Title: Mississippi Slave Narratives from the WPA Records
Submitter: MSGenWeb Slave Narrative Project
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From the WPA Slave Narratives:
"My name is Lincoln Watkins and I was born in South Carolina on the Savanny River, my father's and mother's names wus Joe and Francis Watkins, I had two brothers and one sister. We wus born on de Watkins plantation and lived in the slave quarters, but my young master took me into his house when he married and gave me to his new wife, I wus taught to do all sorts of house work, and that is what I have nearly always done. When I wus refugeed here after the ole war, I went to work for Mr. Pink Callicot at Coldwater and stayed with him for fifteen years, then I went to work for Mr. Maurice Moore here in Senatobia and when he died this summer I jest kept right on working with Mrs. Moore and Mr. Earl.
During the slave days, I slept in the white folks house on a hand made bedstead with a straw tick, and a tick filled with goose feathers, I never even heard of my grandfather and mother though my ma and pa was born on this plantation belonging then to my master.
I did any work that my young miss said do --- but I never even saw any money till I wus freed and in Mississippi.
We had plenty to eat mostly made on the farm, and it was cooked all right cause there wus a lot of the women that cooked all the time as their job, and they had been taught by older women, the game wus not plentiful around us, and most of the slaves made little patches of corn and vegetables for themselves. I always like the wild ducks and birds that we trapped on the river and barbacued in front of the fire.
All of us wore home-spun clothes that wus the only kind I knew about. As the weather wus hardly ever cold we wore about the same clothes winter and summer.
My ole marsta married all the couples and he had a doctor to tend to the slaves. I don't know how large or how many slaves wus on the plantation.
The overseer allus went around to see how the slaves wus working but master never let him whip um and master would whip them himself if he thought they needed it, but nobody ever whipped me but young miss, and then jest slappod me or pullod my ears.
There wus no jail and I never saw any slaves sold, they were let off from work Sunday and sometimes Saturday afternoon and some holidays. We allus had Christmas celebration and master gave everybody something.
Young Miss tried to teach me to read and write and gave me lessons but I wus too dumb to learn and didn't have the sense to appreciate it.
I never knew of any niggers running off and there wus never any trouble on our place between the colors.
We never went far but what we walked, and the white folks came and went in carriages.
I don't remember playing any games when I wus a boy cause Miss kept me right in the yard, but I've heard plenty tales about hants and charms. I don't remember much about the war I wus never near any of the fighting --- but we wus awful excited when freedom wus declared, but we had a hard time afterwards and lots of us wus refugeed to Miss.
All the slaves I know have worked for the white men, mostly in the fields. And now most of them are worn out and don't have a thing to help them in their old age.
I don't see the younger niggers are doing any better than we did --- though they are free, and have schools, their present condition here is mighty bad.
Interviewer's note: Lincoln Watkins is 85 years old is small and stooped but able to work and does work every day. He lives in fairly comfortable house with his daughter in the colored section of Senatobia, Miss. He is especially cheerful sensible and well mannered.
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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