African American Studies - Short Paper



A Folk History of Slavery in the United States

From Interviews ivith Former Slaves


1936-1938 ASSEMBLED BY



Illustrated with Photographs






Prepared by

the Federal Writers1 Project of

the Works Progress Administration

for the State of Georgia

Kendricks, Jennie Kilpatrick, Emmaline Kimbrough, Frances King, Charlie Kinney, Nicey

Larken, Julia Lewis, George

McCommons, Mirriam McCree, Ed McCullough, Lucy McDaniel, Amanda McGruder, Tom Mclntosh, Susan McEinney, Matilda McWhorter, William Malone, Mollie Mason, Charlie Matthews, Susan Mays, Emily Mention, Liza Miller, Harriet Mitchell, Mollie Mobley, Bob

Nix, Fanny Nix, Henry

1 Ogletree, Lewis 8 Orford, Richard

14 16 Parkes, Anna 21 Pattillio, G. W.

Pope, Alec 34 Price, Annie 47 Pye, Charlie

Raines, Charlotte 51 Randolph, Fanny- 56 Richards, Shade 66 Roberts, Dora 71 Rogers, Ferebe 76 Rogers, Henry 78 Rush, Julia 88 91 Settles, Nancy

104 Sheets, fill 108 Shepherd, Robert 115 Singleton, Tom 118 Smith, Charles 121 Smith, Georgia 126 Smith, Mary 133 Smith, Melvin 136 Smith, Nancy

Smith, Nellie Smith, Paul

139 Stepney, Smeline 143 Styles, Amanda

146 149

153 165 171 178 185

189 194 200 206 209 217 229

232 236 245 264 274 278 285 288 295 304 320 339 343

' Whitley, 100223 L ^ r - AjSriskell l-22-*36 /^ , Page 1.





Jennie Kendricks, the oldest of 7 children, was born in Sheram,

Georgia in 1855* Ser parents were Martha and Henry Bell. She says that the

first thing she remembers is that1of being whipped by her mother.

Jennie Kendricks1 grandmother and her ten children lived on this

same plantation* The grandmother had been brought to Georgia from Virginia;

"She used to tell me how the slave dealers brought her and a group of other

children along much the same as they would a herd of cattlef w *y5aid the jibe- ^

I foavefL» when tiiey reached a town all of them had to dance through the streets

\ and act lively so that the chances for selling them would be greater*•

-——- When asked to tell about Mr. Moore, her owner, and his family

Jennie Kendricks stated that although her master owned and operated a large

plantation, he was not considered a wealthy man. He owned only two other

slaves besides her immediate family and these were men*

In Mr. Moores family were his mother, his wife, and six children

(four boys and two girls) ♦ This family lived very comfortably in a two

storied weatherboard house. With the exception of our grandmother who

cooked for the owner1 s family and slaves, and assisted her mistress with

housework all the slaves worked in the fields where they cultivated cotton

and the corn, as well as the other produce grown there* Every morning at

sunrise they had to get up and go to the fields where they worked until it

was too dark to see. At noon each day they were permitted to come to the

kitchen, located just a short distance in the rear of the master1 s house,

where they were served dinner. During the course of the dayfs work the

women shared all the men's work except plowing. All of them picked cotton

when it was time to gather the crops. Seme nights they were required to

. Briskell Whitley, Bage £• * 2 1-22-37

spin and to help Mrs* Moore, who did all of the weaving* They used to

do their own personal workf at night also* Jennie Kendricks says, 11 she

remembers hew her mother and the older girls would go to the spring at

night where they washed their clothes and then left them to dry on the

surrounding bushes*

As a little girl Jennie Kendricks spent all of her time in

the master*s house where she played with the young white children* Some-

times she and Mrs* Moorefs youngest child, a little boy, would fight be-

cause it appeared to one that the other was receiving more attention from

Mrs* Moore than the other* As she grew older she was kept in the house

as a playmate to the Moore children so she never had to work in the field

a single day.

She stated that they all vpre good clothing and that all of

it was made on the plantation with one exception. The servants spun the

thread and Mrs. Idoore and her daughters did all of the weaving as well as

the making of the dresses that were worn on this particular plantation*

"The ftay they made this cloth,ff She continued", was to wind a certain a

amount of thread known as a "cut" onto a reel* $hen a certain number

of cuts were reached they were placed on the loom. This cloth was colored

with a dye made from the bark of trees or with a dye that was made from

the indigo berry cultivated on the plantation* The drewses that the

women were on working days were made of striped or checked materials while

these worn on Sunday were usually white*"

She does not know what the men were on work days as she never

came in contact with them* Stockings for all were knitted on the place*

The shoes, which were the one exception mentioned above, were made by one

Bill Jacobs, an elderly white man who made the shoes for all the plantations

Briskell Whitley, Page 3. 1-22-37

in the community. The grown people wtoe heavy shoes called "Brogans*1 while

those worn by the children were not so heavy and were called wPekerstf be-

cause of their narrow sppe»rance. For Sunday wear, all had shoes bought

for this purpose* Mr. Moorefs mother was a tailoress and at times, when

the men were able to get the necessary material, she made their suits#

There was always enough feed for everybody on the Moore plan-

tation. Mrs. Moore once told Jennie*s mother to always see that her

children had sufficient to eat so that they woujjL^not have to steal and

would therefore grow up to be honorable* As the Grandmother did all of

the cooking, none of the other servants ever had to cook, not even on

Sundays or other holidays such as the Fourth of July. There was no stove

in this plantation kitchen, all the cooking was done at the large fireplace

where there were a number of hooks called potracks. The pets, in'which

the cooking was done, hung from these hooks directly over the fire.

The meals served during the week consisted of vegetables,

salt bacon, corn bread, pot liquor, and milk. On Sunday they were served

milk, biscuits, vegetables, and sometimes chicken. Jennie Kendricks ate

all of her meals in the master1 s house and says that her food was even

better. She was also permitted to go to the kitchen to get food at any

i tjjc^4*»iiLg^the day*_, Jiametimes when the boys went hunting everyone was

Y I ^iven roast fpossum and other small game. The two male slaves were often l\

permitted to accompany them but were not allowed to handle the guns. None

of the slaves had individual gardens of their own as food sufficient for

their needs was raised in the masterfs garden.

The houses that they lived in were one-roomed structures made 7

of heavy plank instead of logs, with planer 'floors. At one end of this

one-rocmed cabin there was a large chimney and fireplace made of rocks, mud,

Whitley, Briskell 1-22-37 Pa§e 4*

and dirt* In addition to the one door, there was a window at the back. Only

one family could live in a cabin as the space was so limited* The furnishings

of each cabin consistpof a bed and one or two chairs* The beds were well

constructed, a great deal better than same of the beds the ex-slave saw during

these days. Regarding mattresses she said, "We took seme tick and stuffed it

with dotton and corn husks, which had been tern into small pieces and when we

get through sewing it looked like a mattress that was bought in a store."

Light was furnished by lightwood torches and sometimes by the

homemade tallow candles• The hot tallow was poured into a candle mold, which

was then dipped into a pan of cold water, when the tallow had hardened, the

finished product was removed.

Vilhenever there was sickness, a doctor was always called* As a

child Gussie was rather sickly, and a doctor was always called to attend to

her. In addition to the doctor's prescriptions there was heart leaf tea and

a warm remedy of garlic tea prepared by her grandmother *

If any of the slaves ever pretended sickness to avoid work, she

she knows nothing about it«

As a general rule, slaves were not permitted to learn to read

or write,, but the younger Moore children tried to teach her to spell, read,

and r,vrite. Whsn she used to stand around Mrs. Moore when she was sewing

\she appeared to be interested and so she was taught to sew.

*""" Every Sunday afternoon they were all permitted to go to town

where a colored pastor preached to them. This same minister performed all

marriages after the candidates had secured the permission of the master.

Ther^was only one time when Mr# &oore found it necessary to sell

any of his slaves^ On this occasion he had to sell two* he saw that they were

sold to another kind master• ^

The whipping on most plantation were atoinisterd byfche seers and


1-22-37 $hitley, Page 5, 5

in some cases punishment was rather severe* There was no overseer on this

plantation. Only one of Mr* Moorefs sons told the field hands what to do*;

When this son went to war it "became necessary to hire an overseer* Once he

attempted to whip one of the women but when she refused to allow him to ^hip

her he never tried to whip any of the others. Jennie Kendricks1 husband,

who was also a slave, once told her his master was so mean that he often

whipped his slaves until bfcood ran in their shoes.

There was a group of men, knomi as the Matter-Rollers*, whose

duty it was to see that slaves were not allowed to leave their individual

plantations without passes whi£h were supposed to receive from their masters*

f,A heap of them got whippings for being caught off without these passes**/''

She stated adding that sometimes a few of them were fortunate enough to es-

cape from the Patter-Rollers*1. J She knew of one boy who, after having out-

run the ?,Patter~Rollersff, proceeded to make fun of them after he was safe

behind his master1s fence. Another man wh^om the Patter-Rollers had pur-

sued any number of times but vjho had always managed to escape, was finally

caught one day and told to pray before he was given his whipping. As he

obeyed he noticed that he was not being closely observed.whereupon he made

a break that resulted in his escape from them again*

The treatment on seme of the other plantations was so severe that

slaves often ran away, Jennie Kendricks told of one man fee lag lashed^ r;ji away

but was finally caught. VJhen his master brought him back he was locked in a

room until he could be punished. itfhen the master finally came to administer

\ the whipping, Lash had cut his own threat in a last effort to eecure fclis tfcace \ \freedom. He was not successful; his life was saved by quick action on the

part of his master• Sometime later after rough handling ^ash finally killed

his master/>£ was burned at the stake for this crime*

Page 6* 1/fhitley, Driskeil 1-22-37

Other slaves were more successful at escape, seme being able to

remain a^ay for as long as three years at a time* At nights, they slipped

to the plantation where they stole hogs and other food* Their shelters were

usually caves, some times holes dug in the ground* YJhenever they were caught,

they were severely whipped.

A slave might secure his freedom without running away* This is

true in the case of Jennie Kendricks* grandfather who, after hiring his time

out for a number of years, was able to save enough money with which to pur-

chase himself from his master.

Jennie Kendricks remembers very little of the talk between her

master and mistress concerning the war* She does remember being takan to

see the Confederate soldiers drill a short distance from the house* She says

WI though it was very pretty, fcourse I didfnt know what was causing ,this or sing ;twu

what the results would ben* Mr. Moore1 s oldest sons went to war himself did

not enlist until the war was nearly over* She was told that the Yankee sol-

diers burned all the gin houses and took all live stock that they saw while on ;

the march, but no soldiers passed near their plantation*

After the war ended and all the slaves had been set free, some -^■

jjjbtf did not know it <RJM* they were not told by their masters* Jaw^were ~

tricked into signing contracts which bound them to their masters for several

years longer*

As for herself and :er grandmother > they remained on the Moore

property where her grandmother finally died. Her mother moved away when

freedom was declared and started working for someone else. It was about this

time that Mr. Moore began to prosper, he and his brother Marvin gone into bus-

iness together* 9,

According to Jennie Kendricks, she has lived to reach such a ripe

old age because she has always been obedient and because she has alwasy been

Page 7. Ihitley, ,. Dri skell 1-E2-37

a firm believer in God.



S* ^





Age 74

White Plains, Greene Co,, Ga.



100068' ■ ■ '-• -I

Bora a slaver on the pIan tati on of ■ Judge William Watson Moore,

White -Plains*(Greene County.)Georgia*

Gfeia morning in October, as I finished planting hyacinth bulbs

on my cemetery lot, I saw an old negro woman approaching. She was

Emmaline Kilpatrick,born in 1863, on my grandfather* s plantation*

*lEawnint Kiss Sarah,* she began, *Ah seed yer out hyar in de

graveyard, en I cum right erlong far ter git y^r ter read yof

Aunt Willie's birthday, of fen her toomstone, en put it in writin*

fer me*1*

•I donft mind doing that for you, Smmaline,*" I replied, '•but

why do you want to know my aunt's birthday?*

"Well,* answered the old ex-slave, *I cani11 rightly tell mah

age no udder way* My mazmaar, she tole me, I muz bamned de same

night es FJLss Millie iftiz, en mammy allus tole me effen I ever want

tar knew hew ole I is, jes* ask my white folks how ole Miss Willie is./*

When I had pencilled the birthdate on a scrap of paper torn from

my note book and she had tucked it carefully away in a pocket in her

clean blue checked gingham apron, Smmaline began to talk of the old

days on my grandfather's farm*

*Kiss Sarah, Ah sho did-love yo1 aunt Willie* We wuz chilluns

^growin* up tergedder on Marse 3illiefs place* You mought not knm

it, but black chilluns gits grown heap faster den while chilluns,

en whilst us played f round de yard, en orchards, en pastures out dar,

1 I wuz sposed ter take care er Miss Willie en not let her git hurt, er

\ nuthin* happen ter her*

a 2.

•My matmy say dat whan Mars.a Billie cum horn* frum de War, he

call all his niggers tergeddar en tell * am day is free* en doan

bflong ter nobody no mo*, He say dat any uf fum dat want to, kin

go fway and live whar day laka, en do lak day wanter. Ho«same ebber,

he do say affen anybody Y/ants tar stay w£>id him, en live right on in

de sane cabins, day kin do it, effen day promise him tar be good

niggers an mine him lak dey allus dona*11

"Most o.ll de niggers stayed v/id Marse Billie, fae^seti two er

thee brash, good :er nu.thints.fl

Standing: there in the cemetery, as I listened to old Efcuraline

tell of the old days, I could see cotton being loaded on freight

cars at the depot* I asked Emmaline to tell what she could remem-

ber of the days whan we had no railroad to haul the cotton to market*

"'Wall,* she saidt *Fore dis hyar railroad wuz made, day hauled

de cotton ter da Pint {She meant Union Point) an sold it d&r* Ba

Pint* s jesf fbout twelve miles fum hyar, Fof day had er railroad

thu de Pint, Marse Billie used ter haul his cotton clear down ter

Joolc ter sell it* My manny say dat long fof de War he used ter

v/ait twel all de cotton vrus picked in de fall, en den he would have f

it ell loaded on his hoggins. STotlong fo* sundown he wud start de

waggins off, wid yo* unker Anderson bossin* em, on de all night long

ride towards Tools. *Bout fof in de mawnin* Harse Billie en yof

grammar, Miss Margie, fud start off in da surrey, driving da bays, en

fof dam waggins git ter Tools Marse Billie done cotch up wid em. Ha

drive er head en lead em on tar da cotton mill in Tools, whar ha sail

all his cotton. Ban him en Kiss Margie, dey go ter de mill sto* en

Page 2» 11

buy white sugar en udder things day doa.ri raise on de plantation, en

load f em on de waggins en start back hone.*

"But Smmaliria ,H I interrupted, *Sherman1 s army passed through

Jew a Is and burned the houses and destroyed the property there. How

did the people market their cotton then?"

Stnrnaline scratched her head. "Ah fmembers somapin fbout dat.*

sh^^de clarsd. "Yassum, I shof does f member my ^erimy say in1 dat

folks sad when de Fedfrals vras bunnln* up evvy thing fbout Jools*

dey vmz sat tin1 fire tar de mill, when de boss uv dem sDjers look

up en see ar sign up over er upstairs vrindov/. Hit v/uz de Masonfs

sign up day, kaze dat wuz de Ha3onfs lodge hall up over de mill. De

sojar boss, he meks de udder sojars put out. da fire* He say him er

\ Mason Ms self er: ha ainr g«vine sea nobuddy bum up er Masonic Hall.

j Day kinder teors up some uv de fixin*s er de Hill v/uks, but day

! dasssnt burn down de mill house ka^e ha ain1 t let f em do nuthin1 ter

'•■ de ?casonic Hall.* Yer knave, Hiss Ssrah, Ah v/uz jesf fbout two yes-rs

ole v:han dat happen, but I ainft hesrad nuffinf fbout no time ?;hen day

did denr taka cotton tar Joels ever year twel de railroad come hyar.11

*Did yer ax me v/ho rahfad TJ maw en paw? ^hy, Karse Billie didt

cose he did! He vruz Jedga Hoora, Farse Billie vmz, en he wone gsrina

hav no foolisfmant fmongst 'is niggers. Fof de War en durinf de War,

de niggers v/ar:t tar de same church .vhar dare v/hite folks v/ant. Oily

de niggars, dey set en de gsllary.,*

"Harse Billie rade-cll his niggers vr.ik doughty hard, but he shor

*uk ~°od kaar uv f am. Hiss Hernia allies ;:.c da * em send far har v/han

la chilluns v:uz bav/ned in de slsvs oabins. tHy mammy, she say, Ise

fbout de onliest slave baby Hiss ?rargie didenr look aftar da bswnin,

"i. di;t olant^M^ ^ken e^y nigger on dat farm «uz sick, K&rse Billie

Fagg 4« m seed dat he had medicine en lookin* atier, en ef he wuz "bad sick

Marse Billie had de white folks doctor come see fbout fim.*

"Did us hev shoes? Yas ffafain us hed shoes* Dat wuz all ole

^egleg wuz good fer, jes ter rrek shoes, en fix shoes atter dey wuz fbout ter give out* Pegleg made de svry day shoes for Iferse Billife**

own chilluns, fcept now en den Marse Billie fetched f em home soise sto*

bought shoes ftm Jools**

"Yassum, us shof wuz skeared er ghosts. Deis days when de Wajr

Y/onft long gone, niggers sho* wuz skert er graveyards* Kosf eTTy

nigger leap1 er rabbit foot, kaze ghosties wone gwine bodder nobuddy

dat hed er lef* hind foot frtm er graveyard rabbit* Dem days dar

wuz r.os* allus woods 'round de graveyards, en it uz easy ter ketch

er rabbit e;z he loped outer er graveyard. Iawsy, Kiss Sarah, dose

days Ah sho1 wouldn't er been standin* hyar in no graveyard talkin*

ter ennybody, eben in wide open daytime**

—v *3n yOV ax mi2 3Qy Qnny thing else uz wuz skert uv? YasseuPfUs

ellus did git iroughty oneasy ef er scritch orwl hollered et night*

Pappy ud hop right out er his bed en stick de fire shovel en de

coals. Sffsn he did dat rat quick, en look over fis leff shoulder

whilst de shovel gittinf hot, den maybe no nigger gwine die dat week

^on dat plantation. 3n us nebber did lak ter fine er hawse tail

hair en de hawse trough, kaze us wuz shof ter rneet er snake for long.*.

ttYassuin, us had chawms fer heap er things* Us got 'em fum er ole

Injun * osan dat lived crost de crick* Her sold us chawms ter mek de

nens lak us, en chawros dat would ^it er boy baby, er anudder kind er

ohawrr: effen yer want er gal baby. Kiss Margie allus scold rbout de

chawrcs, en mek us shamed ter wear rem, fcept she doan mine ef us wear

asserfitily channs ter keep off fevers, en she doan say nuffin when my

mammy wear er nutmeg on a wool string f round her neck ter keep off

de rheumatiz.

*!n is you got ter git on home now, Miss Sarah? Lemma tote

dat hoe en trowel ter yer car fer yer- Yer gwine ter take me home

in yer car wid yer, so ez I kin weed yer flower gyarden for night?

Yassum, I shof will be proud ter do it fer de black dress you wof

las1 year- Ah gwine ter git evvy speck er grass outer yof flowers*

kazet ainr you jesf lak yo* grainmaw - my Miss Margie-11

Pltos of birth: On Kimbrough plants*on, Harries County, near C&tatila, Georgia

Date of births About 1854.

rresent residence: 168° - 8th .venue., Coluabus, Gsorgia

Interviewedj August •?, 1956

*&unt Franc fcs" story revefels that, her young "searst*!*1 wee

lr. Jessie Ki&brough—»& Earn who disd when she w&s about eighteen

years at *&•• But a fa* weeks later, while working in the field

one day, she saw "liars* Jessie's" ghost leaning against a pins

"w&fcchin us free frig ers wtteKln."

'Shsn she was: about twenty*two years of age, *e Jealous Mg er o&an"

"trloked" her. The"»psllw cast by this "bad asao" sf fee ted ths

victlr'e left arc and aa&d. Both bectuas nu&b tmd guvs her great

"nisary*. * peculiar feature of this visitation of the Moonjurer*s" spite was: if « friend or any one massaged or even touoh*

©d the sufferer's afflicted anr; or hand, thut person w&s also

sinllfirly stricken the following day, always recovering, however, on

the second cluy.

Finally, "Auntn ?r^r.cfcs sot in touoh with a "hoodoo" dootor, a man

who lived In r.usooge© county—about t«tfenty«fl*e iiiiea distant

from her. This BUM paid the patient on© visit, then gave her

8 15

abseat treatment for several weeks, at the end of which

tiz&e she reoovered the full use of her ane end htmd.

neither ever gave her any trouble again.

For her old-time "white fokes", "Att&V Frenefcs entertain*

en ajusoat worshipful jsetsory. Also, in her old fcge, she

reflate* the superstitious type of her race.

Being so young when freedor. was declared, eieanoipation

did not nave as : uch significance for n^untw Frances" as

it did for the older colored people. In truth, she had no

true conception of what it "wuz all about" until sevoraJ

years latsr. But she does know that she had better food

and clothes before the slaves were freed than she had in the

years immediately following.

She is deeply religious, as i::o»t ex-slaves are, but—as typical

of the majority of arved i.e&roes—associates "hants" and super-

stitio; with her religion.