Candus Richardson

Federal Writers' Project

of the W.P.A.

District #6

Marion County

Harry Jackson



[HW: Personal Interview]

Mrs. Candus Richardson, of 2710 Boulevard Place, was 18 years of age

when the Civil War was over. She was borned a slave on Jim Scott's

plantation on the "Homer Chitter river" in Franklin county,

Mississippi. Scott was the heir of "Old Jake Scott". "Old Jim Scott"

had about fifty slaves, who raised crops, cotton, tobacco, and hogs.

Candus cooked for Scott and his wife, Miss Elizabeth. They were both

cruel, according to Mrs. Richardson. She said that at one time her

Master struck her over the head with the butt end of a cowhide, that

made a hole in her head, the scar of which she still carries. He struck

her down because he caught her giving a hungry slave something to eat at

the back door of the "big house". The "big house" was Scott's house.

Scott beat her husband a lot of times because he caught him praying. But

"beatings didn't stop my husband from praying. He just kept on praying.

He'd steal off to the woods and pray, but he prayed so loud that anybody

close around could hear, 'cause he had such a loud voice. I prayed too,

but I always prayed to myself." One time, Jim Scott beat her husband so

unmerciful for praying that his shirt was as red from blood stain "as if

you'd paint it with, a brush". Her husband was very religious, and she

claimed that it was his prayers and "a whole lot of other slaves' that

cause you young folks to be free today".

They didn't have any Bible on the Scott plantation she said, for it

meant a beating or "a killing if you'd be caught with one". But there

were a lot of good slaves and they knew how to pray and some of the

white folks loved to hear than pray too, "'cause there was no put-on

about it. That's why we folks know how to sing and pray, 'cause we have

gone through so much, but the Lord is with us, the Lord's with us, he


Mrs. Richardson said that the slaves, that worked in the Master's house,

ate the same food that the master and his family ate, but those out on

the plantation didn't fare so well; they ate fat meats and parts of the

hog that the folks at the "big house" didn't eat. All the slaves had to

call Scott and his wife "Master and Miss Elizabeth", or they would get

punished if they didn't.

Whenever the slaves would leave the plantation, they ware supposed to

have a permit from Scott, and if they were caught out by the

"padyrollers", they would whip them if they did not have a note from

their master. When the slaves went to church, they went to a Baptist

church that the Scotts belonged to and sat in the rear of the church.

The sermon was never preached to the slaves. "They never preached the

Lord to us," Mrs. Richardson said, "They would just tell us to not

steal, don't steal from your master". A week's ration of food was given

each slave, but if he ate it up before the week, he had to eat salt pork

until the next rations. He couldn't eat much of it, because it was too

salty to eat any quanity of it. "We had to make our own clothes out of a

cloth like you use, called canvass". "We walked to church with our shoes

on our arms to keep from wearing them out".

They walked six miles to reach the church, and had to wade across a

stream of water. The women were carried across on the men's backs. They

did all of this to hear the minister tell them "don't steal from your


They didn't have an overseer to whip the slaves on the Scott

plantation, Scott did the whipping himself. Mrs. Richardson said he

knocked her down once just before she gave birth to a daughter, all

because she didn't pick cotton as fast as he thought she should have.

Her husband went to the war to be "what you call a valet for Master

Jim's son, Sam". After the war, he "came to me and my daughter". "Then

in July, we could tell by the crops and other things grown, old Master

Jim told us everyone we was free, and that was almost a year after the

other slaves on the other plantations around were freed". She said

Scott, in freeing (?) then said that "he didn't have to give us any

thing to eat and that he didn't have to give us a place to stay, but we

could stay and work for him and he would pay us. But we left that night

and walked for miles through the rain to my husban's brother and then

told them that they all were free. Then we all came up to Kentucky in a

wagon and lived there. Then I came up North when my husband died".

Mrs. Richardson says that she is "so happy to know that I have lived to

see the day when you young people can serve God without slipping around

to serve him like we old folks had to do". "You see that pencil that

you have In your hand there, why, that would cost me my life 'if old

Mas' Jim would see me with a pencil in my hand. But I lived to see both

him and Miss Elizabeth die a hard death. They both hated to die,

although they belonged to church. Thank God for his mercy! Thank God!"

"My mother prayed for me and I am praying for you young folks".

Mrs. Richardson, despite her 90 years of age, can walk a distance of a

mile and a half to her church.

Submitted August 31, 1937

Indianapolis, Indiana

Candis Goodwin Carey Davenport facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail