Slave Narrative of Cindy Kinsey

Interviewer: Barbara Darsey
Person Interviewed: Cindy Kinsey
Age: About 86 years of age

“Yes maam, chile, I aint suah ezackly, but I think I bout 85 mebby 86 yeah old. Yes maam, I wus suah bahn in de slavery times, an I bahn right neah de Little Rock in Arkansas, an dere I stay twell I comed right from dere to heah in Floridy bout foah yeah gone.

“Yes maam, my people de liv on a big plantation neah de Little Rock an we all hoe cotton. My Ma? Lawzy me, chile, she name Zola Young an my pappy he name Nelson Young. I had broddehs Danel, Freeman, George, Will, and Henry. Yes maam, Freeman he de younges an bahn after we done got free. An I had sistehs by de name ob Isabella, Mary, Nora, – dat aint all yet, you want I should name em all? Well then they was too Celie, Sally, and me Cindy but I aint my own sisteh is I, hee, hee, hee.

“My Ole Massa, he name Marse Louis Stuart, an my Ole Missy, dat de real ole one you know, she name, – now – let-me-see, does – I – ricollek, lawzy me, chile, I suah fin it hard to member some things. O! yes, – her name hit war Missy Nancy, an her chilluns dey name Little Marse Sammie an Little Missy Fanny. I don know huccum my pappy he go by de name Young when Ole Massa he name Marse Stuart lessen my pappy he be raised by nother Massa fore Marse Louis got him, but I disrememba does I eber heerd him say.

“Yes maam, chile I suah like dem days. We had lot ob fun an nothin to worrify about, suah wish dem days wus now, chile, us niggahs heaps better off den as now. Us always had plenty eat and plenty wearin close too, which us aint nevah got no more. We had plenty cahn pone, baked in de ashes too, hee, hee, hee, it shore wus good, an we had side meat, an we had other eatin too, what ever de Ole Marse had, but I like de side meat bes. I had a good dress for Sunday too but aint got none dese days, jes looky, chile, dese ole rags de bes I got. My Sunday dress? Lawzy me, chile, hit were alway a bright red cotton. I suah member dat color, us dye de cotton right on de plantation mostly. Other close I dont ezackly ricollek, but de mostly dark, no colahs.

“My ma, she boss all de funerls ob de niggahs on de plantation an she got a long white veil for wearin, lawzy me, chile, she suah look bootiful, jes lak a bride she did when she boss dem funerls in dat veil. She not much skeered nether fo dat veil hit suah keep de hants away. Wisht I had me dat veil right now, mout hep cure dis remutizics in ma knee what ailin me so bad. I disrememba, but I sposen she got buried in dat veil, chile. She hoe de cotton so Ole Marse Louis he always let her off fo de buryings cause she know how to manage de other niggahs and keep dem quiet at de funerls.

“No maam, chile, we didn’t hab no Preacher-mans much, hit too fah away to git one when de niggah die. We sung songs and my ma she say a Bible vurs what Ole Missy don lernt her. Be vurs, lawsy me, chile, suah wish I could member hit for you. Dem songs? I don jes recollek, but hit seem lak de called ‘Gimme Dem Golden Slippahs’, an a nother one hit wah ‘Ise Goin To Heben In De Charot Ob Fiah’, suah do wish I could recollek de words an sing em foh you, chile, but I caint no more, my min, hit aint no good lak what it uster be.

“Yes maam, chile, I suah heerd ob Mr. Lincoln but not so much. What dat mans wanter free us niggahs when we so happy an not nothin to worrify us. No, maam, I didn’t see none dem Yankee sojers but I heerd od dem an we alwy skeerd dey come. Us all cotch us rabbits an weah de lef hine foots roun our nek wif a bag ob akkerfedity, yessum I guess dat what I mean, an hit shore smell bad an hit keep off de fevah too, an if a Yankee cotch you wif dat rabbit foots an dat akkerfedity bag roun youh nek, he suah turn you loose right now.

“Yes maam, chile, Ise a Baptis and sho proud ob it. Praise de Lord and go to Church, dat de onliest way to keep de debbil offen youh trail and den sometime he almos kotch up wif you. Lawsy me, chile, when de Preacher-mans baptiz me he had duck me under de wateh twell I mos dron, de debbil he got such a holt on me an jes wont let go, but de Preacher-mans he kep a duckin me an he finaly shuck de debbil loose an he aint bother me much sence, dat is not very much, an dat am a long time ago.

“Yes maam, chile, some ob de niggahs dey run off from Ole Marse Louis, but de alway come back bout stahved, hee, hee, hee, an do dey eat, an Ole Marse, he alway take em back an give em plenty eatins. Yes maam, he alway good to us and he suah give us niggahs plenty eatins all de time. When Crismus come, you know chile, hit be so cole, and Old Marse, he let us make a big fiah, a big big fiah in de yahd roun which us live, an us all dance rounde fiah, and Ole Missy she brang us Crismus Giff. What war de giff? Lawzy me, chile, de mostly red woolen stockings and some times a pair of shoeses, an my wus we proud. An Ole Marse Louis, he giv de real old niggahs, both de mens an de owmans, a hot toddy, hee, hee, hee. Lawzy me, chile, dem wus de good days, who give an ole niggah like me a hot toddy dese days? an talkin you bout dem days, chile, sho mek me wish dey was now.”

Kinsey, Stuart, Young,

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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