WHEN Miss Theodosia Huntingdon, of Burlington, Vermont,
concluded to come South in 1870, she was moved by three
considerations. In the first place, her brother, John Huntingdon,
had become a citizen of Georgiahaving astonished his
acquaintances by marrying a young lady, the male members of
whose family had achieved considerable distinction in the
Confederate army; in the second place, she was anxious to explore
a region which she almost unconsciously pictured to herself as
remote and semi-barbarous; and, in the third place, her friends had
persuaded her that to some extent she was an invalid. It was in
vain that she argued with herself as to the propriety of undertaking
the journey alone and unprotected, and she finally put an end to
inward and outward doubts by informing herself and her friends,
including John Huntingdon, her brother, who was practicing law in
Atlanta, that she had decided to visit the South.
When, therefore, on the 12th of October, 1870the date is duly
recorded in one of Miss Theodosias lettersshe alighted from the
cars in Atlanta, in the midst of a great crowd, she fully expected to
find her brother waiting to receive her. The bells of several
locomotives were ringing, a number of trains were moving in and
out, and the porters and baggage-men were screaming and bawling
to such an extent that for several moments Miss Huntingdon was
considerably confused; so much so that she paused in the hope that
her brother would suddenly appear and rescue her from the smoke,
and dust, and din. At that moment some one touched her on the
arm, and she heard a strong, half-confident, half-apologetic voice
Aint dish yer Miss Doshy?
Turning, Miss Theodosia saw at her side a tall, gray-haired negro.
Elaborating the incident afterward to her friends, she was pleased
to say that the appearance of the old man was somewhat
picturesque. He stood towering above her, his hat in one hand, a
carriage-whip in the other, and an expectant smile lighting up his
rugged face. She remembered a name her brother had often used in
his letters, and, with a womans tact, she held out her hand, and
Is this Uncle Remus?
Law, Miss Doshy! how you know de ole nigger? I knowd you by
de faver; but how you know me? And then, without waiting for a
reply: Miss Sally, she sick in bed, en Mars John, he bleedzd ter go
in de country, en dey tuckn sont me. I knowd you de minnit I laid
eyes on you. Time I seed you, I say ter mysef, I lay dars Miss
Doshy, en, sho nuff, dar you wuz. You aint gun up yo checks, is
you? Kaze Ill git de trunk sont up by de spress waggin.
The next moment Uncle Remus was elbowing his way
unceremoniously through the crowd, and in a very short time,
seated in the carriage driven by the old man, Miss Huntingdon was
whirling through the streets of Atlanta in the direction of her
brothers home. She took advantage of the opportunity to study the
old negros face closely, her natural curiosity considerably
sharpened by a knowledge of the fact that Uncle Remus had
played an important part in her brothers history. The result of her
observation must have been satisfactory, for presently she laughed,
Uncle Remus, you havent told me how you knew me in that great
The old man chuckled, and gave the horses a gentle rap with the
Who? Me! I knowd you by de faver. Dat boy er Mars Johns is de
vey spit en immij un you. Id a knowd you in New Leens, let lone
down dar in de kyar-shed.
This was Miss Theodosias introduction to Uncle Remus. One
Sunday afternoon, a few weeks after her arrival, the family were
assembled in the piazza enjoying the mild weather. Mr.
Huntingdon was reading a newspaper; his wife was crooning softly
as she rocked the baby to sleep; and the little boy was endeavoring
to show his Aunt Dosia the outlines of Kenesaw Mountain
through the purple haze that hung like a wonderfully fashioned
curtain in the sky and almost obliterated the horizon. While they
were thus engaged, Uncle Remus came around the corner of the
house, talking to himself.
Dey er too lazy ter wuk, he was saying, en dey specks hones
fokes fer ter stan up en sport um. Im gwine down ter Putmon
County whar Mars Jeems isdats wat Im agwine ter do.
Whats the matter now, Uncle Remus? inquired Mr. Huntingdon,
folding up his newspaper.
Nuthin tall, Mars John, ceppin deze yer sunshine niggers. Dey
begs my terbacker, en borrys my tools, en steals my vittles, en hits
done come ter dat pass dat I gotter pack up en go. Im agwine down
ter Putmon, dats wat.
Uncle Remus was accustomed to make this threat several times a
day, but upon this occasion it seemed to remind Mr. Huntingdon of
Very well, he said, Ill come around and help you pack up, but
before you go I want you to tell Sister here how you went to war
and fought for the Union.Remus was a famous warrior, he
continued, turning to Miss Theodosia; he volunteered for one day,
and commanded an army of one. You know the story, but you have
never heard Remuss version.
Uncle Remus shuffled around in an awkward, embarrassed way,
scratched his head, and looked uncomfortable.
Miss Doshy aint got no time fer ter set dar an year de ole nigger
Oh, yes, I have, Uncle Remus! exclaimed the young lady; plenty
The upshot of it was that, after many ridiculous protests, Uncle
Remus sat down on the steps, and proceeded to tell his story of the
war. Miss Theodosia listened with great interest, but throughout it
all she observedand she was painfully conscious of the fact, as she
afterward admittedthat Uncle Rcmus spoke from the standpoint of
a Southerner, and with the air of one who expected his hearers to
thoroughly sympathize with him.
Cose, said Uncle Remus, addressing himself to Miss Theodosia,
you aint bin to Putmon, en you dunner whar de Brad Slaughter
place en Harmony Grove is, but Mars John en Miss Sally, dey bin
dar a time er two, en dey knows how de lan lays. Well, den, it uz
right long in dere whar Mars Jeems lived, en whar he live now.
When de war come long he wuz livin dere longer Ole Miss en
Miss Sally. Ole Miss uz his ma, en Miss Sally dar uz his sister. De
war come des like I tell you, en marters sorter rock along same like
dey allers did. Hit didnt strike me dat dey wuz enny war gwine on,
en ef I hadnt sorter miss de nabers, en seed fokes gwine outer de
way fer ter ax de news, Id a lowed ter mysef dat de war wuz way
off mong some yuther country. But all dis time de fuss wuz gwine
on, en Mars Jeems, he wuz des eatchin fer ter put in. Ole Miss en
Miss Sally, dey tuck on so he didnt git off de fus year, but bimeby
news come down dat times wuz gittin putty hot, en Mars Jeems he
got up, he did, en say he gotter go, en go he did. He got a overseer
fer ter look atter de place, en he went en jined de army. En he uz a
fighter, too, mon, Mars Jeems wuz. Manys en manys de time,
continued the old man, reflectively, dat I hatter taken bresh dat
boy on accounter his buzin en beatin dem yuther boys. He went
off dar fer ter fight, en he fit. Ole Miss useter call me up Sunday
en read wat de papers say bout Mars Jeems, en it hope er up
mightly. I kin see er des like it uz yistiddy.
Remus, sez she, dish yers wat de papers say bout my baby, en
den shed read out twel she couldnt read fer cryin. Hit went on dis
way year in en year out, en dem wuz lonesome times, shos you
bawn, Miss Doshylonesome times, sho. Hit got hotter en hotter in
de war, en lonesomer en mo lonesomer at home, en bimeby long
come de conscrip man, en he des everlasnly scoop up Mars
Jeemss overseer. Wen dis come bout, ole Miss, she sont atter me
en say, sez she:
Remus, I aint got nobody fer ter look arter de place but you, sez
she, en den I upn say, sez I:
Mistiss, you kin des pen on de ole nigger.
I wuz ole den, Miss Doshylet lone wat I is now; en you better
bleeve I bossed dem hans. I had dem niggers up en in de fier long
fo day, en de way dey did wuk wuz a caution. Ef dey didnt earnt
der vittles dat season den I aint name Remus. But dey wuz tuk
keer un. Dey had plenty er cloze en plenty er grub, en dey wuz de
fattes niggers in de settlement.
Bimeby one day, Ole Miss, she call me up en say de Yankees
done gone en tuck Atlantydish yer vey town; den presenty I year
dey wuz a marchin on down todes Putmon, en, lo en beholesi one
day, de fus news I knowd, Mars Jeems he rid up wid a whole gang
er men. He des stop long nuff fer ter change hosses en snatch a
mouffle er sumpn ter eat, but fo he rid off, he call me up en say,
Daddyall Ole Misss chilluns call me daddyDaddy, he say,
pears like deres gwineter be mighty rough times roun yer. De
Yankees, dey er done got ter Madison en Mounticellar, en twont
be many days fo dey er down yer. Taint likely deyll pester
mother ner sister; but, daddy, ef de wus come ter de wus, I speck
you ter take keer un um, sezee.
Den I say, sez I: How long you bin knowin me, Mars Jeems? sez
S ence I wuz a baby, sezee.
Well, den, Mars Jeems, sez I, you knowd twant no use fer ter ax
me ter take keer Ole Miss en Miss Sally.
Den he tuckn squoze my han en jump on de filly I bin savin fer
im, en rid off. One time he tun roun en look like he wanter say
sumpn, but he des waf his hansoen gallop on. I knowd den dat
trouble wuz brewin. Nigger dat knows hes gwineter git thumped
kin sorter fix hissef, en I tuckn fix up like de war wuz gwineter
come right in at de front gate. I tuckn got all de cattle en hosses
tergedder en driv um ter de fo-mile place, en I tuck all de corn en
fodder en weat, en put urn in a crib out dar in de woods; en I bilt
me a pen in de swamp, en dar I put de hogs. Den, wen I fix all dis,
I put on my Sunday cloze en groun my axe. Two whole days I
groun dat axe. De grinestone wuz in sight er de gate en close ter
de big ouse, en dar I tuck my stan.
Bimeby one day, yer come de Yankees. Two un um come fus, en
den de whole face er de yeath swawmd wid urn. De fus glimpse I
kotch un um, I tuck my axe en march infer Ole Miss settin-room.
She done had de sidebode move in dar, en I wish I may drap ef
twuznt farly blazin wid silver-silver cups en silver sassers, silver
plates en silver dishes, silver mugs en silver pitchers. Look like ter
me dey wuz fixin fer a weddin. Dar sot Ole Miss des ez prim en
ez proud ez ef she own de whole county. Dis kinder hope me up,
kaze I done seed Ole Miss look dat away once befo wen de
overseer struck me in de face wid a wip. I sot down by de fier wid
my axe tween my knees. Dar we sot wiles de Yankees ransack de
place. Miss Sally, dar, she got sorter restless, but Ole Miss didnt
skasely bat er eyes. Bimeby, we hear steps on de peazzer, en yer
come a couple er young fellers wid strops on der shoulders, en der
sodes a draggin on de flo, en der spurrers a rattlin. I wont say I
wuz skeerd, said Uncle Remus, as though endeavoring to recall
something he failed to remember, I wont say I wuz skeerd, kaze I
wuzent; but I wuz tookn wid a mighty funny feelin in de
naberhood er de gizzard. Dey wuz mighty perlite, dem young
chaps wuz; but Ole Miss, she never tun er head, en Miss Sally, she
look straight at de fier. Bimeby one un urn see me, en he say,
Hello, ole man, wat you doin in yer? sezee.
Well, boss, sez I, I bin cuttin some wood fer Ole Miss, en I des
stop fer ter worn my hans a little, sez I.
Hit is cole, dats a fack, sezee.
Wid dat I got up en tuck my stan behime Ole Miss en Miss Sally,
en de man wat speak, he went up en worn his hans. Fus thing you
know, he raise up sudden, en say, sezee:
Wat dat on yo axe?
Dats de fier shinin on it, sez I.
Hit look like blood, sezee, en den he laft.
But, bless yo soul, dat man wouldnt never laft dat day ef hed
knowd de wukkins er Remuss mine. But dey didnt bodder nobody
ner tech nuthin, en bimeby dey put out. Well, de Yankees, dey kep
passin all de mawnin en it look like ter me dey wuz a string un
urn ten mile long. Den dey commence gittin thinner en thinner, en
den atter wile we hear skummishin in de naberhood er Armers
fey, en Ole Miss low how dat wuz Wheelers men makin persoot.
Mars Jeems wuz wid dem Wheeler fellers, en I knowd ef dey wuz
dat close I want doin no good settin roun de house toasn my
shins at de fier, so I des tuck Mars Jeernss rifle furn behime de do
en put out ter look atter my stock.
Seem like I aint never see no raw day like dat, needer befo ner
sence. Dey want no rain, but de wet des sifted down; mighty raw
day. De leaves on de groun uz so wet dey dont make no fuss, en I
got in de woods, en wenever I year de Yankees gwine by, I des
stop in my tracks en let un pass. I wuz stanin dat away in de aidge
er de woods lookin out cross a clearin, wenpiff!out come a little
bunch er blue smoke fum de top er wunner dem big lonesome-lookin pines, en denpow!
Sez I ter mysef, sez I: Honey, youer right on my route, en Ill des
see wat kinder bird you got roostin in you, en wiles I wuz a
lookin out bus de smokepiff! en denbang! Wid dat I des drapt
back inter de woods, en sorter skeerted roun sos ter git de tree
twixt me en de road. I slid up putty close, en wadder you speck I
see? Des ez shos youer settin dar lissenin dey wuz a live Yankee
up dar in dat tree, en he wuz a loadin en a shootin at de boys dez
ez cool es a coweumber in de jew, en he had his hoss hitch out in
de bushes, kaze I year de creetur tromplin roun. He had a
spy-glass up dar, en wiles I wuz a watchin un im, he raise er up
en look thoo er, en den he lay er down en fix his gun fer ter shoot.
I had good eyes in dem days, ef I aint got urn now, en way up de
big road I see Mars Jeems a comm. Hit wuz too fur fer ter see his
face, but I knowd im by de filly wat I raise fer im, en she wuz a
prancin like a school-gal. I knowd dat man wuz gwineter shoot
Mars Jeems ef he could, en dat wuz mon I could stan. Manys en
manys de time dat I nuss dat boy, en hilt im in dese arms, en toted
im on dis back, en wen I see dat Yankee lay dat gun cross a lim
en take aim at Mars Jeems I up wid my ole rifle, en shet my eyes
en let de man have all she had.
Do you mean to say, exclaimed Miss Theodosia, indignantly,
that you shot the Union soldier, when you knew he was fighting
for your freedom?
Cose, I know all about dat, responded Uncle Remus, en it sorter
made cole chills run up my back; but wen I see dat man take aim,
en Mars Jeems gwine home ter Ole Miss en Miss Sally, I des
disremembered all bout freedom en lammed aloose. En den atter
dat, me en Miss Sally tuck en nuss de man right straight along. He
los one arm in dat tree bizness, but me en Miss Sally we nuss im
en we nuss im twel he done got well. Des bout dat time I quit
nussn im, but Miss Sally she kep on. She kep on, continued
Uncle Remus, pointing to Mr. Huntingdon, en now dar he is.
But you cost him an arm, exclaimed Miss Theodosia.
I gin im dem, said Uncle Remus, pointing to Mrs. Huntingdon,
en I gin im dezeholding up his own brawny arms. En ef dern
aint nuff fer enny man den I done los de way.