Celia Henderson

Celia Henderson moved from Louisville, Kentucky to Natchez, Mississippi when her enslaved mother was sold to pay off the enslaver’s debt.   In this excerpt, the interviewer recounts Celia Henderson’s memories about the Civil War in the first person. Teachers may need to help students navigate the comparison at the end of the excerpt as a critique of how poorly Blacks were treated at the time of the interview rather than wishing she were still enslaved
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… All I remember about the close of the war, was that white folks were broken up and poor down there at Natchez (Mississippi); and the first time I heard the EMANCIPATION read out, There was a lot of prancing around, and a big time.

I saw soldiers in blue down there in Natchez on the hill, once I saw them coming down the road when I was driving my cows up the road. I was scared sure, and I hid in the bushes on the side of the road until they went by. I don’t remember that my cows were much scared though. Mammy sais better hide when you see soldiers marching by, so that time a whole line of them came along, I hid…

 …Yes ma’am, most I ever earned was five dollars a week. I get twenty dollars now, and pay eight dollars for rent. We got no more–I figure –a working for ourselves than what we’d have were we slaves, for they give you a log house, and clothes, and you eat all you want to, and when you buy things, maybe you don’t make enough to get you what you need, working sun-up to sun down… 

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Celia HendersonUnknown (Unknown)Miriam LoganGrohagen
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Lebanon, OHOHHardin County, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Emancipation, Economics, Civil WarHardin County, First Person, Dialect, Enslaver Father, Slave Traders