Mary Wooldridge

Mary Wooldridge was sold multiple times while enslaved, including at around fourteen years old when she was separated from her twin sister. Thomas McElroy enslaved over three hundred people on his two plantations, among them was Mary Wooldridge.  In this excerpt, the interviewer recounts Mary Wooldridge’s thoughts on Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, emancipation and voting.  

The interviewer records this interview in the first person, writing down the words of Mary Wooldridge using heavy dialect.  The reader should note that these are not necessarily the exact words of Mary Wooldridge –  they are the interviewer’s version of Mary Wooldridge’s speech. Teachers might ask students to consider how the interviewer’s choice to present the words in this manner might impact the reader’s opinion about Mary Wooldridge.  Students may also need help understanding why in the 1930s when she was interviewed Mary Wooldridge would say she preferred slavery.  

*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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 …Yah, yah, I sure do remember Abraham Lincoln. my missus and master did not like Mr. Lincoln but, pshaw, all the [redacted] did. I remember him, I saw him once, soon after I was freed.

They were hard times during the [Civil] war, my missus and some of the… [enslaved] gals and the children had to stay in the woods several days to keep way from the soldiers. They ate all the chickens and killed the cows and took the horses and we were sure scared out there with those varmints [soldiers] roving around.

[redacted] ain’t got no business being set free, [redacted] still ought to be slaves. We…did not have to bother about the victuals [food] or anything

When my missis called us…together and told us we were free I was as happy as a skinned frog, but you see I didn’t have any sense… Oh how I miss my missus and master so much. Wish I had them now.

… I’m a Republican – who ever heared of a Democrat [redacted]?  [Redacted] never did own anything so they cant be Democrats, and if they vote a Democrat ticket they are just voting a lie. Because no [redacted] never did own slaves… You just have to have owned slaves to vote a Democrat ticket…

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Mary WooldridgeUnknown (Unknown)UnknownBob Eaglin, Thomas McElroy
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Clarksville Pike, KYKYKY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Voting, Emancipation, Civil WarWashington County, First Person, Dialect, Sold, Slave Traders, Union Troops