Savilla Burrell

Project #1655

W. W. Dixon

Winnsboro, S. C.


"Our preacher, Beaty, told me that you wanted to see me today. I walked

three miles dis mornin' before the sun gits hot to dis house. Dis house

is my grand daughter's house. Willie Caldwell, her husband, work down to

de cotton mill. Him make good money and take good care of her, bless the

Lord, I say."

"My Marster in slavery time was Captain Tom Still. He had big plantation

down dere on Jackson Crick. My Mistress name was Mary Ann, though she

wasn't his fust wife--jest a second wife, and a widow when she

captivated him. You know widows is like dat anyhow, 'cause day done had

'sperience wid mens and wraps dem 'round their little finger and git dem

under their thumb 'fore the mens knows what gwine on. Young gals have a

poor chance against a young widow like Miss Mary Ann was. Her had her

troubles with Marse Tom after her git him, I tell you, but maybe best

not to tell dat right now anyways."

"Marse Tom had four chillun by his fust wife, dey was John, Sam,

Henretta and I can't 'member de name of the other one; least right now.

Dey teached me to call chillun three years old, young Marse and say

Missie. Dey whip you if dey ever hear you say old Marse or old Missie.

Dat riled dem."

"My pappy name Sam. My mother name Mary. My pappy did not live on the

same place as mother. He was a slave of de Hamiltons, and he got a pass

sometimes to come and be with her; not often. Grandmammy name Ester and

she belonged to our Marse Tom Still, too."

"Us lived in a log cabin wid a stick chimney. One time de sticks got

afire and burnt a big hole in de back of de chimney in cold winter time

wid the wind blowing, and dat house was filled wid fire-sparks, ashes,

and smoke for weeks 'fore dey tore dat chimney down and built another

jest like the old one. De bed was nailed to de side of de walls. How

many rooms? Jest one room."

"Never seen any money. How many slaves? So many you couldn't count dem.

Dere was plenty to eat sich as it was, but in the summer time before us

git dere to eat de flies would be all over de food and some was swimmin'

in de gravy and milk pots. Marse laugh 'bout dat, and say, it made us


"Dey sell one of mother's chillun once, and when she take on and cry

'bout it, Marse say, 'stop dat sniffin' dere if you don't want to git a

whippin'.' She grieve and cry at night 'bout it. Clothes? Yes Sir, us

half naked all de time. Grown boys went 'round bare footed and in dey

shirt tail all de summer."

"Marse was a rich man. 'Fore Christmus dey would kill thirty hogs and

after Christmus, thirty more hogs. He had a big gin house and sheep,

goats, cows, mules, hosses, turkeys, geese, and a stallion; I members

his name, Stockin'-Foot. Us little niggers was skeered to death of dat

stallion. Mothers used to say to chillun to quiet dem, 'Better hush,

Stockin'-Foot will git you and tramp you down.' Any child would git

quiet at dat."

"Old Marse was de daddy of some mulatto chillun. De 'lations wid de

mothers of dese chillun is what give so much grief to Mistress. De

neighbors would talk 'bout it and he would sell all dem chillun away

from dey mothers to a trader. My Mistress would cry 'bout dat.

"Our doctor was old Marse son-in-law, Dr. Martin. I seen him cup a man

once. He was a good doctor. He give slaves castor oil, bleed dem some

times and make dem take pills."

"Us looked for the Yankees on dat place like us look now for de Savior

and de host of angels at de second comin'. Dey come one day in February.

Dey took everything carryable off de plantation and burnt de big house,

stables, barns, gin house and dey left the slave houses."

"After de war I marry Osborne Burrell and live on de Tom Jordan place.

I'se de mother of twelve chillun. Jest three livin' now. I lives wid the

Mills family three miles 'bove town. My son Willie got killed at de

DuPont Powder Plant at Hopewell, Virginia, during de World War. Dis

house you settin' in belongs to Charlie Caldwell. He marry my grand

daughter, Willie B. She is twenty-three years old."

"Young Marse Sam Still got killed in de Civil War. Old Marse live on. I

went to see him in his last days and I set by him and kept de flies off

while dere. I see the lines of sorrow had plowed on dat old face and I

'membered he'd been a captain on hoss back in dat war. It come into my

'membrance de song of Moses; 'de Lord had triumphed glorily and de hoss

and his rider have been throwed into de sea'."

"You been good to listen. Dis is the fust time I can git to speak my

mind like dis mornin'. All de' people seem runnin' here and yonder,

after dis and after dat. Dere is a nudder old slave, I'se gwine to bring

him down here Saturday and talk to you again."

Sarah Woods Burke Scott Hooper facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail