Interviewer: George Conn
Person Interviewed: Sarah Mann
Location: Akron, Ohio
Date of Birth: 1861
Wilbur Ammon, Editor George Conn, Writer C.R. McLean, District Supervisor June 16, 1937
Folklore Summit County, District #9
Mrs. Mann places her birth sometime in 1861 during the first year of the Civil War, on a plantation owned by Dick Belcher, about thirty miles southwest of Richmond, Virginia.
Her father, Frederick Green, was owned by Belcher and her mother, Mandy Booker, by Race Booker on an adjoining plantation. Her grandparents were slaves of Race Booker.
After the slaves were freed she went with her parents to Clover Hill, a small hamlet, where she worked out as a servant until she married Beverly Mann. Rev. Mike Vason, a white minister, performed the ceremony with, only her parents and a few friends present. At the close of the ceremony, the preacher asked if they would “live together as Isaac and Rebecca did.” Upon receiving a satisfactory reply, he pronounced them man and wife.
Mr. and Mrs. Mann were of a party of more than 100 ex-slaves who left Richmond in 1880 for Silver Creek where Mr. Mann worked in the coal mines. Two years later they moved to Wadsworth where their first child was born.
In 1883 they came to Akron. Mr. Mann, working as laborer, was able to purchase two houses on Furnace Street, the oldest and now one of the poorer negro sections of the city. It is situated on a high bluff overlooking the Little Cuyahoga River.
Today Mrs. Mann, her daughter, a son-in-law and one grandchild occupy one of the houses. Three children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Mann, but only one is living. Mr. Mann, a deacon in the church, died three years ago. Time has laid its heavy hand on her property. It is the average home of colored people living in this section, two stories, small front yeard, enclosed with wooden picket fence. A large coal stove in front room furnishes heat. In recent years electricity has supplanted the overhead oil lamp.
Most of the furnishings were purchased in early married life. They are somewhat worn but arranged in orderly manner and are clean.
Mrs. Mann is tall and angular. Her hair is streaked with gray, her face thin, with eyes and cheek bones dominating. With little or no southern accent, she speaks freely of her family, but refrains from discussing affairs of others of her race.
She is a firm believer in the Bible. It is apparent she strives to lead a religious life according to her understanding. She is a member of the Second Baptist Church since its organization in 1892.
Having passed her three score and ten years she is “ready to go when the Lord calls her.”