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

Peter Bruner

The interviewer recounts her interview with Peter Bruner in the third person.  Enslaver John Bell Bruner was “very cruel” to Peter Bruner.  John Bell Bruner and his wife frequently whipped Peter Bruner and never gave him enough to eat.  In the excerpt below, the interviewer describes Peter Bruner frequent attempts to escape, including his successful escape after which he enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War. 
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Excerpt:

…Peter endured torture as long as he could and finally decided to escape. He went to Richmond, Kentucky on to Lexington. On his way, he made a contract with a man to drive his horses to Orleans, but was caught while in Lexington. On his way, they caught him and took him to jail and he remained until his master came for him. This did not down him, for just as soon as he could he escaped again, and this time got as far as Xenia, Ohio, but was again caught and brought back. This time he was severely beaten for three hours.

When 17 years old, Peter was hired out to Jimmy Benton, who was more cruel than John Bruner, but was again brought back. It was then that he tried again to escape… This was about the year 1861, when the war had begun. Again he was caught and taken back…. He escaped several times but never could seem to get anywhere. Once when he and another slave, Phil, escaped they were caught and made to walk the entire distance barefoot. After this Peter was chained each night to a chair. One morning while eating his breakfast he heard a knock at the door and on opening it he found a troop of Union Home Guards. Jim Benton and John Bruner were taken to prison…

When John Bruner was taken from [released from] Prison, he was much better to Peter. Soon after John was released from Prison, Peter escaped again. This time he had joined a regiment in the war. He went through hardships, cold, hunger, and illness…


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Peter Bruner1845 (91)Evelyn McLemoreJohn Bell Bruner
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Estill County, KYKYWinchester, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Escape, Resistance, ViolenceEstill County, Clark County, Third Person, Whipped, Union Troops, Veteran or Widow, Hired Out

Bruner_P_1

Susan Dale Sanders

In this interview, recorded in the first person, the interviewer recounts Susan Dale Sanders’s emancipation. 
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Excerpt:

…After I [Susan Dale Sanders] grew up, I worked for Mrs. Susan Lovell, who was the ole master’s married daughter. She lived down the road from his farm. She was good to me! You see I was named after Susan Lovell. It was while I was working for her when the [Civil] war ended. She told me I was free after the war was over. I got happy and sang, but I didn’t know for a long time what to be free was, so after the war she hired me and I stayed on doing all the cooking and washing and all the work, and I was hired by her for four dollars a month… 


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Susan Dale SandersUnknown (Unknown)Byers YorkRueben Dale, Susan Lovell
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Louisville, KYKYTaylorsville, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
EmancipationSpencer County, First Person, Veteran or Widow, 

Sanders_S_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

Susan Dale Sanders

In this interview, recorded in the first person, the interviewer recounts how Susan Dale Sanders’s parents were enslaved people who lived on separate plantations. 
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Excerpt:

…The next farm close to the master’s was owned by a man, Colonel Jack Allen, and he had a big farm and owned lots of slaves. And Mammy was allowed to marry one of the Allen slaves, and my father’s name was Will Allen. You see the slaves had the same name as the masters, as he owned them. My mammy had seven children and we all grew up on our master Dales farm. My father had to stay at his master’s, Col. Jack Allen’s, and work in the fields all day, but at night he would come to my mammy’s cabin and stay all night, and go back to his master’s, Col. Allen’s fields the next morning… 


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Susan Dale SandersUnknown (Unknown)Byers YorkRueben Dale, Susan Lovell
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Louisville, KYKYTaylorsville, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
MarriageSpencer County, First Person, Veteran or Widow, 

Sanders_S_2

Patsy Jane Bland

Almost 107 at the time she was interviewed, the interviewer notes that Patsy Jane Bland remembered a great deal about life as an enslaved person.  Patsy Jane Bland was sold twice as an enslaved person and had four children when the Civil War began.  In this excerpt, recorded in the third person, the interviewer recounts Patsy Jane Bland’s education, memories of a white wedding, and emancipation. 
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Excerpt:

…She [Patsy Jane Bland] had to work, too, for life was not all play and she recalls sitting at the feet of her little mistress and learning to spell out her letters until the mother of the white child decided that she was getting too smart and she had to stop, until she was married to her last and fourth husband, who taught her some more… 

[Patsy Jane Bland remembers a wedding of white people at the enslaver’s home.] The wedding preparations began days in advance with the saving of chickens and eggs and butter. The liveliest egg-beating, butter creaming, raisin stoning, sugar pounding, cake icing, coconut scraping, and grating, Jelly straining, silver cleaning, egg frothing, floor rubbing, pastry making, ruffle crimping, tarlatan smoothing, trunk moving time you ever saw, and the peeping at the bride with her long veil and train, and the guests the whole army of slaves turned out to help.

Aunt Patsy remembers the night before the wedding when they all gathered in the quarter to sing every song they knew over and over again, celebrating the leaving of the bride for Virginia and how Young Miss died soon after her big wedding and was buried in her bridal dress…

Already the mother of four when the Civil War began, Patsy remembered seeing soldiers, and “because they were scared,” the slaves ran from them and hid out. She remembered the day all the blacks on her plantation were set free. There was shouting and crying; there was joy and sadness. She said many blacks did not want to leave the plantation to go out into a world of which they knew nothing. Patsy, though, gathered her four children around her, and with her husband, who was named Wilson, left the plantation. When the fieldworker asked if she was happier free, Patsy looked off into the distance and said, “Free? Is anybody ever free? Isn’t everybody you know a slave to someone or something or other?”


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Patsy Jane Bland1830 (106)Anna Bowles WileyWilliam Kettering, Charles Morgan, John Boyle
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Terre Haute, ININKY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Education, Marriage (Whites), EmancipationShelby County, Third Person, Whipped, Sold, Veteran or Widow, 

Bland_P_1

John Eubanks

The excerpts below provide teachers a unique opportunity to consider perspective and decisions made by an interviewer.  The interviewer Archie Koritz submitted two separate documents for his interview with John Eubanks.  

The first, featured in “Part 1” below is written in the third person.  In the excerpt, Archie Koritz  shares the story of how the enslavers of John Eubanks allowed him to join the Union army during the Civil War, how John Eubanks enlisted, and his experience returning after the war.

The second interview is labeled “Part 2” and is written in the first person.  The excerpt from this interview covers the same content as that in “Part 1” but the details included in this part of the interview do not appear at all in “Part 1.”  The reader can speculate that “Part 2” is similar to a transcript of the interview and “Part 1” is closer to a report of the interview submitted by interviewer Archie Koritz.  
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Source Description:

[Part 1: Recorded by the interviewer in the third person.]

Shortly after the beginning of the Civil War, when the north seemed to be losing, someone conceived the idea of forming negro regiments and as an inducement to the slaves, they offered them freedom if they would join the Union forces. John’s mistress and master told him that if he wished to join the Union forces, he had their consent and would not have to run away like other slaves were doing. At the beginning of the war, John was twenty-one years of age. When Lincoln freed the slaves by his Emancipation Proclamation, John was promptly given his freedom by his master and mistress.

John decided to join the northern army which was located at Bowling Green, Kentucky, a distance of thirty-five miles from Glasgow where John was living. He had to walk the entire thirty-five miles…

[The interview lists the battle John Eubanks fought in during the Civil War, then describes return home after the Civil War ended.] Upon his return to Glasgow, Ky,  he saw for the first time in six years, his mother and other members of his family who had returned free.


[Part 2: What follows is a different version of the interview, recorded by the same interviewer, but this time in the first person. Below are excerpts that cover the same topics described in Part 1.]  

I was twenty-one when war broke out. Master Eubanks said to me, ‘You all don’t need to run away if you all want to join up with the army.’ He’d say, ‘There would be a fine if slaves ran off. You all don’t have to run off, go right on and I do not pay that fine.’ He said, ‘Enlist in the army but don’t run off.’ 

Now, I walk thirty-five miles from Glasgow to Bowling Green to this place—to the enlisting place—from home for miles—to Glasgow—to Bowling Green, thirty-five miles. On the road I meet up with two boys, so we go on. They ran away from Kentucky, and we go together.  

Then some Bushwackers [during the Civil War, these were people who supported the Confederacy in states that remained in the Union (like Kentucky) and practiced guerilla warfare even though they usually were not in the Confederate army.] come down the road. We were scared and ran to the woods and hid. As we ran through the woods, pretty soon we heard chickens crowing. We filled our pockets with stones. We were going to kill chickens to eat. Pretty soon we heard a man holler, ‘You come ’round outta there’—and I see a white man and come out. He said, ‘What are you all doing here?’  I turn around and say, ‘Well boys, come on boys,’ and the boys come out. The man said, ‘I’m a Union Soldier. What are you all doing here?’ I say, ‘We’re going to enlist in the army.’ He says, ‘That’s fine’ and he says, ‘come along’ He says, ‘get right on white man’s side’—we go to the station. Then he says, ‘You go right down to the station and give your information… 

…When I came back from the army, I went home to Mother and said ‘Don’t you know me?’ She says, ‘No, I don’t know you.’  I say, ‘You don’t know me?’ She says, ‘No, I don’t know you.’  I say, ‘I’m John.’ Then she cried, and said how I’d grown, and she thought I’d been dead this long time. I explained how the many fights I’ve been in with no scratch and she was happy…


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
John Eubanks1836 or 1839 (approx 98)Archie KoritzEverett Family, Tony Eubanks
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Gary, ININGlasgow, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Civil War, Family, Emancipation, Enlistment, InterviewerBarron County, First Person, Third Person, Dialect, Whipped, Witnessed Extreme Cruelty, Union Troops, Veteran or Widow, Notable

Eubanks_J_3

John Eubanks

Tony and Becky Eubanks enslaved John Eubanks during the period described in this excerpt.  The Eubanks family supported the Union during the Civil War and allowed the men they enslaved to join the Union army, which John Eubanks chose to do, joining Company K of the 108th Kentucky Infantry Regiment – a unit of Black soldiers who volunteered to fight. At the time of the interview, John Eubanks was the only surviving Civil War veteran in his town. In this excerpt, the interviewer recounts John Eubanks’s experiences during the Civil War in the third person.    

The excerpts below provide teachers a unique opportunity to consider perspective and decisions made by an interviewer. The interviewer Archie Koritz submitted two separate documents for his interview with John Eubanks.  

The first, featured in “Part 1” below is written in the third person.  In the excerpt, Archie Koritz lists John Eubanks experiences as a Union soldier during the Civil War. 

The second interview is labeled “Part 2” and is written in the first person.  The excerpt from this interview covers the same content as that in “Part 1.” The reader can speculate that “Part 2” is similar to a transcript of the interview and “Part 1” is closer to a report of the interview submitted by interviewer Archie Koritz.  

*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
Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
John Eubanks1836 or 1839 (approx 98)Archie KoritzEverett Family, Tony Eubanks
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Gary, ININGlasgow, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Civil War, Emancipation, InterviewerBarron County, First Person, Third Person, Dialect, Whipped, Witnessed Extreme Cruelty, Union Troops, Veteran or Widow, Notable

Excerpt:

…Shortly after the beginning of the Civil War, when the north seemed to be losing, someone conceived the idea of forming… [Black] regiments and as an inducement to the slaves, they offered them freedom if they would join the Union forces. John’s mistress and master told him that if he wished to join the Union forces, he had their consent and would not have to run away like other slaves were doing. At the beginning of the war, John was twenty-one years of age. When Lincoln freed the slaves by his Emancipation Proclamation, John was promptly given his freedom by his master and mistress.

John decided to join the northern army which was located at Bowling Green, Kentucky, a distance of thirty-five miles from Glasgow where John was living. He had to walk the entire thirty-five miles. Although he fails to remember all the units that he was attached to, he does remember that it was part of [Union] General Sherman’s army. His regiment started with Sherman on his famous march through Georgia, but for some reason unknown to John, shortly after the campaign was on its way, his regiment was recalled and sent elsewhere.

His regiment was near Vicksburg, Mississippi, at the time [Confederate General] Lee surrendered…When Lee surrendered there was much shouting among the troops and John was one of many put to work loading cannons on boats to be shipped up the river…

When [Confederate] General Morgan, the famous southern raider, crossed the Ohio on his raid across southern Indiana, John was one of the…[Black] fighters who after heavy fighting, forced Morgan to recross the river and retreat back to the south. He also participated in several skirmishes with the cavalry troops commanded by the famous [Confederate General] Nathan Bedfored Forrest, and was a member of the…[Black] garrison at Fort Pillow, on the Mississippi which was assaulted and captured. This resulted in a massacre of the [redacted] soldiers. John was in several other fights, but as he says, “Never once got a skin hurt.”…


[Part 2: What follows is a different version of the interview, recorded by the same interviewer, but this time in the first person. Below are excerpts that cover the same topics described in Part 1.]  

…I was twenty-one when war broke out. Master Eubanks said to me, ‘You all don’t need to run away if you all want to join up with the army.’ He’d say, ‘There would be a fine if slaves ran off. You all don’t have to run off, go right on and I do not pay that fine.’ He said, ‘Enlist in the army but don’t run off.’…

We were infantry and pretty soon we got into plenty of fights, but not a scratch hit me. We chased the cavalry. We ran them all night and next morning the Captain said, ‘They broke down.’ When we rest, he says ‘See they don’t trick you.’ I say, ‘We got all the army men together. We’ll hold them back ’til help comes.’

We didn’t have any tents, slept on naked ground in wet and cold and rain. Most of the time we were hungry, But we win the war and Master Eubanks tells us we are no more his property, we’re free now…

Eubanks_J_1

John Eubanks

The excerpts below provide teachers a unique opportunity to consider perspective and decisions made by an interviewer.  The interviewer Archie Koritz submitted two separate documents for his interview with John Eubanks. 
 
The first, featured in “Part 1” below is written in the third person.  In the excerpt, Archie Koritz describes John Eubanks life during slavery, calling him “one of hte more fortunate slaves in that his mistress and master were kind.”  

The second interview is labeled “Part 2” and is written in the first person.  The excerpt from this interview covers the same content as that in “Part 1” but is a far more detailed version of John Eubanks life that goes into great detail about the cruelty of his enslaver.  The details included in this part of the interview do not appear at all in “Part 1.”  The reader can speculate that “Part 2” is similar to a transcript of the interview and “Part 1” is closer to a report of the interview submitted by interviewer Archie Koritz.  
See full document • Visit the Library of Congress to see the original document

Excerpt:

[Part 1: Recorded by the interviewer in the third person.]

Following the custom of the south, when the children of the Everrett family grew up, they married and slaves were given them for wedding presents. John was given to a daughter who married a man of the name of Eubanks, hence his name, John Eubanks. John was one of the more fortunate slaves in that his mistress and master were kind and they were in a state divided on the question of slavery. They favored the north. The rest of the children were given to other members of the Everrett family upon their marriage or sold down the river and never saw one another until after the close of the Civil War.


[Part 2: What follows is a different version of the interview, recorded by the same interviewer, but this time in the first person. The examples John Eubanks shares here about how violently his enslaver treated enslaved people do not appear at all in the full version of the interview recorded in Part 1. The brackets used below were inserted by the interviewer at the time the interview was recorded.  ]  

…I remember well, us young’uns on the Everett plantation.  I have worked since I can remember, hoeing, picking cotton and other chores around the farm. We didn’t have many clothes, never underwear, no shoes, old overalls and a tattered shirt, winter and summer. Come the winter, it’d be so cold my feet were plumb numb most of the time, and many a time—when we got a chance—we drove the hogs from out in the bogs and put our feet in the warmed wet mud. They were cracked and the skin on the bottoms and in the toes were cracked and bleeding most of time, with bloody scabs, but the summer healed them again.

“Do you all remember, Grandpap,” [his daughter prompted] “your master—did he treat you mean?”

“No.” [His tolerant acceptance apparent in his answer]  “It was done thataway. Slaves were whipped and punished and the young’uns belonged to the master to work for him or to sell. When I was about six years old, Master Everett gave me to Tony Eubanks as a wedding present when he married master’s daughter Becky.  Becky wouldn’t let Tony whip her slaves who came from her father’s plantation. ‘They are my property,’ she says, ‘and you can’t whip them.’ Tony whipped his other slaves but not Becky’s.

I remember how they tied the slave around a post, with hands tied together around the post, then a husky lashed his back with a snakeskin lash until his back was cut and bloodened, the blood spattered [gesticulating with his unusually large hands] and his back all cut up. Then they’d pour salt water on him. That’d dry and then stick to him. He’d never take it off till it healed. Sometimes I’d see Master Everett hang a slave tip-toe. He’d tie him up so he stood tip-toe and left him thataway…

Master Everett whipped me once, and Mother, she cried. Then Master Everett says, ‘Why do you all cry?—You cry, I’ll whip another of these young’uns. She tried to stop. He whipped another. He says, ‘If you all don’t stop, you will be whipped too!’, and Mother, she’s trying to stop but tears roll out, so Master Everett whips her too.

I wanted to visit Mother when I belonged to Master Eubanks, but [enslaver Master Eubanks’s wife] Becky said, ‘You all best not see your Mother, or you’ll want to go all the time, then explaining that she wanted me to forget Mother, but I never could…


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
John Eubanks1836 or 1839 (approx 98)Archie KoritzEverett Family, Tony Eubanks
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Gary, ININGlasgow, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Violence, Family, InterviewerBarron County, First Person, Third Person, Dialect, Whipped, Witnessed Extreme Cruelty, Union Troops, Veteran or Widow, Notable

Eubanks_J_2

Billy Slaughter

The interviewer’s perspective and opinions are evident throughout this interview, including the interviewers use of a variety of derogatory terms to refer to Billy Slaughter.  Students should be reminded of the context of the WPA interviews, and consider the impact of the interviewer on the written interview.  In this excerpt, the interviewer records Billy Slaughter’s opinions about President Lincoln and 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.
See full document • Visit the Library of Congress to see the original document

Excerpt:

…[Billy Slaughter’s] real hero was Abraham Lincoln. He plans another pilgrimage to the Lincoln Farm to look again at the cabin in which his Emancipator was born. He asked me if I read history very much. I assured him that I read it to some extent… In the beginning of the War, the Negroes who enlisted in the Union Army were given freedom, also the wives, and the children who were not married.

… Not all [redacted] who wanted to join the Union forces were able to do so because of the strict watchfulness of their masters. The slaves were made to fight in the southern [Confederate] army whether they wanted to or not. This lessened the number of free [redacted] in the Northern army. As a result, Lincoln decided to free all [redacted]… This was the [redacted] story of the conditions that brought about the Emancipation Proclamation. Freeing the [redacted] was brought about during the Civil War but it was not the reason that the war was fought, was the unusual opinion of this [redacted]… [Billy Slaughter’s father joined the Union Army.] Uncle Billy’s father and mother and their children who were not married were given freedom. The old slave has kept the papers that were drawn up for this act.

The [redacted] explained that the [redacted]soldiers never fought in any decisive battles. There must always be someone to clean and polish the harness, care for the horses, dig ditches, and construct parapets…


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Billy Slaughter1858 (Unknown)Beulah Van MeterLincoln
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Jeffersonville, ININHodgenville, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Civil War, Lincoln, EmancipationThird Person, Union Troops, Veteran or Widow, 

Slaughter_B_1