Slave Narrative of Charlie Crump

Interviewer: Mary A. Hicks
Person Interviewed: Charlie Crump
Location: Cary, North Carolina
Place of Birth: Evan’s Ferry, Lee or Chatham County, North Carolina
Age: 82
Occupation: Farmer

An interview with Charlie Crump 82 of Cary (near)

I wuz borned at Evan’s Ferry in Lee or Chatham County, an’ I belonged ter Mr. Davis Abernathy an’ his wife Mis’ Vick. My pappy wuz named Ridge, an’ my mammy wuz named Marthy. My brothers wuz Stokes an’ Tucker, an’ my sisters wuz Lula an’ Liddy Ann. Dar wuz nine o’ us in all, but some o’ dem wuz sold, an’ some o’ dem wuz dead.

De Abernathy’s wuzn’t good ter us, we got very little ter eat, nothin’ ter wear an’ a whole lot o’ whuppin’s. Dey ain’t had no slaves ‘cept seben or eight, in fact, dey wuz pore white trash tryin’ ter git rich; so dey make us wuck.

Dey wucks us from daylight till dark, an’ sometimes we jist gits one meal a day. De marster says dat empty niggers am good niggers an’ dat full niggers has got de debil in dem. An’ we ain’t ‘lowed ter go nowhar at night, dat is if dey knowed it. I’se seed de time dat niggers from all ober de neighborhood gang up an’ have fun anyhow, but if dey hyard de patterollers comin’ gallopin’ on a hoss dey’d fly. Crap shootin’ wuz de style den, but a heap of times dey can’t find nothin ter bet.

I toted water, case dat’s all I wuz big enough ter do, an’ lemmie tell yo’ dat when de war wuz ober I ain’t had nary a sprig of hair on my haid, case de wooden buckets what I toted on it wored it plumb off.

When we got hongry an’ could fin’ a pig, a calf or a chicken, no matter who it had belonged to, it den belonged ter us. We raised a heap o’ cane an’ we et brown sugar. Hit ‘s funny dat de little bit dey gibed us wuz what dey now calls wholesome food, an’ hit shore make big husky niggers.

My mammy had more grit dan any gal I now knows of has in her craw. She plowed a hateful little donkey dat wuz about as hongry as she wuz, an’ he wuz a cuss if’en dar eber wuz one. Mammy wuz a little brown gal, den, tough as nails an’ she ain’t axin’ dat donkey no odds at all. She uster take him out at twelve an’ start fer de house an’ dat donkey would hunch up his back an’ swear dat she wuzn’t gwine ter ride him home. Mammy would swear dat she would, an’ de war would be on. He’d throw her, but she’d git back on an’ atter she’d win de fight he’d go fer de house as fast as a scaulded dog.

When we hyard dat de Yankees wuz comin’ we wuz skeerd, case Marse Abernathy told us dat dey’d skin us alive. I’members hit wuz de last o’ April or de fust o’ May when dey comed, an’ I had started fer de cane fil’ wid a bucket o’ water on my haid, but when I sees dem Yankees comin’ I draps de bucket an’ runs.

De folks thar ’bouts burnt de bridge crost de ribber, but de Yankees carried a rope bridge wid ’em, so dey crossed anyhow.

Dem Yankees tuck eber thing dat dey saw eben to our kush, what we had cooked fer our supper. Kush wuz cornmeal, onions, red pepper, salt an’ grease, dat is if we had any grease. Dey killed all de cows, pigs, chickens an’ stold all de hosses an’ mules.

We wuz glad ter be free, an’ lemmie tell yo’, we shore cussed ole marster out ‘fore we left dar; den we comed ter Raleigh. I’se always been a farmer an’ I’se made right good. I lak de white folkses an’ dey laks me but I’ll tell yo’ Miss, I’d ruther be a nigger any day dan to be lak my ole white folks wuz.

Abernathy, Crump,

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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