County: Simpson and Lawrence
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.
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From the WPA Slave Narratives:
Isom Weathersby, Born 1847
Isom Weathersby, ex-slave, lives about 2 miles north of D'Lo Mississippi, on a farm. He was born about 1847, was owned during slavery by John Newson, at Old Hebron Miss. He is about five feet four inches in height and weighs about 140 lbs. His general coloring is a dark dusty brown, with snowy white hair and a short mustache. He is some what bent with age yet walks with a short quick and is in very good health.
"My John Newson was my Mars during slavery time, he owned 'bout 150 uder slaves. De plantation was deir in a good farmin' section whar cotton an' corn sho' did thrive an' us slaves had plenty ter do. Hit was wuk, wuk mos' all de time.
My ma was a splendid woman, I never can get through a praisin' her. Her was one o' the good ole black mammy's yo' all hears 'bout, she was gentle & motherly an' could manage a whole pack o' dem little slave chillun wid out no trouble a tall. When she took a chile in her lap an' began to sing lullaby hit just naturally went off ter sleep. My pa and ma didn't live in one ob de slave cabins cause my ma was de head cook an' cared fer all de slave chillun and us had a bigger house close to Mars' to keep 'em in. When de slave womens went to der fields de chillun was all sont to our larger cabin to be looked after. She was de head cook fer Mars' plantation. De long tables would be looded wid de bes' cooked food yo' ever tasted. De slaves et at Mars' big house in de square kitchen in de winter and in de summer us et under de trees.
"When I was a little chap I played lak any uder chile, a climbin', a jumpin', an a runnin'. Us hunted birds nests, climb trees an' played in all de water us could fin'.
"Hit wont all play fer when de little slaves growed up a bit, dar was water ter be toted to de field wukers an wood ter be toted in de house an' dey kept fires a hummin' all about ober hit in dem deep an' long fire places.
"De cabins was of logs an' built in quarters back o' Mars' house an' when de slaves wusn't a wukin' mostly lazed 'round 'em on de ground in de shade o' de trees.
"Us went ter meetin' 'bout once a month to de white folks meetin' house, but us didn't jine in wid de services. De service was good bus us liked our own whar us could git in de spirit an' pray, sing an' shout.
I was a field wuker after I growed up 'till I was freed. I was always fed well and clos'ed well an' had comfortable livin' qua'ters. Den de fust thing us knowed de war come on a settin' everything in a whirl. Everything went to rack and ruin an' next thing to starvation set in. De fo' years o' de war sho' was hard times fer ever body conserned, our food taken from us by de Cavalry an de stock raided and turnt loose, de houses burnt, an everything ruint.
After de war our hard time had just started fer den us was turnt free an' ter make our own livin' wid out a knowin' how. Us had always been fed, clos'ed an' looked after, had never had de worries ob dat kind. We got settled on a little farm and done fairly well.
"When de war quit an' I was a young man I rid 'round to Church wid a preacher. We would go thirty miles away. It was on one o' these jants dat I met de girl I loved. I was twenty five years old. I sho did lak dat girl Rosa, but had to court her a whole year afore she'd have me.
I'se lived ter see many changes in my day an' hopes ter see changes yet fer better."
Transcribed by Linda Durr Rudd
The Federal Writer’s Project of
The Works Progress Administration
For the State of Mississippi