Florida Clayton


American Guide, (Negro Writers' Unit)

Rachel A. Austin, Field Worker

Jacksonville, Florida

November 20, 1936


The life of Florida Clayton is interesting in that it illustrates the

miscegenation prevalent during the days of slavery. Interesting also is

the fact that Florida was not a slave even though she was a product

of those turbulent days. Many years before her birth--March 1,

1854--Florida's great grandfather, a white man, came to Tallahassee,

Florida from Washington, District of Columbia, with his children whom he

had by his Negro slave. On coming to Florida, he set all of his children

free except one boy, Amos, who was sold to a Major Ward. For what reason

this was done, no one knew. Florida, named for the state in which she

was born, was one of seven children born to Charlotte Morris (colored)

whose father was a white man and David Clayton (white).

Florida, in a retrogressive mood, can recall the "nigger hunters" and

"nigger stealers" of her childhood days. Mr. Nimrod and Mr. Shehee, both

white, specialized in catching runaway slaves with their trained

bloodhounds. Her parents always warned her and her brothers and sisters

to go in someone's yard whenever they saw these men with their dogs lest

the ferocious animals tear them to pieces. In regards to the "nigger

stealers," Florida tells of a covered wagon which used to come to

Tallahassee at regular intervals and camp in some secluded spot. The

children, attracted by the old wagon, would be eager to go near it, but

they were always told that "Dry Head and Bloody Bones," a ghost who

didn't like children, was in that wagon. It was not until later years

that Florida and the other children learned that the driver of the wagon

was a "nigger stealer" who stole children and took them to Georgia to

sell at the slave markets.

When she was 11 years old, Florida saw the surrender of Tallahassee to

the Yankees. Three years later she came to Jacksonville to live with her

sister. She married but is now divorced after 12 years of marriage.

Three years ago she entered the Old Folks Home at 1627 Franklin Street

to live.

1. Personal Interview with Florida Clayton, 1627 Franklin Street,

Jacksonville, Florida

Fleming Clark Folklore Subjects facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail