Rachel Sullivan

RACHEL SULLIVAN, 1327 Reynolds Street, Augusta, Ga., Born 1852.

We found Rachel Sullivan sitting on the porch of a two room house on

Reynolds Street. She is a large, fleshy woman. Her handmade yellow

homespun was baggy and soiled, and her feet were bare, though her shoes

were beside her rocker.

We approached her cautiously. "Auntie, we heard you were one of the

slaves who used to live on Governor Pickens' place over near Edgefield."

"Yas'm, Yas'm. I shore wus. He gin us our chu'ch--de one over yonder on

de Edgefield road. No'm you can't see it fum de road. You has to cross

de creek. Old Marster had it pulled out de low ground under de brush

arbor, and set it dere."

"And what did you do on the plantation, Auntie?"

"I wus a nu's gal, 'bout 'leben years old. I nu'sed my Auntie's chillun,

while she nu'sed de lady's baby whut come from Russia wid de Marster's

wife--nu'sed dat baby fum de breas's I mean. All de white ladies had wet

nusses in dem days. Her master had just returned from Russia, where he

had been ambassador. Her baby had the czarina for a godmother."

"And so you used to look after you aunt's children?"

"Yas'm. I used to play wid 'em in de big ground wid de monuments all


"Miss Lucy Holcome was Governor Pickens' second wife, wasn't she?"

"Musta wus, ma'm."

"And were you born on the plantation at Edgefield?"

"I wus born at Ninety-six. Log Creek place was Marster's second place.

Oh, he had plantachuns everywhere, clear over to Alabama. He had

overseers on all de places, ma'm."

"Did the overseers whip you or were they good?"

"Overseers wus good. Dey better been good to us, Marster wouldn't let

'em been nothin' else. And Marster wus good. Lawdy, us had de bes'

Marster in de world. It wus great times when he come to visit de

plantachun. Oh Lord, when de Governor would come--dey brung in all de

sarvants. Marster call us 'sarvants', not 'niggers.' He say 'niggers wuk

down in de lagoons.' So when de Governor come dey brung in all de

sarvants, and all de little chillun, line 'em's up whar Marster's

cai'age gwine pass. And Marster stop dere in de lane and 'zamine us all

to see is us all right. He de bes' Marster in de world. I love his


"Den he'd talk to de overseer. Dere was Emmanuel and Mr. DeLoach. He gib

'em a charge. Dey couldn't whup us or treat us mean."

"How many slaves did your Master have, Auntie?"

"Oh, I don't know 'xactly--over a thousand in all I reckon. He had

plantachuns clear over to Alabama. Marster wus a world manager! Lordy, I

luv my Marster. Dere wus 'bout seventy plower hands, and 'bout a hunnard

hoe hands."

"Did your master ever sell any of the slaves off his plantation?"

"No'm--not 'less dey did wrong. Three of 'em had chillun by de overseer,

Mr. Whitefield, and Marster put 'em on de block. No ma'm he wouldn't

tolerate dat. He say you keep de race pure. Lawdy, he made us lib right

in dem time."

"And what did he do to the overseer?"

"He sont him off--he sont him down to de low place."

"I guess you had plenty to eat in those good old days?"

"Oh, yes ma'm--dey's kill a hunnard hogs."

"And what kind of houses did you have?"

"Des like dis street--two rows facin' each odder, only dey wus log


"Did they have only one room?"

"Yas'm. But sometimes dey drap a shed room down if dere wus heap o'


"Did you have a good time at Christmas?"

"Oh yas'm. No matter where Marster wus--crost de water er ennywhere he

send us a barrel o' apples, and chestnuts--dey had chestnuts in dem

days--and boxes o' candy. He sont 'em to 'Manuel and Mr. DeLoach to gib


"So your master would sometimes be across the water?"

"Lawdy, yas'm, he be dere somewhere in de back part o' de world. You see

he wus gov'nur. He knowed all de big people--Mr. Ben Tillman and all--he

was senetra."

"Auntie do you remember seeing any of the soldiers during the war?"

"Does I? Law honey! Dey come dere to de plantachun 'bout ten o'clock

after dey surrender. Oh and dey wus awful, some of 'em wid legs off or

arms off. De niggers took all de mules and put 'em down in de sand

field. Den dey took all de wimmens and put 'em in de chillun's house.

And dey lef' a guard dere to stand over 'em, and tell him not to git off

de foot. You know dey didn't want put no temptation in de way o' dem


"What kind of work did some of the slave women do?"

"Everything. I had a one-legged auntie--she was de seamster. She sew fum

one year end to de odder. Anodder auntie wus a loomer."

"And where did you go to church?"

"We went to de Salem Chu'ch. Yas'm we all go to chu'ch. Marster want us

to go to chu'ch. We sit on one side--so--and dey sit over dere. Dey wus

Methodis'. My mother was Methodis', but dey gib her her letter when

freedom come."

"How about dances, Auntie? Did they have dances and frolics?"

"Yassum, on Sadday night. But boys had to git a pass when dey go out or

de Padderola git 'em."

"So you had a happy time in those days, eh?"

"Lawdy, yas'm. If de world would done now like dey did den de world

wouldn't be in such a mess. I gwine on eighty-five, but I wish de young

ones wus raise now like I was raise. Marster taught us to do right."

"How many children have you?"

"I had 'leben--seben livin now." Then she laughed. "But I wus ole maid

when I git married."

"I wus twenty years old! In dem days all dey hadder do to git married

wus step over de broom."

"Step over the broom. Didn't your master have the preacher come and

marry you?"

"Lawdy, no'm. De broom wus de law!" Then she laughed. "Jus' say you

wanner be married and de couple git together 'fore witnesses and step

ober de broom."

"Do you remember when freedom came?"

"Lawdy yas'm. Mr. DeLoach come riding up to de plantachun in one o' dem

low-bellied ca'yages. He call to Jo and James--dem de boys what stay

round de house to bring wood and rake de grass and sich--he sont Jo and

Jim down to all de fields to tell all de hands to come up. Dey unhitch

de mules fum de plows and come wid de chains rattlin', and de cotton

hoers put dey hoes on dey shoulders--wid de blades shinin' in de sun,

and all come hurrying to hear what Mr. DeLoach want wid'em. Den he read

de freedom warrant to 'em. One man so upset he start runnin' and run

clear down to de riber and jump in."

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