Alex Smith and Elizabeth Smith

In this third person narrative, the interviewer briefly notes Alex Smith’s recollections of the Civil War, before comparing how their respective enslavers treated Alex and Elizabeth Smith.  The excerpt ends with the interviewer briefly describing Elizabeth Smith’s life after emancipation.
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…Although only a child of five, Mr. [Alex] Smith remembers the Civil War, especially the marching of thousands of soldiers, and the horse-drawn artillery wagons. The Stubblefields freed their slaves the first winter after the war.

On the Peter Stubblefield plantation, the slaves [including Elizabeth Smith] were treated very well and had plenty to eat, while on the Robert Stubblefield plantation Mr. [Alex] Smith went hungry many times, and said, “Often, I would see a dog with a bit of bread, and I would have been willing to take it from him if I had not been afraid the dog would bite me.”…

The day the mistress and master came and told the slaves they were free to go anyplace they desired, Mrs. Smith’s mother told her later that she was glad to be free but she had no place to go or any money to go with. Many of the slaves would not leave and she never witnessed such crying as went on. Later Mrs. Smith was paid for working. She worked in the fields for “vittles” [food] and clothes. A few years later she nursed children for twenty-five cents a week and “vittles,” but after a time she received fifty cents a week, board, and two dresses…

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Alex Smith and Elizabeth SmithUnknown (83), Unknown (83)Henrietta Karwowski Robert Stubblefield, Peter Stubblefield
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
South Bend, ININKY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Emancipation, Hunger, Civil War, EconomicsThird Person, Witnessed Extreme Cruelty, Union Troops