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Slave Narrative of Henry Ryan

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Interviewer: G. Leland Summer
Person Interviewed: Henry Ryan
Date of Interview: August 18, 1937
Location: Newberry, South Carolina

“I live in a rented three-room house with my daughter. I am too old to do much work, but I work where I can get little jobs that I can do.

“The slaves did not expect anything after Freedom, for the South was in such a bad fix. They just got jobs where they could find them. Most of them worked as share-croppers or wage hands on the farms, and have worked like this since that time. Some few have rented farms. When any moved to town they got jobs where they could.

“I never thought much about Reconstruction. Some slaves voted at first, but when Wade Hampton was elected they didn’t get to vote much.

“I think the younger generation has too much freedom and doesn’t stay home enough. They want to have their own way.

“Over in old Edgefield where I was raised we had plenty to eat; plenty peas, corn bread, turnips and other things. We hunted wild game, too. I was a slave of Major Pickens Butler. He was a good man and sometimes gave us a little money for our work. Our master gave us a small patch of land to work for ourselves and plant anything we wanted.

“No, I never think anything about voting. I am satisfied just to get along.”

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