From: South Carolina
Prepared by Annie Ruth Davis
Place, Marion, S.C.
Date, December 2, 1937
Reduced from ---- words
Rewritten by ----
Ex-Slave, Age 70-75
"I been born down yonder to old man Wash (Washington) Woodberry's
plantation. Pa Cudjo, he been keep my age in de Bible en he tell me dat
I come here de first year of freedom. Monday Woodberry was my
grandfather en Celina Woodberry, my grandmother. I tell you, I is seen a
day, since I come here. My mammy, she been drown right down dere in de
Pee Dee river, fore I get big enough to make motion en talk what I know.
Dat how-come it be dat Pa Cudjo raise me. You see, Pa Cudjo, he been
work down to de swamp a heap of de time en been run boat en rafter up en
down dat river all bout dere. Ma, she get word, one day, she better come
cross de river to de Sand Hills to see bout grandmammy cause she been
took down wid de fever en was bad off. Pa Cudjo tell her de river been
mighty high, but dat he would risk to take us. Say, Ma, she get in de
boat wid Pa Cudjo en take me in her lap en dey start cross de river. De
wind, it begin gettin higher en higher en de boat, it go dis way en den
it go de other way. Cose I never recollect nothin bout dat day cause I
won' nothin, so to speak, but a sucklin child den. But I hear Pa Cudjo
speak bout de water wash rougher en rougher en knock side dat boat just
like it been comin out de ocean. Say, fore he think bout he in trouble,
de wind just snatch he hat right out in de water en when he reach out
after it, he hear Ma holler en de next thing he know, us all been
throwed right out in de water. Yes, mam, de boat turned over en dumped
us all out in dat big old crazy river. Pa Cudjo say, if he ain' never
had no mind to pray fore den, he know, when he see dat boat gwine down
dat stream, dere won' nothin' left to do, but to pray. Pa Cudjo tell dat
he make for de bank fast as he could get dere cause he know de devil
been in de river dat day en he never know whe' he might go. I reckon you
hear talk bout, Pa Cudjo, he been a cussin man. Never had no mind what
he was gwine let loose no time. But poor Ma, she been a buxom woman, so
dey tell me, en when she hit de bottom of dat river, she never didn'
come to de top no more. Like I tell you, I never been long come here den
en I ain' been fast gwine under de water cause dere won' no heaviness
nowhe' bout me. Pa Cudjo say, he pray en he cuss en when he look up, he
see a boat makin up de river wid two men in it en me lyin dere 'tween
dem. You see, dey had come along en pick me up bout a mile from dere
floatin down de river. Now, I tellin you what come out of Pa Cudjo
mouth. Pa Cudjo say, when he see me, he been so happy, he pray en he
cuss. Say, he thank de Lord for savin me en he thank de devil for lettin
me loose. Yes, mam, I tell you, I been raise up a motherless child right
dere wid Pa Cudjo en I been take de storm many a day. I say, if you is
determine to go through wid a thing, God knows, you can make it. Cose
Pa Cudjo, he been mighty good to me, but he used to have dem cussin
spells, my Lord. Been love to keep up fun all de time."
"Oh, de colored people never had no liberty, not one speck, in slavery
time. Old man Wash Woodberry, he was rough wid his niggers, but dem what
lived on Miss Susan Stevenson's plantation, dey been fare good all de
time. I know what I talk bout cause I been marry Cato Gause en he tell
me dey been live swell to Miss Susan's plantation. Dat whe' he been born
en raise up. Hear Pa Cudjo talk bout dat Miss Harriet Woodberry whip my
mother one day en she run away en went down in Woodberry en stayed a
long time. Say, some of de Woodberry niggers stayed down dere till after
freedom come here. Yes, mam, white folks would whip dey colored people
right dere, if dey didn' do what dey tell dem to do. Oh, dey was awful
in dat day en time. Colored people had to live under a whip massa en
couldn' do nothin, but what he say do. Yes, mam, dey had dese head men,
what dey call overseers, on all de plantations dat been set out to whip
de niggers. I tell you, it was rough en tough in dem days. Dey would
beat you bout to death. My grandfather en my grandmother, dey die wid
scars on dem dat de white folks put dere."
"Oh, my Lord, dey would give de colored people dey allowance to last dem
a week to a time, but dey never didn' give dem nothin widout dey work
to get it en dat been dey portion. I remember, I hear Cato tell bout Mr.
Bobbie say, "Mom Dicey, dey tell me dey catch Bacchus stealin Pa's
watermelons out de field de other night." (Bacchus was Mom Dicey's son).
Grandmother Dicey say, "Oh, he never take nothin but dem little rotten
end ones." Den Mr. Bobbie say, "Well, dey tell me, dey catch Bacchus
stealin de horse's corn out de feed trough de other night." En
grandmother Dicey say, "Well, if he did, he never take nothin, but what
been belong to him." Dat it, some white folks was better to dey colored
people den others would be. Would give dem so much of meal en meat en
molasses to last dem a week en dey would feed all de nigger chillun to
de big house 'tween meals. Have cook woman to give dem all de milk en
clabber dey wanted dere to de white people yard."
"De overseer, he would give you a task to do en you had to do it, too,
if you never been want your neck broke. Yes, mam, de overseer would
stock you down en whip you wid a buggy whip. Some of de time, when de
colored people wouldn' do what dey been put to do, dey would hide in de
woods en stay dere till de overseer come after dem. Oh, dey would find
dem wid de nigger dog. When de overseer would find out dey had run away,
he would send de nigger dog to hunt dem. My God, child, dem dogs would
sho find you. Some of de time, dey would run you up a tree en another
time, dey would catch you whe' dere won' no tree to go up en grab you
en gnaw you up. Yes, mam, de overseer would hear you hollerin or else he
would hear de dog barkin at you up de tree. Dem nigger dogs, I know you
is see dem kind of dogs. Dey is high, funny lookin dogs. Don' look like
no other kind of dog. When dey would find de one dey was huntin, dey
would just stand right dere en look up in de tree en howl."
"De colored people never had no church dey own in slavery time cause dey
went to de white people church. Yes, mam, I been dere to de Old Neck
Church many a day. In dat day en time, when de preacher would stand up
to preach, he would talk to de white folks en de colored people right
dere together. But when de colored people would get converted in dem
days, dey never been allowed to praise de Lord wid dey mouth. Had to
pray in dey sleeve in dem days. De old man Pa Cudjo, he got right one
day to de big house en he had to pray wid he head in de pot."
"No, mam, de colored people never didn' have no liberty no time in dem
days. Cose dey had dey little crop of corn en 'tatoe en thing like dat
bout dey house, what dey would work at night, but dat won' nothin to
speak bout. Oh, dey would put fire in a fry pan en fetch it up on a
stump to see to work by."
"No, child, white people never teach colored people nothin, but to be
good to dey Massa en Mittie. What learnin dey would get in dem days, dey
been get it at night. Taught demselves."
"Now, Pa Cudjo, if he been here, my Lord, I couldn' never say what he
might could tell you. Like I say, he been a cussin man en he die wid a
bright mind. Cose I never come here what dey call a slavery child, but I
been hear slavery people speak dey mind plenty times."
=Source:= Louisa Gause, colored, age 70-75; Brittons Neck, S.C.
Personal interview by Annie Ruth Davis.
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