Part 2 out of 3
"Your general food wuz such as sweet potatoes, peas and turnip greens.
Den we would jump out and ketch a coon or possum. We ate rabbits,
squirrels, ground-hog and hog meat. We had fish, cat-fish and scale
fish. Such things as greens, we boil dem. Fish we fry. Possum we parboil
den pick him up and bake him. Of all dat meat I prefar fish and rabbit.
When it come to vegetables, cabbage wuz my delight, and turnips. De
slaves had their own garden patch.
"I wore one piece suit until I wuz near grown, jes one garment dat we
called et dat time, going out in your shirt tail. In de winter we had
cotton shirt with a string to tie de collar, instead of a button and
tie. We war den same on Sunday, excepting dat mudder would wash and iron
dem for dat day.
"We went barefooted in de summer and in de winter we wore brogan shoes.
Dey were made of heavy stiff leather.
"My massa wuz named Sam Jemison and his wife wuz named Chloe. Dey had
chillun. One of the boys wuz named Sam after his father. De udder wuz
Jack. Der wuz daughter Nellie. Dem wuz all I know bout. De had a large
six room building. It wuz weather boarded and built on de common order.
"Dey hed 750 acres on de plantation. De Jemisons sold de plantation to
my uncle after the surrender and I heard him say ever so many times that
it was 750 acres. Der wuz bout 60 slaves on de plantation. Dey work hard
and late at night. Dey tole me dey were up fore daylight and in de
fields til dark.
"I heard my mudder say dat the mistress was a fine woman, but dat de
marse was rigied [TR: rigid?].
"De white folks did not help us to learn to read or write. De furst
school I remember dat wuz accessbile was foh 90 days duration. I could
only go when it wuz too wet to work in de fields. I wuz bout 16 years
when I went to de school.
"Der wuz no church on de plantation. Couldn't none of us read. But after
de surrender I remember de furst preacher I ebber heard. I remember de
text. His name was Charles Fletcher. De text was "Awake thou dat
sleepeth, arise from de dead and Christ will give you life!" I remember
of one of de baptizing. De men dat did it was Emanuel Sanders. Dis wuz
de song dat dey sing: "Beside de gospel pool, Appointed for de poor."
Dat is all I member of dat song now.
"I heard of de slaves running away to de north, but I nebber knew one to
do it. My mudder tole me bout patrollers. Dey would ketch de slaves when
dey were out late and whip and thress dem. Some of de owners would not
stand for it and if de slaves would tell de massa he might whip de
patrollers if he could ketch dem.
"I knowed one colored boy. He wuz a fighter. He wuz six foot tall and
over 200 pounds. He would not stand to be whipped by de white man. Dey
called him Jack. Des wuz after de surrender. De white men could do
nothin' wid him. En so one day dey got a crowd together and dey shoot
him. It wuz a senation[TR: sensation?] in de country, but no one was
arrested for it.
"De slaves work on Saturday afternoon and sometimes on Sunday. On
Saturday night de slaves would slip around to de next plantation and
have parties and dancin' and so on.
"When I wuz a child I played, 'chicken me craner crow' and would build
little sand houses and call dem frog dens and we play hidin' switches.
One of de play songs wuz 'Rockaby Miss Susie girl' and 'Sugar Queen in
goin south, carrying de young ones in her mouth.'
"I remember several riddles. One wuz:
'My father had a little seal,
Sixteen inches high.
He roamed the hills in old Kentuck,
And also in sunny Spain.
If any man can beat dat,
I'll try my hand agin.'
"One little speech I know:
'I tumbled down one day,
When de water was wide and deep
I place my foot on the de goose's back
And lovely swam de creek.'
"When I wuz a little boy I wuz follin' wid my father's scythe. It fell
on my arm and nearly cut if off. Dey got somethin' and bind it up.
Eventually after a while, it mended up.
"De marse give de sick slaves a dose of turpentine, blue mass, caromel
and number six.
"After de surrender my mother tole me dat the marse told de slaves dat
dey could buy de place or dey could share de crops wid him and he would
rent dem de land.
"I married Lizzie Perry, in Perry County Alabama. A preacher married us
by the name of John Jemison. We just played around after de weddin' and
hed a good time til bedtime come, and dat wuz very soon wid me.
"I am de father of seven chillun. Both daughters married and dey are
housekeepers. I have 11 grandchillun. Three of dem are full grown and
married. One of dem has graduated from high school.
"Abraham Lincoln fixed it so de slaves could be free. He struck off de
handcuffs and de ankle cuffs from de slaves. But how could I be free if
I had to go back to my massa and beg for bread, clothes and shelter? It
is up to everybody to work for freedom.
"I don't think dat Jefferson Davus wuz much in favor of liberality. I
think dat Booker T. Washington wuz a man of de furst magnitude. When it
come to de historiance I don't know much about dem, but according to
what I red in dem, Fred Douglas, Christopher Hatton, Peter Salem, all of
dem colored men--dey wuz great men. Christopher Hatton wuz de furst
slave to dream of liberty and den shed his blood for it. De three of dem
play a conspicuous part in de emancipation.
"I think it's a good thing dat slavery is ended, for God hadn't intended
there to be no man a slave.
"My reason for joining de church is, de church is said to be de furst
born, the general assembly of the living God. I joined it to be in the
general assembly of God.
"We have had too much destructive religion. We need pure and undefiled
religion. If we had dat religion, conditions would be de reverse of that
(Note: The worker who interviewed this old man was impressed with his
deep religious nature and the manner in which there would crop out in
his conversation the facile use of such words as eventually, general,
accessible, etc. The interview also revealed that the old man had a
knowledge of the scripture. He claims to be a preacher and during the
conversation gave indications of the oratory that is peculiar to old
style colored preachers.)
Word Picture of PERRY SID JAMISON and his Home
[TR: also reported as Jemison]
Mr. Jamison is about 5'2" and weighs 130 pounds. Except for a slight
limp, caused by a broken bone that did not heal, necessitating the use
of a cane, he gets around in a lively manner. He takes a walk each
morning and has a smile for everybody.
Mr. Jamison is an elder in the Second Baptist Church and possesses a
deep religious nature. In his conversation there crops out the facile
use of such words as "eventually", "general", "accessible", and the
like. He has not been engaged in manual labor since 1907. Since then he
has made his living as an evangelist for the colored Baptist church.
Mr. Jamison says he does not like to travel around without something
more than a verbal word to certify who and what he is. He produced a
certificate from the "Illinois Theological Seminary" awarding him the
degree of Doctor of Divinity and dated December 15, 1933, and signed by
Rev. Walter Pitty for the trustees and S. Billup, D.D., Ph.D. as the
president. Another document was a minister's license issued by the
Probate court of Jefferson county authorizing him to perform marriage
ceremonies. He has his ordination certificate dated November 7, 1900, at
Red Mountain Baptist Church, Sloss, Alabama, which certifies that he was
ordained an elder of that church; it is signed by Dr. G.S. Smith,
Moderator. Then he has two letters of recommendation from churches in
Alabama and Chicago.
That Mr. Jamison is a vigerous preacher is attested by other ministers
who say they never knew a man of his age to preach like he does.
Mr. Jamison lives with his daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth Cookes, whose
husband is a WPA worker. Also living in the house is the daughter's son,
employed as a laborer, and his wife. Between them all, a rent of $28.00
a month is paid for the house of six rooms. The house at 424 S. Seventh
Street, Steubenville, is in a respectable part of the city and is of the
type used by poorer classes of laborers.
Mr. Jamison's wife died June 4, 1928, and since then he has lived with
his daughter. In his conversation he gives indication of a latent
oratory easily called forth.
K. Osthimer, Author
Folklore: Stories From Ex-Slaves
Lucas County, Dist. 9
The Story of MRS. JULIA KING of Toledo, Ohio.
Mrs. Julia King resides at 731 Oakwood Avenue, Toledo, Ohio. Although
the records of the family births were destroyed by a fire years ago,
Mrs. King places her age at about eighty years. Her husband, Albert
King, who died two years ago, was the first Negro policeman employed on
the Toledo police force. Mrs. King, whose hair is whitening with age, is
a kind and motherly woman, small in stature, pleasing and quiet in
conversation. She lives with her adopted daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth King
Kimbrew, who works as an elevator operator at the Lasalle & Koch Co.
Mrs. King walks with a limp and moves about with some difficulty. She
was the first colored juvenile officer in Toledo, and worked for twenty
years under Judges O'Donnell and Austin, the first three years as a
volunteer without pay.
Before her marriage, Mrs. King was Julia Ward. She was born in
Louisville, Kentucky. Her parents Samuel and Matilda Ward, were slaves.
She had one sister, Mary Ward, a year and a half older than herself.
She related her story in her own way. "Mamma was keeping house. Papa
paid the white people who owned them, for her time. He left before Momma
did. He run away to Canada on the Underground Railroad.
"My mother's mistress--I don't remember her name--used to come and take
Mary with her to market every day. The morning my mother ran away, her
mistress decided she wouldn't take Mary with her to market. Mamma was
glad, because she had almost made up her mind to go, even without Mary.
"Mamma went down to the boat. A man on the boat told Mamma not to answer
the door for anybody, until he gave her the signal. The man was a
Quaker, one of those people who says 'Thee' and 'Thou'. Mary kept on
calling out the mistress's name and Mamma couldn't keep her still.
"When the boat docked, the man told Mamma he thought her master was
about. He told Mamma to put a veil over her face, in case the master was
coming. He told Mamma he would cut the master's heart out and give it to
her, before he would ever let her be taken.
"She left the boat before reaching Canada, somewhere on the Underground
Railroad--Detroit, I think--and a woman who took her in said: 'Come in,
my child, you're safe now.' Then Mama met my father in Windsor. I think
they were taken to Canada free.
"I don't remember anything about grandparents at all.
"Father was a cook.
"Mother's mistress was always good and kind to her.
"When I was born, mother's master said he was worth three hundred
dollars more. I don't know if he ever would have sold me.
"I think our home was on the plantation. We lived in a cabin and there
must have been at least six or eight cabins.
"Uncle Simon, who boarded with me in later years, was a kind of
overseer. Whenever he told his master the slaves did something wrong,
the slaves were whipped, and Uncle Simon was whipped, too. I asked him
why he should be whipped, he hadn't done anything wrong. But Uncle Simon
said he guessed he needed it anyway.
"I think there was a jail on the plantation, because Mamma said if the
slaves weren't in at a certain hour at night, the watchman would lock
them up if he found them out after hours without a pass.
"Uncle Simon used to tell me slaves were not allowed to read and write.
If you ever got caught reading or writing, the white folks would punish
you. Uncle Simon said they were beaten with a leather strap cut into
strips at the end.
"I think the colored folks had a church, because Mamma was always a
Baptist. Only colored people went to the church.
"Mamma used to sing a song:
"Don't you remember the promise that you made,
To my old dying mother's request?
That I never should be sold,
Not for silver or for gold.
While the sun rose from the East to the West?
"And it hadn't been a year,
The grass had not grown over her grave.
I was advertised for sale.
And I would have been in jail,
If I had not crossed the deep, dancing waves.
"I'm upon the Northern banks
And beneath the Lion's paw,
And he'll growl if you come near the shore.
"The slaves left the plantation because they were sold and their
children were sold. Sometimes their masters were mean and cranky.
"The slaves used to get together in their cabins and tell one another
the news in the evening. They visited, the same as anybody else.
Evenings, Mamma did the washing and ironing and cooked for my father.
"When the slaves got sick, the other slaves generally looked after them.
They had white doctors, who took care of the families, and they looked
after the slaves, too, but the slaves looked after each other when they
"I remember in the Civil War, how the soldiers went away. I seen them
all go to war. Lots of colored folks went. That was the time we were
living in Detroit. The Negro people were tickled to death because it was
to free the slaves.
"Mamma said the Ku Klux was against the Catholics, but not against the
Negroes. The Nightriders would turn out at night. They were also called
the Know-Nothings, that's what they always said. They were the same as
the Nightriders. One night, the Nightriders in Louisville surrounded a
block of buildings occupied by Catholic people. They permitted the women
and children to exscape, but killed all the men. When they found out the
men were putting on women's clothes, they killed everything, women and
children, too. It was terrible. That must have been about eighty years
ago, when I was a very little girl.
"There was no school for Negro children during slavery, but they have
schools in Louisville, now, and they're doing fine.
"I had two little girls. One died when she was three years old, the
other when she was thirteen. I had two children I adopted. One died just
before she was to graduate from Scott High School.
"I think Lincoln was a grand man! He was the first president I heard of.
Jeff Davis, I think he was tough. He was against the colored people. He
was no friend of the colored people. Abe Lincoln was a real friend.
"I knew Booker T. Washington and his wife. I belonged to a society that
his wife belonged to. I think it was called the National Federation of
Colored Women's Clubs. I heard him speak here in Toledo. I think it was
in the Methodist church. He wanted the colored people to educate
themselves. Lots of them wanted to be teachers and doctors, but he
wanted them to have farms. He wanted them to get an education and make
something of themselves. All the prominent Negro women belonged to the
Club. We met once a year. I went to quite a few cities where the
meetings were held: Detroit, Cleveland, and Philadelphia.
"The only thing I had against Frederick Douglass was that he married a
white woman. I never heard Douglass speak.
"I knew some others too. I think Paul Lawrence Dunbar was a fine young
man. I heard him recite his poems. He visited with us right here several
"I knew Charles Cottrell, too. He was an engraver. There was a young
fellow who went to Scott High. He was quite an artist; I can't remember
his name. He was the one who did the fine picture of my daughter that
hangs in the parlor.
"I think slavery is a terrible system. I think slavery is the cause of
mixing. If people want to choose somebody, it should be their own color.
Many masters had children from their Negro slaves, but the slaves
weren't able to help themselves.
"I'm a member of the Third Baptist Church. None join unless they've been
immersed. That's what I believe in. I don't believe in christening or
pouring. When the bishop was here from Cleveland, I said I wanted to be
immersed. He said, 'We'll take you under the water as far as you care to
go.' I think the other churches are good, too. But I was born and raised
a Baptist. Joining a church or not joining a church won't keep you out
of heaven, but I think you should join a church."
(Interview, Thursday, June 10, 1937.)
Story and Photo by Frank M. Smith
Mahoning County, Dist. #5
The Story of MRS. ANGELINE LESTER, of Youngstown, Ohio.
[Illustration: Angeline Lester]
Mrs. Angeline Lester lives at 836 West Federal Street, on U.S. Route
#422, in a very dilapidated one story structure, which once was a retail
store room with an addition built on the rear at a different floor
Angeline lives alone and keeps her several cats and chickens in the
house with her. She was born on the plantation of Mr. Womble, near
Lumpkin, Stewart County, Georgia about 1847, the exact date not known to
her, where she lived until she was about four years old. Then her father
was sold to a Dr. Sales, near Brooksville, Georgia, and her mother and a
sister two years younger were sold to John Grimrs[HW:?], who in turn
gave them to his newly married daughter, the bride of Henry Fagen, and
was taken to their plantation, near Benevolence, Randolph County,
When the Civil War broke out, Angeline, her mother and sister were
turned over to Robert Smith, who substituted for Henry Fagen, in the
Angeline remembers the soldiers coming to the plantation, but any news
about the war was kept from them. After the war a celebration was held
in Benevolence, Georgia, and Angeline says it was here she first tasted
a roasted piece of meat.
The following Sunday, the negroes were called to their master's house
where they were told they were free, and those who wished, could go, and
the others could stay and he would pay them a fair wage, but if they
left they could take only the clothing on their back. Angeline said "We
couldn't tote away much clothes, because we were only given one pair of
shoes and two dresses a year."
Not long after the surrender Angeline said, "My father came and gathered
us up and took us away and we worked for different white folks for
money". As time went on, Angeline's father and mother passed away, and
she married John Lester whom she has outlived.
Angeline enjoys good health considering her age and she devotes her time
working "For De Laud". She says she has "Worked for De Laud in New
Castle, Pennsylvania, and I's worked for De Laud in Akron". She also
says "De Laud does not want me to smoke, or drink even tea or coffee, I
must keep my strength to work for De Laud".
After having her picture taken she wanted to know what was to be done
with it and when told it was to be sent to Columbus or maybe to
Washington, D.C. she said "Lawsy me, if you had tol' me befo' I'd fixed
up a bit."
Betty Lugabill, Reporter [TR: also reported as Lugabell]
Harold Pugh, Editor
R.S. Drum, Supervisor
Jun 9, 1937
Paulding Co., District 10
Ex-Slave, 83 years
Ah was born in Bourbon county, sometime in 1853, in the state of
Kaintucky where they raise fine horses and beautiful women. Me 'n my
Mammy, Liza 'n Joe, all belonged to Marse Jacob Sandusky the richest man
in de county. Pappy, he belonged to de Henry Young's who owned de
plantation next to us.
Marse Jacob was good to his slaves, but his son, Clay was mean. Ah
remembah once when he took mah Mammy out and whipped her cauz she forgot
to put cake in his basket, when he went huntin'. But dat was de las'
time, cauz de master heard of it and cussed him lak God has come down
Besides doin' all de cookin' 'n she was de best in de county, mah Mammy
had to help do de chores and milk fifteen cows. De shacks of all de
slaves was set at de edge of a wood, an' Lawse, honey, us chillun used
to had to go out 'n gatha' all de twigs 'n brush 'n sweep it jes' lak a
Den de Massa used to go to de court house in Paris 'n buy sheep an'
hogs. Den we use to help drive dem home. In de evenin' our Mammy took de
old cloes of Mistress Mary 'n made cloes fo' us to wear. Pappy, he come
ovah to see us every Sunday, through de summer, but in de winter, we
would only see him maybe once a month.
De great day on de plantation, was Christmas when we all got a little
present from de Master. De men slaves would cut a whole pile of wood fo'
de fiah place 'n pile it on de porch. As long as de whole pile of wood
lasted we didn't hab to work but when it was gone, our Christmas was
ovah. Sometimes on Sunday afternoons, we would go to de Master's honey
room 'n he would gib us sticks of candied honey, an' Lawd chile was dem
good. I et so much once, ah got sick 'nough to die.
Our Master was what white folks call a "miser". I remembah one time, he
hid $3,000, between de floor an' de ceilin', but when he went fur it, de
rats had done chewed it all up into bits. He used to go to de stock
auction, every Monday, 'n he didn't weah no stockings. He had a high
silk hat, but it was tore so bad, dat he held de top n' bottom to-gether
wid a silk neckerchief. One time when ah went wid him to drive de sheep
home, ah heard some of de men wid kid gloves, call him a "hill-billy" 'n
make fun of his clothes. But he said, "Don't look at de clothes, but
look at de man".
One time, dey sent me down de road to fetch somethin' 'n I heerd a bunch
of horses comin', ah jumped ovah de fence 'n hid behind de elderberry
bushes, until dey passed, den ah ran home 'n tol' 'em what ah done seen.
Pretty soon dey come to de house, 125 Union soldiers an' asked fo'
something to eat. We all jumped roun' and fixed dem a dinnah, when dey
finished, dey looked for Master, but he was hid. Dey was gentlemen 'n
didn't botha or take nothin'. When de war was ovah de Master gave Mammy
a house an' 160 acre farm, but when he died, his son Clay tole us to get
out of de place or he'd burn de house an' us up in it, so we lef an'
moved to Paris. After I was married 'n had two children, me an my man
moved north an' I've been heah evah since.
WPA in Ohio
Federal Writers' Project
Bishop & Isleman
July 7, 1937
Jefferson County, District #5
THOMAS McMILLAN, Ex-Slave
(Does not know age)
I was borned in Monroe County, Alabam. I do not know de date. My
father's name was Dave McMillan and my mothers name was Minda. Dey cum
from Old Virginny and he was sold from der. We lived in a log house. De
beds hed ropes instead of slats and de chillun slept on de floor.
Dey put us out in de garden to pick out weeds from de potatoes. We did
not get any money. We eat bread, syrup and potatoes. It wuz cooked in
pots and some was made in fire, like ash cakes. We hed possum lots of
times and rabbit and squirrel. When dey go fishin' we hed fish to eat. I
liked most anything they gave us to eat.
In de summer we wore white shirt and pants and de same in de winter. We
wore brogans in de winter too.
De Massa name wuz John and his wife died before I know her. He hed a boy
named John. He lived in a big house. He done de overseeing himself.
He hed lots of acres in his plantation and he hed a big gang of slaves.
He hed a man to go and call de slaves up at 4 o'clock every morning. He
was good to his slaves and did not work them so late at night. I heard
some of de slaves on other plantations being punished, but our boss take
good care of us.
Our Massa learn some of us to read and write, but some of de udder
massas did not.
We hed church under a arbor. De preacher read de bible and he told us
what to do to be saved. I 'member he lined us up on Jordan's bank and we
sung behind him.
De partrollers watch de slaves who were out at night. If dey have a pass
dey were alright. If not dey would get into it. De patrollers whip dem
and carry dem home.
On Saturday afternoon dey wash de clothes and stay around. On Sunday dey
go to church. On Christmas day we did not work and dey make a nice meal
for us. We sometimes shuck corn at night. We pick cotton plenty.
When we were chillun me other brudders and five sisters played marbles
I saw de blue jackets, dat's what we called de Yankee soldiers. When we
heard of our freedom we hated it because we did not know what it was for
and did not know where to go. De massa say we could stay as long as we
De Yankee soldier asked my father what dey wuz all doing around der and
that dey were free. But we did not know where to go. We stayed on wid de
massa for a long time after de war wuz over.
De Klu Klux Klan wuz pretty rough to us and dey whip us. Der was no
school for us colored people.
I wuz nearly 20 when I first took up with my first woman and lived with
her 20 years den I marry my present wife. I married her in Alabama and
Elder Worthy wuz de preacher. We had seven chillun, all grandchillun are
dead. I don't know where dey all are at excepting me daughter in
Steubenville and she is a widow. She been keepin' rooms and wash a
little for her living.
I didn't hear much bout de politics but I think Abraham Lincoln done
pretty well. I reckon Jefferson Davis did the best he knowed how. Booker
T. Washington, I nebber seen him, but he wuz a great man.
Religion is all right; can't find no fault with religion. I think all of
us ought to be religious because the dear Lord died for us all. Dis
world would be a better place if we all were religious.
Word Picture of MR. MCMILLAN
Thomas McMillan, 909 Morris Ave., Steubenville, Ohio. He lives with his
wife, Toby who is over 50 years old. He makes his living using a hand
cart to collect junk. He is 5'6" tall and weighs 155 pounds. His beard
is gray and hair white and close cropped. He attends Mt. Zion Baptist
Church and lives his religion. He is able to read a little and takes
pleasure in reading the bible and newspaper.
He has seven children. He has not heard of them for several years except
one daughter who lives in Steubenville and is a widow.
His home is a three room shack and his landlord lets him stay there rent
free. The houses in the general surrounding are in a run down condition.
Wilbur Ammon, Editor
George Conn, Writer
C.R. McLean, District Supervisor
June 16, 1937
Summit County, District #9
Mrs. Mann places her birth sometime in 1861 during the first year of the
Civil War, on a plantation owned by Dick Belcher, about thirty miles
southwest of Richmond, Virginia.
Her father, Frederick Green, was owned by Belcher and her mother, Mandy
Booker, by Race Booker on an adjoining plantation. Her grandparents were
slaves of Race Booker.
After the slaves were freed she went with her parents to Clover Hill, a
small hamlet, where she worked out as a servant until she married
Beverly Mann. Rev. Mike Vason, a white minister, performed the ceremony
with, only her parents and a few friends present. At the close of the
ceremony, the preacher asked if they would "live together as Isaac and
Rebecca did." Upon receiving a satisfactory reply, he pronounced them
man and wife.
Mr. and Mrs. Mann were of a party of more than 100 ex-slaves who left
Richmond in 1880 for Silver Creek where Mr. Mann worked in the coal
mines. Two years later they moved to Wadsworth where their first child
In 1883 they came to Akron. Mr. Mann, working as laborer, was able to
purchase two houses on Furnace Street, the oldest and now one of the
poorer negro sections of the city. It is situated on a high bluff
overlooking the Little Cuyahoga River.
Today Mrs. Mann, her daughter, a son-in-law and one grandchild occupy
one of the houses. Three children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Mann, but
only one is living. Mr. Mann, a deacon in the church, died three years
ago. Time has laid its heavy hand on her property. It is the average
home of colored people living in this section, two stories, small front
yeard, enclosed with wooden picket fence. A large coal stove in front
room furnishes heat. In recent years electricity has supplanted the
overhead oil lamp.
Most of the furnishings were purchased in early married life. They are
somewhat worn but arranged in orderly manner and are clean.
Mrs. Mann is tall and angular. Her hair is streaked with gray, her face
thin, with eyes and cheek bones dominating. With little or no southern
accent, she speaks freely of her family, but refrains from discussing
affairs of others of her race.
She is a firm believer in the Bible. It is apparent she strives to lead
a religious life according to her understanding. She is a member of the
Second Baptist Church since its organization in 1892.
Having passed her three score and ten years she is "ready to go when the
Lord calls her."
WPA in Ohio
Federal Writers' Project
Bishop & Isleman
July 8, 1937
Jefferson County, District #5
JOHN WILLIAMS MATHEUS
Ex-Slave, 77 years
"My mothers name was Martha. She died when I was eleven months old. My
mother was owned by Racer Blue and his wife Scotty. When I was bout
eleven or twelve they put me out with Michael Blue and his wife Mary.
Michael Blue was a brother to Racer Blue. Racer Blue died when I was
three or four. I have a faint rememberance of him dying suddenly one
night and see him laying out. He was the first dead person I saw and it
seemed funny to me to see him laying there so stiff and still."
"I remember the Yankee Soldier, a string of them on horses, coming
through Springfield, W. Va. It was like a circus parade. What made me
remember that, was a colored man standing near me who had a new hat on
his head. A soldier came by and saw the hat and he took it off the
colored man's head, and put his old dirty one on the colored man's head
and put the nice new one on his own head."
"I think Abraham Lincoln the greatest man that ever lived. He belonged
to no church; but he sure was Christian. I think he was born for the
time and if he lived longer he would have done lots of good for the
"I wore jeans and they got so stiff when they were wet that they would
stand up. I wore boots in the winter, but none in the summer."
"When slavery was going on there was the 'underground railway' in Ohio.
But after the surrender some of the people in Ohio were not so good to
the colored people. The old folks told me they were stoned when they
came across the river to Ohio after the surrender and that the colored
people were treated like cats and dogs."
"Mary Blue had two daughters, both a little older than me and I played
with them. One day they went to pick berries. When they came back they
left the berries on the table in the kitchen and went to the front room
to talk to their mother. I remember the two steps down to the room and I
came to listen to them tell about berry pickin'. Then their mother told
me to go sweep the kitchen. I went and took the broom and saw the
berries. I helped myself to the berries. Mary wore soft shoes, so I did
not hear her coming until she was nearly in the room. I had berries in
my hand and I closed my hand around the handle of the broom with the
berries in my hand. She says, 'John, what are you doin'? I say,
'nothin'. Den she say, 'Let me see your hand! I showed her my hand with
nothin' in it. She say, 'let me see the other hand! I had to show her my
hand with the berries all crushed an the juice on my hand and on the
handle of the broom."
"Den she say; 'You done two sins'. 'You stole the berries!, I don't mind
you having the berries, but you should have asked for them. 'You stole
them and you have sinned. 'Den you told a lie! She says, 'John I must
punish you, I want you to be a good man; don't try to be a great man, be
a good man then you will be a great man! She got a switch off a peach
tree and she gave me a good switching. I never forgot being caught with
the berries and the way she talked bout my two sins. That hurt me worse
than the switching. I never stole after that."
"I stayed with Michael and Mary Blue till I was nineteen. They were
supposed to give me a saddle and bridle, clothes and a hundred dollars.
The massa made me mad one day. I was rendering hog fat. When the
crackling would fizzle, he hollo and say 'don't put so much fire.' He
came out again and said, 'I told you not to put too much fire,' and he
threatened to give me a thrashing. I said, 'If you do I will throw rocks
"After that I decided to leave and I told Anna Blue I was going. She
say, 'Don't do it, you are too young to go out into the world.' I say, I
don't care, and I took a couple of sacks and put in a few things and
walked to my uncle. He was a farmer at New Creek. He told me he would
get me a job at his brothers farm until they were ready to use me in the
tannary. He gave me eight dollars a month until the tanner got ready to
use me. I went to the tanner and worked for eight dollars a week. Then I
came to Steubenville. I got work and stayed in Steubenville 18 months.
Then I went back and returned to Steubenville in 1884."
Word Picture of JOHN WILLIAM MATHEUS
Mr. John William Matheus is about 5'4" and weighs about 130 pounds. He
looks smart in his bank messenger uniform. On his sleeve he wears nine
stripes. Each stripe means five years service. Two years were served
before he earned his first strip, so that gives him a total of 47 years
service for the Union Savings Bank and Trust Company, Steubenville,
Ohio. He also wears a badge which designates him as a deputy sheriff of
Mr. Matheus lives with his wife at 203 Dock Street. This moderate sized
and comfortable home he has owned for over 40 years. His first wife died
several years ago. During his first marriage nine children came to them.
In his second marriage one child was born.
His oldest son is John Frederick Matheus. He is a professor at
[Charleston] [HW: West Virginia] State College Institute. He was born in
Steubenville and graduated from Steubenville High School. Later he
studied in Cleveland and New York. He speaks six languages fluently and
is the author of many published short stories.
Two other sons are employed in the post office, one is a mail carrier
and the other is a janitor. His only daughter is a domestic servant.
Mr. Matheus attended school in Springfield, W. Va., for four years. When
he came to Steubenville he attended night school for two winters. Mr.
Dorhman J. Sinclair who founded the Union Savings Bank and Trust Co.,
employed Mr. Matheus from the beginning and in recognition of his loyal
service bequeated to Mr. Matheus a pension of fifty dollars per month.
Mr. Matheus is a member of the office board of the Quinn Memorial A.M.E.
He has been an elder of that church for many years and also trustee and
treasure. He frequently serves on the jury. He is well known and highly
respected in the community.
Sarah Probst, Reporter
Audrey Meighen, Author-Editor
Meigs County, District Three
MR. WILLIAM NELSON
"Whar's I bawned? 'Way down Belmont Missouri, jes' cross frum C'lumbus
Kentucky on de Mississippi. Oh, I 'lows 'twuz about 1848, caise I wuz
fo'teen when Marse Ben done brung me up to de North home with him in
"My Pappy, he wuz 'Kaintuck', John Nelson an' my mammy wuz Junis Nelson.
No suh, I don't know whar dey wuz bawned, first I member 'bout wuz my
pappy buildin' railroad in Belmont. Yes suh, I had five sistahs and
bruthahs. Der names--lets see--Oh yes--der wuz, John, Jim, George, Suzan
and Ida. No, I don't member nothin' 'bout my gran'parents."
"My mammy had her own cabin for hur and us chilluns. De wuz rails stuck
through de cracks in de logs fo' beds with straw on top fo' to sleep
"What'd I do, down dar on plantashun? I hoed corn, tatahs, garden
onions, and hepped take cair de hosses, mules an oxen. Say--I could hoe
onions goin' backwards. Yessuh, I cud."
"De first money I see wuz what I got frum sum soljers fo' sellin' dem a
bucket of turtl' eggs. Dat wuz de day I run away to see sum Yankee
steamboats filled with soljers."
"Marse Dick, Marse Beckwith's son used to go fishin' with me. Wunce we
ketched a fish so big it tuk three men to tote it home. Yes suh, we
always had plenty to eat. What'd I like best? Corn pone, ham, bacon,
chickens, ducks and possum. My mammy had hur own garden. In de summah
men folks weah overalls, and de womins weah cotton and all of us went
barefooted. In de winter we wore shoes made on de plantashun. I wuzn't
married 'til aftah I come up North to Ohio."
"Der wuz Marse Beckwith, mighty mean ol' devel; Miss Lucy, his wife, and
de chilluns, Miss Manda, Miss Nan, and Marse Dick, and the other son wuz
killed in der war at Belmont. Deir hous' wuz big and had two stories and
porticoes and den Marse Beckwith owned land with cabins on 'em whar de
"No suh, we didn't hab no driver, ol' Marse dun his own drivin'. He was
a mean ol' debel and whipped his slaves of'n and hard. He'd make 'em
strip to the waist then he's lash 'em with his long blacksnake whip. Ol'
Marse he'd whip womin same as men. I member seein' 'im whip my mammy
wunce. Marse Beckwith used the big smoke hous' for de jail. I neber see
no slaves sold but I have seen 'em loaned and traded off."
"I member one time a slave named Tom and his wife, my mammy an' me tried
to run away, but we's ketched and brung back. Ol' Marse whipped Tom and
my mammy and den sent Tom off on a boat."
"One day a white man tol' us der wuz a war and sum day we'd be free."
"I neber heard of no 'ligion, baptizing', nor God, nor Heaven, de Bible
nor education down on de plantashun, I gues' dey didn't hab nun of 'em.
When Marse Ben brung me North to Ohio with him wuz first time I knowed
'bout such things. Marse Ben and Miss Lucy mighty good to me, sent me to
school and tole me 'bout God and Heaven and took me to Church. No, de
white folks down dar neber hepped me to read or write."
"The slaves wus always tiahed when dey got wurk dim in evenins' so dey
usually went to bed early so dey'd be up fo' clock next mornin'. On
Christmas Day dey always had big dinna but no tree or gifts."
"How'd I cum North? Well, one day I run 'way from plantashun and hunted
'til I filled a bucket full turtl' eggs den I takes dem ovah on river
what I hears der's sum Yankee soljers and de soljers buyed my eggs and
hepped me on board de boat. Den Marse Ben, he wuz Yankee ofser, tol 'em
he take cair me and he did. Den Marse Ben got sick and cum home and
brung me along and I staid with 'em 'til I wuz 'bout fo'ty, when I gets
married and moved to Wyllis Hill. My wife, was Mary Williams, but she
died long time 'go and so did our little son, since dat time I've lived
"Yessuh, I'se read 'bout Booker Washington."
"I think Abraham Lincoln wuz a mighty fine man, he is de 'Saint of de
"Good day suh."
WPA in Ohio
Federal Writers' Project
Bishop & Isleman
Jun 9, 1937
Jefferson County, District #2
MRS. CATHERINE SLIM
Ex-slave, 87 years,
939 N. 6th St., Steubenville
I wuz born in Rockingham, Virginny; a beautiful place where I cum from.
My age is en de courthouse, Harrisonburg, Virginny. I dunno de date of
my birth, our massa's wouldn't tell us our age.
My mother's name wuz Sally. She wuz a colored woman and she died when I
wuz a little infant. I don't remember her. She had four chillun by my
father who wuz a white man. His name wuz Jack Rose. He made caskets for
de dead people.
My mother had six chillun altogether. De name of de four by my father
wuz, Frances de oldest sister, Sarah wuz next, den Mary. I am de baby,
all three are dead cept me. I am very last one livin'.
I had two half-brudders, dey were slaves too, John and Berwin. Berwin
wuz drowned in W. Va. He wuz bound out to Hamsburger and drowned just
after he got free. Dey did not sold infant slaves. Den dey bound out by
de court. John got free and went to Liberia and died after he got there.
He wuz my oldest brudder.
I wuz bound out by de court to Marse Barley and Miss Sally. I had to git
up fore daylight and look at de clock wid de candle. I held up de candle
to de clock, but couldn't tell de time. Den dey ask me if de little hand
wuz on three mark or four mark. Dey wouldn't tell me de time but bye and
bye I learned de time myself.
I asked de mistress to learn me a book and she sez, "Don't yo know we
not allowed to learn you niggers nothin', don't ask me dat no more. I'll
kill you if you do." I wuzn't goin' to ask her dat anymore.
When I wuz ten years old I wuz doin' women's work. I learned to do a
little bit of eberthin'. I worked on de farm and I worked in de house. I
learned to do a little bit of eberthin'. On de farm I did eberthin' cept
I lived in a nice brick house. En de front wuz de valley pike. It wuz
four and three-quarter miles to Harrisonburg and three and three-quarter
miles to Mt. Crawford. It wuz a lobley place and a fine farm.
I used to sleep in a waggoner's bed. It wuz like a big bed-comfort,
stuffed with wool. I laid it on de floor and sleep on it wid a blanket
ober me, when I get up I roll up de bed and push it under de mistress's
I earned money, but nebber got it. Dey wuz so mean I run away. I think
dey wuz so mean dat dey make me run away and den dey wouldn't heb to pay
de money. If I could roll up my sleeve I could show you a mark that cum
from a beatin' I had wid a cow-hide whip. Dey whip me for nothin'.
After I run away I had around until the surrender cum. Eberybody cum to
life then. It wuz a hot time in de ole place when dey sezs freedom. The
colored ones jumped straight up and down.
De feed us plenty. We had pork, corn, rabbit, dey hed eberythin' nice.
Dey made us stan' up to eat. Dey no low us sit down to eat. Der wuz bout
twenty or thirty slaves on de farm an some ob dem hed der own gardens.
Anythin' dey gib us to eat I liked. Dey had bees and honey.
I wore little calico dress in de summer, white, red, and blue. Some hed
flowers and some hed strips. We went barefooted until Christmas. Den dey
gabe us shoes. De shoes were regular ole common shoes; not eben
calfskin. Dey weaved linen and made us our clothes. Dey hab sleeves,
plain body and little skirt. I hed two of dem for winter.
I hab seen lots of slaves chained together, goin' south, some wuz
singin' and some wuz cryin'. Some hed dey chillun and some didn't.
Dey took me to church wid dem and dey put me behind de door. Dey tole me
to set der till dey cum out. And when I see dem cumin' out to follow
behind and get into de carrage. I dursent say nothin'. I wuz like a
INTERVIEW OF EX-SLAVE FROM VIRGINIA
Reported by Rev. Edward Knox
Jun. 9, 1937
Guernsey County, District #2
Ex-slave, over 80 years of age
I was born in Pocahontas County, Virginia in the drab and awful
surroundings of slavery. The whipping post and cruelty in general made
an indelible impression in my mind. I can see my older brothers in their
tow-shirts that fell knee-length which was sometimes their only garment,
toiling laborously under a cruel lash as the burning sun beamed down
upon their backs.
Pappy McNeal (we called the master Pappy) was cruel and mean. Nothing
was too hard, too sharp, or too heavy to throw at an unfortunate slave.
I was very much afraid of him; I think as much for my brothers' sakes as
for my own. Sometimes in his fits of anger, I was afraid he might kill
someone. However, one happy spot in my heart was for his son-in-law who
told us: "Do not call Mr. McNeal the master, no one is your master but
God, call Mr. McNeal, mister." I have always had a tender spot in my
heart for him.
There are all types of farm work to do and also some repair work about
the barns and carriages. It was one of these carriages my brother was
repairing when the Yankees came, but I am getting ahead of my story.
I was a favorite of my master. I had a much better sleeping quarters
than my brothers. Their cots were made of straw or corn husks. Money was
very rare but we were all well-fed and kept. We wore tow-shirts which
were knee-length, and no shoes. Of course, some of the master's
favorites had some kind of footwear.
There were many slaves on our plantation. I never saw any of them
auctioned off or put in chains. Our master's way of punishment was the
use of the whipping post. When we received cuts from the whip he put
soft soap and salt into our wounds to prevent scars. He did not teach us
any reading or writing; we had no special way of learning; we picked up
what little we knew.
When we were ill on our plantation, Dr. Wallace, a relative of Master
McNeal, took care of us. We were always taught to fear the Yankees. One
day I was playing in the yard of our master, with the master's little
boy. Some Yankee Soldiers came up and we hid, of course, because we had
been taught to fear the soldiers. One Yankee soldier discovered me,
however, and took me on his knee and told me that they were our friends
end not our enemies; they were here to help us. After that I loved them
instead of fearing them. When we received our freedom, our master was
very sorry, because we had always done all their work, and hard labor.
Geo. H. Conn, Writer
Wilbur C. Ammon, Editor
C.R. McLean, District Supervisor
June 11, 1937
Summit County, District #5
In a little old rocking chair, sits an old colored "mammy" known to her
friends as "Grandma" Smith, spending the remaining days with her
grandchildren. Small of stature, tipping the scales at about 100 lbs.
but alert to the wishes and cares of her children, this old lady keeps
posted on current events from those around her. With no stoop or bent
back and with a firm step she helps with the housework and preparing of
meals, waiting, when permitted, on others. In odd moments, she like to
work at her favorite task of "hooking" rag rugs. Never having worn
glasses, her eyesight is the envy of the younger generation. She spends
most of the time at home, preferring her rocker and pipe (she has been
smoking for more than eighty year) to a back seat in an automobile.
When referring to Civil War days, her eyes flash and words flow from her
with a fluency equal to that of any youngster. Much of her speech is
hard to understand as she reverts to the early idiom and pronunciation
of her race. Her head, tongue, arms and hands all move at the same time
as she talks.
A note of hesitancy about speaking of her past shows at times when she
realizes she is talking to one not of her own race, but after eight
years in the north, where she has been treated courteously by her white
neighbors, that old feeling of inferiority under which she lived during
slave days and later on a plantation in Kentucky has about disappeared.
Her home is comfortably furnished two story house with a front porch
where, in the comfort of an old rocking chair, she smokes her pipe and
dreams as the days slip away. Her children and their children are
devoted to her. With but a few wants or requests her days a re quiet and
Kentucky with its past history still retains its hold. She refers to it
as "God's Chosen Land" and would prefer to end her days where about
eighty years of her life was spent.
On her 101st birthday (1935) she posed for a picture, seated in her
favorite chair with her closest friend, her pipe.
Abraham Lincoln is as big a man with her today as when he freed her
With the memories of the Civil War still fresh in her mind and and
secret longing to return to her Old Kentucky Home, Mrs. Anna Smith, born
in May of 1833 and better known to her friends as "Grandma" Smith, is
spending her remaining days with her grandchildren, in a pleasant home
at 518 Bishop Street.
On a plantation owned by Judge Toll, on the banks of the Ohio River at
Henderson, Ke., Anna (Toll) Smith was born. From her own story, and
information gathered from other sources the year 1835 is as near a
correct date as possible to obtain.
Anna Smith's parents were William Clarke and Miranda Toll. Her father
was a slave belonging to Judge Toll. It was common practice for slaves
to assume the last name of their owners.
It was before war was declared between the north and south that she was
married, for she claims her daughter was "going on three" when President
Lincoln freed the slaves. Mrs. Smith remembers her father who died at
the age of 117 years.
Her oldest brother was 50 when he joined the confederate army. Three
other brothers were sent to the front. One was an ambulance attendant,
one belonged to the cavalry, one an orderly seargeant and the other
joined the infantry. All were killed in action. Anna Smith's husband
later joined the war and was reported killed.
When she became old enough for service she was taken into the "Big
House" of her master, where she served as kitchen helper, cook and later
as nurse, taking care of her mistress' second child.
She learned her A.B.C.'s by listening to the tutor teaching the children
of Judge Toll.
"Grandma" Smith's vision is the wonder of her friends. She has never
worn glasses and can distinguish objects and people at a distance as
readily as at close range. She occupies her time by hooking rag rugs and
doing housework and cooking. She is "on the go" most of the time, but
when need for rest overtakes her, she resorts to her easy chair, a
pipeful of tobacco and a short nap and she is ready to carry on.
Many instances during those terrible war days are fresh in her mind: men
and boys, in pairs and groups passing the "big house" on their way to
the recruiting station on the public square, later going back in squads
and companies to fight; Yankee soldiers raiding the plantation, taking
corn and hay or whatever could be used by the northern army; and
continual apprehension for the menfolk at the front.
She remembers the baying of blood hounds at night along the Ohio River,
trying to follow the scent of escaping negroes and the crack of firearms
as white people, employed by the plantation owners attempted to halt the
negroes in their efforts to cross the Ohio River into Ohio or to join
the Federal army.
Referring to her early life, she recalls no special outstanding events.
Her treatment from her master and mistress was pleasant, always
receiving plenty of food and clothing but never any money.
In a grove not far from the plantation home, the slaves from the nearby
estates meet on Sunday for worship. Here under the spreading branches
they gathered for religious worship and to exchange news.
When President Lincoln issued his proclamation freeing the slaves, and
the news reached the plantation, she went to her master to learn if she
was free. On learning it was true she returned to her parents who were
living on another plantation.
She has been living with her grandchildren for the past nine years,
contented but ready to go when the "Good Lord calls her."
Sarah Probst, Reporter
Audrey Meighen, Author-Editor
Jun 9, 1937
Meigs County, District Three
"I'se bawned Charl'stun, West Virginia in February 1850."
"My mammy's name? Hur name wuz Kath'run Paine an' she wuz bawned down
Jackson County, Virginia. My pappy wuz John James, a coopah an' he wuz
bawned at Rock Creek, West Virginia. He cum'd ovah heah with Lightburn's
Retreat. Dey all crossed de ribah at Buffington Island. Yes, I had two
bruthahs and three sistahs. Deir wuz Jim, Thomas, he refugeed from
Charl'stun to Pum'roy and it tuk him fo' months, den de wuz sistah Adah,
Carrie an' Ella. When I rite young I wurked as hous' maid fo' numbah
quality white folks an' latah on I wuz nurs' fo' de chilluns in sum
homes, heah abouts."
"Oh, de slaves quartahs, dey wuz undah de sam' ruf with Marse Hunt's big
hous' but in de back. When I'se littl' I sleeped in a trun'l bed. My
mammy wuz mighty 'ticlar an' clean, why she made us chilluns wash ouah
feets ebry night fo' we git into de bed."
"When Marse Hunt muved up to Charl'stun, my mammy and pappy liv' in log
"My gran' mammy, duz I 'member hur? Honey chile, I shure duz. She wuz my
pappy's mammy. She wuz one hun'erd and fo' yeahs ol' when she die rite
in hur cheer. Dat mawhin' she eat a big hearty brekfast. One day I
'member she sezs to Marse Hunt, 'I hopes you buys hun'erds an' hun'erds
ob slaves an' neber sells a one. Hur name wuz Erslie Kizar Chartarn."
"Marse an' missus, mighty kind to us slaves. I lurned to sew, piece
quilts, clean de brass an' irons an' dog irons. Most time I set with de
ol' ladies, an' light deir pipes, an' tote 'em watah, in gourds. I us'
tu gether de turkey eggs an' guinea eggs an' sell 'em. I gits ten cents
duzen fo' de eggs. Marse and Missus wuz English an' de count money like
dis--fo' pence, ha' penny. Whut I do with my money? Chile I saved it to
buy myself a nankeen dress."
"Yes mam we always had plenty to eat. What'd I like bes' to eat,
waffl's, honey and stuffed sausage, but I spise possum and coon. Marse
Hunt had great big meat hous' chuck full all kinds of meats. Say, do you
all know Marse used to keep stuffed sausage in his smoke hous' fo' yeahs
an' it wuz shure powahful good when it wuz cooked. Ouah kitchin wuz big
an' had great big fiah place whur we'd bake ouah bread in de ashes. We
baked ouah corn pone an' biskets in a big spidah. I still have dat
spidah an' uses it."
"By the way you knows Squire Gellison wuz sum fishahman an' shure to
goodness ketched lots ob fish. Why he'd ketch so many, he'd clean 'em,
cut 'em up, put 'em in half barrels an' pass 'em 'round to de people on
"Most de slaves on Marse Hunt's place had dir own garden patches.
Sumtimes dey'd have to hoe the gardens by moonlight. Dey sell deir
vegetables to Marse Hunt."
"In de summah de women weah dresses and apruns made ob linen an' men
weah pants and shurts ob linen. Linsey-woolsey and jean wuz woven on de
place fo' wintah clothes. We had better clothes to weah on Sunday and we
weahed shoes on Sunday. The' shoes and hoots wuz made on de plantashun."
"My mastah wuz Marse Harley Hunt an' his wife wuz Miss Maria Sanders
Hunt. Marse and Miss Hunt didn't hab no chilluns of der own but a nephew
Marse Oscar Martin and niece Miss Mary Hunt frum Missouri lived with
'em. Dey's all kind to us slaves. De Hous' wuz great big white frame
with picket fence all 'round de lot. When we lived Charl'stun Marse Hunt
wuz a magistrate. Miss Hunt's muthah and two aunts lived with 'em."
"No mam, we didn't hab no ovahseeah. Marse Hunt had no use fo'
ovahseeahs, fact is he 'spise 'em. De oldah men guided de young ones in
deir labors. The poor white neighbahs wurn't 'lowed to live very close
to de plantashun as Marse Hunt wanted de culured slave chilluns to be
raised in propah mannah."
"I duzn't know how many acres in de plantashun. Deir wuz only 'bout
three or fo' cabins on de place. Wurk started 'bout seben clock 'cept
harvest time when ebrybudy wuz up early. De slaves didn't wurk so hard
nor bery late at night. Slaves wuz punished by sendin' 'em off to bed
"When I'se livin' at Red House I seed slaves auctioned off. Ol' Marse
Veneable sold ten or lebin slaves, women and chilluns, to niggah tradahs
way down farthah south. I well 'members day Aunt Millie an' Uncl' Edmund
wuz sold--dir son Harrison wuz bought by Marse Hunt. 'Twuz shure sad an'
folks cried when Aunt Millie and Uncl' Edmund wuz tuk away. Harrison
neber see his mammy an' pappy agin. Slaves wuz hired out by de yeah fo'
nine hundred dollahs."
"Marse Hunt had schools fo' de slaves chilluns. I went to school on
Lincoln Hill, too."
"Culured preachahs use to cum to plantashun an' dey would read de Bible
to us. I 'member one special passage preachahs read an' I neber
understood it 'til I cross de riber at Buffinton Island. It wuz, 'But
they shall sit every man under his own vine and under his fig tree; and
none shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of Hosts hath
spoken it." Micah 4:4. Den I knows it is de fulfillment ob dat promis;
'I would soon be undah my own vine an' fig tree' and hab no feah of
bein' sold down de riber to a mean Marse. I recalls der wuz Thorton
Powell, Ben Sales and Charley Releford among de preachahs. De church wuz
quite aways frum de hous'. When der'd be baptizins de sistahs and
brethruns would sing 'Freely, freely will you go with me, down to the
riber'. 'Freely, freely quench your thirst Zion's sons and daughtahs'."
"How wells I 'member when I wuz converted. I'd thought 'bout 'ligion a
lot but neber wunce wuz I muved to repent. One day I went out to cut sum
wood an' begin thinkin' agin and all wunce I feeled so relieved an' good
an' run home to tell granny an' de uthahs dat I'd cum out at last."
"No, we didn't wurk on Saturday aftahnoons. Christmas wuz big time at
Marse Hunts hous'. Preparations wuz made fo' it two weeks fo' day cum.
Der wuz corn sings an' big dances, 'ceptin' at 'ligious homes. Der wuz
no weddins' at Marse Hunts, cause dey had no chilluns an' de niece and
nephew went back to own homes to git married."
"We played sich games as marbles; yarn ball; hop, skip, an' jump; mumble
peg an' pee wee. Wunce I's asked to speak down to white chilluns school
an' dis is what I speak:
'The cherries are ripe,
The cherries are ripe,
Oh give the baby one,
The baby is too little to chew,
The robin I see up in the tree,
Eating his fill and shaking his bill,
And down his throat they run.'
'Tobacco is an Indian weed,
And from the devil doth proceed
It robs the pocket and burns the clothes
And makes a chimney of the nose.'
"When de slaves gits sick, deir mammies luked af'er em but de Marse
gived de rem'dies. Yes, dere wuz dif'runt kinds, salts, pills, Castah
orl, herb teas, garlic, 'fedia, sulphah, whiskey, dog wood bark,
sahsaparilla an' apple root. Sometimes charms wuz used.
"I 'member very well de day de Yankees cum. De slaves all cum a runnin'
an' yellin': "Yankees is cumin', Yankee soljers is comin', hurrah". Bout
two or three clock, we herd bugles blowing' an' guns on Taylah Ridge.
Kids wuz playin' an' all 'cited. Sumone sed: "Kathrun, sumthin' awful
gwine happen", an' sumone else sez; "De' is de Yankees". De Yankee mens
camp on ouah farm an' buyed ouah buttah, milk an' eggs. Marse Hunt, whut
you all call 'bilionist [HW: abolitionist] an' he wuz skeered of suthern
soljers an' went out to de woods an' laid behind a log fo' seben weeks
and seben days, den he 'cided to go back home. He sez he had a dream an'
prayed, "I had bettah agone, but I prayed. No use let des debils take
you, let God take you." We tote food an' papahs to Marse while he wuz a
"One ob my prized possessions is Abraham Lincoln's pictures an' I'se
gwine to gib it to a culured young man whose done bin so kind to me,
when I'se gone. Dat's Bookah T. Washington's picture ovah thar."
"I'se married heah in Middeport by Preachah Bill, 1873. My husban' wuz
Charles Stewart, son of Johnny Stewart. Deir wuz hous' full my own
folks, mammy, pappy, sistahs, bruthas, an' sum white folks who cumed in
to hep dress me up fo' de weddin'. We kep de weddin' a secrut an' my
aunt butted hur horns right off tryin' to fin' out when it wuz. My
husban' had to leave right away to go to his job on de boat. We had
great big dinnah, two big cakes an' ice cream fo' desurt. We had fo'teen
chilluns with only two livin'. I has five gran' sons an' two great gran'
"Goodbye--cum back agin."
Miriam Logan, Lebanon, Ohio
Warren County, Dist. 2
July 2, 1937
Interview with SAMUEL SUTTON, Ex Slave.
Born in Garrett County, Kentucky, in 1854
(drawing of Sutton) [TR: no drawing found]
"Yes'em, I sho were bo'n into slavery. Mah mothah were a cook--(they was
none betteah)--an she were sold four times to my knownin'. She were part
white, for her fathah were a white man. She live to be seventy-nine
yeahs an nine months old."
"Ah was bo'n in Garrett County, but were raised by ol' Marster Ballinger
in Knox County, an' ah don remember nothin 'bout Garrett County." When
Lincoln was elected last time, I were about eight yeahs ol'."
"Ol' Marster own 'bout 400-acres, n' ah don' know how many slaves--maybe
30. He'd get hard up fo money n' sell one or two; then he'd get a lotta
work on hands, an maybe buy one or two cheap,--go 'long lak dat you
see." He were a good man, Ol' Mars Ballinger were--a preacher, an he wuk
hisse'f too. Ol' Mis' she pretty cross sometime, but ol' Mars, he
weren't no mean man, an ah don' 'member he evah whip us. Yes'em dat ol'
hous is still standin' on the Lexington-Lancaster Pike, and las time I
know, Baby Marster he were still livin."
"Ol' Mars. tuk us boys out to learn to wuk when we was both right little
me and Baby Mars. Ah wuz to he'p him, an do what he tol' me to--an first
thing ah members is a learnin to hoe de clods. Corn an wheat Ol' Mars.
raised, an he sets us boys out fo to learn to wuk. Soon as he lef' us
Baby Mars, he'd want to eat; send me ovah to de grocery fo sardines an'
oysters. Nevah see no body lak oyster lak he do! Ah do n' lak dem. Ol
Mars. scold him--say he not only lazy hese'f, but he make me lazy too."
"De Wah? Yes'em ah sees soldiers, Union Calvary [HW: Cavalry] goin' by,
dressed fine, wid gold braid on blue, an big boots. But de Rebels now, I
recollect dey had no uniforms fo dey wuz hard up, an dey cum in jes
common clothes. Ol' Mars., he were a Rebel, an he always he'p 'em.
Yes'em a pitched battle start right on our place. Didn't las' long, fo
dey wuz a runnin fight on to Perryville, whaah de one big battle to take
place in de State o' Kentucky, tuk place."
"Most likely story I remembers to tell you 'bout were somepin made me
mad an I allus remember fo' dat. Ah had de bigges' fines' watermellon an
ah wuz told to set up on de fence wid de watermellon an show 'em, and
sell 'em fo twenty cents. Along cum a line o' soldiers."
"Heigh there boy!... How much for the mellon?" holler one at me.
"Twenty cents sir!" Ah say jes lak ah ben tol' to say; and he take dat
mellon right out o' mah arms an' ride off widout payin' me. Ah run after
dem, a tryin' to get mah money, but ah couldn't keep up wid dem soldiers
on hosses; an all de soldiers jes' laf at me."
"Yes'em dat wuz de fines' big mellon ah evah see. Dat wuz right mean in
him--fine lookin gemman he were, at the head o' de line."
"Ol' Marster Ballinger, he were a Rebel, an he harbors Rebels. Dey wuz
two men a hangin' around dere name o' Buell and Bragg."
"Buell were a nawtherner; Bragg, he were a Reb."
"Buell give Bragg a chance to get away, when he should have found out
what de Rebs were doin' an a tuk him prisoner ah heard tell about dat."
"Dey wuz a lotta spyin', ridin' around dere fo' one thing and another,
but ah don' know what it were all about. I does know ah feels sorry fo
dem Rebel soldiers ah seen dat wuz ragged an tired, an all woe out, an
Mars. He fell pretty bad about everything sometimes, but ah reckon dey
wuz mean Rebs an southerners at had it all cumin' to em; ah allus heard
tell dey had it comin' to em."
"Some ways I recollect times wuz lots harder after de War, some ways dey
was better. But now a culled man ain't so much better off 'bout votin'
an such some places yet, ah hears dat."
"Yes'em, they come an want hosses once in awhile, an they was a rarin'
tarin' time atryin to catch them hosses fo they would run into the woods
befo' you could get ahold of 'em. Morgan's men come fo hosses once, an
ol Mars, get him's hosses, fo he were a Reb. Yes'em, but ah thinks them
hosses got away from the Rebels; seem lak ah heard they did."
"Hosses? Ah wishes ah had me a team right now, and ah'd make me my own
good livin! No'em, don't want no mule. They is set on havin they own
way, an the contrariest critters! But a mule is a wuk animal, an eats
little. Lotsa wuk in a mule. Mah boy, he say, 'quit wukin, an give us
younguns a chance,' Sho nuf, they ain't the wuk they use to be, an the
younguns needs it. Ah got me a pension, an a fine garden; ain't it fine
"Yes'em, lak ah tells you, the wah were ovah, and the culled folks had a
Big Time wid speakin'n everything ovah at Dick Robinsen's camp on de
4th. Nevah see such rejoicin on de Fourth 'o July since,-no'em, ah
"Ah seen two presidents, Grant an Hayes. I voted fo Hayes wen I wuz
twenty-two yeahs old. General Grant, he were runnin against Greeley when
ah heard him speak at Louieville. He tol what all Lincoln had done fo de
culled man. Yes'em, fine lookin man he were, an he wore a fine suit.
Yes'em ah ain't miss an election since ah were twenty-two an vote fo
Hayes. Ah ain't gonto miss none, an ah vote lak the white man read outa
de Emanicaption Proclamation, ah votes fo one ob Abe Lincoln's men ev'y
time--ah sho do."
"_Run a way slaves?_ No'em nevah know ed of any. Mars. Ballinger
neighbor, old Mars. Tye--he harbor culled folks dat cum ask fo sumpin to
eat in winter--n' he get 'em to stay awhile and do a little wuk fo him.
Now, he did always have one or two 'roun dere dat way,--dat ah
recollects--dat he didn't own. Maybe dey was runaway, maybe dey wuz just
tramps an didn't belong to noboddy. Nevah hear o' anybody claimin'
dem--dey stay awhile an wuk, den move on--den mo' cum, wuk while then
move on. Mars. Tye--he get his wuk done dat way, cheap.
"No'em, don't believe in anything lak dat much. We use to sprinkle salt
in a thin line 'roun Mars. Ballinger's house, clear 'roun, to ward off
quarellin an arguein' an ol' Miss Ballinger gettin a cross spell,--dat
ah members, an then too;--ah don believe in payin out money on a Monday.
You is liable to be a spendin an a losin' all week if you do. Den ah
don' want see de new moon (nor ol' moon either) through, de branches o'
trees. Ah know' a man dat see de moon tru de tree branches, an he were
lookin' tru de bars 'a jail fo de month were out--an fo sumpin he nevah
done either,--jus enuf bad luck--seein a moon through bush."
"Ah been married twice, an had three chillens. Mah oles' are Madge
Hannah, an she sixty yeah ol' an still a teachin' at the Indian School
where she been fo twenty-two yeahs now. She were trained at Berea in
High School then Knoxville; then she get mo' learnin in Nashville in
"Mah wife died way back yonder in 1884. Then when ah gets married again,
mah wife am 32 when ah am 63. No'am, no mo' chillens. Ah lives heah an
farms, an takes care ob mah sick girl, an mah boy, he live across the
"No'em, no church, no meetin hous fo us culled people in Kentucky befo'
de wah. Dey wuz prayin folks, and gets to meetin' at each othah's houses
when dey is sumpin a pushin' fo prayer. No'em no school dem days, fo
us." "Ol Mars., he were a preacher, he knowed de Bible, an tells out
verses fo us--dats all ah members. Yes'em Ah am Baptist now, and ah sho
do believe in a havin church."
"Ah has wuked on steam boats, an done railroad labor, an done a lotta
farmin, an ah likes to farm best. Like to live in Ohio best. Ah can
_vote_. If ah gits into trouble, de law give us a chance fo our
property, same as if we were white. An we can vote lak white, widout no
shootin, no fightin' about it--dats what ah likes. Nevah know white men
to be so mean about anythin as dey is about votin some places--No'em, ah
don't! Ah come heah in 1912. Ah was goin on to see mah daughter Madge
Hannah in Oklahoma, den dis girl come to me paralized, an ah got me work
heah in Lebanon, tendin cows an such at de creamery, an heah ah is evah
since. Yes'em an ah don' wanto go no wheres else."
"No'em, no huntin' no mo. Useto hunt rabbit until las yeah. They ain't
wuth the price ob a license no mo." No'em, ah ain't evah fished in
"No'em, nevah wuz no singer, no time. Not on steamboats, nor nowheres.
Don't member any songs, except maybe the holler we useto set up when dey
wuz late wid de dinner when we wuked on de steamboat;--Dey sing-song lak
'Ol hen, she flew
Ovah de ga-rden gate,
Fo' she wuz dat hungrey
She jes' couldn't wait.'
--but den dat ain't no real song."
"Kentucky river is place to fish--big cat fish. Cat fish an greens is
good eatin. Ah seen a cat fish cum outa de Kentucky river 'lon as a man
is tall; an them ol' fins slap mah laig when ah carries him ovah mah
shoulder, an he tail draggin' on mah feet.--Sho nuf!"
"No'em, ah jes cain't tell you all no cryin sad story 'bout beatin' an a
slave drivin, an ah don' know no ghost stories, ner nuthin'--ah is jes
dumb dat way--ah's sorry 'bout it, but ah Jes--is."
Samuel Sutton lives in north lane Lebanon, just back of the French
Creamery. He has one acre of land, a little unpainted, poorly furnished
and poorly kept. His daughter is a huge fleshy colored woman wears a
turban on her head. She has a fixed smile; says not a word. Samuel talks
easily; answers questions directly; is quick in his movements. He is
stooped and may 5'7" or 8" if standing straight. He wears an old
fashioned "Walrus" mustache, and has a grey wooley fringe of hair about
his smooth chocolate colored bald head. He is very dark in color, but
his son is darker yet. His hearing is good. His sight very poor. Being
so young when the Civil War was over, he remembers little or nothing
about what the colored people thought or expected from freedom. He just
remembers what a big time there was on that first "Free Fourth of July."
Ruth Thompson, Interviewing
Hamilton Co., District 12
515 Poplar St.,
[Illustration: Richard Toler]
"Ah never fit in de wah; no suh, ah couldn't. Mah belly's been broke!
But ah sho' did want to, and ah went up to be examined, but they didn't
receive me on account of mah broken stomach. But ah sho' tried, 'cause
ah wanted to be free. Ah didn't like to be no slave. Dat wasn't good
Richard Toler, 515 Poplar Street, century old former slave lifted a bony
knee with one gnarled hand and crossed his legs, then smoothed his thick
white beard. His rocking chair creaked, the flies droned, and through
the open, unscreened door came the bawling of a calf from the building
of a hide company across the street. A maltese kitten sauntered into the
front room, which served as parlor and bedroom, and climbed complacently
into his lap. In one corner a wooden bed was piled high with feather
ticks, and bedecked with a crazy quilt and an number of small,
brightly-colored pillows; a bureau opposite was laden to the edges with
a collection of odds and ends--a one-legged alarm clock, a coal oil
lamp, faded aritifical flowers in a gaudy vase, a pile of newspapers. A
trunk against the wall was littered with several large books (one of
which was the family Bible), a stack of dusty lamp shades, a dingy
sweater, and several bushel-basket lids. Several packing cases and
crates, a lard can full of cracked ice, a small, round oil heating
stove, and an assorted lot of chairs completed the furnishings. The one
decorative spot in the room was on the wall over the bed, where hung a
large framed picture of Christ in The Temple. The two rooms beyond
exhibited various broken-down additions to the heterogeneous collection.
"Ah never had no good times till ah was free", the old man continued.
"Ah was bo'n on Mastah Tolah's (Henry Toler) plantation down in ole
V'ginia, near Lynchburg in Campbell County. Mah pappy was a slave befo'
me, and mah mammy, too. His name was Gawge Washin'ton Tolah, and her'n
was Lucy Tolah. We took ouah name from ouah ownah, and we lived in a
cabin way back of the big house, me and mah pappy and mammy and two
"They nevah mistreated me, neithah. They's a whipping the slaves all the
time, but ah run away all the time. And ah jus' tell them--if they
whipped me, ah'd kill 'em, and ah nevah did get a whippin'. If ah
thought one was comin' to me, Ah'd hide in the woods; then they'd send
aftah me, and they say, 'Come, on back--we won't whip you'. But they
killed some of the niggahs, whipped 'em to death. Ah guess they killed
three or fo' on Tolah's place while ah was there.
"Ah nevah went to school. Learned to read and write mah name after ah
was free in night school, but they nevah allowed us to have a book in
ouah hand, and we couldn't have no money neither. If we had money we had
to tu'n it ovah to ouah ownah. Chu'ch was not allowed in ouah pa't
neithah. Ah go to the Meth'dist Chu'ch now, everybody ought to go. I
think RELIGION MUST BE FINE, 'CAUSE GOD ALMIGHTY'S AT THE HEAD OF IT."
Toler took a small piece of ice from the lard can, popped it between his
toothless gum, smacking enjoyment, swished at the swarming flies with a
soiled rag handkerchief, and continued.
"Ah nevah could unnerstand about ghos'es. Nevah did see one. Lots of
folks tell about seein' ghos'es, but ah nevah feared 'em. Ah was nevah
raised up undah such supastitious believin's.
"We was nevah allowed no pa'ties, and when they had goin' ons at the big
house, we had to clear out. Ah had to wo'k hard all the time every day
in the week. Had to min' the cows and calves, and when ah got older ah
had to hoe in the field. Mastah Tolah had about 500 acres, so they tell
me, and he had a lot of cows and ho'ses and oxens, and he was a big
fa'mer. Ah've done about evahthing in mah life, blacksmith and stone
mason, ca'penter, evahthing but brick-layin'. Ah was a blacksmith heah
fo' 36 yea's. Learned it down at Tolah's.
"Ah stayed on the plantation during the wah, and jes' did what they tol'
me. Ah was 21 then. And ah walked 50 mile to vote for Gen'l Grant at
Vaughn's precinct. Ah voted fo' him in two sessions, he run twice. And
ah was 21 the fust time, cause they come and got me, and say, 'Come on
now. You can vote now, you is 21.' And theah now--mah age is right
theah. 'Bout as close as you can get it.
"Ah was close to the battle front, and I seen all dem famous men. Seen
Gen'l Lee, and Grant, and Abe Lincoln. Seen John Brown, and seen the
seven men that was hung with him, but we wasn't allowed to talk to any
of 'em, jes' looked on in the crowd. Jes' spoke, and say 'How d' do.'
[HW: Harper's Ferry is not [TR: rest illegible]]
"But ah did talk to Lincoln, and ah tol' him ah wanted to be free, and
he was a fine man, 'cause he made us all free. And ah got a ole histry,
it's the Sanford American History, and was published in _17_84[HW:18?].
But ah don't know where it is now, ah misplaced it. It is printed in the
book, something ah said, not written by hand. And it says, 'Ah am a ole
slave which has suvved fo' 21 yeahs, and ah would be quite pleased if
you could help us to be free. We thank you very much. Ah trust that some
day ah can do you the same privilege that you are doing for me. Ah have
been a slave for many years.' (Note discrepancy).
"Aftah the wah, ah came to Cincinnati, and ah was married three times.
Mah fust wife was Nannie. Then there was Mollie. They both died, and
than ah was married Cora heah, and ah had six child'en, one girl and fo'
boys. (Note discrepancy) They's two living yet; James is 70 and he is
not married. And Bob's about thutty or fo'ty. Ah done lost al mah
rememb'ance, too ole now. But Mollie died when he was bo'n, and he is
crazy. He is out of Longview (Home for Mentally Infirm) now fo' a while,
and he jes' wanders around, and wo'ks a little. He's not [TR: "not" is
crossed out] ha'mless, he wouldn't hurt nobody. He ain't married
"After the wah, ah bought a fiddle, and ah was a good fiddlah. Used to
be a fiddlah fo' the white girls to dance. Jes' picked it up, it was a
natural gif'. Ah could still play if ah had a fiddle. Ah used to play at
our hoe downs, too. Played all those ole time songs--_Soldier's Joy_,
_Jimmy Long Josey_, _Arkansas Traveler_, and _Black Eye Susie_. Ah
remembah the wo'ds to that one."
Smiling inwardly with pleasure as he again lived the past, the old Negro
swayed and recited:
Black Eye Susie, you look so fine,
Black Eye Susie, ah think youah mine.
A wondahful time we're having now,
Oh, Black Eye Susie, ah believe that youah mine.
And away down we stomp aroun' the bush,
We'd think that we'd get back to wheah we could push
Black Eye Susie, ah think youah fine,
Black Eye Susie, Ah know youah mine.
Then, he resumed his conversational tone:
"Befo' the wah we nevah had no good times. They took good care of us,
though. As pa'taculah with slaves as with the stock--that was their
money, you know. And if we claimed a bein' sick, they'd give us a dose
of castah oil and tu'pentine. That was the principal medicine cullud
folks had to take, and sometimes salts. But nevah no whiskey--that was
not allowed. And if we was real sick, they had the Doctah fo' us.
"We had very bad eatin'. Bread, meat, water. And they fed it to us in a
trough, jes' like the hogs. And ah went in may shirt tail till I was 16,
nevah had no clothes. And the flo' in ouah cabin was dirt, and at night
we'd jes' take a blanket and lay down on the flo'. The dog was supe'ior
to us; they would take him in the house.
"Some of the people I belonged to was in the Klu Klux Klan. Tolah had
fo' girls and fo' boys. Some of those boys belonged. And I used to see
them turn out. They went aroun' whippin' niggahs. They'd get young girls
and strip 'em sta'k naked, and put 'em across barrels, and whip 'em till
the blood run out of 'em, and then they would put salt in the raw pahts.
And ah seen it, and it was as bloody aroun' em as if they'd stuck hogs.
"I sho' is glad I ain't no slave no moah. Ah thank God that ah lived to
pas the yeahs until the day of 1937. Ah'm happy and satisfied now, and
ah hopes ah see a million yeahs to come."
Forest H. Lees
C.R. McLean, Supervisor
June 10, 1937
Medina County, District #5
JULIA WILLIAMS, ex-slave
Julia Williams, born in Winepark, Chesterfield County near Richmond,
Virginia. Her age is estimated close to 100 years. A little more or a
little less, it is not known for sure.
Her memory is becoming faded. She could remember her mothers name was
Katharine but her father died when she was very small and she remembers
not his name.
Julia had three sisters, Charlotte, Rose and Emoline Mack. The last
names of the first two, Charlotte and Rose she could not recall.
As her memory is becoming faded, her thoughts wander from one thing to
another and her speech is not very plain, the following is what I heard
and understood during the interview.
"All de slaves work with neighbors; or like neighbors now-adays. I no
work in de fiel, I slave in de house, maid to de mistress."
"After Yankees come, one sister came to Ohio with me."
"The slaves get a whippin if they run away."
"After Yankees come, my ole mother come home and all chillun together. I
live with gramma and go home after work each day. Hired out doin maid
work. All dis after Yankees come dat I live with gramma."
"Someone yell, 'Yankees are comin',' and de mistress tell me, she say
'You mus learn to be good and hones'.' I tole her, 'I am now'."
"No I nevah get no money foh work."
"I allways had good meals and was well taken care of. De Mrs. she nevah
let me be sold."
"Sho we had a cook in de kichen and she was a slave too."
"Plantashun slaves had gahdens but not de house slaves. I allus had da
bes clothes and bes meals, anyting I want to eat. De Mrs. like me and
she like me and she say effen you want sompin ask foh it, anytime you
want sompin or haff to have, get it. I didn suffer for enythin befoh dim
"After de Yankees come even de house people, de white people didn get
shoes. But I hab some, I save. I have some othah shoes I didn dare go in
de house with. Da had wood soles. Oh Lawde how da hurt mah feet. One day
I come down stair too fas and slip an fall. Right den I tile de Mrs. I
couldn wear dem big heavy shoes and besides da makes mah feet so sore."
"Bof de Mrs. and de Master sickly. An their chillun died. Da live in a
big manshun house. Sho we had an overseer on de plantashun. De poor
white people da live purty good, all dat I seed. It was a big
plantashun. I can't remember how big but I know dat it was sho big. Da
had lots an lots of slaves but I doan no zackly how many. Da scattered
around de plantashun in diffren settlements. De horn blew every mohnin
to wake up de fiel hans. Da gone to fiel long time foh I get up. De fiel
hans work from dawn till dark, but evabody had good eats on holidays. No
work jus eat and have good time."
"Da whipp dem slaves what run away."
"One day after de war was over and I come to Ohio, a man stop at mah
house. I seem him and I know him too but I preten like I didn, so I say,
'I doan want ter buy nothin today' and he says 'Doan you know me?' Den I
laugh an say sho I remember the day you wuz goin to whip me, you run
affer me and I run to de Mrs. and she wouldn let you whip me. Now you
bettah be careful or I get you."
"Sho I saw slaves sole. Da come from all ovah to buy an sell de slaves,
chillun to ole men and women."
"De slaves walk and travel with carts and mules."
"De slaves on aukshun block dey went to highes bidder. One colored
woman, all de men want her. She sold to de master who was de highes
bidder, and den I saw her comin down de road singin 'I done got a home
at las!'. She was half crazy. De maste he sole her and den Mrs. buy her
back. They lef her work around de house. I used to make her work and
make her shine things. She say I make her shine too much, but she haff
crazy, an run away."
"No dey didn help colored folks read and write. Effn dey saw you wif a
book dey knock it down on de floor. Dey wouldn let dem learn."
"De aukshun allus held at Richmond. Plantashun owners come from all
states to buy slaves and sell them."
"We had church an had to be dere every single Sunday. We read de Bible.
De preacher did the readin. I can't read or write. We sho had good
prayer meetins. Show nuf it was a Baptis church. I like any spiritual,
all of dem."
"Dey batize all de young men and women, colored folks. Dey sing mos any
spirtual, none in paticlar. A bell toll foh a funeral. At de baptizen do
de pracher leads dem into de rivah, way in, den each one he stick dem
clear under. I waz gonna be batize and couldn. Eva time sompin happin an
I couldn. My ole mothah tole me I gotta be but I never did be baptize
when Ise young in de south. De othah people befoh me all batized."
"A lot of de slaves come north. Dey run away cause dey didn want to be
slaves, like I didn like what you do and I get mad, den you get mad an I
"De pattyroller was a man who watched foh de slaves what try to run
away. I see dem sneakin in an out dem bushes. When dey fine im de give
im a good whippin."
"I nevah seed mush trouble between de whites and blacks when I live
dare. Effen dey didn want you to get married, they wouldn let you. Dey
had to ask de mastah and if he say no he mean it."
"When de Yankees were a comin through dem fiels, dey sho was awful. Dey
take everythin and destroy what ever they could not take. De othah house
slave bury the valables in de groun so de soldiers couldn fine em."
"One of the house slaves was allus havin her man comin to see her, so
one day affer he lef, when I was makin fun and laughin at her de
mistress she say, 'Why you picken on her?' I say, dat man comin here all
the time hangin round, why doan he marry her."
"I was nevah lowed to go out an soshiate with de othah slaves much. I
was in de house all time."
"I went to prayer meetins every Sunday monin and evenin."
"Sometimes dey could have a good time in de evenin and sometimes day
"Chrismas was a big time for everyone. In the manshun we allus had roast
pig and a big feed. I could have anythin I want. New Years was the big
aukshun day. All day hollerin on de block. Dey come from all ovah to
Richmond to buy and sell de slaves."
"Butchern day sho was a big time. A big long table with de pigs laid out
ready to be cut up."
"Lots of big parties an dances in de manshun. I nevah have time foh
play. Mrs, she keep me busy and I work when I jus little girl and all
"Effen any slaves were sick dey come to de house for splies and medsin.
De Mrs. and Master had de doctor if things were very bad."
"I'll nevah forget de soldiers comin. An old woman tole me de war done
broke up, and I was settin on de porch. De Mrs. she say, 'Julia you ant
stayin eneymore'. She tole me if I keep my money and save it she would
give me some. An she done gave me a gold breast pin too. She was rich
and had lots of money. After the war I wen home to my mother. She was
half sick and she work too hard. On de way I met one slave woman who
didn know she was even free."
"The Yankees were bad!"
"I didn get married right away. I worked out foh diffren famlies."
"After de war dare was good schools in de south. De free slaves had land
effen dey knowed what to do with. I got married in the south to Richar
Williams but I didn have no big weddin. I had an old preacher what
knowed all bout de Bible, who married me. He was a good preacher. I was
de mothah of eight chillun."
"Lincoln? Well I tell you I doan know. I didn have no thought about him
but I seed him. I work in de house all de time and didn hear much about
"I doan believe in ghosts or hants. As foh dancin I enjoy it when I was
"I cant read and I thought to myself I thought there was a change comin.
I sense that. I think de Lawd he does everythin right. De Lawd open my
way. I think all people should be religious and know about de Lawd and
Her husband came to Wadsworth with the first group that came from
Doylestown. The men came first then they sent for their families. Her
husband came first them sent for her and the children. They settled in
Wadsworth and built small shacks then later as times got better they
This year is the 57th Anniversary of the Wadsworth Colored Baptist
Church of which Julia Williams was a charter member. She is very close
to 100 years old if not that now and lives at 160 Kyle Street,
Ohio Guide, Special
August 17, 1937
"After de War deh had to pick their own livin' an seek homes.
"Shuah, deh expected de 40 acres of lan' an mules, but deh had to work
"Shuah, deh got paht of de lan but de shuah had to work foh it.
"After de war deh had no place to stay an den deh went to so many
diffrunt places. Some of dem today don't have settled places to live.
"Those owners who were good gave their slaves lan but de othahs jus
turned de slaves loose to wander roun'. Othahs try to fine out where
dere people were and went to them.
"One day I seed a man who was a doctor down dere, an' I says, 'You
doktah now?' An says 'No, I doan doktah no mow.' I work foh him once
when I was slave, few days durin de war. I say, 'Member that day you
gonna lick me but you didn', you know I big woman an fight back. Now de
war ovah and you can't do dat now'.
"Slaves didn get money unless deh work for it. Maybe a slave he would
work long time before he get eny pay."
"Lak you hire me an you say you goin to pay me an then you don't. Lots
of them hired slaves aftah de war and worked dem a long time sayin deh
gwine pay and then when he ask for money, deh drive him away instead of
"Yes, some of de slaves were force to stay on de plantation. I see how
some had to live." "They had homes for awhile but when deh wasen't able
to pay dere rent cause deh weren't paid, deh were thrown out of dere
houses." Some of dem didn't know when deh were free till long time after
"When I were free, one mornin I seed the mistress and she ask me would I
stay with her a couple years. I say, 'No I gonna find mah people an go
"Anyway, she had a young mister, a son, an he was mean to de slaves. I
nebber lak him.
"Once I was sent to mah missys' brother for a time but I wouldn' stay
dere: he too rough.
"No, deh didn't want you to learn out of books. My missy say one day
when I was free, 'Now you can get your lessons.'
"I allus lowed to do what I wanted, take what I wanted, and eat what I
wanted. Deh had lots of money but what good did it do them? Deh allus
"De poor soldiers had lots to go thru, even after de wah. Deh starvin
and beggin and sick.
"De slaves had more meetins and gatherins aftah de war.
"On de plantation where I work dey had a great big horn blow every
mornin to get de slaves up to de field, I allus get up soon after it
blew, most allways, but this mornin dey blew de horn a long time an I
says, 'what foh dey blow dat horn so long?' an den de mastah say, 'You
all is free'. Den he says, ter me, 'What you all goin to do now', and I
says, 'I'm goin to fine my mother.'
"One day a soldier stop me an says, 'Sister, where do you live?' I tole
him, den he says, 'I'm hungry.' So I went an got him sompin to eat.
"One time I was to be sold de next day, but de missy tole the man who
cried the block not to sell me, but deh sold my mother and I didn't see
her after dat till just befoh de war ovah.
"All dat de slaves got after de war was loaned dem and dey had to work
mighty hard to pay for dem. I saw a lot of poor people cut off from
votin and dey off right now, I guess. I doan like it dat de woman vote.
A woman ain't got no right votin, nowhow.
"Most of de slaves get pensions and are taken care of by their chillun."
"Ah doan know about de generation today, just suit yourself bout dat."
Julia Williams resides at 150 Kyle St., Wadsworth, Ohio.
Warren County, District 2
Story of REVEREND WILLIAMS, Aged 76,
Colored Methodist Minister,
Born Greenbriar County, West Virginia (Born 1859)
"I was born on the estate of Miss Frances Cree, my mother's mistress.
She had set my grandmother Delilah free with her sixteen children, so my
mother was free when I was born, but my father was not.
"My father was butler to General Davis, nephew of Jefferson Davis.
General Davis was wounded in the Civil War and came home to die. My
father, Allen Williams was not free until the Emancipation."
"Grandmother Delilah belonged to Dr. Cree. Upon his death and the
division of his estate, his maiden daughter came into possession of my
grandmother, you understand. Miss Frances nor her brother Mr. Cam. ever
married. Miss Frances was very religious, a Methodist, and she believed
Grandmother Delilah should be free, and that we colored children should
"Yes ma'm, we colored people had a church down there in West Virginia,
and grandmother Delilah had a family Bible of her own. She had fourteen
boys and two girls. My mother had sixteen children, two boys, fourteen
girls. Of them--mother's children, you understand,--there were seven
teachers and two ministers; all were educated--thanks to Miss Frances
and to Miss Sands of Gallipolice. Mother lived to be ninety-seven years
old. No, she was not a cook."
"In the south, you understand--there is the COLORED M.E. CHURCH, and the
AFRICAN M.E. CHURCH, and the SOUTHERN METHODIST, and METHODIST EPISCOPAL
CHURCHES of the white people. They say there will be UNION METHODIST of
both white and colored people, but I don't believe there will be, for
there is a great difference in beliefs, even today. SOUTHERN METHODIST