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HISTORY OF SLAVES

SLAVERY IN AREA FROM EARLY 1700s

By Roger W. Forsythe/Daily Journal Staff Writer

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Like pick locks of the past, a forgotten heritage scarcely conceived exists to this day in the spidery script of yellowing manuscripts and the crumbling bricks of modern reconstruction.

Such it is with the history of slavery in St. Francois County.

While extensive research has shown that at least 10 skirmishes and engagements took place within the county's boundary during the Civil War -- with the two biggest battles having been fought at Big River Mills, near Desloge -- scant evidence has been found on what has been described as "that peculiar institution"...until now.

The enslavement of Native American Indians and transplanted African-Americans was first introduced in this area in 1720, when both groups were forced to work in the nearby lead mines. In 1834, 12 years after St. Francois County's incorporation, Indian slavery was declared illegal.

According to figures released as part of the 1850 Census, the county at that time had a white population of 7,549 residents. Another 889 were slaves and 91 were slaves that had been freed. Ten years later, these same numbers had changed to 9,292 whites, 877 slaves, and 80 free slaves.

With the noted exception of St. Louis and Ste. Genevieve Counties, St. Francois had, in fact, more freed slaves than any other of Missouri's then-84 counties.

As is true with any historical research, a little detective work only leads to more questions and more avenues of pursuit. Jeannie Roberts of Farmington, for example, reported Tuesday afternoon that an underground tunnel is believed to have run from her home's foundation to the "Cayce House," located across the street at 503 West Columbia Street.

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"My son thinks he's found where the entrance was, but I've never seen it," she said. "We have a carriage house in back and, as far as I know, it was never used as slave quarters. It was built in the early 1860's."

According to information compiled as part of a self-guided walking tour published by the First State Bank and City of Farmington, the Cayce family "owned slaves who lived in quarters behind the house until the end of the Civil War." That site is believed to have since been rebuilt as a shed.

Records housed in the genealogy room at the Farmington Public Library also show that 19 markers have been indentified in the Old Cayce Cemetery, situated beside the "Cayce House" on adjoining property. The oldest record dates back to Pleasant Cayce, who was born in 1767 and died on Nov. 20, 1811.

Steve Grider, St. Francois County Recorder of Deeds
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For the past several years, members of the St. Francois County Historical Society have met each Tuesday morning at the county courthouse to preserve much information which would have been lost otherwise. And, of course, probate records, marriage licenses and even receipts for the sale of property have documented slavery's existence.

Despite all that has survived, an unknown wealth of information has either passed from memory or been tinged with the homespun thrill of legend.

For example, one resident has indicated that a six-foot-square monument is believed to have stood, and may still stand, just off the Old Fredericktown Road on what is now private property. This mass grave marker was built by early Spanish settlers making use of slave labor.."so the story goes."

That a number of homes throughout the county housed separate slave quarters or a cellar in which slaves may have been kept should come as no surprise -- especially when given an overall understanding of a period in which liberty could be bought and sold, for a price, on the auction block.

In her presentation early this month to the Southeast Missouri Civil War Round Table at Ironton, Suzanne Ninichuck cited the accounts of the Missouri General Assembly, Earl J. Nelson's 1932 thesis and Peter Parrish's research in laying the groundwork for how slavery came to exist in this part of the state.

Within a century after its introduction, slavery was sectional and divided into "task" and "gang" systems of management. State laws required slave owners provide shelter, food, clothing and medicine -- and outlined regulations to prevent mistreatment.

"It was an unusually secure environment," Ms. Ninichuck began. "They were given holidays off, passes, money, garden plots -- a lot of perks and incentives. It wasn't all in one direction. It was a two-way game, and it was very much a social thing.

"To be a decent family, you had to have a household slave. In Missouri, 'gang' slavery (in the fields) was not economically feasible. And the slaves heard a lot of horror stories about being sold 'down the river.' They feared that worse than whippings because they knew they didn't have it so hard up here."

Even so, slaves were -- to put it bluntly -- property. The Bill of Rights offered neither solace nor protection. While state and county laws dictated what they could and -- more often than not, couldn't -- do, these were invariably supplemented with the owner's law, which reigned supreme.

Slaves were often "hired out" when they were not needed at home or when the hemp growing season was over. Less than six generations ago, hemp (marijuana) was Missouri's number one cash crop, closely followed by tobacco and corn. Now illegal, this contraband was used for rope and bagging cotton until metal hoops were invented in 1858.

Some slaves were allowed to enter into employment contracts, earning enough money to buy themselves (and their families) out of bondage. Directly linked with the going market price for cotton, slave prices held steady between $500 and $1,000 up until 1864.

Because owners were held responsible for the actions of these hired-out "free slaves," they had to guarantee their mental stability, honesty and ability to live independently.

But even this action sparked racial turmoil. In the St. Francois County lead mines, the most dangerous jobs were doled out to white immigrant settlers because compensation would be due the owner should a "free slave" be injured or killed.

Of course, such disparity between races -- almost a form of reverse discrimination -- led to considerable dissension among the growing population of European immigrants, who viewed free blacks as an economic threat and the chief competition for low-paying jobs. Between 1825-60, one non-profit group went so far as to raise enough money to send 35 blacks back to Africa.

"Missouri was a difficult place for the Emancipation (Proclamation)," Ms. Ninichuck said. "Because Missouri and Kentucky held with the Union, the Emancipation was worded so that it would say 'or persons in rebellion.' But they were still selling slaves in St. Louis until the end of the war. It was just a propaganda ploy."

In 1847, just four years after free blacks were barred from moving into the State of Missouri, it became illegal to teach slaves how to read and write. By that time, however, some free blacks were already wealthy enough to purchase their own slaves and property. One enterprising minister established "The Freedom School" for blacks on a riverboat in the middle of the Mississippi River.

Ms. Ninichuck continued: "Another thing to remember is that everybody from all over the country was coming here. It was not Missouri fighting against itself. In 1840, only 44 percent of the population had been here for 10 years. And in 1850, 60 percent of the population were outsiders and 30 percent were local."

Statistics show that Missouri's 1850 population stood at 265,304 native Missourians, 249,223 western-bound Americans (primarily those from Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina), and 76,570 foreign immigrants (primarily Irish and German). Within 10 years, these numbers had shot up to 475,246 native Missourians, 431,294 migrating Americans, and 160,541 immigrants.

"Between 1850-60, the majority of Missourians were from Kentucky, and they brought their slaves with them when they moved. As the number of Kentuckians declined, so did the number of slaves. And at about the same time, the number of foreigners went up.

"A lot of these new immigrants were violently opposed to slavery because it reminded them of the aristocracy and the serfs they had left behind in Europe. Most all the slaves were along the Missouri River, with some down in the Bootheel. In fact, 86 percent of the state's entire population lived along the Mississippi River."

With Missouri's first, furtive steps on freedom's road, "co-habitating" free blacks were allowed to legally marry -- and their "reputed" children made legitimate -- after Feb. 15, 1865. Many took the surnames of their owners.

Finally, while it is believed to have been active in St. Francois County, Ms. Ninichuck stated that in all her research she has found "not a mention" of the Underground Railroad.

Published in THE DAILY JOURNAL, Park Hills, St. Francois Co. MO, Thurs. Sept. 15, 1994


The following slave narratives which relate to St. Francois County, Missouri, were found in the free data base at Ancestry.com .   In 1929, an effort began at Fisk University in Tennessee and Southern University in Louisiana to document the life stories of former slaves. Kentucky State College continued the work in 1934 and from 1936-1939, the Federal Writer's Project (a federal work project that was a part of The New Deal) launched a coordinated national effort to collect narratives from former slaves. This following interviews provide a poignant picture of what it was to live as a slave in the area of St. Francois County, Missouri.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bridges, Annie

"I's born on March 6,1855; on Wolf Crick, in St. Francois County. My muthuh, Clausa McFarland Bridges, was borned on Wolf Crick too, but mah fauthar, Jerry Bridges, kum from Californie. William McFerland was our boss, and he had a lotta' slaves. Us liv'd in a log cabin, wis two rooms. Yep, there was a floor an' wo had a bed, but hit hadn't no mattress; jue' roped an' cord'd. Holes was in de side ob de bed, soods de ropos cud go thru'. We all wore 'jeans' an' wsap'd an' ole' sack 'round our legs; most time we wont barofoot, We-all's used set-nip tea ta cure mos' ever'thing. Our bosa was purty good ta us, but we larned dat ole' M.P.Cayce, he was a slave-holder, wud beat 'Hunter' Cayce, an' ole' 'nigger' man, every Monday marnin' 'til his back bled. Den he tuk nalt an' put hit in de gashos. My bruddors war, Alvin, Jerry, Rubin, Louis, an' Nat. Ma sista' Mary, she went to Rolla an' married. Me an' ma bruvvor Jerry air de only ones a-livin'.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bridges, Annie

"I married Overdie Southerland wen I was 26 years ols'. Abe Koon married us, but we are not a-livin' togeth'r now. I never had no childr'n by him. Ma furst job was with Dr. Jim Braham fur one year, an' nine months. I got $2.50 a week. I did all de housework thar.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bridges, Annie

"After de war was over my muthuh went to Pilot Knob to wurk in a hotel. Me, an' my muthuh went hup on Pilot Knob berry huntin' one day, an' ws seen de leg ob a man an' his ankle-bone was stickin' in his shoe. Thar warn't any flesh on de leg. Hit was near de ole' Fort; (Fort Davidson)." (Note: This must have been a portion of a soldier, from the 'Battle of Pilot Knob!)

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bridges, Annie

"Ma muthuh tole' me dat dey used ta sell de little childr'n away fum de breast'a ob der muthuh's. Ma muthuh plow'd in de fiel' an' wud leave her baby layin' at one end os de fiel', while she plow'd slear ta de edder and an' kum back. She know'd a white man who had a child by one ob his slaves an' den sole de chil' as a slave.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bridges, Annie

Was'nt dat turrible, sellin' his own son?

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bridges, Annie

"De young folks calls us 'ole' fogies', but we knew how ta act, an' lott ob de young-un's don't know dat now. When I was growin' hup we had company an' would hav' ta wait 'til de ol' folks was thru' eatin' 'fore we cud eat. Sum' ob my muthuh's friens' kum one day with their 'redique'; (gags which held knitting and sewing, and were tied with a draw-string, at the top.) "They war eatin' an' I was sittin! on a ladder dat led hup to de attic. I come down de ladder and was sittin' near de bottom an' dese grown people's was eatin', den dey lean back ta rest a-while, den eat a little more, an' res' a-while. I had ta sit dare an' watch dem. After a-while I says: 'My time now'. Well, jus' for dat, my muthuh give me one ob de worse whippin's dat I ever had. Sometines I had ta stan' in de closet, or stan' on de floir an' hol' one foot, when I was punished.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bridges, Annie

"Ma muthuh's stepfarher was poisen'd in whiskey. His name was 'Charlie Gipson'. Onc't a man held hup a bottle an' said: 'I'm drinkin' de poisen off'. But he was puttin' de pois'n in. After dat, Charlie Gipson drank de whiskey out ob de bottle an' in nine months he was daid.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bridges, Annie

"Simon cud call de snakes an' day wud kum frum all directions. He wud tak' de skins ob dese snakes an' put dem on de roof ob de shed, an' den when dey was dry, he vud mak' powder out ob dem an' 'hoodoo' people.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bridges, Annie

"We all went tuh a pahty one time an' Scot Cole's sistah et a big apple thar. lfter a little while, she died. So's ma muthuh tole us to not eat anythin' dat people give you; hit might be poisen'd.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bridges, Annie

"I'se been tole dat if people dies satisfied, dey don' kum bak, but if dey don' dies satisfied, dey kum back. But I never seed nothin'.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bridges, Annie

(One of the religious songs used to be):

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bridges, Annie

"Jesus in his chariot rides

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bridges, Annie

He had three white horses side by side

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bridges, Annie

Whon Jesus reached the mountain top

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bridges, Annie

He spake one word, the chariot stop

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bridges, Annie

He's the lily of the valley, 'O my Lord."

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bridges, Annie

(Following, is a "Love Song" she sang; which-she learnod as a girl when attonding play-parties):

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bridges, Annie

"I'm wandering down to Graybrook Town,

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bridges, Annie

Where the drums and fifes are boating

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bridges, Annie

The Amoricans have gained the day


State: Missouri    Interviewee: Brooks, George Washington

George Washington Brooks, a Negro, who was born in slavery 83 years ago, and who died of infirmities Thursday, at the home of Mrs. Herman A. Jensen, 4130 Lafayette Avenue; great-granddaughter of his first owner, the late Capt. James Brooks, of Jefferson County, was buried yesterday at French Village, St. Francois County, where he was freed at the start of the Civil War.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Brooks, George Washington

When he was 7 years old Brooks was given as a wedding present to Mrs. Luella Brooks Au Buchon, of French Village. After she freed him he remained as a paid servant. He helped rear her six children and became known in the community as "the shepherd of the flock".

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Brooks, George Washington

On one occasion during the war, George Brooks, then 9 years old, rode a horse from French Village to Brooks Place, in Jefferson County, through woods in which guerillas were reported, with $1,000 in gold hidden in his boots. Later, when troops were approaching French Village, he buried family valuables in the orchard and helped Mrs. AuBuchon to conceal her personal jewelry in a ball of yarn. Soldiers ransacked the house and threw the ball of yarn across a room, cracking a mosaic pin, now an heirloom. George had been at the Jensen home four years.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Brooks, George Washington

Bruner, Richard Nelson, Missouri Saline County (Mrs. Eli Daniel Kansas City, Missouri July 14, 1937 Western Historical Manuscripts Collection University of Missouri Columbia, Missouri)


State: Missouri    Interviewee: Matthews, Hattie

"Ma mithuh was Louisiana Anthony an she married an liv'd in Libertyville, Missouri, in St. Francois County. She are dead now, but ud be bout 78 if she war livin'. She my born into slavery. Ma grandmuther was Harriet Smith, an she was born in 'bout 1820 an she war bout 40 years ole wen de War begun. She was a slabe near New Madrid, Missouri, an died wen she was bout 90 yars ole. Ma grandmuthuh had 14 childr'n an wen de war ended, her master, Shap Phillips, tak one ob her girls named Phebe an put her on a hoss an took her away with him an we neber heard from her agin. We think she was taken south ta work fur som'body. When la grandmuthuh got free she an my grandfather, who worked fur another master, brought a small farm near Knob Lick, in St. Francois County, Missouri. Dey bilt dem a house an bought only 20 acres at a time an finally had 120 acres.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Matthews, Hattie

"I used to lay wake nights a-lis'men ta stories dat muthuh an grandmuthuh ud tel about slabery ays. I know a lot ob stories but hab furgot many ob dem. My, how she cud tell bout dose times, an dey ware true too. Wen ma grandmuthuh got married dey jus jumped ober a broomstick an dey ware consider'd man an wife. Dis ware de custom den. De master ud hole de broomstick. I ask grandmuthuh wat she ud a-done had she fall'n ober de broomstick. She say, 'Well, I didn't fall, but jump'd clear ober hit.' I member dis cause hit seexed so funny. Brogan shoes war wore then. Dey war ob rough leather and de shoes had brass toes. All de clos was wove an de only fancy clos ma grandmuthuh had ware givin ta her by de Missus.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Matthews, Hattie

"Shap Phillips had a good many slabes an grandmuthuh was de cook. She was very strong an cook'd in kettles bigg'r dan dey habe now. Whenever a negro slabe had a baby she had ta work rite on. If she work'd in de fiel she ud take de baby long and lay hit down in de rail fence corn'r in de sun. De baby had or only a slip. De master ud ride his hoss in de fiel an had a horse whip dat was platted, an he ud cut de slabes with dis whip wen de slabes slack'd hup. If de babies caried de muthuh had ta get de master a permishun fore she cud pick up their baby.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Matthews, Hattie

"De scraps from de white folk's table war all thrown into a kettle. Ma muthuh ud stan clos by an she ud grab in de kettle with both hans an eat whateber she got. Den, after all de grown slabes did dis, dey wud call 'Pot liquor time' an de childr'n ud run to de lettle an drink wat was in de bott'm ob de kettle. Wis wus generally de juice or water frumgreens. Sometime de childr'n got a piece ob cornbread. Dis was all de childr'n got is dat an of course dey war always hengry.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Matthews, Hattie

"De master had a polly-parrot an dese parrots ud be plac'd ta hear an watch wat de slabes did. Dey war not always seen by de slbes an wen de master was away de parrots aud member wat had happ'n'd an report it. One of de slabes was bakin' bread an she tok a pan full ob biscuits an hid it under de cushion of de chair. De ole Missus come in an was sick an she started ta sit down in de chair. De parrot was sittin' up dar an say, Missi biss?? burn you! The Missus lifted up de cushion an foun de pan o bread. She was sick and couldn't whip de slabe so she was goin' to hebe de master do it wen he came in. De slabe was mad so she tok de parrot an wrung its neck and threw it out hind de house thinkin' she had kil'd de parrot.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Matthews, Hattie

'De Missus had to go out dare fur somethin' an de parrot say,' Poor polly, layin' in de sun." De master den really beat de slabe wen he came in. Ma grandmuthuh knew de lady dat dis happ'n'd to in New Madrid. Ma grandmuthuh got whipp'd only onc't an de master was sorry cause she fought back. She was strong an a good work'r. Ma grandmuthuh was up fur sale on de block once an dey offer'd several thousand dollars fur her but she was a good worker an she was not sold. Wen de rebel soldiers come de slabes ud hide but wen de union soldiers com de slabes ud run to dem.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Matthews, Hattie

"Wen de master had company he ud tak meat skins an grease de mouths ob all de slabe childr'n. Den wen de company cam de master ud call all de slabe children in an say, 'You little rascals have been eating.' He wanted to create de. impression dat he was feedin his slabes better dan de other masters round dare.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Matthews, Hattie

"Grandmuthuh said dey had lots ob hoodoo business. I ask her why dey didn't hoedoe de white folks ta get dem out ob de way. She said de negroes couldn't hoodoe de white peoples cause dey had strait hair. It was somethin' bout de oil in de hair. White folks habe ta wash dere hair ta get de oil out, but negroes habe ta put oil on heir hair.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Matthews, Hattie

But de slabes sure could hoodoo each other. Somebody who wanted ta hoodoo somebody else wud tak snakes an frogs an pulverize um an put de stuff in a bottle. Dey den dug a hole in de groun under de step anouried de bottle in de hole. When de person (for whom the hoodoo was intended) took a step ober dis spot dey wud habe pains in deir legs. Ma grandmuthuh cud see de an akes come up inside deir legs an dey had to cut a hole in deir legs ta let de snakes out. Sometimes dey ud get a person ta take de snkes an frogs from a person, and den de person who put de hoodoo under de step or proch ud lose deir charm and die. Ma grandmuther say she saw many a frog an snake come out ob a person's mouth. He slabes were turrible ta each other. All such as dis went on in de dose days. This here hoodoo business still goes on down in Mississippi. I'm shure glad I don't live down thar. Ma cousin got into an argument with a negro girl down thar an they coulden't settle hit. So she (my cousin) wrote to somebody who wrote back an tole ma cousin all bout this here other girl such as her amount of insurance, etc."


State: Missouri    Interviewee: Mcguire, John

Mcguire, John

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Mcguire, John

"I was born in Valle Mines in the northern part of St. Francois County. My mother's name was Sophie McGuire. She was a slave of Henry Bisch and my father was named Philiy McGuire and was owned by John McGuire. I lives here in Herculaneum and am 74 years old. My father worked in de mines and my mother worked in and around de house and cooked. She was more of a house girl. I had three brothers and seven sisters. All my sisters is dead 'cept two. One of dem lives in De Soto and de other in St. Louis. One of my brothers lives at Crystal City and one has worked for over 20 years for de St. Joe Company here at Herculaneum.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Mcguire, John

"I'se heard my mother and father talk about what a hard time dey had when dey was set free and went to housekeeping. First dey moved in a house dat was already built and den dey built a log cabin. My father dug de zine and lead ore to make a living at Valle Mines. He would get so much a ton and would sometimes make $2 a day and den sometimes he would not make anything. I lived at Valle Mines till I come of age and den moved to St. Louis where I worked for 30 years. I worked in a boiler room, in de steel works, and drove a team. I hauled sand, cinders, lumber, dirt, etc. I got about $1.50 a day when I worked in St. Louis. I was married for about 35 years and my wife is dead and didn't have any children. When I left St. Louis I worked in de mines at Fletcher and den came over here and have been 'sealaway gin' around since I been here.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Mcguire, John

"I 'membered how my mother used to tell about an old colored man who ground her scissors and he ground dem on both sides and dey would not cut anything. Dat sure made her mad. I used to have to turn de old grindstone for my father to get his ax sharp. He like to wore me out. I feel like I growed up with more freedom now since we has no slavery. I believe if de colored people had never been brought to dis country dey would be further developed dan dey is this way. Our people has been under bondags in dis country for over 200 years. Being in de bondage has been a great hardship on our race. Dis condition might have some effect today with some people. Dey might say, 'Well, dis fellow will never amount to nothin' 'cause his parents was slaves.'

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Mcguire, John

"I can read and write and went to school in Valle Kines at night and paid for it. It cost $1 a month and I went a part of two terms. I learned to read and write from my father. My father's master would not allow him to have any books, but de master's son would steal a book and when dey was in de mines working I had some free time. My father and de master's son would go off in one side of de mine and dere learn to read and write.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Mcguire, John

"In some ways I think de young generation is much better off dan I am or was. But, on de other hand, it seems to me like dey is more rude but as de younger ones grows up maybe dey will be better. De younger generation has a greater opportunity, but dey is behind in doing things against the law. You all knows such like as stealing, killin', robbing and swindling is going on now more dan when I was a boy. We have some mighty rude colored children. Dere is several reasons for dis rudeness. It's caused by letting children go as day wants to go. De perants gets so dey feels dat their child is too good to correct. Another reason is a whole lot de breeding of de children. I think dat since slavery de Negro would have been better off if he had been put on a reservation to hisself. It would have come more natural to civilize de Negro dat way dan de way it is now. Dere is a lot of white men get Negro women and a lot of white women get Negro men. Dat would never have happened if de races had. been separated. I'se been down in Southeast Missouri and de colored race is treated pretty bad down dere."


State: Missouri    Interviewee: Railway, Underground

Daniel Staten belonged to Judge John Coffman of Libertyville, St. Francois County.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Railway, Underground

Mrs. Harriet Casey belonged to John Warren Hill, Farmington.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Railway, Underground

Mrs. Alice Reed, 74 years old, belonged to a man named Merrell, here in Madison County.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Railway, Underground

"Aunt Hannah" Allen, wife of Parson, was born in 1830, hence is 107 years old. She belonged to Mrs. Betsy Bollinger of Castor River, near Marquand.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Railway, Underground

Some estimates made by Mr. Arnett, admittedly inaccurate, place total number of slaves in Madison County at the outbreak of the Civil at about 150.---Fredericktown Democrat News.


State: Missouri    Interviewee: Baker, Jane

"Ma muther was in a log cab'n east ob Farmington an when Frice's sclders com thru frum Fredericktown, one ob de soldiers climb'd ober de fence an robbed de hen house ob eggs an he put de eggs in his boots, Den when he climb'd ober de fence to git back to de road he mashed de eggs in his boots. De soldier tox off his boots an turned dem up-side-down to git de broken eggs out an ma muther ran out ta de fence an hallored, "Goody, goody."

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Baker, Jane

"Ma muther say dat de worse side ob slabery was when de slabes war 'farmed out'. A master or slabe holder wud loan or sub-let slabes ta a man fur so many months at so much money. De master agreed ta supply so many clothes. De man who rented de slabes wud treat den jus lik animals.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Baker, Jane

"Ma muther was sole twice. De furst time she was 14 years ole. She was tak'n 26 miles to de new owner, an hit took all day. She tied all her belongings up in a red bandanna handkerchief an went on horseback. One stream was so high dat when dey cross'd hit dey got all wet. Den as soon as she got to de new owner she was ship'd de follin' day. One ob ma muther's owners was so good ta her dat she quz treated as one ob de family."

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Baker, Jane

REFERENCE: - The above information was received from Chas. Baker, who is the brother of Dayse Baker, principal of the colored Douglass School in Farmington, Missouri. Thus these facts are concerned with their mother, Mrs. Jane Baker, an Ex-Slave, who died at the age of 103.


State: Missouri    Interviewee: Casey, Harriet  [Note:   This article may refer to "Cayce" family of Farmington.]

"I've lived here 'bout 65 years. I was born in slavery on de Hill place in Farmington. My mother's name was Catherine. Father's name was George. A brother and sistah of mine was sold as slaves 'fore I was born. I nevah saw them. My father was sold away from my mother. Our home was not pleasant. The mistress was cruel. Her brother would go down in de orchard and cut de sprouts and pile 'am up under de house so as de mistress could use 'em on us. She also used a bed-stick to whip with.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Casey, Harriet

"One day we took de cows to pasture and on de way home I stopped to visit Mrs. Walker and she gave me a goose egg. And den when we got home de old mistross kicked me and storped on us and broke my goose egg. Did'n mind de whipping but sure hated to break my egg.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Casey, Harriet

"Our cabin was one room, one door and one fire place. Our mistress was a rich woman, and she had three husbands. She had a big square smoke house full of hog, beef, deer, all pickled away. She had 12 cows and lots of butter and a spring-house.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Casey, Harriet

"To eat we had corn meal and fried meat dat had been eaten by bugs. We had some gravy and all ate 'round de pans like pigs eating slop. And we had a tin cup of sour milk to drink. Sometimes we would have gingerbread. Dis was 'bout twice a year.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Casey, Harriet

"My brother dat was a slave ran off with four or five other boys and never come back. He went west and died in Honaolula. They had a 'niggerbreaker' in Farmington who would take care of de slaves who were hard to handle.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Casey, Harriet

"Cnce it got so cold dat de chickens froze and fell out of the trees and de mistress gave each of us a chicken to eat. We had no shoes even in winter. I can't 'member having good clothes.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Casey, Harriet

"Cne of our neighbors, Mr. McMullin, was a poor white but he had a heart and was our mistress' guardian. I was too little to do much but I would walk along de furrows and hit de ozen with a stick. My sistah come and got me after freedom and learned me de alphsbet. De first thing I ever learned to read was, 'I see you Tom. Do you see mer' I worked for intelligent people and loarned a Creat deal. After I married I wanted to learn a great deal and how to read. At de camp in Mine La Motte I went to school in a log house for 'bout two months.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Casey, Harriet

"Dey would whip with a cat-o-nine tails and den mop de sores with salt water to make it sting. De traders would come through and buy up slaves in groups like stock. On de way south dey would have regular stopping places like pens and coops for de slaves to stay in; at each of these stoppin' places some of de slaves would be sold. My uncle's father was his master and de master sold my uncle who was his own son.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Casey, Harriet

"When my mother died I did not know what a coffin was or what doath was. So I went to my doad mother where she was on de cooling board and brushed my dress and said, 'Look at my pretty dress.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Casey, Harriet

"There was a tough cang called patrollers. Dey would scare de negroes and would keep den always afraid. De mistress would take a couple of us young ones to church but when we got home things were different.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Casey, Harriet

"And I never geen so many soldiers in my life before or since than when Price come through on his raid. It was apple pickin' time and de mistress made us gather apples and pack 'em to the soldiers and we had to pack water from de spring to 'em. De mistress had pickets out in front of de hoase when de soldiers was in town.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Casey, Harriet

"Once when de Union soldiers was in town a negro soldier core and got him a turkey off de fence. De next night a white soldier come to get a turkey and he lcoked all over de place and come up over de stile. Den de mistress Coes out on de porch and called de dogs and said, 'Sic the rogue'. De soldier took out his pistol and laid it on de fence and waited awhile and looked. De dogs were jumping up against de fence. So de soldier shot de dog and then went off and got on his hoss again.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Casey, Harriet

"One day a Union officer come up and had a saber and said he would cut off de mistress' head. De officer was a Dutchman. The mistress then ran to town for help. De soldier came right in de cabin and said, 'Me no hurt you.' De soldier went in de safe in de house and ate all he wanted and den went to bed in de house. Finally de law come and moved him out of de bed off de place. De soldiers would come a night and rout de slave women out of bed and make 'em cook de soldiers a square meal."

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Casey, Harriet

Interview with Harriet Casey,

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Casey, Harriet

ex-slave, aged 75, Fredericktown, Mo.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Casey, Harriet

Interviewed by J. Tom Miles.


State: Missouri    Interviewee: Casey, Joe

Casey, Joe

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Casey, Joe

"I did not get to see my daddy long. He served in de first of de war and come home sick and died at Cadet. I was born at Cadet. I lives here in Festus and am 90 years old. My mother was Arzella Casey and was a slave in Cadet. Tom Casey owned both my mother and father. De master had a pretty good farm end dat was where I worked when I was a boy. Mr. Casey never hit me a lick in my life. He was sure good to us. I had an uncle John and dey had to sell him 'cause dey could not do anything with him. Dey took him to Potosi before dey sold him. He did not want to be drove. Mr. Casey said if he had 100 niggers he would never sell another one. He said he never had any more good luck since he sold John. Losing his children was his bad luck.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Casey, Joe

"Before freedom we had our own house and stayed here after freedom. My master said, 'Well, Joe you are your own boss.' I said: "How come?' He said: 'I'll help you.' Dey would not turn us out without a show. We stayed dere free and I went out in de diggin's in de tiff at Valle Mines. Some days I made $5 and den some days made $2. White folks would come and get ma and she would go to help kill hogs and clean up de lard. Dey paid her good. We must have stayed about 3 years at Casey's after de freedom and den want to Mineral Point and worked for de tiff and mineral. I married up dere and had about 13 children by 2 wives. I ain't got no wife now. Dey is both dead. My children is scattered so I don't know how many is livin'. I got a boy dat went to this last war and I think he is out west somewhere. I got two boys here. One is workin' for de factory in Crystal City. De other one knows lots about cement. I got another child in New York. They don't write to me. I can't read or write. Dere was no school for niggers dem days. I has to make a cross mark every time I do anything. I went to school one week and my mother had to clean tiff to make a livin' for dem children and get grub so I had to go to work. I had about seven sisters and brothers altogether. I done worked at everything--steamboating, cutting wheat in Harrisonville, Illinois. I was here when dis was all woods, man. Me and a saloon keeper have been here a long time, more'n 50 years I guess. I pay $5 a month rent or just what I can give 'em. My two boys lives here with me now and I get $12 pansion.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Casey, Joe

"Dat's when my old master run when dem blue jackets come. Dey made me kill chickens and turkeys and cook for 'em. De lieutenant and sergeant would be right dere. De master would go out in de woods and hide and not come out till they rung de bell at de house.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Casey, Joe

"I voted since I been 21. I voted for Roosevelt twice. Some thinks he is goin' to get in again. What's the use of takin' money from a man for votin' a certain way? If I like you and you have treated me good all my life den I'll vote for you.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Casey, Joe

"I don't know what I think about de young Negroes today. Dey is all shined up and goin' 'round. If dey can read and write dey ought to know de difference between right and wrong. I don't think dey will amount to much. Some of 'em ain't got no sense. My mother would not let me stay out. Now, dat is all dey doin'. Last night de policeman put a knot on my boy's head; he was drinkin' and got into it with a coon. De young colored people is fightin' all de time. I don't get out. Just go to de store and come back home again. Dere is a house right near where dey has a big time every night. De whites and black ones was mixed up here till I stopped it. Right down in dat hollow I'll bet you'll find one-third white women livin' with black men. Most all de colored people around here is workin' in the works here at Crystal City. Dey will get up a war here if they keep on, you just watch, like they did in Illinois when dey burnt up a heap of coons. It's liable to get worse de way dey is goin' on."


State: Missouri    Interviewee: Corn, Peter

"Later on he was down and out and he come to his sisters. Dey could not take care of him so dey put him in de asylum in Farmington. I met him in Farmington on lots of days, and felt like payin' him back for dat whippin'. But just looked like every time, God would say, 'No, don't do dat. He will pay for dat. He will come down'. And he sure did pay for it. He died in de asylum out from Farmington. I never mentioned about dat whippin' to Jim Galvin, not a nary time.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Corn, Peter

"When I was freed I felt like I was goin' into a new world. It was de daughter of de old mistress what told me I was as free as dey was. It was dangerous around de house durin' of de warn So de old mistress broke up de old place and us boys was given to our godmother. Mary was my godmother and it was here I was told dat I was free. We was little and didn't know which way to go. My mistress said, 'Now Peter, you are free and de first chance we get we are going to send for your aunt to come and get you.' Dere were four of us brothers bein' taken' care of by four sisters, when we was free. My uncle was in de army and served two years and had come home. He asked my aunt, 'Where are dose boys?' My aunt said, 'Dey is still with de white folks.' So my uncle come to get us. When he come he rid up and we was so glad to see him we run out and met him. He said, 'Boys, I've come after you.'

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Corn, Peter

"We walked up to de house. Den de white folks was just as glad to see Uncle Julius as if he had been their brother. Den Uncle Julius said to my godmother, Mary, 'Well, Miss Evely, I come after Pete.' She said, 'Julius, I'm awful glad you've come to get him, I hate to give him up, but take him and take good care of him.' Julius was told de same thing by all de other godmothers of my brothers. All of dese sisters had de winter clothes for us cut out but dey wasn't made. De white women said, 'All your aunt has to do is to make dem'. We had between nine and ten miles to go to get down to my aunt's home.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Corn, Peter

"My aunt's husband was freed at least 15 years before de war started. His master died and he was freed by a will when the master went to de court house in Ste. Genevieve. Now, just listen good. Dis master willed 800 acres to his slaves who divided up de farm. Before he died he put down in a way dat his daughters and sons-in-laws could not break it 'cepting dey would raise several thousand dollars. De old slaves would sit down and tell us about it. De master turns in and pays de taxes up for 100 years. One of de trustees for de will was a Dr. Herdick and Henry Rozier both of Ste. Genevieve. My uncle's part was 40 acres and it was dis farm where I want when I come out from under de shelter of de whitefolks. De colored would sell 2 or 3 acres at a time and all dis farm is now sold. I was 13 when I got free and went to dis farm and there was my home until I was right at a grown man. De only taxes we had to pay was on household goods and stock. Every year when de personal taxes come doe I would go into Ste. Genevieve to pay de taxes. As long as Dr. Herdick and Henry Rozier lived as overseers we was well protected on de farm. Bat Ed Rozier, a lawyer, tried to get us to pay de other kind of taxes.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Corn, Peter

"I was goin' on 20 or 21 before I left de farm. De old lady and Uncle died about de same time. Dey took de old lady to de River Aux Vases Catholic Church to bury her and I stayed with de old man and he died before dey got back from de funeral. We sold our forty acres and dere was six heirs. Den I went to work on a farm of Mr. Aubushon [sic Aubuchon] for $10 a month for 15 years. When I quit Aubershon I went den out in Washington County at Fotosi [sic Potosi] and stayed with my two uncles out dere. I served in a iron factory dere for about two years. Sometimes I would get $5 a day. Den when de price would fall off I would get less. Den I come back to Ste. Genevieve County and worked by de day and den want to St. Louis. I worked dere from one iron factory to another and so den I quit dat.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Corn, Peter

"Den I 'run the river' three straight years from St. Louis to Cairo and Memphis, and Baton Rouge, and New Orleans. I den quit de down trade and rested up and made de northern trip from St. Louis to St. Paul. Everything had to be sent from de South out to California. Dat boat had nothin' on it cept eatin' things. So my aim was to get out to California to dig gold. I got defested in dis way.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Corn, Peter

"De river got so low dut we would be tied up for 3 or 4 days before we could unload it. And we never made it to de port where we could unload it to send it to California. From dese ports you went by land with a covered wagon and oxen or males. It would sometimes take 6 months to get to California from de time we left de river. My way would have been free because I could drive a team out to California. But I never Cot to go cause de river got so low. I quit de river work and done some farming for first one den another down in Ste. Genevieve County for a couple of years.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Corn, Peter

"Dey was just startin' up at Crystal City. Dere was lots in de paper about it. Now and den William Kimer, who was livin' in Jefferson County, wrote me to work for him. I would work for him from May to December durin' de wheat cuttin', thrashing, corn pullin' and wheat sowin'. Den dere was no more summer work, so Crystal City was just startin' up and dere was no railroad and dey got everything by boat and teams hauled de things from de river up to de plant. Sometimes there was from 50 to 60 farm teams down at de river haulin'

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Corn, Peter

de coal, brick, etc. for de company. Sometimes we would make $15 a day for de farmer man and he would pay me $10 a month and board. Den I went to Crystal City and worked 13 straight years. De most dat ever I got dere was five or six dollars a day. Dis would be about every three months w'en we tore down de furnace and built it back. At other times I would get about $4.50 a day. I done everything. Made mortar, carried de hod and brick and when quittin' time come you was tired. After I quit Crystal City I went down in Ste. Genevieve County and farmed and got married and had two children. My wife end one child, a little girl, is dead. I live here with my son and his wife. My son has been workin' for de St. Joe here for 12 or 13 years. I had to quit work when I lost my eye-sight.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Corn, Peter

"I was grubbin' hazel-nut bushes in dem rich bottoms in Ste. Genevieve County; and one day I was runnin' and fell down on a stob and it went through my left eye. Dis happened about 40 years ago. De other eye was good till I was 45 and den I had de loss of both eyes and been blind ever since. I'se been gettin' a blind pension for 22 years. It is $75 every three months.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Corn, Peter

"Dere is only one colored family here dat owns their house. All de others rent from the company. I vote at every presidential election, but dat's about all I ever do vote. I been votin' for every president election since I was 21 years old. From de beginning to de end its always the same, the Regublican ticket. Dey joke me a good deal around here 'bout voting one way.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Corn, Peter

"As I look back on it, people ought never to have been slaves. Dat was the low downest thing dat ever was. De first startin' of slavery was when a white man would go over to Africa and de people over dere was ignorant and de white man would hold up a pretty red handkerchief and trade it for one of de Negro women's children. De Negroes in Africa was too ignorant to know better and dis is de way slavery started. I always said like dis, when de older ones that knowed de things, doy ought have learned de slaves their names as dey was in Africa. Lots of us don't know what our grandparents was in Africa. Slavery didn't teech you nothin' but how to work and if you didn't work your back would tell it. Slavery taught you how to lie, too. Just like your master would tell you to go over and steel dat hog. Den de other master from who I stole de hog would say, 'Peter, why I've lost a hog; did you ever see him anywhere?' I would say, 'No, suh'. Of course if I did not lie I would get a whippin'.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Corn, Peter

"De white people did not want to put us in a state to ourselves after de freedom 'cause dey couldn't do without us. De colored people done come up too high now to back 'em and dey got a better chance. De conditions now of de colored people is of course better now cause dey is somebody. But every day dey is tryin' to starve us out and give de white man a job on de state roed. Dey do dat to keep us down. Dat's done more now dan ever before. Its been worse since Roosayelt got in dere. When Highway Gl was out in from St. Louis down to Festus de colored man had a part to do. Since Roosevelt got in dey won't even let a colored man walk down de highway."


State: Missouri    Interviewee: Douthit, Mrs. Charles

Note:--While the interviewer was questioning Charles Douthit, Farmington, Missouri, negro, who was born in 1865, his wife standing in the door looked rather wild-eyed, and unable to stand it any longer, finally broke out with the following:--"Say! What are they gittin' all dis stuf fur anyway? I bet I know. They want ta find out how dey treated de ole slaves so's dey'll know how to treat the young 'uns when dey makes dem slaves. I bet they're goin' a try to have slaves again and dere are some people who want slavery back but de people won't stan' fur hit now. I don't know what de government wants to do but de people would have a most turrible war if dey tried to have slaves again. But ma muther who worked for John Coffman in Ste. Cenevieve County, was well treated. She war really owned by the Missus and de Missus would not sell ma mamma. When de war was ober de missus gave ma muther some land an built her a beautiful home down dare. Ma muther was treated so good dat she stayed an worked fur de Missus til de Missus died. I was borned down in dat dare house dat de Missus built fur ma Muthuh and ma son lives dare now. I was down dare las week, an I calls hit home."


State: Missouri    Interviewee: Hill, Louis

I's borned on October 13, 1858 on the southeast side of Farmington, Missouri, My Muthah, Rose Hill, was borned in Virginia. She kum ta Missouri as a girl an frum dat time on she was a slabe fur John Hill, our boss. She worked thar till our freedom. Our family had three boys, Peter, William, and me an two girls, Sallie and Malinda. We bunked up in a cabin with one room. All us kids ate on da flo frum da sameplate an da biggest dog got da mos. Ne generally wore a straight slip like a nightgown an hit fastened round the neck. (In the old South boys were dressed in this fashion until about ten years old and were called "shirttail boys".) Tak dis off an we war naked. The ole lady, the wife ob da Boss was da devil's sister. Hername was "Whip". She beat da ole folks mor'n tha kids. She used tha cowhide an we got a lickin' whether we did any nothin' or not. we had ta git up early an after given supper we war put ta bed an did not pilfer round. We had ta go on Sunday te the Boss' Church, tha Camelite or Christian Church. Da muthuh was no han ta tell big yarns an so I know no ghost stories. We was raised very sensible. Tha white folks did not help us ta read an write. I larned that after we war free. I never did go ta school. Our games was Wolf on the ridge, an King-Kong-Ko. We always had ta be doin' somethin', even if it war pickin' up kindlin'.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Hill, Louis

"I member when Price's army kum thro here in '64 or '65 on their way ta Pilot Knob. I was bout six or seben years ole. I an ma sisther had bin down ta the white childr'n school ta take them dinner. We had ta bring tha basket bak an we set down in tha corner ob da graveyard ta eat whut was left in da basket. Da graveyard was nex to da Fredreicktown town road and jus across frum our house. All at one't I heard the mos' turrible noise. an saw soldiers kum up da road. We war sure scared. We jumped uo, ran cross da road, jumped over da fence an begun ta tak out fur da house. Da soldiers laughed an said somethin: One soldier on a horse kum up ta de fence, tore off da top rail, an with his horse jumped ober da fence, an took out after us, but he nebber cud catch us. We was she runnin' I was carrying' de basket an if I had a throned it down we would a show'd that soldier somerunnin. Da soldier turned his horse round but we went straight to da house to da Missus. She say dat dey was only havin' a good time an would not hurt us. We wood at da house an looked, an it took bout all afternoon fu da soldiers to pass. Mar war horses, wagons and cannons. Da soldiers durin' da war took all da Ross' horses away an he had only a yoke ob oxen lef.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Hill, Louis

After da freedom we all had ta get out an work. We had a big family. I word'd at da lead smelter at Mine Le Kotte in 1872 an work'd thar fur six years. I made $2.50 a day an dat was good wages then. I batched thar. I larned ta read at Mine La Matte when a white man taught me in evenine at da mine between shifts. Afterards I work'd in Bonne Terre at da smelter but got lead colic an quit thar.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Hill, Louis

"I think slavery waz a curse on human nature. I believe in nobody bein' in bondage ob no kind. Da Almighty was not a goin' ta let slavery las' much longer. You know but He did about da people in Egypt.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Hill, Louis

Note--Louis Hill lives in a very nice home. He is a quiet negro, and escept for a short time, has spent his entire life in Farmington. He receives an Old Age Pension. I did not inquire about his marriage, for, from knowledge I have gained, he lives with a colored woman to whom he is not married.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Hill, Louis

Hill, Louis -- Additional Interview

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Hill, Louis

How he traded liquor for lessons in reading, writing, and arithnotie is one of the interesting facts of his younger life recalled in an interview recently obtained from Louis Hill, an ex-slave, now living in Farmington, Fissouri [sic Missouri].

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Hill, Louis

Louis believes that the goverment should have lade some provision for the aid of the Negroes during the early struggle following their emancipation.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Hill, Louis

Regarding the part which he takes in polities, Louis declares that his invariable rule is to "look over de field and vote for what he thinks is de best timber."

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Hill, Louis

The story of his experiences as given to the interviewer is told as closely as possible in his own words which follow:

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Hill, Louis

"I was too young to know what to expect from freedom. My mother picked up and left de white folks in de night and took us kids with her. Dat was after we was free but dey wouldn't let her get away in de daytime very handy. Dey did not pay my mother anything after she was free. In dem days kids didn't question de old folks like they does now, so I didn't find out much. Dere was two sisters, two brothers and myself what left dat night with my mother. We all had some bundles, and when we left de old mistress in de dark we went to some neighbors several blocks away. We didn't have to go far away 'cause day could not force you to go back after we was free. But my mother did go back and work for de mistress a good while but she got paid don. We stayed here for quite awaile and den went up to Valle Mines.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Hill, Louis

"I piddled around and hired out for first one and den another and did what a kid could do. When you earned any money den days you had to give it to your mother and dida't know what she done done with it. About de first work I done was for Mr. Hoyer, a Frenchman, up in Valle Mines in de diring's. I dug mineral, zine, etc. I got 50 cents a day. He did all de diggin and I 'concked' it from de head of the drift to de shaft. I had a little car on wheels dat run on a wooden track. I reckon I worked for him 'bout two years. My mother would go out to de big dirt pile called 'serappin' and would pick out de zine and lead chunks and little pieces.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Hill, Louis

'Purt near every Saturday we would take de ore down to Furnace Town and get it weighed and get a check for it. Den we come back to Farmington after several years and lived with my sister's husband and worked around at a little bit of everything. I was gettin' to be a pretty good sized boy and went to Mine La Motte and worked on de furnace. My first work at dat place was at $2 a day and later on I became a 'charger' and got $2.50 a day. I stayed with dem six or seven years. After I left dere I went to Bonne Terre and got married and got mine sickness or lead colie from workin' in de furnace and had to quit. I come back to Farmington and is been here ever since. Den I worked at sawing wood, chopping wood, and at a soda factory and beer depot and peddled ice and delivered soda and beer to Knob Lick, Synite [Syenite], Graniteville and Bonne Terre. I worked here for a long time.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Hill, Louis

"I'se had four children and two is livin. De boy is in Los Angeles, California and the girl is in Seattle, Washington. My boy is a chauffeur for an old, rich feller by de name of Clark and he has been in de same job for 16 years. He gets $100 a month, room and board. He's been wanting to quit but de old man won't let him. My son's daughter does de cooking for dis rich guy. My son is 56 years old now.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Hill, Louis

"My daughter is 54 and is married. What whe does is more dan I can tell you. Her husband was a soldier in de regular army, in de 10th Calvary, and was in de Philippines, and Cuba and so my daughter is been around some. She been away from here for about 23 or 24 years.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Hill, Louis

"I think de young Negroes need settling down and have more education and not so much good time. I didn't have much of a chance. We was turned loose barefooted and had no schools den and when dey had schools I had to work. But in Mine La Motte a Mr. McFarland would come over to our cabin and teach me readin', writin' and 'rithmetic. He was an awful drinker but was smart. I would give him a little something to drink for teachin' me. I took lessons for 'bout a year. I sure do like to read de newspapers now and can write letters. The young generation thinks too much about goin' and having a good time. A little 'task master' wouldn't hurt de young people. I wasn't in de slavery long enough for it to hurt me none. I was free when I was B years old. My mother, however, was worked like an old horse and de best part of her life was spent in bondage.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Hill, Louis

"I believe de government should have made some provision for de slaves when dey turned dem loose. De government could have compelled slave-holders to give slaves a little track of land, a cow and a horse and give 'em a start. De slave had made what de white man had. I actually believe de Negroes would be better off today if they had done dis. My old mistress just had oodles of land. Of course de white folks was not used to work and dere was plenty for de Negroes to do if dey wanted to work.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Hill, Louis

"I voted as soon as I got a chance. De first time I voted was in 1880. I'se hud 'em try to pay me to vote but I told dem my vote was not for sale. Yon know you ain't dictated to unless you is 'wishy washy'. Once, a feller asked me how I voted. I said, 'Just to suit myself.' I generally look over de field and vote for what I think is de best timber. Dey is goin' to have a hot time in 1940, for dem that lives to see it. It's a free country and a man should not have to own proberty in order to vote. Dey ought not to oppress anyone."


State: Missouri    Interviewee: Murphy, Malinda

"I was born right here and was about four years old at de time of de war. We was owned by the Hill's at Farmington. My mother plowed in the fields, and hauled wood in de snow. We had no shoes and made tracks of blood in de snow. Us little tots had to go all over de field and pick up feathers. De mistress would go along with a stick and say, 'Here is another feather to pick up.'

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Murphy, Malinda

"When de soldiers came we had a good meal. De soldiers had on blue coats, and when dey came we would be switching off de flies with a long pole with paper on the end. De soldiers would then say 'We don' need that, come on and eat with us'.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Murphy, Malinda

"We were linsie dresses and all slept together and were bound to keep warm. When de war was over we was free to go but de only thing we had was a few rags. So we walked to Valle Mines, twenty-four miles north in Jefferson County. We walked it twice 'cause we would carry a few rags a little piece and den go back after de rest.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Murphy, Malinda

"At Valle Mines we could make a little money digging ore and selling it to de store. De mines were on de surface and mother dug in de mines. After we had gone to Valle Mines, Overton Hill, de son of de Hill's, came up dere and asked mother where she had hid de money and silver during de war. She told him but after three weeks he came back in a buggy and took mother with him to de plantation and she showed Overton where to dig close to a cedar tree to find de money and silver."

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Murphy, Malinda

Interview with Malinda Murphy,

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Murphy, Malinda

Ex-Slave, Farmington, Mo.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Murphy, Malinda

Sent in by J. Tom Miles, Farmington, Mo.


State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bryant, Robert

"After I left dere I went down below Fredericktown and went on a farm again and stayed right dere for seven years. I lost my wife at dat place and sold my land. I paid $90 for 40 acres dere and had paid 'bout half on it. So I sold it back to de man what I bought it from for $45 and went to Bonne Terre and worked for de St. Joe Lead Co. and worked on de lead well and den went to tappin'. I got $1.60 for 12 hours. I worked dere until dey moved de works up here and den I followed de works right up here. Den I worked 'bout 30 years here doing de same kind of work with the same pay.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bryant, Robert

"When I quit workin' here it was about 13 years ago and I was about 62 years old. De comany just laid me off on account of age. Den de supervisor dere got me a job as janitor at de colored school here at $7.00 a month. I've been janitor ever since. Dere is ten colored families in Herculaneum, and about 50 colored people here now but dere used to be mostly all colored but most of 'em done left. I lived here in dis house a little more dan 5 years without payin' rent. Den after my son got on the WPA dey begins to take $3.85 rent a month. We been payin' rent 'bout two years. The St. Joe Company owns all de houses here. We gets our water free. I'se been gettin' a pension about a year now.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bryant, Robert

"I shot a fellow once in de leg. It was de man who my wife was givin' my money to. I had a trial at Kirmswick before de Justice of Peace and served three months in de county jail at Hillsboro. The white folks come down and got me out and it didn't cost me a thing.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bryant, Robert

"A man has got more his own say now dan he did have. We can do more what we want to and don't have to go to de other fellow. Slavery might a done de other fellow some good but I don't think it ever done de colored people no good. Some of dem after freedom didn't know how to go out and work for demselves. Down at old John Soffran's lots of den stayed with him right along same as if dey wasn't free. Ley didn't want to leave here 'cause dey didn't think dey could live if dey left him. But when dey pot away up here in St. Louis dey know they can make a livin', without I arse John, but they got to "go up against it." Deyendin' on somebody else is poor business. When I was workin' I depended on myself. If dey would have freed de slaves and give den a piece of ground I think dat would been a heap better dan de may dey did. Look at de Indians! They're all livin'. I'se always been able to eat and sleep.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bryant, Robert

"I can't hardly tell about de younger generation, I can say dat if it was not for de old generation today de young ones would go up 'salt creek'. Dey don't want to work. Some of dem is pretty smart. Pride is de reason dey don't want to work. Dey dress up and strut out and have a good time. De old folks is de cause of it. Dey say, 'I don't want my boy to do dat; I don't want him to work hard'. I say, let him make out de same as us old folks did.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bryant, Robert

If de colored people don't pick up and see about business dey is going to be behind. Desa young people won't go to charch. You can't get dem in dere. Dot's de place dey ought to go. I'se been going to church since I was a boy. Colored folks did not raise me. White folks learned me to so to church. Mrs. Baker, at Cook's Settlement, would read de Rible every night at 9 o'clock and she would 'splain it to me. If she was not able, her daughter read it. We need a workhouse for de young people.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bryant, Robert

"De first time I ever east my vote was for Cerfield who got killed. It was in ??i??swick. Been votin' ever since, and vote all through dem all. I'se been talked to lots of times, tallin' he how to vote. Dey even give me a ballot and show he how to vote. I would stick dat in my pocket and note like I pleased. I ain't never sold my vote but I'se been offered $10 for it. But I say if you is goin' to set beat, I say you is just beat. You ain't no man to go over there and cast your vote. You got to stand for your point.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Bryant, Robert

"De first automobile I ever seen had buggy wheels. It made a terrible racket. Mrs. Baker told me dat people was goin' sometime to be ridin' in automobiles and in de air.


State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

"Our muthuh; Eliza, was born a slave in 1849, on da farm of her bees; Mr. Maddon, in New Tennessee, Ste. Geneviove County, Missouri. Elisa's muthuh was also a slave. Muthuh was sol' with our grandmuthuh to John - Coffman of near Coffman, Missouri, in Ste. Genevieve County. Mr. Coffman had thousands of aores. He had three plantations an' one was at Libertyville, Missouri. He had 'bout two hundred slaves. The negroes war tak'n frum one plantashun ta the other, and our grandmuthuh work'd at all three places. ';Ole man Coffman' was a mean ola' slave hol'er. He war afraid of his slaves an' had some one else ta do da whippin'. They war rougher on ma aunt; Eleanor, cuase she war stubborn. They wud punish da slaves soverely fur 'membrance. They whoop'd with a rawhide whop an' trace chains. Wilson Harris was whooped at a tree one't an' when dey got thro' he say he wud fight. They whop him some mon' 'til he was weak an' bleedin'. The other slaves had to grease his shirt ta take it off his back ta kppp frum tearin' off de flesh. We can go down thar now and pick out trees whar the slaves war tied an' whipp'd. The trees died on de side whar de slaves war tied. There are three trees on de Ceffman farm that I seen dead on one side, an' sum' war in the yard. Thar is one clos' to the Houck Failroad Station that.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

"When John Coffman was sick he say he was goin' ta ride 'Jap', a Pean hoss, into heaben. So he ack us to take good care of 'Jap'.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

I know Coffman didn't go ta henben 'cause he died an' lef' 'Jap' here.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

"Mr. Coffman had a whole now of slave cabins. Our cabins war small an' we had a corded bed, trundle bed ta slip unde' the big bed ta save room, home made split bottom chairs, tin plates, Wodd'n boxes, an' a firs-place. John Coffman gave us a 'lowance of food. We had hogs-heads an' jouls. Many that time we ran short on food so's one night muthuh went out to whar the hogs wer. Mr. Coffman had so many hogs he didn't know how many he had. She had da watorrhot an' the hogs war a long ways frum Mr. Coffman's house. So she hit a hoe in de head with the ax an' kill'd it. Afta' Killin' it she went to the cabin ta get the water an' when she kum' bak one of the other slaves had stole de dead hog. So she hit anuther one in de head an' after fixin' it hid the hog under de punchson flot of the cab'n. This was done offen. Mr. Coffman use ta kill 'bout one handred hogs at one time an' den put dem in de smoke-house. We muthuh ud get the key to the smoke-house an' load up an' carry some neet home.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

"Mo Aunt Comfort tole de white boy ta thro' a knife at ma muthuh. The boy hit ma mathuh jus' 'bove de eye an' den grandmuthuh whop'd Aunt Come fort fur telliu' the shite boy to do this.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

"In ever cab'n thar war fiddles an' on Sunday we could have a good tise. One of de games we wud play o t in frunt of the cab'n was 'Suing-Ole Liza Singla'. This here game was play'd by havia' two rows line up an' a man wud dance up or Joun the line an' swing each one. We wud all sing an' pat our hans an' feet ta keep time for the dance.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

"Thar was some prachin' goin' on in the cab'ns an' out under the arbors on Saturday nights an' Sunday. The preacher was a slave too. Two songs that we 'member they sung war: 'We'll Bow Around the Altar - Whil'st My Lord Answers Pmayer', and 'Git in the Chariot and Ride Right - Along'.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

"Our fauthur was also a slave of a Mr. Patterson but he was treat'd well When Mr. Patterson died our fauther was will'd ta Mr. Patterson's daughter. Our fauthur; Jacob Franks, was a trusted negro an' a teamster who drove frum Ste. Genevieve ta the plantashum. He used ta swim the river ';Aux Vases with his team. He'ud bring bak things frum Ste. Genevieve that war hard ta git. Salt was hard ta git at this time.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

"Our muthuh; Eliza, married Jacobs Franks wen she was 16 years ole' jus' after she was free. She was always rather puny an' was worth very littls as a slave. One't she was sold with three others an' brot' only $50. Our muthuh has 5 children livin'; 19 great grandchildren, and two great grandchildren; Paul Evans; 6, and Andres; 3. Our fauthur died 43 years ago an' our muthuh married a Mr. Cverton an' he is also dead now.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

"A Mr. Jones bought our aunt an' tok' her ta Shelby County, Missoura. Our aunt had two children by Mr. Jones. One of 'em was so white dat Mr. Jones couldn't sell him fur a slave.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

"When de slaves war freed, we war tole ta go anywhat we pleas'd. For'nately muthuh married at one't, but others did not care ta leave thar way of livin' cause they had no money, no homes, and did not know how ta do thar own work. But Jim Blackwell; who had been a slave fur John Coffman, saved up a lot of fond in his cab'n an' then when he was freed, he went out in de woods an' built him a home of his own. He cut down de trees an' made his cab'n thar an' liv'd.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

"I hear a woman stan' up an' say we would be bettah off today in slavery. I say;'Why?' She say: 'You would hab ta look aftah nothin' of your wblfare'. 'If that's what she was talkin' 'bout', I said, 'ma fauthuh was ten years ols' fore he put on a pair of pants. He had ta wear wooden shoes an' a tow-shirt. I wud not liv' twenty-four hours, bein' a slave now. I wud' not habe stood it with ma temper."

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

Overton, Eliza -- Additional Interview

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

Note: Since Eliza Overton, an ex-slave, is now with her daughter, Mrs. Mammie Robinson, in Detroit, the following information was gained from an interview with Mrs. Overton's children now living in Farmington. They are, Mrs. Maggie Kennedy, age 66; John Franks, age 56; and Mrs. Emma Body, age 71. The oldest of the three children can recall life during these days and the others recall stories told them by their parents.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

Our mother, Eliza, was born a slave in 1849 on the farm of her boss, Mr. Madden, in New Tennessee, Ste. Genevieve County, Mo. Eliza's mother was also a slave. Mother was sold with our grandmother to John Coffman of near Coffman, Mo., in Ste. Genevieve County. Mr. Coffman had thousands of acres. He had three plantations, and one plantation was at Libertyville, Mo. He had possibly two hundred slaves. The negroes were transferred from one plantation to the other and our grandmother worked at all three places. Old man Coffman was a mean old slave holder. He was afraid of his slaves and had some one else to do the whipping. They were rougher on my aunt, Eleanor, because she was stubborn. They would punish the slaves severely for remembrance. They whipped with a rawhide whip and trace chains. Wilson Harris was whipped at a tree once and when they got through he said he would fight. They whipped him some more until he was weak and bleeding. The other slaves had to grease his shirt to take it off his back to keep from tearing off the flesh. We can go down there and pick out trees where the slaves were tied and whipped. The trees died on the side where the slaves were tied. There are three trees on the

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

Coffman farm that I saw dead on one side and there is one close to the Houck Railroad Station there. Some of them were in the yard.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

When John Coffman was sick he said he was going to ride Jap, a roan horse, into heaven. So he asked us to take good care of Jap. I know Coffman didn't go to heaven cause he died and left Jap here.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

Mr. Coffman had a whole row of slave cabins. Our cabins were small and we had a corded bed, trundle bed to slip under the big bed to save room, home made split bottom chairs, tin-plates, wooden boxes and a fire-place. John Coffman gave us an allowance of food. We had hog heads and jowls. Many times we ran short on food so one night mother went out to where the hogs were. Mr. Coffman had so many hogs he didn't know how many he had. She had the water hot and the hogs were a long way from Mr. Coffman's house. So she hit a hog in the head with the ax and killed it. After killing it she went to the cabin to get the water and when she came back one of the other slaves had stolen her dead hog. So she hit another one in the head and after fixing it hid the hog under the puncheon floor of the cabin. This was done quite a bit. Mr. Coffman used to kill about one hundred hogs at one time and then put them in the smoke house. My mother would get the key to the smoke-house and load up and carry some meat home.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

My Aunt Comfort told the white boy to throw a knife at my mother. The boy hit my mother just above the eye and then my grandmother whipped Aunt Comfort for telling the white boy to do this.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

In every cabin there were fiddles and on Sunday we would have a good time. One of the games we would play out in front of the cabins was ?

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

"Swing Ole Liza Single."

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

This game was played by having two rows line up and a man would dance up or down the line and swing each one. We would all sing and pat our hands and feet to keep time for the dance.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

There was some preaching going on in the cabins and out under the arbors on Saturday nights and Sundays. The preacher was a slave too. Two songs that we remember they sung were "We'll Bow Around the Altar Whilst My Lord Answers Prayer" and "Git in the Chariot and Ride Right Along."

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

Our father was also a slave of a Mr. Patterson but he was well treated. When Mr. Patterson died our father was willed to Mr. Patterson's daughter. Our father, Jacob Franks, was a trusted negro and a teamster who drove from Ste. Genevieve to the plantation. He used to swim the River Aux Vases with his team. He would bring back things from Ste. Genevieve that were hard to get. Salt was very hard to get at this time.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

Our mother, Eliza, married Jacob Franks when she was 16 years old just after she was free. She was always rather puny and was not worth much as a slave. Once she was sold with three others and brought only $50.00. Our mother has 5 children living, 19 grandchildren and two great grandchildren, Paul Evans, 6 and Aldrew, 3. Our father died 43 years ago and our mother married a Mr. Overton and he is also dead.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

A Mr. Jones bought our aunt and took her to Shelby County, Missouri. Our aunt had two children by Mr. Jones. One of them was so white that Mr. Jones couldn't sell him for a slave.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

When the slaves were freed we were told to go anywhere we pleased. fortunately, mother married at once but others did not care to leave their way of living cause they had no money, no homes and did not know now to do their own work. But Jim Blackwell, who had been a slave for John Coffman, saved up a lot of food in his cabin and then when he was freed, he went out in the woods and built him a home of his own. He out down the trees and made his cabin there and lived.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Overton, Eliza

I heard a woman stand up and say that we would be better off today in slavery. I say, "Why?" she said, "You would have to look after nothin! of your welfare." "If that's what she was talkin' about" I said "my father was ten years old before he put on a pair of pants. He had to wear wooden shoes and a tow-shirt. I would not live twenty-four hours being a slave now. I would not have stood it with my temper."


State: Missouri    Interviewee: Allen, Hannah

My first husband gave $50.00 for this lot I am living on. This was just at the end of the war. He hauled the logs and chinked and whitewashed them and we had two rooms and a hall. It was a good, nice, warm house. He was a carpenter. About twenty-five years later my husband built him a frame house here and dug him a well. He had 4 dozen chickens, 15 head of hogs, 2 horses, 2 wagons, and a buggy to go back and forth to church at Libertyville, New Tennessee, or Pilot Knob. We lived together about fifty years before he died. He left me this home, three horses, three milk cows, three hogs.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Allen, Hannah

We had no children but adopted a little boy. He was my husband's sister's child. The boy's mother took a notion that she wanted to work out and she was just a young girl so we took the boy at about the age of three and he was with us for about six years. He went to a colored school then but a white teacher taught him. We adopted a girl too from Marquand. The girl's father was a colored man but the mother was a white woman. The woman then married a white man in Marquand and her husband did not want the child so we took her at about three years old. We did not have her no time 'til she died. We have helped to raise about a dozen children. But I have quit doing that now. Mr. Allen is my second husband; he always liked to have children around but we had none of our own.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Allen, Hannah

When my first husband died he did not owe fifteen cents. He just would not go in debt to nobody. He attended the Masonic lodge. After died I then went to work. I bought wood, washed, ironed and cooked. I have made as high as $15.00 a week and board. I took care of a man's children after he and his wife separated. We have had two houses burn down right here. One of our houses was a little too close to Saline Creek and it was condemned and we tore it down and built the one we hav now thirteen years ago. Harry Newberry has a mill and gave us the land to build this house.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Allen, Hannah

We have a lot in the colored graveyard. I have no insurance but Mr. Allen had some kind of insurance, so if he gets hurt travelling he will get something. We are getting together $25.00 in pensions a month. We are living pretty well now. Some months we spend from seven to eight dollars a month on food. Almost everything is cash for us. I've been going barefoot for about ten years. I come very near going barefooted in the winter time. We have been getting a pension for about two years and were on relief for two or three years before that. Every two weeks we would then get five or six dollars worth of food. Our biggest debt is a doctor bill of about $60.00.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Allen, Hannah

Some of the colored folks are better off today and some are worse. The young race says we who was slaves are ten times worse off than they cause we had bosses and couldn't read or write. But I say the young race has got all this to go by and they ought to be much better off than they are. We are better off in one sense than the young race cause about half of them don't know how to raise their children and they don't know how to do nothing. I think our folks have just as good a chance now as the white folks but they don't get cultivated. They say today that I don't know nothing cause I was a slave and all I learned was what the marster told me. But I know enough to keep out of devilment. I think all this speed shows that people ain't got no sense.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Allen, Hannah

Allen, Hannah -- Additional Interview

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Allen, Hannah

"I's born in 1830 on Castor River 'bout fourteen miles east of Fredericktown, Mo. My birthday is December 24. Yes, sir, I is 107 years old dey say and dey not de records up there in de court house to rove it. De first time I married Adam Wringer in 1866 and was married by Squire Addison in Fredericktown. In 1912 on August 11 me and de parson was married in de Methodist church here and dis was de largest one in Fredaricktown. Bout six or seven hundred come for de celebration. I guess I is 'bout de oldest person in Madison County.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Allen, Hannah

"My father come from Perry County. He was named Abernathy. My father's father was a white man. My white people come from Caster and dey owned my mother and I was two years old when my mother was sold. De white people kept two of us and sold mother and three children in New Crleans. He and my brother George was kept by de Bollingers. This was in 1832. De white people kept us in de house and I took care of de babies most of de time but worked in de field a little bit. Dey had six boys.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Allen, Hannah

"Our house joined on to de house of de white folks. Many times I slept on de floor in front of de fireplace near de mistress. Dey got hold of a big buffalo rug and I would sleep on it. De Bollinger boy, Billy Bollinger, would go to de cabin and sleep with George, my brother.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Allen, Hannah

Dey thought nothing of it. Old man Bollinger sent some colored folks up to his farm in Sabula and Billy cried to go long with dem. He let Billy go. I stayed with old Aunt Betsy on Caster River.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Allen, Hannah

"Before de Civil War broke out we were at Sabula and Mr. Schafer and Mr. Bollinger started to take de slaves to Texas. Dey got as far as Rockport, near Not Springs. A man by de name of John Higdon from Colorado married Clive Bollinger and he was injured in de arm in de Battle of Fredericktown. Den John Higdon went to Rockport after he was shot and had taken de oath of allogiance. Higdon's wife died in Rockport and she had a child two years old. I took de baby to care for. De wife was to be buried back home so day took de body in a wagon with just a sheet over it towards Little Rock. I was sitting in de wagon holding de two-year old baby. On de way 'bout ten miles out we were captured by Federal soldiers and took back to Rockport. De body was put in a room for two weeks and den placed in a vault above de ground and stayed dar for bout eight years before Mr. Higdon took it back home to bury.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Allen, Hannah

"Higdon took me and his child to 'bout eight miles from Hot Springs to a hotel he had bought. Once he come up to de hotel with two government horses and put me and de child on a horse and we were on de way to Little Rock. We rode dat way for 'bout two weeks and was captured again near Benton. Higdon had on a Union cape. De soldiers asked us all 'bout de horses, guns, child, etc. De soldiers let him keep his gun 'cause dey said it wouldn't kill a flea. But dey cut de buttons off de coat, and took de spurs off of his heels and said he could not go any further. Dey took me and de baby and made us sit on de ground. De soldiers took Higdon to de river. It was late in de day. Dey said dey was going to transfer him back to Missouri and sell de horses. Higdon had papers from Col. Lowe and Chamhers. De soldiers were masons and after a while dey all come back just a laurhing and shaking hands.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Allen, Hannah

"We were put on-a bout at Little Rock going toward St. Louis. De child took de small pox from a lady on de boat. When we got on de boat dey were firing at the wheels of de boat from across de river. I was feeding de baby and de chamber-maid come out and said, 'I would drown him'. I said, 'If you do dat you will have to drown me too'. Dey had Higdon locked up on de boat and he did not get to see de baby for two weeks when we got to St. Louis. Just as we got to St. Louis, two white ladies saw de baby who was so sick and dey went out and got some clothes for it. De doctor come on de boat and vaccinated me. De sores on the baby were as big as half dollars.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Allen, Hannah

"Den after we got to St. Louis we went to Whitworth's in Ironton, Missouri. Higdon was on de back porch and a soldier shot at him and took him to headquarters dat night. Whitworth had some soldiers take us to Sabula, twenty-five miles away. De soldiers den took Higdon back to Ironton until de war was over. Higdon married three times.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Allen, Hannah

"John, the baby, was raised by his grandmother and step-mother in St. Louis. John married the daughter of a county clerk in Luxenburg, Missouri. and he became county clerk for thirty years in dis county. John died 'bout two years ago this July.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Allen, Hannah

"I 'member Now dey would treat one slave. De master took two boards and tied one to de feet and another to de hands and tied her back with ropes and whipped her with a cat-a-nine tails till she bled and den took salt and pepper and put in de gashes. I can 'member when I was in Iron County de soldiers stole de boss' horse and de boss had to go to latten to git it. Once de soldiers made me get up in de smoke house and throw down some ham. De authorities 'gaged de soldiers for stealing from de people. I had to carry some stuff out for Sam Mildebrand [sic Hildebrand] to eat.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Allen, Hannah

"I've been living here since de Civil War. Dis is de third house that I built on dis spot. What I think 'bout slavery? Well we is gettin long purty well now and I believe its best to not agitate."

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Allen, Hannah

Interview with Aunt Hannah Allen,

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Allen, Hannah

Ex-Slave, Aged 107, Fredericktown, Mo.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Allen, Hannah


State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

Holsell, Rhody

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"Aunt" Rhody Holsell, 89 years old, of Fredericktown, is one of the interesting ex-slaves in Missouri. According to her story she was 17 years old when the Civil War ended. Her mother and father were slaves and both of them had died before the beginning of the conclict. She believes that she is part Indian as her great grandmother is believed to have been an Indian squaw.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

The following is her own version of events which played a part in her life during her slave days and since that time:

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"When dey turned me loose I was naked, barefoot, and didn't have nothin' to start out on. They turned us loose without a thing and we had to kinda pick ourselves up. We would go out of a Sunday and dig ginseng and let it dry for a week and sell it to de store. We would make about a dollar every Sunday dat way, and den we'd get our goods at de store. The master and all de boys was killed in de war and de mistress married some 'hostle jostle' who helped to kill the boss. I was jus' not goin' to stand dat so dis was when I left home.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"Abraham Lincoln done put a piece in de paper saying dat all de slaves was free and if dey whipped any of de slaves after dey was set free day would prosecute them. Me and another little old woman done some shoutin' and hollerin' when we heard 'bout de freedom. We tore up some corn down in de field. De old missus was right there on de fence but wouldn't dare touch us den. Once de mistress struck me after we was freed and I grabbed her leg and would have broke her neck. She wanted to apologize with me de way she had treated me but I would not let her. They thought it was awful dat dey could not whip de slaves any longer.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"I den worked from one farm to another. I would stay a year or two each place. Dey wanted me to stay. Dey said I was de best plow boy dey had. I would cut de old roots and dey would pop but dey paid me nothin' and dey didn't give you no clothes. We got so much in de share of de cropping but dey would not shere with me so I would leave. So I come to Fredericktown to try to find my mother's people but when I got here dey done told me dey was gone to Illinois.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"I den come right out of de field and went right into the dining room. I was never turned off from any of my work. I would just work 'till I got tired and quit. Talk about bein' happy! We was sure 'nough some happy people when dey done took dat yoke offen our necks. Before I was free we had to shuck three wagon loads of corn a day. De wagon would hold 40 bushels. I'd come home and my fingers would be twisted from so much work. De oxen would slobber all over de corn before we picked it. It was cold out dere in de field an' I would wrap my feet up in my dress and wait till de wagon would drive up. I had no shoes on. Man, I don't know how I'm here today. It just was de mercy of God that took care of me. When my mother was dying she done asked God to look over us and it must have been her prayer dat helped me to still be here.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"When my mother was sick once de doctor come and brought his wife. De wife always come with de doctor. De doctor would not allow de family to give de medicine, 'cause he said de family would give in to de sick person. De wife of de doctor would give de medicine when de doctor was asleep. I never seen de family give medicine till I come up here. De doctors always come and stay till de sick person was out of danger and de wife always come with him.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"Lord, people nowadays don't know nothing 'bout nothin'. Child, I spun backwards and forwards to de wheel till I wore my feet out till de balls of my feet was wore to de blood.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"Lots of slaves went to Illinois after freedom, but I never been out of de State. I don't go to frolics of any kind. I just come here and settled down and never rambled 'round. I've lived in dis house 55 years and have buried purty near all my family right out of dis house. I ain't never had a fuss with any of my neighbors, and I done took de bitter with de sweet. I ride in an automobile only to funerals. I ain't been on a train but once or twice and dat was 'bout 40 years ago. I'm interested in church now, can sit and listen to preachin' and singin' all day, but I sets right here while dey has all dis other excitement. Its been seventy years since I done been to Farmington to a picnic. I don't want de pension so much to roam around but to be protected in my old age and to have a few more days of peace. I don't care nothin' about clothes.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"I been votin' at that thing ever since it started. Dey would take me a free ride when votin' time comes. You can't turn around for dey wants to take you to vote. But after de voting dey won't pay no attention to me. I never did vote only a straight ticket and I always went my own way. Dey would sometimes tell me how to vote but I didn't pay them no mind. My husband did not believe in women voting and he said it would tear up de country. He said he wanted to be in heaven when de women voted. Carfield was de first president I ever voted for.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"I believe it would been better to have moved all de colored people way out west to dem selves. Abraham Lincoln wanted to do dis. It would have been better on both races and dey would not have mixed up. But de white people did not want de 'shade' taken out of de country. Many of de bosses after de freedom couldn't stand it and went in de house and got a gun and blew out his brains. If Lincoln had lived he would have separated us like dey did de Indians. We would not have been slaughtering, burning, hanging, and killin' if we had been put to ourselves, and had our own laws. Many a person is now in torment because of dis mixup. God give us a better principle and we could have had thousands of whites slaughtered but we didn't after the freedom.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"De present generation is a lost condition. If dey don't girdle their lines and pull dem up colser and ask God to help 'em and quit going to dem 'hog holes' and drinkin' it is going to be death and destruction. Dis not only is true of the Negroes but white folks, too. Mother and father think it is alright. Dese undertakers is goin' out all de time, night and day, on the highways and pickin' up de carcass of people. Its sin dat is wrong with de world. De future of the Negro is of the past. We have some good friends among the white folks but de devil is just got so strong dat de good can't hardly stand. We have some good citizens in dis town. I can't read or write but I used to have the white lady read the funny side of the paper when I set down to eat.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"Once during de war de soldiers was around me very thick. I was coming back from carryin' de dinner out in de woods to Sam Hildebrand. I took him a table cloth, napkins and everything first class. I went down to de house and hid de basket in a hollow log and crossed de creek and dey hallored, halt! De soldiers was cussin' me like a hay steer. Dey said, 'I'll kill you right here and blow your brains out if you don't tell.' I told dem I had been up dere to water de calves so dey give me my pass and let me go on to de house. I would not tell dem nothin' 'bout Sam Hildebrand nor where he was hiding. While Sam et his meal I would stand 'round and watch in de woods. I was de oldest one on de place and I was de only one what had to carry his meals to him.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"I would get up many mornings and hear the bugler blowin'. Das when dey was callin' the pickets in. You would see de pickets come in just a-flyin' and out sent de fresh pickets on duty. I was not scared of dem. Sometimes de soldiers stayed 'round our place for two weeks and camped. Dey was about 500 and de men laid out on de ground under a government wagon and in some houses around about. Dese soldiers would go out with sabers and whack de heads off of de sheep, hogs, and calves and in about five minutes would have dat yearlin' skinned and dash it into de boilin' kettle. Den dey would take a long knife and cut off a big piece of meat with the blood runnin' out. Dey did not cook de meat done and did not put much salt on it. It sure was funny, seein' dem soldiers eatin' a big hunk of meat with de blood runnin' out. Dey always had bread but don't know where dey got it. They was so tired and wore out and their feet was sore and de infantry was almost barefooted. Dey was always dressed in blue. Sometimes we would have 30 or 40 yards of goods on de loom and dey would tear it off and send it home to their family. We was glad enough to get dem to take dis and get out. There would not be a man on de place when these 500 soldiers come. We always managed to bury dat gentleman (money). I can remember the boss took out of his chest his money, enough to fill the bable, and put it in a buck skin bag and he went off with another man. I don't know what become of de money and dey was killed and there was no one left to tell de tale.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"I sure had it rough and tumble since de war. Of course I don't have a boss now. I've worked on de farm, as a dining room girl, washin', ironing, and hiring out. I would get about $9 to $10 a week. I was workin' for de railroad people den when de road was runnin' strong here. My husband he died 40 years ago and he done left me with about 15 cents, and the mortgage on dis house was about $130. I had a wagon worth about $40 and old Dr. Newberry took dat for his bill. Den I would do two or three washings before I come home and would come by de undertaker's and leave him some money on de funeral. My daughter is a grass-widow and she lives here. Her ex-husband shines shoes down town, but he don't help us none. My daughter has got three children.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"I don't go to church lately. Its embarrassing to go in this hot weather. I know where I want dem to bury me. All the old folks buried out at de old colored cemetery.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"I goes down here to de store and if I can't get de money dey wuits till I can, I can get it on a credit. Dey think Aunt Rhody is one of the leadin' persons of de town. Of course I don't run all over town but go to one store. Dey have got used to me and dey know it sometimes takes an hour for me to make up my mind what I want to buy. When I go to de store they kid me and say: 'why, Aunt Rhody, ain't you dead yet? You is goin' to outlive us all.'

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"Slavery learnt me how to work and I wasn't feared of no kind of work. Most of de people around here don't know nothin' 'bout work. A little slavery would do dis young age some good and dey is goin' to get it. Dis young generation is slaughtering our people up, down in de south. Our people don't know what freedom is down there. Better not go down there and talk about freedom. My brother went down there in the south and got back so far from de river dat he never got out. I guess de exposure and the beatin' killed him. Lots of places dey votes down there, but de votes is thrown in de waste basket and dey don't count. These people can't beat up us people and jump up on a bed and close their eyes and die and expect to go to heaven.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"I ain't never heard de Bible read till I was free in Fredericktown. When we was slaves we did not have much time to get out and sin much. Dis generation is goin' to destruction. Its all on account of not minding their parents. Dey is just hard-headed. Its caused by de way de old folks acted and is bein' put on dis present generation. I tell 'em, you don't think dat you can walk these streets and fall dead and never said nothin' to Cod to move this gulf of sin and den expect to go to Heaven. I'm tryin' to serve God and fightin' all de time against de devil to keep him from knockin' me over. I'm not a person to go on with a lot of nonsense. I talk to de young people all de time around de stores and tell 'em day is got to get up from there to make it across de river. Dey all talk about me preachin' a sermon around de stores. But de devil's already got de 'bill of sale' on dem. I'm talkin' to de Lord all de time cause my stay is going to be mighty short now."

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

Holsell, Rhody -- Additional Interview

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"I've lived in Fredericktown ever since de war and only two or three times I've been out of hollering distance of town. I was seventear years old when de war was over. My boss was Thos. McGee in Wayne County. My mother and father were slaves. My great-grandmother was a Indian squaw. My mother was dead four years 'fore de war and my father was dead three years.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"I sure can 'member 'bout de war. De funniost thing was some soldiers camped at our house. Man, I would pull weeds in de cotton patch, and when I got a little older I was a-carding and spinning and dat wheel was a-singing. I spun all de chain all through de Civil War and I spun all de warp. De boss treated us very good. De boss would know every row of corn we would hoe; sometimes we would break de corn off end den we got a whipping with a weed.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"De boss lost all three of his boys with their shoes on in de war, but dey did not join de army. De boss was also killed. De boss had a race horse and de soldiers found dis out an de boss tried to get de hoss out of de state to New Orleans until after de war. My brother got de rece hoss down there all right. My brother got on Knight and rode clear to Cape and his closes were torn off. He got to Cape just as de boat was pulling out. Dey killed de boss when he got on another hoss an he was shot 'cause de soldiers thought he was on de race hoss. Dey killed de boss in August on Monday. De boss was going that day to Greenville to make his will.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"After de war I worked my way to Fredericktown. I started out bareheaded an barefosted. I worked from one farm to another. I worked at one farm for two years and at another for one year. These people paid me a little. It took 'bout five years 'fore I got to Fredericktown. I did anything. I cradled five acres of oats end my husband bound it. I didn't fear no kind of hoss. I have ten great grand-children, and one great-great-grandchild.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"I took Sam Hildebrand's dinner to him many times and wheff Sam was killed in Southern Illinois dey tried to get me to go up to Fermington to identify him. But I would not do it. I told dem dat he had a mark behind his shoulder dat dey could see. I 'member once when Said Hildebrand was shot and came to our place to have his sore washed out. I held de wash pan for old Tom McGee to wash his wound.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"De old folks had all kinds of tea to heal people. De old mistress took de 'ridicue' with her and would be gone for a week going from one sick person to another. My boss caused my mother's death. She was on a wagon of oats and was being pulled by a yoke of oxen. De wagon turned and she fell off on a sapling and it went through her skin and dey had to saw de sapling off and she had to lay with dat sneg in her side till de doctor twenty miles away come. It was in August and she died with poison. Her coffin was made right out on de work bench. Dey didn't have anything in de coffin but a winding sheet scolloped nicely and a shroud for de body. It was a miracle to me when I came up here to see how dey dressed up de dead people. When I die just wrap me in a clean sheet. That was what my fore-parents had. Its better to think whar dat soul is. Two wheel carts was mostly used at funerals in those days with exen. The driver would be walking along baside driving.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"De Boss said one man was treated mean and they could not do anything with him. The old fellow would play his gourd and de snakes would come 'round. Finally dey sent him down to New Orlcans and sold him on de block.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"If you move on Saturday you won't stay long. If de boss decides about you on Tuesday or Friday these are hanging days. I can't read or write but I have a little mother sense. We have three spirits, evil spirit in de grave, another spirit which is wandering, and a spirit in heaven.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

"I think slavery is good for dem dat understands it. We are all slaves now. We have a rough and tumble business. Slavery was cruel but it's about as bed now. Them days they didn't hang anybody for doing bad things. I may be wrong. I been voting ever since de mass got up. My husband said he wanted to be in heaven when de women would be messin' 'round among de men and voting. I wish we had a whole lot of Abraham Lincolns now. He did a great deed when he took de yoke off us colored people. We will get a little rest anyway.

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

An Interview with "Aunt Rhody"

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

Holsell, Ex-Slave, Fredericktown,

State: Missouri    Interviewee: Holsell, Rhody

Missouri. Interviewed by J. Tom Miles.


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