Informational Site NetworkInformational Site Network
  Home - Biography - I Have a Dream Speech - QuotesBlack History: Articles - Poems - Authors - Speeches - Folk Rhymes - Slavery Interviews

Jane Sutton

From: Mississippi

Gulfport, Mississippi

Jane Sutton, ex-slave, is 84 years old. She is 5 feet, 6 inches tall and
weighs 130 pounds. She is what the Negroes themselves call a

"I was born in Simpson County, near old Westville, on a big farm what
b'long to Marse Jack Berry. I was 12 years old when de surrender come,
so my ole Mis' say. Her name was 'Mis Ailsey an' all us cullud folks
call her 'Ole Mi's. She an' Old Marster had twelve chillun: Marthy,
'Lizabeth, Flavilia, Mary, Jack, Bill, Denson, Pink, Tally, Thomas,
Albert, and Frank.

"My pappy's name was Steve Hutchins. He b'long to de Hutchins what live
down near Silver Creek. He jus' come on Satu'd'y night an' us don' see
much of 'im. Us call him 'dat man.' Mammy tol' us to be more 'spectful
to 'im 'cause he was us daddy, but us aint care nothin' 'bout 'im. He
aint never brung us no candy or nothin'.

"My mammy was name Lucy Berry. She always go by de white folks name what
she live wid. She aint never marry. She had fo' boys an' three girls.
Dey was name Delia, Sarah, Ella, Nathan, Isom, Anderson, an' Pleas. She
work in de fiel' an Old Marster say she's de only woman on de place what
could plow lak a man.

"I 'members my gran'ma, too. Us always call her 'Granny.' She say dey
stole her back in Virginny an' brung 'er to Mississippi an' sol' her to
Marse Berry. Her name was Hannah. She was my mammy's Mammy. I don'
'member nothin' 'bout my pappy's folks 'cause I never seen none of' em.

"Old Marster was a rich man for dat day. He had a sawmill, a cotton gin,
an' a gris' mill. Us always had plenty t'eat an' wear. Dey spun an'
weaved dey own cloth an' made us clo'es out-a it.

"I can jus' see de white folk's house now. It was a big house, nice an'
clean, but twant painted. It had a row o' rooms 'cross dis way an'
a-nother row dat way wid a hall between. Dey had plenty o' rooms for all
dem boys an' gals. Some of 'em was 'bout grown. De quarters[FN: slave
quarters] was in de back o' de house. De cook's house was closes' to de
Big House, den nex' was Granny's house where us stayed. Den come a long
row way down to de back fence.

"Dey didn' have no overseer or driver. Dey was 'nough o' dem boys to
look after de work an' Old Marster say he don' need no overseer to look
after his slaves.

"My white folks was all Baptis' an' dey made us go to church, too. De
church was called de Strong River Church. Dey had big baptisin's. I
'members when I joined de church. De white folks preacher baptised us in
de creek what run from Marse Berry's mill pond. I was dressed up in a
white lowell slip. When us dress' up in Sund'y clo'es us had caliker[FN:
calico] dresses. Dey sho' was pretty. I 'members a dress now dat Old
Marster bought for my granny. It was white an' yaller, an' it was de
prettiest thing I ever seen.

"Us white folks was good to us. Dey warnt always a-beatin' an'
a-knockin' us 'roun'. De truf is you couldn' fin' a scar on nary one o'
us. 'Course, some times dey whup us, but dey didn' gash us lak some o'
de old marsters did dey Niggers.

"When Old Marster died I didn' know nothin' bout him bein' sick. He took
a cramp colic in de night an' was dead 'fore mornin'. I hear somebody
a-cryin' at de Big House an' Granny tol' us dat Old Marster done die in
de night. Dey had a big fun'al an' all de folks come. De men carried him
to de graveyard by de church. Dey didn' have no hearses dem days. Twant
far to de graveyard so dey jus' toted de coffin to whar dey buried 'im.
Dey put flowers in cups an' vases on de grave, so's dey wouldn' wilt.

"Us was all sorry when Old Marster died, I cried 'cause I said, 'Now us
won' git no more candy.' He used to bring us candy whan he went to town.
Us'd be lookin' for 'im when he come home. He'd say, 'Whars all my
little Niggers?' Den us'd come a-runnin' an' he'd han' it to us out-a
his saddle bags. It was mos'ly good stick candy.

"I 'members de paterollers. Whenever de cullud folks would slip off an'
have dey frolics dout gittin' a pass from Old Marster de paterollers
would come. Lots-a time dey'd come while us was a-dancin' an' a-havin' a
big time. Dem paterollers would swarm in de room lak a lot o' bees. Fore
anybody knowed it, dey'd begin grabbing at de mens. If dey didn' have
dey pass wid 'em dey took 'em down in de woods an' whup 'em for runnin'
off wid out asking dey white folks. Dey didn' bother de wimnins much.
De wimmins mos' always got away while dey was catchin' de mens.

"Onct I slipped off wid another gal an' went to a party dout asking Old
Mis'. When dem Night Riders come dat night, de Niggers was a-runnin' an'
a-dodgin' an' a-jumpin' out-a winders lak dey was scairt to death. I
runs too, me an' dat other gal. I fell down an' tore my dress, but I
warnt studyin' dat dress. I knows dat dem white folks had dat strap an'
I's gittin' 'way fas' as I could.

"When Miss 'Lizabeth got married to Mr. Ras Laird, dey had a big weddin'
an' all dey folks come to see 'em married. Den dey went to live in
Rankin County an' took me wid 'em. Old Marster had give me to Miss

"I 'members when de Yankees come to de house. Us heard dey was comin',
so us hid all de hams an' shoulders up in de lof' o' de Big House. Dey
didn' git much. Dey was so mad dey jus' tore up some of Old Mis' clo'es
what was in de wardrobe. Us was sho' scairt of 'em.

"I 'members dey promise to give de cullud folks all kin' o' things. Dey
never give 'em nothin' dat I know's about. Us was jus' turnt loose to
scratch for us ownse'ves. Us was glad to stay on wid de white folks,
'cause dey was de bes' frien's us had. I don' know nobody what got a
thing 'cept what Old Marster an' Old Mis' give 'em.

"After freedom I went back to 'Old Mis'. I walked all de way back from
Rankin County. It was a long way, but I wanted to see Old Mis' an' my
Mammy an' my brothers an' sisters.

"When de surrender come by pappy come to git me. I didn' wan'-a go. I
tol' 'im I's gwine stay wid Old Mis'. So he goes an' gits de sheriff an'
takes me anyway. I runned away twict an' come back to Old Mis'. He
whupped me de firs' time, but de nex' time I hid from him an' he couldn'
catch me. He went back home an' 'lemme 'lone. Den I went wid my mammy to
live wid Marse Tally Berry. He was one of Old Marster's sons. Dey used
to come an' tell me dat dat old Nigger was gwine kill me if I didn' come
wid him. But I jus' stayed hid out till he went away.

"I spec' all my white folks is dead now. I wish I could go back to 'em
now. Dey help me. Dey was good to us after de War was over. Dis one
would want me to live wid dem, den de other one would want me to live
wid dem. Sometimes I quit one an' go live wid de other one. All of 'em
sho' did treat me good. I's havin' a heap harder time now dan I ever had
in slav'ry times. I sho' is.

"Dey raised de young folks better dem days. Dey learnt 'em to work. Dey
didn' min' work. Today dey don' care 'bout nothin' but havin' a good
time. Dey ain' studyin' 'bout no hereafter, neither.

"De Relief give me a little somethin' t'eat an' wear one time, but dey
aint never give me no money. I's old an' needy, but I's trustin' de Lord
an' de good white folks to he'p me now. All de white folks I used to
work for has moved away from town now. I don' have nobody to look to but
my daughter. She looks after me de bes' she can. Dey is some neighbor
wimmins dat comes an' sets wid me sometimes.

"I's gittin' deaf an' I aint got a tooth lef' in my head. I's too feeble
to he'p make a livin', but maybe I'll git dat Old Age Pension 'fore I

Next: Mollie Williams

Previous: Isaac Stier

Add to Informational Site Network