Chatham Slave Narratives
Abstracted, Submitted and Copyrighted (2006-2011) by Melinda Mathis



"Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938 contains more than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery and 500 black-and-white photographs of former slaves. These narratives were collected in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and assembled and microfilmed in 1941 as the seventeen-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. This online collection is a joint presentation of the Manuscript and Prints and Photographs Divisions of the Library of Congress and includes more than 200 photographs from the Prints and Photographs Division that are now made available to the public for the first time. Born in Slavery was made possible by a major gift from the Citigroup Foundation." From: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/snhome.html


"The mission of the Library of Congress is to make its resources available and useful to Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations. The goal of the Library's National Digital Library Program is to offer broad public access to a wide range of historical and cultural documents as a contribution to education and lifelong learning.

The Library of Congress presents these documents as part of the record of the past. These primary historical documents reflect the attitudes, perspectives, and beliefs of different times. The Library of Congress does not endorse the views expressed in these collections, which may contain materials offensive to some readers. "


Note: There are probably a great many more of these narratives that were made by Chathamites, but these are the ones we have located to date. If you know of more, or find more, please let us know.


Crump, Adeline (nee Cotton)  73 years of age - Her husband was James Crump. Her mother was Marie Cotton (she belonged to Rich Faucett) and her father was Cotton. Her mother had 21 children, which included 5 sets of twins. Adeline was one of the twins, and her twin sister was Emaline (she died about 30 years ago and left 11 children when she died). The plantation they lived on was about six miles from Merry Oaks in Chatham County. When she was about 14, they moved to Merry Oaks. Adeline married when she was about 17 years old and she and her husband had four children. She lived all of her life in NC and moved to Raleigh many years ago. Her husband died about 17 years before the interview.

Crump, Charles  "of Cary, NC" - His father's name was Ridge, and his mother's name was Marthy. He had brothers, Stokes & Tucker, and sisters Lula & Liddy Ann (although there were more that were either sold off and/or died). He belonged to Davis Abernathy & his wife Miss Vick. He was born at Evan's Ferry in Lee or Chatham County, NC (this must be Avent's Ferry).

Durham, Tempie (nee Herndon)  of Durham, NC age 103 years - She married Exter Durham and they had 11 children together (only two of them were not born in to slavery). She belonged to George and Betsy (nee Snipes) Herndon. Her husband belonged to Snipes Durham who's plantation was in Orange Co., NC.

Faucette, Lindsey  Lindsey was born on the 16th of November in 1851, on the Occoneechee Plantation, which was owned by John Norwood and his wife Annie.

Griffeth, Dorcas  She is 80 years old at the time of her interview. She used to belong to Doctor Clark and his wife Winnie in Chatham County near Pittsboro. Her father was named Billy Dismith (he belonged to the Dismiths) and her mother was named Peggy Council (she belonged to the Councils). She had two brothers, both older than her - George was the oldest and then Jack. And she had four sisters :one was named Annie, one named Rosa, Annie, and Francis and myself Dorcas.{? Were there five girls or was Annie repeated twice?} She can read and write. After she was freed she went to school in Raleigh to the Washington School.

Hill, Kitty  She is 77 years old and was born in April, but does not know the exact date. She was born in Virginia, near Petersburg. A Jewish man by the name of Isaac Long came to Petersburg, bouth them and brought them to Chatham County, to a little country town named Pittsboro. Isaac Long ran a store and kept a boarding house. Her mother cooked. Her father was sent to Manassas Gap at the beginning of the war and she doesn't remember ever seeing him. Her mother was named Viney Jefferson, and her father was named Thomas Jefferson. THey went by the name Jefferson when they were sold and brought to NC. Her mother had one boy and three girls. The was named Robert, and the girls were Kate, Rosa & Kitty. She married Green Hill in Chatham County at Moncure about nine miles from Pittsboro. Her mother lived with them for a long time. After the World War they moved to Raleigh.

Lassiter, Jane  She is about 80 years old (somewhere in her seventies, but she doesn't exactly know her age). She and her mother belonged to the Councils. Dr. Kit Council (and his wife Caroline) lived on a plantation in the lower edge of Chatham County about three miles from new Hill. Her father belonged to the Lamberts and their plantation was near Pittsboro in Chatham County. Her father was named Macon Lambert, and his master was named "At Lambert" {typo? Art?} and his wife Beckie. Her grandfather was Phil Bell and belonged to the Bells in Chahtam County. Her grandmother Peggy belonged to the same family. She married Kit Lassiter in Chatham County and they had seven children, three boys and four girls. All but two of them are now deceased. The two girls living are Louie Finch (who's husband is deceased) and Venira McLean. Louie stays with her, cooks and supports her. Her daughter Venira lives across the street with her husband who had a stroke and can't work. She moved to Raleigh about 20 years ago, and her husband died there.

Raines, Rena  Her mother was named Vicey Rogers and her father was Bob Hunter. Her father belonged to the Hunters of Wake County and her mother belonged to John Rogers and his wife Ann. John Rogers as an old batchelor before he was married and he had about twelve slaves when he married Miss Ann Hunger. She owned one slave when she was married, which was given to her by her father. The plantation was between Apex and Holly Springs in Wake County, and she was born on the plantation. After the war they stayed with mr. Gray Jones. When she was a big gril the moved to Chatham County, where her father bout a place, paid for it, built a little house on it and lived until he died. She married in Chatham County and lived there until her husband died. They had four children, all of whom are deceased except for the one she lives with. After her husband's death she moved to Raleigh to live with her son.

Smith, Sarah Ann (nee Womble)  She was born January 22, 1858 to Martha and Green Womble, near Lockville, in Chatham County. Her father belonged to John Womble and her mother belonged to Capt. Elias Bryant. The had six children, and she was the next to the oldest. She lived with her mother on Capt. Bryant's plantation. After the war Capt. Bryant could not afford to hire them so they move to Mr. Womble's place. When she was thirteen she saw Henry Smith, who was renting a little farm near them. He was young and slim. Her parents wanted her to marry Billy Bunn, but he was "thirty-odd" and she didn't like him. She married Henry and she wasn't sorry for it. They had five children, and her husband has been deceased for fourteen years now.

Thomas, Elias  He is 84 years old and was born in Chatham County, in Feb 1853, on a plantation near Moncure. He was owned by Baxter Thomas his his wife Katie. He doesn't know his father's name, but his mother was named Phillis Thomas. He doesn't remember his mother though, she died when his was about four or five years old. When he was about 8 years old his master purchased the Boylan place, and he went to live there. It was much larger than the old plantation and harder to work. There was no blood relation between Boylan and Thomas, but Boylan lived on the plantation until he died (he had never married). He married Martha Sears when he was 23 years old in Raleigh. She died in 1912, and they had fourteen children together (five of whom are still living).