Title: Mississippi Slave Narratives from the WPA Records
Submitter: MSGenWeb Slave Narrative Project
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From the WPA Slave Narratives:
My mind ain't sprightly like it used to be, and heaps of things what went on when I was young, I forgets, and heaps of them what I want to forget I can't. Them was terrible days. My master and Miss was the meanest folks what ever lived. They warn't nothing but poor white trash what had never had nothing in their lives. Misses Sister was poor white trash too, but her and her husband had got a little prosperous raising cotton and bought a few slaves. Their names was Howard. You know how some folks is when they gets up a little in the world. They wants to see their family pull out of the mire. So Mrs. Howard gave her sister, Mrs. Mullens, a little place back in the woods, and my mammy and daddy and us children. We had to clear it up, and work it. There wasn't nothing on that place. Not a cow, not a hog, nothing -- not even so much as a feather from a chicken. They ain't got no money to buy us no clothes, or shoes, so we goes in rags, and barefooted, even in the winter. Many is the time I have helped pull pine logs out of water ankle deep and coated with ice, me in my bare feet. It sure was pitiful the way things went them days. We didn't know much about what was going on in the outside world. The little town nearest us was called Rock Port. It is in Copiah County. It was seldom we left the place. We worked from daylight to dark but there warn't no such thing as satisfying either Master or Missis and we never knew when we were going to be whipped. Even after Master got so crippled he couldn't walk, he would call us to him and strike us with his crutch. I don't know nothing 'bout no dates, figures goes right out of my head, but I knows we stayed there a long, long time. I remember well when the stars fell. They didn't come straight down like most folks thinks they did. They went right slanting like towards the North, and they looked like balls of fire. We was all so scared we screamed and cried and prayed all at the same time. It sure looked like the end of the world had come, and I speck we would have been all burned to death if the Good Lord hadn't let them stars go slanting like to the North. We didn't even know when the War was over. The white folks tried to keep it out of the ears about freedom. Some of the Yankees must have told my daddy about it. He ain't made no mention to nobody 'bout what he heared, and that very night he disappears. He was gone a long time. It must have been nigh on to a week. We was all sleep in the middle of night when he came slipping in. My mammy was in bed with a young baby. He called us all and said to get our things together; he was going to take us away across the river. We didn't have no things to get 'septing a few rags, and they were mostly used to put around the baby. The boat he was to take us in was so little he could only take one or two at a time, but we all made it over before daylight caught us. There was a house all ready for us on Mr. John Potter's place. He had a good wife named Miss Malinda. She sure was good to us. She got us clothes and shoes and even so much as gave us a cow. Our trouble would have been all over, if it hadn't been for that Ku Klux. Lord have mercy! How they did scare us. They had a song they sang to you that they would be back to see you. I did know the words to that song, but it has skipped my mind since I have gotten so old. When they came they fought, beat, and some time killed. Glory be to God, they never came nigh my house! I stayed on that place a many a long day and raised a big family of children. Most of them is dead now, so I came to the Delta to live with my daughter, Mary. She cared for me mighty good 'till her husband died. Since that time she does the best she can to support us by picking cotton, and the like of such. We lives here all alone and heaps of time we talk about the long ago. The other night she said to me, "How come you reckon the Ku Klux didn't come to your house," and I says, "I just don't know but I am mighty thankful I never failed to put salt on the fire every time I heared them old squeench owls."
Interviewer: Carrie Campbell
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 Allen Geoghegan
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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