Caleb Craig

Project #1655

W. W. Dixon

Winnsboro, S. C.



Caleb Craig lives in a four-room house, with a hall, eight feet wide,

through the center and a fireplace in each room. He lives with his

grandson, who looks after him.

"Who I is? I goes by de name of C. C. All de colored people speaks of me

in dat way. C. C. dis and C. C. dat. I don't 'ject but my real name is

Caleb Craig. Named after one of de three spies dat de Bible tell 'bout.

Him give de favorite report and, 'cause him did, God feed him and clothe

him all de balance of him life and take him into de land of Canaan,

where him and Joshua have a long happy life. I seen a picture in a book,

one time, of Joshua and Caleb, one end of a pole on Joshua's shoulder

and one end on Caleb's shoulder, wid big bunches of grapes a hangin'

from dat pole. Canaan must to been a powerful fertile land to make

grapes lak dat.

"Would you believe dat I can't write? Some of them adultery (adult)

teachers come to my house but it seem a pack of foolishness; too much

trouble. I just rather put my money in de bank, go dere when I want it,

set dat C. C. to de check, and git what I want.

"When I born? Christmas Eve, 1851. Where 'bouts? Blackstock, S. C. Don't

none of us know de day or de place us was born. Us have to take dat on

faith. You know where de old Bell house, 'bove Blackstock, is? Dere's

where I come to light. De old stagecoach, 'tween Charlotte and Columbia,

changed hosses and stop dere but de railroad busted all dat up.

"My mammy name Martha. Marse John soon give us chillun to his daughter,

Miss Marion. In dat way us separated from our mammy. Her was a mighty

pretty colored woman and I has visions and dreams of her, in my sleep,

sometime yet. My sisters would call me Cale but her never did. Her say

Caleb every time and all de time. Marse John give her to another

daughter of his, Miss Nancy, de widow Thompson then, but afterwards her

marry a hoss drover from Kentucky, Marse Jim Jones. I can tell you funny

things 'bout him if I has time befo' I go.

"Us chillun was carried down to de June place where Miss Marion and her

husband, Marse Ed P. Mobley live. It was a fine house, built by old Dr.

June. Marse Ed bought de plantation, for de sake of de fine house, where

he want to take Miss Marion as a bride.

"Dere was a whole passle of niggers in de quarter, three hundred or

maybe more. I didn't count them, 'cause I couldn't count up to a hundred

but I can now. Ten, ten, double ten, forty-five, and fifteen. Don't dat

make a hundred? Sho' it do.

"Clothes? Too many dere, for to clothe them much. I b'long to de

shirt-tail brigade 'til I got to be a man. Why I use to plow in my

shirt-tail! Well, it wasn't so bad in de summer time and us had big

fires in de winter time, inside and outside de house, whenever us was

working'. 'Til I was twelve years old I done nothin' but play.

"Money? Hell no! Excuse me, but de question so surprise me, I's caught

off my guard. Food? Us got farm produce, sich as corn-meal, bacon,

'lasses, bread, milk, collards, turnips, 'tators, peanuts, and punkins.

"De overseer was Mr. Brown. My marster was much talked 'bout for workin'

us on Sunday. He was a lordly old fellow, as I 'member, but dere was

never anything lak plowin' on Sunday, though I do 'member de hands

workin' 'bout de hay and de fodder.

"Marse Ed, a great fox hunter, kep' a pack of hounds. Sometime they run

deer. Old Uncle Phil was in charge of de pack. Him had a special dog for

to tree 'possums in de nighttime and squirrels in de daytime. Believe

me, I lak 'possum de best. You lak 'possum? Well, I'll git my grandson

to hunt you one dis comin' October.

"Marse Ed didn't 'low patarollers (patrollers) on de June place. He tell

them to stay off and they knowed to stay off.

"Slave drovers often come to de June place, just lak mule drovers and

hog drovers. They buy, sell, and swap niggers, just lak they buy, sell,

and swap hosses, mules, and hogs.

"Us had preachin' in de quarters on Sunday. Uncle Dick, a old man, was

de preacher. De funerals was simple and held at night. De grave was dug

dat day.

"A man dat had a wife off de place, see little peace or happiness. He

could see de wife once a week, on a pass, and jealousy kep' him

'stracted de balance of de week, if he love her very much.

"I marry Martha Pickett. Why I marry her? Well, I see so many

knock-knee, box-ankle, spindly-shank, flat nose chillun, when I was

growin' up, dat when I come to choose de filly to fold my colts, I picks

one dat them mistakes wasn't so lakly to appear in. Us have five

chillun. Lucy marry a Sims and live in Winnsboro, S. C. Maggie marry a

Wallace and live in Charlotte, N. C. Mary marry a Brice and live in

Chester, S. C. Jane not married; she live wid her sister, Mag, in

Charlotte. John lives 'bove White Oak and farms on a large place I own,

not a scratch of pen against it by de government or a bank.

"I live on 27 acres, just out de town of Winnsboro. I expects no

pension. My grandchillun come and go, back'ards and fo'ards, and tell me

'bout cities, and high falutin' things goin' on here and dere. I looks

them over sometime for to see if I didn't do sumpin' for deir figures,

in s'lectin' and marryin' Martha, dat's more important to them than de

land I'll leave them when I die. When Martha die, I marry a widow name

Eliza but us never generate any chillun. Her dead. Not 'nough spark in

me to undertake de third trip, though I still is a subject of 'tentions.

"What 'bout Marse Ed and Marse Jim Jones? Well, you see, Marse Jim was

close wid his money. Marse Ed was a spender. I 'tend Marse Ed to a

chicken main once. Marse Jim rode up just as Marse Ed was puttin' up

$300.00 on a pile brass wing rooster, 'ginst a black breasted red war

hoss rooster, dat de McCarleys was backin'. Marse Ed lost de bet. But

him never told Marse Jim, dat befo' he rode up, him had won $500.00 from

them same men. After de main was over, Marse Jim, bein' brudder-in-law

to Marse Ed, rode home to dinner wid him. After dinner they was smokin'

deir cigars befo' de parlor fire dat I was 'viving up. Marse Jim lecture

Marse Ed for throwin' 'way money. Marse Ed stretch out his long legs and

say: 'Mr. Jones does you 'member dat day us 'tended de circus in Chester

and as us got to de top of de hill a blind begger held out his cup to us

and you put in a quarter?' Mr. Jones say he does 'member dat. Marse Ed

went on: 'Well, Mr. Jones, I had a dream last night. I dream us comin'

through de Cumberland Mountains wid a drove of mules from Kentucky. You

was ridin' a piebald hoss, de same one you rode into South Carolina de

fust time you come here. You had on a faded, frazzled grey shawl, 'bout

lak de one you had on today. Us was in front, de outriders behind, when

us got to de gap in de mountains. De drove stampede just as us git in de

gap. Us was both kilt. You got to heaven befo' I did. When I did git

dere, you was befo' de High Court. They examine you and turn over de

leaves of a big book and find very little dere to your credit. At last

they say, I think it was de 'Postle Peter dat ask de question. Him say:

'Everything is recorded in dis book. Us can find nothin'. Do you happen

to 'member anything you did to your credit down dere on earth?' Then you

stand up wid dat old shawl 'round your shoulders and say: 'Aha! I do

'member one thing. One day I was in Chester and put a quarter of a

dollar in a blind man's tin cup.' De 'postle then tell de recording

angel to see if him could find dat deed. Him turn over de leaves 'til

him found it on de page. Then de twelve 'postles retire and 'liberate on

your case. They come back and de judge pass sentence which was: 'The

sentence of de High Court is, that in view of your great love of money,

James Jones, it is de sentence of de court dat you be given back de

quarter you give de blind beggar in Chester and dat you, James Jones, be

sent immediate on your way to hell.' Then they both laugh over dat and

Marse Jim got real happy when he find out Marse Ed quit de main wid

$200.00 to de good."


Caleb Craig,

Winnsboro, S. C.

That part of the suburb of Winnsboro called "Mexico". Just east of the

Southern Railway Company and north of Winnsboro Cotton Mills.

Caldwell Sims Callie Bracey facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail