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A Negro Funeral

A Negro Funeral image
Parent Issue
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Not long sinee I tfas visiting one of he towns in upper South Carolina. I and a friend wero taking an afternoon troll into the adjoining country. We ïad procecded soino distanee, and were assing through a denso wood, when buddenly my companion stopped and ïervously inquired : " What's that P " '. eanio to a halt, and listened. A weird, inournful sound floated through he trees and reached our ears. It seemed to come only a short distance ; appeared to emanate from the copse on hc other side of the road. Wecrossed over, and followed, bent upon investigating what it was. We had searcely jained the opposite thicket when we lebonched into one of those country burial grounds which are to be found icar o cry hamlet in South Carolina. It wal a strange picture that met our sight, and one that belonged moro to keatben lands than to onr own civilized country. Thoro, around a newlymade rave, al)out twenty-üvc negroes were ollected. They all held hands, and were slowly moving to and fio, while hf walled forth urges, and at intervals wonld ejaculate wild, incoherent woffif. In the niidst of the circle, at he liead of the grave, an old woman at lm rocked baekward and forward. Ier eyea rolled wildly, and sho moved u a mechanica] way. This was the widow of the deceased, and it was her required part in the ceromony to loudly moan at appolnted intervals during the ginging. Something in this way their lymn sounded, as nearly as I could latcb the words : De white horse he rode, Wid de sickle in he hand, And slew down our brudder From umoiiR our earthly band. A inoan ! sister moan ! And here the widow would reintroduce her heathenish iucantations. These wore kept up for sorae time, when suddenly they eeased, and the negroes prostrated themselves upon the ground, wliile the ministor, a tall, very dark negro, stood and offered up a prayer. After the "amen" was ottered thov rose, and two of the number took from a basket near souie artiolea with which thoy decorated the grave, as if they were placing upon the tomb floral offerings. ïhey then slowly formed in procession and silently marched out of the inclosure. My friend and I, curfoas ti dooide what the peculiar mode of gravo docoration was, proceeded to the spot where an old man was shouldeiiog his spade to quit the place. 'Wliv, old man," said I, "what are thosf tliings they have left on the grave f Hottles, shoes, a jug! Why, what does it all mean?" ¦Woll, boss," said tho ebony gravedigger, witli an air of importance, "yon seo, we puts de artieles dat de departed brrdder uso to use on de grabe for to koop away do had tptfnits, and 1 'spose it is a sort ol 'speetttd way ob troating do momory ob de lost sister or brudder. You see, dars de lottle dat he take the medicine from when he be Mrk. And dars do jug, it had de last draai he draak 'fore he jinod de temperancfl meetin', an' de boots, I 'spose dey de shoes dat ee gwine to change for de golden slippers dat he put on when he jine de ban' up yander," and a beam of placid faith illuminated the old black face. It eertainly was a strange sight. Here wei'e numberless graves, all bearing the same picturesque decorations. Children's graves were covered with broken toys, tin horns, gaudily colored clay cats, dogs and owls. One mound was almost beat to the ground with age, and on it rested in dilapidation an old bat and theremnauts of a banjo, also a clay pipe and a coon skin. Near by them was the grave of a blacksniith, with the implements of his craft wedged in the ground, and rusty horseshoe formed a circle arouud the mound. Looking around the strange scène, it was difficult for mo to realizo that I was in a land of advancement andcivilization while surrounded by such relies of superstition and barbarism. 1 was forced to bclieve that tho negro instead of progressing in religious views, is daily evincing a tendency to fall back to fetichism and voudooism, his original form of worship. It prevails among the negroes, especially on the Islanda in the lowcr portion of the State. They do not, it is truc, give adorados to animáis, trees and stones, as the fetich worshipers did centuries aro. but the difiference is very slight


Ann Arbor Courier
Old News