Interviewer: Frank M. Smith
Person Interviewed: Melissa (Lowe) Barden
Location: Youngstown, Ohio
Place of Birth: Chattooga County, Georgia
Place of Residence: 1671 Jacobs Road
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Ex-Slaves Mahoning County, District #5 Youngstown, Ohio
The Story of MRS. MELISSA (LOWE) BARDEN, Youngstown, Ohio.
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 cataracts over her eyes which have caused her to be totally blind.