Washington Dozier

Project 1885-(1)

Prepared by Annie Ruth Davis

Place, Marion, S. C.

Date, Jane 23, 1937


Ex-Slave, 90 years

"Dis heah sho' Washington Dozier. Dat is wha' de hard time left uv him.

I born en raise dere in Florence County de 18th uv December, 1847. Don'

know 'xactly wha' my father name, but my mudder tell me he wuz name

Dozier. My mudder wuz Becky en she b'long to ole man Wiles Gregg dere on

de Charleston road. I hab two sisters en one brother, but not uv one

father. I s'ppose brother Henry wuz me whole brother en Fannie en

Ca'oline wuz jes me half sister."

"Well, dey ne'er hab so mucha sumptin, but I recollect dey make dey own

produce den. Oh, dey lib very well. We call it good libin' at dat time.

Coase de bedding de colored peoples hab wasn't much cause dey jes hab

some kind uv home-made stuff den. We raise in a t'ree room house wha'

hab floor on two uv de room. Hab house right dere on de Gregg

plantation. Family went from age to age in dat day en time wid dey own

Massa name. I 'member my gra'mudder was name Fannie Gregg. Now, I tell

yuh how I 'count fa me hab de name Dozier, I jes s'ppose dat come from

me father."

"Hadder do some sorta work in dem days lak hoe corn en replant en so on

lak dat, but ne'er didn't do no man work. Wuz jes uh half hand, dat is

'bout so. Dey gi'e us plenty sumptin to eat den, but ne'er pay us no

money. Coase dey didn't 'low us no choice uv wha' we eat at dat time.

Hab plenty meat en corn bread en molasses mos' aw de time. Den dey le'

us hab uh garden uv we own en we hunt possum many uh time en ketch fish

too. Meat was de t'ing dat I lak mostly."

"Dey gi'e us good clothes to put on us back wha' dey hab make on de

plantation en in de winter, dey gi'e us good warm clothes. Jes wear

wha'e'er de white folks gi'e us. Didn't take no 'ffect tall 'bout Sunday


"Fust time I marry I hab uh very good wedding. Marry ole man Gurley

daughter o'er in Florence County. Don' know 'xactly how ole I was den,

but I c'n tell yah dis much, I wasn't in no herry to marry. Aw colored

peoples hadder do to marry den wuz to go to dey Massa en ge' uh permit

en consider demselves man en wife. I recollect dat we hab a very good

wedding supper dere. I marry Georgeanna de second time en I hab four

head uv chillun by me fust wife en four head uv chillun by me second

wife. Ne'er couldn't tell how many gran'chillun I got."

My Massa en Missus wuz mighty pious good people. Dey go to preachin'

dere to Hopewell Presbyterian Chu'ch aw de time. De man wha' wuz de

preacher dere den wuz name Frierson. De colored peoples go dere to dat

same chu'ch en sot en de gallery. Yuh know dere spirituals hymns en dere

reels. I c'n sing one uv dem dat I use'er sing in my slumberin' hours.

It go lak dis:

Chillun, wha' yuh gwinna do in de jedgment mornin'?

Chillun, wha' yuh gwinna do in de jedgment mornin'?

Oh Chillun, wha' yuh gwinna do in de jedgment mornin'

When ole Gable go down on de seashore?

He gwinna place one foot in de sea

En de udder on de land,

En declare tha' time would be no more,

Chillun, wha' yuh gwinna do?

Chillun, wha' yah gwinna do in de jedgment mornin'?

Chillun, wha' yah gwinna do in de jedgment mornin'?

Then chillun, wha' yuh gwinna do

When ole Gable go down on de seashore?

He gwinna place one foot in de sea

En de udder on de land,

En declare tha' time would be no more,

Then chillun, wha' yuh gwinna do in de jedgment mornin'?

"Now de angels sing dat to me in my slumberin' hour en dey sing it dat I

might gi'e it to de libin' heah on dis earth. Well, I know right smart

uv dem song cause accordin' to my 'sperience, de hymn book wha' to fence

de human family in. I got ah good set uv lungs en I wuz de one wha' lead

de flock den. Dere jes one grand reason why I can' sing right well dis

a'ternoon, yuh is take me on de surprise lak."

"I was jes uh chap in slavery time en I hadder stay dere home aw de time

whey dere didn't no harm come 'bout me. Dey le' we chillun play marbles

en ball aw we wanna den. Jes chunk de ball to one annuder o'er de house.

Dat how we play ball in dem times. My white folks didn't do nuthin but

stay home en go to chu'ch meetin's. Dey ne'er didn't punish none uv dey

colored peoples en didn' 'low no udder people to do it neither. I

couldn't tell yah how many slave dey own but dey hab more slave by de

increase uv dey families. Dey hab so many dat some uv de time dey'ud

hire some uv dem out to annuder plantation. Ne'er didn't see em sell

none uv dey colored peoples. I know dis much, dat wuz uh right good

place to lib."

"I heared tell uv trouble 'tween de whites en de colored peoples, but

dere wuzn't none uv dat 'round whey I stay. Dey say some uv de slave run

'way fa bad treatment en stay in de woods. Didn't hab no jails den en

when dey'd ketch em, dey'ud buff em en gag em en hoss whip em. Now, I

ne'er see none uv dat but I heared tell uv it."

"My Massa ne'er didn't work us hard lak. Coase uz de day' ud come, de

hands hadder go up to de big house en go 'bout dey business, but dey

al'ays knock offen early on uh Saturday evenin' en le' everbody do jes

wha' dey wanna dere on de plantation. Ne'er didn't use no horn to wake

dey colored peoples up en didn't wake em work en de big Christmus day en

New Years' neither. Ne'er hab no udder holidays but dem two. My Massa

gi'e aw his colored peoples uh big Christmus dinner to de white folks

house. Jes hab plenty uv fresh meat en rice en biscuit en cake fa

eve'ybody dat day."

"Dey hab funeral fa de colored peoples den jes lak dey hab dese days

'cept dey ne'er hab no preacher 'bout. Aw de slaves stop workin' fa de

funeral en dey'ud jes carry de body en permit it to de ground uz wuz de

usual t'ing dey do. Coase dey hab plenty singin' dere."

"Dem t'ing wha' people call ghostes, dey is evil walks. I know dis much,

de sperit uv de body travels en dat de truth sho' uz I libin' heah.

Coase I ain' ne'er see none uv dem t'ing en I ain' scared uv nuthin

neither. Don' ne'er pay no 'ttention to no black cat en t'ing lak dat.

Ain' bother wid none uv dem charm neither. De peoples use'er hab dey own

doc'or book en dey search dat en use wha' it say do. Dey ne'er use no

me'icine tall den but calomel en castor oil en turpentine."

"I sho' 'member when de fust gun shoot dere to Fort Sumter. Us fer uz I

c'n recollect, it wuz in June. De Yankees come t'rough dere en to my

knowin', dey 'haved very well. Jes ax my Massa fa sumptin to eat en dat

wuz aw dey done. Dere sho' wuz uh rejoicing 'mongest some uv de colored

peoples when dey tell em dey wuz free uz de white folks wuz. Some uv dem

leab dey Massa plantation jes uz soon uz dey know'd dey wuz free, but we

ne'er do dat. Jes stayed right on dere wid Mr. Gregg en work fa

one-third uv wha' dey make. Coase de white folks furnish aw de wear en

tear uv eve't'ing."

"Dey ain' ne'er hab no schools fa de colored peoples no whey 'bout whey

I stay 'fore freedom come heah. Won' long a'ter de war dat free schools

wuz open up dere. It jes lak dis, I ain' bother wid dem schools mucha

den, but I c'n read right smart. Jes ketch it uz I come 'long en wha' I

kotch, I put dat to work. I is went to one uv dese night schools dey hab

'bout heah not long gone."

"Mr. Abraham Lincoln, I ain' ne'er see him, but I know he wuz de

President uv de United States. Ain' ne'er see Mr. Jefferson Davis

neither. Dey wus oppositionalist den, I sho' know dat."

"It jes lak dis, I t'ink dis uh better day we lib in dese times. When we

b'long to de white folks, we lib, en a'ter we wuz free we lib right on.

I t'ink being free de best time to lib. Better to be loose den tied

cause don' care how good yo' owner, yuh hadder be under dey

jurisdiction. Ain' dat right?"

Source: Washington Dozier, age 90, colored, Pee Dee, Marion

Co. (Personal interview, June 1937).

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