Madison Griffin

Project 1885-1


Spartanburg Dist. 4

June 22, 1937

Edited by:

Elmer Turnage


"I will be 85 years old dis coming August. My master said I was 14 years

old de August coming after freedom.

"My master was Billy Scott who had seven or eight hundred acres of land,

and 48 slaves. He wouldn't have no white overseers, but had some nigger

foremen dat sometimes whipped de niggers, and de master would whip dem,

too. He was a fair man, not so good and not so mean. He give us poor

quarters to live in, and sometimes plenty to eat, but sometimes we went

hungry. He had a big garden, plenty cows, hogs and sheep. De most we had

ter eat, was corn, collards, peas, turnip-greens and home-made molasses.

We had wheat bread on Sundays. It was made from flour grind at our own

mill. We didn't have but one day off, that was Christmas Day and den we

had to grind our axes.

"We made our clothes out of cotton and wool mixed, made dem at home wid

our own cards and spinning wheels. We made our shoes out of leather

tanned at home, but had to use woolen shoes after de war, which would

wear out and split open in three weeks.

"My daddy was Amos Wilson and mammy was Carline Griffin. I had some

brothers and sisters. When freedom come, de master come to us and told

us de damn Yankees done freed us, 'what you gwinter do? If you want ter

stay on wid me, I will give you work.' We stayed fer awhile.

"The patrollers caught me once when I run off. I run fast and lost my

hat and dey got it. I saw some slaves sold on de block. Dey was put in a

ring and sold by crying out de price. We didn't learn to read and

write, not allowed to. De niggers went to de corn shuckings and was give

pumpkin custards to eat and liquor. Dey wasn't allowed to dance, but

sometimes we had secret dances, shut up in de house so de master

couldn't hear us.

"After de war, we went hunting and fishing on Sundays. We never had

Saturday afternoons off. We killed wild deer and other things. Once de

master killed 14 squirrels in three quarters of hour.

"We raised our own tobacco, the master did, for home use. Most always a

small patch was planted.

"De master once saw ghosts, he come from his sisters and passed de

graveyard and saw 9 cows with no heads. His horse jest flew home. Most

white folks didn't believe in ghosts, but dat is one time de master

believed he saw some.

"I went wid de Red Shirts, belonged to de company and went to meetings

wid dem. I voted fer Hampton. Befo' dat, de Ku Klux had bad niggers

dodging like birds in de woods. Dey caught some and threw dem on de

ground and whipped dem, but de master say he don't know nothing 'bout it

as he was asleep. Dey caught a nigger preacher once and made him dance,

put him in muddy water and walloped him around in de mud.

"Once seven Indians come in our neighborhood an call fer meat, meal and

salt. Dere was three men and four women. Dey cooked all night, murmuring

something all de time. Next morning three squirrels was found up a tree,

and de Indians shot 'em down wid bow and arrow.

"One time I saw horses froze to death. Dey couldn't get dere breath, and

de people took warm water and wash dere foreheads. I was a small boy

den. My master had 46 guineas.

"I married Nancy Robinson who belonged to Robert Calmes. She was living

at de Gillam place near Rich Hill.

"We used to ask a riddle like this: Love I stand, Love I sit, Love I

hold in my right hand. What is it? It was made up when an old woman had

a little dog named 'Love'. She killed it and put a part of it, after it

was baked, in her stockings; part in her shoes; part in back of her

dress, and part in her gloves. A nigger was going to be hung the next

Friday, and told if he guess the riddle he would be turned loose. He

couldn't guess it, but was turned loose anyway.

"I think Abe Lincoln might ter done good, but he had us all scared to

death, took our mules and burned our places. Don't know anything about

Jeff Davis. Booker Washington is all right.

"I joined de church when 28 years old, because I thought it was right.

Wanted to git right and git to God's Kingdom. I think everybody ought to

join de church.

"O' course I rather it not be slavery time, but I got more ter eat den

dan now. Den we didn't know what ter do, but now we perish ter death."

=Source:= Madison Griffin (84), Whitmire, S.C.

Interviewer: G.L. Summer, Newberry, S.C. (6/18/1937)

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