Slave Narrative of John Coggin

Interviewer: Mary A. Hicks
Person Interviewed: John Coggin
Location: Method, North Carolina
Date of Birth: March 1, 1852
Location of Birth: Orange County NC

Ex-Slave Story.

An interview with John Coggin 85, of Method, N. C.

When the interviewer first visited Uncle John he was busy cutting hay for a white family nearby, swinging the scythe with the vigor of a young man. In late afternoon he was found sitting on the doorsteps of his granddaughter’s house after a supper which certainly had onions on the menu and was followed by something stronger than water.

“I was borned on March 1, 1852 in Orange County. My mammy wuz named Phillis Fenn an’ she wuz from Virginia. I ain’t neber had no paw an’ I ain’t wanted none, I ain’t had no brothers nar sisters nother.”

“We ‘longed ter Doctor Jim Leathers, an’ de only whuppin’ I eber got wuz ’bout fightin’ wid young Miss Agnes, who wuz sommers long’ bout my age. Hit wuz jist a little whuppin’ but I’ members hit all right.”

“We wucked de fiel’s, I totin’ water fer de six or seben han’s that wucked dar. An’ we jist wucked moderate like. We had plenty ter eat an’ plenty ter w’ar, do’ we did go barefooted most of de year. De marster shore wuz good ter us do’.”

“I ‘members dat de fust I hyard of de Yankees wuz when young marster come in an’ says, ‘Lawd pa, de Yankees am in Raleigh.'”

“Dat ebenin’ I wuz drawin’ water when all of a sudden I looks up de road, an’ de air am dark wid Yankees. I neber seed so many mens, hosses an’ mules in my life. De band wuz playin’ an’ de soldiers wuz hollerin’ an’ de hosses wuz prancin’ high. I done what all of de rest o’ de slaves done, I run fer de woods.”

“Atter de surrender we moved ter a place nigh Dix Hill hyar in Raleigh an’ my mammy married a Coggin, dar’s whar I gits my name. All of us slaves moved dar an’ farmed.”

“Way long time atter dat ole Marster Jim come ter visit his niggers, an’ we had a big supper in his honor. Dat night he died, an’ ‘fore he died his min’ sorta wanders an’ he thinks dat hit am back in de slave days an’ dat atter a long journey he am comin’ back home. Hit shore wuz pitiful an’ we shore did hate it.”

“Yes ‘um honey, we got ‘long all right atter de war. You knows dat niggers ain’t had no sense den, now dey has. Look at dese hyar seben chilluns, dey am my great gran’chillun an’ dey got a heap mo’ sense dan I has right now.”

Coggin, Fenn, Leathers,

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

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