Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States
Work Projects Administration

Part 1 out of 4

Produced by Andrea Ball and PG Distributed Proofreaders. Produced from
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[TR: ***] = Transcriber Note
[HW: ***] = Handwritten Note


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






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


Vaden, Charlie
Vaden, Ellen
Van Buren, Nettie
Vaughn, Adelaide J.

Wadille [TR: Waddille], Emmeline
Wadille (Waddell), Emmeline (Emiline)
Waldon, Henry
Walker, Clara
Walker, Henry
Walker, Jake
Walker, Jake
Wallace, Willie
Warrior, Evans
Washington, Anna
Washington, Eliza
Washington, Jennie
Washington, Parrish
Watson, Caroline
Watson, Mary
Wayne, Bart
Weathers, Annie Mae
Weathers, Cora
Webb, Ishe
Wells, Alfred
Wells, Douglas
Wells, John
Wells, Sarah
Wells, Sarah Williams
Wesley, John
Wesley, Robert
Wesmoland, Maggie
West, Calvin
West, Mary Mays
Wethington, Sylvester
Whitaker, Joe
White, Julia A.
White, Lucy
Whiteman, David
Whiteside, Dolly
Whitfield, J.W.
Whitmore, Sarah
Wilborn, Dock
Wilks, Bell
Williams, Bell
Williams, Charley
Williams, Charlie
Williams, Columbus
Williams, Frank
Williams, Gus
Williams, Henrietta
Williams, Henry Andrew (Tip)
Williams, James
Williams, John
Williams, Lillie
Williams, Mary
Williams, Mary
Williams, Mary
Williams, Rosena Hunt
Williams, III, William Ball (Soldier)
Williamson, Anna
Williamson, Callie Halsey
Willis, Charlotte
Wilson, Ella
Wilson, Robert
Windham, Tom
Wise, Alice
Wise, Frank
Withers, Lucy
Woods, Anna
Woods, Cal
Woods, Maggie
Word, Sam
Worthy, Ike
Wright, Alice
Wright, Hannah Brooks

Yates, Tom
Young, Annie
Young, John


Name of Interviewer: Irene Robertson

This information given by: Charlie Vaden
Place of Residence: Hazen, Green Grove, Ark.
Occupation: Farming
Age: 77
[TR: Information moved from bottom of first page.]

Charlie Vaden's father ran away and went to the war to fight. He was a
slave and left his owner. His mother died when he was five years old but
before she died she gave Charlie to Mrs. Frances Owens (white lady). She
came to Des Arc and ran the City Hotel. He never saw his father till he
was grown. He worked for Mrs. Owens. He never did run with colored folks
then. He nursed her grandchildren, Guy and Ira Brown. When he was grown
he bought a farm at Green Grove. It consisted of a house and forty-seven
acres of land. He farmed two years. A fortune teller came along and told
him he was going to marry but he better be careful that they wouldn't
live together or he might "drop out." He went ahead and married like he
was "fixing" to do. They just couldn't get along, so they got divorced.

They had the wedding at her house and preacher Isarel Thomas (colored)
married them and they went on to his house. He don't remember how she
was dressed except in white and he had a "new outfit too."

Next he married Lorine Rogers at the Green Grove Church and took her
home. She fell off the porch with a tub of clothes and died from it just
about a year after they married.

He married again at the church and lived with her twenty years. They had
four girls and four boys. She died from the change of life.

The last wife he didn't live with either. She is still living.

Had another fortune teller tell his fortune. She said, "Uncle, you are
pretty good but be careful or you'll be walking around begging for
victuals." He said it had nearly come to that now except it hurt him to
walk. (He can hardly walk.) He believes some of what the fortune tellers
tell comes true. He has been on the same farm since 1887, which is
forty-nine years, and did fine till four years ago. He can't work,
couldn't pay taxes, and has lost his land.

He was paralized five months, helpless as a baby, couldn't dress
himself. An herb doctor settled at Green Grove and used herbs for tea
and poultices and cured him. The doctors and the law run him out of
there. His name was Hopkins from Popular Bluff, Missouri.

Charlie Vaden used to have rheumatism and he carried a buckeye in each
pants pocket to make the rheumatism lighter. He thought it did some

He has a birthmark. Said his mother must have craved pig tails. He never
had enough pig tails to eat in his life. The butchers give them to him
when he comes to Hazen or Des Arc. He said he would "fight a circle saw
for a pig tail."

He can't remember any old songs or old tales. In fact he was too small
when his mother died (five years old).

He believes in herb medicine of all kinds but can't remember except
garlic poultice is good for neuralgia. Sassafras is a good tea, a good
blood purifier in the spring of the year.

He knows a weather sign that seldom or never falls. "Thunder in the
morning, rain before noon." "Seldom rains at night in July in Arkansas."

He has seen lots of lucky things but doesn't remember them. "It's bad
luck to carry hoes and rakes in the living house." "It's bad luck to spy
the new moon through bushes or trees."

He doesn't believe in witches, but he believes in spirits that direct
your course as long as you are good and do right. He goes to church all
the time if they have preaching. Green Grove is a Baptist church. He is
not afraid of dead people. "They can't hurt you if they are dead."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Ellen Vaden
DeValls Bluff, Ark.
Age: 83

"I am 83 years old. My mother come from Georgia. She left all her kin.
Our owner was Dave and Luiza Johnson. They had two girls and a
boy--Meely, Colly and Tobe. My mother's aunt come to Memphis in slavery
time and come to see us. She cooked and bought herself free. The folks
what owned her hired her out till they got paid her worth. She died in
Memphis. I never heard father say where he come from or who owned him.
He lived close by somewhere.

"My mother cooked. Me and Dave Johnson's boy nursed together. When they
had company, Miss Luiza was so modest she wouldn't let Tobe have
'titty'. He would come lead my mother behind the door and pull at her
till she would take him and let him nurse. She said he would lead her
behind the door.

"I don't remember freedom. I know the Ku Klux was bad around Augusta,
Arkansas. One time when I was little a crowd of Ku Klux come at about
dusk. They told Dave Johnson they wanted water. He told them there was a
well full but not bother that woman and her children in the kitchen.
Dave Johnson was a Ku Klux himself. They went on down the road and met a
colored woman. She knowed their horses. She called some of them by name
and they let her alone.

"One time a colored man was settin' by the fire. His wife was sick in
bed. He seen the Ku Klux coming and said 'Lord God, here comes the
devil.' He run off. They didn't bother her. She told them she was sick.
When she got up and well she wouldn't live with that husband no more.

"Up at Bowens Ridge they took some colored men out one night and if they
said they was Republicans they let them go but if they said they was
Democrats they whooped them so hard they nearly killed some of them.
Some said they was bushwhackers or carpet baggers and not Ku Klux.

"I am a country-raised woman. I had a light stroke and cain't work in
the field. I get $8.00 and commodities. I like to live here very well. I
don't meddle with young folks business. Seems like they do mighty
foolish things to me. Times been changing ever since I come in this
world. It is the people cause the times to change. I wouldn't know how
to start to vote."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Nettie Van Buren, Clarendon, Arkansas
Ex school-teacher
Age: 62

"My mother was named Isabel Porter Smith. She come from Springville.
Rev. Porter brought her to Mississippi close to Holly Springs. Then she
come to Batesville, Arkansas. He owned her. He was a circuit rider. I
think he was a Presbyterian minister. I heard her say they brought her
to Arkansas when she was a small girl. She nursed and cooked all the
time. After freedom she went with Reverend Porter's relatives to work
for them. I know so very little about what she said about slavery.

"My father was raised in North Carolina. His name was Jerry Smith and
his master he called Judge Smith. My father made all he ever had
farmin'. He knew how to raise cotton. He owned a home. This is his home
(a nice home on River Street in Clarendon) and 80 acres. He sold this
farm two miles from here after he had paralysis, to live on.

"My parents had two girls and two boys. They all dead but me. My
mother's favorite song was "Oh How I Love Jesus Because He First Loved
Me." They come here because my mother had a brother down here and she
heard it was such fine farmin' land.

"When I was a little girl my father was a Presbyterian so he sent me to
boardin' school in Cotton Plant and then sent me to Jacksonville,
Illinois. I worked my board out up there. Mrs. Dr. Carroll got me a
place to work. My sister learned to sew. She sewed for the public till
her death. She sewed for both black and white folks. I stretches
curtains now if I can get any to stretch and I irons. It give me
rheumatism to wash. I used to wash and iron.

"My husband cooks on a Government derrick boat. He gets $1.25 and his
board. They have the very best things to eat. He likes the work if he
can stay well. He can cook pies and fancy cookin'. They like that. Say
they can't hardly get somebody work long because they want to be in town
every night.

"We have one child. I used to be a primary teacher here at Clarendon.

"I never have voted. My husband votes but I don't know what he thinks
about it.

"I try to look at the present conditions in an encouraging way. The
young people are so extravagant. The old folks in need. The thing most
discouraging is the strangers come in and get jobs home folks could do
and need and they can't get jobs and got no money to leave on nor no
place to go. People that able to work don't work hard as they ought and
people could and willin' to work can't get jobs. Some of the young folks
do sure live wild lives. They think only of the present times. A few
young folks are buying homes but not half of them got a home. They work
where they let 'em have a room or a house. Different folks live all
kinds of ways."

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Adelaide J. Vaughn
1122 Cross Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: 69

"I was born in Huntsville, Alabama. My mother brought me from there when
I was five years old. She said she would come to Arkansas because she
had heard so much talk about it. But when she struck the Arkansas line,
she didn't like it and she wanted to go back. I have heard her say why
but I don't remember now; I done forgot. She thought she wouldn't like
it here, but she did after she stayed a while.

"My bronchial tubes git all stopped up and make it hard for me to talk.
Phlegm gits all around. I been bothered with them a good while now.

"My mother, she was sold from her father when she was four years old.
The rest of the children were grown then. Master Hickman was the one who
bought her. I don't know the one that sold her. Hickman had a lot of
children her age and he raised her up with them. They were nice to her
all the time.

"Once the pateroles came near capturing her. But she made it home and
they didn't catch her.

"Mr. Candle hired her from her master when she was about eighteen years
old. He was nice to her but his wife was mean. Just because mother
wouldn't do everything the other servants said Mis' Candle wanted to
whip her. Mother said she knew that Mis' Candle couldn't whip her alone.
But she was 'fraid that she would have Sallie, another old Negro woman
slave, and Kitty, a young Negro woman slave, to help whip her.

"One day when it was freezing cold, she wanted mother to stand out in
the hall with Sallie and Clara and wash the glasses in boiling hot
water. She was making her do that because she thought she was uppity and
she wanted to punish her. When mother went out, she rattled the dishes
'round in the pan and broke them. They was all glasses. Mis' Candle
heard them breaking and come out to see about it. She wanted to whip
mother but she was 'fraid to do it while she was alone; so she waited
till her husband come home. When he come she told him. He said she
oughtn't to have sent them out in the cold to wash the glasses because
nobody could wash dishes outside in that cold weather.

"The first morning she was at Mis' Candle's, they called her to eat and
they didn't have nothing but black molasses and corn bread for mother's
meal. The other two ate it but mother didn't. She asked for something
else. She said she wasn't used to eating that--that she ate what her
master and mistress ate at home.

"Mis' Candle didn't like that to begin with. She told my mother that she
was a smart nigger. She told mother to do one thing and then before she
could do it, she would tell her do something else. Mother would just go
on doing the first thing till she finished that, and Mis' Candle would
git mad. But it wasn't nobody's fault but her own.

"She asked mother to go out and git water from the spring on a rainy
day. Mother wouldn't go. Finally mother got tired and went back home.
Her mistress heard what she had to tell her about the place she'd been
working. Then she said mother did right to quit. She had worked there
for three or four months. They meant to keep her but she wouldn't stay.
Mis' Hickman went over and collected her money.

"When mother worked out, the people that hired her paid her owners. Her
owners furnished her everything she wanted to eat and clothes to wear,
and all the money she earned went to them.

"Mis' Candle begged Mr. Hickman to let him have mother back. He said
he'd talk to his wife and she wouldn't mistreat her any more but mama
said that she didn't want to go back and Mrs. Hickman said, 'No, she
doesn't want to go back and I wouldn't make her.' And the girls said,
'No, mama, don't let her go back.' And Mis' Hickman said, 'No, she was
raised with my girls and I am not going to let her go back.'

"The Hickmans had my mother ever since she was four years old. My
grandfather was allowed to go a certain distance with her when she was
sold away from him. He walked and carried her in his arms. Mama said
that when he had gone as far as they would let him go, he put her in the
wagon and turned his head away. She said she wondered why he didn't look
at her; but later she understood that he hated so bad to 'part from her
and couldn't do nothing to prevent it that he couldn't bear to look at

"Since I have been grown I have worked with some people at Newport. I
stayed with them there and married there, and had all my children there.

"I heard the woman I lived with, a woman named Diana Wagner, tell how
her mistress said, 'Come on, Diana, I want you to go with me down the
road a piece.' And she went with her and they got to a place where there
was a whole lot of people. They were putting them up on a block and
selling them just like cattle. She had a little nursing baby at home and
she broke away from her mistress and them and said, 'I can't go off and
leave my baby.' And they had to git some men and throw her down and hold
her to keep her from goin' back to the house. They sold her away from
her baby boy. They didn't let her go back to see him again. But she
heard from him after he became a young man. Some one of her friends that
knowed her and knowed she was sold away from her baby met up with this
boy and got to questioning him about his mother. The white folks had
told him his mother's name and all. He told them and they said, 'Boy, I
know your mother. She's down in Newport.' And he said, 'Gimme her
address and I'll write to her and see if I can hear from her.' And he
wrote. And the white people said they heard such a hollering and
shouting goin' on they said, 'What's the matter with Diana?' And they
came over to see what was happening. And she said, 'I got a letter from
my boy that was sold from me when he was a nursing baby.' She had me
write a letter to him. I did all her writing for her and he came to see
her. I didn't get to see him. I was away when he come. She said she was
willing to die that the Lord let her live to see her baby again and had
taken care of him through all these years.

"My father's name was Peter Warren and my mother was named Adelaide
Warren. Before she was married she went by her owner's name, Hickman. My
daddy belonged to the Phillips but he didn't go in their name. He went
in the Warren's name. He did that because he liked them. Phillips was
his real father, but he sold him to the Warrens and he took their name
and kept it. They treated him nice and he just stayed on in their name.
He didn't marry till after both of them were free. He met her somewheres
away from the Hickman's. They married in Alabama.

"Mama was born and mostly reared in Virginia and then come to Alabama.
That's where I was born, in Alabama. And they left there and came here.
I was four years old when they come here.

"I never did hear what my father did in slavery time. He was a twin. The
most he took notice of he said was his brother and him settin' on an old
three-legged stool. And his mother had left some soft soap on the fire.
His brother saw that the pot was goin' to turn over and he jumped up. My
father tried to get up too but the stool turned over and caught him,
caught his little dress and held him and the hot soap ran over his dress
and on to his bare skin. It left a big burn on his side long as he
lived. His mother was there close to the house because she knowed the
soap was on and those two little boys were in there. She heard him
crying and ran in and carried him to her master. He got the doctor and
saved him. My father's mother didn't do nothing after that but 'tend to
that baby. Her master loved those little boys and kept her and _didn't
sell her because of them_. (The underscoring is the interviewer's--ed.)
That was his last master--Warren. Warren loved him more than his real
father did. Warren said he knew my father would never live after he had
such a burn. But he did live. They never did let him do much work after
the accident.

"I think my father's master, Warren--I can't remember his first
name--farmed for a living.

"My father and mother had five children. I don't know how many brothers
my father had. I have heard my mother say she had four sisters. I never
heard her say nothin' 'bout no brothers--just sisters.

"I had six children. Got three living and three dead. They was grown
though when they died. I had three boys and three girls. I got two boys
living and one girl. The boy in St. Louis does pretty well. But the
other in Little Rock doesn't have much luck. If he'd get out of Little
Rock, he would find more to do. The one in St. Louis don't make much now
because they done cut wages. He's a dining-car waiter. This girl what's
here, she does all she can for me. She has a husband and my husband is
dead. He's been dead a long time.

"I belong to Bethel A.M.E. Church. You know where that is. Rev. Campbell
is a good man. We had him eight years. Then we got Brother Wilson one
year and then they put Campbell back.

"I don't know what to think of these young people. Some of them is
running wild.

"When I was working for myself, I was generally a maid. But that is been
a long time ago. I washed and ironed and done laundry work when I was
able a long time ago. But I can't do it now. I can't do it for myself
now. I washed for myself a little and I got the flu and got in bad
health. That was about four years ago. I reckon it was the flu; I never
did have no doctor. When I take the least little cold, it comes back on

Interviewer's Comment

This old lady appears nearer eighty than sixty-nine, and she speaks with
the sureness of an eyewitness.

Interviewer: Mrs. Blanche Edwards
Person interviewed: Emmeline Waddille (deceased)
Lonoke County, Arkansas
Age: 106

She immigrated with her owner, L.W.C. Waddille, to Lonoke County in
1851, coming to Hickory Plains and then to Brownsville. They moved from
Hayburn, Georgia in a covered wagon drawn by oxen.

She lived with a great-granddaughter, Mrs. John High, seven miles north
of Lonoke, until 1932, when she died. She had nursed six generations of
the Waddille family. She was born a deaf-mute but her hearing and speech
were restored many years ago when lightening struck a tree under which
she was standing.

Emmeline told of how they would stop for the night on the rough journey,
and while the men fed the stock, the women and slaves would cook the
evening meal of hoecake, fried venison, and coffee. The women slept in
the wagons and the men would sleep on the creek watching for wild life.
With other pioneers, they suffered all the hardships and dangers
incident to the settling of the new country more than three-fourths of a
century ago.

Emmeline always had good care. She worked hard and faithfully and was
amply rewarded.

[HW: High]

Circumstances of Interview
NAME OF WORKER--Blanche Edwards
ADDRESS--Lonoke, Arkansas
DATE--October 20, 1938
SUBJECT--An Old Slave [TR: Emiline Waddell]
[TR: Repetitive information deleted from subsequent pages.]

1. Name and address of informant--Mrs. John G. High, living nine miles
north of Lonoke, Arkansas.

2. Date and time of interview--October 20, 1938

3. Place of interview--At the home of Mrs. John G. High, nine miles
north of Lonoke.

4. Name and address of person, if any, who put you in touch with

5. Name and address of person, if any, accompanying you--

6. Description of room, house, surroundings, etc.

Text of Interview

Emiline Waddell, a former slave of the L.W. Waddell family, lived to be
106 years old, and was active up to her death.

She was born a slave in 1826 at Haben county, Georgia, a slave of
Claybourne Waddell, who emigrated to Brownsville, in 1851, in covered
wagons, oxen drawn.

Her "white folks" were three weeks making the trip from the ferry across
the Mississippi to old Brownsville; after traveling all day through the
bad and boggy woods, at the end of their rough journey at eventide, the
movers dismounted and began hasty preparations for the night. While the
men were feeding the stock and providing temporary quarters, the women
assisted the slaves in preparing the evening meal, of hoe-cake, fried
venison and coffee. Then the women and children would sleep in the
wagons while the men kept watch for wild life.

Mammy Emiline was a faithful old black mammy, true to life and
traditions, and refused her freedom, at the close of the war, as wanted
to stay and raise "Old Massa's chilluns," which she did, for she was
nursing her sixth generation in the Waddell family at the time of her
death. Even to that generation there was a close tie between the
southern child and his or her black mammy. A strange almost unbelievable
thing happened to Emiline; she was born a deaf mute, but her hearing and
speech was restored many years before her death, when lightening struck
a tree under which she was standing.

Superstitious beliefs were strong in her and her tales of "hants" were
to "her little white chilluns", really true but hair-raising. Then she
would talk and live again the "days that are no more", telling them of
the happy prosperous, sunny land, in her negro dialect, and then tell of
the ruin and desolation behind the Yankees; the hard times my white
folks had in the reconstruction days--negro and carpetbag rule; then
give them glimpses of good--much courage, some heart and human feeling;
perhaps ending with an outburst of the negro spiritual, her favorite
being, "Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home."

After a faithful service of 106 years, Emiline died in 1932 at the home
of Mrs. John G. High, a great-granddaughter of L.W.C. Waddell living
nine miles north of Lonoke, and the grown up great-great-grandchildren
still miss Mammy.

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Henry Waldon
816 Walnut Street. North Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: 84

"I was plowing when they surrendered. I had just learned to plow, and
was putting up some land. My young master come home and was telling me
the War was ended and we was all free.

"I was born in Lauderdale County, Mississippi. I think it was about
1854. My father's name [HW: was] ----, my mother's [HW: was] ----, I
knew them both.

"My mother belonged to Sterling and my father belonged to a man named
Huff--Richmond Huff.

"We lived in Lauderdale County. Huff wouldn't sell my father and my
people wouldn't sell my mother. They lived about a mile or so apart.
They didn't marry in them days. The niggers didn't, that is. Father
would just come every Saturday night to see my mother. His cabin was
about three miles from her's. We moved from Lauderdale County to Scott
County, Mississippi, and that separated mama and papa. They never did
meet again. Of course, I mean it was the white people that moved, but
they carried mama and us with them. Papa and mama never did meet again
before freedom, and they didn't meet afterwards.

"My mother had twelve children--eight girls and four boys. She had one
by a man named Peter Smith. She was away from her husband then. She had
four by my father--two boys and two girls; my father's name was Peter
Huff. My mother's name was Mary Sterling. I never did see my father no
more after we moved away from him.

"My father made cotton and corn, plowed and hoed in slavery time. His
old master had seventy-five or eighty hands. His old master treated him
pretty rough. He whipped them about working. He never hired no overseer
over them. When he whipped them he took their shirts off and whipped
them on their naked backs. He cut the blood out of some of them. He
never did rub no salt nor vinegar in their wounds. His youngest son done
his overseeing. He would whip them sometime but he wasn't tight on them
like some that I knowed.

"A fellow by the name of Jim Holbert was mean to his slaves as a man
could be. He would whip them night and day. Work them till dark; then
they would eat supper. Cook their own supper. Had nothing to cook but a
little meat and bread and molasses. Then they would go back and bale up
three or four bales of cotton. Some nights they work till twelve o'clock
then get up before daylight--'round four o'clock--and cook their
breakfast and go to work again. That was on Jim Holbert and Lard Moore's
place. Them was two different men and two different places--plantations.
They whipped their slaves a good deal--always beating down on somebody.
They made their backs sore. Their backs would be bleeding just like they
cut it with knives. Then they would wash it down with water and salt.

"On my master's farm, each one cooked in his own cabin. While the hands
were working, my master left one child, the largest, stay there and
taken care of the little ones.

"They had bloodhounds too; they'd run you away in the woods. Send for a
man that had hounds to track you if you run away. They'd run you and bay
you, and a white man would ride up there and say, 'If you hit one of
them hounds, I'll blow your brains out.' He'd say 'your damn brains.'
Them hounds would worry you and bite you and have you bloody as a beef,
but you dassent to hit one of them. They would tell you to stand still
and put your hands over your privates. I don't guess they'd have killed
you but you believed they would. They wouldn't try to keep the hounds
off of you; they would set them on you to see them bite you. Five or six
or seven hounds bitin' you on every side and a man settin' on a horse
holding a doubled shotgun on you.

"My old miss's sister hired slave women out to old Jim Holbert once. One
of them was in a delicate state, and they dug a hole and put her stomach
down in it and whipped her till she could hardly walk.

"Holbert lived to see the niggers freed. All of his slaves left him
pretty well when freedom come. He managed to hold on to his money. He
didn't go to the War. He was pretty old. He had two sons in the War--his
wife had one in there and he had one. One of them got wounded but he
didn't die.

"My mistress's oldest son, Ed Sterling, got shot in the Civil War. He
got shot right in the side at Franklin, Tennessee. It tore his whole
side off--near about killed him. But he lived to ride paterole. He was
mean. Catch a man in bed with his wife at night, he'd whip him and make
him go home. He was the meanest man in the world. All the other sons
were better than he was. His name was Ed Sterling.

"The first thing I remember was work. You weren't allowed to remember
nothing but work in slave times and you got whipped about that. You
weren't allowed to go nowhere but carry the mules out to the pasture to
eat grass. Sometimes they jump the fence and go over in the field and
eat corn. Me and another fellow named Sandy used to watch them all day
Sunday. Watching the mules and working in the fields through the week
was the first work I remember. Me and my sister worked on one row. The
two of us made a hand. She is down in Texas somewheres now. They taken
her from old lady Sterling's place. She give them to her son and he
carried them down in Texas. He had a broken leg and never did go to the
war. If he did, I never knowed nothing about it.

"None of the masters never give me anything. None of them as I knows of
never give anything to any of the slaves when they freed 'em. Never give
a devilish thing. Told them that they was free as they was and that they
could stay there and help them make crops if they wanted to. The biggest
part of them stayed. The rest went away. Their husbands taken them away.

"Right after the war my mother married an old fellow who used to be old
Holbert's nigger driver. He stayed on Sterling's place one night. He
stayed there a year. Then he married my mother and went to old Holbert's
place and of course, we had to go too. I stayed there and worked for
him. And my mama too and the two youngest sisters and the youngest
brother stayed with me. I run away from him in '86. I went down the
railroad about five miles and an old colored fellow give me a job. He
used to belong to the railroad boss.

"I worked nearly two years on that railroad; then I left and come on
down to Arkansas. I have been right here on this spot about forty years.
I don't know how long it is been since I first come here, but it is been
a long time ago. I paid fire insurance on this place for thirty-nine
years. I lived over the river before I came to North Little Rock. I
worked for the railroad company thirty-eight years. It's been fifteen
years since I was able to work--maybe longer.

"I belong to Little Bethel Church (A.M.E.) here in North Little Rock. I
been a member of that church more than thirty-five years.

"I have been married twice, and I am the father of three children that
are living and two that dead--Tommy, Jim, Ewing, Mayzetta, and the baby.
He was too young to have a name when he died.

"I think things is worse than they ever was. Everything we get we have
to pay for, and then pay for paying for it. If it wasn't for my wife I
could hardly live because I don't get much from the railroad company."

Interviewer: Mary D. Hudgins
Person Interviewed: Aunt Clara Walker Aged: 111
Home: "Flatwoods" district, Garland County. Own property.

Story by Aunt Clara Walker

"You'll have to wait a minute ma'am. Dis cornbread can't go down too
fas'. Yes ma'am, I likes cornbread. I eats it every meal. I wouldn't
trade just a little cornbread for all de flour dat is.

Where-bouts was I born? I was born right here in Arkansas. Dat is it was
between an on de borders of it an dat state to de south--yes ma'am,
dat's right, Louisiana. My mother was a slave before me. She come over
from de old country, she was a-runnin' along one day front of a--a--dat
stripedy animal--a tiger? an' a man come along on an elephant and scoop
her up an' put her on a ship.

Yes ma'am. My name's Clara Walker. I was born Clara Jones, cause my
pappy's name was Jones. But lots of folks called me Clara Cornelius,
cause Mr. Cornelius was de man what owned me. Did you ever hear of a
child born wid a veil over its face? Well I was one of dem! What it
mean? Why it means dat you can see spirits an' ha'nts, an all de other
creatures nobody else can see.

Yes ma'am, some children is born dat way. You see dat great grandchild
of mine lyin' on de floor? He's dat way. He kin see 'em too. Is many of
'em around here? Lawsey dey's as thick as piss-ants. What does dey look
like? Some of 'em looks like folks; an' some of 'em looks like hounds.
When dey sees you, dey says "Howdy!" an' if you don't speak to 'em dey
takes you by your shoulders an dey shakes you. Maybe dey hits you on de
back. An' if you go over to de bed an lies in de bed an' goes to sleep,
dey pulls de cover off you. You got to be polite to 'em. What makes 'em
walk around? Well, I got it figgured out dis way. Dey's dissatisfied.
Dey didn't have time to git dey work done while dey was alive.

Dat greatgrandchild of mine, he kin see 'em too. Now my eight
grandchildren an' my three children what's alivin' none of 'em can see
de spirits. Guess dat greatgrandchild struck way back. I goes way back.
My ol' master what had to go to de war, little 'fore it was over told me
when he left dat I was 39 years old. Somebody figgured it out for me dat
I's 111 now. Dat makes me pretty old, don't it?

There was another fellow on a joinin' plantation. He was a witch doctor.
Brought him over from Africa. He didn't like his master, 'cause he was
mean. So he make a little man out of mud. An' he stick thorns in its
back. Sure 'nuff, his master got down with a misery in his back. An' de
witch doctor let de thorn stay in de mud-man until he thought his master
had got 'nuff punishment. When he tuck it out, his master got better.

Did I got to school. No ma'am. Not to book school. Dey wouldn't let
culled folks git no learnin'. When I was a little girl we skip rope an'
play high-spy (I Spy). All we had to do was to sweep de yard an go after
de cows an' de pigs an de sheep. An' dat was fun, cause dey was lots of
us children an we all did it together.

When I was 13 years old my ol' mistress put me wid a doctor who learned
me how to be a midwife. Dat was cause so many women on de plantation was
catchin' babies. I stayed wid dat doctor, Dr. McGill his name was, for 5
years. I got to be good. Got so he'd sit down an' I'd do all de work.

When I come home, I made a lot o' money for old miss. Lots of times,
didn't sleep regular or git my meals on time for three--four days. Cause
when dey call, I always went. Brought as many white as culled children.
I's brought most 200, white an' black since I's been in Hot Springs.
Brought a little white baby--to de Wards it was--dey lived jest down de
lane--brought dat baby 'bout 7 year ago.

I's brought lots of 'em an' I ain't never lost a case. You know why.
It's cause I used my haid. When I'd go in, I'd take a look at de woman,
an' if it was beyond me, I'd say, 'Dis is a doctor case. Dis ain't no
case for a midwife. You git a doctor.' An' dey'd have to get one. I'd
jes' stan' before de lookin' glass, an' I wouldn't budge. Dey couldn't
make me.

I made a lot of money for ol' miss. But she was good to me. She give me
lots of good clothes. Those clothes an my mother's clothes burned up in
de fire I had a few years ago right on dis farm. Lawsey I hated loosin'
dose clothes I had when I was a girl more dan anything I lost. An' I
didn't have to work in de fields. In between times I cooked an' I would
jump in de loom. Yes, ma'am I could weave good. Did my yards every day.
I weave cloth for dresses--fine dresses you would use thread as thin as
dat you sews wid today--I weaves cloth for underclothes, an fo
handkerchiefs an for towels. Den I weaves nits and lice. What's
dat--well you see it was kind corse cloth de used for clothes like
overalls. It mas sort of speckeldy all over--dat's why dey called it
nits and lice.

Law, I used to be good once, but after I got all burned up I wasn't good
for so much. It happened dis way. A salt lick was on a nearby
plantation. Ever body who wanted salt, dey had to send a hand to help
make it. I went over one day--an workin' around I stepped on a live
coal. I move quick an' I fall plum over into a salt vat. Before dey got
me out I was pretty near ruined.

What did dey do? Dey killed a hog--fresh killed a hog. An' dey fry up de
fat--fry it up wid some of de hog hairs an' dey greesed me good. An' it
took all de fire out of de burns. Dey kept me greezed for a long time. I
was sick nearly six months. Dey was good to me.

An one day, young miss, she married. Ol' miss give me to her 'long of 23
others. Twenty four was all she could spare an' keep some for herself an
save enough for de other children. We went to California. Young Miss was
good, but her husband was mean. He give me de only white folks whippin I
ever had. Ol' miss never had to whip her slaves. I was tryin' to cook on
an earth stove--dat's why it happen. Did you ever hear of an earth
stove? Well, dey make sort of drawers out of dirt. You burn wood in 'em.
After you git used to it you kin cook on it good. But dat day I was busy
an' I burned de biscuits. An' he whip me.

I run off. I knew in general de way home. When I come to de Brazos river
it looked most a mile across. But I jump in an' I swim it. One day I
done found a pearl handled pocket knife. A few days later I meet up wid
a white boy. An' he say its his knife, an' I say, 'White boy, I know dat
ain't your knife, an' you know it ain't. But if you'll write me out a
free pass, I'll give it to you.' An' so he wrote it. After dat, I could
walk right up to de front gates an ask for somthin' to eat. Cause I had
a paper sayin' I was Clara Jones an' I was goin' home to my ol' mistress
Mis' Cornelius. Please paterollers to leave me alone. An' folks along de
way, dey'd take me in an' feed me. Dey'd give me a place to stay an fix
me up a lunch to take along. Dey'd say, "Clara, you's a good nigger.
You's a goin' home to your ol' miss, so we's goin' to do for you."

An' I got within five miles of home before dey catch me. An' my ol' miss
won't let me go back. She keep me an' send another one in my place. An'
de war kept on, an ol' massa had to go. An' word come dat he been

Yes, 'em, some folks run off, an' some of 'em stayed. Finally ol' miss
refugeed a lot of us to California. What is it to refugee. Well, you
see, suppose you was afraid dat somebody go in' to take your property
an' you run 'em away off somewhere--how you come to know.

When de war was over, young miss she come in an she say, 'Clara, you's
as free as I am.' 'No, I ain't.' says I. 'Yes, you is,' says she. 'What
you goin' to do?' 'I's goin' to stay an' work for you.' says I. 'No'
says she, 'you ain't cause I can't pay you.' 'Well,' says I, 'I'll go
home to see my old mother.' 'Tell you what,' says she, 'I ain't got nuff
money to send you, only part--so you go down to whar' dey is a'pannin'
gold. You kin git a Job at $2.00 per day.'

Many's a day I've stood in water up to my waist pannin' gold. In dem
days dey worked women jest like men. I worked hard, an' young miss took
care of me. When I got ready to come home I bought my stage fare an' I
carried $300 on me back to my ol' mother.

De trip took six weeks. Everywhere de stage would stop young miss had
writ a note to somebody and de stage coach men give it to 'em an dey
took care of me--good care.

When I got home to my mother I found dat ol' miss had give all of 'em
somthin' along with settin 'em free. My mother had 12 children so she
git de mos'. She git a horse, a milk cow, 8 killin' hogs and 50 bushels
of corn. She moved off to a little house on ol' miss's plantation and
make a crop on halvers. She stay on dar for three--four years. Den she
move off into another county where she could go to meetin without havin'
to cross de river. An' I stayed on wid her an help her farm--I could
plow as good as a man in dem days.

Finally I hear dat you could make more money in Hot Springs, so I come
to see. My mother was dead by dat time. De first year I made a crop for
Mr. Clay--my granddaughter cooks and tends to children for some of his
folks today. When I went to town an I washed at de Arlington hotel. It
wasn't de fine place it is today. It was jest boards like dis cabin of
mine. An I washed at another hotel--what was it--down across de creek
from de Arlington. Yes ma'am, dat's it. De Grand Central--it was grand
too--for dem days. An' I cooked for Dr. McMasters. An' I cooked for
Colonel Rector--de Rectors had lots of money in dem days. I could make a
weddin' cake good as anybody--with, a 'gagement ring in it. I could make
it fine--tho I don't know but two letters in de book an' thoses is A and

I married Mr. Walker. He was a hod carrier when dey built de old red
brick Arlington. I remember lots of things dat happened here. I remember
seein' de smoke from de fire--dat big one. We was a livin' near Picket
Springs--you don't know whare dat is. Well, does you know where de
soldier's breast work was--now I git you on to remembering.

Den, later on we moved out an' got a farm near Hawes. I traded dat place
for dis one. Yes, ma'am I likes livin' in de country. Never did like
livin' in town.

I don't right know whether culled folks wanted to be free or not. Lots
of 'em didn't rightly understand, Ol' miss was good to hers. Some of 'em
wasn't. She give 'em things before an she give 'em things after. Of
course, we went back an' we washed for 'em. But one mortal blessin. Ol'
miss had made her girls learn how to cook an' wait on themselves.

Now take de Combinders. Dey was on de next plantation. Dey was mean.
Many a time you could hear de bull whip, clear over to our place, PLOP,
PLOP. An' if dey died, dey jest wrapped 'em in cloth an' dig a trench,
an' plow right over 'em. An' when de war was over, dey wouldn't turn dey
slaves loose. An de Federals marched in an' marched 'em off. An' ol'
Mis' Combinder she holler out an she say, 'What my girls goin' to do?
Dey ain't never dressed deyselves in dey life. We can't cook? What we
do?' An' de soldiers didn't pay no attention. Dey just marched 'em off.

An' ol' man Combinder he lay down an' he have a chill an' he die. He die
because day take his property away from him.

Yes, ma'am, Thank you for the quarter. I's goin' to buy snuff. I gets
along good. My grandson he hauls wood for de paper mill. An' my
granddaughters dey works for folks cooks an takes care of children. I
had a good crop dis year. I'll have meat, I got lots of corn, an' I got
other crops. We're gettin' along nice, mighty nice. Thank you ma'am."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Henry Walker, Hazen, Arkansas
Age: 80

I was born nine miles south of Nashville, Tennessee. The first I ever
knowed or heard of a war, I saw a lot of the funniest wagons coming up
to the house from the road. I called the old mistress. She looked out
the window and pushed me back up in the corner and shot the door. She
was so scared. I thought them things they had on their coats (buttons)
was pretty. I found out they was brass buttons. I peeped out a crack it
was already closed 'cept a big crack, I seed through. Well, the wagons
was high in front and high in the back and sunk in the middle. Had pens
in the wheels instead of axels. Wagon had a box instead of a bed. The
wagons would hold a crib full of corn. They loaded up everything on the
place there was to eat and carried it off. My folks and the other folks
was in the field. Colored folks didn't like 'em taking all they had to
eat and had stored up to live on. They didn't leave a hog nor a chicken,
nor anything else they could find. They drove off all the cows and
calves they could find. Colonel Sam Williams, the old master, soon did
go to war then. The folks had a hard time making a living. Old mistress
had four girls and her baby Ed was one day older than I was. The
children of the hands played around in the woods and every place and
stayed in the field if they was big enough to do any work. Old mistress
had all the children pick up scaley barks and hickory nuts and chestnuts
and walnuts. She put them in barrels. She sold some of them. She had a
heap of sugar maple trees. They put an elder funnel to run the sap in
buckets. We carried that and she boiled it down to brown sugar. She had
up pick up chips to burn when she simmered it down or made soap. She
kept all the children hunting ginsing up in the mountains. She kept it
in sacks. A man come by and buy it. We hunted chenqupins down in the
swamps. There was lots of walnut trees in the woods.

No the slaves didn't leave Colonel Williams. He left them. He brought me
and Ed and we went back and moved to the old Williams farm on Arkansas
River close to Little Rock. Then he sent for my folks. They come in
wagons. They worked for him a long time and scattered about. I stayed at
his house till he said "Henry, you are grown; you better look out for
yourself now." Ed was gone. He sent all the girls off to school and Ed
too. They taught me if I wanted to learn but I didn't care much about
it. I went to the colored school and Ed to the white school. He learned
pretty well. I never did like to 'sociate or stay 'bout colored folks
and I didn't like to mind 'em. Old mistress show did brush me out
sometimes and they called my mother to tend to me. When I was real
little they drove the hands to the block to be sold out along the road.
Old mistress say: "If you don't be good and mind we'll send yare off and
sell you wid 'em." That scared me worse than a whooping. Never did see
anybody sold. Heard them talk a heap about it. When one of them wouldn't
work and lay out in the woods, or they wouldn't mind they soon got sold
off. They mated a heap of them and sold them for speculation. No mam I
didn't like slavery. We had plenty to eat but they worked for all they
got. Had good fires and good warm houses and good clothes but I did not
like the way they give out the provisions. They blowed a horn and
measured out the weeks paratta for every family. They cooked at the
cabins for their own families. There was several springs and a deep rock
walled well at old mistress' house. Old mistress always lived in a fine
house. I slept at my mother's house nearly all the time. She had a big
family. White folks raised me up to play with Ed till I thought I was
white. They taught me to do right and I ain't forgot it. I never was
arrested. I married three times, bought three marriage license all in
Prairie County. All three wives died.

I owns dis house 'cept a mortgage of $50. One of my boys got in a
difficulty. I don't know where he is to get him to pay it off. The other
boy he's not man enough either to pay it off.

I never did know jess when the Civil War did close. I kept hearing 'em
say we are free. I didn't see much difference only when Colonel Williams
come back times wasn't so hard. Then he sold out and come to Arkansas.
Then each family raised his own hogs and chickens and finally got to
have cows.

I was as scared of the Ku Klux Klan as of rattlesnakes. In Tennessee
they come up the road and back just after dark. They rode all night and
if you wasn't on your master's own land and didn't have a pass from him
or the overseer they would set the dogs on you and run you home.
Sometimes they would whip them. Take them home to the old master. I
never heard of no uprisings. People loved each other better then than
now. They didn't have so much idle time. There was always some work to
be doing. When they didn't mind they run them with dogs and whipped
them. The overseer and paddyrollers seed about that. The first day of
the year everybody went up to hear the rules and see who was to be the
overseer. Then they knowed what to do for the year. They never did kill
nobody. No mam that was too costly. They had work according to their
strength and age. The Ku Klux was to keep order.

I been living in Hazen forty or fifty years. All I ever have done was
farm sometimes one-half-for-the-other and sometimes on share-crop.

I have voted but not lately. I votes a Republican ticket. I votes that
way because it was the Republicans that set us free, I always heard it
said. I jess belongs to that party. Seems lack we gets easier times when
the Democrats reign. Colonel Williams was a Democrat.

The young folks are not as well off as I was at their age. They are
restless and won't work unless they gets big pay and they spends the
money too easy. The colored people are too idle and orderless. They
fight and hate one another and roam around in too much confusion.

I gets from $3 to $8 last month from the Sociable Welfare. My children
helps me mighty little. They got their own children to see after and
don't make much.

Colonel Williams and Ed are both dead. They did give me a lot of fine
clothes when I went to see them as long as they lived. I don't know
where the girls hab gone. Scattered around. I oughter never left my good
old home and white folks. They was show always mighty good to me.

I never could sing much. I used to give the Rebbel Yell. Colonel Yopp
give me a dime every time I give it. Since he died I ain't yelled it no
more. I learned it from Colonel Williams. I jess took it up hearing him
about the place.

Name of Interviewer: Irene Robertson
Subject: Ex-Slave-Hunting

This information given by: Henry Walker
Place of Residence: Hazen, Arkansas
Occupation: Farmer.
Age: 78
[TR: Information moved from bottom of first page.]

Henry Walker was born nine miles south of Nashville, Tennessee.
Remembered the soldiers and ran to the windows to see them pass. One day
he saw a lot of soldiers coming to the house. Henry ran in ahead and
said out loud, "them Yankeys are coming up here." The mistress slapped
Henry, hid him and slammed the doors. The soldiers did not get in but
they did other damage that day. They took all the mules out of the lot
and drove them away. They filled their "dugout wagons" with corn. A
dugout wagon would hold nearly a crib full of corn. They were high in
front and back and came down to a point, nearly touched the ground
between the wheels. The wheels had pens instead of axles in them.

The children ran like pigs every morning. The pigs ran to eat acorns and
the children--white and black--to pick up chestnuts, scaly barks and
hickory nuts. There were _lots_ of black walnuts. "We had barrels of
nuts to eat all winter and the mistress sold some every year at
Nashville, Tennessee. The woods were full of nut trees and we had a few
maple and sweet gum trees. We simmered down maple sap for brown sugar
and chewed the sweet gum. We picked up chips to simmer the sweet maple
sap down. We used elder tree wood to make faucets for syrup barrels.
There were chenquipins down in the swamps that the children gathered."

Henry Walker said that they were sent upon the hills to find ginsing and
often found long beds of it. They put it in sacks and a man came and
bought it from the mistress. The mistress' name was Mrs. Williams. She
kept the money for the ginsing and nuts too when she sold them.

Henry said he ate at Mrs. Williams', but the other children ate at the
cabin. On Saturday evening the horn would sound and every slave would
come to get his allowance of provisions. They used a big bell hung up in
a tree to call them to meals and to begin work. They could also hear
other farm bells and horns. Colored folks could have dances if they
would get permission. Some masters were overseers themselves and some
hired overseers. Patty Rell was a white man and the bush-wackers give us
trouble sometimes.

On January first every year everybody ate peas and "hog jole" and
received the new rules. The masters would say, "don't be running up here
telling me on the overseer." They had a bush harbor church and the white
preacher came to preach to black and white sometimes. They taught
obedience and the Golden Rules. No schools--Henry said since freedom the
white men had cheated him out of all he had ever made, with pen-and-ink.
He rather be whipped with a stick than a writing pen. He said Mr. and
Mrs. Williams were good people. Henry learned to knit his socks and
gloves at night watching the grown people. They made a certain number of
broches every night. He liked that.

Henry said Mr. Williams let him carry his gun hunting with him and
taught him how to shoot squirrels. They were plentiful. He had a lot of
dogs. The master went to the deer stand and Henry managed the twelve
hounds. He didn't like to fox hunt. About a hundred men and thirty dogs,
horns, etc. out for the chase. They came from Nashville and in the
country. A fox make three rounds from where he is jumped and then widens
out. They brought "fine whiskey" out on the chases.

When they had corn shuckings one Negro would sit on the fence and lead
the singing, the others shuck on each side. The master would pour out a
tin cup full of whiskey from a big jug for each corn shucker, and Mrs.
Williams would give each a square of gingerbread.

Mr. Williams set aside a certain number of acres of land every year to
be cleared, fenced and broke for cultivation by spring. Six or eight men
worked together. They used tong-hand sticks to carry the logs to the
piles where they were burning them. A saw was a side show, they used
mall, axe and wedge. After the log rolling there would be a big supper
and a good one. The visitors got what they wanted from the table first.
"That was manners."

"We took turns going to the Methodist church at Nashville with Mr. and
Mrs. Williams. They went in the fine carriage and the maid held the baby
but anybody else rode along behind on horseback. The carriage horses
were curried every day, kept up and ate corn and fodder. Mr. and Mrs.
Williams came to Nashville to big weddings and dances often."

After Henry Walker came to Hazen, Colonel Yopp had him feed his dogs and
attend him on big fox hunting trips. Since Colonel Yopp died January
1928 Henry seldom, or perhaps has never sung the song he sang to Colonel
for dimes if he needed a little change. He learned the song and whoop
back in in slavery days. He said William Dorch (colored boy) took it up
from hearing him sing for Colonel Yopp and would write it for me and
sing it and give it with the old Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee whoop.

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Jake Walker
3002 Short W. Ninth Avenue, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 95

"Well, I was here--I was born in 1842, August the 4th. That makes me
ninety-five in the clear. If I live till next August I'll be ninety-six.

"No ma'am, I wasn't born in Arkansas, I was born in Alabama. I been here
in Arkansas bout forty or fifty years. I used to live in Mississippi
when I first left the old country.

"Oh yes'm, I was bout big enough to go durin' the War, but I wouldn't
run off. Couldn't a had no better master. That's the reason I'm livin'
like I do. Always took good care of myself. Never had no exposure.

"I _did_ work fore the War, I'll say! Done anything they said.

"John Carmichael was my old master and Miss Nancy was old missis.

"Oh yes ma'am, I seed the Yankees. They stopped there. I wasn't askeered
of nobody. I have went to the well and drawed water for em.

"I member when the War was gwine on. I didn't know why they was
fightin'. If I did I done forgot--I'll be honest with you. I didn't know
nothin' only they was fightin'. Most of my work was around the house. I
never paid no tention to that war. I was livin' too fine them days. I
was livin' a hundred days to the week. Yes ma'am, I did get along fine.

"Oh yes ma'am, I had good white folks. I never was sold. No ma'am, I
born right on the old home place.

"Patrollers? Had to get a pass from your master to go over there. Oh
yes, I know all about them. I have seed the Ku Klux too. Yes ma'am, I
know all about them things.

"I never been to school but half a day. I went to work when I was eight
years old and been workin' ever since.

"My father died in slave times and my mother died the fourth year after

"After freedom, I worked there bout the course of three or four years.
Then I emigrated and come on to Mississippi. The most I done them times
was farmin'. Reckon I stayed in Mississippi five or six years.

"The most work I done here in Arkansas is carpenter work. I'm the first
colored man ever contracted in Pine Bluff.

"If I wasn't able to work, I don't think I'd stay here long.

"Used to drive the mule in the gin in slave times.

"We didn't have a bit of expense on us. Our doctor bills was paid and
had clothes give to us and had plenty of something to eat.

"Yes'm, I used to vote but it's been for years since I voted. Voted
Republican. I don't know why the colored people is Republican. You
askin' me something now I don't know nothin' about, but I believe in
votin' for the man goin' to do good--do the country good.

"Oh, don't talk about the younger generation--I jist can't accomplish
em, I sure can't. They ain't got the 'regenious' and get-up about em
they had in my time. They is more wiser, that's about all. The young
race these days--I don't know what's gwine come of em. If twasn't for we
old fogies, don't know what they'd do.

"We ain't never had that World War yet told about in the Bible. Called
this last war the World War but twasn't.

"I've always tried to keep my place and I ain't never been in any kind
of trouble."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Jake Walker, Wheatley, Arkansas
Age: 68

"I was born seven or eight miles from Hernando, Mississippi. My pa was a
slave over twenty years. He belong to Master Will Walker, and his white
mistress was Ann. They brought him from 'round Athens, Georgia. He was
heired through his master. His own mother died at his birth and he was
the son of a peddler through the country. He was a furriner but pa never
could tell. His young master never told him. His ma was the nurse about
the place. The peddler was a white man of some kind. He kept coming
about selling goods. The dogs made a bad racket. They never bought
nothing much. Old master suspicioned him trying to get away with
something about the place. He come right out and accused him to being up
to something. He denied it. He told the peddler not to come back. He
never. After it was over she told her mistress. He wanted her to go on
off with him. That made them mad. But he never was seen about there.

"When Will Walker got married he wanted my pa and he was give to him, a
horse and buggy, two mules, a lamb, and five young cows. He had some
money and he come to Mississippi. I reckon he did buy some land. He got
to be a slave owner before freedom. Pa said he drove the horse to the
buggy and his master rode a mule, led a mule and brought his cows, and
they kept the lamb in the buggy with them nearly all the way.

"I think they was good to him. His young mistress cried so much they all
went back once before freedom. They went on Christmas time. Only time he
ever was drunk. He got down and nearly froze to death. The white folks
heard he was somewhere down. They went and got him one Sunday morning in
a two-horse wagon. He was nearly dead. That was his first and last

"Pa said he nursed three of his young mistress' babies, Alfred, Tom, and

"After freedom pa went to Texas with Alfred Walker. He owned a ranch out
on the desert and raised Texas ponies and big horn cows. They sent a
carload of young cattle to St. Louis and pa stopped back in Mississippi
and married ma. She was a Walker too, Libbie Walker. There was fourteen
of us children. They nearly all went to Louisiana to work in the timber.
I come to Clarendon. I been married three times. My last wife left me
and took my onliest child. Only child I ever had. They was at Hot
Springs last account I had of them. She was cooking for a woman over
there. My girl is up 'bout grown now. She come to Clarendon to see me
three years ago. I sent for her but she wouldn't stay. She writes to me,
but I have to get somebody to write for me and somebody to read her
letters. I can read print real good. I never went to school a day in my
whole life. We had to work early and late when I come up.

"I farmed, sawmilled, worked in the timber. I do public work, haul wood,
cut wood, and work in the field by day labor.

"I votes a Republican ticket. I haven't voted since Mr. Taft run. I
don't have no way to keep up with elections now. Folks used to talk
more, now they keeps quiet.

"I never heard pa say how he come to know about freedom. Ma said she was
refugeed to Texas and when they brung them back, Master Will Walker met
them at the creek on his place and he said, 'You all are free now. You
can go on my place or hunt other places.' They went on his place and
they lived there a long time. I don't remember ever living on that
place. Pa wasn't there then. I don't know where be could been. Ma and pa
was both Walkers but no blood kin. Ma didn't talk much about old times.
She was sold once, she said. Bass Kelly bought her. I don't know if Will
Walker traded for her. She never did say. Bass Kelly was mean to her. He
beat her and one time she hid and kept hid till she nearly starved, she
said. She hid in the corn crib. It was a log house. She didn't enjoy
slavery. Pa had a very good time, better than us boys had it when we
come up. He worked and kept us with him. He and ma died the same week.
They had pneumonia in Mississippi.

"I got one sister. She lives close to Shreveport. She keeps up with us
all. I go down there every now and then. She's not stove up like I am.
She wants me to stay with her all the time. I gets work down there
easier but I have the rheumatism bad down there.

"I don't know what will become of young folks. I wish I had their
chance. They can't wait for nothing. They in too big a hurry for the
crop to grow. Busy living by the day. When the year gone they ain't no
better off. Times is good in places. Hard in places. Times better in
Louisiana than up here. Work easier to get. Folks got more living.

"I'm chopping cotton on Mr. Hill's place. I gets ninety cents a day. I
can't get over the ground fast."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Willie Wallace
40th and Georgia Streets, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 80

"I was born in Green County, Alabama. Elihu Steele was my old master.
Miss Julia was old missis. She was Elihu's wife. Her mother's name was
Penny Hatter. Miss Penny give my mother to her daughter Julia.

"I was a twin and they choosed us for the cook and washer and ironer,
but surrender come along 'fore we got big enough to do anything.

"My father was crippled and couldn't work in the field, and I remember
he used to carry the children out to the field to be suckled.

"They had a right smart of slaves. My mother had twelve children and I'm
the baby.

"I remember they'd make up a big pot of corn bread and pot-liquor and
they'd say, 'Eat, chillun, eat.'

"I remember one time the white folks had some stock tied out, and I know
my sister's little boy didn't know no better and he showed the Yankees
where they was.

"I remember when they said the people was free, but our folks stayed
right on there--I don't know how many years--'cause my mother thought a
heap of her old missis, Penny.

"I went to school after freedom and learned how to read and write and
figger. I worked in the field till I got disabled. I never did wash and
iron and cook for the white folks.

"I was fifteen--somewhere in there--when I married and I'm the mother of
twelve children.

"I have lived in Thomas, West Virginia; Pittsburg, Pennsylvania;
Cumberland, Maryland; Milliken, Louisiana; and Birmingham, Alabama. I
just lived in all them places following my children around.

"I fell through a trestle in Birmingham and injured myself comin' from

"I think the people is gettin' terrible now. You think they're gettin'
better? I think they're gettin' wuss.

"I got a book here called 'Uncle Tom' and I hates to read it sometimes
'cause the people suffered so.

"I don't think old master had any overseers. Miss Julia wouldn't 'low
any of her people to be beat."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Evans Warrior
609 E. 23rd Avenue, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 80

"I was born here in Arkansas in Dallas County. I don't know zackly what
year but I was bout five when they drove us to Texas. Stayed there three
years till the war ceasted.

"Old master's name was Nat Smith. He was good to me. I was big enough to
plow same year the war ceasted.

"Yankees come through Texas after peace was 'clared. They'd come by and
ask my mother for bread. She was the cook.

"We left Arkansas 'fore the war got busy. Everything was pretty ragged
after we got back. White folks was here but colored folks was scattered.
My folks come back and went to their native home in Dallas County.

"Never did nothin' but farm work. Worked on the shares till I got able
to rent. Paid five or six dollars a acre. Made some money.

"I heered of the Ku Klux. Some of em come through the Clemmons place and
put notice on the doors. Say VACATE. All the women folks got in one
house. Then the boss man come down and say there wasn't nothin' to it.
Boss man didn't want em there.

"I went to school a little. Kep' me in the field all the tims. Didn't
get fur enuf to read and write.

"Yes'm, I voted. Voted the Republican ticket. That's what they give me
to vote. I couldn't read so I'd tell em who I wanted to vote for and
they'd put it down. Some of my friends was justice of the peace and

"I been in Pine Bluff bout four years--till I got disabled to work.

"I been married five times. All dead but two. Don't know how many
chillun we had--have to go back and study over it.

"Some of the younger generation is out of reason. Ain't strict on
chillun now like the old folks was."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Anna Washington, Clarendon, Arkansas
(Back of Mrs. Maynard's home in the alley)
Age: 77

"I've forgot who my mother's owner was. She was born in Virginia. She
was put on a block and sold. She was fifteen years old and she never
seen her mother again after she left her. Her master was George
Birdsong. He bought my papa too. They was onliest two he owned. He
wanted them both light so the children would be light for house girls
and waiting boys. Light colored folks sold for more money on the block.

"The boss man over grandpa and grandma in Virginia was John Glover. But
he was not their owner. My grandpa was about white. He said his owners
was good to him but now grandma had a pided back where she had been
whooped. Grandpa come down from the Washington slaves so my papa said.
That is the reason I holds to his name and my boy holds to it. Papa said
he had to plough and clean up new ground for Master Birdsong. He was a
young man starting out and papa and mama was young too.

(She left and came back with some old scraps of yellow and torn papers
dimly written all over: Anna Washington, born 1860 at Hines County at
Big Rock. Mother born at Capier County. Father born at White County,

"This is what was told to me by my papa: His grandmother was born of
George Washington's housemaid. That was one hundred forty years ago. His
papa was educated under a fine mechanic and he help build the old
State-house at Washington. Major Rousy Paten was the Washington nigger

"I had a sister named Martha Curtis after his young wife. I had a
brother named Housy Patton. They are both dead now. Pa lived to be
ninety-eight years old. My mama was as white as you is but she was a
nigger woman. Pa was lighter than I is now. I'm getting darker 'cause
I'm getting old. My pa was named Benjamin Washington.

"I heard my pa talk about Nat Turner. (She knew who he was o.k.--ed.) He
got up a rebellion of black folk back in Virginia. I heard my pa sit and
tell about him. Moses Kinnel was a rich white man wouldn't sell Nellie
'cause of what his wife said. She was a housemaid. He wrote own free
pass book and took her to Maryland. Father's father wanted to buy Nellie
but her owner wouldn't sell her. He took her.

"My mother had fourteen children. We and Archie was the youngest.

"Moses Kinnel was a rich white man and had lots of servants. He promised
never to sell Nellie and keep her to raise his white children. She was
his maid. He promised that her dying bed. But father's father stole her
and took her to Maryland.

"Pa run away and was sold twice or more. When he was small chile his
mother done fine washing. She seat him to go fetch her some fine laundry
soap what they bought in the towns. Two white men in a two-wheel open
buggy say, 'Hey, don't you want to ride?' 'I ain't got time.' 'Get in
buggy, we'll take you a little piece.' One jumped out and tied his hands
together. They sold him. They let him go to nigger traders. They had him
at a doctor's examining his fine head see what he could stand. The
doctor say, 'He is a fine man. Could trust him with silver and gold--his
weight in it.' They brung him to Mississippi and sold him for a big
price. He had these papers the doctor wrote on him to show.

"Then he sent for my mama after they sat him free. His name was Ben

"He never spoke much of freedom. He said his master in Mississippi told
them and had them sign up contracts to finish that year's crop. He took
back his old Virginia name and I don't recollect that master's name.
Heard it too. Yes ma'am, heap er times. My recollection is purty nigh

"I don't get no younger in feelings 'cause I'm getting old."

Name of Interviewer: S.S. Taylor
Subject: Slave memories--Birth, Mother, Father, Separation House
Subject: Slaves--Dwellings, Food, Clothes
Subject: Corn Shucking, Dances, Quiltings, Weddings among Slaves
Subject: Slaves--Fight with Master (junior); Slave uprisings
Subject: Confederate Army Negroes; Ex-slave Occupations
[TR: Topics moved from subsequent pages.]

This information given by: Eliza Washington
Place of Residence: 1517 West Seventeenth
Little Rock, Arkansas
Occupation: Washing and Ironing (When able)
Age: About 77
[TR: Information moved from bottom of first page.]

The first thing I remember was living with my mother about six miles
from Scott's Crossing in Arkansas, about the year 1866. I know it was
1866 because it was the year after the surrender, and we know the
surrender was in 1865. I know the dates after 1866. You don't know
nothin' when you don't know dates. If you get up in court and say
somethin', the lawyers ask you when it happened and then they ask you
where did it happen, and if you can't tell them, they say "Witness is
excused. You don't know nothin'."

Mother and Father

My mother was born in North Carolina in Mecklinberg in Henderson County.
I don't know when she came to Arkansas, and I don't know when she went
to Tennessee.

My father was born in Tennessee. I don't know the county like I did in
North Carolina. I don't know the town either, but I think it was in the
rurals somewhere. The white folks separated my mother and father when I
was a little baby in their arms. The people to whom my father belonged
stayed in Tennessee, but my mother's people came to Arkansas. It must
have been along in the time of the war that they come to Arkansas.


My mother lived in a log house chinked with wood chinks. The chinks
looked like gluts. You know what a glut is? No? Well a glut looks like
the pattern of a shoe. They lay the logs together, and then chink up the
cracks with wood blocks made up like the pattern of a shoe. These were
chinks, wooden things about a foot long, shaped like a wedge. They were
used for chinking. After the logs were laid together, chinks would be
needed to stop up the holes between the logs. After the chinking was
finished, clay was stuffed in to stop up the cracks and make the house
warm. I've seen a many a one built.

Wide planks were used for the floors. The doors were hung on wooden
hinges. The doors were never locked. They didn't have any looks on them.
You could bar them on the inside if you wanted to. They didn't have no
fear of burglars in them days. People wasn't bad then as they is now.
They had just one window and one door in the house. The chimney was
built up like a ladder and clay and straw was stuffed in the framework.

I have seen such houses built right down here in Scott's. My mother was
a field hand. She lived in such a house in Tennessee. There wasn't no
brick about the house, not even in the chimney. In later years, they
have covered up all those logs with weather boards and made the houses
look like what they call "modern", but theyr'e the same old log houses.


My mother said her white folks fed her well. She had whatever they had.
When she came to Arkansas, they issued rations, but she never was issued
rations before. When they issued rations, they gave them so much food
each week--so much corn meal, so much potatoes, so much cabbage, so much
molasses, so much meat--mostly rubbish-like food. We went out in the
garden and dug the potatoes and got the cabbage.

But in Tennessee, my mother got what ever she wanted whenever she wanted
it. If she wanted salt, she went and got it. If she wanted meat, she
went to the smokehouse and got it. Whatever she wanted, she went and got
it, and they didn't have no times for issuing out.

Social Affairs--Corn Shuckings, Quiltings and Dances

The biggest time I remember on the plantations was corn shucking time.
Plenty of corn was brought in from the cribs and strowed along where
everybody could get to it freely. Then they would all get corn and shuck
it until near time to quit. The corn shucking was always at night, and
only as much corn as they thought would be shucked was brought from the
cribs. Just before they got through, they would begin to sing. Some of
the songs were pitiful and sad. I can't remember any of them, but I can
remember that they were sad. One of them began like this:

"The speculator bought my wife and child
And carried her clear away."

When they got through shucking, they would hunt up the boss. He would
run away and hide just before. If they found him, two big men would take
him up on their shoulders and carry him all around the grounds while
they sang. My mother told me that they used to do it that way in slave


They didn't dance then like they do now all hugged up and indecent. In
them days, they danced what you call square dances. They don't do those
dances now, they're too decent. There were eight on a set. I used to
dance those myself.


I heard mother say she went to a lot of quiltings. I suppose they had
them much the same as they do now. Everybody took a part of the quilt to
finish. They talked and sang and had a good time. And they had somethin'
to eat at the close just as they did in the corn shucking. I never went
to a quilting.


Some of the Niggers went to church then just as they do now, and some of
them weren't allowed to go.

Reverend Winfield used to preach to the colored people that if they
would be good niggers and not steal their master's eggs and chickens and
things, that they might go to the kitchen of heaven when they died.

An old lady once said to me, "I would give anything if I could have
Maria in heaven with me to do little things for me." My mother told me
that the niggers had to turn the pots down to keep their voices from
sounding when they were praying at night. And they couldn't sing at all.


I can remember that they used to have weddings when I was a child around
the years 1867 and 1868. My mother told me of marriages and weddings.
She never saw no paint on anybody's face. They used to have powder, but
they never used any paint. Girls were better then than they are now.

Fight with Master

My mother's first master was named Rasly, and her second was named
Neely. She and her young master, John McNeely, who was raised with her
and who was about the same age as she was, got to fighting one day and
she whipped him clear as a whistle. After she whipped him that fight
went all over the country. She was between sixteen and seventeen years
old an he was about the same. She had never been whipped by the white

She was in the kitchen. I don't know what the trouble started over. But
they had an argument. There were some other white boys in the kitchen
with her young master, and they kept pushing the two of them up to
fight. He wanted to show off; so he told her what he would do to her if
she didn't hush her mouth. She told him to just try it, and the fight
was on. So they fought for about an hour, and the other white boys egged
them on.

She said that her old master never did whip her, and she sure wasn't
going to let the young one do it. I never heard that they punished her
for whipping her young master. I never heard her say that anybody tried
to whip her at any other time. My mother was a strong woman. She could
lift one end of a log with any man.

Slave Uprisings

My mother used to say that when she was about fourteen years old, (That
was about the time that the stars fell, and the stars fell in 1833
[HW:*]. So she must have been born in 1819. In 1833, she was sold for a
fourteen year old girl. That was the only time that she ever was sold.
That left her about eighty-three years old when she died in 1903.) She
used to say that when she was about fourteen years old, and was living
in North Carolina in Mecklinburg Co, in Henderson County, that the white
folks called all the slaves up to the big house and kept them there a
few days. There wasn't no trouble on my mother's place, but they had
heard that there was an uprising among the slaves, and they called all
the Niggers up to the house. They didn't do nothin' to them. They just
called them up to the house, and kept them there. It all passed over
soon. I don't know nothin' else about it.

Confederate Army Negroes

I've "heered" old Brother Zachary who used to belong to Bethel Church
tell about the surrender. Brother Zachary is dead now. He was a soldier
In the Confederate army. He fought all through the war and he used to
tell lots of stories about it.

You know, Lee was a tall man, fine looking and dignified. Grant was a
little man and short. Those two generals walked up to each other with a
white flag in their hands. And they talked and agreed just when they
would fight. And then they both went back to their armies, and they
fought the awfulest battle you ever "heered" of. The men lay dead in
rows and rows and rows. The dead men covered whole fields. And General
Lee said that there wasn't any use doing any more fighting. General
Grant let all the rebels keep their guns. He didn't take nothin' away
from them.

I saw General Grant when he came to Little Rock. There was an old white
man who had never been to Little Rock in his life. He said "I just had
to come up here to see this great general that they are talking about."


We always worked in the field in slave time. I don't know nothin about
share cropping because I always did days work. I used to get four and
five dollars a week for washing. But now they wants the young folks and
they don't pay them five dollars for everything. I can't get a pension.
Why you reckon they won't give me one. They don't understand that that
little house I own doesn't even keep itself up. My daughter-in-law is
good to me but she needs everything she makes. I can't get much to do
now, and what little I gets, they don't pay me much for.

I don' remember nothin' else.

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Jennie Washington, DeValls Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 80

"My mother was a slave and my father too I recken. They belonged to Jack
Walton when I remembered. I was born at St. Charles. My mother died in
time of the war at St. Louis. This is whut I remembers. My mother was
sold twice. The Prices owned her and the Wakefields owned her before she
was owned by old Jack Walton. I was the youngest child. I had one
brother went to war and he drawed a pension long as he lived. We
children all got scattered out. Mr. Walton bout the age of my father and
he said some day all these niggers be set free and warnt long fore they
sho was. I had one older sister I recollect mighty well. My mother named
Fannie, my father named Abe Walton. He had a young master James Walton.

"When I was nuthin but a chile I remembers James dressed up like Ku Klux
Klan and scared me. The old master sho did whoop him bout that. They
take care of the little black children and feed em good an don't let em
do too hard er work to stunt em so they take em off and sell em for a
good price.

"I remembers the little old log house my granma and granpa way back over
on the place stayed in till they died. We went back after the war and
lived ten years on the same place. We lived close to the white folks in
a bigger house.

"I don't recollect no big change after freedom cept they quit selling
and working folks without giving them money. I was too small to notice
much change then I speck. Times has always been tight wid me. I ain't
never had very much. I did work an a livin is all I ever got out of it.
Never could make enough to get ahead.

"The white folks never give the darky nothing when freedom declared. We
used to raise tobacco and sell it to smoke and make snuff. And he had em
make ax handles to sell on the side for money till the crops gathered.

"If you believe in the Bible you won't believe in women votin' I never
did vote. I ain't goner never vote.

"The present condition is fine. Mrs. Robinson carries a great big truck
load to her farm every day to pick cotton. She sent word up here she
take anybody whut wanter work. I wish I was able to go. I loves to pick
cotton. She pay em seventy-five cents a hundred. She'll pay em too! I
don't know what they do this winter. Set by the fire I recken. But next
spring she'll let hoe that crop. She took em this past year to hoe out
that very cotton they pickin now. Her husband, he's sick. He keeps their
store up town. She takes a few white hands too if they wanter work. I
don't think the present generation no worse en they ever been. They
drawed up closer together than they used to be. They buys everything now
an they don't raise nuthin. It's the Bible fulfillin. Everything so high
they caint save nuthin!

"I married twice. First time in the church, other time at home. I had
four children. I had two in Detroit. I don't know where my son is. He
may be there yet. My daughter there got fourteen children her own. I
don't know where the others are. Nom [HW: long "o" diacritical] they
don't help me a bit, do well helpin theirselves. I gets the Welfare
sistance and I works my garden back here."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Parrish Washington
812 Spruce Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 86

"I was born in 1852--born in Arkansas. Sam Warren was my old master.

"I remember some of the Rebel generals--General Price and General

"We had started to Texas but the Yankees got in ahead of us in the
Saline bottoms and we couldn't go no further.

"My boss had so much faith in his own folks he wouldn't leave here 'til
it was too late. He left home on Saturday night and got into the bottoms
on Sunday and made camp. Then the Yankees got in ahead of him and he
couldn't go no further, so we come back to Jefferson County.

"The Yankees had done took Little Rock and come down to Pine Bluff.

"My father died in 1860 and my mother in 1865.

"I can remember when they whipped the slaves. Never whipped me
though--they was just trainin' me up.

"Had an old lady on the place cooked for the children and we just got
what we could.

"I remember when peace was declared, the people shouted and rejoiced--a
heavy load had fell off.

"All the old hands stayed on the place. I stayed there with my uncle and
aunt. We was treated better then. I was about 25 years old when I left

"I farmed 'til '87. Then I joined the Conference and preached nearly
forty years when I was superannuated.

"I remember when the Rebels was camped up there on my boss's place. I
used to love to see the soldiers. Used to see the horses hitched to the

"Two or three of Sam Warren's hands run off and joined the Yankees. They
didn't know what it was goin' to be and two of 'em come back--stayed
there too.

"I used to vote the Republican ticket. I was justice of the peace four
years--two terms.

"I went to school here in Pine Bluff about two or three terms and I was
school director in district number two about six or seven years.

"I have great hope for the young people of the future. 'Course some of
'em are not worth killin' but the better class--I think there is a
bright future for 'em.

"But for the world in general, if they don't change they goin' to the
devil. But God always goin' to have some good people in reserve 'til the

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Caroline Watson
517 E. 21st Avenue, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 82

"I was born in '55 in March on the 13th on Sunday morning in time for
breakfast. I was born in Mississippi. I never will forget my white
folks. Oh, I was raised good. I had good white folks. Wish I could see
some of em now.

"Well, I specs I do remember when the war started. I member when twas
goin' on. Oh Lord, I member all bout it. Old mistress' name was Miss
Ellen Shird.

"Oh the Yankees used to come around. I can see us chillun sittin' on the
gallery watchin' em. I disremember what color uniform they had on, but I
seen a heap of em.

"My old master, I can see him now--old Joe Shird. Just as good as they
could be.

"I should say I do remember when they surrendered. I know everybody was
joyous. But they done better fore surrender than they did
afterwards--that is them that had to go off to themselves.

"I was always so fast tryin' to work I wasn't studyin' bout no books,
but I went to school after surrender. My father and mother was smart old
folks and made us work.

"I just been married once. I did pretty well. I like to been married
since he's dead but I seen so many didn't do so well. I has four sons
and one daughter. My son made me quit workin'. They gets me anything I
want. I got a religion that will do to die with. I done give up

"Younger generation? What we goin' do with em? They ought to be sent off
some place and put to work. They just gone to the dogs. The Lord have
mercy. My heart just aches and moans and groans for em."

Circumstances of Interview
NAME OF WORKER--Samuel S. Taylor
ADDRESS--Little Rock, Arkansas
DATE--December, 1938
[TR: Repetitive information deleted from subsequent pages.]

1. Name and address of informant--Mary Watson, 1500 Cross Street, Little

2. Date and time of interview--

3. Place of interview--1500 Cross Street, Little Rock.

4. Name and address of person, if any, who put you in touch with

5. Name and address of person, if any, accompanying you--

6. Description of room, house, surroundings, etc.--

Personal History of Informant

1. Ancestry--father, Abram McCoy; mother, Louise McCoy.

2. Place and date of birth--Mississippi. No date.

3. Family--

4. Places lived in, with dates--Lived in Mississippi until 1891 then
moved to Arkansas.

5. Education, with dates--

6. Occupations and accomplishments, with dates--

7. Special skills and interests--

8. Community and religious activities--

9. Description of informant--

10. Other points gained in interview--This person tells very little of
life, but tells of her parents.

Text of Interview (Unedited)

"My mother and father were McCoys. His name was Abram and her name was
Louise. My mother died right here when Brewer was Pastor of Wesley. You
ought to remember her. My mother died in 1928. My father died in 1897
when Joe Sherrill was pastor. Joe Sherrill went to Africa, you know. He
was a missionary.

"My mother was owned by Bill Mitchell. He came from Alabama. I can't
call the name of the town, just now. Yes, I can; it was Tuscaloosa. My
father came from South Carolina. McCoy was his owner. But how come him
to leave South Carolina he was sold after his master died and the
property was divided. He was sold away from his family. He had a large
family--about nine children. My mother was sold away from her mother
too. She was little and couldn't help herself. My grandma didn't want to
come. And she managed not to; I don't know how she managed it.

"Before freedom my father was a farmer. My mother was a farmer too. My
mother wasn't so badly treated. She was a slave but she worked right
along with the white children. She had two brothers. The other sister
stayed with her mother. She was sold--my mother's mother. But I don't
know to whom.

"My father was a preacher. He could word any hymn. How could he do it, I
don't know. On his Sunday, when the circuit rider wasn't there, he would
have me read the Bible to him and then he could get up and tell it to
the people. I don't know how he managed it. He didn't know how to read.
But he had a wonderful memory. He always had his exhorting license
renewed and he exhorted the people both Methodists and Baptists. After
freedom, when I went to school I knew and always helped him.

"My father voted on the election days all the time. Be was a Republican,
and he rallied to them all the time. Before the war, my father farmed.
He commenced in the early fall hauling the cotton from Abbeville, South
Carolina to Augusta, Georgia. That was his business--teamster, hauling
cotton. He never did talk like his owners were so mean to him. Of
course, they weren't mean. When her master died and the property had to
be sold, his master bought her and her babies.

"My father met my mother before the war started. Colored people were
scarce in the locality where she lived. These white people saw my father
and liked him. And they encouraged her to marry him. She was only
seventeen. My father was much older. He remembered the dark day in May


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