Sunday, November 10, 2013

Ex-Slave Lewis Evans.

Lewis Evans, was 96 years old when he told his story, no date is given.

Lewis Evans lives on the lands of the estate of the late C.L. Smith,about ten miles southwest of Winnsboro, S.C. The house is a two-room frame structure, with a chimney in the center. He has the house and garden lot, free of rent, for the rest of his life, by the expressed wish of Mr. Smith before his demise. The only other occupant is his wife, Nancy, who is his third wife and much younger than Lewis. She does all the work about the home. They exist from the produce of the garden, output of fowls, and the small pension Lewis receives. They raise a pig each year. This gives them their meat for the succeeding year.

"Who I b'long to? Where was I born? White folks tell me I born after de stars fell, (1833), but maybe I too little to 'member de day. Just have to go by what I hear them say. Think it was 'bout 1841. All accounts is, I was born a slave of Marster John Martin, near Jenkinsville. Old Mistress, his wife, named Miss Margaret. All I can 'member 'bout them is dis: They had 'bout fifteen slaves, me 'mongst them. His daughter married a doctor, Doctor Harrison. I was sold to Maj. William Bell, who lived 'bout ten or twelve miles from old Marster. I's a good size boy then. Maj. Bell had ten families when I got dere. Put me to hoein' in de field and dat fall I picked cotton. Next year us didn't have cotton planters. I was took for one of de ones to plant de cotton seed by drappin' de seed in de drill. I had a bag 'round my neck, full of seeds, from which I'd take handfuls and sow them 'long in de row. Us had a horse-gin and screwpit, to git de cotton fit for de market in Charleston. Used four mules to gin de cotton and one mule to pack it in a bale. Had rope ties and all kinds of bagging. Seems to me I 'members seein' old flour sacks doubled for to put de cotton bales in, in de screw-press.

"Us raised many cows, hogs, sheep, and goats on de Bell place. Us worked hard. Us all had one place to eat. Had two women cooks and plenty to eat, cooked in big pots and ovens. Dere was iron pegs in and up de kitchen chimneys, chain and hooks to hold pots 'bove de fire. Dat's de way to boil things, meats and things out de garden.

"Whippin's? Yes sir, I got 'most skinned alive once, when I didn't bring up de cows one Sunday. Got in a fight wid one of Miss Betsie Aiken's hands and let de cows git away, was de cause of de whippin'. I was 'shamed to tell him 'bout de fight. Maj. Bell, dis time, whipped me. hisself.

"My white folks was psalm singers. I done drove them to de old brick church on Little River every Sabbath, as they call Sunday. Dere was Miss Margaret, his wife, Miss Sallie and Miss Maggie and de two young marsters, Tom and Hugh. De two boys and me in front and my mistress and de two girls behind. Maj. Bell, when he went, rode his saddle horse.

"Who-ee! Don't talk to dis nigger 'bout patrollers. They run me many a time. You had to have a pass wid your name on it, who you b'long to, where gwine to, and de date you expected back. If they find your pass was to Mr. James' and they ketch you at Mr. Rabb's, then you got a floggin', sure and plenty. Maj. Bell was a kind master and would give us Saturday. Us would go fishin' or rabbit huntin' sometime.

"Us had two doctors, Doctor Furman and Doctor Davis. White folks care for you when you sick. I didn't have no money in slavery time, didn't have no use for none. Us had no quarters, houses just here and dere on de place, 'round de spring where us got water.

"My Marster went to de old war and was a major. He had brass buttons, butterflies on his shoulders, and all dat, when he come back.

"De Yankees come. Fust thing they look for was money. They put a pistol right in my forehead and say: 'I got to have your money, where is it?' Dere was a gal, Caroline, who had some money; they took it away from her. They took de geese, de chickens and all dat was worth takin' off de place, stripped it. Took all de meat out de smoke-house, corn out de crib, cattle out de pasture, burnt de gin-house and cotton. When they left, they shot some cows and hogs and left them lying right dere. Dere was a awful smell round dere for weeks after.

"Somethin' d'rected me, when I was free, to go work where I was born, on de Martin place. I married Mary Douglas, a good-lookin' wench. A Yankee took a fancy to her and she went off wid de Yankee. She stayed a long time, then come back, but I'd done got Preacher Rice to marry me to Louvinia then. Dis second wife was a good gal. I raised ten chillun by her, but I's outlived them all but Manuel, Clara and John. When Louvinia passed out, I got Magistrate Smith to jine me and Nancy. She's still livin'. Home sick now, can't do nothin'.

"White people been good to me. I've been livin' in dis home, free of rent, given me for life by Mr. Jim Smith, 'cause I was his faithful servant twenty years.

"Many times I's set up in de gallery of de old brick church on Little River. They had a special catechism for de slaves, dat asked us who made you, what He made you out of, and what He made you for? I ain't forgot de answers to dis day.

"Marster Major give us Chris'mas day and a pass to visit 'bout but we sho' had to be back and repo't befo' nine o'clock dat same day.

"I got my name after freedom. My pappy b'long to Mr. David R. Evans. His name was Steve; wasn't married reg'lar to my mammy. So when I went to take a name in Reconstruction, white folks give me Lewis Evans.

"I b'longs to de Baptist church. Am trustin' in de Lord. He gives me a conscience and I knows when I's doin' right and when de devil is ridin' me and I's doin' wrong. I never worry over why He made one child white and one child black. He make both for His glory. I sings 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Jesus Gwine Carry Me Home.' Ain't got many more days to stay. I knows I'm gwine Home."

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