Slave Narrative of Kitty Hill

Interviewer: T. Pat Matthews
Person Interviewed: Kitty Hill
Location: 329 West South Street, Raleigh, North Carolina
Age: 76-77

I tole you yisterday dat my age wus 76 years old, but my daughter come home, an’ I axed her’ bout it an’ she say I is 77 years old. I don’t know exactly the date but I wus born in April. I wus a little girl ’bout five years ole when de surrender come, but I don’t’ member anything much’ bout de Yankees.

I wus born in Virginia, near Petersburg, an’ mother said de Yankees had been hanging’ round dere so long dat a soldier wus no sight to nobody.

‘Bout de time de Yankees come I’ member hearin’ dem talk ’bout de surrender. Den a Jew man by the name of Isaac Long come to Petersburg, bought us an’ brought us to Chatham County to a little country town, named Pittsboro. Ole man Isaac Long run a store an’ kept a boarding house. We stayed on de lot. My mother cooked. We stayed there a long time atter de war. Father wus sent to Manassas Gap at the beginning of de war and I do not ‘member ever seein’ him.

My mother wus named Viney Jefferson an’ my father wus named Thomas Jefferson. We ‘longed to the Jeffersons there and we went by the name of Jefferson when we wus sold and brought to N. C. I do not ‘member my grandparents on my mother’s or father’s side. Mother had one boy an’ three girls. The boy wus named Robert, an’ the girls were Kate, Rosa and Kitty. Marster Long bought mother an’ all de chilluns, but mother never seed father anymore atter he wus sent off to de war.

I married Green Hill in Chatham County. I married him at Moncure about nine miles from Pittsboro. We lived at Moncure and mother moved there an’ we lived together for a long time. When we left Moncure we come ter Raleigh. Mother had died long time ‘fore we left Moncure, Chatham County. We moved ter Raleigh atter de World War.

Mother used ter tell we chilluns stories of patterollers ketchin’ niggers an’ whuppin’ ’em an’ of how some of de men outrun de patterollers an’ got away. Dere wus a song dey used to sing, it went like dis. Yes sir, ha! ha! I wants ter tell you dat song, here it is:

‘Somefolks say dat a nigger wont steal, I caught two in my corn field, one had a bushel, one had a peck, an’ one had rosenears, strung ’round his neck. ‘Run nigger run, Patteroller ketch you, run nigger run like you did de udder day.’

My mother said she wus treated good. Yes she said dey wus good ter her in Virginia. Mother said de slave men on de Jefferson plantation in Virginia would steal de hosses ter ride ter dances at night. One time a hoss dey stole an’ rode ter a dance fell dead an’ dey tried ter tote him home. Mother laughted a lot about dat. I heard my mother say dat de cavalry southern folks was bout de meanest in de war. She talked a lot about Wheeler’s cavalry.

Dere wus a lot of stealin’ an’ takin’ meat, silver, stock an’ anything. Hosses, cows an’ chickens jist didn’t have no chance if a Yankee laid his eyes on ’em. A Yankee wus pisen to a yard full of fowls. Dey killed turkeys, chickens and geese. Now dats de truth. Mother said de Yankees skinned turkeys, chickens and geese ‘fore dey cooked ’em. Sometimes dey would shoot a hog an’ jist take de hams an’ leave de rest dere to spile. Dey would kill a cow, cut off de quarters an’ leave de rest ter rot.

Mother said no prayer meetings wus allowed de slaves in Virginia where she stayed. Dey turned pots down ter kill de noise an’ held meetings at night. Dey had niggers ter watch an’ give de alarm if dey saw de white folks comin’. Dey always looked out for patterollers. Dey were not allowed any edication an’ mother could not read and write nuther.

I ‘member de Ku Klux an’ how dey beat people. One night a man got away from ’em near whar we lived in Chatham County. He lived out in de edge of de woods; and when dey knocked on de door he jumped out at a back window in his night clothes wid his pants in his hands an’ outrun ’em. Dere wus rocks in de woods whar he run an’ dat nigger jist tore his feet up. Dey went ter one nigger’s house up dere an’ de door’ wus barred up. Dey got a ax an’ cut a hole in de door. When de hole got big enough de nigger blammed down on ’em wid a gun an’ shot one of dere eyes out. You know de Ku Klux went disguised an’ when dey got ter your house dey would say in a fine voice, Ku Klux, Ku Klux, Ku Klux, Ku Klux.

[HW correction: New paragraph] Some people say dey are in slavery now an’ dat de niggers never been in nothin’ else; but de way some of it wus I believe it wus a bad thing. Some slaves fared all right though an’ had a good time an’ liked slavery.

Hill, Jefferson, Long,

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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