Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States
Work Projects Administration
Part 2 out of 4
and when the stars fell.
"He didn't show his age much though till he came to Little Rock. He had
been used to farming and city life didn't agree with him. He left about
seven years after coming here.
"My father and mother met and married in Mississippi. He came from South
Carolina and she came from Alabama. They had nine children. All of them
were born after the war. I am the oldest. Lee McCoy is my youngest
brother. You know him, I'm sure. He is the president of Rust College. I
was born right after the war. Don't put me down as no ex-slave. I was
born right after the war.
"Right after the war, my father farmed in Mississippi. He took a notion
to come to Arkansas in 1891. He brought his whole family with him. And I
have been out here ever since.
"I never saw any slave houses. I wasn't a slave. I have been to the
place where my mother was raised. I was teaching school near there and
just wanted to see. After her master died, Sam McCallister, his cousin,
took the slave children and was their guardian. Years later it come up
in court and they took all his land. Bill Mitchell was her first master.
He died during slave time. McCallister was made administrator of the
estate. He was made guardian of all the children too. He was made
guardian of the white children and of the colored children. He raised
them all. There was Ma and her auntie and three or four children of her
auntie's. Later on, way after the war, there was a lawsuit. I was grown
then. The courts made him pay the white children their share as far as
he was able. Of course, the colored children got nothing because they
were slaves when he took them.
"I don't know nothing about the Ku Klux Klan bothering my family. I
don't remember anything except that I hear them talking about the Ku
Klux and the Pateroles. I wasn't here.
"Don't put me down as an ex-slave. I am not an ex-slave. I was born
after the war. I don't know nothing about slavery except what I heard
others say. I expect I have talked too much anyway."
The constant reiteration of the phrase, "I'm not an ex-slave" roused my
curiosity and drove me to a superficial investigation. Persons who are
acquainted with her and her family estimate that Mary Watson is nearer
eighty than seventy. She started her story pleasantly enough. But when
she got the obsession that she would be put down as an ex-slave, she
refused to tell more.
There is one thing not to be overlooked. Mary Watson has a mind that is
still keen. She tells what she wants to tell, and she doesn't state a
thing that she does not want to state. The hidden facts are to be
discerned only by subtle inference. This trait interested me, for her
younger brother, mentioned in the story, is a distinguished character,
President of Rust College, Holly Springs, Mississippi, and known to be
experienced and efficient in his work. Whatever she may have reserved or
stated, in reading her story, we are reading at least a sidelight on a
family of which some of the members have done some fine work within the
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Bart Wayne, Helena, Arkansas
"I was born at Holly Springs in 1866. It was in the springtime. Ma said
I was born two years after the surrender. Ma was named Mary and pa
Dan--Dan Wayne. They never was sold. In 1912 Dr. Leard was living in a
big fine house at Sardia, Mississippi. He was our last owner. Mallard
Jones owned them too. Pa didn't have no name. He was called for his
owners. I don't know if he named hisself Dan Wayne or not. The way I
think it was, Mr. Jones give Dr. Leard's wife them. He give her a big
plantation. I knowed Dr. Leard my own self all my life. I'd go to see
"The present times is hard. I get ten dollars a month. I don't know what
to say about folks now--none of them."
Interviewer: Pernella Anderson
Person Interviewed: Annie Mae Weathers
East Bone Street
El Dorado, Ark.
"I was born bout the second year after surrender right down here at
Caledonia. Now the white folks that ma and pa and me belonged to was
named Fords. We farmed all the time. The reason we farmed all the time
was because that was all for us to do. You see there wasn't nothin' else
for us to do. There wasn't no schools in my young days to do no good,
and this time of year we was plowin' to beat the band and us always
planted corn in February and in April our corn was.
"We fixed our ground early and planted early and we had good crops of
everything. We went to bed early and rose early. We had a little song
that went like this:
Early to bed and early to rise
Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.
The early bird catches the worm.
Cooked breakfast every morning by a pine torch.
"I member hearin' my pa say that when somebody come and hollowed: 'Yer
niggers is free at last' say he just dropped his hoe and said in a queer
voice: 'Thank God for that.' It made old miss and old moss so sick till
they stopped eating a week. Pa said old moss and old miss looked like
their stomach and guts had a law suit and their navel was called in for
a witness, they was so sorry we was free.
"After I got a good big girl I was hired out for my clothes and
something to eat. My dresses was made out of cotton stripes and my
chemise was made out of flannelette and my under pants was made out of
"Our games was 'Honey, honey Bee,' 'Ball I can't Yall,' and a nother one
of our games was 'Old Lady Hypocrit.'"
Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Cora Weathers
818 Chester Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
"I have been right on this spot for sixty-three years. I married when I
was sixteen and he brought me here and put me down and I have been here
ever since. No, I don't mean he deserted me; I mean he put me on this
spot of ground. Of course, I have been away on a visit but I haven't
been nowheres else to live.
"When I came here, there was only three houses--George Winstead lived on
Chester and Eighth Street; Dave Davis lived on Ninth and Ringo; and
George Gray lived on Chester and Eighth. Rena Lee lived next to where
old man Paterson stays now, 906 Chester. Rena Thompson lived on Chester
and Tenth. The old people that used to live here is mostly dead or moved
"On Seventh and Ringo there was a little store. It was the only store
this side of Main Street. There was a little old house where Coffin's
Drug Store is now. The branch ran across there. Old man John Peyton had
a nursery in a little log house. You couldn't see it for the trees. He
kept a nursery for flowers. On the next corner, old man Sinclair lived.
That is the southeast corner of Ninth and Broadway. Next to him was the
Hall of the Sons of Ham.
"That was the first place I went to school. Lottie Stephens, Robert
Lacy, and Gus Richmond were the teacher. Hollins was the principal. That
was in the Sons of Ham's Hall.
"I was born in Dallas County, Arkansas. It must have been 'long 'bout in
eighty-fifty-nine, 'cause I was sixteen years old when I come here and I
been here sixty-three years.
"During the War, I was quite small. My mother brought me here after the
War and I went to school for a while. Mother had a large family. So I
never got to go to school but three months at a time and only got one
dollar and twenty-five cents a week wages when I was working. My father
drove a wagon and hoed cotton. Mother kept house. She had--lemme
see--one, two, three, four--eight of us, but the youngest brother was
"My mother's name was Millie Stokes. My mother's name before she was
married was--I don't know what. My father's name was William Stokes. My
father said he was born in Maryland. I met Richard Weathers here and
married him sixty-three years ago. I had six children, three girls and
three boys. Children make you smart and industrious--make you think and
make you get about.
"I've heard talk of the pateroles; they used to whip the slaves that was
out without passes, but none of them never bothered us. I don't remember
anything myself, because I was too small. I heard of the Ku Klux too;
they never bothered my people none. They scared the niggers at night. I
never saw none of them. I can't remember how freedom came. First I
knowed, I was free.
"People in them days didn't know as much as the young people do now. But
they thought more. Young people nowadays don't think. Some of them will
do pretty well, but some of them ain't goin' to do nothin'. They are
gittin' worse and worser. I don't know what is goin' to become of them.
They been dependin' on the white folks all along, but the white folks
ain't sayin' much now. My people don't seem to want nothin'. The
majority of them just want to dress and run up and down the streets and
play cards and policy and drink and dance. It is nice to have a good
time but there is something else to be thought of. But if one tries to
do somethin', the rest tries to pull him down. The more education they
get, the worse they are--that is, some of them."
Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Ishe Webb
1610 Cross Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: 78, or more
"I was born October 14. That was in slavery time. The record is burnt
up. I was born in Atlanta, Georgia. My father's master was a Webb. His
first name was Huel. My father was named after him. I came here in 1874,
and I was a boy eleven or twelve years old then.
"My father was sold to another man for seventeen hundred dollars. My
mother was sold for twenty hundred. I have heard them say that so much
that I never will forget it. Webb sold my father and bought him back. My
mother's folks were Calverts. The Calverts and the Webbs owned adjoining
"My grandmother on my mother's side was a Calvert too. Her first name
was Joanna. I think my father's parents got beat to death in slavery.
Grandfather on my mother's side was tied to a stump and whipped to
death. He was double jointed and no two men could whip him. They wanted
to whip him because he wouldn't work. That was what they would whip any
one for. They would run off before they would work. Stay in the woods
"My Grandma Calvert was buried over here in Galloway on the Rock Island
road on the John Eynes plantation.
"My folks' masters were all right. But them nigger drivers were bad,
just like the county farm. A man sitting in the house and putting you
over a lot of men, you gwinter go up high as you want to.
"My father was a blacksmith and my mother was a weaver. There was a lot
of those slavery folks 'round the house, and they tell me they didn't
work them till they were twenty-one, they put them in the field when
they were twenty-two. If you didn't work they would beat you to death.
My father killed his overseer and went on off to the War.
"The pateroles used to drive and whip them. They would catch the slaves
off without a pass and whip them and then make the boss pay for them
when they took them back. I never seen the pateroles but I have seen the
Ku Klux and they were the same thing.
"The jayhawkers would catch you when the pateroles didn't. They would
carry you to the pateroles and get pay for you, and the pateroles would
turn you over to the owners. You had to have a pass. If you didn't the
pateroles would catch you and wear you out, keep you till the next
morning, and then send you home by the jayhawkers. They didn't call them
that though, they called them bushwhackers.
"The Ku Klux came after the War. They was the same thing as the
pateroles--they come out from them. I know where the Ku Klux home is
over here on Eighteenth and Broadway. That is where they broke up. It
ain't never been open since. (Not correct--ed.)
"I saw the Yankees come in the yard on the Webb place. That was in the
time of the War. The old man got on his horse and flew. The Yankees went
in the smokehouse, broke it open, got all the meat they wanted. They
didn't pay you nothing in slavery time. But what meat the Yankees didn't
take for themselves, they give to the niggers.
"My folks never got anything for their work that I know of. I heard my
mother say that nobody got paid for their work. I don't know whether
they had a chance to make anything on the side or not.
"The Yankees, when they come in the yard that morning, told my father he
was free. I remember that myself. They come up riding horses and
carryin' long old guns with bayonets on them, and told him. They rode
all over the country from one place to another telling the niggers they
were free. Master didn't get a chance to tell us because he left when he
saw them comin'.
"When my mother and father were living on the plantation, they lived in
an old frame building. A portion of it was log. My father stayed with
the Calverts--his wife's white folks. At first old man Webb sold him to
them; then he bought him back and bought my mother too. They were
together when freedom came. You know they auctioned you off in slavery
time. Every year, they would, they put you up on the auction block and
buy and sell. That was down in Georgia. We was in Georgia when we was
freed--in Atlanta. My father and mother had fourteen children
altogether. My mother died the year after we came out here. That would
be about 1875. I never had but three children because my wife died
early. Two of them are dead.
"Right after freedom, my father plaited baskets and mats. He shucked
mops, put handles on rakes and did things like that in addition to his
farming. He was a blacksmith all the time too. He used to plait collars
for mules. He farmed and got his harvests in season. The other things
would be a help to him between times.
"My father came here because he thought that there was a better
situation here than in Georgia. Of course, the living was better there
because they had plenty of fruit. Then he worked on a third and fourth.
He got one bale of cotton out of every three he made. The slaves left
many a plantation and they would grow up in weeds. When a man would
clear up the ground like this and plant it down in something, he would
get all he planted on it. That was in addition to the ground that he
would contract to plant. He used to plant rice, peas, potatoes, corn,
and anything else he wanted too. It was all his'n so long as it was on
extra ground he cleared up.
"But they said, 'Cotton grows as high as a man in Arkansas.' Then they
paid a man two dollars fifty cents for picking cotton here in Arkansas
while they just paid about forty cents in Georgia. So my father came
here. Times was good when we come here. The old man cleared five bales
of cotton for himself his first year, and he raised his own corn. He
bought a pony and a cow and a breeding hog out of the first year's
money. He died about thirty-five years ago.
"When I was coming along I did public work after I became a grown man.
First year I made crops with him and cleared two bales for myself at
twelve and a half cents a pound. The second year I hired out by the
month at forty-five dollars per month and board. I had to buy my clothes
of course. After seven years I went to doing work as a millwright here
in Arkansas. I stayed at that eighteen months. Then I steamboated.
"We had a captain on that steamboat that never called any man by his
name. We rolled cotton down the hill to the boat and loaded it on, and
if you weren't a good man, that cotton got wet. I never wetted my
cotton. But jus' the same, I heard what the others heard. One day after
we had finished loading, I thought I'd tell him something. The men
advised me not to. He was a rough man, and he carried a gun in his
pocket and a gun in his shirt. I walked up to him and said, 'Captain, I
don't know what your name is, but I know you's a white man. I'm a
nigger, but I got a name jus' like you have. My name's Webb. If you call
Webb, I'll come jus' as quick as I will for any other name and a lot
more willing. If you don't want to say Webb, you can jus' say "Let's
go," and you'll find me right there.' He looked at me a moment, and then
he said, 'Where you from?' I said, 'I'm from Georgia, but I came on this
boat from Little Hock.' He put his arm around my shoulder and said,
'Come on upstairs.' We had two or three drinks upstairs, and he said,
'You and your pardner are the only two men I have that is worth a damn.'
Then he said, 'But you are right; you have a name, and you have a right
to be called by it.' And from then on, he quit callin' us out of our
"But I only stayed on the boat six months. It wasn't because of the
captain. Them niggers was bad. They gambled all the time, and I gambled
with them. But they wouldn't stop at that. They would argue and fight
and cut and shoot. A man would shoot a man down, and then kick him off
into the river. Then when there was roll call, nobody would know what
became of him. I didn't like that. I knew that I was goin' to kill
somebody if I stayed on that boat 'cause I didn't intend for nobody to
kill me. So I stopped.
"After that, I went back to the man that I worked for the month for and
stayed with him till I married. I took care of the stock. I was only
married once. My wife died the fourteenth of October. We had three
children, and I have one daughter living.
"I have voted often. I never had no trouble. I am a colored man and I
ain't got nothin' but my character, but I take care of that. I let them
know I am in Arkansas. I ain't been out of Arkansas but to Memphis and
Vicksburg, and I took them trips on the boat I was working on. I was a
good man then.
"I can't say nothing about these wild-headed young people. They ain't
got no sense. Take God to handle them.
"Some parts of politics are all right and some are all wrong. It is like
Grant. He was straddled the fence part of the time. I believe Roosevelt
wants eight more years. Of course, he did a great deal for the people
but the working man isn't getting enough money. Prices are so high and
wages so low that a man keeps up to the grindstone and never gets ahead.
They don't mean for a colored man to prosper by money. Senator Robinson
said a nigger wasn't worth but fifty cents a day. But the nigger is
coming anyhow. He is stinching hisself and doing without. The young
folks ain't doing it though. These young folks doing every devilishment
on earth they can. Look at that boy they caught the other day who had
robbed twenty houses. This young race ain't goin' to stan' what I stood
for. They goin' to school every day but they ain't learning nothin'.
What will take us through this tedious journey through the world is his
manners, his principle, and his behavior. Money ain't goin' to do it.
You can't get by without principles, manner, and good behavior. Niggers
can't do it. And white folks can't either."
Pine Bluff District
Name of Interviewer: Martin - Barker
Subject: (Negro Lore)--Ex-Slave
This information given by: Alfred Wells
Place of residence:
[TR: Information moved from bottom of first page.]
I has de eye of an eagle. One in my haid, de other in my chest.
Sometimes us slaves would stay out later at night than ole marster seid
we could and they send the patrols out for us.
And we started a song; "Run nigger run, the petlo' catch you, run nigger
run, its almost day."
My brother run off and hid in the pasture. I wuz a small boy, dey called
me nigger cowboy, cause I drive de cows up at night, and took em to de
paster in the mornings.
I knowed my brother runned off, but I wouldn't tell on him. He run off
to join the Yankees. They never found him, although, they used the
nigger dogs, who were taken out by men who were looking for runaway
Ef I had my choice, I'd ruther be a slave. But we cant always have our
ruthers. Them times I had good food, plenty to wear, and no more work
than was good for me.
Now I is kinder miliated, when I think of what a high stepper I used to
be. Having, to hang around with a sack on my back begging de government
to keep me fum starving.
Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Douglas Wells
1419 Alabama Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
"I'se just a kid 'bout six or seven when the war started and 'bout ten
or twelve when it ceasted.
"I'se born in Mississippi on Miss Nancy Davis' plantation. Old Jeff
Davis was some relation.
"My brother Jeff jined the Yankees but I never seen none till peace was
"I heered the old folks talkin' and they said they was fightin' to keep
the people slaves.
"I 'member old mistress, Miss Nancy. She was old when I was a kid. She
had a big, large plantation. She had a lot of hands and big quarter
houses. Oh, I 'member you could go three miles this way and three miles
that way. Oh, she had a big plantation. I reckon it was mighty near big
as this town. I 'member they used to take the cotton and hide it in the
woods. I guess it was to keep the Yankees from gettin' it.
"I lived in the quarters with my father and mother and we stayed there
after the war--long time after the war. I stayed there till I got to be
grown. I continued there. I 'member her house and yard. Had a big yard.
"I can read some. Learned it at Miss Nancy Davis' plantation after the
war. They had a little place where they had school. I went to church
some a long time ago.
"Abraham Lincoln was a white man. He fought in the time of the war,
didn't he? Oh, yes, he issued freedom. The Yankees and the Rebels
"After the war I worked at farm work. I ain't did no real hard work for
over a year."
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: John Wells, Edmondson, Arkansas
"I was born down here at Edmondson, Arkansas. My owner was a captain in
the Rebel War (Civil War). He run us off to Texas close to Greenville.
He was keeping us from the Yankees. In fact my father had planned to go
to the Yankees. My mother died on the way to Texas close to the Arkansas
line. She was confined and the child died too. We went in a wagon. Uncle
Tom and his wife and Uncle Granville went too. He left his wife. She
lived on another white man's farm. My master was Captain R. Campbell
Jones. He took us to Texas. He and my father come back in the same wagon
we went to Texas in. My father (Joe Jones Wells) told Captain R.
Campbell Jones if he didn't let him come back here that he would be here
when he got here--beat him back. That's what he told him. Captain
brought him on back with him.
"What didn't we do in Texas? Hooeee! I had five hundred head of sheep
belonging to J. Gardner, a Texan, to herd every day--twice a day. Carry
'em off in the morning early and watch 'em and fetch 'em back b'fore
dark. I was a shepherd boy is right. I liked the job till the snow
cracked my feet open. No, I didn't have no shoes. Little round cactuses
stuck in my feet.
"I had shoes to wear home. Captain Jones gave leather and everything
needed to Uncle Granville. He was a shoemaker. He made us all shoes jus'
before we was to start back. Captain Jones sent the wagon back for us.
My father come back right here at Edmondson and farmed cotton and corn.
Uncle Tom and Uncle Granville raised wheat out in Texas. They didn't
have no overseer but they said they worked harder 'an ever they done in
their lives, 'fore or since.
"My father went to war with his master. Captain Jones served 'bout three
years I judge. My father went as his waiter. He got enough of war, he
"Captain R. Campbell Jones had a wife, Miss Anne, and no children. I
seen mighty near enough war in Texas. They fit there. Yes ma'am, they
did. I seen soldiers in Greenville, Texas. I seen the cavalry there.
They looked so fine. Prettiest horses I ever seen.
"Freedom! Master Campbell Jones come to us and said, 'You free this
morning. The war is over.' It been over then but travel was slow. 'You
all can go back home, I'll take you, or you can go root hog or die.' We
all got to gatherin' up our belongings to come back home. Tired of no
wood neither, besides that hard work. We all share cropped with Captain
R. Campbell Jones two years. I know that. We got plenty wood without
going five or six miles like in Texas. After freedom folks got to
changing 'bout to do better I reckon. I been farmin' right here all my
life. We didn't have a lot to eat out in Texas neither. Mother was a
farm woman too.
"I never seen a Ku Klux. Bad Ku Klux sound sorter like good Santa Claus.
I heard 'em say it was real. I never seen neither one.
"I did own ten acres of land. I own a home now.
"My father drove a grub wagon from Memphis to Lost Swamp Bottom--near
Edmondson--when they built this railroad through here.
"Father never voted. I have voted several times.
"Present times is tougher now than before it come on. Things not going
like it ought somehow. We wants more pension. Us old folks needs a good
living 'cause we ain't got much more time down here.
"Present generation--they are slack--I means they slack on their
parents, don't see after them. They can get farm work to do. They waste
their money more than they ought. Some folks purty nigh hungry. That is
for a fact the way it is going.
"Master Henry Edmondson owned all the land to the Chatfield place to
Lehi, Arkansas. He owned four or five thousand acres of land. It was
bottoms and not cleared. They had floods then, rode around in boats
sometimes. Colored folks could get land through Andy Flemming (colored
man). Mr. Henry Edmondson and whole family died with the yellow fever.
He had several children--Miss Emma, Henry, and Will I knowed. It is
probably his father buried at far side of this town. A rattlesnake bit
him. Lake Rest or Scantlin was a boat landing and that was where the
nearest white folks lived to the Edmondsons. I worked for Mr. Henry
Edmondson, the one died with yellow fever. He was easy to work for. Land
wasn't cleared out much. He was here before the Civil War. Good many
people, in fact all over there, died of yellow fever at Indian Mound. Me
and my brother waited on white folks all through that yellow fever
plague. Very few colored folks had it. None of 'em I heered tell of died
with it. White folks died in piles. Now when the smallpox raged the
colored folks had it seem like heap more and harder than white folks.
Smallpox used to rage every few years. It break out and spread. That is
the way so many colored folks come to own land and why it was named
Edmondson. Named for Master Henry--Edmondson, Arkansas.
"Mrs. Cynthia Ann Earle wrote a diary during the Civil War. It was
partly published in the Crittenden County Times--West Memphis
paper--Fridays, November 27 and December 4, 1936. She tells interesting
things happening. Mentions two books she is reading. She tells about a
flood, etc. She tells about visiting and spending over a thousand
dollars. Mrs. L.A. Stewart or Mrs. H.E. Weaver of Edmondson owns copies
if they cannot be obtained at the printing office at West Memphis."
Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Sarah Wells
1012 W. Sixteenth Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
Occupation: Field hand
"I was born in Warren County, Mississippi, on Ben Watkins' plantation.
That was my master--Ben Worthington. I don't know nothin' about the year
but it was before the war--the Civil War. I was born on Christmas day.
"Isaac Irby was my father. I don't know how you spell it. I can't read
and write. I can tell you this. My mother's dead. She's been dead since
I was twelve years old. Her name was Jane Irby. My name is Wells because
I have been married. Willis was my husband's name. I have just been
married once. I was married to him fifty years. He has been dead
thirteen years the fifteenth of October. I don't know how old I was when
I was married. But I know I am eighty-four years old now. I must have
been about twenty or twenty-one when I married.
"The slaves lived in log houses, dirt chimneys, plank floors. They had
beds made out of wood--that's all I know. I don't know where they kept
their food. They kept it in the house when they had any. The slaves
didn't have to cook much. Mars Ben had a slave to cook for them. They
all et breakfast together, and lunch in the fiel'.
Food and Cooking
"There was a great big shed. They'd all go up there and eat--the slaves
would all go up and eat. I don't know what the grown folks had. They
used to give us children milk and corn bread for breakfast. They'd give
us greens, peas, and all like that for dinner. Didn't know nothin' about
Work and Runaways; Day's Work
"My mother and father worked in the field hoeing, plowing and all like
that--doing whatever they told 'em to do. They raised corn and ground
meal. Some of the slaves would pick five hundred pounds of cotton in a
day; some of them would pick three hundred pounds; and some of them only
picked a hundred. IF YOU DIDN'T PICK TWO HUNDRED FIFTY POUNDS, THEY'D
PUNISH YOU, put you in the stocks. If you'd run off, they put the nigger
hounds behind you. I never run off, but my mother run off.
"She would go in the woods. I don't know where she'd go after she'd get
in the woods. She would go in the woods and hide somewheres. She'd take
somethin' to eat with her. I couldn't find her myself. She take
somethin' to eat with her. She didn't know what flour bread was. I don't
remember what she'd take--somethin' she could carry. Sometimes she would
stay in the woods two months, sometimes three months. They'd pay for the
nigger hounds and let them chase her back. She'd try to get away. She
never took me with her when she ran away.
Buying and Selling
"My mother and her sister were bought in old Virginny. Ben Watkins was
the one that bought her. He bought my father too. Then he sold my father
to the Leightons. Leighton bought my father from Ben Watkins for a
carriage driver. I was never bought nor sold. I was born on Ben Watkins'
plantation and freed on it.
"I've heered them say the pateroles is out. I don't know who they was. I
know they'd whip you. I was a child then. I would just know what I was
How Freedom Came
"The Yankees told my mother she was free. They had on blue clothes. They
said them was the Yankees. I don't know what they told her. I know they
said she was free. That's all I know.
"Sometimes the soldiers would do right smart damage. They set a lot of
houses on fire. They done right smart damage.
"I have seen Jeff Davis. I never seen Lincoln. They said it was Jeff
Davis I seen. I seen him in Vicksburg. That was after the war was over.
Ku Klux Klan
"I have heered about the Ku Klux, but I don't know what it was I heered.
They never bothered me.
Right after the War
"Right after the war, my mother and father hired out to work. They did
most any kind of work--whatever they could get to do. Mother cooked.
Father would generally do house cleaning. Mother didn't live long after
"I lost my finger because of blood poisoning. I had a scratch on my
finger. Pulled a hangnail out of it. I went around a lady who had a high
fever and she asked me to sponge her off and I did it. I got the finger
in the water that I sponged with and it got blood poisoned. I like to
"I was married and had three children when my father died. I don't know
what he died with nor what year.
"My mother had had seven children--all girls. I had seven children. But
three of mine were boys and four were girls. Ain't none of them living
"My son was living in Little Rock and he kept after me to come here and
I come. After I come, he left and went to Kansas City. He died there. I
used to do laundry work. I quit that. I commenced to do sellin' for
different companies. I sold for Mack Brady, Crawford & Reeves, and a lot
"I don't know what I think about the young people. They ain't nothin'
like I was when I was a gal. Things have changed since I come along. I
better not say what I think."
The interviewee says she is eighty-four, and her story hangs together.
Her husband died thirteen years ago, and they had been married fifty
years when he died. She "recollects" being about twenty years old when
she married. She says she was about twelve years old when her mother
died, one year after the close of the Civil War. This data seems to be
rather conclusive on the age of eighty-four.
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Sarah Williams Wells, Biscoe, Arkansas
Age: Born 1866
"I jess can't tell much; my memory fails me. My white folks was John and
Mary Williams but I was born two years after the surrender. Soon after
the surrender they went to Lebanon, Tennessee. My folks stayed on wha I
was born round in Murry County. My father was killed after the war but I
was little. My mother died same year I married. I heard em say there was
John and Frank. They may be living over there now. I heard em talking
bout war times. They said my father was a blacksmith in the war. I come
here wid four little children on a ticket to Crocketts Bluff. We was
sick all that year. Made a fine crop. The man let another man have us to
work. He was a colored man. His wife she was mean to us. She never come
to see or do one thing when we all had fever. The babies nearly starved.
Took all for doctor bills and medicine. Had $12 when all bills settled
out of the whole crop. In all I had fifteen children. But two girls and
one boy all that livin now. I farmed and washed and ironed all my life.
My husband was born a slave. (He recently died.)
"The present generation ain't got no religion. They dances and cuts up a
heap. They don't care nothing bout settlin down. When they marry now,
that man say he got the law on her. She belongs to him. He thinks he can
make her do like he wants her all the time and they don't get along. Now
that's what I hear round. I sho got married and we got along good till
he died. We treated one another best we knowed how. The times is what
the folks making it. Time ain't no different, is like the folks make.
This depression is whut the folks is making. Some so scared they won't
get it all. They leave mighty little for the rest to get. They ain't
nothin matter with nothin but the greedy people want it all to split
through wid. I don't know what going to come of it all. Nothin I tell
you bout it ain't no good. Young folks done smarter than I is. They
don't listen to nobody."
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: John Wesley, Helena, Arkansas
"I was full grown when the Civil War come on. I was a slave till
'mancipation. I was born close to Lexington, Kentucky. My master in
Kentucky was Master Griter. He was 'fraid er freedom. Father belong to
Averys in Tennessee. He was a farm hand. They wouldn't sell him. I was
sold to Master Boone close to Moscow. I was sold on a scaffold high as
that door (twelve feet). I seen a lot of children sold on that scaffold.
I fell in the hands of George Coggrith. We come to Helena in wagons. We
crossed the river out from Memphis to Hopefield. I lived at Wittsburg,
Arkansas during the war. They smuggled us about from the Yankees and
took us to Texas. Before the war come on we had to fight the Indians
back. They tried to sell us in Texas. George Coggrith's wife died.
Mother was the cook for all the hands and the white folks too. She
raised two boys and three girls for him. She went on raising his
children during the war and after the war. During the war we hid out and
raised cotton and corn. We hid in the woods. The Yankees couldn't make
much out in the woods and canebrakes. We stayed in Texas about a year.
Four years after freedom we didn't know we was free. We was on his farm
up at Wittsburg. That is near Madison, Arkansas. Mother wouldn't let the
children get far off from our house. She was afraid the Indians would
steal the children. They stole children or I heard they did. The wild
animals and snakes was one thing we had to look out for. Grown folks and
children all kept around home unless you had business and went on a
"My wife died three years ago. I stay with a grandchild. I got a boy but
I don't know where he is now.
"I had a acre and a home. I got in debt and they took my place.
"I voted. The last time for President Wilson. We got a good President
now. I voted both kinds of tickets some. I think they called me a
Democrat. I quit voting. I'm too old.
"I farmed in my young days. I oil milled. I saw milled. I still black
smithing (in Helena now). I make one or two dollars a week. Work is hard
to git. Times is tight. I don't get help 'ceptin' some friend bring us
some work. I stay up here all time nearly.
"I don't know about the young generation.
"Well, we had a gin. During of the war it got burnt and lots of bales of
cotton went 'long with it.
"The Ku Klux come about and drink water. They wanted folks to stay at
home and work. That what they said. We done that. We didn't know we was
free nohow. We wasn't scared."
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Robert Wesley, Holly Grove, Arkansas
"I was born in Shelby County, Alabama. My parents was Mary and Thomas
Wesley. Their master was Mary and John Watts.
"John Watts tried to keep me. I stayed round him all time and rode up
behind him on his horse. He was a soldier.
"Both my parents was sold but I don't know how it was done. There was
thirteen children in our family. The white folks had a picnic and took
colored long to do round. Some heard bout freedom and went home tellin'
bout it. We stayed on and worked.
"The Ku Klux sure did run some of em. Seem like they didn't know what
freedom meant. Some of em run off and kept goin'. Never did get back. I
don't know a thing bout the Ku Klux. I heard em say they got whoopin's
for doin' too much visitin'. I was a baby so I don't know.
"I do not vote. I voted for McKinley in Mississippi.
"I been farmin' all my life. I got one hog and a garden, three little
grand babies. My daughter died and their papa went off and left em.
Course I took em--had to. I pay $1 house rent. I get $12 from the PWA.
"The times is mighty fast. I recken the young folks do fair. There has
been big changes since I come on."
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Maggie Wesmoland, Brinkley, Arkansas
"I was born in Arkansas in slavery time beyond Des Arc. My parents was
sold in Mississippi. They was brought to Arkansas. I never seed my
father after the closing of the war. He had been refugeed to Texas and
come back here, then he went on back to Mississippi. Mama had seventeen
children. She had six by my stepfather. When my stepfather was mustered
out at De Valls Bluff he come to Miss (Mrs.) Holland's and got mama and
took her on wid him. I was give to Miss Holland's daughter. She married
a Cargo. The Hollands raised me and my sister. I never seen mama after
she left. My mother was Jane Holland and my father was Smith Woodson.
They lived on different places here in Arkansas. I had a hard time. I
was awfully abused by the old man that married Miss Betty. She was my
young mistress. He was poor and hated Negroes. He said they didn't have
no feeling. He drunk all the time. He never had been used to Negroes and
he didn't like em. He was a middle age man but Miss Betty Holland was in
"No, mama didn't have as hard a time as I had. She was Miss Holland's
cook and wash woman. Miss Betty told her old husband, 'Papa don't beat
his Negroes. He is good to his Negroes.' He worked overseers in the
field. Nothing Miss Betty ever told him done a bit of good. He didn't
have no feeling. I had to go in a trot all the time. I was scared to
death of him--he beat me so. I'm scarred up all over now where he lashed
me. He would strip me start naked and tie my hands crossed and whoop me
till the blood ooze out and drip on the ground when I walked. The flies
blowed me time and again. Miss Betty catch him gone, would grease my
places and put turpentine on them to kill the places blowed. He kept a
bundle of hickory switches at the house all the time. Miss Betty was
good to me. She would cry and beg him to be good to me.
"One time the cow kicked over my milk. I was scared not to take some
milk to the house, so I went to the spring and put some water in the
milk. He was snooping round (spying) somewhere and seen me. He beat me
nearly to death. I never did know what suit him and what wouldn't.
Didn't nothing please him. He was a poor man, never been used to nothin'
and took spite on me everything happened. They didn't have no children
while I was there but he did have a boy before he died. He died fore I
left Dardanelle. When Miss Betty Holland married Mr. Cargo she lived
close to Dardanelle. That is where he was so mean to me. He lived in the
deer and bear hunting country.
"He went to town to buy them some things for Christmas good while after
freedom--a couple or three years. Two men come there deer hunting every
year. One time he had beat me before them and on their way home they
went to the Freemens bureau and told how he beat me and what he done it
for--biggetness. He was a biggity acting and braggy talking old man.
When he got to town they asked him if he wasn't hiding a little Negro
girl, ask if he sent me to school. He come home. I slept on a bed made
down at the foot of their bed. That night he told his wife what all he
said and what all they ask him. He said he would kill whoever come there
bothering about me. He been telling that about. He told Miss Betty they
would fix me up and let me go stay a week at my sister's Christmas. He
went back to town, bought me the first shoes I had had since they took
me. They was brogan shoes. They put a pair of his sock on me. Miss Betty
made the calico dress for me and made a body out of some of his pants
legs and quilted the skirt part, bound it at the bottom with red
flannel. She made my things nice--put my underskirt in a little frame
and quilted it so it would be warm. Christmas day was a bright warm day.
In the morning when Miss Betty dressed me up I was so proud. He started
me off and told me how to go.
"I got to the big creek. I got down in the ditch--couldn't get across. I
was running up and down it looking for a place to cross. A big old mill
was upon the hill. I could see it. I seen three men coming, a white man
with a gun and two Negro men on horses or mules. I heard one say,
'Yonder she is.' Another said, 'It don't look like her.' One said, 'Call
her.' One said, 'Margaret.' I answered. They come to me and said, 'Go to
the mill and cross on a foot log.' I went up there and crossed and got
upon a stump behind my brother-in-law on his horse. I didn't know him.
The white man was the man he was share croppin' with. They all lived in
a big yard like close together. I hadn't seen my sister before in about
four years. Mr. Cargo told me if I wasn't back at his house New Years
day he would come after me on his horse and run me every step of the way
home. It was nearly twenty-five miles. He said he would give me the
worst whooping I ever got in my life. I was going back, scared not to be
back. Had no other place to live.
"When New Year day come the white man locked me up in a room in his
house and I stayed in there two days. They brought me plenty to eat. I
slept in there with their children. Mr. Cargo never come after me till
March. He didn't see me when he come. It started in raining and cold and
the roads was bad. When he come in March I seen him. I knowed him. I lay
down and covered up in leaves. They was deep. I had been in the woods
getting sweet-gum when I seen him. He scared me. He never seen me. This
white man bound me to his wife's friend for a year to keep Mr. Cargo
from getting me back. The woman at the house and Mr. Cargo had war
nearly about me. I missed my whoopings. I never got none that whole
year. It was Mrs. Brown, twenty miles from Dardanelle, they bound me
over to. I never got no more than the common run of Negro children but
they wasn't mean to me.
"When I was at Cargo's, he wouldn't buy me shoes. Miss Betty would have
but in them days the man was head of his house. Miss Betty made me
moccasins to wear out in the snow--made them out of old rags and pieces
of his pants. I had risings on my feet and my feet frostbite till they
was solid sores. He would take his knife and stob my risings to see the
matter pop way out. The ice cut my feet. He cut my foot on the side with
a cowhide nearly to the bone. Miss Betty catch him outer sight would
doctor my feet. Seem like she was scared of him. He wasn't none too good
"He told his wife the Freemens Bureau said turn that Negro girl loose.
She didn't want me to leave her. He despised nasty Negroes he said. One
of them fellows what come for me had been to Cargo's and seen me. He was
the Negro man come to show Patsy's husband and his share cropper where I
was at. He whooped me twice before them deer hunters. They visited him
every spring and fall hunting deer but they reported him to the Freemens
Bureau. They knowed he was showing off. He overtook me on a horse one
day four or five years after I left there. I was on my way from school.
I was grown. He wanted me to come back live with them. Said Miss Betty
wanted to see me so bad. I was so scared I lied to him and said yes to
all he said. He wanted to come get me a certain day. I lied about where
I lived. He went to the wrong place to get me I heard. I was afraid to
meet him on the road. He died at Dardanelle before I come way from
"After I got grown I hired out cooking at $1.25 a week and then $1.50 a
week. When I was a girl I ploughed some. I worked in the field a mighty
little but I have done a mountain of washing and ironing in my life. I
can't tell you to save my life what a hard time I had when I was growing
up. My daughter is a blessing to me. She is so good to me.
"I never knowed nor seen the Ku Klux. The Bushwhackers was awful after
the war. They went about stealing and they wouldn't work.
"Conditions is far better for young folks now than when I come on. They
can get chances I couldn't get they could do. My daughter is tied down
here with me. She could do washings and ironings if she could get them
and do it here at home. I think she got one give over to her for awhile.
The regular wash woman is sick. It is hard for me to get a living since
I been sick. I get commodities. But the diet I am on it is hard to get
it. The money is the trouble. I had two strokes and I been sick with
high blood pressure three years. We own our house. Times is all right if
I was able to work and enjoy things. I don't get the Old Age Pension. I
reckon because my daughter's husband has a job--I reckon that is it. I
can't hardly buy milk, that is the main thing. The doctor told me to eat
"I never voted."
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Calvin West, Widener, Arkansas
"Mother belong to Parson Renfro. He had a son named Jim Renfro. She was
a cook and farm hand too. I never heard her speak much of her owners.
Pa's owner was Dr. West and Miss Jensie West. He had a son Orz West and
his daughter was Miss Lillie West. I never was around their owners. Some
was dead before I come on. My pa was a cripple man. His leg was drawn
around with rheumatism. During slavery he would load up a small cart wid
cider and ginger cakes and go sell it out. He sold ginger cakes two for
a nickel and I never heard how he sold the cider. I heard him tell close
speriences he had with the patrollers. Some of the landowners didn't
want him trespassing on their places. He got a part of the money he sold
out for. I judge from what he said his owner got part for the wagon and
horse. He sold some at stores before freedom. He farmed too. His name
was Phillip West and mother's name was Lear West. He was a crack hand at
making ginger cakes. He sold wagon loads in town on Saturday till he
died. I was a boy nearly grown. They had ten children in all. I was born
in Tate County, Mississippi.
"Mr. Miller had land here. I didn't work for him but he wanted me to
come here and work his land. He give us tickets. He said this was new
land and we could do better. We work a lot and make big crops and don't
hardly get a living out of it. We come on the train here.
"We come in 1920. The way we got down here now it is bad. We make big
crops and don't get much for it. We have no place to raise things to
help out and pay big prices for everything. I work. But times is hard.
That is the very reason it is hard. We got no place to raise nothing.
(Hard road and ditch in front and cotton field all around it except a
few feet of padded dirt and a wood pile.) Times is good and if a fellow
could ever get a little ahead I believe he could stay ahead. Since my
wife been sick we jes' can make it.
"We never called for no help. She cooked and I worked. She signed up but
it will be a long time, they said, till they could get to her."
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Mary Mays West, Widener, Arkansas
"My parents' names was Josie Vesey and Henry Mays. They had ten children
and five lived to be full grown. I was born in Tate County, Mississippi.
Mother died in childbirth when she was twenty-eight years old. I'm the
mother of twelve and got five living. I been cooking out for white
people since I was nine years old. I am a good cook they all tell me and
I tries to be clean with my cooking.
"Mother died before I can remember much about her. My father said he had
to work before day and all day and till after night in the spring and
fall of the year. They ploughed with oxen and mules and horses all. He
said how they would rest the teams and feed and still they would go on
doing something else. They tromped cotton at night by torchlight.
Tromped it in the wagons to get off to the gin early next morning.
"In the winter they built fences and houses and got up wood and cleared
new ground. They made pots of lye hominy and lye soap the same day. They
had a ashhopper set all time. In the summer is when they ditched if they
had any of that to do. Farming has been pretty much the same since I was
a child. I have worked in the field all my life. I cook in the morning
and go to the field all evening.
"We just had a hard time this winter. I had a stroke in October and had
to quit cooking. (Her eye is closed on her left side--ed.) I love farm
life. The flood last year got us behind too. We could do fine if I had
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Sylvester Wethington
Holly Grove, Arkansas
"I recollect seeing the Malish (Malitia) pass up and down the road. I
can tell you two things happened at our house. The Yankee soldiers come
took all the stock we had all down to young mistress' mule. They come
fer it. Young mistress got a gun, went out there, put her side saddle on
the mule and climbed up. They let her an' that mule both be. Nother
thing they had a wall built in betwix er room and let hams and all kinds
provisions swing down in thor. It went unnoticed. I recken it muster
been 3 ft. wide and long as the room. Had to go up in the loft from de
front porch. The front porch wasn't ceiled but a place sawed out so you
could get up in the loft. They used a ladder and went up there bout once
a week. They swung hams and meal, flour and beef. They swung sacks er
corn down in that place. That all the place where they could keep us a
thing in de world to eat. They come an' got bout all we had. Look like
starvation ceptin' what we had stored way."
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Joe Whitaker, Madison, Arkansas
Age: 70 plus
"I'm a blacksmith; my pa was a fine blacksmith. He was a blacksmith in
the old war (Civil War). He never got a pension. He said he loss his
sheep skin. His owners was George and Bill Whitaker. Mother always said
her owners was pretty good. I never heard my pa speak of them in that
way. They was both born in Tennessee. She was never sold. I was born in
Murray County, Tennessee too. My mother was named Fronie Whitaker and pa
Ike Whitaker. Mother had eleven children. My wife is a full-blood
Cherokee Indian. We have ten children and twenty-three grandchildren.
"I don't have a word to say against the times; they are close at
present. Nor a word to say about the next generation. I think times is
progressing and I think the people are advancing some too."
[TR: The following is typed, but scratched out by hand:]
Some say his wife is a small part African.
Interviewer: Beulah Sherwood Hagg
Person interviewed: Mrs. Julia A. White, 3003 Cross St.,
Little Rock, Ark.
Idiom and dialect are lacking in this recorded interview. Mrs. White's
conversation was entirely free from either. On being questioned about
this she explained that she was reared in a home where fairly correct
English was used.
My cousin Emanuel Armstead could read and write, and he kept the records
of our family. At one time he was a school director. Of course, that was
back in the early days, soon after the war closed.
My father was named James Page Jackson because he was born on the old
Jackson plantation in Lancaster county, Virginia. He named one of his
daughters Lancaster for a middle name in memory of his old home. Clarice
Lancaster Jackson was her full name. A man named Galloway bought my
father and brought him to Arkansas. Some called him by the name of
Galloway, but my father always had all his children keep the name
Jackson. There were fourteen of us, but only ten lived to grow up. He
belonged to Mr. Galloway at the time of my birth, but even at that, I
did not take the name Galloway as it would seem like I should. My father
was a good carpenter; he was a fine cook, too; learned that back in
Virginia. I'll tell you something interesting. The first cook stove ever
brought to this town was one my father had his master to bring. He was
cook at the Anthony House. You know about that, don't you? It was the
first real fine hotel in Little Rock. When father went there to be head
cook, all they had to cook on was big fireplaces and the big old Dutch
ovens. Father just kept on telling about the stoves they had in
Virginia, and at last they sent and got him one; it had to come by boat
and took a long time. My father was proud that he was the one who set
the first table ever spread in the Anthony House.
You see, it was different with us, from lots of slave folks. Some
masters hired their slaves out. I remember a drug store on the corner of
Main and Markham; it was McAlmont's drug store. Once my father worked
there; the money he earned, it went to Mr. Galloway, of course. He said
it was to pay board for mother and us little children.
My mother came from a fine family,--the Beebe family. Angeline Beebe was
her name. You've heard of the Beebe family, of course. Roswell Beebe at
one time owned all the land that Little Rock now sets on. I was born in
a log cabin where Fifth and Spring streets meet. The Jewish Synagogue is
on the exact spot. Once we lived at Third and Cumberland, across from
that old hundred-year-old-building where they say the legislature once
met. What you call it? Yes, that's it; the Hinterlider building. It was
there then, too. My father and mother had the kind of wedding they had
for slaves, I guess. Yes, ma'am, they did call them "broom-stick
weddings". I've heard tell of them. Yes, ma'am, the master and mistress,
when they find a couple of young slave folks want to get married, they
call them before themselves and have them confess they want to marry.
Then they hold the broom, one at each end, and the young folks told to
jump over. Sometimes they have a new cabin fixed all for them to start
in. After Peace, a minister came and married my father and mother
according to the law of the church and of the land.
The master's family was thoughtful in keeping our records in their own
big family Bible. All the births and deaths of the children in my
father's family was in their Bible. After Peace, father got a big Bible
for our family, and--wait, I'll show you.... Here they are, all copied
down just like out of old master's Bible.... Here's where my father and
mother died, over on this page. Right here's my own children. This space
is for me and my husband.
No ma'am, it don't make me tired to talk. But I need a little time to
recall all the things you want to know 'bout. I was so little when
freedom came I just can't remember. I'll tell you, directly.
I remember that the first thing my father did was to go down to a
plantation where the bigger children was working, and bring them all
home, to live together as one family. That was a plantation where my
mother had been; a man name Moore--James Moore--owned it. I don't know
whether he had bought my mother from Beebe or not. I can remember two
things plain what happened there. I was little, but can still see them.
One of my mother's babies died and Master went to Little Rock on a horse
and carried back a little coffin under his arm. The mistress had brought
mother a big washing. She was working under the cover of the wellhouse
and tears was running down her face. When master came back, he said:
"How come you are working today, Angeline, when your baby is dead?" She
showed him the big pile of clothes she had to wash, as mistress said. He
said: "There is plenty of help on this place what can wash. You come on
in and sit by your little baby, and don't do no more work till after the
funeral." He took up the little dead body and laid it in the coffin with
his own hands. I'm telling you this for what happened later on.
A long time after peace, one evening mother heard a tapping at the door.
When she went, there was her old master, James Moore. "Angeline," he
said, "you remember me, don't you?" Course she did. Then he told her he
was hungry and homeless. A man hiding out. The Yankees had taken
everything he had. Mother took him in and fed him for two or three days
till he was rested. The other thing clear to my memory is when my uncle
Tom was sold. Another day when mother was washing at the wellhouse and I
was playing around, two white men came with a big, broad-shouldered
colored man between them. Mother put her arms around him and cried and
kissed him goodbye. A long time after, I was watching one of my brothers
walk down a path. I told mother that his shoulders and body look like
that man she kissed and cried over. "Why honey," she says to me, "can
you remember that?" Then she told me about my uncle Tom being sold away.
So you see, Miss, it's a good thing you are more interested in what I
know since slave days. I'll go on now.
The first thing after freedom my mother kept boarders and done fine
laundry work. She boarded officers of the colored Union soldiers; she
washed for the officers' families at the Arsenal. Sometimes they come
and ask her to cook them something special good to eat. Both my father
and mother were fine cooks. That's when we lived at Third and
Cumberland. I stayed home till I was sixteen and helped with the cooking
and washing and ironing. I never worked in a cottonfield. The boys did.
All us girls were reared about the house. We were trained to be lady's
maids and houseworkers. I married when I was sixteen. That husband died
four years later, and the next year I married this man, Joel Randolph
White. Married him in March, 1879. In those days you could put a house
on leased ground. Could lease it for five years at a time. My father put
up a house on Tenth and Scott. Old man Haynie owned the land and let us
live in the house for $25.00 a year until father's money was all gone;
then we had to move out. The first home my father really owned was at
1220 Spring street, what is now. Course then, it was away out in the
country. A white lawyer from the north--B.F. Rice was his name--got my
brother Jimmie to work in his office. Jimmie had been in school most all
his life and was right educated for colored boy then. Mr. Rice finally
asked him how would he like to study law. So he did; but all the time he
wanted to be a preacher. Mr. Rice tell Jimmie to go on studying law. It
is a good education; it would help him to be a preacher. Mr. Rice tell
my father he can own his own home by law. So he make out the papers and
take care of everything so some persons can't take it away. All that
time my family was working for Mr. Rice and finally got the home paid
for, all but the last payment, and Mr. Rice said Jimmie's services was
worth that. So we had a nice home all paid for at last. We lived there
till father died in 1879, and about ten years more. Then sold it.
My father had more money than many ex-slaves because he did what the
Union soldiers told him. They used to give him "greenbacks" money and
tell him to take good care of it. You see, miss, Union money was not any
good here. Everything was Confederate money. You couldn't pay for a
dime's worth even with a five dollar bill of Union money then. The
soldiers just keep on telling my father to take all the greenbacks he
could get and hide away. There wasn't any need to hide it, nobody wanted
it. Soldiers said just wait; someday the Confederate money wouldn't be
any good and greenbacks would be all the money we had. So that's how my
father got his money.
If you have time to listen, miss, I'd like to tell you about a wonderful
thing a young doctor done for my folks. It was when the gun powder
explosion wrecked my brother and sister. The soldiers at the Arsenal
used to get powder in tins called canteens. When there was a little
left--a tablespoon full or such like, they would give it to the little
boys and show them how to pour it in the palm of their hand, touch a
match to it and then blow. The burning powder would fly off their hand
without burning. We were living in a double house at Eighth and Main
then; another colored family in one side. They had lots of children,
just like us. One canteen had a lot more powder in. My brother was
afraid to pour it on his hand. He put a paper down on top of the stove
and poured it out. It was a big explosion. My little sister was standing
beside her brother and her scalp was plum blowed off and her face burnt
terribly. His hand was all gone, and his face and neck and head burnt
terribly, too. There was a young doctor live close by name Deuell.
Father ran for him. He tell my mother if she will do just exactly what
he say, their faces will come out fine. He told her to make up bread
dough real sort of stiff. He made a mask of it. Cut holes for their
eyes, nose holes and mouths, so you could feed them, you see. He told
mother to leave that on till it got hard as a rock. Then still leave it
on till it crack and come off by itself. Nobody what ever saw their
faces would believe how bad they had been burnt. Only 'round the edges
where the dough didn't cover was there any scars. Dr. Deuell only
charged my father $50.00 apiece for that grand work on my sister and
_Yes ma'am_, I'll tell you how I come to speak what you call good
English. First place, my mother and father was brought up in families
where they heard good speech. Slaves what lived in the family didn't
talk like cottonfield hands. My parents sure did believe in education.
The first free schools in Little Rock were opened by the Union for
colored children. They brought young white ladies for teachers. They had
Sunday School in the churches on Sunday. In a few years they had colored
teachers come. One is still living here in Little Rock. I wish you would
go see her. She is 90 years old now. She founded the Wesley Chapel here.
On her fiftieth anniversary my club presented her a gold medal and had
"Mother Wesley" engraved on it. Her name is Charlotte E. Stevens. She
has the first school report ever put out in Little Rock. It was in the
class of 1869. Two of my sisters were graduated from Philander Smith
College here in Little Rock and had post graduate work in Fisk
University in Nashville, Tennessee. My brothers and sisters all did well
in life. Allene married a minister and did missionary work. Cornelia was
a teacher in Dallas, Texas. Mary was a caterer in Hot Springs. Clarice
went to Colorado Springs, Colorado and was a nurse in a doctor's office.
Jimmie was the preacher, as I told you. Gus learned the drug business
and Willie got to be a painter. Our adopted sister, Molly, could do
anything, nurse, teach, manage a hotel. Yes, our parents always insisted
we had to go to school. It's been a help to me all my life. I'm the only
one now living of all my brothers and sisters.
Well ma'am, about how we lived all since freedom; it's been good till
these last years. After I married my present husband in 1879, he worked
in the Missouri Pacific railroad shops. He was boiler maker's helper.
They called it Iron Mountain shops then, though. 52 years, 6 months and
24 days he worked there. In 1922, on big strike, all men got laid off.
When they went back, they had to go as new men. Don't you see what that
done to my man? He was all ready for his pension. Yes ma'am, had worked
his full time to be pensioned by the railroad. But we have never been
able to get any retirement pension. He should have it. Urban League is
trying to help him get it. He is out on account of disability and old
age. He got his eye hurt pretty bad and had to be in the railroad
hospital a long time. I have the doctor's papers on that. Then he had a
bad fall what put him again in the hospital. That was in 1931. He has
never really been discharged, but just can't get any compensation. He
has put in his claim to the Railroad Retirement office in Washington.
I'm hoping they get to it before he dies. We're both mighty old and
feeble. He had a stroke in 1933, since he been off the railroad.
How we living now? It's mighty poorly, please believe that. In his good
years we bought this little home, but taxes so high, road assessments
and all make it more than we can keep up. My granddaughter lives with
us. She teaches, but only has school about half a year. I was trying to
educate her in the University of Wisconsin, but poor child had to quit.
In summer we try to make a garden. Some of the neighbors take in washing
and they give me ironing to do. Friends bring in fresh bread when they
bake. It takes all my granddaughter makes to keep up the mortgage and
pay all the rest. She don't have clothes decent to go.
I have about sold the last of the antiques. In old days the mistress
used to give my mother the dishes left from broken sets, odd vases and
such. I had some beautiful things, but one by one have sold them to
antique dealers to get something to help out with. My church gives me a
donation every fifth Sunday of a collection for benefit. Sometimes it is
as much as $2.50 and that sure helps on the groceries. Today I bought
four cents worth of beans and one cent worth of onions. I say you have
to cut the garment according to the cloth. You ain't even living from
hand to mouth, if the hand don't have something in it to put to the
No ma'am, we couldn't get on relief, account of this child teaching. One
relief worker did come to see us. She was a case worker, she said. She
took down all I told her about our needs and was about ready to go when
she saw my seven hens in the yard. "Whose chickens out there?" she
asked. "I keep a few hens," I told her. "Well," she hollered, "anybody
that's able to keep chickens don't need to be on relief roll," and she
gathered up her gloves and bag and left.
Yes ma'am, I filed for old age pension, too. It was in April, 1935 I
filed. When a year passed without hearing, I took my husband down so
they could see just how he is not able to work. They told me not to
bring him any more. Said I would get $10.00 a month. Two years went, and
I never got any. I went by myself then, and they said yes, yes, they
have my name on file, but there is no money to pay. There must be
millions comes in for sales tax. I don't know where it all goes. Of
course the white folks get first consideration. Colored folks always has
to bear the brunt. They just do, and that's all there is to it.
What do I think of the younger generation? I wouldn't speak for all.
There are many types, just like older people. It has always been like
that, though. If all young folks were like my granddaughter--I guess
there is many, too. She does all the sewing, and gardening. She paints
the house, makes the draperies and bed clothing. She can cook and do all
our laundry work. She understands raising chickens for market but just
don't have time for that. She is honest and clean in her life.
Yes ma'am, I did vote once, a long time ago. You see, I wasn't old
enough at first, after freedom, when all the colored people could vote.
Then, for many years, women in Arkansas couldn't vote, anyhow. I can
remember when M.W. Gibbs was Police Judge and Asa Richards was a colored
alderman. No ma'am! The voting law is not fair. It's most unfair! We
colored folks have to pay just the same as the white. We pay our sales
tax, street improvement, school tax, property tax, personal property
tax, dog license, automobile license--they what have cars--; we pay
utility tax. And we should be allowed to vote. I can tell you about
three years ago a white lady come down here with her car on election day
and ask my old husband would he vote how she told him if she carried him
to the polls. He said yes and she carried him. When he got there they
told him no colored was allowed to vote in that election. Poor old man,
she didn't offer to get him home, but left him to stumble along best he
I'm glad if I been able to give you some help. You've been patient with
an old woman. I can tell you that every word I have told you is true as
Circumstances of Interview
NAME OF WORKER--Samuel S. Taylor
ADDRESS--Little Rock, Arkansas
[TR: Repetitive information deleted from subsequent pages.]
1. Name and address of informant--Julia White, 3003 Cross Street, Little
2. Date and time of interview--
3. Place of interview--3003 Cross Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
4. Name and address of person, if any, who put you in touch with
5. Name and address of person, if any, accompanying you--
6. Description of room, house, surroundings, etc.--
Personal History of informant
2. Place and date of birth--Little Rock, Arkansas, 1858
3. Family--Two children
4. Places lived in, with dates--Little Rock all her life.
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--She tells of accomplishments made
by the Negro race.
Text of Interview (Unedited)
"I was born right here in Little Rock, Arkansas, eighty years ago on the
corner of Fifth and Broadway. It was in a little log house. That used to
be out in the woods. At least, that is where they told me I was born. I
was there but I don't remember it. The first place I remember was a
house on Third and Cumberland, the southwest corner. That was before the
"We were living there when peace was declared. You know, my father hired
my mother's time from James Moore. He used to belong to Dick Galloway. I
don't know how that was. But I know he put my mother in that house on
Third and Cumberland while she was still a slave. And we smaller
children stayed in the house with mother, and the larger children worked
on James Moore's plantation.
"My father was at that time, I guess, you would call it, a porter at
McAlmont's drug store. He was a slave at that time but he worked there.
He was working there the day this place was taken. I'll never forget
that. It was on September 10th. We were going across Third Street, and
there was a Union woman told mamma to bring us over there, because the
soldiers were about to attack the town and they were going to have a
"I had on a pair of these brogans with brass plates on them, and they
were flapping open and I tripped up just as the rebel soldiers were
running by. One of them said, "There's a like yeller nigger, les take
her." Mrs. Farmer, the Union woman ran out and said, "No you won't;
that's my nigger." And she took us in her house. And we stayed there
while there was danger. Then my father came back from the drug store,
she said she didn't see how he kept from being killed.
"At that time, there were about four houses to the block. On the place
where we lived there was the big house, with many rooms, and then there
was the barn and a lot of other buildings. My father rented that place
and turned the outbuildings into little houses and allowed the freed
slaves to live in them till they could find another place.
"My husband was an orphan child, and the people he was living with were
George Phelps and Ann Phelps. They were freed slaves. That was after the
war. They came here and had this little boy with them, that is how I
come to meet that gentlemen over there and get acquainted with him. When
they moved away from there Phelps was caretaker of the Oakland Cemetery.
We married on the twenty-seventh day of March, 1879. I still have the
marriage license. I married twice; my first husband was George W. Glenn
and my maiden name was Jackson. I married the first time June 10, 1875.
I had two children in my first marriage. Both of than are dead. Glenn
died shortly after the birth of the last child, February 15, 1878.
"Mr. White is a mighty good man. He is put up with me all these years.
And he took mighty good care of my children, them by my first husband as
well as his own. When I was a little girl, he used to tell me that he
wouldn't have me for a wife. After we were married, I used to say to
him, 'You said you wouldn't have me, but I see you're mighty glad to get
"I have the marriage license for my second marriage.
"There's quite a few of the old ones left. Have you seen Mrs. Gillam,
and Mrs. Stephen, and Mrs. Weathers? Cora Weathers? Her name is Cora not
Clora. She's about ninety years old. She's at least ninety years old.
You say she says that she is seventy-four. That must be her insurance
age. I guess she is seventy-four at that; she had to be seventy-four
before she was ninety. When I was a girl, she was a grown woman. She was
married when my husband went to school. That has been more than sixty
years ago, because we've been married nearly sixty years. My sister Mary
was ten years older than me, and Cora Weathers was right along with her.
She knew my mother. When these people knew my mother they've been here,
because she's been dead since '94 and she would have been 110 if she had
"My mother used to feed the white prisoners--the Federal soldiers who
were being held. They paid her and told her to keep the money because it
was Union Money. You know at that time they were using Confederate
money. My father kept it. He had a little box or chest of gold and
silver money. Whenever he got any paper money, he would change it into
gold or silver.
"Mother used to make these ginger cakes--they call 'em stage planks. My
brother Jimmie would sell them. The men used to take pleasure in trying
to cheat him. He was so clever they couldn't. They never did catch him
"Somebody burnt our house; it was on a Sunday evening. They tried to say
it caught from the chimney. We all like to uv burnt up.
"My father was a carpenter, whitewasher, anything. He was a common
laborer. We didn't have contractors then like we do now. Mother worked
out in service too. Jimmie was the oldest boy. He taught school too.
"My father set the first table that was ever set in the Anthony Hotel,
he was the cause of the first stove being brought here to cook on.
"Some of the children of the people that raised my mother are still
living. They are Beebes. Roswell Beebe was a little one. They had a
colored man named Peter and he was teaching Roswell to ride and the pony
ran away. Peter stepped out to stop him and Roswell said, 'Git out of
the way Peter, and let Billie Button come'.
"I get some commodities from the welfare. But I don't get nothing like a
pension. My husband worked at the Missouri Pacific shops for fifty-two
years, and he don't git nothing neither. It was the Iron Mountain when
he first went there on June 8, 1879. He was disabled in 1932 because of
injuries received on the job in March, 1931. But they hurried him out of
the hospital and never would give him anything. That Monday morning,
they had had a loving cup given them for not having had accidents in the
plant. And at three p.m., he was sent into the hospital. He had a fall
that injured his head. They only kept him there for two days and two
hours. He was hurt in the head. Dr. Elkins himself came after him and
let him set around in the tool room. He stayed there till he couldn't do
nothing at all.
"In 1881, he got his eye hurt on the job in the service of the Missouri
Pacific. It was the Iron Mountain then. He was off about three or four
months. They didn't pay his wages while he was off. They told him they
would give him a lifetime job, but they didn't. His eye gave him trouble
for the balance of his life. Sometimes it is worse than others. He had
to go to the St. Louis Hospital quite often for about three or four
"When the house on Third and Cumberland was burnt, he rebuilded it, and
the owners charged him such rent he had to move. He rebuilt it for five
hundred dollars and was to get pay in rent. The owners jumped the rent
up to twenty-five dollars a month. That way it soon took up the five
hundred dollars. Then we moved to Eighth and Main. My brother Jimmie was
in an accident there.
"He was pouring powder on a fire from an old powder horn and the flames
jumped up in the horn and exploded and crippled his hand and burnt his
face. Dr. Duel, a right young doctor, said he could cure them if father
would pay him fifty dollars a piece. My sister was burnt at the same
time as my brother. He had them make a thin dough, and put it over their
faces and he cut pieces out for their eyes, and nose, and mouth. They
left that dough on their faces and chest till the dough got hard and
peeled off by itself. It left the white skin. Gradually the face got
back to itself and took its right color again, so you couldn't tell they
had ever been burnt. The only medicine the doctor gave them was Epsom
salts. Fifty dollars for each child. I used that remedy on a school boy
once and cured him, but I didn't charge him nothing.
"I have a program which was given in 1874. They don't give programs like
that now. People wouldn't listen that long. We each of us had two and
three, and some of us had six and seven parts to learn. We learnt them
and recited them and came back the next night to give a Christmas Eve
program. You can make a copy of it if you want.
"A.C. Richmond is Mrs. Childress' brother. Anna George is Bee Daniels'
mother (Bee Daniels is Mrs. Anthony, a colored public school teacher
here). Corinne Jordan is living on Gaines between Eighth and Ninth
streets. She is about seventy-five years old now. She was about Mollie's
age and I was about five years older than Molly. Mary Riley is C.C.
Riley's sister. C.C. Riley is Haven Riley's father. C.C. is dead now.
Haven Riley was a teacher, at Philander Smith, for a while. He's a
stenographer now. August Jackson and J.W. Jackson are my brothers. W.O.
Emory became one of our pastors at Wesley. John Bush, everybody's heard
of him. He had the Mosaic temple and got a big fortune together before
he died, but his children lost it all. Annie Richmond is Annie
Childress, the wife of Professor E.C. Childress, the State Supervisor.
Corinne Winfrey turned out to be John Bush's wife. Willie Lane married
W.O. Emery. Scipio Jordan became the big man in the Tabernacle. H.H.
Gilkey went to the post office. He married Lizzie Hull. She's living
The marriage license which Mrs. White showed me, was issued March 27,
1879, by A.W. Worthen, County Clerk, per W.H.W. Booker to Julia Glen and
J.R. White. It carries the name of Reverend W.H. Crawford who was the
Pastor of Wesley Chapel Church at that time. The license was issued in
GRAND ENTERTAINMENT AT WESLEY CHAPEL
Wednesday Evening, Dec'r. 23, 1874
* * * * *
Address by the General Manager Mr. A.C. Richmond
Song--We Come Today By the School
Prayer Rev. William Henry Crawford
Declamation--My Mother's Bible Miss Annie George
Dialogue--Three Little Graves Miss M. Upshaw and
Miss M.A. Scruggs
Dialogue--About Heaven Miss Julia Jackson and
Miss Alice Richardson
Declamation--Mud Pie Miss Amelia Rose
Declamation--Ducklins and Miss Goren Jordan
Dialogue--The Beggar Mr. H.H. Gilkey and
Mr. W.A.M. Cypers
Declamation--Work While Master Albert Pryor
Dialogue--The Miser Mr. C.C. Riley and
Mr. Charles Hurtt, Jr.
Declamation--Pretty Pictures Miss Cally Sanders
Declamation--Into the Sunshine Miss Mollie Jackson
Song--Joy Bells By the School
Dialogue--Sharp Shooting Master Asa Richmond,
and Miss Laura A. Morgan
Declamation--What I Know Master Morton Hurtt
Declamation--The Side to Look On Miss Dora Frierson
Dialogue--The Tattler Miss Mary Alexander,
Miss M.A. Scrugg,
Miss Mary Rose
Declamation--Little Clara Miss Rebecca Ferguson
Dialogue--John Williams' Choice Scipio Jordan, H.H. Gilkey
and Julia Jackson
Declamation--A Good Rule
Miss Lilly Pryor
Declamation--Complaint of the Poor
L.H. Haney, Jackson Crawford
and John Richmond
Miss Willie Lane, A.C. Richmond,
Rafe May, and Master A. Pryon
Dialogue--Father, Dear Father;
or The Fruits of Drunkenness
John E. Bush, W.A.M. Cypers,
Wm. Emery, Miss Coren Winfrey,
Miss Maggie Green, and others.
Miss Mollie Pryor and
Miss Annie Richmond
Dialogue--Betsy and I are out
Alex. Scruggs and W.A.M. Cypers
Declamation--Lily of the Valley
Miss Mary Foster
C.C. Riley, A.C. Richmond,
Cypers and Haney
Declamation--The Little Shooter
Master August Jackson
Miss Julia Jackson, and August Jackson
Declamation--Bird and the Baby
Miss Julia Foster
Dialogue--Scenes in the Police Court
Richmond, Bush, and Emery
Ballad--Yankee Doodle Dandy
Dialogue--Colloquy in Church
Alice Richardson and Mollie
Miss Alice Moore
Miss Willie Lane, M.A. Scruggs,
Mary Alexander, Mr. C.C. Riley
Morton Hurtt and Scipio Jordan
Declamation--Truth in Parenthesis
Dialogue--Forty Years Ago Ales, Scruggs, and J.P. Winfrey
Declamation--The Last Footfall Lizzie Hull
Declamation--Gone with a John E. Bush, Miss Maggie Green,
Handsomer Man than Me and H.G. Clay
Declamation--Golden Side Annie Richmond
Declamation--The Union was Swan Jeffries
saved by the Colored
Dialogue--Relief Aid Saving Maggie Scruggs, Mary Ross,
Society Lizzie Hull, Alice Moore,
Mary Alexander, Mollie Pryor,
Annie Fairchild, Lizzie Wind,
Julia Jackson, J.E. Bush,
Song-Dutch Band A.C. Richardson, Wm. Emery,
J.H. Haney, W.A.M. Cypers,
J.O. Alexander, J.E. Bush,
Declamation--Number One Alice Richardson
Declamation--What to Wear, and Miss Coren Winfrey
How to Wear It
Dialogue--A Desirable J.E. Bush, J.W. Jackson,
Dialogue-The Little Bill Marion Henderson, J.E. Bush,
Miss Willie Lane, Miss Laura A.
Morgan, Asa Richmond, Jr.
Dialogue--Country Aunt's Visit Henry Jackson, Misses Allice and
Julia Crawford, Maggie Howell,
Dialogue--Beauty and the Beast Marion Henderson, Julia Jackson,
(six Scenes) Laura Morgan, Mary Scruggs,
Mary Ross, Coren Winfrey,
Willie Lane, Lizzie Wind,
Alice Crawford, J.E. Bush,
Dialogue--How not to Get M.A. Scruggs and Mary Alexander
Declamation--The Incidents of John Richmond
* * * * *
This program was given on one night, and the participants doubled right
back the next night on another lengthy program celebrating Christmas Eve.
Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Julia White (Continued)
3003 Cross Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
"The Commissary was on the northeast corner of Third and Cumberland.
They used to call it the government commissary building. It took up a
whole half block. Mrs. Farmer, the white woman, was living in what you
call the old Henderliter Place, the building on the northwest corner,
during the War. She was a Union woman, and was the one that took us in
when the Confederate soldiers were passing and wanted to take us to
Texas with them.
"I was so small I didn't know much about things then. When peace was
declared a preacher named Hugh Brady, a white man, came here and he had
my mother and father to marry over again.
"Mrs. Stephens' father was one of the first school-teachers here for
colored people. There were a lot of white people who came here from the
North to teach. Peabody School used to be called the Union School. Mrs.
Stephens has the first report of the school dated 1869. It gives the
names of the directors and all. J.H. Benford was one of the Northern
teachers. Anna Ware and Louise Coffman and Miss Henley were teachers
"Mrs. Stephens is the oldest colored teacher in Little Rock. The A-B-C
children didn't want the old men to teach us. So they would teach
'Lottie'--she was only twelve years old then--and she would hear our
lessons. Then at recess time, we would all get out and play together.
She was my play mama. Her father, William Wallace Andrews, the first
pastor of Wesley Chapel M.E. Church, was the head teacher and Mr. Gray
was the other. They were teaching in Wesley Chapel Church. It was then
on Eighth and Broadway. This was before Benford's time. It was just
after peace had been declared. I don't know where Andrews come from nor
how much learning he had. Most of the people then got their learning
from white children. But I don't know where he got his.
"Wesley was his first church as far as I know. Before the War all the
churches were in with the white people. After freedom, they drew out.
Whether Wesley was his first church or not, he was Wesley's first
pastor. I got a history of the church."
"They had a real Sunday-school in those days. My sister when she was a
child about twelve years old said three hundred Bible verses at one time
and received a book as a prize. The book was named 'A Wonderful
Deliverance' and other Stories, printed by the American Tract Society,
New York, 150 Nassau Street. My sister's name was Mollie Jackson."
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Lucy White, Marianna, Arkansas
"I was born on Jim Banks' place close to Felton. His wife named Miss
Puss. Mama and all of young master's niggers was brought from
Mississippi. I reckon it was 'fore I was born. Old master name Mack
Banks. I never heard mama say but they was good to my daddy. They had a
great big place in Mississippi and a good big place over here.
"I recollect seeing the soldiers prance 'long the road. I thought they
looked mighty pretty. Their caps and brass buttons and canteens shining
in the sun. They rode the prettiest horses. One of 'em come in our house
one day. He told Miss Puss he was goiner steal me. She say, 'Don't take
her off.' He give me a bundle er bread and I run in the other room and
crawled under the bed 'way back in the corner. It was dark up under
there. I didn't eat the bread then but I et it after he left. It sure
was good. I didn't recollect much but seeing them pass the road. I like
to watch 'em. My parents was field folks. I worked in the field. I was
raised to work. I keep my clothes clean. I washed 'em. I cooked and
washed and ironed and done field work all. When I first recollect
Marianna, Mr. Lon Tau and Mr. Free Landing (?) had stores here. Dr.
Steven (Stephen?) and Dr. Nunnaly run a drug store here. There was a big
road here. Folks started building houses here and there. They called the
town Mary Ann fo' de longest time.
"Well, the white folks told 'am, 'You free.' My folks worked on fer
about twenty years. They'd give 'em a little sompin outer dat crap. They
worked all sorter ways--that's right--they sure did. They rented and
share cropped together I reckon after the War ended.
"The Ku Klux never bothered us. I heard 'bout 'em other places.
"I never voted and I never do 'sepect to now. What I know 'bout votin'?
"Well, I tell you, these young folks is cautions. They don't think so
but they is. Lazy, no'count, spends every cent they gits in their hands.
Some works, some work hard. They drink and carouse about all night
sometimes. No ma'am, I did not do no sich er way. I woulder been ashamed
of myself. I would. Times what done run away wid us all now. I don't
know what to look fer now but I know times changing all the time.
"I gets ten dollars and some little things to eat along. I say it do
help out. I got rheumatism and big stiff j'ints (enlarged wrist and
Interviewer: Bernice Bowden.
Person interviewed: David Whiteman (c)
Home: 104 N. Kansas Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
"How de do lady. Oh yes, I was a pretty good sized boy when the war
started. My old marster was sponsible Smith. My young marster was his
son-in-law. I member 'bout the Yankees and the "Revels". I member when a
great big troop of 'em went to war. Some of 'em was cryin' and some was
laughin'. I tried to get young marster to let me go with him, but he
wouldn't let me. Old marster was too old to go and his son dodged around
and didn't go either. I member he caught hisself a wild mustang and tied
hisself on it and rode off and they never did see him again.
"I know when they was fightin' we use to hear the balls when they was
goin' over. I used to pick up many a ball.
"I wish my recollection was with me like it used to be." (At this point
his wife spoke up and said "Seems like since he had the flu, his mind is
"Yes'm, I member the Ku Klux. They used to have the colored folks
dodgin' around tryin' to keep out of their way."
Interviewer: Bernice Bowden
Person Interviewed: Dolly Whiteside (c)
Home: 103 Oregon Street, Pine Bluff, Ark.
"I reckon I did live in slavery times--look at my hair.
"I been down sick--I been right low and they didn't speck me to live.
"Well, I'll tell you. I was old enough to know when they runned us to
Texas so the Yankees couldn't overtaken us. We was in Texas when freedom
come, I remember I was sittin on the fence when the soldiers in them
blue uniforms with gold buttons come. He said, "I come to tell you you
is free". I didn't know what it was all about but everybody was sayin'
"Thank God". I thought it was the judgment day and I was lookin' for
God. I said to myself, I'm goin' have some buttons like that some day.
"Colonel Williams was my marster. My mother was a nurse and took care of
the colored folks when they was sick. I remember when people wasn't
given nothin' but blue mass, calomel, castor oil and gruel, and every
body was healthier than they is now.
"I'm the only one livin' that my mother birthed in this world. I was
born here, but I been travelin', I been to Memphis and around.
"No mam, I don't remember nothin' else. I done tole you all I know."
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