Gariel Gilbert

GABRIEL GILBERT was born in slavery on the plantation of Belizare

Brassard, in New Iberia Parish, Louisiana. He does not know his

age, but appears to be about eighty. He has lived in Beaumont,

Texas, for sixteen years.

"My old massa was Belizare Broussard. He was my mom's massa. He had a

big log house what he live in. De places 'tween de logs was fill with

dirt. De quarters de slaves live in was make out of dirt. Dey put up

posties in de ground and bore holes in de posts and put in pickets

'cross from one post to the other. Den dey build up de sides with mud.

De floor and everything was dirt. Dey had a schoolhouse built for de

white chillen de same way. De cullud chillen didn't have no school.

"Dem was warm healthy houses us grew up in. Dey used to raise better men

den in dem houses dan now. My pa name was Joseph Gilbert. He old massa

was Belleau Prince.

"I didn't know what a store was when I was growin' up. Us didn't have

store things like now. Us had wooden pan and spoon dem times. I never

see no iron plow dem days. Nothin' was iron on de plow 'cept de share. I

tell dese youngsters, 'You in hebben now from de time I come up.' When a

man die dem days, dey use de ox cart to carry de corpse.

"Massa have 'bout four hundred acres and lots of slaves. He raise sugar

cane. He have a mill and make brown sugar. He raise cotton and corn,

too. He have plenty stock on de place. He give us plenty to eat. He was

a nice man. He wasn't brutish. He treat he slaves like hisself. I never

'member see him whip nobody. He didn't 'low no ill treatment. All de

folks round he place say he niggers ruint and spoiled.

"De li'l white folks and nigger folks jus' play round like brudder and

sister and us all eat at de white table. I slep' in de white folks

house, too. My godfather and godmother was rich white folks. I still


"I seed sojers but I too li'l to know nothin' 'bout dem. Dey didn't

worry me a-tall. I didn't git close to de battle.

"My mammy weave cloth out cotton and wool. I 'member de loom. It go

'boom-boom-boom.' Dat de shuttle goin' cross. My daddy, he de smart man.

I'll never be like him long as I live in dis world. He make shoes. He

build house. He do anything. He and my mammy neither one ever been


"De first work I done was raisin' cotton and sugar cane and sweet and

Irish 'taters. I used to cook sugar.

"I marry on twenty-second of February. My wife was Medora Labor. She

been dead thirty-five year now. I never marry no second woman. I love my

wife so much I never want nobody else. Us had six chillen. Two am


"Goin' back when I a slave, massa have a store. When de priest come dey

hold church in dat store. Old massa have sev'ral boys. Dey went after

some de slave gals. Dey have chillen by dem. Dem gals have dere cabins

and dere chillen, what am half white.

"After while dem boys marry. But dey allus treat dey chillen by de slave

womens good. Dey white wife treat dem good, too, most like dey dere own


"Old massa have plenty money. Land am only two bits de acre. Some places

it cost nothing. Dey did haulin' in ox-carts. A man what had mules had

something extra.

"Us have plenty wild game, wild geese and ducks. Fishin' am mighty good.

Dey was 'gaters, too. I seed dem bite a man's arm off.

"If a slave feelin' bad dey wouldn't make him work. My uncle and my

mammy dey never work nothing to speak of. Dey allus have some kind

complaint. Ain't no tellin' what it gwine be, but you could 'low

something ailin' dem!

"I 'member dey a white man. He had a gif'. I don't care what kind of

animal, a dog or a hoss, dat man he work on it and it never leave you or

you house. If anybody have toothache or earache he take a brand new nail

what ain't never work befo' and work dat round you tooth or ear. Dat

break up de toothache or earache right away. He have li'l prayer he say.

I don't know what it was.

"I's seed ghosties. I talk with dem, too. Sometimes dey like people.

Sometimes dey like animal, maybe white dog. I allus feel chilly when dey

come round me. I talk with my wife after she dead. She tell me, 'Don't

you forgit to pray.' She say dis world corrupt and you got to fight it


Game Emanuel Gate-eye Fisher facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail