Henry Nix

[HW: Dist. 6

Ex-Slave #80]

Mary A. Crawford

Re-Search Worker


808 E. Slaton Ave.

Griffin, Georgia


September 24, 1936

[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

[TR: Numerous handwritten changes were made in this interview. Where a

word appears in brackets after a HW entry, it was replaced by that

handwritten entry. All numbers were originally spelled out.]

Henry Nix was born March 15, 1848 in Upson County, about 5 miles from

Barnesville, Georgia.

[HW: His] [Henry's] parents were John Nix and Catherine Willis, who were

not married, because as Henry reports, John Nix was an overseer on the

plantation of Mr. Jasper Willis, "and when Marster found out what kind

of man John Nix was he (Nix) had to skip out."

When Henry "was a good sized boy, his mother married a darky man", and 3

other children were born, 2 boys and a girl. Henry loved his mother very

much and [HW: says] relates that on her death bed she told him who his

father was, and [TR: "also told him" crossed out] how to live so as not

to get into trouble, and, [HW: due to her advice] that he has never been

in jail nor in any meanness of any kind [TR: "due to what she told him"

crossed out].

Mr. Jasper Willis, [TR: "who was" crossed out] Henry's owner, lived on a

large plantation of about 300 three hundred acres in Upson County, [HW:

and] [Mr. Willis] owned only about 50 or 60 slaves as well as Henry can

remember. The old man considers Mr. Willis "the best marster that a

darky ever had," saying that he "sho" made his darkies work and mind,

but he never beat them or let the patter-role do it, though sometimes he

did use a switch on 'em". Henry recalls that he received "a sound

whuppin onct, 'case he throwed a rock at one o' Marse Jasper's fine cows

and broke her laig!"

When asked if Mr. Willis had the slaves taught to read and write, Henry

hooted at the idea, saying emphatically, "No, Mam, 'Ole Marse' wuz sho

hard about dat. He said 'Niggers' wuz made by de good Lawd to work, and

onct when my Uncle stole a book and wuz a trying to learn how to read

and write, Marse Jasper had the white doctor take off my Uncle's fo'

finger right down to de 'fust jint'. Marstar said he fixed dat darky as

a sign fo de res uv 'em! No, Miss, we wuzn't larned!"

Mr. Willis allowed his slaves from Saturday at noon till Monday morning

as a holiday, and then they always had a week for Christmas. All of the

Negroes went to meeting on Sunday afternoon in the white people's church

and were served by the white minister.

Henry says that they had a "circuit doctor" on his Marster's place and

the doctor came around regularly at least every two weeks, "case Marster

paid him to do so and [HW: he] 'xamined evah darky big and little on dat


One time Henry recalls that he "had a turrible cowbunkle" on the back of

his neck and 'marse' had the doctor to cut it open. Henry knowed better

den to holler and cut up, too, when it was done.

The old man remembers going to war with his young master and remaining

with him for the two years he was in service. They were in Richmond when

the city surrendered to Grant and soon after that the young master was

killed in the fight at Tumlin Gap. Henry hardly knows how he got back to

"Ole Marster" but is thankful he did.

After freedom, [HW: al]most all of Mr. Willis' darkies stayed on with

him but Henry "had to act smart and run away." He went over into Alabama

and managed "to keep [TR: "his" crossed out] body and soul together

somehow, for several years and then [TR: "he" crossed out] went back to

"Ole Marster."

Henry is well and rather active for his 87 or 88 years and likes to

work. He has a job now cleaning off the graves at the white cemetery but

he and his wife depend mainly [HW: for support] on their son [TR: "for

support" crossed out], who lives just across the street from them.

Henry Nelson Henry Rountree facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail