Texas Slave Narrative
Lucy Lewis Wife of Cinto
Lucy Lewis , wife of Cinte Lewis , does not know her age, but is very aged in appearance, about four feet tall and weighs around 65 or 70 pounds. She was born on the McNeel plantation at Pleasant Grove, land now occupied by No. 2 Camp of the Clemens Prison Farm. Her master was Johnny McNeel , brother of J. Greenville McNeel . His sister married Dave Randon , Cinto's master. Cinto and Lucy's cabin is furnished with an enormous fourposter bed and some chairs. Pots, pans, kettles and jugs hang on the walls. The fireplace has a skillet and beanpot in the ashes. The old people are almost blind.
You all white folks jus' set a bit while I eats me a little breakfast. I got me a little flap jack and some clabber here. Dem old flies gobble it up for me, don't I git to it fust. Me and Cinte 'bout starve, old hard time 'bout git us. I sure wishes I could find some of Marse John Dickinson's folks, I she' go to them. Me and Cinto got nine head grandchillen down in Galveston, but dey don't write or nothin'. All our own children are dead. Dey was Lottie and Louisa and Alice . Day was John , too, but he was so little and scrawny he die when he a month old. We call him after Marse John , which we all love as much. My mama's name was Lottie Hamilton and she was born at de Cranby Camp for Johnny McNeel , My papa was a Mexican and went by name of Juan . I don't hardly recollec' when we git married. I hardly turn fifteen and dey was fat on dose here old bones den, and I had me a purty white calico dress to git married in. It was low in de neck with ruffles and de sleeves come to my elbow party like. We she' had de finest kind of a time when Cinto and me gits married, we-all fishes down on de bayou all day long. Marse John marry us right out of de Bible. I were bred and born in No. 2 Camp over thar, but it called McNeel Plantation at Pleasant Grove in them days. It was Greenville McNeel's brother and his sister, Nancy , marry Dave Randon . When my marster and wife separate, de wife took part de slaves and de marster took some others and us and we come down here.
I had five brothers and one sister and I jus' 'member. Cinto's
step-pappy try cross de ribber on a log in high water and a old alligator swaller him right up. My marster and his missy were mighty good to us, mighty good. We used to wear good clothes real purty clothes most as good as dat Houston cloth you-all wearin'. And, she' 'nough, I had some purty red
russet shoes. When we-all real good, Marse John
used to give us small money to buy with. I spent mos' of mine to buy clothes. We used to go barefoot and only when I go to church and dances I wore my shoes. We she' had some good dances in my young days, when I was spry. "I used to cut all kind of steps, de cotillion and de waltz and de shotty
(schottische) and all de rest de dances of dat time. My preacher used to whup me did he hear I go to dances, but I was a right smart dancin' gal. I was little and sprite and all dem young bucks want to dances with me. Cinte
didn't know how to do no step, but he could fiddle. Dere was a old song which come back to me, 'High heels and Calico Stocking's. 'Fare you well, Miss Nancy Hawkins, High heel shoes and calies stockin's.' I can't sing now from de time I lost my teeth with de Black John fever. When I git dat fever, my missy
told me not to drink a mite of water 'cepting she told me to. I git so hot I jus' can't stand it and done drink a two-pint bucket of water, and my teeth drop right out. Missy sho' good to me. Dey 'bout 20 slaves but I stay in de house all de time; Our house have two big rooms and a kitchen and de boys and men
have rooms apart like little bitty houses on de outside. When we don't have to green up. I gits up 'bout sun-up to make coffee, but when we has to green up de house for company I gits up earlier. Missy Nancy
used to whup me if I done told a lie, but I didn't git whupped often. She used to whup me with a cattle whup made out of cowhide. Some of de slaves wore charms round dey necks, little bags of asfeddity. Me, I got me three vaccinations dat all I need. We used to git lots to eat, greens and suet, fish
from de ribber, cornmeal and plenty of sugar, even in de war time. Soldiers was around here as thick as weeds. We had to give 'em a tithe of corn and we makes clothes for 'em, and bandages and light jackets. We made de heavy leaded jackets, with lead in de skirts of de coat to hold it down. De lead looked
like a marble and we cut it in long strips and hammer it down. One of dem Yank gunboats come up de river and shell around here. Right here. Dem shells come whistlin' through de trees and lop de limbs right off. Dem were she' sears times. I didn't want to be free, I was too happy with missy. But I had to be
free, jus' like de others.
Lucy Lewis , wife of 'Cinto Lewis , claims to have been born before the Battle of San Jacinto (date unknown), on the McNeel Plantation at Pleasant Grove, land now occupied by No. Two Camp of the Clemens Prison Farm in Brazoria County. Her first master was Johnny McNeel , brother of J. Greenville McNeel . His sister married Dave Randon , 'Cinto's master, and Lucy and 'Cinto were taken over by the Randons . When the Randons later separated, Dave took Lucy and 'Cinto . Lucy speaks of a John Dickinson , for whom she worked, but fails to remember when. Unable to furnish dates, and specifying locations by an indifferent "down heah" or "over theah", much data goes unexplored. Aunt Lucy is shriveled and diminutive, being about four feet tall and weighing around 65 or 70 pounds. She is garrulous, full of fun. Their one-room house is unfurnished save for a monstrous four-poster bed and some cheap rockers. Around the walls are an array of pots, pans, kettles and jugs, ranging in material from chipped granite to rusty cast iron. An ancient fireplace supports a skillet and bean pot among its charred brick and copious ash heap. The old slaves are almost blind, and the flies drone after them as they hobble around. Both of them show a touching deference to white folks and are obviously proud of the prestige accorded them as old slaves.
You-all white folks jus' set a bit while I eats me a little breakfas'. I got me a little flap jack and some clabber here. Dem ol' flies gobble it up fo' me don' I git to it fust. Me and 'Cinto 'bout starve, ol' hard time 'bout git us. I sure wishes I could find me some of Marster John Dickinson's folks, I sho go to 'em. Me and 'Cinto got nine head of gran'chillen livin' down in Galveston de las' time I heared about 'em. Dey don' write or nuffin' an' I don' know if dey is all dead. All our own chillen air dead. Dey wah Lottie , Louisa , and Alice . Dey wah John too, but I don' hardly ever count in John in my chillen. He so little an' scrawny he die when he a month old. We call him after Marse John which we all love so much. We belong to Marse John when Marse John sot me free. My mamma's name wah Lottie Hamilton , Maria in her younger days. She wah bo'n at de Cranby Camp fo' Johnny McNeel . She pass on since 'mancipation. De slaves all call him 'papa' what fo' I jus' don' know, 'ceptin' his chillen all call him 'papa'. He wah lak a papa and whupped us if we-uns bad. My papa wah a Mexican and he went by de name of Juan . 'Cinto allus call me 'Old Red Heifer' after bein' bo'n pa't Mexican. Me and 'Cinto been together nigh on to a hundred year. I don' hardly recollec' when we git married. It seem I now recollec' I hardly turn fifteen. Dey wah fat on dese heah ole bones den, and I had me a purty white cal'co dress to git married in. It wah low in de neck wif ruffles an' de sleeves come to my elbow purty like. We sho had de fines' kind of a time when 'Cinto and me gits married. We-all fish down on de bayou all day long. Marster marry us right out of de Bible.
I wah bred and bawn in Number Two Camp over dar. It call de McNeel Plantation at Pleasant Grove in dem days. It wah Greenville's McNeel's brother. His sister Nancy marry Dave Randon . When my marster and wife separate, de wife took part of de slaves and my marster de rest and we come down heah. My marster wah Dave Randon . I had five brother and sister. I jus' remember. 'Cinto's step-pappy try to cross de ribber on a log in high water, and a ole alligator swaller him right up. My marster and his missy wah moughty good to us moughty good. We uster weah good clo'es real purty clo'es mos' as good as dat Houston cloth you-all wearin'. And sho' nuff, I had some purty red russet shoes. When we-all wah real good, our marster uster give us small money to buy wif. I spen' mos' of mine to buy clo'es. We uster go barefoot an' only when I go to church an' dances I wo' mah shoes. We sho had some good dances in my young days when I wah spry. We uster cut all kind o' steps. Dey wah de cotillion, de waltz and de shotty (schottische) and de rest o' de dances of dat time. Dat shotty sho a pretty dance an' such a good dance. My preacher uster whup me did he hear I go to dances and he would put me out from de church, too. I wah a good dancer a right smart dancin' gal. I sho dance a might fo' de white folks. I wah little an' sprite and all dem young bucks want to dance wif me. Cinto don' know how to do no step, but he could sho nuff fiddle. He play fo' all de dancin'. We uster sing all dem ol' songs and I sho wah a good singer. We uster sing 'Colorado'. I think it wah name after dat ol' ribber which go right off in dat direction. Dat 'Colorado' wah one of de ol' songs but I done forgit how it go. Den dey wah a ol' song which come back to me: 'High-heel shoes an' Cal'co Stockings'. It go somethin' like dis: 'Fare you well Miss Nancy Hawkins , High-heel shoes and cal'co stockings.' I forgits de rest of dat song but it sho wah pretty.
I uster sing an' pray in church. De preacher wah a nigger slave. He tell us black folk dis: 'You-all has yo' souls to save and God to glorify.' He wah sho a good ol' preacher. When a slave die he bury him in some pretty grounds out in de woods. I can't sing now from de time I los' my teeth wif de Black John fever. When I git dat fever, my missy tole me not to drink a mite o' water 'ceptin' she tole me to. I git so hot I jus' can't stan' it and done drink a two-pint bucket of water. I wanted water so bad, and I drunk plenty of water an' my teeth drop right out. I sho wah sick. A black gal suppose to take keer of me, but she don' do nuffin fo' me. My missy sho good to me. Dey about twenty slaves dat belong to her but I stay in de big house all time. Our house have two big rooms an' a kitchen fo' de main part of de house. De boys an' men have rooms apart like little bitty houses on de outside. De slaves have quarters way back of de house, but I don' stay there much, I stay wif missy. I git up about four o'clock in de mornin' mos' times. When we don' have to green up, I git up 'bout sun-up to make coffee. I take coffee to my missy in her bed. When company dar, I git up real early an' do work for dem an' dey give me all kind of purty clo'es. uster whup me after I done tol' a lie. I would pinch sugar offen de frostin' on de cake an' if I say I don' steal dat sugar frostin' den I git whupped. Iffen I tell de truth, I git scolded real pert, but never git whupped often. She uster whup me wif a cattle whup made outen cow hide. I hear tell some niggers run away, but I wah sho too happy to run off. My marster slap me when I done wrong but I never git mad 'cause I knowed I had it comin' to me. Marster sho have to work to whup me in dem days, cause I wah young an' spry and jus' wiggle away from him. He mostly slap me and not use de cowhide. When ole man Greenville spank me, I would jump aroun'. After he jump me like dat, den I go away in de quarters an' cry, but I don' be mad or run away. Marster's chillen tease us when we play wif dem. When dey git real mean I jus' grab dem by de hair, an' I sure would get dem den. Dey would call us all kind o' names to tease us. 'Ole yaller punkin' an' sich. We jus' holler 'white punkin' right back at dem, den dey fro sticks and stones at us. We sho uster git mad an' have lots o' fights an' sich. When dey git good an' fightin' mad, I jus' grab dem by de hair, and den I had 'em. An' when dey bawl and squall loud I run and hide in de quarters.
My bigges' play day wah on Sunday. We-uns play 'Hide de Switch' and de one dat foun' it would be allow' to give de rest of us two licks wif it, but it didn't hurt much 'cause it wah all in good fun. We all uster play a game call 'Chillen' or 'Keepin' House.' Some would be de mamma and pappy and dey would play and give de chillen bread and milk for supper play-like. Iffen you play and try to scare somebody in slave days on our plantation, you-all jus' git whupped dat's all. We never wah afraid of no spooks, 'cause dey ain't no sich in dis world. When we die an' answer God's call and is put away, we is jus' dust lak in de beginnin' an' dey aint no spooks or ha'nts. One time I pass a graveyard after dark an' I ain't afraid of no ghosts meetin' me dar. I ain't afraid of nuffin' 'cause when we is all dead we is nuffin' mo' den jus' dust. I hear tell one time of a man goin' into de graveyard to play his fiddle, sayin' he wah not afraid of no ghosts, but he got scared of somethin' and went into spasms, an' he yell and holler and ever after dat day wah crazy lak a loon. Some of de slaves wo' charms 'roun dey neck, but none dat I know of ever wo' no rabbit foot. Dey wear lil' bags of assfeddity. Me, I got me three vaccination dat all I need. We uster git plenty to eat. We git greens and suet, fish fo'm de ribber, cawn meal and plenty of sugar. Dey wah a big back garden an' one o' de slaves tend to dat garden all time. I sho wish dem days wah back. Now I can't see to cook or sew and we don' have much to eat. I been wearin' dis heah dress for four year. No, I never did git to school since I have to work so hard. I did learn a little bit o' readin'. Some white folk bring a book you l'arn out of to de niggers one time, but I wah too busy and never git to see much of dat book. When de war days come, so'jers wah aroun' heah jus' as thick as dem weeds out by de do'. Confederate so'jers---no yanks wah in here parts. We uster have to give dem a ty (tithe) o' cawn when dey come near de mansion. We make clo'es fo' de so'jers, too. Miss Nancy cut de parts out and I sew dem up befo' dey sent away. We uster make bandages and light jackets too. Den dey wah heavy jackets leaded jackets wif shirts. Dey wo' unifawm coats wif lead in de skirts of de coat to hold dem down. De lead wah put up in de shape of a marble an' den we cut it out in long strips and hammer it down and put it in de bottom of de coat.
When de war wah upstates, de slaves raise sugar and some of dem work in de wood. 'Cinto work in de pine wood 'roun' Houston. Whar 'Cinto work dey have to tote de logs out on dey backs, but lots of dem planters had ox teams to do de heavy haulin'. My marster have a place whar de niggers make brick, too, and a sugar house fer bilin' down sugar. Dey sho wah a lot of battlin' 'roun here in wah days. Why, one of dem Yank gunboats come up de river one time and shell aroun' heah. Right heah. 'Cause I wah heah then, right in dese parts 'roun heah. Dem shells come whistlin' fru de trees an' lop a lot of de limbs right off. Dem trees right out dar. Dem sho wah scare-times. Dey shell de brick house an' de school house. When dey tole me I wah free, I tole dem I don' want to be free, but I went and stay wif my folks. I come down right here to live wif my mama after 'mancipation. She live right here on dis place. I uster git presents an' sech on de 'Nineteenth' but I don' git nuffin anymo'. Come 'Nineteenth' we-uns uster go down to de ribber and go fishin' mos'ly. We sho have de good time. We sot a table wif all kind of vittles right on de bank and have all kind of frolic. I uster lak to smoke dem weeds what you call? Mullen. Dat what dey call, when I wah a gal. I uster smoke dem in my pipe, but I never smoke aroun' de house. Marster never 'low dat, an' if I got cotched I would git a real whuppin'. I never did have one of dese tight cigarette lak you done give me jus' now. It sho pull hard, but sho mighty good.
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