Gw Pattillo

[HW: Dist. 5

Ex-Slave #83]



[HW: age 78]

Submitted by

Minnie B. Ross

Typed by:

J.C. Russell


[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

[TR: In Informants List, G.W. Pattillio]

In the shelter provided by the Department of Public Welfare, lives an

old Negro, G.W. Pattillo, who was born in Spaulding County, Griffin,

Ga., in the year 1852. His parents, Harriett and Jake Pattillo, had

twelve children, of whom he was the second youngest. Their master was

Mr. T.J. Ingram. However, they kept the name of their old master, Mr.


Master Ingram, as he was affectionately called by his slaves, was

considered a "middle class man," who owned 100 acres of land, with one

family of slaves, and was more of a truck farmer than a plantation

owner. He raised enough cotton to supply the needs of his family and his

slaves and enough cattle to furnish food, but his main crops were corn,

wheat, potatoes and truck.

With a few slaves and a small farm, Master Ingram was very lenient and

kind to his slaves and usually worked with them in the fields. "We had

no special time to begin or end the work for the day. If he got tired he

would say, 'Alright, boys, let's stop and rest,' and sometimes we didn't

start working until late in the day."

Pattillo's mother was cook and general house servant, so well thought of

by the Ingram family that she managed the house as she saw fit and

planned the meals likewise. Young Pattillo was considered a pet by

everyone and hung around the mistress, since she did not have any

children of her own. His job was to hand her the scissors and thread her

needles. "I was her special pet," said Pattillo, "and my youngest

brother was the master's special pet." Mr. and Mrs. Ingram never

punished the children, nor allowed anyone but their parents to do so.

If the boy became unruly, Mrs. Ingram would call his mother and say,

"Harriett, I think G.W. needs to be taken down a button hole lower."

The master's house, called the "Big House," was a two-story frame

structure consisting of 10 rooms. Although not a mansion, it was fairly

comfortable. The home provided for Pattillo's family was a three-room

frame house furnished comfortably with good home-made furniture.

Pattillo declared that he had never seen anyone on the Ingram Plantation

punished by the owner, who never allowed the "paterrollers" to punish

them either.

Master Ingram placed signs at different points on his plantation which

read thus: "Paterrollers, Fishing and Hunting Prohibited on this

Plantation." It soon became known by all that the Ingram slaves were not

given passes by their owner to go any place, consequently they were

known as "Old Ingram's Free Niggers."

Master Ingram could not write, but would tell his slaves to inform

anyone who wished to know, that they belonged to J.D. Ingram. "Once,"

said Pattillo, "my brother Willis, who was known for his gambling and

drinking, left our plantation and no one knew where he had gone. As we

sat around a big open fire cracking walnuts, Willis came up, jumped

off his horse and fell to the ground. Directly behind him rode a

'paterroller.' The master jumped up and commanded him to turn around and

leave his premises. The 'Paterroller' ignored his warning and advanced

still further. The master then took his rifle and shot him. He fell to

the ground dead and Master Ingram said to his wife, 'Well, Lucy, I guess

the next time I speak to that scoundrel he will take heed.' The master

then saddled his horse and rode into town. Very soon a wagon came back

and moved the body."

The cotton raised was woven into cloth from which their clothing was

made. "We had plenty of good clothing and food," Pattillo continued.

"The smokehouse was never locked and we had free access to the whole

house. We never knew the meaning of a key."

Master Ingram was very strict about religion and attending Church. It

was customary for everyone to attend the 9 o'clock prayer services at

his home every night. The Bible was read by the mistress, after which

the master would conduct prayer. Children as well as grownups were

expected to attend. On Sundays, everybody attended church. Separate

Churches were provided for the Negroes, with White and Colored preachers

conducting the services. White Deacons were also the Deacons of the

Colored Churches and a colored man was never appointed deacon of a

Church. Only white ministers were priviliged to give the sacrament and

do the baptizing. Their sermons were of a strictly religious nature.

When a preacher was unable to read, someone was appointed to read the

text. The preacher would then build his sermon from it. Of course,

during the conference period, colored as well as white ministers were

privileged to make the appointments. The Negroes never took up

collections but placed their money in an envelope and passed it in. It

was their own money, earned with the master's consent, by selling

apples, eggs, chickens, etc.

Concerning marriages, Pattillo believes in marriages as they were in the

olden days. "Ef two people felt they wuz made for each other, they wuz

united within themselves when they done git the master's 'greement, then

live together as man and wife, an' that was all. Now, you got to buy a

license and pay the preacher."

Loss of life among slaves was a calamity and if a doctor earned a

reputation for losing his patients, he might as well seek a new

community. Often his downfall would begin by some such comment as, "Dr.

Brown lost old man Ingram's nigger John. He's no good and I don't intend

to use him." The value of slaves varied, from $500 to $10,000, depending

on his or her special qualifications. Tradesmen such as blacksmiths,

shoe makers, carpenters, etc., were seldom sold under $10,000. Rather

than sell a tradesman slave, owners kept them in order to make money by

hiring them out to other owners for a set sum per season. However,

before the deal was closed the lessee would have to sign a contract

which assured the slave's owner that the slave would receive the best of

treatment while in possession.

Pattillo remembers hearing his parents say the North and South had

disagreed and Abraham Lincoln was going to free the slaves. Although he

never saw a battle fought, there were days when he sat and watched the

long line of soldiers passing, miles and miles of them. Master Ingram

did not enlist but remained at home to take care of his family and his


After the war ended, Master Ingram called his slaves together and told

them of their freedom, saying, "Mr. Lincoln whipped the South and we are

going back to the Union. You are as free as I am and if you wish to

remain here you may. If not, you may go any place you wish. I am not

rich but we can work together here for both our families, sharing

everything we raise equally." Pattillo's family remained there until

1870. Some owners kept their slaves in ignorance of their freedom.

Others were kind enough to offer them homes and help them to get a


After emancipation, politics began to play a part in the lives of

ex-slaves, and many were approached by candidates who wanted to buy

their votes. Pattillo tells of an old ex-slave owner named Greeley

living in Upson County who bought an ex-slaves vote by giving him as

payment a ham, a sack of flour and a place to stay on his plantation.

After election, he ordered the ex-slave to get the wagon, load it with

his possessions and move away from his plantation. Astonished, the old

Negro asked why. "Because," replied old Greeley, "If you allow anyone to

buy your vote and rob you of your rights as a free citizen, someone

could hire you to set my house on fire."

Pattillo remebers slavery gratefully and says he almost wishes these

days were back again.

Gus Johnson H B Holloway facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail