Slave Narrative of Measy Hudson

Person Interviewed: Measy Hudson
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Place of Birth: North Carolina
Age: 79-80
Place of Residence: 1209 Jefferson St., Nashville, Tennessee

“Wuz bawn’ in North Carolina en I’se 90 y’ars ole in November. W’en war broke out we kum ter Tennessee en hab bin ‘yer eber since. Wuz ‘yer w’en old Hood fi’rd de cannons. He said he wuz kum’n ‘yer ter Christmas dinnah, but he didn’t do hit.”

“Mah white folks wuz named Harshaw. Marster Aaron Harshaw d’ed en we wuz willed ter his chilluns en dat we wuz not ter be whup’d er ‘bused in anyway. We wuz sold, but long ‘fore de war mah daddy wuz freed en mah manny wuz not freed, but kep’ a slave.”

“De marster’s chilluns wuz small en eber New Y’ar Day, we wuz put on a block en hired out ter de high bidduh, en de money spent ter school de marster’s chilluns.”

“I wuz tole dat sum ob de white peeples wuz so mean ter dere slaves dat de slaves would tek a pot en turn hit down in a hollow ter keep dere whites fum yearin’ dem singin’ en prayin’. De Ku Klux wuz bad on de ex-slaves at fust.”

“De white folks ‘fore de war had w’at dey called “Muster” en I would go down wid dem. I would dance en de folks would gib me money er gib me candy en durin’ de war de soldiers wuz de prettiest things.”

“Got nuthin’ at freedum en wuz not lookin’ fuh nuthin’. Ef marster had lived he might hab gib us sump’in. He wuz a good man en good ter us. Eber since mah freedum, I’se wuk’d as a laundress. Wuk’d fer one fam’ly ober 21 y’ars. ‘Bout two y’ars ago I lefted a tub, en hurt mahself. I’se not able ter wuk now. I hab bin ma’ied twice en I’se voted three times.”

“I went ter schul at Fisk, a short time, w’en hit wuz on 12th Avenue, but I diden’ git ter go long ’nuff ter git en edj’cation.”

“Jis ‘fore de Civil War I members de comet. Hit wuz lak a big sta’r wid a long tail. Eve’body said hit wuz a sign ob Judgement Day.”

“Bad luck signs: Ef’n a picture falls, hit’s a sign ob de’th-bad luck ter step ovuh a broom-ef a clock stop runnin’ en later hit strike, dat means de’th.”

“Sum ob de young peeple terday ez good but sum ob dem don’t wan’ter be nuthin’. De last war ruined mos’ ob de white en de black.”

“I b’leeves in de Baptist ‘ligion en ‘longs ter de Baptist Church, 9th Avenue N. on Cedar Street. De white ‘oman I wuk’d fuh wan’ed me ter join de Christian (colored) chuch. Only song I now members ez “On Jordans Banks I Stand.” “Don’t think dis marrin’ ob whites wid blacks should be ‘lowed en think eve’y culor should stay ter hits-sef.”

“I don’t member now ’bout any stories tole back in ole times. Our white folks wuz Christians en tried ter teach us right en dey diden’ tek up much time tellin’ stories.”

Harshaw, Hudson,

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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