The Slave Narrative Collection
An OKGenWeb Special Project
Age 83 Years
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
I was born September 10, 1854. I am the second child of five. My mother was named Sylvestus Mack and my father Booker Huddleston. I do not remember my mother's master, 'cause he died before I was born. My Mistress was named Nancy Mack. She was the mother of six children, four boys and two girls. Three of dem boys went to the War and one packed and sent off somewhar and nobody heard from him doing the whole War. But soon as the War was over he come home and he never told whar he had been.
I never saw but one grown person flogged during slavery and dat was my mother. The younger son of my mistress whipped her one morning in de kitchen. His name was Jack. De slaves on Mistress' place was treated so good, all de people round and 'bout called us "Mack's Free Niggers." Dis was 14 miles northwest of Liberty County seat of Bedford County, Virginia.
One day while de War was going on, my Mistress got a letter from her son Jim wid jest one line. Dat was "Mother: jack's brains spattered on my gun this morning." That was all he written.
Jack Huddleston owned my father, who was his half-brother, and he was the meanest man I ever seen. He flogged my father with tobacco sticks and my mother after these floggings, which I never seen, had to pick splinters out of his back. My father had to slip off at night to come to visit us. He lived a mile and a half from our house on the south side of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and it sho' is a rocky country. He'd oversleep hisself and git up running. We would stand in our door and hear him running over them rocks 'til he got home. He was trying to git dere before his master called him.
It was a law among the slave-holders that if you left you master's place, you had to have a pass, for if the patroller caught you without one, he would give you 9 and 30 lashes and carry you to your master, and if he was mean, you got the same again!
On the 3-goot fireplace my mother and father cooked ash cakes and my father having to run to work, had to wash his cakes off in a spring betwixt our house and his. My mother was the cook in the Big House.
All the time we would see "nigger traders" coming through the country. I hve seen men and women cuffed to 60 foot chains being took to Lynchburg, Va., to the block to be sold. Now I am talking 'bout what I know, for it would not mean one thing for me to lie. I ain't jest heard dis. My uncle John was a carpenter and always took Mistress' chillun to school in a two horse surrey. On sech trips, the chillun learned my uncle to read and write. Dey slipped and done this, for it was a law among slave holders that a slave not be caught wid a book.
One morning when I was on my way to de mill with a sack of corn, I had to go down the main pike. I saw sech a fog 'til I rid close enought to see what was gwine on. I heard someone say "close up." I was told since dat it was Hood's Raid. They took every slave that could carry a gun. It was at dis time, Negroes went into de service. Lee was whipping Grant two battles to one 'til them raids, and den Grant whipped Lee two battles to one, 'cause he had Negroes in the Union Army. Dey took Negroes and all de white people's food. Dey killed chickens and picked dem on horseback. I never will forgit that time long as I live.
Ever Day I had to get the mail for three families. I carried it around in a bag and each family took his'n out. I guess I was one of the first Negro Mailmen.
We had church on the place and had right good meetings. Everybody went and took part in the service. We had to have passes to go off the place to the meetings.
The children wore just one garment from this time of year, spring, till the frost fell. Mistress' daughters made dese. We sure kept healthy and fat.
I will be 83 years of age September 10, 1937 and am enjoying my second eyesight. I could not see a thing hardly for some few years, but now I can read sometimes without glasses. I keep my lawn in first class shape and work all the time. I think this is 'cause I never was treated bad during slavery.
Contributed by M. Dawson, 05/06/03