From: North Carolina
N.C. District: No. 2
Worker: T. Pat Matthews
No. Words: 1,017
Subject: DILLY YELLADAY [TR: or YELLADY?]
Story teller: Dilly Yelladay
Editor: Geo. L. Andrews
[TR: Date stamp: JUL 24 1937]
DILLY YELLADY [TR: or YELLADAY?]
909 Mark Street
"Yes sir, I 'members 'bout what my mammy tole me 'bout Abraham Lincoln,
Grant, an' a lot of dem Yankees comin' down ere 'fore de surrender.
Frum what dey tole me Sherman knowed de south like a book 'fore he come
thro' last time. Dat he did. Yankees come thro' dressed like tramps an'
dey wus always lookin' fur some of dere people. Dat wus dere scuse. Dey
wus at big shindigs de southern white folks had 'fore de war.
"Mammy an' dad dey said de niggers would git in de slave quarters at
night an' pray fer freedom an' laf 'bout what de Yankees wus doin'
'bout Lincoln an' Grant foolin' deir marsters so.
"Ole Jeff Davis said he wus goin' to fight de Yankees till hell wus so
full of 'em dat dere legs wus hangin' over de sides, but when dey got
'im in a close place he dres in 'omans clothes an' tried to git away
frum 'em but dey seed his boots when he started to git in dat thing dey
rode in den, a carriage. Yes dats what it wus a carriage. Dey seed his
boots an' knowed who it wus. Dey jus laffed an' pointed at 'im an' said
you hol' on dere we got you, we knows who you is an' den dey took 'im.
He wus mighty brave till dey got 'im in a close place den he quit
barkin' so loud. Mammy an' dad dey said dere wus a lot of de white
folks didn't keer much 'bout Jeff Davis. Dey said he wus jus de
bragginest man in de worl', always a-blowin'. Dat bird flew mighty high
but he had to come back to de groun' an' course when he lit de Yankees
wus waitin' for 'im an' ketched 'im.
"I wus born May 2nd, two years after de surrender. I is 70 years old.
My mammy belonged to Autsy Pool. When he died she fell to his son Billy
Pool. There wus six of the chillun, an' they wus given out to the Pool
chillun. Dey went like lan' does now; dey went to de heirs. Ole man
Autsy loved likker so good he would steal it from hisself. He'd take a
drink an' den blow his breath an' keep wife from smellin' it."
[HW margin: (following paragraph) to p. 7]
"My uncle, Parker Pool, tole me de Yankees made a slave of him. His
Marster wus so good to him he wus as happy as he could be 'fore de
"I wus born on the Harper Whitaker place near Swift Creek. Simon
Yellady wus my father. He wus born in Mississippi an' he belonged to
"My father an' his brothers run away an' went to de Yankees. I heard
daddy tell 'bout it. He got sick an' dey shipped him back home to North
Carolina. Dey shifted niggers from place to place to keep de Yankees
frum takin' 'em. When dere got to be too many Yankees in a place de
slaves wus sent out to keep' em from bein' set free.
"Mother said onct when she wus carrying the cows to de pasture dey
looked down de railroad an' everything wus blue. A nigger girl by the
name of Susan wus with her. My mother wus named Rilla Pool. Dey said
dey jus fell down an' de Yankees commenced sayin' 'Hello Dinah,' 'Hello
Susie.' Mother an' Susan run. Dey just went flyin'. When dey crossed a
creek my mother lost her shoe in de mud, but she just kept runnin'.
When she got home she tole her missus de Yankees were ridin' up de
railroad just as thick as flies. Den my great-grandmother said, 'Well I
has been prayin' long enough for 'em now dey is here.' My
great-grandmother wus named Nancy Pool an' she wus not afraid of
nothin'. I wus a little teency thing when she died.
"My mother tole we all about dem times dey rode de horses up to de
smoke house an' got de meat. De Yankees went to de clothes line an' got
de clothes an' filled de legs an' arms wid corn an' slung it over dere
saddles an' rode away. Yes, de Yankees freed us but dey lef' nuthin'
for us to live on. Dey give us freedom but dey took mos' everything an'
lef' us nuthin' to eat, nuthin' to live on.
"We lived in Wake County all de time. I did not git only to the third
grade in school. Sister Mary Eliza got to de second grade. Father could
write a little, mother couldn't. Couldn't go to school 'cept when it
wus too wet to work. Work, work, work, thirty acres in cotton an' cawn,
cawn plowed till de 15th of August, plow, plow, plow hard ground, bad
ground. Nine girls an' one boy workin' from sun to sun. My mother had
twenty-three chillun. She wus just as smart as she could be, worked in
de field till just awhile before she died. She been dead 'bout twenty
years. My father been dead 'bout ten years. He died right here in
Raleigh with me, at 121 corner Mark an' Bledsoe Street.
"I've had a hard time workin' all my life. I ain't able to work now but
I does all I can. I have places to work a little every day for my white
folks. I am gwine to work long as I kin. My mother an' father said dey
had good marsters an' dey were crazy 'bout 'em. Sometimes dey sold
slaves an' den de patterollers whupped 'em now an' den, but dey had
nuthin' to say against dere white folks.
"Well, I los' my home. I have worked mos' uv my life since I come to
Raleigh, buyin' a home, but I got ole an' couldn't keep up de payments
an' dey come down ere an' took my home. 'Twas the wurst thing dats come
to me in my whole life. Less you tried it yo' can't 'magine how bad it
makes you feel to have to give up yer home."
Next: Hilliard Yellerday
Previous: Anna Wright