Aunt Harriet Miller Toccoa Georgia (Stephens County)
Aunt Harriet Miller, a chipper and spry Indian Halfbreed, thinks she is about 100 years old. It is remarkable that one so old should possess so much energy and animation. She is tall and spare, with wrinkled face, bright eyes, a kindly expression, and she wears her iron grey hair wound in a knob in the manner of a past generation. Aunt Harriet was neatly dressed as she had just returned from a trip to Cornelia to see some of har folks. She did not appear at all tired from the trip, and seemed glad to discuss the old days.
"My father," said Aunt Harriet, "was a Cherokee Indian named Green Norris, and my mother was a white woman named Betsy Richards. You see, I am mixed. My mother give me to Mr. George Naves when I was three years old. He lived in de mountains of South Carolina, just across de river. He didn't own his home. He was overseer for de Jarretts, old man Kennedy Jarrett. Honey, people was just like dey is now, some good and some bad. Mr. Naves was a good man. Dese here Jarretts was good to deir slaves but de-----------s was mean to deirs. My whitefolks tried to send me to school but de whitefolks wouldn't receive me in deir school on account of I was mixed, and dere warn't no colored school a t'all, nowhere. Some of de white ladies taught deir slaves. Yes'm, some of 'em did. New, Miss Sallie Jarrett, dat was Mrs. Bob Jarrett's daughter, used to teach 'em some.
"Slaves had half a day off on Saturday. Dey had frolics at night, quiltings, dances, corn-shuckings, and played de fiddle. Dey stayed in de quarters Sunday or went to church. Dey belonged to de same church wid de whitefolks. I belonged to Old Liberty Baptist Church. De back seats was what de slaves set. Dey belonged to de same church just like de whitefolks, but I wasn't with 'em much." As a child, Aunt Harriet associated with white people, and played with white children, but when she grew up, had to turn to negroes for companionship.
"If slaves stayed in deir places dey warn't never whipped or put in chains. When company come I knowed to get out doors. I went on to my work. I was treated all right. I don't remember getting but three whippings in my life. Old Mistis had brown sugar, a barrel of sugar setting in de dinin' room. She'd go off and she'd come back and ask me 'bout de sugar. She'd get after me 'bout it and I'd say I hadn't took it, and den when she turned my dress back and whipped me I couldn't hardly set down. She whipped me twice 'bout the sugar and den she let me alone. T'wasn't de sugar she whipped me 'bout, but she was trying to get me to tell de truth. Yes'm, dat was de best lesson dat ever I learned, to tell de truth, like David.
"I had a large fambly. Lets see, I had ten chillun, two of 'em dead, and I believes 'bout 40 grand-chillun. I could count 'em. Last time I was counting de great-grandchillun dere was 37 but some have come in since den. Maggie has 11 chillun. Maggie's husband is a farmer and dey lives near Eastonallee. Lizzie, her husband is dead and she lives wid a daughter in Chicago, has 5 chillun. Den Media has two.
Her husband, Hillary Campbell, works for de Govemint, in Washington. Lieutenant has six; he farms. Robert has six; Robert is a regular old farmer and Sunday School teacher. Davey has four, den Luther has seven, and dat leaves Jim, my baby boy. He railroads and I lives wid him. Jim is 37. He ain't got no chillun. My husband, Judge Miller, been dead 37 years. He's ouried at Tugalo. Dis old lady been swinging on a limb a long time and she going to swing off from here some time. I'm near about a hundred and I won't be here long, but when I go, I wants to go in peace wid everybody.
"I don't know. I'd be 'feard to say dere ain't nothing in voo-doo. Some puts a dime in de shoe to keep de voo-doo away, and some carries a buckeye in de pocket to keep off cramp and colic. Dey say a bone dey finds in de jawbone of a hog will make chillun tee the easy. When de slaves got sick, de whitefolks looked after 'em. De medicines for sickness was nearly all yerbs. Dey give boneset for colds, made tea out of it, and acheing joints. Butterrly root and slippery elm bark was to cool fever. Willow ashes is good for a corn, poke root for rheumatism, and a syrup made of mullein, honey, and alum for colds. Dey use barks from dogwood, wild cherry, and black haws, for one thing and another. I'll tell you what's good for pizen-oak, powdered alum and sweet cream. Beat it if it's lump alum, and put it in sweet cream, not milk, it has to be cream. Dere's lots of other remedies and things, but I'm getting so sap-skulled and I'm so old I can't remember. Yes'm, I've got mighty trifling 'bout my remembrance.
"Once some Indians camped on de river bottoms for three or four years, and we'd go cown; me, and Anne, and Genia, nearly every Saturday, to hear 'em preach. We couldn't understand it. Dey didn't have no racket or nothing like colored folks. Dey would sing, and it sounded all right. We couldn't understand it, but dey enjoyed it. Dey worked and had crops. Dey had ponies, pretty ponies. Notody never did bother 'em." Dey made baskets out of canes, de beautifulest baskets, and dey colored 'em wid dyes, natchel dyes.
"Indian woman wore long dresses and beads. Dair hair was plaited and hanging down de back, and deir babyes was tied on a blanket on de back. Mens wore just breeches and feathers in deir hats. I wish you could have seen 'em a cooking. Dey would take corn dough, and den dey'd boil birds, make sort of long, not round dumplings, and drop 'em in a pot of hot soup. We thought dat was terrible, putting dat in de pot wid de birds. Dey had blow-guns and dey'd slip around, and first thing dey'd blow, and down come a bird. Dey'd kill a squirrel and ketch fish wid deir blow guns. Dem guns was made out of canes 'bout eight feet long, burned out at de j'ints for de barrel. Dey put in a arrow what had thistles on one end to make it go through quick and de other end sharp.
"Yes honey, I believes in hants. I was going 'long,
at nine o'clock one night 'bout the Denham fill and I heard a chain a rattling 'long de cross-ties. I couldn't see a thing and dat chain just a rattling as plain as if it was on dis floor. Back, since the war, dere was a railroad gang working 'long by dis fill, and de coss, Captain Wing, whipped a convict. It killed him, and de boss throwed him in de fill. I couldn't see a thing, and dat chain was just rattling right agai' de fill where dat convict had been curied. I believes de Lord took keer of me dat night and I hope he keeps on doing so.
COMSULTANT: Aunt Harriet Miller