Harriet Mason

Garrard County. Ex-Slave Stories.

(Eliza Ison) [HW: Ky 11]

Aunt Harriet Mason--Ex-Slave:

She was born one mile below Bryantsville on the Lexington Pike in

Garrard County, and was owned by B.M. Jones. She gives the date of her

birth as April 14, 1847. Aunt Harriet's father was Daniel Scott, a slave

out of Mote Scott's slave family. Aunt Harriet's mother's name was Amy

Jones, slave of Marse Briar Jones, who came from Harrodsburg, Ky. The

names of her brothers were Harrison, Daniel, Merida, and Ned; her

sisters were Susie and Maria. Miss Patsy, wife of Marse Briar gave Maria

to Marse Sammy Welsh, brother of Miss Patsy's and who lived with his

sister. He taught school in Bryantsville for a long time. "General Gano

who married Jane Welsh, adopted daughter of Marse Briar Jones, took my

sisters Myra and Emma, Brother Ned and myself to Tarrant County, Texas

to a town called Lick Skillet, to live. Grapevine was the name of the

white folks house. It was called Grapevine because these grapevines

twined around the house and arbors. Sister Emma was the cook and Myra

and me were nurse and house maids. Brother married Betty Estill, a slave

who cooked for the Estill family. Mr. Estill later bought Ned in order

to keep him on the place. I didn't sleep in the cabins with the rest of

the Negroes; I slept in the big house and nursed the children. I was not

paid any money for my work. My food was the same as what the white folks

et. In the summer time we wore cotton and tow linen; and linsey in the

winter. The white folks took me to church and dressed me well. I had

good shoes and they took me to church on Sunday. My master was a

preacher and a doctor and a fine man. Miss Mat sho was hard to beat. The

house they lived in was a big white house with two long porches. We had

no overseer or driver. We had no "Po white neighbors". There was about

300 acres of land around Lick Skillet, but we did not have many slaves.

The slaves were waked up by General Gano who rang a big farm bell about

four times in the morning. There was no jail on the place and I never

say a slave whipped or punished in any way. I never saw a slave

auctioned off. My Mistus taught all the slaves to read and write, and we

set on a bench in the dining room. When the news came that we were free

General Gano took us all in the dining room and told us about it. I told

him I wusn't going to the cabins and sleep with them niggers and I

didn't. At Christmas and New Years we sho did have big times and General

Gano and Miss Nat would buy us candy, popcorn, and firecrackers and all

the good things just like the white folks. I don't remember any

weddings, but do remember the funeral of Mr. Marion who lived between

the big house and Lick Skillet. He was going to be buried in the

cemetery at Lick Skillet, but the horses got scared and turned the

spring wagon over and the corpse fell out. The mourners sure had a time

getting things straightened out, but they finally got him buried.

They used to keep watermelon to pass to company. Us children would go to

the patch and bring the melons to the big spring and pour water over

them and cool 'em. When news came that we were free we all started back

to Kentucky to Marse Jones old place. We started the journey in two

covered wagons and an ambulance. General Gano and Miss Nat and the two

children and me rode in the ambulance. When we got to Memphis we got on

a steam boat named "Old Kentucky". We loaded the ambulance and the two

wagons and horses on the boat. When we left the boat, we got on the

train and got off at Georgetown in Scott County and rode from there to

General Gano's Brother William in Scott County, on a stage coach. When I

took the children, Katy and Maurice, upstairs to wash them I looked out

the window into the driveway and saw the horses that belonged to Marse

Briar Jones. They nickered at the gate trying to get in. The horses were

named Henry Clay and Dan. When the children went down I waved at the

horses and they looked up at the window and nickered again and seemed to

know me. When we were coming back from Texas, Maurice held on the plait

of my hair all the way back. I didn't marry while I belonged to the Gano

family. I married Henry Mason after I came to Lancaster to live about

sixty years ago. I am the mother of nine children, three boys and six

girls. There are two living. I have no grand-children. I joined the

church when the cholera epidemic broke out in Lancaster in 1878. The

preacher was Brother Silas Crawford, of the Methodist Church. I was

baptized in a pond on Creamery Street. I think people ought to be

religious because they live better and they love people more."

Aunt Harriet lived at the present behind the White Methodist Church in

Lancaster. The daughter with whom she lives is considered one of the

high class of colored people in Lancaster. She holds an A.B. Degree,

teaching in the colored city school, and is also a music teacher. She

stands by the teaching of her mother, being a "Good Methodist"; giving

of her time, talent, and service for her church.


Interview with Aunt Harriet Mason, Lancaster, Kentucky.

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