Abe Harris

Project #1555

W.W. Dixon

Winnsboro, S.C.



Abe Harris lives about nine miles southwest of the town of Winnsboro,

South Carolina. His home is a two-room frame house, with rock chimneys

of rough masonry at each gable end. It is the property of Mr. Daniel

Heyward. Abe is one-fourth white and this mixture shows in his features.

He is still vigorous and capable of light manual labor.

"My father was Samuel Lyles. My mother's name was Phenie Lyles. My

father and mother had fifteen chillun. I am de only one livin'. De last

one to die was my brother, Stocklin, that tended to de flowers and

gardens of people in Winnsboro for many years. He was found dead, one

mornin', in de Fortune Park woods.

"My parents b'long to Captain Tom Lyles, in slavery time. Father was de

hog man. He 'tended to de hogs; didn't pasture them as they do now.

Marster had a drove of eighty or more in de fall of de year befo' hog

killin' time. They run 'bout in de woods for acorns and hickory nuts and

my father had to keep up wid them and bring them home. He pen them, feed

them, and slop them at night.

"My white folks was de fust white settlers in de county. De fust one was

name Ephram, so I hear them tell many times. They fought in all wars dat

have been fought. My old marster, Tom, live up 'til de Civil War and

although he couldn't walk, he equip and pay a man to go in his place.

When Sherman's men come to de house, he was in bed wid a dislocated hip.

They thought he was shammin', playin' 'possum, so to speak. One of de

raiders, a Yankee, come wid a lighted torch and say: 'Unless you give me

de silver, de gold, and de money, I'll burn you alive.' Him reply: 'I

haven't many more years to live. Burn and be damned!' De Yankee was

surprised at his bravery, ordered father to take de torch from under de

bed and say: 'You 'bout de bravest man I ever see in South Carolina.'

"His wife, old Miss Mary, was sister to Congressman Joe Woodward. Deir

house and plantation was out at Buckhead. I was a boy eleven years old

and was in de house when he died, in 1874. He was de oldest person I

ever saw, eighty-seven. He had several chillun. Thomas marry Eliza Peay,

de baby of Col. Austin Peay, one of de rich race horse folks. Marse

Boykin marry Miss Cora Dantzler of Orangeburg. Him went to de war. Then

Nicholas, Austin, John, and Belton, all went to de Civil War. Austin was

killed at second Bull Run. Marse Nicholas go to Alabama and become

sheriff out dere. Marse John marry Miss Morris and was clerk of court

here for twenty-eight years.

"One of Marse John's sons is Senator Lyles, de cotton buyer here in

Winnsboro. De youngest boy, just a lad at freedom, marry Miss Cora Irby.

Two of deir chillun marry Marse Jim and Marse Bill Mobley in Columbia.

De youngest child, Miss Rebecca marry Marse DuBose Ellison in Winnsboro.

"First time I marry Emily Kinlock and had one child. Emily die. Then I

marry Lizzie Brown. Us had six chillun. When Lizzie die, I marry a

widow, Frances Young. Us too old to have chillun.

"I live at Rion, S.C. Just piddle 'round wid chickens and garden truck.

I sells them to de stone cutters and de mill people of Winnsboro. I's

past de age to work hard, and I'm mighty sorry dat our race was set free

too soon."

Abbie Lindsay Abner Jordan facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail