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WPA Slave Narratives
Edd Shirley of Monroe Co. Kentucky

Kentucky Slave Narratives

Monroe County. Folklore. (Lenneth Jones-242) [HW: Essay]

Uncle Edd Shirley (97): Janitor at Tompkinsville Drug Co. and Hospital, Tompkinsville, Ky. [TR: Information moved from bottom of page.]


I am 97 years old and am still working as janitor and support my family. My father was a white man and my mother was a colored lady. I was owned three different times, or rather was sold to three different families. I was first owned by the Waldens; then I was sold to a man by the name of Jackson, of Glasgow, Kentucky. Then my father, of this county, bought me.

I have had many slave experiences. Some slaves were treated good, and some were treated awful bad by the white people; but most of them were treated good if they would do what their master told them to do.

I onced saw a light colored gal tied to the rafters of a barn, and her master whipped her until blood ran down her back and made a large pool on the ground. And I have seen negro men tied to stakes drove in the ground and whipped because they would not mind their master; but most white folks were better to their slaves and treated them better than they are now. After their work in the fields was finished on Saturday, they would have parties and have a good time. Some old negro man would play the banjo while the young darkies would dance and sing. The white folks would set around and watch; and would sometimes join in and dance and sing.

My colored grand father lived to be 115 years old, and at that age he was never sick in his life. One day he picked up the water bucket to go to the spring, and as he was on his way back he dropped dead.

[Not sure if the next is Edd Shirley's narrative continued?]The Story of Mrs. C. Hood: Once upon a time during the Civil War my grandmother was alone with just one old faithful servant. The Union troops had just about taken everything she had, except three prize saddle horses and one coal clack mare which she rode all the time. She was very fond of the mare and valued it very much. One night my grandmother heard a noise, and called old Joe to go to the barn and see what was the matter. As he was nearing the barn someone yelled "Halt"; and Joe being a clack man and a servant, stopped just where he was. My grandmother, who had also heard the command, paid no attention whatsoever; she went straight through the dozen or more Union soldiers who were stealing her stock to the one who appeared to be the leader. He was holding her mare; she jerked the bridle from his hand, led her mare back to the kitchen door, where she held her the remainder of the night.

When my mother was a girl she was staying with some kinfolks for one month. These people owned several slaves and among them was one old manservant who was very old and had served out his usefulness. It was war time and food was scarce even for the white folks. The younger and stronger slaves got most of the food, and old Tom was always hungry. My mother finding this out, and feeling sorry for him would slip him broad and other food through a hole in the kitchen floor. A short time after this, my mother married and moved to a home of her own. Old Tom never forgot her kindness; and finally persuaded his master to give him to my mother, who kept him until his death.

1870 census - not found

1880 census - not found

1886 February 11 Marriage Bond - Edward Shirley to Sis Kirkpatrick at Monroe Co KY

1900 Monroe Co KY Census - West Tomkinsville

Edd Shirley b Dec 1858 [age 42] KY, KY, KY
Sis Shirley b June 1860 wife
Elen[ ] b May 1884 dau
Bell b Feb 1887 dau
Nellie b Aug 1891 dau

As Indexed in

Edd Shirley 41
Lis Shirley 40
Geneva K Shirley 16
Ball Shirley 13
Nellie Shirley 8

2 Feb 1908 Marriage - Nellie Shirley , age 26 dau of Edd Shirley and Sis Elizabeth Shirley she married J.R.B Gillinwater age 26, son of Ben Franklin and Mary Gillinwater on in Monroe Co KY

1908 Feb 23 - Marriage - Ed Shirley age 52 (b 1856) son of Bill Shirley and Belle Shirley to Genia Wade age 22 (b 1886), dau of John Wade and Tilda Pace at Monroe Co KY (She died 14 Apr 1933)

1910 Monroe Co KY Census - Tomkinsville

Ed Shirley age 54 (2nd marriage - married 2 years) Indian (Mulatto crossed out) b KY, KY, KY
Ginie L Shirley age 24 (1st marriage) [?] (Black crossed out)
James H Shirley age 8 Indian (Mulatto crossed out) son
O[ ] Odel? D. age 6 Indian (Mulatto crossed out) son

Note: An "Annie Shirley" age 46 b KY as head of HH, 2 houses down with daughter Margie age 18 in HH

1917 Monroe Co KY Death - Nellie Shirley dau of Ed Shirley and Noreis Kirkpatrick

1920 Monroe Co KY Census - West Tomkinsville PO

Ed Shirley age 58 [?] KY, KY, KY [is this the same person?]
G[]ia Shirley age 33 wife
O[]a Shirley age 16 son

1930 Monroe Co Census - West Tomkinsville

Ed Shirley 57 (sic) b KY
Genie Shirley 37 KY
Tildy Wade 70 KY mother in law

1940 Monroe Co KY Census - West Tomkinsville

Ed Shirley 84, Neg. widow; 0 yrs education b KY (owns house)

3 houses down

Andy Shirley 40, Neg, b about 1900 KY
Nellie 30
Douglas 9
Clarene 6
Annie Mae 4
Frank 1


Note: the certificate names his parents as Jim and Bell Shirley


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