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Interviewer: Mary A. Hicks
Person Interviewed: David Blount
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Days On The Plantation
As told by Uncle David Blount, formerly of Beaufort County, who did not know his age. “De Marster” he refers to was Major Wm. A. Blount, who owned plantations in several parts of North Carolina.
Yes mam, de days on de plantation wuz de happy days. De marster made us wuck through de week but on Sadays we uster go swimmin’ in de riber an’ do a lot of other things dat we lak ter do.
We didn’t mind de wuck so much case de ground wuz soft as ashes an’ de marster let us stop and rest when we got tired. We planted ‘taters in de uplan’s and co’n in de lowgroun’s nex’ de riber. It wuz on de Cape Fear an’ on hot days when we wuz a-pullin’ de fodder we’d all stop wuck ’bout three o’clock in de ebenin’ an’ go swimmin’. Atter we come out’n de water we would wuck harder dan eber an’ de marster wuz good to us, case we did wuck an’ we done what he ast us.
I ‘members onct de marster had a oberseer dar dat wuz meaner dan a mean nigger. He always hired good oberseers an’ a whole lot of times he let some Negro slave obersee. Well, dis oberseer beat some of de half grown boys till de blood run down ter dar heels an’ he tole de rest of us dat if we told on him dat he’d kill us. We don’t dasen’t ast de marster ter git rid of de man so dis went on fer a long time.
It wuz cold as de debil one day an’ dis oberseer had a gang of us a-clearin’ new groun’. One boy ast if he could warm by de bresh heap. De oberseer said no, and atter awhile de boy had a chill. De oberseer don’t care, but dat night de boy am a sick nigger. De nex’ mornin’ de marster gits de doctor, an’ de doctor say dat de boy has got pneumonia. He tells ‘em ter take off de boys shirt an’ grease him wid some tar, turpentine, an’ kerosene, an’ when dey starts ter take de shirt off dey fin’s dat it am stuck.
Dey had ter grease de shirt ter git it off case de blood whar de oberseer beat him had stuck de shirt tight ter de skin. De marster wuz in de room an’ he axed de boy how come it, an’ de boy tole him.
De marster sorta turns white an’ he says ter me, ‘Will yo’ go an’ ast de oberseer ter stop hyar a minute, please?’
When de oberseer comes up de steps he axes sorta sassy-like, ‘What yo’ want?’
De marster says, ‘Pack yo’ things an’ git off’n my place as fast as yo’ can, yo’ pesky varmit.’
De oberseer sasses de marster some more, an’ den I sees de marster fairly loose his temper for de first time. He don’t say a word but he walks ober, grabs de oberseer by de shoulder, sets his boot right hard ‘ginst de seat of his pants an’ sen’s him, all drawed up, out in de yard on his face. He close up lak a umbrella for a minute den he pulls hisself all tergether an’ he limps out’n dat yard an’ we ain’t neber seed him no more.
No mam, dar wuzent no marryin’ on de plantation dem days, an’ as one ole ‘oman raised all of de chilluns me an’ my brother Johnnie ain’t neber knowed who our folkses wuz. Johnnie wuz a little feller when de war ended, but I wuz in most of de things dat happen on de plantation fer a good while.
One time dar, I done fergit de year, some white mens comes down de riber on a boat an’ dey comes inter de fiel’s an’ talks ter a gang of us an’ dey says dat our masters ain’t treatin’ us right. Dey tells us dat we orter be paid fer our wuck, an’ dat we hadn’t ort ter hab passes ter go anywhar. Dey also tells us dat we ort ter be allowed ter tote guns if we wants ‘em. Dey says too dat sometime our marsters was gwine ter kill us all.
I laughs at ‘em, but some of dem fool niggers listens ter ‘em; an’ it ‘pears dat dese men gib de niggers some guns atter I left an’ promised ter bring ‘em some more de nex’ week.
I fin’s out de nex’ day ’bout dis an’ I goes an’ tells de marster. He sorta laughs an’ scratches his head, ‘Dem niggers am headed fer trouble, Dave, ‘he says ter me, ‘an I wants yo’ ter help me.’
I says, ‘Yas sar, marster.’
An’ he goes on, ‘Yo’ fin’s out when de rest of de guns comes Dave, an’ let me know.’
When de men brings back de guns I tells de marster, an’ I also tells him dat dey wants ter hold er meetin’.
‘All right,’ he says an’ laughs, ‘dey can have de meetin’. Yo’ tell ‘em, Dave, dat I said dat dey can meet on Chuesday night in de pack house.’
Chuesday ebenin’ he sen’s dem all off to de low groun’s but me, an’ he tells me ter nail up de shutters ter de pack house an’ ter nail ‘em up good.
I does lak he tells me ter do an’ dat night de niggers marches in an’ sneaks dar guns in too. I is lyin’ up in de loft an’ I hyars dem say dat atter de meetin’ dey is gwine ter go up ter de big house an’ kill de whole fambly.
I gits out of de winder an’ I runs ter de house an tells de marster. Den me an’ him an’ de young marster goes out an’ quick as lightnin’, I slams de pack house door an’ I locks it. Den de marster yells at dem, ‘I’se got men an’ guns out hyar, he yells, ‘an’ if yo’ doan throw dem guns out of de hole up dar in de loft, an’ throw dem ebery one out I’se gwine ter stick fire ter dat pack house.’
De niggers ‘liberates for a few minutes an’ den dey throws de guns out. I knows how many dey has got so I counts till dey throw dem all out, den I gathers up dem guns an’ I totes ‘em off ter de big house.
Well sar, we keeps dem niggers shet up fer about a week on short rations; an’ at de end of dat time dem niggers am kyored for good. When dey comes out dey had three oberseers ‘stid of one, an’ de rules am stricter dan eber before; an’ den de marster goes off ter de war.
I reckon I was ’bout fifteen or sixteen den; an’ de marster car’s me ‘long fer his pusonal sarvant an’ body guard an’ he leabes de rest of dem niggers in de fiel’s ter wuck like de dickens while I laughs at dem Yankees.
Jim belonged to Mr. Harley who lived in New Hanover County during de war, in fac’ he was young Massa Harley’s slave; so when young Massa Tom went to de war Jim went along too.
Dey wuz at Manassas, dey tells me, when Massa Tom got kilt, and de orders wuz not to take no bodies off de field right den.
Course ole massa down near Wilmington, doan know ’bout young Massa Tom, but one night dey hears Jim holler at de gate. Dey goes runnin’ out; an’ Jim has brung Massa Tom’s body all dat long ways home so dat he can be buried in de family burian ground.
De massa frees Jim dat night; but he stays on a time atter de war, an’ tell de day he died he hated de Yankees for killing Massa Tom. In fact we all hated de Yankees, ‘specially atter we hear ’bout starve dat first winter. I tried ter make a libin’ fer me an’ Johnnie but it was bad goin’; den I comes ter Raleigh an’ I gits ‘long better. Atter I gits settled I brings Johnnie, an’ so we done putty good.
Dat’s all I can tell yo’ now Miss, but if’n yo’ll come back sometime I’ll tell yo’ de rest of de tales.
Shortly after the above interview Uncle Dave who was failing fast was taken to the County Home, where he died. He was buried on May 4th, 1937, the rest of the tale remaining untold.