Interviewer: T. Pat Matthews
Person Interviewed: Robert Hinton
Location: 420 Smith Street, Raleigh, North Carolina
Date of Birth: 1856
My name is Robert Hinton. I ain’t able to work, ain’t been able to do any work in five years. My wife, Mary Hinton, supports me by workin’ with the WPA. She was cut off las’ May. Since she has had no job, we have to live on what she makes with what little washin’ she gets from de white folks; an’ a little help from charity; dis ain’t much. Dey give you for one week, one half peck meal, one pound meat, one pound powdered milk, one half pound o’ coffee. Dis is what we git for one week.
I wus borned in 1856 on de Fayetteville Road three miles from Raleigh, south. I belonged to Lawrence Hinton. My missus wus named Jane Hinton. De Hintons had ’bout twenty slaves on de plantation out dere. Dey had four chillun, de boy Ransom an’ three girls: Belle, Annie an’ Miss Mary. All are dead but one, Miss Mary is livin’ yit. My mother wus named Liza Hinton an’ my father wus named Bob Hinton. My gran’mother wus named Mary Hinton an’ gran’father Harry Hinton.
We had common food in slavery time, but it wus well fixed up, an’ we were well clothed. We had a good place to sleep, yes sir, a good place to sleep. We worked from sunrise to sunset under overseers. Dey were good to us. I wus small at dat time. I picked up sticks in de yard an’ done some work around de house, but when dey turned deir backs I would be playin’ most o’ de time. We played shootin’ marbles, an’ runnin’, an’ jumpin’. We called de big house de dwelling house an’ de slave quarters de slave houses. Some of ’em were in marster’s yard and some were outside. Dey give all de families patches and gardens, but dey did not sell anything.
We had prayer meetin’ in our houses when we got ready, but dere were no churches for niggers on de plantation. We had dances and other socials durin’ Christmas times. Dey give us de Christmas holidays.
No sir, dey did not whup me. I wus mighty young. Dey didn’t work chillun much. I have seen ’em whup de grown ones do’. I never saw a slave sold and never saw any in chains. Dey run away from our plantation but dey come back again. William Brickell, Sidney Cook, Willis Hinton all run away. I don’t know why dey all run away but some run away to keep from being whupped.
I have lived in North Carolina all my life, right here in Wake County. We used to set gums and catch rabbits, set traps and caught patridges and doves.
Yes sir, I went blindin’. I ‘members gittin’ a big light an’ jumpin’ ’round de bresh heaps, an’ when a bird come out we frailed him down. We went gigging fish too. We found ’em lying on de bottom o’ de creeks an’ ponds at night, an’ stuck de gig in ’em an’ pulled ’em out.
De white folks, ole missus, teached us de catechism, but dey didn’t want you to learn to read and write. I can read and write now; learned since de surrender. Sometimes we went to de white folks church. I don’t know any songs.
When we got sick our boss man sent for a doctor, Dr. Burke Haywood, Dr. Johnson, or Dr. Hill.
I ‘members when de North folks and de Southern folks wus fightin’. De Northern soldiers come in here on de Fayetteville Road. I saw ’em by de hundreds. Dey had colored folks soldiers in blue clothes too. In de mornin’ white soldiers, in de evenin’ colored soldiers; dats de way dey come to town.
I married first Almeta Harris. I had six children by her. Second, I married Mary Jones. She is my wife now. We had six children. My wife is now 65 years old and she has to support me. I am done give out too much to work any more.
Yes sir, that I have seen de patterollers, but my old boss didn’t ‘low ’em to whup his niggers. Marster give his men passes.
I know when de Ku Klux was here, but I don’t know much about ’em.
I thought slavery wus a bad thing’ cause all slaves did not fare alike. It wus all right for some, but bad for some, so it wus a bad thing.
I joined the church because I got religion and thought the church might help me keep it.
I think Abraham Lincoln wus a good man, but I likes Mr. Roosevelt; he is a good man, a good man.