Alabama: Lucindy Lawrence Jurdon Narrative
Letters & Narratives
From 1936 to 1938, the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) conducted interviews with more than 2,000 ex-slaves. These interviews are known collectively as the Slave Narrative Collection of the Federal Writers' Project of the WPA. The interviews were conducted with individuals from 17 states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. In the interviews, former slaves recall living and working conditions for themselves and their families.
The following primary source document provides valuable first-hand information to better understand slavery in Alabama.
Lee County, Alabama
After going through plowed ground and woods, I came in sight of Lucindy Jurdon's house, as I rounded the house, and when in the back yard I called Lucindy; three little children were playing and said, "Grand-ma here's a white lady wants to see you." When she came to the door, she said, "Lawdy, honey whut you want? And you see whut a fix you'se caught in." "That's alright Lucindy, I've come to talk to you a while and I heard you still had your old spinning wheel. I want to see it and then take your picture with it."
After finding the pieces for it, talking fast as she could all the time, and excited over having her picture taken. The daughter came in from the field and said, "I told you this lady was coming to see you and you did'nt believe me".
I sat in the hall and talked to her, it was very dirty and not much in the house either. The oldest grandson was sick, in the front room, with pneumonia they said. I don't see how any of them stay well at all.
Lucindy was born in Macon Georgia, on the 28th day, but she could not tell the month and in 1858.
The mother and father Emanual and Patsy Lawrence, came from La Fayette, Ga., Jasper County. She was older than Jennie and Philip.
Old Moster had 'bout three or four hundred acres in his plantation. Mr. Leroy Lawrence, he show wus good to us niggers too. His father wus Mr. Billy. Moster had four chillun.
Us lived in a two room log house wid er lean-to, ter hit. Dey wus well off in dem times and did't know it tho, show did have plenty er good victuals. Us had broiled meat, on hot rocks, roasted tatters, ash-cake and course on Sunday, us had ash-cake cooked in collared leaves and beef when dey killed, Moster would always give de colored folks some too.
Moster lived in a big six-room house, wid wide plank weatherboard. Us used outer the big garden and hit had pailings round it.
My mother was a fine weaver and did the work for both white and colled, this is her old spinning wheel and hit can still be used. I do some times now. Us made our own cloth and own stockings too.
Ef us tried to learn to read or write, dey would cut your forefingers off. Us lived forty miles frum de town and hit would take over two days to go to town, so de women folks had ter fix luches ev'y time dey went.
My grand-mother had sixteen chillun. When us courted us went to walk and hunted chestnuts and would string dem, and he would put dem'roun your neck, den you would smile.
On Saddy nights dey would have dances and dance all night, somebody would clapp, beat pans and blow quills or pick de strings. When us had cornshuckings, dey would pile all de corn up, ring round hit and shuck, and holler, "Boss Man, Boss Man, please give me my time, Boss Man, Boss Man for I'm most broke down."
One old sick man wus freed fore freedom and allowed to go where he wanted to, so he dug a room in de ground and put rafters inside, to help hold it up and hit slanted to de back to nothing.
Our folks staid on fer several years. I married at same place and had to jump over the broom and back.
Honey us show is in a bad fix now though and needs help mighty bad.
When reading the narratives, it is important to remember their context. Although some of the language used may be offensive to the modern reader, we have not edited or expurgated the texts in order that they remain an accurate reflection of the attitudes of their time and place.