Slave Narrative of Martha Adeline Hinton

Interviewer: T. Pat Matthew
Person Interviewed: Martha Adeline Hinton
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Date of Birth: May 3, 1861

I wus born May 3, 1861 at Willis Thompson’s plantation in Wake County about fifteen miles from Raleigh. He wus my marster an’ his wife Muriel wus my missus. My father’s name wus Jack Emery an’ mother’s name was Minerva Emery. My mother belonged to Willis Thompson and my father belonged to Ephriam Emery. Mother stayed with my marster’s married daughter. She married Johnny K. Moore.

Marster had three children, all girls; dere names wus Margaret, Caroline and Nancy. There wus only one slave house dere ’cause dey only had one slave whur my mother stayed. Marster Thompson had five slaves on his plantation. He wus good to slaves but his wife wus rough. We had a reasonably [HW correction] good place to sleep an’ fair sumptin to eat. You sees I wus mighty young an’ I members very little ’bout some things in slavery but from what my mother an father tole me since de war it wus just ’bout middlin’ livin’ at marster’s. Slaves wore homemade clothes an’ shoes. De shoes had wooden bottoms but most slave chilluns went barefooted winter an’ summer till dey wus ole ‘nough to go to work. De first pair of shoes I wore my daddy made ’em. I ‘member it well. I will never furgit it, I wus so pleased wid ’em. All slave chillun I knows anything ’bout wore homemade clothes an’ went barefooted most of the time an’ bareheaded too.

I member de Yankees an’ how dey had rods searchin’ for money an’ took things. I members a Yankee goin’ to mother an’ sayin’ we was free. When he lef’ missus come an’ axed her what he say to her an’ mother tole missus what he said an’ missus says ‘No he didn’t tell you you is free, you jes axed him wus you free.’ Father wus hired out to Frank Page of Gary. He wus cuttin cord wood for him, when he heard de Yankees wus coming he come home. When he got dere de Yankees had done been to de house an’ gone.

Durin’ slavery dey tried to sell daddy. De speculator wus dere an ‘daddy suspicion sumpin. His marster tole him to go an’ shuck some corn. Dey aimed to git him in de corn crib an’ den tie him an’ sell him but when he got to the crib he kept on goin’. He went to Mr. Henry Buffaloe’s an’ stayed two weeks den he went back home. Dere wus nuthin’ else said ’bout sellin him. Dey wanted to sell him an buy a ‘oman so dey could have a lot of slave chilluns cause de ‘oman could multiply. Dey hired men out by the year to contractors to cut cord wood an’ build railroads. Father wus hired out dat way. Ole man Rome Harp wus hired out day way. He belonged to John Harp.

Daddy said his marster never did hit him but one blow. Daddy said he wurked hard everyday, an’ done as near right as he knowed how to do in everything. His marster got mad ah’ hit him wid a long switch. Den daddy tole him he wus workin’ bes’ he could for him an’ dat he wus not goin’ to take a whuppin. His marster walked off an’ dat wus de last of it, an’ he never tried to whup him again.

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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