This page contains interviews with former slaves whose names were EVERETT or whose owners names were EVERETT. These interviews were excerpted from the Slave Interview database on Ancestry.com.
John Eubanks, Gary Indianas only negro Civil War survivor has lived to see the ninety-eighth anniversary of his birth and despite his advanced age, recalls with surprising clarity many interesting and sad events of his boyhood days when a slave on the EVERETT PLANTATION. He was born in Glasgow, Barron County, Kentucky, June 6, 1839, one of seven children of a chattel of the Everett family.The old man retains most of his faculties, but bears the mark of his extreme age in an obvious feebleness and failing sight and memory. He is physically large, says he once was a husky, weighing over two hundred pounds, bears no scars or deformities and despite the hardships and deprivations of his youth, presents a kindly and tolerant attitude."I remembah well, us young uns on the Everett plantation," he relates, "I worked since I can remembah, hoein', pickin' cotton and othah chohs 'round the fahm. We didden have much clothes, nevah no undahweah, no shoes, old ovahalls and a tattahed shirt, wintah and summah. Come de wintah, it be so cold mah feet weah plumb numb mos' o' de time and manya time - when we git a chance we druve the hogs from outin the bogs an' put ouah feet in the wahmed wet mud. They was cracked and the skin on the bottoms and in de toes weah cracked and bleedin' mos' o' time, wit bloody scabs but de summah healed them agin.""Does yohall remembah, Granpap," his daughter prompted, "Yoh mahstah - did he treat you mean?""No," his tolerant acceptance apparent in his answer, "it weah done thataway. Slaves weah whipt and punished and the younguns belonged to the mahstah to work foah him oh to sell.When I weah 'bout six yeahs old, Mahstah Everett give me to Tony Eubanks as a weddin' present when he married mahstah's daughtah Becky. Becky would'n let Tony whip her slaves who came from her fathah's plantation. 'They ah my prophty,' she say, 'an' you caint whip dem.' Tony whipt his othah slaves but not Becky's.""I remembah" he continued, "how they tied de slave 'round a post, wit hands tied togedder 'round the post, then a husky lash his back wid a snakeskin lash 'til hisn back were cut and bloodened, the blood spattered" gesticulating with his unusually large hands, "an' hisn back all cut up. Den they'd pouh salt watah on hem. Dat dry and hahden and stick to hem. He nevah take it off 'till it heal. Sometimes I see Marhstah Everett hang a slave tip-toe. He tie him up so he stan' tip-toe an' leave him thataway."I be twenty-one wehn wah broke out. Mahstah Eubanks say to me, 'Yohall don' need to run 'way ifn yohall want to jine up wid de ahmy.' He say, 'Deh would be a fine effin slaves run off. Yohall don' haf to run off, go right on and I do not pay dat fine.' He say, ''nlist in de ahmy but don' run off.' Now I walk thirty-five mile from Glasgow to Bowling Green to dis place - to de 'nlistin' place - from home fouh mile - to Glasgow - to Bowling green, thirty-five mile. On de road I meet up with two boys, so we go on. Dey run 'way from Kentucky, and we go together. Then some Bushwackers come down de road. We's scared and run to the woods and hid. As we run tru de woods, pretty soon we heerd chickens crowing. We fill ouah pockets wit stones. We goin'to kill chickens to eat. Pretty soon we heerd a man holler, "You come 'round outta der' - and I see a white man and come out. He say, 'What you all doin' heah?' I turn 'round and say, 'Well boys, come on boys.' an' the boys come out. The man
say, 'I'm Union Soldier. What yoh all doin' heah?' I say, 'We goin' to 'nlist in de ahmy.' He say, 'Dat's fine' and he say, 'come 'long' He say, 'git right on white man's side'- we go to station. Den he say, 'You go right down to de station and give yoh inforhmation. We keep on walkin'. Den we come to a white house wit stone steps in front so we go in. An' we got to 'nlistin' place and jine up wit de ahmy."Den we go trainin' in d' camp and we move on. Come to a little town ..... a little town. We come to Bolling Green.. den to Louiville. We come to a rivah ..... a rivah (painfully recalling) d' Mississippi."We weah 'nfantry and petty soon we gits in plenty fights, but not a scratch hit me. We chase dem cavalry. We run dem all night and next mohnin' d' captain he say, 'Dey done broke down.' When we rest, he say 'See dey don' trick you.' I say, 'We got all d' ahmy men togedder. We hold dem back 'til help come.'"We don' have no tents. Sleep on naked groun' in wet and cold and rain. Mos' d' time we's hungry but we win d' war and Mahstah Eubanks tell us we no moah hisn property, we's free now.'The old man can talk only in short sentences and his voice dies to a whisper and soon the strain became evident. He was tired. What he does remember is with surprising clearness especially small details, but with a helpless gesture, he dismisses names and locations. He remembers the exact date of his discharge, March 20, 1866, which his daughter verified by producing his discharge papers. He remembers the place, Vicksburg, the Company - K, and the Regiment, 180th. Dropping back once more to his childhood he spoke of on incident which his daughter says makes them all cry when he relates it, although they have heard it many times."Mahstah Everett whipt me onct and mothah she cried. Then Mahstah Everett say, 'Why yoh all cry? - Yoh cry I whip anothah of these young uns. She try to stop. He whipt 'nother. He say, 'Ifn yoh all don' stop, yoh be whipt too!' and mothah she trien to stop but teahs roll out, so Mahstah Everett whip her too."I wanted to visit mothah when I belong to Mahst' Eubanks, but Becky say, 'Yoh all best not see youh mothah, or yoh wan ' to go all de time' then explaining, 'she won' me to fohgit mothah, but I nevah could. When I am back from d' ahmy, I go home to mothah and say 'don' y' know me?' She say, 'He, I don' know you.' I say, 'Yoh don' know me?' She say, 'No, ah don' know yoh.' I say, I'se John.' Den she cry and say how ahd growd and she thought I'se daid dis long time. I done 'splain how the many fights I'se in wit no scratch and she bein' happy."Speaking of Abraham Lincoln's death, he remarked, "Sho now, ah remembah dat well. We all feelin' sad and all d' soldiers had wrenths on der guns."
Sam and Louise EVERETT, 86 and 90 years of age respectively, have weathered together some of the worst experiences of slavery, and as they look back over the years, can relate these experiences as clearly as if they had happened only yesterday.
Both were born near Norfolk, Virginia and sold as slaves several times on nearby plantations. It was on the plantation of "Big Jim" McClain that they met as slave-children and departed after Emancipation to live the lives of free people.
Sam was the son of Peter and Betsy Everett, field hands who spent long back-breaking hours in the cotton fields and came home at nightfall to cultivate their small garden. They lived in constant fear that their master would confiscate most of their vegetables; he so often did.
Louisa remembers little about her parents and thinks that she was sold at an early age to a separate master. Her name
as nearly as she could remember was Norfolk Virginia. Everyone called her "Nor." It was not until after she was freed and had sent her children to school that she changed her name to Louisa.
Sam and Norfolk spent part of their childhood on the plantation of "Big Jim" who was very cruel; often he would whip his slaves into insensibility for minor offences. He sometimes hung them up by their thumbs whenever they were caught attempting to escape-"er fer no reason atall."
On this plantation were more than 100 slaves who were mated indiscriminately and without any regard for family unions. If their master thought that a certain man and woman might have strong, healthy offspring, he forced them to have sexual relation, even though they were married to other slaves. If there seemed to be any slight reluctance on the part of either of the unfortunate ones "Big Jim" would make them consummate this relationship in his presence. He used the same procedure if he thought a certain couple was not producing children fast enough. He enjoyed these orgies very much and often entertained his friends in this manner; quite often he and his guests would engage in these debaucheries, choosing for themselves the prettiest of the young women. Sometimes they forced the unhappy husbands and lovers of their victims to look on.
Louisa and Sam were married in a very revolting manner. To quote the woman:
"Marce Jim called me and Sam ter him and ordered Sam to pull off his shirt- that was all the McClain niggers wore- and he said to me: Nor, 'do you think you can stand this big nigger?' He had that old bull whip flung acrost his shoulder, and Lawd, that man could hit so hard! So I jes said' yassur, I guess so,' and tried to hide my face so I couldn't see Sam's nakedness, but he made me look at him anyhow."
Well he told us what we must git busy and do in his presence, and we had to do it. After that we were considered man and wife. Me and Sam was a healthy pair and had fine, big babies, so I never had another man forced on me, thank God. Sam was kind to me and I learnt to love him."
Life on the McClain plantation was a steady grind of work from morning until night. Slaves had to rise in the dark of the morning at the ringing of the "Big House" bell. After eating a hasty breakfast of fried fat pork and corn pone, they worked in the fields until the bell rang again at noon; at which time they ate boiled vegetables, roasted sweet potatoes and black molasses. This food was cooked in iron pots which had legs attached to their bottoms in order to keep them from resting directly on the fire. These utensils were either hung over a fire or set atop a mound of hot coals. Biscuits were a luxury but whenever they had white bread it was cooked in another thick pan called a "spider."
This pan had a top which was covered with hot embers to insure the browning of the bread on top.
Slave women had no time for their children. These were cared for by an old woman who called them twice a day and fed them "pot likker" (vegetable broth) and skimmed milk. Each child was provided with a wooden ladle which he dipped into a wooden trough and fed himself. The older children fed those who were too young to hold a ladle.
So exacting was "Big Jim" that slaves were forced to work even when sick. Expectant mothers toiled in the fields until they felt their labor pains. It was not uncommon for babies to be born in the fields.
There was little time for play on his plantation. Even the very small children were assigned tasks. They hunted hen's eggs, gathered poke berries for dyeing, shelled corn and drove the cows home in the evening. Little girls knitted stockings.
There was no church on this plantation and itinerant ministers avoided
going there because of the owner's cruelty. Very seldom were the slaves
allowed to attend neighboring churches and still rarer were the opportunities
to hold meetings among themselves. Often when they were in the middle of
a song or prayer they would be forced to halt and run to the "Big House."
Woe to any slave who ignored
the ringing of the bell that summoned him to work and told him when he might "knock off" from his labors.
Louisa and Sam last heard the ringing of this bell in the fall of 1865. All the slaves gathered in front of the "Big House" to be told that they were free for the time being. They had heard whisperings of the War but did not understand the meaning of it all. Now "Big Jim" stood weeping on the piazza and cursing the fate that had been so cruel to him by robbing him of all his "niggers." He inquired if any wanted to remain until all the crops were harvested and when no one consented to do so, he flew into a rage; seizing his pistol, he began firing into the crowd of frightened Negroes. Some were killed outright and others were maimed for life. Finally he was prevailed upon to stop. He then attempted to take his own life. A few frightened slaves promised to remain with him another year; this placated him. It was necessary for Union soldiers to make another visit to the plantation before "Big Jim" would allow his former slaves to depart.
Sam and Louisa moved to Boston, Georgia where they sharecropped for several
years; they later bought a small farm when their two sons became old enough
to help. They continued to live on this homestead until a few years ago,
when their advancing ages made it necessary that they live with the children.
Both of the children had settled in Florida several years previous and
wanted their parents to come to them. They now live in Mulberry, Florida with the younger son. Both are pitifully infirm but can still remember the horrors they experienced under very cruel owners. It was with difficulty that they were prevailed upon to relate some of the gruesome details recorded here.