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Texas Slave Narrative

  William Adams

"I's born a slave. 93 years ago, so of course I 'members de war period. Like all de other slaves I has no chance for education. Three months am de total time I's spent going to school. I teached myself to read and write. I's anxious to larn to read so I could study and find out about many things. Dat, I has done. "There am lots of folks, and educated ones, too, what says we'uns believes in superstition. Well, its 'cause day don't understand. 'Member de Lawd. in some of His ways, can be mysterious. De Bible says so. There am some things de Lawd wants all folks to know, some things jus' de chosen few to know. and some things no one should know. Now, jus' 'cause yous don't know 'bout some of de Lawd's laws, 'taint superstition if some other person understands and believes in sich. "There is some born to sing, some born to preach, and some born to know de signs. There is some born under de power of de devil and have de power to put injury and misery on people, and some born under de power of de Lawd for to do good and overcome de evil power. Now, dat produces two forces, like fire and water. De evil forces starts de fire and I has de water force to put de fire out. "How I larnt sich? Well, I's done larn it. It come to me. When de Lawd gives sich power to a person, it jus' comes to 'em. It am 40 years ago now when I's fust fully realize' dat I has de power. However, I's allus int'rested in de workin's of de signs. When I's a little picceninny, my mammy and other folks used to talk about de signs. I hears dem talk about what happent to folks 'cause a spell was put on 'em. De old folks in dem days knows more about de signs dat de Lawd uses to reveal His laws dan de folks of today. It is also true of de cullud folks in Africa, dey native land. Some of de folks laughs at their beliefs and says it am superstition. but it am knowin' how de Lawd reveals His laws. "Now, let me tell yous of something I's seen. What am seen, can't be doubted. It happens when I's a young man and befo' I's realized' dat I's one dat am chosen for to show de power. A mule had cut his leg no bad dat him an bleedin' to death and dey couldn't stop it. An old cullud man live near there dat day turns to. He comes over and passes his hand over de cut. Befo' long de bleedin' stop and dat's de power of de Lawd workin' through dat nigger, dat's all it am. "I knows about a woman dat had lost her mind. De doctor say it was caused from a tumor in de head. Dey took an ex-ray picture, but dere's no tumor. Dey gives up and says its a peculiar case. Dat woman was took to one with de power of de good spirit and he say its a peculiar case for dem dat don't understand. Dis am a case of de evil spell. Two days after, de woman have her mind back. "Dey's lots of dose kind of cases de ordinary person never hear about. Yous hear of de case de doctors can't understand, nor will dey 'spend to treatment. Dat am 'cause of de evil spell dat am on de persons. "Bout special persons bein' chosen for to show de power, read yous Bible. It says in de book of Mark, third chapter, 'and He ordained twelve, dat dey should be with Him, dat He might send them forth to preach and to have de power to heal de sick and to cast out devils.' If it wasn't no evil in people, why does de Lawd say, 'cast out sich?' And in de fifth chapter of James, it further say, 'If any am sick, let him call de elders. Let dem pray over him. De prayers of faith shall save his.' There 'tis again. Faith, dat am what counts."When I tells dat I seen many persons given up to die, and den a man with de power comes and saves sich person, den its not for people to say it am superstition to believe in de power."Don't forgit de agents of de devil have de power of evil. Dey can put misery of every kind on people. Dey can make trouble with de work and with de business, with de fam'ly and with de health. So folks mus' be on de watch all de time. Folks has business trouble 'cause de evil power have control of 'em. Dey has de evil power cast out and save de business. There am a man in Waco dat come to see me 'bout dat. He say to me everything he try to do in de las' six months turned out wrong. It starts with him losin' his pocketbook with $50.00 in it. He buys a carload of hay and it catch fire and he los' all of it. He spends 200.00 advertisin' de three-day sale and it begin to rain, so he los' money. It sho' am de evil power."'Well,' he say, 'Dat am de way it go, so I comes to you.' "I says to him, 'Its de evil power dat have you control and we'uns shall cause it to be cast out.' Its done and he has no more trouble. "You wants to know if persons with de power for good can be successful in castin' out devils in all cases? Well, I answers dat, yes and no. Dey can in every case if de affected person have de faith. If de party not have enough faith, den it am a failure. "Wearin' de coin for protection 'gainst de evil power? Dat am simple. Lots of folks wears sich and dey uses mixtures dat am sprinkled in de house, and sich. Dat am a question of faith. If dey has de true faith in sich, it works. Otherwise, it won't. "Some folks won't think for a minute of goin' without lodestone or de salt and pepper mixture in de little sack, tied round dey neck. Some wears de silver coin tied round day neck. All sich am for to keep away de effect of de evil power. When one have de faith in sich and dey acc'dently lose de charm, dey sho' am miserable. "An old darky dat has faith in lodestone for de charm told me de 'sperience he has in Atlanta once. He carryin' de hoe and de fust thing he does am drop some brick on he foot. De next thing, he foot slip as him starts up de ladder and him and de bricks drap to de ground. It am lucky for him it wasn't far. Jus' a sprain ankle and de boss sends him home for de day. He am 'cited and gits on de street car and when de conductor call for de fare. Rufus reaches for he money but he los' it or fergits it at home. De conductor say he let him pay nex' time and asks where he live, Rufus tells him and he say. 'Any nigger, you is on de wrong car.' Dat cross Rufus to walk further with de lame foot den if he started walkin' in de fust place. He thinks there mus' be something wrong with he charm. and he look for it and it gone! Sho' 'nough, it am los'. He think. 'Here I site all day. and I won't make another move till I gits de lodestone. When de chillen comes from school I sends dem to de drugstore for sons of de stone and gits fixed.'"How, now, I's been waitin' for dat one 'bout de black cat crossin' de road, and, sho' 'nough, it come. Let me ask you one. How many people can yous find dat likes to have do black cat cross in front of 'em Dat's right, no one likes dat. Let dis old culled person inform yous dat it am sho' de bad luck sign. It is sign of bad luck ahead, so turn back. Stop what yous doin'. "I's tellin' yous of two of many cases of failure to took warnin' from do black cat. I knows a can call' Miller. His wife and him am takin' an auto ride and de black cat cross de road and he cussed a little and goes on. Den its not long till he turns de corner and his wife fells out of de car durin' de turn. When he goes back and picks her up she am dead. "Another fellow, call' Brown, was aridin' hossback and a black cat cross de path, but he drives on. Well, its not long till his hoss stumble and throw him off. De fall breaks his leg, so take a warnin' --- don't overlook de black cat. Dat am a warnin"

William Adams , 93, was born a slave with no opportunity for an education. With the exception of three months in a public school, he has taught himself to read and write. His lifelong ambition has been to become master of the supernatural powers which the negro mind believes to exist. He is now famous among the Southwestern negros for his knowledge of the purported occult sciences. His story:"Yous want to know an' talk about de powah de poeple tells yous I's have. Well, sat down heah. Right thar in dat chair. Befo' weuns staht, I's gits some ice wautah, an' den weuns can discuss de subject. I's wants to 'splain it cleahly, so yous can undahstan'."I's bo'n a slave, 93yeahs ago so of co'se, I's 'membahs de wah period. Lak all de udder slaves, I's have no chance fo' edumacation. Three months am de total time I's spent goin' to school. I's teached myself to read an' write. I'se was anxious to larn to read so I's could study an' find out about many things. Dat, I's have done."Thar am lots of folks, an' edumacated ones too, dat says weuns believes in superstition. Well, 'tis 'cause dey don' undahstan'. 'Membah dat de Lawd, in some of His ways, am mysterious. De Bible says so. Thar am some things de Lawd wants all folks to know, some things jus' de chosen few to know, an' some things no one should know. Now, jus' 'cause yous don' know 'bout some of de Lawd's laws, 'taint superstition if some udder person undahstan's an' believes in sich."Thar are some bo'n to sing, some bo'n to preach, an' also some bo'n to know de signs. Thar are some bo'n undah de powah of de devil an' have de powah to put injury an' misery on people, an' some bo'n undah de powah of de Lawd fo' to do good an' overcome come de evil powah. Now, dat p'oduces two fo'ces, lak fiah an' wautah. De evil fo'ces stahts de fiah, an' I's have de wautah fo'ce to put de fiah out."How I's larnt sich? Well, I's don' larn it. It come to me. W'en de Lawd gives sich powah to a person, it jus' comes to 'em. It am 40 yeahs ago now w'en I's fust, fully 'ealized dat I's have de powah. However, I's was always interested in de wo'kin's of de signs. W'en I's a little piccaninny, my mammy an' udder folks use to talk about de signs. I's heah dem talk about w'at happens to folks 'cause a spell was put on 'em. De ol' folks in dem days knows mo' 'bout de signs dat de Lawd uses to reveal His laws dan de folks of today. It am also true of de cullud folks in Africa, deys native lan'. Some of de folks laugh at thar beliefs an' says it am superstition but it am knowin' how de Lawd reveals His laws."Now, let me tell yous of something dat I's seen. W'at am seen, can't be doubted. It happened w'en I's a young man an' befo' I's 'ealized dat I's am de one dat am chosen fo' to show de powah. A mule had cut his leg so bad dat him am bleedin' to death. Dey couldn't stop de blood. Now, 'twas an ol' cullud person dat lived neah thar dat deys tu'ns to. Some of de folks laugh at dat person 'cause he claims to have de powah. He comes over an' passes his han' over de cut. 'Twarnt long den 'til de bleedin' stopped. 'Twas de powah of de Lawd wo'kin' through dat nigger, dat's all it am."I's know of a woman dat had los' her mind. De doctah says 'twas caused f'om a tumor in de head. Well, deys took an ex-ray picture, but 'twarnt no tumor. Den deys gives up an' says, "'tis a peculiar case". Dat woman was took to one wid de powah of de good spirit. He says, "'tis a peculiar case fo' dem dat don' undahstan'. Dis am a case of de evil spell". Two days aftah dat, de woman have her mind back."Deys lots of dese kind of cases de o'dinary person never heahs 'bout. Yous often heah of de case de doctahs can't undahstan', nor will dey 'spond to treatment. Dat am 'cause of de evil spell dat am on de persons Bout special persons bein' chosen fo' to show de powah, read yous Bible. It says in de book of Mark , third chaptah, "an He o'dained twleve, dat dey should be wid Him, dat He might send dem fo'th to preach an' to have de powah to heal de sick, an' to cast out devils". If 'twarnt any evil in people, w'y does de Lawd says, "cast out sich"."Now, in de fifth chaptah of James, it further says, "If any am sick, let him call de elders. Let dem pray over him. De prayahs of faith shall save him". Thar 'tis 'gain, faith. Dat am w'at counts.    "W'en I's tell dat I's seen many persons dat am given up to die, an' den a man wid de powah comes an' saves sich person, den its not fo' people to says it am superstition to believe in de powah."Don' fo'git. De agents of de devil have de powah of evil. Dey can put misery of every kind on people. Dey can make trouble wid de wo'k an' wid de business, wid de fam'ly an' wid de health. So, folks mus' be on de watch all de time. Thar are many cases whar folks have business trouble 'cause de evil powah have control of 'em. Den, deys have de evil powah cast out an' save de business. I's will mention one case of many dat I's knows of. Thar am a man in Waco dat come to see me 'bout business troubles. I's listen to his statement an' it sho am de evil powah."He says to me dat everything dat he tries to do in de las' six months has tu'ned out wrong. It stahts wid him losin' his pocketbook wid $50.00 in it. He buys a cahload of hay. It catches fiah an' he lost all of it. He spends $200.00 in advertising a three day sale. On de day de sale am to staht, it begin to rain, an' rained fo' a week, so he lost money."Well", he says, "Dat am de way it goes, so I's come to yous.""I's says to him, "'Tis de evil powah dat have yous control. Tharfo', weuns shall cause it to be cast out". 'Twas done, an' he had no mo' trouble."Yous want to know if persons wid de powah fo' good, can be successful in castin' out de devil in all cases. Well, I's answer dat, yes an' no. Dey can in every case if de affected persons have de faith. If de pahty does not have 'nough faith, den it am a failure. Yous 'membah dat de Bible says, "De prayahs of faith shall save him." "W'at about wearin' de coin fo' p'otection 'gainst de effect of de evil powah? Dat am simple. Its true dat lots of folks wears sich an' also, deys use de diffe'nt mixtures dat am sprinkled in de house, an' sich. Dat am a question of faith. If deys have de true faith in sich, it wo'ks. Udderwise, 'twont."Thar am some folks dat wont think fo' a minute of goin' widout lodestone or de salt an' peppah mixture in a little sack, tied 'roun' deys neck. Some wears a silver coin tied 'roun' deys neck. All sich am fo' to keep away de effect of de evil powah. W'en one have de faith in sich an' deys accidently lose de chahm, dey sho am mis'able.


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