Hector Godbold

Project, 1885-1

Prepared by Annie Ruth Davis

Place, Marion, S.C.

Date, June 28, 1937


Ex-Slave, 87 Years

"What you gwine do wid me? I sho been here in slavery time. Talk to dem

soldiers when dey was retreatin dey way back home. My old Missus was

Miss Mary Godbold en den she marry a Haselden. Dey buy my mamma from de

old man Frank Miles right over yonder. Harry en Cindy Godbold was my

parents. We live in a one room house in de slave quarter dere on de

white folks plantation. My God, sleep right dere on de floor. Had

gran'parents dat come here over de water from Africa. Dey tell me dat

whe' dey come from dey don' never let no man en he wife sleep together

cause dey is scared of em catchin disease from one another. Dat sho a

good thing, you know dat. I think dat sho a good thing."

"Dey ain' never give none of de colored peoples no money in dat day en

time. Coase dey give us plenty something to eat. Fed us out a big bowl

of pot licker wid plenty corn bread en fried meat en dat bout all we

ever eat. Dey is let us have a garden of we own dat we had to work by de

night time. You see de colored folks know dey had to get up soon as dey

hear dat cow horn blow en dat been fore daylight come here. Oh, dey work

from dark to dark in dat day en time. Didn' but one day out all de year

stand dat was a week day en dat was de big Christmus day. Sweet molasses

bread was de thing dat day. Coase dey give us a big supper when dey had

dem cornshucking day. Oh, dey had a frolic den dat last way up to de


"I never live dere to de Haselden plantation wid my parents long fore

dey hire me out to Massa John Mace en I stay dere till me en Maggie (his

wife) come here to live. Nurse six head of chillun for de white folks

dere. I hear em say my Missus was a Watson fore she marry Massa John

Mace. Lord, Lord, love dem chillun to death. If Moses Mace been livin,

you wouldn' be talkin to no Hector Godbold bout here dese days. He de

one what give me en Maggie dat four room house you see settin dere. My

Missus give me a good beatin one time when I did drop one of dem baby.

Just put me head under her foot en beat me dat way."

"Another thing I had to do was to carry de baby cross de swamp every

four hour en let my mamma come dere en suckle dat child. One day I go

dere en another fellow come dere what dey call John. He en my mamma get

in a argument like en he let out en cut my mamma a big lick right cross

de leg en de blood just pour out dat thing like a done a what. My mamma

took me en come on to de house en when Miss Jane see dat leg, she say,

"Cindy, what de matter?" My mamma say, "John call me a liar en I never

take it." Miss Jane tell em to send after Sam Watson right den. Sam

Watson was a rough old overseer en he been so bowlegged dat if he stand

straddle a barrel, he be settin down on it just as good as you settin

dere. Sam Watson come dere en make dat fellow lay down on a plank in de

fence jam en he take dat cat o' nine tail he have tie round his waist en

strike John 75 times. De blood run down off him just like you see a

stream run in dat woods. Dat sho been so cause all we chillun stand bout

dere en look on it. I suppose I was bout big enough to plough den. When

dey let John loose from dere, he go in de woods en never come back no

more till freedom come here. I tellin you when he come back, he come

back wid de Yankees."

"Oh, de colored peoples never know nothin more den dogs in dem times.

Never couldn' go from one plantation to de other widout dat dey had a

ticket wid em. I see Sam Watson catch many of dem dat had run way en

buff en gag em. Never have no jails nowhe' in dat day en time. Dey sho

sell de colored peoples way plenty times cause I see dat done right here

to Marion. Stand em up on a block en sell em to a speculator dere. I

hear em bid off a 'oman en her baby dere en den dey bid off my auntie en

uncle way down to de country. Dey wouldn' take no whippin off dey Massa

en dat how-come dey get rid of em. My gran'pappy been worth $1,000 en it

de Lord's truth I tellin you, he drown fore he let em whip him. Den my

gran'mammy use to run way en catch rides long de roads cause de peoples

let em do dat den. Coase if dey catch her, dey didn' never do her no

harm cause she was one of dem breed 'omans."

"Never know nothin bout gwine to school in dem times. Just pick up what

learnin we get here, dere, en everywhe'. Learnt something to de white

folks meetin house dere to Antioch settin on de back side of dat church

on dem benches what de slaves had to set on. I is know dis much dat I

voted three times to de courthouse in Marion way back in dem days."

"Sho, we chillun play game en frolic heap of de time. Shinny was de

thing dat I like best. Just had stick wid crook in de end of it en see

could I knock de ball wid dat. I sho remembers dat. Den I was one of de

grandest hollerers you ever hear tell bout. Use to be just de same as a

parrot. Here how one go: O--OU--OU--O--OU, DO--MI--NICI--O,

BLACK--GA--LE--LO, O--OU--OU--O--OU, WHO--O--OU--OU. Great King, dat

ain' nothin."

"Ain' never believe in none of dem charms people talk bout en ain' know

nothin bout no conjuring neither, but I know dis much en dat a spirit

sho slapped Maggie one night bout 12 o'clock. Den another time me en her

was comin home from a party one night en I had a jug of something dere

wid me en Maggie ax me for it. Say something was followin after her. De

next thing I know I hear dat jug say, gurgle, gurgle, gurgle. I look

back en she been pourin it out on de ground. She say she do dat to make

de spirit quit followin after her. Dat spirit sho been dere cause I see

dat licker disappear dere on de ground wid me own eyes."

"Sho, dey had doctors in dat day en time. Had plant doctors dat go from

one plantation to another en doctor de peoples. Dr. Monroe was one of

dem doctor bout here en dere ain' never been no better cures nowhe' den

dem plant cures was. I get Maggie so she can move bout dat way. She won'

able to walk a step en I boil some coon root en put a little whiskey in

it en make her drink dat. It sho raise her up too. Dem coon root look

just like dese chufas what you does find down side de river. Dat sho a

cure for any rheumatism what is. I know dat all right."

"Mighty right, I remembers when freedom was declare. I think dat must a

been de plan of God cause it just like dis, if it hadn' been de right

thing, it wouldn' been. I know it a good thing. De North was freed 20

years head of de South en you know it a good thing. I a history man en I

recollects dat de history say de North was freed 20 years fore de South


"I sho hear dem guns at Fort Sumter dere en I remembers when dem

soldiers come through dis way dat de elements was blue as indigo bout

here. Had parade bout five miles long wid horses dancin bout en fiddles

just a playin. Some of dem Yankees come dere to de white folks house one

of dem time, when my Massa was way from home workin dere on de

Manchester Railroad, en ax my Missus whe' dey horses was. Dem horses

done been hide in de bay en dey never get nothin else dere neither, but

a little bit of corn dat dey take out de barn."

"I 87 year old now en I here to tell you dat I never done nobody no mean

trick in all me life. I does fight cause I cut a man up worth 19

stitches one of dem times back dere. Two of em been on me one time en I

whipped both of em. I tellin you I been good as ever was born from a

'oman. It just like dis, I say fight all right, but don' never turn no

mean trick back. Turn it to God, dat what do. Dem what go to church in

de right way, dey don' have no vengeful spirit bout em. I sho goes to

church cause de church de one thing dat does outstand


=Source:= Hector Godbold, ex-slave, age 87, Pee Dee,

Marion Co., S.C.

(Personal interview, June 1937).

Hecter Hamilton Hector Smith facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail