Slave Narrative of Bill Crump

Interviewer: Mary A. Hicks
Person Interviewed: Bill Crump
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Age: 82

I reckon dat I wus borned in Davidson County on de plantation of Mr. Whitman Smith, my mammy’s marster.

My daddy wus named Tom an’ he ‘longed ter Mr. Ben Murry fust an’ later ter Mr. Jimmy Crump. Daddy wus named atter his young marster. Dey lived in Randolph, de county next ter Davidson whar me mammy an’ de rest of de chilluns, Alt, George, Harriet, Sarah, Mary an’ de baby libed.

Both of de marsters wus good ter us, an’ dar wus plenty ter eat an’ w’ar, an’ right many jubilees. We ain’t none of de dozen er so of us eber got a whuppin’, case we ain’t desarved no whuppin’; why, dar wusn’t eben a cowhide whup anywhar on de place. We wucked in de fie’ls from sunup ter sundown mos’ o’ de time, but we had a couple of hours at dinner time ter swim or lay on de banks uv de little crick an’ sleep. Ober ’bout sundown marster let us go swim ag’in iff’en we wanted ter do it.

De marster let us have some chickens, a shoat an’ a gyarden, an’ ‘tater patch, an’ we had time off ter wuck ’em. In season we preserved our own fruits fer de winter an’ so we larned not ter be so heaby on de marster’s han’s.

My daddy wus a fiddler, an’ he sometimes played fer de dances at de Cross Roads, a little village near de marster’s place. All what ain’t been mean could go, but de mean ones can’t, an’ de rest o’ us has ter habe a pass ter keep de patterollers from gittin us.

Yes mam, we had our fun at de dances, co’n chuckin’s, candy pullin’s, an’ de gatherin’s an’ we sarbed de marster better by habin’ our fun.

I’se seed a bunch o’ slaves sold a heap of times an’ I neber seed no chains on nobody. Dey jist stood dem on de table front of de post office at Cross Roads an’ sol’ ’em ter de one what bids de highes’.

We hyard a whisper ’bout some slaves bein’ beat ter death, but I ain’t neber seed a slave git a lick of no kin’, course atter de war I seed de Ku Klux runnin’ mean niggers.

Dar wus no marryin’ on de plantation, iffen a nigger wants a ‘oman he has got ter buy her or git her marster’s permit, den dey am married.

When one o’ de slaves wus sick he had a doctor fast as lightnin’, an’ when de died he wus set up wid one night. De marster would gibe de mourners a drink o’ wine mebbe, an’ dey’d mo’n, an’ shout, an’ sing all de night long, while de cop’se laid out on de coolin’ board, which ‘minds me of a tale.

Onct we wus settin’ up wid a nigger, ‘fore de war an’ hit bein’ a hot night de wine wus drunk an’ de mo’ners wus settin’ front o’ de do’ eatin’ watermillons while de daid man laid on de coolin’ board. Suddenly one of de niggers looks back in at de do’, an’ de daid man am settin’ up on de coolin’ board lookin right at him. De man what sees hit hollers, an’ all de rest what has been wishin ‘dat de daid man can enjoy de wine an’ de watermillons am sorry dat he has comed back.

Dey doan take time ter say hit do’, case dey am gone ter de big house. De marster am brave so he comes ter see, an’ he says dat hit am only restrictions o’ de muscles.

De nex’ mornin’, as am de way, dey puts de man in a pine box made by ‘nother slave an’ dey totes him from de cabin ter de marster’s buryin’ groun’ at de cedars; an’ de slaves bury’s him while de marster an’ his fambly looks on.

I doan know much ’bout de Yankees case de warn’t none ‘cept de skirtin’ parties comed our way.

Atter de war we stays on fer four or five years mebbe, an’ I goes ter school two weeks. De teacher wus Mr. Edmund Knights from de No’th.

I’se sarbed four years an’ ten months of a eight ter twelve stretch fer killin’ a man. Dis man an’ a whole gang o’ us wus at his house gamblin’. I had done quit drinkin’ er mont’ er so ‘fore dat, but dey ‘sists on hit, but I ‘fuses. Atter ‘while he pours some on me an’ I cusses him, den he cusses me, an’ he says dat he am gwine ter kill me, an’ he follers me down de road. I turns roun’ an’ shoots him.

Dat am all of my story ‘cept dat I has seen a powerful heap of ghostes an’ I knows dat dey comes in white an’ black, an’ dat dey am in de shape er dogs, mens, an’ eber’thing dat you can have a mind to.

Crump, Murry,

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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