Project, 1885-(1)

Prepared by Annie Ruth Davis

Place, Marion, S.C.

Date, September 21, 1937



"I was born bout two miles bove Lake View on Zonia Rogers place. Boys

used to tell me I was born on Buck Branch. Think I was born de 12th. day

of February cause I was bout 16 years old when freedom come. Another

person born de same day en de same year en I might look on dey tombstone

en get de date."

"Miles Ford was my father en my mother, Jennie Ford, but dey didn' live

on de same place. Father belonged to Alias Ford at Lake View en mother

come from Timmonsville what used to be called Sparrow Swamp. Railroad

run through dere change name from Sparrow Swamp to Timmonsville."

"Just like I tell you, Zonia Rogers was my boss en he wasn' so bad. He

whip me a few times when I did things dat I oughtened to do. Sometimes I

was pesty en he whip me wid a switch, but he never whip so hard. I tell

de truth, Zonia Rogers was a good man. Give his slaves good pole houses

to live in up in de quarter. Never had but five slaves to start wid en

dat de reason he just had two slave house in de quarter. Sometimes dey

slept on de floor en den another time, some had homemade bedstead wid de

framework made out of black gum."

"We had meat en corn bread to eat all de time en dey gave us fried meat

en rye bread en flour bread to eat every now en den. Made rye bread in

time of de war, but didn' get much flour bread to eat. Massa would weigh

meat out on his hand. If anybody wanted meat, he hand it to dem on his

hand en say, 'Here it is.' Den some of de slaves had gardens dat dey

work at 12 o'clock en at night. Never was much to catch possums, but was

great hand to catch rabbits. Boss had dog name Trip dat he wouldn' have

taken $200.00 for. If I had him now, I wouldn' take $200.00 for him

neither cause dat dog would stay at a tree all night. See him stay dere

from early in de day till dark."

"Slaves wore one piece garment in de summer en used thick woolen garment

in de winter. When I got large, had wrapper en little breeches to wear.

Sometimes de clothes was all wool en sometimes dey was just half wool.

Yes, sir, I know all bout how de cloth was made in dat day en time.

Three treadle made dis here jeanes cloth dat was for de nigger clothes

en white people wore four treadle cloth. Had Sunday clothes in slavery

time, too, en made de shoes right dere home. Tanned de leather en made

shoes called nigger brogans dat dey used in de turpentine woods. Dese

here low quarters. I married in 1873. Just had common clothes when I was


"I remember my grandfather all right. He de one told me how to catch

otters. Told me how to set traps. Heard my grandfather tell bout whippin

slaves for stealin. Grandfather told me not to take things dat were not

mine. If a pile of corn was left at night, I was told not to bother it.

In breakin corn, sometimes people would make a pile of corn in de grass

en leave it en den come back en get it in de night. Grandfather told me

not to never bother nothin bout people's things."

"De first work dat I remember bout doin in slavery time, I hold mules

for my boss. Drove wagon for Mr. Rogers. If people wanted any haulin

done, he told me to help dem en collect for it. He never wouldn' ax any

questions bout what I collected for de haulin. Just let me have dat

money. I remember I bought cloth dat cost 12-1/2 cents a yard wid de

first money I get. Den I bought a girl 10 cents worth of candy en sent

it to her. Hear she stamped it in de ground wid her foot. Girl never

even mentioned it to me en I ain' never bothered wid her again. Dis girl

en me bout de same age."

"Don' remember much bout my first Missus only dat she had a bump on her

neck. Second Missus was good to me en just like I tell you, Zonia Rogers

was a good man. He hired white men to plow, but he never put nobody

ahead of me no time. I take dogs en slip out in de woods en hunt

rabbits. White man tell on me en my boss ain' never said nothin bout dis

to me yet. Never had no overseer en no driver whe' I stay."

"Oh, dere was bout two or three hundred acres in de Rogers place. Slaves

worked from daylight till dark in de winter time. Always be up fore day

cause my boss generally called de slaves fore day. Hear him say, 'Rob,

come, come. Aaron, come, come.' We didn' work hard though. Didn' work in

hot sun in June, July en August cause in slavery time dey allow us to

take out at 10 or 11 o'clock en go swimmin. Den we had to be back in de

field bout three o'clock. Had plenty poor white neighbors bout dere en

boss hire me to man like dat one time. Poor man give bout 1-1/2 hours

for noon whe' I get two hours back home en I never go back de next day.

Boss say, 'Why don' you go back to work?' I tell him dat fellow wouldn'

give me long enough time for noon. My boss wouldn' force me to go back

when I tell him dat."

"I see one or two slaves whipped in slavery time, but I didn' see

anybody whipped bad. If a slave on one place was accused of takin a

thing on another place, dey have a trial bout it. Justice might tell dem

how many licks to give him en point man to do it. I hear dat some been

whipped way off till dey died, but old man Everett Nichols wouldn' never

whip his slaves. He had son dat whipped some rough darkies dat he got

off another place cause old man Nichols wouldn' want strange darkies to

marry girls on his place. I hear way up de country dat dey whipped dem

till dey died right dere."

"Dey had jails in slavery time at Marion for de slaves. If dey caught

slaves dat had run away, dey would put dem in jail till dey Massa sent

after dem. Sometimes dey would hold dem en sell dem for debt. Dey tell

me some put on stand en sold dere at Marion, but I never saw any sold.

Just hear bout dat, but I remembers I saw dis. Saw six men tied together

wid a chain one Saturday evenin dat was comin from Virginia en gwine to


"Some people helped de slaves to read en write en some of dem didn'. Boy

learnt one of my uncles to read, but didn' want him to write. People

learn to spell in dem times better den dey do now. Some of de slaves

could read de Bible en den others of dem could write dese pass dat dey

had to get from dey Massa fore dey could go from one plantation to

another. I recollects my mother's father could write a pass."

"Dere wasn' no church on de plantation whe' I stay. Had preachin in Mr.

Ford's yard sometimes en den another time de slaves went to white

people's church at Bear Swamp. Boss tell slaves to go to meetin cause he

say he pay de preacher. Dean Ears, white man, gave out speech to de

slaves one day dere to Nichols. Slaves sat in gallery when dey go dere.

He tell dem to obey dey Massa en Missus. Den he say, 'God got a clean

kitchen to put you in. You think you gwine be free, but you ain' gwine

be free long as dere an ash in Ashpole Swamp.' White folks complain bout

de slaves gettin two sermons en dey get one. After dat, dey tell old

slaves not to come to church till after de white folks had left. Dat

never happen till after de war was over."

"I sho remember when freedom come here. Remember when my boss told me I

was free. My father come dere en say he wanted his boys. Boss called,

'Aaron, come here, your daddy wants you. I want you to go.' He told me

not to go till de news came though. Please me, I felt like a new man."

"I hate to speak what I think bout slavery. Think it a pity de slaves

freed cause I know I'm worried more now den in slavery time. Dere got to

be a change made. People got to turn. I belong to de Methodist Church en

I think everybody ought to belong to de church. God built de church for

de people en dey ought to go dere en be up en doin in de church. Dat dey


=Source:= Aaron Ford, Ex-Slave, Age 80-90, (No other information

given by interviewer.)

Personal interview by H. Grady Davis, June, 1937.

Peter Clifton Abbie Lindsay facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail