Title: Mississippi Slave Narratives from the WPA Records
Submitter: MSGenWeb Slave Narrative Project
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From the WPA Slave Narratives:
Foreword: Age 88 years, height five feet three inches, weight 115 lbs., general coloring yellow, general physical condition bad; Financial condition good. In addition to his large farm, he also has a surplus of cash on hand. He doesn't tell hard luck stories to visitors or ask help of anyone, neither does he boast of what he has. His house as well as surrounding premises have a very desolate appearance. He never spends money until it is absolutely necessary.
"I was born in Webster county, Mississippi, just east of Bellefontaine. My Mother's name was Harriett Morris who of course was a Quinn after the surrender. I can't tell who my father was. My mother was born in Georgia near Indian Springs. I don't remember my grandmother but I've been told she died at the age of 103."
"Our master was Col. Quinn, who was a preacher and a good man. He was awful good to his slaves. Back in those days the Pat-rollers had a custom of whipping slaves for almost no cause but people knew better than to whip Col. Quinn's slaves. In those days where masters were good to them there is a heep of my race that was better off then than now."
"Col. Quinn came to this country in 1827. When he was killed in 1863 or '64 he owned about 100 negroes. I well remember how he meet his death. I was standing at the corner of the house when his son-in-law, Dock Gore, came in. At this time it was a custom that chaps must not come on the front. I heard the loud talking and cussing too. I slipped to where I could see and Gore was in the hall. Col. Quinn was in the door, where I couldn't see him. Gore kept talking bad talk, finally went out at the gate walking backward, facing Col. Quinn all the time and I thought was latching the gate but reached for his gun. 'Twas on a Friday in August, the hands were in the field and of course Col. Quinn's wife was dead and had been for several years. Col. Quinn kept moseying along until he got to the steps and I know he said "Well Dock, I won't take that." At that time the gun fired. I ran told my mammy Mr. Gore throwed a ball of fire at Col. Quinn. My mammy never did work much in the field she worked around the house. I went to field to give the alarm. If them niggers could have ever caught sight of Mr. Gore they would have caught him and killed him. Dock Gore then made to the delta for a hiding place and joined a company of deserters (those who would'nt go to the war). He stayed here until 1866 or '67 when they had a big horse race at Bellefontaine. I happened to see him sitting up in a tree, watching the race and hiding from eyes that might recognize him. I told a white boy about where he was and he left. Never was seen here again."
"My job during slavery days was to toat water, wait on the white folks and make fires at the house. My master didn't make chaps go to the field until they were in their teens and I wasn't a regular hand. Back in those days the white boys would give me nickels, dimes and quarters for errands such as bringing water to the soldiers, etc."
"We had plenty to eat but all the slaves didn't. Lots of them would steal. They had it to do to keep from starving."
"Col. Quinn never had an overseer on his plantation. He had more than 200 acres in cultivation. Most of the quarters were in good living condition."
"Judge Dunlap's plantation joined Col. Quinn's. Over at Judges place slaves worked from daylight 'till dark. Some of them that didn't get their tasks done would get whippings. I've covered up my head lots of times to keep from hearing the licks so I could go to sleep."
"One fellow from Africa that was put to work at night soon after he landed said on this moonlight night: "Oo---ee ain't dese Americans smart. As soon as one sun go down dey hang up another one".
"In 1861 a fellow came through with mules for sale. Heard that Col. Quinn wanted a pair so he went there. Col. sent to the field and go "Aunt Jane", an excellent slave who could cut off a log as quick as anybody. She picked the pair of mules he bought. At that time Greensboro was the cotton market. On account of his money being so far away and the men strangers he was forced to ride most of the night to have the money for the strangers by early the next morning. He dismissed himself from the supper table and told the strangers to make them selves at home he had an errand to make and would be back soon. Next morning the money was ready for the men. Aunt Jane always claimed this pair of mules and would not let any body else plow them."
"We went to the white folks church. This same church is standing yet though it has been repaired some. Some of the negroes were allowed to go there and shout just like the white folks. We were also taught to read and write."
"Col. Quinn had three girls and three boys. Two of the boys were killed during the war and the other one took charge of the farm after Col. 's death."
"Soon after Col. Quinn's death one of his daughters had some words with my mammy about the division of his property and we left. My mammy got a job cooking not far from here and I have lived about in the community ever since."
"I've been married several times. Have eight children living about: four boys here, one in Detroit, one in Columbus, Ohio, one in Illinois and one in Oklahoma."
"I have voted in the General Election lots of times. My brother, Hamp, who is a good many years younger than I am and lives in Eupora, was for a number of years, Republican party referee in Webster County."
NOTE: Spart, as no doubt can be detected from the reading of the manuscript, is not full blood negro. He revealed to an intimate white friend who told me that Col. Quinn was his father. He does not associate with the negro race much. When his health will permit he attends preaching at a near-by white church. He is very sensative about answering personal questions. He refrains from revealing many facts about himself personally.
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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