You are on page 1of 3

Born in Slavery: Interview with an Ex-Slave

Read
Project1885-(1)
PreparedbyAnnieRuthDavis
Place,Marion,S.C.
Date,September21,1937
AaronFord,
Ex-Slave
IwasbornbouttwomilesboveLakeViewonZoniaRogersplace.BoysusedtotellmeIwasbornon
BuckBranch.ThinkIwasbornde12thdayofFebruarycauseIwasbout16yearsoldwhenfreedomcome.
AnotherpersonborndesamedayendesameyearenImightlookondeytombstoneengetdedate.
MilesFordwasmyfatherenmymother,JennieFord,butdeydidnliveondesameplace.Father
belongedtoAliasFordatLakeViewenmothercomefromTimmonsvillewhatusedtobecalledSparrow
Swamp.RailroadrunthroughderechangenamefromSparrowSwamptoTimmonsville.
JustlikeItellyou,ZoniaRogerswasmybossenhewasnsobad.HewhipmeafewtimeswhenIdid
thingsdatIoughtenedtodo.SometimesIwaspestyenhewhipmewidaswitch,butheneverwhipso
hard.Itelldetruth,ZoniaRogerswasagoodman.Givehisslavesgoodpolehousestoliveinupinde
quarter.Neverhadbutfiveslavestostartwidendatdereasonhejusthadtwoslavehouseindequarter.
Sometimesdeysleepondefloorendenanothertime,somehadhomemadebedsteadwiddeframework
madeoutofblackgum.
Wehadmeatencornbreadtoeatalldetimeendeygaveusfriedmeatenryebreadenflourbreadto
eateverynowenden.Maderyebreadintimeofdewar,butdidngetmuchflourbreadtoeat.Massa
wouldweighmeatoutonhishand.Ifanybodywantedmeat,hehandittodemonhishandandsay,Here
itis.Densomeofdeslaveshadgardensdatdeyworkat12oclockenatnight.Neverwasmuchtocatch
possums,butwasgreathandtocatchrabbits.BosshaddognamedTripdathewouldnhavetaken
$200.00for.IfIhadhimnow,Iwouldntake$200.00forhimneithercausedatdogwouldstayatatreeall
night.Seehimstayderefromearlyindedaytilldark.
Slavesworeonepiecegarmentindesummerenusedthickwoolengarmentindewinter.WhenIgot
large,hadwrapperenlittlebreechestowear.Sometimesdeclotheswasallwoolensometimesdeywas
justhalfwool.Yes,sir,Iknowallbouthowdeclothwasmadeindatdayentime.Threetreadlemadedis
herejeansclothdatwasforden-----clothesenwhitepeopleworefourtreadlecloth.HadSundayclothes

inslaverytime,too,enmadedeshoesrightderehome.Tanneddeleatherenmadeshoescalln-----
brogansdatdeyusedindeturpentinewoods.Deseherelowquarters.Imarriedin1873.Justhad
commonclotheswhenIwasmarried.
Iremembermygrandfatherallright.Hedeonetoldmehowtocatchotters.Toldmehowtosettraps.
Heardmygrandfathertellboutwhippinslavesforstealin.Grandfathertoldmenottotakethingsdatwere
notmine.Ifapileofcornwasleftatnight,Iwastoldnottobotherit.Inbreakincorn,sometimespeople
wouldmakeapileofcornindegrassenleaveitendencomebackengetitindenight.Grandfathertold
menottoneverbothernothingboutpeoplesthings.
DefirstworkdatIrememberboutdoininslaverytime,Iholdmulesformyboss.DrovewagonforMr.
Rogers.Ifpeoplewantedanyhaulindone,hetoldmetohelpdemencollectforit.Heneverwouldnax
anyquestionsboutwhatIcollectedfordehaulin.Justletmehavedatmoney.IrememberIboughtcloth
thatcost12centsayardwiddefirstmoneyIget.DenIboughtagirl10centsworthofcandyensentitto
her.Hearshestampeditindegroundwidherfoot.GirlneverevenmentionedittomeenIainnever
botheredwidheragain.Disgirlenmeboutdesameage.
DonremembermuchboutmyfirstMissusonlydatshehadabumponherneck.SecondMissuswas
goodtomeenjustlikeItellyou,ZoniaRogerswasagoodman.Hehiredwhitementoplow,buthenever
putnobodyaheadofmenotime.Itakedogsenslipoutindewoodsenhuntrabbits.Whitemantellon
meenmybossainneversaidnothingboutdistomeyet.NeverhadnooverseerennodriverwheIstay.
Oh,derewasbouttwoorthreehundredacresindeRogersplace.Slavesworkedfromdaylighttilldarkin
dewintertime.Alwaysbeupforedaycausemybossgenerallycalleddeslavesforeday.Hearhimsay,
Rob,comecome.Aaron,come,come.Wedidnworkhardthough.DidnworkinhotsuninJune,Julyen
Augustcauseinslaverytimedeyallowustotakeoutat10or11oclockengoswimming.Denwehadto
bebackindefieldboutthreeoclock.Hadplentypoorwhiteneighborsboutdereenbosshiremetoman
likedatonetime.Poormangivebout1hoursfornoonwheIgettwohoursbackhomeenInevergo
backdenextday.Bosssay,Whydonyougobacktowork?Itellhimdatfellowwouldngivemelong
enoughtimefornoon.MybosswouldnforcemetogobackwhenItellhimdat.
Iseeoneortwoslaveswhippedinslaverytime,butIdidnseeanybodywhippedbad.Ifaslaveonone
placewasaccusedoftakinathingonanotherplace,deyhaveatrialboutit.Justicemighttelldemhow
manylickstogivehimenpointmantodoit.Iheardatsomebeenwhippedwayofftilldeydied,butold
manEverettNicholswouldnneverwhiphisslaves.Hehadsondatwhippedsomeroughdarkiesdathe
gotoffanotherplacecauseoldmanNicholswouldnwantstrangedarkiestomarrygirlsonhisplace.I
hearwayupdecountrydatdeywhippeddemtilldeydiedrightdere.
DeyhadjailsinslaverytimeatMarionfordeslaves.Ifdeycaughtslavesdathadrunaway,deywouldput
deminjailtilldeyMassasentafterdem.Sometimesdeywouldholddemenselldemfordemfordebt.
DeytellmesomeputonstandensolddereatMarion,butIneversawanysold.Justhearboutdat,butI
remembersIsawdis.SawsixmentiedtogetherwidachainoneSaturdayevenindatwascominfrom

VirginiaandgwinetoTexas.
Somepeoplehelpeddeslavestoreadenwriteensomeofdemdidn.Boylearntoneofmyunclesto
read,butdidnwanthimtowrite.Peoplelearntospellindemtimesbetterdendeydonow.Someofde
slavescouldreaddeBibleendeyotherofdemcouldwritedesepassdatdeyhadtogetfromdeyMassa
foredeycouldgofromoneplantationtoanother.Irecollectsmymothersfathercouldwriteapass.
DerewasnnochurchondeplantationwheIstay.HadpreachininMr.Fordsyardsometimesenden
anothertimedeslaveswenttowhitepeopleschurchatBearSwamp.Bosstellslavestogotomeetin
causehesayhepaydepreacher.DeanEars,whiteman,gaveoutspeechtodeslavesonedaydereto
Nichols.Slavessatingallerywhendeygodere.HetelldemtoobeydeyMassaenMissus.Denhesay,
Godgotacleankitchentoputyouin.Youthinkyougwinebefree,butyouaingwinebefreelongas
dereanashinAshpoleSwamp.Whitefolkscomplainboutdeslavesgettingtwosermonsendeygetone.
Afterdat,deytelloldslavesnottocometochurchtillafterdewhitefolkshadleft.Datneverhappentill
afterdewarwasover.
Ishorememberwhenfreedomcomehere.RememberwhenmybosstoldmeIwasfree.Myfathercome
dereensayhewantedhisboys.Bosscalled,Aaron,comehere,yourdaddywantsyou.Iwantyoutogo.
Hetoldmenottogotilldenewscamethrough.Pleaseme,Ifeltlikeanewman.
IhatetospeakwhatIthinkboutslavery.ThinkitisapitydeslavesfreecauseIknowImworriedmore
nowdeninslaverytime.Deregottobeachangemade.Peoplegottoturn.IbelongtodeMethodist
ChurchenIthinkeverybodyoughttobelongtodechurch.Godbuilddechurchfordepeopleendey
oughttogodereenbeupendoinindechurch.Datdeyduty.

Annotations

Related Interests