William M Quinn

Federal Writers' Project

of the W.P.A.

District #6

Marion County

Harry Jackson


431 Bright Street, Indianapolis, Ind.

William M. Quinn, 431 Bright street, was a slave up to ten years of

age--"when the soldiers come back home, and the war was over, and we

wasn't slaves anymore". Mr. Quinn was born in Hardin County, Kentucky,

on a farm belonging to Steve Stone. He and a brother and his mother were

slaves of "Old Master Stone", but his father was owned by another man,

Mr. Quinn, who had an adjoining farm. When they were all freed, they

took the surname of Quinn.

Mr. Quinn said that they were what was called "gift slaves". They were

never to be sold from the Stone farm and were given to Stone's daughter

as a gift with that understanding. He said that his "Old master paid him

and his brother ten cents a day for cutting down corn and shucking it."

It was very unusual for a slave to receive any money whatsoever for

working. He said that his master had a son about his age, and the son

and he and his brother worked around the farm together, and "Master

Stone" gave all three of them ten cents a day when they worked.

Sometimes they wouldn't, they would play instead. And whenever "Master

Stone" would catch them playing when they ought to have been at work, he

would whip them--"and that meant his own boy would get a licking too."

"Old Master Stone was a good man to all us colored folks, we loved him.

He wasn't one of those mean devils that was always beating up his slaves

like some of the rest of them." He had a colored overseer and one day

this overseer ran off and hid for two days "cause he whipped one of old

Mas' Stone's slaves and he heard that Mas' Stone was mad and he didn't

like it."

"We didn't know that we were slaves, hardly. Well, my brother and I

didn't know anyhow 'cause we were too young to know, but we knew that we

had been when we got older."

"After emancipation we stayed at the Stone family for some time, 'cause

they were good to us and we had no place to go." Mr. Quinn meant by

emancipation that his master freed his slaves, and, as he said,

"emancipated them a year before Lincoln did."

Mr. Quinn said that his father was not freed when his mother and he and

his brother were freed, because his father's master "didn't think the

North would win the war." Stone's slaves fared well and ate good food

and "his own children didn't treat us like we were slaves." He said some

of the slaves on surrounding plantations and farms had it "awful hard

and bad." Some times slaves would run away during the night, and he said

that "we would give them something to eat." He said his mother did the

cooking for the Stone family and that she was good to runaway slaves.

Submitted September 9, 1937

Indianapolis, Indiana

William M Adams William Mcwhorter facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail