Ancestor Narratives: Andy Anderson, Texas

ANDY ANDERSON, 94, was born a slave of Jack Haley, who owned a plantation in Williamson Co., Texas. During the Civil War, Andy was sold to W.T. House, of Blanco County, who in less than a year sold Andy to his brother, John House. Andy now lives with his third wife and eight of his children at 301 Armour St., Fort Worth, Texas.

“My name am Andy J. Anderson, and I’s born on Massa Jack Haley’s plantation in Williamson County, Texas, and Massa Haley owned my folks and ’bout twelve other families of niggers. I’s born in 1843 and that makes me 94 year old and 18 year when de war starts. I’s had ‘speriences durin’ dat time.

“Massa Haley am kind to his cullud folks, and him am kind to everybody, and all de folks likes him. De other white folks called we’uns de petted niggers. There am ’bout 30 old and young niggers and ’bout 20 piccaninnies too little to work, and de nuss cares for dem while dey mammies works.

“I’s gwine ‘splain how it am managed on Massa Haley’s plantation. It am sort of like de small town, ’cause everything we uses am made right there. There am de shoemaker and he is de tanner and make de leather from de hides. Den massa has ’bout a thousand sheep and he gits de wool, and de niggers cards and spins and weaves it, and dat makes all de clothes. Den massa have cattle and sich purvide de milk and de butter and beef meat for eatin’. Den massa have de turkeys and chickens and de hawgs and de bees. With all that, us never was hongry.

“De plantation am planted in cotton, mostly, with de corn and de wheat a little, ’cause massa don’t need much of dem. He never sell nothin’ but de cotton.[Pg 15]

“De livin’ for de cullud folks am good. De quarters am built from logs like deys all in dem days. De floor am de dirt but we has de benches and what is made on de place. And we has de big fireplace for to cook and we has plenty to cook in dat fireplace, ’cause massa allus ‘lows plenty good rations, but he watch close for de wastin’ of de food.

“De war breaks and dat make de big change on de massas place. He jines de army and hires a man call’ Delbridge for overseer. After dat, de hell start to pop, ’cause de first thing Delbridge do is cut de rations. He weighs out de meat, three pound for de week, and he measure a peck of meal. And ‘twarn’t enough. He half starve us niggers and he want mo’ work and he start de whippin’s. I guesses he starts to edumacate ’em. I guess dat Delbridge go to hell when he died, but I don’t see how de debbil could stand him.

“We’uns am not use’ to sich and some runs off. When dey am cotched there am a whippin’ at de stake. But dat Delbridge, he sold me to Massa House, in Blanco County. I’s sho’ glad when I’s sold, but it am short gladness, ’cause here am another man what hell am too good for. He gives me de whippin’ and de scars am still on my arms and my back, too. I’ll carry dem to my grave. He sends me for firewood and when I gits it loaded, de wheel hits a stump and de team jerks and dat breaks de whippletree. So he ties me to de stake and every half hour for four hours, dey lays ta lashes on my back. For de first couple hours de pain am awful. I’s never forgot it. Den I’s stood so much pain I not feel so much and when dey takes me loose, I’s jus’ ’bout half dead. I lays in de bunk two days, gittin’ over dat whippin’, gittin’ over it in de body but not de heart. No, suh, I has dat in de heart till dis day.[Pg 16]

“After dat whippin’ I doesn’t have de heart to work for de massa. If I seed de cattle in de cornfield, I turns de back, ‘stead of chasin’ ’em out. I guess dat de reason de massa sold me to his brother, Massa John. And he am good like my first massa, he never whipped me.

“Den surrender am ‘nounced and massa tells us we’s free. When dat takes place, it am ’bout one hour by sun. I says to myself, ‘I won’t be here long.’ But I’s not realise what I’s in for till after I’s started, but I couldn’t turn back. For dat means de whippin’ or danger from de patter rollers. Dere I was and I kep’ on gwine. No nigger am sposed to be off de massa’s place without de pass, so I travels at night and hides durin’ de daylight. I stays in de bresh and gits water from de creeks, but not much to eat. Twice I’s sho’ dem patter rollers am passin’ while I’s hidin’.

“I’s 21 year old den, but it am de first time I’s gone any place, ‘cept to de neighbors, so I’s worried ’bout de right way to Massa Haley’s place. But de mornin’ of de third day I comes to he place and I’s so hongry and tired and scairt for fear Massa Haley not home from de army yit. So I finds my pappy and he hides me in he cabin till a week and den luck comes to me when Massa Haley come home. He come at night and de next mornin’ dat Delbridge am shunt off de place, ’cause Massa Haley seed he niggers was all gaunt and lots am ran off and de fields am not plowed right, and only half de sheep and everything left. So massa say to dat Delbridge, ‘Dere am no words can ‘splain what yous done. Git off my place ‘fore I smashes you.’

“Den I kin come out from my pappy’s cabin and de old massa was glad to see me, and he let me stay till freedom am ordered. Dat’s de happies’ time in my life, when I gits back to Massa Haley.[Pg 17]

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