|The excerpts below provide teachers a unique opportunity to consider perspective and decisions made by an interviewer. The interviewer Archie Koritz submitted two separate documents for his interview with John Eubanks.
The first, featured in “Part 1” below is written in the third person. In the excerpt, Archie Koritz describes John Eubanks life during slavery, calling him “one of hte more fortunate slaves in that his mistress and master were kind.”
The second interview is labeled “Part 2” and is written in the first person. The excerpt from this interview covers the same content as that in “Part 1” but is a far more detailed version of John Eubanks life that goes into great detail about the cruelty of his enslaver. The details included in this part of the interview do not appear at all in “Part 1.” The reader can speculate that “Part 2” is similar to a transcript of the interview and “Part 1” is closer to a report of the interview submitted by interviewer Archie Koritz.
[Part 1: Recorded by the interviewer in the third person.]
Following the custom of the south, when the children of the Everrett family grew up, they married and slaves were given them for wedding presents. John was given to a daughter who married a man of the name of Eubanks, hence his name, John Eubanks. John was one of the more fortunate slaves in that his mistress and master were kind and they were in a state divided on the question of slavery. They favored the north. The rest of the children were given to other members of the Everrett family upon their marriage or sold down the river and never saw one another until after the close of the Civil War.
[Part 2: What follows is a different version of the interview, recorded by the same interviewer, but this time in the first person. The examples John Eubanks shares here about how violently his enslaver treated enslaved people do not appear at all in the full version of the interview recorded in Part 1. The brackets used below were inserted by the interviewer at the time the interview was recorded. ]
…I remember well, us young’uns on the Everett plantation. I have worked since I can remember, hoeing, picking cotton and other chores around the farm. We didn’t have many clothes, never underwear, no shoes, old overalls and a tattered shirt, winter and summer. Come the winter, it’d be so cold my feet were plumb numb most of the time, and many a time—when we got a chance—we drove the hogs from out in the bogs and put our feet in the warmed wet mud. They were cracked and the skin on the bottoms and in the toes were cracked and bleeding most of time, with bloody scabs, but the summer healed them again.
“Do you all remember, Grandpap,” [his daughter prompted] “your master—did he treat you mean?”
“No.” [His tolerant acceptance apparent in his answer] “It was done thataway. Slaves were whipped and punished and the young’uns belonged to the master to work for him or to sell. When I was about six years old, Master Everett gave me to Tony Eubanks as a wedding present when he married master’s daughter Becky. Becky wouldn’t let Tony whip her slaves who came from her father’s plantation. ‘They are my property,’ she says, ‘and you can’t whip them.’ Tony whipped his other slaves but not Becky’s.
I remember how they tied the slave around a post, with hands tied together around the post, then a husky lashed his back with a snakeskin lash until his back was cut and bloodened, the blood spattered [gesticulating with his unusually large hands] and his back all cut up. Then they’d pour salt water on him. That’d dry and then stick to him. He’d never take it off till it healed. Sometimes I’d see Master Everett hang a slave tip-toe. He’d tie him up so he stood tip-toe and left him thataway…
Master Everett whipped me once, and Mother, she cried. Then Master Everett says, ‘Why do you all cry?—You cry, I’ll whip another of these young’uns. She tried to stop. He whipped another. He says, ‘If you all don’t stop, you will be whipped too!’, and Mother, she’s trying to stop but tears roll out, so Master Everett whips her too.
I wanted to visit Mother when I belonged to Master Eubanks, but [enslaver Master Eubanks’s wife] Becky said, ‘You all best not see your Mother, or you’ll want to go all the time, then explaining that she wanted me to forget Mother, but I never could…
Formerly enslaved person
|Birth Year (Age)
|1836 or 1839 (approx 98)
|Everett Family, Tony Eubanks
|Themes & Keywords
|Violence, Family, Interviewer
|Barron County, First Person, Third Person, Dialect, Whipped, Witnessed Extreme Cruelty, Union Troops, Veteran or Widow, Notable