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Location: Winnsboro South Carolina

Slave Narrative of Robert Toatley

Interviewer: W. W. Dixon Person Interviewed: Robert Toatley Location: Winnsboro, South Carolina Date of Birth: May 15, 1855 Age: 82 Robert Toatley lives with his daughter, his son, his son’s wife, and their six children, near White Oak, seven miles north of Winnsboro, S.C. Robert owns the four-room frame house and farm containing 235 acres. He has been prosperous up from slavery, until the boll weevil made its appearance on his farm and the depression came on the country at large, in 1929. He has been compelled to mortgage his home but is now coming forward again, having reduced the mortgage to a negligible balance, which he expects to liquidate with the present 1937 crop of cotton. Robert is one of the full blooded Negroes of pure African descent. His face, in repose, possesses a kind of majesty that one would expect in beholding a chief of an African tribe. “I was born on de ‘Lizabeth Mobley place. Us always called it ‘Cedar Shades’. Dere was a half mile of cedars on both sides of de road leading to de fine house dat our white folks lived in. My birthday was May 15, 1855. My mistress was a daughter of Dr. John Glover. My master married her when her was twelve years old. Her first child, Sam, got to be a doctor, and they sho’ did look lak brother...

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Slave Narrative of Tom Rosboro

Interviewer: W. W. Dixon Person Interviewed: Tom Rosboro Location: Winnsboro, South Carolina Age: 79 Ex-Slave 79 Years Old Tom Rosboro lives with his daughter, Estelle Perry, in a three-room frame house, on Cemetery Street, Winnsboro, S.C. The house stands on a half-acre plot that is used for garden truck. Estelle owns the fee in the house and lot. Tom peddles the truck, eggs, and chickens, in the town and the suburban Winnsboro mill village. “My pappy was name Tom, just lak I is name Tom. My mammy was name Sarah but they didn’t b’long to de same marster. Pappy b’long to old Marse Eugene McNaul. Mammy b’long to old Marse John Propst. De ownership of de child followed de mammy in them days. Dat throwed me to be a slave of old Marse John Propst. “My young marsters was name Marse Johnnie, Marse Clark, Marse Floyd, and Marse Wyatt. I had two young misses. Miss Elizabeth marry a McElroy and Miss Mamie marry a Landecker. You know Marse Ernest Propst dat run dat ladies’ garment store and is a member of de Winnsboro Town Council? Yes? Well, dat is one of Marse Floyd Propst chillun. “I hear mammy say dat daddy’s mistress was name Miss Emma but her mistress and my mistress was name Miss Margaret. My daddy have to have a pass every time he come to see...

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Slave Narrative of Manda Walker

Interviewer: W. W. Dixon Person Interviewed: Manda Walker Location: Winnsboro, South Carolina Age: 80 Manda Walker lives with her son-in-law, Albert Cooper, in a three-room frame cottage in Winnsboro, S.C. Albert’s first wife was her daughter, Sallie. Five of their children and Albert’s second wife, Sadie, occupy the house with Albert and Manda. “Does you know where Horse Crick (Creek) branch is, and where Wateree Crick is? Ever been ‘long de public road ‘tween them water courses? Well, on de sunrise side of dat road, up on a hill, was where my slavery time marster live. “I was born in de yard, back of de white folks’ house, in a little log house wid a dirt floor and a stick and mud chimney to one end of de house. My marster was name Marse Tom Rowe and my mistress name Missy Jane Rowe. They de ones dat tell me, long time ago, dat I was born befo’ de war, in 1857. Deir chillun was Miss Mary and Miss Miami. “I no work much ’til de end of de war. Then I pick cotton and peas and shell corn and peas. Most of de time I play and sometime be maid to my young misses. Both growed into pretty buxom ladies. Miss Miami was a handsome buxom woman; her marry Marse Tom Johnson and live, after de war, near Wateree...

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Slave Narrative of Ned Walker

Interviewer: W. W. Dixon Person Interviewed: Ned Walker Location: Winnsboro, South Carolina Place of Birth: Winnsboro, South Carolina Age: 83 Ned Walker lives in the village of White Oak, near Winnsboro, S.C., in a two-room frame house, the dwelling of his son-in-law, Leander Heath, who married his daughter, Nora. Ned is too old to do any work of a remunerative character but looks after the garden and chickens of his daughter and son-in-law. He is a frequent visitor to¬†Winnsboro,¬†S.C. He brings chickens and garden produce, to sell in the town and the Winnsboro Hill’s village. He is tall, thin, and straight, with kind eyes. Being one of the old Gaillard Negroes, transplanted from the Santee section of Berkeley County, in the Low Country, to the red hills of Fairfield County, in the Up Country, he still retains words and phrases characteristic of the Negro in the lower part of South Carolina. “Yes sir, I’s tall and slim lak a saplin’; maybe dat a good reason I live so long. Doctor say lean people lives longer than fat people. “I hear daddy read one time from de Bible ’bout a man havin’ strength of years in his right hand and honor and riches in his left hand, but whenever I open dat left hand dere is nothin’ in it. ‘Spect dat promise is comin’ tho’, when de old age pension...

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Slave Narrative of Rosa Starke

Interviewer: W. W. Dixon Person Interviewed: Rosa Starke Location: Winnsboro, South Carolina Date of Birth: 1854 Age: 83 Occupation: Farm work, hoeing and picking cotton. Rosa’s grandfather was a slave of Solicitor Starke. Although she has had two husbands since slavery, she has thrown their names into the discard and goes by the name of Rosa Starke. She lives in a three-room frame house with her son, John Harrison, two miles south of Winnsboro, S.C., on the plantation of Mrs. Rebecca V. Woodward. She still does farm work, hoeing and picking cotton. “They say I was six years old when de war commence poppin’ in Charleston. Mammy and pappy say dat I was born on de Graham place, one of de nineteen plantations of my old marster, Nick Peay, in 1854. My pappy was name Bob and my mammy name Salina. They had b’longed to old Marse Tom Starke befo’ old Marse Nick bought them. My brudders was name Bob and John. I had a sister name Carrie. They was all older than me. “My marster, Nick Peay, had nineteen places, wid a overseer and slave quarters on every place. Folks dat knows will tell you, dis day, dat them nineteen plantations, in all, was twenty-seven thousand acres. He had a thousand slaves, more or less, too many to take a census of. Befo’ de numerator git ’round, some...

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Slave Narrative of Dan Smith

Interviewer: W. W. Dixon Person Interviewed: Dan Smith Location: Winnsboro, South Carolina Place of Birth: Richland County SC Date of Birth: January 11, 1862 Age: 75 Occupation: Construction Dan Smith lives in one room, rent free, of a three-room frame house, the property of his son-in-law, Jim Cason. It is situated on the southeast corner of Garden and Palmer streets in the town of Winnsboro, S.C. He is tall, thin and toothless, with watery eyes and a pained expression of weariness on his face. He is slow and deliberate in movements. He still works, and has just finished a day’s work mixing mortar in the construction of a brick store building for Mr. Lauderdale. His boss says: ‘The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.’ There is nothing organically wrong with Dan but he appears, in human anatomy, as Doctor Holmes’s One Horse Shay must have looked the day before its final collapse. “You been here once befo’ and now here you is again. You say you wanna git additions? Well, I’s told you dat I was born in Richland County, a slave of Marse John Lever and on his plantation, January de 11th day, 1862, when de war was gwine on. How I know? ‘Cause my mammy and pappy told me so. They call my pappy Bob and my mammy Mary. Strange as it seem, my mistress...

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Slave Narrative of Alexander Robertson

Interviewer: W. W. Dixon Person Interviewed: Alexander Robertson Location: White Oak, South Carolina Age: 84 Ex-Slave 84 Years Old Alexander Robertson lives as a member of the household of his son, Charley, on the General Bratton plantation, four miles southeast of White Oak, S.C. It is a box-like house, chimney in the center, four rooms, a porch in front and morning glory vines, in bloom at this season, climbing around the sides and supports. Does Alexander sit here in the autumn sunshine and while the hours away? Nay, in fact he is still one of the active, working members of the family, ever in the fields with his grandchildren, poke around his neck, extracting fleecy cotton from the bolls and putting it deftly into the poke. He can carry his row equally as well as any of the six grandchildren. He has a good appetite at meal time, digestive organs good, sleeps well, and is the early riser in the mornings. He says the Negro half of his nature objects to working on Saturday afternoon, and at such times his tall figure, with a green patch cloth over the left eye, which is sightless, may be seen strolling to and fro on the streets of Winnsboro. “Well, well! If it ain’t de youngun dat use to sell me sugar, coffee, fat back and meal, when he clerk for Calvin...

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Slave Narrative of Bill Williams

Interviewer: W. W. Dixon Person Interviewed: Bill Williams Location: Winnsboro, South Carolina Age: 82 Bill Williams lives on the Durham place, nine miles east of Winnsboro, S.C., on the warm charity of Mr. Arthur M. Owens, the present owner. He is decrepit and unable to work. “I was born a slave of old Marster John Durham, on a plantation ’bout five miles east of Blackstock, S.C. My mistress name Margaret. Deir chillun was Miss Cynthia, Marse Johnnie, Marse Willie and Marse Charnel. I forgits de others. Then, when young Marse Johnnie marry Miss Minnie Mobley, my mammy, Kizzie, my daddy, Eph, and me was give to them. Daddy and mammy had four other chillun. They was Eph, Reuben, Winnie and Jordan. Us live in rows of log houses, a path ‘twixt de two rows. Us was close to de spring, where us got water and mammy did de white folks washin’ every week. I kep’ de fires burnin’ ’round de pots, so de water would keep boilin’. Dat’s ’bout all de work I ‘members doin’ in slavery time. Daddy was a field hand and ploughed a big red mule, name Esau. How many slaves was dere? More than I could count. In them days I couldn’t count up to a hundred. How, then, I gonna kno’ how many dere was? You have to ask somebody else. I’ll just risk...

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Slave Narrative of Aleck Woodward

Interviewer: W. W. Dixon Person Interviewed: Aleck Woodward Location: South Carolina Age: 83 “You knows de Simonton place, Mr. Wood? Well, dats just where I was born back yonder befo’ de war, a slave of old Marster Johnnie Simonton. Five miles sorter south sunset side of Woodward Station where you was born, ain’t it so? My pappy was Ike Woodward, but him just call ‘Ike’ time of slavery, and my mammy was name Dinah. My brother Charlie up north, if he ain’t dead, Ike lives in Asheville, North Carolina. Two sisters: Ollie, her marry an Aiken, last counts, and she and her family in Charlotte, North Carolina; sister Mattie marry a Wilson nigger, but I don’t know where they is. “Us lived in a four-room log house, ’bout sixteen all told. Dere was pappy and mammy (now you count them) gran’pappy, Henry Davis, Gran’mammy Kisana, Aunt Anna, and her seven chillun, and me, and my two brothers and two sisters. How many make dat? Seventeen? Well, dat’s de number piled in dere at night in de beds and on de floors. They was scandlous beds; my God, just think of my grands, old as I is now, tryin’ to sleep on them hard beds and other folks piled ‘scriminately all over de log floors! My Gran’pappy Henry was de carpenter, and old marster tell him ‘if you make your...

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Slave Narrative of Charlie Robinson

Interviewer: W. W. Dixon Person Interviewed: Charlie Robinson Location: Winnsboro, South Carolina Age: 87 Ex-Slave 87 Years Old Charlie Robinson lives nine miles northwest of Winnsboro, S.C., on lands of Mr. R.W. Lemmon. There is one other occupant in the four-room house, John Giles, a share cropper. The house has two fireplaces, the brick chimney being constructed in the center of the two main rooms. The other two rooms are shed rooms. Charlie ekes out a living as a day laborer on the farm. “They been tellin’ me to come to de social circle and see ’bout my pension but I never is got dere. It been so hot, I hate to hotfoot it nine miles to Winnsboro and huff dat same distance back on a hot summer day. “Glad you come out here but sorry of de day, ’cause it is a Friday and all de jay-birds go to see de devil dat day of de week. It’s a bad day to begin a garment, or quilt or start de lye hopper or ‘simmon beer keg or just anything important to yourself on dat day. Dere is just one good Friday in de year and de others is given over to de devil, his imps, and de jay-birds. Does I believe all dat? I believes it ‘nough not to patch dese old breeches ’til tomorrow and not start...

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