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Slave Narrative of Robert Falls

Interviewer: Della Yoe Person Interviewed: Robert Falls Location: Knoxville, Tennessee Place of Birth: Claiborne County, North Carolina Date of Birth: December 14, 1840 Place of Residence: 608 South Broadway, Knoxville, Tennessee Robert Falls was born on December 14, 1840, in the rambling one-story shack that accomodated the fifteen slaves of his Old Marster, [HW: Harry] Beattie Goforth, on a farm in Claiborne County, North Carolina. His tall frame is slightly stooped, but he is not subjected to the customary infirmities of the aged, other than poor vision and hearing. Fairly comfortable, he is spending his declining years in contentment, for he is now the first consideration of his daughter, Mrs. Lola Reed, with whom he lives at #608 S. Broadway, Knoxville, Tennessee. His cushioned rocking chair is the honor seat of the household. His apology for not offering it to visitors, is that he is “not so fast on his feet as he used to be.” Despite Uncle Robert’s protest that his “mind comes and goes”, his memory is keen, and his sense of humor unimpaired. His reminiscences of slave days are enriched by his ability to recreate scenes and incidents in few words, and by his powers of mimicry. “If I had my life to live over,” he declares, “I would die fighting rather than be a slave again. I want no man’s yoke on my shoulders no more. But in them days, us niggers didn’t know no better. All we knowed was work, and hard work. We was learned to say, ‘Yes Sir!’ and scrape down and bow, and to do just exactly what we was told...

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