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Slave Narrative of Sarah Gudger

Interviewer: Marjorie Jones Person Interviewed: Sarah Gudger Date of Interview: May 5, 1937 Location: Asheville, North Carolina Date of Birth: Sept. 15. 1816 Age: 121 Investigation of the almost incredible claim of Aunt Sarah Gudger, ex-slave living in Asheville, that she was born on Sept. 15, 1816, discloses some factual information corroborating her statements. Aunt Sarah’s father, Smart Gudger, belonged to and took his family name from Joe Gudger, who lived near Oteen, about six miles east of Asheville in the Swannanoa valley, prior to the War Between the States. Family records show that Joe Gudger married a Miss McRae in 1817, and that while in a despondent mood he ended his own life by hanging, as vividly recounted by the former slave. John Hemphill, member of the family served by Aunt Sarah until “freedom,” is recalled as being “a few y’ars younge’ as me,” and indeed his birth is recorded for 1822. Alexander Hemphill, mentioned by Aunt Sarah as having left to join the Confederate army when about 25 years of age, is authentic and his approximate age in 1861 tallies with that recalled by the ex-slave. When Alexander went off to the war Aunt Sarah was “gettin’ t’ be an ol’ woman.” Aunt Sarah lives with distant cousins in a two-story frame house, comfortably furnished, at 8 Dalton street in South Asheville (the Negro section lying north of Kenilworth). A distant male relative, 72 years of age, said he has known Aunt Sarah all his life and that she was an old woman when he was a small boy. Small in stature, about five feet tall, Aunt...

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