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Their exodus took many routes: to the north; to the farms of relatives; to newly established African-American neighborhoods in Asheville and about; and back to the former slave-owners for jobs, sometimes as independents and sometimes as dependents.
Many freed slaves have moved into jobs as tenant farmers, nurses and maids. In April 1865, according to George Robertson’s “A Small Boy’s Recollections of the Civil War,” “hundreds and hundreds of the freedmen and women and children” passed through Asheville at war’s end “in an almost interminable procession,” singing and shouting, bound for freedom.
So, I’m going with the obituary and establishing Avery’s birth year as 1827.“Seated on the front porch with several of her grand-children near,” the reporter began his account of meeting Avery, “and with a faraway look in her eye, indicative of reveries, she was interrupted by a representative of The Citizen.”The bright-eyed old woman opened up with a few tales about Indians.
One named John had cheated her on a trade of her bread for his caught bird. Another had taught her how to use a bow and arrows.
Her own included the rich white people who made the transition from keeping slaves to hiring maids, nurses, laborers and skilled workers.
To her own babe, she might have sung, “Dat little gal was borned rich an free/She’s de sap from out a sugah tree/But you are jes as sweet to me/My little colored chile.”In 1866, as society convulsed, Avery focused on her own and her home.If she’d gone to Asheville at age 14, where had she lived, before she was taken to market, where she would have lived among Indians? Avery told the reporter about “seeing Indians encamped on Overlook Mountain (perhaps today’s Overlook Castle ridge) after she came to Asheville to live.” She also remembered giving watermelons to soldiers on their way to the war with Mexico. On the way back, the commander gave Avery’s oldest son, Robert, a Mexican dollar.