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

Precilla Gray

From: Tennessee

Precilla Gray
807 Ewing Ave.
Nashville, Tenn.

I think I'se 107 Y'ars ole. Wuz bawn in Williamson County 'fore de
Civil wah. Guess de reason I hab libed so long wuz cose I tuk good
keer ob mahself en wore warm clo'es en still do, w'ar mah yarn
pettycoats now. Hab had good health all mah life. Hab tuk very lettle
medicine en de wust sickness I eber had wuz small-pox. I'se bin a
widah 'bout 70 y'ars.

Mah mammy d'ed w'en I wuz young but mah daddy libed ter be 103 y'ars
ole. I nebber went ter schul a day in mah life, ma'ied 'fore freedum
en w'en I got free, had ter wuk all de time ter mek a libin' fer mah
two chillen. One libes in California en I lives wid de uther,
tergedder wid mah great, great, grandson, five y'ars ole, in

Mah fust marster en missis wuz Amos en Sophia Holland en he made a
will dat we slaves wuz all ter be kep' among de fam'ly en I wuz heired
fum one fam'ly ter 'nother. Wuz owned under de "will" by Haddas
Holland, Missis Mary Haddock en den Missis Synthia Ma'ied Sam Pointer
en I libed wid her 'til freedum wuz 'clared.

Mah fust mistress had three looms en we had ter mek clothes fer ev'ery
one on de plan'ashun. I wuz taught ter weav', card, spin en 'nit en
ter wuk in de fiel's. I wuz 'feared ob de terbacker wums at fust but
Aunt Frankie went 'long by me en showed me how ter pull de wum's head
off. Hab housed terbacker till 9 o'clock at nite. Our marster whupped
us w'en we needed hit. I got menny a whuppin'.

Marster Amos wuz a great hunter en had lots ob dogs en me en mah
cousin had de job ob cookin' dog food en feedin' de dogs. One day de
marster went huntin' en lef three dogs in de pen fer us ter feed. One
ob de dogs licked out ob de pan en we got a bunch ob switches en
started wearin' de dogs out. We thought de marster wuz miles 'way w'en
he walked up on us. He finished wearin' de bunch ob switches out on
us. Dat wuz a whuppin' I'll nebber fergit.

W'en I wuz heired ter Missis Synthis, I wuked in de fiel's 'til she
started ter raise chillens en den I wuz kep in de house ter see atter
dem. Missis had a lot ob cradles en dey kep two 'omen in dat room
takin' keer ob de babies en lettle chillens 'longin' ter dere slaves.
Soon as de chillens, wuz seven y'ars ole, dey started dem ter

Marster Sam Pointer, husband of Missis Synthis, wus a good man en he
wuz good ter us en he fed en clothed us good. We wore yarn hoods,
sha'ls, en pantletts which wuz 'nit things dat kum fum yo shoe tops
ter 'bove yo knees.

De marster wuz also a 'ligious man en he let us go ter chuch. He
willed land fer a culled chuch at Thompson Station. I 'longs ter de
foot washin' Baptist, called de Free Will Baptist. De marster bought
mah husband William Gray en I ma'ied 'im dere.

W'en de Civil wah wuz startin' dere wuz soldiers an tents eve'ywhar. I
had ter 'nit socks en he'ps mek soldiers coats en durin' de wah, de
marster sent 100 ob us down in Georgia ter keep de Yankees fum gittin'
us en we camped out durin' de whole three y'ars.

I member de Klu Klux. One nite a bunch ob us went out, dey got atter
us. We waded a big crik en hid in de bushes ter keep dem fum gittin'

Hab gon' ter lots ob camp-meetin's. Dey'd hab lots ob good things ter
eat en fed eberbody. Dey'd hab big baptizin's down at de Cumberland
Riber and menny things.

W'en freed, our white folks didn't gib us nuthin'. We got 'way en
hired out fer an'thin' we could git. Nebber knowed ob any plantashuns
[TR: illegible, possibly "men"] be divided. D'ant member 'bout slave
'risings en niggers voting en wuz not ole er'nuff ter member de
sta'rs fallin'. Songs we use'ter sing wuz, "On Jordan's Bank I Stand
en Cast a Wistful Eye en Lak Drops ob Sweat, Lak Blood Run Down, I
Shed mah Tears."

I try not ter think 'bout de ole times. Hit's bin so long ago so I
don' member any tales now.

I'se had a lot ob good times in mah day. Our white folks would let us
hab "bran dances" an we'd hab a big time. I has nebber voted en I
think dat ez a man's wuk. Don't b'leeve in signs, I hab allus tho't
whut ez gwine ter be will be, en de only way ter be ez de rite way.

Eber since slavery I'se cooked fer peeple. I cooked fer Mr. Lea Dillon
fifteen y'ars. Wuked at de Union Depot fer y'ars. Five y'ars fer Dr.
Douglas at his Infirmary en I cooked fer en raised Mrs Grady's baby.
Hab wuked fer diff'ent folks ovuh town ter mek mah livin'. I ain't bin
able ter wuk fer eight y'ars. Dunno how much I weigh now, I hab lost
so much. (she weighs now at least 250 pounds). All de ex-slaves I know
hab wuked at diff'ent jobs lak I has.

Next: Jenny Greer

Previous: Frankie Goole

Add to Informational Site Network