Title: Mississippi Slave Narratives from the WPA Records
Submitter: MSGenWeb Slave Narrative Project
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From the WPA Slave Narratives:
Susan Jones Age 95 - Panola
I was born on Mr. Charles Alexander's plantation in Panola County. My father and mother was Si and Easter Alexander. When de war broke out I was not big enough to work in the fields so I played in de yard and helped in de house. Both my parents died before freedom was declared.
After de war I stayed with my brothers on de place for two years. All de slaves rejoiced and most of dem broke up and went to Memphis but when dey found dey couldn't git no work and live in de city so dey all come back. We all started one Sunday mawning and walked to Hernando and stayed all night under some plum bushes and walked to Memphis de next day.
I didn't see no fighting but jest heaps of fighting soldiers from both sides. One Sunday mawning early de Yankee soldiers come through and sot de public blacksmith shop on fire and took all de hosses, meat, chickens dey could find and even got in de milk cellar and drunk all de milk.
All de slaves was fed jest what de white folks et and it was plenty good. Marsta Charlie Alexander was a pore man and he married Miss. Jane Byrd, who owned all de slaves and land and she wouldn't let him treat us mean but when she died he raised cain. He beat up all de slaves and most any time you could hear niggers praying and hollering down at de neighbors house. He whipped 'em jest cause he could.
Why he'd take dem in droves down to de city and sell em jest cause he didn't like em. He'd put em in de cattle pen til he sold dem. My brother Henry Clay ran off in de woods after he whooped him so hard. He ran all day and de white folks set de coon dogs after him and he was caught. Dey put him in a barrell with a stick nailed over his shoulder and one between his knees so as he couldn't get out and dey put him in de yard so everybody could see him. Henry had a knife so he whittled de stick into de stick and got out and run off again after dat he was caught and whooped and de next time he run off he joined de Union soldiers.
After Miss. died we had a overseer and he sho was pore white trash and a meaner man never lived. He and his famble lived on de place and de niggers warn't no more than dogs on our place.
Miss had nine chillun and two daughters died.
I heard lots about de Klan but I never did see em, dey never done nothin' to us. We didn't expect so much from freedom but anything was better than what we had.
I kin remember when Abraham Lincoln was running for de Presidency. I've heard lots about him and seen Jeff Davis' soldiers and Lincoln's soldiers come through and dey burned all de fine houses and smoke houses and de white folks hid de silverware.
Dare was a man who come through and he looked jest like a tramp, well he inquired de way and counted all de plow hands, we had fifteen plow hands and thirty hoe hands. De next day de ground was darkened with soldiers and dey asked where de plow hands was and my cousin Paul said dere wan't none, well said de yankee, who runs dem fifteen plows and he led dem soldiers right to de field and dey took all de mules and nigger men and made de men fight. Some of dem deserted and de others fought in de war. De man what had come de day before was a spy.
My husband, Simon Jones fought in de war, he was in de northern army under General Foster in Company K. Regiment 59. He was in de battle of Vicksburg and Gettisburg.
I aint never seen no hants but I've heard em plenty of times. I was working in my garden one day and I heard some one walking in de house and I thought it was my sister and I called but she didn't answer and jest kept on walking so I went in and looked high and low but there warn't no body there and when I started out de door it started again and my hair gan to creep off my head and I nearly broke my neck gittint to de white folk's house. We would stay in de house with the white girls after dey father died and lots of times we would hear de peanna playing and dey didn't even have no peanna but you could hear them keys jest a playing, and folks would walk up and down de stairs.
Miss. loved pretty things and they jest had common things and lived in a double log house. She begged for a safe and real china dishes but he wouldn't git em for her but jest after she died he bought de safe and dishes. Night after night dem dishes would rattle and shake and we'd look and there was no one. De master said it was cats but we didn't have no cats and we jest knew it was Miss and she rattled dem dishes til every one was broke.
I live with my son Gundy Jones, he rents this farm. We've farmed all my life and my husband died sixteen years ago and I get a pension frum de Government. I got eleven children and too many grandchildren to count and I've even got great-great grand children and I've seen two of em.
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
Rose Diamond and Linda Durr Rudd
Banner designed by: Melissa McCoy-Bell
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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