From: South Carolina
=Spartanburg Dist. 4=
=June 15, 1937=
=STORIES FROM EX-SLAVES=
"I am daughter of Billy Robertson and Louisa Robertson; was born about
77 years ago in Newberry, on Marse Job Johnstone's place. My father
lived with Judge Job Johnstone as his extra man or servant. He lived in
the house with him, slept in his room and waited on him when he became
old; and, too, was the driver of his carriage. He drove him to other
courthouses to hold court. After the war, my father was janitor at
Newberry College, and he was liked by professors, students, and
everybody who knew him as 'Uncle Billy'. At commencement, he always made
a speech at night on the campus, which the students enjoyed. He told
about his travels from Virginia to Newberry before the war. Judge
Johnstone never wanted anybody else to be with him when he traveled.
"I belonged to the Avelleigh Presbyterian Church in Newberry, and was
christened in the church by the preacher, the Rev. Buist. Colored people
were allowed to be members and set in the gallery when they went to
"After the war, a colored man named Amos Baxter was killed by the Ku
Klux at the old courthouse. My father was on Judge Johnstone's farm a
few miles away. He was sent for and came with another colored man to
town, and prayed and preached over the body of Baxter. The Ku Klux came
to kill my father for doing this, but they never caught him.
"I had to stay home most of the time and help mama keep house. I never
worked in the field but once, and the job was so poor they put me back
in the house. That was the old Nance place.
"Once I saw a man hung in Newberry. He was a negro named Thompson and
killed a white man named Reid. He killed him at a store in Pomaria and
burned it over his body. He was hung near the railroad, and a big crowd
was there to see it. That was my first time to see a man hung, and I
promised God it would be my last. They asked the negro if he had
anything to say, and give him five minutes to talk. He was setting on a
box smoking; then he got up and said he reckoned his time was over, he
was sorry for all the bad things he had done; that he had killed a boy
once for 25 cents, and had killed a little girl for 20 cents. He was
sorry for his wife and three weeks old baby. His wife saw him hung.
"The Ku Klux wanted to kill any white people who was Republicans. They
killed some negroes. A white man named Murtishaw killed Lee Nance, a
store keeper. I was a little girl and saw it. Some little children was
standing out in front. Murtishaw came up and said he wanted to buy
something or pretended he wanted to; then he went up to Nance, pulled
his pistol quick and shot him through the throat and head.
"Judge Johnstone's kitchen was away from the house, a brick building.
They had large ovens and wide fireplaces in which they cooked.
"My father's favorite horses, when he drove the family, was 'Knox' and
'Calvin', which they kept for many years. When they died the mistress
cried awfully about it.
"My husband died at old Mr. Dan Ward's place, on College Hill, where he
was living then."
Source: Jane Wilson (77), Newberry, S.C.
Interviewer: G.L. Summer, Newberry, S.C. (6/9/37)
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