Interviewer: T. Pat Matthews
Person Interviewed: Hannah Crasson
Location: North Carolina
Location of Birth: Wake County NC
My name is Hannah Crasson. I wuz born on John William Walton’s plantation 4 miles from Garner and 13 miles from Raleigh, N. C. in the County of Wake. I am 84 years ole the 2nd day uv dis las’ gone March. I belonged to Mr. John William Walton in slavery time. My missus wuz named Miss Martha.
My father wuz named Frank Walton. My mother wuz named Flora Walton. Grandma wuz 104 years when she died. She died down at de old plantation. My brothers were named Johnnie and Lang. My sisters were Adeline, Violet, Mary, Sarah, Ellen, and Annie. Four of us are livin’, Ellen, Mary, Sarah and me.
De old boss man wuz good to us. I wuz talkin’ about him the udder night. He didn’t whup us and he said, he didn’t want nobody else to whup us. It is jis like I tell you; he wuz never cruel to us. One uv his sons wuz cruel to us. We had a plenty to eat, we shore did, plenty to eat. We had nice houses to live in too. Grandma had a large room to live in, and we had one to live in. Daddy stayed at home with mother. They worked their patches by moonlight; and worked for the white folks in the day time.
They sold what they made. Marster bought it and paid for it. He made a barrel o’ rice every year, my daddy did.
Mr. Bell Allen owned slaves too. He had a plenty o’ niggers. His plantation wuz 5 miles from ourn. We went to church at the white folks church. When Mr. Bell Allen seed us cummin’ he would say, ‘Yonder comes John Walton’s free niggers.’
Our marster would not sell his slaves. He give dem to his children when they married off do’. I swept yards, churned, fed the chickens. In de ebening I would go with my missus a fishin’. We eat collards, peas, corn bread, milk, and rice. We got biskit and butter twice a week. I thought dat de best things I ever et wuz butter spread on biskit. We had a corn mill and a flour mill on the plantation. There wuz about 24 slaves on de place. Dey had brandy made on de plantation, and de marster gib all his slaves some for dere own uses.
My grandmother and mother wove our clothes. Dey were called homespun. Dey made de shoes on de plantation too. I wuz not married til atter de surrender. I did not dress de finest in the world; but I had nice clothes. My wedding dress wuz made of cream silk, made princess with pink and cream bows. I wore a pair of morocco store bought shoes. My husband was dressed in a store bought suit of clothes, the coat wuz made pigen [HW correction: pigeon] tail. He had on a velvet vest and a white collar and tie. Somebody stole de ves’ atter dat.
One of our master’s daughters wuz cruel. Sometimes she would go out and rare on us, but old marster didn’t want us whupped.
Our great grand mother wuz named granny Flora. Dey stole her frum Africa wid a red pocket handkerchief. Old man John William got my great grandmother. De people in New England got scured of we niggers. Dey were afrid me would rise aginst em and dey pushed us on down South. Lawd, why didn’t dey let us stay whur we wuz, dey nebber wouldn’t a been so menny half white niggers, but the old marster wuz to blame for that.
We never saw any slaves sold. They carried them off to sell ‘em. The slaves travelled in droves. Fathers and mothers were sold from their chilluns. Chilluns wuz sold from their parents on de plantations close to us. Where we went to church, we sat in a place away from de white folks. The slaves never did run away from marster, because he wuz good to ‘em; but they run away from other plantations.
Yes, we seed the patterollers, we called ‘em pore white trash, we also called patterollers pore white pecks. They had ropes around their necks. They came to our house one night when we were singin’ and prayin’. It wuz jist before the surrender. Dey were hired by de slave owner. My daddy told us to show ‘em de brandy our marster gib us, den dey went on a way, kase dey knowed John Walton wuz a funny man about his slaves. Dey gave us Christmas and other holidays. Den dey, de men, would go to see dere wives. Some of the men’s wives belong to other marsters on other plantations. We had corn shuckin’s at night, and candy pullin’s. Sometimes we had quiltings and dances.
One of the slaves, my aint, she wuz a royal slave. She could dance all over de place wid a tumbler of water on her head, widout spilling it. She sho could tote herself. I always luved to see her come to church. She sho could tote herself.
My oldest sister Violet died in slavery time. She wuz ten years old when she died. Her uncles were her pall bearers. Uncle Hyman and Uncle Handy carried her to the grave yard. If I makes no mistake my daddy made her coffin. Dere wuz no singin’. There were seven of the family dere, dat wuz all. Dey had no funeral. Dere were no white folks dere.
Dey baptized people in creeks and ponds.
We rode corn stalks, bent down small pine trees and rode’ em for horses. We also played prison base. Colored and white played, yes sir, whites and colored. We played at night but we had a certain time to go to bed. Dat wuz nine o’clock. [HW: New paragraph indicated]
De boss man looked atter us when we wuz sick. He got doctors. I had the typhoid fever. All my hair came out. Dey called it de “mittent fever.” Dr. Thomas Banks doctored me. He been dead a long time. Oh! I don’t know how long he been dead. Near all my white folks were found dead. Mr. John died outside.
Walton died in bed. Marster Joe Walton died sitting under a tree side de path. Miss Hancey died in bed.
I ‘member the day de war commenced. My marster called my father and my two uncles Handy and Hyman, our marster called ‘em. Dey had started back to the field to work in the afternoon. He said, ‘Cum here boys,’ that wuz our young marster, Ben Walton, says ‘cum here boys. I got sumptin’ to tell you.’ Uncle Hyman said, ‘I can’t. I got to go to work.’ He said ‘Come here and set down, I got sumptin’ to tell you.’
The niggers went to him and set down. He told them; ‘There is a war commenced between the North and the South. If the North whups you will be as free a man as I is. If the South whups you will be a slave all your days.’
Mr. Joe Walton said when he went to war dat dey could eat breakfast at home, go and whup the North, and be back far dinner. He went away, and it wuz four long years before he cum back to dinner. De table wuz shore set a long time for him. A lot of de white folks said dey wouldn’t be much war, dey could whup dem so easy. Many of dem never did come back to dinner. I wuz afraid of the Yankees because Missus had told us the Yankees were going to kill every nigger in the South. I hung to my mammy when dey come through.
I thought Abraham Lincoln wuz the Medicine man, with grip in his han’, cause he said every borned man must be free.
I did not think anything of Jeff Davis. I thank de will of God for setting us free. He got into Abraham Lincoln and the Yankees. We are thankful to the Great Marster dat got into Lincoln and the Yankees. Dey say Booker Washington wuz fine, I don’t know.
The white folks did not allow us to have nuthing to do wid books. You better not be found, tryin’ to learn to read. Our marster wuz harder down on dat den anything else. You better not be ketched wid a book. Day read the Bible and told us to obey our marster for de Bible said obey your marster.
The first band of music I ever herd play the Yankees wuz playin’ it. They were playin’ a song. ‘I am tired of seeing de homespun dresses the southern women wear’.
I thinks Mr. Roosevelt is a fine man. Jus’ what we need.