Silva Durant





Project, 1885-(1)

Prepared by Annie Ruth Davis

Place, Marion, S. C.

Date, June 9, 1937



AUNT SILVA DURANT

Ex-Slave





"I don' know 'xactly when I wuz born but I hear my white folks say dat I

wuz born de fust (first) year uv freedom. I I c'n tell yuh dis much dat

I wuz uh grown 'oman when de shake wuz. Aw de older peoples wuz at de

chu'ch en ha' left us home to take care uv aw dem little chillun. Fust

t'ing we is know de house 'gin to quiver lak. We ne'er know wha' been to

matter en den de house 'gin to rock en rock en rock. We wuz so scare we

run outer in de yard en eve't'ing outer dere wuz jes uh shaking jes lak

de house wuz. We ne'er know wha' to do. Den we heared de peoples comin'

from de chu'ch jes uh runnin' en uh hollerin'. Didn't nobody know wha'

make dat. I tellin yuh jes lak dat wuz, de jedgment ain' ne'er been no

closer come heah den when dat shake was."



"My mudder wuz name Clorrie en she b'long to Miss Millie Gasque up de

road dere. I born in Miss Millie yard en I stay dere till I wuz six year

old. My pa say I wuz six year old. He been ole man Vidger Hanes en

b'long to Mr. Wesley White o'er dere 'bout laughin 'fore freedom 'clare.

A'ter dat we move on de hill en my pa hire me dere to Colonel Durant to

wash dishes en help 'bout de kitchen. Den dey put me to do de washin' en

I been uh washin' en uh washin' mos' e'er since. Dats de way I done till

I ge' so I ne'er couldn't make it en den I hadder quit offen. Dat how

come I hab aw dese pretty flowers. Miss Durant gi'e me aw dem dahlia

wha' yuh see in dat yard right dere. Dat how I ge' wha' little bit uv

money I hab dese day en time. Dem white folks up dere in town comes down

heah en begs em from me."



"Dey tell me some uv de peoples ge' 'long good en den some uv dem ge'

'long bad back dere in slavery day. Don' care how good peoples is dere

sho' be uh odd'un de crowd some uv de time. Dey say some uv de colored

peoples'ud run 'way from dey Massa en hide in de woods. Den dey slip

back to de plantation in de night en ge' green corn outer de white folks

field en carry em back in de woods en cook em dere. I hear Tom Bostick

tell 'bout when he run 'way one time. Say he use'er run 'way en hide in

de woods aw de time. Den de o'erseer ketch him one time when he been

come back en wuz grabblin' 'bout de tatoe patch. Say he gwinna make Tom

Bostick stay outer de woods ur kill him 'fore sun up dat day. Tom say

dey take him down 'side de woods en strip he clothes offen him. (I hear

em say dere plenty people bury down 'side dem woods dat dere ain' nobody

know 'bout). Den he say dey tie him to uh tree en take uh fat light'ud

torch en le' de juice drap outer it right on he naked body. He say he

holler en he beg en he ax em hab mercy but dat ne'er didn't do no good.

He mock how de tar make uh racket when it drap on he skin. Yuh know it

gwinna make uh racke't. Dat t'ing gwinna make uh racket when it drap on

anyt'ing wha' fresh. Ain' yuh ne'er hear no hot grease sizzle lak?

Yas'um, hear Tom Bostick tell dat more times den I got fingers en toe."



"Den dey'ud hab sale en sell some uv de colored peoples offen to annuder

plantation hundred mile 'way some uv de time. 'Vide man en he wife. Dey

sho' done it. I hear pa tell 'bout dat. Make em stand up on uh stump en

bid em offen dere jes lak dey wuz hoss. Pa say dey sell he brother Elic

wife 'way wid de onlyest child dey hab. Ne'er didn't see dat wife en

child no more."



"Coase de le' de colored peoples visit 'round from one plantation to

annuder but dey hadder hab uh ticke' wid em. Effen dey meet em in de

road en dey ne'er hab dat ticke' somewhey 'bout on em, dey hadder take

wha' follow. Ne'er 'low em to hab no udder paper 'bout em no whey. Effen

dey see em wid uh paper, dey ax em 'bout it en effen it ne'er been uh

ticke', dey mighty apt to gi'e em uh good t'rashin'."



"Dey tell me some uv de colored peoples use'er take t'ing from dey

Massa, but I ain' ne'er see em do none uv dat on my white folks

plantation. Ne'er hadder take nuthin dere. Ge' 'nough meal en meat dere

to de big house eve'y Friday to las' em aw t'rough de week. Reckon de

ration wuz more wholesome den in dat day en time cause dey take time en

cook dey t'ing done. Hadder cook in de fireplace. Dat how dey done. I

'member wha' good t'ings my ole mammy use'er cook in dat spider. Jes set

it on de coals en keep uh turnin' it 'bout wid de handle. Dere ain'

ne'er nuthin eat no better den dat ash cake she use'er make fa we

chillun. Yuh ain' ne'er hear tell 'bout dat. Jes ster (stir) up uh nice

hoecake en wrap it up in oak leaves wha' right sorta wet. Den yuh rake

uh heap uv ash togedder en lay yuh hoecake on dat en kiver it up wid

some more ash. Yuh le' it cook right done en den yuh take it up en wash

it offen en it ready to eat. Us chillun lub dat den."



"Annuder t'ing dat eat right smart in dem days wuz dat t'ing call big

hominy. Dey jes ge' some whole grain corn en put it in de pot en boil it

long time. Den dey take it offen de fire en pour lye water aw o'er it.

Dey do dat to ge' de husk offen it. Soak ash outer de fire en ge' dat

lye water. Den dey hadder take it to de well outer in de yard en wash it

uh heap uv time to ge' dat lye outer it. A'ter dat dey season it wid

salt en pepper en cook it annuder time. No 'mam, dey ne'er eat it wid no

butter. Jes drap it in de grease wha' left in de pan a'ter dey fry de

meat en make it right brown lak. Dat de way dey cook dey big hominy."



"Folks don' hab time to do t'ings in de right way lak dey use'er cause

de world gwine too fas' dese day en time. Dese people comin' up 'bout

heah dese days ain' gwinna ne'er quit habin' so mucha belly ache long uz

dey ain' stop eatin' aw dem half done ration dey is eat. Coase de

peoples wiser now but dey weaker. De peoples wuz more humble in dem

days. When dey didn't hab no rain, dey ge' togedder en pray fa rain en

dey ge' it too. I tellin' yuh peoples gotta work effen dey gwinna ge' to

de right place when dey leab heah. Effen de peoples ne'er didn't go to

chu'ch in dem days, dey stay home. Ne'er see chillun in de road on

Sunday eve'y which uh way lak yunnah see em dese days. My pa say yuh

mus' train up uh child in de way he oughta go en den effen dey stray

'way, dey sho' come back a'ter while. I tellin' yuh de peoples ain' lak

dey use'er wuz. Dey sho' wickeder en worser in dis day en time den when

I raise up. Dey wuz more friendly den en do more favor fa peoples. It

jes lak dis, I ain' gwinna do nobody no harm. Effen I can' do em no

good, ain' gwinna do no harm en ain' gwinna 'buse em neither."



Source: Aunt Silva Durant, colored, Marion, S. C.

Personal interview, May 1937.





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