Slave Narrative of Mary Veals

Interviewer: G. Leland Summer
Person Interviewed: Mary Veals
Date of Interview: May 20, 1937
Location: Newberry, South Carolina
Place of Birth: Newberry South Carolina

“I was born in the town of Newberry, S.C. I do not remember slavery time, but I have heard my father and mother talk about it. They were Washington and Polly Holloway, and belonged to Judge J.B. O’Neall. They lived about 3 miles west of town, near Bush River. An old colored man lived nearby. His name was Harry O’Neall, and everybody said he was a miser and saved up his money and buried it near the O’Neall spring. Somebody dug around there but never found any money. There were two springs, one was called ‘horse spring’, but the one where the money was supposed to be buried had a big tree by it.

“I married Sam Veals, in ‘gravel town’ of Newberry. I had a brother, Riley, and some sisters.

“We would eat fish, rabbits, ‘possums and squirrels which folks caught or killed. We used to travel most by foot, going sometimes ten miles to any place. We walked to school, three or four miles, every day when I was teaching school after the war. I was taught mostly at home, by Miss Sallie O’Neall, a daughter of Judge J.B. O’Neall.

“My father and mother used to go to the white folks’ church, in slavery time. After the war colored churches started. The first one in our section was Brush Harbor. Simon Miller was a fine colored preacher who preached in Brush Harbor on Vandalusah Spring Hill. Isaac Cook was a good preacher. We used to sing, ‘Gimme dat good ole-time religion’; ‘I’m going to serve God until I die’ and ‘I am glad salvation is free’.

“Saturday afternoons we had ‘off’ and could work for ourselves. At marriages, we had frolics and big dinners. Some of the games were: rope jumping; hide and seek, and, ring around the roses. Of course, there were more games.

“Some of the old folks used to see ghosts, but I never did see any.

“Cures were made with herbs such as, peach tree leaves, boiled as a tea and drunk for fevers. Rabbit tobacco (life everlasting) was used for colds. Small boys would chew and smoke it, as did some of the old folks.

“I have seven children, all grown; fourteen grand-children, and several great-grand-children.

“Judge O’Neall was one of the best men and best masters in the country that I knew of. I think Abraham Lincoln was a good man, according to what I have heard about him. Jeff Davis was the same. Booker Washington was a great man to his country and served the colored race.

“I joined the church because I believe the bible is true, and according to what it says, the righteous are the only people God is pleased with. Without holiness no man shall see God.”

Holloway, O'Neall, Veals,

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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