Elizabeth Alexander

The following excerpt is from a preacher’s sermon found in a scrapbook, dated 1839.  In it, the preacher speaks of the fear of being punished in the afterlife, and offers salvation to anyone who follows her, gives her money, and returns to her weekly services.

*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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“My dear friend: If there’s one thing that the Lord abominates worse than any other; it is a wicked [redacted]! A wicked White man’s bad enough, the Lord knows!  But they so dam White, an so kussed sarcy, they don’t know any better, so there’s some apology for them; but I begin you for you know as to how a wicked [redacted] can never escape from the vengeance of the Lord day’s – no use playing possum any more than there was of Jonah coorin it into the whale’s belly! 

(Glory from the congregation) 

. . . Think, you Black sinners, of the bottomless pit, deeper than the hole Holt bored for water. Oh! you’ll wish you could bore for water there! But there’s no water there, and the deeper you go, Oh, my brethren, the deeper it gets! And then the smell! You’d give your soul if you had any left, just for one smell of a rotten egg! Oh, my dear friends, some of you hold your nose when you go by the gas works. How do you suppose you’ll feel where you smell nothing but brimstone and gnashing of teeth! (deep groans) 

. . . And now, my beloved brethren, let’s investigate how to get bail; how to avoid the Sing Sing of the world that’s got to come. Fiddling and dancing won’t do it. You’ll never get to Heaven by loafing, pitching cents, and dancing Juba! The only way is to support the preacher, give your money to me, and I’ll take your sins on my shoulder. And now I beseech you not to leave this here holy place and go around the corner, around the corner and forget the words you have heard this night. Next Wednesday evening there will be a service in this place the Lord willing, but next Thursday evening weather or no. And now we will sing the 40-olebent hymn the particlarest meter.

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Elizabeth AlexanderUnknownCecelia LaswellUnknown
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Davies County, KYKentuckyUnknown
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
ReligionThird person, dialect