Slave Narrative of Charlie H. Hunter

Interviewer: T. Pat Matthews
Person Interviewed: Charlie H. Hunter
Location: 2213 Barker Street, West Raleigh, North Carolina
Date of Birth: May, 1857
Place of Birth: Wake County NC
Age: 80

My full name is Charlie H. Hunter. I wus borned an’ reared in Wake County, N. C., born May, 1857. My mother wus Rosa Hunter an’ my father wus named Jones. I never saw my father. We belonged to a family named Jones first, an’ then we wus sold to a slave owner seven miles Northwest by the name Joe Hayes an’ a terrible man he wus. He would get mad ’bout most anything, take my mother, chain her down to a log and whup her unmercifully while I, a little boy, could do nothing but stan’ there an’ cry, an’ see her whupped. We had fairly good food an’ common clothing. We had good sleeping places. My mother wus sold to a man named Smith. I married first Annie Hayes who lived sixteen months.

No prayer meetings wus allowed on de plantations an’ no books of any kind. I can read an’ write, learned in a school taught by Northern folks after the surrender, Mr. an’ Mrs. Graves who taught in Raleigh in the rear of the African Methodist Episcopal church. The school house wus owned by the church. We played no games in slavery times. I saw slaves sold on the block once in Raleigh.

I wus to be sold but the surrender stopped it. When the Yankees come they asked me where wus my marster. I told them I didn’t know. Marster told me not to tell where he wus. He had gone off into the woods to hide his silver. In a few minutes the ground wus covered with Yankees. The Yankees stole my pen knife. I thought a lot of it. Knives wus scarce and hard to get. I cried about they taking it. They got my marster’s carriage horses, two fine gray horses. His wife had lost a brother, who had been in the army but died at home. He wus buried in the yard. The Yankees thought the grave wus a place where valuables wus buried and they had to get a guard to keep them from diggin’ him up. They would shoot hogs, cut the hams and shoulders off, stick them on their bayonetts, throw them over the’r shoulders an’ go on.

We called our houses shanties in slavery time. I never saw any patterollers. I don’t remember how many slaves on the plantation wus taken to Richmond an’ sold. My mother looked after us when we wus sick. I had four brothers an’ no sisters. They are all dead. I did house work an’ errands in slavery time. I have seen one gang of Ku Klux. They wus under arrest at Raleigh in Governor Holden’s time. I don’t remember the overseer.

We moved to Raleigh at the surrender. Marster give us a old mule when we left him, an’ I rode him into Raleigh. We rented a house on Wilmington Street, an’ lived on hard tack the Yankees give us ’til we could git work.

Mother went to cooking for the white folks, but I worked for Mr. Jeff Fisher. I held a job thirty-five years driving a laundry truck for L. R. Wyatt. The laundry wus on the corner of Jones an’ Salisbury Street.

I married Cenoro Freeman. We lived together fifty-six years. She wus a good devoted wife. We wus married Dec. 9, 1878. She died in May 1934. [HW: bracket] Booker T. Washington wus a good man. I have seen him. Abraham Lincoln wus one of my best friends. He set me free. The Lawd is my best friend. I don’t know much ’bout Jefferson Davis. Jim Young an’ myself wus pals.

My object in joining the church wus to help myself an’ others to live a decent life, a life for good to humanity an’ for God.

Freeman, Hayes, Hunter,

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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