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Slave Narrative of Arnold Gragston

Interviewer: Martin Richardson Person Interviewed: Arnold Gragston Location: Eatonville, Florida Age: 97 (Verbatim interview with Arnold Gragston, 97-year old ex-slave whose early life was spent helping slaves to freedom across the Ohio River, while he, himself, remained in bondage. As he put it, he guessed he could be called a ‘conductor’ on the underground railway, only we didn’t call it that then. I don’t know as we called it anything – we just knew there was a lot of slaves always a-wantin’ to get free, and I had to help ’em.”) “Most of the slaves didn’t know when they was born, but I did. You see, I was born on a Christmas mornin’ – it was in 1840; I was a full grown man when I finally got my freedom.” “Before I got it, though, I helped a lot of others get theirs. Lawd only knows how many; might have been as much as two-three hundred. It was ‘way more than a hundred, I know. “But that all came after I was a young man – ‘grown’ enough to know a pretty girl when I saw one, and to go chasing after her, too. I was born on a plantation that b’long to Mr. Jack Tabb in Mason County, just across the river in Kentucky.” “Mr. Tabb was a pretty good man. He used to beat us, sure; but not nearly so much as others did, some of his own kin people, even. But he was kinda funny sometimes; he used to have a special slave who didn’t have nothin’ to do but teach the rest of us –...

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