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Slave Narrative of Ambrose Douglass

Interviewer: Martin D. Richardson Person Interviewed: Ambrose Douglass Location: Brooksville, Florida Age: 92 In 1861, when he was 16 years old, Ambrose Hilliard Douglass was given a sound beating by his North Carolina master because he attempted to refuse the mate that had been given to him–with the instructions to produce a healthy boy-child by her–and a long argument on the value of having good, strong, healthy children. In 1937, at the age of 92, Ambrose Douglass welcomed his 38th child into the world. The near-centenarian lives near Brooksville, in Hernando County, on a run-down farm that he no longer attempts to tend now that most of his 38 children have deserted the farm for the more lucrative employment of the cities of the phosphate camps. Douglass was born free in Detroit in 1845. His parents returned South to visit relatives still in slavery, and were soon reenslaved themselves, with their children. Ambrose was one of these. For 21 years he remained in slavery; sometimes at the plantation of his original master in North Carolina, sometimes in other sections after he had been sold to different masters. “Yassuh, I been sold a lot of times”, the old man states. “Our master didn’t believe in keeping a house, a horse or a darky after he had a chance to make some money on him. Mostly, though, I was sold when I cut up”. “I was a young man”, he continues, “and didn’t see why I should be anybody’s slave. I’d run away every chance I got. Sometimes they near killed me, but mostly they just sold me. I guess I...

Slave Narrative of Douglas Dorsey

Interviewer: James Johnson Person Interviewed: Douglas Dorsey Location: South Jacksonville, Florida Age: 86 In South Jacksonville, on the Spring Glen Road lives Douglas Dorsey, an ex-slave, born in Suwannee County, Florida in 1851, fourteen years prior to freedom. His parents Charlie and Anna Dorsey were natives of Maryland and free people. In those days, Dorsey relates there were people known as “Nigger Traders” who used any subterfuge to catch Negroes and sell them into slavery. There was one Jeff Davis who was known as a professional “Nigger Trader,” his slave boat docked in the slip at Maryland and Jeff Davis and his henchmen went out looking for their victims. Unfortunately, his mother Anna and his father were caught one night and were bound and gagged and taken to Jeff Davis’ boat which was waiting in the harbor, and there they were put into stocks. The boat stayed in port until it was loaded with Negroes, then sailed for Florida where Davis disposed of his human cargo. Douglas Dorsey’s parents were sold to Colonel Louis Matair, who had a large plantation that was cultivated by 85 slaves. Colonel Matair’s house was of the pretentious southern colonial type which was quite prevalent during that period. The colonel had won his title because of his participation in the Indian War in Florida. He was the typical wealthy southern gentleman, and was very kind to his slaves. His wife, however was just the opposite. She was exceedingly mean and could easily be termed a tyrant. There were several children in the Matair family and their home and plantation were located in Suwannee County,...

Slave Narrative of Samuel Smalls

Interviewer: Martin D. Richardson Person Interviewed: Samuel Smalls Location: Jacksonville, Florida Age: 85 A voluntary slave for seven years. The story of a free Negro of Connecticut, who came south to observe conditions of slavery, found them very distasteful, then voluntarily entered that slavery for seven years is the interesting tale that Samuel Smalls, 84 year old ex-slave of 1704 Johnson Street, Jacksonville, tells of his father Cato Smith. Smith had been born in Connecticut, son of domestic slaves who were freed while he was still a child. He grew to young manhood in the northern state, making a living for himself as a carpenter and builder. At these trades he is said to have been very efficient. Still unmarried at the age of about 30, he found in himself a desire to travel and see how other Negroes in the country lived. This he did, going from one town to another, working for periods of varying length in the cities in which he lived, eventually drifting to Florida. His travels eventually brought him to Suwannee County, where he worked for a time as overseer on a plantation. On a nearby plantation where he sometimes visited, he met a young woman for whom he grew to have a great affection. This plantation is said to have belonged to a family of Cones, and according to Smalls, still exists as a large farm. Smith wanted to marry the young woman, but a difficulty developed; he was free and she was still a slave. He sought her owner. Smith was told that he might have the woman, but he would have...

Slave Narrative of Sarah Ross

Interviewer: Alfred Farrell Person Interviewed: Sarah Ross Location: Live Oak, Florida Born in Benton County, Mississippi nearly eighty years ago, Sarah is the daughter of Harriet Elmore and William Donaldson, her white owner. Donaldson was a very cruel man and frequently beat Sarah’s mother because she would not have sexual relations with the overseer, a colored man by the name of Randall. Sarah relates that the slaves did not marry, but were forced – in many cases against their will – to live together as man and wife. It was not until after slavery that they learned about the holy bonds of matrimony, and many of them actually married. Cotton, corn and rice were the chief products grown on the Donaldson plantation. Okra also was grown, and from this product coffee was made. The slaves arose with the sun to begin their tasks in the fields and worked until dusk. They were beaten by the overseer if they dared to rest themselves. No kind of punishment was too cruel or severe to be inflicted upon these souls in bondage. Frequently the thighs of the male slaves were gashed with a saw and salt put in the wound as a means of punishment for some misdemeanor. The female slaves often had their hair cut off, especially those who had long beautiful hair. If a female slave was pregnant and had to be punished, she was whipped about the shoulders, not so much in pity as for the protection of the unborn child. Donaldson’s wife committed suicide because of the cruelty not only to the slaves but to her as well....

Slave Narrative of Charlotte Martin

Interviewer: Alfred Farrell Person Interviewed: Charlotte Martin Location: Live Oak, Florida Occupation: Farmed, made quilts, and made herb cures. Charlotte Mitchell Martin, one of twenty children born to Shepherd and Lucinda Mitchell, eighty-two years ago, was a slave of Judge Wilkerson on a large plantation in Sixteen, Florida, a little town near Madison. Shepherd Mitchell was a wagoner who hauled whiskey from Newport News, Virginia for his owner. Wilkerson was very cruel and held them in constant fear of him. He would not permit them to hold religious meetings or any other kinds of meetings, but they frequently met in secret to conduct religious services. When they were caught, the “instigators” – known or suspected – were severely flogged. Charlotte recalls how her oldest brother was whipped to death for taking part in one of the religious ceremonies. This cruel act halted the secret religious services. Wilkerson found it very profitable to raise and sell slaves. He selected the strongest and best male and female slaves and mated them exclusively for breeding. The huskiest babies were given the best of attention in order that they might grow into sturdy youths, for it was those who brought the highest prices at the slave markets. Sometimes the master himself had sexual relations with his female slaves, for the products of miscegenation were very remunerative. These offsprings were in demand as house servants. After slavery the Mitchells began to separate. A few of the children remained with their parents and eked out their living from the soil. During this period Charlotte began to attract attention with her herb cures. Doctors sought her...

Slave Narrative of Bolden Hall

Interviewer: Alfred Farrell Person Interviewed: Bolden Hall Location: Live Oak, Florida Age: 83 Occupation: Field Worker Bolden Hall was born in Walkino, Florida, a little town in Jefferson County, on February 13, 1853; the son of Alfred and Tina Hall. The Halls who were the slaves of Thomas Lenton, owner of seventy-five or a hundred slaves, were the parents of twenty-one children. The Halls, who were born before slavery worked on the large plantation of Lenton which was devoted primarily to the growing of cotton and corn and secondarily to the growing of tobacco and pumpkins. Lenton was very good to his slaves and never whipped them unless it was absolutely necessary – which was seldom! He provided them with plenty of food and clothing, and always saw to it that their cabins were liveable. He was careful, however, to see that they received no educational training, but did not interfere with their religious quest. The slaves were permitted to attend church with their masters to hear the white preacher, and occasionally the master – supposedly un-beknown to the slaves – would have an itinerant colored minister preach to the slaves, instructing them to obey their master and mistress at all times. Although freedom came to the slaves in January, Master Lenton kept them until May in order to help him with his crops. When actual freedom was granted to the slaves, only a few of the young ones left the Lenton plantation. In 1882 Bolden Hall came to Live Oak where he has resided ever since. He married but his wife is now dead, and to that union...

Suwannee County Florida Cemetery Records

Florida Cemetery records are listed by county then name of cemetery within the Florida county. Most of these are complete indices at the time of transcription, however, in some cases we list the listing when it is only a partial listing. Suwannee County Cemetery Records Hosted at Suwannee County, Florida USGenWeb Archives Cedar Grove Cemetery Hunt Cemetery Lebanon Church Cemetery Leona Memorial Cemetery Mt. Beulah Baptist Church Cemetery Mt. Pisgah Baptist Cemetery Mt. Willing Freewill Baptist Cemetery Oak Grove Cemetery O’Brien Cemetery Pinemount Baptist Church Cemetery Sante Fe Cemetery Sumner/Clardy Family Cemetery Swales Cemetery Union Baptist Church Cemetery United Oaks Cemetery Suwannee County Cemetery Records Hosted at Suwannee County Florida FLGenWeb Grant Cemetery Cedar Grove Cemetery United Oaks Cemetery O’Brien Cemetery Sumner/Clardy Cemetery Union Baptist Church Cemetery Suwannee County Cemetery Records Hosted at Mims and Tomlinson Ancestry Lost Cemetery of Suwannee...

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