Aunt Carrie Mason

District Two



Milledgeville, Georgia

(Baldwin County)

Written By:

Mrs. Estelle G. Burke

Research Worker

Federal Writers' Project

Milledgeville, Georgia

Edited By:

John N. Booth

Asst. District Supervisor

Federal Writers' Project

Athens, Georgia

July 7, 1937

[Date Stamp: JUL 20 1937]

"Howdy, Miss, Howdy. Come on in. George is poly today. My grandchillun

is doin' a little cleanin' up fer me 'cause us thinks George ain't got

long on this earth an' us don' want de place ter be dirty an' all when

he's gone."

The home of Aunt Carrie and Uncle George Mason, a two-room cabin

surrounded by a dirty yard, stands in a clearing. Old tin cans, bottles,

dusty fruit jars, and piles of rat-tail cotton from gutted mattresses

littered the place. An immense sugarberry tree, beautifully

proportioned, casts inviting shade directly in front of the stoop. It is

the only redeeming feature about the premises. Aunt Carrie, feeble and

gray haired, hobbled out in the yard with the aid of a stick.

"Have a seat, Miss. Dat cheer is all right. It won't fall down. Don't

git yo' feet wet in dat dirty water. My grandchillun is scourin' terday.

Effen yer want to, us'll set under de tree. Dey's a cool breeze dar all

de time.

"You wants to fin' out my age an' all? Law Miss, I don' know how ole I

is. George is nigh 'bout 90. I 'members my mammy said I wuz bawn a mont'

or two 'fore freedom wuz 'clared. Yas'um I rekymembers all 'bout de

Yankees. How cum I 'members 'bout dem an' de war wuz over den? I cain't

tell yer dat, but I knows I 'members seein' 'em in de big road. It

mought not uv been Mister Sherman's mens but mammy said de Yankees wuz

in de big road long after freedom wuz 'clared, and dey wuz down here

gettin' things straight. Dey wuz sho' in er mess atter de war! Evvythin'

wuz tore up an' de po' niggers didn't know which away to turn.

"My mammy's name wuz Catherine Bass an' my pappy wuz Ephriam Butts. Us

b'longed ter Mars' Ben Bass an' my mammy had de same name ez marster

twell she ma'ied pappy. He b'longed ter somebody else 'til marster

bought him. Dey had ten chillun. No, mam, Mammy didn't have no doctor,"

Aunt Carrie chuckled, "Didn't nobody hardly have a doctor in dem days.

De white folks used yarbs an' ole 'omans to he'p 'em at dat time. Mammy

had er ole 'oman whut lived on de place evvy time she had a little 'un.

She had one evvy year too. She lost one. Dat chile run aroun' 'til she

wuz one year ole an' den died wid de disentery.

"Us had er right hard time in dem days. De beds us used den warn't like

dese here nice beds us has nowadays. Don't you laugh, Berry, I knows

dese beds us got now is 'bout to fall down," Aunt Carrie admonished her

grandson when he guffawed at her statement, "You chilluns run erlong now

an' git thoo' wid dat cleanin'." Aunt Carrie's spirits seemed dampened

by Berry's rude laugh and it was several minutes before she started

talking again. "Dese young folks don't know nuthin' 'bout hard times. Us

wukked in de ole days frum before sunup 'til black night an' us knowed

whut wuk wuz. De beds us slep' on had roun' postes made outen saplins of

hickory or little pine trees. De bark wuz tuk off an' dey wuz rubbed

slick an' shiny. De sprangs wuz rope crossed frum one side uv de bed to

de udder. De mattress wuz straw or cotton in big sacks made outen

osnaberg or big salt sacks pieced tergether. Mammy didn't have much soap

an' she uster scrub de flo' wid sand an' it wuz jes ez white. Yas mam,

she made all de soap us used, but it tuk a heap. We'uns cooked in de

ashes an' on hot coals, but de vittals tasted a heap better'n dey does

nowadays. Mammy had to wuk in de fiel' an' den cum home an' cook fer

marster an' his fambly. I didn' know nuthin' 'bout it 'till atter

freedom but I hyearn 'em tell 'bout it.

"Mammy an' pappy stayed on Marster's plantation 'til a year or mo' atter

dey had dey freedom. Marster paid 'em wages an' a house ter stay in. He

didn't hav' many slaves, 'bout 20, I reckon. My brothers wuz Berry,

Dani'l, Ephriam, Tully, Bob, Lin, an' George. De yuthers I disremembers,

caze dey lef' home when dey wuz big enough to earn dey livin' an' I jes

don't recollec'.

"Conjur' woman! Law miss, I aims ter git ter Hebem when I dies an' I

show don't know how ter conjur' nobody. No mam, I ain't never seed no

ghost. I allus pray to de Lord dat He spar' me dat trouble an' not let

me see nary one. No good in folks plunderin' on dis earth atter dey

leave here de fus time. Go 'way, dog."

A spotted hound, lean and flop-eared was scratching industriously under

Aunt Carrie's chair. It was a still summer day and the flies droned

ceaselessly. A well nearby creaked as the dripping bucket was drawn to

the top by a granddaughter who had come in from the field to get a cool

drink. Aunt Carrie watched the girl for a moment and then went back to

her story.

"Effen my mammy or pappy ever runned away from Marster, I ain't heered

tell uv it, but Mammy said dat when slaves did run away, dey wuz cotched

an' whupped by de overseer. Effen a man or a 'oman kilt another one den

dey wuz branded wid er hot i'on. Er big S wuz put on dey face somewhars.

S stood fer 'slave, 'an' evvybody knowed dey wuz er mudderer. Marster

din't have no overseer; he overseed hisself.

"Why is George so white? 'Cause his marster wuz er white genemun named

Mister Jimmie Dunn. His mammy wuz er cullud 'oman name' Frances Mason

an' his marster wuz his paw. Yas mam, I see you is s'prised, but dat

happ'ned a lots in dem days. I hyeared tell of er white man what would

tell his sons ter 'go down ter dem nigger quarters an' git me mo'

slaves.' Yas mam, when George wuz borned ter his mamny, his pappy wuz er

white man an' he made George his overseer ez soon ez he wuz big e'nuf

ter boss de yuther slaves. I wish he wuz able to tell yer 'bout it, but

since he had dat las' stroke he ain't been able ter talk none."

Aunt Carrie took an old clay pipe from her apron pocket and filled it

with dry scraps of chewing tobacco. After lighting it she puffed quietly

and seemed to be meditating. Finally she took it from her mouth and


"I ain't had no eddication. I 'tended school part of one term but I wuz

so skairt of my teacher that I couldn't larn nuthin'. He wuz a ole white

man. He had been teachin' fer years an' years, but he had a cancer an'

dey had done stopped him frum teachin' white chillun'. His name wuz

Mister Bill Greer. I wuz skairt 'cause he was a white man. No mam, no

white man ain't never harmed me, but I wuz skairt of him enyhow. One day

he says to me, 'chile I ain't goin to hurt yer none 'cause I'm white.'

He wuz a mighty good ole man. He would have larned us mo' but he died de

nex' year. Mammy paid him ten cents a mont' a piece fer all us chillun.

De boys would wuk fer dey money but I wuz the onliest gal an' Mammy

wouldn't let me go off de plantation to make none. Whut I made dar I

got, but I didn't make much 'til atter I ma'ied.

"Law honey, does yer want to know 'bout my ma'ige? Well, I wuz 15 years

ole an' I had a preacher to ma'y me. His name wuz Andrew Brown. In dem

days us allus waited 'til de time of year when us had a big meetin' or

at Christmus time. Den effen one of us wanted ter git mai'ed, he would

perform de weddin' atter de meetin' or atter Chris'mus celebratin'. I

had er bluish worsted dress. I mai'ed in Jannywerry, right atter

Chris'mus. At my mai'ge us had barbecue, brunswick stew, an' cake. De

whole yard wuz full uv folks.

"Mammy wuz a 'ligous 'oman an' de fust day of Chris'mus she allus fasted

ha'f a day an' den she would pray. Atter dat evvybody would hav' eggnog

an' barbecue an' cake effen dey had de money to buy it. Mammy said dat

when dey wuz still slaves Marster allus gived 'em Chris'mus, but atter

dey had freedom den dey had ter buy dey own rations. Us would have

banjer playin' an' dance de pijen-wing and de shuffle-toe.

"No mam, George's pa didn' leave him no lan' when he died. Us went ter

another farm an' rented when de mai'ge wuz over. George's pa warn't

dead, but he didn't offer to do nuthin' fer us.

"Yas'um, I'se had eight chilluns of my own. Us ain' never had no lan' us

could call our'n. Us jes moved from one farm ter another all our days.

This here lan' us is on now 'longs ter Mr. Cline. My son an' his chillun

wuks it an' dey give us whut dey kin spare. De Red Cross lady he'ps us

an' us gits along somehow or nother."

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