher, faculty and seniors made this a happy day for
him. He got a job as janitor under Dr. Thompson at Miami University. He
worked here for 13 years under President Taft. He is a member of Bethel
A.M.E. Church and has been for over 50 years. In 1918 he and his wife
celebrated his golden anniversary.
Peter Bruner is still living (1936) but his eyesight is impaired. He is
91 years of age.
(Mamie Hanbery) [HW: Ky 3]
Story of Easter Sudie Campbell,
(age about 72, Webber St., Hopkinsville, Ky.)
Born in Princeton, Caldwell Co., Kentucky, her parents were slaves, the
property of Will and Martha Grooms of Princeton.
Aunt Easter as she is called has followed the profession of a mid-wife
for forty years. She is still active and works at present among the
negroes of Hopkinsville.
"Yes, sho, I make my own medicines, humph, dat aint no trouble. I cans
cure scrofula wid burdock root and one half spoon of citrate of potash.
Jes make a tea of burdock root en add the citrate of potash to hit.
Sasafras is good foh de stomach en cleans yer out good. I'se uses yeller
percoon root foh de sore eyes.
"Wen I stayed wid Mrs. Porter her chaps would break out mighty bad wid
sores in de fall of de year and I'se told Mrs. Porter I'se could core
dat so I'se got me some elder berries en made pies out of hit en made
her chaps eat hit on dey war soon cored.
"If twont foh de white folks I sho would hev a hard time. My man he jes
wen erway en I haint neber seed him ergin en I'se had five chilluns en
de white folks hev heped me all dese years. Dese trifling niggers dey
wont hepe dey own kind of folks. If youse got de tooth ache I makes a
poultice of scrape irish pertatoes en puts hit on de jaw on de side de
tooth is aching en dat sho takes de fever out of de tooth. I'se blows
terbacco smoke in de ear en dat stops de ear ache.
"Wen I goes on er baby case I jest let nature hev hits way. I'se alays
teas de baby de first thing I does is ter blow my breath in de baby's
muff en I spanks it jes a little so hit will cry den I gives hit warm
catnip tea so if hit is gwine ter hev de hives dey will break out on
hit. I alays hev my own catnip en sheep balls foh sum cases need one
kind of tea en sum ernother. I give sink field tea ter foh de colic. Hit
is jes good fuh young baby's stomach. I'se been granning foh nigh unter
forty year en I'se only lost two babies, dat war born erlive. One of
dese war de white man's fault, dis baby war born wid de jaundice en I
tolds dis white man ter go ter de store en git me sum calomel en he
says, "whoeber heard of givin a baby sech truck", an so dat baby died.
"Of course youse can tell wheder the baby is gwine ter be a boy er girl
fore tis born. If de mother carries dat child more on de left en high up
dat baby will be a boy en if she carries hit more ter de middle dat will
be a girl. Mothers oughter be more careful while carrying dar chilluns
not ter git scared of enthing foh dey will sho mark dar babies wid
turrible ugly things. I knows once a young wooman war expecting en she
goes black-berry hunting en er bull cow wid long horns got after her en
she was so scairt dat she threw her hands ober her head en wen dat baby
boy war born he hed to nubs on his head jes like horns beginning ter
grow so I'se hed her call her doctor en dey cuts dem off. One white
wooman I'se waited on like hot choclate en she alays wanted more she
neber hed nuff of dat stuff en one day she spills sum on her laig en it
jes splotched en burned her en wen dat gal war born she hed a big brown
spot on her laig jes like her Mammy's scar frum de burn. Now you see I
noes yer ken mark de babies.
"Dar war a colored wooman once I'se waited on dat hed to help de white
folks kill hogs en she neber did like hog liver but de white folks told
her ter take one home en fix hit foh her supper. Well she picked dat
thing up en started off wid hit en hit made her feel creepy all ober en
dat night her baby war born a gal child en de print of er big hog-liver
war standing out all ober one side of her face. Dat side of her face is
all blue er purplish en jes the shape of a liver. En hits still dar.
"I'se grannied ober three hundred chilluns en I noes wat I'se talking
"Hee! Hee! Hee! One day dar war a circus in Hopkinsville en er black
wooman I'se war ergoing ter wait on war on de street to watch foh de
parade en wid de bands er playing en de wild varmits en things dis woman
give birth ter dat girl chile on de corner of Webber and Seventh St. Dat
gal sho got er funny name 'Es-pe-cu-liar'. (I did not get the drift of
the story so I asked her what was so funny about the name. Of course it
is a name I have never heard before so the following is what the girls
Mother said about it to Aunt Easter. M.D. Hanbery)
"Well the gals Mammy thought hit war jes peculiar dat, dat happened wen
she war er looking at the parade. (So this woman Especuliar is still in
Hopkinsville and her story is known in quite a few of the older
"Yah! Yah! I sho remember how de ole folks uster dress. De women wore
hop skirts en de men wore tight breeches. De night gowns war made on er
yoke aufull full en big long sleeves wid a cuff at de hand en a deep hem
at de bottom of de gown, dese gowns war made of domestic en wen dey war
washed en starched en ironed dey wur be so stiff dey could stand
erlone." De men en de women both wore night caps. If de gown war a dress
up gown why dey war home made knit en crochet lace in de front en lots
en lots of tucks some of dem had deep ruffles on dem at the bottom.
"Wen my Pappy kum home from de war, he war on de "Govmint" side he brung
a pistol back wid him dat shot a ball dey hed caps on hit en used dese
in de war. De Ku Klux jum after him one night en he got three of dem wid
dis pistol, nobody eber knowed who got dose Kluxes.
"Sho dar is ghosts. One night es I war going home from work de tallest
man I eber seed followed me wid de prettiest white shirt on en den he
passed me, en waited at de corner I war a feeling creepy en wanter run
but jes couldn't git my laigs ter move en wen I'se git ter de corner war
he war I said 'Good Ebening' en I seed him plain es day en de did not
speak en jes disappeared right fore my eyes.
"Den ergin I went ter de fish pond one day fishing en cotched two or
three big fish wen I went home thot I'd go back dat night en I begun to
dig sum fishing worms en my boss he saw me en axed, 'Wot I doing'. I
told him I war ergoing ter de pond ter fish dat night. He said 'don you
go ter dat pond ternight Easter foh if you does something will run you
erway.' I jes laughed at him en dat night I en my boy wese goes ter de
pond en as we war er standing in dar quiet like we heared something
squeeching like er new saddle en er horses er trotting. We listened en
waited wen something wen inter dat pond right twixt us liker er ball er
fire. Weums sho did leave dar an de next morning my boss axed me if we
cotched enthing en we told him wot we saw en he said he knowed weums
would be run erway foh he war run erway hisself.
"Course dar is hainted houses dese haints in dese places jes wont leave
you erlone. Wen I'se war er living in Princeton, Uncle Lige my Mammy's
brother en I'se moved in er cabin one Christmas day en war ergoing ter
stay dar en dat night we war er setting bore de fire en de fire light
war es bright as day, wen I looks up at de wall foh I hears er
scratching noise en dar war er big white cat on de wall wid all he's
hair standing on dat cat jos jumps from wall ter de nother en Uncle Lige
en me jes open dat cabin door en started ter de tother cabins on de
place en we deed dat thing dat war bigger den eny cat I eber seed jes
come thru dat door in de air en hit de front gate, dis gate hed er iron
weight on hit so hit would stay shot en dis thing hit at de top den wen
erway. No I neber seed whar hit went. Dis gate jes banged en banged all
night. We could heat from de tother cabin. Uncle Liga en me moved erway
next day en other people moved in dis cabin en dey saw de same thing en
nobody would stay dar. Dem some time after dis diz cabin war torn down.
"Once I hed a dream I knowed I ner bout saw hit. I alays did cook ebery
night er pot er beans on de fire foh de chilluns ter eat next day while
I war at work en Lizzie my daughter uster git up in de night en git her
some beans en eat dem en dis dream war so real dat I couldn't tell if
hit war Lizzie er no but dis wooman jes glided by my bed en went afore
de fire en stood dar den she jes went twixt my bed en went by de wall. I
jes knowed wen I woke up dat my child was sick dat lived erway from home
en wanted my son ter take me ter see her. He said he would go hisself en
see so he wen en wen he come back he hed a headache en fore morning dat
nigger war dead. So you see dat war de sign of da dream. I war jes
warned in de dream en didn't hev sense nuff ter know hit."
[Story of Uncle Dick:]
Uncle Dick, a negro servant of one of the Hendersons, was the fiddler
of the neighborhood at weddings, husking parties and dances. Dick's
presence was essential. Uncle Dick was fully aware of his own
importance, and in consequence assumed a great deal of dignity in his
bearing. Before setting out he always dressed himself with the greatest
nicety. At the appointed time he was at the place with all the weight of
his dignity upon him. Woe to the "darkies" who violated any of the laws
of etiquette in his presence.
On a certain evening there was to be a grand wedding festival among the
colored gentry on a farm about 6 miles from Uncle Dick's residence. He
was, of course called upon to officiate as master of ceremonies. He
donned his long-tailed blue coat, having carefully polished the
glittering gilt buttons; then raised his immense shirt collar, which he
considered essential to his dignity, and, fiddle in hand, sallied forth
alone. The younger folk had set out sometime before; but Uncle Dick was
not to be hurried out of his dignity.
The narrow path led, for the greater part of the way, through a dense
forest, which was as wild as when roamed by the Indians. A heavy snow
lay on the ground, on which the moonbeams were shining whenever they
could force a passage through the trees.
The dreary solitude of the way made no impression on the mind of Uncle
Dick. He was anxiously hurrying on to reach the scene of operation,
having spent a little too much time in polishing his gilt buttons.
On he dashed, heedless of the black shadows and hideous night cries of
the deep forest. Wolves were howling around him; but he paid no
attention to sounds so common, thinking only of the feet that were
waiting his arrival to be set in motion.
Soon, however, the howling began to approach nearer than was agreeable,
The wolves continued to become more and more noisy, till, to his
indescribable horror, he heard them on each side of the crackling
Very soon the woods seemed to the old man to be alive with the yelling
pack. Wolves are cautious about attacking human beings; they usually
require some little time to work themselves up to the point. Every few
moments a dark object would brush past poor old Dick's legs with a
snapping sound like that of a steel trap, while the yelling and
crackling increased with terrible rapidity.
Dick new that to run would mean instant death, as the cowardly pack
would all rush on him the moment he showed fear. His only chance of
safety consisted in preserving the utmost coolness. A short distance
before him lay some open ground; and he hoped that on reaching this they
would leave him, as they do not like to make an attack in such a place.
He remembered, too, that in the middle of the open space there stood an
old cabin, in which he might be able to find refuge. But now the wolves
rushed at him more and more boldly, snapping in closer and closer
proximity to his legs.
Snap! Snap! Nearer and nearer! Instinctively he thrust out his fiddle at
them. The jarring of the strings made than leap back. Hope returned. He
drew his hand violently across the strings--twang, twang! Instantly the
wolves sprang back as if he had fired a gun among them.
He was now at the edge of the open space. He twanged his fiddle--the
wolves recoiled. Dick rushed toward the hut with all his speed, raking
the strings more violently at every jump, till they rang again.
The astonished wolves paused for a moment on the edge of the open
ground, with tails between their legs. But the sight of his flying form
renewed their savage instincts. With a loud burst of yells they darted
after him at full speed. He reached the hut just as the jaws of the
foremost wolf opened to seize him.
He rushed in, and the closing door dashed against the nose of the
nearest beast. The door was too rickety to keep the enemy out; but Dick
had time to push himself through the broken roof and get on top of the
cabin. The wolves were now furious. Rushing into the hut, they jumped
and snapped at him, so that Dick almost felt their teeth. It required
the greatest activity to keep his legs out of their reach.
Notwithstanding his agonizing terror, he still clung to his fiffle. Now,
in desperation, as he was kicking his feet in the air to avoid their
steel like fangs, he drew his bow shrieking across the strings. The
yells instantly ceased. Dick continued to make the most frightful spasms
of sound, but the wolves could not long endure bad fiddling. As soon as
the first surprise was over the attack was renewed more furiously than
A monstrous head was now thrust up between the boards of the roof, only
a few inches from Dick. He gave himself up for lost. But the excess of
terror seemed to stimulate him, so that almost of their own accord his
fingers began to play "Yankee-Doodle." Instantly there was complete
silence! The silence continued as long as he continued to play; but the
moment he ceased the listeners again became furious, and rushed on with
Uncle Dick's pride as a fiddler was flattered. He entered for awhile
completely into the spirit of the thing. But never before had he played
to an audience so fond of music. They permitted no pause. His enthusiasm
began to give way to cold and fatigue. He was tired to death and almost
What was to be done? There sat the listeners with tongues lolling and
ears pricked up, allowing not a moments pause, but demanding an
uninterrupted stream of music. Several weary hours passed, and Uncle
Dick was almost exhausted.
But all this while the wedding company had been anxiously expecting
their musician. Becoming at last impatient or alarmed, some of them set
out in search for him. They found him on top of the hut, still sawing
away for for life. The wolves were driven away and Uncle Dick was
relieved from his unwilling efforts to charm listeners who got more
music than they paid for.
Last Wolf: [HW: KY4]
On January 20, 1910, a famous gray wolf was seen in Christian County and
killed by a man named Tyler. This wolf seemed to be the last wolf seen
in this County. It had terrorized the farmers in the Sinking Fork
neighborhood, and a party organized by Charles L. Dade formed to hunt
and kill this wolf which was done on the above date. The wolf measured
48 inches from tip to tip and stood 24 inches high.
Negro Holiness Meetings:
Once a year a group of 200 or 300 negroes give a religious Camp Meeting
in a field on the Canton Pike about one mile southeast of Hopkinsville.
There is quite a settlement of negroes call themselves or their church
the Holiness Church. They claim to be sanctified and cannot sin. A few
nights ago I was invited to attend one of these meetings, the negroes
reserve some benches under the tent for white people.
The night that I attended there were two preachers and it seems as
though it is the duty of these preachers to bring their discourse to
such a point as to play on the emotions of their congregation. The order
of service begun with a hymn by the choir. The music for this consisted
of a piano, banjo guitar and numerous tambourines. The negroes being
naturally born with a great sense of rhythm the songs were not in the
same tempo as the songs of the whites but were of a jazz tempo and with
the banjo and tambourines it makes one think of the stories of the
African jungles. The services start around 7:30 P.M. and usually break
up around midnight.
The negroes in about one hour after the services start being[TR: begin?]
to testify and then after each testimony someone offers a prayer then by
this time someone in the congregation will be worked up to the pitch of
shouting "Glory Hallelulah". "When this shout starts the tambourine
players will begin shaking the tambourines and shortly the majority of
the congregation would be shouting, moaning or praying. The tambourines
players bounce around in time to the music. There were some excellent
untrained voices, in the choir and the congregation. The mourners bench
was always full of mourners and when one of the Mourners would begin to
shout the "Workers" would then let the congregation know that this
brother or sister had repented by saying "Lets pray for Bro. or Sister
----, for he or she had "Come Through". The congregation would begin
clapping their hands while this prayer was in progress and general
moanings with one or both of the preachers praying at the same time why
this brother or sister is taken in to the flock to sin no more.
While the above is in progress there are other workers talking and
singing to the rest of the mourners and when two or three "Come Through"
at once there is great shouting rejoicing, clapping of hands and the
tambourines continue to clang and the choir members dance and this
process continues for hours or until the preachers become so exausted
with their exhortations and contortions that the meeting is adjourned.
Superstitions of the Negro Race:
In interviewing the different negroes in this community I have not found
a single negro that could admit if I asked the direct question that they
are the least bit superstitious. The following story happened in my
experience with this race about ten years ago.
Fifteen years ago I purchased a farm from the estate of a gentleman that
had committed suicide. It seems as though the gentleman took his gun and
told the family that he was going to the tobacco barn to shoot rats.
This barn was located a short distance from the main dwelling on the
farm and then on the other side of this barn were three negro tenant
My first trouble with negroes superstition was to get a tenant to
inhabit the house nearest the barn. This cabin was in better repair and
larger than the other two cabins and the hardest thing to do was to get
a tenant or negro cropper to take this cabin.
They would give every excuse imaginable but the direct answer until
finally one man I was trying to make a trade with admitted that "De
cabin war ter clos ter de barn Mr. ---- killed himself in." Finally I
prevailed on this man to move in by giving him a different garden spot,
hog-pen and cowpen as these were still nearer the barn. In fact I moved
those buildings thinking I would have an easier time gettin a tenant the
Everything went along beautifully until time came to House the tobacco
and not a negro cropper would use this barn for his tobacco. So I had my
individual crop housed in this barn. As the type of tobacco mostly grown
at that time was bark fired someone had to stay at the barn night and
day to attend the fires and watch that a stick of tobacco did not drop
in the blaze and burn the barn and contents. As long as my husband or
myself stayed in or around the barn we did not have trouble with these
darkies but sometimes it to attend to other matters on this farm and had
to leave a hired negro in charge and as soon as we would get out of
sight of the barn the negro would desert his post. It became evident
that one or the other of us stay at this barn night and day until firing
season was over. The same thing happened when the stripping season
began. These conditions continued until a wind storm blew this barn
down. Still I hoard some of the negroes express their thoughts.
Mr. G---- sho had no tention of dat barn standing. I had the tenants
separate this lumber for different uses on the farm and the scrap lumber
was to be taken to the cabin or the main dwelling to be used as
kindling and not a negroe would use this kindling. One negro a tall
black man around seventy years old said, "No dat wood wont burn". I
asked, "Why"? He said, "Mr. G---- would sho hant me if I teched a single
piece of dat wood ter burn." So naturally the main dwelling had a
bountiful supply of kindling.
This farm was watered by a big spring and branch that ran along behind
the stables and near this particular barn and this branch run into a big
sink hole and then through a small crevice underground. Once cold and
disagreeable winter something blocked this crevice and the waters soon
overflowed the sink hole and extended all over the lowlands near. The
winter was severely cold and this water began to moderate and a light
drizzle of rain was falling and most of the tenants on the farm had
retired for the night when suddenly this ice on the stream broke up and
in some manner the crevice had been opened and the sound from this water
going in its course underground was terrific. My family as well as
myself were very much frightened. No one can imagine the commotion that
existed at the cabins on the tenant row near the stream. Negroes poured
from the cabins in all manners of dress or undress even the cold weather
did not tempt them to take time to don shoes and hose but came to the
back door of my house some crying and moaning and praying, and if there
is such a thing as a pale negro these darkies were certainly pale, eyes
rolling and the majority of them wanting to leave the farm before
daybreak or by that time anyway or else staying in our home all night.
Fires were made in the kitchen and they congregated there and most of
them remained there all night. One old negro said or acted as spokesman
for the crowd. "Dat all this crowd of niggers need dat Mr. G---- was
afer dem and meant foh dem to move or git."
My husband took one or two of the older men with lanterns and made an
investigation. When they reached the branch the overflow was gone and
there was no evidence that there had been any water over these fields
except for the large blocks of ice that was lying in the field.
With much persuading and cajoling the majority of these negroes went to
their cabins that night and the most skeptical stayed in my kitchen all
the rest of the night. But peace and quiet reigned once more and from
that day as long as these tenants remained with me I did not have any
trouble with them being superstitious but each time the tenants were
changed the same superstitions had to be met with and their fears had to
Negro Folk Songs: (Contributed by William Warfield, Col.)
These songs more commonly called plantation melodies, originated with
the negroes of the South during the days of slavery. They habe been
somewhat collected and written about.
These songs have for the Negro the same value that the folk songs of any
people have for that people. In the days of slavery they furnished an
outlet for aching hearts and anguished souls. Today they help to foster
race pride and to remind the race of the "rock from which it was hewn".
Some of these folk songs represented the lighter side of the slave's
life, as for example,
"Heave away! Heave away!
I'd rudder co't a yallar gal
Dan work foh Henry Clay
Heave away, yaller gal, I want to go."
"Ole Massa take dat new brown coat,
And hang it on de wall;
Dat darkey take dat same old coat,
And wear it to de ball,
Oh, don't you hear my tru lub sing?"
It was in their religious song, however that they poured out their
souls. Three things are especially emphasized in these song. First this
life is full of sorrow or trouble:
"Nobody knows da truble I sees,
Nobody but Jesus."
Second, religion is the best thing in the world. It enables you, though
a slave, to have joy of the soul, to endure the trials. Future life is
happy and eternal:
"We'll walk dem golden streets,
We'll walk dem golden streets,
We'll walk dem golden streets,
Wear pleasure nebber dies."
"Oh! I'se a-gwine to lib always,
Oh! I'se a-gwine to lib always,
Oh! I'se a-gwine to lib always,
Wen I git in de kingdom."
Story of Annie Morgan: (age 65, 207 W. 2nd St., Hopkinsville, Ky.) Annie
was born of slave parents. Her mother and father were slaves of the
Ques: Annie can you give me or rather tell me of some of your earlier
life with your parents, or what your mother and father has told you of
things before and after the Civil War.
Ans: Wal, wal, I do declare it has ben so long I'se jes don't remember.
I'se seem to remember de big days we uster hav on Proclamation Day wen
we used ter go to Grandmums who lived in Trigg County. Foh days befur
weuns would git redy ter go in a wagon and as dar was a heap of chilluns
it tuk quite a time an weuns would start by day break and dem wen we got
dar why all de rest of the daughters en sons of dar chilluns was alredy
that, den weun's hev a big time wid watermullins and ebything good to
eat. Some times Uncle Ben brot hid bajo and us chilluns would dance.
Ques: Annie did you ever have a dream to come true? Or do you believe in
Ans: Sho does, sho does, why chile all my dream come true. I recollect
one wen my son was sick, I felt he wont gwine to git well. I asked him,
"Was he right with God", he says, "Dar is nuthin between me and de
Lawd". Den afterwards, I begin to worry gin about dis boy, I prays "De
Lawd" and ax him ter let me drem a drem bout him an nite time I did, I
could see dis boy jist as plaincrossing "Judgment Stream" and I says to
him in my drem, I say, "You come my son, he's crossin Judgment Stream, I
says ter ole man go in and hep him" and my son says to me, "I'm crossing
Judgment Stream, Mammy, and I got to cross it myself". I says "I no you
are cold now". I dreamed I spread a rug round him den he disappeared,
inter de building, by dat time I woke up so happy. Oh, Lawd, ter no my
boy was in Heben. I am sho I would not dremed dat drem unless "De Lawd"
tended me ter no my boy was saved. I sho nos dis boy is in Heben.
"Wen me an my man was married all de colored folks in the neighborhood
come to ma's and weums my husband and me jumped o'er the broom stick an
we was been married, ebery since. In dese days hit were too far ter go
git a preacher an most colored folks married dat way."
Story of Cora Torian: (217 W. 2nd St., Hopkinsville, Ky.--Age 71.)
Bell Childress, Cora's Mother, was a slave of Andrew Owen. He purchased
Belle Childress in the Purchase and brought her to Christian County.
Cora was born in Christian County on Mr. Owen's farm and considered
herself three years old at the end of the Civil War. She told me as
"I has dreamed of fish and dat is a sure sign dat I would git a piece of
money, an I always did. Dreamed of buggy and horse an it was a sign of
death in family and I no's hits tru. Dream of de ded hit always rains.
My Mistus and Marster fed and clothed us good and we lived in a little
log cabin of one room and cooked on an open fire. Some Marsters wud
whoop ther slaves til the blood would run down daw backs dese slaves
would run away sometimes den sum would come to Ise Marse and would have
to send dem back to dar own marsters and how my ole marster hated to see
"I hang horse shoes oer my door to keep the Evil Spirits away. My Mammy
always wore and ole petticoat full gather at de waist band wid long
pockets in dem and den to keep peace in de house she would turn de
pocket wrong side out jes as she would go to somebodys elses house.
"I sho do no dar is ghosts, I seed one oncet hit was a man wid no head
on standin in my house and pullin the crammin out of de house and puttin
hit on de table. Oooh I no's dat is so cause I seed hit wid my own eyes.
"My Mammy had a woman dat lived wid us and she died, and sometimes
afterwards, she called me and I looked in de room and dis woman was
sitting on de side of de bed and wen i spoke to her she slowly ris up
and went thru a crack about two inches wide. now dats a fak!
"Humph, no I'se not gwine ter go near no hainted house, much less stay
in one. I'se scairt.
"Hee, hee, sho you can find things by spitting in yer han and de way the
spit goes if youse will go dar you will be sho to find hit.
"Aint got no time for fortune tellers, don believe in dem, day don't do
"Wen de moon changes if youse see hit thru de bresh you sho will have
bad luck, but if youse sees hit and nuthin to hinder youse from lookin
at hit straight and make a wish it who will come true. I'se no's cause
my son was way down South an I woant to seed him and I looks at de moon
and hit was changing and I wished de would come home and looked up de
road and "Lawd daw he were.
"Youse plants de pertatoes by de moon. Irish pertatoes planted on de
light of de moon will go ter vine and der neber will be a tater on de
vine. If youse plant dem by de dark of de moon yourall's pertatoes will
"If youse maks soap it must be made by de light of de moon or de soap
will all turn to grease.
"If youse sneeze wen you eats you will shorely die.
"If youse see a blue gummed negro be shore one don bite you foh dey are
"If youse have yer year to ring, sho sing of death.
"Move on Friday, "Good Lawd No", youse would sho have bad luck.
"One tru sign of death, if a dog howls at midnight, you will sho to die.
If you dreams of you teeth falling out is a tru sign of death and if
youse dreams of a marriage is nuther tru sign of death.
"If I dream of a naked purson I'se is sho to die. No cat mus come in wen
dar is a ded body for de cat will sho eat de body.
"If a cat crosses youse path to de left some kind of bad luck is sho to
overtake on yer journey.
"If a peckerwood pecks on de roof of youse house you will sho lose some
member of youse family. Dey is pizen.
"No I'se jes ter scairt ter go whar day call up Spirits."
Tale of Mary Wooldridge: (Clarksville Pike--Age about 103.)
"Mary and her twin sister were slaves born in Washington County,
Kentucky, near Lexington, belonging to Bob Eaglin. When Mary was about
fourteen years old she and her sister was brought to the Lexington slave
market and sold and a Mr. Lewis Burns of the same County purchased her.
Mary doesn't know what became of her sister. Five or six years later she
was again put on the block and sold to a Negro Trader but Mary does not
remember this traders name. While here she was kept in a stockade and it
was several years before she again was bought by a white man. Mr. Thomas
McElroy near Lexington bought her and she remained his slave until the
slaves were freed. Mary looks her age. She is a tall gaunt black Negro
with white hair about one inch long and very kinky, and still she
dresses as the older slave woman dressed in the past days. She wears an
old bodice with a very full skirt that comes to her ankles and this
skirt has very long deep pockets and when I asked her why she had such
pockets in her skirt her answer was, "Wal you sees honey I jes am used
ter dis dress and thar is no way foh youse to had me git shud of hit,
dese pockets is powerful venient foh weh I goes inter some ones house
why I turns dose pockets wrong side out and dat always brings me good
Mary contends that she always wears three petticoats.
"Marse Thamos lived in a big log house wid a big plantation all around
hit. He had three hundred slaves on de two plantations. Marse Thamos sho
was good ter us niggers. No nigger mus whoop his stock wid a switch.
"I'se heared him say many time don't youse niggers whoop dese mules. How
would you like to have me whoop you det way?" And he sho would whoop dem
dem niggers if he cotched dem. Lawd have mercy who whould haw thot I'd
be here all dis time. I'd thot I'd be ded and gone. All dese ole niggers
try to be so uppity by jes bein raised in de house and cause dey was why
dey think is Quality. Some of dese nigger gals was raised in de house
but most of dem was made work ebery whar on de plantation. My Massa has
his nigger gals to lay fence worms, mak fences, shuck corn, hoe corn en
terbacco, wash, iron, and de missus try to teach de nigger gals to sew
and knit. But shucks niggers aint got no sense nuf ter do fancy things.
Sometimes I tended de chilluns.
"Yah, yah, I sho do member Abraham Lincoln. My Missus and Massa did not
like Mr. Lincoln, but pshaw, all de niggers did. I member him, I seed
him once, soon after I was freed.
"Pshaw, dey was hard times durin de war, my Missus and sum of de nigger
gals and de chilluns hae to stay in the woods several days ter keep way
from de soldiers. Dey eat all de chickens and kilt the cows and tuk de
horses and we sho scairt out dar wid dem varmints roving roun.
"Nigger aint got no business being sot free, niggers still oughter be
slaves. Us niggers did not hev to bother bout de victuals sor nuthin.
"Wen my Missis called us niggers gether and told us we was free I was as
happy as a skinned frog but you seed I didn't have any sense. All
niggers are fools. Now she says, she did, you can all stay here en work
en we will pay you foh your work, or you can work foh some body else,
but I hev raised you hones, and don't you steal, and work foh nuf money
so you wont hev to steal it if youse gits hongry and haint got no money
to buy vittals jus you ask de white folks foh hit and dey will giv hit
to youse. Oh how I miss my Missis and Massa so much. Wish I hed dem now.
"Shucks on dese niggers and dar ways now. I lef de plantation my old
Missus and Massa home and got on a steam boat on de Ohio Ribber and
nursed de chillun foh de Captain and he's wife on dat boat foh about two
year. An den He, He, He, a nigger don got much sense, Miss Fannie an Mr.
Harry Campbell whot paid me foh my work on de boat gives Five Dollars
foh de work en I'se didn't hev sense nuf ter know what ter do wid dis
money. So I goes ter de store en buys me a cedar tub and filled hit wid
candy. Miss Fannie gave me back de money foh de tub an den I ate nuf
candy ter git sick and den Miss Fannie took de candy back to de store
and she got my money back, she did.
"But shucks, I did not no whot ter do wid de money. Wen I lef Miss
Fannie I rode to Henderson on a log raft en wen I got dar dey was a big
circus and sum one was sayin, "de perade be here directly, He, He, He, I
didn't no whot dey meant, big ignorant fool dat I was and still is, en
wen I seed de elephants and de uther varmints I ran like a big pop-eyed
fool nigger cause I never seed such things. Dat day on de road in town I
met my ole Missus McElroy en she had me ter help her wid de chilluns and
tuk me ter de circus and wen I got in de tent and saw all de cages and
things I was sho scairt of ebery thing till I seed dem babboons dem I
felt all right and at home cause I jes knowed dey was my first cousins.
I stayed in Henderson foh sometime working foh furst one and tother en
den Mr. Henry Shackleford hired me en brung me to Christian County. Not
long fore I was married ter Albert Wooldridge we sho had a big wedding.
Zack Major a nigger preacher of de Baptist faith did de ceremony right
here in Hopkinsville.
"Yes, sho I has ben a mid-wife or granny. All dese high falutin things
dey is doin now in child birth is tommy-rot dey oughter hev jes grannies
now. I livered more babies den most doctors sometimes de white folks had
doctors but I don't take no stock in dese doctors. De furst thing you
does wen a new baby is born is ter let hit lay twenty minutes den cut de
cord and dan grease a scortched rag wid lard jes hog lard en den put de
belly band on den grease de baby all over. Neber wash de baby till tis
over a week ole. Wen de babies had colic I'd take dirt dobber nest and
make a tea, den giv did ter de baby. Sometimes If I couldn't fin no dirt
dobber nes I would git a spider web and make a tea den giv dis or else
jes shake de baby by de heels. If folks would tend ter babies like dey
uster why dese people now wouldn't hev heart trouble.
"Sho I seed a ghost once, I soed Miss Annie Wooldridge after she died up
here on Main St. I was jes settin on de back porch steps jes a lookin
while da white folks was er eatin supper. Miss Annie allways got de eggs
en I seed her dat day. She jes come thru de hen house door en hit was
locked en den thru de pantry door and hit was locked en I jes called her
daughter and I knowed I seed her, sho, I did, it who was Miss Annie.
"Of course dar is hanted houses. De ole Sharp house were dat er way and
all de Sharps were ded but dis house were empty. You neber did see
anything but I sho had heared de doors slam en de silver rattle en at
night in my cabin near to hit I'd sees lights bob up en down. Any body
in dis town can tell you dats so foh dey tore dis house down ter run de
"People don bother bout de moon much now but if dey would lissen ter de
ole niters dey would always hev good crops. Now if you plant pertatoes
by de dark of de moon you will always hev good crops en if you plant dem
on de light of de moon den you hes all vine. Corn planted on de light de
moon den you has a good crop. I'se knows cause I ken member fore de
niggers wore freed you could jes plant by de moon and plant anything in
God's ground en by de moon en de crops would grow. Now dey jes buther up
God's ground en put ole stinky messy fertilizer on hit en de crops jes
burn up. Nobody oughter mess wid God's ground.
"I'se a Publican who ever heared of a Democrat nigger. Nigger neber did
own enything so dey cant be Democrats en if dey vote a Democrat ticket
dey is jes votin a lie. Cause no nigger neber did own slaves only the
old nigger slave traders and dey werent nuthin but varmints anyway. Ye
jes has to hev owned slaves to vote a Democrat ticket en den no nigger
eber did own slaves er hed nothing."
(Mary lives in Clarksville, Pike R.R. #1, Hopkinsville, Kentucky)
(Mary E. O'Malley) [HW: Ky 6]
Coal Mine Slaves: In 1836 large numbers of slaves were brought into
Caldwell and worked by the owners of the ore mines, which necessitated
extra patrols, interfered with local workmen, and so on. The taxpayers
complained to the Legislature and an extra tax was allowed to be levied
for the benefit of the county. In other books we find that the owners of
the slaves who worked in these mines was President Andrew Jackson who
brought his slaves from Nashville to the iron and lead mines in Caldwell
and Crittenden counties; he is said to have made several trips himself
to these mines.
The Missing Man:
"In 1860 Mr. Jess Stevens owned a negro slave, and his wife. Jess
Williams, who lived in the north end of the county, bought the old
slave, but did not buy his wife.
"One day one of Jess William's boys went to Edward Stevens and an
argument followed, causing Mr. Stevens to shoot him in the arm. Later
Jess Williams took the old negro and went to the field where Edward
Stevens and the boy were planting corn. They hid behind a tree and the
negro was given the gun and was told to shoot when Stevens came down the
road by them.
"He came by slowly covering corn but the negro did not shoot. Williams
said, "Why didn't you shoot?" and the negro replied, "Massie, I just
didn't have da heart." Williams said, "If you don't shoot next time, I'm
going to shoot you." When Stevens started by the negro shot and killed
him, tearing his hoe handle into splinters.
One day a salesman, who rode a fine horse and had a beautiful saddle
came to Princeton and later went to the Williams home. Several days
later his people got anxious about him, and after checking up they found
that he was last seen going into the Williams home. Several days later
his people found his hat floating upon a pond near the house, and a few
weeks later one of the Williams boys came to town riding the saddle that
the salesman had ridden a few months before.
The old negro slave went to Mr. Stevens to visit his wife, and while he
and Mr. Stevens were in the field a spy was hidden in the ambush
listening to the conversation about the salesman. When the old slave
returned home he was tied to the tail of a young mule, which was turned
loose in a new ground and was dragged, bruised and almost killed. Edward
Williams, son of Jess Williams, found the old slave and cut him loose.
His father and brother found it out and started out to hunt him,
intending to kill him, but he managed to dodge them.
Mr. Jess Stevens was walking along a path the next morning and heard a
mournful groan, and after looking for awhile found the old slave. The
worms had eaten his face[HW:?] and he was almost dead. The people
brought him to the courthouse and began ringing the bell to let the
people know that some injustice had been done. When one became tired
another took his place. The bell rang both night and day until most of
the citizens of the county came to see what was wrong. A number of men
went in daytime, without mask or disguise, to the Williams home and hung
Jess Williams. They intended to hang the two boys but they got away.
(J.R. Wilkerson) [HW: Ky 7]
[Tinie Force and Elvira Lewis:]