Ellen Godfrey

Project #-1655

Mrs. Genevieve W. Chandler

Murrells Inlet, S.C.

Georgetown County




(Verbatim Conversation)

(Aunt Ellen is a misfit in her present environment. Born at Longwood

Plantation on Waccamaw in 1837, all she knows is the easy, quiet life of

the country. And the busy, bustling 'RACE PATH' near which her Grandson

lives with whom she makes her home doesn't make a fitting frame for the

old lady. All day she sits in a porch swing and when hungry, visits a

neighbor. The neighbors (colored--all) vie with each other in trying to

make her last days happy days. She says they do her washing and provide

necessary food. When you start her off she flows on like the brook but

usually her story varies little. She tells of the old days and of the

experiences that made the greatest impression--the exciting times during

the 'Confedrick' war--the 'Reb time day.')

Visitor: "Aunt Ellen home?"

Aunt Ellen's neighbor (from the washtub):

"No'um. She right cross there on the 'Race Path'" (So called because in

Conway's early days races were run--horse races--on this street.)

Visitor: "Are you one of the neighbors who take such good care of Aunt


Neighbor: "No'um. I'm off all day. I work for Miss Bernice."

Visitor: "Miss Bernice who?"

Neighbor: "Miss Bernice something nother. I can't keep up with that lady

title! See Aunt Ellen white cap yonder?"

Aunt Ellen (Sitting on chair at back door leaning on cane.)

"I want everybody come to my birthday! Seventh o' October coming be a

hundred. Baby one dead jew (due) time! Five daughter--one sanctify

preacher. Seven one--one Ports-smith Virginia. All dead! All dead!

Marry three times; all the husband dead! My last baby child--when the

Flagg storm kill everybody on the beach, (1893) the last child I have

out my body been a year old!

"Last time I gone see the old Doctor, rap! rap! Doctor: "Come in!" Gone

in. Doctor: "Great God! Looker Aunt Ellen! For the good you take care

Daddy Harry, God left you live long time!"

Ellen: "Flat 'em all up to Marlboro! (All the slaves) Ten days or two

weeks going. PeeDee bridge, stop! Go in gentlemen barn! Turn duh bridge!

Been dere a week. Had to go and look the louse on we. Three hundred head

o' people been dere. Couldn't pull we clothes off. (On flat.) Boat name

Riprey. Woman confine on boat. Name the baby 'RIPREY!' Mama name Sibby."

(Neighbor: "Aunt Ellen been looking for you all day! Keep saying she

got to go home. A white lady coming and she got to be there!")

Aunt Ellen: "Doctor come on boat. By name Doctor Lane. White lady come

tend woman. Get to Marlboro where they gwine. Put in wagon. Carry to the

street. Major Drake Plantation. One son Pet Drake. Wife leetle bit of a


"I see Abram Lincoln son Johnny! Talk with him! Gimme tobacco. I been to

loom. Weave. Sheckle flying--flying sheckle!

(Singing): "Tech (touch) me all round my waist!

Don't tech my water-fall!

Gay gal setting on the rider fence!

Don't tech my water-fall!"

"Clothes gone to wash this morning. (Can't go today.) Clothes gone.

"I been here so long--I ax Jesus one day carry me next day! Can't make

up my bed. Like an old hog sleep on a tussick." (I always heard it 'Toad

on a tussock'--and you?)

(Four lean cats prowled about sniffing around the woodpile where a boy

was scaling some pale, dead fish.)

Visitor: "Aunt Ellen, how could you cook on the flat?"

Aunt Ellen: "Dirt bank up. Fire make on dirt. Big pot. Cook. Fry meat.

Come PeeDee get off flat. Bake. Bake. Iron oven. Stay PeeDee week. Bake.

Pile coals on oven top." (Another slave told of scaffold--four posts

buried and logs or planks across top with earth on planks. On this pile

of earth, fire was made and on great bed of coals oven could be heated

for baking. 'Oven' means the great iron skillet-like vessel with three

legs and a snug lid. This oven bakes biscuit, pound cake, and some old

timers insist on trusting only this oven for their annual fruit cake. It

works beautifully on a hearth. Put your buttermilk biscuit in, lid on

and pile live-oak coals on top. Of course only the ones who have done

this a long time know when to take the lid off.)

"Dirt camp to stay in--to hide from Yankee." (Her gestures showed earth

was mounded up.)

Visitor: "Like a potato bank? A potato hill?"

Ellen: "Dat's it! Pile 'em! Gone in dirt camp to hide we from Yankee.

Have a Street Row of house. Yankee coming. Gone in dirt camp.

"I been weave. My loom at door. Six loom on dat side! Six loom on dis

side! I see 'em coming. Hat crown high as this." (She measured off

almost half of her walking stick--which had a great, tarnished plated

silver knob.) "And I tell 'em 'Yankee coming!' I talk with Abram Lincoln

own son Johnny and, bless your heart I glad for Freedom till I fool!"


'Freedom forever!

Freedom everymore!

Want to see the Debbil run

Let the Yankee fling a ball

The Democrack will take the swamp!'

"Massa been hide. Been in swamp." (This is history. All the old men, too

old for the army, hid in Marlboro swamps and were fed by faithful slaves

until Yankees passed on. My grandmother and mother gave vivid accounts

of this--my mother telling of the sufferings of the

women--mental--worrying about her feeble old grandfather down there with

the mocassins)

Ellen: "Yankee officer come. 'Where Mahams Ward and John J. Woodward?

Come to tell 'em take dese people out the dirt camp! Put we in flat.

Carry back!' (In first story Aunt Ellen told the Yankee Captain said,

'Tell 'em be Georgetown to salute the flag!')

"Put food and chillun in flat. We been walk." (Walking back to Waccamaw)

We gone. (See 'um! See their feet like the children of Israel in Green

Pastures!) In man's house. Man say, 'Come out! You steal my turnip!'

Brush arbor. Night come. Make camp. Way down the road somewhere! Make a

big bush camp. All squeeze under there. Left Marlboro Monday. Come

Conway Friday sun down! Hit Bucksville, hit a friend. Say 'People

hungry!' Middle night. Snow on ground. Get up. Cook. Cook all night!

Rice. Bake tater. Collard. Cook. Give a quilt over you head. I sleep. I

sleep in the cotton. I roost up the cotton gone in there." (Burrowed

down in the cotton--'rooted' it up) "December. Winter time. Cook all

night. Corn-bread, baked tater, collard. Git to Bucksport, people gin to

whoop and holler! Three flat gone round wid all the vittles." (And with

the very young and very old) Easier coming home. Current helped. Going

up against the current, only poles and cant hooks--tedious going. "Git

'Tip Top' (Plantation) all right. Come home den! Git to double trunk

(rice-field trunk) at 'Tip Top' Whoop! Come bring flat! Mother Molly

dead on flat! Bury she right to Longwood grave-yard. Nuss. (nurse) Sam'l

Hemingway bury there. Horse kill 'em in thrashing mill. Child name

Egiburt bury there too. Horse gwine round in thrashing. He lick the

horse. Horse kick 'em. Whole gang white jury come!

"Sing and pray all the time. Pray your house. Pray all the time. (I wish

to God I could get some of you clam!)

"Salem Baptist? I helped build Salem! I a choir in Salem!"

Aunt Ellen Godfrey

Age 99 years 10 months

Conway, S.C.

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