Title: Mississippi Slave Narratives from the WPA Records
Submitter: MSGenWeb Slave Narrative Project
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From the WPA Slave Narratives:
Charlie Jordan Age 88
I was the slave of Mr. Jessie Jordon. He was a slave owner and planter.
I remember the war and when we was freed. Old Marse had a book that he kept all the name of the slave babies' in, my grandmothers name was the first name in the book, and it was put there in 1782. One of old Marse's daughters that was going to school would, if there had been a birth that day among the slaves write the babies name in the book for her father. She would write it with a goose-quil pin and all the ink we had was made from the polk-berry. My grand-mothers name was Racheal Jordon, for all the slaves took the name of their master that owned them. If she was living now she would be one hundred and fifty six years old.
This book had a wooden back at first, it was cut from a thin board. But it is off now and tied together with a string. When old Marse turned us niggers loose he never put another name down in the book. Old boss was borned in 1800, and died in 1865.
He turned us loose in May. When we was freed, my sister and some more of the niggers come to what is now
Wayne County, my sister married. Then my mother brought me here, I was a boy four-teen years old.
Old master had a gin and we ginned all our own cotton, and for other folks too. Old Marse always put every name in his book of the people he ginned for. It was over a hundred miles to Mobile but we had to haul our cotton to Mobile on ox wagons, it would take us several days to make the trip there and back.
Another thing old marse put down in his book, was the name of every colt that was borned on the place.
Our Old Master was a good man, and treated us niggers right and we had a better time with him than we did after he let us go. But all the Masters was not good to their slaves.
Every family had his own little house to live in, and if one got sick old Marse and old Mistress would both come to see about them and get them medicine. We cooked at home, but when we was too far to come home for dinner we had a cook place out under the trees at the fields and we cooked dinner and eat there. If a rain caught us we'd all crowd in the cotton house, this was a house that was built to put the cotton in when we picked it.
I was a boy four-teen years old and mostly stayed around the house and helped old Miss. She was good to us too. One of the things that I did, was, every day when old Marse would lie down to take his nap after dinner, I would stay by him and keep the flies off of him with the long pretty tail feathers of a Pea-fowl, they made good fans.
Then late of a evening if he wanted to go hunting I went a long and turned the squirrles so he could kill them, then I took them home and skined them.
The Raiders came through this country but they did not do any harm to my old masters place.
When old boss died his book went to the oldest one on the place, and it has been handed down this way for all these years. I have it now a long time, and I am the only one left.
It show is a solemn thought to me to think about it, and I feel like I won't be here much longer my-self, for I am old and crippled up with rheumatism so I can't hardly walk.
Reference: Charlie Jordon, Waynesboro, Miss. Route 2. Age 88 years Interviewed, October 3rd, 1938
Interviewer: Kate Campbell
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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