I wus sold fust time in my mammy’s arms.

An interview with Chaney Spell, 101 years old, Contena Heights, Wilson, North Carolina:

“I really doan know who my first marster wus, case I has been sold an’ hired so much since den. I reckin dat I wus borned in New Hanover er Beaufort County an’ I wus sold fust time in my mammy’s arms. We wus sold ter a man in Carteret County and from dar de speculators took me ter Franklin County. I wus sold ter a Mr. McKee an’ dat’s de fust thing dat I ‘members.

“I doan ‘member anything ’bout maw ‘cept dat dey called her Sal an’ dat she died years an’ years ago. I reckin dat I once had a pappy, but I ain’t neber seed him.

“Marster McKee wus mean to us, an’ we ain’t had nothin’ to eat nor wear half of de time. We wus beat fer ever’ little thing. He owned I reckin two er three hundret slaves an’ he had four overseers. De overseers wus mean an’ dey often beat slaves ter death.

“I worked in de house, sometime ’round de table, but I ain’t got so much to eat.

“When word come dat we wus to be sold I wus glad as I could be. Dey tol’ me dat de marster has gambled away his money an’ lost ever’thing but a few slaves. Later I learned dat he had lost me to a Mr. Hartman in Nash County.

“Marse Sid Hartman wus good as he could be, sometimes his overseers wusn’t but when he foun’ it out he let dem go. Marse Sid ain’t got but one weakness an’ dat am pretty yaller gals. He just can’t desist dem at all. Finally Mis’ Mary found it out an’ it pretty near broke her heart. De ole marster, Marster Sid’s daddy, said dat long as he could ride a hoss he could look out fer de plantation so Marse Sid took Mis’ Mary to de mountains.

“Soon atter dey went away de war broke an’ ole marster wus right busy, not dat de slaves ain’t stuck to him but de Yankees won’t let dem stick. When Marse Sid an’ Mis’ Mary come home de war wus closin’ an’ dey has lost dere slaves. De slaves still loves ’em do’ an’ dey goes over an’ cleans house an’ fixes for de young folks.

“Atter de war I married Lugg Spell an’ we had five chilluns. He’s been dead dese many years an’ I’se worked, worked an’ worked to raise de chilluns. I has been on charity a long time now, a long time.”


Slave Narratives (1936-1939), Works Project Administration [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.


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