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Florida Clayton

From: Florida

American Guide, (Negro Writers' Unit)

Rachel A. Austin, Field Worker
Jacksonville, Florida
November 20, 1936


The life of Florida Clayton is interesting in that it illustrates the
miscegenation prevalent during the days of slavery. Interesting also is
the fact that Florida was not a slave even though she was a product
of those turbulent days. Many years before her birth--March 1,
1854--Florida's great grandfather, a white man, came to Tallahassee,
Florida from Washington, District of Columbia, with his children whom he
had by his Negro slave. On coming to Florida, he set all of his children
free except one boy, Amos, who was sold to a Major Ward. For what reason
this was done, no one knew. Florida, named for the state in which she
was born, was one of seven children born to Charlotte Morris (colored)
whose father was a white man and David Clayton (white).

Florida, in a retrogressive mood, can recall the "nigger hunters" and
"nigger stealers" of her childhood days. Mr. Nimrod and Mr. Shehee, both
white, specialized in catching runaway slaves with their trained
bloodhounds. Her parents always warned her and her brothers and sisters
to go in someone's yard whenever they saw these men with their dogs lest
the ferocious animals tear them to pieces. In regards to the "nigger
stealers," Florida tells of a covered wagon which used to come to
Tallahassee at regular intervals and camp in some secluded spot. The
children, attracted by the old wagon, would be eager to go near it, but
they were always told that "Dry Head and Bloody Bones," a ghost who
didn't like children, was in that wagon. It was not until later years
that Florida and the other children learned that the driver of the wagon
was a "nigger stealer" who stole children and took them to Georgia to
sell at the slave markets.

When she was 11 years old, Florida saw the surrender of Tallahassee to
the Yankees. Three years later she came to Jacksonville to live with her
sister. She married but is now divorced after 12 years of marriage.

Three years ago she entered the Old Folks Home at 1627 Franklin Street
to live.

1. Personal Interview with Florida Clayton, 1627 Franklin Street,
Jacksonville, Florida

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