Title: Mississippi Slave Narratives from the WPA Records
Submitter: MSGenWeb Slave Narrative Project
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From the WPA Slave Narratives:
Evie Herrin - Age Unknown
I ain't never been able to get satisfaction 'bout my age, 'cause my Mistis didn't give it to me when we was set free, and she is the only one what had it set down in figures. I was old enough to remember my Mistis. Her name was Winnie Evans. I was born on her place in Copiah County. She must have been a widow lady. I don't know, but she ain't got no husband, and she ain't got no children. My mother wasn't born in slavery. I is never understood just how that came about. She came from North Carolina, and she told me many times that she was free before she came to Mississippi. My mother was smart and apt, and old Miss took her for a houseservant. One day she got mad about something what happened at the big house, so she runned off. When she couldn't be found, they hunted her with dogs. Them dogs went right straight to the ditch where my mother was hid, and before the men could get to them, they had torn most of her clothes off her, and had bitten her all over. When they brought her in, she was a sight to see, all covered with blood and dirt. Old Miss flew into a rage, and she told those men not to never again hunt nobody on her place with dogs. I just can't tell you how many slaves were on that place, there were so many, but there warn't none of them ever hunted again with dogs.
We all lived in the quarters. The houses were made of logs and chunked with dirt. They sure were good and warm. Heap better than the houses what we got now. One person did the cooking for all. The food was the same as we eats now. You know niggers ain't never eat nothing but common food. I 'spects thats the reason we live so long. One day two little white girls living on the place next to us, called me, and said if I would build them a fire under the big pot in the yard, they would pay me. When I got the pot to boiling and the fire burning good, they goes in the house, and brings me out one biscuit for my pay. I was satisfied with it, 'cause biscuit made with white flour was as good as cake is to us now. We did not have drivers on the place. Mr. John Robinson was the manager, and he 'lowed folks would work without being drove to it. Mr. Robinson was some kin to old Miss. He lived in the big house with her, and did pretty much what she said.
There was one real sharp colored man on the place that would slip off at night and go visiting. Before he would go, he would take his shoes and turn them wrong side out, name one, Old Master and the other Old Miss, and put them under the front steps. Then he would say to them, "Stay right there 'till I gets back." He ain't never got caught, but he sure wouldn't go without first fixing them shoes.
I don't know just when freedom came. Some of the folks didn't hear about it for nearly a year, but they were the ones what lived a way back from town. Soon as we heared it, we left. The news came with all the grand stories about what we was going to get, and how we was going to be cared for. There warn't nothing to none of that. I am telling you the truth, the only thing we got was pure air to breath. They ain't given us nothing else to this day. Everybody was talking about Mr. Abraham Lincoln, 'cause he was the gentleman what set us all free, and I know he must have been a grand gentleman, and I speck he tried to stop some of the going on after the war. The riots and the like of such was just as bad as the war. They had some kind of a meeting at Edwards. Mr. Heather, a school teacher, was one of the ring leaders. A few nights later, Mr. Heather was tied to a log and shot. This caused a terrible riot at Clinton, and I can't tell you how many blacks and whites was killed. We was nigh scared out of our wits, living on a new place, and working for money, we didn't have no one to protect us. None of them ever came to our house. They were not after the folks what lived peaceful. We didn't know nothing but farming, so I kept to the profession all my days, even after I married. I had twelve children--- nine of them are still living. I have tried to bring them up to be Christians. When I was a child the only religion that was taught me on Old Miss place was that there was a heaven and a hell. From that little beginning, I got my true light. The most beautiful day in all my life was the day I got birthed in Christ.
(I am sending this interview which I have preserved in my treasures, because of its value to me. Never dreaming it might be contributed to any further cause)
Interviewer: Dennis Murphree - Ex. Governor of Mississippi
Transcribed by Ann Allen Geoghegan
The Federal Writer’s Project of
The Works Progress Administration
For the State of Mississippi