County: Pike and Franklin
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:
Ann Drake age 82
"I is mighty old an' bed rid'en; but I oughter be up an' 'bout fur I is only 82 years old, an' sum peeple older dan dat can wurk mighty good, an' I culd wurk 'till I got my hip knocked outern jint in er auter mobeel wreck, an' now I is laid up.
"I wus born in Franklin County on Mr. H. S. Anderson's place. He hed a big plantashun an' plenty slaves. He started out er poor man, but he wurk'd hard an' saved all he made; den he mar'ied Miss Loretta Jackson, and she brung him many slaves; my mammy wus one uf 'em. My mammy wus named Lucinda, an' she loved Miss Loretta, an' all de slaves did. Miss Loretta liv'd jes seventeen months and den she died an' mammy sed all de slaves cried.
"Mr. Anderson wint an' mar'ied er gin, an' this time to Miss Mary Gatlin, an' she wus not as good to de slaves as Miss Loretta. But Mr. Anderson wus er good man, and did not believe in 'lowing eny body to bulldose his slaves.
"Marster give us all plenty to eat. We hed meat, 'lasses, taters, milk an' bread an' ebery Sunday we hed biskits, an' one year in de month uf July he give a big barbecue fur his slaves, an' none uf us never seed so much meat in all our lives 'fore. He hed er cow kilt an' roasted her; furst he hed a pit dug, an' den dat pit wus civer'd wid green poles, an' meat wus laid ober dat fire, an' old Sam an' old Levi hed pitchforks an' turn'd dat meat ober an ober till it wus nice an' brown, den dey put sauce on it.
"While dat meat wus bein' cook'd he hed old Viney cookin' bread; she cook'd it in three leg ovens out under de trees, an' she cook'd a pile uf it, an' I watched her cook an' I den watch old Sam an' old Levi. Dat meat an' bread wus good. We et it 'fore night, an while dat wus cookin' sum uf de slaves wus jes standin' round singin' and sum pattin' lak dancin'. Yes, sum uf de songs wus ---
"Git out 'er de way fur old Dan Tucker;
Cum too late ter git his supper.
Old Dan Tucker, he got drunk,
Fell in de fire an' kick'd up er chunk,
Git out 'er de way fur old Dan Tucker;
Cum too late ter git his supper."
"Jay bird died wid de whoopin' couf
'Possum died wid de colic.
'Yon er leetle boy wid fiddle on his back.
Jes ter have er frolic."
"Cum 'long boys an' let's go 'huntin'
Cum 'long boys an' let's go 'huntin'
Cum 'long boys an' let's go 'huntin'
Heard de dogs bark an' kno'ed dey treed sum'in.
"Old Viney wus a good cook an' she cook'd all de time fur de white folks. My mammy done all de milkin' an' Katy done de washin' an' dey all he'ped in de house when Miss Mary called 'em.
"All de black chaps played in de yard an we had ter wurk when we wus big 'nouf. We hed tin plates an' sot on de steps uf de kitchen ter eat. Most uf de time all de fiel' han's cum ter de kitchen ter eat, but sum time we et in de quarters.
"All de candy I eber seed wus 'lasses candy, an' sumtimes dey put 'pinders' in it ter make it good. Dar wus peach trees on de place, an' plum trees an' apples too, an' hed dat ter eat.
"We chaps played dolls sumtimes; no, mam, I niver seed er bought doll till afte' I wus grown; we jes tuk old dresses an' put er roll uf cotton in one end an' tied er string 'round it an' dat wus our dolls. Sumtimes we wud dress up in mammies dresses, an' play lak we wus fine ladies. Sum time we wud break down er bush an' hol' it ober our heds an lak dat wus er par'sol.
"I hed ter he'p tend de lil'l chaps in de yard, an' den I he'p sweep de stamps wid er brush broom made uf dog wood limbs, an' de only brooms dey hed in de house wus made uf straw wid strings wrapped 'round 'em. Dey wus good brooms an' didnt break yer backs.
"I niver seed er lamp till I wus grown; dey hed candles an' dey kep' er fire in de fire place all de time, and iffen de fire wint out dey hed to go to sum udder house to beg er few coals ter start er nudder fire.
"My mammy wus named Lucinda; she cum to Marse Anderson by Miss Loretter, kase she furst 'longed ter de Jackson estate. My mammy hed 10 chulluns all by de same man. Dar wus Lewis an' Levi, an' Martha, an' Jack, an' Louisa, an' Sam, an' Viney, Lucy, an' Sara, an' me. My pappy 'longed ter Mr. John Thompson, but he cum ter see us all de time. Afte' while he quit my mammy kase he sed "she wus too old fur him." My mammy lived ter be ninety years old.
"Mr. Anderson wus er fine Christ'in man. He built er church fur his slaves an' named dat church 'Rose Hill' an' I
reckin dat church is still standin' dar today. A Big black African man done de preachin. Dat African wore long rings in his ears, but he culd preach.
"On Sundays, de slaves jes sot 'round de cabin doors an' talk an' wrap hair, an' sumtimes dey wud sing. Sum times slaves frum udder plantashuns wud cum an' jine de crowd, but dey all toted passes ter keep de patterroller frum ketchin' 'em. Yes, dey sung ---
"Run nigger, run, de pat'roller' ketch yo'
Run nigger, run, it's almos' day.
Dat nigger run, dat nigger flew,
Dat nigger tore his shirt in two.
Dat nigger, he, sed don't ketch me,
But git dat nigger b'hind de tree.
Dat nigger cried, dat nigger lied,
Dat nigger shook his old fat side,
Run, nigger, run, it's almos' day.
"Sumtimes on Sunday, dat is when sum uf de slaves made 'lasses candy, an' den de way it wus pull an' made white, an' stuck all over yer. Dem wus sho good times. When de African wud cum dat is when we all went ter church an' den dey wud sing ---
"Old time 'ligion, old time 'ligion,
It's good 'nouf fur me.
"I remember one time Old Joe wus singin'
"Hang Jeff Davis ter de sour apple tree As we go marchin' by ---
an' Marse Anderson heard him an' made him quit singin' dat song, an' sed dat wus de finest man dat ever libed.
"Marse Anderson went ter de war an' stayed er long time. When he left he rid' his big black mare, and den he cum home he wus ridin' a speckled horse named 'Buford' --- dat wus er pritty hoss. Den he went 'way ergin, and when he cum back he wus riding er mule named 'Jinny' ---
"While Marse Anderson wus 'way frum home, de Yankees cum ter de big house, and one man dressed in bles an' big hat on his hed rid' right up ter de steps an' tole Miss Mary dey wus not goin' ter hurt eny uf dem. He ast whar wus de boss, an' den all de sojers went ter de smoke house an' tuk all we hed ter eat, an' den dey went ter de crib an' whut corn dey culd not tote off dey scatter'd 'round ober de ground. Den dey went out ter de gin an' burnt dat. Dey tuk Miss Mary's best blankets, but dat wus all, dey didn't stay long.
"Afte' dey left an' Miss Mary seed we hed nuffin ter eat, she cried, an' sum uf de slaves grabble up all de corn dey culd an' tuk it ter de mill an' got sum meal, an' den two uf de men kilt er cow an' we hed planty ter eat.
"When Marse cum home an' seed his gin burnt an' his fence tore down he look'd mighty sad. Den one day in May 'bout ten o'clock in de mornin' he blow'd his horn er long time, an' de slaves cum frum de fiel' on hosses an' mules; he made all uf us stand right in frunt uf de kitchen door an' den he tole us we wus all freed, an' he wus going ter "contract" wid 'em. I ast mammy "Whut is freed?" and mammy sed "iffen I give yer a back han' slap, yer brat, I'll teach yer whut 'freed' is."
"My brudder Lewis tuk his fambly an' left, an' old Lizzie tuk all her chaps an' left, so did Viney, de cook, an' dat wus er sho' nuff good cook.
"Mammy stayed dar er long time an' Mr. Anderson wus good ter all uf us but he hed lil'l ter pay us wid. Times got mighty hard wid [us.]
"Money wus mighty scarce in de country, an' black peeple culd not git credit, an' dey hed nuffin to make er crop wid, an' so dey hed to hire out on shares, an' dey made nuffin, an' whut lil'l dey did make, de white man got it so de slaves wus kep' movin' frum place ter place. Mos' uf Marse Anderson slaves went off an' wurk fur sumbody else, an' udder slaves cum ter wurk fur Marse Anderson. He tried ter pay dem fur de wurk - he wus good and while he whupped he did not beat his slaves, an' he 'lowed no body else ter beat 'em.
"I stayed dar till 'bout seven years, an' I went ter Summit ter wurk fur Miss Cotton. I done all kinds uf wurk - I wus er fiel' han' an' washed, an' scrubbed an' cooked an' milked. It was while I wus wid Miss Cotton dat I met Bill Drake. I wus livin' wid er nudder man, an Bill sed "let's us git mar'ied" I sed "alright" --- dat wus in de summer time uf de yellow fever; so we went ter Magnolia an' got mar'ed - I doan fergit who it wus dat mar'ed us, but he wus we white man, an' I believe dey sed he wus er preacher. We niver told enybody we wus mar'ed till de nex' Christmas an den we cum ter McComb ter live.
"When we got here I got wurk wid Miss Nora - she mar'ed Mr. Badenhausen, who wus a big German, an' he buried all de peeple who died wid de yellow fever, kase he had hed it one time. De furst man in dis town ter die wid yellow fever wus Mr. White.
"When I cum ter dis town ter work, Mr. Warren Easley wus de mayor uf de town, an' I uster ter wash fur him an' his wife.
"When I cum here, dar wus sojers camped right whar de colored folks grave yard now is. Dey hed er big commissary an' post office right clo'es ter whar de school house is. Yer know dey wus ordered here by De President ter stop so much fightin' amongst de white peeple - Sum white men wus campin' an' sum body shot atter dem one night, an' dat is why de sojers cum.
"Mr. Berglund cum here wid de sojers and he stayed an' bought all dat land an' put up er saw mill, an den he built sum houses an' dat place wus called Burglundtown. De Mill burn down an' Mr. Burglund died, an afte' while de colored folks took persesshun of dat end uf de town.
"But I tell yer I'is hed sum mighty hard times; Bill, my old man got wurk in de shop fur er while, an' den he wurk fur Mr. Burglund an I done all de wurk I culd, an' we bought dis lil'l home; it wasn't much, but it is paid fur.
"I cleaned de school house in East McComb fur thirty four years until I got whar I wusnt able. I wus in er car wud Mrs. Wheelock an' her darter an' de car turn'd ober, an' knocked my hip outern jint, an' now I kant stand on it eny more. I reckin sum day I will be able ter git up - but de white folks is mighty good and kind ter me; dey bring me sumthing ter eat ebery day, an' dis man, in de house waits on me an' sees dat I have ebery thing I need 'fore he goes ter wurk.
"Bill died fifteen years er go; we jes had four chilluns, an' dey is all dead. I is jes left er lone an' wont be long 'fore I will go. I niver stole enything in my life an' niver seed inside uf de jail, an' am now livin' ter serve My Master my last days on dis here earth.
"I is er Baptist; I jined Flowery Mount Baptist Church here in Berglundtown forty-five years er go. I he'p support dat church, an' went ter church ebery time dar wus preachin' but I dont go eny more now. I jined under Rev Washington - an' (he) wus de best preacher we eber hed. He is still livin' but too (old) ter preach now. Dat man kno's morern any man I eber seed. He kno's de Bible almos' by Heart.
"I must be eighty two years old' Miss Nore sed, iffen I wus ten years old when de surrender, dat I wus born in '55 --- and Prof Gibson sed I wus eighty two years er go - now I am 'bout eighty-two. Iffen I hed my life ter live ober I wud save my money fur old age. No body keers fur old peeple but de Lord an' He sho' takes keer uf his chulluns.
Ann Drake lives in Berglundtown, a negro settlement in the northeastern part of McComb; she is gingercake color, with white hair; head wrapped in a handkerchief; about five feet and eight inches tall and weighs about 140 pounds. She has been active all her life until recently; she was in an auto wreck, and now confined to her bed. She seems to suffer, but glad to talk with some one. I shall visit her again.
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
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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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