Slave Narrative of Elizabeth Alexander

Interviewer: Cecelia Laswell
Person Interviewed: Elizabeth Alexander
Location: Davies County, Kentucky
Place of Residence: Frederica St.

The following is a very old Negro sermon I found in an old scrap book dated 1839, belonging to Mrs. Elizabeth Alexander, Frederica St. She says she has heard her family refer to parts of it at different time in her early life and supposed that the negro preacher belonged to her people. Quote: Mine deerly fren: Ub dar’s wun ting wot de Lord abominerates worser nor anudder; it is a wicked nigger! A wicked wite man’s bad snuff, dur Lord nose! but dey so dam wite, an so kussed sarcy, day doun no no better, so dar’s some appolleragee fur ’em; but I gin yer for th noe as how, a wicked nigger can nibber scape frum de vengence ob de Lord-day’s no use playin possum any more dan day was ob Joner coorin it into de wale’s belly! (Glory from the congregation) Let um go to de Norf Pole, or to de Souf Pole, to de West Pole, or to de East Pole, or de Poles in any ob de words; he ant a bit safer den he would be in a cellar at 5 pints, wid ole Hays arter him! (groans) Oh! niggers! I tink I see you look round. Yer’s better! Fer wot I tells yer’s trufe! Gorda mity’s trufe! Werrily I say unter yer! Wen de court ob seshions ob de las day cum, ye’ll reckerlect wot I say at dis times! Wen yer hab de Lord fer Recorder, an a jury ob angles, an Gabriel ter report der trial fer de hebbenly “Herald” (deep groans) Yas! den yar’ll turn up de wite ob yer eyes! (Sighs) den ter’ll call fer de rock ter cubber yer! An de hill ter fall top o’ yer. No yer don’t. Kase, in de fus place day woodn’t do it; an in de libenth place, ub day would it would be no better dan ridin in a cart in de big city or gettin under de butcher’s stall in de fly market; fer de Lord can move more mountins in wun minite, dan de biggest nigger in dis congregation could shake a stick at twixt now an next fort ob July (clapping of hands, sighs, groans and grunts) Tink, yer black sinners ob de bottomless pit, deeper dan de hole Holt bored fer water. Oh! yer’ll wish yo cood bore fer wat-r dar! but day’s no water dar, an de deeper yer go, Oh, my bredren, de deeper it git! An den de smell! Yer’ll gib yer soul uv yer had any left, jist fur wun smell ob a rotten egg! Oh, my deelee frens some ob yer hold yer nose wen yer go by de gas works. How der yer spose yer’l feel dare yer smell notin but brimstone an nashin ob teeth! (deep groans) Oh, I hear yer groans, but I ant begin to cum ter worst yit. Oh! my toenail a’most shake off in ma stockin wen I tink ob dat heat ob infernal regins! Den yer tink melted led cold as de young gemmen at de big houses tink a miny julip is now, an besid’s my brederen it keeps a burnin nite on day to de end ob ebrerlastin; yer needn’t tink bimeby yer go from dare to hebben like de Rummin Catlick-No, in de fust place yer don’t; an in de second if yer cood, yer’d git yer def of cole goin frum one place to tudder. An now, my belobbed brederen, lets in terwestigate how tar git bale; how to avoid de Sing Sing ob de world wot’s got to cume. Fiddlin an dancin wont do it. Yer’ll neber git ter hebben by loafin, pitchin cents, an dancin Juba! De only way is ter support de preacher, gib yer money ter me, and I’ll take yer sins on my shoulder. An now I beseech yer not ter leebe dis here holy place an go round er corner, round er corner and fergit de words yer have heered dis night. Next Wednesday ebenin dar will be a sarbice in his place de Lord willin, but next Thursday ebenin weffer or no. An now we will sing inti de 40-elebent him de particlarest meter.

Old Ebe he was de second man fur Adam was de fust–A black man’s made ob ebony, a white man’s made o’ dust.

Methuselah was the oldest man, but Sampson was the strongest–Cats, rats, and puppies all hab tails, but monkies is der longest. (While they were singing the 11th verse, I took my departure.-B.L.)


Davies County KY,

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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