Lot 8 of 457:
1877 NY travelling salesman observes Black life in rural Texas  

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Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyers Premium):$360
$300 - $500

New York patent medicine salesman in Texas, observes Black cotton-pickers and a Black baptism

Bullard, John

Jefferson, Texas


Oct. 28, 1877


Autograph Letter Signed. 4pp. To his uncle, E. S. Hughes, South Trenton, New York. With original mailing envelope. 

New York medicine salesman writes of his observations of blacks working in the fields of Texas growing wheat and vegetables and of a baptism of 23 blacks.

While driving a wagon loaded with patent medicines through the Texas countryside, Bullard, a young New Yorker, who had been dismayed the week before by the lynching of a Black prisoner, had already become accustomed to the racism in the small town of Jefferson, where white residents were “very friendly and…treat a northern man very nicely” – including the General Manger of his company, a former Confederate Army Colonel, and   a “gentleman in every sense of the word”. Bullard observed all the ”Darkies” -  “to use a moderate expression, as thick as hair on a dog” -  working in the fields picking cotton, as in slavery days, but now growing their own wheat and vegetables in poor soil, “barely enough to live on.” Together with a “great crowd” of white people, Bullard also witnessed the “amusing sight” of a Black baptism.

The Negroes, “along the line of the road…. were picking cotton. Each ‘Darkie’ is provided with a sack or bag that holds perhaps a half bushel. That is suspended by a strap across his shoulder. He picks it full and empties it into a large basket or sometimes a wagon. It is then taken to a Gin and the seeds taken out and then put in bails for market…” As for the “amusing” Negro religious ceremony,  after the baptized were “ducked” by the “Head Pusher” and his assistants in a a “sluggish stream that is as muddy as water in a Barnyard” (as well as “the abode of Alligators”), “there commences the fun. They of course had the ‘Power’ and they manifested it by throwing themselves in to all manner of shapes and hallowing ‘Whoopy’ loud and long, almost every one, and there were 23 went through with the same Tom Foolery and had to be carried away from the scene of action…”

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