Abner Jordan, interviewed by Daisy Whaley at his home in Durham County, North Carolina, WPA Slave Narrative Project, North Carolina Narratives, Volume 11 Part 2, Federal Writers' Project, United States Work Projects Administration (USWPA); Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. Accessed via Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936–1938Abner Jordan was just one of more than two thousand former slaves interviewed by the Federal Writers Project in the 1930s. Slave narratives also exist from the 1800s, when slaves who escaped to the North often published stories about their experiences to garner support for abolition. It would be interesting to compare this narrative to other similar sources., American Memory, Library of Congress.
Abner Jordan, Ex-slave, 95 years.
"I wus bawn about 1832 an' I wus bawn at Staggsville, Marse paul Cameron's place. I belonged to Marse PaulSince we know the name of the man who owned Mr. Jordan and his family, we have a unique opportunity to compare primary sources about slavery on a particular plantation from the perspectives of both the slaves and the slave owner. The Southern Historical Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill houses the records of the Cameron family, including slave lists, account books, diaries, and letters. Additional research comparing Mr. Jordan's narrative to the information about slavery in the Cameron family's writings would be interesting.. My pappy's name wus Obed an' my mammy wus Ella Jordan an' dey wus thirteen chillun on our family.
I wus de same age of Young Marse Benehan, I played wid him an' wus his body guard. Yes, suh, Where ever young Marse Benehan went I went too. I waited on him. Young Mrse Benny run away an' 'listed in de war, but Marse Paul done went an' brung him back kaze he wus too young to go and fight de Yankees.
Marse Paul had heap if niggahs; he had five thousan'Mr. Jordan lived on a plantation with a great many slaves. It might be interesting to see how his experiences compared to those of slaves who lived on plantations of similar size, and how they compare to the expeiences of slaves who lived on much smaller farms. Most slave owners had fewer than twenty slaves, and many had only one or two slaves — comparing primary sources from people who were slaves on big plantations to sources from those who lived with just a few other slaves might provide interesting insights into how the number of slaves made a difference in people's experiences. For example, how might efforts to control slaves have been different on a plantation with 1,000 slaves from those on a small farm with only four or five slaves? Why?. When he meet dem in de road he wouldn' know dem an' when he ased dem who dey wus an' who dey belonged to, dey' tell him dey belonged to Marse Paul Cameron an' den he would say dat wus all right for dem to go right on.
My pappy wus de blacksmith an' foreman for Marse PaulIt might be interesting to compare Mr. Jordan's account to the accounts of slaves who performed duties similar to those performed by his family — personal servants, house servants, artisans, and craftsmen — and to accounts of slaves who worked in the fields. It would be interesting to look for similarities and differences in these accounts and to try to determine how one's job or skills might have had an impact, positive or negative, on the experience of slavery., an' he blew de horn for de other niggahs to come in from de fiel' at night. Dey couldn' leave de plantation without Marse say dey could.
When de war come de Yankees come to de house an' axed my mammy whare de folks done hid de silver an' gol', an' dey say dey gwine to kill mammy if she didn' tell dem. But mammy say she didn' know whare dey put it, an' dey would jus' have to kill her for she didn' know an' wouldn' lie to keep dem from hurting her.
De sojers stole seven or eight of de ho'ses an' foun' de meat an' stole dat, but dey didn' burn none off de buildin's nor hurt any of us slavesIt might be interesting to see whether diaries or letters of any of the Union soliders who came to Stagville exist today. If not, letters of other Union soldiers in the South might provide some insight into what troops were looking for on plantations, how they felt about white southerners and slaves, and whether it was common to find and seize valuables, food, and horses during the war..
My pappy an' his family stayed wid Marse Paul five years after de surrender den we moved to Hillsboro an' I's always lived 'roun' dese partsReading other slave narratives might provide some insight into how common it was for former slaves to stay on the same plantation after emancipation. Other narratives might also provide further insight into why African Americans sometimes chose to remain and what they did after they left.. I ain' never been out of North Carolina eighteen months in my life. North Carolina is good enough for me."