From: South Carolina
=Prepared by Annie Ruth Davis=
=Place, Marion, S.C.=
=Date, July 22, 1937=
=Ex-Slave, 79 Years=
"I born down here in Wahee Neck. Easter Avant, dat was my mammy en my
father name Hector Smith. Coase I ain' never see him cause he die fore I
was born, but dat what dey tell me. Dat was a pretty rough time wid de
people den. I don' recollect so much bout de times back dere cause in
dat day en time chillun didn' have de heap of knowledge dey have dis day
en time, but I remembers seein de Yankees en de people gwine to de war.
Oh, dat was a tough time cause dey use de whip in dem days. Oh, yes'um,
my Massa whip my gran'mammy wid a leather strap. You see she had a knack
of gwine off for some cause or another en meetin de boat what run up en
down dat big Pee Dee river en bring fertilizer en all kind of goods to
de peoples. Massa Randall had told her not to go nowhe' bout dat boat,
but some people is sorta high strung like en dey go off anyhow no matter
bout de whip. Oh, yes'um, he sho whip her like he didn' have no soul to
"I couldn' tell you nothin bout how many slaves Massa Randall Davis had,
but I know dat he had a right smart of them. I know it cause he had so
many field hands dey didn' none of em never have to work every day in de
field. Oh, dey just knock bout our Massa house en see after de stock en
such things as dat what time dey didn' have to work in de field."
"You knows when a thing happen so long back dere, it does vanish from a
person's remembrance some of de time en den it'll wander back to you
when you ain' thinkin bout it. I does recollect dat dere wasn' nothin
much more for de colored peoples in dat day en time den what dey got to
eat en de clothes dey had to wear. My Massa give everyone of he colored
family a peck of meal en a quart of syrup en so much of meat every week
en 'low em all to have a garden of dey own. Oh, dey work dey garden by
de moonshine en fore light good in de mornin cause dey had to turn dey
hand to dey Massa work when daylight come here. I tellin you corn bread
was sweet to me in dat day en time as pound cake ever been. Wasn' never
noways pickin' en choosin bout nothin. Oh, I forget bout all dem possums
en rabbits dat eat right smart in dem days. Use to catch em when dey had
swells of de water en dey come out de woods to hunt dry land. It just
like dis, dey couldn' conceal demselves in de open fields en dat
how-come we catch em so easy. Run em down wid de dogs en make em take to
de water. Dat how we catch em. Dat sho was sweet eatin in dem days."
"Den we had a log house to stay in what never had but just one room en
de furniture we had was worser den de house. Us beds was made wid four
stumps for de corners dat had boards lay cross em to put de mattress on.
Some of de colored peoples had bag mattress stuff wid hay en de others
had homespun mattress what was stuff wid dis here gray moss you see in
de woods. En I remembers all bout when de peoples had to cook in de
fireplace cause dere wasn' much stoves in circulation in dat day en
"Well, I don' know so much bout dem things peoples call ghost, but I
know dat I has seen things. I knows once long time back I was gwine long
de road late on a evenin drivin me ox what I had hitch up to de cart en
a ghost or somethin or another cause dat cart wheel to go right in de
ditch. Well, de ox, he pull en he pull, but wid all me help, he couldn'
never pull dat cart out. I ax some of dem people bout dere what dey
reckon dat was en dey say all dey know to compare it to was a hant or a
ghost. No 'mam, didn' see it, just hear it cause it come right to my
back en knocked. It had been rainin en soon as it quit, de moon shine
out bright as ever was day en dat when de hant turn de cart loose."
"De next thing I see was one time when me en another fellow was sleepin
in de swamp. I couldn' tell whe' de moon rise den en when I come to my
senses, dere was one of dem things just a danglin in de air like dese
things show people have. Some people say dat was a ghost."
"Oh, de peoples didn' never worry bout no doctor den. Dey doctor was in
de field in dat day en time. I gwine tell you just like I know it, all
de older peoples use to get de herbs out de old fields for dey remedies.
My Massa en my Missus was de ones what doctor mostly in dem times. Use
to get old field ringdom, what smell like dis here mint, en boil dat en
let it steep. Dat what was good to sweat a fever en cold out you. Den
dere was life everlastin tea dat was good for a bad cold en cherry bark
what would make de blood so bitter no fever never couldn' stand it. Dem
what had de rheumatism had to take dat lion's tongue or what some
peoples calls wintergreen tea en some of de time, dey take pine top en
mix wid de herbs to make a complete cure. Oh, dey make it bad as dey
could so as to weaken de case. Another thing dat been good for de
rheumatism was dat red oak bark dat dey use to bathe de limbs wid.
Willow tea was somethin good for chill en fever en catnip en sage tea
was de thing for babies."
"It like I tell you de colored peoples never get no learnin but what
little dey catch from de plantation men in dem night schools. Oh, dey
give everyone of us a slate en slate pencil en we study dere in de
quarter in de night time by de light of de fire. Studied dem Blue Back
Websters. Dat was de text we know bout den."
"I tell you de truth I live so much in darkness den dat I think dat time
was bout good as dis time. Didn' know no better sense den. I tell you
just like I been know it, de peoples was coward like in dem days.
Couldn' never pluck up no ambition to do a heap of things de people do
dis day en time. Dat how-come I rather live in dis go round."
Source: Hector Smith, ex-slave, age 79, Wahee section of
Marion Co., S.C.
Personal interview, July 1937.
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