Jennie Small


Reported by Rev. Edward Knox

Jun. 9, 1937

Topic: Ex-slaves

Guernsey County, District #2


Ex-slave, over 80 years of age

I was born in Pocahontas County, Virginia in the drab and awful

surroundings of slavery. The whipping post and cruelty in general made

an indelible impression in my mind. I can see my older brothers in their

tow-shirts that fell knee-length which was sometimes their only garment,

toiling laborously under a cruel lash as the burning sun beamed down

upon their backs.

Pappy McNeal (we called the master Pappy) was cruel and mean. Nothing

was too hard, too sharp, or too heavy to throw at an unfortunate slave.

I was very much afraid of him; I think as much for my brothers' sakes as

for my own. Sometimes in his fits of anger, I was afraid he might kill

someone. However, one happy spot in my heart was for his son-in-law who

told us: "Do not call Mr. McNeal the master, no one is your master but

God, call Mr. McNeal, mister." I have always had a tender spot in my

heart for him.

There are all types of farm work to do and also some repair work about

the barns and carriages. It was one of these carriages my brother was

repairing when the Yankees came, but I am getting ahead of my story.

I was a favorite of my master. I had a much better sleeping quarters

than my brothers. Their cots were made of straw or corn husks. Money was

very rare but we were all well-fed and kept. We wore tow-shirts which

were knee-length, and no shoes. Of course, some of the master's

favorites had some kind of footwear.

There were many slaves on our plantation. I never saw any of them

auctioned off or put in chains. Our master's way of punishment was the

use of the whipping post. When we received cuts from the whip he put

soft soap and salt into our wounds to prevent scars. He did not teach us

any reading or writing; we had no special way of learning; we picked up

what little we knew.

When we were ill on our plantation, Dr. Wallace, a relative of Master

McNeal, took care of us. We were always taught to fear the Yankees. One

day I was playing in the yard of our master, with the master's little

boy. Some Yankee Soldiers came up and we hid, of course, because we had

been taught to fear the soldiers. One Yankee soldier discovered me,

however, and took me on his knee and told me that they were our friends

end not our enemies; they were here to help us. After that I loved them

instead of fearing them. When we received our freedom, our master was

very sorry, because we had always done all their work, and hard labor.

Jennie Kendricks Jennie Wormly Gibson facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail