Slave Narrative of Jerry Davis

Interviewer: Mary A. Hicks
Person Interviewed: Jerry Davis
Location: 228 E. South Street, Raleigh, North Carolina
Place of Birth: Warren County NC
Age: 74

Jerry Davis Ex-Slave Story and Folk Tale

An interview with Jerry Davis 74 of 228 E. South Street, Raleigh, North Carolina.

I wus borned in Warren County ter Mataldia an’ Jordan Davis. Dere wus twenty-two o’ us chilluns, an’ natu’ally Marster Sam Davis laked my mammy an’ daddy. He owned two hundert an’ sebenty slaves, an’ three, four, or five scopes o’ lan’.

Marster wus good ter us, he gibe us plenty ter eat, an’ w’ar, an’ he wus good an’ kind in his talkin’. I warn’t big ’nuff ter do much ‘sides min’ de chickens, an’ sich lak.

I doan ‘member so much ’bout de Yankees comin’ ‘cept sein’ dem, an’ dat dey gibe my pappy a new blue overcoat an’ dat I slep’ on it onct er twict. I knows dat de Yankees wus good ter de niggers but dey warn’t so good ter de ole Issues. Dey did ‘stroy most eber’thing do’.

I can’t ‘member, but I’se hyard my mammy tell o’ dances, co’n shuckin’s, wrestlin’ matches, candy pullin’s an’ sich things dat wus had by de slaves dem days.

My pappy tol’ me ’bout de cock fights in de big pits at Warrenton an’ how dat when de roosters got killed de owner often gibe de dead bird ter him. I’se also hyard him tell ’bout de hoss races an’ ’bout Marster Sam’s fine hosses.

I knows dat de marster an’ missus wus good case my mammy an’ daddy ‘sisted on stayin’ right on atter de war, an’ so dey died an’ was buried dar on Marster Sam’s place.

I wucked in de Dupont Powder plant durin’ de World War but I wus discharged case I had acid injury.

Yessum, I’ll tell you de only rale ole tale dat I knows an’ dat am de story’ bout—-Jack.


Onct dar wus a white man down in Beaufort County what owned a nigger named Jack. Dis man owned a boat an’ he was fer ever more goin’ boat ridin’, fer days an’ nights. He larned Jack how ter steer an’ often he’d go ter sleep leavin’ Jack at de wheel, wid ‘structions ter steer always by de seben stars.

One night as Jack steered for his master to sleep, Jack suddenly fell asleep too. When he awake it wuz jist at de crack of dawn so no stars wus dar.

Jack went flyin’ ter de marster hollerin’, ‘please sur marster, hang up some mo’ stars, I done run by dem seben’.

Jack and the Devil

Onct Jack an’ de debil got inter a ‘spute ’bout who can throw a rock de ferderest. De debil sez dat he can throw a rock so fur dat hit won’t come down in three days.

Iffen you can throw a rock furder dan dat, sez de debil, I’ll give you yer freedom.

De debil chunks a rock an’ hit goes up an’ stays fer three days. When hit comes down Jack picks hit up an’ he ‘lows, ‘Good Lawd, move de stars an’ de moon case dar’s a rock comin’ ter heaben’.

De debil sez, ‘Iffen you can do dat den you can beat me case I can’t throw a rock in a mile o’ heaben’.


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

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