Rev Wb Allen

J.R. Jones


425-Second Ave

Columbus, Georgia

(June 29, 1937)

[JUL 28 1937]

[TR: Original index refers to "Allen, Rev. W.B. (Uncle Wash)"; however,

this informant is different from the previous informant, Washington

Allen, interviewed on Dec. 18, 1936. The previous interview for Rev.

Allen that is mentioned below is not found in this volume.]

In a second interview, the submission of which was voluntarily sought by

himself, this very interesting specimen of a rapidly vanishing type

expressed a desire to amend his previous interview (of May 10, 1937) to

incorporate the following facts:

"For a number of years before freedom, my father bought his time from

his master and traveled about over Russell County (Alabama) as a

journeyman blacksmith, doing work for various planters and making good

money--as money went in those days--on the side. At the close of the

war, however, though he had a trunk full of Confederate money, all of

his good money was gone.

Father could neither read nor write, but had a good head for figures and

was very pious. His life had a wonderful influence upon me, though I was

originally worldly--that is, I drank and cussed, but haven't touched a

drop of spirits in forty years and quit cussing before I entered the

ministry in 1879.

I learned to pray when very young and kept it up even in my unsaved

days. My white master's folks knew me to be a praying boy, and asked

me--in 1865--when the South was about whipped and General Wilson was

headed our way--to pray to God to hold the Yankees back. Of course, I

didn't have any love for any Yankees--and haven't now, for that

matter--but I told my white folks straight-from-the-shoulder that I

could not pray along those lines. I told them flat-footedly that,

while I loved them and would do any reasonable praying for them, I could

not pray against my conscience: that I not only wanted to be free, but

that I wanted to see all the Negroes freed!

I then told them that God was using the Yankees to scourge the

slave-holders just as He had, centuries before, used heathens and

outcasts to chastise His chosen people--the Children of Israel."

(Here it is to be noted that, for a slave boy of between approximately

15 and 17 years of age, remarkable familiarity with the Old Testament

was displayed.)

The Parson then entered into a mild tirade against Yankees, saying:

"The only time the Northern people ever helped the Nigger was when they

freed him. They are not friends of the Negro and many a time, from my

pulpit, have I warned Niggers about going North. No, sir, the colored

man doesn't belong in the North---has no business up there, and you may

tell the world that the Reverend W.B. Allen makes no bones about saying

that! He also says that, if it wasn't for the influence of the white

race in the South, the Negro race would revert to savagery within a

year! Why, if they knew for dead certain that there was not a policeman

or officer of the law in Columbus tonight, the good Lord only knows what

they'd do tonight"!

When the good Parson had delivered himself as quoted, he was asked a

few questions, the answers to which--as shall follow--disclose their


"The lowest down Whites of slavery days were the average overseers. A

few were gentlemen, one must admit, but the regular run of them were

trash--commoner than the 'poor white trash'--and, if possible, their

children were worse than their daddies. The name, 'overseer', was a

synonym for 'slave driver', 'cruelty', 'brutishness'. No, sir, a Nigger

may be humble and refuse to talk outside of his race--because he's

afraid to, but you can't fool him about a white man!

And you couldn't fool him when he was a slave! He knows a white man for

what he is, and he knew him the same way in slavery times."

Concerning the punishment of slaves, the Reverend said:

"I never heard or knew of a slave being tried in court for any thing. I

never knew of a slave being guilty of any crime more serious than taking

something or violating plantation rules. And the only punishment that I

ever heard or knew of being administered slaves was whipping.

I have personally known a few slaves that were beaten to death for one

or more of the following offenses:

Leaving home without a pass,

Talking back to--'sassing'--a white person,

Hitting another Negro,

Fussing, fighting, and rukkussing in the quarters,


Loitering on their work,

Taking things--the Whites called it stealing.

Plantation rules forbade a slave to:

Own a firearm,

Leave home without a pass,

Sell or buy anything without his master's consent,

Marry without his owner's consent,

Have a light in his cabin after a certain hour at night,

Attend any secret meeting,

Harbor or [HW: in] any manner assist a runaway slave,

Abuse a farm animal,

Mistreat a member of his family, and do

A great many other things."

When asked if he had ever heard slaves plot an insurrection, the Parson

answered in the negative.

When asked if he had personal knowledge of an instance of a slave

offering resistance to corporal punishment, the Reverend shook his head,

but said:

"Sometimes a stripped Nigger would say some hard things to the white man

with the strap in his hand, though he knew that he (the Negro) would pay

for it dearly, for when a slave showed spirit that way the master or

overseer laid the lash on all the harder."

When asked how the women took their whippings, he said:

"They usually screamed and prayed, though a few never made a sound."

The Parson has had two wives and five children. Both wives and three of

his children are dead. He is also now superannuated, but occasionally

does a "little preaching", having only recently been down to Montezuma,

Georgia, on a special call to deliver a message to the Methodist flock


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