Slave Narrative of Julia Williams

Person Interviewed: Julia Williams
Location: Wadsworth, Ohio
Place of Residence: 150 Kyle St., Wadsworth, Ohio

Lees Ohio Guide, Special Ex-Slave Stories August 17, 1937

JULIA WILLIAMS (Supplementary Story)

“After de War deh had to pick their own livin’ an seek homes.

“Shuah, deh expected de 40 acres of lan’ an mules, but deh had to work foh dem.”

“Shuah, deh got paht of de lan but de shuah had to work foh it.

“After de war deh had no place to stay an den deh went to so many diffrunt places. Some of dem today don’t have settled places to live.

“Those owners who were good gave their slaves lan but de othahs jus turned de slaves loose to wander roun’. Othahs try to fine out where dere people were and went to them.

“One day I seed a man who was a doctor down dere, an’ I says, ‘You doktah now?’ An says ‘No, I doan doktah no mow.’ I work foh him once when I was slave, few days durin de war. I say, ‘Member that day you gonna lick me but you didn’, you know I big woman an fight back. Now de war ovah and you can’t do dat now’.

“Slaves didn get money unless deh work for it. Maybe a slave he would work long time before he get eny pay.”

“Lak you hire me an you say you goin to pay me an then you don’t. Lots of them hired slaves aftah de war and worked dem a long time sayin deh gwine pay and then when he ask for money, deh drive him away instead of payin him.

“Yes, some of de slaves were force to stay on de plantation. I see how some had to live.” “They had homes for awhile but when deh wasen’t able to pay dere rent cause deh weren’t paid, deh were thrown out of dere houses.” Some of dem didn’t know when deh were free till long time after de Wah.

“When I were free, one mornin I seed the mistress and she ask me would I stay with her a couple years. I say, ‘No I gonna find mah people an go dere.’

“Anyway, she had a young mister, a son, an he was mean to de slaves. I nebber lak him.

“Once I was sent to mah missys’ brother for a time but I wouldn’ stay dere: he too rough.

“No, deh didn’t want you to learn out of books. My missy say one day when I was free, ‘Now you can get your lessons.’

“I allus lowed to do what I wanted, take what I wanted, and eat what I wanted. Deh had lots of money but what good did it do them? Deh allus was sick.

“De poor soldiers had lots to go thru, even after de wah. Deh starvin and beggin and sick.

“De slaves had more meetins and gatherins aftah de war.

“On de plantation where I work dey had a great big horn blow every mornin to get de slaves up to de field, I allus get up soon after it blew, most allways, but this mornin dey blew de horn a long time an I says, ‘what foh dey blow dat horn so long?’ an den de mastah say, ‘You all is free’. Den he says, ter me, ‘What you all goin to do now’, and I says, ‘I’m goin to fine my mother.’

“One day a soldier stop me an says, ‘Sister, where do you live?’ I tole him, den he says, ‘I’m hungry.’ So I went an got him sompin to eat.

“One time I was to be sold de next day, but de missy tole the man who cried the block not to sell me, but deh sold my mother and I didn’t see her after dat till just befoh de war ovah.

“All dat de slaves got after de war was loaned dem and dey had to work mighty hard to pay for dem. I saw a lot of poor people cut off from votin and dey off right now, I guess. I doan like it dat de woman vote. A woman ain’t got no right votin, nowhow.

“Most of de slaves get pensions and are taken care of by their chillun.”

“Ah doan know about de generation today, just suit yourself bout dat.”

Julia Williams resides at 150 Kyle St., Wadsworth, Ohio.


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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