John Franklin

Project #1655

Stiles M. Scruggs

Columbia, S.C.



"I is the son of John Franklin and Susan Bobo Franklin. I was born

August 10th, 1853 in Spartanburg County. My daddy was a slave on the

plantation of Marster Henry Franklin, sometimes called Hill and my mammy

was a slave on the plantation of Marster Benjamin Bobo. They was

brother-in-law's and lived on a plantation joining each other.

"My white marsters and their mistresses was good to us and to all their

slaves. We have plenty to eat and wear, on the Bobo plantation, from the

time I can remember up to the time I was 'bout eleven years old. In

1861, my marsters go away with their neighbors, to fight the damn

Yankees and the plantation was left in charge of the mistresses and

worked by the slaves. The slaves all raised 'bundance of rations, but

pretty soon there was a scarcity 'cause they was no coffee at the store

and stragglin' Yankees or what they call 'Rebel soldiers' come 'long

every few days and take all they can carry.

"That shortage begun in 1862, and it kept on gettin' worse all the time,

and when Lincoln set all niggers free, there was such a shortage of food

and clothes at our white folks houses, that we decided to move to a

Dutch Fork plantation. My daddy go 'long with other niggers to fight for

'Uncle Abe' and we never see him no more. Soon after that me and mammy

told our mistress goodbye, and move down to her daddy's place, 'bout ten

miles from Chapin. I was ten years old that year and we raise corn,

beans, 'taters and chickens for ourselves and to sell, when we could go

to Columbia and sell it and buy coffee and other things that we could

not raise at home. So we do pretty well for a year or two and we keep

up our tradin' trips to Columbia, which 'counts for me and Ben Lyles, my

cousin 'bout my age, comin' to Columbia on February 16, 1868. We sold

out and stayed all night at the home of Ben's uncle. He had us do some

tasks 'bout his home on Lincoln Street the next day and it was way in

the day befo' we start home. We walk north on what was known then as the

Winnsboro road 'til we come to Broad River road, and we take it. There

was one or two farm houses north of Elmwood Street on the Winnsboro road

at that time and only one house on Broad River road, the farm house of

Mr. Coogler, which is still standin'. There was a big woodsland at the

forks of the Winnsboro road and Broad River road.

"After we walk 'long the Broad River road, what seem to us for a quarter

of a mile, we see four or five old men standin' on the left side of the

road wavin' a white flag. We walks out in the woods on the right side

opposite and watches. Soon we see what seem lak a thousand men on hosses

comin' briskly 'long. The men keep wavin' the white flag. After many had

passed, one big bearded man rein up his hoss and speak with the men

wavin' the white flag. They tell the soldier there am no 'Rebel soldier'

in Columbia and the blue-clad army am welcome; beggin' them to treat the

old folks, women and children, well. The Yankee soldier set straight and

solemn on his hoss, and when the old men finish and hand him a paper, he

salute and tell them, 'Your message will be laid befo' General Sherman'.

"All this time the ground am shakin' from the roar of big guns 'cross

the river. Ben and me run thru the woods to our footlog and see

thousands still comin' into Columbia, all 'long. We get 'fraid and

stayed in the woods 'til we get out of sight of the soldiers. But we

ain't got far over the top of the hill 'til we come face to face with

more men on hosses. One of the men, who seem to be the leader, stop his

hoss and ask us boys some questions. We answer as best we can, when he

grin at us and pull out some money and give us a nickel a piece.

"We travel on toward Chapin and meet our mammies and many other people,

some them white. They all seem scared and my mammy and Ben's mammy and

us, turns up the river and camps on the hill, for the night, in the

woods. We never sleep much, for it was 'most as light as day, and the

smell of smoke was terrible. We could see people runnin' in certain

parts of Columbia, sometimes. Next mornin' we look over the city from

the bluff and only a few houses was standin' and hundreds of tumble-down

chimneys and the whole town was still smokin'.

"I dreams yet 'bout that awful time, but I thank God that he has

permitted me to live 'long enough to see the city rebuilt and it

stretching far over the area where we hid in the trees."

John Finnely John G Hawkens facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail