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.
MSGenWeb Index Page
USGenWeb African-American Griot Project
From the WPA Slave Narratives:
Rube Montgomery - Age 86
Foreward: Age 86 years, height 5' 5", weight 146 lbs., color cocoa brown, health bad: ruptured and also has rheumatism. Not able to do any kind of work. Depends on two daughters for support who make their living washing for the public.
"I was born in Choctaw county near Chester on the 5th day o' October, 86 years ago. My mama was Ann Weatherall an' my papa was a white man. My mama was born up near Pontatoc, Mississippi. I was de only child she ever birthed."
"Our white folks didn't own but two slaves. 'Sides my Ma, de other was a nigger man. I was de only little nigger on de place."
"We lived in little log houses what was comfortable 'nuff. Our beds was homemade (built in de corner o' de room) wid jus' one leg. Had a railin' from each side de leg what was 'tached to holes in de walls. De Mattress was made out o' hay."
"My marsa was Theodore Weatherall an' Missus Mary was his wife. Their chillun was Mag, Mandy, Adeline, John, Theodore, George, Bell an' Venie."
"Course I was born here on Marsa Weatherall's place an' started doin' little jobs 'round de place soon as I was big 'nuff. Two years befo' de surrender they started me workin' regular in de field an' doin' grown folks work. My old boss whipped me de first day I worked 'cause I lost de cuttin' colter. I 'member one day de old boss hollowed fo' me to bring him some water. I looked an' saw de white chillun comin' from school at dat time an' told him if he wanted any water to go get it his self 'cause I's gone after dem dinner buckets to get dem fried 'taters an' ever thin'. Old boss sho' would-a whipped me dat time but old Missus wrapped me up in her dress. Old Miss sho' was a good 'ligious woman."
"Like I was born in October---my old Miss made Mamy wean me in March an' she (Old Miss) suckled me. I was jus' two weeks older 'n her child. Course I don't have to tell I was raised in de white folks house. My white folks was sho' good to me: 'specially Missus."
"Durin' slavery days I went wid de white folks to church. I 'members de first person I saw shout was a white woman an' she started shoutin' right by me. Believe me I darted out dat meetin' house. Old miss grabbed at me when I started by her but shucks, I was gone then. When they got home I was there settin' on the steps."
"De patrollers sho' would give niggers a floggin when they catched 'em way from home without a pass."
"I's seed 'em sell slaves a heep o' times. De slave block was 'bout two and a half miles from Ackerman an' I's been to these sales heep o' times wid my Marsa."
"Me an' my old Marsa carried five bushels meal, five midlins an' four sholders meat to old Bankston for de government an' it was put in a store room there. That very night de Yankees burned de town down. They was there when we got there but they wasn't nobody what knowed who they was. They took one our neighbors best saddle horses an' one his niggers an' nobody aint never heard o' dat nigger since."
"When de war was over our Marsa called us an' told us we was free an' could leave if we wanted to but we stayed on wid him de rest o' dat year an' when we left he jus' give us one tenth de crop. We moved on Dr. Montgomery's place then, down in the southern part o' Choctaw county. He built us a house an' give us all de land we could clear for three years.'
"My mama married when we went to Dr. Montgomery's an' I stayed on there with her an' her husband 'bout ten years an' left cause he (mama's husband) didn't treat me right. I moved down close to Weir then an' married Cindy Potts. She died eighteen months after we was married an' left me with a ten month old baby. I give my baby an' what little I had to my Mama an' went to workin' here an' yonder fo' wages. I've been livin' here 'round Ackerman since Ackerman was first built. I helped build de railroad from Kosciusko to Ackerman. Most o' my life I have spent farmin'."
"I slept wid a colord fellow after de surrender what had scars of gashes all down his sholders to his waist where his white folks had whipped him. My white folks was good to me tho'---I had a heep better time when I growed up than folks does now. I had clothes to wear, plenty to eat, no taxes to pay an' no nothin to worry bout. Shucks I was a heep better off. When I was able to work tho' I didn't want fo' nothin'. I always had plenty."
I's seed a heep o' Ku-Klux. They used to be thick up here on Biwy. One Ku-Klux got his collar bone cut into up there one night. He went in on some niggers what lived with a widow woman an' the nigger sho' made hash out o' him. That white woman give her nigger de money to leave here on an' he left.
"I used to vote but I wasn't educated an' you know they knocked us out---all those who couldn't read an' write."
"My second wife was Nina Head an' our chillun was: Narciss, Swint, Annie White, Ellie Montgomery, Zeddie Roberson, Leroy an' Ida. One my boys works in a tire plant in Memphis part o' de time an' de others is unemployed 'cept odd jobs they picks up along."
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.
Copyright © 2005-2008 by MSGenWeb Project. All rights reserved.