Callie Williams

In this first person excerpt, the interviewer documents Callie Williams’ description of emancipation and enslaved people getting married. Since Callie Williams was only four years old when the Civil War ended, she explains that she is retelling stories told to her by her mother Vicey.  Hiram McLemore, referred to as “Master” in the excerpt, enslaved over three hundred people, including Callie Williams and her parents, Vicey and Harry.

*Historically-used terms that are offensive, marginalizing and/or disparaging have been removed from the transcripts and replaced with [redacted].  See more information.
See full document • Visit the Library of Congress to see the original document


… I don’t remember anything about this except what Mammy [Vicey] said.  When the Surrender [end of the Civil War] came, she said that a whole regiment of soldiers rode up to the house yelling to the [redacted] that they were free. Then the soldiers took the meat out of the smokehouse and got all the molasses and meal and gave it all to the [redacted]. They robbed the bees and then they’d eat dinner and go on to the next place, taking the menfolk with them, all except the ones too old, my pappy among them. 

After it was all over my pappy rented land on Mr. McLemore’s place and he and mammy stayed there till they died. They were buried in the same graveyard that Mr. McLemore had set aside for his slaves. 

I married Frank Williams in Montgomery, Alabama, but our marriage was nothing like mammy said her and pappy’s was. She said they ’jumped the broomstick.’ When any of the slaves wanted to get married they would go to the big house and tell Master and he’d get his broomstick and said, ’Harry, do you want Vicey?’ And Harry said ’Yes.’ Then Master said, ’Vicey, do you want Harry?’, and she said ’Yes.’ Then Master said, ’Join hands and jump the broomstick and you are married.’ The ceremony wasn’t much but they stuck lots closer then, and you didn’t hear about so many divorces and such as that.  

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Callie WilliamsApprox. 1861 (Unknown)Mary A. PooleHiram McLemore
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Mobile, ALALUnknown
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Family, Marriage, Emancipation, Civil WarThird Person, Dialect, Slave Patrollers, Hired Out


Can we count on your support?

This website is a service of Reckoning, Inc., a small non-profit organization that depends on grants and donations to continue our work. Up to this point, we have avoided putting any paid advertising on our website. If you would like to help us keep it that way, please consider making a donation to our organization.