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Interviewer: Daisy Whaley
Person Interviewed: Doc Edwards
Location: Staggville, North Carolina
Date of Birth: 1853
Ex-Slave, 84 Yrs.
I was bawn at Staggville, N. C., in 1853. I belonged to Marse Paul Cameron. My pappy was Murphy McCullers. Mammy’s name was Judy. Dat would make me a McCullers, but I was always knowed as Doc Edwards an’ dat is what I am called to dis day.
I growed up to be de houseman an’ I cooked for Marse Benehan,–Marse Paul’s son. Marse Benehan was good to me. My health failed from doing so much work in de house an’ so I would go for a couple of hours each day an’ work in de fiel’ to be out doors an’ get well again.
Marse Paul had so many niggers dat he never counted dem. When we opened de gate for him or met him in de road he would say, “Who is you? Whare you belong?” We would say, “We belong to Marse Paul.” “Alright, run along” he’d say den, an’ he would trow us a nickel or so.
We had big work shops whare we made all de tools, an’ even de shovels was made at home. Dey was made out of wood, so was de rakes, pitchforks an’ some of de hoes. Our nails was made in de blacksmith shop by han’ an’ de picks an’ grubbin’ hoes, too.
We had a han’ thrashing machine. It was roun’ like a stove pipe, only bigger. We fed de wheat to it an’ shook it’ til de wheat was loose from de straw an’ when it come out at de other end it fell on a big cloth, bigger den de sheets. We had big curtains all roun’ de cloth on de floor, like a tent, so de wheat wouldn’ get scattered. Den we took de pitchfork an’ lifted de straw up an’ down so de wheat would go on de cloth. Den we moved de straw when de wheat was all loose Den we fanned de wheat wid big pieces of cloth to get de dust an’ dirt outen it, so it could be taken to de mill an’ groun’ when it was wanted.
When de fall come we had a regular place to do different work. We had han’ looms an’ wove our cotton an’ yarn an’ made de cloth what was to make de clothes for us to wear.
We had a shop whare our shoes was made. De cobbler would make our shoes wid wooden soles. After de soles was cut out dey would be taken down to de blacksmiyh an’ he would put a thin rim of iron aroun’ de soles to keep dem from splitting. Dese soles was made from maple an’ ash wood.
We didn’ have any horses to haul wid. We used oxen an’ ox-carts. De horse and mules was used to do de plowin’.
When de Yankees come dey didn’ do so much harm, only dey tole us we was free niggers. But I always feel like I belong to Marse Paul, an’ i still live at Staggville on de ole plantation. I has a little garden an’ does what I can to earn a little somethin’. De law done fixed it so now dat I will get a little pension, an’ I’ll stay right on in dat little house ’til de good Lawd calls me home, den I will see Marse Paul once more.