Slave Narrative of John Daniels

Interviewer: Mary A. Hicks
Person Interviewed: John Daniels
Location: North Carolina

I’se named fer my pappy’s ole massa down in Spartanburg, South Carolina, course I doan know nothin’ ’bout no war, case I warn’t borned. I does ‘member seein’ de ole ‘big house’ do’, maybe you want me ter tell you how hit looked?

It wuz a big white two-story house at de end uv a magnolia lane an’ a-settin’ in a big level fiel’. Back o’ de big house wuz de ole slave cabins whar my folks uster live.

Dey said dat de massa wuz good ter ’em, but dat sometimes in de mo’nin’ dey jist has lasses an’ co’nbread fer breakfas’.

I started ter tell you ’bout de Joe Moe do’.

You mebbe doan know hit, but de prisoners hyar doan git de blues so bad if de company comes on visitin’ days, an’ de mail comes reg’lar. We’s always gittin’ up somepin’ ter have a little fun, so somebody gits up de Joe Moe.

Yo’ sees dat when a new nigger comes in he am skeerd an’ has got de blues. Somebody goes ter cheer him up an’ dey axes him hadn’t he ruther be hyar dan daid. Yo’ see he am moughty blue den, so mebbe he says dat he’d ruther be daid; den dis feller what am tryin’ ter cheer him tells him dat all right he sho’ will die dat [HW correction: ’cause] he’s got de Joe Moe put on him.

Seberal days atter dis de new nigger fin’s a little rag full of somepin twix de bed an’ mattress an’ he axes what hit am. Somebody tells him dat hit am de Joe Moe, an’ dey tells him dat de only way he can git de spell off am ter git de bag off on somebody else. Ever’body but him knows’ bout hit so de Joe Moe keeps comin’ back till a new one comes in an’ he l’arns de joke.

Talkin’ ’bout ghostes I wants ter tell you dat de air am full of ’em. Dar’s a strip from de groun’ ’bout four feet high which am light on de darkes’ night, case hit can’t git dark down dar. Git down an’ crawl an’ yo’ll see a million laigs of eber’ kin’ an’ if’en you lis’ens you’ll hyar a little groanin’ an’ den you has gone through a warm spot.


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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