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Former Slave Feels City Hasn’t Improved Much
(From the Courier-Journal, Louisville
Sunday Morning, January 7, 1934)

According to Aunt Patsy Alexander, who is “100 and some odd years old,” and a former slave, Louisville has not greatly improved in the past seventy years.

The women were more beautiful; the men more handsome; the summers were longer; both men and women’s clothes were more elegant; people were kinder and better and Louisville was more neighborly in that golden age of seventy years ago when Patsy’s children were playing in her yard.

Seated in the heat parlor of her home, 1225 Oldham Street, in the house she has occupied for more than sixty years, Aunt Patsy discussed olden times.

“You wouldn’t know Louisville was the same place,” she mourned. “I can remember when this house was in the center of a pretty woods. We had to carry water, a little piece, from where what is Tenth and Zane Street now. But that was no trouble. I had plenty of strong children to help me. I can remember when they first started those horse cars.”

Aunt Patsy is the matriarch of a large family. She had seventeen children, thirteen of whom she “raised to men and women.” Five of these children, George, Phillip, Eugenia, Betsy, and Lela are still living. Aunt Patsy has twenty-two grandchildren, twenty-six grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild.

“I was born on a farm near Danville something over 100 years ago,” she said. “A Mr.joshua Fry Lawrence owned me. I just don’t recollect much about my early years. I was hired out some and worked in the fields, cooked, washed, and ironed. I remember coming to Middletown in a stage long before the war. Then I came on to Louisville on a train.”

In her soft crooning voice, and with many flashes of wit, she related incidents as they crossed her mind.
She was a little hazy about dates, but vivid pictures came to her. She told of the soldiers with ‘cruel heavy’ knapsacks splashing through water; of pretty girls walking arm in arm up and down the street; of beautiful ‘decent’ clothes they wore; of the time a snake came down the chimney of the log cabin; of the “palace boats” on the river; of the “glorious sanctified” preaching in the woods, when, with the white folks’ permission, a circular space was cleared by falling trees, and the preacher preached “God’s word in God’s church.”

She recalled the time when Lincoln was assassinated.
“All Louisville was mourning and everything was dark.” Pointing to a picture occupying a conspicuous place over the mantel, she said: “See there is Lincoln being welcomed to Heaven.” A large picture with a background of voluminous clouds and winged angels with harps in the offing, showed an imposing angel stretching out his hand to another angel with the face of Lincoln.

The walls of the parlor and the mantel and the niches in the old-fashioned organ were covered with pictures of the members of Aunt Patsy’s large family. Her most treasured possession is a Bible that belonged to her father, who, she explained, was a preacher.
The only book Aunt Patsy can read is her father’s old Bible. She declares that no other print was recognizable to her. Turning the leaves in the century old edition, she said, “The devil used to be locked up in these pages, but now he is roaming the earth.”

Negro Woman, 112, Born In Slavery Dies

Daughter of a woman who lived to be 118 and believed to be the oldest person in the State, “Aunt” Patsy Alexander, Negro, 112, died at 10 a.m. Thursday at her home, 1225 Oldham. Patsy was born in slavery on the estate of James Hobson, Boyle County. In the last 100 years she missed church only twenty Sundays. Survivors include five children, nine grandchildren, thirty great-grandchildren, one great-great-grandchild. Funeral services will be at the Centennial Baptist Church at 3 p.m. Saturday with burial in Louisville Cemetery.






WINSTEAD,FRY,CLAY,GREATHOUSE AND ALEXANDER FAMILY TREE
Updated March 22, 2008

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k l winstead
kwinstead@insightbb.com


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