Slave Narrative of George Brooks

Date of birth: Year unknown (See below)
Place of birth: In Muscogee County, near Columbus, Georgia
Present Residence: 502 East 8th Street, Columbus, Georgia
Interviewed: August 4, 1936
Age: 112

This old darky, probably the oldest ex-slave in West Georgia, claims to be 112 years of age. His colored friends are also of the opinion that he is fully that old or older—but, since none of his former (two) owners’ people can be located, and no records concerning his birth can be found, his definite age cannot be positively established.

“Uncle” George claims to have worked in the fields, “some”, the year the “stars fell”—1833.

His original owner was Mr. Henry Williams—to whom he was greatly attached. As a young man, he was—for a number of years—Mr. Williams’ personal body-servant. After Mr. Williams’ death—during the 1850’s, “Uncle” George was sold to a white man—whose name he doesn’t remember—of Dadeville, Alabama, with whom he subsequently spent five months in the Confederate service.

One of “Uncle” George’s stories is to the effect that he once left a chore he was doing for his second “Marster’s” wife, “stepped” to a nearby well to get a drink of water and, impelled by some strange, irresistible “power”, “jes kep on walkin ’til he run slap-dab inter de Yankees”, who corraled him and kept him for three months.

Still another story he tells is that of his being sold after freedom! According to his version of this incident, he was sold along with two bales of cotton in the fall of 1865—either the cotton being sold and he “thrown in” with it, or vice versa—he doesn’t know which, but he does know that he and the cotton were “sold” together! And very soon after this transaction occurred, the seller was clapped in jail! Then, “somebody” (he doesn’t remember who) gave him some money, put him on a stage-coach at night and “shipped” him to Columbus, where he learned that he was a free man and has since remained.

“Uncle” George has been married once and is the father of several children. His wife, however, died fifty-odd years ago and he knows nothing of the whereabouts of his children—doesn’t even know whether or not any of them are living, having lost “all track o’all kin fokes too long ago to tawk about.”

Unfortunately, “Uncle” George’s mind is clouded and his memory badly impaired, otherwise his life story would perhaps be quite interesting. For more than twenty years, he has been supported and cared for by kind hearted members of his race, who say that they intend to continue “to look after the old man ’til he passes on.”

Brooks, Williams,

Federal Writers' Project. WPA Slave Narratives. Web. 2007-2024. The WPA Slave Narratives must be used with care. There is, of course, the problem of confusion in memory resulting from (73+ years) of the participants. In addition, inexperienced interviewers sometimes pursued question lines related to their own interests and perspectives and attempted to capture the colloquialism of the informant's speech. The interviews provide fascinating insight and surprisingly candid information, however.

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