Abner Jordan, interviewed by Daisy Whaley at his home in Durham County, North Carolina, WPA Slave Narrative ProjectHow do you think slave narratives were received by white Southerners in the 1930s? How would whites, especially those whose family members had owned slaves or been overseers, want to see slavery remembered? How might the recollections of former slaves threaten their version of the history of slavery? Do you think there could have been repercussions for a former slave who told a story about slavery that involved cruel masters, back-breaking labor, tragic separations of families, violence, and other atrocities? Do you think that Mr. Jordan's factual, non-emotional narrative is the product of his concerns about white reactions? How might his interview have been different if the interviewer had been African American? If the interview had been totally anonymous and he was convinced that local whites would never know the identity of the speaker?, 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 familyMr. Jordan was a boy or a young man when the Civil War began, so he either never experienced slavery as an adult or did so for only a very short time. Do you think his parents would have had a different perspective, having experienced slavery for a much longer period of time? Do you think they might have been more or less frank than Mr. Jordan about their experiences?.
I wus de same age of Young Marse Benehan, I played wid him an' wus his body guardThe Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has letters, diaries, and other papers from Bennehan Cameron and his parents. It might be interesting to read what, if anything, Bennehan and his family wrote about Abner Jordan. How do you think their view of Abner Jordan's relationship with Bennehan might have differed from Mr. Jordan's?. 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'. 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 onIt would be interesting to see if Paul Cameron ever wrote about his (or his overseers') policies regarding slaves' being away from the plantation. Reading his comments about these kinds of meetings in the road might allow us not only to verify Mr. Jordan's account, but also to get a sense of how Cameron viewed the slaves at Stagville and why he managed the plantation as he did..
My pappy wus de blacksmith an' foreman for Marse Paul, 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 herHow might Union soldiers have told this story differently? Jordan's mother? Paul Cameron?.
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 partsWhat range of reactions do you think Jordan's parents might have had after the war ended? What reasons might they have given for staying at the Camerons' plantation for five years? For staying in the area instead of moving outside the South? How might the Camerons have viewed the decisions of their former slaves differently?. I ain' never been out of North Carolina eighteen months in my life. North Carolina is good enough for me."