Ancestor Narratives: George Washington “Wash” Anderson, Texas

A frail sick man, neatly clad in white pajamas lying patiently in a clean bed awaiting the end which does not seem far away. Although we protested against his talking, because of his weakness, he told a brief story of his life in a whisper, his breath very short and every word was spoken with great effort. His light skin and his features denote no characteristic of his race, has a bald head with a bit of gray hair around the crown and a slight growth of gray whiskers about his face, is medium in height and build. WASH ANDERSON, although born in Charleston, S.C., has spent practically all of his life in Texas [Handwritten Note: (Beaumont, Texas—]

“Mos’ folks call me Wash Anderson, but dey uster call me George. My whole name’ George Washington Anderson. I was bo’n in Charleston, Sou’f Ca’lina in 1855. Bill Anderson was my ol’ marster. Dey was two boy’ and two gal’ in his family. We all lef’ Charleston and come to Orange, Texas, befo’ freedom come. I was fo’ year’ ol’ when dey mek dat trip.”

“I don’ ‘member nuttin’ ’bout Charleston. You see where I was bo’n was ’bout two mile’ from de city. I went back one time in 1917, but I didn’ stay dere long.”

“My pa was Irvin’ Anderson and my mommer was name’ Eliza. Ol’ marster was pretty rough on his niggers. Dey[Pg 18] tell me he had my gran’daddy beat to death. Dey never did beat me.”

“Dey made de trip from Charleston ‘cross de country and settle’ in Duncan’s Wood’ down here in Orange county. Dey had a big plantation dere. I dunno if ol’ marster had money back in Charleston, but I t’ink he must have. He had ’bout 25 or 30 slaves on de place.”

“Ol’ man Anderson he had a big two-story house. It was buil’ out of logs but it was a big fine house. De slaves jis’ had little log huts. Dere warn’t no flo’s to ’em, nuthin’ but de groun’. Dem little huts jis’ had one room in ’em. Dey was one family to de house, ‘cep’n’ sometime dey put two or t’ree family’ to a house. Dey jis’ herd de slaves in dere like a bunch of pigs.”

“Dey uster raise cotton, and co’n, and sugar cane, and sich like, but dey didn’ uster raise no rice. Dey uster sen’ stuff to Terry on a railroad to sen’ it to market. Sometime dey hitch up dey teams and sen’ it to Orange and Beaumont in wagons. De ol’ marster he had a boat, too, and sometime he sen’ a boatload of his stuff to Beaumont.”

“My work was to drive de surrey for de family and look atter de hosses and de harness and sich. I jis’ have de bes’ hosses on de place to see atter.”[Pg 19]

“I saw lots of sojers durin’ de war. I see ’em marchin’ by, goin’ to Sabine Pass ’bout de time of dat battle.”

“Back in slavery time dey uster have a white preacher to come ‘roun’ and preach to de cullud folks. But I don’t ‘member much ’bout de songs what dey uster sing.”

“I play ‘roun’ right smart when I was little. Dey uster have lots of fun playin’ ‘hide and seek,’ and ‘hide de switch.’ We uster ride stick hosses and play ‘roun’ at all dem t’ings what chillun play at.”

“Dey had plenty of hosses and mules and cows on de ol’ plantation. I had to look atter some of de hosses, but dem what I hatter look atter was s’pose to be de bes’ hosses in de bunch. Like I say, I drive de surrey and dey allus have de bes’ hosses to pull dat surrey. Dey had a log stable. Dey kep’ de harness in dere, too. Eb’ryt’ing what de stock eat dey raise on de plantation, all de co’n and fodder and sich like.”

“Atter freedom come I went ‘roun’ doin’ dif’rent kind of work. I uster work on steamboats, and on de railroad and at sawmillin’. I was a sawyer for a long, long time. I work ‘roun’ in Lou’sana and Arkansas, and Oklahoma, as[Pg 20] well as in Texas. When I wasn’t doin’ dem kinds of work, I uster work ‘roun’ at anyt’ing what come to han’. I ‘member one time I was workin’ for de Burr Lumber Company at Fort Townsend up dere in Arkansas.”

“When I was ’bout 36 year’ ol’ I git marry. I been married twice. My fus’ wife was name’ Hannah and Reverend George Childress was de preacher dat marry us. He was a cullud preacher. Atter Hannah been dead some time I marry my secon’ wife. Her name was Tempie Perkins. Later on, us sep’rate. Us sep’rate on ‘count of money matters.”

“I b’longs to de Baptis’ Chu’ch. Sometime’ de preacher come ‘roun’ and see me. He was here a few days ago dis week.”