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Academic Affairs Library, UNC-CH
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
(title page) Recollections of Slavery Times
Chas. W. Burbank & Co.
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Library of Congress Subject Headings, 21st edition, 1998
LC Subject Headings:
WHOSE EYES WERE NOT PERMITTED TO SEE THE
EMANCIPATION OF HER RACE, BUT WHO DIED A
SLAVE AND NOW LIES BURIED IN AN UNMARKED
AND NEGLECTED GRAVE ON THE OLD PLANTATION
IN THE SUNNY SOUTH, NEAR
WHERE SHE SPENT HER LIFE IN
UNPAID TOIL FOR OTHERS,
THIS LITTLE BOOK IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED.
In presenting these pages to the public, but little explanation need be made, for they contain only the story of a slave, told as nearly as possible in his own words. One-third of a century has passed since slavery ceased forever in our land, and to the generation that has grown up in that time, it hardly seems possible that such an institution as slavery could have existed in this free land; but he who in these pages tells his simple story was only one of three millions of human beings who were bought and sold, kept in subjection and forced to labor without pay in order that their more fortunate white brethren and sisters might live in ease and luxury, and though he only saw slavery in its mildest form no one can read his story without a feeling of indignation that slavery should ever have been tolerated much less sanctioned by law.
I WAS born in the town of Chowan on the Chowan River, in the northeastern part of North Carolina, only a short distance south of the Virginia line. My mother, whose name was Millie, was a slave formerly owned by one Peter Parker; and as children born in slavery followed the condition of their mother, I was of course claimed as Peter Parker's property, and have always gone by the name of Allen Parker.
My father's name was Jeff, and being owned by one William Ellick, he went by the name of Jeff Ellick, but as he had the misfortune to have been born without ears, he was often called "no-eared Jeff." He did not live with my mother, as his master's plantation was some ten miles from the Parker plantation, but he generally came home Saturday nights and now and then would come to us in the night during the week, as a slave did not mind a walk of ten miles after his day's work if he could have a chance to see his loved ones.
I do not know exactly when I was born, for slaves keep no family records, and if any records of the ages of the slaves was kept by the Parker family I never knew of it. I suppose however that I must have been born sometime between 1835 and 1840. I do not remember my old master as his death occured when I was only a few months old. While he lived my mother was what was known as
a field hand. About two weeks after my birth, my mistress gave birth to a little girl whom she named Annie, and I have been told that my mistress often nursed me at her breast, in order that my mother might not be kept from her work in the field. When Mr. Parker died both my mother and myself became the property of the daughter Annie, in accordance with his last will and testement. In his will my master provided that none of the slaves left by him should be sold but might be hired out, that is let to some person by the year.
Annie and her property were under the guardianship of Mr Parker's brother who was named James Skinner.
It was customary in those days for those having slaves to let, to take them to some prominent place, such as a point where two roads crossed, on the first day of the New Year, and at a given hour of the day the slaves would be put up at auction, and let to the highest bidders
for one year; there was generally quite a gathering on these occasions, both of slaves and of white people. It was always understood that a person hiring a slave must furnish board and clothes in addition to paying a certain sum of money per year, and also agreeing not to misuse the slave in any way that would injure his or her value. It was also understood that if a slave was not treated properly the person owning or having charge of the slave could take it away, in which case the money paid for the slave's hire for the year would be forfeited.
In acordance with this custom my mother was let out to a poor white, that is a farmer who did not own any slaves, and I being only a baby, went with her, and it was upon this farm which was near the Parker Plantation that my first experience of slave life began.
The country around Chowan was not very thickly settled, the land being
devided up into farms or plantations, upon which was raised wheat, indian corn, rye, oats, peanuts, sweet-potatoes and sometimes rice. Vegatables enough for home use were also raised. Most of the farmers owned hogs which were allowed to run wild in the woods where they fed upon acorns, nuts and roots. There were also horses, mules and some horned cattle all of which received full as good care as the slaves did.
The farm work was done by slaves, women working in the field as well as the men. Boys and girls were required to work as soon as they were able to do anything.
The slaves lived in log cabins. Single slaves who did not belong to slave families, lived in common with others and were fed from the main kitchen. Those who had families generally lived in small one-story log cabins. The walls of these cabins were made of rough logs, the spaces between the logs being filled
with clay; the roof was made of thin strips of wood split from clear, straight grained logs; these strips extended from the eaves to the ridge pole, and were laid over each other in such a manner as to make a fairly tight roof. If the roof did leak a little there was no danger of spoiling any nice furniture for the very good reason the slaves did not have any.
The fireplace was made of logs and was large enough to take in a log five or six feet long. On the fireplace was built a wooden chimney, made of sticks piled up cob-house fashion, and extending out through the roof some two or three feet. The sides of the chimney tapered inward as they went up, so that the hole was somewhat smaller at the top than at the bottom. When the woodwork of the fireplace was done, and the chimney built up as high as needed, the whole affair was plastered outside and in with wet clay, which finished the fireplace and chimney. The heat of the fire soon hardened
the clay and a chimney of this kind would last a long time.
This kind of masonry not only has the advantage of being cheap but it could be repaired without difficulty at any time, as the material cost nothing and was always at hand.
The door of the cabin was made of rough boards nailed together and was hung on heavy iron hinges like a barn-door. As the slaves had little to loose, the door are seldom fastened on the the inside, but was kept shut by a latch that could be raised from the outside by means of a string; if those inside happened to want to fasten it they pull in the latch string. The windows had only wooden shutters which could be closed when desired, but this would of course leave the cabin in darkness.
When a fire was needed a few bricks, or stones were placed on the hearth to take the place of firedogs, on these was placed a huge back log, in
front of which was built a fire of small wood. At this fire all the family cooking was done.
The cooking utensils were few and all of the simplist kind. A long handled shallow iron skillet with long legs did duty as a spider in which to fry our salt pork, bacon and other meat, whenever we could get it. It was also sometimes used to bake "hoe cake" in. These hoe cakes, which formed a large part of the slave's bill of fare, were made of Indian meal, and water with a little salt and sometimes a quantity of pork fat was added. When the skillet was not at hand or was wanted for some other purpose, a "nigger hoe" that is a hoe used by the slave in the field, was placed handle down upon the floor, so that the under side of the hoe would be next to the fire. The angle that the iron part of the hoe made with the handle was such that when the handle was placed upon the floor the iron part would slant
back from the fire, thereby making a resting place for the cake. When one side of the cake was baked the other side was turned to the fire. From this style of cooking, the cake came to be called "hoe cake."
The common allowance of a slave was four quarts of Indian meal and five pounds of salt pork, Sometimes one quart of molasses, per week, and all the sweet potatoes that they wanted. Whatever else they had, had to be earned by over work, or by selling a part of their allowance, or as it often happened by selling such supplies as could be stolen from the fields or storehouses upon the plantations. There could always be found a market among the poor whites, for whatever a slave had to sell, though the price paid was often very low, for the slave was in a measure at the mercy of the buyer. Generally the buyer knew or had reasons to suspect that the goods were stolen, and he also knew it was against
the law for him to buy goods of a slave without knowing that everything was all right. But he knew that the slave could not complain of him without getting into trouble himself, and feeling safe along that line he had only to suggest to the slave that he thought it would be well to consult the master in relation to the trade, this was of course the last thing the slave wanted to have done; for if his master found that he was selling stolen goods, a severe punishment was sure to follow, that is if the goods were stolen from the master's plantation, and of course the slave knew best as to the proper owner of the goods.
Men and women who were not married lived in the common quarters as I have said, but the men and women lived in separate cabins. On some plantations each slave had to do his or her own cooking, but on the others there was a cookhouse called the kitchen where not only the food for the master's family was cooked,
but also the food of such slaves as did not live in families.
The kitchen was generally under the control of female slaves who did the cooking with the help of one or two more slaves and perhaps a boy to run errands. The woman in charge would most likely be called Aunt Dina, or Aunt somebody else, and was quite a personage upon the plantation, as she not only did the cooking but also looked out for the laundry work, and had the general charge of such of the slave children as did not live with their mothers, in separate cabins.
These children did not have any regular allowances but went to the kitchen for their meals.
The food being most commonly thick sour milk and hoe cake.
The milk would be poured into a trough something like a pig's trough. Then each child would be given a piece of hoe cake and an iron spoon and allowed to go to the trough and eat as much as they wanted.
Meat was sometimes given them, but not very often, and then it was only what would be called waste in most families. Good masters sometimes gave the children meat, generally pork, three times in a week.
Fat pork was thought to improve the looks of the children, by giving the skin an oily look.
Sometimes when the master had company, he would have the children all sent up to the mansion house so that he might show them off.
When this was to be done he would send word to Aunt Dina to have the children washed and put into clean shirts. When this was done Aunt Dina would take each child separately and grease its mouth so that the child would look as if they had been eating meat.
When they were all fixed according to Aunt Dina's idea of smartness they would be sent to the house, and told to stand in a row before the master, who
would point to them with about the same kind of pride that he would have in showing a flock of good sheep, or a lot of good hogs.
As to clothing a slave's outfit was far from being expensive. Until I was quite a large boy say 10 or 12 years old my only garment was a long shirt, made of heavy cotton cloth and reaching from my neck to just below my knees, no hat upon my head or shoes upon my feet. After I was thought to be old enough to take part in the field work, I had a regular allowance of clothing in common with the other slaves. This allowance consisted of two shirts, two pairs of pants, two pair of shoes, one straw hat and two blankets per year. The shirts and pants being made of cotton ducking. This allowance would be considered rather small for a society young man in the North at the present time. The outfit of the women, like that of the men, was very simple and inexpensive, consisting
of two sheets, two blankets, two dresses, two pairs of shoes and now and then a cheap hat. It must not be understood however that slaves did not sometimes have other clothes, for the love of dress was just as strong with them as with those more fortunate with funds. They would often spend for dress the money they earned by overwork, and sometimes favorite slaves would have clothes given to them. In one way or another most of the slaves managed to have at least one suit that was a little better than the clothes that they wore every day, and some of them could dress very well when they went to meeting, or to the gatherings upon the plantations.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
During the evenings in the Fall of the year until about Christmas the women would be required to spin cotton yarn, which one of the hands would weave into a course kind of cloth, which was
made into shirts, pants, dresses and so forth for the slaves.
When the slaves wanted to comb their hair they did not always go to wash as a fashionable young lady of today does, but would get a card such as some farmers use in carding cattle, and would card their hair with it.
It should be remembered that the negro does not have long hair like white people, but short curly hair commonly called wool.
IN the locality where I lived there was no attention paid to the ceremony of marriage by the slaves. In fact on many plantations many of the slaves were not married at all but herded together very much like cattle, living in common quarters. On other plantations, slaves were allowed to marry, though it often happened that the husband lived on one plantation and the wife and her children upon another, but even in this case there was seldom any marriage ceremony performed.
If a young slave took a fancy to marry a slave girl, he first obtained the consent of the girl herself, which, if he was good looking and belonged to a good family, was easily obtained, but if he
was a "no-account nigger" owned by a failed planter or let out to a poor white the case was different. After obtaining the girl's consent he would go to his master or mistress, and ask for permission to marry, and if he stood well with them he had no difficulty in getting their consent. He would get permission to go to the plantation where his girl lived to obtain the consent of her master. When he arrived at the plantation where his girl lived, he would go directly to the owner, or master as he was called, and with whom be was most likely acquainted, and who had perhaps been informed by the young slave's master of the intended visit and its object; when a conversation something like the following would take place:
"Hello Sam! Is that you?"
"Yes Massa, its me."
"How is your Master and Mistress and the little folks?"
"Dey is all well Massa, cept Mistress hab got a sore foot."
"Is that so Sam, how did it happen?"
"D'no, spects she hurt it in de garden."
"Well Sam, when you go home give her my compliments, and tell her that I hope she will not be laid up long, but by the way Sam, what message did your Master send by you?"
"Did'nt send no message, sar, I comed myself."
"What! You don't mean to say that you have run away Sam?"
"No sar, Massa told me as how I might come and see Massa Jones."
"Well Sam, what is it, does your Master intend to hire you out next year and you want me to hire you?"
"No sar, Massa John don't let his niggers, he wants me hisself. But I comed to see you Massa cause I think that you yellar gal Sue is a right smart, good gal."
"That so, Sam?"
"And I thought that perhaps, maybe, that seeing as you and Massa John was good friends, and being as I want no bad nigger at all, that maybe, possibly, you might consider to consent that me and she might be married."
At this stage of the proceedings the "man" would look the "property" over as carefully as a farmer would a horse or a cow he intended to purchase, knowing as he did so, that, if the marriage was a desirable one, it would be for his interest to give his consent, for would not all the children that might be born to the couple be his own property, and could he not thus increase the value of his personal estate?
"Got any bad habits, Sam?"
"Ever been whipped, Sam?"
"Let me look at you, Sam?"
Then Sam would be carefully looked over to see if he had any defects that would be objectional if transmitted to his offspring, then more questions would be asked.
"Well Sam, I like your looks, and I will think it over. You come and see me next week and I will tell you."
"Can I see Sue, Massa?"
"Yes Sam, you can see her when she comes from the field."
After spending some hours with his sweetheart, Sam would go home and at the end of the week would again get permission to go to the Jones Plantation, and upon arriving there he would as before, go at once to the master.
"Hello! Sam, you here again, what do you want this time?"
"Well Massa Jones, I comed to see as to what you thought about me and Sue getting married."
"Get out you nigger."
"But Massa told Sam to come,"
"How's that Sam?"
"Massa Jones told Sam to come in one week, and den Massa Jones tell Sam as how he can marry Sue or not."
"O yes, I remember now, well Sam I have talked it over with Sue's Mistress and we have concluded to let you marry Sue, and I will have a cabin built down by the quarters and Sue can live there."
Sam would go again and find Sue and they would spend the evening together and from that time would be considered as man and wife. But each would continue a slave and must do his or her master's bidding no matter how much it might conflict with their own ideas of right and wrong.
In due time the cabin would be built and would be considered as the home of Sue, and also of Sam, whenever he could get permission of his master to leave the plantation or whenever he could manage to steal away without leave.
It should be remembered that no slave was allowed to be off the plantation after sunset, without a written pass from either his master or mistress.
In order to prevent the slaves from strolling about men were employed at public expense to patrol the roads and were instructed to whip every nigger found at large without a written pass.
A whipping of this kind meant thirty-nine lashes on the bare back.
These men were called by the slaves "Pattie Rollers." (Patrolmen) and were of course hated as they deserved to be.
They were generally poor whites who did the work partly for the money they could get out of the business, and partly on account of the excitment there was in it.
They would go two, or three together mounted on horse-back, and generally accompanied by one or more dogs. They were also armed with guns, and carried great whips, made of raw-hide or leather.
If they found a slave in the road they would at once demand his pass which he was obliged to show when he would be allowed to go on, but if he did not have one he would do his best to keep out of the way of the "Pattie Rollers," so that if they caught him at all it would be after quite a chase. If the slave was a good runner he would make straight for the home plantation. He would of course know the advantage, for being on foot he could take to the woods, which he was sure to do if hard pressed. Once in the woods he might be obliged to hide unless the "Pattie Rollers" had dogs with them, but even in that case he might manage to give them the slip, for if he came to a stream of water he would wade or swim across it, or he might walk in it for a little way, in either case the dogs would lose the scent when they got to the water, and unless they could see or hear him could not follow. In this way he often managed to evade his persuers.
As soon as he found that he was not followed, he would go his way, or he might hide a while till he thought all danger was passed and then either go home, or continue on his way. In any case if he managed to get on to his master's plantation before he was caught, the "Pattie Rollers" were obliged to let him go.
If they caught him before he reached the home plantation, he would be tied to the nearest tree, what few clothes he had on would be taken off, and he would be given thirty-nine lashes on his bare back.
In spite of the danger of being caught the slaves were often out nights without passes.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The slave's love for his family was as strong as that of his white master for his, and he would be found in his wife's cabin as often as possible.
Of course all the children born in the slave's cabin were slaves like their father and mother. But there was this difference between the children of the master and the slave.
The white child inherited his father's name and property, but the child of the slave mother was by law considered the property of the mother's master even if the father was a free negro, or as it too often happened a free white man.
The slave children were called by the name of the master, and the father had but very little control over them while they were small and none at all when they were large enough to be of any use on the plantation.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
On every plantation was a place where the slaves were buried when they died. For the slaves were very apt to die, as the master generally took more care of his cattle than of his slaves.
When a slave died, the body was placed in a rough box, carried to the grave and buried with less form as far as the master was concerned than would be given the burial of a pet dog.
There was not often any funeral service at all. Sometimes in the case of the death of a favorite the master's family would show some interest, but generally no more notice was taken of a slave's death then would be given to a valuable horse or cow. The master feeling that he had lost so much property that was more or less valuable.
WHEN I was a small child I lived with my mother, in different places. I remember that when I was about five years old we lived with a man by the name of Small, a name that fitted him very well for he was a very hard, mean man.
At this time I had a little sister and my mother would leave us in the cabin during the day, telling me to take care of sister.
She would get up at about six o'clock in the morning, get breakfast for the entire family, she being the only slave that the man Small hired.
After breakfast she would put the house in order and do all the chores and would then work in the field till about eleven o'clock, when she would return
and get dinner. If she happened to be at work near the cabin she would run in during the forenoon and feed the baby.
After dinner was over and the house again in order she would return to the field and work till about four o'clock. She would then return, get supper and do the chores for the night. Everything that she cooked was first weighed or measured out to her and she was expected to make it go just so far. No matter how hungry we children were, we could not have anything to eat till the white folks had got all they wanted, and then we could have what was left, and if there was not enough left we had to wait till mother cooked some more.
One day late in the fall Small got angry with mother and knocked her down, then getting over her he pounded her in the face with his fists, after which he left her on the cabin floor and went out. I was standing by my sister's cradle and saw it all but of course could not do
anything to help my mother. When she got up her face was covered with blood. As soon as she was able she ran away to the woods, leaving us children in the cabin, and we did not see her again for several weeks.
When my old mistress heard of the trouble, which she did in a very short time, she sent and got us, and although it was known where my mother was, she was not required to return till Christmas time[.] Small not only lost her labor during this time but was obliged to pay for her just the same as if she had been at work for him.
When the new year came round my mother was let out again to another man, but I stayed on the plantation with my sister. The next year my sister and I went with mother. We had a good place and stayed there three years.
The following year I was let out alone for my board and clothes, that is two shirts and two blankets. There was
no one in the family but the man and his wife. I had to pick up wood for the fire, do errands and help around the house what I could. Sometimes I had plenty to eat and sometimes almost nothing. I stayed there however until the latter part of the year, when one day the man and his wife went away on a visit leaving me locked up in the house with nothing to eat. How long they intended to stay I do not know, but it happened that my father had got leave to visit my mother, and on his way came to see me. When he found out how I was situated, he got into the house and took me out. Then taking me upon his back he carried me to my old mistress, who kept me with her until my mother was let the next year.
The next year I went with my mother to live with a man by the name of George Williams, who proved to be a very good master.
Williams had about five acres of land and kept a small store, he also had
a horse and cow, but had no slave except my mother. There I had a very good time though I had to do some work. There were several children on the place and a part of my work was to help take care of them.
My mother did the cooking, milked the cows and did the work on the farm.
When the white children went to school I used to carry their dinners to them at noon. I would get there before school was out sometimes and would hear them singing their geography lessons, and it was not long before I knew some of these lessons by heart, but of course a slave child was not supposed to need any education.
While we lived with Mr. Williams I had many good times playing with the other children for whatever the grown white people might think about the colored people, the little children did not know any difference when they were allowed to play with the slave children[.]
I do not remember any game we played that was different from those I have seen the children in the north with the exception of a play we used to have with a little brown bug which we called a "Doodle Bug"
This bug as I remember it was about three quarters of an inch long, and spent most of its time so far as we know at the bottom of a hole in the ground, about half an inch in diameter and about two inches deep. When we wanted to play with the bug we would hunt around till we found what we called a Doodle Bug hole[.] Then one of us would get down on all fours and put his mouth near the hole and begin calling "Doodle, Doodle, Doodle," after a while the bug would come out and play on the ground around the top of the hole. It would also allow itself to be taken into the hand, when we could play with it as long as we wished.
The children believed that they
must always call it Doodle or Mr. Doodle and that if they called it anything else it would not come out of its hole or allow itself to be handled. Be that as it was we used to get a great deal of amusement out of the Doodle Bug.
Sometimes we would catch two or three and put them together, and then watch them play.
On Sundays I used to drive the family to church. Now it happened that Mr. Williams had only one vehicle, and consequently that one had to do duty on any and all occasions. This vehicle was a two wheeled horse cart. The body was made of boards with stakes at the sides, and to these were fastened rails which ran all round the cart about three feet above the bottom. As we stood up in the cart the rails were very handy to take hold of.
Perhaps on Saturday I would use the cart to carry out manure in, and on Sunday I would brush it out and wash it a
little if it happened to be very dirty indeed.
Sunday after Sunday we all went to church in this cart, which was drawn by the single horse owned by Mr. Williams.
In those times father often visited us, and did what he could to make us all happy. Though of course we saw much less of him than most children see of their father.
At the end of our stay with Mr. Williams, I was separated from my mother, as it was considered that I was then able to earn my own way living and a little more.
So on the first of the following year I was let to a man by the name of Jacob Parker. I remained with him for two years, he paid five dollars the first and ten dollars for the second year, for my services in addition to my clothes. Up to this time the only garment had been the long shirt already spoken of, but this year I had a full regular outfit
consisting, as I have said, of two shirts two pair of pants, two jackets, two pairs of shoes, and two blankets.
At night I spread one of my blankets upon the floor over a board about eighteen inches wide and six feet long and laid dawn upon it covering myself with the other blanket using my coat for a pillow. In the morning I got up, picked up my blanket, put it one side and was ready for my day's work.
Mr. Parker was a common poor white who owned or hired no slaves. I being the only colored person on the place, but I got along pretty well with him, and did what I could to help.
The next two years I spent on the farm of John Cofell, another poor white[.]
He had no slaves himself but his wife by some means became possessed of a single female slave, who with myself made up the list of servants. The women did the cooking, and helped in the field; my work was all out of doors.
Cofell was a hard man to work for and I was glad when I got through with him.
As I was now getting to be a good sized boy, I began to take an interest in the things that interested the slaves in general and to take part in joys and sorrows of slave life.
Although the slave's life was very far from being pleasant it was not without its pleasures and enjoyments, for our masters were willing we should enjoy ourselves after they had got all the work they thought they could out of us.
One of the diversions we had was coon hunting.
The coon is an animal a little larger than a large house cat, His fur is gray mixed with bluish white and brown. His full name is raccoon, but as the colored
people of the south were pretty well acquainted with him they generally called him "Coon."
He lives on a mixed diet of meat, fish, vegitables, and fruit, seeming to be equally fond of each.
In the fall of the year he is often found in the corn fields, where he feeds upon ripening corn, and like the squirrel not only eats it on the spot, but carries it away to his hole, which is generally in a hollow tree quite a distance from the cornfield.
This hole is the home of Mr. and Mrs. Coon and two or three little coons and they may be found there in the day-time provided you know where the hole is. In the night-time both Mr. and Mrs. Coon and the little Coons, if they are big enough take long walks for their health, and it is then that they visit the cornfields and other places where they expect to find something to eat, as they only go out on dark nights, and they must keep a supply
of food in the hole, consequently they carry home a great deal of food. It was not claimed that the coons did a great amount of damage in the cornfields.
Sometimes Mr. Coon goes fishing and he generally is able to get a dinner of fish without much difficulty. If he finds that fish are scarce, he will turn his attention to his friends the frogs, of whom he is as fond as Frenchmen.
When he gets tired of fish and frogs he eats birds, and eggs, when he can get them, and he does not hesitate to visit hen coops if they are near.
Now it happens that the colored people are fonder of him than he is of them, so they go out in the night to see him, and to catch him if they can.
Two or three men or boys generally go together on a coon hunt, taking with them one or more dogs who are trained for this purpose, and are known as coon dogs.
The hunters started at about nine
o'clock in the evening, taking with them a number of pieces of fat pine. What is called fat pine comes from those parts of the hard pine tree that contain the greater amount of pitch. The pine is cut into pieces about eighteen inches long and then split so as to be conveintly handled and is used for a torch. When the hunt was ready to start they go to the door of the cabin and call the dogs they happen to have. These dogs are sent out ahead and seem to know exactly what is expected of them.
After waiting about twenty or thirty minutes the hunters start out themselves and as they generally know about what course to take to follow after the dogs, listening for their cry. As soon as the dogs got upon the track of the coon they set up a peculiar cry well known to the hunters, who then follow on as fast as they can. Not only is the cry of the dogs heard by the hunter but also by the coon, who immediately begins to take
care of himself, which he does by running in the opposite direction from which the sound comes to him. As long as the dogs are at a distance he takes things easy, but as they come nearer he finds that it will not only take all his speed, but a large amount of cunning to keep clear of the dogs. Up to this time he has been running along on the ground; now he will jump into a tree and running along from branch to branch, and tree to tree, he will continue his course for some time without coming down to the ground. Suddenly he stops and jumps so as to strike the ground, not in the direction he has been running but as far as possible to one side, and in this way often reach a place of safety before the dogs again get upon his trail. Should he fail however he will soon try the same trick again, and if a stream of water be at hand he will try and get to the other side, and perhaps he may run in the water a little way and then turn aside for a new trail;
but if the dogs are well trained they are very apt to keep pretty near him, and at last he takes to a tree as a last resort, well knowing that the dogs cannot climb. Up he goes to a limb near the top of the tree. The dogs gather around the foot of the tree and set up another sort of a cry, which is also well understood by the hunters who come on as fast as possible.
When they get to the tree they find the dogs, but where is the coon. After looking into the tree for a few moments, one of the number volunteers to go up and find the coon. The rest stand holding the torches. After some hard climbing, the man in the tree gets where he can see the light shining in the coon's eyes, when he immediately calls out, "Here he is, I see him," and as well as he can points out the location of the coon to those below. Pretty soon he reaches the end of the limb upon which the coon is seated, but the coon is too far out on the limb to be reached. But
the man wants the coon just as much as the coon wants to keep out of the way of the man. So a sort of race begins; the man going as far out on the limb as he can with safety, and the coon going out as far as the small limb would hold him. Then comes the end. The man braces himself and sees that he has a safe hold, and then begins to shake the limb. Now, although the the coon is almost as much at home on a tree as a monkey or a squirrel, he cannot hold to a very small limb a great while. He will then go back a little way toward the man as if to frighten him, but finding that it is of no use, goes back again and looks around. The shaking of the limb is continued, and finding that he cannot go down by the way he came up, he jumps to the ground, not straight down, but out at an angle from the trunk of the tree, so as to strike the ground at quite a distance from the foot of the tree. If he has a good hold he
will be able to accomplish this; if not, he may lose his hold and fall directly to the ground. In either case he will find that the dogs are on the lookout for him, and he must indeed be a wise coon if he succeeds in getting away. As soon as the dogs come up to him a fight ensues, in which the dogs always are the victors. In a few minutes the coon is dead, and the sport is over for the night.
The game is carried home dressed, the skin being carefully saved and dried in the sun, while the coon himself furnishes a good meal or two to his captors and their friends.
There is another animal known as the opossum, called by the colored people 'possum. This animal is also used as food, and is hunted in about the same manner as the coon. The opossum has a long tail without any hair on it, but nevertheless, it is a very useful member. It is used as a sort of extra hand, the animal having full control of it, and
when pushed will use it to hang by from a branch of a tree.
The coon and opossum are very apt to fight each other, and it is not uncommon to see an opossum on a tree fighting a large coon.
The female has a pocket as pouch below her breast in which she covers her young when they are small. If an opossum is being chased and finds that he cannot got away, he will pretend to be dead, and no amount of poking or pounding will make him show any signs of life, but just as soon as he finds his enemy out of the way he will look around and if he finds that the course is clear he immediately becomes very much alive, and takes himself out of harm's way as soon as possible, and being a good runner it does not take him long to get to a safe place.
Where the colored people used to catch an opossum, one of them would pick him up and put his tail into the
cleft of a split stick, and putting the stick on the shoulder went carrying him home in the same manner as a bundle would be carried. When the opossum is killed his skin is not taken off, but he is put into a kettle of hot water and scalded till the hair comes off, as do the butchers of the hog, where he is treated in like manner, The opossum is generally cooked by being roasted in his skin, and when served with roasted sweet potatoes makes a fine dish that is much admired by the colored people.
The slaves believed that the wild game was intended for them, for while the master was enjoying his roast beef or lamb, he did not think that his slaves needed anything of the sort, but he had no objection to the slaves' having anything they could get to eat, provided they got it without any expense to their master.
Black bears were to be found in the woods, and though bear meat was
considered good eating, the slaves gave the bears a very wide berth, for in order to hunt him a gun was needed, and the slaves were not allowed to have any such weapons.
Once in a while wild turkeys would be caught in the woods. Panthers, wild cats, and foxes were somewhat common, but these were not meddled with by the slaves. There were several kinds of poisonous snakes in the woods and swamps, but it was not often that the slaves were bitten by them.
The slaves were unlearned, for in slavery times it was considered a crime to teach a slave to read, and it was not very often that a colored person could be found who could either read or write. But what they lacked in book knowledge was sometimes made up to them in traditions. These traditions were many of them curious and unreasonable, but, nevertheless, were believed implicitly by the colored people, and often-times the white people were more or less believers in the traditions and superstitions of the colored people.
It was very common for the white people to have their children cared for by colored women, whom the children used to call mammie, and not infrequently
would these women remain in the family year after year, caring for the children of one generation till they grew up, and their places filled by the children of the second, and sometimes of the third, generation. As these women had most of the care of the children from their earliest days, a very strong love always existed between the children and the colored mammies; and it is not strange that the children were more or less affected by the oft-repeated stories told them by these mammas, sometimes to amuse them and at other times to frighten them into good behavior.
As all the slaves believed in ghosts, the children, both black and white, were often told that unless they would be good, such and such a ghost would come and get them. One very tangible ghost was the Bogey man, who was supposed to have especial care of naughty children. Nearly all the children had a very fine belief in them until they were
grown up men and women. Sometimes their faith was strengthened by the sight of a frightful figure dressed in white, with an ugly looking face, which cut up strange capers, but it nevertheless took good care to keep out of harm's way, and also not to be seen at very near distance, so as to be recognized as one of the family slaves or field hands.
Another tradition was that concerning the owl, who the slaves considered their especial friend and protector. Now, the the colored man had some peculiar habits which would hardly be tolerated in good society. Not feeling that they were getting all that belonged to them, or, at least, all they wanted, they sometimes stole corn, wheat, peas, pork, mutton, or anything else they could eat, or that had a market value. What they wanted to eat was cooked in the cabin on the sly or in the night. Sometimes they were caught cooking the stolen food, which, of course, was different from their
regular allowance. Then they were questioned as to where they got it, and if they could manage to make the master believe that it did not come from his plantation, nothing was said; but those guilty were punished the next day. So the slaves soon became aware that the crime was not in the stealing, but in stealing from their own masters, and getting caught at it.
But when a slave had anything to sell, he had to be doubly careful. The very fact that he offered anything for sale was considered evidence that it was stolen. It was unlawful for a white man to buy anything of a slave unless he could give a good account of the source from which he got it; and as the masters themselves generally bought what the slaves had a right to sell, that is, whatever they raised by working over-time in their little yards, or, perhaps a hog or two and a few chickens they were allowed to keep, there was no occasion
for the slave to offer anything for sale anywhere else. But, for all this the slaves did have things to sell, and they well knew where to sell them. There was always some poor white who would either buy the goods or sell them for the benefit of the slaves--for a consideration. As this man generally lived at some distance from this plantation, the stolen goods would have to be taken to him secretly, and in the night, for the night was the slaves' holiday.
The slave would eat his supper and take a nap. He would keep very quiet until he thought that the "pattie rollers" (patrolman)had gone home, when he would quietly go to the place where he had hid his stores. Taking them in a bag, which he would throw over his shoulders, he would start for the house of the poor white.
And now the owl plays his part. As he sees or hears the man he is of course disturbed, and makes much noise; but
the slave believes that if he calls from the right side it is an omen of good luck, and understands the owl to say, "Hoo, hoo, hoo," and goes about his business without fear of being caught. But should the owl say, "Hoo, hoo, hoo, ha, ha," he believes that there is danger near, and hides himself at once, and will keep hid as long as the owl calls in that way. When it changes its tune to "Hoo, hoo, hoo," the slave moves on, believing that the changed calls of the owl were intended for his benefit.
The slaves not only believed that the owl was their friend, and that his language was intended entirely for them, but also believed that this language was not understood by the white folks. For example, suppose a master having no overseers should send a number of slaves into the field to hoe corn, they might work well for a time, but as the day grew warm they would get tired, and perhaps stop to rest in the woods that
skirted the cornfield. The owl who might happen to be near, having become accustomed to their presence, would pay no attention to them, but if a white man entered the woods he would be likely to make a different noise from that of the slaves, and the owl would at once become aware that something had happened a little different from what had been going on, and would begin to cry, "Hoo, hoo hoo," and the slaves would at once take this as a warning that somebody was near, and go to work again. If the owl cried "Hoo, hoo, hoo, ha, ha, ha," they would know that somebody was very near, and would work with all their might, until very likely their master would come in sight, and seeing them doing their best, would have no fault to find. Consequently the slave believed that he did not know that the owl had told them of his coming.
The slaves, like some other laborers, would work only when obliged to, and
when the horn blew for dinner or supper, they were always ready to leave their work. The mules that were used to plow and cultivate, and other kinds of farm work soon learned to know the sound of the horn as well as the slaves, and would want to stop when they heard it; so that if the master came into the field and asked the slaves why they did not finish a certain piece of work before they went to dinner, or why they had left the plow in the middle of the furrow instead of going to the end, the slaves would reply that the mule heard the dinner horn and would not work any more until he had had his dinner.
There was always a kind of strife between master and slave, the master on the one hand trying to get all the work he possibly could out of the slaves at the least possible expense, and the slaves on their part trying to get out of all the work they could, and to take
every possible advantage of their master, naturally feeling that all they could get out of him was but a poor sustenence for the work they did. And whenever anything in nature, such as the cry of an owl, a cloud over the moon, a rainy night, the barking of a dog, or any other circumstance seemed to aid them in carrying out their plans, they thought that it was intended especially for their benefit.
BEING out of doors a great deal of the time, and having no books, they learned many things from the book of Nature, which were unknown to white people, notwithstanding their knowledge of books. And it often happened that the master would be guided by the slave as to the proper time to plant his corn, sow his grain, or harvest his crops, and many things of this kind, which were to the master a source of care and anxiety, seemed to come to the slave as it were by instinct and not often did they made mistake in their prophecies.
Christmas was the greatest holiday time that the slaves had; for coming as it did at a season when there was not as much to do as at other seasons, they
were allowed some time to enjoy themselves[.] On many plantations the slaves were allowed to have a full week to themselves. The holiday season began with Christmas eve, when the slaves generally had some sort of a meeting. Some of the people, especially the young factor, would have a dance in one of the cabins of the plantation.
One of the slaves would plan for a dance several weeks before the time and word would be sent, not only to the hands on the plantation, but also to the other plantations near by, and when the time came, quite a number would gather at the appointed time, which would be about eight o'clock as told by the eveniug star, for the slaves had no watches or clocks, and consequently were obliged to depend upon the sun, moon, and stars and other things in nature to tell the time, except of course, that the hours of labor and meal times were regulated by the watch or clock of the master.
Sometimes there would be a supper at the gathering, in which case it would be eaten in the first part of the evening. This supper would consist of hominy, hoe cakes, sweet potatoes, bacon, lamb coon or 'possum, or any other kind of meat that could be obtained. Sometimes the meat would be given by the masters who might add also flour and molasses.
Sometimes the small twigs and young needles of the hard pine tree were used for tea. Coffee was made of corn or wheat burnt and pounded in a mortar if one was to be had, otherwise the corn would be put in a cloth and pounded with an axe or iron wedge[.] We also had apple juice (cider brand), old rye whiskey, sometimes called "old red eye," and peach brandy. These liquors were allowed by the master if the slaves could buy them themselves from the money they earned by over work. Nearly every plantation had its own still, so that these liquors were both common and cheap.
After supper the room was cleared and made ready for the dance. If some slave could be found who had an old fiddle and could play it at all, he was called on to furnish music; if not, some one would take an old tin pan and use it like a tambourine. Two or three others "pat Jubo," that is, would keep time by patting their knees with their hands, and to this primitive music the dance would go on hour after hour till nearly, if not quite, broad daylight. This would, however, be more or less singing of words that were often made on the spot.
"I love my darlin', dat I do;
Don't you love Miss Susy, too?"
These words would be sung over and over ago.
"Sally's in de garden siftin' sand,
And all she want is a honey man.
De reason why I wouldn't marry,
Because she was my cousin
O, row de boat ashore, hey, hey,
Sally's in de garden siftin' sand."
Some slaves were good dancers, especially the young girls, some of whom could dance so steadily that if a glass of water were placed on their heads none of the water would be spilt. I have often seen a girl dance for ten minutes with a glass cup filled with water on her head without any of it being spilt.
If the next day was Sunday or was a holiday, the dance would contiuue all night. The young men would dance all night till broad daylight, and then go home with the girls in the morning.
In some other cabin, perhaps on the same plantation, while the young people were dancing, the old ones would be holding a prayer "meetin'", notice having been sent out as in the case of the dance. As none of the slaves could read, there were no books at these meetings. When the folks got together some one would begin with a prayer, or
perhaps with a hymn, in which he or she would be followed by all in the room, unless it happened that they did not know the piece, which was perhaps being made up as the singer went along.
Of course there were no musical conductors, but the slaves in part made up for this lack by keeping time with their feet and hands. These meetings would sometimes last all night, and the slaves, ignorant as they were, always enjoyed them.
The following hymn was one of the most popular, and was sure to be sung at these meetings:
"Roll Jordan roll, roll Jordan roll,
I want to be in de kingdom,
To heah ole Jordan roll.
You see dat falcon a-lighting,
You see dat falcon a-lighting,
To heah ole Jordan roll.
You see ole Massa Jesus a-coming,
You see ole Massa Jesus a-coming,
You see ole Massa Jesus a-coming,
To heah ole Jordan roll.
Roll Jordon roll, roll Jordan roll,
I want to go to Heaven when I die.
To heah ole Jordan roll."
As I have said before, slaves were very musical in their way, which, if not up to the modern ideas of music, was such that they derived very much enjoyment from it. At nearly all times one would hear the slaves singing snatches of old plantation songs, which for want of space I cannot print, but the following is a part of one of the best known songs:
"When I was a little pickanninny, playin' around de cabin door,
I was de happiest little darkey in de land,
Now I'm getting ole and feeble and my hair is turnin' gray,
And I am goin' back to Georgia, if I can.
Good ole Georgie, happy land!
Gwine to live and die in good ole Georgie land."
THE following year after I left Cofell I went to work for Darias White who was a step son of my old master, and I continued to work for him three years. His business was to get out oak and hard pine lumber most of which was used in ship-building.
All the time I worked for White I drove team, and had charge of the mules and one horse. The horse was kept by my master for his own use. The mules were used entirely for teaming. Besides these he had a large number of oxen that were used for hawling the great logs out of the woods.
These logs were of the largest kind and were often one hundred feet or more in length. The but end of the log was
fastened to the axletree of an enormous pair of wheels, from the axletree projected a long tongue, to which was attached a single yoke of oxen. In front of this yoke of oxen there was sometimes as many as fifteen yoke of oxen one ahead of the other and all fastened by a chain to the end of the tongue. A team of this kind required about eight drivers. Each driver was seated on the yoke of one pair of oxen, and would drive that yoke and the yoke in front.
Instead of a whip such as is used in the north, the drivers would have a long slender birch rod, which when green would be almost as durable as a raw-hide.
The small end of the log was also hung between a large pair of wheels. To the tongue of which was fastened a rope from twelve to fifteen feet long with a a knot in the end. The end of this rope was given into the hands of a strong active negro, whose business it was to steer the logs. When everything was
ready the word to start would be given and away the logs went, the oxen pulling with all their might and the log drivers shouting at the top of their voices.
The man with the guiding ropes of the rear wheels sometimes on the logs sometimes on the ground at one side, and sometimes at the other side working with all his strength to keep the log in its place, and so the procession proceeded from the woods to the river bank, where the log would be left till enough were got together to ship to market.
Very often I had to drive oxen myself, though my business generally was to drive the mules, drawing grain and fodder for the oxen. Sometimes the mules would be hitched in front of the ox team. I liked this sort of work very well as it was not often hard, and there was a good deal of excitement about it.
Mr. White was a good master and took good care of his slaves, and was
never known to whip one. He generally had about forty hands in all. Often at the end of the year a slave who had done well, would receive a present of five or ten dollars from him.
He liked to see his slaves look well and they soon learned to keep clean and to look as respectable as possible.
Their clothes were of heavy white cotton cloth, which would be carefully washed each week, so that as they went to the woods on Monday morning, they would present quite a smart appearance.
Had all masters been like Darias White there would been far less trouble with the slaves, as under such masters they were generally happy and contented.
Many of the slaves camped in the woods through the entire lumber season.
A camp would be made of logs, bark and pieces of board, which would enclose the camp on three sides, on the fourth a large fire would be built at night, at
which we did our cooking. Every evening after supper had been disposed of the slaves would spend the time till bed time in singing and telling stories.
After I got through with Mr. White I went to live with Elisha Buck with whom I lived one year. Buck was a mean poor white who had a large farm, and owned some slaves, and I made the eighth hand on the farm. He did not treat us at all well, and it was not often that we had all we wanted to eat. One day while I lived on his place I went in company with another slave into the woods and caught a pig, which we knocked in the head with a large pine knot, which we called a lighted knot, but it so happened that the owner of the pig was in the woods, and hearing the pig squeel came to see what the matter was We did not get away before he saw us so he went directly to Buck and told him that two of his niggers had been stealing a pig. We were immediatly called out
of the field by Buck, and he told the owner of the pig that he could give us a whipping, but that he could not strike us on the back, so we got about thirty-nine lashes each, and then were let go.
It did not do much good to either of us for on the following Sunday I went into the woods again and got another pig which I dressed in the night.
As I did not have every atvantage of a first-class slaughter house I was obliged to manage as best I could. Accordingly I built a fire and gave the pig a good singeing and while he was warm from the effects of the fire. I put him into water, and then scraped him with a case-knife and finally got him clean.
When he was properly dressed I carried him on my shoulder about three miles, and turned him over to a "poor white" who took him to a neighboring town the next day, and sold him for me. I got back to quarters before the hands were
called in the morning so that no one knew where I had been.
In due time the "poor white" gave me my share of the money he got for the pig. With this money I bought some cloth, which a white woman made into a coat and a pair of pants for me.
A few days afterwards I wore my new clothes to a "big meeting," that is a meeting in the woods something like a camp meeting. Put the fact that they were paid for with stolen goods did not trouble me at all.
The negroes at the south seemed to think that everything that they could get hold of belonged to them.
In New England this code of morals would appear rather out of place. But if you consider that a strong able bodied slave was required to work a full year for his board and clothes. And not only this, but that he was expected to cook his own food after doing his day's work, and it will be remembered that the entire cost o
food furnished him was in most cases less than thirty dollars per year, and that the entire outfit in the shape of clothes cost less than twelve dollars per year, making a grand total of less than forty two dollars per year or three dollars and fifty cents per month. The slave could hardly be expected to feel the same regards for his master's rights as he would have done had he been a free man, properly treated and justly paid.
While I was living with this man my mother's health began to fail, and I frequently went to see her. As her friends gathered around her she would tell them that while she did not expect to live to see it she hoped that the time would soon come when all the slaves would be free.
The war of the rebellion had at this time been in progress some months, and although our masters tried to keep all matters relating to the war from their slaves, the slaves managed to get hold
of a good deal of news, and the idea was fast gaining ground, that in some way they were soon to be free. As the time went on my mother became weak and I obtained leave to be with her nights, and my father got leave to be with her three nights in a week and all day Sunday. At this time he lived about eight miles from my mother's cabin, and of course had to walk both ways every time he came to see her. Both my father and I were with mother when she died which took place about nine o'clock one August night.
She was buried in the same manner that most of the slaves were. A negro carpenter made a rough pine box, without lining, trimming, or paint. Her only shrowd was a white night-dress, yet the tender hands of her loved ones smoothed this out as carefully as if it had been of the finest satin. A few of the nearest friends and neighbors gathered round the
rough coffin to take a last look at the dear face, then the cover was nailed on, the coffin placed in a cart and carried to a little sandy knoll, and beneath the shade of a few stunted pines a shallow grave was dug, in which without ceremony the coffin was placed and the sandy earth heaped above it. Not a prayer was said nor a hymn sung for the white folks seemed to feel that the sooner the matter was over the more time the slaves would have for work, and the slaves --well they were not supposed to feel at all, they were only cattle. Nevertheless the form that now lies in that unmarked grave, far in the sunny south, was that of my mother, and my mother was just as dear to me, kind reader, as your mother is to you; and though she died a slave, and lies buried where I may never visit her grave, I hope by the grace of Him who died that that we might live, to meet her in that land where all shall be free, and
where there shall be no night nor any sorrow, and where there shall be none to oppress.
A short time after my mother died, I got tired of living with Burk and ran away to the woods. I would stay in the woods in the day time, and in the night I would go to the house of a poor white woman who had been a friend to my mother. After I had stayed away about a week I got tired of that sort of life and went back to Mr. Buck. When I got back Buck called two of his slaves, who helped him to tie me, and then he gave me a whipping on the legs with a cowhide. I did not run away again, and for a time he treated me better than he had done before.
As the years of my service drew to a close he grew more close, but at times was unkind to me. He did not try to
injure me again till the end of my service, not daring to touch me any more, while my term of service lasted. On the last day he came to me and said he was going to whip me. I said he should not and started to run. He ran after me, but did not catch me until I got on the old Parker Plantation. I then raised my hand and told him that he could not touch me[.] He went to my mistress and told her that he wanted to whip me, but she informed him that as I had got through my term of service, he had nothing more to do with me, and so the matter ended.
My mistress, however, called me to her and told me to look out for myself for Mr. Buck, she said, would be likely to injure me if he got a chance when I was off that plantation.
The following January I was let to a man of the name of John Littlefield. He was a poor white who had two women slaves and a slave of his own. He was a
small farmer. I stayed with him some months, and being near the old plantation I saw my owners quite often. One day Miss Annie said to me, "Allen, if the war continues shall you run away or will you stay with me?" I told her that I did not want to leave her and would not run off to the Yankees, I was on good terms with Miss Annie for there was only a few days difference in our ages, I being the older, and we were both still young and did not feel the difference in our stations, it was true that she owned me but as she had up to this time had no care of her own property, she did not seem to relize that I was her slave. And as I had slways been well treeted by all the Parker family I had no feelings for any of them except love and respect. The plantation had always been my home when I was not out at work, either alone or with my mother so, that I felt as if in a measure I was one of the family[.]
However in common with all the
Negroes I had inbribed very strong yearning for freedom and was hoping that in some way my freedom would come to me. But up to the time of my mother's death I had no idea of running away to stay[.] But while I was with Littlefield we kept hearing more and more about the "Yankees" and the more we heard, the more uneasy we became. Many of the slaves from the plantation had been sent to Richmond for fear they would run away, but none of the Parker slaves had been sent off, nor had any of them ran away.
But as the summer months passed, those of us that were left on the plantation, felt more and more restless, for added to our increasing desire for liberty we could not help feeling the xtra restraint that was put upon all the slaves in the vicinity to prevent them from running away.
The roads were patrolled and every effort was made to keep the slaves on the plantations at night, and it was very
hard to get a pass to leave home at all; but nevertheless we did manage to get away quite often and many conferences were hold, in which the doings of the "Yankees" were talked over, and ideas in relacion to freedom exchanged by the slaves.
During the month of August[,] 1862 slaves living on the adjoining plantation together with myself began to form plans of in some way getting to the "yankees"[.] We used to get together when we could and talk our plans over, but for a time did nothing else. But finally finding that lots of the slaves from the neighboring plantation were running away we concluded that we would take our chance, as soon as we could get any.
One day we heard a gun fire about four o'clock in the morning and upon gathering in the morning to see what the matter was we saw a United States gunboat out in the river. As this was by no means the first we had seen of Uncle
Sam's vessels we were not at all surprised and in fact for some days we had agreed that the next time a vessel came up the river we would try and get on board her. That night after it was quiet, my three friends, whose names were Joe, Arden and Dick all slaves of one Robert Felton came to see me. We talked the matter over and concluded to start that night. We waited till everything was quiet for as it happened there were no "pattie rollers" out that night; and then stole our way down to the river bank, where we knew there was a boat. We found the boat all right but it was fastened to a tree with a chain the ends being locked together. I told the other three men to get some sticks and march up and down the beach like soldiers while I took another stick with which I managed to pull out the staple that held the chain to the boat thereby leaving chain and lock fast to the tree where it may be yet for ought I know to the contrary. There
were some paddles in the boat, and we were not long in making use of them. Pushing out from the shore we bid goodbye to the old plantations and slave life forever. As we neared the boat we were hailed with, "Who are you?" We replied, "Friends," and received the reply, "Advance, friends, and come alongside." As we got alongside of the gunboat we were hailed again with, "Who are you?" and "where did you come from?" My friends said that they were from Rob. Felton's plantation, and I told them that I belonged to Miss Annie Parker. They then inquired if our owners were Union people or not, and we replied that they were not. The officer who had hailed us then reported what we said to the captain, but before he went away we told him that all wanted to go on board the vessel and stay. We asked him if he could not take us on board to let us know at once, so that we could got back home before morning. When the officer
came back he said he had orders from the captain to let us come aboard. We immediately accepted the invitation, and being very tired, were soon fast asleep on the deck of the vessel. In the morning we were told that we could stay on the boat. Accordingly, we let our boat drift, which, by the way, was only a cypress dug out, being made of a single log.
When it was light we found that we had been missed at home, for soon there was quite a number of men, armed with guns and accompanied by dogs, collected on the shore, but there was a wide step of water between us, and we did not feel very much alarmed. The captain watched them for a while, then ordered a gun loaded with a shell to be fired in that direction. The shell burst in the air, but our friends did not stay to see another fired. They seemed to remember very suddenly that they had something to do at home; at any rate, in a
very short time not a man or dog was to be seen.
The next night some of the sailors taking Joe as a pilot, went to the Felton plantation and got quite a lot of chickens, ducks and geese. A few nights afterward they went to the plantation again, and finding that Mr. Fulton was at home, they surrounded the house and took him prisoner He was carried on board the vessel and kept there until she went to New Berne. The morning after he was taken prisoner his wife and two little children went to the vessel and asked to see him, which was permitted. But it chanced that before Mrs. Felton saw her husband she sighted Joe, to whom she used some very hard language, to say the least. Among other things she told him that if the south were successful they would kill all the negroes that ran away. Joe quietly informed her that as the south would not win, he thought he was safe enough.
It happened that Joe was a son of Mr. Felton, and his mother was one of Col. Felton's slaves. But the tables had turned; Joe remained on the vessel a free man, and Felton was a prisoner of war. A few months afterward Joe was accidentally drowned.
In a few days I embarked in the United Suites Navy and was placed on board a vessel that had been captured from the rebels. I served on this vessel, which was called "The Knockum," and was used as an ammunition boat, for one year when I got my discharge. I then went to Beaufort, where I worked in a saw mill for some months. After that I went to sea again as steward on a sailing vessel, owned in Portland Me. We loaded with timber for Brooklyn, N. Y., and after discharging our cargo, we sailed to Portland, at which place I left the vessel, and have never been South since.
After staying in Portland about a
week, I went directly to New Haven, Conn., where I had a cousin who had formerly been a slave in the Parker family, but had been purchased by an Alabama planter. When this planter died he left it in his will that my cousin should be free; he also left a sum of money with which she came north. I stayed with her for about a year, during which time I worked for a mason as hod carrier and general laborer. From New Haven I went to various places, staying but a short time in each[.] I finally drifted to Worcester, where I have lived most of the time for the last thirty years.
The following advertisements were taken word for word from different issues of a South Carolina newspaper:
At Probate Sale,
Joe, 50, competent butler.
Silvia, 35, excellent cook.
Charles, 21, Waiting man.
The above family is well worth the attention of those wishing trusty negroes. They are to be sold to a city owner. For further particulars apply as above at 24 BROAD STREET, Old State Bank.
EXECUTION OF WHITESIDES VS. WILLIAMS. will be sold on WEDNESDAY, 28TH OF MAY, 1860, at 11 o'clock, On the Mart in Chalmer Street, the following thirteen valuable slaves, viz.,
Terms: One-third cash; balance in one and two years, to be secured by bond, mortgage and two approved sureties. Purchasers to pay for papers.
Master in Equity.
Five Dollars will be paid for the apprehending of my negro man named Stephen, who, in looking out for a master from the 29th ultimo, has not returned to his duty, nor has he been heard of; is about 5 feet 8 inches high, stoutly built, well formed, speaks good English, and is inclined to be plausible; black complexion, small whiskers and a few white hairs in them. He is well-known about the city, has a free wife at Mr. Robert Anderson's market in King street. A reward of twenty dollars will be paid for proof to conviction that he is harbored by a white person or free person of any color.
A reward will also be paid for the apprehension of old limpy negro Fortune who for two months has been looking for a lost turkey. For further particulars
inquire at the corner of St. Philip and Six streets.
Novr. 8, 1831.