Slave Narrative of Red Richardson

Person Interviewed: Red Richardson
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Place of Birth: Grimes County, Texas
Date of Birth: July 21, 1862
Age: 75

I was born July 21, 1862, at Grimes County, Texas. Smith Richardson was my father’s name. and Rliza Richardson my mother’s. We lived in so many places round there I can’t tell jest what. but we lived in a log house most of the time. We slept on the flo’ on pallets on one quilt. We ate cornbread, beans, vegetables, and got to drink plenty milk, We ate rabbits, fish, possums and such as that but we didn’t get no chicken. I don’t have no fav’rite food, I don’t guess. We wore shirts, long shirts slit up the side. I didn’t know what pants was until I was 14. In Grimes County it ain’t even cold these days, and I never wore no shoes. I married in a suit made of broad cloth. It had a tail on the coat. Master Ben Hadley, and Mistress Winnie Hadley, they had three sons: Josh, Henry and Charley. Didn’t have no overseer. We had to call all white folks, poor or rich, Mr. Master and Mistress. Master Hadiey owned ’bout 2,000 acres. He had a big number of slaves. They used to wake ’em up early in the mornings by ringing a large bell. They said they used to whip ’em, drive ’em, and sell ’em away from their chillun, I’d hear my old folks talk about it. Say they wasn’t no such a thing as going to jail. The matter stood good for anything his nigger done. If the master’s nigger killed ‘in another nigger. the old master stood good. They never had no schools for the Negro chillun. I can’t remember the date of the first school, its in a book someplace, but anyway I went to one of the first schools that was establithed for the education of Negro chillun. You know Mr. Negro always was a church man, but he don’t mean nothing. I don’t have no fav’rite spiritual. All of them’s good ones. Whenever they’d baptise they’d sing:

“Harp From the Tune the Domeful Sound.”
Which starts like this:
“Come live in man and view this ground where we must sho’ly lie.”

I’m a member of Tabernacle Baptist Church myself, and I think all people should be religious ’cause Jesus died for us all. The patrollers used to run after me but I’d jump ’em. They used to have a permit to go from one plantation to another. You had to go to old master and say, “I want to go to such and such a place.” And if you had a permit they didn’t bother you. The pateroller would stop you and say, “Where you going? You got a permit to go to such and such a place?” You’d say. yes suh, and show that pass. Den he wouldn’t bother you and iffen he did old master would git on ’em.ame from Virginia. My mother she was born in When 10 o’clock come which was bed time the slaves would go to their cabins and some of ’em would go stealing chickens, hogs, steal sweet potatoes, and cook and eat ’em. Jest git in to all kind of devilment. Old master would give ’em Sadday afternoon off, and they’d have them Sadday night breakdowns. We played a few games such as marbles, mumble peg, and cards, jest anything to pass off the time. Heahs one of the games we’d play an’ I sho did like it too:

She is my sweetheart as I stand,
Come and stand beside of me,
Kiss her sweet and
Hug her near.

On Christmas they’d make egg nog, drink whiskey and kiss their girls. Some wore charms to ward off the devil, but I don’t believe in such. I do believe in voodoo like this: People can put propositions up to you and fool you. Don’t believe in ghost. Tried to see ’em but I never could. Old master didn’t turn my father loose and tell ’em we was free. They didn’t turn us Aloose ’til they got the second threat from President Lincoln. Good old Lincoln; they was nothing like ‘im. Booker T. Washington was one of the finest Negro Educators in the world, but old Jefferson Davis was against the cullud man. I think since slavery is all over it has been a benefit to the cullud man. He’s got more freedom now.

Hadley, Richardson,

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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