Peter Bruner

The interviewer recounts her interview with Peter Bruner in the third person.  Enslaver John Bell Bruner was “very cruel” to Peter Bruner.  John Bell Bruner and his wife frequently whipped Peter Bruner and never gave him enough to eat.  In the excerpt below, the interviewer describes Peter Bruner frequent attempts to escape, including his successful escape after which he enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War. 
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…Peter endured torture as long as he could and finally decided to escape. He went to Richmond, Kentucky on to Lexington. On his way, he made a contract with a man to drive his horses to Orleans, but was caught while in Lexington. On his way, they caught him and took him to jail and he remained until his master came for him. This did not down him, for just as soon as he could he escaped again, and this time got as far as Xenia, Ohio, but was again caught and brought back. This time he was severely beaten for three hours.

When 17 years old, Peter was hired out to Jimmy Benton, who was more cruel than John Bruner, but was again brought back. It was then that he tried again to escape… This was about the year 1861, when the war had begun. Again he was caught and taken back…. He escaped several times but never could seem to get anywhere. Once when he and another slave, Phil, escaped they were caught and made to walk the entire distance barefoot. After this Peter was chained each night to a chair. One morning while eating his breakfast he heard a knock at the door and on opening it he found a troop of Union Home Guards. Jim Benton and John Bruner were taken to prison…

When John Bruner was taken from [released from] Prison, he was much better to Peter. Soon after John was released from Prison, Peter escaped again. This time he had joined a regiment in the war. He went through hardships, cold, hunger, and illness…

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Peter Bruner1845 (91)Evelyn McLemoreJohn Bell Bruner
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Estill County, KYKYWinchester, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Escape, Resistance, ViolenceEstill County, Clark County, Third Person, Whipped, Union Troops, Veteran or Widow, Hired Out