Texas Slave Narratives

Texas Slave Narrative

  Ann Hawthrone

Ann Hawthorne , was clad in a white dress which was protected by a faded blue checked apron. On her feet she wore men's bedroom slippers much too large for her, and to prevent their falling off, were tied around the ankle by rag strings. She wore silk hose with the heels completely worn out of them. Her figure is generous in proportions, and her hair snow white, fixed in little pig tails and wrapped in black string. Ann related her story in a deep voice and a jovial manner. Although born and raised in Jasper county, she speaks boastfully about having been to Houston.

If you's lookin' for Ann Hawthorne , dis is me. I was bo'n in slavery, and I was a right sizeable gal when freedom come. I was 'bout 10 or 12 year' ol' when freedom riz up. I was bo'n up here in Jasper. ol' marster Woodruff Norsworthy and Miss Ca'lina , dey was my ol' marster and mistus. Miss Ca'lina she name' me.  My pa was Len Norsworthy . My ma was name' Ca'line after ol' mistus. Dat how come I 'member ol' mistus name so good. I got fo' brudders livin', but nary a sister. My brudders is Newton and Silas and Willie and Frank . I say dey's livin'. I mean dat de las' time I heerd of 'em dey was livin.  Yas, I 'member de house I was raise in. It was jis' a one-room log house. Dey was a ol' Geo'gia hoss bed in it. It was up pretty high and us chillun had to git on a box to git in dat bed. De mattress was mek outer straw. Sometime dey mek 'em in co'n sacks and sometime dey put 'em in a tick what dey weave on de loom. I had a aunt what was de weaver. She weave all de time for ol' marster. She uster weave all us clo's. My ma she was jis' a fiel' han' but my gramma and my aunt dey hab dem for wuk 'roun' de house. I didn' do nuthin' but chu'n (churn) and clean de yard, and sweep 'roun' and go to de spring and tote de water. I l'arn how to hoe, too. Dat was a big plantation. Fur as I kin 'member I t'ink dey was 'bout 25 or 30 slaves on de place. You see I done git ol' and childish and I can't 'member like what I uster could. I 'member though, dat my pa uster drive a team for ol' marster. Sometime he fiel' han' on de plantation, too. Ol' marster he was good to his slaves. I heerd of slaves bein' whip' but I ain't never see any git whip. Dey was a overseer on de place and iffen dey was any whippin' to be did, he done it. Me? I never did git no lickin's when I was a li'l slave. No mam. I allus did obey jis' like I was teached to do and dey didn' hafter whip me. I 'members dat. We done our playin' 'roun' dat big house, but dat front gate, we doesn't go outside dat. We uster jump de rope and play ring plays and sich. You know how dey yoke dey han's togedder? Dat de way us uster do and go 'roun' and 'roun' singin' our li'l jumped up songs. Den us jis' play 'roun' lots of times anything what happen to come up in our min's. Dey feed us good back in slavery. Give us plenty of meat and bread and greens and t'ings. Ye, dey feed us good and us had plenty. Dey give us plenty of co'nbread. Dat's de reason I's a co'nbread eater now. I ain't no flour-bread eater. I lubs my co'nbread. Us all eat outer one big pan. Dey give each li'l nigger a big iron spoon and us sho' go to it. Dey give us milk in a sep'rate vessel, and dey give eb'ryone a slice of meat in our greens. And dey never dassent tek de other feller's piece of meat. Eb'ryt'ing better go 'long smoove wid us chillun. We better eat and shut our mouf. We dassent raise no squall. I tell dese chillun here dey ain't know nuffin'. Dey got dey glass. We had our li'l go'ds (gourds) pretty and clean and white. I wish I had one of dem ol' time go'ds now to drink my milk outer. In good wedder dey feed us under a big tree out in de yard. And us better leave eb'ryt'ing clean and no litter 'roun'. In de winter time dey fed us in de kitchen. Us gals wo' plain, long waisted dress. Dey was cut straight and wid long waist and dey button down de back. Dey was a cullud man what mek shoes for de slaves to wear in de winter time. He mek 'em outer rough red russet ledder. Dat ledder was hard and lots of times it mek blister on us feet. I uster be glad when summer time come so's I could go barefoot. Dey had cabins for de slaves to live in. Dere was jis' one room and one family to de cabin. Some of 'em was bigger dan others and dey put a big family in a big cabin and a li'l family in a li'l cabin. I never see no slaves bought and sol'. I heerd my gramma and ma say dey ol' marster wouldn' sell none of his slaves. I heerd 'bout dem broom-stick marriages, but I ain't never seed none. Dat was dey law in dem days. Dey didn' know nuffin' 'bout preachin' and Sunday School in dem times.

De fus' preachin' I heerd was atter dat. I hear a white preacher preach. He uster preach to de white folks in de mornin' and de cullud folks in de afternoons. But de slaves some of 'em uster had family prayer meetin's to deyselfs. De ol' marster he didn' work he han's on Sunday and he give 'em half de day off on Sadday, too. But he never give 'em a patch to work for deyself. Dat half a day off on Sadday was for de slaves to wash and clean up deyselfs.  I never git marry 'till way atter freedom come. Dat was up in Jasper county where I's bred and bo'n. I marry Hyman Hawthorne. Near as you kin guess, dat was 'bout 50 year' ago. Den he die and lef' me wid eight chillun. My baby gal she ain't never see no daddy. Atter he dead I wash and iron and cook out and raise my chillun. I was raise up in de fiel' all my life. When I git disable' to wuk in de time of de 'pressure (depression) I git on my walkin' stick. I wag up town and I didn' fail to ax de white folks 'cause I wo' myself out wukkin' for 'em. Dey load up my sack and sometime dey bring me stuff in a car right dere to dat gate. But I's had two strokes and I ain't able to go to town no mo. I tell you I never hear nuthin' 'bout chu'ch 'till way atter freedom. Sometime den us go to chu'ch. Dey was one Mef'dis' Chu'ch and one Baptis' Chu'ch in Jasper. Dere oughta been a Cabilic (Catholic) Chu'ch dere too, but I dunno 'bout dat. I don' 'member seein' no sojers. I t'ink some of ol' marster's boys went to de war but de ol' man didn' go. I dunno 'bout wedder dey come back or not 'cep'n' I 'member dat Crab Norsworthy he come back.

When any of de slaves git sick ol' mistus and my gramma dey doctor 'em. De ol' mistus she a pretty good doctor. When us chillun git sick dey git yarbs or dey give us castor oil and turpentime. Iffen it git to be a ser'ous ailment dey sen' for de reg'lar doctor. Dey uster hang asafetida 'roun' us neck in a li'l bag to keep us from ketch' de whoopin' cough and de measles. Dey was a gin and cotton press on de place. ol' marster gin' and bale' he own cotton. Dat ol' press had dem long arms a-stickin' down what dey hitch hosses to and mek 'em go 'roun' and 'roun' and press de bale. Dey raise dey own t'bacco on de place. I didn' use snuff nor chew 'till after I growed up and marry. Back in slavery you couldn' let 'em ketch you wid a chew of t'bacco or snuff in your mouf. Iffen you did dey wouldn' let you forgit it. I uster like to go and play 'roun' de calfs, jis' go up and pet 'em and rub 'em. But we dassent git on 'em to ride 'em. Marster uster sit 'roun' and watch us chillun play. He enjoy dat. He call me his Annie 'cause I name' after my mistus. Sometime he hab a wagon load of watermilion haul' up from de fiel' and cut 'em. Eb'ry chile hab a side of watermilion. And us hab all de sugar cane and sweet 'taters us want. Dey had a big smokehouse. Dey hab big hog killin' time, and dey dry and salt de meat in a big long trough. Dey git oak and ash and hick'ry wood and mek a fire under it and smoke it. My gramma toted de key to dat smokehouse and ol' mistus she'd tell her what to go and git for de white folks and de cullud folks. When Crismus come 'roun' dey give us big eatin'. Us hab chicken and turkey and cake. I don' 'member dat dey give us no presents.  My gramma and my ma and ol' man Norsworthy dey come from Alabama. I never hear of him breakin' up a family. But when dey was livin' in Geo'gy, my ma marry a man name' Hawthorne in Geo'gy. He wouldn' sell him to Marse Norsworthy when he come to Texas. Atter freedom marster go to Geo'gy to git him and bring him to Texas, but he done raisin' up anudder family dere and won't come. Li'l befo' she die her husban' come. When he 'bout wo' out and ready to die, den he come.

Some of de ol'es' chillun 'member dey daddy and dey crazy for him to come and dey mek up de money for him. When he git here dey tek care of him 'till he die right dere at Olive. Ma tell 'em to write him he neenter (need not) come. She say he ain't no service to her. But he come and de daughter tek care of her ma and pa bofe. I's got 8 gran'chillun and 5 great-gran'chillun. I 'vides (divide) my time 'tween my daughter here and de one in Houston. You wants to tek my picture? Daughter, I don' want dat hat you got dere. Dat one of de chillun' hats. Git dat li'l bonnet. Dat becomes me better. I can't stan' much sun. Dey say I's got high blood pressure.