Mandy Oxendine
Lumbee American Indians

I have an ancestor named Amanda / Mandy Oxendine, born 1823 Jackson Co TN. Interestingly, back in 1896 a mulatto male named Charles W. Chestnutt wrote a book called "Mandy Oxendine" that was not published until quite recently. Maybe the story is based on her?

In the story set in the mid-1800s, Mandy Oxendine is a fair skinned mulatto. She moves to Sandy Run, a village near Rosinville, North Carolina with her mom after being "abandoned" by her boyfriend for two years. Mandy's hope is to "pass as white" and live amongst the white folk in Rosinville, and maybe even marry a white man. Unfortunately for Mandy, along comes Tom Lowrey, her ex-boyfriend who is also mulatto but who chooses to be known as black. Mandy and Tom had grown up together in a small town in North Carolina about 75 miles from Sandy Run. It turns out Tom went up north for two years to be educated and become worthy of her love.

Tom takes on a job as teacher of the black school in Rosinville, to be near Mandy. He can't talk openly to Mandy because, in this town, whites and blacks do NOT mix. Even the train station had a waiting room for whites only. Still, he finds Mandy and professes his love. Mandy is torn between Tom and her new beau, Robert Utley. But Robert is engaged to another. The love triangle causes all sorts of problems which the book works through to resolve.

It's very interesting (and disturbing) to see just how much the whites looked down on someone for having even a drop of black blood in them. You were either "fully white" or "not white / bad". In one exchange, Mandy is walking with a female friend. The friend spies Tom and says, "Oh Mandy, who you reckon that is? It's the nigger teacher down at Sandy Run. He looks like a white man, dno't he, Mandy?" Mandy replies, "Niggers is niggers and looks don't make 'em white." The girl promptly responds, "My mammy won't let me speak to no niggers."

What's even more interesting about this exchange is that the girls are speaking poorly, while Tom is very well educated and speaks very well. His skin is very fair. But because he has some black ancestors somewhere in his past, he's "bad" and not worthy of speaking to.

It's very hard to read through the "black speech" spoken by the negros in the book, which you would assume to be a true and accurate representation of how they talked back then. For example, one passage reads, "I reckon you's a bawn fool, Primus McAdoo, dat's w'at I does, comin' 'roun' yere, 'sturbin' a 'oman w'en she's gittin' her braekfas'. Mars' Bob'll be yellin' heah d'reckly, and 'is brekfus' won' be ready, an' yo'll be fer ter blame." It really makes you wish for an audio book version, so you can just hear the speech, without having to try to decipher the text and imitate it.

Still, a great book for understanding the life of mulattos of the south!

My Amanda / Mandy Oxendine
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Main Page for Oxendine Research

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David Oxendine ~1775
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Elizabeth Oxendine ~1839

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