A History Of Trinity County Texas, 1827 to 1928 Page: 26
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Following the practice of the older settled states, therefore,
the slaves were given a week's Christmas holidays, to be spent
in the free and easy life so peculiarly delightful to the race. Fol-
lowing a precedent handed down to them, they were allowed as
a holiday the length of time that a back-log would last in the fire-
place of the "big house," as the plantation owner's home was
This rule being followed, as it was in the case of these Trinity
County slaves, the native intelligence of the negro impressed
him with the need of a proper selection of the back-log. Uncle
Eph, the philosopher among the slaves, was usually selected to
prepare the back-log. For some weeks preceding the Christmas
time this philosopher was constantly on the outlook for the one
that he believed best adapted to withstand the ravages of the
fire. Usually a blackgum of large proportions was selected. In
some cases Uncle Eph was not very careful as to the ethics em-
ployed to increase the power of the log to resist the ravages of
the flames. A large auger was employed to bore holes in the cen-
ter. This was filled with water and a wooden pin was driven into
the hole. Of this cunning, as a rule, the old master was wise,
and it is needless to say that, as a rule, the back-log did not
usually last longer than from Christmas Eve until New Year's
morning. But, oh! the joyous times that these slaves got out of
this week; they were care free, with but little restraint, plenty
to eat and parties where they could all assemble; their joy was
The home of Pete, the field foreman of J. T. Evans, was one
of the places of their Christmas revelry. The scene is difficult to
visualize. From fifty to seventy five of these slaves would as-
semble for a night of festivity. The violins were brought, and in
fact almost anything else upon which music could be made was
to be found among them. The negro is a born musician, and while
some used the violin or the banjo ,others would use the bones,
clap their hands together, or pat their feet, all'in perfect har-
mony with the music of the stringed instruments. The dancing
might not be considered perfection as compared with the fancy
steps of the modern trepischorian art, but to the untutored
minds of these, not many generations remote from the jungles of
Africa, it was ideal.
Then as midnight approached, the feast was prepared. And
such a feast it was! Every sort of meat that the wilds afforded
was to be found. There were venison, wild turkey, ham from
razor-backs, killed from their native woods, and needless to say,
the orthodox chicken, for no negro festival was complete without
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Bowles, Flora Gatlin, 1881-. A History Of Trinity County Texas, 1827 to 1928, book, 1966; Groveton, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth61097/m1/30/: accessed November 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .