Slave Narrative of Mandy Coverson

Interviewer: Mary A. Hicks
Person Interviewed: Mandy Coverson
Location: 103 South Wilmington Street, Raleigh, North Carolina
Location of Birth: Union County NC
Age: 78

Ex-Slave Story

An interview with Mandy Coverson, 78, of 103 South Wilmington Street, Raleigh.

I wuz borned in Union County to Sarah an’ Henderson Tomberlin. My mother belonged to Mr. Moses Coverson, an’ my pappy belonged to Mr. Jackie Tom Tomberlin. I stayed wid my mammy, of course, an’ Marster Moses wuz good ter me. Dey warn’t so good ter my mammy, case dey makes her wuck frum sunup till sundown in de hot summertime, an’ she ain’t had no fun at all. She plowed two oxes, an’ if’en yo’ has eber been around a steer yo’ knows what aggravatin’ things dey is.

De oberseer, whose name I’se plumb forget, wuz pore white trash an’ he wuz meaner dan de meanest nigger. Anyhow I wuz too little ter do much wuck so I played a heap an’ I had a big time.

My mammy, died ‘fore I wuz very old an’ missus kept me in de house. I wuz petted by her, an’ I reckon spoiled. Yo’ knows dat den de niggers ain’t neber eat no biscuits but missus always gimmie one eber meal an’ in dat way she got me interested in waitin’ on de table.

I wuzn’t old enough ter know much, but I does ‘member how de fambly hid all de valuables ‘fore de Yankees come, an’ dat Marster Moses in pickin’ up de big brass andirons hurt his back an’ dey said dat dat wuz de cause of his death a little while atterwards. Anyhow de andirons wuz saved an’ dar warn’t no trouble wid de Yankees who comed our way, an’ dey ain’t hurt nobody dar.

Dey did kill all de things dat dey could eat an’ dey stold de rest of de feed stuff. Dey make one nigger boy draw water fer dere hosses fer a day an’ night. De Yankees wuz mean ’bout cussin’, but de southern soldiers wuz jist as bad. Wheeler’s Cavalry wuz de meanest in de whole bunch, I thinks.

De Ku Kluxes wuz pretty mean, but dey picked dere spite on de Free Issues. I doan know why dey done dis ‘cept dat dey ain’t wantin’ no niggers a-favorin’ dem nigh by, now dat slavery am ober. Dey done a heap of beatin’ an’ chasin’ folkses out’n de country but I ‘specks dat de Carpet Bagger’s rule wuz mostly de cause of it.

I married Daniel Coverson, a slave on de same plantation I wuz on, an’ forty years ago we moved ter Raleigh. We had a hard time but I’se glad dat he an’ me am free an’ doan belong ter two diff’ent famblies.

Coverson, Tomberlin,

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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