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Slave Narrative of Adah I. Suggs

Interviewer: Lauana Creel Person Interviewed: Adah Isabelle Suggs Location: Evansville, Indiana Date of Birth: 1862 Stories from Ex-Slaves 5th District Vanderburgh County Lauana Creel 1415 S. Barker Avenue, Evansville, Indiana ESCAPE FROM BONDAGE OF ADAH ISABELLE SUGGS Among the interesting stories connected with former slaves one of the most outstanding ones is the life story of Adah Isabelle Suggs, indeed her escape from slavery planned and executed by her anxious mother, Harriott McClain, bears the earmarks of fiction, but the truth of all related occurences has been established by the aged negro woman and her daughter Mrs. Harriott Holloway, both citizens of Evansville, Indiana. Born in slavery before January the twenty-second, 1862 the child Adah McClain was the property of Colonel Jackson McClain and Louisa, his wife. According to the customary practice of raising slave children, Adah was left at the negro quarters of the McClain plantation, a large estate located in Henderson county, three and one half miles from the village of Henderson, Kentucky. There she was cared for by her mother. She retains many impressions gained in early childhood of the slave quarters; she remembers the slaves singing and dancing together after the day of toil. Their voices were strong and their songs were sweet. “Master was good to his slaves and never beat them” were her words concerning her master. When Adah was not yet five years of age the mistress, Louisa McClain, made a trip to the slave quarters to review conditions of the negroes. It was there she discovered that one little girl there had been developing ideas and ideals; the mother had taught...

Slave Narrative of Betty Jones

Interviewer: Lauana Creel Person Interviewed: Elizabeth Jones Location: 429 Oak Street, Evansville, Indiana Ex-Slave Stories District No. 5 Vanderburgh County Lauana Creel THE STORY OF BETTY JONES 429 Oak Street, Evansville, Ind. From an Interview with Elizabeth Jones at 429 Oak Street, Evansville, Ind. “Yes Honey, I was a slave, I was born at Henderson, Kentucky and my mother was born there. We belonged to old Mars John Alvis. Our home was on Alvis’s Hill and a long plank walk had been built from the bank of the Ohio river to the Alvis home. We all liked the long plank walk and the big house on top of the hill was a pretty place.” Betty Jones said her master was a rich man and had made his money by raising and selling slaves. She only recalls two house servants were mulatoes. All the other slaves were black as they could be. Betty Alvis lived with her parents in a cabin near her master’s home on the hill. She recalls no unkind treatment. “Our only sorrow was when a crowd of our slave friends would be sold off, then the mothers, brothers, sisters, and friends always cried a lot and we children would grieve to see the grief of our parents.” The mother of Betty was a slave of John Alvis and married a slave of her master. The family lived at the slave quarters and were never parted. “Mother kept us all together until we got set free after the war,” declares Betty. Many of the Alvis negroes decided to make their homes at Henderson, Kentucky. “It was a...

Slave Narrative of Anna Smith

Interviewer: Geo. H. Conn Person Interviewed: Anna Smith Location: Ohio Place of Birth: Henderson Kentucky Date of Birth: May 1833 Age: 100+ Place of Residence: 518 Bishop Street Writer Wilbur C. Ammon, Editor C.R. McLean, District Supervisor June 11, 1937 Folklore Summit County, District #5 In a little old rocking chair, sits an old colored “mammy” known to her friends as “Grandma” Smith, spending the remaining days with her grandchildren. Small of stature, tipping the scales at about 100 lbs. but alert to the wishes and cares of her children, this old lady keeps posted on current events from those around her. With no stoop or bent back and with a firm step she helps with the housework and preparing of meals, waiting, when permitted, on others. In odd moments, she like to work at her favorite task of “hooking” rag rugs. Never having worn glasses, her eyesight is the envy of the younger generation. She spends most of the time at home, preferring her rocker and pipe (she has been smoking for more than eighty year) to a back seat in an automobile. When referring to Civil War days, her eyes flash and words flow from her with a fluency equal to that of any youngster. Much of her speech is hard to understand as she reverts to the early idiom and pronunciation of her race. Her head, tongue, arms and hands all move at the same time as she talks. A note of hesitancy about speaking of her past shows at times when she realizes she is talking to one not of her own race, but after...

Slave Narrative of Morris Hillyer

Person Interviewed: Morris Hillyer Location: Alderson, Oklahoma Age: 84 My father was Gabe Hillyer and my mother was Clarisay Hillyer, and our home was in Rose, Georgia. Our owner was Judge Hillyer. He was de last United States senator to Washington, D. C., before de war. My mother died when I was only a few days old and the only mother I ever knew was Judge Hillyer’s wife, Miss Jane. Her nine children were all older than I was and when mother died Miss Jane said mother had raised her children and she would raise here. So she took us into her house and we never lived at de quarters any more. I had two sisters, Sally and Sylvia, and we had a room in de Big House and sister Sally didn’t do nothing else but look after me. I used to stand with my thumb in my mouth and hold to Miss Jane’s apron while she knitted. When Judge Hillyer was elected be sold out his farm and gave his slave a to his children. He owned about twelve or fourteen slaves at this time. He gave me and my sister Sylvia to his son, Dr. Hillyer, and my father to another one of his sons who was studying law. Father stayed with him and took care of him until he graduated. Father learned to be a good carpenter while he lived with George Hillyer. George never married until after de war. Dr. Hillyer lived on a big plantation but he practiced medicine all de time. He didn’t have much time to look after de farm but he...

Biography of Benjamin F. Beckham

Benjamin F. Beckham, a prominent farmer of Madrid Bend, is the son of Alexander F. and Mary (Watson) Beckham. The father was born in Virginia in 1828, moved when young to Gibson County, Tennessee, and then to Hickman, Kentucky, then to Mills Point. He married Miss Watson in 1848. They had eight children, only three now living. Mrs. Beckham belongs to the Methodist Church. Mr. Beckham was a merchant and farmed also upon an extensive scale. In politics he was a democrat. Mr. Beckham was the victim of one of the greatest outrages ever perpetrated. It was known that he often had large sums of money at his house, and in 1863, while the Federal forces were stationed on Island No. 10, a squad of seventeen Negroes and white soldiers went to his house, ostensibly to secure a colored child belonging to a Negro woman on the island, but in reality to rob Mr. Beckham; and to make sure of getting it, they murdered Mr. Beckham and his aged father and four of his children. Mrs. Beckham and the other three children were away from home and thus escaped the horrible fate of the others. After murdering six of the family, in order to conceal their dastardly work, the fiends sunk their victims in the river. Some eye witnesses of this cruel murder barely escaped with their lives. In 1869 Mrs. Beckham married J. A. Burnum, who died in 1873. She now lives in Union City, Tennessee. After the murdered members of the family had been buried twenty one years in the Bend, they were removed to the cemetery...

Biographical Sketch of John Wesley Porter

John Wesley Porter, a successful young practitioner of law in Muskogee, where he has followed his profession through the past three years, was born in Henderson county, Kentucky, on the 1st of December, 1886, his parents being John Wesley and Lucy Jane (Moss) Porter, the former a tobacco merchant. In the acquirement of an education he attended public and private schools and also studied under a private tutor. His professional training was received in the law department of the Washington and Lee University at Lexington, Virginia, from which he was graduated in June, 1909. He first located for practice at Eufaula, Oklahoma, and there remained until 1918, when he came to Muskogee, where he has built up a clientage of gratifying proportions. He belongs to the Muskogee Bar Association and to the Oklahoma State Bar Association. On the 1st of December, 1910, at Henderson, Kentucky, Mr. Porter was united in marriage to Miss Mary Elizabeth Baskett and they have become parents of three sons: John W. (III), Stuart Moss and Robert Baskett. Fraternally Mr. Porter is identified with the Masons, in which he has attained the thirty-second degree of the Scottish Rite and also belongs to the Mystic Shrine. He is likewise a member of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks. In his leisure hours he enjoys...

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