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City Lights Bookstore posted events
7 hours ago
Gary Carden posted a video

2012 Award Winner for Literature -- Gary Neil Carden

A literature and drama teacher turned storyteller, Gary Neil Carden is an award winning playwright whose tales are informed by mountain life in North Carolin...
10 hours ago
Gary Carden updated their profile
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Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Stories of Asheville's homeless

History of Asheville’s homeless: humanity on trialby Rob NeufeldPHOTO CAPTION: Jim Parton and Kirk Faulkner, two homeless men at A-Hope, where Jim is getting help finding housing and Kirk is making job connections.  Photo, 2017, by Rob Neufeld.“I admire my daddy more than any other human on…See More
Tuesday
Lockie Hunter posted an event
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Writers at Home at Malaprops at Malaprops

March 19, 2017 from 3pm to 5pm
A.K. Benninghofen, Lockie Hunter and Beth Keefauver will offer a free reading at the next installment of the Writers at Home series, presented by UNC Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program (GSWP), at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 19, at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café, 55 Haywood Street in Asheville. This monthly series of free readings is hosted by GSWP director and novelist Tommy Hays.See More
Sunday
City Lights Bookstore posted events
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Susan Weinberg posted an event

Reading by Poet Bianca Spriggs at Three Top Room, Plemmons Student Union, App State University

March 30, 2017 from 7:30pm to 8:45pm
A reading by poet, multi-genre artist, and core member of the Affrilachian Poets Bianca Spriggs in the Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series at Appalachian State. Spriggs will also present a craft talk from 12:30-1:45 in the Price Lake Room of the Plemmons Student Union. Free admission.For more info, see the press release http://www.news.appstate.edu/2017/03/06/bianca-spriggs/Parking info is at parking.appstate.edu.…See More
Friday
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Mar 14
Toby Hill posted a blog post

Hester

HESTER      Growing up in Asheville,  N.C. in the 50’s and 60’s seemed, at the time, to be filled with a rhythm of adventure and strange encounters sprinkled with an assortment of particularly interesting and somewhat odd characters. One of those persons who fascinated me as a child was my father’s friend “Hester. “       My dad was about as straight an arrow as anyone could find. He seemed to a preadolescent, somewhat indolent son, frankly boring. Looking back from a perspective of 70 years, I…See More
Mar 11
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

African-American musicians in Asheville

African-American musicians flourished in Asheville neighborhoodsby Rob NeufeldPHOTO CAPTION: The Outcasts, the state’s Battle of the Bands winner in 1979, included: (kneeling l to r) Edward Stout, saxophonist; Darriel Jones, drummer; (seated) Patricia McAfee, vocalist; (standing l to r) Marvin Seabrooks, trombonist; Mike…See More
Mar 11
Tipper posted a blog post

Blind Man's Bluff

According to the Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore, the game Blind Man's Bluff is as old as the 16th Century. It was a game I never liked playing as a kid. I was always afraid someone would get hurt-namely me! Its one of those games that makes grown-ups yell things like "Somebodys going to…See More
Mar 9
Mary-Chris Griffin shared Rob Neufeld's discussion on Facebook
Mar 6
Bob Plott replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Hunters and Plott hounds
"Thanks for sharing this Rob--and the book plug too. I have never seen this photo before. I have several others from the 1942 article, but this was a new one. The man on the truck looking down is WWII hero Little George Plott--who I profiled in my…"
Mar 6
Tipper posted a video

I'll Be All Smiles Tonight

old VHS film from 2002, a little distorted by the video conversion process... This song features a high lead by Pap and a harmony underneath. In the key of D...
Mar 5
Tipper posted blog posts
Mar 5
Jan Schochet shared Frank Thompson's event on Facebook
Mar 4

Interviews with former slaves in Asheville strike the heart

by Rob Neufeld

 

            Every day we see and feel the beauty of the world and of humanity.  But history sometimes shows us how wrong things can go, and we wonder why we are vulnerable to such aberrations.

            One of the most powerfully distressing examples of human cruelty and suffering comes from the testimony of M.L. Bost, an African American former slave who moved to Asheville from Newton, and spoke with Marjorie Jones of the Federal Writers’ Project in 1937, when he was 87.

 

Cry

 

            M.L.’s last name derives from his “Massa,” Jonah Bost, who owned two plantations and a hotel in Newton, NC. 

            The Bost “Missus” was “a good woman,” W.L. said.  “There was never an overseer” on the plantations; the “oldest colored man” looked after the other slaves.  And “she never allowed the Massa to buy or sell any slaves.”

            Bost’s slaves had come down through at least two generations.

            On occasion, speculators—slave merchants—would come through town and stay at Bost’s place.  M.L. witnessed what ensued when he was a boy.

            “They always come ‘long on the last of December,” he recalled, “so that the n—s would be ready for sale on the first day of January.  Many the time I see four or five of them chained together.

            “They never had enough clothes on to keep a cat warm.  The women never wore anything but a thin dress and a petticoat and one underwear.  I’ve seen the ice balls hangin’ on to the bottom of their dresses as they ran along, jes like sheep in a pasture ‘fore they are sheared.  They never wore any shoes.”

            To keep warm, the slaves were made to run around by mounted overseers.   “Lord miss, them slaves look jes like droves of turkeys runnin’ along in front of them horses,” W.L. said.

            When the speculators stayed in the hotel, the slaves slated for sale stayed outside in a pen, like hogs.  “All through the night I could hear them mournin’ and prayin’,” W.L. recollected.  “I didn’t know the Lord would let people live who were so cruel.”

 

Paddyrollers

 

            There was no escaping slavery.  Paddyrollers—patrollers searching for fugitive slaves—would capture any person of color out and about without a pass from his or her master.  They then would strip that person and lash him or her with a bull whip.

            M.L. talked about seeing one young man slashed with a whip, salted, and then whipped again, until he died.

            M.L.’s mother, though grateful not to be separated from spouse and children, as was the case with the slaves on the market, prayed and sang for freedom. 

            The Bost slaves would sneak off to have church services in the woods back of the barn.  They sang: “As I went down in the valley to pray/ Studyin’ about that good ole way/ Who shall wear that starry crown/ Good Lord show me the way.”

            Two years before the end of the war, another Newton plantation owner, “ole man Hall,” freed his slaves and gave them money to buy their own land. 

            When the war ended, the Bost family went to work for Hall’s nephew, Solomon Hall.  A few years later, M.L. found his way with his wife to Asheville, and eventually built a house on Curve St. (off present-day Martin Luther King Jr. Drive).

            The post-war years had been as frightening to African Americans in the plantation South as the slave years had been, according to W.L. and other former slaves interviewed by Marjorie Jones.

 

Fear, the sequel

 

            When Union soldiers came into Selma, Ala., Lizzie Williams, a petted slave to the wife of “Marse Jim Moore,” recalled, they looted and set fire to buildings.  She knew of one man, “Marse Hyde,” who burned up inside his home when the soldiers torched it.

            After the surrender, Williams said, “all the n—s (were) just lost.  Nowhere to go, nothin’ to do, unless they stay with the massa.  Nobody had anything but ‘federate money, and it no good.”

            White men, dispossessed and angry, went around tormenting and killing black men, Williams recounted.  They went to kill her father, but he managed to persuade one of the vigilantes that he planned on staying on his massa’s plantation and helping him.

            Lizzie’s pappy had had such confrontations before emancipation.  Once, he evaded paddyrollers when he didn’t have a pass on him by jumping into a ditch and making grunting sounds like a hog.

            In the post-war climate, the Ku Klux Klan struck fear into black people.  Unlike paddyrollers, they moved around late at night, abducting victims.

            They were known for their white hoods and robes; and, on occasion, horns they put over the caps of their hoods. 

            “They had another thing they called the ‘Donkey Devil,’” M.L. Bost related.  “They take the skin of a donkey and get inside of it and run after the poor Negroes...After the war was over, we were afraid to move.”

 

Work legacy

 

            Sarah Gudger, a former slave of Joe Gudger in Oteen, and then of the Hemphills near Old Fort, told Marjorie Jones about the time that a new slave woman joined the Hemphill household just before the end of the war.

            “Some of these days yo’all gwine be free,” the woman said, jes’ like the white folks.”  Sarah and the others laughed.  “No, we jes’ slaves,” Sarah responded.  “We allus have to work and never be free.”

            Gudger recalled working from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. in all weather for the Hemphills.  “I never knowed what it was to rest,” Gudger said.  “Lawdy, honey, I’s took a thousand lashin’s in my day.” 

            Gudger’s worst moment was when she was not allowed to come in from the field after her mother had died and before she was put in the ground.

Saved a life

            Fannie Moore, interviewed by Jones at her home at 151 Valley St. in 1937, recalled how hard her mother had worked.

            “My mammy, she worked in the field all day, and pieced and quilted all night.  Why, sometimes I never got to bed.  Had to hold the light for her to see by.”

            Fannie’s father was a blacksmith, but when the war came, he was escort and cook for the master’s sons, Andrew and Tom Moore of Moore, SC.

            Andrew was killed, shot while raising the Confederate flag for his regiment.  Fannie’s father took him home, and then went back to stay with Marse Tom.

            Tom was shot, too, but was protected from a fatal injury by a Bible in his breast pocket.  “Pappy, he bring Marse Tom home,” Fannie related, “and take care of him till he well.  Marse Tom gave pappy a horse and wagon cause he said he save his life.”

 

PHOTO CAPTIONS

 

All photos and slave narratives from Library of Congress Manuscript Division (visit memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml).  The transcribed narrative of M.L. Bost enters his name as W.L. Bost, but I have discovered through local research that he was Martin Luther Bost.  A hand-written "M" must have been misread as a "W."

 

M.L. Bost

 

Sarah Gudger, age 121, at Dalton St. home, Asheville

 

Fannie Moore

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