Anna Toll Smith

In this excerpt, the interviewer recounts the life of Anna Smith in the third person.  Anna Smith was married and had a young daughter when President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. In this excerpt, the interviewer describes Anna Smith’s memories of life as an enslaved person before and during the Civil War.  The excerpt ends with Anna Smith describing her emancipation.   

*Historically-used terms that are offensive, marginalizing and/or disparaging have been removed from the transcripts and replaced with [redacted].  See more information.
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… Mrs. Smith remembers her father who died at the age of 117 years.  Her oldest brother was 50 when he joined the confederate army. Three other brothers were sent to the front [to fight in the Civil War]. One was an ambulance attendant, one belonged to the cavalry, one an orderly seargeant [sic] and the other joined the infantry. All were killed in action. Anna Smith’s husband later joined the war and was reported killed.  

When she became old enough for service she was taken into the “Big House” of her master, where she served as kitchen helper, cook, and later a nurse, taking care of her mistress’ second child.  She learned her A.B.C.’s by listening to the tutor teaching the children of Judge Toll…

Many instances during those terrible war days are fresh in her mind: men and boys, in pairs and groups passing the “big house” on their way to the recruiting station on the public square, later going back in squads and companies to fight; Yankee soldiers raiding the plantation, taking corn and hay or whatever could be used by the northern army; and continual apprehension [worry] for the menfolk at the front.  She remembers the baying of blood hounds [barking of dogs] at night along the Ohio River, trying to follow the scent of escaping [redacted] and the crack of firearms as white people, employed by the plantation owners attempted to halt the [redacted] in their efforts to cross the Ohio River into Ohio [where they would be free] or to join the Federal [Union] army…

When President Lincoln issued his proclamation freeing the slaves, and the news reached the plantation, she went to her master to learn if she was free. On learning it was true she returned to her parents who were living on another plantation…   

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Anna Toll Smith1835 (101 or 102)Geo. H. ConnJudge Toll
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Summit County, OHOHHenderson, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Civil War, Education, Emancipation, Lincoln, EconomicsThird Person, Veteran or Widow, Slave Patrollers, Henderson County