Rev Squire Dowd

N. C. District: No. 2 [320156]

Worker: T. Pat Matthews

No. Words: 1369


Story Teller: Rev. Squire Dowd

Editor: Daisy Bailey Waitt

[HW: Minister--Interesting]

[TR: Date Stamp "JUN 1 1937"]

[HW: language not negro, very senternous & interesting.]

[TR: The above comment is crossed out.]


202 Battle Street

Raleigh, N. C.

My name is Squire Dowd, and I was born April 3, 1855. My mother's name

was Jennie Dowd. My father's name was Elias Kennedy. My mother died in

Georgia at the age of 70, and my father died in Moore County at the age

of 82. I attended his funeral. My sister and her husband had carried my

mother to Georgia, when my sister's husband went there to work in

turpentine. My mother's husband was dead. She had married a man named

Stewart. You could hardly keep up with your father during slavery time.

It was a hard thing to do. There were few legal marriages. When a young

man from one plantation courted a young girl on the plantation, the

master married them, sometimes hardly knowing what he was saying.

My master was General W. D. Dowd. He lived three miles from Carthage, in

Moore County, North Carolina. He owned fifty slaves. The conditions were

good. I had only ten years' experience, but it was a good experience. No

man is fool enough to buy slaves to kill. I have never known a real

slave owner to abuse his slaves. The abuse was done by patterollers and


I have a conservative view of slavery. I taught school for four years

and I have been in the ministry fifty years. I was ordained a Christian

minister in 1885. I lived in Moore County until 1889, then I moved to

Raleigh. I have feeling. I don't like for people to have a feeling that

slaves are no more than dogs; I don't like that. It causes people to

have the wrong idea of slavery. Here is John Bectom, a well, healthy

friend of mine, 75 years of age. If we had been treated as some folks

say, these big, healthy niggers would not be walking about in the South

now. The great Negro leaders we have now would never have come out of


The places we lived in were called cabins. The Negroes who were thrifty

had nice well-kept homes; and it is thus now. The thrifty of the colored

race live well; the others who are indolent live in hovels which smell

foul and are filthy.

Prayer meetings were held at night in the cabins of the slaves. On

Sunday we went to the white folk's church. We sat in a barred-off place,

in the back of the church or in a gallery.

We had a big time at cornshuckings. We had plenty of good things to

eat, and plenty of whiskey and brandy to drink. These shuckings were

held at night. We had a good time, and I never saw a fight at a

cornshucking in life. If we could catch the master after the shucking

was over, we put him in a chair, we darkies, and toted him around and

hollered, carried him into the parlor, set him down, and combed his

hair. We only called the old master "master". We called his wife

"missus." When the white children grew up we called them Mars. John,

Miss Mary, etc.

We had some money. We made baskets. On moonlight nights and holidays we

cleared land; the master gave us what we made on the land. We had


The darkies also stole for deserters during the war. They paid us for

it. I ate what I stole, such as sugar. I was not big enough to steal for

the deserters. I was a house boy. I stole honey. I did not know I was

free until five years after the war. I could not realize I was free.

Many of us stayed right on. If we had not been ruined right after the

war by carpetbaggers our race would have been, well,--better up by this

time, because they turned us against our masters, when our masters had

everything and we had nothing. The Freedmen's Bureau helped us some, but

we finally had to go back to the plantation in order to live.

We got election days, Christmas, New Year, etc., as holidays. When we

were slaves we had a week or more Christmas. The holidays lasted from

Christmas Eve to after New Years. Sometimes we got passes. If our

master would not give them to us, the white boys we played with would

give us one. We played cat, jumping, wrestling and marbles. We played

for fun; we did not play for money. There were 500 acres on the

plantation. We hunted a lot, and the fur of the animals we caught we

sold and had the money. We were allowed to raise a few chickens and

pigs, which we sold if we wanted to.

The white folks rode to church and the darkies walked, as many of the

poor white folks did. We looked upon the poor white folks as our equals.

They mixed with us and helped us to envy our masters. They looked upon

our masters as we did.

Negro women having children by the masters was common. My relatives on

my mother's side, who were Kellys are mixed blooded. They are partly

white. We, the darkies and many of the whites hate that a situation like

this exists. It is enough to say that seeing is believing. There were

many and are now mixed blooded people among the race.

I was well clothed. Our clothes were made in looms. Shoes were made on

the plantation. Distilleries were also located on the plantation. When

they told me I was free, I did not notice it. I did not realize it till

many years after when a man made a speech at Carthage, telling us we

were free.

I did not like the Yankees. We were afraid of them. We had to be

educated to love the Yankees, and to know that they freed us and were

our friends. I feel that Abraham Lincoln was a father to us. We consider

him thus because he freed us. The Freedmen's Bureau and carpet baggers

caused us to envy our masters and the white folks. The Ku Klux Klan,

when we pushed our rights, came in between us, and we did not know what

to do. The Ku Klux were after the carpet baggers and the Negroes who

followed them.

It was understood that white people were not to teach Negroes during

slavery, but many of the whites taught the Negroes. The children of the

white folks made us study. I could read and write when the war was up.

They made me study books, generally a blue-back spelling book as

punishment for mean things I done. My Missus, a young lady about 16

years old taught a Sunday School class of colored boys and girls. This

Sunday School was held at a different time of day from the white folks.

Sometimes old men and old women were in these classes. I remember once

they asked Uncle Ben Pearson who was meekest man, 'Moses' he replied.

'Who was the wisest man?' 'Soloman', 'Who was the strongest man?' was

then asked him. To this he said 'They say Bill Medlin is the strongest,

but Tom Shaw give him his hands full.' They were men of the community.

Medlin was white, Shaw was colored.

I do not like the way they have messed up our songs with classical

music. I like the songs, 'Roll Jordan Roll', 'Old Ship of Zion', 'Swing

Low Sweet Chariot'. Classical singers ruin them, though.

There was no use of our going to town of Saturday afternoon to buy our

rations, so we worked Saturday afternoons. When we got sick the doctors

treated us. Dr. J. D. Shaw, Dr. Bruce, and Dr. Turner. They were the

first doctors I ever heard any tell of. They treated both whites and

darkies on my master's plantation.

I married a Matthews, Anna Matthews, August 1881. We have one daughter.

Her name is Ella. She married George Cheatam of Henderson, N. C. A

magistrate married us, Mr. Pitt Cameron. It was just a quiet wedding on

Saturday night with about one-half dozen of my friends present.

My idea of life is to forget the bad and live for the good there is in

it. This is my motto.

B. N.

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