|M.S. Fayman was born free to wealthy free parents in Louisiana. Her family was Creole – her grandmother was Haitian (Black) and her grandfather was French. Her parents sent her to a private boarding school when she was five years old. When she was ten, she was kidnapped at school and forcibly enslaved in Kentucky by Buckram Haynes, who forced M.S. Fayman to teach his children French until she escaped. After her escape, she returned home, attended Fisk University and became a French teacher there. In this excerpt, the interviewer recounts M.S. Fayman’s kidnapping and description of her enslavement in the first person.
… [My family] lived in a large and spacious house surrounded by flowers and situated on a farm containing about 750 acres, on which we raised pelicans for sale in the market at New Orleans.
When I was about 5 years old I was sent to a private School in Baton Rouge, conducted by French sisters [nuns], where I stayed until I was kidnapped in 1860. At that time I did not know how to speak English; French was the language spoken in my household and by the people in the parish [county]. Baton Rouge, situated on the Mississippi, was a river port and stopping place for all large river boats, especially between New Orleans and large towns and cities north. We children were taken out by the sisters after school and on Saturdays and holidays to walk. One of the places we went was the wharf. One day in June and on a Saturday a large boat was at the wharf going north on the Mississippi River. We children were there. Somehow, I was separated from the other children. I was taken up bodily by a white man, carried on the boat, put in a cabin and kept there until we got to Louisville, Kentucky, where I was taken off. After I arrived in Louisville I was taken to a farm near Frankfort [Kentucky] and installed there, virtually a slave until 1864, when I escaped through the kindness of a delightful Episcopalian woman from Cincinnati, Ohio.
As I could not speak English, my chores were to act as a tutor and companion for the children of Pierce Buckran Haynes, a well known slave trader and plantation owner in Kentucky. Haynes wanted his children to speak French and it was my duty to teach them. I was the private companion of three girls and one small boy, each day I had to talk French and write French for them. They became very proficient in French, and I in the rudiments [basics] of the English language. I slept in the children’s quarters with the Haynes’ children, ate and played with them. I had all the privileges of the household accorded me with the exception of one, I never was taken off nor permitted to leave the plantation. While on the plantation I wore good clothes, similar to those of the white children.
Haynes was a merciless brutal tyrant with his slaves, punishing them severely and cruelly both by the lash and in the jail on the plantation… On the farm the slaves were assigned a task to do each day and In the event it was not finished they were severely whipped. While I never saw a slave whipped, I did see them afterwards, they were very badly marked and striped by the overseers who did the whipping….
Formerly enslaved person
|Birth Year (Age)
|1850 (approx. 87)
|Pierce Buckram Haynes
|Themes & Keywords
|Education, Kidnapped, Resistance, Escape
|First Person, Witnessed Extreme Cruelty, Slave Traders