Slave Narrative of William Sherman

Interviewer: J. M. Johnson Person Interviewed: William Sherman Location: Chaseville, Florida In Chaseville, Florida, about twelve miles from Jacksonville on the south side of the Saint Johns River lives William Sherman (locally pronounced Schumann,) a former slave of Jack Davis, nephew of President Jefferson Davis of the Confederacy. William Sherman was born on the plantation of Jack Davis, about five miles from Robertsville, South Carolina, at a place called “Black Swamp,” June 12, 1842, twenty-three years prior to Emancipation. His father who was also named William Sherman, was a free man, having bought his freedom for eighteen hundred dollars from his master, John Jones, who also lived in the vicinity of the Davis’ plantation. William Sherman, senior, bargained with his master to obtain his freedom, however, for he did not have the money to readily pay him. He hired himself out to some of the wealthy plantation owners and applied what he earned toward the payment for his freedom. He was a skilled blacksmith and cabinet maker and his services were always in demand. After procuring his freedom he bought a tract of land from his former master and built a home and blacksmith shop on it. As was the custom during slavery, a person who bought his freedom had to have a guardian; Sherman’s former master, John Jones, acted as his guardian. Under this new order of things...

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