Slave Narrative of George Morrison

Interviewer: Iris Cook
Person Interviewed: George Morrison
Location: New Albany, Indiana
Place of Residence: 25 East 5t., New Albany, Indiana
Place of Birth: Union County, Kentucky

Iris Cook District 4 Floyd County

STORY OF GEORGE MORRISON 25 East 5th St., New Albany, Ind.

Observation of the writer

(This old negro, known as “Uncle George” by the neighbors, is very particular about propriety. He allows no woman in his house unless accompanied by a man. He says “It jest a’nt the proper thing to do”, but he came to a neighbors for a little talk.)

“I was bawn in Union County, Kentucky, near Morganfield. My master was Mr. Ray, he made me call him Mr. Ray, wouldent let me call him Master. He said I was his little free negro.”

When asked if there were many slaves on Mr. Ray’s farm, he said, “Yes’m, they was seven cabin of us. I was the oldes’ child in our family. Mr. Ray said “He didn’t want me in the tobacco”, so I stayed at the house and waited on the women folk and went after the cows when I was big enough. I carried my stick over my shoulder for I wus afraid of snakes.”

“Mr. Ray was always very good to me, he liked to play with me, cause I was so full of tricks an’ so mischuvus. He give me a pair of boots with brass toes. I shined them up ever day, til you could see your face in ’em.”

“There wuz two ladies at the house, the Missus and her daughter, who was old enough to keep company when I was a little boy. They used to have me to drive ’em to church. I’d drive the horses. They’d say, ‘George, you come in here to church.’ But I always slipped off with the other boys who was standing around outside waitin’ for they folks, and played marbles.”

“Yes, ma’am, the War sho did affect my fambly. My father, he fought for the north. He got shot in his side, but it finally got all right. He saved his money and came north after the war and got a good job. But, I saw them fellows from the south take my Uncle. They put his clothes on him right in the yard and took him with them to fight. And even the white folks, they all cried. But he came back, he wasnt hurt but he wasent happy in his mind like my pappy was.”

“Yes ma’am, I would rather live in the North. The South’s all right but someways I just don’t feel down there like I does up here.”

“No ma’am, I was never married. I don’t believe in getting married unless you got plenty of money. So many married folks dont do nuthin but fuss and fight. Even my father and mother always spatted and I never liked that and so I says to myself what do I want to get married for. I’m happier just living by myself.”

“Yes Ma’am. I remember when people used to take wagon loads of corn to the market in Louisville, and they would bring back home lots of groceries and things. A colored man told me he had come north to the market in Louisville with his master, and was working hard unloading the corn when a white man walks up to him, shows him some money and asks him if he wanted to be free? He said he stopped right then and went with the man, who hid him in his wagon under the provisions and they crossed the Ohio River right on the ferry. That’s the way lots of ’em got across here.”

“Did I ever hear of any ghosts. Yes ma’am I have. I hear noises and I seed something once that I never could figger out. I was goin’t thru the woods one day, and come up sudden in a clear patch of ground. There sat a little boy on a stump, all by his-self, there in the woods. I asks him who he wuz & wuz he lost, and he never answered me. Jest sat there, lookin at me. All of a sudden he ups and runs, and I took out after him. He run behind a big tree, and when I got up to where I last seed him, he wuz gone. And there sits a great big brown man twice as big as me, on another stump. He never seys a word, jest looks at me. And then I got away from there, yes ma’am I really did.”

“A man I knew saw a ghost once and he hit at it. He always said he wasn’t afraid of no ghost, but that ghost hit him, and hit him so hard it knocked his face to one side and the last time I saw him it was still that way. No ma’am, I don’t really believe in ghosts, but you know how it is, I lives by myself and I don’t like to talk about them for you never can tell what they might do.

“Lady you ought to hear me rattle bones, when I was young. I caint do it much now for my wrists are too stiff. When they played Turkey in the Straw how we all used to dance and cut up. We’ed cut the pigeon wing, and buck the wind [HW: wing?], and all. But I got rewmaytism in my feet now and ant much good any more, but I sure has done lots of things and had lots of fun in my time.”

Morrison, Ray,

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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