|Barney Stone was 91 years old when interviewed. He was enslaved for 16 years before he escaped and joined the Union Army during the Civil War. After the Civil War, Barney Stone was a self-taught teacher at a Black school and then became a preacher. The interviewer notes that Barney Stone had a “remarkable memory,” which is evident in the excerpt below where Barney Stone recounts multiple examples of his enslaver’s brutal treatment of enslaved people. In this excerpt, Barney Stone recounts how his enslaver sold his sister, mother and brother. The excerpt ends with Barney Stone reuniting with his mother and brother.
*Historically-used terms that are offensive, marginalizing and/or disparaging have been removed from the transcripts and replaced with [redacted]. See more information.
…Master would never sell me because I was regarded as the best young slave on the plantation. Different from many other slaves, I was kept on the plantation from the day I was born until the day I ran away…
Many times, as I have said before, our treatment on our plantation was horrible. When I was just a small boy, I witnessed my sister sold and taken away. One day one of the horses came into the barn and master noticed that she was crippled. He flew into a rage and thought I had hurt the horse, either that, or that I knew who did it. I told him that I did not do it and he demanded that I tell him who did it, if I didn’t. I did not know and when I told him so, he secured a whip tied me to a post and whipped me until I was covered with blood. I begged him, “Master, master, please don’t whip me, I do not know who did it.” He then took out his pocket knife and I would have been killed if Missus (his dear wife) had not made him quit. She untied me and cared for me.
Many has been the time, I have seen my mammy beaten mercilessly and for no good reason. One day, not long before the out-break of the Civil War, a [redacted] buyer came and I witnessed my dear Mammy and my one year old baby brother, sold. I saw her taken away, never to see her again until I found her twenty-seven years later at Clarksburg, Tennessee. My baby brother was with her, but I did not know him until Mammy told me who he was, he had grown into a large man. That was a happy meeting. After those experiences of sixteen long years in Hell, as a slave, I was very bitter against the white man, until after I ran away and joined the Union army.
Formerly enslaved person
|Birth Year (Age)
|Robert C. Irvin
|Themes & Keywords
|Family, Violence, Escape, Resistance
|First Person, Third Person, Whipped, Witness Extreme Cruelty, Sold, Slave Traders, Union Troops, Veteran or Widow, Notable, Spencer County