Slave Narrative of Rosa Barber

Interviewer: William Webb Tuttle
Person Interviewed: Rosa Barber
Location: Muncie, Indiana
Place of Birth: North Carolina
Date of Birth: 1861
Place of Residence: 812 South Jefferson Muncie, Indiana

Submitted by: William Webb Tuttle District No. 2 Muncie, Indiana

SLAVES IN DELAWARE COUNTY ROSA BARBER 812 South Jefferson Muncie, Indiana

Rosa Barber was born in slavery on the Fox Ellison plantation at North Carden[TR:?], in North Carolina, in the year 1861. She was four [HW: ?] years old when freed, but had not reached the age to be of value as a slave. Her memory is confined to that short childhood there and her experiences of those days and immediately after the Civil War must be taken from stories related to her by her parents in after years, and these are dimly retained.

Her maiden name was Rosa Fox Ellison, taken as was the custom, from the slave-holder who held her as a chattel. Her parents took her away from the plantation when they were freed and lived in different localities, supported by the father who was now paid American wages. Her parents died while she was quite young and she married Fox Ellison, an ex-slave of the Fox Ellison plantation. His name was taken from the same master as was hers. She and her husband lived together forty-three years, until his death. Nine children were born to them of which only one survives. After this ex-slave husband died Rosa Ellison married a second time, but this second husband died some years ago and she now remains a widow at the age of seventy-six years. She recalls that the master of the Fox Ellison plantation was spoken of as practicing no extreme discipline on his slaves. Slaves, as a prevailing business policy of the holder, were not allowed to look into a book, or any printed matter, and Rosa had no pictures or printed charts given her. She had to play with her rag dolls, or a ball of yarn, if there happened to be enough of old string to make one. Any toy or plaything was allowed that did not point toward book-knowledge. Nursery rhymes and folk-lore stories were censured severely and had to be confined to events that conveyed no uplift, culture or propaganda, or that conveyed no knowledge, directly or indirectly. Especially did they bar the mental polishing of the three R’s. They could not prevent the vocalizing of music in the fields and the slaves found consolation there in pouring out their souls in unison with the songs of the birds.

Barber, Ellison,

Federal Writers' Project. WPA Slave Narratives. Web. 2007.

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