Henry Dant, now living with his daughter on Davis Street in Hannibal, was born in slavery on the farm of Judge Daniel Kendrick, south of Monroe City in Ralls County. He is about one hundred and five years old, in possession of all his faculties and is able to move around the house. He seemed to have only hazy recollections, and it was difficult to keep him from wandering from the subject. The following is the story that he told:
“I was married and had three children when we was freed. The only slaves Mr. Kendrick had was my mother, brother, sister, and myself. Mr. Kendrick had three boys. Joe carried mail to Paris, and de other two, Bob and Jerome, was school teachers.
“We was treated fair when we behaved ourselves, but we had to be straightened out sometimes but we were not mistreated. We worked hard on de farm. I cradled wheat and plowed corn often till midnight. We often drove hogs to Palmyra and Hannibal. When dere was no crops in de fields we made brooms and baskets. My brother died and den I had to do most of de work. I was de only colored man on de place den. De Stage stopped at Mr. Kendrick’s place and I had to look after de horses and mules. De mall come dere too, and dere was always a lot of people to be fed.
“Mr. Kendrick was judge of de court at New London and he was away most of de time. He was a big man in de county in dem days, and I had to go to town often. Once when I was driving to town with de ox team and wagon during de war, dere was soldiers on de road like you never did see. I tell you dem was bad times. I come back a different road because I was afraid, and I run dem oxen most of de way home. I got dere all right, but de oxen laid down on me once. De next morning one of the oxen was dead and in about a week de other one died. Dey just couldn’t stand de running.
“Two of de master’s boys got locked up over in New London or some place during de war. Dey come back after the war was over.
“I played a fiddle for all de weddings and parties in de neighborhood. Dey paid me fifteen or twenty cents sech time and I had money in my pockets all de time.
“When we was set free dey gave us a side of meat and a bushel of meal. Det’s all we got. I went on a farm and farmed for myself, later I owned a farm in Ralls County. We raised corn and pigs and drove de pigs to Hannibal and Palmyra. When I got too old to farm I come here to live with my daughter. I get a pension now for about a year. It’s not very much but it helps.”
1 thought on “Slave Narrative of Henry Dant of Hannibal, Missouri”
Thank you for sharing Mr. Dent’s story and thank goodness you are collecting and preserving history. Great work! One little suggestion for historical context of your efforts, provide date and place of interview and interviewer’s name and any vital statistics of your subject. Just a suggestion from an archivist! Best wishes on Juneteenth 2020.