the will of John Norton of Bourbon, KY died 1814.
oral history of William Emmons
Ohio Interviewee: Emmons, William
"Atter mother en I was sep'rated, I went to see her onct in a while. I had four sisters en three brothers but I nebber knew much bout em. One my brudders an' I went to de wah togedder."
"Dee plantation of Emmons was 1500 acres of good land. De house was big an' de jes' had ever thing. Dey was 'bout 15 slaves on de place, an' dey had sev'ral cabins wid three rooms an' big fire places five feet wide. We had straw mattresses fur our beds, an' a few chairs, but mos'ly stools an' benches."
"My white folks treated us good, considerin' whut some others had to tek. We nebber had no beatin's; dat was one thing my folks diden 'low. We wuzn't nebber paid fur our wuk, ner 'lowed to be foun' readin'. White folks said, "Dats one thing we woan 'low; larnin' fur dese darkies." Dey give us three pairs shoes a year, an' jeans en cotton clo'es. All de goods fur de clo'es was wove at home den. Mother was a weaver, an' she cud weave 12 quirks of yarn in no time."
"De darkie traders use to travel all over de country sometimes an' buy up slaves fum plantation owners who was mos' ready to go down in debt. I seen men chained togedder, an' 'oomans bein' carried in wagons wid dey babies. Jes' tekin' em to market fur sale lak cattle."
"We used de church de white folks used in Carlisle. It was a log church. De first preacher I member was Uncle Milliard. He used to have some de white chillun read de Bible fer him, an' den he'd try member whut he could, an' preach dat a way."
"We diden' wuk in de fiel's on Sunday, but de 'omans had to git de mails an' mek de beds jes' the same as any other day. Us men had to tend de stock, an' dat tuk mos' of de day an' lots of de evenin', kaze, de folks was allus a goin' mo' on Sunday. Ef dey was a death in de fam'ly we diden do no regular wuk in de fiel's.
"We was let go to shows when dey come to Carlisle. I member goin' to see Dan Rice's Circus dat use to come to Carlisle ever yeah."
"In one de battles I got shot in de lef' han', and' I tied it up my ownself. De captain he noticed it one day, an' he ax to see it. Den he sent me to de hospital. Dey t'ought dey'd have to tek my han' off, but I diden want em to dat. So dey kep' me in de hospital 'bout thirty days an' doctored it, an' fin'lly I was back in de lines fightin'."
"De day we was 'mancipated we was at Petersburg, Virginia, an' I nebber heerd ez much shoutin' an' hollerin' in my life. When de wah was ovah I went back to Emmonds plantation, an' dey ax me whut I'se goin' to do now I was free. I tole em, I was goin' to wuk, but dey tole me no free darkies cud stay on de plantation."
"I went to Mason County and hired to a Major Read. He was abolitionist, an' went 'bout de country tryin' to git de plantation owners to hire de free slaves an' he'p mek good citizens of 'em.
Major Read paid me $20.00 a month, an' board an' olo'es. I was able to save a good little sum, an' I left an' went up to Ripley."
"I married Sylvia Settles, an' we had one boy what died when he was jes' a baby. Den in a year or so Sylvia she died. I fin'lly met an' married Eliza Co'win, of Ripley, an' we had twelve chillun - two girls an' ten boys. All but one is daid. Guy, de one I mek my home wid, is de on'y one livin'. I have three gran'chillun an' two great gran'chillun."
"All de slaves wo'shipped Abra'am Lincoln; but dey so did hate ole Jeff David. I know lots of de Rebels who was s'posed to be strong fur de South hated Jeff David, an' wuzn't true to de South lak dey pu'tended. De fact was dey knowed slavery was wrong."
"I'se proud of my race, of Fred Douglas, an' of any of de folks of my race whut got to be great men. Why, little ez I seen an' know, I know more'n mos' of dem smart ones 'bout big colored folks - 'bout whut dey done, an' is doin' now, an' whut dey got."
"Atter de wah, de Klu Klux Klan burned homes an' stirred up lots of folks. Dey was a dirty lot of low down trash. But de gon'ment soon put a stop to dat."
"I'se glad chillun today had addication, better'n we had when we was comin' 'long. Slavery was sho' de worst thing I ever heard of, an' I nebber cud tell how some de slaves was treated, but it sho' was jes' awful. I'll be 93 nex' Monday May 10th, an' I ain't much 'count fur nothin' but jus' set roun'. All de res' of my sisters an' brothers is daid. De Lawd had be'n good to me, an' I'm sho' happy to be a livin', an' kin set here yit, an' tell 'bout whut I went t'rough."
Emmons is 93, small, bent and crippled by rheumatism and other infirmities
of old age. He is bald, has a heavy grey mustache, and walks with the
aid of a cane.