Sarah Probst, Reporter
Audrey Meighen, Author-Editor
Jun 9, 1937
Meigs County, District Three
"I'se bawned Charl'stun, West Virginia in February 1850."
"My mammy's name? Hur name wuz Kath'run Paine an' she wuz bawned down
Jackson County, Virginia. My pappy wuz John James, a coopah an' he wuz
bawned at Rock Creek, West Virginia. He cum'd ovah heah with Lightburn's
Retreat. Dey all crossed de ribah at Buffington Island. Yes, I had two
bruthahs and three sistahs. Deir wuz Jim, Thomas, he refugeed from
Charl'stun to Pum'roy and it tuk him fo' months, den de wuz sistah Adah,
Carrie an' Ella. When I rite young I wurked as hous' maid fo' numbah
quality white folks an' latah on I wuz nurs' fo' de chilluns in sum
homes, heah abouts."
"Oh, de slaves quartahs, dey wuz undah de sam' ruf with Marse Hunt's big
hous' but in de back. When I'se littl' I sleeped in a trun'l bed. My
mammy wuz mighty 'ticlar an' clean, why she made us chilluns wash ouah
feets ebry night fo' we git into de bed."
"When Marse Hunt muved up to Charl'stun, my mammy and pappy liv' in log
"My gran' mammy, duz I 'member hur? Honey chile, I shure duz. She wuz my
pappy's mammy. She wuz one hun'erd and fo' yeahs ol' when she die rite
in hur cheer. Dat mawhin' she eat a big hearty brekfast. One day I
'member she sezs to Marse Hunt, 'I hopes you buys hun'erds an' hun'erds
ob slaves an' neber sells a one. Hur name wuz Erslie Kizar Chartarn."
"Marse an' missus, mighty kind to us slaves. I lurned to sew, piece
quilts, clean de brass an' irons an' dog irons. Most time I set with de
ol' ladies, an' light deir pipes, an' tote 'em watah, in gourds. I us'
tu gether de turkey eggs an' guinea eggs an' sell 'em. I gits ten cents
duzen fo' de eggs. Marse and Missus wuz English an' de count money like
dis--fo' pence, ha' penny. Whut I do with my money? Chile I saved it to
buy myself a nankeen dress."
"Yes mam we always had plenty to eat. What'd I like bes' to eat,
waffl's, honey and stuffed sausage, but I spise possum and coon. Marse
Hunt had great big meat hous' chuck full all kinds of meats. Say, do you
all know Marse used to keep stuffed sausage in his smoke hous' fo' yeahs
an' it wuz shure powahful good when it wuz cooked. Ouah kitchin wuz big
an' had great big fiah place whur we'd bake ouah bread in de ashes. We
baked ouah corn pone an' biskets in a big spidah. I still have dat
spidah an' uses it."
"By the way you knows Squire Gellison wuz sum fishahman an' shure to
goodness ketched lots ob fish. Why he'd ketch so many, he'd clean 'em,
cut 'em up, put 'em in half barrels an' pass 'em 'round to de people on
"Most de slaves on Marse Hunt's place had dir own garden patches.
Sumtimes dey'd have to hoe the gardens by moonlight. Dey sell deir
vegetables to Marse Hunt."
"In de summah de women weah dresses and apruns made ob linen an' men
weah pants and shurts ob linen. Linsey-woolsey and jean wuz woven on de
place fo' wintah clothes. We had better clothes to weah on Sunday and we
weahed shoes on Sunday. The' shoes and hoots wuz made on de plantashun."
"My mastah wuz Marse Harley Hunt an' his wife wuz Miss Maria Sanders
Hunt. Marse and Miss Hunt didn't hab no chilluns of der own but a nephew
Marse Oscar Martin and niece Miss Mary Hunt frum Missouri lived with
'em. Dey's all kind to us slaves. De Hous' wuz great big white frame
with picket fence all 'round de lot. When we lived Charl'stun Marse Hunt
wuz a magistrate. Miss Hunt's muthah and two aunts lived with 'em."
"No mam, we didn't hab no ovahseeah. Marse Hunt had no use fo'
ovahseeahs, fact is he 'spise 'em. De oldah men guided de young ones in
deir labors. The poor white neighbahs wurn't 'lowed to live very close
to de plantashun as Marse Hunt wanted de culured slave chilluns to be
raised in propah mannah."
"I duzn't know how many acres in de plantashun. Deir wuz only 'bout
three or fo' cabins on de place. Wurk started 'bout seben clock 'cept
harvest time when ebrybudy wuz up early. De slaves didn't wurk so hard
nor bery late at night. Slaves wuz punished by sendin' 'em off to bed
"When I'se livin' at Red House I seed slaves auctioned off. Ol' Marse
Veneable sold ten or lebin slaves, women and chilluns, to niggah tradahs
way down farthah south. I well 'members day Aunt Millie an' Uncl' Edmund
wuz sold--dir son Harrison wuz bought by Marse Hunt. 'Twuz shure sad an'
folks cried when Aunt Millie and Uncl' Edmund wuz tuk away. Harrison
neber see his mammy an' pappy agin. Slaves wuz hired out by de yeah fo'
nine hundred dollahs."
"Marse Hunt had schools fo' de slaves chilluns. I went to school on
Lincoln Hill, too."
"Culured preachahs use to cum to plantashun an' dey would read de Bible
to us. I 'member one special passage preachahs read an' I neber
understood it 'til I cross de riber at Buffinton Island. It wuz, 'But
they shall sit every man under his own vine and under his fig tree; and
none shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of Hosts hath
spoken it." Micah 4:4. Den I knows it is de fulfillment ob dat promis;
'I would soon be undah my own vine an' fig tree' and hab no feah of
bein' sold down de riber to a mean Marse. I recalls der wuz Thorton
Powell, Ben Sales and Charley Releford among de preachahs. De church wuz
quite aways frum de hous'. When der'd be baptizins de sistahs and
brethruns would sing 'Freely, freely will you go with me, down to the
riber'. 'Freely, freely quench your thirst Zion's sons and daughtahs'."
"How wells I 'member when I wuz converted. I'd thought 'bout 'ligion a
lot but neber wunce wuz I muved to repent. One day I went out to cut sum
wood an' begin thinkin' agin and all wunce I feeled so relieved an' good
an' run home to tell granny an' de uthahs dat I'd cum out at last."
"No, we didn't wurk on Saturday aftahnoons. Christmas wuz big time at
Marse Hunts hous'. Preparations wuz made fo' it two weeks fo' day cum.
Der wuz corn sings an' big dances, 'ceptin' at 'ligious homes. Der wuz
no weddins' at Marse Hunts, cause dey had no chilluns an' de niece and
nephew went back to own homes to git married."
"We played sich games as marbles; yarn ball; hop, skip, an' jump; mumble
peg an' pee wee. Wunce I's asked to speak down to white chilluns school
an' dis is what I speak:
'The cherries are ripe,
The cherries are ripe,
Oh give the baby one,
The baby is too little to chew,
The robin I see up in the tree,
Eating his fill and shaking his bill,
And down his throat they run.'
'Tobacco is an Indian weed,
And from the devil doth proceed
It robs the pocket and burns the clothes
And makes a chimney of the nose.'
"When de slaves gits sick, deir mammies luked af'er em but de Marse
gived de rem'dies. Yes, dere wuz dif'runt kinds, salts, pills, Castah
orl, herb teas, garlic, 'fedia, sulphah, whiskey, dog wood bark,
sahsaparilla an' apple root. Sometimes charms wuz used.
"I 'member very well de day de Yankees cum. De slaves all cum a runnin'
an' yellin': "Yankees is cumin', Yankee soljers is comin', hurrah". Bout
two or three clock, we herd bugles blowing' an' guns on Taylah Ridge.
Kids wuz playin' an' all 'cited. Sumone sed: "Kathrun, sumthin' awful
gwine happen", an' sumone else sez; "De' is de Yankees". De Yankee mens
camp on ouah farm an' buyed ouah buttah, milk an' eggs. Marse Hunt, whut
you all call 'bilionist [HW: abolitionist] an' he wuz skeered of suthern
soljers an' went out to de woods an' laid behind a log fo' seben weeks
and seben days, den he 'cided to go back home. He sez he had a dream an'
prayed, "I had bettah agone, but I prayed. No use let des debils take
you, let God take you." We tote food an' papahs to Marse while he wuz a
"One ob my prized possessions is Abraham Lincoln's pictures an' I'se
gwine to gib it to a culured young man whose done bin so kind to me,
when I'se gone. Dat's Bookah T. Washington's picture ovah thar."
"I'se married heah in Middeport by Preachah Bill, 1873. My husban' wuz
Charles Stewart, son of Johnny Stewart. Deir wuz hous' full my own
folks, mammy, pappy, sistahs, bruthas, an' sum white folks who cumed in
to hep dress me up fo' de weddin'. We kep de weddin' a secrut an' my
aunt butted hur horns right off tryin' to fin' out when it wuz. My
husban' had to leave right away to go to his job on de boat. We had
great big dinnah, two big cakes an' ice cream fo' desurt. We had fo'teen
chilluns with only two livin'. I has five gran' sons an' two great gran'
"Goodbye--cum back agin."
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