Discover your family's story.

Enter a grandparent's name to get started.

Start Now

Slave Narrative of James (Jim) Davis

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden Person interviewed: James Davis 1112 Indiana St. (owner), Pine Bluff, Ark. Age: 96 Occupation: Cotton farmer “This is what’s left of me. How old? Me? Now listen and let me tell you how ’twas. Old mistress put all our ages in the family Bible, and I was born on Christmas morning in 1840 in Raleigh, North Carolina. “My old master was Peter Davis and he was old Jeff Davis’ brother. There was eight of them brothers and every one of em was as rich as cream. “Old master was good to us. He said he wanted us singin’ and shoutin’ and workin’ in the field from morning to night. He fed us well and we had plenty good clothes to wear-heavy woolen clothes and good shoes in the winter time. When I was a young man I wore good clothes. “I served slavery about twenty-four years before peace was declared. We didn’t have a thing in God’s world to worry bout. Every darky old master had, he put woolen goods and good heavy shoes every winter. Oh, he was rich-had bout five or six thousand slaves. Oh, he had darkies aplenty. He run a hundred plows. “I went to work when I was seven pullin’ worms off tobacco, and I been workin’ ever since. But when I was comin’ up I had good times. I had better times than I ever had in my life. I used to be one of the best banjo pickers. I was good. Played for white folks and called figgers for em. In them days they said ‘promenade’, ‘sashay’, ‘swing...

Slave Narrative of Mrs. C. Hood

The Story of Mrs. C. Hood: Once upon a time during the Civil War my grandmother was alone with just one old faithful servant. The Union troops had just about taken everything she had, except three prize saddle horses and one coal black mare which she rode all the time. She was very fond of the mare and valued it very much. One night my grandmother heard a noise, and called old Joe to go to the barn and see what was the matter. As he was nearing the barn someone yelled “Halt”; and Joe being a black man and a servant, stopped just where he was. My grandmother, who had also heard the command, paid no attention whatsoever; she went straight through the dozen or more Union soldiers who were stealing her stock to the one who appeared to be the leader. He was holding her mare; she jerked the briddle from his hand, led her mare back to the kitchen door, where she held her the remainder of the night. A Story: When my mother was a girl she was staying with some kinfolks for one month. These people owned several slaves and among them was one old man-servant who was very old and had served out his usefulness. It was war time and food was scarce even for the white folks. The younger and stronger slaves got most of the food, and old Tom was always hungry. My mother finding this out, and feeling sorry for him would slip him bread and other food through a hole in the kitchen floor. A short time after this,...

Slave Narrative of Elphas P. Hylton

LAWRENCE CO. (Edna Lane Carter) Extract from the Civil War diary kept by Elphas P. Hylton, a Lawrence Co. volunteer in the Union Army. “On 17th of July (1864) I was detailed for picket duty and saw three thousand negro soldiers on a grand review, a black cloud to see. On the 18th I was relieved of duty. Here I became dissatisfied as a soldier on account of the negro, negro, negro. On the 23rd we began to get ready to leave this negro hole and on the 24th, to our great joy and gladness, we were sent into camp near...

Slave Narrative of Mr. McIntosh

LESLIE CO. (Viola Bowling) McIntosh was a very progressive farmer and had a large supply of food, being a Rebel of the Rebel Army camped at the mouth of this creek near his home where they could secure food. He had a slave called “Henry McIntosh” who was drafted into the Union Army. He did not want to go but his master told him, “Well Henry you will have to go, do not steal, nor lie and be good and when you get out come on back.” He did come back and stayed here until he died, he later married and was the father of “Ben McIntosh (colored) who later lived in Hyden for years. McIntosh did not have any help on his farm after this slave was taken away from him. So he let the youth of 16 years Mr. Wooton, come to his home and help him get wood and work about the place. McIntosh had another slave but gave him to his son-in-law John Hyden, who then lived one mile up Cutushin from the Mouth of McIntosh. He had a small store which was the first store in that...

Slave Narrative of W. B. Morgan

ANDERSON CO. (Mildred Roberts) Many of the following stories were related by Mr. W.B. Morgan who at one time owned and operated a livery barn. He hired several negroes to look after the horses and hacks, and remembers many funny tales about them and others: “Kie Coleman, one of my employees, was standing without the livery stable smoking a two-fer cigar that some one had given him. Another negro walked up to chat with him, and he reared back and said “Get away nigger, nothing but the rich can endure life.” “I was hauling grain for the distillery. One morning I came down to the barn, and Kie was too drunk to take his team out. I gave him a good going over about wasting his money that way instead of saving it for a decent funeral. This is one of the best ways to appeal to a darkey because if there is any thing they like it is a big funeral. “He just kinda staggered up to me and said “Boss, I don’t worry a bit about dat. White folks don’t like to smell a live nigger and I’se knows good and well da hain’t gwine to lebe no dead nigger laying on top of de groun’.” “I furnished the horses for the hearse, and one night I tole the boys to leave it in the stable because we were going to have another funeral the next day. “Each night one of the boys had to sleep in the office, and this particular night it was Bill’s turn. Bill was an old, one-legged negro and very superstitious. He...

Biography of Alfred Richardson

MARTIN CO. (Cullen Jude) In the year 1864, during the conflict between the North and South, a new citizen was added to the town of Warfield. His name was Alfred Richardson, a colored man. Heretofore the people would not permit negroes to live in Warfield. Richardson was in a skirmish at Warfield and was listed among the northern people as missing. His leg was injured and he was in a serious condition. The good people living at Warfield had their sympathies stirred up by his condition and took him in and gave him food and medical attention until he was able to work. At first the people thought they had done a Samaritan Act, but as soon as Alf had a chance to prove himself, he was considered a blessing and not a curse. He became the paper hanger for the town. Then someone wanted to have his hair cut and Alf proved to be an excellent barber. He rented a shop and went into the barber business and made a success. He owned considerable land, and other property when he died. He lived and died at Warfield Kentucky, and was considered one of its most up to date...

Slave Narrative of Sam and Louisa Everett

Sam and Louisa Everett, 86 and 90 years of age respectively, have weathered together some of the worst experiences of slavery, and as they look back over the years, can relate these experiences as clearly as if they had happened only yesterday. Both were born near Norfolk, Virginia and sold as slaves several times on nearby plantations. It was on the plantation of “Big Jim” McClain that they met as slave-children and departed after Emancipation to live the lives of free people. Sam was the son of Peter and Betsy Everett, field hands who spent long back-breaking hours in the cotton fields and came home at nightfall to cultivate their small garden. They lived in constant fear that their master would confiscate most of their vegetables; he so often did. Louisa remembers little about her parents and thinks that she was sold at an early age to a separate master. Her name as nearly as she could remember was Norfolk Virginia. Everyone called her “Nor.” It was not until after she was freed and had sent her children to school that she changed her name to Louisa. Sam and Norfolk spent part of their childhood on the plantation of “Big Jim” who was very cruel; often he would whip his slaves into insensibility for minor offences. He sometimes hung them up by their thumbs whenever they were caught attempting to escape – “er fer no reason atall.” On this plantation were more than 100 slaves who were mated indiscriminately and without any regard for family unions. If their master thought that a certain man and woman might have strong,...

Slave Narrative of Mrs. Duncan

WAYNE CO. (Gertrude Vogler) [Mrs. Duncan:] “After the War was over mammie’s old man did not want us with them, so he threatened to kill us. Then my old mammie fixed us a little bundle of what few clothes we had and started us two children out to go back to the Campbell family in Albany. The road was just a wilderness and full of wild animals and varmints. Mammie gave us some powder and some matches, telling us to put a little down in the road every little while and set fire to it. This would scare the wild animals away from us. “We got to the river at almost dark and some old woman set us across the river in a canoe. She let us stay all night wit her, and we went on to ‘Grandpap Campbells” (We always called him grandpap instead of master, as the others did.) When he saw us comin’ he said ‘Lawd have mercy here comes them poor little chillun’. “I stayed with them that time until I was big enough to be a house girl. Then I went to live with the Harrison family in Albany; and I lived with them till I married old Sam Duncan and come to Wayne County to live. I’ve raised a family of nine children and have thirty-seven grand children and twenty great grand children. “Every one of my children wears a silver dime on a string around their leg, to keep off the witches spell. One time, before my daughter Della got to wearing it, she was going down the road, not far from...

Slave Narrative of Aunt Adeline

“I was born a slave about 1848, in Hickmon County, Tennessee,” said Aunt Adeline who lives as care taker in a house at 101 Rock Street, Fayetteville, Arkansas, which is owned by the Blakely-Hudgens estate. Aunt Adeline has been a slave and a servant in five generations of the Parks family. Her mother, Liza, with a group of five Negroes, was sold into slavery to John P.A. Parks, in Tennessee, about 1840. “When my mother’s master come to Arkansas about 1849, looking for a country residence, he bought what was known as the old Kidd place on the Old Wire Road, which was one of the Stage Coach stops. I was about one year old when we came. We had a big house and many times passengers would stay several days and wait for the next stage to come by. It was then that I earned my first money. I must have been about six or seven years old. One of Mr. Parks’ daughters was about one and a half years older than I was. We had a play house back of the fireplace chimney. We didn’t have many toys; maybe a doll made of a corn cob, with a dress made from scraps and a head made from a roll of scraps. We were playing church. Miss Fannie was the preacher and I was the audience. We were singing “Jesus my all to Heaven is gone.” When we were half way through with our song we discovered that the passengers from the stage coach had stopped to listen. We were so frightened at our audience that we both...
Page 1 of 6712345678910...2030...Last »

Pin It on Pinterest