On the plantations of North Carolina, slaves were used to do the hard labor in the fields and tend to the crops. According to my informant, my friend’s grandfather, they were treated poorly and lived very hard lives. He told us the tale of a particular slave that got revenge on his master. As my informant relayed the story, the master killed the slave’s wife. The husband, knowing he couldn’t seek outright revenge on his master, decided to go to a conjure woman who cooked up a spell for him. The spell was put on the grapevine so that when the master drank the wine, he became very ill.
The master suffered greatly and eventually died from the illness. Unlike Tom Dooley, for example, the slave was patient and got his vengeance. He knew that he couldn’t be blamed for his master taking ill, but if he killed his master, he would be hunted and hung for the murder. This piece of folklore goes hand in hand with the old saying, “revenge is a dish best served cold.” There is no historical reference or facts to bolster this story, but it could have been created to serve as a tale of justice for the slaves–a tale they told for hope or motivation to continue enduring such hardships.