Slave Narrative of Daniel Waring

Interviewer: Stiles M. Scruggs
Person Interviewed: Daniel Waring
Location: Columbia, South Carolina
Place of Birth: Fairfield County, South Carolina
Date of Birth: 1849
Age: 88

“I was born in Fairfield County, South Carolina, in 1849, and my parents, Tobias and Becky Waring was slaves of the Waring family, and the Bookters and Warings was kin folks. When I was just a little shaver I was told I b’longed to the family of the late Colonel Edward Bookter of upper Fairfield County.

“The Bookter plantation was a big one, with pastures for cattle, hogs and sheep; big field of cotton, corn and wheat, and ’bout a dozen Negro families livin’ on it, mostly out of sight from the Bookter’s big house. Two women and three or four Negro chillun work there, preparin’ the food and carin’ for the stock. I was one of the chillun. Colonel Bookter’s household had three boys; one bigger than me and two not quite as big as me. We play together, drive up the cows together, and carry on in friendly fashion all the time. The nigger chillun eat with the two black women in a place fixed for them off from the kitchen, after the white folks finish. We generally have same food and drink that the white folks have.

“When I was ’bout eleven years old my master took me to Columbia one Saturday afternoon, and while Colonel Bookter was ’round at a livery stable on Assembly Street, he give me some money and tell me I could stroll ’round a while. I did, and soon find myself with ’bout a dozen of Master Hampton’s boys. As we walk ‘long Gervais Street, we met a big fine lookin’ man with a fishin’ tackle, goin’ towards the river, and several other white folks was with him. As we turn the corner, the big man kinda grin and say to us: ‘Whose niggers are you?’ The bigger boy with us say: ‘We all b’longs to Master Hampton.’ He laugh some more and then reach in his pocket and give each one of us a nickel, sayin’ to the white folks: ‘Blest if I know my own niggers, anymore’.

“Yes sir, I was ’bout fourteen years old when President Lincoln set us all free in 1863. The war was still goin’ on and I’m tellin’ you right when I say that my folks and friends round me did not regard freedom as a unmixed blessin’.

“We didn’t know where to go or what to do, and so we stayed right where we was, and there wasn’t much difference to our livin’, ’cause we had always had a plenty to eat and wear. I ‘member my mammy tellin’ me that food was gittin’ scarce, and any black folks beginnin’ to scratch for themselves would suffer, if they take their foot in their hand and ramble ’bout the land lak a wolf.

“As a slave on the plantation of Colonel Edward Bookter, I had a pretty good time. I knows I has work to do and I does it, and I always has plenty to eat and wear in winter and summer. If I get sick I has a doctor, so we set tight until 1865. After the war we come to Columbia, and mammy made us a livin’ by washin’ for white folks and doin’ other jobs in the kitchen, and I worked at odd jobs, too.

“We didn’t get much money from the Freedmen’s outfit, which was ‘stablished in Columbia. The white men who set it up and administered the Freedmen’s funds and rations let some of their pets have much of it, while others got little or nothin’. An’ existence become increasin’ harder as nigger got more and more in the saddle.

“During the war, and it seem to me it would never end, we heard much ’bout President Lincoln. Niggers seem to think he was foolish to get into war, but they generally give him credit for directin’ it right as far as he could. President Davis was powerful popular at the beginnin’ of the conflict, but his popularity was far less when the war is over and he is in jail.

“I was ‘most grown at the end of the war, and I was at no time popular with the black leaders and their white friends who rule the roost in Columbia for ‘most thirteen years. I went back to my white friends in Fairfield County and work for years for Mister T.S. Brice, and others on the plantation.

“I has been married three times, and am now livin’ with my third wife. She and me am makin’ a sort of livin’, and is yet able to work. I can only do de lightest work and the sweetest thought I has these days is the memory of my white friends when I was young and happy.”

Bookter, Waring,

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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