Heddie Davis

Code No.

Project, 1885-(1)

Prepared by Annie Ruth Davis

Place, Marion, S. C.

Date, January 21, 1938

No. Words ----

Reduced from ---- words

Rewritten by ----


Ex-Slave, 72 Years

Lizzie Davis sends word for Heddie Davis to come over to her little

shack to join in the conversation about old times and Heddie enters the

room with these words: "Sis, I gwine hug your neck. Sis, I did somethin

last night dat I oughtn't done en I can' hardly walk dis mornin. Pulled

off my long drawers last night en never had none to change wid. I can'

bear to get down en pray or nothin like dat, my knee does ache me so

bad. I gwine up town yonder en get some oil of wintergreen en put on it.

Yes'um, dat sho a good thing to strike de pain cause I heard bout dat

long years ago. Sis, ain' you got no coffee nowhe' dis mornin? God

knows, de Lord sho gwine bless you, Sis."

"What honey? No'um, I won' here in slavery time. I was just tereckly

after it. Well, I come here a Lewis, but I inherited de Davis name when

I married. Old man Peter Lewis was my daddy, en my mother--she was a

North Carolina woman. Oh, I heard dat man talk bout de old time war so

much dat I been know what was gwine fly out his mouth time he been have

a mind to spit it out. My daddy, he belonged to de old man Evans Lewis

en he been de one his boss pick to carry to de war wid him. Yes'um, he

stayed up dere to Fort Sumter four years a fightin en hoped shoot dem

old Yankee robbers. My old man, he had one of dem old guns en I give it

to his brother Jimmie. He lives way up yonder to de north en he carried

dat gun wid him just cause I give it to him, he say. He marry my younger

sister en she grayer den I is. Think dey say dey lives to Rockingham,

North Carolina. Yes, honey, my daddy was sho in dat wash out dere to

Fort Sumter. Lord, have mercy, I never hear tell of crabs en shrimps in

all my life till my daddy come back en tell bout a old woman would be

gwine down de street, dere to Charleston, cryin, 'Shrimps, more

shrimps.' But, my Lord, I can' half remember nothin dese days. If I had

de sense I used to have, I would give de Lord de praise. Honey, he said

a lot of stuff bout de war. Told a whole chance of somethin. Tell us

bout de parade en everything, but I is forgetful now en I just can'

think. De Bible say dat in de course of your life, you will be forgetful

in dat how I is. Just can' think like I used to. You see, I gwine in 70


"Oh, I was born dere to Mullins in January on de old man Evans Lewis'

plantation. Den we moved dere to de Mark Smith place after freedom

settle here. Dat long high man, dat who been us boss. His wife was name

Sallie en de place was chock full of hands. No, mam, my white folks

didn' care bout no quarter on dey plantation. Colored people just

throwed 'bout all over de place. Oh, I tell you, it was a time cause de

niggers was dere, plenty of dem. Some of dey house was settin side de

road, some over in dat corner, some next de big house en so on like dat

all over de place. Oh, dey lived all right, I reckon. Never didn' hear

dem say dey got back none. Hear dey live den better den de people lives

now. Oh, yes'um, I hear my parents say de white folks was good to de

colored people in slavery time. Didn' hear tell of nobody gettin nothin

back on one another neither. No, child, didn' never hear tell of nothin

like dat. Seems like de people don' work dese days like dey used to

nohow. Well, dey done somethin of everything in dat day en time en work

bout all de time. Ain' nobody workin much to speak bout dese days cause

dey walks bout too much, I say. I tell you, when I been a child gwine to

school, soon as I been get home in de evenin en hit dat door-step, I had

to strip en put on my everyday clothes en get to work. Had to pick up

wood en potatoes in de fall or pick cotton. Had to do somethin another

all de time, but never didn' nobody be obliged to break dey neck en

hurry en get done in dem days. Chillun just rushes en plays too much

dese days, I say. No, Lord, I don' want to rush no time. I tellin you,

when I starts to Heaven, I want to take my time gettin dere.

"Lord, child, I sho hope I gwine to Heaven some of dese days cause old

Satan been ridin me so tough in dis here world, I ain' see no rest since

I been know bout I had two feet. My husband, he treat me so mean, if he

ain' in Heaven, he in de other place, I say. Den all dem chillun, Lord a

mercy, dey will kill you. I raised all mine by myself en I tell you,

dey took de grease out of me.

"My daddy, he was a prayin man. Lord knows, he was a prayin man. Seems

like de old people could beat de young folks a prayin up a stump any

day. I remember, my daddy come here to de white people church to

Tabernacle one night en time dem people see him, dey say, 'Uncle Peter,

de Lord sho send you cause ain' nobody but you can pray dese sinners out

of hell here tonight.' God knows dat man could sing en pray. Lord, he

could pray. Oh, darlin child, dat man prayed bout all de time. Prayed

every mornin en every night en when us would come out de field at 12

o'clock, us had to hear him pray fore he ever did allow us to eat near a

morsel. Sis, I remember one day, when dey first started we chillun a

workin in de field, I come to de house 12 o'clock en I was so hungry, I

was just a poppin. God knows, people don' serve de Lord like dey used


"Sis, you wants dat one patch, too. Lord Jesus, dere ain' no limit to

dis one. Sis, I must be come here on Saturday cause everywhe' I goes, I

has to work. Hear talk, if you born on a Saturday, you gwine have to

work hard for what you get all your days. I been doin somethin ever

since I been big enough to know I somebody. Remember de first thing I

ever do for a white woman. Ma come home en say, 'Heddie, get up in de

mornin en wash your face en hands en go up to Miss Rogers en do

everything just like she say do.' I been know I had to do dat, too,

cause if I never do it, I know I would been whip from cane to cane.

When I got dere, I open de gate en look up en dere been de new house en

dere been de old one settin over dere what dey been usin for de kitchen

den. I won' thinkin bout nothin 'cept what Miss Rogers was gwine say en

when I been walk in dat gate, dere a big bulldog flew up in my head. I

stop en look at him en dat dog jump en knock me windin en grabbed my

foot in his mouth. Yes'um, de sign dere yet whe' he gnawed me. White

folks tell me I been do wrong. Say, don' never pay no attention to a dog

en dey won' bother up wid you. But, honey, dat dog had a blue eye en a

pink eye. Ain' never see a dog in such a fix since I been born. I tell

you, if you is crooked, white folks will sho straighten you out. Dat dog

taught me all I is ever wanted to know. Lord, Miss Mary, I been love dat

woman. De first time I ever see her, she say, 'You ain' got no dress to

wear to Sunday School, I gwine give you one.' Yes, mam, Miss Mary dress

me up en de Lord knows, I ain' never quit givin her de praise yet.

"Yes'um, de Yankees, I hear my daddy talk bout when dey come through old

Massa's plantation en everything what dey do. Say, dere was a old woman

dat was de cook to de big house en when dem Yankees come dere dat

mornin, white folks had her down side de cider press just a whippin her.

Say, de Yankees took de old woman en dressed her up en hitched up a

buggy en made her set up in dere. Wouldn' let de white folks touch her

no more neither. Oh, de place was just took wid dem, he say. What dey

never destroy, dey carried off wid dem. Oh, Lord a mercy, hear talk dere

was a swarm of dem en while some of dem was in de house a tearin up,

dere was a lot of dem in de stables takin de horses out. Yes'um, some

was doin one thing en some another. En Pa tell bout dey had de most

sense he ever did see. Hitched up a cart en kept de path right straight

down in de woods en carted de corn up what de white folks been hide down

dere in de canebrake. Den some went in de garden en dug up a whole lot

of dresses en clothes. En dere was a lady in de house sick while all dis

was gwine on. Oh, dey was de worst people dere ever was, Pa say. Took

all de hams en shoulders out de smokehouse en like I tell you, what dey

never carried off, dey made a scaffold en burned it up. Lord, have

mercy, I hopes I ain' gwine never have to meet no Yankees."

Source: Heddie Davis, colored, age 72, Marion, S. C.

Personal interview by Annie Ruth Davis, Jan., 1938.

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