Slave Narrative of Martha Everette

Interviewer: Elizabeth Watson
Person Interviewed: Martha Everette
Location: Hawkinsville, Georgia
Age: 88

Born in Pulaski County about 1848, the daughter of Isaac and Amanda Lathrop, Martha Everette has lived all her life near where she was born.

Prior to freedom, her first job was “toting in wood”, from which she was soon “promoted” to waiting on the table, house cleaning, etc. She make no claims to have ever “graduated” as a cook, as so many old before-the-war Negresses do.

“Aunt” Martha’s owner was a kind man: he never whipped the slaves, but the overseer “burnt ’em up sometimes.” And her mother was a “whipper, too”—a woman that “fanned” her children religiously, so to speak, not overlooking Martha. All the Watson slaves attended the (White) Baptist church at Blue Springs.

Rations were distributed on Sunday morning of each week, and the slaves had plenty to eat. The slaves were also allowed to fish, thus often adding variety to their regular fare.

Negro women were taught to sew by the overseers’ wives, and most of the slaves’ clothes were made from cloth woven on the plantation. The Yankees visited the Lathrop plantation in ’65, asked for food, received it, and marched on without molesting anything or any body. Truly, these were well-behaved Yankees!

“Aunt” Martha says that she remembers quite well when the Yankees captured Jefferson Davis. She and other slave children were in the “big house” yard when they heard drums beating, and soon saw the Yankees pass with Mr. Davis.

“Aunt” Martha, now old and decrepit, lives with one of her sons, who takes care of her. This son is a gardener and a carpenter and, being thrifty, fares much better than many Negroes of his generation.

Everette, Lathrop,

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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