Gus Feaster





Project 1885-1

FOLKLORE

Spartanburg Dist. 4

June 28, 1937



Edited by:

Elmer Turnage



STORIES FROM EX-SLAVES





"I do not knows when er whar I was born. My father was Price Feaster;

mother was Lucy Richards Feaster. She belonged to Mr. Berry Richards dat

lived 'tween Maybinton and Goshen Hill Township, on de 'Richards

Quarter'. My sister name Harriet; brothers was Albert and Billy, and

dats all de chilluns dere was in de family. My furs' recollection dat I

knows was when we went to de Carlisles. I was so young dat I can't

recall nothing much 'bout de Feaster plantation. Our beds was home-made

and had ropes pulled tight frum one side to de other fer de slats. No

sir, I doesn't know nothing 'bout no grandmaw and grandpaw.



"De furs' work dat I done was drapping peas. Albert was plow-hand when I

come into de world. Harriet was up big enough to plant corn and peas,

too. Billy looked atter de stock and de feeding of all de animals on de

farm. My furs' money was made by gathering blackberries to sell at

Goshen Hill to a lady dat made wine frum dem. I bought candy wit de

money; people was crazy 'bout candy den. Dat's de reason I ain't got no

toofies now.



"Ole lady Abbie looked out fer our rations. De mens eat on one side and

de gals on t'other side de trough. We eat breakfast when de birds furs'

commence singing off'n de roost. Jay birds 'ud allus call de slaves. Dey

lowed: 'it's day, it's day,' and you had to git up. Dere wasn't no

waiting 'bout it. De whipperwill say, 'cut de chip out de whiteoak,'

you better git up to keep frum gitting a whipping. Doves say, 'who you

is, who you is.' Dat's a great sign in a dove. Once people wouldn't kill

doves, ole marse sho would whip you if you did. Dove was furs' thing dat

bring something back to Noah when de flood done gone frum over de land.

When Freedom come, birds change song. One say, 'don't know what you

gwine to do now.' 'n other one low, 'take a lien, take a lien.' Niggers

live fat den wid bacon sides.



"Mr. Billy Thompson and Mr. Bill Harris' daddy give liens in dem days;

dese big mens den. Captain Foster clothed de niggers atter Freedom.



"Ole lady Abbie give us mush and milk fer breakfast. Shorts and seconds

was mixed wid de mush; no grease in de morning a-tall. Twelve o'clock

brung plenty cow-peas, meat, bread and water. At night us drunk milk and

et bread, black bread made frum de shorts. Jes' had meat at twelve

o'clock, 'course 'sharpers' 'ud eat meat when marster didn't know. Dey

go out and git 'em a hog frum a drove of seventy-five er a hund'ed; dat

one never be missed.



"I is awful to hunt; come to Union to sell my rabbits and 'possums. Mr.

Cohen dat run a brick yard, he buy some. Ole man Dunbar run'ed a market.

He was ole man den. He's de beef market man; he take all de rabbits and

sell 'em when I couldn't git a thing fer 'em. Ole lady living den, and

when I git home she low is I got any 'loady' (something to eat). I come

in wid beef and cow heads. Cow foots was de best meat. Dey throws all

sech as dat away now. Dere was allus a fuss in de house iffen I never

had no 'loady'. Somehow er another I was allus a family man and was

lucky to git in wid mens dat help me on. Never suffered wid help frum

dese kind men. Dat's de way I got along as well as I has. Ole Missus and

Marse learn't me to never tell a lie, and she teached me dat's de way to

git along well. I still follows dat.



"Up in age, I got in wid cap'n Perram (Mr. George Perrin). He was de

banker. He say 'bout me, 'what I likes 'bout Gus, he never tell a lie'.



"Befo' dat, I work fer Lawyer Monroe. He had a brother named Jim and one

named George, his name Bill. His sister named Miss Sally. Dar I farm fer

dem and work on half'uns. De Yankees camped on his place whar Mr. Gordon

Godshall now got a house. N'used to go dar mi'night ev'y night and ev'y

day. Dey had a pay day de furs' and de fifteenth of de month. Dey's

terrible fer 'engans' (onions) and eggs. Dey git five marbles and put

dem in a ring; put up fifty cents. Furs' man knocks out de middle-man

(marble) got de game. Dey's jes' sporty to dat. Never had nothing but

greenbacks den. Fifteen cents and ten cents pieces and twenty-five and

as high as fifty cents pieces was paper in dem times.



"Dey larn't us a song: 'If I had ole Abe Lincoln all over dis world, but

I know I can't whip him; but I fight him 'till I dies'. Dey low'd, 'we

freeded you alls'.



"Another song was: 'Salvation free fer all mankind; Salvation free fer

all mankind'. I was glad er all salvation. 'Salvation free fer me'; got

up dat song furs' on a moonlight night, and us sing it all night long,

going from house to house.



"'Motherless chilluns sees hard times; just ain't got no whar to go;

goes from do' to do',' dat's de song dey got up. I doesn't know whar it

come from. 'Nother one was: 'When de sun refuse to shine; Lord I wants

to be in de number, when de sun refuse to shine. If I had a po' mother

she gone on befo', Lord I promise her I would meet her when de saints go

marching in.' Dat's what lots people is still trying to do.



"We sot mud baskets fer cat fish; tie grapevines on dem and put dem in

de river. We cotch some wid hooks. I went seining many times and I set

nets; bought seins and made de nets. Pull up sein after a rain and have

seventy-five or eighty fish; sometimes have none. Peter Mills made our

cat fish stew and cooked ash-cake bread fer us to eat it wid. Water come

to our necks while we seining and we git de fish while we drifting down

stream.



"We wear cotton clothes in hot weather, dyed wid red dirt or mulberries,

or stained wid green wa'nuts--dat is de hulls. Never had much exchanging

of clothes in cold weather. In dat day us haul wood eight or ten feet

long. De log houses was daubed wid mud and dey was warm. Fire last all

night from dat big wood and de house didn't git cold. We had heavy shoes

wid wood soles; heavy cotton socks which was wore de whole year through

de cold weather, but we allus go barefeeted in hot weather. Young boys

thirteen to fifteen years old had de foots measured. When tracks be seed

in de wa'melon patch, dey was called up, and if de measurements of dere

tracks fitted de ones in de wa'melon patch, dat was de guilty nigger. I

'clar, you had to talk purty den. When I go in de wa'melon patch, I git

de old missus to say fer me to go; den I could eat and nothing was said

'bout it.



"Sunday clothes was died red fer de gals; boys wore de same. We made de

gals' hoops out'n grape vines. Dey give us a dime, if dey had one, fer a

set of hoops.



"Twan't no dressing up fer marring in slavery times; just say, 'gwine to

be a marriage tonight' and you see 'bout 40 or 50 folks dar to see it.

If it be in wa'melon time, dey had a big feast atter de wedding. Old man

preacher Tony would marry you fer nothing. De keep de wedding cake fer

three weeks befo' it was eat."



=Source:= Gus Feaster (97), 20, Stutz Ave., Union, S.C.

Interviewer: Caldwell Sims, Union, S.C.





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