Slave Narrative of Mack Taylor

Interviewer: W. W. Dixon
Person Interviewed: Mack Taylor
Location: Ridgeway, South Carolina
Age: 97

Mack Taylor lives six miles southeast of Ridgeway, S.C., on his farm of ninety-seven acres. The house, in which he resides, is a frame house containing six rooms, all on one floor. His son, Charley, lives with him. Charley is married and has a small family.

“Howdy do sir! I sees you a good deal goin’ backwards and forwards to Columbia. I has to set way back in de bus and you sets up to de front. I can’t ketch you to speak to you, as you is out and gone befo’ I can lay hold of you. But, as Brer Fox ‘lowed to Brer Rabbit, when he ketched him wid a tar baby at a spring, ‘I is got you now.’

“I’s been wantin’ to ask you ’bout dis old age pension. I’s been to Winnsboro to see ’bout it. Some nice white ladies took my name and ask me some questions, but dat seem to be de last of it. Reckon I gwine to get anything?

“Well, I’s been here mighty nigh a hundred years, and just ’cause I pinched and saved and didn’t throw my money away on liquor, or put it into de palms of every Jezabel hussy dat slant her eye at me, ain’t no valuable reason why them dat did dat way and ‘joyed deirselves can get de pension and me can’t get de pension. ‘Tain’t fair! No, sir. If I had a knowed way back yonder, fifty years ago, what I knows now, I might of gallavanted ’round a little more wid de shemales than I did. What you think ’bout it?

“You say I’s forgittin’ dat religion must be thought about? Well, I can read de Bible a little bit. Don’t it say: ‘What you sow you sure to reap?’ Yes, sir. Us niggers was fetched here ‘ginst our taste. Us fell de forests for corn, wheat, oats, and cotton; drained de swamps for rice; built de dirt roads and de railroads; and us old ones is got a fair right to our part of de pension.

“My marster, in slavery times, lived on de Wateree River. He had a large plantation and, I heard them say, four hundred slaves. He was a hard marster and had me whipped as many times as I got fingers and toes. I started workin’ in de field when I was a boy fifteen years old. De work I done was choppin’ de grass out of de cotton and pickin’ de cotton. What’s become of them old army worms dat had horns, dat us chillun was so scared of while pickin’ cotton? I never see them dese days but I’d rather have them than dis boll weevil I’s pestered wid.

“My marster’s name was Tom Clark. My mistress was a gentle lady, but field niggers never got to speak to her. All I can say is dat de house slaves say she was mighty good to them. I saw de chillun of de white folks often and was glad they would play wid us colored chillun. What deir names? Dere was Marse Alley, Marse Ovid, Marse Hilliard, and Miss Lucy.

“Old marster got kilt in de last year of de war, and Miss Margaret, dat was our Mistress, run de place wid overseers dat would thrash you for all sorts of things. If they ketch you leanin’ on your hoe handle, they’d beat you; step out of your task a minute or speak to a girl, they’d beat you. Oh, it was hell when de overseers was around and de mistress nor none of de young marsters was dere to protect you. Us was fed good, but not clothed so good in de winter time.

“My pappy didn’t b’long to de Clarks at de commencement of de war. Old marster done sold him, ‘way from us, to Col. Tom Taylor in Columbia. After de war, he run a shoe repair shop in Columbia many years befo’ he died. His name was Douglas Taylor and dat is de reason I took de name, Mack Taylor, when I give in my name to de Freedman’s Bureau, and I’s stuck to it ever since.

“I members de Yankees. Not many of them come to Miss Margaret’s place. Them dat did, took pity on her and did nothing but eat, feed deir horses, and gallop away.

“Us was never pestered by de Ku Klux, but I was given a warnin’ once, to watch my step and vote right. I watched my step and didn’t vote a-tall, dat year.

“Mr. Franklin J. Moses was runnin’ for governor. Colored preachers was preachin’ dat he was de Moses to lead de Negroes out of de wilderness of corn bread and fat grease into de land of white bread and New Orleans molasses. De preachers sure got up de excitement ‘mongst de colored women folks. They ‘vised them to have nothin’ to do wid deir husbands if they didn’t go to de ‘lection box and vote for Moses. I didn’t go, and my wife wouldn’t sleep wid me for six months. I had no chillun by her. She died in 1874. After Nancy die, I marry Belle Dawkins. De chillun us had was George, Charley, Maggie and Tommy. Then Belle died, and I married Hannah Cunningham. Us had no chillun. After she died, I marry a widow, Fannie Goings, and us had no chillun.

“My son, George, is in Washington. My daughter, Maggie, is dead. Tommy was in Ohio de last I heard from him. I is livin’ wid my son, Charley, on my farm. My grandson, Mack, is a grown boy and de main staff I lean on as I climb up to de hundred mile post of age.

“I b’longs to de Rehovah Baptist Church. I have laid away four wives in deir graves. I have no notion of marryin’ any more. Goodness and mercy have followed me all de days of my life, and I will soon take up dis old body and dwell in de house of de Lord forevermore.”

Federal Writers' Project. WPA Slave Narratives. Web. 2007.

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