What a surreal experience to read family centric, first person accounts of the same historical period from both sides of slavery — hearing the voice of the slave and the slave owner.
By way of a WPA Slave Narrative, my 4th uncle Pierce CODY (brother-cousin of Catie and Ailey) gives insight to my family’s daily work and spiritual life on Robert D. CODY’s plantation.
Bob CODY was the grandson of Edmund CODY. Pierce was owned by this line, as were most of my maternal Ancestors — Catie, Ailey II, Ailey I, Dicey (Dorothy) and Rachel. Uncle Pierce lived to be an old man, his narrative recorded May 8, 1937.
Me and My Folks is C.C.’s family journal, relaying Madison’s narrative and sharing his correspondence to family, friends and prominent politicians of the time. It’s intimate and often very uncomfortable for me to read.
Madison initially owned my paternal CODY Ancestors — Pierce’s father (my 5th Grandfather) Elbert, along with Rose, Grace, Rosetta and many others.
Though a Judge and Mayor of Covington Georgia, Madison D. CODY was first Warren County’s Secession Delegate. An original signer of Georgia’s Ordinance of Secession, on January 21, 1861, 153 years ago today, Madison wrote these words to his wife Fannie CARR CODY:
Jan. 21, 1861.
My dear Fannie:
* * * * *
The Ordinance of Secession was signed by the members to-day. They began, just at 12 o’clock and finished at 6′clock p.m. There are 301 delegates in the Convention and each had to sign his name. The signatures were made on parchment and afterwards the great seal of the State was affixed, and the instrument placed for safe keeping, among the archives, in the Executive Department.
I signed my name to the Ordinance with the same pen, with which I am now writing to you. I purchased it for that purpose and shall preserve it as a memento of that act. A large number of the delegates did the same thing as myself. In signing the Ordinance, I committed treason, which is a hanging offense, according offense, according to the laws of the United States. All the delegates but eight, have signed the Ordinance, and some of these will sign it later. * * * * *
The cannons have been thundering out the news of secession from the Capitol Hill since the Ordinance was signed. These old hills, round about here have been reverberating the cannon’s roar every day since I have been here. A large number, and perhaps the majority of the people of the State, are now rejoicing at the fact Georgia is out of the Union, but I have my fears that the consequences which will flow from it, will not be such as some anticipate. The experiment was an extremely hazardous one, to say the least of it. I honestly believe that if an effort had been made, in good faith, to obtain our rights and maintain our honor, the effort would have been successful. As the State agreed to secede, all good citizens should obey and aid heartily in building up another government, the best that can be made.
There will be a torchlight procession to-night, and a general jollification over the fact that Georgia is now an independent Republic.
* * * * *
It’s troubling on a human level to know a man this intelligent, with the fortitude to stand on the principles of rights and honor, did not see my CODY Ancestors as human.
To know by his own admission, following the end of the Civil War, Madison felt justified in organizing the Ku Klux Klan in Warren County to handle “the ignorant negro, but recently armed with the ballot“.
Madison Derrell CODY died in Covington, Georgia at the home of his brother-in-law, George W. CARR on January 25, 1875.
To my knowledge all family documents related to the CODYS slave holding history and Madison’s KKK involvement were destroyed prior to Claude Carr CODY’s relocation and appointment at Southwestern University in Texas.
There’s ABSOLUTELY NOTHING anyone will ever be able to say to convince me of the product of his times, well-intentioned and upright moral character of a slave owner. NOTHING.
I understand that’s a burden many have need to make peace with. I’m thankful, I do not.
- To Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil & Have My Say – Part II
- To Tell the Truth & Shame the Devil – Part I
- List of signers of the Georgia Ordinance of Secession – Wikipedia
- Image of Madison D. CODY 1858 Milledgeville, GA – Me & My Folks