Slave Narrative of Phillip Rice

Interviewer: Caldwell Sims
Person Interviewed: Philip Rice
Date of Interview: May 7, 1937
Location: Kelton, South Carolina
Occupation: Drove cattle

“I’m living on Mr. Russel Emmitt’s place. I never did nothing but drive cows when I was a little boy growing up. Miss Cum and Miss Lizzie Rice was Marse Alex’s sisters. Marse Alex done died, and dey was my mistress. Dey tuck and sold de plantation afo dey died, here ’bout twenty years ago. Dat whar my ma found me and den she died.

“My grandparents, Jane and Peter Stevens, brung me up. I was a little farm boy and driv cows fer de overseer, Jim Blalock. Miss Cum was really Miss Ann. Miss Ann had a hundred niggers, herself, and Miss Lizzie had might nigh dat many, asides dem what Marse Alex done left ’em. De overseer try to act rough out o’ Miss Ann’s sight, and she find it out and set him down a peg.

“Miss Jane have our shirts made on de looms. She let us wear long shirts and go in our shirt tails, and us had to keep ’em clean, too, ’cause Miss Jane never like no dirt around her. Miss Jane have charge of de whole house and everything along wid it.

“Us had three hundred hogs to tend to, two hundred yellings and heifers, and Lawdy knows how many sheep and goats. Us fed dem things and kept ’em fat. When butchering time come, us stewed out the mostest lard and we had enough side-meat to supply the plantation the year round. Our wheat land was fertilized wid load after load of cotton seed. De wheat us raised was de talk of de country side. ‘Sides dat, dare was rye, oats and barley, and I ain’t said nothing ’bout de bottom corn dat laid in de cribs from year to year.

“Our smokehouse was allus full o’ things to eat, not only fer de white folks but fer de darkies as well. And our barns carried feed fer de cattle from harvest to harvest.

“De fattest of all de hosses, was Miss Ann’s black saddle hoss called, ‘Beauty’. Miss Ann wo’ de longest side-saddle dress dat hung way down below her feets. Somebody allus had to help her on and off Beauty, but n’ary one of her brothers could out-ride Miss Ann.”

Rice, Stevens,

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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