Julia Rush

[HW: Dist. 5

E.F. Driskell



109 years old]

[TR: The beginning of each line on the original typewritten pages for

this interview is very faint, and some words have been reconstructed

from context. Questionable entries are followed by [??]; words that

could not be deciphered are indicated by [--].]

Mrs. Julia Rush was born in 1826 on Saint Simons Island, Georgia. Mrs.

Rush, her mother, and three sisters were the property of a Frenchman

named Colonel De Binien, a very wealthy land owner. Mrs. Rush does not

remember her father as he was sold away from his family when she was a


As a child Mrs. Rush served as playmate to one of the Colonel's

daughters and so all that she had to do was to play from morning till

night. When she grew older she started working in the kitchen in the

master's house. Later she was sent to the fields where she worked side

by side with her mother and three sisters from sunup until sundown.

Mrs. Rush says that she has plowed so much that she believes she can

"outplow" any man.

Instead of the white overseer usually found on plantations the Colonel

used one of the slaves to act as foreman of the field hands. He was

known to the other slaves as the "Nigger Driver" and it was he who

awakened all every morning. It was so dark until torch lights had to be

used to see by. Those women who had babies took them along to the field

in a basket which they placed on their heads. All of the hands were

given a certain amount of work to perform each day and if the work was

not completed a whipping might be forthcoming. Breakfast was sent to the

field to the hands and if at dinner time they were not too far away from

their cabins they were permitted to go home[??]. At night they prepared

their own meals in their individual cabins.

All food on the colonel's plantation was issued daily from the corn

house. Each person was given enough corn to make a sufficient amount of

bread for the day when ground. Then they went out and dug their potatoes

from the colonel's garden. No meat whatsoever was issued. It was up to

the slaves to catch fish, oysters, and other sea food for their meat

supply. All those who desired to were permitted to raise chickens,

watermelons and vegetables. There was no restriction on any as to what

must be done with the produce so raised. It could be sold or kept for

personal consumption.

Colonel De Binien always saw that his slaves had sufficient clothing. In

the summer months the men were given two shirts, two pairs of pants, and

two pairs of underwear. All of these clothes were made of cotton and all

were sewed on the plantation. No shoes were worn in the summer. The

women were given two dresses, two underskirts, and two pairs of

underwear. When the winter season approached another issue of clothes

was given. At this time shoes were given. They were made of heavy red

leather and were known as "brogans".

The slave quarters on the plantation were located behind the colonel's

cabin[??]. All were made of logs. The chinks in the walls were filled

with mud to keep the weather out. The floors were of wood in order to

protect the occupants from the dampness. The only furnishings were a

crude bed and several benches. All cooking was done at the large

fireplace in the rear of the one room.

When Colonel De Binion's [TR: earlier, De Binien] wife died he divided

his slaves among the children. Mrs. Rush was given to her former

playmate who was at the time married and living in Carrollton, Georgia.

She was very mean and often punished her by beating her on her forearm

for the slightest offence. At other times she made her husband whip her

(Mrs. Rush) on her bare back with a cowhide whip. Mrs. Rush says that

her young Mistress thought that her husband was being intimate with her

and so she constantly beat and mistreated her. On one occasion all of

the hair on her head (which was long and straight) was cut from her head

by the young mistress.

For a while Mrs. Rush worked in the fields where she plowed and hoed the

crops along with the other slaves. Later she worked in the master's

house where she served as maid and where she helped with the cooking.

She was often hired out to the other planters in the vicinity. She says

that she liked this because she always received better treatment than

she did at her own home. These persons who hired her often gave her

clothes as she never received a sufficient amount from her own master.

The food was almost the same here as it had been at the other

plantation. At the end of each week she and her fellow slaves were given

a "little bacon, vegetables, and some corn meal."[HW: ?] This had to

last for a certain length of time. If it was all eaten before the time

for the next issue that particular slave had to live as best he or she

could. In such an emergency the other slaves usually shared with the

unfortunate one.

There was very little illness on the plantation where Mrs. Rush lived.

Practically the only medicine ever used was castor oil and turpentine.

Some of the slaves went to the woods and gathered roots and herbs from

which they made their own tonics and medicines.

According to Mrs. Rush the first of the month was always sale day for

slaves and horses. She was sold on one of those days from her master in

Carrollton to one Mr. Morris, who lived in Newman, Ga. Mr. Morris paid

$1100.00 for her. She remained with him for a short while and was later

sold to one Mr. Ray who paid the price of $1200.00. Both of these

masters were very kind to her, but she was finally sold back to her

former master, Mr. Archibald Burke of Carrollton, Ga.

Mrs. Rush remembers that none of the slaves were allowed away from their

plantation unless they held a pass from their master. Once when she was

going to town to visit some friends she was accosted by a group of

"Paddle-Rollers" who gave her a sound whipping when she was unable to

show a pass from her master.

Mrs. Rush always slept in her masters' houses after leaving Colonel De

Binien. When she was in Carrollton her young mistress often made her

sleep under the house when she was angry with her.

After the war was over with and freedom was declared Mr. Burke continued

to hold Mrs. Rush. After several unsuccessful attempts she was finally

able to escape. She went to another part of the state where she married

and started a family of her own.

Because of the cruel treatment that she received at the hands of some of

her owners[??] Mrs. Rush says that the mere thought of slavery makes her

blood boil. Then there are those, under whom she served, who treated her

with kindness, whom she holds no malice against.

As far as Mrs. Rush knows the war did very little damage to Mr. Burke.

He did not enlist as a soldier.

Julia Larken Julia Williams facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail