Ellen Cave

A cruel master enslaved Ellen Cave before and during the Civil War.  Her recollections of cruel treatment by her enslaver are recorded in this excerpt.  Especially notable is the example of the children or enslavers and their enslaved being sold to other plantations.
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Mrs. Cave told of seeing wagon loads of slaves sold down the river. She, herself was put on the block several times but never actually sold, although she would have preferred being sold rather than the continuation of the ordeal of the block.

Her master was a “mean man” who drank heavily, he had twenty slaves that he fed now and then, and gave her her freedom after the war only when she would remain silent about it no longer. 

. . . Mrs. Cave said that her master’s father had many young women slaves and sold his own half-breed children down the river to Louisiana plantations where the work was so severe that the slaves soon died.

While in slavery, Mrs. Cave worked as a maid in the house until she grew older when she was forced to do all kinds of outdoor labor. She remembered sawing logs in the snow all day. In the summer she pitched hay or any other man’s work in the field. She was trained to carry three buckets of water at the same time, two in her hands and one on her head, and said she could still do it.

On this plantation, the chief article of food for the slaves was bran-bread, although the master’s children were kind and often slipped them out meat or other food.

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Ellen CaveUnknownGrace MonroeUnknown
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Ohio County, INIndianaKentucky
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Violence, family, gender/gender rolesThird person, breeding, sold (family)