Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. 

Washington, D.C.: n.p. Works Project Administration. Federal Writers Project.


 State: Alabama   Interviewee: Flourney, Lou 
Lee County, Alabama pg. 3,4

Lou Flourney has been, in days gone by, a faithful old soul, she was a short, stout, light colored woman with a tall skinny husband, both working at the depot cafe and they passed just as regular as clock work never missing a day nor the minute most, but she is a "good old wagon done broke down", now. She was lying down most of the time during my interview.

She was born three miles from La Fayette, Alabama, on the Driver plantation but does not remember when, so can't tell just how old but was a little girl old enough to remember some things that happened. Her mother and father were Classey and Bithey Driver; they had several other children, Wiley, Mandy, Clara, Laura, losing several as babies.

Their home in the quarters was very comfortable, as far as that went in those days, it was a log cabin with a shed room for the kitchen, having to use the fireplace as stoves, so few stoves in that time. "We cooked greens, meat, home-raised, corn bread, soot and all making our own meal and flour, and had plenty of dried fruits. We all used the big garden up at Mosters but could have all we needed.

Our rooms were comfortable and warm and we had plenty of bed clothes. The beds were homemade, screwed together at the joints, corded across making the slats for the mattress to rest on and some were woven across with hickory strips, most of the beds were four posters some plain and some were what they called spool beds, us chillun had a stool to get in with, they were so tall."

"I was a good big little girl so they put me up at the house to do tollable well.

I joined church when I got big cause I wanted the blessings and have health and to save my soul. I wanted to try to get to heaven too. I am a Methodist and belong to St. Luke in Opelika, Alabama.

Lou lives with Authur and wife now in Opelika, Alabama, on North Tenth Street.

Fowler, M. Fruithurst,  Cleburne County, Alabama

Fowler, M.


State: Oklahoma   Interviewee: Simms, Andrew

My parents come over on a slave ship from Africa about twenty year before I was born on the William Driver plantation down in Florida. My folks didn't know each other in Africa but my old Mammy told me she was captured by Negro slave hunters over there and brought to some coast town where the white buyers took her and carried her to America.

She was kinder a young gal then and was sold to some white folks when the boat landed here. Dunno who they was. The same thing happen to my pappy. Must have been about the same time from the way they tells it. Maybe they was on the boat, I dunno.

They was traded around and then mammy was sold to William Driver. The plantation was down in Florida. Another white folks had a plentation close by. Mister Simms was the owner. Bill Simms - that's the name pappy kept after the War.

Somehow or other mammy and pappy meets 'round the place and the first thing happens they is in love. That's what mammy say. And the next thing happen is me. They didn't get married. The Master's say it is alright for them to have a baby. They never gets married, even after the War. Just jumped the broomstick and goes to living with somebody else I reckon.

Then when I was four year old along come the War and Master Driver takes up his slaves and leaves the Florida country and goes way out to Texas. Mammy goes along, I goes along, all the children goes along. I don't remember nothing about the trip but I hears mammy talk about it when I gets older.

Texas, that was the place, down near Fairfield. That's where I learn to do the chores. But the work was easy for the Master was kind as old Mammy herself and he never give me no hard jobs that would wear me down.

All the slaves on our place was treated good. All the time. They didn't whip. The Master feeds all the slaves on good clean foods and lean meats so's they be strong and healthy.

Master Driver had four children, Mary, Julia, Frank and George. Every one of them children kind and good just the old Master. They was never mean and could I find some of 'em now hard times would leave me on the run! They'd help this old man get catched up on his eating!

Makes me think of the old song we use to sing:

Don't mind working from Sun to Sun,

Iffen you give me my dinner -

When the dinner time comes!

Nowadays I gets me something to eat when I can catch it. The trouble is sometimes I don't catch! But that ain't telling about the slave days.

In them times it was mostly the overseers and the drivers who was the mean ones. They caused all the misery. There was other whitefolks caused troubles too. Sneak around where there was lots of the black children on, the plantation and steal them. Take them poor children away off and sell them.

There wasn't any Sunday Schooling. There was no place to learn to read and write - no big brick schools like they is now. The old Master say we can teach ourselves but we can't do it. Old Elam Bowman owned the place next door to Mister Driver. If he catch his slaves toying with the pencil, why, he cut off one of their fingers. Then I reckon they lost interest in education and get their mind back on the hoe and plow like he say for them to do.

I didn't see no fighting during of the War. If they was any Yankees soldiering around the country I don't remember nothing of it.

Long time after the War is over, about 1885, I meets a gal named Angeline. We courts pretty fast and gets married. The wedding was a sure enough affair with the preacher saying the words just like the whitefolks marriage. We is sure married.

The best thing we do after that is raise us a family. One of them old fashioned families. Big 'uns! Seventeen children does we have and twelve of them still living. Wants to know they names? I ain't never forgets a one! There was Lucy, Bill, Ebbie, Cora, Minnie, George, Frank, Kizzie, Necie, Andrew, Joe, Sammie, David, Fannie, Jacob, Bob and Myrtle.

All good children. Just like their old pappy who's tried to care for 'em just like the old Master takes care of their old daddy when he was a boy on that plantation down Texas way.

When the age comes on a man I reckon religion gets kind of meanful. Tninks about it more'n when he's young and busy in the fields. I believes in the Bible and what it says to do. Some of the Colored folks takes to the voodoo. I don't believe in it. Neither does I believe in the fortune telling or charms. I aims to live by the Bible and leave the rabbit foots alone.


(Oklahoma Writers' Project, Er-Slaves, 10-19-38, 718 words)


State: Texas   Interviewee: Fannie Mccullough Driver
Fannie Mccullough Driver

Fannie McCullough Driver, 80, was born a slave on January 19, 1857, on the Ben McCullough cotton plantation, which was located on the bank of the Guadalupe River, near Seguin, Guadalupe County. Fannie's mother, Harriet McCullough, who was brought from Tennessee to Texas by Ben McCullough. Harriet's husband, Jim McCullough, and her six children were also brought to Texas. Fannie is the only surviving member. She says that Ben McCullough was a reasonable master; her last master, a Mr. Foley, had a nephew, Stewart Foley, who made life miserable for the slaves. Fannie remained with her parents until 1877, when she married Sol Driver, who was at that time an experienced "broncobuster". Sol and Fannie had eight children, all boys, of whom only two still are living. Sol died more than thirty years ago. Fannie married Jim Harvard. They had no children. Jim Harvard died years ago and Fannie still refers to herself as Fannie Driver. Fannie did not have a chance to go to school during slavery, but was fortunate to have gone for several years after emancipation. She lives with her son, Jim Driver, at 1304 Coleto St., Austin.

"Mammy was brought f'om Tennessee to Texas by Mawster Ben McCullough. She was married in Tennessee to a slave, Jim McCullough. Dey brought six chillun wid 'em to Texas. Mammy was light-colored, and she was low and chunky, and putty heavy. Mammy was good to her kids. Den while she was in Texas, she had six more chillun. I was de oldest girl of dat bunch. I am de only one ob all ob dem chillun dat is still livin'.

"My mammy done de cookin' fo' de McCulloughs, and fo' de slaves on de big plantation. Dere was a kitchen-place in de big house where de slaves et. De workers had all kinds ob things to eat; meat, bacon, eggs, soups ob all kinds, biscuits and cornpones. I don't remembah dat de slaves got special food on special days.

"Jim McCullough was my pappy. He was low and chunky. He worked in de fields all ob de time. Pappy had some Injun blood in him, but he wasn't no full-blood one. Pappy died more'n thutty years ago; and den mammy soon died after dat.

"De folks in de early days always called me Fan, but my real name was Fannie McCullough. I'm eighty years old, and I was bawn on January 19, 1857, on Mawster Ben McCullough's cotton plantation. Dis place was on de bank ob de Guadalupe River, somewhere near Seguin, I think.

"When I was a child I was awful playful and sassy. Well, I didn't play no tricks. I'd play at somethin' dat would make me happy. I had a old yaller tom cat fo' a pet. Sometimes me and my sistah would be playin' and I'd hear dat old tom a meowin' somewhere. I liked dat old pet ob our'n. One day old tom jes' died. I reckon I did miss dat pet. I think dat me and one ob my brothaws went out and buried him. We jes' buried him around de house somewhere. Ob 'course we was small and didn't know no bettah. When I was a little girl I had all ob my time to mysef. Dat is, I wasn't bothered much by de old folks. Our Mawster McCullough was putty good to us, even if he did whoop some ob de slaves sometimes. But us slaves was never allowed to learn our A B C's on de plantation.

"Dere was one ob de mawster's girls, Viney, dat tried to whoop me once. Near de big house was de rock store-house, where de provisions was kept. Sometimes us kids got hungry befo' meal-time, and we'd try to git some food, somehow. It was nigh supper-time, and de door to de store-house was open. I jes' walked in and was goin' to help mysef, when I run into Viney.

"'Fan, whut is yo'-all doin' in here?' she said.

"I was sassy, so I tell her, 'jes' 'cause I want to be in here.'

"'Fan,' she says, 'I've a good mind to slap yo'."

"But I was sassy and befo' she could slap me I run out ob de door, picked up a rock, and chunked it at her. I hit her right in de back. She stahted to cryin' and went to de big house. I sure was scared den 'cause I thought dat de older folks was sure goin' to whoop me. But Viney didn't tell on me, and I didn't git no whoopin'.

"I kain't remembah many dates, but when it comes to somethin' dat happened to me in my life, I kin remembah back to de time when I was jes' beginnin' to walk. I sure kin'. I remembah how I crawled to a laghe ant-hill, and was stung by a big red ant. My uncle, Abe Wright, grabbed me and walked mighty fast to where mammy was washin' clothes on de bank ob de Guadalupe River. Tubs had been hauled to de bank ob de river, fires was made and de washin' was done right dere. De washed clothes was den brought back to de big house and hung up to dry. The Guadalupe was a very dangerous-lookin' river, and de water was very blue. While de wimmen was washin' de clothes dey would sing songs. Some ob 'em made up songs while dey washed, but I don't remembah none ob de words. Pappy and mammy was good singers.

"Mawster McCullough den sold us to a Mawster Foley. He had a cotton plantation near Hallettsville, Lavaca County. Mawster Foley was putty good to us, but I believe dat we was owned by him when slavery ended, and he never did tell us about it. A bunch ob Yankee soldiers come around and told us slaves de news.

"De Mawster had a nephew, Stewart Foley, dat sure was hard on de slaves. If Stewart caught any ob de niggers huntin' or roamin' aroun' in de bottoms, or forests along de creek, he would git mad and staht to shootin' if dey meddled wid him. One day Stewart was mad at pappy, and tried to shoot him but de bullet wouldn't go off.

"Stewart said, 'God must be wid dat nigger.'

"Stewart den ended up a regular murderer. One day he killed some woman's girl. I don't remembah her name. I think dat he had promised to marry de girl, but didn't. I think she was in trubble. One day Stewart took dat girl on de hoss wid him, went down to some creek or river, and shot her dead. Stewart was tried and hung. Dat's how he ended up. We was always scared on de Foley plantation.

"I stayed wid my parents till I was about twenty years old. Durin' dat time we moved to a lot ob other fahms. One ob 'em was near New Braunfels, in Comal County. Another one was near San Marcos, in Hays County.

"At about twenty years I got married to Sol Driver. Sol was a hoss and mule breaker, and he also fahmed. He'd do anything. Sol would go out and break anybody's hosses or mules. I think dat it was about five dollahs dat he got fo' breakin' each hoss and mule. He unnderstood dem hosses and mules and was never hurt by 'em, not dat I can recollect.

"Me and Sol was married by a white preachah, by de name ob Butler. I think dat it was about twelb miles to de preachah's house, and back to de place where we lived. We walked every step ob de way. When we got back to our place my pappy and Sol's pappy was arguin'.

"'We left yo' all in a good humor,' I say. 'Now yo' all is quarrelin'. Whut's wrong?'

"Dey never did tell us whut was wrong. Whatever it was I reckon dey thought dat it was done too late to do anything. Me and Sol was done married. Yo' know how men is when dey is drunk, and pappy and Sol's pappy was drunk. Dem men would drink brandy and whiskey.

"Me and Sol den lived wid my folks, fo' awhile. We had a room in de same cabin wid 'em. We got along all right. We had eight chillun, all boys, and no girls. Dere is only two ob de boys living. De oldest boy, Jimmy, is in de real-estate business. I think dat Jimmy is doin' about as good as he kin. Times is a little hard, yo' know. Abe is de other boy and he is my baby boy. Abe is a carpenter.

"Sol died more'n thutty years ago. Den I married Jim Harvard. We didn't have no chillun. Den de doctah said dat Jim had a tumor in his stomach and dat he was too old to be operated on, and he died. I know dat Jim was too old to be operated on, 'cause he had a daughter dat was about fifty years old.

"Even after I got married I went to de fields and picked cotton and plowed de fields wid oxen. I still remembah dat de names of dem oxen was Bep and Red. Dey was putty good to work wid. Dey never did run away wid me. Dem oxen belonged to de men dat rented us de fahm. His name was Robert Lay. He sure was a good man to us. De Lay fahm wasn't fur f'om de place where I was bawn.

"I had a chance to go to school after slavery. School was held in a old house. De teacher's name was Britton, a nigger. He was fine to me and was good to all ob de chillun. Every Friday afternoon, Britton would make us march out ob de school and around de flag pole. We'd sing:

'We will rally around de flag pole, Union forever, hurrah, boys, hurrah!

We will rally around de flag pole, Rally once again.

"We will shout de battle cry, We will shout fo' freedom. We will rally around de flag pole, Rally once again."

"I was a poor child, but now I'll never be a slave again, Shout to de battle cry ob freedom! We will rally around de flag pole, once again, But, wel'' never be a slave again."

"After we marched around de flag pole and done our singin' we was ready to go home till de next Monday.

"I liked school and I was a fast learner. I always wanted to be a teacher, but I didn't go long enough fo' dat.

"Our last teacher was named Ball. He come f'om Ohio. Ball would walk around de room, and he would watch de boys and girls. He sure wouldn't allow us to chaw wax in de room. We'd use resin fo' wax. Den dere was a sort ob wax dat we got f'om de stalks ob sunflowers. If Ball caught one ob us wid wax in our mouths, he'd whoop us right dere in de room. De other chillum would den git scared and not try to chaw no more wax.

"Ball got married and stayed here in Texas. He was den a grown man ob about thutty-five years, and I was about sixteen. Ball wanted to marry me. He even asked pappy if he could marry me. I reckon dat pappy told him dat I was too young. I liked teacher Ball all right, but I didn't love him."

Dibble, Fred, P.W. Beaumont, Jefferson, Dist. #3 (August 8, 1937 (Yes)

Victor Duhon