Mary Jane Mooreman

The interviewer records this interview in the first person, writing down the words of Mary Jane Mooreman using heavy dialect.  The reader should note that these are not necessarily the exact words of Mary Jane Mooreman –  they are the interviewer’s version of Mary Jane Mooreman’s speech. In this excerpt, the interviewer recounts how Mary Jane Mooreman learned how to read and write before documenting her memories of the Civil War.  

Miss Maud is Mary Jane Mooreman’s employer, who was also present for the interview.Miss Mary is the interviewer, Mary D. Hudgens. 
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…Yes ma’am we learned to read and write. Oh, Miss Maude now–I don’t want to recite. I don’t want to. (But she did Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and The Playful Kitten–the latter all of 40 lines.) I think, I think they both come out of McGuffey’s second Reader. Yes ma’am I remember McGuffey’s and the Blueback speller too.  

No, Miss Mary, there wasn’t so much of the war that was fought around us. I remember that old Master used to go out in the front yard and stand by a locust tree and put his ear against it. He said that way he could hear the cannon down to Bowling Green. No, I didn’t ever hear any shooting from the war myself.  

Yes ma’am, the Confederates used to come through lots. I remember how we used to go to the spring for water for them. Then we’d stand with the buckets on our heads while they drank–drank out of a big gourd. When the buckets were empty we’d go back to the spring for more water.  Once the Yankees [Union soldiers] come by the place. It was at night. They went out to the quarters [where the enslaved people lived] and they tried to get them to rise up. Told them [the enslaved people] to come on in the big house and take what they wanted. Told them to take anything they wanted to take, take Master’s silver spoons and Miss’ silk dress. ‘If they don’t like it, we’ll shoot their brains out,’ they said. Next morning they told Master. He got scared and moved…  It was near the end of the war and we were already free, only we didn’t know it…

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Mary Jane Mooreman[Year (age at interview)]Mary D. HudgensCharles Wickliffe Mooreman
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Civil War, Emancipation, Literacy, EducationHartford County, First Person, Sold, Union Troops


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