Susan Hamilton


Project #1885

Augustus Ladson

Charleston, S.C.

No. Words: 1195




I'm a hund'ed an' one years old now, son. De only one livin' in my crowd

from de days I wuz a slave. Mr. Fuller, my master, who was president of

the Firs' National Bank, owned the fambly of us except my father. There

were eight men an' women with five girls an' six boys workin' for him.

Most o' them wus hired out. De house in which we stayed is still dere

with de cisterns an' slave quarters. I always go to see de old home

which is on St. Phillip Street.

My ma had t'ree boys an' t'ree girls who did well at their work. Hope

Mikell, my eldest bredder, an' James wus de shoemaker. William Fuller,

son of our master, wus de bricklayer. Margurite an' Catharine wuz de

maids an' look at de children.

My pa b'long to a man on Edisto Island. Frum what he said, his master

was very mean. Pa real name wus Adam Collins but he took his master'

name; he wus de coachman. Pa did supin one day an his master whipped

him. De next day which wuz Monday, Pa carry him 'bout four miles frum

home in de woods an' give him de same 'mount of lickin' he wus given on

Sunday. He tied him to a tree an' unhitched de horse so it couldn't git

tie-up an' kill a self. Pa den gone to de landin' an' catch a boat dat

wus comin' to Charleston wood fa'm products. He wus permitted by his

master to go to town on errands, which helped him to go on de boat

without bein' question'. When he got here he gone on de water-front an'

ax for a job on a ship so he could git to de North. He got de job an'

sail' wood de ship. Dey search de island up an' down for him wood

houndogs en w'en it wus t'ought he wus drowned, 'cause dey track him to

de river, did dey give up. One of his master' friend gone to New York en

went in a store w'ere Pas wus employed as a clerk. He reconize' pa is

easy is pa reconize' him. He gone back home an' tell pa master who know

den dat pa wusn't comin' back an' before he died he sign' papers dat pa

wus free. Pa ma wus dead an' he come down to bury her by de permission

of his master' son who had promised no ha'm would come to him, but dey

wus fixin' plans to keep him, so he went to the Work House an' ax to be

sold 'cause any slave could sell e self if e could git to de Work House.

But it wus on record down dere so dey couldn't sell 'im an' told him his

master' people couldn't hold him a slave.

People den use to do da same t'ings dey do now. Some marry an' some live

together jus' like now. One t'ing, no minister nebber say in readin' de

matrimony "let no man put asounder" 'cause a couple would be married

tonight an' tomorrow one would be taken away en be sold. All slaves wus

married in dere master house, in de livin' room where slaves an' dere

missus an' massa wus to witness de ceremony. Brides use to wear some of

de finest dress an' if dey could afford it, have de best kind of

furniture. Your master nor your missus objected to good t'ings.

I'll always 'member Clory, de washer. She wus very high-tempered. She

wus a mulatta with beautiful hair she could sit on; Clory didn't take

foolishness frum anybody. One day our missus gone in de laundry an' find

fault with de clothes. Clory didn't do a t'ing but pick her up bodily

an' throw 'er out de door. Dey had to sen' fur a doctor 'cause she

pregnant an' less than two hours de baby wus bo'n. Afta dat she begged

to be sold fur she didn't want to kill missus, but our master ain't

nebber want to sell his slaves. But dat didn't keep Clory frum gittin' a

brutal whippin'. Dey whip' 'er until dere wasn't a white spot on her

body. Dat wus de worst I ebber see a human bein' got such a beatin'. I

t'ought she wus goin' to die, but she got well an' didn't get any better

but meaner until our master decide it wus bes' to rent her out. She

willingly agree' since she wusn't 'round missus. She hated an' detest'

both of them an' all de fambly.

W'en any slave wus whipped all de other slaves wus made to watch. I see

women hung frum de ceilin' of buildin's an' whipped with only supin tied

'round her lower part of de body, until w'en dey wus taken down, dere

wusn't breath in de body. I had some terribly bad experiences.

Yankees use to come t'rough de streets, especially de Big Market,

huntin' those who want to go to de "free country" as dey call' it. Men

an' women wus always missin' an' nobody could give 'count of dere

disappearance. De men wus train' up North fur sojus.

De white race is so brazen. Dey come here an' run de Indians frum dere

own lan', but dey couldn't make dem slaves 'cause dey wouldn't stan' for

it. Indians use to git up in trees an' shoot dem with poison arrow. W'en

dey couldn't make dem slaves den dey gone to Africa an' bring dere black

brother an' sister. Dey say 'mong themselves, "we gwine mix dem up en

make ourselves king. Dats e only way we'll git even with de Indians."

All time, night an' day, you could hear men an' women screamin' to de

tip of dere voices as either ma, pa, sister, or brother wus take without

any warnin' an' sell. Some time mother who had only one chile wus

separated fur life. People wus always dyin' frum a broken heart.

One night a couple married an' de next mornin' de boss sell de wife. De

gal ma got in in de street an' cursed de white woman fur all she could

find. She said: "dat damn white, pale-face bastard sell my daughter who

jus' married las' night," an' other t'ings. The white 'oman treaten' her

to call de police if she didn't stop, but de collud woman said: "hit me

or call de police. I redder die dan to stan' dis any longer! De police

took her to de work House by de white woman orders an' what became of

'er, I never hear.

W'en de war began we wus taken to Aiken, South Ca'lina w'ere we stay'

until de Yankees come t'rough. We could see balls sailin' t'rough de air

w'en Sherman wus comin'. Bumbs hit trees in our yard. W'en de freedom

gun wus fired, I wus on my 'nees scrubbin'. Dey tell me I wus free but I

didn't b'lieve it.

In de days of slavery woman wus jus' given time 'nough to deliver dere

babies. Dey deliver de baby 'bout eight in de mornin' an' twelve had too

be back to work.

I wus a member of Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for 67

years. Big Zion, across de street wus my church before den an' before

Old Bethel w'en I lived on de other end of town.

Sence Lincoln shook hands with his assasin who at de same time shoot

him, frum dat day I stop shakin' hands, even in de church, an' you know

how long dat wus. I don't b'lieve in kissin' neider fur all carry dere

meannesses. De Master wus betrayed by one of his bosom frien' with a



Interview with (Mrs.) Susan Hamilton, 17 Henrietta Street, who claims to be

101 years of age. She has never been sick for twenty years and walks as though

just 40. She was hired out by her master for seven dollars a month which had to

be given her master.

Susan Dale Sanders Susan Hamlin facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail