Charles Anderson

Charles Anderson lived in enslavement in Kentucky before and during the Civil War.  In this excerpt, he describes becoming a free man, his hesitancy to leave the plantation, the act of voting, and his realization that racial problems continued to exist in our country long after Reconstruction.
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Excerpt:

I don’t know when freedom came on. I never did know. We was five or six years breaking up. Master Stone never forced any of us to leave. He give some of them a horse when they left. I cried a year to go back. It was a dear place to me and the memories linger with me every day.

There was no secret society or order of Ku Klux in reach of us as I ever heard.

I voted Republican ticket. We would go to Jackson to vote. There would be a crowd. The last I voted was for Theodore Roosevelt. I voted here in Helena for years. I was on the petit jury for several years here in Helena.

I farmed in your state some (Arkansas). I farmed all my young life. I been in Arkansas sixty years. I come here February 1879 with distant relatives. They come south. When I come to Helena there was but one set of mechanics. I started to work. I learned to paint and hang wallpaper. I’ve worked in nearly every house in Helena.

The present times are gloomy. I tried to prepare for old age. I had a apartment house and lost it. I owned a home and lost it. They foreclosed me out.

The present generation is not doing as well as I have.


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Charles AndersonUnknown (77 or 78)Irene RobertsonIsaac and Davis Stone
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Helena, ARArkansasNelson County, Kentucky
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Emancipation, Voting, Citizenship, 15th AmendmentFirst Person, Witnessed Extreme Cruelty, Slaver Father

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Charles Anderson

Charles Anderson lived in enslavement Kentucky before and during the Civil War.  In this excerpt, he describes witnessing a woman being auctioned off to enslavers who wanted females who could conceive and raise children to be enslaved in the future.
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Excerpt:

I seen a woman sold. They had on her a short dress, no sleeves, so they could see her muscles, I reckon. They would buy them and put them with good healthy men to raise young slaves. I heard that. I was very small when I seen that young woman sold and years later I heard that was what was done.


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Charles AndersonUnknown (77 or 78)Irene RobertsonIsaac and Davis Stone
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Helena, ARArkansasNelson County, Kentucky
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Gender/Gender Roles, IntersectionalityFirst Person, Witnessed Extreme Cruelty, Slaver Father

Anderson_C_1

Ann Gudgel

Ann Gudgel lived in enslavement during the Civil War.  In this excerpt, she describes how enslaved persons were vaccinated against smallpox (the process involved infecting a patient with the pus of a smallpox victim).  
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Excerpt:

One day they vaccinated all the slaves but mine never took at all. I never told anybody, but I just sat right down by the fireplace and rubbed wood ashes and juice that spewed out of the wood real hard over the scratch. All the others were really sick and had the most awful arms, but mine never did even hurt.


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Ann GudgelUnknownMildred RobertsBall
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Anderson County, KYKentuckyUnknown
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
ViolenceFirst person, dialect, witnessed extreme cruelty

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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

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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

Thomas Lewis

In this interview, the interviewer recounts in the first person Thomas Lewis’s memories of the Civil War and his mother’s interactions with Union soldiers. 
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Excerpt:

…Once when I was a little boy, I was sitting on the fence while my mother plowed to get the field ready to put in wheat. The white man who owned her was plowing too. Some Yankee soldiers on horses came along. One rode up to the fence and when my mother came to the end of the furrow, he said to her, “Lady, could you tell me where Jim Downs’ still house is?” My mother started to answer, but the man who owned her told her to move on. The soldiers told him to keep quiet, or they would make him sorry. After he went away, my mother told the soldiers where the house was. The reason her master did not want her to tell where the house was, was that some of his Rebel friends [people supporting the Confederacy] were hiding there. Spies had reported them to the Yankee [Union] soldiers. They went to the house and captured the Rebels.

Next soldiers came walking. I had no cap. One soldier asked me why I did not wear a cap. I said I had no cap. The soldier said, “You tell your mistress I said to buy you a cap or I’ll come back and kill the whole family.” They bought me a cap, the first one I ever had.

The soldiers passed for three days and a half. They were getting ready for a battle. The battle was close. We could hear the cannon. After it was over, a white man went to the battle field. He said that for a mile and a half one could walk on dead men and dead horses. My mother wanted to go and see it, but they wouldn’t let her, for it was too awful.

…Once they sent my mother there [to the nearest small town]… She saw a flash, and something hit a big barn. The timbers flew every way, and I suppose killed men and horses that were in the barn. There were Rebels hidden in the barn and in the houses, and a Yankee spy had found out where they were. They bombed the barn and surrounded the town. No one was able to leave. The Yankees came and captured the Rebels.

I had a cousin named Jerry. Just a little while before the barn was struck a white man asked Jerry how he would like to be free. Jerry said that he would like it all right. The white men took him into the barn and were going to put him over a barrel and beat him half to death. Just as they were about ready to beat him, the bomb struck the barn and Jerry escaped…


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Thomas Lewis1857 (approx. 80)Estella R. DodsonUnknown
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Bloomington, ININKY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Civil WarSpencer County, First Person, Witnessed Extreme Cruelty, Union Troops, Klan/Mob Violence, Hired Out

Lewis_T_1

Thomas Lewis

In this excerpt, the interviewer recounts in the first person Thomas Lewis’s memory of how White people forced Black people to work for free even after the Civil War and how Thomas Lewis’s mother resisted this practice. 

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

…I was born in Spencer County, Kentucky, in 1857. I was born a slave. There was slavery all around on all the adjoining places. I was seven years old when I was set free. My father was killed in the Northern army. My mother, step-father and my mother’s four living children came to Indiana when I was twelve years old. My grandfather was set free and given a little place of about sixteen acres. 

[After the Civil War was over] A gang of white men went to my grandmother’s place and ordered the [ ___ ] people out to work. The [ ___ ] people had worked before for white men, on shares. When the wheat was all in and the corn laid by, the white farmers would tell the [ ___ ] people to get out, and would give them nothing. The [ ___ ] people did not want to work that way, and refused. This was the cause of the raids by white farmers. My mother recognized one of the men in the gang and reported him to the standing soldiers in Louisville. He was caught and made to tell who the others were until they had 360 men. All were fined and none allowed to leave until all the fines were paid. So the rich ones had to pay for the poor ones. Many of them left because all were made responsible if such an event ever occurred again.

Our family left because we did not want to work that way….


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Thomas Lewis1857 (approx. 80)Estella R. DodsonUnknown
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Bloomington, ININKY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Sharecropping, ViolenceSpencer County, First Person, Witnessed Extreme Cruelty, Union Troops, Klan/Mob Violence, Hired Out

Lewis_T_2

Thomas Lewis

In this interview, the interviewer recounts in the first person formerly enslaved person Thomas Lewis’s explanation of why enslaved people resisted and the consequence of that resistance. 
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Excerpt:

… There was no such thing as being good to slaves. Many people were better than others, but a slave belonged to his master and there was no way to get out of it. A strong man was hard to make work. He would fight so that the white men trying to hold him would be breathless. Then there was nothing to do but kill him. If a slave resisted, and his master killed him, it was the same as self-defense today. If a cruel master whipped a slave to death, it put the fear into the other slaves…


Interviewee 
Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Thomas Lewis1857 (approx. 80)Estella R. DodsonUnknown
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Bloomignton, ININKY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Resistance, ViolenceSpencer County, First Person, Witnessed Extreme Cruelty, Union Troops, Klan/Mob Violence, Hired Out

Lewis_T_3

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

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