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Slave Narratives: Arkansas Narratives by Work Projects Administration

Part 5 out of 6

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"The parents don't teach the children, and the children can't amount
too anything. If children are not taught to work, they will never have
nothing. A bunch of these young people don't mean to work. They just lay
'round waiting for the old people to die so they can get what little the
old folks accumulated and run through it. But a man never keeps what he
himself doesn't earn. He can't.

"The children are raised now without manners. When I have to go past
Capitol Hill School, I have to get off the sidewalk. Ain't nothin' but
these graduates teachin' now, young graduates that don't know nothin'
but runnin' about. When I come along, the carpetbaggers were teaching
and they knew their business. Mrs. Stephens went to Fisk and finished
there. Mrs. Spight graduated from Union High School. We had all white
teachers at first. Miss Sarah Henley used to teach with old ex-slaves
where the Bethel A.M.E. Church is now. There wasn't no church there
then--just a little shanty. I was just five years old. My mother used
to take me there and leave me, but she taught me herself at home. She
taught me just like I see you teach your kids.

"Boys don't do nothing but play now. They had to hustle then. They can't
do nothing now. They have this departmental system now. They didn't have
it then. The different temperaments ruin children. They used to review,
now they don't. They change text-books so fast the old ones can't be

Interviewer's Comment

Warren Taylor holds recommendations from a number of prominent people
referring to his excellent character, high morals, unusual intelligence,
wide information, industry, thrift, honesty, and trustworthiness. Some
of the names occur in the interview. The letters and documents proving
his long service and good record were brought out during the interview
and given to me to read.

He has an unusual memory and penetrating insight into conditions.

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Sneed Teague
Brinkley, Arkansas
Age: 68
Occupation: Works on railroad

"My owners was Miss Betsy and Master Teague. Miss Betsy had a sister
lived with them. Her name was Miss Polly. They was French folks from the
old country.

"My ma had belong to the Cox before the Teagues owned her. The Teagues
had three families of servants.

"I remember them--yes mam--they was very saving people. They made
everything that they used. The shettle, the carding machine, the
spinning wheel and all, they made em. They had a carding machine
different to anybodys in the country. It worked by a foot treadle.
Another thing wasn't like nobody elses in the whole country was the bed.
It had four tall post. The head board a little higher than the one at
the foot but instead of using slats across from the railings it was
mortised together and hemp ropes wove bout a inch apart. It was strong
and didn't seem to give (stretch) much.

"They raised sheep and they wove and spun wool altogether. They didn't
fool with cotton. Never did, not even down to my time. That carding
machine I'm telling bout turned out rolls of wool. It was right pretty.
They made all kinds of wool things and sold them. The old man had three
or four boys. Mr. Jim Teague run a wood and blacksmith shop. He sold
plows, wagons, hoes. They made spoons, knives, and forks out of sheets
of some kind of metal. Everything they used they made it and they sold
mighty near every thing folks wanted. The servants stayed on after the
war. My ma stayed till she died. My family had a little dispute when I
was twelve years old and I left. Ma died and I never went back. I
come to Forrest City and got work. I been farmin' and working on the
railroad. I have done track work. I got 10 acres land and a house. I
don't need on the relief. If I need it I would want it. The reason I
ain't got a garden and cow is I work out and not there to see after it.

"Some times I vote. You make enemies cause they all want you to vote
for them and I can't do that. I don't care nothin' bout votin'. I don't
enquire no more bout politics.

"The fellow what raises things to sell is better off with prices high
but if he is working for money, times is hard for him. Cause the money
is hard to get and hard to keep now. The young folks morals ain't like
young folks used to have. Seemed like young folks too smart to be
trained in morals like they was when I was comin' up."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Mary Teel
Holly Grove, Ark.
Age: 74

"Our Masters was Wade and Curls. Miss Fannie was Master Wade's wife.
They was kin somehow. I heard Ma say they wouldn't let their boys work.
We girls growd up together. They called Ma 'Cousin'.

"Ma say she come from Marshal County Tennessee to Holly Springs
Mississippi. She never did see her pa. My papa's papa was _a white
man_. My pa was Lewis Brittman. He was a carriage driver. He made and
mended shoes. My Ma was a fine cook. She had nine children but jes three
living now. One of the girls--Miss Fannie's girls--married bout when
I did. We jes growd up lack that. I left the girls at Mt. Pleasant,
Mississippi. I stayed on their place a while. I wish I had money to go
back to my old home and see all 'em livin'. I never heard 'em say if
they give 'em somepin. Pa lernt us to do all kinds of work. He knowd how
to do nearly everything cause he was brought up by white folks. Measles
broke out, then small pox and the white folks put us in a room all
together at the white house so we could be seen after. We lay on the
same beds. My brother would whistle. I was real little but I member it
well as yesterday. Ma say stop whistlin' in that bed and Miss Fannie say
let him whistle I want to hear him cause I know he better. They say it
bad luck to sing in bed or look in the lookin'-glass (mirror) if you in
the bed. We all got over it.

"Pa made us go clean. He made me comb and wrop my hair every night. I
had prutty hair then. I had tetter and it all come out. I has to wear
this old wig now. When I was young my eye-sight got bad, they said
measles settled in em and to help em Ma had these holes put in em (in
her ears). I been wearin' earbobs purt nigh all my life.

"The Ku Klux never bothered us. They never come nigh our house no time.
Pa died and Ma married a old man. They stayed in the same place a while.
When Pa died he had cattle and stock that why I don't know if he got
somepin at Freedom. He had plenty.

"We lived at Holly Springs (Miss.) when they started the first colored
schools. There was three lady teachers. I think a man. One of the white
teachers boarded at my Ma's. On Saturday the other two eat there. I
recollect Ma cooking and fixing a big dinner Saturday. No white folks
let em stay with em or speak to em. They was sent from up north to teach
the darky chaps. I was one went to school. They wasn't nice like my
white folks then neither. They paid high board and white folks sent em
to Ma so she get the money. I was 14 years old when I married. I lived
wid my husband more an 50 years. We got long what I'ze tellin' you. This
young set ain't got no raisin' reason they cain't stand one nother. I
don't let em come in my yard. I cain't raise no children, I'm too old
and they ain't got no manners and the big ones got no sense. Jes wild.
They way they do. They live together a while and quit. Both them soon
livin' wid somebody else. That what churches fer, to marry in. Heap of
em ain't doin' it. No children don't come here tearin' up what I work
and have. I don't let em come in that gate, I have to work so hard in my
old days. I picked cotton. I can, by pickin' hard, make a dollar a day.
I cooked ten years fore I stopped, I cain't hold up at it. I washed and
ironed till the washing machines ruined that work fer all of us black
folks. Silk finery and washin' machines ruint the black folks.

"Ma named Elsie Langston and Lewis Langston. They took that name somehow
after the old war (Civil War), I recken it was her old master's name.

"After I was married and had children I was hard up. I went to a widow
woman had a farm but no men folks. She say, 'If you live here and leave
your little children in my yard and take my big boys and learn em to
work, I will cook. On Saturday you wash and iron.' She took me in that
way when my color wouldn't help me. I stayed there--between Memphis and
Holly Springs.

"I live hard the way I live. I pick cotton when I can't go hardly. They
did give me a little commodity but I lose half day work if I go up there
and wait round. Don't know what they give me. I don't get a cent of the

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Wade Thermon,
R.F.D. (PWA Reservation), Des Arc, Arkansas
Age: 67

"I was born in Boswell, Oklahoma. My mother and father was both slaves
some wha in the eastern states. Soon as freedom was declared they kept
going till I was born. They finally come back and farmed round Pine
Bluff. My folks last time I heard from them was at Garland City. There's
wha my mother died. I had three brothers and one sister, but one brother
died long time ago. Oklahoma was pore farmin'. The family could do
pretty good farmin' in Arkansas. I come here from Pine Bluff. I got a
wife, two girls and a little grandchild. When I first come to dis county
I done public work--piece work. I handled cotton and cross ties. I used
to help load and unload the boats and I worked helpin' build railroads.
Then I had to farm about a little fur a living. I worked on Victor
Gates place six years. Then I worked on the widow Thomas place till the
Government bought it. Then the last eighteen months I got work wid the
PWA on the rezer/va/tion. They turned me off now and I ain't got no
place to work.

"I voted the Republican ticket the last time. I don't know nothing 'bout
stricted sufage. I voted in Oklahoma some and here some. No I sho don't
think the women needs to vote. They won't let us vote in the Primary. No
I wouldn't know who would suit in dem high offices. I reckon it is all
right. We is in you might say a foreign country. What I blames 'em fur
is not puttin' us in a country all to our selves and den let us run it
all to our selves. It is gettin' us all mixed up here every year worse
and worse.

"I don't know nuthin' 'bout the Civil War. That was before I was born. I
heard my folks talk some 'bout it, been so long I forgot what they did
say. My folks owned a place in Oklahoma, at least I recken they did. I
never did own no home nor no land. Well, missus, cause I never could get
but berry little ahead ever and it takes all I makes to live on and I
ain't got nuthin' to go on now.

"Times is changin' so much I don't know whut goin' to happen to the next
generation. Prices is mighty high now the reason you have to spend every
cent you makes fore you get paid off. Dats the reason I don't like the
PWA work I done. It cuts you off without a thing to go on. I likes farm
work whole heap the best."

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Mrs. Dicey Thomas
2500 Center Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: About 82

"I was born in Barbour County, Alabama. When I was born, the white folks
kept the children's age, not that of their parents. When the Yankees
came through our white folks' plantation, the white folks was hiding
away things.


"My father was named Ben See. See was my maiden name. Thomas comes from
my marriage.


"It was about twelve o'clock when the Yankees came through, because we
had just gone to bring the bowls. They used to serve us out of these
gourds and wooden spoons. Me and another little girl had gone to get
some bowls and spoons and when we got back the Yankees were swarming
over the place. They said, 'You are free. Go where you please.'

"My mother had a little baby. The old women would tend to this baby and
we would sit and rock the cradle till mother would come. I know I wasn't
very old, because I didn't do anything but sit and rock the baby. I had
just gotten big enough to carry the bowls.

"When the Yankees came through they stole Ben See's horse and brought
him out here in Arkansas. In those days, they used to brand horses.

Some woman out here in Arkansas recognized the horse by his brand and
wrote to him about it. He came out and got the horse. We had gone by
that time.

Visiting the Graves

"Ben See used to take the little darkies to the cemetery and show them
where their master and missis was laying. He never would sell none of
his father's slaves.

The Slave Block

"He would buy other slaves and sell them though. He used to buy little
kids that couldn't walk. Maybe some big white man would come that would
want to buy a nigger. He used to have servants in the yard and he would
have the slaves he'd bought saved up. One of the yard servants would
catch a little nigger with his head all knotty and filled with twigs. He
would swinge the hair and the little nigger would yell, but he wouldn't
be hurt.

"He had a block built up high just like a meat block out in the yard.
He would have the yard man bring the little niggers out and put them on
this block. I don't know nothing about their parents, who they were nor
where they were. All I know he would have this child there what he'd
done bought.

"If there would be about five or six come in, here's this nigger sitting
up here. Here's a lot of folks waitin' to buy him. One would say, 'I bid
so much.' Another would say, 'I bid so much.' That would go on till the
biddin' got as high as it would go. Then the little nigger would go to
the highest bidder if the bid suited master.

"My mother and father didn't know their age. The white folks kept the
ages, and that was something they didn't allow the slaves to handle. I
must have been four or five years old when my mother was in the field,
because I wasn't allowed to take the baby out of the cradle but just to
sit and rock it.


"When I come to Arkansas, stages was running from Little Rock down
toward Pine Bluff. Jesse James robbed the Pine Bluff train. That about
the first train came in. They cut down the trees across the train track.
They had a wooden gun and they went in there and robbed that train with
it. They sent him to the pen and he learned a trade making cigars.

"The Union Station was just like that hillside. It was just one street
in the town. I don't know what year nor nothing about it because when I
came here it was just like somebody didn't have any sense.


"The slave quarter was a row of houses. The plantation was high land.
The houses were little log houses with one room. They had fire arches.
They would hang pots over the fire. They would have spiders that you
call ovens. You would put coals on top of the spider and you would put
them under it and you could smell that stuff cooking! The door was in
the top of the spider and the coals would be on top of the door.

"You couldn't cook nothin' then without somebody knowin' it. Couldn't
cook and eat in the back while folk sit in the front without them
knowin' it. They used to steal from the old master and cook it and they
would be burning rags or something to keep the white folks from smelling

The riding boss would come round about nine o'clock to see if you had
gone to bed or not. If they could steal a chicken or pig and kill and
cut it up, this one would take a piece and that one would take a piece
and they would burn the cotton to keep down the scent. The rider would
come round in June and July too when they thought the people would be
hunting the watermelons.

"When the soldiers came, the niggers run and hid under the beds and the
soldiers came and poked their bayonets under the bed and shouted, 'Come
on out from under there. You're free!'

Destructiveness of Soldiers

"The soldiers would tear down the beehives and break up the smoke
houses. They wasn't tryin' to git nothin' to eat. They was just
destroying things for devilment. They pulled all the stoppers out of the
molasses. They cut the smoked meat down and let it fall in the molasses.


"Every Saturday, they would give my father and his wife half a gallon of
molasses, so much side meat. And then they would give half a bushel of
meal I reckon. Whatever they would give they would give 'em right out of
the smoke house. Sweet potatoes they would give. Sugar and coffee they'd
make. There wasn't nothing 'bout buying no sugar then.

How the Day Went

"The riding boss would come round before the day broke and wake you up.
You had to be in the field before sun-up--that is the man would. The
woman who had a little child had a little more play than the man,
because she had to care for the child before she left. She had to carry
the child over to the old lady that took care of the babies. The cook
that cooked up to the big house, she cooked bread and milk and sent it
to the larger children for their dinner. They didn't feed the little
children because their mothers had to nurse them. The mother went to the
field as soon as she cared for her child. She would come back and nurse
the child around about twice. She would come once in the morning about
ten o'clock and once again at twelve o'clock before she ate her own
lunch. She and her husband ate their dinner in the field. She would come
back again about three p.m. Then you wouldn't see her any more till dark
that night. Long as you could see you had to stay in the field. They
didn't come home till sundown.

"Then the mother would go and get the children and bring them home. She
would cook for supper and feed them. She'd have to go somewheres and get
them. Maybe the children would be asleep before she would get all that
done. Then she would have to wake them up and feed them.

"I remember one time my sister and me were laying near the fire asleep
and my sister kicked the pot over and burned me from my knee to my foot.
My old master didn't have no wife, so he had me carried up to the house
and treated by the old woman who kept the house for him. She was a
slave. When I got so I could hobble around a little, he would sometimes
let the little niggers come up to the house and I would get these big
peanuts and break them up and throw them out to them so he could have
fun seeing them scramble for them.

"After the children had been fed, the mother would cook the next day's
breakfast and she would cook the next day's dinner and put it in the
pail so that everything would be ready when the riding boss would come
around. Cause when he came, it meant move.

The Old Lady at the Big House

"The old lady at the big house took care of the gourds and bowls. The
parents didn't have nothing to do with them. She fed the children that
was weaned. Mother and daddy didn't have nothing to do with that at
noontime because they was in the field. White folks fed them corn bread
and milk. Up to the big house besides that, she didn't have anything to
do except take care of things around the house, keep the white man's
things clean and do his cooking.

"She never carried the gourds and bowls herself. She just fixed them.
The yard man brought them down to the quarters and we would take them
back. She wash them and scrape them till they was white and thin as
paper. They was always clean.

"She wasn't related to me. I couldn't call her name to save my life.


"We come from Barbour, Alabama with a trainful of people that were
immigrating. We just chartered a train and came, we had so many. Of all
the old people that came here in that time, my aunt is the oldest. You
will find her out on Twenty-fourth Street and Pulaski. She has been my
aunt ever since I can remember. She must be nearly a hundred or more.


"When we had the patrollers it was just like the white man would have
another white man working for him. It was to see that the Negroes went
to bed on time and didn't steal nothing. But my master and missis never
allowed anybody to whip their slaves.

What the Slaves Expected and Got

"I don't know what the slaves was expecting to get, but my parents when
they left Ben See's place had nothing but the few clothes in the house.
They didn't give em nothing. They had some clothes all right, enough to
cover themselves. I don't know what kind or how much because I wasn't
old enough to know all into such details.

"When we left Ben See's plantation and went down into Alabama, we left
there on a wagon. Daddy was driving four big steers hitched to it. There
was just three of us children. The little boy my mother was schooling
then, it died. It died when we went down betwixt New Falls and
Montgomery, Alabama. I don't know when we left Alabama nor how long we
stayed there. After he was told he was free, I know he didn't make nare
another crop on Ben See's plantation.


"My father, when he left from where we was freed, he went to hauling
logs for a sawmill, and then he farmed. He done that for years, driving
these old oxen. He mostly did this logging and my mother did the

"I can't tell you what kind of time it was right after the Civil War
because I was too young to notice. All our lives I had plenty to eat.
When we first came to Arkansas we stopped at old Mary Jones down in
Riceville, and then we went down on the Gates Farm at Biscoe. Then we
went from there to Atkins up in Pope County. No, he went up in the sand
hills and bought him a home and then he went up into Atkins. Of course,
I was a married woman by that time.

"I married the second year I came to Arkansas, about sixty-two or
sixty-three years ago. I have lived in Little Rock about thirty-two or
thirty-three years. When I first came here, I came right up here on
Seventeenth and State streets.


"I never voted. For twenty years the old white lady I stayed with looked
after my taxes. None of my friends ever voted. I ain't got nothing but
some children and they ain't never been crazy enough to go to anybody's


"I have two brothers dead and a sister. My mother is dead. I am not sure
whether or not my father is dead. The Ku Klux scared him out of Atkins,
and he went up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and I ain't never heard of him since.
I don't know whether he is dead or not.

"I have raised five children of my own.

Ku Klux Klan

"These Ku Klux, they had not long ago used to go and whip folks that
wasn't doing right. That was mongst the white people and the colored.
Comer that used to have this furniture store on Main Street, he used to
be the head of it, they say.

"I used to work for an old white man who told me how they done. They
would walk along the street with their disguises hidden under their
arms. Then when they got to the meeting place, they would put their
disguises on and go out and do their devilment. Then when they were
through, they would take the disguise off again and go on back about
their business, Old man Wolf, he used to tell me about it.


"I nursed for every prominent doctor in Little Rock,--Dr. Judd, Dr.
Flynch, Dr. Flynn, Dr. Fly, Dr. Morgan Smith, and a number of others."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Mandy Thomas, 13th and Pearl Streets,
Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 78
Occupation: Laundress

"I know my sister told me I was five when my mama was freed. I was born
down below El Dorado. Andrew Jaggers was my mother's old master.

"I just remember the soldiers goin' past. I think they was Yankees. They
never stopped as I knows of.

"I've seed my young missis whip my mother.

"My papa belonged to the Agees. After I got up good sized, they told me
'bout my papa. He went with his white folks to Texas and we never did
see him after we got up good size. So mama took a drove of us and went
to work for some more white folks.

"I was good and grown when I married and I been workin' hard ever since.
I was out pickin' huckleberries tryin' to get some money to buy baby
clothes when my first girl was born. Yes ma'am."

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Omelia Thomas
519 W. Ninth Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: About 70
Occupation: Making cotton and corn

"I was born in Louisiana--in Vidalia. My mother's name was Emma Grant.
My father's name was George Grant. My mother's name before she married
was Emma Woodbridge. I don't know the names of my grand folks. I heard
my mother say that my grandmother was named Matilda Woodbridge. I never
got to see her. That is what I heard my mother say.

"I don't know the names of my mother's master, and I don't know the
names of my father's white folks.

"My father was George Grant. He served in the War. I think they said
that he was with them when Vicksburg surrendered. My father has said
that he was really named George LaGrande. But after he enlisted in the
War, he went by the name of George Grant. There was one of the officers
by that name, and he took it too. He was shot in the hip during the War.
When he died, he still was having trouble with that wound. He was on the
Union side. He was fighting for our freedom. He wasn't no Reb. He'd tell
us a many a day, 'I am part of the cause that you are free.' I don't
know where he was when he enlisted. He said he was sold out from
Louisville--him and his brother.

"I never did hear him say that he was whipped or treated bad when he was
a slave. I've heard him tell how he had to stand up on dead people to
shoot when he was in the War.

"My brother started twice to get my father's pension, but he never was
able to do anything about it. They made away with the papers somehow
and we never did get nothin'. My father married a second time before he
died. When he died, my stepmother tried to get the pension. They writ
back and asked her if he had any kin, and she answered them and said no.
She hid the papers and wouldn't let us have 'em--took and locked 'em
up somewheres where we couldn't find 'em. She was so mean that if she
couldn't get no pension, she didn't want nobody else to get none.

"I don't know just when I was born, nor how old I am. When I come to
remember anything, I was free. But I don't know how old I am, nor when
it was.

"I heard my father speak of pateroles. Just said that they'd ketch you.
He used to scare us by telling us that the pateroles would ketch us. We
thought that was something dreadful.

"I never heard nothin' about jayhawkers. I heard something about Ku Klux
but I don't know what it was.

"My father married my mother just after the War.

"I been married twice. My first husband got killed on the levee. And the
second is down in the country somewheres. We are separated.

"I don't get no help from the Welfare, wish I did. I ain't had no money
to get to the doctor with my eyes."

Interviewer's Comments

The old lady sat with her eyes nearly closed while I questioned her and
listened to her story. Those eyes ran and looked as though they needed
attention badly. The interview was conducted entirely on the porch as
that of Annie Parks. Traffic interrupted; friends interrupted; and a
daughter interrupted from time to time. But this daughter, while a
little suspicious, was in no degree hostile. The two of them referred
me to J.T. Tims, who, they said, knew a lot about slavery. His story is
given along with this one.

I got the impression that the old lady was born before the War, but
I accepted her statement and put her down as born since the War and
guessed her age as near seventy. She was evidently quite reserved about
some details. Her father's marriage to her mother after the War would
not necessarily mean that he was not married to her slave fashion before
the War. She didn't care so much about giving any story, but she was
polite and obliging after she had satisfied herself as to my identity
and work.

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Omelia Thomas
1014 W. Fifth Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: 63

"I was born in Marianna, Lee County, in Arkansas. I wasn't born right in
the town but out a piece from the town in the old Bouden place, in 1875.
My father kept a record of all births and deaths in his Bible. He never
forgot whenever a new baby would come to get down his glasses and
pen and ink and Bible. My daddy learned to read and write after the

"My father's name was Frank Johnson and my mother's name was Henrietta
Johnson. I don't know the given names of my father's and mother's
parents. I do know my mother's mother's name. Lucinda, and my father's
mother was named Stephens. I don't know their given names. My mother's
master was a Trotter.

"My father was a free man. He hired his own time. He told me that
his father hired his own time and he would go off and work. He made
washpots. He would go off and work and bring back money and things. His
mother was free too. When war was declared, he volunteered to go. He
was with the Yankees. My father worked just like my grandfather did.
Whenever he had a job to do. He never had a lick from anybody, carried
his gun strapped down on his side all the time and never went without

"After the War, he worked on a steamboat. They used to kick the
roustabouts about and run them around but they never laid the weight of
their hands on him.

"They wouldn't allow him to go to school in slavery time. After the War,
he got a Blue Back Speller and would make a bowl of fire and at night
he would study--sometimes until daybreak. Then he found an old man that
would help him and he studied under him for a while. He never went to
any regular school, but he went to night school a little. Most of what
he got, he got himself.

"He was born in Louisville, Kentucky. I don't know how he happened to
meet my mother. During the time after the War, he went to running on the
boat from New Orleans to Friar Point, Mississippi. Then he would come
over to Helena. In going 'round, he met my mother near Marianna and
married her.

"Mother never had much to say, and the other girls would have a big time
talking. He noticed that she was sewing with ravelings and he said,
'Lady, next time I come I'll bring you a spool of thread if you don't
mind.' He brought the thread and she didn't mind, and from then on, they
went to courting. Finally they married. They married very shortly after
the War.

"My mother was a motherless girl. My daddy said he looked at her
struggling along. All the other girls were trying to have a good time.
But she would be settin' down trying to make a quilt or something else
useful, and he said to a friend of his, 'That woman would make a good
wife; I am going to marry her.' And he did.

"She used to spin her fine and coarse sewing thread and yarn to make
socks and stockings with. Her stockings and socks for the babies and
papa would always be yarn. She could do pretty work. She had a large
family. She had seventeen children and she kept them all in things she
made herself. She raised ten of them. She would make the thread and yarn
and the socks and stockings for all of these. I have known the time when
she used to make coats and pants for my father and brothers. She would
make them by hand because they didn't have any machines then. Of course,
she made all the underwear. She put up preserves and jellies for us to
eat in the winter. She used to put up kraut and stuff by the barrel. I
have seen some happy days when I was with my daddy and mother. He raised
pigs and hogs and chickens and cows. He raised all kinds of peas and
vegetables. He raised those things chiefly for the home, and he made
cotton for money. He would save about eight or ten bales and put them
under his shed for stockings and clothes and everything. He would have
another cotton selling in March.

"When my father was in the army, he would sometimes be out in the
weather, he told us, and he and the other soldiers would wrap up in
their blankets and sleep right in the snow itself.

"I farmed all my life until 1897. I farmed all my life till then. I was
at home. I married in 1895. My first husband and I made three crops and
then he stopped and went to public work. After that I never farmed any
more but went to cooking and doing laundry work. I came from Clarendon
here in 1901.

"I never had any experiences with the Yankees. My mother used to tell
how they took all the old master's stuff--mules and sugar--and then
throwed it out and rode their horses through it when they didn't want it
for theirselves.

"I married a second time. I have been single now for the last three
years. My husband died on the twentieth of August three years ago. I
ain't got no business here at all. I ought to be at my home living well.
But I work for what I get and I'm proud of it.

"A working woman has many things to contend with. That girl downstairs
keeps a gang of men coming and going, and sometimes some of them
sometimes try to come up here. Sunday night when I come home from
church, one was standing in the dark by my door waiting for me. I had
this stick in my hand and I ordered him down. He saw I meant business;
so he went on down. Some of them are determined.

"There's no hope for tomorrow so far as these young folks are concerned.
And the majority of the old people are almost worse than the young ones.
Used to be that all the old people were mothers and fathers but now they
are all going together. Everything is in a critical condition. There is
not much truth in the land. All human affection is gone. There is mighty
little respect. The way some people carry on is pitiful."

Interviewer's Comment

The men who bother Omelia Thomas probably take her for a young woman.
She hasn't a gray hair in her head, and her skin is smooth and must be
well kept. She looks at least twenty-five years younger than she is, and
but for the accident of her presence at another interview, I would never
have dreamed that she had a story to tell.

I went to see her in the quarters where she lives--over the garage in
the back yard of the white people she works for. When I got halfway
up the stairs, she shouted, "You can't come up here." I paused in
perplexity for a moment, and she stuck her head out the door and looked.
Then she said, "Oh, I beg pardon; I thought you were one of those men
that visit downstairs." I had noticed the young lady below as I entered.
She is evidently a hot number, and as troublesome as a sore thumb to the
good old lady above her.

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Tanner Thomas
1213 Louisiana, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 78

"I was born down here at Rob Roy on the river on the Emory place. My
mother's name was Dinah Thomas and my father's name was Greene Thomas.
He taken sick and died in the War on the North side. That's what my
mother told me. I was born under Mars Jordan Emory's administration.

"I 'member somebody brought me here to Pine Bluff to Lawyer Bell's
house. I stayed two or three months, then Mars Jordan sent for me and
carried me back out to Rob Roy and I stayed with my mother. She had done
married again but I stayed with her all the time till I got grown and I

"I come here in 1892 and I been here ever since--forty-six years. Oh,
whole lots of these white folks know me.

"I worked at the Standard Lumber Company and Bluff City Lumber Company
and Dilley's Foundry. Then I went to the oil mill. I was the order man.
I was the best lumber grader on the place.

"Course I knows lots of white folks and they knows me too, I done a heap
of work 'round here in different places in forty-six years.

"I went to school a little but I didn't learn nothin'.

"My mother said they come and pressed my daddy in the War. 'Course I
don't know nothin' 'bout that but my mother told me.

"Now, what is this you're gettin' up? Well, I was born in slavery times.
You know I was when my daddy was in the War.

"Oh Lord yes, I voted. I voted Republican. I didn't know whether it
would do any good or not but I just voted 'cause I had a chance. My
name's been in Washington for years 'cause I voted, you know.

"My way is dark to the younger generation now. I don't have much dealin'
with them. They are more wiser. Education has done spread all over the

"God intended for every man in the world to have a living and to live
for each other but too many of 'em livin' for themselves. But everything
goin' to work out right after awhile. God's goin' to change this thing
up after awhile. You can't rush him. He can handle these people. After
he gets through, with this generation, I think he's goin' to make a
generation that will serve him."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Wester Thomas, Marianna, Arkansas
Age: 79

"I was born in Sumpter County (Mississippi?). My mother was sold to
Dr. and Miss Kate Hadley. My mother's name was Lettie Williams and she
married Wesley Thomas. My name is Wester Thomas. I'm seventy-nine years
old. Mistress Kate raised me. Dr. Hadley had more than a hundred slaves.

"I can tell you about freedom. Two men in uniforms come and told master.
He had the farm bell rung. They told them the Civil War was over. They
was free. The niggers went back to their quarters. Some moved later. My
folks never left. Dr. Hadley died. Mistress Kate took all that wanted to
go to Louisiana then. We cleared up land down there. Later I farmed."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Annie Thompson, Biscoe, Arkansas
Age: 55?

"I was raised by my father's sister and my grandmother. Later on I come
to my daddy here and my stepmother had other children. I soon married.
I've had a hard time.

"My grandparents was Harriett Edwards and William Snow. Grandmother said
they were nice to her. She was Master Edwards' house girl. She cooked
and was a spinner. When I was a girl she had her spinning-wheel and
she taught me to spin and knit. She spun thread for caps, mittens,
stockings, socks, suspenders, and coats. We knit all those things when
I was a girl. Grandmother said the white folks never whooped her.
Grandmother was her old master's own girl and she nursed with one of his
white wife's children. She was real light.

"My father's mother was a squaw. I don't know her name. She was sold
from grandpa and he went to Master Snow. He never seen her any more.
He took another wife and jumped over the broom on the Snow place. He
thought some of his owners was terrible. He had been whooped till he
couldn't wear clothes. He said they stuck so bad.

"My own father whipped me once till my clothes stuck to my back. I
told you I had seen a pretty hard time in my own life. I was born in
Starkville, Mississippi.

"Since I was a girl there has been many changes. I was married by Rev.
Bell December 14, 1902. My husband is living and still my husband. I can
see big changes taking place all the time. I was married at De Valls

Interviewer's Comment

This woman could give me some comparative views on the present
generation but she didn't. It is one of the Saturday gathering halls.
She depends on it somewhat for a living and didn't say a word either pro
or con for the present generation.

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Ellen Briggs Thompson
3704 W. Twelfth Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: 83

Birth and Relatives

"I was born in October 1844, in Nashville, Arkansas. I don't remember
the exact day. I have went through thick and thin. I was a small girl
when my mother died. I got the rheumatism so bad I can't hardly walk. It
hurts me now. My oldest brother, Henry Briggs, was five years older than
me, and my youngest brother, Isaac Briggs, was five years younger than
me. I was born October, but he was born at Christmas Eve just after
surrender. My oldest brother died last year. My youngest brother is
in Galveston, Texas. If he is living, he is there. My name was Briggs
before I married. I was just studying about my sister-in-law when you
come up. If I could get the money, I would go to see her. She was my
oldest brother's wife. Her name was Frances Briggs after she married.
She lives in Emmet, Arkansas, where he married her. I just had two
brothers, no sisters.

"My husband's name was Henry Thompson. He has been dead about twelve or
thirteen years. I have had so much sickness I can't remember exactly. I
married him a long time ago. I got it put down in the Bible. I married
yonder in Emmet, Arkansas. I ain't got the Bible nor nothing. My brother
had it and he is dead.

"My father's name was Daniel Briggs. He died in Hot Springs. We were
small children when he and my mother was separated. He was in one place
and we were in another. He tried to get us children when he died, but we
was little and couldn't get to him. My mother was dead then.

"My mother's name was Susanna Briggs. Her father's name was Isaac Metz.
The children left him in South Carolina. The white folks sold them away
from him. My mother just had three children: me, and my two brothers. I
don't know how many my grandfather had. There were four sisters that I
know besides my mother and two boys: Aunt Melissa, and Aunt Jane, and
Aunt Annie, and Aunt Sarah, and Uncle Albert Mitchell, and Uncle Ben. My
grandmother's name was Betsy. I never got to see her but they told me
about her.

Good Masters

"I have heard them say that their white folks didn't whip them. My
master was a good man. My young master, when it come to the surrender,
slipped back home and told them they was going to be free as ever he
was. His name was Joe Mitchell. I never seed my white folks whip anybody
in my life. They just never whipped anybody. They never whipped me. I
have seen the white folks next to us whip their Negroes and I asked
grandma about it. She said that those were their Negroes and she would
explain what they was being whipped for. They was on another farm. I
don't remember what they was being whipped for.

"My young master told the slaves when he notified them they was free
that if they didn't want to stay with him, he would give them enough to
go on till they could make it, you know, to keep them from starving. He
was a good man.

"The old man, Joe's father, was named Thomas Mitchell. He died before I
was born. I never seed him, just knowed his name. Joe's mother was named
Isabel Mitchell. I came to be named Briggs because her husband's name
was Briggs. He belonged to a Briggs. I don't know what his name was
else. They didn't belong to the same master. They used to let them
marry. They would fix great big tables. Sometimes they would marry in
the house; that was in the winter. Then sometimes they would marry
outdoors. Then they would set a long table for all their associates to
eat just like you would fix a table for your friends. Looked like they
would be so glad to see their boys and girls marry. They would have
regular preacher and marry just like they do now.

"There wasn't no breeders on our place. But I have heard of people who
did keep a woman just for that purpose. They never whipped her nor
nothing. They just let her have children. As soon as she had one, they
would take it away from her so that she could have another one right


"When my young master was gone to the War and the jayhawkers would come
around, my young master's mother would take all the colored women and
children and lock them up and she would take a big heavy gun and go out
to meet them. The Jayhawkers were white people who would steal corn and
horses and even slaves if they could get them. But colored folks was
sharp. They would do things to break their horses' legs and they would
run and hide. My uncle was a young boy. He saw the Jayhawkers coming
once. And he ran and pressed himself under the crib. The space was so
small he nearly broke his ribs. His mistress had to get him out and take
him to the house.

"My grandmother used to take me with her after dark when she'd go out
to pray. She wouldn't go anywhere without me. One time when she was out
praying, I touched her and said to her that I heard something in the
corn crib. She cut her prayer off right now and went and told it to her
old mistress, and to the young master, who was in the house just then
telling the Negroes they were all going to be free. The Jayhawkers spied
us and they got out and went on their way. My young master crawled out
and went back to the Confederate army. He had to crawl out because he
wanted to keep anybody from seeing him and capturing him.


"I never seed but one or two soldiers. That was after the surrender. I
suppose they were Union soldiers. They had on their blue jackets. There
never was any fighting in Nashville, while I was living there.

"About all that I knew about the War was that the men went off to fight.
None of the colored men went--just the white men. The colored men stayed
back and worked in the field. Isabel Mitchell and her boys were bosses.
What they said _goed_.

Slave Houses

"The slaves lived in old log houses. Some of them were plank houses.
Some of the slaves chinked 'em up with dirt. They had these big wooden
windows in the houses. Sometimes they would be two, sometimes they would
be three windows--one to each room. There would be two or three or four
rooms to the house. That would be according to the family. My mother had
three girls besides her own children. She had a four-room house. Her
house was built right in the white folks' yard. My grandmother didn't
work in the field. She tended to the children. She worked in the big
house. My mother was boss of the whole thing. She would go and work in
the field but grandmother would see after the children. She wouldn't
let me go from her to the gate without her. I just had to follow her
everywhere she went.

"Grandmother besides taking care of us used to make clothes. She cooked
for the white folks. But she sure had to see after us children. I seed
after myself. I was all the girl-child there and I just did what I
wanted to.

"The country was kind of wild in those days. The deer used to come
loping down and we would be scared and run and hide. Some people would
set the dogs on them and some people would kill them no matter who they

You see, some people had them as pets.


"I never seed nothing in the way of amusements except people going to
church and going to parties and all such as that. They believed in going
to church. They would have parties at night. The white folks didn't care
what they had. They would help prepare for it. They would let 'em have
anything they wanted to have and let 'em go to church whenever they
wanted to go.

And if they took a notion they would have a supper. When they would have
a party they would do just like they do now. They would have dancing. I
never seed any playing cards. When they danced, somebody would play the
fiddle for them. When they had a supper, they would usually sell the
things. Then the white folks would come and buy from them. There would
be nice looking things on the table.


"They had meetings at Center Point, and at Arkadelphia. And they would
let us go to them or anywhere else we wanted. We had to have passes, of
course. They had colored preachers. Sometimes the slaves would go to
the white people's church. They wouldn't go often, just every once in
awhile. White ladies would get after the colored to come and go with
them sometimes. Sometimes, too, when they would have a dinner or
something, they would take Aunt Sue or mother to cook for them. They
wouldn't let nobody meddle with them or bother them--none of the other
white folks. And they would let them fix a table for their own friends
that they would want to have along.

Personal Occupations

"I used to work in the field or in the house or anything I could get to
do. I would even go out and saw these big rails when my husband would
have a job and couldn't get a chance to do it. It has been a good while
since I have been able to do any good work. My husband has been dead
fifteen years and I had to quit work long before he died.

Right after the War

"Right after the War my folks worked in the field, washed, cooked, or
anything they could do. They left the old place and came down about
Washington, Arkansas. I don't know just how long they stayed in
Washington. From Washington, my mother went to Prescott and settled
there at a little place they called Sweet Home, just outside of
Prescott. That is where my daughter was born and that is where my mother
died. I came here about nine years ago.

Present Support

I came here to stay with my daughter. But now she doesn't have any help
herself. She has three small children and she's their only support now.
She's not working either. She just come in from the Urban League looking
for a job. They say that they don't have a thing and that the people
don't want any women now. They just want these young girls because they
make them work cheaper. We have both applied for help from the Welfare
but neither of us has gotten anything yet."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Hattie Thompson, Widener, Arkansas
Age: 72

"I was born the second year after the surrender. I was born close to
Arlington, Tennessee. My parents was Mariah Thermon and Johnson Mayo.
They had eight children. They belong to different owners. I heard mama
say in slavery time she'd clean her house good Saturday and clean up her
children and start cooking dinner fore pa come. They looked forward to
pa coming. Now that was at our own house.

"Mama was heired. She was the house woman and cook for her young
mistress, Miss Sallie Thermon. She married Mr. John Thermon. She was
Miss Sallie Royster till she married. I heard her say she raised Miss
Sallie's children with her own. She was a wet nurse. I know Miss Sallie
was good to her. I don't think she was sold but her mother was sold.
She would spin and weave and the larger children did too. They made
bed spreads in colors and solid white. They called the colored ones
coverlets. They was pretty. Mama helped quilt. She was a good hand at
that. They made awful close stitches and backstitched every now and then
to make it hold. They would wax the thread to keep it from rolling up
and tangling.

"Thread was in balls. They rolled it from skeins to balls. They rolled
it from shuck broches to the balls. Put shucks around the spindle to
slip it off easy. I have seen big balls this big (2 ft. in diameter)
down on the floor and mama, knitting off of it right on. When the feet
wore out on socks and stockings, they would unravel them, save the good
thread, and reknit the foot or toe or heel.

"When I was a child, patching and darning was stylish. Soon as the
washing was brung in the clothes had to be sorted out and every snag
place patched nice. Folks had better made clothes and had to take care
of em. Clothes don't last no time now. White folks had fine clothes but
they didn't have nigh as many as white folks do now.

"Mama was a pretty good hand at doing mighty nigh what she took a
notion to do about the house. She never was no count in the field--jess
couldn't hold out it seem like. She worked in the field lots. Pa was
a shoemaker. He made all our shoes and had his tools, lasts, etc. He
learned his trade in slavery. He farmed.

"It has been so long ago I tell you I don't recollect things straight. I
don't know how they found out about freedom but they left I think. They
got all they could take, their clothes and a little to eat. They
started share cropping. They was out from Holly Springs when I come to
knowledge. Mama was a nice hand at cooking and hand sewing. She said
Miss Sallie learnt her. She never could read.

"I come to Arkansas fifty year ago this spring with one little girl--all
the little girl I ever had. I never had no boys. I come here to get
work. I always got work. It was a new country and it was being cleared
out. In the spring we could get wild polk greens to cook. You can't get
none now.

"Times is sider'bly changed since then. Hogs run wild. Plenty game here
then. Something to eat was not hard to get then as it is now. We raise a
hog in a pen nearly every year but it takes plenty to feed it that way.

"My husband have rheumatism and we get $12 and commodities. He works in
the field and I wash and iron when I can get some to do. That is scarce.
He works all he can."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person Interviewed: Mamie Thompson
Brinkley, Ark.
Age: 68

"I come here with my parents in 1887. Nothing much here in Brinkley then
but woods and three stores. My mother was a mix-breed. She was mixed
with Cherokee Indian and Negro. My father come from Virginia. He was
black--so black he shined. My mother was born in Cairo, Illinois. My
mother and father both died here in Brinkley. This town started from a
big saw mill."

"Understand, all I knows was told to me by my parents. Grandma's master
was Master Redman. He kept Aunt Emma and my mother. They never was sold.
My mother was put on the block but her mistress come took her down.
Master Redman had her in the field working. The overseer was a white
man. He tried to take her down and carry on with her. She led him to the
house. He wanted her whooped cause she had whooped him sort of. He
was mad cause he couldn't overpower her. Master Redman got her in the
kitchen to whoop her with a cow hide; she told him she would kill him;
she got a stick. He let her out and they come to buy her--_a Negro
trader_. Old Mistress--his wife--went out and led her down from there
in the house and told Master Redman if he sold Mattie she would quit
him--she meant leave him. Mistress Redman kept her with her and made a
house girl out of her. She tended to the children and cleaned the house.
Aunt Emma milked and churned.

"Grandma was a Molly Glaspy woman. She had straight wavy hair, small
eyes. She was a small woman. Grandpa was a tall big man. He was a full
blood Indian.

"My mother called whiskey 'jagger'--I don't know why.

"After Mr. Redman died, Miss Mary married Mr. Badgett. Me and George and
Sissy all growed up together. My mother was married twice too. She had
two of us by her first husband and eight children by her last husband.

"I heard them say they lived in Crittenden County, Arkansas during the
Civil War. They lived in west Tennessee not far from Memphis when I was
a child. Mrs. Badgett lived in Memphis after she got old. Mary's mother
visited her long as she lived. I did too. She has been dead several
years. She give me a sugar bowl when I was twelve years old--I still got
it. I won't sell it. I'll give it to my girl.

"I don't know about the Ku Klux. I never heard a great deal about them.

"I don't vote--not interested.

"Well, I sewed till the very day I was 65 years old. The foreman said I
was too old now, but sign up for the pension. I am crippled. I did. I
get commodities, but no money.

"I washed, ironed, cooked. I worked at Mrs. Jim Gunn's and I cooked nine
years for Mrs. Dora Gregg. I work whenever I can get work to be done. I
like to sew but they cut me off."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Mike Thompson, Widener, Arkansas
Age: 79

"I was born near Honey Grove, Texas. I remember my grandparents on both
sides--they were all Thompsons. They were cotton and corn farmers. I
don't know where they come from. I was so small and as soon as the War
was done a whole gang of us come from Texas to Dardanelle, Arkansas.

"The Bushwhackers was so bad we was guarded to the line and they went
back. We come in wagons. Bushwhackers was robbers. I remember that. My
grandparents and parents all come in the gang. Clem Thompson, my owner,
died. He had a family. I don't know what become of none but Ed Thompson.
We was the same age and growed up together. I worked for him at
Dardanelle but I don't know how he come from Texas. He butchered and
peddled meat and had a shop too. I don't think Ed owned land over at
Dardanelle but my father owned eighty acres over there when he died. My
father was Cubit Thompson. His father was Plato Thompson. My mother was
Harriett Thompson.

"The Thompsons was fairly good to their niggers, I recken. Ed was good
to me. He promised me I should never want but I don't know if he be dead
or not. I wish I could hear from him.

"When I was about twenty-five years old I was coming in home from town
one night. I seen his house on fire. I kept going fast as I could run,
woke him up. He run out but his wife didn't. He said, 'My wife! my wife!
my wife!' I run in where he run out. She was standing back in a corner
the flames nearly all around her. I picked her up and run out and about
that time the whole house fell in. They never got through thanking me.
I come off over here and never hear a word from him. He always said I
saved their lives and hers mostly.

"Times--young men can get work if they will go to the field and work.
If you can't work, times is hard two ways. If you are used to work, you
hard to get contentment and loss of the money too. Money don't buy much.
Awful sight of cotton and you don't get much out of it. Young folks is
got young notions.

"I come to Widener in 1908. I made a good living. I own this house. Now
I got to quit working in bad weather. My rheumatism gets so bad. I'll be
eighty years old 23rd of September this year (1938)."

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person Interviewed: Laura Thornton
1215 W. Twenty-Fourth Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: 105?

"My native home is Alabama. I was born not far from Midway, Alabama,
about twelve miles from Clayton. Midway, Clayton, and Barber are all
nearby towns. We used to go to all of them.

"My master was Tom Eford. When he died, I fell to Polly Eford. Polly
Eford was the old lady. I don't know where they is and they don't know
nothing about where I is. It's been so long. Because I done lef' Alabama
fifty years. I don't know whether any of them is living or not. It's
been so long.

"Their baby boy was named Giles Eford. His mother was Miami Eford and my
father's name was Perry Eford. That is the name he went in. My mother
went in that name too. My father died the second year of the surrender.
My mother was a widow a long time. I was a grown-up woman and had
children when my father died.

"I married during slavery time. I don't remember just how old I was
then. My old man knows my age, but I can't remember it. But he's
been dead this year makes thirteen years. I had one child before the
surrender. I was just married to the one man. I was married after the
surrender. I don't want to be married again. I never seed a man I would
give a thought to since he died. Lord knows how long we'd been married
before he died.

"We came here and stayed four years and we bought a home down on Arch
Street Pike about ten miles from here. I lived there sixty years. I've
got the tax receipts for sixty years back. I ain't never counted the
ones I paid since he's been dead.

"I was the mother of three children and none of them are living. All of
them dead but me.

"They made like they was goin' to give old slave folks a pension. They
ain't gimme none yit. I'm just livin' on the mercy of the people. I
can't keep up the taxes now. I wish I could git a pension. It would help
keep me up till I died. They won't even as much as give me nothin' on
the relief. They say these grandchildren ought to keep me up. I have to
depend on them and they can't hardly keep up theirselves.

"When the Civil War broke out, my baby was about seven years old. My
mother was here when the stars fell. She had one child then.

"I remember a war before the Civil War. I heard the white folks talking
about it. They wouldn't tell colored folks nothing. They'd work them to
death and beat them to death. They'd sell them just like you sell hogs.
My mother was sold from me when I was little. Old lady Eford, she was
my mistress and mammy too. If she ever slapped me, I don't know nothin'
'bout it.

"My daddy made his farm jus' like colored people do now. White man would
give him so much ground if he'd a mind to work it. He had a horse he

"We lived a heap better than the people live now. They fed you then.
You ate three times a day. When twelve o'clock come, there dinner was,
cooked and ready. Nothin' to do but eat it, and then set down and res'
with the other people. There was them that was good.

"But them what was mean done the colored folks bad.

Early Days

"I was little when my mother was sold from me. I was runnin' about
though in the yard. I couldn't do nothing. But I was a smart girl. The
first work I can remember doin' was goin' to the field ploughing. That
is the first thing I remember. I was little. I just could come up to the
plough. I cut logs when I was a little child like them children there
(children about ten years old playing in the street). I used to clean up
new ground--do anything.

"My mother and father both worked in the field. My father was sold away
from me jus' like my mother was. Old lady Eford was my mother and father
too. That was in Clayton, Alabama. Old Tom Eford had three boys--one
named Tom, one named William, and there was the one named Giles what I
told you about. William was the oldest, Tom was the second, and Giles
was the youngest.

"I never learnt to read and write. In slave time, they didn't let you
have no books. My brother though was a good reader. He could write as
well as any of them because he would be with the white children and they
would show him. That is the way my brother learnt. He would lay down all
day Sunday and study. The good blessed Lord helped him.


"The man I married was on the plantation. They married in slave time
just like they do these days. When I married, the justice of peace
married me. That was after freedom, our folks would give big weddings
just like they do now (just after the war). I ain't got my license now.
Movin' 'round, it got lost. I was married right at home where me and my
old man stayed. Wasn't nobody there but me and him and another man named
Dr. Bryant. That wasn't far from Midway.

"I can't talk much since I had those strokes. Can't talk plain, just
have to push it out, but I thank God I can do that much. The Lord let me
stay here for some reason--I don't know what. I would rather go, but he
ain't called me.

How the Day Went

"We got up after daylight. Tom Eford didn't make his folks git up early.
But after he was dead and gone, things changed up. The res' made 'em git
up before daylight. He was a good man. The Lord knows. Yes Lord, way
before day. You'd be in the field to work way before day and then work
way into the night. The white folks called Eford's colored people poor
white folks because he was so good to them. Old Tom Eford was the
sheriff of Clayton.

"His folks came back to the house at noon and et their dinner at the
house. He had a cook and dinner was prepared for them just like it was
for the white folks. The colored woman that cooked for them had it ready
when they came there for it. They had a great big kitchen and the hands
ate there. They came back to the same place for supper. And they didn't
have to work late either. Old Tom Eford never worked his hands extra.
That is the reason they called his niggers poor-white folks. Folks lived
at home them days and et in the same place. When my old man was living,
I had plenty. Smokehouse was full of good meat. Now everything you git,
you have to buy.

"Next morning, they all et their breakfast in the same kitchen. They et
three meals a day every day. My mother never cooked except on Sunday.
She didn't need to.


"Me and old lady Eford would be out in the yard and I would hear her
cuss the pateroles because they didn't want folks to 'buse their
niggers. They had to git a pass from their masters when they would be
out. If they didn't have a pass, the pateroles would whip them.


"The jayhawkers would catch folks and carry them out in the woods and
hang them up. They'd catch you and beat you to death.


"Colored folks what would run away, old lady Eford would call them
'rottenheads' and 'bloody bones.' We would hear the hounds baying after
them and old lady Eford would stand out in the yard and cuss them--cuss
the hounds I mean. Like that would do any good. Some slaves would kill
theirselves before they would be caught. They would hear them dogs. I
have seen old Tom Eford. He would have them dogs. He was sheriff and he
had to do it. He carried them dogs. He would be gone two weeks before
he would be back sometimes. Alden or Alton was the place they said they
carried the runaways.

Slave Breeding

"They never kept no slaves for breeding on any plantation I heard of.
They would work them to death and breed them too. There was places where
old massa kept one for hisself.


"Folks had heap more pleasure than they do now in slave time. They had
parties and dances and they would bow 'round. They had fiddles and
danced by them. Folks danced them days. They don't dance now, just mess
around. My brother could scrape the fiddle and dance on, all at the same
time. Folks would give big suppers and ask people out. They would feed
nice times with one another. Folks ain't got no love in their hearts
like they used to have.

"Folks would give quiltings. They don't think about quilting now. They
would quilt out a quilt and dance the rest of the night. They would have
a big supper at the quilting. Nice time too. They would kill a hog and
barbecue it. They would cook chicken. Have plenty of whiskey too. Some
folks would get drunk. That was whiskey them days. They ain't got no
whiskey now--old poison stuff that will kill people.

My daddy was jus' drunk all the time. He had plenty of whiskey. That was
what killed old Tom Eford. He kept it settin' on the dresser all the
time. You couldn't walk in his house but what you would see it time you
got in. Folks hide it now. I have drunk a many a glass of it. I would go
and take a glass whenever I wanted to.

How Freedom Came

"The old white folks told me I was free. They had me hired out. I wasn't
staying with my owner. There wasn't nobody there with me but the white
folks where I was staying. That morning I got up to get breakfast
and there wasn't no fire and there wasn't so matches. I went to some
neighbors to get a chunk of fire and they told me to go back to my folks
because I was free. When I got back to the house they was mad and wanted
to whip me. So I just put the fire down and never cooked no breakfast
but jus' went on to my brother's. The reason they wanted to whip me was
because I had gone outside of the house without their knowing it.

"When I went to my brother's, I had to walk twelve miles. My brother
carried me to my mother and father. And then he took me back to old lady
Eford, and she told me to go on to my mother, that I was free now. So he
took me on back to my ma and pa. He said he'd do that so that I could
stay with them.

Slave Earnings

"Slaves had money in slave time. My daddy bought a horse. He made a crop
every year. He made his bale of cotton. He made corn to feed his horse
with. He belonged to his white folks but he had his house and lot right
next to theirs. They would give him time you know. He didn't have to
work in the heat of the day. He made his crop and bought his whiskey.
The white folks fed 'im. He had no expenses 'cept tending to his crop.
He didn't have to give Tom Eford anything he made. He just worked his
crop in his extra time. Many folks too lazy to git theirselves somethin'
when they have the chance to do it. But my daddy wasn't that kind. His
old master gave him the ground and he made it give him the money.

"My daddy left me plenty but I ain't got it now. I didn't care what
happened when he died. People made out like they was goin' to put my
money in the bank for me and took it and destroyed it. Used it for
theirselves I reckon. Now I need it and ain't got it--ain't got a
penny. For five or six years at my home, I made good crops. We raised
everything we needed at home. Didn't know what it was to come to town to
buy anything. If anybody had told me twenty years ago I would be in this
shape, I wouldn't have believed it because I had plenty.

What Slaves Got When Freed

"They said they was gwine a give the slaves something, but they never
did do it. Then the master made out like he was gwine a give the slaves
so much if they stayed 'round and made his crops for him, but he didn't
do it.

Come Again

"If the Lord lets you git back tomorrow, try and come a little sooner in
the day than you did today. I gits up about six in the morning. I don't
believe in layin' in bed late. I go to bed directly after dark and I
wake up early. The Lord never did mean for nobody to sleep all day."

Interviewer's Comment

A number of people testify to Laura Thornton's age. I am trying to check
up on it. Results later. If she isn't a hundred [HW: and] five years
old, she is "mighty nigh" it. She has feeble health, but a surprisingly
alert mind, and a keen sharp memory. She has a tendency to confuse
Reconstruction times with slavery times, but a little questioning always
brings out the facts.

She doesn't like to talk much about marriage in slavery. Evidently she
dislikes the fact that one of her children ms born before emancipation.
She was evidently married only once, as questioning brought out; but she
will refer to the marriage before emancipation and the one afterward as
though they were to different persons.

[HW: Curtis, Ark.
Emma (Bama?) Tidwell]



Ah'm one uv dem ole timers. Ah been here since way back yonder. Fust
thing ah kin member is a bad storm an mah ma put us undah de baid. She
wuz skeered hit would blow us away. Ah use tuh play till ah got bigger
nuff tuh work. Ah member we use tuh play runnin. We'd play walkin tuh
see which one uv us could walk de fastest tuh de field tuh carry dinner.
We use tuh jump an we use tuh ride stick hosses an limbs offn trees.

Ole boss learnt mah pa how tuh make shoes an de way he done: Dey kilt a
cow an a deer an take dey hides an tanned dem. De way he tanned hit wuz
tuh take red oak bark an white oak bark an put in vats. Dese vats wuz
somethin like troughs dat helt water an he put a layer uv oak ashes
an or layer uv ashes an a layer uv leather till he got hit all in an
covered wid water. Aftuh dat dey let hit soak till de hair come offn de
hide den dey would take de hide oft an hit wuz ready fuh tannin. Den de
hide wuz put tuh soak in wid de redoak bark. Hit stayed in de water till
de hide turnt tan den pa took de hide out uv de redoak dye an hit would
be a purty tan. Hit didn' have tuh soak so long. Den he would git his
pattern an cut an make tan shoes outn dat tanned hide. We called dem
brogans. We all wore shoes cause mah pa made em.

We planted indigo an hit growed jes like wheat. When hit got ripe we
gathered hit an we would put hit in a barrel an let hit soak bout er
week den we would take de indigo stems out an squeeze all de juice outn
dem, put de juice back in de barrel an let hit stay dere bout nother
week, den we jes stirred an stirred one whole day. We let hit set three
or four days den drained de water offn hit an dat left de settlings an
de settlings wuz blueing jes like we have dese days. We cut ours in
little blocks. Den we dyed clothes wid hit. We had purty blue cloth. De
way we set de color we put alumn in hit. Dat make de color stay right

Ah'll tell yuh how tuh dye. Er little beech bark dyes slate color set
wid copper. Hickory bark an bay leaves dyes yellow set wid chamber lye;
bamboo dyes turkey red, set color wid copper. Pine straw an sweetgum
dyes purple, set color wid chamber lye. Ifn yuh dont bleave hit try em

Mah ma made cloth while mah pa made shoes. Ah member jes as good when
dey handcuff mah ma's two brothers tuh keep um from runnin off when dey
got ready tuh sell em. Ah seed um handcuff as many as eight tugethuh
when dey marched dem tuh de pen. Yuh know dey had uh pen kinder like de
pond pen fer cows an hosses. Well dey would drive us niggers tuh de pond
pen an dey had er big block in de pen an dey put one uv us niggers on
hit at a time. Bid us off tuh de highest bidder. Mah ole boss wuz a
gambler. People talk bout dis gamblin an drinkin bein a late thing--dem
white fokes done hit way back yonder 90 years ergo, cause mah ole boss
gambled me off, ah clare he did. Gambled me off one Sunday mornin'. Ole
Boss made whiskey jes like dey do tuhday.

Black preachers couldn' preach tuh us. Ole boss would tie em tuh a tree
an whoop em if dey caught us eben praying. We had er big black washpot
an de way we prayed we'd go out an put our mouths to der groun an pray
low an de sound wud go up under de pot an ole boss couldn' bear us. De
white preacher would call us under a tree Sunday evenin tuh preach tuh
us. Dis is whut his text would be: "Mind yo mistress." Den he would ceed
tuh preach--"Don't steal der potatoes; don't lie bout nothin an don'
talk back tuh yo boss; ifn yo does yo'll be tied tuh a tree an stripped
neckid. When dey tell yuh tuh do somethin run an do it." Dat's de kind
uv gospel we got.

We cooked on fiuhplaces in er iron pot; cooked bread in a ubben. We had
ash cakes. We et purty good.

Ah didn go tuh school. Ah wuz awful sly. Ah wanted tuh learn tuh read so
ah hung eroun ole mistess when she wuz teachin huh chillun tuh read. Ah
listened an when she put de book down an went out ah got de book. Ah
kep' hit up till ah learnt tuh read. Ah been teachin one Bible class in
Curtis 42 years. Some uv em dare ask me how ah learnt tuh read so good
an ah tole dem dat a person dat couldn' learn tuh read in a hunnert
years ought tuh be daid.

Ah wuz twenty-two when de silver war broke. Ah know when hit started
but ah don' know whut hit wuz erbout. All I know Jeff Davis an Abraham
Lincoln wuz de two presidents. Lincoln wuz somethin like regular
president an Jeff Davis wuz somethin like er confedric president or
somethin. Ah didn' know jes how hit wuz. Jeff Davis ah think wuz er
rebel and Lincoln republic. When de fight come up dey wuzn fightin tuh
set de niggers free, ah don' think. At de time dey wuz fightin ovah de
Union but aftuh de slave owners wuz gwianter take de innocent slaves an
make dem fight on dey side. Den Lincoln said hit wouldn' be. So dat when
he sot em free. Whoopee! Yo ought ter seed dem Yankees fightin. Aftuh de
battle wuz ovah we would walk ovah de battle groun' an look at de daid
bones, skellums ah think dey called em. Aftuh de white fokes tole us we
wuz free dey didn' give us nothin. Turnt us out widout a place tuh stay,
no clo'es but whut we had on our back an nuthin tuh eat. We jes slept
undah trees an roun bout. Didn' have nuthin tuh eat cept parched corn.
We stole dat. Had tuh do somethin. De nex year de white fokes let us
make a crop wid den fuh somethin tuh eat an clo'es an de women could
work fuh a few clo'es an somethin tuh eat. So in er year er two niggers
went tuh tryin tuh duh somethin fuh demselves, an been tryin tuh help
dey selfs evah since. Ah know all bout hit. Ah wuz tall an ah is now
when dey cried "Free!" Ain't growed nairy nother inch.

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Joe Tillman
W. 10th and Highway No. 79
Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 79

"I was born in 1859 down here at Walnut Lake. The man what owned us was
Crum Holmes.

"All I can remember was the patrollers and the Ku Klux. I reckon I ought
to, I seed 'em. I got skeered and run. I heered 'em talk 'bout how
they'd do the folks and we chillun thought they'd do us the same way.

"I 'member hearin' 'em talk 'bout the Yankees--how they'd come through
there and how they used to do.

"I guess we had plenty to eat. All I know was when I got ready to eat, I
could eat.

"My parents was brought from Tennessee but all the place I know anything
about is Walnut Lake.

"I know my mother said I was the cause of her gettin' a lot of
whippin's. I'd run off and the boss man whipped her cause she wasn't
keepin' me at home. If he didn't whip her, he'd pull her ears.

"When we was comin' up they didn't 'low the chillun to sit around where
the old folks was talkin'. And at night when company come in, we chillun
had to go to bed out the way. Sometimes I'm glad of it. See so many
chillun now gettin' into trouble.

"I never been arrested in my life. Been a witness once or twice--that's
the only way I ever been in court. If I'd a been like a lot of 'em, I
might a been dead or in the pen.

"In them days, if we did something wrong, anybody could whip us and if
we'd go tell our folks we get another whippin'.

"After freedom my parents stayed there and worked by the day. They
didn't have no privilege of sellin' the cotton though.

"I didn't start to farm till I was 'bout twelve years old. They started
me bustin' out the middles till I learnt how and then they put the
plowin' in my hands.

"White people been pretty good to me 'cause I done what they told me.

"I went to school a little 'long about '70. I learnt how to read and
kept on till I could write a little.

"I used to vote 'til they stopped us. I used to vote right along, but I
stopped foolin' with it. 'Course we can vote in the president election
but I got so I couldn't see what ticket I was votin', so I stopped
foolin' with it.

"I farmed till 'bout '94, then I worked at the compress and brick work."

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: J.T. Tims
111 Mosaic Temple, Ninth and Broadway
Little Rock, Arkansas
Age: 86
Occupation: Cook, waiter, and farmer

"I was born in Jefferson County, Mississippi in 1853. That would make me
eighty-six years old. I was born six miles from Fayette--six miles east
of Fayette. I was eighty-six years old the eleventh day of September.

"My father's name was Daniel Tims, and my mother's name was Ann Tims. My
mother was born in Lexington, Kentucky. Ma's been dead years and years
ago, and my father is gone too. My mother's name before she married was
----; she she told it to us all right but I just never can think of it.

"I don't know the name of my mother's master. But my father's master
was named Blount Steward. Pa was born on Blount's plantation and Blount
bought my ma because they brought her from Kentucky for sale. They had
her for sale just like you would sell hogs and mules. Then my father saw
her and liked her and married her. She was a slave too.


"Blount Steward was kinder good. He was very well till the war
started--the Federal War. Miss Ann went to whip me for nothing.


"I was carrying her daughter to school every day except Saturdays and
Sundays. One day, Miss Ann was off and I was at the back steps playing
and she decided to whip me. I told her I hadn't done nothing but she put
my head between her legs and started to beatin' me. And I bit her legs.
She lemme loose and hollered. Then she called for William to come and
beat me. William was one of the colored slaves. William come to do it.
Ma had been peeping out from the kitchen watchin' the whole thing. When
William come up to beat me, she came out with a big carving knife and
told him, 'That's my child and if you hit him, I'll kill you.'

"Then she sent for Tully to come and whip me, I mean to whip my mother.
Tully was my young master. Tully came and said to my mother, 'I know you
ain't done nothin' nor your child neither, but I'll have to hit you a
few light licks to satisfy ma.'

"Blount come the next day and went down to where pa was making shoes. He
said, 'Daniel, you're looking mighty glum.'

"Pa said, 'You'd be lookin' glum too if your wife and chile had done
been beat up for nothin'.'

"When he said that, Blount got mad. He snatched up a shoe hammer and hit
pa up side the head with it.

"Pa said, 'By God, don't you try it again.'

"Blount didn't hit him again. Pa was ready to fight, and he wasn't sure
that he could whip him. Pa said, 'You won't hit me no more.' The war was
goin' on then.


"The following Sunday night, twelve head of 'em left there. My ma and
pa and me and our whole family and some more besides was along. We went
from the plantation to Rodney, Mississippi first, trying to get on a
steamboat--gunboat. The gunboat wouldn't take us for fear we would get
hurt. The war was goin' on then. So we just transferred down the river
and went on to Natchez. We went there walking and wading. We was from
Sunday night to Sunday night gettin' there. We didn't have no trouble
'sept that the hounds ms runnin' us. But they didn't catch us--they
didn't catch none of us. My ma and my pa and my brothers and sisters
besides me was all in the crowd; and we all got to Natchez.

"They are all dead and gone to Judgment now but me. I think that I got
one sister in Chicago, Illinois. She is my baby sister. I ain't never
heard nothing about her bein' dead.


"At Natchez, ma didn't do anything. We children didn't do nothin' either
there. But pa joined the army. He joined it the next day after he got
there. Then I went to work waiting on the sixty-fourth--lemme see--yes,
it was the Sixty-Fourth Brass Epaulettes. I was waiting on one of the
sergeants. He was a Yankee sergeant. The sergeant's name was Josephus,
and the captain of the Company was Lieutenant Knowles. I was with them
two years and six months. I never did get hurt. When they went to fight
at New Orleans, the captain wouldn't lemme take part in it. He said that
I was so brave he was a 'fraid I might get hurt.

"Me and my father were the only ones working in the family at that time.
I stayed right in Natchez but my father didn't. My father's first stop
was in Bullocks Bar right above Vidalia. That was where his company was
stationed first. Lemme see, he went from there to Davis Bend. I wasn't
with them. He was in a colored regiment. I was with a white regiment.
He left Davis Bend and want to Vicksburg. His next trip was up the
Sunflower River. His next trip he went from there up here to De Valls
Bluff. That is where he come free. That was the end of the fighting
there--right there.

"From there he come back to Rodney. We all want to Davis Bend while pa
was there. When he left and went to De Valls Bluff, ma went to Rodney.
I stayed with the soldiers two years and a half down there at Natchez.
That's as far as I went with them. When they left I stayed.

"I went to Rodney with my mother and stayed with her and the rest of the
children till she died. My ma died in 1874. My father died down here in
Pine Bluff several years ago. After ma died, pa married another woman.
He went back to Pine Bluff and was killed by a train when he was
crossing a trestle.

Age and Other Masters

"Blount Steward was the only master any of us ever had, outside of my
ma's first master--the one in Kentucky. I don't know anything about
them. I was eight years old when the war began and twelve years old when
it ended. I must have been older than that because I was twelve years
old when I was serving them soldiers. And I had to come away from them
before the war was over.

Slave Work

"The first work I ever did in slave time was dining-room service. When I
left the dining-room table, I left carrying my young mistress to school
six miles from Fayette. They give me to Lela, my young mistress. She was
the young girl I was carrying to school when I got the whipping. When
ol' mis' was whippin' me, I asked her what she was whipping me for, and
she said, 'Nothin', 'cause you're mine, and I can whip you if I want
to.' She didn't think that I had done anything to the girl. She was just
mad that day, and I was around; so she took it out on me. After that, I
never did any more work as a slave, because the whole family ran away
about that time. I don't reckon pa would ever have run off if ol' miss
hadn't whipped me and if ol' massa hadn't struck him. They rats good
till then; but it looked like the war made them mean.

Patrollers, Jayhawkers, Ku Klux, and Ku Klux Klan

"They had pateroles going 'round watching the colored people to keep
them from running off. That's all I know 'bout them. I don't remember
hearin' anything about the jayhawkers.

"I heard lots 'bout the Ku Klux. They were terrible. The white folks had
one another goin' 'round watching and keeping them from runnin' off. The
Ku Klux would whip people they caught out. They would whip them just
because they could; because they called themselves bosses, because they
was white and the colored people was niggers. They didn't do nothin' but
just keep the slaves down. It was before the war that I knew 'bout the
Ku Klux. There wasn't no difference between the pateroles and the Ku
Klux that I knows of. If they'd ketch you, they all would whip you. I
don't know nothin' about the Ku Klux Klan after the war. I know they
broke them up.

Slave Houses, Furniture, Food, and Work

"Before the war, we lived in a old log house. It had one window, one
door, and one room. Colored people didn't have no two or three-room
houses before the war. I'll tell you that right now. All the furniture
we had was bed stools and quilts. 'Course we had them old stools that pa
made. We kept food right there in the house where we was in one corner.
We didn't have no drawers--nothing like that. The white folks fed us.
They give us as much as they thought we ought to have. Every Saturday
night you would go to the smokehouse and get your meat and meal and your
molasses. Didn't get no flour, no coffee, no sugar. Pa was an ox driver
and when he would go to Rodney to carry cotton, he would buy sugar and
coffee for himself. You see, they would slip a little something and make
a little money off it. Like they was goin' to Rodney tomorrow, they
would slip and kill a couple of hogs and carry them along with them.
That was the only way they could get a little money. My pa's main work
was shoemaking, but he worked in the field too. He was a driver chiefly
when he was out in the field. He hoed and plowed. He was the leader of
the gang. He never got a chance to make no money for hisself before the
war. Nope, the colored people didn't have no money 'tall lessen they
slipped and got it.

Slave Marriages

"Say I wanted this woman for my wife. We would just put down the broom
and step over it and we would be married. That is all there was to it
before emancipation. Didn't have no matrimony read nor nothing. You were
married when you stepped over the broom handle. That was your wife.

A Lincoln Story

"They say Abe Lincoln come down in this part of the country and asked
for work. He had his little grip just like you got. The man said, 'Wait
till I go to dinner.' Didn't say, 'Come to dinner,' and didn't say
nothin' 'bout, 'Have dinner.' Just said, 'Wait till I go eat my dinner.'
When he come back, Abe Lincoln was up there looking over his books. He'd
done changed his clothes and everything. He had guards with him but they
didn't see 'em. That is the story I heard them tell.

What the Slaves Got

"When the slaves got freed, they wasn't expecting to get nothing that
I knows of 'cept what they worked for. They weren't spectin' no forty
acres and a mule. Who was goin' to give it to 'em? The Rebs? They didn't
give 'em nothin' but what they could put on their backs--I mean lashes.

"Blount had stocks that he used to put them in. The stocks had hinges on
one side and latches on the other. The nigger would put his head in one
hole and his arms through the others, and the old man would eat on the
other end. Your feet would be stretched out and you would be layin' on
your belly.

"Blount whipped me once because I wouldn't go to the cow barns to get
the milk to put in the coffee that morning. I didn't have time. They had
given me to Lela, and I had to take her to school. I was 'sponsible if
she was late. He had give me to Lela. Next morning with her, and we
didn't come back till Friday evening. She went down to her Aunt Leona
Harrison's and carried me with her. She was mad because they whipped me
when I belonged to her.

"After slavery, we worked by the month on people's plantations. I did
that kind of work till after a while the white people got so they rented
the colored people land and selled them mules for their work. Then some
worked on shares and some rented and worked for theirselves. Right after
the war most of the farms were worked on shares. We were lucky to be
able to get to work by the month.


"I went to school in Natchaz, Mississippi. My teacher came from the
North, I suppose. But those I had in Rodney, I know they come from the
North. Miss Mary--that's all the name I knowed--and Miss Emma were my
teachers in Rodney. They come from Chicago; I never went to school here.
I didn't get no farther than the second grade. I stopped school to go
work when the teacher went back to Chicago. After that I went to work in
the field and made me a living. I hadn't done but a little work in the
field helping pa now and then before that.


"I married a long time ago in Rodney. Lord, it's been so long ago I
couldn't tell you when. I been married four times. They all quit me for
other men. I didn't quit none of them.

Present Condition

"I get along tolerably now for an old man. The welfare gives me a little
help. But I have to pay five dollars for these two rooms every month.
What's more, I got to eat, and I got to have somethin' to wear.
Washington won't allow me nothin' for my army service. They say I wasn't
regular. I gets eight dollars from the Welfare.


"The young people's terrible. They rather go to the penitentiary or the
county farm or get killed than to do what is right.

Voting and Vocational Experiences

"I used to vote. I never had no trouble about it.

"They tried to whip me once since freedom, but not about votin'. A man
tried to whip me down in Stoneville because another man give me a drink.
He tried to cut me with his knife. I knocked him down. I told him I
could kill him, but I just didn't want to. While I was swearing out a
warrant to get him arrested, he went and got a gun somewheres. He came
right on in with his pistol and struck me with it. I knocked him down
again, and he was dead for twenty-five minutes. They didn't have to go
nowheres to serve the warrant on him. Nobody did anything to me about

"I come to Little Rock fifty years ago or more. I farmed as long as I
was able. Doctor stopped me when I began to fall out.

"I cooked for Dr. Stone and his wife for ten years in Greenville,
Mississippi. Then I come to Pine Bluff on a vacation. The next time they
give me a vacation, I stayed away for eleven years. I went to get some
money Dr. Stone owed me for some work I had done for him once and he
wanted me to come back and cook again. I didn't do that and he died
without paying me for the work. He said it was his brother that owed me.
But it was him that hired me. I 'tended to some mules for nine months
at four dollars a week. I never got but one four dollars. The miles
belonged to him and his brother both, but it was him that hired me. It
wasn't Captain Stone, his brother. It was him, and I looked to the man
that hired me for my money. I didn't have nothing to do with nobody but
him. It was him promised to pay me."

Interviewer's Comment

Throughout his story Tims carefully avoided using his first name. Never
at any time did he let it slip.

The capture of New Orleans was effected in 1862. If the troop with which
he worked took part in the capture, he must have been twelve years old
by 1862, and his age must be at least eighty-eight. But this would be
inconsistent with his statement that he served Sergeant Josephus for two
years and a half. The detachment might have gone to New Orleans later
than '62. At any rate, Tims is at least eighty-five, and possibly older.
Here again we have a definite conviction of the use of the word Ku Klux
before the War. The way he talks of it, the term might have been a
colloquial term applied to a jayhawker or a patroller. He doesn't mean
Ku Klux Klan when he says Ku Klux.

The Lincoln story is included on my part merely because it is at least
legendary material. I don't know what basis of fact it could or might

Interviewer: S.S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Hannah Travis,
3219 W. Sixteenth,
Little Rock, Ark.
Age: 75
Occupation: Housewife

"The Jay Hawkers would travel at night. When they came to a cabin, they
would go in and tell them that owned it they wanted something to eat and
to get it ready quick. They stopped at one place and went in and ordered
their dinner. They et the supper and went away and got sick after they

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