America Morgan

Federal Writers' Project

of the W.P.A.

District #6

Marion County

Anna Pritchett

1200 Kentucky Avenue



816 Camp Street

America Morgan was born in a log house, daubed with dirt, in Ballard

County, Kentucky, in 1852, the daughter of Manda and Jordon Rudd. She

remembers very clearly the happenings of her early life.

Her mother, Manda Rudd, was owned by Clark Rudd, and the "devil has sure

got him."

Her father was owned by Mr. Willingham, who was very kind to his slaves.

Jordon became a Rudd, because he was married to Manda on the Rudd


There were six children in the family, and all went well until the death

of the mother; Clark Rudd whipped her to death when America was five

years old.

Six little children were left motherless to face a "frowning world."

America was given to her master's daughter, Miss Meda, to wait on her,

as her personal property. She lived with her for one year, then was sold

for $600.00 to Mr. and Mrs. Utterback stayed with them until the end of

the Civil war.

The new mistress was not so kind. Miss Meda, who knew her reputation,

told her if she abused America, she would come for her, and she would

loose the $600.00 she had paid for her. Therefore, America was treated

very kindly.

Aunt Catherine, who looked after all the children on the plantation,

was very unruly, no one could whip her. Once America was sent for two

men to come and tie Aunt Catherine. She fought so hard, it was as much

as the men could do to tie her. They tied her hands, then hung her to

the joist and lashed her with a cow hide. It "was awful to hear her


In 1865 her father came and took her into Paduca, Kentucky, "a land of


When thirteen years old, America did not know A from B, then "glory to

God," a Mr. Greeleaf, a white man, from the north, came down to Kentucky

and opened a school for Negro children. That was America's first chance

to learn. He was very kind and very sympathetic. She went to school for

a very short while.

Her father was very poor, had nothing at all to give his children.

America's mistress would not give her any of her clothes. "All she had

in this world, was what she had on her back." Then she was "hired out"

for $1.00 a week.

The white people for whom she worked were very kind to her and would try

to teach her when her work was done. She was given an old fashioned

spelling book and a first reader. She was then "taught much and began to

know life."

She was sent regularly to church and Sunday school. That was when she

began to "wake up" to her duty as a free girl.

The Rev. D.W. Dupee was her Sunday school teacher, from him she learned

much she had never known before.

At seventeen years of age, she married and "faced a frowning world

right." She had a good husband and ten children, three of whom are

living today, one son and two daughters.

She remembers one slave, who had been given five hundred lashes on his

back, thrown in his cabin to die. He laid on the floor all night, at

dawn he came to himself, and there were blood hounds licking his back.

When the overseers lashed a slave to death, they would turn the

bloodhounds out to smell the blood, so they would know "nigger blood,"

that would help trace runaway slaves.

Aunt Jane Stringer was given five hundred lashes and thrown in her

cabin. The next morning when the overseer came, he kicked her and told

her to get up, and wanted to know if she was going to sleep there all

day. When she did not answer him, he rolled her over and the poor woman

was dead, leaving several motherless children.

When the slaves were preparing to run away, they would put hot pepper on

their feet; this would cause the hounds to be thrown off their trail.

Aunt Margaret ran off, but the hounds traced her to a tree; she stayed

up in the tree for two days and would not come down until they promised

not to whip her any more, and they kept their promise.

Old mistress' mother was sick a long time, and little America had to

keep the flies off of her by waving a paper fly brush over her bed. She

was so mean, America was afraid to go too near the bed for fear she

might try to grab her and shake her. After she died, she haunted

America. Anytime she would go into the room, she could hear her knocking

on the wall with her cane. Some nights they would hear her walking up

and down the stairs for long periods at a time.

Aunt Catherine ran off, because "ole missie" haunted her so bad.

The old master came back after his death and would ride his favorite

horse, old Pomp, all night long, once every week. When the boy would go

in to feed the horses, old Pomp would have his ears hanging down, and he

would be "just worn out," after his night ride.

Interviewer's Comment

America believes firmly in haunts, and said she had lived in several

haunted houses since coming up north.

Mrs. Morgan lives with her baby boy and his wife. She is rather

inteligent, reads and writes, and tries to do all she can to help those

who are less fortunate than she.

Submitted December 27, 1937

Indianapolis, Indiana

Amelia Jones Amos Clark facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail