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Title: Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States - From Interviews with Former Slaves - Arkansas Narratives, Part 3
Author: Work Projects Administration
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  | TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE                                               |
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  Uncle Willie, Uncle Sam, Uncle Charlie, Squire Sabagen, Uncle Hick
  "_The Old South_"]

                            SLAVE NARRATIVES

            _A Folk History of Slavery in the United States_
                  _From Interviews with Former Slaves_

                      THE FEDERAL WRITERS' PROJECT
                              ASSEMBLED BY
                      FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

                     _Illustrated with Photographs_

                            WASHINGTON 1941

                               VOLUME II

                          ARKANSAS NARRATIVES

                                 PART 3

                    the Federal Writers' Project of
                   the Works Progress Administration
                       for the State of Arkansas


  Gadson, Charlie                                   1
  Gaines, Dr. D. B.                                 2
  Gaines, Mary                                      7
  Gant, William                                    11
  Genes, Mike                                      15
  Gibson, Jennie Wormly                            17
  Gill, James                                      19
  Gillam, Cora                                     27
  Gillespie, J. N.                                 34
  Glass, Will                                      38
  Glenn, Frank William                             42
  Glespie, Ella                                    44
  Golden, Joe                                      47
  Goodridge, Jake                                  53
  Goodson (Goodrum), John                          56
  Govan, George                                    63
  Grace, Julia                                     65
  Graham, Charles                                  67
  Graham, James                                    70
  Grant, Marthala                                  71
  Graves, Wesley                                   73
  Gray, Ambus                                      77
  Gray, Green                                      80
  Gray, Neely (Nely)                           82, 84
  Green, Henry (Happy Day)                     87, 90
  Greene, Frank                                   102
  Greene, George                                  104
  Gregory, Andrew                                 112
  Griegg, Annie                                   113
  Guess, William and Charlotte                    117
  Guidon, Lee                                     119

  Hadley, Linley                                  127
  Hall, Anna                                      129
  Hamilton, Ellie                                 131
  Hamilton, Josephine                        133, 136
  Hamilton, Peter                                 137
  Hampton, Lawrence                               139
  Hancock, Hannah                            142, 147
  Haney, Julia E.                                 149
  Hankins, Rachel                                 154
  Hardridge, Mary Jane                       157, 160
  Hardy, O. C.                                    161
  Hardy, Rosa                                     163
  Harper, Eda                           164, 166, 167
  Harris, Abram                                   168
  Harris, Betty                                   176
  Harris, Mary                                    177
  Harris, Rachel                             179, 181
  Harris, William                                 183
  Harrison, William                               185
  Hart, Laura                                     190
  Haskell, Hetty                                  193
  Hatchett, Matilda                               195
  Hawkens, John G.                                202
  Hawkens, Lizzie                                 205
  Hawkins, Becky                                  209
  Hawkins, G. W.                                  212
  Hays, Eliza                                     221
  Haynes, Tom                                     227
  Haywood, Joe                                    229
  Hervey, Marie E.                                231
  Hicks, Phillis                                  235
  Hicks, Will                                     237
  Higgins, Bert                                   238
  Hill, Annie                                     241
  Hill, Clark                      247, 249, 250, 251
  Hill, Elmira                                    252
  Hill, Gillie                                    256
  Hill, Harriett                                  258
  Hill, Hattie                                    262
  Hill, Oliver                                    264
  Hill, Rebecca Brown                             267
  Hill, Tanny                                     272
  Hines, Elizabeth                                273
  Hinton, Charles                            276, 279
  Hite, Ben                                       281
  Hodge, Betty                                    282
  Hollomon, Minnie                                285
  Holloway, H. B. (Dad or Pappy)                  287
  Holly, Pink                                     306
  Holmes, Dora                                    307
  Hopkins, Elijah Henry                           308
  Hopson, Nettie                                  317
  Horn, Molly                                     318
  Horton, Cora L.                                 321
  House, Laura                                    325
  Howard, Pinkey (Pinkie)                    326, 337
  Howell, Josephine                               339
  Howell, Pauline (Pearl)                         341
  Hudgens, Molly                                  345
  Huff, Charlie                                   347
  Huff, Louvenia                                  349
  Huggins, Anne                                   351
  Hulm, Margret                                   357
  Hunter, John                                    359
  Hunter, William                                 367
  Hutchinson, Ida Blackshear                      369

  Ishmon, Cornelia                                379
  Island, Jack and Talitha                   380, 382
  Island, Mary                                    389
  Isom, Henrietta                                 391


  The Old South                        _Frontispiece_

  --- -- 1937
  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Charlie Gadson
                      Brinkley, Arkansas
  Age: 67

"I was born in Barnwell County, South Carolina. My parents' name was
Jane Gadson, Aaron Gadson. My mother master was Mr. Owens. That is all I
ever knowed bout him. My father's master was Rivers and Harley Gadson.

"They said they was to get something but they moved on. At the ending of
that war the President of the United States got killed. They wouldn't
knowed they was free if they hadn't made some change. I don't know what
made them think they would get something at freedom less somebody told
them they would.

"I work at the oil mill and at sawmilling. I been farmin' mostly since I
been here. I got kidney trouble and rheumatism till I ain't no count. I
own a house and lot in Brinkley."

  Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
  Person interviewed: Dr. D. B. Gaines
                      1720 Izard Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
  Age: 75

"I was born in 1863 and am now seventy-five years old. You see,
therefore, that I know nothing experimentally and practically about

"I was born in South Carolina in Lawrence County, and my father moved
away from the old place before I had any recollection. I remember
nothing about it. My father said his master's name was Matthew Hunter.

"I was named for my father's master's brother, Dr. Bluford Gaines. My
name is Doctor Bluford Gaines. Of course, I am a doctor but my name is

"My father's family moved to Arkansas, in 1882. Settled near Morrilton,
Arkansas. I myself come to Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1885, October
eighth. Worked in the homes of white families for my board and entered
Philander Smith College October 8, 1885. Continued to work with Judge
Smith of the Arkansas Supreme Court until I graduated from Philander
Smith College. After graduating I taught school and was elected
Assistant Principal of the Little Rock Negro High School in 1891. Served
three years. Accumulated sufficient money and went to Meharry Medical
College, Nashville, Tennessee. Graduated there in 1896. Practiced for
five years in the city of Little Rock. Entered permanently upon the
ministry in 1900. Was called to the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church where
I have been pastoring for thirty-nine years the first Sunday in next

"The first real thing that made me switch from the medicine to the
ministry was the deep call of the ministry gave me more interest in the
Gospel than the profession of medicine furnished to me. In other words,
I discovered that I was a real preacher and not a real doctor.

"Touching slavery, the white people to whom my parents belonged were
tolerant and did not allow their slaves to be abused by patrollers and

"My mother's people, however, were sold from her in very early life and
sent to Alabama. My mother's maiden name was Harriet Smith. She came
from South Carolina too. Her old master was a Smith. My mother and
father lived on adjoining plantations and by permission of both
overseers, my father was permitted to visit her and to marry her even
before freedom. Out of regard for my father, his master bought my mother
from her master. I think my father told me that the old master called
them all together and announced that they were free at the close of the
War. Right after freedom, the first year, he remained on the farm with
the old master. After that he moved away to Greenville County, South
Carolina, and settled on a farm, with the brother-in-law of his old
master, a man named Squire Bennett. He didn't go to war.

"There was an exodus of colored people from South Carolina beginning
about 1880, largely due to the Ku Klux or Red Shirts. They created a
reign of terror for colored people in that state. He joined the exodus
in 1882 and came to Arkansas where from reports, the outlook seemed
better for him and his family. He had no trouble with the Ku Klux in
Arkansas. He maintained himself here by farming."


"It is my opinion that from a racial standpoint, the lines are being
drawn tighter due to the advancement of the Negro people and to the
increased prejudice of the dominant race. These lines will continue to
tighten until they somehow under God are broken. We believe that the
Christian church is slowly but surely creating a helpful sentiment that
will in time prevail among all men.

"It appears from a governmental standpoint that the nation is doomed
sooner or later to crash. Possibly a changed form of government is not
far ahead. This is due to two reasons: (1) greed, avarice, and
dishonesty on the part of public people; (2) race prejudice. We believe
that the heads of the national government have a far vision. The
policies had they been carried out in keeping with the mind of the
President, would have worked wonders in behalf of humanity generally.
But dishonesty and greed of those who had the carrying out of these
policies has destroyed their good effect and the fine intentions of the
President who created them. It looks clear that neither the Democratic
nor the Republican party will ever become sufficiently morally righteous
to establish and maintain a first-class humanitarian and unselfish

"It is my opinion that the younger generation is headed in the wrong
direction both morally and spiritually. This applies to all races. And
this fact must work to the undoing of the government that must soon fall
into their hands, for no government can well exist founded upon graft,
greed, and dishonesty. It seems that the younger group are more
demoralized than the younger group were two generations ago. Thus the
danger both to church and state. Unless the church can catch a firmer
grip upon the younger group than it has, the outlook is indeed gloomy.

"We are so far away from the situation of trouble in Germany, that it is
difficult to know what it is or should be. But one thing must be
observed--that any wholesale persecution of a whole group of people must
react upon the persecutors. There could no cause arise which would
justify a governmental power to make a wholesale sweep of any great
group of people that were weak and had no alternative. That government
which settles its affairs by force and abuse shows more weakness than
the weak people which it abuses.

"We need not think that we are through with the job when we kill the
weaker man. No cause is sufficient for the destruction of seven hundred
thousand people, and no persecutor is safe from the effects of his own

Interviewer's Comment

The house at 1720 Izard is the last house in what would otherwise be
termed a "white" block. There appears to be no friction over the matter.

Note that if you were calling Dr. Gaines by his professional title and
his first name at the same time, you would say Dr. Doctor Bluford
Gaines. He has attained proficiency in three professions--teaching,
medicine, and the ministry.

Dr. Gaines is poised in his bearing and has cultured tastes and
surroundings--neat cottage, and simple but attractive furnishings.

He selects his ideas and words carefully, but dictates fluently. He
knows what he wants to say, and what he omits is as significant as what
he states.

He is the leader type--big of body, alert of mind, and dominant. It is
said that he with two other men dominated Negro affairs in Arkansas for
a considerable period of time in the past. He does not give the
impression of weakness now.

Despite his education, contacts, and comparative affluence, however, his
interview resembles the type in a number of respects--the type as I have
found it.

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Mary Gaines
                      Brinkley, Arkansas
  Age: Born 1872

"I was born in Courtland, Alabama. Mother was twelve years old at the
first of the surrender.

"Grandfather was a South Carolinian. Master Harris bought him, two more,
his brothers and two sisters and his mother at one time. He was real
African. Grandma on mother's side was dark Indian. She had white hair
nearly straight. I have some of it now. Mother was lighter. That is
where I gets my light color.

"Master Harris sold mother and grandma. Mother said she was fat, tall
strong looking girl. Master Harris let a Negro trader have grandma,
mother and her three brothers. They left grandpa. Master Harris told the
nigger traders not divide grandma from her children. He didn't believe
in that. He was letting them go from their father. That was enough
sorrow for them to bear. That was in Alabama they was auctioned off.
Master Harris lived in Georgia. The auctioneerer held mother's arms up,
turned her all around, made her kick, run, jump about to see how nimble
and quick she was. He said this old woman can cook. She has been a good
worker in the field. She's a good cook. They sold her off cheap. Mother
brought a big price. They caught on to that. The man nor woman wasn't
good to them. I forgot their names what bought them. The nigger traders
run her three brothers on to Mississippi. The youngest one died in
Mississippi. They never seen the other two or heard of them till after
freedom. They went back to Georgia. All of them went back to their old
home place.

"In Alabama at this new master's home mother was nursing. Grandma and
another old woman was the cooks. Mother went to their little house and
told them real low she had the baby and a strange man in the house said,
'Is that the one you goiner let me have?' The man said, 'Yes, he's
goiner leave in the morning b'fore times.'

"The new master come stand around to see when they went to sleep. That
night he stood in the chimney corner. There was a little window; the
moon throwed his shadow in the room. They said, 'I sure do like my new
master.' Another said, 'I sure do.' The other one said, 'This is the
best place I ever been they so good to us.' Then they sung a verse and
prayed and got quiet. They heard him leave, seen his shadow go way.
Heard his house door squeak when he shut his door. Then they got up easy
and dressed, took all the clothes they had and slipped out. They walked
nearly in a run all night and two more days. They couldn't carry much
but they had some meat and meal they took along. Their grub nearly give
out when they come to some camps. Somebody told them, 'This is Yankee
camps.' They give them something to eat. They worked there a while. One
day they took a notion to look about and they hadn't gone far 'fore
Grandpa Harris grabbed grandma, then mama. They got to stay a while but
the Yankees took them to town and Master Harris come got them and took
them back. Their new master come too but he said his wife said bring the
girl back but let that old woman go. Master Harris took them both back
till freedom.

"When freedom come folks shout and knock down things so glad they was
free. Grandpa come back. Master Harris said, 'You can have land if you
can get anything to work.' Grandpa took his bounty he got when he left
the army and bought a pair of mules. He had to pay rent the third year
but till then he got what they called giving all that stayed a start.

"Grandma was Mariah and grandpa was Ned Harris. The two boys come back
said the baby boy died at Selma, Alabama.

"Grandpa talked about the War when I was a child. He said he was in the
Battle of Corinth, Mississippi. He said blood run shoe mouth deep in
places. He didn't see how he ever got out alive. Grandma and mama said
they was glad to get away from the camps. They looked to be shot several
times. Colored folks is peace loving by nature. They don't love war.
Grandpa said war was awful. My mother was named Lottie.

"One reason mother said she wanted to get away from their new master, he
have a hole dug out with a hoe and put pregnant women on their stomach.
The overseers beat their back with cowhide and them strapped down. She
said 'cause they didn't keep up work in the field or they didn't want to
work. She didn't know why. They didn't stay there very long. She didn't
want to go back there.

"My life has never been a hard one. I have always worked. Me and my
husband run a cafe till he got drowned. Since then I have to work
harder. I wash and iron, cook wherever some one comes for me. When I was
a girl I was so much like mother--a fast, strong hand in the field, I
always had work.

"Mother said, 'Eat the beans and greens, pot-liquor and sweet milk, make
you fat and lazy.' That was what they put in the children's wooden trays
in slavery. They give the men and women meat and the children the broth
and dumplings, plenty molasses. Sunday mother could cook at home in
slavery if she'd 'tend to the baby too. All the hands on Harrises place
et dinner with their family on Sunday. He was fair with his slaves.

"For the life of me I can't see nothing wrong with the times. Only thing
I see, you can't get credit to run crops and folks all trying to shun
farming. When I was on a farm I dearly loved it. It the place to raise
young black and white both. Town and cars ruined the country."

Interviewer's Comment

Owns two houses in among white people.

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: William Gant
                      Forrest City, Arkansas
  Age: 101

"I was one hundred and one years old last Saturday (1938). I was born in
Bedford County, middle Tennessee. My parents' names was Judy and Abraham
Gant. They had the same master. They had three boys and two girls. Our
owners was Jim Gant and Elizabeth Gant. Ma had seven children, four gals
and three boys. We called her Miss Betsy. Jim Gant owned seven hundred
acres of good land in one body and some more land summers else. My young
masters and mistresses was: Malindy, Jennie, Betsy, Mary, Jim, John,
Andy. They had twenty-five or thirty slaves I knowed. He was pretty good
to his slaves. He didn't whoop much. Give 'em three or four licks. He
fed 'em all well. We had warm clothes in winter.

"I never seen nobody sold. My brothers and sisters was divided out. Miss
Betsy was my young mistress. I could go to see all my folks. I never
seen no hard times in my life. I had to work or be called lazy. I loved
to work. I been in the field when the sun come up and got part my
ploughing done. Go back to the house and eat and feed my mule, rest
around in the shade. Folks didn't used to dread work so bad like they do
now. I lay down and rest in the heat of the day. They had big shade
trees for us niggers to rest under, eat under, spring water to drink.
I'd plough till smack dark I couldn't see to get to the barn. We had
lighted knots to feed by. The feed be in the troughs and water in the
big trough in the lot ready. My supper would be hot too. It would be all
I could eat too. Yes, I'd be tired but I could sleep till next morning.

"We had big todoos along over the country. White and black could go
sometimes. Picnics and preachings mostly what I went to. Sometimes it
was to a house covering, a corn shucking, a corn shelling, or log
rolling. We went on hunts at night some.

"Sassy (saucy) Negroes got the most licks. I never was sassy. I never
got but a mighty few licks from nobody. We was slaves and that is about
all to say.

"I learned to fiddle after the fiddler on the place. Uncle Jim was the
fiddler. Andy Jackson, a white boy, raised him. He learned him to read
and write in slavery. After slavery I went to learn from a Negro man at
night. I learned a little bit. My master wouldn't cared if we had
learned to read and write but the white folks had tuition school. Some
had a teacher hired to teach a few of them about. I could learned if I'd
had or been 'round somebody knowed something. He read to us some. He
read places in his Bible. Anything we have and ask him. We didn't have
books and papers. I loved to play my fiddle, call figures, and tell
every one what to do. I didn't take stock in reading and writing after
the War.

"My parents had the name of being a good set of Negroes. She was raised
by folks named Morrow and pa by folks named Strahorn. When ma was a
little gal the Morrows brought her to Tennessee. My parents both raised
in South Carolina by the Morrows and Strahorns. I was twenty years old
in the War.

"They had a big battle seven or eight miles from our homes. It started
at daylight Sunday morning and lasted till Monday evening. I think it
was Bragg and Buel. The North whooped. It was a roar and shake and we
could hear the big guns plain. It was in Hardin County close to
Savannah, Tennessee. It was times to be scared. We was all distressed.

"My master died, left her a widow.

"We farmed, made thirty or forty acres of wheat, seventy-five acres of
oats, some rye. I pulled fodder all day and take it down at night while
the dew would keep it in the bundle. Haul it up. We was divided out when
the War was on.

"Somebody killed Master Jim Gant. He was murdered in his own house. They
never did know who done it. They had two boys at home. One went
visiting. They knocked her and the boy senseless. It was at night. They
was all knocked in the head.

"Will Strahorn owned my wife. He was tolerable good to his Negroes.
Edmond Gant was a black preacher in slavery. He married us. He married
us in white folks' yard. They come out and looked at us marry. I had to
ask my master and had to go ask for her then. Our children was to be
Strahorn by name. Will would own them 'cause my wife belong to him. My
first wife had five girls and three boys. My wife died. I left both my
two last wives. I never had no more children but them eight.

"Freedom--my young master come riding up behind us. We was going in
dragging our ploughs. He told us it was freedom. The Yankees took
everything. We went to Murray County to get my horse. I went off the
next day. The Yankees stayed in Lawrence County. The Yankees burnt Tom
Greenfield out. Tom and Jim had joining farms. They took everything he
had. Took his darkies all but two girls. He left. Jim was good and they
never went 'bout him. Jim stayed at home. I went over there. He put me
on his brother's place.

"I come to Arkansas by train. I come to Jackson, Tennessee, then to
Forrest City, brought my famlee. My baby child is grown and married.

"The Ku Klux never bothered me. It was a mighty little I ever seen of

"I never have had a hard time. I have worked hard. I been ploughing,
hoeing, cradling grain, picking cotton all my life. I love to plough and
cradle grain. I love to work.

"There is a big difference now and the way I was raised up. They used to
be whooped and made mind. They learned how to work. Now the times run
away from the people. They used to buy what they couldn't raise in
barrels. Now they buy it in little dabs. I ain't used to it. White folks
do as they pleases and the darkies do as they can. Everybody greedy as
he can be it seem like to me. Laziness coming on more and more every
year as they grow up. I ain't got a lazy bone in me. I'm serving and
praising my Lord every day, getting ready to go over in the next

  JAN 14 1938
  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Mike Genes
                      Holly Grove, Ark.
  Age: 72

"I heard folks talk is all I know bout slavery. I was born in Arkansas.
My mother was Sara Jane Whitley. My father was ____ Genes. My mother
came here from Tennessee wid Henderson Sanders. I was raised on the
Duncan place. My mother raised us a heap like old times. I got fire
tongs now she had. She made ash cakes and we had plenty milk. I got her
old pot hooks too. She cooked cracklin' bread in the winter and black
walnut bread the same way. We made palings and boards for the houses and
barns. Jes gradually we gittin' away from all that. Times is changing so

"I heard 'em say in slavery they got 'em up fore day and they worked all
day. Some didn't have much clothes. I can remember three men twisting
plow lines. They made plow lines.

"I vote if I have a chance, but I really don't care bout it. I don't
know how to keep up to vote like it ought to be.

"This young generation may change but if they don't they air a knock
out. They do jes anyway and everyway. They don't save and cain't save it
look like, way we got things now. Folks don't raise nothin' and have to
buy so much livin' is hard. Folks all doin fine long as the cotton is to
pick. This is two reconstructions I been through. Folks got used to
work after that other one and I guess they have to get used to work
this time till it get better. I don't know what causes this spell of
hard times after the wars."

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Jennie Wormly Gibson
                      Biscoe, Arkansas
  Age: 49

"Gran'ma was Phoebe West. Mama was Jennie West. Mama was a little girl
when the Civil War come on. She told how scared her uncle was. He didn't
want to go to war. When they would be coming if he know it or get
glimpse of the Yankee soldiers, he'd pick up my mama. She was a baby.
He'd run for a quarter of a mile to a great big tree down in the field
way back of the place off the road. He never had to go to war. Ma said
she was little but she was scared at the sight of them clothes they
wore. Mama's and grandma's owners lived at Vicksburg a lot of the time
but where that was at Washington County, Mississippi. They had lots of

"Grandma was a midwife and doctored all the babies on the place. She
said they had a big room where they was and a old woman kept them. They
et milk for breakfast and buttermilk and clabber for supper. They always
had bread. For dinner they had meat boiled and one other thing like
cabbage, and the children got the pot-liquor. It was brought in a cart
and poured in wooden troughs. They had gourds to dip it out with. They
had gourds to drink their cool spring water with.

"Daylight would find the hands in the field at work. Grandma said they
had meat and bread and coffee till the war come on. They had to have a
regular meal to work on in the morning.

"Grandma said their something to eat got mighty slim in war times and
kept getting slimmer and slimmer. They had plenty sorghum all the time.
Them troughs was hewed out of a log and was washed and hung in the sun
till next mealtime. They cooked in iron pots and skillets on the fire.
Grandma worked where they put her but her main trade was seeing after
the sick on that place.

"They had a fiddler on the place and had big dances now and then.

"This young generation won't be advised no way you can fix it. I don't
know what in the world the folks is looking about. The folks ain't good
as they used to be. They shoots craps and drinks and does low-down
things all the time. I ain't got no time with the young generation.
Times gone to pieces pretty bad if you axing me."

  Interviewer: Watt McKinney
  Person interviewed: James Gill
                      R.F.D. Marvell, Arkansas
  Age: 86
  Occupation: Farmer

"Uncle Jim" Gill, an ex-slave eighty-six years of age, owns a nice two
hundred acre farm five miles north of Marvell where he has lived for the
past thirty-five years. "Uncle Jim" is an excellent citizen, prosperous
and conservative and highly respected by both white and colored. This is
molasses making time in the South and I found "Uncle Jim" busily engaged
in superintending the process of cooking the extracted juice from a
large quantity of sorghum cane. The familiar type of horse-power mill in
which the cane is crushed was in full operation, a roaring fire was
blazing in the crudely constructed furnace beneath the long pan that
contained the furiously foaming, boiling juice and that "Uncle Jim"
informed me was "nigh 'bout done" and ready to drain off into the huge
black pot that stood by the side of the furnace. The purpose of my visit
was explained and "Uncle Jim" leaving the molasses making to some
younger Negro accompanied me to the shade of a large oak tree that stood
near-by and told me the following story:

"My ole mars, he was name Tom White and my young mars what claimed me,
he was name Jeff. Young mars an' me was just 'bout same age. Us played
together from time I fust riccolect till us left de ole home place back
in Alabama and lit out for over here in Arkansas.

"Ole mars, he owned a heap of niggers back dere where us all lived on de
big place but de lan', it was gittin' poor an' red and mought near wore
out; so ole mars, he 'quired a big lot of lan' here in Arkansas in
Phillips County, but you know it was all in de woods den 'bout fifteen
miles down de ribber from Helena and just thick wid canebrakes. So he
sont 'bout twenty famblies ober here end dats how us happened to come
'cause my pappy, he was a extra blacksmith and carpenter and ole mars
knowed he gwine to haf to hab him to 'sist in buildin' de houses and
sich like.

"Though I was just 'bout seben year ole den, howsomeever, I 'member it
well an' I sure did hate to leave de ole home where I was borned and I
didn' want leave Mars Jeff either and when Mars Jeff foun' it out 'bout
'em gwine take me he cut up awful and just went on, sayin' I his nigger
and wasn't gwine 'way off to Arkansas.

"Ole mars, he knowed my mammy and pappy, dey wasn't gwine be satisfied
widout all dere chillun wid 'em, so en course I was brung on too. You
see, ole mars and he fambly, dey didn' come and we was sont under de
oberseer what was name Jim Lynch and us come on de train to Memphis and
dat was when I got so skeered 'cause I hadn' nebber seen no train 'fore
den an' I just hollered an' cried an' went on so dat my mammy say if I
didn' hush up she gwine give me to de paddy rollers.

"Dey put us on de steamboat at Memphis and de nex' I 'member was us
gittin' off at de landin'. It was in de winter time 'bout las' of
January us git here and de han's was put right to work clearin' lan' and
buildin' cabins. It was sure rich lan' den, boss, and dey jus' slashed
de cane and deaden de timber and when cotton plantin' time come de cane
was layin' dere on de groun' crisp dry and day sot fire to it and burned
it off clean and den planted de crops.

"Ole mars, he would come from Alabama to see 'bout de bizness two an'
three times every year and on some of dem 'casions he would bring Mars
Jeff wid him and Mars Jeff, he allus nebber failed to hab somethin' for
me, candy and sich like, and dem times when Mars Jeff come was when we
had de fun. Us just run wild playin' and iffen it was in de summer time
we was in de bayou swimmin' or fishin' continual but all dem good times
ceasted atter a while when de War come and de Yankees started all dere
debbilment. Us was Confedrits all de while, leastwise I means my mammy
an' my pappy and me an' all de res' of de chillun 'cause ole mars was
and Mars Jeff would er fit 'em too and me wid him iffen we had been ole

"But de Yankees, dey didn' know dat we was Confedrits, dey jus' reckon
we like most all de res' of de niggers. Us was skeered of dem Yankees
though 'cause us chillun cose didn' know what dey was and de oberseer,
Jim Lynch, dey done tole us little uns dat a Yankee was somepin what had
one great big horn on he haid and just one eye and dat right in de
middle of he breast and, boss, I sure was s'prized when I seen a sure
'nough Yankee and see he was a man just like any er de res' of de folks.

"De war tore up things right sharp yit an' still it wasn't so bad here
in Arkansas as I hear folks tell it was back in de yolder states like
Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia. De bes' I riccolect de Yankees come in
here 'bout July of de year and dey had a big scrap in Helena wid 'em and
us could hear de cannons fifteen miles off and den dey would make dere
trips out foragin' for stuff, corn and sich, and dey would take all de
cotton dey could fin', but our mens, dey would hide de cotton in de
thickets an' canebrakes iffen dey had time or either dey would burn it
up 'fore de Yankees come if dey could. I 'member one day we had on han'
'bout hundred bales at de gin and a white man come wid orders to de
oberseer to git rid of it, so dey started to haulin' it off to de woods
and dey hauled off 'bout fifty bales and den dey see dey wasn't goin' to
hab time to git de res' to de woods and den dey commenced cuttin' de
ties on de bales so dey could set fire to dem dat dey hadn' hid yit and
'bout dat time here come one of Mr. Tom Casteel's niggers just a flyin'
on a mule wid a letter to de white man. Mr. Tom Casteel, he had he place
just up de ribber from us, on de island, and when he gived de letter to
de man an de man read it, he said de Yankees is comin' and he lit out
for de ribber where de boat was waitin' for him and got 'way and dere
was all dat loose cotton on de groun' and us was skeered to sit fire to
de cotton den and 'bout dat time de Yankees arive and say don' you burn
dat cotton and dey looked all ober de place and find de bales dat was
hid in de woods and de nex' day dey come and haul it off and dey say us
niggers can hab dat what de ties been cut on and my mammy, she set to
work and likewise de odder women what de Yankees say can had de loose
cotton and tie up all dey can in bags and atter dat us sold it to de
Yankees in Helena for a dollar a poun' and dat was all de money us had
for a long time.

"How-some-ever us all lived good 'cause dere was heap of wild hogs an'
'possums and sich and we had hid a heap of corn and us did fine.
Sometimes de war boats, dey would pass on de ribber--dat is de Yankee
boats--and us would hide 'hind de trees and bushes and see dem pass. We
wouldn't let dem see us though 'cause we thought dey would shoot. Heap
en heap er times sojers would come by us place. When de Yankees ud come
dey would ax my mammy, 'Aunt Mary, is you seen any Se-cesh today?' and
mammy, she ud say 'Naw suh' eben iffen she had seen some of us mens, but
when our sojers ud come and say, 'Aunt Mary, is you seen ary Yankee
'round here recent?' she ud allus tell dem de truf. Dey was a bunch of
us sojers, dat is de Confedrits, what used to stay 'round in de
community constant, dat we knowed, but dey allus had to be on de dodge
'cause dere was so many more Yankees dan dem.

"Some of dese men I 'member good 'cause dey was us closest neighbors and
some of dem libed on 'j'ining places. Dere was Mr. Lum Shell, Mr. Tom
Stoneham, Mr. Bob Yabee, Mr. Henry Rabb and Mr. Tom Casteel. Dem I
'member well 'cause dey come to us cabin right of'en and mammy, she ud
cook for 'em and den atter de niggers git dey freedom dey could leave de
place any time dey choose and every so of'en mammy ud go to Helena and
gin'rally she took me wid her to help tote de things she get dere. Ole
Mr. Cooledge, he had de biggest and 'bout de onliest store dat dere was
in Helena at dat time. Mr. Cooledge, he was a ole like gentleman and had
everything most in he store--boots, shoes, tobacco, medicine en so on.
Cose couldn't no pusson go in an' outen Helena at dat time--dat is
durin' war days--outen dey had a pass and de Yankee sojer dat writ de
passes was named Buford en he is de one what us allus git our passes
from for to git in en out and 'twasn't so long 'fore Mr. Buford, he git
to know my mammy right well and call her by her name. He, just like all
de white mens, knowed her as 'Aunt Mary', but him nor none of de Yankees
knowed dat mammy was a Confedrit and dats somepin I will tell you, boss.

"Dese sojers dat I is just named and dat was us neighbors, dey ud come
to our cabin sometimes en say, 'Aunt Mary, we want you to go to Helena
for us and git some tobacco, and mebbe some medicine, and so on, and we
gwine write ole man Cooledge er note for you to take wid you'; and mammy,
she ud git off for town walking and ud git de note to ole man Cooledge.
Ole man Cooledge, you see, boss, he sided wid de Confedrites too but he
didn' let on dat he did but all de Confedrit sojers 'round dar in de
county, dey knowed dey could 'pend on him and when my mammy ud take de
note in ole man Cooledge, he ud fix mammy up in some of dem big, wide
hoop skirts and hide de things 'neath de skirts dat de men sont for. Den
she and sometimes me wid her, us would light out for home and cose we
allus had our pass and dey knowed us and we easy git by de pickets and
git home wid de goods for those sojer men what sont us.

"Speakin' from my own pussonal 'sperience, boss, de niggers was treated
good in slavery times, dat is dat was de case wid my mars' peoples. Our
mars wouldn't hab no mistreatment of his niggers but I'ze heered tell
dat some of de mars was pretty mean to dere niggers, but twasn't so wid
us 'cause us had good houses and plenty somepin to eat outen de same pot
what de white folks' victuals cooked in and de same victuals dat dey
had. You see dat ole kittle settin' ober dar by de lasses pan right now?
Well, I is et many a meal outen dat kittle in slavery times 'cause dat
is de very same kittle dat dey used to cook us victuals in when us
belonged to ole mars, Tom White, and lived on he place down on de
ribber. It was den, boss, just same wid white men as 'tis in dis day and
time. Dere is heap of good white folks now and dere is a heap of dem
what ain't so good. You know dat's so, boss, don't you?

"When de niggers been made free, de oberseer, he called all de peoples
up and he says, 'You all is free now and you can do like you please. You
can stay on here and make de crops ur you can leave which-some-ever you
want to do.' And wid dat de niggers, dat is most of dem, lef' like when
you leave de lot gate open where is a big litter of shotes and dey just
hit de road and commenced to ramble. Most of 'em, dey go on to Helena
and gits dey grub from de Yankees and stay dar till de Yankees lef'.

"But us, we stay on de place and some more, dey stay too and you know,
boss, some of dem niggers what belonged to old mars and what he was so
good to, dey stole mighty nigh all de mules and rode dem off and mars,
he never git he mules back. Naw suh, dat he didn'. De war, it broke ole
mars up and atter de surrender he jus' let he Arkansas farm go an'
never come back no more. Some of de older peoples, dey went back to
Alabama time er two and seen ole mars but I nebber did git to see him
since us was sot free. But Mars Jeff, he comed here all de way from de
home in Alabama way atter he was growed. It's been 'bout fifty year now
since de time he was here and I sure was proud to see him, dat I was,
boss, 'cause I sure did love Mars Jeff and I loves him yit to dis day
iffen he still lives and iffen he daid which I ain't never heered er
not, den I loves and 'spects he memory.

"Yas suh, boss, times is changed sure 'nough but like I 'splained 'bout
white folks and it's de same wid niggers, some is good and trys to lib
right en some don' keer and jus' turns loose en don' restrain demselves.

"You know, boss, dere is heaps of niggers wid white blood in 'em and dat
mess was started way back yonder I reckon 'fore I was ever borned.
Shucks, I knowed it was long afore den but it wasn't my kine er white
folks what 'sponsible for dat, it was de low class like some of de
oberseers and den some of de yother folks like for instance de furriners
what used to come in de country and work at jobs de mars ud give 'em to
do on the places like carpentrying an' sich. I knowed one bad case,
boss, dat happened right dere by us place and dat was de oberseer who
'sponsible for dat and he was de oberseer for a widow oman what lived in
Helena and dis white man runned de place an' he hab he nigger oman and
she de mama of 'bout six chillun by dis man I tellin' you 'bout, three
gals and three boys, and dem chillun nigh 'bout white and look just like
him and den he move off to some yother part of de county and he git
married dere to a white oman but he take he nigger fambly wid him just
de same and he built dem a house in de middle of de place he done bought
and he keep 'em dere eben though he done got him a white wife who he lib
wid also and, boss, since I done told you he name don't tell I said so
'cause de chillun, dey is livin' dere yet and some of dem is gettin' old
deyselves now but, boss, I don't 'spect I is tellin' you much you don't
already know 'bout dat bunch."

  Interviewer: Beulah Sherwood Hagg
  Person interviewed: Mrs. Cora Gillam
                      1023 Arch Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
  Age: 86
  [HW: [Scratching Pacified Master.]]

"I have never been entirely sure of my age. I have kept it since I was
married and they called me fifteen. That was in '66 or '67. Anyhow, I'm
about 86, and what difference does one year make, one way or another. I
lived with master and mistress in Greenville, Mississippi. They didn't
have children and kept me in the house with them all the time. Master
was always having a bad spell and take to his bed. It always made him
sick to hear that freedom was coming closer. He just couldn't stand to
hear about that. I always remember the day he died. It was the fall of
Vicksburg. When he took a spell, I had to stand by the bed and scratch
his head for him, and fan him with the other hand. He said that
scratching pacified him.

"No ma'am, oh no indeedy, my father was not a slave. Can't you tell by
me that he was white? My brother and one sister were free folks because
their white father claimed them. Brother was in college in Cincinnati
and sister was in Oberlin college. My father was Mr. McCarroll from
Ohio. He came to Mississippi to be overseer on the plantation of the
Warren family where my mother lived. My grandmother--on mother's side,
was full blood Cherokee. She came from North Carolina. In early days my
mother and her brothers and sisters were stolen from their home in North
Carolina and taken to Mississippi and sold for slaves. You know the
Indians could follow trails better than other kind of folks, and she
tracked her children down and stayed in the south. My mother was only
part Negro; so was her brother, my uncle Tom. He seemed all Indian. You
know, the Cherokees were peaceable Indians, until you got them mad. Then
they was the fiercest fighters of any tribes.

"Wait a minute, lady. I want to tell you first why I didn't get educated
up north like my white brother and sister. Just about time for me to be
born my papa went to see how they was getting along in school. He left
my education money with mama. He sure did want all his children
educated. I never saw my father. He died that trip. After awhile mama
married a colored man name Lee. He took my school money and put me in
the cotton patch. It was still during the war time when my white folks
moved to Arkansas; it was Desha county where they settle. Now I want to
tell you about my uncle Tom. Like I said, he was half Indian. But the
Negro part didn't show hardly any. There was something about uncle Tom
that made both white and black be afraid of him. His master was young,
like him. He was name Tom Johnson, too.

"You see, the Warrens, what own my mother, and the Johnsons, were all
sort of one family. Mistress Warren and Mistress Johnson were sisters,
and owned everything together. The Johnsons lived in Kentucky, but came
to Arkansas to farm. Master Tom taught his slaves to read. They say
uncle Tom was the best reader, white or black, for miles. That was what
got him in trouble. Slaves was not allowed to read. They didn't want
them to know that freedom was coming. No ma'am! Any time a crowd of
slaves gathered, overseers and bushwhackers come and chased them; broke
up the crowd. That Indian in uncle Tom made him not scared of anybody.
He had a newspaper with latest war news and gathered a crowd of slaves
to read them when peace was coming. White men say it done to get
uprising among slaves. A crowd of white gather and take uncle Tom to
jail. Twenty of them say they would beat him, each man, till they so
tired they can't lay on one more lick. If he still alive, then they hang
him. Wasn't that awful? Hang a man just because he could read? They had
him in jail overnight. His young master got wind of it, and went to save
his man. The Indian in uncle Tom rose. Strength--big extra strength
seemed to come to him. First man what opened that door, he leaped on him
and laid him out. No white men could stand against him in that Indian
fighting spirit. They was scared of him. He almost tore that jailhouse
down, lady. Yes he did. His young master took him that night, but next
day the white mob was after him and had him in jail. Then listen what
happened. The Yankees took Helena, and opened up the jails. Everybody so
scared they forgot all about hangings and things like that. Then uncle
Tom join the Union army; was in the 54th Regiment, U. S. volunteers
(colored) and went to Little Rock. My mama come up here. You see, so
many white folks loaned their slaves to the cessioners (Cecessionists)
to help build forts all over the state. Mama was needed to help cook.
They was building forts to protect Little Rock. Steele was coming. The
mistress was kind; she took care of me and my sister while mama was

"It was while she was in Little Rock that mama married Lee. After peace
they went back to Helena and stayed two years with old mistress. She let
them have the use of the farm tools and mules; she put up the cotton
and seed corn and food for us. She told us we could work on shares, half
and half. You see, ma'am, when slaves got free, they didn't have nothing
but their two hands to start out with. I never heard of any master
giving a slave money or land. Most went back to farming on shares. For
many years all they got was their food. Some white folks was so mean. I
know what they told us every time when crops would be put by. They said
'Why didn't you work harder? Look. When the seed is paid for, and all
your food and everything, what food you had just squares the account.'
Then they take all the cotton we raise, all the hogs, corn, everything.
We was just about where we was in slave days.

"When we see we never going to make anything share cropping, mother and
I went picking. Yes ma'am, they paid pretty good; got $1.50 a hundred.
So we saved enough to take us to Little Rock. Went on a boat, I
remember, and it took a whole week to make the trip. Just think of that.
A whole week between here and Helena. I was married by then. Gillam was
a blacksmith by trade and had a good business. But in a little while he
got into politics in Little Rock. Yes, lady. If you would look over the
old records you would see where he was made the keeper of the jail. I
don't know how many times he was elected to city council. He was the
only colored coroner Pulaski county ever had. He was in the legislature,
too. I used to dress up and go out to hear him make speeches. Wait a
minute and I will get my scrap book and show you all the things I cut
from the papers printed about him in those days....

"Even after the colored folks got put out of public office, they still
kept my husband for a policeman. It was during those days he bought this
home. Sixty-seven years we been living right in this place--I
guess--when did you say the war had its wind up? It was the only house
in a big forest. All my nine children was born right in this house. No
ma'am, I never have worked since I came here. My husband always made a
good living. I had all I could do caring for those nine children. When
the Democrats came in power, of course all colored men were let out of
office. Then my husband went back to his blacksmith trade. He was always
interested in breeding fine horses. Kept two fine stallions; one was
named 'Judge Hill', the other 'Pinchback'. White folks from Kentucky,
even, used to come here to buy his colts. Race people in Texas took our
colts as fast as they got born. Only recently we heard that stock from
our stable was among the best in Texas.

"The Ku Kluxers never bothered us in the least. I think they worked
mostly out in the country. We used to hear terrible tales of how they
whipped and killed both white and black, for no reason at all. Everybody
was afraid of them and scared to go out after dark. They were a strong
organization, and secret. I'll tell you, lady, if the rough element from
the north had stayed out of the south the trouble of reconstruction
would not happened. Yes ma'am, that's right. You see, after great
disasters like fires and earthquakes and such, always reckless criminal
class people come in its wake to rob and pillage. It was like that in
the war days. It was that bad element of the north what made the
trouble. They tried to excite (incite) the colored against their white
friends. The white folks was still kind to them what had been their
slaves. They would have helped them get started. I know that. I always
say that if the south could of been left to adjust itself, both white
and colored would been better off.

"Now about this voting business. I guess you don't find any colored
folks what think they get a fair deal. I don't, either. I don't think it
is right that any tax payer should be deprived of the right to vote.
Why, lady, even my children that pay poll tax can't vote. One of my
daughters is a teacher in the public school. She tells me they send out
notices that if teachers don't pay a poll tax they may lose their place.
But still they can't use it and vote in the primary. My husband always
believed in using your voting privilege. He has been dead over 30 years.
He had been appointed on the Grand Jury; had bought a new suit of
clothes for that. He died on the day he was to go, so we used his new
suit to bury him in. I have been getting his soldier's pension ever
since. Yes ma'am, I have not had it hard like lots of ex-slaves.

"Before you go I'd like you to look at the bedspread I knit last year.
My daughters was trying to learn to knit. This craze for knitting has
got everybody, it looks like. I heard them fussing about they could not
cast on the stitches. 'For land's sakes,' I said, 'hand me them
needles.' So I fussed around a little, and it all came back. What's
funny about it is, I had not knitted a stitch since I was about ten. Old
mistress used to make me knit socks for the soldiers. I remember I knit
ten pair out of coarse yarn, while she was doing a couple for the
officer out of fine wool and silk mixed. I used to knit pulse warmers,
and 'half-handers',--I bet you don't know what they was. Yes, that's
right; gloves without any fingers, 'cepting a thumb and it didn't have
any end. I could even knit on four needles when I was little. We used to
make our needles out of bones, wire, smooth, straight sticks,--anything
that would slip the yarn. Well, let me get back to this spread. In a few
minutes it all came back. I began knitting washrags. Got faster and
faster. Didn't need to look at the stitches. The girls are so scared
something will happen to me, they won't let me do any work. Now I had
found something I could do. When they saw how fast I work, they say:
'Mother, why don't you make something worth while? Why make so many
washrags?' So I started the bedspread. I guess it took me six months, at
odd times. I got it done in time to take to Ft. Worth to the big exhibit
of the National Federation of Colored Women's Clubs. My daughter
was the national president that year. If you'll believe it, this spread
took first prize. Look, here's the blue ribbon pinned on yet. What they
thought was so wonderful was that I knit every stitch of it without
glasses. But that is not so funny, because I have never worn glasses in
my life. I guess that is some more of my Indian blood telling.

"Sometimes I have to laugh at some of these young people. I call them
young because I knew them when they were babies. But they are already
all broken down old men and women. I still feel young inside. I feel
that I have had a good life."

  --- 11 1938
  Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
  Person interviewed: J. N. Gillespie
                      1112 Park Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
  Age: 75

"I was born near Galveston, in Texas, January 19, 1863, so they tell me.
I been in this town and been living right here at 1112 Park Street for
fifty-three years and ain't never had no trouble with anybody.

"My grandparents were Gillespie's. My grandma was an Indian woman. She
was stolen off the reservation--her and her daughter. The daughter was
about twelve years old and big enough to wait table. Both of them were
full blooded Cherokee Indians. My grandma married a slave, and when she
growed up, my mother married a slave; but my mother's parents were both
Indians, and one of my father's parents was white, so you see about
three-fourths of me is something else. My grandmother's name before her
first marriage was Courtney and my mother's first name was Parthenia.

"When they were stolen, they were made slaves. Nick Toliver bought 'em.
He was their first master, far as I heard 'em say. After old man Nick
Toliver died, Tom Brewer bought my mother. Toliver and Brewer were the
only two masters she had.

"After freedom came, my grandma took back her own name, Gillespie.
Grandma's second husband was named Berry Green. She was free and in the
Indian reservation when she married Gillespie, but she was a slave when
she married Berry Green.

"After my mother came to be of age, she married a man named Willis. He
was a slave. That is why I am like I am now. If my grandma had stayed
in the nation, I never would have been a slave, and I wouldn't need to
be beatin' around here trying to get just bread and meat.

"After freedom, she taken her mother's name by her free husband,
Gillespie, and she made her husband take it too. That how I got the name
of Gillespie."

Occupation of Forefathers

"After they were made slaves, my grandmother cooked and my mother waited
table and worked as a house girl. My grandma used to make clothes too,
and she could work on one of these big looms."


"My mother told me that when the boys would go out to a dance, they
would tie a rope across the road to make the horses of the patrollers
stumble and give the dancers time to get away. Sometimes the horses'
legs would be broken."

Subject's Occupation

"I wants to work and can't get work; so they ain't no use to worry. I
used to cook. That is all I did for a living. I cooked as long as I
could get something for it. I can't get a pension."

Slave Houses

"I didn't see no log houses when I growed up. Everything was frame."

Right After the War

"Right after the War, my mother stayed around the house and continued to
work for her master. I don't know what they paid her. I can't remember
just how they got free but I think the soldiers gave 'em the
notification. They stayed on the place till I was big enough to work. I
didn't do no work in slave time because I wasn't old enough."

Choked on Watermelon Seeds

"One day I was stealing watermelons with some big boys and I got choked
on some seeds. The melon seeds got in my throat. I yelled for help and
the boys ran away. Old Tom Brewer made me get on my hands and jump up
and down to get the seeds out."

Leaving Galveston

"I was a small boy, might have been seven or eight years old, when I
left Galveston. We came to Bradley County, here in Arkansas. From
Bradley my mother took me to Pine Bluff. After I got big I went back to
Texas. Then I came from Texas here fifty-three years ago, and have been
living here ever since, cooking for hotels and private families.

"I never was arrested in my life. I never been in trouble. I never had a
fight. Been living in the same place ever since I first came here--right
here at 1112 Park Street. I belong to the Christian Church at Thirteenth
and Cross Streets. I quit working around the yard and the building
because they wouldn't pay me anything. They promised to pay me, but they
wouldn't do it."

Interviewer's Comment

Gillespie has an excellent reputation, as indeed have most of the
ex-slaves in this city. He is clear and unfaltering in his memory. He is
deliberate and selects what he means to tell. He is never discourteous.
He is a little nervous and cannot be held long at a time. Indian
characteristics in him are not especially prominent, but you note them
readily after learning of his ancestry. He is brown but slightly copper
in color, and his profile has the typical Indian appearance. He is a
little taciturn, and sometimes acts on his decisions before he announces
them. I cultivated him about three weeks.

  Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
  Person interviewed: Will Glass
                      715 W. Eighth Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
  Age: 50
  Occupation: All phases of paving work
  [HW: [Bit Dog's Foot Off]]

"My grandfather was named Joe Glass. His master was named Glass. I
forget the first name. My grandfather on my mother's side was named
Smith. His old master was named Smith. The grandfather Joe was born in
Alabama. Grandfather Smith was born in North Carolina."


"There were good masters and mean masters. Both of my old grandfathers
had good masters. I had an uncle, Anderson Fields, who had a tough
master. He was so tough that Uncle Anderson had to run away. They'd whip
him and do around, and he would run away. Then they would get the dogs
after him and they would run him until he would climb a tree to get away
from them. They would come and surround the tree and make him come down
and they would whip him till the blood ran, and sometimes they would
make the dogs bite him and he couldn't do nothing about it. One time he
bit a dog's foot off. They asked him why he did that and he said the dog
bit him and he bit him back. They whipped him again. They would take him
home at night and put what they called the ball and chain on him and
some of the others they called unruly to keep them from running away.

"They didn't whip my grandfathers. Just one time they whipped
Grandfather Joe. That was because he wouldn't give his consent for them
to whip his wife. He wouldn't stand for it and they strapped him. He
told them to strap him and leave her be. He was a good worker and they
didn't want to kill him, so they strapped him and let her be like he


"Both of my grandfathers said their masters used to give picnics. They
would have a certain day and they would give them all a good time and
let them enjoy themselves. They would kill a cow or some kids and hogs
and have a barbecue. They kept that up after freedom. Every nineteenth
of June, they would throw a big picnic until I got big enough to see and
know for myself. But their masters gave them theirs in slavery times.
They gave it to them once a year and it was on the nineteenth of June

"Grandfather Joe said when he wanted to marry Jennie, she was under her
old master, the man that Anderson worked under. Old man Glass found that
Grandfather Joe was slipping off to old man Field's to see Grandma
Jennie, who was on Field's place, and old man Fields went over and told
Glass that he would either have to sell Glass to him or buy Jennie from
him. Old man Glass bought Jennie and Grandfather Joe got her.

"After old man Glass bought Jennie, he held up a broom and they would
have to jump over it backwards and then old man Glass pronounced them
man and wife.

"Grandfather Joe died when I was a boy ten years old. Grandfather Smith
died in 1921. He was eighty years old when he died. Grandfather Joe was
seventy-two years old when he died. He died somewhere along in 1898."


"I heard them speak of the Ku Klux often. But they didn't call them Ku
Klux; they called them whitecaps. The whitecaps used to go around at
night and get hold of colored people that had been living disorderly
and carry them out and whip them. I never heard them say that they
whipped anybody for voting. If they did, it wasn't done in our


"Uncle Anderson said that old man Fields didn't allow them to sing and
pray and hold meetings, and they had to slip off and slip aside and hide
around to pray. They knew what to do. People used to stick their heads
under washpots to sing and pray. Some of them went out into the brush
arbors where they could pray and shout without being disturbed.

"Grandfather Joe and Grandfather Smith both said that they had seen
slaves have that trouble. Of course, it never happened on the
plantations where they were brought up. Uncle Anderson said that they
would sometimes go off and get under the washpot and sing and pray the
best they could. When they prayed under the pot, they would make a
little hole and set the pot over it. Then they would stick their heads
under the pot and say and sing what they wanted."

Slave Sales

"Grandfather Joe and Grandfather Smith used to say that when a child was
born if it was a child that was fine blooded they would put it on the
block and sell it away from its parents while it was little. Both of my
grandfathers were sold away from their parents when they were small
kids. They never knew who their parents were.

"When my oldest auntie was born, my mother said she was sold about two
years before freedom. Aunt Emma was only two years old then when she was
sold. Mother never met her until she was married and had a family. They
would sell the children slaves of that sort at auction, and let them go
to the highest bidder."


"My grandfather brought me up strictly. I don't know what they thought
about the young people of their day, but I know what I think. I will
tell you. At first I searched myself. Kids in the time I came along had
to go by a certain rule. They had to go by it.

"We don't see to our children doing right as our parents saw to our
doing. It would be good if we could get ourselves together and bring
these young people back where they belong. What ruined the young folks
is our lack of discipline. We send them to school but that is all, and
that is not enough. We ought to take it on ourselves to see that they
are learning as they ought to learn and what they ought to learn.

"I belong to Bethel A. M. E. Church. I married about 1919, November 16.
I have just one kid and two grand kids."

  --- 13 1937
  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Frank William Glenn
                      Des Arc, Arkansas
  Age: 73

"I was born June 1864 in Des Arc. My parents named Richard Lewis Glenn
and Pleasant Glynn. My mama died when I was small. I recollect hearing
em say the southern women oughtn't marry the Yankee men, there was so
much difference in their lives. A few widows and girls did marry Yankee
men, very few. Southern folks jes' hated em.

"Master Wash Glenn had a son named Boliver. He may had more. I don't
know much about em. We stayed there after the war for a long time then
went to work for Mr. Bedford Bethels father. We worked there a long time
then went to work for Mr. Jim Erwin. My papa always farmed. I heard my
mama say she washed and sewed during slavery. There was three boys and
one girl in our famlee. I heard bout the bushwhackers and Ku Klux. I was
too young to tell bout what they did do. I never did see none dressed

"I don't fool wid votin' much. I have voted. I don't understand votin'
much and how they run the govermint. My time of usefulness is nearly

"The present time serves me hard. I got my leg caught in a wagon wheel
and so sprained I been cripple ever since. The rheumatiz settles in it
till I can't sleep at night. My wife quit me. I got two boys in Chicago,
the girl and her ma in Brinkley. They sho don't help me. I have to rent
my house. I don't own nuthin'. I work all I'm able.

"The present generation is selfish and restless. I don't know what goner
become of em. Times is changing too fast for me. I jess look on and
wonder what going to come on next."

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Ella Glespie
                      Brassfield, Arkansas
  Age: 71

"I was born the third year after the surrender. I was born in Okolona,
Mississippi. My parents was Jane Bowen and Henry Harrison. Ma had seven
children. They lived on the Gates place at freedom. I'm the onliest one
of my kin living anywheres 'bout now. Ma never was sold but pa was.

"Parson Caruthers brought pa from Alabama. He was a good runner and when
he was little he throwd his hip outer j'int running races. Then Parson
Caruthers learnt him a trade--a shoemaker. When he was still nothing but
a lad he was sold for quite a sum of money. When emancipation come on he
could read and write and make change.

"So den he was out in the world cripple. He started teaching school. He
had been a preacher, too, durin' slavery. He preached and taught school.
He was justice of the peace and representative for two terms from
Chickasaw County in the state legislature. I heard them talk about that
and when I started to school Mr. Suggs was the white man principal. Pa
was one teacher and there was some more teachers. He was a teacher a
long time. He was eighty odd and ma was sixty odd when she died. Both
died in Mississippi.

"My folks said Master Gates was good. I knowd my pa's young Master
Gates. Pa said he never got a whooping. They made a right smart of money
outen his work. He said some of the boots he made brung high as twenty
dollars. Pa had a good deal of Confederate bills as I recollects. Ma
said some of them on Gates' place got whoopings.

"When they would be at picnics and big corn shellings or shuckings
either, all Gates' black folks was called 'Heavy Gates'; they was fed
and treated so well. I visited back at home in Mississippi. Went to the
quarters and all nineteen years ago. I heard them still talking about
the 'Heavy Gates'. I was one the offspring.

"Ma cooked for her old mistress years and years. Mrs. Rogers in South
Carolina give ma to Miss Rebecca, her daughter, and said, 'Take good
care of her, you might need her.' They come in ox wagons to Mississippi.
Ma was a little girl then when Miss Rebecca married Dr. Bowen. Ma hated
to leave Miss Rebecca Bowen 'cause in the first place she was her
half-sister. She said Master Rogers was her own pa. Her ma was a cook
and house girl ahead of her. Ma was a fine cook. Heap better than I ever
was 'cause she never lacked the stuff to fix and I come short there.

"I heard ma tell this. Wherever she lived and worked, at Dr. Bowen's, I
reckon. The soldiers come one day and took their sharp swords from out
their belts and cut off heads of turkeys, chickens, geese, ducks,
guineas, and took a load off and left some on the ground. They picked up
the heads and what was left and made a big washpot full of dumplings.
She said the soldiers wasted so much.

"When I was young I seen a 'style block' at Holly Springs, Mississippi.
I was going to Tucker Lou School, ten miles from Jackson. That was way
back in the seventies. A platform was up in the air under a tree and two
stumps stood on ends for the steps. It was higher than three steps but
that is the way they got up on the platform they tole me.

"I think times are a little better. I gits a little ironing and six
dollars and commodities. The young generation is taking on funny ways. I
think they do very well morally 'cepting their liquor drinking habits.
That is worse, I think. They are advancing in learning. I think times a
little better.

"My husband had been out here. We married and I come here. I didn't like
here a bit but now my kin is all dead and I know folks here better. I
like it now very well. He was a farmer and mill man."

  Interviewer: Mary D. Hudgins
  Person Interviewed: Joe Golden
  Age: 86
  Home: 722 Gulpha Street, Hot Springs, Ark.

"Yes, ma'am to be sure I remembers you. I knew your father and all his
brothers. I knew your mother's father and your grandmother, and all the
Denglers. Your grandpappy was mighty good to me. Your grandmother was
too. Many's the day your uncle Fred followed me about while I was
hunting. I was the only one what your grandpappy would let hunt in his
garden. Yes, ma'am! If your grandmother would hear a shot across the
hill in the garden, she'd say, 'Go over and see who it is.' And your
grandfather would come. He'd chase them away. But if it was me, he'd go
back home and he'd tell her, 'It's just Joe. He's not going to carry
away more than he can eat. Joe'll be all right.'

"Yes, ma'am. I was born down at Magnet Cove. I belonged to Mr. Andy
Mitchell. He was a great old man, he was. Did he have a big farm and
lots of black folks? Law, miss, he didn't have nothing but children,
just lots of little children. He rented me and my pappy and my mother to
the Sumpters right here in Hot Springs.

"I can remember Hot Springs when there wasn't more than three houses
here. Folks used to come thru and lots of folks used to stay. But there
wasn't more than three families lived here part of the time.

"Yes, ma'am we worked. But we had lots of fun too. Them was exciting
times. I can remember when folks got to shooting at each, other right in
the street. I run off and taken to the woods when that happened.

"No, miss, we didn't live in Hot Springs all thru the war. When the
Federals taken Little Rock they taken us to Texas. We stayed there until
'68. Then we come back to Hot Springs.

"Yes, miss, Hot Springs was a good place to make money. Lots of rich
folks was coming to the hotels. Yes, ma'am, I made money. How'd I make
it? Well lots of ways. I used to run. I was the fastest runner what was.
Folks would bet on us, and I'd always win. Then I used to shine shoes.
Made money at it too. Lots of days I made as much as $4 or $5. Sometimes
I didn't even stop to eat. But I was making money, and I didn't care.

"Then there was a feller, a doctor he was. He give me a gun. I used to
like to hunt. Hunted all over these mountains[1], hunted quail and
hunted squirrel and a few times I killed deers. The man what gave me the
gun he promised me twenty five cents apiece for all the quail I could
bring him. Lots of times I came in with them by the dozen.

"I tried to save my money. Didn't spend much. I'd bring it home to my
mother. She'd put it away for me. But if my pappy knowed I got money
he'd take it away from me and buy whiskey. You might know why, miss. He
was part Creek--yes ma'am, part Creek Indian.

"Does you remember chinquapins? They used to be all over the hill up
yonder.[1] I used to get lots of them. Sell them too. One time I chased
a deer up there[1]. Got him with a knife, didn't have a gun. The dogs
cornered him for me. Best dog I ever had, his name was Abraham Lincoln.
He was extra good for a possom dog. Once I got a white possom in the
same place I got a deer. It was way out yonder--that place there ain't
nothing but rocks. Yes, ma'am, Hell's Half Acre.[2]

"Yes, miss, I has made lots of money in my time. Can't work none now.
Wish you had got to me three years ago. That was before I had my stroke.
Can't think of what I want to say, and can't make my mouth say it. You
being patient with me. I got to take time to think.

"Me and my wife we gets along pretty well. We have our home, and then I
got other property.[3] We was real well off. I had $1200 in the
bank--Webb's Bank when it failed.[4] Never got but part of my money

"When I sold out my bootblack stand I bought a butcher shop. I made a
lot of money there. I had good meat and folks, black folks and white
folks came to buy from me. So you remembers my barbecue, do you? Yes,
miss, I always tried to make it good. Yes, I remembers your pappy used
to always buy from me.

"Your grandmother was a good woman. I remember when your Uncle Freddy
had been following me around all day while I was hunting--it was in your
grandpappy's garden--his vineyard too--it was mighty big. I told Freddy
he could have a squirrel or a quail. He took the squirrel and I gave
him a couple of quail too. Went home with him and showed your
grandmother how they ought to be fixed.

"I can remember before your father lived in Hot Springs. He and his
brothers used to come thru from Polk County. They'd bring a lot of
cotton to sell. Yes, ma'am lots of folks came thru. They'd either sell
them here or go on to Little Rock. Lots of Indians--along with cotton
and skins they'd bring loadstone. Then when your pappy and his brothers
had a hardware store I bought lots of things from them. Used to be some
pretty bad men in Hot Springs--folks was mean in them days. I remember
when your father kept two men from killing each other. Wish, I wish I
could remember better. This stroke has about got me.

"Yes, miss, that was the garden. I used to sell garden truck too. Had a
bush fence around it long before a wire one. Folks used to pass up other
folks to buy truck from me. Your mother did.

"Life's been pretty good to me. I've lived a long time. And I've done a
lot. Made a lot of money, and didn't get beyond the third grade.[5]
Can't cultivate the garden now. My wife does well enough to take care of
the yard. She's a good woman, my wife is.

"So you're going to Fayetteville to see Miss Adeline? I remember Miss
Adeline.[6] She worked for your pappy's brother didn't she. Yes, I
knowed her well. I liked her.

"Yes miss, I'm sort of tired. It's hard to think. And I can't move about
much. But I got my home and I got my wife and we're comfortable. Thank

Interviewer's note:

I left him sitting and rocking gently in a home-made hickory stationary
swing eyes half closed looking out across his yard and basking in the
warm sunshine of late afternoon.


[1] Units of Hot Springs National Park.

[2] Spot without soil or vegetation--broken talus rock.

[3] Home clean, well painted and cared for, two story, large lot. Rental
cottage, good condition, negro neighborhood.

[4] Bank owned and operated for and by negroes--affiliated with
headquarters of large national negro lodge.

[5] No public schools in Hot Springs until the late 70s.

[6] The Adeline Blakely of another Arkansas interview with slaves.

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Jake Goodridge
                      Clarendon, Arkansas
  Age: 97? 87 is about correct
  Born August 4, 1857

"I was born close to Jackson, Tennessee in Madison County. My master was
Hatford Weathers. His wife's name was Susan Weathers. They had a big
family--John, Lidy, Mattie, Polly, Betty, and Jimmy, that I recollect
and there might er been some more.

"My parents' names was Narcissus and Jacob Goodridge. I had one brother
that was a Yankee soldier, and five sisters. One sister did live in
Texas. They all dead fur as I know. We got scattered. Some of us got
inherited fore freedom. Jake Goodridge took me along when he went to the
army to wait on him. Right there it was me an' my brother fightin' agin
one 'nother.

"When we come to St. Charles we come to Memphis on freight boxes--no
tops--flat cars like. There a heap more soldiers was waiting. We got on
a boat--a great big boat. There was one regiment--Indiana Cavalry, one
Kansas, one Missouri, one Illinois. All on deck was the horses. There
was 1,200 men in a regiment and four regiments, 4,800 horses and four
cannons. There was not settin' down room on the boat. They captured my
master and sent him to prison. First they put him in a callaboose and
then they sent him on to prison and they took me to help them. They made
a waitin' boy of me. I didn't lack none of 'em. They cussed all the
time. I heard they paroled my master long time after the war.

"They would shoot a cannon, had a sponge on a long rod. They wipe it out
and put in another big ball, get way back and pull a rope. The cannon
fire agin. Course I was scared. I was scared to death bout two years,
that 'bout how long I was in the war. I was twelve or fourteen years
old. I recollect it as well as if it was yesterday. They never had a
battle at St. Charles while I was there. They loaded up the boat and
took us to Little Rock. They mustered out there. The Yankee soldiers
give out news of freedom. They was shouting 'round. I jes' stood around
to see whut they goiner do next. Didn't nobody give me nuthin'. I didn't
know what to do. Everything going. Tents all gone, no place to go stay
and nothin' to eat. That was the big freedom to us colored folks. That
the way white folks fightin' do the colored folks. I got hungry and
naked and cold many a time. I had a good master and I thought he always
treated me heap better than that. I wanted to go back but I had no way.
I made it down to St. Charles in 'bout a year after the surrender. I
started farmin'. I been farmin' ever since. In Little Rock I found a job
in a tin pin alley, pickin' up balls. The man paid me $12 a month, next
to starvation. I think his name was Warren Rogers.

"I went to Indian Bay 'bout 1868 and farmed for Mr. Hathway, then Mr.
Duncan. Then I come up to Clarendon and been here ever since.

"One time I owned 40 acres at Holly Grove, sold it, spent the money.

"I too old, I don't fool wid no votin'. I never did take a big stock in
sich foolishness.

"I live wid my daughter and white folks. The Welfare give me $8 a month.
We got a garden. No cow. No hog. No chickens.

"The present conditions seem pretty bad. Some do work and some don't
work. Nobody savin' that I sees. Takes it all to live on. I haben't give
the present generation a thought."

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: John Goodson (Goodrum)
                      Des Arc, Arkansas
  Age: Born in 1865

"My master was Bill Goodrum. I was born at Des Arc out in the country
close by here. My mother was a house woman and my father was overseer. I
was so little I don't remember the war. I do remember Doc Rayburn. I
seed him and remember him all right. He was a bushwacker and a Ku Klux
they said. I don't remember the Ku Klux. Never seed them.

"I heard my parents say they expected the government to divide up the
land and give them a start--a home and some land. They got just turned
out like you turn a hog out the pen and say go on I'm through wid you.

"I heard them set till midnight talking 'bout whut all took place during
the Civil War. The country was wild and it was a long ways between the
houses. There wasn't many colored folks in this country till closin' of
the war. They started bringing 'em here. Men whut needed help on the

"All my life I been cooking. I cooked at hotels and on boats. I cooked
some in restaurants. They say it was the heat caused me to go blind. I
cooked up till 1927. The last folks I cooked for was on a boat for
Heckles and Wade Sales up at Augusta, Arkansas. I done carpentry work
some when I was off of a cooking job. I never liked farmin' much. I have
done a little of that along between times too. My main job is cooking.

"I voted along when I could see. I ain't voted lately. I sho lacks this

"I had a house and lot--this one, but I couldn't pay taxes. We still
living in it. We got a garden. No hog, no cow. We made our home when I
cooked and my wife washed and ironed.

"I think this new generation of colored folks is awful. They can get
work if they would do it. Times is gettin' worse. They work some if the
price suit 'em, if it don't, they steal. They spend 'bout all they make
for shows, whiskey and I don't know whut all.

"The Social Welfare gives me $8 a month. My wife does all the washing
and ironin' she can get. We are doing very well.

"I don't understand much 'bout votin' and picking out canidates. It
don't hurt if the women want to vote.

"Only songs I ever heard was corn songs. I don't remember none. They
make 'em up out in the fields. Some folks good at making up songs. One I
used to hear a whole heap was 'It goiner be a hot time in the old time
tonite.' Another one 'If you liker me liker I liker you. We both liker
the same.' I don't remember no more them songs. I used to hear 'em a
whole lots. Yes out in the fields."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Pages 58 to 62 have been withdrawn after numbering.

  Interviewer: Thomas Elmore Lucy
  Person interviewed: George Govan
                      Russellville, Arkansas
  Age: 52

"George Govan is my name, and I was born in Conway County somewheres in
December 1886--I guess it was about de seventeenth of December. We lived
there till 1911, when I come to Pope County. Both my parents was slaves
on de plantation of a Mr. Govan near Charleston, South Carolina. Dat's
where we got our name. Folks come to Arkansas after dey was freed. No
sir, I ain't edicated--never had de chance. Parents been dead a good
many years.

"Yas suh, my folks used to talk a heap and tell me lots of tales of
slavery days, and how de patrollers used to whip em when dey wanted to
go some place and didn't have de demit to go. Yas suh, dey had to have a
demit to go any place outside work hours. Dey whipped my mother and
father both sometimes, and dey sure was afraid of dem patrollers. Used
to say, 'If you don't watch out de patrollers'll git you.' Dey'd catch
de slaves and tie em up to a tree or a pos' and whip em wid buggy whips
and rawhides.

"Some of de slaves was promised land and other things when dey was
freed, and some wasn't promised nothin'. Some got land and a span of
mules, and some didn't get nothin'. No suh, my daddy didn't farm none at
first after he was freed because he didn't have no money to buy land,
but he done odd jobs here and there till he come to Arkansas seven or
eight years after the War.

"Yes, I owns my own home; been livin' in it for ten years, since I've
been workin' as janitor at dis Central Presbyterian Church. I belongs to
de Missionary Baptis' Church, but my parents were both Methodists.

"Sure did have lots of good songs in de old days, like 'Old Ship of
Zion' and 'On Jordan's Stormy Banks.' Used to have one that begins
'Those that 'fuse to sing never knew my God.' It was a purty piece; and
then there was another one about a 'Rough, rocky road.'

"De young people today has much better opportunities than when I was a
child, and much better than dey had in slavery days, because dar ain't
no patrollers to whip em. Most of em dese days has purty good behavior,
and I think dey're better than in de old days.

"I has always voted regularly since I come of age--votes de Republican
ticket. Can't read but a little, but I never had any trouble about

NOTE: George Govan is an intelligent Negro, fairly neat in his dress,
very tall and erect in stature. Brogue quite noticeable, and occasional
idioms that make his interview interesting and personal.

  Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
  Person interviewed: Julia Grace
                      819 N. Spruce Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  Age: 75

"I was seventy-four this last past fourth of July. I was born in Texas.
My mother was sent to Texas to keep from bein' freed.

"Ad March and Spruce McCrary is the onliest white folks I remember bein'
with. I don't know whether they was our owners or not.

"My father was sent to North Carolina and I never did see him no more.

"After freedom they brought us back here from Texas and we worked on the
McCrary plantation.

"In slavery days mama said she and my father stayed in the woods most of
the time. That's when they was whippin' 'em.

"My mother come from Richmond, Virginia. Petersburg was her town. She
belonged to the Wellses over there.

"After her master got his leg broke, the rest was so mean to her she run
off a couple times, so they sold her. Put her up on the tradin'
block--like goin' to make a speech. Stripped 'em naked. The man bid 'em
off like you'd bid off oxen.

"Mama told me her missis, after her husband died, got so mean to her she
run off till her old missis sold her. They weighed 'em and stripped 'em
naked to see if they was anything wrong with 'em and how they was built
and then bid 'em off.

"Mama said she never would a been in Arkansas if they hadn't been so
mean to her. They were too compulsive on 'em--you know, hard

"After freedom Ad March went back to North Carolina and Spruce McCrary
come here to Pine Bluff.

"Fust time I moved here in town was in 1888. I stayed ten months, then I
went back to the country. I aimed to go to Fort Smith but I got to
talkin' with my playmates and I didn't have too much money, and I stayed
till I didn't have enough money left to keep me till I could get a job.
So I stayed here and worked for Mrs. Freemayer till I got so I couldn't
work. She's the one got me on this relief.

"I went to school one session in 1886. Sam Caeser, he was a well-known
teacher. He got killed here in Pine Bluff.

"I can't sweep and I can't iron. I got a misery in my back. I washes my
clothes and spreads 'em out till they dry. Then I puts 'em on and
switches into church and ever'body thinks they has been ironed.

"They ain't but one sign I believes in and that's peckerwoods. Just as
sure as he pecks three times, somebody goin' to move or somebody goin'
to die. Just as sure as you live somebody goin' out.

"One time one of my grandchildren and a friend of mine was walkin'
through the woods and we missed the main road we aimed to ketch, and we
got into a den of wild hogs. I said, 'Lord, make 'em stand still till we
get out of here.' One of 'em was that tall and big long ears hung down
over his eyes. That was the male, you know. I reckon they couldn't see
us and we walked as easy as we could and we got away and struck the main
road. I reckon if they could a seen us we would a been 'tacked but we
got away. I had heard how they made people take to trees, and I was

"Have you ever seen a three-legged cow? Well, I have. I looked at her
good. She was grown and had a calf."

  --- 11 1938
  Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
  Person interviewed: Charles Graham
                      616 W. 27th Street, North Little Rock, Arkansas
  Age: 79
  [HW: [Freed in '63]]

"I was born September 27, 1859, Clarksville, Tennessee. I don't remember
the county. There are several Clarksvilles throughout the South. But
Clarksville, Tennessee is the first and the oldest.

"I got a chance to see troops after the Civil War was over. The soldiers
were playing, boxing, and the like. Then I remember hearing the cannons
roar--long toms they used to call 'em. My uncle said, 'That is General
Grant opening fire on the Rebels.'

"The first clear thing I remember was when everybody was rejoicing
because they were free. The soldiers were playing and boxing and
chucking watermelons at one another. They had great long guns called
muskets. I heard 'em say that Abraham Lincoln had turned 'em loose.
Where I was at, they turned 'em loose in '63. Lincoln was assassinated
in '65. I heard that the morning after it was done. We was turned loose
long before then.

"I was too young to pay much attention, but they were cutting up and
clapping their hands and carrying on something terrible, and shouting,
'Free, free, old Abraham done turned us loose.'

"I was here in them days! Heard those long toms roar! General Grant
shelling the Rebels!"


"I don't remember much about the patrollers except that when they been
having dances, and some of them didn't have passes, they'd get chased
and run. If they would get catched, them that didn't have passes would
get whipped. Them that had them, they were all right."


"They had barbecues. That's where the barbecues started from, I reckon,
from the barbecues among the slaves.

"They would have corn shuckings. They would have a whole lot of corn to
shuck, and they would give the corn shucking and the barbecue together.
They would shuck as many as three or four hundred bushels of corn in a
night. Sometimes, they would race one another. So you know that they
must have been some shucking done.

"I don't believe that I know of anything else. People were ignorant in
those days and didn't have many amusements."


"I used to be a regular miller until they laid the men off. Now I don't
have no kind of job at all."

Right after the War

"Some of the slaves went right up North. We stayed in Clarksville and
worked there for a year or two. In 1864, we went to Warren County,
Illinois. They put me in school. My people were just common laborers.
They bought themselves a nice little home.

"My mother's name was Anna Bailis and my father's name was Charles
Morrill. I don't remember the names of their masters.

"I was raised by my uncle, Simon Blair. His master used to be a Bailis.
My father, so I was told, went off and left my mother. She was weak and
ailing, so my uncle took me. He took me away from her and carried me up
North with them. My father ran away before the slaves were freed. I
never found out what became of him.

"I stayed in Illinois from the time I was five or six years old up until
I was twenty-one. I left there in 1880. That is about the time when
Garfield ran for President. I was in Ohio, seen him before he was
assassinated in 1882. Garfield and Arthur ran against Hancock and
English. They beat 'em too."

Little Rock

"I used to go from place to place working first one place and then
another--going down the Mississippi on boats. Monmouth, Illinois, where
I was raised--they ain't nothing to that place. Just a dry little town!"


"The young people nowadays are all right. There is not so much ignorance
now as there was in those days. There was ignorance all over then. The
Peckerwoods wasn't much wise either. They know nowadays though. Our race
has done well in refinement.

"I find that the Negro is more appreciated in politics in the North and
West than in the South. I don't know whether it will grow better or not.

"I'll tell you something else. The best of these white people down here
don't feel so friendly toward the North."

  Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
  Person interviewed: James Graham
                      408 Maple Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
  Age: 75
  [HW: ["Free Negroes"]]

"I was born in South Carolina, Lancaster County, about nine miles from
Lancaster town. My father's name was Tillman Graham and my mother's name
was Eliza.

"I have seen my grandfathers, but I forget their names now. My father
was a farmer. My father and mother belonged to this people, that is, to
the Tillmans.

"On my father's side, they called my people free Negroes because they
treated them so good. On my mother's side they had to get their
education privately. When the white children would come from school, my
mother's people would get instruction from them. My mother was a maid in
the house and it was easy for her to get training that way."

  Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
  Person interviewed: Marthala Grant
                      2203 E. Barraque, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  Age: 77

"All I can remember is some men throwin' us up in the air and ketchin'
us, me and my baby brother. Like to scared me to death. They had on
funny clothes. Me and my brother was out in the yard playin'. They just
grabbed us up and throwed us up and ketched us.

"My mother would tell us bout the war. She had on some old shoes--wooden
shoes. Her white folks name was Hines. That was in North Carolina. I
emigrated here when they was emigratin' folks here. I was grown then.

"Durin' the war I heered the shootin' and the people clappin' their

"My mother said they was fightin' to free the people but I didn't know
what freedom was. I member hearin' em whoopin' and hollerin' when peace
was 'clared and talkin' bout it.

"Yes'm I went to school some--not much. I learned a right smart to read
but not much writin'.

"We'd go up to the white folks house every Sunday evenin' and old
mistress would learn us our catechism. We'd have to comb our heads and
clean up and go up every Sunday evenin'. She'd line us up and learn us
our catechism.

"We stayed right on there after the war. They paid my mother. I picked
cotton and nussed babies and washed dishes.

"I was married when I was twenty. Never been married but once and my
husband been dead nigh bout twenty years."

"When I come here this town wasn't much--sure wasn't much. Used to have
old car pulled by mules and a colored man had that--old Wiley Jones.
He's dead now.

"I had eleven childen. All dead but five. My boy what's up North went to
that Spanish War. He stayed till peace was declared.

"After we come to Arkansas my husband voted every year and worked the
county roads. I guess he voted Republican.

"I can't tell you bout the younger generation. They so fast you can't
keep up with them. I really can't tell you."

  Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
  Person interviewed: Wesley Graves
                      817 Hickory Street, North Little Rock, Arkansas
  Age: 70
  [HW: [Father Taught Night School]]

"My father's white folks were named Tal Graves. My mother was a McAdoo.
Her white folks were McAdoos. Some of them are over the river now. He's
a great jewelryman now.

"I was born in Trenton, Tennessee. My father was born 'round in
Humboldt, Tennessee. My mother was born in Paris, Tennessee and moved
out in the country near Humboldt. He met my mother out there and married
her just a little bit before the War. He was a slave and she was too.

"He didn't go to the War; he went to the woods. He got to chasing
'round. His young mistress married. She married a Graves. That was the
name we was freed under. She was a Shane.

"She educated my father. When she come from school, she would teach him
and just carry him right on through the course that way. That was a good
while before the War. Her father gave him to her when she married
Graves. He was a little boy and she kept him and educated him. Graves
ran a farm. I don't know just what my father did when he was little. He
was raised up as a house boy. Very little he ever done in the field. I
don't know what he did after he grew up and before freedom came. After
peace was declared, he taught in night school. He preached too. His
first farming was done a little after he come out here. I was about
seven years old then. That was in the year 1873.

"My mother's full name was Adeline McAdoo. Before freedom she did
housework. She was a kind a pet with the white folks. She didn't do much
farming. My mother and father had six children--five boys and one girl.
All born after freedom. There were three ahead of me. The oldest was
born before the War, not afterward.

"In my country where I was raised the Negroes weren't freed until 1865.
My uncle, Jim Shane--that is the only name I ever knew him by--, he ran
away and come to this country and made money enough to come back and buy
his freedom. Just about time he got himself paid for, the War closed and
he would have been freed anyway. The money wouldn't have done him no
good anyhow because it was all Confederate money, and when the War
closed, that wasn't no good.

"My father ran away when the War broke out. His master wanted to carry
him to the army with him and he run off and stayed in the woods three
years. He stayed until his little mistress wrote him a letter and told
him she would set him free if he would come home. He stayed out till the
War closed. He wouldn't take no chances on it.

"The pateroles made my father do everything but quit. They got him about
teaching night school. That was after slavery, but the pateroles still
got after you. They didn't want him teaching the Negroes right after the
War. He had opened a night school, and he was doing well. They just kept
him in the woods then."

Ku Klux

"There was a bunch of Ku Klux that a colored man led. He was a fellow by
the name of Fount Howard. They would come to his house and he would call
himself showing them how to catch old people he didn't like. He told
them how to catch my old man. I have heard my mother tell about it time
and time again. The funny part of it was there was a cornfield right
back of the kitchen. Just about dusk dark, he got up and taken a big
old horse pistol and shot out of it, and when he fired the last shot out
of it, a white man said, 'Bring that gun here.' Believe me he cut a road
through that field right now.

"They stayed 'round for a little while and tried to bully his people.
But the old lady stood up to them, so they finally carried her and her
children in the house and told her to tell him to come on back they
wouldn't hurt him. And they didn't bother him no more.

"My mother's master told my mother that she was free. He called all the
slaves in and told them they were free as he was. I don't think he give
them anything when they were freed. He was a kind a poor fellow. Didn't
have but six or seven slaves. He offered to let them stay and make
crops. My father had a better job than that. Did you ever know Bishop
Lane out in Tennessee? My father and he were ordained at the same time
in the some C. M. E. Church. Then he moved to Kentucky and joined the
A. M. E. Church. My father died in 1875 and my mother in 1906.

"I have been married forty-seven years. I married on the twenty-sixth
day of December in 1889. I heard my mother and father say that they
married in slavery time and they just jumped over a broom. I don't
belong to no church. I am off on a pension. I got a good job doin'
nothing. My pension is paid by the Railroad.

"I put up forty-four years as a brakeman and five years on ditching
trains before I went to braking. My old road master put me on the
braking. A fellow got his fingers cut off and they turned his keys over
to me and put me to braking and I went there and stayed.

"I have two children. Both of them are living--a girl and a boy. I have
had a big bunch of young people 'round me ever since I married. Raised
a couple of nephews. Then my two. All of them married. That is my
daughter's oldest child right there. (He pointed to a pretty brownskin

"My father died when I was eight, and I was away from home railroading
most of the time and didn't hear much about old times from my mother. So
that's all I know.

"I have lived right here on this spot for forty-three years. About 1893
I bought this place and have lived here ever since. This was just a big
woods and weed patch then. There weren't more than about six houses out
here this side of the Rock Island Railroad.

"I commenced voting in 1889. Cast my first ballot then. I never had any
trouble about it."

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Ambus Gray
                      R.F.D. #1. Biscoe, Arkansas
  Age: 80

"I was ten year old when the Civil War come on. I was born Tallapoosy
County, Alabama. I belong to Jim Gray. I recollect the paddyrollers. I
don't recollect the Ku Klux Klan. There was twelve boys and two girls in
our family in time. I was among the older set.

"Bout all I remembers bout slavery was how hard the hands had to work.
We sho did haf to work! When we wasn't clerin new ground and rollin pine
logs an burnin brush we was er buildin fences and shuckin an shellin
corn. Woman you don't know nufin bout work! We cler new groun all day
den burn brush and pile logs at nite. We build fences all day and kill
hogs and shuck corn dat night. No use to say word bout bein tired. Never
heard nobody complainin. They went right on singin or whislin'. Started
out plowin and drappin corn then plantin' cotton. Choppin' time come on
then pullin' fodder and layin' by time be on. Be bout big meetin time
and bout fo that or was over everybody was dun in the cotton field till
dun cold weather. I remembers how they sho did work.

"Both my parents was field hands. They stayed on two years after the war
was over. Jim Gray raised red hogs and red corn, whooper-will peas. He
kept a whole heap of goats and a flock of sheep.

"We didn't see no real hard times after the war. We went to Georgia to
work on Armstrongs farm. We didn't stay there long. We went to Atlanta
and met a fellar huntin' hands down at Sardis, Mississippi. We come on
there. Rob Richardson brought the family out here. I been here round
Biscoe 58 years when it was sho nuf swamps and woods.

"I don't think the Ku Klux ever got after any us but I seen em, I
recken. I don't know but mighty little. The paddyrollers is what I
dreaded. Sometime the overseer was a paddyroller. My folks didn't go to
war. We didn't know what the war was for till it had been going on a
year or so. The news got circulated round the North was fighting to give
the black man freedom. Some of em thought they said that so they'd
follow and get in the lines, help out. Some did go long, some didn't
want to go get killed. Nobody never got nuthin, didn't know much when it
was freedom. I didn't see much difference for a year or more. We
gradually quit gettin' provisions up at the house and had to take a
wagon and team and go buy what we had. We didn't have near as much.
Money then like it is now, it don't buy much. It made one difference.
You could change places and work for different men. They had overseers
just the same as they did in slavery.

"The Reconstruction time was like this. You go up to a man and tell him
you and your family want to hire fer next year on his place. He say I'm
broke, the war broke me. Move down there in the best empty house you
find. You can get your provisions furnished at certain little store in
the closest town about. You say yesser. When the crop made bout all you
got was a little money to take to give the man what run you and you
have to stay on or starve or go get somebody else let you share crop wid
them. As the time come on the black man gets to handle a little mo
silver and greenbacks than he used to. Slaves didn't hardly ever handle
any money long as he live. He never buy nothin, he have no use for
money. White folks burried money durin the war. Some of them had a heap
of money.

"I have voted but I don't keep up wid it no mo. It been a long time
since I voted. This is the white folks country an they goiner run it
theirselves. No usen me vote. No use the women votin as I see it. Jes
makes mo votes to count. The rich white man is goiner run the country

"I farmed all my life. I been here in Biscoe fifty-eight years. I worked
for Richardson, Biscoe, Peeples, Nail. I owned a home, paid $150 for it.
I made it in three years when we had good crops.

"Times are harder now than I ever seen em here. If you have a hog you
have to pen it up and buy feed. If you have a cow, when the grass die,
she is to feed. If you have chickens there ain't no use talkin, they
starve if you don't feed em. No money to buy em wid an no money to buy
feed for em. Times is hard. Durin the cotton boom times do fine (cotton
picking time). The young folks is happy. They ain't got no thought of
the future. Mighty hard to make young folks think they ever get old.
Theys lookin at right now. Havin em a good time while they young."

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Green Gray
                      R.F.D. #1 Biscoe, Arkansas
  Age: 70--73?

"I was born after de war in Alabama. Then we went to Atlanta, Georgia.
Bout the first I recollect much bout was in Atlanta. I was seventeen
years old. They was building the town back up where it had been burnt.
If you was a carpenter you could get rough work to do. My father was a
farmer and had a family; soon as he could he come with a man he met up
wid to Sardis, Mississippi. He had twelve children. Some of em born down
in Mississippi. The reason we all went to Atlanta was dis--we was workin
fer a man, white man, named Armstrom. White woman told me go do
somethin, bring in a load er wood I think it was, and my mother told me
not to do it. He and my father had a fuss an he tied my father to some
rails and whooped him. Soon as they done that we all left. They hunted
us all night long. Crowd white folks said they goiner kill us. Some
fellow come on to Atlanta and told us bout em huntin us. Thater way
folks done. It muster been bout the very closin of the war cause I heard
em say I was give to my young mistress, Sallie Gray. I don't remember
who they say she married. I never did live wid em long fore my papa took

"The first free school was in Pinola County, Mississippi. I went to it.
The teacher was a white man named George Holliday.

"I votes a Republican ticket. Miss, I don't know nothin much bout votin,
cassionly I vote to help my side out a little. We used to elect our town
officers here in Biscoe but the white folks run it now. Professor Hardy
and Professor Walker was the postmasters (both Negroes) for a long
while. John Clay was constable and Oscar Clark magistrate (both
Negroes). One of the school board was Dr. Odom (Negro). They made pretty
fair officers.

"I was a cow herder, and a fire boy, and a farmer. When I come to Biscoe
I was a farmer. I married and had two children. My wife lef me and went
wid another fellar then she jumped in the river right down yonder and
drowned. I started workin at the sawmill and workin in the lumber. I
owns a little home and a spot of ground it on 25' × 90'. I made it
workin fer Mr. Betzner (white farmer). I'm farmin now.

"Times is hard. You can't get no credit. Between times that you work in
the crop it is hard to live. Used to by workin hard and long hours could
make a good livin. Wages better now, $1 to $1.75 a day. Long time ago
60¢ a day was the price. Then you could buy meat five and six cents a
pound. Now it 20¢. Flour used to be 40¢ a sack. Now it way outer sight.
The young folks don't work hard as I used to work but they has a heap
better chance at edgercation. Some few saves a little but everything jes
so high they can't get ahead very much. It when you get old you needs a
little laid by."

  Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
  Person interviewed: Neely Gray
                      818 E. Fifteenth, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  Age: 87

"I was born in Virginia. Dr. Jenkins bought my mother from a man named
Norman. Brought us here on the boat. I know I was walkin' and talkin'. I
don't remember about the trip, but I remember they said they had to keep
me out from fallin' in the river. I was too playified to remember
anything about it.

"Durin' the War I was a girl six or seven years old. Big enough to nuss
my mother's next chile, and she was walkin' and talkin' 'fore surrender.

"My mother was pushin' a hundred when she died. I was her oldest chile.
Sold with her.

"Dr. Jenkins had three women and all of 'em had girls. Raised up in the
house. Dr. Jenkins said, 'Doggone it, I want my darkies right back of my
chair.' He never did 'buse his colored folks. He was a 'cepted
(exceptional) man--so different. I never saw the inside of the quarters.

"Dr. Jenkins' house wasn't far from the river. You could hear the boats
goin' up and down all night.

"I was scared of the Yankees 'cause they always p'inted a gun at me to
see me run. They'd come in the yard and take anything they wanted, too.

"After surrender mama went and cooked for a man named Hardin.

"Hardest time I ever had was when I got grown and had to take care of my
mother and sister. Worked in the field.

"I was married out from behind a plow. Never farmed no more.

"My fust husband was a railroad man. I tried to keep up with him but he
went too fast; I couldn't keep up. He got so bad they finally
black-balled him from the road.

"I tell you nobody knows what it is till you go through with it. I've
had my bitters with the sweet.

"Been married four times and I've buried two husbands. I just raised one
chile and now she's dead. But I got great-grandchillun--third
generation--in Houston, Texas, but I never hear from 'em.

"I get along all right. The Welfare helps me and I try to live right."

  Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
  Person interviewed: Nely Gray
                      821 E. 18th Avenue, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  Age: 84
  Occupation: Does a little quilting

"Yes ma'm, I was sold from Richmond, Virginia. Dr. Jenkins bought my
mother when I was a little girl walkin' and talkin'. Put me up on the
block and sold me too. I was bout three years old.

"Dr. Jenkins was mighty good to his hands. Say he was goin' to raise his
little darkies up back of his chair. He thought lots of his colored

"I member seein' the Rebels ridin' horses, three double, down the road
time of the war. I used to run off from mama to the county band--right
where the roundhouse is now. Mama used to have to come after me. You
know I wasn't no baby when I shed all my teeth durin' slavery days.

"Yankee soldiers? Oh Lord--seed em by fifties and hundreds. Used to pint
the gun at me jest to hear me holler and cry. I was scared of em. They
come in and went in Dr. Jenkins' dairy and got what they wanted. And
every morning they'd blow that bugle, bugle as long as a broom handle.
Heard em blow 'Glory, Glory Hallelujah'. I liked to hear em blow it.

"Yankees marched all up and down the river road. They'd eat them navy
beans. I used to see where they throwed em in the fence corner. Saw so
many I don't like em _now_. They called em navy beans and I called em
soldier beans.

"I member it well. I'm a person can remember. Heap a folks tell what
other folks see but I tell what I see. Don't tell what nobody told me
and what I heard.

"I member when they had the battle in Pine Bluff. We was bout three
miles from here when they fit-up here. I member all of it.

"They started to send us to Texas and we got as far as the ravine when
they heard the Yankees wasn't comin' so we went back home.

"I stayed round the house with the white folks and didn't know what
nothin' was till after surrender. We stayed with Dr. Jenkins for a week
or two after surrender, then a man come and took my mother down in the
country. I don't know what she was paid--she never did tell us her

"I was mama's onliest girl and she worked me day and night. Hoed and
picked cotton and sewed at night. Mama learned me to knit and I used to
crochet a lot. She sure learned me to work and I ain't sorry.

"I worked in the field till I come out to marry a railroad man. I never
went to school but two or three months in my life directly after
freedom. My husband was a good scholar and he learned me how to read and
write. I learned my daughter how to read and write so when she started
to school they didn't have to put her in the chart class. When she was
six years old she could put down a figger as quick as you can.

"Been married four times and they's all dead now. Ain't got nobody but
myself. If it wasn't for the white folks don't know what I'd do.

"I used to cook for Dr. Higginbotham when she had company. She couldn't
do without old Nely. One time she sent for me to cook some hens. I
soaked em in soda water bout an hour and fried em and you couldn't tell
em from friers.

"I'm weak in my limbs now but I believe in stirrin'. Welfare helps me
but I quilts for people. Yes'm, I stirs--if I didn't I just couldn't
stand it.

"This here younger generation is gone. They ain't goin'--they's gone.
Books ain't done no good. I used to teach the Bible lesson once a week,
but I don't fool with em now. Ain't got no manners--chews gum and

"I got great grand children lives in Houston and they don't give me a
penny. I don't know what I'd do if twasn't for the Welfare.

"Used to wash and iron. I've ironed twenty shirts in one-half a day."

  MAY 11 1938
  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: "Happy Day" Green
                      Near Barton and Helena, Arkansas
  Age: Grown during the Civil War

"I don't know how old I is, young mistress. I was here 'fore the Civil
War, young mistress. I was born in South, Alabama, young mistress. Well,
it was nigh Montgomery, Alabama, young mistress. My mama name Emily
Green. She had three children to my knowing. I don't know no father. My
owner was Boss William Green, young mistress. His wife was Miss
Lizabuth, young mistress. They did have a big family, young mistress. To
my knowing it was: Billy, Charlie, Bunkum, Ida, Mary, Sally, Jimmy,
Buddy. I never went to school a day in my life, young mistress. When I
come on big 'nuff to work I had to help keer for mama and two girl
sisters, young mistress.

"When I come to this state, Van Vicks and Bill Bowman immigrated one
hundred head of us. They landed some of us at Helena. Our family was
landed at Phillips Bayou, young mistress.

"I was a cowboy, me and George. He was another black boy, young
mistress. We kept flies offen Boss William Green and Miss Lizabuth,
young mistress. They took naps purt nigh every day when it be the long
days (in summer), young mistress. Mama was milk woman. Boss William
Green had goats and 'bout a dozen heads of milch cows, young mistress. I
was willed to Mars Billy. He went off to war and died 'fore the War
begun, young mistress.

"Nobody run 'way from Boss William Green. He told 'em if they run off he
would whoop 'em. He didn't have no dogs, young mistress. They be a white
man near by owned nigger hounds, young mistress. He take his hounds, go
hunt a runaway, young mistress. You would pay him, I reckon, young

"I did get some whoopings, young mistress. They used a cow hide strap on
me, young mistress. They blistered me a right smart, young mistress.

"We didn't have so much to eat. They give us one peck meal, four pounds
meat a week. Mama done our cooking, young mistress. We had good clothes,
warm clothes, woolen clothes, young mistress. We had a few sheep about
the place. We had a few geese 'mong the turkeys, guineas, ducks, and
chickens. They kept the peafowls for good luck, young mistress.

"Fur a fact they had a big garden, young mistress. Boss William Green
worked the garden. He made us pull the plow--four of us boys. He said
the stock would tromp down more'n they'd make, young mistress. Two of
his boys and me and George pulled his plough. We had a big garden.

"I chopped in the field, picked up chips on the clearings. I chopped
cook wood right smart, young mistress.

"When freedom come on, grandpa come after mama. Boss William Green told
her, 'You free.' He give her ten bushels corn, good deal of meat--back
bone and spareribs. He come one Saturday evening, young mistress. She
took 'long whatever she had at our house in the way of clothing and such
lack, young mistress. Well, grandpa was share crapping, young mistress.

"The Ku Kluckses come one night. They kept us getting 'em water to run
through something under their sheets. The water was running out on the
ground. We did see it for a fact, young mistress. We was scared not to
do that. They was getting submission over the country, young
mistress. They would make you be quiet 'long the roadside, young
mistress. They would make you be quiet where you have meeting. They
would turn the pots down on the floor at the doors, young mistress. The
Ku Kluckses whooped some, tied some out to trees and left 'em. They was
rough, young mistress.

"I worked in the field all my life.

"Times is good fer me, young mistress. I live with my niece. I get
twelve dollars assistance 'cause I been sick, young mistress. I owns a
pony. All I owns, young mistress.

"I hab voted, young mistress. I'm too old to vote now, young mistress. I
reckon I voted both ways some, young mistress.

"Young folks is so strong and happy they is different from old folks,
young mistress."

  Interviewer: Watt McKinney
  Person interviewed: Henry Green
                      Barton, Arkansas
  Age: 90

Uncle Henry Green, an ex-slave ninety years of age, is affectionately
known throughout a large part of Phillips County as "Happy Day". This
nickname, acquired in years long past, was given him no doubt partly on
account of his remarkably happy disposition, but mainly on account of
his love for the old religious song, "Happy Day", that Uncle Henry has
enjoyed so long to sing and the verses of which his voice still carries
out daily over the countryside each morning promptly at daybreak and
again at sundown.

Uncle Henry and his old wife, Louisa, live with Uncle Henry's sister,
Mattie Harris, herself seventy-five years of age, on a poor forty acre
farm that Mattie owns in the Hyde Park community just off the main
highway between Walnut Corner and West Helena. Henry acts as janitor at
the Lutherian Church at Barton and the three do such farming as they are
able on the thin acres and with the few dollars that they receive each
month from the Welfare Board together with the supplies furnished them
at the Relief Office these three old folks are provided with the bare
necessities sufficient to sustain them.

Uncle Henry, his wife and sister Mattie are the most interesting of the
several ex-slave Negroes in this county whom it has been my pleasure and
good fortune to interview. As I sat with them on the porch of their old,
rambling log house the following incidents and account of their lives
were given with Uncle Henry talking and Mattie and Louisa offering
occasional explanations and corrections:

"Yes sir, Boss Man, my right name is Henry Green but eberybody, dey all
calls me 'Happy Day'. Dat is de name whut mos' all calls me fer so long
now dat heap of de folks, dey don't eben know dat my name is sho nuf
Henry Green. I sho ain't no baby, Boss Man, kase I is been here er long
time, dat I is, and near as I kin cum at hit I is ninety years old er
mo, kase Mattie sey dat de lady in de cote-house tell her dat I is
ninety-fo, en dat wuz three years er go. I is er old nigger, Boss Man,
en er bout de onliest old pusson whut is lef er round here in dis part
of de county. I means whut is sho nuf old, en what wuz born way bak in
de slabery times, way fo de peace wuz 'clared.

"Us wuz borned, dat is me en sister Mattie, er way bak dere in Souf
Alabama, down below Montgomery, in de hills, en on de big place whut our
ole marster, William Green, had, en whar de tanyard wuz. Yo see, old
marster, he runned er big tanyard wid all de res of he bizness, whar dey
tan de hides en mek de shoes en leather harness en sich lak, en den too,
marster, he raise eberything on de place. All whut he need fer de
niggers en he own fambly, lak cotton, wheat, barley, rice en plenty hogs
en cows. Iffen peace hadn't er been 'clared en Marse Billy hadn't er
died I wuz gwine ter be Marse Billy's property, kase I wuz already
willed ter Marse Billy. Marse Billy wuz old Marster William Green's
oldest son chile, en Marse Billy claimed me all de while. Marse Billy,
he went off to de War whar he tukkin sik en died in de camp, 'fore he
cud eben git in de fitin.

"Atter de War wuz ober en peace cum, my grandmammy en my grandpappy, dey
cum en got my mammy en all us chillun en tuk us wid dem ter Montgomery,
en dat wuz whar us wuz when dem two Yankee mens immigrated us here ter
Arkansas. Dey immigrated er bout er hundred head er niggers at de same
time dat us cum. My grandpappy en my grandmammy, dey didn't belong ter
old Marster William Green. I jist don't know whut white folks dey did
belong ter, but I knows dat dey sho cum en got my mammy en us chillun.
Old marster, he neber mine dem er leavin' en tole 'em dat dey free, en
kin go if us want ter go, en when us left old marster gib mammy ten
bushels er corn en some hog heads en spareribs en tole her ter bring de
chillun bak er gin 'fore long kase he gwine ter gib all de chillun some
shoes at de tanyard, but us neber did go bak ter git dem shoes kase we
wuz immigrated soon atter den.

"No sir, Boss Man, we don't know nuthin' 'bout who our pappy wuz. Dar
wuzn't no niggers much in slabery times whut knowed nuthin' 'bout dey
pappys. Dey jes knowed who dey mammys is. Dats all dey knowed 'bout dat.
Us neber hab no pappy, jes er mammy whut wuz name Emily Green.

"Boss Man, yo see how black I is en kinky dat my hair is en yo can see
dat me en sister Mattie is sho pure niggers wid no brown in us. Well, yo
know one thing, Boss Man, en dis is sho whut my mammy done tole us er
heap er times, en dat is dat when I wuz born dat de granny woman runned
ter old mis en tell her ter cum en look at dat baby whut Emily done
gibed birth ter, and dat I wuz nigh 'bout white en hed straight hair en
blue eyes, en when old mis seed me dat she so mad dat she gib mammy er
good stroppin kase I born lak dat but hit warn't long atter I born 'fore
I gits black, en old mis see den dat I er pure nigger, en den she tell
mammy dat she sorry dat she stropped her 'bout me being white en er
habin blue eyes en straight hair. No sir, Boss Man, I jes don't know how
cum I change but dat sho is whut mammy did tell us. Sister Mattie, she
know dat.

"Yes sir, Boss Man, I kin tell you all er bout de old slabery times, en
cordin ter whut I'se thinkin', en fer as me myself is, wid de times so
tight lak dey is now days wid me, and all de time be er stud'in' 'bout
how ter git er long, hit wud be er heap better fer hit to be lak hit wuz
den, kase us neber hed nuthin ter worry 'bout den cept ter do dat whut
we wuz tole ter do, en all de eatin' en de cloes wuz gib ter us. Our
marster trained us up right, fer ter do our wuk good en ter obey whut de
white folks sey en ter sho be polite to de white folks, en atter us lef
old marster den our mammy she trained us de same way, en we is always
polite, kase manners is cheap.

"All de nigger chillun in slabery time wore slips, bofe de gals en de
boys. Dere wuzn't no breeches fer de little ones eben atter dey git old
enuf ter wuk en go ter de fiel's, dey still wear dem slips, en dey used
ter feed us outen dem big wooden bowls whut dey mix de bread up in, wid
sometimes de pot-likker, en sometimes mostly wid de milk, en de chillun,
dey go atter dat grub en git hit all ober dey faces en dey hands en dey
slips en er bout de time dey git through eatin' de old mis she cum out
en when dey through old mis, she hab 'em ter wash dey hands en faces
nice en clean.

"On dem Sundays dat de marster want all de niggers ter go ter church fer
de preachin', he send dem all de order ter wash up good en clean en put
on dey clean cloes en git ready fer de preachin', en fust ter cum up dar
whar he waitin' ter see dat dey look good en nice en clean, en when us
git up dar ter de house lookin' fresh en good, de marster's folks, dey
talk lak dis ter one er nudder; dey sey: 'Look er here at my nigger,
Henry, dat boy is lookin' fine. He is gwine ter be er big healthy man en
er good wukker,' en atter dey all done looked all de niggers ober dey
tell 'em ter be gwine on ter de church en dey go on en sit in de bak
behine all de white folks en hear de white man preach. Dar wuzn't no
nigger preachers in dem days dat I ever seed.

"Now I know dat yo has heard of dem paddyrollers. Well, I tell yo, Boss
Man, dem paddyrollers, dey wuz bilious. Dey wuz de mens whut rid out on
de roads at night ter see dat all dem niggers whut wuz out en off dey
marster's places hed er pass from dey marsters. Dem paddyrollers, dey
wud stop er nigger whut dey find out at night en sey, 'Boy, whar yo
gwine? En is yo got yo pass?' En de Lawd help dem niggers whut dey cotch
widout dat pass. Iffen er nigger be cotch out et night widout de pass
writ down on de paper frum he marster, en dem paddyrollers cotch him,
dat nigger sho haf ter do sum good prayin' en pretty talkin' er else dey
tek him ter whar dey got four stobs drove down in de groun en dey tie he
hans en feet ter dem stobs en den ware him out wid er big heaby strop.
De mostest reason dat sometimes de niggers out at night is on account
dey courtin' some gal whut libes on some udder place. When yo see de
paddyrollers er comin' en yo ain't got no pass writ down on de paper en
yo don't want ter git er stroppin, den de onliest thing fer yo ter do is
ter run en try ter git on yer marster's place 'fore dey git yo, er try
ter dodge 'em er somepin lak dat. Iffen de paddyrollers got dem nigger
hounds wid 'em when de nigger break en run, den de onliest thing dat de
nigger kin do den is ter wuk de conjure. He kin wuk dat conjure on dem
hounds in seberal different ways. Fust, he kin put er liddle tuppentine
on he feet er in he shoe, en er lot er times dat will frow de hounds off
de track, er else, iffen he kin git er hold er some fresh dirt whar er
grabe ain't been long dug, en rub dat on he feet, den dat is er good
conjure, en mo dan dat iffen he kin git ter catch er yearlin calf by der
tail en step in de drappins whar dat calf done runned er long wid him
er holdin' on ter de tail, den dat is a sho conjure ter mak dem hounds
lose de track, en dat nigger kin dodge de paddyrollers.

"Lak I sey, Boss Man, 'bout de onliest thing dat de niggers in slabery
time wud lebe de place at night fer, wud be dey courtin', en mostly den
on er Wednesday er Saturday night, so I gwine ter tell yo how dey
sometimes dodge de paddyrollers whilst dey courtin' dere wimmens at
night. Yo see, mos' all de wimmens, dey be er wukkin at night on dey
tasks dat dere old mis gib 'em ter do, er weavin' er de cloth. Dese
wimmens wud be er settin' 'roun de fire weavin' de cloth en de nigger be
dar too er courtin' de gal, en all ter once here cum dem paddyrollers,
some at de front door en some at de back door, en when de wimmens er
hear 'em er comin', dey raise er loose plank in de flo whut dey done
made loose fer dis bery puppus, en de nigger he den drap right quick
down 'neath de flo twix de jists, en de wimmens den slap de plank right
bak in place on top er de man ter hide him, so iffen de paddyrollers
does come in dat dey see dat dere ain't no man in dar. Dat wuz de way
dat de niggers used ter fool 'em heap er times.

"I 'members dem days well when de War gwine on yit I neber did see no
Yankee mens er tall, en de closest dat us eber cumbed ter see de Yankees
wuz dat time when old marster hed de horn blowed ter signal de niggers
ter git de kerrige hosses en de milk cows off ter de woods kase he had
done heard dat de Yankees wuz er cumin, but dey missed us en dem
Yankees, dey neber find old marster's place. I seed some of our sojer
mens do, once, atter us lef old marster en go ter Montgomery wid our
grandpappy. Dese sojer mens, dey come in ter town on de train bak frum
de War whar dey been fitin fer so long, en dey happy en singin', dey so
glad dat peace done 'clared. Hit wuz er whole train full er dem Fedrit
sojers, en dey wimmens en chilluns all dere er huggin' en er kissin' 'em
ginst dey git off de train en gibin 'em cakes en sich good things ter

"Yes sir, Boss Man, de niggers wuz treated good in slabery times en wuz
trained up right, ter wuk, en obey, en ter hab good manners. Our old
marster, he neber wud sell er nigger en he feed 'em good, en dey lub en
'spected him. Yo sho hed better 'spect him, en iffen yo didn't dat strop
wud be er flyin'. All er old marster's niggers wuz good multiplyin'
peoples. Dey sho wuz, en dey raise big famblies. Dats one thing whut er
woman hed ter be in dem days er she sho be sold quick. Iffen she ain't
er good multiplier dey gwine ter git shut er her rail soon. Day tuk
extra pains wid dem good multiplyin' wimmins too en neber gib dem no
heaby wuk ter do no mo dan weavin' de cloth er sich roun de place.

"Whilst our old marster, he neber sell no niggers, de speculators, dey
hab 'em fer sale er plenty, en I has seed 'em er passin' in de road en
er long string er gwine ter de place whar de sale gwine ter be. 'Fore
dey git ter de sale place dey roach dem niggers up good jes lak dey
roach er mule, en when dey put 'em on de block fer de white mens ter bid
de price on 'em den dey hab 'em ter cut de shines en de pidgeon wing fer
ter show off how supple dey is, so dey bring de bes' price.

"Dey neber hed no farm bells in slabery times fer ter ring en call de
hans in en outen de fiel's. Dey hed horns whut dey blowed early en late.
De wuk wud go on till hit so dark dat dey can't see. Den de horn wud
blow en de niggers all cum in en git dey supper, en cook dey ash cakes
in de fire whut dey build in dey own cabins. Boss Man, is yo eber et er
ash cake? I don't 'spects dat yo know how ter mek one er dem ash cakes.
I gwine ter tell yo how dat is done. Fust yo git yo some good home groun
meal en mix hit well wid milk er water en a liddle salt an bakin'
powder whut yo mek outen red corn cobs, den yo pat dem cakes up right
good en let 'em settle, den put 'em in de hot ashes in de fireplace en
kiver 'em up good wid some mo hot ashes en wait till dey done, en Boss
Man, yo sho is got er ash cake dat is fitten ter eat. Dats de way dat us
made 'em in slabery times en de way dat us yit meks 'em. Us didn't know
whut white bread wuz in de old days, hardly, 'ceptin sometimes 'roun de
marster's kitchen er nigger wud git er hold of er biscuit. All de bread
dat de slabe niggers git wud be made outen cornmeal er dem brown shorts
whut de marsters gib 'em in de rashions.

"Us wuz all well fed do in slabery times en kept in good fat condition.
Ebery once in er while de marster wud hab er cow kilt en de meat
'stributed out mongst de folks en dey cud always draw all de rashions
dat dey need.

"Dey used ter hab dem big corn shuckin's too in de old days. De corn wud
be piled up in er pile es big es er house en all de han's wud be
scattered out roun' dat pile er corn shuckin' fas' as dey cud, en atter
dey done shucked dat pile er corn, ole marster wud hab two big hogs kilt
en cooked up in de big pots en kittles, en den dem niggers wud eat en
frolic fer de longes', mekin music wid er hand saw en er tin pan, en er
dancin', en laffin, en cuttin' up, till dey tired out. Dem wuz good
days, Boss Man. I sho wish dat I cud call dem times bak ergin. De
marsters whut hed de big places en de slabe niggers, dey hardly do no
wuk er tall, kase dey rich wid niggers en lan', en dem en dey famblies
don't hab no wuk ter do, so de old marsters en de young marsters, dey
jes knock erbout ober de country on dey hosses, en de young misses en de
old misses, dey ride er bout in de fine kerrige wid de coachman er doin'
de drivin'. Dey hab de oberseers ter look atter de mekin er de crops,
so de bosses, dey jes sort er manage, en see dat de bizness go on de
right way.

"De marsters en de misses, dey look atter dere niggers good do en see
dat dey keep demselves clean en 'spectible, en try ter keep de disease
outen 'em. Ebery Monday mornin' dey gib 'em all er little square, brown
bottle er bitters fer dem ter take dat week. Dat wuz dere medicine, but
iffen er nigger do git sick, den dey sent fer de doctor right er way en
hab de doctor ter 'zamine de sick one en sey, 'Doctor, kin you do dat
nigger eny good?' er 'Do whut yo kin fer dat nigger, Doctor, kase he is
er valuable han' en wuth muney.'

"I neber wuz sick none do in my life, but I jes nathally been kilt, near
'bout, one time in de gin when my head git cotched twixt de lever en de
band wheel en Uncle Dick hed ter prize de wheel up offen my head ter git
me loose, en dat jes nigh 'bout peeled all de skin offen my head. Old
marster, he gib me er good stroppin fer dat too. Dat wuz fer not
obeyin', kase he hed done tole all us young niggers fer ter stay 'way
frum de gin house.

"I wuzn't gwine ter be trained up ter wuk in de fiel's, I wuz trained
ter be er pussonal servant ter de marster, en sister Mattie, she wuz
gwine ter be trained up ter be er house woman, en so wuz my old woman,
Louisa, kase her mammy wuz er house woman herself fer her white folks in
South Carolina, so I rekkin dats de reason us always thought we so much
en better 'en de ginral run er niggers.

"Yes sir, Boss Man, de niggers is easy fooled. Dey always is been dat
way, en we wuz fooled er way frum Alabama ter Arkansas by dem two Yankee
mens, Mr. Van Vleet en Mr. Bill Bowman, whut I tole yo er bout, dat
brung dat hundred head er folks de time us cum. Dey tole us dat in
Arkansas dat de hogs jes layin' er roun already baked wid de knives en
de forks stickin' in 'em ready fer ter be et, en dat dere wuz fritter
ponds eberywhars wid de fritters er fryin' in dem ponds er grease, en
dat dar wuz money trees whar all yo hed ter do wuz ter pik de money
offen 'em lak pickin' cotton offen de stalk, en us wuz sho put out when
us git here en fine dat de onliest meat ter be hed wuz dat whut wuz in
de sto, en dem fritters hed ter be fried in de pans, en dat dar warn't
no money trees er tall. Hit warn't long 'fore my grandpappy en my
grandmammy, dey lef 'en went bak ter Alabama, but my mammy en us
chillun, we jes stayed on right here in Phillips County whar us been
eber since, en right en dat room right dar wuz whar us old mammy died
long years er go.

"Well, Boss Man, yo done ax me en I sho gwine ter tell yo de truf. Yes
sir, I sho is voted, en I 'members de time well dat de niggers in de
cotehouse en de Red Shirts hab ter git 'em out. Dat wuz de bes' thing
dat dey eber do when dey git de niggers outen de cotehouse en quit 'em
frum holdin' de offices, kase er nigger not fit ter be no leader. I
neber cud wuk under no nigger. I jes nathally neber wud wuk under no
nigger. I jist voted sich er length er time, en when de Red Shirts, dey
say dat er nigger not good enuf ter vote, en dey stopped me frum votin',
en I don't mess wid hit no mo.

"Yes sir, Boss Man, I blebe dat de Lawd lef' me here so long fer some
good puppose, en I sho hopes dat I kin stay here fer er heap er mo
years. I jes nathally lubes de white folks en knows dat dey is sho gwine
ter tek care of old 'Happy Day', en ain't gwine ter let me git hurt.

"De young niggers in dis day sho ain't lak de old uns. Dese here young
niggers is jes nathally de cause of all de trubble. Dey jes ain't been
raised right en ter be polite lak de old ones, lak me, I don't hold it
er gin yo, kase, mebbe yo pappy en yo mammy owned my pappy en my mammy
in slabery times en whupped 'em, kase I 'spects dat dey needed all de
punishment whut dey got. All de education whut I got, Boss Man, is jes
ter wuk, en obey, en ter lib right.

"I knows dat I ain't here far many mo years, Boss Man, en I sho hopes
dat I kin git ter see some of my marsters, de Greens, ergin, 'fore I
goes. I ain't neber been back since I lef, en I ain't neber heard frum
none of 'em since I been in Arkansas, en I know en cose dat all de old
uns is gone by now, but I 'spects dat some of de young uns is lef yit. I
wud sho lak ter go back dar ter de old place whar de tanyard wuz, but I
neber wud hab dat much money ter pay my way on de train, en den, I don't
rekkin dat I cud fine de way nohow. I wud git some of de white folks ter
write er letter back dar fer me iffen I know whar ter send hit, er de
name of some of my young marsters whut mebbe is dar still. Yes sir, Boss
Man, I sho hopes dat I kin see some of dem white folks ergin, en dat
some of dese days dey will fine me. Yo know I is de janitor at de church
at Walnut Corner whar de two hard roads cross, en whar all de cars cum
by. De cars, dey cum by dar frum eberywhars, en so ebery Sunday morning
atter I gits through er cleanin' up de church, I sets down on de bench
dar close ter Mr. Gibson's sto, whar dey sell de gasolene en de cold
drinks, en whar de cars cum by frum eberywhar, en I sets dar er lookin'
at all dem white folks er passin' in dey cars, en sometimes dey stop fer
ter git 'em some gasolene er sumpin, en I says ter myself dat mebbe one
er my young marsters sometimes gwine ter be in one of dem cars, en gwine
ter drive up dar er lookin' fer me. Er heap er times when de cars stop
dar will be er white gentman in de cars whut git out en see me a settin'
dar on de bench, en he sey, 'Uncle, yo is rail old, ain't yo?' An den he
ax me my name en whar I borned at, en er heap er times dey buy me er
cigar. Well, Boss Man, dats how cum I sets on dat bench dar at de road
crossin' at Walnut Corner ebery Sunday, mos' all day, atter I gits
through er cleanin' up de church, jes settin' dar watchin' dem cars cum
by en 'spectin one of dese days fer one of my young marsters ter drive
up en ter fine me er settin' dar waitin' fer him, en when he cum, iffen
he do, I know dat he sho gwine ter tek me back home wid him."

  Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
  Person interviewed: Frank Greene
                      2313 Saracen Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  Age: 78

"Yes'm, I can remember the Civil War and the Yankees, too. I can really
remember the Yankees and my old boss. I can't remember everything but I
can remember certain things just as good.

"Dr. Ben Lawton was my old boss. That was in South Carolina. That was
what they called Buford County at that time.

"Had a place they called the Honey Hill Fight. I used to go up there and
pick up balls.

"I can remember the Yankees had little old mules and blue caps and the
folks was runnin' from 'em.

"I remember old boss run off and hid from 'em--first one place and then

"I remember the Yankees would grab up us little folks and put us on the
mules--just for fun you know. I can remember that just as well as if
'twas yesterday--seems like.

"They burned old boss's place down. He had five or six plantations and I
know he come back and rebuilt after peace declared, but he didn't live

"He wasn't a mean man. He was good to his folks. We stayed there two
years after surrender and when I come to this country, I left some of my
uncles on that same place.

"I remember a white gentlemen in South Carolina would just jump his
horse over the fence and run over the folks, white and black, cotton and
all. He was a rich man and he'd just pay 'em off and go on. He wouldn't
put up the fence neither. He was a hunter--a sporting man.

"Me? Yes ma'am, I used to vote--the Republican ticket. We ain't nothin'
now, we can't vote. I never had any trouble 'bout votin' here but in the
old country we had some trouble. The Democrats tried to keep us from
votin'. Had to have the United States soldiers to open the way. That was
when Hays and Wheeler was runnin'.

"Here in the South the colored folks is free and they're not free. The
white folks gets it all anyway--in some places.

"But they ain't nobody bothered me in all my life--here or there.

"I went to school some after the war. Didn't have very much, but I
learned to read and write and 'tend to my own affairs.

"I have done farm work all my life and some public work. I got the same
ambition to work as I used to have but I can't hold it. I start out but
I just can't hold it.

"Just to pass my opinion of the younger generation, some of 'em
level-headed, but seems to me like they is a little rougher than they
was in my day.

"I think every one should live as an example for those coming behind."

  MAY 11 1938
  Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
  Person interviewed: George Greene
                      Temporary--1700 Pulaski St., Little Rock, Ark.
                      Permanent--Wrightsville, Ark.
  Age: 85?

Birth and Age

"I don't know when I was born. I don't know exactly, but I was born in
slavery time before the War began. I was big enough to wait on the table
when they was fighting. I remember when they was setting the Negroes
free. I was born in Aberdeen, Mississippi, in Monroe County. Seven miles
from the town of Aberdeen, out on the prairies, that is where I was

"I figure out my age by the white woman that raised me. She sent me my
age. When they was working the roads, my road boss, I told him I was
forty-five years old and he didn't believe it. So I sent to the white
woman that raised me from a month-old child. When I left her, I'd done
got grown. Her name was Narcissus Stephenson; she had all our ages and
she sent mine to me.

"She may be dead now. I could've stayed right there if she isn't dead,
because she never did want me to come away. Right out in Arkansas, I
come,--to my sorrow. Well, I done right well till I got crippled. Got
hit by an automobile. That's what I'm doin' here now."

Parents and Relatives

"My father's name was Nathan Greene. I reckon he went by that name, I
can't swear to it. I wasn't with him when he died. I was up in
Mississippi on the Mississippi River and didn't get the news in time to
get there till after he was dead. He was an old soldier. When the
Yankees got down in Mississippi, they grabbed up every nigger that was
able to fight. If I'd get his furlough papers, I'd a been drawin'
pension before I did. But his brother was with him when he died and he
let the dismiss papers get lost, and nobody got nothin'. Don't draw
nothin' from it at all. Couldn't find the papers when I was down there.

"I don't know whether my father used his master's name or his father's
name. His father's name was Jerry Greene, and his master's name was
Henry Bibb. I don't know which name he went by, but I call myself Greene
because his father's name was Jerry Greene. No Bibb owned him at first.
Jerry Greene was born in North, Alabama in Morgan County. That's where
he was born. Bibb bought him and brought him down to Mississippi where I
was born. Lord! Old Man Bibb owned a lot of 'em, too. My father and
grandfather were both colored but my grandfather was an old yellow man.
You know, he had to take his color after his papa. I don't know my
great-grandfather's name. They can't tell nothin' 'bout that in them
days. His papa, my grandfather's papa, I can't tell for sure whether he
was white or black.

"My mother's name was Adeline Greene. Grandpa's wife's name was Louisa.
She was one of these kinder mixed with Indian. She lived to see a many a
year before she died. She lived to be a hundred and fifteen years of age
before she died. I knowed Grandma Louisa. Up until I was a man grown.
She was about my color with long straight hair and black (hair). Old
Lady Bibb was her mistress. She died way after freedom.

"I don't know mama's age. I was here in Arkansas when she died. Didn't
know she was dead until a month after she was buried. She died in
Mississippi. Grandma, mama, and all of them died in Mississippi.

"My grandma on my mother's side was named--I can't remember her name,
but I knowed her. I can't remember what the old man's name was neither.
It's been so long it just went from my memory. They never told me much
neither. Folks didn't talk much to children in those days. I wouldn't
hardly have thought of it now anyway."

House and Furniture

"A old log house was what I was born in,--when I come out from
Mississippi that old house was still standing. Aw, they put up houses
them days. It had one room. Didn't have but one room,--one window, one
door,--didn't have but one door to go in and out. I remember that well.
Didn't have no whole parcel of doors to go in and out. Plank floors. I
wasn't born on the dirt! I was born on planks. Our house was up off the
ground. We had a board roof. We used four foot boards. Timber was
plentiful then where they could make boards easy. Boards was cheap.
There wasn't no such things as shingles. Didn't have no shingle

"We didn't have nothing but on old wooden bed. It wasn't bought. It was
made. Made it at home. Carpenter made it. Making wooden beds was perfect
then. They'd break down every two or three years. They lasted. There was
boards holding then. Wasn't no slats nor nothing. Nail them boards to
the post and to the sides of the house, and that was the end of it with
some people. We had a corded bed. Put them ropes through the sides and
corded them up there as tight as Dick's hatband--and they stayed. They
made their own boards, and made their own ropes, and corded them
together, and they stayed. Chairs! Shucks! They just took boxes. They
made chairs too--took shucks and put bottoms in them. Them chairs
lasted. Them shucks go way, they'd put more there. Wish I had one of
them chairs now. We made a box and put our rations in it. Them days they
made what they called cupboards. They made anything they wanted to. When
they got free, they'd buy dishes. When they got free, boxes and
cupboards went out of style. They bought safes. There wasn't no other
furniture. We used tin pans for dishes in slavery time. When we got
free, we bought plates.

"When them pans fell they didn't break. They even as much as made their
own trays to make bread in. They would take a cypress tree and dig it
out and them scoundrels lasted too. Don't see nothin' like that now. Tin
pan is big enough to make up bread in now. In them days they made
anything. Water buckets,--they did buy them. Old master would give 'em a
pass to go get 'em. Anything they wanted, he would give 'em if he
thought it necessary. Old master would get 'em all the buckets. He was
good and he would buy what you would ask him for. They made milk
buckets. They made 'em just like they make 'em now."

Work of Family in Slave Time

"My people were all field hands. My master had a great big farm--three
or four hundred acres. I waited table when I was a little chap and I
learned to plow before the War was over."

Good Master

"Old Man Bibb was as good and clever a man as ever you knowed. That
overseer down there, if he whipped a man Old Man Bibbs would say,
'Here's your money. Don't want you beating up my niggers so they can't
work. I don't need you.' He'd tell 'im quick he don't need him and he
can git. That's the kind of man he was. Wouldn't let you be mobbed up.
He was a good christian man. I'll give that to him. In the time of the
War when they was freeing slaves and I was a little old eight-year-old
kid, there was a little old Dutchman, a Tennessee man, he came out in
the country to get feed. Out there in Alabama.

"I was in Alabama then. The white woman that raised me had taken me
there. She had done married again and left me with mama awhile. While I
was little, that was. When I was about seven, she came and got me again
and carried me down in Alabama and raised me with her children. That
white woman never called me nothin' but baby as long as she lived. You
know she cared for me just like I was one of her's. When a person raise
a child from a month old she can't help from loving it.

"This Dutchman come and asked me where my parents was and I told him
they was in Mississippi. He slipped me away from my folks and carried me
to Decatur and they got cut off there. He was a Yankee soldier, and old
Forrest's army caught 'em and captured me and then carried me first
nearly to Nashville. They got in three miles of the town and couldn't
get no closer. They ran us so we never got no res' till we got to
Booneville, Mississippi. Then I sent word to Bibb and my uncle came up
and got me. Him and Billie Bibb, my young master. Billie Bibb was a
soldier too. He was home on a furlough. I was glad to see him because I
tell you in the army there was suffering. But I'll tell you I'll give
them credit, those Tennessee men took care of me just as though I was
their own. I was in a two mule wagon. I drove it. I was big enough to
drive. The ambulance man stopped in Nashville to see his folks and got a
furlough and went on home."


"I learned how to work--work in the field. Wasn't nothing but field
work. I learned how to hoe first. But in Alabama I learned how to plow.
I didn't want to be no hoe man; I wanted to plow. When I went back to
Mississippi, they put me on the plow. I was just eight years old when I
learned to plow."

Share cropping

"Right after freedom, I just kept on plowing. We share cropped. My mama
and I would take a crop. She'd work. We'd all work like the devil until
I got a job and went to town. She was willing to let me go. That was
when I married too."

How Freedom Came

"All I know about freedom was Old Man Henry Bibb come out and told us we
was free. That is how I came to know it. He came out there on the farm
and said, 'Well, you all free as I am. You can stay here if you want to
or you can go somewhere else.' We stayed. Mama stayed there on the farm
plumb till she come to town. I don't know how many years. I was there in
town and so she come onto town later. Moved in with the people she was
with. They gave up their place. I was nineteen years old when I left the
country. My mother gave me her consent,--to marry then, too. She came to
town a few years later.

"The slaves weren't given nothin' after they was freed. Nothing but what
they worked for. They got to be share croppers."

Ku Klux Klan

"The Ku Klux never bothered me but they sure bothered others. Way yonder
in Mississippi directly after the surrender, they'd hated it so bad they
killed up many of them. They caught white men there and whipped them and
killed them. They killed many a nigger. They caught a white man there
and whipped him and he went on up to Washington, D. C. and came back
with a train load of soldiers. They came right down there in the south
end of our town and they carried them Ku Kluxers away by train loads
full. They cleaned out the east side of the river. The Ku Klux had been
stringing up niggers every which way. 'Twasn't nothin' to find a nigger
swinging up in the woods. But those soldiers come from Washington City.
If they didn't clean 'em up, I'll hush.

"I don't know what become of 'em. They never did come back to Aberdeen."

Occupations Followed and Life Since Freedom

"I ain't worked a lick in four or five years. If I lived to see August
tenth, I will be eighty-six years old. I used to follow railroading or
saw milling or farming. That is what I followed when I was able to work.
The last work I did was farming, working by the day--a dollar and a half
a day. And they cut it down and cut me down. Now they ain't giving
nothing. If a man gets six bits a day he doing good. Harder times in
Arkansas now than I have ever seen before. If a man is able to take care
of his family now, he is doing well. They don't give niggers nothing

"The only way I live is I get a little pension. They give me eight
dollars a month and commodities. That is all I live on now. That keeps
me up, thank God. I have been getting the pension about ever since they
started. I reckon it is about two years. I have been receiving it every
month. It ain't failed yet. They been taking care of me pretty well ever
since they started. First start it wasn't nothin' but rations. They give
me groceries enough to las' me every month. I had a wife then.

"I have been a _widow_ now four years. Four years I've been a _widow_. But
there ain't nothin' like a man staying in his own house. I have made out
now for four years. Right there cooking and washing for George! I didn't
have nothing else to do. Fellow can't tell what day the Lord will say,
'Stop', but as long as I am this way, I'll keep at it.

"This soreness in my leg keeps me in bad shape. I came here to get my
leg fixed. It gets so I can't walk without a stick. I don't like to stay
with other folks. They're sinners and they use me sorta sinful--speak
any sort of language. But they sure 'nough treats me nice.

"I got my leg hurt last December. Car ran into me at Wrightsville, and
knocked me down and threw me far as from here to that thing (about
fifteen feet). After they flung me down, I was flat on my back a long
while. I couldn't move. When a fellow gets old and then gets crippled
up, it's hard. But I'm gettin' 'long pretty well now, 'cept that this
leg ain't strong."

  DEC -- 1937
  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Andrew Gregory
                      Brinkley, Arkansas
  Age: 74

"I was born in Carroll County, Tennessee. My mother was owned by
Houston. She said when war was declared he was at a neighbor's house. He
jumped up and said, 'I gonner be the first to kill a Yankee.' They said
in a few minutes he fell back on the bed dead. My father owner was
Tillman Gregory. After freedom he stayed on sharecroppin'. From what he
said that wasn't much better than bein' owned. They had to work or
starve. He said they didn't make nobody work but they didn't keep nobody
from starvin' if they didn't go at it. They was proud to be free but
that didn't ease up the working.

"My people stayed on in Tennessee a long time. When I was nineteen years
old they was making up a crowd to come here to work. Said the land was
new. I come wid them. It was a big time. We come on the Hardcash
(steamboat). I farmed and cleared land all my life. I sold wood, hauled
wood. I've done all kinds of form work. I get $12 from the Welfare

"The young generation is a puzzle to me. That why I stand and watch what
they do. The folks make the times. It's a puzzle to me too."

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Annie Griegg
                      Madison, Arkansas
  Age: 84

"I was born a slave, born in Nashville, Tennessee. I was sold twice. I
don't recollect my mother; I was so small when I was parted from her. I
had two sisters and I recollect them. One of my sisters was sold the
same day I was sold and I recollect my other sister was named Rebecca. I
never seen her no more after I was sold. I was the youngest.

"Mother belong to Captain Walker. That was before the Civil War so I
know he wasn't an officer in it. His daughter married a man named Mr.
Foster. Captain Walker had give me to his daughter when she married.
They lived in Nashville, Tennessee too. Mr. Foster sold me and Captain
Walker sold my sister Ann and Mr. Bill Steel Henderson at Columbia,
Tennessee bought us both and give my sister to his widowed sister for a
house girl and nurse and he kept me.

"They lived close to us and my sister stayed at our house nearly all the
time. My sister and me was sold for the some price, $100 a piece. She
could count and knew a dollar. She had some learning then. I never went
to school a day in my life.

"The first block was a big tree and stumps sawed off for steps by the
side of it. The big tree had been sawed off up high. The man cried me
off standing on the next stump step. My sister told me our mother was a
cook at Captain Walker's. She told me my father was a Foster. It was my
understanding that he was a white man. My sister was darker than I was.
Mr. Foster sold me for a nurse. Mr. Henderson's sister was name Mrs.
McGaha (?). My sister nursed and cooked. I nursed three children at Mr.
Henderson's. He was good to me. I loved the children and they was crazy
about me. He sold me to Mr. Field Mathis. I nursed four children for
them. I never did know why I was sold. Mr. Henderson was heap the best.
Mr. Henderson never hit me a lick in his life.

"Mathis was cruel. He drank all the time. He got mad and stamped my
hand. I nearly lost the use of my hand. It was swollen way up and hurt
and stayed riz up till his cousin noticed it. He was a doctor. He lived
in the other end of the house--the same house. He found some bones was
broke loose in my hand (right hand). Dr. Mathis (Dr. Mathis or Dr.
Mathews who died at Forrest City, Arkansas) set his brother out about
treating little nurse thater way. Told him he oughter be ashamed of
hisself. Dr. Mathis splintered my hand and doctored it till it got well.

"Mr. Field Mathis was a merchant. They moved to Colt, Arkansas at the
beginning of the War, Dr. and Mr. Field Mathis both. We come on the
train and steamboats. It was so new to me I had a fine time but that is
all I can tell about it. Mr. Field was cross with his wife. She was
fairly good to me. I had all the cooking, washing and ironing to do
before I left there.

"After we come to Arkansas I never got to see my sister. My husband was
a good scholar. He could write. He wrote and wrote back to find my
sister and mother but they never answered my letters. I asked everybody
that come from there about my sisters and mother but never have heard a
word. I slept on a pallet on the floor nearly all my life. I had a
little bed at Mr. Henderson's.

"I didn't know it was freedom till one day when I was about fourteen or
fifteen years old--judging from my size and what I done. I went off to a
spring to wash. I had one pot of clothes to boil and another just out of
the pot to rub and rinse. A girl come to tell me Mrs. Field had company
and wanted me to come cook dinner. I didn't go but I told her I would be
on and cook dinner soon as I could turn loose the washing. There was two
colored girls and a white girl could done the cooking but I was a good
cook. The girl put on the water for me to scald the chickens soon as she
went to the house. When I got there Mrs. Field Mathis had a handful of
switches corded together to beat me. I picked up the pan of boiling
water to scald the chickens in. She got scared of me, told me to put the
pan down. I didn't do it. I didn't aim to hurt her. I wouldn't throwed
that boiling water on nothing. She sent to the store for her husband. He
come and I told him how it was about the clothes and three girls there
could cook without me. He got mad at her and said: 'Mary Agnes, she is
as free as you are or I am. I'm not going to ever hurt her again and you
better not.' That is the first I ever heard about freedom. It had been
freedom a long time. I don't know how long then.

"I stayed on, washed out the clothes and strung them up that evening. I
ironed all the clothes and cooked the rest of the week. Mr. Field got me
a good home with some colored folks. He told me if I would go there he
never would let nobody bother me and he never would mistreat me no more.
I worked some for them but they paid me. She ought to thought a heap of
me the way I cooked and worked for her. That was my freedom. I was sold
on a platform to Mr. Mathis.

"After freedom I done field work. I never seen a Ku Klux in my life. I
cooked out some and I married. I still cooked out. I was married once
and married in a church. I have seven children living and seven dead.

"I live with my daughter and her family and I get $6 and commodities.
I'm mighty thankful for that. It helps me a whole lots.

"I recken young folks do the best they know to do. Seems like folks are
kinder hearted than they used to be. Times have changed a heap every
way. Times is harder for poor folks than the others. It is a true saying
that poor folks have hard ways and rich folks have mean ways. They are
more selfish. I always had to work hard. Both times I was sold for

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Persons interviewed: William and Charlotte Guess
                       West Memphis, Arkansas
  Ages: 68 and 66

William Guess

"I was born in Monroe County, Arkansas. Father come from Dallas, Texas
when a young man before he married. Him and two other men was shipped in
a box to Indian Bay. I've heard him and Ike Jimmerson laugh how they got
bumped and bruised, hungry and thirsty in the box. I forgot the name of
the other man in the box. They was sent on a boat and changed boats
where they got tumbled up so bad. It was in slavery or war times one.
White folks nailed them up and opened them up too I think. Father was
born in Dallas, Texas. Mother was a small woman and come from Tennessee.
Billy Boyce in Monroe County owned her. That is the most I ever heard my
folks tell about the Civil War."

Charlotte Guess

"Mother was born in Dallas, Texas. She was born into slavery. She was a
field woman. She was sold there and brought to Mississippi at about the
close of the Civil War. She was sold from her husband and two children.
She never seen them. She farmed cotton and corn in Texas. Her husband
whooped her, so she was glad to be sold. She married after the surrender
to another man in Mississippi. No, he didn't beat her. They had
disputes. She was the mother of ten children. She lived to be 82 years
old. She went from Arkansas back to Mississippi to die."


It would be interesting if I could find out more about why the Negroes
were sent in the box. He seemed not to know all about it. This Negro man
when young was a light mulatto. He is light for his age. He looks and
acts white. Has a spot on one eye.

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Lee Guidon
                      Clarendon, Arkansas
  Age: 89

"Yes maam I sho was in the Cibil War. I plowed all day and me and my
sister helped take care of the baby at night. It would cry and me
bumpin' it. [In a straight chair, rocking.] Time I git it to the bed
where its mama was it wake up and start cryin' all over again. I be so
sleepy. It was a puny sort o' baby. Its papa was off at war. His name
was Jim Cowan an' his wife Miss Margaret Brown 'fore she married him.
Miss Lucy Smith give me and my sister to them. Then she married Mr. Abe
Moore. Jim Smith was Miss Lucy's boy. He lay outen the woods all time.
He say no needen him gittin' shot up and killed. He say let the slaves
be free. We lived, seemed lack, on 'bout the line of York an' Union
Counties. He lay out in the woods over in York County. Mr. Jim say all
they fightin' 'bout was jealousy. They caught him several times but ebry
time he got away frum 'em. After they come home Mr. Jim say they never
win no war. They stole and starved out the South.

"They didn't want the slaves talkin' 'bout things. One time I got ruffed
up and I say I was goin' to freedom--the wood whar Mr. Jim be--and I
recollect we was crossin' over a railin' fence. My ma put her hand over
my mouth like dis, and say you don't know anything 'bout what you sain'

"I neber will forgit Mr. Neel. He was all our overseer. He say 'Lee Good
Boy' plows so good. He never spoke an unkind word in his life to me.
When I haf to go to his house he call me in an' give me hot biscuits or
maybe a potato. I sure love potato [sweet potatoes]. He was a good old
Christian man. The church we all went to was made outer hand hewd
logs--great big things. My pa lived in Union County on the other side
the church.

"He lived to be 103 years old. Ma lost her mind. They both died right
here with me--a piece outer town. He was named Pompey and ma Fannie. Her
name 'foe freedom was Fannie Smith, then she took the name Guidon.

"After freedom a heap of people say they was going to name their selves
over. They named their selves big names then went roaming 'round lack
wild, huntin' cities. They changed up so it was hard to tell who or whar
anybody was. Heap of 'em died an' you didn't know when you hear 'bout it
if he was your folks hardly. Some of the names was Abraham an' some
called their selves Lincum. Any big name 'ceptin' their master's name.
It was the fashion. I herd 'em talking 'bout it one ebenin' an' my pa
say fine folks raise us an' we goiner hold to our own names. That
settled it wid all of us.

"Ma was a sickly woman all her life. They kept her 'round the house to
help cook and sweep the yards. Not a speck of grass, not a weed growd on
her yard. She swep it 'bout two times a week. It was prutty and white.
The sand jes' shined in the sun. Had tall trees in the yard.

"I can't recollect 'bout my papa's master cause I was raised at my
mama's master's place. He said many and many a time Joe Guidon never
had to whoop him. After he growd up he never got no whoopins a tall.
Joe Guidon learned him to plow an' he was boss of the plow hands. His
wife was named Mariah Guidon. He say she was a mighty good easy woman

"Saturday was ration day and Sunday visitin' day. But you must have your
pass if you leave the farm an' go over to somebody elses farm.

"When I was a boy one thing I love to do was go to stingy Tom's still
house. His name was Tom Whiteside. He sure was stingy and the meanest
white man I ever seed. I went to the still house to beat peaches to make
brandy. It was four miles over there and I rode. We always made least
one barrel of peach brandy and one of cider. That would be vinegar
'nough by spring. 'Simmon beer was good in the cole freezin' wether too.
We make much as we have barrels if we could get the persimmons. He had a
son name Bill Whitesides.

"Once an old slave woman lost her mind. Stingy Tom sent her to get a
Bull tongue and she chased after one of the bulls down at the lot try
in' to catch it. She set his barn fire and burned thirteen head of
horses and mules together. Stingy Tom had the sheriff try to get her
tell what white folks put her up to do it. He knowed they all hated him
cause he jes' so mean. The old woman never did tell but they hung her
anyhow. There was a big crowd to see it. Miss Lucy jes' cried and cried.
She say Satan got no use for Stingy Tom he so mean. That the first
person I ever seed hung. They used to hang folks a heap. The biggest
crowds turned out to see it.

"The old woman's son he went to the woods he so hurt cause they going to
hang his ma.

"The Missouri soldiers were worse than the Yankees. They waste an' steal
your corn and take your horses. They brought a little girl they stole
and let Stingy Tom have her. He kept her and treated her so mean. They
thrash out wheat and put it on big heavy sheets to dry. The little girl
had to sit outen the sun an' keep the chickens offen it. I seed him find
her 'sleep and hit hard as he could in the face wid big old brush. It
was old dogwood brush wid no leaves on it. He wouldn't let that little
girl have no biskit on Sunday mornin'. Everybody had all the hot biskit
they could eat on Sunday mornin'. Well after freedom, long time, her
aunt heard she was down there and come an' got her. She grow up to be a
nice woman. Them same Missouri soldiers took Henry Guidon (younger
brother of Lee Guidon) off. Stole him from the master--stole his mule.
They was so mean. They found out when they shoot, the mule so scared it
would throw Henry. They kept it up and laughed. Course it hurt Henry.
Liable to kill him. They say they making a Yankee soldier outen him that
way. One night before they got too fur gone he rode off home. They burn
whole cribs corn. Could smell it a long ways off. They was mean to

"I recken I do know 'bout the Ku Kluck. I knowed a man named Alfred
Owens. He seemed all right but he was a Republican. He said he was not
afraid. He run a tan yard and kept a heap of guns in a big room. They
all loaded. He married a southern woman. Her husband either died or was
killed. She had a son living wid them. The Ku Kluck was called Upper
League. They get this boy to unload all the guns (16 shooters). Then the
white men went there. The white man give up and said, 'I ain't got no
gun to defend myself wid. The guns all unloaded an' I ain't got no
powder and shot.' But the Ku Kluck shot in the houses and shot him up
like lace work. He sold fine harness, saddles, bridles--all sorts of
leather things. The Ku Kluck shure run them outen their country. They
say they not going to have them 'round and they shure run them out, back
where they came from.

"Charles Good had a blacksmith. They [the Missouri soldiers] opened a
fence gap when they came through. They took him, tied him to a tree and
shot him in the face with little shot. He suffered there till Wednesday
when he was still living. They tied him to the tree wid his own
gallowses. They was doubled and strong. Then some of them went down
there and finished up the job beating him over the head with the guns
till he was dead. The Ku Kluck broke up every gun they could find. They
sure better not ketch a gun at the quarters of colored folks. They whoop
him and break up the gun. Ask him where he got that gun and start more
bad trouble.

"They packed a two-story jail so full of men they had orders to turn 'em
out. Then they built a high fence 'bout eight foot tall and put 'em in
it. They had lights and guards all 'round it. They kept 'em right out in
the hot sun in that pen. That's where the Yankees put the Ku Klucks.
Then they had trials and some was sent to Albany for three years and
eight years and the like. They made glass at Albany. Them Yankees
wouldn't let 'em have no bonds. Then the white folks told them they
needn't settle among them. They owned all the land and wouldn't sell
them a foot for nuthing. A heap of lawyers and doctors got in it. That
fence was iron and bob wire. The Ku Kluck killed good men, but

"We stayed on like we were 'cause we done put in the crop and the Ku
Kluck never did bother us. We made a prutty good crop. Then we took our
freedom. Started workin' fer money and part of the crop.

"I married in 1871. Me and Emma went to bed. Somebody lam on the door.
Emma say 'You run they won't hurt me.' I say 'They kill me sure.' We
stayed and opened the door. They pull the cover offen her looking. They
lifted up a cloth from over a barrel behind the bed in the corner. I say
that are a hog. He say we right from hell we ain't seen no meat. Then
they soon gone. The moon shining so bright that night. They were lookin'
for my wife's brother I heard 'em say. They say he done something or

"Charleston was the nearest a army ever come to me but I seed a heap of
soldiers on the roads. One road was the Rock Hill road.

"One man I heard 'em talk cheap about had the guns and powder. They shot
holes in the walls. He climbed up in the fireplace chimney and stood up
there close to the brick. It was dark and they couldn't see him. They
looked up the chimney but didn't see him. It was a two-story chimney.
Lady if you ain't never seen one I can't tell you just how it was. But
they shot the house full of holes and never harmed him.

"For them what stayed on like they were Reconstruction times 'bout like
times before dat 'ceptin' the Yankees stole out an' tore up a scanlus
heap. They tell the black folks to do something and then come white
folks you live wid and say Ku Kluck whoop you. They say leave and white
folks say better not listen to them old Yankees. They'll git you too fur
off to come back and you freeze. They done give you all the use they got
fer you. How they do? All sorts of ways. Some stayed at their cabins
glad to have one to live in an' farmed on. Some runnin' 'round beggin',
some hunting work for money an' nobody had no money 'ceptin' the Yankees
and they had no homes or land and mighty little work fer you to do. No
work to live on. Some goin' every day to the city. That winter I heard
'bout them starving and freezing by the wagon loads.

"I never heard nuthing 'bout votin' till freedom. I don't think I ever
voted till I come to Mississippi. I votes Republican. That's the party
of my color and I stick to them long as they do right. I don't dabble in
white folk's buzness an' that white folks votin' is their buzness. If I
vote I go do it and go on home.

"I been plowin' all my life and in the hot days I cuts and saws wood.
Then when I gets outer cotton pickin' I put each boy on a load of wood
an' we sell wood. Then we clear land till next spring. I don't find no
time to be loafing. I never missed a year farming till I got the Brights
disease an' it hurt me to do hard work. The last years we got $3 a cord.
Farmin' is the best life there is when you are able.

"I come to Holly Springs in 1850, stopped to visit. I had six children
and $90 in money. We come on the train. My parents done come on from
South Carolina to Arkansas. Man say this ain't no richer land than you
come from. I tried it seven years. I drove from there, ferried the
rivers. It took a long time. We made the best crop I ever seed in 1888.
I had eight children, my wife. I cut and hauled wood all winter. I soon
had three teams haulin' wood to Clarendon. Some old men, [white men]
mean things! Learned one of my boys to play craps. They done it to git
his money.

"When I owned most I had six head mules and five head horses. I rented
140 acres of land. I bought this house and some other land about. The
anthrax killed nearly all my horses and mules. I got one big fine mule
yet. Its mate died. I lost my house. My son give me one room and he
paying the debt off now. It's hard for colored folks to keep anything.
Somebody gets it frum 'em if they don't mind.

"The present times is hard. Timber is scarce. Game is about all gone.
Prices higher. Old folks cannot work. Times is hard for younger folks
too. They go to town too much and go to shows. They going to a tent show
now. Circus coming they say. They spending too much money for
foolishness. It's a fast time. Folks too restless. Some of the colored
folks work hard as folks ever did. They spends too much. Some folks is
lazy. Always been that way.

"I signed up to the Governmint but they ain't give me nuthin' 'ceptin'
powdered milk and rice what wasn't fit to eat. It cracked up and had
black somethin' in it. A lady said she would give me some shirts that
was her husbands. I went to get them but she wasn't home. These heavy
shirts give me heat. They won't give me the pension an' I don't know
why. It would help me buy my salts and pills and the other medicines
like Swamp Root. They won't give it to me."

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Linley Hadley
                      Madison, Arkansas
  Age: 77

"I was born the very day the Civil War started, April 12, 1861. I was
born in Monroe County close to Aberdeen, Mississippi. My papa was named
Dave Collins. He was born far back as 1832. He was a carriage driver.

"Mama was born same year as papa. She was a field hand and a cook. She
could plough good as any man. She was a guinea woman. She weighed
ninety-five pounds. She had fourteen children. She did that. Had six or
seven after freedom. She had one slave husband. Her owners was old
Master Wylie Collins and Mistress Jane. We come 'way from their place in

"I can recollect old Master Collins calling up all the niggers to his
house. He told them they was free. There was a crowd of them, all mixes.
Why all this took place now I don't know. Most of the niggers took what
all they have on their heads and walked off. He told mama to move up in
the loom house, if she go off he would kill her. We moved to the loom
house till in 1866.

"One night some of the niggers what had been Collins' slaves come and
stole all mama's children, toted us off on their backs at night. Where
we come to cross the river, Uncle George Tunnel was the ferryman. He had
raised mama at his cabin at slavery. He took us to his white folks. We
lived with them a year and then mama moved on Bill Cropton's place and
we lived there forty years. All the Croptons dead now.

"We come to Arkansas in 1891 close to Cotton Plant. 1898, I come to
Madison. Been here ever since.

"Grandma belong to Master Rogers where we knowed George Tunnel. Mama,
named Harriett, and Aunt Miller was sold. A man in Texas bought Aunt
Miller. We never could hear a word from her. After freedom we tried and
tried. Master Collins was mean. You couldn't lay your hand on mama's
back without laying it on marks where she had been beat. All his niggers
was glad to leave him. They stripped mama's clothes down to her waist
and whooped her, beat the blood out with cowhides. Master Collins 'lowed
his niggers to steal, then his girls come take some of it to their house
to eat. Master Collins didn't have no boys.

"Papa was a little chunky man. He'd steal flour and hogs. He could tote
a hog on his back. My papa went on off when freedom come. They was so
happy they had no sense. Mama never seen him no more. I didn't neither.
Mama didn't care so much about him. He was her mate give to her. I
didn't worry 'bout him nor nobody then.

"Master Collins did give us plenty to wear and eat too. When I left
there we all worked. Mama married ag'in. We kept on farming. I farmed
all my life.

"I got a boy what works. We own our house and all this place (one-half
acre). I don't get no help from nowhere. Seem like them what works and
tries ought to be the ones to get help and not them what don't never pay
no taxes. Fast generation it is now. But they don't bother me. I got a
good boy. Times is hard. Everything you have to buy is high."

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Anna Hall (mulatto)
                      Brinkley, Arkansas
  Age: 68

"I don't know nuthin' cept what I heard folks talk 'bout when I was a
child. I was born good while after that war. My folks lived in Scott
County near Jackson, Mississippi when I was little and in slavery times
too. My mother's mistress was Miss Dolly Cruder. She was a widow and run
her own farm. I don't remember her. She give her own children a cotton
patch apiece and give the women hands a patch about and they had to work
it at night. If the moon didn't give light somebody had to hold a literd
(lantern) not fur from 'em so they could see to hoe and work it out. I
think she had more land then hands, what they made was to be about a
bale around for extra money. It took all the day time working in the big
field for Miss Dolly. I heard 'em say how tired they would be and then
go work out their own patches 'fore they go to bed. I don't remember how
they said the white girls got their cotton patches worked. And that is
about all I remembers good 'nough to tell you.

"They didn't expect nothing but freedom out the war. The first my mother
heard she was working doing something and somebody say, 'What you
working fur don't you know you done free?' That the first she knowed she
was free. They just passed the word round; that's how they heard it and
the soldiers started coming in to their families. Some of them come back
by themselves and some come riding several of them together.

"I know they didn't give my mother nothing after the war. She washed and
ironed 'bout all her life.

"The young generation is doing better than we old folks is. If there is
any work to get they gets it in preference to us. Education is helping
some of 'em here in Brinkley. Some of the young ones gets good money.
They teaches and cooks. Times is hard for some.

"I live wid my son. Yes he own his house. I gets $8 from the relief. We
has 'bout 'nough to live on and dat is all."

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Ellie Hamilton (male)
                      Clarendon, Arkansas

"I was born about near Holly Springs, Mississippi. My parents' masters'
name William and Mary Ellen Jefferies. I don't know much 'bout them. My
parents' name Neely and Amos Hamilton. I judge that was pa's master's
name. They had eight children. Three of us living yet.

"I been farmin' and workin' 'round Clarendon ever since I was a chap. I
work 'round hotels and stores and farm too.

"I votes when we have a leader for our party. It don't do no good. I
never seed no good come outen the colored race votin' yet.

"Some ways times is much better, much better! Some ways they is worser.
The people is educated better'n I had a chance at.

"Work wages is a heap better. I has worked for $7 a month. Now some can
get $18 to $20 a week. But the young generation throwin' it away. They
ain't going to save a bit of it. The present condition is worse morally.
They used to could depend on a man. You can't hardly depend on the
younger generation. They is so tricky. Folks going too much. I recollect
when I was a child I went to town one or two times a year. I didn't want
all I seen there then neither. Seems lack folks spends so much money

"I own a home, no cow, no hog, no land. Get $10 a month from the PWA.
[HW: [WPA?]]

"I come to Arkansas to farm. It is a fine farmin' country, Miss. My
father died and left my mother wid seven children to raise. She come on
out here to make a livin'.

"I remember when Tilden and Hendrick lost and Hayes and Wheeler was
elected. They sung songs 'bout 'em and said 'Carve that possum nigger to
the heart.' It done been so long since we sung them rally songs I forgot
every line of all of them. People used to sing more religious songs
seems like than they do now. They done gone wild over dancin' 'stead of

"I farmed for J. P. Cherry at Holly Springs from time I was eight year
old till I was twenty-one year old. That's a long time to stay by one
man ain't it?"

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Josephine Hamilton
                      Hazen, Arkansas
  Age: 77

"I was born near Houston, Mississippi, in 1860. We lived about three
miles north when I can first recollect. My mistress was named Frankie
Hill and my master was Littleton Hill. I had some sisters and brothers
dead but I had four brothers and one sister that got up grown. The first
house I remembers living in was a plank house. Then we lived in a log
house wid a stick-and-dirt chimney. I was wid my old master when he died
of heart trouble. She lack to died too. We setting by de fire one night
and he held the lamp on one knee and reading out loud. It was a little
brass lamp with a handle to hook your finger in. He was a Baptist. He
had two fine horses, a big gray one and a bay horse. Joe drove him to
preaching. Miss Frankie didn't go. He said his haid hurt when dey went
to eat dinner and he slept all the evening. He et supper and was
reading. I was looking at him. He laid his haid back and started
snoring. He had long white hair. I say 'Miss Frankie, he is dieing.'
Cause he turned so pale. He was setting in a high back straight chair.
We got him on the bed. He could walk when we held him up. His brother
was a curious old man. He et morphine a whole heap. He lived by himself.
I run fast as my legs would take me. Soon as I told him he blowed a long
horn. They said it was a trumpet. You never seen such a crowd as come
toreckly. The hands come and the neighbors too. It being dot time er
night they knowed something was wrong. He slept awhile but he died that
night. I stayed up there wid Miss Frankie nearly all de time. It was a
mile from our cabin across the field. Joe stayed there some. He fed and
curried the horses. Nom I don't remember no slave uprisings. They had
overseers on every farm and a paddyroll. I learned to sew looking at the
white folks and my ma showed me about cutting. There wasn't much fit
about them. They were all tollerably loose. We played hiding behind the
trees a heap and played in the moonlight. We played tag. We picked up
scaley barks, chestnuts, and walnuts. Miss Frankie parched big pans of
goobers when it was cold or raining. Some of the white folks was mean.
Once young mistress was sick. She had malaria fever. I was sitting down
in the other room. Young master was lying on de bed in the same room. A
woman what was waiting on her brought the baby in to put a cloth on him.
He was bout two months old, little red-headed baby. He was kicking and I
got tickled at him. Young master slapped me. The blood from my nose
spouted out and I was jess def for a long time. He beat me around till
Miss Polly come in there and said 'You quit beating that little colored
girl. You oughter be ashamed. Your wife in there nearly dead.' 'Yes
maam, she did die.' I never will forgit Miss Polly. I saved one of the
young mistress little girl bout seven or eight years old. Miss Frankie
raised a little deer up grown. It would run at anybody. Didn't belong at
the house. It got so it would run me. It started at the little girl and
I pulled her in on the porch backwards and in a long hall. Her mama show
was proud. Said the deer would paw her to death.

"I remembers everybody shouting and so glad they was free. It was a
joyful time. If they paid my folks for work I didn't know it. We stayed
on with Miss Frankie till I was grown and her son Billy Hill took her to
Houston, Texas to live. Miss Sallie and Miss Fannie had been married a
long time. We always had a house to live in and something to eat.

"I show never did vote. I would not know nothing about it. I think the
folks is getting wiser and weaker. Some of us don't have much as we need
and them that do have wastes it. I always lived on the farm till eight
years ago when my husband died. I wasn't able to farm by myself. I
didn't have no children. I come to Hazen to live wid dese here girls I
raised. (Two girls.) They show is good to me. No maam I ain't never got
no old age pension. They won't give it to me. We come to Arkansas in
1918. We lived down around Holly Grove. We had kin folks wrote about out
here and we wanted to change. Long as I was able I had a good living but
since I been so feeble I have to make out wid what the children bring
me. I don't know if de times is getting any better, don't seem lack the
people training their children a tall. They say they kaint do nothing
wid em. I allus could do something wid dem I raised. I used to look at
them and they minded me. The trouble is they ain't learning to work and
won't do nothing less they going to get big pay. Then they run spend it
fast as they can go for fool-bait."


  [HW: Arkansas]
  Little Rock District
  Name of Interviewer: Irene Robertson
  Story--Information (If not enough space on this page add page)

If you borrow salt it is bad luck to pay it back.

Parch okra seed grind up or beat it up and make coffee.

Parch meal or corn and make coffee.

In slavery times they took red corn cobs burned them and made white
ashes, sifted it and used it instead of soda.

Beat up charcoal and take for gas on the stomach.

Sift meal add salt and make up with water, put on collard leaf, cover
with another collard leaf put on hot ashes. Cover with hot ashes. The
bread will be brown, the collard leaves parched up, "It is really
good." Roast potatoes and eggs in the ashes.

In slavery times they made persimmon beer. Had regular beer barrels
made a faucet. Put old field hay in the bottom, persimmons, baked corn
bread and water. Let stand about a week, a fine drink with tea cakes. It
won't make you drunk.

Comb hair after dark makes you forgetful.

Asafoetida and garlic on the bait makes the fish bite well.

Rub fishing worms on the ground makes them tougher so you can put them
on the hook.

  This information given by: Josephine Hamilton
  Place of Residence: Hazen, Arkansas
  Occupation: Field work and washwoman.


  Pine Bluff District
  Name of Interviewer: Martin--Pettigrew
  Subject: Negro Customs
  Story--Information (If not enough space on this page add page)

"My mother made three crops after she wuz freed, and I wuz born when she
made her third crop, so I thinks I wuz born 'round 1868. I wuz born in
Bolivar County, Mississippi. My mother and father were slaves and
belonged to the Harris family. Only one I 'members is my sister, she
died. My brothers went off and worked on ships, and I never saw them no

"After freedom, my mother kept working for her marster and misstis, and
they paid them for their work. They stayed on the same plantation until
I wuz almost grown.

"At Christmas time, we had heaps to eat, cakes, homemade molasses candy
that you pulled, popcorn, horse apples which wuz good, mo' better'n any
apples we get these days.

"The white folks give gifts in the big house and mammy went to the house
and the white folks give her the things to put in we nigger chilluns'

"We hung up our stockings in our house and up at the white house too.
'Fore Christmas, the white folks would tell us if we stole chickens,
eggs, ducks and things, or go in the apple orchard, and wuz bad, Santa
Claus would not come to us. But if we were good, he would bring gifts to
us. 'Fore Christmas, the white folks would make a Santa Claus out of
clothes and stuff it, put a pack on his back, and stand him up in the
road. Colored chillun feared to go near him.

"I have never been arrested, never been in the jail house or calaboose.
Went to school when I could.

"Traveled all over, worked on canal in South America.

"Name of boat I wuz on was the 'Clamshell, No. 4', with Captain Nelson,
fum New York."

  This Information given by: Peter Hamilton
  Place of Residence: Near airport--Pine Bluff, Ark.
  Age: 68

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Lawrence Hampton
                      R.F.D., Forrest City, Arkansas
  Age: 78

"I was born in Orangeburg, South Carolina. My parents' names was
Drucilla and Peter Hampton. She was the mother of twelve children. They
both b'long to John D. Kidd and Texas Kidd. To my knowing they had no
children. They was old to me being a child but I don't reckon they be
old folks. They had a plantation, some hilly and some bottom land. He
had two or three hundred slaves. He was a good, good man. He was a good
master. He had some white overseers and some black overseers. Grandpa
Peter was one of his overseers. He was proud of his slaves. He was a
proud man.

"We all had preaching clothes to wear. He had his slaves be somebody
when they got out of the field. They went in washing at the fish pond,
duck pond too. It was clear and sandy bottom. Wouldn't be muddy when a
lot of them got through washing (bathing). They was black but they
didn't stink sweaty. They wore starched clean ironed clothes. They
cooked wheat flour and made clothes. When the War come on their clothes
was ironed and clean but the wheat was scarce and the clothes got
flimsy. John D. Kidd was loved by black and white. He was a good man.
Grandpa George had a son sold over close to Memphis. They had twelve
children last letter mama had from them. I've never seen any one of

"Grandpa Peter was a overseer. After he was made overseer he was paid.
That was a honor for being good all his life. When freedom come on he
had ten thousand dollars. He was pure African, black as ace of spades.
He give papa and the other four boys five hundred dollars a piece to
start them farms. Papa died when he was sixty-five and grandma was about
a hundred. Mama was seventy-five when she died. Grandpa was eighty-five
when he died. They didn't know exactly but that was about their ages. It
was a pretty big honor to be a carriage man. They had young men hostlers
and blacksmiths.

"Freedom--The boys all stayed around and girls too. They bought places
about. They never would charge John D. Kidd for work. They let the girls
cook, milk, and set the fowls, long as the old couple lived. They never
took no pay. They go in gangs and chop out his crop and big picnic
dinners all they ever took from him. We all loved that old man.

"They done some whooping on the place but it was a shame. They got over
it and went on dressed up soon as the task was done. Never heard much
said about it. I never seen nobody whooped.

"My own folks whooped me. We was free then.

"I heard how easy to farm out in Arkansas. I come to Forrest City in
1884. I was 'bout twenty-five years old then. It was a mud hole is
right. I farmed all my life. We made money.

"My color folks don't know how to take care of their money. They can
make money but don't handle it long.

"I owns a home and twenty acres of land. I want to keep it. Me and my
wife live out there. I had ten children and four of them still living.
They all good children and I'm proud to own they mine.

"John D. Kidd had a lot of his wife's brothers that come visiting. I'd
find out they be up there. Here I'd go. We'd swim, fish, ride, and I'd
love to be around them and hear them talk. That was the kind of good
times we had when I was a boy. I missed all that when I come here. It
was sich fine farming land. I couldn't go back to stay. I been back
numbers of times visiting.

"I heard of the Ku Klux but I never seen none of them. They was hot over
there in South Carolina in some spots.

"I'm able by the grace of God to make my own humble living. Sometime I
may like a little help but I ain't asked foe none yet.

"I heard this here about the Ku Klux in Forrest City. I heard different
ones say. They was having a revival out here at Lane Chapel and the
captain of the Ku Klux come in and they followed in their white clothes
and he give the colored minister a letter. He opened it and it had some
money for him. They went on off on their horses. I don't know when that
was. I didn't see it, I heard about it."

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Hannah Hancock
                      [HW: Biscoe, Arkansas?]
  Age: Past 80

"I was born in Chesterfield County, South Carolina. My mother's name was
Chloa. We lived on Hardy Sellers plantation. She was the white folks
cook. I et in the white folks kitchen sometimes and sometimes wid the
other children at maw's house. Show my daddy was livin. But he lived on
another man's farms. His master's name was Billy Hancock and his name
was Dave. Der was a big family of us but dey all dead now but three of
us. Ize got two sisters and a brother still livin, I reckon. I ain't
seed them in a long time. Mrs. Sellers had several children but they
were all married when I come along and she was a widow. Joe Pete was her
son and he lived close, about a mile across the field, but it was
farther around the road. Billy Hancock married Mrs. Sellers daughter. My
mistress didn't do much. Miss Becky Hancock wove cloth for people. You
could get the warp ready and then run in the woof. She made checked
dresses and mingledy looking cloth. They colored the cloth brown and
purple mostly. Mrs. Sellers get a bolt of cloth and have it all made up
into dresses for the children. Sometimes all our family would have a
dress alike. Yesm, we did like dot. Granny made de dresses on her
fingers. She was too old to go to de field an she tote water from the
big spring and sometimes she water de hands when dey be hoeing. She
would cut and dry apples and peaches. Nobody knowed how to can. They
dried de beef. It show was good. It was jess fine. No maam, Granny
didn't have no patterns. She jess made our dresses lack come in her
haid. We didn't get many dresses and we was proud of em and washed and
ironed and took care of em.

"I recollects hearing de men talking about going off to war and em
going. No jess de white men left from Mrs. Sellers place. De children
didn't set around and hear all that was said. They sent us off to play
in the play houses. We swept a clean place and marked it off and had our
dolls down there. We put in anything we could get, mostly broken dishes.
Yes maam, I had rag dolls and several of them. No wars real close but I
could hear the guns sometimes.

"Mrs. Sellers had two large carriage horses. The colored boys took them
down in the bottoms and took off a lot of the meat and groceries and hid
them 'fo the Yankees come along. They didn't nebber fin them things.
Mrs. Sellers was awful good and the men jess looked after her and took
care of her. Me or maw stayed at the house with her all the time, day
and night. When anybody got sick she sent somebody to wait on them and
went to see what they needed and sometimes she had 'em brought up to the
house and give 'em the medicine herself. She didn't have no foman. Uncle
Sam and uncle John was the oldest and uncle Henry. They was the men on
the farm and they went right on with the work. Folks had bigger families
than they do now. They show did work, but de field work don't last all
de time. They cleared land and fixed up the rail fences in the winter.
A rail fence was on each side of a long lane that led down to the
pasture. The creek run through the pasture. It was show a pretty grove.
Had corn shuckings when it was cold. We played base down there. We
always had meat and plenty milk, collards and potatoes. Old missus would
drip a barrel of ashes and make corn hominy in the wash pot nearly every
week and we made all the soap we ever did see. If you banked the sweet
potatoes they wouldn't rot and that's where the seed come from in the
spring. In the garden there was an end left to go to seed. That is the
way people had any seed. Times show have changed. I can't tell what to
think. They ain't no more like than if they was another kind of folks.
So much different. I jess look and live. I think they ought to listen to
what you say. Say anything to them they say 'Kaint run my business.' I
don't know if they spected anything from freedom. Seemed like they
thought they wouldn't have to work if dey was free and dey wouldn't have
no boss. Missus let a lot of her land grow up in pine trees. Said she
had no money to pay people to work for her. Some of de families staid
on. My maw and paw went on a farm on share not far from Mrs. Sellers.
When she was going to have company or she got sick she sent for my maw.
My maw washed and ironed for her till they moved plum off. They said
somebody told them it was freedom. When dey picked up and moved off de
missus show didn't give em nothing. They didn't vote. They didn't know
how. I heard a lot about the Ku Klux Klan but I wasn't scared. I never
did see none.

"De younger generation jess lives today and don't know what he'll do
tomorrow or where he'll be. I ain't never voted and I don't know if my
boys do or not.

"I never heard of uprisings. De paddyroll was to see after dot and Mrs.
Sellers didn't have none. Uncle Sam and uncle John made em mind.

"Sing--I say dey did sing. Sing about the cooking and about the milking
and sing in de field.

"I never did see nobody sold. But I heard them talk about selling em.
They took em off to sell em. That was the worst part about slavery. The
families was broke up. I never lived nowhere 'cept in South Carolina and
Prairie County (Arkansas). My folks come here and they kept writing for
me to come, and I come on the train. Mrs. Sellers son, Joe Sellers,
killed himself, shot himself, one Sunday evening. Didn't know how come
he done it. I was too little to know what they expected from the war.
The colored folks didn't have nothing to do with it 'cept they expected
to get freed. A heap of people went to the cities, some of them died.
After freedom things got pretty scarce to eat and there was no money. I
worked as a house girl, tended to the children, brushed the flies off
the table and the baby when it slept and swept the house and the yard
too. After I come here (to Arkansas) I married and I worked on the
farms. We share cropped. I raised my children, had chickens, geese, a
cow and hogs. When the cotton was sold we got some of it. Yes maam, I
show had rether be out there if I could jess work. We lived on Mr. Dick
Small's place till he sold out. We come to town a year and went back and
made enough in one year to buy dis place. It cost $300. Jess my two sons
and me. The others were married. My husband died on the farm. I come in
town and done one or two washings a week. Yes maam I walked here and
back. That kept me in a little money. It was about two miles. I washed
for Mr. L. Hall and part of the time for Mrs. Kate Hazen. I guess they
treated us right about the crop settlement. We thought they did. We
knowed how much was made and how much we got. The cheatin come at the
stores where the trading was done.

"I lives with my son and his wife. Sometimes I do my cooking and
sometimes I eat in there. I get $8.00 from the RFC and prunes, rice, and
a little dried milk. I buys my meal and sugar and lard and little
groceries with the money. It don't buy what I used to have on the farm.

"I don't remember much about the war. I was so little. I heard them talk
a lot about it and the way they killed folks. I thought it was awful. My
hardest time is since I got old and can't work."


  Little Rock District
  Name of Interviewer: Irene Robertson
  Subject: Spells--Voodoo--
  Story--Information (If not enough space on this page add page)

I asked her if she believed anyone could harm her and she said not not
unless they could get her to eat or drink something. Then they might.
She said a Gypsy was feeling her and slipped a dollar and a quarter tied
up in her handkerchief from her and she never did know when or how she
got it. Said she never believed their tales or had her fortune told. She
didn't believe anyone could put anything under the door and because you
walked over it you would get a "spell". She said some people did. She
didn't know what they put under the doors. She never was conjured that
she knew of and she doesn't believe in it. Said she had to work too hard
to tell tales to her children but she used to sing. She can't remember
the songs she sang. She can't read or write.

The old woman is blind and gray, wears a cap. Her Mistress was Mrs. Mary
and her Master was Mr. Hardy Sellers in Chesterfield County, South
Carolina. Her husband died and left her with six children. Her brother
came with a lot of other fellows to Arkansas. "Everybody was coming
either here or to Texas". Mr. David Gates at DeValls Bluff sent her a
ticket to come to his farm. Her brother was working for Mr. Gates
Wattensaw plantation and that is where she has been till a few years ago
she moved to Hazen and lives with her son and his wife. She remembered
when the Civil War soldiers took all their food, mules and hitched Mrs.
Sellers driving horses to the surry and drove off. Her Mistress cried
and cried. She said she had a hard time after she left Mr. and Mrs.
Sellers, they was sure good to them and always had more than she had
ever had since. She wanted to go back to South Carolina to see the ones
she left but never did have the money. Said they lived on Mr. Dick
Small's place and he was so good to her and her children but he is dead
too now.

  This information given by: Hannah Hancock
  Place of Residence: Hazen, Arkansas
  Occupation: Work in the cotton field--Cook and wash.
  Age: 90
  She is blind. She gets $8.00 pension, she is proud to tell.

  Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
  Person interviewed: Julia E. Haney
                      1320 Pulaski Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
  Age: 78

"I was born in Gallatin, Tennessee, twenty-six miles north of Nashville,
September 18, 1859. Willard Blue and Mary Blue were my master and my

"I wanted to put in for a pension and didn't want to tell a story about
my age. In reading the Gazette, I found out that William Blue got shot
by an insurance man in Dallas, Texas over a stenographer. I found out
where my young master was and after allowing him time to get over his
grief, I wrote to him about my age. He wrote me that Andrew was the
oldest and he didn't know, so he sent my letter to Tacoma, Tennessee, to
Henry Blue. Henry wrote to him and told him to look in the bottom of the
wardrobe in the old family Bible. He looked there and found the Bible
and sent my age to me. They wrote to me and sent me some money and were
awful nice to me. They said that I was the only one of the slaves

Good Masters

"Our masters were awful good to us. They didn't treat us like we were
slaves. My mother carried the keys to everything on the place. They
lived in the city. They didn't live in the country. I came here in 1869."


"My mother married a Thompson. Her married name was Margaret Thompson
and her name before she married was Margaret Berth. Her master before
she married was Berth. Her last master was Blue. Her mother's name was
Cordelia Lowe. Her maiden name was Berth. When the old man Berth died,
he made his will and Bullard Berth didn't want any slaves because he
wanted to train his children to work. Willard, my mother's master,
should have been a Berth because he was old man Berth's son, but he
called himself Blue. It might have been that old man Berth was his
stepfather. Anyway he went by the name of Willard Blue. He was an

"My father's name was Oliver Thompson. I don't remember any of my
father's people. His people were in Nashville, Tennessee, and my
mother's people were in Gallatin, Tennessee. We were separated in

Separation of Parents

"I don't know how my mother and father happened to get together. They
didn't belong to the same master. My father belonged to Thompson and
lived in Nashville and my mother belonged to Blue in Gallatin. They were
not together when freedom came and never did get together after freedom.
They only had one child to my knowledge. I don't know how they happened
to be separated. It was when I was too small. Nashville is twenty-six
miles from Gallatin. Perhaps one family or the other moved away."


"I have heard my mother speak about the pateroles. I don't know whether
they were pateroles or not. They had guards out to see if the slaves had
passes and they would stop them when they would be going out for
anything. They would stop my mother when she would be going out to get
the cows to see if she had a pass."


"I never heard my mother speak of jayhawkers, but I have heard her say
that they used to catch the slaves when they were out. I don't know
whether it was jayhawkers or not. I don't know what they done with them
after they caught them. I have heard other people speak of jayhawkers.
My people were very good to us. They never bothered my mother. She could
go and come when she pleased and they would give her a pass any time she
told them she wanted one."

Really Scared to Death

"I know one thing my ma told me. When the soldiers came through, there
was an old rebel eating breakfast at our place. He was a man that used
to handcuff slaves and carry them off and sell them. He must have stolen
them. When he heard that the Yankees were marching into town with all
them bayonets shining, it scared him to death. He sat right there at the
breakfast table and died. I don't know his name, but he lived in

Mother's Work

"My mother was a cook and she knitted. She molded candles and milked the
cows, and washed and ironed. She and her children were the only slaves
they owned. They never whipped my mother at all. I stayed in the house.
They kept me there. I never had to do anything but keep the flies off
the table when they were eating."


"My grandfather gave me my schooling after I came here. I had come here
in 1869. I went to school in Capitol Hill and Union Schools. Mrs.
Hoover (white) was one of the teachers at Union School when I was there.
She was a good teacher. Miss Lottie Andrews--she is a Stephens now--was
another one of my teachers."

How Freedom Came

"My master came right on the back porch and called my mother out and
told her she was free, that he wasn't going in no war. That was at the
beginning when they were mustering in the soldiers to fight the War. And
he didn't go neither. She stayed with him till after emancipation. She
was as free as she could be and he treated her as nice as anybody could
be treated. She had the keys to everything."

House, Furniture, and Food

"My mother had a little house back in the yard joined to the back porch
and connected with the kitchen. It had one room. She did all cooking in
his kitchen. Her room was just a bedroom.

"The furniture was a bed with high posters. It didn't have slats, it had
ropes. It was a corded bed. They had boxes for everything else--for
bureaus, chairs, and things."

Further Details about Schooling

"I went to school as far as the eighth grade. Professor Hale, Professor
Mason, and Professor Kimball were some of the teachers that taught me.
They all said I was one of the brightest scholars they had."

Later Life

"I married Cado Haney in 1882. He is dead now. He's been dead nearly
forty years. We didn't live together but fifteen years before he died.
We never had no children. After he died I laundried for a living until I
got too old to work. Now I get old age assistance."

Interviewer's Comment

A mighty sweet old lady to talk to.

  Interviewer: Pernella M. Anderson
  Person interviewed: Rachel Hankins
                      El Dorado, Arkansas
  Age: 88

"I was born in Alabama. My old mistress and master told me that I was
born in 1850. Get that good--1850! That makes me about 88 but I can't
member the day and month. I was a girl about twelve or fourteen years
old when the old darkies was set free. My old mistress and master did
not call us niggers; they called us darkies. I can't recollect much
about slavery and I can recollect lots too at times. My mind goes and
comes. I tell you children you all is living a white life nowdays. When
I was coming up I was sold to a family in Alabama by the name of
Columbus. They was poor people and they did not own but a few slaves and
it was a large family of them and that made us have to work hard. We
lived down in the field in a long house. We ladies and girls lived in a
log cabin together. Our cabin had a stove room made on the back and it
was made of clay and grass with a hearth made in it and we cooked on the
hearth. We got our food from old mistress's and master's house. We
raised plenty of grub such as peas, greens, potatoes. But our potatoes
wasn't like the potatoes is now. They was white and when you eat them
they would choke you, especially if they was cold. And sorghum molasses
was the only kind there was. I don't know where all these different
kinds of molasses come from.

"They issued our grub out to us to cook. They had cows and we got milk
sometimes but no butter. They had chickens and eggs but we did not. We
raised cotton, sold part and kept enough to make our clothes out of.
Raised corn. And there wasn't no grist mills then so we had a pounding
rock to pound the corn on and we pound and pound until we got the corn
fine enough to make meal, then we separated the husk from the meal and
parched the husk real brown and we used it for coffee. We used brown
sugar from sorghum molasses. We spun all our thread and wove it into
cloth with a hand loom. The reason we called that cloth home-spun is
because it was spun at home. Splitting rails and making rail fences was
all the go. Wasn't no wire fences. Nothing but rail fences. Bushing and
clearing was our winter jobs. You see how rough my hands is? Lord have
mercy! child, I have worked in my life.

"Master Columbus would call us niggers up on Sunday evening and read the
Bible to us and tell us how to do and he taught us one song to sing and
it was this 'Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning' and he'd have us to
sing it every Sunday evening and he told us that that song meant to do
good and let each other see our good. When it rained we did not have
meeting but when it was dry we always had meeting.

"I never went to school a day in my life. I learned to count money after
I was grown and married.

"My feet never saw a shoe until I was fourteen. I went barefooted in ice
and snow. They was tough. I did not feel the cold. I never had a cold
when I was young. If we had ep-p-zu-dit we used different things to make
tea out of, such as shucks, cow chips, hog hoofs, cow hoofs. Ep-p-zu-dit
then is what people call flu now.

"When war broke out I was a girl just so big. All I can recollect is
seeing the soldiers march and I recollect them having on blue and gray
jackets. Some would ride and some would walk and when they all got
lined up that was a pretty sight. They would keep step with the music.
The Southern soldiers' song was 'Look Away Down in Dixie' and the
Northern soldiers' song was 'Yankee Doodle Dandy.' So one day after
coming in from the field old master called his slaves and told us we was
free and told us we could go or stay. If we stayed he would pay us to
work. We did not have nothing to go on so we stayed and he paid us.
Every 19th of June he would let us clean off a place and fix a platform
and have dancing and eating out there in the field. The 19th of June
1865 is the day we thought we was freed but they tell me now that we was
freed in January 1865 but we did not know it until June 19, 1865. Never
got a beating the whole time I was a slave.

"I came to north Arkansas forty years ago and I been in Union County a
short while. My name is Rachel Hankins."

  Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
  Person interviewed: Mary Jane Hardridge
                      1501 West Barraque St., Pine Bluff, Ark.
  Age: 85

"Oh don't ask me that, honey. Yes, I was here in slavery days. I reckon
I was here before the Civil War; I was born in '58. I'm right now in my
birth county about four miles from this city.

"I can remember my young masters that went to war. One was named Ben and
one Chris. Old master's name was James Scull. He was kinda mixed up--he
wasn't the cruelest one in the world. I've heard of some that was worse
than he was. I never suffered for nothin' to eat.

"I can tell you about myself as far back as I can remember. I know I was
about thirteen or fourteen when the war ended.

"My father's birth home was in Virginia. His name was Flem Price and his
father was a doctor and a white man. Mother's name was Mary Price and
she was half Indian. You can tell that by looking at her picture. She
was born in Arkansas.

"I can remember seeing the soldiers. I had to knit socks for them. Used
to have to knit a pair a week. Yes ma'm I used to serve them. I had it
to do or get a whippin'. I nursed and I sewed a little. My mother was a
great seamstress. We did it by hand too. They didn't have no sewing
machines in them times.

"When my white folks went on summer vacations--they was rich and
traveled a great deal--mama always went along and she just left us
children on the plantation just like a cow would leave a calf. She'd
hate to do it though. I remember she went off one time and stayed three
months and left me sick in the white folks house on a pallet. I know I
just hollered and cried and mama cried too. There was another old
colored lady there and she took me to her house. We lived right on the
river where the boat landed and I remember the boat left at high noon
and I cried all the rest of the afternoon.

"I remember the first Yankee I ever saw. They called him Captain Hogan.
I had a white chile in my arms. He set there and asked the boss how many
Negroes did he have and the boss said what was the news. He come out to
let the Negroes know they was as free as he was and told Marse Jim to
bring all of them back from Texas. I know I run and told mama and she
said 'You better hush, you'll get a whippin'.'

"They sho didn't burn up nothin'--Just took the mules and horses. Now I
remember that--they didn't burn up nothin' where I lived.

"I heard of the Ku Klux but I never seen any. We was expectin' 'em
though at all times.

"My grandmother belonged to Creed Taylor and after freedom mama got her
and she lived there with the Sculls two years. My mother and father was
paid a salary and they paid me too--four dollars a month. And I remember
mama never would let me have it--just give me what she wanted me to
have. They treated us better than they did before the war. Cose they was
a little rough, but they couldn't whip you like they did. They could
threaten it though.

"I went to school just a little after freedom. Mama and papa wasn't able
to send me. Wasn't no colored teachers competent to teach then and we
had to pay the white teacher a dollar a month.

"I had very strict parents and was made to mind. When I went out I knew
when I was comin' in. I had one daughter who died when she was eight
years old and if I could bring her back now, I wouldn't do it cause I
know she would worry me to death.

"I used to sew a lot for people in Pine Bluff but I am too old now. I
own my home and I have some rooms rented to three young men students and
I get a little help from the Welfare so I manage to get along.

"Well good-bye--I'm glad you come."

  Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
  Person interviewed: Mary Jane Hardrige
                      1501 W. Barraque, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  Age: 79

"Well, I don't believe in signs much. My sister was sick about a year
once. They said she had the T. B. (tuberculosis). One day I was there
and she said, 'Sis, do you hear that peckerwood? He's drivin' a nail in
my coffin.' And sure enough she died not long after.

"But let me tell you I had a peculiar dream yesterday morning just
before day. There's a little child here. His mother died and left him,
the baby child. I dreamt his mother brought him to me. She said, 'I
brought my boy here and I want you to keep him.' I thought he come to me
just as naked as he could be. He kept sayin', 'Come on, Mrs. Hardrige,
and let's go home, I'm cold.' He didn't have a garment on. His mother
was with him and she's dead you know.

"I mentioned it to one of my neighbors and she said it was a sign of
some woman's death.

"I was very much devoted to the child. I love him, and that dream stayed
with me all day. I don't know but I've always heard if you dream of the
dead it's goin' to rain.

"I ain't four miles from where I was born. I was born across the river.
We belonged to Jim Scull. I've lived all my life in Jefferson County."

  Interviewer: Pernella Anderson
  Person Interviewed: O. C. Hardy
                      El Dorado, Ark.
  Age: 69

"O. C. Hardy is my name and I is 69 years old. I like [HW: lack? KWF]
a lot of being a real old time slave, but I tell you I am a slave now,
and ain't no 1800 slave. I was born way down in Louisiana. We lived on a
plantation with some white people by the name of Chick Johnson. That is
the first place I remember we ever stayin' on. My ma and pa slave for
them folks. All of the children worked like slaves. What I mean by
working like slaves--we didn't stop to get our breath until night. I was
slavin' for just the white folks then and since I got grown and married
I've been slavin' for my wife and children and the white folks. My mama
and papa went in the name of their mistress and master's name and so did
I, so we was all Hardys.

"Sixty-nine years ago the time wasn't like it is now. Everything was
different. There was no cars, no airplanes, a few buggies, no trains.
The go was ox teams and stage coaches. People used ox teams in place of
mule and horse teams. Sometimes you would see ox teams with twelve and
fourteen oxen. The ox wore yokes that sometime weigh a hundred or more
pounds. The reason of that, they were so mean they had to wear them
yokes to hold em down. One yoke would go across two oxen's heads. They
could pull--oh my!--as much as some big trucks. We made much better
crops back in the 1800s than we do now. The winters was much harder and
you know the harder the winter the better the crop year you have. We
always plowed and turned our ground over in the hard of winter--that was
in order for the cold to kill all insect and germs in the ground. You
see, worms eats up your seed and plant, and germs do your seed and plant
just like they would do your body. So we got rid of them little
hinderings. In January we was ready to get our corn ground ready for
planting, and man! we raised some crops. I recollect one year way back
yonder we had what they called a centennial snow--that was the biggest
snow that's ever been and the best crop year I ever knowed. I started
plowing when I was about eight. Before then all I can remember doin' was
bushing. After gathering crops we split rails and built fences. We
played on Sunday evening. Our sport was huntin', fishin', and bird
thrashin' and trap settin'. To catch fish easy we baited snuff and
tobacco on the hook. We used to be bad about stealin' watermelons, eggs,
chickens and sweet potatoes and slippin' way down in the woods and

"Wasn't no such things as screen windows and doors. That is some of this
1900 stuff to my knowing. Flies and mosquitos was plentiful. Our cooking
was plain boiled or fried cause we cooked on fireplaces. Wasn't no
stoves. We used all brown sugar from syrup that turned to sugar. White
sugar is about forty years old to my knowings. My ma used to cook the
best old syrup cake and syrup potatoes pudding. She knitted all our
socks and sweaters for you couldn't buy things like that because stores
was few and she spun and wove for the white folks and knitted too."

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Rosa Hardy
                      Biscoe, Arkansas
  Age: ?

"I was born in Brownsville, Tennessee. My mother died when I was real
young, and I had no father. Pike Sutton was mother's master. He was my
old grandfather. He owned a big farm. Tove Sutton was his son and my
father. Mother was light but not as light as I am. I had a sister older
than I am I lived with. I never lived among white folks except in a town
with them. I don't know a thing about my people to tell. I don't know my
age. I give myself a birthday. I don't know the day nor month I was
born. But I'm old. I can count back enough to tell that.

"I work in the sewing room. I'm the oldest woman in there at De Valls
Bluff. I get twenty-one dollars and this month I am to get twenty-seven.

"If you don't have work times are not good. I know that. I don't hardly
know the young generation. Of course I see them but that is all. They
hurrying their way and I'm going my way."

  Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
  Person interviewed: Ida Harper
                      819 West Pullen Street; Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  Age: 93

"Now what you want with me? I was born in Mississippi. I come here
tollable young. I'se ninety-three now.

"My old master mean to us. We used to watch for him to come in the big
gate, then we run and hide. He used to come to the quarters and make us
chillun sing. He make us sing Dixie. Sometimes he make us sing half a
day. Seems like Dixie his main song. I tell you I don't like it _now_. But
have mercy! He make us sing it. Seems like all the white folks like
Dixie. I'se glad when he went away to war.

"But they used to feed you. Heap better meat than you get now. I tell
you they _had_ things to eat in them days.

"I 'member when the soldiers was comin' through and runnin' the white
folks both ways. Law chile--you don't know nothin'! We used to hide in
the cistern. One time when the Yankees come in a rush my brother and me
hide in the feather bed.

"When the war ended, white man come to the field and tell my
mother-in-law she free as he is. She dropped her hoe and danced up to
the turn road and danced right up into old master's parlor. She went so
fast a bird could a sot on her dress tail. That was in June. That night
she sent and got all the neighbors and they danced all night long.

"I never went to school a day in my life. I wish I could read but they
ain't no use wishin' for spilt milk.

"How long I been in Arkansas? Let me see how many chillun I had since I
been to Arkansas. Let me see--I fotch four chillun with me and I'se the
mother of ten.

"Yes'm I sho' has worked hard. I worked in the field and cooked and
washed and ironed. But oh Lord I likes my freedom.

"I couldn't tell you what I think of this present generation. They is
just like a hoss on the battle field--white and black. They say
'Grandma, you just an old fogy.'

"I think they is another slave-time gal down in the next block. You want
me to show you?"


  Name of interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
  Subject: Signs and Superstitions
  Story--Information (If not enough space on this page, add page)

"In slavery times you used to carry a rabbit foot in your pocket to keep
old massa from whippin' you."

  This information given by: Eda Harper
  Place of residence: 819 W. Pullen Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  Age: 90


  Name of interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
  Subject: Games of Pre-War Days
  Story--Information (If not enough space on this page, add page)

"We used to play a game called 'Once Over.' Throw a ball over the house
and if they caught it on the other side, they'd run around and try to
catch you.

"Then we used to play 'Hide the Switch.' And if you found it, the others
all run to keep from bein' hit. Oh Lawd, that's been a long time."

  This information given by: Eda Harper
  Place of residence: 819 W. Pullen, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  Occupation: None
  Age: 90

  Interviewer: Watt McKinney
  Person Interviewed: Abram Harris
                      Marvell, Arkansas, (6 miles west)
  Age: 93

Abram Harris, an ex-slave, just past ninety-three years of age lives
with his daughter, Hannah, 70 years old, on the farm of Mrs. Alice
Davison a few miles west of Marvell, Arkansas. The two of them have just
completed, within the last few days, the harvesting of a small crop of
cotton and corn, and Abram was found in a small thicket not far from
their cabin where he was busily engaged in cutting some firewood for
their winter use. A small tree had been felled and the old man was
swinging his axe with the strength and enthusiasm of one far younger
than he as the wood was being cut to the proper length for his heater.
Interrupted at my approach, Abram laid aside the axe and greeted me with
that courtesy so characteristic of an ex-slave. After stating the
purpose of my visit, the old negro apparently pleased at this
opportunity afforded him to rest and talk, sat on the body of the newly
cut tree and told me the following story:

"Yes sir, Cap'n, my name is Abram Harris and I is jist past ninety-three
year old. En cose I knows dat I don't look dat old en all de folks sey
dat I acts er heap younger dan my age iffen I really is old as I claims,
en I kin still wuk bettern heap dese young uns, kase I is always knowed
how ter wuk. My old Boss Man teach me de tricks. He war er wukker
he-self, en eberybody hed ter roll roun Old Marster. He neber low no
lazy pussen ter stay wid him. Yes sir, Cap'n, I sho has kept up wid my
age eber since dat time when Old Marster tole me how ole I is. Yo kin
see dat I is er old nigger, kase dese here whiskers so white en de hair
on my haid so white too. When ye see dat on er nigger yo kin know dat he
er old pussen right off. I gwine ter tell yo, how cum dat I sho knows
how old I is. Er heap er niggers, dey tell yo dat dey is so en so year
old when dey aint no sich er thing en dey don't know dey age, but I
does, en hit wus jes dis er way.

"I wus borned en raised in South Carolina not fur from Greenville en my
Old Marster whut I belonged ter, wus Marse Hodges Brown, en my young
Marster he wus Marse Hampton, en me en Marse Hampton wus sho born in de
same mont en de same year, en de mont, hit wus October, en dats zackly
whut Old Marster tole me, en Marse Hampton sed dat same thing. Us wus
boys togedder, me en Marse Hampton, en wus jist er bout de same size, en
Marse Hampton, he claimed me, en I gwine ter be his property when bofe
us grown. Dat is iffen de war not cum on en Marse Hampton hadn't er got
kilt in de battle. When de war fust brake out, Marse Hampton he too
young den ter jine de troops, how-sum-eber he went ter jine up den when
he older brudder, Marse Thad, jine up, but Old Mis she wud'nt hear ter
Marse Hampton gwine off den, kase he not old enuf, en den, he Old Mis'
baby chile. Marse Thad, he bout two er three year older dan Marse
Hampton en he jine de troops at de fust muster en went off ter de war en
fit de Yankees night bout two years when de ball shot him in de
shoulder, en he wounded den en hab ter cum bak home fer ter git well
ergin. Atter Marse Thad cum home en stay fer er mont er sich time fer he
wound ter heal up, den he ready ter go bak ter de company, en Marse
Hampton gwine ter be eighteen year old pretty soon den, so dey swade Old
Mis ter let Marse Hampton go wid Marse Thad bak ter de war, so Old Mis
en Old Marster, dey gib in en Marse Hampton lef wid Marse Thad ter jine
up wid him in de same company whut he in when de ball hit him. Now dat
wuz in de spring when Marse Hampton jine up wid de troops, en him en me
gwine ter be eighteen dat fall in October, but hit twarnt as awful long
fore Marse Hampton got kilt in de big battle, en Marse Thad too. Dey wuz
bofe kilt in de charge, right dar on de bres-wuks, wid dey guns in dey
hans, dem two young Marsters er mine, right dar in dat Gettysburg
battle, dats whut Old Marster en Old Mis bofe tole me er meny er time,
en I wus eighteen in dat October atter dat big fight whut Mars Thad en
Marse Hampton git kilt in, en Marse Hodges writ hit down fer me on er
paper, en ebery October since den I gits sumbody whut kin figger ter
tell me how old I is so's I kin know en tell folks when dey ax me, en
jes last mont, my gal Hannah figgered hit out er gin en she sey dat I is
now ninety-three past, so dat is de way dat I gits at hit Cap'n. Now is
dat right?

"My white folks wus sho good ter all dey niggers. Dere wus nigh bout no
whippin er tall, least Old Marster neber did whip his slaves ter do no
good, en he mos ginerally tole us mammies er pappies ter do de whippin
er de chillun en de older boys en gals. He hab whip me do en he whip
Marse Hampton too when us wus boys. Old Marster start in wid dat hickry
en mek out lak he gwine ter frail us out, but atter he done landed er
few licks on us, en den us commence hollerin lak he hirtin bad, den he
quit whippin, dat de way Old Marster wus. He neber want ter hurt nobody.

"My pa wus name, Jake, en my Mammy wus named, Fanny, Old Marster bought
dem from sum-whar, but I wus borned right dar, me en Delia en all de res
er de chillun.

"Cap'n, wud ye lak fer me ter tell ye bout dat time dat me en Delia wuz
stole? Well, we sho wux stole. De Speckle-ladies (speculators or
traders) stole us er way frum Old Marster when us wus chillun, bout
twelve er thirteen year old. Hit happened in de night, when dar warnt
nobody dar in de quarters but de wimmin. Old Marster en all de men wus
down on de ribber dat night, er floatin logs er cuttin timber er sum
sich wuk es dat, when dese hear folks cum er stealin chillun. Delia en
me wus de fust ones dat dey grab en de onliest ones dat dey git frum Old
Marster, but dey sho got us. I 'members dat stealin good. Dem folks tuk
us off ter de woods whar dey tied us up ter er tree fer er whole night
en day, en tell us dat iffen we cry er holler dat dey gwine ter kills us
sho. Den dey cum en tuk us er way en ganged us up wid er lot mo nigger
boys en gals whut dey done stole sum whars else. Dey yoked us togedder
en walked us clean ter Georgia whar dey sole us. Dey sho pushed dem
chillun hard ober de rocks en de hard places till our feets wud bleed
frum de sores whar de rocks en de thorns scratch.

"Dey sole me en Delia ter er young white man en he wife whut ain't been
married long en ain't got no start er niggers yit. Us stayed dar fer mo
dan er year I rekkin, en dem wus good white folks en wus good ter us. De
Mis teach Delia ter be er house gal en de Marster teach me ter handle
stock en plow wid him eber day. Us wus skeered ter tell dem white folks
whut bought us whar us home wus en who us Marsters used ter be, kase we
skeered dat de speckle-ladies mout cum bak en steal us sum mo, en tek us
er way sum mo. I don't know how hit wus dat Old Marster Hodges Brown cum
ter fine out whar we wus, but he sho learnt er bout hit sum sich er way,
en one mornin early here cum Old Marster Hodges Brown wid two mo white
mens cumin atter me en Delia. Atter dey thru dentifyin us, Old Marster
tuk us on bak home wid him, en we sho wus glad ter go. Now Cap'n, dat is
de truf I am tellin you bout dat stealin, when me en Delia wus stole.

"My pappy wus named, Jake, en he wus de wagoner fer Marster till he
daid, den Marster tuk me en trained me fer de wagoner atter den. My
Marster warnt no big, rich man lak er heap er de white folks in dem
slabery times, yit en still, he sho hed er plenty er ebery-thing, en de
bes of all he fed he niggers good en wus always good ter tem. Marster
used ter peddle er heap in Columbia en Greenville bofe atter I git ter
be de wagoner fer him. Us wud tek big loads er taters en truck ter dem
towns whar Marster wud sell em ter de folks dar. Sumtimes he wud tek er
bout twenty beeves ter one er dem towns en rent him er yard whar he wud
butcher er bout one beef ebery day en peddle out de meat. Marster neber
hed many niggers lak lots de white folks. He jes hed er bout er dozen in
all. He sey dat all he want, er got eny use fer.

"Marster hed er big fruit orchard. Jes all kines er fruit wud be in dat
orchard, en when dey ripe, Marster send loads dem apples en peaches down
ter de still whar he had dem made up in ter Brandy en put in de kegs en
barrels en brought bak home when hit done. Heap er times dat I 'members
he call de folks up ter de bak gallery en sey, 'Cum on up here folks en
git yo all er dram'. Dats whut he say.

"Whilst our Marster wus good ter all he niggers, dar wus heap er de
marsters in dem slabery times whut wus mean, en dat whut mek de niggers
run off en hide in de woods, en dats when dey git de nigger hounds on em
en track em down jes lak ye do er coon. My pappy, Jake, he owned by er
mean white man, fore old Marster bought him in. I 'members bout him
tellin us chillun when he used ter run off en hide in de cane thickets
fer days en days kase he marster so mean en beat him up so bad, en dat
he git so hungry dat he slip bak in close ter de house in de night, en
dat sum de wimmins slip him sum meat en bread. He sey dat he used ter
sleep wid de dogs under de crib on cold nights so de togs cud keep him

"Dar warnt none er de white folks in dem slabery times whut wud let dey
niggers hab any learnin. Yo sho better not be cotch er tryin ter learn
no readin er writin. Our Marster neber eben lowed dat, en iffen er
nigger wus ter be foun whut cud write, den right straight dey wud chop
his fore finger offen dat han whut he write wid. Dar warnt no sich er
thing es no schools fer de niggers till atter de surrender.

"Endurin er de war, dar warnt no fightin tuk place roun whar us libed,
en de onliest Yankees dat I eber seed wus in Greenville atter de
surrender. I sho wus sprized when I seed dem Yankees, kass I neber
knowed whut sort er lookin thing dat er Yankee wus. No Sir, Cap'n, I
neber knowed dat er Yankee wus er man jes lak my white folks till I seed
dem in Greenville, but yo know Cap'n er Yankee looks jes lak yo is, only
he do talk funny en fast, mo so dan de kine er white folks dat I is
always been er roun.

"Dar warnt nary one er old Marsters niggers whut lef him eben when dey
set free, dat is dey did'n lebe him fer two er three years eny way, but
atter den sum of em started ter driftin er roun en hirin er roun er
bout. When de surrender cum, Old Marster tole em all dat dey free en kin
go iffen dey want ter go, en effen dey want ter go dat he gib em sum
grub ter go on. Marster wus er good man en iffen he war libin ter day, I
wud sho quit dis place en go on wid him, whar-sum-eber he want me ter

"No Sir, Cap'n, de niggers dey did'n know what de war wus gwine on fer,
en dey did'n know dat dey free till dere marsters tole em, whilst dey
wus wantin ter be free all right. Atter us wus free, de white folks hab
ter teach us jes lak yo teach er chile.

"Dem Klu Klux whut dey brought on atter de surrender wus sho pizen. Dey
wus white mens. Dats whut dey wus, en all dressed up in dem long white
garments wid er red cross on em en ridin er big hoss. Dey wus atter dem
niggers whut dey claim is mean en zerted dey marsters en went en tuk up
wid de Yankees. When dem Klu Klux fust cum in operation de niggers think
dat dey is hants er spirits, till dey fine out dat dey warnt nuthin but
white mens wid dem garments on em. Dem Klux wud cotch er nigger dat dey
want en pin he haid down ter de groun wid er forked stick en one wud
hold him whilst de others whip im wid er strop er a lash. Yes sir,
Cap'n, dem Klu Klux sho did dis-encourage de niggers er heap.

"Plenty er de white mens whut wus mustered in ter de war wud tek er
nigger wid em ter wait on em en ter tend ter de hosses en de sich eber
whut dey want done, en I sho did want ter go wid Marse Hampton, en mebbe
dat I cud tek care of im. Marse Hampton want me ter go wid him too en
try ter swade Old Marster ter let me go, but Old Marster sey dat he hab
ter hab me dar at home ter help mek de crops so's dat he kin send corn
en meat ter de sojers. De day dat Marse Hampton lebe, he cum down ter de
quarters fer ter tell all de niggers good-bye, en he sey ter me 'Abe,' he
called me Abe, 'I gwine off ter dat war en kill out dat whole crowd er
Yankees, en den I'se cumin bak en gwine ter Georgia en buy me er farm
whar I kin git rich mekin cotton en terbakker. Yo know yo is my nigger
en yo gwine ter Georgia wid me, when I goes'. Hit sho did hurt me when
Marse Hampton got kilt kase I lubed dat white man. He wus good ter me.

"In my dreams at night I kin yit see Marse Hampton, en er heap er times
in de day when I is by myself er hoein de cotton he talks ter me plain
so's I kin understand, en he ax me iffin I is yit en still er good
nigger, en tell me ter not be dis-encouraged. Cap'n de Bible is right
when hit sey dat, 'De young mens dream dreams en de old uns see de

"I kin jes natchally feel spirits, Cap'n, I sho don't spute dat. I is
skeered ter spute hit. When yo is gwine long de road en feel sum warm
air, den dat is whar de spirits hes jes been. De wings er de daid has
done fanned dat air till hits hot, en when I is gwine er long en hits
dat hot air, den I knows dat sum spirit er hant hes been er long dat
same route, kase hit sho is hants in dis worl, yit en still dey don't
walk en act lak natchal people.

"Yes Sir, Cap'n, I kin tell yo sum er dem old songs whut de niggers used
ter sing in de slabery times. Dis is sum of em:"

  Black Judy wus er good gal,
  En Black Judy wus er bad gal too.

  Mus Jesus bear de cross alone
  and all de worl go free?
  Oh Brother don't stay away
  Oh Blackslider, don't stay away.

  My old Mistis promised me
  dat when she died, she gwine set me free,
  But she lived so long en got so po
  dat she lef me diggin wid er garden ho.

  Wheel er bout en do er bout
  en jump Jim Crow.
  Ebery time I do er bout
  I do jes so.

  Yo can't do wrong en git by
  no matter how hard yo try.
  Yo kin do lak you please
  en feel at yo ease
  But you can't do wrong en git by.

  MAY 31 1938
  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Betty Harris
                      Brinkley, Arkansas
  Age: About 45 or 50?

"My parents wus both in the Civil War. He was Levi Berthy and she was
Misson Berthy. Mid Hill was mother's owner. She said he was better to
them than most owners. He never whooped 'em. Mother was real light and
father was dark. I was born in Pinola County, Mississippi. I had a
stroke five years ago. I can't walk a step for two years now. My parents
didn't let us hear them talk, they sent us out to play, then they died
before they got old. I never heard much of their own lives. I live with
my daughter and her husband. I don't get Welfare aid."

  Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
  Person interviewed: Mary Harris
                      713 N. Plum Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  Age: 82

"I was born right here in Arkansas and I remember they was havin'
somethin'. I remember when they taken this town (Pine Bluff). The people
what owned me was the parson of the Methodist church--Parson Walsh. Yes
ma'm I knowed the Union soldiers was dressed in blue and the Secessors
was called Greybacks. My father was with the Yankee soldiers. I don't
know how he got with em but I know he was gone away from this town three
years. He come back here after he was mustered out in Vicksburg.

"I remember the Yankee soldiers come and took the colored folks away if
they wanted to go. That was after surrender. They carried us to the
'county band' and fed us.

"I know the day the Yankees taken Pine Bluff; it was on Sunday and Marse
Jesse went to services. The Secessor soldiers left Pine Bluff. Of course
I didn't understand what it was all about cause in them times people
didn't enlighten children like they does now. They know everything now,
ain't no secrets.

"Most work I've done is washin' and ironin' since I been a full-grown,
married woman. I was twenty some odd when I was married. I know I was
out of my teens.

"I went to school a good while after the war. My first teacher was Mr.
Todd from the North.

"I used to do right smart sewing. I did sewing before machines come to
this town. The frocks they used to make had from five to ten yards.

"We is livin' now in a time of worry. What they is doin' is told about
in the scripture."

  DEC 21 1937
  Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
  Person interviewed: Rachel Harris
                      816½ E. Fifth, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  Age: 90

"I reekolect when the war started. I was big enuf to be totin' water,
sweepin', feedin' chickens. I was a big chap when it started. I went
with the white chillun and watched the soldiers marchin'. The drums was
playin' and the next thing I heered, the war was gwine on. You could
hear the guns just as plain. The soldiers went by just in droves from
soon of a mornin' till sundown. They said they was goin' to head off the
Yankees. Dis fore the war ended I heered en say they was gwine to free
the colored folks. That was in Mississippi.

"My old master was Jim Smith and old mistress' name was Louisa Smith.

"I had many a whip put on me. When they wasn't whippin' me the chillun
was. They whipped my mother and everybody.

"My brother Lewis went plum through the war till surrender. He waited on
a Rebel soldier--cooked and washed for him. I never did see no white
Yankee soldiers but I seed the colored soldiers with the blue suits. I
stood out many a night and day and heered them guns.

"Jim Smith had near bout a hundred head of colored folks on his place.
He didn't go to war--he just seed that all the white women had plenty to
eat while their men folks was away.

"My mother was sold away from my father long 'fore I was born. He used
to come to visit, but a little while 'fore I was born they stopped him
and wouldn't let him come no more.

"After surrender one of my brothers come home and say the war was over.

"We stayed there three years after surrender. They paid my mother and
stepfather but they wouldn't pay us chillun nothin', so my mother sent
me to town to live with my sister.

"I hired out as a nurse girl and them white folks just as good to me as
could be. She paid me $3 a month and give me all my clothes. I was young
and didn't have no sense, but all I didn't spend on candy I sent to my

"In slavery times the white folks had a servant to comb the hair and
lift up the dress. Yes ma'm, they had servants. I sho was glad they had
that war and freed me.

"Yes, Jesus, I seen them Ku Klux. I member once we had a big ball. We
was cuttin' a dash that night. The Ku Klux come and made out they was
dead. Some of the folks run they was so scared, but one woman come out
and said she knowed every one of the men. She knowed em by their hosses.
Next mornin' we went by old Purvis Newman's house and it looked like
they was a hundred saddles layin' out in the yard. I was a young woman
then and sparkin' fit to kill. Yes ma'm I member all about it. I
reekolect it just as well as I can walk out that door.

"My son wrote me bout eight years ago and say, 'Mama, you is might near
a hunderd.' My daughter, my baby chile, is bout sixty-three.

"About this younger generation, I don't know what to think. Some say the
devil loose 'for a season.' I say if he ain't loose, he tied mighty


  Little Rock District
  Name of Interviewer: Irene Robertson
  Subject: TALES [HW: Superstitions and Charms]
  Story--Information (If not enough space on this page add page)

When she was a child she remembered white children and colored playing
"No Boogerman Tonight." One would catch the others as they ran from
behind big trees. Then whoever he caught would be the boogerman, till he
caught somebody else.

       *       *       *       *       *

They made ash cakes and put black walnuts in it. It was just as good as
crackling bread which was made from rendering lard. They made molasses
candy and pulled it at the Master's house during Christmas.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mothers combed their children's hair Sunday and wrapped it, sometimes
had dyed string.

The Master had a mule named Beck. Only one on the farm could tend old
Beck. He would buck and kick. Sometimes he would run and he would lope
if you "hitched" him to a buggy. When freedom came the master studied
who would tend old Beck so he gave him to Jack. Jack felt so free as he
rode from the farm out into the big world all his own and no place to
go. In about a year Jack sent a letter back by somebody to the Master.
"I want you to send me $2.00 of your own money. My wife has gone raving
destracted. My mule is dead. I am pestered and bothered. I bound you."

       *       *       *       *       *

Will said there used to be witches when somebody got mad with somebody
they would bewitch the cows. You couldn't get the butter to come no
matter how long you churned and sometimes a bewitched cow would come up
and give bloody milk. If you keep plenty salt around in the troughs the
witches wouldn't come about so much.

       *       *       *       *       *

If you carry a rabbit foot in your pocket it will bring you good luck.
If you find anything pointed with point toward you, that is a sign of
good luck. If you put your shirt or dress on wrong side out, don't
change it. Thats good luck for the day.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't start to sew a piece of goods on Friday unless you are sure you
can get it done before night for that is bad luck.

       *       *       *       *       *

  This information given by: Rachel Harris
  Place of Residence: Green Grove, Hazen, Arkansas
  Occupation: Field.--Lives with her daughter.
  AGE: 80

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person Interviewed: William Harris
                      DeValls Bluff, Ark.
  Age: 75 or 80

"I was born in Chetam County close to Nashville, Tennessee. Our master
was named Joe Harris. His wife was Miss Sallie Harris. They had eight
children. I knowed Newt, Tom and Kittie. My mother had nine children.
Her name was Julia. My papa's name was Isom Harris. I think they belong
to the same family of white folks. Granny was old woman looked after
white children. See if any of em got sick. She seen after little nigger
children too. Mama was a field hand like papa. After war Plummer Harris
went on off. He was cruel to his wife and grown folks but good to the
children. We had good houses and plenty wood but the feed was light.

"I seen the Yankees riding through the country. They looked pretty,
'specially them on white horses. My papa and mama left. Mama died with
pneumonia. Papa died, too. We had a mighty hard time after freedom and
before too. Papa worked about on shares--hired out on jobs.

"When freedom come on we went on and they didn't think to give us
nothing. When the hands all left they had the land and nobody to work.
They was land pore. It was tore up. Fences down, houses down, and
nothing to be raised to eat in the winter.

"When I got bigger I helped build the North Western Railroad into
Nashville. I made right smart of money. I was building up the track
bed. I farmed, worked on the section. I delivered here till my feet got
in bad fix.

"I got thirteen children in all. Some in Tennessee by my first wife and
some here and some grandchildren.

"Folks won't work like I used to work. It ain't no use to be 'larmed
bout the times--they been changing since the world started--still
changing. If you able it is best to go hunt work and be at a job

"I heard about the Ku Klux, they never troubled us. I seen em. I was
scared of em.

"I get commodities and a check for us three old folks. My wife washes
and irons.

"I got a bunion on one foot and raw sores on top of my toes. It won't
cure up. Both feet in bad shape. My wife had both her legs broke. We
doing very well."

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: William H. Harrison
                      Forrest City, Arkansas
  Age: Over 100

"I was born March 4, 1832 in Richmond, Virginia. Master Anderson
Harrison was a cousin to Benjamin Harrison, the twenty-third President
of the United States. Master Anderson Harrison was my owner. I was a
personal attendant of his young son and when I reached manhood I was the
carriage boy. I did all the driving on all the trips the young people of
the family took. My memories of slave days was my easiest days. Slavery
was pleasant for me. My owner's wife was named Ann. The son was Gummel
L. Harrison. I went with him to war. I was his servant in the
battle-field till we fought at Gettysburg and Manassas Gap. Then I was
captured at Bulls Gap and brought to Knoxville, Tennessee and made a
soldier. I was in the War three and one half years. They had us going to
school. They had Yankee teachers in the army. All the schooling I ever
got. I was mustered out at Chattanooga, Tennessee.

"My parents was Julia Ann Hodge and Cairo Hodge. I don't know my
mother's last owners. When I was about eight years old I was sold to Ben
Cowen. When I was thirteen years old I was sold to Master Anderson
Harrison. My brothers Sam and Washington never were sold. Me and Sam
Hodge, my brother, was in the War together. We struck up and knowed one
another. A man bought mama that lived at Selma, Alabama. I never seen
her ag'in to know her. After I was mustered out I went to Birmingham
where she was drove and sold in search of her. I heard she was taken to
Selma. I went there. I give out hunting for her. It was about dusk. I
saw a woman standing in the door. I asked her to tell me where I could
stay. She said, 'You can stay here tonight.' I went in, hung my overcoat
up. I started to the saloon. I met her husband with a basket on his arm
coming home. I told him who I was. We went to get a drink. I offered him
sherry but he took whiskey. I got a pint of brandy, two apples, two
oranges, for his wife and two little boys. I spent two nights there and
two and a half days there, with my own mother but neither of us knew it

"Fourteen years later Wash wrote to me giving me the address. I told him
about this and he said it was mama. He told her about it. She jumped up
and shouted and fell dead. I never seen her but that one time after I
was sold the first time. I was about eight years old then. She had
eighteen of us boys and one girl, Diana, and then the half-brothers I
seen at Selma. I had eleven brothers took off in a drove at one time and
sold. They was older than I was. I don't know what become of them. I
never seen my papa after I was sold. Diana died in Knoxville, Tennessee
after freedom. I seen better times in slavery than I've ever seen since
but I don't believe in slave traffic--that being sold.

"I was with my young master till my capture. That was my part in
freedom. I was forced to fight by the Yankees then in the Union army. I
was with General Grant when Lee surrendered at Appomattox. That was
freedom. After the War I come to Arkansas and settled at Madison. My
hardships started. I got married the first thing.

"This is how good my owners was to me. He sent me to Hendersonville,
North Carolina (Henderson?) to learn to fiddle. I was so afraid of the
old colored teacher I learned in a month about all he could play. I
played for parties in eight states in slavery. All up in the North. They
trained children to dance then. I took Martha Jane, Easter Ann, Jane
Daniel, my young mistresses and their mother's sisters, Emma and Laura,
to parties and dances all time. We went to Ashville, North Carolina to a
big party. While they was having fine victuals after the dance they sent
me out a plate of turnip greens and turnips, fat meat and corn bread. I
took it and set it down. When Miss Martha Jane got in sight I took her
to our carriage. She said, 'Empty it to the dogs,' and give me one
dollar fifty cents and told me to go to town and buy my supper. I was
treated same as kin folks. I et and drunk same as they had to use. After
freedom I fixed up twice to move back to my young master. Once he sent
me three hundred fifty dollars to move on. Betty fell off the porch and
broke her thigh. That ended my hopes of going back. Betty was my first
wife. I had seven children by her and one by my second wife and this
wife ain't had none. She's been married twice though.

"I got one boy in Virginia seventy-three years old and one boy
sixty-eight years old. My boys are scattered. One lives here. I don't
hear from them now.

"After the War I come to Madison. It was a thriving little river town
surrounded on all sides by wilderness. There were thousands of Indians
camped in the neighboring woods. There was nothing but wooded hills
where Forrest City now stands.

"When General Nathan Bedford Forrest built the cut between Forrest City
and Madison for the road, I was his cook and the first fireman to make
the run through the cut. I used to drive a stagecoach over the Old
Military Road through Pine Tree on the stage run from Memphis to Little

"Game was the nicest thing the country afforded. I killed bear and other
wild game on sites where Marianna, Wynn, and Jonesboro now stand. Where
this house now is was a lake then. (West part of town on north side of
the railroad track.) They caught fish in it then.

"When I heard Benjamin Harrison had been elected President of the United
States, I asked Mr. George Lewis to write to him for me. I was working
for him then. I handled freight at the depot for him. He was dubious of
me knowing such a person but wrote it to please me. A few weeks a reply
come to our letter and a ticket.

"I got my fiddle and went and visited two weeks. I et at the same table
with the President. I slept in the White House. We et out of skillets
together when I was a little boy and drunk out of the same cups. Me and
him and Gummel raised up together. I played for the President and his

"Twice more I went and it cost me nothing. I played for big balls. My
young master sent me my gold name plate. (It is heart shaped with his
name, birth and birthplace--ed.) I been wearing it on my watch chain a
long time. It is my charm. Mr. Lewis was so glad when I got my letter
and ticket. He was good to me.

"I have voted. I voted a Republican ticket because it hope the party out
that freed my race. Some white men told me they burnt up a lot of our
votes. I never seen it done. I can't see to fool with voting.

"The colored folks are seeing a worse time now than in slavery times.
There is two sides to it. The Bible say they get weaker and wiser. I did
read before I got blind. I get a Federal pension of one hundred dollars
a month. I'm thankful for it."

Interviewer's Comment

He has trouble talking. One lung is affected. He is deaf. He is blind.
He said he was wounded caused his lung trouble. Seems to me old age. He
isn't very feeble in the house. Their house was clean and he and his
wife, also born in slavery, looked clean.

  Interviewer: Bernice Bowden
  Person Interviewed: Laura Hart
                      Eleventh & Orange St., Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  Age: 85

"I just can't tell you when I was born cause I don't know. My mother
said I was born on Christmas Eve morning. I'm a old woman. I was big
enough to work in slave times.

"Yes ma'am. I member when the war started. I was born in Arkansas. I'm a
Arkansas Hoosier. You know I had to have some age on me to work in slave

"I pulled corn, picked cotton and drive the mule at the gin. Just walked
behind him all day. I've pulled fodder, pulled cotton stalks, chopped
down corn stalks. I never worked in the house when I was a child while I
was under the jurisdiction of the white folks.

"My old master was Sam Carson and his wife was named Phoebe Carson, boy
named Andrew and a daughter named Mary and one named Rosie.

"We had plenty to eat and went to church on Sunday. After the white
folks had their services we went in. The church was on his place right
across the river. That's where I was when freedom taken place.

"When the war started--I remember that all right--cause when they was
gettin' started old master sent a colored man to take his son's place in
the war.

"I was born up here at Fort Smith and brought here to Jefferson County
and sold--my mother and three chillun.

"Now wait--I'm goin' to give you the full history. My father's mother
was a white woman from the North and my father was a colored man. Her
folks run her here to Arkansas and she stayed with her brother till my
father was nine months old and then she went back North and my papa
stayed with his uncle.

"When his uncle died he willed my papa his place. He had it recorded at
the cotehouse in Little Rock that my papa was a free man. But he
couldn't stay in Arkansas free, so he just rambled 'till he found old
man Carson and my mother. He offered to buy my mother but old master
wouldn't sell her so he stayed with old man Carson till they was all

"My white folks was tollable fair--they didn't beat up the people.

"My mother was as bright as you are. She could sit on her hair. Her
mother was a Creole and her father was a Frenchman. After freedom they
would a killed my father if it hadn't been for old Sam Carson, cause
they thought my mother was a white woman, she was so bright.

"Ku Klux? The Lord have mercy! I remember them. They came and surrounded
the house, hundreds of em. We had a loose plank in the floor and we'd
hide under the floor with the dogs and stay there, too, till they'd

"My father was a gambler. He gambled and farmed. My mother was a
Christian woman. When I got big enough to know anything, she was a
Christian woman.

"I married when I was fourteen. We lived at a place called 'Wildcat.'
Didn't have no school. Nothin' up there but saloons and gambling.

"Then we moved to what they called the Earl Wright place. I had four
chillun--three boys and one girl. Most of my work was in the field.

"I been here in Pine Bluff gwine on seventy-one years. You know--I
knowed this town when they wasn't but one store and two houses. I'm a
old woman--I ain't no baby.

"Honey, I even remember when the Indians was run out o' this town!

"Well, I done telled you all I know. In my comin' up, the colored people
didn't have time to study bout the chillun's ages."

  Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
  Person interviewed: Hatty Haskell
                      1416 W. Pullen, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  Age: 85

"Yes'm, I reckon I was about twelve when the Civil War ended. Oh, I
could nurse a little.

"No ma'am, I wasn't born in Arkansas. I was born in Tennessee, but I was
brought here when I was a baby. Come here before the war. The old master
had sold 'em.

"We was bought by Will Nichols. You ever hear of this here Dick Lake?
Well, that's the place.

"They taken my father and my sister to Texas and stayed till after
freedom. My mother was sick and they didn't carry her and I was too
little, so they left me. They was pretty good to us as far as I know.

"I remember when the Yankees come through. Oh, yes'm, I was scared. I
used to hide under the bed. I wouldn't give 'em a chance to talk to me.

"Our folks stayed on the Nichols' place about two years. Then they
farmed on the shares till he got able to buy him a mule, then he rented.

"After the war the cholera disease come along. My mother and sister died
with it.

"Somebody said if you would hang up some beef outdoors between the road
and the house, it would stop the disease. I know old master hung up
about a half a quarter and it seemed to work. The meat would turn green.

"The Yankees took things to eat but the Rebels would take the women's
clothes--and the men's too. I guess they just took 'em 'cause they

"Biggest work I've done is farm work.

"My daddy said I was sixteen when I married. I had thirteen children but
they ain't all livin'.

"I remember when they said they was free. Some of the folks left the
place and never come back and some of 'em stayed.

"Sometimes I had a pretty good time and sometimes pretty tough.

"I'm gettin' along all right now. I stay here with my son part of the
time and then I go to the country and stay with my daughter."

  Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
  Person interviewed: Matilda Hatchett
                      424 W. Twenty-Fifth Street, North Little Rock,
  Age: Between 98 and 100

"I was born right here in Arkansas about nine miles from Dardanelles
(Dardanelle) in Sevier County. I think it's Sevier. No, it was Yell
County. Yell County, that's it. You put the Dardanelles there and if
they get that they'll get the Yell part. Can't miss Yell if you get

"I wish I could get holt of some of my old white folks. Maybe you can
find 'em for me. There's one big policeman here looks like them but I
don't know whether he is or not. The first white owners that I knowed
was Jackie George in South Carolina. That is where I heard them talkin'
about him comin' from. I wasn't born there; I was born here. I wasn't
born when he come from South Carolina. His wife was named Nealie. He was
just like a ole shoe. Never whipped me but one time in my life.

"I'll tell you about it. This is what they whipped me for. Me and my
brother, Sam, had to water the horses. I didn't have to go with Sam, but
I was big enough to do that. We had one ole horse named John--big ole
horse. I would have to git up on a ten-rail fence to git on him. One day
I was leading ole John back and I got tired of walking. So when I come
to a ten-rail fence, I got up on ole John. I got up on 'im backwards and
I didn't have hold of no bridle nor nothin' because I was lookin' at his

"The others got back there before they did. Ole master said to them,
'Where's Tillie?'

"They said to him, 'She's comin', leadin' ole John.'

"Atter a while they saw me comin', an' one of 'em said, 'There's Tillie

"An' 'nother one, 'Man, she's sittin' on the horse backwards.' And ole
John was amblin' along nippin' the grass now an' then with his bridle
draggin' and me sittin' up on his back facin' his tail and slippin' and
slidin' with every step.

"Ole John was gentle. But they were scairt he would throw me off. Ole
missis come out the gate and met him herself, 'cause she was 'fraid the
others would 'cite him and make him throw me down. She gentled him and
led him up to ole master. They was careful and gentle till they got me
off that horse, and then ole master turned and lit into me and give me a

"That's the only whippin' he ever give me. But that didn't do me no
good. Leastwise, it didn't stop me from ridin' horses. I rode ole John
ever chance I could git. But I didn't ride him backwards no more."


"We used to wear homespun dresses. I have spun a many a yard and wove
it. Did you ever see a loom? I used to have a wheel, and my children
tore it up some way or 'nother. I still have the cards. We done our own
knittin' and spun our own thread and knitted our socks and stockings."


"The white folks lived in pretty good houses and we did too. They lived
in big log houses. The white folks' houses had piazzas between the
rooms. That Haney didn't build them houses. His daddy, Tim Haney, built
'em. The Haneys come in by Tim bein' Thad's father. Thad married Jackie
George's daughter--Louisa George. George was her daddy and Haney was her

"There were four rooms besides the piazza. On one side, there was a big
room built out of lumber. On the other side, there was a big room that a
doctor lived in. There was a great big kitchen west of the piazza. The
kitchen was about fifteen by fifteen. I know it was that large because
we'd all eat at the same time. The old man, Tim, owned about thirty
niggers. After he died they were all divided out among the boys. Every
boy took his part of the land and his part of the niggers. But I wasn't
at his house then. I was livin' with ole Jackie George. The white folks
hadn't moved together then.

"But I went to ole Tim Haney's funeral. The old white woman fainted and
they rubbed her with camphor and stuff and had her layin' out there. I
wasn't old enough to cry over him and wouldn't anyhow because I didn't
care nothin' much about him. But I would have cried for my ole master
though, because I really loved him."


"I saw the soldiers when they come through our place. The first start of
us noticin' them was this. I was always up to the white folks' house.
Thad was goin' back to the Rebel army. Ole master tole my dad to go git
'im a hat. He'd got 'im one and was ridin' back with Thad's hat on on
top of his'n. Before he could git back, here come a man jus' a ridin'.

"Thad was eatin'. He look out, and then he throwed his head back and
said, 'Them's the Federals.'

"Thad finished his breakfast and then he ran on out and got with the
Federals. He didn't join 'em. He jus' fooled 'em. The bridge was half a
mile from our house and the Yankee army hadn't near finished crossing it
when the head of it reached us.

"While they were at the house, pa came ridin' up with the two hats on
his head. They took the hats and throwed pa's on the ground and tried
Thad's on. They took the mare but they give it back.

"Them folks stood 'round there all day. Killed hogs and cooked them.
Killed cows and cooked them. Took all kinds of sugar and preserves and
things like that. Tore all the feathers out of the mattress looking for
money. Then they put ole miss (Nealie Haney) and her daughter (Louisa
Haney) in the kitchen to cookin'.

"Ma got scairt and went to bed. Dreckly the lieutenant come on down
there and said, 'Auntie, get up from there. We ain't a goin' to do you
no hurt. We're after helpin' you. We are freein' you. Aunt Dinah, you
can do as you please now. You're free.'

"She was free!

"They stayed 'round there all night cooking and eatin' and carryin' on.
They sent some of the meat in there to us colored folks.

"Next mornin' they all dropped off goin' down to take Dardanelles. You
could hear the cannons roarin' next day. They was all night gettin'
away. They went on and took Dardanelles. Had all them white folks
runnin' and hidin'.

"The Secesh wouldn't go far. They would just hide. One night there'd be
a gang of Secesh, and the next one, there'd come along a gang of
Yankees. Pa was 'fraid of both of 'em. Secesh said they'd kill 'im if he
left his white folks. Yankees said they'd kill 'im if he didn't leave
'em. He would hide out in the cotton patch and keep we children out
there with him. Ole mis' made him carry us.

"We was freed and went to a place that was full of people. We had to
stay in a church with about twenty other people and two of the babies
died there on account of the exposure. Two of my aunts died, too, on
account of exposure then.

"The soldiers didn't take anything that night but food. They left all
the horses. What they took was what they could eat. But they couldn't
catch the turkeys. The lieutenant stayed around all the time to make the
soldiers behave themselves. The meals he made my ole mis' and her
daughter cook was for the officers.

"Yes Lawd! I have been here so long I ain't forgot nothin'. I can
remember things way back. I can remember things happening when I was
four years old. Things that happen now I can't remember so well. But I
can remember things that happened way back yonder."


"I learnt to read a little after peace was declared. A ole lady, Aunt
Sarah Nunly, learnt us how to spell and then after that we went to
school. I went to school three weeks. I never went to school much.

"Didn't git no chance to learn nothin' in slavery. Sometimes the
children would teach the darkies 'round the house their ABC's. I've
heard of folks teachin' their slaves to read the Bible. They didn't
teach us to read nothin'. I've heard of it, but I've never seen it, that
some folks would cut off the first finger of a nigger that could write."

Father's Children Freed Before Emancipation

"My father had some children that were set free. They lived down on the
river bottom. Their ole master was named ole Crow. He died and sot his
niggers free. He had four slaves. He had five. If any of you know Philo
Pointer, his father was one of 'em. They sot him free. His
daughter--Crow's daughter--wanted the niggers and they would break the
ole man's will. They furnished them a wagon and sot them free. They came
by my father's place and he killed his hog and fed them and they put the
rest of it in the wagon and went on to the free state. I've got an old
piece of a dish them boys give my mama. It's done broke up to a piece
now, but I saves that.

"Patsy Crow was the name of the girl that was freed, and one of the boys
was named Joe Crow, and the others I don't know what it was. I guess it
was Jim. Their old master had left a will givin' them the wagon and team
because he knew it wouldn't be possible for them to stay there after he
died. He said he didn't want his niggers to be under anybody after he
died. Wills was wills in them days. His daughter wanted them niggers,
but they didn't give them to her. They sot them free and sont them off."

Wants to See Her People

"I nursed three children for Thad Haney and Louisa, his wife. Them
girls' names was: the oldest was Julia; the next one was named Emma; and
the youngest one was named Virginia. If I can find them and see them
again, I'll be so happy. I jus' want to meet them one more time--some of
them--all of them if they're livin'; but I know they can't all be

"Matilda Haney was my name then, and I nursed Thad's children in slavery


"I think I'm between ninety-seven and ninety-eight years old. They had
an old-age contest in Reverend Smith's time. They had Reverend Coffee
and another man here since Reverend Smith. The pastor we have now is
Yates. Our church is Lee Chapel A. M. E. Church. The contest was in 1935
I think and the people all agreed that I was the oldest colored woman
in North Little Rock. They said I was ninety-six years old then. That
would make me about ninety-eight years old now. But I saw my children
afterwards and they said I was a year older. I used to have my age in
the family Bible and my husband's too, but it got burnt up. Accordin' to
them I oughta be about ninety-nine or a hundred."


"My folks didn't raise no cotton. They raised about two bales a year.
Didn't have nobody to raise it. Thirty slaves were not enough for that.
And they didn't care nothin' about it nohow. They had forty-six acres of
land in wheat and lots in corn and potatoes. They raised cows, hogs,
horses, turkeys, chickens, and everything else. Even had peafowls. The
geese used to run me 'round many a day.

"They ran a cotton gin and my father managed it. That was his job all
the time before the War.

"After the War, my father farmed. He worked on shares. They never
cheated him that he knew about. If they did, he didn't know it. He owned
his horses and cows."

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: John G. Hawkens
                      Biscoe, Arkansas
  Age: 71

"I was born in Monroe County, Mississippi December 9, 1866. My parents
was Frances Hawkens. She was a half white woman. I was told my daddy was
a white man, Mr. Young. Mother was a cook and house woman. Grandmother
was a field woman. She was dark but had some Indian blood in her. I
believe they said it was part Choctaw Indian. I don't remember a

"Lamar County, Alabama was across the line from Monroe County,
Mississippi. One of the Hawkens girls (white girl) married a man in
Mississippi. The master had three boys and one or two girls. Grandmother
was sold to the Hawkens and mother was born there in Alabama. There was
another woman they owned called Mandy. They was all the slaves they
owned that I knowd of.

"When the War come on, the old man Hawkens was dead. His widow had three
sons but one was married and off from her home somewhere. All three boys
went to war. Her married son died in the War.

"One son went to war but he didn't want to go. He ask his mother if she
rather free the Negroes or go to war. She said, 'Go fight till you die,
it won't be nothing but a breakfast spell.' He went but come back on a
furlough. He spent the rest of the time in a cave he dug down back of
the field. He'd slip out and come to the house a little while at night.
It was in the back woods and not very near anybody else.

"Aunt Mandy, another old man, grandmother and my mother lived in a house
in the yard, two of us was born in slavery. My sister Mandy was fifteen
years old when slavery ended.

"The way we first heard about freedom, one of the boys come home to stay
but no one knew that when he came. He told sister Mandy cook him a good
supper and he would tell her something good. She cooked him a good
supper and set the table. He set to eat and she ask him what it was. He
told her, 'All the slaves are free now.' From that on it was talked. We
left there. My mother and sister Mandy told me I wasn't born. We went to
Mississippi then. I was born over there. Some sharecropped and some
worked as renters.

"Sister Mandy told so many times about carrying fire in a coffeepot--had
a lid and handle--to the son in the cave. She'd go across there, a
meadow like and a field, calling the sheep for a blind so if the cavalry
spied her they would think she had a little feed for the sheep. The
cavalry was close about. It was cold and the young master would nearly
freeze in his cave.

"Mother said they was good to them. They never touched them to beat them
but they all went from early till late. They all worked and the old
mistress too.

"Two of mother's children was slave born. Sister Mandy is dead but my
brother George Hawkens is on 1114 Appenway, Little Rock. He can tell you
more than I know. Two of us was born after slavery. We all had the same
father--Mr. Young. He lived about two miles from Hawkens and had a white
wife and family. I carried water to the field where he worked and talked
a little with him. I saw him when he was sick. He had consumption. I
heard when he died and was buried. He never did one thing for us
children. Mr. Young and the Hawkens was partners some way in the
farming. Mr. Young died young.

"When her son told my sister Mandy at supper table, 'All the slaves are
free now', old mistress jumped up and said, 'It's not recorded! It's not

"Mr. Wolf was a man, old, old man on a big plantation. He had one
hundred slaves. He didn't know his slaves when he met one of them. He
had overseers. He talked with his slaves when he met one about and they
would tell him, 'You're my master.' They said during the War the old man
had cotton seed boiled down for his slaves to eat. The War was about to
starve them all out. Oil mills were unheard of at that time.

"The War brought freedom and starvation both to the slaves. I heard old
people say they died in piles from exposure and hunger. There was no
let-up to their work after freedom.

"All my family came from Mississippi to Forrest City, Arkansas together.
I married the first time there. My wife died. Then I married at
Brinkley, Arkansas. We have one boy living in Lee County. He's my only

Interviewer's Comment

J. G. Hawkens is the whitest Negro I have ever seen. He has blue eyes
and straight hair. He was fishing two days I went to see him.

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Lizzie Hawkens
                      Biscoe, Arkansas
  Age: 65

"I was born close to Magnolia, Arkansas.

"My mother was Harriett Marshal. Her old mistress was a Marshal. She was
a widow woman and had let all her slaves go out to her children but
mama. Mama was her husband's chile, what she tole mama. They come here
from Atlanta, Georgia visiting her married daughter. They was the
Joiners at Magnolia, Arkansas. She brought mama and on her way back home
to Atlanta she died. Her daughter brought her back and buried her in
Arkansas and kept mama.

"Mama said they was nice to her. They wouldn't let her keep company with
no black folks. She was about as white as white folks. She was white as
my husband. Her mother was light or half white. My own papa was a black

"The Joiners and Scotts visited down at Magnolia among themselves but
they didn't want mama to marry in the Scott family (of Negroes). But the
white folks was mighty good friends. Mama took care of the children.
They was in the orchard one day. Papa spied mama. He picked up a plum
and threw at her. She say, 'Where that come from?' He stooped down and
seen her under the limbs. They was under another plum tree. Papa got to
talk to her that day. The old mistress wouldn't let her out of sight.
Papa never could have got her if Mistress Marshal had lived.

"Mama had three or four sisters and brothers in Atlanta, and her mother
was in Atlanta. Her parents were Bob and Lucindy Marshal. Bob was
Lucindy's master. Mama told old mistress to bring Harriett back and she
promised she would. That was one thing made her watch after her so
close. She never had been made a slave. She was to look after old

"After she died mama's young mistress let papa have her. He mustered up
courage to ax for her and she said, 'Yes, L (for Elbert), you can have
her.' That was all the marrying they ever done. They never jumped over
no broom she said. They was living together when she died. But in
slavery times mama lived on at Judge Joiner's and papa at Scott's place.
One family lived six miles east of Magnolia and the other six miles
north of Magnolia. Papa went to see mama twelve miles. They cut through
sometimes. It was dense woods. Mama had one boy before freedom. In all
she had three boys and four girls.

"The Scott and Joiner white folks told the slaves about freedom. Papa
homesteaded a place one mile of the courthouse square. The old home is
standing there now.

"Papa said during the Civil War he hauled corn in an ox wagon. The
cavalry met him more than once and took every ear and grain he had. He'd
have to turn and go back.

"He said when freedom come, some of the people tole the slaves, 'You
have to root pig or die poor.'

"My great-grandpa was sold in South Carolina. He said he rather die than
be sold. He went up in the mountains and found a den of rattlesnakes to
bite him. They was under a stone. Said when he seen them he said,
'Uhher! You can't bite me.' They commenced to rattle like dry
butter-beans. He went on and dressed to be sold. Master Scott bought him
and brought him on to Arkansas. He had to leave his wife. He never got
back to see her.

"Grandpa had to come leave his wife. He married ag'in and had five sons
and a girl. They was Glasco, Alex, Hilliard, Elbert, Bill, and
Katherine. They belong to Spencers till the Scotts bought them but all
these children was his Scott children.

"My uncle's wife belong to white folks not Scotts. Scotts wouldn't sell
and her folks wouldn't part from her. They moved down in Louisiana and
took her and one chile. Uncle run away to see her. The Scotts put the
hounds after him and run him two days and two nights. He was so tired he
stopped to rest. The dogs come up around him. He took a pine knot and
killed the lead dog, hit him in the head and put him in a rotten knot
hole of a hollow tree been burned out and just flew. The dogs scattered
and he heard the horns. He heard the dogs howl and the hoofs of the
man's horses. The old master was dead. He didn't allow the boys to slash
in among his niggers. After he died they was bossy. Uncle said he made
his visit and come back. He didn't ever tell them he killed the lead dog
nor how close they come up on him. He said they was glad to see him when
he come back. His wife was named Georgana.

"After freedom grandpa named himself Spencer Scott. He buried his money.
He made a truck garden and had patches in slavery both in South Carolina
and at Magnolia. He told me he had rusty dollars never been turned over
since they made him came here. He left some money buried back there. We
found his money on his place at Magnolia when he died. He tole us where
it was.

"One night he was going across a bridge and taking a sack of melons to
Magnolia to sell in slavery times. A bear met him. He jumped at the bear
and said 'boo'. The bear growled and run on its way. He said he was so
scared he was stiff. They let them work some patches at night and sell
some things to make a little money. The ole master give them some money
if they went to the city. That was about twice a year papa said. He
never seen a city till years after freedom. His pa and grandpa got to go
every now and then. Magnolia was no city in them days.

"It is hard to raise children in this day and time. When I went on the
Betzner place (near Biscoe, Arkansas) my son was eight years old. He
growed up along side Brooks (Betzner). I purt nigh talked my tongue out
of my head and Brooks' (white boy) mother did the same thing. Every year
when we would lay by, me and my husband (white Negro) would go on a
camp. Brooks would ask me if he could go. We took the two of them. (The
Hawkens boy is said to be a dark mulatto--ed.) He's a smart boy, a good
farmer down in Lee County now. He married when he was nineteen years
old. It is hard to raise a boy now. There is boxing and prize fighting
and pool halls and _that's not right_! Times are not improving as I can
see in that way. Worse than I have ever seen them."

  Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
  Person interviewed: Becky Hawkins
                      717 Louisiana Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  Age: 75

"Yes'm, I was born in slave times but my mammy was sucklin' me. Don't
know much bout slavery but just come up free.

"My mammy's old master was Calvin Goodloe in Alabama, Pulaski County,
near Tuscumbia. I heered my uncle say old master favored his niggers.

"Mammy told me bout em gettin' whippin's, but she never let the overseer
whip her--she'd go to old master.

"My grandmama's hair was straight but she was black. She was mixed
Indian. My mammy's father was Indian and she say he fought in the
Revolution. She had his pistol and rocks. When he died he was the oldest
man around there.

"I tell you what I remember. I 'member my mammy had a son named Enoch
and he nussed me in slave days when mammy was workin' in the field. They
didn't low em to go to the house but three times a day--that was the
women what had babies. But I was so sickly mammy had Enoch bring me to
the fence so she could suckle me.

"I went to school down here in Arkansas in Lincoln County. I got so I
could read in McGuffy's Fourth Reader. I member that story bout the
white man chunkin' the boy down out of the apple tree.

"That was a government school on the railroad--notch house. Just had one
door and one window. They took the nigger cabins and made a

"After freedom my mammy stayed on old master's place--he didn't drive em
away. My mammy spinned the raw cotton and took it to Tuscumbia and got
it wove. Some of it she dyed. I know when I was a gal I wore a checked
dress with a white apron. And my first Sunday dress was striped cotton.
After she worked enough she bought me a red worsted dress and trimmed it
and a sailor hat. We went to church and they led me by the hand. After
church I had to take off my dress and hang it up till next Sunday. Had a
apron made of cross barred muslin. Don't see any of that now. It was
made with a bodice and had ruffles round the neck. Wore brass toed shoes
and balmoral stockin's in my gal time. When my husband was courtin' me,
my dress was down to my shoe top. He never saw my leg!

"My fust work was nussin'. I went to Hot Springs with the white folks. I
nussed babies till I got against nussin' babies. I stayed right in the
house and slep on a sofa with a baby in my arms. In my time they lowed
you off half a day on Sunday.

"Chile, I washed and ironed and washed and ironed and washed and ironed
till I married. I married when I was seventeen. My mother was dead and
I'd rather been married than runnin' loose--I might a stepped on a

"My daddy was a ex-soldier. I don't know what side he fought on but my
mammy got bounty when he died. That's what she bought that land with
down here in Lincoln County from her old master Goodloe.

"I tell you--I'm a old christian and I think this younger generation is
growin' up like Christ said--they is gettin' weaker and wiser.

"My mother's sister, Patience Goodloe, lived in Pulaski County, Alabama
and I went back there after I was married and stayed two months. I went
up and down the fields where my daddy and mommy worked. I went out to
the graveyard where my little brother was buried but they had cotton and
corn planted on the old slavetime graveyard.

"I like that country lots better than this here Arkansas. Don't have no
springs or nothin' here."

  Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
  Person interviewed: G. W. Hawkins
                      1114 Appianway, Little Rock, Arkansas
  Age: 73

"I was born in Lamar County, Vernon, Alabama, January 1, 1865. I was a
slave only four months.

"My father was Arter Hawkins and my mother was named Frances. My
grandmother on my mother's side was Malvina. I forget the name of my
great-grandmother, but I believe it was Elizabeth. She was one hundred
nine years old and I was twelve years old then. Her mind was just like a
little sparrow floating in the air. That was my great-grandmother on my
mother's side. My grandfather on my father's side was named Alec Young.
My mother's father was named Eliza Wright.

"My mother's people were the Hawkins, and my father's were the Yanceys.

"My father and mother were farmers, and ran whiskey stills. There wasn't
any revenue on whiskey then. The first revenue ever paid on whiskey was
ten cents. The reason I remember that so well was that a fellow named
John Hayman ran a still after the revenue was put on the stuff. Finally
they caught him. They fined him.

"My folks farmed right after freedom and they farmed in slavery time.
They didn't raise no cotton. They raised corn and wheat and such as that
in Alabama. Alabama is good for cotton, corn, wheat, tobacco, or
anything you want to grow. It is the greatest fruit country in the

"Right after freedom, my folks continued to farm till they all played

[HW: Insert on P. 9]

"I came out here after I got grown. I just took a notion to go somewhere
else. I have been in Arkansas forty-eight years. I first lived in
Forrest City. Stayed there six years and did carpenter work. I have been
a carpenter all my life--ever since I was about sixteen years old. I
went to Barton, Arkansas and stayed there two years and then came here.
I have supported myself by carpenter work ever since I came here. I
helped build the Frisco Road from Potts Camp to the Alabama River. That
is the other side of Jefferson County in Alabama.

"I haven't asked for the old folks pension--can't get no one to believe
that I am old enough for one thing. Can't get it nohow. It is for
destitute people. I can't get under the security because they say I am
too old for that. I'm too much of a worker to get old age assistance and
too old to be allowed to put up tax to become eligible for old age

"I never went to school. I just got an old blue back speller and taught
myself how to read and write with what I picked up here and there from
people I watched. That's one way a man never fails to learn--watching
people. That's the only way our forefathers had to learn. I learned
arithmetic the same way. I never considered I was much at figuring but I
took a contract from a man who had all kinds of education and that man
said I could do arithmetic better than he could.

"I belong to the A. M. E. Church. I have been a member of it for
forty-one years.

"I have three boys living and one stepdaughter. But she feels like she
is my own. I don't make any difference. I never have whipped my
children. I had one child--a girl--that died when she was eight months
old. I taught all my boys the carpenter trade, and they all work and
stay right here at home with me."

Living Conditions during and Immediately after Slavery

"There are two quarters that I used to visit with my grandmother when I
was a little boy. The boss's house was built so that he could stand on
the porch of his house and see anything on the place, even in the slave
quarters. The houses were all built out of logs. The roof was put on
with what they called rib poles. They built the cable and cut each beam
shorter than the other. They laid the boards across them and put a big
log on top of them to weight them down, so that the wind couldn't blow
the planks off. They were home-made planks. They didn't have no nails.
They had nothing but dirt floors.

"Where the men folks were thrifty when they wanted to, they would go out
at night and split the logs into slabs and then level them as much as
they could and use those for floors. All the colored folks' were split
log floors if there were any floors at all. There was no lumber then.
The planks were made with whipsaws and water-mills. I was a grown man
before I ever saw a steam mill. The quarters that I saw were those that
were built in slave time.

"If cracks were too big, they would put a pole in the crack and fill up
the rest of it with mud--that is what they called chink and dob. The
doors were hung on wooden hinges. They would bore a hole through the
hinge and through the door and put a wooden pin in it in place of
screws. There wasn't a nail or a screw in the whole house when it was
finished. They did mortise and tenon joints--all frame houses. Where we
use nails now, if they had to, they would bore a hole and drive in a
pin--wooden pin."


"The colored folks would put a post out from the corner and bore a hole
and put the other end in it. They wouldn't have any slats but would just
lay boards across the side and put wheat or oat straw on the boards.
The women made all the quilts. What I mean, they carded the rolls, spun
the thread--spun it on an old hand-turned wheel--and then they would
reel it off of the broach onto the reel and make hanks out of it. Then
they would run it off on what they called quills. Then it would go
'round a big pin and come out with the threads separated. Then they
would run through something like a comb and that would make the cloth.

"It was the rule in slave time to card one hundred rolls. Sometimes they
would be up till after twelve o'clock at night. They carded that in one
night and spun it the next night. Start with old cotton just like it
come from the gin. Card it one night and spin it the next. Done wool and
cotton the same way. One hundred rolls carded gave enough threads to
make a yard of cloth.

"In them days they tasked everybody to the limit."


"For stoves they used an iron pot on a big fire. In the kitchen, they
had a fireplace built ten feet wide. They had things they called pot
racks hung down from the chimney, and they would hang pots on them. They
put the pots on those hooks and not on the logs. When they baked bread
they would use iron skillets--North Carolina people called them spiders.
They would put an iron lid on them and put fire over the top and
underneath the skillet and bake good bread. I mean that old-time bread
was good bread. They baked the light bread the same way. They baked
biscuits once a week. Sunday mornings was about the only time you ever
got them."

Food in General (Slaves)

"In slavery times they had all kinds of meat--more than they have now--,
vegetables and fruits too. They raised them themselves. There wasn't no
food issued. Didn't need to be. One cook cooked it all in one kitchen
and they all sat around the same big old long table long as a house. All
the hands ate at the same table and in the same room and at the same

"The way they fed the children, they took pot-liquor or bean soup or
turnip liquor or the juice from anything they boiled and poured it out
in a great big wooden bowl and let all the children get 'round it like
so many cats and they would just tip their hands in it and eat what they
wanted. Of course they had all the milk they wanted because everybody
raised cows. I didn't have to undergo this myself, but this was what
they had to undergo at the places where my grandmother took me to visit."


"A colored boy had to be more than twelve years old before he wore a
pair of pants. He wore nothing but a long shirt that come down to his
knees. The hands in slave time wore homemade shirts. All clothes were
homemade--pants and coats and dresses and stockings and everything. The
shoes were made out of harness leather. Tanned and made right by hand at
home. I have seen tanning vats and yards two blocks square."


"You had to get a pass from owners to go out at night. If you had a pass
and the pateroles found you, it was all right if you hadn't overstayed
the time that was written on it. If you didn't have a pass or if you had
overstayed your time, it was still all right if you could outrun the
pateroles. That held before freedom and it held a long time after
freedom. The pateroles were still operating when I was old enough to
remember those old quarters. They didn't break them up for a long time.
I remember them myself. I don't mean the Ku Klux. The Ku Klux was a
different thing altogether. The Ku Klux didn't exist before the War. I
don't know where they got the name from--I don't know whether they give
it to themselves or the people give it to them. But the Ku Klux came
after the War and weren't before it."

Ku Klux Influence on Negroes

"The Ku Klux Klan weren't just after Negroes. They got after white folks
and Negroes both. I didn't think they were so much after keeping the
Negro from voting as some other things.

"There was one colored fellow in Alabama--I think his name was Egbert
Bondman--that wasn't influenced. He was a politician and they got after
him one time. He lived about six miles south of Vernon in Lamar County,
Alabama. He went down to the hole where they watered their horses and
stretched an old cable wire across the road just high enough to trip up
their horses. He hid in the woods and cut down on them with his shotgun
when they came up. I hear there was one more scramble when those horses
commenced stumbling, and those men started running through the forest to
get away from that shot.

"I remember one night my mother woke me up, and I looked out and there
was a lot of the Ku Klux riding down the road. They had on long white
robes and looked like a flock of geese in the dark.

"The main thing the Ku Klux seemed to try to do, it seemed to me, was to
try to keep the colored folks obedient to their former masters and to
keep the white folks from giving them too much influence. And they
wanted to stop the white men that ran after colored women.

"But they didn't last long. They whipped a fellow named Huggins in the
early seventies, and he was a government man. After that government men
camped on their trail, and they didn't amount to much."

Slave Breeding

"The thing they were fighting began in slavery. There were slave men
kept that forced slave women to do what they wanted to do. And if the
slave women didn't do it, the masters or the overseers whipped them till
they did. The women were beat and made to go to them. They were big fine
men, and the masters wanted the women to have children by them. And
there were some white men, too, who forced the slave women to do what
they wanted to. Some of them didn't want to stop when slavery stopped."

Slave Tasks and Hours of Work

"I've told you the slaves were tasked to the limit. The hours of the
slave hands--if it was summer time--he must be in the field when the sun
rose. And he must come home and eat his dinner and get back in the field
and stay till the sun went down. In the winter time he must be out there
by the time it was light enough to see the work and stay out till it was
just too dark to see the work with just enough time out to stop and eat
his dinner. This was just after slavery that I remember. But the hours
were the same then. The average on cotton picking was two hundred pounds
a day. Pulling fodder was a hundred bundles. Gathering corn and such as
that was all they could do."

Wages just after Freedom

"The average wage that a man got for twenty-six days' work--twenty-six
days were counted a working month--was eight dollars and board for the
month. That was the average wage for work like that. That is the way
they worked then."

This Matter of Slave Clothes Again

"Clothes!!! They didn't know nothing 'bout underclothes. They didn't
wear them just after the War, and I know they didn't before the War--not
in my part of Alabama. That's the reason why they say the Negro is cold
natured. He didn't have anything on. I have seen many a boy picking and
chopping cotton on a cold autumn day with nothing on but his shirt. In
his bare feet too. He got one pair of shoes a year and he didn't get no
more. When he wore them out, he didn't have any till the next year.

"When I was a boy I have seen many a young lady walk to church with her
shoes flung over her shoulders and wait till she got nearly there before
she would put them on. She didn't want to wear them out too soon.

"I didn't have to undergo this myself.

"When I was ten years old, my job was to drive a [HW: ox] team
twenty-six miles, and it took me two days to go and two days to come and
one day to load and unload--five days. The team was loaded with cotton
going and anything coming back. We used to get salt from some place near
New Orleans. We would drive ox teams down there, put in on order, wait
till they dipped the water out of the lake, boiled the salt out of it,
and packed it up. There was no such thing as mining salt like they do
now. It would take from August first till about the middle of September
to get it. Ox team won't make more than about twelve miles a day. The
people would make up a wagon train and go and come together. People in
those days didn't believe a horse would pull anything but a buggy, so
they used steers mostly for heavy pulling. They ran all gins and
thrashers by horse power and the running gear was all made out of wood.
A lot of people say you couldn't make a wooden cotton press that would
pack a bale of cotton. You can make a wooden press that will break a
bale in two. Of course the gin was made out of metal. But they made the
press out of wood."

Slave Schooling

"The slaves were not allowed to learn anything. Sometimes one would be
shrewd enough to get in with the white children and they would teach him
his a-b-c's, and after he learnet to spell he would steal books and get
out and learn the rest for himself."

How Freedom Came

"The way I heard it the owners called their slaves up and told them they
was free. They give them their choice of leaving or staying. Most of
them stayed."

First Crop after Freedom

"In 1865, when the slaves were freed, they acknowledged they were free
in May in Alabama. All that was free and would stay and help them make
their crops, they give them one-tenth. That is, one-tenth went to all
the hands put together. Of course if they had a lot of hands that
wouldn't be much. Then again, it might be a good deal. I know about that
by hearing the old people talk about it."


"I'll tell you my opinions some other time. I think the young people are
beyond control. I don't have any trouble with mine. I never have had any
trouble with them."

  Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
  Person interviewed: Eliza Hays
                      2215 W. Twentieth Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
  Age: 77 or more

"On the fourth of August, my birthday, and directly after the colored
people were set free, all the white people gave a great big dinner to
the slaves. All the white people at my home came together and gave a big
dinner to us. It was that way all over the United States. My mother told
me I was four years old at that big dinner. They went to a great big
book and throwed it open and found my birthday in it. I never will
forget that. You can figure from that exactly how old I am.
(Seventy-seven or seventy-eight--ed.)

"My mother's name was Elizabeth Tuggle and my father's name was Albert
Tuggle. My mother was the mother of sixteen children. They were some of
them born in freedom and some born in slavery. They are all dead but
three. My mother was married twice.

"Old Tom Owens was my mother's master. I just do remember him. My
father's master was named Tom Tuggle. My mother and my father got
together by going different places and meeting. They went together till
freedom and weren't married except in the way they married in slavery.
During slavery times, old master gave you to some one and that was all
of it. My father asked my mother's old master if he could go with my
mother and old man Owens said yes. Then father went to her cabin to see
her. When freedom came, he taken her to his place and married her
accordin' to the law.

"Aunt Mariny Tuggle was my father's mother. I don't know anything about
his father. She has been dead! She died when I was young. I can remember
her well, though.

"I can remember my mother's mother. Her name was Eliza Whitelow. Her
husband was named Jack Whitelow. They was my grandfather and my
grandmother on my mother's side. They old people. I can remember seeing

"I never saw my grandfather on my father's side. That was way back in
slavery time. I used to hear them say he was a guinea man. He was short.
My own father was small too. But my father's father was short as I am. I
am about four and a half feet tall. (I stopped here and measured her,
and she was exactly four feet six inches tall--ed.) I never heard nobody
say where he came from. My father's sisters were part Indian. Their hair
was longer than that ruler you got in your hand there. It came down on
their shoulders. They was a shade brighter than I am.

"My father's mother was small too. His sisters were not whole sisters;
their daddy was Indian."


"My father and his father and mother were all farmers. My mother and her
mother were farmers too. All my people were long-lived. Grandpa,
grandma, and all of them. I reckon there about a hundred children
scattered back there in Tennessee. Brother's children and sister's
children. I believe my folks would take care of me if they knew about my
condition. These folks here are mean. Them folks would take care of me
if I were home."

Slave Houses

"The slaves lived in old log houses; just one room, one door, one
window, one everything. They had any kind of furniture they could git.
Some of them had old homemade beds and some of them one thing and
another. You know the white folks wasn't goin' to give them no

"They had plenty of meat and bread and milk to eat. Coarse food--the
commonest kind of food they could get 'hold of! When I knowed anything,
I was in the big house eating the bes' with the white folks. Some of
them could live well then. My mama gave me to the Owenses--her old
mistress. I was raised on a pallet in the house. I was in the house from
the time I was large enough to be taken from my mother. I didn't never
do any work till I was married. Old mistress wouldn't let me work. Just
keep by her and hand her a drink of water, and on like that. She's dead
now--dead, dead, dead! They didn't leave but two children, they was
'round in the country somewheres then I left there.

"After I married I went to her husband's first wife's child. She had
about nine or ten boys and one girl. I raised part of them. But most of
them was great big children--big enough for me to throw a glass of milk
at their heads. I would fight. Sometimes they used to hear them
hollering and come out, and I would be throwing a glass at one and
jumping across the table at the other. But when them boys grew up, they
loved me just the same as anybody. Nobody in town could touch me, right
or wrong."

Mean Masters

"My mother's masters used to tie her down before the dairy door and have
two men beat her. She has told me that they used to beat her till the
blood ran down on the bricks. Some white people in slavery times was
good to the niggers. But those were mean, that's the reason I ain't got
no use for white folks. I'm glad I was not old in that time. I sure
would have killed anybody that treated me that way. I don't know that
my father's people beat him up. I think his people were kinder and
sorter humored him because he was so small."


"They tell me some of them would have a big supper and then they would
hug and kiss each other and jump over the broomstick and they were
supposed to be married."

Amusement and Recreation

"They used to go out and dance and carry on for amusement, and they
would go to church too. It was just about like it is now. Dancing and
going to church is about all they do now, isn't it? They got a gambling
game down there on the corner. They used to do some of that too, I


"I have heard my mother say many times that a woman would be put up on
the block and sold and bring good money because she was known to be a
good and fast breeder."

Ku Klux, Patrollers, Robbers

"I've heard of the pateroles and Ku Klux. I thought they said the Ku
Klux was robbers. I think the Ku Klux came after the War. But there was
some during the War that would come 'round and ask questions. 'Where's
yo' old master?' 'Where's his money hid?' 'Where's his silverware?' And
on like that. Then they would take all the money and silver and anything
else loose that could be carried away. And some of them used to steal
the niggers theirselves 'specially if they were little childrens. They
was scared to leave the little children run 'round because of that."


"I don't know. I better keep my 'pinions to myself. You just have to go
on and be thankful and look to the Lord."

Support and Later life

"I haven't done a day's work for seven years. I haven't been able. I
have a son, but he has a family of his own to support and can't do
nothin' for me. I have another son but he is now out of work himself. He
can't get anything to do. I just have to git along on what little I can
turn up myself, and what little I get from my friends.

"My husband died about seven years ago. I have lost two boys inside of
seven years. After they died, I went right on down. I ain't been no good
since. The youngest one, Mose, got killed on a Sunday night. I felt it
on Saturday night and screamed so that people had to come 'round me and
hold me and comfort me. Then on Sunday night Mose got shot and I went
crazy. He was my baby boy and he and his brother were my only support.
My other boy got sick and died at the hospital. When the man stepped on
the porch to tell me he was dead, I knew it when I heard him step up
before he could say a word. I can't git to see his wife now. She was the
sweetest woman ever was. She was sure good to my son. She treated him
like he was a baby. She was devoted to him and his last request to her
was to see to me. I don't know just where she is now, but she's in the
city somewheres. She would help me I know if I could get to her.

"My husband was a preacher. He pastored the St. John Baptist Church for
fifteen years. He lived here over thirty years before he died. I left a
good home in Brownsville, Tennessee. That's where we were married. I
have been married twice. I lived with my first husband, George Shaver, a
year. I married him about 1876. I was single for two years. After that
I married Rev. Hays. I lived with Rev. Hays about twenty-one years in
Brownsville, Tennessee. We bought a house and lot there. We were gettin'
along fine when we decided to come here. He was a shoemaker then. He
made shoes after he came here, too. I ran a restaurant in Brownsville. I
guess we lived together more then fifty years in all. He died seven
years ago.

"I rent these two rooms in this little shack. They won't give me no help
at the Welfare."

  --- 1- 1937
  Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
  Person interviewed: Tom Haynes
                      1110 W. Second Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

"I was six years old when the war ended--the day we was set free. My old
mistress, Miss Becky Franks, come in and say to my mother 'Addie, you is
free this morning' and commenced cryin'. She give my mother some jerked
beef for us.

"I know I run out in the yard where there was eighty Yankee soldiers and
I pulled out my shirt tail and ran down the road kickin' up the dust and
sayin', 'I'm free, I'm free!' My mother said, 'You'd better come back

"I never knew my mother to get but one whippin'. She put out her mouth
against old mistress and she took her out and give her a breshin'.

"I can remember away back. I can remember when I was three years old.
One day I was out in the yard eatin' dirt and had dirt all over my face.
Young master Henry come out and say 'Stick out your tongue, I'm goin' to
cut it off.' I was scared to death. He said 'Now you think you can quit
eatin' that dirt?' I said 'Yes' so he let me go.

"One time the Yankee soldiers took young Master Henry and hung him up by
the thumbs and tried to make him tell where the money was. Master
Henry's little brother Jim and me run and hid. We thought they was goin'
to hang us too. We crawled under the house just like two frogs lookin'

"Old master had about thirty-five hands but some of em run away to war.
My father run away too, but the war ended before he could get into it.

"I went to school a little while, but my father died and my mother bound
me out to a white man.

"When we was first freed I know those eighty soldiers took us colored
folks to the county band in Monticello. There was forty soldiers in the
back and forty in front and we was in the swing.

"I learned to read after I was grown. I worked for the railroad in the
freight office fifteen years and learned to check baggage.

"I was a house mover when I was able, but I'm not able to work now. I
own this house here and I'm livin' on the relief.

"My father was a blacksmith and shoemaker--made all our shoes. I've
lived in town all my life.

"The people are better off free if they had any sense. They need a
leader. When they had a chance if they had bought property, but no--they
wanted to get in office and when they got in they didn't know how to
act. And the young people don't use their education to help

  Interviewer: Bernice Bowden
  Person Interviewed: Joe Haywood
                      2207 West Eleventh Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  Age: 76

"I was born the first day of January, 1862 Born in Mississippi,
Yazoo County. My mother said I was a New Year's present. A. M. Payne was
our owner.

"I just do 'member seein' the soldiers and that's all. I 'member the
brim of slavery and that's all.

"I member Henry Dixon. He was a Klu Klux. He was Klu Klukin round
breakin' up the benevolent societies. He was a real bad man. He just
went round with his crowd and broke 'em up. My owner was a good
man--good man. They all give him a good name.

"Our folks stayed there till I was plumb grown.

"I've farmed, carpentered, and all kinds of work on the plantation. I've
been a engineer in a gin and gettin' out crops every year.

"After I left Mississippi I just roved around. Went through Louisiana to
Texas. I lived in Texas. I reckon, from 1893 to '96. Then I started to
rove again. I roved from Texas back home to Mississippi in 1902. Stayed
there till 1932, then I roved over here to Arkansas. I done got too old
to rove now.

"School? Oh Lord, I went to school all my days till I was grown. They
kep' me in school. My mother kep' me in till she died and then my
stepmother kep' me in. I got very near through the fifth grade. In my
day the fifth grade was pretty good. Wilson's Fifth Reader was a pretty
good book. They took me out of Wilson's Fifth Reader and put me in
McGuffy's and there's where I quit. Studied the Blue Back Speller.

"I've had some narrow escapes in my life. I had a shot right through
here in the breast bone--right over my heart. That was in ninety-six. Me
and another fellow was projectin with a gun.

"Then I had a bad accident on the ninth of March, 1914. A 800-foot log
came down on me. It near 'bout killed me. I was under a doctor 'bout six
or eight months. That's how come I'm crippled now. It broke my leg and
it's two inches shorter than the other one. I walked on crutches 'bout
five years. Got my jawbone broke too. Couldn't eat? I ain't never
stopped eatin'. Ain't no way to stop me from eatin' 'cept to not give it
to me.

"I compressed after I got my leg broke. And I was a noble good

"I never have voted. Nobody ever pushed me up to it and I ain't never
been bothered 'bout anything like that. Everythin was a satisfaction to
me. Just whatever way they went was a satisfaction to me.

"I have never heard my folks give my white folks no 'down the hill'. My
daddy was brought from Charleston, South Carolina. He was a ship
carpenter. He did all of Payne's carpenter work from my baby days up.

"The last of the Paynes died since I came here to Arkansas. He was a
A. M. Payne, too.

"I can 'member the soldiers marchin' by. They wore yellow shirts and
navy blue coats. I know the coats had two little knobs right behind,
just the color of the coat.

"I don't know what to think of the younger generation. I don't know why
and what to think of 'em. Just don't know how to take 'em. Ain't comin'
like I did. Lay it to the parents. They have plenty of leaders outside
the family.

"I'm lookin' for a better time. God's got His time set for 'em on that.

"I belong to St. James Methodist Episcopal Church."

  Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
  Person interviewed: Marie E. Hervey
                      1520 Pulaski Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
  Age: 62

"I have heard my father and mother talk over the War so many times. They
would talk about how the white people would do the colored and how the
Yankees would come in and tear up everything and take anything they
could get their hands on. They would tell how the colored people would
soon be free. My mama's white folks went out and hid when the Yankees
were coming through.

"My father's white people were named Taylor's--old Job Taylor's folks.
They lived in Tennessee.

"My mother said they had a block to put the colored people and their
children on and they would tell them to tell people what they could do
when the people asked them. It would just be a lot of lies. And some of
them wouldn't do it. One or two of the colored folks they would sell and
they would carry the others back. When they got them back they would
lock them up and they would have the overseers beat them, and bruise
them, and knock them 'round and say, 'Yes, you can't talk, huh? You
can't tell people what you can do?' But they got a beating for lying,
and they would uh got one if they hadn't lied, most likely.

"They used to take pregnant women and dig a hole in the ground and put
their stomachs in it and whip them. They tried to do my grandma that
way, but my grandpa got an ax and told them that if they did he would
kill them.

"They never could do anything with him.

"My mother's people were the Hess's. They were pretty good to her. It
was them that tried to whip my grandma though.

"You had to call everybody 'Mis'' and 'Mars' in those days. All the old
people did it right after slavery. They did it in my time. But we
children wouldn't. They sent me and my sister up to the house once to
get some meal. We said we weren't goin' to call them no 'Mars' and
'Mis'.' Two or three times we would get up to the house, and then we
would turn 'round and go back. We couldn't make up our minds how to get
what we was sent after without sayin' 'Mars' and 'Mis'.' Finally old man
Nick noticed us and said, 'What do you children want?' And we said,
'Grandma says she wants some meal.' When we got back, grandma wanted to
know why we took so long to go and come. We told her all about it.

"People back home still have those old ways. If they meet them on the
street, you got to get off and let them by. An old lady just here a few
years ago wouldn't get off the sidewalk and they went to her house and
beat her up that night. That is in Brownsville, Tennessee in Hayeard
[HW: Haywood] County. That's an old rebel place.

"White people were pretty good to the old colored folks right after the
War. The white folks were good to my grandfather. The Taylors were. They
would give him a hog or something every Christmas. All the old slaves
used to go to the big house every Christmas and they would give them a

"My husband ran off from his white people. They was in Helena. That's
where he taken the boat. He and a man and two women crossed the river on
a plank. He pulled off his coat and got a plank and carried them across
to the other side. He was goin' to meet the soldiers. He had been told
that they were to come through there on the boat at four o'clock that
afternoon. The rebels had him and the others taking them some place to
keep them from fallin' into the hands of the Yankees, and they all ran
off and hid. They laid in water in the swamp all that night. Their
bosses were looking for them everywhere and the dogs bayed through the
forest, but they didn't find them. And they met some white folks that
told them the boat would come through there at four o'clock and the
white folks said, 'When it comes through, you run and get on it, and
when you do, you'll be free. You'll know when it's comin' by its blowin'
the whistle. You'll be safe then, 'cause they are Yankees.'

"And he caught it. He had to cross the river to get over into Helena to
the place where the boat would make its landin'. After that he got with
the Yankees and went to a whole lot of places. When he was mustered out,
they brought him back to Little Rock. The people were Burl Ishman and
two women who had their children with them. I forget the names of the
women. They followed my husband up when he ran off. My husband's first
name was Aaron.

"My husband had a place on his back I'll remember long as I live. It was
as long as your forearm. They had beat him and made it. He said they
used to beat niggers and then put salt and pepper into their wounds. I
used to tell daddy that 'You'll have to forget that if you want to go to
heaven.' I would be in the house working and daddy would be telling some
white person how they 'bused the slaves, and sometimes he would be
tellin' some colored person 'bout slavery.

"They sold him from his mother. They sold his mother and two children
and kept him. He went into the house crying and old mis' gave him some
biscuits and butter. You see, they didn't give them biscuits then. That
was the same as givin' him candy. She said, 'Old mis' goin' to give you
some good biscuits and some butter.' He never did hear from his mother
until after freedom. Some thought about him and wrote him a letter for
her. There was a man here who was from North Carolina and my husband got
to talking with him and he was going back and he knew my husband's
mother and his brother and he said he would write to my husband if my
husband would write him a letter and give it to him to give to his
mother. He did it and his mother sent him an answer. He would have gone
to see her but he didn't have money enough then. The bank broke and he
lost what little he had saved. He corresponded with her till he died.
But he never did get to see her any more.

"Nothin' slips up on me. I have a guide. I am warned of everything.
Nothin' happens to me that I don't know it before. Follow your first
mind. Conscience it is. It's a great thing to have a conscience.

"I was born in Tennessee. I have been in Arkansas about forty-six years.
I used to cook but I didn't do it long. I never have worked out much
only just my work in the house. My husband has been dead four years this
last April. He was a good man. We were married forty years the eleventh
of December and he died on the eighth of April."

  MAY 11 1938
  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Phillis Hicks
                      Edmondson, Arkansas
  Age: 71

"My mother's owner was Master Priest Gates. He had a son in Memphis. I
seen him not long ago. He is an insurance agent. They was rosy rich
looking folks. Mama was a yellow woman. She had fourteen living
children. Her name was Harriett Gates. Papa named Shade Huggins. They
belong to different folks. They was announced married before the War and
they didn't have to remarry.

"She said the overseers was cruel to them. They had white men overseers.
She was a field hand. I heard her say she was so tired when she come to
the house she would take her baby in her arms to nurse and go to sleep
on the steps or under a tree and never woke till they would be going to
the field. She would get up and go on back. They et breakfast in the
field many and many a time. Old people cooked and took care of the
children. She never was sold. I don't know if my father was. They come
from Alabama to Mississippi and my mother had been brought from Georgia
to Alabama.

"She picked geese till her fingers would bleed to make feather beds for
old master I reckon. They picked geese jus' so often. The Gates had
several big quarters and lots of land. They come to be poor people after
the War--land poor. Mother left Gates after the War. They didn't get
nothing but good freedom as I ever heard of. My father was a shoemaker
at old age. He said he learned his trade in slavery times. He share
cropped and rented after freedom.

"I heard 'em say the Ku Klux kept 'em run in home at night. So much
stealing going on and it would be laid at the hands of the colored folks
if they didn't stay in place. Ku Klux made them work, said they would
starve and starve white folks too if they didn't work. They was share
cropping then, yes ma'am, all of them. I know that they said they had no
stock, no land, no rations, no houses to live in, their clothes was
thin. They said it was squally times in slavery and worse after freedom.
They wore the new clothes in winter. By summer they was wore thin and by
next winter they had made some more cloth to make more new clothes. They
wove one winter for the next winter. When they got to share croppin'
they had to keep a fire in the fireplace all night to warm by. The
clothes and beds was rags. Corn bread and meat was all they had to eat.
Maybe they had pumpkins, corn, and potatoes. They said it was squally

"I got a place. I rented it out to save it. My brother rents it. I can't
hardly pay taxes. I'd like to get some help. I could sew if they would
let me on. I can see good. I'm going to chop cotton but it so long till

"I washed and ironed in Memphis till washing went out of style. Prices
are so high now and cotton cheap. I'm counting on better times.

"Times is close. Young folks is like young folks always been. Some are
smart and some lazy. None don't look ahead. They don't think about
saving. Guess they don't know how to save. Right smart spends it
foolish. I'm a widow and done worked down."


  Interviewer: Pernella Anderson
  [HW: Hicks, Will]

"I was born in Farmerville, La., I don't know what year. I was about
three or four years at surrender. I lived with my mother and father. The
first work I ever did was plow. I did not work very hard at no time but
what ever there was to do I went on and got through with it. All of our
work was muscle work. There were no cultivators.

"I stayed at home with my father and mother until I was 32 years of age.
I was thirty years old when papa died and mother lived two years longer.
About a month after mother died I married. We lived in a real good
house. My father bought it after slavery time. We had good furniture
that was bought from the hardware. The first stove that we used we
bought it and father bought it just after surrender. Never used a
homemade broom in my life. Now, Ma just naturally liked ash cakes so she
always cooked them in the fireplace. We wore all homespun clothes, and
we wore the big bill baily hats. We chaps went barefooted until I was 16
years old then I bought my first pair of shoes. They were brass toe
progans. I never been in the school house a day in my life. Can't read
neither write nor figure. I went to church. Our first preacher was name
Prince Jones. The biggest games I played was ball and card. I was one of
the best dancers. We danced the old juland dance, swing your partner,
promonate. Danced by fiddling. The fiddlers could beat the fiddlers of
today. Get your partners, swing them to the left and to the right, hands
up four, swing corners, right hands up four promonate all around all the
way, git your partners boys. I shoot dice, drink, I got drunk and broke
up church one Sunday night. Me and sister broke up a dinner once because
we got drunk. Whiskey been in circulation a long time. There have been
bad people ever since I been in the world."

--Will Hicks.

  Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
  Person interviewed: Bert Higgins
                      611 Missouri Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  Age: 88

"I was born in slavery times. I was thirteen when peace declared. I was
workin' in the field.

"No ma'am, I wasn't born in Arkansas. I was born in Macon, Mississippi.

"Marcus Higgins was my old master. He was good to me. He treated me all

"He had a good big plantation--had two plantations. One in North
Carolina and one in Mississippi.

"Sold? Yes'm, I was put up on the block, but they couldn't quite make
it. Had six of us--boys and girls--and he sold one or two I 'member. But
that's been a long time.

"Yes'm, I can 'member when I was a boy in slavery. Run off too. Old
master ketch me and switch me. Look like the switch would sting so.
'Member the last switchin' I got. Dr. Henderson--I think he was old
master's son-in-law. Me? Well, he whipped me 'cause I'd steal his eggs.
I don't reckon I would a been so bad but I was raised up a motherless
child. My mother died and my stepmother died.

"I can 'member pretty well way back there.

"He'd send me off on a mule to carry the mail to his people around. And
I used to tote water. He had a heap a darkies.

"I could do very well now if I could see and if I wasn't so crippled up.
I was a hard worker.

"We had a plenty to eat and plenty to wear in slavery times.

"Old master would whip me if I went any further than the orchard. If I
did happen to go outside the field, I come in 'fore night. But I hardly
ever went outside. Sometimes I run off and when I come back to the
house, he'd give me a breshin'.

"I seen the Yankees durin' of the War. I run from 'em and hid. I thought
they was tryin' to carry me off. White folks never did tell me nothin'.
They'd come in and throw things outdoors and destroy 'em--old master's
provisions. And they'd take things to eat too.

"My father belonged to Marcus Higgins when I first could remember.

"After freedom we stayed there till I was grown. I don't never 'member
him payin' me, but I got somethin' to eat and a place to stay.

"I never went to school; I had to work. I farmed all my life till I come
to the city of Pine Bluff. I worked here 'bout thirty years.

"I've always been well treated by my white folks. I never sassed a white
person in my life as I remember of--never did. I think that's the reason
I was so well took care of 'cause I never sassed 'em. I've always tried
to do what was right.

"I think these here government people have treated us mighty well. They
have give us money and other things.

"When we got free old master read it to us out of the paper. We was out
in the field and I was totin' water. Some of 'em struck work and went to
the house and set around a while but they soon went back to the field.
And a few days after that he hired 'em.

"Old master was good. He'd let you stop and rest. He hired a overseer
but he didn't do no work. The time run out 'fore he got started.

"I think this younger generation is havin' a heap harder time than the
old folks did. Their disbehavior and the way they carry theirselves
now'days. So many of 'em will pick up things don't belong to 'em.

"I don't believe in these here superstitions. I tried carryin' a rabbit
foot and I know it never brought me no good luck. If you serve the Lord
and try to live right, pray and serve the Lord, and whatever you need
you'll get it."

  _Circumstances of Interview_

  NAME OF WORKER--Samuel S. Taylor
  ADDRESS--Little Rock, Arkansas
  DATE--December, 1938

1. Name and address of informant--Annie Hill, 3010 Izard Street, Little

2. Date and time of interview--

3. Place of interview--3010 Izard Street, Little Rock.

4. Name and address of person, if any, who put you in touch with

5. Name and address of person, if any, accompanying you--

6. Description of room, house, surroundings, etc.--

  _Personal History of Informant_

  NAME OF WORKER--Samuel S. Taylor
  ADDRESS--Little Rock, Arkansas
  DATE--December, 1938
  NAME AND ADDRESS OF INFORMANT--Annie Hill, 3010 Izard Street,
                                 Little Rock.

1. Ancestry--father, Richard Hill; mother Hulda Bruce.

2. Place and date of birth--Nashville, Arkansas in 1877.

3. Family--

4. Places lived in, with dates--Nashville, Benton and Little Rock. No

5. Education, with dates--

6. Occupations and accomplishments, with dates--Laundry work.

7. Special skills and interests--

8. Community and religious activities--

9. Description of informant--

10. Other points gained in interview--

  _Text of Interview (Unedited)_

  NAME OF WORKER--Samuel S. Taylor
  ADDRESS--Little Rock, Arkansas
  DATE--December, 1938
  NAME AND ADDRESS OF INFORMANT--Annie Hill, 3010 Izard Street, Little Rock

"My mother lived to be one hundred years old. She died in 1920. Her name
is Hulda Bruce. She belonged to a man named Leslie during slavery. I
forget his name--his first name. She come from Mississippi. She was sold
there when she was eleven years old. That is where all her people were.
There might be some of them here and I don't know it. She said she had
three sisters but I don't know any of them. The folks raised her--the
Leslie white folks. It was the Leslies that brought her and bought her
in the old country. I don't know the names of the people that sold her.
She wasn't nothing but a kid. I guess she would hardly know.

"The Leslies brought her to Arkansas when she was eleven. That is what
she always told us kids. She was eleven years old when they sold her.
Just like selling mules.

"I don't know what is the first place they come to here. Benton,
Arkansas was the first place I knowed anything about. That is where her
folks were and that is where the young generation of them is now. The
old ones is dead and gone.

"I was born in Nashville. And she had come from Benton to Nashville. She
was living In Benton, Arkansas when she died. She was never able to
send me to school when I was young. When the white folks first turned
them loose they weren't able to do for them as they are now. Children
have a chance now and don't appreciate it. But when I was coming up my
folks weren't able. Mother knew she was one hundred eight years old
because her white folks told her what it was. When her old white folks
died, the young ones hunted it up for her out of the old family Bible
and sent it to me. The Bible was so old that the leaves were yellow and
you could hardly turn them. They were living in Benton, Arkansas and I
guess they are still living there because that is the old home place.
That is the kids is still there, 'cause the old folks is dead and gone.
One girl is named Cora and one of the boys is called Bud, Buddy. Leslie
is the last name of them both.

"I got one of her pictures with her young master's kids--three of
'em--in there with her. Anybody that bothered that picture would git in
it with me, 'cause I values it.

"Mother farmed right after the surrender. She married after freedom but
went back to her old name when her husband left. He was named Richard
Hill. He was supposed to be a bishop down there in Arkadelphia. But he
wasn't no bishop with mama. All them Hills in Arkadelphia are kin to me.
She had four children--one boy and three girls. The boy died before I
was born. She was just married the one time that I know about.

"Her white folks were good to her. You know there was so many of them
that weren't. And you know they bound to be because they were always
good to her. They would be looking for her and sending her something to
eat and sending her shoes and clothes and things like that, and she'd go
to them and stay with them months at a time so they bound to 've been
good to her. All the young kids always called her their Black Mammy.
They thought a heap of her. That is since freedom. Since I been born.
That is somethin' I seen with my own eyes.

"I spect my mother's white folks is mad at me. They come to see her just
before she died and they knew she couldn't live long. They told me to
let them know when there was a chance.

"That was about three days before she died. There come a storm. It broke
down the wire so we couldn't let them know. My boy was too small; I
couldn't send him. He was only nine years old. And you know how it is
out in the country, you can't keep them long. You have to put them away.
You can't keep no dead person in the country. So I had to bury her
without letting 'em know it.

"I do laundry work for a living when I can get any to do. I am living
with my boy but I do laundry work to help myself. It is so good, and
nice to kinda help yourself. I'll do for self as long as I am able and
when I can't, the children can help me more. I have heard and seen so
many mothers whose children would do things for them and it wouldn't
suit so well up the road. You see me hopping along; I'm trying to work
for Annie.

"My mother told me about seein' the pateroles before the War and the Ku
Klux Klan afterwards. She knowed them all right. She never talked much
about the pateroles. It was mostly the Ku Klux. Neither of them never
got after her. She said the Ku Klux used to come in by droves. She said
the Ku Klux were dressed all in white--white caps and white hoods over
their faces, and long white dresses. They come out mostly at night. They
never did bother her, but they bothered others 'round her that she
knowed about. Sometimes they would take people out and beat them and do
'round with them. But she never did know just what it was they did and
just what they did it for. You see, her white folks was particular and
didn't talk much before her. So many colored folks learnt things
because they eavesdropped their white folks, but mother didn't do that.
She didn't learn nothin' but what they talked before her, and they were
careful. But they protected her. They never did allow nobody to bother
her no way.

"She was a Baptist. She belonged to the white folks' church before she
was freed. Then she joined the Methodist church at Benton because there
wasn't no other church there. But she was a full-blood Baptist."

  Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
  Person interviewed: Clark Hill
                      715 E. 17th Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  Age: 82

"Good morning. My name is Clark Hill. My name goes by my white folks. I
was born in Georgia--in Americus, Georgia. My old master was Will G.
Hill and they called my young master Bud. I never did know what his name
was--they just called him Bud.

"It was my job to sweep the yard, keep smoke on the meat and fire under
the kiln. Yes mam! Old master had a big orchard and he dried all the
fruit in the kiln--peaches, apples, and pears. Then he had lots a
watermelons too. When they got ripe they'd get all the childun big
enough to tote a melon and we'd carry 'em to the house. I would like to
be with my white folks now.

"Old master raised pigeons too and it used to be my job to go down to
the pigeon house and ketch the squalls (squabs).

"I used to go to church with my white folks too. I was the gate opener.
They put me on the little seat at the back of the carriage. When we got
there they'd let us childun sit in the back. The preacher would tell us
to obey our master and not take anything that belonged to him.

"Oh, my white folks was good to me. He never hit me but once and that
was one time when my brother went into the kitchen, went into some peas
the cook had and she told on him. Old master come down and told my
brother to eat the whole dish full. He never hit him or nothin' but just
stood there and made him eat 'em. I thought I'd help him out a little
and said to my brother, 'Give me some.' Old master just took his walking
stick and hit me over the head, and that's the onliest time he ever hit

"When you got big enough to marry and was courtin' a woman on another
plantation, you couldn't bring her home with you. Old master would marry
you. He'd say 'I give this man to you' and say 'Clark, I give this woman
to you and now you is man and wife.' They never had no book of
matrimony--if they did I never seen it. Then you could go over to see
her every Saturday and stay all night.

"I used to work in the field. They didn't farm then like they do now.
They planted one row a cotton and one row a corn. That was to keep the
land from gettin' poor.

"I remember when the Yankees was comin' through I got scared because
some of the folks said they had horns. I know old master took all his
meat and carried it to another plantation.

"When freedom come old master give us all our ages. I think when they
say we was free that meant every man was to be his own boss and not be
bossed by a taskmaster. Cose old master was good to us but we wanted to
have our own way 'bout a heap a things.

"I come to Arkansas the second year of surrender. Yes'm, I voted when
Clayton was sheriff and I voted for Governor Baxter. I voted several
tickets. I was here when they had the Brooks-Baxter War. They fit not
far from where I was livin'.

"Well, that's 'bout all I can remember. My mind ain't so good now and I
got the rheumatism in my legs."

  Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
  Person interviewed: Clark Hill
                      818 E. Fifteenth Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  Age: 84

"I was workin' 'round the house when freedom come. I was eleven.

"Born in Georgia--Americus, Georgia. Used to go with my young master to
Corinth after the mail. We'd ride horseback with me right behind him. He
used to carry me to church too on the back seat to open the gates.

"They worked me in the loom room too. Had to hold the broche at the
reel. I was glad when my young master called me out to go after the
mail. Then they worked me in the smokehouse.

"I never had no schoolin' a tall. What little I know I learned since I
married. My wife was a good scholar.

"I thank the Lord he spared me. Eighty-four is pretty old.

"I come here to Pine Bluff in '66. Wasn't no town here then. Just some
little shacks on Barraque. And Third Street was called Catfish Street.

"They was fifty carloads come here to Arkansas when I come.

"I've farmed mostly. Then I've cooked four or five years in railroad
camps, when they was puttin' in this Cotton Belt track. Then I've cooked
on a steamboat.

"Yes ma'am, I've voted. I voted teeth and toe-nail for one man, and he
got it and then they shot him down. He was about to get on to the fraud.
He was 'testin' the election. That was John M. Clayton. They can do most
anything in these here elections. I know 'cause I done been in so many


  Name of interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
  Subject: Humorous Story
  Story--Information (If not enough space on this page, add page)

"I heard a story 'bout a old colored man named Tony. It was in slave
times and he was prayin' to the Lord to take him out of bondage. He was
prayin', 'Oh Lord, come and take poor old Tony away.' Just then somebody
started knockin' and Tony says, 'Who'd dat?' 'It's the Lord, I come to
take you away.' Then Tony said, 'No! No! Don't take me away. I ain't
ready to go.'"

  This information given by: Clark Hill (C)
  Place of residence: 818 E. Fifteenth Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  Occupation: None
  Age: 84


  Name of interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
  Subject: Superstitions
  Story--Information (If not enough space on this page, add page)

"I've heard if a turkle dove, when the season first starts, comes to
your house and starts moanin', it's a sign you is goin' to move out and
somebody else goin' move in.

"If a squinch owl starts howlin' 'round your house and if you turn your
shoe upside down at the door, they sure will hush. Now I know that's so.

"I used to run myself nearly to death tryin' to get to the end of the
rainbow to get the pot of gold.

"And I've heard the old folks say if you start any place and have to go
back, you make a circle on the ground and spit in it or you'll have bad

  This information given by: Clark Hill (C)
  Place of residence: 818 E. Fifteenth Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  Occupation: None
  Age: 84

  Interviewer: Bernice Bowden
  Person interviewed: Elmira Hill
                      1220 North Willow
                      Pine Bluff, Ark.
  Age: 97

"I'm one of em. Accordin' to what they tell me, I think I'll be
ninety-eight the ninth day of February. I was born in Virginia in
Kinsale County and sold from my mother and father to Arkansas.

"The Lord would have it, old man Ed Lindsey come to Virginia and brought
me here to Arkansas. I was here four years before the Old War ceasted
and I was twelve when I come here.

"I was right there standin' behind my mistis' chair when Abe Lincoln
said, 'I 'clare there shall be war!' I was right here in
Arkansas--eighteen miles from Pine Bluff when war ceasted. The Lord
would have it. I had a good master and mistis. Old master said, 'Fore
old Lincoln shall free my niggers, I'll free em myself.' They might as
well a been free, they had a garden and if they raised cotton in that
garden they could sell it. The Lord bless His Holy Name! We didn't know
the difference when we got free. I stayed with my mistis till she went
back to Virginia.

"Yes, honey, I was here in all the war. I was standin' right by my
mistis' chair. I never heard old master make a oaf in his life, but when
they brought the paper freein' the slaves, he said, 'Dad burn it.'

"I member a man called Jeff Davis. I know they sung and said, 'We'll
hand old Jeff Davis to the sour apple tree.'

"I been here a long time. Yes, honey, I been in Arkansas so long I say I
ain't goin' out--they got to bury me here. Arkansas dirt good enough for
me. I say I been here so long I got Arkansas 'stemper (distemper).

"My old master in Virginia was Joe Hudson. My father used to ketch
oysters and fish. We could look up the Patomac river and see the ships
comin' in. In Virginia I lived next to a free state and the runaways was
tryin' to get away. At Harper's Ferry--that's where old John Brown was
carryin' em across. My old mistis used to take the runaway folks when
the dogs had bit their legs, and keep em for a week and cure em up. This
time o' year you could hear the bull whip. But I was lucky, they was
good to me in Virginia and good to me in Arkansas.

"Yes, chile, I was in Alexandria, Virginia in Kinsale County when they
come after me by night. I was hired out to Captain Jim Allen. I had been
nursin' for Captain Allen. He sailed on the sea. He was a good man. He
was a Christian man. He never whipped me but once and that was for
tellin' a story, and I thank him for it. He landed his boat right at the
landin' on Saturday. Next day he asked me bout somethin' and I told him
a story. He said, 'I'm gwine whip you Monday morning!' He wouldn't whip
me on Sunday. He whipped me and I thank him for it. And to this day the
Lindsey's could trust me with anything they had.

"I was in Virginia a play-chile when the ships come down to get the
gopher wood to build the war ships. Old mistis had a son and a daughter
and we all played together and slep together. My white folks learned me
my A B C's.

"They come and got me and carried me to Richmond--that's where they sold
em. Sold five of us in one bunch. Sold my two brothers in New
Orleans--Robert and Jesse. Never seed them no more. Never seed my mother
again after I was sold.

"Yes, chile, I was here in Arkansas when the war started, so you know I
been here a long time.

"I was here when they fit the last battle in Pine Bluff. They called it
Marmaduke's Battle and they fit it on Sunday morning. They took the old
cotehouse for a battery and throwed up cotton bales for a breastworks.
They fit that Sunday and when the Yankees started firin' the Rebels went
back to Texas or wherever they come from.

"When we heard the Yankees was comin' we went out at night and hid the
silver spoons and silver in the toilet and buried the meat. After the
war was over and the Yankees had gone home and the jayhawkers had went
in--then we got the silver and the meat. Yes, honey, we seed a time--we
seed a time. I ain't grumblin'--I tell em I'm havin' a wusser time now
than I ever had.

"Yankees used to call me a 'know nothin' cause I wouldn't tell where
things was hid.

"Yes, chile, I'm this way--I like everbody in this world. I never was a
mother, but I raised everbody else's chillun. I ain't nothin' but a old
mammy. White and black calls me mamma. I'll answer at the name.

"I was married twice. My last husband and me lived together fifty years.
He was a preacher. My first husband, the old rascal--he was so mean to
me I had to get rid of him.

"Yes, I been here so long. I think the younger generation is goin' the
downward way. They ain't studyin' nothin' but wickedness. Yes, honey,
they tell me the future generation is goin' a do this and goin' a do
that, and they ain't done nothin'. And God don't like it.

"My white folks comes to see me and say as long as they got bread, I got

"I went to school the second year after surrender. I can read but I
ain't got no glasses now. I want you to see this letter my mother sent
me in 1867. My baby sister writ it. Yes, honey, I keeps it for

"Don't know nothin' funny that happened 'ceptin stealin' my old master's
company's hoss and runnin' a race. White chillun too. Them as couldn't
ride sideways ridin' straddle. Better _not_ ride Rob Roy--that was old
master's ridin' hoss and my mistis saddle hoss. That was the hoss he was
talkin' bout ridin' to the war when the last battle was fit in Helena.
But he was too old to go to war.

"Well, goodbye, honey--if I don't see you no more, come across the

  Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
  Person interviewed: Gillie Hill
                      813 Arch Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
  Age: About 45

"My grandmother told me that they had to chink up the cracks so that the
light wouldn't get out and do their washing and ironing at night. When
they would hear the overseers or the paterolers coming 'round (I don't
know which it was), they would put the light out and keep still till
they had passed on. Then they would go right on with the washing and

"They would have to wash and iron at night because they were working all

"She told me how they used to turn pots down at night so that they could
pray. They had big pots then--big enough for you to get into yourself.
I've seen some of them big old pots and got under 'em myself. You could
get under one and pray if you wanted to. You wouldn't have to prop them
up to send your voice in 'em from the outside. The thing that the handle
hooks into makes them tilt up on one side so that you could get down on
your hands and knees and pray with your mouth close to the opening if
you wanted to. Anyway, my grandma said they would turn the pots upside
down and stick their heads under them to pray.

"My father could make you cry talking about the way they treated folks
in slavery times. He said his old master was so mean that he made him
eat off the ground with the dogs. He never felt satisfied unless'n he
saw a nigger sufferin'."

Interviewer's Comment

Gillie Hill is the daughter of Evelyn Jones already interviewed and
reported. The few statements which she hands in make an interesting
supplement to her mother's story. The mother, Evelyn Jones, remembered
very few things in her interview and had to be constantly prompted and
helped by her daughter and son who were present at each sitting. There
was considerable difference of opinion among them over a number of
things, especially the age of the mother, the daughter showing letters
to prove the age of seventy, the mother saying she had been told she was
sixty-eight, and the son arguing that the scattering of the ages of her
nineteen children showed that she must be well over eighty.

Gillie Hill claims to be somewhat clairvoyant. She gave a brief analysis
of my character, stating accurately my regular calling and a few of my
personal traits even indicating roughly my bringing-up and where. She is
not a professional fortune-teller, and merely ventured a few statements.
My impression was that she was an unusually close and alert observer.
Like her mother she is somewhat taciturn. I should have said that her
mother was reserved as well as forgetful. The mother never ventured a
word except in answer to a question, and used monosyllabic answers
whenever possible.

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person Interviewed: Harriett Hill
                      Forrest City, Ark.
                      (Visiting at Brinkley, Ark.)
  Age: 84

"I was born in Lithonia, Georgia, at the foot of Little Rock Mountain,
close to Stone Mountain, Georgia. I been sold in my life twice to my
knowing. I was sold away from my dear old mammy at three years old but I
can remember it. I remembers it. It lack selling a calf from the cow.
Exactly, but we are human beings and ought to be better than do sich. I
was too little to remember my price. I was sold to be a nurse maid. They
bought me and took me on away that time. The next time they put me up in
a wagon and auctioned me off. That time I didn't sell. John George
(white man) was in the war; he wanted some money to hire a substitute to
take his place fightin'. So he have Jim George do the sellin'. They was
brothers. They talked 'fore me some bit 'fore they took me off. They
wouldn't take me to Atlanta cause they said some of the people there
said they wouldn't give much price--the Negroes soon be set free. Some
folks in Atlanta was Yankees and wouldn't buy slaves. They 'cluded the
best market to sell me off would be ten or twelve miles from home. I
reckon it was to Augusta, Georgia. They couldn't sell me and start on
back home. A man come up to our wagon and say he'd split the difference.
They made the trade. I sold on that spot for $1400. I was nine or ten
years old. I remembers it. Course I do! I never could forget it. Now
mind you, that was durin' the war.

"Master Jake Chup owned mammy and me too. He sold me to John George. Jim
George sold me to Sam Broadnax. When freedom come on that was my home.
Freedom come in the spring. He got some of the slaves to stay to finish
up the crops for 1/10 at Christmas. When they got through dividin' up
they said they goin' to keep me for a bounty. I been talkin' to
Kitty--all I remembers her name Kitty. She been down there at the stream
washin'. Some children come told me Kitty say come on. She hung out the
clothes. I lit out over the fence and through the field with Kitty and
went to Conniars. She left me at the railroad track and went on down the
road by myself to Lithonia. I walked all night. I met my brother not
long after Kitty left me. He was on a wagon. He knowed me and took me up
with him to Mr. Jake Chup's Jr. He was the young man. Then Chups fed me
till he come back and took me to mammy. Master Chups sold her to Dr.
Reygans. I hadn't seen her since I was three years old. She knowed me.
My brother knowed me soon as ever he saw me. I might a not knowed them
in a gatherin' but I hadn't forgot them. They hear back and forth where
I be but they never could get to see me. I lived with my folks till I

"The first man I lived with ten years. The next one I lived with fifty
years and some days over. He died. They both died. The man I married was
a preacher. We farmed long with his preachin'. We paid $500.00 for forty
acres of this bottom land. Cleared it out. I broke myself plum down and
it got mortgaged. The Planters Bank at Forrest City took it over. I
ain't had nothin' since. I ain't got no home. I ain't had nothin' since
then. My husband died two years ago and I has a hard time.

"My folks was livin' in Decatur, Georgia when the Ku Klux was ragin'. We
sure was scared of em. Mighty nigh to death. When freedom come on the
niggers had to start up their churches. They had nigger preachers.
Sometimes a white preacher would come talk to us. When the niggers be
havin' preachin' here come the Ku Klux and run em clear out. If they
hear least thing nigger preacher say they whoop him. They whooped
several. They sure had to be mighty particular what they said in the
preachin'. They made some of the nigger preachers dance. There wasn't no
use of that and they knowed it. They must of had plenty fun. They rode
the country every night for I don't know how long and that all niggers
talked bout.

"My mammy had eleven children. I had one boy. He died a baby.

"My pa come and brought his family in 1873. He come with a gang. They
didn't allow white men to take em off so a white man come and stay round
shy and get nigger man to work up a gang. We all come on a train to
Memphis, then we got on a big boat. No, ma'am, we didn't come on no
freight train. We got off at White Hall Landing. They got off all long
the river. We worked on wages out here. Pa wanted to go to Mississippi.
We went and made eighteen bales cotton and got cheated out of all we
made. We never got a cent. The man cheated us was Mr. Harris close to
Trotter's Landing.

"Mr. Anderson, the poor white man we worked for, jumped in the river and
drowned his self. The turns (returns) didn't come in for the first batch
we sold at all, then when the turns come they said we done took it
up--owed it all. We knowed we hadn't took it up but couldn't get
nothin'. We come back to Arkansas.

"I been to Detroit, short time, and been way, but I comes back.

"I forgot to say this: My mammy was born in South Carolina. Marbuts
owned her and sold her. My pa lived to be 114 or 115 years old. He died
in Arkansas. She did too.

"Of course I don't vote! Women ain't got no business runnin' the

"I nursed, worked in the field. When I was a slave they raised a little
cotton in Georgia but mostly corn. I chopped cotton and thinned out

"The present times is too fast. Somethin' goin' to happen. The present
generation too fast. Folks racin'. Ridin' in cars too fast. They ain't
kind no more.

"I rent a house where I can and I get $10.00 from the government. That
all the support I got. I farmed in the field mighty hard and lost all we

  MAY 11 1938
  Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
  Person interviewed: Hattie Hill
                      Route 2, Main Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  Age: 85

"Yes ma'am, I was raised a house gal. Me and another cousin and I was
borned in Georgia. My old master's name was Edward Maddox. Yes ma'am.

"I had a good master but I didn't have such a good missis. Her name was
Fannie Maddox. We belonged to the old man and he was good to his
niggers. He didn't 'low 'em to be cut and slashed about. But when he was
gone that's when old mis' would beat on us.

"I've seen a many a one of the soldiers. They used to march by our

"I can remember one of my old missis' neighbors. Her name was Miss
Phipps. Old mis' would send me there to borry meal. Yes ma'am, I'd go
and come. She'd always send me. I met the soldiers a many a time. I'd
hide behind a tree and as they'd go by I'd go 'round the tree--I was so

"But thank the Lawd, we is free now.

"I heered old master pray a many a prayer that he would live to see his
slaves sot free. And he died the same year they was sot free. He sent
for all his hands to come and see him 'fore he died. Even the little
chillun. I can remember it jus' as well as if 'twas yesterday. Old mis'
died 'fore he did.

"Our folks stayed on the place two years. Old master told 'em he wanted
'em to take care of themselves and said, 'I want you to get you a place
of your own.' He said, 'I raised you honest and I want you to stay on
the place as long as you live or as long as the boys treat you right.'

"I seed the patrollers all right. I 'member that old song 'Run Nigger
Run' and a heap of 'em run too.

"Them Ku Klux was hateful too, but they never bothered my father's
house. They beat one man--Steve McLaughlin--till he couldn't get back to
the house. They beat him from the soles of his feet to the top of his

"We had a plenty to eat in slave times. They fed us good. I never did
work in the field--I was raised up a house gal.

"After freedom my father had me in the field.

"I used to cut and split a many a hundred rails in a day and didn't mind
it neither.

"I used to like to work--would work now if I was able. And I'd rather
work in the field any day as work in the house. The people where I lived
can tell you how I worked. I didn't make my living by rascality. I
worked like my father raised me. Oh, I haven't forgot how my old father
raised me.

"Never went to school but one day in my life. I can't read.

"I didn't come to Arkansas till after I was free. I been livin' here so
long I can't tell you how many years.

"I married young and I'm the mother of six chillun.

"I think a heap of the colored folks is better off free, but a heap of
'em don't appreciate their freedom.

"Heap of the younger generation is all right and then they's a heap of
'em all wrong.

"I can't remember nothin' else 'cause I was too young then and I'm too
old now."

  OCT 18 19--
  Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
  Person interviewed: Oliver Hill
                      1101 Kentucky Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  Age: 94

Oliver Hill is ninety-four years old, erect, walks briskly with the aid
of a cane, only slightly hard of hearing and toothless.

He was born and lived in the state of Mississippi on the plantation of
Alan Brooks where he said his father was an overseer and not a slave.
Said his mother was a full-blooded Indian. (I have never talked to a
Negro who did not claim to be part Indian.) He cannot read or write and
made rather conflicting statements about the reason why. "White folks
wouldn't let us learn." Later on in the conversation he said he went to
school about one month when his "eyes got sore and they said he didn't
have to go no more."

"I was nineteen years old when de wa' begun. De white folks never tole
us nothin' 'bout what it was fo' till after de surrender. Dey tole us
then we was free. They didn't give us nothin'."

After the surrender most of the slaves left the plantations and were
supported by the Bureau. In the case of Oliver Hill, this lasted five
months and then he went back to his former master who gave him one-fifth
of what he made working in the field. Alan Brooks grieved for the loss
of his slaves but at no time were they under any compulsion to remain
slaves. After a long time about half of them came back to work for pay.

The Ku Klux Klan was "de devil", but about all they wanted, according to
Oliver, was to "make a Democrat" of the ex-slaves. They were allowed to
vote without any trouble, but "de Democrats robbed de vote. Yes'm I
knowed they did."

Concerning the present restricted suffrage, he thinks the colored people
should be allowed to vote. In general, his attitude toward the white
people is one of resentment. Frequent comments were:

"Dey won't let de colored people bury in de same cemetery with de white

"Dey don't like it if a colored man speak to a white woman."

"Dey kill a colored man and de law don't do nothin' 'bout it."

"Old Man Brooks" when referring to his former master.

He lived with the Brooks family for five years after freedom, and seems
to have been rather a favored one with not much to do but "ride around"
and going to dances and parties at night. When Alan Brooks died he left
Oliver $600 in cash, a cow and calf, horse, saddle and bridle and two
hogs. He went to live with his father taking his wife whom he had
married at the age of twenty-one.

As soon as the inheritance was gone, the scene changed. In his words, "I
thought it gwine last forever." But it didn't and then he began to hold
a succession of jobs--field hand, sorghum maker, basket weaver, gardener
and railway laborer--until he was too old to work. Now he is supported
by the Welfare Department and the help a daughter and granddaughter can

About the younger generation--"I don't know what gwine come of 'em. The
whites is as bad as the blacks." He thinks that present conditions are
caused by the sinfulness of the people.

There were no slave uprisings but sometimes when they did not work fast
enough or do the task right, they were "whupped" by the overseer and
given no food until it was done right.

Oliver came to Arkansas in 1910. He has had two wives and "de Lawd took
both of 'em." His second wife was "'ligious" and they "got along fine."
All in all he had a good time during his active days "and didn't have no
trouble with de white folks". He does not believe God ever intended some
of the people to be slaves.

  MAY 31 1938
  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Rebecca Brown Hill
                      Brinkley, Arkansas
  Age: 78

"I was born October 18, 1859 in northeast Mississippi in Chickasaw
County. It was close to the Fulton Road to Houston, Mississippi. My
folks belong to C. B. Baldwin. After 'mancipation papa stop calling
himself Jacob Baldwin and called himself Jacob Brown in his own pa's
name. Mama was named Catherine Brown. The same man owned them both. They
had twelve children. They lost a child born in 1866. I had two brothers
sent to Louisiana as refugees. The place they was sent to was taken by
the Yankees and they was taken and the Yankees made soldiers out of
them. Charlie died in 1922 in Mobile, Alabama and Lewis after the War
joined the United States army. I never saw any grandparents. Mama was
born in Baltimore and her mother was born there too as I understood them
to say. Mama's father was a white Choctaw Indian. He was a cooper by
trade. His name was John Abbot. He sold Harriett, my grandma, and kept
mama and her brother. Then he married a white woman and had a white
family. Her brother died. That left her alone to wait on that white
family. They cut her hair off. She hated that. She loved her long
straight black hair. Then her papa, John Abbot (Abbott?), died. Her
brother run off and was leaving on a ship on the Potomac River. A woman
lost her trunk. They was fishing for it and found mama's brother
drowned. He had fell overboard too.

"Mama took a bucket on her arm to keep the stealers from gagging her.
She knowed if she had a bucket or basket they would not bother, they
would know she went out on turn (errand) and would be protected. They
didn't bother her then. She went down to the nigger trader's yard to
talk awhile but she was making her way off then. Sometimes she went down
to the yard to laugh and talk with some she knowed down there. She said
them stealers would kill 'em and insect (dissect) 'em. But they didn't
get her. But might as well, Jim Williams owned that nigger yard. He put
her on a sailboat named Big Humphries. She was on there hard sailing,
she said, twenty-four days and nights. Jim Williams stole her! On that
sailboat is where she seen my papa. When they got to New Orleans a white
man from Baltimore was passing. He seen my mama. He ask her about her
papers. She told him she had been stole. He said without papers Jim
Williams couldn't sell her. He told Jim Williams he better not sell that
woman. Jim Williams knowed she was crazy about my papa. He hired him out
and ask her if she wanted to go with him. He got pay for both of them
hired out. It was better for him than if he owned her. When they had two
children, Jim Williams come back out to Chambers County, Alabama where
he had them hired out. He ask her if he would agree to let him sell her.
He was going to sell papa and the two children. She said she had seen
them whooped to death in the yards because they didn't want to be sold.
She was scared to contrary him. She had nobody to take her part. So she
let him sell her with papa and the two children. Jim Williams sold her
and papa and the two children to Billy Gates of Mississippi. Jim
Williams said, 'Don't never separate Henry and Hannah 'cause I don't
have the papers for Hannah.' Then they lived in the prairies eighteen
miles from Houston, where Billy Gates lived. Mama done well. She worked
and they treated her nice. Eight of us was born on that place includin'

"I was raised up in good living conditions and kept myself so till
twelve years ago this next August this creeping neuritis (paralasis)
come on. I raised my niece. I cooked, washed and ironed, and went to the
field in field time.

"Master Billy Gates' daughter married Cyrus Brisco Baldwin. He was a
lawyer. He give mama, papa and one child to them. Master Billy Gates'
daughter died and left Miss Bessie. Mr. C. B. Baldwin married again. He
went to war in the 'Six Day Crowd.' Miss Bessie Baldwin married Bill
Buchannan at Okolona, Mississippi. Mama went and cooked for her. They
belong to her. She was good as she could be to her and papa both. One
time the overseer was going to whip them both. Miss Bessie said, 'Tell
Mr. Carrydine to come and let us talk it over.' They did and she said,
'Give Mr. Carrydine his breakfast and let him go.' They never got no

"Mama was white as any white woman and papa was my color (light
mulatto). After freedom they lived as long as they lived at Houston and
Okolona, Mississippi. She said she left Maryland in 1839.

"Some blue dressed Yankees come to our shack and told mama to bake him
some bread. I held to her dress. She baked them some. They put it in
their nap sacks. That was my first experience seeing the Yankees.

"They come back and come back on and on. One time they come back hunting
the silverware. They didn't find it. It was in the old seep well. The
slaves wasn't going to tell them where it was. We washed out of the seep
well and used the cistern water to drink. It was good silver. They put
it in sacks, several of them, to make it strong. Uncle Giles drapped it
down in there. He was old colored man we all called Uncle Giles. He was
no kin to me. He was good as could be. I loved him. Me and his girl
played together all the time. Her name was Roxana. We built frog houses
in the sand and put cool sand on our stomachs. We would lie under big
trees and watch and listen to the birds.

"When Mr. Billy Gates died they give Henry, my youngest brother, to his
son, John Gates. Henry, a big strong fellow, could raise a bale of
cotton over his head.

"One time the Yankees come took the meat and twenty-five cows and the
best mules. They left some old plugs. They had two mares in fold. Uncle
Giles told them one mare had buck-eye poison and the other distemper.
They left them in their stalls. We had to tote all that stuff they give
out back when they was gone. All they didn't take off they handed out to
the slaves. There was some single men didn't carry their provisions back
to the smokehouse. Everybody else did. They kept on till they swept us
all out of victuals. The slaves had shacks up on the hill. There was six
or eight pretty houses all met. Mr. Gates' house was one of them.

"Freedom--Capt. Gehu come and sent for all the slaves to come to Mr.
John Gates. We all met there. He said it was free times now. We lived on
and raised peas, corn, pumpkins, potatoes. The Yankees come and took off
some of it. That was the year of the surrender. Mama moved off the hill
in a man's home what moved to town to look after the house for them. It
was across the road from Master John Gates' house. We worked for the
Gates a long, long time after that. We worked for the Baldwins and
around till the old heads all dead. I come to Clarendon, Arkansas,
eleven o'clock, eleventh of May 1890. I have no children. I raised my
sister's baby. She died. I live wid her now. She's got grandchildren. I
get ten dollars from the Welfare a month. I buy what I needs to eat with
it. I helps out a sight. I had a baby girl. It died an infant.

"The place they refugeed Charlie and Lewis was to Opelousas, Louisiana.
It was about the first part of the country the Yankees took.

"Ku Klux--They never bothered us but in 1876 I seen them pass. My nephew
was a little boy. He said when they passed there was Jack Slaughter on
his horse. He knew the big horse. They went on. The colored men had left
their wives and children at home and went up to Red Bud Church
(colored). We seen five pass but others joined on. They had bad times. A
colored man killed a Ku Klux named Tom Middlebrook. One man got his foot
cut off wid a ax. Some called them 'white caps.' I was scared of
whatever they called theirselves.

"The younger set of folks seems more restless than they used to be. I
noticed that since the last war (World War). They ain't never got
settled. The women is bad as the men now it seems. Times is better than
I ever had them in my life."

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Tanny Hill
                      Brinkley, Arkansas
  Age: 56? No record of age

"'Uncle Solomon' we all called him but he wasn't no kin to us, he was
the funniest old man I ever heard tell of. He was a slave. He belong to
Sorrel Crockell I heard him say. He didn't go to no war.

"When the War ended he was a fisherman in Arkansas. He used to tie his
own self to a tree keep the fish from pulling him in the river. He
caught big fish in the early times. He'd come to our house when I was
nothing but a child and bring 'nough fish for all our supper. Ma would
cook 'em. Pa would help him scale 'em. We'd love to see him come. He
lived thater way from house to house.

"One time he made me mad. I never had no more use for him. We'd give him
tomatoes and onions. He told us to go bring him thater watermelon out of
the garden. He cut and eat it before us. Never give us a bite. He was
saying, 'You goiner get your back and belly beat black and blue.' I
didn't know what he was saying. Grandma found the watermelon was gone. I
owned up to it. Ma got switches and whooped us. I was singing what he
was saying. Grandma tole me what he meant. From that on we had no more
of his good fish."

Interviewer's Comment

Large, medium black.

  Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
  Person interviewed: Elizabeth Hines
                      1117 W. Fourteenth Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
  Age: 70

"I was born January 10, 1868, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I came here. I
can't read or write. My brother-in-law told me that I was born three
years after the War on January tenth.

"My mother's name was Sara Cloady. My father's name was Square Cloady. I
don't remember the names of any of my grand people. Yes I do; my
father's mother was named Bertha because I called my daughter after her.
She must have been in the Square family because that was his name.

"I had four brothers and sisters. Three of them I don't know anything
about. I have never seen them. My sister, Rachael Fortune, suckled me on
her breast. That is her married name. Before she was married her name
was Rachael Bennett. Her father and mine was not the same. We was just
half-sisters. We have the same mother though. My father was half Indian
and hers was pure-blooded Indian. They are all mean folks. People say I
am mean too, but I am not mean--unless they lie on me or something. My
mother died when I was three years old. Children three years old didn't
have as much sense then as they do now. I didn't know my mother was laid
out until I got to be a woman. I didn't have sense enough to know she
was dead. My sister was crying and we asked her what she was crying

"I don't know the name of my mother's old master. Yes I do, my mother's
old master was named Laycock. He had a great big farm. He was building
a gas house so that he could have a light all night and work niggers day
and night, but peace came before he could get it finished and use it.
God took a hand in that thing. I have seen the gas house myself. I used
to tote water home from there in a bucket. It was cool as ice-water. The
gas house was as big 'round as that market there (about a half block).

"My father served in the army three years and died at the age of one
hundred ten years about twenty years ago as near as I can remember. That
is the reason I left home because he died. He served in the War three
years. He was with the Yankees. Plenty of these old white folks will
know him by the name of Square Cloady. The name of his company was
Company E. I don't know the name of his regiment. He got his pension as
long as he lived. His last pension came just before he died. I turned it
back to the courthouse because it is bad to fool with Uncle Sam. They
wrote for my name but when I told them I was married they wouldn't send
me anything. I didn't know to tell them that my husband was dead.

"I was married when I was about twenty-seven and my husband died more
than three years before my father did. My father lived to see me the
mother of my last child; my husband didn't. When my husband was dying, I
couldn't see my toes. I was pregnant. My husband died in the year of the
great tornado. The time all the churches were blown down. I think it was
about 1915. (Storm time in Louisiana.)

"I don't know what my mother did in slavery. I don't think she did
anything but cook. She was fine in children and they buys women like
that you know. My sister was a water toter. My father raised cotton and
corn and hogs and turkeys. His trade was farming before the War. I don't
know how he happened to get in the army but he was in it three years."
[HW: cf. p. 3]

House, Furniture and Food

"Laycock's farm was out in the country about four miles from Baton
Rouge, Louisiana. Some of the slaves lived in log houses and some in big
old boxed houses. Most of them had two rooms. They had nothing but four
post beds and chairs like this I am settin' down in (a little cane
chair). I reckon it is cane--looks like it is. They had homemade chairs
before the War, boxes, and benches. The boards were often bought. But
nothing else.

"They et greens and pickled pork. My father got tired of that and he
would raise hogs. Pickled pork and corn bread!

"My father never told me what his master was to him, whether he was good
or mean. He got free early because he was in the army. He didn't run
away. The soldiers came and got him and carried him off and trained him.
[HW: cf. p. 2] I just know what my father told me because I wasn't born.
He served his full time and then he was discharged. He got an honorable
discharge. He had a wound in the leg where he was shot.

"I got along all right supporting myself by planting cotton until last
year when the doctor stopped me.

"I took care of my father and the Lord is taking care of me. I am weak
and still have that giddy head but not as bad as I used to have it."


"Some of the young people do very well but some of them ain't got no
manners and don't care what they do. I am scared for them. The Man above
ain't scared and he is going to cut them down."


  Pine Bluff District
  Name of interviewer: Martin--Barker
  Subject: Ex-Slave

"Son of Martha and Peter Hinton. Came from N.C. about 12 years ago, at
close of Civil War. Mother had nine children, she belonged to Mr. Sam

"At close of war mistis called us to her, said we were free and could
go. So we went away for about a year, but came back. Sorry we were free.

"We saw about 2000 soldiers. Never went to school. Went to white church
on plantation. White preachers said, servants, obey your marster. I was
valued at $800.00.

"When I was a small boy I lay at marsters feet and he would let us play
with his feet. He always had shiny shoes and we niggers would keep
rubbing them so they would shine more. As I grew older, I cleaned the
yard, later helped pick cotton.

"I am a Baptist. Have behaved myself. Have prayer meeting at my home.

"During the war we had prayer meetings at the different houses on the
plantations. We prayed to be set free. Turned wash pots down in the
house to keep the sound down so white folks wouldn't hear us singing and
praying to be set free.

"Overseer would whip neggers when out of humor. Miss Mary would always
tell them not to mistreat her help.

"Times were so hard during slave times, white marster took them into the
bottoms and hid them, so they wouldn't run off with the Yankee soldiers.

"Talk of war got so hot, brought us out of the woods and put us in
wagons and took us and de older people off to Texas.

"We got up at 4 AM, work all day until 9 or 10 at night. On Sunday we
worked if it was necessary.

"I was tough and strong. I could outrun a wild animal, barefooted and
bare headed.

"We would have a country dance once in awhile. Someone would play the

"Miss Mary, white mistis called us all in one day and opened a large
trunk. She showed us money, gold and silver, saying that we had all
helped to make it for them. Thats the first money I ever saw.

"Before Christmas we killed hogs.

"Our white folks didn't like any one wearing blue clothes. Thought they
were Yankees, and that meant freedom for us niggers. Men in blue clothes
came and put a rope around my marsters neck, took him all around the
nigger cabins and asked where he hid them. He told them, Texas. They
said, get them and free them or they would hang him.

"He sent after them and everything was alright.

"I though my white marster was God. He took sick and died.

"I heard the other slaves saying he committed suicide because he had
lost all his money.

"In those times my father saw my mother, decided he wanted her for his
woman. He tol his white folks and they fixed up a cabin for them to live
in together. Was no ceremony. Had nigger midwives for babies.

"I knows every lucky silver pieces of money. I believe in lucky pieces
of silver. I is a dreamer, always been dat way. I have seen my bright
days ahead of me, in dreams and visions. If I hears a woman's voice
calling me, a calling me in my sleep I is bound to move outa dat house.
I dont keer wher I goes, I is got to go some whars."

  Information by: Charles Hinton
  Place of residence: RFD 5 Old riv. Rd.
  Age: 83

  Interviewer: Bernice Bowden.
  Person interviewed: Charlie Hinton (c)
  Age: 89
  Home: Old River Road--Pine Bluff, Ark.

"Oh Lordy, lady, I was pickin' cotton durin' the war. I was here before
the first gun was fired. When the war came they sent my mother and
father and all the other big folks to Texas and left us undergrowth here
to make a crop.

"My mother's name was Martha and my father was named Peter Hinton. Now
I'm just goin' to tell you everything--I'm not ashamed. I've got the
marks of slavery on me. My old marster and Miss Mary, they was good to
me, but the old cook woman throwed me off the porch and injured my back.
I ain't never been able to walk just right since.

"Now, here's what I remember. Our marster, we thought he was God.

"They pretty near raised us with the pigs. I remember they would cook a
great big oven of bread and then pour a pan full of buttermilk or
clabber and we'd break off a piece of bread and get around the pan of
milk jest like pigs. Yes mam, they did that.

"Let's see now, what else occurred. Old marster would have my father and
Uncle Jacob and us boys to run foot races. You know--they was testin'
us, and I know I was valued to be worth five hundred dollars.

"But my folks was good to me. They wouldn't have no overseer what would
be cruel. If he was cruel he would have to be gone from there.

"One time old marster say 'Charlie how come this yard so dirty?' You
know there would be a little track around. I said, will you give me that
old gray horse after I clean it and he said 'Yes'. So I call up the boys
and we'd clean it up, and then the old gray horse was mine. It was just
the old worn out stock you understand.

"I want to tell you when the old folks got sick they would bleed them,
and when the young folks got sick they give you some blue mass and turn
you loose.

"I remember when old marster's son Sam went to war and got shot in the
leg. Old marster was cryin' 'Oh, my Sam is shot'. He got in a scrummage
you know. He got well but he never could straighten out his leg.

"When freedom come, I heard 'em prayin' for the men to come back home.
Miss Mary called us all up and told us our age and said, 'You all are
free and can go where you want to go, or you can stay here.'

"Oh yes, the Ku Klux use to run my daddy if they caught him out without
a pass, but I remember he could outrun them--he was stout as a mule.

"I been here so long and what little I've picked up is just a little
fireside learnin'. I can read and write my name. I can remember when we
thought a newspaper opened out was a bed-cover. But a long time after
the war when the public school come about, I had the privilege of going
to school three weeks. Yes mam, I was swift and I think I went nearly
through the first reader.

"I am a great lover of the Bible and I'm a member of Mount Calvary
Baptist Church.

"I'm glad to give you some kind of idea 'bout my age and life. I really
am glad. Goodbye."

  Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
  Person interviewed: Ben Hite
                      1515 Ohio Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  Age: 74

"Well, I didn't zactly live in slavery times. I was born in 1864, the
4th of July. They said it was on the William Moore place four miles from
Chattanooga but I was in Georgia when I commenced to remember--in Fort
Valley--just a little town.

"I been in Arkansas sixty-five years the first day of January. Come to
the old Post of Arkansas in 1873. I been right here on this spot
forty-three years. Made a many a bale of cotton on the Barrow place.

"Went to school three weeks right down here in 'Linkum' County. I could
read a little but couldn't write any much.

"I been married to this wife forty years. My fust wife dead.

"I lived in 'Linkum' County eight years and been in Jefferson County
ever since.

"Three years ago I was struck by a car and I been blind two years. I can
just 'zern' the light. When I was able to be about I used to vision what
it would be like to be blind and now I know.

"Yes'm, I just come here on the eve of the breakin' up. I seed the
Yankees in Georgia after freedom. They called em Bluejackets.

"All my life I have farmed--farmed."

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person Interviewed: Betty Hodge
                      Hazen, Ark.
  Age: 63

"Uncle Billy Hill used to visit us. He was Noah's uncle. He was a slave
and one thing I remembers hearing him tell was this: He was the hostler
for his old master. The colored folks was having a jubilee. He wanted to
go. He stole one of the carriage horses out--rode it. It started
snowing. He said he went out to see bout the horse and it seemed be
doin' all right. After a while here come somebody and told him that
horse he rode was dead. He didn't believe it, but went out there and it
was sho dead. He said he took that horse by the tail and started runnin'
up the road. They drug that horse home and put him in the stable where
he belong at. It was snowing so hard and fast they couldn't see their
hands 'fo em he said. It snowed so much it covered up where they drug
the horse and their tracks. He said the snow saved his life. They found
the horse dead and never thought bout him having him out at the jubilee.
He said none of em ever told a word bout it but for long time he was
scared to death fear the old master find out bout it.

"Grandma Frances was born in West Virginia. She was papa's mama. She
purt nigh raised us. Mama and papa went to the field to work. She cooked
and done the housework. She had a good deal of Indian blood in her. I
heard em say. She had high cheeks and the softest, prettiest hair. She
told about the stars falling. She said they never hit the ground, that
they was like shooting stars 'cepting they all come down like. Everybody
was scared to death. She talked a good deal about Haywood County--I
believe that was in Tennessee--that was where they lived durin' of the
war. Papa made her a livin' long as she lived. When she got old noises
bothered her, so then we growed up and she lived by herself in front of
our house in a house.

"Grandma Frances and our family come to Arkansas 'reckly after the Civil
War. They come with Mr. John and Miss Olivia Cooper. Miss Olivia was his
wife, but Miss Presh was a old maid. Folks used to think it was sort of
bad if a woman didn't marry. Thought she have no chances. It sort of be
something like a disgrace if a woman was a old maid. Don't seem
that-a-way no more. I never heard much about Miss Presh but I heard mama
tell this: Grandma Mary Lea come on a visit to see mama and she brought
her some sweet potatoes in a bag. Had nothing else and wanted to bring
her something. Miss Olivia picked out the biggest ones and took em. Said
she was mean. Said she had a plenty of everything. Just left mama the
smallest ones. She said Miss Olivia was stingy. Mama was the house girl
and nurse and they had a cook. Mama was a girl then she belong to the
Coopers, but mama belong to somebody else. She hadn't married then.

"One day Miss Olivia called her and she didn't get there soon as Miss
Olivia wanted her to. Miss Olivia say, 'You getting mean, Lucy. You like
your ma.' She said, 'I just like you if I'm mean.' But Miss Olivia
didn't understand it. She ask the cook and the cook told her she was
talking to her. She told Mr. John Cooper to whoop em but he didn't. He
kind of laughed and ask the cook what Lucy said to Miss Olivia. Miss
Olivia told him if he didn't whoop em both she was going back home. He
told her he would take her and she wouldn't come back neither when she
left. He didn't whoop neither one of em and she never left him till she
died, cause I been over to Des Arc and seen all of em since I come in
this world.

"Mama was Lucy Lea till she married Will Holloway, my papa. Then she
married Isarel Thomas the preacher here at Hazen. He come from Tennessee
with old Dr. Hazen (white man). Mama's mama was Mary Lea; she lived out
here at Green Grove. I don't know where she was born, but she was owned
by the Lea's round Des Arc. She come and stay a month or two with us on
a visit.

"Old folks was great hands to talk bout olden times. I forgot bout all
they told.

"In old times folks had more principal, now they steal and fight and
loud as they can be. Folks used to be quiet, now they be as loud as they
can all the time. They dance and carouse all night long--fuss and fight!
Some of our young folks got to change. The times have changed so much
and still changing so fast I don't know what goin' to be the end. I
study bout it a lot."

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Minnie Hollomon
                      R.F.D., Biscoe, Arkansas
  Age: 75

"My parents was Elsie and Manuel Jones. They had five children. The
Jones was farmers at Hickory Plains. Auntie was a cook and her girl,
Luiza, was a weaver and a spinner and worked about in the house.

"I heard auntie talk about the soldiers come and make them cook up
everything they had and et it up faster 'en it took 'er to fix it ready
for 'em to guttle down. Dems her very words. They took the last barrel
er flour and the last scrap er meat they had outen the smokehouse.

"Uncle Sebe Jones was Massa Jones' boss and wagoner (wagon man and
overseer). Auntie said Uncle Sebe drunk too much. He drunk long as he
lived 'cause old Massa Jones trained to that.

"Uncle Whit Jones was more pious and his young massa learned him to read
and write. He was onliest one of the Jones niggers knowed how er had any
learning er tall.

"The women folks spun and wove all winter while the nights be long.

"Pa said Massa Jones was pretty fair to his black folks. He fed 'em
pretty good and seen they was kept warm in rainy bad weather. He watch
see if the men split plenty wood to keep up the fires. Jones didn't
allow the neighbors to slash up his black folks. He whooped them if he
thought they needed it and he knowed when and where to stop. Mama didn't
b'long to the same people.

"Grandma was a native of South Ca'lina. Her name was Malindy Fortner.
She died over at Alex Hazen's place. She come to some of her people's
after the War. I think ma come with her. Her own old mistress come sit
on a cushion one day. The parrot say, 'Cake under cushion, burn her
bottom.' Grandma made the parrot fly on off but the cake was warm and it
was mashed flat under the cushion when she got up. She took it to her
little children. She said piece of cake was a rarity. They had plenty
corn bread, peas and meat.

"Grandma said after they had a baby it would be seben weeks b'fore they
would let them put their hands in a washtub. They all had tasks in
winter time. They sit by the fire and talk and sing. Ma said in slavery
a girl had a baby and her hugging around a tree. Said her mistress come
to the cabin to see about her and brought corn bread and pea pot-liquor.
Said that would kill folks but it didn't hurt her.

"Pa b'long to the Jones and Whitlocks both but he never told us about
ever being sold. He told us about it took nearly two weeks one time in
the bad weather to meet the boat and get provisions. His wagon was
loaded and when the rain and freeze set in it caught him. He like never
got back. His white folks was proud when he got back."


  Name of Interviewer--S. S. Taylor
  Person interviewed--H. B. Holloway (Dad or Pappy)

Birth, Parentage

"I never lived in the country. I lived in town. But sometimes my father
would go into the country to hunt and I would go with him.

"I was born in Austin County, Fort Valley, Georgia, 105 miles below
Atlanta one way, and by Macon it would be 140. I was thirteen years old
when the war began and seventeen when it ended. I was born the fifteenth
day of February, 1848.

"My mother was a nurse and midwife. My father was a finished mechanic. I
never had to do any work until after the Civil War, but I was just crazy
about railroading and went to railroading early. I railroaded all my
life. I did some draying too and a lot of concreting too.

"I was born free. There weren't so many free Niggers in Georgia. None
that I knew owned any slaves. I never heered of any owning any slaves.
My mother was a full blooded Cherokee woman, and my father was a dark
Spaniard." [("Dad" or "Pappy" Holloway is a fine looking old white man
and shows evidence of White and Indian blood; however, Negro blood
shows.) [HW: omit]]

"I am the only one out of twelve children that can't talk my mother's
language and don't know my father's. I remember the Indian war whoop,
and the war dance--used to do that myself. When they run the Indians out
of Georgia into Florida, my mother never did go. She was one hundred
seven years old when she died."

Marriage, Breeding, Weddings, Separations

"You know, there weren't no marriages like now with Niggers--just like
if you and your wife owned a man and I owned a woman, if your man wanted
to marry, he got consent from you and my woman would get consent from
me. And then they would marry, and I either got to buy your slave or you
got to buy mine. Sometimes the white folks wouldn't want you to marry.

"They didn't force nobody to marry. They might force you to marry if
both of you had the same master, but not if they belonged to different
masters. They were crazy about slaves that had a lot of children.

"Niggers didn't separate in slave times because they never was married
except by word of mouth. There was a lot of old souls that came out of
slavery times that lived together and raised children that never was
married (except by word of mouth), just got together. But they made out
better and were better husbands and wives and raised better families
than they do now.

"Sometimes folks would get separated when the slave traders would sell
them, and sometimes families would get separated when their white folks
died or would run into debt."

Slave Sales

"They had a slave block in Georgia. You see they would go to Virginia
and get the people that they would bring across the water--regular
Africans. Sometimes they would refugee them four or five hundred miles
before they would get the chance to sell them. Sometimes a woman would
have a child in her arms. A man would buy the mother and wouldn't want
the child. And then sometimes a woman would holler out: 'Don't sell that
pickaninny.' (You know they didn't call colored children nothin' but
Pickaninnies then.) 'I want that little pickaninny.' And the mother
would go one way and the child would go the other. The mother would be
screaming and hollering, and of course, the child wouldn't be saying
nothin' because it didn't know what was goin' on.

"They had a sale block in my home (Fort Valley, Georgia), and I used to
go and see the Niggers sold often. Some few wasn't worth nothin' at
all--just about a hundred dollars. But they generally ran about five or
six hundred dollars. Some of them would bring thousands of dollars. It
depended on their looks. The trader would say, 'Look at those shoulders;
look at those muscles.'

"Someone would holler out, 'A thousand dollars.'

"Then another would holler out, 'Fifteen hundred.'

"They went like horses. A fine built woman would bring a lot of money. A
woman that birthed children cost a heap.

"Virginia was where the slaves would be brought first. The slave traders
would go there and get them and take them across the country in
droves--just like you take a drove of cattle. They would sell them as
they would come to sale blocks. The slaves would be undressed from the
shoulders to the waist."

Houses, Food, Clothes

"The slaves lived in log huts on the plantations. Some men would
weatherboard them. They didn't put any ceiling in. You could lay back in
your bed and see the moon and stars shining through.

"Some got good food and some of the owners would make the Niggers steal
their food from other folks. Old Myers Green would make his Niggers
steal and he would say, 'If you get caught, I'll kill you.' One or two
of them let themselves get caught, and he would whip them. That was to
save him from paying for it. They couldn't do anything to you but whip
you nohow. But they could make him pay for it.

"They used homemade clothes made out of homemade cotton cloth. They
would spin the cotton to a thread. When they would get so many broaches
of it, they would make it into cloth. A broach was just a lot of thread
wound around a stick. They would take it to the wheel and make the
cloth, them women used to have tasks:--spinning, weaving, dressmaking,
and so on. Sometimes they would have five and six spinning wheels
running before they would get to the weaving.

"I don't know who made the clothes. But you know them Niggers made them.
They used to learn some slaves how to do some things,--the right way.
Jus' like they learned themselves. There was plenty of nice
seamstresses. The white folks used to make them make clothes for their
children. The white folks wouldn't do nothin'. They wouldn't even turn
down the bed to get in it."


"Colored folks in slavery times didn't know how old they was. When you
would buy a drove of darkies, you would go by what they would tell you,
but they didn't know how old they was. Some of those Niggers they bought
from Africa wouldn't take nothin' neither.

"They would say: 'Me goin' do what you say do, but me aint goin' to get
no whipping.' And when they whipped them, there was trouble.

"The masters kept records of ages of those born in their care. Some of
them did. Some of them didn't keep nothin'. Jus' like people nowadays.
Raised them like pigs and hogs. Jus' didn't care."


"There used to be plenty of colored folk fiddlers. Dancing, candy
pulling, quilting,--that was about the only fun they would have. Corn
shucking, too. They used to enjoy that. They would get on top of that
pile and start singing--the white folks used to like that--sometimes
they would shuck corn all night long. And they would sing and eat too.

"They had what they called the old-fashioned cotillion
dance--partners--head, foot, and two sides--four men and four
women--each man danced with his partner. Music by the fiddlers. I used
to dance that.

"At the quilting, they'd get down and quilt. The boys and young men
would be there too and they would thread the needles and laugh and talk
with the girls, and the women would gossip.

"The masters would go there too and look at them and see what they'd do
and how they'd do and make them do. They would do that at the candy
pullin' too, and anything else.

"The candy pulling--there they'd cook the candy and a man and a girl
would pull candy together. Look to me like they enjoyed the corn
shucking as much as they did anything else."


"They'd give time to celebrate Christmas time. They'd dance and so on
like that. But they worked them from New Year's day to Christmas Eve
night the next year. The good white people would give them a pig and
have them make merry. They'd make merry over it like we do now. That's
where it all come from."

Run-Away Slaves

"I seen a many a runaway slave. I've seen the hounds catch them too. You
could hear the hounds all hours of the night. Some Nigger was gone. Some
of them would run away from the field. And some of them would slip out
at night.

"I used to mock them hounds. The first hound would say 'Oo-oo-oo,
He-e-e-e-re he-e-e-e-e G-o-o-o-oes.' The others would say, 'Put 'im up.
Put 'im up. Put 'im up. Put 'im up. Put 'im up.' My mother would laugh
at me. The lead-hound howled, and the catch dog wouldn't say nothin' but
you could hear the sound of his feet. The lead hound didn't catch the
Nigger, but he would just follow him. When he caught up with him, he
would step aside and let the catch dog get him if he wasn't treed."


"The pateroles were for Niggers just like police and sheriffs were for
white folks. They were just poor white folks. When a Nigger was out from
the plantation at night, he had to have a pass. If the pateroles seen
him, they would stop him and ask for his pass. If'n he didn't have it,
he'd mos' likely get a beating. I was free and didn't have no pass.
Sometimes they would stop me, but I never had no trouble with 'em. I was
a boy then, and everybody knowed me."

Good Masters

"Men like Colonel Troutman, Major Holmes, and Preacher Russell--Thomas
Russell--they didn't whip their Niggers and didn't allow no one else to
whip them. They had a little guardhouse on the plantation and they would
lock them up in it. You'd better not hit one of their Niggers. They'd
take a pole or something and run you ragged."

Mean Masters

"White folks was cruel in slavery times. You see I was free and could go
where I wanted too, and I see'd a lot. Old Myer Green would take a
Nigger and tie his feet to one side of a railroad track and tie his
hands to the other side, and whip him till the blood ran. Then he would
take him down to the smoke house and rub him down with lard and red
pepper. 'Rub plenty in,' he would say, 'Don't let him spoil.'

"Then I have seen them take up a ten-rail fence end set it down on a
Nigger's neck and whip him. If he would rare and twist and try to jump
up, he would break his neck."

[HW: To follow 1st. par, P.7]

Pateroles (See also on Page 9)

"One night, when me and my mother was coming from town, my mother had a
demijohn of whiskey. They (pateroles) tried to take it. And she snatched
a palling off the fence and nearly beat them poor white trash to death.
My mother was a good woman, strong as any man. I was sitting on the
demijohn. I was a little fellow then. They didn't do nothin' to her
neither, 'cause they knew what old Colonel Troutman would do."
(Holloway's mother was midwife to Colonel Troutman's wife and nurse and
'mammy' to his boy, although a free Indian.) [HW: Delete last

Mixed Bloods

"I can carry you to Columbus, Georgia. There was ten mulatto Niggers
born there and you would think they were all white; but they were all
colored. They were slaves, but their master was their Daddy.

"I'll tell you somethin'. W. H. Riley and Henry Miller,--You know them
don't you--they are blood brothers,--had the same mother and the same
father. Riley's grandfather was a white man named Miller. Miller got mad
at his son, Riley's father, and sold him to a white man named Riley.
Riley took the name of his father's second master. After freedom, Henry
and Josephine took the name of Miller, their real grandfather. They
said, 'Miller had never done anything' for them."

Curious Beliefs and Slave Expectations of Freedom

"I was looking right in Lincoln's mouth when he said, 'The colored man
is turned loose without anything. I am going to give a dollar a day to
every Negro born before Emancipation until his death,--a pension of a
dollar a day.' That's the reason they killed him. But they sure didn't
get it. It's going to be an awful thing up yonder when they hold a
judgment over the way that things was done down here."

Lincoln's Visit to Atlanta

"When the war was declared over, Abraham Lincoln came South and went to
the capitol (of Atlanta), and there was so many people to meet him he
went up to the tower instead of in the State House. He said, 'I did
everything I could to keep out of war. Many of you agreed to turn the
Negroes loose, but Jeff Davis said that he would wade in blood up to his
neck before he would do it.'

"He asked for all of the Confederate money to be brought up there. And
when it was brought, he called for the oldest colored men around. He
said, 'Now, is you the oldest?' The man said, 'Yes Sir.' Then he threw
him one of those little boxes of matches and told him to set fire to it
and burn it up.

"Then he said, 'I am going to disfranchise every one of you (the white
folks), and it will be ten years before you can even vote or get back
into the Union.'"

Grant's Attitude

"Grant was the one that killed the Republican party. We ain't had but
three real Republican presidents since the war--Garfield, McKinley and
Teddy Roosevelt. They killed Garfield, and they killed McKinley, and
they tried to kill Teddy Roosevelt. Well, they asked Grant if they could
make state constitutions. Grant said, 'Yes, if they didn't conflict with
the national constitution.' But they did conflict and Grant didn't do
nothin' about it."

Schooling, Antebellum and Postbellum

"Northern teachers were sent down here after the war and they charged a
dollar a month until the State set up schools. Some of the Niggers
learned enough in the six months school to teach, and some white persons

"In slave times, they didn't have any schools for Niggers. Niggers
better not be caught with a book. If he were caught with a book they
beat him to death nearly. Niggers used to get hold of this Webster's
Blue Back Book and the white folks would catch them and take them away.
They didn't allow no free Niggers to go to school either in slave times."

Share Cropping

"I used to see Niggers in Georgia share cropping. Nigger work all the
year. Christmas eve night they would be going back to the plantation
singing--done lost everything--sitting on the wagon singing:

  'Sho' pity Lawd forgive
   That ar' pentant rebel live.'

"Then they would have to get clothes and food against the next year's
crop. Then you'd see 'em on the wagon again driving back to the
plantation loaded down with provisions, singing:

  'Lawd revive us agin
   All our increase comes from thee.'

"I used to study how them people could live. They didn't give but ten
dollars a month for common labor. They didn't give anything to the share
cropper. They took all of it. They said he spent it, borrowed it, and on
like that."

Didn't Want To Be Free

"Some that didn't know any better didn't want to be free. Especially
them that had hard taskmasters. When the Nigger was turned loose sho
nuff, some of them didn't have a good shirt to their back. The master
hated to lose them so bad, he wouldn't give them anything.

"But for twenty-five years after slave times, there ain't no race of
people ever traveled as fast as the Nigger did. But when the young ones
came up, they are the ones what killed the thing. An old white man said:
'We thought if you folks kept it up we or you one would have to leave
this country. But when the young ones came on, and began begrudging one
another this and that and working against one another, then we saw you
would never make a nation.'"

Riots and KKK

"I have been in big riots. I was in the Atlanta riots in 1891. We lost
about forty men, and I don't know how many the white folks lost, but
they said it was about a hundred. I used to live there. I came here in

"We had a riot there when the KKK was raising so much Cain. The first Ku
Klux wore some kind of hat that went over the man's head and shoulders
and had great big red eyes in it. They broke open my house one night to
whip me.

"I was working as a foreman in the shops. One night as I was going home,
some men stopped and said 'Who are you.' I answered 'H. B. Holloway.'
Then they said, 'Well we'll be over to your house tonight to whip you.'

"I said, 'We growed up together and you couldn't whip me then. How you
'spect to do it now. You might kill me, but you can't beat me.'

"And one of them said, 'Well we'll be over to see you at eleven thirty
tonight, and we are going to beat you.'

"I went on home end told my wife what had happened. She was afraid and
wanted me to leave and take her and the children with her.

"But I said, 'No, you must take the little children and go in the
bedroom and stay there.'

"She did. I had three sons that were grown up, between twenty and
twenty-eight years old, and I had a Winchester, a shotgun and a pistol.
I gave the Winchester to the oldest, the shotgun to the next, and the
pistol to the youngest. I took my ax for myself. I stationed the boys at
the far end of the room--away from the door.

"The oldest said, 'Papa, let's kill them.'

"I said, 'No. You just stand there and do nothing till I tell you. When
they break in, I'll knock the first one in the head with the ax. But
don't you do nothin' till I tell you.'

"After a while, we heard a noise outside, and I took my stand beside the
door. Then they gave a rush, and battered the door down. A man with a
gray hood on jumped inside. I hit him side the head with the flat of the
ax, and he fell down across the door.

"Then the others rushed up, and the boys cut loose with all three of the
guns, and such another uproar you never heard. They high-tailed it down
the street, and the boys took right after them, shooting at their legs.
The Winchester shot sixteen times, and the pistol shot six, and the boy
with the shotgun was shooting and breaking down and reloading and
shooting again as fast as he could.

"I went outside and whistled for the boys to come back. They come. They
would always obey me. I told them to carry the man I had hit out. He was
still lying there. Through all the fuss and uproar, he had been lying
there across the doorway. Carried him out, and threw him on the
sidewalk. My eldest son said the man said, 'Holloway, don't hit me no

"I didn't, but if I had known who he was then, I would have gone out and
cut his throat. He was old Colonel Troutman's son. There was just two
hours difference in our birth. Me and him both nursed from the same
breast. We grew up together and were never separated until we were
thirteen (beginning of the war). Many people thought we were brothers. I
had fought for him and he had fought for me. When he wasn't at my house,
I was at his, and his father partly raised me. That's the reason I don't
trust white people.

"We had a big dog that everyone was scared of. We always kept him
chained up. I unchained the dog, and took the boys and we went out in
the woods. It was cold; so we made a fire under a tall sapling.

"Near daylight, I said, 'The dog sees something, but we can't see what
it is.' The eldest son said, 'Pappy, if you get astride the dog, and
look the way he's looking, you can see what he sees.'

"I got astride him and looked, and finally way off through the trees and
the branches and leaves, I saw six men riding through the woods on
horseback. I took the guns away from the boys and put the pistol and
shotgun under the leaves at my feet. I made the boys separate and hide
in the brush at a good distance from me and from each other. I made the
dog lie down beside me. Then I waited.

"When the men came near me and were about to pass on looking for me, I
hailed them. I told them to stop right where they were or I'd drop them
in their tracks. It was Colonel Troutman and five other of the old men
from town out hunting me.

"Colonel Troutman said, 'We just wanted to talk to you Holloway.'

"I said, 'Stand right where you are and talk.'

"After some talk, I let them come up slowly to a short distance from me.
The upshot of the whole thing was that they wanted me to go back to town
with them to 'talk' over the matter. They allowed I hadn't done nothin'
wrong. But Colonel Troutman's man was hurt bad, and some of the young
men in the mob had had their legs broke. And they were all young men
from the town, boys that knew me and were friendly to me in the daytime.
Still they wanted me to go to town in their charge, and I knew I
wouldn't have a chance if I did that. Finally I told Colonel Troutman,
that I was going home to see my wife that evening, and that if he
wanted to talk to me, he could come over there and talk.

"When they left, I sent the boys along home and told them to tell my
wife. That night when I got home, Colonel Troutman was in the house
talking to my wife. I went in quietly. He said that they said I had
forty Niggers hid in the house that night. I told him that there wasn't
anybody there but me and my family, and that all the damage that was
done I done myself. He said that well he didn't blame me; that even if
it was his son, they broke in on me and I had a right to defend my
family, and that none of the old heads was going to do anything about
it. He said I was a good man and had never given anybody any trouble and
that there wasn't any excuse for anybody comin' stirrin' up trouble with
me. And that was the end of it."


"My wife was sick, down, couldn't do nothin'. Someone got to telling her
about Cain Robertson. Cain Robertson was a hoodoo doctor in Georgia.
They there wasn't nothin' Cain couldn't do. She says, 'Go and see Cain
and have him come up here.'

"I says, 'There ain't no use to send for Cain. Cain ain't coming up here
because they say he is a "two-head" Nigger.' (They called all them hoodoo
men 'two-head' Niggers; I don't know why they called them two-head.)
'And you know he knows the white folks will put him in jail if he comes
to town.'

"But she says, 'You go and get him.'

"So I went.

"I left him at the house and when I came back in, he said, 'I looked at
your wife and she had one of then spells while I was there. I'm afraid
to tackle this thing because she has been poisoned and it's been goin'
on a long time. And if she dies, they'll say I killed her and they
already don't like me and lookin' for an excuse to do somethin' to me.'

"My wife overheard him and says, 'You go on, you got to do somethin'.'

"So he made me go to town and get a pint of corn whiskey. When I brought
it back, he drunk a half of it at one gulp, and I started to knock him
down. I'd thought he'd get drunk with my wife lying there sick.

"Then he said, 'I'll have to see your wife's stomach.' Then he scratched
it, and put three little horns on the place he scratched. Then he took
another drink of whiskey and waited about ten minutes. When he took them
off her stomach, they were full of blood. He put them in the basin in
some water and sprinkled some powder on them, and in about ten minutes
more, he made me get them and they were full of clear water and there
was a lot of little things that looked like wiggle tails swimming around
in it.

"He told me when my wife got well to walk in a certain direction a
certain distance and the woman that caused all the trouble would come to
my house and start a fuss with me.

"I said, 'Can't you put this same thing back on her.'

"He said, 'Yes, but it would kill my hand.' He meant that he had a
curing hand and that if he made anybody sick or killed them, all his
power to cure would go from him.

"I showed the stuff he took out of my wife's stomach to old Doc Matthews
and he said, 'You can get anything into a person by putting it in them.'
He asked me how I found out about it, and how it was taken out, and who
did it.

"I told him all about it, and he said, 'I'm going to see that that
Nigger practices anywhere in this town he wants to and nobody bothers
him.' And he did."

Opinions of Young People

"The young Niggers aint got as much sense as the old ones had,--those
that were born before the war. One thing, they don't read enough. They
don't know history. I can't understand them. Looks like to me they had a
mighty good chance; but it looks like the more they get the worse they
are. Looks like to me their parents didn't teach them right--or
somethin'. Young ladies--I look at them every day of my life--coarse,
swearing, running with bootleggers, and running the hoodlums down,
smoking, going half-naked, and so on. They don't care what they do or


"My brother was in Collodiusville, Georgia, the last time I heard from
him. That is in Monroe County, or Upton County,--I don't know what
county it's in. I know he is there if he is living because he owns a
home there.

"William always lived in Macon but he is dead. Bud,--I don't know where
he is. Milton, Irving, and Zekiel, I don't know where they are. I used
to keep up with them regular. But we ain't written to each other in a
long time.

"The last time I heard from Mahala and Laura, their husbands were
bricklayers and they were living in Atlanta, I think. They went some
other place where there was plenty of work. I think it was to Cleveland,
Ohio. There's Josephine, Mandy, and little Mary--five sisters and seven

"Outside of William, Crawford, and Milton, I haven't seen none of them
since fifty years. I haven't seen Zekiel since the year of the
surrender. I seen some of the white folks the year they had the re-union
here. They seen me on the street, and came over and talked to me, and
wanted me to go back to Fort Valley, and offered to pay my railroad
fare. But I told 'em I was goin' to stay here in God's country."

  This information given by: H. B. Holloway (Dad or Pappy)
  Place of Residence: 1524 Valentine Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
  Occupation: Formerly railroader and drayman--Pension now.
  Age: 89

  --- 29 1938
  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Pink Holly
                      Holly Grove, Arkansas
  Age: 70

"I was born in Anderson County, South Carolina. My papa was Abe Brown
and my mama was Lizzie White. She died when I was a baby and Miss Nancy
White took me up to her house and raised me. Her husband was Mars Henry
White. They was good to me. Miss Nancy was the best. They treated me
like their own boy. It was done freedom then but my papa stayed on the
place. I learned to do up the night turns, slop the hogs and help bout
the milkin'. They had young calves to pull off. I toted in the wood and
picked up chips. She done everything for me and all the mother I knowed.

"When I was seven years old my papa pulled me off to Arkansas. We come
on a immigration ticket, least I recken we did. I don't think my papa
paid our way. We was brought here. The land was better they told em.

"We settled in the woods close to Mariana and commenced farmin'. I been
farmin' and workin' in the timber and I carpenters a little. The timber
is gone.

"I supports myself all I can. I own a little house at Clarendon I recken
is the reason I don't get no Government help."

  Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
  Person interviewed: Dora Holmes [HW crossed out: (light brown)]
                      1500 Valentine St., Little Rock, Ark.
  Age: 60?
  Occupation: Housewife

"My father's half brothers were white. They all fought in the army. They
were Confederate soldiers. Once during the war when they came home, they
brought my mother the goods for two dresses,--twenty yards of figured
voile, ten yards for each dress. The cost of the whole twenty yards was
fifty dollars ($50.00).

"I still have the dresses and some petticoats and pantaloons which are
nearly as old. I have ironed these things many a time until they were so
stiff they stand straight up on the floor."

Interviewer's Comments

Mary Ann King, mother of Dora Holmes, was the original owner of the
dresses. She died at the age of ninety-eight two or three years ago. One
of the dresses is still in the possession of the daughter. It has a
skirt with nine gores and a twelve-inch headed ruffle.

The petticoat is of white muslin with a fifty-two yard lace ruffle in
sixteen tiers of lace with beading at the top. It was worn just after
the Civil War.

There are also a baby dress and a baby petticoat fifty-six years old.

  MAY 31 1938
  Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
  Person interviewed: Elijah Henry Hopkins
                      1308½ Ringo Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
  Age: 81

"My father's master was old Tom Willingham, an awful big farmer who
owned farms in Georgia and South Carolina, both. He lived in southwest
Georgia in Baker County. Old man Willingham's wife was Phoebe Hopkins.
Her mother was old lady Hopkins. I don't know what the rest of her name
was. We never called her nothin' but old lady Hopkins or Mother Hopkins.
She was one of the richest women in the state. When she died, her estate
was divided among her children and grandchildren. Her slaves were part
of her estate. They were divided among her children and grandchildren,
too. Tom Willingham's family come in for its part. He had three sons,
Tom, Jr., John, and Robert. My father already belonged to Tom
Willingham, Sr., so he stayed with him. But my mother belonged to old
lady Hopkins, and she went to Robert, so my daddy and mother were
separated before I knew my daddy. My father stayed with old man
Willingham until freedom.

"Robert Willingham was my mother's master. He never married. When he
died he willed all his slaves free. But his relatives got together and
broke the will and never did let 'em go.

"When I saw my father to know him, I saw him out in Georgia. They told
me that was my father. Then he had another wife and a lot of children.
My mother brought me up and my father taken charge of me after she died
and after freedom--about a year after. It was close to emancipation
because the states were still under martial law.

"I was born May 15, 1856, in the Barnwell district, South Carolina. They
used to call them districts then. It would be Barnwell County now. They
changed and started calling 'em counties in 1866 [HW: 1868?] or
thereabouts. I was running around when they mustered the men in for the
Civil War, and I was about nine years old when the War ended. I was
about ten when my mother died and my father taken charge of me. I was
taken from South Carolina when I was about four years old and carried
into Georgia and stayed there until emancipation. My mother didn't tarry
long in Georgia after she was emancipated. She went back into South
Carolina; but she died in a short time, as I just said. Then my father
taken charge of me. I got married in South Carolina in 1885, and then I
came out here in 1886--to Arkansas. Little Rock was the first place I
came to. I didn't stay here a great while. I went down to the Reeder
farm on the Arkansas River just about sixteen miles above Pine Bluff. I
started share cropping but taken down sick. I never could get used to
drinking that bottom water. Then I went to Pine Bluff and went to work
with the railroad and helped to widen the gauge of the Cotton Belt Road.
Then the next year they started the Sewer Contract, and I worked in that
and I worked on the first water plant they started. In working with the
King Manufacturing Company I learned piping.

"I stayed in Pine Bluff sixteen years. My wife died August 1, 1901. A
couple of years after that, I came back to Little Rock, and have been
here ever since. I went to work on the Illinois Central Railroad just
across the river, which is now the Rock Island Railroad. After it became
the Rock Island, the bridge was built across the river east of Main
Street. They used to go over the old Baring Cross Bridge and had to pay
for it. The Missouri Pacific enjoined the Rock Island and wouldn't let
it go straight through, so they built their own bridge and belted the
city and went on around. I got stricken down sick in 1930 and haven't
been able to do heavy work since. You know, a plumber and steam-fitter
have to do awful heavy work.

"I get a little old age assistance from the state. They are supposed to
give me commodities but my card got out and they ain't never give me
another one. I went down to see about it today, and they said they'd
mail me another one."

How the Little Children Were Fed

"My mother was always right in the house with the white people and I was
fed just like I was one of their children. They even done put me to bed
with them. You see, this discrimination on color wasn't as bad then as
it is now. They handled you as a slave but they didn't discriminate
against you on account of color like they do now. Of course, there were
brutal masters then just like there are brutal people now. Louisiana and
Alabama and Mississippi always were tough states on colored people.
South Carolina and Georgia got that way after people from those places
came in and taught them to mistreat colored people. Yet in Alabama and
Louisiana where they colored people were worse treated, it seems that
they got hold of more property and money. Same way it was in


"The patrollers was just a set of mean men organized in every section of
the country. If they'd catch a nigger out and he didn't have a pass,
they'd tie him up and whip him and then they'd take him back. You had
to have a pass to be out at night. Even in the daytime you couldn't go
no great distance without a pass. Them big families--rich families--that
had big plantations would come together and the niggers from two or
three places might go to a church on one of them. But you couldn't go no
place where there wasn't a white man looking on."

Reading and Writing in Slave Time

"Some of the white people thought so much of their slaves that they
would teach them how to write and read. But they would teach them
secretly and they would teach them not to read or write out where
anybody would notice them. They didn't mind you reading as much as they
minded you writing. If they'd catch YOU now and it was then, they'd take
you out and chop off them fingers you're doing that writing with."

Slave Occupation and Wages

"My daddy was a builder. Old man Willingham gave him freedom and time to
work on his own account. He gave him credit for what work he done for
him. He got three hundred dollars a year for my father's time, but all
the money was collected by him, because my father being a slave couldn't
collect any money from anybody. When my father's master died, he may
have had money deposited with him. But he was strictly honest with my
father. No matter how much he collected, he wouldn't take no more'n
three hundred dollars and he put all the rest to the credit of my
father. He said three hundred dollars was enough to take."

How Freedom Came

"The owners went to work and notified the slaves that they were free.
After the proclamation was issued, the government had agents who went
all through the country to see if the slaves had been freed. They would
see how the proclamation was being carried out. They would ask them,
'How are you working?' 'You are free.' 'What are you getting?' Some of
them would say, 'I ain't gettin' nothin' now.' Well, the agent would
take that up and they would have that owner up before the government.
Maybe he would be working people for a year and giving them nothin'
before they found him out. There are some places where they have them
cases yet. Where they have people on the place and ain't paying them

Memories of Soldiers and the War

"I have seen thousands and thousands of soldiers. Sometimes it would
take a whole day for them to pass through. When Sherman's army marched
through Atlanta, it took more than a day. I was in Atlanta then. He sent
word ahead that he was coming through and for all people that weren't
soldiers to get out of the town. I saw the Rebels, too; I saw them when
they stacked their arms. Looked like there was a hundred or more rifles
in each stack. They just come up and pitched them down. They had to
stack their arms and turn them over.

"I was taken to Georgia when I was four years old, you know. I recollect
when all the people came up to swear allegiance, and when they were
hurrying out to get away from Sherman's army. They fit in Atlanta and
then marched on toward Savannah. Then they crossed over into South
Carolina. They went on through Columbia and just tore it up. Then they
worked their way on back into Georgia. They didn't fight in Augusta

"Jeff Davis was captured not far from my father's place[7]. Jeff Davis
had a big army, but the biggest thing he had was about a thousand wagons
or more piled up with silver and other things belonging to the
Confederacy. He was supposed to be taking care of that. He had to turn
it over to the North."

'Shin Plasters'

"They had a kind of money right after the Civil War--paper money gotten
out by the United States Government and supposed to be good. The
Confederate money was no good but this money--these 'shin plasters' as
they were called--was good money issued by the government. They did away
with it and called it all in. You could get more for it now than it is
worth. The old green back took its place but the 'shin plaster' was in
all sizes. It wasn't just a dollar bill. It was in pinnies, five cents,
ten cents, twenty-five cents, and then they skipped on up to fifty
cents, and they didn't have nothin' more till you got to a dollar."


"I haven't had a great deal of schooling. I have had a little about in
places. Just after the emancipation, my mother died and my father
married again. My stepmother had other children and they kept me out of
my education. Since I have been grown, I have gotten a little training
here and there. Still I have served as supervisor of elections and done
other things that they wanted educated people to do. But it was just
merely a pick-up of my own. The first teachers I had were white women
from the North."


"I have never taken a great deal of interest in politics. Only in the
neighborhood where I lived there was a colony of colored people at
Bentley, South Carolina. They chose me to represent them at the polls
and I did the best I could. I got great credit for both the colored and
the white people for that. But I never took much interest in politics.

"My father spent a fortune in it but I never could see that it benefited
him. I never did care for any kind of office except a mail contract that
I had once to haul mail. I went through that successfully and never lost
a pouch or anything but at the end of the year I throwed it up. I
couldn't trust anyone else to handle it for me and I had to meet trains
at all hours. The longest I could sleep was two or three hours a night,
so I gave it up at the end of the year."

Care of Old People

"Some of the masters treated us worse than dogs and others treated us
fine. Colonel Robert Willingham freed his slaves but his sisters and
brothers wouldn't stand for it. They went and stole us off and sold us.
My mother being a thrifty colored woman and a practical nurse,
everywhere she went, a case gave thirty dollars and her board and mine.
My father paid his master three hundred dollars a year. He built these
gin houses and presses. The old man would write him passes and
everything and see that he was paid for his work. Some years, he would
make as much as three or four thousand dollars. His master collected it
and held it for him and gave it to him when he wanted it. That was
during slavery times."

Opinion of the Present

"Slavery days were hard but in the same time the colored people fared
better than now because the white folks taken up for them and they
raised what they needed to eat. You couldn't go nowhere but what people
had plenty to eat. Now they can't do it.

"I know what caused it too. The Jews didn't have much privilege till
after the Negro was emancipated. They used to kill Jews and bury them in
the woods. But after emancipation, he began to rise. First he began to
lend money on small interest. Then he started another scheme. People
used to not have sense. They went to work and got in with the Southern
white folks and got a law passed about the fences.

"The Greeks and Italians are next to the Jews. They don't make much off
the white man; they make it off the Negro. They come 'round and open up
a place and beg the niggers to come in; and when they get up a little
bit, they shut out the niggers and don't want nothin' but white folks.
It's a good thing they do, too; because if somebody didn't shut the
Negro out, he'd never have anything.

"The slaveholders were hard, but those people who come here from across
the water, they bring our trouble. You can't squeeze as much out of the
poor white as you can out of the darkey. The darkey is spending too much
now--when he can get hold of it. Everywhere you see a darkey with a
home, he's got a government mortgage on it. Some day the government will
start foreclosing and then the darkeys won't have anything, and the
biggest white man won't have much.

"A hundred years from now, they won't be any such thing as Negroes.
There will be just Americans. The white people are mixed up with Greeks,
Germans, and Italians and everything else now. There are mighty few pure
Americans now. There used to be plenty of them right after the War.

"The country can't hold out under this relief system.

"They're sending the young people to school and all like that but they
don't seem to me to have their minds on any industry. They have got to
have backing after they get educated. Now, they'll bring these
foreigners in and use them. In the majority of states now the colored
man ain't no good unless he can get some kind of trade education and can
go into some little business.

"In slavery times, a poor white man was worse off than a nigger. General
Lee said that he was fighting for the benefit of the South, but not for
slavery. He didn't believe in slavery."

Occupation and Present Support of Hopkins

"I came to Arkansas in 1886. I got married in 1885 in South Carolina. I
never had but the one wife. I have done a little railroading, worked in
machinery. I have planted one crop. Did that in 1887 but got sick and
had to sell out my crop. For forty-six years, I worked as a plumber and
piper. I worked in piping oil, gas, water, and I worked with mechanics
who didn't mind a colored man learning. They would let me learn and they
would send me out to do jobs.

"Nothing hurts me but my age. If I were younger, I could get along all
right. But the work is too heavy for me now.

"I get old age assistance from the state. They pay me eight dollars. I
have to pay four dollars for the use of this shack. So that don't leave
much for me to live on. I'm supposed to get commodities too, and I am
waiting for my order now."


[7] [HW: Jeff Davis captured May 10, 1865, outside Irwinsville, Ga.]

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Nettie Hopson
                      Helena (home--Poplar Grove), Arkansas
  Age: ?

"I don't know how old I is. I am old. I been here so long. I feel my age
now right smart. I want to do things and give out. I know I'm old. I
look old. I was born in Alabama.

"Mother was sold to Bud Walls at Holly Grove. Papa bought her and
brought us to this state. My father died seven months before I was born
my mother told me. She married ag'in. She was the mother of ten
children. We all lived and do better than we do now. Mother was light.
She worked in the field ever since I come to know 'bout things. Her name
was Martha Foster. I don't know my father's name but Foster. The rest of
the family was called Walls. Whether they wanted to be called that, they
was called Walls' niggers 'fore and after freedom both.

"My husband is living. My daughter died first day of March. It sorter
addled me."

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Molly Horn
                      Holly Grove, Arkansas
  Age: 77

"My ma and pa belong to the same white folks. I was born in North
Carolina. Ma and pa had six children. I don't know how many owners they
ever had in North Carolina. Ma and pa was named Sarah and Jad Nelson.

"When I was a baby Rubin Harriett bought me and mama. His wife was Becky
Harriett. Ma was too old to sell without me. They didn't want to sell me
but they couldn't sell her widout me. I am the baby of our family. Papa
didn't get to come to Arkansas. That parted them. After freedom her
other children came. I heard ma say how they kept papa dodged round from
the Yankees. The white folks kept him dodged round. He was a field hand.
Ma was a cook and house girl. She never did work in the field till she
come out here. She said white folks didn't whoop him; he wouldn't take
it. I don't know why they thought he wouldn't be whooped.

"I could walk when I first seed the Yankees. I run out to see em good.
Then I run back and told Miss Becky. I said, 'What is they?' She told ma
to put all us under the bed to hide us from the soldiers. One big Yankee
stepped inside and says to Miss Becky, 'You own any niggers?' She say,
'No.' Here I come outen under the bed and ask her fer bread. Then the
Yankee lieutenant cursed her. He made the other four come outen under
the bed. They all commenced to cryin' and I commenced to cry. We never
seed nobody lack him fore. We was scared to deaf of him. He talked so
loud and bad. He loaded us in a wagon. Mama too went wid him straight
to Helena. He put us in a camp and kept us. Mama cooked fer the Yankees
six or seven months. She heard em--the white soldiers--whisperin' round
bout freedom. She told em, 'You ain't goiner keep me here no longer.'
She took us walkin' back to her old master and ax him for us a home.
Then she married man on the place. He was real old. I had five half
brothers and sisters then. I was a good size girl then.

"They had run him and some more men to Texas. They went in a wagon and
walked. They made one crop there. He said fifteen or sixteen families
what belong to different owners went out there. They heard some people
talking--overheard it was free times. They picked up and left there at
night. They dodged round in the woods and traveled at night. When he got
back he made terms to work as a share cropper.

"Master, he didn't give us nuthin'. I didn't hear they would give em
anything. Truth of it was they didn't have much to keep less givin' the
niggers something. We all had little to eat and wear and a plenty wood
to burn and a house to shelter us. The work didn't slack up none. The
fences down, the outhouses had to have more boards tack on. No stock
cept a scrub or so. We had no garden seed cept what be borrowed round
and raised. Times was hard. We had biscuits bout once a week, lucky if
we got that.

"The Ku Klux got after our papa. They fixin' to kill him. He hid in the
gullies. They come to our house once or twice but I never seed em. Papa
come once or twice and took us all and hid us fore sundown. They quit
huntin' him.

"We farmed wid Mr. Hess. Mr. Herrin wouldn't let nobody bother his

"We had good times. I danced. We had candy pullings bout at the houses.
We had something every week. I used to dance in the courthouse at
Clarendon--upstairs. Paul Wiley was head music man. All colored
folks--colored fiddlers.

"I was married over fifty years. Bunt Sutton's mother helped bout my
weddin' supper. (Bunt Sutton's mother was a white woman.) She and her
family all was there. She had then two boys and two girls. Mama bought
me a pure white veil. I was dressed all in white. We had a colored
preacher to marry us. We married at night, borrowed lamps and had em
settin' about. There was a large crowd. Ann Branch was the regular
cake-cooker over the country. She cooked all my cakes. They had roast
pork and goose and all sorter pies. Then I went on to my new home on
another man's place bout one-fourth mile from mama's house. Bunt
Sutton's mama was a widow woman.

"My husband voted some but I don't pay no tention to votin'.

"I own a place but it don't do no good. My son is cripple and I can't
work. I done passed hard work now. My husband bought this place before
he died. I don't get help from nowhere.

"This is hardest times in my life. Well, education doin' a heap of good.
The papers tell you how to do more things. It makes folks happier if
they can read.

"Now I don't be bothered much wid young folks. You heard em say flies
don't bother boilin' pots ain't you? I does nough to keep me going all
the time and the young folks shuns work all they can cept jes' what it
takes for em to live on right now. Their new ways ain't no good to me."

  Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
  Person interviewed: Cora L. Horton
                      918 W. Ninth Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
  Age: Between 50 and 60?

"My grandfather on my mother's side was a slave. After my mother had
been dead for years, I went to Georgia where he was. I never had seen
him before and I would always want to see him, because I had heard my
mother speak of him being alive and he would write to her sometimes. I
said if I ever got to be grown and my grandfather stayed alive, I was
going to Georgia to see him. So the first opportunity I got I went. That
was a long time ago. If I'd waited till now he'd a been dead. He's been
dead now for years. He lived a long time after I visited him. His name
was John Crocker. He lived in Marshallville, Georgia.

"I couldn't tell how he and my mother got separated. I don't know. I
don't believe I ever heard her say. In Georgia when she was quite a
girl, I think she said some of her people left Georgia and went to
Covington, Tennessee. Some of the white people that was connected with
them in slavery were named Hollinsheds and my auntie went in that name.
That is, her husband did. My mother's name was Adelaide Crocker. She was
never a slave. Her mother was.

"My mother and father had children--twelve of them. I don't know how
many children my grandparents had. I know three uncles--William, Harmon,
and Matthew. They were all my grandmother's children and they were
Flewellens. She married a Flewellen. Those were my father's brothers. My
auntie's husband was named Dick Hollinshed. They all come from Georgia.

"It comes to me now. I remember hearing my mother say once that her
father was sold. I think she said that her father was sold from her
mother. She didn't seem to know much about it--only what she heard her
father say.

"A man came through the country when I was a girl before my mother died.
She died when I was young. He came to our house and he said he was a
relative of my mother's and he went on to tell what he knew of her folks
in slave times. By him telling so much about her folks, she thought he
really was related to her. But after he left, she found out that he was
just a fraud. He was going 'round throughout the country making it by
claiming he was related to different people. I don't know how he found
out so much about the different people he stopped with. I suppose there
was a lot of people made it that way.

"I don't know what my grandparents did in slavery time. When I did see
my grandfather, he wasn't able to do anything. He didn't live so
long after I seen him. My mother's mother was dead and he had married
another woman. I never did see my grandmother. I do remember seeing one
of my granduncles. But I was so small I don't remember how he looked.

"I used to hear my grandma say that they weren't allowed to have a
church service and that they used to go out way off and sing and pray
and they'd have to turn a pot down to keep the noise from going out. I
don't know just how they fixed the pot.

"I had one auntie named Jane Hunter. When she died, she was one hundred
and one years old. She married Rev. K. Hunter over here in North Little
Rock. She had been married twice. She was married to Dick Hollinshed the
first time. She's been dead ten years. She was thirty-eight years old
when Emancipation came. She baked the first sacrament bread for the
C. M. E. Church when it was organized in 1870.

"My grandmother lived a hundred years too. That was my father's mother.
I knew both of them. My grandmother lived with us. That is, she lived
with us a while when my mother died. She lived here a while before she
died, and then she went back to Georgia because she had a son there
named William Flewellen. He is a presiding elder in the C. M. E. church,
in Georgia.

"My father was a railroad man and when my mother did anything at all,
she worked in the field. My father farmed during the time when he was
working on the railroad.

"I have heard my grandmother talk about slaves being put on the block
and sold and then meeting way years after and not knowing one another.
She told me about a woman who was separated from her son. One day, years
after slavery, when she had married again and had a family, she and her
husband got to talking about old slave times. She told him about how she
had been sold away from her baby son when he was a little thing. She
told him how he had a certain scar on his arm. Her husband had a similar
scar and he got to talking about slave times, and they found out that
they were mother and son. He left her and went on his way sad because he
didn't want to stay on living as husband with his mother. I don't think
those people were held accountable for that, do you?"

[HW: Omit]

Interviewer's Comment

Cora Horton is the first president of the Woman's Missionary Society
composed of the societies of the three Arkansas C. M. E. Conferences.
She has been president of the Annual Conference division of the Woman's
Home Missionary Society of the Little Rock Conference for about seven
years. She visits all meetings of the General Conference and the General
Board of the C. M. E. church as well as all connectional meetings of the
Little Rock Conference, and such meetings of the Arkansas and Southwest
Conferences as relate to the discharge of her duties as president of the
State Woman's Home Missionary Society organization.

She has been president of the N. C. Cleves Club of Bullock Temple
C. M. E. Church of Little Rock for seven years and is a most active
church worker as will be seen from this comment. In her worship she
represents the traditional Negro type, but she buys the current issue of
the C. M. E. Church Discipline and is well acquainted with its
provisions relating to her specific church work as well as to all
ordinary phases of church work and administration.

There is a lot of drama in her story of the mother who unwittingly
married her son.

There is an interesting sidelight on slavery separations in this
interview. Never had it occurred to me that imposters among Negroes
might seize upon the idea of missing relatives as the basis for a
confidence scheme.

There is also an interesting sidelight on C. M. E. Church history in the
naming of Jane Hunter as the woman who baked the first sacrament bread
at the organization of that Church in 1870.

  Name of interviewer: Thomas Elmore Lucy
  Person interviewed: Laura House
                      Russellville, Arkansas
  Age: 75?

"No sir, I don't remember hearing my parents ever tell me just when I
was born, the year or the month, but it was sometime during the War. My
parents' master was named Mentor--spelled M-e-n-t-o-r. We come to Pope
County several years after the War, and I have lived here in
Russellville forty years and raised our family here. Father passed away
about fifteen years ago.

"Mother used to tell me that the master wasn't overly kind to them. I
remember she used to talk of some money being promised to them after
they were freed, but I don't know how much. But I do know that none was
ever paid to them.

"No sir, I cannot read or write.

"I have been a member of the A. M. E. Church ever since I was a little

NOTE: Mrs. House is very neat in her dress and general deportment, is
industrious, and keeps busy working here and there at odd jobs, but her
memory is very uncertain as to many important details about her

  NOV 30 1936
  Mrs. Mildred Thompson
  Mrs. Carol Graham
  El Dorado District

  _Ex-Slave--Hoodoo--Haunted Houses_

Aunt _Pinkey Howard_, an old negress of slavery days, can't "comember" her
age but she must be about 85 or 86 years old as she was about fourteen
or fifteen when the war closed. In speaking of those days Aunt Pinkie

"Oooh, chile, you ought to been there when Mr. Linktum come down to free
us. Policemen aint in it. You ought ter seen them big black bucks. Their
suits was so fine trimmed with them eagle buttons and they wuz gold too.
And their shoes shined so they hurt your eyes. I tell yo ah cant
comember my age but it's been a long time ago.

"My ole Marsa Holbrook lived at Hillsboro and he wuz a good marsta. I
never went hungry or wid out cloes in them days. Slavery days was good
old days. These days is hard days. Po' ole neeger caint git enough to
feed herself. Them days weuns made our cloth and growed our food and
never paid for it. Never did want for nothin' and Marster had heaps of
slaves. Use to bring them across Moro Bay and them neegers always
fighting and running off. They'd run off and go across Moro Bay trying
to get back home. Marsta neva went after em. Said: 'Let 'em go. Aint no
count no ways.'

"I wooden take $100 for living in slavery days and I member when they
all parted out. Mr. Linktum come down. Yasum, Mr. Abe Linktum and his
partner Horace Greeley, comed down. Lieutenants and 'Sarges' all comed.
And some big yaller buck niggers all dressed up fine. I served Mr.
Linktum myself wid my own hands. Yasum I did. I fetched cold water from
the spring on a waiter and I stood straight an held it out just like dis
in front of me. Yasum and his partner, Mr. Horace Greeley too. And them
big yaller buck niggers went in the kitchen where my mammy was cookin
and tole her: 'Git out er here nigger. You don have to wait on dese
white fokes no more.' Yasum dey did. And they done said: 'You aint got
no more marster and no more missus. Yo don' have to work here no more.'
But my mother said: 'I'se puttin old marster's victuals on to cook. Wait
till I gets em on.' An they tole her again that she didn't have no more
marster and no more missus. I tole my mammy to kick him down the step
but she said she was afeard he would shoot her. All I hates about them
'Sarges' and Lieutenants is they never did shave. Them days all wore
whiskers. I 'comember' when I was a little chap standin on the block
with my mammy and being sold. But Ah always had a good marster.

"Ah members standin on nuther block to cook. Tables wuz high to keep
nothin from draggin things off. Grandma Aiken learnt me to cook an I
stood on a block and made out biscuits with a spoon. Ah neber put my
scratchers in the dough in my life. And I could cook good too. Wuz
knowed as the drummers cook. Drummers would come through fum New Orleens
and et at ole marsters and bragged on my cookin and tried to git me ter
go wif them to New Orleans and cook fuh they wives.

"Mah fust name was Pinkie Dixon. I was married on ole mistesses front
gallery and mah name wuz Cook then. Next time ah married mah name wuz

"Ah can count but not to member hit. Ah don' know the number of my
chilluns but ah kin name em. There's Alec, Henry, Winnie, Ellen, Mary,
Gola, Seebucky, Crawford, Sarah and Ruby. Seebucky wuz named fer Sears
and Roebuck. Cause at that time weuns ordered things fum them and
ordered Seebuckys clo'es fore she cum fum thar. That why we named 'er

"Ah deednt git no book larnin. Ah larnt enough to keep out of devilment
and ah knowed how to cook. Now these fools aroun here don' know nothin.
They never did see Linktum or Horace Greeley. Ah wishes it wuz work time
agin but ah caint hold out now."

"Ah never gits hot nor cold lak yo does. Ah takes mah cold bath ever
mornin and ah feels good."

Thus old aunt Pinkey rambled on and on talking of this and that and
especially the good days--slavery days. She evidently thought that some
of the army officers were Lincoln and Greeley. She probably heard her
master or mistress talk about these men and got them confused with the
army officers who visited in the home.

_Old Marion Johnson_ was seven years old when the war closed. Is 79 now.
"Chillun let me tell you ah don want to go over what I done been over.
Not agin. In slavery days we had plenty to eat and plenty to wear but
since then Oh, Lordy. My old Mawster's name was Alex Anderson and he
lived in Jackson Parrish, Louisiana. Yuh say youh wants me to tell you
some tales about ole times, ghostes and the like. Well ah sure can if ah
gits started but somehow I jest don' seem wound up this mawnin.

"One time there was a man what had a house full of daughters and his
girl Janie wanted to git married. Her lover asked her father's
permission to wed. He said: 'Well Mr. have you got any objection to me
and your daughter Janie maryin'?' The old man didn't want the young one
to see how anxious he was to get rid of his daughter so he said: 'You
wantin to marry my daughter, Janie? Janie don't want ter git married.'
The girl was behind the door listening and when her father said that she
spoke up and said: 'Yes I do pappa, bad.' The young man said: 'See there
now we both wants to git married.' The ole man spoke then and said:
'Well, damn you, dash you take her.'

"You know what the clocks says? The big old mantle clocks we used to
have ticked along real slow and they said: 'Take your time. Take your
time. Take your time.' The little alarm clocks of today say: 'Get
together. Get together. Get together.' And that is jes like the young
folks. When I was young the young folks them days young folks took their
time and went together a long time and they married they stayed married.
The young folks today rush around and get married in a week and fust
thing you knows they is done duvoced and married agin. They is jest as
diffunt as the clocks is diffunt.

"You knows if you makes up yo mind to do somethin and asks the Lord to
help you he will. I was comin along that path in June 12 years ago. I
chewed Brown Mule tobacco and wanted a chaw. I had been plowing all day
and when I pulled the tobacco outen my pocket it was wet where I had
sweated on hit and the outer leaves wuz all curled up so I said 'Lord
help me' and throwed it out in the weeds and havn't taken a chew since.

"Youns notice how the younguns cuss this day. The womens too. In the
olden days the women didn't cuss out loud but they did 'wooden cussin.'
Now I bet you girls is done wooden cussin lots o times. Loose your
temper and want to say things and don't dare so you slams chairs around
on the floor when you is movin them to sweep. That is wooden cussin.

"You says you is interested in buried treasure? Well near Strong where
the CCC Camp is was a place of buried treasure. Madam Hartline and three
other white folks and myself went down there in a car. With a finding
rod (divining rod) we located the treasure. Then I took this here
proving rod you sees here and drove it down in the groun till hit struck
somethin hard. A voice from somewhere said: 'What you all doing here?
What you after?' Ever body lit a shuck to the car and nobody ever did go
back to see about the treasure. You says why did I run? Dese feets wuz
made to take care of this body and I used em is all.

"When ah was a young man and livin down in Louisiana below Farmerville
ah went with a bunch of white fellows to dig fer buried gold. They
didn't begin diggin until after dark. Six men were on guard. We dug by a
light made by a big pine torch. Dug and dug and dug. Finally we struck
hit. Got hit all uncovered and sure nuff there hit was. Jest then the
torch blew out and we heard the quarest noises and ever' body run to
camp. Hit jest poured down rain that night and the next mornin, we went
back to get the money and hit was gone.

"And you says you is interested in spooks and ghosties. Down in
Louisiana Dr. Fred Hodge (white) had me to hitch up his buggy and go
with him on my horse to make a call many miles away from home one night.
Hit must have ben bout nineteen miles. I was ter go on some other place
with him but the patient was so bad that he had ter stay and sent me on
in the buggy an kept my horse to ride back. I was glad to git the buggy
sos I could take my gal for a ride. The doctor stayed till bout four
o'clock in the mornin. He had to go home by a graveyard. There was a big
white oak tree growin by the side of the road and when the doctor passed
there every limb fell off the tree and left the naked tree standin
there. The doctor rode back to the house where he had been and he rode
so fast that the horse was winded when he got there. The man went on
back with him and there stood the tree just as hit was before ever a
limb fell ofn it.

"Nother man I knew went to town on horseback and bought a bolt of
domestic for his wife and tied it on the back of his saddle. He had to
pass a cemetery. Jest as he passed he noticed a flapping sound and
looked back to see sumpin white wavin behind. He whipped his horse and
made him run and the faster he ran the more the flapping sounded and it
got longer and longer behind him. At last he got home and found that the
domestic had got unwrapped and was flappin in the wind. The man was
plumb weak and the horse died he had run him so hard.

"An talk of hainted houses. This here one that ahm livin in is hainted.
Frank Thompson a yaller nigger died here before me and mah wife moved
here. Before mah wife died, weuns would hear things and mah wife said
hit was Frank Thompson come back. We would be in bed and would hear
fokes walkin aroun and the door would come unlatched and come open. Mah
wife would say that hit wes Frank Thompson's sperit come back and as
soon as he got through ramblin aroun she would git up and bolt the door
agin. One Satiday night me and her went to town. On our way back as we
wuz comin acrost that little ditch out thar she said to me step aside
Marion and let Frank Thompson pass. Don' you see him comin? And we
stepped aside an she said he passed and we come on home. Ah hears him
now at times walkin aroun and goin in and out the doors but ah aint
never done seen him like she has.

"Now ah'll tell you about a curious happenin'. One time down in
Louisiana a brown skin girl died. When they started to the graveyard
with her the sun was shinin as purty as hit is right now they lowered
the coffin in the grave and it 'come-inced' to rain hard and ever'body
run in the church and stayed till it quit raining. The rain stood in
holes and puddles and ever'body expected the grave to be full but when
we went out there was not a bit of water in the grave. How come if it
wasn't hoodooed?

"Ah jes aint wound up right this mawnin to tell youns what you wants to
know but if you all will come back ahm sure ah can member some more ah

And Uncle Marion kept working with the chair in which he was weaving a
new bottom of white-oak splits. Before we left he showed us baskets that
he had woven.

Old _Della Benton_ can neither read nor write and doesn't know
her age she must be near seventy. Della was my washwoman several years
ago and I remembered hearing her tell something about hoodoes
so we went to see Della to get all we could about it.

"Honey don' you know that if you make a hole in a tree and put a hair
from the head of the person you want to hoodoo in the tree and seal it
up in there the person will go crazy. Yas mam and ifn you puts pins and
needles in with the hair before you seals the hole they will die. Why my
neighbor _Angelina Thompson_ was hoodood by a woman and Ah'll jest take
you all ovah and let her tell you for herself.

"And ifn you all wants to drive somebody away fum home sos they'll nevah
come back take one of their hairs and put hit in a steam of runnin water
so hit'll run off and they will leave home and nevah come back.

"An somebody can git your track and run you slam crazy. Yasum they kin
too. Where you steps in the clay or mud they gits hit and takes hit up
with sumpin and does things to you and you goes crazy.

"Now you chillun come with me ovah to Sister Thompson's and she kin tell
you fer herself what was done done to her when she wuz hoodooed."

We went to a nearby house and Della called Angelina out. She told us
that she was truly hoodoed and what she said was as follows:

"Sister Thompson tell these ladies about bein hoodooed. Oh they is
alright. This is some of my white folks I used to work fuh long time

Then Angelina told the following:

"Yasum, I sholey wuz hoodooed. How hit come about I loaned my clothes to
a woman. A dress and shoes. She put something on them that looked like
snuff. It was brown lookin and I jes though she had spilled snuff on em.
That wuz 18 years ago and she done hit outa jealousy. She wanted my ole
man and she thought she would hoodoo me and ahd die and she'd get him.
And she woulda too ifn hit hadn a been for Mother Dye. You all know
she's a doodoo doctor who lived at Newport. An I went to her fer bout
two years and she cured me. Mother Dye is daid now but Jess Rogers, a
man thar does the docterin now.

"You all ask how hit fected me when ah was hoodooed. I tole you bout the
brown stuff bein in my shoes and on mah dress. Well ah put em on and in
a little while mah feet itched lak an could claw the bones out. Ah nevah
was in such misery. Then ah tuk somethin like the dry rot. The meat
come off my fingers and toes. Jest look at them scars. And look at these
scars in mah hair. See how mah haid is all scarred up. At times ah had a
mind that ah wanted to go and didn' know where. They had to watch me all
the time. But ole Mother Dye cured me and that woman didn' git mah ole
man aftah all."

Della and Angelina talked among themselves for a moment and Della said
"Ah believe ah will." Then she said: "Does you all know Phil Green? He
lives about two miles and a half down the Junction City Highway and he
is a hoodoo man. He can tell you all things efn you all cares to go ahll
go with you. He can tell you what is gwianter happen and what has
happened and he can hoodoo." Of course we were in for going right then
while we had a car so Della crawled in the back seat and we were away to
Phil Green's. Went out the highway about two miles and turned off on a
country road. Up hill and down, around this field and that and through a
big gate, winding around through a field and orchard. At last we
arrived. _Phil Green_ looked to be a prosperous farmer. We drove up to the
back of the house and around front. Some negro had just killed a chicken
for dinner. Several cars were parked in the yard. One bore a Louisiana
license. The porch was full of negroes. Della called and asked if Phil
was there. They replied that he was but that he was busy. Della said,
"We wants to see him" and a black negro woman came out to the car. My,
but she was furious. We had never seen a negro so angry before. The
first thing she did was to tell us that they didn't serve white people
but the way she expressed it was a scream she said: "We don' use white
people. No suh! We don' use em. Hits too dangerous. Ah don't care who
tole you Phil used white people. He don'. He is may husban and ah won't
let him."

We soon pacified her by telling her that we appreciated her point of
view and that it was perfectly alright with us. Della crawled out of the
car right now and said: "You all knows the way back to town don' you?
Ah's going ter stay."

The next morning we went back to Della's. She told us that the people on
Phil's front porch were from Marion Louisiana and they had come to get
him to tell them how to get one of the men of the family out of the
penitentiary. She apologized for taking us out there and declared that
she believed that he once served white people.

Aunt _Dilcie Raborn_ and all her family declared that she would be a
hundred this August. She is an ex-slave and Mr. John Wright of Louisiana
was her master.

"Yas'm chillun I'se a hunnerd years ole. Ah was one of the las' young
niggers on marster's plantation. Mah job was nusin the chillun. Ole
Marster's father was livin in them days and he fought in the Resolution
War. Yasum he did. He was rail old and my mother chawed fer him jes like
she did fer her baby. I'se seen more hardness since I got old than ah
ever did in mah life. Slavery wuz the easiest time of all. Mah muthas
name was Charity and she wuz the family cook, yasum an ah wuz the nuss
girl. I tuk care of the chilluns. Ole marster's wife lost her mind and
they had to watch her all the time. Did you ask they send her to the
sylum? No man Thar warn't no sylums in them days and anyway ole marster
had plenty of niggers to wait on her and take care of her and watch her
sos she wouldn't git out and git hurt. She did slip out one time and ah
was totin the flour from mill from the gate to the kitchen and she
grabbed hit away fum me and throwed hit all ovah me and rubbed hit in
mah face good and then laughed at me. Then she run and got in the creek
and set down in the watah and the niggas had to git in thar and git her
out. Hit made her sick and old marster sho did git them niggers fer
lettin her git out.

"I sho wish all times could be slavery times. Ah had everything nice

"I had some chillun. Ah cant count em but ah can name em. Joe, Habe,
Abram, Billy, Johnny, Charity and Caline. Ah makes mah home here with
Charity, she is mah baby chile and she is fifty.

"You asks is ah afeard of haints? Ah'v never taken no frightment off'n
em. Ah'v lived in houses other folks couldn't live in but ah'v never
lived that way that I had to run from haints.

"Ah lived jes like a millionaire when ah lived in slavery times, seed
more hardness since I got old than I ever did in mah life."

Then we left aunt Dilcie with her snuff and went to find _Aunt
Jane Carter_.

After rambling around in Rock Island quarters we at last found Jane
Carter. She was living with her grand daughter and was sitting out in
the yard with a bunch of her great-grand-children. She was so deaf that
we were not able to talk to her, much to our disappointment. The
granddaughter told us that she was 106 years old and that Mrs. Roscoe
Taunton's granfather was Jane's old master.

We later saw Mrs. Taunton and she told us that Jane had belonged to her
grandfather Stephen Manning and was her mother's nurse. Jane was grown
when Mrs. Taunton's mother was born.

We were told about _old Bill_ who lives in Barton Quarters and went to
find her. She was sitting out on the porch of her cabin and we sat on
the edge of the porch much to the dismay of Bill who could not walk
because of a sore foot which she told us was caused by the bite of a
rattlesnake years ago in slavery time.

"Ah don' want mah white folks to sit on the floo'. Honey go in dah and
git dat sheet and spred hit on the floo'. Ole Bill would go herself efn
she could walk. Honey you all is gwianter git blistered out in de sun
like you is widout no hats on. Don you all know you had orter take keer
of thet purty white skin of yourn? My ole missus never would git
out in the sun widout somethin on her haid. Ole Mawster thought she was
purty and she aimed to stay purty.

"You all says you wants ter heah ole Bill tell about slavery days, lawsy
chillun Ah pray ter God ah'll be with mah white chillun agin and play
mah harp with em. We'll have plenty to eat and plenty to wear jes as we
did when we had our good mawster in slavery days. Marster's grown son
used to say: 'Bill she's ruint to death.' Why I used ter git my young
mistesses dresses and put em on and git out in the yard and flounce and
flip. The young mistess would scole me but young marster would say
'Leave Bill erlone, ah lack to see her dance. Dance some moah Bill.' Mah
white folks use ter teach me. Now when white folks taugh me ahm a nigger
done taughted.

"Honey ah jes don' like ter see mah white folks sit on the floo' ah
wishes ole Bill cud foch some cheers fer yo all ter set on.

"How ole is ah? Ah jes don' member but ah's powerful ole.

"Yas'm ah' wuz nurse girl for marsters chillun. I nevah had ter wuk hard
a tall, all ah had ter do was play wid the chillun and take keer of em.
Oncet a circus show comed thru and mawster bought a rattle snake fum em
fer a pet. Hit nevah did have hits teeth pulled (fangs). Hit wuz a plum
pet too, allus followin us about. We would have to knock hit back outn
de way sometimes. One time ah wuz comin down de stairs wid a chile in
each arm and de snake wuz crawlin erlong sides me. Jest as we got ter
the bottom hit crawled roun front of me and ah didn see hit cause of
havin the chillun in mah arms and ah stepped slambang on that snake an
hit turnt aroun and bit mah foot. Ah nevah drapped them chillun though.
My ole man said ifn hit had been him he'd a throwd them chillun down and
run but not ole Bill. Marster and Mistess trusted Bill to take keer of
them chillun and ole Bill sho did take keer of em. But mah foot nigh
bout kilt me and thet foot is whut is the mattah wid me terday.

"You ask haint ah got no folks? No'm. Ah nevah had but one youngun and
hit died wid the croup. The man next doo' owns this heah house and lets
ole Bill live heah. The guvment lady send me a check ever' month
(pension) and Joe Lyons gits hit and fetches hit out ter me.

"You ask does ah know erbout any hainted houses? No'm when ah fin's a
house is hainted ah aint gwian in. No'm not ole Bill. But sumpin
happened not long ergo that give me a big fright. Hit waz long bout dusk
ah seed two women, white as anybody gwian down de road and when they got
along thar they quit the road and come aroun the path. Ah said: 'Howdy'
and they never even speak jus kep' a goin'. Ah say: 'Whar is you all a
goin' and they nevah say a word. Then ah say to em: 'Won't you
all come by and set with ole Bill a while.' An still they nevah say
nothin. Jus kep' on a goin' roun' that house and down the road. Then ah
got skeered and went in the house an ah doan set out late no moah. Efn
them ghost had uh come in th house ah would a gone undah the house.

"You all chillun ain goin is you? Come back ter see ole Bill. Ah sholey
hates to have mah white folks sit on the floor but mebby ole Bill's foot
will be bettuh next time an she can git her white fokes some cheers."

Aunt _Sally Fields_ said to be 106 years old lived in Mack Quarters about
two and a half or three miles south of El Dorado. She is blind and
lives with Hattie Moseley. During slavery days she belonged to the
Patterson family and came with them from Alabama to Louisiana and later
to Caledonia where she was living at the close of the Civil War. Her
mind was wandering to such an extent that we could not get very much
from her and when asked about slavery times she said:

"Slavery time is gone. The stars are passed. The white folks that raised
me said: 'I want you all to get up in the morning and tell me about the
stars.' Oh Lordy! The stars fell. Ole Missus would come say: 'Ah want to
be standing up behind the door. Ah don' want to be buried.' My ole
missus was good to all the niggers.

"There was a big spring on marsters plantation. When we would start to
the spring mistress would say: 'Don't go on the left hand side of the
spring, go up the right hand side to the chinquapin tree.'"

It took Sally about twenty minutes to say that much so we didn't stay

  Interviewer: Carol Graham
  Person Interviewed: Pinkie Howard (Add)
                      El Dorado, Ark.
  Age: ?

"Mornin', honey! Here you is to see Aunt Pinkie again. What did you
bring me? Didn't you bring old Aunt Pinkie somethin' good to eat?

"Lawsy, honey, its been so long I can't member much bout plantation
days. But I members the children on the plantation would ring up and
play ring games. And we used to have the best things to eat back in them
days. We used to take taters and grate them and make tater pudding. Made
it in ovens. Made corn bread and light bread in ovens too and I used to
bake the best biscuits anybody ever et and I didn't put my scratchers in
them neither. Old Miss taught me how. And we had lasses pone corn bread
and them good old tater biscuits. We used to eat parched corn, and
cornmeal dumplings was all the go back there.

"I worked all my life and hard, too, but I still is a pretty good old

"He! He! He! Look at that black boy passing, will you? Them brichie legs
is half way his thighs. He needs to put sugar in his shoes to sweet talk
his brichie legs down. And did you notice he didn't speak to old Aunt
Pinkie. Young folks ain't got no manners these days. Now when I was
young back there on that plantation at Hillsboro old Miss Aiken taught
all her niggers manners. She would say to us, 'Now, you all don' clean
your noses, or years, or fingernails before folks; it's ill manners.
And don' make no 'marks bout folks. Don' eat onions and go out in
company, if you does, eat coffee to kill the taste. Don't talk with yo'
mouth full of sumpin' to eat; that ill manners too. Don' eat too fast
cause you is liable to git strangled. And don' wear yo' welcome out by
staying too long.'

"Ain't it warm and nice today missy? Jus like a spring day. An see that
bee after my flower? Wasn't it a bee? You know, bees used to swarm in
the springtime back on the plantation. The way they would catch em was
to ring a bell or beat on a old plow and keep beatin' and ringin' till
they settled on a tree limb. Then they made a bee gum and covered it and
left a hole at the bottom of the gum for them to go in and out, then
they sawed the limb off and put the bees in the gum and put some
sweetened water made from molasses so they can start to makin' honey.
Sometimes the bees would sting some of us and we would put a little
snuff on it and cure it right up."

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Josephine Howell
                      Brinkley, Arkansas
  Age: 72

"My mother was Rebecca Jones. She was born in Nashville, Tennessee.
Grandma was a cook and a breeding woman. The Jones thought she was very
valuable. They prized her high. She was the mother of twenty-one
children. Mother was more than half Indian. She was bright color. The
Jones wanted to keep her, thought she would be a fine cook and house
woman and a fine breeder. She had such a terrible temper they sold her
to McAlways, some of their relations close to Augusta, Arkansas.

"Mama said she was eight years old when Gabe McAlway come to Nashville,
Tennessee and got her. He bought her. He was a young man and a
saloon-keeper at Augusta, Arkansas. He put her out on the farm at his
father's. She was a field hand. She was part African and a whole lot
Indian. She was fractious and high tempered. The old man McAlway and the
overseers would drop her clothes down in the field before all the hands
and whoop her. Gabe never even slapped her. His aunt Mrs. Jones didn't
want them to put her in the field. She wanted to keep her but couldn't
she was so fractious, and she didn't know how bad old man treated her.

"When mother was sold she was brought from twenty brothers and her
mother and never saw none of them no more. She left them at Wolf River.
They took the boat. Wolf River is close to Memphis. They must have
brought them that far but I don't know. This is what all she told me
minua and minua time. Her own papa bought her when she was eight years
old, Gabe McAlway. When she got to be a young maid he forced motherhood
up on her. I was born before freedom. How old I am I don't know. Gabe
McAlway was sort of a young bachelor. He got killed in the Civil War. He
was a Scotch-Irishman. I never seen my father.

"Mother married then and had five children. She lived in the back yard
of Mrs. Will Thompson. Dr. Goodridge stopped her from having children,
she raved wild. She had such a bad fractious temper. She suckled both
Mrs. Will Thompson's children, old man Nathan McGreggor's grandchildren.
She lived in Mrs. Thompson's back yard but she slept in their house to
help with the babies.

"Judge Milwee's wife and auntie, Mrs. Baxter, raised me from a baby
(infant). Judge Milwee was in Brinkley but he moved to Little Rock. Them
is my own dear white folks. Honey, I can't help but love them, they part
of me. They raised me. They learned me how to do everything.

"My son live with me and I raising my little great-grandson. We can't
throw him away. My baby's mother is way off in St. Louis. He is three
years old.

"Mother never talked much about slavery other than I have told you. She
said during of the War women split and sawed rails and laid fences all
winter like men. Food got scarce. They sent milk to the soldiers. Meat
was scarce. After she was free she went on like she had been living at
John McAlway's. She said she didn't know how to start doing for herself.

"Some of our young generation is all right and some of them is too
thoughtless. Times is too fast. Folks is shortening their days by fast
living. Hurting their own bodies. Forty years ago folks lived like we
ought to be living now."

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Pauline Howell Nickname Pearl
                      Brinkley, Arkansas
  Age: 65 or 70?

"I was born in Paris, Tennessee and come to Arkansas when I was a child.
I don't know how old I am but my mama knowed 'bout when I was born. It
warnt long after the war. I past sixty-five and it is nearer seventy
from what she said. She ain't been dead long. She was about a hundred
years old. I. C. switch killed her. She was going cross there to Fisher
Body and the switch engine struck her head. She dropped something and
stooped to pick it up or the engine wouldn't touched her. She lived in

"She was born at Oaks, Tennessee. She took me down to see the cabin
locks where she was born. They had rotted down and somebody lived in the
big house. It had gone to rack then pretty bad. My father's master was
George Harris. He was Governor of Tennessee. My mother's mistress at
Oaks was Miss Ann LaGuion (or maybe Gwion). I never heard her husband's
name. They had several farms and on each farm was the cabin locks
(little houses all in a row or two rows). The houses was exactly alike.
Grandma cooked for the white folks and mama nursed. The baby was a big
fat heavy sort, a boy, and it was so heavy she couldn't hardly pick it
up. She had to carry it around all day long. When night come she was
wore out. There was several of them. When she go to their houses in
Memphis they honor her. They take her down town and buy her shoes and
dresses. Buy her whatever she say she want. They say they was proud of
her. She was a little black guinea woman (low and stocky). Not long go
Mr. (_white man_) in Brinkley asked me when my ma coming back here. Said
he ain't seed her for so long. I tole him she was dead. He said he have
to go tell Mrs. ____ (his wife). She come out here and stay and piece
quilts. She sewed so nice. Made pretty little stitches. She'd take the
most time and pains fixing the pieces together to look pretty. She'd set
there and sew and me over there and tell me bout how she was raised and
I'd cry. Cry cause she had so hard a time when she was a girl.

"The old master sent my father to Liverpool, England to bury his money.
He was his own son anyhow. Sent him with his money to keep the Yankees
from taking it. My aunt, my father and Uncle Jesse all his own children.
Course old mistress love them little children like her own. She couldn't
help herself.

"Mariah Steed went in Governor Harrises name after freedom. So did
Randall Travis Harris.

"My mama said she was never sold but her sister and her children were.
She was put upon the auction stile and all her little children. A man in
Mobile, Alabama bought her. They never did see nor hear tell of her no
more. The reason they sold her was she killed two men overseers. They
couldn't manage her. The last one was whipping her with a black snake
whip and she grabbed him. Grabbed his privates and pulled 'em out by the
roots. That the way she killed both the overseers. Cause she knowed that
was show death. My mama said that was the nicest little soft man--the
last man she killed. She said he just clum the walls in so much misery
that night.

"She said they would whisper after they go to bed. They used pine
torches for lights. They had to cover up the fire--cover up fire in the
ashes so it be coals to kindle a fire in the morning--put out the light
pretty early. Old master come stand round outside see if they all gone
to bed.

"When freedom--my mama said old master called all of 'em to his house
and he said: 'You all free, we ain't got nothing to do wid you no more.
Go on away. We don't whoop you no more, go on your way.' My mama said
they go on off then they come back and stand around jess lookin' at him
an' old mistress. They give 'em something to eat and he say: 'Go on
away, you don't belong to us no more you been freed.'

"They go way and they kept coming back. They didn't have no place to go
and nothing to eat. From what she said they had a terrible time. She
said it was bad times. Some took sick and had no 'tention and died.
Seemed like it was four or five years before they got to places they
could live. They all got scattered.

"She said they did expect something from freedom but the only thing old
master give Jesse was a horse and bridle and saddle. It was new. Old
master every time they go back say: 'You all go on away. You been set
free. You have to look out for your selves now.'

"The only way I know this is I remembers from hearin' my dear old mama
tell me when she come here to see me. I was too little. I guess I wasn't
born till two or three years, maybe longer than that, after freedom.

"After my son died here I get $2.50 a month, just my house rent. I work
out when I can get something to do. Work is so scarce I hardly get a

"If you could see my brother in Little Rock he could tell you a heap he
remembers. He is white headed, keeps his hair cut close and goes dressed
up all the time. They say he is a good old man. He does public work in
Little Rock. Henry Travis is his son. His phone is 4-5353. His street is
3106 Arch. My brother is really born a slave, I ain't. Ask for E. K.
Travis, that is his name. He can tell you bout all you want to know."

  JAN 29 1938
  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Molly Hudgens
                      DeValls Bluff, Arkansas
  Age: Born in 1868

"I was born in Clarendon in 1868. My mother was sold to Judge Allen at
Bihalia, N. C. and brought to Arkansas. The Cunninghams brought father
from Tennessee when they moved to this State. His mother died when he
was three months old and the white mistress had a baby three weeks older
en him so she raised my father. She nursed him with Gus Cunningham. My
father had us call them Grandma, Aunt Indiana, and Aunt Imogene.

"When I was seven or eight years old I went to see them at Roe. When I
first come to know how things was, father had bought a place--home and
piece of land west of Clarendon and across the river. I don't know if
the Cunninghams ever give him some land or a mule or cow or not. He
never said. His owner was Moster John Henry Cunningham.

"My father was a medium light man but not as light as I am. My mother
was lighter than I am. I heard her say her mother did the sewing for all
on her owner's place in North Carolina. My mother was a house girl. The
reason she was put up to be sold she was hired out and they put her in
the field to work. A dispute rose over her some way so her owner sold
her when she was eighteen years old. Her mother was crying and begging
them not to sell her but it didn't do no good she said. After the war
was over she got somebody to write back and ask about her people. She
got word about her sister and aunt and uncle. She never seen none of
them after she was sold. Never did see a one of her people again. She
was sold to Judge Allen for a house girl. His wife was dead. My mother
sewed at Judge Allen's and raised two little colored children he bought
somewhere cheap. He had a nephew that lived with him.

"Mr. Felix Allen and some other of his kin folks, one of them made me
call him 'Tuscumby Bob.' I said it funny and they would laugh at me.
Judge Allen went to Memphis and come home and took smallpox and died. I
heard my mother say she seen him crying, sitting out under a tree. He
said he recken he would give smallpox to all the colored folks on his
place. Some of them took smallpox.

"We have been good living colored folks, had a right smart. I farmed,
cooked, sewed a little along. I washed. I been living in DeValls Bluff
38 years. I got down and they put me on the relief. Seems I can't get
back to going agin.

"Don't get me started on this young generation. I don't want to start
talking about how they do. Times is right smartly changed somehow.
Everybody is in a hurry to do something and it turns out they don't do
nuthin'. Times is all in a stir it seem like to me.

"I don't vote. I get $8 and demodities and I make the rest of my

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Charlie Huff
                      Brinkley, Arkansas
  Age: Born 1864

"I was born close to Charlotte, North Carolina. Alex Huff owned my
parents and me. My pa was a dark man. He was named Alex Huff too. Ma was
named Sarah Huff. She was ginger cake color they called it. Both her
parents was part Creek Indian. I seen the block at Richmond, Virginia
where they sold pa. They kept him three weeks away from me before he was
sold. They sold him at the last of slavery for $1,500. Ma never seen him
no more. After freedom she brought me and immigrated to Arkansas. My
sister wouldn't come, she was fixing to marry. We come on the train,
paid our own way. We heard it was a fine country and ma heard somebody
out here bought pa. We kept inquiring till after she died. I heard where
he was. I went to see him. He told me what I told you. He was sold and
brought to Louisiana. He was a cross-eyed man and named Alex the best
way I found him. My ma never was sold as she remembered.

"Master Alex Huff owned a turpentine factory and pa worked at it. Ma
washed and cooked. Master Alex Huff raised Palmer Christy beans. I think
he sold the seed to keep moles out of the land. Moles was bad in new
cleared land. When they found a mole hill they opened it and put in a
few beans so the mole would eat them and die. He sold the beans.

"The Ku Klux never bothered us.

"We come to Arkansas as soon as we could after freedom. We wanted to
find pa. When we first come I worked on a steamboat, then I mined at
Pratt City, Tennessee--coal mines--a year and a half. Then for
forty-five years I worked on the railroad section as a hand. I made two
crops in all my life. The first year I did fine and not so bad the next.
But since three years ago I had these two strokes. I am here and not
able to work. My wife draws $12 from the Welfare Order.

"It has been a long time since I voted. I voted last time for President
McKinley. I didn't like the strict franchise laws."

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Louvenia Huff
                      Brinkley, Arkansas
  Age: 64

"I was born third year after the surrender. There was thirteen children
in my family when I was a child. We was different sizes and the grown
children helped look after the little ones. My parents was field hands.
My parents belong to Dr. Hatch. He lived in Aberdeen, Mississippi. We
lived in the country on his place. He had five or six children. Ben and
Needham come out to the farm. He was an old man and we stayed on the
son's place--same place--till I come to Arkansas. We come in 1885. We
heard it was a better country and open stock range. Dr. Hatch was very
good to my folks.

"I don't think the Ku Klux bothered my folks but we was afraid of them.

"My father voted a Republican ticket. I never voted.

"My grandmother was real light skin. Mother was mixed with white. She
told us she was sold away from her mother when she was a little bitter
of a girl and never seen her no more till she was the mother of six
children. They didn't know one another when they met. Her mother knowed
who bought her and after freedom she kept asking about her and finally
heard where she was and come to her. There was no selling place at
Aberdeen so I don't know where she was bought. Dr. Hatch lived to be an
old man. He owned a lot of slaves and lots of land.

"Father's old master was Whitfield. He sold him to Dr. Hatch when he was
a young man. Father was a driver in the Civil War. He hauled soldiers
and dumped them in the river. The Union soldiers wouldn't give them time
to bury the other side. He took rations all but the times he hauled dead
soldiers. He got shot in his arm above the wrist. He died before they
give him a pension. He was a Union soldier. He talked a lot but that is
all I can tell straight. I don't know if he mustered out or not.

"I worked in the field, wash, iron, and cooked. We get $12 from the
Welfare. My husband had two strokes. He has been sick three years.

"My parents' name Simpson Hatch and Jacob Hatch. They had thirteen

  Interviewer: Mary D. Hudgins
  Person Interviewed: Mrs. Anna Huggins
  Home: Pleasant at John Street.

"Miss Huggins? (pronounced hew--gins) Yes, ma'am she lives here. Oh Miss
Huggins, Miss Huggins. They's somebody to see you."

The interviewer had approached an open door of an "L" kitchen attached
to a "shot gun house". Thru the dining room and a bed room she was
conducted to the front bedroom. This was furnished simply but with a
good deal of elaboration. The bed was gay with brightly colored pillows.
Most of them had petal pillow tops made from brilliant crepe paper
touched with silver and guilt. The room was evidently not occupied by
Mrs. Huggins herself for late in the interview a colored girl entered
the room. "Do you want your room now?" Mrs. Huggins inquired. "No
indeed, there's lots of time," the girl replied politely. But the
interviewer managed to terminate the interview quickly.

"So you knew Fanny McCarty. Well, well, so you knew Fanny. I don't know
when I've heard anybody speak about her. She's not so much on looks, but
Fanny is a good little woman, a mighty good little woman. She's up in
Michigan. You know she worked at one of the big hotels here--the Eastman
it was. When they closed in the summer they sent her up to the big hotel
on Mackinac. For a while she was here in the winter and up there for the
summer season. Then she stayed on up there.

"You say she worked for you when you were a little girl? Before the fire
of 1913? Now, I remember, you were just a little girl and you used to
come over to my house sometimes with her. I remember." (A delighted
smile.) "Now I remember.

"No, I don't remember very much about the war. It is mostly what I heard
the older ones say. My grandmother used to tell me a lot about it. I was
just a little thing in my mother's arms when the war was over. Guess I
was about four years old. We lived in St. Francis County and as soon as
we were free pappa sent for us. He sent for us to come by boat to where
he was. We went to Helena. I remember they were all lined up--the
colored soldiers were. But I knew pappa. They all wondered how, hadn't
seen him in a long time. But I picked him out of all the line of men and
I said, 'There's my pappa.' Yes, my pappa was a soldier in the war. He
was gone from home most of the time. I only saw him once in a while.

"My grandmother told me lots of things about slavery. She was born a free
girl. But when she was just a little girl somebody stole her and brought
her to Arkansas and sold her. No, from the things they told
me--especially grandmother--they weren't very good to them. Lots of
times I've gone down on my knees to my grandmother to hear her tell
about how mean they were to them.

"I'd say to her, 'Grandmother, why didn't you fight back?' 'You couldn't
fight back,' she said, 'you just had to take it.' 'I wouldn't,' I said,
'I wouldn't take it.' Guess there's too much Indian blood in me. A white
person never struck me but once. I was a girl--not so very big and I was
taking care of a white lady's little girl. She and a friend of hers were
talking and I sneaked up to the door and tried to listen to what they
were saying. She caught me and she scolded me--she struck at me with her
fan--it was just a light tap, but it made me mad. I fought her and I ran
off home, she came to get me too. I never would have gone back
otherways. She said she never did see a girl better with children.

"I remember my grandmother telling about once when she was cooking in the
kitchen, her back was turned and an old hound dog got in and started to
take the chicken which was on the table. He had even got part of it in
his mouth. But she turned and saw him--she choked the dog--and choked
him until she choked the chicken out of him. You can see she must have
been pretty scared to be afraid to let them know the chicken had been
tampered with. Then we always thought my mother's death was caused by
her being beat by an overseer--she caused that overseer's death, she got
him while he was beating her. They had to hide her out to save her
life--but a long time afterwards she died--we always laid it to that
hard beating.

"We lived in Helena after the war. My father was the marrying kind. He
was a wild marrying man. He had lots of wives. But Mother and
grandmother wouldn't let us call them Mother--she made us call them
Aunt. It really was my grandmother who reared me. She was a good cook,
had good jobs all the time.

"When I grew up I married. Mr. Huggins was a bar tender in a saloon. He
made good money. We had a good home and I took care of the home. I had
it mighty easy. Then one day he fell in the floor paralyzed. I brought
him to Hot Springs. That was back in 1905. We stayed on and he lived for
18 years.

"I got a house there and I kept roomers. That was where Fanny stayed with
me. It was at 311 Pleasant. You remember the place, tho. When I was
young, I had it easy. But now I'm old and I don't have it so well. A few
years ago I was out in California on a visit. There was a man shining up
to me and I wrote my niece 'What would you think if your aunty married?'
'Law,' she wrote back to me, 'you've lived by yourself so long now, you
couldn't stand a man.' Maybe she was right."

(At this point the girl passed into the room.) "Look Maggie! three
pretty handkerchiefs. Miss Hudgins brought them. And I was just writing
to my sister--my half sister today, I didn't even expect to much as a
handkerchief for Christmas. And my initials embroidered on them two. One
with A on it and two with H. I'm really proud of them.

"I'm going to write to Fanny to tell her about your coming to see me.
She'll be so glad to know about you. I'll tell her about the
handkerchiefs. You know, for a while Fanny had it pretty hard while she
was here. She stayed at my house and I kept her for a long time without
pay. I knew Fanny was a good girl and that when she got work she would
pay me back. Do you know what Fanny has done? When she heard I was hard
up she wrote me and told me to come up to Michigan to her and she would
take care of me just as I had taken care of her. But I didn't want to
go. Wasn't it nice of her, though?

"Yes, when I was young I had it easy. I had my home and took care of it.
If I needed more money, I mortgaged my home and paid it back. Then I'd
mortgage it and pay it back. But I mortgaged it once too often. That
time I couldn't pay it back. I lost it.

"Well, I'm so glad you came to see me. I remember the pretty little girl
who used to come to my house with Fanny. Be sure to write to her, she'll
appreciate it, and thank you for the handkerchiefs."

  Interviewer: Mrs. Annie L. LaCotts
  Person interviewed: Margret Hulm, Humphrey, Arkansas
  Age: 97

  (Story of Abraham Lincoln as a spy)

In the west edge of Humphrey in a small house beneath huge old trees
lives an aged Negro woman with her boy (61 years old) and his wife. This
woman is Margret Hulm who says she was born March 5, 1840 in Hardeman
County, Tennessee. When asked if she remembered anything about the war
and slavery days she said:

"Oh yes mam. I was 24 years old when the slaves were set free. My folks
belonged to Master Jimmie Pruitt, who owned lots of other slaves. When
they told him his niggers were free, he let them go or let them stay on
with him and he'd give them a place to live and some of the crops. I
guess that's what folks call a share crop now. I was what folks called a
house girl. I didn't work in the field like some of the other slaves. I
waited on my mistress and her chillun, answered the door, waited on de
table and done things like that. I remember Mr. Lincoln. He came one day
to our house (I mean my white folks' house). They told me to answer the
door and when I opened it there stood a big man with a gray blanket
around him for a cape. He had a string tied around his neck to hold it
on. A part of it was turned down over the string like a ghost cape. How
was he dressed beneath the blanket? Well, he had on jeans pants and big
mud boots and a big black hat kinda like men wear now. He stayed all
night. We treated him nice like we did everybody when they come to our
house. We heard after he was gone that he was Abraham Lincoln and he was
a spy. That was before the war. Oh, yes, I remember lots about the war.
I remember dark days what we called the black days. It would be so dark
you couldn't see the sun even. That was from the smoke from the
fighting. You could just hear the big guns going _b-o-o-m, boom_, all day.
Yes, I do remember seeing the Yankees. I saw 'em running fast one day
past our house going back away from the fighting place. And once they
hung our master. They told him they wanted his money. He said he didn't
have but one dollar. They said 'we know better than that.' Then they
took a big rope off of one de Yankee's saddle and took de master down in
de horse lot and hung him to a big tree. The rope must a been old, for
it broke. Our master was a big man though. Then they hung him again. He
told 'em he didn't have but one dollar and they let him down and said
'Well, old man, maybe you haven't got any more money.' So they let him
go when the mistress and her little chillun come down there. He didn't
have but one dollar in his pockets but had lots buried about the place
in two or three places."

While Margret was giving this information she was busily sewing together
what looked like little square pads. When examined they proved to be
tobacco sacks stuffed with cotton and then sewed together which would
make a quilt already quilted when she got enough of them sewed together
to cover a bed.

  Interviewer: S. S. Taylor
  Person interviewed: John Hunter
                      3200 W. 17th Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
  Age: 74


John Hunter claims to be only seventy-four years old, but when he is
talking he has the manner of an eye-witness to the things he relates. In
this connection, many of the ex-slaves seem to be sensitive concerning

Hunter is blind. He lives with Mrs. Alston, herself the widow of an old
ex-slave. His relation to her is simply that of a renter, although where
he gets the rent from I don't know.

His father fought in the Confederate army until disabled by disease.

Hunter was born in North Carolina but has lived in this state something
like fifty years.


"Slave houses were old log huts. Some made log houses and some made tent
harbors. Just any sort of way on dirt. Some of them didn't have any

"One with a floor was built with one room. Cooked and et and everything
in that one room. About 16 × 16. One window. No glass panes in it.
Shutter window. Some niggers just built up a log house and dobbed it
with dirt to keep the air from coming through.

"Food was kept in an old chest. There weren't no such things as trunks
and cupboards. I brought one from North Carolina with me--old-fashioned
chest. Bed was homemade and nailed to the side of the wall. Some of them
had railings on both sides when they were trying to make it look nice.
Mattress was made out of straw or shucks. You could hear it rattling
like a hog getting in his bed at night. I have slept on 'em many a time.
Those with floors and those without were made alike. A box or anything
was used for a table. If his master would give him anything he would
make it out of a plank. Make it at night. Boxes and homemade stools were
used for chairs. No chairs like there is now. People are blessed now.
Didn't go asking for no chairs then. They'd give you a chair--over your

"They et anything--any way they could get it,--in pans, old wooden
trays, pots, anything. Fed you just like little pigs. Poured it all out
in something and give them an old wooden spoon and telled them to get
down and eat. Sometimes get down on your belly and eat. No dishes for
niggers like now. No dishes till after freedom, and often none then."

Tent Harbors

"Sometimes they'd have a great long place with walls in it with logs and
planks and divided into stalls just like a man would have a great long
place for mules and divide it into stalls. They were called stockades.
You can see them in Tensas Parish in Louisiana. Now, each man would take
his family and live in his stall. No doors between the rooms. Each room
had a door leading into the open. They called 'em 'tent harbors' because
they were built more like a tent. Some of them were covered with boards.
People would go into the woods and rive out boards with a fro. A fro is
a piece of iron about a foot and a half long with an eye in it and a
wooden handle in the eye. You would drive it into the log and then work
it along until you rived out the board.

"Slave quarters were built right straight on down so that the master
could look right down the avenue when he would walk out. Little houses
one right after the other."


"The niggers had anything to eat that the master give 'em. He would give
plenty such as it was. Certain days they would go up and get it. Give it
to 'em just like they go draw rations now. But they'd give it to you not
you say what you wanted. So much meal and so much meat, and so on. Some
of 'em raised flour. You had to take whatever you could get."

Father and Mother

"My father was a soldier (Confederate). He got sick with the scrofula
and they sent him back to his old master, Dr. Harris, in Enfield, North
Carolina. [HW: He was a field hand at first, but after he come back with
the scrofula, they just made him a carriage driver.] That's how I came
to be born in 1864. My father married Betsy Judge right after he came
back. They didn't marry then as they do now. Just jumped over the broom."


"A slave couldn't go nowhere without a pass. If they caught you out
without a pass, they'd whip you. Jus' like if I wanted to go to a girl's
house, my master would hand me a pass. If he didn't, they'd ketch me and
whip me if I got out and wasn't able to run away from them."

What the Freedmen Expected

"When the slave was freed, he was looking to get a home. They were goin'
to do this and goin' to do that but they didn't do nothin'. They let us
stay on the place until we made the crop, told us we was free to go
wherever we wanted to go. That is all they give us and all we got. Some
said, 'You promised to give us a home', and they said to them, 'Well,
you can stay here as long as you live.'"

How Freedom Came

"The old master called them together and told them they was free. 'Peace
declared. You all have to go for yourselves. Won't whip no more now. You
are all free.'"

Runaways and Mean Masters

"My father's master was right smart mean to him. It was partly my
father's fault. He wouldn't take no whipping much. If they would get
after him he would run off. Whenever there was anything they wanted him
to do and he didn't go and do it just that minute, they wanted to whip
him. Jus' like a child, you know. He had to move when he was told. If he
didn't do it then he got a whipping. He would run away in the woods and
stay a week or two before he'd come back. Sometimes some of the boys
would see him and they would say to him, 'Old master says for you to
come back home; he ain't goin' to do nothin' to you.' Nobody would go in
the woods and hunt him. Some of them would go in there and get hurt.

"There was some masters that would go in the woods hunting their
niggers. Sometimes they'd carry bloodhounds with them. They never did
run my father with the bloodhounds though.

"My mother's master and mistress was good to her. They never drove her
around. Old man Judge died and left her mistress and she lived a widow
the balance of her life. But she never gave my mother no trouble."

Sales and Separations

"There was plenty of slaves being put up on the block and sold. My
mother was sold. Her father was a Cooper and she was sold to Judge. He
bought my mother's mother and her both, so that made her a Judge. He
bought her and she had to go in his name. Her husband was left with the
Coopers. She was put up on the block. 'Who will give me a bid on this
woman?' The old man was bid back. The Coopers bid him back."


"My mother didn't get no schooling no more'n what I learned her after
freedom. She never went to school in her life. Still she saw she could
read the Bible, the hymn-book, and such things like that as she wanted
to before she died."

What the Slaves Got

"They said that the President and the Governor was going to give land to
the niggers--going to take it off the owners that they worked for. But
they never did get it."

Ku Klux Klan

"I heered talk of the Ku Klux. I can remember once when they come
through there (Enfield). That was eight or ten years after the War. They
would ketch some of the niggers and whip them. The young niggers got
their guns and rigged up a plan to kill them and laid out in a place for
them, but they got wind of it and stopped coming."

Mother's Occupation

"My mother was a great weaver. She would weave cloth for the hands on
the place. Some days she would work around the house and some other days
she'd go out and weave. When they wasn't any weaving or spinning to be
done, she'd go out in the field. The weaving and the spinning was right
in the white folks' house."

Own Occupation

"I used to be a preacher. Don't do much of nothin' now. Ain't able. Get
a little help from the Welfare--a little groceries sometimes. Don't get
any pension. You see, I can't do much on account of my blindness."

Opinions of Young People

"I can't tell you what I think of the young people. Times have got to be
so fast. It is just terrible to think how this life is. So much change
from forty to fifty years ago. Just as much difference on both sides,
white and colored, as there is between chalk and cheese."

Praying Under Pots

"When they'd go to have a church meeting, they turn up the pot so that
the noise wouldn't come out. They could go to the white folks' church.
But the spirit would come on them sometimes to have service themselves.
Then they'd go down to the house at night and turn up those big old iron
pots and master never would hear. They wouldn't put the washpot flat on
the ground. They'd put sticks under it and raise it up about a foot from
the ground. If they'd put it flat on the ground the ground would carry
the sound."


"There weren't no voting at all in slavery times (in his locality--ed.)
that is, far as the niggers were concerned. But after everybody was free
you could vote up until they stopped the people from voting. They kept a
Republican ticket in then. There wasn't no Democrat. None like they is
now. I don't know how this thing got mixed up like it is now.

"I remember once in North Carolina a man named Bryant got away with a
lot of votes in the boxes. He was seen to go out with two boxes under
his arms. And when they counted up the votes, the Democrats was ahead.
In them days, they counted up the votes before they left the polls. They
wanted to kill him. They sent him to the penitentiary to stay five
years. When he went in he was a young man, and when he came back he was

"There was some fighting down there that night. My father was a
constable. It was the white folks got to fighting each other. They got
to 'resting them and they filled the calaboose full that night. Didn't
have but one jail and that was in Halifax. The penitentiary was in
Raleigh. Raleigh was about 85 miles from Halifax, and Halifax about 75
from Enfield. The jail was twelve miles from Enfield."


"There were mixed bloods then just like there are now. Them came by the
old master, you know. They treated the mulatto a little better than they
did the other slaves. You know you would have more respect for your own
blood. My Aunt Rena was half-sister to my father. They had the same
mother but different fathers and they always gave her a little better
treatment than they give him. They didn't sell her. When slavery broke
she was still with her master, Old Tom Hollis. The old lady (her
mother) was there too. They hadn't sold her neither. But they never
give none of them nothin' when they was freed.

"My father was a field hand at first. But after he went to war and come
back with the scrofula, they just made him a carriage driver. But he
wasn't no mulatto though."

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: William Hunter, Brinkley, Arkansas
  Age: 70

"John McBride was my mother's last owner. His wife died in slavery. I
never heard her name called. My mother come from Abbeville, South
Carolina, a Negro trading point. When she was put on the block my father
went to McBride and asked him to buy that woman for him a wife. He said
she was a mighty pretty young woman. McBride bought her. I don't know
how they got to Carroll County, Mississippi but that is where I was
born. My mother raised Walter and Johnny McBride (white). She nursed one
of them along with my brother May--May McBride was his name. That was at
Asme, Alabama before I was born. I heard my mother say she never worked
in the field but two years in her whole life. It must have been just
after the war, for I have seen a ditch she and another woman cut. When
they cut it, it was 4 ft. × 4 ft. I don't know the length. When I seed
it, it was a creek 100 ft. wide. I don't know how deep. I recollect
hearing my father talk about clearing land before freedom but I don't
know if he was in Alabama or Mississippi then.

"My mother was mixed with the white race. She was a bright woman. My
father was a real dark man. He was a South Carolina gutchen--soft water
folks, get mad and can't talk. He was crazy about yellow folks.

"McBride died fifty-one years ago. When I was a boy he carried me with
him--right in the buggy or oxcart with him till I was up nineteen years
old. He went to the saloon to get a dram. I got one too. When he went
to a big hotel to eat something he sent out the kitchen door to me out
to our buggy or wagon. We camped sometimes when we went to town. It took
so long to go over the roads.

"When freedom was declared McBride called up all his slaves and told em
they was free; they could go or stay on. My father moved off two years
after freedom and then he moved back and we stayed till the old man
died. Then my father went to Varden, Mississippi and worked peoples
gardens. He was old then too.

"I never seen a 'white cap' (Ku Klux). I heard a heap of talk about em.
The people in Mississippi had respect for colored worship.

"I farmed till we went to Varden, Mississippi. I started working on the
section. I was brakeman on the train out from Water Valley. Then I come
to Wheatley, Arkansas. I worked on the section. All told, I worked forty
years on the section. I worked on a log wagon, with a tire company, at
the oil mill and in the cotton mill. I had a home till it went in the
Home Loan. I have to pay $2.70 a month payments. I get commodities, no
money, from the Welfare. My wife is dead now."

  MAY 11 1938
  Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
  Person interviewed: Ida Blackshear Hutchinson
                      2620 Orange Street, North Little Rock, Arkansas
  Age: 73


"I was born in 1865 in Alabama in Sumter County on Sam Scale's place
near the little town called Brushville (?)." [HW: Bushville or

Parents and Grandparents

"My father's name was Isom Blackshear. Some people call it Blackshire,
but we call it Blackshear. His master was named Uriah Blackshear. I have
heard him say so many times the year he was born. He died (Isom) in 1905
and was in his eighty-first year then. That would make him born in 1824.
His birth was on the fourth day of May. People back in them days lived
longer than we do now. My grandfather, Jordan Martin, lived to be one
hundred sixteen years old. Grandpa died about nine years ago in Sumter
County, Alabama. He was my grandfather on my mother's side.

"My grandfather on my father's side was Luke Blackshear. He was born in
Alabama too, and I suppose in Sumter County too. He died in Sumter
County. He died about five years before the Civil War.

"My mother was born in North Carolina. Her name was Sylvia Martin before
she married my father. She was a Blackshear when she died. She died in
1885. The white people went out in North Carolina and bought her, her
mother, Nancy, and her father, Jordan, and brought them to Sumter
County, Alabama. My mother's mother was an Indian; her hair came down to
her waist."

Luke Blackshear (Breeder)

"My grandfather on my father's side, Luke Blackshear, was a 'stock'

"Isom Blackshear, his son, was a great talker. He said Luke was six feet
four inches tall and near two hundred fifty pounds in weight. He was
what they called a double-jointed man. He was a mechanic,--built houses,
made keys, and did all other blacksmith work and shoemaking. He did
anything in iron, wood or leather. Really he was an architect as well.
He could take raw cowhide and make leather out of it and then make shoes
out of the leather.

"Luke was the father of fifty-six children and was known as the GIANT
BREEDER. He was bought and given to his young mistress in the same way
you would give a mule or colt to a child.

"Although he was a stock Negro, he was whipped and drove just like the
other Negroes. All of the other Negroes were driven on the farm. He had
to labor but he didn't have to work with the other slaves on the farm
unless there was no mechanical work to do. He was given better work
because he was a skilled mechanic. He taught Isom blacksmithing,
brickmaking and bricklaying, shoemaking, carpentry, and other things.
The ordinary blacksmith has to order plow points and put than on, but
Luke made the points themselves, and he taught Isom to do it. And he
taught him to make mats, chairs, and other weaving work. He died
sometime before the War."

Isom Blackshear

"Isom Blackshear, Luke's son and my father, farmed until he was eighteen
years old, and was a general mechanic as mentioned when I was telling
about my grandfather Luke, for sixty odd years. Up to within seven
months of his death, he was making chairs and baskets and other things.
He never was in bed in his life until his last sickness. That was his
first and his last. Never did he have a doctor's bill to pay or for his
master to pay,--until he died. He worked on the batteries at Vicksburg
during the War.

"Isom ran away three times. He was a field hand up to eighteen years.
The overseer wanted to whip him. Isom would help his wife in the field
because she couldn't keep up with the others and he would help her to
keep the overseer from whipping her. He'd take her beside him and row
his row and hers too. He was the fastest worker on the place. The
overseer told him to not do that. But Isom just kept on doing it anyway.
Then the overseer asked Isom for his shirt. When they whipped you them
days they didn't whip you on your clothes because they didn't want to
wear them out. Isom said he was not going to take off his shirt because
his mistress gave it to him and he wasn't going to give it to anybody
else. Then the overseer stepped 'round in front of him to stop him,
because Isom had just kept on hoeing. Isom just caught the overseer's
feet in his hoe and dumped him down on the ground and went on hoeing his
own row and his wife's. He called his hoe 'One Eyed Aggie.'

"The overseer said, 'You think you done something smart' and he went for
his master. The overseer was named Mack Hainey. His master came out the
next morning and caught Isom. Isom has often told us about it.

"'First thing I knowed, he had his feet on my hoe and he said, "Isom,
they tell me you can't be whipped." "I'd be willing to be whipped if I'd
done anything." "Huh!" said my master, "Right or wrong, if my
overseer asked you for your shirt give it to him."'

"He held a pistol on him. They made him pull off his shirt and tied him
up to a gin post. The overseer hit him five times and kept him there
till noon trying to get him to say that he would give his shirt to him
the next time. Finally Isom promised and the overseer untied him. When
the overseer untied him, Isom took his shirt in one hand and the
overseer's whip in the other and whipped him almost all the way to the
big house. Then he ran away and stayed in the woods for three or four
days until his old master sent word for him to come on back and he
wouldn't do nothing to him.

"When he went back, his master took him off the farm because he and my
father was nursed together and he didn't want Isom killed. So from that
time on, my father never worked as a field hand any more. And they put
Isom's wife as a cook. She couldn't chop cotton fast enough and they
couldn't handle Isom as long as she was in the field; so they put her to
washing, and ironing, and cooking, and milking.

"The second time father ran away was once when they missed some
groceries out of the storeroom. Master asked him if he took them because
he made the keys to the place and not a person on the place but him
could know anything about getting in there. He didn't own it, so they
tied him up and whipped him two days. When night come they took him and
tied him in his house and told his wife that if he got loose they would
put the portion on her. He didn't try to get loose because he knowed if
he did they would whip her, so he stayed. At noon time when they went to
get the dinner they poured three buckets of water in his face and almost
drowned him. Then after dinner they came back and whipped him again.
Finally he said, 'I didn't do it but nothing will suit you but for me to
say I did, so I will say I did it.' So he owned up to it.

"A few days later Mr. Horn who owned the adjoining plantation came over
and asked him if he had missed anything,--any rations he said. Old
master told him 'Yes' and went on to explain what had been taken and
what he had done about it. Then Mr. Horn took Mr. Blackshear over to his
house and showed him the rations and they were the one he had whipped my
old father about. Then Blackshear came back and told my father that he
was sorry, that he never had known him to steal anything. He turned him
loose and apologized to him but he made him work with the bloody shirt
that they whipped him in sticking to his back.

"The third time he ran off he was in the army working on the batteries
at Vicksburg. He worked there till he got to thinking about his wife and
children, and then he ran off. He got tired and hungry and he went to
Mopilis and give himself up. The jailer written to his master, that is
to his mistress, about it, and she got her father to go and see about
him and bring him home. They'd had a big storm. The houses were in bad
shape. The fences was blown down. The plows was broken or dull and
needed fixin'. And they were so glad to see Isom that they didn't whip
him nor nothin' for runnin' away.

"Isom's mother was named Winnie Blackshear. She was Luke's wife. She was
a light brownskin woman and weighed about one hundred fifty pounds. I
have seen her, but Luke was dead before I was born. Grandmother Winnie
has been dead about twenty years now. She labored in the field.

"My mother's mother was named Nancy Martin and her father was named
Jordan Martin. We kept a Jordan in the family all the way down. Both of
them farmed. They were slaves.

"There were fourteen children of us,--eleven sisters and three brothers.
The brothers were Jordan, Prince, and John. The sisters were Margaret,
Eliza, Nancy, Tempy, Bell, Abbie, Caroline, Frances, Dosia, Mattie,
Lucy, Louisa, Ida."


"They say Negroes won't commit suicide, but Isom told us of a girl that
committed suicide. There was a girl named Lu who used to run off and go
to the dances. The patrollers would try to catch her but they couldn't
because she was too fast on her feet. One day they got after her in the
daytime. She had always outran them at night. She ran to the cabin and
got her quarter which she had hid. She put the quarter in her mouth. The
white folks didn't allow the slaves to handle no money. The quarter got
stuck in her throat, and she went on down to the slough and drowned
herself rather than let them beat her, and mark her up. Then patrollers
sure would get you and beat you up. If they couldn't catch you when you
were running away from them, they would come on your master's place and
get you and beat you. The master would allow them to do it. They didn't
let the patrollers come on the Blackshear place, but this gal was so
hard-headed 'bout goin' out that they made a 'ception to her. And they
intended to make her an example to the rest of the slaves. But they
didn't get Lucy."

Death of Sixty Babies

"Once on the Blackshear place, they took all the fine looking boys and
girls that was thirteen years old or older and put them in a big barn
after they had stripped them naked. They used to strip them naked and
put them in a big barn every Sunday and leave them there until Monday
morning. Out of that came sixty babies.

"They was too many babies to leave in the quarters for some one to take
care of during the day. When the young mothers went to work Blackshear
had them take their babies with them to the field, and it was two or
three miles from the house to the field. He didn't want them to lose
time walking backward and forward nursing. They built a long old trough
like a great long old cradle and put all these babies in it every
morning when the mother come out to the field. It was set at the end of
the rows under a big old cottonwood tree.

"When they were at the other end of the row, all at once a cloud no
bigger than a small spot came up, and it grew fast, and it thundered and
lightened as if the world were coming to an end, and the rain just came
down in great sheets. And when it got so they could go to the other end
of the field, that trough was filled with water and every baby in it was
floating 'round in the water drownded. They never got nary a lick of
labor and nary a red penny for ary one of them babies."

Experiences just after the War

"Mother had been a cook and she just kept on cooking, for the same
people. My father he went to farming."


"My father said that the patrollers would run you and ketch you and
whip you if you didn't have a pass, when you was away from the
pass.[HW: place?] But they didn't bother you if you had a pass. The
patrollers were mean white people who called themselves making the
niggers stay home. I think they were hired. They called their selves
making the niggers stay home. They went all through the community
looking for people, and whipping them when they'd leave home without a
pass. They said you wasn't submissive when you left home without a pass.
They hounded Lucy to death. She wouldn't let 'em get her, and she
wouldn't let 'em get her quarter."

Ku Klux Klan

"I have seen the Ku Klux. I have washed their regalia and ironed it for
them. They wouldn't let just anybody wash and iron it because they
couldn't do it right. My son's wife had a job washing and ironing for
them and I used to go down and help her. I never did take a job of any
kind myself because my husband didn't let me. The regalia was white.
They were made near like these singing robes the church choirs have. But
they were long--come way down to the shoe tops. That was along in the
nineties,--about 1890. It was when they revived the Ku Klux the last
time before the World War. In the old days the patrollers used to whip
them for being out without a pass but the Ku Klux used to whip them for
disorderly living.

"Way back yonder when I was in Alabama, too, I can remember the Ku Klux
riding. I was a little child then. The Republicans and Democrats were at
war with each other then and they was killing everybody. My brother was
one of them they run. He could come out in the daytime, but in the night
he would have to hide. They never got him. He dodged them. That was
'round in 1874. In 1875, him and my uncle left Alabama and went to
Louisiana. They called him a stump speaker. They wanted to kill him.
They killed Tom Ivory. He was the leader of the Republicans--he was a
colored man. His father was white but his mother was a Negro. His father
educated him in slavery time. He had been up North and was coming back.
They knew he was coming back, so they went up the creek and waited for
him--his train. They flagged it down, and some one on the train
commenced hollering, 'Look yonder.' Ivory stepped out on the platform to
see what they were hollering about, and all them guns started popping
and Ivory fell over the end of the platform and down on the ground. He
was already leaning over the gate when they fired. Then they come up and
cut his tongue out before he died. They said if they got him that would
stop all the rest of the niggers. You see, he was a leader.

"Niggers was voting the Republican ticket 'long about that time. They
just went in gangs riding every night--the Ku Klux did. Ku Kluxing and
killing them they got hold of.

"The police arrested all the men that had anything to do with Tom
Ivory's killing. The leader of the killers was a white man they called
Captain Hess. I never knowed how the trial came out because we left
there while they was still in jail."

How Freedom Came

"I heard my mother say that when the Refugees came through Sumter
County, Alabama, she wasn't free but was 'sot' free later. The refugees
came through along in February. Then the papers was struck and it went
out that the niggers all was free. Mother's master and my oldest brother
who had stayed in the War with his master four years came home. The
refugees was in there when he got home. They went on through. They
didn't tarry long there. Then the papers came out and the next day,
master called all the hands up to the big house and told them they was
free. Mother was set free in the latter part of February and I was born
June 5, 1865, so I was born free."

Leaving Alabama

"We left Alabama in the same year Tom Ivory got killed. More than fifty
colored people left on the train and come off when we did. People was
leaving Alabama something terrible. I never did know what happened to
Tom's killers. I heard afterwards that Alabama got broke, they had to
pay for so many men they killed."

  Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
  Person interviewed: Cornelia Ishmon
                      3319 W. Second Avenue
                      Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  Age: 78

"I was born in Mississippi and I can member seein' the Yankees goin' by.
I was a little bit of a girl and Betsy Hardy, that was old Miss, she
kep' the Yankees from gettin' me. She told me many a time if it hadn't
been for her I'd a had my brains beat out against a tree. When I didn't
do to suit her, she'd tell me bout dat. I stayed right in the house.

"I member when they was lookin' for Johnson's brigade and when they saw
it was the Yankees they just flew. The Yankees was goin' through there
doin' what they wanted.

"I never got no further than the third grade."


  El Dorado District
  Name of interviewer: Mildred Thompson & Carol Graham.
  Subject: Uncle Jack Island--Ex-Slave.
  Story--Information (If not enough space on this page add page)

"Yas'm ah membuhs a lil'l bit bout slavery days. Ah wuz jes a chap den.
Ah'm 73 now. Ah wuz such a chap dat ah didn' do much work. Day use tuh
cook on de fiuh place an ah'd tote in bark an wood fuh em tuh cook wid
an git up de aigs (eggs) an sich li'l things as dat.

"Mah ole marster was Marse Bullock an we lived in de Lisbon community.

"Mistress' baby chile wuz a boy an he wuz jes six months olduh dan ah
wuz. Ah wuz de only boy chile in de whole business uv slaves. Evah
evenin bout a hour by de sun dey would feed us an by sundown we bettuh
be in baid. Dat wuz tuh git us outn de way when de grown fokes come in.
Dey wuz six uv us chillun an dey would feed us in a big wooden tray.
Dey'd po' hot pot liquor in de tray an crumble braid in hit. Den dey'd
give us each a spoon an we would all git roun an eat. Dere wuz Lizzie,
Nancy, Sistuh Julia, Sistuh Lu and Martha. Der wuz six uv us. Aftuh dey
fed us we would go tuh baid an tuh sleep. Dey had ole fashion wheels.
Some nights de women would spin. We wouldn' heah dem when dey come in
but when dat ole wheel started tuh goin hit'd wake me up an ah'd lie der
a while an watch em spin den ah'd go tuh sleep ergin, an leave em
spinnin'. Sometimes we wouldn' see our mamas fum Sunday night till next
Sunday mornin. Mah mistress wove cloth. Bout de biggest thing ah done
wuz help huh wid huh weavin. Ah would pick up de shickle (shuttle) an
run hit through fuh huh. Dat bout de biggest thing ah'd do sides feedin
the chickens an bringin in bark. In dem days wuznt no buckets much. We
used hand gourds dat would hold two or three gallons uv watuh. An ah'd
carry one uv dem gourds uv watuh tuh de fiel' tuh em while day was
pickin cotton. One yeah de cotton worms wuz so bad an ah hadn' nevah
seen none. Ah'd started tuh de fiel' wid de gourd uv watuh an saw dem
worms an oh, ah jes bawled. Mah mama had tuh come an git me. Ah didn'
know nothin bout dem worms.

"De nearest battle in de wah was at Vicksburg. Ah membuh one day hit got
so smoky an ah could heah de guns. Ah thought hit wuz thunderin an said
tuh ole missus dat hit wuz gointer rain soon but ole missus say: 'Oh
Lawdy, dat aint thunder. Ah wish hit wuz. Dat's guns and dat, dat yo
sees is smoke an not clouds.' Aftuh de wah wuz ovah we stayed on wid ole
marster. Soon aftuh de wah wuz ovah marster died an missus mahried Ed
Oakley, a spare built man. Dey lives in Arcadia, Louisiana now. Ah
stayed on thar till ah wuz bout fo'teen an ah lef' dere. Wuz gone bout a
yeah an ah learnt sumpin too. When ah got off ah had tuh go to work.
Bout all ah had tuh do at home wuz tuh take keer uv de stock aftuh ah
got big nough tuh but ah sho nuff worked den. Ah stayed way bout a year
den ah went back an stayed dere too till ah was bout twenty-one. Ah been
mahried three times. Ah had five chillun by mah fust wife an dem is all
de chillun ah evah had. One uv dem lives in town, one in Texas, one
Dubach, La., one is daid an ah don' know de where-bouts uv de othuh one.
De las' time ah heerd anything bout him he wuz in Hot Springs. Mah
present wife's name is Talitha. We has one gran'chile livin wid us. He
bout fifteen an is at school ovah dar crost de road wha yo sees dat
house. Oh Missy dem times we been tawkin bout wuz de good times. Dese
times are hard."

  _Circumstances of Interview_

  NAME OF WORKER--Mrs. Carol Graham
  ADDRESS--El Dorado, Arkansas
  DATE--December, 1938

1. Name and address of informant--Jack and Talitha Island, Route 1, El
Dorado, Arkansas.

2. Date and time of interview--December, 1938

3. Place of interview--Route 1, El Dorado, Arkansas.

4. Name and address of person, if any, who put you in touch with

5. Name and address of person, if any, accompanying you--

6. Description of room, house, surroundings, etc.--

  _Personal History of Informant_

  NAME OF WORKER--Mrs. Carol Graham
  ADDRESS--EL Dorado, Arkansas
  DATE--December, 1938
  NAME AND ADDRESS OF INFORMANTS--Jack and Talitha Island,
                                  Route 1, El Dorado.

1. Ancestry--

2. Place and date of birth--Talitha was born April 14, 1864 in Arcadia,
Louisiana. Jack was born in 1863.

3. Family--Talitha had three children and Jack had three children.

4. Places lived in, with dates--Talitha lived in Arcadia, Louisiana
until freedom. Jack and Talitha now live in El Dorado.

5. Education, with dates--

6. Occupations and accomplishments, with dates--

7. Special skills and interests--

8. Community and religious activities--Goes to church in schoolhouse
across the road.

9. Description of informant--

10. Other points gained in interview--They tell some of their childhood

  _Text of Interview (Unedited)_

_Talitha_: "Howdy, chillun, come in. Naw suh, Jack ain't heah right now.
He down tuh the thicket back uv de house gittin' some wood. Naw suh, he
won't be gone long. He soon be back. You all come in and set on the
gallery. Here's a cheer, missy. He be back in no time tall.

"You wants to know how old I am? I was born April 14, 1864 before the
niggers was freed in '65.

"My mother was a field woman (worked in the field) and had seven chillun
when set free. Her mistress raised her from three weeks old. Her mother
burned to death in a house on the plantation. Our home was 'bout four
miles east of Arcadia, Louisiana, or rather Miss Sarah Given's house
was, and we stayed on wid her until I was a big girl, plowin' and

"No ma'am, I never did go to no parties. I was never 'lowed to go. I
been a member of the church since I was ten and now I'm seventy-three.

"I first married a man by the name of Williams and had three chillun by
him, two boys and one girl. Then I was a widow fifteen years before I
married Jack. We ain't never had no chillun, but Jack had three chillun
and I helped to raise them and I've helped raise a bunch of his

"I believes I hear Jack back there now."

_Jack_: "Howdy, howdy! So you is back for more tales 'bout long ago. I'se
seventy-three and I been in this world a long time I tell you."

_Talitha_: "Now, Jack, you knows you is heap older 'n me and I'm
seventy-three and I was born jes 'bout a year befo the War closed and
you say you was a big chap then."

_Jack_: "Well, I guess I was around six years old when the War started. I
was a good big chap. I 'member one evening 'bout three o'clock I was
settin' out in the yard playin' with a mate of mine--Johnnie Cook. I
guess you would call him my mate; he was my mistress's boy and 'bout my
age and we played together all the time even if I was black. I was the
only black boy on the place, all the other cullud chillun was gals. Us
chaps was out in the yard making frog nesties with our bare feet in the
sand. They was fightin' in Vicksburg then. They was doing a whole lot of
shooting. You could hear it one right after the other and it got so
smoky. I thought it was thunder and said something 'bout hit. Mistress
was setting on the gallery sewing and when I said that she said, 'Aw
Lawd, that ain't no thunder,' but she didn' tell us what hit wuz."

_Talitha_: "Course I wasn't old enough to know anything 'bout hit but I
heard my mother say it got so smoky the chickens didn't get off the
roost while they was bustin' all them big cannons."

_Jack_: "All us chillun was just as fat and healthy as hogs. Warn't never
sick. They'd feed 'bout this time every evening (4 p.m.) and by sundown
I was in bed. My mother worked in the field and I've heard her say that
sometime she didn't see her chillun from Sunday to Sunday. Old lady
Hannah Banks done the cooking for everybody and she cooked on a big
fireplace. They didn't have no stove. _Why, I got here before the stoves
did._ Ma and pa and all the grown ones would get up at four o'clock and
eat breakfast and be in the field workin' by sunup. They had a box with
shelves drove up on the side of the wall to the cabin where we slept and
old lady Hannah Banks would put our breakfast in that and when we woke
up we would get it and eat. One morning I woke up before the other
chillun did and 'cided I'd git my breakfast first 'fore they did. I clem
up, rech up and got holt of that box and I was so heavy I pulled it down
and broke all the old blue edge plates. That woke the other chillun up
all right, and I can jes see them old blue edge plates now. For dinner
they would give us boiled greens or beans wid bread and for supper they
would save the slop (liquor), cram it full of bread, pour it in a tray
and give it to all the chilluns and me, sister Julia, Nancy, Lizzie,
Marthy, and all the little nigger chillun."

_Talitha_: "Huh! Old man Givens had so many little nigger chillun couldn'
feed 'em in no tray. Had to have troughs. They'd take a log and hollow
it out and make three tubs in a row and put peg legs on it and a hole in
the bottom of each one with a pin in it. They would use these tubs to
wash the clothes in and pull the stem up to let all the water run out,
clean 'em out real good, fill with bread and pot-licker or bread and
milk, and feed the nigger chillun."

_Jack_: "You say our nephew wants to come out and bring a bunch of young
folks and wants me to take them 'possum hunting some moonlight night?
Sho, sho, I'll go."

_Talitha_: "I don't know how he'd go lessen we totes him. Why, he got the
rheumatism so bad he can't hardly git 'round in the daytime much less at
night. Why, the other day he was out in the field follerin' the boy that
was plowin' up the potatoes and we was goin' on pickin' them up. First
thing I know I hear somethin' behind me go 'plop' and I looked roun and
there lay Jack jes stretched out. Fell down over his own feet. So what
would he do out nights? And you sees that knot on his ankle. Hit was
broke when he was a boy an' hit still gives him trouble when his
rheumatism starts up."

_Jack_: "You say how did I do it? I was jumpin'. A bunch of us boys was
jumpin' 'cross a ditch jes to see how far we could jump. I was a young
chap 'bout seventeen or eighteen then. I was doin' purty well with my
jumpin' when I made a misjump an' jumped crooked and hit my ankle on a
big old iron rock. My but hit hurt bad. I didn' do no more jumpin' that
day. The next day I was down in the woods getting a load of lider. Had
put on a few pieces on the wagon when I started to turn aroun and down I
went. I jes lay there and hollered till someone come an' got me. That
was in the winter just before Christmas and I didn't get out no more
till in the spring. The woods looked right purty to me when I got out.
The leaves was great big. And that ain't all, I ain't jumped no more
since. 'Sides that I ain't never been sick to 'mount to anything. Had
the whooping cough at the same time that Joe and Tom Snyder had hit.
Still got my natchel teeth, lost four up here and got one that bothers
me some, 'sides that I have 'em all. Yas suh, that the schoolhouse
'cross the road there. We has preachin' there sometimes too. Does Ab
preach there? He, he, he! sometime he do. Did I ever tell you 'bout the
time Ab was preaching out here at ____ and got to stampin' roun wid
that peg-leg of his'n an' hit went through the rotten floor and we had
to pull him out? He, he, he!"

_Talitha_: "Now, Jack Island, you knows that is jes 'nother one uv yo
tales. I is been to hear Ab preach lots of times and he does storm roun
mighty bad and I ain't got no faith in his religion tall but I warn't
there when he fell through the floo'."

  Interviewer: Pernella M. Anderson
  Person interviewed: Mary Island
                      626 Nelson Street, El Dorado, Arkansas
  Age: 80

"I was born in Union Parish, Louisiana in the year of 1857, so the white
folks told me, and I am eighty years old. My mama died when I was two
years old and my aunty raised me. She started me out washing dishes when
I was four years old and when I was six she was learning me how to cook.
While the other hands was working in the field I carried water. We had
to cook out in the yard on an old skillet and lid, so you see I had to
tote brush and bark and roll up little logs such as I could to keep the
fire from one time of cooking to the other. I was not but six years old
either. When I got to be seven years old I was cutting sprouts almost
like a man and when I was eight I could pick one hundred pounds of
cotton. When it rained and we could not go to the field my aunty had me
spinning thread to make socks and cloth, then I had to card the bats and
make the rolls to spin.

"My auntie was a slave and she lived in the edge of the field. Of course
I was born a slave but didn't know much about it because my aunty did
the bossing of me but I had a pretty hard time. Our wash tubs, water
buckets, bread trays and such were made out of tupelo gum logs dug out
with some kind of an axe and when aunty would wash I had to use the
battling stick. I would carry the wet clothes to a stump and beat them
with that battling stick and we hung the clothes out on bushes and on
the fence. We used water from a spring.

"In my young days all we wore was homespun and lowel.[HW: ?] We lived
in a log house with a dirt floor and the cracks was chinked with mud and
our bed was some poles nailed against the wall with two legs out on the
dirt floor, and we pulled grass and put in a lowel[HW: ?] bed tick. My
aunty would get old dresses, old coats, and old pants and make quilts.

"I never went to school a day in my life. No, the back of my head has
never rubbed against the walls of a schoolhouse and I never did go to
Sunday School and I never did like it. And I didn't go to church until I
was grown and the church that I did attend was called the Iron Jacket
Church. Now they call it the Hard Shell Church. I believe in foot
washing. I don't go to church now because there is no Hard Shell church
close around here."

  Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
  Person interviewed: Henrietta Isom, Biscoe, Arkansas
  Age: 81

"I was born in Mississippi. It wasn't far from Memphis, Tennessee. I
heard em talking bout it then. When I first knowed anything we lived way
down in Mississippi. It was on a big farm not close to no place much. My
ma's and pa's master was named Thornton. Seems lack it was Jack and her
name was Miss Lucretia. They show did have a big family, little ones on
up. I have three sisters and a brother all dead--ma was a farm hand. She
left us wid a real old woman--all the little children stayed right wid
her. We minded her lack our ma's. She switch our legs if we didn't. She
carded and sewed about all the time.

"I don't know much about master and mistress; their house was way over
the field. They lived on a hill and had the finest well of water. It was
so cold. They had two buckets on a chain to pull it up by. The cabins
down closer to the creek. There was two springs one used mostly for
washing and the other for house use.

"I don't know how many cabins they was scattered. He had a lot of hands
about all I remembers--on Saturdays we get to go up to the house to
fetch back something; some provisions. They tell us if we be good we
could go. They done their own cooking. When they work their dinners was
sent to the shade trees from white folks house and the childrens was
sent too. We would all stand around Miss Rachel (white) when she bring
it then we go sit on the steps and eat. We show did have plenty to eat.
We wear the dresses new in cold weather then they wear thin for summer.
They be lighter in color too when they fade.

"I remember when the white folks left an went to war. They worked on.
They had a white man and a colored man boss. When freedom was declared
nearly all of them walked off so glad they was free. I don't know where
they all went. My folks went to another big place. We had a hard time.
We all farmed. I don't know what they expected from freedom. Nobody
didn't ask for nuthin. I remembers when some new hands was bought and
put on the place. I think they sold em off in town.

"After de war at the church they talked bout if they didn't get freedom
they would clang together for der rights but they never did do nuthin.
Times was so hard they had to work harder than before.

"The Yankees nor none of the soldiers ever come to our cabins--I seen
them along the roads. They show did clean up Miss Leucretia's calves and
hogs. Took em all off at one time. Rations show did get mighty scarce.

"They sing, I recken they did sing, go off to work singin and the men
whistlin. Mostly sung religious songs. Master Thornton had a white man
preach sometimes. Down in front of the cabins in the shade. Sometimes
somebody get to go to white church with the family. They held the baby.
They didn't have no school.

"I seed the Ku Klux Klans in the road light nights--when they pass we
all peep out the cracks. They didn't bother nobody I knowed. We was
scared they would turn in an come to the house.

"I farmed all my life, hoed cotton and corn. No maam I aint never
voted--I jess lives wid my children here and my son in Memphis and my
other daughter at Helena. My daughter do farm work and my son railroads.
He works in the yards.

"I don't know what to say bout the generations comin on. They is smarter
in their books and sees more than older folks, but they ain't no better.
You kaint depend on what they says. I don't know what to say would make
the country better lessen the folks all be better.

"I never heard of no rebellions. I jess lived in Mississippi till I
comes here and Memphis and stay around wid the children and
grandchildren. They all do fairly well for the fast times I guess."

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States - From Interviews with Former Slaves - Arkansas Narratives, Part 3" ***

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