Jennie Kendricks

[HW: Dist 5

Ex-Slave #63]






[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]

Jennie Kendricks, the oldest of 7 children, was born in Sheram, Georgia

in 1855. Her parents were Martha and Henry Bell. She says that the first

thing she remembers is being whipped by her mother.

Jennie Kendricks' grandmother and her ten children lived on this

plantation. The grandmother had been brought to Georgia from Virginia:

"She used to tell me how the slave dealers brought her and a group of

other children along much the same as they would a herd of cattle," said

the ex-slave, "when they reached a town all of them had to dance through

the streets and act lively so that the chances for selling them would be


When asked to tell about Mr. Moore, her owner, and his family Jennie

Kendricks stated that although her master owned and operated a large

plantation, he was not considered a wealthy man. He owned only two other

slaves besides her immediate family and these were men.

"In Mr. Moores family were his mother, his wife, and six children (four

boys and two girls). This family lived very comfortably in a two storied

weatherboard house. With the exception of our grandmother who cooked for

the owner's family and slaves, and assisted her mistress with housework

all the slaves worked in the fields where they cultivated cotton and the

corn, as well as the other produce grown there. Every morning at sunrise

they had to get up and go to the fields where they worked until it was

too dark to see. At noon each day they were permitted to come to the

kitchen, located just a short distance in the rear of the master's

house, where they were served dinner. During the course of the day's

work the women shared all the men's work except plowing. All of them

picked cotton when it was time to gather the crops. Some nights they

were required to spin and to help Mrs. Moore, who did all of the

weaving. They used to do their own personal work, at night also." Jennie

Kendricks says she remembers how her mother and the older girls would go

to the spring at night where they washed their clothes and then left

them to dry on the surrounding bushes.

As a little girl Jennie Kendricks spent all of her time in the master's

house where she played with the young white children. Sometimes she and

Mrs. Moore's youngest child, a little boy, would fight because it

appeared to one that the other was receiving more attention from Mrs.

Moore than the other. As she grew older she was kept in the house as a

playmate to the Moore children so she never had to work in the field a

single day.

She stated that they all wore good clothing and that all of it was made

on the plantation with one exception. The servants spun the thread and

Mrs. Moore and her daughters did all of the weaving as well as the

making of the dresses that were worn on this particular plantation. "The

way they made this cloth", she continued, "was to wind a certain amount

of thread known as a "cut" onto a reel. When a certain number of cuts

were reached they were placed on the loom. This cloth was colored with a

dye made from the bark of trees or with a dye that was made from the

indigo berry cultivated on the plantation. The dresses that the women

wore on working days were made of striped or checked materials while

those worn on Sunday were usually white."

She does not know what the men wore on work days as she never came in

contact with them. Stockings for all were knitted on the place. The

shoes, which were the one exception mentioned above, were made by one

Bill Jacobs, an elderly white man who made the shoes for all the

plantations in the community. The grown people wore heavy shoes called

"Brogans" while those worn by the children were not so heavy and were

called "Pekers" because of their narrow appearance. For Sunday wear, all

had shoes bought for this purpose. Mr. Moore's mother was a tailoress

and at times, when the men were able to get the necessary material, she

made their suits.

There was always enough feed for everybody on the Moore plantation. Mrs.

Moore once told Jennie's mother to always see that her children had

sufficient to eat so that they would not have to steal and would

therefore grow up to be honorable. As the Grandmother did all of the

cooking, none of the other servants ever had to cook, not even on

Sundays or other holidays such as the Fourth of July. There was no stove

in this plantation kitchen, all the cooking was done at the large

fireplace where there were a number of hooks called potracks. The pots,

in which the cooking was done, hung from these hooks directly over the


The meals served during the week consisted of vegetables, salt bacon,

corn bread, pot liquor, and milk. On Sunday they were served milk,

biscuits, vegetables, and sometimes chicken. Jennie Kendricks ate all of

her meals in the master's house and says that her food was even better.

She was also permitted to go to the kitchen to get food at any time

during the day. Sometimes when the boys went hunting everyone was given

roast 'possum and other small game. The two male slaves were often

permitted to accompany them but were not allowed to handle the guns.

None of the slaves had individual gardens of their own as food

sufficient for their needs was raised in the master's garden.

The houses that they lived in were one-roomed structures made of heavy

plank instead of logs, with planer [HW: ?] floors. At one end of this

one-roomed cabin there was a large chimney and fireplace made of rocks,

mud, and dirt. In addition to the one door, there was a window at the

back. Only one family could live in a cabin as the space was so limited.

The furnishings of each cabin consisted of a bed and one or two chairs.

The beds were well constructed, a great deal better than some of the

beds the ex-slave saw during these days. Regarding mattresses she said,

"We took some tick and stuffed it with cotton and corn husks, which had

been torn into small pieces and when we got through sewing it looked

like a mattress that was bought in a store."

Light was furnished by lightwood torches and sometimes by the homemade

tallow candles. The hot tallow was poured into a candle mold, which was

then dipped into a pan of cold water, when the tallow had hardened, the

finished product was removed.

Whenever there was sickness, a doctor was always called. As a child

Gussie was rather sickly, and a doctor was always called to attend to

her. In addition to the doctor's prescriptions there was heart leaf tea

and a warm remedy of garlic tea prepared by her grandmother.

If any of the slaves ever pretended sickness to avoid work, she knows

nothing about it.

As a general rule, slaves were not permitted to learn to read or write,

but the younger Moore children tried to teach her to spell, read, and

write. When she used to stand around Mrs. Moore when she was sewing she

appeared to be interested and so she was taught to sew.

Every Sunday afternoon they were all permitted to go to town where a

colored pastor preached to them. This same minister performed all

marriages after the candidates had secured the permission of the master.

There was only one time when Mr. Moore found it necessary to sell any of

his slaves. On this occasion he had to sell two; he saw that they were

sold to another kind master.

The whipping on most plantation were administered by the [HW: over]seers

and in some cases punishment was rather severe. There was no overseer on

this plantation. Only one of Mr. Moore's sons told the field hands what

to do. When this son went to war it became necessary to hire an

overseer. Once he attempted to whip one of the women but when she

refused to allow him to whip her he never tried to whip any of the

others. Jennie Kendricks' husband, who was also a slave, once told her

his master was so mean that he often whipped his slaves until blood ran

in their shoes.

There was a group of men, known as the "Patter-Rollers", whose duty it

was to see that slaves were not allowed to leave their individual

plantations without passes which [HW: they] were supposed to receive

from their masters. "A heap of them got whippings for being caught off

without these passes," she stated, adding that "sometimes a few of them

were fortunate enough to escape from the Patter-Rollers". She knew of

one boy who, after having outrun the "Patter-Rollers", proceeded to make

fun of them after he was safe behind his master's fence. Another man

whom the Patter-Rollers had pursued any number of times but who had

always managed to escape, was finally caught one day and told to pray

before he was given his whipping. As he obeyed he noticed that he was

not being closely observed, whereupon he made a break that resulted in

his escape from them again.

The treatment on some of the other plantations was so severe that slaves

often ran away, Jennie Kendricks told of one man [HW: who was] [TR:

"being" crossed out] lashed [HW: and who] ran away but was finally

caught. When his master brought him back he was locked in a room until

he could be punished. When the master finally came to administer the

whipping, Lash had cut his own throat in a last effort to secure his

freedom. He was not successful; his life was saved by quick action on

the part of his master. Sometime later after rough handling Lash finally

killed his master [HW: and] was burned at the stake for this crime.

Other slaves were more successful at escape, some being able to remain

away for as long as three years at a time. At nights, they slipped to

the plantation where they stole hogs and other food. Their shelters were

usually caves, some times holes dug in the ground. Whenever they were

caught, they were severely whipped.

A slave might secure his freedom without running away. This is true in

the case of Jennie Kendricks' grandfather who, after hiring his time out

for a number of years, was able to save enough money with which to

purchase himself from his master.

Jennie Kendricks remembers very little of the talk between her master

and mistress concerning the war. She does remember being taken to see

the Confederate soldiers drill a short distance from the house. She says

"I though it was very pretty, 'course I did'nt know what was causing

this or what the results would be". Mr. Moore's oldest sons went to war

[HW: but he] himself did not enlist until the war was nearly over. She

was told that the Yankee soldiers burned all the gin houses and took all

live stock that they saw while on the march, but no soldiers passed near

their plantation.

After the war ended and all the slaves had been set free, some did not

know it, [HW: as] they were not told by their masters. [HW: A number of

them] were tricked into signing contracts which bound them to their

masters for several years longer.

As for herself and her grandmother, they remained on the Moore property

where her grandmother finally died. Her mother moved away when freedom

was declared and started working for someone else. It was about this

time that Mr. Moore began to prosper, he and his brother Marvin gone

into business together.

According to Jennie Kendricks, she has lived to reach such a ripe old

age because she has always been obedient and because she has always

been a firm believer in God.

Jennie Ferrell Jennie Small facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail