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

Part 3 out of 6

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

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

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


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

How Freedom Came

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

Right After Freedom

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

Present Occupation and Opinions

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

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

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

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

Interviewer's Comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interviewer's Comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

A Mean Owner

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


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

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

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

"'You walk way down here by yourself?'

"I told her, 'yes'.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slave Money

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


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

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

Social Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Freedom Came

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

What the Slaves Got

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

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

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

Life Since Freedom

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

Ku Klux Klan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Work in Little Rock

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

Opinions of the Present

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

Own Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interviewer's Note

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"In eighteen hundred and sixty-four
Football (?) sez I;
In eighteen hundred and sixty-four
We'll all go home and fight no more
We'll all drink stone blind.
Johnny, come fill up the bowl.

"In eighteen hundred and sixty-five
Football (?) sez I;
In eighteen hundred and sixty-five
We'll have the Rebels dead or alive
We'll all drink stone blind,
Johnny, come fill up the bowl.

"In eighteen hundred and sixty-six
Football (?) sez I;
In eighteen hundred and sixty-six
We'll have the Rebels in a helava fix
We'll all drink stone blind,
Johnny, come fill up the bowl.

"In eighteen hundred and sixty-seven
Football (?) sez I;
In eighteen hundred and sixty-seven
We'll have the Rebels dead and at the devil
We'll all drink stone blind.
Johnny, came fill up the bowl."

Interviewer's Comment

The word "football" doesn't sound right in this song, but I was unable
to find it in print, and Sally seemed to think it was the right word.

Sally is a very wicked old woman and swears like a sailor, but she has a
remarkable memory.

She was "bred and born" in Rusk County, Texas and says she came to Pine
Bluff when it was "just a little pig."

Says she was sixteen when the Civil War began.

I have previously reported an interview with her.

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Wylie Nealy [HW: Biscoe Arkansas?]
Age: 85

I was born in 1852. I am 85 years old. I was born in Gordon County. The
closest town was Calhoun, South Carolina. My sister died in '59. That's
the first dead, person I ever saw. One of my sisters was give away and
another one was sold before the Civil War started. Sister Mariah was
give to the young mistress, Miss Ella Conley. I didn't see her sold. I
never seed nobody sold but I heard 'em talking about it. I had five
sisters and one brother. My father was a free man always. He was a
Choctaw Indian. Mother was part Cherokee Indian. My mother's mistress
was Mrs. Martha Christian. He died and she married Tom Nealy, the one
they call me fur, Wylie Nealy.

Liberty and Freedom was all I ever heard any colored folks say dey
expected to get out of de war, and mighty proud of dot. Nobody knowed
they was goin to have a war till it was done broke out and they was
fightin about it. Didn't nobody want land, they jess wanted freedom. I
remembers when Lincoln was made the President both times and when he was
killed. I recollects all that like yesterday.

The army had been through and swept out everything. There wasn't a
chicken or hog nowhere to be had, took the stock and cattle and all the
provisions. So de slaves jess had to scatter out and leave right now.
And after de army come through. I was goin back down to the old place
and some soldiers passed riding along and one said "Boy where you goin?
Said nothing up there." I says, "I knows it." Then he say "Come on here,
walk along back there" and I followed him. I was twelve years old. He
was Captain McClendenny. Then when I got to the camp wid him he say "You
help around here." I got sick and they let me go back home then to
Resacca, Georgia and my mother died. When I went back they sent me to
Chattanooga with Captain Story. I was in a colored regiment nine months,
I saw my father several times while I was at Chattanooga. We was in
Shermans army till it went past Atlanta. They burned up the city. Two of
my masters come out of the war alive and two dead. I was mustered out in
August 1865. I stayed in camp till my sisters found a cabin to move in.
Everybody got rations issued out. It was a hard time. I got hungry lots
times. No plantations was divided and the masters didn't have no more
than the slaves had when the war was done. After the Yankees come in and
ripped them up old missus left and Mr. Tom Nealy was a Home Guard. He
had a class of old men. Never went back or seen any more of them.
Everybody left and a heap of the colored folks went where rations could
be issued to them and some followed on in the armies. After I was
mustered out I stayed around the camps and went to my sister's cabin
till we left there. Made anything we could pick up. Men come in there
getting people to go work for them. Some folks went to Chicago. A heap
of the slaves went to the northern cities. Colonel Stocker, a officer in
the Yankee army, got us to come to a farm in Arkansas. We wanted to stay
together is why we all went on the farm. May 1866, when we come to
Arkansas is the first farmin I had seen done since I left Tom Nealy's
place. Colonel Stocker is mighty well known in St. Francis County. He
brought lots of families, brought me and my brother, my two brothers and
a nephew. We come on the train. It took four or five days. When we got
to Memphis we come to Linden on a boat "Molly Hamilton" they called it.
I heard it was sunk at Madison long time after that. Colonel Stocker
promised to pay $6 a month and feed us. When Christmas come he said all
I was due was $12.45. We made a good crop. That wasn't it. Been there
since May. Had to stay till got all the train and boat fare paid. There
wasn't no difference in that and slavery 'cept they couldn't sell us.

I heard a heap about the Ku Klux but I nebber seed them. Everybody was
scared of them.

The first votin I ever heard of was in Grant's election. Both black and
white voted. I voted Republican for Grant. Lot of the southern soldiers
was franchised and couldn't vote. Just the private soldiers could vote
at tall. I don't know why it was. I was a slave for thirteen years from
birth. Every slave could vote after freedom. Some colored folks held
office. I knew several magistrates and sheriffs. There was one at Helena
(Arkansas) and one at Marianna. He was a High Sheriff. I voted some
after that but I never voted in the last Presidento election. I heard
'em say it wasn't no use, this man would be elected anyhow. I sorter
quit off long time ago.

In 1874 and 1875 I worked for halves and made nough to buy a farm in St.
Francis County. It cost $925. I bought it in 1887. Eighty acres to be
cleared down in the bottoms. My family helped and when my help got
shallow, the children leaving me, I sold it for $2,000, in 1904. I was
married jess once and had eight children; five livin and three dead. Me
and the old woman went to Oklahoma. We went in January and come back to
Biscoe (Arkansas) in September. It wasn't no place for farming. I bought
40 acres from Mr. Aydelott and paid him $500. I sold it and come to Mr.
Joe Perry's place, paid $500 for 40 acres of timber land. We cleared it
and I got way in debt and lost it. Clear lost it! Ize been working
anywhere I could make a little since then. My wife died and I been doing
little jobs and stays about with my children. The Welfare gives me a
little check and some supplies now and then.

No maam, I can't read much. I was not learnt. I could figure a little
before my eyes got bad. The white folks did send their children to pay
schools but we colored children had to stay around the house and about
in the field to work. I never got no schoolin. I went with old missus to
camp meeting down in Georgia one time and got to go to white church
sometimes. At the camp meeting there was a big tent and all around it
there was brush harbors and tents where people stayed to attend the
meetins. They had four meetins a day. Lots of folk got converted and
shouted. They had a lot of singings They had a lots to eat and a big

I don't think much about these young folks now. It seems lack everybody
is having a hard time to live among us colored folks. Some white folks
has got a heap and fine cars to get about in. I don't know what go in to
become of 'em.

People did sing more than I hear them now but I never could sing. They
sing a lot of foolish songs and mostly religious songs.

I don't recollect of any slave uprising. I never heard of any. We didn't
know they was going to have a war till they was fighting. Yes maam, they
heard Lincoln was going to set 'em free, but they didn't know how he was
going to do it. Everybody wanted freedom. Mr. Hammond (white) ask me not
long ago if I didn't think it best to bring us from Africa and be slaves
than like wild animals in Africa. He said we was taught about God and
the Gospel over here if we was slaves. I told him I thought dot freedom
was de best anywhere.

We had a pretty hard time before freedom. My mother was a field woman.
When they didn't need her to work they hired her out and they got the
pay. The master mated the colored people. I got fed from the white folks
table whenever I curried the horses. I was sorter raised up with Mr.
Nealy's children. They didn't mistreat me. On Saturday the mistress
would blow a cone shell and they knowed to go and get the rations. We
got plenty to eat. They had chickens and ducks and geese and plenty
milk. They did have hogs. They had seven or eight guineas and a lot of
peafowls. I never heard a farm bell till I come to Arkansas. The
children et from pewter bowls or earthen ware. Sometimes they et greens
or milk from the same bowl, all jess dip in. The Yankees took me to
General Hood's army and I was Captain McCondennen's helper at the
camps.[HW: ?] We went down through Marietta and Atlanta and through
Kingston. Shells come over where we lived. I saw 'em fight all the time.
Saw the light and heard the roaring of de guns miles away. It looked
like a storm where the army went along. They tramped the wheat and oats
and cotton down and turned the horses in on the corn. The slaves show
did hate to see the Yankees waste everything. They promised a lot and
wasn't as good as the old masters. All dey wanted was to be waited on
too. The colored folks was freed when the Yankees took all the stock and
cattle and rations. Everybody had to leave and let the government issue
them rations. Everybody was proud to be free. They shouted and sung.
They all did pretty well till the war was about to end then they was
told to scatter and no whars to go. Cabins all tore down or burned. No
work to do. There was no money to pay. I wore old uniforms pretty well
till I come to Arkansas. I been here in Hazen since 1906. I come on a
boat from Memphis to Linden. Colonel Stocker brought a lot of us on the
train. The name of the boat was Molly Hamilton. It was a big boat and we
about filled it. I show was glad to get back on a farm.

I don't know what is goin to become of the young folks. Everything is so
different now and when I was growin up I don't know what will become of
the younger generation.

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Emaline Neland, Marianna, Arkansas
Age: Born 1859

"I was born two years before the War. I was born in Murray County,
Tennessee. It was middle Tennessee. When I come to remembrance I was in
Grant County, Arkansas. When I remember they raised wheat and corn and
tobacco. Mother's master was Dr. Harrison. His son was married and me
and my brother Anderson was give to him. He come to Arkansas 'fore ever
I could remember. He was a farmer but I never seen him hit a lick of
work in my life. He was good to me and my brother. She was good too. I
was the nurse. They had two children. Brother was a house boy. Me and
her girl was about the same size but I was the oldest. Being with the
other children I called her mother too. I didn't know no other mother
till freedom.

"Freedom! Well, here is the very way it all was: Old master told her
(mother) she was free. He say, 'Go get your children, you free as I is
now.' Ain't I heard her say it many a time? Well, mother come in a ox
wagon what belong to him and got us. They run me down, caught me and got
me in the wagon. They drove twenty-five miles. Old Dr. Harrison had
moved to Arkansas. Being with the other children I soon learnt to call
her ma. She had in all ten or eleven children. She was real dark.

"Pa was a slave too. He was a low man. He was a real bright man. He was
brighter than I is. He belong to a widow woman named Tedford. He renamed
his self after freedom. He took the name Brown 'stead of Tedford. I
never heard him say why he wasn't satisfied with his own name. He was a
soldier. He worked for the Yankees.

"After the War pa and ma got back together and lived together till she
died. There was five days' difference in their deaths. They died of
pneumonia. He was 64 years old and she was 54 years old. I was at home
when pa come from the War. All my sisters was light, one sister had
sandy hair like pa. She was real light. Ma was a good all 'round woman.
She cooked more than anything else. She nursed. Dr. Harrison told her to
stay till her husband come back or all the time if he didn't ever come
back. Ma never worked in the field. When pa come he moved us on a place
to share crop. Ma never worked in the field. He was buying a home in
Grant County. He started to Mississippi and stopped close to Helena and
ten or twelve miles from Marianna. He had a soldier friend wouldn't let
him go. He told him this was a better country. He decided to stay down
in here.

"I heard a whole heap about the Ku Klux. One time when a crowd was going
to church, we heard horse's feet coming; sound like they would run over
us. We all got clear out of reach so they wouldn't run over us. They had
on funny caps was all I could see, they went so fast. We give them the
clear road and they went on. That is all I ever seen of the Ku Klux.

"I seen Dr. Harrison's wife. She was a little old lady but we left after
I went there.

"I used to sew for the public. Yes, white and colored folks. I learnt my
own self to sew. I never had but one boy in my life. He died at seven
weeks old. I raised a stepson. I married twice. I married at home both
times. Just a quiet marriage and a colored preacher married me both

"The present conditions is hard. I want things and can't get 'em. If I
had the strength to hold out to work I could get along.

"The present generation--young white and black--blinds me. They turns
corners too fast. They going so fast they don't have time to take
advice. They promise to do better but they don't. They do like they want
to do and don't tell nobody till they done it. I say they just running
way with their selves.

"I get $8 and a little help along. I'm thankful for it. It is a blessing
I tell you."

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Henry Nelson
904 E. Fifth Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: About 70

"My name is Henry Nelson. I was born in Arkansas--Crittenden County near
Memphis, Tennessee. I was born not far from Memphis but on this side.

"My mother's name was Adeline Taylor. That was her old slavery folks'
name. She was a Taylor before she married my father--Nelson. My father's
first name was Green. I don't remember none of my grandparents. My
father's mother died before I come to remember and I know my mother's
mother died before I could remember.

"My father was born in Mississippi--Sardis, Mississippi--and my mother
was a Tennesseean--_Cartersville_[HW:?] Tennessee, twenty-five miles
above Memphis. [HW: Carter, in Carter County, about 35 m. north of
Memphis, but no Cartersville.] [TR: moved from bottom of following

"After peace was declared, they met in Tennessee. That was where my
mother was born, you know. They fell in love with one another in Shelby
County, and married there. My mother had been married once before during
slavery time. She had been made to marry by her master. Her first
husband was named Eli. He was my oldest sister's father. Him and my
mother had the same master and missis. She was made to marry him. She
was only thirteen years old when she married him. She was fine and stout
and her husband was fine and stout, and they wanted more from that
stock. I don't know how old he was but he was a lot older than she was.
He was a kind of an elderly man. She had just one child by him--my
oldest sister, Georgia. She was only married a short time before freedom

"My father farmed. He was always a farmer--raised cotton and corn. My
mother was a farmer too. Both of them--that is both of her
husbands--were farmers.

"My mother and father used to go off to places to dance and the
pateroles would get after them. You had to have a pass to go off your
place and if you didn't have a pass, they would make you warm. Some of
them would get caught sometimes and the pateroles would whip them. They
would sure got whipped if they didn't have a pass.

"The old master come out and told them they were free when peace was
declared. He said, 'You are free this morning--free as I am.'

"Right after the War, my mother come further down in Tennessee, and that
is how she met my father where she was when she was married. They went
farming. They farmed on shares--sharecropped. They were on a big place
called Ensley place. The man that owned the place was called Nuck

"My mother and father didn't have no schooling. I never heard that they
were bothered by the Ku Klux.

"She didn't live with her first husband after slavery. She left him when
she was freed. She never did intend to marry him. She was forced to

Interviewer's Comment

Nelson evidently rents rooms. A yellow sallow-faced, cadaverous, and
dissatisfied looking "gentleman" went into the house eyeing me
suspiciously as he passed. In a moment he was out again interrupting the
old man with pointless remarks. In--out again--standing over me--peering
on my paper in the offensive way that ill-bred people have. He
straightened up with a disgusted look on his face. He couldn't read

"What's that you're writin'?"


"What's that about?"


"History uv whut?"


"He don't know nothin' about slavery."

"Thank you. However, if he says he does, I'll just continue to listen to
him if you don't mind."

"Humph," and the "yellow gentleman" passed in.

Out again--eyeing both the old man and me with disgust that was
unconcealed. To him, "You don't know whutchu're doin'."

Deep silence by all. Exit the yellow brother.

To the old man, I said, "Is that your son?"

"Lawd, no, that's jus' a roomer."

Out came the yellow brother again. "See here, Uncle, if you want me to
fix that fence you'd bettuh come awn out heah now. It's gettin' dark."

I closed my notebook and arose. "Don't let me interfere with your
program, Brother Nelson."

The old man settled back in his chair. His eyes inspected the sky, his
jaw "sorta" set. The yellow brother looked at him a minute and passed

Five minutes later. Enter, the Madam. She also was of the yellow variety
with the suspicious and spiteful look of an undersized black Belgian
police dog. A moment of silence--a word to him.

"You don't know whutchu're doin'." Silence all around. To me, "You're
upsettin' my work."

I arose. "Madam, I'm sorry."

The old man spoke, "You ain't keepin' me from nothin'."

"Well, I said, you've given me a nice start; I'll come again and get the

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Henry Nelson, Edmondson, Arkansas
Age: 70
[TR: Appears to be same as last informant despite different address.]

"My mother belong to the Taylors close to Carterville, Tennessee. My
father never was sold. He belong to the Nelsons. My parents married
toreckly after the surrender and come on to this state. I was born ten
miles from Edmondson. Their names was Adeline and Green Nelson. They
didn't get nothing after freedom like land or a horse. I'm seventy years
old and I would have known.

"I was at Alton, Illinois in the lead works thirteen years ago and I had
a stroke. I been cripple ever since.

"My folks never spoke of being nothing but field hands. Folks used to be
proud of their crops, go look over them on Sunday when company come. Now
if they got a garden they hide it and don't mention it. Times is changed
that way.

"Clothes ain't as lasty as they used to be. People has a heap more money
to spend and don't raise and have much at home as they did when I was a
child. Times is all turned around and folks too. I always had plenty
till I couldn't do hard work. I farmed my early life. We didn't have
much money but we had rations and warm clothes. I cleared new ground,
hauled wood, big logs. I steamboated on the Sun, Kate Adams, and One Arm
John. I helped with the freight. I railroaded with pick and shovel and
in the lead mines. I worked from Memphis to Helena on boats a good
while. I come back here to farm. Time is changed and I'm changed.

"It has been so long since I heard my parents tell about slavery I
couldn't tell you straight. She told till she died, talked about how the
Yankees done when they come through. They took axes and busted up good
furniture. They et up and wasted the rations, then humor up the black
folks like they was in their favor when they was settin' out wasting
their living. They done made it to live on. Some followed them and some
stayed on. They wanted freedom but it wasn't like they thought it would
be. They didn't know how it would be. They didn't know it meant _set
out_. Seem like they left. In some ways times was better and some ways
it was worse. They had to work or starve is what they told me. That's
the way I found freedom. 'Course their owners made them work and he
looked out for the ration and in slavery.

"I keeps up my own self all I can. I don't get help."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Iran Nelson
603 E. Fourteenth Ave., Pine Bluff, Ark.
Age: 77

"Yes ma'm, they fotch me from Mississippi to Arkansas on the
steamboat--you know they didn't have railroads then. They fotch my
mother and they went back after grandfather and grandmother too.

"Dr. Noell was our master and he had us under mortgage to his
brother-in-law. They fotched us here till he could get straight from
that debt, but fore that could be, we got free.

"I knowed slavery times. I member seem' em lash some of the rest but you
know I wasn't big enough to put in the fields. Old mistress say when I
got big enough, she goin' take me for a house girl. When they fotched
mama and grandmother here they had eighty some odd head of niggers. They
was gwine carry em back home after they got that mortgage paid but the
war come.

"I member when the Yankees come, my white folks would run and hide and
hide us colored folks too. Boss man had the colored folks get all the
meat out of the smokehouse and hide it in the peach orchard in the

"I used to play with old mistress daughter Addie. We would play in the
parlor and after we moved to town some of the little girls would pick up
and go home. You know these town folks didn't believe in playin' with
the colored folks.

"After mama was free she stayed right there on the place and made a
crop. Raised eight hundred bales and the average was nine. Mama plowed
and hoed too. I had to work right with her too.

"I never went to school but once. I learned my ABC's but couldn't read.
My next ABC's was a hoe in my hand. Mama had a switch right under her
belt. I worked but I couldn't keep up. Just seein' that switch was
enough. I had a pretty good time when I was young, but I had to go all
the time."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: James Henry Nelson
1103 Orange, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 82
Occupation: Gardener

"I member all about the war--why of cose. I saddled many a cavalry hoss.
I tell you how I know how old I am. Old master, Henry Stanley of Athens,
Alabama, moved to Palaski, Tennessee and left me with young mistress to
take care of things. One day we was drivin' up some stock and I said,
'Miss Nannie, how old is you?' And she said, 'I'm seventeen.' I was old
enough to have the knowledge she would know how old I was and I said,
'How old am I?' And she said, 'You is seven years old.' That was durin'
the war.

"I remember the soldiers comin' and stoppin' at our building--Yankees
and Southern soldiers, too. They fit all around our plantation.

"The Yankees taken me when I was a little fellow. About two years after
the war started, young Marse Henry went to war and took a colored man
with him but he ran away--he wouldn't stay with the Rebel army. So young
Marse Henry took me. I reckon I was bout ten. I know I was big enough to
saddle a cavalry hoss. We carried three horses--his hoss, my hoss and a
pack hoss. You know chillun them days, they made em do a man's work. I
studied bout my mother durin' the war, so they let me go home.

"One day I went to mill. They didn't low the chillun to lay around, and
while I was at the mill a Yankee soldier ridin' a white hoss captured me
and took me to Pulaski, Tennessee and then I was in the Yankee army. I
wasn't no size and I don't think he would a took me if it hadn't been
for the hoss.

"We come back to Athens and the Rebels captured the whole army. Colonel
Camp was in charge and General Forrest captured us and I was carried
south. We was marchin' along the line and a Rebel soldier said, 'Don't
you want to go home and stay with my wife?' And so I went there, to
Millville, Alabama. Then he bound me to a friend of his and I stayed
there till the war bout ended. I was getting along very well but a older
boy 'suaded me to run away to Decatur, Alabama.

"Oh I seen lots of the war. Bof sides was good to me. I've seen many a
scout. The captain would say 'By G----, close the ranks.' Captains is
right crabbed. I stayed back with the hosses.

"After the war I worked about for this one and that one. Some paid me
and some didn't.

"I can remember back to Breckenridge; and I can remember hearin' em say
'Hurrah for Buchanan!' I'm just tellin' you to show how fur back I can
remember. I used to have a book with a picture of Abraham Lincoln with
an axe on his shoulder and a picture of that log cabin, but somebody
stole my book.

"I worked for whoever would take me--I had no mother then. If I had had
parents to make me go to school, but I got along very well. The white
folks taught me not to have no bad talk. They's all dead now and if they
wasn't I'd be with them.

"I'm a natural born farmer--that's all I know. The big overflow drownded
me out and my wife died with pellagra in '87. She was a good woman and
nice to white folks. I'm just a bachin' here now. I did stay with my
daughter but she is mean to me, so I just picked up my rags and moved
into this room where I can live in peace. I'm a christian man, and I
can't live right with her. When colored folks is mean, they's meaner
than white folks.

"I'm gettin' along very well now. I been with white folks all my
day--and it's hard for me to get along with my folks.

"In one way the world is crueler than they used to be. They don't
appreciate things like they used to. They have no feelin's and don't
care nothin' bout the olden people.

"Well, good-bye, I'm proud of you."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: John Nelson, Holly Grove, Arkansas
Age: 76

"My parents was Jazz Nelson and Mahaney Nelson. He come from Louisiana
durin' slavery. She come from Richmond, Virginia. I think from what they

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