From: South Carolina
Spartanburg, Dist. 4:
Sept. 8, 1937
STORIES OF EX-SLAVES
"Miss Alice Cannon give me my age from de foundation of my mother. Dey
been bringing my things out to me--is dat what you'se doing, setting
down here by me? I was born on de first Christmas Day, I means de 25th
of December, 1855; in Newberry County on de Sam Cannon place. You had to
turn off de Ashford Ferry Road about seven and a half miles from de town
of Newberry. My mother was Frances Cannon of near Cannon Creek Church.
"I'll try to give you a straight definition. Old man Sim Gallman was my
old missus' brother; she was Miss Viny Cannon. My boss was overseer for
Mr. Geo. Gallman. We was on Mr. George's place. When Mr. Gallman started
overseeing, Mr. Sim Gallman come over dar for dem to take his place and
care for him.
"My boss, Sam Cannon, promised me a place. Miss Viny Cannon suckled me
and her son Henry at de same time, me on one knee and Henry on t'other.
Dey calls me 'Timber'. Miss Sallie said to us atter Freedom, 'You ain't
got no marsters'. I cried. My Ma let me stay wid Miss Sallie. Mr. Henry
Gallman promised to marry Miss Sally Cannon, my young missus; but he
went to de war and never come back home no mo'. Mr. Jeff Gallman went,
but he come back wid one arm. Mr. Tom Gallman went and married his first
cousin, Miss Addie Cannon; he never got to go to de war.
"My father was a full-blooded Indian from Virginia. He was a refugee.
But you know dat dey had a way of selling people back den. Somebody
caught him and sold him at one of dem sales. De man what bought him was
Mr. Jeff Buzzard. He went back to Virginia atter de surrender. I would
not go. He took another woman on de place, and my mother would not let
me go. De woman's name dat he took was Sara Danby. She had two brothers
and a sister--Samuel, Coffee, and Jenny.
"My mother was mixed Indian and African blood. My folks got 'stroyed up
in a storm. My grandfather was named Isaac Haltiwanger. My grandmother,
his wife, was named Annie. Dey had one child who was my mother; her name
Frances. My grandmother's name was Molly Stone.
"My parents, talking 'bout de Africans, how funny dey talked. Uncle
Sonny and uncle Edmund Ruff was two of de old 'uns. Old man Charles
Slibe was de preacher. He was a Methodist. My father was a Baptist. His
white folks, de Billy Caldwells, prepared de barn for him to preach to
dere slaves. In dat day, all de Africans was low chunky fellers and raal
black. Dey said dat in Africa, little chilluns run 'round de house and
de fattest one fall behind; den dey kill him and eat him. Dat's de worst
dat I ever heard, O Lawd!
"I hates dat Missus didn't whip me mo' and let me be teached to read and
write so dat I wouldn't be so ignant.
"For de neuralgia, take and tie two or three nutmegs around yo' neck.
Tie brass buttons around de neck to stop de nose a-bleeding."
Greeley's house has four rooms and it is in great need of repair. It is
badly kept and so are the other houses in "Fowler's Row". He lives with
his wife, Eula, but she was not home during the visit.
"My house 'longs to a widder woman. She white but I does not know her
name. Her collector is Mr. Wissnance (Whisenant). He got a office over
here on E. Main St., right up in de town. I rents by de month but I pays
by de week--a dollar. De house sho is gwine down. Rest of de houses on
de Row is repaired, but mine ain't yet; so she have Mr. Wissnance drap
off twenty-five cents, and now I is paying only seventy-five cents a
week. Me and Eula has to go amongst de white folks fer bread and other
little things. Ain't got no bread from 'Uncle Sam' since last August.
See my tater patch, wid knee-high vines.
"De case worker want to git my age and whar I's born. I told her jest
what I told you. She say she got to have proof; so I told her to write
Mr. Cannon Blease who was de sheriff. I means de High Sheriff, fer nigh
thirty years in Newberry. And does you know, she never even heard of Mr.
Cannon Blease. Never had no money but Mr. Blease knowed it, so he up and
sont my kerrect age anyway. It turn't out jest 'zactly like I told you
it was. What worried me de mostest, is dat she never knowed Mr. Cannon
Blease. Is you ever heard of sech a thing as a lady like dat not knowing
"Now Mr. Dr. Snyder is a man dat ain't setting here 'sleep. He's a
mill'onaire, kaise he run Wofford College and it must take a million
dollars to do dat, it sho must. My case worker knowed him.
"De case worker calls me 'Preacher', but I ain't got up to dat yet--I
ain't got dat fer. I been sold out twice in insurance. I give my last
grand-baby de name 'Roosevelt', and his daddy give him 'Henry'. His Ma
never give him none. Some folks loads down babies and kills dem wid
names, but his ma never wanted to do dat. So us jest calls him Henry
Roosevelt. Us does not drap none and us does not leave none out.
"Went to church one night and left my pocketbook in a box on my mantel.
Had $120.00 in it in paper, and $8 in silver. Some niggers dat had been
watching me broke down my do' dat I had locked. Dey took de $120 and
left de $8. Went home and I seed dat broke do'. I went straight to my
mantel and see'd what was done. Dey never bothered de books and papers
in dat box. Next morning, de nigger what lived next do' to me was gone.
I went to a old fortune teller, a man; he say I know dat you lost a lot.
De one I thought got de money, he said, was not de right one. He say dat
three hobos got it. One had red hair, one sandy hair and de other had
curly hair. He say somebody done cited dem and dey sho going to be
caught dis very day. He say dat dey come from Asheville. But he was
wrong, kaise dey ain't never caught no three hobos dat I ever learn't
"One day when I was plowing, I struck de plow 'ginst something. My plow
knocked off de handle. I heard money rattle. It ringed three times. I
couldn't see nothing, so I called my wife and son and dey looked, but we
never found but five cents. Never in my life did I hear of a bank in
slavery times. Everybody buried dere money and sometimes dey forgot
where dey put it. I thought dat I had run on some of dat money den, but
I never found none. Lots of money buried somewhars, and folks died and
never remembered whar it was.
"A nigger republican leader got kilt. I hel't de hosses fer de Ku klux.
Great God-a-mighty, Dave and Dick Gist and Mr Caldwell run de sto' at de
Rutherford place in dem times. Feeder of dem hosses was Edmund Chalmers.
Mr. Dick say, 'Hello, Edmund, how come dem mules so po' when you got
good corn everywhar--what, you stealing corn, too?' Mr. Oatzel say,
'Yes, I cotch him wid a basket on his shoulder.' 'Whar was you carrying
it?' Edmund say, 'To Mr. Caldwell'. Mr. Caldwell say he ain't see'd no
corn. Dey took Edmund to de jail. He had been taking corn and selling it
to de carpetbaggers, and dat corn was fer de Ku Klux hosses.
"Dere was a Mr. Brown, a white man, dat come up to live in Newberry. Dey
called him a refugee. Us called him Mr. 'Refugee Brown'. He was sorter
destituted and not a bit up-to-date. He settled near de Gibson place. I
fed de Gibson boys' fox-dogs about dat time fer dem.
"I want to git right wid you, now; so I can meet you lovely. In '73, I
thought someone was shaking my house; I come out doors wid my gun; see'd
white and colored coming together. Everybody was scared. All got to
hollering and some prayed. I thought dat de earth gwine to be shook to
pieces by morning. I thought of old Nora (Noah).
"Dem Bible folks see'd a little hand-span cloud. Nora had done built him
a house three stories high. Dat little cloud busted. Water riz in de
second story of de wicked king's palace. He sont fer de northern lady.
When she come a-shaking and a-twisting in de room de king fell back in
his chair. He say dat he give her anything she want, all she got to do
is ask fer it. She say to cut off John Wesley's head and bring it to
her. De king had done got so suluctious dat he done it. Dat king and all
of dem got drowned. Nora put a lot of things in de ark dat he could have
left out, sech as snakes and other varments; but de ark floated off
anyhow. No sir, dat wasn't de Clifton flood, dat was Nora's flood."
=Source:= Sim Greeley (82), 280 Fowler's Row, Spartanburg, S.C.
Interviewer: Caldwell Sims, Union, S.C. (8/27/37)
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