Amanda Styles

[HW: Atlanta

Dist. 5

Ex-Slave #103]






On November 18, 1936 Amanda Styles ex-slave, was interviewed at her

residence 268 Baker Street N.E. Styles is about 80 years of age and

could give but a few facts concerning her life as a slave. Her family

belonged to an ordinary class of people neither rich nor poor. Her

master Jack Lambert owned a small plantation; and one other slave

besides her family which included her mother, father and one sister. The

only event during slavery that impressed itself on Mrs. Styles was the

fact that when the Yanks came to their farm they carried off her mother

and she was never heard of again.

Concerning superstitions, signs, and other stories pertaining to this

Mrs. Styles related the following signs and events. As far as possible

the stories are given in her exact words. "During my day it was going

ter by looking in the clouds. Some folks could read the signs there. A

'oman that whistled wuz marked to be a bad 'oman. If a black cat crossed

your path you sho would turn round and go anudder way. It was bad luck

to sit on a bed and when I wuz small I wuz never allowed to sit on the


Following are stories, related by Mrs. Styles, which had their origin

during slavery and immediately following slavery.

"During slavery time there was a family that had a daughter and she

married and ebby body said she wuz a witch cause at night dey sed she

would turn her skin inside out and go round riding folks horses. Der

next morning der horses manes would be tied up. Now her husband didn't

know she was a witch so somebody tole him he could tell by cutting off

one of her limbs so one night the wife changed to a cat and the husband

cut off her forefinger what had a ring on it. After that der wife would

keep her hand hid cause her finger wuz cut off; and she knowed her

husband would find out that she wuz the witch.

My mother sed her young mistress wuz a witch and she too married but her

husband didn't know that she wuz a witch; and she would go round at

night riding horses and turning the cows milk into blood. Der folks

didn't know what ter do instead of milk they had blood. So one day a old

lady came there and told em that a witch had been riding the cow, and to

cast off the spell, they had to take a horse shoe and put it in the

bottom of the churn and then the blood would turn back ter milk and

butter. Sho nuff they did it and got milk.

Anudder man had a wife that wuz accused of being a witch so he cut her

leg off and it wuz a cats' leg and when his wife came back her leg was


They say there wuz a lot of conjuring too and I have heard 'bout a lot

of it. My husband told me he went to see a 'oman once dat had scorpions

in her body. The conjurer did it by putting the blood of a scorpion in

her body and this would breed more scorpions in her. They had to get

anudder conjurer to undo the spell.

There wuz anudder family that lived near and that had a daughter and

when she died they say she had a snake in her body.

My husband sed he wuz conjured when he wuz a boy and had ter walk with

his arms outstretched he couldn't put em down at all and couldn't even

move 'em. One day he met a old man and he sed "Son whats der matter wid

you?" "I don't know," he sed. "Den why don't you put your arms down?" "I

can't." So the old man took a bottle out of his pocket and rubbed his

arms straight down 'till they got alright.

He told me too bout a 'oman fixing her husband. This 'oman saw anudder

man she wonted so she had her husband fixed so he would throw his arms

up get on his knees and bark just like a dog. So they got some old man

that wuz a conjurer to come and cure him. He woulda died if they hadn't

got that spell off him.

My father told me that a 'oman fixed anudder one cause she married her

sweetheart she told her he nebber would do her any good and sho nuff she

fixed her so dat she would have a spell ebby time she went to church.

One day they sent fer her husband and asked him what wuz the matter with

her and he told them that this other 'oman fixed her with conjure. They

sent for a conjurer and he came and rubbed some medicine on her body and

she got alright.

During slavery time the master promised ter whip a nigger and when he

came out ter whip him instead he just told him "Go on nigger 'bout your

business." Der Nigger had fixed him by spitting as for as he could spit

so the master couldn't come any nearer than that spit.

I know a Nigger that they sed wuz kin ter the devil. He told me that he

could go out hind the house and make some noise and the devil would come

and dance with him. He sed the devil learned him to play a banjo and if

you wanted to do anything the devil could do, go to a cross road walk

backwards and curse God. But don't nebber let the devil touch any of

your works or anything that belonged to you or you would lose your


The nearest I ebber came ter believing in conjure wuz when my step

mother got sick. She fell out with an 'oman that lived with her daughter

cause this 'oman had did something ter her daughter; and so she called

her a black kinky head hussy and this 'oman got fightin mad and sed ter

her. "Nebber mind you'll be nappy and kinky headed too when I git

through wid you." My Ma's head turned real white and funny right round

the edge and her mind got bad and she used to chew tobacco and spit in

her hands and rub it in her head; and very soon all her hair fell out.

She even quit my father after living with him 20 years saying he had

poisoned her. She stayed sick a long time and der doctors nebber could

understand her sickness. She died and I will always believe she wuz


After relating the last story my interview with Mrs. Styles came to an

end. I thanked her and left, wondering over the strange stories she had

told me.

Amanda Rosa Ambrose Douglass facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail