Ellen Trell

N.C. District: No. 2

Worker: T. Pat Matthews

No. Words: 740


Person Interviewed: Ellen Trell

Editor: G.L. Andrews

[TR: Date stamp: SEP 10 1937]


Age 73

20 McKee St., Raleigh, North Carolina.

"Needham Price owned about fifty slaves, and mother an' I were among

that number. He was a very rich man, and owned a large plantation in

Wake County, N.C., near the town of Knightdale.

"My father belonged to Tom Bodie way down in Edgecombe County, and

mother and I went by the name of Bodie. My father's given name was

Haywood. Mother's name was Caroline. The fare was bad in regard to food

and clothing, but the slave quarters, though small and shanty-like in

appearance, were warm an' dry. The rules were strick and the privileges

few. Mother was whipped and scarred by the lash so bad the scars were

on her when she died. I have seen them many times.

"There were no books of any kind allowed the slaves and no social

gatherings tolerated. Slaves were allowed to go to the white folks

church and at times all slaves were carried to services at the church.

The preacher told them to obey their marsters and missuses, that the

Bible said obey.

"Marster lived in a large house with fourteen rooms, which the slaves

called the big house. He had four house servants to do his and missus

bidding. They were 'specially trained as Marster did a lot of

entertaining in slavery time. Marster and missus had a lot of parties

where they served a lot of good food and various kinds of liquors to

their guests. When marster was in his cups he was mighty rough, and any

of the slaves who displeased him at these times were liable to get a


"I have heard a lot of talk about ghosts and witches among the colored

folks. I have seen a few who had spells put on them by witches. My

mother had a spell put on her and she lay in bed talking to herself and

sweating draps of sweat as big as the end of my finger. She would groan

and say, 'go away evil spirit, go away,' but the spell would not leave

her until she went to a white witch-doctor and got cured.

"After the surrender father came up from Edgecombe County and he and

mother went and worked with Mr. Ruth Dunn of Wake County. They stayed

close, never going out of the county. Mother, after a year of [HW:

circle around "of"] two at Mr. Dunn's, began to think about goin' back

home. She was free and though her ole marster had treated her rough she

loved the missus and said she rather stay with marster Price than

anyone else. Father went to see Mr. Price. He told him to tell Caroline

to come on back home and that he shure better bring her back. Mother

said when she got back home they all had a general good time cooking,

eating, and laughing. Marster tole her he never wanted her to leave him

again. Mother said she was so full of gladness she could not reply so

she just stood there and cried. Marster walked off. Mother took charge

of the house and father jist about took possession of the farm. He

looked after the stock, all the farm tools, kept plenty of wood on the

wood pile all the year roun'.

"Father and mother carried the keys and acted like the place belonged

to them. They got most of the slaves who were agreeable to come back.

Marster gave them work and he loafed and prospered. Because he trusted

the Negroes so much they felt the responsibility put upon them, and

they worked for his interests.

"Mother and father stayed there until they died. I stayed with father

and mother until I married Badger Farrell then we stayed in a cabin on

the plantation several years. Most of my life was spent near

Knightdale, Wake County, until my husband died fifteen years ago. I had

eight children, four girls and four boys. They are all dead except one,

a boy, whom I have lived with in Raleigh since my husband died.

"I think slavery was a bad thing. This story is the things my mother

and father told me of slavery and my own observations since I became

old enough to remember the general happenings. Mother said the place

which had been a place of torture in slavery days turned out to be a

haven of rest after slavery, a home where peace, plenty and contentment

reigned supreme."


Ellen Swindler Ellie Hamilton facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail