Slave Narrative of Nathan Jones

Interviewer: Anna Pritchett
Person Interviewed: Nathan Jones
Location: Indiana
Place of Birth: Gibson County, Tennessee
Date of Birth: 1858
Place of Residence: 409 Blake Street

Federal Writers’ Project of the W.P.A. District #6 Marion County Anna Pritchett 1200 Kentucky Avenue


Nathan Jones was born in Gibson County, Tennessee in 1858, the son of Caroline Powell, one of Parker Crimm’s slaves.

Master Crimm was very abusive and cruel to his slaves. He would beat them for any little offense. He took pleasure in taking little children from their mothers and selling them, sending them as far away as possible.

Nathan’s stepfather, Willis Jones, was a very strong man, a very good worker, and knew just enough to be resentful of his master’s cruel treatment, decided to run away, living in the woods for days. His master sent out searchers for him, who always came in without him. The day of the sale, Willis made his appearance and was the first slave to be put on the block.

His new master, a Mr. Jones of Tipton, Tennessee, was very kind to him. He said it was a real pleasure to work for Mr. Jones as he had such a kind heart and respected his slaves.

Nathan remembers seeing slaves, both men and women, with their hands and feet staked to the ground, their faces down, giving them no chance to resist the overseers, whipped with cow hides until the blood gushed from their backs. “A very cruel way to treat human beings.”

Nathan married very young, worked very hard, started buying a small orchard, but was “figgered” out of it, and lost all he had put into it. He then went to Missouri, stayed there until the death of his wife. He then came to Indiana, bringing his six children with him.

Forty-five years ago he married the second time; to that union were four children. He is very proud of his ten children and one stepchild.

His children have all been very helpful to him until times “got bad” with them, and could barely exist themselves.

Interviewer’s Comment

Mr. and Mrs. Jones room with a family by the name of James; they have a comfortable, clean room and are content.

They are both members of the Free Will Baptist Church; get the old age pension, and “do very well.”

Submitted December 15, 1937 Indianapolis, Indiana

Crimm, Jones, Powell,

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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