Slave Narrative of Jack Atkinson

Interviewer: Henrietta Carlisle
Person Interviewed: Jack Atkinson
Interviewed: August 21, 1936
Location: Griffin, Georgia

Rt. D Griffin, Georgia, Interviewed August 21, 1936
[MAY 8 1937]

“Onct a man, twice a child,” quoted Jack Atkinson, grey haired darkey, when being interviewed, “and I done started in my second childhood. I useter be active as a cat, but I ain’t, no mo.”

Jack acquired his surname from his white master, a Mr. Atkinson, who owned this Negro family prior to the War Between the States. He was a little boy during the war but remembers “refugeeing” to Griffin from Butts County, Georgia, with the Atkinsons when Sherman passed by their home on his march to the sea.

Jack’s father, Tom, the body-servant of Mr. Atkinson, “tuck care of him” [HW: during] the four years they were away at war. “Many’s the time I done heard my daddy tell ’bout biting his hands he wuz so hongry, and him and Marster drinking water outer the ruts of the road, they wuz so thirsty, during the war.”

“Boss Man (Mr. Atkinson), wuz as fine a man as ever broke bread”, according to Jack.

When asked how he got married he stated that he “broke off a love vine and throwed it over the fence and if it growed” he would get married. The vine “just growed and growed” and it wasn’t long before he and Lucy married.

“A hootin’ owl is a sho sign of rain, and a screech owl means a death, for a fact.”

“A tree frog’s holler is a true sign of rain.”

Jack maintains that he has received “a second blessing from the Lord” and “no conjurer can bother him.”


Federal Writers' Project. WPA Slave Narratives. Web. 2007.

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