Slave Narrative of Addy Gill

Interviewer: T. Pat Matthews
Person Interviewed: Addy Gill
Location: 1614 “B” St., Lincoln Park, Raleigh, North Carolina
Place of Birth: Millburnie, Wake County, NC
Date of Birth: Jan. 6, 1863
Age: 74
Occupation: Butler

I am seventy four years of age. I wus born a slave Jan. 6, 1863 on a plantation near Millburnie, Wake County, owned by Major Wilder, who hired my father’s time. His wife wus named Sarah Wilder. I don’t know anything ’bout slavery ‘cept what wus tole me by father and mother but I do know that if it had not been for what de southern white folks done for us niggers we’d have perished to death. De north turned us out wid out anything to make a livin’ wid.

My father wus David Gill and, my mother wus Emily Gill. My father wus a blacksmith an he moved from place to place where dey hired his time. Dats why I wus born on Major Wilders place. Marster Gill who owned us hired father to Major Wilder and mother moved wid him. For a longtime atter de war, nine years, we stayed on wid Major Wilder, de place we wus at when dey set us free.

Mr. Wilder had a large plantation and owned a large number of slaves before de surrender. I only ‘members fourteen of de ones I know belonged to him. Mr. Wilder wus a mighty good man. We had plenty to eat an plenty work to do. Dere wus seven in the Major’s family. Three boys, two girls, he an his wife. His boys wus named Sam, Will and Crockett. De girls wus named Florence and Flora. Dey are all dead, every one of ’em. De whole set. I don’t know nary one of ’em dats livin. If dey wus livin I could go to ’em an’ git a meal any time. Yes Sir! any time, day or night.

I farmed for a long time for myself atter I wus free from my father at 21 years of age. Den ’bout twelve years ago I come to Raleigh and got a job as butler at St. Augustine Episcopal College for Colored. I worked dere eight years, wus taken sick while workin dere an has been unable to work much since. Dat wus four years ago. Since den sometimes I ain’t able to git up outen my cheer when I is settin down. I tells you, mister, when a nigger leaves de farm an comes to town to live he sho is takin a mighty big chance wid de wolf. He is just a riskin parishin, dats what he is a doin.

I married forty five years ago this past November. I wus married on de second Thursday night in November to Millie Ruffin of Wake County, North Carolina. We had leben chilluns, six boys an five gals. Four of the boys an one of de gals is livin now. Some of my chilluns went north but dey didn’t stay dere but two months. De one dat went north wus Sam, dat wus de oldest one. He took a notion to marry so he went up to Pennsylvania and worked. Just as soon as he got enough money to marry on he come back an got married. He never went back north no more.

Mother belonged to Sam Krenshaw before she wus bought by Marster Gill. Her missus when she was a girl growin up wus Mrs. Louise Krenshaw. De missus done de whuppin on Mr. Krenshaw’s plantation an she wus mighty rough at times. She whupped mother an cut her back to pieces so bad dat de scars wus on her when she died. Father died in Raleigh an mother died out on Miss Annie Ball’s farm ’bout seven miles from Raleigh. Mother an father wus livin there when mother died. Father den come to Raleigh an died here.

I caint read an write but all my chilluns can read and write. Mother and father could not read or write. I haint had no chance. I had no larnin. I had to depend on white folks I farmed wid to look atter my business. Some of em cheated me out of what I made. I am tellin you de truth ’bout some of de landlords, dey got mighty nigh all I made. Mr. Richard Taylor who owned a farm near Raleigh whur I stayed two years wus one of em. He charged de same thing three times an I had it to pay. I stayed two years an made nothin’. Dis is de truth from my heart, from here to glory. I members payin’ fur a middlin of meat twice. Some of de white folks looked out fur me an prospered. Mr. Dave Faulk wus one of ’em. I stayed wid him six years and I prospered. Mr. John Bushnell wus a man who took up no time wid niggers. I rented from him a long time.

He furnished a nigger cash to run his crap on. De nigger made de crap sold it an carried him his part. He figgered ’bout what he should have an de nigger paid in cash. He wus a mighty good man to his nigger tenants. I never owned a farm, I never owned horses or mules to farm with. I worked de landlords stock and farmed his land on shares. Farmin’ has been my happiest life and I wushes I wus able to farm agin cause I am happiest when on de farm.

I had a quiet home weddin’ an I wus married by a white magistrate. I got up one night an’ wus married at 1 o’clock.

Atter de weddin she went back home wid me. We have had our ups and downs in life. Sometimes de livin’ has been mighty hard, but dere has never been a time since I been free when I could not git a handout from de white folks back yard.

Ball, Gill, Krenshaw, Ruffin, Wilder,

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

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