Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 371 pages of information about Slave Narratives.

“I had a cousin named Alec Heard, and he had a wife named Anna Heard.  Anna stayed sick all der time almost; fer two years she complained.  One day a old conjurer came to der house and told Alec that Anna wuz poisoned, but if he would give him $5.00 he would come back Sunday morning and find the conjure.  Alec wuz wise, so he bored a hole in the kitchen floor so that he could jest peep through there to der back steps.  Sho nuff Sunday morning the nigger come back and as Alec watched him he dug down in the gound a piece, then he took a ground puppy, threw it in the hole and covered it up.  All right, he started digging again and all at onct he jumped up and cried:  ’Here ‘tis!  I got it.’  ’Got what?’ Alec said, running to the door with a piece of board.  ’I got the ground puppy dat wuz buried fer her.’  Alec wuz so mad he jumped on that man and beat him most to death.  They say he did that all the time and kept a lot of ground puppies fer that purpose.”  Continuing, she explained that a ground puppy was a worm with two small horns.  They are dug up out of the ground, and there is a belief that you will die if one barks at you.

Mrs. Avery related two ways in which you can keep from being conjured by anyone.

“One thing I do every morning is ter sprinkle chamber-lye [HW:  (urine)] with salt and then throw it all around my door.  They sho can’t fix you if you do this.  Anudder thing, if you wear a silver dime around your leg they can’t fix you.  The ’oman live next door says she done wore two silver dimes around her leg for 18 years.”

Next is a story of the Jack O’Lantern.

“Onct when I wuz a little girl a lot of us chillun used to slip off and take walnuts from a old man.  We picked a rainy night so nobody would see us, but do you know it looked like a thousand Jack ma’ Lanterns got in behind us.  They wuz all around us.  I never will ferget my brother telling me ter get out in the path and turn my pocket wrong side out.  I told him I didn’t have no pocket but the one in my apron; he said, ‘well, turn that one wrong side out.’  Sho nuff we did and they scattered then.”

Closing the interview, Mrs. Avery remarked:  “That’s bout all I know; but come back some time and maybe I’ll think of something else.”


[TR:  This interview, which was attached to the interview with Mrs. Celestia Avery, is also included in the second volume of the Georgia Narratives.]

On December 3 and 4, 1936, Mrs. Emmaline Heard was interviewed at her home, 239 Cain Street.  The writer had visited Mrs. Heard previously, and it was at her own request that another visit was made.  This visit was supposed to be one to obtain information and stories on the practice of conjure.  On two previous occasions Mrs. Heard’s stories had proved very interesting, and I knew as I sat there waiting for her to begin that she had something very good to tell me.  She began: 

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Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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