Solbert Butler

Project #-1655

Phoebe Faucette

Hampton County

Approx. 800 Words


Miles from the highway old Solbert Butler lives alone under the shadow

of the handsome winter home of an aged northerner upon the same soil

that he has seen pass from Southerner to Negro, to Southerner, to

Northerner. Though shrunken and bent with age he still enjoys talking.

"I lives in de Deer Country. A couple of months ago, I saw eight in a

drove at one time, like a drove of sheep, or sech like. You can't raise

nuthin' 'round here. Dey'll eat up your garden. And de wild turkey! And

de partridge! But you can't shoot 'em without de Cassels give you a

license to do it. Now he comin' next month and dere'll be more shootin'!

But he aint able to hunt none hisself. He kin ride 'bout in de woods in

de car. Dey are blessed people, though!

"Dis used to be de Bostick place. Old Massa Ben Bostick lived fourteen

miles from here. Dere was Ben Bostick, Iva Bostick, Joe Bostick, Mr.

Luther, Eddie Bostick, an' Jennie Jo Bostick. De place was divided up

between 'em. O-oh! I couldn't number de plantations old Mr. Bostick

owned. I think he owned fifteen plantations! He was de millinery

(millionaire)! Oh, de Bosticks, O-oh!! De house dey live in, dey call

um--what was it dey call um--de Paradise house. No one go to dat house

but only de rich.

"At Christmas dey'd go up dere. And oh, I couldn't number it! Oh, it was

paradise. He was good to 'em. An' he whip 'em good, too! Tie 'em to de

fence post and whip 'em. But I didn't' have anythin' of dat. I was a

little boy. Jes' 'bout six year old when de war broke out. But I got

plenty of whippin's all right.

"Massa take me as a little boy as a pet. Took me right in de carriage!

Had a little bed right by his own an' take care of me. Every morning dey

bring in dey tray, an' go back. My uncle was a carriage man. Dey kept

two fine horses jes' for de carriage. Massa'd come up to de Street every

Monday morning with big trays of rations. He'd feed his colored folk,

den go on back."

(Another old ex-slave from the same plantation had said that on Mondays

the week's rations were given out.)

"Dey planted cotton, corn, peas, potatoes, rice--an' dey'd lick you! All

de time, dey'd lick you. After dey'd lick 'em until de blood come out,

den dey'd rub de red pepper and salt on 'em. Oh, my God! Kin you say dem

as done sech as dat aint gone to deir reward? My uncle was so whip he

went into de woods, an' live dere for months. Had to learn de

independent life. Mr. Aldridge was de overseer. Old Mr. Aldridge gone

now. But dere can't be no rest for him. Oh my God no! He do 'em so mean

dat finally ole Massa hear 'bout it. And when he do hear 'bout it, he

discharged him. He had everything discharged--to de colored driver. Den

he got Mr. Chisolm. After Mr. Chisolm come in, everythin' jes' as sweet

an' smooth as could be! Dere's a nice set of people for you--de

Chisolms. Two of 'em livin' now. One at Garnett, an' one at Luray, I


"I refugeed wid Massa. Dey come together in Virginia. Dey surrendered in

Virginia. Set de house afire. And set all dey houses. Dey burned Massa's

cotton. Over 200 bales! But if'n de colored folks begged for some, dey

let 'em have some. I stayed right wid Massa. He carried me everywhere he

went. Carried me all de way to Mill Haven, Georgia.

"After de war de colored folks jes' took an' plant de crop an' make de

livin' wid de hoe. Didn't have no mule, no ox, or thin' like dat. When

ole Massa come back, he took de cotton, an' give de colored folks de

corn. De Yankees kill all de hog. Kill all de cow. Kill all de fowl.

Left you nothin' to eat. If de colored folk had any chicken, dey jes'

had to take dat an' try to raise 'em somethin' to eat.

"I'se a Methodist. I was converted under Elder Drayton--come from

Georgia at St. Luke Methodist Church on de Blake Plantation. De Blake

Plantation right dere. It jines dis one. De ole Methodist white folk's

church where I was baptized been take down. It was called de Union

Church. But de cemetery still dere. It right up dere not a mile down de

road. Dere was a good ole preacher name of Rev. Winborn Asa Lawton. An'

de camp meetin'! Oh, Lord, Lord! Dey had over a thousand dere. Come from

Orangeburg. Come from Aiken! An' come way from Cheraw! Come from

Charleston, Beaufort, and Savannah! De colored folks got a church now

up here on what used to be de Pipe Creek place of ole Ben Bostick where

de white folks used to have a Baptist church. De colored folks church

call it Kenyon Church. Dat's de church dey white folks moved to

Lawtonville, den to Estill. But when de colored folks built, dey built

de church to face de East. Built on de same foundation; but face it

east, facing a little road dat had sprung up and wind 'round dat way

right in close to de church. But de white folks church was face west,

facing de Augusta road. Dat big space twixt de road and de church was a


"Ghosts? I used to 'em. I see 'em all de time. Good company! I live over

dere by myself, an' dey comes in my house all de time. Sometime I walk

along at night an' I see 'em. An' when you see 'em you see a sight. Dey

play. Dey dance 'round an' 'round. Dey happy all right. But dey'll devil

you, too. When dey find out dat you scary, dey'll devil you. Dey don't

do nothin' to me. Only talk to me. I'll be in my house an' dey'll come

talk to me. Or I'll be walkin' down de road, an' meet 'em. Dey'll pass

de time of day wid me, Like:

'Hey, Solbert! How far you goin', Solbert?'

'I'se jes' goin' down de road a little piece,' I'll say.


"Or sometime dey'll say, 'Mornin', Solbert. How you feeling?'

'I'se jes' so so'.


"Dey all favors. Dey all looks alike. You remembers when dat car come

down de road jes' now? Well, I see a bunch of 'em right den! Dey get out

de road for dat car to pass. Oh, you can't see 'em. No matter how much I

shows 'em to you--you can't see 'em. But me! Dey swell wid me. I see 'em

all de time. De big house up dere. It full of 'em. De white folks see

'em, too. Dat is some of de white folks. I see de other day a white man

dat has to work up here start toward de house when de ghosts was comin'

out thick. When I tell him you ought to see him turn an' run. One of 'em

push me over in de ditch one time. I say,

'Now what you done dat for?'

'Well, dat aint nothin''

'Aint nothin'. But don't you do dat no more.'

"I talks to 'em jes' de same as if dey was somebody. Some folks outgrows

'em. But not me. You have to be born to see 'em. If'n you be born

wrapped in de caul, you kin see 'em. But if you aint, you can't see


Source: Solbert Butler, 82 years, R. F. D. Scotia, S. C.

Snovey Jackson Solomon Caldwell facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail