A Little History

Oklahoma Slave Narrative

  George W Harmon

 I's born December 25, 1854, in Lamar County, Texas. Don't know age, but was 9 years old at freedom June 14, 1863. My father was name Charles Harmon and mother name Mary Roland, after her owners. My father come from Tennessee and my mother from Virginia.  "Well, my brother-in-law was name Daniel and the other one name John, my sister were name Huldy and Polly. During slavery we had wood beds and mattresses were spun and woven into mattresses. Some of the mattresses were stuffed with moss that had been buried to kill it so that it wouldn't grow.  "The first and only money I earned was cleaned and shined a pair of boots for a white man and he gave me $5.00 of Confederate money. Don't remember what I did wid it.In hot weather we wore only shirts made of home made cotton and split up each side and if they didn't have any cloth they would take a crocus sack and cut holes in each corner for arm holes and the center for the head and wear that. In cold weather we wore woven cloth, called drillin for underwear and a kind of cloth call hickory check for shirts, and trousers weaved and made into cloth and made trousers. On Saturdays the clothes were washed to have clean for Sunday. My father was a shoemaker and we wore the course brogans.  When I married, my wedding clothes were good. I married one, Margaret Blunt of Lamar County, Texas. My Master, mistress and their children were very good to their slaves. They lived in a log house, two stories high.  "The overseer was one of the negro slaves who was more evil and meaner than our Master. My owner owned two plantations about 300 or 400 acres. He owned one family of negroes and my mother, totaling eight in number. The slaves were whipped for any misdemeanor dislikeable. One lady was charged with stealing some home-made twisted tobacco and her owner made her lie down and whipped her until she fainted, then turned her over and hit her in the face to see would that bring her to.  "I never saw a sale of any slaves but when Lincoln was talking of freeing the negroes an agent came around and appraised all of us and said that the Government was think of buying us free."  "In slavery an old man was said to be a conjurer, who had all kinds of snakes and insects. He took sick and died and the saying is that after he had died one night he came back and carried his box of insects and snakes out of the house and set them down an nobody could even go and get his body as these insects and snakes would come up and run them away.  The church of that day was held under brush arbors and though they could not read they would preach of better times and conditions.  I always would fight even my Master's children and one day I had a stick and was about to hit one of Masters boys and once when one negro child ran and told my Master and he sent for me and told me that if I ever hit one of his children he would skin me and feed my hide to his hounds and it seemed he said, that those hounds were just waiting for him." During slavery he says, "There was one slave who would not work only when he chose and when they would get at him, to whip him, he was so fast a runner they could not catch him. He could run so fast that he named or called himself, "Bird in the Air." "So my Master learned of a white fellow who made a specialty of running and had the reputation of catching any slaves who might be uncatchable. So my master sent for this fellow and had warned this fast running slave that he had sent for this runner to catch him whose title or reputation was heard of as "Hock-running-sun-of-a-gun", to catch the slave, "Bird-in-the-air".  So on the day he was to arrive, "Bird-in-the-air" awaited his arrival. When he arrived and went into Masters house to receive orders of whom to catch and after getting all details he and Master came out and went to where this slave lived and just when they reached the cabin where "Bird-in-the-air" was, he ran out and hollowed, "Bird-in-the-air". This white-slave catcher replied to him, "Yes and the hock is after you.  So the chase begun and to "Bird-in-the-air" surprise, "Hock-running-sun-of-a-gun" caught him within a half an hour, and with power to hold him until Master and other on horses arrived who took him in charge and whip him. From that day on all was necessary in controlling "Bird-in-the-air" was to warn him by saying, "If you don't do so-and-so I'll send again for "Hock-running-sun-of-a-gun".  Upon asking this ex-slave what did he think of Abraham Lincoln, he replied, "Lincoln durn good man, bettern John de Baptist; next to Christ," he said.  Also he would answer, "Don't think much of Jefferson Davis, he's durn poor trash." As to Booker T. Washington he would reply, "Like him bettern Douglas cause Douglas married white woman".