Location: Nashville Tennessee

Slave Narrative of Ellis Ken Kannon

Person Interviewed: Ellis Ken Kannon Location: Nashville, Tennessee Place of Residence: 318 5th Avenue N., St. Mary’s Church, Nashville, Tennessee “I dunno jes how ole I ez. I wuz bawn in Tennessee as a slave. Mah mammy kum frum Virginia. Our marster wuz Ken Kannon.” “Our Mistress wouldn’t let us slaves be whup’d but I member mah daddy tellin’ ’bout de Overseer whuppin’ ‘im en he run ‘way en hid in a log. He tho’t de blood hounds, he heered ’bout a half mile ‘way, on his trail could heer ‘im breathe but de hounds nebber fin’ ‘im. Atter de hounds pas’ on, mah daddy lef’ de log hidin’ place en w’en he got ter a blacksmith shop, he se’ed a white man wid a nigger who had handcuffs on en w’en de white man tuk off de handcuffs, de nigger axed mah daddy whar he wuz gwine en he tole ‘im back ter mah Mistress en de nigger sezs I ez too. Mah daddy slipped ‘way fum ‘im en went home.” “W’en I wuz a young boy, I didn’t wear nothin’ but a shirt lak all urthur boys en hit wuz a long thing lak a slip dat kum ter our knees. Our Mistress had a big fier place en w’en we would kum in cole she would say ain’t you all cole. (You all was always used...

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Slave Narrative of Emma Grisham

Person Interviewed: Emma Grisham Location: Nashville, Tennessee Place of Residence: 1118 Jefferson St., Nashville, Tennessee Age: 90s “I wuz bawn in Nashville. I’se up in 90 y’ars, but I tell dem I’se still young. I lived on Gallatin Pike long ‘fore de war, an uster se’d de soldiers ride by.” “Mah marsters name wuz Wm. Penn Harding. Mah daddy wuz sold at Sparta, Tennessee ‘fore I wuz bawn en Marster Harding bought ‘im. Mah mammy erready ‘longed ter de Hardings.” “I don’ member much ’bout slavery I wuz small, but I know I wore a leetle ole slip wid two er three bottons in frunt. Mammy would wash me en I’d go out frunt en play wid de white chilluns.” “W’en de fightin’ got so heavy mah white peeple got sum Irish peeple ter live on de plantation, en dey went south, leavin’ us wid de Irish peeple.” “I wuz leetle en I guess I didn’t think much ’bout freedum, I’d allus had plenty ter eat en w’ar.” “Dunno ob any slaves gittin’ nuthin at freedum.” “Our white folks didn’t whup mah peeple; but de oberseers whup’d de slaves on uther plantations.” “De Yankees had camps on de Capitol hill. En dere wuz soldier camps in east Nashville en you had ter hab a pass ter git thro?” “I member w’en de pen wuz on 15th en Chuch, en...

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Slave Narrative of Jenny Greer

Person Interviewed: Jenny Greer Location: Nashville, Tennessee Place of Birth: Florence, Alabama Age: 84 Place of Residence: 706 Overton Street, Nashville, Tennessee “Am 84 y’ars ole en wuz bawn in Florence, Alabama, ’bout seben miles fum town. Wuz bawn on de Collier plantashun en Marster en Missis wuz James en Jeanette Collier. Mah daddy en mammy wuz named Nelson en Jane Collier. I wuz named atter one ob mah Missis’ daughters. Our family wuz neber sold er divided.” “I’se bin ma’ied once. Ma’ied Neeley Greer. Thank de Lawd I aint got no chilluns. Chilluns ez so bad now I can’t stand dem ter save mah life.” “Useter go ter de bap’isin’s en dey would start shoutin’ en singin’ w’en we lef’ de chuch. Went ter deze bap’isin’s in Alabama, Memphis, en ‘yer in Nashville. Lawdy hab mercy, how we useter sing. Only song I members ez ‘De Ole Time ‘ligion.’ I useter go ter camp meetin’s. Eve’rbody had a jolly time, preachin’, shoutin’ en eatin’ good things.” “We didn’t git a thing w’en we wuz freed. W’en dey said we wuz free mah people had ter look out fer demselves.” “Don’ member now ’bout K.K.K. er ‘structshun days. Mah mammy useter tell us a lot ob stories but I’se fergot dem. I’se neber voted en dunno ob any frens bein’ in office.” “No mam, no mam, don’t b’leeve in...

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Slave Narrative of Precilla Gray

Person Interviewed: Precilla Gray Location: Nashville, Tennessee Place of Birth: Williamson County TN Age: 107 Place of Residence: 807 Ewing Ave., Nashville, Tenn. I think I’se 107 Y’ars ole. Wuz bawn in Williamson County ‘fore de Civil wah. Guess de reason I hab libed so long wuz cose I tuk good keer ob mahself en wore warm clo’es en still do, w’ar mah yarn pettycoats now. Hab had good health all mah life. Hab tuk very lettle medicine en de wust sickness I eber had wuz small-pox. I’se bin a widah ’bout 70 y’ars. Mah mammy d’ed w’en I wuz young but mah daddy libed ter be 103 y’ars ole. I nebber went ter schul a day in mah life, ma’ied ‘fore freedum en w’en I got free, had ter wuk all de time ter mek a libin’ fer mah two chillen. One libes in California en I lives wid de uther, tergedder wid mah great, great, grandson, five y’ars ole, in Nashville. Mah fust marster en missis wuz Amos en Sophia Holland en he made a will dat we slaves wuz all ter be kep’ among de fam’ly en I wuz heired fum one fam’ly ter ‘nother. Wuz owned under de “will” by Haddas Holland, Missis Mary Haddock en den Missis Synthia Ma’ied Sam Pointer en I libed wid her ’til freedum wuz ‘clared. Mah fust mistress had...

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Slave Narrative of Frankie Goole

Person Interviewed: Frankie Goole Location: Nashville, Tennessee Place of Birth:┬áSmith County TN Age: 84 Place of Residence: 204 5th Ave. So, Nashville, Tennessee “I wuz bawn in Smith County on uther side ob Lebanon. Ah’ll be 85 y’ars ole Christmas Day. Mah ole Missis wuz named Sallie, en mah Marster wuz George Waters. Mah mammy’s name wuz Lucindia, she wuz sold fum me w’en I wuz six weeks ole, en mah Missis raised me. I allus slept wid her. Mah Missis wuz good ter me, but (her son) mah Marster whup’d me. Dunno ob any ex-slaves votin’ er holdin’ office ob any kin. I member de Ku Klux Klan en Pat-a-rollers. Dey would kum ‘roun en whup de niggers wid a bull whup. Ef’n dey met a niggah on de road dey’d say, “Whar ez you gwin dis time ob mawnin’?” De slaves would say, “We ez gwine ovuh ‘yer ter stay aw’ile,” en den dey would start beatin’ dem. I’se stod in our do’er en ‘yeard de hahd licks, en screams ob de ones dat wuz bein’ whup’d, en I’d tell mah Missis, “Listen ter dat!” She would say, “See, dat ez w’at will happen ter you ef’n you try ter leave.” I member one nite a Ku Klux Klan rode up ter our do’er. I tole mah Missis sum body wuz at de do’er wantin’ ter know...

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Slave Narrative of Narcissus Young

Person Interviewed: Narcissus Young Location: Nashville, Tennessee Age: 96 Place of Residence: Rear 532 1st Street. No., Nashville, Tennessee “I’se 96 y’ars ole. Bawn in slavery en mah marster wuz Isham Lamb en mah missis wuz Martha Lamb. Mah mammy d’ed w’en I wuz three y’ars ole en I wuz raised in de house ’til I wuz big ’nuff ter wuk out in de fiels wid de uthers. Mah missis l’arn me ter sew, weav en spin. I also he’lped ter cook en wuk in de house. Atter I got big’er I went ter chuch wid mah white folks en had ter set wid urther slaves in dat part ob de chuch whar nobody but slaves would be ‘lowed. In slavery I’se git no money fer wuk’n but I don’ steal as mah white folks sho gib me en de uther slaves plenty good things ter eat. Clothes good ’nuff fer anybody, candy, en we went ter parties en urther places, en w’at else could I’se wan’?” “Mah missis l’arned me ter pray, “Now I lay me down ter sleep. I pray de Lawd mah soul ter keep, but if I should die ‘fore I wake, I pray de Lawd mah soul ter tek.” I jined de Primitive Baptist Chuch w’ile young en b’en dere ebe’y since.” “I member de ole song back dere, “Rock a Bye Baby, Yo...

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Slave Narrative of Rachel Gaines

Person Interviewed: Rachel Gaines Location: Nashville, Tennessee Place of Residence: 1025 10th Ave. N., Nashville, Tennessee Age: 95-100 “Lawdy! I’se dunno how ole I ez. B’leeves I’se ’round 95 ter 100 y’ars. De fust thing I members ez I wuz tuk in a waggin ter Trenton, Kentucky en sold ter Dr. Bainbridge Dickerson jest lak dey sold cows en hosses. Mah sistah wuz sold in de same way at Bowling Green, Kentucky ter ‘nuther Marster.” “I wuz sold only one time in mah life en dat wuz w’en Marster Dickinson bought me. Atter freedum wuz ‘clared de Marster tole all his slaves dat dey could go wharever’y dey pleased but ef’n dey couldn’t mek dere own livin’ ter kum ter ‘im en he would he’ps dem.” “Missus Dickinson kep’ me dere kaze I wuz nuss ter dere son Howard who wuz sho a wild one. I member how he would tote out fried chicken, pig meat en uthuh good stuff ter us darkies. Dey ‘greed ter pay me $35.00 a yeah (en keep) en hit wuz gib me eve’y Christmus mawning. Dey treated me good, gib me all de clothes en uthuh things I needed ez ef’n I wuz one ob de fam’ly.” “Eve’y two weeks de Marster would sen’ fer Jordan McGowan who wuz de leader ob a string music ban’. Dey would git dere Friday nite early...

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Slave Narrative of Sylvia Watkins

Person Interviewed: Sylvia Watkins Location: Nashville, Tennessee Place of Birth: Bedford County TN Age: 91 Place of Residence: 411 14th Avenue N., Nashville, Tennessee I’se said ter be 91 y’ars ole. I wuz young w’en de War wuz goin’ on. I wuz bawn in Bedford County. Mah mammy wuz named Mariah. She had six chillun by mah daddy en three by her fust husband. Mah missis wuz named Emily Hatchet en de young missises wuz Mittie en Bettie, dey wuz twins. We had good clothes ter w’ar en w’en we went ter de table hit wuz loaded wid good food en we could set down en eat our stomachs full. Oh Lawd I wish dem days wuz now so I’d hab sum good food. Ob course, we had ter wuk in de fiel’s en mek w’at we et. Wen we’d finish our day’s wuk our missis would let us go out en play hide en seek, Puss in de corner, en diff’ent games. Mah mammy wuz sold in Virginia w’en she wuz a gurl. She sezs ‘bou 60 ob em wuz put in de road en druv down ‘yer by a slave trader, lak a bunch ob cattle. Mah mammy en two ob mah sistahs wuz put on a block, sold en carried ter Alabama. We neber ‘yeard fum dem nomo’, en dunno whar dey ez. I wuz willed...

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Slave Narrative of Dan Thomas

Person Interviewed: Dan Thomas Location: Nashville, Tennessee Place of Birth: Memphis, Tennessee Date of Birth: 1847 Place of Residence: 904 Jefferson Street, Nashville, Tennessee “I wuz bawn in slavery in 1847 at Memphis, Tennessee en mah marster wuz Deacon Allays. Mah mammy wuz de cook at de big house. Mah mammy d’ed soon atter I wuz bawn, en de Missis had me raised on a bottle. Marster en Missis treatus all dere slaves kindly en plenty ter eat en eve’y one wuz happy. I dunno nuthin ’bout mah daddy er whar he went. I hab no kin in dis worl’. All I eber yeard wuz dat all mah folks kum fum Africa. Mah Missis would tell me dat I mus’ be good en mine en eberbody will lak’ you en ef she d’ed, dey would tek keer ob me. Dat ez w’at dey hab don.” “I wuked ’round de house ‘tel I wuz ’bout ten y’ars ole en de Marster put me ter wuk in his big whiskey house. W’en I got ’bout 21 y’ars ole, I would go out ter collect bills fum Marster’s customers en hit tuk me ’bout a week ter git all ’round. I wuzn’t ‘lowed ter tek money but had ter git dere checks. I also wuked 18 y’ars as bar tender. Marster en Mistress d’ed ’bout four y’ars ‘fore whiskey went out ob...

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Slave Narrative of Cecelia Chappel

Person Interviewed: Cecelia Chappel Location: Nashville, Tennessee Place of Birth: Marshall County, Tennessee Age: 102 Place of Residence: 705 Allison Street, Nashville, Tenn. “I’se bawn in Marshall County, Tennessee. I’m de olest ob ten chilluns en I’se 102 ya’rs ole. I feels lak I’se bin ‘yer longer dan dat. Mah mammy wuz brought ter Nashville en sold ter sum peeple dat tuck her ter Mississippi ter live.” “Mah Marster en Missus wuz named Bob en Nancy Lord. Eve’y slave had ter say Missus en Marster en also ter de white babies. I still says hit, en ef I kum ter yo do’r, I nebber kums in ’till you ax me. Lots ob mah folks seze ter me dat I ez too ole fash’on en I seze I don’ keer I wuz raised wid manners en too ole ter change.” “Our Marster gib us good food en clothes. I wuz l’arnt how ter nit, weav, sew en spin. On rainy days we wuz gib a certain ‘mount ob weavin’ ter do en had ter git hit don’. I dunno how ter read er rite. De white folks didn’ ‘low us ter l’arn nuthin’. I declar’ you bettuh not git kotch wid a papah in you han’. Ef I had half a chance lak you chilluns hab, I’d go ter bed wid mah books.” “Our Marster ‘lowed us ter go ter...

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Slave Narrative of Julia Casey

Person Interviewed: Julia Casey Location: Nashville, Tennessee Place of Birth: Tennessee Place of Residence: 811 9th Avenue, So., Nashville, Tennessee I wuz bawn in West Tennessee en wuz six y’ars ole w’en war broke out. Mah Missis wuz Miss Jennie McCullough en she ma’ried Eldridge Casey. Mah Missis’s mammy wuz a widder en she gib me, mah mammy, man sistah Violet, mah two br’ers Andrew en Alfred ter Miss Jennie fer a wed’un gif’. Missis Jennie en Marster Eldridge brung us ter Nashville ‘fore de war sta’ted. Mah Missis wuz good ter us. I’se bin w’ll tuk keer ob, plenty ter eat en warm clothes ter w’ar. Right now I’se got on long underw’ar en mah chemise. Mah mammy d’ed fust y’ar ob freedum. Dey tuk her ‘way in a two-hoss waggin, ’bout four o’clock one evenin’. Dere wuz no hurses er caskets den. W’en mah mammy d’ed, I still stayed wid Missis Jennie. She raised me. Dat’s why folks say I’se so peculiar. De Yankee soldiers tuk mah sistah en two br’ers ‘way durin’ de war. I ez de mammy ob seven chilluns. All d’ed now but one. Mah white folks didn’t send me ter schul but I’se l’arned a few things ob how ter act. Don’t ax me ’bout der young people. Dey ez pas’ me. No manners ‘tall. In slavery days you didn’t hab ter worry...

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Slave Narrative of Rev. John Moore

Person Interviewed: Rev. John Moore Location: Nashville, Tennessee Place of Birth: Georgia Place of Residence: 809 7th Avenue So., Nashville, Tennessee “I wuz bawn in Georgia (exact time not known) en mah mammy wuz half Indian en mah daddy a slave. Both ob dem owned by William Moore. Sum time atter dat Marster Moore sold mah daddy en den de Moore Sistuhs looked atter me en wuz allus good ter me. “Lawdy, dey wuz good white folks.” “Durin’ slavery times de slaves would hab ter git fum dere marster a pas’ ‘fore dey could visit dere own people on de uther plantations. Ef’n you had no pass you would git in trouble ef caught wid out one which allus ment a good whuppin’ w’en dey returned. At dat time menny slaves would run ‘way en hide in caves en menny ob dem would go by de “ondergroun’ railroad” ter Canada whar slavery wuz not recognized.” (The underground railroad consisted of hiding places throughout the states to Canada and the slaves would make the trip under cover from station to station.) “De slaves would slip out at nite ter private meetin’s en turn a pot bottom up on de groun’ en leave a little hole under hit so de sound ob dere talkin’ would go onder de pot en no one would ‘year whut dey wuz talkin’ ’bout.” “De ex-slaves...

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Slave Narrative of Ann Matthews

Person Interviewed: Ann Matthews Location: Nashville, Tennessee Place of Birth: Murfreesboro, Tennessee Place of Residence: 719 9th Ave. South, Nashville, Tennessee “I wuz bawn in Murfreesboro on Stones River. I dunno how ole I ez en hit meks me ‘shamed ter tell peeple dat, but mah mammy would hit me in de mouth w’en I’d ax how ole I wuz. She say I wuz jes’ tryin’ ter be grown.” “Mah mammy’s name wuz Frankie en mah daddy wuz Henry Ken Kannon. Don’ member much ’bout mah mammy ‘cept she wuz a sho’t fat Indian ‘oman wid a turrible tempah. She d’ed, durin’ de war, wid black measles.” “Mah daddy wuz part Indian en couldn’t talk plain. W’en he go ter de store he’d hab ter put his han’ on w’at he want ter buy. He d’ed eight months ‘fore de Centennial.” “Our marster en missis wuz Landon en Sweenie Ken Kannon. Dey wuz good ter us, en we had’n good things ter eat.” “I member de Yankee en Southern soldiers. One day me en mah young missis, en sum chilluns went up ter de road en we se’ed sum Yankee soldiers kumin’, I clum’ed on de fence, de urthurs run ‘way en hid. One ob de soldiers sezs ter me, ‘Lettle girl who wuz dat wid you,’ en I sezs, ‘Hit wuz Miss Puss en sum chilluns.’ He laughed...

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Slave Narrative of Wiley Childress

Person Interviewed: Wiley Childress Location: Nashville, Tennessee Age: 83 Place of Birth: 808 Gay St., Nashville, Tennessee “I’se 83 Y’ars ole en wuz bawn a slave. Mah mammy b’longed ter de Bosley’s en mah daddy b’longed ter de Scales.” “W’en Miss Jane Boxley ma’ried Marster Jerry Scales, me en mah mammy, br’er en sistah wuz gib ter Miss Jane.” “Durin’ de war mah Missis tuk mah mammy en us chilluns wid her ter de mount’ins ’till de war wuz gon’. Did’nt see no soldiers. Don’t member now nuthin’ ’bout dem Klu Klux men en don’t member de ole songs er ’bout slaves votin’.” “Dunno ’bout de young persons, white er black, dey ez all so wild now.” “W’en we all wuz freed we had nuthin en no place ter go, so dat mah mammy lived wid our Missis five y’ars longer.” “De only story dat I member mah people tole me ’bout wuz on Fedd, a slave on de next plantation. He wuz a big man en wuz de strongest man neah dat part ob de kuntry. He wouldin’ ‘low nobody ter whup ‘in. De Marster framed ‘im by tellin’ ‘im ter bring his saddle hoss en w’en he kum wid de hoss several men ‘peahrd en tole Fedd dat dey wuz gonna whup ‘im. He struck one ob de mans so hahd dey had ter hab de doctuh....

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Slave Narrative of Patsy Hyde

Person Interviewed: Patsy Hyde Location: Nashville, Tennessee Place of Residence: 504 9th Avenue N., Nashville, Tennessee “Dunno how ole I ez. I wuz bawn in slavery en b’longs ter de Brown family. Mah Missis wuz Missis Jean R. Brown en she wuz kin ter Abraham Lincoln en I useter y’ar dem talkin’ ’bout ‘im livin’ in a log cabin en w’en he d’ed she had her house draped in black. Marster Brown wuz also good ter his slaves. De Missis promus Marster Brown on his de’th bed nebber ter let us be whup’d en she kep her wud. Sum ob de oberseers on urthur plantations would tie de slaves ter a stake en gib dem a good whup’in fer sump’in dey ought not ter done.” “All cul’ed people wore cotton goods en de younger boys run ’round in der shurt tails. Mah Missis nit all de white chilluns stockin’ en she made me sum. I had ter hold de yarn on mah hans w’en she wuz nittin’. I members one time I wuz keepin’ flies off de table usin’ a bunch ob peacock feathers en I went ter sleep standin’ up en she tole me ter go back ter de kitchen.” “I went en finish mah nap.” “One day ole Uncle Elick woke Marster Brown fum his atter-noon nap tellin’ ‘im dat de prettiest men dat I ever seed...

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