James Wiggins





Reference: Personal interview with James Wiggins, ex-slave,

at his home, 625 Barre St.

"I was born in Anne Arundel County, on a farm near West River about 1850

or 1851, I do not know which. I do not know my father or mother. Peter

Brooks, one of the oldest colored men in the county, told me that my

father's name was Wiggins. He said that he was one of the Revells'

slaves. He acquired my father at an auction sale held in Baltimore at a

high price from a trader who had an office on Pratt Street about 1845.

He was given a wife by Mr. Revell and as a result of this union I was

born. My father was a carpenter by trade, he was hired out to different

farmers by Mr. Revell to repair and build barns, fences and houses. I

have been told that my father could read and write. Once he was charged

with writing passes for some slaves in the county, as a result of this

he was given 15 lashes by the sheriff of the county, immediately

afterwards he ran away, went to Philadelphia, where he died while

working to save money to purchase mother's freedom, through a white

Baptist minister in Baltimore.

"I was called "Gingerbread" by the Revells. They reared me until I

reached the age of about nine or ten years old. My duty was to put logs

on the fireplaces in the Revells' house and work around the house. I

remember well when I was taken to Annapolis, how I used to dance in the

stores for men and women, they would give me pennies and three cent

pieces, all of which was given to me by the Revells. They bought me

shoes and clothes with the money collected.

"Mr. Revell died in 1861 or 62. The sheriff and men came from Annapolis,

sold the slaves, stock and other chattels. I was purchased by a Mr.

Mayland, who kept a store in Annapolis. I was sold by him to a slave

trader to be shipped to Georgia. I was brought to Baltimore, and was

jailed in a small house on Paca near Lombard. The trader was buying

other slaves to make a load. I escaped through the aid of a German

shoemaker, who sold shoes to owners for slaves.

"The German shoeman had a covered wagon, I was put in the wagon covered

by boxes, taken to a house on South Sharp Street and there kept until a

Mr. George Stone took me to Frederick City where I stayed until 1863,

when Mr. Stone, a member of the Lutheran church, had me christened

giving me the name of James Wiggins. This is how I got the name of

Wiggins, after my father, instead of Gingerbread, through the

investigation and the information given by Mr. Brooks.

"You know the Revells are well known in Anne Arundel County, consisting

of a large family, each family a large property owner. I can't say how

many acres were owned by Jim Revell, he was a general farmer having a

few slaves, you see I was a small boy. I can't answer all the questions

you want.

"There were a great many people in Anne Arundel who did not believe in

slavery and many free colored people. These conditions caused conflicts

between the free colored who many times were charged with aiding the

slaves and the whites who were not favorably impressed with slavery and

the others who believed in slavery. As a result, the patrollers were

numerous. I remember of seeing Jim Revell coming home very much battered

and beaten up as a result of an encounter with a number of free people

and white people and those who were members of the patrollers.

"As a child I was very fond of dancing, especially the jig and buck. I

made money as I stated before, I played children's plays of that time,

top, marbles and another game we called skinny. Skinny was a game played

on trees and grape vines.

"As a boy I was very healthy, I never had a doctor until I was over 50

years old. I don't know anything about the medical treatment of that

day, you never need medicine unless you are ailing and I never ailed."

James V Deane Jane Anne Privette Upperman facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail