Parthena Rollins

In this interview, which the interviewer records in the third person, Parthena Rollins recounts numerous stories of enslavers brutally murdering enslaved people.  Teachers should note this excerpt contains imagery of brutal violence, and may not be suitable for some students. 

*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:

…Mrs. Parthena Rollins was born in Scott County, Kentucky, in 1853, a slave of Ed Duvalle, who was always very kind to all of his slaves, never whipping any of the adults, but often whipped the children to correct them, never beating them. They all had to work, but never overworked, and always had plenty to eat.

She remembers so many slaves, who were not as fortunate as they were.

Once when the “[redacted] traders” came through, there was a girl, the mother of a young baby; the traders wanted the girl, but would not buy her because she had the child. Her owner took her away, took the baby from her, and beat it to death right before the mother’s eyes, then brought the girl back to the sale without the baby, and she was bought immediately.

Her new master was so pleased to get such a strong girl who could work so well and so fast.

The thoughts of the cruel way of putting her baby to death preyed on her mind to such an extent, she developed epilepsy. This angered her new master, and he sent her back to her old master and forced him to refund the money he had paid for her.

Another slave had displeased his master for some reason, he was taken to the barn and killed and was buried right in the barn. No one knew of this until they were set free, as the slaves who knew about it were afraid to tell for fear of the same fate befalling on them.

Parthena also remembers slaves being beaten until their backs were blistered. The overseers would then open the blisters and sprinkle salt and pepper in the open blisters, so their backs would smart and hurt all the more.

Many times, slaves would be beaten to death, thrown into sinkholes, and left for the buzzards to swarm and feast on their bodies.

So many of the slaves she knew were half-fed and half-clothed, and treated so cruelly, that it “would make your hair stand on ends.”…


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Parthena Rollins1853 (84)Anna PritchettEd Duvalle
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Marion County, ININKY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
ViolenceScott County, Third Person, Whipped, Witnessed Extreme Cruelty, Slave Traders

Rollins_P_1

Nannie Eaves

The interviewer records this interview with Nannie Eaves in the first person.  Both Nannie Eaves and her husband Ben Eaves fathers were their enslavers. Their father’s were brothers, making Nannie and her husband first cousins.  In this excerpt, Nannie Eaves explains this relationship and how it impacted her life while enslaved.  Nannie Eaves also references her husband’s service during the Civil War and slave traders. 
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Excerpt:

…I guess I was about twenty one years old when I was freed. I was never once treated as a slave because my master was my very own Daddy. Ben Eaves, my husband, was a slave and child of George Eaves, my master’s brother. He ran away from his master and Daddy and joins the U.S. [Union] Army during the Secess War [the Civil War] and is now drawing a pension from Uncle Sam. I’m sure glad that he had sense enough to go that way [since his pension provides her with money to survive]…

…We had two slave traders in this town. They were Judge Houston and his son-in-law, Dr. Brady. They gathered up all the slaves that were unruly or that people wanted to trade and housed them in an old barn until they had enough to take to New Orleans on a boat. They traded them down there for work in the cotton fields. 


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Nannie EavesUnknown (91)UnknownWilliam Eaves
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
KYKYKY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Slave TradersMcLean County, First Person, Dialect, Enslaver Father, Slave Traders, Veteran or Widow

Eaves_N_1

Joseph Mosley

Joseph Mosley lived in enslavement from 1853 until Emancipation.  In this excerpt, he describes his enslaver, who was a slave trader who made those he enslaved march from Virginia to Kentucky, or Mississippi to Virginia, chained together.
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Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Joseph Mosley1853Anna PritchettTim Mosley
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Indianapolis, INIndianaHopkinsville, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Violence, economicsFirst person, Slave trader

Excerpt:

Joseph Mosley, one of twelve children, was born March 15, 1853, fourteen miles from Hopkinsville, Kentucky.

His master, Tim Mosley, was a slave trader. He was supposed to have bought and sold 10,000 slaves. He would go from one state to another buying slaves, bringing in as many as 75 or 80 slaves at one time.

The slaves would be handcuffed to a chain, each chain would link 16 slaves. The slaves would walk from Virginia to Kentucky and some from Mississippi to Virginia.

In front of the chained slaves would be an overseer on horseback with a gun and dogs. In the back of the chained slaves would be another overseer on horseback with a gun and dogs. They would see that no slave escaped.

Mosley_J_1

Bert Mayfield

The interviewer chose to record this interview with Bert Mayfield in the first person.  In the excerpt, Bert Mayfield tells the story of an enslaved person who escaped, but was later enslaved again.  The excerpt concludes with Bert Mayfield’s thought on emancipation and Lincoln. 
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Excerpt:

…There was no slave jail on the Stone place, and I never saw a slave sold or auctioned off. I was told that one of our slaves ran off and was gone for three years. Some white person wrote him to come home that he was free. He was making his own way in Ohio and stopped in Lexington, Kentucky for breakfast; while there he was asked to show his Pass papers which he did, but they were forged so he was arrested. Investigators soon found that his owner was Mr. Stone who did not wish to sell him and sent for him to come home…[Mr. Stone sent a White man to bring the enslaved man back to the plantation] … but instead he sold him to a southern slave trader… 

I received the first news of freedom joyfully. I went to old man Onstott’s to live. I lived there two or three years. I think Abe Lincoln a great man. He did not believe in slavery and would have paid the southern people for their slaves if he had lived…


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Bert Mayfield1852 (Unknown)Eliza IsonSmith Stone
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Garrard County, KYKYBryantsville, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Garrard County, Lincoln, First Person, Resistance, Slave Trader, Emancipation

Mayfield_B_1