State of South Carolina
Georgetown County Georgetown March 17th 1873–
. . . .To question 1, he says– “My name is Alonzo Jackson– I was born a slave, in the state of Virginia–and am 64 years of age– I reside at Georgetown state of South Carolina and am a Livery stable keeper by occupation– To question 2 he says– I have lived all the time at Georgetown since 1823–and from that time was a slave until made free by the war when the US. Forces came to Georgetown in February 1865– When the war began in 1861, I belonged to Mr Joseph B. Pyatt who lived on his own plantation about 2 miles from Georgetown (he lives there now) For 18. years just before the war I hired all my time from my master and continued to do so all the time I was a slave– I paid every year $140– for my time and supported myself and family from my own earnings–working only for whom I chose– When the war began I was employed as “hostler” (in the same livery stable which I now keep on my own account) I was then receiving $25. pr month for my wages–and had been receiving the same wages at same place for about 18. years continuously I had in 1861–a wife–one child and 2 nieces to support– My wife earned money as pastry cook & Laundress– My child and 2 neices were small children– I remained, employed as stated, until February 1864–when I hired a flat boat at Georgetown and did freighting business on the “SamPitt” “Black” “Pee dee” & “Waccamaw” rivers– I continued about a year in this business, all the time on my own account, until the US. Soldiers came to Georgetown in Feby 1865 when I left the flat boat and was employed as a laborer at Georgetown by citizens until the end of the war– I received all my wages from the livery stable except during the last year I worked there– The rebel soldiers plundered the stable so that we could not do business– The last year I was at the stable during the war I divided the earnings of the stable with my employer– my share was only enough to feed my family– I had 2 horses of my own at the stable, all the time during, and for about 4 or 5 years before the war, while I was employed there– I received extra pay whenever my horses were used and earned some money in this way– I owned a house and lot at Georgetown when the war began– I have lived in the house all the time since then– The property is worth about $800– I never owned any other real estate– When I left the livery stable to do freighting business on the rivers during the war I had 2-horses about $6.000 or $8.000 in Confederate money and about $500– state money– I did not own or have in my possession any other property of any kind at that time, except my house & lot, as stated– I earned about $300 (in Confederate money) every month, besides the support of my family–while I was in the freighting business– I had no other occupation or business during the war– I was not away from Georgetown during the war except when driving for persons who hired carriages from the stable and while I was doing freight business on the rivers– I went 4 times to Charleston during the 1st & 2nd years of the war only to take people there who had hired me to do so– I went several times to Kingstree (40, miles from Georgetown on N. Eastern R.R.) and to other places nearer for same purpose only– I was never absent from Georgetown on such business longer than 3 days at a time– I was sometimes absent on my flat boat for 2 weeks at a time and never went further than 60. miles from Georgetown in any boat– I only went up the rivers–except on several occasions when I went to “Hesterville” about 7 miles from Georgetown towards the coast– To question 3. he says– Yes I went twice to “North Island” in “Winyaw bay” (about 10 miles from Georgetown) during the 3rd year of the war with Union soldiers who had escaped from the rebel “stockade” at Florence– I went with them to show them the way to the gun boats– I went out of the rebel lines to do so, and returned without being discovered– I took the soldiers in a boat and landed them on “North Island” which was then in possession only of Union forces– About one month after Georgetown was occupied by Union forces during the last year of the war I went about 10. miles out of the Union lines, to a plantation on “Black river” for a boat load of rice–with a flat boat– I was hired to do so by a citizen of Georgetown, I had a permit from the US. Provost Marshal to do so– I got the rice and brought it to Georgetown– The rebels came very near catching me, they fired at me, and I heard them threaten me– They said they would “kill me for taking provisions to the yankees.” They were separated from me by the river and did not catch me– I never went through either lines at any other times during the war
. . . .To question 26, he says Yes– About 6 months after the war began–a constable at Georgetown named “Gasquay” (a white man) came one day to the livery stable where I was employed and told me he had been sent to me by the Confederate Provost Marshal (Dr Parker) to order me to assist in hanging 3 colored men at the jail in Georgetown– I knew at the time that the 3 men were to be hung for attempting to escape to the blockading fleet–but did not know either of the 3 men– I had not had anything to do with their attempt to escape and had not been accused of knowing anything about it– I believed that I had been ordered to assist in the hanging because I was suspected of being on the side of the Yankees– (The rebels tried colored people very often in this way, to frighten them) I replied to the constable that I was busy and could not go– The constable was angry and said I must go– I insisted that I was busy and could not go– I gave no other reason for refusing to assist in the hanging, and did not say anything about the hanging– I deceived the constable by saying that I had to go to Gen'l Trapiers plantation (2 miles distant) for Gen'l Trapier–and in order to make him believe me, I got on my horse and went there– The Constable said “if you don't look pretty sharp, you will be hung next”– At the time I went to Black river for rice in the flat boat, (after Union Army came to Georgetown) with permission and pass from US. Provost Marshal–(as stated) The rebels who fired at and tried to catch me told me they would sink my boat and hang me because I was taking provisions to Georgetown for the Yankees. I do not know of any other threats that were made to me in person, on account of my Union sentiments. To question 27. he says No. except when I was at the livery stable during the war– I was employed by a free colored man named Augustus Carr–who owned the livery stable– The rebel soldiers came so often to the stable with their horses and treated us so badly that as stated we had to give up the business– They used to feed their horses without paying anything and if we asked for any pay they would sometimes draw pistols on us, threatening to shoot us– They behaved so unkindly towards us that we could not do business– My employer lost a great deal of money by their conduct and for this reason could not pay me my last years wages at the stable–and has never done so– I am now renting the same stable from him and what he owes me for back wages will be deducted from the rent I pay him– I have already had the stable for one year at $200– and have paid no rent– I expect to pay rent after I have occupied the stable long enough to get my back wages– He owed me about $500. one year ago– I was not injured in any other way on account of my Union sentiments– To question 28. he says– No. except giving food to Union soldiers when they came to my house– They sometimes asked for food and sometimes took it without asking I never refused them– To question 29. he says. Yes– About 8 months before Georgetown was occupied by Union soldiers–while I was in the freighting business on my flat boat on “Mingo creek” (up “Black river”) about 30 or 40 miles from Georgetown by water, 3 white men came near the boat which was at the bank of the river– I was on the boat with only one person a colored man (in my employ named “Henry”) As soon as the 3 white men saw we were colored men they came to the boat and said “we are Yankee soldiers, and have escaped from the rebel “stockade” at Florence, we are your friends can't you do something for us we are nearly perished” As soon as I saw them, before they spoke, I knew they were Yankee soldiers–by their clothing. They were all private soldiers–so they told me– I invited them to come on the boat and told them I would hurry and cook food for them, which I did and gave it to them in my boat– As soon as they entered the boat I shoved off from land and anchored in the creek about 60. ft from shore– I was loading cord wood in my boat when the soldiers came and had completed my load within about 4. cords– I did not wait to take it all–fearing that, some one else might come and catch the Yankees– Neither of the 3 soldiers ordered me to take them in the boat, or made any threats– They did not go in the boat or secure it in any way so that I could not leave in it– They only entered the boat after they had told me who they were (as stated) and when I invited them– They were very weak–and had no weapons– They had no shoes on– It was then winter weather, and cold– The 3 Yankees did not suggest anything for me to do for them except to feed them–and wanted to get to the gun boats– They did not know where the gun boats were– I did–and I told them I would take them where they could get to the gun boats unmolested. The soldiers did not pay or give me anything–or promise anything to me at any time–and I have never received anything for any service rendered to any Union soldiers– They did not threaten me or use any violence– they were very friendly and glad to get into such good hands– They showed that they felt very grateful– I hid the 3 soldiers in my flat boat and started at once down the river towards Georgetown as soon as the tide allowed– In about 3 days time we came to “North Island” (about 12 miles from Georgetown) which I then knew was in possession of the Union forces– I did not pass Georgetown by day light for fear of being stopped by the rebels who had “pickets” all along the shore to stop all boats from going below– In the night I floated with the ebb tide (without being seen) to “North Island”– I got there in the night and landed the 3 soldiers in my small boat– I showed them the direction to cross the Island so as to get to the gun boats– I knew there were many of the gun boat people on the shore there at that time– I saw the 3 soldiers go as I directed– I never saw or heard from any of the 3 soldiers afterwards–but through a colored man named “Miller” (who was on the shore near the gunboats) learned that the 3 soldiers had got to the fleet– “Miller” told me this about 2 weeks after I took the 3 soldiers– he saw them and described them so that I was certain he had seen the same 3 soldiers safe in the protection of the gun boats– About 2 Months after this occurrence–I brought 2 other Yankee soldiers (one a corporal) to “North Island” from the same place in “Mingo creek” The circumstances were nearly the same except that when I saw the soldiers I called to them saying there was “no danger”–for they were running away in a swamp– They came nearer and asked me if I was a friend to them that, they were Yankee soldiers who had escaped from rebel prison– I replied that “I was as good a friend as ever they had in their lives”! Then they came on my boat where I fed and delivered them (as before described) on “North Island” In February 1865 while I was at “Mingo creek” as before I found 4. other Yankee soldiers there who also said they had escaped from Florence– I fed and took them towards “North Island” but told them it might not be necessary as the Yankees were then probably at Georgetown– When we came near Georgetown I found out that this was true–and landed the 4 soldiers there– I never asked or received anything or the promise of anything for what I gave or did for any Yankee soldiers during the war– While they were in my boat I kept them hidden away– I know I would have been killed if the rebels had found out that I had Yankees on my boat– I cannot remember that I ever did anything else to aid any Union soldiers– I never had a chance to do anything else–or I would have done it!
. . . .To question 40. he says– I sympathized with the Union cause– “I knew what I needed most and looked that way certain”! I wanted to be free–and wanted my race to be free– I knew this could not be if the rebels had a government of their own– All the time during, and before the war, I felt as I do now that, the Union people were the best friends of the colored people– I always rejoiced over Union victories– I talked with a few white men at Georgetown and with such colored men as I could trust, in favor of the Union all the time during the war, but I knew my life would be taken if it was known how I really felt about the war– To question 41. he says. Yes. I was all the time anxious for the success of the Yankees– I never did or said anything to help the rebels and never wished for the success of any rebel soldiers– I did what I could for the Yankees and wanted to do more! I was always ready and willing to do what I could even at the risk of my own life– I could every time have avoided bringing the Yankee soldiers to “North Island” and could have caused their arrest if I had wished to do so, on my way to “North Island”–
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Excerpts from testimony of Alonzo Jackson, 17 Mar. 1873, claim of F. Alonzo Jackson, Georgetown Co. SC case files, Approved Claims, series 732, Southern Claims Commission, 3rd Auditor, U.S. General Accounting Office, Record Group 217, National Archives. Sworn before a special commissioner of the Southern Claims Commission. The questions that correspond to the enumerated responses are not in the file. According to other documents in the file, Jackson had submitted a claim of $1,925 as compensation for property taken by Union soldiers, including two mules, a gun, and twenty tierces of rice. He was awarded only $250, the commissioners having disallowed entirely the $1,500 he claimed for the rice.
Published in The Destruction of Slavery, pp. 813–18, and in Free at Last, pp. 154–61.