The Slave Narrative Collection
An OKGenWeb Special Project
Age __ Years
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
In asking him questions he would reply as following:
Born in Crenshaw County, Alabama. I don't know my age; they never told me my age.
My mother was name Polly Nichols before she married my father whose name was Henry Jordan. After they were married my father had permission to leave his Master's plantation and come over to her Master's plantation to see her twice a week, viz: Wednesdays and Saturday nights. My father was a half Cherokee Indian. I was the only child. I was not old enough to work before freedom. I played in the streets of days whole my mother and father worked for Master Nichols and Jordan. I had one pair of shoes a year for winter. There were no schools so us children only played during the days.
Our beds were made of striped ticking cloth with a long slit in the middle where grass or shucks was stuffed in and could be sewed up, they termed, making up the beds for soft sleeping. The beds were made of wood when there was a bed.
The only food we had was furnished us from Master's smoke house.
There were no individual gardens. The cooking was done on fireplaces in pots, skillets with lids and corn cakes called Jonny cakes roasted or baked on the hearth. The plantation was 4 miles long and far in width.
There were about 75 or 100 slaves on the plantation who worked as early as they could see and till 'twas too late or dark to see, and sometime on bright moon shiny nights.
The slaves were no taught to read till after freedom. At nights the slaves would at nights slip around in the quarters and even from plantation to plantation as they worked from Monday morning till Saturday nights. On Sunday morning they would go and get their rations for the week consisting most of meal, meat, black molasses, lard, rice, a cooking of flour for Sunday, and some seasoning, as salt, soda, etc.
After freedom I courted and married girl in Montgomery County, which joined my county. She was named Mattie Murray and my first wife.
My master owned two large plantations joining each other and his house sat about the middle of them. His house was a big 2 story white house with a large yard in which a large ration house called smoke house sat off to one side. He had 6 children, 2 boys and 4 girls. The quarters were long, and built of logs and called Nichols Quarters.
There were two overseers, one for each plantation and they both poor and mean. They would punish by whipping with bullwhip if the slaves failed to work to suit them.
The slaves wuz not taught at all but some of them managed to learn to read and write by another slave. My master bought and when the overseers found out that this Negro could read and write and was teaching the other slaves they whipped him giving him 500 lashes and cut off his index finger so that he could not write nor teach the other slaves.
After freedom a teacher from the North was sent to teach the slaves. This white lady taught our school and slaves for 2 years. Her name was Miss. Clanzy and the blue back speller was our school book. For some reason she went back home and a man, Mr. Cottridge, come in her place. Each morning he would read the Bible and pray and then teach Bible lessons to us. He was a whale of a good teacher.
As my Master had so many slaves, now and then one would run away and as he also kept 5 or 6 Negro hounds in which to catch them these hounds would run all through the quarters and through the Negro houses hunting for runaway slaves and wouldn't bother any of the other Negroes but would catch the runaway and if the runaway would fight them they would jump on him and bite him so badly they would have to get a doctor for him, and if he didn't fight them they would just find him and stand around him and bark tremendously until Master and overseers came. sometimes some of the runaways would kill hounds and get away and some of them would smear fresh cow manure under the bottom of their feet so that the blood hounds couldn't scent them.
In asking him did you ever see any patrollers he replied: "I seen them but I never ha any tarry with um."
When a slave took sick the overseers would go to see about them and if serious would get a doctor who would come and give them blue-mass pills. If one would die they would make one of the slaves take him in a wagon and take him to the woods and dig a little hole and put him in.
The Negro slaves were very superstitious and believed in voodoo-ism. All of them wore a silver dime on a raw cotton thread around the ankles to keep from being voodooed.
On the day that the Yankees came and set us free, he says, "A dark cloud rose and brought darkness almost as night and the sun wasn't down." The Yankees after freedom also came to see that the Negroes attended school and the white people didn't bother them. They would put up tents in the quarters and stay around and see that the Negroes attended school each day.
As there were no land for the Negroes they continued to live in the quarters.
My first wife was named Mattie Murray. We had 12 children to live. After her death I married Magel Jordan and we had 1 child. I don't know much about my children by my first wife as they are still in Alabama. The child by my second wife is here with 2 grandchildren.
In reply as to what he things of Abraham Lincoln he ways: "Well never git anothern." In reply as to Jeff Davis he said, "Jeff Davis was like Thomas Heffling, 'I don't know nothing good of 'em and can't say anything good 'bout um."
Thomas Heffling, he said, was a Congressman from Georgia who went about making speeches after freedom and persuading Negroes to vote democratic tickets. I was freed by the republicans and will die a republican.
Heffling said in one of his speeches he was making to a white crowd that: "We educate Negroes to do what we tell them and if they don't we'll hang them to a limb."
In asking him about Booker T. Washington he said I think him a great man and next to Lincoln.
After freedom he said the Negroes made up this song:
"Hung Jeff Davis in the sour apple tree,
Hung Jeff Davis in the sour apple tree,
Hung Jeff Davis in the sour apple tree
Now we go marching home."
sung to the tune of the chorus of Glory, Glory Hallelujah.
I asked him: "How hat slavery is over what do you thing of it," He says, "Well I can't come down on our Master," he replies in these words, "I Can't come down on um so much prependicular as he bought um, he ought to own um and have um."
This last question created upstir in the old man that he cried most sadly when I asked my concerning the overseer as poor white trash. He said, "You ask me dat question and I never talk to nobody 'bout dis," he said, "I seen him one day strip my mother's clothes down to her waist and made her own blood brother hold her while he beat her and that stirs my soul today and I don't want nobody to ask me bout it. I don't talk 'bout it to nobody, I hate to thing 'bout that dirty dog."
Contributed by M. Dawson, 05/06/03