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Title: Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States - From Interviews with Former Slaves - Arkansas Narratives, Part 5
Author: Work Projects Administration
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start 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 5" ***

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[TR: ***] = Transcriber Note
[HW: ***] = Handwritten Note


A Folk History of Slavery in the United States
From Interviews with Former Slaves






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


McClendon, Charlie
McCloud, Lizzie
McConico, Avalena
McCoy, Ike
McDaniel, Richard H.
McIntosh, Waters
Mack, Cresa
McKinney, Warren
McMullen, Victoria
Madden, Nannie P.
Madden, Perry
Mann, Lewis
Martin, Angeline
Martin, Josie
Mathis, Bess
Matthews, Caroline
Maxwell, Malindy
Maxwell, Nellie
May, Ann
Mayes, Joe
Meeks, Rev. Jesse
Metcalf, Jeff
Miller, Hardy
Miller, Henry Kirk
Miller, Matilda
Miller, Nathan
Miller, Sam
Miller, W.D.
Minser, Mose
Minton, Gip
Mitchell, A.J.
Mitchell, Gracie
Mitchell, Hettie
Mitchell, Mary
Mitchell, Moses
Moon, Ben
Moore, Emma
Moore, Patsy
Moorehead, Ada
Mooreman, Mary Jane (Mattie)
Morgan, Evelina
Morgan, James
Morgan, Olivia
Morgan, Tom
Morris, Charity
Morris, Emma
Moss, Claiborne
Moss, Frozie
Moss, Mose
Mullins, S.O.
Murdock, Alex
Myers, Bessie
Myhand, Mary
Myrax, Griffin

Neal, Tom Wylie
Nealy (Neely), Sally
Nealy, Wylie
Neland, Emaline
Nelson, Henry
Nelson, Iran
Nelson, James Henry
Nelson, John
Nelson, Lettie
Nelson, Mattie
Newborn, Dan
Newsom, Sallie
Newton, Pete
Norris, Charlie

Oats, Emma
Odom, Helen
Oliver, Jane
Osborne, Ivory
Osbrook, Jane

Page, Annie
Parker, Fannie
Parker, J.M.
Parker, Judy
Parker, R.F.
Parks, Annie
Parnell, Austin Pen
Parr, Ben
Patterson, Frank A.
Patterson, John
Patterson, Sarah Jane
Pattillo, Solomon P.
Patton, Carry Allen
Payne, Harriett McFarlin
Payne, John
Payne, Larkin
Perkins, Cella
Perkins, Marguerite (Maggie)
Perkins, Rachel
Perry, Dinah
Peters, Alfred
Peters, Mary Estes
Peterson, John
Pettis, Louise
Pettus, Henry C.
Phillips, Dolly
Piggy, Tony
Pittman, Ella
Pittman, Sarah
Poe, Mary
Pollacks, W.L.
Pope, John (Doc)
Porter, William
Potter, Bob
Prayer, Louise

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Charlie McClendon
                    708 E. Fourth Avenue, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 77

"I don't know exactly how old I am. I was six or seven when the war
ended. I member dis--my mother said I was born on Christmas day. Old
master was goin' to war and he told her to take good care of that
boy--he was goin' to make a fine little man.

"Did I live up to it? I reckon I was bout as smart a man as you could
jump up. The work didn't get too hard for _me_. I farmed and I sawmilled
a lot. Most of my time was farmin'.

"I been in Jefferson County all my life. I went to school three or four

"About the war, I member dis--I member they carried us to Camden and I
saw the guards. I'd say, 'Give me a pistol.' They'd say, 'Come back
tomorrow and we'll give you one.' They had me runnin' back there every
day and I never did get one. They was Yankee soldiers.

"Our folks' master was William E. Johnson. Oh Lord, they was just as
good to us as could be to be under slavery.

"After they got free my people stayed there a year or two and then our
master broke up and went back to South Carolina and the folks went in
different directions. Oh Lord, my parents sho was well treated. Yes
ma'm. If he had a overseer, he wouldn't low him to whip the folks. He'd
say, 'Just leave em till I come home.' Then he'd give em a light

"My father run off and stay in the woods one or two months. Old master
say, 'Now, Jordan, why you run off? Now I'm goin' to give you a light
breshin' and don't you run off again.' But he'd run off again after

"He had one man named Miles Johnson just stayed in the woods so he put
him on the block and sold him.

"I seed the Ku Klux. We colored folks had to make it here to Pine Bluff
to the county band. If the Rebels kotch you, you was dead.

"Oh Lord yes, I voted. I voted the Publican ticket, they called it. You
know they had this Australia ballot. You was sposed to go in the caboose
and vote. They like to scared me to death one time. I had a description
of the man I wanted to vote for in my pocket and I was lookin' at it so
I'd be sure to vote for the right man and they caught me. They said,
'What you doin' there? We're goin' to turn you over to the sheriff after
election!' They had me scared to death. I hid out for a long time till I
seed they wasn't goin' to do nothin'.

"My wife's brother was one of the judges of the election. Some of the
other colored folks was constables and magistrates--some of em are
now--down in the country.

"I knew a lot about things but I knew I was in the United States and had
to bow to the law. There was the compromise they give the colored
folks--half of the offices and then they got em out afterwards. John M.
Clayton was runnin' for the senate and say he goin' to see the colored
people had equal rights, but they killed him as he was gwine through the
country speakin'.

"The white people have treated me very well but they don't pay us enough
for our work--just enough to live on and hardly that. I can say with a
clear conscience that if it hadn't been for this relief, I don't know
what I'd do--I'm not able to work. I'm proud that God Almighty put the
spirit in the man (Roosevelt) to help us."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Lizzie McCloud
                    1203 Short 13th Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 120?

"I was one of 'em bless your heart. Yes ma'm, Yes ma'm, I wouldn't tell
you a lie 'bout that. If I can't tell you the truth I'm not goin' tell
you nothin'!

"Oh yes, I was a young lady in slavery times--bred and born in
Tennessee. Miss Lizzie and Marse John Williams--I belonged to them--sho
did! I was scared to death of the white folks. Miss Lizzie--she mean as
the devil. She wouldn't step her foot on the ground, she so rich. No
ma'm wouldn't put her foot on the ground. Have her carriage drive up to
the door and have that silk carpet put down for her to walk on. Yes
Lord. Wouldn't half feed us and they went and named me after her.

"I know all about the stars fallin'. I was out in the field and just
come in to get our dinner. Got so dark and the stars begin to play
aroun'. Mistress say, 'Lizzie, it's the judgment.' She was just a
hollerin'. Yes ma'm I was a young woman. I been here a long time, yes
ma'm, I been here a long time. Worked and whipped, too. I run off many a
time. Run off to see my mammy three or four miles from where I was.

"I never was sold but they took we young women and brought us down in
the country to another plantation where they raised corn, wheat, and
hay. Overseer whipped us too. Marse John had a brother named Marse
Andrew and he was a good man. He'd say to the overseer, 'Now don't whip
these girls so much, they can't work.' Oh, he was a good man. Oh, white
folks was the devil in slavery tines. I was scared to death of 'em.
They'd have these long cow hide whips. Honey, I was treated bad. I seen
a time in this world.

"Oh Lord, yes, that was long 'fore the war. I was right down on my
master's place when it started. They said it was to free the niggers. Oh
Lord, we was right under it in Davidson County where I come from. Oh
Lord, yes, I knowed all about when the war started. I'se a young woman,
a young woman. We was treated just like dogs and hogs. We seed a hard
time--I know what I'm talkin' about.

"Oh God, I seed the Yankees. I saw it all. We was so scared we run under
the house and the Yankees called 'Come out Dinah' (didn't call none of
us anything but Dinah). They said 'Dinah, we're fightin' to free you and
get you out from under bondage.' I sure understood that but I didn't
have no better sense than to go back to mistress.

"Oh Lord, yes, I seed the Ku Klux. They didn't bother me cause I didn't
stay where they could; I was way under the house.

"Yankees burned up everything Marse John had. I looked up the pike and
seed the Yankees a coming'. They say 'We's a fightin' for you, Dinah!'
Yankees walked in, chile, just walked right in on us. I tell you I've
seed a time. You talkin' 'bout war--you better wish no more war come. I
know when the war started. The Secessors on this side and the Yankees on
that side. Yes, Miss, I seen enough. My brother went and jined the
Secessors and they killed him time he got in the war.

"No, Missy, I never went to no school. White folks never learned me
nothin'. I believes in tellin' white folks the truth.

"White folks didn't 'low us to marry so I never married till I come to
Arkansas and that was one year after surrender.

"First place I landed on was John Clayton's place. Mr. John Clayton was
a Yankee and he was good to us. We worked in the field and stayed there
two years. I been all up and down the river and oh Lord, I had a good
time after I was free. I been treated right since I was free. My color
is good to me and the white folks, too. I ain't goin' to tell only the
truth. Uncle Sam goin' send me 'cross the water if I don't tell the
truth. Better _not fool_ with dat man!"

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Lizzie McCloud
                    1203 E. Short 13th Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 103
[TR: Appears to be same as previous informant despite age discrepancy.]

"Well, where you been? I been wonderin' 'bout you. Yes Lawd. You sure is
lookin' fine.

"Yes, honey, I was bred and bawn in Davidson County, Tennessee. Come
here one year after surrender.

"My daughter there was a baby jus' sittin' alone, now, sittin' alone
when I come here to this Arkansas. I know what I'm talkin' about.

"Lizzie Williams, my old missis, was rich as cream. Yes Lawd! I know all
about it 'cause I worked for 'em.

"I was a young missis when the War started. I was workin' for my owners
then. I knowed when they was free--when they said they was free.

"The Yankees wouldn't call any of the colored women anything but Dinah.
I didn't know who they was till they told us. Said, 'Dinah, we's comin'
to free you.'

"The white folks didn't try to scare us 'bout the Yankees 'cause they
was too scared theirselves. Them Yankees wasn't playin'; they was
fitin'. Yes, Jesus!

"Had to work hard--and whipped too. Wasn't played with. Mars Andrew come
in the field a heap a times and say, 'Don't whip them women so hard,
they can't work.' I thought a heap of Mars Andrew.

"I used to see the Yankees ridin' hosses and them breastplates a
shining'. Yes Lawd. I'd run and they'd say, 'Dinah, we ain't gwine hurt
you.' Lawd, them Yankees didn't care for nothin'. Oh, they was fine.

"My husband was a soldier--a Yankee. Yes ma'am. They sends me thirty
dollars every month, before the fourth. Postman brings it right to me
here at the house. They treats me nice.

"When I come here, I landed on John Clayton's place. He was a Yankee and
he was a good white man too.

"I'm the onliest one left now in my family."

Interviewer: Mrs. Irene Robertson
Person Interviewed: Avalena McConico
                    on the [TR: ---- ----] west of Brinkley, Arkansas
Age: 40[TR: ?]
[TR: Much of this interview smeared and difficult to decipher;
     illegible words indicated by "----", questionable words
     followed by "?".]

"Grandma was a slave woman. Her name was Emma Harper. She was born in
Chesterville, Mississippi. Her young master was Jim and Miss Corrie
Burton. The old man was John Burton. I aimed[?] to see them once. I
seen both Miss Corrie and Mr. Jim. My grandparents was never sold. They
left out after freedom. They stayed there a long time but they left.

"The first of the War was like dis: Our related folks was having a
dance. The Yankees come in and was dancing. Some "fry boys" [---- ----]
them. The next day they were all in the field and heard something.
They went to the house and told the white folks there was [----] a
fire. They heard it. [----] he [----] about. Master told them it
was war. Miss Burton was crying. They heard about [----] in [----] at
Harrisburg where they could hear the shooting.

"They put the slaves to digging. They dug two weeks. They buried their
meat and money and a whole heap of things. They never found it. A little
white,[?] Mollita[?], was out where they were digging. She went in the
house. She said, Mama, is the devil coming? They said he was." Master
had them come to him. He questioned them. They told him they got so
tired [----] of them said he [----] he [---- ----] the [----] Yankees
come he'd tell them where all this was, but he was just talking. But
when the Yankees did come they was so scared they never got close to a
Yankee. They was scared to death. They never found the meat and money.
They [----] and cut the turkeys' heads off and the turkey fell off the
rail fence, the head drop on one side and the body on the other. They
milked a cow and cut both hind quarters off and leave the rest of the
cow there and the cow not dead yet.

"Mr. South[?] Strange at Chesterville, Mississippi had a pony named
Zane. The Yankees hemmed him and four more men in at Malone Creek and
killed the four men. Zane rared up on hind legs and went up a steep
cliff and ran three miles. Mr. Strange's coat was cut off from him. It
was a gray coat. Mr. Strange was a white man.

"Uncle Frank Jones was forty years old when they gathered him up out of
the woods and put him in the battle lines. All the runaway black folks
in the woods was hunted out and put in the Yankee lines. Uncle Frank
lived in a cave up till about then. His master made him mean. He got
better as he got old. His master would sell him and tell him to run away
and come back to his cave. He'd feed him. He never worked and he went up
for his provisions. He was sold over and over and over. His master
learnt him in books and to how to cuss. He learnt him how to trick the
dogs and tap trees like a coon. At the end of the trail the dogs would
turn on the huntsman. Uncle Frank was active when he was old. He was
hired out to race other boys sometimes. He never wore glasses. He could
see well when he was old. He told me he was raised out from England,

"When freedom was told 'em Uncle Frank said all them in the camps
hollered and danced, and marched and sung. They was so glad the War was
done and so glad they been freed.

"Grandma was sold in South Carolina to Mississippi and sold again to Dr.
Shelton. Now that was my father's father and mother. She said they rode
and walked all the way. They came on ox wagons. She said on the way they
passed some children. They was playing. A little white boy was up in a
persimmon tree settin' on a limb eating persimmons. He was so pretty and
clean. Grandma says, 'You think you is some pumpkin, don't you, honey
child.' He says, 'Some pumpkin and some 'simmon too.' Grandma was a
house girl. She got to keep her baby and brought him. He was my father.
Uncle was born later. Then they was freed. Grandma lived to be
ninety-five years old. Mrs. Dolphy Wooly and Mrs. Shelton was her young
mistresses. They kept her till she died. They kept her well.

"Grandma told us about freedom. She was hired out to the Browns to make
sausage and dry out lard. Five girls was in the field burning brush.
They was white girls--Mrs. Brown's girls. They come to the house and
said some Blue Coats come by and said, 'You free.' They told them back,
'That's no news, we was born free.' Grandma said that night she melted
pewter and made dots on her best dress. It was shiny. She wore it home
next day 'cause she was free, and she never left from about her own
white folks till she died and left them.

"Times seem very good on black folks till hard cold winter and spring
come, then times is mighty, mighty bad. It is so hard to keep warm fires
and enough to eat. Times have been good. Black folks in the young
generation need more heart training and less book learning. Times is so
fast the young set is too greedy. They is wasteful too. Some is hard
workers and tries to live right.

"I wash and irons and keep a woman's little chile so she can work. I
owns my home."

Interviewer: Mrs. Irene Robertson
Person Interviewed: Ike McCoy, Biscoe, Arkansas
Age: 65
[TR: Illegible words indicated by "----",
     questionable words followed by "?".]

"My parents named Harriett and Isaac McCoy. Far as I knew they was
natives of North Kaline (Carolina). He was a farmer. He raised corn and
cabbage, a little corn and wheat. He had tasks at night in winter I
heard him say. She muster just done anything. She knit for us here in
the last few years. She died several years ago. Now my oldest sister was
born in slavery. I was next but I came way after slavery.

"In war time McCoys hid their horses in the woods. The Yankees found
them and took all the best ones and left their [----] (nags). Old boss
man McCoy hid in the closet and locked himself up. The Yankees found
him, broke in on him and took him out and they nearly killed him 
beating him so bad. He told all of 'em on the place he was going off.
They wore him out. He didn't live long after that.

"Things got lax. I heard her say one man sold all his slaves. The War
broke out. They run away and went back to him. She'd see 'em pass going
back home. They been sold and wouldn't stay. Folks got to running off to
war. They thought it look like a frolic. I heard some of them say they
wish they hadn't gone off to war 'fore it was done. Niggers didn't know
that[TR: ?] war no freedom was 'ceptin' the Yankees come tell them
something and then they couldn't understand how it all be. Black folks
was mighty ignant then. They is now for that matter. They look to white
folks for right kind of doings[?].

"Ma said every now and then see somebody going back to that man tried to
get rid of them. They traveled by night and beg along from black folks.
In daytime they would stay in the woods so the pettyrollers wouldn't run
up on them. The pettyrollers would whoop 'em if they catch 'em.

"Ma told about one day the Yankees come and made the white women came
help the nigger women cook up a big dinner. Ma was scared so bad she
couldn't see nothing she wanted. She said there was no talking. They was
too scared to say a word. They sot the table and never a one of them
told 'em it was ready.

"She said biscuits so scarce after the War they took 'em 'round in their
pockets to nibble on they taste so good.

"I was eighteen years old when pa and ma took the notion to come out
here. All of us come but one sister had married, and pa and one brother
had a little difference. Pa had children ma didn't have. They went
together way after slavery. We got transportation to Memphis by train
and took a steamboat to Pillowmount. That close to Forrest City. Later
on I come to Biscoe. They finally come too.

"I been pretty independent all my life till I getting so feeble. I work
a sight now. I'm making boards to kiver my house out at the lot now. I
goiner get somebody to kiver it soon as I get my boards made.

"We don't get no PWA aid 'ceptin' for two orphant babies we got. They
are my wife's sister's little boys.

"Well sir-ree, folks could do if the young ones would. Young folks don't
have no consideration for the old wore-out parents. They dance and drink
it bodaciously out on Saturday ebening and about till Sunday night. I
may be wrong but I sees it thater way. Whan we get old we get helpless.
I'm getting feebler every year. I see that. Times goiner be hard ag'in
this winter and next spring. Money is scarce now for summer time and
craps laid by. I feels that my own self now. Every winter times get

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Richard H. McDaniel, Brinkley, Arkansas
Age: 73

"I was born in Newton County, Mississippi the first year of the
surrender. I don't think my mother was sold and I know my father was
never sold. Jim McDaniel raised my father and one sister after his
mother died. One sister was married when she died. I heard him say when
he got mad he would quit work. He said old master wouldn't let the
mistress whoop him and she wouldn't let him whoop my father. My father
was a black man but my mother was light. Her father was a white man and
her mother part Indian and white mixed, so what am I? My mother was
owned by people named Wash. Dick Wash was her young master. My parents'
names was Willis and Elsie McDaniel. When it was freedom I heard them
say Moster McDaniel told them they was free. He was broke. If they could
do better go on, he didn't blame them, he couldn't promise them much
now. They moved off on another man's place to share crop. They had to
work as hard and didn't have no more than they had in slavery. That is
what they told me. They could move around and visit around without
asking. They said it didn't lighten the work none but it lightened the
rations right smart. Moster McDaniel nor my father neither one went to

"From the way I always heard it, the Ku Klux was the law like night
watchman. When I was a boy there was a lot of stealing and bushwhacking.
Folks meet you out and kill you, rob you, whoop you. A few of the black
men wouldn't work and wanted to steal. That Ku Klux was the law watching
around. Folks was scared of em. I did see them. I would run hide.

"I farmed up till 1929. Then I been doing jobs. I worked on relief till
they turned me off, said I was too old to work but they won't give me
the pension. I been trying to figure out what I am to do. Lady, could
you tell me? Work at jobs when I can get them.

"I allus been voting till late years. If they let some folks vote in the
first lection, they would be putting in somebody got no business in the
gover'ment. All the fault I see in white folks running the gover'ment is
we colored folks ain't got work we can do all the time to live on. I
thought all the white folks had jobs what wanted jobs. The conditions is
hard for old men like me. I pay $3 for a house every month. It is a cold

"This present generation is living a fast life. What all don't they do?"

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Waters McIntosh
                    1900 Howard Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: 76

"I was born July 4, 1862 at 2:08 in the morning at Lynchburg, Sumter
County, South Carolina.


"My mother was named Lucy Sanders. My father was named Sumter Durant.
Our owner was Dr. J.M. Sanders, the son of Mr. Bartlett Sanders. Sumter
Durant was a white man. My mother was fourteen years old when I was born
I was her second child. Durant was in the Confederate army and was
killed during the War in the same year I was born, and before my birth.


"When I was a year old, my mother was sold for $1500 in gold, and I was
sold for $500 in gold to William Carter who lived about five miles south
of Cartersville. The payment was made in fine gold. I was sold because
my folk realized that freedom was coming and they wanted to obtain the
cash value of their slaves.


"My name is spelled 'Waters' but it is pronounced 'Waiters.' When I was
born, I was thought to be a very likely child and it was proposed that I
should be a waiter. Therefore I was called Waters (but it was pronounced
Waiters). They did not spell it w-a-i-t-e-r-s, but they pronounced it
that way.

How Freedom Came

"My mother said that they had been waiting a long time to hear what had
become of the War, perhaps one or two weeks. One day when they were in
the field moulding corn, going round the corn hoeing it and putting a
little hill around it, the conk sounded at about eleven o'clock, and
they knew that the long expected time had come. They dropped their hoes
and went to the big house. They went around to the back where the master
always met the servants and he said to them, 'You are all free, free as
I am. You can go or come as you please. I want you to stay. If you will
stay, I will give you half the crop.' That was the beginning of the
share cropping system.

"My mother came at once to the quarters, and when she found me she
pulled the end out of a corn sack, stuck holes on the sides, put a cord
through the top, pulled out the end, put it on me, put on the only dress
she had, and made it back to the old home (her first master's folk).

What the Slaves Expected

"When the slaves were freed, they got what they expected. They were glad
to get it and get away with it, and that was what mother and them did.

Slave Time Preaching

"One time when an old white man come along who wanted to preach, the
white people gave him a chance to preach to the niggers. The substance
of his sermon was this:

"'Now when you servants are working for your masters, you must be
honest. When you go to the mill, don't carry along an extra sack and put
some of the meal or the flour in for yourself. And when you women are
cooking in the big house, don't make a big pocket under your dress and
put a sack of coffee and a sack of sugar and other things you want in

"They took him out and hanged him for corrupting the morals of the

Conditions After the War

"Immediately after the War, there was a great scarcity of food. Neither
Negroes nor white folk had anything to eat. The few white people who did
have something wouldn't let it be known. My grandmother who was
sixty-five years old and one of the old and respected inhabitants of
that time went out to find something for us to eat. A white woman named
Mrs. Burton gave her a sack of meal and told her not to tell anybody
where she got it.

"My grandmother brought the meal home and cooked it in a large skillet
in a big cake. When it got done, she cut it into slices in the way you
would cut up a pie and divided it among us. That all we had to eat.


"The white people in those days built their houses back from the front.
In South Carolina, there were lots of farms that had four to twelve
thousand acres. From what mother told me, Master Bill's place set back
from the road. Then there was a great square place they called the yard.
A fence divided the house and the yard adjoining it from that part of
the grounds which held the barn. The yard in front and back of the house
held a grove.


The square around the house and the Negro quarters were all enclosed so
that the little slaves could not get out while parents were at work. The
Negroes assembled on the porch when the gong called them in the morning.
The boss gave orders from the porch. There was an open space between the
quarters and the court (where the little slaves played). There was a
gate between the court and the big house.

"On the rear of the house, there was a porch from which the boss gave
orders usually about four o'clock in the morning and at which they would
disband in the evening between nine and ten--no certain time but more or
less not earlier than nine and not often later than ten. Back of the
house and beyond it was a fence extending clear across the yard. In one
corner of this fence was a gate leading into the court. Leading out of
the court was an opening surrounded by a semi-circular fence which
enclosed the Negro quarters.

"The cabins were usually built on the ground--no floors. The roofs were
covered with clapboards.

"When I was a boy we used to sing, 'Rather be a nigger than a poor white
man.' Even in slavery they used to sing that. It was the poor white man
who was freed by the War, not the Negroes.


"There wasn't any furniture. Beds were built with one post out and the
other three _sides_ fastened to the sides of the house.

Marrying Time

"I remember one night the people were gone to marry. That was when all
the people in the community married immediately after slavery.


"We had an open fireplace. That was at Bartlett Sanders' place. He had
close on to three thousand acres. Every grown person had gone to the
marrying, and I was at home in the bed I just described.

"My grandfather's mother[HW: ?] had a chair and that was hers only. She
was named Senia and was about eighty years old. We burned nothing but
pine knots in the hearth. You would put one or two of those on the fire
and they would burn for hours. We were all in bed and had been for an
hour or two. There were some others sleeping in the same room. There
came a peculiar knocking on grandmother's[HW: great grandmother?] chair.
It's hard to describe it. It was something like the distant beating of a
drum. Grandmother was dead, of course. The boys got up and ran out and
brought in some of the hands. When they came in, a little thing about
three and a half feet high with legs about six or eight inches long ran
out of the room.

Ku Klux Klan

"Whenever there was a man of influence, they terrorized him. They were
at their height about the time of Grant's election. Many a time my
mother and I have watched them pass our door. They wore gowns and some
kind of helmet. They would be going to catch same leading Negro and whip
him. There was scarcely a night they couldn't take a leading Negro out
and whip him if they would catch him alone. On that account, the Negro
men did not stay at home in Sumter County, South Carolina at night. They
left home and stayed together. The Ku Klux very seldom interfered with a
woman or a child.

"They often scared colored people by drinking large quantities of water.
They had something that held a lot of water, and when they would raise
the bucket to their mouths to drink, they would slip the water into it.

White Caps

"The white caps operated further to the northwest of where I lived. I
never came in contact with them. They were not the same thing as the Ku


"In South Carolina under the Reconstruction, we voted right along. In
1868 there were soldiers at all of the election places to see that you
did vote.

Career Since the War

"In 1881 I married. The year after that, in '83,[HW: ?] I merchandised a
little. Then I got converted. I got it in my head that it was wrong to
take big profits from business, so I sold out. Then I was asked to
assist the keeper of the jail.

"In 1888 I went to school for the first time. I was then twenty-six
years old. By the end of the first term, I knew all that the teacher
could teach, so he sent me to Claflin University. I left there in the
third year normal.

"When I returned home, I taught school, at first in a private school and
later in a public school for $15 a month.

"A man named Boyle told me that he had some ground to sell. I saved up
$45, the price he asked for it. When I offered it to him, he said that
he had decided not to sell it. I went to town and spent my $45. A few
days later, he met me and offered me the place again. I told him I had
spent my money. He then offered it to me on time. There was plenty of
timber on the place, so I got some contracts with a man named Roland and
delivered wood to him. When I went to collect the money, he said he
would not pay me in money.

"A man named Pennington offered me 20¢ a day for labor. I asked if he
would pay in money.

"He replied, 'If you're looking for money, don't come.'

"I went home and said to my wife, 'I am going to leave here.'

"I came to Forrest City, Arkansas January 28, 1888. I farmed in Forrest
City, making one crop, and then I entered the ministry, and then I
preached at Spring Park for two years.

"Then I entered Philander Smith College where I stayed from 1891-1897. I
preached from the time I left Philander until 1913.

"Then I studied law and completed the American Correspondence course in
Law when I was fifty years old. I am still practicing.

Wife and Family

"In 1897, when I graduated from Philander, my wife and six children were
sitting on the front seat.

"I have eleven sons and daughters, of whom six are living. I had seven
brothers and sisters.

"My wife and I have been married fifty-six years. I had to steal her
away from her parents, and she has never regretted coming to me nor I
taking her."

Interviewer's Comment

"Brother Mack" as he is familiarly and affectionately known to his
friends is a man keen and vigorous, mentally and physically. He attends
Sunday school, church both in the morning and evening, and all
departments of the Epworth League. He takes the Epworth Herald, the
Southwestern Christian Advocate, the Literary Digest, some poultry and
farm magazines, the Arkansas Gazette, and the St. Louis Democrat, and
several other journals. He is on omnivorous reader and a clear thinker.
He raises chickens and goats and plants a garden as avocations. He has
on invincible reputation for honesty as well as for thrift and thought.

Nothing is pleasanter than to view the relationship between him and his
wife. They have been married fifty-six years and seem to have achieved a
perfect understanding. She is an excellent cook and is devoted to her
home. She attends church regularly. Seems to be four or five years
younger than her husband. Like him, however, she seems to enjoy
excellent health.

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Cresa Mack
                    1417 Short Indiana St., Pine Bluff, Ark.
Age: 85

"I can tell you something about slavery days. I was born at South Bend,
Arkansas on the old Joe Clay place. I 'member they used to work 'em
scandalous. They used me at the house and I used to wait on old
mistress' brother. He was a old man named Cal Fletcher.

"I 'member when they said the Yankees was comin' the boss man put us in
wagons and runned us to Texas. They put the women and chillun in the
wagons but the men had to walk. I know I was something over twelve years

"Old mistress, Miss Sarah Clay, took her chillun and went to Memphis.

"My white folks treated us very well. I never seed 'em whip my mother
but once, but I seen some whipped till they's speechless. Yes ma'm I

"I can 'member a lot 'bout the war. The Lord have mercy, I'se old. I
'member they used to sing

  'Run nigger run,
  The paddyrollers'll ketch you,
  Run nigger run.'

"Corse if they ketch you out without a pass they'd beat you nearly to
death and tell you to go home to your master.

"One time I was totin' water for the woman what did the washin'. I was
goin' along the road and seed somethin' up in a tree that look like a
dog. I said 'Look at that dog.' The overseer was comin' from the house
and said 'That ain't no dog, that's a panther. You better not stop' and
he shot it out. Then I've seen bears out in the cane brakes. I thought
they was big black bulls. I was young then--yes mam, I was young.

"When the Yankees come through they sot the house afire and the gin and
burned up 'bout a hundred bales a cotton. They never bothered the
niggers' quarters. That was the time the overseer carried us to Texas to
get rid of the Yankees.

"After the surrender the Yankees told the overseer to bring us all up in
the front yard so he could read us the ceremony and he said we was as
free as any white man that walked the ground. I didn't know what 'twas
about much cause I was too busy playin'.

"I didn't know what school was 'fore freedom, but I went about a month
after peace was declared. Then papa died and mama took me out and put me
in the field.

"I was grown, 'bout twenty-four or five, when I married. Now my chillun
and grand chillun takes care of me."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Warren McKinney, Hazen, Arkansas
Age: 85

I was born in Edgefield County, South Carolina. I am eighty-five years
old. I was born a slave of George Strauter. I remembers hearing them say
"Thank God Ize free as a jay bird." My ma was a slave in the field. I
was eleven years old when freedom was declared. When I was little, Mr.
Strauter whipped my ma. It hurt me bad as it did her. I hated him. She
was crying. I chunked him with rocks. He run after me, but he didn't
catch me. There was twenty-five or thirty hands that worked in the
field. They raised wheat, corn, oats, barley, and cotton. All the
children that couldn't work stayed at one house. Aunt Mat kept the
babies and small children that couldn't go to the field. He had a gin
and a shop. The shop was at the fork of the roads. When de war come on
my papa went to build forts. He quit ma and took another woman. When de
war closed ma took her four children, bundled em up and went to Augusta.
The government give out rations there. My ma washed and ironed. People
died in piles. I don't know till yet what was de matter. They said it
was the change of living. I seen five or six wooden, painted coffins
piled up on wagons pass by our house. Loads passed every day lack you
see cotton pass here. Some said it was cholorea and some took
consumption. Lots of de colored people nearly starved. Not much to get
to do and not much house room. Several families had to live in one
house. Lots of the colored folks went up north and froze to death. They
couldn't stand the cold. They wrote back about them dieing. No they
never sent them back. I heard some sent for money to come back. I heerd
plenty bout the Ku Klux. They scared the folks to death. People left
Augusta in droves. About a thousand would all meet and walk going to
hunt work and new homes. Some of them died. I had a sister and brother
lost that way. I had another sister come to Louisiana that way. She
wrote back.

I don't think the colored folks looked for a share of land. They never
got nothing cause the white folks didn't have nothing but barren hills
left. About all the mules was wore out hauling provisions in the army.
Some folks say they ought to done more for de colored folks when dey
left, but dey say dey was broke. Freeing all de slaves left em broke.

That reconstruction was a mighty hard pull. Me and ma couldn't live. A
man paid our ways to Carlisle, Arkansas and we come. We started working
for Mr. Emenson. He had a big store, teams, and land. We liked it fine,
and I been here fifty-six years now. There was so much wild game living
was not so hard. If a fellow could get a little bread and a place to
stay he was all right. After I come to dis state I voted some. I have
farmed and worked at odd jobs. I farmed mostly. Ma went back to her old
master. He persuaded her to come back home. Me and her went back and run
a farm four or five years before she died. Then I come back here. I
first had 300 acres at Carlisle. I sold it and bought 80 acres at Green
Grove. I married in South Carolina. We had a fine weddin, home weddin.
Each of our families furnished the weddin supper. We had 24 waiters.
That is all the wife I ever had. We lived together 57 years. It is hard
for me to keep up with my mind since she died. She been dead five years
nearly now. I used to sing but I forgot all the songs. We had song
books. I joined the church when I was twelve years old.

I think the times are worse than they use to be. The people is living
mighty fast I tell you. I don't get no help from the government. They
won't give me the pension. I can't work and I can't pay taxes on my
place. They just don't give me nothing but a little out of the store. I
can't get no pension.

Little Rock District
Name of Interviewer: Irene Robertson
Subject: Ex-Slave--History

This Information given by: Warren McKinney
Place of Residence: Hazen, Green Grove Settlement, Arkansas
Occupation: Farming
Age: 84
[TR: Information moved from bottom of first page.]

Warren McKinney was born in Edgefield County, South Carolina. He was
born a slave. His master was George Strauter. He had a big plantation
and worked twenty-five or thirty work hands. There were twenty-five or
thirty children too small to work in the field. They raised cotton,
corn, oats, and wheat. His mother washed and ironed and cooked. He was
small but well remembers once when his mother had been sick and had just
gotten out. George Strauter whipped her with a switch on her legs.
Warren did not approve of it. Rocks were plentiful and he began throwing
at him. He said Mr. George took out after him but didn't catch or whip

George Strauter tried to teach them all how to be good farmers and be
saving. Warren knew war was going on but he didn't see any of it. His
father came home several times. He was off building forts. He said he
remembered a big "hurly-burly" and he heard 'em saying, "Thank God I'ze
free as a jay bird." He didn't know why they were fighting so he didn't
know then why they were saying that.

George Strauter had a shop at the fork of the roads. He had his own gin.
They sold cotton and bought provisions at Augusta, Georgia. They made
some of their meal and flour and raised all their meat and made enough
lard to do the year around.

He heard them talking about the "Yankees" burning up Augusta, but he saw
where they had burned Hamburg, South Carolina or North Augusta they call

After they were free he remembers his mother bundling up her things and
her family and them all going in an ox cart to Augusta to live. Warren's
mother washed, cooked and ironed for a living. Her husband went off and
lived with another woman after freedom. Warren was about eleven years
old then. The Government furnished food for them too. One thing that
distressed Warren was _the way people died for more than a year_. He saw
five or six coffins piled up on a wagon being taken out to be buried. He
thought it was changing houses and changing ways of living. They didn't
have shoes and warm clothes and weren't fed from white folks smoke
house. _Lots of the slaves had Consumption and died right now_. Stout
men and women didn't live two years after they were freed. Lots of them
said they didn't like that freedom and wanted to go back but the masters
were broke and couldn't keep many of them if they went back.

When Warren was about fifteen years old, there was a white man or two,
but colored leaders mostly got about a thousand colored people to start
for the West walking. Warren had sisters and brothers who started on
this trip. Warren had some fussy brothers, his mother was afraid would
get in jail. They kept her uneasy. They shipped their "stuff" by boat
and train. He never saw them any more but he heard from them in
Louisiana. Louisiana had a bad name in those days.

When Warren was about fourteen and fifteen, his mother had them on a
farm, farming near Hamburg.

When he was sixteen or seventeen, his mother and the other children came
on the train to about where Carlisle now is but it wasn't called by that
name. There were very few houses of any kind. Mr. Emerson had a big
store and lots of land. He worked black and white. Mr. Emerson let them
have seven or eight mules and wagons and they farmed near there. He
remembers pretty soon there was a depot where the depot now stands, a
bank, a post office, and two or three more stores, all small buildings.
He liked coming to Arkansas because he got to ride on the train a long
ways. It was easy to live here. There were lots of game and fish.

Warren never shot anything in his life. He was no hunter. _Nats_ were
awful. Warren made smoke to run the nats from the cows. Four or five
deer would come to the smoke. Cows were afraid of them and would leave
the smoke. When he would go the deer would leap four or five feet in the
air at the sight of him.

When Warren lived in Augusta, Georgia, they had schools a month at a
time but Warren never did get to go to any, so he can't read or write.
But he learned to save his money. He joined a church when he was twelve
years old in South Carolina and belongs to the Baptist church at Green
Grove now.

The old master in South Carolina persuaded his mother to come back. They
all went back four or five years before his mother died. While Warren
was there he married a woman on a joining farm.

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Victoria McMullen
                    1416 E. Valmar, Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: 54
Occupation: Seamstress

"My mother was born March 16, 1865, and knew nothing of slavery.

"Both my grandmothers and both grandfathers were slaves. My father was
born in the same year as my mother and like my mother knew nothing of
slavery although both of them might have been born slaves.

"I knew my mother's mother and father and my father's mother, but I
didn't know my father's father.

"He was from Texas and he always stayed there. He never did come out to
Louisiana where I was born. My mother was born in Louisiana, but my
father was born in Texas. I don't know what county or city my father was
born in. I just heard my grandmother on his side say he was born in

"During the War (he was born in '65 when the War ceased), Grandmother
Katy--that was her name, Katy, Katy Elmore--she was in Louisiana at
first--she was run out in Texas, I suppose, to be hidden from the
Yankees. My father was born there and my grandfather stayed there. He
died in Texas and then Grandma Katy come back to Louisiana with my
father and settled in Ouachita Parish.

"Grandma Katy was sold from South Carolina into Louisiana to Bob
McClendon, and she kept the name of Elmore who was her first owner in
South Carolina. It was Bob McClendon who run her out in Texas to hide
her from the Yankees. My grandfather in Texas kept the name of Jamison.
That was the name of his master in Texas. But grandma kept the name of
Elmore from South Carolina because he was good to her. He was better
than Bob McClendon. The eastern states sold their slaves to the southern
states and got all the money, then they freed the slaves and that left
the South without anything.

"Grandma Katy had Creek Indian blood in her. She was of medium size and
height, copper colored, high cheek bones, small squinchy eyes, black
curly hair. Her hair was really pretty but she didn't curl it. It was
just naturally curly. She was a practical nurse as they call it, but she
did more of what some people call a midwife. They call it something else
now. They got a proper word for it.

"They got it in these government agencies. That is what she was even in
slavery times. She worked for colored people and white people both. That
was after she was freed until she went blind. She went blind three years
before she died. She died at the age of exactly one hundred years. She
treated women and babies. They said she was a real good doctor in her
day. That is been fifty-four years ago. [I will be fifty-four years old
tomorrow--September 18, 1938.] In slavery times my grandma was almost as
free as she was in freedom because of her work.

"She said that Bob McClendon was cruel to her. Sometimes he'd get angry
and take the shovel and throw hot ashes on the slaves. And then he'd see
them with blisters on them and he would take a handsaw or a flat plank
and bust the blisters. Louisiana was a warm country and they wouldn't
have much clothes on. When the slaves were freed, he went completely
broke. He had scarcely a place to live.

"I seen him once. Be look like on old possum. He had a long beard down
to his waist and he had long side burns too. Just a little of his face
showed. He was tall and stooping and he wore his hair long and uncut
down on his neck. You know about what he looked like. He had on blue
jeans pants and brogan shoes and a common shirt--a work shirt. He wore
very common clothes. When they freed the Negroes, it broke him up
completely. He had been called a 'big-to-do' in his life but he wasn't
nothing then. He owned Grandma Katy.

"Grandma Katy had a sister named Maria and a brother named Peter. He
owned all three of them. I have seen all of them. Grandma Katy was the
oldest. She and Uncle Peter stayed close together. He didn't have no
wife and she didn't have no husband. But Aunt Maria had a husband. She
lived off from them after freedom. It was about twelve miles away. My
great-aunt and great-uncle--they were Maria and Peter--that was what
they were. Uncle Peter died first before I left Louisiana, but Aunt
Maria and Grandma Katy died after I came to Arkansas. Grandma Katy lived
four years after I came here.

"After they was free and my father had gotten large enough to work and
didn't have no horse, my grandma was going 'round waiting on women--that
is all she did--all the rest of the people had gotten large and left
home. Papa made a crop with a hoe. He made three bales of cotton and
about twelve loads of corn with that hoe. He used to tell me, 'You don't
know nothin' 'bout work. You oughter see how I had to work.' After that
he bought him a horse. Money was scarce then and it took something to
buy the place and the horse both. They were turned loose from slavery
without anything. Hardly had a surname--just Katy, Maria, and Peter.

"I knew more about the slave-time history of my mother's folks than I
did about my father's but I'll tell you that some other time. My
grandmother on my mother's side was born in Richmond, Virginia. She was
owned by a doctor but I can't call his name. She gets her name from her
husband's owners. They came from Virginia. They didn't take the name of
their owners in Louisiana. They took the name of the owners in Virginia.
She was a twin--her twin was a boy named June and her name was Hetty.
Her master kept her brother to be a driver for him. She was sent from
Virginia to Louisiana to people that were related to her Virginia
people. She called her Louisiana mistress 'White Ma;' she never did call
her 'missis.' The white folks and the colored folks too called her
Indian because she was mixed with Choctaw. That's the Indian that has
brown spots on the jaw. They're brownskin. It was an Indian from the
Oklahoma reservation that said my mother belonged to the Choctaws.

"She rode from Virginia to Louisiana on a boat at the age of twelve
years. She was separated from her mother and brothers and sisters and
never did see them again. She was kept in the house for a nurse. She was
not a midwife. She nursed the white babies. That was what she was sent
to Louisiana for--to nurse the babies. The Louisiana man that owned her
was named George Dorkins. But I think this white woman came from
Virginia. She married this Louisiana man, then sent back to her father's
house and got grandma; she got her for a nurse. She worked only a year
and a half in the field before peace was declared. After she got grown
and married, my grandfather--she had to stay with him and cook and keep
house for him. That was during slavery time but after George Dorkins
died. Dorkins went and got hisself a barrel of whiskey--one of these
great big old barrels--and set it up in his house, and put a faucet in
it and didn't do nothin' but drink whiskey. He said he was goin' to
drink hisself to death. And he did.

"He was young enough to go to war and he said he would drink hisself to
death before he would go, and he did. My grandma used to steal
newspapers out of his house and take them down to the quarters and leave
them there where there were one or two slaves that could read and tell
how the War was goin' on. I never did learn how the slaves learned to
read. But she was in the house and she could steal the papers and send
them down. Later she could slip off and they would tell her the news,
and then she could slip the papers back.

"Her master drank so much he couldn't walk without falling and she would
have to help him out. Her mistress was really good. She never allowed
the overseer to whip her. She was only whipped once in slave time while
my father's mother was whipped more times than you could count.

"Her master often said, 'I'll drink myself to death before I'll go to
war and be shot down like a damn target.' She said in living with them
in the house, she learned to cuss from him. She said she was a cussin'
soul until she became a Christian. She wasn't 'fraid of them because she
was kin to them in some way. There was another woman there who was some
kin to them and she looked enough like my grandma for them to be kin to
each other. We talked it over several times and said we believed we were
related; but none of us know for sure.

"When the slaves wanted something said they would have my grandma say it
because they knew she wouldn't be whipped for it. 'White Ma' wouldn't
let nobody whip her if she knew it. She cussed the overseer out that
time for whipping her.

"When grandma was fourteen or fifteen years old they locked her up in
the seed house once or twice for not going to church. You see they let
the white folks go to the church in the morning and the colored folks in
the evening, and my grandma didn't always want to go. She would be
locked up in the seed bin and she would cuss the preacher out so he
could hear her. She would say, 'Master, let us out.' And he would say,
'You want to go to church?' And she would say, 'No, I don't want to hear
that same old sermon: "Stay out of your missis' and master's hen house.
Don't steal your missis' and master's chickens. Stay out of your missis'
and master's smokehouse. Don't steal your missis' and master's hams." I
don't steal nothing. Don't need to tell me not to.'

"She was tellin' the truth too. She didn't steal because she didn't have
to. She had plenty without stealin'! She got plenty to eat in the house.
But the other slaves didn't git nothin' but fat meat and corn bread and
molasses. And they got tired of that same old thing. They wanted
something else sometimes. They'd go to the hen house and get chickens.
They would go to the smokehouse and get hams and lard. And they would
get flour and anything else they wanted and they would eat something
they wanted. There wasn't no way to keep them from it.

"The reason she got whipped that time, the overseer wanted her to help
get a tree off the fence that had been blown down by a storm. She told
him that wasn't her work and she wasn't goin' to do it. Old miss was
away at that time. He hit her a few licks and she told old miss when she
came back. Old 'White Ma' told the overseer, 'Don't never put your hands
on her no more no matter what she does. That's more than I do. I don't
hit her and you got no business to do it.'

"Her husband, my grandfather, was a blacksmith, and he never did work in
the field. He made wagons, plows, plowstocks, buzzard wings--they call
them turning plows now. They used to make and put them on the stocks. He
made anything-handles, baskets. He could fill wagon wheels. He could
sharpen tools. Anything that come under the line of blacksmith, that is
what he did. He used to fix wagons all the time I knowed him. In harvest
time in the fall he would drive from Bienville where they were slaves to
Monroe in Ouachita Parish. He kept all the plows and was sharpening and
fixing anything that got broke. He said he never did get no whipping.

"His name was Tom Eldridge. They called him 'Uncle Tom'. They was the
mother and father of twelve children. Six lived and six died. One boy
and five girls lived. And one girl and five boys died--half and half. He
died at the age of seventy-five, June 6, 1908. She died January 1920.

"I came out here in January 1907. I lived in Pine Bluff. From Louisiana
I came to Pine Bluff in 1906. In 1907 I went to Kerr in Lonoke County
and lived there eight years and then I came to Little Rock. I farmed at
Kerr and just worked 'round town those few months in Pine Bluff.
Excusing the time I was in Pine Bluff and Little Rock I farmed. I farmed
in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Nannie P. Madden
                    West Memphis, Arkansas
Age: 69

"I am Martha Johnson's sister. I was born at Lake Village, Arkansas. I
am 69 years old. I was born on Mr. Ike Wethingtons place. Pa was
renting. Mother died in 1876 on this farm. We called it Red Leaf
plantation. Father died at Martha Johnson's here in West Memphis when he
was 88 years old.

"Mother was not counted a slave. Her master's Southern wife (white wife)
disliked her very much but kept her till her death. Mother had three
white children by her master. After freedom she married a black man and
had four children by him. We are in the last set.

"We was born after slavery and all we know is from hearing our people
talk. Father talked all time about slavery. He was a soldier. I couldn't
tell you straight. I can give you some books on slavery:

  Booker T. Washington's Own Story of His Life and Work,
  64 page supplement, by Albon L. Holsey

    Authentic Edition--in office of Library of Congress,
    Washington, D.C., 1915, copywrighted by J.L. Nichols

  The Master Mind of a Child of Slavery--Booker T. Washington,
  by Frederick E. Drinker, Washington, D.C.

I have read them both. Yes, they are my own books.

"I farmed and cooked all my life."

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Perry Madden, Thirteenth Street, south side,
                    one block east of Boyle Park Road, Route 6,
                    Care L.G. Cotton, Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: About 79

Birth and Age

"I have been here quite a few years. This life is short. A man ought to
prepare for eternity. I had an uncle who used to say that a person who
went to torment stayed as long as there was a grain of sand on the sea.

"I was a little boy when slavery broke. I used to go out with my
brother. He watched gaps. I did not have to do anything; I just went out
with him to keep him company. I was scared of the old master. I used to
call him the 'Big Bear.' He was a great big old man.

"I was about six years old when the War ended, I guess. I don't know how
old I am. The insurance men put me down as seventy-three. I know I was
here in slavery time, and I was just about six years old when the War


"I got my first learning in Alabama. I didn't learn anything at all in
slavery times. I went to school. I would go to the house in slavery
tine, and there wouldn't be nobody home, and I would go to the bed and
get under it because I was scared. When I would wake up it would be way
in the night and dark, and I would be in bed.

"I got my schooling way after the surrender. We would make crops. The
third time we moved, dad started me to school. I had colored teachers. I
was in Talladega County. I made the fifth grade before I stopped. My
father died and then I had to stop and take care of my mother.

An "Aunt Caroline" Story

"I know that some people can tell things that are goin' to happen. Old
man Julks lived at Pumpkin Bend. He had a colt that disappeared. He went
to 'Aunt Caroline'--that's Caroline Dye. She told him just where the
colt was and who had it and how he had to get it back. She described the
colt and told him that was what he come to find out about before he had
a chance to ask her anything. She told him that white people had it and
told him where they lived and told him he would have to have a white man
go and git it for him. He was working for a good man and he told him
about it. He advertised for the colt and the next day, the man that
stole it came and told him that a colt had been found over on his place
and for him to come over and arrange to git it. But he said, 'No, I've
placed that matter in the hands of my boss.' He told his boss about it,
but the fellow brought the horse and give it to the boss without any

Family and Masters

"My old master's slaves were called free niggers. He and his wife never
mistreated their slaves. When any of Madden's slaves were out and the
pateroles got after them, if they could make it home, that ended it.
Nobody beat Madden's niggers.

"My father's name was Allen Madden and my mother's name was Amy Madden.
I knew my grandfather and grandmother on my mother's side. My
grandfather and grandmother never were 'round me though that I can

"When the old man died, the Negroes were divided out. This boy got so
many and that one got so many. The old man, Mabe Madden, had two sons,
John and Little Mabe. My mother and father went to John. They were in
Talladega because John stayed there.

"My father's mother and father fell to Little Mabe Madden. They never
did come to Alabama but I have heard my father talk about them so much.
My father's father was named Harry. His last name must have been Madden.

"My grandfather on my mother's side was named Charlie Hall. He married
into the Madden family. He belonged to the Halls before he married. Old
man Charlie, his master, had a plantation that wasn't far from the
Madden's plantation. In those days, if you met a girl and fell in love
with her, you could git a pass and go to see her if you wanted to. You
didn't have to be on the same plantation at all. And you could marry her
and go to see her, and have children by her even though you belonged to
different masters. The Maddens never did buy Hall. Grandma never would
change her name to Hall. He stayed at my house after we married, stayed
with me sometimes, and stayed with his other son sometimes.

"My mother was born a Madden. She was born right at Madden's place. When
grandma married Hall, like it is now, she would have been called Hall.
But she was born a Madden and stayed Madden and never did change to her
husband's name. So my mother was born a Madden although her father's
name was Hall.

"I don't know what sort of man Mabe was, and I only know what my parents
said about John. They said he was a good man and I have to say what they
said. He didn't let nobody impose on his niggers. Pateroles did git
after them and bring them in with the hounds, but when they got in, that
settled it. Madden never would allow white people to beat on his

"They tried to git my daddy out so that they could whip him, but they
couldn't catch him. They shot him--the pateroles did--but he whipped
them. My daddy was a coon. I mean he was a good man.

Early Life

"My brother was big enough to mind gaps. That was in slavery times. They
had good fences around the field. They didn't have gates like they do
now. They had gaps. The fence would zigzag, and the rails could be
lifted down at one section, and that would leave a gap. If you left a
gap, the stock would go into the field. When there was a gap, my brother
would stay in it and keep the stock from passing. When the folks would
come to dinner, he would go in and eat dinner with them just as big as
anybody. When they would leave, the gap would stay down till night. It
stayed down from morning till noon and from one o'clock till the men
come in at night. The gap was a place in the rails like I told you where
they could take down the rails to pass. It took time to lay the rails
down and more time to place then back up again. They wouldn't do it.
They would leave them down till they come back during the work hours and
a boy that was too small to do anything else was put to mind them. My
brother used to do that and I would keep him company. When I heard old
master coming there, I'd be gone, yes siree. I would see him when he
left the house and when he got to the gap, I would be home or at my

Occupational Experiences

"I have followed farming all my life. That is the sweetest life a man
can lead. I have been farming all my life principally. My occupation is
farming. That is it was until I lost my health. I ain't done nothin' for
about four years now. I would follow public work in the fall of the year
and make a crop every year. Never failed till I got disabled. I used to
make all I used and all I needed to feed my stock. I even raised my own
wheat before I left home in Alabama. That is a wheat country. They don't
raise it out here.[HW: ?]

"I came here--lemme see, about how many years ago did I come here. I
guess I have been in Arkansas about twenty-eight years since the first
time I come here. I have gone in and out as I got a chance to work
somewheres. I have been living in this house about three years.

"I preached for about twenty or more years. I don't know that I call
myself a preacher. I am a pretty good talker sometimes. I have never
pastored a church; somehow or 'nother the word come to me to go and I go
and talk. I ain't no pulpit chinch. I could have taken two or three
men's churches out from under them, but I didn't.

Freedom and Soldiers

"I can't remember just how my father got freed. Old folks then didn't
let you stan' and listen when they talked. If you did it once, you
didn't do it again. They would talk while they were together, but the
children would have business outdoors. Yes siree, I never heard them say
much about how they got freedom.

"I was there when the Yankees come through. That was in slave time. They
marched right through old man Madden's grove. They were playing the
fifes and beating the drums. And they were playing the fiddle. Yes sir,
they were playing the fiddle too. It must have been a fiddle; it sounded
just like one. The soldiers were all just a singin'. They didn't bother
nobody at our house. If they bothered anything, nothing was told me
about it. I heard my uncle say they took a horse from my old manager. I
didn't see it. They took the best horse in the lot my uncle said. Pardon
me, they didn't take him. A peckerwood took him and let the Yankees get
him. I have heard that they bothered plenty of other places. Took the
best mules, and left old broken down ones and things like that. Broke
things up. I have heard that about other places, but I didn't see any of

Right after the War

"Right after the War, my father went to farming--renting land. I mean he
sharecropped and done around. Thing is come way up from then when the
Negroes first started. They didn't have no stock nor nothin' then. They
made a crop just for the third of it. When they quit the third, they
started givin' them two-fifths. That's more than a third, ain't it? Then
they moved up from that, and give them half, and they are there yet. If
you furnish, they give you two-thirds and take one-third. Or they give
you so much per acre or give him produce in rent.


"I was married in 1883. My wife's name was Mary Elston. Her mother died
when she was an infant. Her grandmother was an Elston at first. Then she
changed her name to Cunningham. But she always went in the name of
Elston, and was an Elston when she married me. My wife I mean. I married
on a Thursday in the Christmas week. This December I will be married
fifty-five years. This is the only wife I have ever had. We had three
children and all of them are dead. All our birthed children are dead.
One of them was just three months old when he died. My baby girl had
three children and she lived to see all of them married.


"Our own folks is about the worst enemies we have. They will come and
sweet talk you and then work against you. I had a fellow in here not
long ago who came here for a dollar, and I never did hear from him again
after he got it. He couldn't get another favor from me. No man can fool
me more than one time. I have been beat out of lots of money and I have
got hurt trying to help people.

"The young folks now is just gone astray. I tell you the truth, I
wouldn't give you forty cents a dozen for these young folks. They are
sassy and disrespectful. Don't respect themselves and nobody else. When
they get off from home, they'll respect somebody else better 'n they
will their own mothers.

"If they would do away with this stock law, they would do better
everywhere. If you would say fence up your place and raise what you
want, I could get along. But you have to keep somebody to watch your
stock. If you don't, you'll have to pay something out. It's a bad old
thing this stock law. It's detrimental to the welfare of man."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Lewis Mann
                    1501 Bell Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 81

"As nigh as I can come at it, I was bout five or six time of the war. I
remember when the war ceasted. I was a good-sized chap.

"Durin' the war my mother's master sent us to Texas; western Texas is
whar they stopped me. We stayed there two years and then they brought us
back after surrender.

"I remember when the war ceasted and remember the soldiers refugeein'
through the country. I'm somewhar round eighty-one. I'm tellin' you the
truf. I ain't just now come here.

"I was born right here in Arkansas. My mother's master was old B.D.
Williams of Tennessee and we worked for his son Mac H. Williams here in
Arkansas. They was good to my mother. Always had nurses for the colored
childrun while the old folks was in the field.

"After the war I used to work in the house for my white folks--for Dr.
Bob Williams way up there in the country on the river. I stayed with his
brother Mac Williams might near twenty-five or thirty years. Worked
around the house servin' and doin' arrands different places.

"I went to school a little bit a good piece after the war and learned to
read and write.

"I've heard too much of the Ku Klux. I remember when they was Ku Kluxin'
all round through here.

"Lord! I don't know how many times I ever voted. I used to vote every
time they had an election. I voted before I could read. The white man
showed me how to vote and asked me who I wanted to vote for. Oh Lord, I
was might near grown when I learned to read.

"I been married just one time in my life and my wife's been dead
thirteen years.

"I tell you, Miss, I don't know hardly what to think of things now.
Everything so changeable I can't bring nothin' to remembrance to hold

"I didn't do nothin' when I was young but just knock around with the
white folks. Oh Lord, when I was young I delighted in parties. Don't
nothin' like that worry me now. Don't go to no parades or nothin'. Don't
have that on my brain like I did when I was young. I goes to church all
the place I does go.

"I ain't never had no accident. Don't get in the way to have no accident
cause I know the age I is if I injure these bones there ain't anything
more to me.

"My mother had eight childrun and just my sister and me left. I can't do
a whole day's work to save my life. I own this place and my
sister-in-law gives me a little somethin' to eat. I used to be on the
bureau but they took me off that."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Angeline Martin, Kansas City, Missouri
                    Visiting at 1105 Louisiana St., Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age 80

"Well, I was livin' then. I was born in Georgia. Honey, I don't know
what year. I was born before the war. I was about ten when freedom come.
I don't remember when it started but I remember when it ended. I think
I'm in the 80's--that's the way I count it.

"My master was dead and my mistress was a widow--Miss Sarah Childs. She
had a guardeen.

"When the war come, old mistress and her daughter refugeed to
Mississippi. The guardeen wouldn't let me go, said I was too young.

"My parents stayed on the plantation. My white folks' house was vacant
and the Yankees come and used it for headquarters. They never had put
shoes on me and when the Yankees shot the chickens I'd run and get em.
They didn't burn up nothin', just kill the hogs and chickens and give us

"I didn't know what the war was about. You know chillun in them days
didn't have as much sense as they got now.

"After freedom, my folks stayed on the place and worked on the shares. I
want to school right after the war. I went every year till we left
there. We come to this country in seventy something. We come here and
stopped at the Cummins place. I worked in the field till I come to town
bout fifty years ago. Since then I cooked some and done laundry work.

"I married when I was seventeen. Had six children. I been livin' in
Kansas City twenty-three years. Followed my boy up there. I like it up
there a lot better than I do here. Oh lord, yes, there are a lot of
colored people in Kansas City."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Josie Martin
                    R.F.D., Madison, Arkansas
Age:  86

"I was born up near Cotton Plant but took down near Helena to live. My
parents named Sallie and Bob Martin. They had seven children. I heard
mother say she was sold on a block in Mississippi when she was twelve
years old. My father was a Creek Indian; he was dark. Mother was a
Choctaw Indian; she was bright. Mother died when I was but a girl and
left a family on my hands. I sent my baby brother and sister to school
and I cooked on a boarding train. The railroad hands working on the
tracks roomed and et on the train. They are all dead now and I'm 'lone
in the world.

"My greatest pleasure was independence--make my money, go and spend it
as I see fit. I wasn't popular with men. I never danced. I did sell
herbs for diarrhea and piles and 'what ails you.' I don't sell no more.
Folks too close to drug stores now. I had long straight hair nearly to
my knees. It come out after a spell of typhoid fever. It never come in
to do no good." (Baldheaded like a man and she shaves. She is a
hermaphrodite, reason for never marrying.) "I made and saved up at one
time twenty-three thousand dollars cooking and field work. I let it slip
out from me in dribs.

"I used to run from the Yankees. I've seen them go in droves along the
road. They found old colored couple, went out, took their hog and made
them barbecue it. They drove up a stob, nailed a piece to a tree stacked
their guns. They rested around till everything was ready. They et at one
o'clock at night and after the feast drove on. They wasn't so good to
Negroes. They was good to their own feelings. They et up all that old
couple had to eat in their house and the pig they raised. I reckon their
owners give them more to eat. They lived off alone and the soldiers
stopped there and worked the old man and woman nearly to death.

"Our master told us about freedom. His name was Master Martin. He come
here from Mississippi. I don't recollect his family.

"I get help from the Welfare. I had paralysis. I never got over my
stroke. I ain't no 'count to work."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Bess Mathis, Hazen, Arkansas
Age: 82

"I was born in De Sota County, Mississippi. My parents' owners was Mars
Hancock. Mama was a cook and field hand. Papa milked and worked in the
field. Mama had jes' one child, that me. I had six childern. I got five
livin'. They knowed they free. It went round from mouth to mouth. Mama
said Mars Hancock was good er slave holder as ever lived she recken. I
heard her come over that er good many times. But they wanted to be free.
I jes' heard em talk bout the Ku Klux. They said the Ku Klux made lot of
em roamin' round go get a place to live and start workin'. They tell how
they would ride at night and how scarry lookin' they was. I heard em say
if Mars Hancock didn't want to give em meat they got tree a coon or
possum. Cut the tree down or climb it and then come home and cook it.
They had no guns. They had dogs or could get one. Game helps out lots.

"The women chewed for their children after they weaned em. They don't
none of em do that way now. Women wouldn't cut the baby's finger nails.
They bite em off. They said if you cut its nails off he would steal.
They bite its toe nails off, too. And if they wanted the children to
have long pretty hair, they would trim the ends off on the new of the
moon. That would cause the hair to grow long. White folks and darkies
both done them things.

"I been doin' whatever come to hand--farmin', cookin', washin', ironin'.

"I never expects to vote neither. I sure ain't voted.

"Conditions pretty bad sometimes. I don't know what cause it. You got
beyond me now. I don't know what going become of the young folks, and
they ain't studyin' it. They ain't kind. Got no raisin' I call it. I
tried to raise em to work and behave. They work some. My son is takin'
care of me now."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Caroline Matthews
                    812 Spruce Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 79

"Yes'm, I was born in slavery times in Mississippi. Now, the only thing
I remember was some soldiers come along on some mules. I remember my
mother and father was sittin' on the gallery and they say, 'Look a
there, them's soldiers.'

"And I remember when my parents run off. I was with 'em and I cried for
'em to tote me.

"My mother's first owner was named Armstrong. She said she was about
eleven years old when he bought her. I heard her say they just changed
around a lot.

"Freedom was comin' and her last owners had carried her to a state where
it hadn't come yet. That's right--it was Texas.

"Her first owners was good. She said they wouldn't 'low the overseer to
'buke the women at all.

"But her last owners was cruel. She said one day old missis was out in
the yard and backed up and fell into a pan of hot water and when her
husband come she told him and he tried to 'buke my mother. You know if
somebody tryin' to get the best of you and you can help yourself, you
gwine do it. So mama throwed up her arm and old master hit it with a
stick and cut it bad. So my parents run off. That was in Texas.

"She said we was a year comin' back and I know they stopped at the
Dillard place and made a crop. And they lost one child on the way--that
was Kittie.

"I heard mama say they got back here to Arkansas and got to the bureau
and they freed 'em. I know the War wasn't over yet 'cause I know I heard
mama say, 'Just listen to them guns at Vicksburg.'

"When I was little, I was so sickly. I took down with the whoopin' cough
and I was sick so long. But mama say to the old woman what stayed with
me, 'This gal gwine be here to see many a winter 'cause she so stout in
the jaws I can't give her no medicine.'

"When I commenced to remember anything, I heered 'em talkin' 'bout Grant
and Colfax. Used to wear buttons with Grant and Colfax.

"But I was livin' in Abraham Lincoln's time. Chillun them days didn't
know nothin'. Why, woman, I was twelve years old 'fore I knowed babies
didn't come out a holler log. I used to go 'round lookin' in logs for a

"I had seven sisters and three brothers and they all dead but me. Had
three younger than me. They was what they called freeborn chillun.

"After freedom my parents worked for Major Ross. I know when mama fixed
us up to go to Sunday-school we'd go by Major Ross for him to see us. I
know we'd go so early, sometimes he'd still be in his drawers.

"I know one thing--when I was about sixteen years old things was good
here. Ever'body had a good living."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Malindy Maxwell, Madison, Arkansas
Age: Up in 80's

"I was born close to Como and Sardis, Mississippi. My master and
mistress was Sam Shans and Miss Cornelia Shans. I was born a slave. They
owned mama and Master Rube Sanders owned pa. Neither owner wouldn't sell
but they agreed to let ma and pa marry. They had a white preacher and
they married out in the yard and had a big table full of weddin' supper,
and the white folks et in the house. They had a big supper too. Ma said
they had a big crowd. The preacher read the ceremony. Miss Cornelia give
her a white dress and white shoes and Miss Cloe Wilburn give her a veil.
Miss Cloe was some connection of Rube Sanders.

"They had seven children. I'm the oldest--three of us living.

"After 'mancipation pa went to see about marrying ma over agen and they
told him that marriage would stand long as ever he lived.

"Mama was sold at twelve years old in Atlanta, Georgia. Ma and pa was
always field hands. Grandma got to be one of John Sanders' leading hands
to work mong the women folks. They said John Sanders was meanest man
ever lived or died. According to pa's saying, Mars Ruben was a good
sorter man. Pa said John Sanders was too mean a man to have a wife. He
was mean to Miss Sarah. They said he beat her, his wife, like he beat a
nigger woman.

"Miss Sarah say, 'Come get your rations early Saturday morning, clean up
your house, wash and iron, and we'll go to preaching tomorrow--Sunday. I
want you to all come out clean Monday morning.' They go ask Mars John
Sanders if they could go to preaching. I recken from what they said they
walked. Mars John, when they git their best clothes on, make them turn
round and go to the field and work all day long. He was just that mean.
Work all day long Sunday.

"Miss Sarah was a Primitive Baptist and that is what I am till this day.
Some folks call us Hardshell Baptist. The colored folks set in the back
of the church. The women all set on one side and the men on the other.
If they had a middle row, there was a railing dividing mens' seats from
the womens' seats on the very same benches.

"Miss Cloe, Miss Cornelia, and Miss Sarah cook up a whole lot of good
things to eat and go to camp meeting. Sometimes they would stay a week
and longer. They would take time bout letting the colored folks go long.
We had big times. My grandpa took a gingercake cutter with him and sold
gingercakes when they come out of the church. He could keep that money
his own. I don't know how he sold them. My sister has the cutter now I
expect. My girl has seen it. It was a foot long, this wide (5 inches),
and fluted all around the edges, and had a handle like a biscuit cutter.
They was about an inch thick. He made good ones and he sold all he could
ever make. Grandpa took carpet sacks to carry his gingercakes in to sell
them. I remember that mighty well. (The shape of the cutter was like
this: [Illustration].) He purt nigh always got to go to all the camp
meetings. Folks got happy and shouted in them days. It would be when
somebody got religion. At some big meetings they didn't shout.

"When I was born they had a white mid-wife, Miss Martin. My mistress was
in the cabin when I was born. I was born foot foremost and had a veil on
my face and down on my body a piece. They call it a 'caul.' Sometimes I
see forms and they vanish. I can see some out of one eye now. But I've
always seen things when my sight was good. It is like when you are
dreaming at night but I see them at times that plain in day.

"I don't know how old I am but I was a good size girl when 'mancipation
come on. Miss Cornelia had my age in her Bible. They done took me from
the cabin and I was staying at the house. I slept on a trundle bed under
Miss Cornelia's bed. Her bed was a teaster--way high up, had a big stool
to step on to go up in there and she had it curtained off. I had a good
cotton bed and I slept good up under there. Her bed was corded with sea
grass rope. It didn't have no slats like beds do now.

"Colored folks slept on cotton beds and white folks--some of em at
least--picked geese and made feather beds and down pillows. They carded
and washed sheep's wool and put in their quilts. Some of them, they'd be
light and warm. Colored folks' bed had one leg. Then it was holes hewed
in the wall on the other three sides and wooden slats across it. Now
that wasn't no bad bed. Some of them was big enough for three to sleep
on good. When the children was small four could sleep easy cross ways,
and they slept that way.

"They had shelves and tables and chairs. They made chests and put things
in there and set on top of it too. White folks had fine chests to keep
their bed clothes in. Some of them was made of oak, and pine, and
cypress. They would cook walnut hulls and bark and paint them dark with
the tea.

"I recollect a right smart of the Civil War. We was close nough to hear
the roar and ramble and the big cannons shake the things in the house. I
don't know where they was fighting--a long ways off I guess.

"I saw the soldiers scouting. They come most any time. They go in and
take every drop of milk out of the churn. They took anything they could
find and went away with it. I seen the cavalry come through. I thought
they looked so pretty. Their canteens was shining in the sun. Miss
Cornelia told me to hide, the soldiers might take me on with them. I
didn't want to go. I was very well pleased there at Miss Cornelia's.

"I seen the cavalry come through that raised the 'white sheet.' I know
now it must have been a white flag but they called it a white sheet to
quit fighting. It was raised a short time after they passed and they
said they was the ones raised it. I don't know where it was. I reckon it
was a big white flag they rared up. It was so they would stop fighting.

"Mars Sam Shan didn't go to no war; he hid out. He said it was a useless
war, he wasn't going to get shot up for no use a tall, and he never went
a step. He hid out. I don't know where. I know Charles would take the
baskets off. Charles tended to the stock and the carriage. He drove the
wagon and carriage. He fetched water and wood. He was a black boy. Mars
Sam Shan said he wasn't goiner loose his life for nothing.

"Miss Cornelia would cook corn light bread and muffins and anything else
they had to cook. Rations got down mighty scarce before it was done wid.
They put the big round basket nearly big as a split cotton basket out on
the back portico. Charles come and disappear with it.

"Chess and Charles was colored overseers. He didn't have white
overseers. Miss Cornelia and Miss Cloe would walk the floor and cry and
I would walk between. I would cry feeling sorry for them, but I didn't
know why they cried so much. I know now it was squally times. War is

"Mars Sam Shan come home, went down to the cabins--they was scattered
over the fields--and told them the War was over, they was free but that
they could stay. Then come some runners, white men. They was Yankee men.
I know that now. They say you must get pay or go off. We stayed that
year. Another man went to pa and said he would give him half of what he
made. He got us all up and we went to Pleasant Hill. We done tolerable

"Then he tried to buy a house and five acres and got beat out of it. The
minor heirs come and took it. I never learnt in books till I went to
school. Seem like things was in a confusion after I got big nough for
that. I'd sweep and rake and cook and wash the dishes, card, spin, hoe,
scour the floors and tables. I would knit at night heap of times. We'd
sing some at night.

"Colored folks couldn't read so they couldn't sing at church lessen they
learnt the songs by hearing them at home. Colored folks would meet and
sing and pray and preach at the cabins.

"My first teacher was a white man, Mr. Babe Willroy. I went to him
several short sessions and on rainy days and cold days I couldn't work
in the field. I worked in the field all my life. Cook out in the winter,
back to the field in the spring till fall again.

"Well, I jes' had this one girl. I carried her along with me. She would
play round and then she was a heap of help. She is mighty good to me

"I never seen a Ku Klux in my life. Now, I couldn't tell you about them.

"My parents' names was Lou Sanders and Anthony Sanders. Ma's mother was
a Rockmore and her husband was a Cherokee Indian. I recollect them well.
He was a free man and was fixing to buy her freedom. Her young mistress
married Mr. Joe Bues and she heired her. Mr. Joe Bues drunk her up and
they come and got her and took her off. They run her to Memphis before
his wife could write to her pa. He was Mars Rockmore.

"Grandma was put on a block and sold fore grandpa could cumerlate nough
cash to buy her for his wife. Grandma never seen her ma no more. Grandpa
followed her and Mr. Sam Shans bought her and took her to Mississippi
with a lot more he bought.

"My pa's ma b'long to John Sanders and grandpa b'long to Rube Sanders.
They was brothers. Rube Sanders bought grandpa from Enoch Bobo down in
Mississippi. The Bobo's had a heap of slaves and land. Now, he was the
one that sold gingercakes. He was a blacksmith too. Both my grandpas was
blacksmiths but my Indian grandpa could make wagons, trays, bowls,
shoes, and things out of wood too. Him being a free man made his living
that way. But he never could cumolate enough to buy grandma.

"My other grandma was blacker than I am and grandpa too. When grandpa
died he was carried back to the Bobo graveyard and buried on Enoch
Bobo's place. It was his request all his slaves be brought back and
buried on his land. I went to the burying. I recollect that but ma and
pa had to ask could we go. We all got to go--all who wanted to go. It
was a big crowd. It was John Sanders let us go mean as he was.

"Miss Cornelia had the cistern cleaned out and they packed up their
pretty china dishes and silver in a big flat sorter box. Charles took
them down a ladder to the bottom of the dark cistern and put dirt over
it all and then scattered some old rubbish round, took the ladder out.
The Yankees never much as peared to see that old open cistern. I don't
know if they buried money or not. They packed up a lot of nice things.
It wasn't touched till after the War was over.

"I been farming and cooking all my life. I worked for Major Black, Mr.
Ben Tolbert, Mr. Williams at Pleasant Hill, Mississippi. I married and
long time after come to Arkansas. They said you could raise stock
here--no fence law.

"I get $8 and commodities because I am blind. I live with my daughter

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Nellie Maxwell, Biscoe, Arkansas
Age: 63

"Mama was Harriett Baldwin. She was born in Virginia. Her owners was
Mistress Mollie Fisher and Master Coon Fisher. It was so cold one winter
that they burned up their furniture keeping a fire. Said seemed like
they would freeze in spite of what all they could do.

"Grandpa was sold away from grandma and three children. He didn't want
to be sold nary bit. When they would be talking about selling him he go
hide under the house. They go on off. He'd come out. When he was sold he
went under there. He come out and went on off when they found him and
told him he was sold to this man. Grandma said he was obedient. They
never hit him. He was her best husband. They never sold grandma and she
couldn't 'count for him being let go. Grandma had another husband after
freedom and two more children. They left there in a crowd and all come
to Arkansas. Grandma was a cook for the field hands. She had charge of
ringing a big dinner-bell hung up in a tree. She was black as charcoal.
Mama and grandma said Master Coon and old Mistress Mollie was good to
them. That the reason grandpa would go under the house. He didn't want
to be sold. He never was seen no more by them.

"Grandma said sometimes the meals was carried to the fields and they fed
the children out of troughs. They took all the children to the spring
set them in a row. They had a tubful of water and they washed them dried
them and put on their clean clothes. They used homemade lye soap and
greased them with tallow and mutton suet. That made them shine. They
kept them greased so their knees and knuckles would ruff up and bleed.

"Grandma and mama stopped at Fourche Dam. They was so glad to be free
and go about. Then it scared them to hear talk of being sold. It divided
them and some owners was mean.

"In my time if I done wrong most any grown person whoop me. Then mama
find it out, she give me another one. I got a double whooping.

"Times is powerful bad to raise up a family. Drinking and gambling, and
it takes too much to feed a family now. Times is so much harder that way
then when I was growing."

Interviewer: Miss Sallie C. Miller
Person interviewed: Ann May, Clarksville, Arkansas
Age: 82

"I was born at Cabin Creek (Lamar now, but I still call it Cabin Creek.
I can't call it anything else). I was sold with my mother when I was a
little girl and lived with our white folks until after the war and was
freed. We lived on a farm. My father belong to another family, a
neighbor of ours. We all lived with the white folks. My mother took care
of all of them. They was always as good as they could be to us and after
the war we stayed on with the white folks who owned my father and worked
on the farm for him. His master gave us half of everything we made until
we could get started our selves, then our white folks told my father to
homestead a place near him, and he did. We lived there until after
father died. We paid taxes and lived just like the white folks. We did
what the white folks told us to do and never lost a thing by doing it.
After I married my husband worked at the mill for your father and made a
living for me and I worked for the white folks. Now I am too old to cook
but I have a few washin's for the white folks and am getting my old age
pension that helps me a lot.

"I don't know what I think about the young generation. I aim at my
stopping place.

"The songs we sang were

  'Come ye that love the Lord and let your Joys be known'
  'When You and I Were Young, Maggie'
  'Just Before the Battle, Mother'
  'Darling Nellie Gray'
  'Carry Me Back to Old Virginia'
  'Old Black Joe'

Of course we sang 'Dixie.' We had to sing that, it was the leading

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Joe Mayes, Madison, Arkansas
Age: ?

"I was born a slave two years. I never will forget man come and told
mother she was free. She cooked. She never worked in the field till
after freedom. In a few days another man come and made them leave. They
couldn't hold them in Kentucky. The owners give her provisions, meat,
lasses, etc. They give her her clothes. She had four children and I was
her youngest. The two oldest was girls. Father was dead. I don't
remember him. Mother finally made arrangements to go to Will Bennett's

"Another thing I remember: Frank Hayes sold mother to Isaac Tremble
after she was free. She didn't know she was free. Neither did Isaac
Tremble. I don't know whether Frank Mayes was honest or not. The part I
remember was that us boys stood on the block and never was parted from
her. We had to leave our sisters. One was sold to Miss Margaret Moxley,
the other to Miss Almyra Winder. (He said "Miss" but they may have been
widows. He didn't seem to know--ed.) Father belong to a Master Mills.
All our family got together after we found out we had been freed.

"The Ku Klux: I went to the well little after dark. It was a good piece
from our house. I looked up and saw a man with a robe and cap on. It
scared me nearly to death. I nearly fell out. I had heard about the
'booger man' and learned better then. But there he was. I had heard a
lot about Ku Klux.

"There was a big gourd hanging up by the well. We kept it there. There
was a bucket full up. He said, 'Give me water.' I handed over the gourd
full. He done something with it. He kept me handing him water. He said,
'Hold my crown and draw me up another bucket full.' I was so scared I
lit out hard as I could run. It was dark enough to hide me when I got a
piece out of his way.

"The owners was pretty good to mother to be slavery. She had clothes and
enough to eat all the time. I used to go back to see all our white folks
in Kentucky. They are about all dead now I expect. Mother was glad to be
free but for a long time her life was harder.

"After we got up larger she got along better. I worked on a steamboat
twelve or thirteen years. I was a roustabout and freight picker. I was
on passenger boats mostly but they carried freight. I went to school
some. I always had colored teachers. I farmed at Hughes and Madison ever
since excepting one year in Mississippi.

"I live alone. I get $8 and commodities from the Sociable Welfare.

"The young folks would do better, work better, if they could get work
all time. It is hard at times to get work right now. The times is all
right. Better everything but work. I know colored folks is bad managers.
That has been bad on us always.

"I worked on boats from Evansville, St. Louis, Memphis to New Orleans
mostly. It was hard work but a fine living. I was stout then."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Jesse Meeks
                    707 Elm Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 76
Occupation: Minister

"I am seventy-six. 'Course I was young in slavery times, but I can
remember some things. I remember how they used to feed us. Put milk and
bread or poke salad and corn-meal dumplin's in a trough and give you a
wooden spoon and all the children eat together.

"We stayed with our old master fourteen years. They were good folks and
treated us right. My old master's name was Sam Meeks--in Longview, Drew
County, Arkansas, down here below Monticello.

"I got a letter here about a month ago from the daughter of my young
mistress. I wrote to my young mistress and she was dead, so her daughter
got the letter. She answered it and sent me a dollar and asked me was I
on the Old Age Pension list.

"As far as I know, I am the onliest one of the old darkies living that
belonged to Sam Meeks.

"I remember when the Ku Klux run in on my old master. That was after the
War. He was at the breakfast table with his wife. You know in them days
they didn't have locks and keys. Had a hole bored through a board and
put a peg in it, and I know the Ku Klux come up and stuck a gun through
the auger hole and shot at old master but missed him. He run to the door
and shot at the Ku Klux. I know us children found one of 'em down at the
spring bathin' his leg where old master had shot him.

"Oh! they were good folks and treated us right."

Name of Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Subject: Superstitions

This information given by: Jesse Meeks
Place of residence: 707 Elm Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Occupation:  Minister
Age: 76
[TR: Information moved from bottom of first page.]

"I remember there was on old man called Billy Mann lived down here at
Noble lake. He said he could 'give you a hand.' If you and your wife
wasn't gettin' along very well and you wanted to get somebody else, he
said he could 'give you a hand' and that would enable you to get anybody
you wanted. That's what he said.

"And I've heard 'em say they could make a ring around you and you
couldn't get out.

"I don't believe in that though 'cause I'm in the ministerial work and
it don't pay me to believe in things like that. That is the work of the

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Jeff Metcalf
                    R.F.D., Brinkley, Arkansas
Age: 73

"My mother's name was Julia Metcalf and my father's name was Jim
Metcalf. They belong to an old bachelor named Bill Metcalf. I think I
was born in Lee County, Mississippi. They did not leave when the war was
over. They stayed on the Bill Metcalf place till they died. I reckon I
do remember him.

"I can't tell you 'bout the war nor slavery. I don't know a thing 'bout
it. I heard but I couldn't tell you it been so long ago. They didn't
expect nothing but freedom. They got along in the Reconstruction days
about like they had been getting along. Seemed like they didn't know
much about the war. They heard they was free. I don't remember the Ku
Klux Klan. I heard old folks talk 'bout it.

"I don't know if my father ever voted but I guess he did. I have voted
but I don't vote now. In part I 'proves of the women votin'. I think the
men outer vote and support his family fur as he can.

"I come here in 1914 from Mississippi. I got busted farmin'. I knowed a
heap o' people said they was doing so well I come too. I come on the

"I ain't got no home, no land. I got a hog. No garden. Two times in the
year now is hard--winter and simmer. In some ways times is better. In
some ways they is worser. When a trade used to be made to let you have
provisions, you know you would not starve. Now if you can't get work you
'bout starve and can't get no credit. Crops been good last few years and
prices fair fur it. But money won't buy nothin' now. Everything is so
high. Meat is so high. Working man have to eat meat. If he don't he get

"The young folks do work. They can't save much farmin'. If they could do
public work between times it be better. I had a hard time in July and
August. I got six children, they grown and gone. My wife is 72 years
old. She ain't no 'count for work no more. The Government give me an'
her $10 a month between us two. Her name is Hannah Metcalf.

"I wish I did know somethin' to tell you, lady, 'bout the Civil War and
the slavery times. I done forgot 'bout all I heard 'em talkin'. When you
see Hannah she might know somethin'."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Hardy Miller
                    702-1/2 W. Second Avenue, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 85
Occupation: Yardman

"Mistress, I'll tell you what my mother said. She said she birthed me on
Christmas morning in 1852 in Sumpter County, Georgia. It was on her old
master's place. Bright Herring was his name. Old mistress' name was Miss
Lizzie. My father belonged to a different owner.

"Mac McClendon and John Mourning was two nigger traders and they brought
my mother and sister Nancy and sister Liza and my sister Anna and Hardy
Miller--that's me--out here on the train from Americus, Georgia to
Memphis and put us on a steamboat and brought us here to Pine Bluff and
sold me to Dr. Pope. He was a poor white man and he wanted a pair of
niggers. He bought me and Laura Beckwith. In them days a doctor examined
you and if your heart was sound and your lungs was sound and you didn't
have no broken bones--have to pay one hundred dollars for every year you
was old. That was in 1862 and I was ten years old so they sold me for
one thousand dollars and one thousand dollars for Laura cause she was
sound too. Carried us down to Monticello and when I got free my mammy
come after me.

"Fore I left Georgia, my daddy belonged to a man named Bill Ramsey. You
see niggers used the name of their masters.

"I can remember when I was a boy Bill Ramsey set my father free and give
him a free pass and anybody hire him have to pay just like they pay a
nigger now. My daddy hired my mammy from her master. My mammy was her
master's daughter by a colored woman.

"My daddy had a hoss named Salem and had a cart and he would take me and
my mammy and my sister Liza and go to Americus and buy rations for the
next week.

"I member when the war started in 1861 my mammy hired me out to Mrs.
Brewer and she used to git after me and say, 'You better do that good or
I'll whip you. My husband gone to war now on account of you niggers and
it's a pity you niggers ever been cause he may get killed and I'll never
see him again.'

"I member seein' General Bragg's men and General Steele and General
Marmaduke. Had a fight down at Mark's Mill. We just lived six miles from
there. Seen the Yankees comin' by along the big public road. The Yankees
whipped and fought em so strong they didn't have time to bury the dead.
We could see the buzzards and carrion crows. I used to hear old mistress
say, 'There goes the buzzards, done et all the meat off.' I used to go
to mill and we could see the bones. Used to got out and look at their
teeth. No ma'm, I wasn't scared, the white boys was with me.

"Dr. Pope was good to me, better to me than he was to Master Walter and
Master Billy and my young Miss, Aurelia, cause me and Laura was scared
of em and we tried to do everything they wanted.

"When the war ended in 1865 we was out in the field gettin' pumpkins.
Old master come out and said, 'Hardy, you and Laura is free now. You can
stay or you can go and live with somebody else.' We stayed till 1868 and
then our mammies come after us. I was seventeen.

"After freedom my mammy sent me to school. Teacher's name was W.H.
Young. Name was William Young but he went under the head of W.H. Young.

"I went to school four years and then I got too old. I learned a whole
lot. Learned to read and spell and figger. I done pretty good. I learned
how to add and multiply and how to cancel and how to work square root.

"What I've been doin' all my life is farmin' down at Fairfield on the
Murphy place.

"Vote? Good lord! I done more votin'. Voted for all the Presidents.
Yankees wouldn't let us vote Democrat, had to vote Republican. They'd be
there agitatin'. Stand right there and tell me the ones to vote for. I
done quit votin'. I voted for Coolidge--we called him College--that's
the last votin' I did. One of my friends, Levi Hunter, he was a colored
magistrate down at Fairfield.

"Ku Klux? What you talkin' about? Ku Klux come to our house. My sister
Ellen's husband went to war on the Yankee side durin' the war--on the
Republican side and fought the Democrats.

"After the war the Ku Klux came and got the colored folks what fought
and killed em. I saw em kill a nigger right off his mule. Fell off on
his sack of corn and the old mule kep' on goin'.

"Ku Klux used to wear big old long robe with bunches of cotton sewed all
over it. I member one time we was havin' church and a Ku Klux was hid up
in the scaffold. The preacher was readin' the Bible and tellin' the
folks there was a man sent from God and say an angel be here directly.
Just then the Ku Klux fell down and the niggers all thought 'twas the
angel and they got up and flew.

"Ku Klux used to come to the church well and ask for a drink and say, 'I
ain't had a bit of water since I fought the battle of Shiloh.'

"Might as well tell the truth--had just as good a time when I was a
slave as when I was free. Had all the hog meat and milk and everything
else to eat.

"I member one time when old master wasn't at home the Yankees come and
say to old mistress, 'Madam, we is foragin'.' Old mistress say, 'My
husband ain't home; I can't let you.' Yankees say, 'Well, we're goin' to
anyway.' They say, 'Where you keep your milk and butter?' Old mistress
standin' up there, her face as red as blood and say, 'I haven't any milk
or butter to spare.' But the Yankees would hunt till they found it.

"After a battle when the dead soldiers was layin' around and didn't have
on no uniform cause some of the other soldiers took em, I've heard the
old folk what knowed say you could tell the Yankees from the Rebels
cause the Yankees had blue veins on their bellies and the Rebels didn't.

"Now you want me to tell you bout this young nigger generation? I never
thought I'd live to see this young generation come out and do as well as
they is doin'. I'm goin' tell you the truth. When I was young, boys and
girls used to wear long white shirt come down to their ankles, cause it
would shrink, with a hole cut out for their head. I think they is doin'
a whole lot better. Got better clothes. Almost look as well as the white
folks. I just say the niggers dressin' better than the white folks used

"Then I see some niggers got automobiles. Just been free bout
seventy-two years and some of em actin' just like white folks now.

"Well, good-bye--if I don't see you again I'll meet you in Heaven."

Interviewer: Beulah Sherwood Hagg
Person interviewed: [HW: Henry Kirk] H.K. Miller
                    1513 State Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: 86

"No ma'am, it will not bother me one bit if you want to have a long
visit with me.... Yes, I was a little busy, but it can wait. I was
getting my dishes ready for a party tomorrow night.

"Yes ma'am, I was born during slavery. I was born at a little place
called Fort Valley in Georgia, July 25, 1851. Fort Valley is about 30
miles from Macon. I came to Little Rock in 1873. My old mistress was a
widow. As well as I can remember she did not have any slaves but my
father and mother and the six children. No ma'am, her name was not
Miller, it was Wade.... Where did I get my name, then? It came from my
grandfather on my father's side.... Well, now, Miss, I can't tell you
where he got that name. From some white master, I reckon.

"We got free in Georgia June 15, 1865. I'll never forget that date. What
I mean is, that was the day the big freedom came. But we didn't know it
and just worked on. My father was a shoemaker for old mistress. Only one
in town, far as I recollect. He made a lot of money for mistress. Mother
was houseworker for her. As fast as us children got big enough to hire
out, she leased us to anybody who would pay for our hire. I was put out
with another widow woman who lived about 20 miles. She worked me on her
cotton plantation. Old mistress sold one of my sisters; took cotton for
pay. I remember hearing them tell about the big price she brought
because cotton was so high. Old mistress got 15 bales of cotton for
sister, and it was only a few days till freedom came and the man who had
traded all them bales of cotton lost my sister, but old mistress kept
the cotton. She was smart, wasn't she? She knew freedom was right there.
Sister came right back to my parents.

"Just give me time, miss, and I'll tell you the whole story. This woman
what had me hired tried to run away and take all her slaves along. I
don't remember just how many, but a dozen or more. Lots of white folks
tried to run away and hide their slaves until after the Yankee soldiers
had been through the town searching for them what had not been set free.
She was trying to get to the woods country. But she got nervous and
scared and done the worst thing she could. She run right into a Yankee
camp. Course they asked where we all belonged and sent us where we
belonged. They had always taught us to be scared of the Yankees. I
remember just as well when I got back to where my mother was she asked
me: "Boy, why you come here? Don't you know old mistress got you rented
out? You're goin' be whipped for sure." I told her, no, now we got
freedom. That was the first they had heard. So then she had to tell my
father and mother. She tole them how they have no place to go, no
money,--nothing to start life on; they better stay on with her. So my
father and mother kept on with her; she let them have a part of what
they made; she took some for board, as was right. The white ladies what
had me between them fixed it up that I would serve out the time I was
rented out for. It was about six months more. My parents saved money and
we all went to a farm. I stayed with them till I was 19 years old. Of
course they got all the money I made. I married when I was 20, still
living in Georgia. We tried to farm on shares. A man from Arkansas came
there, getting up a colony of colored to go to Arkansas to farm. Told
big tales of fine land with nobody to work it. Not half as many Negroes
in Arkansas as in Georgia. Me and my wife joined up to go.

"Well, ma'am, I didn't get enough education to be what you call a
educated man. My father paid for a six months night course for me after
peace. I learned to read and write and figure a little. I have used my
tablespoon full of brains ever since, always adding to that start. I
learned everything I could from the many white friends I have had. Any
way, miss, I have known enough to make a good living all these years.

"Now I'll get on with the story. First work I got in Arkansas was
working on a farm; me and her both; we always tried to stay together. We
could not make anything on the Garner farm, and it was mighty unhealthy
down in Fourche bottoms. I carried her back to Little Rock and I got
work as house man in the Bunch home. From there I went to the home of
Dudley E. Jones and stayed there 28 years. That was the beginning of my
catering. I just naturally took to cooking and serving. White folks was
still used to having colored wait on them and they liked my style. Mr.
Jones was so kind. He told his friends about how I could plan big
dinners and banquets; then cook and serve them. Right soon I was
handling most of the big swell weddings for the society folks. Child, if
I could call off the names of the folks I have served, it would be
mighty near everybody of any consequence in Little Rock for more than 55
years. Yes ma'am, I'm now being called on to serve the grandchildren of
my first customers.

"During the 28 years I lived in Mr. Jones' family I was serving
banquets, big public dinners, all kinds of big affairs. I have had the
spring and fall banquets for the Scottish Rite Masons for more than 41
years. I have served nearly all the Governor's banquets, college
graduation and reunion parties; I took care of President Roosevelt--not
this one, but Teddy----. Served about 600 that day. Any big parties for
colored people?... Yes ma'am! Don't you remember when Booker T.
Washington was here?... No ma'am. White folks didn't have a thing to do
with it, excepting the city let us have the new fire station. It was
just finished but the fire engines ain't moved in yet. I served about
600 that time. Yes ma'am, there was a lot of white folks there. Then, I
have been called to other places to do the catering. Lonoke, Benton,
Malvern, Conway--a heap of places like that.

"No miss, I didn't always have all the catering business; oh, no. There
was Mr. Rossner. He was a fine man. White gentleman. I used to help him
a lot. But when he sold out to Bott, I got a lot of what business Mr.
Rossner had had, Mr. Bott was a Jew. All that time my wife was my best
helper. I took a young colored fellow named Freeling Alexander and
taught him the business. He never been able to make it go on his own,
but does fine working on salary. He has a cafeteria now.

"Well thank you miss, speaking about my home like that. Yes ma'am, I
sure do own it. Fifty-two years I been living right here. First I bought
the lot; it took me two years to pay for it. Next I build a little
house. The big pin oak trees out front was only saplings when I set them
out. Come out in the back yard and see my pecan tree.... It is a giant,
ain't it? Yes ma'am, it was a tiny thing when I set it out fifty-two
years ago. Our only child was born in this house,--a dear daughter--and
her three babies were born here too. After my wife and daughter died, me
and the children kept on trying to keep the home together. I have taught
them the catering business. Both granddaughters are high school
graduates. The boy is in Mexico. Before he went he signed his name to a
check and said: "Here, grandpa. You ain't going to want for a thing
while I'm gone. If something happens to your catering business, or you
get so you can't work, fill this in for whatever you need." But thank
the good Lord, I'm still going strong. Nobody has ever had to take care
of H.K. Miller. Now let me tell you something else about this place. For
more than ten years I have been paying $64.64 every year for my part of
that asphalt paving you see out in front. Yes ma'am, the lot is 50 foot
front, and I am paying for only half of it; from my curb line to the
middle of the street. Maybe if I live long enough I'll get it paid for

"I haven't tried to lay by much money. I don't suppose there is any
other colored man--uneducated like me--what has done more for his
community. I have given as high as $80 and $100 at one time to help out
on the church debt or when they wanted to build. I always help in times
of floods and things like that. I've helped many white persons in my

"Well, now, I'll tell you what I think about the voting system. I think
this. Of course we are still in subjection to the white people; they are
in the majority and have most of the government on their side. But I
think that, er,--er,--well I'll tell you, while it is all right for them
to be at the head of things, they ought to do what is right. Being
educated, they ought to know right from wrong. I believe in the Bible,
miss. Look here. This little book--Gospel of St. John--has been carried
in my pocket every day for years and years. And I never miss a day
reading it. I don't see how some people can be so unjust. I guess they
never read their Bible. The reason I been able to make my three-score
years and ten is because I obeys what the Good Book says.

"Now, let me see. I can remember that I been voting mighty near ever
since I been here. I never had any trouble voting. I have never been
objected from voting that I remember of.

"Now you ask about what I think of the young people. Well, I tell you. I
think really that the young people of today had better begin to check
up, a little. They are going too fast. They don't seem to have enough
consideration. When I see so many killed in automobile accidents, and
know that drinking is the cause of so many car accidents,--well, yes
ma'am, drinking sure does have a lot to do with it. I think they should
more consider the way they going to make a living. Make a rule to look
before they act. Another thing--the education being given them--they are
not taking advantage of it. If they would profit by what they learn they
could benefit theirselves. A lot of them now spend heap of time trying
to get to be doctors and lawyers and like that. That is a mistake. There
is not enough work among colored people to support them. I know. Negroes
do not have confidence in their race for this kind of business. No
ma'am. Colored will go for a white doctor and white lawyer 'cause they
think they know more about that kind of business. I would recommend as
the best means of making a living for colored young people is to select
some kind of work that is absolutely necessary to be done and then do it
honestly. The trades, carpentering, paper hanging, painting, garage
work. Some work that white people need to have done, and they just as
soon colored do it as white. White folks ain't never going to have Negro
doctors and lawyers, I reckon. That's the reason I took up
catering--even that long ago. Fifty-five years ago I knew to look around
and find some work that white folks would need done. There's where your
living comes from.

"Yes, miss, my business is slack--falling off, as you say. Catering is
not what it used to be. You see, 30 or 40 years ago, people's homes were
grand and big; big dining rooms, built for parties and banquets. But for
the big affairs with 500 or 600 guests, they went to the hotels. Even
the hotels had to rent my dishes, silver and linens.... Oh, lord, yes,
miss. I always had my own. It took me ten years to save enough money to
start out with my first 500 of everything.... You want to see them?...
Sure, I keep them here at home.... Look. Here's my silver chests, all
packed to go. I have them divided into different sizes. This one has
fifty of every kind of silver, so if fifty guests are to be provided
for. I keep my linens, plates of different sizes, glasses and everything
the same way. A 200-guest outfit is packed in those chests over there.
No, ma'am, I don't have much trouble of losing silver, because it all
has my initials on; look: H.K.M. on every piece. Heap of dishes are
broken every time I have a big catering. I found one plate
yesterday--the last of a full pattern I had fifteen years ago. About
every ten years is a complete turnover of china. Glassware goes faster,
and of course, the linen is the greatest overhead. Yes ma'am, as I was
telling you, catering is slack because of clubs. So many women take
their parties to clubs now. Another thing, the style of food has
changed. In those old days, the table was loaded with three four meats,
fish, half dozen vegetable dishes, entrees, different kinds of wine, and
an array of desserts. Now what do they have? Liquid punch, frozen punch
and cakes. In June I had a wedding party for 400, and that's all they
served. I had to have 30 punch bowls, but borrowed about half from my
white friends.

"You have got that wrong about me living with my grandchildren. No
ma'am! They are living with me. They make their home with me. I don't
expect ever to marry again. I'm 86. In my will I am leaving everything I
have to my three grandchildren.

"Well, miss, you're looking young and blooming. Guess your husband is
right proud of you? Say you're a widow? Well, now, my goodness. Some of
these days a fine man going to find you and then, er--er, lady, let me
cater for the wedding?"

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Henry Kirk Miller [HW: Same as H.K. Miller]
                    1513 State Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
Age 87 [HW: 86]

"I am eighty-six years old-eighty-six years and six months. I was born
July 25, 1851. I was a slave. Didn't get free till June 1865. I was a
boy fifteen years old when I got free.

"I have been living in this house fifty years. I have been living in
Arkansas ever since 1873. That makes about sixty-five years.

"The engineer who got killed in that wreck the other day (a wreck which
occurred February 7, 1938, Monday morning at three and in which the
engineer and five other people were killed) came right from my town,
Fort Valley, Georgia. I came here from there in 1873. I don't know
anybody living in Fort Valley now unless it's my own folks. And I don't
'spect I'd know them now. When I got married and left there, I was only
twenty-one years old.

Parents and Relatives

"My mother and father were born in South Carolina. After their master
and missis married they came to Georgia. Back there I don't know. When I
remember anything they were in Georgia. They said they came from South
Carolina to Georgia. I don't know how they came. Both of my parents were
Negroes. They came to Arkansas ahead of me. I have their pictures." (He
carried me into the parlor and showed me life-sized bust portraits of
his mother and father.)

"There were eighteen of us: six boys and twelve girls. They are all dead
now but myself and one sister. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia. I am older
than she is.


"I am a caterer. I have been serving the Scottish Rite Masons in their
annual reunion every six months for forty-one years. We are going to the
Seventh Street Entrance this Friday. One of the orders will have a
dinner and I am going down to serve it. I served the dinner for Teddy
Roosevelt there, thirty years ago. This Roosevelt is a cousin of his.


"My parents' master was named Wade. When he died, I was so little that
they had to lift me up to let me see into the coffin so I could look at
him. I went to his daughter. My name is after my father's father. My
grandfather was named Miller. I took his name. He was a white man.

"Wade's daughter was named Riley, but I keep my grandfather's name. My
mother and father were then transferred to the Rileys too, and they took
the name of Riley. It was after freedom that I took the name Miller from
my original people. Haven Riley's father was my brother." (Haven Riley
lives in Little Rock and was formerly an instructor at Philander Smith
College. Now he is a public stenographer and a private teacher.)

"Wade owned all of my brothers and sisters and parents and some of my
kin--father's sister and brother. There might have been some more I
can't remember. Wade was a farmer.

"I remember once when my mother and father were going to the field to
work, I went with them as usual. That was before Wade died and his
daughter drew us.

"My wife died six years ago. If she had lived till tomorrow, she would
have been married to me sixty years. She died on the tenth of February
and we were married on the sixth. We just lacked five years of being
married sixty years when she died.


"For food, I don't know anything more than bread and meat. Meal, meat,
molasses were the only rations I saw. In those times the white people
had what was known as the white people's house and then what was known
as nigger quarters. The children that weren't big enough to work were
fed at the white people's house. We got milk and mush for breakfast.
When they boiled cabbage we got bread and pot-liquor. For supper we got
milk and bread. They had cows and the children were fed mostly on milk
and mush or milk and bread. We used to bake a corn cake in the ashes,
ash cake, and put it in the milk.

"The chickens used to lay out in the barn. If we children would find the
nests and bring the eggs in our missis would give us a biscuit, and we
always got biscuits for Christmas.

Houses in the Negro Quarters

"In the nigger quarters there were nothing but log houses. I don't
remember any house other than a log house. They'd just go out in the
woods and get logs and put up a log house. Put dirt and mud or clay in
the cracks to seal it. Notch the logs in the end to hitch them at
corners. Nailed planks at the end of the logs to make a door frame.

"My people all ate and cooked and lived in the same room. Some of the
slaves had dirt floors and some of them had plank floors.

"Food was kept in the house in a sort of box or chest, built in the wall
sometimes. Mostly it was kept on the table.

"In cooking they had a round oven made like a pot only the bottom would
be flat. It had an iron top. The oven was a bought oven. It was shaped
like a barrel. The top lifted up. Coal was placed under the oven and a
little on top.

Tables and Chairs

"Tables were just boards nailed together. Nothing but planks nailed
together. I don't remember nothing but homemade benches for chairs. They
sometimes made platted or split-bottom chairs out of white oak. Strips
of oak were seven feet long. They put them in water so they would bend
easily and wove them while they were flexible and fresh. The whole chair
bottom was made out of one strip just like in caning. Those chairs were
stouter than the chairs they make now."

(To be continued) [TR: No continuation found.]

Interviewer: Mrs. Annie L. LaCotts
Person interviewed: Matilda Miller
                    Humphrey, Ark.
Age: 79

The day of the interview Matilda, a nice clean-looking Negro woman, was
in bed, suffering from some kind of a pain in her head. She lives in a
little two-room unpainted boxed house beside the highway in Humphrey.
Her house is almost in the shadow of the big tank which was put up
recently when the town acquired its water system.

When told that the visitor wanted to talk with her about her early life,
Matilda said, "Well, honey, I'll tell you all I can, but you see, I was
just a little girl when the war was, but I've heard my mother tell lots
of things about then.

"I was born a slave; my mother and daddy both were owned by Judge
Richard Gamble at Crockett's Bluff. I was born at Boone Hill--about
twelve miles north of DeWitt--and how come it named Boone Hill, that
farm was my young mistress's. Her papa give it to her, just like he give
me to her when I was little, and after she married Mr. Oliver Boone and
lived there the farm always went by the name of 'Boone Hill.' The house
is right on top of a hill, you know, it shure was a pretty place when
Miss Georgia lived there, with great big Magnolia trees in the front
yard. I belonged to Miss Georgia, my young mistress, and when the
niggers were freed my mamma staid on with her. She was right there when
both of his chillun were born, Mr. John Boone and Miss Mary, too. I
nursed _both_ of them chillun. You know who Miss Mary is now, don't you?
Yes'um, she's Mr. Lester Black's wife and he's good, too.

"I was de oney child my mother had till twelve years after the
surrender. You see, my papa went off with Yankees and didn't come back
till twelve years after we was free, and then I had some brothers and
sisters. Exactly nine months from the day my daddy come home, I had a
baby brother born. My mother said she knew my daddy had been married or
took up with some other woman, but she hadn't got a divorce and still
counted him her husband. They lived for a long time with our white
folks, for they were good to us, but you know after the boys and girls
got grown and began to marry and live in different places, my parents
wanted to be with them and left the white folks.

"No mam, I didn't see any fighting, but we could hear the big guns
booming away off in the distance. I was married when I was 21 to Henry
Miller and lived with him 51 years and ten months; he died from old age
and hard work. We had two chillun, both girls. One of them lives here
with me in that other room. Mamma said the Yankees told the Negroes when
they got em freed they'd give em a mule and a farm or maybe a part of
the plantation they'd been working on for their white folks. She thought
they just told em that to make them dissatisfied and to get more of them
'to join up with em' and they were dressed in pretty blue clothes and
had nice horses and that made lots of the Negro men go with them. None
of em ever got anything but what their white folks give em, and just
lots and lots of em never come back after the war cause the Yankees put
them in front where the shooting was and they was killed. My husband
Henry Miller died four years ago. He followed public work and made
plenty of money but he had lots of friends and his money went easy too.
I don't spect I'll live long for this hurtin' in my head is awful bad

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Nathan Miller, Madison, Arkansas
Age: Born in 1868

"Lady, I'll tell you what I know but it won't nigh fill your book.

"I was born in 1862 south of Lockesburg, Arkansas. My parents was
Marther and Burl Miller.

"They told me their owners come here from North Carolina in 1820. They
owned lots of slaves and lots of land. Mother was medium light--about my
color. See, I'm mixed. My hair is white. I heard mother say she never
worked in the field. Father was a blacksmith on the place. He wasn't a
slave. His grandfather willed him free at ten years of age. It was tried
in the Supreme Court. They set him free. Said they couldn't break the
dead man's will.

"My father was a real bright colored man. It caused some disturbance.
Father went back and forth to Kansas. They tried to make him leave if he
was a free man. They said I would have to be a slave several years or
leave the State. Freedom settled that for me.

"My great grandmother on my mother's side belong to Thomas Jefferson. He
was good to her. She used to tell me stories on her lap. She come from
Virginia to Tennessee. They all cried to go back to Virginia and their
master got mad and sold them. He was a meaner man. Her name was Sarah
Jefferson. Mariah was her daughter and Marther was my mother. They was
real dark folks but mother was my color, or a shade darker.

"Grandmother said she picked cotton from the seed all day till her
fingers nearly bled. That was fore gin day. They said the more hills of
tobacco you could cultivate was how much you was worth.

"I don't remember the Ku Klux. They was in my little boy days but they
never bothered me.

"All my life I been working hard--steamboat, railroad, farming. Wore
clean out now.

"Times is awful hard. I am worn clean out. I am not sick. I'm ashamed to
say I can't do a good day's work but I couldn't. I am proud to own I get
commodities and $8 from the Relief."

Interviewer: Thomas Elmore Lacy
Person interviewed: Sam Miller, Morrilton, Arkansas
Age: 98

"I is ninety-eight years old, suh. My name's Sam Miller, and I was born
in Texas in 1840--don't know de month nor de day. My parents died when I
was jes' a little chap, and we come to Conway County, Arkansas fifty
years ago; been livin' here ever since. My wife's name was Annie
Williamson. We ain't got no chillun and never had none. I don't belong
to no chu'ch, but my wife is a Baptis'.

"Can't see to git around much now. No, suh, I can't read or write,
neither. My memory ain't so good about things when I was little, away
back yonder, but I sure members dem Ku Klux Klans and de militia. They
used to ketch people and take em out and whup em.

"Don't rickolleck any of de old songs but one or two--oh, yes, dey used
to sing 'Old time religion's good enough for me' and songs like dat.

"De young people! Lawzy, I jest dunno how to take em. Can't understand
em at all. Dey too much for me!"

NOTE: The old fellow chuckled and shook his head but said very little
more. He could have told much but for his faulty memory, no doubt. He
was almost non-committal as to facts of slavery days, the War between
the States, and Reconstruction period. Has the sense of humor that seems
to be a characteristic of most of the old-time Negroes, but aside from a
whimsical chuckle shows little of the interest that is usually
associated with the old generation of Negroes.

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: W.D. Miller, West Memphis, Arkansas
Age: 65?

"Grandpa was sold twice in Raleigh, North Carolina. He was sold twice to
the same people, from the Millers to the Robertsons (Robersons,
Robinsons, etc.?). He said the Robertsons were not so very good to him
but the Millers were. Grandma was washing when a Yank come and told them
they had been sot free. They quit washing and went from house to house
rejoicing. My parents' names was Jesse and Mary Miller, and Grandma
Agnes and Grandpa Peter Miller. The Robertsons was hill wheat farmers.
The Millers had a cloth factory. Dan Miller owned it and he raised
wheat. Mama was a puny woman and they worked her in the factory. She
made cloth and yarn.

"I was born in Raleigh, North Carolina or close by there. My father's
uncle John House brought about one hundred families from North Carolina
to Quittenden County, Mississippi. I was seven years old. He said they
rode mules to pick cotton, it growed up like trees. We come in car
boxes. I came to Heath and Helena eleven years ago. Papa stayed with his
master Dan Miller till my uncle tolled him away. He died with smallpox
soon after we come to Mississippi.

"It is a very good country but they don't pick cotton riding on mules,
at least I ain't seed none that way."

El Dorado District
Name of Interviewer: Pernella Anderson
Subject: Slavery Customs

Information given by: Mose Minser--Farmer--Age--78
Place of Residence: 5 miles from El Dorado--Section 8
[TR: Information moved from bottom of first page.]

Ah use ter could tawk an tell a thing plum well but ah been broke up by
a cah. Cah run ovah mah haid an ah couldn' tawk fuh 30 days. So now ah
aint no good fuh nothin. Ah recollect one night ah dream a dream. De
dream at ah dreamt, next morning dat dream come true. Jes like ah dreamt
hit. Yes hit did. Ah wuz heah in slavery time. Ah membuh when dey freed
us niggers. Se here, ah wuz a purty good size kid when dey free us. Ah
kin membuh our house. Sot dis way. An ole Marster called all his niggers
up. Dey all come along roun in a squad on de porch. Ah did not heah whut
he said tuh em. But mah step-pa wuz dere an tole us we wuz free. Ah
atter dey freed mah step-pa ah recollect he went on home and fried some
aigs (eggs) in de ubben. Know we didn have no stove we cooked on de
fiuhplace. As ah said cook dem aigs, gimme some uv hit, an he lef' den.
Went east and ah aint nevah seed dat man since. Ah membuhs once ah got a
whoopin bout goin tuh de chinquepin tree. Some uv um tole me ole master
wuz gwianter let us quit at dinnuh an so in place uv me goin ter dinnuh
ah went on by de chinquepin tree tuh git some chanks. Ah had a brothuh
wid me. So ah come tuh fine out dat dey gin tuh callin us. Dey hollered
tuh come on dat we wuz gointer pick cotton. So in place uv us goin on
tuh de house we went on back tuh de fiel'. Our fiel wuz bout a mile fum
de house. Ole Moster waited down dere at de gate. He call me when ah got
dere an wanted tuh know why ah didn come and git mah dinnah sos ah could
pick cotton. So he taken mah britches down dat day. Mah chinks all run
out on de groun' an he tole mah brothah tuh pick um up. Ah knocked mah
brothuh ovah fuh pickin um up an aftuh ah done dat ole moster taken his
red pocket han'cher out and tied hit ovah mah eyes tuh keep me fum seein
mah brothuh pick um up.

So when he got through wid me and put mah britches back on me ah went on
tuh de fiel and went tuh pickin cotton. Dat evenin when us stop pickin
cotton ah took mah brothah down and taken mah chinquapins.

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Gip Minton, Des Arc, Arkansas
Age: 84

"I was born at Jackson, Alabama on the Tennessee River. It was sho a
putty river. I never did know my grandfolks. I think my father was a
soldier. My master was a soldier, I think. He was in de war. I do
remember the Civil War. I remember the last battle at Scottsboro. There
was several but one big battle and they got to Belfontain. That is where
it seemed they were trying to go. I don't recollect who won the battle.
I heard them fighting and saw the smoke and after they went on saw the
bodies dead and all that was left was like a cyclone had swept by. There
was a big regiment stationed at Scottsboro. It was just like any war
fought with guns and they lived in tents. They took everything they
could find. Looked like starvation was upon de land.

"I had two sisters and one brother and my mother died when I was a baby.
I come out here to Arkansas with my mothers old master and mistress and
never did see nor hear of none of them. No I never did hear from none of
them. I come out here when I was ten or twelve years old. It was, it was
right after the war. I recken I was freed, but I was raised by white
folks and I stayed right on wid em. Dat freedom ain't never bothered me.

"My master and mistress names was Master Alfred Minton. Dey call me Gip
for him. Gip Minton is what they always called me. My mistress was Miss
Annie Minton. I stayed right wid em. They raised me and I come on here
wid em. I don't know nothin about that freedom.

"I recken they was good to me. I et in de kitchen when they got through
or on a table out in de back yard sometimes. I slept in an outhouse they
fixed up mostly, when I got up big.

"We come on the train to Memphis and they come on thater way to Lonoke
whar we settled. Don Shirley was the man I come on horseback with from
Memphis to Lonoke. He was a man what dealt in horses. Sure he was a
white man. He's where we got some horses. I don't remember if he lived
at Lonoke or not.

"I have voted, yes ma'am, a heap of times. I don't remember what kind er
ticket I votes. I'm a Democrat, I think so. I ain't voted fur sometime
now. I don't know if I'll vote any more times or not. I don't know what
is right bout votin and what ain't right.

"When I was a boy I helped farm. We had what we made. I guess it was
plenty. I had more to eat and I didn't have as many changes of clothes
as folks has to have nowdays bout all de difference. They raised lots
more. They bought things to do a year and didn't be allus goin to town.
It was hard to come to town. Yes mam it did take a long time, sometimes
in a ox wagon. The oxen pulled more over muddy roads. Took three days to
come to town and git back. I farmed one-half-for-the-other and on shear
crop. Well one bout good as the other. Bout all anybody can make farmin
is plenty to eat and a little to wear long time ago and nows the same
way. The most I reckon I ever did make was on Surrounded Hill (Biscoe)
when I farmed one-half-fur-de-udder for Sheriff Reinhardt. The ground
was new and rich and the seasons hit just fine. No maam I never owned no
farm, no livestock, no home. The only thing I owned was a horse one
time. I worked 16 or 17 years for Mr. Brown and for Mr. Plunkett and
Son. I drayed all de time fur em. Hauled freight up from the old depot
(wharf) down on the river. Long time fore a railroad was thought of. I
helped load cotton and hides on the boats. We loaded all day and all
night too heap o'nights. We worked till we got through and let em take
the ship on.

"The times is critical for old folks, wages low and everything is so
high. The young folks got heap better educations but seems like they
can't use it. They don't know how to any avantage. I know they don't
have as good chances at farmin as de older folks had. I don't know why
it is. My son works up at the lumber yard. Yes he owns this house.
That's all he owns. He make nough to get by on, I recken. He works hard,
yes maam. He helps me if he can. I get $4 a month janitor at the Farmers
and Merchants Bank (Des Arc). I works a little garden and cleans off
yards. No maam it hurts my rheumatism to run the yard mower. I works
when I sho can't hardly go. Nothin matter cept I'm bout wo out. I plied
for the old folks penshun but I ain't got nuthin yet. I signed up at the
bank fur it agin not long ago. I has been allus self sportin. Didn't
pend on no livin soul but myself."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: A.J. Mitchell
                    419 E. 11th Avenue, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 78
Occupation: Garbage hauler

"I was 'bout seven when they surrendered. I can remember when my old
master sold Aunt Susan. She raised me. I seen old master when he was
tryin' to whip old Aunt Susan. She was the cook. She said, 'I ain't
goin' let you whip me' and I heard my sister say next day he done sold
Aunt Susan. I ain't seed her since. I called her ma. My mother died when
I was two years old. She was full Injun. My father was black but his
hair was straight. His face was so black it shined. Looked like it was
greased. My father said he was freeborn and I've seen stripes on his
back look like the veins on back of my hand where they whipped him
tryin' to make him disown his freedom.

"Old Jack Clifton was my master. Yes ma'm, that was his name.

"I 'member when they had those old looms--makin' cloth and old shuttle
to put the thread on. I can see 'em now.

"I can 'member when this used to be a Injun place. I've seen old Injun
mounds. White folks come and run 'em out and give 'em Injun Territory.

"I heered the guns in the war and seed the folks comin' home when the
war broke. They said they was fitin' 'bout freedom, tryin' to free the
people. I 'member when they was fitin' at Marks Mill. I know some of the
people said that was where they was sot free.

"I don't know as I seed any Ku Klux when they was goin' round. Hearin'
'bout 'em scared me. I have a good recollection. I can remember the
first dream I ever had and the first time I whistled. I can remember
when I was two or three years old. Remember when they had a big old
conch shell. Old master would blow it at twelve o'clock for 'em to come

"Old master was good to us but I 'member he had a leather strap and if
we chillun had done anything he'd make us younguns put our head 'tween
his legs and put that strap on us. My goodness! He called me Pat and
called his own son Bug--his own son Junie. We played together. Old
master had nicknames for everybody.

"My first mistress was named Miss Mary but she died. I 'member when old
master married and brought Miss Becky home.

"Marse John (he was old master's oldest son) he used to tote me about in
his saddle bags. He was the overseer.

"I 'member old master's ridin' hoss--a little old bay pony--called him
Hardy. I never remember nobody else bein' on it--that was his ridin'

"Old master had dogs. One was Gus and one named Brute (he was a red bone
hound). And one little dog they called Trigger. Old master's head as
white as cotton.

"I do remember the day they said the people was free--after the war
broke. My father come and got me.

"Now I'm givin' you a true statement. I've been stayin' by myself
twenty-three years. I been here in Pine Bluff--well I jest had got here
when the people was comin' back from that German war.

"My God, we had the finest time when we killed hogs--make sausage. We'd
eat cracklin's--oh, we thought they wasn't nothin' like cracklin's. The
Lord have mercy, there was an old beech tree set there in my master's
yard. You could hear that old tree pop ever' day bout the same time,
bout twelve o'clock. We used to eat beech mass. Good? Yes ma'm! I think
about it often and wonder why it was right in old master's yard.

"I've cast a many a vote. Not a bit of trouble in the world. Hope elect
most all the old officers here in town. I had a brother was a constable
under Squire Gaines. Well of course, Miss, I don't think it's right when
they disfranchised the colored people. I tell you, Miss, I read the
Bible and the Bible says every man has his rights--the poor and the free
and the bound. I got good sense from the time I leaped in this world. I
'member well I used to go and cast my vote just that quick but they got
so they wouldn't let you vote unless you could read.

"I've had 'em to offer me money to vote the Democrat ticket. I told him,
no. I didn't think that was principle. The colored man ain't got no
representive now. Colored men used to be elected to the legislature and
they'd go and sell out. Some of 'em used to vote the Democrat ticket.
God wants every man to have his birthright.

"I tell you one thing they did. This here no fence law was one of the
lowest things they ever did. I don't know what the governor was studyin'
'bout. If they would let the old people raise meat, they wouldn't have
to get so much help from the government. God don't like that, God wants
the people to raise things. I could make a livin' but they won't let me.

"The first thing I remember bout studyin' was Junie, old master's son,
studyin' his book and I heard 'em spell the word 'baker'. That was when
they used the old Blue Back Speller.

"I went to school. I'm goin' tell you as nearly as I can. That was,
madam, let me see, that was in sixty-nine as near as I can come at it.
Miss, I don't know how long I went. My father wouldn't let me. I didn't
know nothin' but work. I weighed cotton ever since I was a little boy. I
always wanted to be weighin'. Looked like it was my gift--weighin'

"I'm a Missionary Baptist preacher. Got a license to preach. You go down
and try to preach without a license and they put you up.

"Madam, you asked me a question I think I can answer with knowledge and
understanding. The young people is goin' too fast. The people is growin'
weaker and wiser. You take my folks--goin' to school but not doin'
anything. I don't think there's much to the younger generation. Don't
think they're doin' much good. I was brought up with what they called
fireside teachin'."

Circumstances of Interview
NAME OF WORKER--Bernice Bowden
ADDRESS--1006 Oak Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
DATE--November 2, 1938
[TR: Repetitive information deleted from subsequent pages.]

1. Name and address of informant--Gracie Mitchell

2. Date and time of interview--November 1, 1938, 3:00 p.m.

3. Place of interview--117 Worthen Street

4. Name and address of person, if any, who put you in touch with
informant--Bernice Wilburn, 101 Miller Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

5. Name and address of person, if any, accompanying you--None

6. Description of room, house, surroundings, etc.--A frame house
(rented), bare floors, no window shades; a bed and some boxes and three
straight chairs. In an adjoining room were another bed, heating stove,
two trunks, one straight chair, one rocking chair. A third room the
kitchen, contained cookstove and table and chairs.

Text of Interview

"They said I was born in Alabama. My mother's name was Sallie and my
father was Andrew Wheeler. I couldn't tell when I was born--my folks
never did tell me that. Belonged to Dr. Moore and when his daughter
married he give my mother to her and she went to Mobile. They said I
wasn't weaned yet. My grandmother told me that. She is dead now. Don't
know nothin' bout nary one o' my white folks. I don't recollect nothin'
bout a one of 'em 'cept my old boss. He took us to Texas and stayed till
the niggers was all free and then he went back. Good to me? No ma'm--no
good there. And if you didn't work he'd see what was the matter. Lived
near Coffeyville in Upshaw county. That's whar my husband found me. I
was living with my aunt and uncle. They said the reason I had such a
good gift makin' quilts was cause my mother was a seamstress.

"I cooked 'fore I married and I could make my own dresses, piece quilts
and quilt. That's mostly what I done. No laundry work. I never did farm
till I was married. After we went to Chicago in 1922, I took care of
other folks chillun, colored folks, while they was working in laundries
and factories. I sure has worked. I ain't nobody to what I was when I
was first married. I knowed how to turn, but I don't know whar to turn
now--I ain't able.

"I use to could plow just as good as any man. I could put that dirt up
against that cotton and corn. I'd mold it up. Lay it by? Yes ma'm I'd
lay it by, too.

"They didn't send me to school but they learned me how to work.

"I had a quilt book with a lot o' different patterns but I loaned it to
a woman and she carried it to Oklahoma. Mighty few people you can put
confidence in nowdays.

"I don't go out much 'cept to church--folks is so critical.

  "You have to mind how you walk on the cross;
  If you don't, your foot will slip,
  And your soul will be lost."

"I was a motherless chile but the Lord made up for it by givin' me a
good husband and I don't want for anything."

Interviewer's Comment

According to her husband, Gracie spends every spare moment piecing
quilts. He said they use to go fishing and that Gracie always took her
quilt pieces along and if the fish were not biting she would sew. She
showed me twenty-two finished quilt tops, each of a different design and
several of the same design, or about thirty quilts in all. Two were
entirely of silk, two of applique design which called "laid work". They
were folded up in a trunk and as she took them out and spread them on
the bed for me to see she told me the name of the design. The following
are the names of the designs:

  1. Breakfast Dish
  2. Sawtooth (silk)
  3. Tulip design (Laid work)
  4. "Prickle" Pear
  5. Little Boy's Breeches
  6. Birds All Over the Elements
  7. Drunkard's Path
  8. Railroad Crossing
  9. Cocoanut Leaf ("That's Laid Work")
 10. Cotton Leaf
 11. Half an Orange
 12. Tree of Paradise
 13. Sunflower
 14. Ocean Wave (silk)
 15. Double Star
 16. Swan's Nest
 17. Log Cabin in the Lane
 18. Reel
 19. Lily in de Valley (Silk)
 20. Feathered Star
 21. Fish Tail
 22. Whirligig

Gracie showed me her winter coat bought in Chicago of fur fabric called
moleskin, and with fur collar and cuffs.

She sells the quilt tops whenever she can. Many are made of new material
which they buy.

Personal History of Informant

1. Ancestry--Father, Andrew Wheeler; Sallie Wheeler, mother.

2. Place and date of birth--Alabama. No date known, about 80 years old.

3. Family--Husband and one grown son.

4. Places lived in, with dates--Alabama, Texas till 1897, Arkansas
1897-1922, Chicago, 1922 to 1930. Arkansas 1930 to date.

5. Education, with dates--No education.

6. Occupations and accomplishments, with dates--Cooked before marriage
at 16; farmed after marriage; home sewing.

7. Special skills and interests--Quilt making and knitting.

8. Community and religious activities--Assisted husband in ministry.

9. Description of informant--Hair divided into many pigtails and wrapped
with rags. Skin, dark. Medium height, slender, clothing soiled.

10. Other points gained in interview--Spends all her time piecing
quilts, aside from housework.

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Hettie Mitchell (mulatto)
                    Brinkley, Arkansas
Age: 69

"I am sixty-nine years old. I was raised in Dyersburg, Tennessee. I can
tell you a few things mother told us. My own grandma on mother's side
was in South Carolina. She was stole when a child and brought to
Tennessee in a covered wagon. Her mother died from the grief of it. She
was hired out to nurse for these people. The people that stole her was
named Spence. She was a house woman for them till freedom. She was never
sold. Spences was not cruel people. Mother was never sold. She was the
mother of twelve and raised nine to a good age--more than grown. The
Spences seemed to always care for her children. When I go to Dyersburg
they always want us to come to see them and they treat us mighty well.

"Mother was light. She said she had Indian strain (blood) but father was
very light and it was white blood but he never discussed it before his
children. So I can't tell you excepting he said he was owned by the
Brittians in South Carolina. He said his mother died soon after he was
sold. He was sold to a nigger trader and come in the gang to Memphis,
Tennessee and was put on the block and auctioned off to the highest
bidder. He was a farm hand.

"Mother married father when she was nineteen years old. She was a house
girl. She lived close to her old mistress. She was very, very old before
she died she nearly stayed at my mother's house. Her mind wasn't right
and mother understood how to take care of her and was kind to her. The
Spences heard about grandma. They wrote and visited years after when
mother was a girl.

"The way that father found out about his kin folks was this: One day a
creek was named and he told the white man, 'I was born close to that
creek and played there in the white sand and water when I was a little
boy.' The white man asked his name, said he knew the creek well too.
Father told him he never was named till he was sold and they named him
Sam--Sam Barnett. He was sold to Barnett in Memphis. But his dear own
mother called him 'Candy.' The white man found out about his people for
him and they found out his own dear mother died that same year he was
taken from South Carolina from grief. He heard from some of his people
from that time on till he died.

"I worked on the farm in Tennessee till I married. I ironed, washed, and
have kept my own house and done the work that goes along with raising a
small family. We own our home. We have saved all we could along. I have
never had a real hard time like some I know. I guess my time is at hand
now. I don't know which way to turn since my husband got down sick.

"I don't vote. Seem like it used to not be a nice place for women to go
where voting was taking place. Now they go mix up and vote. That is one
big change. Time is changing and changing the people. Maybe it is the
people is changing up the world as time goes by. We colored folks look
to the white folks to know the way to do. We have always done it."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Mary Mitchell, Hazen, Arkansas
Age: 60

"I was born in Trenton, Tennessee. My parents had five children. They
were named William and Charlotte Wells. My father ran away and left my
mother with all the children to raise. By birth mother was a
Mississippian. She had been a nurse and my father was a timber man and
farmer. My mother said she had her hardest time raising her little
children. She was taken from her parents when a small girl and put on a
block and sold. She never said if her owners was bad to her, but she
said they was rough on Uncle Peter. He would fight. She said they would
tie Uncle Peter and whoop him with a strap. From what she said there was
a gang of slaves on Mr. Wade's place. He owned her. I never heard her
mention freedom but she said they had a big farm bell on a tall post in
the back yard and they had a horn to blow. It was a whistle made of a
cow's horn.

"She said they was all afraid of the Ku Klux. They would ride across the
field and they could see that they was around, but they never come up
close to them."

Circumstances of Interview
NAME OF WORKER--Bernice Bowden
ADDRESS--1006 Oak Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
DATE--November 3, 1938
[TR: Repetitive information deleted from subsequent pages.]

1. Name and address of informant--Moses Mitchell, 117 Worthen Street

2. Date and time of interview--November 1, 1938, 1:00 p.m.

3. Place of interview--117 Worthen Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

4. Place and address of person, if any, who put you in touch with
informant--Bernice Wilburn, 101 Miller Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

5. Name and address of person, if any, accompanying you--None

6. Description of room, house, surroundings, etc.--A frame house
(rented), bare floors, no window shades; a bed and some boxes and three
straight chairs. In an adjoining room were another bed, heating stove,
two trunks, one straight chair, one rocking chair. A third room, the
kitchen, contained cookstove and table and chairs.

Text of Interview

"I was born down here on White River near Arkansas Post, August, 1849. I
belonged to Thomas Mitchel and when they (Yankees) took Arkansas Post,
our owners gathered us up and my young master took us to Texas and he
sold me to an Irishman named John McInish in Marshall for $1500. $500 in
gold and the rest in Confederate money. They called it the new issue.

"I was twelve years old then and I stayed in Texas till I was
forty-eight. I was at Tyler, Texas when they freed us. When they took us
to Texas they left my mother and baby sister here in Arkansas, down here
on Oak Log Bayou. I never saw her again and when I came back here to
Arkansas, they said she had been dead twenty-eight years. Never did hear
of my father again.

"I'm supposed to be part Creek Indian. Don't know how much. We have one
son, a farmer, lives across the river. Married this wife in 1873.

"My wife and I left Texas forty-one years ago and came back here to
Arkansas and stayed till 1922. Then we went to Chicago and stayed till
1930, and then came back here. I'd like to go back up there, but I guess
I'm gettin' too old. While I was there I preached and I worked all the
time. I worked on the streets and the driveways in Lincoln Park. I was
in the brick and block department. Then I went from there to the asphalt
department. There's where I coined the money. Made $6.60 in the brick
and block and $7.20 a day in the asphalt. Down here they don't know no
more about asphalt than a pig does about a holiday. _A man that's from
the South and never been nowhere, don't know nothin', a woman either_.

"Yes ma'm, I'm a preacher. Just a local preacher, wasn't ordained. The
reason for that was, in Texas a man over forty-five couldn't join the
traveling connection. I was licensed, but of course I couldn't perform
marriage ceremonies. I was just within one step of that.

"I went to school two days in my life. I was privileged to go to the
first free school in Texas. Had a teacher named Goldman. Don't know what
year that was but they found out me and another fellow was too old so
they wouldn't let us go no more. But I caught my alphabet in them two
days. So I just caught what education I've got, here and there. I can
read well--best on my Bible and Testament and I read the newspapers. I
can sorta scribble my name.

"I've been a farmer most of my life and a preacher for fifty-five years.
I can repair shoes and use to do common carpenter work. I can help build
a house. I only preach occasionally now, here and there. I belong to the
Allen Temple in Hoboken (East Pine Bluff).

"I think the young generation is gone to naught. They're a different cut
to what they was in my comin' up."

Interviewer's Comment

This man and his wife live in the outskirts of West pine Bluff. They
receive a small sum of money and commodities from the County Welfare
Department. He has a very pleasant personality, a good memory and
intelligence above the ordinary. Reads the Daily Graphic and Arkansas
Gazette. Age 89. He said, "_Here's the idea, freedom is worth it all_."

Personal History of Informant

1. Ancestry--Father, Lewis Mitchell; Mother, Rhoda Mitchell

2. Place and date of birth--Oak Log Bayou, White River, near Arkansas
Post, Ark.

3. Family--Wife and one grown son.

4. Places lived in, with dates--Taken to Texas by his young master and
sold in Marshall during the war. Lived in Tyler, Texas until forty-eight
years of age; came back to Arkansas in 1897 and stayed until 1922; went
to Chicago and lived until 1930; back to Jefferson County, Arkansas.

5. Education, with dates--Two days after twenty-one years of age. No

6. Occupations and accomplishments, with dates--Farmer, preacher, common
carpenter, cobbler, public work on streets in Chicago, farmed and
preached until he went to Chicago in 1922. The he worked in the
maintenance department of city streets of Chicago and of Lincoln Park,

7. Special skills and interests--Asphalt worker

8. Community and religious activities--Licensed Methodist Preacher. No
assignment now.

9. Description of informant--Five feet eight inches tall; weight, 165
pounds, nearly bald. Very prominent cheek bones. Keen intelligence.
Neatly dressed.

10. Other points gained in interview--Reads daily papers; knowledge of
world affairs.

Pine Bluff District
Name of Interviewer: Martin - Barker
Subject: Negro Customs

Information by: Ben Moon
[TR: Information moved from bottom of second page.]

I was born on the Walker place, in 1869. My father was a slave to Mr.
Bob. I used to drive Miss Lelia (Eulalie) to the Catholic church here in
Pine Bluff. She used to let me go barefooted, and bare headed.

Miss Lelia was the daughter of Col. Creed Taylor. All during slavery
time I drove her gins. We had eight mules. Eight at a time hitched to
each lever, they would weave in an out but they was so hitched that they
never got in any body's way. They just walked around and round like they
did in those days. We had herds of sheep, we sheared them and wove yarn
for socks. We raised wheat, when it was ripe we laid a canvas cloth on
the ground and put wheat on it, then men and women on horse back rode
over it, and thrashed it that way. They called it treading it. Then we
took it to the mill and ground it and made it into flour. For breakfast,
(we ate awful soon in the morning), about 4 AM, then we packed lunch in
tin buckets and eat again at daylight. Fat meat, cornbread and molasses.
Some would have turnip greens for breakfast.

Summertime, Miss Lelia would plant plenty of fruit, and we would have
fried apples, stewed peaches and things.

Sunday mornings we would have biscuit, butter, molasses, chicken, etc.

For our work they paid us seventy-five cents a day and when come cotton
picking time old rule, seventy five cents for pickin cotton. Christmas
time, plenty of fireworks, plenty to eat, drink and everything. We would
dance all Christmas.

All kind of game was plentiful, plenty of coon, possum, used up
everything that grew in the woods. Plenty of corn, we took it to the
grist mill every Saturday.

Ark. riv. boats passed the Walker place, and dey was a landing right at
dere place, and one at the Wright place, that is where the airport is

All de white folks had plenty of cattle den and in de winter time dey
was all turned in on the fields and with what us niggers had, that made
a good many, and you know yorself dat was good for de ground.

Mother was a slave on the Merriweather place, her marster was Mick[TR:
name not clear] Merriweather. My granma was Gusta Merriweather, my
mother Lavina and lived on the Merriweather place in what was then
Dorsey county, near Edinburg, now Cleveland Co. My grandfather was Louis
Barnett, owned by Nick Barnett of Cleveland co., then Dorsey co. Fathers
people was owned by Marse Bob Walker. Miss Lelia (Eulalie) was mistis.
Miss Maggie Benton was young mistis.

I dont believe in ghosts or spirits.

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Emma Moore
                    3715 Short West Second, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 80
Occupation: Laundry work

"I'se born in slavery times. When my daddy come back from the War, he
said I was gwine on seven or eight.

"He stayed in the War three years and six months. I know that's what he
always told us. He went with his master, Joe Horton. Looks like I can
see old Marse Joe now. Had long sandy whiskers. The las' time I seed him
he come to my uncle's house. We was all livin' in a row of houses.
Called em the quarters. I never will fergit it.

"I was born on Horton's Island here in Arkansas. That's what they told

"I know when my daddy went to war and when he come back, he put on his
crudiments (accoutrements) to let us see how he looked.

"I seed the soldiers gwine to war and comin' back. Look like to me I was
glad to see em till I seed too many of em.

"Yankees used to come down and take provisions. Yes, 'twas the Yankees!

"My granddaddy was the whippin' boss. Had a white boss too named Massa

"Massa Joe used to come down and play with us chillun. His name was Joe
Horton. Ever'body can tell you that was his name. Old missis named Miss
Mary. She didn't play with us much.

"Yes ma'am, they sure did take us to Texas durin' of the War--in a ox
wagon. Stayed down there a long time.

"We didn't have plenty to eat but we had to eat what we did. I member
they wouldn't give us chillun no meat, jus' grease my mouf and make my
mother think we had meat.

"Now my mother told me, at night some of the folks used to steal one of
old massa's shoats and cook it at night. I know when that pot was on the
rack but you better not say nothin' bout it.

"All us chillun stayed in a big long log house. Dar is where us chillun
stayed in the daytime, right close to Miss Mary.

"I used to sit on the lever at the gin. You know that was glory to me to
ride. I whipped the old mule. Ever' now and then I'd give him a tap.

"When they pressed the cotton, they wet the press and I member one time
they wet it too much. I don't say they sont it back but I think they
made em pay for it. And they used to put chunks in the bale to make it
weigh heavy. Right there on that lake where I was born.

"Used to work in the field. These white folks can tell you I loved to
work. I used to get as much as the men. My mammy was a worker and as the
sayin' is, I was a chip off the old block.

"The first teacher I went to school to was named Mr. Cushman. Didn't go
only on rainy days. That was the first school and you might say the las'
one cause I had to nuss them chillun.

"You know old massa used to keep all our ages and my daddy said I was
nineteen when I married, but I don't know what year 'twas--honest I

"I been married three times.

"I member one time I was goin' to a buryin'. I was hurryin' to get
dressed. I wanted to be ready when they come by for me cause they say
it's bad luck to stop a corpse. If you don't know that I do--you know if
they had done started from the house.

"My mama and daddy said they was born in Tennessee and was bought and
brought here.

"I been goin' to one of these gov'ment schools and got my eyes so weak I
can't hardly see to thread a needle. I'se crazy bout it I'm tellin' you.
I sit up here till God knows how long. They give me a copy to practice
and they'd brag on me and that turned me foolish. I jus' thought I was
the teacher herself almos'. That's the truf now.

"I can't read much. I don't fool with no newspaper. I wish I could,
woman--I sure do.

"I keep tellin' these young folks they better learn somethin'. I tell em
they better take this chance. This young generation--I don't know much
bout the whites--I'm tellin' you these colored is a sight.

"Well, I'm gwine away from here d'rectly--ain't gwine be here much
longer. If I don't see you again I'll meet you in heaven."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Patsy Moore, Madison, Arkansas
Age: 74

"My mother was sold in Jamestown, Virginia to Daphney Hull. Her white
folks got in debt. My papa was born in Georgia. Folks named Williams
owned him. Ma never seen her ma no more but William Hull went to
Virginia and bought her two sisters.

"I was named Patsy after grandma in Virginia. She had twenty-one
children to ma's knowing. Ma was a light color. Pa was a Molly Glaspy
man. That means he was Indian and African. Molly Glaspy folks was nearly
always free folks. Ma was named Mattie. If they would have no children
they got trafficked about.

"Daphney Hull was good but William Hull and his wife was both mean. They
lived on the main road to Holly Springs. Daphney Hull was a Methodist
man, kind-hearted and good. He was a bachelor I think. He kept a woman
to cook and keep his house. Auntie said the Yankees was mean to Mr.
William Hull's wife. They took all their money and meat. They had their
money hid and some of the black folks let the Yankees find out where it
was. They got it.

"Papa was a soldier. He sent for us. We come to Memphis, Tennessee in a
wagon. We lived there five or six years. Pa got a pension till he died.
Both my parents was field hands in slavery. Ma took in washing and
ironing in Memphis.

"I was born in De Sota County, Mississippi. I remember Forrest's battle
in Memphis. I didn't have sense to be scared. I seen black and white
dead in the streets and alleys. We went to the magazine house for
protection, and we played and stayed there. They tried to open the
magazine house but couldn't.

"When freedom come, folks left home, out in the streets, crying,
praying, singing, shouting, yelling, and knocking down everything. Some
shot off big guns. Den come the calm. It was sad then. So many folks
done dead, things tore up and nowheres to go and nothing to eat, nothing
to do. It got squally. Folks got sick, so hungry. Some folks starved
nearly to death. Times got hard. We went to the washtub onliest way we
all could live. Ma was a cripple woman. Pa couldn't find work for so
long when he mustered out.

"I do recollect the Civil War well.

"I live with my daughter. I have a cough since I had flu and now I have
chills and fever. My daughter helps me all I get. She lives with me.

"Some of the young folks is mighty good. I reckon some is too loose
acting. Times is hard. Harder in the winter than in summer time. We has
our garden and chickens to help us out in summer."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Ada Moorehead
                    2300 E. Barraque, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 82?

"I was here in slavery times, honey, but I don't know exactly how old I
am. I was born in Huntsville, Alabama but you know in them days old
folks didn't tell the young folks no thin' and I was so small when they
brought me here. I don't know what year I was born but I believe I'm
about eighty-two. You know when a person ain't able to work and dabble
out his own clothes, you know he's gone a long ways.

"My white folks was Ad White what owned me. Called him Marse Ad. Don't
call folks marse much now-days.

"My father was sold away from us in Alabama and we heard he was here in
Pine Bluff so Aunt Fanny brought us here. She just had a road full of us
and brought us here to Arkansas. We walked. We was a week on the road. I
know we started here on Monday morning and we got here to the courthouse
on the next Monday round about noon. That was that old courthouse. I
reckon that ground is in the river now.

"When we got here I saw my father. He took me to his sister--that was my
Aunt Savannah--and dropped me down.

"Mrs. Reynolds raised me. She come to Aunt Savannah's house and hired me
the very same day I got here. I nursed Miss Katie. She was bout a month
old. You know--a little long dress baby. Don't wear then long dresses
now--gettin' wiser.

"Mrs. Reynolds she was good to me. And since she's gone looks like I'm
gone too--gone to the dogs. Cause when Mrs. Reynolds got a dress for
Miss Katie--got one for me too.

"My father was a soldier in the war. Last time I heard from him I know
he was hauling salt to the breastworks. Yes, I was here in the war. That
was all right to me but I wished a many a time I wasn't here.

"I went to school two or three days in a week for about a term. But I
didn't learn to read much. Had to hire out and help raise my brother and
sister. I'm goin' to this here government school now. I goes every

"Since I got old I can think bout the old times. It comes to me. I
didn't pay attention to nothin' much when I was young.

"Oh Lord, I don't know what's goin' to become of us old folks. Wasn't
for the Welfare, I don't know what I'd do.

"I was sixteen when I married. I sure did marry young. I married young
so I could see my chillun grown. I never married but once and I stayed a
married woman forty-nine years to the very day my old man died. Lived
with one man forty-nine years. I had my hand and heart full. I had a
home of my own. How many chillun? Me? I had nine of my own and I raised
other folks' chillun. Oh, I been over this world right smart--first one
thing and then another. I know a lot of white folks. They all been
pretty good to me."

Interviewer: Mary D. Hudgins
Person Interviewed: Mrs. Mary Jane (Mattie) Mooreman
Home: with son
Age: 90

"Yes, ma'am. I've been in Hot Springs, been in Hot Springs 57 years.
That's a long time. Lots of changes have come--I've seen lots of changes
here--changed from wooden sidewalks and little wood buildings.

"Your name's Hudgins? I knew the Hudginses--knew Miss Nora well. What's
that? Did I know Adeline? Did I know Adeline! Do you mean to tell me
she's still alive? Adeline! Why Miss Maud," (addressing Mrs. Eisele, for
whom she works--and who sat nearby to help in the interview) "Miss
Maude, I tell you Adeline's WHITE, she's white clean through!" (see
interview with Adeline Blakeley, who incidentally is as black as "the
ace of spades"--in pigmentation.) "Miss Maude, you never knew anybody
like Adeline. She bossed those children and made them mind--just like
they was hers. She took good care of them." (Turning to the interviewer)
"You know how the Hudgins always was about their children. Adeline
thought every one of 'em was made out of gold---made out of pure GOLD.

"She made 'em mind. I remember once, she was down on Central Avenue with
Ross and he did southing or other that, wasn't nice. She walked over to
the umbrella stand, you remember how they used to have umbrellas for
sale out in front of the stores. She grabbed an umbrella and she whipped
Ross with it--she didn't hurt him. Then she put it back in the stand
and said to the man who ran the store, 'If that umbrella's hurt, just
charge it to Harve Hudgins.' That's the way Adeline was. So she's still
alive. Law how I'd like to see her. Bring me a picture of her. Oh Miss
Mary, I'd love to have it.

"Me? I was born on Green river near Hartford, Kentucky. Guess I was
about a year and a half, from what they told me when my mistress
married. Don't know how she ever met my master. She was raised in a
convent and his folks lived a long way from hers. But anyhow she did.
She was just 13 when she married. The man she married was named Charles
Mooreman M-O-O-R-E-M-A-N. They had a son called Charles Wycliff
Mooreman. He was named for his mother's people. I got a son I called
Charles Wycliff too. He works at the Arlington. He's a waiter. They say
he looks just like me. Mr. Charles Wycliff Mooreman--back in Kentucky.
I still gets letters from him.

"Miss Mary I guess I had a pretty easy time in slavery days. They was
good to us. Besides I was a house niggah." (Those who have been "house
niggahs" never quibble at the word slave or negro. A subtle social
distinction brewed in the black race to separate house servants from
field hands as far as wealthy planters from "poor white trash.".) "Once
I heard a man say of my mother, 'You could put on a white boiled shirt
and lie flat down on the floor in her kitchen and not get dirty.'"

"Cook? No, ma'am!" (with dignity and indignation) "I never cooked until
after I was married, and I never washed, never washed so much as a rag.
All I washed was the babies and maybe my mistress's feet. I was a lady's
maid. I'd wait on my mistress and I'd knit sox for all the folks. When
they would sleep it was our duty--us maids--to fan 'em with feathers
made out of turkey feathers--feather fans. Part of it was to keep 'em
cool. Then they didn't have screens like we have today. So part of it
was to keep the flies off. I remember how we couldn't stomp our feet to
keep the flies from biting for fear of waking 'em up.

"No, Miss Mary, we didn't get such, good food. Nobody had all the kinds
of things we have today. We had mostly buttermilk and cornbread and fat
meat. Cake? 'Deed we didn't. I remember once they baked a cake and Mr.
Charles Wycliff--he was just a little boy--he got in and took a whole
fistful out of the cake. When Miss found out about it, she give us all
doses of salts--enough to make us all throw up. She gave it to all the
niggahs and the children--the white children. And what did she find out?
It was her own child who had done it.

"Yes ma'am we learned to read and write. Oh, Miss Maude now--I don't
want to recite. I don't want to." (But she did "Twinkle, Twinkle Little
Star" and "The Playful Kitten"--the latter all of 40 lines.) "I think, I
think they both come out of McGuffey's second Reader. Yes ma'am I
remember's McGuffey's and the Blueback speller too.

"No, Miss Mary, there wasn't so much of the war that was fought around
us. I remember that old Master used to go out in the front yard and
stand by a locust tree and put his ear against it. He said that way he
could hear the cannon down to Bowling Green. No, I didn't never hear any
shooting from the war myself.

"Yes ma'am, the Confederates used to come through lots. I remember how
we used to go to the spring for water for 'em. Then we'd stand with the
buckets on our heads while they drank--drank out of a big gourd. When
the buckets was empty we'd go back to the spring for more water.

"Once the Yankees come by the place. It was at night. They went out to
the quarters and they tried to get 'em to rise up. Told 'em to come on
in the big house and take what they wanted. Told 'em to take anything
they wanted to take, take Master's silver spoons and Miss' silk dress.
'If they don't like it, we'll shoot their brains out,' they said. Next
morning they told Master. He got scared and moved. At that time we was
living at Cloverport.

"It was near the end of the war and we was already free, only we didn't
know it. He moved on up to Stephensport. That's on the Ohio too. He took
me and a brother of mine and another black boy. While we was there I
remember he took me to a circus. I remember how the lady--she was
dressed in pink come walking down a wire--straight on down to the
ground. She was carrying a long pole. I won't never forget that.

"Not long afterwards I was married. We was all free then. My husband
asked my master if he could marry me. He told him 'You're a good man.
You can come and live on my farm and work for me, but you can't have
Mattie.' So we moved off to his Master's farm.

"A little while after that his Master bought a big farm in Arkansas. He
wanted to hire as many people as he could. So we went with him. He
started out well, but the first summer he died. So everything had to be
sold. A man what come down to bid on some of the farm tools and
stock--come to the auction, he told us to come on up to Woodruff county
and work for him. We was there 7 years and he worked the farm and I took
care of myself and my babies. Then he went off and left me.

"I went in to Cotton Plant and started working there. Finally he wrote
me and tried to get me to say we hadn't never been married. Said he
wanted to marry another woman. The white folks I worked for wouldn't let
me. I'd been married right and they wouldn't let me disgrace myself by
writing such a letter.

"Finally I came on to Hot Springs. For a while I cooked and washed. Then
I started working for folks, regular. For 9 years, tho, I mostly washed
and ironed.

"I came to Hot Springs on the 7th of February--I think it was 57 years
ago. You remember Miss Maud--it was just before that big hail storm. You
was here, don't you remember--that hail storm that took all the windows
out of all the houses, tore off roofs and swept dishes and table-cloths
right off the tables. Can't nobody forget that who's seen it.

"Miss Mary, do you know Miss Julia Huggins? I worked for her a long
time. Worked for her before she went away and after she came back.
Between times I cooked for Mrs. Button (Burton--but called Button by
everyone) Housley. When Miss Julia come back she marches right down to
Mrs. Housley's and tells me she wants me to work for her again. 'Can't
get her now,' says Mrs. Housley, 'Mattie's done found out she's black.'
But anyhow I went to see her, and I went back to work for her, pretty
foxy Miss Julia was.

"I been working for Mrs. Eisele pretty near twenty five years. Saw her
children grow up and the grand children. Lancing, he's my heart. Once
when Mr. and Mrs. Eisele went to see Mrs. Brown, Lancing's mother, they
took me with them. All the way to Watertown, Wisconsin. There wasn't any
more niggas in the town and all the children thought I was somthing to
look at. They'd come to see me and they'd bring their friends with 'em.
Once while we was there, a circus come to town. The children wanted me
to see it. Told me there was a negro boy in it. Guess they thought it
would be a treat to me to see another niggah. I told 'em, 'Law, don't
you think I see lots, lots more than I wants, everyday when I is at

"It used to scare me. The folks would go off to a party or a show and
leave me alone with the baby. No, Miss Mary, I wasn't scared for myself.
I thought somebody might come in and kidnap that baby. No matter how
late they was I'd sit on the top step of the stairs leading
upstairs--just outside the door where Lansing was asleep. No matter what
time they come home they'd find me there. 'Why don't you go on in your
bedroom and lie down?' they'd ask me. 'No,' I'd tell 'em, 'somebody
might come in, and they would have to get that baby over my dead body.'

"Jonnie, that's my daughter" (Mrs. D.G. Murphy, 338 Walnut Street, a
large stucco house with well cared for lawn) "she wants me to quit work.
I told her, 'You put that over on Mrs. Murphy--you made her quit work
and took care of her. What happened to her? She died! You're not going
to make me old.'

"Twice she's got me to quit work. Once, she told me it was against the
law. Told me there was a law old folks couldn't work. I believed her and
I quit. Then I come on down and I asked Mr. Eisele" (an important
business executive and prominent in civic affairs, [HW: aged 83]) "He
rared back and he said, 'I'd like to see anybody stop me from working.'
So I come on back.

"Another time, it was when the old age pensions come in. They tried to
stop me again. Told me I had to take it. I asked Mr. Eisele if I could
work just the same. 'No,' he says 'if you take it, you'll have to quit
work.' So I stamped my foot and I says, 'I won't take nobody's pension.'

"The other day Jonnie called up here and she started to crying. Lots of
folks write her notes and say she's bad to let me work. Somebody told
her that they had seen me going by to work at 4 o'clock in the morning.
It wasn't no such. I asked a man when I was on the way and it was 25
minutes until 5. Besides, my clock had stopped and I couldn't tell what
time it was. Yes, Miss Mary, I does get here sort of early, but then I
like it. I just sit in the kitchen until the folks get up.

"You see that picture over there, it's Mr. Eisele when he was 17. I'd
know that smiling face anywhere. He's always good to me. When they go
away to Florida I can go to the store and get money whenever I need it.
But it's always good to see them come back. Miss Maud says I'm sure to
go to Heaven, I'm such a good worker. No, Miss Mary, I'm not going to
quit work. Not until I get old."

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Evelina Morgan
                    1317 W. Sixteenth Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: App. 81
[TR: Original first page moved to follow second page per
 HW: Insert this page before Par. 1, P. 3]

"I was born in Wedgeboro, North Carolina, on the plantation of--let me
see what that man's name was. He was an old lawyer. I done forgot that
old white man's name. Old Tom Ash! Senator Ash--that's his name. He was
good to his slaves. He had so many niggers he didn't know them all.

"My father's name was Alphonso Dorgens and my mother's name was Lizzie
Dorgens. Both of them dead. I don't know what her name was before she
married. My pa belonged to the Dorgens' and he married my ma. That is
how she come to be a Dorgen. Old Man Ash never did buy him. He just
visited my mother. They all was in the same neighborhood. Big
plantations. Both of them had masters that owned lots of land. I don't
know how often he visited my mother after he married her. He was over
there all the time. They were right adjoining plantations.

"I was born in a frame house. I don't know nothin' about it no more than
that. It was j'ined to the kitchen. My mother had two rooms j'ined to
the kitchen. She was the old mistress' cook. She could come right out of
the kitchen and go on in her room.

"My father worked on the farm. They fed the slaves meat and bread. That
is all I remember--meat and bread and potatoes. They made lots of
potatoes. They gave 'em what they raised. You could raise stuff for
yourself if you wanted to.

"My mother took care of her children. We children was on the place there
with her. She didn't have nobody's children to take care of but us.

"I was six years old during of the War. My ma told me my age, but I
forgot it; I never did have it put down. The only way I gits a pension,
I just tells 'em I was six years old during of the War, and they figures
out the age. Sorta like that. But I know I was six years old when the
Rebels and the Yankees was fighting.

"I seed the Yankees come through. I seed that. They come in the time old
master was gone. He run off--he run away. He didn't let 'em git him. I
was a little child. They stayed there all day breaking into
things--breaking into the molasses and all like that. Old mistress
stayed upstairs hiding. The soldiers went down in the basement and
throwed things around. Old master was a senator; they wanted to git him.
They sure did cuss him: 'The ----, ----, ----, old senator,' they would
say. He took his finest horses and all the gold and silver with him
somewheres. They couldn't git 'im. They was after senators and high-ups
like that.

"The soldiers tickled me. They sung. The white people's yard was jus'
full of them playing 'Yankee Doodle' and 'Hang Jeff Davis on a Sour
Apple Tree.'

"All the white people gone! Funny how they run away like that. They had
to save their selves. I 'member they took one old boss man and hung him
up in a tree across a drain of water, jus' let his foot touch--and
somebody cut him down after 'while. Those white folks had to run away.


"I used to hear them all talk about the patrollers. I used to hear my
mother talking about them. My ma said my master wouldn't let the
patrollers come on his place. They could go on anybody else's place but
he never did let them come on his place. Some of the slaves were treated
very bad. But my ma said he didn't allow a patroller on the place and he
didn't allow no other white man to touch his niggers. He was a big white
man--a senator. He didn't know all his Negroes but he didn't allow
nobody to impose on them. He didn't let no patroller and nobody else
beat up his niggers.

How Freedom Came

"I don't know how freedom came. I know the Yankees came through and
they'd pat we little niggers on the head and say, 'Nigger, you are just
as free as I am.' And I would say, 'Yes'm.'

Right After Freedom

"Right after the War my mother and father moved off the place and went
on another plantation somewheres--I don't know where. They share
cropped. I don't know how long. Old mistress didn't want them to move at
all. I never will forget that.

Present Occupation and Opinions

"I used to cook out all the time when I got grown. I couldn't tell you
when I married. You got enough junk down there now. So I ain't giving
you no more. My husband's been dead about seven years. I goes to the
Methodist church on Ninth and Broadway. I ain't able to do no work now.
I gets a little pension, and the Lord takes care of me. I have a hard
time sometime.

"I ain't bothered about these young folks. They is _somethin' awful_. It
would be wonderful to write a book from that. They ought to git a
history of these young people. You could git a wonderful book out of

"The colored folks have come a long way since freedom. And if the white
folks didn't pin 'em down they'd go further. Old Jeff Davis said when
the niggers was turned loose, 'Dive up your knives and forks with them.'
But they didn't do it.

"Some niggers was sharp and got something. And they lost it just like
they got it. Look at Bush. I know two or three big niggers got a lot and
ain't got nothin' left now. Well, I ain't got no time for no more junk.
You got enough down there. You take that and go on."

Interviewer's Comment

During the interview, a little "pickaninny" came in with his mother. His
grandmother and a forlorn little dog were also along. "Tell grandma what
you want," his mother prompted. "Is that your grandson?" I interrupted.
"No," she said, "He ain't no kin to me, but he calls me 'ma' and acts as
if I was his grandma." The little fellow hung back. He was just about
twenty-two months old, but large and mature for that age.

"Tell 'ma' what you want," his grandmother put in. Finally, he made up
his mind and stood in front of her and said, "Buh--er." His mother
explained, "I've done made him some corn bread, but he ain't got no
butter to put on it and he wants you to give him some."

Sister Morgan sat silent awhile. Then she rose deliberately and went
slowly to the ancient ice-box, opened it and took out a tin of butter
which she had evidently churned herself in some manner and carefully cut
out a small piece and wrapped it neatly and handed it to the little one.
After a few amenities, they passed out.

Even with her pitiful and meagre lot, the old lady evidently means to
share her bare necessities with others.

The manner of her calculation of her age is interesting. She was six
years old when the War was going on. She definitely remembers seeing
Sherman's army and Wheeler's cavalry after she was six. Since they were
in her neighborhood in 1864, she is undoubtedly more than eighty.
Eighty-one is a fair estimate.

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: James Morgan
                    819 Rice Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: 65

"During the slave time, the pateroles used to go from one plantation to
the other hunting Negroes. They would catch them at the door and throw
hot ashes in their faces. You could go to another plantation and steal
or do anything you wanted if you could manage to get back to your old
master's place. But if you got caught away from your plantation, they
would get you. Sometimes a nigger didn't want to get caught and beat, so
he would throw a shovel of hot ashes in the pateroles' faces and beat it

"My daddy used to tell lots of stories about slavery times. He's been
dead forty-three years and my mother has been dead forty-one
years--forty-one years this May. I was quite young and lots of the
things they told me, I remember, and some of them, I don't.

"I was born in 1873. That was eight years after the War ended. My
father's name was Aaron and my mother's name was Rosa. Both of them was
in slavery.[TR: sentence lined out.] I got a brother that was a baby in
her lap when the Yankee soldiers got after a chicken. The chicken flew
up in her lap and they never got that one. The white folks lost it, but
the Yankees didn't get it. I have heard my mother tell all sorts of
things. But they just come to me at times. The soldiers would take
chickens or anything they could get their hands on--those soldiers

"My mother married the first time in slavery. Her first husband was sold
in slavery. That is the onliest brother I'm got living now out of
ten--that one that was settin' in her lap when the soldiers come
through. He's in Boydell, Arkansas now. It used to be called Morrell. It
is about one hundred twenty-one miles from here, because Dermott is one
hundred nine and Boydell is about twelve miles further on. It's in
Nashville[HW:?] County. My brother was a great big old baby in slavery
times. He was my mother's child by her first husband. All the rest of
them is dead and he is the onliest one that is living.

"I was a section foreman for the Missouri Pacific for twenty-two years.
I worked there altogether for thirty-five years, but I was section
foreman for twenty-two years. There's my card. Lots of men stayed on the
job till it wore them out. Lewis Holmes did that. It would take him two
hours to walk from here to his home--if he ever managed it at all.

"It's warm today and it will bring a lot of flies. Flies don't die in
the winter. Lots of folks think they do. They go up in cracks and little
places like that under the weatherboard there--any place where it is
warm--and there they huddle up and stay till it gets warm. Then they
come out and get something to eat and go back again when it cools off.
They live right on through the winter in their hiding places.

"Both of my parents said they always did their work whatever the task
might be. And my daddy said he never got no whipping at all. You know
they would put a task on you and if you didn't do it, you would get a
whipping. My daddy wouldn't stand to be whipped by a paterole, and he
didn't have to be whipped by nobody else, because he always did his

"He was one of the ones that the pateroles couldn't catch. When the
pateroles would be trying to break in some place where he was, and the
other niggers would be standing 'round frightened to death and wonderin'
what to do, he would be gettin' up a shovelful of ashes. When the door
would be opened and they would be rushin' in, he would scatter the ashes
in their faces and rush out. If he couldn't find no ashes, he would
always have a handful of pepper with him, and he would throw that in
their faces and beat it.

"He would fool dogs that my too. My daddy never did run away. He said he
didn't have no need to run away. They treated him all right. He did his
work. He would get through with everything and sometimes he would be
home before six o'clock. My mother said that lots of times she would
pick cotton and give it to the others that couldn't keep up so that they
wouldn't be punished. She had a brother they used to whip all the time
because he didn't keep up.

"My father told me that his old master told him he was free. He stayed
with his master till he retired and sold the place. He worked on shares
with him. His old master sold the place and went to Monticello and died.
He stayed with him about fifteen or sixteen years after he was freed,
stayed on that place till the Government donated him one hundred sixty
acres and charged him only a dollar and sixty cents for it. He built a
house on it and cleared it up. That's what my daddy did. Some folks
don't believe me when I tell 'em the Government gave him a hundred and
sixty acres of land and charged him only a dollar and sixty cents for
it--a penny a acre.

"I am retired now. Been retired since 1938. The Government took over the
railroad pension and it pays me now. That is under the Security Act.
Each and every man on the railroad pays in to the Government.

"I have been married right around thirty-nine years.

"I was born in Chicot County, Arkansas.[TR: sentence lined out.] My
father was born in Georgia and brought here by his master. He come here
in a old covered ox wagon. I don't know how they happened to decide to
come here. My mother was born in South Carolina. She met my father here
in Arkansas. They sold her husband and she was brought here. After peace
was declared she met my daddy. Her first husband was sold in South
Carolina and she never did know that became of him. They put him up on
the block and sold him and she never did know which way he went. He left
her with two boys right then. She had a sister that stayed in South
Carolina. Somebody bought her there and kept her and somebody bought my
mother and brought her here. My father's master was named McDermott. My
mother's last master was named Belcher or something like that.

"I don't belong to any church. I have always lived decent and kept out
of trouble."

Interviewer's Comment

When Morgan said "there is my record", he showed me a pass for the year
1938-39 for himself and his wife between all stations on the Missouri
Pacific lines signed by L.W. Baldwin, Chief Executive Officer.

He is a good man even if he is not a Christian as to church membership.

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person Interviewed: Olivia Morgan
                    Hazen, Ark.
Age: 62

"I am 62 years old. I was born in Lafayette County close to New
Lewisville. I heard mama say many a time she was named after her
state--North Carolina. Her name was Carolina Alexandria. They brought
her a slave girl to this new country. She and papa must of met up
toreckly after freedom. She had some children and I'm one of my papa's
oldest children.

"Papa come here long fore the war started. The old master in Atlanta,
Georgia--Abe Smith--give his son three boys and one girl. He emigrated
to Arkansas.

"Mama said her first husband and the young master went off and he never
come back as she knowed of. Young master played with mama's second girl
a whole heap. One day they was playing hiding round. Just as she come
running to the base from round the house, young master hit her on the
forehead with a rock. It killed her. Old master tried to school him but
he worried so they sent him off--thought it would do his health good to
travel. I don't think they ever come back.

"After freedom mama married and went over to papa's master's. Papa
stayed round there a long time. They got news some way they was to get
forty acres land and a mule to start out with but they said they never
got nothing.

"My papa said he knowed it to be a fact, the Ku Klux cut a colored
woman's breast off. I don't recollect why he said they got after her.
The Jayhawkers was bad too. They all went wild; some of em left men
hanging up in trees. They needed a good master to protect em worse after
the war than they needed em before. They said they had a Yankee
government then was reason of the Ku Klux. They run the Jayhawkers out
and made the Yankees go on home. Everybody had a hard time. Bread was
mighty scarce when I was a child. Times was hard. Men that had land had
to let it lay out. They had nothin' to feed the hands on, no money to
pay, no seed, no stock to work. The fences all went to rack and all the
houses nearly down. When I was a child they was havin' hard times.

"I'm a country woman. I farmed all my life. I been married two times; I
married Holmes, then Morgan. They dead. I washed, ironed, cooked, all at
Mr. Jim Buchannan's sawmill close to Lewisville two years and eight
months; then I went back to farmin' up at Pine Bluff. My oldest sister
washed and ironed for Mrs. Buchannan till she moved from the sawmill to
Texarkana. He lived right at the sawmill ground.

"My papa voted a Republican ticket. I don't vote. My husbands have voted
along. If the women would let the men have the business I think times
would be better. I don't believe in women voting. The men ought to make
the livings for the families, but the women doing too much. They
crowding the men out of work.

"Some folks is sorry in all colors. Seems like the young folks ain't got
no use for quiet country life. They buying too much. They say they have
to buy everything. I ain't had no depression yet. I been at work and we
had crop failures but I made it through. Some folks good and some ain't.
Times is bout to run away with some of the folks. They all say times is
better than they been since 1928. I hope times is on the mend."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Tom Morgan, Madison, Arkansas
Age: 71

"My mother was the mother of fourteen of us children. Their names was
Sarah and Richard Morgan.

"My great-grandfather b'long to Bill Woods. They had b'long to the
Morgans and when freedom come they changed their names back. Some of
them still owned by Morgans.

"Mother's owners was Auris and Lucella Harris. They had a boy named
Harley Harris and a girl. He had a small farm.

"Mother said her master wasn't bad, but my father said his owner was
tough on him--tough on all of them. They was all field hands. They had
to git up and be doing. He said they fed by torch morning and night and
rested in the heat of the day two or three hours. Feed the oxen and
mules. In them days stock and folks all et three times a day. I does
real well now to get two meals a day, sometimes but one. They done some
kind of work all the year 'round. He said they had tasks. They better
git the task done or they would get a beating.

"I haven't voted in so long a time. I voted Republican. I thought I did.

"I worked at the railroad till they put me off. They put me off on
disability. Trying to git my papers fixed up to work or get something
one. Back on the railroad job. I farmed when I was young."

El Dorado District
Name of Interviewer: Pernella Anderson
Subject: Slavery Days--Cruel Master Murdered by Slaves

This Information given by: Charity Morris
Place of Residence: Camden, Arkansas
Age: 90
[TR: Information moved from bottom of first page.]

Ah wuz born in Carolina uh slave an ah was de eldest daughtuh of
Christiana Webb whose owner wuz Master Louis Amos. Mah mammy had lots uv
chillun an she also mammied de white chillun, whut wuz lef' mammyless.
When ah wuz very small dey rented me out tuh some very po' white fokes.
Dey wuzn use tuh slaves so mah marster made him promise [HW: not] tuh
beat me or knock me bout. Dey promise dey wouldn. Dey cahried me home an
ah clare dey wuz so mean tuh me till ah run off an tried tuh fin' de way
back tuh mah marster. Night caught me in de woods. Ah sho' wuz skeered.
Ah wuz skeered uv bears an panthers so ah crawled up in a ole bandoned
crib an crouched down gainst de loft. Ah went off tuh sleep but wuz woke
by somethin scratchin on de wall below. Ah stayed close as ah could tuh
de wall an 'gin er prayin. Dat things scratched all night an ah prayed
all night. De nex' mawnin dese white fokes sent word tuh Marster dat ah
had lef' so Marster foun' me an took me home and let me stay dar too. Ah
didn' work in de fiel' ah worked in de house. We lived in uh log cabin.
Evah Sunda mawnin Marster Louis would have all us slaves tuh de house
while he would sing an pray an read de Bible tuh us all.

De people dat owned de plantation near us had lots of slaves. Dey owned
lots uv mah kin fokes. Dey marster would beat dem at night when dey come
fum de fiel' an lock em up. He'd whoop um an sen' um tuh de fiel'. Dey
couldn' visit no slaves an no slaves was 'lowed tuh visit em. So mah
cousin Sallie watched him hide de key so she moved dem a li'l further
back so dat he had tuh lean ovah tuh reach dem. Dat mawnin soon when he
come tuh let em out she cracked him in de haid wid de poker an made
little Joe help put his haid in de fiuh place. Dat day in de fiel'
Little Joe made er song; "If yo don' bleave Aunt Sallie kilt Marse Jim
de blood is on huh under dress". He jes hollered hit. "Aunt Sallie kilt
Marse Jim." Dey zamined Aunt Sallie's under dress so dey put huh in jail
till de baby come den dey tried huh an sentenced huh tuh be hung an she

Our Marster use tuh tell us if we left de house de patarollers would
catch us. One night de patarollers run mah two brothers home, Joe an

When de ole haid died out dey chillun got de property. Yo see we slaves
wuz de property. Den we got separated. Some sent one way an some nother.
Hit jes happent dat Marse Jim drawed me.

When de Wah broke out we could heah li'l things bein said. We couldn'
make out. So we begin tuh move erbout. Later we learnt we wuz runnin fum
de wah. In runnin we run intuh a bunch uv soldiers dat had got kilt. Oh
dat wuz terrible. Aftuh mah brudders foun out dat dey wuz fightin tuh
free us dey stole hosses an run erway tuh keep fum bein set free. Aftuh
we got tuh Morris Creek hit wuz bloody an dar wuz one uv de hosses
turnin roun an roun in de watuh wid his eyes shot out. We nevah saw
nuthin else uv Joe nor Henry nor de othuh horse from dat day tuh dis
one. But we went on an on till we come tuh a red house and dat red house
represented free. De white fokes wouldn go dat way cause dey hated tuh
give us up. Dey turnt an went de othuh way but hit wuz too late. De news
come dat Mr. Lincoln had signed de papuhs dat made us all free an dere
wuz some 'joicing ah tells yo. Ah wuz a grown woman at dat time. Ole
Moster Amos brought us on as fur as Fo'dyce an turnt us a loose. Dat's
wha' dey settled. Some uv de slaves stayed wid em an some went tuh othuh
places. Me an mah sistuh come tuh Camden an settled. Ah mahried George
Morris. We havn' seen our pa an ma since we wuz 'vided and since we wuz
chillun. When we got tuh Camden and settled down we went tuh work an
sont back tuh de ole country aftuh ma an pa. Enroute tuh dis country we
come through Tennessee an ah membuh comin through Memphis an Pine Bluff
to Fordyce.

As we wuz comin we stopped at de Mississippi Rivuh. Ah wuz standin on de
bank lookin at de great roll uv watuh high in de air. Somebody snatched
me back and de watuh took in de bank wha ah wuz standin. Yo cound'n
stand too close tuh de rivuh 'count uv de waves.

Der wuz a col' wintuh and at night we would gather roun a large camp
fire an play sich games as "Jack-in-de-bush cut him down" an "Ole gray
mule-out ride him." Yaul know dem games ah know. An in de summer times
at night we played _Julands_. On our way tuh Arkansas we drove ox-teams,
jinnie teams, donkey teams, mule teams an horse teams. We sho had a good

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Emma Morris, Forrest City, Arkansas
Age: 71

"My parents was Jane and Sam McCaslin. They come from close to Atlanta,
Georgia to Hernando, Mississippi after slavery. Ma was heired and they
bought pa before they left North Carolina. They bought pa out of a
nigger drove after he was grown. He raised tobacco and corn. Pa helped
farm and they raised hogs. He drove hogs to sell. He didn't say where
they took the hogs, only they would have to stay up all night driving
the hogs, and they rode horses and walked too and had shepherd dogs to
keep them in a drove.

"Pa was a Böwick (B(our)ick) but I never heard him say nothing bout
Master Bowick, so I don't know his other name. He said they got in a
tight [TR: missing word?] and had to sell some of the slaves and he
being young would bring more than one of the older men. He was real
black. Ma was lighter but not very light.

"McCaslin was a low heavy set man and he rented out hacks and horses in
Atlanta and pa drove, greased the harness and curried and sheared the
horses. Master McCaslin brought them in town and rented them out. He
didn't have a livery stable. He just furnished conveyances. I heard him
tell about a good hitching post where he could more than apt rent out
his rig and how he always stopped and fed the horses when eating time
come. He took a feed box all the time. Master McCaslin would tell him to
not drive too hard when he had to make long drives. He never would let
him take a whoop.

"He had some girls I heard him say. May and Alice was their names. He
didn't say much about the family. He took a basket of provision with him
to eat Miss May and Miss Alice fixed up. The basket was close wove and
had a lid. The old man farmed. He drove too. He drove a hack. Ma worked
in the field. I heard her tell about the cockleburs. Well, she said they
would stick on your dress and stick your legs and you would have to pick
them off and sometimes the beggar's-lice would be thick on their clothes
and they would pick them off.

"When they would clean out the fence corners (rail fence) they would
leave every little wild plum tree and leave a whole lot of briers so
they would have wild plums and berries. They raised cotton. Sometime
during the War old Master McCaslin took all his slaves and stock way
back in the bottoms. The cane was big as ma's wrist she said. They put
up some cabins to live in and shelter the stock. Pa said some of em went
in the army. He didn't want to go. They worked a corn crop over in

"They left soon as they was freed. I don't know how they found it out.
They walked to way over in Alabama and pa made terms with a man, to come
to Mississippi. Then they come in a wagon and walked too. She had three
little children. I was [HW: born] close to Montgomery, Alabama in
September but I don't know how long it was after the War. I was the
first girl. There was two more boys and three more girls after me. Ma
had children born in three states.

"Ma died with the typhoid fever. Then two sisters and a brother died. Pa
had it all summer and he got well. Miss (Mrs.) Betty Chamlin took us
children to a house and fed us away from ma and the sick girls and boy.
We was on her place. She had two families then. We got water from a
spring. It was a pretty spring under a big hill. We would wade where the
spring run off. She moved us out of that house.

"Miss Betty was a widow. She had several boys. They worked in the field
all the time. We stayed till the boys left and she sold her place. She
went back to her folks. I never did see her no more. We scattered out.
Pa lived about wid us till he died. I got three girls living. I got five
children dead. I got one girl out here from town and one girl at
Meridian and my oldest girl in Memphis. I takes it time around wid em.

"I seen the Ku Klux but they never bothered us. I seen them in Alabama,
I recken it was. I was so small I jes' do remember seeing them. I was
the onliest child born in Alabama. Pa made one crop. I don't know how
they got along the rest of the time there. We started share cropping in
Mississippi. Pa was always a good hand with stock. If they got sick they
sent for him to tell them what to do. He never owned no land, no home

"I farmed all my life. I used to make a little money along during the
year washing and ironing. I don't get no help. I live with the girls. My
girl in Memphis sends me a little change to buy my snuff and little
things I have to have. She cooks for a lawyer now. She did take care of
an lady. She died since I been here and she moved. I rather work in the
field than do what she done when that old lady lived. She was like a
baby to tend to. She had to stay in that house all the time.

"The young folks don't learn manners now like they used to. Times is
better than I ever seen em. Poor folks have a hard time any time. Some
folks got a lot and some ain't got nothing everywhere."

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Claiborne Moss
                    1812 Marshall Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: 81

"I was born in Washington County, Georgia, on Archie Duggins'
plantation, fifteen miles from Sandersville, the county-seat, June 18,

"My mother's name was Ellen Moss. She was born in Georgia too, in
Hancock County, near Sparta, the county-seat. My father was Fluellen
Moss. He, too, was born in Hancock County. Bill Moss was his owner.
Jesse Battle was my mother's owner before she married. My mother and
father had ten children, none of them living now but me, so far as I
know. I was the fifth in line. There were four older than I. The oldest
was ten years older than I.

"Bill Moss' and Jesse Battle's plantations ware not far apart. I never
heard my father say how he first met my mother. I was only eight years
old when he died. They were all right there in the same neighborhood,
and they would go visiting. Battle and Moss and Evans all had
plantations in the same neighborhood and they would go from one place to
the other.

"When Bill Moss went to Texas, he gave my mother and father to Mrs.
Beck. Mrs. Beck was Battle's daughter and Mrs. Beck bought my father
from Moss and that kept them together. He was that good. Moss sold out
and went to Texas and all his slaves went walking while he went on the
train. He had about a hundred of them. When he got there, he couldn't
hear from them. He didn't know where they was--they was walking and he
had got on the train--so he killed hisself. When they got there, just
walking along, they found him dead.

"Moss' nephew, Whaley, got two parts of all he had. Another fellow--I
can't call his name--got one part. His sister, they sent her back
five--three of my uncles and two of my aunties.

"Where I was raised, Duggins wasn't a mean man. His slaves didn't get
out to work till after sunup. His brother, who lived three miles out
from us, made his folks get up before sunup. But Duggins didn't do that.
He seemed to think something of his folks. Every Saturday, he'd give
lard, flour, hog meat, syrup. That was all he had to give. That was
extra. War was going on and he couldn't get nothing else. On Wednesday
night he'd give it to them again. Of course, they would get corn-meal
and other things from the kitchen. They didn't eat in the kitchen or any
place together. Everybody got what there was on the place and cooked it
in his cabin.

"Before I was born, Beck sold my mother and father to Duggins. I don't
know why he sold them. They had an auction block in the town, but out in
the country they didn't have no block. If I had seen a nigger and wanted
to buy him, I would just go up to the owner and do business with him.
That was the way it was with Beck and Duggins. Selling my mother and
father was just a private transaction between them.


"Twice a week, flour, syrup, meat, and lard were given to the slaves.
you got other food from the kitchen. Meat, vegetables, milk,--all the
milk you wanted--bread.

A Mean Owner

"Beck, Moss, Battle, and Duggins, they was all good people. But Kenyon
Morps, now talk about a mean man, there was one. He lived on a hill a
little off from the Duggins plantation. His women never give birth to
children in the house. He'd never let 'em quit work before the time. He
wanted them to work--work right up to the last minute. Children were all
born in the field and in fence corners. Then he had to let 'em stay in
about a week. Last I seen him, he didn't have nothin', and was ragged as
a jay bird.


"Our house was a log house. It had a large room, and then it had another
room as large as that one or larger built on to it. Both of these rooms
were for our use. My mother and father slept in the log cabin and the
kids slept back in the other room. My sister stayed with Joe Duggins.
Her missis was a school-teacher, and she loved sister. My master gave my
sister to Joe Duggins. Mrs. Duggins taught my sister, Fannie, to read
and spell but not to write. If there was a slave man that knowed how to
write, they used to cut off his thumb so that he couldn't write.

"There was some white people wouldn't have the darkies eating butter;
our white people let us have butter, biscuits, and ham every day. They
would put it up for me.

"I had more sense than any kid on the plantation. I would do anything
they wanted done no matter how hard it was. I walked five miles through
the woods once on an errand. The old lady who I went to said:

"'You walk way down here by yourself?'

"I told her, 'yes'.

"She said, 'Well, you ain't going back by yo'self because you're too
little,' and she sent her oldest son back with me. He was white.

"My boss was sick once, and he wanted to get his mail. The post office
was five miles away. He said to me:

"'Can't you get my mail if I let you ride on my horse?'

"I said, 'Yes sir.' I rode up to the platform on the horse. They run out
and took me off the horse and filled up the saddle bags. Then they put
me back on and told me not to get off until I reached my master. When I
got back, everybody was standing out watching for me. When my boss heard
me coming, he jumped out the bed and ran out and took me off the horse
and carried me and the sacks and all back into the house.


"I saw all of Wheeler's cavalry. Sherman come through first. He came and
stayed all night. Thousands and thousands of soldiers passed through
during the night. Cooper Cuck was with them. He was a fellow that used
to peddle around in all that country before the War. He went all through
the South and learned everything. Then he joined up with the Yankees. He
come there. Nobody seen him that night. He knowed everybody knowed him.
He went and hid under something somewhere. He was under the hill at
daybreak, but nobody seen him. When the last of the soldiers was going
out in the morning, one fellow lagged behind and rounded a corner. Then
he galloped a little ways and motioned with his arms. Cooper Cuck come
out from under the hill, and he and Cooper Cuck both came back and stole
everything that they could lay their hands on--all the gold and silver
that was in the house, and everything they could carry.

"Wheeler's cavalry was about three days behind Sherman. They caught up
with Sherman, but it would have been better if they hadn't, 'cause he
whipped 'em and drove 'em back and went right on. They didn't have much
fighting in my country. They had a little scrimmage once--thirty-six men
was all they was in it. One of the Yankees got lost from his company. He
come back and inquired the way to Louisville. The old boss pointed the
way with his left hand and while the fellow was looking that way, he
drug him off his horse and cut his throat and took his gun off'n him and
killed him.

"Sherman's men stayed one night and left. I mean, his officers stayed.
We had to feed them. They didn't pay nothing for what they was fed. The
other men cooked and ate their own grub. They took every horse and mule
we had. I was sitting beside my old missis. She said:

"'Please don't let 'em take all our horses.'

"The fellows she was talking to never looked around. He just said:
'Every damn horse goes.'

"The Yankees took my Uncle Ben with them when they left. He didn't stay
but a couple of days. They got in a fight. They give Uncle Ben five
horses, five sacks of silverware, and five saddles. The goods was taken
in the fight. Uncle Ben brought it back with him. The boss took all that
silver away from him. Uncle Ben didn't know what to do with it. The
Yankees had taken all my master's and he took Ben's. Ben give it to him.
He come back 'cause he wanted to.

"When Wheeler's cavalry came through they didn't take nothing--nothing
but what they et. I heard a fellow say, 'Have you got anything to eat?'

"My mother said, 'I ain't got nothin' but some chitlins.'

"He said, 'Gimme some of those; I love chitlins.' "Mother gave 'em to me
to carry to him. I didn't get half way to him before the rest of the men
grabbed me and took 'em away from me and et 'em up. The man that asked
for them didn't get a one.

Slave Money

"The slaves would sometimes have five or six dollars. Mostly, they would
make charcoal and sell it to get money.


"I seen patrollers. They come to our house. They didn't whip nobody. Our
folks didn't care nothin' about 'em. They come looking for keys and
whiskey. They couldn't whip nobody on my master's plantation. When they
would come there, he would be sitting up with 'em. He would sit there in
his back door and look at 'em. Wouldn't let 'em hit nobody.

"Them colored women had more fun that enough--laughing at them
patrollers. Fool 'em and then laugh at 'em. Make out like they was
trying to hide something and the patrollers would come running up, grab
'em and try to see what it was. And the women would laugh and show they
had nothing. Couldn't do nothin' about it. Never whipped anybody 'round
there. Couldn't whip nobody on our place; couldn't whip nobody on Jessie
Mills' place; couldn't whip nobody on Stephen Mills' place; couldn't
whip nobody on Betsy Geesley's place; couldn't whip nobody on Nancy
Mills' place; couldn't whip nobody on Potter Duggins' place. Potter
Duggins was a cousin to my master. Nobody run them peoples' plantations
but theirselves.

Social Life

"When slaves wanted to, they would have dances. They would have dances
from one plantation to the other. The master didn't object. They had
fiddles, banjo and quills. They made the quills and blowed 'em to beat
the band. Good music. They would make the quills out of reeds. Those
reeds would sound just like a piano. They didn't have no piano. They
didn't serve nothing. Nothing to eat and nothing to drink except them
that brought whiskey. The white folks made the whiskey, but the colored
folks would get it.

"We had church twice a month. The Union Church was three miles away from
us. My father and I would go when they had a meeting. Bethlehem Church
was five miles away. Everybody on the plantation belonged to that
church. Both the colored and the white belonged and went there. They had
the same pastor for Bethlehem, Union, and Dairy Ann. His name was Tom
Adams. He was a white man. Colored folks would go to Dairy Ann
sometimes. They would go to Union too.

"Sometimes they would have meetings from house to house, the colored
folks. The colored folks had those house to house meetings any time they
felt like it. The masters didn't care. They didn't care how much they

"Sometimes they had corn shuckings. That was where they did the serving,
and that was where they had the big eatings. They'd lay out a big pile
of corn. Everybody would get down and throw the corn out as they shucked
it. They would have a fellow there they would call the general. He would
walk from one person to another and from one end of the pile to the
other and holler and the boys would answer. His idea was to keep them
working. If they didn't do something to keep them working, they wouldn't
get that corn shucked that night. Them people would be shucking corn!
There would be a prize to the one who got the most done or who would be
the first to get done. They would sing while they were shucking. They
had one song they would sing when they were getting close to the finish.
Part of it went like this:

  'Red shirt, red shirt
  Nigger got a red shirt.'

After the shucking was over, they would have pies, beef, biscuits, corn
bread, whiskey if you wanted it. I believe that was the most they had.
They didn't have any ice-cream. They didn't use ice-cream much in those
days. Didn't have no ice down there in the country. Not a bit of ice
there. If they had anything they wanted to save, they would let it down
in the well with a rope and keep it cool down there. They used to do
that here until they stopped them from having the wells.

"Ring plays too. Sometimes when they wanted to amuse themselves, they
would play ring plays. They all take hands and form a ring and there
would be one in the center of the ring. Now he is got to get out. He
would come up and say, 'I am in this lady's garden, and I'll bet you
five dollars I can get out of here.' And d'reckly he would break
somebody's hands apart and get out.

How Freedom Came

"The old boss called 'em up to the house and told 'em, 'You are free as
I am.' That was one day in June. I went on in the house and got
something to eat. My mother and father, he hired them to stay and look
after the crop. Next year, my mother and father went to Ben Hook's place
and farmed on shares. But my father died there about May. Then it wasn't
nobody working but me and my sister and mother.

What the Slaves Got

"The slaves never got nothing. Alexander Stephens, the Vice-President of
the Confederacy, divided his plantation up and gave it to his darkies
when he died. I knew him and his brother too. Alexander[HW: *] never did
walk. He was deformed. Big headed rascal, but he had sense! His brother
was named Leonard[HW: *]. He was a lawyer. He really killed himself. He
was one of these die-hard Southerners. He did something and they
arrested him. It made him so mad. He'd bought him a horse. He got on
that horse and fell off and broke his neck. That was right after the
War. They kept garrisons in all the counties right after the War.

"I was in Hancock County when I knew Vice-President Stephens. I don't
know where he was born but he had a plantation in Toliver [HW:
Taliaferro] County. Most of the Stephenses was lawyers. He was a lawyer
too, and he would come to Sparta. That is where I was living then. There
was more politics and political doings in Sparta than there was in
Crawfordville where he lived. He lived between Montgomery and Richmond
during the War, for the capital of the Confederacy was at Montgomery one
time and Richmond another.

"After the War, the Republicans nominated Alexander Stephens for
governor. The Democrats knew they couldn't beat him, so they turned
'round and nominated him too. He had a lot of sense. He said, 'What we
lost on the battle-field, we will get it back at the ballot box.' Seeb
Reese, United States Senator from Hancock County, said, 'If you let the
nigger have four or five dollars in his pocket he never will steal.'

Life Since Freedom

"After my father died, my mother stayed where she was till Christmas.
Then she moved back to the place she came from. We went to farming. My
brother and my uncle went and farmed up in Hancock County; so the next
year we moved up there. We stayed there and farmed for a long while. My
mother married three years afterwards. We still farmed. After awhile, I
got to be sixteen years old and I wouldn't work with my stepfather, I
told my mother to hire me out; if she didn't I would be gone. She hired
me out all right. But the old man used all my money. The next year I
made it plain to her that I wanted her to hire me out again but that
nobody was to use a dollar of my money. My mother could get as much of
it as she wanted but he couldn't. The first year I bought a buggy for
them. The old man didn't want me to use it at all. I said, 'Well then,
he can't use my money no more.' But I didn't stop helping him and giving
him things. I would buy beef and give it to my mother. I knew they would
all eat it. He asked me for some wheat. I wouldn't steal it like he
wanted me to but I asked the man I was working for for it. He said,
'Take just as much as you want.' So I let him come up and get it. He
would carry it to the mill.

Ku Klux Klan

"The Ku Klux got after Uncle Will once. He was a brave man. He had a
little mare that was a race horse. Will rode right through the bunch
before they ever realized that it was him. He got on the other side of
them. She was gone! They kept on after him. They went down to his house
one night. He wouldn't run for nothing. He shot two of them and they
went away. Then he was out of ammunition. People urged him to leave, for
they knew he didn't have no more bullets; but he wouldn't and they came
back and killed him.

"They came down to Hancock County one night and the boys hid on both
sides of the bridge. When they got in the middle of the bridge, the boys
commenced to fire on them from both sides, and they jumped into the
river. The darkies went on home when they got through shooting at them;
but there wasn't no more Ku Klux in Hancock County. The better thinking
white folks got together and stopped it.

"The Ku Klux kept the niggers scared. They cowed them down so that they
wouldn't go to the polls. I stood there one night when they were
counting ballots. I belonged to the County Central Committee. I went in
and stood and looked. Our ballot was long; theirs was short. I stood and
seen Clait Turner calling their names from our ballots. I went out and
got Rube Turner and then we both went back. They couldn't call the votes
that they had put down they had. Rube saw it.

"Then they said, 'Are you going to test this?'

"Rube said, 'Yes.' But he didn't because it would have cost too much
money. Rube was chairman of the committee.

"The Ku Klux did a whole lot to keep the niggers away from the polls in
Washington and Baldwin counties. They killed a many a nigger down there.

"They hanged a Ku Klux for killing his wife and he said he didn't mind
being hung but he didn't want a damn nigger to see him die.

"But they couldn't keep the niggers in Hancock County away from the
polls. There was too many of them.

Work in Little Rock

"I came to Little Rock, November 1, 1903. I came here with surveyors.
They wanted to send me to Miami but I wouldn't go. Then I went to the
mortar box and made mortar. Then I went to the school board. After that
I ain't had no job. I was too old. I get a little help from the

Opinions of the Present

"I think that the young folks ought to make great men and women. But I
don't see that they are making that stride. Most of them is dropping
below the mark. I think we ought to have some powerful men and women but
what I see they don't stand up like they should.

Own Family

"I have three daughters, no sons. These three daughters have twelve

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Frozie Moss (dark mulatto), Brinkley, Arkansas
Age: 69

"When my grandma whut raised me got free she and grandpa come to Memphis
and didn't stay there long till they went to Crittenden County on a
man's farm. My grandma was born in Alabama and my grandpa in Virginia. I
know he wasn't in the Nat Turner rebellion, for my mother had nine
children and all but me at Holly Grove, Mississippi. I was born up in
Crittenden County. She died. I remember very little about my father. I
jes' remember father a little. He died too. My grand parents lived at
Holly Grove all during the war. They used to talk about how they did.
She said hardest time she ever lived through was at Memphis. Nothing to
do, nothing to eat and no places to stay. I don't know why they left and
come on to Memphis. She said her master's name was Pig'ge. He wasn't
married. He and his sisters lived together. My grandmother was a slave
thirty years. She was a field hand. She said she would be right back in
the field when her baby was two weeks old. They didn't wont the slaves
to die, they cost too much money, but they give them mighty hard work to
do sometimes. Grandma and grandpa was heap stronger I am at my age. They
didn't know how old they was. Her master told her how long he had her
when they left him and his father owned her before he died. I think they
had a heap easier time after they come to Arkansas from what she said. I
can't answer yo questions because I'm just tellin' you what I remembers
and I was little when they used to talk so much.

"If the young generation would save anything for the time when they
can't work I think they would be all right. I don't hear about them
saving. They buys too much. That their only trouble. They don't know how
to see ahead.

"I owns this house is all. I been sick a whole heap, spent a lot on my
medicines and doctor bill. I worked on the farm till after I come to
Brinkley. We bought this place here and I cooks. I cooked for Miss Molly
Brinkkell, Mr. Adams and Mrs. Fowler. I washes and irons some when I can
get it. Washing and ironing 'bout gone out of fashion now. I don't get
no moneys. I get commodities from the Sociable Welfare. My son works and
they don't give me no money."

Interviewer: Thomas Elmore Lucy
Person interviewed: Mose Moss, Russellville, Arkansas
Age: 65

"Mose Moss is my name, suh, and I was born in 1875 in Yell County. My
father was born in old Virginny in 1831 and died in Yell County,
Arkansas, eight miles from Dardanelle, in 1916. Yes suh, I've lived in
Pope County a good many years. I recollects some things pretty well and
some not so good.

"Yes suh, my father used to talk a heap about the Ku Klux Klan, and a
lot of the Negroes were afraid of em and would run when they heard they
was comin' around.

"My father's name was Henry Moss. He run away from the plantation in
Virginia before the War had been goin' on very long, and he j'ined the
army in Tennessee--yes suh, the Confedrit army. Ho suh, his name was
never found on the records, so didn't never draw no pension.

"After he was freed he always voted the Republican ticket till he died.

"After the War he served as Justice of the Peace in his township in Yell
County. Yes suh, that was the time they called the Re-con-struc-tion.

"I vote the Republican ticket, but sometimes I don't vote at the reg'lar
elections. No, I've never had any trouble with my votin'.

"I works at first one thing and another but ain't doin' much now. Work
is hard to get. Used to work mostly at the mines. Not able to do much of
late years.

"Oh, yes, I remember some of the old songs they used to sing when my
parents was living: 'Old-Time Religion' was one of em, and 'Swing Low,
Sweet Chariot' was another one we liked to sing."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: S.O. Mullins, Clarendon, Arkansas
                    Janitor for Masonic Hall
                    He wears a Masonic ring
Age: 80

"My master was B.F. Wallace--Benjamin Franklin Wallace and Katie
Wallace. They had no children to my recollection.

"I was born at Brittville, Alabama. My parents' names was George W.
Mullins and Millie. They had, to my recollection, one girl and three
boys. Mr. Wallace moved to Arkansas before the Civil War. They moved to
Phillips County. My mother and father both farm hands and when my
grandmother was no longer able to do the cookin' my mother took her
place. I was rally too little to recollect but they always praised
Wallace. They said he never whipped one of his slaves in his life. His
slaves was about free before freedom was declared. They said he was a
good man. Well when freedom was declared all the white folks knowed it
first. He come down to the cabins and told us. He said you can stay and
finish the crops. I will feed and clothe you and give you men $10 and
you women $5 apiece Christmas. That was more money then than it is now.
We all stayed on and worked on shares the next year. We stayed around
Poplar Grove till he died. When I was nineteen I got a job, porter on
the railroad. I brought my mother to Clarendon to live with me. I was in
the railroad service at least fifteen years. I was on the passenger
train. Then I went to a sawmill here and then I farmed, I been doing
every little thing I find to do since I been old. All I owns is a little
house and six lots in the new addition. I live with my wife. She is my
second wife. Cause I am old they wouldn't let me work on the levy. If I
been young I could have got work. My age knocks me out of 'bout all the
jobs. Some of it I could do. I sure don't get no old age pension. I gets
$4 every two months janitor of the Masonic Hall.

"I have a garden. No place for hog nor cow.

"My boys in Chicago. They need 'bout all they can get. They don't help.

"The present conditions seem good. They can get cotton to pick and two
sawmills run in the winter (100 men each) where folks can get work if
they hire them. The stay (stave) mill is shut down and so is the button
factory. That cuts out a lot of work here. The present generation is
beyond me. Seems like they are gone hog wild."

Interviewer's Note

The next afternoon he met me and told me the following story:----

"One night the servants quarters was overflowin' wid Yankee soldiers. I
was scared nearly to death. My mother left me and my little brother
cause she didn't wanter sleep in the house where the soldiers was. We
slept on the floor and they used our beds. They left next mornin'. They
camped in our yard under the trees. Next morning they was ridin' out
when old mistress saw 'em. She said they'd get it pretty soon. When they
crossed the creek--Big Creek--half mile from our cabins I heard the guns
turn in on 'em. The neighbors all fell out wid my master. They say he
orter go fight too. He was sick all time. Course he wasn't sick. They
come and took off 25 mules and all the chickens and he never got up.
They took two fine carriage horses weighed 2,000 pounds apiece I speck.
One named Lee and one Stone Wall. He never went out there. He claimed he
was sick all time. One of the carriage horses was a fine big white horse
and had a bay match. Folks didn't like him--said he was a coward. When I
went over cross the creek after the fightin' was over, men just lay like
dis[A] piled on top each other." [A: [Illustration] He used his fingers
to show me how the soldiers were crossed.]

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Alex Murdock, Edmondson, Arkansas
Age: 65

"My owner or least my folks was owned by Dr. [HW: 'Murder'] (Murdock).
He had a big farm. He was a widower. He had no children as ever I knowed
of. Dr. 'Murder' raised my father's mother. He bought her at Tupelo,
Mississippi. He raised mother too. She was bright color. I'm sure they
stayed on after freedom 'cause I stayed there till we come to Arkansas.
Father was a teamster. He followed that till he died. He owned a dray
and died at Brinkley. He was well-known and honorable.

"I worked in the oil mill at Brinkley-American Oil Company.

"Mother was learned durin' slavery but I couldn't say who done it. She
taught school 'round Buena Vista and Okolona, Mississippi. She learned
me. I was born 1874--November 25, 1874. I heard her say she worked in
the field one year. They give her some land and ploughed it so she could
have a patch. It was all she could work. I don't know how much. It was
her patch. Our depot was Prairie Station, Mississippi. My parents was
Monroe [HW: 'Murder'] Murdock[TR: lined out] and Lucy Ann Murdock[TR:
lined out] [HW: Murder]. It is spelled M-u-r-d-o-c-k.

"I farmed all my whole life. Oil milling was the surest, quickest living
but I likes farmin' all right.

"I never contacted the Ku Kluxes. They was 'bout gone when I come on.

"I voted off an' on. This is the white folks' country and they going to
run their gov'mint. The thing balls us up is, some tells us one way and
some more tells us a different way to do. And we don't know the best
way. That balls us up. Times is better than ever I seen them, for the
man that wants to work.

"I get $8 a month. I work all I can."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Bessie Myers, Brassfield, Arkansas
Age: 50? didn't know

"My mother was named Jennie Bell. She was born in North Ca'lina
(Carolina). She worked about the house. She said there was others at the
house working all the time with her.

"She said they daresn't to cross the fence on other folks' land or go
off up the road 'lessen you had a writing to show. One woman could
write. She got a pass and this woman made some more. She said couldn't
find nothing to make passes on. It happened they never got caught up.
That woman didn't live very close by. She talked like she was free but
was one time a slave her own self.

"Mother said she would run hide every time the Yankee men come. She said
she felt safer in the dark. They took so many young women to wait on
them and mother was afraid every time they would take her.

"She said she had been at the end of a corn row at daylight ready to
start chopping it over, or pull fodder, or pull ears either. She said
they thought to lie in bed late made you weak. Said the early fresh air
what made children strong.

"On wash days they all met at a lake and washed. They had good times
then. They put the clothes about on the bushes and briers and rail
fences. Some one or two had to stay about to keep the clothes from a
stray hog or goat till they dried. And they would forage about in the
woods. It was cool and pleasant. They had to gather up the clothes in
hamper baskets and bring them up to iron. Mother said they didn't mind
work much. They got used to it.

"Mother told about men carried money in sacks. When they bought a slave,
they open up a sack and pull out gold and silver.

"The way she talked she didn't mind slavery much. Papa lived till a few
years ago but he never would talk about slavery at all. His name was
Willis Bell."

Interviewer: Miss Sallie C. Miller
Person interviewed: Mary Myhand, Clarksville, Arkansas
Age: 85

"My mammie died when I was a little girl She had three children and our
white folks took us in their house and raised us. Two of us had fever
and would have died if they hadn't got us a good doctor. The doctor they
had first was a quack and we were getting worse until they called the
other doctor, then we commence to get well. I don't know how old I am.
Our birthdays was down in the mistress' Bible and when the old war come
up, the house was burned and lost everything but I know I am at least 83
or 84 years old. Our white folks was so good to us. They never whipped
us, and we eat what they eat and when they eat. I was born in White
County, Tennessee and moved to Missouri but the folks did not like it
there so we come to Benton County, Arkansas. One side of the road was
Benton County and the other side was Washington County but we always had
to go to Bentonville, the county seat, to tend to business. I was a
little tod of a girl when the war come up. One day word come that the
'Feds' were coming through and kill all of the old men and take all the
boys with them, so master took my brother and a grandson of his and
started South. I was so scared. I followed them about a half mile before
they found me and I begged so hard they took me with them. We went to
Texas and was there about one year when the Feds gave the women on our
place orders to leave their home. Said they owned it now. They had just
got to Texas where we was when the South surrendered and we all come
back home.

"We stayed with our white folks for about twenty years after the war.
They shore was good to me. I worked for them in the house but never
worked in the field. I came across the mountain to Clarksville with a
Methodist preacher and his family and married here. My husband worked in
a livery stable until he died, then I worked for the white folks until I
fell and hurt my knee and got too old. I draws my old age pension.

"I do not know about the young generation. I am old and crippled and
don't go out none."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Griffin Myrax
                    913 Missouri Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age 77?

"I don't know my age exactly. You know in them days people didn't take
care of their ages like they do now. I couldn't give you any trace of
the war, but I do remember when the Ku Klux was runnin' around.

"Oh Lord, so much of the time I heard my mother talk about the slavery.
I was born in Oklahoma and my grandfather was a full-blooded Crete
Indian. He was very much of a man and lived to be one hundred thirty
years old. All Crete Indians named after some herb--that's what the name
Myrax means.

"I heard my mother say that in slavery times the man worked all day with
weights on their feet so when night come they take them off and their
feet feel so light they could outran the Ku Klux. Now I heard her tell

"My parents moved from Oklahoma to Texas and I went to school in
Marshall, Texas. All my schoolin' was in Texas--my people was tied up
there. My last schoolin' was in Buchanan, Texas. The professor told my
mother she would have to take me out of school for awhile, I studied too
hard. I treasured my books. When other children was out playin' I was

"There was some folks in that country that didn't get along so well. I
remember there was a blind woman that the folks sent something to eat by
another colored woman. But she eat it up and cooked a toadfrog for the
old blind woman. That didn't occur on our place but in the neighborhood.
When the people found it out they whipped her sufficient.

"When my grandfather died he didn't have a decayed tooth in his head.
They was worn off like a horse's teeth but he had all of them.

"I always followed sawmill work and after I left that I followed
railroading. I liked railroading. I more or less kept that in my view.

"About this slavery--I couldn't hardly pass my sentiments on it. The
world is so far gone, it would be the hardest thing to put the bridle on
some of the people that's runnin' wild now."

Name of Interviewer: Irene Robertson
Subject: Ex-slaves--Dreams--Herbs: Cures and Remedies

This information given by: Tom Wylie Neal
Place of Residence: Hazen, Arkansas--Near Green Grove
Occupation: Farmer--Feeds cattle in the winter for a man in Hazen.
Age: 85
[TR: Information moved from bottom of first page.]

His father and mother belonged to Tom Neal at Calhoun, Georgia. He
remembers the big battle at Atlanta Ga. He was eight years old. He saw
the lights, [saw the bullets in the air at night] and heard the boom,
boom of guns and cannons. They passed along with loaded wagons and in
uniforms. The horses were beautiful, and he saw lots of fine saddles and
bridles. His mistress' name was Mrs. Tom Neal. She had the property and
married Tom Neal. She had been married before and her first husband died
but her first husband's name can't be recalled. She had two
children--girls--by her first husband. Her second husband just married
her to protect them all he could. He didn't do anything unless the old
mistress told him to do it and how to do it. Wylie Neal was raised up
with the old mistress' children. He was born a slave and lived to
thirteen years. "The family had some better to eat and lots more to
wear, but they gave me plenty and never did mistreat me. They had a
peafowl. That was good luck, to keep some of them about on the place."
They had guineas, chickens and turkeys. They never had a farm bell. He
never saw one till he came to Arkansas. They blew a big "Conch shell"
instead. Mistress had cows and she would pour milk or pot-liquor out in
a big pewter bowl on a stump and the children would come up there from
the cabins and eat [till the field hands had time to cook a meal.][HW:?]
Wylie's mother was a field hand. They drank out of tin cans and gourds.
The master mated his hands. Some times he would ask his young man or
woman if they knew anybody they would like to marry that he was going to
buy more help and if they knew anybody he would buy them if he could.
The way they met folks they would get asked to corn shuckings and log
rollings and Mrs. Neal always took some of her colored people to church
to attend to the stock, tie the horses and hitch up, maybe feed and to
nurse her little girls at church. The colored folks sat on the back
seats over in a corner together. If they didn't behave or talked out
they got a whipping or didn't go no more. "They kept the colored people
scared to be bad."

The colored folks believed in hoodoo and witches. Heard them talking
lots about witches. They said if they found anybody was a witch they
would kill them. Witches took on other forms and went out to do meaness.
They said sometimes some of them got through latch holes. They used
buttons and door knobs whittled out of wood, and door latches with

People married early in "Them days"--when Mistress' oldest girl married
she gave her Sumanthy, Wylie's oldest sister when they come home [they
would let her come.] They sent their children to school some but the
colored folks didn't go because it was "pay school." Every year they had
"pertracted meeting." Looked like a thousand people come and stayed two
or three weeks along in August, in tents. "We had a big time then and
some times we'd see a colored girl we'd ask the master to buy. They'd
preach to the colored folks some days. Tell them the law. How to behave
and serve the Lord." When Wylie was twelve years old the "Yanks" came
and tore up the farm. "It was just like these cyclones that is [TR:
illegible word] around here in Arkansas, exactly like that."

His mistress left and he never saw her again. General [HW: John Bell]
Hood was the [TR: illegible word] he thinks, but he was given to Captain
Condennens to wait on him. They went to Marietta, Ga., and Kingston, Ga.
"Rumors came about that we were free and everybody was drifting around.
The U.S. Government gave us food then like they do now and we hunted
work. Everybody nearly froze and starved. We wore old uniforms and slept
anywhere we could find, an old house or piece of a house. In
1865-1869--the Ku Klux was miserable on the colored folks. Lots of folks
died out of consumption in the spring and pneumonia all winter.

"There wasn't any doctors seeing after colored folks for they had no
money and they used herbs--only medicine they could get."

Only herbs he remembers he used is: chew black snake roots to settle
sick stomach. Flux weed tea for disordered stomach. People eat so much
"messed up food" lot of them got sick.

Wylie Neal wandered about and finally came to Chattanooga. They got old
uniforms and victuals from the "Yanks" about a year.

Colonel Stocker come and got up a lot of hands and paid their way to
Memphis on the train. From there they were put on the _Molly Hamilton_
boat and went to Linden, Arkansas, on the St. Francis River. "He fared
fine" there. In 1906[TR: ?] he came to Hazen and since then he has owned
small farms at Biscoe and forty acres near Hazen. It was joining the old
Joe Perry place. Dr. ---- got a mortgage on it and took it. Wylie Neal
lives with his niece and she is old too so they get relief and a

"He don't believe in dreams but some dreams like when you dream of the
dead there's sho' goner be falling weather." He "don't dream much" he

He has a birthmark on his leg. It looks like a bunch of berries. He
never heard what caused it. It has always been there.

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Sally Nealy
                    105 Mulberry Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 91

"Yes mam, I was a slave! I was sixteen years old when the war begun. I
was born in Texas.

"My old master was John Hall and my young master was Marse Dick. Marse
John went to war the 5th day of May in 1861 and he was killed in June.
They wasn't nothin' left to bring home but his right leg and his left
arm. They knowed it was him cause his name was tattooed on his leg.

"He was a mean rascal. He brought us up from the plantation and pat us
on the head and give us a little whisky and say 'Your name is Sally or
Mary or Mose' just like we was dogs.

"My old mistress, Miss Caroline, was a mean one too. She was the mother
of eight children--five girls and three boys. When she combed her hair
down low on her neck she was all right but when she come down with it
done up on the top of her head--look out.

"It was my job to scrub the big cedar churns with brick dust and Irish
potato and polish the knives and forks the same way. Then every other
day I had to mold twelve dozen candles and sweep the yard with a dogwood
bresh broom.

"She didn't give us no biscuits or sugar 'cept on Christmas. Jest shorts
and molasses for our coffee. When the Yankee soldiers come through old
mistress run and hide in the cellar but the Yankees went down in the
collar too and took all the hams and honey and brandied peaches she had.

"They didn't have no doctors for the niggers then. Old mistress just
give us some blue mass and castor oil and they didn't give you nothin'
to take the taste out your mouth either.

"Oh lord, I know 'bout them Ku Klux. They wore false faces and went
around whippin' people.

"After the surrender I went to stay with Miss Fulton. She was good to me
and I stayed with her eleven years. She wanted to know how old I was so
my father went to Miss Caroline and she say I 'bout twenty now.

"Some white folks was good to their slaves. I know one man, Alec Yates,
when he killed hogs he give the niggers five of 'em. Course he took the
best but that was all right.

"After freedom the Yankees come and took the colored folks away to the
marshal's yard and kept them till they got jobs for 'em. They went to
the white folks houses and took things to feed the niggers.

"I ain't been married but once. I thought I was in love but I wasn't.
Love is a itchin' 'round the heart you can't get at to scratch.

"I 'member one song they sung durin' the war

  'The Yankees are comin' through
  By fall sez I
  We'll all drink stone blind
  Johnny fill up the bowl.'"

Name of interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Subject: Songs of Civil War Days

This information given by: Sally Neeley
Place of residence: 105 N. Mulberry, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Occupation: None
Age: 90
[TR: Information moved from bottom of first page.]
[TR: Same as previous informant (Sally Nealy).]

  "In eighteen hundred and sixty-one
  Football (?) sez I;
  In eighteen hundred and sixty-one
  That's the year the war begun
  We'll all drink stone blind,
  Johnny, come fill up the bowl.

  "In eighteen hundred and sixty-two
  Football (?) sez I;
  In eighteen hundred and sixty-two
  That's the year we put 'em through
  We'll all drink stone blind,
  Johnny, come fill up the bowl.

  "In eighteen hundred and sixty-three
  Football (?) sez I;
  In eighteen hundred and sixty-three
  That's the year we didn't agree
  We'll all drink stone blind.
  Johnny, come fill up the bowl.

  "In eighteen hundred and sixty-four
  Football (?) sez I;
  In eighteen hundred and sixty-four
  We'll all go home and fight no more
  We'll all drink stone blind.
  Johnny, come fill up the bowl.

  "In eighteen hundred and sixty-five
  Football (?) sez I;
  In eighteen hundred and sixty-five
  We'll have the Rebels dead or alive
  We'll all drink stone blind,
  Johnny, come fill up the bowl.

  "In eighteen hundred and sixty-six
  Football (?) sez I;
  In eighteen hundred and sixty-six
  We'll have the Rebels in a helava fix
  We'll all drink stone blind,
  Johnny, come fill up the bowl.

  "In eighteen hundred and sixty-seven
  Football (?) sez I;
  In eighteen hundred and sixty-seven
  We'll have the Rebels dead and at the devil
  We'll all drink stone blind.
  Johnny, came fill up the bowl."

Interviewer's Comment

The word "football" doesn't sound right in this song, but I was unable
to find it in print, and Sally seemed to think it was the right word.

Sally is a very wicked old woman and swears like a sailor, but she has a
remarkable memory.

She was "bred and born" in Rusk County, Texas and says she came to Pine
Bluff when it was "just a little pig."

Says she was sixteen when the Civil War began.

I have previously reported an interview with her.

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Wylie Nealy [HW: Biscoe Arkansas?]
Age: 85

I was born in 1852. I am 85 years old. I was born in Gordon County. The
closest town was Calhoun, South Carolina. My sister died in '59. That's
the first dead, person I ever saw. One of my sisters was give away and
another one was sold before the Civil War started. Sister Mariah was
give to the young mistress, Miss Ella Conley. I didn't see her sold. I
never seed nobody sold but I heard 'em talking about it. I had five
sisters and one brother. My father was a free man always. He was a
Choctaw Indian. Mother was part Cherokee Indian. My mother's mistress
was Mrs. Martha Christian. He died and she married Tom Nealy, the one
they call me fur, Wylie Nealy.

Liberty and Freedom was all I ever heard any colored folks say dey
expected to get out of de war, and mighty proud of dot. Nobody knowed
they was goin to have a war till it was done broke out and they was
fightin about it. Didn't nobody want land, they jess wanted freedom. I
remembers when Lincoln was made the President both times and when he was
killed. I recollects all that like yesterday.

The army had been through and swept out everything. There wasn't a
chicken or hog nowhere to be had, took the stock and cattle and all the
provisions. So de slaves jess had to scatter out and leave right now.
And after de army come through. I was goin back down to the old place
and some soldiers passed riding along and one said "Boy where you goin?
Said nothing up there." I says, "I knows it." Then he say "Come on here,
walk along back there" and I followed him. I was twelve years old. He
was Captain McClendenny. Then when I got to the camp wid him he say "You
help around here." I got sick and they let me go back home then to
Resacca, Georgia and my mother died. When I went back they sent me to
Chattanooga with Captain Story. I was in a colored regiment nine months,
I saw my father several times while I was at Chattanooga. We was in
Shermans army till it went past Atlanta. They burned up the city. Two of
my masters come out of the war alive and two dead. I was mustered out in
August 1865. I stayed in camp till my sisters found a cabin to move in.
Everybody got rations issued out. It was a hard time. I got hungry lots
times. No plantations was divided and the masters didn't have no more
than the slaves had when the war was done. After the Yankees come in and
ripped them up old missus left and Mr. Tom Nealy was a Home Guard. He
had a class of old men. Never went back or seen any more of them.
Everybody left and a heap of the colored folks went where rations could
be issued to them and some followed on in the armies. After I was
mustered out I stayed around the camps and went to my sister's cabin
till we left there. Made anything we could pick up. Men come in there
getting people to go work for them. Some folks went to Chicago. A heap
of the slaves went to the northern cities. Colonel Stocker, a officer in
the Yankee army, got us to come to a farm in Arkansas. We wanted to stay
together is why we all went on the farm. May 1866, when we come to
Arkansas is the first farmin I had seen done since I left Tom Nealy's
place. Colonel Stocker is mighty well known in St. Francis County. He
brought lots of families, brought me and my brother, my two brothers and
a nephew. We come on the train. It took four or five days. When we got
to Memphis we come to Linden on a boat "Molly Hamilton" they called it.
I heard it was sunk at Madison long time after that. Colonel Stocker
promised to pay $6 a month and feed us. When Christmas come he said all
I was due was $12.45. We made a good crop. That wasn't it. Been there
since May. Had to stay till got all the train and boat fare paid. There
wasn't no difference in that and slavery 'cept they couldn't sell us.

I heard a heap about the Ku Klux but I nebber seed them. Everybody was
scared of them.

The first votin I ever heard of was in Grant's election. Both black and
white voted. I voted Republican for Grant. Lot of the southern soldiers
was franchised and couldn't vote. Just the private soldiers could vote
at tall. I don't know why it was. I was a slave for thirteen years from
birth. Every slave could vote after freedom. Some colored folks held
office. I knew several magistrates and sheriffs. There was one at Helena
(Arkansas) and one at Marianna. He was a High Sheriff. I voted some
after that but I never voted in the last Presidento election. I heard
'em say it wasn't no use, this man would be elected anyhow. I sorter
quit off long time ago.

In 1874 and 1875 I worked for halves and made nough to buy a farm in St.
Francis County. It cost $925. I bought it in 1887. Eighty acres to be
cleared down in the bottoms. My family helped and when my help got
shallow, the children leaving me, I sold it for $2,000, in 1904. I was
married jess once and had eight children; five livin and three dead. Me
and the old woman went to Oklahoma. We went in January and come back to
Biscoe (Arkansas) in September. It wasn't no place for farming. I bought
40 acres from Mr. Aydelott and paid him $500. I sold it and come to Mr.
Joe Perry's place, paid $500 for 40 acres of timber land. We cleared it
and I got way in debt and lost it. Clear lost it! Ize been working
anywhere I could make a little since then. My wife died and I been doing
little jobs and stays about with my children. The Welfare gives me a
little check and some supplies now and then.

No maam, I can't read much. I was not learnt. I could figure a little
before my eyes got bad. The white folks did send their children to pay
schools but we colored children had to stay around the house and about
in the field to work. I never got no schoolin. I went with old missus to
camp meeting down in Georgia one time and got to go to white church
sometimes. At the camp meeting there was a big tent and all around it
there was brush harbors and tents where people stayed to attend the
meetins. They had four meetins a day. Lots of folk got converted and
shouted. They had a lot of singings They had a lots to eat and a big

I don't think much about these young folks now. It seems lack everybody
is having a hard time to live among us colored folks. Some white folks
has got a heap and fine cars to get about in. I don't know what go in to
become of 'em.

People did sing more than I hear them now but I never could sing. They
sing a lot of foolish songs and mostly religious songs.

I don't recollect of any slave uprising. I never heard of any. We didn't
know they was going to have a war till they was fighting. Yes maam, they
heard Lincoln was going to set 'em free, but they didn't know how he was
going to do it. Everybody wanted freedom. Mr. Hammond (white) ask me not
long ago if I didn't think it best to bring us from Africa and be slaves
than like wild animals in Africa. He said we was taught about God and
the Gospel over here if we was slaves. I told him I thought dot freedom
was de best anywhere.

We had a pretty hard time before freedom. My mother was a field woman.
When they didn't need her to work they hired her out and they got the
pay. The master mated the colored people. I got fed from the white folks
table whenever I curried the horses. I was sorter raised up with Mr.
Nealy's children. They didn't mistreat me. On Saturday the mistress
would blow a cone shell and they knowed to go and get the rations. We
got plenty to eat. They had chickens and ducks and geese and plenty
milk. They did have hogs. They had seven or eight guineas and a lot of
peafowls. I never heard a farm bell till I come to Arkansas. The
children et from pewter bowls or earthen ware. Sometimes they et greens
or milk from the same bowl, all jess dip in. The Yankees took me to
General Hood's army and I was Captain McCondennen's helper at the
camps.[HW: ?] We went down through Marietta and Atlanta and through
Kingston. Shells come over where we lived. I saw 'em fight all the time.
Saw the light and heard the roaring of de guns miles away. It looked
like a storm where the army went along. They tramped the wheat and oats
and cotton down and turned the horses in on the corn. The slaves show
did hate to see the Yankees waste everything. They promised a lot and
wasn't as good as the old masters. All dey wanted was to be waited on
too. The colored folks was freed when the Yankees took all the stock and
cattle and rations. Everybody had to leave and let the government issue
them rations. Everybody was proud to be free. They shouted and sung.
They all did pretty well till the war was about to end then they was
told to scatter and no whars to go. Cabins all tore down or burned. No
work to do. There was no money to pay. I wore old uniforms pretty well
till I come to Arkansas. I been here in Hazen since 1906. I come on a
boat from Memphis to Linden. Colonel Stocker brought a lot of us on the
train. The name of the boat was Molly Hamilton. It was a big boat and we
about filled it. I show was glad to get back on a farm.

I don't know what is goin to become of the young folks. Everything is so
different now and when I was growin up I don't know what will become of
the younger generation.

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Emaline Neland, Marianna, Arkansas
Age: Born 1859

"I was born two years before the War. I was born in Murray County,
Tennessee. It was middle Tennessee. When I come to remembrance I was in
Grant County, Arkansas. When I remember they raised wheat and corn and
tobacco. Mother's master was Dr. Harrison. His son was married and me
and my brother Anderson was give to him. He come to Arkansas 'fore ever
I could remember. He was a farmer but I never seen him hit a lick of
work in my life. He was good to me and my brother. She was good too. I
was the nurse. They had two children. Brother was a house boy. Me and
her girl was about the same size but I was the oldest. Being with the
other children I called her mother too. I didn't know no other mother
till freedom.

"Freedom! Well, here is the very way it all was: Old master told her
(mother) she was free. He say, 'Go get your children, you free as I is
now.' Ain't I heard her say it many a time? Well, mother come in a ox
wagon what belong to him and got us. They run me down, caught me and got
me in the wagon. They drove twenty-five miles. Old Dr. Harrison had
moved to Arkansas. Being with the other children I soon learnt to call
her ma. She had in all ten or eleven children. She was real dark.

"Pa was a slave too. He was a low man. He was a real bright man. He was
brighter than I is. He belong to a widow woman named Tedford. He renamed
his self after freedom. He took the name Brown 'stead of Tedford. I
never heard him say why he wasn't satisfied with his own name. He was a
soldier. He worked for the Yankees.

"After the War pa and ma got back together and lived together till she
died. There was five days' difference in their deaths. They died of
pneumonia. He was 64 years old and she was 54 years old. I was at home
when pa come from the War. All my sisters was light, one sister had
sandy hair like pa. She was real light. Ma was a good all 'round woman.
She cooked more than anything else. She nursed. Dr. Harrison told her to
stay till her husband come back or all the time if he didn't ever come
back. Ma never worked in the field. When pa come he moved us on a place
to share crop. Ma never worked in the field. He was buying a home in
Grant County. He started to Mississippi and stopped close to Helena and
ten or twelve miles from Marianna. He had a soldier friend wouldn't let
him go. He told him this was a better country. He decided to stay down
in here.

"I heard a whole heap about the Ku Klux. One time when a crowd was going
to church, we heard horse's feet coming; sound like they would run over
us. We all got clear out of reach so they wouldn't run over us. They had
on funny caps was all I could see, they went so fast. We give them the
clear road and they went on. That is all I ever seen of the Ku Klux.

"I seen Dr. Harrison's wife. She was a little old lady but we left after
I went there.

"I used to sew for the public. Yes, white and colored folks. I learnt my
own self to sew. I never had but one boy in my life. He died at seven
weeks old. I raised a stepson. I married twice. I married at home both
times. Just a quiet marriage and a colored preacher married me both

"The present conditions is hard. I want things and can't get 'em. If I
had the strength to hold out to work I could get along.

"The present generation--young white and black--blinds me. They turns
corners too fast. They going so fast they don't have time to take
advice. They promise to do better but they don't. They do like they want
to do and don't tell nobody till they done it. I say they just running
way with their selves.

"I get $8 and a little help along. I'm thankful for it. It is a blessing
I tell you."

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Henry Nelson
                    904 E. Fifth Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: About 70

"My name is Henry Nelson. I was born in Arkansas--Crittenden County near
Memphis, Tennessee. I was born not far from Memphis but on this side.

"My mother's name was Adeline Taylor. That was her old slavery folks'
name. She was a Taylor before she married my father--Nelson. My father's
first name was Green. I don't remember none of my grandparents. My
father's mother died before I come to remember and I know my mother's
mother died before I could remember.

"My father was born in Mississippi--Sardis, Mississippi--and my mother
was a Tennesseean--_Cartersville_[HW:?] Tennessee, twenty-five miles
above Memphis. [HW: Carter, in Carter County, about 35 m. north of
Memphis, but no Cartersville.] [TR: moved from bottom of following

"After peace was declared, they met in Tennessee. That was where my
mother was born, you know. They fell in love with one another in Shelby
County, and married there. My mother had been married once before during
slavery time. She had been made to marry by her master. Her first
husband was named Eli. He was my oldest sister's father. Him and my
mother had the same master and missis. She was made to marry him. She
was only thirteen years old when she married him. She was fine and stout
and her husband was fine and stout, and they wanted more from that
stock. I don't know how old he was but he was a lot older than she was.
He was a kind of an elderly man. She had just one child by him--my
oldest sister, Georgia. She was only married a short time before freedom

"My father farmed. He was always a farmer--raised cotton and corn. My
mother was a farmer too. Both of them--that is both of her
husbands--were farmers.

"My mother and father used to go off to places to dance and the
pateroles would get after them. You had to have a pass to go off your
place and if you didn't have a pass, they would make you warm. Some of
them would get caught sometimes and the pateroles would whip them. They
would sure got whipped if they didn't have a pass.

"The old master come out and told them they were free when peace was
declared. He said, 'You are free this morning--free as I am.'

"Right after the War, my mother come further down in Tennessee, and that
is how she met my father where she was when she was married. They went
farming. They farmed on shares--sharecropped. They were on a big place
called Ensley place. The man that owned the place was called Nuck

"My mother and father didn't have no schooling. I never heard that they
were bothered by the Ku Klux.

"She didn't live with her first husband after slavery. She left him when
she was freed. She never did intend to marry him. She was forced to

Interviewer's Comment

Nelson evidently rents rooms. A yellow sallow-faced, cadaverous, and
dissatisfied looking "gentleman" went into the house eyeing me
suspiciously as he passed. In a moment he was out again interrupting the
old man with pointless remarks. In--out again--standing over me--peering
on my paper in the offensive way that ill-bred people have. He
straightened up with a disgusted look on his face. He couldn't read

"What's that you're writin'?"


"What's that about?"


"History uv whut?"


"He don't know nothin' about slavery."

"Thank you. However, if he says he does, I'll just continue to listen to
him if you don't mind."

"Humph," and the "yellow gentleman" passed in.

Out again--eyeing both the old man and me with disgust that was
unconcealed. To him, "You don't know whutchu're doin'."

Deep silence by all. Exit the yellow brother.

To the old man, I said, "Is that your son?"

"Lawd, no, that's jus' a roomer."

Out came the yellow brother again. "See here, Uncle, if you want me to
fix that fence you'd bettuh come awn out heah now. It's gettin' dark."

I closed my notebook and arose. "Don't let me interfere with your
program, Brother Nelson."

The old man settled back in his chair. His eyes inspected the sky, his
jaw "sorta" set. The yellow brother looked at him a minute and passed

Five minutes later. Enter, the Madam. She also was of the yellow variety
with the suspicious and spiteful look of an undersized black Belgian
police dog. A moment of silence--a word to him.

"You don't know whutchu're doin'." Silence all around. To me, "You're
upsettin' my work."

I arose. "Madam, I'm sorry."

The old man spoke, "You ain't keepin' me from nothin'."

"Well, I said, you've given me a nice start; I'll come again and get the

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Henry Nelson, Edmondson, Arkansas
Age: 70
[TR: Appears to be same as last informant despite different address.]

"My mother belong to the Taylors close to Carterville, Tennessee. My
father never was sold. He belong to the Nelsons. My parents married
toreckly after the surrender and come on to this state. I was born ten
miles from Edmondson. Their names was Adeline and Green Nelson. They
didn't get nothing after freedom like land or a horse. I'm seventy years
old and I would have known.

"I was at Alton, Illinois in the lead works thirteen years ago and I had
a stroke. I been cripple ever since.

"My folks never spoke of being nothing but field hands. Folks used to be
proud of their crops, go look over them on Sunday when company come. Now
if they got a garden they hide it and don't mention it. Times is changed
that way.

"Clothes ain't as lasty as they used to be. People has a heap more money
to spend and don't raise and have much at home as they did when I was a
child. Times is all turned around and folks too. I always had plenty
till I couldn't do hard work. I farmed my early life. We didn't have
much money but we had rations and warm clothes. I cleared new ground,
hauled wood, big logs. I steamboated on the Sun, Kate Adams, and One Arm
John. I helped with the freight. I railroaded with pick and shovel and
in the lead mines. I worked from Memphis to Helena on boats a good
while. I come back here to farm. Time is changed and I'm changed.

"It has been so long since I heard my parents tell about slavery I
couldn't tell you straight. She told till she died, talked about how the
Yankees done when they come through. They took axes and busted up good
furniture. They et up and wasted the rations, then humor up the black
folks like they was in their favor when they was settin' out wasting
their living. They done made it to live on. Some followed them and some
stayed on. They wanted freedom but it wasn't like they thought it would
be. They didn't know how it would be. They didn't know it meant _set
out_. Seem like they left. In some ways times was better and some ways
it was worse. They had to work or starve is what they told me. That's
the way I found freedom. 'Course their owners made them work and he
looked out for the ration and in slavery.

"I keeps up my own self all I can. I don't get help."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Iran Nelson
                    603 E. Fourteenth Ave., Pine Bluff, Ark.
Age: 77

"Yes ma'm, they fotch me from Mississippi to Arkansas on the
steamboat--you know they didn't have railroads then. They fotch my
mother and they went back after grandfather and grandmother too.

"Dr. Noell was our master and he had us under mortgage to his
brother-in-law. They fotched us here till he could get straight from
that debt, but fore that could be, we got free.

"I knowed slavery times. I member seem' em lash some of the rest but you
know I wasn't big enough to put in the fields. Old mistress say when I
got big enough, she goin' take me for a house girl. When they fotched
mama and grandmother here they had eighty some odd head of niggers. They
was gwine carry em back home after they got that mortgage paid but the
war come.

"I member when the Yankees come, my white folks would run and hide and
hide us colored folks too. Boss man had the colored folks get all the
meat out of the smokehouse and hide it in the peach orchard in the

"I used to play with old mistress daughter Addie. We would play in the
parlor and after we moved to town some of the little girls would pick up
and go home. You know these town folks didn't believe in playin' with
the colored folks.

"After mama was free she stayed right there on the place and made a
crop. Raised eight hundred bales and the average was nine. Mama plowed
and hoed too. I had to work right with her too.

"I never went to school but once. I learned my ABC's but couldn't read.
My next ABC's was a hoe in my hand. Mama had a switch right under her
belt. I worked but I couldn't keep up. Just seein' that switch was
enough. I had a pretty good time when I was young, but I had to go all
the time."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: James Henry Nelson
                    1103 Orange, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 82
Occupation: Gardener

"I member all about the war--why of cose. I saddled many a cavalry hoss.
I tell you how I know how old I am. Old master, Henry Stanley of Athens,
Alabama, moved to Palaski, Tennessee and left me with young mistress to
take care of things. One day we was drivin' up some stock and I said,
'Miss Nannie, how old is you?' And she said, 'I'm seventeen.' I was old
enough to have the knowledge she would know how old I was and I said,
'How old am I?' And she said, 'You is seven years old.' That was durin'
the war.

"I remember the soldiers comin' and stoppin' at our building--Yankees
and Southern soldiers, too. They fit all around our plantation.

"The Yankees taken me when I was a little fellow. About two years after
the war started, young Marse Henry went to war and took a colored man
with him but he ran away--he wouldn't stay with the Rebel army. So young
Marse Henry took me. I reckon I was bout ten. I know I was big enough to
saddle a cavalry hoss. We carried three horses--his hoss, my hoss and a
pack hoss. You know chillun them days, they made em do a man's work. I
studied bout my mother durin' the war, so they let me go home.

"One day I went to mill. They didn't low the chillun to lay around, and
while I was at the mill a Yankee soldier ridin' a white hoss captured me
and took me to Pulaski, Tennessee and then I was in the Yankee army. I
wasn't no size and I don't think he would a took me if it hadn't been
for the hoss.

"We come back to Athens and the Rebels captured the whole army. Colonel
Camp was in charge and General Forrest captured us and I was carried
south. We was marchin' along the line and a Rebel soldier said, 'Don't
you want to go home and stay with my wife?' And so I went there, to
Millville, Alabama. Then he bound me to a friend of his and I stayed
there till the war bout ended. I was getting along very well but a older
boy 'suaded me to run away to Decatur, Alabama.

"Oh I seen lots of the war. Bof sides was good to me. I've seen many a
scout. The captain would say 'By G----, close the ranks.' Captains is
right crabbed. I stayed back with the hosses.

"After the war I worked about for this one and that one. Some paid me
and some didn't.

"I can remember back to Breckenridge; and I can remember hearin' em say
'Hurrah for Buchanan!' I'm just tellin' you to show how fur back I can
remember. I used to have a book with a picture of Abraham Lincoln with
an axe on his shoulder and a picture of that log cabin, but somebody
stole my book.

"I worked for whoever would take me--I had no mother then. If I had had
parents to make me go to school, but I got along very well. The white
folks taught me not to have no bad talk. They's all dead now and if they
wasn't I'd be with them.

"I'm a natural born farmer--that's all I know. The big overflow drownded
me out and my wife died with pellagra in '87. She was a good woman and
nice to white folks. I'm just a bachin' here now. I did stay with my
daughter but she is mean to me, so I just picked up my rags and moved
into this room where I can live in peace. I'm a christian man, and I
can't live right with her. When colored folks is mean, they's meaner
than white folks.

"I'm gettin' along very well now. I been with white folks all my
day--and it's hard for me to get along with my folks.

"In one way the world is crueler than they used to be. They don't
appreciate things like they used to. They have no feelin's and don't
care nothin' bout the olden people.

"Well, good-bye, I'm proud of you."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: John Nelson, Holly Grove, Arkansas
Age: 76

"My parents was Jazz Nelson and Mahaney Nelson. He come from Louisiana
durin' slavery. She come from Richmond, Virginia. I think from what they
said he come to Louisiana from there too. They was plain field hands.

"My folks belong to Miss Mary Ann Richardson and Massa Harve Richardson.
They had five children and every one dead now. They lived at Duncan

"The white folks told em they was free. They had no place to go and they
been workin' the crop. White folks glad for em to stay and work on. And
the truth is they was glad to git to stay on cause they had no place to
go. They kept stayin' on a long time.

"I was so small I don't know if the Ku Klux ever did come bout our place
at tall."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Lettie Nelson
                    St. Marys Street, Helena, Arkansas
Age: 55 or 56?

"Grandma was Patsy Smith. She said in slavery they had a certain amount
of cotton to pick. If they didn't have that amount they would put their
heads between the rails of the fences and whoop them. They whooped them
in the ebenin' when they weighed up the cotton. Grandma was raised in
Virginia. She was light. Mama was light. They was carried from Virginia
to Louisiana in wagons. They found clothes along the road people had
lost. She said several bundles of good clothes. They thought they had
dropped off of wagons ahead of them. They washed and wore the clothes.
Some of 'em fit so they wore them. Mama left her husband and brother in
Virginia. Ed Smith was her second husband. He was a light man. My
grandpa was a field man. I never heard if grandpa was sold. Jimmie
Stansberry was the man that bought or brought mama and grandma to
Louisiana. Mama cooked and worked in the field both. Grandma did too.
She cooked in Louisiana more than mama. They belong to Lou and Jimmie
Stansberry and they had two boys. They lived close to Minden, Louisiana.
I don't know so much about my parents and grandma talked but we didn't
pay enough attention to remember it all. She was old and got things

"They was glad when freedom come but they lived on with Jimmie
Stansberry. I remember them. Grandma raised me after my parents died.
Then she lived with me till she died. She was awful old when she died.
They would talk about how different Virginia and Louisiana was. It took
them a long time to make that trip."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Mattie Nelson
                    710 E. Fourth Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 72

"I was born in Chicot County, Arkansas in '65. They said I was born on
the roadside while we was on our way here from Texas. They had to camp
they said. Some people called it emigrate. Now that's the straightest
way I can tell it.

"Our mistress and master was named Chapman. I member when I was a child
mistress used to be so good to us. After surrender my parents stayed
right on there with the Chapmans, stayed right on the place till they

"My mudder and pappy neither one of em could read or write, but I went
to school. I always was apt. I am now. I always was one to work--yes
ma'm--rolled logs, hope clean up new ground--yes ma'm. When we was
totin' logs, I'd say, "Put the big end on me" but they'd say, "No,
you're a woman." Yes ma'm I been here a long time. I do believe in
stirrin' work for your livin', yes ma'm, that's what I believe in.

"I been workin' ever since I was six years old. My daughter was just
like me--she had a gift, but she died. I seen all my folks die and that
lets me know I got to die too.

"White folks used to come along in buggies, and hoss back too, and stop
and watch me plow. Seem like the hotter the sun was the better I liked

"Yes ma'm, I done all kinds a work and I feels it now, too."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Dan Newborn
                    1000 Louisiana, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 78

"I was born in 1860. Born in Knoxville, Tennessee. I suppose it was in
the country.

"Solomon Walton was my mother's owner and my father belonged to the
Newborns. My grandmother belonged to the Buggs in Richmond, Virginia and
she was sold to the Waltons. When my mother died in '65 my grandmother
raised me. After she was freed she went to the Powell Clayton place. Her
daughter lived there and she sent up the river and got her. I went too.
Me and two more boys.

"I never went to school but about thirty days. Hardly learned my

"In '66, my grandmother bound two of us to Powell Clayton for our
'vittils' and clothes and schoolin', but I didn't get no schoolin'. I
waited in the house. Stayed there three years, then we come back to the
Walton place.

"My grandmother said the Waltons treated her mean. Beat her on the head
and that was part of her death. Every spring her head would run. She
said they didn't get much of somethin' to eat.

"I was married 'fore my grandmother died--to this wife that died two
months ago. We stayed together fifty-seven years.

"To my idea, this younger generation is too wild--not near as settled as
when I was comin' up. They used to obey. Why, I slept in the bed with my
grandmother till I was married. She whipped me the day before I was
married. It was 'cause I had disobeyed her. Children will resist their
mothers now.

"I think the colored people is better off now 'cause they got more
privilege, but the way some of 'em use their privilege, I think they
ought to be slaves.

"My grandmother taught me not to steal. My white folks here have trusted
me with two and three hundred dollars. I don't want nothin' in the world
but mine.

"I been workin' here for Fox Brothers thirty-eight years and they'll
tell you there's not a black mark against me.

"I used to be a mortar maker and used to sample cotton. Then I worked at
the Cotton Belt Shops eight years.

"I've bought me a home that cost $780.

"I don't mind tellin' about myself 'cause I've been honest and you can
go up the river and get my record.

"Out of all due respect to everybody, the Yankees is the ones I like.

"Vote? Oh yes, Republican ticket. I like Roosevelt's administration. If
I could vote now, I'd vote for him. He has done a whole lot of good."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person Interviewed: Sallie Newsom
                    Brinkley, Ark.
Age 75?

"Miss, I don't know my age, but I know I is old. I'm sick now.

"My grandma's mistress and mama's mistress and my mistress was Miss
Jennie Brawner at Thomasville, Georgia. Me and my oldest sister was born
in Atlanta. Then freedom come on. My own papa wanted mama to follow him
to Mississippi. He had a wife there. She wouldn't go. She stayed on a
while with Mr. Acy and Miss Jennie. They come from Virginia. Her name
was Catherine.

"Grandma toted her big hoop dresses about and carried her trains up off
the floor. Combed her long glossy hair. Mama was a house girl too, but
then grandma took to the kitchen. She was the cook then.

"Old Miss Jennie wanted mama to give her my oldest sister Lulu, so mama
gave her to her. Then when we started to come to Holly Grove,
Mississippi, Miss Jennie still wanted her. Mama didn't want to part from
her. She was married again and brought me but my aunts told mama to
leave her there, she would have a good home and be educated, so she
'greed to leave her two years. She sent back for her at the end of two
years; she wrote and didn't want to come. She was still at Miss
Jennie's. I haben seen her from the day we left Atlanta till this very
day. A woman, colored woman, was here in Brinkley once seen her. Said
she was so fine and nice. Had nice soft skin and was well to do. I have
wrote but my letters come back. I know Miss Jennie is dead, and my
sister may be by now.

"My papa was Abe Brooks. His master was Mars Jonas Brooks. Old master
give him to the young master. He was rich, rich, and traveled all time.
His pa give him a servant. He cooked for him, drove his carriage--they
called it a brake in them days--followed him to the hotels and
bar-rooms. He drink and give him a dram. When he was freed he come to
Mississippi with the Brooks to farm for them. I went to see my papa at
Waterford, Miss.

"When we was at Holly Springs, Mississippi my cousin was a railroad man
so he helped me run away. He paid my way. I come to Clarendon. I cooked,
washed and ironed. In two or three years I went back to see mama. They
was glad to see me. They had eight children.

"I couldn't guarantee you about the eight younger children, but there
ain't a speck of no kind of blood about me and Lulu Violet but African.
We are slick black Negroes. (She is very black, large and bony.)

"Miss Jennie Brawner had one son--Gus Brawner--and he may be living now
in Atlanta.

"My uncle said he seen the Yankees come through Thomasville, Georgia. I
never seen an army of them. I seen soldiers, plenty of em. None of the
Brooks or Brawners went to war that I heard of. I was kept close and too
young to know much of what happened. I heard about the Ku Klux but I
never seen them.

"I know Miss Jennie Brawner come from Virginia but I don't brought
grandma with her or bought her. She never did say.

"I don't vote. My husband voted, I don't know how he voted.

"Since I been sick, I get a check and commodities."

Interviewer: Miss Sallie C. Miller
Person interviewed: Pete Newton, Clarksville, Arkansas
Age: 83 [TR: 85?]
Occupation: Farmer and day laborer

"My white folks was as good to me as they could be. I ain't got no kick
to make about my white people. The boys was all brave. I was raised on
the farm. I staid with my boss till I was nearly grown. When the war got
so hot my boss was afraid the 'Feds' would get us. He sent my mammy to
Texas and sent me in the army with Col. Bashom, to take care of his
horses. I was about eleven or twelve years old. Col. Bashom was always
good to me. He always found a place for me to sleep and eat. Sometimes
after the colonel left the folks would run as off and not let me stay
but I never told the colonel. I went to Boston, Texas with the colonel
and his men and when he went on the big raid into Missouri he left me in
Sevier County, Arkansas with his horses 'Little Baldy' and 'Orphan Boy'.
They was race horses. The colonel always had race horses. He was killed
at Pilot Knob, Missouri. After the colonel was killed his son George (I
shore did think a lot of George) come after me and the horses and
brough' us home.

"While I was in Arkadelphia with Col. Bashom's horses, I went down to
the spring to water the horses. The artillery was there cleaning a big
cannon they called 'Old Tom'. Of course I went up to watch them. One of
the men saw me and hollered, 'Stick his head in the cannon.' It liked to
scared me to death. I jumped on that race horse and run. I reconed I
would have been killed but my uncle was there and saw me and stopped the

"Another time we went to a place and me and another colored boy was
taking care of the horses while our masters eat dinner. I saw some
watermelons in the garden with a paling fence around it. I said if the
other boy would pull a paling off I would crawl through and get us a
watermelon. He did but the man who owned the place saw me just as I got
the melon and whipped us and told us if we hollered he would kill us. We
didn't holler and we never told Col. Bashom either.

"After the war my mammie come back from Texas and took me over to Dover
to live but my old boss told her if she would let him have me he would
raise and educate me like his own children. When I got back the old boss
already had a boy so I went to live with one of his sons. He told me it
was time for me to learn how to work. My boss was rough but he was good
to me and taught me how to work. The old boss had five sons in the army
and all was wounded except one. One of them was shot through and through
in the battle of Oak Hill. He got a furlough and come back and died. I
left my white folks in 1869 and went to farming for myself up in Hartman
bottom. I married when I was about seventeen years old.

"They though' a house near us was hainted. Nobody wanted to live in it
so they went to see what the noise was. They found a pet coon with a
piece of chain around his neck. The coon would run across the floor and
drag the chain.

"The children now are bad. No telling that will be in the next twenty or
thirty years everything is so changed now.

"I learnt to sing the hymns but never sang in the choir. We sang
'Dixie', 'John Brown's Body Lies, etc.', 'Juanita', 'Just Before the
Battle, Mother', 'Old Black Joe'."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Charlie Norris
                    122 Miller Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 81

"Born in slavery times? That's me, I reckon. I was born October 1, 1857
in Arkansas in Union County. Tom Murphy was old master's name.

"Yes ma'am, I remember the first regiment left Arkansas--went to
Virginia. I member our white folks had us packin' grub out in the woods
cause they was spectin' the Yankees.

"I member when the first regiment started out. The music boat come to
the landin' and played 'Yankee Doodle.' They carried all us chillun out

"After they fit they just come by from daylight till dark to eat. They
was death on bread. My mother and Susan Murphy, that was the old lady
herself, cooked bread for em.

"I stayed with the Murphys--round on the plantation amongst em for five
or six years after freedom. Andrew Norris, my father's old master, was
the first sheriff of Ouachita County.

"My mother belonged to the Murphys and my father belonged to the
Norrises and after freedom they never did go back together.

"My mother told me that Susan Murphy would suckle me when my mother was
out workin' and then my mother would suckle her daughter.

"I was raised up in the house you might say till I was a big nigger. Had
plenty to eat. That's one thing they did do. I lived right amongst a
settlement of what they called free niggers cause they was treated so

"Sometimes Susan Murphy got after me and whipped me and old Marse Tom
would tell me to run and not let her whip me. You see, I was worth
$1,500 to him and he thought a lot of us black kids.

"Old man Tom Murphy raised me up to a big nigger and never did whip me
but twice and that was cause I got drunk on tobacco and turned out his

"Yes ma'am, I voted till bout two or three years ago. Oh Lawd, the
colored used to hold office down in the country. I've voted for white
and black.

"Some of the colored folks better off free and some not. That's what I
think but they don't."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person Interviewed: Emma Oats (Mulatto)
                    Holly Grove, Ark.
Age: 90 or older

"I was born in St. Louis. My mother died when I was little. I never
knowed no father. (He was probably a white man.) Jack Oats raised me.
Jim Oats at Helena was his son. He is still living. He come through here
(Holly Grove) not long ago. I was raised on the Esque place.

"I was fraid of my grandma. I wouldn't live with her. I know'd her. She
was a big woman, big white eyes, big thick lips, and had 'Molly Glaspy
hair,' long straight soft hair. She was a African woman. She made my
clothes. I was fraid of her. I never lived with her. My folks was all
free folks. When my mother died my uncle took us--me and brother. He
hired us out and we got stole. Gene Oglesby stole us and brought us to
Memphis to Joe Nivers. I recken he sold us then. Then they stood me up
in the parlor and sold me to Jack Oats. They said I was 'good pluck.'
Joe Nivers sold me to Jack Oats for $1,150.00 when I was four years old.
My brother was name Milton Smith. I ain't seen him from that day till
this. Joe Nivers kept him, I recken. I come here on a 'legal
tender'--name of the boat I recken. I know that. I recken it was name of
a boat. I got off and Thornton Walls, old colored man, toted me cross
every mud hole we come to. He belong to Bud Walls' (white man at Holly
Grove) daddy. When we got home Jack Oats and all of em was there.

"I slept on a pallet and lounge and took care of their children. I
played round. Done bout as I pleased. They had a cook they called Aunt
Joe--Joe Oats. We had plenty to eat and wear. They dressed me like one
their children. We had good flannel clothes. When she washed her
children she washed me too. When she combed their hair she combed mine
too. She kept working with it till I had pretty hair. Some of her
children died. It hurt me bad as it did them. All I done was play with
em and see after em. Their names was Sam, John, Dixie, Sallie, Jim. I
went in the hack to church; if she took the children, she took me. I was
a good size girl when she died. The last word she spoke was to me; she
said, 'Emma, take care of my children.' Dr. John Chester was her doctor.

"Oats come here from North Alabama. Will Oats, Wyatt Oats, and Jack
Oats--all brothers.

"When mistress living we took a bath every Friday in a sawed-intwo
barrel (wooden tub). The cook done our washing. We had clean fresh
clothes. We had to dress up every few days. If we get dirty she say she
would give us lashes. She never give me none, I never was sassy (saucy).
That what most of em got 10 lashes, 25, 50 lashes for.

"When I was bout grown I went to school a little bit to James A. Kerr
here at Holly Grove. I was good and grown too.

"I was settin' on the gate post--they had a picket fence. I seen some
folks coming to our house. I run in the house and says, 'Miss Mai Liza,
the Yankees coming here!' She told her husband to get in the bed. He
says, 'Oh God, what she know bout Yankees?' Miss Mai Liza say, 'I don't
know; she's one of em, I speck she knows em.' One of the officers come
in and asked him what was the matter. He said he was sick. He had boils
bout on him. He had a Masonic pin on his shirt. He showed it to the
officer. He asked Lou and Becky and all the servants if he hadn't been
bushwhacking. They all said, 'No.' He said he wanted something to eat.
They went to the well house and got him some milk.

"They camped below the house. They went to their store house and brought
more rations up there in a wagon. Lou cooked and she had help. She set a
big table and they had the biggest dinner. They had more hams. They had
'Lincoln Coffee' there that day. It was a jolly day. They never et up
there no more or bothered round our house no more. The officer had
something on his bare arm he showed. He said, when he went to leave,
'Aunt Lou, you shall not be hurt.'

"Mr. Oats had taken long before that day all his slaves to Texas. He
took all but Wash Martin. They went in wagons and none of them ever come

"Miss Callie Edwards was older than Miss Henrietta Jackson. They kept
Wash Martin going through the bottoms nearly all time from their houses
at Golden Hill to Indian Bay. They kept him from one place to the other
to keep him out of the war. They hired him out to school Miss Henrietta.
Miss Callie Edwards died then they give him to Miss Henrietta.

"During the war Mrs. Keeps come up to our house. They heard a gun. She
was jes visiting Mrs. Oats. Mrs. Keeps went home and the bushwhackers
had killed him. He was dead.

"I never seen no Ku Klux in my whole life.

"I remember the stage coach that run every two or three days from Helena
to Clarendon.

"I don't remember bout freedom. Dr. Green, Hall Green's daddy, told his
colored folks they was free. They told our folks. I heard em talking
bout it. I was kept quiet. It was done freedom, fore I knowed it. I
stayed on and done like I been doin'. I stayed on and on.

"When I was grown I come here to school and soon married. I washed and
ironed and cooked all over Holly Grove. I was waiting on the table at
the boarding house here at Holly Grove. Mr. Oats was talking bout naming
the town. They had put the railroad through. I ask em why didn't they
name the town Holly Grove. It was thick with holly trees. They named it
that, and put it up on the side of the depot. That way I named the town.

"My folks give me five acres of land and Julia Woolfolk give a blind
woman on the place five acres. I didn't know what to do wid it. I didn't
have no husband. I was young and foolish. I let it be.

"My husband farmed. I raised my family, chopped and picked cotton and
done other things along with that. I have worked all my life till way
after my husband died.

"My husband could jump up, knock heels together three times before he
come down. He died May 12, 1909. He was 83 years old February 16, 1909.

"I never voted. I never heard my husband say much bout voting. I know
some colored folks sold their voting rights. That was wrong.

"I lived at Baptist Bottoms two years. It lack to killed me."

Wyatt Oats and Miss Callie Edwards owned the husband of Emma Oats. She
was married once and had two girls and two boys--one boy dead now. Emma
lives at one of her daughters' homes.

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Helen Odom and mother, Sarah Odom
                    Biscoe, Arkansas
Age: 30?

"Great-grandmother was part African, Indian, and Caucasian. She had two
girls before slavery ended by her own master--Master Temple. He was also
Caucasian (white). She was cook and housemaid at his home. He was a
bachelor. Grandmother's name was Rachael and her sister's name was
Gilly. Before freedom Master Temple had another wife. By her he had one
boy and two girls. He never had a Caucasian wife. In fact he was always
a bachelor. Grandmother was a field hand and so was her sister, Gilly.

"But after freedom grandmother married a Union soldier. His took-on name
was George Washington Tomb. He was generally called Parson Tomb
(preacher). He met Grandmother Rachael in Arkansas.

"When Master Temple died his nearest relative was Jim McNeilly. He made
a will leaving everything he possessed to Master McNeilly. The estate
had to be settled, so he brought the two sisters to Little Rock we think
to be sold. They rode horseback and walked and brought wagons with
bedding and provisions to camp along the road. The blankets were frozen
and stood alone. It was so cold. Grandmother was put up on the block to
be auctioned off and freedom was declared! Aunt Gilly never got to the
block. Grandmother married and was separated from her sister.

"Whether the other three children were brought to Arkansas then I don't
know but this I know that they went by the name McNeilly. They changed
their names or it was done for them. They are all dead now and my own
mother is the only one now living. Their names were John, Tom, and
Netline. Mother says they were sold to Johnson, and went by that name
too as much as McNeilly. They remained with Johnson till freedom, in

"My mother's name is Sarah.

"They seem to think they were treated good till Master Temple died. They
nearly froze coming to Arkansas to be sold.

"I heard this told over and over so many, many times before grandmother
died. Seemed it was the greatest event of her life. She told other
smaller things I can't remember to tell with sense at all. Nothing so
important as her master and own father's death and being sold.

"Times are good, very good with me. Our African race is advancing with
the times."

Interviewer's Comment

Teacher in Biscoe school. Father was a graduate doctor of medicine and
in about 1907, '08, '09 school director at Biscoe.

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Jane Oliver
                    Route 4, near airport, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 81

"I'm certainly one of em, cause I was in the big house. When Miss Liza
married they give sister to her and I stayed with Miss Netta. Her name
was Drunetta Rawls. That was in Mississippi. We come to Arkansas when I
was small.

"I remember when they run us to Texas, and we stayed there till freedom
come. I remember hearin' em read the free papers. Mama died in Texas and
they buried her the day they read the free papers. I know. I was out
playin' and Miss Lucy, that was my young mistress, come out and say,
'Jane, you go in and see your mother, she wants you.' I was busy playin'
and didn't want to go in and I member Miss Lucy say, 'Poor little fool
nigger don't know her mother's dyin'.' I went in then and said, 'Mama,
is you dyin'?' She say, 'No, I ain't; I died when you was a baby.' You
know, she meant she had died in sin. She was a christian.

"Me and Lucy played together all the time--round about the house and in
the kitchen. Little Marse Henry, that was big old Marse Henry's son, he
was a captain in the army. We all called him Little Marse Henry. Old
mistress was good to us. Us chillun called her Miss Netta. Best woman I
ever seed. Me and Lucy growed up together. Looks like I can see just the
way the house looked and how we used to go down to the big gate and
play. I sits here and studies and wonders if I'd know that place today.
That's what I study bout.

"I used to hear em say we only stayed in Texas nine months and the white
folks brought us back.

"My uncle Simon Rawls, he took me after the war. Then I worked for Mrs.

"I went to school a little and learned to read prints. The teacher tried
to get me to write but I wouldn't do it. And since then I have wished so
much I had learned to write. Oh mercy! Old folks would tell me, 'Well,
when you get up the road, you'll wish you had.' I didn't know what they
meant but I know now they meant when I got old.

"I was married when I was young--I don't think I was fifteen.

"Yes ma'am, I've worked hard. I've always lived in the country.

"I can remember when the white folks refugeed us to Texas. Oh we did
hate the Yankees. If I ever seed a Yankee I didn't know it but I heard
the white folks talkin' bout em.

"I used to hear em talk bout old Jeff Davis and Abe Lincoln.

"Bradley County was where we lived fore we went to Texas and afterward.
Colonel Ed Hampton's plantation jined the Rawls plantation on the
Arkansas River where it overflowed the land. I loved that better than
any place I ever seed in my life.

"I couldn't say what I think of the young folks now. They is different
from what we was. Yes, Lord, they is different. Sometimes I think they
is better and sometimes wuss. I just thanks the Lord that I'm here--have
come this far.

"When I bought this place from Mr. R.M. Knox he said, 'When I'm in my
grave you'll thank me that you took my advice and put your savings in a
Home.' I do thank him. I been here thirty years and I get along. God
bless you."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Ivory Osborne
                    Route 5, Box 158, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 85

"Know about slavery? Sho I do--I was born in '52. Born in Arkansas? No
ma'm, born in Texas.

"Oh yes, indeed, I had a good master. Good to me, indeed. I was that
high when the war started. I member everything. Take me from now till
dark to tell you everything I know bout slavery.

"I put in three years and five months, choppin' cotton and corn. I
member the very day, on the 10th of May, old mistress blowed the conk
and told us we was free.

"Oh Lord, I had a good time.

"I never was whipped.

"Ku Klux used to run me. Run me clear from the plum orchard bout a mile
from the house. Run to my mistress at the big house.

"Miss Ann had eight darkies and told her stepmother, 'Don't you put your
hand on em.' She didn't either.

"I went to school since 'mancipation in Nacitosh. Learned to read and
write. Was in the eighth grade when I left. Stood at the head of every
class. They couldn't get me down. I done got old and forgot now.

"I didn't know the difference between slavery and free, I never was

"Did I ever vote? You know I voted, old as I am. Ain't voted in over
forty years. I ain't nobody. My wife's eighty. I've had her forty years.
_Cose_ I voted the Republican ticket. You never seed a colored person a
Democrat in your life.

"In slavery days we killed seventy-five or eighty hogs every year. And I
don't mean shoats, I mean hogs. I ain't lost my membrance."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Jane Osbrook
                    602 E. 21st Avenue, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 90

"Yes ma'm, I was livin' in slavery days. I was borned in Arkansas I
reckon. I was borned within three, miles of Camden but I wasn't raised
there. We moved to Saline County directly after peace was declared.

"I don't know what year I was born because you see I'm not educated but
I was ninety the 27th of this last past May. Yes ma'm, I'm a old bondage
woman. I can say what a heap of em can't say--I can tell the truth bout
it. I believe in the truth. I was brought up to tell the truth. I'm no
young girl.

"My old master was Adkison Billingsly. My old mistress treated us just
like her own children. She said we had feelin's and tastes. I visited
her long after the war. Went there and stayed all night.

"I member when they had the fight at Jenkins Ferry. Old Steele had
30,000 and he come down to take Little Rock, Pine Bluff and others.
Captain Webb with 1,500 Rebels was followin' him and when they got to
Saline River they had a battle.

"The next Sunday my father carried all us children and some of the white
folks to see the battle field. I member the dead was lyin' in graves,
just one row after another and hadn't even been covered up.

"Oh yes, I can tell all bout that. Nother time there was four hundred
fifty colored and five white Yankee soldiers come and ask my father if
old mistress treated us right. We told em we had good owners. I never
was so scared in my life. Them colored soldiers was so tall and so black
and had red eyes. Oh yes ma'm, they had on the blue uniforms. Oh, we
sure was fraid of em--you know them eyes.

"They said, 'Now uncle, we want you to tell the truth, does she feed you
well?' My ma did all the cookin' and we had good livin'. I tole my
daughter we fared ten thousand times better than now.

"I come up in the way of obedience. Any time I wanted to go, had to go
to old mistress and she say, 'Don't let the sun go down on you.' And
when we come home the sun was in the trees. If you seed the sun was
goin' down on you, you run.

"I ain't goin' tell nothin' but the truth. Truth better to live with and
better to die with.

"Some of the folks said they never seed a biscuit from Christmas to
Christmas but we had em every day. Never seed no sodie till peace was
declared--used saleratus.

"In my comin' up it was Whigs and Democrats. Never heard of no
Republicans till after the war. I've seed a man get upon that platform
and wipe the sweat from his brow. I've seed em get to fight in' too.
That was done at our white folks house--arguin' politics.

"I never did go to school. I married right after the war you know. What
you talkin' bout--bein' married and goin' to school? I was housekeepin':
Standin' right in my own light and didn't know it."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Annie Page
                    412-1/2 Pullen Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 86

"I was born 1852, they tell me, on the fifteenth of March. I was workin'
a good while 'fore surrender.

"Bill Jimmerson was my old master. He was a captain in Marmaduke's army.
Come home on thirty days furlough once and he and Daniel Carmack got
into some kind of a argument 'bout some whisky and Daniel Carmack
stabbed him with a penknife. Stabbed him three times. He was black as
tar when they brought him home. The blood had done settled. Oh Lawd,
that was a time.

"My eyes been goin' blind 'bout six years till I got so I can't excern
(discern) anything.

"Old miss used to box me over the head mightily and the colored folks
used to hit me over the head till seem like I could hear a bell for two
or three days. Niggers ain't got no sense. Put 'em in authority and they
gits so uppity.

"My brother brought me here and left me here with a colored woman named
Rachael Ross. And oh Lawd, she was hard on me. Never had to do in
slavery times what I had to do then.

"But the devil got her and all her chillun now I reckon. They tell me
when death struck her, they asked if the Lawd called her, and they say
she just turned over and over in the bed like a worm in hot ashes."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Annie Page
                    400 Block West Pullen, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 85

"Yes'm I 'member the war. I never knowed why they called it the Civil
War though.

"I was born in Union County, Arkansas, 'bout a mile from Bear Creek, in
1852. That's what my old mistress tole me the morning we was sot free.

"My mistress was a Democrat. Old master was a captain in Marmaduke's

"I used to hope (help) spin the thread to make the soldiers' clothes.
Old mistress cared for me. Lacy Jimmerson--the onliest mistress I ever
had. She wanted to send us away to Texas but old master say it want no
use. Cause if the Yankees won, they have to bring us back, so we didn't

"Did they _whip_ us? Why I bet I can show you scars now. Old Miss whip
me when she feel like fightin'. Her granddaughter, Mary Jane, tried to
learn me my ABC's out of the old Blue Back Speller. We'd be out on the
seesaw, but old Miss didn't know what we doin'. Law, she pull our hair.
Directly she see us and say 'What you doin'? Bring that book here!'

"One day old master come home on a thirty-day furlough. He was awful
hot-headed and he got into a argument with Daniel Carmack and old Daniel
stobbed him right in the heart. Fore he die he say to bury him by the
side of the road so he can see the niggers goin' to work.

"I never seen no Ku Klux but I heard of 'em 'rectly after the war.

"I'se blind. I jest can see enough to get around. The Welfare gives me
eight dollars a month.

"My mother died soon after the war ended and after that I was jest
knocked over the head. I went to Camblin and worked for Mrs. Peters.
Then I runned away and married my first husband Mike Samson. I been
married twice and had two children but they all dead now.

"Law, I jest scared of these young ones as I can be. I don't have no
dealins with 'em."

Name of interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Subject: Apparitions
Subject: Superstitions
Subject: Birthmarks

This information given by: Annie Page
Place of residence: 412-1/2 Pullen Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Occupation: None  Age: 86
[TR: Information moved from bottom of first page.]
[TR: Repetitive information deleted from subsequent pages.]

"I told 'bout old master's death. Mama had done sent me out to feed the
chickens soon of a morning.

"Here was the smokehouse and there was a turkey in a coop. And when I
throwed it the feed I heard somethin' sounded just like you was draggin'
a brush over leaves. It come around the corner of the smokehouse and
look like a tall woman. It kept on goin' toward the house till it got to
the hickory nut tree and still sound like draggin' a brush. When it got
to the hickory nut tree it changed and look like a man. I looked and I
said, 'It's old master.' And the next day he got killed. I run to the
house and told mama, 'Look at that man.' She said, 'Shut your mouth, you
don't see no man.' Old miss heard and said, 'Who do you s'pose it could
be?' But mama wouldn't let me talk.

"But I know it was a sign that old master was goin' to die."


"I was born with a caul over my face. Old miss said it hung from the top
of my head half way to my waist.

"She kept it and when I got big enough she said, 'Now that's your veil,
you play with it.'

"But I lost it out in the orchard one day.

"They said it would keep you from seein' ha'nts."


"William Jimmerson's wife had a daughter was born blind, and she said it
was her husband's fault. She was delicate, you know, and one afternoon
she was layin' down and I was sittin' there fannin' her with a peafowl
fan. Her husband was layin' there too and I guess I must a nodded and
let the fan drop down in his face. He jumped up and pressed his thumbs
on my eyes till they was all bloodshot and when he let loose I fell down
on the floor. Miss Phenie said, 'Oh, William, don't do that.' I can
remember it just as well.

"My eyes like to went out and do you know, when her baby was born it was
blind. It's eyes just looked like two balls of blood. It died though,
just lived 'bout two weeks."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Fannie Parker
                    1908 W. Sixth Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 90?

"Yes, honey, this is old Fannie. I'se just a poor old nigger waitin' for
Jesus to come and take me to Heaven.

"I was just a young strip of a girl when the war come. Dr. M.C. Comer
was my owner. His wife was Elizabeth Comer. I said Marse and Mistis in
them days and when old mistress called me I went runnin' like a turkey.
They called her Miss Betsy. Yes Lord, I was in slavery days. Master and
mistress was bossin' me then. We all come under the rules. We lived in
Monticello--right in the city of Monticello.

"All I can tell you is just what I remember. I seed the Yankees. I
remember a whole host of 'em come to our house and wanted something to
eat. They got it too! They cooked it them selves and then they burned
everything they could get their hands on. They said plenty to me. They
said so much I don't know what they said. I know one thing they said I
belonged to the Yankees. Yes Lord, they wanted me to tell 'em if I was
free. I told 'em I was free indeed and that I belonged to Miss Betsy. I
didn't know what else to say. We had plenty to eat, plenty of hog meat
and buttermilk and cornbread. Yes ma'm--don't talk about that now.

"Don't tell me 'bout old Jeff Davis--he oughta been killed. Abraham
Lincoln thought what was right was right and what was wrong was wrong.
Abraham was a great man cause he was the President. When the rebels
ceded from the Union he made 'em fight the North. Abraham Lincoln
studied that and he had it all in his mind. He wasn't no fighter but he
carried his own and the North give 'em the devil. Grant was a good man
too. They tried to kill him but he was just wrapped up in silver and

"I remember when the stars fell. Yes, honey, I know I was ironin' and it
got so dark I had to light the lamp. Yes, I did!

"It's been a long time and my mind's not so good now but I remember old
Comer put us through. Good-bye and God bless you!"

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Subject: Ex-slavery
Story: Birth, Parents, Master.

Person Interviewed: J.M. Parker, (dark brown)
Address: 1002 Ringo Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
Occupation: Formerly a carpenter
Age: 76
[TR: Information moved from bottom of first page.]

"I was born in South Carolina, Waterloo, in Lawrence County, [HW:
Laurens Co.] in 1861, April 5th. Waterloo is a little town in South
Carolina. I believe that fellow shot the first gun of the war when I was
born. I knew then I was going to be free. Of course that is just a lie.
I made that up. Anyway I was born in 1861.

"Colonel Rice was our master. He was in the war too. The name Parker
came in by intermarriage, you see. My mother belonged to Rice. She could
have been a Simms before she married. My father's name was Edmund
Parker. He belonged to the Rices also. That was his master; Colonel Rice
and him were boys together. He went down there to Charleston, South
Carolina to build breastworks. While down there, he slipped off and
brought a hundred men away from Charleston back to Lawrence County where
the men was that owned them. He was a business man, father was. Brought
'em all through the swamps. They were slaves and he brought 'em all back
home. They all followed his advice.

"My mother's name was Rowena Parker after she married.

"Colonel Rice was a pretty fair man--a pretty good fellow. He was a
colonel in the war and stood pretty high. Bound to be that way by him
being a colonel. Seemed like him and my father had about the same number
of kids. He thought there was nobody like my mother. He never _whipped
the slaves himself_ but his _overseer would sometimes jump on them_. The
Rice family was very good to our people. The men being gone they were
left in the hands of the mistress. She never touched anybody. She never
had no reason to.


"Patterollers didn't bother us, but we were in that country. During the
war, most of the men that amounted to anything were in the war and the
patrolers didn't bother you much. The overseer didn't have so much power
over me than. That pretty well left the colored people to come up
without being abused during the war. The white folks was forced to go to
the war. They drafted them just like they do now. They'd shoot a _po'_
white man if he didn't come.


"My master didn't force men and women to marry. _He didn't_ put 'em
together just to get more slave. Some times other people would have
women and men just for that purpose. But there wasn't much of it in my

House, Stock, Parents' Occupations

"Our house was a frame building, boxed in with one-by-twelve like we
have here in the country. That was a good house with regular flooring,
tongue and groove. We was raised up in a good house. Old Colonel Rice
had to protect his standing. He had good stock. My father was a carriage
man. He had to keep those horses clean and they always looked good. That
carriage had to shine too. Colonel Rice was a high stepper. He'd take
his handkerchief and rub it over the horses hair to see if they were
really clean. He would always find 'em clean though when the old man got
through with them. He would drive fine stock. Had some fine horses.
Couldn't trust 'em with just anybody.

"My mother was cook. She helped Mrs. Rice take care of the kids, and
cooked around the house. She took care of her kids, too.

"The house we was born and bred in was built for a carriage house, but
somehow or 'nother they give it to us to live in. My mother being a
cook, she got what she wanted. That was a good house too. It was sealed.
It had good floors. It had two rooms. It had about three windows and
good doors to each room.

"We had just common furniture. Niggers didn't have much then. My father
was a good mechanic though and he would make anything he wanted. We
didn't have much, just common things. But all my people were mechanics,
harness makers, shoemakers,--they could make anything. Young Sam Parker
could make any kind of shoe. He made shoes for the white folks; Young
Jacob was a blacksmith; he made horseshoes and anything else out of
iron. He may still be living. In fact, he made anything he could get his
hands on. My young uncles on my mother's side, I don't know much about
them, because they were all mechanics. My grandfather on my mother's
side could make baskets--any kind--could make baskets that would hold

"My father had thirteen children. Three of them are living now. My
brother lives here in the city. He was born during the war and his
mother was supposed to be free when he was born.

Right After the War

"That's what my mother told me. I can remember a long ways back myself.
After the war, it wasn't long before they began to open up schools. They
used to run school three or four months a year. Both white and colored
in the country had about three or four months. That is all they had.
There weren't so very many white folks that took an interest in
education during slave time. Colored people got just about as much as
they did right after the war. What time we went to school we went the
whole day. We would come home and work in the evening like. We had
pretty fair teachers. All white then at first. They didn't have no
colored till afterwards. If they did, they had so few, I never heard of

"The first teacher I had was Katie Whitefold (white). That was in
Waterloo. Miss Richardson was our next teacher. She was white too. We
went to school two terms under white women. After that we began to get
teachers from Columbia, South Carolina, where the normal school was.

"The white teachers who taught us were people who had been raised right
around Waterloo. We never had no Northern teachers as I knows of. Our
first colored teacher was Murry Evans. He a preacher. He was one of our
leading preachers too. After him our colored women began to come in and
stand examination wasn't so hard at that time, but they made a good
showing. There were good scholars.

"I went to school too much. I went to school at Philander Smith College
some, too. I went a good piece in school. Come pretty near finishing the
English course (high school). I finished Good[HW: sp.?] Brown's 'Grammer
of Grammers'. Professor Backensto (the spelling is the interviewer's)
sent away and got it and sold it to us. We was his students. He was a
white man from the North and a good scholar. We got in those grammars
and got the same lessons they give him when he was in school--nine pages
a lesson and we had to repeat that lesson three times. When my mother
died, I was off in the normal school.

"Right after the war, my parents farmed. He followed his trade. That
always gave us something to eat you know. When we farmed, we
sharecropped--a third and a fourth--that is, we got a third of the
cotton and a fourth of the corn. Potatoes and things like that went
free. All women got an acre free. My mother always got an acre and she
worked it good too. She always had her bale of cotton. And if she didn't
have a bale, she laid it next to the white folks' and made it out. They
knew it and they didn't care. She stood well with the white people.
Helped all of 'em raise their children, and they all liked that.

"I went along with my father whenever he had a big job and needed help.
I got to be as good a carpenter as he was.

"I married out here. About eighty-five. People were emigrating to this
country. There was a boom to emigrating then. Emigrating was a little
dangerous when a man was trying to get hands. White folks would lay
traps and kill men that were taking away their hands--they would kill
white just as quick as they would black. I started out under a white
man--I can't remember his name. He turned me over to Madden, a colored
man who was raised in Waterloo. We came from there to Greenwood, South
Carolina where everything was straight. After that we had nothing to do
but get on the train and keep coming. We was with our agent then and we
had no more trouble after that.

"I got off at Brinkley over at Minor Gregory's farm. He needed hands
then and was glad to get us. He is dead now. I stayed in Brinkley the
space of about a year. Then he gave us transportation to Little Rock.
The train came from Memphis, and we struck out for Little Rock. I
married after I come to Little Rock. I forget what year. But anyway my
wife is dead and gone and all the children. So I'm single now.

Opinions of the Present

"I think times are about dead now. Things ought to get better. I believe
things are going to get better for all of us. People have got to think
more. People have got to get together more. War doesn't always make
thing better. It didn't after the Civil War. And it didn't after the
World War. The young people are all right in their way. It would just
take another war to learn 'em a lesson.


"I can't do any work now. I get a little help from the welfare. It
doesn't come regular. I need a check right now. I think it's due now.
But they haven't sent it out yet. That is, I haven't got it.

"I'm a Christian. All my family were Methodists. I belong to Wesley.

Interviewer: Mary D. Hudgins
Person Interviewed: Judy Parker
Home: 618 Wade Street, Hot Springs, Ark.
Aged: 77

For location of Wade Street, see interview with Emma Sanderson.

As the interviewer walked down Silver Street a saddle colored girl came
out on a porch for a load of wood.

"I beg your pardon," she began, pausing, "can you tell me where I will
find Emma Sanderson?"

"I sure can." The girl left the porch and came out to the street. "I'll
walk down with you and show you. That way it'll be easier. Kind of cold,
ain't it?"

"It surely is," this from the interviewer. "Isn't it too cold for you,
can't you just tell me? I think I can find it." The girl had expected to
be only on the porch and didn't have a coat.

"No, ma'am. It's all right. Now we're far enough for you to see. You see
those two houses jam up against one and 'tother? Well Miz Parker lives
in the one this way. I goes down to look after her most every day.
That's where you'll find her.--No ma'am--'twaren't no bother."

The gate sagged slightly at the house "this way" of the "two jam up
against one and 'tother." A large slab from an oak log in the front yard
near a woodpile bore mute evidence of many an ax blow. (Stove wood is
generally split in the rural South--one end of the "stick" resting
against the ground, the other atop a small log.)

Up a couple of rickety steps the interviewer climbed. She knocked three
times. When she was bade to enter she opened the door to find an old
woman sitting near a wood stove combing her long, white hair.

Mrs. Parker was expecting the visit. A few days before the interviewer
had had a visit from a couple of colored women who had "heard tell how
you is investigating the old people.--been trying to get on old age
pension for a long time--glad you come to get us on.----No? Oh, I see
you is the Townsend woman." (An explanation of her true capacity was
almost impossible for the interviewer.)

Mrs. Parker, however, seemed to comprehend the idea perfectly. She
expected nothing save the chance to tell her story. Her joy at the gift
of a quarter (the amount the interviewer set aside from her salary for
each interviewee) was pitiful. Evidently it had been a long time since
she had possessed a similar sum to spend exactly as she pleased.

"I don't rightly know how old I is. My mother used to tell me that I was
a little baby, six months old when our master, Joe Potts was his name,
got ready to clear out of Florida. You see he had heard tell of the war
scare. So he started drifting out of the way. Bet it didn't take him
long after he made up his mind. He was a right decided man. Mister Joe

"How did we like him? Well, he was always good to us. He was well
thought of. Seemed to be a pretty clever man, Mr. Joe did." ("Clever" in
plantation language like "smart" refers more to muscular than mental
activity. They might almost be used as synonyms for "hard working" on
the labor level.)

"So Mr. Joe got ready to go to Texas. Law, Miss, I don't rightly know
whether he had a family or not. Never heard my Mother say. Anyhow he
come through Arkansas intending to drift on out into Texas. But when he
got near the border 'twix't and between Arkansas and Texas he stopped.
The talk about war had about settled down. So he stopped. He stopped
near where the big bridge is. You know where Little River County is
don't you? He stopped and he started to work. Started to make a crop.
'Course I can't remember none about that. Just what my Mother told me.
But I remembers him from later.

"He went at it the good way. Settled down and tried to open up a home.
They put in a crop and got along pretty good. Time passed and the war
talk started floating again. That time he didn't pay much attention and
it got him. It was on a Sunday morning when he went away. I never knew
whether they made him go or not. But I kind of think they must of. Cause
he wouldn't have moved off from Florida if he had wanted to go to war.

"He took my daddy with him! Ma'am--did he take him to fight or to wait
on him--Don't know ma'am, but I sort of think he took him to wait on
him. But he didn't bring him back. My daddy got killed in the war. No
ma'am. I don't rightly know how he got killed. Never heard nobody say. I
was just a little girl--nobody bothered to tell me much.

"Yes, that we did. We stayed on on the farm and we made a crop--the old
folks did. Mr. Joe, when he went off, said "Now you stay on here, you
make a crop and you use all you need. Then you put up the rest and save
for me." He was a right good man, Mr. Joe was.

"No, we didn't never see no fighting. There wasn't nothing to be scared
of. Didn't see no Yankees until the war was through. Then they started
passing. Lawsey, I couldn't tell how many of them there was. More than
you could count.

"We had all stayed on. I was the oldest of my mother's children. But she
had two more after me. There was our family and my two uncles and my
grandmother. Then there was some other colored folks. But we wasn't
scared of the Yankees. Mr. Joe was there by that time. They camped all
around in the woods near us. They got us to do their washing. Lawsey
they was as filthy as hogs. I never see such folks. They asked Mr. Joe
if we could do their washing. Everything on the place that come near
those clothes got lousey. Those men was covered with them. I never see
nothing like it. We got covered with them. No, ma'am, we got rid of 'em
pretty easy. They ain't so hard to get rid of, if you keep clean.

"After it was all over Master Joe got ready to go back to Florida. He
took Warley and Jenny with him. They was children he had had by a black
woman--you know folks did such things in them days. He asked the rest of
us if they wanted to go back too. But my folks made up their minds they
didn't. You see, they didn't know how they'd get along and how long it
would take them to pay for the trip back, so they stayed right where
they was.

"Lots of 'em went to Rondo and some of us worked for Herb Jeans--he
lived farther up Red River. After my mother died I was with my
grandmother. She washed and cooked for Herb Jeans's family. I stayed on
with her, helped out until I got married. I was about fifteen when that
time come.

"My man owned his place. Sure he did. Owned it when I married him. He
owned it himself and farmed it good. Yes ma'am we stayed with the land.
He made good crops--corn and cotton, mostly. Course we raised potatoes
and the truck we needed--all stuff like that. Yes, ma'am we had thirteen
children. Just three of them's living. All of them is boys.

"Yes ma'am we got along good. My husband made good crops and we got
along just good. But 'bout eight years ago my husband he got sick. So he
sold out the farm--sold out everything. Then he come here.

"Before he died he spent every last cent--every last cent--left me to
get along the very best way I kin. I stays with my son. He takes care of
me. He don't make much, but he does the best he kin.

"No ma'am, I likes living down in the country. Down there near Red River
it's soft and sandy. Up here in Hot Springs the rocks tear up your feet.
If you's country raised--you like the country. Yes ma'am, you like the

As she left the interviewer handed her a quarter. At first the old
woman's face was expressionless. But she moved the coin nearer to her
eyes and a smile broke and widened until her whole face was a wrinkle of
joy. When she turned in the doorway, the interviewer noticed that the
hand jammed into an apron pocket was clutched into a possessive fist,
cradling the precious twenty five cents.

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: R.F. Parker
                    619 N. Hickory, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 76

"I was born in '62. I reckon I was born in slavery times. Born in Ripley
County, Missouri. Old man Billy Parker was my master, and my young
master was Jim Parker.

"They bought my mother in Tennessee when she was a child. I wasn't big
enough to remember much about slavery but I was big enough to know when
they turned my mother loose, and we come to Lawrence County, Arkansas.

"I remember my mother sayin' she had to plow while her young master, Jim
Parker, was off to war, but I don't know what side he was on.

"I remember seein' some soldiers ridin' down the road, about
seventy-five of 'em. I know I run under a corn pen and hid. I thought
they was after me. They stopped right there and turned their horses
loose 'round that pen. I can remember that all right. They went in the
white folks' house and took a shotgun. I know I remember hearin' mama
talk about it. I think they had on blue clothes.

"I was goin' on seven when we come to Arkansas. I know I'd walk a while
and she'd tote me a while. But we was lucky enough to get in with some
white people that was movin' to Arkansas. We was comin' to a place
called 'The Promised Land.' We stayed there till '92.

"I have farmed and done public work. I worked nine years at that heading
factory in the east end (of Pine Bluff).

"I used to vote. When I was in north Arkansas, I voted in all kinds of
elections. But after I come down here to Jefferson County, I couldn't
vote in nothin' but the presidential elections.

"I don't think the young people are goin' to amount to much. They are a
heap wilder than when I was young. They got a chance to graduate
now--something I didn't get to do.

"I never went to school a day in my life, but the white people where I
worked learned me to read and write."

Interviewer's Comment

This man could easily pass for a white person.

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Annie Parks
                    720 Pulaski Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: About 80
Occupation: Formerly house and field work

"I was born and raised in Mer Rouge, Louisiana. That is between here and
Monroe. I have been here in Little Rock more than twenty-five years.

"My mother's name was Sarah Mitchell. That was her married name. I don't
know what her father's name was. My father's name was Willis Clapp. He
was killed in the first war--the Civil War. My father went to the war
from Mer Rouge, Louisiana. I don't remember him at all. But that is what
my mother told me about him. My mother said he had very good people.
After he married my mother, old man Offord bought him. Offord's name was
Warren Offord. They buried him while I was still there in Mer Rouge. He
was a old-time Mason. That was my mother's master--in olden days.

"His grandmother took my mother across the seas with her. She (his
grandmother) died on shipboard, and they throwed her body into the
water. There's people denies it, but my mother told me it was so. Young
Davenport is still living. He is a relative of Offords. My mother never
did get no pension for my father.

Slave House and Occupation

"I was born in a log house. There were two doors--a front and a
back--and there were two windows. My mother had no furniture 'cept an
old-time wooden bed--big bed. She was a nurse all the time in the house.
I heard her say she milked and waited on them in the house. My father's
occupation was farming during slavery times.

"My mother always said she didn't have no master to beat on her. I like
to tell the truth. My mother's master never let no overseer beat his
slaves around. She didn't say just what we had to eat. But they always
give us a plenty, and there wasn't none of us mistreated.

"My father could have an extra patch and make a bale of cotton or
whatever he wanted to on it. That was so that he could make a little
money to buy things for hisself and his family. And if he raised a bale
of cotton on his patch and wanted to sell it to the agent, that was all


"I have a brother named Manuel Clayton. If he's living still, he is
younger than I am. He is the baby boy. I doesn't remember his father at
all. I had five sisters with myself and two brothers. All of them were
older than me except Manuel. My mother had one brother and two sisters.
Her brother's name was Lin Urbin. We always called him Big Buddy. He
hasn't been so long died. My older brother is named Willis Clayton--if
he's still living. Willis has a half dozen sons. He is my oldest
brother. He lives way out in the country 'round Mer Rouge.


"My mother said they promised to them money when they were freed. Some
of them gave them something, and some of them didn't. My mother's folks
didn't give her nothin'. The Government didn't give her nothin' either.
I don't know just who told her she was free nor how. I don't remember

Patrollers and Ku Klux

"I never heard much about pateroles. My mother said they used to whip
you if they would catch you out without a pass. I heard her talk about
the Ku Klux after freedom.

Slave Worship

"My mother could always go to church on Sunday. Her slave-time preacher
was Tom Johnson. Henry Soates and Watt Taylor were slavery-time
preachers too. Old man Jacob Anderson too was a great preacher in slave
time. There was a big arbor where they held church. That was outdoors.
There was just a wood frame and green leaves laid over it. Hundreds of
people sat under there and heard the Gospel preached. The Offords didn't
care how much you worshipped. If I was with them, I wouldn't have no

"In the winter time they had a small place to meet in. They built a
church after the war. When I went home, eight or nine years ago, I
walked all 'round and looked at all the old places.


"You know my remembrance comes and goes. I ain't had no good remembrance
since I been sick. I been mighty sick with high blood pressure. I can't
work and I can't even go out. I'm 'fraid I'll fall down and get myself
hurt or run over.


"I don't get no help 'cept what my daughter gives me. I can't get no Old
Age Pension. I never did get nothin' for my father. My mother didn't
either. He was killed in the war, but they didn't give nobody nothin'
for his death. They told me they'd give me something and then they told
me they wouldn't. I'm dependent on what my daughter does for me. If I
was back in Mer Rouge, I wouldn't have no trouble gettin' a pension, nor
nothin' else.

Slave Marriages on the Offord Plantation

"My mother said they just read 'em together, slavery times. I think she
said that the preacher married them on the Offord plantation. They
didn't get no license.


"They had quiltings and corn shuckings. I don't know what other
amusements they had, but I know everything was pleasant on the Offord

"If slaves went out without a pass, my mother said her master wouldn't
allow them to beat on them when they come in. They had plenty to eat,
and they had substantial clothes, and they had a good fire.


"I don't know how old I am. I was born before the war. My father went to
the war when it begun. I had another brother that was born before the
war. He don't remember nothin' about my father. I don't neither. I was
too young."

Interviewer's Comment

Allowing for a year's difference between the two youngest children, and
allowing that the boy was born immediately before the War, the girl
could not be younger than seventy-eight. She could be older. She states
all facts as through her mother, but she seems to have experienced some
of the things she relates. Her memory is fading. Failure to get pension
or old age assistance oppresses her mind. She comes back to it again and
again. She carries her card and her commodity order with her in her

She had asked me to write some letters for her when her daughter
interfered and said that she didn't want it done. She said that she had
told the case worker that her husband worked at the Missouri Pacific
Shop and that the case worker had asked her if she wouldn't provide for
her mother. They live in a neat rented house. The mother weighs about a
hundred and ten pounds and is tall. The daughter is about the same
height but weighs about two hundred and fifty. Time and again, the old
lady tried to convey to me a message that she didn't want her daughter
to hear, but I could not make it out. The daughter was belligerent, as
is sometimes the case, and it was only by walking in the very middle of
the straight and narrow path that I managed to get my story.

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Austin Pen Parnell
                    4314 W. Seventeenth Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: 73
Occupation: Carpenter

Birth and General Fact About Life

"I was born April fifteenth, 1865, the day Lincoln was assassinated, in
Carroll County, Mississippi, about ten miles from Grenada. It's about
half the distance between Grenada and Carrollton. Carrollton is our
county seat but we went to Grenada more than we went to Carrollton.

"When I got older, I moved to Grenada and I come from there here. I was
about thirty-five years old when I moved to Grenada. About 160 acres of
land in Grenada was mine. I bought it, but heirs claimed the place and I
had to leave. I had no land then, only a lot here and I came over here
to look it over. A lady had come to Mississippi selling property and she
had a plat which she said was in Little Rock not far from the capitol.
Her name was Mrs. Putman. The place was on the other side of the
Fourche. But I didn't know that until I came here. She misguided me. I
came to Arkansas and looked at the lot and didn't want it. I made a trip
over here twice before I settled on living in Little Rock. I told the
others who had bought property from her the truth about its location.
They asked me and I hate to lie. I didn't knock; I just answered
questions and didn't volunteer nothing. They all quit making their
payments, Just like I did. My land had a rock on it as big as a bale of

"Mr. Herring thought hard of me because I told the others the truth. I
went into the office one day and Mr. Herring said, 'Parnell, I
understand you have been knocking on me.' I said, 'Well, I'll tell you,
Mr. Herring, if telling the truth about things is knocking on them, I
certainly did.' He never said anything more about it, and I didn't

"I rented a place on Twelfth and Maple and then rented around there two
or three times, and finally bought a place at 3704 West Twelfth Street.
I moved to Little Rock March 18, 1911. That was twenty-seven years ago.


"My father was named Henry Parnell. He died in the year 1917 in the time
of the great war. He was ninety-five years old when he died. His master
had the same name. My mother's name was Priscilla Parnell. She belonged
to the same family as he did. They married before freedom. My father was
a farmer and my mother was a housewife and she'd work in the field too.

"My grandmother on my mother's side was named Hester Parnell. I don't
know what her husband's name was. My mother, father, and grandmother
were all from North Carolina. My grandmother did house and field work.


"My mother and father lived in a two-room house hewed out of big
logs--great big logs. The logs were about four inches thick and twelve
inches wide. It didn't take many of them to build a wall--about ten or
twelve of them on a side. They were notched down so as to almost come
together. They chinked up the cracks with mud and covered it with a

"I laid in bed many a night and looked up through the cracks in the
roof. Snow would come through there when it snowed and cover the bed
covers. We thought you couldn't build a roof so that it would keep out
rain and snow, but we were mistaken. Before you would make a fire in
them days, you had to sweep out the snow so that it wouldn't melt up in
the house and make a mess. But we kept healthy just the same. Didn't
have no pneumonia in those days.

"The house had two rooms about eight feet apart. The rooms were
connected by a hall which we called a gallery in those days. The hall
was covered by the same roof as the house and it had the same floor. The
house sot east and west and had a chimney in each end. The chimneys were
made out of sticks and mud. I can build a chimney now like that.

"It was large at the bottom and tapered at the top. It was about six or
seven feet square at the bottom. It grew smaller as it went toward the
top. You could get a piece of wood three and a half or four feet long in
the boddom of it. Sometimes the wood would be too large to carry and you
would just have to roll it in.

"The floors was boards about one by twelve. There were two doors in each
room--one leading outside and the other to the hall. If there were any
windows, I can't remember them. We didn't need no windows for

"This was the house that I remember first after freedom. I remember
living in it. That was about seven or eight years after freedom. My
father rented it from the big man named Alf George for whom he worked.
Mr. George used to come out and eat breakfast with us. We'd get that
hoecake out of the ashes and wash it off until it looked like it was as
clean as bread cooked in a skillet. I have seen my grandmother cook a
many a one in the fire. We didn't use no skillet for corn bread. The
bread would have a good firm crust on it. But it didn't get too hard to
eat and enjoy.

"She'd take a poker before she put the bread in and rake the ashes off
the hearth down to the solid stone or earth bottom, and the ashes would
be banked in two hills to one side and the other. Then she would put the
batter down on it; the batter would be about an inch thick and about
nine inches across. She'd put down three cakes at a time and let 'em
stay there till the cakes were firm--about five minutes on the bare hot
hearth. They would almost bake before she covered them up. Sometimes she
would lay down as many as four at a time. The cakes had to be dry before
they were covered up, because if the ashes ever stuck to them while they
were wet, there would be ashes in them when you would take them out to
eat. She'd take her poker then and rake the ashes back on the top of the
cakes and let 'em stay there till the cakes were done. I don't know just
how long--maybe about ten or twelve minutes. She knew how long to cook
them. Then she'd rake down the hearth gently, backward and forward, with
the poker till she got down to them and then she'd put the poker under
them and lift them out. That poker was a kind of flat iron. It wasn't a
round one. Then we'd wash 'em off like I told you and they be ready to

"Mr. George would eat the ash cake and drink sweet milk. 'Auntie, I want
some of that ash cake and some of that good sweet milk.' We had plenty
of cows.

"Two-thirds of the water used in the ash cake was hot water, and that
made the batter stick together like it was biscuit dough. She could put
it together and take it in her hand and pat it out flat and lay it on
the hearth. It would be just as round! That was the art of it!

"When I go back to Mississippi, I'm going back to that house again. I
don't remember seeing the house I was born in. But I was told it was an
ordinary log house just like those all the other slaves had,--just a
one-room log house.


"My father went to the War. He was on the Confederate side. They carried
him there as a worker. They cut down all the timber 'round the place
where they were to keep the Yankee gunboats from shelling them and
knocking the logs down on them. But them Yankees were sharp. They stayed
away till everything got dry as a chip. Then they come down and set all
that wood afire with their shells, and the wind seemed to be in their
favor. The Rebels had to get away from there.

"He got sick before the War closed and he had to come home. His young
master and the other folks stayed there four or five months longer. His
young master was named Tom. When Tom came home, he waited about five or
six months before he would tell them they was free. Then he said, 'You
all free as I am. You can stay here if you want or you can go. You are
free.' They all got together and told him that if he would treat them
right he wouldn't have to do no work. They would stay and do his work
and theirs too. They would work the land and he would give them their
part. I don't know just what the agreement was. I think it was about a
third. Anyway, they worked on shares. When the landlord furnished a team
usually it was halves. But when the worker furnished his own team, it
was usually two-thirds or three-fourths that the worker got. But none of
them owned teams at that time. They were just turned loose. We stayed
there with them people a good while. I don't know just how long, but it
was several years.

Catching a Hog

"One time a slave went to steal a hog. I don't know the name of the man;
I just hear my father tell what happened, and I'm repeating it. It was a
great big hog and kind of wild. His plan to catch the hog was to climb a
tree and carry a yeer of corn up the tree and at the same time he'd
carry a long rope. He had put a running noose in the end of the rope and
laid it on the ground and shelled the corn into the ring. He had the
other end of the rope tied around himself; he was up the tree. About the
time he got the noose pulled up around the hog so that he could tighten
up on it, he dropped his hat and scared the hog. The hog didn't know he
was around until the hat fell, and the falling of the hat scared it so
that it made a big jump and ran a little ways off. That jerked the man
out of the tree. Him falling scared the hog a second time and got him to
running right. He was a big stout hog, and the man's weight didn't hold
him back much. The man didn't know what to do to stop the hog. The hog
was running draggin' him along, snatching him over logs. There was
nothin' else he could do, so he tried prayer. But the hog didn't stop.
Seemed like even the Lord couldn't stop him. Then he questioned the
Lord; he said, 'Lawd, what sawt [HW: sort] of a Lawd is you? You can
stop the wind; you can stop the rain; you can stop the ocean; but you
can't stop this hog.'

"The hog ran till he came to a big ditch. He jumped the ditch, but the
man fell in it, and that compelled the hog to stop. The man's hollering
made somebody hear him and come and git him loose from the hog. He was
so glad to git loose, he didn't mind losing the hog and gettin'
punished. He didn't get the hog. He just got a lot of bruises. I don't
remember just how they punished him.

Ku Klux Klan

"Once after the War there was a lot of colored people at a prayer
meeting. It was in the winter and they had a fire. The Ku Klux come up.
They just stood outside the door, but the people thought they were
coming in and they got scared. They didn't know hardly how to get out.
One man got a big shovelful of hot coals and ashes out of the fireplace
and threw it out over them, and while they was dusting off the ashes and
coals, the niggers all got away.


"I remember my father telling tales about the patrollers, but I can't
remember them just now. There was an old song about them. Part of it
went like this:

  'Run, nigger, run
  The pateroles'll get you.

  That nigger run
  That nigger flew
  That nigger bust
  His Sunday shoe.

  Run, nigger, run
  The pateroles'll get you.'

That's all I know of that. There is more to it. I used to hear the boys
sing it, and I used to hear 'em pick it out on the banjo and the guitar.

Old Massa Goes 'Way

"Old massa went off one time and left the niggers. He told 'em that he
was goin' to New York. He jus' wanted to see what they would do if they
thought he was away. The niggers couldn't call the name New York, and
they said, 'Old massa's gone to PhilameYawk.'

"They went in the pantry and got everything they wanted to eat. And they
had a big feast. While they were feasting, the old man came in disguised
as a tramp--face smutty and clothes all dirty and raggedy. They couldn't
tell who he was. He walked up just as though he wanted to eat and begged
the boys for something to eat. The boys said to him, 'Stan' back, you
shabby rascal, you; _if'n_ they's anything left, you get some; _if'n_
they ain't none left, you get none. This is our time. Old massa done
gone to PhilameYawk and we're having a big time.'

"After they were through, they did give him a little something but they
still didn't know him. I never did learn the details about what happened
after they found out who the tramp was. My father told me about it.

Whipping a Slave

"I heard my father say his old master give him two licks with a whip
once. Him and another man had been off and they came in. Master drove up
in a double surrey. He had been to town and had bought the boys a pair
of boots apiece. He told them as he got out of the surrey to take his
horses out and feed them. My father's friend was there with him and he
said: 'Le's get our boots before we feed the horses.' After that the
master walked out on the porch and he had on crying boots. The horses
heard them squeaking and they nickered.

"Master said, 'Henry, I thought I told you to feed them horses. Henry
was so taken aback that he couldn't say a thing. Henry was my father,
you know. Master went and got his cowhide. He said, 'Are you going to
obey my orders?' About the time he said that, he hit my father twice
with the cowhide, and my father said, 'Oh pray, master, oh pray,' and he
let him go. He beat the other fellow pretty bad because he told him to
'Le's get the boots first.'

"Old master would get drunk sometimes and get on the niggers and beat
them up. He would have them stark naked and would be beating them. Then
old missis would come right out there and stop him. She would say, 'I
didn't come all the way here from North Carolina to have my niggers beat
up for nothin'.' She'd take hold of the cowhide, and he would have to
quit. My father had both her picture and the old man's.


"I can remember how my mother used to pray out in the field. We'd be
picking cotton. She would go off out there in the ditch a little ways.
It wouldn't be far, and I would listen to her. She would say to me:
'Pray, son,' and I would say, 'Mother, I don't know how to pray,' and
she would say, 'Well, just say Lord have mercy.' That gave me religious
inclinations. I cultivated religion from that time on. I would try to
pray and finally I learned. One day I was out in the field and it was
pouring down rain, and I was standing up with tears in my eyes trying to
pray as she taught me to. We weren't picking cotton then. I was just
walking out. My mother was dead. I would be walking out and whenever I
would get the notion I would stop right there and go to praying.

"In slave times, they would have a prayer meeting out in some of the
places and they would turn a pot down out in front of the door. It would
be on a stick or something and raised up a short distance from the
ground so that it wouldn't set flat on the ground. It seems that that
would catch the sound and keep it right around there. They would sing
that old song:

  'We will camp awhile in the wilderness
   And then I'm going home.'

I don't know any more of the words of that song.

Early Schooling

"I started to school when I was about six or seven years old. I didn't
get to school regular because my father had plenty of work and he had a
habit of taking me out to help him when he needed me in his work.

"My first teacher was a white man named Jones. I don't remember his
first name. He was a northerner and a Republican. He taught in the
public school with us. His boy, John, and his girl, Louisa, went to the
same school, and were in classes with us. The kids would beat them up
sometimes but he didn't cut up about it. He was pretty good man.

"After him, I had a colored man named M.E. Davis as a teacher. He would
say to my father, 'Henry, that is a bright boy; he will be a credit to
you if you will keep him at school and give him a chance. Don't make him
lose so much time.' My father would say, 'Yes, that is right.' But as
soon as another job came up, he would keep me out again.

"I soon got so my learning was a help to him in his work. Whenever any
figuring was to be done, I had to do it if it was done right. He never
had a chance to get any schooling and he couldn't figure well. So they
used to beat him out of plenty when he would work for them. One day we
had picked cotton for a white man and when the time came to pay off, the
man paid father, but I noticed that he didn't give him all he should
have. I didn't say anything while we was standing there but after we got
away I said, 'Papa, he didn't give you the right money.'

"Papa said, 'How much should he have given me?'

"I told him, and he said to me, 'Will you say that to him?'

"I said, 'Yes, papa.'

"He turned 'round and we went on back to the place and pa said, 'My boy
says you didn't pay me all that was comin' to me.'

"The white man turned to me at once and said, 'How much was coming to

"I told him.

"He said, 'What makes you think that?'

"I said, 'We picked so many pounds of cotton at so much per hundred
pounds, and that would amount to so many dollars and so many cents.'

"When I said that, he fell over on the ground and like to killed his
self laughing. He counted out the right money to my father and said,
'Henry, you better watch that little skinny-eyed nigger; he knows

Present Support

"I don't got anything from the government. I live by what little I make
at odd jobs."

Note: In this interview this man used correct English most of the time
and the interview is given in his own words. Lapses into dialect will be

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Ben Parr, Brinkley, Arkansas
Age: 85 next March (1938)

"I was born in Tennessee close to Ripley. My master was Charles Warpoo
and Catherine Warpoo. They had three boys and two girls. They owned my
mama and me and Gentry was the oldest child. He died last year. My mama
raised twelve children. My papa belong to people over on the Mississippi
River. Their name was Parr but I couldn't tell a thing about them. When
I come to know about them was after freedom. There was Jim Parr, Dick
Parr, Columbus Parr. We lived on their place. Both my parents was farm
hands, and all twelve children wid them.

"Well, the first I recollect is that we lived on the five acre lot, the
big house, and some of the slaves lived in houses around the big yard
all fenced with pailings and nice pickett fence in front of Charlie
Warpoo's house. We played around under the trees all day. The soldiers
come nearly every day and nearly et us out of house and home. The blue
coats seemed the hungriest or greediest pear lack. They both come.
Master didn't go to war; his boys was too young to go, so we was all at
home. My papa shunned the war. He said he didn't give a pickayune
whether he be free or not, it wouldn't do no good if he be dead nohow.
He didn't live with us doe (though). They kept papa pretty well hid out
with stock in the Mississippi River bottoms. He wasn't scared ceptin'
when he come over to see my mama and us. When we come to know anything
we was free.

"I never seen nobody sold. None of my folks was sold. The folks raised
my mama and they didn't want her to leave. The folks raised papa what
had him at freedom. He said him and mama was married long before the war
sprung up. I don't know how they married nor where. She was young when
they married.

"I remember hearing mama say when you went to preaching you sit in the
back of the church and sit still till the preaching was all over. They
had no leaving.

"I know when I was a child people raised children, now they let them
grow up. Children was sent off or out to play, not sit and listen to
what grown folks had to say. Now the children is educated and too smart
to listen to good advice. They are going to ruination. Mama used to have
our girls knit at night and she spin, weave, sew. They would tell us how
to be polite and honest and how to work. Young folks too smart to take
advice now.

"Mama was cooking at the Warpoo's house; she cooked breakfast. One
morning I woke up and here was a yard full of 'Feds.' I was hungry. I
went through the whole regiment--a yard full--to mama hard as I could
split. They didn't bother me. I was afraid they would carry me off
sometimes. They was great hands to tease and worry the little Negro

"Over at Dyersburg, Tennessee the Ku Klux was bad. Jefferie Segress was
pretty prosperous, owned his own home. John Carson whooped him, cut his
ear off, treated him bad. High Sheriff they said was a 'Fed.' He put
twenty-four buck shots in John Carson. That was the last of the Ku Klux
at Dyersburg. The Negroes all left Dyersburg. They kept leaving. The
'Feds' was meaner to them than the owners. In 1886, three weeks before
Christmas, one hundred head of Negroes got off the train here at
Brinkley. The Ku Klux was the tail end of the war, whooping around. It
was a fight between the 'Feds' and the old owners--both sides telling
the Negroes what to do. The best way was stay at home and work to keep
out of trouble.

"The bushwhackers killed Raymond Jones (black man) before the war
closed. Well, I don't know what they ambushed for.

"I paid my own way to Arkansas. I brought my wife. Mama was dead.

"If the Negro is a taxpayer he ought to vote like white folks. But they
can't run the government. That was tried out after that war we been
talking about. Our color has faith in white folks and this is their
country. I vote some. We got a good right to vote. We helped clear out
the country. It is our home now.

"The present times is too fast. I can't place this young generation.

"This is my second wife I'm living wid now. She's got children. I never
had a child. We gets $10 off of the Welfare and I work around at pick-up
jobs. I farmed all my whole life."

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Frank A. Patterson
                    906 Chester Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: 88

"I was born in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1850. My father was born in
Baltimore, Maryland. My mother and father was sold into Bibb County,
Georgia. I don't know how much they sold for. I don't know how much they
paid for them. I don't know how much the speculator asked for them. Used
to have them in droves and you would go in and pick 'em out and pay
different amounts for them.

"I was never sold. My old boss didn't believe in selling slaves. He
would buy 'em but he wouldn't sell 'em. I'll say that much for him.


"I belonged to a man named Thomas Johnson Cater.


"They lived in log houses. Some of them had weatherboard houses but the
majority of them was log houses. Two doors and one window. Some of them
had plank floors. Some of them had floors what was hewed, you know,
sills. They had stick and dirt chimneys. Some of them had brick
chimneys. It depended on the master--on the situation of the master.


"They just had bunks built up side the wall. The best experienced
colored people had these teester beds. Didn't have no slats. Had ropes.
They called 'em cord beds sometimes. They had tables just like we have
now what they made themselves. Chairs were long benches made out of
planks. Little kids had big blocks to sit on where they sawed off

"They had what they called a cupboard to keep the food in. Some of them
had chests made out of planks, you know. That is the way they kept it.
They put a hasp and steeple on it so as to keep the children out when
they was gone to the field.


"They give 'em three pounds of meat a week, peck of meal, pint of
molasses; some of them give 'em three to five pounds of flour on a
Sunday morning according to the size of the family. The majority of them
had shorts from the wheat. Some of the slaves would clean up a flat in
the bottoms and plant rice in it. That was where they would allow the
slaves to have truck patches.

"Some few of them had chickens that was allowed to have them. Same of
them had owners that wouldn't allow their slaves to own chickens. They
never allowed them to have hogs or cows. Wherever there was a family
that had a whole lot of children they would allow them to have a cow to
milk for to get milk for their children. They claimed the cow, but the
master was the owner of it. It belonged to him. He would just let them
milk it. He would just let them raise their children off of the milk it


"There was no child ever had a pair of shoes until he got old enough to
go in the field. That was when he was twelve years old. That is about
all I know about it.


"I never went to school in my life. I got hold of one of them old blue
back spelling books. My young boss gave it to me after I was free. He
told me that I was free now and I had to think and act for myself.

Signs of War

"Before the War I saw the elements all red as blood and I saw after that
a great comet; and they said there was going to be a war.

Memories of the Pre-War Campaign

"When Fillmore, Buchanan, and Lincoln ran for President one of my old
bosses said, 'Hurrah for Buchanan,' and I said, 'Hurrah for Lincoln.'
One of my mistresses said, 'Why do you say, 'Hurrah for Lincoln?' And I
said, 'Because he's goin' to set me free.'

"During that campaign, Lincoln came to North Carolina and ate breakfast
with my master. In those days, the kitchen was off from the house. They
had for breakfast ham with cream gravy made out of sweet milk and they
had biscuits, poached eggs on toast, coffee and tea, and grits. They had
waffles and honey and maple syrup. That was what they had for breakfast.

"He told my old boss that our sons are 'ceivin' children by slaves and
buyin' and sellin' our own blood and it will have to be stopped. And
that is what I know about that.


"At the close of the War, we had refugeed down in Houston County in

War Memories

"Sherman's army came through there looking for Jeff Davis, and they told
me that they wasn't fightin' any more,--that I was free.

"They said, 'You ain't got no master and no mistress.' They et dinner
there. All the old folks went upstairs and turned the house over to me
and the cook. And they et dinner. One of them said, 'My little man,
bring your hat 'round now and we are going to pay you,' and they passed
the hat 'round and give me a hat full of money. I thought it wasn't no
good and I carried it and give it to my old mistress, but it was good.

"They asked me if I had ever seen Jeff Davis. I said 'No.' Then they
said, 'That's him sittin' there.' He had on a black dress and a pair of
boots and a mantilla over his shoulders and a Quaker bonnet and a black

"They got up from the dining table and Sherman ordered them to 'Recover
arms.' He had on a big black hat full of eagles and he had stars and
stripes all over him. That was Sherman's artillery. They had mules with
pots and skillets, and frying pans, and axes, and picks, grubbing hoes,
and spades, and so on, all strapped on those mules. And the mules didn't
have no bridles but they went on just as though they had bridles. One of
the Yanks started a song when he picked up his gun.

  'Here's my little gun
  His name is number one
  Four and five rebels
  We'll slay 'em as they come
  Join the ban'
  The rebels understan'
  Give up all the lan'
  To my brother Abraham
  Old Gen'l Lee
  Who is he?
  He's not such a man
  As our Gen'l Grant
  Snap Poo, Snap Peter
  Real rebel eater
  I left my ply stock
  Standin' in the mould
  I left my family
  And silver and gold
  Snap Poo, Snap Peter
  Real rebel eater
  Snap Poo, Snap Peter.'

"And General Sherman gave the comman', 'Silence', and 'Silence' roared
one man, and it rolled all down the line, 'Silence, silence, silence,
silence.' And they all got silent.

How Freedom Came

"They had a notification for a big speaking and that was in Perry,
Georgia. Everybody that was able throughout the State went to that
convention where that speaking was. And that is where peace was
declared. Every man was his own free agent. 'No more master, no more
mistress. You are your own free moral agent. Think and act for
yourself.' That is how it was declared. I didn't go to the meeting. I
was right there in the town. There was too many people there. You
couldn't stir them with hot fire. But my mother and father went.

What the Slaves Expected

"They didn't expect anything but freedom. Some of them didn't have sense
enough to secure a home for themselves. They didn't have no sense. Some
of them wasn't eligible to speak for themselves. They wanted somebody to
speak for them.

What They Got

"I don't know that they got anything.

Immediately After the War

"Right after the War, I stayed with the people that owned me and worked.
They give me two dollars a month and my food and clothes. I stayed with
them five years and then I quit. I had sense enough to quit and I went
to work for wages. I got five dollars a month. And I thought that was a
big salary. I didn't know no better. I learnt better by experience.

Negroes in Politics

"Just after the War, the Republicans used to have representatives at the
state convention. After the Democrats got in power, they knocked all
that in the head. Colored people used to be on juries. But they won't
let them serve now. (Negroes served on local grand jury last year.)

"I knew one nigger politician in Georgia named I.B. Simons. He was a
school-teacher. He never held any office. I knowed a nigger politician
here by the name of John Bush. He had the United States Land Office.
When the Democrats got in power they put him out. I knowed another
fellow used to be here named Crockett Brown. He lived in Lee County,
Arkansas. He was a Congressman. I don't know whether he ever got to the
White House or not. I ain't never seen no account of it. I can't tell
you all any more now.

Memories of Fred Douglass

"I knowed Fred Douglass. I shook hands with him and talked with him here
in Little Rock. They give him the opera house. We had the first floor.
The white folks had the gallery. That was when the Republicans were in

"He said: 'They all seem to be amazed and dumbfounded over me having a
white woman for a wife.' He said, 'You all don't know that my father was
my mother's master and she was as black as a crow. Don't it seem natural
that history should repeat itself? have often wondered why he liked such
a black woman as my mother. I was jus' a chip off the old block.'


"I voted for U.S. Grant. He was the first President we had after the
Civil War. I shook hands with him twice in Little Rock. He put up at the
Capitol Hotel and I was a-cooking there.

"I voted for McKinley. I saw him too. I had a walking cane with his head
on it. That is about all I remember right now. He was the one that got
up this gold standard. He liked to put this state under bayonet laws
when he was working under that gold standard. The South was bitterly
against him.


"I followed cooking all my life. I have had the white peoples' lives in
my hand all my life. I worked on the Government boat, _Wichita_. It went
out of season and they built a boat called the _Arkansas_. I cooked on
it. Captain Griffin was the master of it. When it went out of service,
Captain Newcome from the War Department transferred me over to the
Mississippi River on the _Arthur Hider_ (?). My headquarters were in
Greenville, Mississippi. It was far from home, so after nine months I
quit and came home (Little Rock). Captain Van Frank give me a position
on a dredge boat and the people were so bad on there I wouldn't stay. I
came away. I wouldn't stay 'mongst 'em.


"I want you to know that I am a Christian and I want you to know I ain't
got no compromise with nobody on God's word. I ain't got but one way and
that is the way Jesus said:

Come unto me all ye that are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
He that believeth on me shall be saved.

You all fix anything anyway you want. I ain't bothered 'bout you.

"My people were good Christian people."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: John Patterson, Helena, Arkansas
Age: 74

"I was born near Paducah, Kentucky. Mother was never sold. She belong to
Master Arthur Patterson. Mother was what folks called black folks. I
never seen a father to know. I never heard mother say a thing about my
father if I had one. He never was no use to me nor her neither. Mother
brought me here in time of the Civil War. I was four years old. We come
here to be kept from the Yankee soldiers. We was sent with some of the
Pattersons. At the end of the war mother cooked for Nick Rightor (?) and
his wife here in North Helena. He was a farmer but his son is a ear,
eye, nose specialist.

"I farmed, cleaned house and yards for these Helena people. I was
janitor at the Episcopal church in Helena sixteen years and four months.
They paid me forty-five dollars a month.

"Yes ma'am, I have heard about the Ku Klux. Heard talk but never seen

"I never been in jail. I never been drunk. Folks in Helena will tell you
John Patterson can be trusted.

"I saved up one thousand dollars, just let it slip. The present times
are hard. Times are hard. I get ten dollars and comissary helps. I got
one in family.

"I think mother said she was treated very good in slavery. She didn't
tell me much about it.

"I own a home. It come through a will from my aunt. My uncle was a
drayman here in Helena and a close liver. I want to hold to it if I can.

"If you'd ask me what all ain't took place since I been here I could
come nigh telling you. We had colored officers here. Austin Barrer was
sheriff. Half of the officers was colored at one time. John Jones was
police. No, they wasn't friends of mine. I seen these levies built. One
was here in 1897. It was rebuilt then.

"It seems to me the country is going down. When they put in the Stock
Law people had to sell so much stock. Milch cows sold for six dollars a
head. People that want and need stock have no place to raise it. People
are not as industrious as they was and they accumolate more it seems to
me. We used to make our living at home. I think that is the best way.

"I voted a Republican ticket years ago. I don't believe in women voting.
The Lord don't believe in that. I belong to the Baptist church.

"Young folks don't act on education principles. Folks used to fight with
fist. Now one shoots the other down. Times are not improving morally.
Folks don't even think it is wrong to take things; that is stealing.
They drink up all the money they can get. I don't see no colored folks
ever save a dollar. They did long time ago. Thaes worse in some ways.

"I forgot our plough songs:

  'I wonder where my darling is.'

  'Nigger makes de cotton and de
   White man gets the money.'

"Everybody used to sing. We worked from sun to sun; we courted and was
happy. People not happy now. They are craving now. About four o'clock we
all start up singing. Sing till dark."

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Sarah Jane Patterson
                    2611 Orange Street, North Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: 90

"I was born in Bartow County, Georgia, January 17, 1848. You can go
there and look in that Bible over there and you will find it all written
down. My mama kept a record of all our ages. Her old mistress kept the
record and gave it to my mother after freedom.


"My parents were Joe Patterson and Mary Adeline Patterson. My mother's
name before she married was Mary Adeline Huff. My grandfather on my
mother's side was named Huff. My mother's sisters were Mahala, and
Sallie. And them's the onliest two I remember. She had two brothers but
I don't remember their names.

How Freedom Came

"I was living in Bartow County in north Georgia when freedom came. I
don't remember how the slaves found it out. I remember them saying,
'Well, they's all free.' And that is all I remember. And I remember some
one saying--asking a question, 'You got to say master?' And somebody
answered and said, 'Naw.' But they said it all the same. They said it
for a long time. But they learned better though.


"I have brother Willis, Lizzie, Mary, Maud, and myself. There was four
sisters and one brother. I had just one child--a boy. He lived to be a
grown man and raised a family. His wife had three children and all of
them is gone. The father, the mother, and the children. I was a woman. I
wasn't no man. I just had one child, but the Lord blessed me. I have
three sisters and a brother dead.


"My old master's name was John Patterson and my old mistress was named
Lucy Patterson. She had a son named Bill and a son named Tommy and a son
named Charles, and a boy named Bob, and a girl named Marion. We are so
for apart they can't help me none. I know Bob's boys are dead because
they got killed in a fight in Texas.

Crippled in Slave Time

"I been crippled all my life. We was on the lawn playing and the white
boy had been to the pond to water the horses. He came back and said he
was going to run over us. We all ran and climbed up on the top of a ten
rail fence. The fence gave 'way and broke and fell down with us. I
caught the load. They all fell on me. It knocked the knee out of place.
They carried me to Stilesboro to Dr. Jeffrey, a white doctor in slavery
time. I don't know what he did, but he left me with my knee out of joint
after he treated it. I can't work my toes and I have to walk with that


"I was a tot when I seen the soldiers coming dressed in blue, and I run.
They was very nice to the colored people, never beat 'em or nothin'. I
was in Bartow County when they come through. They took a lot of things,
but I can't remember exactly what it was. I 'tended to the children
then--both the white and colored children, but mostly the white.

Good Masters

"My old master, John Patterson, never beat up the women and men he


"I have heard people talk about the pateroles raising sand with the
niggers. Some of the niggers would say they got whipped. I was small. I
would hear 'em say, 'The pateroles is out tonight.'

Ku Klux Klan

"I have seed the old Ku Klux. That was after freedom. They came 'round
to my old master where my mama stayed. They were just after whipping
folks. Some of them they couldn't whip.


"I used to get a little money from Mr. Dent long as he was living. I
would go over there and he would give me a dollar or two. Since he's
been dead, his wife don't have much to give me. She gives me something
to eat sometimes but she doesn't have any money now that her husband is

"I can't get up to the Welfare. Crippled as I am, I can't walk up and
down those stairs, and I can't git there nohow. I been tryin' to git
some one to take me up there.

"Mr. Pratt helps me from time to time, but he ain't sent me nothin' now
in a good while. He's right smart busy, but if I go to him, I spect
he'll stir up somethin' for me.


"I wouldn't never a left Bartow County, but the white people made out
that this was a rich country and you could make so much out here, and we
moved out here. We was young then. We came out on the train. It was a
long time back but it was too far to came on a wagon. I don't remember
just how long ago it was.


"I used to quilt until my fingers got too stiff. I got some patterns in
there now if you want to see them."

Interviewer's Comment

The old lady took me in the house and showed me about a dozen quilts,
beautifully patterned and made. She had also some unfinished tops. She
says that she does not have much of a sale for them now because the
"quality of folks" who liked such things well enough to buy them "is
just about gone."

She is crippled and unable to walk with facility. She has a great deal
of difficulty in getting off and on her porch. Still she does not
impress one as feeble so much as just disabled in one or two
particulars. She has a crippled knee, and both of her hands are
peculiarly stiff in the finger joints, one more so than the other. If it
were not for the disabilities, as old as she is, I believe that she
could give a good account of herself.

I didn't have the heart to tell the old lady that her Bible record is
not what she thinks it is. It is not the old original record which her
mistress possessed. Neither is it the copy of the record of her mistress
which her mother kept. From questioning, I gather that the old mistress
dictated the original record to some one connected with her mother,
might have written it out herself on a sheet of paper. From time to
time, as new deaths and births occurred, scraps of paper containing them
were added to the first paper, and as the papers got worn, blurred, and
dog-eared, they were copied--probably not without errors. Time came when
the grandchildren up in the grades and with _semi-modern_[HW:?] ideas
copied the scraps into the family Bible. By that time aging and blurring
of the original lead pencil notes, together with recopying, had
invalidated the record till it is no longer altogether reliable.

The births recorded in the Bible are as follows and in the exact order
given below:

  Mary Patterson       10-11-1866
  Harris Donesson       3-13-  72
  Lilley Donesson       7-21-  85
  Pearly Donesson       3-29-  92
  Silvay Williams       8-29-  84
  Beney Williams       11-24-  85
  Millia A. Williams   12-30-  88
  Joe Patterson        10- 3-  77
  H. Patterson          7-29-  79
  Maria E. Patterson   11-19-  81
  Jennie Patterson     12-24-  84
  Alex Patterson        7- 5-  86
  James Patterson       6-20-  90
  Janie Patterson       1-27-  60
  Amanda Patterson      1-28-  63
  James Rafield Walker  8-11-  99
  Cornelius Walker      7-21-1902
  Willie Walker        11-20-  03
  Elias Walker          7-21-  11
  Emmet Brown           1-23-  22
  Leon Harris          12-13-  21

The following marriages were given:

  May Lee Brown         2-26-1926
  James Walker Brown    2-21-  35
  Jennie Walker         6-20-  15
  Lillie Jean Walker    12-6-  36

The name of Sarah Jane Patterson is not in the list. The list itself is
not chronological. It is written in ink but in the stiff cramped hand to
be expected of a school child not yet thoroughly familiar with the pen.
The eye fixes on the name of Janie Patterson, 1-27-1860. It does not
seem probable that this is correct if it is meant to be Sarah Jane.
Sarah Jane could give no help except to answer questions about the
manner in which the record was made.

These considerations led me to set the record aside in my own mind so
far as Sarah Jane Patterson's age is concerned and to take her word. She
has a very clear conception of the change from slavery to freedom. Her
memories are blurred and indistinct, but she recollects that this matter
was during slavery times and that during freedom. It seems that she had
the care of the smaller children during slavery time--at the time she
saw the soldiers marching through. This was not during the time of
freedom, because she distinguished clearly the Ku Klux time. She would
have to be at least eighty to have cared for children. Her tenacious
memory of ninety may have some foundation, therefore.

Moreover where writing is done in lead pencil and hurriedly, six is
often made to look like four and a part of eight may become blurred till
it looks like a zero. That would account for 1848 being transcribed as
1860. There would be nothing unusual, however, in a Sarah Jane and a
Jane. I neglected to cover that point in a question.

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Solomon P. Pattillo
                    1502 Martin Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: 76
Occupation: Formerly farmer, teacher, and small dealer--now blind

"I was born November 1862. I was three years old at the time of the
surrender. I was born right here in Arkansas--right down here in Tulip,
Dallas County, Arkansas. I have never been out of the state but twice.


"My daddy carried me out once when they took him to Texas during the war
to keep the Yanks from setting him free.

"Then I went out once long after slavery to get a load of sand. On the
way back, my boat nearly sank. Those are the only two times I ever left
the state.


"My father's name was Thomas Smith, but the Pattillos bought him and he
took the name of Pattillo. I don't know how much he sold for. That was
the only time he was ever sold. I believe that my father was born in
North Carolina. It seems like to me I recollect that is where he said he
was born.

"My mother was born in Virginia. I don't know how she got here unless
she was sold like my father was. I don't know her name before she got
married. Yes, I do; her name was Fannie Smith, I believe.


"We lived in old log cabins. We had bedsteads nailed to the wall. Then
we had them old fashioned cordboard springs. They had ropes made into
springs. That was a high class bed. People who had those cord springs
felt themselves. They made good sleeping. My father had one. Ropes were
woven back and forth across the bed frame.

"We had those old spinning wheels. Three cuts was a day's work. A cut
was so many threads. It was quite a day to make them. They had hanks
too. The threads were all linked together.

"My mother was a spinner. My father was a farmer. Both of them worked
for their master,--old Massa, they called him, or Massa, Mass Tom, Mass
John or Massta.

War Recollections

"I remember during the war when I was in Texas with a family of Moody's
how old Mistiss had me packing rocks out of the yard in a basket and
cleaning the yard. I didn't know it then, but my daddy told me later
that that was when I was in Texas,--during the war. I remember that I
used to work in my shirt tail.

"The soldiers used to come in the house somewhere and take anything they
could get or wanted to take.


"When I was a boy they had a song, 'Run, Nigger, run; The Pateroles will
get you.' They would run you in and I have been told they would whip
you. If you overstayed your time when your master had let you go out, he
would notify the pateroles and they would hunt you up and turn you over
to him.

Church Meetings

"Way long then, my father and mother used to say that man doesn't serve
the Lord--the true and living God and let it be known. A bunch of them
got together and resolved to serve Him any way. First they sang in a
whisper, 'Come ye that love the Lord.' Finally they got bold and began
to sing in tones that could be heard everywhere, 'Oh for a thousand
tongues to sing my Great Redeemer's praise.'

After the War

"After the war my father fanned--made share crops. I remember once how
some one took his horse and left an old tired horse in the stable. She
looked like a nag. When she got rested up she was better than the one
that was took.

"His first farm was down here in Dallas County. He made a share crop
with his former master, Pattillo. He never had no trouble with him.

Ku Klux

"I heard a good deal of talk about the Ku Klux Klan, but I don't know
anything much about it. They never bothered my father and mother. My
father was given the name of being an obedient servant--among the best
help they had.

"My father farmed all his life. He died at the age of seventy-two in
Tulip, near the year 1885, just before Cleveland's inauguration. He died
of typhoid pneumonia. My mother was ninety-six years old when she died
in 1909.

Little Rock

"I came to Little Rock in 1894. I came up here to teach in Fourche Dam.
Then I moved here. I taught my first school in this county at Cato. I
quit teaching because my salary was so poor and then I went into the
butcher's business, and in the wood business. I farmed all the while.

"I taught school for twenty-one years. I always was a successful
teacher. I did my best. If you contract to do a job for ten dollars, do
as much as though you were getting a hundred. That will always help you
to get a better job.

"I have farmed all my life in connection with my teaching. I went into
other businesses like I said a moment ago. I was a caretaker at the
Haven of Rest Cemetery for sometime.

"I was postmaster from 1904 to 1911 at Sweet Home. At one time I was
employed on the United States Census.

"I get a little blind pension now. I have no other means of support.

Loss of Eyes

"The doctor says I lost my eyesight on account of cataracts. I had an
operation and when I came home, I got to stirring around and it caused
me to have a hemorrhage of the eye. You see I couldn't stay at the
hospital because it was costing me $3 a day and I didn't have it. They
had to take one eye clean out. Nothing can be done for them, but somehow
I feel that the lord's going to let me see again. That's the way I feel
about it.

"I have lived here in this world this long and never had a fight in my
life. I have never been mistreated by a white man in my life. I always
knew my place. Some fellows get mistreated because they get out of their

"I was told I couldn't stay in Benton because that was a white man's
town. I went there and they treated me white. I tried to stay with a
colored family way out. They were scared to take me. I had gone there to
attend to some business. Then I went to the sheriff and he told me that
if they were scared to have me stay at their home, I could stay at the
hotel and put my horse in the livery stable. I stayed out in the wagon
yard. But I was invited into the hotel. They took care of my horse and
fed it and they brought me my meals. The next morning, they cleaned and
curried and hitched my horse for me.

"I have voted all my life. I never had any trouble about it.

"The Ku Klux never bothered me. Nobody else ever did. If we live so that
everybody will respect us, the better class will always try to help us."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Carry Allen Patton
                    Forrest City, Arkansas
Age: 71

"I was born in Shelby County, Tennessee. My parents was Tillie Watts and
Pierce Allen. He come from Louisiana reckly (directly) after the
surrender. My mother come from Virginia. She was sold in Virginia and
brought to middle Tennessee close to Murfreesboro and then brought to
Memphis and sold. She was dark and my father was too. They was living
close to Wilmar, Arkansas when the yellow fever was so bad. I don't
remember it. Heard them talk about it.

"I heard my mother say how Mr. Jake Watts saved his money from the
Yankees. They had a great big rock flat on both sides. They put on the
joints of big meat to weight it down when they salted it down in a
barrel. They didn't unjoint the meat and in the joint is where it
started to spoil. Well, he put his silver and gold in a pot. It was a
big round pot and was smaller around the top. He dug a hole after
midnight. He and his two boys James and Dock put the money in this hole
in the back yard. They covered the pot with the big flat rock and put
dirt on that and next morning they planted a good big cedar tree over
the rock, money and all.

"Old Master Jake died during the War and their house was burned but
James lived in one of the cabins in the yard. Dock went to the War. My
mother said when they left, that tree was standing.

"My mother run off. She thought she would go cook for the men in the
camps but before she got to the camps a wagon overtook her and they
stole her. They brought her to Memphis and sold her on a block. They
guarded her. She never did know who they was nor what become of them.
They kept her in the wagon on the outskirts of the city nearly a month.
One man always stayed to watch her. She was scared to death of both of
them. One of the men kept a jug of whiskey in the wagon and drunk it but
he never would get dead drunk so she could slip off.

"Mr. Johnson bought her and when the surrender come on, Master Johnson
took his family and went to Texas. She begged him to take her to nurse
but he said if it wasn't freedom he would send her back to Master James
Watts and he would let her go back then. He give her some money but she
never went back. She was afraid to start walking and before her money
give clear out she met up with my father and he talked her out of going

"She had a baby pretty soon. It was by them men that stole her. He was
light. He died when he got nearly grown. I recollect him good. I was
born close to Memphis, the boy died of dysentery.

"When my mother was sold in Virginia she was carried in a wagon to the
block and thought she was going to market. She never seen her folks no
more. They let them go along to market sometimes and set in the wagon.
She had a little pair of gloves she wore when she was sold her grandma
had knit for her. They was white, had half thumb and no fingers. When
she died I put them in her coffin. She had twins born dead besides me.
They was born close to Wilmar, Arkansas.

"We farmed all my life in Arkansas and Mississippi. I married in
Mississippi and we come back here before Joe died. I live out here and
in Memphis. My son is a janitor at the Sellers Brothers Store in
Memphis. My daughter cooks about here in town and I keep her children. I
rather farm if I was able.

"I think young folks, both colors, shuns work. Times is running away
with itself. Folks is living too fast. They ride too fast and drinks and
do all kinds of meanness.

"My father was a mighty poor hand at talking. He said he was sold in a
gang shipped to Memphis from New Orleans. Master Allen bought him. He
was a boy. I don't know how big. He cleaned fish--scaled them. He
butchered and in a few months Mr. Allen set him free. It was surrender
when he was sold but Mr. Allen didn't know it or else he meant to keep
him on a few years. When he got loose he started farming and farmed till
he died. He farmed in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas. He owned a
place but a drouth come along. He got in debt and white folks took it.

"I married in Mississippi. My husband immigrated from South Carolina. He
was Joe Patton. I washed and ironed and farmed. I rather farm now if I
was able.

"I never got no gov'ment help. I ain't posing it. It is a fine thing. I
was in Tennessee when it come on. They said I'd have to stay here six
months. I never do stay."

Interviewer: Mrs. Annie L. LaCotts
Person interviewed: Harriett McFarlin Payne
                    Dewitt, Arkansas
Age: 83

"Aunt Harriett, were you born in slavery time?"

"Yes, mam! I was big enough to remember well, us coming back from Texas
after we refugeed there when the fighting of the war was so bad at St.
Charles. We stayed in Texas till the surrender, then we all come back in
lots of wagons. I was sick but they put me on a little bed and me and
all the little chillun rode in a 'Jersey' that one of the old Negro
mammies drove, along behind the wagons, and our young master, Colonel
Bob Chaney rode a great big black horse. Oh! he nice-looking on dat
horse! Every once and awhile he'd ride back to the last wagon to see if
everything was all right. I remember how scared us chillun was when we
crossed the Red River. Aunt Mandy said, 'We crossin' you old Red River
today, but we not going to cross you any more, cause we are going home
now, back to Arkansas.' That day when we stopped to cook our dinner I
picked up a lot little blackjack acorns and when my mammy saw them she
said, 'Throw them things down, chile. They'll make you wormy.' (I cried
because I thought they were chinquapins.) I begged my daddy to let's go
back to Texas, but he said, 'No! No! We going with our white folks.' My
mama and daddy belonged to Col. Jesse Chaney, much of a gentleman, and
his wife Miss Sallie was the best mistress anybody ever had. She was a
Christian. I can hear her praying yet! She wouldn't let one of her
slaves hit a tap on Sunday. They must rest and go to church. They had
preaching at the cabin of some one of the slaves, and in the Summertime
sometimes they had it out in the shade under the trees. Yes, and the
slaves on each plantation had their own church. They didn't go
galavanting over the neighborhood or country like niggers do now. Col.
Chaney had lots and lots of slaves and all their houses were in a row,
all one-room cabins. Everything happened in that one room,--birth,
sickness, death and everything, but in them days niggers kept their
houses clean and their door yards too. These houses where they lived was
called 'the quarters'. I used to love to walk down by that row of
houses. It looked like a town and late of an evening as you'd go by the
doors you could smell meat a frying, coffee making and good things
cooking. We were fed good and had plenty clothes to keep us dry and

"Along about time for de surrender, Col. Jesse, our master, took sick
and died with some kind of head trouble. Then Col. Bob, our young
master, took care of his mama and the slaves. All the grown folks went
to the field to work and the little chillun would be left at a big room
called the nursing home. All us little ones would be nursed and fed by
an old mammy, Aunt Mandy. She was too old to go to the field, you know.
We wouldn't see our mammy and daddy from early in the morning till night
when their work was done, then they'd go by Aunt Mandy's and get their
chillun and go home till work time in the morning.

"Some of the slaves were house negroes. They didn't go to work in the
fields, they each one had their own job around the house, barn, orchard,
milk house, and things like that.

"When washday come, Lord, the pretty white clothes! It would take three
or four women a washing all day.

"When two of de slaves wanted to get married, they'd dress up nice as
they could and go up to the big house and the master would marry them.
They'd stand up before him and he'd read out of a book called the
'discipline' and say, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy
heart, all thy strength, with all thy might and thy neighbor as
thyself.' Then he'd say they were man and wife and tell them to live
right and be honest and kind to each other. All the slaves would be
there too, seeing the 'wedden'.

"Our Miss Sallie was the sweetest best thing in the world! She was so
good and kind to everybody and she loved her slaves, too. I can remember
when Uncle Tony died how she cried! Uncle Tony Wadd was Miss Sallie's
favorite servant. He stayed in a little house in the yard and made fires
for her, brought in wood and water and just waited on the house. He was
a little black man and white-headed as cotton, when he died. Miss Sallie
told the niggers when they come to take him to the grave yard, to let
her know when they got him in his coffin, and when they sent and told
her she come out with all the little white chillun, her little
grandchillun, to see Uncle Tony. She just cried and stood for a long
time looking at him, then she said, 'Tony, you have been a good and
faithful servant.' Then the Negro men walked and carried him to the
graveyard out in a big grove in de field. Every plantation had its own
graveyard and buried its own folks, and slaves right on the place.

"If all slaves had belonged to white folks like ours, there wouldn't
been any freedom wanted."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: John Payne
                    Brinkley, Ark.
Age: 74

"I was born in Georgia, close to Bowles Spring, in Franklin County. My
mama's master was Reverend David Payne. He was a Baptist preacher. My
mama said my father was Monroe Glassby. He was a youngster on a
neighboring plantation. He was white. His father was a landowner. I
think she said it was 70 miles east of Atlanta where they went to trade.
They went to town two or three times a year. It took about a week to go
and come.

"From what Mama said they didn't know it was freedom for a long time.
They worked on I know till that crop was made and gathered. Somebody
sent word to the master, Rev. David, he better turn them slaves loose.
Some of the hands heard the message. That was the first they knowed it
was freedom. My mama said she seen soldiers and heard fighting. She had
heard that if the Yankees won the war all the slaves be free. She set to
studyin' what she would do. She didn't know what to do. So when she
heard it she asked If she had to be free. She told Rev. David she wanted
to stay like she had been staying. After I was up a good size boy we
went to Banks County. She done house work and field work too and I done
farm work. All kinds and from sun-up till dark every day. Sometimes I
get in so late I have to make a torch light to see how to put the feed
in the troughs. We had plenty litard--pine knots--they was rich to burn.

"I used to vote but I quit since I come to Arkansas. I come in 1902. I
paid my own way and wrote back for my family. I paid their way too. I
got one little grandaughter, 20 years old. She is off trying to make her
way through college. My wife had a stroke and she can't do much no more.
I got a piece of a house. It need repairs. I can't hardly pay my taxes.
I can't work much. I got two cows and six little pigs. I got eighty
acres land. I worked fourteen years for John Gazolla and that is when I
made enough to buy my place. I am in debt but I am still working. Seems
like one old man can't make much."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person Interviewed: Larkin Payne
                    Brinkley, Ark.
Age: 85

"I was born in North Carolina. I don't recall my moster's name. My
parents was Sarah Hadyn and John Payne. They had seven children. None of
them was sold. My pa was sold. He had three sons in the Civil War. None
of em was killed. One was in the war four years, the others a good
portion of two years. They was helpers.

"Grandma bought grandpa's, freedom. My great grandma was an Indian
woman. My mother was dark brown. My father was tolerable light. When I
was small child they come in and tell bout people being sold. I heard a
whole lot about it that way. It was great grandma Hadyn that was the
Indian. My folks worked in the field or anywhere as well as I recollect.

"When freedom come on my folks moved to East Tennessee. I don't know
whether they got good treatment or not. They was freedom loving folks.
The Ku Klux never bothered us at home. I heard a lot of em. They was
pretty hot further south. I had two brothers scared pretty bad. They
went wid some white men to South Carolina and drove hogs. The white men
come back in buggies or on the train--left them to walk back. The Ku
Klux got after them. They had a hard time getting home. I heard the Ku
Klux was bad down in Alabama. They had settled down fore I went to
Alabama. I owned a home in Alabama. I took stock for it. Sold the stock
and come to Arkansas. I had seven children. We raised three.

"When my folks was set free they never got nothing. The mountain folks
raised corn and made whiskey. They made red corn cob molasses; it was
good. They put lye in the whiskey; it would kill you. They raised hogs
plenty. My folks raised hogs and corn. They didn't make no whiskey. I
seen em make it and sell it too.

"I heard folks say they rather be under the home men overseers than
Northern overseers. They was kinder to em it seem like. I was jes
beginnin' to go to the field when freedom come on. I helped pile brush
to be burned before freedom. I farmed when I was a boy; pulled fodder
and bundled it. I shucked corn, slopped pigs, milked, plowed a mule over
them rocks, thinned out corn. I worked twenty days in East Tennessee on
the section. I cut and haul wood all winter.

"My parents both died in Arkansas. We come here to get to a fine farmin'
country. We did like it fine. I'm still here.

"I have voted. I vote if I'm needed. The white folks country and they
been runnin' it. I don't want no enemies. They been good to me. I got no
egercation much. I sorter follows bout votin'. We look to the white
folks to look after our welfare.

"I get $8.00 and commodities. I work all I can git to do."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Cella Perkins
                    Marvell and Palestine, Arkansas
Age: 67

"I was born close to Macon, Georgia. Mama's old mistress, Miss Mari
(Maree) Beth Woods, brung her there from fifteen miles outer Atlanta.

"After emancipation Miss Mari Beth's husband got killed. A horse kicked
him to death. It shyed at something and it run in front of the horse. He
held the horse so it couldn't run. It kicked the foot board clean off,
kicked him in the stomach. His boy crawled out of the buggy. That's the
way we knowed how it happened. She didn't hurt the boy. His name was
Benjamin Woods.

"Pa went to war with his master and he never come back to mama. She
never heard from him after freedom. He got captured and got to be a
soldier and went 'way off. She didn't never know if he got killed or
lost his way back home.

"Mama cooked and kept up the house. Miss Mari Beth kept a boarding house
in Macon till way after I was a big girl. I stood on a box and washed
dishes and dried them for mama.

"Mr. Ben was grown when we come to Arkansas. He got his ma to go to
Kentucky with him and I heard about Arkansas. Me and mama come to
Palestine. We come in a crowd. A man give us tickets and we come by our
lone selves till we got to Tennessee. A big crowd come from Dyersburg,
Tennessee. Ma got to talking and found out we was headed fo' the same
place in Arkansas.

"Ma talked a whole heap at tines more 'an others (times) about slavery
times. Her master didn't take on over her much when he found out she was
a barren woman. The old man Crumpton give her to his youngest daughter,
Miss Mari Beth. She always had to do all kinds of work and house turns.

"After mama's slavery husband didn't come back and she was living in
Macon, she fell in love with another man and I was a picked-up baby.
Mama said Miss Mari Beth lost faith in her when I was born but she
needed her and kept her on. Said seem like she thought she was too old
to start up when she never had children when her papa owned her. They
didn't like me. She said she could trust mama but she didn't know my
stock. He was a black man. Mama was black as I is.

"Miss Mari Beth had a round double table. The top table turned with the
victuals on it. I knocked flies three times a day over that table.

"I never had a store-bought dress in my life till mama bought me one at
Madison, Arkansas. I wanted a pure white dress. She said if we made a
good crop she was going to give me a dress. All the dresses I ever had
was made out of Miss Mari Beth's dresses but I never had a pure white
one. I never had one bought for me till I was nearly grown. I was so
proud of it. When I would go and come back, I would pull it off and put
it away. I wore it one summer white and the next summer I blued it and
had a new dress. I had a white dress nearly every year till I got too
old to dress up gay now. I got a white bonnet and apron I wears right

"Mama said Master Crumpton bought up babies to raise. She was taken away
from her folks so soon she never heard of them. Aunt Mat raised her up
in Atlanta and out on his place. He had a place in town but kept them on
a place in the country. He had a drove of them. He hired them out. He
hired mama once to a doctor, Dr. Willbanks. Mama said old master thought
she would learn how to have children from him the reason he sent her
there so much. When they had big to-dos old master sent mama over there.
She never seen no money till about freedom. She loved to get hired out
to be off from him. They all had young babies about but her. He was
cross and her husband was cross. She had pleasure hired out. She said he
didn't whoop much. He stamped his foot. They left right now.

"I hab three girls living; one here (Palestine), one at Marvell, and one
in St. Louis. My youngest girl teaches music at a big colored school.
She sends me my money and I lives with these girls. I been up there and
I sure don't aim to live in no city old as I is. It's too dangerous slow
as I got to be and so much racket I never slept a night I was there. I
was there a month. She brung me home and I didn't go back.

"I cooked and washed and ironed and worked in the field. I do some work
yet. I helps out where I am.

"The times is better I think from accounts I hear. This generation all
living too fast er lives. They don't never be still a minute."

Pine Bluff District
Name of Interviewer: Martin & Barker
Subject: Ex-Slaves--Slavery Times

This Information given by: Maggie Perkins
Place of Residence: W. 6th. St.
[TR: Information moved from bottom of first page.]

My folks lived in S. Carolina and belonged to Col. Bob Baty and his

If I should lay down tonight I could tell when my folks were going to
die, because the Lawd would tell me in a vision.

Just before my grandmother died, I got up one morning and told my aunt
that granma was dead. Aunt said she did not want me telling lies.

Then I saw another aunt laying on the bed, and she had her hand under
her jaw. She was smiling. The house was full of people. After awhile
they heard that her aunt was dead too, and after that they paid
attention to me when I told them somebody was going to die.

I'se a member of the Holiness Church. I believes step up right and keep
the faith.

I seen my aunt walking up and down on a glass. The Lawd tells me in a
vision to step right up and see the faith.

I am living in Jesus. He is coming to Pine Bluff soon. He is going to
separate the lions from the sheep.

I was born in slavery times. I member folks riding around on horses.

Them days I used to wash my mistis feet and legs, and sometimes I would
fall asleep against my mistis knees. I tells the young fry to give honor
to the white folks, and my preacher tell 'em to obey the white folks,
dat dey are our best friends, dey is our dependence and it would be hard
getting on if we didn't have em to help us.

Spirits--Me and my husband moved into a house that a man, "uncle Bill"
Hearn died in, and we wanted dat house so bad we moved right in as soon
as he was taken out, we ate supper and went to bed.

By the time we got to sleep we heard sounds like someone was emptying
shelled corn, and I hunched up under my husband scared to death and then
moved out the next day. The dead haven't gone to Heaven. When death
comes, he comes to your heart. He has your number and knows where to
find you. He won't let you off, he has the key.

Death comes and unlocks the heart and twists the breath out of that
heart and carries it back to God.

Nobody has gone to Heaven, no one can get pass Jesus until the day of
his redemption, which is judgement day.

We can't pass the door without being judged. On the day of ressurection
the trumpet will sound and us will wake up out of he graveyard, and come
forth to be judged. The sea shall give up its dead. Every nation will
have to appear before God and be judged in a twinklin of an eye. If you
aren't prepared before Jesus comes, it will be too late. God is
everywhere, he is the almight. God is a nice God, he is a clean God, he
is a good God. I would be afraid to tell you a lie for God would strike
me down.

Eight years ago I couldn't see, I wore specs 3 years. I forgot my specs
one morning, I prayed for my eyesight and it was restored that morning.

Our marster was a good man. De overseers sometimes wuz bad, but dey did
not let marsters know how dey treated their girl slaves. My grandmother
was whipped by de overseers one time, it made welts on her back. My
sister Mary had a child by a white man.

To get joy in de morning, get up and pray and ask Him to bless you. God
will feed all alike, he is no respector of persons. He shows no extra
favors twixt de rich and de poor.

Interviewer: Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Marguerite Perkins
                    West Sixth and Catalpa Streets, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 81

"I was born in slavery times, Miss. I was born in South Carolina, Union
County. I was born in May.

"I know I 'member old Missy. I just been washin' her feet and legs when
they said the Yankees was comin. Old Miss' name was Miss Sally. Her
husband was a colonel. What is a colonel?

"I got some white cousins. They tell me they was the boss man's chillun.

"Yes'm, I reckon Miss Sally was good to me. I'm a old nigger. All us
niggers belonged to Colonel Beatty. I went to school a little while but
I didn't learn nothin'.

"I use to be a nurse girl and sleep right upstairs.

"Missus, you know people just walkin along the street droppin dead with
heart trouble and white women killin men. I tell you lady it's awful.

"I been married just once. The Lord took him out o' my house one Sunday
morning 'fore day.

"The thing about it is I got that high blood pressure. Well, Missus, I
had it five years ago and I went to Memphis and the Lord healed me. All
we got to do is believe in the Lord and He will put you on your feet.

"I had four sisters and three brothers and all of 'em dead but me,

"Now let me tell you somethin'. Old as I is, I ain't never been to but
one picture show in my life. Old as I is, I never was on a base ball
ground in my life. The onliest place I go now is to church."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Rachel Perkins, Goodwin, Arkansas
Age: ? Baby during the Civil War

"I was born in Greensboro, Alabama. Sallie Houston and Peter Houston was
my parents. They had two girls and a boy. They died when they was small,
but me. They always told me mother died when I was three days old in the
cradle. I don't fur a fact know much about my own people. Miss Agnes
took me to raise me fur a house girl. She nursed me wid her Mary. My
mother's and father's owners was Alonso Brown and Miss Agnes Brown.
Their two girls was Mary and Lucy and their three boys was Bobby, Jesse,
and Frank. Miss Agnes rocked the babies to sleep in a big chair out on
the gallery. We slept there all night. Company come and say, 'Where the
babies?' Miss Agnes take them back and show us off. They say, 'Where the
little black chile?' They'd try to get me to come go live wid them. They
say they be good to me. I'd tell 'em, 'No, I stay here.' It was good a
home as I wanted. We slept on the front gallery till Lucy come on, then
we had sheep skin pallets. She got the big chair. She put us out there
because it was cool.

"I left Miss Agnes when I got to be my own woman. Didn't nobody toll me
off. I knowed I ought to go to my own race of people. They come after me
once. Then they sent the baby boy after me what I had nursed. I wanted
to go but I never went. Miss Lucy and Miss Mary both in college. It was
lonesome for me. I wanted to go to my color. I jus' picked up and walked
on off.

"My girl is half Indian. I'm fifteen years older than my girl. Then I
married Wesley Perkins, my husband. He is black fur a fact. He died last
fall. I married at my husband's brother's by a colored preacher. Tom
Screws was his name. He was a Baptist preacher.

"I never went to school a day in my life. I can't read. I can count
money. Seem lack it jus' come natural. I never learned it at no one
time. It jus' come to me.

"In warm weather I slept on the gallery and in cold weather I slept by
the fire. I made down my own bed. I cleaned the house. I took the cows
off to the pasture. I nursed the babies, washed and dried the dishes. I
made up the beds and cleaned the yards.

"Master Brown owned two farms. He had plenty hands on his farms. I did
never go down to the farms much but I knowed the hands. On Saturday
little later than other days they brought the stock to the house and
fed. Then they went to the smokehouse for their rations. He had a great
big garden, strawberries, and grape arbors.

"One thing I had to do was worm the plants. I put the worms in a bottle
and leave it in the row where the sun would dry the worms up. When a
light frost come I would water the plants that would wilt before the sun
riz and ag'in at night. Then the plants never felt the frost. Certainly
it didn't kill 'em. It didn't hurt 'em.

"Julane was the regular milk woman. She milked and strained the milk. I
churned and 'tended to the chickens. Miss Agnes sot the hens her own
self. She marked the eggs with a piece of charcoal to see if other hens
laid by the setting hen. If they did she'd take the new egg out of the

"We had flower gardens. We had mint, rosemary, tansy, sage, mullen,
catnip, horseradish, artichokes, hoarhound--all good home remedies.

"I never knowed when we moved to that farm. I was so small. I heard Miss
Agnes Brown say I was a baby when they moved to Boldan depot, not fur
from Clinton, Mississippi.

"When I left Miss Agnes I went to some folks my own color on another
farm 'joining to their farm. Of course I took my baby. I took Anna and I
been living with Anna ever since. What I'd do now without her. (Anna is
an Indian and very proud of being half Indian.) My husband done dead.

"I get eight dollars welfare help. And I do get some commodities. Anna
does all right but she got hit on the shoulder and about lost use of her
arm. One of the railroad hands up here got mad and hit her. I had
doctors. They done it a little good. It's been hurt three years or more

"I wisht I knowd where to find a bed of mullen. Boil it down to a syrup
and add some molasses, boil that down. It makes a good syrup for coughs
and colds.

"I never went to white folks' church none hardly. Miss Agnes sent me
along with her cook to my own color's church.

"My husband sure was good to me. We never had but one fight. Neither one

"This young generation is going backward. They tired of training. They
don't want no advice. They don't want to work out no more. They don't
know what they want. I think folks is trifling than they was when I come
on. The times is all right and some of the people. I'm talking about
mine and yo' color both."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Dinah Perry
                    1800 Ohio Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 78

"Yes ma'am, I lived in slavery times. They brought me from Alabama, a
baby, right here to this place where I am at, Mr. Sterling Cockril.

"I don't know zackly when I was born but I member bout the slave times.
Yes ma'am, I do. After I growed up some, I member the overseer--I do. I
can remember Mr. Burns. I member when he took the hands to Texas. Left
the chillun and the old folks here.

"Oh Lord, this was a big plantation. Had bout four or five hundred head
of niggers.

"My mother done the milkin' and the weavin'. After free times, I wove me
a dross. My mother fixed it for me and I wove it. They'd knit stockin's
too. But now they wear silk. Don't keep my legs warm.

"I member when they fit here in Pine Bluff. I member when 'Marmajuke'
sent word he was gain' to take breakfast with Clayton that mornin' and
they just fit. I can remember that was 'Marmajuke.' It certainly was
'Marmajuke.' The Rebels tried to carry me away but the wagon was so full
I didn't get in and I was glad they didn't. My mother was runnin' from
the Rebels and she hid under the cotehouse. After the battle was over
she come back hero to the plantation.

"I had three brothers and three sisters went to Texas and I know I
didn't know em when they come back.

"I member when they fit here a bum shell fell right in the yard. It was
big around as this stovepipe and was all full of chains and things.

"After free time my folks stayed right here and worked on the shares. I
was the baby chile and never done no work till I married when I was

"After the War I went to school to white teachers from the North. I
never went to nothin' but them. I went till I was in the fifth grade.

"My daddy learned me to spell 'lady' and 'baker' and 'shady' fore I went
to school. I learned all my ABC's too. I got out of the first reader the
second day. I could just read it right on through. I could spell and
just stand at the head of the class till the teacher sent me to the foot
all the time.

"My daddy was his old mistress' pet. He used to carry her to school all
the time and I guess that's where he got his learnin'.

"After I was married I worked in the field. Rolled logs, cut brush,
chopped and picked cotton.

"I member when they had that 'Bachelor' (Brooks-Baxter) War up here at
Little Rock.

"After my chillun died, I never went to the field no more. I just stayed
round mongst the white folks nussin'. All the chillun I nussed is
married and grown now.

"All this younger generation--white and colored--I don't know what's
gwine come of em. The poet says:

  'Each gwine a different way
  And all the downward road.'"

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Dinah Perry
                    1002 Indiana, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 78
[TR: Appears to be same as last informant despite different address.]

"I'se bawn in Alabama and brought here to Arkansas a baby. I couldn't
tell what year I was bawn 'cause I was a baby. A chile can't tell what
year he was bawn 'less they tells him and they sure didn't tell me.

"When I'd wake up in the mawnin' my mother would be gone to the field.

"Some things I can remember good but you know old folks didn't 'low
chillun to stand around when they was talkin' in dem days. They had to
go play. They had to be mighty particular or they'd get a whippin'.

"Chillun was better in them days 'cause the old folks was strict on 'em.
Chillun is raisin' theirselves today.

"I 'member one song they used to sing

  'We'll land over shore
  We'll land over shore;
  And we'll live forever more.'

"They called it a hymn. They'd sing it in church, then they'd all get to

"Superstitions? Well, I seen a engineer goin' to work the other day and
a black cat run in front of him, and he went back 'cause he said he
would have a wreck with his train if he didn't. So you see, the white
folks believes in things like that too.

"I never was any hand to play any games 'cept 'Chick. Chick.' You'd
ketch 'hold a hands and ring up. Had one outside was the hawk and some
inside was the hen and chickens. The old mother hen would say

  'Chick-a-ma, chick-a-ma, craney crow,
  Went to the well to wash my toe;
  When I come back my chicken was gone,
  What time is it, old witch?'

One chicken was s'posed to get out and then the hawk would try to ketch

"We was more 'ligious than the chillun nowadays. We used to play
preachin' and baptisin'. We'd put 'em down in the water and souse 'em
and we'd shout just like the old folk. Yes ma'am."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Alfred Peters, 1518 Bell Street,
                    Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 78

"I was born seven miles from Camden.

"I was 'leven months old when they carried us to Texas. First thing I
remember I was in Texas.

"Lucius Grimm was old master. He's been dead a long time. His wife died
'bout two years after the Civil War and he died twenty-five years after.

"I 'member durin' of the war he buried his stuff---silverware and
stuff--and he never took it up. And after he died his brother's son
lived in California, and he come back and dug it up.

"The Yankees burned up four hundred bales of cotton and taken the meat
and two cribs of corn.

"I heard 'em talk 'bout the Ku Klux but I never did see 'em.

"My mother said old Mars Lucius was good to his folks. She said he first
bought her and then she worried so 'bout my father, he paid twenty-five
hundred dollars for him.

"Biggest part of my life I farmed, and then I done carpenter work.

"I been blind four years. The doctor says it's cataracts.

"I think the younger generation goin' to cause another war. They ain't
studyin' nothin' but pleasure."

Interviewer: S.S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Mary Estes Peters,
                    3115 W. 17th Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: 78


Mary Estes Peters was born a slave January 30, 1860 in Missouri
somewhere. Her mother was colored and her father white, the white
parentage being very evident in her color and features and hair. She is
very reticent about the facts of her birth. The subject had to be
approached from many angles and in many ways and by two different
persons before that part of the story could be gotten.

Although she was born in Missouri, she was "refugeed" first to
Mississippi and then here, Arkansas. She is convinced that her mother
was sold at least twice after freedom,--once into Mississippi, one into
Helena, and probably once more after reaching Arkansas, Mary herself
being still a very small child.

I think she is mistaken on this point. I did not debate with her but I
cross-examined her carefully and it appears to me that there was
probably in her mother's mind a confused knowledge of the issuance of
the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862. Lincoln's Compensation
Emancipation plan advocated in March 1863, the Abolition in the District
of Columbia in 1862 in April, the announcement of Lincoln's Emancipation
intention in July 1862, the prohibition of slavery in present and future
territories, June 19, 1862, together with the actual issuance of the
Emancipation in September 1862, and the effectiveness of the
proclamation in January 1, 1863, would well give rise to an impression
among many slaves that emancipation had been completed.

As a matter of fact, Missouri did not secede; the Civil War which
nevertheless ensued would find some slaveholders exposed to the full
force of the 1862 proclamation in 1863 at the time of its first
effectiveness. Naturally it did not become effective in many other
places till 1865. It would very naturally happen then that a sale in
Missouri in the latter part of 1862 or any time thereafter might be well
construed by ex-slaves as a sale after emancipation, especially since
they do not as a rule pay as much attention to the dates of occurrences
as to their sequence. This interpretation accords with the story. Only
such an explanation could make probable a narrative which places the
subject as a newborn babe in 1860 and sold after slavery had ceased
while still too young to remember. Her earliest recollections are
recollections of Arkansas.

She has lived in Arkansas ever since the Civil War and in Little Rock
ever since 1879. She made a living as a seamstress for awhile but is now
unable to sew because of fading eyesight. She married in 1879 and led a
long and contented married life until the recent death of her husband.
She lives with her husband's nephew and ekes out a living by fragmentary
jobs. She has a good memory and a clear mind for her age.

Slave After Freedom

"My mother was sold after freedom. It was the young folks did all that
devilment. They found they could get some money out of her and they did
it. She was put on the block in St. Louis and sold down into Vicksburg,
Mississippi. Then they sold her into Helena, Arkansas. After that they
carried her down into Trenton (?), Arkansas. I don't know whether they
sold her that time or not, but I reckon they did. Leastways, they
carried her down there. All this was done after freedom. My mother was
only fifteen years old when she was sold the first time, and I was a
baby in her arms. I don't know nothing about it myself, but I have heard
her tell about it many and many a time. It was after freedom. Of course,
she didn't know she was free.

"It was a good while before my mother realized she was free. She noticed
the other colored people going to and fro and she wondered about it.
They didn't allow you to go round in slave times. She asked them about
it and they told her, 'Don't you know you are free?' Some of the white
people too told her that she was free. After that, from the way she
talked, I guess she stayed around there until she could go some place
and get wages for her work. She was a good cook.

Mean Mistress

"I have seen many a scar on my mother. She had mean white folks. She had
one big scar on the side of her head. The hair never did grow back on
that place. She used to comb her hair over it so that it wouldn't show.
The way she got it was this:

"One day her mistress went to high mass and left a lot of work for my
mother to do. She was only a girl and it was too much. There was more
work than she could get done. She had too big a task for a child to get
done. When her old mistress came back and her work was not all done, she
beat my mother down to the ground, and then she took one of the skillets
and bust her over the head with it--trying to kill her, I reckon. I have
seen the scar with my own eyes. It was an awful thing.

"My mother was a house servant in Missouri and Mississippi. Never done
no hard work till she came here (Arkansas). When they brought her here
they tried to make a field hand out of her. She hadn't been used to
chopping cotton. When she didn't chop it fast as the others did, they
would beat her. She didn't know nothing about no farmwork. She had all
kinds of trouble. They just didn't treat her good. She used to have good
times in Missouri and Mississippi but not in Arkansas. They just didn't
treat her good. In them days, they'd whip anybody. They'd tie you to the
bed or have somebody hold you down on the floor and whip you till the
blood ran.

"But, Lawd, my mother never had no use for Catholics because it was a
Catholic that hit her over the head with that skillet--right after she
come from mass.


"My mother said that they used to pour the food into troughs and give it
to the slaves. They'd give them an old, wooden spoon or something and
they all eat out of the same dish or trough. They wouldn't let the
slaves eat out of the things they et out of. Fed them just like they
would hogs.

"When I was little, she used to come to feed me about twelve o'clock
every day. She hurry in, give me a little bowl of something, and then
hurry right on out because she had to go right back to her work. She
didn't have time to stay and see how I et. If I had enough, it was all
right. If I didn't have enough, it was all right. It might be pot liquor
or it might be just anything.

"One day she left me alone and I was lying on the floor in front of the
fireplace asleep. I didn't have no bed nor nothing then. The fire must
have popped out and set me on fire. You see they done a whole lot of
weaving in them days. And they put some sort of lint on the children.

"I don't reckon children them days knowed what a biscuit was. They just
raked up whatever was left off the table and brung it to you. Children
have a good time nowadays.

"People goin' to work heard me hollering and came in and put out the
fire. I got scars all round my waist today I could show you.

"Another time my mother had to go off and leave me. I was older then. I
guess I must have gotten hungry and wanted to get somethin' to eat. So I
got up and wandered off into the woods. There weren't many people living
round there then. (This was in Trenton (?), Arkansas, a small place not
far from Helena.) And the place was [HW: not] built up much then and they
had lots of wolves. Wolves make a lot of noise when they get to trailin'
anything. I got about a half mile from the road and the wolves got after
me. I guess they would have eat me up but a man heard them howling, and
he knew there wasn't no house around there but ours, and he came to see
what was up, and he beat off the wolves and carried me back home. There
wasn't nare another house round there but ours and he knew I must have
come from there.

"Mother was working then. It was night though. They brung the news to
her and they wouldn't let her come to me. Mother said she felt like
getting a gun and killin' them. Her child out like that and they
wouldn't let her go home.

"That must have happened after freedom, because it was the last mistress
she had. Almost all her beatings and trouble came from her last
mistress. That woman sure gave her a lot of trouble.

Age, Good Masters

"All I know about my age is what my mother told me.

"The first people that raised my mother had her age in the Bible. She
said she was about fifteen years old when I was born. From what she told
me, I must be about seventy-eight years old. She taught me that I was
born on Sunday, on the thirtieth of January, in the year before the War.

"My mother's name was Myles. I don't know what her first master's name
was. She told me I was born in Phelps County, Missouri; I guess you'd
call it St. Louis now. I am giving you the straight truth just as she
gave it to me.

"From the way she talked, the people what raised her from a child were
good to her. They raised her with their children. Them people fed her
just like they fed their own children.

Color and Birth

"There was a light brownskin boy around there and they give him anything
that he wanted. But they didn't like my mother and me--on account of my
color. They would talk about it. They tell their children that when I
got big enough, I would think I was good as they was. I couldn't help my
color. My mother couldn't either.

"My mother's mistress had three boys, one twenty-one, one nineteen, and
one seventeen. Old mistress had gone away to spend the day one day.
Mother always worked in the house. She didn't work on the farm in
Missouri. While she was alone, the boys came in and threw her down on
the floor and tied her down so she couldn't struggle, and one after the
other used her as long as they wanted for the whole afternoon. Mother
was sick when her mistress came home. When old mistress wanted to know
what was the matter with her, she told her what the boys had done. She
whipped them and that's the way I came to be here.

Sales and Separations

"My mother was separated from her mother when she was three years old.
They sold my mother away from my grandmother. She don't know nothing
about her people. She never did see her mother's folks. She heard from
them. It must have been after freedom. But she never did get no full
understanding about them. Some of them was in Kansas City, Kansas. My
grandmother, I don't know what became of her.

"When my mother was sold into St. Louis, they would have sold me away
from her but she cried and went on so that they bought me too. I don't
know nothing about it myself, but my mother told me. I was just nine
months old then. They would call it refugeeing. These people that had
raised her wanted to get something out of her because they found out
that the colored people was going to be free. Those white people in
Missouri didn't have many slaves. They just had four slaves--my mother,
myself, another woman and an old colored man called Uncle Joe. They
didn't get to sell him because he bought hisself. He made a little money
working on people with rheumatism. They would ran the niggers from state
to state about that time to keep them from getting free and to get
something out of them. My mother was sold into Mississippi after
freedom. Then she was refugeed from one place to another through Helena
to Trenton (?), Arkansas.


"My mother used to laugh at that. The master would do all the marryin'.
I have heard her say that many a time. They would call themselves
jumpin' the broom. I don't know what they did. Whatever the master said
put them together. I don't know just how it was fixed up, but they helt
the broom and master would say, 'I pronounce you man and wife' or
something like that.

Ku Klux

"My mother talked about the Ku Klux but I don't know much about them.
She talked about how they would ride and how they would go in and
destroy different people's things. Go in the smoke house and eat the
people's stuff. She said that they didn't give the colored people much
trouble. Sometimes they would give them something to eat.

"When they went to a place where they didn't give the colored people
much to eat, what they didn't destroy they would say, 'Go get it.' I
don't know how it was but the Ku Klux didn't have much use for certain
white people and they would destroy everything they had.

"I have lived in Arkansas about all my life. I have been in Little Rock
ever since January 30, 1879. I don't know how I happened to move on my
birthday. My husband brought me here for my rheumatism.

"I married in 1879 and moved here from Marianna. I had lived in Helena
before Marianna.


"The niggers voted in Marianna and in Helena. They voted in Little Rock
too. I didn't know any of them. It seems like some of the people didn't
make so much talk about it. They did, I guess, though. Many of the
farmers would tell their hands who they wanted them to vote for, and
they would do it.

"Them was critical times. A man would kill you if he got beat. They
would say, 'So and so lost the lection,' and then somebody would go to
Judgment. I remember once they had a big barbecue in Helena just after
the 'lection. They had it for the white and for the colored alike. We
didn't know there was any trouble. The shooting started on a hill where
everybody could see. First thing you know, one man fell dead. Another
dropped down on all fours bleeding, but he retch in under him and
dragged out a pistol and shot down the man that shot him. That was a sad
time. Niggers and white folks were all mixed up together and shooting.
It was the first time I had ever been out. My mother never would let me
go out before that.


"I ain't able to do much of anything now. I used to make a good living
as a dressmaker. I can't sew now because of my eyes. I used to make many
a dollar before my eyes got to failing me. Make pants, dresses,
anything. When you get old, you fail in what you been doing. I don't get
anything from the government. They don't give me any kind of help."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: John Peterson, 1810 Eureka Street,
                    Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 80

"I was small but I can remember some 'bout slavery days. I was born down
here in Louisiana.

"I seed dem Yankees come through. Dey stopped dere and broke up all de
bee gums. Just tore 'em up. And took what dey could eat and went on. Dey
was doin' all dey _could_ do. No tellin' what dey _didn't_ do. People
what owned de place just run off and left. Yankees come dere in de
night. I 'member dat. Had ever'thing excited, so my white folks just
skipped out. Oh, yes, dey come back after the Yankees had gwine on.

"You could hear dem guns shootin' around. I heered my mother and father
say de Yankees was fightin' to free slavery.

"Run off? Oh Lawd, yes ma'am, I heered 'em say dey was plenty of 'em run

"George Swapsy was our owner. I know one thing, dey beat me enough. Had
me watchin' de garden to keep de chickens out. And sometimes I'd git to
playin' and fergit and de chickens would git in de garden, and I'd pay
for it too. I can 'member dat. Yes'm, dat was before freedom. Dey was
whippin' all de colored people--and me too.

"Yes'm, dey give us plenty to eat, but dey didn't give us no clothes. I
was naked half my time. Dat was when I was a little fellow.

"We all belonged to de same man. Dey never did 'part us. But my mother
was sold away from her people--and my father, too. He come from

"No ma'am, dey didn't have a big plantation--just a little place cleared
up in the woods.

"He didn't have no wife--just two grown sons and dey bof went to the

"Mars George died 'fore peace declared. He was a old fellow--and mean as
he could be.

"I never went to school till I was sixteen or seventeen years old. Dere
was a colored fellow had a little learnin' and we hired him two nights
in de week for three dollars a month. Did it for three years. I can read
a little and write my own name and sort of 'tend to my own business.

"Yes'm, I used to vote after I got grown. Yes'm, I did vote Republican.
But de white people stopped us from votin'. Dat was when Seymour and
Blair was runnin', and I ain't voted none since--I just quit. I've known
white people to go to the polls wif der guns and keep de colored folks
from votin'.

"Oh, dey was plenty of Ku Klux. I've known 'em to ketch people and whip
'em and kill 'em. Dey didn't bother me--I didn't give 'em a chance. Ku
Klux--I sure 'member dem.

"Younger generation? Well, Miss, you're a little too hard for me. Hard
to tell what'll become of 'em. I know one thing--dey is wiser. Oh, my
Lawd! A chile a year old know more'n I did when I was ten. We didn't
have no chance. Didn't have nobody to learn us nothin'. People is just
gittin' wuss ever' day. Killin' 'em up ever' day. Wuss now than dey was
ten years ago."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Louise Pettis, Brinkley, Arkansas
Age: 59

"My mama was born at Aiken, South Carolina. She was Frances Rotan. I was
born at Elba, South Carolina, forty miles below Augusta, Georgia. My
papa was born at Macon, Georgia. Both my parents was slaves. He farmed
and was a Baptist preacher. Mama was a cook.

"Mama was owned by some of the Willis. There was three; Mike, Bill, and
Logie Willis, all brothers, and she lived with them all but who owned
her I don't know. She never was sold. Papa wasn't either. Mama lived at
Aiken till papa married her. She belong to some of the Willis. They
married after freedom. She had three husbands and fifteen children.

"Mama had a soldier husband. He took her to James Island. She runned off
from him. Got back across the sea to Charleston to Aunt Anette's. She
was mama's sister. Mama sent back to Aiken and they got her back to her
folks. Aunt Anette had been sold to folks at Charleston.

"Grandma was Rachel Willis. She suckled some of the Willis children.
Mama suckled me and Mike Willis together. His mama got sick and my mama
took him and raised him. She got well but their names have left me. When
we got sick the Willis women would send a hamper basket full of
provisions, some cooked and some to be cooked. I used to sweep their
yards. They was white sand and not a sprig of grass nor a weed in there.

"Mama and papa was both slavery niggers and they spoke mighty well of
their owners.

"Papa said in slavery times about two nights in a week they would have a
dance. He would slip off and go. Sometimes he would get a pass. He was a
figger caller till he 'fessed religion. One time the pattyrollers come
in. They said, 'All got passes tonight.' When they had about danced down
my daddy got a shovelful of live coals and run about scattering it on
the floor. All the niggers run out and he was gone too. It was a dark
night. A crowd went up the road and here come the pattyrollers. One run
into grapevines across the road and tumbled off his horse. The niggers
took to the woods then. Pa tole us about how he studied up a way to get
himself and several others outer showing their passes that night. Master
never found that out on him.

"During the War they sent a lot of the meat to feed the soldiers on and
kept the skins and sides. They tole them if the Yankees ask them if they
had enough to eat say, 'See how greasy and slick I is.' They greased
their legs and arms to make them shine and look fat. The dust made the
chaps look rusty.

"Papa saved his young mistress' life. His master was gone to war. He had
promised with others to take care of her. The Yankees come and didn't
find meat. It was buried. They couldn't find much. They got mad and
burned the house. Pa was a boy. He run up there and begged folks not to
burn the house; they promised to take care of everything. Papa begged to
let him get his mistress and three-day-old baby. They cursed him but he
run in and got her and the baby. The house fell in before they got out
of the yard. He took her to the quarters. Papa was overstrained carrying
a log and limped as long as he lived.

"Pa was hired out and they was goner whoop him and he run off and got
back to the master. Ma nor pa was never sold.

"We had a reason to come out here to Arkansas. A woman had a white
husband and a black one too. The black husband told the white husband
not come about there no more. He come on. The black man killed the white
man at his door. They lynched six or seven niggers. They sure did kill
him. That dissatisfied all the niggers. That took place in Barnwell
County, South Carolina. Three train loads of us left. There was fifteen
in our family. We was doing well. My pa had cattle and money. They
stopped the train befo' and behind us--the train we was on. Put the
Arkansas white man in Augusta jail. They stopped us all there. We got to
come on. We was headed for Pine Bluff. We got down there 'bout Altheimer
and they was living in tents. Pa said he wasn't goiner tent, he didn't
run away from South Carolina and he'd go straight back. Mr. Aydelott got
eight families on track at Rob Roy to come to Biscoe. We got a house
here. Pa was old and they would listen at what he said. He made a speech
at Rob Roy and told them let's come to Biscoe. Eleven families come. He
had two hundred or three hundred dollars then in his pocket to rattle.
He could get more. He grieved for South Carolina, so he went back and
took us but ma wanted to coma back. They stayed back there a year or
two. We made a crop. Pa was the oldest boss in his crowd. We all come
back. There was more room out here and so many of us.

"The schools was better out there. I went to Miss Scofield's College.
All the teachers but three was colored. There was eight or ten colored
teachers. It was at Aiken, South Carolina. Miss Criley was our sewing
mistress. Miss Criley was white and Miss Scofield was too. I didn't have
to pay. Rich folks in the North run the school. No white children went
there. I think the teachers was sent there.

"I taught school out here at Blackton and Moro and in Prairie County
about. I got tired of it. I married and settled down.

"We owns my home here. My husband was a railroad man. We lives by the

"I don't know what becoming of the young generation. They shuns the
field work. Times is faster than I ever seen them. I liked the way times
was before that last war (World War). Reckon when will they get back
like that?"

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Henry C. Pettus, Marianna, Arkansas
Age: 80

"I was born in Wilkes County, near Washington, Georgia. My mother's
owners was Dr. Palmer and Sarah Palmer. They had three boys; Steve,
George, and Johnie. They lived in Washington and the farm I lived on was
five miles southeast of town. It was fifty miles from Augusta, Georgia.
He had another farm on the Augusta Road. He had a white man overseer.
His name was Tom Newsom and his nephew, Jimmie Newsom, helped. He was
pretty smooth most of the time. He got rough sometimes. Tom's wife was
named Susie Newsom.

"Dick Gilbert had a place over back of ours. They sent things to the
still at Dick Gilbert's. Sent peaches and apples and surplus corn. The
still was across the hill from Dr. Palmer's farm. He didn't seem to
drink much but the boys did. All three did. Dr. Palmer died in 1861.
People kept brandy and whiskey in a closet and some had fancy bottles
they kept, one brandy, one whiskey, on their mantel. Some owners passed
drinks around like on Sunday morning. Dr. Palmer didn't do that but it
was done on some places before the Civil War. It wasn't against the law
to make spirits for their own use. That is the way it was made. Meal and
flour was made the same way then.

"Mother lived in Dr. Palmer's office in Warren County. It was a very
nice log house and had a fence to make the front on the road and the
back enclosed like. Inside the fence was a tanyard and house at some
distance and a very nice log house where Mr. Hudson lived. Dr. Palmer
and Mr. Hudson had that place together. The shoemaker lived in
Washington in Dr. Palmer's back yard. He had his office and home all in
the same. Mr. Anthony made all the shoes for Dr. Palmer's slaves and for
white folks in town. He made fine nice shoes. He was considered a high
class shoemaker.

"Mother was a field hand. She wasn't real black. My father never did do
much. He was a sort of a foreman. He rode around. He was lighter than I
am. He was old man Pettus' son. Old man Pettus had a great big
farm--land! land! land! Wiley and Milton Roberts had farms between Dr.
Palmer and old man Pettus' farm. Mother originally belong to old man
Pettus. He give Miss Sarah Palmer her place on the Augusta Road and his
son the place on which his own home was. They was his white children. He
had two. Mother was hired by her young mistress, Dr. Palmer's wife, Miss
Sarah. Father rode around, upheld by the old man Pettus. He never worked
hard. I don't know if old man Pettus raised grandma or not; he never
grandpa. He was a Terral. He died when I was small. Grandpa was a field
hand. He was the only colored man on the place allowed to have a dog. He
was Dr. Palmer's stock man. They raised their own stock; sheep, goats,
cows, hogs, mules, and horses.

"None of us was ever sold that I know of. Mother had three boys and
three girls. One sister died in infancy. One sister was married and
remained in Georgia. Two of my brothers and one sister come to Arkansas.
Mother brought us boys to a new country. Father got shot and died from
the womb. He was a captain in the war. He was shot accidentally. Some of
them was drinking and pranking with the guns. We lived on at Dr.
Palmer's place till 1866. That was our first year in Arkansas. That was
nearly two years. We never was abused. My early life was very favorable.

"The quarters was houses built on each side of the road. Some set off in
the field. They must have had stock law. We had pastures. The houses was
joining the pasture. Mr. Pope had a sawmill on his place. The saw run
perpendicularly up and down. He had a grist mill there too. I like to go
to mill. It was dangerous for young boys. Mr. Pope's farm joined us on
one side. Oxen was used as team for heavy loads. Such a contrast in less
than a century as trucks are in use now. I learned about oxen. They
didn't go fast 'ceptin' when they ran away. They would run at the sight
of water in hot weather. They was dangerous if they saw the river and
had to go down a steep bank, load or no load the way they went. If it
was shallow they would wade but if it was deep they would swim unless
the load was heavy enough to pull them down. Oxen was interesting to me

"Children didn't stay in town like they do now. They was left to think
more for themselves. They hardly ever got to go to town.

"We raised a pet pig. Nearly every year we raised a pet pig. When mother
would be out that pig would get my supper in spite of all I could do.
The pig was nearly as large as I was. I couldn't do anything. We had a
watermelon patch and sometimes sold Dr. Palmer melons. He let us have a
melon patch and a cotton patch our own to work. Mother worked in
moonlight and at odd times. They give that to her extra. We helped her
work it. They give old people potato patches and let the children have
goober rows. Land was plentiful. Dr. Palmer wasn't stingy with his
slaves--very liberal. He was a man willing to live and let live so far
as I can know of him.

"During the Civil War things was quiet like where I was. The soldiers
didn't come through till after the war was over. Then the Union soldiers
took Washington. They come there after the surrender.


"The Union soldiers came in a gang out from Washington all over the
surrounding country, scouting about, and notified all the black folks of
freedom. My folks made arrangements to stay on. Two colored men went
through the country getting folks to move to southwest Georgia but
before mother decided to move anywhere along come two men and they had a
helper, Mr. Allen. It was Mr. William H. Wood and Mr. Peters over here
on Cat Island. They worked from Washington, Georgia. We consented to
leave and come to Arkansas. We started and went to Barnetts station to
Augusta, to Atlanta. There was so many tracks out of order, bridges been
burnt. We crossed the river at Chattanooga, then to Nashville, then to
Johnsonville. We took a boat to Cairo, then to Memphis, then on to some
landing out here. Well, I never heard. We went to the Woods' place and
made a crop here in Arkansas in 1866. I worked with John I. Foreman till
1870 and went back to the Woods' farm till 1880. Then I went to the Bush
place (now McCullough farm). I farmed all along through life till the
last twelve years. I started preaching in 1875. I preach yet
occasionally. I preached here thirty-six years in the Marianna Baptist
church. I quit last year. My health broke down.

"Chills was my worst worry in these swamps. We made fine crops. In 1875
yellow fever come on. Black folks didn't have yellow fever at first but
they later come to have it. Some died of it. White folks had died in
piles. It was hard times for some reason then. It was hard to get
something to eat. We couldn't get nothing from Memphis. Arrangements was
made to get supplies from St. Louis to Little Rock and we could go get
them and send boats out here.

"In 1875 was the tightest, hardest time in all my life, A chew of
tobacco cost ten cents. In 1894-'95 hard times struck me again. Cotton
was four and five cents a pound, flour three dollars a barrel, and meat
four and five cents a pound. We raised so much of our meat that didn't
make much difference. Money was so scarce.

"Ku Klux--I never was in the midst of them. They was pretty bad in
Georgia and in northeast part of this county. They was bad so I heard.
They sent for troops at Helena to settle things up at about Marion,
Arkansas now. I heard more of the Ku Klux in Georgia than I heard after
we come here. And as time went on and law was organized the Ku Klux
disbanded everywhere.

"Traveling conditions was bad when we came to Arkansas. We rode in box
cars, shabby passenger coaches. The boats was the best riding. As I told
you we went way around on account of burnt out and torn up bridges. The
South looked shabby.

"I haven't voted since 1927 except I voted in favor of the Cotton
Control Saturday before last.

"Times has come up to a most deplorable condition. Craving exists.
Ungratefulness. People want more than they can make. Some don't work
hard and some won't work at all. I don't know how to improve conditions
except by work except economical living. Some would work if they could.
Some can work but won't. Some do work hard. I believe in bread by the
sweat of the brow, and all work.

"The slaves didn't expect anything. They didn't expect war. It was going
on a while before my parents heard of it. I was a little boy. They
didn't know what it was for except their freedom. They didn't know what
freedom was. They couldn't read. They never seen a newspaper like I take
the Commercial Appeal now. I went to school a little in Arkansas. My
father being old man Pettus' son as he was may have been given something
by Miss Sarah or Dr. Palmer or by his white son, but the old man was
dead and I doubt that. Father was killed and mother left. Mother knew
she had a home on Dr. Palmer's land as long as she needed one but she
left to do better. In some ways we have done better but it was hard to
live in these bottoms. It is a fine country now.

"I own eighty acres of land and this house. (Good house and furnished
well.) We made six bales of cotton last year. My son lives here and his
wife--a Chicago reared mulatto, a cook. He runs my farm. I live very

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Dolly Phillips, Clarendon, Arkansas
Age: 67

"I ain't no ex-slave. I am 67 years old. I was born out here on the
Mullins place. My mother's master was Mr. Ricks and Miss Emma Ricks.

"My mother named Diana and my father Henry Mullins. I never saw my grand
fathers and I seen one grandma I remembers. My mother had ten children.
My father said he never owned nuthin' in his life but six horses. When
they was freed they got off to their selves and started farming. See
they belong to different folks. My father's master was a captain of a
mixed regiment. They was in the war four years. I heard 'em say they
went to Galveston, Texas. The Yankees was after 'em. But I don't know
how it was.

"I heard 'em say they put their heads under big black pot to pray. They
say sing easy, pray easy. I forgot whut all she say.

"I lives wid my daughter. I gets commodities from the Welfare some. The
young folks drinks a heap now. It look lack a waste of money to me."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person Interviewed: Tony Piggy
                    Brinkley, Ark.
Age: 75

"I was born near Selma, Alabama, but I was raised in Mississippi. My
grandpa was sold from South Carolina to Moster Alexander Piggy. He
didn't talk plain but my papa didn't nother. Moster Piggy bought a gang
of black folks in South Carolina and brought em into the state of
Alabama. My papa was mighty near full-blood African, I'll tell you. Now
ma was mixed.

"I'm most too young to recollect the war. Right after the war we had
small pox. My uncle died and there was seven children had em at one
time. The bushwhackers come in and kicked us around--kicked my uncle
around. We lived at Union Town, Alabama then.

"Aunt Connie used to whip us. Mama had no time; she was a chambermaid
(housewoman). The only thing I recollect bout slavery time to tell is
Old Mistress pour out a bushell of penders (peanuts) on the grass to see
us pick em up and set out eating em. When they went to town they would
bring back things like cheese good to eat. We got some of what they had
most generally. She wasn't so good; she whoop me with a cow whip. She'd
make pull candy for us too. I got a right smart of raisin' in a way but
I growed up to be a wild young man. I been converted since then.

"Well, one day pa come to our house and told mama, 'We free, don't have
to go to the house no more, git ready, we all goin' to Mississippi.
Moster Piggy goiner go. He goner rent us twenty acres and we goner take
two cows and a mule.' We was all happy to be free and goin' off
somewhere. Moster Piggy bought land in Mississippi and put families
renters on it. Moster Piggy was rough on the grown folks but good to the
children. The work didn't let up. We railly had more clearin' and fences
to make. His place in Alabama was pore and that was new ground.

"There was all toll nine children in my family. Ma was named Matty
Piggy. Papa was named Ezra Piggy. Moster Alexander Piggy's wife named
Harriett. I knowed Ed, Charley, Bowls, Ells, and Liza. That's all I ever

"I have done so many things. I run on a steamboat from Cairo to New
Orleans--Kate Adams and May F. Carter. They called me a Rouster--that
means a working man. I run on a boat from Newport to Memphis. Then I
farmed, done track work on the railroad, and farmed some more.

"The young generation ain't got respect for old people and they tryin'
to live without work. I ain't got no fault to find with the times if I
was bout forty years younger than I is now I could work right ahead."

Interviewer: Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Ella Pittman
                    2409 West Eleventh Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 84

"Yes ma'm, I was born in slavery days. I tell you I never had no name.
My old master named me--Just called me 'Puss? and said I could name
myself when I got big enough.

"My old master was named Mac Williams. But where I got free at was at
Stricklands. Mac Williams' daughter married a Strickland and she drawed
me. She was tollable good to me but her husband wa'nt.

"In slavery times I cleaned up the house and worked in the house. I
worked in the field a little but she kept me busy in the house. I was
busy night and day.

"No ma'm, I never did go to school--never did go to school.

"After I got grown I worked in the farm. When I wasn't farmin' I was
doin' other kinds of work. I used to cut and sew and knit and crochet. I
stayed around the white folks so much they learned me to do all kinds of
work. I never did buy my children any stockins--I knit 'em myself.

"After old Master died old Miss hired us out to Ben Deans, but he was so
cruel mama run away and went back to old Miss. I know we stayed at Ben
Deans till they was layin the crop by and I think he whipped mama that
morning so she run away.

"Yes ma'm, I sho do member bout the Klu Klux--sho do. They looked
dreadful--nearly scare you to death. The Klu Klux was bad, and the
paddyrollers too.

"I can't think of nothin' much to tell you now but I know all about
slavery. They used to build 'little hell', made something like a
barbecue pit and when the niggers didn't do like they wanted they'd lay
him over that 'little hell'.

"I've done ever kind of work--maulin rails, clearin up new ground. They
was just one kind of work I didn't do and that was workin' with a
grubbin' hoe. I tell you I just worked myself to death till now I ain't
able to do nothin'."

Interviewer's Comment

Ella Pittman's son, Almira Pittman was present when I interviewed his
mother. He was born in 1884. He added this information to what Ella told

"She is the mother of nine children--three living. I use to hear mama
tell about how they did in slavery times. If she could hear good now she
could map it out to you."

I asked him why he didn't teach his mother to read and write and he
said, "Well, I tell you, mama is high strung. She didn't have no real
name till she went to Louisiana."

These people live in a well-furnished home. The living room had a rug,
overstuffed furniture and an organ. Ella was clean.

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Ella Pittman
                    2417 W. Eleventh Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 84
[TR: Appears to be same as last informant despite different address.]

"Here's one that lived then. I can remember fore the Civil War started.
That was in the State of North Carolina where I was bred and born in
March 1853. Mac Williams, he was my first owner and John Strickland was
my last owner. That was durin' of the war. My white folks told me I was
thirteen when peace was declared. They told me in April if I make no
mistake. That was in North Carolina. I grewed up there and found my
childun there. That is--seven of them. And then I found two since I been
down in here. I been in Arkansas about forty years.

"When the war come I heard em say they was after freein' the people.

"My mother worked in the field and old mistress kep' me in the house.
She married a widow-man and he had four childun and then she had one so
there was plenty for me to do. Yes ma'm!

"I ain't never been to school a day in my life. They didn't try to send
me after freedom. I had a very, very bad, cruel stepfather and he sent
all his childun to school but wouldn't send me. I stayed there till I
was grown. I sho did. Then I married. Been married just once. Never had
but that one man in my life. He was a very good man, too. Cose he was a
poor man but he was good to me.

"Yes ma'm, I sho did see the Ku Klux and the paddyrollers, too. They
done em bad I tell you.

"I know they was a white man they called Old Man Ford. He dug a pit just
like a barbecue pit, and he would burn coals just like you was goin' to
barbecue. Then he put sticks across the top and when any of his niggers
didn't do right, he laid em across that pit. I member they called it Old
Ford's Hell.

"I had a bad time fore freedom and a bad time after freedom till after I
married. I'm doin' tollably well now. I lives with my son and his wife
and she treats me very well. I can't live alone cause I'se subject to
inagestin' and I takes sick right sudden.

"I'm just as thankful as I can be that I'm gettin' along as well as I

"I stayed in the North in Detroit one year. I liked it very well. I
liked the white people very well. They was so sociable. My son lives
there and works for Henry Ford. My oldest son stays in Indiana.

"It was so cold I come back down here. I'se gettin' old and I needs to
be warm. Good-bye."

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Sarah Pittman
                    1320 W. Twentieth Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: About 82

"I never saw nothing between white folks and colored folks. My white
folks were good to us. My daddy's white folks were named Jordan--Jim
Jordan--and my mama's folks were Jim Underwood. And they were good. My
mama's and father's folks both were good to the colored folks. As the
song goes, 'I can tell it everywhere I go.' And thank the Lord,
I'm here to tell it too. I raised children, grandchildren, and
great-grandchildren you see there. That is my great-grandson playing
there. He is having the time of his life. I raised him right too. You
see how good he minds me. He better not do nothin' different. He's about
two years old.

"I was born in Union Parish, Louisiana way up yonder in them hills, me
and my folks, and they come down here.

"Jim Jordan married one of the Taylor girls--Jim Taylor's daughter. The
old folks gave mama to them to do their housework. My father and mama
didn't belong to the same masters. He died the first year of the
surrender. He was a wonderful man. He was a Jackson. On Saturday night
he would stay with us till Sunday. On Sunday night he would go home. He
would play with us. Now he and mama both are dead. They are gone home
and I am waiting to go. They're waiting for me in the kingdom there. As
the song says, 'I am waiting on the promises of God.'

"My mama did housework in slave time. I don't know what my father did.
In them days you done some working from plantation to plantation. Them
folks is all gone in now near about. Guess mine will be the next time.

Early Childhood

"First thing I remember is staying at the house. We et at the white
folks' house. We would go there in the evening before sundown and git
our supper. One time Jim Underwood made me mad. Mama said something he
didn't like. And he tied her thumbs together and tied them to a limb.
Her feet could touch the ground--they weren't off the ground. He said
she could stay there till she thought better of it.

"Before the surrender I didn't do nothing in the line of work 'cept
'tend to my mother's children. I didn't do no work at all 'cept that. My
white folks were good to me. All my folks 'cept me are gone. My grandmas
and uncles and things all settin' up yonder. All my children what is
dead, they're up yonder. I ain't got but three living, and they're on
their way. Minnie and Mamie and Annie, that is all I got. Mamie's the
youngest and she's got grandchildren.

How Freedom Came

"The way we learned that freedom had come, my uncle come to the fence
and told my mama we were free and I went with her. Sure he'd been to the
War. He come back with his budget. Don't you know what a budget is? You
ain't never been to war, have you? Well, you oughter know what a budget
is. That's a knapsack. It had a pocket on each side and a water can on
each shoulder. He come home with his budget on his back, and he come to
the fence and told mama we was free and I heered him.

Right After Freedom

"Right after freedom my mama and them stayed with the same people they
had been with. The rest of the people scattered wherever they wanted to
But my uncle come there and got mama. They moved back to the Taylors
then where my grandma was. Wouldn't care if I had some of that good old
spring water now where my grandma lived!

"None of my people were ever bothered by the pateroles or the Ku Klux.

"We come to Arkansas because we had kinfolks down here. Just picked up
and come on. I been here a long time. I don't know how long, I don't
keep up with nothing like that. When my husband was living I just
followed him. He said that this was a good place and we could make a
good living. So I just come on. When he died, those gravediggers dug his
grave deep enough to put another man on top of him. But that don't hurt
him none. He's settin' in the kingdom. He was a deacon in the church and
his word went. The whole plantation would listen to him and do what he
said. Everybody respected him because he was right. I was just married
once and no man can take his place. He was the first one and the best
one and the last one. He was heaven bound and he went on there. I don't
know just how long I was married. It is in the Bible. It is in there in
big letters. I can't get that right now. It's so big and heavy. But it's
in there. I think we left it in Detroit when I was there, and it ain't
come back here yet. But I know we lived together a long time.

"I remember the old slave-time songs but I can't think of them just now.
'Come to Jesus' is one of them. 'Where shall I be when the first trumpet
sounds?', that's another one. Another one is: 'If I could, I surely
would; Set on the rock where Moses stood--first verse or stanza. All of
my sins been taken away, taken away--chorus. Mary wept and Martha
moaned, Mary's gone to a world unknown--second verse or stanza. All of
my sins are taken away, taken away--chorus."

"I don't think nothing 'bout these young folks. When they was turned
loose a lot of them went wild and the young folks followed their
leaders. But mine followed me and my daddy.

"My grandmother had a big old bay horse and she was midwife for the
white and the colored folks. She would put her side saddle on the old
horse and get up and go, bless her heart; and me and my cousin had to
stay there and take care of things. She's gone now. The Lord left me
here for some reason. And I'm enjoyin' it too. I have got my first
cussin' to do. I don't like to hear nobody cuss. I belong to the church.
I belong to the Baptist church and I go to the Arch Street Church."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Mary Poe, Forrest City, Arkansas
Age: 60

"My papa used to tell about two men he knowd stealing a hog. He was
Wyatt Alexander. He was feeding one evening and the master was out there
too that evening. They overheard two colored men inside the crib lot
house. They was looking at the hogs. They planned to come back after
dark and get a hog. The way it turned out master dressed up ragged and
got inside that night. The first man come. They got a shoat and killed
it, knocked it in the head. The master took it on his back to the log
cabin. When he knocked, his wife opened the door. She seen who it was.
She nearly fell out and when he seen who it was he run off. The master
throwed the hog down. They all got the hot water and went to work. He
left a third there and took part to the other man. He done gone to bed
and he took a third on home. He said he wanted to see if they needed
meat or wanted to keep in stealing practice. He didn't want them to
waste his big hog meat neither. Said that man never come home for two
weeks, 'fraid he'd get a whooping. No, they said he never got a whooping
but the meat was near by gone.

"Seem lack hog stealing was common in North Carolina in them days from
the way he talked.

"Papa said he went down in the pasture one night to get a shoat. He said
they had a fine big drove. He got one knocked over an' was carrying it
out across the fence to the field. He seen another man. He couldn't see.
It was dark. He throwed the hog over on him. The man took the shoat on
to his house and papa was afraid to say much about it. He said way 'long
towards day this man come bringing about half of that hog cleaned and
ready to salt away. They got up and packed it away out of sight.

"My mother was named Lucy Alexander, too."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: W.L. Pollacks
                    Brinkley, Arkansas
Age: 68

"I was born in Shelby County Tennessee. My folks all come from Richmond,
Virginia. They come to Kentucky and then on to Tennessee. I am 68 years
old. My father's master was Joe Rollacks and Mrs. Chicky they called his
wife. My mother's master was Joe Ricks and they all called his wife Miss
Fee. I guess it was Pheobe or Josephine but they never called her by
them names. Seemed like they was all kin folks. I heard my mother say
she dress up in some of the white folks dresses and hitch up the buggy,
take dinner and carry two girls nearly grown out to church and to big
picnics. She liked that. The servants would set the table and help the
white folks plates at the table. Said they had a heap good eating. She
had a plenty work to do but she got to take the girls places where the
parents didn't want to go. She said they didn't know what to do wid
freedom. She said it was like weening a child what never learned to eat
yet. I forgot what they did do. She said work was hard to find and money
scarce. They find some white folks feed em to do a little work. She said
a nickle looked big as a dollar now. They couldn't buy a little bit.
They like never get nough money to buy a barrel of flour. It was so
high. Seem like she say I was walking when they got a barrel of flour.
So many colored folks died right after freedom. They caught consumption.
My mother said they was exposed mo than they been used to and mixing up
in living quarters too much what caused it. My father voted a Republican
ticket. I ain't voted much since I come to Arkansas. I been here 32
years. My farm failed over in Tennessee. I was out lookin' round for
farmin' land, lookin' round for good work. I farmed then I worked seven
or eight years on the section, then I helped do brick work till now I
can't do but a mighty little. I had three children but they all dead. I
got sugar dibeates.

"The present times are tough on sick people. It is hard for me to get a
living. I find the young folks all for their own selves. If I was well I
could get by easy. If a man is strong he can get a little work along.

"The times and young generation both bout to run away wid themselves,
and the rest of the folks can't stop em 'pears to me like."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: "Doc" John Pope, Biscoe, Arkansas
Age: 87

I am 87 years old for a fact. I was born in De Soto County, Mississippi,
eight miles south of Memphis, Tennessee. No I didn't serve in de War but
my father Gus Pope did. He served in de War three years and never came
home. He served in 63rd Regiment Infantry of de Yankee army. He died
right at the surrender. I stayed on de farm till the surrender. We
scattered around den. My father was promised $300.00 bounty and 160
acres of land. Dey was promised dat by the Constitution of the United
States. Every soldier was promised dat. No he never got nary penny nor
nary acre of land. We ain't got nuthin. De masters down in Mississippi
did help 'em where they stayed on. I never stayed on. I left soon as de
fightin was gone. I was roamin round in Memphis and man asked me if I
wanted to go to college. He sent a train load to Fitz (Fisk) University.
I stayed there till I graduated. I studied medicine generally. Sandy
Odom, the preacher at Brinkley, was there same time as I was. He show is
old. He's up in ninety now. He had a brother here till he died. He was a
fine doctor. He got more practice around here than any white doctor in
this portion of de county. Fitz University was a fine college. It was
run by rich folks up north. I don't know how long I stayed there. It was
a good while. I went to Isaac Pope, my uncle. He was farming. Briscoe
owned the Pope niggers at my first recollection. He brought my uncle and
a lot more over here where he owned a heap of dis land. It was all
woods. Dats how I come here.

After de Civil War? Dey had to "Root hog or die". From 1860-1870 the
times was mighty hard. People rode through the county and killed both
white and black. De carpet bagger was bout as bad as de Ku Kluck.

I came here I said wid John Briscoe. They all called him Jack Briscoe,
in 1881. I been here ever since cept W.T. Edmonds and P.H. Conn sent me
back home to get hands. I wrote 'em how many I had. They wired tickets
to Memphis. I fetched 52 families back. I been farmin and practicin all
my life put near.

I show do vote. I voted the last time for President Hoover. The first
time I voted was at the General Grant election. I am a Republican,
because it is handed down to me. That's the party of my race. I ain't
going to change. That's my party till I dies. We has our leader what
instructs us how to vote.

Dey say dey goiner pay 60 cents a hundred but I ain't able to pick no
cotton. No I don't get no help from de relief. I think the pore class of
folks in a mighty bad fix. Is what I think. The nigger is hard hit and
the pore trash dey call 'em is too. I don't know what de cause is. It's
been jess this way ever since I can recollect. No times show ain't one
bit better. I owns dis house and dats all. I got one daughter.

I went to Fitz (Fisk) University in 1872. The folks I told you about was
there then too. Their names was Dr. E.B. Odom of Biscoe and his brother
Sandy Odom. He preaches at Brinkley now. Doc Odom is dead. He served on
the Biscoe School Board a long time wid two white men.

I don't know much about the young generation. They done got too smart
for me to advise. The young ones is gettin fine educations but it ain't
doin 'em no good. Some go north and cook. It don't do the balance of 'em
no good. If they got education they don't lack de farm. De sun too hot.
No times ain't no better an de nigger ain't no better off en he used to
be. A little salary dun run 'em wild.

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: William Porter
                    1818 Louisiana Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 81
Occupation: Janitor of church

"Yes'm I lived in slavery times. I was born in 1856. I was borned in
Tennessee but the most of my life has been in Arkansas.

"I remember when Hood's raid was. That was the last fight of the war. I
recollect seein' the soldiers marchin' night and day for two days. I saw
the cavalry men and the infant men walking. I heard em say the North was
fightin' the South. They called the North Yankees and the South Rebels.

"Some of the Tennessee niggers was called free niggers. There was a
colored man in Pulaski, Tennessee who owned slaves.

"My father was workin' to buy his freedom and had just one more year to
work when peace come. His master gave him a chance to buy his freedom.
He worked for old master in the daytime and at night he worked for
himself. He split rails and raised watermelons.

"My father's master was named Tom Gray at that time. Considering the
times he was a very fair man.

"When the war broke up I was workin' around a barber shop in Nashville,

"The Queen of England offered to buy the slaves and raise them till they
were grown, then give them a horse, a plow and so many acres of ground
but the South wouldn't accept this offer.

"It was the rule of the South to keep the people as ignorant as
possible, but my mother had a little advantage over some. The white
children learned her to read and write, and when freedom came she could
write her name and even scribble out a letter. She gave me my first
lesson, and I started to school in '67. The North sent teachers down
here after the war. They were government schools.

"I was pretty apt in figgers--studied Bay's Arithmetic through the third
book. I was getting along in school, but I slipped away from my people
and was goin' to get a pocket full of money and then go back. First man
I worked for was a colored man and I kept his books for him and was to
get one-fourth of the crop. The first year he settled with me I had $165
clear after I paid all my debts. I done very well. I farmed one more
year, then I come to Pine Bluff and did government work along the
Arkansas River.

"I've done carpenter work and concrete work. I learned it by doing it. I
followed concrete work for a long time. I've hoped to build several
houses here in Pine Bluff and a lot of these streets.

"I have a brother and sister who graduated from Fisk University.

"I think one thing about the younger generation is they need to be more
educated in the way of manners and to have race pride and to be subject
to the laws."

Interviewer: Thomas Elmore Lacy
Person interviewed: Bob Potter, Russellville, Arkansas
Age: 65

"Sure, you oughter remember me--Bob Potter. Used to know you when you
was a boy passin' de house every day go in' down to de old Democrat
printin' office. Knowed yo' brother and all yo' folks. Knowed yo' pappy
mighty well. Is yo' ma and pa livin' now? No suh, I reckin not.

"I was born de seventeenth of September, 1873 right here in
Russellville. Daddy's name was Dick, and mudder's was Ann Potter. Daddy
died before I was born, and I never seed him. Mudder's been dead about
eighteen years. Dey master was named Hale, and he lived up around Dover
somewheres on his farm, but I dunno how dey come by de name Potter.
Well, now, lemme see--oh, yes, dey was freed at Dover after dey come
dere from North Ca'liny. I think my ma was born in West Virginia, and
den dey went to North Ca'liny and den to South Ca'liny, and den come to

"I raised seven boys and lost five chillen. Dere was three girls and
nine boys. All dat's livin' is here except one in Fresno, California. My
old woman here, she tells fortunes for de white folks and belongs to de
Holiness church but I don't belong to none; I let her look after de
religion for de fambly." (Interjection from Mrs. Potter: "Yes suh, you
bet I belongs to de Holiness chu'ch. You got to walk in de light to be
saved, and if you do walk in de light you can't sin. I been saved for a
good many yeahs and am goin' on in de faith. Praise de Lawd!")

"My mudder was sold once for a hundud dollahs and once ag'in for
thirty-eight hundud dollahs. Perhaps dis was jist before dey left West
Virginia and was shipped to North Ca'liny. De master put her upon a box,
she said, made her jump up and pop her heels together three times and
den turn around and pop her heels again to show how strong she was. She
sure was strong and a hard worker. She could cut wood, tote logs, plow,
hoe cotton, and do ever'thing on de place, and lived to be about
ninety-five yeahs old. Yas suh, she was as old or older dan Aunt Joan is
when she died.

"No suh, I used to vote but I quit votin', for votin' never did git me
nothin'; I quit two yeahs ago. You see, my politics didn't suit em.
Maybe I shouldn't be tellin' you but I was a Socialist, and I was
runnin' a mine and wo'kin' fifteen men, and dey was all Socialists, and
de Republicans and Democrats sure put me out of business--dey put me to
de bad.

"Dat was about twelve yeahs ago when I run de mine. I been tryin' to git
me a pension but maybe dat's one reason I can't git it. Oh yes, I owns
my home--dat is, I did own it, but----

"Oh Lawd, yes, I knows a lot of dem old songs like 'Let Our Light
Shine,' and 'De Good Old Gospel Way,' and 'Hark From de Tomb.' Listen,
you oughter hear Elder Beam sing dat one. He's de pastor of de Baptis'
Chu'ch at Fort Smith. He can sure make it ring!

"De young folks of today compa'ed to dem when we was boys? Huh! You jist
can't compaih em--can't be done. Why, a fo'-yeah-old young'un knows mo'
today dan our grandmammies knowed. And in dem days de boys and gals
could go out and play and swing togedder and behave deyselves. We went
in our shu'ttails and hit was all right; we had two shu'ts to weah--one
for every day and one for Sunday--and went in our shu'ttails both every
day and Sunday and was respected. And if you didn't behave you sure got
whupped. Dey didn't put dey arms around you and hug you and den put you
off to sleep. Dey whupped you, and it was real whuppin'.

"Used to hear my mudder talk about de Ku Klux Klan puttin' cotton
between her toes and whuppin' her, and dat's de way dey done us
young'uns when we didn't behave. And we used to have manners den, both
whites and blacks. I wish times was like dem days, but dey's gone.

"Yes, we used to have our tasks to do befo' goin' to bed. We'd have a
little basket of cotton and had to pick de seeds all out of dat cotton
befo' we went to bed. And we could all ca'd and spin--yes suh--make dat
old spinnin' wheel go Z-z-z-z as you walked back and fo'f a-drawin' out
de spool of ya'n. And you could weave cloth and make all yo' own
britches, too. (Here his wife interpolated a homely illustration of the
movement of "de shettle" in the loom weaving--ed.)

"Yes, I mind my mudder tellin' many a time about dem Klan-men, and how
dey whupped white women to make em give up de money dey had hid, and how
dey used to burn dey feet. Yes suh, ain't no times like dem old days,
and I wish we had times like em now. Yes suh, I'll sure come to see you
in town one of dese days. Good mornin'."

NOTE: Bob Potter is a most interesting Negro character--one of the most
genial personalities of the Old South that the interviewer has met
anywhere. His humor is infectious, his voice boisterous, but delightful,
and his uproarious laugh just such as one delights to listen to. And his
narrations seem to ring with veracity.

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Louise Prayer
                    3401 Short West Third, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 80

"I can member seein' the Yankees. My mother died when I was a baby and
my grandmother raised me. I'se goin' on eighty.

"When the Yankees come we piled boxes and trunks in front of the doors
and windows. She'd say, 'You chillun get in the house; the Yankees are
comin'.' I didn't know what 'twas about--I sure didn't.

"I'm honest in mind. You know the Yankees used to come in and whip the
folks. I know they come in and whipped my grandma and when they come in
we chillun went under the bed. Didn't know no better. Why did they whip
her? Oh my God, I don't know bout dat. You know when we chillun saw em
ridin' in a hurry we went in the house and under the bed. I specks
they'd a killed me if they come up to me cause they'd a scared me to

"We lived on the Williams' place. All belonged to the same people. They
give us plenty to eat such as 'twas. But in them days they fed the
chillun mostly on bread and syrup. Sometimes we had greens and
dumplin's. Jus' scald some meal and roll up in a ball and drop in with
the greens. Just a very few chickens we had. I don't love chicken
though. If I can jus' get the liver I'm through with the chicken.

"When I got big enough my grandmother had me in the field. I went to
school a little bit but I didn't learn nothin'. Didn't go long enough.
That I didn't cause the old man had us in the field.

"If we chillun in them days had had the sense these got now, I could
remember more bout things.

"I was a young missy when I married.

"I told you the best I could--that's all I know. I been treated pretty

*** 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 5" ***

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