Slave Narrative of Clay Bobbit

Interviewer: Mary A. Hicks
Person Interviewed: Clay Bobbit
Date of Interview: May 27, 1937
Location: S. Harrington Street, Raleigh, North Carolina
Place of Birth: Warren County NC
Date of Birth: May 2, 1937
Age: 100

An interview with Clay Bobbit, 100 of S. Harrington Street, Raleigh, N. C., May 27, 1937.

I wuz borned May 2, 1837 in Warren County to Washington an’ Delisia Bobbit. Our Marster wuz named Richard Bobbit, but we all calls him Massa Dick.

Massa Dick ain’t good ter us, an’ on my arm hyar, jist above de elbow am a big scar dis day whar he whupped me wid a cowhide. He ain’t whupped me fer nothin’ ‘cept dat I is a nigger. I had a whole heap of dem whuppin’s, mostly case I won’t obey his orders an’ I’se seed slaves beat ‘most ter deff.

I wuz married onct ‘fore de war by de broom stick ceremony, lak all de rest of de slaves wuz but shucks dey sold away my wife ‘fore we’d been married a year an’ den de war come on.

I had one brother, Henry who am wuckin’ fer de city, an’ one sister what wuz named Deliah. She been daid dese many years now.

Massa Dick owned a powerful big plantation an’ ober a hundert slaves, an’ we wucked on short rations an’ went nigh naked. We ain’t gone swimmin’ ner huntin’ ner nothin’ an’ we ain’t had no pleasures ‘less we runs away ter habe ’em. Eben when we sings we had ter turn down a pot in front of de do’ ter ketch de noise.

I knowed some pore white trash; our oberseer wuz one, an’ de shim shams[3] wuz also nigh ’bout also. We ain’t had no use fer none of ’em an’ we shorely ain’t carin’ whe’her dey has no use fer us er not.

De Ku Kluxes ain’t done nothin’ fer us case dar ain’t many in our neighborhood. Yo’ see de Yankees ain’t come through dar, an’ we is skeerd of dem anyhow. De white folks said dat de Yankees would kill us if’en dey ketched us.

I ain’t knowed nothin’ ’bout de Yankees, ner de surrender so I stays on fer seberal months atter de wahr wuz ober, den I comes ter Raleigh an’ goes ter wuck fer de city. I wucks fer de city fer nigh on fifty years, I reckon, an’ jis’ lately I retired.

I’se been sick fer ’bout four months an’ on, de second day of May. De day when I wuz a hundert years old I warn’t able ter git ter de city lot, but I got a lot uv presents.

Dis ‘oman am my third lawful wife. I married her three years ago.[4]

[Footnote 3: Shim Sham, Free Issues or Negroes of mixed blood.]

[Footnote 4: The old man was too ill to walk out on the porch for his picture, and his mind wandered too much to give a connected account of his life.]


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

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