Bert Mayfield

The interviewer recorded this excerpt as a first person narrative by Bert Mayfield.  In the excerpt, Bert Mayfield describes “stirring offs” – the social gatherings that accompanied work needed to make food from  maple syrup. Bert Mayfield also describes the role religion played in his life.  This excerpt contains two songs that were recorded by the interviewer. 
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 …[Bert Mayfield describes how sugar was tapped from the enslaver’s maple trees.  The syrup was boiled down to be useful at]…these “stirring offs” which usually took place at night.

The neighbors would usually come and bring their slaves. We played Sheep-meat and other games. Sheep-meat was a game played with a yarn ball and when one of the players was hit by the ball that counted him out. One song we would always sing was;

“Who ting-a-long?
Who ting-a-long?
Who’s been here since I’ve been gone?
A pretty girl with a josey on”.

My old missus Meg taught me how to read from an old national spelling book, but I did not learn to write. We had no church, but the Bible was read to us on Sunday afternoons by some of the white folks. The first Church I remember was the Old Fork Baptist Church… The first preacher I remember was Burdette Kemper. I heard him preach at the old church where my missus and master took me every Sunday. The first Baptizing that I remember was on Dix Fiver near Floyd’s Mill. Preacher Kemper did the Baptizing and Ellen Stone, one of our slaves was Baptized there with a number of others—whites and blacks too. When Ellen came up out of the water she was clapping her hands and shouting. One of the songs I remember at this Baptizing was:

“Come sinners and Saints and hear me tell

  The wonders of E-Man-u-el,

Who brought my soul with him to dwell

  And give me heavenly union.”

…On Sunday’s we would hold prayer meetings among ourselves… 

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, Religion, Songs, Social Gatherings, Education


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