Preston's Story

G. Monroe

Dist. 4

Jefferson County



Mrs. Preston is an old lady, 83 years old, very charming and hospitable

She lives on North Elm Street, Madison, Indiana. Her first recollections

of slavery were of sleeping on the foot of her mistress' bed, where she

could get up during the night to "feed" the fire with chips she had

gathered before dark or to get a drink or anything else her mistress

might want in the night.

Her 'Marse Brown', resided in Frankfort having taken his best horses and

hogs, and leaving his family in the care of an overseer on a farm. He

was afraid the Union soldiers would kill him, but thought his wife would

be safe. This opinion proved to be true. The overseer called the slaves

to work at four o'clock, and they worked until six in the evening.

When Mrs. Preston was a little older part of her work was to drive about

a dozen cows to and from the stable. Many a time she warmed her bare

feet in the cattle bedding. She said they did not always go barefooted

but their shoes were old or their feet wrapped in rags.

Her next promotion was to work in the fields hauling shocks of corn on a

balky mule which was subject to bucking and throwing its rider over its

head. She was aided by a little boy on another mule. There were men to

tie the shocks and place them on the mule.

She remembered seeing Union and Confederate soldiers shooting across a

river near her home. Her uncle fought two years, and returned safely at

the end of the war.

She did not feel that her Master and Mistress had mistreated their

slaves. At the close of the war, her father was given a house, land,

team and enough to start farming for himself.

Several years later the Ku Klux Klan gave them a ten days notice to

leave, one of the masked band interceded for them by pointing out that

they were quiet and peacable, and a man with a crop and ten children

couldn't possibly leave on so short a notice so the time was extended

another ten days, when they took what the Klan paid them and came north.

They remained in the north until they had to buy their groceries "a

little piece of this and a little piece of that, like they do now", when

her father returned to Kentucky. Mrs. Preston remained in Indiana. Her

father was burned out, the family escaping to the woods in their night

clothes, later befriended by a white neighbor. Now they appealed to

their former owner who built them a new house, provided necessities and

guards for a few weeks until they were safe from the Ku Klux Klan.

Mrs. Preston said she was the mother of ten children, but now lives

alone since the death of her husband three years ago. Her white

neighbors say her house is so clean, one could almost eat off the floor.

Preston Kyles Prince Bee facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail