Renwick's place where my husband worked. I married Tom Renwick. We went to the church of the colored folks after the war, and had preachings in mornings and evenings and at night, too. We didn't have no nigger schools, and we didn't learn to read and write.
"The white folks had corn-shuckings, cotton pickings at night, when the mistress would fix a big dinner for all working."
SOURCE: Ellen Renwick (79), RFD, Newberry, S.C.
Interviewer: Mr. G. Leland Summer, 1707 Lindsey St., Newberry, S.C.
Project 1885 -1-
June 7, 1937
"I was born in Spartanburg County, S.C., near Glenn Springs. I can't 'member slavery or de war, but my ma and pa who was Green Foster and his wife, Mary Posey Foster, always said I was a big gal when the war stopped, when freedom come.
"We belonged to Seth Posey who had a big farm there. He was a good man, but sure made us work. I worked in the fields when I was small, hoed and picked cotton, hoed corn. They didn't give us no money for it. All we got was a place to sleep and a little to eat. The big man had a good garden and give us something from it. He raised loads of hogs, to eat and to sell. He sold lots of them. The young fellows hunted rabbits, possums, squirrels, wild turkeys, partridges, doves, and went fishing. The Master's wife, Miss Nancy, was good to us. She had one son, William.
"Yes, I 'member my ma telling us 'bout the padder-rollers. They would ride around, whipping niggers.
"My ma said her step-mother sold her. Sometimes they would take crowds of slaves to Mississippi, taking away mothers from their infant babies, leaving the babies on the floor.
"We always shuck corn and shell it at night, on moon-light nights we pick cotton. On Saturday afternoons we had frolics, sometimes frolics 'till Sunday daylight, then sleep all day Sunday.
"When we got sick all the medicine we took was turpentine—dat would cure almost any ailment. Some of the niggers used Sampson snake weed or peach leaves boiled and tea drunk.
"I joined the church when I was 12 years old 'cause the other girls joined. I think everybody ought to join a church to get their souls right for heaven:
"I married Charley Rice in Spartanburg County, at a colored man's house, named Henry Fox, by a colored preacher named 'Big Eye' Bill Rice. I had four children, and have five grand-children. I have been living in Newberry about 35 years or more. I worked as a wash-woman many years.
"When freedom come, my folks stayed on with Capt. Posey, and I washed and ironed with them later when I was big enough. I done some cooking, too. I could card and spin and make homespun dresses. My ma learned me.
"I don't know much about Abraham Lincoln and Jeff Davis but reckon dey was good men. I never learned to read and write. Booker Washington, I reckon, is a good man."
SOURCE: Anne Rice (75), Newberry, S.C.
Interviewer: G. Leland Summer, 1707 Lindsey St., Newberry, S.C.
Spartanburg, Dist. 4
Jan. 17, 1937
STORIES FROM EX-SLAVES
"My people tells me a lot about when I was a lil' wee boy. I has a clear mind and I allus has had one. My folks did not talk up people's age like folks do dese days. Every place dat I be now, 'specially round dese government folks, first thing dat dey wants to know is your name. Well, dat is quite natu'al, but de very next question is how old you is. I don't know, why it is, but dey sho do dat. As my folks never talked age, it never worried me till jes' here of late. So dey says to me dat last week I give one age to de man, and now I gives another. Soon I see'd dat and I had to rest my mind on dat as well as de mind of de government folks. So I settled it at 80 years old. Dat gives me respect from everybody dat I sees. Den it is de truth, too, kaise I come along wid everybody dat is done gone and died now. De few white folks what I was contemperment (contemporary) wid, 'lows dat I is 80 and dey is dat, too.
"You know dat I does 'member when dat Sherman man went through here wid dem awful mens he had. Dey 'lowed dat dey was gwine to Charlotte to git back to Columbia. I never is heard of sech befo' or since. We lived at old man Jerry Moss's in Yorkville, way back den. Yes sir, everyone said Yorkville, den, but dey ain't never called Gaffney like dat. Stories goes round 'bout Sherman shooting folks. Some say dat he shot a big rock off'n de State House in Columbia. My Ma and my Pa, Henry and Charity Rice, hid me wid dem when Sherman come along. Us never see'd him, Lawd God no, us never wanted to see him.
"Folks allus crying hard times dese days, ain't no hard times now like it was atter Sherman went through Yorkville. My ma and pa give me ash cake and 'simmon beer to eat for days atter dat. White folks never had no mo', not till a new crop was grow'd. Dat year de seasons was good and gardens done well. Till den us nearly starved and we never had no easy time gitting garden seed to plant, neither.
"Yes sir, if I's handy to locust I makes locust beer; den if I's handy to 'simmons, why den I makes 'simmon beer. Now it's jes' for to pass de time dat us does dat. But gwine back to de war; den it was for necessity. Dese young'uns now don't know what hard times is. Dey all has bread and meat and coffee, no matter how poor dey is. If dey had to live for days and weeks on ash cake and 'simmon beer, as us did den, and work and wait on a crop wid nothing but dat in deir bellies; den dey could grumble hard times. I allus tells 'em to shut up when dey starts anything like dat around me.
"When dat crop come along, we sho did fall in and save all us could for de next year. Every kind of seed and pod dat grow'd we saved and dried for next spring or fall planting. Atter folks is once had deir belly aching and growling for victuals, dey ain't never gwine to throw no rations and things away no mo'. Young folks is powerful wasteful, but if something come along to break up deir good time like it did to us when dat man Sherman held everything up, dey sho will take heed, and dey won't grumble 'bout it neither, cause dey won't have no time to grumble.
"Things passes over quicker sometimes dan we figures out dat dey will. Everything, no matter how good it be or how hard, passes over. Dey jes' does like dat. So dem Yankees went on somewhars, I never know'd whar, and everything round Yorkville was powerful relieved. Den de Confederate soldiers started coming across Broad River. Befo' dey got home, word had done got round dat our folks had surrendered; but dem Yankees never fit (fought) us out—dey starved us out. If things had been equal us would a-been fighting dem till dis day, dat us sho would. I can still see dem soldiers of ours coming across Broad River, all dirty, filthy, and lousy. Dey was most starved, and so poor and lanky. And deir hosses was in de same fix. Men and hosses had know'd plenty till dat Sherman come along, but most of dem never know'd plenty no more. De men got over it better dan de hosses. Women folks cared for de men. Dey brewed tea from sage leaves, sassafras root and other herb teas. Nobody never had no