Title: Mississippi Slave Narratives from the WPA Records
Submitter: MSGenWeb Slave Narrative Project
Notice: This file may be downloaded for Personal Use Only, and may not otherwise be printed or copied without prior written consent of the submitter.
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From the WPA Slave Narratives:
"I'se had a hard time especially when I was a slave boy. I was born about 1850. My father an' mudder was owned by Cato Miller, along wid 'bout fifteen or twenty uder slaves. Us lived in little log huts scattered ober de plantation. My mudder died when I was jist a year an' a haf' ole. I was den taken ter be raised by Ole Missus, was nursed an' cared fer by de slave womens ob de big house. I jest growed up ter wuk an' wid out no larning.
When I was small I played wid de white chillun an' wid de little niggers too. I played in de branches, a wadin' an' a ketchin' crawfishes an' killin' birds in de woods. Us lacked to climb de trees an' swing out from de tops ob young saplins, dats what us called young pine trees; dey will bend to de ground wid out breakin' an' den fly back up. Dat was fun swingin' through de air lak dat an' see de trees whiz back up. All us had to amuse us was what us found in de woods, wid de trees, streams an' de hillsides. Some times I think dat beats skating on de side walks, wild west picture shows and swimmin' in des mad up swimmin' pools dat de little boys hab now. Gib us a dog, fishin' pole an' de woods, an' us found eber thing ter make a little nigger happy.
My fust wuk was doin' odd jobs 'round mar's big house, such as totin' in wood, drawing water, keeping' fires, an' runnin' an pedling 'round. Den later I was put in de fields, fust pullin' up grass, hoein' an' pickin' cotton. Master was good 'nough ter us, but de over-seers was what was cruel sometimes. Mars didn't mean fer de slaves to be beat lak dey was. At times big fields full would be a workin', dey would be a singin', hollerin' an' a prayin'; de overseer would ride up on hes horse an' think 'nough wuk hadn't been done, den he would beat 'em till dey would fall in de fields, an us would haf to tote water to 'em an' bring 'em to.
When de war come on dat was dark days fer us all, wid eber body riled up an' not knowin' what was a gwine ter happen or how things was a gwine ter turn out fer no body. At times us wouldn't hab half 'nough ter eat. De Yankees would come through an' destroy what us had made, an' take off de meat an clo'se an' tear up things gwine an' comin'.
My father went to de war wid hes master an' was crippled in a battle. I don't know when er which 'em. De Yankees was 'vancin' an' he was retreatin' wid master, den de Yankees come so close on de confederates dey had to run. My father, he run too but was captured by de Yankees an' us ain't nebber heard ob him since.
After de war ended an' us was freed, us had a hard time a gittin' 'justed, an' makin' a way fer us selves.
I married when I was twenty one. My wife, she lived ten or twelve years an' died. Den I married Julia fourty six years ago in '91. Us is still livin' ter-gether an' a gittin' mighty old an' feeble. I thinks ob de ole slave days an' shakes my ole head, an' den I thinks it was hard but all fer de bes'. Us played us' part. Somebody has got ter pay de price ob dis great civilization ob ours. If we hadn't been brung over an' made slaves, us an' us' chillun dat is being educated an' civilized would be naked savages back in Africa now. All I can say ter yo' all is I is satisfied on my farm wid my wife Julia. Us don't hab much but de government helps us an' us gits alon'.
Interviewer's note: Tony Cox, ex-slave, lives five miles east of Braxton on the old Jaynesville road, and was owned by Cato Miller. Tony Cox is tall, straight and thin, his hair is about half grey and his black face is close shaved. He is in fairly good health and active for his age, he has his natural teeth, but is very hard of hearing. He is not very talkative.
Interviewed by: Unknown
Transcribed by Ann Allen Geoghegan
The Federal Writer’s Project of
The Works Progress Administration
For the State of Mississippi