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Slave Narrative of Rev. W. B. Allen

Interviewer: J. R. Jones Person Interviewed: Rev. W. B. Allen Interviewed: June 29, 1937 Location: Columbus, Georgia Residence: 425-Second Ave, Columbus, Georgia [JUL 28 1937] [TR: Original index refers to “Allen, Rev. W.B. (Uncle Wash)”; however, this informant is different from the previous informant, Washington Allen, interviewed on Dec. 18, 1936. The previous interview for Rev. Allen that is mentioned below is not found in this volume.] In a second interview, the submission of which was voluntarily sought by himself, this very interesting specimen of a rapidly vanishing type expressed a desire to amend his previous interview (of May 10, 1937) to incorporate the following facts: “For a number of years before freedom, my father bought his time from his master and traveled about over Russell County (Alabama) as a journeyman blacksmith, doing work for various planters and making good money—as money went in those days—on the side. At the close of the war, however, though he had a trunk full of Confederate money, all of his good money was gone. Father could neither read nor write, but had a good head for figures and was very pious. His life had a wonderful influence upon me, though I was originally worldly—that is, I drank and cussed, but haven’t touched a drop of spirits in forty years and quit cussing before I entered the ministry in 1879. I learned to pray when very young and kept it up even in my unsaved days. My white master’s folks knew me to be a praying boy, and asked me—in 1865—when the South was about whipped and General Wilson was headed our way—to...

Slave Narrative of Washington Allen

Person Interviewed: Washington Allen Interviewed: December 18, 1936 Location: Columbus, Georgia Residence: 1932-Fifth Avenue, Columbus, Georgia Born: December –, 1854 Place of birth: “Some where” in South Carolina Present [MAY 8 1937] [TR: Original index refers to “Allen, Rev. W.B. (Uncle Wash)”; however, this informant is different from the next informant, Rev. W.B. Allen.] The story of “Uncle Wash”, as he is familiarly known, is condensed as follows: He was born on the plantation of a Mr. Washington Allen of South Carolina, for whom he was named. This Mr. Allen had several sons and daughters, and of these, one son—George Allen—who, during the 1850’s left his South Carolina home and settled near LaFayette, Alabama. About 1858, Mr. Washington Allen died and the next year, when “Wash” was “a five-year old shaver”, the Allen estate in South Carolina was divided—all except the Allen Negro slaves. These, at the instance and insistence of Mr. George Allen, were taken to LaFayette, Alabama, to be sold. All were put on the block and auctioned off, Mr. George Allen buying every Negro, so that not a single slave family was divided up. “Uncle Wash” does not remember what he “fetched at de sale”, but he does distinctly remember that as he stepped up on the block to be sold, the auctioneer ran his hand “over my head and said: Genilmens, dis boy is as fine as split silk”. Then when Mr. George Allen had bought all the Allen slaves, it dawned upon them, and they appreciated, why he had insisted on their being sold in Alabama, rather than in South Carolina. Before he was...

Slave Narrative of Mary Ferguson

Person Interviewed: Mary Ferguson Location: 1928 Oak Avenue, Columbus, Georgia “Aunt” Mary Ferguson, née Mary Little, née Mary Shorter, was born somewhere in Maryland; the exact locality being designated by her simply as “the eastern shore” of that state. She was born the chattel of a planter named Shorter, so her first name, of course, was Mary Shorter. For many years she has resided with a daughter and a granddaughter, at 1928 Oak Avenue, Columbus, Georgia. “Aunt” Mary was about thirteen years old when, in 1860, she was sold and brought South. The story of which, as told in her own words is as follows: “In 1860 I wuz a happy chile. I had a good ma an a good paw; one older bruther an one older suster, an a little bruther an a baby suster, too. All my fambly wucked in de fields, ‘ceptin me an de two little uns, which I stayed at home to mind. (mind—care for). “It wuz durin’ cotton chopping time dat year (1860), a day I’ll never fergit, when de speckulataws bought me. We come home from the fiel’ ’bout haf atter ‘leven dat day an cooked a good dinner, I hopin her. O, I never has forgot dat last dinner wid my fokes! But, some-ow, I had felt, all de mawnin, lak sumpin was gwineter hapin’. I could jes feel it in my bones! An’ sho nough, bout de middle of the even’, up rid my young Marster on his hoss, an’ up driv two strange white mens in a buggy. Dey hitch dere hosses an’ cum in de house, which skeered...

Slave Narrative of Rias Body

Interviewer: J. R. Jones Date of Interview: July 24, 1936 Person Interviewed: Rias Body Place of birth: Harris County, near Waverly Hall, Georgia Date of birth: April 9, 1846 Present residence: 1419-24th Street, Columbus, Georgia Rias Body was born the slave property of Mr. Ben Body, a Harris County planter. He states that he was about fifteen years old when the Civil War started and, many years ago, his old time white folks told him that April 9, 1846, was the date of his birth. The “patarolers,” according to “Uncle” Rias, were always quite active in ante-bellum days. The regular patrol consisted of six men who rode nightly, different planters and overseers taking turns about to do patrol duty in each militia district in the County. All slaves were required to procure passes from their owners or their plantation overseers before they could go visiting or leave their home premises. If the “patarolers” caught a “Nigger” without a pass, they whipped him and sent him home. Sometimes, however, if the “Nigger” didn’t run and told a straight story, he was let off with a lecture and a warning. Slave children, though early taught to make themselves useful, had lots of time for playing and frolicking with the white children. Rias was a great hand to go seining with a certain clique of white boys, who always gave him a generous or better than equal share of the fish caught. At Christmas, every slave on the Body plantation received a present. The Negro children received candy, raisins and “nigger-toes”, balls, marbles, etc. As for food, the slaves had, with the...

Slave Narrative of George Brooks

Date of birth: Year unknown (See below) Place of birth: In Muscogee County, near Columbus, Georgia Present Residence: 502 East 8th Street, Columbus, Georgia Interviewed: August 4, 1936 Age: 112 This old darky, probably the oldest ex-slave in West Georgia, claims to be 112 years of age. His colored friends are also of the opinion that he is fully that old or older—but, since none of his former (two) owners’ people can be located, and no records concerning his birth can be found, his definite age cannot be positively established. “Uncle” George claims to have worked in the fields, “some”, the year the “stars fell”—1833. His original owner was Mr. Henry Williams—to whom he was greatly attached. As a young man, he was—for a number of years—Mr. Williams’ personal body-servant. After Mr. Williams’ death—during the 1850’s, “Uncle” George was sold to a white man—whose name he doesn’t remember—of Dadeville, Alabama, with whom he subsequently spent five months in the Confederate service. One of “Uncle” George’s stories is to the effect that he once left a chore he was doing for his second “Marster’s” wife, “stepped” to a nearby well to get a drink of water and, impelled by some strange, irresistible “power”, “jes kep on walkin ’til he run slap-dab inter de Yankees”, who corraled him and kept him for three months. Still another story he tells is that of his being sold after freedom! According to his version of this incident, he was sold along with two bales of cotton in the fall of 1865—either the cotton being sold and he “thrown in” with it, or vice versa—he...

Biography of James P. Goodall

JAMES P. GOODALL.- There are some hundreds of men upon our coast whose life experiences embrace as much of romance and adventure as was every told in the pages of Marryat, Irving, or of Smollet. For a full recital of this, we must refer the inquirer to such men as the genial gentleman whose name appears above, that he may in his own home, in the beautiful city of Jacksonville, Oregon, recount as to us the stories of his life upon this coast. He was born at Milledgeville, Georgia, in 1818, and at that city and at Columbus in the same state, and at Montgomery, Alabama, received his education. In 1836-36, while but a youth of seventeen, he began his active career by joining the column under Scott to quiet the Creeks and the Seminole Indians, and, after service there was ended, entered Texas as a revolutionist under Lamar and Houston, serving an active army life from the Sabine to the Rio Grade, and north to the Red River, and the northwest of Texas in the Comanche region. In 1846 the war with Mexico took him with the advance to Wools column to the Mexican borders, to Presidio, Rio Grande, to Monclova, Monterey and other interior towns. At the close of hostilities, having served a whole term, and having experienced several skirmishes and action, he performed an overland trip in 1849 via Durango, to the Pacific at Mazatlan, and thence by sea to the gold fields of California. Ten years were spent in the exciting pursuits of the miner, and in the hard brushes with the Indians of Northern...

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