Charlotte Foster





Project 1885 -1-

District #4

Spartanburg, S.C.

May 28, 1937



FOLKLORE: EX-SLAVES



Six miles east of Spartanburg on R.F.D. No. 2, the writer found Aunt

Charlotte Foster, a colored woman who said she was 98 years old. Her

mother was Mary Johnson and her father's name was John Johnson. She is

living with her oldest daughter, whose husband is John Montgomery.



She stated she knew all about slavery times, that she and her mother

belonged to William Beavers who had a plantation right on the main road

from Spartanburg to Union, that the farm was near Big Brown Creek, but

she didn't know what larger stream the creek flowed into. Her father

lived on another place somewhere near Limestone. She and her mother were

hands on the farm and did all kinds of hard work. She used to plow, hoe,

dig and do anything the men did on the plantation. "I worked in the hot

sun." Every now and then she would get a sick headache and tell her

master she had it; then he would tell her to go sit down awhile and rest

until it got better.



She had a good master; he was a Christian if there ever was one. He had

a wife that was fussy and mean. "I didn't call her Mistus, I called her

Minnie." But, she quickly added, "Master was good to her, just as kind

and gentle like." When asked what was the matter with the wife, she just

shook her head and did not reply. Asked if she had rather live now or

during slavery times, she replied that if her master was living she

would be willing to go back and live with him. "Every Sunday he would

call us chilluns by name, would sit down and read the Bible to us; then

he would pray. If that man ain't in the Kingdom, then nobody's there."



She said her master never whipped any of the slaves, but she had heard

cries and groans coming from other plantations at five o'clock in the

morning where the slaves were being beaten and whipped. Asked why the

slaves were being beaten, she replied rather vehemently, "Just because

they wanted to beat 'em; they could do it, and they did." She said she

had seen the blood running down the backs of some slaves after they had

been beaten.



One day a girl about 16 years of age came to her house and said she'd

just as leave be dead as to take the beatings her master gave her, so

one day she did go into the woods and eat some poison oak. "She died,

too."



On one plantation she saw an old woman who used to get so many beatings

that they put a frame work around her body and ran it up into a kind of

steeple and placed a bell in the steeple. "Dat woman had to go around

with that bell ringing all the time."



"I got plenty to eat in dem days, got just what the white folks ate. One

day Master killed a deer, brung it in the house, and gave me some of the

meat. There was plenty of deer den, plenty of wild turkeys, and wild

hogs. Master told me whenever I seed a deer to holler and he would kill

it."



When slaves were freed her mother moved right away to her father's

place, but she said the two sons of her master would not give her mother

anything to eat then. "Master was willing, but dem boys would not give

us anything to live on, not even a little meal."



"After the Civil War was over and the Yankee soldiers came to our place,

dey just took what they wanted to eat, went into de stable and leave

their poor, broken-down horses and would ride off with a good horse.

They didn't hurt anybody, but just stole all they wanted."



One day she said her master pointed out Abe Lincoln to her. A long line

of cavalry rode down the road and presently there came Abe Lincoln

riding a horse, right behind them. She didn't have much to say about

Jeff Davis, except she heard the grown people talking about him. "Booker

Washington? Well, he was all right trying to help the colored people and

educate them. But he strutted around and didn't do much. People ought to

learn to read the Bible, but if you educate people too high it make a

fool out of them. They won't work when they gets an education, just

learns how to get out of work, learns how to steal enough to keep alive.

They are not taught how to work, how do you expect them to work when

they ain't taught to work? Well, I guess I would steal too before I

starved to death, but I ain't had to steal yet. No man can say he ever

gave me a dollar but what I didn't earn myself. I was taught to work and

I taught my chilluns to work, but this present crowd of niggers! They

won't do."



She stated her mother had twelve children and the log house they lived

in was weatherboarded; it was much warmer in such a house during cold

weather than the houses are now. "Every crack was chinked up with mud

and we had lots of wood." Her mother made all their beds, and had four

double beds sitting in the room. She made the ticking first and placed

the straw in the mattresses. "They beat the beds you can get now. These

men make half beds, den sell 'em to you, but dey ain't no good. Dey

don't know how to make 'em."



Aunt Charlotte said she remembered when the stars fell. "That was

something awful to see. Dey just fell in every direction. Master said to

wake the chilluns up and let 'em see it. Everybody thought the world was

coming to an end. We went out on de front porch to look at the sight;

we'd get scared and go back into de house, den come out again to see the

sight. It was something awful, but I sure saw it." (Records show that

the great falling of stars happened in the year 1833, so Aunt Charlotte

must be older than she claims, if she saw this eventful sight. Yet she

was positive she had seen the stars falling all over the heavens. She

made a sweep of her arm from high to low to illustrate how they fell.)





=Source:= Aunt Charlotte Foster, RFD #2, Spartanburg, S.C.

Interviewer: F.S. DuPre, Spartanburg, S.C.





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