Cornelia Andrews

N. C. District: No. 2 [320280]

Worker: Mary A. Hicks

No. Words: 789

Subject: Cornelia Andrews

Story Teller: Cornelia Andrews

Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: Date Stamp "JUN 7 1937"]


An interview on May 21, 1937 with Cornelia Andrews of

Smithfield, Johnston County, who is 87 years old.

De fust marster dat I 'members wuz Mr. Cute Williams an' he wuz a good

marster, but me an' my mammy an' some of de rest of 'em wuz sold to

Doctor McKay Vaden who wuz not good ter us.

Doctor Vaden owned a good-sized plantation, but he had just eight

slaves. We had plank houses, but we ain't had much food an' clothes. We

wored shoes wid wooden bottom in de winter an' no shoes in de summer. We

ain't had much fun, nothin' but candy pullin's 'bout onct a year. We

ain't raised no cane but marster buyed one barrel of 'lasses fer candy

eber year.

Yo' know dat dar wuz a big slave market in Smithfield dem days, dar wuz

also a jail, an' a whippin' post. I 'members a man named Rough somethin'

or other, what bought forty er fifty slaves at de time an' carried 'em

ter Richmond to re-sell. He had four big black horses hooked ter a cart,

an' behind dis cart he chained de slaves, an' dey had ter walk, or trot

all de way ter Richmond. De little ones Mr. Rough would throw up in de

cart an' off dey'd go no'th. Dey said dat der wuz one day at Smithfield

dat three hundret slaves wuz sold on de block. Dey said dat peoples came

from fer an' near, eben from New Orleans ter dem slave sales. Dey said

dat way 'fore I wuz borned dey uster strip dem niggers start naked an'

gallop' em ober de square so dat de buyers could see dat dey warn't

scarred nor deformed.

While I could 'member dey'd sell de mammies 'way from de babies, an'

dere wuzn't no cryin' 'bout it whar de marster would know 'bout it

nother. Why? Well, dey'd git beat black an' blue, dat's why.

Wuz I eber beat bad? No mam, I wuzn't.

(Here the daughter, a graduate of Cornell University, who was in the

room listening came forward. "Open your shirt, mammy, and let the lady

judge for herself." The old ladies eyes flashed as she sat bolt upright.

She seemed ashamed, but the daughter took the shirt off, exposing the

back and shoulders which were marked as though branded with a plaited

cowhide whip. There was no doubt of that at all.)

"I wuz whupped public," she said tonelessly, "for breaking dishes an'

'bein' slow. I wuz at Mis' Carrington's den, an' it wuz jist 'fore de

close o' de war. I wuz in de kitchen washin' dishes an' I draps one. De

missus calls Mr. Blount King, a patteroller, an' he puts de whuppin' yo'

sees de marks of on me. My ole missus foun' it out an' she comed an' got


A friend of the interviewer who was present remarked, "That must have

been horrible to say the least."

"Yo' 'doan know nothin," the old Negro blazed. "Alex Heath, a slave wuz

beat ter death, hyar in Smithfield. He had stold something, dey tells

me, anyhow he wuz sentenced ter be put ter death, an' de folkses dar in

charge 'cided ter beat him ter death. Dey gib him a hundret lashes fer

nine mornin's an' on de ninth mornin' he died."

"My uncle Daniel Sanders, wuz beat till he wuz cut inter gashes an' he

wuz tu be beat ter death lak Alex wuz, but one day atter dey had beat

him an' throwed him back in jail wid out a shirt he broke out an' runned

away. He went doun in de riber swamp an' de blow flies blowed de gashes

an' he wuz unconscious when a white man found him an' tuk him home wid

him. He died two or three months atter dat but he neber could git his

body straight ner walk widout a stick; he jist could drag."

"I 'specks dat I doan know who my pappy wuz, maybe de stock nigger on de

plantation. My pappy an' mammy jist stepped ober de broom an' course I

doan know when. Yo' knows dey ain't let no little runty nigger have no

chilluns. Naw sir, dey ain't, dey operate on dem lak dey does de male

hog so's dat dey can't have no little runty chilluns."

"Some of de marsters wuz good an' some of dem wuz bad. I wuz glad ter be

free an' I lef' der minute I finds out dat I is free. I ain't got no

kick a-comin' not none at all. Some of de white folkses wuz slaves, ter

git ter de United States an' we niggers ain't no better, I reckons."

Cordelia Thomas Cornelia Ishmon facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail