Mr. Coxton once saw him (Mr. Bland) beat another slave (who was a guest at a frolic) when this visitor attempted to draw a pistol on him. Mr. Bland was upheld in his action and told by Mr. Coxton that he had better always fight back when anyone struck him, whether the person was white or black. Further, if he (Mr. Coxton) heard of his not fighting back a whipping would be in store for him.
Mr. Coxton was different from some of the slave owners in that he gave the head of each family spending money at Christmas time—the amount varying with the size of the family.
“When the Civil war was begun the master seemed to be worried all the time” states Mr. Bland. “He was afraid that we would be freed and then he would have to hire us to do his work.”
When asked to describe his feelings about the war and the possibility of his being freed, Mr. Bland said that he had no particular feeling of gladness at all. The outcome of the war did not interest him at all because Mr. Coxton was such a good master he didn’t care whether he was freed or not. His fellow slaves felt the same way.
When Sherman and the Yankees were marching through they took all of the live stock but bothered nothing else. The buildings on the adjoining plantation were all burned. A small skirmish took place about 2 miles away from Mr. Coxton’s plantation when the Yankees and Confederates met. Mr. Coxton’s two sons took part in the war.
Mr. Bland was taken by Sherman’s army to Savannah and then to Macon. He says that he saw President Jeff Davis give up his sword to General Sherman in surrender.
After the war Mr. Coxton was still well off in spite of the fact that he had lost quite a bit of money as a result of the war. He saved a great deal of his cash by burying it when Sherman came through. The cattle might have been saved if he (Mr. Bland) could have driven them into the woods before he was seen by some of the soldiers.
At the close of the war Mr. Coxton informed all the slaves that they were free to go where they wished, but they all refused to leave. Most of them died on the plantation. Mr. Bland says that when he became of age his former master gave him a wagon, two mules, a horse and buggy and ten pigs.
Mr. Bland thinks that old age is a characteristic in his family. His grandmother lived to be 115 years old and his mother 107 years old. Although in his 80’s, Mr. Bland is an almost perfect picture of health. He thinks that he will live to become at least 100 years old because he is going to continue to live as sane a life as he has in the past.
Rias body, Ex-Slave.
Place of birth: Harris County, near Waverly Hall, Georgia
Date of birth: April 9, 1846
Present residence: 1419-24th Street, Columbus, Georgia
Interviewed: July 24, 1936
[Jul 8, 1937]