Edwin Driskell

[HW: Isaac (Isaiah) Green]

Edwin Driskell


Following is the account of slavery as told by Mr. Isaac Green, who

spent a part of his childhood as a slave.

"I wus born in Greene County, Georgia, eighty-one years ago. My marster

wus named Colonel Willis. He wus a rich man an' he had a whole lots o'

slaves--'bout seventy-five or more. Besides my mother an' me I had nine

sisters. I wus de younges' chile. I didn't know 'bout my father 'till

after surrender, 'cause ol' marster sold him 'way fum my mother when I

wus two years old.

"When I wus big enuff I had to go to de fiel' wid de res' o' de chillun

an' drap corn an' peas. We'd take our heels an' dent a place in de

groun' an' in every dent we had to drap two peas. Sometimes we'd make a

mistake an' drap three seeds instead o' two an' if we did dis too often

it meant de strap fum de overseer. On our plantation we had a colored

an' a white overseer.

"My ol' marster never did whup me an' he didn't 'low none o' de

overseers to whup me either. He always say: 'Dat's my nigger--I sol' his

father when I coulda saved him--he wus de bes' man I had on de

plantation.' De rest o' de slaves uster git whuppins sometimes fer not

workin' like dey should. When dey didn't work or some other little thing

like dat dey would git twenty-five or fifty lashes but de marster would

tell de overseer: 'Don't you cut my nigger's hide or scar him.' You see

if a slave wus scarred he wouldn't bring as much as one with a smooth

hide in case de marster wanted to sell 'im, 'cause de buyers would see

de scars an' say dat he wus a bad nigger.

"Sometimes de women uster git whuppins fer fightin'. Ol' marster uster

tell my mother all de time dat he wus goin' to give her one-hundred

lashes if she didn't stop fightin', but he never did do it though. My

grandmother never did git whupped. Colonel Black, her first marster,

wus her father an' when he went broke he had to sell her. When he went

broke he put her on de block--in dem days dey put slaves on de block to

sell 'em jes' like dey do horses an' mules now--he say to de gentlemen

gathered 'roun: 'Dis is my nigger an' my chile; she is a midwife an' a

extraordinary weaver an' whoever buys her has got to promise to treat

her like a white chile.' My marster bought her an' he treated her like

she wus white, too. He never did try to hit her an' he wouldn't let

nobody else hit her.

"We always had a plenty to eat an' if we didn't we'd go out in

somebody's pasture an' kill a hog or sheep an' clean him by a branch an'

den hide de meat in de woods or in de loft of de house. Some of de white

folks would learn you how to steal fum other folks. Sometimes ol'

marster would say to one o' us: 'Blast you--you better go out an' hunt

me a hog tonight an' put it in my smokehouse---dey can search you

niggers' houses but dey can't search mine.'

"Once a week de marster give us three pounds of pork, a half gallon o'

syrup, an' a peck o' meal. You had to have a garden connected wid yo'

house fer yo' vegetables. De marster would let you go out in de woods

an' cut you as large a space as you wanted. If you failed to plant, it

wus jes' yo' bad luck. If you wanted to you could sell de corn or de

tobacco or anything else dat you raised to de marster an' he would pay

you. 'Course he wusn't goin' to pay you too much fer it.

"All de slaves had to work---my mother wus a plow han'. All de aged men

an' women had to tend to de hogs an' de cows an' do de weavin' an' de

sewin'. Sometimes ol' marster would let us have a frolic an' we could

dance all night if we wanted to as long as we wus ready to go to de

fiel' when de overseer blowed de bugle 'fo day nex' mornin'. De fiel'

han's had to git up early enuff to fix dey breakfas' befo' dey went to

de fiel'. We chillun took dinner to 'em at twelve o'clock. We used

baskets to take de dinner in, an' large pails to take de milk in. Dey

had to fix supper fer dey selves when dey lef' de fiel' at dark.

"All de clothes we wore wuz made on de plantation. De women had to card,

spin an' weave de thread an' den when de cloth wuz made it wuz dyed wid

berries. My step-father wuz de shoemaker on de plantation an' we always

had good shoes. He beat ol' marster out o' 'bout fifteen years work.

When he didn't feel like workin' he would play like he wuz sick an' ol'

marster would git de doctor for him. When anybody got sick dey always

had de doctor to tend to him."

Regarding houses, Mr. Green says: "We lived in log houses dat had wood

floors. Dere wuz one window an' a large fireplace where de cookin' wuz

done in de ashes. De chinks in de walls wuz daubed wid mud to keep de

weather out. De beds wuz made by hand an' de mattresses wuz big tickin's

stuffed wid straw."

Continuing he says: "Yo' actual treatment depended on de kind o' marster

you had. A heap o' folks done a heap better in slavery dan dey do now.

Everybody on our plantation wuz glad when de Yankee soldiers tol' us we

wuz free."

Edwin Driscoll El Byrd facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail