Elijah Green


Project #1655

Augustus Ladson

Charleston, S.C.

Page I

No. Words: 1497



"I was bo'n in Charleston at 82 King Street, December 25, 1843. The

house is still there who' recent owner is Judge Whaley. My ma an' pa was

Kate an' John Green. My ma had seben chillun (boys) an I am the last of

'em. Their names was: Henry, Scipio, Ellis, Nathaniel, Hobart, Mikell,

an' myself.

"From the South-East of Calhoun Street, which was then Boundry Street, to

the Battery was the city limit an' from the North-West of Boundry Street

for sev'als miles was nothin' but fa'm land. All my brothers was fa'm

han's for our master, George W. Jones. I did all the house work 'til the

war w'en I was given to Mr. Wm. Jones's son, Wm. H. Jones as his "daily

give servant" who' duty was to clean his boots, shoes, sword, an' make

his coffee. He was Firs' Lieutenant of the South Car'lina Company

Regiment. Bein' his servant, I wear all his cas' off clothes which I was

glad to have. My shoes was call' brogan that has brass on the toe. W'en

a slave had one of 'em you couldn't tell 'em he wasn't dress' to death.

"As the "daily give servant" of Mr. Wm. H. Jones I had to go to Virginia

durin' the war. In the battle at Richmond Gen'al Lee had Gen'al Grant

almos' beaten. He drive him almos' in the Potomac River, an' then take

seven pieces of his artillery. W'en Gen'al Grant see how near defeat he

was, he put up a white flag as a signal for time out to bury his deads.

That flag stay' up for three weeks while Gen'al Grant was diggin'

trenches. In the meantime he get message to President Lincoln askin' him

to sen' a reinforcement of sojus. Gen'al Sherman was in charge of the

regiment who sen' word to Gen'al Grant to hol' his position 'til he had

captur' Columbia, Savannah, burn out Charleston while on his way with

dispatch of 45,000 men. W'en Gen'al Sherman got to Virginia, the battle

was renew' an' continued for seven days at the en' of which Gen'al Lee

surrender' to Gen'al Grant. Durin' the seven days fight the battle got

so hot 'til Mr. William Jones made his escape an' it was two days 'fore

I know he was gone. One of the Gen'als sen' me home an' I got here two

days 'fore Mr. William got home. He went up in the attic an' stay' there

'til the war was end'. I carry all his meals to him an' tell him all the

news. Master show was a frighten' man; I was sorry for him. That battle

at Richmond, Virginia was the wors' in American history.

Dr. George W. Jones, my master, ran a blockade. He had ships roamin' the

sea to capture pirates ships. He had a daughter, Ellen, who was always

kin' to the slaves. Master had a driver, William Jenkins, an' an' a'

overseer, Henry Brown. Both was white. The driver see that the work was

done by the supervision of the overseer. Master' fa'm amounted to

twenty-five acres with 'bout eighteen slaves. The overseer blow the

ho'n, which was a conch shell, at six in the mornin' an' every slave

better answer w'en the roll was call' at seven. The slaves didn't have

have to work on Sat'day.

Mr. Ryan had a private jail on Queen Street near the Planters Hotel. He

was very cruel; he'd lick his slaves to death. Very seldom one of his

slaves survive' a whippin'. He was the opposite to Govenor Aiken, who

live' on the North-West corner of Elizabeth an' Judith Streets. He had

several rice plantations, hundreds of his slaves he didn't know.

Not 'til John C. Calhoun' body was carried down Boundry Street was the

name change' in his honor. He is bury in St. Phillip Church yard, 'cross

the street with a laurel tree planted at his head. Four men an' me dig

his grave an' I clear' the spot w'ere his monument now stan'. The

monument was put up by Pat Callington, a Charleston mason. I never did

like Calhoun 'cause he hated the Negro; no man was ever hated as much as

him by a group of people.

The Work House (Sugar House) was on Magazine Street, built by Mr.

Columbus C. Trumbone. On Charlmer Street is the slave market from which

slaves was taken to Vangue Range an' auctione' off. At the foot of

Lawrence Street, opposite East Bay Street, on the other side of the

trolly tracks is w'ere Mr. Alonze White kept an' sell slaves from his

kitchen. He was a slave-broker who had a house that exten' almos' to the

train tracks which is 'bout three hundred yards goin' to the waterfront.

No train or trolly tracks was there then 'cause there was only one

railroad here, the Southern, an' the depot was on Ann Street w'ere the

Baggin' Mill now is.

W'en slaves run away an' their masters catch them, to the stockade they

go w'ere they'd be whipp' every other week for a number of mornins. An'

de for God sake don' you be cotch with pencil an' paper, dat was a major

crime. You might as well had kill your master or missus.

One song I know I use to sing to the slaves w'en master went 'way, but I

wouldn't be so fool as to let him hear me. What I kin 'member of it is:

Master gone away

But darkies stay at home,

The year of jubilee is come

An' freedom will begun.

A group of white men was in Doctor Wilson' drug store one day w'en I

went to buy something. They commence' to ax me questions concernin' some

historical happenin's an' I answer them all. So Dr. Wilson bet 'me that

I couldn't tell who fired the firs' shot on Fort Sumter. I tell him I

did know an' he offer's dollar if I was right. I tell him I wasn't goin'

tell 'less the dollar was given to one of the men. He did so an' I told

them it was Edward Ruffin who fired the firs' shot an' the dollar was

mine. Anderson was determine' not to leave the fort but w'en 'bout four

shells had hit the fort he was glad to be able to come out. W'en Sherman

was comin' through Columbia, he fired an' a shell lodged in the

South-East en' ef the State House which was forbidden to be fix'. He was

comin' down Main Street w'en that happens'.

The firs' two people that was hung in Charleston was Harry an' Janie;

husban' an' wife who was slaves of Mr. Christopher Black. Mr. Black had

them whip' an' they planned to kill the whole fambly. They poison the

breakast one morning an' if two of the fambly han' been sleep, they too

would a been dead. The others die almos' instantly. An investigation was

made an' the poison discovered an the two slaves hung on the big oak in

the middle of Ashley Avenue.

If'en any in your owner' fambly was goin' to be married the slaves was

dress' in linen clothes to witness the ceremony. Only special slaves was

chosen to be at the weddin'. Slaves was alway ax how they like' the one

who was comin' in the [TN: two illegible words.] myself by sayin' nice things

'bout the person en hate' the person at the same time.

Slaves was always bury in the night as no one could stop to do it in the

day. Ole boards was use' to make the coffin that was blackened with shoe


After the war I did garden work.

Mr. Stiles Bee on James Islan' give track of lan' to the Negroes for a

school jus' after the war; he put up a shed-like buildin' with a few

chairs in it. It was at the place call Cut Bridge.

Henry McKinley, a Negro who ran as congressman from Charleston jus'

after the war, lived on Calhoun Street. He was a mail carrier. He made

an oath to Almighty God that if he was elected, he'd never betray his

trus'. In one of his speeches he said: "I hope God 'ill paralize me

should I do as others have done." He was elected an' never see the

Congress. One white man from Orangeburg, Samuel Dibbin, bought him out.

An' three weeks later McKinley took a stroke that carry him to a' early

grave. James Wright, a Negro judge of Charleston in 1876 sol' out for

ten thousand dollars--a dime of which he hasn't receive' yet. He 'cross

the bridge an' stay in a' ole house an' die there. The Probate Judge, A.

Whipper, refused to give up the books of Judge Wright to the white man

he sell out to. Judge Whipper went in Beauford jail an' die there 'cause

he wouldn't give up the books. Wright kept such a poor record that Judge

Whipper was ashamed to have them expose', an' that's why he didn't give

up the books. Henry Smalls, owner of the Smalls Lot on Comin' Street was

Second Lieutenant on the Police Force. Henry Fordham was Second

Assistant Lieutenant. Captain James Williams, Third Assistant Lieutenant

who become Captain of the Military Department an' forme' the Carolina

Light Infantry which was recogniz' 'til Ben Tillman call' them on the

Green an' take their guns.

I was janitor at Benedict College in Columbia for two years an' at

Clafflin in Orangeburg for twelve. The Presidents under which I worke'

was: Allen Webster, grandson of the dictionary maker; J.C. Cook; an' Dr.


Now all that is pass' an I'm livin' from han' to mouth. The banks took

all my money an' I can't work. I do the collectin' for my lan'lord an'

he give me a room free. If it wasn't for that I don't know what I'd do.


Interview with Elijah Green, 156 Elizabeth Street, Charleston, S.C.

Elige Davison Elijah Henry Hopkins facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail