A Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves
TYPEWRITTEN RECORDS PREPARED BY THE FEDERAL WRITERS' PROJECT 1936-1938 ASSEMBLED BY THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS PROJECT WORK PROJECTS ADMINISTRATION FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA SPONSORED BY THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
Illustrated with Photographs
Prepared by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of Arkansas
Jackson, Clarice 1, 3 Jackson, Israel 5 Jackson, Lula 9, 18 Jackson, Mary 20 Jackson, Taylor 22 Jackson, Virginia 26 Jackson, William 28 Jamar, Lawson 30 James, Nellie 32 James, Robert 34 Jefferson, Ellis 36 Jeffries, Moses 38 Jefson, Rev. Ellis 43 Jenkins, Absolom 47 Jerman, Dora 50 Johnson, Adaline 52 Johnson, Alice 59 Johnson, Allen 63 Johnson, Annie 67 Johnson, Ben 70, 72 Johnson, Betty 73 Johnson, Cinda 76 Johnson, Ella 77 Johnson, Fanny 84 Johnson, George 91 Johnson, John 94 Johnson, Letha 98 Johnson, Lewis 100 Johnson, Lizzie 102 Johnson, Louis 104 Johnson, Mag 107 Johnson, Mandy 110 Johnson, Marion 112, 115, 120 Johnson, Martha 122 Johnson, Millie (Old Bill) 124 Johnson, Rosie 126 Johnson, Saint 128 Johnson, Willie 130 Jones, Angeline 134 Jones, Charlie 136 Jones, Cynthia 138 Jones, Edmund 141 Jones, Eliza 143 Jones, Evelyn 145 Jones, John 148 Jones, John 149 Jones, Lidia (Lydia) 151, 153 Jones, Liza (Cookie) 155 Jones, Lucy 158 Jones, Mary 159 Jones, Mary 163 Jones, Nannie 164 Jones, Reuben 166 Jones, Vergil 169 Jones, Walter 171 Junell, Oscar Felix 173
Keaton, Sam 175 Kendricks, Tines 177, 186 Kennedy, Frank 189 Kerns, Adreanna [TR: Adrianna?] W. 191 Key, George 196 Key, Lucy 198 King, Anna 201, 205 King, Mose 207 King, Susie 210 Kirk, William 214 Krump, Betty 216 Kyles, Rev. Preston 220, 222
Lagrone, Susa 223 Laird, Barney A. 225 Lamar, Arey 228 Lambert, Solomon 229 Larkin, Frank 235, 236, 239 Lattimore, William 242 Lawsom, Bessie 244 Lee, Henry 247 Lee, Mandy 250 Lee, Mary 251 Lewis, Talitha 252 Lindsay, Abbie 255 Lindsey, Rosa 260 Little, William 262 Lofton, Minerva 264 Lofton, Robert 267 Logan, John H. 274 Lomack, Elvie 281 Long, Henry 284 Love, Annie 290 Love, Needham 292 Lucas, Louis 297 Luckado, Lizzie 304 Luckett, John 306 Lynch, John 307 Lynch, Josephine Scott 310
Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden Person interviewed: Clarice Jackson Eighteenth and Virginia, Pine Bluff, Arkansas Age: 82
"I was six or seven when they begin goin' to the Civil War. We had a big old pasture opposite and I know they would bring the soldiers there and drill 'em.
"Oh my God, don't talk about slavery. They kept us in so you know we couldn't go around.
"But if they kept 'em a little closer now, the world would be a better place. I'm so glad I raised my children when they was raisin' children. If I told 'em to do a thing, they did it 'cause I would always know what was best. I got here first you know.
"People now'days is just shortening their lives. The Lord is pressin' us now tryin' to press us back. But thank God I'm saved.
"Did you ever see things like they is now?
"I looks at the young folks and it seems like they is all in a hurry—looks like they is on the last round.
"These here seabirds, (a music machine called seaburg—ed.) is ruinin' the young folks.
"I feels my age now, but I thank the Lord I got a home and got a little income.
"My children can't help me—ain't got nothin' to help with but a little washin'. My daughter been bustin' the suds for a livin' 'bout thirty-two years now.
"I never went to school. My dad put me to work after freedom and then when schools got so numerous, I got too big. Ain't but one thing I want to learn this side of the River, is to read the Bible. I wants to confirm Jesus' words.
"The fus' place we went after we left the home place durin' of the war, we went to Wolf Creek. And then they pressed 'em so close we went to Red River. And they pressed 'em so close again we went to Texas and that's where we was when freedom come.
"That was in July and they closed the crap (crop) and then six weeks 'fore Christmas they loaded the wagons and started back to Arkansas. We come back to the Johnson place and stayed there three years, then my father rented the Alexander place on the Tamo.
"I stayed right there till I married. I married quite young, but I had a good husband. I ain't sayin' this just 'cause he's sleepin' but ever'body will tell you he was good to me. Made a good livin' and I wore what I wanted to.
"He come from South Carolina way before the war. Come from Abbeville. They was emigratin' the folks.
"I tell you all I can, but I won't tell you nothin' but the truth."
Owns her home and lives on the income from rental property.
Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden Person interviewed: Clarice Jackson 1738 Virginia Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas Age: 84
"Was I here in slavery days? Well, I remember when the soldiers went to war. Oh, I'm old—I ain't no baby. But I been well taken care of—I been treated well.
"I was bred and born right here in Arkansas and been livin' here all the time 'cept when they said the Yankees was comin'. I know we was just closin' up a crop. They put us in wagons and carried us to Wolf Creek in Texas and then they carried us to Red River. That was because it would be longer 'fore we found out we was free and they would get more work out a us.
"Old master's name was Robert Johnson and they called him Bob.
"After freedom they brought us back to Arkansas and put the colored folks to workin' on the shares. Yes'm they said they got their share. They looked like they was well contented. They stayed three or four years. We was treated more kinder and them that was not big enough to work was let go to school. I went to school awhile and then I had a hard spell of sickness—it was this slow fever. I was sick five or six weeks and it was a long time 'fore I could get my health so I didn't try to go to school no more. Seemed like I forgot everything I knowed.
"When I was fifteen I got tired of workin' so hard so I got married, but I found out things was wusser. But my husband was good to me. Yes ma'm, he was a good man and nice to me. He was a good worker. He was deputy assessor under Mr. Triplett and he was a deputy sheriff and then he was a magistrate. Oh, he was a up-to-date man. He went to school after we was married and wanted me to go but I thought too much of my childun. When he died, 'bout two years ago, he left me this house and two rent houses. Yes ma'm, he was a good man.
"They ain't nothin' to this here younger generation. Did you ever see 'em goin' so fast? They won't take time to let you tell 'em anything. They is in a hurry. The world is too fast for me, but thank the Lord my childun is all settled. I got some nieces and nephews though that is goin' too fast.
"Yes'm, I'm gettin' along all right. I ain't got nothin' to complain of."
Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden Person interviewed: Israel Jackson 3505 Short Second, Pine Bluff, Arkansas Age: 78
"My name's Israel Jackson. No ma'am, I wasn't born in Arkansas—born in Yaller Bush County, Mississippi August de third, 1860.
"My old master? Called him General—General Bradford. I don't know where he was but he was gone somewhere. Don't know her name—just called her missis.
"Yas'm, I was big enough to work. Dey had me to lead out my young master's horse on de grass. I had a halter on it and one time I laid down and went to sleep. I had de rope tied to my leg and when it come twelve o'clock de horse drag me clear to de house. No ma'am, I didn't wake up till I got to de house. It was my young master's saddle horse.
"Yas'm, I knowed dey was a war 'cause de men come past just as thick. No'm, I wasn't afraid. I kept out of de way. Old missis wouldn't let us get in de way. I 'member dey stopped dere and told us we was free. Lots of de folks went off but my mother kept workin' in de field, and my father didn't leave.
"Old master had us go by his name. Dat's what dey called 'em—all de hands on de place.
"I thought from boyhood he was awful cruel. Didn't 'low us chillun in de white folks' house at all. Had one woman dat cooked. Dey was fifty or a hundred chillun on de place and dey had a big long trough dug out of a log and each chile had a spoon and he'd eat out of dat trough. Yas'm, I 'member dat. Eat greens and milk. As for meat, we didn't know what dat was. My mother would go huntin' at night and get a 'possum to feed us and sometimes old master would ketch her and take it away from her and give her a piece of salt meat. But sometimes she'd bury a 'possum till she had a chance to cook it. And dey'd take sackin' like you make cotton sacks and dye it and make us clothes.
"When de conch would blow at four o'clock every mornin' everybody got up and got ready for de field. Dey'd take dere chillun up to dat big long house. When mother went to de field I'd go along and lead de horse till I got to where dey was workin', then I'd sit down and let the horse eat. I was young and it's been so long.
"No ma'am, I never went to school. No ma'am, can't read or write. Never had no schools as I remember.
"Dey stayed on de place after freedom. No ma'am, dey did not pay 'em. I'se old but I ain't forgot dat. Dey fed theirselves by stealin' and gettin' things in de woods.
"After dem Blue Jackets come in dere General Bradford never did come back and our folks stayed dere and when dey did leave dey went to Sunflower County. After dat we got along better.
"How many brothers and sisters? I b'lieve I had five.
"I stayed with my parents till I was grown. No ma'am, dey didn't 'low us to marry. When we was twenty we was neither man nor boy; we was considered a hobble-de-hoy. And when we got to be twenty-one we was considered a man and your parents turned you loose, a man. So I left home and went to Louisiana. I stayed dere a year, then I went back to Mississippi and worked. I come here to Arkansas twenty-six years ago. Is dis Jefferson? Well, I come here to de west end.
"Since I been here I been workin' at de foundry—Dilley's foundry.
"'Bout two years ago I got sick and broke up and not able to work and Mr. Dilley give me a pension—ten dollars a month. But de wages and hour got here now and I don't know what he's gwine do. When de next pay-day comes he might give me somethin' and he might not.
"Miss, de white folks has done so bad here dat I don't know what dey's gwine a do. Mr. Ed and his father been takin' care of me for twenty years. Dey sure has been takin' care of me. Miss, I can't find no fault of Mr. Ed Dilley at all.
"I can do a little light work but when I work half a day I get nervous and can't do nothin'.
"No ma'am, I never did vote. Dey didn't 'low us to vote. Well, if dey did I didn't know it and I didn't vote.
"Well, Miss, I think de young folks is near to de dogs and de dogs ought to have 'em and bury 'em. Miss, I don't 'cept none of 'em. I wouldn't want to go on and tell you how dey has treated me. Dey ain't no use to ask 'cause I ain't gwine tell you. The people is more wicked and more wuss and ever'thing. I don't think nothin' of 'em.
"Miss, let me tell you de only folks dat showed me any friendly is Mr. Ed Dilley. I worked out dere night and day, Sunday and Monday—any time he called.
"Miss, I ain't never seen any jail house; I ain't never been to police headquarters; I ain't never been called a witness in my life. I try to live right, all I know, and if I do wrong it's somethin' I don't know. I ain't had dat much trouble in my life.
"I went up here to Judge Brewster to see about de pension and he said, 'Got a home?' I said, 'Yes.' 'Got it paid for?' 'Yes.' 'Got a deed?' 'Yes.' 'Got a abstract?' 'Yes.' 'Well, bring it up here and sign it and go get de pension.'
"But I wouldn't do it. Miss, I would starve till I was as stiff as a peckerwood peckin' at a hole 'fore I'd sign anything on my deed. Miss, I wouldn't put a scratch on my deed. I wouldn't trust 'em, wouldn't trust 'em if dey was behind a Winchester."
Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor Person interviewed: Lula Jackson 1808 Valentine Street, Little Rock, Arkansas Age: 79?
"I was born in Alabama, Russell County, on a place called Sand Ridge, about seven miles out from Columbus, Georgia. Bred and born in Alabama. Come out here a young gal. Wasn't married when I come out here. Married when a boy from Alabama met me though. Got his picture. Lula Williams! That was my name before I married. How many sisters do you have? That's another question they ask all the time; I suppose you want to know, too. Two. Where are they? That's another one of them questions they always askin' me. You want to know it, too? I got one in Clarksdale, Mississippi. And the other one is in Philadelphia; no, I mean in Philipp city, Tallahatchie (county). Her name is Bertha Owens and she lives in Philipp city. What state is Philipp city in? That'll be the next question. It is in Mississippi, sir. Now is thar anything else you'd like to know?
"My mother's name was Bertha Williams and my father's name was Fred Williams. I don't know nothing 'bout mama's mother. Yes, her name was Crecie. My father's mother was named Sarah. She got killed by lightning. Crecie's husband was named John Oliver. Sarah's husband was named William Daniel. Early Hurt was mama's master. He had an awful name and he was an awful man. He whipped you till he'd bloodied you and blistered you. Then he would cut open the blisters and drop sealing-wax in them and in the open wounds made by the whips.
"When the Yankees come in, his wife run in and got in the bed between the mattresses. I don't see why it didn't kill her. I don't know how she stood it. Early died when the Yankees come in. He was already sick. The Yankees come in and said, 'Did you know you are on the Yankee line?'
"He said, 'No, by God, when did that happen?'
"They said, 'It happened tonight, G——D—— you.'
"And he turned right on over and done everything on hisself and died. He had a eatin' cancer on his shoulder.
"My mother had so many children that I didn't get to go to school much. She had nineteen children, and I had to stay home and work to help take care of them. I can't write at all.
"I went to school in Alabama, 'round on a colored man's place—Mr. Winters. That was near a little town called Fort Mitchell and Silver Rim where they put the men in jail. I was a child. Mrs. Smith, a white woman from the North, was the second teacher that I had. The first was Mr. Croler. My third teacher was a man named Mr. Nelson. All of these was white. They wasn't colored teachers. After the War, that was. I have the book I used when I went to school. Here is the little Arithmetic I used. Here is the Blue Back Speller. I have a McGuffy's Primer too. I didn't use that. I got that out of the trash basket at the white people's house where I work. One day they throwed it out. That is what they use now, ain't it?
"Here is a book my husband give me. He bought it for me because I told him I wanted a second reader. He said, 'Well, I'll go up to the store and git you one.' Plantation store, you know. He had that charged to his account.
"I used to study my lesson. I turned the whole class down once. It was a class in spelling. I turned the class down on 'Publication'—p-u-b-l-i-c-a-t-i-o-n. They couldn't spell that. But I'll tell the world they could spell it the next day.
"My teacher had a great big crocus sack, and when she got tired of whipping them, she would put them in the sack. She never did put me in that sack one time. I got a whipping mos' every day. I used to fight, and when I wasn't fightin' for myself, I'd be fighting for other children that would be scared to fight for theirselves, and I'd do their fighting for them.
"That whippin' in your hand is the worst thing you ever got. Brother, it hurts. I put a teacher in jail that'd whip one of my children in the hand.
Occupational History and Family
"My mama said I was six years old when the War ended and that I was born on the first day of October. During the War, I run up and down the yard and played, and run up and down the street and played; and when I would make too much noise, they'd whip me and send me back to my mother and tell her not to whip me no more, because they had already done it. I would help look after my mother's children. There were five children younger than I was. Everywhere she went, the white people would want me to nurse their children, because they said, 'That little rawboneded one is goin' to be the smartest one you got. I want her.' And my ma would say:
"'You ain't goin' to git 'er.' She had two other girls—Martha and Sarah. They was older than me, and she would hire them out to do nursing. They worked for their master during slave time, and they worked for money after slavery.
"My mama's first husband was killed in a rasslin' (wrestling) match. It used to be that one man would walk up to another and say, 'You ain't no good.' And the other one would say, 'All right, le's see.' And they would rassle.
"My mother's first husband was pretty old. His name was Myers. A young man come up to him one Sunday morning when they were gettin' commodities. They got sorghum, meat, meal, and flour; if what they got wasn't enough, then they would go out and steal a hog. Sometime they'd steal it anyhow; they got tired of eatin' the same thing all the time. Hurt would whip them for it. Wouldn't let the overseer whip them. Whip them hisself. 'Fraid the overseer wouldn't give them enough. They never could find my grandfather's meat. That was Grandfather William Down. They couldn't find his meat because he kept it hidden in a hole in the ground. It was under the floor of the cabin.
"Old Myers made this young man rassle with him. The young fellow didn't want to rassle with him; he said Myers was too old. Myers wasn't my father; he was my mother's first husband. The young man threw him. Myers wasn't satisfied with that. He wanted to rassle again. The young man didn't want to rassle again. But Myers made him. And the second time, the young man threw him so hard that he broke his collar-bone. My mother was in a family way at the time. He lived about a week after that, and died before the baby was born.
"My mother's second husband was named Fred Williams, and he was my father. All this was in slavery times. I am his oldest child. He raised all his children and all his stepchildren too. He and my mother lived together for over forty years, until she was more than seventy. He was much younger than she was—just eighteen years old when he married her. And she was a woman with five children. But she was a real wife to him. Him and her would fight, too. She was jealous of him. Wouldn't be none of that with me. Honey, when you hit me once, I'm gone. Ain't no beatin' on me and then sleepin' in the same bed with you. But they fit and then they lived together right on. No matter what happened, his clean clothes were ready whenever he got ready to go out of the house—even if it was just to go to work. His meals were ready whenever he got ready to eat. They were happy together till she died.
"But when she died, he killed hisself courtin'. He was a young preacher. He died of pneumonia. He was visiting his daughter and got exposed to the weather and didn't take care of hisself.
"Right after the War, I was hired as a half-a-hand. After that I got larger and was hired as a whole hand, me and the oldest girl. I worked on one farm and then another for years. I married the first time when I was fifteen years old. That was almost right after slave time. Four couples of us were married at the same time. They lived close to me. I didn't want my husband to git in the bed with me when I married the first time. I didn't have no sense. I was a Christian girl.
"Frank Sampson was his name. It rained the day we married. I got my feet wet. My husband brought me home and then he turned 'round and went back to where the wedding was. They had a reception, and they danced and had a good time. Sampson could dance, too, but I didn't. A little before day, he come back and said to me—I was layin' in the middle of the bed—'Git over.' I called to mother and told her he wanted to git in the bed with me. She said, 'Well, let him git in. He's yo'r husband now.'
"Frank Sampson and me lived together about twenty years before he got killed, and then I married Andrew Jackson. He had children and grandchildren. I don't know what was the matter with old man Jackson. He was head deacon of the church. We only stayed together a year or more.
"I have been single ever since 1923, jus' bumming 'round white folks and tryin' to work for them and makin' them give me somethin' to eat. I ain't been tryin' to fin' no man. When I can't fin' no cookin' and washin' and ironin' to do, I used to farm. I can't farm now, and 'course I can't git no work to do to amount to nothin'. They say I'm too old to work.
"The Welfare helps me. Don't know what I'd do if it wasn't for them. I git some commodities too, but I don't git any wood. Some people says they pay house rent, but they never paid none of mine. I had to go to Marianna and git my application straight before I could git any help. They charged me half a dollar to fix out the application. The Welfare wanted to know how I got the money to pay for the application if I didn't have money to live on. I had to git it, and I had to git the money to go to Marianna, too. If I hadn't, I never would have got no help.
"I told you my first husband got killed. The mule run away with his plow and throwed him a summerset. His head was where his heels should have been, he said, and the mule dragged him. His chest was crushed, and mashed. His face was cut and dirtied. He lived nine days and a half after he was hurt and couldn't eat one grain of rice. I never left his bedside 'cept to cook a little broth for him. That's all he would eat—just a little broth.
"He said to his friend, 'See this little woman of mine? I hate to leave her. She's just such a good little woman. She ain't got no business in this world without a husband.'
"And his friend said to him, 'Well, you might as well make up your mind you got to leave her, 'cause you goin' to do it.'
"He got hurt on Thursday and I couldn't git a doctor till Friday. Dr. Harper, the plantation doctor, had got his house burned and his hands hurt. So he couldn't come out to help us. Finally Dr. Hodges come. He come from Sunnyside, Mississippi, and he charge me fourteen dollars. He just made two trips and he didn't do nothin'.
"Bowls and pitchers were in style then. And I always kept a pitcher of clean water in the house. I looked up and there was a bunch of men comin' in the house. It was near dark then. They brought Sampson in and carried him to the bed and put him down. I said, 'What's the matter with Frank?' And they said, 'The mule drug him.' And they put him on the bed and went on out. I dipped a handkerchief in the water and wet it and put it in his mouth and took out great gobs of dust where the mule had drug him in the dirt. They didn't nobody help me with him then; I was there alone with him.
"I started to go for the doctor but he called me back and said it wasn't no use for me to go. Couldn't git the doctor then, and if I could, he'd charge too much and wouldn't be able to help him none nohow. So we wasn't able to git the doctor till the next day, and then it wasn't the plantation doctor. We had planted fifteen acres in cotton, and we had ordered five hundred pounds of meat for our winter supply and laid it up. But Frank never got to eat none of it. They sent three or four hands over to git their meals with me, and they et up all the meat and all the other supplies we had. I didn't want it. It wasn't no use to me when Frank was gone. After they paid the doctor's bill and took out for the supplies we was supposed to git, they handed me thirty-three dollars and thirty-five cents. That was all I got out of fifteen acres of cotton.
"I sew with rav'lin's. Here is some rav'lin's I use. I pull that out of tobacco sacks, flour sacks, anything, when I don't have the money to buy a spool of thread. I sew right on just as good with the rav'lin's as if it was thread. Tobacco sacks make the best rav'lin's. I got two bags full of tobacco sacks that I ain't unraveled yet. There is a man down town who saves them for me. When a man pulls out a sack he says, 'Save that sack for me, I got an old colored lady that makes thread out of tobacco sacks.' These is what he has give me. (She showed the interviewer a sack which had fully a gallon of little tobacco sacks in it—ed.)
"They didn't use rav'lin's in slave time. They spun the thread. Then they balled it. Then they twisted it, and then they sew with it. They didn't use rav'lin's then, but they used them right after the War.
"My mama used to say, 'Come here, Lugenia.' She and me would work together. She wanted me to reel for her. Ain't you never seen these reels? They turn like a spinning-wheel, but it is made indifferent. You turn till the thing pops, then you tie it; then it's ready to go to the loom. It is in hanks after it leaves the reel and it is pretty, too.
"I used to live in a four-room house. They charged me seven dollars and a half a month for it. They fixed it all up and then they wanted to charge ten dollars, and it wouldn't have been long before they went up to fifteen. So I moved. This place ain't so much. I pays five dollars and a half for it. When it rains, I have to go outside to keep from gittin' too wet. But I cut down the weeds all around the place. I planted some flowers in the front yard, and some vegetables in the back. That all helps me out. When I go to git commodities, I walk to the place. I can't stand the way these people act on the cars. Of course, when I have a bundle, I have to use the car to come back. I just put it on my head and walk down to the car line and git on. Lord, my mother used to carry some bundles on her head."
According to the marriage license issued at the time of her last marriage in 1922, Andrew Jackson was sixty years old, and sister Jackson was fifty-two. But Andrew Jackson was eighty when sister Jackson married him, she says. Who can blame him for saying sixty to the clerk? Sister Jackson admits that she was six years old during the War and states freely and accurately details of those times, but what wife whose husband puts only sixty in writing would be willing to write down more than fifty-two for herself?
Right now at more than seventy-nine, she is spry and jaunty and witty and good humored. Her house is as clean as a pin, and her yard is the same.
The McGuffy's Primer which she thinks is used now is a modernized McGuffy printed in 1908. The book bought for her by her first husband is an original McGuffy's Second Reader.
Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor Person interviewed: Lula Jackson (supplement) [HW: cf. 30600] 1808 Valentine Street, Little Rock, Arkansas Age: 79 Occupation: Field hand
"Early Hurt had an overseer named Sanders. He tied my sister Crecie to a stump to whip her. Crecie was stout and heavy. She was a grown young woman and big and strong. Sanders had two dogs with him in case he would have trouble with anyone. When he started layin' that lash on Crecie's back, she pulled up that stump and whipped him and the dogs both.
"Old Early Hurt came up and whipped her hisself. Said, 'Oh, you're too bad for the overseer to whip, huh?'
"Wasn't no such things as lamps in them days. Jus' used pine knots. When we quilted, we jus' got a good knot and lighted it. And when that one was nearly burnt out, we would light another one from it.
"We had a old lady named 'Aunt' Charlotte; she wasn't my aunt, we jus' called her that. She used to keep the children when the hands were working. If she liked you she would treat your children well. If she didn't like you, she wouldn't treat them so good. Her name was Charlotte Marley. She was too old to do any good in the field; and she had to take care of the babies. If she didn't like the people, she would leave the babies' napkins on all day long, wet and filthy.
"My papa's mama, Sarah, was killed by lightning. She was ironing and was in a hurry to get through and get the supper on for her master, Early Hurt. I was the oldest child, and I always was scared of lightning. A dreadful storm was goin' on. I was under the bed and I heard the thunder bolt and the crash and the fall. I heard mama scream. I crawled out from under the bed and they had grandma laid out in the middle of the floor. Mama said, 'Child, all the friend you got in the world is dead.' Early Hurt was standin' over her and pouring buckets of water on her. When the doctor come, he said, 'You done killed her now. If you had jus' laid her out on the ground and let the rain fall on her, she would have come to, but you done drownded her now.' She wouldn't have died if it hadn't been for them buckets of water that Early Hurt throwed in her face.
"Honey, they ain't nothin' as sweet to drink out of as a gourd. Take the seeds out. Boil the gourd. Scrape it and sun it. There ain't no taste left. They don't use gourds now."
Violent death followed Lula Jackson's family like an implacable avenger. Her father's mother was struck and killed by lightning. Her mother's first husband was thrown to his death in a wrestling match. Her own husband was dragged and kicked to death by a mule. Her brother-in-law, Jerry Jackson, was killed by a horse. But Sister Jackson is bright and cheery and full of faith in God and man, and utterly without bitterness.
Interviewer: Thomas Elmore Lucy Person interviewed: Mary Jackson, Russellville, Arkansas Age: 75?
"My name is Mary Jackson, and I was born in Miller Grove, Hunt County, Texas during the War. No sir, I do not know the year. Our master's name was Dixon, and he was a wealthy plantation owner, had lots of property in Hunt County.
"The days after the War—called the Reconstruction days, I believe—were sure exciting, and I can 'mind' a lot of things the people did, one of them a big barbecue celebration commemoratin' the return of peace. They had speeches, and music by the band—and there were a lot of soldiers carrying guns and wearing some kind of big breastplates. The white children tried to scare us by telling us the soldiers were coming to kill us little colored children. The band played 'Dixie' and other familiar tunes that the people played and sang in those days.
"Yes sir, I remember the Klu Klux Klan. They sure kept us frightened and we would always run and hide when we heard they were comin'. I don't know of any special harm they done but we were afraid of em.
"I have been a member of the A. M. E. Church for forty years, and my children belong to the same church.
"No sir, I don't know if the government ever promised our folks anything—money, or land, or anything else.
"Don't ask me anything about this 'new generation' business. They're simply too much for me; I cannot understand em at all. Don't know whether they are coming or going. In our day the parents were not near so lenient as they are today. I think much of the waywardness of the youth today should be blamed on the parents for being too slack in their training."
NOTE: Mrs. Jackson and her son live in a lovely cottage, and her taste in dress and general deportment are a credit to the race.
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson Person interviewed: Taylor Jackson, Edmondson, Arkansas Age: 88? [Date Stamp: MAY 11 1938]
"I was born two miles from Baltimore, Maryland. I was a good size boy. My father carried me to see the war flag go up. There was an awful crowd, one thousand people, there. I had two masters in this country besides in Virginia. When war was declared there was ten boats of niggers loaded at Washington and shipped to New Orleans. We stayed in the 'Nigger Traders Yard' there about three months. But we was not to be sold. Master Cupps [Culps?] owned father, mother and all of us. If they gained the victory he was to take us back to Virginia. I never knowed my grandparents. The yard had a tall brick wall around it. We had a bunk room, good cotton pads to sleep on and blankets. On one side they had a wall fixed to go up on from the inside and twelve platforms. You could see them being sold on the inside and the crowd on the outside. When they auctioned them off they would come, pick out what they wanted to sell next and fill them blocks again. They sold niggers all day long. They come in another drove they had, had men out buying over the country. They come in thick wood doors with iron nails bradded through, fastened on big hinges, fastened it with chains and iron bars. The house was a big red brick house. We didn't get none too much to eat at that place. I reckon one side was three hundred yard long of the wall and the house was that long. Some of them in there cut their hands off with a knife or ax. Well, they couldn't sell them. Nobody would buy them. I don't know what they ever done with them. Plenty of them would cut their hand off if they could get something to cut with to keep from being sold.
"We stayed in that place till Wyley Lions [Lyons?] come and got us in wagons. He kept us for Master Cupps. Mother was a house girl in Virginia. She was one more good cook. I started hoeing and picking cotton in Virginia for master. When I was fourteen years old I done the same in Mississippi with Wiley Lyons in Mississippi close to Canton. In Canton, Mississippi Wiley Lyons had the biggest finest brick house in that country. He had two farms. In Bolivar County was the biggest. I could hear big shooting from Canton fifteen miles away. He wasn't mean and he didn't allow the overseers to be mean.
"Hilliard Christmas [a neighbor] was mean to his folks. My father hired his own time. He raised several ten acre gardens and watermelons. He paid Mr. Cupp in Virginia. He come to see our folks how they was getting along.
"A Negro on a joining farm run off. They hunted him with the dogs and they found him at a log. Heap his legs froze, so the white doctor had to cut them off. He was on Solomon's farms. After that he got to be a cooper. He made barrels and baskets—things he could do sittin' in his chair. They picked him up and made stumps for him. Some folks was mean.
"My mother was Rachel and my father was Andrew Jackson. I had three brothers fought in the War. I was too young. They talked of taking me in a drummer boy the year it ceased. My nephew give me this uniform. It is warm and it is good. My breeches needs some repairs reason I ain't got them on. [He has worn a blue uniform for years and years—ed.]
"There was nine of us children. I got one girl very low now. She's in Memphis. I been in Arkansas 45 years. I come here jes' drifting looking out a good location. I never had no dealings with the Ku Klux. I been farming all my life. Yes, I did like it. I never owned a home nor no land. I never voted in my life. I had nine children of my own but only my girl living now.
"Nine or ten years ago I could work every minute. Times was good! good! Could get plenty work—wood to cut and ditching. It is not that way now. I can't do a day's work now. I'm failing fast. I feel it.
"Young folks can make a living if they work and try. Some works too hard and some don't hardly work. Work is scarcer than it ever was to my knowledge. Times changed and changed the young folks. Mother died two or three years after the War. My father died first year we come to Mississippi.
[We went by and took the old Negro to West Memphis. From there he could take a jitney to Memphis to see his daughter—ed.]
"I ain't never been 'rested. I ain't been to jail. Nearly well be as so confined with the mud. [We assured him it was nicer to ride in the car than be in jail—ed.]
"I couldn't tell how many I ever seen sold. I seen some sold in Virginia, I reckon, or Maryland—one off the boats. They kept them tied. They was so scared they might do anything, jump in the big waters. They couldn't talk but to some and he would tell white folks what he said. [They used an interpreter.] Some couldn't understand one another if they come from far apart in the foreign country. Slavery wasn't never bad on me. I never was sold off from my folks and I had warmer, better clothes 'an I have now. I had plenty to eat, more'an I has now generally. I had better in slavery than I have now. That is the truth. I'm telling the truth, I did. Some didn't. One neighbor got mad and give each hand one ear of corn nine or ten o'clock. They take it to the cook house and get it made up in hominy. Some would be so hungry they would parch the corn rather 'an wait. He'd give 'em meal to make a big kettle of mush. When he was good he done better. Give 'em more for supper.
"Freedom—soldiers come by two miles long look like. We followed them. There was a crowd following. Wiley Lyons had no children; he adopted a boy and a girl. Me and the boy was growing up together. Me and the white boy (fifteen or sixteen years old, I reckon we was) followed them. They said that was Grant's army. I don't know. 'That made us free' they told us. The white boy was free, he just went to see what was happening. We sure did see! We went by Canton to Vicksburg when fighting quit. Folks rejoiced, and then went back wild. Smart ones soon got work. Some got furnished a little provisions to help keep them from starving. Mr. Wiley Lyons come got us after five months. We hung around my brother that had been in the War. I don't know if he was a soldier or a waiter. We worked around Master Lyons' house at Canton till he died. I started farming again with him.
"I get $8 a month pension and high as things is that is a powerful blessing but it ain't enough to feed me good. It cost more to go after the commodities up at Marion than they come to [amount to in value]."
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson Person interviewed: Virginia Jackson, Helena, Arkansas Age: 74 [Date Stamp: MAY 31 1938]
"Mother said I was born the same year peace was declared. I was born before the Civil War close, I reckon. I was born in Tunica, Mississippi. Mother belong to Mistress Cornelia and Master John Hood. He come from Alabama in wagons and brought mother and whole lot of 'em, she said, to Tunica, Mississippi. My mother and father never sold. They told me that. She said she was with the master and he give her to father. He ask her did she want him and ask him if he want her. They lived on joint places. They slept together on Wednesday and Saturday nights. He stayed at Hood's place on Sunday. They was owned by different masters. They didn't never say 'bout stepping over no broom. He was a Prince. When he died she married a man named Russell. I never heard her say what his name was. My father was Mathew Prince. They was both field hands. I never knowed my father. I called my stepfather popper. I always did say mother.
"Mother said her master didn't tell them it was freedom. Other folks got told in August. They passed it 'round secretly. Some Yankees come asked if they was getting paid for picking cotton in September. They told their master. They told the Yankees 'yes' 'cause they was afraid they would be run off and no place to go. They said Master Hood paid them well for their work at cotton selling time. He never promised them nothing. She said he never told one of them to leave or to stay. He let 'em be. I reckon they got fed. I wore cotton sack dresses. It wasn't bagging. It was heavy stiff cloth.
"Mother and her second husband come to Forrest City. They hoped they could do better. I come too. I worked in the field all my whole life 'cepting six years I worked in a laundry. I washed and ironed. I am a fine ironer. If I was younger I could get all the mens' shirts I could do now. I do a few but I got neuralgia in my arms and shoulders.
"I don't believe in talking 'bout my race. They always been lazy folks and smart folks, and they still is. The present times is good for me. I'm so thankful. I get ten dollars and some help, not much. I don't go after it. I let some that don't get much as I get have it. I told 'em to do that way."
Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden Person interviewed: William Jackson Route 6, Box 81, Pine Bluff, Arkansas Age: 84
"Me? Well, I was born July 12, 1853. Now you can figure that up.
"I was sold four times in slavery times. I was sold through the nigger traders and you know they didn't keep you long.
"I was born in Tennessee, raised in Mississippi, and been here in Arkansas up and down the Arkansas River ever since I was fifteen.
"A fellow bought me in Tennessee and sold me to a fellow named Abe Collins in Mississippi. He sold me to Dr. Maloney and then Winn and Trimble in Hempstead County bought me. They run a tanyard.
"I went to school one day in my life. My third master's children learned me my ABC's in slavery times. I'm not educated but I can read. Read the Bible and something like that.
"The Ku Klux run me one night. They come to the door and I went out the window. They went to my master's tanyard in broad open day and took leather. Oh, I been all through the roughness. But the Lord has blessed me ever since I been in this world. I can see good and hear good and get about.
"I come here to Arkansas with some refugees, and I been up and down the river ever since.
"In slavery times I had plenty to eat, such as 'twas. Had biscuits on Sunday made out of shorts.
"I lived with one man, Dr. Maloney, who was pretty cruel. I run away from him once, but he caught me fore night. Put me in a little house on bread and water for three or four days and then he sold me. Said he wouldn't have a nigger that would run away. Otherwise I been treated pretty well.
"I come to Pine Bluff in '82. Last place I farmed was at what they call the Nichol place.
"I used to vote Republican—wouldn't let us vote nothin' else. In this country they won't let niggers vote in the primary 'cause they can vote in the presidential election. I held one office—justice of the peace.
"If the younger generation don't change, the Lord goin' to put curses on em. That's just what's goin' to come of em. More you do for em the worse they is. Don't think about the future—just today."
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson Person interviewed: Lawson Jamar, Edmondson, Arkansas Age: 66 [Date Stamp: MAY 11 1938]
"Papa had twelve children and when he died he lef' two and now I am all the big family left.
"Mama was born in Huntsville, Alabama. I was born there too. She was Liza, b'long to Tom and Unis Martin. Papa b'long to Mistress Sarah and Jack Jamar. They had to work hard. They had to do good work. They had to not slight their work. Papa's main job was to carry water to the hands. He said it kept him on the go. They had more than one water boy. They had to go to the wash hole before they went to bed and wash clean. The men had a place and the women had their place. They didn't have to get in if it was cold but they had to wash off.
"They hauled a wagon load of axes or hoes and lef' 'em in the field so they could get 'em. Then they would haul plows, hoes or axes to the shop to be fixed up. They had two or three sets. They worked from early till late. They had a cook house. They cooked at their own houses when the work wasn't pushing. When they got behind they would work in the moonlight. If they got through they all went and help some neighbor two or three nights and have a big supper sometimes. They done that on Saturday nights, go home and sleep all day Sunday.
"If they didn't have time to wash and clean the houses and the beds some older women would do that and tend to the babies. They had a hard time during the War. It was hard after the War. Papa brought me to this country to farm. He farmed till he started sawmilling for Chappman Dewy at Marked Tree. Then he swept out and was in the office to help about. He never owned nothing. He come and I farmed. He helped a little. He was so old. He talked more about the War and slavery. I always have farmed. Farmed all my life.
"I don't farm now. I got asthma and cripple with rheumatism. What my wife and children can't do ain't done now. [Three children.] I don't get no help but I applied for it.
"Present times is all right where a man can work. The present generation rather do on heap less and do less work. They ain't got manners and raisin' like I had. They don't know how to be polite. We tries to learn 'em [their children] how to do."
NOTE: The woman was black and so was the cripple Negro man; their house was clean, floors, bed, tables, chairs. Very good warm house. They couldn't remember the old tales the father told to tell them to me.
Interviewer: Thomas Elmore Lucy Person interviewed: Nellie James, Russellville, Arkansas Age: 72
"Nellie James is my name. Yes, Mr. D. B. James was my husband, and he remembered you very kindly. They call me 'Aunt Nellie.' I was born in Starkville, Ouachita County, Mississippi the twenty-ninth of March, in 1866, just a year after the War closed. My parents were both owned by a plantation farmer in Ouachita County, Mississippi, but we came to Arkansas a good many years ago.
"My husband was principal of the colored school here at Russellville for thirty-five years, and people, both white and black, thought a great deal of him. We raised a family of six children, five boys and a girl, and they now live in different states, some of them in California. One of my sons is a doctor in Chicago and is doing well. They were all well educated. Mr. James saw to that of course.
"So far as I remember from what my parents said, the master was reasonably kind to all his slaves, and my husband said the same thing about his own master although he was quite young at the time they were freed. (Yes sir, you see he was born in slavery.)
"I was too young to remember much about the Ku Klux Klan, but I remember we used to be afraid of them and we children would run and hide when we heard they were coming.
"No sir, I have never voted, because we always had to pay a dollar for the privilege—and I never seemed to have the dollar (laughingly) to spare at election time. Mr. James voted the Republican ticket regularly though.
"All our family were Missionary Baptists. I united with the Baptist church when I [HW: was] thirteen years old.
"I think the young people of both races are growing wilder and wilder. The parents today are too slack in raising them—too lenient. I don't know where they are headed, what they mean, what they want to do, or what to expect of them. And I'm too busy and have too hard a time trying to make ends meet to keep up with their carryings-on."
NOTE: Mrs. Nellie James, widow of Prof. D. B. James, one of the most successful Negro teachers who ever served in Russellville, is a quiet, refined woman, a good housekeeper, and has reared a large and successful family. She speaks with good, clear diction, and has none of the brogue that is characteristic of the colored race of the South.
Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor Person interviewed: Robert James 4325 W. Eighth Street, Little Rock, Arkansas Age: 66, or older Occupation: Cook
"I was born in Lexington, Mississippi, in the year 1872. My mother's name was Florida Hawkins. Florida James was her slavery name. David Jones was her old master. That was in Mississippi—the good old country! People hate it because they don't like the name but it was a mighty good country when I was there. The white people there were better to the colored people when I was there than they are here. But there is a whole lots of places that is worse than Arkansas.
"I have been here forty-eight years and I haven't had any trouble with nobody, and I have owned three homes in my time. My nephew and my brother happened to meet up with each other in France. They thought about me and wrote and told me about it. And I writ to my sister in Chicago following up their information and got in touch with my people. Didn't find them out till the great war started. Had to go to Europe to find my relatives. My sister's people and mine too were born in Illinois, but my mother and two sisters and another brother were born in Mississippi. Their kin born in Illinois were half-brothers and so on.
"I heard my mother say that her master and them had to refugee them to keep them from the Yankees. She told a ghost tale on that. I guess it must have been true.
"She said they all hitched up and put them in the wagon and went to driving down the road. Night fell and they came to a big two-story house. They went to bed. The house was empty, and they couldn't raise nobody; so they just camped there for the night. After they went to bed, big balls of fire came rolling down the stairs. They all got scared and run out of the house and camped outside for the night. There wasn't no more sleeping in that house.
"Some people believe in ghosts and some don't. What do you believe? This is what I have seen myself. Mules and horses were running 'round screaming and hollering every night. One day, I was walking along when I saw a mule big as an elephant with ears at least three feet long and eyes as big as auto lamps. He was standing right in the middle of the road looking at me and making no motion to move. I was scared to death, but I stooped down to pick up a stone. It wasn't but a second. But when I raised up, he had vanished. He didn't make a sound. He just disappeared in a second. That was in the broad open daylight. That was what had been causing all the confusion with the mules and horses.
"When I first married I used to room with an old lady named Johnson. Time we went to bed and put the light out, something would open the doors. Finally I got scared and used to tell my wife to get up and close the doors. Finally she got skittish about it. There used to be the biggest storms around there and yet you couldn't see nothin'. There wasn't no rain nor nothin'. Just sounds and noises like storms. My wife comes to visit me sometimes now.
"My mother says there wasn't any such thing as marriage in slave times. Old master jus' said, 'There's your husband, Florida.'"
Little Rock District FOLKLORE SUBJECTS
Name of Interviewer: Irene Robertson Subject: HISTORY OF ELLIS JEFFERSON—(NEGRO) Story—Information (If not enough space on this page add page.)
This Information given by: Ellis Jefferson (Uncle Jeff) (C) Place of Residence: Hazen, Arkansas Occupation: Superanuated Minister of the M. E. Church Age: 77 [TR: Personal information moved from bottom of form.]
He has his second eyesight and his hair is short and white. He is a black skinned, bright-eyed old man. "Uncle Jeff" said he remembered when the Civil War had ended they passed by where he lived with teams, wagons filled, and especially the artillery wagon. They were carrying them back to Washington. His mother was freed from Mrs. Nancy Marshall of Roanoke, Va. She moved and brought his mother, he and his sister, Ann, to Holly Springs, Miss. The county was named for his mistress: Marshall County, Mississippi.
In 1868 they moved to [HW: within] 4 miles of DeWitt and 10 miles of Arkansas Post. Later they moved to Kansas and near Wichita then back to Marshall, Texas. His sister has four sons down there. He thinks she is still living. His Mistress went back to Roanoke, Va., and his mother died at Marshall. Tom Marshall was his Master's name, but he seems to have died in the Civil War. This old Uncle Jeff lived in Alabama and has preached there and in northern Mississippi and near Helena, Arkansas. He helped cook at Helena in a hotel. He preaches some but the WPA supports him now. Uncle Jeff can't remember his dreams he said "The Bible says, young men dream dreams and old men see visions."
He had a real vision once, he was going late one afternoon to get his mules up and he heard a voice "I have a voice I want you to complete. Carry my word." He was a member of the church but he made a profession and a year later was ordained into the ministry. He believes in dreams. Says they are warnings.
Uncle Jeff says he has written some poetry but it has all been lost.
When anyone dies the sexton goes to the church and tolls the bell as many times as the dead person is old. They take the body to the church for the night and they gather there and watch. He believes the soul rises from the ground on the Resurrection Day. He believes some people can put a "spell" on other people. He said that was witchery.
[HW: Marshall County, Miss., named for John Marshall of Virginia, Chief Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court, 1801-35. History of Marshall (County), Mississippi, by Clayton M. Alexander.]
Name of Interviewer: S. S. Taylor Subject: [HW: Moses Jeffries] Story—Information (If not enough space on this page add page.)
This information given by: Moses E. Jeffries Place of Residence: 1110 Izard Street, Little Rock, Arkansas Occupation: Plasterer Age: 81 [TR: Age: 75 on 4th page of form.] [TR: Personal information moved from bottom of form.]
"I was born in 1856. My age was kept with the cattle. As a rule, you know, slaves were chattels. There was a fire and the Bible in which the ages were kept was lost. The man who owned me couldn't remember what month I was born in. Out of thirteen children, my mother could only remember the age of one. I had twelve brothers and sisters—Bob Lacy, William Henry, Cain Cecil, Jessie, Charles, Harvey, Johnnie, Anna, Rose, Hannah, Lucy, and Thomas. I am the only one living now. My parents were both slaves. My father has been dead about fifty-nine years and my mother about sixty or sixty-one years. She died before I married and I have been married fifty years. I have them in my Bible.
I remember when Lincoln was elected president and they said there was going to be war. I remember when they had [HW: a] slave market in New Orleans. I was living betweeen [TR: between] Pine Bluff and New Orleans (living in Arkansas) and saw the slaves chained together as they were brought through my place and located somewhere on some of the big farms or plantations.
I never saw any of the fighting but I did see some of the Confederate armies when they were retreating near the end of the war. I was just about ten years old at the time and was in Marshall, Texas.
The man that owned me said to the old people that they were free, that they didn't belong to him any more, that Abraham Lincoln had set them free. Of course, I didn't know what freedom was. They brought the news to them one evening, and them niggers danced nearly all night.
I remember also seeing a runaway slave. We saw the slaves first, and the dogs came behind chasing them. They passed through our field about half an hour ahead of the hounds, but the dogs would be trailing them. The hunters didn't bother to stop and question us because they knew the hounds were on the trail. I have known slaves to run away and stay three years at a time. Master would whip them and they would run away. They wouldn't have no place to go or stay so they would come back after a while. Then they would be punished again. They wouldn't punish them much, however, because they might run off again.
If I went on a plantation and saw a girl I wanted to marry, I would ask my master to buy her for me. It wouldn't matter if she were somebody else's wife; she would become mine. The master would pay for her and bring her home and say, "John, there's your wife. That is all the marriage there would be. Yellow women used to be a novelty then. You wouldn't see one-tenth as many then as now. In some cases, however, a man would retain his wife even after she had been sold away from him and would have permission to visit her from time to time.
INHERITANCE OF SLAVES
If a man died, he often stated in his will which slaves should go to each child he had. Some men had more than a hundred slaves and they divided them up just as you would cattle. Some times there were certain slaves that certain children liked, and they were granted those slaves.
WHAT THE FREEDMEN RECEIVED
Nothing was given to my parents at freedom. None of the niggers got anything. They didn't give them anything. The slaves were hired and allowed to work the farms on shares. That is where the system of share cropping came from. I was hired for fifty dollars a year, but was paid only five. The boss said he owed me fourteen dollars but five was all I got. I went down town and bought some candy. It was the first time I had had that much money.
I couldn't do anything about the pay. They didn't give me any land. They hired me to work around the house and I ate what the boss ate. But the general run of slaves got pickled pork, molasses, cornmeal and sometimes flour (about once a week for Sunday). The food came out of the share of the share cropper.
You can tell what they did by what they do now. It (share cropping) hasn't changed a particle since. About Christmas was the time they usually settled up. Nobody was forced to remain as a servant. I know one thing,—Negroes did not go to jail and penitentiary like they do now.
KU KLUX KLAN
The Ku Klux Klan to the best of my knowledge went into action about the time shortly after the war when the amendments to the Constitution gave the Negroes the right to vote. I have seen them at night dressed up in their uniform. They would visit every Negro's house in the comunity [TR: community]. Some they would take out and whip, some they would scare to death. They would ask for a drink of water and they had some way of drinking a whole bucketful to impress the Negroes that they were supernatural. Negroes were very superstitious then. Colonel Patterson who was a Republican and a colonel or general of the militia, white and colored, under the governorship of Powell Clayton, stopped the operation of the Klan in this state. After his work, they ceased terrorizing the people.
Many an ex-slave was elected sheriff, county clerk, probate clerk, Pinchback[A] was elected governor in Louisiana. The first Negro congressman was from Mississippi and a Methodist preacher Hiram Revells[B]. We had a Nigger superintendent of schools of the state of Arkansas, J. C. Corbin[C]—I don't remember just when, but it was in the early seventies. He was also president of the state school in Pine Bluff—organized it.
The ex-slave voted like fire directly after the war. That was about all that did vote then. If the Niggers hadn't voted they never would have been able to elect Negroes to office.
I was elected Alderman once in Little Rock under the administration of Mayer Kemer. We had Nigger coroner, Chief of Police, Police Judge, Policemen. Ike Gillam's father was coroner. Sam Garrett was Chief of Police; Judge M. W. Gibbs was Police Judge. He was also a receiver of public lands. So was J. E. Bush, who founded the Mosaics [HW: (Modern Mosaic Templars of America)]. James W. Thompson, Bryant Luster, Marion H. Henderson, Acy L. Richardson, Childress' father-in-law, were all aldermen. James P. Noyer Jones was County Clerk of Chicot County, S. H. Holland, a teacher of mine, a little black nigger about five feet high, as black as ink, but well educated was sheriff of Desha County. Augusta had a Negro who was sheriff. A Negro used to hold good offices in this state.
I charge the change to Grant. The Baxter-Brooks matter caused it. Baxter was a Southern Republican from the Northeastern part of the state, Batesville, a Southern man who took sides with the North in the war. Brooks was a Methodist preacher from the North somewheres. When Grant recognized the Baxter faction whom the old ex-slaveholders supported because he was a Southerner and sided with Baxter against Brooks, it put the present Democratic party in power, and they passed the Grandfather law barring Negroes from voting.
Negroes were intimidated by the Ku Klux. They were counted out. Ballot boxes were burned and ballots were destroyed. Finally, Negroes got discouraged and quit trying to vote."
[Footnote A: [HW: P. B. S. Pinchback, elected Lieutenant-Governor of La. Held office 43 days.]]
[Footnote B: [HW: Hiram Revells, elected to fill the unexpired term of Jefferson Davis.]]
[Footnote C: [HW: J. C. Corbin appointed state superintendent of public instruction in 1873—served until the end of 1875.]]
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson Person interviewed: Ellis Jefson (M. E. Preacher), Hazen, Ark. Age: 77
"My father was a full blood African. His parents come from there and he couldn't talk plain.
"My great grandma was an Indian squaw. Mother was crossed with a white man. He was a Scotchman.
"My mother belong to old man John Marshall. He died before I left Virginia.
"Old Miss Nancy Marshall and the boys and their wives, three of em was married, and slaves set out in three covered wagons and come to Holly Springs, Mississippi in 1867.
"Blunt Marshall was a Baptist preacher. In 1869 my grandma died at Holly Springs.
"I had two sisters Ann and Mariah. Old Miss Nancy Marshall had kin folks at Marshall, Texas. She took Ann with her and I have never seen her since.
"In 1878 we immigrated to Kansas. We soon got back to Helena. Mariah died there and in 1881 mother died.
"Old Miss Nancy's boys named Blunt, John, Bill, Harp. I don't know where they scattered out to finally.
"All my folks ever expected was freedom. We was nicely taken care of till the family split up. My father was suppressed. He belong to Master Ernman. He run off and went on with the Yankees when they come down from Virginia. We think he got killed. We never heard from him after 1863.
"In 1882 my white folks went to Padukah, Kentucky. They was on the run from Yellow Fever. They had kin up there. I stayed in Memphis and nursed. They put up flags. Negroes didn't have it. They put coffins on the porches before the people died. Carried wagons loads of dead bodies wrapped in sheets. White folks would meet and pray the disease be lifted. When they started vomiting black, there was no more hopes. Had to hold them on bed when they was dying. When they have Yellow Fever white folks turn yellow. I never heard of a case of Yellow Fever in Memphis mong my race. Dr. Stone of New Orleans had better luck with the disease than any other doctor. I was busy from June till October in Memphis. They buried the dead in long trenches. Nearly all the business houses was closed. The boats couldn't stop in towns where Yellow Fever had broke out.
"I never seen the Ku Klux.
"I never seen no one sold. My father still held a wild animal instinct up in Virginia; they couldn't keep him out of the woods. He would spend two or three days back in there. Then the Patty Rollers would run him out and back home. He was a quill blower and a banjo picker. They had two corn piles and for prizes they give them whiskey. They had dances and regular figure callers. This has been told to me at night time around the hearth understand. I can recollect when round dancing come in. It was in 1880. Here's a song they sung back in Virginia: 'Moster and mistress both gone away. Gone down to Charleston/ to spend the summer day. I'm off to Charleston/early in the mornin'/ to spend nother day.'
"I used to help old Miss Nancy make candles for her little brass lamp. We boiled down maple sap and made sugar. We made turpentine.
"I don't know about the Nat Turner Rebellion in Virginia. We had rebellions at Helena in 1875. The white folks put the Negroes out of office. They put J. T. White in the river at Helena but I think he got out. Several was killed. J. T. White was a colored sheriff in Phillips County. In Lee County it was the same way. The Republican party would lect them and the Democratic party roust them out of office.
"In 1872 I went to school 2-1/2 miles to Arkansas Post to a white teacher. I went four months. Her name was Mrs. Rolling. My white folks started me and I could spell to 'Baker' in the Blue Book Speller before I started to school. That is the only book I ever had at school. I learned to read in the Bible next.
"In 1872 locust was numerous. We had four diseases to break out: whooping cough, measles, smallpox; and cholera broke out again. They vaccinated for smallpox, first I ever heard of it. They took matter out of one persons arm and put it in two dozen peoples arms. It killed out the smallpox.
"In 1873 I saw a big forest fire. It seemed like prairie and forest fires broke out often.
"When I growed up and run with boys my color I got wicked. We gambled and drunk whiskey, then I seen how I was departing from good raising. I changed. I stopped sociating with bad company. The Lord hailed me in wide open day time and told me my better life was pleasing in his sight. I heard him. I didn't see nuthin'. I was called upon to teach a Sunday School class. Three months I was Sunday School leader. Three months more I was a licensed preacher. Ordained under Bishop Lee, Johnson, Copeland—all colored bishops at Topeka, Kansas. Then I attended conference at Bereah, Kentucky. Bishop Dizney presided. I preached in Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas. I am now what they call a superannuated minister.
"One criticism on my color. They will never progress till they become more harmonious in spirit with the desires of the white people in the home land of the white man. I mean when a white person come want some work or a favor and he not go help him without too much pay."
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson Person interviewed: Absolom Jenkins, R.F.D., Helena, Arkansas Age: 80 [Date Stamp: MAY 31 1938]
"I was born a few years before the break out of the old war (Civil War). I had a boy fit in this last war (World War). He gets a pension and he sends me part of it every month. He don't send me no amount whatever he can spare me. He never do send me less than ten dollars. I pick cotton some last year. I pick twenty or thirty pounds and it got to raining and so cold my granddaughter said it would make me sick.
"I was born durin' slavery. I was born 'bout twenty-five miles from Nolan, Tennessee. They call me Ab Jenkins for my old master. He was A. B. Jenkins. I don't know if his name was Absolom or not. Mother was name Liddy Strum. They was both sold on the block. They both come to Tennessee from Virginia in a drove and was sold to men lived less than ten miles apart. Then they got consent and got married. I don't know how they struck up together.
"They had three families of us. We lived up close to A. B. Jenkins' house. He had been married. He was old man when I knowed him. His daughter lived with him. She was married. Her husband was brought home from the war dead. I don't know if he got sick and died or shot. The only little children on the place was me and Jake Jenkins. We was no kin but jus' like twins. Master would call us up and stick his finger in biscuits and pour molasses in the hole. That was sure good eating. The 'lasses wouldn't spill till we done et it up. He'd fix us up another one. He give us biscuits oftener than the grown folks got them. We had plenty wheat bread till the old war come on. My mother beat biscuits with a paddle. She cooked over at Strum's. I lived over at Jenkins. Grandma Kizzy done my cooking. Master's girl cooked us biscuits. Master Jenkins loose his hat, his stick, his specks, and call us to find 'em. He could see. He called us to keep us outer badness. We had a big business of throwing at things. He threatened to whoop us. We slacked up on it. I never heard them say but I believe from what I seen it was agreed to divide the children. Pa would take me over to see mama every Sunday morning. We leave soon as I could get my clean long shirt and a little to eat. We walked four miles. He'd tote me. She had a girl with her. I never stayed over there much and the girl never come to my place 'cepting when mama come. They let her stand on the surrey and Eloweise stand inside when they went to preaching. She'd ride Master Jenkins' mare home and turn her loose to come home. Me and papa always walked.
"When freedom come on, the country was tore to pieces. Folks don't know what hard times is now. Some folks said do one thing for the best, somebody said do another way. Folks roved around for five or six years trying to do as well as they had done in slavery. It was years 'fore they got back to it. I was grown 'fore they ever got to doing well again. My folks got off to Nashville. We lived there by the hardest—eight in family. We moved to Mississippi bottoms not far from Meridian. We started picking up. We all got fat as hogs. We farmed and done well. We got to own forty acres of ground and lost two of the girls with malaria fever. Then we sold out and come to Helena. We boys, four of us, farmed, hauled wood, sawmilled, worked on the boats about till our parents died. They died close to Marion on a farm we rented. I had two boys. One got drowned. The other helps me out a heap. He got some little children now and got one grown and married.
"The Ku Klux was hot in Tennessee. They whooped a heap of people. The main thing was to make the colored folks go to work and not steal, but it was carpet-baggers stealing and go pack it on colored folks. They'd tell colored folks not to do this and that and it would get them in trouble. The Ku Klux would whoop the colored folks. Some colored folks thought 'cause they was free they ought not work. They got to rambling and scattered out.
"I voted a long time. The voting has caused trouble all along. I voted different ways—sometimes Republican and sometimes Independent. I don't believe women ought to vote somehow. I don't vote. I voted for Cleveland years ago and I voted for Wilson. I ain't voted since the last war. I don't believe in war.
"Times have changed so much it is lack living in another world now. Folks living in too much hurry. They getting too fast. They are restless. I see a heaps of overbearing folks now. Folks after I got grown looked so fresh and happy. Young folks look tired, mad, worried now. They fixes up their face but it still show it. Folks quicker than they used to be. They acts before they have time to think now. Times is good for me but I see old folks need things. I see young folks wasteful—both black and white. White folks setting the pace for us colored folks. It's mighty fast and mighty hard."
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson Person interviewed: Dora Jerman, Forrest City, Arkansas Age: 60?
"I was born at Bow-and-arrow, Arkansas. Sid McDaniel owned my father. Mother was Mary Miller and she married Pete Williams from Tennessee. Grandma lived with us till she died. She used to have us sit around handy to thread her needles. She was a great hand to piece quilts. Her and Aunt Polly both. Aunt Polly was a friend that was sold with her every time. They was like sisters and the most pleasure to each other in old age.
"My great-great-grandma said to grandma, 'Hurry back wid that pitcher of water, honey, so you will have time to run by and see your mama and the children and tell them good-bye. Old master says you going to be sold early in the morning.' The water was for supper. That was the last time she ever seen or heard of any of her own kin folks. Grandma said a gang of them was sold next morning. Aunt Polly was no kin but they was sold together. Whitfield bought one and Strum bought the other.
"They come on a boat from Virginia to Aberdeen, Mississippi. They wouldn't sell her mother because she brought fine children. I think she said they had a regular stock man. She and Aunt Polly was sold several times and together till freedom. When they got off the boat they had to walk a right smart ways and grandma's feet cracked open and bled. 'Black Mammy' wrapped her feet up in rags and greased them with hot tallow or mutton suet and told her not to cry no more, be a good girl and mind master and mistress.
"Grandma said she had a hard time all her life. She was my mother's mother and she lived to be way over a hundred years old. Aunt Polly lived with her daughter when she got old. Grandma died first. Then Aunt Polly grieved so. She was old, old when she died. They still lived close together, mostly together. Aunt Polly was real black; mama was lighter. I called grandma 'mama' a right smart too. They called each other 'sis'. Grandma said, 'I love sis so good.' Aunt Polly lessened her days grieving for sis. They was both field hands. They would tell us girls about how they lived when they was girls. We'd cry.
"We lived in the country and we listened to what they said to us. If it had been times then like now I wouldn't know to tell you. Folks is in such a hurry somehow. Gone or going somewhere all the time.
"All my folks is most all full-blood African. I don't believe in races mixing up. It is a sin. Grandma was the brightest one of any of us. She was ginger-cake color.
"No, I don't vote. I don't believe in that neither.
"Times is too fast. Fast folks makes fast times. They all fast. Coming to destruction."
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson Person interviewed: Adaline Johnson Joining the Plunkett farms Eight miles from Biscoe, Arkansas Age: 96
"I was born twelve miles from the capital, Jackson, Mississippi, on Strickland's place. My mother was born in Edgecombe County, North Carolina. Master Jim Battle was old man. He owned three big plantations, full of niggers. They took me to Edgecombe County where my mother was born. Battles was rich set of white folks. They lived at Tarbry, North Carolina and some at Rocky Mount. Joe Battle was my old master. There was Hue Battle too. Master Joe Battle and Master Marmaduke was bosses of the whole country. They told Mars Joe not to whoop that crazy nigger man. He undertook it. He hit him seven licks with the hoe and killed him. Killed him in Mississippi.
"Master Marmaduke fell at the hotel at Greensboro, North Carolina. He was a hard drinker and they didn't tell them about it at the hotel. He got up in the night, fell down the steps and killed hisself. Tom Williams didn't drink. He went to war and got shot. He professed religion when he was twelve years old and kept the faith. Had his Testament in his pocket and blood run on it. That was when he was shot in the Civil War.
"They took that crazy nigger man to several places, found there was no law to kill a crazy man. They took him to North Carolina where was all white folks at that place in Edgecombe County. They hung the poor crazy nigger. They was 'fraid of uprisings the reason they took him to place all white folks lived.
"My papa and Brutten (Brittain) Williams same age. Old Mistress Frankie (Tom Williams', Sr. wife) say, 'Let 'em be, he ain't goiner whoop Fenna, he's kin to him. He ain't goiner lay his hand on Fenna.' They whoop niggers black as me. Fenna waited on Master Brutten Williams. Fenna was half white. He was John Williams' boy. John was Brutten's brother. John Williams went to Mississippi and overseed for Mr. Bass. Mars Brutten got crazy. He'd shoot at anything and call it a hawk.
"Mother was a field woman. When she got in ill health, they put her to sew. Miss Evaline Perry in Mississippi learned her how to sew. She sewed up bolts of cloth into clothes for the niggers.
"Brutten Williams bought her from Joe Battle and he willed her to Joe Williams. She cooked and wove some in her young life. Rich white folks didn't sell niggers unless they got mad about them. Like mother, they changed her about. We never was cried off and put up in front of the public.
"Mars Joe Battle wasn't good. He ruled 'em all. He was Mars Marmaduke Battle's uncle. They went 'round to big towns and had a good time. Miss Polly Henry married Mars Brutten. He moved back (from Mississippi) to North Carolina. They had a big orchard. They give it all away soon as it ripen. He had a barrel of apple and peach brandy. He give some of it out in cups. They said there was some double rectifying in that barrel of brandy. He died.
"Master Tom was killed in war. When he had a ferlough he give all the men on his place five dollars and every woman a sow pig to raise from. Tole us all good-bye, said he'd never get back alive. He give me one and my mother one too. We prized them hogs 'bove everything we ever had. He got killed. Master Tom was so good to his niggers. He never whooped them. His wife ruled him, made him do like she wanted everything but mean to his niggers. Her folks slashed their niggers and she tried to make him do that too. He wouldn't. They said she wore the breeches 'cause she ruled him.
"She was Mistress Helland Harris Williams. She took our big hogs away from every one of us. We raised 'em up fine big hogs. She took them away from us. Took all the hogs Master Tom give us back. She had plenty land he left her and cows, some hogs. She married Allen Hopkins. They had a boy. He sent him to Texas, then he left her. She was so mean. Followed the boy to Texas. They all said she couldn't rule Allen Hopkins like she did Tom Williams. She didn't.
"When freedom come on, mother and me both left her 'cause I seen she wouldn't do. My papa left too and he had raised a little half white boy. 'Cause he was same age of Brutten Williams, Tom took Brutten's little nigger child and give him to papa to raise. His name Wilks. His own black mama beat him. When freedom come on, we went to Cal Pierce's place. They kept Wilks. He used to run off and come to us. They give him to somebody else 'way off. Tom had a brother in Georgia. It was Tom's wife wouldn't let Wilks go on living with us.
"Old mistress just did rave about her boys mixing up with them niggers but she was better than any other white women to Wilks and Fenna and George.
"'Big Will' could do much as any two other niggers. When they bought him a axe, it was a great big axe. They bought him a great big hoe. They got a new overseer. Overseer said he use a hoe and axe like everybody else. 'Big Will' killed the overseer with his big axe. Jim Battle was gone off. His son Marmaduke Battle put him in jail. When Jim Battle come back he said Marmaduke ought to sent for him, not put him in jail. Jim Battle sold 'Big Will'. We never heard or seen him no more. His family stayed on the plantation and worked. 'Big Will' could split as many more rails as anybody else on the place.
"I seen people sell babies out of the cradle. Poor white people buy babies and raise them.
"The Battles had gins and stores in North Carolina and Williams had farms, nothing but farms.
"When I was a girl I nursed the nigger women's babies and seen after the children. I nursed Tom Williams' boy, Johnny Williams. He run to me, said, 'Them killed my papa.' I took him up in my arms. Then was when the Yankee soldiers come on the place. Sid Williams went to war. I cooked when the regular cook was weaving. Mother carded and spun then. I had a ounce of cotton to card every night from September till March. When I'd be dancing around, Miss Helland Harris Williams say, 'You better be studying your pewter days.' Meant for me to stop dancing.
"Mistress Polly married a Perry, then Right Hendrick. Perrys was rich folks. When Marmaduke Battle died all the niggers cried and cried and bellowed because they thought they would be sold and get a mean master.
"They had a mean master right then—Right Hendrick. Mean a man as ever God ever wattled a gut in I reckon. That was in Mississippi. They took us back and forth when it suited them. We went in hacks, surreys and stage-coaches, wagons, horseback, and all sorts er ways. We went on big river boats sometimes. They sold off a lot of niggers to settle up the estate. What I want to know is how they settle up estates now.
"They parched persimmon seed and wheat during the war to make coffee. I ploughed during the Civil War. Strange people come through, took our snuff and tobacco. Master Tom said for us not have no light at night so the robbers couldn't find us so easy. He was a good man. The Yankees said they had to subdue our country. They took everything they could find. Times was hard. That was in North Carolina.
"When Brutten Williams bought me and mama—mama was Liza Williams—Master Brutten bought her sister three or four years after that and they took us to (Zeblin or) Sutton in Franklin County. Now they call it Wakefield Post Office. Brutten willed us to Tom. Sid, Henry, John was Tom Williams' boys, and his girls were Pink and Tish.
"Master John and Marmaduke Battle was rich as they could be. They was Joe Battle's uncles. Jesse Ford was Marmaduke's half-brother in Texas. He come to Mississippi to get his part of the niggers and the rest was put on a block and sold. Master Marmaduke broke his neck when he fell downstairs. I never heard such crying before nor since as I heard that day. Said they lost their best master. They knowed how bad they got whooped on Ozoo River.
"Master Marmaduke walked and bossed his overseers. He went to the big towns. He never did marry. My last master was Tom Williams. He was so nice to us all. He confessed religion. He worked us hard, then hard times come when he went to war. He knowed our tracks—foot tracks and finger tracks both.
"Somebody busted a choice watermelon, plugged it out with his fingers and eat it. Master Tom said, 'Fenna, them your finger marks.' Then he scolded him good fashioned. Old Mistress Frankie say, 'Don't get scared, he ain't go to whoop him, they kin. Fenna kin to him, he not goiner hurt him.'
"At the crossroads there was a hat shop. White man brought a lot of white free niggers to work in the hat shop. Way they come free niggers. Some poor woman had no living. Nigger men steal flour or a hog, take it and give it to her. She be hungry. Pretty soon a mulatto baby turned up. Then folks want to run her out the country. Sometimes they did.
"Old man Stinson (Stenson?) left and went to Ohio. They wrote back to George to come after them to Ohio. Bill Harris had a baltimore trotter. The letter lay about in the post office. They broke it open, read it, give it to his owner. He got mad and sold George. He was Sam Harrises carriage driver. Dick and him was half-brothers. Dick learned him about reading and writing. When the war was over George come through on the train. Sam Harris run up there, cracked his heels together, hugged him, and give him ten dollars. He sold him when he was so mad. I don't know if he went to Ohio to Stinson's or not.
"We stayed in the old country twenty-five or thirty years after freedom.
"When we left Miss Helland Harris Williams', Tim Terrel come by there with his leg shot off and was there till he could get on to his folks.
"When I come here I was expecting to go to California. There was cars going different places. We got on Mr. Boyd's car. He paid our way out here. Mr. Jones brought his car to Memphis and stopped. Mr. Boyd brought us right here. That was in 1892. We got on the train at Raleigh, North Carolina.
"Papa bought forty acres land from the Boyd estate. Our children scattered and we sold some of it. We got twenty acres. Some of it in woods. I had to sell my cow to bury my granddaughter what lived with me—taking care of me. Papa tole my son to take care of me and since he died my son gone stone blind. I ain't got no chickens hardly. I go hungry nigh all the time. I gets eight dollars for me and my blind son both. If I could get a cow. We tries to have a garden. They ain't making nothing on my land this year. I'm having the hardest time I ever seen in my life. I got a toothpick in my ear and it's rising. The doctor put some medicine in my ears—both of them.
"When I was in slavery I wore peg shoes. I'd be working and not time to take off my shoes and fix the tacks—beat 'em down. They made holes in bottoms of my feet; now they got to be corns and I can't walk and stand."
This is another one of those terrible cases. This old woman is on starvation. She had a cow and can't get another one. The son is blind but feels about and did milk. The bedbugs are nearly eating her up. They scald but can't get rid of them. They have a fairly good house to live in. But the old woman is on starvation and away back eight miles from Biscoe. I hate to see good old Negroes want for something to eat. She acts like a small child. Pitiful, so feeble. The second time I went out there I took her daughter who walks out there every week. We fixed her up an iron bedstead so she can sleep better. I took her a small cake. That was her dinner. She had eaten one egg that morning. She was a clean, kind old woman. Very much like a child. Has a rising in her head and said she was afraid her head would kill her. She gave me a gallon of nice figs her daughter picked, so I paid her twenty-five cents for them. She had plenty figs and no sugar.
Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor Person interviewed: Alice Johnson 601 W. Eighth Street, Little Rock, Arkansas Age: 77
"You want to know what they did in slavery times! They were doin' jus' what they do now. The white folks was beatin' the niggers, burning 'em and boilin' 'em, workin' 'em and doin' any other thing they wanted to do with them. 'Course you wasn't here then to know about nigger dogs and bull whips, were you? The same thing is goin' on right now. They got the same bull whips and the same old nigger dogs. If you don't believe it, go right out here to the county farm and you find 'em still whippin' the niggers and tearing them up and sometimes lettin' the dogs bite them to save the bull whips.
"I was here in slavery time but I was small and I don't know much about it 'cept what they told me. But you don't need to go no further to hear all you want to know. They sont you to the right place. They all know me and they call me Mother Johnson. So many folks been here long as me, but don't want to admit it. They black their hair and whiten their faces, and powder and paint. 'Course it's good to look good all right. But when you start that stuff, you got to keep it up. Tain't no use to start and stop. After a while you got that same color hair and them same splotches again. Folks say, 'What's the matter, you gittin so dark?' Then you say, 'Uh, my liver is bad.' You got to keep that thing up, baby.
"I thank God for my age. I thank God He's brought me safe all the way. That is the matter with this world now. It ain't got enough religion.
"I was born in Mississippi way below Jackson in Crystal Springs. That is on the I. C. Road near New Orleans. The train that goes there goes to New Orleans. I was bred and born and married there in Crystal Springs. I don't know just when I was born but I know it was in the month of December.
"I remember when the slaves were freed. I remember the War 'cause I used to hear them talking about the Yankees and I didn't know whether they were mules or horses or what not. I didn't know if they was varmints or folks or what not. I can't remember whether I seen any soldiers or not. I heard them talking about soldiers, but I didn't see none right 'round where we was.
"Now what good's that all goin' to do me? It ain't goin' to do me no good to have my name in Washington. Didn't do me no good if he stuck my name up on a stick in Washington. Some of them wouldn't know me. Those that did would jus' say, 'That's old Alice Johnson.'
"Us old folks, they don't count us. They jus' kick us out of the way. They give me 'modities and a mite to spend. Time you go and get lard, sugar, meat, and flour, and pay rent and buy wood, you don't have 'nough to go 'round. Now that might do you some good if you didn't have to pay rent and buy wood and oil and water. I'll tell you something so you can earn a living. Your mama give you a education so you can earn a living and you earnin' it jus' like she meant you to. But most of us don't earn it that way, and most of these educated folks not earnin' a livin' with their education. They're in jail somewheres. They're walkin' up and down Ninth Street and runnin' in and out of these here low dives. You go down there to the penitentiary and count those prisoners and I'll bet you don't find nary one that don't know how to read and write. They're all educated. Most of these educated niggers don't have no feeling for common niggers. 'They just walk on them like they wasn't living. And don't come to 'em tellin' them that you wanting to use them!
"The people et the same thing in slavery time that they eat now. Et better then 'n they do now. Chickens, cows, mules died then, they throw 'em to the buzzards. Die now, they sell 'em to you to eat. Didn't eat that in slavery time. Things they would give to the dogs then, they sell to the people to eat now. People et pure stuff in slavery. Don't eat pure stuff now. Got pure food law, but that's all that is pure.
"My mother's name was Diana Benson and my father's name was Joe Brown. That's what folks say, I don't know. I have seen them but I wasn't brought up with no mother and father. Come up with the white folks and colored folks fust one and then the other. I think my mother and father died before freedom. I don't know what the name of their master was. All my folks died early.
"The fus' white folks I knowed anything about was Rays. They said that they were my old slave-time masters. They were nice to me. Treated me like they would their own children. Et and slept with them. They treated me jus' like they own. Heap of people say they didn't have no owners, but they got owners yet now out there on that government farm.
"The fus' work I done in my life was nussing. I was a child then and I stayed with the white folks' children. Was raised up in the house with 'em. I was well taken care of too. I was jus' like their children. That was at Crystal Springs.
"I left them before I got grown and went off with other folks. I never had no reason. Jus' went on off. I didn't go for better because I was doing better. They jus' told me to come and I went.
"I been living now in Arkansas ever since 1911. My husband and I stayed on to work and make a living. I take care of myself. I'm not looking for nothin' now but a better home over yonder—better home than this. Thank the Lawd, I gits along all right. The government gives me a check to buy me a little meat and bread with. Maybe the government will give me back that what they took off after a while. I don't know. It takes a heap of money to feed thousands and millions of people. When the check comes, I am glad to git it no matter how little it is. Twarn't for it, I would be in a sufferin' condition.
"I belong to the Arch Street Baptist Church. I been for about twenty years. I was married sixteen years to my first husband and twenty-eight to my second. The last one has been dead five years and the other one thirty-six years. I ain't got none walkin' 'round. All my husbands is dead. There ain't nothin' in this quitin' and goin' and breakin' up and bustin' up. I don't tell no woman to quit and don't tell no man to quit. Go over there and git 'nother woman and she will be wuss than the one you got. When you fall out, reason and git together. Do right. I stayed with both of my husbands till they died. I ain't bothered 'bout another one. Times is so hard no man can take care of a woman now. Come time to pay rent, 'What you waiting for me to pay rent for? You been payin' it, ain't you?' Come time to buy clothes, 'What you waitin' for me to buy clothes for? Where you gittin' 'um from before you mai'd me?' Come time to pay the grocery bill, 'How come you got to wait for me to pay the grocery bill? Who been payin' it?' No Lawd, I don't want no man unless he works. What could I do with him? I don't want no man with a home and bank account. You can't git along with 'im. You can't git along with him and you can't git along with her."