County: Rankin and Lawrence
Title: Mississippi Slave Narratives from the WPA Records
Submitter: MSGenWeb Slave Narrative Project
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From the WPA Slave Narratives:
Dave Weathersby, Born 1851
Dave Weathersby, ex-slave lives a few miles out from Braxton Mississippi in Rankin County on his own small farm. He was born about the year 1851 near Monticello Mississippi in Lawerence County, was owned during slavery time by William Weathersby. He weighs about one hundred and fourty five pounds and about six feet in height. His general coloring is a dark reddish brown. He is active for his age. This is the story he tells of his life.
"I was a slave boy till I was 'round fourteen or fifteen years ole an' can well recollect a heap o' de doings an' de ways o' living back in dem days. My ole Marse was a big plantation owner. I spec' he had mos' a thousand acres an' when de war ended he freed round a hundred an' twenty five slaves. De house he lived in was big an' fine, his house, servant house, barns, milk houses an' all civered a quarter uv an' acre. Dat milk house was built o' brick in de side yard under some trees an' was kept full o' creamy milk an' loads o' butter. Back in dem days dey had no way a keepin' milk an' butter cold so dey couldn't keep hit in de warm house an' dots why it was kept in dairys outside. Yo' know everything back in dem days had to be in de rough.
"De slave cabins was lak mos' places, built o' de Masters in long rows. Dey was mostly ob logs an' one room wid a dirt an' straw. Yo' see de cookin' an' eatin' was all done at Marse's house.
"Ole Marse was purty tight on us an' our young Master whut was one o' Marse's boys an' done part ob de overseeing, he would whip wid cow hide whips. I'se got a scar on my body now whar he whipped me.
"My pa was brung down from Virgiana an' sole on a block to de highest bidder. He brought 'round a thousand dollars. My ma was fetched from Kentucky. I don't know who owned my ma but pa met her an' wanted to marry her an' ole Marse bought her so dey could be deir together, dat was de custom back den. Ma was a house servant an' pa a fiel' hand.
"De fust wuk I done was 'bout de place. I was put to blackin' boots. I can see dem a shinning yet. I sho' has rubbed a many a shine on my white folk's boots. Now while I'se a mentioning 'em I want to tell 'bout de kind us wore. Dey was home made an' was tough an' stout. We alwa's got two years wear out ob dem. We jes' wore 'em when it was real cole an' when us went to Church. Now de plow han's wore 'em because it was so tough on deir feet. Other wuk I done was to ketch hosses some times in de pasteurs an' fiel's. Marse had purty hosses an' dey had to be cared fer to suit him in de way ob feedin', waterin' an' currin' 'em. Now an' den I was put at other odd jobs 'bout de place sich as totin' in de eggs. I laked dat job 'cause when I'd git a goodly number de cook alwa's would give me fried potatoes an' bacon an' good things lak dat to eat. My young Marse nick named me "Squash" cause I was alwa's trying to git some 'em to eat. One day he say to me "Squash when yo' find a heap o' eggs jes' take part ob dem in de kitchen an' dey will give yo' some 'em to eat an' when yo' eat dat go tote in de res' an' git mo some 'em to eat." I tried dat an' got 'long wid it fer a long time 'fo' dey kotched on. Another thing I had to do when a slave was to go wid young Marse hunting an' fishin'. I toted de game an' fish fer him, dug bait an' when he went down de river I rowed de boat, I sho' did lak dese huntin' an' fishin' trips. But one day I had a bit o' bad luck. Young an' me had been fishin' mos' all day, he put some water in de bottom ob de boat to put de fishes in to keep 'em alive. It was late in de evenin' an' we was started home. I was rowin' long not studdin' 'bout nuthin' a botherin' me when fo' I knowed whut had happened a turdle he had caught had swum up deir an' bit one ob my toes off. I screamed an' hollered lak mad. It scared Marse Weathersby good an well. He tied my foot up wid his handkerchief. It happened we was near where he had some slaves a plowin'. An' he run across de fiel' an' made one ob 'em unhitch his mule an' put me on it an' took me home in a hurry fer my foot to be fixed up. I ain't got no toe deir 'till dis day. I gits to thinkin' 'bout it sometimes now an' takes a big laugh.
"Another little trouble I had when a slave was 'bout haulin' some pine. Marse's plantation was on Pearl River an' pine was hard to find. I had to haul hit five miles. We was sont to certain places to find dat good ole dead fat light'erd. I got on de wrong mans place an' was a gittin his light'erd. It made him mad an' he made ole Marse whip me.
"De war come to free us things went every which way, from bad to worse. Us darkies was tole we'd git property an' some talk o' equality wid de white folks. Dat didn't strike us so much as us darkies jes' wants to be darkies amongst our selves. During de war some ob de owners hired out deir slaves. My Marse hired out some o' his 'en. When de war ended pa an' ma was a wukin' at Kato Mississippi an' I had done been inherited to one o' Marse's girls dat had got married and moved away.
"I married when I was bout nineteen an' raised three chillun an' den my wife died. I married again after a few years Ise a living wid my second wife now. I give my chillun a fair education. Dey is all a living on farms.
"I use to vote years ago for de presidents but quit as some folks didnt lak it.
"Ise glad to see my race advancing an' having a chance.
I thinks dey is a doing purty well in sich a sho't time. I'se had a very good life after all an' is satisfied."
Transcribed by Linda Durr Rudd
The Federal Writer’s Project of
The Works Progress Administration
For the State of Mississippi