Title: Mississippi Slave Narratives from the WPA Records
Submitter: MSGenWeb Slave Narrative Project
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From the WPA Slave Narratives
Manda Boggan, ex-slave, lives two miles east of Weathersby, Mississippi. She was born about 1847, was owned during slavery time by Isham Brown in Simpson County. She is small and withered. Her health is very good considering her age. She is a devout Christian but a bit flighty in mind. She sings religious songs one minute while the next will dance as she sings some negro ragtime song.
"I believes I had de bes' master in de worl'. I gits ter thinkin' ob de days back in slavery time an' wishes ole Mars could ev alwa's cared fo' us. He was a preacher an' sho' did live his religion, an' taught us slaves ter walk in de straight an' narrow way. He wouldn't 'low no overseers wukin' his slaves, 'cause he wont gwine ter hab 'em beat. He got wuk a plinty out 'en us, fer when yo' turn a bunch ob niggers a loose an' let 'em sing, pray, an' shout all dey wants ter he's sho' gwine ter turn de wuk off.
"I don't know who mars bought my mudder from, but I knows my pa was bought from a man in Virginia. He married my mudder after he come to mar's plantation. Dey lived in one ob de little log cabins back ob mar's who lived in a big low, ramblin', log house, wid a big kitchen an' dinnin' room built away from de main house. Dey had a slave cook what was named Hannah, dat done de cookin' fer mar's family an' all de wukin' slaves. I jes' wish I could tell yo' all ob all de good grub deir was cooked an' served. All I can say is dat hit was good grub in 'bundence.
"Afore I was big 'nuf to be sont to de fields, I jes' played 'round ever whar wid de chilluns. Us made play houses under de big oak trees. Us raked up big piles ob leaves fer beds, an' made rag-dolls, us made dresses an' hats out 'en leaves pined tergether wid pine straws. Den us played run an ketch games us made up.
"My first wuk was 'round mar's house, totin' cule water a mile from a spring, an milkin' de cows. Hit took a heap ob us ter milk all dem cows. De milk den had to be strained in big stone crocks and put in de dairies dat was built out under de trees ter keep de milk cool. Deir was a heap o' churnnin' ter be done. Hit 'peared lak us had ter churn fer hours 'afore dat butter would be deir.
"When I was put in de fields, hit was wuk from early till late. De fields would be full o' slaves a wukin' hard. Us would look up an see Mars acomin' across de field wid his Bible under his arm. He would walk along whar us was a wukin' an' read a text, den us would sing an' pray. De song us laked bes' was, "De Day ob Jubilee es come." (Here she sings the song.)
"Eber Sunday mornin' Mars went to de slave cabins an' read de Bible an' prayed. He come in de cabins wid a smile. Us went to meetin' once a month wid de white folks an' set in de back. Us waited on 'em, toted in water an' tended ter de chilluns. When de meetin' was ober us kotched de horses an' led 'em to deir blocks an' brung de carriages 'round fer 'em.
"I wants yo' all ter know, us had gran' times at de frolics. On Satuday nites us would dance all nite long. I can hear dem fiddles an' guitars yet, wid dat loud, "swing yo' pardners". Hit was all gran'.
"One ob de saddest days of us' lives was when Ole Mars died. He was de bes' friend us all had or eber will hab. After he was burried in de ole church yard, de slaves was divided amoungst his chillun. My dear brudder was took slap off to Texas an' us ain't neber heard ob him since. A heap ob de families was tore apart lak dat.
"De war come an up-sat eber thing wus den eber. Wid de Yankees a comin' through a tearin' up de whole face ob de earth an' a takin' eber thing a gwine an' a comin'. Den wid de soldiers a marchin' 'round a scarin' us slap ter death, us run as fas' as us could eber time us seed 'em. When de war git so clos' us could hear de guns a shootin' an us could see de lights from de battles. I can tell yo' all dem was scary days.
"After de war ended, Ole Missus, she deeded us a little tract ob land an' one ob de slave cottages. Us done very well. But I uped an' married de sorriest nigger in de whole country. We raised a big bunch ob chilluns an' he died an' I was crazy 'nough ter marry another nigger, who turnt out ter be as sorry as de fust one.
"Ise a livin' wid my daughter now. Ise ole but enjies life. I wuks a little 'round de house, I sings, prays and dances when I gits happy.
"De government helps ter take care o' me an' de good white folks helps me long too. A heap o' folk gib me nickles an' dimes ter see me dance.
"I believes in ghos'. Seein' is believin' an' Ise seed haints all my lief. I knows folks can be hoo-dooed, mighty curious things can be done. One nite I was gwine to a dance. We had ter go through thick woods. Hit was one o' dem nites dat yo' feels lak deir is somethin' somewhars, yo' feels quir lack an' jumpy an' wants ter look ober yo' sholdier but scart to. Deys alwas' a hant 'round when hits lak dat. De fust thing us knowed deir was a ghos' right in front ob us what looked lak a cow. Hit jes stood deir, a gittin' bigger an' bigger, den hit disappeared. Us run lak something' wild. I went on ter dat dance but sho didn't dance none, I jes' set 'round an' look on, an' from dat nite I ain't neber gone to a frolic an' danced no mo'. Nor I ain eber gwine to.
Contributed and transcribed by Dan Johnson
"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)
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