Emmaline Kilpatrick

[HW: Dist 1

Ex-Slave #62]



Born a slave on the plantation of

Judge William Watson Moore,

White Plains, (Greene County) Georgia



[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

One morning in October, as I finished planting hyacinth bulbs on my

cemetery lot, I saw an old negro woman approaching. She was Emmaline

Kilpatrick, born in 1863, on my grandfather's plantation.

"Mawnin' Miss Sarah," she began, "Ah seed yer out hyar in de graveyard,

en I cum right erlong fer ter git yer ter read yo' Aunt Willie's

birthday, offen her toomstone, en put it in writin' fer me."

"I don't mind doing that for you, Emmaline," I replied, "but why do you

want to know my aunt's birthday?"

"Well," answered the old ex-slave, "I can't rightly tell mah age no

udder way. My mammy, she tole me, I wuz bawned de same night ez Miss

Willie wuz, en mammy allus tole me effen I ever want ter know how ole I

is, jes' ask my white folks how ole Miss Willie is."

When I had pencilled the birthdate on a scrap of paper torn from my note

book and she had tucked it carefully away in a pocket in her clean blue

checked gingham apron, Emmaline began to talk of the old days on my

grandfather's farm.

"Miss Sarah, Ah sho did love yo' aunt Willie. We wuz chilluns growin' up

tergedder on Marse Billie's place. You mought not know it, but black

chilluns gits grown heap faster den white chilluns, en whilst us played

'round de yard, en orchards, en pastures out dar, I wuz sposed ter take

care er Miss Willie en not let her git hurt, er nuthin' happen ter her."

"My mammy say dat whan Marse Billie cum hom' frum de War, he call all

his niggers tergedder en tell 'am dey is free, en doan b'long ter nobody

no mo'. He say dat eny uf 'um dat want to, kin go 'way and live whar dey

laks, en do lak dey wanter. Howsome ebber, he do say effen enybody wants

ter stay wid him, en live right on in de same cabins, dey kin do it,

effen dey promise him ter be good niggers en mine him lak dey allus


"Most all de niggers stayed wid Marse Billie, 'ceppen two er thee brash,

good fer nuthin's."

Standing there in the cemetery, as I listened to old Emmaline tell of

the old days, I could see cotton being loaded on freight cars at the

depot. I asked Emmaline to tell what she could remember of the days whan

we had no railroad to haul the cotton to market.

"Well," she said, "Fore dis hyar railroad wuz made, dey hauled de cotton

ter de Pint (She meant Union Point) en sold it dar. De Pint's jes' 'bout

twelve miles fum hyar. Fo' day had er railroad thu de Pint, Marse Billie

used ter haul his cotton clear down ter Jools ter sell it. My manny say

dat long fo' de War he used ter wait twel all de cotton wuz picked in de

fall, en den he would have it all loaded on his waggins. Not long fo'

sundown he wud start de waggins off, wid yo' unker Anderson bossin' 'em,

on de all night long ride towards Jools. 'Bout fo' in de mawnin' Marse

Billie en yo' grammaw, Miss Margie, 'ud start off in de surrey, driving

de bays, en fo' dem waggins git ter Jools Marse Billie done cotch up wid

em. He drive er head en lead em on ter de cotton mill in Jools, whar he

sell all his cotton. Den him en Miss Margie, dey go ter de mill sto' en

buy white sugar en udder things dey doan raise on de plantation, en load

'em on de waggins en start back home."

"But Emmaline," I interrupted, "Sherman's army passed through Jewels and

burned the houses and destroyed the property there. How did the people

market their cotton then?"

Emmaline scratched her head. "Ah 'members somepin 'bout dat," she

declared. "Yassum, I sho' does 'member my mammy sayin' dat folks sed

when de Fed'rals wuz bunnin' up evvy thing 'bout Jools, dey wuz settin'

fire ter de mill, when de boss uv dem sojers look up en see er sign up

over er upstairs window. Hit wuz de Mason's sign up day, kaze dat wuz de

Mason's lodge hall up over de mill. De sojer boss, he meks de udder

sojers put out de fire. He say him er Mason hisself en he ain' gwine see

nobuddy burn up er Masonic Hall. Dey kinder tears up some uv de fixin's

er de Mill wuks, but dey dassent burn down de mill house kaze he ain't

let 'em do nuthin' ter de Masonic Hall. Yar knows, Miss Sarah, Ah wuz

jes' 'bout two years ole when dat happen, but I ain't heered nuffin'

'bout no time when dey didden' take cotton ter Jools ever year twel de

railroad come hyar."

"Did yer ax me who mah'ed my maw an paw? Why, Marse Billie did, cose he

did! He wuz Jedge Moore, Marse Billie wuz, en he wone gwine hev no

foolis'mant 'mongst 'is niggers. Fo' de War en durin' de War, de niggers

went ter de same church whar dare white folks went. Only de niggers, dey

set en de gallery."

"Marse Billie made all his niggers wuk moughty hard, but he sho' tuk

good keer uv 'em. Miss Margie allus made 'em send fer her when de

chilluns wuz bawned in de slave cabins. My mammy, she say, Ise 'bout de

onliest slave baby Miss Margie diden' look after de bawnin, on dat

plantation. When any nigger on dat farm wuz sick, Marse Billie seed dat

he had medicine an lookin' atter, en ef he wuz bad sick Marse Billie had

da white folks doctor come see 'bout 'im."

"Did us hev shoes? Yas Ma'am us had shoes. Dat wuz all ole Pegleg wuz

good fer, jes ter mek shoes, en fix shoes atter dey wuz 'bout ter give

out. Pegleg made de evvy day shoes for Marse Billie's own chilluns,

'cept now en den Marse Billie fetched 'em home some sto' bought shoes

fun Jools."

"Yassum, us sho' wuz skeered er ghosts. Dem days when de War won't long

gone, niggers sho' wus skert er graveyards. Mos' evvy nigger kep' er

rabbit foot, kaze ghosties wone gwine bodder nobuddy dat hed er lef'

hind foot frum er graveyard rabbit. Dem days dar wuz mos' allus woods

'round de graveyards, en it uz easy ter ketch er rabbit az he loped

outer er graveyard. Lawsy, Miss Sarah, dose days Ah sho' wouldn't er

been standin' hyar in no graveyard talkin' ter ennybody, eben in wide

open daytime."

"En you ax wuz dey enny thing else uz wuz skert uv? Yassum, us allus did

git moughty oneasy ef er scritch owl hollered et night. Pappy ud hop

right out er his bed en stick de fire shovel en de coals. Effen he did

dat rat quick, an look over 'is lef' shoulder whilst de shovel gittin'

hot, den maybe no no nigger gwine die dat week on dat plantation. En us

nebber did lak ter fine er hawse tail hair en de hawse trough, kaze us

wuz sho' ter meet er snake fo' long."

"Yassum, us had chawms fer heap er things. Us got 'em fum er ole Injun

'oman dat lived crost de crick. Her sold us chawms ter mek de mens lak

us, en chawms dat would git er boy baby, er anudder kind er chawms effen

yer want er gal baby. Miss Margie allus scold 'bout de chawns, en mek us

shamed ter wear 'em, 'cept she doan mine ef us wear asserfitidy chawms

ter keep off fevers, en she doan say nuffin when my mammy wear er nutmeg

on a wool string 'round her neck ter keep off de rheumatiz.

"En is you got ter git on home now, Miss Sarah? Lemme tote dat hoe en

trowel ter yer car fer yer. Yer gwine ter take me home in yer car wid

yer, so ez I kin weed yer flower gyarden fo' night? Yassum, I sho' will

be proud ter do it fer de black dress you wo' las' year. Ah gwine ter

git evvy speck er grass outer yo' flowers, kaze ain' you jes' lak yo'

grammaw--my Miss Margie."

Emmaline Heard Emmett Augasta Byrd facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail