Slave Narrative of Georgia Baker

Interviewer: Mrs. Sadie Hornsby
Person Interviewed: Georgia Baker
Location: Athens, Georgia

Georgia’s address proved to be the home of her daughter, Ida Baker. The clean-swept walks of the small yard were brightened by borders of gay colored zinnias and marigolds in front of the drab looking two-story, frame house. “Come in,” answered Ida, in response to a knock at the front door. “Yessum, Mammy’s here. Go right in dat dere room and you’ll find her.”

Standing by the fireplace of the next room was a thin, very black woman engaged in lighting her pipe. A green checked gingham apron partially covered her faded blue frock over which she wore a black shirtwaist fastened together with “safety first” pins. A white cloth, tied turban fashion about her head, and gray cotton hose worn with black and white slippers that were run down at the heels, completed her costume.

“Good mornin’. Yessum, dis here’s Georgia,” was her greeting. “Let’s go in dar whar Ida is so us can set down. I don’t know what you come for, but I guess I’ll soon find out.”

Georgia was eager to talk but her articulation had been impaired by a paralytic stroke and at times it was difficult to understand her jumble of words. After observance of the amenities; comments on the weather, health and such subjects, she began:

“Whar was I born? Why I was born on de plantation of a great man. It was Marse Alec Stephens’ plantation ’bout a mile and a half from Crawfordville, in Taliaferro County. Mary and Grandison Tilly was my Ma and Pa. Ma was cook up at de big house and she died when I was jus’ a little gal. Pa was a field hand, and he belonged to Marse Britt Tilly.

“Dere was four of us chillun: me, and Mary, and Frances, and Mack,” she counted on the fingers of one hand. “Marse Alec let Marse Jim Johnson have Mack for his bodyguard. Frances, she wuked in de field, and Mary was de baby—she was too little to wuk. Me, I was 14 years old when de war was over. I swept yards, toted water to de field, and played ’round de house and yard wid de rest of de chillun.

“De long, log houses what us lived in was called “shotgun” houses ’cause dey had three rooms, one behind de other in a row lak de barrel of a shotgun. All de chillun slept in one end room and de grown folkses slept in de other end room. De kitchen whar us cooked and et was de middle room. Beds was made out of pine poles put together wid cords. Dem wheat-straw mattresses was for grown folkses mostly ’cause nigh all de chillun slept on pallets. How-some-ever, dere was some few slave chillun what had beds to sleep on. Pillows! Dem days us never knowed what pillows was. Gals slept on one side of de room and boys on de other in de chilluns room. Uncle Jim, he was de bed-maker, and he made up a heap of little beds lak what dey calls cots now.

“Becky and Stafford Stephens was my Grandma and Grandpa. Marse Alec bought ’em in Old Virginny. I don’t know what my Grandma done ’cause she died ‘fore I was borned, but I ‘members Grandpa Stafford well enough. I can see him now. He was a old man what slept on a trundle bed in the kitchen, and all he done was to set by de fire all day wid a switch in his hand and tend de chillun whilst dere mammies was at wuk. Chillun minded better dem days dan dey does now. Grandpa Stafford never had to holler at ’em but one time. Dey knowed dey would git de switch next if dey didn’t behave.

“Now dere you is axin’ ’bout dat somepin’ t’eat us had dem days! Ida, ain’t dere a piece of watermelon in de ice box?” Georgia lifted the lid of a small ice box, got out a piece of melon, and began to smack her thick lips as she devoured it with an air of ineffable satisfaction. When she had tilted the rind to swallow the last drop of pink juice, she indicated that she was fortified and ready to exercise her now well lubricated throat, by resuming her story:

“Oh, yessum! Marse Alec, had plenty for his slaves to eat. Dere was meat, bread, collard greens, snap beans, ‘taters, peas, all sorts of dried fruit, and just lots of milk and butter. Marse Alec had 12 cows and dat’s whar I learned to love milk so good. De same Uncle Jim what made our beds made our wooden bowls what dey kept filled wid bread and milk for de chillun all day. You might want to call dat place whar Marse Alec had our veg’tables raised a gyarden, but it looked more lak a big field to me, it was so big. You jus’ ought to have seed dat dere fireplace whar dey cooked all us had to eat. It was one sho ‘nough big somepin, all full of pots, skillets, and ovens. Dey warn’t never ‘lowed to git full of smut neither. Dey had to be cleant and shined up atter evvy meal, and dey sho was pretty hangin’ dar in dat big old fireplace.

“George and Mack was de hunters. When dey went huntin’ dey brought back jus’ evvything: possums, rabbits, coons, squirrels, birds, and wild turkeys. Yessum, wild turkeys is some sort of birds I reckon, but when us talked about birds to eat us meant part’idges. Some folkses calls ’em quails. De fishes us had in summertime was a sight to see. Us sho et good dem days. Now us jus’ eats what-some-ever us can git.

“Summertime us jus’ wore what us wanted to. Dresses was made wid full skirts gathered on to tight fittin’ waisties. Winter clothes was good and warm; dresses made of yarn cloth made up jus’ lak dem summertime clothes, and petticoats and draw’s made out of osnaburg. Chillun what was big enough done de spinnin’ and Aunt Betsey and Aunt Tinny, dey wove most evvy night ’til dey rung de bell at 10:00 o’clock for us to go to bed. Us made bolts and bolts of cloth evvy year.

“Us went bar’foots in summer, but bless your sweet life us had good shoes in winter and wore good stockin’s too. It tuk three shoemakers for our plantation. Dey was Uncle Isom, Uncle Jim, and Uncle Stafford. Dey made up hole-stock shoes for de ‘omans and gals and brass-toed brogans for de mens and boys.

“Us had pretty white dresses for Sunday. Marse Alec wanted evvybody on his place dressed up dat day. He sont his houseboy, Uncle Harris, down to de cabins evvy Sunday mornin’ to tell evvy slave to clean hisself up. Dey warn’t never give no chance to forgit. Dere was a big old room sot aside for a wash-room. Folkses laughs at me now ’cause I ain’t never stopped takin’ a bath evvy Sunday mornin’.

“Marse Lordnorth Stephens was de boss on Marse Alec’s plantation. Course Marse Alec owned us and he was our sho ‘nough Marster. Neither one of ’em ever married. Marse Lordnorth was a good man, but he didn’t have no use for ‘omans—he was a sissy. Dere warn’t no Marster no whar no better dan our Marse Alec Stephens, but he never stayed home enough to tend to things hisself much ’cause he was all de time too busy on de outside. He was de President or somepin of our side durin’ de war.

“Uncle Pierce went wid Marse Alec evvy whar he went. His dog, Rio, had more sense dan most folkses. Marse Alec, he was all de time havin’ big mens visit him up at de big house. One time, out in de yard, him and one of dem ‘portant mens got in a argyment ’bout somepin. Us chillun snuck up close to hear what dey was makin’ such a rukus ’bout. I heared Marse Alec say: ‘I got more sense in my big toe dan you is got in your whole body.’ And he was right—he did have more sense dan most folkses. Ain’t I been a-tellin’ you he was de President or somepin lak dat, dem days?

“Ma, she was Marse Alec’s cook and looked atter de house. Atter she died Marse Lordnorth got Mrs. Mary Berry from Habersham County to keep house at de big house, but Aunt ‘Liza, she done de cookin’ atter Miss Mary got dar. Us little Niggers sho’ did love Miss Mary. Us called her “Mammy Mary” sometimes. Miss Mary had three sons and one of ’em was named Jeff Davis. I ‘members when dey come and got him and tuk him off to war. Marse Lordnorth built a four-room house on de plantation for Miss Mary and her boys. Evvybody loved our Miss Mary, ’cause she was so good and sweet, and dere warn’t nothin’ us wouldn’t have done for her.

“No Lord! Marse Lordnorth never needed no overseer or no carriage driver neither. Uncle Jim was de head man wat got de Niggers up evvy mornin’ and started ’em off to wuk right. De big house sho was a pretty place, a-settin’ up on a high hill. De squirrels was so tame dar dey jus’ played all ’round de yard. Marse Alec’s dog is buried in dat yard.

“No Mam, I never knowed how many acres dere was in de plantation us lived on, and Marse Alec had other places too. He had land scattered evvywhar. Lord, dere was a heap of Niggers on dat place, and all of us was kin to one another. Grandma Becky and Grandpa Stafford was de fust slaves Marse Alec ever had, and dey sho had a passel of chillun. One thing sho Marse Lordnorth wouldn’t keep no bright colored Nigger on dat plantation if he could help it. Aunt Mary was a bright colored Nigger and dey said dat Marse John, Marse Lordnorth’s brother, was her Pa, but anyhow Marse Lordnorth never had no use for her ’cause she was a bright colored Nigger.

“Marse Lordnorth never had no certain early time for his slaves to git up nor no special late time for ’em to quit wuk. De hours dey wuked was ‘cordin’ to how much wuk was ahead to be done. Folks in Crawfordville called us ‘Stephens’ Free Niggers.’

“Us minded Marse Lordnorth—us had to do dat—but he let us do pretty much as us pleased. Us never had no sorry piece of a Marster. He was a good man and he made a sho ‘nough good Marster. I never seed no Nigger git a beatin’, and what’s more I never heared of nothin’ lak dat on our place. Dere was a jail in Crawfordville, but none of us Niggers on Marse Alec’s place warn’t never put in it.

“No Lord! None of us Niggers never knowed nothin’ ’bout readin’ and writin’. Dere warn’t no school for Niggers den, and I ain’t never been to school a day in my life. Niggers was more skeered of newspapers dan dey is of snakes now, and us never knowed what a Bible was dem days.

“Niggers never had no churches of deir own den. Dey went to de white folkses’ churches and sot in de gallery. One Sunday when me and my sister Frances went to church I found 50¢ in Confederate money and showed it to her. She tuk it away from me. Dat’s de onliest money I seed durin’ slavery time. Course you knows dey throwed Confederate money away for trash atter de war was over. Den us young chaps used to play wid it.

“I never went to no baptizin’s nor no funerals neither den. Funerals warn’t de style. When a Nigger died dem days, dey jus’ put his body in a box and buried it. I ‘members very well when Aunt Sallie and Aunt Catherine died, but I was little den, and I didn’t take it in what dey done bout buryin’ ’em.

“None of Marse Alec’s slaves never run away to de North, ’cause he was so good to ’em dey never wanted to leave him. De onliest Nigger what left Marse Alec’s place was Uncle Dave, and he wouldn’t have left ‘cept he got in trouble wid a white ‘oman. You needn’t ax me her name ’cause I ain’t gwine to tell it, but I knows it well as I does my own name. Anyhow Marse Alec give Uncle Dave some money and told him to leave, and nobody never seed him no more atter dat.

“Oh yessum! Us heared ’bout ’em, but none of us never seed no patterollers on Marse Alec’s plantation. He never ‘lowed ’em on his land, and he let ’em know dat he kept his slaves supplied wid passes whenever dey wanted to go places so as dey could come and go when dey got good and ready. Thursday and Sadday nights was de main nights dey went off. Uncle Stafford’s wife was Miss Mary Stephen’s cook, Uncle Jim’s wife lived on de Finley place, and Uncle Isom’s belonged to de Hollises, so dey had regular passes all de time and no patterollers never bothered ’em none.

“Whenever Marse Alec or Marse Lordnorth wanted to send a message dey jus’ put George or Mack on a horse and sont ’em on but one thing sho, dere warn’t no slave knowed what was in dem letters.

“Marse Alec sho had plenty of mules. Some of ’em was named: Pete, Clay, Rollin, Jack, and Sal. Sal was Allen’s slow mule, and he set a heap of store by her. Dere was a heap more mules on dat place, but I can’t call back dere names right now.

“Most times when slaves went to deir quarters at night, mens rested, but sometimes dey holped de ‘omans cyard de cotton and wool. Young folkses frolicked, sung songs, and visited from cabin to cabin. When dey got behind wid de field wuk, sometimes slaves wuked atter dinner Saddays, but dat warn’t often. But, Oh, dem Sadday nights! Dat was when slaves got together and danced. George, he blowed de quills, and he sho could blow grand dance music on ’em. Dem Niggers would jus’ dance down. Dere warn’t no foolishment ‘lowed atter 10:00 o’clock no night. Sundays dey went to church and visited ’round, but folks didn’t spend as much time gaddin’ ’bout lak dey does now days.

“Christmas Day! Oh, what a time us Niggers did have dat day! Marse Lordnorth and Marse Alec give us evvything you could name to eat: cake of all kinds, fresh meat, lightbread, turkeys, chickens, ducks, geese, and all kinds of wild game. Dere was allus plenty of pecans, apples, and dried peaches too at Christmas. Marse Alec had some trees what had fruit dat looked lak bananas on ’em, but I done forgot what was de name of dem trees. Marse Alec would call de grown folkses to de big house early in de mornin’ and pass ’round a big pewter pitcher full of whiskey, den he would put a little whiskey in dat same pitcher and fill it wid sweetened water and give dat to us chillun. Us called dat ‘toddy’ or ‘dram’. Marse Alex allus had plenty of good whiskey, ’cause Uncle Willis made it up for him and it was made jus’ right. De night atter Christmas Day us pulled syrup candy, drunk more liquor, and danced. Us had a big time for a whole week and den on New Year’s Day us done a little wuk jus’ to start de year right and us feasted dat day on fresh meat, plenty of cake, and whiskey. Dere was allus a big pile of ash-roasted ‘taters on hand to go wid dat good old baked meat. Us allus tried to raise enough ‘taters to last all through de winter ’cause Niggers sho does love dem sweet ‘taters. No Mam, us never knowed nothin’ ’bout Santa Claus ’til atter de war.

“No Mam, dere warn’t no special cornshuckin’s and cotton pickin’s on Marse Alec’s place, but of course dey did quilt in de winter ’cause dere had to be lots of quiltin’ done for all dem slaves to have plenty of warm kivver, and you knows, Lady, ‘omens can quilt better if dey gits a passel of ’em together to do it. Marse Alec and Marse Lordnorth never ‘lowed dere slaves to mix up wid other folkses business much.

“Oh Lord! Us never played no games in slavery times, ‘cept jus’ to run around in a ring and pat our hands. I never sung no songs ’cause I warn’t no singer, and don’t talk ’bout no Raw Head and Bloody Bones or nothin’ lak dat. Dey used to skeer us chillun so bad ’bout dem sort of things dat us used to lay in bed at night a-shakin’ lak us was havin’ chills. I’ve seed plenty of ha’nts right here in Athens. Not long atter I had left Crawfordville and moved to Athens, I had been in bed jus’ a little while one night, and was jus’ dozin’ off to sleep when I woke up and sot right spang up in bed. I seed a white man, dressed in white, standin’ before me. I sho didn’t say nothin’ to him for I was too skeered. De very last time I went to a dance, somepin got atter me and skeered me so my hair riz up ’til I couldn’t git my hat on my haid, and dat cyored me of gwine to dances. I ain’t never been to no more sich doin’s.

“Old Marster was powerful good to his Niggers when dey got sick. He had ’em seed atter soon as it was ‘ported to him dat dey was ailin’. Yessum, dere warn’t nothin’ short ’bout our good Marsters, ‘deed dere warn’t! Grandpa Stafford had a sore laig and Marse Lordnorth looked atter him and had Uncle Jim dress dat pore old sore laig evvy day. Slaves didn’t git sick as often as Niggers does now days. Mammy Mary had all sorts of teas made up for us, ‘cordin’ to whatever ailment us had. Boneset tea was for colds. De fust thing dey allus done for sore throat was give us tea made of red oak bark wid alum. Scurvy grass tea cleant us out in the springtime, and dey made us wear little sacks of assfiddy (asafetida) ’round our necks to keep off lots of sorts of miseries. Some folkses hung de left hind foot of a mole on a string ’round deir babies necks to make ’em teethe easier. I never done nothin’ lak dat to my babies ’cause I never believed in no such foolishment. Some babies is jus’ natchelly gwine to teethe easier dan others anyhow.

“I ‘members jus’ as good as if it was yesterday what Mammy Mary said when she told us de fust news of freedom. ‘You all is free now,’ she said. ‘You don’t none of you belong to Mister Lordnorth nor Mister Alec no more, but I does hope you will all stay on wid ’em, ’cause dey will allus be jus’ as good to you as dey has done been in de past.’ Me, I warn’t even studyin’ nothin’ ’bout leavin’ Marse Alec, but Sarah Ann and Aunt Mary, dey threwed down deir hoes and jus’ whooped and hollered ’cause dey was so glad. When dem Yankees come to our place Mammy Mary axed ’em if dey warn’t tired of war. ‘What does you know ’bout no war?’ Dey axed her right back. ‘No, us won’t never git tired of doin’ good.’

“I stayed on wid my two good Marsters ’til most 3 years atter de war, and den went to wuk for Marse Tye Elder in Crawfordville. Atter dat I wuked for Miss Puss King, and when she left Crawfordville I come on here to Athens and wuked for Miss Tildy Upson on Prince Avenue. Den I went to Atlanta to wuk for Miss Ruth Evage (probably Elliott). Miss Ruth was a niece of Abraham Lincoln’s. Her father was President Lincoln’s brother and he was a Methodist preacher what lived in Mailpack, New York. I went evvywhar wid Miss Ruth. When me and Miss Ruth was in Philadelphia, I got sick and she sont me home to Athens and I done been here wid my daughter ever since.

“Lawdy, Miss! I ain’t never been married, but I did live wid Major Baker 18 years and us had five chillun. Dey is all daid but two. Niggers didn’t pay so much ‘tention to gittin’ married dem days as dey does now. I stays here wid my gal, Ida Baker. My son lives in Cleveland, Ohio. My fust child was borned when I warn’t but 14 years old. De war ended in April and she was borned in November of dat year. Now, Miss! I ain’t never told but one white ‘oman who her Pa was, so you needn’t start axin’ me nothin’ ’bout dat. She had done been walkin’ evvywhar ‘fore she died when she was jus’ 10 months old and I’m a-tellin’ you de truth when I say she had more sense dan a heap of white chillun has when dey is lots older dan she was. Whilst I was off in New York wid Miss Ruth, Major, he up and got married. I reckon he’s daid by now. I don’t keer nohow, atter de way he done me. I made a good livin’ for Major ’til he married again. I seed de ‘oman he married once.

“Yes Mam,” there was strong emphasis in this reply. “I sho would ruther have slavery days back if I could have my same good Marsters ’cause I never had no hard times den lak I went through atter dey give us freedom. I ain’t never got over not bein’ able to see Marse Alec no more. I was livin’ at Marse Tye Elder’s when de gate fell on Marse Alec, and he was crippled and lamed up from dat time on ’til he died. He got to be Governor of Georgia whilst he was crippled. When he got hurt by dat gate, smallpox was evvywhar and dey wouldn’t let me go to see ’bout him. Dat most killed me ’cause I did want to go see if dere was somepin’ I could do for him.

“Lordy Mussy, Miss! I had a time jinin’ up wid de church. I was in Mailpack, New York, wid Miss Ruth when I had de urge to jine up. I told Miss Ruth ’bout it and she said: ‘Dere ain’t no Baptist church in 10 miles of here.’ ‘Lord, have mussy!’ I said. ‘Miss Ruth, what I gwine do? Dese is all Methodist churches up here and I jus’ can’t jine up wid no Methodists.’ ‘Yes you can,’ she snapped at me, ’cause my own Pa’s a-holdin a ‘vival in dis very town and de Methodist church is de best anyhow.’ Well, I went on and jined de Reverend Lincoln’s Methodist church, but I never felt right ’bout it. Den us went to Philadelphia and soon as I could find a Baptist church dar, I jined up wid it. Northern churches ain’t lak our southern churches ’cause de black and white folkses all belong to de same church dar and goes to church together. On dat account I still didn’t feel lak I had jined de church. Bless your sweet life, Honey, when I come back to de South, I was quick as I could be to jine up wid a good old southern Baptist church. I sho didn’t mean to live outdoors, ‘specially atter I dies.” Georgia’s eyes sparkled and her flow of speech was smooth as she told of her religious experiences. When that subject was exhausted her eyes dimmed again and her speech became less articulate.

Georgia’s reeking pipe had been laid aside for the watermelon and not long after that was consumed the restless black fingers sought occupation sewing gay pieces for a quilt. “Miss, I warn’t born to be lazy, I warn’t raised dat way, and I sho ain’t skeered to die.

“Good-bye, Honey,” said Georgia, as the interviewer arose and made her way toward the street. “Hurry back and don’t forgit to fetch me dat purty pink dress you is a-wearin’. I don’t lak white dresses and I ain’t never gwine to wear a black one nohow.”

[TR: Return Visit]

Georgia was on the back porch washing her face and hands and quarrelling with Ida for not having her breakfast ready at nine-thirty when the interviewer arrived for a re-visit.

“Come in,” Georgia invited, “and have a cheer. But, Miss I done told you all I knows ’bout Marse Alec and dem deys when I lived on his plantation. You know chillun den warn’t ‘lowed to hang ’round de grown folks whar dey could hear things what was talked about.”

About this time Ida came down from a second-floor kitchen with her mother’s breakfast. She was grumbling a little louder on each step of the rickety stairway. “Lord, have mussy! Ma is still a-talkin’ ’bout dat old slavery stuff, and it ain’t nothin’ nohow.” After Ida’s eyes had rested on the yellow crepe frock just presented Georgia in appreciation of the three hours she had given for the first interview, she became reconciled for the story to be resumed, and even offered her assistance in rousing the recollections of her parent.

“Did I tell you” Georgia began, “dat de man what looked atter Marse Alec’s business was his fust cousin? He was de Marse Lordnorth I’se all time talkin’ ’bout, and Marse John was Marse Lordnorth’s brother. Dere warn’t no cook or house gal up at de big house but Ma ’til atter she died, and den when Miss Mary Berry tuk charge of de house dey made Uncle Harry and his wife, Aunt ‘Liza, house boy and cook.

“Marse Alec growed all his corn on his Googer Crick plantation. He planned for evvything us needed and dere warn’t but mighty little dat he didn’t have raised to take keer of our needs. Lordy, didn’t I tell you what sort of shoes, holestock shoes is? Dem was de shoes de ‘omans wore and dey had extra pieces on de sides so us wouldn’t knock holes in ’em too quick.

“De fust time I ever seed Marse Alec to know who he was, I warn’t more’n 6 years old. Uncle Stafford had went fishin’ and cotched de nicest mess of fish you ever seed. He cleant ’em and put ’em in a pan of water, and told me to take ’em up to de big house to Marse Alec. I was skeered when I went in de big house yard and axed, what looked lak a little boy, whar Marse Alec was, and I was wuss skeered when he said: ‘Dis is Marse Alec you is talkin’ to. What you want?’ I tole him Uncle Stafford sont him de fishes and he told me: ‘Take ’em to de kitchen and tell ‘Liza to cook ’em for me.’ I sho ain’t never gwine to forgit dat.

“One day dey sont me wid a bucket of water to de field, and I had to go through de peach orchard. I et so many peaches, I was ‘most daid when I got back to de house. Dey had to drench me down wid sweet milk, and from dat day to dis I ain’t never laked peaches. From den on Marse Alec called me de ‘peach gal.’

“Marse Alec warn’t home much of de time, but when he was dar he used to walk down to de cabins and laugh and talk to his Niggers. He used to sing a song for de slave chillun dat run somepin lak dis:

‘Walk light ladies
De cake’s all dough,
You needn’t mind de weather,
If de wind don’t blow.'”

Georgia giggled when she came to the end of the stanza. “Us didn’t know when he was a-singin’ dat tune to us chillun dat when us growed up us would be cake walkin’ to de same song.

“On Sundays, whenever Marse Alec was home, he done lots of readin’ out of a great big old book. I didn’t know what it was, but he was pow’ful busy wid it. He never had no parties or dancin’ dat I knows ’bout, but he was all time havin’ dem big ‘portant mens at his house talkin’ ’bout de business what tuk him off from home so much. I used to see Lawyer Coombs dere heaps of times. He was a big, fine lookin’ man. Another big lawyer was all time comin’ dar too, but I done lost his name. Marse Alec had so awful much sense in his haid dat folkses said it stunted his growin’. Anyhow, long as he lived he warn’t no bigger dan a boy.

“When Uncle Harry’s and Aunt ‘Liza’s daughter what was named ‘Liza, got married he was in Washin’ton or some place lak dat. He writ word to Marse Linton, his half-brother, to pervide a weddin’ for her. I knows ’bout dat ’cause I et some of dat barbecue. Dat’s all I ‘members ’bout her weddin’. I done forgot de name of de bridegroom. He lived on some other plantation. Aunt ‘Liza had two gals and one boy. He was named Allen.

“Whilst Marse Alec was President or somepin, he got sick and had to come back home, and it wern’t long atter dat ‘fore de surrender. Allen was ‘pinted to watch for de blue coats. When dey come to take Marse Alec off, dey was all over the place wid deir guns. Us Niggers hollered and cried and tuk on pow’ful ’cause us sho thought dey was gwine to kill him on account of his bein’ such a high up man on de side what dey was fightin’. All de Niggers followed ’em to de depot when dey tuk Marse Alec and Uncle Pierce away. Dey kept Marse Alec in prison off somewhar a long time but dey sont Pierce back home ‘fore long.

“I seed Jeff Davis when dey brung him through Crawfordville on de train. Dey had him all fastened up wid chains. Dey told me dat a Nigger ‘oman put pizen in Jeff Davis’ somepin t’eat and dat was what kilt him. One thing sho, our Marse Alec warn’t pizened by nobody. He was comin’ from de field one day when a big old heavy gate fell down on him, and even if he did live a long time atterwards dat was what was de cause of his death.

“I seed Uncle Pierce ‘fore he died and us sot and talked and cried ’bout Marse Alec. Yessum, us sho did have de best Marster in de world. If ever a man went to Heaven, Marse Alec did. I sho does wish our good old Marster was livin’ now. Now, Miss, I done told you all I can ricollec’ ’bout dem days. I thanks you a lot for dat purty yaller dress, and I hopes you comes back to see me again sometime.”

Baker, Stephens, Tilly,

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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