Slave Narrative of Patsy Hyde

Person Interviewed: Patsy Hyde
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Place of Residence: 504 9th Avenue N., Nashville, Tennessee

“Dunno how ole I ez. I wuz bawn in slavery en b’longs ter de Brown family. Mah Missis wuz Missis Jean R. Brown en she wuz kin ter Abraham Lincoln en I useter y’ar dem talkin’ ’bout ‘im livin’ in a log cabin en w’en he d’ed she had her house draped in black. Marster Brown wuz also good ter his slaves. De Missis promus Marster Brown on his de’th bed nebber ter let us be whup’d en she kep her wud. Sum ob de oberseers on urthur plantations would tie de slaves ter a stake en gib dem a good whup’in fer sump’in dey ought not ter done.”

“All cul’ed people wore cotton goods en de younger boys run ’round in der shurt tails. Mah Missis nit all de white chilluns stockin’ en she made me sum. I had ter hold de yarn on mah hans w’en she wuz nittin’. I members one time I wuz keepin’ flies off de table usin’ a bunch ob peacock feathers en I went ter sleep standin’ up en she tole me ter go back ter de kitchen.” “I went en finish mah nap.”

“One day ole Uncle Elick woke Marster Brown fum his atter-noon nap tellin’ ‘im dat de prettiest men dat I ever seed wuz passin’ by on de road. He went ter de winder en said, “Good Gawd, hit’s dem damn Yankees.” Mah white folks had a pretty yard en gyarden. Soldiers kum en camped dere. I’d slip ter de winder en lissen ter dem.” “W’en dey wuz fightin’ at Fort Negley de cannons would jar our house. De soldier’s ban’ play on Capitol Hill, en play “Rally ‘roun’ de Flag Boys, Rally ‘roun de Flag.”

“De slaves would tek dere ole iron cookin’ pots en turn dem upside down on de groun’ neah dere cabins ter keep dere white folks fum hearin’ w’at dey wuz sayin’. “Dey claimed dat hit showed dat Gawd wuz wid dem.”

“In slavery time peeples b’leeved in dreams. I members one nite I dreamed dat a big white thing wuz on de gatepost wida haid. I tole mah mammy en she said, “Gawd wuz warning us.” De ma’rige cer’mony in de days ob slavery wuz by de man en ‘oman jumpin’ ovuh a broom handle tergedder.”

“I don’ member much ‘boud de Ku Klux Klan, but I does member seein’ dem parade one time in Nashville.” (She evidently refers to the Klan’s last parade in 1869 in Nashville, immediately preceeding the disbandment of the Klan at Fort Negley.)

“I members dat de northern soldier’s ban’ would play Union Ferever, Rally ‘roun de Flag, en Down Wid de Traitors en up Wid de Sta’s en Stripes.”

“De songs I members ez:

I’se a Soldier ob de Cross.
Follow de Lamb.
I would not Live Allus.
I Axs not ter Stay.”

“I member w’en de stars fell. Hit wuz so dark en eberbody wuz skeered, en I member a comet dat looked lak a big red ball en had sump’in lak a tail on hit. Eber one wuz skeered en wuz ‘feard hit would hit de groun’ en burn de worl’ up. I member de fust street lites in Nashville. W’en de lamp mans would kum ’round en lite de lamps dey would yell out “all ez well” en I also members de Southern money goin’ out en Yankee money kum’n in, en also w’en dere wuzn’t any coal ‘yer en eve’ythin’ wuz wood en mos’ ob dis town wuz in de woods.”

“De slaves wuz tole dey would git forty ak’rs ob groun’ en a mule w’en dey wuz freed but dey nebber got hit. W’en we wuz free we wuz tuned out widout a thing. Mah grandmammy wuz an “Ole mammie” en de Missis kep her. Atter freedum a lot ob Yankee niggah gals kum down ‘yer en hire out.”

“W’en I wuz a young girl hund’eds ob people went ter de wharf at de foot ob Broadway on de fust Sunday in May ob eber’y year fer de annual baptizin’ ob new members inter de Baptist (culored) churches ob de city. Thousands ob white people would crowd both sides ob de Cumberland Riber, Broadway en de Sparkman Street Bridge ter witnus de doin’s. On leavin’ de chuches de pastor would lead de parade ter de wharf. Dey would sing en chant all de way fum de chuch ter de river en sum ob de members would be ovuhkum wid ‘ligious feelin’ en dey would hop up en down, singin’ en shoutin’ all de time, or may be dey would start ter runnin’ down de street en de brethern would hab ter run dem down en bring dem back.”

“We useter hav’ dem champ meetin’s en dey wuz “honeys,” en I enjoy dem too. We wore bandanna handkerchiefs on our haids en long shawls ovuh our shoulders. At deze meetin’s dey had all kinds ob good things ter eat en drink.”

“Atter mah freedum I dun washin’ en Ironin’ fer white families. Neber ma’ried but I neber worries no matter w’at happens en dat’s may be cause ob mah livin’ so long.”

“Things ter day ez mighty bad. Not lak de ole days. Worl’ ez gwin ter end soon.”

“Atter I got ter feeble ter do washin’ en ironin’ fer mah livin’, I went ter de Relief Office ter git dem ter he’ps me, but dey wouldn’t do a thing. I had no place ter go er no money ter do wid. Dis culid ‘oman tuk me in en does all she can fer me but now she ez disable ter wuk en I dunno w’at ter do. Ef’n I could git a small grocer order each week til I git de ole Age Pension hit would he’p lots.”

Brown, Hyde,

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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