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November at ibiblio - slavery and freedmen

Afro-Louisana History and Genealogy
user-friendly, searchable, online database
collage of Afro-Lousiana life

The Afro-Louisana History and Genealogy database is the product of years of research by historian Gwendolyn Midlo Hall. Aided by research assistants, Dr. Hall searched public records regarding the purchasing and freeing of slaves in Louisiana, as well as archives in France, Spain and Texas.

This database brought slaves who lived in Louisiana between 1719 and 1820 back to life, giving many concrete and interesting details about them: their names, ages, prices, family relationships, locations, who their masters were, their skills, illnesses, their testimony when they were recaptured after running away or conspiring and revolting against slavery, the ships they arrived on and where they came from, where they were born, and most unusual of all for a slave population in the United States, what their African ethnicities were and the language groups they spoke.

Aside from slaves, many people of all statuses and racial descriptions who lived in Louisiana before 1821 can be found instantly on this database.

Susie King Taylor
Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33d United States Colored Troops

Susie King Taylor

I was born under the slave law in Georgia, in 1848, and was brought up by my grandmother in Savannah. There were three of us with her, my younger sister and brother. My brother and I being the two eldest, we were sent to a friend of my grandmother, Mrs. Woodhouse, a widow, to learn to read and write.

She was a free woman and lived on Bay Lane, between Habersham and Price streets, about half a mile from my house. We went every day about nine o'clock, with our books wrapped in paper to prevent the police or white persons from seeing them. We went in, one at a time, through the gate, into the yard to the L kitchen, which was the schoolroom. She had twenty-five or thirty children whom she taught, assisted by her daughter, Mary Jane.

The neighbors would see us going in sometimes, but they supposed we were there learning trades, as it was the custom to give children a trade of some kind. After school we left the same way we entered, one by one, when we would go to a square, about a block from the school, and wait for each other. We would gather laurel leaves

from "North American Slave Narratives, Beginnings to 1920" collection of the Documenting the American South electronic archive

The Life and Adventures of Nat Love Better Known in the Cattle Country as "Deadwood Dick"
a True History of Slavery Days, Life on the Great Cattle Ranges and on the Plains of the "Wild and Woolly" West

Deadwood Dick with saddle & rope

It was a bright, clear fall day, October 4, 1876, that quite a large number of us boys started out over the range hunting strays which had been lost for some time. We had scattered over the range and I was riding along alone when all at once I heard the well known Indian war whoop and noticed not far away a large party of Indians making straight for me. They were all well mounted and they were in full war paint, which showed me that they were on the war path, and as I was alone and had no wish to be scalped by them I decided to run for it.

So I headed for Yellow Horse Canyon and gave my horse the rein, but as I had considerable objection to being chased by a lot of painted savages without some remonstrance, I turned in my saddle every once in a while and gave them a shot by way of greeting, and I had the satisfaction of seeing a painted brave tumble from his horse and go rolling in the dust every time my rifle spoke, and the Indians were by no means idle all this time, as their bullets were singing around me rather lively, one of them passing through my thigh, but it did not amount to much. Reaching Yellow Horse Canyon, I had about decided to stop and make a stand when one of their bullets caught me in the leg, passing clear through it and then through my horse, killing him. Quickly falling behind him I used his dead body for a breast work and stood the Indians off for a long time, as my aim wasso deadly and they had lost so many that they were careful to keep out of range.

But finally my ammunition gave out, and the Indians were quick to find this out, and they at once closed in on me, but I was by no means subdued, wounded as I was and almost out of my head, and I fought with my empty gun until finally overpowered. When I came to my senses I was in the Indians' camp.
from "North American Slave Narratives, Beginnings to 1920" collection of the Documenting the American South electronic archive

Recollections of Slavery Times
Recollections of Slavery Times, by Allen Parker; b. ca. 1835.

Chapter VI - Merry Making Christmas was the greatest holiday time that the slaves had; for coming as it did at a season when there was not as much to do as at other seasons, they were allowed some time to enjoy themselves[.] On many plantations the slaves were allowed to have a full week to themselves. The holiday season began with Christmas eve, when the slaves generally had some sort of a meeting. Some of the people, especially the young factor, would have a dance in one of the cabins of the plantation. One of the slaves would plan for a dance several weeks before the time and word would be sent, not only to the hands on the plantation, but also to the other plantations near by, and when the time came, quite a number would gather at the appointed time, which would be about eight o'clock as told by the eveniug star, for the slaves had no watches or clocks, and consequently were obliged to depend upon the sun, moon, and stars and other things in nature to tell the time, except of course, that the hours of labor and meal times were regulated by the watch or clock of the master.

from "North American Slave Narratives, Beginnings to 1920" collection of the Documenting the American South electronic archive

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