From: North Carolina
N.C. District: No. 2
Worker: Mary Hicks
No. Words: 615
Subject: A SLAVE STORY, THE WOMAN OVERSEER
Person Interviewed: Valley Perry
Editor: George L. Andrews
[TR: Date stamp: AUG 17 1937]
[HW: Story of kind mistress who stops cruelty on plantation. Use whole
THE WOMAN OVERSEER
An interview with Valley Perry, 50 years of age, of Cary, North
Carolina, Route #1.
"Course bein' no older dan I is I can't recollect 'bout de war, but
I'se heard my manny [TR: mammy] tell a little an' my gran'mammy tell a
right smart 'bout dem slavery times yo's talkin' 'bout.
"Gran'mammy Josephine, an' mammy Clarice 'longed ter a Mr. Nat Whitaker
in Wake County.
"Mr. Nat's wife wus named Mis' Lucy, an' she wus so good dat ever'body
what ever seed her 'membered her. Dar is eben de belief among de
niggers dat she riz up ter heaben alive, like Elijah.
"Dey said dat Mr. Nat's oberseer wus kinder mean ter de slaves, an'
when he whupped dem dey 'membered hit ter de longest day dey lived. Mr.
Nat wusen't near so bad an' Mis' Lucy wus a angel. She'd beg Mr. Nat
ter make de oberseer stop, but Mr. Nat 'fused, 'case he said dat de
niggers won't obey him iffen he teaches dem he won't let de oberseer
punish dem good an' plenty. Den Mis' Lucy 'ud cry an' she'd run an'
grab de oberseer's arm an' beg him ter stop. She'd cry so hard dat he'd
"Finally de oberseer goes ter Mr. Nat an' complains, an' he sez dat he
am gwine ter quit de job iffen Mr. Nat doan make Mis' Lucy keep outen
"Mr. Nat axes him ter tell him 'fore he starts ter beat 'em, an' ter
set a time fer de beatin' an' dat he will git Mis' Lucy offen de place.
Well, de oberseer does what Mr. Nat sez an' waits ter whup eber'body on
Chuesday an' on Chuesday Mr. Nat takes Mis' Lucy ter town.
"Mis' Lucy am tickled pink dat she am a-goin' shoppin' an' she ain't
suspicion nothin' at all. When she gits ter shoppin' do' she ain't
satisfied, an' terreckly she tells Mr. Nat dat she wants ter go home.
Mr. Nat tries to git her ter go ter a concert but Mis' Lucy sez no, dat
she feels lak somethin' am happenin' at home.
"Mr. Nat begs her ter stay on an' enjoy herself, but when she won't
listen ter no reason at all he starts home. De mules creep an' poke,
but Mis' Lucy herself whups 'em up, an' dey gits home sooner dan dey am
"When dey drives up in de yard de oberseer am so busy whuppin' de
niggers what has done bad dat he ain't seed Mis' Lucy till she am right
on him, den she snatch de heavy bullwhup an' she strikes him two or
three times right in de face.
"Mis' Lucy look delicate, but she cuts de blood outen his cheek an'
she shets up one of his eyes an' brings de blood a-pourin' from his
nose. Den de meek little 'oman draws back de whup ag'in an' she 'lows,
'Git offen dis plantation, an' iffen ever I ketches you here ag'n I'll
shoot you, you beast.'
"Dat settled de oberseer's hash an' atter he left Mis' Lucy went ter
doctorin' cut up backs. Gran'mammy said dat dar wusn't no more trouble
wid de niggers an' Mis' Lucy done all of de punishin' herself.
"She made de meanest ones l'arn a whole passel of scripture, she punish
de chillun by makin' dem memorize poems an' sich. Sometimes she sont
'em ter bed widout supper, sometimes she make 'em work at night,
sometimes she prayed fer 'em, an' once in a coon's age she whupped. Dey
said dat she could really hurt when she meant to, but she whupped as de
las' thing ter do an' she whupped wid a keen little switch 'stead of de
"Once atter she had whupped a little nigger she said, 'Clarice, dis
hurt me wusser dan hit did yo'.'
"Clarice look at Mis' Lucy den she sez, 'Iffen hit hurt yo' wusser dan
hit did me I'se powerful sorry fer you.' Dat little gal wus my mammy.
"My gran'father wus named Jake, an' he 'longed ter a family by de name
of Middleton some whar in de neighborhood. Marse Nat ain't had no use
fer Mr. Middleton 'case he tried ter act up, an' he wus a New York
Yankee ter boot, what thought that he owned de heabens an' de yearth.
When gran'father Jake fell in love wid gran'mammy nobody ain't knowed
hit, 'case dere marsters am mad at each other an' dey knows dat dere
won't be no marryin' twixt de families.
"Time goes on an' gran'father runs away an' comes ter see gran'mammy,
but one night Mr. Middleton follers gran'father an' fin's him in
"Mr. Middleton doan wait ter say nothin' ter nobody, when he peeps in
at de winder an' sees dem a-settin' at de table eatin' musk melons what
gran'pappy had stole outen his patch. He jist comes in a-rarin' an'
a-tarin' an' starts a-whuppin' wid his ridin' quirt. He whups
gran'father fer a while, den he pitches in on gran'mammy.
"While all dis am a-goin' on somebody runs fer Marster Nat an' when he
gits dar dere am trouble in de shack. Marse Nat ain't so heaby as Mr.
Middleton, but man, he puts de beatin' on Mr. Middleton, den he makes
him sell Jake ter him an' he pays him spot cash right den an' dar.
"De nex' day he thinks ter ax gran'mammy what Jake am a-doin' in her
cabin, an' gran'mammy tells him dat she loves Jake an' dat she wants
ter marry him. Marse Nat laugh fit ter kill an' he sez dat dey'll have
a big weddin' at de house fer dem.
"Dey did habe a big weddin' an' gran'mammy wore a red dress dat Mis'
Lucy give her. She said dat she wish dat gran'father could of wore red
"She said dat when mammy wus borned dat ole Doctor Freeman 'tended her
an' dat she stayed in de bed two weeks. Mis' Lucy wus good ter de
niggers lak dat.
"I 'members gran'mammy tellin' 'bout de Yankees comin' an' how she
stood front of Mis' Lucy's door wid de ax an' tol' 'em dat she'd chop
out anybody's brains what tried ter go in. De door wus open an' dey
could see Mis' Lucy a-settin' dere white as a sheet, so dey went on
sarchin' fer valuables, an' all de time dem valuables wus in Mis'
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