Sept. 22, 1937
MENELLIS GASSAWAY, Ex-slave.
Reference: Personal interview with Menellis Gassaway, ex-slave,
on Sept. 22, 1937, at M.E. Home, Carrollton Ave., Baltimore.
"My name is Menellis Gassaway, son of Owing and Annabel Gassaway. I was
born in Freedom District, Carroll County, about 1850 or 52, brother of
Henrietta, Menila and Villa. Our father and mother lived in Carroll
County near Eldersberg in a stone and log cabin, consisting of two
rooms, one up and one down, with four windows, two in each room, on a
small farm situated on a public road, I don't know the name.
"My father worked on a small farm with no other slaves, but our family.
We raised on the farm vegetables and grain, consisting of corn and
wheat. Our farm produced wheat and corn, which was taken to the grist
mill to be ground; besides, we raised hogs and a small number of other
stock for food.
"During the time I was a slave and the short time it was, I can't
remember what we wore or very much about local conditions. The people,
that is the white people, were friendly with our family and other
colored people so far as I can recall.
"I do not recall of seeing slaves sold nor did the man who owned our
family buy or sell slaves. He was a small man.
"As to the farm, I do not know the size, but I know it was small. On the
farm there was no jail, or punishment inflicted on Pap or Ma while they
"There was no church on the farm, but we were members of the old side
Methodist church, having a colored preacher. The church was a long ways
from the farm.
"My father neglected his own education as well as his children. He could
not read himself. He did not teach any of his children to read, of which
we in later years saw the advantage.
"In Carroll County there were so many people who were Union men that it
was dangerous for whites in some places to say they were Rebels. This
made the colored and white people very friendly.
"Pap was given holidays when he wanted. I do not know whether he worked
on Saturdays or not. On Sunday we went to church.
"My father was owned by a man by the name of Mr. Dorsey. My mother was
bound out by Mr. Dorsey to a man by the name of Mr. Morris of Frederick
"I have never heard of many ghost stories. But I believe once, a
conductor on the railroad train was killed and headed (beheaded), and
after that, a ghost would appear on the spot where he was killed. Many
people in the neighborhood saw him and people on the train often saw him
when the train passed the spot where he was killed.
"So far as being sick, we did not have any doctors. The poor white could
not afford to hire one, and the colored doctored themselves with herbs,
teas and salves made by themselves."
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