African Americans in Monroe County  


Tom Cord

Uncle Tom Cord, an old colored man living in Monroe City is probably the oldest person in Monroe County. He is the only ex-slave now living in Monroe or Indian Creek township. Uncle Tom says he was brought from Kentucky along with his mother when he was five years old. As near as can be ascertained, Uncle Tom is somewhere around 95. Uncle Tomís mother was married in Kentucky and he was the youngest of five children, the rest being sold to different masters and their whereabouts were lost track of. The mother was sold to a Mr. Hayden.

Mr. Jack Jones, who settled on a farm in what is now the Cooper Com≠munity, north of Monroe City, brought Tom from Kentucky. Tom can faintly recall coming to Hannibal by boat. He says he was big enough to water the horses. Mr. Jones then gave Uncle Tom to his son, John Jones, who later resided in Monroe City. Uncle Tom was a houseboy in the home of John Jones until he was sold to a Mr. George See for $650. Mr. See took Uncle Tom to Macon County, before the Civil War. When the war came on, Uncle Tom started to join the army but was dissuaded. He came back to Mon≠roe County about 1869 with Mr. See who located near Granville.

After the war, Uncle Tom. being a free negro was promised wages by Mr. See and remained with him for three years but did not receive any wages. Uncle Tom can distinctly re≠member the floggings that he and other slaves got. They were usually flogged for getting sassy or disobey≠ing. The master would line them up and take a cowhide whip and whale everyone of them, going down the line and jerking them out one by one. Uncle Tom said he was sold at a private sale and if there were ever any public auctions of slaves in Monroe County he never knew about it. He said he had heard of public auctions going on at Hannibal, Mo.

Uncle Tomís mind is clear, his hearing and eyesight are good and he still has some of his teeth. He is interesting to talk to and can tell a connected and coherent story. In a very few years all the Uncle Tomís of the county will be gone and out last living link with their particular past will be severed and our only knowledge of the frontier lives our grandfathers lived will be gained from books.