Hannah Davidson

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 the violence of her enslaver and how she was denied an education.  

*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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… It is best not to talk about them. The things that my sister Mary and I suffered were so terrible that people would not believe them. It is best not to have such things in our memory…  

If you wanted to go to another plantation, you had to have a pass. If my folks were going to somebody’s house, they’d have to have a pass. Otherwise, they’d be whipped. They’d take a big man and tie his hands behind a tree, just like that big tree outside, and whip him with rawhide and draw blood every whip. I know I was scared every time I’d hear the slave say, ‘Pray, Master.’…  

Once, Jim Ferguson, a … Black man, came to teach school. The white folks beat and whipped him and drove him away in his underwear. 

I wanted so hard to learn to read, but I didn’t even know I was free, even when slavery was ended.  

I had been so exhausted working, I was like an inch-worm crawling along a roof. I worked till I thought another lick would kill me. If you had something to do, you did it or got whipped. Once I was so tired I couldn’t work anymore. I crawled in a hole under the house and stayed there till I was rested…. 

I never will forget it–how my master always used to say, ‘Keep a [redacted] down’ I never will forget it…

The slaves tried to get schools, but they didn’t get any. Finally, they started a few schools in little log cabins. But we children, my sister and I, never went to school…

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Hannah Davidson1852 (approx. 85)K. OsthimerEmmette and Susan Meriwether
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Toledo, OHOHKY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Education, ViolenceBallard County, First Person, Witnessed Extreme Cruelty, Sold, Union Troops


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