Millie Bates

Project 1885-1

From Field Notes

Spartanburg, Dist. 4

April 28. 1937

Edited by:

Elmer Turnage


"I sho members when de soldiers come home from de war. All de women

folks, both black as well as white wuz so glad to see 'em back dat we

jus jumped up and hollered 'Oh, Lawdy, God bless you.' When you would

look around a little, you would see some widout an arm or maybe dey

would be a walkin' wid a cruch or a stick. Den you would cry some widout

lettin your white folks see you. But Jane, de worsest time of all fer us

darkies wuz when de Ku Klux killed Dan Black. We wuz little chilluns a

playin' in Dans house. We didn't know he had done nothin' ginst de white

folks. Us wuz a playin by de fire jus as nice when something hit on de

wall. Dan, he jump up and try to git outten de winder. A white spooky

thing had done come in de doo' right by me. I was so scairt dat I could

not git up. I had done fell straight out on de flo'. When Dan stick his

head outten dat winder something say bang and he fell right down in de

flo'. I crawles under de bed. When I got dar, all de other chilluns wuz

dar to, lookin' as white as ashed dough from hickory wood. Us peeped out

and den us duck under de bed agin. Ain't no bed ebber done as much good

as dat one. Den a whole lot of dem come in de house. De wuz all white

and scairy lookin'. It still makes de shivvers run down my spine and

here I is ole and you all a settin' around wid me and two mo' wars done

gone since dat awful time. Dan Black, he wo'nt no mo' kaise dey took dat

nigger and hung him to a simmon tree. Dey would not let his folks take

him down either. He jus stayed dar till he fell to pieces.

"After dat when us chilluns seed de Ku Klux a comin', us would take an'

run breakneck speed to de nearest wood. Dar we would stay till dey wuz

plum out o' sight and you could not even hear de horses feet. Dem days

wuz worse'n de war. Yes Lawd, dey wuz worse'n any war I is ebber heard


"Was not long after dat fore de spooks wuz a gwine round ebber whar.

When you would go out atter dark, somethin' would start to a haintin'

ye. You would git so scairt dat you would mighty ni run every time you

went out atter dark; even iffin you didn't see nothin'. Chile, don't axe

me what I seed. Atter all dat killin' and a burnin' you know you wuz

bliged to see things wid all dem spirits in distress a gwine all over de

land. You see, it is like dis, when a man gits killed befo he is done

what de good Lawd intended fer him to do, he comes back here and tries

to find who done him wrong. I mean he don' come back hisself, but de

spirit, it is what comes and wanders around. Course, it can't do

nothin', so it jus scares folks and haints dem."

Source: "Aunt" Millie Bates, 25 Hamlet street, Union, S. C.

Interviewer: Caldwell Sims, Union, S. C.

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