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Annie Price




From: Georgia

[HW: Dist. 5
Ex-Slave #84]

Whitley, Driskell
1-20-37

SLAVERY AS WITNESSED BY ANNIE PRICE
[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]


Mrs. Annie Price was born in Spaulding County, Georgia October 12, 1855.
Although only a mere child when freedom was declared she is able to
relate quite a few events in her own life as well as some of the
experiences of other slaves who lived in the same vicinity as she.

Her mother and father Abe and Caroline were owned by a young married
couple named Kennon. (When this couple were married Abe and Caroline had
been given as wedding presents by the bride's and the groom's parents).
Besides her parents there four brothers and five sisters all of whom
were younger than she with one exception. The first thing that she
remembers of her mother is that of seeing her working in the "Marster's"
kitchen.

Mr. Kennon was described as being a rather young man who was just
getting a start in life. His family consisted of his wife and about
five children. He was not a mean individual. The plantation on which he
lived was a small one, having been given to him by his father (whose
plantation adjoined) in order to give him a start. Mr. Kennon owned one
other slave besides Mrs. Price and her family while his father owned a
large number some of whom he used to lend to the younger Mr. Kennon.
Cotton and all kinds of vegetables were raised. There was also some live
stock.

As Mr. Kennon owned only a few slaves it was necessary for these few
persons to do all of the work. Says Mrs. Price: "My mother had to do
everything from cultivating cotton to cooking." The same was true of her
father and the other servant. Before the break of day each morning they
were all called to prepare for the day's work. Mrs. Price then told how
she has seen the men of her plantation and those of the adjoining one
going to the fields at this unearthly hour eating their breakfast while
sitting astride the back of a mule. After her mother had finished
cooking and cleaning the house she was sent to the field to help the
men. When it was too dark to see all field hands were permitted to
return to their cabins. This same routine was followed each day except
Sundays when they were permitted to do much as they pleased. When the
weather was too bad for field work they shelled corn and did other types
of work not requiring too much exposure. Holidays were unheard of on the
Kennon plantation. As a little slave girl the only work that Mrs. Price
ever had to do was to pick up chips and bark for her mother to cook
with. The rest of the time was spent in playing with the "Marster's"
little girls.

"The servants on our plantation always had a plenty of clothes,"
continued Mrs. Price, "while those on the plantation next to ours (Mrs.
Kennon's father) never had enough, especially in the winter." This
clothing was given when it was needed and not at any specified time as
was the case on some of the other plantations in that community. All of
these articles were made on the plantation and the materials that were
mostly used were homespun (which was also woven on the premises) woolen
goods, cotton goods and calico. It has been mentioned before that the
retinue of servants was small in number and so for this reason all of
them had a reasonable amount of those clothes that had been discarded by
the master and the mistress. After the leather had been cured it was
taken to the Tannery where crude shoes called "Twenty Grands" were made.
These shoes often caused the wearer no little amount of discomfort until
they were thoroughly broken in.

For bedding, homespun sheets were used. The quilts and blankets were
made from pieced cotton material along with garments that were unfit for
further wear. Whenever it was necessary to dye any of these articles a
type of dye made by boiling the bark from trees was used.

In the same manner that clothing was plentiful so was there always
enough food. When Mrs. Price was asked if the slaves owned by Mr. Kennon
were permitted to cultivate a garden of their own she stated that they
did'nt need to do this because of the fact that Mr. Kennon raised
everything that was necessary and they often had more than enough. Their
week-day diet usually consisted of fried meat, grits, syrup and corn
bread for breakfast; vegetables, pot liquor or milk, and corn bread for
dinner; and for supper there was milk and bread or fried meat and bread.
On Sunday they were given a kind of flour commonly known as the
"seconds" from which biscuits were made. "Sometimes", continued Mrs.
Price, "my mother brought us the left-overs from the master's table and
this was usually a meal by itself". In addition to this Mr. Kennon
allowed hunting as well as fishing and so on many days there were fish
and roast 'possum. Food on the elder Mr. Kennon plantation was just as
scarce as it was plentiful on his son's. When asked how she knew about
this Mrs. Price told how she had seen her father take meat from his
master's smoke house and hide it so that he could give it to those
slaves who invaribly slipped over at night in search of food. The elder
Mr. Kennon had enough food but he was too mean to see his slaves enjoy
themselves by having full stomachs.

All cooking on Mrs. Price's plantation was done by her mother.

All of the houses on the Kennon plantation were made of logs including
that of Mr. Kennon himself. There were only two visible differences in
the dwelling places of the slaves and that of Mr. Kennon and there were
(1) several rooms instead of the one room allowed the slaves and (2)
weatherboard was used on the inside to keep the weather out while the
slaves used mud to serve for this purpose. In these crude one-roomed
houses (called stalls) there was a bed made of some rough wood. Rope
tied from side to side served as the springs for the mattress which was
a bag filled with straw and leaves. There were also one or two boxes
which were used as chairs. The chimney was made of rocks and mud. All
cooking was done here at the fireplace. Mrs. Price says; "Even Old
Marster did'nt have a stove to cook on so you know we did'nt." The only
available light was that furnished by the fire. Only one family was
allowed to a cabin so as to prevent overcrowding. In addition to a good
shingle roof each one of these dwellings had a board floor. All floors
were of dirt on the plantation belonging to the elder Mr. Kennon.

A doctor was employed to attend to those persons who were sick. However
he never got chance to practice on the Kennon premises as there was
never any serious illness. Minor cases of sickness were usually treated
by giving the patient a dose of castor oil or several doses of some form
of home made medicine which the slaves made themselves from roots that
they gathered in the woods. In order to help keep his slaves in good
health Mr. Kennon required them to keep the cabins they occupied and
their surroundings clean at all times.

Mrs. Price said that the slaves had very few amusements and as far as
she can remember she never saw her parents indulge in any form of play
at all. She remembers, however, that on the adjoining plantation the
slaves often had frolics where they sang and danced far into the night.
These frolics were not held very often but were usually few and far
between.

As there was no church on the plantation Mr. Kennon gave them a pass on
Sundays so that they could attend one of the churches that the town
afforded. The sermons they heard were preached by a white preacher and
on rare occasions by a colored preacher. Whenever the colored pastor
preached there were several white persons present to see that [HW: no]
doctrine save that laid down by them should be preached. All of the
marrying on both plantations [TR: duplicate section removed here] was
done by a preacher.

It has been said that a little learning is a dangerous thing and this
certainly was true as far as the slaves were concerned, according to
Mrs. Price. She says: "If any of us were ever caught with a book we
would get a good whipping." Because of their great fear of such a
whipping none of them ever attempted to learn to read or to write.

As a general rule Mrs. Price and the other nembers of her family were
always treated kindly by the Kennon family. None of them were ever
whipped or mistreated in any way. Mrs. Price says that she has seen
slaves on the adjoining plantation whipped until the blood ran. She
describes the sight in the following manner. "The one to be whipped was
tied across a log or to a tree and then his shirt was dropped around his
waist and he was lashed with a cow hide whip until his back was raw."
Whippings like these were given when a slave was unruly or disobedient
or when he ran away. Before a runaway slave could be whipped he had to
be caught and the chief way of doing this was to put the blood hounds
(known to the slaves as "nigger hounds") on the fugitive's trail. Mrs.
Price once saw a man being taken to his master after he had been caught
by the dogs. She says that his skin was cut and torn in any number of
places and he looked like one big mass of blood. Her father once ran
away to escape a whipping.(this was during the Civil War), and he was
able to elude the dogs as well as his human pursuers. When asked about
the final outcome of this escape Mrs. Price replied that her father
remained in hiding until the war was over with and then he was able to
show himself without any fear.

She has also seen slaves being whipped by a group of white men when her
parents said were the "Paddie-Rollers". It was their duty to whip those
slaves who were caught away from their respective plantations without a
"pass", she was told.

According to Mrs. Price the jails were built for the "white folks". When
a slave did something wrong his master punished him.

She does'nt remember anything about the beginning of the Civil War
neither did she understand its significance until Mr. Kennon died as a
result of the wounds that he received while in action. This impressed
itself on her mind indelibly because Mr. Kennon was the first dead
person she had ever seen. The Yankee troops did'nt come near their
plantation and so they had a plenty of food to satisfy their needs all
during the war. Even after the war was over there was still a plenty of
all the necessities of life.

When Mrs. Kennon informed them that they were free to go or to stay as
they pleased, her father, who had just come out of hiding, told Mrs.
Kennon that he did not want to remain on the plantation any longer than
it was necessary to get his family together. He said that he wanted to
get out to himself so that he could see how it felt to be free. Mrs.
Price says that as young as she was she felt very happy because the
yoke of bondage was gone and she knew that she could have a privelege
like everybody else. And so she and her family moved away and her
father began farming for himself. His was prosperous until his death.
After she left the plantation of her birth she lived with her father
until she became a grown woman and then she married a Mr. Price who was
also a farmer.

Mrs. Price believes that she has lived to reach such a ripe old age
because she has always served God and because she always tried to obey
those older than she.





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