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Courtesy Barren’s Black Roots, Volume 3, Michelle Gorin Burris,  Gorin Genealogical Publishing, (c)May 1993, by permission. Reprinted from a WPA project done in 1936, interviewed by Clara Moran.


    “Aunt Polly Breeding is the oldest and most noted slave near Edmonton, Kentucky. She was born on New Year’s Day 1834? at Lafayette one mile this side of Center in the northern part of what is now Metcalfe County. She was held as a slave by Ben Hiser, a relative of A. B. Hiser, history teacher in Edmonton High School. Her mother, Phyllis, was born and owned as a slave by Mike Shufett in the Blue Grass Region. Mike Shuffett became heavily in debt and was afraid that Phyllis would be sold for the debt. He had his brother, Tom Shuffett who lived near Lafayette to take her down there for safe keeping. Mr. Ben Hiser bought Phyllis at the age of seven years for $700. Aunt Polly’s pap was Thomas Pounds, a free born Mulatto. He was born in Halifax County, Virginia. His grandmother was a white woman and slave holder. Her name was Polly Pounds and after her husband died, she had an illegitimate child by a Negro slave. This half-white and half-colored child was Thomas Pound’s mother. Thomas’s mother grew up as a free born and had four children: Thomas, Edd, Rachel and Ann. This half-colored child, Harrett, could not sell her own children and they were bound out until they became 21 years old. Edd, Rachel, and Ann were bound out to Dick Cook, a white man of Halifax County and he later moved to Lafayette near Ben Hiser’s. Thomas, Aunt Polly’s pap, was bound out to a man in Virginia and lived there until after he was 21 years old, when he got his free papers.


    “The following is a copy of his free papers. Aunt Polly holds the original copy.


                                “Virginia to wit, No. 379:

                                Thomas Pounds, a free born man of color was this day registered in my

                                office according to law. This said Thomas is a mulatto about 22 years

                                of age, five feet 8 inches high, has a large scar on his left arm between

                                his wrist and elbow occasioned by a burn and was born free.


                                “William Hold, Clerk, November 28, 1837. At a court held for Halifax

                                County, the 28th day of November 1837. The court doth certify that the

                                the foregoing register of Thomas Pounds is only made by clerk of this

                                Court, Virginia, towit: I, William Hold, Clerk of the County Court of

                                Halifax do hereby Register and Certificate truly transcribed from the

                                records of my office. In testimony where of I have herewith set my

                                hand and affixed the seal of said County this day 28th of November,

                                1837. /s/ William Hold, Clerk”


     “Thomas Pounds in Virginia heard that Dick Cook had sold his brother Edd, and sisters, Rachel and Ann. Knowing that he did not have any right lawfully to do so, he was very anxious to come to see and investigate the matter. The day that Thomas got his free papers, he put his old fiddle under his arm and walked to Lafayette County, and on arriving he learned that Cooks till held the children.


      “Aunt Polly’s mother, Phyllis, and pap fell in love with each other and were married at Ben Hiser’s home under the old slave law, in which “they just stood up beside each other in Mr. Hiser’s house and a preacher said the ceremony without any license.” Phyllis continued to live at Mr. Hiser’s and Thomas being a carpenter by trade hired himself out to various people. Her mother was always treated good by her “Missie”, for Mr. and Mrs. Hiser were “powerful good people.” Phyllis and her family would attend church with the white people. Not all masters would let their servants go to church with them to worship. Mr. Hiser never whipped any of them.


      “Aunt Polly said that some people called them by the name of Pounds, while others would call them Hisers. They lived with the Hisers as long as the Hisers lived, but they died about 15 months before the slaves were freed. No one wanted to buy them under the uncertain conditions of how the war would end. Everything else that belonged to the Hisers was sold at Public auction. Mr. and Mrs. Hiser died one day apart and were buried in the same graveyard. Aunt Polly said that it just broke their hearts for they knew that they would never have another “Missie” like them.


       “They hired out to Willis Whitlow of Good Luck in southern end of the county and stayed there for several months. Then they were bound out to Dr. Dickinson at Lafayette and lived there until they were set free, but she did not remember the year.


        “After they had been freed, they hardly knew what to do, but as her Pap had been a free man, he had been used to depending on himself for his own judgment. The law required her pap and mother to marry again after they were set free. Aunt Polly holds the original certificate and the following is a copy of it:


                                “State of Kentucky, Metcalfe County: I, E. R. Beauchamp, Clerk of the County

                                Court for said County, do certify that Thomas and wife this day appeared before

                                me and united into declaration of marriage as required by law. Given under my

                                Hand.” (September 19th, 1868), s/s E. R. Beauchamp”


      “After her pap and mother remarried, her mother took the children to Louisville to put the children in school, and left her and Pap at Edmonton to work. Five northern women were hired to teach the colored people, but to Aunt Polly’s regret she says that she did not study, just looked out the window and watched the people pass up and down the streets. They moved back to Edmonton to live as her pap had bought a place near the jail and they lived there. They were also living there when she fell in love with Mike Breeding and they went to New Albany to be married. They lived there for some time while Mike worked in a glass factory. Nine children were born to Mike and Aunt Polly. Only two served in the World War. Edd died one day before the ship reached New York. Aunt Polly now lives with her daughter Lou Richardson near Edmonton, Ky.”






Copyright © 2004 - 2010 C. Harvey