Slave Narrative of Alice Baugh

Interviewer: Mary A. Hicks
Person Interviewed: Alice Baugh
Date of Interview: May 18, 1937
Location: North Carolina
Age: 64

Plantation Times

An Interview on May 18, 1937 with Baugh, 64, who remembers hearing her mother tell of slavery days.

My mammy Ferbie, an’ her brother Darson belonged ter Mr. David Hinnant in Edgecombe County till young Marster Charlie got married. Den dey wuz drawed an’ sent wid him down hyar ter Wendell. De ole Hinnant home am still standin’ dar ter dis day.

Marster Charlie an’ Missus Mary wuz good ter de hundred slaves what belonged ter’ em. Dey gib ’em good houses, good feed, good clothes an’ plenty uv fun. Dey had dere co’n shuckin’s, dere barn dances, prayer meetin’s an’ sich like all de year, an’ from Christmas till de second day o’ January dey had a holiday wid roast oxes, pigs, turkey an’ all de rest o’ de fixin’s. From Saturday till Monday de slaves wuz off an’ dey had dere Sunday clothes, which wuz nice. De marster always gib ’em a paper so’s de patterollers won’t git ’em.

Dey went up de riber to other plantations ter dances an’ all dem things, an’ dey wuz awful fond uv singin’ songs. Dat’s whut dey done atter dey comes ter dere cabins at de end o’ de day. De grown folkses sings an’ somebody pickin’ de banjo. De favorite song wuz ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’ an’ ‘Play on yo’ Harp Little David’. De chilluns uster play Hide an’ Seek, an’ Leap Frog, an’ ever’body wuz happy.

Dey had time off ter hunt an’ fish an’ dey had dere own chickens, pigs, watermillons an’ gyardens. De fruits from de big orchard an’ de honey from de hives wuz et at home, an’ de slave et as good as his marster et. Dey had a whole heap o’ bee hives an’ my mammy said dat she had ter tell dem bees when Mis’ Mary died. She said how she wuz cryin’ so hard dat she can’t hardly tell ’em, an’ dat dey hum lak dey am mo’nin’ too.

My mammy marry my pappy dar an’ she sez dat de preacher from de Methodis’ Church marry ’em, dat she w’ar Miss Mary’s weddin’ dress, all uv white lace, an’ dat my pappy w’ar Mr. Charlie’s weddin’ suit wid a flower in de button hole. Dey gived a big dance atter de supper dey had, an’ Marster Charlie dance de first [HW correction: fust] set wid my mammy.

I jist thought of a tale what I hyard my mammy tell ’bout de Issue Frees of Edgecombe County when she wuz a little gal. She said dat de Issue Frees wuz mixed wid de white folks, an’ uv cou’se dat make ’em free. Sometimes dey stay on de plantation, but a whole heap uv dem, long wid niggers who had done runned away from dere marster, dugged caves in de woods, an’ dar dey lived an’ raised dere families dar. Dey ain’t wored much clothes an’ what dey got to eat an’ to w’ar dey swiped from de white folkses. Mammy said dat she uster go ter de spring fer water, an’ dem ole Issue Frees up in de woods would yell at her, ‘Doan yo’ muddy dat spring, little gal’. Dat scared her moughty bad.

Dem Issue Frees till dis day shows both bloods. De white folkses won’t have ’em an’ de niggers doan want ’em but will have ter have ’em anyhow.

My uncle wuz raised in a cave an’ lived on stold stuff an’ berries. My cousin runned away ’cause his marster wuz mean ter him, but dey put de blood hounds on his trail, ketched him. Atter he got well from de beatin’ dey gib him, dey sold him.

I’se hyard ole lady Prissie Jones who died at de age of 103 las’ winter tell ’bout marsters dat when dere slaves runned away dey’d set de bloodhounds on dere trail an’ when dey ketched ’em dey’d cut dere haids off wid de swords.

Ole lady Prissie tole ’bout slaves what ain’t had nothin’ ter eat an’ no clothes ‘cept a little strip uv homespun, but my mammy who died four months ago at de age 106 said dat she ain’t knowed nothin’ ’bout such doin’s.

When de Yankees come, dey come a burnin’ an’ a-stealin’ an’ Marster Charlie carried his val’ables ter mammy’s cabin, but dey found ’em. Dey had a money rod an’ dey’d find all de stuff no matter whar it wuz. Mammy said dat all de slaves cried when de Yankees come, an’ dat most uv ’em stayed on a long time atter de war. My mammy plowed an’ done such work all de time uv slavery, but she done it case she wanted to do it an’ not ’cause dey make her.

All de slaves hate de Yankees an’ when de southern soldiers comed by late in de night all de niggers got out of de bed an’ holdin’ torches high dey march behin’ de soldiers, all of dem singin’, ‘We’ll Hang Abe Lincoln on de Sour Apple Tree.’ Yes mam, dey wuz sorry dat dey wuz free, an’ dey ain’t got no reason to be glad, case dey wuz happier den dan now.

I’se hyard mammy tell ’bout how de niggers would sing as dey picked de cotton, but yo’ ain’t hyard none uv dat now. Den dey ain’t had to worry ’bout nothin’; now dey has ter study so much dat dey ain’t happy nuff ter sing no mo’.

“Does yo’ know de cause of de war?” Aunt Alice went to a cupboard and returned holding out a book. “Well hyar’s de cause, dis _Uncle Tom’s Cabin_ wuz de cause of it all; an’ its’ de biggest lie what ever been gived ter de public.”

Baugh, Hinnant,

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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