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Slave Narrative of Ellis Ken Kannon

Person Interviewed: Ellis Ken Kannon Location: Nashville, Tennessee Place of Residence: 318 5th Avenue N., St. Mary’s Church, Nashville, Tennessee “I dunno jes how ole I ez. I wuz bawn in Tennessee as a slave. Mah mammy kum frum Virginia. Our marster wuz Ken Kannon.” “Our Mistress wouldn’t let us slaves be whup’d but I member mah daddy tellin’ ’bout de Overseer whuppin’ ‘im en he run ‘way en hid in a log. He tho’t de blood hounds, he heered ’bout a half mile ‘way, on his trail could heer ‘im breathe but de hounds nebber fin’ ‘im. Atter de hounds pas’ on, mah daddy lef’ de log hidin’ place en w’en he got ter a blacksmith shop, he se’ed a white man wid a nigger who had handcuffs on en w’en de white man tuk off de handcuffs, de nigger axed mah daddy whar he wuz gwine en he tole ‘im back ter mah Mistress en de nigger sezs I ez too. Mah daddy slipped ‘way fum ‘im en went home.” “W’en I wuz a young boy, I didn’t wear nothin’ but a shirt lak all urthur boys en hit wuz a long thing lak a slip dat kum ter our knees. Our Mistress had a big fier place en w’en we would kum in cole she would say ain’t you all cole. (You all was always used in the plural and not singular as some writers have it). W’ile we wuz warmin’ she often played de organ fer us ter heer.” “I waited on mah Marster ’til he d’ed. Dey let me stay rite wid de body....

Slave Narrative of Emma Grisham

Person Interviewed: Emma Grisham Location: Nashville, Tennessee Place of Residence: 1118 Jefferson St., Nashville, Tennessee Age: 90s “I wuz bawn in Nashville. I’se up in 90 y’ars, but I tell dem I’se still young. I lived on Gallatin Pike long ‘fore de war, an uster se’d de soldiers ride by.” “Mah marsters name wuz Wm. Penn Harding. Mah daddy wuz sold at Sparta, Tennessee ‘fore I wuz bawn en Marster Harding bought ‘im. Mah mammy erready ‘longed ter de Hardings.” “I don’ member much ’bout slavery I wuz small, but I know I wore a leetle ole slip wid two er three bottons in frunt. Mammy would wash me en I’d go out frunt en play wid de white chilluns.” “W’en de fightin’ got so heavy mah white peeple got sum Irish peeple ter live on de plantation, en dey went south, leavin’ us wid de Irish peeple.” “I wuz leetle en I guess I didn’t think much ’bout freedum, I’d allus had plenty ter eat en w’ar.” “Dunno ob any slaves gittin’ nuthin at freedum.” “Our white folks didn’t whup mah peeple; but de oberseers whup’d de slaves on uther plantations.” “De Yankees had camps on de Capitol hill. En dere wuz soldier camps in east Nashville en you had ter hab a pass ter git thro?” “I member w’en de pen wuz on 15th en Chuch, en de convicts wuk’d ’round de Capitol.” “I went ter schul at Fisk a short time, w’en hit wuz neah 12th en Cedar, en a w’ile down on Chuch St. Mah teacher allus bragged on me fer bein’ clean en neat....

Slave Narrative of Jenny Greer

Person Interviewed: Jenny Greer Location: Nashville, Tennessee Place of Birth: Florence, Alabama Age: 84 Place of Residence: 706 Overton Street, Nashville, Tennessee “Am 84 y’ars ole en wuz bawn in Florence, Alabama, ’bout seben miles fum town. Wuz bawn on de Collier plantashun en Marster en Missis wuz James en Jeanette Collier. Mah daddy en mammy wuz named Nelson en Jane Collier. I wuz named atter one ob mah Missis’ daughters. Our family wuz neber sold er divided.” “I’se bin ma’ied once. Ma’ied Neeley Greer. Thank de Lawd I aint got no chilluns. Chilluns ez so bad now I can’t stand dem ter save mah life.” “Useter go ter de bap’isin’s en dey would start shoutin’ en singin’ w’en we lef’ de chuch. Went ter deze bap’isin’s in Alabama, Memphis, en ‘yer in Nashville. Lawdy hab mercy, how we useter sing. Only song I members ez ‘De Ole Time ‘ligion.’ I useter go ter camp meetin’s. Eve’rbody had a jolly time, preachin’, shoutin’ en eatin’ good things.” “We didn’t git a thing w’en we wuz freed. W’en dey said we wuz free mah people had ter look out fer demselves.” “Don’ member now ’bout K.K.K. er ‘structshun days. Mah mammy useter tell us a lot ob stories but I’se fergot dem. I’se neber voted en dunno ob any frens bein’ in office.” “No mam, no mam, don’t b’leeve in diff’ent colurs ma’rin. I member one ole sign-‘bad luck ter empty ashes atter dark.'” “I’se hired out wuk’n in white folks house since freedum. I’se a widow now en live ‘yer wid mah neice en mah...

Slave Narrative of Precilla Gray

Person Interviewed: Precilla Gray Location: Nashville, Tennessee Place of Birth: Williamson County TN Age: 107 Place of Residence: 807 Ewing Ave., Nashville, Tenn. I think I’se 107 Y’ars ole. Wuz bawn in Williamson County ‘fore de Civil wah. Guess de reason I hab libed so long wuz cose I tuk good keer ob mahself en wore warm clo’es en still do, w’ar mah yarn pettycoats now. Hab had good health all mah life. Hab tuk very lettle medicine en de wust sickness I eber had wuz small-pox. I’se bin a widah ’bout 70 y’ars. Mah mammy d’ed w’en I wuz young but mah daddy libed ter be 103 y’ars ole. I nebber went ter schul a day in mah life, ma’ied ‘fore freedum en w’en I got free, had ter wuk all de time ter mek a libin’ fer mah two chillen. One libes in California en I lives wid de uther, tergedder wid mah great, great, grandson, five y’ars ole, in Nashville. Mah fust marster en missis wuz Amos en Sophia Holland en he made a will dat we slaves wuz all ter be kep’ among de fam’ly en I wuz heired fum one fam’ly ter ‘nother. Wuz owned under de “will” by Haddas Holland, Missis Mary Haddock en den Missis Synthia Ma’ied Sam Pointer en I libed wid her ’til freedum wuz ‘clared. Mah fust mistress had three looms en we had ter mek clothes fer ev’ery one on de plan’ashun. I wuz taught ter weav’, card, spin en ‘nit en ter wuk in de fiel’s. I wuz ‘feared ob de terbacker wums at fust but Aunt...

Slave Narrative of Frankie Goole

Person Interviewed: Frankie Goole Location: Nashville, Tennessee Place of Birth: Smith County TN Age: 84 Place of Residence: 204 5th Ave. So, Nashville, Tennessee “I wuz bawn in Smith County on uther side ob Lebanon. Ah’ll be 85 y’ars ole Christmas Day. Mah ole Missis wuz named Sallie, en mah Marster wuz George Waters. Mah mammy’s name wuz Lucindia, she wuz sold fum me w’en I wuz six weeks ole, en mah Missis raised me. I allus slept wid her. Mah Missis wuz good ter me, but (her son) mah Marster whup’d me. Dunno ob any ex-slaves votin’ er holdin’ office ob any kin. I member de Ku Klux Klan en Pat-a-rollers. Dey would kum ‘roun en whup de niggers wid a bull whup. Ef’n dey met a niggah on de road dey’d say, “Whar ez you gwin dis time ob mawnin’?” De slaves would say, “We ez gwine ovuh ‘yer ter stay aw’ile,” en den dey would start beatin’ dem. I’se stod in our do’er en ‘yeard de hahd licks, en screams ob de ones dat wuz bein’ whup’d, en I’d tell mah Missis, “Listen ter dat!” She would say, “See, dat ez w’at will happen ter you ef’n you try ter leave.” I member one nite a Ku Klux Klan rode up ter our do’er. I tole mah Missis sum body wuz at de do’er wantin’ ter know whar mah Marster wuz. She tole ‘im he wuz d’ed en her son had gon’ ‘way dat mawnin’. He hunted all thro de house, en up in de loft, en said whar ez de niggers? Mah Missis tole i’m [TR:...

Slave Narrative of Narcissus Young

Person Interviewed: Narcissus Young Location: Nashville, Tennessee Age: 96 Place of Residence: Rear 532 1st Street. No., Nashville, Tennessee “I’se 96 y’ars ole. Bawn in slavery en mah marster wuz Isham Lamb en mah missis wuz Martha Lamb. Mah mammy d’ed w’en I wuz three y’ars ole en I wuz raised in de house ’til I wuz big ’nuff ter wuk out in de fiels wid de uthers. Mah missis l’arn me ter sew, weav en spin. I also he’lped ter cook en wuk in de house. Atter I got big’er I went ter chuch wid mah white folks en had ter set wid urther slaves in dat part ob de chuch whar nobody but slaves would be ‘lowed. In slavery I’se git no money fer wuk’n but I don’ steal as mah white folks sho gib me en de uther slaves plenty good things ter eat. Clothes good ’nuff fer anybody, candy, en we went ter parties en urther places, en w’at else could I’se wan’?” “Mah missis l’arned me ter pray, “Now I lay me down ter sleep. I pray de Lawd mah soul ter keep, but if I should die ‘fore I wake, I pray de Lawd mah soul ter tek.” I jined de Primitive Baptist Chuch w’ile young en b’en dere ebe’y since.” “I member de ole song back dere, “Rock a Bye Baby, Yo Daddy’s gon’ a Huntin’ ter git a Rabbit Skin ter put de Baby in.” “I wuz whup’d by mah missis fer things dat I ought’n dun, but dat wuz rite. De hahdest whup’in she eber gib me wuz ’bout two...

Slave Narrative of Rachel Gaines

Person Interviewed: Rachel Gaines Location: Nashville, Tennessee Place of Residence: 1025 10th Ave. N., Nashville, Tennessee Age: 95-100 “Lawdy! I’se dunno how ole I ez. B’leeves I’se ’round 95 ter 100 y’ars. De fust thing I members ez I wuz tuk in a waggin ter Trenton, Kentucky en sold ter Dr. Bainbridge Dickerson jest lak dey sold cows en hosses. Mah sistah wuz sold in de same way at Bowling Green, Kentucky ter ‘nuther Marster.” “I wuz sold only one time in mah life en dat wuz w’en Marster Dickinson bought me. Atter freedum wuz ‘clared de Marster tole all his slaves dat dey could go wharever’y dey pleased but ef’n dey couldn’t mek dere own livin’ ter kum ter ‘im en he would he’ps dem.” “Missus Dickinson kep’ me dere kaze I wuz nuss ter dere son Howard who wuz sho a wild one. I member how he would tote out fried chicken, pig meat en uthuh good stuff ter us darkies. Dey ‘greed ter pay me $35.00 a yeah (en keep) en hit wuz gib me eve’y Christmus mawning. Dey treated me good, gib me all de clothes en uthuh things I needed ez ef’n I wuz one ob de fam’ly.” “Eve’y two weeks de Marster would sen’ fer Jordan McGowan who wuz de leader ob a string music ban’. Dey would git dere Friday nite early en de slaves would dance in de grape house dat nite en all day Saturday up ter midnite. You don’t hab now as good dance music en as much fun as de ole time days had. We allus had a...

Slave Narrative of Sylvia Watkins

Person Interviewed: Sylvia Watkins Location: Nashville, Tennessee Place of Birth: Bedford County TN Age: 91 Place of Residence: 411 14th Avenue N., Nashville, Tennessee I’se said ter be 91 y’ars ole. I wuz young w’en de War wuz goin’ on. I wuz bawn in Bedford County. Mah mammy wuz named Mariah. She had six chillun by mah daddy en three by her fust husband. Mah missis wuz named Emily Hatchet en de young missises wuz Mittie en Bettie, dey wuz twins. We had good clothes ter w’ar en w’en we went ter de table hit wuz loaded wid good food en we could set down en eat our stomachs full. Oh Lawd I wish dem days wuz now so I’d hab sum good food. Ob course, we had ter wuk in de fiel’s en mek w’at we et. Wen we’d finish our day’s wuk our missis would let us go out en play hide en seek, Puss in de corner, en diff’ent games. Mah mammy wuz sold in Virginia w’en she wuz a gurl. She sezs ‘bou 60 ob em wuz put in de road en druv down ‘yer by a slave trader, lak a bunch ob cattle. Mah mammy en two ob mah sistahs wuz put on a block, sold en carried ter Alabama. We neber ‘yeard fum dem nomo’, en dunno whar dey ez. I wuz willed ter mah young missis w’en she ma’ried. I wuz young en, ob course, she whuped me, but she wasn’t mean ter me. I needed eve’y whupin’ she eber gib me, cause I wuz allus fightin’. Mah missis allus called me...

Slave Narrative of Dan Thomas

Person Interviewed: Dan Thomas Location: Nashville, Tennessee Place of Birth: Memphis, Tennessee Date of Birth: 1847 Place of Residence: 904 Jefferson Street, Nashville, Tennessee “I wuz bawn in slavery in 1847 at Memphis, Tennessee en mah marster wuz Deacon Allays. Mah mammy wuz de cook at de big house. Mah mammy d’ed soon atter I wuz bawn, en de Missis had me raised on a bottle. Marster en Missis treatus all dere slaves kindly en plenty ter eat en eve’y one wuz happy. I dunno nuthin ’bout mah daddy er whar he went. I hab no kin in dis worl’. All I eber yeard wuz dat all mah folks kum fum Africa. Mah Missis would tell me dat I mus’ be good en mine en eberbody will lak’ you en ef she d’ed, dey would tek keer ob me. Dat ez w’at dey hab don.” “I wuked ’round de house ‘tel I wuz ’bout ten y’ars ole en de Marster put me ter wuk in his big whiskey house. W’en I got ’bout 21 y’ars ole, I would go out ter collect bills fum Marster’s customers en hit tuk me ’bout a week ter git all ’round. I wuzn’t ‘lowed ter tek money but had ter git dere checks. I also wuked 18 y’ars as bar tender. Marster en Mistress d’ed ’bout four y’ars ‘fore whiskey went out ob de United States. I stay wid dem ’til dey d’ed.” “Atter de Marster en Missis d’ed de doctor sezs I would hab ter leave Memphis on ‘count ob my health. I kum ter Nashville en got a job at de...

Slave Narrative of Cecelia Chappel

Person Interviewed: Cecelia Chappel Location: Nashville, Tennessee Place of Birth: Marshall County, Tennessee Age: 102 Place of Residence: 705 Allison Street, Nashville, Tenn. “I’se bawn in Marshall County, Tennessee. I’m de olest ob ten chilluns en I’se 102 ya’rs ole. I feels lak I’se bin ‘yer longer dan dat. Mah mammy wuz brought ter Nashville en sold ter sum peeple dat tuck her ter Mississippi ter live.” “Mah Marster en Missus wuz named Bob en Nancy Lord. Eve’y slave had ter say Missus en Marster en also ter de white babies. I still says hit, en ef I kum ter yo do’r, I nebber kums in ’till you ax me. Lots ob mah folks seze ter me dat I ez too ole fash’on en I seze I don’ keer I wuz raised wid manners en too ole ter change.” “Our Marster gib us good food en clothes. I wuz l’arnt how ter nit, weav, sew en spin. On rainy days we wuz gib a certain ‘mount ob weavin’ ter do en had ter git hit don’. I dunno how ter read er rite. De white folks didn’ ‘low us ter l’arn nuthin’. I declar’ you bettuh not git kotch wid a papah in you han’. Ef I had half a chance lak you chilluns hab, I’d go ter bed wid mah books.” “Our Marster ‘lowed us ter go ter chuch. I went bar’foot en had a rag tied ‘roun mah haid en mah dress kum up ter mah ‘nees. Dat preacher-man would git up dere en tell us “Now you min’ yo Marster en Missis en don’ steal fum...
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