Slavery In Mason County

(5) Francis Fredric, Fifty Years of Slavery (1863)

From Welland we took boats to Maysville, Kentucky. My master had bought a farm in Mason County, about twenty miles from Maysville. When we arrived there we found a great deal of uncultivated land belonging to the farm. The first thing the negroes did was to clear the land of bush, and then to sow blue grass seed for the cattle to feed upon. They then fenced in the woods for what is called woodland pasture. The neighbouring planters came and showed my master how to manage his new estate. They told the slaves how to tap the sugar-tree to let the liquid out, and to boil it down so as to get the sugar from it. The slaves built a great many log-huts; for my master, at the next slave-market, intended to purchase more slaves.

7) Francis Fredric, Fifty Years of Slavery (1863)

Two slaves, who were perhaps not so completely cowed as the rest, said to my master, who was about to flog them, "No, massa, we not going to be flogged so much, we won't submit." "What is that you say?" my master said, starting back. They repeated, "We are not going to allow you to beat us as you have done." "How will you prevent it?" he said. "You'll see, you'll see, massa," speaking half threateningly. He was evidently afraid of them. When they went home at night he spoke mildly to them, and told them, "he only wanted them to do their work, that it would be better if they could get on in the fields without him. Don't hurry yourselves, my boys."

For two or three days he never went much among them, and when he did he spoke in a very quiet, subdued manner. But mounted negroes were sent with letters to all the plantations around. The slaves had been sent to a species of barn where they shell the Indian corn. Suddenly above a hundred slaveholders, armed with revolvers, marched from different points, and at one time, evidently agreed upon, surrounded the place where the negroes were. All the slaves were ordered out, and the two who had refused to be flogged were made to strip, and my master first had one tied up, and flogged him as hard as he could for some time, the poor slave calling out, "Oh, pray, massa! Oh, pray, massa!"

My master, pausing to take breath, one of the slaveholders said, "I would not flog him in that way, I would put him on a blacksmith's fire, and have the slaves to hold him until I blew the bellows to roast him alive." Then my master started again and flogged until the poor fellow was one mass of blood and raw flesh. The other was tied up and served in a similar manner, one of the slaveholders saying he ought to be tied to a tree and burnt alive. And now I would ask, How can an unarmed, an unorganized, degraded, cowed set of negroes prevent this treatment? The slaveholders can and do flog them to death, and nothing more is thought of it than of a dog being killed.

1 comment:

Rod Huber said...

In the mid 1960's my father bought a farm near Moranburg that he called the Foley Place from the name of the owner when he was a child, probably the early 1920's. On this farm ws a brick house allegedly dating from the 1840's that to me seemed peculiarly constructed. The original house had a kitchen, a large dining room and a large kitchen on the first floor with a nice stairway that led upstairs to only one bedroom. Two more upstairs bedrooms only had access from the outside off a double decked back porch. On the lower level of the porch ws a door leading down stone steps to two rooms with 12 foot ceilings in the basement. These rooms were defined by their loose rock walls. In the second room was a rectangular opening in the wall. This opening provided access to five more rooms with very low, like five foot, ceilings with slave chains attached to the rock walls. This would have been under the original kitchen and dining room. From the back corner of the last low ceiling room, under the basement was a tunnel or drain just large enough to craw through that went several hundred feet and eventually split to come out at the head of a small creek and then about a hundred yards or more down the creek

Do you or any of your readers have information on why this house would have been so constructed. Holding slaves under your kitchen and dining room would seem unusual to me as most the houses in the area from this time period had outside slave quarters, and the slaves might make noise which would be herd upstairs in the house.

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