Ida Adkins

District No: 3 [320278]

Worker: Travis Jordan

No. Words: 1500

Title: Ida Adkins Ex-slave

Interviewed: Ida Adkins

County Home, Durham, N. C.

[TR: Date Stamp "JUN 1 1937"]


Ex-slave 79 years.

[TR note: Numerous hand written notations and additions in the following

interview (i.e. wuz to was; er to a; adding t to the contractions.)

Made changes where obvious without comment. Additions and comments were

left as notation, in order to preserve the flow of the dialect.]

I wuz bawn befo' de war. I wuz about eight years ole when de Yankee mens

come through.

My mammy an' pappy, Hattie an' Jim Jeffries belonged to Marse Frank

Jeffries. Marse Frank come from Mississippi, but when I wuz bawn he an'

Mis' Mary Jane wuz livin' down herr near Louisburg in North Carolina

whare dey had er big plantation an' [HW addition: I] don' know how many

niggers. Marse Frank wuz good to his niggers, 'cept [HW addition: that]

he never give dem ernough to eat. He worked dem hard on half rations,

but he didn' believe in all de time beatin' an' sellin' dem.

My pappy worked at de stables, he wuz er good horseman, but my mammy

worked at de big house helpin' Mis' Mary Jane. Mammy worked in de

weavin' room. I can see her now settin' at de weavin' machine an' hear

de pedals goin' plop, plop, as she treaded dem wid her feets. She wuz a

good weaver. I stayed 'roun' de big house too, pickin' up chips,

sweepin' de yard an' such as dat. Mis' Mary Jane wuz quick as er

whippo'-will. She had black eyes dat snapped, an' dey seed everythin'.

She could turn her head so quick dat she'd ketch you every time you

tried to steal a lump of sugar. I liked Marse Frank better den I did

Mis' Mary Jane. All us little chillun called him Big Pappy. Every time

he went [HW correction: come back] to Raleigh he brung us niggers back

some candy. He went to Raleigh erbout twice er year. Raleigh wuz er far

ways from de plantations--near 'bout sixty miles. [HW notation:

check--appears to be about 40 miles only.] It always took Marse Frank

three days to make de trip. A day to go, er' day to stay in town, an' a

day to come back. Den he always got home in de night. Ceptn' [HW

addition: when] he rode ho'se back 'stead of de carriage, [HW addition:

an'] den sometimes he got home by sun down.

Marse Frank didn' go to de war. He wuz too ole. So when de Yankees come

through dey foun' him at home. When Marse Frank seed de blue coats

comin' down de road he run an' got his gun. De Yankees was on horses. I

ain't never seed so many men. Dey was thick as hornets comin' down de

road in a cloud of dus' [HW: correction "dust"]. Dey come up to de house

an' tied de horses to de palin's; [HW correction: dey was so many dey

was stan] 'roun' de yard [HW addition: fence]. When dey seed Marse Frank

standin' on de po'ch [HW correction: porch] wid de gun leveled on dem,

dey got mad. Time Marse Frank done shot one time [HW correction: "once

a"] a bully Yankee snatched de gun away an' tole Marse Frank to hold up

his hand. Den dey tied his hands an' pushed him down on de floor 'side

de house an' tole him dat if he moved [HW addition: a inch] dey would

shoot him. Den dey went in de house.

I wuz skeered near 'bout to death, but I run in de kitchen an' got a

butcher knife, an' when de Yankees wasn' lookin', I tried to cut de rope

an' set Marse Frank free. But one of dem blue debils seed me an' come

runnin'. He say:

'Whut you doin', you black brat! you stinkin' little alligator bait!' He

snatched de knife from my hand an' told me to stick out my tongue, dat

he wuz gwine to cut it off. I let out a yell an' run behin' de house.

Some of de Yankees was in de smoke house gettin' de meat, some of dem

wuz at de stables gettin' de ho'ses, an' some of dem wuz in de house

gettin' de silver an' things. I seed dem put de big silver pitcher an'

tea pot in a bag. Den dey took de knives an' fo'ks an' all de candle

sticks an' platters off de side board. Dey went in de parlor an' got de

gol' clock dat wuz Mis' Mary Jane's gran'mammy's. Den dey got all de

jewelry out of Mis' Mary Jane's box.

Dey went up to Mis' Mary Jane, an' while she looked at dem wid her black

eyes snappin', dey took de rings off her fingers; den dey took her gol'

bracelet; dey even took de ruby ear rings out of her ears an' de gol'

comb out of her hair.

I done quit peepin' in de window an' wuz standin' 'side de house when de

Yankees come out in de yard wid all de stuff dey wuz totin' off. Marse

Frank wuz still settin' on de po'ch [HW correction: porch] floor wid his

han's tied an' couldn' do nothin'. 'Bout dat time I seed de bee gums in

de side yard. Dey wuz a whole line of gums. Little as I wuz I had a

notion. I run an' got me a long stick an' tu'ned over every one of dem

gums. Den I stirred dem bees up wid dat stick 'twell [HW correction:

'till] dey wuz so mad I could smell de pizen. An' bees! you ain't never

seed de like of bees. Dey wuz swarmin' all over de place. Dey sailed

into dem Yankees like bullets, each one madder den de other. Dey lit on

dem ho'ses 'twell [HW correction: till] dey looked like dey wuz live [HW

correction: alive] wid varmints. De ho'ses broke dey bridles an' tore

down de palin's an' lit out down de road. But dey [HW correction: dar]

runnin' wuzn' nothin' to what dem Yankees done. Dey bust out cussin',

but what did a bee keer about cuss words! Dey lit on dem blue coats an'

every time dey lit dey stuck in a pizen sting. De Yankee's forgot all

about de meat an' things dey done stole; dey took off down de road on er

[HW correction: a] run, passin' de horses. De bees was right after dem

in a long line. Dey'd zoom an' zip, an' zoom an' zip, an' every time

dey'd zip a Yankee would yell.

When dey'd gone Mis' Mary Jane untied Marse Frank. Den dey took all de

silver, meat an' things de Yankees lef' behin' an' buried it so if dey

come back dey couldn' fin' it.

Den day called ma an' said:

'Ida Lee, if you hadn't tu'ned [HW correction: turned] over dem bee gums

dem Yankees would have toted off near 'bout everythin' fine we got. We

want to give you somethin' you can keep so' you'll always remember dis

day, an' how you run de Yankees away.'

Den Mis' Mary Jane took a plain gold ring off her finger an' put it on

mine. An' I been wearin' it ever since.

Humorous Tales Of Slavery Days Ida Blackshear Hutchinson facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail