Betty Guwn

Submitted by:

William Webb Tuttle

District No. 2

Muncie, Indiana



MRS. HATTIE CASH, DAUGHTER, residing at 1101 East Second Street

Muncie, Indiana

Mrs. Betty Guwn was born March 25, 1832, as a slave on a tobacco

plantation, near Canton, Kentucky. It was a large plantation whose

second largest product was corn. She was married while quite young by

the slave method which was a form of union customary between the white

masters. If the contracting parties were of different plantations the

masters of the two estates bargained and the one sold his rights to the

one on whose plantation they would live. Her master bought her husband,

brought him and set them up a shack. Betty was the personal attendant of

the Mistress. The home was a large Colonial mansion and her duties were

many and responsible. However, when her house duties were caught up her

mistress sent her immediately to the fields. Discipline was quite stern

there and she was "lined up" with the others on several occasions.

Her cabin home began to fill up with children, fifteen in all. The

ventilation was ample and the husband would shoot a prowling dog from

any of the four sides of the room without opening the door. The cracks

between the logs would be used by cats who could step in anywhere. The

slaves had "meetin'" some nights and her mistress would call her and

have her turn a tub against her mansion door to keep out the sound.

Her master was very wealthy. He owned and managed a cotton farm of two

thousand acres down in Mississippi, not far from New Orleans. Once a

year he spent three months there gathering and marketing his cotton.

When he got ready to go there he would call all his slaves about him and

give them a chance to volunteer. They had heard awful tales of the slave

auction block at New Orleans, and the Master would solemnly promise

them that they should not be sold if they went down of their own accord.

"My Mistress called me to her and privately told me that when I was

asked that question I should say to him: "I will go". The Master had to

take much money with him and was afraid of robbers. The day they were to

start my Mistress took me into a private room and had me remove most of

my clothing; she then opened a strong box and took out a great roll of

money in bills; these she strapped to me in tight bundles, arranging

them around my waist in the circle of my body. She put plenty of

dresses over this belt and when she was through I wore a bustle of money

clear around my belt. I made a funny "figger" but no one noticed my odd

shape because I was a slave and no one expected a slave to "know

better". We always got through safely and I went down with my Mistress

every year. Of course my husband stayed at home to see after the family,

and took them to the fields when too young to work under the task

master, or over-seer. Three months was a long time to be separated."

"When the Civil War came on there was great excitement among we slaves.

We were watched sharply, especially soldier timber for either army. My

husband ran away early and helped Grant to take Fort Donaldson. He said

he would free himself, which he did; but when we were finally set free

all our family prepared to leave. The Master begged us to stay and

offered us five pounds of meal and two pounds of pork jowl each week if

we would stay and work. We all went to Burgard, Kentucky, to live. At

that time I was about 34 years old. My husband has been dead a long time

and I live with my children. If the "Good Lord" spares me until next

March the 25th, I will be 106 years old. I walk all about lively without

crutches and eye-glasses and I have never been sick until this year when

a tooth gave me trouble; but I had it pulled."

Betty Foreman Chessier Betty Harris facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail