Nan Stewart

Sarah Probst, Reporter

Audrey Meighen, Author-Editor

Jun 9, 1937


Meigs County, District Three

[HW: Middeport]


Age 87

"I'se bawned Charl'stun, West Virginia in February 1850."

"My mammy's name? Hur name wuz Kath'run Paine an' she wuz bawned down

Jackson County, Virginia. My pappy wuz John James, a coopah an' he wuz

bawned at Rock Creek, West Virginia. He cum'd ovah heah with Lightburn's

Retreat. Dey all crossed de ribah at Buffington Island. Yes, I had two

bruthahs and three sistahs. Deir wuz Jim, Thomas, he refugeed from

Charl'stun to Pum'roy and it tuk him fo' months, den de wuz sistah Adah,

Carrie an' Ella. When I rite young I wurked as hous' maid fo' numbah

quality white folks an' latah on I wuz nurs' fo' de chilluns in sum

homes, heah abouts."

"Oh, de slaves quartahs, dey wuz undah de sam' ruf with Marse Hunt's big

hous' but in de back. When I'se littl' I sleeped in a trun'l bed. My

mammy wuz mighty 'ticlar an' clean, why she made us chilluns wash ouah

feets ebry night fo' we git into de bed."

"When Marse Hunt muved up to Charl'stun, my mammy and pappy liv' in log


"My gran' mammy, duz I 'member hur? Honey chile, I shure duz. She wuz my

pappy's mammy. She wuz one hun'erd and fo' yeahs ol' when she die rite

in hur cheer. Dat mawhin' she eat a big hearty brekfast. One day I

'member she sezs to Marse Hunt, 'I hopes you buys hun'erds an' hun'erds

ob slaves an' neber sells a one. Hur name wuz Erslie Kizar Chartarn."

"Marse an' missus, mighty kind to us slaves. I lurned to sew, piece

quilts, clean de brass an' irons an' dog irons. Most time I set with de

ol' ladies, an' light deir pipes, an' tote 'em watah, in gourds. I us'

tu gether de turkey eggs an' guinea eggs an' sell 'em. I gits ten cents

duzen fo' de eggs. Marse and Missus wuz English an' de count money like

dis--fo' pence, ha' penny. Whut I do with my money? Chile I saved it to

buy myself a nankeen dress."

"Yes mam we always had plenty to eat. What'd I like bes' to eat,

waffl's, honey and stuffed sausage, but I spise possum and coon. Marse

Hunt had great big meat hous' chuck full all kinds of meats. Say, do you

all know Marse used to keep stuffed sausage in his smoke hous' fo' yeahs

an' it wuz shure powahful good when it wuz cooked. Ouah kitchin wuz big

an' had great big fiah place whur we'd bake ouah bread in de ashes. We

baked ouah corn pone an' biskets in a big spidah. I still have dat

spidah an' uses it."

"By the way you knows Squire Gellison wuz sum fishahman an' shure to

goodness ketched lots ob fish. Why he'd ketch so many, he'd clean 'em,

cut 'em up, put 'em in half barrels an' pass 'em 'round to de people on

de farms."

"Most de slaves on Marse Hunt's place had dir own garden patches.

Sumtimes dey'd have to hoe the gardens by moonlight. Dey sell deir

vegetables to Marse Hunt."

"In de summah de women weah dresses and apruns made ob linen an' men

weah pants and shurts ob linen. Linsey-woolsey and jean wuz woven on de

place fo' wintah clothes. We had better clothes to weah on Sunday and we

weahed shoes on Sunday. The' shoes and hoots wuz made on de plantashun."

"My mastah wuz Marse Harley Hunt an' his wife wuz Miss Maria Sanders

Hunt. Marse and Miss Hunt didn't hab no chilluns of der own but a nephew

Marse Oscar Martin and niece Miss Mary Hunt frum Missouri lived with

'em. Dey's all kind to us slaves. De Hous' wuz great big white frame

with picket fence all 'round de lot. When we lived Charl'stun Marse Hunt

wuz a magistrate. Miss Hunt's muthah and two aunts lived with 'em."

"No mam, we didn't hab no ovahseeah. Marse Hunt had no use fo'

ovahseeahs, fact is he 'spise 'em. De oldah men guided de young ones in

deir labors. The poor white neighbahs wurn't 'lowed to live very close

to de plantashun as Marse Hunt wanted de culured slave chilluns to be

raised in propah mannah."

"I duzn't know how many acres in de plantashun. Deir wuz only 'bout

three or fo' cabins on de place. Wurk started 'bout seben clock 'cept

harvest time when ebrybudy wuz up early. De slaves didn't wurk so hard

nor bery late at night. Slaves wuz punished by sendin' 'em off to bed


"When I'se livin' at Red House I seed slaves auctioned off. Ol' Marse

Veneable sold ten or lebin slaves, women and chilluns, to niggah tradahs

way down farthah south. I well 'members day Aunt Millie an' Uncl' Edmund

wuz sold--dir son Harrison wuz bought by Marse Hunt. 'Twuz shure sad an'

folks cried when Aunt Millie and Uncl' Edmund wuz tuk away. Harrison

neber see his mammy an' pappy agin. Slaves wuz hired out by de yeah fo'

nine hundred dollahs."

"Marse Hunt had schools fo' de slaves chilluns. I went to school on

Lincoln Hill, too."

"Culured preachahs use to cum to plantashun an' dey would read de Bible

to us. I 'member one special passage preachahs read an' I neber

understood it 'til I cross de riber at Buffinton Island. It wuz, 'But

they shall sit every man under his own vine and under his fig tree; and

none shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of Hosts hath

spoken it." Micah 4:4. Den I knows it is de fulfillment ob dat promis;

'I would soon be undah my own vine an' fig tree' and hab no feah of

bein' sold down de riber to a mean Marse. I recalls der wuz Thorton

Powell, Ben Sales and Charley Releford among de preachahs. De church wuz

quite aways frum de hous'. When der'd be baptizins de sistahs and

brethruns would sing 'Freely, freely will you go with me, down to the

riber'. 'Freely, freely quench your thirst Zion's sons and daughtahs'."

"How wells I 'member when I wuz converted. I'd thought 'bout 'ligion a

lot but neber wunce wuz I muved to repent. One day I went out to cut sum

wood an' begin thinkin' agin and all wunce I feeled so relieved an' good

an' run home to tell granny an' de uthahs dat I'd cum out at last."

"No, we didn't wurk on Saturday aftahnoons. Christmas wuz big time at

Marse Hunts hous'. Preparations wuz made fo' it two weeks fo' day cum.

Der wuz corn sings an' big dances, 'ceptin' at 'ligious homes. Der wuz

no weddins' at Marse Hunts, cause dey had no chilluns an' de niece and

nephew went back to own homes to git married."

"We played sich games as marbles; yarn ball; hop, skip, an' jump; mumble

peg an' pee wee. Wunce I's asked to speak down to white chilluns school

an' dis is what I speak:

'The cherries are ripe,

The cherries are ripe,

Oh give the baby one,

The baby is too little to chew,

The robin I see up in the tree,

Eating his fill and shaking his bill,

And down his throat they run.'

Another one:

'Tobacco is an Indian weed,

And from the devil doth proceed

It robs the pocket and burns the clothes

And makes a chimney of the nose.'

"When de slaves gits sick, deir mammies luked af'er em but de Marse

gived de rem'dies. Yes, dere wuz dif'runt kinds, salts, pills, Castah

orl, herb teas, garlic, 'fedia, sulphah, whiskey, dog wood bark,

sahsaparilla an' apple root. Sometimes charms wuz used.

"I 'member very well de day de Yankees cum. De slaves all cum a runnin'

an' yellin': "Yankees is cumin', Yankee soljers is comin', hurrah". Bout

two or three clock, we herd bugles blowing' an' guns on Taylah Ridge.

Kids wuz playin' an' all 'cited. Sumone sed: "Kathrun, sumthin' awful

gwine happen", an' sumone else sez; "De' is de Yankees". De Yankee mens

camp on ouah farm an' buyed ouah buttah, milk an' eggs. Marse Hunt, whut

you all call 'bilionist [HW: abolitionist] an' he wuz skeered of suthern

soljers an' went out to de woods an' laid behind a log fo' seben weeks

and seben days, den he 'cided to go back home. He sez he had a dream an'

prayed, "I had bettah agone, but I prayed. No use let des debils take

you, let God take you." We tote food an' papahs to Marse while he wuz a


"One ob my prized possessions is Abraham Lincoln's pictures an' I'se

gwine to gib it to a culured young man whose done bin so kind to me,

when I'se gone. Dat's Bookah T. Washington's picture ovah thar."

"I'se married heah in Middeport by Preachah Bill, 1873. My husban' wuz

Charles Stewart, son of Johnny Stewart. Deir wuz hous' full my own

folks, mammy, pappy, sistahs, bruthas, an' sum white folks who cumed in

to hep dress me up fo' de weddin'. We kep de weddin' a secrut an' my

aunt butted hur horns right off tryin' to fin' out when it wuz. My

husban' had to leave right away to go to his job on de boat. We had

great big dinnah, two big cakes an' ice cream fo' desurt. We had fo'teen

chilluns with only two livin'. I has five gran' sons an' two great gran'


"Goodbye--cum back agin."

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