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

Jenny McKee

In this interview, the interviewer recounts the life of Jenny McKee in the third person, referring to her as “Aunt Jenny.”  In this excerpt, the interviewer documents how Jenny McKee was either sold or given away by her step-father to a Black woman, whose husband fought for the Union in the Civil War.   

*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:

 …During the [Civil] War, her mother died with cholera, and after the war, her step-father sold or gave her away to an old [redacted] lady by the name of Tillet, her husband was a captain from the 116th regiment from Manchester [the 116th United States Colored Infantry Regiment was made up of Black soldiers who served under white officers and fought for the Union during the Civil War].

They had no children and so Aunt Jenny was given or sold to Martha Tillet. Aunt Jenny still has the paper that was written with her adoption…the paper was exactly as written below:

White Ranch

September 10, 1866

To Whom it may concern, I, John Redman has this day given my consent that Mrs. Martha Tillet can have my child Jenny Redman to raise and own as her child, that I shall not claim and take her away at any time in the future.

  x

John Redman

his mark

She has a picture in her possession of Captain Tillet in war costume and with his old rifle. After the war the Tillets were sent back to Manchester where he was mustered out, Aunt Jenny being with them. “I stayed with them,” Aunt Jenny said, “until I was married Dec. 14, 1876, to David McKee another soldier of the 116th regiment”. She draws a pension now from his services…


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Jenny McKeeUnknown (about 85)UnknownMartha Tillet
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Laurel County, KYKYTX
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Civil War, Union TroopsFirst Person, Sold, Enslaver Father, Veteran or Widow

McKee_J_1

Joe Robinson

The interviewer records the life of Joe Robinson in the third person.  In the excerpt below, the interviewer recounts Joe Robinson’s comparison of how two different enslavers treated those they enslaved.  The teacher may need to help students critically consider what it means for an enslaver to be “very kind” to the people he is enslaving.  
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Source Description:

…[Joe Robinson’s] master, Gus Hargill, was very kind to him and all his slaves. He owned a large farm and raised every kind of vegetation. He always gave his slaves plenty to eat. They never had to steal food. He said his slaves had worked hard to permit him to have plenty, therefore they should have their share.

Joe, his mother, a brother, and a sister were all on the same plantation. They were never sold, lived with the same master until they were set free.

Joe’s father was owned by Rube Black, who was very cruel to his slaves, beat them severely for the least offense. One day he tried to beat Joe’s father, who was a large strong man; he resisted his master and tried to kill him. After that, he never tried to whip him again. However, at the first opportunity, Rube sold him.

The Robinson family learned the father had been sold to someone down in Louisiana. They never heard from, or of him, again…


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Joe Robinson1854 (Unknown)Anna PritchettGus Hargill
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Marion County, ININKY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Family, Violence, ResistanceMason County, Third Person, Sold

Robinson_J_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

Mary Crane

In this excerpt, which the interviewer records in the first person, Mary Crane describes how enslaved people were traded and sold like cattle.  She recounts the story of her enslaved father, and how he was almost “sold down the river” to pay for his enslaver’s debts.  The excerpt ends with Mary Crane by explaining what “freedom” meant to her when she was emancipated.  

The full transcript of the interview includes a photograph of Mary Crane taken at the time of the interview. 

*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:

…Zeke Samples [who enslaved Mary Crane’s father] proved to be a man who loved his toddies [alcohol] far better than his bride and before long he was “broke”. Everything he had or owned, including my father, was to be sold at auction to pay off his debts.

In those days, there were men who made a business of buying up [redacted] at auction sales and shipping them down to New Orleans to be sold to owners of cotton and sugar cane plantations, just as men today buy and ship cattle. These men were called “[Redacted]-traders” and they would ship whole boat loads at a time, buying them up, two or three here, two or three there, and holding them in a jail until they had a boat load. This practice gave rise to the expression, “sold down the river.”

My father was to be sold at auction, along with all of the rest of Zeke Samples’ property. Bob Cowherd…owned my grandfather, and the old man, my grandfather, begged Col. Bob to buy my father from Zeke Samples to keep him from being “sold down the river.” Col. Bob offered what he thought was a fair price for my father and a “[redacted]-trader” raised his bid $25.  Col. said he couldn’t afford to pay that much and father was about to be sold … [when my grandfather] told Col. Bob that he had $25 saved up and that if he would buy my father from… he would give him the money. Col. Bob Cowherd took my grandfather’s $25 and offered to meet the trader’s offer and so my father was sold to him.

…When President Lincoln issued his proclamation freeing the [redacted], I remember that my father and most all of the other younger slave men left the farms to join the Union army. We had hard times then for a while and had lots of work to do. I don’t remember just when I first regarded myself as “free”, as many of the [redacted]didn’t understand just what it was all about.


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Mary Crane1855 (82)Emery TurnerWattie Williams
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Mitchell, ININKY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Slave Trade, EmancipationLarue County, First Person, Sold, 

Crane_M_1

Mary Jane Mooreman

The interviewer records this interview in the first person, writing down the words of Mary Jane Mooreman using heavy dialect.  The reader should note that these are not necessarily the exact words of Mary Jane Mooreman –  they are the interviewer’s version of Mary Jane Mooreman’s speech. In this excerpt, the interviewer recounts how Mary Jane Mooreman learned how to read and write before documenting her memories of the Civil War.  

Miss Maud is Mary Jane Mooreman’s employer, who was also present for the interview.Miss Mary is the interviewer, Mary D. Hudgens. 
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Excerpt:

…Yes ma’am we learned to read and write. Oh, Miss Maude now–I don’t want to recite. I don’t want to. (But she did Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and The Playful Kitten–the latter all of 40 lines.) I think, I think they both come out of McGuffey’s second Reader. Yes ma’am I remember McGuffey’s and the Blueback speller too.  

No, Miss Mary, there wasn’t so much of the war that was fought around us. I remember that old Master used to go out in the front yard and stand by a locust tree and put his ear against it. He said that way he could hear the cannon down to Bowling Green. No, I didn’t ever hear any shooting from the war myself.  

Yes ma’am, the Confederates used to come through lots. I remember how we used to go to the spring for water for them. Then we’d stand with the buckets on our heads while they drank–drank out of a big gourd. When the buckets were empty we’d go back to the spring for more water.  Once the Yankees [Union soldiers] come by the place. It was at night. They went out to the quarters [where the enslaved people lived] and they tried to get them to rise up. Told them [the enslaved people] to come on in the big house and take what they wanted. Told them to take anything they wanted to take, take Master’s silver spoons and Miss’ silk dress. ‘If they don’t like it, we’ll shoot their brains out,’ they said. Next morning they told Master. He got scared and moved…  It was near the end of the war and we were already free, only we didn’t know it…


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Mary Jane Mooreman[Year (age at interview)]Mary D. HudgensCharles Wickliffe Mooreman
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
ARARKY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Civil War, Emancipation, Literacy, EducationHartford County, First Person, Sold, Union Troops

Mooreman_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

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