Ruby Lorraine Radford

[HW: Dist. #2

Ex. Slave #99]








[Date Stamp: MAY 8 1937]


The ex-slaves interviewed ranged in ages from 75 to 100 years old. Out

of about thirty-five negroes contacted only two seemed to feel bitter

over memories of slave days. All the others spoke with much feeling and

gratitude of the good old days when they were so well cared for by their

masters. Without exception the manners of these old men and women were

gentle and courteous. The younger ones could pass on to us only

traditional memories of slavery times, as given them by their parents;

on some points a few were vague, while others could give clear-cut and

vivid pictures.

Practically all the Negroes interviewed seemed to be of pure African

blood, with black or dark brown skin, Negroid features, and kinky,

tightly wrapped wool. Most of the women were small and thin. We found

one who had a strain of Indian blood, a woman named Mary, who belonged

to John Roof. Her grandfather was an Indian, and her grandmother was

part Indian, having migrated into South Carolina from Virginia.

Sarah Ray, who was born on the Curtis Lowe place in McDuffie County was

one of the few ex-slaves contacted, who was admittedly half-white.

Although now wrinkled and weazened with age she has no definite Negroid

features. Her eyes are light hazel and her hair fluffs about her face in

soft ringlets instead of the tight kinks of the pure Negro.

"My father was a white man, de overseer," said Sarah. "Leastways, dey

laid me to him."

Sarah was brought up like the Negro children on the plantation. She had

no hard work to do. Her mother was a field hand, and they lived in a

little house in the quarters. "De ve'y fust thing I kin remember is

ridin' down de road in de ox cart wid my mammy," she said. "Ole man Eli

wus drivin'. We wus goin' to Miss Meg's on de odder side o' Hart's

Branch. Marster had give us to Miss Meg when she married Mr. Obediah



The slave houses were called "quarters," which consisted generally of a

double row of houses facing each other in a grove of trees behind the

"big house." On prosperous plantations each of these cabins had a garden

plot and a chicken yard. Some of them were built of logs, but many were

of planks. Most of them were large, one-room, unceiled, with open

fireplaces at one end for cooking. When families grew too large a shed

room would be "drap down on de back." Another type of slave cabin was

called the "Double-pen" house. This was a large two-room cabin, with a

chimney between the two rooms, and accommodating two families. On the

more prosperous plantations the slave quarters were white-washed at


On plantations housing arrangements were left entirely to the discretion

of the owner, but in the cities strict rules were made. Among the

ordinances of the City Council of Augusta, dated from August 10th,

1820-July 8, 1829, Section 14, is the following law concerning the

housing of slaves:

"No person of color shall occupy any house but that of some white person

by whom he or she is owned or hired without a license from the City

Council. If this license is required application must first be made for

permission to take it out. If granted the applicant shall give bond with

approved security, not exceeding the sum of $100.00 for his or her good

behavior. On execution of charge the Clerk shall issue the license. Any

person renting a house, or tenament contrary to this section or

permitting the occupancy of one, may be fined in a sum not exceeding


Descriptions were given of housing conditions by quite a number of

slaves interviewed. Fannie Fulcher, who was a slave on Dr. Balding

Miller's plantation in Burke County described the slave quarters thus:

"Houses wus built in rows, one on dat side, one on dis side--open space

in de middle, and de overseer's house at de end, wid a wide hall right

through it. (Fannie was evidently referring to the breezeway or dogtrot,

down the middle of many small plantation houses). We cook on de

fireplace in de house. We used to have pots hanging right up in de

chimbley. When dere wus lots of chillun it wus crowded. But sometimes

dey took some of 'em to de house for house girls. Some slep' on de flo'

and some on de bed. Two-three houses had shed rooms at de back. Dey had

a patch sometime. My father, he used to have a patch. He clean it up

hisself at night in de swamp."

Susie Brown, of the Evans Plantation on Little River in Columbia County

said, in describing the Quarters, "Dey look like dis street." She

indicated the unpaved street with its rows of unpainted shacks. "Some of

dem wus plank houses and some wus log houses, two rooms and a shed room.

And we had good beds, too--high tester beds wid good corn shuck and hay


On the plantation of John Roof the slave cabins were of logs. Large

families had two or three rooms; smaller ones one or two rooms.

Susannah Wyman, who was a slave on the Starling Freeman place near Troy,

S.C. said, "Our houses wus made outer logs. We didn't have nothin' much

nohow, but my mammy she had plenty o' room fer her chillun. We didn't

sleep on de flo', we had bed. De people in de plantachun all had bed."

Others described mattresses made of straw and corn shucks. Another said,

"Yas'm, we had good cotton mattresses. Marster let us go to de gin house

and git all de cotton we need."

Another described the sleeping conditions thus, "Chillun pretty much

slep' on de flo' and old folks had beds. Dey wus made out o' boards

nailed togedder wid a rope strung across it instead o' springs, and a

cotton mattress across it."


Many of the Negroes with whom we talked looked back on those days of

plenty with longing. Rations of meal, bacon and syrup were given out

once a week by the overseer. Vegetables, eggs and chickens raised in the

little plots back of the cabins were added to these staples.

Ellen Campbell, who was owned by Mr. William Eve of Richmond County

said, "My boss would feed 'em good. He was killin' hogs stidy fum

Jinuary to March. He had two smokehouses. Dere wus four cows. At night

de folks on one side de row o' cabins go wid de piggins fer milk, and in

de mawnin's, dose on de odder side go fer de piggins o' milk."

"And did you have plenty of other good things to eat?" we asked.

"Law, yas'm. Rations wus give out to de slaves; meal, meat, and jugs o'

syrup. Dey give us white flour at Christmas. Every slave family had de

gyarden patch and chickens. Marster buy eggs and chickens fum us at

market prices."

Another slave told us that when the slaves got hungry before dinner time

they would ask the nursing mothers to bring them back hoe-cake when they

went to nurse the babies. Those hot hoe-cakes were eaten in mid-morning,

"to hold us till dinner-time."

On one plantation where the mother was the cook for the owner, her

children were fed from the big kitchen.

A piece of iron crossed the fireplace, and the pots hung down on hooks.

"Us cooked corn dodgers," one ex-slave recalled, "the hearth would be

swept clean, the ash cakes wrapped up into corn shucks and cooked brown.

They sure was good!"


The large plantations were really industrial centers in which almost

everything necessary to the life of the white family and the large

retinue of slaves was grown or manufactured. On estates where there were

many slaves there were always trained blacksmiths, coopers, carpenters,

tanners, shoemakers, seamstresses, laundresses, weavers, spinners, cooks

and house servants; all employed in the interest of the community life

of the plantation. Those who could not learn to do any of this skilled

work were turned into the fields and called, "hands". Both men and women

were employed in the fields where cotton, corn, rice and tobacco were

cultivated. House servants ware always considered superior to field


Melinda Mitchell, who was born a slave in Edgefield, S.C., said, "My

family wasn't fiel' hands. We wus all house servants. My father wus de

butler, and he weighed out de rations fer de slaves. My mammy wus de

house 'oman and her mother and sister wus de cooks. Marster wouldn't

sell none of his slaves, and when he wanted to buy one he'd buy de whole

fambly to keep fum havin' 'em separated."

At an early age Melinda and her younger sister were given to the two

young ladies of the house as their personal maids. "I wus given to Miss

Nettie," Melinda said, "Our young Mistresses visited, too, and wherever

dey went my sister and me went erlong. My own mammy took long trips with

ole Mistis to de Blue Ridge Mountains and sometimes over de big water."

Susannah Wyman of the Starling Freeman plantation in South Carolina

said, "The house servants wuz trained to cook, clean up, de man wuz

trained to make shoes. I don't think us had carpenters. I toted water in

de field, hoed some. I wuz quite young. I spun but I didn't weave. Dere

wuz a lady dey had on de place did de weavin'. I had many a striped

dress woven on dat big loom and dey wuz pretty, too."

Susie Brown, who used to live on the Evans plantation on Little River in

Columbia County was too little to do any hard work during slavery times.

"I jus' stayed at home and 'tend de baby," she said. "But my mother was

a cook and my father a blacksmith."

Mary's mother was a plantation weaver. "Mistis would cut out dresses out

of homespun. We had purple dyed checks. They was pretty. I had to sew

seams. Marster had to buy shoes for us, he give us good-soled ones."

Easter Jones, who had only bitter memories of the slavery period said,

"Sometimes we eben had to pull fodder on Sunday. But what I used to hate

worse'n anything was wipin' dishes. Dey'd make me take de dish out de

scaldin' water, den if I drap it dey whip me. Dey whip you so hard your

back bleed, den dey pour salt and water on it. And your shirt stick to

your back, and you hadder get somebody to grease it 'fore you kin take

it off."

Ellen Campbell, who used to belong to Mr. William Eve said she did only

simple jobs about the plantation in childhood, "When I was 'bout ten

years old dey started me totin' water--you know ca'yin' water to de

hands in de field. 'Bout two years later I got my first field job

'tending sheep. When I wus fifteen year old Missus gib me to Miss Eva,

you know she de one marry Colonel Jones. My young Mistus was fixin' to

git married, but she couldn't on account de war, so she brought me to

town and rented me out to a lady runnin' a boarding house. De rent wus

paid to my Mistus. One day I was takin' a tray from de out-door kitchen

to de house when I stumbled and dropped it. De food spill all over de

ground. Da lady got so mad she picked up de butcher knife and chop me in

de haid. I went runnin' till I come to da place where mah white folks

live. Miss Eva took me and wash de blood out mah head and put medicine

on it, and she wrote a note to de lady and she say, 'Ellen is my slave,

give to me by my mother. I wouldn't had dis happen to her no more dan to

me. She won't come back dere no more.'"

Willis Bennefield, who was a slave on Dr. Balding Miller's plantation in

Burke County, said, "I wuk in de fiel' and I drove him 30 years. He was

a doctor. He had a ca'iage and a buggy, too. My father driv de ca'iage.

I driv de doctor. Sometimes I was fixin' to go to bed and had to hitch

up my horse and go five or six miles. He had regular saddle horses, two

pair o' horses fer de ca'iage. He was a rich man--riches' man in Burke

County--had three hundred slaves. He made his money on de plantachuns,

not doctorin'."

Fannie Fulcher, who was also one of Dr. Miller's slaves, and Willis

Bennefield's sister gives this account of the slaves' work in earning

extra money. "De marster give 'em ev'y day work clothes, but dey bought

de res' deyselves. Some raise pumpkins, squashes, potatoes, all sich

things like dat in dey patches; sell 'em to different stores. Jus' like

somebody want ground clear up, dey git big torches fer light, clean up

de new groun' at night, dat money b'long to dem. I year my mother and

father say de slaves made baskets and quilts and things and sell 'em for



The following appears in the Statue Laws of Georgia for 1845 concerning

educating negroes, under Section II, Minor Offences.

"Punishment for teaching slaves or free persons of color to

read. If any slave, negro, or free person of color, or any

white person, shall teach any other slave, negro or free

person of color, to read or write either written or printed

characters, the said free person of color or slave shall be

punished by fine and whipping, or fine or whipping, at the

direction of the court."

Among the ordinances passed by the City of Augusta, effective between

August 10th, 1820 and July 8th, 1829, was the following concerning the

teaching of negroes:

"No person shall teach a negro or person of color to read or

cause any one to be taught within the limits of the City, nor

shall any person suffer a school for the instruction of

negroes, or persons of color to be kept on his or her lot."

None of the ex-slaves whom we interviewed could either read or write.

Old Willis Bennefield, who used to accompany his young master to school,

said he "larned something then. I got way up in my A B Cs, but atter I

got to thinkin' 'bout gals I fergit all 'bout dat."

Another slave said, "We had a school on our plantation and a Negro

teacher named, Mathis, but they couldn't make me learn nothin'. I sure

is sorry now."

Easter Jones, who was once a slave of Lawyer Bennet, on a plantation

about ten miles from Waynesboro, said, when we asked if she had been to

school, "Chillun didn't know whut a book wus in dem days--dey didn't

teach 'em nothin' but wuk. Dey didn' learn me nothin' but to churn and

clean up house, and 'tend to dat boy and spin and cyard de roll."


Most of the ex-slaves interviewed received their early religious

training in the churches of their masters. Many churches which have

slave sections in this district are still standing. Sometimes the slaves

sat in pews partitioned off at the back of the church, and sometimes

there was a gallery with a side entrance.

The old Bath Presbyterian Church had a gallery and private entrance of

this kind. Sunday Schools were often conducted for the slaves on the


Among the ordinances passed by the City of Augusta, February 7, 1862,

was section forty-seven, which concerned negro preaching and teaching:

"No slave or free person of color shall be allowed to preach,

exhort or teach, in any meeting of slaves or free persons of

color, for public worship or religious instruction in this

city, but except at funerals or sitting up with the dead,

without a license in writing from the Inferior Court of

Richmond County, and Mayor of the City, regularly granted

under the Act of the General Assembly of this State, passed

on the 23rd day of December, 1843.

"No colored preacher residing out of the County of Richmond,

shall preach, exhort, or teach, until he has produced his

license granted under the Act aforesaid, and had the same

countersigned by the Mayor of this City, or in his absence

by two members of Council.

"Persons qualified as aforesaid, may hold meetings in this city

for the purpose aforesaid, at any time during the Sabbath day,

and on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights. No other meetings

of slaves or free persons of color for religious purposes shall

be held, except by permission of Council.

"No meeting of slaves or free persons of color for the purpose

aforesaid, shall continue at any time later than 10:30 at

night, and all such meetings shall be superintended by one or

more citizens, appointed by the ministers in charge of their

respective denominations, and approved by the Mayor. All slaves

or free persons of color attending such meetings, after that

hour, shall be arrested, and punished, under the Section,

whether with or without tickets from their owners; and all such

persons returning from such meetings after the ringing of the

Market Bell, without tickets, shall be arrested and punished

as in other cases.

"Every offense against this section shall be punished by

whipping, not exceeding 39 lashes, or fined not exceeding


Harriet White, who told us some of her father's slavery experiences

said, "Yas'm, dey let'em go to chu'ch, but de colored folks hadder sit

behind a boarded up place, so dey hadder stretch dey neck to see de

preacher, and den day hadder jine de Master's chu'ch--de Methodis'

Chu'ch. De spirit done tole my father to jine da Baptis' Chu'ch--dat de

right t'ing, but he hadder jine de Methodis', 'cause his Master was

Methodis'. But when he come to Augusta he wus baptise in de river. He

say he gwine ca'y God's point."

We asked Ellen Campbell of the Eve Plantation in Richmond County about

church going. She replied, "Yas'm, we used to go to town. But de

Padderolas wus ridin' in dem days, and you couldn' go off de plantachun

widout a pass. So my boss he built a brick chu'ch on de plantachun, and

de D'Laigles built a chu'ch on dere's."

Susie Brown, who was a slave on the Evans Plantation in Columbia County,

said, in speaking of her mother getting religion, "My Maw and Paw wasn't

married till after freedom. When my Maw got 'ligion dey wouldn' let her

be baptise till she was married." She stated that her mother had seven

children then. Aunt Susie had had eight children herself, but her

husband was now dead. When asked why she didn't get married again, she

replied, "Whut I wanner git married fer? I ain' able to wuk fer myself

let alone a man!"

Augustus Burden, who was born a slave on General Walker's plantation at

Windsor Springs, Ga., said, "We had no churches on our place. We went to

the white people's church at Hale's Gate. Then after they stopped the

colored people going there to church, they had their little meetings

right at home. We had one preacher, a real fine preacher, named Ned

Walker, who was my uncle by marriage."

Fannie Fulcher, a former slave on Dr. Miller's plantation in Burke

County, gave this unique account of the slave children's early religious

trainings: "Dey had a ole lady stay in de quarters who tuk care o' de

chillun whilst de mother wus in de fiel'. Den dey met at her house at

dark, and a man name, Hickman, had prayers. Dey all kneel down. Den de

chillun couln' talk till dey got home--if you talk you git a whippin'

frum de ole lady nex' night. Ole granny whip 'em."

Fannie said the slaves went to the "white folks church," and that "white

folks baptise 'em at Farmer's Bridge or Rock Creek." A white preacher

also married the slaves.


In 1757 the Patrol System was organized. This was done as a result of

continual threats of uprisings among the slaves. All white male citizens

living in each district, between the ages of 16 and 45 were eligible for

this service. The better class of people paid fines to avoid this duty.

Members of the patrol group could commit no violence, but had power to

search Negro houses and premises, and break up illegal gatherings. They

were on duty from nine at night until dawn.

By 1845 there were many laws on the Statute books of Georgia concerning

the duties of patrols. The justice of the peace in each captain's

district of the state was empowered to decide who was eligible to patrol

duty and to appoint the patrol. Every member of the patrol was required

to carry a pistol while on duty. They were required to arrest all slaves

found outside their master's domain without a pass, or who was not in

company with some white person. He was empowered to whip such slave with

twenty lashes. He also had power to search for offensive weapons and

fugitive slaves. Every time a person evaded patrol duty he was required

to pay the sum of five dollars fine.

The entire life of the slave was hedged about with rules and

regulations. Beside those passed by individual masters for their own

plantations there were many city and state laws. Severe punishment, such

as whipping on the bare skin, was the exception rather than the rule,

though some slaves have told of treatment that was actually inhuman.

In 1845 the following laws had been passed in Georgia, the violation of

which brought the death penalty:

"Capital crimes when punished with death: The following shall

be considered as capital offenses, when committed by a slave or

free person of color: insurrection or an attempt to excite it;

committing a rape, or attempting it on a free white female;

murder of a free white person, or murder of a slave or free

person of color, or poisoning a human being; every and each of

these offenses shall, on conviction, be punished with death."

There were severe punishments for a slave striking a white person,

burning or attempting to burn a house, for circulating documents to

incite insurrection, conspiracy or resistance of slaves. It was against

the law for slaves to harbor other fugitive slaves, to preach without a

license, or to kill or brand cattle without instructions.

In Section Forty-Five of the Ordinances of the City of Augusta, passed

on Feb. 7, 1862, were the following restrictions:

"Any slave or free person of color found riding or driving

about the city, not having a written pass from his or her

owner, hirer, or guardian, expressing the date of such pass,

the name of the negro to whom it is given, the place or places

to which he or she is going, how long he or she is to be

absent, and in the case of a slave, that such slave is in the

services of the person before the Recorder's Court by which he

or she shall be tried, and on conviction shall be punished by

whipping not to exceed 39 lashes.

"No slave or free person of color, other than Ministers of the

Gospel, having charge of churches, in the discharge of their

duties, and funeral processions, shall be allowed to ride or

drive within the limits of the city, on the Sabbath, without

written permission from his or her owner, or employer, stating

that such slave or free parson of color is on business of such

owners or employer.

"Every slave or free person of color not excepted as aforesaid,

who shall be found riding or driving in the city on the

Sabbath, without such permission from his or her owner or

employer shall be arrested and taken to Recorder's Court; and

if such slave or free person of color was actually engaged in

the business of said owner or employer, the said slave or free

person of color shall be convicted and punished by whipping,

not to exceed 39 lashes, which punishment in no case be

commuted by a fine.

"It shall be the duty of the officer making the arrest of such

slave or free person of color as aforesaid, to take into his

possession the horse or horse and vehicle, or horses and

vehicles, so used by such slave or free person of color, which

property may be redeemed by the owner, if white, upon the

payment of $10.00, and if the owner of such property is a slave

or free person of color, he or she shall be punished by

whipping not less than 15 lashes."

"No slave or free person of color shall be allowed to attend

military parades, or any procession of citizens, or at the

markethouse on public sale days under the penalty of receiving

not exceeding 15 lashes, for each and every offense, to be

inflicted by the Chief of Police, Captain or any lieutenant;

provided no person shall be prevented from having the

attendance of his own servant on such occasions."

"No slave or free person of color shall walk with a cane, club,

or stick, except such slave or free person of color be blind or

infirm; nor smoke a pipe or cigar in any street, lane, alley or

other public place, under a penalty of not exceeding 25 lashes,

to be inflicted by any officer of the City, by order of the

Recorder's Court."


"No slave or free person of color shall play upon any

instrument of music after sunset, without permission from the

mayor or two members of Council, unless employed in the house

of some citizen. No slave or free person of color shall be

absent from his or her house 15 minutes after the bell shall

have been rung, without a sufficient pass, under the penalty

of 25 lashes, to be inflicted by the Chief of Police, or any

officer of the City, and be confined in the Guard-Room for

further examination, if found under suspicious circumstances.

No slave or person of color shall keep lights in the house

which they occupy after 10:00 at night, unless in case of



"No slave or free person of color shall in the streets or

alleys, fight, quarrel, riot, or otherwise, act in a disorderly

manner, under the penalty of chastisement by any officer of the

city, not exceeding 25 lashes, and in all cases of conviction

before the Recorder's Court, he or she shall be punished by

whipping, not exceeding 75 lashes.

"No slave or free person of color, shall be allowed to keep a

shop or shops for the sale of beer, cake, fruit, soda water, or

any similar articles on their own account or for the benefit

of any other person whomsoever. Any slave or slaves, or free

person of color, found keeping a shop and selling, bartering,

or trading in any way, shall be taken up and punished by

whipping, with not more than 30 lashes for each and every

offense, and shall stand committed until the officer's fees

are paid."

Most of the slaves interviewed were too young during the slavery period

to have experienced any of the more cruel punishments, though some

remembered hearing tales of brutal beatings. Most of the punishments

inflicted were mild chastisements or restrictions.

Susie Brown, who was a slave on the Evans' plantation on Little River in

Columbia, said, "My Marster wus good to me, good as he could be--only

thing he whup me fer wus usin' snuff. And when he go to whup me, Mistis

beg him to stop, and he only gib me a lick or two. And if Mistis try to

whup me, he make her stop. No, dey didn't had to do much whuppin'. Dey

wus good to de hand." When asked about her overseer she replied, "Dere

wus a overseer, but I disremember his name."

Most of these old ex-slaves' recollections had to do with the

"Patterolas", as the Patrol was called. One of them said about the

Patrol, "Oh yes, ma'm, I seed da Patterolas, but I never heard no song

about 'em. Dey wus all white mens. Jus' like now you want to go off your

Marster's place to another man's place, you had to get a pass from your

boss man. If you didn't have dat pass, de Patterolas would whip you."

A woman who lived on the Roof plantation said, "I worked under four

overseers, one of 'em was mean, and he had a big deep voice. When the

niggers was at the feed lot, the place where they carried the dinner

they brought to the fields, he would hardly give 'em time to eat before

he hollered out, 'Git up and go back to work!'"

She also said that Mars. Thomas, the red-haired young master, was mean

about slaves over-staying pass time. "If they want off and stayed too

long, when they came back, he'd strip them stark, mother nekked, tie 'em

to a tree, and whip 'em good. But old Marster, he didn't believe in

whipping. It was different when the boys took possession after he died."

Very few slaves ran away, but when they did the master hunted them with


When Carrie Lewis, who belonged to Captain Ward, was asked if the slaves

were ever whipped on their plantation, she replied, "No ma'm, de Marster

say to de overseer, 'If you whup dem, I whup you.' No ma'm, he wouldn't

keep a overseer dat wus mean to us--Cap'n Ward wus good to us. He

wouldn't let de little ones call him 'Marster', dey had to call him and

de Missus, 'Grampa' and 'Gramma'. My folks didn't mistreat de slaves.

I'd be better off now if it wus dem times now."

We asked Ellen Campbell, a Richmond County slave if her master was good

to her and she replied, "I'll say fer Mr. William Eve--he de bes' white

man anywhere round here on any dese plantachuns. Dey all own slaves.

Sometimes de overseer whup 'em--make 'em strip off dey shirt and whup

'em on de bare skin. My boss had a white overseer and two colored men

dey call drivers. If dey didn't done right dey dus whup 'em and turn 'em


It was said that those who refused to take whippings were generally

negroes of African royal blood, or their descendants.

Edward Glenn of the Clinton Brown plantation in Forsythe County, Ga.,

said, "My father would not take a whipping. He would die before he would

take a whipping. The Marster thought so much of him, he made young

Marster Clinton promise he would never sell him or put a stripe on him.

Once, when he wanted to punish him, he give him a horse and bridle and

fifty dollars. 'Go on off somewhere and get somebody to buy you.' My

father stayed away a month. One day he come home, he had been off about

100 miles. He brought with him a man who wanted to buy him. Marster put

the man up for the night, fed his horse, and father went on out to

mother. Next day when the man made him a price on father, Marster said,

'I was just foolin'. I wouldn't sell him for nothing. I was trying to

punish him. He is true and honest, but he won't take a whipping.'

"Sometimes a slave was treated so bad by his owners he was glad if they

put him up to be sold. If he was a bad man, they handcuffed him, put him

on a stand, like for preachings and auctioned him off to the highest


"When runaway slave was brought back they was punished. Once in Alabama

I saw a woman stripped naked, laid over a stump in a field with her head

hangin' down on one side, her feet on the other, and tied to the stump.

Then they whipped her hard, and you could hear her hollering far off,

'Oh, Lawd a'musay! Lawd a-musay!'."

Another punishment Edward said, was called the "Gameron Stick",

(sometimes called the Gamlin stick, or Spanish Buck). The slave's arms

were bound around the bent knees and fastened to a stick run beneath

them. This was called the "Spanish Buck" punishment. They stripped the

slave, who was unable to stand up, and rolled him on one side and

whipped him till the blood came. They called the whip the "cowhide".

Slaves were whipped for small things, such as forgetting orders or

spilling food.


The most important person in the disciplining of negro slaves was the

overseer. However, he occupied an unfortunate position socially. He was

not regarded as the equal of the owner's family, and was not allowed to

mix socially with the slaves. His was a hard lot, and consequently this

position was generally filled by men of inferior grade. However, he was

supposed to have an education so that he could handle the finances of

the plantation accurately, and to be possessed of a good moral character

in order to enforce the regulations. On most Georgia plantations

overseers were given a house near the slave quarters. In some instances

he lived in the house with the plantation owner. The average pay for

overseers was from three to five hundred dollars a year.

Next in authority to the overseer was the driver, who directed the work

in the fields. Every morning the driver blew the horn or rang the

plantation bell to summon slaves to their work. Next to him was some

trusted slave, who carried the keys to the smokehouse and commissary,

and helped to give out rations once a week.

Many of the overseers were naturally cruel and inclined to treat the

slaves harshly. Often strict rules and regulations had to be made to

hold them in check. Overseers were generally made to sign these

regulations on receiving their appointments.

In 1840 the Southern Cultivator and Monthly Journal published the

following rules of the plantation:


Rule 1st. The overseer will not be expected to work in the

crop, but he must constantly with the hands, when not

otherwise engaged in the employer's business, and will be

required to attend on occasions to any pecuniary transactions

connected with the plantation.

Rule 2nd. The overseer is not expected to be absent from the

plantation unless actual necessity compels him, Sundays

excepted, and then it is expected that he will, on all

occasions, be at home by night.

Rule 3rd. He will attend, morning, noon and night, at the

stable, and see that the mules and horses are ordered, curried,

and fed.

Rule 4th. He will see that every negro is out by daylight in

the morning--a signal being given by a blast of the horn, the

first horn will be blown half an hour before day. He will also

visit the negro cabins at least once or twice a week, at night,

to see that all are in. No negro must be out of his house after

ten oclock in summer and eleven in winter.

Rule 5th. The overseer is not to give passes to the negroes

without the employer's consent. The families the negroes are

allowed to visit will be specified by the employer; also those

allowed to visit the premises. Nor is any negro allowed to

visit the place without showing himself to the employer or


Rule 6th. The overseer is required not to chat with the

negroes, except on business, nor to encourage tale bearing, nor

is any tale to be told to him or employer, by any negro, unless

he has a witness to his statements, nor are they allowed, in

any instance, to quarrel and fight. But the employer will

question any negro, if confidence can be placed in him, without

giving him cause of suspicion, about all matters connected with

the plantation, if he has any reason to believe that all things

are not going on right.

Rule 7th. As the employer pays the overseer for his time and

attention, it is not to be expected he will receive much


Rule 8th. As the employer employs an overseer, not to please

himself, but the employer, it will be expected that he will

attend strictly to all his instructions. His opinion will be

frequently asked relative to plantation matters, and

respectfully listened to, but it is required they be given in

a polite and respectful manner, and not urged, or insisted

upon; and if not adopted, he must carry into effect the views

of the employer, and with a sincere desire to produce a

successful result. He is expected to carry on all experiments

faithfully and carefully note the results, and he must, when

required by the employer, give a fair trial to all new methods

of culture, and new implements of agriculture.

Rule 9th. As the whole stock will be under immediate charge

of the overseer, it is expected he will give his personal

attention to it, and will accompany the hog feeder once a week

and feed them, and count and keep a correct number of the same.

The hog feeder is required to attend to feeding them every


Rule 10th. The negroes must be made to obey, and to work,

which may be done by an overseer who attends regularly to his

business, with very little whipping; for much whipping indicates

a bad tempered or an inattentive manager. He must never, on

any occasion, unless in self-defense, kick a negro, or strike

him with his fist, or butt end of his whip. No unusual

punishment must be resorted to without the employer's consent.

He is not expected to punish the foreman, except on some

extraordinary emergency that will not allow of delay, until

the employer is consulted. Of this rule the foreman is to be

kept in entire ignorance.

Rule 11th. The sick must be attended to. When sick they are to

make known the fact to him; if in the field, he is requested

to send them to the employer, if at home; and if not, the

overseer is expected to attend to them in person, or send for

a physician if necessary. Suckling and pregnant women must be

indulged more than others. Sucklers are to be allowed time to

visit their children, morning, noon and evening, until they are

eight months old, and twice a day from thence until they are

twelve months old--they are to be kept working near their

children. No lifting, pulling fodder, or hard work is expected

of pregnant women.

Rule 12th. The negroes are to appear in the field on Monday

mornings cleanly clad. To carry out said rule they are to be

allowed time (say one hour by sun) every Saturday evening for

the purpose of washing their clothes.

Rule 13th. The overseer is particularly required to keep the

negroes as much as possible out of the rain, and from all kind

of exposure.

Rule 14th. It will be expected of a good manager, that he will

constantly arrange the daily work of the negroes, so that no

negro may wait to know what to go to doing. Small jobs that

will not reasonably admit of delay must be forthwith attended


Rule 15th. It is required of him, to keep the tools, ploughs,

hoes &c. out of the weather and have all collected after they

are done using them. The wagon and cart must be kept under a

shed. He is expected to keep good gates, bars and fences.

Rule 16th. The employer will give him a list of all the tools

and farming utensils and place the same in his care, and he is

to return them at the years' end to the employer; if any are

broke, the pieces are expected to be returned.

Rule 17th. He is not to keep a horse or dog against the

employer's approbation--and dogs kept for the purpose of

catching negroes will not be allowed under any consideration.

Rule 18th. He is required to come to his meals at the blowing

of the horn. It is not expected he will leave the field at

night before the hands quit their work.

Rule 19th. It will be expected he will not speak of the

employer's pecuniary business, his domestic affairs, or his

arrangements to any one. He will be expected to inform the

employer of anything going on that may concern his interest.

Rule 20th. He is to have no control whatever over the

employer's domestic affairs; nor to take any privileges in

the way of using himself, or loaning the employers property to


Rule 21st. He is expected to be guilty of no disrespectful

language in the employer's presence--such as vulgarity,

swearing &c; nor is he expected to be guilty of any

indecencies, such as spitting on the floor, wearing his hat in

the house, sitting at the table with his coat off, or whistling

or singing in the house (Such habits are frequently indulged

in, in Bachelor establishments in the South). His room will be

appropriated to him, and he will not be expected to obtrude

upon the employer's private chamber, except on business.

Rule 22nd. It will be expected of him that he will not get

drunk, and if he returns home in that state he will be

immediately discharged. He will also be immediately discharged,

if it is ascertained he is too intimate with any of the negro


Rule 23rd. It is distinctly understood, in the agreement with

every overseer, should they separate, from death or other

cause--and either is at liberty to separate from the other

whenever dissatisfied--without giving his reasons for so doing;

in said event the employer, upon settlement, is not expected to

pay the cash nor settle for the year, but for the time only he

remained in the employer's service, by note, due January next

(with interest) pro rata, he was to pay for the year.


In spite of the many restrictions that hedged the slaves about there

were many good times on the plantation. Old Mary of the Roof plantation

described their frolics thus:

"We would sing and there was always a fiddle. I never could put up to

dance much but nobody could beat me runnin' 'Peep Squirrel'. That was a

game we made up on the plantation. The girls peeped out, then ran by the

men, and they'd be caught and twirled around. They said I was like a

kildee bird, I was so little and could run so fast. When we growed up we

walked the boys to death! They used to say we walked the heels off their

boots. We would have dances every Christmas, on different plantations. I

tell my grandchildren sometimes that my brother-in-law would carry us to

dances and wouldn' allow us to sleep, we'd dance all night long. We had

a good time, us girls!"

When the negroes got married long tables were set under the trees in the

back yard and the people from the big house came down to see how the

slaves were dressed and to wish them well.

Concerning her own marriage Mary said, "They say I was married when I

was 17 years old. I know it was after freedom. I married a boy who

belonged to the Childs plantation. I had the finest kind of marrying

dress, my father bought it for me. It had great big grapes hanging down

from the sleeves and around the skirt." She sighed and a shadow passed

over her placid old face, as she added, "I wish't I had a kep' it for my

children to saw."

A slave from the Starling Freeman plantation in South Carolina said,

"When cullud people wus married, white people give a supper. A cullud

man whut lives on de place marries 'em."

"I used to sing good myself," continued Susannah, "you could hear the

echo of my voice way out yonder, but I can't sing no more." Here

Susannah stuck out her legs, covered with long-ribbed pink stockings.

"My legs got de misery in 'em now, and my voice gone. In my mother's

house dey never trained us to sing things like the mos' o' people. We

sung the good old hymns, like, 'A Charge to Keep I have, a God to


Old Tim, who used to live on a plantation in Virginia, said in speaking

of good times before the war, "Sho', we had plenty o' banjo pickers!

They was 'lowed to play banjos and guitars at night, if de Patterolas

didn' interfere. At home de owners wouldn' 'low de Patterolas to tech

their folks. We used to run mighty fast to git home after de frolics!

Patterolas wus a club of men who'd go around and catch slaves on strange

plantations and break up frolics, and whip 'em sometimes."

We asked Aunt Ellen Campbell, who was a slave on the Eve plantation in

Richmond County, about good times in slavery days. She laughed

delightedly and said, "When anybody gwine be married dey tell de boss

and he have a cake fix. Den when Sunday come, after dey be married she

put on de white dress she be married in and dey go up to town so de boss

can see de young couple."

She was thoughtful a moment, then continued, "Den sometimes on Sadday

night we have a big frolic. De nigger fum Hammond's place and Phinizy

place, Eve place, Clayton place, D'Laigle place, all git together fer a

big dance and frolic. A lot o' de young sports used to come dere and

push de young nigger bucks aside and dance wid de wenches."

"We used to have big parties sometime," said Fannie Fulcher, a former

slave on Dr. Miller's plantation in Burke County. "No white folks--jus'

de overseer come round to see how dey git erlong. I 'member dey have a

fiddle. I had a cousin who played fer frolics, and fer de white folks,


According to Melinda Mitchell, who lived on the plantation of Rev. Allen

Dozier in Edgefield County, South Carolina, the field hands and house

servants forgot cares in merriment and dancing after the day's work was

over. When asked about her master, a Baptist preacher, condoning dancing

Melinda replied with the simple statement, "He wasn't only a preacher,

he was a religious man. De slaves danced at de house of a man who

'tended de stack, way off in de fiel' away fum de big house." They

danced to the tunes of banjos and a homemade instrument termed, "Quill",

evidently some kind of reed. It was fairly certain that the noise of

merriment must have been heard at the big house, but the slaves were not

interrupted in their frolic.

"My mammy wus de bes' dancer on de plantachun," Melinda said proudly.

"She could dance so sturdy she could balance a glass o' water on her

head an never spill a drop." She recalls watching the dancers late into

the night until she fell asleep.

She could tell of dances and good times in the big house as well as in

the quarters. The young ladies were belles. They were constantly

entertaining. One day a wandering fortune-teller came on the piazza

where a crowd of young people were gathered, and asked to tell the young

ladies' fortunes. Everything was satisfactory until he told Miss Nettie

she would marry a one-armed man. At this the young belle was so

indignant that the man was driven off and the dogs set on him. "But de

fortune teller told true-true," Melinda said. A faint ominous note crept

into her voice and her eyes seemed to be seeing events that had

transpired almost three-quarters of a century ago. "After de war Miss

Nettie did marry a one-arm man, like de fortune-teller said, a

Confederate officer, Captain Shelton, who had come back wid his sleeve



There were two legal places for selling slaves in Augusta; the Lower

Market, at the corner of Fifth and Broad Street, and the Upper Market at

the corner of Broad and Marbury Streets. The old slave quarters are

still standing in Hamburg, S.C., directly across the Savannah River from

the Lower Market in Augusta. Slaves who were to be put up for sale were

kept there until the legal days of sales.

Advertisements in the newspapers of that day seem to point to the fact

that most slave sales were the results of the death of the master, and

the consequent settlement of estates, or a result of the foreclosure of


In the Thirty-Seventh Section of the Ordinances of the City of Augusta,

August 10, 1820-July 8, 1829, is the following concerning Vendue


"If any person acts as a Vendue Master within the limits of

this City without a license from the City Council, he shall be

fined in a sum not exceeding $1,000.00. There shall not be more

than four Vendue Masters for this city. They shall be appointed

by ballot, and their license shall expire on the day proceeding

the 1st Saturday in October of every year. No license shall

be issued to a Vendue Master until he has given bond, with

securities according to the laws of this State, and also a bond

with approved security to the Council for the faithful discharge

of his duties in the sum of $5,000.00."

The newspapers of the time regularly carried advertisements concerning

the sale of slaves. The following is a fair sample:

"Would sell slaves: With this farm will be sold about Thirty

Likely Negroes mostly country born, among them a very good

bricklayer, and driver, and two sawyers, 17 of them are fit for

field or boat work, and the rest fine, thriving children."

The following advertisement appeared in The Georgia Constitutionalist

on January 17, 1769: "To be sold in Savannah on Thursday the 15th. inst.

a cargo of 140 Prime Slaves, chiefly men. Just arrived in the Scow

Gambia Captain Nicholas Doyle after a passage of six weeks directly from

the River Gambia." by Inglis and Hall.

Most of the advertisements gave descriptions of each slave, with his age

and the type of work he could do. They were generally advertised along

with other property belonging to the slave owner.

The following appeared in the Chronicle and Sentinel of Augusta on

December 23rd, 1864: "Negro Sales. At an auction in Columbus the annexed

prices were obtained: a boy 16 years old, $3,625.

"At a late sale in Wilmington the annexed prices were obtained: a girl

14 years old $5,400; a girl 22 years old, $4,850; a girl 13 years

$3,500; a negro boy, 22 years old $4,900."

Very few of the slaves interviewed had passed through the bitter

experience of being sold. Janie Satterwhite, who was born on a Carolina

plantation, and was about thirteen years old when she was freed,

remembered very distinctly when she was sold away from her parents.

"Yes'm, my Mama died in slavery, and I was sold when I was a little

tot," she said. "I 'member when dey put me on de block."

"Were you separated from your family?" we asked.

"Yes'm. We wus scattered eberywhere. Some went to Florida and some to

odder places. De Missus she die and we wus all sold at one time. Atter

dat nobody could do nothin' on de ole plantachun fer a year--till all

wus settled up. My brudder he wasn't happy den. He run away fer five


"Where was he all that time?"

"Lawd knows, honey. Hidin', I reckon, hidin in de swamp."

"Did you like your new master?"

"Honey, I wus too little to have any sense. When dat man bought me--dat

Dr. Henry, he put me in a buggy to take me off. I kin see it all right

now, and I say to Mama and Papa, 'Good-bye, I'll be back in de mawnin'.'

And dey all feel sorry fer me and say, 'She don' know whut happenin'."

"Did you ever see your family again?"

"Yes'm. Dey wusn't so far away. When Christmas come de Marster say I can

stay wid Mama de whole week."

Easter Jones, who had many bitter memories of slavery days back on the

Bennet plantation near Waynesboro, said, when asked if she was ever sold

into slavery, "Dey had me up fer sale once, but de horse run away and

broke de neck o' de man whut gwine buy me."

Harriet White, whose father was a slave, gives this account of his sale,

"Yas'm, he tell me many times 'bout when he wus put up for sale on

Warren Block (in Augusta). Father say dey put him on de block down here.

De gemmen whut bought him name Mr. Tom Crew. But when dey tryin' to sell

him--dat right durin' de war, one man say, 'No, I don' want him--he know

too much.' He'd done been down to Savannah wid de Yankees. Den my father

say, 'If you buy me you can't take me oudder de state of Georgia, 'cause

de Yankees all around."

Carrie Lewis, who was owned by Captain Phillip Ward and lived on a

plantation down in Richmond County said, "No'm, I wasn't never sold, but

my Mama was sold fum me. See, I belonged to de young girl and old

Marster fool Missus away fum de house so he git to sell my Mama."

"Did you ever see your mother afterwards?" we asked.

"No, ma'm. I wouldn' know my Mammy no more den you would."

"But were you happy on the plantation?"

A smile brightened her wrinkled old face as she replied, "I'd be a heap

better off if it was dem times now."

When we asked Ellen Campbell if she was ever sold during slavery times

she replied, "No'm. I wa'n't sold, but I know dem whut wus. Jedge

Robinson he kept a nigger trade office over in Hamburg."

"Oh yes, we remember--the old brick building."

"Yas'm, dat it. Well, all de colored people whut gonner be sold was kept

dere. Den dey brung 'em over to de market and put 'em up fer sale.

Anybody fixin' to buy 'em, 'zamines 'em to see if day all right. Looks

at de teef to tell 'bout de age."

Laura Steward, who was a slave in a Baptist preacher's family in Augusta

told some interesting things about slave sales here: "Slaves were sold

at the Augusta market, in spite of what white ladies say." She stated

that there was a long house with porches on Ellis between 7th and 8th,

where a garage now stands. In this building slaves were herded for

market. "Dey would line 'em up like horses or cows," said Laura, "and

look in de mouf at dey teef; den dey march 'em down togedder to market

in crowds, first Tuesday sale day."

Old Mary used to live on the Roof plantation with her mother, while her

father lived on a nearby plantation. She said her father tried for a

long time to have his owner buy his wife and children, until finally,

"One day Mr. Tom Perry sont his son-in-law to buy us in. You had to get

up on what they called the block, but we just stood on some steps. The

bidder stood on the ground and called out the prices. There was always a

speculator at the sales. We wus bought all right and moved over to the

Perry place. I had another young marster there. He had his own hands and

didn't sell them at all. Wouldn't none of us been sold from the Roof

place, except for my father beggin' Mr. Perry to buy us, so we wouldn't

be separated."

Susannah Wyman of the Freeman plantation in South Carolina said, "Once

de Marster tried to sell my brudder and anodder youngster fer a pair o'

mules, and our Mistis said, 'No! You don' sell my chillun for no mules!'

And he didn't sell us neider. They never sold anybody off our

plantation. But people did sell women, old like I am now--or if they

didn't have no chillun. The fus' spec-lator come along and wants to buy

'em, he kin have 'em. De Marster say, 'Bring me han's in. I want


Eugene Smith, who used to belong to Mr. Steadman Clark of Augusta said,

"I read in the papers where a lady said slaves were never sold here in

Augusta at the old market, but I saw 'em selling slaves myself. They put

'em up on something like a table, bid 'em off just like you would do

horses or cows. Dere wus two men. I kin recollect. I know one was call

Mr. Tom Heckle. He used to buy slaves, speculatin'. The other was name

Wilson. They would sell a mother from her children. That's why so many

colored people married their sisters and brothers, not knowin' till they

got to talking 'bout it. One would say: 'I remember my grandmother,' and

another would say, 'that's my grandmother!' Then they'd find out they

were sister and brother."


Most of the ex-slaves interviewed were too young to have taken any part

in war activities, though many of them remembered that the best slaves

were picked and sent from each plantation to help build breastworks for

the defense of Waynesboro. On some places the Yankees were encamped and

on others the southern soldiers were entertained.

"De Yankees come through de plantation on Sunday," said Hannah Murphy, a

former slave on a Georgia plantation. "I'll never forgit dat! Dey wus

singin' Dixie, 'I wisht I wus in Dixie, look away!' Dey wus all dress in

blue. Dey sot de gin house afire, and den dey went in de lot and got all

de mules and de horses and ca'y 'em wid 'em. Dey didn't bother de smoke

house where de food wuz, and dey didn't tek no hogs. But dey did go to

de long dairy and thowed out all de milk and cream and butter and stuff.

Dey didn' bother us none. Some o' de cullard folks went wid de Yankees.

De white folks had yeared dey wuz comin' and dey had lef'--after de

Yankees all gone away, de white folks come back. De cullud folks stayed

dere a while, but de owners of de place declaimed dey wuz free, and sont

de people off. I know dat my mother and father and a lot o' people come

heah to Augusta."

Old Tim, from a plantation in Virginia, remembers when Lee was fighting

near Danville, and how frightened the negroes were at the sound of the

cannon. "They cay'd the wounded by the 'bacco factory," he said, "on de

way to de horspittle."

The northern troops came to the William Morris plantation in Burke

County. Eliza Morris, a slave, who was her master's, "right hand bough"

was entrusted with burying the family silver. "There was a battle over

by Waynesboro," Eliza's daughter explained to us. "I hear my mother

speak many times about how the Yankees come to our place." It seems that

some of the other slaves were jealous of Eliza because of her being so

favored by her master. "Some of the niggers told the soldiers that my

mother had hidden the silver, but she wouldn' tell the hidin' place. The

others were always jealous of my mother, and now they tried to made the

Yankees shoot her because she wouldn' tell where the silver was hidden.

My mother was a good cook and she fixed food for the Yankees camped on

the place, and this softened the soldiers' hearts. They burned both the

plantation houses, but they give my mother a horse and plenty of food to

last for some time after they left."

"What did your mother do after the war?" we asked.

"She spent the rest of her life cookin' for her young Mistis, Mrs. Dr.

Madden in Jacksonville. She was Cap'n Bill's daughter. That was her home

till shortly after the World War when she died."

"Did your Master live through the war?"

"Yas'm. He come home. Some of the old slaves had stayed on at the

plantation; others followed the Yankees off. Long time afterward some of

'em drifted back--half starved and in bad shape."

"'Let'em come home'", Marster said. "And them that he couldn' hire he

give patches of land to farm."

"'Member de war? Course I do!" said Easter Jones, "My Marster went to

Savannah, and dey put him in prison somewhere. He died atter he come

back, it done him so bad. I 'member my brudder was born dat Sunday when

Lee surrender. Dey name him Richmond. But I was sick de day dey came and

'nounced freedom."

Augustus Burden, a former slave on General Walker's plantation at

Windsor Springs, Ga., served as valet for his master, said, "Master was

killed at Chickamauga. When the war ceased they brought us home--our old

master's home. My old Mistis was living and we came back to the old


When the Yankees came through Georgia the Walkers and Schleys asked for

protection from gunfire. Because of school associations with Northern

officers nothing on the plantation was disturbed.

"Mrs. Jefferson Davis came there to visit the Schleys," said Augustus,

and his face lit up with enthusiasm, "She was a mighty pretty woman--a

big lady, very beautiful. She seemed to be real merry amongst the white

folks, and Miss Winnie was a pretty little baby. She was talking then."

Louis Jones was seven years old when he was freed. He said, "I kin

'member de Yankees comin'. I wasn't skeered. I wanted to see 'em. I hung

on de fence corners, and nearabouts some sich place. After freedom my Ma

didn't go 'way. She stayed on de plantation till she could make more

money cookin' some udder place. I don't think dey did anything to de

plantation whar I wus. I yeared dey cay'd out de silver and mebbe hid it

in places whar de Yankees couldn't find it."

When Ellen Campbell of the Eve plantation in Richmond County, was asked

if she remembered anything about the Yankees coming through this part of

the country, she replied:

"Yas'm, I seen 'em comin' down de street. Every one had er canteen on de

side, a blanket on de shoulder, caps cocked on one side de haid. De

Cavalry had boots on, and spurros on de boots. First dey sot de niggers

free on Dead River, den dey come on here and sot us free. Dey march

straight up Broad Street to de Planters Hotel, den dey camped on de

river. Dey stayed here six months till dey sot dis place free. When dey

campin' on de river bank we go down dere and wash dey clo'se fer a good

price. Day had hard tack to eat. Dey gib us hard tack and tell us to

soak it in water, and fry it in meat gravy. I ain't taste nothin' so

good since. Dey say, 'Dis hard tack whut we hadder lib on while we

fightin' to sot you free.'"


Although the Emancipation Proclamation was delivered on January 1st,

1863 it was not until Lee's final surrender that most of the negroes

knew they were free. The Freedman's Bureau in Augusta gave out the news

officially to the negroes, but in most cases the plantation owners

themselves summoned their slaves and told them they were free. Many

negroes stayed right with their masters.

Carrie Lewis, a slave on Captain Ward's plantation in Richmond County,

said, when asked where she went when freedom came, "Me? I didn't went

nowhere. Da niggers come 'long wid de babies and dey backs, and say I

wus free, and I tell 'em I was free already. Didn't make no diffunce to


Old Susannah from the Freeman plantation said, "When freedom come I got

mad at Marster. He cut off my hair. I was free so I come from Ca'lina to

Augusta to sue him. I walk myself to death! Den I found I couldn't sue

him over here in Georgia! I had to go back. He was jus' nachally mad

'cause we was free. Soon as I got here, dere was a lady on de street,

she tole me to come in, tek a seat. I stayed dere. Nex' mornin' I

couldn't stand up. My limbs was hurtin' all over."

Tim from the plantation in Virginia remembers distinctly when freedom

came to his people. "When we wus about to have freedom," he said, "they

thought the Yankees was a-goin' to take all the slaves so they put us on

trains and run us down south. I went to a place whut they call 'Butler'

in Georgia, then they sent me on down to the Chattahoochee, where they

were cuttin' a piece of railroad, then to Quincy, then to Tallahassee.

When the war ended I weren't 'xactly in 'Gusta, I was in Irwinville,

where they caught Mars. Jeff Davis. Folks said he had de money train,

but I never seed no gold, nor nobody whut had any. I come on up to

'Gusta and jined de Bush Arbor Springfield Church.

"When freedom came they called all the white people to the court house

first, and told them the darkies ware free. Then on a certain day they

called all the colored people down to the parade ground. They had a big

stand," explained Eugene Wesley Smith, whose father was a slave in

Augusta. "All the Yankees and some of our leading colored men got up

there and spoke, and told the negroes: "You are free. Don't steal! Now

work and make a living. Do honest work, make an honest living and

support yourself and children. There are no more masters. You are free!"

"When the colored troops came in, they came in playing:

'Don't you see the lightning?

Don't you hear the thunder?

It isn't the lightning,

It isn't the thunder

But the buttons on the Negro uniform!'

"The negroes shouted and carried on when they heard they were free."

This story of freedom was told by Edward Glenn of Forsythe County: "A

local preacher, Walter Raleigh, used to wait by the road for me every

day, and read the paper before I give it to Mistis. One day he was

waiting for me, and instead of handing it back to me he tho'wed it down

and hollered, 'I'm free as a frog!' He ran away. I tuk the paper to

Mistis. She read it and went to cryin'. I didn't say no more. That was

during the week. On Sunday morning I was talking to my brother's wife,

who was the cook. We were talking about the Yankees. Mistis come in and

say, 'Come out in the garden with me.' When we got outside Mistis said:

'Ed, you suppose them Yankees would spill their blood to come down here

to free you niggers?'

"I said, 'I dunno, but I'se free anyhow, Miss Mary.'"

"'Shut up, sir, I'll mash your mouth!"

"That day Marster was eating, and he said, 'Doc' (they called me Doc,

'cause I was the seventh son). 'You have been a good boy. What did you

tell your Mistis?'"

"I said, 'I told her the truth, that I knowed I was free.'

"He said, 'Well, Doc, you aren't really free. You are free from me, but

you aren't of age yet, and you still belong to your father and mother.'

"One morning I saw a blue cloud of Yankees coming down the road. The

leader was waving his arms and singing:

'Ha, ha, ha! Trabble all the day!

I'm in the Rebel's Happy Land of Caanan.

Needn't mind the weather,

Jump over double trouble,

I'm in the Rebel's Happy Land of Caanan.'

"The Yankee captain, Captain Brown, gathered all us negroes in the fair

ground, July or August after freedom, and he made a speech. Lawsy! I can

see that crowd yet, a-yelling and a-stomping! And the captain waving his

arms and shouting!

"'We have achieved the victory over the South. Today you are all free

men and free women!'

"We had everybody shouting and jumping, and my father and mother shouted

along with the others. Everybody was happy."

Janie Satterwhite's memories were very vivid about freedom. "Oh yas'm,"

she said, "my brudder comed fer me. He say, 'Jane, you free now. You

wanna go home and see Papa?

Ruby Girten Ryer Emmanuel facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail