Title: Mississippi Slave Narratives from the WPA Records
Submitter: MSGenWeb Slave Narrative Project
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From the WPA Slave Narratives:
Foreword: Julia Stubbs, ex-slave, lives at Magee Mississippi. She was born about the year 1852 and was owned during slavery time by John Magee. She is about five feet and ten inches in heighth and stands extremely straight for her age. Her weight is around two hundred pounds and her general coloring is a dark brown with white hair from age. She is enjoying good health and lives alone on her own place about one mile south of Magee. This is her life story.
"I loves white folks and alwas' has fer I've fount 'em to be my friends. I likes to be whar I can be in touch wid 'em all de time. All my life I'se been big, strong, and considered robus'. I'se done a heap o' work fer white folks. Dey says I'se a plumb good cook. I recon I ought to be fo' I sho' has done a plenty o' cooking fer many a year. Back in de good ole days when de cooking was done on big open fire-places in deep beds o' red coals. No new fangled stoves can turn out de good cakes, egg-bread, baked taters and meats lak de ole fire-places dey had a tas' an' flavor all deir own.
"Marse John owned my pa an' ma for years afo' I was born. De fust thing I can recollect is a playing 'round de slave cabins wid other little slave chillun while our ma's was in de fiel's a wuking. We wore little straight cut home spun dresses an' went barefooted all de summer time when it got real cole weather us wore shoes.
"I can't say how big Marse John's plantation was fer I don't keep sich things in my head. We couldn't read or write an' didnt have no way o' keeping numbers and dates in our heads. I jes' knows dat we alwas' spoke of it as a big plantation wid a bunch o' slaves. Marse John didn't live in one o' dem big two story houses lak a heap ob 'em did, but his house was roomy an' nice. We was alwas' tooken care ob well an' dey fed an' clos'ed us good.
"I was a slave fer thirteen years. When I growed big enough to wuk I was put at mos' anything dat come handy, jis' a doing fust one thing den another. Mos' o' my wuk was 'round de house. I learnt to spin, knit an' weave. I helped wid de washing an' dey was some washing to do, wid loads o' water to be drawed an' toted to de long wash troughs made by hueing out big logs, dey was put on racks. We had to rub de clo'se by hand, so we beat 'em on blocks wid hickory battling sticks. It took 'bout all day to do dem washings. Deir was a heap o' ironing to be done. De white folks wore lots of white ruffled up, full things dat had to be starched an' ironed.
"I dont recollect much 'bout de making up o' de war. Us couldnt read nothing dat was writ 'bout it. We jes' heard rumors 'round, bout us was gwine to be freed, some said we would git land an' things but us didnt know jes' what to make ob it all. But when it did come on, it was tough fer everybody. Food begin to git scarce as de Cavalerymen would come an' take an' tear down everything, an' de fust thing we knowed won't much fer no-body. We had to dig up de smoke houses an' git de salty dirt, den boil and strain it to git salt. We didn't have no way a gitting soda, so's we made it by burning corn cobs. Us had to make coffee by parching corn meal.
"During de war deir was a heap o' deserters hid out. De Calvarymen would ride through a hunting 'em. We could might nigh alwas' hear 'em a coming long fo' dey got in sight, de womens would blow a horn sos dey could hide from 'em. I'se carried food to de woods to de deserters. Sometimes we would have to take it a long ways an' agin dey would be near by.
"After de war was over we wont give no land nor nothing dat dey promised fo' de war. Mos' all de slaves didn't know what to do. We stayed on wide Marse John fer a spell till we learn how to git out an' look out fer ourselves. We finally homestead a small farm an' done purty well.
"I married when I was 'bout nineteen years ole. I has four chillun. Dey growed up wid a little mo' learnin den we had back in de slave days.
"I belives de times an de folks is all too fas'. would be better off to slow down a bit. I enjies life a purty good health. I loves everybody an' wants to treat everybody good.
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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