“What de slaves done when dey wuz told dat dey wuz free? I wuz too little to know what dey meant by freedom, but Old Marster called de overseer and told him to ring de bell for de Niggers to come to de big house. He told ’em dey wuz free devils and dey could go whar dey pleased and do what dey pleased—dey could stay wid him if dey wanted to. Some stayed wid Old Marster and some went away. I never seed no yankee sojers. I heared tell of ’em comin’ but I never seed none of ’em.
“No’m I don’t know nothin’ ’bout Abraham Lincoln, Booker T. Washington or Jefferson Davis. I didn’t try to ketch on to any of ’em. As for slavery days; some of de Niggers ought to be free and some oughtn’t to be. I don’t know nuttin much ’bout it. I had a good time den, and I gits on pretty good now.
“How come I jined de church? Well I felt lak it wuz time for me to live better and git ready for a home in de next world. Chile you sho has axed me a pile of questions, and I has sho ‘joyed tellin’ you what I knowed.”
Julia brown (Aunt Sally)
710 Griffin Place, N.W.
July 25, 1936[TR:?]
by Geneva Tonsill
[TR: One page of this interview was repeated in typescript; where there was a discrepancy, the clearer version was used.]
Aunt Sally rocked back and forth incessantly. She mopped her wrinkled face with a dirty rag as she talked. “Ah wuz born fo’ miles frum Commerce, Georgia, and wuz thirteen year ole at surrender. Ah belonged to the Nash fambly—three ole maid sisters. My mama belonged to the Nashes and my papa belonged to General Burns; he wuz a officer in the war. There wuz six of us chilluns, Lucy, Malvina, Johnnie, Callie, Joe and me. We didn’t stay together long, as we wuz give out to different people. The Nashes didn’t believe in selling slaves but we wuz known as their niggers. They sold one once ’cause the other slaves said they would kill him ’cause he had a baby by his own daughter. So to keep him frum bein’ kilt, they sold him.
“My mama died the year of surrender. Ah didn’t fare well after her death, Ah had sicha hard time. Ah wuz give to the Mitchell fambly and they done every cruel thing they could to me. Ah slept on the flo’ nine years, winter and summer, sick or well. Ah never wore anything but a cotton dress, a shimmy and draw’s. That ’oman didn’t care what happened to the niggers. Sometimes she would take us to church. We’d walk to the church house. Ah never went nowhere else. That ’oman took delight in sellin’ slaves. She’d lash us with a cowhide whip. Ah had to shift fur mahself.