W M Gree





Project 1885-1

FOLKLORE

Spartanburg, Dist. 4

Sept. 7, 1937



Edited by:

Elmer Turnage



STORIES OF EX-SLAVES





"Cap, I was born on de Bonner place, five miles from Gaffney. Jest about

de very first recollection dat sticks wid me, is my mammy a-hiding me

when de Ku Klux was riding. She heard de hosses a-trotting and she

rushed us out'n our beds and took us and buried us in de fodder out in

our barn, and told us to be as quiet as possible. Both my parents went

and hid in de edge of de woods. De Ku Klux passed on by widout even

holding up dere hosses.



"During slavery my mother went to Mississippi wid her mistress,

Artimesse Smith Ross. Soon atter Freedom dey come back to Smith's Ford

on de Pacolet. Steers pulled 'slides', wid de white folk belongings on

de slides. We niggers went to meeting on de slides. De ends of de slides

was curved upward. When we got to meeting, we went under de brush

arbors. Fresh brush was kept cut so dat de sun would not shine through.

Under de arbors we sat on slabs and de preacher stood on de ground. We

had better meetings den dan dey have now. Everybody had better religion

den dan dey does now. In dem days religion went further dan it does now.

Yes sir, religion meant something den, and went somewhars. My pappy rode

a ginny to preaching.



"Dere was not as much devilment as dere is now. Times was better fer

niggers. One day last week I went to meeting and took dinner. We eat on

a slab table and had ice tea to drink. Meas was dere drinking on de

side, and all other devilment dey could carry on in sight of de church.

De preacher eat wid us. Some eat out of dere buckets and would not come

and be wid de crowd. Long time ago, nobody didn't act greedy like dat.

Girls cut up like boys now, and nobody don't look down on dem.



"When I was a boy, girls acted like de old folks and dey did not carry

on. Nobody ever heard of a girl drinking and smoking den. If a girl made

a mistake in de old days she was throwed overboard. Why when I was

little, us boys went in a-washing wid de girls and never thought nothing

'bout it. We was most grown befo' we know'd a thing 'bout man and woman.

I was fifteen years old when I got my first shoes and dey had brass

toes. We played ball wid de girls in de house, and sung songs like:

'Goosey, Goosey Gander'."



"We had wheat bread only once a week," said Jesse Stevenson who came up

and entered the conversation, "and dat was on Sunday. I had a good time

at Green's wedding. Green married Carrie Phillips who lived two miles

above me. We boys talked to de girls in school. We was around twenty

years old befo' we went to school. Of course dat was atter Freedom. De

teacher would light on both of us fer talking across de books. Carrie

was about a year younger dan Green. Green, tell de gentleman

(interviewer) what you said when you ax'd uncle Ben fer Carrie."



"I say," said Green, "come out into de cool of de yard, please sir, if

you will uncle Ben; I has a question of de utmost concern to us both to

lay at your feet'. Uncle Ben say, 'Look here, young nigger, don't you

know dat I ain't got no business gwine out in no night dew--what ails

you nohow?' I 'lows, 'Uncle Ben, it is a great matter of life and death

dat I wishes to consult wid you over'. He clear his throat and spit in

de fire and say, 'Wait, I'll come if it's dat urgent.' I took him under

a tree so dat no dew wouldn't drap on his head and give him a cold. I

said, 'I want to marry your daughter, uncle Ben.' He say, 'Which one is

dat dat you wishes, Sir?' 'De purttiest one, Carrie,' says I; 'dat is,

if you ain't got no objection.'



"Befo' I axed fer Carrie I was loving two gals, but of course I drapped

de other'n after uncle Ben give me a favorable answer. Me and Carrie

married at Miss Twitty Thompson's house. Dat whar uncle Ben had raised

Carrie. Carrie's missus give her a good wedding supper wid chicken, ham,

turkey, cake and coffee, and tater salad. Seventy-five people is what

Miss Twitty let Carrie ax to dat supper. All dem niggers was dere, too.



"I had on a grey suit wid big stripes in it. Carrie had on a white dress

and a white veil. We used dat veil to keep de skeeters off'n our first

two babies. It made de best skeeter net. We married one Sunday morning

at 'leven o'clock and had dinner at twelve; give de preacher twenty-five

cents. Never no one give us no presents. We stayed at my pappy's house

fer years. He give us a bed, a bureau and a washstand. Carrie's folks

give us de bed clothes, and dats what we started on. Jesse, tell de

gentleman what you did at my wedding."



"I stood wid Green," said Jesse Stevenson, "and I had on a brown suit

wid grey stripes gwine up and down it. Atter de ceremony all de gals

wanted to swing me and Green, but Carrie grabbed him and shake her head

and grin; so I got all de swinging."



Green said, "Me and Carrie never went no whar atter our marriage. We

stayed on wid my pappy and worked. We been doing well ever since."



=Source:= W. M. Green (71); Jesse Stevenson (71), Rt. 1, Gaffney, S.C.

Interviewer: Caldwell Sims 8/23/37





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