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Slave Narrative of Ellen Swindler

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Interviewer: G. Leland Summer
Person Interviewed: Ellen Swindler
Date of Interview: May 20, 1937
Location: Newberry, South Carolina
Place of Birth: Newberry County SC

“I was born on the Enoree River in Newberry County. Tom Price was my master. I married Nathan Swindler when I was about grown. My father and mother was Dave and Lucy Coleman. I had a brother and several sisters. We children had to work around the home of our master ’till we was old enough to work in de fields, den we would hoe and pick cotton, and do any kinds of field work. We didn’t have much clothes, just one dress and a pair of shoes at a time, and maybe one change. I married in a ole silk striped dress dat I got from my mistress, Miss Sligh. We had no ‘big-to-do’ at our wedding, just married at home. In cold weather, I had sometimes, heavy homespun or outing dress. When Saturday afternoons come, we got off from work and do what we want. Some of us washed for de week. We had no schools and couldn’t read and write. Sometimes we could play in our yards after work was over or on Saturday afternoons. On Christmas the master give us something good to eat. We didn’t have doctors much, but de ole folks had cures for sickness. Dey made cherry-bark tea for chills and fever, and root-herb teas for fevers. Lots of chills and fevers then. To cure a boil or wart, we would take a hair from the tail of a horse and tie it tight around both sides of the sore place. I think Abe Lincoln was a great man, and Jeff Davis was a good man too. I think Booker Washington was a great man for de colored race. I like it better now than de way it was in slavery time.”

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