Slave Narrative of Emoline Wilson

Interviewer: G. Leland Summer
Person Interviewed: Emoline Wilson
Date of Interview: May 21, 1937
Location: Newberry, South Carolina

“I was a Garmany before I married Calvin Wilson. My father was Henry Garmany, and my mother Sidney Boozer. My husband was in the Confederate army with his master. Dey was near Charleston on de coast. I was slave of Lemuel Lane, of de Dutch Fork. He was killed after de war, some say by some of his young slaves, but we’uns did not know naything about who killed him. We had a good house to live in on Marse Lane’s plantation. I used to work around the house and in de fields. My mother was a good seamstress and helped de white folks sew, and she learn’t me to sew had help too. We didn’t get any money for our work. One time after de war, dey paid me only $5.00 and I quit ’em. My mother hired me out to work for her, and I didn’t have any money, still; so I said I better get me a man of my own. Marse Lane was mean to most of us, but good to me. He whipped me once and I deserved it because I wouldn’t answer him when he called me. He jes’ give me about two licks. He was mean to my mother, but he wouldn’t let his white overseer whip us, and wouldn’t let de padder-rollers come around. He said he could look-out for his own slaves.

“We didn’t learn to read and write, but some of de white folks had learned my mother, and she learned me some.

“Niggers had to go to church at New Hope, de white folks’ church, in slavery time and after de war too. We had Saturday afternoons to do what we wanted, and we washed clothes then.

“On Christmas, Marse would give de slaves some good things to eat and send some to dere families. Niggers had frolics at dere houses sometimes on Saturday nights. When I married, I had a good hot supper.

“Children played all de ole games like, play-ball (throwing over the house), marbles and base.

“Some saw ghosts, but I never saw any of dem.

“Old-time cures was peach tree leaves boiled and drunk for fever; wild cherry bark was good for most anything if took at night. I have used it for curing some things. The best cure I know, is turpentine and a little oil mixed. Swallow it and it will fix you up.

“The Yanks went through our place and took two of the best horses we had. One had a tail that reached the ground. Dey stole lots of victuals. I ‘member de Ku Klux wid dere long white sheets, and den de Red Coats wid white breeches. Dey would walk or ride, but dey never harmed us.

“I don’t know much about Abe Lincoln, but I reckon he was a good man, and Jeff Davis, too. I don’t know Booker Washington but heard he was a good man.

“I joined de church because de white folks did. Dey wants to go to heaven and I do too. I think everybody ought to try to do right. I used to think we could make heaven down here, but if we jes’ do right, dats all we can do.”

Boozer, Garmany, Lane, Wilson,

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

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