Historical Primary Source References–Slave Narratives / WPA

In reading slave narratives, free from Kindle, I found accounts that seem to be likely bigfoot encounters.  I offer a few below, verbatim.  These were written down about 1936 by government employees tasked to gather from former slaves their accounts of life in slavery.  juneteenth

I am SO sorry for the terrible, racist-sounding dialect some of these are written in.   I hope you can ignore that and glean the important facts and details from the stories.   You will also encounter terms like “darkie” and the letter-after-m word that we, today, will find offensive, but bear in mind the context and that this informs us about the times and culture in which former slaves lived. 

Really,  I am so, so sorry.  It’s just appalling.

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“I ‘magines I seed ghosties two, three times. I used to range round at nighttime. I rides through a old slavery field and de folks tell me, ‘Harry, you better be careful gwine ‘cross dat old field. They’s things dere what makes mules run ‘way. One night it am late and my mule run ‘way. I make my mind I go back and see what he run from and somethin’ am by de fence like de bear stand up straight. It stand dere ’bout fifteen minutes while I draws my best ‘pinion of it. I didn’t get any nearer dan to see it. A man down de road tell me de place am hanted and he dunno how many wagons and mules git pull by dat thing at dat place.

Work Projects Administration (2010-02-16). Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves Texas Narratives, Part 1 (Kindle Locations 667-671). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.

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“Marse Glenn had 64 slaves. On Sat’day night, de darkies would have a little fun on de side. A way off from de big house, down in de pastur’ dar wuz about de bigges’ gully what I is ebber seed. Dat wuz de place whar us collected mos’ ev’ry Sa’day night fer our lil’ mite o’ fun frum de white folks hearin’. Sometime it wuz so dark dat you could not see de fingers on yo’ han’ when you would raise it fo’ your face.

Dem wuz sho’ schreechy nights; de schreechiest what I is ever witnessed, in all o’ my born natu’al days. Den of cose, dar wuz de moonlight nights when a darky could see; den he see too much. De pastur’ wuz big and de trees made dark spots in it on de brightest nights. All kind o’ varmints tuck and hollered at ye as ye being gwine along to reach dat gully. Cose us would go in droves sometime, and den us would go alone to de gully sometime. When us started together, look like us would git parted ‘fo we reach de gully all together. One of us see som’tin and take to runnin’. Maybe de other darkies in de drove, de wouldn’t see nothin’ jes den. Dats zactly how it is wid de spirits. De mout (might) sho de’self to you and not to me. De acts raal queer all de way round. Dey can take a notion to scare de daylights outtin you when you is wid a gang; or dey kin scare de whole gang; den, on de other hand, dey kin sho de’self off to jes two or three. It ain’t never no knowin’ as to how and when dem things is gwine to come in your path right fo your very eyes; specially when you is partakin’ in some raal dark secret whar you is planned to act raal sof’ and quiet like all de way through.

“Dem things bees light on dark nights; de shines de’self jes like dese ‘lectric lights does out dar in dat street ever’ night, ‘cept dey is a scaird waary light dat dey shines wid. On light nights, I is seed dem look, furs dark like a tree shad’er; den dey gits raal scairy white. T’aint no use fer white folks to low dat it ain’t no haints, an’ grievements dat follows ye all around, kaise I is done had to many ‘spriences wid dem.

United States. Work Projects Administration (2011-03-24). Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves South Carolina Narratives, Part 1 (Kindle Locations 123-137).  . Kindle Edition.

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“I can remember one time when I was young, I saw something I couldn’t ‘magine what it was, like a billygoat reared up on a tree. But I knew the’ wasn’t a billygoat round there near, nor no other kinds of goats. It was in the daytime and I was out in a horse pasture, I was jes’ walkin’ along, huntin’, when I saw that sight. I guess I got within 50 steps of it, then I turned around and got away. I never did think much about a ghost, but I think it could be possible.

Work Projects Administration (2010-02-16). Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves Texas Narratives, Part 1 (Kindle Locations 1369-1372). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.

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“I never saw a ghost,” he said, “unless it was one night when we boys was out with our dogs ‘possum hunting. The dogs treed a possum in a little scrubby tree. I was always a good climber; so I went up the tree to shake the ‘possum out. I shook and shook but the ‘possum would not fall out of the tree. I shook so hard that my hat fell off and I told the niggers not to let the dogs tear my hat. That was no skunk in the tree, ’cause we couldn’t smell anything, but when I looked again at the ‘possum, or whatever it was, it got bigger and bigger. I scrambled down the tree right away, nearly falling out of it, but I wanted to get away. The dogs acted kinda scared; yet they would run up to the tree and bark. One old dog I had did not bark, he just hollered. We left the thing in the tree. I don’t know what it was, but it warn’t no ‘possum, for I’d shook it out of the tree if it had been.”

United States. Work Projects Administration (2011-03-24). Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves South Carolina Narratives, Part 1 (Kindle Locations 3802-3809).  . Kindle Edition.

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“I have seen dem things peoples say is a ghost when I was stayin here to Lake View. I plant a garden side de road en one night I hear somethin en I look out en dere was a great big black thing in me garden dat was makin right for de house. I call me wife en tell her to look yonder. De thing was comin right to de house en my wife hurry en light up de lamp. I hear de peoples say if you didn’ light up de lamp when you see a spirit, dat it would sho come in en run you out. I had done paid some money on de place but after I see dat thing, I didn’ have no mind to want it. Had de best garden en chickens dere I ever had, but I never bother no worry bout dat. Just pick right up en leave dere to come here en I been here ever since. I knows dat been somethin come dere to scare me out dat house. Dat ain’ been nothin else but a spirit. Ain’ been nothin else.”

United States. Work Projects Administration (2011-03-24). Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves South Carolina Narratives, Part 1 (Kindle Locations 2976-2982).  . Kindle Edition.

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