John Rudd

John Rudd lived with his mother and brothers on a plantation in Kentucky.  John’s enslaver sold one of his brothers, but John, his mother and other siblings stayed together after the enslaver sold them all when he was a child.   In his excerpt, he relates a story of his mother’s reaction to being whipped for no reason by her enslaver, and the resulting sale of his mother to an enslaver in Louisville.
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Uncle John related a story concerning his mother as follows: “Mama had been working in the cornfield all day ’till time to cook supper. She was just standing in the smokehouse that was built back of the big kitchen when Mistress walks in. She had a long whip hidden under her apron and began whipping Mama across the shoulders, without telling her why. Mama wheeled around from where she was slicing ham and started running after old Missus Jane. Ole Missus ran so fast Mama couldn’t catch up with her so she threw the butcher knife and stuck it in the wall up to the hilt. I was scared. 

I was afraid when Master Henry came in I believed he would have Mama whipped to death. ‘Where’s Jane?’ said Master Henry. ‘She’s upstairs with the door locked’, said Mama. Then she told old Master Henry the truth about how Mistress Jane whipped her and show him the marks of the whip. She showed him the butcher knife sticking in the wall. ‘Get your clothes together’, said Master Henry.

John then had to be parted from his mother. Henry Rudd believed that the Negroes were going to be set free. War had been declared and his desire was to send Liza far into the southern states where the price of a good negro was higher than in Kentucky. When he reached Louisville he was offered a good price for her service and hired her out to cook at a hotel. John grieved over the loss of his mother but afterward learned she had been well treated at Louisville.

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
John Rudd1854 (83)Lauana CreelBenjamin Simms, Henry and Jane Moore
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Evansville, INIndianaSpringfield, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Family, ViolenceThird person, witnessed extreme cruelty, whipped, sold (family)