Henry Bobbitt

N. C. District: No. 2 [320190]

Worker: Mary A. Hicks

No. Words: 793

Subject: Ex-Slave Story

Story Teller: Henry Bobbitt

Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: No Date Stamp]


An interview with Henry Bobbitt, 87 of Raleigh, Wake County N. C. May 13,

1937 by Mary A. Hicks.

I wuz borned at Warrenton in Warren County in 1850. My father wuz named

Washington, atter General Washington an' my mamma wuz named Diasia atter

a woman in a story. Us an' 'bout forty or fifty other slaves belonged

ter Mr. Richard Bobbitt an' we wucked his four hundred acres o' land fer

him. I jist had one brother named Clay, atter Henry Clay, which shows

how Massa Dick voted, an' Delilah, which shows dat ole missus read de


We farmed, makin' tobacco, cotton, co'n, wheat an' taters. Massa Dick

had a whole passel o' fine horses an' our Sunday job wuz ter take care

of 'em, an' clean up round de house. Yes mam, we wucked seben days a

week, from sunup till sundown six days, an' from seben till three or

four on a Sunday.

We didn't have many tear-downs an' prayer meetin's an' sich, case de

fuss sturbed ole missus who wuz kinder sickly. When we did have sompin'

we turned down a big wash-pot in front of de do', an' it took up de fuss,

an' folkses in de yard can't hyar de fuss. De patterollers would git

you iffen you went offen de premises widout a pass, an' dey said dat dey

would beat you scandelous. I seed a feller dat dey beat onct an' he had

scars as big as my fingers all ober his body.

I got one whuppin' dat I 'members, an' dat wuz jist a middlin' one. De

massa told me ter pick de cotton an' I sot down in de middle an' didn't

wuck a speck. De oberseer come an' he frailed me wid a cotton-stalk; he

wuz a heap meaner ter de niggers dan Massa Dick wuz. I saw some niggers

what wuz beat bad, but I ain't neber had no bad beatin'.

We libed in log houses wid sand floors an' stick an' dirt chimneys an'

we warn't 'lowed ter have no gyarden, ner chickens, ner pigs. We ain't

had no way o' makin' money an' de fun wuz only middlin'. We had ter

steal what rabbits we et from somebody elses [TR correction: else's]

boxes on some udder plantation, case de massa won't let us have none o'

our own, an' we ain't had no time ter hunt ner fish.

Now talkin' 'bout sompin' dat we'd git a whuppin' fer, dat wuz fer

havin' a pencil an' a piece of paper er a slate. Iffen you jist looked

lak you wanted ter larn ter read er write you got a lickin'.

Dar wuz two colored women lived nigh us an' dey wuz called "free

issues," but dey wuz really witches. I ain't really seen 'em do nothin'

but I hyard a whole lot 'bout 'em puttin' spells on folkses an' I seed

tracks whar day had rid Massa Dick's hosses an' eber mo'nin' de hosses

manes an' tails would be all twisted an' knotted up. I know dat dey done

dat case I seed it wid my own eyes. Dey doctored lots of people an' our

folkses ain't neber had no doctor fer nothin' dat happen.

You wuz axin' 'bout de slave sales, an' I want ter tell you dat I has

seen some real sales an' I'se seed niggers, whole bunches of' em, gwin'

ter Richmond ter be sold. Dey wuz mostly chained, case dey wuz new ter

de boss, an' he doan know what ter 'spect. I'se seed some real sales in

Warrenton too, an' de mammies would be sold from deir chilluns an' dare

would be a whole heap o' cryin' an' mou'nin' 'bout hit. I tell you

folkses ain't lak dey uster be, 'specially niggers. Uster be when a

nigger cries he whoops an' groans an' hollers an' his whole body rocks,

an' dat am de way dey done sometime at de sales.

Speakin' 'bout haints: I'se seed a whole lot o' things, but de worst

dat eber happen wuz 'bout twenty years ago when a han'ts hand hit me

side o' de haid. I bet dat hand weighed a hundred pounds an' it wuz as

cold as ice. I ain't been able ter wuck fer seben days an' nights an' I

still can't turn my haid far ter de left as you sees.

I reckon 'bout de funniest thing 'bout our plantation wuz de

marryin'. A couple got married by sayin' dat dey wuz, but it couldn't

last fer longer dan five years. Dat wuz so iffen one of 'em got too

weakly ter have chilluns de other one could git him another wife or


I 'members de day moughty well when de Yankees come. Massa Dick he

walked de floor an' cussed Sherman fer takin' his niggers away. All o'

de niggers lef', of course, an' me, I walked clean ter Raleigh ter find

out if I wuz really free, an' I couldn't unnerstan' half of it.

Well de first year I slept in folkses woodhouses an' barns an' in de

woods or any whar else I could find. I wucked hyar an' dar, but de

folkses' jist give me sompin' ter eat an' my clothes wuz in strings'

fore de spring o' de year.

Yo' axes me what I thinks of Massa Lincoln? Well, I thinks dat he wuz

doin' de wust thing dat he could ter turn all dem fool niggers loose

when dey ain't got no place ter go an' nothin' ter eat. Who helped us

out den? Hit wuzn't de Yankees, hit wuz de white folkses what wuz left

wid deir craps in de fiel's, an' wuz robbed by dem Yankees, ter boot. My

ole massa, fur instance, wuz robbed uv his fine hosses an' his feed

stuff an' all dem kaigs o' liquor what he done make hisself, sides his

money an' silver.

Slavery wuz a good thing den, but de world jist got better an'

outgrowed it.


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