Title: Mississippi Slave Narratives from the WPA Records
Submitter: MSGenWeb Slave Narrative Project
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From the WPA Slave Narratives:
Manda Edmondson, ex-slave, lives three miles south of Weathersby Mississippi. She was born about 1842, was owned during slavery time by the Browns. She is about five feet and three inches high and weighs about one hundred and fifteen pounds. Her general coloring is a dusky black with snowy white hair. She is enjoying good health and is strong for her age. She is a devout Christian and spends much of her time singing and shouting.
"My Marse lived in a big log house wid de slaves a livin' in log cabins in a row back o' his house. He bought my papy and mamy from a slave trader long afore I was born. I was brung up on de plantation wid a bunch ob little slave chillun, deir was alwas' a heap ob 'em. Yo' see dey would want de slaves to raise big families so's to have mo' of 'em to wuk, so de chillun was cared fer to grow up an' be useful. Hit was wuk from day light 'till dark. De fields was alwa's watin' besides all de other wuk dat had to be done to keep so many a goin'. De big kitchen was kept steamin' wid good things a cookin', all ob hit done on de fire places, but dat good po'k, taters an' turnip greens wid good steamin' egg bread an' 'lasses cakes was worth eatin'. Fer supper us had big bowls ob creamy milk an' bread. Deir was knittin', spinnin' an' weavin' gwine on mos' all de time, as hit took a heap o' civer deir was a lot ob quiltin' goin' on. Soap an' candles had to be made, de hogs had to be killed an' de lard an' meat dried; fruit to be gethered an' canned an' dried. Den lasses was made. All dis wid dozens ob other things kept everybody in a stir an' de cow horn a blowin' all through de day fer de slaves to go to wuk an' when to go to Mars' to eat an' on lak dat.
"De chillun was fed after de grown ups was. Dey was taught ter be polite, to mind be quiet when 'round de house. Dey could turn loose an' make noise a plenty as long as was out ob de way. Dat was when day would run an' play games, climb trees, hunt nuts an' play in de streams. I'se done all dat wid 'em an' den go to sleep on de cabin flo' an' sleep as sound as a log.
"I wuked 'round de place when I growed up big 'nuf at jes' anything I was tole to do. Dat was fust one thing an' den another an' a plenty it was too. When I was a good sized strip ob a gal jes' afore de wa' Marse Brown died. Us was all of us up-sot over hit. De slaves was den divided among' st his chillun. Me an' my folks was give to Marse Allen Brown on Rials Creek. One day us was tole dat our new Marse was come fer us an' de change was made wid us a wonderin' how our new Marse an' home would be lak.
"Us wont taught no learnin' but was let to go to frolics an' picnics now an' then. Us would dance an' meet boys from other plantations an' court an' have our fun. We went to church at de white folks meetin' house, an' sing an' shout in de fields. Some ob dem ole songs was mighty purty an' some ob de ghos' tales what was tole in de fields was powerfully hair raisin' an' tales ob superstition an hoo-doo; tales ob haints an' mystery an' on to tales ob wa' an' freedom.
"I married 'bout de time de wa' started an' all through de wa' I helped to spin an' knit an' weave. A heap o' hit was fer de soldiers. De cavalry men would ride through an' take a heap o' hit 'long wid de good horses an' food. De troops balled all 'round but never did git very close, but close 'nuf to scare us folks.
"After de surrender an' us was free us started life fer our selves. Hit was hard at fust but things alwa's gwine ter wuk out. After several years my ole man died an' den I married again. I'se now livin' wid my daughter Anne Carter an a gittin' powerful ole but I still am able to sing an' shout. Yes, I'll alwa's sing an shout."
Transcribed by Ann Allen Geoghegan
The Federal Writer’s Project of
The Works Progress Administration
For the State of Mississippi