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Millie Simpkins




From: Tennessee

INTERVIEW
MILLIE SIMPKINS
"BLACK MAMIE"
1004 10th Avenue, No.
Nashville, Tennessee


I claims I's 109 ye'ars ole en wuz bawn neah Winchester, Tennessee.
Mah marster wuz Boyd Sims en mah missis wuz Sarah Ann Ewing Sims. Mah
mammy wus named Judy Ewing en mah daddy wuz Moses Stephens en he wus
"free bawn." He wuz de marster's stable boy en followed de races. He
run 'way en nebber kum back.

Mah fust missis wuz very rich. She had two slave 'omen ter dress her
eve'y mawnin' en I brought her breakfust ter her on a silvah waitah.
She wuz ma'ied three times, her second husband wuz Joe Carter en de
third wuz Judge Gork.

Mah fust missis sold me kaze I wuz stubborn. She sent me ter de "slave
yard" at Nashville. De yard wuz full ob slaves. I stayed dere two
weeks 'fore marster Simpson bought me. I wuz sold 'way fum mah husband
en I nebber se'd 'im 'gin. I had one chile which I tuk wid me.

De slave yard wuz on Cedar Street. A Mr. Chandler would bid de slaves
off, but 'fore dey started biddin' you had ter tek all ob yo Clothes
off en roll down de hill so dey could see dat you didn't hab no bones
broken, er sores on yer. (I wouldin' tek mine off). Ef nobody bid on
you, you wuz tuk ter de slave mart en sold. I wuz sold dere. A bunch
ob dem wuz sent ter Mississippi en dey had dere ankles fas'end
tergedder en dey had ter walk w'iles de tradahs rid.

W'en I wuz sold ter marster Simpkins, mah second mistress made me a
house slave en I wuked only at de big house en mah wuk wus ter nuss en
dress de chilluns en he'ps mah missis in her dressin'.

De young slaves wuz hired out ter nuss de white chilluns. I wuz hired
as nuss girl at seven y'ars ole en started cookin' at ten. I nebber
had a chance ter go ter schul.

I'm de mammy ob 14 chilluns, seven boys en seven gals. I wuz next ter
de olest ob four chillun. Mah missis useter hire me out ter hotels en
taverns.

Sum marsters fed dare slaves meat en sum wouldin' let dem hab a bite.
One marster we useter 'yer 'bout would grease his slaves mouth on
Sunday mawnin', en tell dem ef any body axed ef dey had meat ter say
"yes, lots ob hit".

W'en dey got ready ter whup dem dey'd put dem down on a pit widout any
clothes, stand back wid a bull whup en cut de blood out. I member de
niggers would run 'way en hide out.

De only fun de young folks had wuz w'en de ole folks had a quiltin'.
W'ile de ole folks wuz wukin' on de quilt de young ones would git in
'nuther room, dance en hab a good time. Dey'd hab a pot turned down at
de do'er ter keep de white folks fum 'yearin' dem. De white folks
didn't want us ter l'arn nothin' en ef a slave picked up a lettle
piece ob papah, dey would yell "put dat down you--you wan't ter git in
our business."

De white folks wouldin' let de slaves pray, ef dey got ter pray hit
wuz w'iles walkin' 'hind de plow. White folks would whup de slaves ef
dey 'yeard dem sing er pray.

I wuz a big girl w'en dey build de Capitol. I played on de hill 'fore
hit wuz built en I toted blocks fum dere w'en hit wuz bein' built. I
wuz livin' in Dickson County w'en Fort Donelson wuz tuk. I seed de
fust gun boat dat kum up de Cumberland River. I wuz standin' in de
Do'er w'en I se'd hit kumin', but hit didn't tek me long ter git back
in de back ob de house. I wuz skeered dey would shoot.

Mah marster run a fer'y en atter de gun boat kum up de riber, he got
skeered en gib mah ole man de fer'y, en w'en de soldiers kum ter tek
Fort Negley he set dem 'cross de river.

A man at Ashland City dat made whisk'y would hab Mr. Simpkins bring a
load ob logs up ter Ashland City en den bring a load ob whiskey down
en hide hit so de Yankees would'nt git hit.

Mah marster had a fish trap at de mouth ob Harper en w'en de gun boat
passed dey shot thro' de trap.

I wuz right 'yer w'en de Civil wah wuz gwin on, en de soldiers wuz
dressed up en beatin' de drums.

No honey we didn't git nothin' w'en we wuz freed. Jes druv 'way widout
nothin' ter do wid. We got in a waggin en druv ter nuther man's
plantashun. Mah ole man made a crap dere. Sum ob de slaves might hab
got sump'in but I dunno nobody dat did. I wuz skeered ter op'n mah
do'er atter dark on 'count ob Ku Klux Klan, dey wuz red hot.

I member w'en de sta'rs fell. I wuz small but de ole folks run out en
looked at dem, kum back set down en cried, dey tho't hit me'nt de
worl' wuz kumin' ter an end.

De peeple wuz skeered w'en dey se'd de comet wid de long tail. Dey
tho't hit wuz a sign ob wah.

I'se cooked eve'y since I wuz freed. I stayed in Henry Galbles kitchen
five long y'ars, en since I'se had dese strokes hit's broke me up
'till I kin do nothin'. I 'long ter de Methodist Church. I think de
young peeples ez turrible, en dis white en black mar'iags not be
'lowed.

De songs I member ez:

"Dark wuz de Night".
"Good Ole Daniel".

I'se nebber voted but I'se electioneered fer dem. Hab nebber had any
frens in office.

I wuz 'yer w'en Henry Clay en James K. Polk wuz runnin'. I wuz hired
at de ole City Hotel ovuh on de river. I wuz din'in room servant dere.
Mah marster would hab me sing a song fer him 'bout de Democrats.
"Hooray de kuntry ez risin'; rise up en drown ole Clay en his pizen".
I guess ole Clay wuz a right good fellow but he played cards wid de
niggers in de cellar.

De only thing I member 'bout de 'structshun time wuz sum ob de whites
didn't wan' de niggers ter vote.

I stays 'yer wid mah daughter. Dat ez de only support I hab since I
had deze strokes en bin unable ter do fer mahse'f.





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