Texas Slave Narratives





Texas Slave Narrative

  Pauline Grice

Pauline Grice , 81, was born a slave of John Blackshier , who owned her mother, about 150 slaves, 50 slave children, and a large plantation near Atlanta, Georgia. Pauline married Navasota Grice in 1875 and they moved to Texas in 1917. Since her husband's death in 1928 Pauline has depended on the charity of friends, with whom she lives at 2504 Ross Ave., North Fort Worth, Texas.

White man, dis old cullud woman am not strong. 'Bout all my substance am gone now. De way you sees me layin' on dis bed am what I has to do mos' de time. My mem'randum not so good like 'twas. De place I am borned am right near Atlanta, in Georgia, and on dat plantation of Massa John Blackshier . A big place, with 'bout 150 growed slaves and 'bout 50 pickininnies. I doesn't work till near de surrender. 'cause I's too small. But us don't leave Massa John , us go right on workin' for him like 'fore. Massa John am de kind massa and don't have whuppin's. He tell de overseer, 'If you can't make dem niggers work without de whup, den you not de man I wants.' Mos' de niggers 'have theyselves and when day don't massa put dem in de li'l house what he call de jail, with nothin' to eat till days ready to do what he say. Onct or twict he sell de nigger what won't do right and do de work. Us have de cabin what am made from logs but us only sleeps dere. All us cookin' done in de big kitchen. Dere am three women what do dat, and give us de meals in de long shed with de long tables.  To de bes' of dis nigger's mem'randum, de feed am good. Plenty of everything and corn am de mostest us have. Dere am cornbread and cornmeal mush and corn hominy and corn grits and parched corn for drink, 'stead of tea of coffee. Us have milk and 'lasses and brown sugar, and some meat. Dat all raise on de place. Stuff for to eat and wear, dat am made by us cullud folks and dat place am what dey calls se'f-s'portin'. De shoemaker make all de shoes and fix de leather, too.  After breakfas' in de mornin' de niggers am gwine here, dere and everywhere, jus' like de big factory. Every one to he job, some a-whistlin'. some a-singin'. Dey sings diff'rent songs and dis an one when days gwine to work:  Old cotton, old corn, see you every morn. Old cotton, old corn, see you since I's born. Old cotton, old corn, hoe you till dawn, Old cotton, old corn, what for you born?' Yes, suh, everybody happy on massa's place till war begin. He have two sons and Willie am 'bout 18 and Dave am 'bout 17. Dey jines de army and after 'bout a year, massa jine too, and, course, dat make de missy awful sad. She have to 'pend on de overseer and it warn't like massa keep things runnin'. In de old days, if de niggers wants de party, massa am de big toad in de puddle. And Christmas, it am de day for de big time. A tree am fix, and some present for everyone. De white preacher talk 'bout Christ. Us have singin' and 'joyment all day. Den at night, de big fire builded and all us sot 'round it. Dere am 'bout hundred hawg bladders save from hawg killin'. So, on Christmas night, de chillen takes dem and puts dem on de stick. Fust dey is all blowed full of air and tied tight and dry. Den de chillen holds de bladder in de fire and purty soon, 'B A N G,' dey goes. Dat am de fireworks. Dat all changed after massa go to war. Fust de 'federate sojers come and takes some mules and hosses, den some more come for de corn. After while, de Yankee sojers comes and takes some more. When dey gits through, dey ain't much more tookin' to be done. De year 'fore surrender, us am short of rations and sometime us hongry. Us sees no battlin' but de cannon bang all day. Once, dey bang two whole days 'thout hardly stoppin'. Dat am when missy go tech in de head, 'cause massa and de boys in dat battle. She jus' walk 'round de yard and twist de hands and say. 'Dey sho' git kilt. Dey sho' dead.' Den when extra loud noise come from de cannon, she scream. Den word come Willie am kilt. She gits over it, but she am de diff'rent woman. For her, it am trouble, trouble and more trouble. She can't sell de cotton. Dey done took all de rations and us couldn't eat de cotton. One day she tell us, 'De war am on us. De sojers done took de rations. I can't sell de cotton, 'cause of de blockade.' I don't know what am dat blockade, but she say it. 'Now,' she say. 'All you cullud folks born and raise here and us allus been good to you. I can't help it 'cause rations am short and I'll do all I can for you. Will yous be patient with me?' All us stay dere and help missy all us could. Den massa come home and say, 'Yous gwine be free. Far as I cares, you is free now, and can stay here and tough it through or go where you wants. I thanks yous for all de way yous done while I's gone, and I'll help you all I can.' Us all stay and it sho' am tough times. Us have most nothin' to eat and den de Ku Klux come 'round dere. Massa say not mix with dat crowd what lose de head, jus' stay to home and work. Some dem niggers on other plantations ain't keep de head and dey gits whupped and some gits kilt, but us does what massa say and has no trouble with dem Klux. It 'bout two year after freedom mammy gits marry and us goes and works on shares. I stays with dem till 1875 and den marries Navasota Robert Grice and us live by farmin' till he die, nine year since. 'Bout 20 year since us come here from Georgia and works de truck farm. I has two chillen but dey dead. De way I feels now, 'twon't be long 'fore I goes, too. My friends is good to me and lets me stay with dem.

Pauline Grice , 81, was born a slave to Mr. John Blackshier , who owned her mother with about 150 slaves, about 50 slave children, and a large plantation, located near Atlanta, in Fulton Co., Ga. She fails to remember her father, but vividly recalls the sounds of the battles fought in, and around Atlanta. Her mother married about two years after Emancipation and moved to a farm with her husband, taking Pauline with them. Pauline married Navasota Robert Grice in 1875. Two children were born to them, but are now dead. The couple engaged in truck farming until the death of her husband in 1928. She has depended on the charity of her friends since then, and now resides at 2504 Ross Ave., N. Ft. Worth, Texas. Her story:

W'ite man, dis old cullud women am not strong. 'Bout all my substance am gone. De way yous see me layin' on de bed now, am what I's have to do mostest ob de time. My mem'randum am not so good lak 'twas, so yous tooks de time, an' ask de question, an' he'p my mem'randum. De place I's bo'n am on de Plantation dat b'long to Marster John Blackshier . 'Twas neah Atlanta, Georgia. 'Twas a big place, wid over 150 grown slaves an' 'twas 'bout 50 piccaninnies, an' 'bout de same numbah ob younguns dat was jus' 'bout ready to go to wo'k. still 'membahs w'en my mammy puts me in de nu'sery fo' de care, while she go to de field to wo'k. I's put dere in de mo'nin', an' took out at night. Dere am an old mammy dat am too old to wo'k, dat am in charge ob de chilluns, an' she have he'p. 'Twas sev'ral ob de young gals dat 'sist her. 'Bout de feed weuns git, 'twas milk an' mush, mostest, wid some veg'tables an' fruit. I's put to do doin' light wo'k w'en I's 'bout nine yeahs old. 'Twas 'bout de time ob de surrendah. Co'se my mammy stay wid de Marster aftah surrendah, an' weuns goes on wo'kin' jus' lak befo'. At de staht, my wo'k am runnin' errands an' he'pin' wid de house wo'k, sich as wipin' de dishes an' sich. Marster Blackshier am a kind Marster. Him don't 'lows whuppin's. 'Twas once dat one ob de overseers tells de Marster dat him am gwine to quit if him am not 'lowed to whup a certain nigger, dat am s'posed to overlook de o'dah, or somethin. Well, de Marster tells de overseer, 'If yous can't direct de wo'k an' handle de niggers widout de whup, den yous am not de man I's wants'. Dat overseer quit. What de Marster does am have de jail, an' de punishment am by puttin' de niggers in jail widout food. De Marster don't have much trouble wid de cullud fo'ks, an' 'twarnt many dat have to be put in jail. De Marster have de rules an' de o'dahs, an' ever'one 'spects sich. I's 'membahs twice dat de Marster sells niggers 'cause deys not good at mindin' de rules. Sho, de cullud fo'ks all live in cabins. Deys am built f'om logs an' had bunks fo' sleepin' pu'poses. Dere am also de fiah place, but weuns don't do any cookin'. All de cookin' am done at one place in de main kitchen. Dere am three womens fo' to do de cookin; an' de meals am all served in a big shed wid long tables. To de best ob dis niggers mem'randum, de feed am good. Dere am plenty ob ever'thing an' co'se, co'n am de mostest weuns have. Dere am co'n bread, co'n meal mush, co'n hom'ny, co'n grits, an' parched co'n fo' drink, 'stead ob tea or coffee. Weuns have plenty ob milk to drink, an' veg'tables to eat, also fruit in season, 'lasses an' brown sugah, lots ob dat an' some meat. Now, all dat am raised an' fixed on de place. Stuff fo' to eat an' weah, am made by de cullud fo'ks. Dat place am what am called, 'Self s'portin''. Sho, deys have de shoe makah. Him make all de shoes an' deys fix de leathah, too. Weavahs an' spinnahs make de cloth f'om de cotton an' de wool, an' de seamstresses make de clothes f'om de cloth. Aftah breakfas' in de mo'nin', de niggers am gwine heah, dere, an' ever'whar, jus' lak' 'twas a big factory. Ever' one to his job, some awhistlin', an' some asingin'. I's 'membahs often dis chil's watch de cullud fo'ks staht fo' de wo'k, an' I's wish I's could go wid dem, thinkin' 'twould be fun. What deys sing? Well, diffe'nt songs. Dis am one deys sing lots w'en deys gwine to wo'k in de mo'nin': 'Old cotton, old co'n, see yo' ever' mo'n, Old cotton, old co'n, see yo' since I's bo'n. Old cotton, old co'n, see yo' ever' mo'n, Old cotton, old co'n, hoe yo' 'til dawn, Old cotton, old co'n, what fo' yo' bo'n.' Yas Sar, ever'body am happy on de Marster's place 'til de wah begin. De Marster have two sons, Willie am 'bout 18, an' Dave am 'bout 17 yeahs old. Well, deys j'in de ahmy an' aftah 'bout a yeah, de Marster j'in too, an' co'se, dat made de Missy powe'ful sad. She worry all de time 'bout de boys an' de Marster. Den 'twas de trouble on de place. She have to d'pend on de overseer, an' 'twarnt de o'dah lak de Marster keep. W'en de Marster am dere, it seem ever'thing am runnin' widout de fustin'. Him always 'mong de fo'ks wid de good wo'd. If weuns cullud fo'ks wants de pahty, de Marster am de big toad in de puddle, directin' de 'rangements. On Christmas Day, it am de day fo' big time. Dere am a big tree fixed, an' 'roun' it am some p'esent fo' ever'one. Some candy fo' de younguns, an' something else fo' de oldah fo'ks. Marster have some w'ite preachahman come an' preach 'bout Christ. 'Tis sing an' 'joyment all day. Den at night, a big fiah am builded an' allus sits 'roun' it. Now, dere am m'ybe 'bout 75, or 100 hawg bladdahs dat am saved f'om de hawg killin' all de yeah. Deys am all blowed full ob air, tied tight, an' hung up fo' to dry. So, on Christmas night, de chilluns tooks dem, an' puts dem on a stick. Den deys goes to de fiah, holds de bladdah in de fiah, an' pretty soon, 'B-A-N-G!', deys goes. Dat am de fiahwo'ks. Dat am all changed aftah de Marster goes to de wah. Fust de 'Federat Sojers come an' tooks some ob de mules an' coachhosses, den some mo' come fo' some co'n. Aftah while, 'twas de Yankee Sojers dat come an' took some mo'. W'en deys git th'ough tookin', dere warnt much mo' tookin' to be done. De yeah befo' surrendah, weuns am short ob rations, an' dere am times w'en weuns am hongry. I's see no battlin' durin' de wah, but I's heahs de shootin'. Dat am de yeah befo' de surrendah. Once, 'twas shootin' fo' 'bout two days. Dat am w'en de Missy goes tech in de head. Dat am cause de Marster an' de boys am fittin' in de battle, 'twas neah Atlanta. De Missy jus' walk 'roun in de yahd, twistin' her hands an' saysin', 'Deys sho git killed. Deys sho dead'. Den w'en de extra loud noise f'om de cannon sounds, she would scream. W'en de shootin' stop, she am sick in bed, an' stay dere fo' two days. Den word come dat Willie am killed. Dat was awful news fo' her. She gits over it, but she am a diffe'nt person. Fo' her, it am trouble, trouble, an' mo' trouble. Cause ob de wah, she can't sell de cotton. I's don't know w'y, but dat am how 'twas. Dat warnt so bad, if deys don't took de rations, 'cause weuns couldn't eat de cotton. If de Missy could sell de cotton, den she could buy de rations. One day, de Missy call allus cullud fo'ks to de house an' she told weuns, 'I's call yous fo' to 'splain how 'tis. De wah am on weuns. De Sojers have took de rations. I's can't sell de cotton, 'cause ob de blockade'. I's don't know what 'tis de blockade, but she says it. 'Now,' she says, 'Mostest all yous cullud fo'ks am bo'n an' raised on de place. De Marster an' I's am always good as weuns can be to yous. I's can't he'p it 'cause de rations am short, an' will do all I's can fo' yous. Will yous be patient wid me? Also, will yous do all yous can to he'p me? All dat will, raise de hand. Dem dat think deys can be bettah off some tudder place, can go'. Marster w'ite man, allus cullud fo'ks raised de hands an' stayed right dere. 'Twarnt long aftah de Missy make dat talk 'til de Marster come home. Aftah him am home a couple ob days, him call allus to de house an' him made de talk. Him says, ''Tis not long now, 'Til yous niggers am gwine to be free. Far as I's care, yous can considah yousse'ves, free people right now. Yous can stay right heah an' tough it through wid me, or yous can goes whar yous wants to'. Den him stop talkin' fo' de minute. Den, him says, 'I's wants to thank yous all fo' de way all yous 'operate wid de Missy while I's am gone. I's can't thank yous 'nough, but I's says dis, dat I's ready to he'p any one in any way dat I's can'. How I's 'membahs what de Marster an' de Missy says so well, am 'cause my mammy speak 'bout dat many, many times. Weuns all stay an' what de Marster says 'bout tough times, an' tough it out, am true. It sho am tough fo' a while 'til de crops come in. De Marster often called weuns in fo' a talk, an' 'splain how 'tis, an' 'vise weuns what to do. Weuns follow de 'vise. Him 'vise weuns 'bout de Ku Klux, an' says not to mix wid de crowd dat lose de head, to jus' stay home an' 'tend to de wo'k. Dat weuns do an' 'void lots ob trouble. Dere was lots ob niggers 'roun' dere dat listen to foolishments, an' think deys could do jus' lak de w'ite fo'ks. Dem soon larnt de lesson. Some am whupped, an' 'tis said dat some gits killed, 'cause deys suddenly gone, an' nobody knows whar, or heahs 'bout dem. Weuns stay wid de Marster fo' 'bout two yeahs aftah surrendah. Den, mammy gits mai'ied an' allus goes to a place neah de Marster's place, on a piece ob land dat her husband wo'ked on shares. I's stayed wid my fo'ks 'til 1875. Den I's mai'ied Navasota Robert Grice .  Weuns fahmed an' lived togeddah 'til nine yeahs ago, an' den he died. Weuns fahmed all weun's life. 'Twas 'bout 20 yeahs ago dat weuns come heah f'om Georgia, an' wo'ks de truck fahm.  Weuns 'tend to weun's wo'k, an' am never in trouble. I's have two chilluns, but both am now dead, so I's 'lone in dis world an' lives wid friends. De way I's feel now, 'twont be long dat I's am de bothah to my friends. De substance dat I's have, am awful low.Bout de mai'iage ob de cullud fo'ks is de one thing mo' dat yous wants to know. Well, 'taint much to tell. De cullud fo'ks have to git de Marster's 'mission an' him tell dem, 'W'en I's 'sign yous to de cabin, dat means yous am to be man an' wife fo' de whole life'.De ce'emony am steppin' over de broom which am laid on de flooah. Sometimes, deys have a celeb'ation, an' sometimes deys don't.