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Charley Watson

From: South Carolina

=Project #1655=
=W.W. Dixon=
=Winnsboro, S.C.=



"Dis is a mighty hot day I tells you, and after climbing them steps I
just got to fan myself befo' I give answer to your questions. You got
any 'bacco I could chaw and a place to spit? Dis old darkie maybe answer
more better if he be allowed to be placed lak dat at de beginnin' of de

"Where was I born? Why right dere on de Hog Fork Place, thought
everybody knowed dat! It was de home place of my old Marster Daniel
Hall, one of de Rockefellers of his day and generation, I tells you, he
sho was. My pappy had big name, my marster call him Denmore, my mammy
went by de name of Mariyer. She was bought out of a drove from Virginny
long befo' de war. They both b'long to old marster and bless God live on
de same place in a little log house. Let's see; my brother Bill is one,
he livin' at de stone quarry at Salisbury, North Carolina. My sister
Lugenie marry a Boulware nigger and they tells me dat woman done take
dat nigger and make sumpin' out of him. They owns their own automobile
and livin' in Cleveland, Ohio.

"Us live in quarters, two string of houses a quarter mile long and just
de width of a wagon road betwixt them. How many slaves marster had? Dere
was four hundred in 1850, dat was de year I was born, so allowing for de
natural 'crease, 'spect dere was good many more when freedom come. Our
beds was made of poles and hay or straw. Was my marster rich? How come
he wasn't? Didn't he have a Florida plantation and a Georgia plantation?
Didn't us niggers work hard for our vittles and clothes? It make me
laugh de way de niggers talk 'bout eight hours a day. Us worked by de
'can and de can't system'. What way dat you ask me? Well, was dis way;
in de mornin' when it git so you can see, you got to go to work and at
night when it git so dark you can't see you ceasted to work. You see
what I mean? My marster's white overseer 'dopted de 'can and can't
system' of work hours. My mammy had to plow same as a man, she did sir.
Sometimes they pulled fodder and fooled wid it on Sunday.

"You is a pushin' me a little too fast. Let me gum dis 'bacco and spit
and I can do and say more 'zackly what you expect from me. My marster
had sheep, goats, mules, horses, stallion, jackass, cows and hogs, and
then he had a gin, tan yard, spinnin' rooms, weave room, blacksmith shop
and shoe shop. Dere was wild turkeys on de place, deer in de cane brakes
and shad in de Catawba River. De Indians fetch their pots and jars to
sell, and peddlers come to big house wid their humps on their backs and
bright yards of calico and sich things de missus lak to feel and s'lect
from. I see money then, but I never see a nigger wid money in his paws
in slavery time, never!

"Us was fed good on corn meal, hog meat, milk, butter, 'lasses, turnips,
beans, peas and apples, never hungry. Boss whip me once for fightin' and I
never fought anymore, I tells you.

"My mistress name Miss Sarah. Her was a Hicklin befo' she marry. Their
chillun was: Tom, Billie, Dan and Jason, all dead 'cept Marster Jason.
De white overseer was Strother Ford. He give de slaves down the country
maybe sometimes, so heard them say, but I didn't see him.

"Did us sing? Yes sir. What us sing? One was what I's gwine hist right
dis minute and sing wid your lieve. (Here Charley sang, 'Give me dat old
time religion'.)

"Us made 'simmon beer sometime and lye soap just 'bout in de same way,
hopper was 'rected for dat. 'Simmons was put wid locust; hickory ashes
was used to make soap. Every Christmas us got ginger cake and sassafras

"Doctor Scott was de doctor for de slaves. Us niggers was mighty sad
when his son Willie's gun went off by accident and kill him in 1868. De
Doctor never smile again after dat cumbustion of dat gun. Does you
'member de time Mr. Till Dixon was drowned? He your uncle? 'Twas de
fourth of July, I 'member dat day, and a boy Freddie Habbernick was
drowned in Catawba in 1903. Dat river take a many soul over dat other
shore, I tells you."

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