Slave Narrative of Wade Glenn

Interviewer: Miriam Logan
Person Interviewed: Wade Glenn
Location: Lebanon, Ohio
Date of Birth: October 30th

Miriam Logan, Reporter Lebanon, Ohio

Warren County, District 21

Story of WADE GLENN from Winston-Salem North Carolina: (doesn’t know his age)

“Yes Madam, I were a slave-I’m old enough to have been born into slavery, but I was only a baby slave, for I do not remember about slavery, I’ve just heard them tell about it. My Mammy were Lydia Glenn, and father were Caesar Glenn, for they belonged to old Glenn. I’ve heard tell he were a mean man too. My birthday is October 30th-but what year-I don’t know. There were eight brothers and two sisters. We lived on John Beck’s farm-a big farm, and the first work for me to do was picking up chips o’ wood, and lookin’ after hogs.

“In those days they’d all kinds of work by hand on the farm. No Madam, no cotton to speak of, or tobacco then. Just farmin’ corn, hogs, wheat fruit,-like here. Yes Madam, that was all on John Beck’s farm except the flax and the big wooley sheep. Plenty of nice clean flax-cloth suits we all had.

“Beck wasn’t so good-but we had enough to eat, wear, and could have our Saturday afternoon to go to town, and Sunday for church. We sho did have church, large meetin’-camp meetin’-with lot of singin’ an shoutin’ and it was fine! Nevah was no singer, but I was a good dancer in my day, yes-yes Madam I were a good dancer. I went to dances and to church with my folks. My father played a violin. He played well, so did my brother, but I never did play or sing. Mammy sang a lot when she was spinning and weaving. She sing an’ that big wheel a turnin.’

“When I can read my title clear, Up Yonder, Up Yonder, Up Yonder! and another of her spinnin’ songs was a humin:-

“The Promise of God Salvation free to give…” “Besides helpin’ on the farm, father was ferryman on the Yadkin River for Beck. He had a boat for hire. Sometimes passengers would want to go a mile, sometimes 30. Father died at thirty-five. He played the violin fine. My brother played for dances, and he used to sing lots of songs:-

“Ol’ Aunt Katy, fine ol’ soul, She’s beatin’ her batter, In a brand new bowl… -that was a fetchin’ tune, but you see I can’t even carry it. Maybe I could think up the words of a lot of those ol’ tunes but they ought to pay well for them, for they make money out of them. I liked to go to church and to dances both. For a big church to sing I like ‘Nearer My God to Thee’-there isn’t anything so good for a big crowd to sing out big!

“Father died when he was thirty-five of typhoid. We all had to work hard. I came up here in 1892-and I don’t know why I should have, for Winston-Salem was a big place. I’ve worked on farm and roads. My wife died ten years ago. We adopted a girl in Tennennesee years ago, and she takes a care of me now. She was always good to us-a good girl. Yes, Madam.”

Wade Glenn proved to be not nearly so interesting as his appearance promised. He is short; wears gold rimmed glasses; a Southern Colonel’s Mustache and Goatee-and capitals are need to describe the style! He had his comical-serious little countenance topped off with a soft felt hat worn at the most rakish angle. He can’t carry a tune, and really is not musical. His adopted daughter with whom he lives is rated the town’s best colored cook.

Beck, Glenn,

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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