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Location: Africa

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...

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Slave Narrative of Andrew Simms

Person Interviewed: Andrew Simms Location: Sapulpa, Oklahoma Age: 80 My parents come over on a slave ship from Africa about twenty year before I was born on the William Driver plantation down in Florida. My folks didn’t know each other in Africa but my old Mammy told me she was captured by Negro slave hunters over there and brought to some coast town where the white buyers took her and carried her to America. She was kinder a young gal then and was sold to some white folks when the boat landed here. Dunno who they was. The same thing happen to my pappy. Must have been about the same time from the way they tells it. Maybe they was on the same boat, I dunno. They was traded around and then mammy was sold to William Driver. The plantation was down in Florida. Another white folks had a plantation close by. Mister Simms was the owner. Bill Simms – that’s the name pappy kept after the War. Somehow or other mammy and pappy meets ’round the place and the first thing happens they is in love. That’s what mammy say. And the next thing happen is me. They didn’t get married. The Master’s say it is alright for them to have a baby. They never gets married, even after the War. Just jumped the broomstick and goes to...

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Slave Narrative of Rev. Eli Boyd

Person Interviewed: Rev. Eli Boyd Location: Dade County, Florida Dade County, Florida, Folklore Ex-Slaves Reverend Eli Boyd was born May 29, 1864, four miles from Somerville, South Carolina on John Murray’s plantation. It was a large plantation with perhaps one hundred slaves and their families. As he was only a tiny baby when freedom came, he had no “recomembrance” of the real slavery days, but he lived on the same plantation for many years until his father and mother died in 1888. “I worked on the plantation just like they did in the real slavery days, only I received a small wage. I picked cotton and thinned rice. I always did just what they told me to do and didn’t ever get into any trouble, except once and that was my own fault. “You see it was this way. They gave me a bucket of thick clabber to take to the hogs. I was hungry and took the bucket and sat down behind the barn and ate every bit of it. I didn’t know it would make me sick, but was I sick? I swelled up so that I all but bust. They had to doctor on me. They took soot out of the chimney and mixed it with salt and made me take that. I guess they saved my life, for I was awful sick. “I never learned...

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Slave Narrative of Shack Thomas

Interviewer: Martin Richardson Person Interviewed: Shack Thomas Location: South Jacksonville, Florida Age: 102 Shack Thomas, Centenarian Beady-eyed, grey-whiskered, black little Shack Thomas sits in the sun in front of his hut on the Old Saint Augustine Road about three miles south of Jacksonville, 102 years old and full of humorous reminiscences about most of those years. To his frequent visitors he relates tales of his past, disjointedly sometimes but with a remarkable clearness and conviction. The old ex-slave does not remember the exact time of his birth, except that it was in the year 1834, “the day after the end of the Indian War.” He does not recall which of the Indian wars, but says that it was while there were still many Indians in West Florida who were very hard for him to understand when he got big enough to talk, to them. He was born, he says on “a great big place that b’longed to Mister Jim Campbell; I don’t know just exactly how big, but there was a lot of us working on it when I was a little fellow.” The place was evidently one of the plantations near Tallahassee; Thomas remembers that as soon as he was large enough he helped his parents and others raise “corn, peanuts, a little bit of cotton and potatoes. Squash just grew wild in the woods; we used to...

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Biography of Peter J. Filano

Peter J. Filano, residing three miles south of San Bernardino, is one of the oldest and most prosperous pioneers in the valley. He was born in the southern part of France, November 4, 1820, the oldest of a family of three children. When a young man he went to Africa, and for nine years engaged in the slave trade on the east and west coasts. In 1845 he sailed from Maca to China and took slaves, then from China to Salem, Massachusetts. He followed the sea for fifteen years. In 1848 he sailed from New York to New Orleans, and thence to St. Louis, from St. Louis to Council Bluffs by steamer, and there wintered. In the spring of 1849 he crossed by ox team to Salt Lake City, where he wintered, and the next spring started across the plains to California. Their train consisted of fifty-two wagons, under Captain Foote. They had a very prosperous journey, and in September 1852, they all arrived safely in San Bernardino, when there was but one building (the fort) in the place. His first purchase of land was 225 acres, where he has since been engaged as a general farmer and stock-raiser. He owned at one time 1,000 or more acres of land and kept several thousand fine sheep and cattle. He paid $5 per acre for his land and built the...

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