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Mattison, Hiram
Louisa Picquet, the Octoroon



Q. --"How came you to find out where your mother was?"

A. --"Well, I hear she was in Texas, and I keep writin' to Texas, and supposed it was one place, but never got no answer. But I kept prayin', and always believed that I should see her or hear from her, before I died."

Q. --"You kept up praying all this time, did you?"

A. --"Yes; but when I came to Cincinnati, I thought more about my mother--to think I was free, and so many others that I knew in Georgia, and she was still in slavery! It was a great weight on my mind; and I thought if I could get religion I should certainly meet her in heaven, for I knew she was

a Christian woman. I had thought of it very often, and thought how often I had told the Lord I would serve him and had not done so, till I was almost afraid to make another promise. Then I made up my mind to serve the Lord. I had often been to the Methodist meeting there, when there was great excitement; but I never went up to be prayed for. I thought it was a sin if I did not go up in the right way.

"But I kept feelin' worse in my mind. Every thing I had ever done all came up before me. I felt as if I could not look up; my eyes were fixed on the ground. In the evenin'--Sunday evenin'--I went to meetin' in the Zion Baptist Church. Mr. Shelton was preachin'. After he got through, they was singin'; I felt troubled all through it. Then I went up to the altar with others. I made up my mind that I would never hold up my head again on this earth till the Lord converted me. I prayed hard enough that night. My husband was so mortified to think I prayed so loud, and made so much noise; but I told him, Henry, I have to die for myself, and it did not set me back at all. But I did not get rid of the burden I felt till near daylight that night, or next mornin'. I was prayin' nearly all night, and near mornin' I felt worse, as if I would die; and I tried to wake Henry up, but I could not wake him at all. It seemed as if I had not time. All my long prayers had gone to just the one word, 'Lord, have mercy!' and I could not say any thing but that. And the moment I believe that the Lord would relieve me, the burden went right off; and I felt as light as if I was right up in the air. And it seemed as if there was light in the room. * * * Then, the next Sunday, I joined the church, and the Sunday after was baptized. That was eight years ago, going on nine. I been in that church ever since."

Q. --"Is your husband a professor of religion?"

A. --"Yes; he belongs to the same church. He experienced religion in Georgia."

Q. --"How about the two daughters?"

A. --"Elizabeth, my daughter, belongs to the same church. My husband's daughter, Harriet, does not belong to any church."


Q. --"Does your church commune with slaveholders?"

A. --" No, sir; they will not. The Union Baptist Church does. When white ministers come there from the South, they let them break the bread at the Communion; but in our church, if they come there, they don't do it, unless they come with a lie in their mouth. They ask them if they believe in slavery, or apologize for it, and if they do, then they don't preach there. No slaveholder, or apologist for slavery, can preach in that church; that was the foundation when they first started."

Q. --"Well, how did you find out where your mother was?"

A. --"Well, I have made it a business for about eleven years, to inquire of every one I saw, almost, about my mother. If any fugitives came through, I made it my business to get to see them, and inquire. A great many fugitives come through Cincinnati. I have had lots of them in my house.

"One time a colored woman came there, real genteel, and ask to board. I thought she was a runaway slave, though she tried to make me believe she was free. Her name was Mary White. She was there two or three weeks, and I notice she never went out only on Sunday evenin's. One afternoon she went to our church, and heard it give out by the preacher, that if any of the friends knew of a woman by the name of Mary White, to tell her to be on the look-out, for the hell-hounds were after her up to one of the hotels. Then she spring up, and came to where I was and told me. That night we darken up the house, and a Quaker friend came there and had her fixed up; and next day she was on her way to Canada. After that I got a couple of letters from her, returning thanks to us all for helpin' her on her way. She was in a sheriff's family in Canada, and was doing well."

Q. --"Now tell me how you found your mother?"

A. --"I used to take in washin', and one day a gentleman, Mr. B., a good friend of ours in Cincinnati, sent some shirts there to be done up, and said he was goin' to Texas. Then my husband inquired, and found out that he knew Mr. Horton, in Texas, and told us what kind of a lookin' man he was. Then I remembered how he looked when he bought my mother is Mobile, and I knew it was the same man. Then he told us

how to send a letter, and where to mail it. [There is a kink about mailing a letter, so as to have it reach a slave, that we never before dreamed of; but Mrs. P. does not wish it published, for fear it will hinder her from getting her letters.] Then I wrote a letter [got one written], and in three weeks I had a letter from my mother."

Q. --"What became of the first letter you had from your mother, while you were in New Orleans?"

A. --"I never saw that. Mr. Williams only told me he got it, and what was in it. I only knew she was in Texas. I thought it was all Texas."

Q. --"Have you the first letter you received from your mother?"

A. --"Yes; up stairs. Shall I go and get it?"

Here the letter was brought. It is on a tough blue paper, well soiled and worn, but yet quite legible. The following chapter contains an exact copy.