Henry Davis

Project #1655

W. W. Dixon

Winnsboro, S. C.



Henry Davis is an old Negro, a bright mulatto, who lives in a two-room

frame house on the farm of Mr. Amos E. Davis, about two miles southwest

of Winnsboro, S. C.

In the house with him, are his wife, Rosa, and his grown children,

Roosevelt, Utopia, and Rose. They are day laborers on the farm. At this

period, Henry picks about seventy-five pounds of cotton a day. His

children average one hundred and fifty pounds each. The four together

are thus enabled to gather about five hundred and twenty-five pounds per

day, at the rate of sixty-five cents per hundred. This brings to the

family, a daily support of $3.41. This is seasonal employment, however;

and, as they are not a provident household, hard times come to Henry and

his folks in the winter and early summer.

"I was born on de old Richard Winn plantation dat my master, Dr. W. K.

Turner, owned and lived on. I was born de year befo' him marry Miss

Lizzie Lemmon, my mistress in slavery time.

"My mother was name Mary and took de name of Davis, 'cause befo' freedom

come, her was bought by my master, from Dr. Davis, near Monticello.

"I had a good many marsters and mistresses. Miss Minnie marry Dr.

Scruggs. Miss Anna marry Mr. Dove. Miss Emma marry Mr. Jason Pope. Marse

Willie K. marry a Miss Carroll up in York, S. C., and Marse Johnnie

marry Miss Essie Zealy. My brothers and sisters was Minton, Ike, Martha,

and Isabella.

"Who I marry and all 'bout it? How come you want to know dat? I 'clare!

You think dat gwine to loosen me up? Well, I marry de 'Rose of Sharon'

or I calls her dat when I was sparkin' her, though she was a Lemmon. Her

was name Rose Lemmon. Lots of times she throw dat in my face, 'Rose of

Sharon' when things go wrong. Then her git uppish and sniff, 'Rose of

Sharon, my eye! You treats me lak I was a dogwood rose on de hillside or

worse than dat, lak I was a Jimson weed or a rag weed.'

"My mammy and us chillun live in de yard not far from de kitchen. My

mammy do de washin' and ironin'. Us chillun did no work. I ride 'round

most of de time wid de doctor in his buggy and hold de hoss while he

visit de patients. Just set up in de buggy and wait 'til him git ready

to go to another place or go home.

"I 'member de Yankees comin' and searchin' de house, takin' off de cows,

mules, hosses, and burnin' de gin-house and cotton. They say dat was

General Sherman's orders. They was 'lowed to leave de dwellin' house

standin', in case of a doctor or preacher.

"Miss Lizzie had a whole lot of chickens. Her always keep de finest

pullets. She make pies and chicken salad out of de oldest hens. Dat

February de Yankees got here, she done save up 'bout fifty pullets dat

was ready to lay in March. A squad of Yankees make us chillun ketch

every one and you know how they went 'way wid them pullets? They tie two

on behind, in de rings of de saddle. Then they tie two pullets together

and hang them on de saddle pommel, one on each side of de hosses neck.

Dat throw them flankin' de hosses withers. I 'members now them gallopin'

off, wid them chickens flutterin' and hollerin' whare, whare, whare,

whare, whare!

"After slavery time, us live on de Turner place nigh onto thirty years

and then was de time I go to see Rosa and court and marry her. Her folks

b'long to de Lemmons and they had stayed on at de Lemmon's place. De

white folks of both plantations 'courage us to have a big weddin'. Her

white folks give her a trousseau and mine give me a bedstead, cotton

mattress, and two feather pillows. Dat was a mighty happy day and a

mighty happy night for de 'Rose of Sharon'. Her tells young niggers

'bout it to dis day, and I just sets and smokes my pipe and thinks of

all de days dat am passed and gone and wonder if de nex' world gwine to

bring us back to youth and strength to 'joy it, as us did when Rose and

me was young.

"Does I 'members anything 'bout patrollers? 'Deed, I do! Marster didn't

'ject to his slaves gwine to see women off de place. I hear him say so,

and I hear him tell more than once dat if he ever hear de patrollers a

comin' wid blood hounds, to run to de lot and stick his foots in de mud

and de dogs wouldn't follow him. Lots of run'ways tried it, I heard, and

it proved a success and I don't blame them dogs neither."

Henry Coleman Henry Doyl facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail