Slave Narrative of Annie Groves Scott

Person Interviewed: Annie Groves Scott
Place of Birth: Lyonsville, South Carolina
Date of Birth: March 18, 1845

Just before the war broke out I was fifteen year old and my mistress told me I was born March 18, 1845, at a little place she called Lyonsville, South Carolina. Maw (that’s all the name she ever called her mother) was born at Charlotte, N.C., and father was born at Lyonsville, same as me, and his name was Levi Grant, which changed to Groves when he was sold by Master Grant. That was when I was a baby and I wants to tell you about that on down the line. I had a brother name of Robert. How old my folks was I never know, but I know their folks come from Africa on a slave boat. One of my uncles who was done brought here from that place, and who was a slave boatman on the Savannah river, he never learned to talked plain, mostly just jabber like the Negroes done when they first get here. Maw told about how the white people fool the Negroes onto the slave boat; how the boatmen would build pens on the shore and put red pieces of cloth in the pens and the fool Negroes would tear the pen down almost getting them ownselves after the cloth and then getting caught. Then they get ’em onto the boat and shove off on the big waters, leaving the little children crying on the shore never to be seen no more. Them’s the Negroes who just jabber, jabber when they was brought here; wasn’t many of them learn to read or write but some of the children like me the old mistress would teach; that’s how come me to know about words and things. Like I said, my father was sold when I was a baby and Maw saw him sold. He had another woman and some children somewheres and the master say to him one day, ‘I’m going to sell you at the auction tomorrow!’ Maw said the next day all the slaves to be sold was brought to the auction block down by the master’s barn and there was a white man there who lived about two-hundred miles from the Grant plantation who bought my father, paying $1,000 for him because he was a good strong worker. That was the last we ever see of him. Sometimes the master go clean to New Orleans for to buy some new slaves, especially the girl slaves. One time he brought back two of the prettiest ones I ever see; they had long hair, their faces was kinder bright and they seem different than the real black girls. One of them work in the kitchen, the other in the store-room, and they stayed ’til the freedom come. Squire Tom Grant of Lyonsville, South Carolina that’s the way my master use to speak of himself. The mistress name was Emma Grant and she was the one who really raised me because she took me into the big house when I was a baby, so I was raised among the rich folks just like their own children, Dick and Larry. Dick was the oldest and he got to be a doctor; the medicine that boy could fix up for the slaves was something! Rhubarb pills and calomel was the main medicine. The young boy, Larry, was sent down to school at Lexington, Georgia, and he didn’t come to the old plantation but once after the war started. Don’t know if he was in the Confederacy army or just if he kept on at the school and after the war we all scattered so’s I don’t know what happen to him. The master’s house was a big one, with a hall in the middle and a long front porch where I would set and watch the slave children playing in the yard, but when the mistress see me looking like I wanted to go run with them, she frown and say: ‘Don’t you go out there with them dirty children, the Devil will get you sure!’ The master was the same way about it, too. “Stay on the porch,’ he say to me, times and more, ‘your place is here by the mistress and not out chasing with them rascals.” They treat me good all the time; made a pet of me is what the folks said. I slept in the same room with mistress; there was a little bed for me that was pushed under her big bed during the day and pulled out at night. The mistress bed had high posts what come almost to the ceiling of her room and she was mighty fussy about it being made up careful, with no wrinkles in the covers. Along in the war times and them was trouble days the master give me some of the Confederate money when I help to hide some of the keepsakes he was afraid the Yanks would get if they come around. He give Maw enough of that kind of money that she trade it in before it got so worthless and had $100 all for herself. Sometimes she get a pass and go to town and always she bring me back new muslin for a dress or something to wear she spoil me just like the mistress did. She never went to town without a pass. Afraid the patrollers get after her unless she got the word it’s alright for her to be away from Master Grants. She was more afraid than ever after what happened to my uncle Bill Grant. He schemed out to run off and got as far as the river, but the water was high and he couldn’t get across of it. He hide around the brush and pretty soon the hounds was after him, and the patrollers, too, with bull whips what they carried all the time. Anyway, them bloodhounds track Uncle Bill to the river and smell him out where he is hiding. They tell about it after they come back to tell Master Grant his slave is dead. ‘The dogs got him,’ one of the men say, ‘they got him so good he is tore to pieces!’ From what they say the dogs just eat him like they would cow meat; there wasn’t nothing left to bury! The master was always afraid of the Yankees coming and one day during the war he called Maw and some of the other slaves in one of the big rooms and say to them, ‘The damn Yanks ain’t here, but they is coming soon enough! They’ll take everything on the place unless we hide it. That’s what I want you all to do, hide the lard, put the meats in a hard place and all the trinkets of things that you don’t want to lose.’ So that was all done when the Yankee soldiers first come to the big house. The mistress and master was upstairs time of the coming and I was rocking on the front porch. That day I had on a white muslin dress, flounced up with blue and a blue hair ribbon on my curls. That time I was sure scared; they got to coming around the place so regular after that I wasn’t scared no more. The captain ride up to the porch and say, ‘Where is your mother?’ ‘Down in the cornfield.’ I was most too scared to answer him and when he say he wants to water all they horses, I just say, ‘Go ahead!’ When they leave the place, and they don’t do nothing but water the horses, the captain stops by and gives me some money. ‘Give part of it to your mother!’ And away he rides! There was fighting around the country all the time after that, but I seen no battles. Only sometimes I hear the guns going Boom! BOOM! away off and know that pretty soon the soldiers will come running by the place going everywhich way they come by lots of times and I see them bleeding and wanting water to drink. One morning I got up and went out on the porch. There was a man there waiting for help. ‘Would your master give me some medicine?’ the man say to me, and I go into the house and get Master Grant. When the master come out he look at the man and say, ‘Henry! What’s the matter?’ When he finds out the man is shot and sick he takes him into the house and lets him stay. Henry Hill, that was the man’s name, was kin to Tom Hill, one of the plantation owners down in the country more. They say he married a sister of Master Grant after the war ended. Before the war was over Master Grant search out all the things that was hidden and take his slaves to Elberton, Georgia. All the other slave owners do the same. That was the last year of the war and that is where we was all freed. The master got mean along about the time of freedom; some of the slaves was shot because they wouldn’t work. The master say, ‘If they won’t work just get rid of them!’ The overseer done what he said, but Maw and me was one of the family and nobody get mad at us for nothing we do or nothing we don’t. Somehow after the freedom come Maw got a little farm and worked on it. She didn’t do no more spinning for Mistress Grant and no more working in the master’s garden, but she had to work harder than ever before, even was it for her ownself. That’s when I work too. Wore myself out after freedom and got kinder tired hearing folks yelling about Grant and Lincoln setting us free. I married Abraham Scott, then sometime after come to Muskogee; before Statehood it was. There was four children; two of them died. The living are Lizzie and Booey; the boy Booey has a good job at Atlanta. The dead are Robert Scott and John Henry Washington Scott. I belong to the church every year since 80 year ago. Everybody ought to have religion and if anybody gets behind in their religion, just boot him back into the church just like the overseer boot ’em along the cotton rows in slave times!

Grant, Groves, Scott,

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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