She put her pretty gold head on his shoulder, and …
by Lisa Y. Henderson
An Interview with Adora Rienshaw of 431 South Bloodworth Street, Raleigh.
I wuz borned at Beulah, down hyar whar Garner am now, an’ my parents wuz Cameron an’ Sally Perry. When I wuz a month old we moved ter Raleigh.
We wuz called ‘Ole Issues’, case we wuz mixed wid de whites. My pappy wuz borned free, case his mammy wuz a white ‘oman an’ his pappy wuz a coal-black nigger man. Hit happened in Mississippi, do’ I doan know her name ‘cept dat she wuz a Perry.
She wuz de wife of grandfather’s marster an’ dey said dat he wuz mean ter her. Grandfather wuz her coachman an’ he often seed her cry, an’ he’d talk ter her an’ try ter comfort her in her troubles, an’ dat’s de way dat she come ter fall in love wid him.
One day, he said, she axed him ter stop de carriage an’ come back dar an’ talk ter her. When he wuz back dar wid her she starts ter cry an’ she puts her purtty gold haid on his shoulder, an’ she tells him dat he am her only friend, an’ dat her husban’ won’t eben let her have a chile.
Hit goes on lak dis till her husban’ fin’s out dat she am gwine ter have de baby. Dey says dat he beats her awful an’ when pappy wuz borned he jist about went crazy. Anyhow pappy wuz bound out till he wuz twenty-one an’ den he wuz free, case no person wid ary a drap of white blood can be a slave.
When he wuz free he comed ter Raleigh an’ from de fust I can remember he wuz a blacksmith an’ his shop wuz on Wolcot’s Corner. Dar wuz jist three of us chilluns, Charlie, Narcissus, an’ me an’ dat wuz a onusual small family.
Before de war Judge Bantin’s wife teached us niggers on de sly, an’ atter de war wuz over de Yankees started Hayes’s school. I ain’t had so much schoolin’ but I teached de little ones fer seberal years.
De Southern soldiers burned de depot, which wuz between Cabarrus an’ Davie Streets den, an’ dat wuz ter keep de Yankees from gittin’ de supplies. Wheeler’s Cavalry wuz de meanest troops what wuz.
De Yankees ain’t got much in Raleigh, case de Confederates has done got it all an’ gone. Why fer a long time dar de way we got our salt wuz by boilin’ de dirt from de smoke house floor where de meat has hung an’ dripped.
I’m glad slavery is ober, eben do’ I ain’t neber been no slave. But I tell yo’ it’s bad ter be a ‘Ole Issue.’
In the 1860 census of Raleigh, Wake County: Cameron Perry, 48, blacksmith, wife Sarah, and children Adora, 7, Narcissa, 5, Charley, 3, plus Susan Cuffy, 70, and Henderson Duntson, 21; all mulatto except Susan, whose color designation was left blank.