Albert, Octavia V. Rogers
|CHAPTER IX. -- JOHN AND LORENDO.|
Work to be done--John Goodwin and Lorendo, his wife --Uncle John's little brother washed away by the rain.
IF missionary preachers and teachers are needed in the heart of Africa they are needed in this Southland too, among these millions of lately emancipated souls. It is true we find in the cities and towns that the colored people have schools of some sort; but, leave the railroads twenty or thirty miles, and we behold the heathen at our doors. They are reared up in superstition, the same as before the war, in a great many places. They need well-educated ministers, for the blind cannot lead the blind. I am glad, however, to note that the Methodists, the Baptists, the Congregationalists, and the other denominations are doing very much toward the education of colored men for the Christian ministry. May God, who guided Israel, continue to direct the hearts of the philanthropic Christians every-where to
"Whatsoever thing thou doest
To the least of mine and lowest,
That thou doest unto me."
It is, indeed, a mystery to those who have witnessed the cruelty of the whites in the South toward the poor, ignorant, innocent, degraded, and helpless people whom God, in his own good time, has liberated. Here, with an open Bible, a Christian land of prosperity for the Caucasian; but, alas! what for the Negro? O, bishops and ministers of every Christian denomination in this Southland, how can you, as heralds of Jesus, sit quietly by and see the needs of seven millions or more of human souls crying in the valley of sin and sorrow and not give a listening ear to them? Go out into the highways and hedges and tell them of Jesus, mighty to save. Do you preach that Jesus tasted death for every man ? How strange that here in the South the Methodist Church and the Baptist Church seem ready and willing to send missionaries to other countries, and are not willing to extend a helping hand to these needy souls who have served
During my stay in the town of--where I met Charlotte Brooks, I met another slave who had formerly lived in the State of Georgia. He was a cooper by trade, and had a wife and three children. John Goodwin was his name. Here in the South it is considered by the black people a mark of respect to address the older men and women as "uncle" and "aunt;" and, as Mr. Goodwin was aged and gray, I, too, soon learned to address him as "Uncle John." So one day, as he passed by, I called to him and said:
"Uncle John, Aunt Charlotte tells me that you formerly lived in the State of Georgia. I came from there when I was young, and am therefore very glad to meet you. Wont you come around to see me some time and have a good talk about our native home?"
He said: "Yes, ma'am; I'd be mighty glad to come round and have a good long talk about my old home. It makes me glad to see any body from Georgia. I came out here to
Uncle John then bowed his head and said, "Good-morning, ma'am."
He promised that he would come in a few days and bring his wife, Lorendo, with him. Sure enough, in a few days in comes Uncle John and his wife. As he entered he said."
"Here's my wife, Mrs. A. She is a Creole woman; her name is Lorendo. I felt my other wife in Georgia when the white folks brought me out here."
What a great pity that husbands and wives should thus have been separated!
"That's the cry all over the South, Uncle John," I said.
"Yes, ma'am; I thought when I left wife and children in Georgia it would break my heart; but, bless the Lord, I'm still on pleading terms of mercy."
I said, "Did you find by moving to this State you fared any better?"
"No, ma'am; the white folks were bad
"Yes, I've learned they desecrated the Sabbath to a fearful extent; and even now, Uncle John, we see almost every body selling and buying on Sunday. I presume it is a habit that they have indulged so long that they hardly know-how to discontinue it. Even among the Protestant churches we find many who disregard the Sabbath in this State."
Aunt Lorendo said: "Why, ma'am, I never knowed nothing else but buying and selling all my life on Sunday. I was born right here in Louisiana, and the priest and every body else always got whatever they wanted on Sunday. I did not know it was wrong."
I asked Uncle John if he knew Aunt Charlotte Brooks.
He said: "Yes, ma'am; I been knowing Sister Charlotte for a long time. She is a good member of our church here. She suffers with rheumatism mighty bad."
"Yes, Uncle John; I've learned to love her since my stay here. She has spent many hours with me telling of her slave-life in this State. I don't think there are many women who have gone through the hardship that she has and endured it. She must have had an extraordinary constitution."
"Why, ma'am, Sister Charlotte just suffered like the most of us did. Sometimes you could find white people who treated we poor slaves right good; but it was not often. Why, in my young days I used to pick cotton all day and half of the night. My marster used to set a tree on fire for us to see how to pick cotton. I have picked as much as three and four hundred pounds of cotton in one day a many a time. I tell you, my old marster used to work us half to death trying to get rich."
In many portions of the State of Georgia there are high and rugged hills. Here we find low and marshy land, and it is therefore very unhealthy for weak and feeble persons, especially those who suffer with any throat or lung troubles. Uncle John related many thrilling accounts of his slave-life in the State of Georgia. He had a baby brother named Jim, and
Uncle John said: "I tell you, when my mammy got to her cabin she saw where little Jim had been in the cradle; but he was out and gone, she did not know where. Mammy saw where the rain had washed clear through her house, and she said she knowed the branch was not far from the house, and big gutters all the way between her house and the creek; so she went down toward the creek as fast as she could, and there she found little Jim being rolled over and over by the rain. Mammy said Jim was almost to the creek when she
Uncle John declared that the little baby boy who was picked up almost one fourth of a mile from her cabin that stormy day is now living in the State of Alabama. He is a local preacher there.
"My mammy had to work hard all day long with all the balance of the men. She was a mighty smart woman," said Uncle John. "After working all day in the cotton-field she would come home and work half of the night for herself and children. She used to wash, patch, spin, and cook for the next day to carry out in the field."