Slave Narrative of Milly Henry

Interviewer: Mary A. Hicks
Person Interviewed: Milly Henry
Location: 713 South East Street, Raleigh, North Carolina
Location of Birth: Yazoo City, Mississippi
Age: 82

Ex-Slave Story

An interview with Milly Henry 82 of 713 South East Street, Raleigh, N. C.

I wus borned a slave ter Mr. Buck Boylan in Yazoo City, Mississippi. I doan know nothin’ ’bout my family ‘cept my gran’maw an’ she died in Mississippi durin’ de war.

Marster Buck owned three plantations dar, de Mosley place, Middle place, an’ de Hill place. Me an’ gran’maw lived at de Mosley place. One day Marster Buck comes in, an’ we sees dat he am worried stiff; atter awhile he gangs us up, an’ sez ter us:

De Yankees am a-comin’ to take my slaves ‘way from me an’ I don’t ‘pose dat dey am gwine ter do dat. Fer dem reasons we leaves fer No’th Carolina day atter termorror an’ I ain’t gwine ter hyar no jaw ’bout hit.’

Dat day he goes over de slaves an’ picks out ‘roun’ five hundret ter go. He picks me out, but my gran’maw he sez dat he will leave case she am so old an’ feeble. I hates dat, but I don’t say nothin’ at all.

We leaves home in kivered wagons, wid a heap walkin’ an’ in ’bout three weeks, I reckon, we gits ter Raleigh. You should have been ‘long on dat trip, honey; When we camps side of de road an’ sleeps on de groun’ an’ cooks our rations at de camp fires. I think dat dat wus one spring ‘fore de surrender wus de nex’.

Marster Buck carries us ter Boylan Avenue dar whar de bridge am now an’ we camps fer a few days, but den he sen’s us out ter de Crabtree plantation. He also buys a place sommers east o’ Raleigh an’ sen’s some dar.

I misses my gran’maw fer awhile, but at last Uncle Green comes from Mississippi an’ he sez dat gran’maw am daid, so I pretty quick stops worrin’ over hit.

Marster’ cides ter hire some o’ us out, an’ so I gits hired out ter Miss Mary Lee, who I wucks fer till she got so pore she can’t feed me, den I is hired out ter Miss Sue Blake an’ sent ter de Company Shop up above Durham.

Miss Mary wus good, but Miss Sue she whup me, so I runs away. I went barefooted an’ bareheaded ter de train, an’ I gits on. Atter awhile de conductor comes fer a ticket an’ I ain’t got none. He axes me whar I’se gwine an’ I tells him home, so he brung me on ter Raleigh.

I went right home an’ tol’ Mr. Buck dat Miss Sue whupped me, an’ dat I runned away. He said dat hit wus all right, an’ he hired me out ter Mis’ Lee Hamilton who lived dar on de Fayetteville Street.

She wus a widder an’ run a boardin’ house an’ dar’s whar I seed de first drunk man dat eber I seed. He put de back o’ his knife ginst my neck an’ said dat he wus gwine ter cut my throat. I tell you dat I is knowed a drunk eber since dat time.

I wus drawin’ water at de well at de end of Fayetteville Street when de Yankees comed. I seed ’em ridin’ up de street wid deir blue coats shinin’ an’ deir hosses steppin’ high. I knowed dat I ought ter be skeered but I ain’t, an’ so I stands dar an’ watches.

Suddenly as dey passes de bank out rides two mens frum Wheeler’s calvary an’ dey gits in de middle o’ de street one of de hosses wheels back an’ de man shot right at de Yankees, den he flewed frum dar.

Two of de Yankees retracts frum de army an’ dey flies atter de Rebs. When de Rebs git ter de Capitol one o’ dem flies down Morgan Street an’ one goes out Hillsboro Street wid de Yankees hot in behin’ him.

Dey ketched him out dar at de Hillsboro Bridge when his hoss what wus already tired, stumbles an’ he falls an’ hurts his leg.

Durin’ dat time de big man wid de red hair what dey calls Kilpatrick brung his men up on de square an’ sets under de trees an’ a gang o’ people comes up.

When dey brung de young good lookin’ Reb up ter de redheaded Gen’l he sez ‘What you name Reb?’

De boy sez, ‘Robert Walsh, sir.

What for did you done go an’ shoot at my army?

“Case I hates de Yankees an’ I wush dat dey wus daid in a pile,” de Reb sez, an’ laughs.

“De Gen’l done got his dander up now, an’ he yells,” ‘Carry de Reb sommers out’r sight o’ de ladies an’ hang him.’

De Reb laughs an’ sez, ‘kin’ o’ you sir,’ an’ he waves goodbye ter de crowd an’ dey carried him off a laughin’ fit ter kill.

Dey hanged him on a ole oak tree in de Lovejoy grove, whar de Governor’s mansion am now standin’ an’ dey buried him under de tree.

Way atter de war dey moved his skileton ter Oakwood Cemetery an’ put him up a monument. His grave wus kivered wid flowers, an’ de young ladies cry.

He died brave do’, an’ he kep’ laughin’ till his neck broke. I wus dar an’ seed hit, furdermore dar wus a gang of white ladies dar, so dey might as well a hanged him on de Capitol Square.

De Yankees wus good ter me, but hit shore wus hard ter git a job do’, an’ so I ain’t fared as good as I did’ fore de war.

Mr. Buck wus good ter us. Sometimes he’d lose his temper an’ cuss, den he’d say right quick, ‘God forgive me, I pray.’ Dat man believed in ‘ligion. When de oberseer, George Harris, ‘ud start ter beat a slave dey larned ter yell fer Mr. Buck an’ make lak dey wus gittin’ kilt.

Mr. Buck’d come stompin’ an’ yellin’ ‘stop beatin’ dat nigger.

Course dis ruint de slaves, case dey could talk lak dey pleased ter Mr. Harris, an’ iffen dey could yell loud nuff dey ain’t got no whuppin’.

Yessum, I’se glad slavery am over; we owns dis home an’ some chickens, but we shore does need de ole age pension. I’se got two fine gran’sons, but let me tell you dey needs ter wuck harder, eat less, an’ drink less.

On de count o’ dem boys I wants de ABC Stores so’s dey won’t drink box lye.

Boylan, Henry,

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.

2 thoughts on “Slave Narrative of Milly Henry”

  1. This is an amazing story told by my maternal Great-Grandmother. She is the mother of my mother’s mother.

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