Charlie Richmond

This Third Person recollection of an interview with the formerly enslaved Charlie Richmond describes how the dialect of the formerly enslaved populations remained prominent in the South among both Black and White families due to the fact that so many of them lived together during times of enslavement.
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Source Description:

The n—-o dialect of this county is a combination of the dialect white folk use plus that of the n—o of the South. The colored population is continually moving back and forth from Alabama, Georgia, and North and South Carolinas. They visit a lot. Colored teachers so far have all been from Ohio. Most visiting colored preachers come from Alabama and the Carolinas. The negroes leave out their R’s use an’t han’t gwin, su’ for sir, yea for yes, dah for there and such expressions as, “I’s Ye?”

The wealthiest families o’ white folk still retain colored servants. In Prestonsburg, Kentucky one may see on the streets neat looking colored gals leading or wheeling young white children along. Folks say this is why so many southerners leave out their R’s and hold on to the old superstitions, they’ve had a colored mama for a nurse-maid.


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Charlie RichmondUnknownJohn I. SturgillJudge Richmond
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Floyd County, KYKentuckyUnknown
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Family, class, dialectThird Person, dialect

Richmond_C_1

Ann Gudgel

Ann Gudgel lived in enslavement during the Civil War.  In this excerpt, she describes how enslaved persons were vaccinated against smallpox (the process involved infecting a patient with the pus of a smallpox victim).  
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Excerpt:

One day they vaccinated all the slaves but mine never took at all. I never told anybody, but I just sat right down by the fireplace and rubbed wood ashes and juice that spewed out of the wood real hard over the scratch. All the others were really sick and had the most awful arms, but mine never did even hurt.


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Ann GudgelUnknownMildred RobertsBall
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Anderson County, KYKentuckyUnknown
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
ViolenceFirst person, dialect, witnessed extreme cruelty

Gudgel_A_2

Ann Gudgel

Ann Gudgel lived in enslavement during the Civil War.  In this excerpt, she describes her life as an enslaved person, including the troublesome fact that she and her family chose to remain with their enslavers after Emancipation.

*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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Excerpt:

I don’t know how old I am, but I was a little girl when that man Lincoln freed us [redacted]. My mammy never told us our age, but I know I am plenty old, cause I feel like it.

When I was a little girl all of us were owned by Master Ball. When Lincoln freed us [redacted], we went on and lived with Master Ball till us children were about grown up. None of us was ever sold, cause we belonged to the Balls for always back as far as we could think.

Mammy worked up at the big house, but us children had to stay at the cabin. But I didn’t very  much care, because ole Miss had a little child just about my age, and we played together.

The only time ole Miss ever beat me was when I caused Miss Nancy to get ate up with the bees. I told her ‘Miss Nancy, the bees are asleep, let’s steal the honey.’ Soon as she touched it, they flew all over us, and it took Mammy about a day to get the stingers out of our heads. Ole Miss just naturally beat me up about that.

One day they vaccinated all the slaves but mine never took at all. I never told anybody, but I just sat right down by the fireplace and rubbed wood ashes and juice that spewed out of the wood real hard over the scratch. All the others were really sick and had the most awful arms, but mine never did even hurt.


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Ann GudgelUnknownMildred RobertsBall
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Anderson County, KYKentuckyUnknown
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Emancipation, familyFirst person, dialect

Gudgel_A_1

Thomas McIntire

Thomas McIntire’s father was “taken by slave traders from Africa,” brought to the United States, sold, and enslaved.  Jim Lane enslaved around 550 people, including Thomas McIntire.  In this excerpt, the interviewer recounts in the first person Thomas McIntire’s thoughts on topics connected to freedom.  Thomas McIntire describes how enslaved people sought a better life and discussed freedom in code.  Thomas McIntire also shares memories of learning about the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, emancipation and famous activists.  
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Excerpt:

…The slave quarters were about 300 yards from the big house, and every family had their own cabin and eight acres of land for themselves, and all the vegetables and garden truck they needed.  They [enslaved people on Jim Lane’s plantation] raised their own chickens and turkeys.  But the hogs and cattle were butchered and shared with all the different families, and so was the milk.  But I remember hearing my folks talking and it wasn’t just eats they wanted.  They wanted to be free, and educate their children, like Master Jim’s children, so they could grow up and have something for themselves.  I’d often  hear them saying “Never mind, children, for your auntie is sure coming.”  That was just a blind for saying, “Freedom’s coming”.  We children soon learnt what it meant, but the white folks never did learn. 

… I remember all the slaves that could get out from the quarters coming to meetings in the woods to talk about getting away to freedom or going off to war.  Some from our place did go off.  We all knew the Underground Railroad through the whole country.  Because lots of Quakers had come and bought property on those parts and they were teaching the slaves to not be afraid of their rights. 

…When the war came on, lots of the Lane slaves went in.  My father and brother Wash went, and Wash was in the battle, between [Confederate] General Morgan and [Union] General Burden around Mt. Sterling [in Kentucky].  Lots of women and children went into Camp Nelson and lived at what they called the Woman’s Hall.  The men who cared to go there went to the barracks at Camp Nelson.         

When the war was over Father and Wash both came home.  Jim Lane freed us before the war was over and gave us all a little money or paid some if  they were staying on till the war was over.  Those that stayed after the war he gave ten acres of land and built them a little place to live in…. 

I knew Ben Arnett [a Black minister and civil rights advocate who was elected in 1885 to the Ohio state legislature]  personally and heard him speak lots of times; and too I heard Booker T. Washington, and Douglas, and almost all the big men among [Black people]…  I read a little, and I read lots about most of the ones I ain’t heard. 


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Thomas McIntire1847 (90)UnknownJim Lane
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Clark County, OHOHKY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Emancipation, Education, Literacy, Resistance, Union Troops, Civil WarBath County, First Person, Dialect, Witnessed Extreme Cruelty, Sold, Slave Traders, Notable

McIntire_T_3

Thomas McIntire

Thomas McIntire’s father was “taken by slave traders from Africa,” brought to the United States, sold, and enslaved.  Jim Lane enslaved around 550 people, including Thomas McIntire.  In this excerpt, the interviewer recounts in the first person Thomas McIntire’s description of religious practice on enslaver Jim Lane’s plantation. 
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Excerpt:

…There was a log church right on our plantation for us to attend, and other slaves from other plantations came and had meetings with us.  They used to sing lots of good old fashioned songs, but I just can’t think of them right  now.  Lane and some of his friends had a little church they built for themselves, and they always walked from our plantation because he was quite religious, and didn’t allow any work on Sundays.  No horses were hitched up for them, and the only work done was just milk the cows.  The cooking was done Friday and Saturday, but one or two of the slaves that worked at the cooking and setting of the tables had to kind of stick around, but got home in time to go to meeting.  When there were weddings, or funerals on holidays, there wasn’t work done except what couldn’t be got around doing…         


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Thomas McIntire1847 (90)UnknownJim Lane
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Clark County, OHOHKY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
ReligionBath County, First Person, Dialect, Witnessed Extreme Cruelty, Sold, Slave Traders, Notable

McIntire_T_2

Thomas McIntire

Thomas McIntire’s father was “taken by slave traders from Africa,” brought to the United States, sold, and enslaved.  Jim Lane enslaved around 550 people, including Thomas McIntire.  In this excerpt, the interviewer recounts in the first person Thomas McIntire’s recollection of the slave trade and how his enslaver treated enslaved people.
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Excerpt:

…Lane and the people who owned mother were friends, and betwixt them they gave father and mother in order so they could be man and wife.  You see, in those days all they did was to give an order in writing for a man and woman to be man and wife.  Lane was a little more human than some of the slave owners back in those times, so he allowed Mother and Father to go by the name of McIntire as the married name…       

I never saw a Lane slave whipped nor treated cruel, and he never allowed any of his families to be separated.  That was the reason he had so many slaves, because when he went to sales, he’d just buy a whole family before he’d allow them to all be separated. Then when his children married he’d give them four or five families, but he never gave it in writing to them.  So, they couldn’t sell them…      

The folks that owned the next plantation to ours, the Bigstaffs, were cruel to their slaves, and some the Bigstaffs boys would know the patrollers and help to catch slaves and whip them if they couldn’t show a pass from their masters. 

I saw them driving long lines of slaves chained together, with the little ones pitched up in an ox cart, and I don’t know how many men on horseback with long whips slashing them and driving them along the road.  The slave traders went all around and bought up men and women, some of them right from the field; no time for them to say goodbye to the families, buying and selling them worse than cattle.   

The slave traders took them to a halfway house on the Tennessee highway close to us, owned by Billy Wurtz.  He had a big cellar where they put the slaves till they were going to sell them or else take them further south. They used to make a big sale day at Mt. Sterling and auction off the slaves.  They’d whip them on the block to make them holler.  I saw all that, and more… 


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Thomas McIntire1847 (90)UnknownJim Lane
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Clark County, OHOHKY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Slave Traders, ViolenceBath County, First Person, Dialect, Witnessed Extreme Cruelty, Sold, Slave Traders, Notable

McIntire_T_1

Lula Chambers

Dave Lillard enslaved over one hundred people, including Lula Chambers. She did not know her father and her mother was sold shortly after Lula Chambers was born.   The interviewer records in the first person Lula Chambers’s memories of the Ku Klux Klan and why some enslavers did not abuse enslaved people for economic reasons.    

*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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Excerpt:

… I used to be scared to death of those old Ku Klux folks with all their hoods on their heads and faces. I never will forget, I saw a real old [redacted] woman slave down on her knees praying to God for his help. She had a Bible in front of her. Course she couldn’t read it, but she did know what it was, and she was praying out of her very heart, until she had drawn the attention of the old Ku Klux [Klan] and one of them just walked in her cabin and lashed [whipped] her unmerciful. He made her get up off her knees and dance, old as she was. Of course the old soul couldn’t dance but he just made her hop around anyhow.  

The slave owners in the county where I was raised—the well-to-do ones I mean, did not abuse the slaves like the poor trash and other slaveholders did. Of course they whipped them plenty when they didn’t suit. But they kind of took care of them to sell. They had a great slave market there that didn’t do anything but sell slaves, and if they wanted a good price for them, the slave would have to be in a pretty good condition. That’s what saved their hides… 


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Lula ChambersUnknown (Unknown, older than 90)Grace E. WhiteDave Lillard
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
St. Louis, MOMOKY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Economics, ViolenceGallatin County, First Person, Dialect, Whipped, Witnessed Extreme Cruelty, Sold, Slave Traders, Klan/Mob Violence

Chambers_L_1

Madison Bruin

In this excerpt, the interviewer recounts Madison Bruin’s memories of the Civil War in the first person.  After the Civil War was over, Madison Bruin continued to provide free labor on his enslaver’s plantation although he was technically free.  In 1872, he finally left the plantation, joined the army and served in a cavalry unit used to fight Native Americans.  After his discharge from the army, he worked building a railroad before settling in Texas.  
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Excerpt:

…During the war [Confederate General] John Morgan’s men came and took all the horses. They left two, and Willie [the enslaver’s son] and I took them to hide in the plum thicket, but we just got out the gate when the soldiers came again and they headed us off and took the last two horses.  

My mother wore the Yankee flag under her dress like a petticoat when the confederates came raiding. Other times she wore it on top of the dress. When they heard the confederates coming, the white folks made us bury all the gold and the silver spoons out in the garden. Old master was in the Yankee [Union] army, because they conscripted [drafted] him, but his sons, John and Joe, volunteered…  

During the war we got whipped many times for playing with shells that we found in the woods. We heard the cannons shooting in Lexington [Kentucky], and lots of them shells dropped in the woods.  

What did I think when I saw all those soldiers? I wanted to be one, too. I didn’t care what side, I just wanted a gun and a horse and to be a soldier… When young master joined Woolford’s 11th Kentucky Cavalry, they came to the place and halted before the big house on the turnpike [road]… They were just in regular clothes, but next time they came through they were in blue uniforms. All my white folks came back from the war and didn’t get killed. 

Nobody ever told me I was free. I was happy there and never left them till 1872. All the others went before that, but I got all I wanted and I didn’t need money…


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Madison BruinUnknown (92)UnknownJack and Addie Curtis
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
TXTXFayette County, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Civil War, Emancipation First Person, Dialect, Whipped, Union Troops, Bound Out After the War, Fayette County

Bruin_M_1

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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Excerpt:

 …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…


Interviewee 
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

Wooldridge_M_1

Mary Wright

Mary Wright was born the year the Civil War ended. In this excerpt, the interviewer recounts in the first person Mary Wright’s retelling of her mother’s story of the Ku Klux Klan using violence to intimidate Black people after the Civil War in Kentucky.    

*Historically-used terms that are offensive, marginalizing and/or disparaging have been removed from the transcripts and replaced with [ ___ ].   See more information.
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Excerpt:

…My [Mary Wright’s] mammy bound me out to Miss Puss Graham to learn to work, for my vittles [food] and clothes. Miss Puss gave me a pair of red morocco shoes and I was so happy, I’ve never forgotten these shoes. I heard my mammy talk of thee [ ___ ] Rising. The Ku Klux [Klan] used to stick the [ ___ ]head on a stake alongside the Cadiz road and  the buzzards would eat them till nothing was left but the bones. There was a sign on this stake that said ‘Look out [ ___ ]! You are next.’  We children would not go far away from the cabin. I tell you that is so. I just knew that this Ku Klux would do that to us sure if we had been caught…


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Mary Wright1865 (Unknown)UnknownJames Coleman
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
KYKYGracey, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Violence, KKKChristian County, First Person, Dialect, Klan/Mob Violence, Bound out After War

Wright_M_1