Slave Narrative of William George Hinton

Interviewer: T. Pat Matthews
Person Interviewed: William George Hinton
Location: North Carolina
Date of Birth: August 28th, 1859
Place of Birth: Wake County NC

Star Street, R. F. D. #2, Box 171

I was born in Wake County in de year 1859, August 28th. I ‘members seeing de Yankees, it seems like a dream. One come along ridin’ a mule. Dey sed he wus a Yankee bummer, a man dat went out raging on peoples things. He found out whur the things wus located an’ carried the rest there. The bummers stole for de army, chickens, hogs, an’ anything they could take. Atter de bummer come along in a few minutes de whole place wus crowded wid Yankees. De blue coats wus everywhere I could look.

Marster didn’t have but five slaves, an’ when de Yankees come dere wus only me an’ my oldest sister dere. All de white folks had left except missus and her chillun. Her baby wus only three weeks ole then.

A Yankee come to my oldest sister an’ said, ‘Whur is dem horses?’ He pulled out a large pistol an’ sed, ‘Tell me whur dem horses is or I will take your damn sweet life.’ Marster hid de horses an’ sister didn’t know, she stuck to it she didn’t know an’ de Yankees didn’t shoot.

Dey come back, de whole crowd, de next day an’ made marster bring in his horses. Bey took de horses an’ bought some chickens an’ paid for ’em, den dey killed an’ took de rest. Ha! ha! dey shore done dat. Paid for some an’ took de rest.

I seed de Yankees atter de surrender. Dey wus staying at de ole Soldiers Home on New Bern Avenue. One day mother carried me there to sell to ’em. One time she went there an’ she had a rooster who wus a game. His eyes wus out from fighting another game rooster belonging to another person near our home, Mr. Emory Sewell. She carried de rooster in where dere wus a sick Yankee. De Yankee took him in his hands an’ de rooster crowed. He give mother thirty-five cents for him. De Yankee said if he could crow an’ his eyes out he wanted him. He said, he called dat spunk.

Dere wus a man who wus a slave dat belonged to Mr. Kerney Upchurch come along riding a mule. My oldest sister, de one de Yankees threatened, tole him de Yankees are up yonder. He said, ‘Dad lim de Yankees.’ He went on, when he got near de Yankees dey tole him to halt.’ Instead of haltin’ he sold out runnin’ the mule fur de ole field. Der wus a gang of young fox hounds dere. When he lit out on de mule, dey thought he wus goin’ huntin’ so dey took out atter him, jest like dey wus atter a fox. Some of de Yankees shot at him, de others just almost died a laughin’.

We didn’t git much to eat. Mother said it wus missus fault, she was so stingy.

We had homemade clothes an’ wooden bottom shoes for de grown folks, but chillun did not wear shoes den, dey went barefooted.

All de slaves lived in one house built about one hundred yards from the great house, marsters house wus called the great house.

My father wus named Robin Hinton an’ my mother wus named Dafney Hinton. My father belonged to Betsy Ransom Hinton an’ mother belonged first to Reddin Cromb in Lenoir County an’ then to James Thompson of Wake County. I wus borned after mother wus brought to Wake County. Marster had one boy named Beuregard, four girls, Caroline, Alice, Lena and Nellie. I do not remember my grandparents.

I saw a slave named Lucinda, sold to ole man Askew, a speculator, by Kerney Upchurch. I seed ’em carry her off.

One of de slave men who belonged to ole man Burl Temples wus sent to wurk for Mr. Temples’ son who had married. His missus put him to totin’ water before goin’ to wurk in de mornin’. Three other slaves toted water also. He refused to tote water an’ ran. She set de blood hounds atter him an’ caught him near his home, which wus his ole marster’s house. Ole marster’s son come out, an’ wouldn’t let ’em whup him, an’ they wouldn’t make him go back.

Missus Harriet Temples wus a terrible ‘oman, a slave jest couldn’t suit her. De slave dat run away from young marster wus finally sent back. His marster give him a shoulder of meat before he left. He hung it in a tree. Missus tole him to put it in the smoke house. He refused, sayin’ he would see it no more.

A slave by the name of Sallie Temples run away ’cause her missus, Mary Temples, wus so mean to her. She stuck hot irons to her. Made ’em drink milk an’ things for punishment is what my mother an’ father said. Sallie never did come back. Nobody never did know what become of her.

Soon as de war wus over father an’ mother left dere marsters. Dey went to Mr. Tom Bridgers. We lived on de farm atter dis. Mother cooked, sister an’ I worked on de farm. Sister plowed like a man. De first help my mammy got wus from de Yankees, it wus pickle meat an’ hardtack. I wus wid her an’ dey took me in an’ give me some clothes. Mother drawed from ’em a long time. We have farmed most our lives. Sometimes we worked as hirelings and den as share croppers. I think slavery wus a bad thing.

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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