Slave Narrative of Morgan Scurry

Interviewer: G. Leland Summer
Person Interviewed: Morgan Scurry
Date of Interview: May 19, 1937
Location: Newberry, South Carolina
Place of Birth: Newberry County SC

“I was born in Newberry County, near the Laurens County line, above Chappells Depot. My father and mother were Tom and Francis Scurry and belonged as slaves to the Drury Scurry family. Dr. Drury Scurry bought them from Col. Cooper of Laurens County. He was a fine man and mighty good to his slaves. I worked around the house as a boy, and in the fields when I got old enough. Some of the nigger boys hunted ‘possums, rabbits and squirrels. Dr. Scurry had 100 acres in woods. They were just full of squirrels and we killed more squirrels than you can count.

“The slaves didn’t have a garden, but after the war, we stayed on wid Marse Scurry. When freedom come, he come to us in the yard where we had congregated and told us we was free and could go anywhere we wanted, but if any wanted to stay on wid him, he would pay wages. All of us stayed on wid him. He give us a one-acre patch of ground to raise anything we wanted to raise. He had white overseers during slavery, but none ever whipped us ’cause the master wouldn’t let them. He had a plantation of about 300 acres and 40 or 50 slaves. They got up at sun-up and worked ’till sun-down each day, but had Saturday afternoons off when dey could do anything dey wanted to.

“There wasn’t much time for learning to read and write. The white folks sometimes had niggers to go to their church and set in the back of gallery. In our neighborhood, niggers had their own church dat they made of poles and brush, and called it, ‘Brush Harbor’. They made seats from small logs sawed off of rough plank.

“On Christmas day, the master would have a big dinner for his slaves and spread it out in the yard. Corn shuckings were popular and so were cotton pickings, where big eats were prepared for those who helped. They had big feasts at marriages, and even the slaves had feasts at their marriages, the master and his family taking part in the ceremonies. I was married in 1887, and at that time I was living with Mr. Renwick, and my girl with Dr. Tom Brown. Dr. Brown had us to marry in his yard in the grove, and over 200 persons was there to see it. The next day, he give us a big ‘infair’ with all kinds of good things to eat, presents and dances. We never had any children. After we moved to town, my wife was a nurse or midwife among some of the white families for a long time.

“In Ku Klux times, I met five or ten of them in the road one night. They never bothered me. They had long white sheets over them and the horses. Slits were cut for the head, eyes, nose and mouth.

“The niggers had an old field song: ‘Give me dat good ole time religion’ which they sang most of the time. There was another song they sang: ‘Dark midnight is my cry—Give me Jesus, You may have all this world, but give me Jesus.’

“Some old-time cures for the sick was—barks of cherry tree, dogwood, and olive bush, made into tea and drunk.

“I thought Abe Lincoln was a fine man, done mighty good and saved the country. Jeff Davis was a good man. Booker Washington was a great man. I think slavery was bad; yet our white folks was good to us, but some white masters was mean. I think everybody should belong to the church and be a Christian.”

Cooper, Scurry,

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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