In Last of the Pioneers: Or Old Times in East Tenn.,in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1902, John C. Webster describes the social changes that Pharaoh Jackson Chesney would have witnessed in his hometown of Clarksville, Virginia, interspersed with Chesney’s stories of his own life as an enslaved and then emancipated man. This narrative, along with other slave narratives, offer a composite portrait of authors’ self-styled personal stories. The amanuensis’ interests, lived experiences, and editing choices, as well as their social relations and expectations shaped the relationship and conversation with the authors. Although the narratives aren’t unmediated autobiographies, they are no less authentic and are just as fruitful a source for reconstructing historical experience. The following text contains racial epithets.