About the Collection
“Stories Collected from Slaves” by Leonarda J. Aimar is a bound volume from the Agatha Aimar Simmons Papers, 1903-1962. Agatha Aimar was a local historian of Charleston, South Carolina, where she married T. Ritchie Simmons. In 1926, her mother, Leonarda Jacques Aimar, collected stories and reminiscences from formerly enslaved people. In her transcription, she attempted to capture the storytellers’ colloquial speech, now recognized as the Gullah language. The volume includes a list of addresses, occupations, and diseases of African Americans during their enslavement; an eye-witness account of the Battle of Secessionville on James Island during the Civil War in 1862; how enslaved people were returned to their slaveholders following the Revolutionary War; and an account of Sherman’s march from Savannah, Georgia to Charleston, South Carolina during the Civil War. A formerly enslaved man, Sam, provides a detailed account of being a butler, coachman, and horse jockey. He also recounts how Union Army Major Robert Anderson took control of Fort Sumter and the events that transpired there on April 12, 1861. Other accounts include an enslaved man’s recollections of his time as a servant to a plantation overseer who sympathized with the Union during the Civil War and formerly enslaved man Jim Alston’s detailed eye-witness account of the 1876 Cainhoy Riot.