Slave Narrative of Rachel Gaines

Person Interviewed: Rachel Gaines
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Place of Residence: 1025 10th Ave. N., Nashville, Tennessee
Age: 95-100

“Lawdy! I’se dunno how ole I ez. B’leeves I’se ’round 95 ter 100 y’ars. De fust thing I members ez I wuz tuk in a waggin ter Trenton, Kentucky en sold ter Dr. Bainbridge Dickerson jest lak dey sold cows en hosses. Mah sistah wuz sold in de same way at Bowling Green, Kentucky ter ‘nuther Marster.”

“I wuz sold only one time in mah life en dat wuz w’en Marster Dickinson bought me. Atter freedum wuz ‘clared de Marster tole all his slaves dat dey could go wharever’y dey pleased but ef’n dey couldn’t mek dere own livin’ ter kum ter ‘im en he would he’ps dem.”

“Missus Dickinson kep’ me dere kaze I wuz nuss ter dere son Howard who wuz sho a wild one. I member how he would tote out fried chicken, pig meat en uthuh good stuff ter us darkies. Dey ‘greed ter pay me $35.00 a yeah (en keep) en hit wuz gib me eve’y Christmus mawning. Dey treated me good, gib me all de clothes en uthuh things I needed ez ef’n I wuz one ob de fam’ly.”

“Eve’y two weeks de Marster would sen’ fer Jordan McGowan who wuz de leader ob a string music ban’. Dey would git dere Friday nite early en de slaves would dance in de grape house dat nite en all day Saturday up ter midnite. You don’t hab now as good dance music en as much fun as de ole time days had. We allus had a big barbecue er watermelon feast eve’y time we had a dance. Neber ‘gin ‘ll dere be as good times as we useter hab. In mah time we neber y’ard ob wukouses er pen but now dey ez all filled.”

“I kin see now in mah mind de ole ice house on de plantation. In de wint’r de slaves would fill hit wid ice dey got off de crik en hit wuz not used ’til warm wedder cum. ‘nother thing I members ez de “Pat-a-rollers” (she refers to the Police Patrol of that day) who would kotch en whup runaway slaves en slaves ‘way fum dere own plantations widout a pass wid dere Marsters name signed on hit.”

“I member w’en Nashville fust had street cars pulled ‘long by hosses er mules en I also member de ole dummy cars, run by steam, ter Glendale Park also New Town (now called West Nashville).”

“We had sum bad en good luck signs but I’se fergettin’ sum, but I’se members ’bout a black cat crossin’ ovuh de path in frunt ob you dat you sho would hab bad luck. W’en dat happened ter me, I would spit on de ground, turn ’round en back ober de place de cat crossed en de “bad luck” wuz gon’ fum me. Ef’n you found a ole hoss shoe dat had bin drapt’d by de hoss, hit meant good luck. Sum peeples, white en black, w’en dey fin’ a hoss shoe, dey would tack hit up on de frunt door frame wid de toe ter de groun’.”

“Atter de Marster en Missus d’ed, I went ter Nashville en made mah way fur menny y’ars by washin’ en ironin’ fer white peeple but atter I went blind I kum ‘yer ter live wid mah daughter.”

Federal Writers' Project. WPA Slave Narratives. Web. 2007.

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