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Slave Narrative of Henry Ryan

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...

Slave Narrative of Matilda Brooks

Interviewer: Alfred Farrell Person Interviewed: Matilda Brooks Location: Monticello, Florida Age: 79 A Governor’s Slave Matilda Brooks, 79, who lives in Monticello, Fla., was once a slave of a South Carolina governor. Mrs. Brooks was born in 1857 or 1858 in Edgefield, S.C. Her parents were Hawkins and Harriet Knox, and at the time of the birth of their daughter were slaves on a large plantation belonging to Governor Frank Pickens. On this plantation were raised cotton, corn, potatoes, tobacco, peas, wheat and truck products. As soon as Matilda was large enough to go into the fields she helped her parents with the farming. The former slave describes Governor Pickens as being ‘very good’ to his slaves. He supervised them personally, although official duties often made this difficult. He saw to it that their quarters were comfortable and that they always had sufficient food. When they became ill he would himself doctor on them with pills, castor oil, turpentine other remedies. Their diet consisted largely of potatoes, corn bread, syrup, greens, peas, and occasionally ham, fowl and other meats or poultry. Their chief beverage was coffee made from parched corn. Since there were no stoves during slavery, they cooked their foods in large iron pots suspended from racks built into the fireplaces. Fried foods were prepared in iron ‘spiders’, large frying pans with legs. These pans were placed over hot coals, and the seasoning was done with salt which they secured from evaporated sea-water. After the food was fried and while the coals were still glowing the fat of oxen and sheep was melted to make candles. Any grease...

Biography of Sheldon Griswold Catlin

Sheldon Griswold Catlin. A notable figure in the commercial life of the City of Leavenworth was the late Sheldon Griswold Catlin. He was a Yankee, of Connecticut birth and ancestry, and possessed the genius of a typical New Englander for trade. Bulwarking his genius in this direction was a remarkable integrity of character and a wholesomeness and breadth of mind which made his presence in any community a source of strength and uplift. It was in 1863 that he came to Leavenworth and became a member of the old wholesale shoe firm of George O. Catlin & Company, a business which is still in existence and which had had a consecutive history of prosperity and success for more than half a century. Sheldon G. Catlin was born at Harwinton in Litchfield County, Connecticut, September 28, 1806. He was descended from Thomas Catling, a native of England, where the common method of spelling the name was Ketling. Thomas Catling settled in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1642, and was the progenitor of all the various branches of the Catlin family now known in the United States. The Catlins were Connecticut people until after the Revolutionary war, and several of the name were soldiers in that struggle. After an education in the common schools, Sheldon G. Catlin inaugurated his business experience as clerk in a store. His enterprise soon took him out of the ranks of the employe. Loading a wagon with tinware and other merchandise he peddled out his stock along the road until he arrived in South Carolina, and at Edgefield in that state he established a permanent store. While in...

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