Margaret E Dickens

N. C. District: No. 2 [320184]

Worker: T. Pat Matthews

No. Words: 655


Story Teller: Margaret E. Dickens

Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[TR: Date Stamp "JUN 11 1937"]


1115 E. Lenoir St.

My name is Margaret E. Dickens and I was born on the 5th of June 1861.

My mother wuz free born; her name wuz Mary Ann Hews, but my mother wuz

colored. I don't remember anything about Marster and Missus. My father

was named Henry Byrd. Here is some of father's writing. My mother's

father was dark. He had no protection. If he did any work for a white

man and the white man didn't like it, he could take him up and whup him.

My father was like a stray dog.

My name was Margaret E. Byrd before I got married. Here is some of

father's writing--"Margaret Elvira Byrd the daughter of Henry and Mary

Ann Byrd was born on the 5th June 1861." My grandfather, my mother's

father was a cabinet maker. He made coffins and tables and furniture. If

he made one, and it didn't suit the man he would beat him and kick him

around and let him go. Dis was told to me. My father was a carpenter. He

built houses.

I can read and write. My father could read and write. My mother could

read, but couldn't write very much.

I have heerd my mother say when she heerd the Yankees were commin' she

had a brand new counterpane, my father owned a place before he married

my mother, the counterpane was a woolen woven counterpane. She took it

off and hid it. The Yankees took anything they wanted, but failed to

find it. We were living in Raleigh, at the time, on the very premises we

are living on now. The old house has been torn down, but some of the

wood is in this very house. I kin show you part of the old house now. My

mother used to pass this place when she wuz a girl and she told me she

never expected to live here. She was twenty years younger than my

father. My mother, she lived here most of the time except twenty-four

years she lived in the North. She died in 1916. My father bought the

lan' in 1848 from a man named Henry Morgan. Here is the deed.[6]

When we left Raleigh, and went North we first stopped in Cambridge,

Mass. This was with my first husband. His name was Samuel E. Reynolds.

He was a preacher. He had a church and preached there. The East winds

were so strong and cold we couldn't stan' it. It was too cold for us. We

then went to Providence, R. I. From there to Elmira, N. Y. From there we

went to Brooklyn, N. Y. He preached in the State of New York; we finally

came back South, and he died right here in this house. I like the North

very well, but there is nothing like home, the South. Another thing I

don't have so many white kin folks up North. I don't like to be called

Auntie by anyone, unless they admit bein' kin to me. I was not a fool

when I went to the North, and it made no change in me. I was raised to

respect everybody and I tries to keep it up. Some things in the North

are all right, I like them, but I like the South better. Yes, I guess I

like the South better. I was married to Charles W. Dickens in 1920. He

is my second husband.

I inherited this place from my father Henry Byrd. I like well water.

There is my well, right out here in the yard. This well was dug here

when they were building the first house here. I believe in havin' your

own home, so I have held on to my home, and I am goin' to try to keep

holdin' on to it.

[Footnote 6: An interesting feature of the deed is the fact that

Henry Morgan made his mark while Henry Byrd's signature

is his own.]

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