Skip to comments.Slavery, and what happened when the "Yankees" came
Posted on 06/07/2002 5:29:32 AM PDT by TexConfederate1861
By Al Hester
Editor's Note: During the Depression, the Works Progress Administration was formed to give out-of-work Americans useful tasks, paying them enough to put food on the table. The Federal Writers Project used ''white collar workers'' and writers to produce the acclaimed American Guides series. A little-known facet of the Federal Writers Project was the American Life Histories which consisted of about 4,900 interviews with Americans, black and white, and how they remembered their lives.
In the Athens area, four interviewers were hired, and they interviewed nearly 40 residents, both black and white. The manuscripts were never published, as the WPA program ended during World War II.
The following interview excerpt was conducted on Nov. 7, 1939, with the Rev. Alonzo Powers, a former slave. Powers was living on Rural Route #1 on the Danielsville Road, outside Athens, when Mrs. Ina B. Hawkes interviewed him. Powers was almost certainly a son of the famous quilter Harriet Powers, even though that link hasn't been proven. They lived in the same part of the county--Sandy Creek--and he was the first clerk of New Grove Baptist Church, where Harriet Powers was a member. Dialect conversation has been edited in standard English, and the use of the ''N-word'' by African Americans in their conversations about themselves, has been changed.
In talking to the owner of a tourist camp one day, I asked the whereabouts of a Negro by the name of Lonnie Pondly (Alonzo Powers). The owner replied, ''Yes, he lives in the third house down that lane. You know he is a preacher?''
I didn't, and then added that I would be glad to have the chance to talk to a colored preacher. I went down the white, sandy lane and found a two-room house. It had no front yard, no grass or trees for shade and no porch. I knocked on the door and a man answered. ''Who do you want to see?'' he asked. I told him that I wanted to see Lonnie Pondly. I heard a door shut, and I saw an old man walking around the house. ''Yes Ma'am, this is Lonnie Pondly,'' he volunteered. ''Good morning, Uncle!'' I said. ''Do you have a little time to spare this morning?'' ''Yes ma'am,'' he said, with a broad smile. It was a cool day, although the sun was shining very bright. I asked him to sit in the sun so we could talk better. He seemed to know what I came for because he said: ''Well, I was born eighty years ago in 1859. I was a slave, Miss. My young mistress and master's names were Nancy and John Lester. My father's master's name was Jimmie Nunn. He lived on the Danielsville Road. My father would have to get a pass from Mr. Jimmie to come to see my mother. You see, they were on different plantations. My father got to come to see my mother twice a week. If he slipped out without the pass the 'patterollers' (white men disciplining Negro slaves) got after him, and if he outrun them and got back to his master he was safe, but if he didn't, he got a whipping. Twenty-five licks was what he would get. ''As far back as I can remember is when us little Negroes was just big enough to run around. Mistress would be so good to us. She would always pay us in some way to help her. She would say, 'Bring me some water; git me some on the north side of the spring so it will be cool' or' pick up some bark for me and I will make some candy for my little Negroes.' ''Lawd Miss, you ought to have seen us scramble after that water and pick up those chips. ''I was born in Athens, Gawgia, Jan. 13, 1856. My father, Robert Wilborn was a Cherokee Indian. My mother was the daughter of a Negro woman and German doctor. There were 15 child'un of us, twelve boys and three girls. Dr. Edward Ware owned mother and we child'un, and father worked for him, making coffins for use when any of the slaves on his plantation died, and for Dr. Ware to sell, too.'' --Slave narrative of David Wilborn from Ohio
''My Mistress would not let anyone whip us, not even my mother or father. ''I remember one time they was sending us out to hoe cotton. I decided I didn't want to go, so I pitched a big fit. Instead of hoeing the cotton, I laid down and started grabbing it with my teeth. Master came out and sent me to the house. He said I never would amount to nothing. He didn't let me go to the field no more that year. He thought I was sick. ''Master would never raise over one bale of cotton. We had ox carts in those days. I can remember when it took two weeks to go to Augusta and back with that bale of cotton. ''We used to all go to the same church, colored and white. We would sit on one side. I would always go with my grandma. She would put her shoes in her pockets and when we got in a mile of the church she put her shoes on. When we left she would pull them off and go on home bare-footed. ''You know, Miss, in slavery time if any of the slaves was disobedient, their owner's would hold them 'till the speculators came around. Then they was sold. If the women had children, it made no difference--they had to leave them--or if the man had a wife he had to go just the same. ''I remember when the Yankees came through, one big Yankee come up to my Pa and said, 'I will give you my horse and blanket if you will show me all the old rich bugs (white planters).' ''Pa said, 'wait--let me get my shoes.' Instead of putting on his shoes, he run through the house and yelled, 'Everybody turn loose the horses.' All the Yankees horses were old broke-down and they would take ours. ''If a man wore a vest, the Yankees thought he had a watch. One big Yankee walked up to Uncle Harry and said, 'Take off that vest.' Another one said, 'Let the damn fool alone, can't you see he has no watch.' ''All the time Uncle Harry had it hid under the wood pile. ''One Yankee walked up to Mistress and said, 'How come you got such a big bosom? Give me all that money.' ''Mistress said, 'I haven't got any money.' ''The Yankee took his knife and cut Mistress' dress open, and gold and silver went everywhere. It was awful. ''Mr. Franklin was my master's older brother. The Yankees got him and hung him up by his toes. He would not tell where his money was. Then they hung him up by his neck; he could hardly whisper. Still he would not tell them where his money was. The Yankees yelled at one of his men to bring him the auger. He got poor old Mr. Franklin down and started boring in his head. ''Mr. Franklin said, 'Please don't kill me, I will tell--it is under a pile of rocks in the garden in an old trunk.' ''The Yankees made my mother cook fifteen bushels of peas and three middlins of meat. They didn't wait for them to get done. The peas just got hot and swelled. They took them and left with all the good horses they could catch of ours and all the money they could find. ''My young master went to war to substitute for Mr. Franklin. Miss, it seems as if I can see him now. He called me Ding. He said, 'Here Ding, take this big red apple, and if you don't ever see Master again, remember me by it.' ''I never did see him no more. He got killed fighting. Mistress got forty dollars.'' ''They called old John in to pray for Master. John was a big Negro. His prayer was, 'God bless young Master in the war, and give them their victory and bless old Master and Mistress at home.' ''Going home, his wife Mary said, 'John, how in the devil do you ever expect to be set free and you praying like that?' Old John looked at Mary and said, 'God knows what I mean.' He sat very quietly for a moment as if he were seeing everything over again. He took a long breath and smiled. ''Lord Miss, them was some days.'' ''How old were you at the time of the surrender,'' I asked. ''That's where I began another life, Miss. I was ten years old. (note the descrepancy in age from the 1859 birth date he gave.) ''Later, I come to Athens though. God bless you.''
Al Hester, Ph.D., retired journalism department head at the University of Georgia, is the editor and commentator for a forthcoming volume of selected American Life Histories involving Athens area residents. His book, "Athens Remembers: Life Histories from the Federal Writers Project, 1939-40," will be published by The Green Berry Press during Athens-Clarke County's bicentennial year. More information about the book is available from The Green Berry Press here in Athens at (706) 549-8680.
This article published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Sunday, June 17, 2001.
Hint it's not in the north!!
These men were not foreigners, they were brothers
10193 12 Alabama Ila B. Prine
Ira S. Jordan
"Aunt" Charity Anderson. (Ex-slave) Charity Anderson, who believes she is 101 years old, was born at Bell's Landing on the Alabama River, where her owner, Leslie Johnson, operated a wood-yard, which supplied fuel to the river steamers, and a tavern where travelers whiled away the delays of a dubious riverboat schedule.
Rheumatic and weak, she no longer ventures from her house in Toulminville, on the outskirts of Mobile, but sits with her turbaned head and bespectacled eyes rocking the long hours away in a creaky old chair and knitting or sewing, or just gazing into a past painted by the crackling flames in the fireplace.
"I has so much trouble gittin' up and down de steps and ober de groun', I jist makes myself happy heah, cause,-thank de Lawd-I'se on Zion's March," is her resigned comment.
"Missy, peoples don't live now; and [deleted] ain't got no manners, and doan' know nothin' 'bout waitin' on folks. I kin remember de days when I was one of de house servants. Dere was six of us in de ole Massa's house-me, Sarai, Lou, Hester, Jerry and Joe. Us did'n' know nothin' but good times den. My job was lookin' atter de corner table whar nothin' but de desserts set. Joe and Jerry, dey was de table boys. Dey neber tetched nothin' wid dere han's, but used de waiter to pass things wid."
"My ole Massa was a good man. He treated all his slaves kind, and took good kere of 'em. But, honey, all de white folks wan't good to dere slaves, I's seen po' [deleted] 'mos' tore up by dogs and whupped 'tell dey bled w'en dey did'n' do lak de white folks say. But, thank de Lawd, I had good white folks and dey sho' did trus' me, too. I had charge of all de keys to de house, and I waited on de Missis' and de chillun. I laid out all de clo'se on Sat'dy night, and den Sunday mawnin's I'd pick up all de dirty things. Dey did'n' have a thing to do. Us house servants had a hahd job keepin' de pickaninnies out 'er de dinin' room whar ole Massa et, cause w'en dey would slip in and stan' by his cheer, w'en he finished eatin' he would fix a plate for 'em and let 'em set on the hearth.
"No mam, Missy, I ain't neber worked in de fields, Ole Massa he neber planted no cotton, and I ain't seen none planted 'tell. after I was free. But, honey, I could sho 'nuff wash, iron and knit and weave. Sometimes I weaved six or seven yahds of cloth, and do my house work too. I larnt the chillun how to weave, and wash, and iron, and knit too, and I's waited on de fo'th generation of our fambly. I Jes' wish I could tell dese young chillun how to do. Iffen dey would only suffer me to talk to dem, I'd tell dem to be more 'spectful to dere mammies and to dere white folks and say 'yes mam' and 'no mam', instid of 'yes' and 'no' lak dey do now.
"All dis generetion thinks of is 'musement. I neber had seen a show in my whole life 'tell jes' dis pas' yeah when one of dem carnival things wid de swings, and lights, and all de doin's dey have stop right in front of our house heah. "And I ain't neber been in no trouble in all my life-ain't been in no lawsuits, and I ain't been no witness eben. I allus treat ebrybody as good as I kin, and I uses my manners as good as I knows how, and de Lawd sho' has took good keer of me. Why, w'en my house burnt up, de white folks helped me so dat in no time you couldn't tell I ebber los' a thing.
"But, honey, de good ole days is now gone foreber. De ole days was railly de good times. How I wish I could go back to de days w'en we lived at Johnson's landing on de riber , when de folks would come to ketch de steamboats and we neber knowed how many to put on breakfas', dinner or supper fo', cause de boats mought be behin' times. I ain't neber had to pay a fare to ride a steamboat needer. I was a good lookin' yaller gal in dem days and rid free wherever I wanted to go.
"But whut's de use dreamin' 'bout de ole times? Dey's gone, and de world is gettin' wicked'er and wicked'er, sin grows bolder and bolder, and 'ligion colder and colder. Wash, Copy R.L.D. 4-23-37
Alabama Gertha Couric, John Morgan Smith. 9 "JESUS HAS MY CHILLUN COUNTED."
I walked along a dusty road under the blazing sun. In the shade of a willow tree a Negro man was seated with his legs drawn up and his arms crossed upon his knees. His head rested face downward upon his arms, as he had the aspect of one in deep slumber. Beside him munching on a few straggly weeds, a cantankerous mule took little notice of his sur- roundings.
"Can you tell me where Aunt Molly Ammond lives?" I asked in a loud voice. The Negro stirred slowly, finally Raising his head, and displaying three rabbit teeth, he accompanied his answer with a slight gesture of his hand.
"Yassuh, dar her house raght across de road; de house wid de climbin' roses on hit."
"Thank you," I said.
"Yassuh," was the drawled response, and the Negro quickly resumed his former posture.
Aunt Molly Ammonds is as gentle as a little child. Her voice is soft and each phrase measured to the slow functionings of her aged mind.
"Honey," she said, "you ain't gwineter believe dis, but I is de mammy of thirty chilluns. Jesus got 'em counted an' so is me. I was bawn in a log cabin dat had a loft, an' it was on Marse Lee Cato's plantation five miles wes' of Eufaula. My pappy's name was Tobe Cato an' my mammy's was Sophia. I had one sister, Marthy, an' two brothers, Bong and Toge. My pappy made all de furniture dat went in our house an' it Dere might' good furniture too. Us useta cook on de fireplace. Us would cook ash cakes. Dey wuz made outen meal, water and a little pinch of lard; on Sundays dey wuz made outen flour, buttermilk an' lard. Mammy would rake all de ashes out de fireplace, den kivver de cake wid de hot ashes an let it cool till it was done.
"Yas Missy," she continued," I recollects dat I was 'bout twelve or fo'teen when de s'render come, kaze a little atter dat I ma'ied Pastor Ammonds. We walked ober to Georgetown an' it was de fus' time I eber had shoes, and I got dem fum ole Massa. I remembers dat I ma'ied in a striped calico dress."
"Aunt Molly," I said, "you're getting a little ahead of your story, tell me something about your plantation life before the war."
"Well, honey, Massa Lee's place was 'bout three miles long an' two miles wide, and we raised cotton, cawn, 'taters and all sorts of vegetables. We had a mean oberseer dat always wanted to whup us, but massa wouldn't 'llow no whuppin'. Sometimes de massa would ride over de place on a hoss, an' when he come up on de oberseer a-fussin' at a [deleted], Massa say, 'Don't talk rough to dat [deleted]when he doin' de bes' he can.'"
"My pappy had a little garden of his own back of his cabin, an' he raised some chickens for us to eat, an' we had aigs nearly ev'y mornin'.
"De only work I done on de plantation was to nuss some little [deleted] when dere mammy an' pappy wuz in de fiel's. Twarn't hard.
"Nawsuh! I ain't never seed no slave in chains. Massa Lee wuz a good man. He had a church built called de brush house, dat had a flo' and some seats, an' a top made outen pine boughs, an' massa's Pa, Mr. Cato, would preach eve'y Sunday. We sung songs lak 'I heered de Voice Of Jesus Say, an' 'I'se Gwine Home to Die no Mo'. We was all babtized in de creek, but none of us was taught to read or write.
"No-suh, I ain't never seed no slave run away. Us was treated fine. Our folks was quality. We had plenty som'n t'eat, but dem slaves hadda work powerful hard though. Atter dey come home fum de fiel's dey was so tired dat dey go raght to sleep, except when de massa had barbecues. Christmas was de big time; dere was several days to res' an' make merryln' an' lots of dem no count [deleted] got drunk. "When Us slaves was sick, Massa Lee would send to Eufaula to fetch Dr. Thornton to give us some medicine. We had de bes' treatment ever. "Yassuh, white folks, dem days is long ago. All my chilluns done died or wandered away an' my ole man been dead goin' on twenty years. I been here a long time by myself."
"Aunt Molly," I interrupted. "There's one thing I've always been wanting to ask one of you ex-slaves, and that is: what you thought of people like Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis and Booker T. Washington." A puzzled expression came over the face of the old Negro. "White folks," she said after a moments deliberation, "I don't believes I is had de pleasure of meetin' dem gent'mens."
Wash. Copy, 5/25/37. L.H.
Well of course. The ex-slaves must all suffer from Alzheimers, or be insane. To yankees, the ex-slaves are all liars and idiots, and are not to be believed.
Good. All you rebs get on board and tell us how great slavery was. Tell us stupid Yankees what a boon it was for blacks. Get it on the record, so we all know what you really stand for.
I didn't say anyone was "glorifying" slavery. I said they are suggesting that it wasn't that bad. And they are. As for "the source", we have less than a dozen anecdotals out of something like 7 million slaves.
"VARIOUS DECEPTIONS ARE USED IN THE
DISPOSAL OF SICK SLAVES"
Alexander Falconbridge describes the reaction of enslaved Africans to their sale.
When the ships arrive in the West Indies (the chief mart for this inhuman merchandize), the slaves are disposed as I have before observed by different methods. Sometimes the mode of disposal is that of selling them by what is termed a scramble, and a day is soon fixed for that purpose. Previously the sick or refuse slaves, of which there are frequently many, are usually conveyed on shore and sold at a tavern, by vendue or public auction. These in general are purchased...upon speculation, at so low a price as five or six dollars a head. I was informed by a mulatto woman that she purchased a sick slave at Grenada, upon speculation, for the small sum of one dollar, as the poor wretch was apparently dying of the flux. It seldom happens that any who are carried ashore in the emaciated state to which they are generally reduced by that disorder long survive after their landing. I once saw sixteen conveyed on shore and sold in the foregoing manner, the whole of whom died before I left the island. Sometimes the captains march their slaves through the town at which they intend to dispose of them, and then place them in rows where they are examined and purchased.
The mode of selling them by scramble having fallen under my observation the oftenest, I shall be more particular in describing it. Being some years ago, at one of the islands in the West Indies, I was witness to a sale by scramble, where about 250 Negroes were sold. Upon this occasion all the Negroes scrambled for bear an equal price; which is agreed upon between the captains and the purchasers before the sale begins. On a day appointed, the Negroes were landed and placed together in a large yard belonging to the merchants to whom the ship was consigned. As soon as the hour agreed on arrived, the doors of the yard were suddenly thrown open and in rushed a considerable number of purchasers, with all the ferocity of brutes. Some instantly seized such of the Negroes as they could conveniently lay hold of with their hands. Others being prepared with several handkerchiefs tied together, encircled as many as they were able. While others, by means of a rope, effected the same purpose. It is scarcely possible to describe the confusion of which this mode of selling is productive. It likewise causes much animosity among the purchasers who not infrequently fall out and quarrel with each other. The poor astonished Negroes were so terrified by these proceedings, that several of them, through fear climbed over the walls of the courtyard and ran wild about the town, but were soon hunted down and retaken....
Various deceptions are used in the disposal of sick slaves and many of these must excite in every humane mind the liveliest sensations of horror. I have been well informed that a Liverpool captain boasted of his having cheated some Jews by the following stratagem. A lot of slaves afflicted with the flux, being about to be landed for sale, he directed the ship's surgeons to stop the anus of each of them with oakum. Thus prepared they were landed and taken to the accustomed place of sale, where, being unable to stand but for a very short time, they were usually permitted to sit. The buyers, when they examined them, oblige them to stand up in order to see if there be any discharge; and when they do not perceive this appearance they consider it as a symptom of recovery. In the present instance, such an appearance being prevented, the bargain was struck and the slaves were accordingly sold. But it was not long before discovery ensued. The excruciating pain which the prevention of a discharge of such an acrimonious nature occasioned, not being able to be borne by the poor wretches, the temporary obstruction was removed and the deluded purchasers were speedily convinced of the imposition.
Source: Alexander Falconbridge, An Account of the Slave Trade on the Coast of Africa (London, 1788).
God vindicated the Union.
As to Yankee soldiers being truly horrendous, I'm sure it was true--often judgment comes through a people not as good as those being judged... Ancient Israel was time and again invaded by peoples much less righteous than its own, check the Old Testament...and God used them in His judgment on Israel. Modern America should remember this when we deal with terrorism... Although I may be pilloried for saying so, our first line of defense is repentance.
For instance, my ex-wife's ancestors from Alabama owned a few slaves. Every year, during the family reunion, her elderly family members always talked of one of the slaves in particular. See, after the war was over, and he was free to go as he pleased, but he chose to stay. The Langston family was his family, and they loved him. You may be laughing, but it is true. He stayed with the family, and was paid for his work, well into the 20th century. He was even listed in the wills of family members, just a if he were blood related. Finally upon his death, he was buried in the cemetary plot with the other family members.
This man chose to stay, and was endeared by the family, and still is to this day. The history books are definitely not 100% accurate. I guess you may have to be a southerner to truly get it, though.
Then you disagree with George Washington:
"Your sentiments that are affairs are rapidly drwaing to a crisis, accord with my own. What the event will be is also beyond the reach of my foresight. We have errors to correct. We have probably had too good an opinion of human nature in forming our confederation. Experience has taught us, that men will not adopt & carry into execution, measures the best calculated for their own good without a coercive power. I do not conceive we can exist long as a nation, without having lodged somewhere a power which will pervade the whole Union in as energetic a manner, as the authority of the different state governments extends over the several States. To be fearful of vesting Congress, constituted as that body is, with ample authorities for national purposes, appears to me the very climax of popular absurdity and madness."
Washington to John Jay, August 19, 1786
Quoted from "Washington; Writings", The Library of America, John Rhodehamel, ed.
Funny how the neo-rebs have to buck the founders all the time.
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