In the 1930’s, different historians, folklorists, and others as a part of the Works Progress Administration, made a point to interview the aging population of black Americans who were alive before the Civil War and remembered slavery. They collected more than 2,300 narratives and memoirs called the WPA American Slave Narratives. They are available in their entirety on the Library of Congress’s website. I am providing you with 11 selections of men and women telling their stories about life before the Civil War. These selections can be found on the main Moodle course page titled “WPA Narrative” under this assignment. Your assignment is to write a 3 page essay examining the narratives I have provided answering this question: in what ways were the roles of African American men significantly different from the roles of African American women before the Civil War? There are many ways to approach this essay, but my recommendation is to approach the topic thematically. Pick 2-3 themes, like family, work, or health, etc., create an argument and use the sources to support your argument. Students will be evaluated on their thesis, their ability to use the sources to support their thesis, their overall comprehensive approach to the topic, as well as their clarity of writing.http://content.time.com/time/classroom/unchained/pdfs/student.pdf
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400 East Grand Avenue
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Bertha P. Tipton, Reporter
Oklahoma Writers Project
Oklahoma Historical Society
1. I was 88 years old 15th of last March. Born March 15, 1839 at Jackson Parish, La. My mother’s name is Mary
Marlow, an’ father Henry Marlow.
2. Lets see, I cannot remembah very much ’bout slavery ’cause you know I was awful small, but I can remembuh
that my mother’s master, Colonel Threff died, an’ my mother, her husband and we three chillun was handed
down to Colonel Threff’s po’ kin folks. Chile Colonel Threff owned about two or three hundred head o’ niggers,
and all of ’em was tributed to his po’ kin. Ooh wee! he had jest a lot o’ dem po’ kin. Marster Joe Threff, one of
his po’ kin took my mother, her husband and three of us chillun fum Louisiana to the Mississippi line.
3. Down thar I worked ’round the house an’ looked aftah de smaller chillun, I mean my mother’s chillun.
4. We lived in a one room log hut, and slept on homemade rail bed steads wid cotton, an’ sum times straw, mos’ly
straw summers an’ cotton winners.
5. My mother died rite heah in dis house. She was 111 yeahs old. She been dead ’bout 20 yeahs.
6. Diden no any Crismus was in dem days.
7. I got great great gran’ chillun heah, rite heah.
8. We et yeller meal corn bread an’ sorghum molasses. I et possums but coulden stan’ rabbit.
9. I can’t membuh nuthin’ ’bout no churches in slavery. I was a sinner an’ luv to dance I remembuh I was on the
floor one nite dancing an I had fo’ daughters on the floor wid me an’ mah son was playing de music – That got
me, I jest stopped and said I woulden cut another step.
10. Know nothing ’bout Abe Lincoln. Heard of ‘im.
11. Know nothing ’bout Jeff Davis. Heard of ‘im.
12. Know nothing ’bout Booker T. Washington. Heard of im
13. Know nothing ’bout patterollers. Heard ’em talkin’ ’bout ’em.
14. Yas, we had a overseers an’ my mother said he was the meanest man on earth. He’d jest go out in de fields and
beat dem niggers, an’ my mother tole me one day he come out in de field beatin’ her sister an’ she jumped on
‘im an’ nelly beat ‘im half to death an’ ole Marster come up jest in time to see it all an’ fired dat overseer. Said he
diden want no man working fer ‘im dat a woman could whip.
15. Remembah just a little ’bout de war. De soljers had on blue clothes. Membuh lot of talk ’bout 4th of August
16. My pappy moved us away an’ stayed ‘roun down dare ’till I got to be a grown woman an’ married. You know I
had a pretty fare weddin’ ’cause my pappy had worked hard an’ commence to be prospus. He had cattle, hogs,
chicken an’ all dat.
17. A college of dem niggers got togedder an’ pack up to leave Louisiana in March. We had covered wagons, an’
chile let me tell you I walked nally all the way fum Louisiana to Oklahoma. We left in March, diden git heah ’till
May. Came in soch of ejecation. I got a pretty fare ejecation down dar but diden take care of it. We come to
Oklahoma looking for de same thang then dat darkies go north looking fer now. We got dissipinted.
18. I luv to fish. Chile I’ve woiked hard in my days. Washed an’ ironed for thirty years. Paid fur dis home. Yes dis is
19. Never did go to school ’till aftah the surrender. Commence going to school in Memphis. What little I learnt I quit
takin’ care of it and seeing aftah it an’ lost it all.
20. I’m a membuh of the Baptist Church an’ been for 25 or thirty years. I jined ’cause I wanted to be good ’cause I
was a awful sinner.
21. I have three daughters here married. You know Sussie Pruitt, don’tcha? Bertie Shannon an’ Irene Freeman. Irene
lost her husband.
Cauthier, Sheldon F. 9-16-37
Tarrant Co., Dist. #7(Yes)
Andy J. Anderson, 94, was born a slave to Mr. Jack Haley, who also owned Andy’s parents with 12 other families
and a plantation located in Williamson Co., Tex. In view of the fact that all slaves used the name of their owner,
Andy was known as Andy Haley but after his freedom, he changed his name to Anderson, the name his father
used because he was owned by a Mr. Anderson before his sale to Mr. Haley. Shortly after the Civil War began,
Andy was sold to Mr. W. T. House, of Blanco Co., Tex., who sold him again in less than a year to his brother, Mr.
John House. After the Emancipation Act became effective, Andy was hired by a Mr. Whisterman. His first wages
were his clothes, room and board with $2.00 per mo. He farmed all of his life and has been married three times,
now living with his third wife and eight of his children at 301 Armour St., Ft. Worth, Tex. His story:
1. “My name am Andy J. Anderson an’ I’s bo’n on Marster Jack Haley’s plantation in Williamson County, Texas.
Marster Haley owned my folks an’ ’bout 12 udder fam’lies ob cullud folks.
2. “How come I’s took de name ob Anderson, ‘stead ob Haley? It am dis away, my pappy was owned by Marster
Anderson who sold him to Marster Haley, so he goes by de name ob Anderson. Dey use to call me Haley but
aftah Surrendah, I’se change de name to Anderson to have it de same as my pappy’s.
3. “I’s bo’n in 1843. Dat makes me 94 yeahs ol’, an’ 18 yeahs ol’ w’en de war stahted. Tharfo’, dis nigger has seen a
good deal of slave life an’ some hahd ‘speriences dunn’ dat time an’ good times too.
4. “Marster Haley am kind to his cullud folks. In fact, him am kind to ever’body an’ all de folks lak him. Whuppin’s
am not given ‘cept w’en it am necessary an’ dat am not often an’ am reasonable w’en it am given. De udder w’ite
folks use to call weuns de petted niggers.
5. “De plantation have 12 fam’lies ob slaves. Thar am ’bout 30 ol’ an’ young workers an’ ’bout 20 piccaninnies dat
am too young fo’ work. Dem dat am too young fo’ work am took care ob by a nurse durin’ de day w’ile de
mammies am a workin’ in de field an sich.
6. “I’s gwine to ‘splain how it am managed on Marster Haley’s place. Marster Haley am a good manager an’
ever’one am ‘signed to do certain jobs. It am diffe’nt now, dan ’twas den. A plantation am sort ob lak de small
town. Ever’thing dat am used on de place am made thar. So, thar am de shoemaker. Him also am de tanner an’
make de leathah f’om de hides.
7. “Thar am ’bout 1,000 sheep on de Marster’s place, so thar am de person dat ‘tends to de sheep an’ de wool. De
sheep am sheared twice a yeah.
8. “De wool am carded, spun an’ weaved into cloth an’ f’om dat cloth, all de clothes am made. Thar am ’bout 25
head ob cattle, sich p’vides de milk an’ buttah, also beef meat fo’ eatin’. Den thar am turkeys, chickens, hawgs
9. “De plantation am planted in cotton, mosly. Co’se, dere am co’n an’ wheat. De con am fo’ feed fo’ de stock an’ to
make co’n meal fo’ de humans. De wheat am fo’ to make flouah. Mars- ter don’ sell any co’n or wheat, ‘less if he
have extra. Cotton am w’at he raised fo’ sale.
10. “Let me tell yous how we cut an’ thresh de wheat. Thar am no binders, or threshin’ machines, so weuns cut de
wheat by han’, usin’ a cradle. To thresh de grain, it am hung over a rail wid de heads down, an’ de heads am beat
wid a stick. Dat knocks de kernels out an’ dey falls on a canvass dat am spread to catch dem. Now, to clean de
wheat, weuns have to wait fo’ a day w’en de wind am blowin’ jus’ right. W’en dat day comes, weuns pick de
wheat up wid pails, raise it up an’ pour it out an’ de wind blows de chaff an’ sich away.
11. “De livin’ fo’ de cullud folks am good. De quatahs am built f’om logs lak deys all am in dem days. De flooah am
dirt but weuns have a table an’ bench, a bunk wid straw ticks on fo’ sleepin’ pupose, an’ a fiah place fo’ cookin’
an’ heat. Marster ‘lows plenty ob good rations, but he watch close fo’ de wastin’ oh de food.
12. “De wah stahts an’ dat makes a big change on de Marster’s place. De Marster j’ins de ahmy an’ hires a man
named Delbridge fo’ overseer to he’p de Marster’s son, John. Den, in ’bout three months, de soldiers come an’
took Marster John to de ahmy by fo’ce. Deys put him on a hoss an’ tooks him away.
13. “Thar come pretty neah bein’ some hu’t niggers de day deys took Marster John away. You see, weuns don’ know
dey had de right to took Marster ‘way, so weuns cullud folks crowded ‘roun’ de Marster an’ warnt gwine to ‘low
dem to took him. De Marster tol’ weuns to go ‘way ’cause de soldiers have de right to took him an’ weuns jus’ git
hu’t if weuns try to stop de soldiers, so weuns dispatched.
14. “Aftah Marster John am took away an’ de overseer am lef’ in whole charge, hell stahts to pop. De fust thing he
does am to cut de rations. He weigh out de meat, three pounds to de person fo’ de week an’ he measures out a
peck ob meal, ‘twarnt ‘nough. He ha’f starve do niggers an’ demands mo’ wo’k an’ he stahts de whuppin’s. I’s
guess he ‘cides to edumacate dem. I’s guess Delbridge went to hell w’en he died.. .I’s don’ think he go dat far,
though. I’s don’ see how de devil could stand him.
15. “Weuns cullud folks on Marster’s place am not used to sich treatment an’ some run off. W’en deys am catched,
thar am a whuppin’ at de stake. Thar am a couple ob de runaway niggers dat am never catched.
16. “I’s ‘scaped de worst ob Delbridge ’cause he sol’ me. I’s sol’ to Marster W.T. House ob Blanco County. I’s sho glad
w’en I’s sol’, but it am sho’t gladness. W.T. House am anudder man dat hell am too good fo’. I’s not on dat place
long, jus’ a few months ’til I’s sol’ to his brothah, John House, who had a big plantation close by.
17. “I’s git one whuppin’ while on de W.T. House place. De scahs am on my ahms, see thar, an’ on my back too. Dem
I’s will carry to my grave. De whuppin’ I’s git am fo’ de cause as I’s will ‘splain. ‘Twas dis away; De overseer sent
me fo’ de dry fiah wood. W’en I’s gits de wood loaded an’ stahts to drive, de wheel hits a sho’t stump, de team
jerks an’ dat breaks de whippletree. I’s tries to fix dat so dat de load could be hauled in. I’s delayed quite a spell
while de cook am waitin’ fo’ de wood. Aftah I’s tries an’ tries, it am necessary fo’ me to walk to de bahn fo’
anudder whippletree. De overseer am at de bahn wen I’s gits dere. He am gittin’ ready to staht aftah me. I’s tell
w’at am de delay. Me am poweful mad ’cause I’s hit de stump an’ sich.
18. “De overseer ties me to de stake an’ ever’ ha’f hour, fo’ fouah hours, deys lay 10 lashes on my back. Fo’ de fust
couple ob hours, de pain am awful. I’s never fo’git it. Aftah I’s stood dat fo’ a couple oh hours, I’s could not feel
de pain so much an’ w’en dey took me loose, I’s jus’ ha’f dead. I’s could not feel de lash ’cause my body am
numb, an’ my mind am numb. De last thing I’s ‘membahs am dat I’s wishin’ fo’ death. I’s laid in de bunk fo’ two
days gittin’ over dat whuppin’. Dat is, gittin’ over it in de body but not in de heart. No Sar! I’s have dat in my
heart ’til dis day.
19. “Aftab dat whuppin’, I’s don’t have my heart in de wo’k fo’ de Marster. If I’s see some cattle in de co’n field, I’s
tu’n my back ‘stead ob chasm’ dem out. I’s guess de Marster sees dat I’s not to be d’pended on an’ dat’s m’ybe
de reason he sol’ me to his brothah, John.
20. “John House am jus’ de udder way f’om his brothah ’bout de treatment ob de cullud folks. Marster John never
hit a nigger.
21. “W’en surrendah am ‘nounced, Marster right away tells his niggers dat dey am free. He calls allus together an’
tells weuns dat it am jus’ a sho’t time ’til de o’dah fo’ to free de niggers will be given. He says, “Now, dem who
stays will be paid wages, or weuns shall ‘range fo’ wo’kin’ de land on shares”. Whar he am a talkin’ am in de field
undah a big tree. I’s standim’ neah him an dere’s whar my big mouth gits me all fustup.
22. “De Marster finished his statement asayin’, “All yous niggers can stay wid me”. I’s says to myse’f, not loud ‘nough
fo’ anyone to heah, I’s thinks, but de Marster heahs me w’en I’s says, “Lak hell I’s will”.
23. “Now, I’s don’t mean anything ‘gainst de Marster. W’at I’s mean am dat I’s gwine to take my freedom, but he
took it to mean something else. Something ‘gainst him an’ he says:
24. “W’at is dat yous says, nigger?”
25. “Nothin’, Nothin Marster”, I’s says.
26. “I’s heahs yous an’ I’s will ‘tend to yous later”, he says.
27. W’en dat took place, it am ’bout one hour by sun. I’s ‘gain talk to mysef, but I’s sho keeps my lips closed. I’s says,
“I’s wont be heah long.”
28. “I’s not realize wat I’s am in fo’ ’til aftah I’s stahted, but ‘cose I’s couldn’t tu’n back. Fo’ to tu’n back m’ybe mean a
whuppin’ an’ to go on means dangah f’om de Patter Rollers. Dere I’s was, but I’s kep’ on gwine. De Patter Roller’s
duties am to watch fo’ de nigger dat am widout de pass. No nigger am s’posed to be off his Marster’s place ‘less
he have de statement f’om him. If de Patters catch me, deys would give me a whuppin’ an’ took me back to de
Marster. Well, him am already mad over w’at I’s says an’ I’s ‘spected a whuppin’ dere, so dis nigger am in a
29. “I’s travel at night an’ ever’time I’s see someone acomin’, dis nigger sho hide ’til deys pass out oh de way. In de
day, I’s keeps hidden in de brush wid no an’ no wautah ‘cept w’en I’s come to a creek. I’s sho gittin’ weak an’
tired de second night. Twice I’s sho de Patters pass wile I’s hidin’.
30. “I’s den 21 yeahs ol’ but it am de fust time dat I’s go any place, ‘cept to de neighbahs so I’s worried ’bout de right
way to Marster Haley’s place. However, de monin’ ob de third day, I’s come to de Marster’s place, tired, hongry
an’ skeert ’bout de overseer ’cause Marster Haley am not home f’om de ahmy yet. I’s sho wants to keep away
f’om Delbridge, so I’s waits my chance to see pappy. W’en I’s did, he sho am s’prised to see me. Den I’s tol’ him
w’at I’s done an’ he hides me in his cabin. Dere I’s stay fo’ a week, den luck comes to me w’en Marster Haley
31. “De Marster came home at night. De next mo’nin’ befo’ noon, Delbridge am shunt off de place. W’en de Marster
gits up in de mo’nin , he looks at de niggers. Deys all are ga’nt an’ lots have run off an’ de fields am not p’operly
plowed. Dere am ’bout ha’f ob his sheep lef’, an’ de same wid ever’thing.
32. “De Marster called Delbridge, an’ soon aftah, Hell am a poppin’. De Marster says to him, “Whar is my sheep,
chickens, hawgs, an’ all de udder stuff? W’at about dem ga’nt niggers, an’ w’at did yous do wid de rations?”
Delbridge stahts to talk an’ de Marster says befo’ he could says a word, “Shut up! Dere am no words can ‘splain
w’at yous done. Git off my place befo’ I’s smash yous!” Den ‘twarnt long ’til Delbridge am gwine down de road
wid his bundle.
33. “I’s stay wid Marster Haley ’til freedom am o’dered. Den I’s hired out to Marster Whisterman fo’ $2.00 a month
wid de clothes an’ boa’d. De work was fahm work. All my life, I’s follow fahm work.
34. “I’s mai’ied de fust time in 1883. Weuns had two chilluns but dey both died. Den in 1885, I’s mai’ied ‘gain. My
second wife died in 1934. If she had lived 15 days longah, weuns would have been together 50 yeahs. Dere was
six chilluns bo’n to weuns. Three am livin’ heah an’ one in Belton, de udders am dead. I’s mai’ied my present wife
on June 11th, 1936. Dere am no chilluns yet f’om my third mai’age.
35. “De last few yeahs, I’s not fahmed but worked at odd jobs an raise chickens on dis big lot I’s live on. Dere am not
much mo’ work fo’ dis person. Still, I’s healthy an’ able to work but de Bible says fouah score an’ ten, an’ I’s gittin’
R S. Taylor
1. Sixty-four* years ago there was born near Canton, in Madison County, Mississippi, a slave child that was
destined to show the possibilities of every American-born child of any race. It was a boy. His mother was subject
to the unhallowed conditions of that time. That her son was to be numbered among the leaders of his
generation was not to be thought of; that he should become the largest planter and land owner of his race and
state seemed impossible; that as a merchant and all-round business man, owning and operating the finest and
one of the largest mercantile establishments in his state was not to be dreamed of; that at the advanced age of
61 he would erect and operate successfully the largest excavating plant of its kind in Arkansas and one of the
only two in the entire southland was beyond conception. Yet, these things and many others equally remarkable
have been accomplished by the little Mississippi-born slave boy whose history these pages recount.
2. At the age of eighteen months, little Scott, removed with his mother to Collierville, Fayette County, Tennessee,
and at the age of five years removed with his mother and step-father, William Bond, to the Bond farm, Cross
County, Arkansas. The question of “States’ Rights’ was uppermost in the mind of the American people. Mighty
things were to happen that would settle forever this vexatious question. The south was drawing farther and
farther from the north. The north was declaring “Union forever.”
3. Bleeding Kansas! Forensic battles in the Congress of the United States! John Browns Raid! Then in April, 1861,
the first shot of the civil war crashed against the solid granite walls of old Fort Sumpter. What has all this to do
with some little obscure mulatto boy born on an obscure plantation somewhere down in Dixie? Just this: Had
these tremendous events not transpired and ended as they did, the country would have still kept in bondage a
race of men who have in fifty years – years of oppression and repression – shown to the world what America was
losing. Booker T. Washington would not have revolutionized the educational methods of the world. Granville T.
Woods would not have invented wireless telegraphy. There would have been no Negro troops to save the
roughriders on San Juan Hill. There would have been no Negro soldiers to pour out their lifeblood at Carrizal.
There would be no black American troops to offer to bare their dusky bosoms in the fiery hell beyond the seas
today in the mighty struggle for world democracy. Scott Bond would have had no opportunity to prove to the
world that if a man will he may.
*(This obviously should be ‘eighty-four.’ Editor’s note.)
Scott Bond’s Mother
4. I have said little about my mother. She was a slave and as such was housemaid. This brought her in close contact
with the white people and gave her training not common to the masses of colored women of her day. Her duties
were such however, that she could give but little attention to me. Still her sympathy and love for me was as
great as any woman ever bore in her bosom for a son. I can remember on one occasion when I was quite small
my heels were chapped. In those days, Negro boys were not allowed to wear shoes until 12 or 14 years of age.
When I would walk early in the morning or late in the evening, blood that would ooze from the cracks in my feet,
would mark my tracks.
5. On one occasion when my mother had finished her task as maid in the house she came to me late at night and
took me from my bed to look at my feet. In those days, tallow was the cure all. One of my heels was so chapped
and cracked open that one could almost lay his finger in the opening. She got some tallow and warmed it in a
spoon and having no idea how hot it was poured it into the crack in my heel. As I held my heel up and my toe on
the floor, the hot tallow filled the crack and ran down over my foot to my toes. I cried because of the intense
pain the hot grease caused. My mother quieted me as best she could and put me to bed. When she got up next
morning she examined my foot and to her amazement the hot tallow had raised a blister full length of my foot
as large as one’s finger. When she saw this she cried as if her heart would break and said as the tears streamed
down her cheeks: “I did not mean to burn my child. I did not dream the tallow was so hot.”
6. As mentioned before, slave boys rarely wore shoes until they were 12 or 14 years of age. It was great fun to go
“possum and coon hunting in those days or rather nights. Young Scott would take long trips through the woods
and swamps with the other slaves and would risk all the da …
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