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Sam Rhodes

Age 91

Tulsa, Oklahoma

On February 25, 1847, I was born on the plantation of Hugh Crawford in Franklin District of Georga. Dat's where my mother, Cenie Crawford, was born too, but my daddy was born a free Negro, only dey stole him and sold him into slavery.

His name was Ned Rhodes, and he had a brother and sister. all living in Washington, D. C., when they was children. Dey all three stolen at the same time and carried to the South; sold for slaves they was, and dat how I come to be born into slavery.

My folks had 10 children besides me. I can name them right off: Maria, Ned, Manda, Millie, Freeman, Sarah, King, Fannie and George.

Master Crawford had a daughter name of Melinda and she married Sam Vernon, who lived in the Pickens district, South Carolina. The master give our whole family to them for a wedding present and we went with them when they moved somewhere in North Carolina.

Dat platation was in a hilly section, and it took about 20 slaves for the raising of grain, like corn and wheat, and a little cotton. Dat was hard ground to work, and we worked 10 hours a day, except on Sunday and sometime on a Saturday we get a little time off like it was a holiday.

We lived in a log cabin just like all the rest. Chinked with clay it was, with a tone fireplace where mammy done the cooking. Dere was plenty of wild game for all of us, and whatever it was, possum, rabbit, turkey or fish, mammy cook it up just right for our hungry bellies and mix it in with some good garden stuff from the master's garden; but best of all I liked the possum best, and still do. Give me dat possum, done baked brown with sweet potatoes steaming hot inside their yellow skins, and I is content! Mostly we had corn bread, but biscuits was pretty scattering.

Master Vernon was good to us, never whip us, and look after the work hisself. Kept us in shoes too, said nobody could work good with hurting feet; he sure is right.

He lived in a big frame house, just one story , fixed up with mighty fine furniture. The house had one large stone fireplace, dat all I remember.

Dere was some poor white lived around us, and some not so poor, and some pretty well fixed. Dere was a slave trader live not far away, and when he sell a batch of slaves dey would pass by our place. All chained up dey was; a trace chain was locked around their necks and fastened to the wagon. The same way when he buy new slaves and bring dem back home. Mostly dey was young slaves for no one got any use for an old Negro; just like dey is today. The buyers  was always on the watch for big breasted women; dey got a bigger price then for the scrawny ones. 

At the corn shuckings we got news from the other plantations. One time I hear about the patrollers catch up with some boys and girls who went to a dance without a pass. The patrollers flogged dem pretty hard and took dem home. My mammy was a kind of herb doctor and when a cold get us children she bil up pine tops and steam our heads; for measles she give sheep-shire tea to bring dem out quicker, I guess.

About the war; don't know much about it for dere was no fighting around where we live. One of my brothers went with the Rebels and we never hear from him again.

lincoln was the best president we ever had, but Jeff Davis was just as good, only he was on the wrong side. For slavery is cruel, and it was cruel to sell the mammy and pappy away from their little babies and children like dey did Frank Verden's wife. Where she went nobody know and nobody ever hear of her again. Dat can't happen now.

Wind stuff! Dat's what dem stoies about ghosts and voodoo is, all wind stuff. I never see any such thin and I never hear any such thing. Wind Stuff, like when the Yankees say I was free and going to get 40 acres of good lands. Instead, I just got to stay on the same plantation and work for part of the crops and get too old to work. Dat what I get.

And I don't like the restricted suffrage business a bit. I think the Negroes should have the same privileges as the whites, and whould be equal.

I married Lizzie Batton in Franklin County, Georgia. We had 10 children; Frank, John, Connie, Mary, Annie, Olive, Cordia, J. C,, Florence and Maude. All except Maude is dead. She teaches school in Tulsa and I live with her. Dere's seven grandchildren, doing one thing and another, living here and dere.

Contributed by M. Dawson, 05/06/03


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