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, 1936–1938, 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 Paul. 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'. This memory implies, first, that Paul Cameron owned so many slaves that he couldn't possibly know them all on sight. Cameron's asking the slaves he met on the road whom they belonged to also implies that he had the right to ask that of any African American he might meet in the road. And the fact that, when slaves responded that they belonged to him, he allowed them to go on about their business implies that Cameron did not maintain incredibly strict control over the comings and goings of his slaves or personally oversee which slaves had permission to leave the plantation and which did not..
Here, Mr. Jordan implies that his father had a position of some authority on the plantation. Interestingly, Mr. Jordan refers to slaves as "dey" instead of "we" when he talks about the need to ask permission to leave the plantation. This could be because he was a child during slavery and so was not held to the same standards as older slaves, or it could be that his father's position set him and his family apart from the rest of the slave community in some ways..
Mr. Jordan never says, specifically, what his mother's role on the plantation was, but given that the Union soliders asked her where the silver and gold were, we might well assume that she was a house servant of some kind since it seems unlikely that they would have asked someone in the fields about the Camerons' valuables.. But Mr. Jordan doesn't say much about his mother's personality, but we get the sense here that she was not a meek woman. In the face of soldiers threatening to kill her, she didn't beg for mercy or break down — she told them to go on and kill her because she didn't know where the gold and silver were and wasn't going to lie about it and say that she did..
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 slaves.
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 parts. I ain' never been out of North Carolina eighteen months in my life. North Carolina is good enough for me."