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

M.S. Fayman

M.S. Fayman was born free to wealthy free parents in Louisiana.  Her family was Creole – her grandmother was Haitian (Black) and her grandfather was French.  Her parents sent her to a private boarding school when she was five years old.  When she was ten, she was kidnapped at school and forcibly enslaved in Kentucky by Buckram Haynes, who forced M.S. Fayman to teach his children French until she escaped. After her escape, she returned home, attended Fisk University and became a French teacher there.  In this excerpt, the interviewer recounts M.S. Fayman’s kidnapping and description of her enslavement in the first person. 
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Excerpt:

… [My family] lived in a large and spacious house surrounded by flowers and situated on a farm containing about 750 acres, on which we raised pelicans for sale in the market at New Orleans.  

When I was about 5 years old I was sent to a private School in Baton Rouge, conducted by French sisters [nuns], where I stayed until I was kidnapped in 1860. At that time I did not know how to speak English; French was the language spoken in my household and by the people in the parish [county].  Baton Rouge, situated on the Mississippi, was a river port and stopping place for all large river boats, especially between New Orleans and large towns and cities north. We children were taken out by the sisters after school and on Saturdays and holidays to walk. One of the places we went was the wharf. One day in June and on a Saturday a large boat was at the wharf going north on the Mississippi River. We children were there. Somehow, I was separated from the other children. I was taken up bodily by a white man, carried on the boat, put in a cabin and kept there until we got to Louisville, Kentucky, where I was taken off.  After I arrived in Louisville I was taken to a farm near Frankfort [Kentucky] and installed there, virtually a slave until 1864, when I escaped through the kindness of a delightful Episcopalian woman from Cincinnati, Ohio. 

As I could not speak English, my chores were to act as a tutor and companion for the children of Pierce Buckran Haynes, a well known slave trader and plantation owner in Kentucky. Haynes wanted his children to speak French and it was my duty to teach them. I was the private companion of three girls and one small boy, each day I had to talk French and write French for them. They became very proficient in French, and I in the rudiments [basics] of the English language.  I slept in the children’s quarters with the Haynes’ children, ate and played with them. I had all the privileges of the household accorded me with the exception of one, I never was taken off nor permitted to leave the plantation. While on the plantation I wore good clothes, similar to those of the white children. 

Haynes was a merciless brutal tyrant with his slaves, punishing them severely and cruelly both by the lash and in the jail on the plantation… On the farm the slaves were assigned a task to do each day and In the event it was not finished they were severely whipped. While I never saw a slave whipped, I did see them afterwards, they were very badly marked and striped by the overseers who did the whipping…. 


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
M.S. Fayman1850 (approx. 87)RogersPierce Buckram Haynes
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Baltimore, MDMDSaint-Nazaire, LA
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Education, Kidnapped, Resistance, EscapeFirst Person, Witnessed Extreme Cruelty, Slave Traders

Fayman_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

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

Frank Cooper

Frank Cooper was a child when he first spoke to his mother about her experiences being enslaved.  This excerpt starts with her reaction to he and his siblings asking her about scars on their backs.  After she has given them a taste of her experiences, she goes on to tell them of a time when she was whipped and severely beaten by her enslavers.  The excerpt ends with her enslaver attempting to auction her off, only to stop the sale to an enslaver who only wanted to punish her.
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Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Frank CooperUnknownWilliam R. MaysGood,  Burton, Cooper
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Franklin, INIndianaKentucky
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Family, Gender/Gender roles, ViolenceFirst person, whipped, witnessed extreme cruelty, slave traders, sold (family)

Excerpt:

One day while my mammy was washing her back my sistah noticed ugly disfiguring scars on it. Inquiring about them, we found, much to our amazement, that they were mammy’s relics of the now gone, if not forgotten, slave days.

This was her first reference to her misery days that she had ever made in my presence. Of course we all thought she was telling us a big story and we made fun of her. With eyes flashing, she stopped bathing, dried her back and reached for the smelly ole black whip that hung behind the kitchen door. Bidding us to strip down to our waists, my little mammy with the boney bent-over back, struck each of us as hard as ever she could with that black-snake whip, each stroke of the whip drew blood from our backs. Now, she said to us, you have a taste of slavery days. With three of her children now having tasted of some of her misery days she was in the mood to tell us more of her sufferings; still indelibly impressed in my mind.

‘My ole back is bent over from the quick-tempered blows feld by the red-headed Miss Burton.  At dinner time one day when the churning wasn’t finished for the noonday meal, she said with an angry look that must have been reborn in my mammy’s eyes—eyes that were dimmed by years and hard living, three white women beat me from anger because they had no butter for their biscuits and cornbread. Miss Burton used a heavy board while the missus used a whip. While I was on my knees begging’ them to quit, Miss Burton hit the small of my back with the heavy board.I knew no more until kind Mr. Hamilton, who was staying with the white folks, brought me inside the cabin and brought me around with the camphor bottle. I’ll always thank him—God bless him—he picked me up where they had left me like a dog to die in the blazing noonday sun.

‘After my back was broken it was doubted whether I would ever be able to work again or not. I was placed on the auction block to be bidded for so my owner could see if I was worth anything or not. One man bid $1700 after putting’ two dirty fingers in my mouth to see my teeth. I bit him and his face showed anger. He then wanted to own me so he could punish me. Thinking his bid of $1700 was official, he unstrapped his buggy whip to beat me, but my master saved me. My master declared the bid unofficial.  At this auction my sister was sold for $1900 and was never seen by us again.’

Cooper_F_1

John Graves

John Graves was originally enslaved in Charleston but his mother was purchased and moved to Kentucky when he was five.  In this excerpt, he briefly recounts how it came to be that he and his mother moved from Charleston to Kentucky.

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

I was born ten years when Freedom came out. Been seventy-odd years since Freedom, ain’t it, Cap?  Dr. Jim Gibbs was mighty good to me. You see that I’m going about now. Dr. Gibbs came from Aiken to Union and set up a drug store where Cohen’s is now. Dr. Gibbs was a Charleston man, but I am a Kentucky man. Dr. Gibbs brought me from Kentucky to Charleston when I was five years old. My ma was the one that they bought. Dr. Gibbs’ wife was a Bohen up in Kentucky. When Dr. Gibbs fetched his wife to Charleston, he bought my ma from his wife’s pa, and she fetched me along too. 


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
John GravesUnknown (85 years old)Caldwell SimsDr. Jim Gibbs
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Spartanburg, SCSouth CarolinaUnknown
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
FamilyFirst Person, Dialect, Sold (self or family), Slave Traders

Graves_J_1

John W. Fields

John W. Fields lived in enslavement and gained freedom shortly before the Civil War ended.  In this excerpt, he describes the situation that arose when his first enslaver died, and the 12 children had to pick the name of their new enslaver out of a hat.  This led to every child being separated from their mother.

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Excerpt:

My name is John W. Fields and I’m eighty-nine (89) years old. I was born March 27, 1848 in Owensboro, Ky. That’s 115 miles below Louisville, Ky. There were 11 other children besides myself in my family. When I was six years old, all of us children were taken from my parents, because my master died and his estate had to be settled. We slaves were divided by this method. Three disinterested persons were chosen to come to the plantation and together they wrote the names of the different heirs on a few slips of paper. These slips were put in a hat and passed among us slaves. Each one took a slip and the name on the slip was the new owner. I happened to draw the name of a relative of my master who was a widow. I can’t describe the heartbreak and horror of that separation. I was only six years old and it was the last time I ever saw my mother for longer than one night. Twelve children taken from my mother in one day. Five sisters and two brothers went to Charleston, Virginia, one brother and one sister went to Lexington Ky., one sister went to Hartford, Ky., and one brother and myself stayed in Owensburg, Ky. My mother was later allowed to visit among us children for one week of each year, so she could only remain a short time at each place.


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
John W. Fields1848 (89)Cecil C. MillerDavid Hill
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Lafayette, INIndianaOwensboro, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Family, slave tradersFirst person, sold

Fields_J_1