Fanny Randolph

[HW: Dist. 1

Ex-Slave #90]


Jefferson, Georgia





DATE: MARCH 29, 1937

[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

Perhaps the oldest ex-slave living today is found in Jefferson, Georgia.

Fanny Randolph is a little old wrinkled-faced woman, but at the time of

our visit she was very neat in a calico dress and a white apron with a

bandanna handkerchief around her head.

We saw her at the home of a niece with whom she lives, all of her own

family being dead. Her room was tidy, and she had a bright log fire

burning in the wide old fire place. She readily consented to talk about

slavery times.

"Honey, I doan know how ole I is, but I'se been here er long time and

I'se been told by folks whut knows, dat I'se, maybe, mo' dan er hunderd

years ole. I 'members back er long time befo' de war. My mammy and daddy

wuz bofe slaves. My daddy's name wuz Daniel White an' my mammy's name

befo' she married wuz Sarah Moon, she b'longed ter Marse Bob Moon who

lived in Jackson County over near whar Winder is now. He wuz er big

landowner an' had lots uv slaves."

"When I wuz 'bout nine years ole, Marse Bob tuk me up ter de "big house"

ter wait on ole Mistis. I didn't hav' much ter do, jes' had ter he'p 'er

dress an' tie 'er shoes an' run eroun' doin' errands fur 'er. Yer know,

in dem times, de white ladies had niggers ter wait on 'em an' de big

niggers done all de hard wuk 'bout de house an' yard."

"Atter some years my mammy an' daddy bofe died, so I jes' stayed at de

"big house" an' wukked on fer Marse Bob an' ole Mistis."

"Atter I growed up, us niggers on Marse Bob's plantation had big times

at our corn shuckin's an' dances. Us 'ud all git tergether at one uv de

cabins an us 'ud have er big log fire an' er room ter dance in. Den when

us had all shucked corn er good while ever nigger would git his gal an'

dey would be some niggers over in de corner ter play fer de dance, one

wid er fiddle an' one ter beat straws, an' one wid er banjo, an' one ter

beat bones, an' when de music 'ud start up (dey gener'ly played 'Billy

in de Low Grounds' or 'Turkey in de Straw') us 'ud git on de flo'. Den

de nigger whut called de set would say: 'All join hands an' circle to de

lef, back to de right, swing corners, swing partners, all run away!' An'

de way dem niggers feets would fly!"

"Bye an' bye de war come on, an' all de men folks had ter go an' fight

de Yankees, so us wimmen folks an' chillun had er hard time den caze us

all had ter look atter de stock an' wuk in de fiel's. Den us 'ud hear

all 'bout how de Yankees wuz goin' aroun' an' skeerin' de wimmen folks

mos' ter death goin' in dey houses an' making de folks cook 'em stuff

ter eat, den tearin' up an' messin' up dey houses an' den marchin' on


"Den when ole Mistis 'ud hear de Yankees wuz comin' she'd call us

niggers en us 'ud take all de china, silver, and de joolry whut b'longed

ter ole Miss an' her family an' dig deep holes out b'hind de smoke-house

or under de big house, en bury h'it all 'tell de Yankees 'ud git by."

"Dem wuz dark days, but atter er long time de war wuz over an' dey tole

us us wuz free, I didn't want ter leave my white folks so I stayed on

fer sometime, but atter while de nigger come erlong whut I married. His

name wuz Tom Randolph an' befo' de war he b'longed ter Marse Joshua

Randolph, who lived at Jefferson, so den us moved ter Jefferson. Us had

thirteen chillun, but dey's all daid now an' my ole man is daid too, so

I'se here all by my se'f an' ef h'it warn't fer my two nieces here, who

lets me liv' wid 'em I doan know whut I'd do."

"I'se allus tried ter do de right thin' an' de good Lawd is takin' keer

uv me fer his prophet say in de Good Book, 'I'se been young and now am

ole, yet I'se nebber seed de righteous fersaken ner his seed beggin'

bread!' So I ain't worryin' 'bout sumpin' ter eat, but I doan want ter

stay here much longer onless h'its de good Lawds will."

Asked if she was superstitious, she said: "Well when I wuz young, I

reckin' I wuz, but now my pore ole mine is jes so tired and h'it doan

wuk lak h'it uster, so I never does think much 'bout superstition, but I

doan lak ter heer er "squinch owl" holler in de night, fer h'it sho is a

sign some uv yore folks is goin' ter die, en doan brin' er ax froo de

house onless yer take h'it back de same way yer brung h'it in, fer dat

'ill kill de bad luck."

When asked if she believed in ghosts or could "see sights" she said:

"Well, Miss, yer know if yer is borned wid er veil over yer face yer can

see sights but I has never seed any ghosts er sight's, I warn't born dat

way, but my niece, here has seed ghostes, en she can tell yer 'bout


When we were ready to leave we said, "Well, Aunt Fanny, we hope you live

for many more years." She replied: "I'se willin' ter go on livin' ez

long ez de Marster wants me ter, still I'se ready when de summons comes.

De good Lawd has allus giv' me grace ter liv' by, an' I know He'll giv'

me dyin' grace when my time comes."

Fanny Nix Fanny Smith Hodges facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail