Slave Narrative of Midge Burnett

Interviewer: Mary A. Hicks
Person Interviewed: Midge Burnett
Location: 1300 S. Bloodworth Street, Raleigh, North Carolina
Age: 80

Plantation Life In Georgia

An interview with Midge Burnett, 80 years old, of 1300 S. Bloodworth Street, Raleigh, North Carolina.

I wus borned in Georgia eighty years ago, de son of Jim an’ Henretta Burnett an’ de slave of Marse William Joyner.

I wurked on de farm durin’ slavery times, among de cotton, corn, an’ sugar cane. De wurk wusn’t so hard an’ we had plenty of time ter have fun an’ ter git inter meanness, dat’s why Marse William had ter have so many patterollers on de place.

Marse William had near three hundret slaves an’ he kept seben patterollers ter keep things goin’ eben. De slaves ain’t run away. Naw sir, dey ain’t, dey knows good things when dey sees dem an’ dey ain’t leavin’ dem nother. De only trouble wus dat dey wus crazy ’bout good times an’ dey’d shoot craps er bust.

De patterollers ‘ud watch all de paths leadin’ frum de plantation an’ when dey ketched a nigger leavin’ dey whupped him an’ run him home. As I said de patterollers watched all paths, but dar wus a number of little paths what run through de woods dat nobody ain’t watched case dey ain’t knowed dat de paths wus dar.

On moonlight nights yo’ could hear a heap of voices an’ when yo’ peep ober de dike dar am a gang of niggers a-shootin’ craps an’ bettin’ eber’thing dey has stold frum de plantation. Sometimes a pretty yaller gal er a fat black gal would be dar, but mostly hit would be jist men.

Dar wus a ribber nearby de plantation an’ we niggers swum dar ever’ Sadday an’ we fished dar a heap too. We ketched a big mess of fish ever’ week an’ dese come in good an’ helped ter save rations ter boot. Dat’s what Marse William said, an’ he believed in havin’ a good time too.

We had square dances dat las’ all night on holidays an’ we had a Christmas tree an’ a Easter egg hunt an’ all dat, case Marse William intended ter make us a civilized bunch of blacks.

Marse William ain’t eber hit one of us a single lick till de day when we heard dat de Yankees wus a-comin’. One big nigger jumps up an’ squalls, ‘Lawd bless de Yankees’.

Marse yells back, ‘God damn de Yankees’, an’ he slaps big Mose a sumerset right outen de do’. Nobody else wanted ter git slapped soe ever’body got outen dar in a hurry an’ nobody else dasen’t say Yankees ter de marster.

Eben when somebody seed de Yankees comin’ Mose wont go tell de’ marster ’bout hit, but when Marster William wus hilt tight twixt two of dem big husky Yankees he cussed ’em as hard as he can. Dey carries him off an’ dey put him in de jail at Atlanta an’ dey keeps him fer a long time.

Atter de surrender we left dar an’ we moves ter Star, South Carolina, whar I still wurks ‘roun’ on de farm. I stayed on dar’ till fifty years ago when I married Roberta Thomas an’ we moved ter Raliegh. We have five chilluns an’ we’s moughty proud of ’em, but since I had de stroke we has been farin’ bad, an’ I’se hopin’ ter git my ole aged pension.

Burnett, Joyner, Thomas,

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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