Slave Narrative of Georgianna Foster

Interviewer: T. Pat Matthews
Person Interviewed:  Georgianna Foster
Location: 1308 Poole Road, Route #2., Raleigh, North Carolina
Date of Birth: 1861

I wus born in 1861. I jes’ can ‘member de Yankees comin’ through, but I ‘members dere wus a lot of ’em wearin’ blue clothes. I wus born at Kerney Upchurch’s plantation twelve miles from Raleigh. He wus my marster an’ Missus Enny wus his wife. My father wus named Axiom Wilder and my mother wus Mancy Wilder. De most I know ’bout slavery dey tole it to me. I ‘members I run when de Yankees come close to me. I wus ‘fraid of ’em.

We lived in a little log houses at marsters. De food wus short an’ things in general wus bad, so mother tole me. She said dey wus a whole lot meaner den dey had any business bein’. Dey allowed de patterollers to snoop around an’ whup de slaves, mother said dey stripped some of de slaves naked an’ whupped ’em. She said women had to work all day in de fields an’ come home an’ do de house work at night while de white folks hardly done a han’s turn of work.

Marse Kerney had a sluice of chilluns. I can’t think of ’em all, but I ‘members Calvin, James, Allen, Emily, Helen, an’ I jest can’t think of de rest of de chilluns names.

Mother said dey gathered slaves together like dey did horses an’ sold ’em on de block. Mother said dey carried some to Rolesville in Wake County an’ sold ’em. Dey sold Henry Temples an’ Lucinda Upchurch from marster’s plantation, but dey carried ’em to Raleigh to sell ’em.

We wore homemade clothes an’ shoes wid wooden bottoms. Dey would not allow us to sing an’ pray but dey turned pots down at de door an’ sung an’ prayed enyhow an’ de Lord heard dere prayers. Dat dey did sing an’ pray.

Mother said dey whupped a slave if dey caught him wid a book in his hand. You wus not ‘lowed no books. Larnin’ among de slaves wus a forbidden thing. Dey wus not allowed to cook anything for demselves at de cabins no time ‘cept night. Dere wus a cook who cooked fur all durin’ de day. Sometimes de field han’s had to work ’round de place at night after comin’ in from de fields. Mother said livin’ at marster’s wus hard an’ when dey set us free we left as quick as we could an’ went to Mr. Bob Perry’s plantation an’ stayed there many years. He wus a good man an’ give us all a chance. Mother wus free born at Upchurch’s but when de war ended, she had been bound to Wilder by her mother, an’ had married my father who wus a slave belongin’ to Bob Wilder. Dey did not like de fare at Marster Upchurch’s or Marster Wilder’s, so when dey wus set free dey lef’ an’ went to Mrs. Perry’s place.

Dey had overseers on both plantations in slavery time but some of de niggers would run away before dey would take a whuppin’. Fred Perry run away to keep from bein’ sold. He come back do’ an’ tole his marster to do what he wanted to wid him. His marster told him to go to work an’ he stayed dere till he wus set free. God heard his prayer ’cause he said he axed God not to let him be sold.

Mother an’ father said Abraham Lincoln come through there on his way to Jeff Davis. Jeff Davis wus de Southern President. Lincoln say, ‘Turn dem slaves loose, Jeff Davis,’ an’ Jeff Davis said nuthin’. Den he come de second time an’ say, ‘Is you gwine to turn dem slaves loose?’ an’ Jeff Davis wouldn’t do it. Den Lincoln come a third time an’ had a cannon shootin’ man wid him an’ he axed, ‘Is you gwine to set dem slaves free Jeff Davis?’ An’ Jeff Davis he say, ‘Abraham Lincoln, you knows I is not goin’ to give up my property, an’ den Lincoln said, ‘I jest as well go back an’ git up my crowd den.’ Dey talked down in South Carolina an’ when Jeff Davis ‘fused to set us free, Lincoln went home to the North and got up his crowd, one hundred an’ forty thousand men, dey said, an’ de war begun. Dey fighted an’ fighted an’ de Yankees whupped. Dey set us free an’ dey say dat dey hung Jeff Davis on a ole apple tree.

Foster, Upchurch, Wilder,

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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