Mary Crane





Emery Turner

District #5

Lawrence County

Bedford, Indiana



REMINISCENCES OF TWO EX-SLAVES

THOMAS ASH, Mitchell, Ind.

MRS. MARY CRANE, Warren St., Mitchell, Ind.





[Thomas Ash]



I have no way of knowing exactly how old I am, as the old Bible

containing a record of my birth was destroyed by fire, many years ago,

but I believe I am about eighty-one years old. If so, I must have been

born sometime during the year, 1856, four years before the outbreak of

the War Between The States. My mother was a slave on the plantation, or

farm of Charles Ash, in Anderson county, Kentucky, and it was there that

I grew up.



I remember playing with Ol' Massa's (as he was called) boys, Charley,

Jim and Bill. I also have an unpleasant memory of having seen other

slaves on the place, tied up to the whipping post and flogged for

disobeying some order although I have no recollection of ever having

been whipped myself as I was only a boy. I can also remember how the

grown-up negroes on the place left to join the Union Army as soon as

they learned of Lincoln's proclamation making them free men.





Ed. Note--Mr. Ash was sick when interviewed and was not able to do much

talking. He had no picture of himself but agreed to pose for one later

on. [TR: no photograph found.]





[Mrs. Mary Crane]






I was born on the farm of Wattie Williams, in 1855 and am eighty-two

years old. I came to Mitchell, Indiana, about fifty years ago with my

husband, who is now dead and four children and have lived here ever

since. I was only a girl, about five or six years old when the Civil War

broke out but I can remember very well, happenings of that time.



My mother was owned by Wattie Williams, who had a large farm, located in

Larue county, Kentucky. My father was a slave on the farm of a Mr.

Duret, nearby.



In those days, slave owners, whenever one of their daughters would get

married, would give her and her husband a slave as a wedding present,

usually allowing the girl to pick the one she wished to accompany her to

her new home. When Mr. Duret's eldest daughter married Zeke Samples, she

choose my father to accompany them to their home.



Zeke Samples proved to be a man who loved his toddies far better than

his bride and before long he was "broke". Everything he had or owned,

including my father, was to be sold at auction to pay off his debts.



In those days, there were men who made a business of buying up negroes

at auction sales and shipping them down to New Orleans to be sold to

owners of cotton and sugar cane plantations, just as men today, buy and

ship cattle. These men were called "Nigger-traders" and they would ship

whole boat loads at a time, buying them up, two or three here, two or

three there, and holding them in a jail until they had a boat load. This

practice gave rise to the expression, "sold down the river."



My father was to be sold at auction, along with all of the rest of Zeke

Samples' property. Bob Cowherd, a neighbor of Matt Duret's owned my

grandfather, and the old man, my grandfather, begged Col. Bob to buy my

father from Zeke Samples to keep him from being "sold down the river."

Col. Bob offered what he thought was a fair price for my father and a

"nigger-trader" raised his bid "25 [TR: $25?]. Col. said he couldn't

afford to pay that much and father was about to be sold to the

"nigger-trader" when his father told Col. Bob that he had $25 saved

up and that if he would buy my father from Samples and keep the

"nigger-trader" from getting him he would give him the money. Col. Bob

Cowherd took my grandfather's $25 and offered to meet the traders offer

and so my father was sold to him.



The negroes in and around where I was raised were not treated badly, as

a rule, by their masters. There was one slave owner, a Mr. Heady, who

lived nearby, who treated his slave worse than any of the other owners

but I never heard of anything so awfully bad, happening to his

"niggers". He had one boy who used to come over to our place and I can

remember hearing Massa Williams call to my grandmother, to cook

"Christine, give Heady's Doc something to eat. He looks hungry." Massa

Williams always said "Heady's Doc" when speaking of him or any other

slave, saying to call him, for instance, Doc Heady would sound as if he

were Mr. Heady's own son and he said that wouldn't sound right.



When President Lincoln issued his proclamation, freeing the negroes, I

remember that my father and most all of the other younger slave men left

the farms to join the Union army. We had hard times then for awhile and

had lots of work to do. I don't remember just when I first regarded

myself as "free" as many of the negroes didn't understand just what it

was all about.





Ed. Note: Mrs. Crane will also pose for a picture.





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