Herndon Bogan

N. C. District: No. 2 [320235]

Worker: Mary A. Hicks

No. Words: 863


Story Teller: Herndon Bogan

Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: No Date Stamp]


Ex-Slave Story

An interview with Herndon Bogan, 76 (?) of State Prison, Raleigh, N. C.

I wus bawned in Union County, South Carolina on de plantation o' Doctor

Bogan, who owned both my mammy Issia, an' my pap Edwin. Dar wus six o'

us chilluns; Clara, Lula, Joe, Tux, Mack an' me.

I doan' member much 'bout slavery days 'cept dat my white folkses wus

good ter us. Dar wus a heap o' slaves, maybe a hundert an' fifty. I

'members dat we wucked hard, but we had plenty ter eat an' w'ar, eben

iffen we did w'ar wood shoes.

I kin barely recolleck 'fore de war dat I'se seed a heap o' cocks

fightin' in pits an' a heap o' horse racin'. When de marster winned he

'ud give us niggers a big dinner or a dance, but if he lost, oh!

My daddy wus gived ter de doctor when de doctor wus married an' dey

shore loved each other. One day marster, he comes in an' he sez dat de

Yankees am aimin' ter try ter take his niggers way from him, but dat dey

am gwine ter ketch hell while dey does hit. When he sez dat he starts

ter walkin' de flo'. 'I'se gwine ter leave yore missus in yore keer,

Edwin,' he sez.

But pa 'lows, 'Wid all respec' fer yore wife sar, she am a Yankee too,

an' I'd ruther go wid you ter de war. Please sar, massa, let me go wid

you ter fight dem Yanks.'

At fust massa 'fuses, den he sez, 'All right.' So off dey goes ter de

war, massa on a big hoss, an' my pap on a strong mule 'long wid de

blankets an' things.

Dey tells me dat ole massa got shot one night, an' dat pap grabs de gun

'fore hit hits de earth an' lets de Yanks have hit.

I 'members dat dem wus bad days fer South Carolina, we gived all o' de

food ter de soldiers, an' missus, eben do' she has got some Yankee folks

in de war, l'arns ter eat cabbages an' kush an' berries.

I 'members dat on de day of de surrender, leastways de day dat we hyard

'bout hit, up comes a Yankee an' axes ter see my missus. I is shakin', I

is dat skeerd, but I bucks up an' I tells him dat my missus doan want

ter see no blue coat.

He grins, an' tells me ter skedaddle, an' 'bout den my missus comes out

an' so help me iffen she doan hug dat dratted Yank. Atter awhile I

gathers dat he's her brother, but at fust I ain't seed no sense in her

cryin' an' sayin' 'thank God', over an' over.

Well sar, de massa an' pap what had gone off mad an' healthy an' ridin'

fine beastes comes back walkin' an' dey looked sick. Massa am white as

cotton, an' so help me, iffen my pap, who wuz black as sin, ain't pale


Atter a few years I goes ter wuck in Spartanburg as a houseboy, den I

gits a job wid de Southern Railroad an' I goes ter Charlotte ter

night-watch de tracks.

I stays dar eighteen years, but one night I kills a white hobo who am

tryin' ter rob me o' my gol' watch an' chain, an' dey gives me eighteen

months. I'se been hyar six already. He wus a white man, an' jist a boy,

an' I is sorry, but I comes hyar anyhow.

I hyard a ole 'oman in Charlotte tell onct 'bout witchin' in slavery

times, dar in Mecklenburg County. She wus roun' ninety, so I reckon she

knows. She said dat iffen anybody wanted ter be a witch he would draw a

circle on de groun' jist at de aidge o' dark an' git in de circle an'

squat down.

Dar he had ter set an' talk ter de debil, an' he mus' say, 'I will have

nothin' ter do wid 'ligion, an' I wants you ter make me a witch.' Atter

day he mus' bile a black cat, a bat an' a bunch of herbs an' drink de

soup, den he wuz really a witch.

When you wanted ter witch somebody, she said dat you could take dat

stuff, jist a little bit of hit an' put hit under dat puson's doorsteps

an' dey'd be sick.

You could go thru' de key hole or down de chimney or through de chinks

in a log house, an' you could ride a puson jist lak ridin' a hoss. Dat

puson can keep you outen his house by layin' de broom 'fore de do' an'

puttin' a pin cushion full of pins side of de bed do', iffen he's a mind


Dat puson can kill you too, by drawin' yore pitcher an' shootin' hit in

de haid or de heart too.

Dar's a heap o' ways ter tell fortunes dat she done tol' me but I'se

done forgot now 'cept coffee groun's an' a little of de others. You

can't tell hit wid 'em do', case hit takes knowin' how, hit shore


Henry Wright Hester Hunter facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail