Matthew Hume

In this excerpt, the interviewer describes Matthew Hume’s experience with religion when he was enslaved in the third person.  
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Excerpt:

…The mistress on a neighboring plantation was a devout Catholic and had all the children come each Sunday afternoon to study the catechism and repeat the Lord’s Prayer. She was not very successful in training them in the Catholic faith as when they grew up most of them were either Baptists or Methodists. Mr. Hume said she did a lot of good in leading them to Christ but he did not learn much of the catechism as he only attended for the treat. After the service, they always had candy or a cup of sugar…


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Matthew HumeUnknown (Unknown)Grace MonroeDaniel Payne
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Jefferson County, ININKY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
ReligionTrimble County, Third Person, Witnessed Extreme Cruelty

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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

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Dan Bogie

Dan Bogie lived in enslavement on a small plantation with few enslaved persons.  In this excerpt, he describes the relationship he developed with the enslavers’ children, as well as his first experiences with education and religion.
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Excerpt:

There were four slaves. My mother did cooking and the men did the work. Bob Wheeler and Arch Bogie were our masters. Both were good and kind to us. I never saw a slave shipped, for my boss did not believe in that kind of punishment. My master had four boys, named Rube, Falton, Horace, and Billie. Rube and me played together and when we acted bad old Master always licked Rube three or four times harder than he did me because Rube was older. Their daughter was named American Wheeler, for her mother.

White folks did not teach us to read and write. I learned that after I left my white folks. There was no church for slaves, but we went to the white folks’ church at Mr. Freedom. We sat in the gallery. The first colored preacher I ever heard was old man Leroy Estill. He preached in the Freedom meeting house (Baptist). I stood on the banks of Paint Lick Creek and saw my mother baptized, but do not remember the preacher’s name or any of the songs they sang.

We did not work on Saturday afternoon. The men would go fishing, and the women would go to the neighbors’ and help each other piece quilts. We used to have big times at the corn shuckings. The neighbors would come and help. We would have campfires and sing songs, and usually a big dance at the barn when the corn was shucked. Some of the slaves from other plantations would pick the banjo, then the dance. Miss America married Sam Ward. I was too young to remember only that they had good things to eat.


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Dan Bogie1858Eliza IsonBob Wheeler, Arch Wheeler
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Garrard County, KYKentuckyKentucky
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Family, Gender Roles, Education, Literacy, ReligionFirst Person

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Dulcina Baker Martin

In this excerpt, Dulcina Baker Martin recites a story her aunt told her about an enslaver who was presumed dead, and her grave raided by an enslaved person.
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Excerpt:

They used to talk about such things, like ghosts, and haints, and spirits.  My aunt says, once there was a young Miss who died and her folks had buried her with lots of jewelry.  One of the slaves looked hard and long at all that fine jewelry going into the ground. So when night comes, he goes to the graveyard and starts digging in the young Miss’ grave.  When he came to the casket and opened it, and was taking a ring off of her hand, the young Miss spoke to him.  He started running’, and she came up out of the grave and started running’ too.  When she got to the house, the family knew she wasn’t dead as soon as they saw her, and they were sure glad, and day set the slave free and gave him a lot of money and a fine horse.


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Dulcina Baker Martin1859 (78)UnknownJack Rutledge
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Clark County, OHOhioKentucky
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Religion, ViolenceFirst person, dialect

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Easter Sudie Campbell

Easter Sudie Campbell was born near the end of the Civil War.  She describes her many experiences as a free midwife in Kentucky.  Here, she discusses her belief in ghosts and specific experiences she has had.

*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:

Sure there are ghosts. One night as I was going home from work, the tallest man I ever saw followed me with the prettiest white shirt on, and then he passed me and waited at the corner.  I was feeling creepy and wanted to run but just couldn’t get my legs to move. When I got to the corner where he was, I said ‘Good Evening’ and I saw him plain as day and he did not speak and just disappeared right before my eyes.

…Once I had a dream, I knew I near about saw it. I always did cook every night a pot of beans on the fire for the children to eat next day while I was at work, and Lizzie, my daughter, used to get up in the night and get her some beans and eat them.  And this dream was so real that I couldn’t tell if it was Lizzie or not, but this woman just glided by my bed and went afore the fire and stood there, then she just went twixt my bed and went by the wall. I just knew when I woke up that my child was sick that lived away from home and wanted my son to take me to see her. He said he would go himself and see, so he went, and when he came back he had a headache, and afore morning that [redacted] was dead. So you see, that was the sign of the dream. I was just warned in the dream and didn’t have sense enough to know it.


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Easter Sudie CampbellUnknown (72)Mamie HanberryWill Grooms
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Christian County, KYKentuckyKentucky
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
ReligionFirst Person, Dialect, Enslaver Father

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Elizabeth Alexander

The following excerpt is from a preacher’s sermon found in a scrapbook, dated 1839.  In it, the preacher speaks of the fear of being punished in the afterlife, and offers salvation to anyone who follows her, gives her money, and returns to her weekly services.

*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:

“My dear friend: If there’s one thing that the Lord abominates worse than any other; it is a wicked [redacted]! A wicked White man’s bad enough, the Lord knows!  But they so dam White, an so kussed sarcy, they don’t know any better, so there’s some apology for them; but I begin you for you know as to how a wicked [redacted] can never escape from the vengeance of the Lord day’s – no use playing possum any more than there was of Jonah coorin it into the whale’s belly! 

(Glory from the congregation) 

. . . Think, you Black sinners, of the bottomless pit, deeper than the hole Holt bored for water. Oh! you’ll wish you could bore for water there! But there’s no water there, and the deeper you go, Oh, my brethren, the deeper it gets! And then the smell! You’d give your soul if you had any left, just for one smell of a rotten egg! Oh, my dear friends, some of you hold your nose when you go by the gas works. How do you suppose you’ll feel where you smell nothing but brimstone and gnashing of teeth! (deep groans) 

. . . And now, my beloved brethren, let’s investigate how to get bail; how to avoid the Sing Sing of the world that’s got to come. Fiddling and dancing won’t do it. You’ll never get to Heaven by loafing, pitching cents, and dancing Juba! The only way is to support the preacher, give your money to me, and I’ll take your sins on my shoulder. And now I beseech you not to leave this here holy place and go around the corner, around the corner and forget the words you have heard this night. Next Wednesday evening there will be a service in this place the Lord willing, but next Thursday evening weather or no. And now we will sing the 40-olebent hymn the particlarest meter.


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Elizabeth AlexanderUnknownCecelia LaswellUnknown
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Davies County, KYKentuckyUnknown
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
ReligionThird person, dialect

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Julia King

Julia King lived with her entire family on the same plantation.  When she was very young, her father, mother and sister all ran away and escaped via the Underground railroad.  Here, she describes her memory of a song her mother sang before she escaped.
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Excerpt:

I think the colored folks had a church, because Mamma was always a Baptist. Only colored people went to the church.

Mamma used to sing a song:

“Don’t you remember the promise that you made,

To my old dying mother’s request?

That I never should be sold,

Not for silver or for gold.

While the sun rose from the East to the West?

And it hadn’t been a year,

The grass had not grown over her grave.

I was advertised for sale.

And I would have been in jail,

If I had not crossed the deep, dancing waves.

I’m upon the Northern banks

And beneath the Lion’s paw,

And he’ll growl if you come near the shore.”


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Julia King1857 (80)K. OsthimerUnknown
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Toledo, OHOhioLouisville, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Family, ReligionFirst person, dialect

King_J_2

Hannah Davidson

In the full version of the interview, the interviewer recounts in the first person the cruelty enslavers inflicted on Hannah Davidson and the other enslaved people. Hanna Davidson describes a life of continuous work and repeated whippings. Enslavers Emmette and Susan Meriwether kept Hannah Davidson, her sister, and others enslaved for over twenty one years after they were legally free.  In this excerpt, recorded in the first person, Hannah Davidson describes religion and songs she sang as a child.  
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Excerpt:

…We didn’t have any churches… We used to sing, ‘Swing low, sweet chariot’. When our folks sang that, we could really see the chariot…  

The only fun we had was on Sunday evening, after work. That was the only chance we got. We used to go away off from the house and play in the haystack… Sundays the slaves would wash out their clothes. It was the only time they had to themselves… We never observed Christmas. We never had holidays, son,  no, sir! [she is referring to the interviewer.] We didn’t know what the word was…  

School? We never saw the inside of a schoolhouse. Mistress used to read the Bible to us every Sunday morning.  

We sang two songs I still remember.    

I think when I read that sweet story of old,   

When Jesus was here among men,   

How he called little children like lambs to his fold,  

 I should like to have been with them then.    

I wish that his hands had been placed on my head,   

That his arms had been thrown around me,   

That I might have seen his kind face when he said   

‘Let the little ones come unto me.’    

Yet still to his footstool in prayer I nay go   

And ask for a share of his love,   

And that I might earnestly seek Him below   

And see Him and hear Him above.  

Then there was another:    

I want to be an angel   

And with the angels stand   

With a crown upon my Forehead   

And a harp within my hand.   

And there before my Saviour,   

So glorious and so bright,   

I’d make the sweetest music   

And praise him day and night.  

And as soon as we got through singing those songs, we had to get right out to work. I was always glad when they called us in the house to Sunday school. It was the only chance we’d get to rest…  

…Us kids always used to sing a song, ‘Gonna hang Jeff Davis [president of the Confederacy] to a sour apple tree as we go marchin’ home.’ I didn’t know what it meant at the time…  


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Hannah Davidson1852 (approx. 85)K. OsthimerEmmette and Susan Meriwether
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Toledo, OHOHKY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Songs, ReligionBallard County, First Person, Witnessed Extreme Cruelty, Sold, Union Troops, 

Davidson_H_2

George Henderson

In this excerpt, the interviewer recounts formerly enslaved person George Henderson’s memories of education, religion and emancipation in the first person.   
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Excerpt:

…I saw the slaves in chains after they were sold. The white folks did not teach us to read and write. We had church on the plantation but we went from one plantation to another to hear preaching. White folks preacher’s name was Reuben Lee, in Versailles [Kentucky]. A meeting of the Baptist Church resulted in the first baptizing I ever saw. It was in Mr. Chillers pond. The preacher would say ‘I am baptizing you in Mr. Chillers pond because I know he is an honest man’…

…When the news came we were freed everybody was glad. The slaves cleared up the ground and cut down trees. Stayed with Master Cleveland the first year after the war. Have heard the Ku Klux Klan ride down the road, wearing masks. None ever bothered me or any of Master Clevelands slaves…

Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
George Henderson1860 (Unknown)Eliza IsonMilford Twiman
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Garrard County, KYKYVersailles, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Religion, Education, Emancipation, LiteracyWoodford County, First Person

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Celia Henderson

Celia Henderson moved from Louisville, Kentucky to Natchez, Mississippi when her enslaved mother was sold to pay off the enslaver’s debt.  In this excerpt, the interviewer recounts Celia Henderson’s memories about religion in the first person.  

*Historically-used terms that are offensive, marginalizing and/or disparaging have been removed from the transcripts and replaced with [redacted].  See more information.
See full document • Visit the Library of Congress to see the original document

Excerpt:

…Never no church for colored people does I remember in Natchez. One time There was a drought, and the water we hauled from way over to the river. Now that was down right work, hauling that water. There was an old man, he was powerful in prayer, and gathered the darkies under a big tree, and we all kneeled down while he prayed for the poor beasts what needs good clean water for to drink. That was a pretty sight, that church meeting under the big tree. I always remember that, and how that day he found a spring with his old cane, just like a miracle after prayer. It was a pretty sight to see my cows and all the cattle trotting for that water. The men dug out a round pond for the water to run up into, out of the spring, and it was good water that wouldn’t make the beasts sick, and we-all was sure happy.

…I was baptized by a white minister in Louisville, and I’ve been a Baptist for sixty years now. Yes ma’am. There are plenty of colored churches in Louisville now, but when I was young, the white folks had to see to it that we [enslaved people] were Baptised and knew Bible verses and hymns. There weren’t smart [redacted] preachers like Reverend Williams … and there ain’t so many now…


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Celia Henderson Unknown (Unknown)Miriam LoganGrohagen
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Lebanon, OHOHHardin County, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
ReligionHardin County, First Person, Dialect, Enslaver Father, Slave Traders

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