Ed Barber

Project #1655

W. W. Dixon

Winnsboro, S. C.



Ed Barber lives in a small one-room house in the midst of a cotton field

on the plantation of Mr. A. M. Owens, ten miles southeast of Winnsboro,

S. C. He lives alone and does his own cooking and housekeeping. He is a

bright mulatto, has an erect carriage and posture, appears younger than

his age, is intelligent and enjoys recounting the tales of his lifetime.

His own race doesn't give him much countenance. His friends in the old

days of reconstruction were white people. He presumes on such past

affiliation and considers himself better than the full-blooded Negro.

"It's been a long time since I see you. Maybe you has forgot but I ain't

forgot de fust time I put dese lookers on you, in '76. Does you 'members

dat day? It was in a piece of pines beyond de Presbyterian Church, in

Winnsboro, S. C. Us both had red shirts. You was a ridin' a gray pony

and I was a ridin' a red mule, sorrel like. You say dat wasn't '76?

Well, how come it wasn't? Ouillah Harrison, another nigger, was dere,

though he was a man. Both of us got to arguin'. He 'low he could vote

for Hampton and I couldn't, 'cause I wasn't 21. You say it was '78

'stead of '76, dat day in de pines when you was dere? Well! Well! I sho'

been thinkin' all dis time it was '76.

"'Member de fight dat day when Mr. Pole Barnadore knock Mr. Blanchard

down, while de speakin' was a gwine on? You does? Well, us come to

common 'greement on dat, bless God!

"Them was scary times! Me bein' just half nigger and half white man, I

knowed which side de butter was on de bread. Who I see dere? Well, dere

was a string of red shirts a mile long, dat come into Winnsboro from

White Oak. And another from Flint Hill, over de Pea Ferry road, a mile

long. De bar-rooms of de town did a big business dat day. Seem lak it

was de fashion to git drunk all 'long them days.

"Them red shirts was de monkey wrench in de cotton-gin of de carpet bag

party. I's here to tell you. If a nigger git hungry, all he have to do

is go to de white folk's house, beg for a red shirt, and explain hisself

a democrat. He might not git de shirt right then but he git his belly

full of everything de white folks got, and de privilege of comin' to dat

trough sometime agin.

"You wants me to tell you 'bout who I is, where I born, and how old I

is? Well, just cross examine me and I'll tell you de facts as best I

knows how.

"I was born twelve miles east of Winnsboro, S. C. My marster say it was

de 18th of January, 1860.

"My mother name Ann. Her b'long to my marster, James Barber. Dat's not a

fair question when you ask me who my daddy was. Well, just say he was a

white man and dat my mother never did marry nobody, while he lived. I

was de onliest child my mother ever had.

"After freedom my mother raised me on de Marse Adam Barber place, up by

Rocky Mount and Mitford. I stayed dere 'til all de 'citement of politics

die down. My help was not wanted so much at de 'lection boxes, so I got

to roamin' 'round to fust one place and then another. But wheresomever I

go, I kept a thinkin' 'bout Rosa and de ripe may-pops in de field in

cotton pickin' time. I landed back to de Barber place and after a

skirmish or two wid de old folks, marry de gal de Lord always 'tended

for me to marry. Her name was Rosa Ford. You ask me if she was pretty?

Dat's a strange thing. Do you ever hear a white person say a colored

woman is pretty? I never have but befo' God when I was trampin' 'round

Charleston, dere was a church dere called St. Mark, dat all de society

folks of my color went to. No black nigger welcome dere, they told me.

Thinkin' as how I was bright 'nough to git in, I up and goes dere one

Sunday. Ah, how they did carry on, bow and scrape and ape de white

folks. I see some pretty feathers, pretty fans, and pretty women dere! I

was uncomfortable all de time though, 'cause they was too 'hifalootin'

in de ways, in de singin', and all sorts of carryin' ons.

"Glad you fetch me back to Rosa. Us marry and had ten chillun. Francis,

Thompkins, William, Jim, Levi, Ab and Oz is dead. Katie marry a Boykin

and is livin' in New York. My wife, Rosa, die on dis place of Mr. Owens.

"I lives in a house by myself. I hoes a little cotton, picks plums and

blackberries but dewberries 'bout played out.

"My marster, James Barber, went through de Civil War and died. I begs

you, in de name of de good white folks of '76 and Wade Hampton, not to

forget me in dis old age pension business.

"What I think of Abe Lincoln? I think he was a poor buckra white man, to

de likes of me. Although, I 'spects Mr. Lincoln meant well but I can't

help but wish him had continued splittin' them fence rails, which they

say he knowed all 'bout, and never took a hand in runnin' de government

of which he knowed nothin' 'bout. Marse Jeff Davis was all right, but

him oughta got out and fought some, lak General Lee, General Jackson and

'Poleon Bonaparte. Us might have won de war if he had turned up at some

of de big battles lak Gettysburg, 'Chickenmaroger', and 'Applemattox'.

What you think 'bout dat?

"Yes sah, I has knowed a whole lot of good white men. Marse General

Bratton, Marse Ed P. Mobley, Marse Will Durham, dat owned dis house us

now settin' in, and Dr. Henry Gibson. Does I know any good colored men?

I sho' does! Dere's Professor Benjamin Russell at Blackstock. You knows

him. Then dere was Ouillah Harrison, dat own a four-hoss team and a

saddle hoss, in red shirt days. One time de brass band at Winnsboro, S.

C. wanted to go to Camden, S. C. to play at de speakin' of Hampton. He

took de whole band from Winnsboro to Camden, dat day, free of charge.

Ah! De way dat band did play all de way to Ridgeway, down de road to

Longtown, cross de Camden Ferry, and right into de town. Dere was horns

a blowin', drums a beatin', and people a shoutin': 'Hurrah for Hampton!'

Some was a singin': 'Hang Dan Chamberlain on a Sour Apple Tree'. Ouillah

come home and found his wife had done had a boy baby. What you reckon?

He name dat boy baby, Wade Hampton. When he come home to die, he lay his

hand on dat boy's head and say: 'Wade, 'member who you name for and

always vote a straight out democrat ticket'. Which dat boy did!"

Ed Allen Des Arc Interviewed By Miss Irene Robertson Eda Harper facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail