Gender: Male Age: 80 Location: He passed the way he wanted to, in his sleep
|Introduction: How did a black girl come to be the care takers of the five orphan girls|
There should be a genre of Historical Fiction. This story explains why my great grandparents had a black slave.
The lieutenant had been greeted at the door by a large black woman and asked to wait in the reception room when he had asked to see Mr. Sims.
“George Claiborne Sims is the name,” the well dressed man announced himself as he entered his own reception room.
“Lieutenant Henry Justus. You are the one I was looking for,” said the lieutenant in the US Army uniform.
“And what can I do for you lieutenant?” George asked.
“Well Mr. Sims, my troop has captured a couple of niggers, Lisa and Jacob. They sez they's yours,” the lieutenant said.
“Praise God and thank you sir. I was sure Liza and Jacob was lost to me. Where are they?” George asked.
“They's at the Mud Run Stockade. Would a brought „em to you „cept I'm shorthanded and the big niggeress Liza, she's more than I wanted to handle without an armed guard and the boy is as big as a man and as you knows, the law forbids me from shacklin' „em but you as the owner can,” the lieutenant explained.
“Yes sir, I am well aware what them law makers are doing to make it more difficult for both you and me to do our business. Can I offer you a bourbon while I get my boy Josh to get us ready to go get them?” George asked.
“I thank you sir. The dust's taken up residence in my throat.”
As George poured the golden brown liquid from a decanter into a short glass he commented, “Sure has been a dry, dusty summer. I got out of the cotton business at the right time.” He handed the soldier his glass, asked the officer to have a seat, and then excused himself to tell Josh to harness a mule to the wagon, get two sets of shackles, and saddle his horse.
The lieutenant took a sip of his bourbon and sat in a comfortable looking chair. He looked about the large room. It was decorated as a sitting room. If he did not know better he would think he was on a plantation down south somewhere. Few city homes had sitting rooms that were so large and well appointed. His thoughts turned to the escaped slaves he had been pursuing. Most of the escaped slaves of city dwellers were house servants. They were usually easy to handle compared to the plantation slaves. These slaves of Mr. Sims were more like field hands. He continued to sip his bourbon as he wondered how much longer he was to be assigned to this service. He almost preferred frontier duty to this.
“My boy Josh will be a few minutes getting my horse saddled. May I refill your glass?” George asked as he returned.
The lieutenant looked at his glass and said, “Yes that would be good.”
George refilled the lieutenant's glass and then poured one for himself before he sat in a chair near the officer.
“May I, Mr. Sims, ask what business you are in?” asked Henry.
“Business…yes. Up until three years ago I had me a plantation in Alabama where cotton is king. Had inherited nearly a thousand acres and two dozen or so slaves. Seemed like too much work so I sold off all my property except seven nigeresses, their broods, and my boy Josh. Now I'm in breeder stock. Liza is one of my prize mammies. Think she ran away because I'm getting ready to sell her oldest boy, Jacob.”
“You'd sell her boy?” the lieutenant asked.
“He ain't the best stock, mulatto you know. I don't keep them. He is of age, twelve. My boy Josh is good stock. You'll see, he's a big coal black stud. He's fathered some good big boys…sold them for a couple thousand more than the average.”
“Let me get this right. You breed that big niggeress Liza to a big stud to get a big offspring,” the lieutenant stated.
“Just like breeding any animal. A big mare bred with a big stallion drops a big fowl,” George said.
“It's just that there is so much talk these days about these niggers being human and that it is not right to treat them as just animals,” the lieutenant said, trying to choose his words carefully so as not to offend Mr. Sims.
“Ah now you have hit upon the thing that is wrong these days. Those people who spread the falsity that niggers are anything but animals should be imprisoned right along with murders and thieves. But worse than those are the white bastards who fornicate with the niggeresses and produce mulattos. You see mulattos have half souls…that is an atrocity before God and they ain't good workers cause they think too much.”
The lieutenant realized he had opened a subject for which Mr. Sims was well prepared to argue. He was thankful that a tall white haired, white bearded black man entered to announce that the master's horse was ready.
Both men upended their glasses and as they went out to get on their horses George said, “That's my boy Josh,” as he indicated the elderly black who was now sitting on the seat of the wagon.
As they headed down the road the lieutenant asked, “He's a little long in the tooth ain't he?”
“Too old for labor but still a good breeder…keeps my stock popping out picininyes. Not a one of them goes more than three years without increasing my stable,” George said with pride.
“How big is you stable now?” the lieutenant asked.
“Thirty-nine head. Thirty-six pure and three mulattos that I will sell off as soon as the law allows. They make me keep them until they are twelve years old now. Used to be able to sell „em as soon as I could find a buyer.”
The lieutenant realized he had found the one he needed to ask to get an answer to the question that his friend Charles had asked. “Mr. Sims, I have a friend, he asked me to find out for him if he could buy for his wife a young nigger house servant, wanted a female?”
“Sure, just need to settle on a price. Got me a mulatto girl who'll be of age in a few weeks.”
“One problem though, he lives in Illinois,” the young officer added.
“No problem sir. He can purchase her here in Missouri and take her to a lawyer friend of mine, who will write up indenture papers for her so that when she is 18 her indenture is up and she will be a free black. Illinois respects indenture, and until she's 18 he can work her like a slave,” George answered.
“That jibes with what I heard,” the lieutenant commented.
“Yes sir, them abolitionist set that up so they can free the niggers but something else your friend should know, if before the nigger gets free of her indenture, she better not have any offspring, that can cause problems for him. He can be held responsible for the child's support until it's twelve.”
“I also heard that there was a way around freeing her when she turns 18,” Henry stated.
“Well, yes,” Mr. Sims said as he looked around as if making sure no one was listening, “If she don't have a child he can bring her back to me before she's 18 and sell her back, I'll give him more than he paid and I can sell her here in the South. Then if he wants another servant I'll have another young one for him.”
“Well Mr. Sims, seems you have this all worked out,” Henry said.
“I'm a businessman. I have to know how these new laws work or I'll be out of business,” George informed him.
“Yes sir, and another thing I've heard form you is a concern about mixed-blood,” Henry added.
“I consider fornication with a nigger by a white man the same as bestiality. If for instance a man fornicated with a cow, he could be hanged under Missouri law. It should be the same for niggers, but no. A few months back I caught a young white neighbor of mine who had
snuck in to my stable and was humpin' one of my niggeresses. Caught him, tied him up and sent for the constable. Damn constable said he could do nothing since there was no law to arrest him on, but he confided he could arrest me for imprisoning my neighbor. As he released the neighbor, he said that the next time I catch an intruder, I should shoot him. Law could not fault me for shooting an intruder. I told the neighbor to spread the word I was protectin' my niggers with a shot gun.”
“Seems like the threat of death is the only thing that will stop men like your neighbor,” the lieutenant said.
“Mind you, I got respect for life but the next time I catch a white fornicating with one of my stock, I'll kill him sure as hell,” George confirmed.
“No one can find fault in your trying to protect your stock.”
“It costs me money too. Every time I come up with a mulatto I lose a thousand dollars or more. Can't blame my niggeresses, they are made to take any dick that comes along when they is in heat. I've even had „em ask me to do it. That's the problem of having only one stud for a herd,” George explained.
“Do your niggeresses just go into heat when they need to be bred?” the lieutenant asked.
“That's another problem with the breed. Female niggers are insatiable. If they go more than a few days they'll hump anything with a dick. It's not their fault, they're born that way.”
“Does your stud ever get tire?”
“Sometimes Josh tells me he's tired but I make him do his duty to satisfied the niggeresses. That's the nature of the male nigger also, they are naturally lazy and if you let them get away with it they will neglect whatever work they are assigned to do.”
“I just had the thought that there are potentates among the Muslims who don't have harems as big as your boy Josh,” the lieutenant said with a smile.
“Hah, you talk of Muslims…they're just a bunch of mulattos. It says so right there in the Bible. Who was it? Abraham who had two sons, one by his wife and the other by her handmaid. The one by the handmaid was a mulatto. He's the one who started the Arab race.”
Continuing to smile the lieutenant said, “Mr. Sims, you speak like an authority on all this.”
“I make a point to know all about my business. If I was a horse breeder I would know all there is to know about horses. Sometimes I think I should have gone into horses…you don't have to wait 12 years to sell them.”
The men rode on in silence for a time. When they were in sight of the stockade, the lieutenant said, “I'll send my friend to see you. His name is Charles Godsford.”
“Tell him I've got a mulatto boy right now and I'll have a mulatto girl in three weeks. Mulattos make good house servants but lousy field hands but people who want house servants don't want to pay as much.”
“I'll tell Charles about you and your business. I'll go ahead and have your slaves brought out.” Lieutenant Henry Justus put his horse in a trot and by the time that Mr. Sims arrived at the stockade, four armed guards had brought Liza and Jacob to the forward receiving area.
George saw what he had feared. Liza had a reputation for tearing her clothing off when she was upset. The lieutenant was yelling about getting a blanket. “Lieutenant Justus,” George called, “Don't bother. If she wants to ride back naked we might as well let her, she's only a nigger any way.”
He heard Jacob call out, “Masta George is here mammy.”
Liza turned toward George and said, “Ah Masta George, come here and rescue me. They has stripped me down.”
“Josh, bring the shackles and let's get her shackled before she does someone harm,” George said.
Lieutenant Justus address Mr. Sims, “Not a one of our men has laid a hand on her. She did it to herself.”
As he approached Liza, George said, “I know sir. I expected this. Now Liza be a good girl.”
The big black slave said, “Masta George, Liza being a good girl.”
George had been deceived by her before. She had never struck out at him but poor Josh had once been stomped on by her. Josh was at this time saying something about making her feel good to try to calm her down. Two of the soldiers moved in close to her and George realized what was about to happen but before he could warn them, Liza had grabbed the rifle out of the hands of the soldier on her right and struck the soldier on her left, knocking him down. The one on her right reached to get his rifle back and was knocked to the ground with his own rifle. George shouted for her to stop as the other two soldiers leveled their rifles at her.
She turned to him and said, “Liza stop for Masta George. Liza don't want „em layin' han's on „er.”
“I know Liza. Now let Josh shackle you up so no one else gets hurt,” George said sternly.
“You do it Masta George „cause Josh might get hurt,” Liza said.
“You take care of Jacob,” George told Josh as he took a set of shackles from him. As he tightened the shackles on her he noted her
slight paunch. He patted her there and asked, “Are you carrying a youngin in there?”
“Think so, Masta George,” Liza said.
“Well let's get you home and get you fed. I expect you ain't et anything yet today,” George said as he led her to the wagon.
“Oh Masta George, they gives us some rice for tellin' „em we belonged to you,” she said as she stepped up into the wagon.
After attaching both her wrist and ankle shackles to the bed of the wagon Mr. Sims turned to thank Lieutenant Justus for his service.
“Just doing our job,” Henry said.
“Will your men be all right?” George asked.
“Yes, yes they will learn to be on guard after this.”
“Thank you again Lieutenant.” George mounted his horse and led the way back to his home. He reviewed all of the conversation he had had with Lieutenant Justus. He was sure he had convinced the lieutenant that he was not one of those breeders who sired his own slaves. Yes he would prefer that Josh was the sire of all the stable but the poor stud can't satisfy them all the time.
His mind turned to how he would punish Liza for running away. He would prefer not punishing her but if he did not she would run away again. The last time he had used the lash on her she had appeared to enjoy the pain and that was the time she had begged him to hump her. The only thing that stopped her from shouting for him to fuck her was to get Josh to hump her. Maybe he should punish Jacob in front of her and let her know that other of her children would be punished if she ever ran away again. He had used the punish the child method to get cooperation from other niggeresses and it had always worked,
George felt bad for Jacob. His back had opened up with the first swing of the lash. Mulattos were not only smaller and weaker, they were ternder. By the fifth stroke the blood was running all the way down past his ass. The boy was screaming like a white woman in labor. Liza, his mother was sobbing, begging George to stop, and promising never to run away again. The other niggeresses stood around wailing and repeating the words of the boy's mother. When Josh knelt beside Jacob and said, “Lash me Masta George, let Jacob go,” George decided to stop.
“Mary and Jamaica, the two of you take Jacob and wash his back. I want him to heal up quick. Josh and Liza come with me,” George commanded. The two young girls ran to the bleeding boy, released him from the bindings, and led him to the washroom. Josh rose and stepped to the side of Liza and grasped her by the wrist. The two of them followed their master to Liza's assigned stall.
It was dark in the stall and George could not see. “Josh, get a lantern.”
While waiting for Josh, George instructed Liza to go into her stall and lay on the straw filled mattress that lay in a far corner. Liza asked, “Masta George gonna fuck Liza?”
“No Liza, that's for Josh to do.”
“He getting' old,” Liza stated.
“He'll do all right.”
“Already carryin' Josh's baby,” Liza said.
“I know Liza,” George said.
“Then come fuck me Masta George,” Liza said from within her darkened stall.
“After Josh has worn you down,” George said as Josh arrived with a glowing lantern. George took the lantern, holding it high to inspect the stall. It was free of clutter. On one wall were hung several long dresses. A large wool blanket was folded like a pillow on the mattress. Liza lay on her back on the mattress. She still wore her leather sandals and nothing else. “You know what to do boy,” George said.
“Masta George, Josh a feared the bitch'll hurt him,” the black stud pled.
“If she does, Joseph will bleed again,” George said.
“No Masta George, Liza be good to Josh. Come on Josh don't fear Liza. Pound her good,” Liza said.
George Claiborne Sims thought, this is so much better than breading any other animal. He wondered if there were any white women who fucked like these niggeresses. He was sure that the whites were much more civilized about it. He wished he had time to pursue a relationship with a white woman; however, his responsibility to his niggers prevented any personal pursuits.
Josh's dick was not hard enough for him to get it in the niggeress. “What doin' Josh?” Liza aked.
“I's tryin' bitch.”
“You know how to make it hard,” George said.
“Yes Masta George,” both of the slaves said in unison.
Josh lay on his back on the mattress and Liza moved to where she could get the stud's penis in her mouth. George moved to where he could see. He thought, I should have had a chair moved in here so I could sit. It's been a long day. The stud's member hand grown hard so George said, “That's enough of that.” Liza lay back on the mattress and Josh mounted her. “Pound it to her boy,” George said. After a few moments he decided to leave the breeding couple alone while he went to get a shot of bourbon.
On the way back, George looked in the washroom to be sure the girls were doing what they had been instructed. An older niggeress was there with them holding Jacob's hand. The boy was lying on his stomach on a sitting bench and the girls were pouring water on his back. George went on to Liza stall. He heard Liza encouraging the stud to pound it to her. Josh's skin sparkled in the light of the lantern. That was proof that he had done a good job of working down Liza.
“That's enough boy. Go find Sissy. Tell her I told you to breed her.”
“Yes, Masta George, Josh do what you sez,” the big stud said as he stood and picked up his shirt and trousers from the floor.
“Tell Sissy to be good to you „cause I'm in no mood to have to lash another child,” George said as the aged black left the stall without putting on any clothes.
“Now Masta George fucks Liza?” she asked.
“Yes bitch, shut up,” George said angrily.
“Yes Masta George but make Liza hurt,” she said as she invited her fully clothed master into her arms.
As he enjoyed the pleasures of this big black woman he again as always wondered if white women were as enthusiastic. He was sure they were not. What these blacks did was too animalistic, downright inhuman but he loved it. He was sure he will have to answer for it when he met his maker but he had learned how not to make any more mulattos. That, in his mind, was the greatest sin of all.
A year ago George Claiborne Sims had been watching his funds gradually disappear. His slave breeding business was not making money. If he was to continue he would have to find another source of income. He had made contact with several businesses in the past year and now had a number of his slaves hired out. The River Grand Hotel employed four of his niggeresses as maids and six of his young slaves as other help. The income from this was now providing him with a comfortable income. It was easy to get the slaves to cooperate by buying them a few trinkets and treats and convincing them that he was spending most of what they earned on them.
Of course Liza was not one who he hired out since she was so volatile. George kept her busy around his home and also did not give her any of the jewelry or clothing that he would provide the other slaves.
“Masta George, why you not give Liza any jury?” she asked him while she was cleaning his office.
He looked up from his bookkeeping and said, “Liza, I told you that you cannot be trusted to work out of my sight.”
“You's right Masta George but I wants jury.”
“How many times have you run off in the last couple of years?” George asked.
“Don't know Masta George, maybe six.”
“I think that's about right. Tell you what Liza if you don't run off this next month I'll get you a ring and each month after that that you don't run away I'll get you another piece of jewelry,” he explained.
“Oh Masta George, Liza promise never a run again,” she said as she knelt at his side.
“If I don't have to worry about you running away again, I'll be happy,” George said with a smile.
“Liza wanna fuck,” she said from her kneeling position.
“Go find Josh. He's probably napping in his stall,” George said as he returned to his books.
“Josh's tired ol' nigger, Masta George. Whyn't masta fuck Liza?”
“I have work to do Liza. You go find Josh,” he said without looking up from his work.
“Masta George, Josh'll say he tired. He won't fuck Liza,” she whined with tear welling up in her eyes.
“Liza, you go tell Josh that he has to fuck you until you are satisfied or I will lash one of your younguns,” George insisted.
“Oh no Masta Geroge, don't lash a youngin. Liza go find Josh,” she said as she stood and left the room.
Damn nigger…they'd fuck all the time if I'd let them, George thought.
Only a few minutes passed before Josh came in with a naked Liza in toe. “Masta George, did you tell Liza to say I had to fuck her,” the big black white haired stud asked.
“Yes Josh. Now go do it,” George said firmly.
“Masta George, Josh spent las' night fuckin' Sheba like you said and this mornin' fuckin' Delilah like you said. Josh tired, Masta George.”
“I don't give a shit Josh. You go fuck Liza right now or I open the back of another one of her youngins.”
Their conversation was interrupted by the door knocker, “Go answer the door Josh. Liza, go to Josh's stall. I'll send Josh to you,” George commanded. Liza no sooner left through the back door before Josh showed a tall dark haired clean shaven man into the office and announced, “Mr. Godsford to see you Masta George.”
Rising from his chair, George said, “Thank you Josh. Go take care of Liza.”
“Yes Masta George,” Josh said as he exited through the back door of the room.
Reaching out to shake the hand of his visitor he announced, ““George Claiborne Sims, sir.”
Extending his hand for a firm handshake the new arrival announced, “Charles Godsford.”
Still holding his hand firmly, George asked, “What can I do for you Mr. Godsford?”
“Well sir, a friend of mine, Lieutenant Justus, said you were the one to ask about a young female slave,”
“Ah yes, Lieutenant Justus…a fine man. Please have a seat. May I offer you a bourbon?” George asked.
“That would be refreshing,” Charles said.
As he filled two short glasses, George said, “If I remember, the lieutenant said you were interested in a domestic servant.”
Taking the glass offered to him, Charles said, “That is correct sir.”
“Right now I have two mulattos ready for sale,” George offered as he sat behind his desk.
“Sir, I am not sure I know what a mulatto is.”
“Ah…a mulatto is a mixed blood…nigger/white mix. I've had some white bastards sneak in and breed my nigeresses. Ain't no law against it here in Missouri,” George said in explanation.
“Are mulattos any different than niggers, other than being mixed blood?” Charles asked.
“Let me be honest with you. It is my experience that mulattos are not able to work as hard as niggers but they make good house servants. I have a male and female mulatto, both 12-year-olds and trained as house servants.”
“My wife needs some help with the house and our children,” Charles said.
“Do you have a large family?” George asked.
“Not yet, we have two small girls and the wife is expectin' another child this fall.”
“The two I have are Jacob and Mary. Their mammies are sisters…don't know who their sirs are. Like I said they were white bastards,” George said. He knew that sometimes he said too much. He did not know if this man wanted to know the history of these two slaves.
“Wife says she needs a young girl to help with the house and kids,” Charles said,
“Mary is a good house keeper and she has helped with the youngins. I'd like to show her to you but she's off working at a job right now. She'll be home in an hour,” George said.
“I'll have to see her to close the deal but let's talk price.”
Talking price was what George was adept at. He started as he always did. “A pure blood nigger field hand can fetch more than $3,000 at auction and a pure blood mammy can fetch even more. Can't get as much for a mulatto. Angers me some times that I have to accept as little as I do. Cost me just as much to raise „em up.”
Charles had thought that he would offer as much as a thousand dollars but now he thought that might be an insult. “I don't know, I may be expecting too much. Maybe I'm not rich enough to own a slave.”
The sparing between the two continued for some time. In the process George took a liking to Charles and offered him the young Mary for only one thousand dollars.
“Well Mr. Sims, if she is all you say she is I will consider the price of a thousand if you cover the legal cost so I can legally take her back to Illinois as an indentured servant,” Charles offered.
Knowing that the legal fees would not cost him much George agreed to accept the thousand dollar offer. He then asked, “Would you like to close the deal today?”
“I want to see her first,” Charles insisted.
“Yes of course. We have time for another bourbon.” While continuing to talk George filled their glasses with bourbon. “Then we'll have a look at her and still have time to get the papers so you could take her with you today or you could come back for her tomorrow. Personally I would prefer to see you take her today. Quick good-byes are better otherwise her mammy will stay up all night with her.”
“I'll take a look at her first.”
“Another thing Mr. Godsford, let me caution you not to let her breed while she is under indenture or you will be stuck for support of the offspring.”
“Yes sir I have heard that,” Charles said.
“Another thing, any time afore she turns 18, if you want to bring her back, I'll give you a thousand dollars for her „cause I can sell her as a nigger slave here in the South,” George added.
“A lot of things can happen in six years. If this man Lincoln has his way, no telling what will happen,” Charles said.
“You don't want to get me talking about law makers. You know I refuse to vote…it just encourages them. Ha ha. That Lincoln guy is from your state of Illinois ain't he?”
“Yes and if I hear much more about him, I might just move here to Missouri.”
“If you do that you will have to change the papers „cause you can't have a nigger indentured here in Missouri,” George explained.
“Well that's a bridge I'll cross if I come to it,” Charles said.
A commotion with loud voices was heard and George said, “That's them. They always come in at this time.” Standing he moved toward the back door and added, “Be right back with Mary.”
Charles looked at the remnants of the brown liquid in his glass. Was it the bourbon talking when he agreed to the $1,000? That is more than he had paid for his farm. It had cost less than that to build his home, barn, and other outbuildings. This 12-year-old will be the most valuable piece of property that he owns. Louisa Anne, his wife, will ask him how hard he bargained for the price. He had not bargained very hard but he had held the whole cost to the maximum they had agreed upon.
When Mr. Sims returned a tall (taller than he had expected), slender, dark-skinned (not black) young woman followed him. Her healthy, radiant appearance was reassuring but the thing that drew Charles' attention was that her hair was close to her head in corn rows. Someone had spent much time doing her hair. There would be no one to do that for her in his house. She was dressed in a brightly colored long dress, the print of which contained all the colors of the rainbow.
“Mr. Godsford, this is Mary,” George said.
She smiled at him and then averted her eyes to the floor between them.
“Raise your skirt so he can see the strength of your legs,” George commanded. She raised the hem of her skirt to above the knees and Charles felt uncomfortable for other than his wife he had never seen a woman's legs above the knee and these were attractive slender legs.
“Turn around,” George said and after she had done so he said, “Come closer, Mr. Godsford, I want to show you her back.” Charles stood and moved to Georges' side. The dress that the girl wore buttoned up the back in the style of most slave women. George unbuttoned the dress and spread it open to reveal most of her back to them.
“You see she has no marks on her back. That is a sign that she has not had to be lashed for bad conduct. I am not one to spare the lash. Most of my slaves do bare marks of the lash but as you can see,” George said as he opened the dress to below her waist, “there are no marks even on her ass.”
“Yes, I see,” Charles said as he felt the discomfort of viewing this part of a woman.
“Is there anything else you would like to examine?” George asked as he continued to hold the dress open.
“No, no that will be enough,” Charles insisted as he closed her dress and proceeded to button it up.
“Let me assure you that she is still a virgin, no one has been allowed to use her as their play thing,” George said as he thought of his monthly inspection of the young females to be sure that none had been deflowered.
“Turn around Mary,” Charles said. When she was again facing him he put the tips of the fingers of his right hand under her chin and raised it to cause her to look up and him. “You are tall for your age,” he said. She barely nodded. “Would you like to be a handmaid for my wife and help care for my two small girls?” he asked.
She glanced to George who said, “You can answer him.”
“Yes sir,” she said.
“Go now Mary and tell Corrine that my guest and I will have early dinner here in my office and send Jacob to me,” George commanded.
“Yes Masta Geroge,” she said as she turned and left the room by the back door.
“You will have dinner with me?” George asked as he returned to his chair behind his desk.
“Thank you Mr. Sims,” Charles said as he again sat in the chair in which he had been earlier.
“Can I write up the papers for the sale?” George asked as he got back to business.
“Yes, if you will agree to take a draft on the Illinois Commercial Bank,” Charles stated.
“Of course, these days a bad bank draft for the sale of a slave is treated the same as if the slave had been stolen. That means I would get my slave back and your services for as much as two years. That's one place where the law is in my favor.” All the time he was talking he was quickly writing with a quill pen on a piece of light-brown stationary. When he finished by signing his signature he looked to Charles and asked, “Another bourbon?”
“Yes but first I must enquire about your privy.”
At that moment a young brown skinned boy entered through the back door. “Ah Jacob, I want you to take this document to Mr. Skinner and wait for the papers he will prepare for you to bring to me. On your way show Mr. Godsford to the privy,” George instructed the boy.
“Yes Masta George,” Jacob said as he took the paper from his master and turned to lead the way out the back door to the privy.
Charles followed behind the young slave as they exited the building and crossed a small courtyard to a collection of small building. “Masta Godard, this is the white's privy.”
George explained, “My cook should have our dinner here in just a few minutes and Joseph should be back with the papers from the lawyer before we are done eating.”
“What baggage will she be bringing with her?” Charles inquired.
“Baggage, oh,” George pondered for a moment and then continued, “She will have a wool blanket, an extra dress and an extra pair of leathers (that is shoes) and she has a few pieces of cheap jewelry. Her mammy will give her a large shawl as a remembrance. I would expect that she will keep that shawl over her shoulders at all times except to bathe.”
“Will she expect to write to her mammy?” Charles asked.
“No, none of my niggers can read nor write. Leanin' like that makes „em uppity. I advise you to not learn her anything more than the jobs you want her to do. I don't expect her to say anything about missin' her mammy or the rest of the stable but if she do then you tell her to think of the shawl and the new things you are showin' her.”
“I appreciate your advice. This being my first slave, is there anything else I should know?” Charles asked.
“Yes, I could spend all evening giving you advice. How far will you be traveling to get home?” George asked.
“It's only a three day trip by horseback,” Charles said.
“Oh, would it be convenient for you to stay here tonight and get started early in the morning?” George asked.
“I would not want to inconvenience you.”
“No inconvenience, the guest room is just sitting empty,” George said. “You're traveling by horseback…you got a horse for her or…”
Charles interrupted, “Oh, I have two riding horses and one pack horse. I do hope she rides.”
“Where is your second horse and pack horse?”
“At the livery, they will be all right there tonight. I'll pick them up in the morning.”
“I'd put her horse on a lead if I were you. She has had no experience with horses but knowing Mary as I do, she will do as you tell her. Don't ever ask her to do something, always tell her. If she thinks she has a choice, she will choose not to do something. Never treat her like you would a white girl. Even though she is only half nigger, she will not have the propriety of a white girl. When she gets the itch to breed, which will come on in the next two or three years, she will offer herself to every dick that comes along, even you. She can't help it, it's the nature of the nigger to have a need to breed.”
“I never realized the responsibility I was taking on,” Charles said with genuine feeling.
“There is another responsibility that you must take and that is to protect her from those who would steal her form you including the abolitionist. If you are confronted by them, tell them you purchased her to free her and you will educate her as one of you family. They will then treat you as one of their own. And never under any circumstances leave her alone with a white bastard who might fuck her for his pleasure.”
A large black woman entered carrying a tray of covered dishes. The men watched as she placed the dishes on the table at one end of the room. When she finished she turned to George and he said, “Corrine, have Rachel come in here.”
“Yes, Masta George,” the large slave said as she left through the back door.
“I've sent for Mary's mammy. Please take a seat at the table Mr. Godsford,” George said. The two men sat at the places where the plates had been placed. “Ah, ham hocks and beans, a good meal to seal a deal,” commented George.
“Yes indeed,” Charles said once he saw the quantity of food on his plate. As soon as he had tasted his first bite, Rachel, a tall heavily built black woman, arrived.
“Rachel, this is Mr. Godsford. He is a good man from Illinois. He is indenturing Mary. Do you know what that means?” George asked.
“No Masta George,” the woman said with a worried look on her face as she looked at Charles.
“It means that she will work for him and his family for six years and then she'll be free.”
Her expression suddenly changed to a smile and she asked, “She be free Masta George?”
“If she does what she is told. I want you to make sure she has a new woolly, two new leathers, two new dresses, and all her trinkets. You will also give her a remembrance shawl.”
“Yes Masta George,” she said excitedly.
“Go now and do as I said,” he commanded.
“Yes Masta George,” she said as she exited the room.
“I am curious, did they have to be taught to call you Master George?”
“Yes, that is another thing. You should decide whether you will have her call you Master Charles or Mr. Godsford. Since you will likely live among abolitionists I would suggest Mr. Godsford. They seem to take offence at the use of master,” George explained around bites of food.
“I see. I'll use Mr. Godsford,” Charles said.
“Impress upon your wife to do the same and never allow the use of familiarities such as mother, or ma'am, or her first name.”
Jacob returned with the papers from the lawyer. Telling Jacob to light the candles, George sat at his desk to read over the papers. When he had read them to make sure they were correct, he signed them and handed them to Charles to read. When Charles had finished reading them he also signed them and gave a bank draft to George.
The two men continued to talk long after finishing their meal. When the light of the sun turned to a rosy red, Jacob again entered and said, “Masta George, e'ery one's gonna celabbra' fo' Mary.”
“Good Jacob, tell Josh to come in here,” George said.
“Yes Masta George,” Jacob said as he turned and left.
In less than a minute the tall white haired, white bearded Josh came through the back door. Before he could even announce himself, George said, “Josh, I'm holdin' you responsible to be sure that none of my stable gets into the bourbon tonight. It'll be the lash for two youngins if anyone touches the bourbon.”
“Yes Masta George,” Josh said. He continued to stand facing George waiting to be told to go.
“Go now and heed what I said,” George said.
“Yes Masta George,” the big slave said as he turned and left.
“That's an impressive man,” Charles said.
“An impressive nigger…we never call „em men. He is my boy Josh. He breeds all my niggeresses,” George said.
Charles awoke with the first beam of the morning sun. The day before had been a hard one because they had spent at least twelve hours in the saddle. He was laying on his side and he felt behind him. There was Mary pressed up close behind him. She had said she had never slept out in the open and was afraid so he had allowed her to sleep at his back. It was hard for him to think of her as a slave. After all else, if her skin was not dark she was only a 12-year-old girl. And those corn rows were not found on white girls.
She had been of help in pitching camp and fixing the evening meal. All day she had looked tired and when he asked she had said she had not been able to sleep the night before because her mammy had cried over her all night long. He wished he could stop earlier and allow her to sleep but if they were going to spend only two nights on the trail they had to push on each day.
Without waking her he slipped out of his bedroll and stood up. He stretched to get the kinks out, slipped on his boots, and proceeded to start a fire to make some coffee. He had found that a good strong cup of
coffee in the morning was necessary on the trail. It did not take long to fill the air with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.
As he poured coffee into his tin cup he heard Mary say, “Masta should o' woke me.”
“Good morning Mary, would you like coffee?”
“Yes Masta Godsford,” she said as she rubbed her fists in her eyes.
“What did I tell you to call me?” he asked as he poured a second cup of coffee.
“Mary forgot Mr. Godsford,” she said as she adjusted her rumpled dress.
“Mary forgot Mr. Godsford,” she said as she adjusted her rumpled dress. She reached down, pulled her shawl out of her bedroll and carefully wrapped it over her shoulders.
He invited her to come sit beside him on a convenient log and drink her coffee.
She did and said, “Mr. Godsford too good to Mary.”
“You mean I should be bad to you?” he asked.
“No Mr. Godsford should not do for Mary. Mary should do for Mr. Godsford.”
“I know what you mean and you will have six long years of working for me. Actually you will not be my servant. You will serve my wife Louise but you will call her Mrs. Godsford.”
“Yes, Mr. Godsford.” She sipped her coffee and then whispered, “Mr. Godsford, Mary's gotta pee real bad.
He remembered what had happened when they first stopped last evening. She had said, “Mr. Godsford, Mary's gotta pee but there no privy.”
“Just go over there behind that bush, I won't look,” he said while trying to not sound amused.
“Oh no Masta a… Mr. Godsford. Mammy al'ays sez a stake'll git me if I pees outside.”
Now he was amused but he said, “Do you want me to check for snakes?”
“Yes Mr. Godsford and you watch so's no snake'll get me,” she pleaded.
“Oh Mary don't be silly.”
“Please Mr. Godsford. Mary's gotta pee real bad.”
He stood and walked to the bush. Picking up a piece of deadwood he poked around and announced, “No snakes here.”
Mary rushed to near where he stood, raised her dress above her waste, and squatted. The moment she raised her dress, Charles looked away.
He heard the gush of her urine and realized she had been holding it since the morning.
Now she was about to ask him to check on the snakes again. Sitting his coffee cup on the log, he did as he had done the evening before and she did as she had done.
Soon they were on the road again and each time he stopped to relieve himself he looked for snakes for her.
Before the sun went down on the third day of their trip he saw his farm house in the distance. Pointing out the house he said, “That is our home.” The house was not a large house but it was clearly a well kept home. Its white paint reflected the evening sun as it nestled on the side of a hill, the crown of which was topped by dense woods.
As their journey came to a close, Mary saw and heard the calls of two small girls who were on the covered porch of the house. “Those are Evangelina and Violina. They are six and three,” he informed her
At that point their mother came out of the house and shaded her eyes from the setting sun. When she was sure that the man was in fact her husband she waved to him. Her attention was drawn to the woman riding the second horse. He had said he was getting a 12-year-old but this woman looked like a grown woman.
“Poppa, poppa, poppa…,” the girls called until he had dismounted, handed the rains of his horse to Mary, and took the girls in his arms. They kissed his face that sported a three day stubble of black beard. “Poppa scratchy,” the little Violina said.
Evangelina's attention was drawn to the woman that stood between the two riding horse holding their rains. “What's her name poppa?” the girl whispered.
“Say hello to me, Eva,” he whispered back.
“Hello poppa. What's her name?” she said loud enough for all to hear.
The girls continued to chatter at him as he, with them still in his arms, stepped up on the porch and took his obviously pregnant wife in his already full arms. He kissed her chastely on the lips. “We have missed you Charles,” she said.
“I missed you too,” he said.
At last Charles gave in to the girls who were so curious about the black woman. Putting the girls down on their feet on the porch he descended the steps and took the rains from her and indicated she should step closer. “This is Mary, she has come to live with us and to help mother take care of you girls.”
“Mother doesn't need help,” Evangalina said.
“Welcome Mary,” Louisa said.
“Thank you Mrs. Godsford,” Mary said as she diverted he eyes downward.
“Come in out of the hot sun,” Louisa said as she invited Mary into her house. She had grown up around slaves and knew that they were not to be treated as equals but Mary looked tired from the trip. Charles watch as Mary now received all of the attention and the four went into the house. He led the three horses around the house and to the barn that sat a short distance away.
Inside the house Louisa and the girls were busy showing Mary around the house. Mary tried to take note of everything she was being shown because she did not know how Mrs. Godsford would be about answering questions. Her bladder was crying out and when Mary could hold back no more she said, “Mrs. Godsford, please Mary need a privy.”
“Oh dear girl yes, this way,” she said as she led her out the back door and pointed to the privy that stood about 20 feet away.
Mary stopped and asked, “Nigger privy?”
Not understanding what the girl was asking Louisa asked, “What?”
“Mrs. Godford is that your privy?”
“Yes dear,” Louisa said as she remembered the prohibition against blacks using white privies that had existed on her grandparents plantation in North Carolina.
“No nigger privy?” Mary asked.
“That's the only one. We all use it. You can use it too.”
Having been given permission, Mary rushed to the privy.
Charles had not yet added a room on to the house for Mary and although the girls wanted her to sleep in their room, no one else thought it appropriate for a nigger to sleep with white girls; therefore, Mary would sleep in the barn until her new room could be built. Louisa had prepared a mattress ticking and Mary stuffed it with straw. Lying on it with her woolly and shawl, she felt almost as if she were at home sleeping in a stall next to her mammy.
In the house Louisa was enjoying being held by her husband but she was sharing with him the unpleasant news that a neighbor had stopped by to tell them. “Looks like that Mr. Lincoln is going to bring war. He's said that South Carolina can't leave the Union and when he refused to evacuate some fort in Charleston Harbor the Carolinians fired on them. Mr. Lincoln declared that a state of war existed.”
“Damn…pardon me Lou but that Lincoln made me mad when he was in Illinois and now he has the power to declare war. It makes me mad enough to go down there and lend the Carolinians a hand.”
“But Charles, we have just got this farm going good.”
“Oh Lou don't worry. I was just saying what I feel. I'm no fighter. I'll not get into a fight unless I'm pushed into it.”
“You'll have a fight with me if you try to go off down south to get in a fight that we all hope turns into more words than guns. This last week with you gone I had so many worries. There are so many awful things happening these days. You know down in Kentucky a couple of abolitionists were hanged and in Indiana some abolitionists broke into a county jail to get a couple of escaped slaves out. I'm telling you it is happening all over and here we are with our own slave.”
“No Lou it is not as bad as it seems. In a way we are like abolitionists. The way the law looks at it we have purchased Mary's freedom. She owes us a debt and will work for us until she is 18. Then she will be free like the abolitionists want.”
“Oh Charles I hope it all works out. I just thought that I could use my inheritance in this way and having someone to help me with the house and children seemed right.”
“I'm sure it is right,” Charles reassured her as he felt sleep coming on.
“I wish her name was not Mary. My grandmother Wells name is Mary and if this is a girl I am carrying, I will have to name her Mary.”
Charles had fallen asleep and when Louisa realized their conversation was at an end she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.
The next day Charles went to the far field to work and Louisa decided that Mary should have a bath. It was Louisa's belief that everyone should have a bath at least once a month and Mary said that it had been longer than that since she had bathed last. Louisa had Mary place several buckets of water over a fire in the backyard fire pit. Louisa showed Mary where to place the copper bathing tub in the middle of the kitchen after the table was pushed to one side. After Mary filled the tub with hot water Louisa ushered the girls outside to play and made herself comfortable in a rocker on the back porch.
After what seemed like an excessive length of time Louisa asked Evangelina to go in and ask Mary if everything was all right. “But don't you stare at her and make her uncomfortable. I just want you to find out if everything is all right.”
“Yes momma,” Evangelina said. She was eager to get to know the new addition to the family.
In answer to Evangelina's question Mary said, “Mary's about done Miss Eva. Could you get me the towel over there. Don't wantta drip on the floor.”
Evangelina rushed the towel to her but held it back from her as she said, “You ain't clean.”
“Where Miss Eva?”
“All over. You are dirty like papa when he comes in from the field.”
Mary understood that Eva had never known nor seen a black person before. “Miss Eva, that's not dirt. It's the color of my skin. See it won't wash off,” Mary said as she scrubbed her right hand over her left forearm.
“Oh my, all of you is dirty brown. Oh my,” Eva said as she handed the towel to Mary. She remembered her mother's words about staring but she could not help herself. She never imagined there were people with different colored skin. She knew people called Indians redskins but she had thought that that was caused by their being out in the sun most of the time. Then she asked, “Did you get too much sun?”
“No Miss Eva I was borned this way.”
Within a few months, baby Mary Ellen was born. To be sure that there would be no confusion Louisa always called her third child Mary Ellen and insisted that everyone call her Mary Ellen. Remarkably Mary had been of great assistance. She seemed to know either by instinct of by experience just what was needed at any given time.
For Mary, as busy as she was, time seemed to fly. After another three years there was a fourth child, another girl named Rosalina. Louisa taught school lessons to the girls. Although Mary did not actually take part in these lessons she was exposed to it enough that she learned her numbers and how to add and subtract. She learned the alphabet and the rudiments of reading. Secretly she learned how to write her name—Mary Sims. She learned some history and listened intently to bible stories when they were read to the family on a daily basis.
The war had spread all along the borders of the Confederate States. Everyone who stopped by on the farm brought new news from the war. Now after three bloody years the war was not going well for the South; however, word was that if only the South had a little more money and a few more soldiers they could get the North to give up and let them go their own way. Louisa's own brother had gone south to Tennessee and enlisted in the Confederate Army. Charles brooded about doing the same.
Louisa was always quiet and calm but one day late in the year 1864 she was heard shouting. Mary came running, fearing someone had been injured. When he found Louisa a Charles, Louisa shouted, “You can't go! You can't go! You can't go!”
He did go against the wishes of his wife. In the midst of a winter storm he slipped through the lines and found a Confederate Army unit that gladly allowed him to enlist. Training was tiresome and by some quirk of fate his unit did not see action. They always seemed to be on their way to the war by marching first to the east and then back to the west. In April they were preparing defensive positions to repel an attack of Union forces in Virginia. Word spread that a cease fire had been called so the generals could talk. Every kind of rumor spread up and down the line. Finally when the truth came, no one would believe it but when they were ordered to stack their arms and fall into formation the truth was obvious to Charles. He thought of running for it but in the end he followed orders. Although they suffered some verbal abuse from the Union soldiers when the formality of the surrender took place, they received their first good meal in months.
Charles had acquired a cough that seemed to get worse as the weather warmed. He was sure that when he got back to Illinois he would be able to shake it. In his weakened condition it took him nearly two months to make his way home. One night while sleeping in a wood in Kentucky he was attacked by two men who thought he had something worth stealing. All they got for their trouble was a few stab wounds. Charles felt sorry for having to injury them to defend himself.
When he at last arrived home, Louisa was overjoyed but appalled by his emaciated appearance. Good food and rest seemed to revive him but he could not shake the cough. By harvest time he had recovered enough to harvest the corn and wheat that Louisa and Mary had planted in the spring.
Several of his neighbors spread the word that he had gone over to the South. Charles was told in no uncertain terms that he was not wanted in Little Salem, their closest village. Louisa with Mary by her side went into Little Salem for supplies just as she had done when Charles was off to the war and no one said anything unpleasant to them.
When Charles' health took a turn for the worst that winter Louisa sent Evangelina and Mary to fetch the doctor. The doctor came and diagnosed consumption (tuberculosis) which was incurable. It was a slow killer. He told Charles that if he took good care of himself he might live five or more years but he would gradually get weaker. He then surprised Charles by offering to buy his farm. His offer was an honestly
good one. He said there was no rush, “Talk it over with your wife, come spring I'll check with you.”
Louisa's brother had moved to Missouri when he returned from the war and so when spring came and the doctor made good on his offer the family moved to Missouri. Louisa was expecting another child but she seemed to get stronger each day while Charles grew weaker. They found a farm near Louisa's brother. Most of the people of Missouri had sympathized with the South and in fact they looked upon men like Charles as heroes for standing up for what they believed.
Their move to Missouri changed Mary's status. All former slaves and indentured servants were freed at the end of the war. Mary's indenture was void the moment they entered Missouri. When told that she was free, Mary could not understand how this happened. She asked if she could stay and care for, “Poor sick Mr. Godsford.”
“Of course Mary, if you want to stay with us you are free to do so,” Louisa said.
“I's free, thank God I is free to stay,” Mary said as she jumped up and down in celebration.
Following the birth of her fifth daughter, Anna, Louisa's health declined. She acquired the same cough that Charles had. Mary's job of caring for the family grew every day as the parents grew less capable of caring for themselves let alone the little girls.
Louisa brother came by and worked the farm that Charles had bought in Missouri but one day when the harvest was nearly complete he was badly injured. A doctor tried to care for him but an infection set in and he soon died.
This winter was the hardest that Mary had ever spent. She cared for the parents, trying to make them comfortable. The girls each had their chores which they did well. Mary tried to help Louisa continue the girls schooling. Mary tried not to think about what would happen if either of the parents died but what ever happened she wanted to stay with the girls.
In the spring both Charles and Louisa seemed to recover strength. With the help of Mary and the girls, they were able to plant corn and wheat enough that they would have a good crop come fall.
Mary turned 18 and although she now felt she had paid the debt she owed she could not begin to think of what she could do that was any better than continue to help this family who had treated her so well.
A nigger boy named Jimmy happened by and offered to work for food and a spot in the barn. Of all things that Charles could do he asked Mary to decide if the boy was doing enough work to stay. Within a week she decided all Jimmy was interested beside food was trying to get her to allow him to fuck her. He avoided work or did it poorly so she told him he had to go. He tried to appeal to Charles but Charles said that Mary had decided and that was final. This seemed to seal her love for this family.
During a cold winter ice storm that year, Charles' lungs hemorrhaged and he died. For three months following his death Louisa cried and coughed. She saw an early spring come that year before she died. A committee of men took the girls and Mary to the church after the burial. They informed the girls that a determination had to be made then and there as to where the children would be placed.
Mary stood and tried to address the group but the moment she began to speak she was shouted down and then told by the pastor who was conducting the meeting that she had no part in this since she was only a nigger. All she had wanted to say was that the girls should be kept together and she would volunteer her services to do that.
Evangelina then stood to address the men and although they let her speak about keeping the girls together she was immediately ignored when the next speaker proposed that only one girl would be placed with each of five families that had already volunteered to take them in. The decision had already been made and the only thing left to be decided was which girl would go where.
It was generally agreed that the larger number of children that a family had the older the adopted child should be. The girls realizing that they were to be split up and each placed in a different home began to sob and cry. Mary attempted to quiet them. The pastor asked Mary to take the girls outside to quiet them but to wait in the churchyard.
One of the girls said they should run but Mary said there was no way they could get away. There was no safe place where they could go. Several girls thought they should run but Mary continued to tell them that would not work.
One of the older men came out and told Evangelina to come with him and she refused. He told her she had to and she refused. He was about to forcibly take her with him when the rest of the men came out of the church and said they would all go to the Godsford home at that time. The girls rode in the Godsford wagon with Mary driving.
When they arrived at the house the pastor led the girls inside. Although not invited in Mary followed them. The other five men waited outside. The pastor asked the girls to sit and listen to him. He ask them to pray with him. His prayer asked the Lord to give them strength in this difficult time. He then explained that the families that had agreed to take care of each of the girls were a good families. He explained that they would all be living near each other and they would all see each other on Sunday at church.
Evangelina said they did not go to church. The pastor said they would now be good church members. He advised the girls to take those things that they considered their own. While the girls were deciding what each of them would take the pastor asked what things were hers. She told him she owned a remembrance shawl, a wool blanket, two dresses, two pair of shoes, some other clothing including undergarments, a winter coat, and a few pieces of jewelry which she was wearing.
He advised her to gather those things and leave the farm since the judge was expecting to auction the property the next day.
“But where I am I to go?” Mary asked.
“You are free to go anywhere you want but you cannot stay here.”
Four of the girls were adopted into the families that they were placed. The family that took in Mary Ellen for reasons of their own failed to adopt her and according to her they abused her before she ran away from the just before she was 18.
Mary Sims was found dead two years later on the river front dock in Kansas City, Missouri. Cause of death was not noted on her death certificate.
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