xt7tb27pr31t https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt7tb27pr31t/data/mets.xml Kentucky Federal Writers' Project 1941 Other contributors: Library of Congress. Other titles: Folk history of slavery in Kentucky from interviews with former slaves; Slave narratives: Kentucky; Slave narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938, Kentucky. 123 p. ; 24 cm. UK holds archival copy for ASERL Collaborative Federal Depository Program libraries. Call number E445.K5 K56 2006. books  English Louisville, Ky. : City of Louisville Health Dept. This digital resource may be freely searched and displayed.  Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically.  Physical rights are retained by the owning repository.  Copyright is retained in accordance with U. S. copyright laws.  For information about permissions to reproduce or publish, contact the Special Collections Research Center. Kentucky Works Progress Administration Publications Kentucky Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in Kentucky From Interviews with Former Slaves, typewritten records prepared by the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938 text Kentucky Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in Kentucky From Interviews with Former Slaves, typewritten records prepared by the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938 1941 2015 true xt7tb27pr31t section xt7tb27pr31t ?‘
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SL AVE   A
NAR   IVE S
A Folk History of Slavery in Kentucky
from Interviews with Former Slaves
* l W
Typewritten records prepared by
mm mznmuu. wRmRs· Paomcw
1956-1955
S * I *
Published in cooperation with
cm LIBRARY or commzss
— 1
* it   r J *
I*ii:~{`!»J·?.:. S
APPLEWOOD BOOKS The LIBRARY
Bedford, Massachusetts of 

 A portion of the proceeds from the sale
of this book is donated to the Library of
Congress, which holds the original Slave
Narratives in its collection.
Thank you for purchasing an Applewood book.
Applewood reprints America's lively classics
-—books from the past that are still of
interest to modern readers. For a free copy
of our current catalog, write to:
Applewood Books
1=.o. Box 365
Bedford, MA 017jO
ISBN l—55709—Ol6—5
l

 F0 R EW 0 R D
A _ (ore than 140 years have elapsed since the ratification of the Thirteenth
M. Amendment to the U.S. Constitution declared slavery illegal in the United
States, yet America is still wrestling with the legacy of slavery. One way to
examine and understand the legacy of the 19th Century’s "peculiar institution" in the
21st century is to read and listen to the stories of those who actually lived as slaves.
It is through a close reading of these personal narratives that Americans can widen
their understanding of the past, thus enriching the common memory we share.
The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress is fortunate to hold a
powerful and priceless sampling of sound recordings, manuscript interviews, and
photographs of former slaves. The recordings of former slaves were made in the 19 30s
and early 1940s by folklorists John A. and Ruby T. Lomax, Alan Lomax, Zora Neale
Hurston, Mary Elizabeth Barnicle, John Henry Faulk, Roscoe Lews, and others. These
aural accounts provide the only existing sound of voices from the institution of
slavery by individuals who had been held in bondage three generations earlier. These
voices can be heard by visiting the web site http:/ /memory.loc.gov/ammem/ collec-
tions/voices/. Added to the Folklife Center collections, many of the narratives from
manuscript sources, which you find in this volume, were collected under the auspices
of the United States Works Progress Administration (WPA), and were known as the
slave narrative collection. These transcripts are found in the Library of Congress
Manuscript Division. Finally, in addition to the Folklife Center photographs, a trea-
sure trove of Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographs (including those of
many former slaves) reside in the Prints and Photographs Division here at the na-
tion’s library. Together, these primary source materials on audio tape, manuscript
and photographic formats are a unique research collection for all who would wish
to study and understand the emotions, nightmares, dreams, and determination of
former slaves in the United States.
The slave narrative sound recordings, manuscript materials, and photographs
l are invaluable as windows through which we can observe and be touched by the
experiences of slaves who lived in the mid—19th century. At the same time, these
archival materials are the fruits of an extraordinary documentary effort of the 1930s.
The federal government, as part of its response to the Great Depression, organized
unprecedented national initiatives to document the lives, experiences, and cultural
traditions of ordinary Americans. The slave narratives, as documents of the Federal
Writers Project, established and delineated our modern concept of "oral history." Oral
l history, made possible by the advent of sound recording technology, was "invented"
by folklorists, writers, and other cultural documentarians under the aegis of the
Library of Congress and various WPA offices—especially the Federal Writers' proj-
ect—during the 1930s. Oral history has subsequently become both a new tool for the
discipline of history, and a new cultural pastime undertaken in homes, schools, and
communities by Americans of all walks of life. The slave narratives you read in the
pages that follow stand as our first national exploration of the idea of oral history,
and the first time that ordinary Americans were made part of the historical record.

 The American Folklife Center has expanded upon the WPA tradition by continu-
ing to collect oral histories from ordinary Americans. Contemporary projects such as
our Veterans History Project, StoryCorps Project, Voices of Civil Rights Project, as well
as our work to capture the stories of Americans after September 11, 2001 and of the
survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, are all adding to the Library of Congress
holdings that will enrich the history books of the future. They are the oral histories
of the 21st century.
Frederick Douglas once asked: can "the white and colored people of this country
be blended into a common nationality, and enjoy together. . .under the same flag,
the inestimable blessings of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as neighborly
citizens of a common country? I believe they can." We hope that the words of the
former slaves in these editions from Applewood Books will help Americans achieve
Frederick Douglas’s vision of America by enlarging our understanding of the legacy of
slavery in all of our lives. At the same time, we in the American Folklife Center and
the Library of Congress hope these books will help readers understand the importance
of oral history in documenting American life and culture-—giving a voice to all as we
create our common history.
Peggy Bulger  
Director, The American Folklife Center
Library of Congress
l

 A NOTE FROM THE PUBLISHER
‘_ ince 1976, Applewood Books has been republishing books from America’s past.
S Our mission is to build a picture of America through its primary sources. The
I _ _ book you hold in your hand is a testament to that mission. Published in coop-
eration with the Library of Congress, this collection of slave narratives is reproduced
exactly as writers in the Works Progress Administrations Federal Writers' Project
(1936-1938) originally typed them.
As publishers, we thought about how to present these documents. Rather than
making them more readable by resetting the type, we felt that there was more value
in presenting the narratives in their original form. We believe that to fully under-
stand any primary source, one must understand the period of time in which the
source was written or recorded. Collected seventy years after the emancipation of
American slaves, these narratives had been preserved by the Library of Congress,
fortunately, as they were originally created. In 1941, the Library of Congress mi-
crofilmed the typewritten pages on which the narratives were originally recorded.
In 2001, the Library of Congress digitized the microfilm and made the narratives
available on their American Memory web site. From these pages we have reproduced
the original documents, including both the marks of the writers of the time and the
inconsistencies of the type. Some pages were missing or completely illegible, and we
have used a simple typescript provided by the Library of Congress so that the page
can be read. Although the font occasionally can make these narratives difficult to
read, we believe that it is important not only to preserve the narratives of the slaves
but also to preserve the documents themselves, thereby commemorating the ground-
breaking effort that produced them. That way, also, we can give you, the reader, not
only a collection of the life stories of ex-slaves, but also a glimpse into the time in
which these stories were collected, the 1930s.
These are powerful stories by those who lived through slavery. No institution was
more divisive in American history than slavery. From the very founding of America
and to the present day, slavery has touched us all. We hope these real stories of real
lives are preserved for generations of Americans to come.
l

 
 DQFORIJIANTS
Bogie, Den 1 Oats, Will 18
Henderson, George 5 Robinson, Belle 21
Shirley, Edd 23
Mason, Harriet 9
Mayfield, Bert 115 Woods, wes 24
COMBINED INTERVIEWS
Ann Gudgel 28 Kate Billingsby 60
Mrs. Heyburn 28 Nannie Raves 60
George Scruggs 29 Mary Wright 61
Harriet Mason 51 Sophia Word 66
Rev. John R. Cox 52 Mandy Gibson 74
Amelia Jones 58 Scott Mitchell 76
Jenny McKee 41 Edd Shirley B6
Susan Dale Sanders 45 Peter Bruner BB
John Anderson 45 Easter Sudie Campbell 90
Joana Owens 46 Annie Morgan 105
Charlie Richmond 48 Cora Torian 104
George Dorsey 52 Mary Woodridge 105
Annie B. Boyd 57 Esther Hudespeth 117
,,4

 
 ga;-yard County. Ex—Slave stories. (Eliza leon) .(l)•,, 1
interview`   Ig; ggggg
Uncle Dan tells me "he was born may o, lo5o at the Abe Wheeler
place near Spoonsville, now known as Nina, about nine miles due east
from L&DC&Sb€T· Mother, whose name was Lucinda`§neeler, belonged to
the Wheeler family. Hy father was a slave of`Dan Bogie's, at Kirxs—
ville, in Madison County, and I was named for hhn. My £other‘s people
were born in Garrard County as far as I know.I had one sister, born
in 1660, who is now dead, and is buried not far from lancaster.
larse Bogie owned about EOM acres of land in the eastern section of
the county, and as far as I can remember there were only four
slaves on the place. Us lived in a one—room cabin, with a loft
above, and this cabin was an old fashioned one about hundred yards
from the house. We lived in one room, with one bed in the cabin.
The one bed was an old fashioned, high post corded bed where my
father and mother slept. My sister and me slept in a trundle bed,
F made life thebig bed except the posts were made smaller and was on
rollers, so it could be rolled under the big bed. There was also a
cradle, made of a wooden box, with rockers nailed on, and my mother
told me that she rocked me in that cradle when I was a baby. She
used to sit and sing in the evening. She carded the wool and spun
yarn on the old spinning wheel. my grandfather was a slave.of Talton
Embry, whose farm joined the wheeler fawn. He made shingles with a
steel drawing knife, that had a wooden handle. He made these shingles
in Mr. Embryfs yard. I do not remember my grandmother, and I didn*t
have to work in slave days¢—b&¢ause my mother and father did all
theirwoi·k‘;"lebccept.>tthe heavy-   work-, My Mistns used to give me my
winter} ic&‘o’€.`desa~ My- `“shde~s wei, ¢al—ZEet1v~brog·ane...   old master had

 Gerrard County. Ex-Slave Stories.. (Eliza Ison).(a). 22
snoes made.·He would put my §oot on the floor and mark around it
for the measure of my shoes.
Qost of the cooxing was in an oven in the yard, over the bed
of coals. Baked possum and ground hog in the oven, stewed rabbits, —
fried fish and fired bacon celled "streaked meat" all kinds of vege—
tables, boiled cabbage, gone corn bread, and sorgnum molasses. Old
folks would drink coffee, but cnillun would drink milk, especially
butter milk.
Old master would cu.l us about 4 ofclocm, and everybody had to 1
get up and go to "Stirring". Old ;arse had about 3u or eu sugar trees
·iicn .·.·. rere tapped in Fegruary. Edder spiles were stuck in the taps
for tne water to drop out in toe wooden troughs, under the soiles.
Qnese trougns were hewed out or bockeye. This maple water was gather-.
ed up and gut in a bi; xettle, hung on racks, with a big fire under it
It was then taken to tne house and zinished upon the stove. The skim-
nings ef.er li got to the s,rup stage was builed down and made into
maple sugar for the children. ·
. Us wore tow linen clotnes in summer and jeans in winter. Sister
·..‘ ore linsey in winter oi'di;ierent colors, dyed from herbs, especially
poxe berries; and wore unbleacned cotton in sumner, dyed with yellow
mustard seed.
My grandfather, Jim Lmbry mended snoes and jade rarrly good ones.
There were four slaves. Hy mother did cooxing and the men did .
tne work. Bob Wheeler a nd Arch Bogie were our masters. Eotn were
good and kind to us. X never saw a slave shipped, for my boss did
not believe in that 1·:ind"ofjpmi1Vs1;ment·, Jiiyjmaster had four·—'b`oys;, named
moe, raitzm. s¤x·a¤e,·   siiira. suse Mid me pisyee togéisner  

 22 Gerrard County. Ex—5leves. U (Eliza Ison).(B}. :3
when we acted bad old Iarse elways licked Rubs three or leur times
harder then he did mE because Lube was older. Thél? deugnter was
L named gmerican dneeler, for ner mother.
W o. unite xolns did not teach us to reed and write. 1 learned that
gg- citer l left ny white iblxs. There was no church for slaves, bu, we
d yeit to LEE wnite loins cuurcn at fr. Freedom. je sat in the gallery._
y Lge first ooloied preecher 1 ever neozd yds ol; nan Leroy Lstill. Ee
preetned in the Ereedom Meeting house (Baptist). l stood on the banks
gg i of Faint Lion Creen and saw my mother baptized, but do not remenber
pegs the preachers nene jé=an, of the songs they sung.
; ‘Je did not work on saturday afternoon. ine men would no fishing,
, and the women vould go to the neighbors and nelp each other pence ·
)gT-_ quilts. je used to have bi; times at the corn snuckings. The neigh—
ry it bore would come and help. ‘._.‘ e would have cen; fires and sing songs,
;1m_ and usually a big dence at the barn rhen the corn was shucked. some
0 of the slaves from other plantations would pick tie banjo, then
toe dance. Kiss Americe Lerried Sem Hard. L was too young to remember
Gr only that they had good things to est.
ally , I can remember then my mothers biother died. He was buried at thk
DW Wheeler, but I do not recall any of the songs, and they did not have
e preacher. ly mother took his deetn so hard.
,9S_ There was an old ash hopper, made of slats, put together at the
V, bottom and wide et the top. The ashes were dumped in this end water
poured over them. A drip was made and lye caught in wooden troughs.
.This'was then boiled down and made into soap. My mother let me hglp
med {stir it menv a time. Then the big kettle would be lifted from the
Eire and left until cold. Hy mother would then block it off, ahd
gmt on e wooden   to   out onli ready ror uses

 Ge.1·1·ard County. Ex—Slave Stories. (Eliza Ison) .(4);¢v  
B folio grauhys
111’c,erviev; with Dan Bogie, l»;}x—-Slave.

   Gerrerd County. i Atles — Ex—3leve Stories. (Eli2e leon)   5
L¤.‘@w..     $@*2; 1@c1e@e-
_ Uncle George tells me that he wes horn TZ;_yAlO, l;E26C near Ver-
gg illes, in `JJ00di`0rd County, Kentucky. Tlis fetherfs mane wes Bredford .-
jjgnderson, who was e slave of `filford T·.·Ji;.1en usfio belonged to   Qleve-
land family. He does not know; where his femily cent; fron. There; were
31 children including two or three sets of twins._ All died yzhile. _y·op;1§.
except his brothers: `iilford, Sei, end Jo_e_;_ end _si_sters: Elle. end»3et:;_y,
All the sleves lived in log cehins end there ¤.·.·ere_ eheut IEQ o_r_ {LQ of;
them on e plentetion of ·éOO acres. "fI'he cehinnl wee born; in hed, fouyl:
;oo;1;s, two ehove end tvro Taelov. The aaooms ebqvew were- ce.l_.led_ lofte,;eiqg»i
we climbed up ev ledder toget to these roohes. `..e slept yon t1uhdleT.hg,g;;y;
yqgaicl; were covered with sgrew ticks. Our covers, were suede in sig; iyetcheg
fran; old cest-off clothes. Lhen wegot up in the liIO1`Tl'l.l`1g_ we; ehpvegf the a
trundle bed beck under the big hed. come boy would ring e. greet sig:
bell, celled. the "ferm hell" eiyopt sunrise. dome went to the stebles
to leo}: efter the horses end mules. Ilovyinge wes done j.»:i_th_e yoke; or
oxen. '.YI1€iilOI`S€¤·& were just used for carriages end to, ride. liy v:pz·2;;
wes pulling weeds, feeding chickens, and helping, to teice cere 'of the e
pigs. Eeierse Clevelezzd hed e very, hed xiele hog, end hed tc- keep. hip1__;in'» e
pen about l0 feet E·ig3o·. sometimes he ·.r-uuid hree.1: out of the _t.2€l'l—·j&l'lC. it U
would take ell the iulldogs in the county to get him beck, _I_ never'; i
did eern e.ny money, but rorlqed fer my food, and Aclothesr   deddyjnsed
to hunt rebbits end possumsr l went with him end wpixld ride onbhjis _
beck with my feet in his pockets. He had e do; named; Bryitus; which wes:
& wetch dog. My deddy would- ley   het dcvm enywh_ere_in, the weeds;  
Brutuswould stay by the het, uptil he: would ceme hepk: we ete _e.ll' lqinds
of wild -fo·od,~»`possum,· and rabbits, heked ,in»_e__big__oven, Z»§inneggs,yer_e__
fished from the creeks and fried in hot izireese. we ste this with pone,

 ;_:;.rrard County. atlas - L><—&lave stories. (iliza Ison)_.(`g§__)l B
Corn bread. we had plenty of vegetables to eat. An old negro celledi;
"Qle lan Ben" called us to eat. Xe called him the dinner bell because
he could .·.· say “Uh0-eee, God—dam your blood and guts"._
Out clothes were made of jeens and lindsey in winter. In_the sum-
mer we wore cotton clothes. They gave us shoes at Christmas t_i}ne._.  t
were measured with sticks. Once I was warming my shoes on a backs log
on the big fire ylace, they gell over behind the logs and burnt up. I
didn't marry while on the plantation;
Ely master and mistress lived in the big brick house of_-l5 rooms?.-
with two long porches. One belor and one below. Iiiy mistus was elise Lucy
tlmore before she married. Her children were named Miss Mat, Liiss
imma, and Liiss Jennie. U
I saw the slaves in chains after they were sold. The wh_it_e·A i"o_lks
did not teach us to read and write. We had church on the ;{l&.ntat§o§1
but we went from one plantation to another to hear preach_in;;_. l`fhite__:
folks preacher's name was Reuben lee, in Versa;ill_es_.- A meeting- of the
Baptist Church resulted in the first baptizing I ever saws It was in
Rh". Chillers pond. The preacher would say 'I am baptizing you     -s
Chillers pond because I know he is an honest man' . I can’t remember any
funeral. _
I remember. one slave named Adams who ran away and when he _came;i
backmy old master picked up a log §ron1;the_ fire-   hit;   pver; the
head. We always washed up and cleaned up for Sunday. Some time the V
older ones would get drtuui<._
On Christmas an New Y.e¤#i¤¤e>iw·¤ w¤¤1¤_.e,¤. up is the ¥¤¤vS.¢.. e¤e
they wld we ue __<=ee<1¤r_ Bed. mit eee .fi"°.‘F¥`E'f°k€?`S;·‘.‘Y”"F’..Y”’€""’.$£V°}?;  
some of all the food that the white folks had, even turkeyfwould have

 (R.); 6 Ggyrard County. Atlas - Ex-Slave Stories. (Eliza Ison) XB) .  
?·?diI heaps of corn—shuckings, the neighbors would come in and then we'd have
cause big dances and old iniarse would always have a "jug of licker". _
If a cat crossed out L.-ath we would turn backwards for awhile.
? slum" gghcn I was about 9 or 10 years old I went from the cabin to_ the big
  k kitchen to make the fire for my mammy to get the breakfast and I saw
;]—Q8' ole manBillie Cleveland standing looking up in the sky. He had been
1P· I dead about 3 or 4 years; but I saw him. _
The white folks looked after us when we were sick. Ilsed dock _ _;
>oms,,· leaves, slippery elm for poultices. They put polk root in whiskey and
as Lucy gave it to us. _ 4 _
; *··'hen the news came we were freed every body was glad. The sleveis
cleared up the ground and cut down trees. Stayed with iziarsel Cleveland
‘o_lks the first year after the war. Ha—ve heard the Klul Klux Klan ride; down
on the road, wearing masks. None ever bothered me or any of Iiarse Cleve-
te; lands slaves. _
‘ the I married years after VI left liarse Cleveland. LIarried_Lucy liason
in the first time and had three children, _two girls and l boy. I  _
M_·p__ _ have no children by my second marriage, but the third time I had four.
gy.   One died. I haveeight grandchildren., _ V
We had no overseler but liarlse Hook uasthe only boy and the oldest
ng _ child. we had no white trash for neighbors. I haye seen, old covereégw
Loge wagons pulled by oxen trav¤§ling_ onwthe road going to Ind_ianny__and us
E children wasiwhippednto keep us away from the road for fear they
would steal us.
1s
’P.‘ 
have

 Gerrard County. Atlas - Ex-Slaves. St;ries. (Eliza Ison) .(Z‘) . 8
Bibliography:
Interview with George Henderson, Ex- slave.

 (Z) • 8 Ggprard County`- AtlaS—Ex—Slave Stories. (Lliza Ison) .(l§e, Q
@1; Harriet gag - _I;_x-glaze: ‘
she was born one mile below Bryantsville on the Lexingt_on_§°ike in
.g;_;·;·ard County, and wasovrned by B. 1.3. Jo¤es.A she gives the date or her
birth as April 14, 1847. Aunt Harriet's father was Daniel Scott-,_ slave
Om, of iiote Scott' s slave family. Aunt H_ar_riet' s mothe_r's name was ,Lm_·,·
Jones, slave of Liarse Briar Jones, who came from Harrodsburg,   Then
names of her brothers were Harrison, Daniel, Tierida`, and lied; her sis-
ters were Susie end Eiaria. Liiss Patsy, wi;e of Zilarse Briar gave Qiaria
to Tjarse Sammy 'Jelsh, brother of Liiss Fatsyfs and who lived j.v_ith_ .1i_s
sister. He taught school in Bryantsville for _a· long t_ime.*•f3eneral Gan-
who married Jane welsh, adopted daughter of Qiarse lsriar Jones, t0ok_g11y
sisters Liyra and Emma, Brother lied andpmyrself to Tarrant County, Texas
to a town called Lick Skillet, to live. Grap_e—vin.e wes the nam_eVof_ the
white folks house. It was called Grapevine because these, grapeyines
twined around the house and arbors. Sister Emma was the cook and Qfyra
and me were nurse and house maids. Brothermarried Betty lstill, a; __
slave who cooked for the Estill family.._Mr._ Estill later bought lied _in
order to keep him on the place. I didnft sleep in the cabins with  
rest of the gegroes, I slept in the big house and nursed the ch'i_1dren_.
I was not paidhany money for my work).   food We s the S$.H1€. as what the
white folks et. In the summer time we wore cotton and towlinen, and _.
linsey in the winter. The white folks took me to church and_dres_s_ed_me
well. I had good shoes an; they took me to_church on Gun-day. My master
was la preacher and a doctor and a fine :1&.n._ Miss Mat sho was hard to
b€&t. The house theyvlivedn in was a big white house with two. long _ _
porches. We had no overseer or driver. We   no V"Po white neighbors".
There was about 300 acres of land around Lick Skillet, but we did not

 Gerrard County. Atlas—Ex-Slave Stories. (Eliza Ison).(2). if)
have many slaves. The slaves were waked up by General Gano who rang e
big farm bell about four times in the morning. There was no_jail_on
the place and I never say a slave whipped or punished in any way.;I
never saw a slave auctioned off. My Zistus taught all the sleies\to_`·4
read end write, and we set on a bench in the dining rooml_@hen the news
came that we were free Beneral Gano took us all in the dining room and
told us about it. I told him I wusn't going to the cabins and sleepw
with them niggers and I didn't. At Christmas and Jew Years we_sho_did
have big times and General Gano and Miss Nat would buy_us candy,,;op~
corn, and firecrachers and all the good things just llke the white ,\
folks . I don't remember any weddings, but do remember the funeral