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Mandy Gibson

From: Kentucky

(Nelle Shumate)

Mandy Gibson:

There were auction-blocks near the court houses where the slaves were
sold to the highest bidders. A slave would be placed on a platform and
his merits as a speciman of human power and ability to work was
enomerated the bidding began. Young slave girls brought high prices
because the more slave children that were born on one's plantation the
richer he would be in the future. Some slaves were kept just for this
purpose, the same as prize thorough-bred stock is kept. In many
instances slaves were treated like brutes and their places to sleep were
like barn sheds with only a little straw, on which to sleep. Mrs.
Neikirk's mother said that she distinctly remembered that the slaves she
knew of had only the roughest of food such as: corn bread molasses, and
scraps from their owner's table. Their clothing was such as their owners
saw fit to give them and the cheapest.

An old negro woman, Aunt Mandy Gibson by name, died last month, Sep. in
Middlesboro and I have heard her tell about coming here from Alabama
when the town of Middlesboro was first founded. When asked about her old
home people she would go to great lengths to explain about her people
having been slaves, but she would always add that they did not mind
slavery as they at that time knew nothing of the outdoor life and
therefore desired nothing better. She also said that the family that
owned her was a kind nature and was good to slaves.

Some of the citizens of Middlesboro today can recall stories that their
parents told them about the days when slaves were bought and sold in the
United States. Among these is one Mrs. Martha Neikirk, a daughter of an
old Union soldier now deceased. Mrs. Rhuben Gilbert, Mrs. Neikirk's
mother said that: "Once my mother and I were out in the woods picking
huckle-berries and heard a noise as of someone moaning in pain. We kept
going toward the sound and finally came to a little brook. Near the
water was a negro woman with her head bent over to the ground and
weeping as if her heart was broken. Upon asking her what had caused her
agony she finally managed to control her emotions enough to sob out her
story. The negro woman said then that her master had just sold her to a
man that was to take her far away from her present owner and incidently
her children. She said this couldn't be helped but she could ask the
good Lord to let her die and get out of the misery she was in.

It seems that such incidents were common in those days. Mrs. Sarah
Sloan, now residing in Middlesboro tells the stories her mother has told
her and she remembers one story in particular about old Aunt Suzy, an
old negro slave who, after the close of the Civil War lived near Mrs.
Sloan's mother. Aunt Suzy was the property of the Southern plantation
owner and had lived on this plantation until she had raised a large
family. One day a northern buyer came there and said he wanted to buy
some slaves as cheap as possible so, aunt Suzy was getting old and not
able to work as she once had, her owner naturally thought that while he
had the chance he should sell her but he wanted to keep her children as
they were young and able to do hard work. So poor old Aunt Suzy was sold
along with some others and taken North. Here she was bought by another
trader and sold to a new master. It seems this new master was kind to
her and felt sympathy for her in her distress. She told him how she had
lived on the old plantation so long and how she had never thought that
when she became old and lonely that she would forever be separated from
her children so the new [TR: owner?] said he would see what he could do,
if anything. He made a trip to her former home and had a talk with the
owner of the plantation. The plantation owner said that he had a bad
crop year and heavy losses and much as he needed all the help possible
to put in more crops he could not afford to buy more slaves, much less
one that was unable to work. At this, Aunt Suzy's new owner being a
generous, kind-hearted man, decided to give the old lady back to him. He
knew he could not get much money for her if he did sell her, for no one
wanted an old slave that was unable to work. Aunt Suzy after all her
traveling got to return to her old plantation and when the slaves were
freed she lived with one of her children until her death.

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