Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States
Work Projects Administration
Part 6 out of 6
"I heard too much talking at the hotel. They argued a whole heap more
than they do now. They set around and talk about slavery and freedom and
everything else. It made me restless and I run off. I was ashamed to be
seen much less go back. Folks used to have shame.
"In 1868 I lived with John Welch one year. I seen the going out and
coming in. I heard what they was doing. I wasn't afraid of them then. I
lived with one of 'em and I wasn't afraid of 'em. I learned a good deal
about it. They called it uprising and I found out their purpose was to
hold down the nigger. They said they wanted to make them submissive.
They catch 'em and beat 'em half to death. I heard they hung some of
'em. No, I didn't see it. I knew one or two they beat. They took some of
the niggers right out of the cotton patch and dressed them up and
drilled 'em. When they come back they was boastful. Then they had to
beat it out of 'em. Some of 'em didn't want to go back to work. Since I
growed up I thought it out that Mr. Spence was reasonably good to me but
I didn't think so then. It was a restlessness then like it is now 'mong
the young class of folks. The truth is they don't know what they want
nor what to do and they don't do nothing much no time.
"I went to see my mother. I wrote and wrote, had my white folks write
till I found my folks. I went back several times. Mother died in 1902.
We used to could beat rides on freight trains--that was mighty
dangerous. We could work our way on the boats. I got to rambling trying
to do better. I come to Phillips County. They cut it up, named it Lee. I
got down in here and married. I was jus' rambling 'round. I been in Lee
County sixty-one years. I married toreckly after I come here. I been
married twice, both wives dead. I was about twenty-three years old when
I married. I had four children. My last child got killed. A limb fell on
him twenty years ago in April. He was grown and at work in the timber.
"I farmed all my life--seventy years of it. I like it now and if I was
able I would not set up here in town a minute. Jus' till I could get out
there is all time it would take for me to get back to farming. I owned
two little places. I sold the first fifty acres when my wife was sick so
I could do for her. She died. My last wife got sick. I was no 'count and
had to quit work. Mr. Dupree built that little house for me, he said for
all I had done for 'im. He said it would be my home long as I live. He
keeps another old man living out there the same way. Mr. Dupree is
sick--in bad health--skin disease of some sort. We lives back behind
this house. Mr. Dupree is in this house now. (Mr. Dupree has eczema.) I
used to work for him on the farm and in the store.
"I never was a drunkard. That is ruining this country. It is every
Saturday night trade and every day trade with some of them. No, but I
set here and see plenty.
"The present times is better than it used to be 'cause people are
cleverer and considerate in way of living. A sixteen-year-old boy knows
a heap now. Five-year-old boy knows much as a ten-year-old boy used to
know. I don't think the world is going to pieces. It is advancing way I
see it. The Bible says we are to get weaker and wiser. Young folks not
much 'count now to do hard work. Some can.
"I get eight dollars and I work about this place all I am able. It keeps
us both going."
Back to Full Books