Rachel Gaines

Rachel Gaines lived enslaved until her early 20’s.  After Emancipation her enslaver hired her to continue to work on his plantation.  This excerpt describes her Emancipation and experiences still living and working in the plantation in the years after.

*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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After freedom was declared the master told all his slaves that they could go wherever they pleased, but if they couldn’t make their own living to come to him and he would help them.  Missus Dickinson kept me there because I was the nurse to their son, Howard, who was sure a wild one. I remember how he would tote out fried chicken, pig meat and other good stuff to us … 

They agreed to pay me $35.00 a year (and keep) and it was given me every Christmas morning. They treated me good, gave me all the clothes and other things I needed, as if I were one of the family.  

Every two weeks the master would send for Jordan McGowan, who was the leader of a string music band. They would get there Friday night early and the slaves would dance in the grape house that night and all day Saturday up to midnite. You don’t have now as good dance music and as much fun as the ole time days had. We always had a big barbecue and watermelon feast every time we had a dance. Never again will there be as good times as we used to have. 

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Rachel Gaines1840 (Believes she is 95-100)UnknownDr. Bainbridge Dickerson
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Nashville, TNTennesseeTodd County, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Emancipation,First person, dialect,