Slave Narrative of Laura Ramsey Parker

Person Interviewed: Laura Ramsey Parker
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Age: 87
Place of Residence: 715 Hay St., Nashville, Tennessee
Occupation: Chambermaid, Housekeeper

“I’se 87 y’ars ole. Wuz bawn in slavery. Wuz freed w’en de slavery stopped. Mack Ramsey wuz mah marster en he wuz sho good ter his slaves. He treated dem as human bein’s. W’en he turned his slaves ‘loose he gib dem no money, but gib dem lands, clothin’ en food ’til dey could brang in dere fust crop. Mah daddy rented a strip ob land ’til he wuz able ter buy de place. He lived on de same fer menny y’ars.”

“W’en I wuz ole er’nuff I wuz taught ter spin en weav. I bucum de nuss ter de marster’s onlies’ chile. Soon atter I wuz freed, I went ter Wisconsin, but only wuz dere fer a y’ar, den I kum back ter Tennessee en Nashville. I settled in dis house en I’se bin livin’ in hit fer ovuh fifty y’ars. Dere wuz no uther houses ’round ‘yer at de time. I own de place. Hab wuk’d all mah life seem ter me. At one time I wuz a chambermaid at de Nicholson House now de Tulane en later ‘kum a sick nuss, a seamstress, dressmaker but now I pieces en sells bed quilts. I does mah own housekeepin’ en washin’.”

“I don’t member now, very much ’bout de Ku Klux Klan. I do member dat one nite dey passed our home en I grab’ed a shotgun en said dat I wuz gwine ter shoot dem ef dey kum on de place. I members de Battle ob Murfreesboro, but I’se got no membrances ob any slave uprisin’.”

“I think very lettle ob de younger ginerashon. Dere’s many things ter day dat should be changed, but I’se ‘yer en can’t do nuthin’ ter change hit. I’s min’in mah own business. I puts mah faith en trust in Gawd’s han’s; en treats mah nabers right; en lives honest. I ‘longs ter de Christian Chuch, but don’t wan’ter be called a “Campbellite.”

“De songs I members ez:

Am I a Soldier ob de Cross.
Am I Bawn ter Die?
‘Tis ‘Ligion Dat Can Gib.”

Parker, Ramsey,

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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