Title: Mississippi Slave Narratives from the WPA Records
Submitter: MSGenWeb Slave Narrative Project
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From the WPA Slave Narratives:
Tom Floyd, ex-slave, lives about six miles North East of D'Lo, Mississippi. He was born about 1842 and was owned during slavery by Everrett Floyd. He is five feet and seven inches in height and weighs about one hundred and forty pounds. He is a malatto, his general coloring being a light brown. He has freckles and wears his sprinkled grey hair clipped close to his head. A usual broad smile shows broken and dingy teeth. He states that his health is poor.
"Yes'm I come from 'way up in Missouri but I don't 'member how I done it. Ye see me and my ma belonged to Marse Michael up in Missouri afore us was sole to Marse Floyd. I was jes' fo' years ole. I guess my pa was a white man. I didn't have no brothers or sisters until after us come south. Den I had five brothers and one sisters.
"Us lived in a log cabin back o' Marse's big house. Dey was a plumb row ob 'em. I guess Marse's house was a two story building cause dey was room on top o' de house.
"Marse was terrible good to us, but jes' wouldn't 'low no devilment a tall. He took us out in de yard every once in a while an' tole us how to be good an' truthful. He took a heap o' pains wid us. I knows all 'bout mannerism. He done taught it too us 'for' us could walk good. When too ob us would tie up he would make us fight it out wid our fist. Wont no sticks 'lowed. We won't 'lowed to go nowheres a makin' merriment, but Marse built us a big flatform to have I pleasures on. He let us go romancin' in de woods every Sunday. Us would play on grape vines, fight, and swim wid out no clothes on. In the Evenings us would lay 'round on Marse's big gallery sing while he played. Us sho' was lazy when us got a chance at it.
"My ma's name was Harriet Floyd. She was a typical ole black mamy. She was alwa's jokefied wid chillun. Dey jes' naturally took to 'er. She wuked in de fiel's some, but most ob de time she was a nurse. She tended to sick folks all over de country.
"When I was jes' a little tot I didn't ware nothin' 'ceptin a shirt an if I could git by I wouldn't even ware hit. Us didn't have no shoes 'till us was big young-uns an den us wont 'lowed to wear 'em in summer cause dey had to last all de winner time.
"Us chillun was fed after de fiel' han's was. Us et in de kitchen in de winner time an' out in de back yard under de big trees in de summer time. All ob us little uns et outen a big bowl together an' we fussed an' fought over hit lak little puppies. We us smeared greasy hands in each other heads jes' heaps o' times.
"My fust wuk was 'round de house fer missus. I run errors or erons or some 'en 'nother fer her. I wuked 'bout in de fiels a little later an den I was stock shepherd 'til de war come. I loves keepin' up stock. I alwa's was kind an' good to animals, I guess hit was because dey couldn't talk or nothin'. But my hobby was alwa's sloppin hogs. I jes' loves to see 'em runnin' fer it an a gruntin lak.
"We went to de white folks meetin' house but we didn't care 'nufin 'bout hit. We made us an arbor out o' bushes an' jes' sang an' shout an' have all kinds ob service. We sang an' cut up a lot in de fiel's too. I can't think o' but one ob de ole songs whut we made up an' hit went lak dis -
"Going to de meetin house to hear de people pray,
"Going to lead de ole sheep along
"Going to lead de ole sheep along.
"Does I believe in ghos'? Let me see, - ghost? If you is talkin' 'bout haints, well, I recon dey is some-'em to em. I aint never seen but one an wont much to hit but I'll tell whut I knows. Hit was jes' a big ball o' fire rised up outen de grave yard an' den went away. Dat wont bad but I aint askin' to see hit again.
"When de war come on us had a hard time. I was a spy part o' de time. Didn't no cavalrymen ever bother us much, but clo'se and food got mighty scarce. Somebody burned our gin house down but I'se scared to say whether hit was dem cavarymen or not.
"Now don't go askin' me nothin' 'bout dem Klu Klux Klans. The Giverment done it, so go ask them. I aint kept no record uv it. All I know is dey kept law 'mongst us niggers an' I can't much blame 'em fer it cause some niggers did git mighty on-ruley.
"After de war was done wid us hired out fer wages an' finally settled on a farm o' our own. Didn't nobody tell us how to go 'bout nothin' or if they did us didn't pay no 'tention to 'em cause we sho' did have a hard go.
"I met de gal I married down at Pinola at a church doings. Her name was Betty. Oh! no I didn't start courtin' her rat den. I got to standin in wid her folks fust. Don't you think hits a good idea to make her folks like you afore you ever say anything to de gal? Well, I tried hit an' hit sho' wuked. Da all thought I was some 'em fine. We is still livin' together. All our ten chillun is still livin' but one an' he's dead.
No, I don't want to be no slave again but I believe hit was God's plan to lift de colored race. I aint got nothin' to say 'bout modern times. I wont be in it long, so I guess it won't be botherin' me.
Transcribed by Ann Allen Geoghegan
The Federal Writer’s Project of
The Works Progress Administration
For the State of Mississippi