|In the full version of the interview, the interviewer recounts in the first person the cruelty enslavers inflicted on Hannah Davidson and the other enslaved people. Hanna Davidson describes a life of continuous work and repeated whippings. Enslavers Emmette and Susan Meriwether kept Hannah Davidson, her sister, and others enslaved for over twenty one years after they were legally free. In this excerpt, recorded in the first person, Hannah Davidson describes religion and songs she sang as a child.
…We didn’t have any churches… We used to sing, ‘Swing low, sweet chariot’. When our folks sang that, we could really see the chariot…
The only fun we had was on Sunday evening, after work. That was the only chance we got. We used to go away off from the house and play in the haystack… Sundays the slaves would wash out their clothes. It was the only time they had to themselves… We never observed Christmas. We never had holidays, son, no, sir! [she is referring to the interviewer.] We didn’t know what the word was…
School? We never saw the inside of a schoolhouse. Mistress used to read the Bible to us every Sunday morning.
We sang two songs I still remember.
I think when I read that sweet story of old,
When Jesus was here among men,
How he called little children like lambs to his fold,
I should like to have been with them then.
I wish that his hands had been placed on my head,
That his arms had been thrown around me,
That I might have seen his kind face when he said
‘Let the little ones come unto me.’
Yet still to his footstool in prayer I nay go
And ask for a share of his love,
And that I might earnestly seek Him below
And see Him and hear Him above.
Then there was another:
I want to be an angel
And with the angels stand
With a crown upon my Forehead
And a harp within my hand.
And there before my Saviour,
So glorious and so bright,
I’d make the sweetest music
And praise him day and night.
And as soon as we got through singing those songs, we had to get right out to work. I was always glad when they called us in the house to Sunday school. It was the only chance we’d get to rest…
…Us kids always used to sing a song, ‘Gonna hang Jeff Davis [president of the Confederacy] to a sour apple tree as we go marchin’ home.’ I didn’t know what it meant at the time…
Formerly enslaved person
|Birth Year (Age)
|1852 (approx. 85)
|Emmette and Susan Meriwether
|Themes & Keywords
|Ballard County, First Person, Witnessed Extreme Cruelty, Sold, Union Troops,