MSGenWeb Library
County:  Rankin
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:
Lawrence Evans

Lawerence Evans, ex-slave, lives at Star Mississippi. He was born about 1858, was owned during slavery by Dr. Evans of Florence, Mississippi. He is about five feet six inches in height, weighs one hundred and fifty pounds. His general coloring is a rich brownish black. He is strong and active for his age and works daily for his living.

"My Marse was a country Doctor an' back in dem days visited his patients fer miles 'round, riding horse back an' in a buggy over rough roods. I jes' don't recollect what his name was. All I know is Ole Marse an' Dr. Evans. He owned my pa an' ma fer years afore I was born. I don't know who or where he bought 'em from. I wished I knowed all these things cause some how it seems worth findin' out or keepin' in my head. All I knows is the fust things I recollect I was a little chile, a slave nigger in a one room cabin back o' Marse's big house. These cabins was in two long rows. My Ma was ob de slave cooks, an' as de cook looked after de little chillun while deir was a wu'kin' in de fiel's, dis caused me alwa's to be close 'round her. I alwa's staid close to her 'till she died. I has a way o' stickin' close to de ones I lak. I never lef' her, Ole Mares', Ole Missus or my wife 'till dey all died.

"Ole Marse was kind to his slaves but he kept 'em under rule. Deir was a time fer everything, de big bell was rung fer us to git up in de mornings an' rung fer us to go to de big kitchen to eat an' go to wu'k, an' to come in from de feil's an' on lak dat. An overseer wu'ked us an' he sho' believed in keepin' us busy. Dey raised mostly cotton an' wheat. I was to little to wuk fiel's. I can recollect seein' de fiel's white wid cotton an' dem full ob slaves a pickin' hit an' a singin' an' a hollerin'. An' Marse he owned a boling shaft fer de wheat an de wheat growers fer miles an' miles and miles 'round took deir wheat deir. Dats whar I come in handy was toting an' movin' de straw out 'en de way ob de shaft. Everything alwa's went on quiet lak an easy on Marse's plantation. I think it was 'cause he had a good agreeable set o' darkies, dey jes naturally neber gib no trouble to amount to anything. Dey didn't hab to be all dat whipping an' carrying on lak I'se heard ob. Us was taught ter mind an' ter wuk; us was taught good manners an' ter be polite.

"Now de slaves had pleasures 'long wid de wuk. Dey was allowed ter hab frolics an' times ter be off fer ammusements. One thing I can remember de slaves use ter do, dat was ter light candles when de nites was dark an' go off in de woods an' build big fires an' play games by de firelight. One game was ter ketch hands an' go 'round in a circle an' sing some ole song dat dey would make up, lak dis.

"Run Liza Jane an' take her home,"

"Run Liza Jane an' take her home,"

"Run Liza Jane an' take her home,"

"Run, run, run."

A boy would be a runing his gal, an' when he kotch her a nuther couple would run. Another game was steal yo' pardner. Dey would ring up an' go 'round an 'round a swinging deir pardners. De boys would steal other boy's pardners an' swing 'em 'round a few times an' take 'em back. When dey played lak dat till dey git tired dey would light de candles an' march 'round through de woods a singing an' a humming.

"Us began to hear turrible tales ob de coming war to free us. Den de fust thing us knowed it was on, an' eberthing got upsot. I can recollect when de battles was being fought 'round, could hear de guns a firing an could see de lights from 'em some times. Den troops ob soldiers would come marching through an' all kinds o' queer things a happening.

"When de war ended we stayed on wid Ole Marse till he died. Him being a Doctor he had a heap o' long trips to take. I use to ketch his horse an' hitch it up ready fer him to go, an den take it out an' feed an' put it in de stables when he come in. He was a busy Doctor an' de winters use to be cole an' hard an' de roads rough an' bad, but he would alwas' go. Us would wrap hot stones an' put 'em in de buggy to keep his feet warm, an' I'se gone wid him to drive an' to tend to de horse. Dem country Doctors back in dem days had a tough go as well as slaves. He died some time after de surrender. I stayed on wid Ole Missus till she died.

"When I was 'bout eighteen years ole I took an' fell in love wid a gal down de country a ways. I seed her at a big meeting an' I made it a pint to keep on a seeing her. Us didn't know how to courtship much, but us knowed us laked each other, so's us jis' uped an' married. I was a little young I guess but us made it fine. I stuck to her as long as she lived.

"I'se a sticking to my white folks yit. I'se a wuking fer Mr. Odom, I means to stick 'round wid him till I dies. I hopes to keep on a doing my bit, de bes' I knows how an' I believe everything will be alright."

Interviewer: Unknown
Transcribed by Ann Allen Geoghegan

Mississippi Narratives
Prepared by
The Federal Writer’s Project of
The Works Progress Administration
For the State of Mississippi