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Slave Narrative of Fannie Dunn

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Interviewer: T. Pat Matthews
Person Interviewed: Fannie Dunn
Location: 222 Heck Street, Raleigh, North Carolina

I don’t ‘zakly know my age, but I knows and ‘members when de Yankees come through Wake County. I wus a little girl an’ wus so skeered I run an hid under de bed. De Yankees stopped at de plantation an’ along de road fur a rest. I ‘members I had diphtheria an’ a Yankee doctor come an’ mopped my throat. Dey had to pull me outen under de bed so he could doctor me.

One Yankee would come along an’ give us sumptin’ an another would come on behind him an’ take it. Dats de way dey done. One give mother a mule an’ when dey done gone she sold it. A Yankee give mother a ham of meat, another come right on behind him an’ took it away from her. Dere shore wus a long line of dem Yankees. I can ‘member seeing ’em march by same as it wus yisterday. I wus not old enough to work, but I ‘members ’em. I don’t know ‘zackly but I wus ’bout five years old when de surrender wus.

My name before I wus married wus Fannie Sessoms an’ mother wus named Della Sessoms. We belonged to Dr. Isaac Sessoms an’ our missus wus named Hanna. My father wus named Perry Vick, after his marster who wus named Perry Vick. My missus died durin’ de war an’ marster never married anymore.

I don’t ‘member much ’bout missus but mother tole me she wus some good woman an’ she loved her. Marster wus mighty good to us an’ didn’t allow patterollers to whip us none. De slave houses wus warm and really dey wus good houses, an’ didn’t leak neither.

I don’t ‘member much ’bout my grandparents, just a little mother tole me ’bout ’em. Grandma ‘longed to de Sessoms an’ Dr. Isaac Sessoms brother wus mother’s father. Mother tole me dat. Look at dat picture, mister, you see you can’t tell her from a white woman. Dats my mother’s picture. She wus as white as you wid long hair an’ a face like a white woman. She been dead ’bout twenty years. My mother said dat we all fared good, but course we wore homemade clothes an’ wooden bottomed shoes.

We went to the white folks church at Red Oak an’ Rocky Mount Missionary Baptist Churches. We were allowed to have prayer meetings at de slave houses, two an’ three times a week. I ‘members goin’ to church ’bout last year of de war wid mother. I had a apple wid me an’ I got hungry an’ wanted to eat it in meetin’ but mother jest looked at me an’ touched my arm, dat wus enough. I didn’t eat de apple. I can ‘member how bad I wanted to eat it. Don’t ‘member much ’bout dat sermon, guess I put my mind on de apple too much.

Marster had about twenty slaves an’ mother said dey had always been allowed to go to church an’ have prayer meetings ‘fore I wus born. Marster had both white an’ colored overseers but he would not allow any of his overseers to bulldoze over his slaves too much. He would call a overseer down for bein’ rough at de wrong time. Charles Sessoms wus one of marster’s colored overseers. He ‘longed to marster, an’ mother said marster always listened to what Charles said. Dey said marster had always favored him even ‘fore he made him overseer. Charles Sessoms fell dead one day an’ mother found him. She called Marster Sessoms an’ he come an’ jest cried. Mother said when Marster come he wus dead shore enough, dat marster jest boohooed an’ went to de house, an’ wouldn’t look at him no more till dey started to take him to de grave. Everybody on de plantation went to his buryin’ an’ funeral an’ some from de udder plantation dat joined ourn.

I ‘members but little ’bout my missus, but ‘members one time she run me when I wus goin’ home from de great house, an’ she said, ‘I am goin’ to catch you, now I catch you’. She pickin’ at me made me love her. When she died mother tole me ’bout her bein’ dead an’ took me to her buryin’. Next day I wanted to go an’ get her up. I tole mother I wanted her to come home an’ eat. Mother cried an’ took me up in her arms, an’ said, ‘Honey missus will never eat here again.’ I wus so young I didn’t understand.

Dr. Sessoms an’ also Dr. Drake, who married his daughter, doctored us when we wus sick. Dr. Joe Drake married marster’s only daughter Harriet an’ his only son David died in Mississippi. He had a plantation dere.

I been married only once. I wus married forty years ago to Sidney Dunn. I had one chile, she’s dead.

From what I knows of slavery an’ what my mother tole me I can’t say it wus a bad thing. Mister, I wants to tell de truth an’ I can’t say its bad ’cause my mother said she had a big time as a slave an’ I knows I had a good time an’ wus treated right.

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