Before he was six years of age, little “Wash” lost his mother and, from then until freedom, he was personally cared for and looked after by Mrs. George Allen; and the old man wept every time he mentioned her name.
During the ’60’s, “Uncle Wash’s” father drove a mail and passenger stage between Cusseta and LaFayette, Alabama—and, finally died and was buried at LaFayette by the side of his wife. “Uncle Wash” “drifted over” to Columbus about fifty years ago and is now living with his two surviving children.
He has been married four times, all his wives dying “nachul” deaths. He has also “buried four chillun”.
He was taught to read and write by the sons and daughters of Mr. George Allen, and attended church where a one-eyed white preacher—named Mr. Terrentine—preached to the slaves each Sunday “evenin’” (afternoon). The salary of this preacher was paid by Mr. George Allen.
When asked what this preacher usually preached about, “Uncle Wash” answered: “He was a one-eyed man an’ couldn’ see good; so, he mout a’made some mistakes, but he sho tole us plenty ’bout hell fire ’n brimstone.”
“Uncle Wash” is a literal worshipper of the memory of his “old time white fokes.”
Rev. W.B. Allen, ex-slave
(June 29, 1937)
[Jul 28 1937]
[TR: Original index refers to “Allen, Rev. W.B. (Uncle Wash)”; however, this informant is different from the previous informant, Washington Allen, interviewed on Dec. 18, 1936. The previous interview for Rev. Allen that is mentioned below is not found in this volume.]
In a second interview, the submission of which was voluntarily sought by himself, this very interesting specimen of a rapidly vanishing type expressed a desire to amend his previous interview (of May 10, 1937) to incorporate the following facts:
“For a number of years before freedom, my father bought his time from his master and traveled about over Russell County (Alabama) as a journeyman blacksmith, doing work for various planters and making good money—as money went in those days—on the side. At the close of the war, however, though he had a trunk full of Confederate money, all of his good money was gone.
Father could neither read nor write, but had a good head for figures and was very pious. His life had a wonderful influence upon me, though I was originally worldly—that is, I drank and cussed, but haven’t touched a drop of spirits in forty years and quit cussing before I entered the ministry in 1879.