Susan Bledsoe

Ohio Guide

Ex-Slave Stories

Aug 15, 1937


462-12th St. S.E., Canton, Ohio.

"I was born on a plantation in Gilee County, near the town of Elkton, in

Tennessee, on August 15, 1845. My father's name was Shedrick Daley and

he was owned by Tom Daley and my mother's name was Rhedia Jenkins and

her master's name was Silas Jenkins. I was owned by my mother's master

but some of my brothers and sisters--I had six brothers and six

sisters--were owned by Tom Daley.

I always worked in the fields with the men except when I was called to

the house to do work there. 'Masse' Jenkins was good and kind to all us

slaves and we had good times in the evening after work. We got in groups

in front of the cabins and sang and danced to the music of banjoes until

the overseer would come along and make us go to bed. No, I don't

remember what the songs were, nothing in particular, I guess, just some

we made up and we would sing a line or two over and over again.

We were not allowed to work on Sunday but we could go to church if we

wanted to. There wasn't any colored church but we could go to the white

folks church if we went with our overseer. His name was Charlie Bull and

he was good to all of us.

Yes, they had to whip a slave sometimes, but only the bad ones, and they

deserved it. No, there wasn't any jail on the plantation.

We all had to get up at sunup and work till sundown and we always had

good food and plenty of it; you see they had to feed us well so we would

be strong. I got better food when I was a slave than I have ever had


Our beds were home made, they made them out of poplar wood and gave us

straw ticks to sleep on. I got two calico dresses a year and these were

my Sunday dresses and I was only allowed to wear them on week days after

they were almost worn out. Our shoes were made right on the plantation.

When any slaves got sick, Mr. Bull, the overseer, got a regular doctor

and when a slave died we kept right on working until it was time for the

funeral, then we were called in but had to go right back to work as soon

as it was over. Coffins were made by the slaves out of poplar lumber.

We didn't play many games, the only ones I can remember are 'ball' and

'marbles'. No, they would not let us play 'cards'.

One day I was sent out to clean the hen house and to burn the straw. I

cleaned the hen house, pushed the straw up on a pile and set fire to it

and burned the hen house down and I sure thought I was going to get

whipped, but I didn't, for I had a good 'masse'.

We always got along fine with the children of the slave owners but none

of the colored people would have anything to do with the 'poor white

trash' who were too poor to own slaves and had to do their own work.

There was never any uprisings on our plantations and I never heard about

any around where I lived. We were all happy and contented and had good


Yes, I can remember when we were set free. Mr. Bull told us and we cut

long poles and fastened balls of cotton on the ends and set fire to

them. Then, we run around with them burning, a-singin' and a-dancin'.

No, we did not try to run away and never left the plantation until Mr.

Bull said we could go.

After the war, I worked for Mr. Bull for about a year on the old

plantation and was treated like one of the family. After that I worked

for my brother on a little farm near the old home place. He was buying

his farm from his master, Mr. Tom Daley.

I was married on my brother's place to Wade Bledsoe in 1870. He has been

dead now about 15 years. His master had given him a small farm but I do

not remember his master's name. Yes, I lived in Tennessee until after my

husband died. I came to Canton in 1929 to live with my granddaughter,

Mrs. Algie Clark.

I had three children; they are all dead but I have 6 grandchildren, 8

great-grandchildren and 9 great-great-grandchildren, all living. No, I

don't think the children today are as good as they used to be, they are

just not raised like we were and do too much as they please.

I can't read or write as none of we slaves ever went to school but I

used to listen to the white folks talk and copied after them as much as

I could."

NOTE: The above is almost exactly as Mrs. Bledsoe talked to our

interviewer. Although she is a woman of no schooling she talks well and

uses the common negro dialect very little. She is 92 years of age but

her mind is clear and she is very entertaining. She receives an Old Age

Pension. (Interviewed by Chas. McCullough.)

Susa Lagrone Susan Castle facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail