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Biography of Mrs. Hannah J. Olmstead

MRS. HANNAH J. OLMSTEAD. – Life upon the Pacific coast brings out the heroic qualities in women as well as in men. It is a social and conventional form which keeps them in the shadow of their husbands’ names. But everybody knows that the greater part of the incentive which a man has to win a position or a fortune comes from his wife. It has long been remarked that the women in the immigrant trains showed more pluck than the men; and many a dispirited husband was cheered up and almost carried through by his brave better half. Delicate women, not used to severe work, would wield the axe or the ox-whip when it fell from stronger hands, and in case of the loss of their companions could take care of their children. Mrs. Olmstead is one of these women, – a lady who can run a farm, transact her own business, and provide for and educate her children. She lives at Walla Walla, Washington, and owns her home. She is a native of South Salem, New York, was born in 1835, and is the daughter of Lewis and Eliza Keeler, well-to-do farmers, who, by the way, are still living, and are now eighty-one and seventy-six years old, respectively. In 1851 Miss Hannah was married to Daniel H. Olmstead, of Port Huron. Soon after their nuptials he was led to the Pacific coast by the California gold excitement. Like the most of the gold-hunters, Mr. Olmstead expected to make his fortune in a few months, – in a year at the longest, – and then go home to...

Biographical Sketch of Mrs. T. R. Padgett

Rena Anderson, born near Pryor, November 5, 1887. Educated locally. Married August 29, 1906 T. F. Padgett, born November 2, 1885 in Morgan County, Missouri. They are the parents of: Jessie Bluford, born June 21. 1907; Nolan Floyd, born December 29, 1915; Nellie Edith, born July 5, 1917 and Alma Rena Padgett, born September 7, 1920. Mrs. Padgett is the daughter of Rufus Anderson, born February 27, 1853 in Illinois and Melvina (Wayburn) Anderson born January 17, 1859 in...

Slave Narrative of Mrs. Hockaday

Interviewer: Archie Koritz Person Interviewed: Mrs. Hockaday Location: Gary, Indiana Place of Residence: 2591 Madison Street, Gary, Indiana Archie Koritz, Field Worker Federal Writers’ Project Porter County-District #1 Valparaiso, Indiana EX-SLAVES MRS. HOCKADAY 2581 Madison Street Gary, Indiana Mrs. Hockaday is the daughter of an ex-slave and like so many others does not care to discuss the dark side of slavery and the cruel treatment that some of them received. After the Civil War the slaves who for the most part were unskilled and ignorant, found it very difficult to adjust themselves to their new life as free persons. Formerly, they lived on the land of their masters and although compelled to work long hours, their food and lodging were provided for them. After their emancipation, this life was changed. They were free and had to think for themselves and make a living. Times for the negro then was much the same as during the depression. Several of the slaves started out to secure jobs, but all found it difficult to adjust themselves to the new life and difficult to secure employment. Many came back to their old owners and many were afraid to leave and continued on much as before. The north set up stores or relief stations where the negro who was unable to secure employment could obtain food and shelter. Mrs. Hockaday says it was the same as conditions have been the last few years. About all the negro was skilled at was servant work and when they came north, they encountered the same difficulties as several of the colored folks who, driven by the terrible...

Biography of Mrs. Laura E. Newell

The gift of poetry, that beautiful art which is the product of the imaginative powers and fancy and bears an appeal to these powers, perhaps dumb, in others, sets a little apart its possessor from the everyday experiences of the majority. That its highest development, however, by no means interferes with life’s duties and responsibilities, finds proof in the career of Mrs. Laura E. Newell, a sweet singer of Kansas, who had written some of the most touching and the most inspiring poems of her day and generation. Mrs. Newell was born at New Marlborough, Connecticut, February 5, 1854. In infancy she was left an orphan and after the death of her mother, her aunt, Mrs. Hiram Mabie, adopted and reared her, Mr. and Mrs. Mabie residing then in the State of New York. They came to Kansas in 1858, Mrs. Newell then being but four years old. Mr. Mabie settled at Wamega, in Waubansie County and died there in 1860. Mrs. Mabie was a highly educated lady, holding a life teacher’s certificate granted her by New York, and after Mr. Mabie’s death she resumed school teaching in Kansas, in 1860 becoming an instructor in the Village of Topeka, teaching the second school organized, and taught at Topeka for many succeeding years. Subsequently she was married to J. W. Emerson, a native of Massachusetts and a veteran of the Civil war. Under the tutoring of her accomplished aunt, Mrs. Newell made rapid progress in her studies, but her poetieal gift did not need arousing, only loving and appreciative directing. She was but twelve years old when she wrote acceptable...

Slave Narrative of Mrs. Heyburn

Interviewer: Ruby Garten Person Interviewed: Mrs. Heyburn Location: Union County, Kentucky (These two stories were told by Mrs. Heyburn as she remembered them from her grandmother). “When the War was going on between the States and the Confederate soldiers had gone south, the Yankee soldiers came through. There was a little negro slave boy living on the farm and he had heard quite a bit about the Yankees, so one day they happened to pass through where he could see them and he rushed into the house and said, “Miss Lulu, I saw a Yankee, and he was a man.” “I remember the slaves on my grandfather’s farm. After they were freed they asked him to keep them because they didn’t want to leave. He told them they could stay and one of the daughters of the slaves was married in the kitchen of my grandfather’s house. After the wedding they set supper for them. Some of the slave owners were very good to their slaves; but some whipped them until they made gashes in their backs and would put salt in the...

Slave Narrative of Mrs. M. S. Fayman

Interviewer: Rogers Person Interviewed: Mrs. M. S. Fayman Location: Baltimore, Maryland Place of Birth: St. Nazaire Parish LA Date of Birth: 1850 Reference: Personal interview with Mrs. Fayman, at her home, Cherry Heights near Baltimore, Md. “I was born in St. Nazaire Parish in Louisiana, about 60 miles south of Baton Rouge, in 1850. My father and mother were Creoles, both of them were people of wealth and prestige in their day and considered very influential. My father’s name was Henri de Sales and mother’s maiden name, Marguerite Sanchez De Haryne. I had two brothers Henri and Jackson named after General Jackson, both of whom died quite young, leaving me the only living child. Both mother and father were born and reared in Louisiana. We lived in a large and spacious house surrounded by flowers and situated on a farm containing about 750 acres, on which we raised pelicans for sale in the market at New Orleans. “When I was about 5 years old I was sent to a private School in Baton Rouge, conducted by French sisters, where I stayed until I was kidnapped in 1860. At that time I did not know how to speak English; French was the language spoken in my household and by the people in the parish. “Baton Rouge, situated on the Mississippi, was a river port and stopping place for all large river boats, especially between New Orleans and large towns and cities north. We children were taken out by the sisters after school and on Saturdays and holidays to walk. One of the places we went was the wharf. One day...

Slave Narrative of Mrs. Celestia Avery

Interviewer: Ross Person Interviewed: Celestia Avery Location: Georgia Place of Birth: Troupe County, LaGrange GA Age: 75 “A Few Facts Of Slavery” As Told By Celestia Avery—ex-Slave [MAY 8 1937] Mrs. Celestia Avery is a small mulatto woman about 5 ft. in height. She has a remarkably clear memory in view of the fact that she is about 75 years of age. Before the interview began she reminded the writer that the facts to be related were either told to her by her grandmother, Sylvia Heard, or were facts which she remembered herself. Mrs. Avery was born 75 years ago in Troupe County, LaGrange, Ga. the eighth oldest child of Lenora and Silas Heard. There were 10 other children beside herself. She and her family were owned by Mr. & Mrs. Peter Heard. In those days the slaves carried the surname of their master; this accounted for all slaves having the same name whether they were kin or not. The owner Mr. Heard had a plantation of about 500 acres and was considered wealthy by all who knew him. Mrs. Avery was unable to give the exact number of slaves on the plantation, but knew he owned a large number. Cotton, corn, peas, potatoes, (etc.) were the main crops raised. The homes provided for the slaves were two room log cabins which had one door and one window. These homes were not built in a group together but were more or less scattered over the plantation. Slave homes were very simple and only contained a home made table, chair and bed which were made of the same type of...

Slave Narrative of Mrs. Melissa (Lowe) Barden

Interviewer: Frank M. Smith Person Interviewed: Melissa (Lowe) Barden Location: Youngstown, Ohio Place of Residence: 1671 Jacobs Road Mrs. Melissa (Lowe) Barden of 1671 Jacobs Road, was “bred and born” on the plantation of David Lowe, near Summersville, Georgia, Chattooga County, and when asked how old she was said “I’s way up yonder somewheres maybe 80 or 90 years.” Melissa assumed her master’s name Lowe, and says he was very good to her and that she loved him. Only once did she feel ill towards him and that was when he sold her mother. She and her sister were left alone. Later he gave her sister and several other slaves to his newly married daughter as a wedding present. This sister was sold and re-sold and when the slaves were given their freedom her mother came to claim her children, but Melissa was the only one of the four she could find. Her mother took her to a plantation in Newton County, where they worked until coming north. The mother died here and Melissa married a man named Barden. Melissa says she was very happy on the plantation where they danced and sang folk songs of the South, such as “Sho’ Fly Go ‘Way From Me”, and others after their days work was done. When asked if she objected to having her picture taken she said, “all right, but don’t you-all poke fun at me because I am just as God made me.” Melissa lives with her daughter, Nany Hardie, in a neat bungalow on the Sharon Line, a Negro district. Melissa’s health is good with the exception of...

Slave Narrative of Mrs. Hannah Davidson

Interviewer: K. Osthimer Person Interviewed: Hannah Davidson Location: Toledo, Ohio Place of Birth: Ballard County, Kentucky Date of Birth: 1852 Place of Residence: 533 Woodland Avenue, Toledo, Ohio Mrs. Hannah Davidson occupies two rooms in a home at 533 Woodland Avenue, Toledo, Ohio. Born on a plantation in Ballard County, Kentucky, in 1852, she is today a little, white haired old lady. Dark, flashing eyes peer through her spectacles. Always quick to learn, she has taught herself to read. She says, “I could always spell almost everything.” She has eagerly sought education. Much of her ability to read has been gained from attendance in recent years in WPA “opportunity classes” in the city. Today, this warm hearted, quiet little Negro woman ekes out a bare existence on an old age pension of $23.00 a month. It is with regret that she recalls the shadows and sufferings of the past. She says, “It is best not to talk about them. The things that my sister May and I suffered were so terrible that people would not believe them. It is best not to have such things in our memory.” “My father and mother were Isaac and Nancy Meriwether,” she stated. “All the slaves went under the name of my master and mistress, Emmett and Susan Meriwether. I had four sisters and two brothers. There was Adeline, Dorah, Alice, and Lizzie. My brothers were Major and George Meriwether. We lived in a log cabin made of sticks and dirt, you know, logs and dirt stuck in the cracks. We slept on beds made of boards nailed up. “I don’t remember anything...

Slave Narrative of Mrs. Phoebe Bost

Interviewer: Frank Smith Person Interviewed: Phoebe Bost Location: Campbell, Ohio Place of Birth: Louisiana Place of Residence: 3461 Wilson Avenue, Campbell, Ohio Youngstown, Ohio. Mrs. Phoebe Bost, was born on a plantation in Louisiana, near New Orleans. She does not know her exact age but says she was told, when given her freedom that she was about 15 years of age. Phoebe’s first master was a man named Simons, who took her to a slave auction in Baltimore, where she was sold to Vaul Mooney (this name is spelled as pronounced, the correct spelling not known.) When Phoebe was given her freedom she assummed the name of Mooney, and went to Stanley County, North Carolina, where she worked for wages until she came north and married to Peter Bost. Phoebe claims both her masters were very mean and would administer a whipping at the slightest provocation. Phoebe’s duties were that of a nurse maid. “I had to hol’ the baby all de time she slept” she said “and sometimes I got so sleepy myself I had to prop ma’ eyes open with pieces of whisks from a broom.” She claims there was not any recreation, such as singing and dancing permitted at this plantation. Phoebe, who is now widowed, lives with her daughter, in part of a double house, at 3461 Wilson Avenue, Campbell, Ohio. Their home is fairly well furnished and clean in appearance. Phoebe is of slender stature, and is quite active in spite of the fact that she is nearing her...
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