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 religion in the first person.  

*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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…Never no church for colored people does I remember in Natchez. One time There was a drought, and the water we hauled from way over to the river. Now that was down right work, hauling that water. There was an old man, he was powerful in prayer, and gathered the darkies under a big tree, and we all kneeled down while he prayed for the poor beasts what needs good clean water for to drink. That was a pretty sight, that church meeting under the big tree. I always remember that, and how that day he found a spring with his old cane, just like a miracle after prayer. It was a pretty sight to see my cows and all the cattle trotting for that water. The men dug out a round pond for the water to run up into, out of the spring, and it was good water that wouldn’t make the beasts sick, and we-all was sure happy.

…I was baptized by a white minister in Louisville, and I’ve been a Baptist for sixty years now. Yes ma’am. There are plenty of colored churches in Louisville now, but when I was young, the white folks had to see to it that we [enslaved people] were Baptised and knew Bible verses and hymns. There weren’t smart [redacted] preachers like Reverend Williams … and there ain’t so many now…

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


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