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    CONTENTS.   Table of Contents     CHAPTER II.

Smith, Amanda
An autobiograpy



I was born at Long Green, Md., Jan. 23rd, 1837. My father's name was Samuel Berry. My mother's name, Mariam. Matthews was her maiden name. My father's master's name was Darby Insor. My mother's master's name, Shadrach Green. They lived on adjoining farms. They did not own as large a number of black people, as some who lived in the neighborhood. My father and mother had each a good master and mistress, as was said. After my father's master died, his young master, Mr. E., and himself, had all the charge of the place. They had been boys together, but as father was the older of the two, and was a trustworthy servant, his mistress depended on him, and much was entrusted to his care. As the distance to Baltimore was only about twenty miles, more or less, my father went there with the farm produce once or twice a week, and would sell or buy, and bring the money home to his mistress. She was very kind, and was proud of him for his faithfulness, so she gave him a chance to buy himself. She

allowed him so much for his work and a chance to make what extra he could for himself. So he used to make brooms and husk mats and take them to market with the produce. This work he would do nights after his day's work was done for his mistress. He was a great lime burner. Then in harvest time, after working for his mistress all day, he would walk three and four miles, and work in the harvest field till one and two o'clock in the morning, then go home and lie down and sleep for an hour or two, then up and at it again. He had an important and definite object before him, and was willing to sacrifice sleep and rest in order to accomplish it. It was not his own liberty alone, but the freedom of his wife and five children. For this he toiled day and night. He was a strong man, with an excellent constitution, and God wonderfully helped him in his struggle. After he had finished paying for himself, the next was to buy my mother and us children. There were thirteen children in all, of whom only three girls are now living. Five were born in slavery. I was the oldest girl, and my brother, William Talbart, the oldest boy. He was named after a gentleman named Talbart Gossage, who was well known all through that part of the country. I think he was some relation of Mr. Ned Gossage, who lost his life at Carlisle, Pa., some time before the war, in trying to capture two of his black boys who had run away for their freedom. I remember distinctly the great excitement at the time. The law then was that a master could take his slave anywhere he caught him. These boys had been gone for a year or more, and were in Carlisle when he heard of their whereabouts. He determined to go after them. So he took with him the constable and one or two others. Many of his friends did not want him to go, but he would not hear them. I used to think how strange it was, he being a professed Christian, and a class leader in the Methodist Church, and at the time a leader of the colored people's class, that he should be so blinded by selfishness and greed that he should risk his own life to put into slavery again those who sought only for freedom. How selfishness, when allowed to rule us, will drive us on, and make us act in spirit like the great enemy of our soul, who ever seeks to recapture those who have escaped from the bondage of sin. How we need to watch and pray, and on our God rely.

He did not capture the boys, but in the struggle he lost his own life, and was brought home dead.


But I turn again to my story. As I have said, my father having paid for himself was anxious to purchase his wife and children; and to show how the Lord helped in this, I must here tell of the wonderful conversion of my mother's young mistress and of her subsequent death, and the marvelous answer to my grandmother's prayers.

There was a Methodist Camp Meeting held at what was at that time called Cockey's Camp Ground. It was, I think, about twenty miles away, and the young mistress, with a number of other young people, went to this meeting. My mother went along to assist and wait on Miss Celie, as she had always done. It was an old-fashioned, red-hot Camp Meeting. These young people went just as a kind of picnic, and to have a good time looking on. They were staunch Presbyterians, and had no affinity with anything of that kind. They went more out of curiosity, to see the Methodists shout and hollow, than anything else; because they did shout and hollow in those days, tremendously. Of course they were respectful. They went in to the morning meeting and sat down quietly to hear the sermon; then they purposed walking about the other part of the day, looking around, and having a pleasant time. As they sat in the congregation, the minister preached in demonstration of the Power and of the Holy Ghost. My mother said it was a wonderful time. The spirit of the Lord got hold of my young mistress, and she was mightily convicted and converted right there before she left the ground; wonderfully converted in the old-fashioned way; the shouting, hallelujah way. Of course it disgusted those who were with her. They were terribly put out. Everything was spoiled, and they did not know how to get her home. They coaxed her, but thank the Lord, she got struck through. Then they laughed at her a little. Then they scolded her, and ridiculed her; but they could not do anything with her. Then they begged her to be quiet; told her if she would just be quiet, and wait till they got home, and wait till morning, they would be satisfied. My mother was awfully glad that the Lord had answered her and grandmother's prayer. As I have heard my mother tell this story she has wept as though it had just been a few days ago. Mother had only been converted about two years before this, and had always prayed for Miss Celie, so her heart was bounding with gladness when Miss Celie was converted. But of course she must hold on and keep as quiet as possible; they had

enough to contend with, Miss Celie. Mother said she sat in the back part of the carriage and prayed all the time. After coaxing her awhile she said she would try and keep quiet, and wait till morning. But when she got home she could not keep quiet, but began first thing to praise the Lord and shout. It aroused the whole house, and of course they were frightened, and thought she had lost her mind. But nay, verily, she had received the King, and there was great joy in the city. They got up and wondered what was the matter. They thought she was dreadfully excited at this meeting. They did all they could to quiet her, but they could not do much with her. But finally they did get her quiet and she went to bed. But her heart was so stirred and filled. She wanted to go then to where they would have lively meetings. She wanted to go to the Methodist church. Oh my! That was intolerable. They could not allow that. Then she wanted to go to the colored people's church. No, they would not have that. So they kept her from going. Then they separated my mother and her. They thought maybe mother might talk to her, and keep up the excitement. So they never let them be together at all, if possible. About a quarter of a mile away was the great dairy, and Miss Celie used to slip over there when she got a chance and have a good time praying with mother and grandmother. Finally they found they could do nothing with Miss Celie. So the young people decided they would get together and have a ball and get the notion out of her head. So they planned for a ball, and got all ready. The gentlemen would call on Miss Celie; she was very much admired, anyhow; and they would talk, and they did everything thing they could. She did not seem to take to it. But finally she said to mother one day, "Well, Mary, it's no use; they won't let me go to meeting anywhere I want to go, and I might as well give up and go to this ball." But my mother said, "Hold on, my dear, the Lord will deliver you." She used to put on her sunbonnet and slip down through the orchard and go down to the dairy and tell mother and grandmother; mother used to assist grandmother in the dairy. One day mother said she came down and said:

"Oh! Mary, I can't hold out any longer; they insist on my going to that ball, and I have decided to go. It's no use." So they had a good cry together, went off and prayed, and that was the last prayer about the ball. How strange! And yet God had that all in his infinite mercy--opening the prison to them

that were bound. Just a week before the ball came off, Miss Celie was taken down with typhoid fever. They didn't think she was going to die when she was taken down, but they sent for the doctors, the best in the land. Four of them watched over her night and day. Everything was done for her that could be done. She always wanted mother with her, to sit up in the bed and hold her; she seemed only to rest comfortably then. She seemed to have sinking spells. The skill of the doctors was baffled, and they said they could not do any more. So one day after one of these sinking spells, she called them all around her bed and said: "I want to speak to you. I have one request I want to make."

They said, "Anything, my dear."

"I want you to promise me that you will let Samuel have Mariam and the children." Then they had my mother get up out of the bed at once. Of course they didn't want her to hear that; and they said:

"Now, my dear, if you will keep quiet, you may be a little better." And then she went off in a kind of sinking spell. When she said this, and they sent my mother out, she ran with all her might and told grandmother, and grandmother's faith saw the door open for the freedom of her grandchildren; and she ran out into the bush and told Jesus. Of course my mother had to hurry back so as not to be missed in the house. Miss Celie went on that way for three days, and they would quiet her down. When the second day came, and she made the request, and they sent my mother out, she ran and told grandmother that Miss Celie had made the same request; then she ran back to the house again, and grandmother went out and told Jesus. At last it came to the third and last day, and the doctor said: "She can only last such a length of time without there is a change; so what you do, you must do quickly."

Mother was in the bed behind her, holding her up. She called them all again, and said, "I want you to make me one promise; that is, that you will let Samuel have Mariam and the children."

"Oh! yes, my dear," they said, "we will do anything."

My mother was a great singer. When Miss Celie got the promise, she folded her hands together, and leaning her head upon my mother's breast she said, "Now, Mary, sing."

And as best she could, she did sing. It was hard work, for her heart was almost broken, for she loved her as one of her own

children. While she sang, Miss Celie's sweet spirit swept through the gate, washed in the blood of the lamb. Hallelujah! what a Saviour. How marvelous that God should lead in this mysterious way to accomplish this end.

I often say to people that I have a right to shout more than some folks; I have been bought twice, and set free twice, and so I feel I have a good right to shout. Hallelujah!

I was quite small when my father bought us, so know nothing about the experience of slavery, because I was too young to have any trials of it. How well I remember my old mistress. She dressed very much after the Friends' style. She was very kind to me, and I was a good deal spoiled, for a little darkey. If I wanted a piece of bread, and if it was not buttered and sugared on both sides, I wouldn't have it; and when mother would get out of patience with me, and go for a switch, I would run to my old mistress and wrap myself up in her apron, and I was safe. And oh! how I loved her for that. They were getting me ready for market, but I didn't know it. I suppose that is why they allowed me to do many things that otherwise I should not have been allowed to do. They used to take me in the carriage with them to church on Sunday. How well I remember my pretty little green satin hood, lined inside with pink. How delighted I was when they used to take me. Then the young ladies would often make pretty little things and give to my mother for me. Mother was a good seamstress; she used to make all of our clothes, and all of father's every day clothes--coats, pants and vests. She had a wonderful faculty in this; she had but to see a thing of any style of dress or coat, or what-not, and she would come home and cut it out. People used to wonder at it. There were no Butterick's patterns then that she could get hold of. So one had to have a good head on them if they kept nearly in sight of things. But somehow mother was always equal to any emergency. My dear old mistress used to knit. I would follow her around. Sometimes she would walk out into the yard and sit under the trees, and I would drag the chair after her; I was too small to carry it. She would sit down awhile, and I would gather pretty flowers. When she got tired she would walk to another spot, and I would drag the chair again. So we would spend several hours in this way. My father had proposed buying us some time before, but could not be very urgent. He had to ask, and then wait a long interval before he could ask again.

Two of the young ladies of our family were to be married, and as my brother and myself were the oldest of the children, one of us would have gone to one, and one to the other, as a dowry. But how God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform. My grandmother was a woman of deep piety and great faith. I have often heard my mother say that it was to the prayers and mighty faith of my grandmother that we owed our freedom. How I do praise the Lord for a Godly grandmother, as well as mother. She had often prayed that God would open a way so that her grandchildren might be free. The families into which these young ladies were to marry, were not considered by the black folks as good masters and mistresses as we had; and that was one of my grandmother's anxieties. And so she prayed and believed that somehow God would open a way for our deliverance. She had often tried and proved Him, and found Him to be a present help in trouble. And so in the way I have already related, the Lord did provide, and my father was permitted to purchase our freedom.

"In some way or other
The Lord will provide;
It may not be my way,
It may not be thy way,
And yet in His own way,
The Lord will provide."

    CONTENTS.   Table of Contents     CHAPTER II.