Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States - Volume II. Arkansas Narratives. Part 7
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"What I been doin' since the war? Well, I'm a good cook. When I puts on the white apron, I knows what to do. Then I preaches. The Lord done revealed things to me.

"I'll tell you 'bout this younger generation. They is goin' to destruction. They is not envelopin (developing) their education.

"Well I done tole you all I know. Guess I tole you 'bout a book, ain't I?"

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden Person interviewed: Tom Windham, 723 Missouri, Pine Bluff, Arkansas Age: 98

"I was twenty-one years old when the war was settled. My mother and my grandmother kep' my age up and after the death of them I knowed how to handle it myself.

"My old master's name was Butler and he was pretty fair to his darkies. He give em plenty to eat and wear.

"I was born and raised in Indian Territory and emigrated from there to Atlanta, Georgia when I was about twelve or thirteen. We lived right in Atlanta. I cleaned up round the house. Yes ma'm, that's what I followed. When the Yankees come to Atlanta they just forced us into the army. After I got into the army and got used to it, it was fun—just like meat and bread. Yankees treated me good. I was sorry when it broke up. When the bugle blowed we knowed our business. Sometimes, the age I is now, I wish I was in it. Father Abraham Lincoln was our President. I knowed the war was to free the colored folks. I run away from my white folks is how come I was in the Yankee army. I was in the artillery. That deefened me a whole lot and I lost these two fingers on my left hand—that's all of my joints that got broke.

"Before the war my white folks was good to us. I had a better time than I got now.

"My father and mother was sold away from me, but old mistress couldn't rest without em and went and got em back. They stayed right there till they died. Us folks was treated well. I think we should have our liberty cause us ain't hogs or horses—us is human flesh.

"When I was with the Yankees, I done some livin'.

"I went to school two months in my life. I should a gone longer but I found where I could get next to a dollar so I quit. If I had education now it might a done me some good.

"I used to be in a brass band. I like a brass band, don't make no difference where I hear it.

"There was one song we played when I was in the army. It was:

'Rasslin Jacob, don't weep Weepin' Mary, don't weep. Before I'd be a slave I'd be buried in my grave, Go home to my father and be saved.'

The Rebels was hot after us then. Another one we used to sing was:

'My old mistress promised me When she die, she'd set me free.'

"After the war I continued to work around the white folks and yes ma'm, I seen the Ku Klux many a time. They bothered me sometimes but they soon let me alone. They was a few Yankees about and they come together and made the Ku Klux stay in their place.

"One time after the war I went to Ohio and stayed three months but it was too cold for me. Man I worked for was named Harper and as good a man as ever broke a piece of bread.

"I come back South and learned how to farm. I been here in this country of Arkansas a long time. I hoped clean up this place (Pine Bluff) and make a town of it.

"I got a daughter and two sisters alive in Africa today—in Liberia. I went there after we was free. I liked it. Just the thoughts of bein' where Christ traveled—that's the good part of it. They furnished us transportation to go to Africa after the war and a lot of the colored folks went. I come back cause I had a lot of kin here, but I sent my daughter and two sisters there and they're alive there today."

FOLKLORE SUBJECTS Interviewer: Bernice Bowden Subject: Apparitions

This information given by: Tom Windham Place of Residence: 723 Missouri St. Pine Bluff, Ark. Occupation: None (Age 92) [TR: Information moved from bottom of first page.]

"Yes ma'm, I believe in spirits—you got two spirits—one bad and one good, and when you die your bad spirit here on this earth.

Now my mother comes to see me once in awhile at night. She been dead till her bones is bleached, but she comes and tells me to be a good boy. I always been obedient to old and young. She tell me to be good and she banish from me.

My grandmother been to see me once.

Old Father Abraham Lincoln, I've seen him since he been dead too. I got a gun old Father Abraham give me right out o' his own hand at Vicksburg. I'm goin' to keep it till I die too.

Yes ma'm, I know they is spirits."

Pine Bluff District FOLKLORE SUBJECTS Name of interviewer: Martin - Barker Subject: Ex-Slave Story.

Information by: Tom Windham Place of residence: 1221 Georgia St. Age: 87 [TR: Information moved from bottom of second page.]

My master was an Indian. Lewis Butler of Oklahoma. I was born and raised in Muskogee, Okla.

All of marse Butler's people were Creek Indians. They owned a large plantation and raised vegetables. They lived in tepees, had floors and were set on a lot and a wall boarded up around them. This was done so that they could hide the slaves they had stolen.

I was twelve or thirteen years old, when the Indians had a small war. They wouldn't allow us to fight. If we did, we were punished. They had a place and made us work. I went to school two months also a little at night. Cant read nor write. I am all alone now here in America. I have a daughter in Ethiopia, teaching school, also two sisters.

I served in several wars and I have been to Ethiopia. We left Monroe, La., took water, then went back by gun-boat to Galveston. The Government took us over and brought us back. After the Civil war was over the Indians let the slaves go.

I had an Indian wife and wore Indian dress and when I went to Milford, Tenn., I had to send the outfit home to Okla. I had long hair until 1931.

My Indians believed in our God. They held their meetings in a large tent. They believed in salvation and damnation, and in Heaven and Hell.

My idea of Heaven is that it is a holy place with God. We will walk in Heaven just as on earth. As in him we believe, so shall we see.

The earth shall burn, and the old earth shall pass away and the new earth will be created. The saints will return and live on, that is the ones who go away now.

The new earth is when Jesus will cone to earth and reign. Every one has two spirits. One that God kills and the other an evil spirit. I have had communication with my dead wife twice since I been in Pine Bluff. Her spirit come to me at night, calling me, asking whar wuz baby?

That meant our daughter whut is across the water.

My first wifes name was Arla Windham. My second wife was just part Indian. I have seen spirits of friends just as they were put away. I shore believe in ghosts. Their language is different from ours. I knew my wife's voice cause she called me "Tommy".

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden Person interviewed: Alice Wise 1112 Indiana Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas Age: 79

"I was born in South Carolina, and I sent and got my age and the man sent me my age. He said he remembered me. He said, 'You married Marcus Wise. I know you is seventy-nine 'cause I'm seventy-four and you're older'n me. Why, I got a boy fifty-three years old.

"We belonged to Daniel Draft. His wife was named Maud. And my father's people was named Wesley Caughman and his wife was Catherine Caughman.

"I can recollect hearin' the folks hollerin' when the Yankees come through and singin' this old cornfield song

'I'm a goin' away tomorrow Hoodle do, hoodle do.'

That's all I can recollect.

"I can recollect when we moved from the white folks. My father driv' a wagon and hauled lumber to Columbia from Lexington.

"I don't know how old I was when I come here. My age got away from me, that's how come I had to write home for it, but I had three chillun when I come to this country; I know that.

"I went to school a little, but chillun in them days had to work. I was always apt about washin' and ironin' and sewin' and so if anybody was stopped from school I was stopped. I used to set pockets in pants for mama. In them days they weaved and made their own.

"They'd do better if they had a factory here now. Things wouldn't be so high.

"Oh Lord, yes, I could knit. I'd sit up some nights and knit a half a sock and spin and card.

"My mother's boys would card and spin a broach when they wasn't doin' nothin' else, but nowadays you can't get 'em to bring you a bucket of water.

"They say they is weaker and wiser, but I say they is weaker and foolisher. That's what I think. You know they ain't like the old folks was. Folks works nowadays and keeps their chillun in school till they're grown, and it don't do 'em much good-some of 'em."

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor Person interviewed: Frank Wise, 1006 Victory Street, Little Rock, Arkansas Age: 81 to 85

Birth and Parents

"I was born in Burch County, Georgia, in 1854. I came to this state in 1871; I think I was about sixteen years old then.

"My father was named Jim Wise and my mother was named Harriet Wise. My father belonged to the Wises, and my mother to the Crawfords. They didn't live on the same plantation. When they married, she was a Crawford. Her old master was named Jim Crawford. I don't know how she and my father happened to meet up. Wise and Crawford had adjoining plantations. Both of them was in Burch County. My father's father was named Jacob Wise and his mother was named Martha. I don't remember the names of their master. I don't remember the names of my mother's people.

War Memories

"I remember the year the War ended. I remember when the Yankees came on the place that day the War ended. We children was all settin' out in the yard. Some of them ran under the house when they saw the soldiers. They were shooting the chickens and everything, taking the horses, and anything else they thought they could use. They said to the old lady, 'Lemme kill them little niggers.' Old miss said, 'No, wait till you set them free.' He said, 'No, when we set them free, we ain't goin' to kill them.' They got around in the house, under the house, and in the yard. They asked the old lady, 'Where is the horses?' She said, 'I don't know.' They said, 'Go down in the woods and get them.' Somebody went down and brought back a mare and a mule and a colt. They knocked the colt in the head and shot him. They took the mare and the mule. They took all the meat out of the smokehouse. They didn't set us free, and they didn't tell us anything about freedom. Not then.

How Freedom Came

"I don't remember how we got the news of freedom. I don't remember what the slaves expected to get. I don't know what they got, if they got anything. I don't remember nothin' about that.


"I went to school about eight days. That's all the schooling I ever got. I had a brother and sister who went to school, but I never went much. I went to school what little I did right here in Lonoke County, Arkansas. My teacher was Tom Fuller. He was a colored man. He came from down in Texas. I learned everything I know by watching people and listenin' to them.

Occupational Experiences

"The first thing I ever did was farming. I farmed all up till 1879. I worked on steamboat till 1881, and then I went out railroading. I worked at that a long time. I married in 1883. I was about twenty-seven years old then, and a few months over.

"While I was farming, I did some sharecropping, but I never got cheated out of anything.

Ku Klux

"I remember the folks had been off to see their people and the Ku Klux taken the stock while they were gone. I don't remember the Ku Klux Klan interfering with the Negroes much. I never saw them.


"I never voted till Cleveland began his campaign for President. I voted for eight presidents. Nobody ever bothered me about it.


"There were six children in my mother's family. My father had six brothers. He made the seventh. I had nine children in all. Four of them are living now. One is here; one, in St. Louis; and two, in Chicago. My boy is in Chicago.


"The majority of the young people are just growing up. Lots of them are not getting any raising at all."

Interviewer's Comment

Wise is between eighty-one and eighty-five years old. The data he gives conflict, some of it indicating the earlier and some of it later years.

He doesn't talk much and has to be pumped. He doesn't lose the thread of the discourse. His failure to talk on details of his early life seem to the interviewer due to unwillingness rather than lack of memory. While his age is advanced, his mind is sharp for one who has had such limited training.

He has no definite means of support, but states that he has been promised a pension in September—he means old age assistance.

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson Person interviewed: Lucy Withers, Brinkley, Arkansas Age: 86

I was born 5-1/2 miles from Abbeville, South Carolina, in sight of Little Mountain. I do remember the Civil War. I never seen them fight. They come to about twenty or thirty miles from where I lived. They didn't bother much in the parts where I lived. All the white men folks went to war. My mama's master was Edward Roach and his wife was Miss Sarah Roach. My papa's master was Peter Radcliff and Miss Nancy Radcliff. They give me to her niece, Miss Jennie Shelitoe. When she married she wanted me. After freedom I married. In 1866 we come to a big farm close to Pine Bluff. Then we lived close to Memphis and I been living here in Brinkley a long time.

The Ku Klux put down a Governor in South Carolina right after the war. They rode everywhere night and day scaring everybody. They wouldn't let no colored people hold office. That governor was a colored man. The Ku Klux whipped both black and white folks. They run the Yankees plumb out er that country.

No sir ree I never voted and I ain't never goner vote! Women is tearing dis world up.

The ex-slaves was told that they would got things, different things. I don't know what all. I know they didn't got nothing and when freedom came they took their clothes and left. They scattered out and went to different places. It was hard to get work and there was no money cept what the Yankees give em. When they all got run off there was no money.

My husband was a Yankee soldier and he decided he wanter come to this country. We come on the train and on the boat to Pine Bluff. We farmed. I got three children but just two living. One boy lives at Fargo and the girl lives at Chicago. My husband died. Me and my sister lives here. I bought a place with my pension money. That since my husband died.

The present times is hard. I don't know nithin about these young folks. I tends to my own business. I ain't got nothing to do with the young folks. I don't know what causes the times to be so hard. Folks used to wear more clothes than they do and let colored folks have more ironing and bigger washings too. The washings bout played out. Some few folks hire cooks.

I farmed and washed and ironed and I have cooked along some here in Brinkley.

I am supported by my pension my husband left me. It ain't much but I make out with it. It is Union Soldiers Pension.

[HW: Hot Springs]

Interviewer: Mary D. Hudgins Person Interviewed: Anna Woods, 426 Grand Avenue

"Yes ma'am. Come on in. Is you taking lists of folks for old age pensions? Can you tell us what we going to get and when it's going to come? No? Then—Oh, I see you is writing us up. Well maybe that will help us to get attention. Cause we sure does need the pension.

To be sure I remembers slave days. My grandmother—she was give away in the trading yard. She was aflicted. What was the matter with her? Was she lame? No ma'am, she had the scrofula. So her mother was sold away from her, but she was give away. She was give away to a woman named Glover.

Mrs. Glover was a old woman when I knowed her. She was an old, old woman. She sort of studied before she'd say anything. She was a pretty good old woman though, Mrs. Glover was. She wouldn't let her colored folks be whipped. She wouldn't let me work in the field. Old Donovan wanted me to work in the field—but she wouldn't let him make me. Donovan was Mary's husband. Mary was Mrs. Glover's girl's girl. Mrs. Glover's girl was named Kate.

Mrs. Glover had a whole flock of slaves. My mother and another woman named Sallie cooked and did the washing. Fannie, she was my sister, was old Mrs. Glover's maid. Robert and Sally and Lucy—they was my brother and sisters—all of them worked in the field. They had to begin early and work late. They got them out way fore day. They worked them til dark.

I remembers that Sally and Lucy used to wear boots and roll their skirts up nearly to their waistses. Why—well you see sometimes it was muddy. Did we raise rice—No, ma'am. We mostly raised corn and cotton, like everybody else.

We lived near Natchez. No ma'am, I never see but one colored person whipped. His name was Robert. They laid him down on his stomach to whip him. Never did hear what he had done. Maybe he run off. They usually whipped them for that. No ma'am. I was right. Mrs. Glover didn't let her colored folks be whipped. Robert, you see, was Donovan's man. He didn't belong to Mrs. Glover. Her folks never got whipped.

Maybe Robert run off. I don't know. The folks did one thing special to keep them from running. They fastened a sort of yoke around they necks. From it there run up a sort of piece and there was a bell on the top of that. It was so high the folks who wore it couldn't reach the bell. But if they run it would tinkle and folks could find them. I don't quite know how it worked—I just slightly remembers.

No, ma'am, I was just sort of a little girl before the war. You might say I was never a slave. Cause I didn't have to work. Mrs. Glover wouldn't let me work in the field and I didn't have much work to do in the house either. Mrs. Glover was an old widow woman, but she was shore good. Miss Kate was her onliest child. Kate's daughter was named Mary.

Was I afraid of the soldiers? No ma'am. I wasn't.

Lots of them that came through were colored soldiers. I remember that they wore long tailed coats. They had brass buttons on they coats. But we had to move from Natchez.

First the soldiers run us off to Tennisaw Parish—an island there." (A check on maps in the atlas of Encyclopedia Britannica reveals a Tenses Parish, Louisiana—across the river and a few miles north of Natchez.) "We couldn't even stay there. They drove us along, and finally we wound up in Texas.

We wasn't there in Texas long when the soldiers marched in to tell us that we was free. Seems to me like it was on a Monday morning when they come in. Yes, it was a Monday. They went out to the field and told them they was free. Marched them out of the fields. They come a'shouting. I remembers one woman, she jumped up on a barrell and she shouted. She jumped off and she shouted. She jumped back on again and shouted some more. She kept that up for a long time, just jumping on a barrell and back off again.

Yes ma'am, we children played. I remembers that the grown folks used to have church—out behind an old shed. They'd shout and they'd sing. We children didn't know what it all meant. But every Monday morning we'd get up and make a play house in an old wagon bed—and we'd shout and sing too. We didn't know what it meant, or what we was supposed to be doing. We just aped our elders.

When the war was over my brother, he drove the carriage, he drove the white folks back to Natchez. But we didn't go—my family. We stopped part way to Natchez. Never did see Miss Kate or Mrs. Glover again. Never did see them again. Lots later my brother learned where we was. He came back for us and took us to Natchez. But we never did see Mrs. Glover again.

I lived on in Natchez. I worked for white folks—cooked for them. I did a lot of traveling. Even went up into Virginia. Traveled most of the time. I'd go with one family and when we'd get back, there'd be another one who wanted me to go and take care of their children.

Been in Hot Springs since 1905. Worked for Dr. —— first. Stayed right in the house. Never did see such fine folks as Dr. ——" (prominent local surgeon) "and his wife. Then I worked for Mr. ——" (prominent realtor) "Yes, and I's worked at the Army and Navy Hospital too. Mighty nice up there. Worked in the officer's mess—finest place up there. I's worked for the officers too. Then I's worked for the Levi Hospital. Worked for lots of folks.

I's worked for lots of folks and in lots of places. But I haven't got anything now. How soon do you think they will begin paying us? I get just $10 from the county every month. $5 of that goes for my house. Folks gives me clothes, but if they'd only give me groceries too, I could get along. When do you think they will begin to pay us?"

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson Person interviewed: Cal Woods; R.F.D., Biscoe, Arkansas Age: 85?

"I don't know zactly how old I is. I was good size boy when the war come on. We all belonged to a man named John Woods. We lived in South Carolina during slavery. Slavery was prutty bad itself but the bad time come after the war. The land was hilly some red and some pore and sandy. Had to plough a mule or horse. Hard to make a living. Some folks was rich, had heap of slaves and some bout one family. Small farmer have 160 acres and one family of slaves. When a man had one or two slave families he treated em better an if he had a great big acreage and fifteen or twenty families. The white folks trained the black man and woman. If he have so many they didn't learn how to do but one or two things. Mas generally they all worked in the fields in the busy seasons and sometimes the white folks have to work out there too. Sometimes they get in debt and have to sell off some slave to pay the debt.

"Things seemed heap mo plentiful. Before the war folks wore fine clothes. They go to their nearest tradin point and sell cotton. They had fine silk clothes and fine knives and forks. They would buy a whole case o cheese at one time and a barrel of molasses. Folks eat more and worked harder than they do now.

"Some folks was mean to their slaves and some slaves mean. It is lack it is now, some folks good no matter what dey color, other folks bad. Black folks never knowed there was freedom till they was fighting and going to war. Some say they was fightin to save their slaves, some say the Union broke. The slave never been free since he come to dis world, didn't know nuthin bout freedom till they tole em bout it.

"I recollect bout the Ku Klux after the war. Some folks come over the country and tell you you free and equal now. They tell you what to do an how to run the country and then if you listen to them come the Ku Klux all dressed half mile down the road. That Ku Klux sprung up after the war bout votin an offis-holdin mong the white folks. The white folks ain't then nor now havin no black man rulin over him. Them Ku Klux walked bout on high sticks and drink all the water you have from the spring. Seem lack they meddled a whole heap. Course the black folks knowed they was white men. They hung some slaves and white Yankees too if they be very mean. They beat em. Hear em hollowing and they hollow too. They shoot all directions round and up an down the road. That's how you know they comin close to yo house. If you go to any gatherins they come break it up an run you home fast as you could run and set the dogs on you. Course the dogs bite you. They say they was not goiner have equalization if they have to kill all the Yankees and niggers in the country. The masters sometime give em a home. My mother left John Woods then. The family went back. He give her an my papa twenty acres their lifetime. Where dey stayed on the old folks had a little at some places. They didn't divide up no plantations I ever heard of. They never give em no mules. If some tole em they would I know they sho didn't. Didn't give em nuthin I tell you. My mother's name was Sylvia and papa's name was Hack Woods.

"I come to Arkansas so my little boys would have a home. I had a little home an sold it to come out here. Agents come round showin pictures how big the cotton grow. They say it grow like trees out here. The children climb the stalks an set on the limb lack birds to pick it. They show pictures like that. Cotton basket way down under it on the ground. See droves of wild hogs coming up, look big as mules. Men ridin em. No I didn't know they said it was so fine. We come in freight cars wid our furniture and everything we brought. We had our provision in baskets and big buckets. It lasted till we passed Atlanta. We nearly starved the rest of the way. When we did stop you never hear such a hollein. We come two days and nights hard as we could come. We stayed up and eat, cooked meat an eggs on the stove in the store till daybreak. Then they showed us wha to go to our places the next day. I been here ever since.

"I hab voted. I done quit lettin votin bother me up. All I see it do is give one fellow out of two or three a job both of them maybe ought to have. The meanest man often gets lected. It the money they all after not the work in it. I heard em say what all they do and when they got lected they forgot to do all they say they would do.

"I never knowed bout no slave uprisins. Thed had to uprose wid rocks an red clods. The black man couldn't shoot. He had no guns. They had so much work they didn't know how to have a uprisin. The better you be to your master the better he treat you. The white preachers teach that in the church."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson Person interviewed: Maggie Woods, Brassfield, Ark. Deaner Farm. Age: 70

"My parents was Fannie and Alfred Douglas. They had three children, then he died and my mother married a man name Thompson. My parents belong to the Douglasses at Summerville, Tennessee. They had six children in their family.

"I was born the second year of the surrender that make me seventy years old. My folks was all field hands. They was all pure African stock. All black folks like me. Grandma Liney Douglass said she was sold and Grandpa was sold too. My own parents never was sold. The Douglass men-folks whooped the slaves but they was good masters outside of that.

"They would steal off and have preachin' at night. Had preachin' nearly all night sometimes. They'd hurry and get in home fore the day be breakin'. From the way they talked they done more prayin' than preachin'.

"Whenever they be sick they would send to the Douglasses to know what to do. They would take them up to their house and doctor them or come down to the quarters and wait on whoever be sick. They had some white doctors about but not near enough. They trained black women to be midwives.

"I think my folks had enough to eat and clothes too I recken. They eat meat to give them strength to work. My old stepdaddy always make us eat piece of meat if we eat garden stuff. He say the meat have strength in it. Cornbread, meat, peas and potatoes used to be the biggest part of folks livin' in olden days. They had plenty milk.

"Children when I come on didn't have no use for money. We eat molasses. Had a little candy once in a while. That be the best thing Santa Claus would bring me. We get ginger cakes in our new stockings too. Santa Claus been comin' ever since I been in the world. Seem like Christmas never would come round agin. It don't seem near so long now.

"I was too young to know about freedom. We was livin' on Douglas farm when George Flenol (white) come and brought us to Indian Bay. We worked on Dick Mayo's place. I don't know what they expected from freedom but I'm pretty sure they never got nothing.

"When the black folks come free then the Ku Klux took it up and made 'em work and stay at home. I heard that some folks wanted to stay in the road all the time. The Ku Klux nearly scared me to death to see pass by. They never did bother us.

"I don't vote. Don't know nothing about it. I don't like the way that is fixed for us to live now. We pay house rent and works as day laborers. It makes the work too heavy at some times and no work to do nearly all the time. It is making times hard. Cotton and corn choppin' time and cotton pickin' time is all the times a woman like me can work. I raised a shoat. I got no room for garden and chickens.

"I got one girl, she way from here, she sent me $2.00 for my Christmas.

"The young generation is weaker in body than us old folks has been. They ain't been raised to hard work and they don't hold out.

"That is salve I'm making. What do it smell like? It smell like chitlings. In that sack is the inside of the chitlings (hog manure). I boil it down and strain it, then boll it down, put camphor gum and fresh lard in it, boil it down low and pour it up. It is a green salve. It is fine for piles, rub your back for lumbago, and swab out your throat for sore throat. It is a good salve. I had a sore throat and a black woman told me how to make it. It cures the sore throat right now.

"I live on what I am able to work and make. I never have got no help from the government."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden Person interviewed: Sam Word, 1122 Missouri Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas Age: 79

"I'm a sure enough Arkansas man, born in Arkansas County near De Witt. Born February 14, 1859, and belonged to Bill Word. I know Marmaduke come down through Arkansas County and pressed Bill Word's son Tom into the service.

"I 'member one song they used to sing called the 'Bonnie Blue Flag.'

'Jeff Davis is our President And Lincoln is a fool; Jeff Davis rides a fine white horse While Lincoln rides a mule.'

'Hurrah! Hurrah! for Southern rights, Hurrah! Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag That bears a Single Star!'"

(The above verse was sung to the tune of "The Bonnie Blue Flag." From the Library of Southern Literature I find the following notation about the original song and its author, Harry McCarthy: "Like Dixie, this famous song originated in the theater and first became popular in New Orleans. The tune was borrowed from 'The Irish Jaunting Car', a popular Hibernian air. Harry McCarthy was an Irishman who enlisted in the Confederate army from Arkansas. The song was written in 1861. It was published by A.E. Blackmar who declared General Ben Butler 'made it very profitable by fining every man, woman, or child who sang, whistled or played it on any instrument twenty-five dollars.' Blackmar was arrested, his music destroyed, and a fine of five hundred dollars imposed upon him.")

"I stayed in Arkansas County till 1866. I was about seven years old and we moved here to Jefferson County. Then my mother married again and we went to Conway County and lived a few years, and then I come back to Jefferson County, so I've lived in Jefferson County sixty-eight years.

"In Conway County when I was a small boy livin' on the Milton Powell place, I 'member they sent me out in the field to get some peaches about a half mile from the slave quarters. It was about three o'clock, late summer, and I saw something in the tree—a black lookin' concern. Seem like it got bigger the closer I got, and then just disappeared all of a sudden and I didn't see it go. I know I went back without any peaches.

"And another thing I can tell you. In the spring of the year we was hoein' and when they quit at night they'd leave the hoes in the field, stickin' down in the ground. And next morning they wouldn't be where you left 'em. You'd have to look for 'em and they'd be lyin' on top of the ground and crossed just like sticks.

"I'll tell you what I do know. When we was livin' in Conway County old man Powell had about ten colored families he had emigrated from Jefferson County. Our folks was the only colored people in that neighborhood. And he had a white man that was a tenant on the place and he died. Now my mother and his wife used to visit one another. In them days the white folks wasn't like they are now. And so mother went there to sit up with his wife. And while she was sittin' up the house was full of people—white and colored. They begin to hear a noise about the coffin. So they begin to investigate the worse it got and moved around the room and it lasted till he was took out of the house. Now I've heard white and colored say that was true. They never did see it but they heard it.

"I don't think there is any ghosts now but they was in the past generation.

"I know many times me and my stepfather would be pickin' cotton and my dog would be up at the far end of the row and just before dark he'd start barkin' and come towards us a barkin' and we never could see anything. He'd do that every day. It was a dog named Natch—an English bull terrier. He was give to me a puppy. He was a sure enough bulldog and he could whip any dog I ever saw. He was an imported dog.

"I remember a house up in Conway County made out of logs—a two-story one just this side of Cadron Creek on the Military Road. Then they called it the Wire Road because the telegraph wire run along it. The house was vacant after the people that owned it had died, and people comin' along late at night would stop to spend the night, and in the middle of the night they'd have to get out. Now I've heard that with my own ears. There was a spring not far from the house. It had been a fine house and was a beautiful place to stop. But in the night they'd hear chairs rattlin' and fall down. It's my belief they had spooks in them old days.

"Now I'll tell you another incident. This was in slave times. My mother was a great hand for nice quilts. There was a white lady had died and they were goin' to have a sale. Now this is true stuff. They had the sale and mother went and bought two quilts. And let me tell you, we couldn't sleep under 'em. What happened? Well, they'd pinch your toes till you couldn't stand it. I was just a boy and I was sleepin' with my mother when it happened. Now that's straight stuff. What do I think was the cause? Well, I think that white lady didn't want no nigger to have them quilts. I don't know what mother did with 'em, but that white lady just wouldn't let her have 'em.

"Now I'm puttin' the oil out of the can—I mean that what I say is true. People now will say they ain't nothin' to that story. At that time the races wasn't 'malgamated. But people are different now—ain't like they was seventy-five years ago.

"Visions? Well, now I'm glad you asked me that. I'll take pleasure in tellin' you. Two years before I moved to this place I had a vision and I think I saw every colored person that was ever born in America, I believe. I was on the east side of my house and this multitude of people was about four feet from me and they was as thick as sardines in a box and they was from little tots up. Some had on derby hats and some was bareheaded. I talked with one woman—a brown skinned woman. They was sitting on seats just like circus seats just as far as my eyes could behold. Looked like they reached clear up in the sky. That was when I fust went blind. You've read about how John saw the multitude a hundred forty and four thousand and I think that was about one-fourth of what I saw. They was happy and talkin' and nothin' but colored people—no white people.

"Another vision I had. I dreamed that the day that I lived to be sixty-five, that day I would surely die. I thought the man that told me that was a little old dried-up white man up in the air and he had scales like the monkey and the cat weighed the cheese. I thought he said, 'That day you will surely die,' and one side of the scales tipped just a little and then I woke up. You know I believed this strong. That was in 1919 and I went out and bought a lot in Bellwood Cemetery. But I'm still livin'.

"Old Major Crawley who owned what they called the Reader place on this side of the river, four miles east of Dexter, he was supposed to have money buried on his place. He owned it during slavery and after he died his relatives from Mississippi come here and hired a carriage driver named Jackson Jones. He married my second cousin. And he took 'em up there to dig for the money, but I don't know if they ever found it. Some people said the place was ha'nted."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden Person interviewed: Sam Word 1122 Missouri, Pine Bluff, Arkansas Age: 78

"I was born February 14, 1859. My birthplace was Arkansas County. Born in Arkansas and lived in Arkansas seventy-eight years. I've kept up with my age—didn't raise it none, didn't lower it none.

"I can remember all about the war, my memory's been good. Old man Bill Word, that was my old master, had a son named Tom Word and long about in '63 a general come and pressed him into the Civil War. I saw the Blue and the Gray and the gray clothes had buttons that said C.S., that meant secessioners. Yankees had U.S. on their buttons. Some of em come there so regular they got familiar with me. Yankees come and wanted to hang old master cause he wouldn't tell where the money was. They tied his hands behind him and had a rope around his neck. Now this is the straight goods. I was just a boy and I was cryin' cause I didn't want em to hang old master. A Yankee lieutenant comes up and made em quit—they was just the privates you know.

"My old master drove a ox wagon to the gold fields in California in '49. That's what they told me—that was fore I was born.

"Good? Ben Word good? My God Amighty, I wish I had one-hundredth part of what I got then. I didn't exist—I lived.

"Ben Word bought my mother from Phil Ford up in Kentucky. She was the housekeeper after old mistress died. I'll tell you something that may be amusing. Mother had lots of nice things, quilts and things, and kept em in a chest in her little old shack. One day a Yankee soldier climbed in the back window and took some of the quilts. He rolled em up and was walking out of the yard when mother saw him and said, 'Why you nasty, stinkin' rascal. You may you come down here to fight for the niggers, and now you're stealin' from em.' He said, 'You're a G-D—liar, I'm fightin' for $14 a month and the Union.'

"I member there was a young man named Dan Brown and they called him Red Fox. He'd slip up on the Yankees and shoot em, so the Yankees was always lookin' for him. He used to go over to Dr. Allen's to get a shave and his wife would sit on the front porch and watch for the Yankees. One day the Yankees slipped up in the back and his wife said, 'Lord, Dan, there's the Yankees.' Course he run and they shot him. One of the Yankees was tryin' to help him up and he said, 'Don't you touch me, call Dr. Allen.' Yes ma'm, that was in Arkansas County.

"I never been anywhere 'cept Arkansas, Jefferson, and Conway Counties. I was in Conway County when they went to the precinct to vote for or against the Fort Smith & Little Rock Railroad. The precinct where they went to vote was Springfield. It used to be the county seat of Conway County.

"While the war was goin' on and when young Tom Word would come home from school, he learned me and when the war ended, I could read in McGuffy's Third Reader. After that I went to school three months for about four years.

"Directly after Emancipation, the white men in the South had to take the Oath of Allegiance. Old master took it but he hated to do it. Now these are stubborn facts I'm givin' you but they's true.

"After freedom mother brought me here to Pine Bluff and put me in the field. I picked up corn stalks and brush and carried water to the hands. Children in them days worked. After they come from school, even the white children had work to do. Trouble with the colored folks now, to my way of thinkin', is they are top heavy with literary learning and feather light with common sense and domestic training.

"I remember a song they used to sing daring the war:

'Jeff Davis is our President Lincoln is a fool; Jeff Davis rides a fine white horse While Lincoln rides a mule.'

"And here's another one:

'Hurrah for Southern rights, hurrah! Hurrah for the Bonny Blue Flag That bore the single star.'

"Yes, they was hants sixty years ago. The generation they was interested has bred em out. Ain't none now.

"I never did care much for politics, but I've always been for the South. I love the Southland. Only thing I don't like is they don't give a square deal when it comes between the colored and the Whites. Ten years ago, I was worth $15,000 and now I'm not worth fifteen cents. The real estate men got the best of me. I've been blind now for four years and all my wife and I have is what we get from the Welfare."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden Person interviewed: Ike Worthy 2413 W. 11th Avenue, Pine Bluff, Arkansas Age 74

"I was born in Selma, Alabama on Christmas day and I'm goin' on 75.

"I can 'member old missis' name Miss Liza Ann Bussey. I never will forget her name. Fed us in a trough—eighteen of us. Her husband was named Jim Bussey, but they all dead now.

"When I got large enough to remember we went to Louisiana. I was sixteen when we left Alabama—six hundred head of us. Dr. Bonner emigrated us there for hisself and other white men.

"There was nine of us boys in my parents' family. We worked every day and cleared land till twelve o'clock at night. On Saturday we played ball and on Sunday we went to Sunday school.

"We worked on the shares—got half—and in the fall we paid our debts. Sometimes we had as much as $150 in the clear.

"Most money I ever had was farmin'. I farmed 52 years and never did buy no feed. Raised my own meat and lard and molasses. Had four milk cows and fifteen to twenty hogs. You see, I had eight children in the family.

"Never went to school but one day in my life, then my father put us to work. Never learned to read. You see everybody in the pen now'days got a education. I don't think too much education is good for 'em.

"I was 74 Christmas day.

"Garland, Brewster—the sheriff and the judge—I missed them boys when they was little. Worked at the brickyard.

"I got shot accidental and lost my right leg 32 years ago when I was farmin'. I've chopped cotton and picked cotton with this peg-leg. Mr. Emory say he don't see how I can do it but I goes right along. I made $21 pickin' and $18 choppin' last year. I picked up until Thanksgiving night.

"I worked at the Long-Bell Lumber Company since I had this peg-leg too. I stayed in Little Rock 23 years. Had a wood yard and hauled wood.

"Yes ma'am, I voted the 'Publican ticket. No ma'am, I never did hold any office.

"I don't know what goin' come of the younger generation. To my idea I don't think there's anything to 'em. They is goin' to suffer when all the old ones is dead.

"I goes to the Zion Methodist Church. No ma'am, I'm not a preacher—just a bench member."

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor Person interviewed: Alice Wright 2418 Center Street, Little Rock, Arkansas Age: About 74

"I was born way yonder in slavery time. I don't know what part of Alabama nor exactly when, but I was born in slavery time and it was in Alabama. My oldest boy would be fifty-six years old if he were living. My father said he was born in slavery time and that I was born in slavery time. I was a baby, my papa said, when he ran off from his old master and went to Mississippi. He lived in the thickets for a year to keep his old master from finding out where he was.

Father, Mother and Family

"My father's name was Jeff Williams. He's been dead a long time. Nobody living but me and my children. My mother's name was Malinda Williams. My father had seven children, four girls and five boys. Four of the boys were buried on the Cummins (?) place. It used to be the old place of old Man Flournoy's. My oldest brother was named Isaac.

"I had sixteen children; four of them are still living—two boys and two girls. The boys is married and the daughters is sick. No, honey, I can't tell how many of em all was boys and girls.


"My folks lived right in the white folks' yard. I don't know what kind of house it was. My mother used to cook and do for the white folks. She caught her death of cold going backward and forward milking and so on.

How the Children were Fed

"They'd put a trough on the floor with wooden spoons and as many children as could get around that trough got there and eat, they would.

How Freedom Came

"Dolly and Evelyn were upstairs spinning thread and overheard the old master saying that peace was declared but they didn't want the niggers to know it. Father had them to throw their clothes out the windows. Then he slipped out with them. Malinda Williams, my mother, came with them. Dolly and Evelyn were my sisters. I don't know my master's name, but it must have been Williams because all the slaves took their old master's names when they were freed. I was a baby in my daddy's arms when he ran away.


"I heard my papa talk about the patrollers. He said they used to run them in many a time. That is the reason he had to cross the bridge that night going over the Mississippi into Georgia. The slaves had been set free in Georgia, and he wanted to get there from Alabama.

What the Slaves Got

"The slaves never got nothin' when they were freed. They just got out and went to work for themselves.


"My father tended to the white folks' mules. He wasn't no soldier. When he married my mother, he was only fifteen years old. His master told him to go pick himself out a wife from a drove of slaves that were passing through, and he picked out my mother. They married by stepping over the broom. The old master pronounced them master and wife.

Slave Droves

"The drove passed through Alabama, but my father didn't know where it came from nor where it went. They were selling slaves. They would pick up a big lot of them somewhere, and they would drive them across the country selling some every place they stopped. My master bought my mother out of the drove. Droves came through very often. I don't know where they came from.

War Memories

"My father remembered coming through Alabama. He remembered the soldiers coming through Alabama. They didn't bother any colored people but they killed a lot of white people, tore up the town and took some white babies out and busted their brains out. That is what my father said. My father died in 1910. He was pushing eighty then and maybe ninety. He had a house full of grown children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. He wasn't able to do no work when he died. It was during the War that my father ran away into Georgia with me, too.


"My father said they put medicine in the water (cisterns) to make the young slaves have more children. If his old master had a good breeding woman he wouldn't sell her. He would keep her for himself.


"When they were praying for peace they used to turn down the wash kettles to keep the sound down. In the master's church, the biggest thing that was preached to them was how to serve their master and mississ.


"My grandmother was a full-blood Indian. I don't know from what tribe.

Buried Treasure

"People used to bury their money in iron pots and chests and things in order to keep the soldiers from getting it. In Wabbaseka [HW: Ark.] there they had money buried. They buried their money to keep the soldiers from getting it.

Ku Klux

"The Ku Klux Klan came after freedom. They used to take the people out and whip them.

Just After the War

"Immediately after the War, papa farmed. Most of it was down at the Cummins place. When he ran away to Georgia, he didn't stay there. He left and came back to Mississippi. I don't know just when my papa came to the Cummins' place. It was just after the War. After be left the Cummins' place he worked at the Smith place. Then he was farming agent for sometime for old man Cook in Jefferson County. He would see after the hands.


"I ain't never voted in my life. I know plenty men that used to vote but I didn't. I never heard of no women voting.


"I used to do field work. I washed and ironed until I got too old to do anything. I can't do anything now. I ain't able.


"I get the old age pension and the Welfare give me some commodities for myself and my sick daughter. She ain't been able to walk for a year.


"I married Willis Wright in July 1901. He did farming mostly. When he died in 1928, he was working at the Southern Oil Mill. He didn't leave any property."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden Person interviewed: Hannah Brooks Wright W. 17th, Highland Addition, Pine Bluff, Arkansas Age: 85 Occupation: Laundress

"Yes ma'am, I was born in slavery times. I was born on Elsa Brooks' plantation in Mississippi. I don't know what year 'twas but I know 'twas in slavery times.

"I was a great big gal when the Yankees come through. I was Elsa Brooks' house gal.

"I remember when a man come through to 'vascinate' all the chillun that was born in slavery times. I cut up worse than any of 'em—I bit him. I thought he was gwine cut off my arm. Old missis say our names gwine be sent to the White House. Old missis was gwine around with him tryin' to calm 'em down.

"And the next day the Yankees come through. The Lord have mercy! I think I was 'bout twelve years old when freedom come. We used to ask old missis how old we was. She'd say, 'Go on, if I tell you how old you is, your parents couldn't do nothin' with you. Jus' tell folks you was born in slavery times!' Gramma wouldn't tell me neither. She'd say, 'You hush, you wouldn't work if you knowed how old you is.'

"I used to sit on the lever a many a day and drive the mule at the gin. You don't know anything 'bout that, do you?

"I remember one time when the Yankees was comin' through. I was up on top of a rail fence so I could see better. I said, 'Just look a there at them bluebirds.' When the Yankees come along one of 'em said, 'You get down from there you little son of a b——.' I didn't wait to climb down, I jus' fell down from there. Old missis come down to the quarters in her carriage—didn't have buggies in them days, just carriages—to see who was hurt. The Yankees had done told her that one of her gals had fell off the fence and got hurt. I said, 'I ain't hurt but I thought them Yankees would hurt me.' She said, 'They won't hurt you, they is comin' through to tell you you is free.' She said if they had hurt me she would jus' about done them Yankees up. She said Jeff Davis had done give up his seat and we was free.

"Our folks stayed with old missis as long as they lived. My mammy cooked and I stayed in the house with missis and churned and cleaned up. Old master was named Tom Brooks and her name was Elsa Brooks. Sometimes I jus' called her 'missis.'

"Old missis told the patrollers they couldn't come on her place and interfere with her hands. I don't know how many hands they had but I know they had a heap of 'em.

"Sometimes missis would say it looked like I wanted to get away and she'd say, 'Why, Hannah, you don't suffer for a thing. You stay right here at the house with me and you have plenty to eat.'

"I was the oldest one in my mammy's family.

"I just went to school a week and mammy said they needed me at the house.

"Then my daddy put me in the field to plow. Old missis come out one day and say, 'Bill, how come you got Hannah plowin'? I don't like to see her in the field.' He'd say, 'Well, I want to learn her to work. I ain't gwine be here always and I want her to know how to work.'

"They had me throwin' the shickles (shuttles) in slavery times. I used to handle the cyards (cards) too. Then I used to help clean up the milk dairy. I'd be so tired I wouldn't know what to do. Old missis would say, 'Well, Hannah, that's your job.'

"We used to have plenty to eat, pies and cakes and custards. More than we got now.

"I own this place if I can keep payin' the taxes.

"Old missis used to say, 'You gwine think about what I'm tellin' you after I'm dead and gone.'

"Young folks call us old church folks 'old ism folks,' 'old fogies.' They say, 'You was born in slavery times, you don't know nothin.' You can't tell 'em nothin'.

"I follows my mind. You ain't gwine go wrong if you does what your mind tells you."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson Person interviewed: Tom Yates, Marianna. Arkansas Age: 66

"I was born in 1872 in Mississippi, on Moon Lake. Mama said she was orphan. She was sold when she was a young woman. She said she come from Richmond, Virginia to Charleston, South Carolina. Then she was brought to Mississippi and married before freedom. She had two husbands. Her owners was Master Atwood and Master Curtis Burk. I don't know how it come about nor which one bought her. She had four children and I'm the youngest. My sister lives in Memphis.

"My father was sold in Raleigh, North Carolina. His master was Tom Yeates. I'm named fer some of them. Papa's name was William Yeates. He told us how he come to be sold. He said they was fixing to sell grandma. He was one of the biggest children and he ask his mother to sell him and let grandma raise the children. She wanted to stay with the little ones. He said he cried and cried long after they brought him away. They all cried when he was sold, he said. I don't know who bought him. He must have left soon after he was sold, for he was a soldier. He run away and want in the War. He was a private and mustered out at DeValls Bluff, Arkansas. That is how come my mother to come here. He died in 1912 at Wilson, Arkansas. He got a federal pension, thirty-six dollars, every three months. He wasn't wounded, or if he was I didn't hear him speak of it. He didn't praise war."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden Person interviewed: Annie Young, 913 West Scull Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas Age: 76

"My old master's name was Sam Knox. I 'members all my white people. My mother was the cook.

"We had a good master and a good mistress too. I wish I could find some of my master's family now. But after the war they broke up and went up North.

"I 'member well the day my old master's son got killed. My mother was workin' in the field and I know she come to the house a cryin'. I 'member well when we was out in the plum nursery and could hear the cannons. My white girl Nannie told me 'Now listen, that's the war a fightin'.'

"The soldiers used to come along and sometimes they were in a hurry and would grab something to eat and go on and then sometimes they would sit down to a long table.

"I could hear my great grandmother and my mother talkin' 'We'll be free after awhile.'

"After the war my stepfather come and got my mother and we moved out in the piney woods. My stepfather was a preacher and sometimes he was a hundred miles from home. My mother hired out to work by the day. I was the oldest of seven chillun and when I got big enough to work they worked me in the field. When we cleaned up the new ground we got fifty cents a day.

"I was between ten and twelve years old when I went to school. My first teacher was white. But I tell you the truth, I learned most after my children started to school.

"I worked twenty-three years for the police headquarters. I was janitor and matron too. I washed and ironed too. I been here in Pine Bluff about fifty or sixty years.

"If justice was done everybody would have a living. I earned the money to buy this place and they come and wanted me to sign away my home so I could get the old age pension but I just had sense enough not to do it. I'm not goin' sign away my home just for some meat and bread."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden Person interviewed: John Young 925 E. 15th Ave., Pine Bluff, Ark. Age: 92

"Well, I don't know how old I is. I was born in Virginia, but my mother was sold. She was bought by a speculator and brought here to Arkansas. She brought me with her and her old master's name was Ridgell. We lived down around Monticello. I was big enough to plow and chop cotton and drive a yoke of oxen and haul ten-foot rails.

"Oh Lord, I don't know how many acres old master had. He had a territory—he had a heap a land. I remember he had a big old carriage and the carriage man was Little Alfred. The reason they called him that was because there was another man on the place called Big Alfred. They won't no relation—just happen to be the same name.

"I remember when the Yankees come and killed old master's hogs and chickens and cooked 'em. There was a good big bunch of Yankees. They said they was fightin' to free the niggers. After that I runned away and come up here to Pine Bluff and stayed awhile and then I went to Little Rock and jined the 57th colored infantry. I was the kittle drummer. We marched right in the center of the army. We went from Little Rock to Fort Smith. I never was in a big battle, just one little scrummage. I was at Fort Smith when they surrendered and I was mustered out at Leavenworth, Kansas.

"My grandfather went to war as bodyguard for his master, but I was with the Yankees.

"I remember when the Ku Klux come to my grandmother's house. They nearly scared us to death. I run and hid under the bed. They didn't do nothin', just the looks of 'em scared us. I know they had the old folks totin' water for 'em. Seemed like they couldn't get enough.

"After the war I come home and went to farmin'. Then I steamboated for four years. I was on the Kate Adams, but I quit just 'fore it burned, 'bout two or three weeks.

"I never went to school a minute in my life. I had a chance to go but I just didn't.

"No'm I can't remember nothin' else. It's been so long it done slipped my memory."

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden Person interviewed: John Young 923 E. Fifteenth, Pine Bluff, Arkansas Age: 89

"I know I was born in Arkansas. The first place I recollect I was in Arkansas.

"I was a drummer in the Civil War. I played the little drum. The bass drummer was Rheuben Turner.

"I run off from home in Drew County. Five or six of us run off here to Pine Bluff. We heard if we could get with the Yankees we'd be free, so we run off here to Pine Bluff and got with some Yankee soldiers—the twenty-eighth Wisconsin.

"Then we went to Little Rock and I j'ined the fifty-seventh colored infantry. I thought I was good and safe then.

"We went to Fort Smith from Little Rock and freedom come on us while we was between New Mexico and Fort Smith.

"They mustered us out at Fort Leavenworth and I went right back to my folks in Drew County, Monticello.

"I've been a farmer all my life till I got too old."


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