Amy Elizabeth Patterson

Ex-Slave Stories

District #5

Vanderburgh County

Lauana Creel



The slave mart, separation from a dearly beloved mother and little

sisters are among the earliest memories recalled by Amy Elizabeth

Patterson, a resident of Evansville, Indiana.

Amy Elizabeth, now known as "Grandmother Patterson" resides with her

daughter Lula B. Morton at 512 Linwood Avenue near Cherry Street. Her

birth occurred July 12, 1850 at Cadiz, Trigg County, Kentucky. Her

mother was Louisa Street, slave of John Street, a merchant of Cadez.

[TR: likely Cadiz]

"John Street was never unkind to his slaves" is the testimony of

Grandmother Patterson, as she recalls and relates stories of the long

ago. "Our sorrow began when slave traders, came to Cadiz and bought such

slaves as he took a fancy to and separated us from our families!"

John Street ran a sort of agency where he collected slaves and yearly

sold them to dealers in human flesh. Those he did not sell he hired out

to other families. Some were hired or indentured to farmers, some to

stock raisers, some to merchants and some to captains of boats and the

hire of all these slaves went into the coffers of John Street, yearly

increasing his wealth.

Louisa Street, mother of Amy Elizabeth Patterson, was house maid at the

Street home and her first born daughter was fair with gold brown hair

and amber eyes. Mr. and Mrs. Street always promised Louisa they would

never sell her as they did not want to part with the child, so Louisa

was given a small cabin near the master's house. The mistress had a

child near the age of the little mulatto and Louisa was wet nurse for

both children as well as maid to Mrs. Street. Two years after the birth

of Amy Elizabeth, Louisa became mother of twin daughters, Fannie and

Martha Street, then John Street decided to sell all his slaves as he

contemplated moving into another territory.

The slaves were auctioned to the highest bidder and Louisa and the twins

were bought by a man living near Cadiz but Mr. Street refused to sell

Amy Elizabeth. She showed promise of growing into an excellent

house-maid and seamstress and was already a splendid playmate and nurse

to the little Street boy and girl. So Louisa lost her child but such

grief was shown by both mother and child that the mother was unable to

perform her tasks and the child cried continually. Then Mr. Street

consented to sell the little girl to the mother's new master.

Louisa Street became mother of seventeen children. Three were almost

white. Amy Elizabeth was the daughter of John Street and half sister of

his children by his lawful wife. Mrs. Street knew the facts and

respected Louisa and her child and, says grandmother Patterson, "That

was the greatest crime ever visited on the United States. It was worse

than the cruelty of the overseers, worse than hunger, for many slaves

were well fed and well cared for; but when a father can sell his own

child, humiliate his own daughter by auctioning her on the slave block,

what good could be expected where such practices were allowed?"

Grandmother Patterson remembers superstitions of slavery days and how

many slaves were afraid of ghosts and evil spirits but she never

believed in supernatural appearances until three years ago when she

received a message, through a medium, from the spirit land; now she is a

firm believer, not in ghosts and evil visitations, but in true

communication with the departed ones who still love and long to protect

those who remain on earth.

Several years ago a young grandson of the old woman was drowned. The

little boy was Stokes Morton, a very popular child rating high averages

in school studies and beloved by his teachers and friends. The mother,

Lulu B. Morton and the grandmother both gave up to grief, in fact they

both have declined in health and were unable to carry on their regular


Grandmother Patterson began suffering from a dental ailment and was

compelled to visit a dental surgeon. The dental surgeon suggested that

she visit a medium and seek some comforting message from the child.

She at once visited a medium and received a message. "Stokes answered

me. In fact he was waiting to communicate with us. He said 'Grandmother!

you and mother must stop staying at the cemetary and grieving for me.

Send the flowers to your sick friends and put in more time with the

other children. I am happy here, I am in a beautiful field, The sky is

blue and the field is full of beautiful white lambs that play with me.'"

The message comforted the aged woman. She began occupying her time with

other members of the family and again began to visit with her neighbors.

She felt a call two years later and again consulted the medium. That

time she received a message from the child, his father and a little girl

that had died in infancy. Grandmother Patterson said she would not

recall the ones who had gone on to the land of promise. She is a

christian and a believer in the Word of God.

Grandmother Patterson, in spite of her 87 years of life (fifteen of

which were passed in slavery) is useful in her daughter's home. Her

children and grand children are fond of her as indeed they well may be.

She is a refined woman, gracious to every person she encounters. She is

hoping for better opportunities for her race. She admonishes the younger

relatives to live in the fear and love of the Lord that no evil days

overtake them.

"Yes, slavery was a curse to this nation" she declares, "A curse which

still shows itself in hundreds of homes where mulatto faces are evidence

of a heinous sin and proof that there has been a time when American

fathers sold their children at the slave marts of America." She is glad

the curse has been erased even if by the bloodshed of heroes.

Amsy O Alexander Interviewed By Samuel S Taylor Amy Penny facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail