Watt Jordan

Watt Jordan grew up in a large family of enslaved persons.  He and his family lived in fear of being separated after his grandmother was sold and never seen again.  In this excerpt, he describes that event, as well as his and his family’s fate after Emancipation, in which he was bound out but left that home early due to cruel treatment.
See full document • Visit the Library of Congress to see the original document


. . . There were thirteen of us children.  I remember best, Molly, Walker, Charles, Aggie, Henry, and Zeke.  They were fixing to sell us again when freedom was declared.  My mother was sick, and she feared we would all be sold down south somewhere and she’d never see us again. 

. . . When freedom was declared, ole man Spencer told Mother she could stay on until she got well, and he wanted to know what she was going to do about us children.  So she bound several of us out and I went to  Matt Clay, who took me to stay until I was 21.  I’ve never seen Mother again.

I left Clay’s after he flew into a rage one day and was going to whip me. I was eighteen then, and I knew I was just as good a man as Clay was; so, when he started to whip me, I just whipped him and left.  He tried to get me back, then came to town and raised a racket, but folks all told him I was free to do what I wanted, so he left me alone. 

The Spencer plantation wasn’t big and there weren’t so many slaves on it.  My grandmother lived on the same plantation as us, but they sold her off somewhere, and we never saw or heard tell of her again. Once, ole man Spencer gave her a good whipping, because she stole food from the house for us children, and I remember it because we never got hardly anything to eat.

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Watt Jordan1857UnknownDick SpencerJordan
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Clark County, OHOhioFleming County, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Family, EmancipationFirst person, dialect, witnessed extreme cruelty, bound out after war sold (family)