Annie B. Boyd

(Mamie Hanberry) [TR: also spelled Hanbery.]

Annie B. Boyd, born August 22nd 1851, resides at corner of Liberty and First Street, Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Born a slave belonging to Charles Cammack near Gordonsville, Kentucky in Christian County. “My mother and me war put on de block in front of de Courthouse in Hopkinsville and sold to Mr. Newt. Catlett and we brung $500.00. Marse Catlett lived on the corner of Seventh and Clay Streets, Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Wen I was older the white folks had me foh to nurse dar chilluns. I noes wen de war broke out marse had a store and den marsa took me to his wife’s kinfolks down in de country till freedom war declared den my stepfather come an’ got me. Of course I hed ter work and den I went ter nurse foh Dr. Fairleigh and nussed his daughter Madge. De white folks wont good to me. My marster was a good man but my missus wont no good woman. She uster box my ears, stick pins in me and tie me ter de cedar chest and whoop me as long as she wanter. Oh, how I did hate dat woman.

“Yes, once in my life I seed a ghost. We was goin’ thru de woods to a neighbors ter a prayer meeting en a man stepped out in de woad without no head wid all his clothes on en I had jes wropped my head dat day and wen I seed him all my hair strings en all jes stood straight up. I got hot den I’se got cold and he jest stepped ter de side of de road en I went by running. Yes, we got ter de prayer meeting en den we went back home de same way en did us niggers run?

“I was nurse in slave time en I carried de chilluns all ober de house en one day I had de chilluns upstars en my missus called me en I went ter see whar she wont and while I’se war gone de baby got hodter Indian Turnip an hed bit it by de time I git back dar en I called my missus en she come en made me eat de rest of de turnip en my face enall swelled up en my eyes war closed foh days. After missing de baby en tending ter de uther chilluns all de day an night wen I put de baby ter bed I bed ter knit two round ebery night en would be sleepy en my missus would reach ober en jab a pin in me to keep me awake. Now dat is what I calls a mean woman.

“I kin read en write at first of freedom I sent ter school some en learned ter read and write. “I sho do believe in dreams. I had one once I laid down on de bed ter take er nap en den I dreamed dat somethin was a chokin me en I pulled at my dress en a big snake dropped out of my bosom rolled down on de bed. Den on de floor en when I woke up sho nuff dar war a snake on de floor by de bed en I killed it en den I knowed dat I had an enemy sho nuff in a few days a woman I thot was my friend turned gain me. By killing de snake I knowed dat I would conquer dat enemy.

“I noes wishes cen come tru seems ter me I hev but my memory aint so good but still I believes hit. “Wen de smoke flies low hit sho is goin ter snow.” “Spilling salt or ter waste salt is bad luck. I always wen I makes my bread put de salt in de bread den I puts some of de salt in de fire ter bring me good luck.

“Sometime de moon affects people wen it changes hit makes some folks crazy en dey is hard to git alon wid.” “If you plant Irish pertatoes on de light of de moon you hev nuthin but top. Whatever ter be made underneath de ground like turnips, potatoes, onions is ter be planted by de dark of de moon. Beans, peas, corn in de light of de moon.

“Yes, spit will cure, cause I had ringworms once en in de morning wen I woke up afore I spoke ter anyone I’d take spit en put on my face en hit sho cured de ringworms.”


Tale of Mary Wooldridge

Tale of Mary Wooldridge: (Clarksville Pike–Age about 103.)

“Mary and her twin sister were slaves born in Washington County, Kentucky, near Lexington, belonging to Bob Eaglin. When Mary was about fourteen years old she and her sister was brought to the Lexington slave market and sold and a Mr. Lewis Burns of the same County purchased her. Mary doesn’t know what became of her sister. Five or six years later she was again put on the block and sold to a Negro Trader but Mary does not remember this traders name. While here she was kept in a stockade and it was several years before she again was bought by a white man. Mr. Thomas McElroy near Lexington bought her and she remained his slave until the slaves were freed. Mary looks her age. She is a tall gaunt black Negro with white hair about one inch long and very kinky, and still she dresses as the older slave woman dressed in the past days. She wears an old bodice with a very full skirt that comes to her ankles and this skirt has very long deep pockets and when I asked her why she had such pockets in her skirt her answer was, “Wal you sees honey I jes am used ter dis dress and thar is no way foh youse to had me git shud of hit, dese pockets is powerful venient foh weh I goes inter some ones house why I turns dose pockets wrong side out and dat always brings me good luck.

Mary contends that she always wears three petticoats.

“Marse Thamos lived in a big log house wid a big plantation all around hit. He had three hundred slaves on de two plantations. Marse Thamos sho was good ter us niggers. No nigger mus whoop his stock wid a switch. “I’se heared him say many time don’t youse niggers whoop dese mules. How would you like to have me whoop you det way?” And he sho would whoop dem dem niggers if he cotched dem. Lawd have mercy who whould haw thot I’d be here all dis time. I’d thot I’d be ded and gone. All dese ole niggers try to be so uppity by jes bein raised in de house and cause dey was why
dey think is Quality. Some of dese nigger gals was raised in de house but most of dem was made work ebery whar on de plantation. My Massa has his nigger gals to lay fence worms, mak fences, shuck corn, hoe corn en terbacco, wash, iron, and de missus try to teach de nigger gals to sew and knit. But shucks niggers aint got no sense nuf ter do fancy things. Sometimes I tended de chilluns.

“Yah, yah, I sho do member Abraham Lincoln. My Missus and Massa did not like Mr. Lincoln, but pshaw, all de niggers did. I member him, I seed him once, soon after I was freed.

“Pshaw, dey was hard times durin de war, my Missus and sum of de nigger gals and de chilluns hae to stay in the woods several days ter keep way from de soldiers. Dey eat all de chickens and kilt the cows and tuk de horses and we sho scairt out dar wid dem varmints roving roun.

“Nigger aint got no business being sot free, niggers still oughter be slaves. Us niggers did not hev to bother bout de victuals sor nuthin.

“Wen my Missis called us niggers gether and told us we was free I was as happy as a skinned frog but you seed I didn’t have any sense. All niggers are fools. Now she says, she did, you can all stay here en work en we will pay you foh your work, or you can work foh some body else, but I hev raised you hones, and don’t you steal, and work foh nuf money
so you wont hev to steal it if youse gits hongry and haint got no money to buy vittals jus you ask de white folks foh hit and dey will giv hit to youse. Oh how I miss my Missis and Massa so much. Wish I hed dem now.

“Shucks on dese niggers and dar ways now. I lef de plantation my old Missus and Massa home and got on a steam boat on de Ohio Ribber and nursed de chillun foh de Captain and he’s wife on dat boat foh about two year. An den He, He, He, a nigger don got much sense, Miss Fannie an Mr. Harry Campbell whot paid me foh my work on de boat gives Five Dollars foh de work en I’se didn’t hev sense nuf ter know what ter do wid dis money. So I goes ter de store en buys me a cedar tub and filled hit wid candy. Miss Fannie gave me back de money foh de tub an den I ate nuf candy ter git sick and den Miss Fannie took de candy back to de store and she got my money back, she did.

“But shucks, I did not no whot ter do wid de money. Wen I lef Miss Fannie I rode to Henderson on a log raft en wen I got dar dey was a big circus and sum one was sayin, “de perade be here directly, He, He, He, I didn’t no whot dey meant, big ignorant fool dat I was and still is, en wen I seed de elephants and de uther varmints I ran like a big pop-eyed fool nigger cause I never seed such things. Dat day on de road in town I met my ole Missus McElroy en she had me ter help her wid de chilluns and tuk me ter de circus and wen I got in de tent and saw all de cages and things I was sho scairt of ebery thing till I seed dem babboons dem I felt all right and at home cause I jes knowed dey was my first cousins. I stayed in Henderson foh sometime working foh furst one and tother en den Mr. Henry Shackleford hired me en brung me to Christian County. Not long fore I was married ter Albert Wooldridge we sho had a big wedding. Zack Major a nigger preacher of de Baptist faith did de ceremony right here in Hopkinsville.

“Yes, sho I has ben a mid-wife or granny. All dese high falutin things dey is doin now in child birth is tommy-rot dey oughter hev jes grannies now. I livered more babies den most doctors sometimes de white folks had doctors but I don’t take no stock in dese doctors. De furst thing you does wen a new baby is born is ter let hit lay twenty minutes den cut de cord and dan grease a scortched rag wid lard jes hog lard en den put de belly band on den grease de baby all over. Neber wash de baby till tis over a week ole. Wen de babies had colic I’d take dirt dobber nest and make a tea, den giv did ter de baby. Sometimes If I couldn’t fin no dirt dobber nes I would git a spider web and make a tea den giv dis or else jes shake de baby by de heels. If folks would tend ter babies like dey uster why dese people now wouldn’t hev heart trouble.

“Sho I seed a ghost once, I soed Miss Annie Wooldridge after she died up here on Main St. I was jes settin on de back porch steps jes a lookin while da white folks was er eatin supper. Miss Annie allways got de eggs en I seed her dat day. She jes come thru de hen house door en hit was locked en den thru de pantry door and hit was locked en I jes called her
daughter and I knowed I seed her, sho, I did, it who was Miss Annie.

“Of course dar is hanted houses. De ole Sharp house were dat er way and all de Sharps were ded but dis house were empty. You neber did see anything but I sho had heared de doors slam en de silver rattle en at night in my cabin near to hit I’d sees lights bob up en down. Any body in dis town can tell you dats so foh dey tore dis house down ter run de
hants eraway.

“People don bother bout de moon much now but if dey would lissen ter de ole niters dey would always hev good crops. Now if you plant pertatoes by de dark of de moon you will always hev good crops en if you plant dem on de light of de moon den you hes all vine. Corn planted on de light de moon den you has a good crop. I’se knows cause I ken member fore de niggers wore freed you could jes plant by de moon and plant anything in God’s ground en by de moon en de crops would grow. Now dey jes buther up God’s ground en put ole stinky messy fertilizer on hit en de crops jes
burn up. Nobody oughter mess wid God’s ground.

“I’se a Publican who ever heared of a Democrat nigger. Nigger neber did own enything so dey cant be Democrats en if dey vote a Democrat ticket dey is jes votin a lie. Cause no nigger neber did own slaves only the old nigger slave traders and dey werent nuthin but varmints anyway. Ye jes has to hev owned slaves to vote a Democrat ticket en den no nigger eber did own slaves er hed nothing.”

(Mary lives in Clarksville, Pike R.R. #1, Hopkinsville, Kentucky)

Story of Easter Sudie Campbell

Mamie Hanbery) [HW: Ky 3]

Story of Easter Sudie Campbell, (age about 72, Webber St., Hopkinsville, Ky.)

Born in Princeton, Caldwell Co., Kentucky, her parents were slaves, the property of Will and Martha Grooms of Princeton.

Aunt Easter as she is called has followed the profession of a mid-wife for forty years. She is still active and works at present among the negroes of Hopkinsville.

“Yes, sho, I make my own medicines, humph, dat aint no trouble. I cans cure scrofula wid burdock root and one half spoon of citrate of potash. Jes make a tea of burdock root en add the citrate of potash to hit. Sasafras is good foh de stomach en cleans yer out good. I’se uses yeller percoon root foh de sore eyes.

“Wen I stayed wid Mrs. Porter her chaps would break out mighty bad wid sores in de fall of de year and I’se told Mrs. Porter I’se could core dat so I’se got me some elder berries en made pies out of hit en made her chaps eat hit on dey war soon cored.

“If twont foh de white folks I sho would hev a hard time. My man he jes wen erway en I haint neber seed him ergin en I’se had five chilluns en de white folks hev heped me all dese years. Dese trifling niggers dey wont hepe dey own kind of folks. If youse got de tooth ache I makes a poultice of scrape irish pertatoes en puts hit on de jaw on de side de tooth is aching en dat sho takes de fever out of de tooth. I’se blows terbacco smoke in de ear en dat stops de ear ache.

“Wen I goes on er baby case I jest let nature hev hits way. I’se alays teas de baby de first thing I does is ter blow my breath in de baby’s muff en I spanks it jes a little so hit will cry den I gives hit warm catnip tea so if hit is gwine ter hev de hives dey will break out on hit. I alays hev my own catnip en sheep balls foh sum cases need one kind of tea en sum ernother. I give sink field tea ter foh de colic. Hit is jes good fuh young baby’s stomach. I’se been granning foh nigh unter forty year en I’se only lost two babies, dat war born erlive. One of dese war de white man’s fault, dis baby war born wid de jaundice en I tolds dis white man ter go ter de store en git me sum calomel en he says, “whoeber heard of givin a baby sech truck”, an so dat baby died.

“Of course youse can tell wheder the baby is gwine ter be a boy er girl fore tis born. If de mother carries dat child more on de left en high up dat baby will be a boy en if she carries hit more ter de middle dat will be a girl. Mothers oughter be more careful while carrying dar chilluns not ter git scared of enthing foh dey will sho mark dar babies wid turrible ugly things. I knows once a young wooman war expecting en she goes black-berry hunting en er bull cow wid long horns got after her en she was so scairt dat she threw her hands ober her head en wen dat baby boy war born he hed to nubs on his head jes like horns beginning ter grow so I’se hed her call her doctor en dey cuts dem off. One white wooman I’se waited on like hot choclate en she alays wanted more she neber hed nuff of dat stuff en one day she spills sum on her laig en it jes splotched en burned her en wen dat gal war born she hed a big brown spot on her laig jes like her Mammy’s scar frum de burn. Now you see I noes yer ken mark de babies.

“Dar war a colored wooman once I’se waited on dat hed to help de white folks kill hogs en she neber did like hog liver but de white folks told her ter take one home en fix hit foh her supper. Well she picked dat thing up en started off wid hit en hit made her feel creepy all ober en dat night her baby war born a gal child en de print of er big hog-liver war standing out all ober one side of her face. Dat side of her face is all blue er purplish en jes the shape of a liver. En hits still dar.

“I’se grannied ober three hundred chilluns en I noes wat I’se talking about.

“Hee! Hee! Hee! One day dar war a circus in Hopkinsville en er black wooman I’se war ergoing ter wait on war on de street to watch foh de parade en wid de bands er playing en de wild varmits en things dis woman give birth ter dat girl chile on de corner of Webber and Seventh St. Dat gal sho got er funny name ‘Es-pe-cu-liar’. (I did not get the drift of the story so I asked her what was so funny about the name. Of course it is a name I have never heard before so the following is what the girls Mother said about it to Aunt Easter. M.D. Hanbery)

“Well the gals Mammy thought hit war jes peculiar dat, dat happened wen she war er looking at the parade. (So this woman Especuliar is still in Hopkinsville and her story is known in quite a few of the older circles.)

“Yah! Yah! I sho remember how de ole folks uster dress. De women wore hop skirts en de men wore tight breeches. De night gowns war made on er yoke aufull full en big long sleeves wid a cuff at de hand en a deep hem at de bottom of de gown, dese gowns war made of domestic en wen dey war washed en starched en ironed dey wur be so stiff dey could stand erlone.” De men en de women both wore night caps. If de gown war a dress up gown why dey war home made knit en crochet lace in de front en lots en lots of tucks some of dem had deep ruffles on dem at the bottom.

“Wen my Pappy kum home from de war, he war on de “Govmint” side he brung a pistol back wid him dat shot a ball dey hed caps on hit en used dese in de war. De Ku Klux jum after him one night en he got three of dem wid dis pistol, nobody eber knowed who got dose Kluxes.


“Sho dar is ghosts. One night es I war going home from work de tallest man I eber seed followed me wid de prettiest white shirt on en den he passed me, en waited at de corner I war a feeling creepy en wanter run but jes couldn’t git my laigs ter move en wen I’se git ter de corner war he war I said ‘Good Ebening’ en I seed him plain es day en de did not speak en jes disappeared right fore my eyes.

“Den ergin I went ter de fish pond one day fishing en cotched two or three big fish wen I went home thot I’d go back dat night en I begun to dig sum fishing worms en my boss he saw me en axed, ‘Wot I doing’. I told him I war ergoing ter de pond ter fish dat night. He said ‘don you go ter dat pond ternight Easter foh if you does something will run you erway.’ I jes laughed at him en dat night I en my boy wese goes ter d pond en as we war er standing in dar quiet like we heared something squeeching like er new saddle en er horses er trotting. We listened en waited wen something wen inter dat pond right twixt us liker er ball er fire. Weums sho did leave dar an de next morning my boss axed me if we cotched enthing en we told him wot we saw en he said he knowed weums would be run erway foh he war run erway hisself.

“Course dar is hainted houses dese haints in dese places jes wont leave you erlone. Wen I’se war er living in Princeton, Uncle Lige my Mammy’s brother en I’se moved in er cabin one Christmas day en war ergoing ter stay dar en dat night we war er setting bore de fire en de fire light war es bright as day, wen I looks up at de wall foh I hears er scratching noise en dar war er big white cat on de wall wid all he’s hair standing on dat cat jos jumps from wall ter de nother en Uncle Lige en me jes open dat cabin door en started ter de tother cabins on de place en we deed dat thing dat war bigger den eny cat I eber seed jes
come thru dat door in de air en hit de front gate, dis gate hed er iron weight on hit so hit would stay shot en dis thing hit at de top den wen erway. No I neber seed whar hit went. Dis gate jes banged en banged all night. We could heat from de tother cabin. Uncle Liga en me moved erway next day en other people moved in dis cabin en dey saw de same thing en nobody would stay dar. Dem some time after dis diz cabin war torn down.

“Once I hed a dream I knowed I ner bout saw hit. I alays did cook ebery night er pot er beans on de fire foh de chilluns ter eat next day while I war at work en Lizzie my daughter uster git up in de night en git her some beans en eat dem en dis dream war so real dat I couldn’t tell if hit war Lizzie er no but dis wooman jes glided by my bed en went afore de fire en stood dar den she jes went twixt my bed en went by de wall. I jes knowed wen I woke up dat my child was sick dat lived erway from home en wanted my son ter take me ter see her. He said he would go hisself en see so he wen en wen he come back he hed a headache en fore morning dat nigger war dead. So you see dat war de sign of da dream. I war jes warned in de dream en didn’t hev sense nuff ter know hit.”

Kate Billingsby

Kate Billingsby, Ex-slave, according to a record in a Bible the Buckners gave her when she married was born in 1828. She was owned by Frank and Sarah Buckner. Born in this County and has spent her life in and around Hopkinsville. She lives on what is known as the Gates Mill Road about one half mile east of US 41E and owns her own home.

Aunt Kate as she is generally called is a small black negro and in going into her home you will find it furnished in lovely antique furniture in a disreputable state of repair. She met me with a dignity and grace that would be a credit to any one of the white race to copy, illiterate though she may be. Her culture and training goes back to the old Buckner family, at one time one of the most cultured families in Christian County. She is not a superstitious negro. Being born a Buckner slave, she was never sold and her manners and ways proclaim that she surely must have been raised in “De white folks house” as she claims, being a maid when old enough, to one of Frank Buckner’s daughters. She stated, “Dese Buckners war sho good to me, eben now dey chilluns comes to see me and always bring me something. Dey don let my taxes lapse am I’se neber widout somting to eat.” My man and I was married by Mr. Alexander at McClain College. I was de cook an he was the janitor. My man followed his Massa in de Secess War. If he was a livin’ now he would be 110 years
old, he bin ded ’round fifteen year.”

No I’se done believe in no ghosts hants or anything of that kind my white folks being “quality”. I’se been raised by “quality”! Why I’se “quality nigger”. “Wen any of my folks git sick or eny of my white folks de doctor would always bee sent foh.”

(Her address is: R.R. #2, Hopkinsville, Ky.)

Story of Cora Torian

Story of Cora Torian: (217 W. 2nd St., Hopkinsville, Ky.–Age 71.)

Bell Childress, Cora’s Mother, was a slave of Andrew Owen. He purchased Belle Childress in the Purchase and brought her to Christian County. Cora was born in Christian County on Mr. Owen’s farm and considered herself three years old at the end of the Civil War. She told me as follows:

“I has dreamed of fish and dat is a sure sign dat I would git a piece of money, an I always did. Dreamed of buggy and horse an it was a sign of death in family and I no’s hits tru. Dream of de ded hit always rains. My Mistus and Marster fed and clothed us good and we lived in a little log cabin of one room and cooked on an open fire. Some Marsters wud whoop ther slaves til the blood would run down daw backs dese slaves would run away sometimes den sum would come to Ise Marse and would have to send dem back to dar own marsters and how my ole marster hated to see dem go.

“I hang horse shoes oer my door to keep the Evil Spirits away. My Mammy always wore and ole petticoat full gather at de waist band wid long pockets in dem and den to keep peace in de house she would turn de pocket wrong side out jes as she would go to somebodys elses house.

“I sho do no dar is ghosts, I seed one oncet hit was a man wid no head on standin in my house and pullin the crammin out of de house and puttin hit on de table. Oooh I no’s dat is so cause I seed hit wid my own eyes.

“My Mammy had a woman dat lived wid us and she died, and sometimes afterwards, she called me and I looked in de room and dis woman was sitting on de side of de bed and wen i spoke to her she slowly ris up and went thru a crack about two inches wide. now dats a fak!

“Humph, no I’se not gwine ter go near no hainted house, much less stay in one. I’se scairt.

“Hee, hee, sho you can find things by spitting in yer han and de way the spit goes if youse will go dar you will be sho to find hit.

“Aint got no time for fortune tellers, don believe in dem, day don’t do nuthin.

“Wen de moon changes if youse see hit thru de bresh you sho will have bad luck, but if youse sees hit and nuthin to hinder youse from lookin at hit straight and make a wish it who will come true. I’se no’s cause my son was way down South an I woant to seed him and I looks at de moon and hit was changing and I wished de would come home and looked up de road and “Lawd daw he were.

“Youse plants de pertatoes by de moon. Irish pertatoes planted on de light of de moon will go ter vine and der neber will be a tater on de vine. If youse plant dem by de dark of de moon yourall’s pertatoes will be plentiful.

“If youse maks soap it must be made by de light of de moon or de soap will all turn to grease.

“If youse sneeze wen you eats you will shorely die.

“If youse see a blue gummed negro be shore one don bite you foh dey are shore pizenous.

“If youse have yer year to ring, sho sing of death.

“Move on Friday, “Good Lawd No”, youse would sho have bad luck.

“One tru sign of death, if a dog howls at midnight, you will sho to die. If you dreams of you teeth falling out is a tru sign of death and if youse dreams of a marriage is nuther tru sign of death.

“If I dream of a naked purson I’se is sho to die. No cat mus come in wen dar is a ded body for de cat will sho eat de body.

“If a cat crosses youse path to de left some kind of bad luck is sho to overtake on yer journey.

“If a peckerwood pecks on de roof of youse house you will sho lose some member of youse family. Dey is pizen.

“No I’se jes ter scairt ter go whar day call up Spirits.”