Slave Narrative of Uncle Dave White

Interviewer: Samuel Addison
Person Interviewed: Dave White
Location: Congaree, South Carolina
Date of Birth: (about) 1842
Age: 91

There Was No God But Mossa An’ Missus

“My pa name was Nat White who tell me dat I was bo’n about 1842. My ma was name Jane White. My pa use to carry all de votes from McClellanville to Charleston. He come from Tibbin, South Carolina. He also been all ’round de United States. My Ma’s Ma bin name Kate. I had sense to know ’em all.

“I know a heap o’ sojus had on nice buttons an’ had plumes in dere hats. Dey wus singin’ an’ playin’ on a flute dis song, ‘I wish I wus in Dixie,’ an’ dey went in de big house an’ broke up ebery thing. Dey say to me, ‘you are as free as a frog,’ an’ dey say to my pa, ‘all your chillun are free.’ Dey say ‘little niggers is free as a frog’ an’ we holler much.

“I aint nebber do no work, but I kin ‘member I use to wear a pant you call chambery. Ma cook a pot o’ peas an’ weevils wus always on de top. Ma would den turn mush an’ clean a place on de floor, she make a paddle an’ we eat off de floor. She use to bake ash cake too. I didn’ know ’bout no garden, all I know I eat. Dis what dey put on me I wear em. I nebber know nothin’ ’bout shoes.

“My master been name Bill Cooper who had a gal an’ a son. De gal been name Mary an’ de boy Bill like de daddy.

“Tarbin wus a big house, but I aint nebber know de number o’ slaves or ‘mount o’ lan’ dat went wid um.

“De slaves had a church name Lazarus an’ some went to de white church. Dey had us bar off frum de whites an’ we use to look t’rough a glass door. I member when a preacher say, ‘honor your missus an’ mossa dat your days may be long for dey is your only God.’ My Ma tell me when dey use to lick dem she use to sing dis song, ‘do pray for me’ en ma say w’en de lickin’ got too hot she say ‘oh God’ en mossa say, ‘show me dat damn man’, den he say, ‘I am your only God. My preacher name wus Sabie Mood.

“De slaves couldn’t git any news, but dey had to work on Sunday if de week bin bad. W’en it rain dey use to shuck co’n.

“W’en Bill Cooper die he holler to me, ‘I’m burnin’ up’ an’ ma say missus say, ‘iron me too hot, she meat is red like fire.’

“We use to sing song like dese;

‘Mary bring de news an’ Martha win de prize.
I mus die an’ will die in dat day
See dat oars like feathers springing’

“I marry Sarah on December 18th. Him de only one I marry an’ we had a big weddin’ an’ plenty o’ somethin’ to eat. We had fourteen chillun.

“Pa say mossa use to take de fork an’ punch holes in dere body w’en he got mad. People always die frum de pisin.

“Dis is all I know I ain’t go tell no lie, dat what pa say, I moved here atter de yankees come.”

Cooper, White,

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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