Slave Narrative of Mary Scott

Interviewer: Mrs. Lucile Young & H. Grady Davis
Person Interviewed: Mary Scott
Location: Gourdin, South Carolina
Age: 90

Ex-Slave, About 90 years old

“Where and when were you born?”

“On Gaston Gamble place, between here and Greeleville. In da Gamble’s Bible is my age. Don’t know my age. Pretty much know how old, I bout 90. I wuz little girl when freedom come.”

“Give the names of your father and mother.”

“Father, John Davis. Mother, Tina Davis. Belonged to last mausa. Darby Fulton. Gamble sold mama and three children to Fulton. Belonged to Davis after freedom. Father belonged to Davis. Take first mausa’s name. Sold to Arnold Mouzon. Didn’t take Mouzon name.”

“Where did your father and mother come from?”

“Right where Grandma go, Gamble place.”

“Did you have any brothers and sisters?”

“James and Benjamin. All ded.”

“Describe the beds and where you slept.”

“Had plenty slaves. I don’t know exactly how many. In dem times you know, we had to get ticket to go to see dere family.”

“What kind of house did you have to live in?”

“Better dan dis. Better dan dis. Good house. Sleep on wooden bed. Straw and feather mattress.”

“Do you remember anything about your grandparents or any stories told you about them?”
“I ain’t know my grandmother, grandfather either.”

“What work did you do in slavery times.”

“Didn’t do no kind of work. Mother milked, tended to de butter.”

“Did you ever earn any money?”

“No money.”

“What did you eat and how was it cooked?”

“Boil meat and put peas or greens, rice cooked dry, take up in plate and eat. One girl get done and wash dishes and put dem up.”

“Did you ever eat any possums?”

“Yes, my brother catch possum and raccoon.”


“Fishing in de branch.”

“Did the slaves have their own gardens?”

“Yes, sir, plant big garden, no use plant, go to dere garden and get it.”

“What clothes did you wear in cold weather?”

“Thick. I could weave it with stripes and put one check one way and nother strip nother way.”

“Hot weather?”

“In winter warm clothes and shoes. Had Sunday clothes. I had a green worsted dress.”

“Did the slaves have a church on your plantation?”

“Go to white people church and sit out of doors and wait till dey come out and den we go in and have preaching.”

“White or colored preacher?”

“White preacher.”

“Was your master a good man?”

“Mr. Gamble like to drink liquor but still good people. All who I talking about good people.”
“What was Mr. Gamble’s name?”

“Mr. Gamble name Gatron Gamble. Son living in dat big house and grandson living down dere.”

“How many children did Mr. Davis have?”

“He had some not many. Mr. Gamble had some too.”

“What kind of house did Mr. Gamble live in?”

“Medium size house. All had just common house, two-story.”

“What about the overseer?”

“Overseer he see dat you work soon. Driver go in de field and stay ’til 12 o’clock.”

“How many acres in the plantation?”

“Don’t know how many acres.”

“What time did the overseer wake the slaves up?”

“Wake dem up soon. Blow horn.”

“Did you have to work hard?”

“Work ’til sundown.”

“Did you see any slaves punished?”

“Some punished, but I ain’t never see none whip. I heard stick strike de ground and tie hands and feet. Paddle on dis side and den paddle on de other side ’til sore.”

“Did you ever see any slaves sold or auctioned off?”

“My mother and us sold. Mrs. Gamble died left my mama for a daily gift. She wouldn’t allow dem to whip me. I ain’t know when we be sell, I wuz a baby.”

“Did you see slaves in chains?”

“No chains.”

“Did the slaves have a church on your plantation?”

“Yes, de Gambles make us to go to Sunday school and learn us the Sunday school lessons. I could plow. We went to white church and set down till white people go out and de old man dat tend to de church and open up de church and say come in, can’t stay outside.”

“Who preached for you all?”

“My uncle, Jefferie Pendergrass, mother’s brother. If colored people want preacher preach, he go in dere and made de children be quiet and preach a nice sermon and have watch night but not in de church.”

“Do you know any spirituals?”

“I forgets dem things. I use to be good singer but I ain’t got no teeth. I ain’t been looking fer dis. If you hadn’t come, I’d been gone.”

“Where would you have gone?”

“Just to walk about. All gone to de field and de children so bad.”

“Tell about baptizing.”

“Baptized by de white people.”

“Did the slaves run away to the North?”

“I ain’t know ’bout dat.”

“What about patrollers?”

“No patarollers. Have to get ticket, whip dem if dey didn’t get it. Colored people do more than white people allow. Caused dem to whip dem. My sister, my sister-in-law and girl went and tell dem dey gwine have play in white kitchen. Mr. Sam Fulton boss wouldn’t go to war. My sister, sister-in-law run up in de loft and tell dem come down and dey come down and jump off de window and land in de mud hole wid dere best dress on. Mr. Fulton let dem have it in de quarters.”

“Did you hear of any trouble between the master and the slaves?”

“My grandmother went off and wouldn’t come back. She write that she get everyday what she could get fer Sunday.”

“Did you work on Saturday evenings?”

“Some of de white people made dem work on Saturday evening. I had a uncle when white people come by going to church he hoeing his rice. Dey didn’t want him work on Sunday. Miss Elizabeth Gamble tell dem he gwine to chop his rice on Sunday.”

“What did you do on Sunday?”

“Go to church.”

“Christmas day?”

“I don’t remember what dey give on Christmas day. My family got clothes.”

“What did you do at a wedding or funeral among the slaves?”

“Just say got a wife, ain’t married. If anybody ded everything stop.”

“What games did you play as a child?”

“I don’t know what all I played.”

“Do you know any funny stories?”

“No, sir, I used to tell my grands things.”

“Did you ever see any ghosts?”

“I ain’t believe in it, but I see dem. Jest pass by and dey want bother you. Don’t know where dey come from. Dey look like people.”

“You don’t believe in them?”

“No, sir, but I know one thing, dey say fox gwine mad. Say cat gwine mad but dat ain’t so. I ain’t scared of nothing.”

“You are not scared at night?”

“When de moon shining. Moon ain’t shine might fall and cripple. When we holler voice way back dere.”

“When the slaves became sick, who tended to them?”

“White people tended to dem. Use medicine.”

“Do you make medicine out of herbs?”

“No, sir, don’t make it.”

“Did you ever see anybody wear a ten-cent piece around the ankle?”

“I see dem wear it, but I ain’t know what fer.”

“What do you remember about the war that brought you freedom?”

“I know just as good when peace declared. Gun rolled in dat direction. Must be guns. Cook say roll thunder roll and I say de sun shine it ain’t gwine rain. I wuz too little to know but my sister say every man and every woman got to work for demselves.”

“What did your master say?”

“I ain’t know what master say, he single man and didn’t talk much.”

“Did you stay with him the year after freedom?”

“No, he didn’t treat my mother right.”

“Any schools for Negroes?”

“Pretty good time before schools.”

“Did the slaves buy any land?”

“No land bought.”

“Do you remember your wedding?”

“I member jest as good ’bout my wedding. I married on Thursday night. Some white people from Kingstree and different ones come and pile it up and when I get all dem presents some one stick fire and burn it all down.”

“Whom did you marry?”

“John Scott.”

“Do you have any children?”

“One gone in de field and dis one.”

“What are they doing?”

“Working on farms. Jane got killed in de wreck.”

“Who is Jane?”

“My daughter. She wuz coming to see me. Train wreck and kill her coming from Norfolk.”

“How long ago was that?”

“‘Bout two years ago.”

“What do you think of Abraham Lincoln?”

“I see picture of dem. Picture in dere of Lincoln.”

“Now that slavery time is ended, what do you think of it?”

“I believe colored people do better in de slavery than now.”

“Do you belong to the church?”

“Yes, Promise Land Baptist church.”

“Why do you think people ought to go to church?”

“To have some protection and when you go in a church dat is a place for you to be taken care of. Dey ain’t got no religion.”

“Was the overseer ‘poor white trash?'”

“I could hear de people talk ’bout him. Some like him and some don’t. If I got a wife over yonder, I got to get ticket before I could go to see her. Had to work hard too.”

“Let us see the picture of Lincoln.”

“Dis is it.” (Granddaughter shows us Aunt Mary’s picture)

“Is that the one?”

“Yea, I think so.”

“Let me see, dat ain’t de one. Here is.” (Aunt Mary showed us a picture which looked to be taken from some New York newspaper. It was probably a screen star).

“Who told you that was Lincoln?”

“Some preacher or somebody come here and tell me.”

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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