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Slave Narrative of Alice Lewis

Interviewer: Ellen B. Warfield Person Interviewed: Alice Lewis Location: Baltimore, Maryland Place of Birth: Wilkes County, Georgia Age: 84 (Alice Lewis, ex-slave, 84, years old, in charge of sewing-room at Provident Hospital (Negro), Baltimore. Tall, slender, erect, her head crowned by abundant snow white wool, with a fine carriage and an air of poise mud self respect good to behold, Alice belies her 84 years.) “Yes’m, I was born in slavery, I don’t look it, but I was! Way down in Wilkes County, Georgia, nigh to a little town named Washington which ain’t so far from Augusta. My pappy, he belong to the Alexanders, and my mammy, she belong to the Wakefiel’ plantation and we all live with the Wakefiel’s. No ma’am, none of the Wakefiel’ niggers ever run away. They was too well off! They knew who they friends was! My white folkses was good to their niggers! Them was the days when we had good food and it didn’t cost nothing—chickens and hogs and garden truck. Saturdays was the day we got our ‘lowance for the week, and lemme tell you, they didn’t stint us none. The best in the land was what we had, jest what the white folkses had. “Clothes? yes’m. We had two suits of clothes, a winter suit and a summer suit and two pairs of shoes, a winter pair and a summer pair. Yes’m, my mammy, she spin the cotton, yes’m picked right on the plantation, yes’m, cotton picking was fun, believe me! As I was saying, Mammy she spin and she wears the cloth, and she cut it out and she...

Slave Narrative of Mariah Callaway

Interviewer: Ross Person Interviewed: Mariah Callaway Location: Georgia [TR: A significant portion of this interview was repeated in typescript; where there was a discrepancy, the clearer version was used. Where a completely different word was substituted, ‘the original’ refers to the typewritten page.] Mrs. Mariah Callaway sat in a chair opposite the writer and told her freely of the incidents of slavery as she remembered them. To a casual observer it will come as a surprise to know the woman was blind. She is quite old, but her thoughts were clearly and intelligently related to the writer. Mrs. Callaway was born in Washington, Wilkes County, Georgia probably during the year 1852, as she estimated her age to be around 12 or 13 years when freedom was declared. She does not remember her mother and father, as her mother died the second day after she was born, so the job of rearing her and a small brother fell on her grandmother, Mariah Willis, for whom she was named. Mrs. Callaway stated that the old master, Jim Willis, kept every Negro’s age in a Bible: but after he died the Bible was placed upstairs in the gallery and most of the pages were destroyed. The following is a story of the purchase of Mrs. Callaway’s grandfather as related by her. “My grandfather come directly from Africa and I never shall forget the story he told us of how he and other natives were fooled on board a ship by the white slave traders using red handkerchiefs as enticement. When they reached America, droves of them were put on the block and...

Slave Narrative of Alice Bradley

Interviewer: Grace McCune Person Interviewed: Alice Bradley Location: Athens, Georgia Alice Bradley, or “Aunt Alice” as she is known to everybody, “runs cards” and claims to be a seeress. Apologetic and embarrassed because she had overslept and was straightening her room, she explained that she hadn’t slept well because a dog had howled all night and she was uneasy because of this certain forerunner of disaster. “Here t’is Sunday mornin’ and what wid my back, de dog, and de rheumatics in my feets, its [TR: ‘done’ crossed out] too late to go to church, so come in honey I’se glad to hab somebody to talk to. Dere is sho’ goin’ to be a corpse close ’round here. One night a long time ago two dogs howled all night long and on de nex’ Sunday dere wuz two corpses in de church at de same time. Dat’s one sign dat neber fails, when a dog howls dat certain way somebody is sho’ goin’ to be daid.” When asked what her full name was, she said: “My whole name is Alice Bradley now. I used to be a Hill, but when I married dat th’owed me out of bein’ a Hill, so I’se jus’ a Bradley now. I wuz born on January 14th but I don’t ‘member what year. My ma had three chillun durin’ de war and one jus’ atter de war. I think dat las’ one wuz me, but I ain’t sho’. My pa’s name wuz Jim Hill, and ma’s name wuz Ca’line Hill. Both of ’em is daid now. Pa died October 12, 1896 and wuz 88 years...

Slave Narrative of Willis Cofer

Interviewer: Grace McCune Person Interviewed: Willis Cofer Location: Athens, Georgia Willis was enjoying the warm sunshine of an April morning as he sat on his small porch. Apparently, he was pleased because someone actually wanted to hear him talk about himself. His rheumatism had been painful ever since that last bad cold had weakened him, but he felt sure the sunshine would “draw out all the kinks.” Having observed the amenities in regard to health and weather, the old man proceeded with his story: “Eden and Calline Cofer was my pa and ma and us all lived on de big old Cofer plantation ’bout five miles from Washin’ton, Wilkes. Pa b’longed to Marse Henry Cofer and ma and us chillun wuz de property of Marse Henry’s father, Marse Joe Cofer. “I wuz borned in 1860, and at one time I had three brudders, but Cato and John died. My oldest brudder, Ben Cofer, is still livin’ and a-preachin’ de Gospel somewhar up Nawth. “Chilluns did have de bestes’ good times on our plantation, ’cause Old Marster didn’t ‘low ’em to do no wuk ’til dey wuz 12 years old. Us jus’ frolicked and played ’round de yard wid de white chilluns, but us sho’ did evermore have to stay in dat yard. It wuz de cook’s place to boss us when de other Niggers wuz off in de fields, and evvy time us tried to slip off, she cotch us and de way dat ‘oman could burn us up wid a switch wuz a caution. “Dere warn’t no schools for us to go to, so us jes’ played ’round....

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