Slave Narrative of Frankie Goole

Person Interviewed: Frankie Goole
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Place of Birth: Smith County TN
Age: 84
Place of Residence: 204 5th Ave. So, Nashville, Tennessee

“I wuz bawn in Smith County on uther side ob Lebanon. Ah’ll be 85 y’ars ole Christmas Day.

Mah ole Missis wuz named Sallie, en mah Marster wuz George Waters. Mah mammy’s name wuz Lucindia, she wuz sold fum me w’en I wuz six weeks ole, en mah Missis raised me. I allus slept wid her. Mah Missis wuz good ter me, but (her son) mah Marster whup’d me.

Dunno ob any ex-slaves votin’ er holdin’ office ob any kin.

I member de Ku Klux Klan en Pat-a-rollers. Dey would kum ‘roun en whup de niggers wid a bull whup. Ef’n dey met a niggah on de road dey’d say, “Whar ez you gwin dis time ob mawnin’?” De slaves would say, “We ez gwine ovuh ‘yer ter stay aw’ile,” en den dey would start beatin’ dem. I’se stod in our do’er en ‘yeard de hahd licks, en screams ob de ones dat wuz bein’ whup’d, en I’d tell mah Missis, “Listen ter dat!” She would say, “See, dat ez w’at will happen ter you ef’n you try ter leave.” I member one nite a Ku Klux Klan rode up ter our do’er. I tole mah Missis sum body wuz at de do’er wantin’ ter know whar mah Marster wuz. She tole ‘im he wuz d’ed en her son had gon’ ‘way dat mawnin’. He hunted all thro de house, en up in de loft, en said whar ez de niggers? Mah Missis tole i’m [TR: ‘im] dey wuz down in de lettle house. He went down dere, woke dem up, axed dem ’bout dere Marster en den whup’d all ob dem. Ef de had de Ku Klux Klan now dere wouldin’ be so menny peeples on de kounty road en in de pen.

I useter drive up de cows en mah feet would be so cole en mah toes cracked open en bleedin’, en I’d be cryin’ ’til I got almos’ ter de house den I’d wipe mah eyes on de bottom ob mah dress, so de Marster wouldin’ know dat I had bin cryin’. He’d say, “Frankie ain’t you cryin’?” I’d say, “No suh.” “Ez you cole?” “Yes, sir.” He would say kum on en warm.

W’en de niggers wuz freed, all ob mah Missis slaves slipped ‘way, ‘cept me. One mawnin’ she tole me ter go down en wake dem up, I went down en knocked, no body said nuthin’. I pushed on de do’er-hit kum op’n-en I fell in de room en hurt mah chin. I went back ter Missis-en she sezs, “W’at ez de matter wid you?” I sezs, “Uncle John en all ob dem ez gon’; I pushed on de do’er en fell in.” She sezs you know dey ez not gone, go back en git dem up. I had ter go back, but dey wur’ent dere.

No, I don’t member de sta’rs fallin’.

Mah Missis didunt gib me nuthin, cept mah clothes, en she put dem in a carpet bag. Atter freedom mah mammy kum fum Lebanon en got me. Ah’ll neber fergit dat day-Oh Lawdy! I kin see her now. Mah ole Missis’ daughter-in-law had got a bunch ob switches ter whup me, I wuz standin’ in de do’er shakin’ all ovuh, en de young Missis wuz tellin’ me ter git mah clothes off. I sezs, “I se’d a ‘oman kum’g thro de gate.” Mah Missis sezs, “Dat ez Lucindia” en de young Missis hid de switches. Mah mammy sezs I’se kum ter git mah chile. Mah Missis tole her ter let me spend de nite wid her, den she’d send me ter de Court House at 9 o’clock next mawnin’. So I stayed wid de Missis dat nite, en she tole me ter alluz be a good girl, en don’t let a man er boy trip me. I didunt know w’at she mean but I allus membered w’at she sai. I guess I wuz ’bout 12 y’ars ole w’en I lef’ mah Missis en mah mammy brought me ter Nashville en put me ter wuk. De mawnin’ I lef’ mah Missis, I went ter de Court House en met mah mammy; de Court room wuz jammed wid peeple. De Jedge tole me ter hold my right hand up, I wuz so skeered I stuck both hands up. Jedge sezs, “Frankie ez dat yo mammy?” I sezs, “I dunno, she sezs she ez.” (W’at did I know ob a mammy dat wuz tuk fum me at six weeks ole). He sezs, “Wuz yo Marster good ter you?” I sezs, “Mah Missis wuz, but mah Marster wasn’t-he whup’d me.” De Jedge said, “Whar did he whup you?” I tole him on mah back. He sezs, “Frankie, ez you laughin’?” I sezs, “No, sir.” He said ter mah mammy, “Lucindia tek dis chile en be good ter her fer she has b’en mistreated. Sum day she can mek a livin’ fer you.” (En thank de Lawd I did keep her in her ole days en wuz able ter bury her.) At dat time money wuz called chin plaster en w’en I lef’ out ob de court room diff’ent peeple gib me money en I had mah hat almos’ full. Dat was de only money I had gib ter me.

I nussed Miss Sadie Pope Fall; she ma’ried Mat Gardner. I also nussed Miss Sue Porter Houston. I den wuk’d at de Bline Schul.

De fust pa’r ob shoes I eber had wuz atter I kum ter Nashville. Dey had high tops en wuz called bootees. I had sum red striped socks wid dem.

De ole songs I member:

“De Ole Time ‘ligion.”
“I’m Goin’ ter Join de Ban.”

W’en dey would sing deze songs hit would almos’ mek you ha’r stand up on yo haid, de way dem peeples would jump en shout!

I member w’en sum ob de slaves run ‘way durin’ slavery.

I dunno any tales; mah mammy wasn’t a ‘oman ter talk much. Maybe ef she had bin I would hab had an easier time. As far as I know de ex-slaves hab had diff’ent kinds ob wuk since dere freedum. No, I ain’ nebber se’d any ghos’. I’se bin in de woods en dark places, but didn’t see nothin’, en I’se not goin’ ter say I did kaze I might git par’lized.

I went ter schul one y’ar at Fisk in de y’ar 1869.

De last man I wuk’d fer wuz at de Link Hotel. Den I started keepin’ boarders. Hab fed all deze Nashville police. De police ez de ones dat hep’ed git deze relief orders fer me. I hab lived on dis street fer 60 years. I lived 22 y’ars whar de Hermitage Laundry ez. Dat ez whar I got de name “Mammie.” W’iles livin’ dere I raised eighteen chilluns white en black, en sum ob dem iz good ter me now.

I had sum papah’s ’bout mah age en diff’ent things, but w’en de back waters got up, dey got lost. I didn’t hab ter move but I kep prayin’ en talkin’ ter de Lawd en I b’leeve he ‘Yeard me fer de water didn’t git in mah house.

I member w’en de yellow fever en de cholera wuz ‘yer, in 1870 en 1873. Dey didn’t hab coffins nuff ter put dem in, so dey used boxes en piled de boxes in waggins lak hauling wood.

I’se aint worth a dime now w’en hit kums ter wukin’ fer I’se aint able ter do nuthin, thoo I can’t complain ob mah livin’ since de relief has bin takin’ keer ob me.

Dis young peeples, “Oh mah Lawd!” Dey ain’ worth talkin’ ’bout. I tries ter shame deze ‘omen, dey drink (I call hit ole bust haid whiskey), en do such mean things. I’se disgusted at mah own color. Dey try ter know ter much, en dunno muthin’, en dey don’ do ’nuff wuk.

I nebber voted en dunno nothin’ ’bout hit. Hab nebber had any frens in office. Cain’ member nothin’ ’bout re’structon. I hab bin sick en still don’ feel right. Sumtimes I feels krazy.

Hab bin tole dat black cat crossin’ road in frunt ob you wuz bad luck. I nebber did b’leeve in any signs. Ef I ez ter hab bad luck, ah’ll hab hit.

I b’long ter de Baptist Chuch.

De culored peeples useter hab camp meetin’s, en dey’d last fer two weeks. Lawd hab mercy did we hab a time at dem meetin’s, preachin’, singin’, en shoutin’. En ovuh sum whar neah dey would be cookin’ mutton en diff’ent good things ter eat. Sum ob dem would shout ’til dere throats would be sore en hit seemed dat sum ob dem niggahs didn’t keer ef dey got home ter wuk er not.

I sumtimes wish fer de good ole days. Deze days folks don’t hab time fer ‘ligion. De dog-gone ole radio en udder things ez takin’ hits place.

Oh Lawdie how dey did baptize down at de wha’f! De Baptist peeple would gather at de wha’f on de fust Sunday in May. Dey would kum fum all de Baptist Chuches. Would leave de chuch singin’ en shoutin’ en keep dat up ’til dey got ter de river. Hab seen dem wid new clothes on git down on de groun en roll en git covered wid dirt. Sum ob dem would almos’ luze dere clothes, en dey’d fall down lak dey wuz dying.

Deze last few y’ars dey hab got ter stylish ter shout.

Goole, Waters,

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.

Search Military Records - Fold3

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top