The Slave Narrative Collection
An OKGenWeb Special Project
We strongly recommend that you read the information below from the Library of Congress explaining the language used in these interviews.
William WaltersTulsa, Oklahoma
Age 85 Yrs.
Mammy Ann (that was my mother) was owned by Mistress Betsy, and lived on the Bradford Plantation in Relsford County, Tennessee, when I was born 1852.
My daddy, Jim Walters, then lived in Nashville, where my mammy carried me when she ran away from the Mistress after the Rebs and Yanks started to fight. My daddy died in Nashville in 1875.
We were runaway slaves. The slipper-offers were often captured, but Mammy Ann and her little boy William (that's me) escaped the sharp eyes of the patrollers and found refuge with a family of northern sympathisers living in Nashville.
Nashville was a fort town, filled with trenches and barricades. Right across the road from where we stayed was a vacant block used by the Rebs as an emergence place for treating the wounded.
I remember the boom of cannons one whole day, and I heard the rumble of army wagons as they crossed through the town. But there was nothing to see as the fog of powder smoke became thicker with every blast of Sesesh cannon.
When the smoke and fog cleared away I watched the wounded being carried to the clearing across the road - fighting men with arms shot off, legs gone, faces blood smeared - some of them just laying there cussing God and Man with their dying breath!
Those were awful times. Yet I have heard many of the older Negroes say the old days were better.
such talk always seemed to me but an expression of sentiment for some good old master, or else the older Negroes were just too handicapped with ignorance to recognise the benefits of liberty or the opportunities of freedom.
But I've always been proud of my freedom, and pound of my old mother who faced death for her freedom and mine when she escaped from the Bradford plantation a long time before freedom came to the Negro race as a whole.
Contributed by M. Dawson, May 2002