Slave Narrative of Rev. John Moore

Person Interviewed: Rev. John Moore
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Place of Birth: Georgia
Place of Residence: 809 7th Avenue So., Nashville, Tennessee

“I wuz bawn in Georgia (exact time not known) en mah mammy wuz half Indian en mah daddy a slave. Both ob dem owned by William Moore. Sum time atter dat Marster Moore sold mah daddy en den de Moore Sistuhs looked atter me en wuz allus good ter me. “Lawdy, dey wuz good white folks.”

“Durin’ slavery times de slaves would hab ter git fum dere marster a pas’ ‘fore dey could visit dere own people on de uther plantations. Ef’n you had no pass you would git in trouble ef caught wid out one which allus ment a good whuppin’ w’en dey returned. At dat time menny slaves would run ‘way en hide in caves en menny ob dem would go by de “ondergroun’ railroad” ter Canada whar slavery wuz not recognized.” (The underground railroad consisted of hiding places throughout the states to Canada and the slaves would make the trip under cover from station to station.)

“De slaves would slip out at nite ter private meetin’s en turn a pot bottom up on de groun’ en leave a little hole under hit so de sound ob dere talkin’ would go onder de pot en no one would ‘year whut dey wuz talkin’ ’bout.”

“De ex-slaves ob de better class did vote en de white peeple stuck wid de good cul’ed folks. I don’ member now ’bout de Nat Turner ‘Bellion.”

“Atter freedum de slaves wuz ‘lowed ter stay on de plantation en ‘lowed ter farm en gib half dey made. Atter slavery I useter wuk fer fifty cents en git a peck ob meal, three pounds ob bacon en a quart ob syrup which would las’ a week.”

“De Ku Klux Klan’s plan wuz ter whup all white er cul’ed people dat didn’t stay at home en support dere families but would run ‘roun en live a bad life. W’en de Klan would be passin’ through de slaves would call dem ghostus.”

“One nite mah br’er en me wuz sleepin’ in de dining room. Sumpin woke us an we seed sumpin’ dat kum through de yard en got hold ob sum blocks. Dat thing didn’t hab no haid en didn’t hab no tale en looked lak hit wuz backin’ up on all four legs. Nex mawnin’ we could fin’ no tracks ob whuteber hit wuz en de gate wuz also fasened.”

“Dis young peoples ‘cordin’ ter de Bible ez on de broad road ter ruin. Dey think dey ez as good as de white people but dey ez classed as niggahs in mah eyes.”

“Caint member any ob de ole songs now.”


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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