Title: Mississippi Slave Narratives from the WPA Records
Submitter: MSGenWeb Slave Narrative Project
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From the WPA Slave Narratives:
"Marse Edwin Alford owned a big plantation rite near de Louisiana State line en he hed many slaves. I wus bawned on dat place on whut wus called de State line road, in a little log house rite back uf de kitchen en not fur frum de chicken house."
"My mammy wus de cook fur ole Missus, en ernudder ole woman named 'Lit' lived in one corner uf de yard, en she tuk keer of all de black chilluns, en I played round her door steps till I wus a big feller. Dey sed I wus mity bad kase I wus alway in ter mischief."
"Marse Edwin hed a big man fur Overseer en dat man whipped me ebery day. I wuld run de chickens offen de nest en let de cows en calves tergedder en one time I tied a bundle uf fodder ter de tail uf er horse en wus bout ter sot it on fire when de overseer kotch me en den he sho' whipped me hard. Most uf de time he wuld whip me wid his hand en sum times he used a rope, but he hed a post he tied de grown one ter en whipped dem wid a big whip. He wus a hard man on de slaves."
"Ole Missus wus de best woman in de wurld en ole Marster wus good when he wus not mad, but when yer made him mad he wuld hev yer whipped. He believed in mekin yer wurk en iffen yer done yer wurk rite dat wuld pleas him, but ifen yer wuld not wurk lak he sed he jist made yer do it, en den de overseer laid it on yer."
"Ole Marse saw ter it dat we all had plenty ter eat. Ebry Satday he gib ebery family dere portion ter last fur er week, en den all of de niggers hed deir gardens en tato patch round deir home."
"No nigger not culd leave dat place wid out a piece uf paper wid ole marse name on it. Dat wus to keep de patroller frum gittin' him, but sum of de niggers wuld slip offen en go ter next door plantation ter see udder slaves. Dey allus went at nite, when de white folks wus asleep, en sum time dey wus kotched."
"Marse Alford had his daddy wid him a whole lot uf de time. De ole man sed he wus bawned in North Ca'lina en cum here when de Guvment wus given way land. Dar wus nothin' here but woods den."
"I wus bawned in dat little house back uf de kitchen en I lived dar till atter de surrender. I'se doan kno whut year I wus bawned, but dey tole me I wus 12 years ole when I wus freed. My mammy had sevn chilluns en I wus de furst bawn en de furst thing I ken remember wus helpin' ter tend udder chilluns."
"Ole mammy 'Lit' wus mity ole en she lived in one corner of de big yard en she keered fur all de black chilluns while de old folks wurk in de field. Mammy Lit wus good to all de chilluns en I had ter help her wid dem chilluns en keep dem babies on de pallet. Mammy Lit smoked a pipe, en sum times I wuld hide dat pipe, en she wuld slap me fur it, den sum times I wuld run way en go ter de kitchen whar my mammy wus at wurk en mammy Lit wuld hafter cum fur me en den she wuld whip me er gin. She sed I wus bad."
"De overseer whipped me nearly ebry day en he sho did hurt. He sed I wus bad, but when I got ter be big I had ter wurk. I hed ter keep de woodbox in de kitchen filled wid wood en I hed ter tote out de ashes, en den dey made me sweep de stamp in front uf de big house, en dey quit lettin' me pick up de eggs, kase I wuld slip sum uf de eggs out en hide dem en git offen en roast dem eggs in ashes ter eat."
"One time when dey sot out little onion plants in de garden, I stole a piece uf bread frum de big kitchen en slipped in de garden en pulled up lots uf onions en et dem, en when dey missed dem onions dey laid it rite on ter me en I kotched the whip hard."
"My mammy wus named Deliah, en she wus de best cook in de wurld, en ole Missus kno'ed it, en she kept her in dat kitchen all de time. When big meetin wud cum, my mammy wuld stack dem cakes up high on de shelf in er big room, en one time I slipped in dar en pinched offen a big piece uf cake, en dey sho whipped me dat time. En ernudder time I got my han' in er jar uf jam en culdnt git it out en my mammy hed to git it out fur me, en I wus whipped fur dat."
"My pappy wus named Jourdan, en he wurk in de field, en druv the team uf oxen ter Covin'ton, Louisiana, wid a big waggin loaded wid cotton, all dat four yoke uf oxen culd pull atter time. He wus allus gone er week en when he cum back de waggin wus filled wid flour, en salt, en sugar, en one time he brung a barrell of mackeral, en I stole sum uf dat en wus whipped er gin."
"Ole marse allus brung back fine things fur ole missus, sich as fine silk dresses, en fine hats en shoes en eberything she wanted.
"Ole Marse allus saw ter it dat we hed planty ter eat. Ebry sadday he wud hand out a portion fur all de nigger families en dat wus ter last er week, en eberybody hed er tater patch en garden round deir house. Dar wus allus plenty meat in de big smokehouse, en we got sum uf dat too, den dar wus plenty milk fur all."
"Ebry day dar wus a big pail uf milk put in a big trough in front uf mammy Lit's house, under a shed, fur all uf de little black chilluns ter eat wid bread in it. Ebry one uf us hed er spoon en we wuld dip in ter it en see who culd git the mostern. Mammy Lit wuld beat me ober de head en tell me not ter be so greedy en eat it all frum de udders."
"Marster's house wus a big ole house, en made uf logs. It wus two houses put ter gedder wid er big hall en a shed room on bofe ends uf de gallery, en den he civered dat log house wid plank. De plank wus brung dar frum de great eastern Saw mill en my pappy hauled it wid de ox team. Dat house hed no paint on it but when dey civered it wid plank dey cut en put in glass windows. Dey hed brick chimneys allus de time. De water shelf wus on de north end uf de front gallery en it hed a shed built ober it ter keep de sun frum gitin' de water hot."
"Ole marse had plenty mules, en goats, en cows en chickens en oxen, but only three horses, en he thot moren of dem horses dan he did uf all de mules."
"Dey sed de big war wus cumin' en sed de south culdnt be beaten, en den one day ole Marse rode way on one uf de fine horses, en ole Missus cried en cried en sed he wus gone en mayby git kilt. Sum uf de slaves wanted ole man Abe ter whip de south en sum uf dem wus fur de south beatin' --- en one day I saw de Yankees cumin' up de big road, en dey astern mu missus ter giv dem sumthing ter eat. en she tole dem she hed nuthin'. Dey jist went ter de smoke house en busted open de door en tuk allus our meat en sugar en flour en tuk it wid dem. Dey tuk de two fine horses dat ole Marse loved, but dey bothered nuthin' in de big house, en ole Missus she jist cried."
"Dem Yankees went down ter de gin en sot fire ter it wid all de cotton en burnt it up, en den sum uf de slaves run way en went wid de Yankees. Dey tuk two uf ole Marse's mules en dey niver cum back."
"One day ole marse cum back home ter stay, en he looked mity sad, en one day he rung de big bell en hed all de darkies cum ter de house en told dem dey wus freed. He told dem iffen dey wuld stay wid him he wuld contract wid dem, en sum uf (dem) left rite dem en sum uf dem stayed on. My mammy stayed on en I stayed wid her en den ole marse paid me fur sum wurk. But he paid me mity little."
"Yer kno we hed ter shuck en shell corn en put it in er big bags en put it on ter mules en sum uf us wuld git on top uf dat sack uf corn en tek it way down in Louisiana ter a mill en bring back home de meal. I rid one uf de mules en ole Tobe rid de udder one en we wus de one dat went ter de mill. We wus gone all day."
"Ole Marse hed a gin close by de house fore de Yankees burnt it, en my pappy wus de man who hed ter git in de box en pack de cotton wid his feet, en den dey wud tie up dat cotton en haul it ter Covin'ton, fur ter sell. It tuk 'em all day to gin one bale uf cotton."
"Atter de war wus over I stayed on wid ole Marse nigh on ter five years, en he culdnt pay me fur my wurk, en den I went ter de Eastern saw mill out frum Osyka en hired ter Joe Bridewell, en he put me ter skinin' logs fore dey wus put ter de saw. He gib me er dollar er day, en I sho wus happy. I stayed at dat mill en wurk fur bout four years when de mill burnt down."
"I wus mar'ed when I'se wus a mity young man to a bright gal named Josephine Williams, en she made me er good wife. She stay wid me 41 years en hed seven chilluns. I culdnt read nur rite en she culdnt, but we sont all uf our chilluns ter school, en when dey got big er nouf ter help us dey left home en went way up North en done forgit us. My ole woman died bout 10 year er go en I live wid my sister Lindy Brumfield en her darter, Nora Walker. Deir ar good ter me. I am too ole ter wurk, ceptin I try ter make a garden."
"My mammy, Delilah, lived ter be 108 years old. She got so ole she culdnt walk, en hed ter set in er cheer all de time, en sum body hed tote her in a cheer when eber she went ober de house. She cum ter dis country frum Kentucky, en Marse Edwin bought her frum er man who wus takin er lot uf slaves ter New Orleans ter sell."
"I jined the Little Tangipahoe Baptist Church when I wus a young feller, en dey turned me outen fur stealin' en den dey tuk me back en den I went ter preachin' en I sho preached de Gospel fur er long time, en atter while de members uf dat church quit payin' me, en den I quit preachin'. No use ter preach when yer members jist spend all deir money fur whiskey en wont pay de parson."
"My membership is now wid de Osyka Shiloh Baptist Church en Rev. Evans is de Shepherd uf de flock en I'se gwine ter stay wid dem people till I pass on. I believe in shoutin', en I'se kno when yer git happy in de Lord yer got er rite ter tell it."
"I doan kno nuthin bout Mr. Lincoln, but Mr. Roosevelt is er mity good ter all de poor folks, fur dey tell me he is de man who sont us all de 'Lief en help us poor niggers ter live. I kno Reveren' Evans is de finest uf dem all. He is er good man en de niggers doan pay him nouf ter preach."
"I kno dar is Speerits. I'se seed 'em, en I done talk ter de Lord bout 'em. One time I wus cumin' by de graveyard en I seed er Speerit. I seed dem eyes shinin like de sun. I sed ter it, "Who dat dar?" en hit sed nothin. I sed er gin, "Who dat dar?" en dat time I chunck it wid er stick, en den it made like it wus cumin fur me, en den I run, en de faster I run de faster it run, I looks back en I seed it cumin en den I runs faster en de faster I run de faster it wud run. It looked like er dog but it wus es big es a mule. I hollered en I hollered, en when I wus near de house I calls Josephine en she wud not cum en I kept hollorerin'. Atter while I fell on de door steps en kept hollerin, en den Josephine opened de door en ast "Whut wus de matter wid me?" en I kept hollerin en culdnt tell her. Atter while she throwed cold water on ter me en den I cum ter myself en tole her bout de Speerit, en she sed, "Go long nigger, youse jist had too much licker". I tell you I niver went by dat grave yard er gin atter dark."
"I believe dat wus ole Marster, kase dat Speerit wus standin' rite by his grave. Ole Marster uster ter whip me en he wus sho atter me dat time, kase he knowd I hed stole er watermelon. But I'se quit stealin' atter dat en now live rite."
"Dat watermelon? O, I'se lost dat at er de graveyard."
Barney Alford lives about eight miles east of Osyka on what is known as the State Line Road. He is an old negro, rather stout, weighs about 165 pounds, five feet and 8 inches tall, as black as they make them. He wears a mustache and that is grey as well as his hair.
He walks with a stick but seems not to be cripple. Loves to talk about himself and his mind seems clear on things in his early life, but his daughter says he cant remember now.
His clothing were old but clean.
Alford, Barney -- Additional Interview
Barney Alford, who lives eight miles east of Osyka on what is known as the State Line Road, tell this story:
"I will be eighty fo' years old this comin' November, if I liv' dat long. Marse Edwin Alford wus my Marster, an' he hed a big plantashun right n'ar de Louisiana State line, an' his house wus on whut wus called de State Line road. I wus born in a lil'l log house right back uf de kitchen an' not fur frum de chicken house.
"Dat chicken house wus a big house an' ole Mistis had more'n a hundred chicken in dar, an' de way de roosters wuld crow 'fore daylight wus awful' dey wuld wake ebery body fur a mile 'round.
"Old Marse Edwin's house wus a big house, an' made uf logs. It wus two houses put togedder wid a big open hall an' a shed room on bofe ends uf de gallery. Afte' while he civered the side walls wid plank; de plank wus brung frum de Great Eastern Saw Mill, not fur frum Osyka, an' my pappy hauled it wid ox-team. Dat house had no paint on it, but when dey put plank on de walls, dey cut de logs and put glass windows in dat house. Dey had brick chimbleys all de time. De water shelf wus on de north end uf de frunt porch, an' it had a shelf built ober it to keep de sun frum gittin' de water hot. Out in frunt of de house wus a big 'stomp' wid big trees and close by de gate wus a 'ridin' block fur de ladies to git off an' on de hosses when dey wint to church.
"Old Marse had plenty mules, an' goats, an' cows, an' oxen, an' chickens, but only three hosses, an' he tho'ght more uf dem hosses dan he did uf all de mules.
"My mammy, Deliah, wus de cook, an' a nudder old woman named 'Lit' lived one corner uf de yard, an' mammy Lit tuk keer uf all de lil'l black chulluns, an' I played 'round her door steps till I wus a big feller. Dey sed I wus mi'ty bad kase I wus always in Mischief.
"Ole Mistuss wus de best woman in de wurld, fur she never hit me a lick in her life, an' ole Marse wus good when he wus not mad, but when yo' made him mad he wud hav' yo' whupped. He believed in makin' yo' wurk, an' if yo' didnt do yer wurk right, he called de overseer an' ha' had him to whup, an' dat big long leather whup wud almost cut de hide.
"Ole Marse saw to it dat we all had planty to eat. Ebery Sat'day he give ebery fambly deir portion; if dar wus a big fambly, dey got a heap, an' if dar wus jes' a few in de fambly dey got lil'l. Dese rashuns had to las' a week; he give 'em meal, an' meat, taters, grease, 'lasses, an' sumtimes a lil'l flour an' sugar. All de slaves had a garden an' tater patch 'round deir houses.
"When Sat'day wud cum, de slaves had to git ebery thing in shape for de nex' cumin' week; dar wus washin' to do; dar wus ironin' an' patchin, an' pickin' peas to last a week. O, de slaves had plenty to eat. Marse give 'em plenty milk an' sum times a lil'l butter.
"When de slaves wus mi'ty busy in de fiel', dey sumtimes had to go to de big house fur dinner, an' if de wurk wus fur frum home sumtimes de dinner wus sont to 'em. Marse Edwin wus not stingy 'bout feedin' his slaves.
"Old Marse give his slaves good clo'es an' dey made 'em right dar at home: when it rained, Old Mistiss wud call de women to de house, an' had 'em to start de spinnin' wheels an' looms. Sum uf de thread wus dyed wid maple bark, an' den she had de women to make all kind uf fancy cloth, and dey made fancy counterpanes. Dey made jeans to make pants uf. Dem pants never wore out. I never had any pants till 'bout time de war started. I allus wore a long tail shirt, an' when dat overseer wud git under dat shirt he got right on to my skin. I'll never fur git how he hurt. Day all sed I wus bad.
"Marse Edwin had a big man fur Overseer, and he whupped ebery day. I wusnt bad, I wus jes' full uf mischief. I jes' run de chickens off de nest an' git de eggs and hide 'em, an' turn de cows an' calves to gedder so de calves cud suck de milk, an' hear old Liz, de milk woman, fuss; one day dey tole me an' a nudder boy to watch one uf de hosses to keep him out uf de corn fiel'; well, I tied a bundle uf fodder to his tail an' wus jes' bout to sot fire to it when de Overseer seed me; well he kotched me an' den I got a mi'ty big whuppin' wid his big whup. Most uf de time he whupped me wud his big hand, but dat time he used his whup. He had a post out near de barn whar he wud tie de grown slaves, an' pull deir clo'es off down to de waist an' whup dem, an' ebery time he wud de slave dey wud holler 'O, pray Marster, pray --- Pray Marster pray!' an' I wus skeerd uf dat whup.
"No nigger cud leave dat place wid out a piece uf paper wid ole Marse name ter it. Dat wus to keep de patrollers frum gittin' him, but sum uf de niggers wud slip off an' go to de nex' plantashun to see udder slaves. Dey allus went at night when de white folks wus 'sleep, an' sumtimes de patroller wud git 'em. I never seed de patroller, but I heard dem talkin' bout him.
"Marse Edwin had his daddy wid him a whole lot uf de time. Dat ole man sed he wus born in North Ca'lina an' cum here when de Gub'ment wus givin' way land. Dar wus nuffin hear but woods at dat time. Dat ole man wud sot out on de gallery an' watch de chaps play.
"I wus born in dat lil'l house back uf de kitchen, an' I lived dar till afte' de surrender. I'se doan kno' whut year I wus born but Mistiss tole me I wus twelve years old when sot free. My mammy had seven chulluns an' I wus de furst born an' de furst thing I ken remember wus helpin' to 'tend de udder chulluns."
"Mammy wud bring her chaps up to mammy 'Lit's house ebery mornin' an' leave us dar while she went wid de udder to wurk. Most uf her wurk wus in de kitchen but sumtimes she had to go to de fiel'.
"Ole mammy Lit wus mi'ty old and she lived in de corner uf de big yard an' she keered fur all de black chulluns while de old folks wurked in de fiel', an' de biggest chulluns had to help mammy Lit wid de lil'l ones. Mammy Lit wud spread a quilt on de gallery an' put de babies on de floor an' we had to keep de chaps frum gittin' off de pallet an' rollin' off de gallery. Mammy Lit smoked a pipe, an' I l'arnt to hide dat pipe, an' she wud slap me fur it, den sumtimes I wud run 'way an' go to de kitchen whar my mammy wus an' mammy Lit wud hafter cum fur me an' den she wud whup me er gin.
"One time dey sot out onion plants in de big garden, I stole a piece uf bread frum de kitchen an' slip'ed in de garden an' pull'd up a lot uf dem onions an' et 'em, an' when dey missed dem onions dey laid it right on to me an' I kotched a hard whuppin'.
"One time I got in de plum orchid (orchard) an' et a lot uf green plums an' dey give me de stomach ache. I thought I wus gwine to die. Den Marse cum down to de house an' give me a dose uf Cast' ile. I cum near dyin'.
"Yo' see my mammy wus named Deliah, an' she wus de best cook in de wurld, an' ole Mistiss kno'd it, an' she kept her in dat kitchen most uf de time, ceptin' when she wus in fiel'. When big meetin's wud cum, my mammy wud stack dem cake up high on de shelf in a big room, an' one time I slip'd in dar an' pinched off a big piece uf cake, an' dey sho' whup'ed me dat time. 'Nudder time I got my hand in a jar uf jam an' culdnt git it out, an' my mammy had to git it out fur me, an' wus whupped fur dat. My mammy being de cook I stole many a piece uf cake or sumthing out uf de kitchen an' she didnt tell on me.
"Ebery day dar wus a pan uf milk poured in a big trough in frunt uf mammy Lit's house, under a shed, fur all uf de lil'l black chulluns; dat milk had bread crumbled in it. Ebery one uf us had a spoon an' we wud dip inter it an' see who cud git de most. Mammy Lit wud hit me ober de head an' tell me not to be so greedy an' eat it all up frum de udders.
"My pappy wus named Jourdan, an' he wurk in de fiel', an' he druv de ox team to Covin'ton, Louisiana, wid a big wagon loaded wid cotton, all dat fo'r yoke uf oxen cud pull atter time. He wus always gone a week an' when he cum back de wagon wus full uf flour, an' salt, an' sugar, an' one time he brung a barrell uf mackerel, an' I stole sum uf dat an' wus whupped fur it.
"Ole Marse wud go 'long, but he rid horseback, but he allus brung Mistiss fine silk dresses, an' fine hats an' shoes an' ebery thing fine dat she wanted.
"Dey sed de big war wus cumin' an' sed de south culdnt be beat, an' men wud cum to de big house an' stan' round under de trees an' prop deir foot up on de roots uf de trees an' dey wud stan' dar an' talk bout how quick de war wud be ober.
"Sum uf de slaves wud git to gedder at night time, an' go down by de crick an' pray for to be sot free. Sumtimes udder slaves frum udder plantations wud cum an' jine in de prayin'. I never went down dar, fur I wus 'sleep at dat time.
"One day Marse Edwin rode way on one uf his fine hosses, an' Mistiss, she cried an' cried an' sed he wus gone an' maybe git kilt. Sum uf de slaves wanted ole man Abe to whip de south an' sum uf dem wus for de south beatin', but all uf 'em wanted to be sot free. Dey jes' didnt want to wurk under a whup; dey all wanted to be free to cum an' go when dey wanted.
"Den one day I heard hoss feet an' I seed de Yankees cumin' up de big road, an' dey cum right up to de gate an' ast my Mistiss to give dem sumthing to eat. She tole dem she had nuffin; dey jes' laughed an' went to de smoke house an' busted open de door an' tuk all our meat an' sugar an' flour an' tuk it wid 'em, Den dey tuk de two fine hosses dat Marse loved so much, but dey bothered nuffin in de big house; an' my Mistiss, she cried an' cried.
"But dem Yankees went down to de gin an' sot fire to it wid all de cotton an' burnt it up. Sum uf de slaves went wid dem Yankees an' dey tuk two uf ole Marse mules an' dey never cum back.
"One day ole Marse cum home to stay an' he looked mi'ty sad. One day he rung de big bell an' had all de darkies to cum to de house an' told dem dey wus freed. He tole dem if dey wud stay wid him dat year he wud contract wuf dem; sum uf 'em left right den, an' sum uf 'em stayed on. My mammy stayed on an' I stayed wid her, an' den ole Marse paid me fur sum wurk, but he paid me mi'ty lil'l.
"While de war wus going on I had to help shuck corn an'
dey put it in bog bags an' put de bags on de mules an' me an' ole Tobe had to ride dem mules way down in Louisiana to a mill an' bring back de meal. We wus gone all day.
"Afte' de war wus ober me an' mammy stayed on wid ole Marse fur nigh on to five years, an' he got so he culdnt pay me fur my wurk an' den I went to de Great Eastern saw mill out frum Osyka an' hired to Mr. Joe Bridewell, an' he put me to skinnin' logs fore dey went to de saw. He give me a dollar a day, an' I sho' wus happy. I stayed at dat mill an' wurk fur nigh 'bout four years when de mill burnt down.
"When de slaves wus sot free, dey had nuffin an' ole Marse didnt give 'em anything. All uf us had a mi'ty hard time. Sum uf de slaves went to stealin' but me an' mammy stayed wid ole Marse an' we got plenty to eat an' while we had to wurk hard, he paid us a lil'l an' when we left dar we went wid nuffin. I went to de saw mill an' mammy and pappy went down in Louisiana. It wus hard times ebery whar dey went.
"My mammy lived to be 108 years, she got so old she culdnt walk and had to sot in a cheer all de time, an' sum body had to tote her in a cheer when eber she went ober the house. She cum to dis country frum Kentucky, an' marse Edwin bought her frum a man who wus takin' her to New Orleans fur to sell. Marse Edwin got her at Covinton, 'fore she got to New Orleans. She died in 1932, an' my pappy died 'bout thirty years 'fore dat.
"I never voted in my life. Way back yonder dey tole me I cud vote but I never tried. I dont want to vote. My time is short on dis earth an' I want to live right an' de white folks kno' how to run deir business an' I is not gwine to git mixed up wid it.
"I wus promised nuffin when I wus freed, jes' tole I must wirk if I got any money an' soon found out I had to pay for what I got. When we wus slaves old Marse fed an' clothes us an' afte' dat we had to buy what we et an' what clothes we got, an' it tuk hard wurk to make 'em. I had to wurk fore I wus freed an' eber since I wus free, but nobody whups me now.
"I never owned my home; I done public wurk, an' den sumtimes I wurk on de farm fur shares, an' de boss got his share an' left me nuffin. Den I moved on sum war else.
"I wus mar'ed when I wus a mi'ty young man, to a bright yaller gal, named Josephine Williams, an' she made me a good wife. She stayed wid me forty one years an' had seven chulluns. O, yes, I had to whup her sum times, but den we all way wud git long better aft' dat. I culdnt read nur write an' she culdnt, but we sont all our chulluns to school, an' when dey got big er nuff to help us, dey left home an' went up north an' dun fur git us. Sum uf 'em is dead, an' dem dat is livin' wont write; dat is de way chaps treat deir parents dis day an' time. Learnin' dont help chaps take keer uf deir parents.
"My ole woman died 'bout ten years a go an' I live wid my sister Lindy Brumfiel' an' her darter, Nora Walker. Dey is good to me. I is too old to wurk, ceptin' I try to make a lil'l garden.
De young folks dont know how to wurk like de old folks. Most dese young folks thinks uf is good times an' when dey git a lil'l money de gamble it off, an' want fine clo'es all de time. Sum uf 'em goes to de pen, but when in slavery time, nobody went to de pen.
"I jined the Lit'l Tangipahoa Baptist Church when I wus a young feller, an' afte' while dey turned me out fur stealin', an' den dey tuk me back an' I went to preachin, an' I sho' preached de Gospel fur a long time; den afte' while de member uf dat church quit payin' me, an' den I quit preachin. No use to give de niggers de Gospel free when dey jes' spend all deir money fur whiskey, an' in crap games, an' wont pay de parson.
"My member ship is now wid de Osyka Shiloh Baptist Church an' Rev. Evans is de Shepherd uf de flock an' I is gwine to stay wid dem people till I pass on. I believe in shoutin', an' I kno' when yo' gits happy in de Lord an' yo' got a right to tell it. I believe in ole time relig'on.
"I doan kno' nuffin 'bout Mr. Lincoln, but Mr. Roosevelt is a mi'ty good man to all de pore folks, fur dey tell me he is de man who sont us all de 'lief, an' help us poor niggers to live. I kno' Rev. Evans is de finest uf dem all. He goes to see de sick, an' he bury de dead an' never git any pay fur it, an' his members doan pay him a nuff to pastor dat church.
"Yes, mam, I remember sum uf de songs dat de slaves uster sing but I nigh fur got most uf dem; one uf dem went like dis when dey wus cumin' frum de fiel' late in de evenin'---
"We is gwine er round --- O, de las' round --- We is gwine er round --- De las' round --- Aint yo' glad we gwine round de las' round We is gwine home."
A nudder song dey uster sing wus --- "Step light ladies, de cake is all dough, Neber min' de weather so de wind dont blo'---
One song dey wus singin' all de time wus --- "Run nigger run, de patroller git yo' Run nigger run, it is almost day.
"I kno' dar is Speerits. I is seed e'm an' I dun talk to de Lord 'bout 'em. One time I wus cumin' by de grave yard an' I seed a speerit. I seed dem eyes shinin' like de sun. I sed to it, "Who dat dar?" an' hit sed nuffin. I sed a gin, "Who dat dar?", an' dat time I chunk it wid a stick, an' den it made like it wus cumin fur me, an' den I run, an' de faster I wud run de faster it wud run; I looks back an' I seed it cumin' on, an' den I run faster and de faster it wud run. It looked like a dog but it wus as big as a mule. I hollered an' I hollered, an' when I wus near de house I calls Josephine, an' she wud not cum an' I kept hollerin' ---
Afte' while I fell on de doorsteps an' kept hollerin', an' den Josephine opened de door an' asked me "Whut wus de matter wid me?", an' I kept hollerin' an' culdnt tell her. Afte' while she throw'd sum cold water on me an' den I cum to my self an' tole her 'bout de speerit, an' she sed "Go long, nigger, yo' jes' had too much licker". I tell yo' I never went by dat grave yard a gin afte' dark.
"I believe dat was ole Marse speerit, kaze dat speerit wus standin' right by his grave. Ole Marster uster whup me an' he wus sho' afte' me dat time, kaze he kno'd I had stole a water melon. But I quit stealin' afte' dat an' now I live right.
"Dat water melon? O, I drap dat at de grave yard.
Barney Alford is an old negro, rather stout, weighs about 165 pounds; five feet and eight inches tall; round face and as black as they make them. He wears a mustache and that is grey as well as his hair.
He walks with a stick, but seems not to be cripple. Loves to talk about himself an' his mind seems clear on things in his early life, but his neice says he cant remember now. When I saw him the second time he seemed more than the first.
His clothing were old but clean.
Transcribed by: Ann Allen Geoghegan
The Federal Writer’s Project of
The Works Progress Administration
For the State of Mississippi
"If you teach them where they come from, they won't need as much help finding where they are going!"
Cordelia Carothers " Aunt Dee" Geoghegan (1894-1987)
Project Manager: Ann
Assistant State Coordinators and
Transcriptionists: Ann Allen Geoghegan, Debbie Leftwich, and
Rose Diamond and Linda Durr Rudd
Banner designed by: Melissa McCoy-Bell
Unknown worker photograph provided by L. Stephen Bell Photography, and family photo albums of Karen Schweikle, Lucy Gray and Jens Burkhart.
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