Henry Gladney

Project #1655

W.W. Dixon

Winnsboro, S.C.



Henry Gladney lives with his wife, his son, Murdock, his

daughter-in-law, Rose, and seven grandchildren. They live near White

Oak, S.C., in a two-room frame house with a one-room box board annex. He

works a one-horse farm for Mr. Cathcart and piddles a little at the

planing mills at Adgers. His son does the ploughing. The daughter-in-law

and grandchildren hoe and pick cotton and assist in the farm work. Henry

is of medium height, dark brown complexion, and is healthy but not


"I lives out on de John H. Cathcart place, close to White Oak. In

slavery time my mammy b'long to old Marse Johnnie Mobley, and us lived

in de quarter 'bout three miles to de west of Woodward station, tho'

dere was no station dere when I was a boy. De station was down de

railroad from dere and then it was called Yonguesville. My mammy name

Lucy, my pappy name William, my sisters was Louise, Elsie, and Adeline.

My brudders name Tim and Curtis.

"I wasn't a very big boy in slavery time, tho' I 'member choppin'

cotton, and pickin' cotton and peas 'long 'side mammy in de field. Pappy

was called 'Bill de Giant', 'cause him was so big and strong. They have

mighty bad plantation roads in them days. I see my pappy git under de

wagon once when it was bogged up to de hub and lift and heft dat wagon

and set it outside de ruts it was bogged down in. Him stayed at de

blacksmith shop, work on de wagons, shoe de mules and hosses, make

hinges, sharpen de plow points and fix de iron rings in de wagon wheels.

"My pappy didn't 'low other slave men to look at my mammy. I see him

grab Uncle Phil once, throw him down on de floor, and when him quit

stompin' Uncle Phil, they have to send for Dr. Newton, 'cause pappy done

broke Uncle Phil's right leg. My old marster no lak dat way one of his

slaves was crippled up. Him 'low to whip pappy for it. Pappy tell mammy

to go tell Marse John if he whip him, he would run off and go to de

North. She beg for pappy so, dat nothin' was done 'bout it. 'Spect Marse

John fear to lose a good blacksmith wid two good legs, just 'bout a

small nigger man wid one good leg and one bad leg.

"It come to de time old marster have so many slaves he don't know what

to do wid them all. He give some of them off to his chillun. He give

them mostly to his daughters, Miss Marion, Miss Nancy, and Miss

Lucretia. I was give to his grandson, Marse John Mobley McCrorey, just

to wait on him and play wid him. Little Marse John treat me good

sometime and kick me 'round sometime. I see now dat I was just a little

dog or monkey, in his heart and mind, dat 'mused him to pet or kick as

it pleased him. Him give me de only money I ever have befo' freedom, a

big copper two-cent piece wid a hole in it. I run a string thru dat hole

and tied it 'round my neck and felt rich all de time. Little niggers

always wanted to see dat money and I was proud to show it to them every


"Little Marse John's mother was another daughter of old Marster John.

Her name was Dorcas. They live in Florida. I was took 'way down dere,

cried pow'ful to leave my mammy, but I soon got happy down dere playin'

in de sand wid Marse John and his little brudder, Charlie. Don't 'member

nothin' 'bout de war or de Yankees. Freedom come, I come back to de

Mobley quarters to mammy. I work for old Marster John up 'til after

Hampton was 'lected. I marry Florie Williams, a pretty black gal on de

Mobley quarters. Us is had seventeen chillun. So far as I know they is

all livin'. Some in Florida, some in Sparrows Point, Virginia, some in

Charlotte, N.C., and some in Columbia, S.C. Murdock and his wife, Katie,

and deir six chillun live in de same house wid me.

"My old marster have two daughters dat marry McCroreys. Miss Lucretia

marry James McCrorey and Miss Dorcas marry John McCrorey. Miss Lucretia

have a son name John. Miss Dorcas have a son name John. In talkin' wid

old mistress, 'fusion would come 'bout which John of de grandsons was

bein' meant and talked 'bout. Old Marster John settle dat.

"Old Marster John and old mistress (her name Katie) had de same

birthday, March de 27th, tho' old Marster John was two years older than

old Mistress Kate. They celebrate dat day every year. All de

chillun-in-laws and grandchillun come to de mansion, have a big dinner

and a big time. After dinner one day, all de men folks 'semble at de

woodpile. De sun was shinin' and old marster have me bring out a chair

for him but de balance of them set on de logs or lay 'round on de chips.

Then they begun to swap tales. Marse Ed P. Mobley hold up his hand and

say: 'See dis stiff finger? It'll never be straight agin. I got out of

ammunition at de secon' battle of Bull Run, was runnin' after a Yankee

to ketch him, threw my gun 'way to run faster, ketch him as he was 'bout

to git over a fence and choked his stiff neck so hard in de scuffle dat

I broke dat finger. General Lee hearin' 'bout it, changed me from de

infancy (infantry) to de calvary (cavalry) dat I might not run de danger

any more.' Old marster laugh and say: 'Jim, can you beat dat?' Marse Jim

Mobley say: 'Well, you all know what I done at Gettysburg? If all had

done lak me dat day, us would have won de war. Whenever I see a bullet

comin' my way, I took good aim at de bullet wid a double charge of

powder in my musket. My aim was so good dat it drove de enemy ball back

to kill a Yankee and glanced aside at de right time to kill another

Yankee. I shot a thousand times de fust day of de battle and two

thousand times de secon' day and kilt six thousand Yankees at

Gettysburg!' Old marster slap his sides and fell out de chair a

laughin'! When him git back in de chair, him say: 'Zebulon, what you

got to say?' Marse Zeb, p'intin' to his empty pants leg, say: 'Me and

some officers 'tended a chicken fight on de banks of de Chickenhominy

River de day befo' de battle of Shilo. De cocks fight wid gaves on deir

heels. Dere was five hundred fights and two hundred and fifty roosters

was kilt. Us have big pots of chicken and big pots of hominy on de banks

of de Chickenhominy Creek dat night and then de battle of Cold Harbor

come de nex' day. I had eat so much chicken and hominy my belly couldn't

hold it all. Some had run down my right leg. Us double quicked and run

so fast thru swamps nex' day, after Yankees, my right leg couldn't keep

up wid my left leg. After de battle I went back to look for dat leg but

never could find it. Governor Zeb Vance tell me afterwards, dat leg of

mine run on to Washington, went up de White House steps, and slushed

some of dat chicken and hominy on de carpet right befo' President

Lincoln's chair.'

"Everybody laugh so loud dat old mistress come out and want to know what

for they was laughin' 'bout. All dat had to be gone over agin. Then her

laugh and laugh and laugh. She turnt 'round to my young Marster John and

say: 'John, can you beat dat?' He say: 'Henry, go git grandma a chair.'

I done dat. Then my young marster start. Him say: 'One day down in

Florida, I saddle my pony, took Henry dere up behind me and went a

fishin' on de St. John River. I had some trouble a gittin' thru de

everglades when I want to fish but us got dere. Big trees on de banks

and 'round, wid long moss hangin' from de limbs. I baited my hook wid a

small, wigglin', live, minnow and throwed out into de water. Nothin'

happen. In de warm sunshine I must have gone to sleep, when I was

startle out my doze by Henry a shoutin': 'Marse Johnnie, Marse Johnnie,

your cork done gone down out of sight!' I made a pull but felt at once

it would take both hands to land dat fish. I took both hands, put my

foot 'ginst de roots of a great live oak and h'isted dat fish in de sky.

It was so big it shut out de light of de sun. When it come down, dat

fish strip off de limbs of de trees it hit while comin' to de ground. I

sent Henry back to de house on de pony, for de four-hoss wagon and all

de men on de place, to git de fish home. When us got it home and cut it

open, dere was 119 fishes varyin' from de size of de minnow up to de big

fish. Marse Ed P. say: 'Was de little minnow dead or 'live when you

found him in de belly of de 119th fish? 'He was still wigglin', say my

young marster. Old marster say: 'It was a whale of a fish, wasn't it,

grandson?' Young marster say: 'It was, grandpa. De river bank show dat

de water went down two inches after I pulled him out.' 'Maybe it was a

whale', said Marse Ed P. 'In fact, it was', said Marse Johnnie,' 'cause

on one of de ribs under de belly was some tatooin'.' 'What was de

tatooin'?' ask old mistress, just as innocent as a baby. 'De word

Nenivah', say Marse little John. 'Why it might have been de whale dat

swallowed Jonah', say Miss Katie. 'It was', say my young marster, 'for

just under Nenivah was de name Jonah.' After a good laugh old marster

say: 'Your name is changed from John Mobley McCrorey to John Munchawsome

McCrorey.' Kin folks call him Barron after dat. Him lak dat but when

they got to callin' him, lyin' John McCrorey him git red in de face and

want to fight.

"Poor Marse Johnnie! Wonder if him still livin'. Him marry a rich woman

in Florida but her soon 'vorce him. What her 'vorce him for?

'Pattybility and temper, they say. What I means by pattybility? I 'spect

dat mean de time they was gittin' up in de mornin' and her lam him

'cross de head wid de hairbrush and him take dat same hairbrush, push

her down 'cross de bed and give her a good spankin'. Now you're laughin'

agin but it was no laughin' wid her dat mornin', de way I hear them tell


Henry Fitzhugh Henry Green facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail