Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves. - Texas Narratives, Part 2
by Works Projects Administration
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

"'Twas nigger Jack what dey chases home and he gits under de cabin and 'fused to come out. Massa say, 'In dis case I gwine make 'ception, 'cause dat Jack he am too unreas'able. He allus chasin' after some nigger wench and not satisfied with de pass I give. Give him 25 lashes but don't draw de blood or leave de marks.'

"Well, sar, it am de great sight to see Jack git dat whuppin'. Him am skeert, but dey ain't hurtin' him bad. Massa make him come out and dey tie him to a post and he starts to bawl and beller befo' a lick am struck. Say! Him beg like a good fellow. It am, 'Oh, massa, massa, Oh, massa, have mercy, don't let 'em whup me. Massa, I won't go off any more.' De patterrollers gives him a lick and Jack lets out a yell dat sounds like a mule bray and twice as loud.

"Dere used to be a patterroller song what sent like dis:

"Up 'de hill and down de holler White man cotch nigger by de collar Dat nigger run and dat nigger flew, Dat nigger tore he shirt in two.'

"Well, while dey's whuppin' dat nigger, Jack, he couldn't run and he couldn't tear he shirt in two, but he holler till he tear he mouth in two. Jack say he never go off without de pass 'gain and he kept he word, too.

"De big doin's am on Christmas Day and de massa have present for each cullud person. Dey am little things and I laughs when I thinks of them, but de cullud folks sho' 'joy dem and it show massa's heart am right. For de chillen it am candy and for de women, a pin or sich, and for de men, a knife or sich. On dat day, preacherman Allen sho' have de full heart, and he preach and preach.

"But de war starts and it not so happy on massa's place and 'fore long he two sons goes to dat war. De massa show worryment 'cause dey fightin' here and dere and den come de day when dey fight right nex' to de massa's place. It am in de field next to we'uns and de two boys, young Charley and he brother, Bob, am in de fight. It am for sev'ral days de army am a-marchin' to de field and gittin' ready for de battle. Durin' dat time, de two boys comes home for a spell every day. Early one mornin' de shootin' starts and it am not much at first but it ain't long till it am a steady thunder and it keep up all day.

"De missy am walkin' in de yard and den go in de house and out 'gain. She am a-twistin' her hands and cryin'. She keeps sayin', 'Dey sho' gits kilt, my poor babies.' De massa talk to her to quiet her. Dat help me, too, 'cause I sho' skeert. Nobody do much work dat day, but stand round with quiverments and when dey talk, dey voice quiver. Why, even de buildin's quivered. Every once in de while, dere am an extry roar. Dat de cannon and every time I heered it, I jumps. I's sent to git de eggs and have 'bout five dozen in de basket, holdin' it in front of me with my two hands. All a sudden, one of dem extry shoots comes and down dis nigger kid go and my head hits into de basket. Dere I is, eggs oozin' all round me and I so skeert and fussed up I jus' lays and kicks. I wants to scream but I can't for de eggs in my mouth. To dis day I thinks of dat battle every time I eats eggs.

"De nex' day after de battle am over, mos' us cullud folks goes to de field. Some of 'em buries de dead, and I hears 'em tell how in de low places de blood stand like water and de bodies all shoot to pieces.

"Massa's sons not kilt and am de missy glad! She have allus colored folks come to de house and make us kneel down and she thank de Lawd for savin' her sons. Dey even go to other places and fights, but dey comes home after de war am over.

"Surrender come and massa tells us we can stay or go and if we stay he pay us wages or we works on shares. Some go and some stay. Mammy and me goes to de Fowler place with my stepfather and we share crops for three year.

"I stays with dem till I's 18 and den I gits married. Dat in 1871 and my wife died in 1928 and we'uns have four chillen. All dat time I's farmed till 'bout 30 year ago when I works in de packin' plant here in Fort Worth. I works dere 20 years and den dey say I's too old and since den I works at de odd jobs till 'bout five years ago.

"Since I's quit work at de packin' plant it am hard for dis cullud person. I soon uses up my savin's and den I's gone hongry plenty times. My chillen am old and dey havin' de hard time, too. My friends helps me a little and I gits de pension, but it am only $3.00 a month and, course, dat ain't 'nough.

"After all dese years I's worked and 'haved, I never thinks I comes to where I couldn't git 'nough to eat. I's am wishful for de Lawd to call me to jedgment.


CHRIS FRANKLIN, 82, was born a slave of Judge Robert J. Looney, in Bossier Parish, Louisiana. Chris now lives in Beaumont, Texas, and supports himself by gardening and yard work. He is thrifty and owns his own home.

"Yes, suh, dis is Chris Franklin. I signs my name C.C. Franklin, dat for Christopher Columbus Franklin. I's born in Bossier Parish, up in Louisiana, jes' twenty-five miles de other side of Shreveport. I's born dere in 1855, on Christmas Day, but I's raise up in Caddo Parish. Old massa move over dere when I 'bout a year old.

"Old massa name Robert J. Looney and he a jedge and lawyer. He have a boy name R.J., Jr., but I's talkin' 'bout de old head, de old 'riginal. De missy, her name Lettie Looney. He weren't no farmer, jes' truck farm to raise de livin' for he household and slaves. He didn't have over a half dozen growed up slaves. Course, dey rears a lot of young'uns.

"My pappy's name Solomon Lawson. He 'long to Jedge Lawson, what live near us. When freedom come, he done take de name Sol Franklin, what he say am he pappy's name.

"Jedge Looney have de ord'nary frame house. Dey 'bout six, seven rooms in it, all under one roof. De dinin' room and cook room wasn't built off to deyself, like mos' big houses. It was a raise house, raise up on high pillars and dey could drive a hoss and buggy under it. He live on de Fairview Road.

"Us slaves all live in one big slave cabin, built out of plank. It built sort-a like de 'partment house. Dey four rooms and each fam'ly have one room. Dey have a lamp and a candle for our comfort. It jes' a li'l, ord'nary brass lamp. Dey used to make 'em out of wax and tallow. Dey raise dere own bees and when dey rob de bee gums dey strain de honey and melt de wax with tallow to make it firmer. Dey tie one end de wick on de stick 'cross de mold and put in de melted wax and tallow.

"Dey have a table and benches, too. But a chair de rare thing in a cabin. Dey make some with de split hick'ry or rawhide bottom. Dey have hay mattress. De tickin' am rice sacks. Us have mud chimney. Dey fix sticks like de ladder and mix mud and moss and grass in what dey calls 'cats'. Dey have rock backs, and, man, us have a sho' 'nough fire in 'em. Put a stick long as me and big as a porch post in dat fireplace. In cold weather dat last all day and all night.

"When de parents workin' in de field, somebody look after de chillen. De nannies come in and nuss dem when time come. De white folks never put on 'strictions on de chillen till dey twelve, fourteen years old. Dey all wear de straight-cut slip. Dey give de li'l gals de slip dress and li'l panties. In wintertime dey give de boy's de li'l coat and pants and shoes, but no drawers or unnerwear. Dey give dem hard russet shoes in wintertime. Dey have brass toes. Dey plenty dur'ble. In summertime us didn't see no shoe.

"Massa Looney jes' as fine de man as ever make tracks. Christmas time come, he give 'em a few dollars and say go to the store and buy what us want. He give all de li'l nigger chillen gif's, jes' like he own. He git de jug of whiskey and plenty eggs and make de big eggnog for everybody. He treat us cullud folks jes' like he treat he own fam'ly. He never take no liquor 'cept at Christmas. He give us lots to eat at Christmas, too.

"Sometime old missy come out and call all de li'l niggers in de house to play with her chillen. When us eat us have de tin plate and cup. Dey give us plenty milk and butter and 'taters and sich. Us all set on de floor and make 'way with dem rations.

"Dey had a li'l church house for de niggers and preachin' in de afternoon, and on into de night lots of times. Dey have de cullud preacher. He couldn't read. He jes' preach from nat'ral wit and what he larn from white folks. De whole outfit profess to be Baptis'.

"De marryin' business go through by what massa say. De fellow git de massa's consen'. Massa mos'ly say yes without waitin', 'cause marryin' mean more niggers for him comin' on. He git de jedge or preacher to marry dem. Iffen de man live on one plantation and de gal on 'nother, he have to git de pass to go see her. Dat so de patterrollers not git him.

"De slaves used to have balls and frolics in dey cabins. But iffen dey go to de frolic on 'nother plantation dey git de pass. Dat so dey can cotch runaway niggers. I never heared of stealin' niggers, 'cept dis-a-way. Sometime de runaway nigger git fifty or hundred miles away and show up dere as de stray slave. Dat massa where he show up take care of him so long, den lay claim to him. Dat call harborin' de nigger.

"Dey lots of places where de young massas has heirs by nigger gals. Dey sell dem jes' like other slaves. Dat purty common. It seem like de white women don't mind. Dey didn't 'ject, 'cause dat mean more slaves.

"Sometimes de white folks has de big deer drive. Dem and de niggers go down in de bottoms to drive deers up. Dey rid big, fine hosses and start de deers runnin'. Dey raise dere own dogs. Massa sho' careful 'bout he hounds. He train dem good and treat dem good, too. He have somethin' cook reg'lar for dem. Dey hunts foxes and wolves and plenty dem kinds varmints.

"I seen sojers' by de thousands. When 'mancipation come out massa come to de back door with de paper and say, 'Yous free.' He furnish dem with all dey needs and give dem part de crop. He 'vide up de pig litters and such 'mongst dem. He give dem de start. Den after two, three year he commence takin' out for dere food and boots and clothes and sich.

"De night de pusson die dey has de wake and sing and pray all night long. Dey all very 'ligious in dere profession. Dey knock off all work so de slaves can go to de buryin'.

"De white folks 'low dem to have de frolic with de fiddle or banjo or windjammer. Dey dances out on de grass, forty or fifty niggers, and dem big gals nineteen year old git out dere barefoot as de goose. It jes' de habit of de times, 'cause dey all have shoes. Sometimes dey call de jig dance and some of dem sho' dance it, too. De prompter call, 'All git ready.' Den he holler, 'All balance,' and den he sing out, 'Swing you pardner,' and dey does it. Den he say, 'First man head off to de right,' and dere dey goes. Or he say, 'All promenade,' and dey goes in de circle. One thing dey calls, 'Bird in de Cage.' Three joins hands round de gal in de middle, and dance round her, and den she git out and her pardner git in de center and dey dance dat way awhile.

"After freedom dey have de log cabin schoolhouse. De first teacher was de cullud women name Mary Chapman. I near wore out dat old blueblack speller tryin' to larn A B C's.

"I leaves Caddo Parish in 1877 for Galveston, and leaves dere on de four mast schooner for Leesburg and up de Calcasieu River. Den I goes to de Cameron Parish and in 1879 I comes to Beaumont. I marries Mandy Watson in 1882 and she died in 1932. Us never have no chillen but 'dopts two. Us marry in de hotel dinin'-room, 'cause I's workin' for de hotel man, J.B. Goodhue. De Rev. Elder Venable, what am da old cullud preacher, marries us. I didn't git marry like in slavery time, I's got a great big marriage certif'cate hangin' on de wall of my house.

"I 'longs to several lodges, de Knights of Labor and de Knights of Honor and de Pilgrims. I never hold no office. I's jes' de bench member. I's a member of de Live Lake Missionary Baptist Church.

"I's got de big house of my own, on de corner of Roberts Avenue and San Antonio street. After my wife die, I gits de man to come and live dere with me. Dat's all I knows.


ORELIA ALEXIE FRANKS was born on the plantation of Valerian Martin, near Opelousas, Louisiana. She does not know her age, but thinks she is near ninety. Her voice has the musical accent of the French Negro. She has lived in Beaumont, Texas, many years.

"I's born on Mr. George Washington's birthday', the twenty-second of February but I don't know what year. My old massa was Valerian Martin and he come from foreign country. He come from Canada and he Canada French. He wife name Malite Guidry. Old massa a good Catholic and he taken all the li'l slave chillen to be christen. Oh, he's a Christian massa and I used to be a Catholic but now I's a Apostolic, but I's christen in St. Johns Catholic Church, what am close to Lafayette, where I's born.

"My pa name Alexis Franks and he was American and Creole. My ma name Fanire Martin and I's raise where everybody talk French. I talks American but I talks French goodest.

"Old massa he big cane and cotton farmer and have big plantation and raise everything, and us all well treat. Dey feed us right, too. Raise big hawg in de pen and raise lots of beef. All jes' for to feed he cullud folks.

"Us quarters out behind de big house and old massa come round through de quarters every mornin' and see how us niggers is. If us sick he call nuss. She old slavery woman. She come look at 'em. If dey bad sick dey send for de doctor. Us house all log house. Dey all dab with dirt 'tween de logs. Dey have dirt chimney make out of sticks and dab with mud. Dey [Transcriber's note: unfinished sentence at end of page]

"Lots of time we eat coosh-coosh. Dat make out of meal and water. You bile de water and salt it, den put in de cornmeal and stir it and bile it. Den you puts milk or clabber or syrup on it and eat it.

"Old massa have de graveyard a purpose to bury de cullud folks in. Dey have cullud preacher. Dey have funeral in de graveyard. Dat nigger preacher he a Mef'dist.

"Old massa son-in-law, he overseer. He 'low nobody to beat de slaves. Us li'l ones git spank when we bad. Dey put us 'cross de knee and spank us where dey allus spank chillen.

"Christmas time dey give big dinner. Dey give all de old men whiskey. Everybody have big time.

"Dey make lots of sugar. After dey finish cookin' de sugar dey draw off what left from de pots and give it to us chillen. Us have candy pullin'.

"Dey weave dey own cloth. Us have good clothes. Dey weave de cloth for make mattress and stuff 'em with moss. Massa sho' believe to serve he niggers good. I see old massa when he die. Us see old folks cry and us cry, too. Dey have de priest and burn de candles. Us sho' miss old massa.

"I see lots of sojers. Dey so many like hair on your head. Dey Yankees. Dey call 'em bluejackets. Dey a fight up near massa's house. Us climb in tree for to see. Us hear bullets go 'zoom' through de air 'round dat tree but us didn't know it was bullets. A man rid up on a hoss and tell massa to git us pickaninnies out dat tree or dey git kilt. De Yankees have dat battle and den sot us niggers free.

"Old massa, he de kind man what let de niggers have dey prayer-meetin'. He give 'em a big cabin for dat. Shout? Yes, Lawd! Sing like dis:

"'Mourner, fare you well, Gawd 'Mighty bless you, Till we meets again.'

"Us sings 'nother song:

"'Sinner blind, Johnnie, can't you ride no more? Sinner blind. Your feets may be slippin' Your soul git lost. Johnnie, can't you ride no more? Yes, Lawd, Day by day you can't see, Johnnie, can't you ride no more? Yes, Lawd.'"


ROSANNA FRAZIER was born a slave on the Frazier plantation in Mississippi. She does not remember her masters given name, nor does she know her age, although from her memories of various events during the Civil War, she believes she is close to ninety, at least. Rosanna is blind and bedridden, and is cared for by friends in a little house in Pear Orchard Negro Settlement, in Beaumont, Texas.

"My mammy was a freeborn woman named Viny Frazier and she come from a free country. She was on her way to school when dey stoled her, when she de young gal. De spec'lator gang stoled her and brung her and sold her in Red River, in Mississippi. Missy Mary, she buy her. Missy Mary married den to one man named Pool and she have two boys call Josh and Bill. After dat man die, she marry Marse Frazier.

"My daddy name Jerry Durden and after I's born they brings us all to Texas, but my daddy belong to de Neylands, so we loses him. My white folks moves to a big plantation close to Woodville, in Tyler County, and Marse Frazier have de store and plenty of stock. He come first from Georgia.

"All us little chillen, black and white, play togedder and Marse Frazier, he raise us. His chillen call Sis and Texana and Robert and John. Marse Frazier he treat us nice and de other white folks calls us 'free niggers', and wouldn't 'low us on dere places. Dey 'fraid dere niggers git dissatisfy with dey own treatment. Sho's you born, iffen one of us git round dem plantations, dey jus' cut us to pieces with de whip. Some of dem white folks sho' was mean, and dey work de niggers all day in de sun and cut dem with de whip, and sho' done 'em up bad. Dat on other places, not on ours.

"Marse Frazier, he didn't work us too hard and give Saturday and Sunday off. He's all right and give good food. People sho' would rare off from him, 'cause he too good. He was de Methodist preacher and furnish us church. Sometimes he has camp meeting and dey cook out doors with de skillicks. Sometimes he has corn shucking time and we has hawg meat and meal bread and whiskey and eggnog and chicken.

"De books he brung us didn't do us no good, 'cause us wouldn't larn nothin'. Us too busy playin' and huntin' good berries in de wood, de huckleberry and grape and muscadine and chinquapins. All dis time de war was fixin' and I seed two, three soldiers round spyin'. When peace 'clared missy's two boys come back from de war. We stays with Marse Frazier two year and den I goes and gits married to de man call Baker.

"I done been blind like dis over 40 year. One Sunday I stay all night with a man and he wife and I was workin' as woodchopper on de Santa Fe route up Beaumont to Tyler County. After us git up and I starts 'way, I ain't gone but 15, 16 yard when I hear somethin' say, 'Rose, you done somethin' you ain't ought.' I say, 'No, Lawd, no.' Den de voice say, 'Somethin' gwine happen to you,' and de next mornin' I's blind as de bat and I ain't never seed since.

"Some try tell me snow or sweat or smoke de reason. Dat ain't de reason. Dey a old, old, slowfooted somethin' from Louisiana and dey say he de conjure man, one dem old hoodoo niggers. He git mad at me de last plum-ripenin' time and he make up powdered rattlesnake dust and pass dat through my hair and I sho' ain't seed no more.

"Dat not de onliest thing dem old conjure men do. Dey powder up de rattle offen de snake and tie it up in de little old rag bag and dey do devilment with it. Day git old scorpion and make bad medicine. Dey git dirt out de graveyard and dat dirt, after dey speak on it, would make you go crazy.

"When dey wants conjure you, dey sneak round and git de hair combin' or de finger or toenail, or anything natural 'bout your body, and works de hoodoo on it.

"Dey make de straw man or de clay man and dey puts de pin in he leg and you leg gwineter git hurt or sore jus' where dey puts de pin. Iffen dey puts de pin through de heart you gwineter die and ain't nothin' kin save you.

"Dey make de charm to wear round de neck or de ankle and dey make de love powder, too, out de love vine, what grow in de woods. Dey biles de leaves and powders 'em. Dey sho' works, I done try 'em.


PRISCILLA GIBSON is not sure of her age, but thinks she was born about 1856, in Smith County, Mississippi, to Mary Puckett and her Indian husband. They belonged to Jesse Puckett, who owned a plantation on the Strong River. Priscilla now lives in Jasper, Texas.

"Priscilla Gibson is my name, and I's bo'n in Smith County, way over in Mis'ippi, sometime befo' de War. I figger it was 'bout 1856, 'cause I's old enough to climb de fence and watch dem musterin' in de troops when de war began. Dey tol' me I's nine year ole when de War close, but dey ain' sure of dat, even. My neighbor, Uncle Bud Adams, he 83, and I's clippin' close at he heels.

"Mammy's name was Mary Puckett, but I never seed my father as I knows of. Don' know if he was a whole Injun or part white man. Never seed but one brother and his name was Jake. Dey took him to de War with de white boys, to cook and min' de camp and he took pneumony and die.

"Massa's name was Jesse Puckett, and Missus' name Mis' Katie. Dey hab big fam'ly and dey live in a big wooden-beam house with a big up-stair'. De house was right on de highway from Raleigh to Brandon, with de Strong River jis' below us. Dey took in and 'commadated travelers 'cause dey warn' hotels den.

"Massa have hunner's of acres. You could walk all day and you never git offen his lan'. An' he have gran' furniture and other things in de house. I kin remember dem, 'cause I use' to he'p 'round de house, run errands and fan Mis' Katie and sich. I 'members chairs with silk coverin's on 'em and dere was de gran' lights, big lamps with de roses on de shades. And eve'ywhere de floors with rugs and de rugs was pretty, dey wasn' like dese thin rugs you sees nowadays. No, ma'am, dey has big flowers on 'em and de feets sinks in 'em. I useter lie down on one of dem rugs in Mis' Katie's room when she's asleep and I kin stop fannin.'

"Massa Puckett was tol'able good to de slaves. We has clothes made of homespun what de nigger women weaved, and de little boys wo' long-tail shirts, with no pants till they's grown. Massa raised sheep and dey make us wool clothes for winter, but we has no shoes.

"De white folks didn' larn us read and write but dey was good to us 'cep' when some niggers try to run away and den dey whips 'em hard. We has plenty to eat and has prayer meetin's with singin' and shoutin', and we chilluns played marbles and jump de rope.

"After freedom come all lef' but me 'cause Missus say she have me boun' to her till I git my age. But I's res'less one night and my sister, Georgy Ann, come see me, and I run off with her, but dey never comes after me. I was scart dey would, 'cause I 'membered 'bout our neighbor, ole Means, and his slave, Sylvia, and she run away and was in de woods, and he'd git on de hoss, take de dogs and set 'em on her, and let dem bite her and tear her clothes.


GABRIEL GILBERT was born in slavery on the plantation of Belizare Brassard, in New Iberia Parish, Louisiana. He does not know his age, but appears to be about eighty. He has lived in Beaumont, Texas, for sixteen years.

"My old massa was Belizare Broussard. He was my mom's massa. He had a big log house what he live in. De places 'tween de logs was fill with dirt. De quarters de slaves live in was make out of dirt. Dey put up posties in de ground and bore holes in de posts and put in pickets 'cross from one post to the other. Den dey build up de sides with mud. De floor and everything was dirt. Dey had a schoolhouse built for de white chillen de same way. De cullud chillen didn't have no school.

"Dem was warm healthy houses us grew up in. Dey used to raise better men den in dem houses dan now. My pa name was Joseph Gilbert. He old massa was Belleau Prince.

"I didn't know what a store was when I was growin' up. Us didn't have store things like now. Us had wooden pan and spoon dem times. I never see no iron plow dem days. Nothin' was iron on de plow 'cept de share. I tell dese youngsters, 'You in hebben now from de time I come up.' When a man die dem days, dey use de ox cart to carry de corpse.

"Massa have 'bout four hundred acres and lots of slaves. He raise sugar cane. He have a mill and make brown sugar. He raise cotton and corn, too. He have plenty stock on de place. He give us plenty to eat. He was a nice man. He wasn't brutish. He treat he slaves like hisself. I never 'member see him whip nobody. He didn't 'low no ill treatment. All de folks round he place say he niggers ruint and spoiled.

"De li'l white folks and nigger folks jus' play round like brudder and sister and us all eat at de white table. I slep' in de white folks house, too. My godfather and godmother was rich white folks. I still Cath'lic.

"I seed sojers but I too li'l to know nothin' 'bout dem. Dey didn't worry me a-tall. I didn't git close to de battle.

"My mammy weave cloth out cotton and wool. I 'member de loom. It go 'boom-boom-boom.' Dat de shuttle goin' cross. My daddy, he de smart man. I'll never be like him long as I live in dis world. He make shoes. He build house. He do anything. He and my mammy neither one ever been brutalize'.

"De first work I done was raisin' cotton and sugar cane and sweet and Irish 'taters. I used to cook sugar.

"I marry on twenty-second of February. My wife was Medora Labor. She been dead thirty-five year now. I never marry no second woman. I love my wife so much I never want nobody else. Us had six chillen. Two am livin'.

"Goin' back when I a slave, massa have a store. When de priest come dey hold church in dat store. Old massa have sev'ral boys. Dey went after some de slave gals. Dey have chillen by dem. Dem gals have dere cabins and dere chillen, what am half white.

"After while dem boys marry. But dey allus treat dey chillen by de slave womens good. Dey white wife treat dem good, too, most like dey dere own chillen.

"Old massa have plenty money. Land am only two bits de acre. Some places it cost nothing. Dey did haulin' in ox-carts. A man what had mules had something extra.

"Us have plenty wild game, wild geese and ducks. Fishin' am mighty good. Dey was 'gaters, too. I seed dem bite a man's arm off.

"If a slave feelin' bad dey wouldn't make him work. My uncle and my mammy dey never work nothing to speak of. Dey allus have some kind complaint. Ain't no tellin' what it gwine be, but you could 'low something ailin' dem!

"I 'member dey a white man. He had a gif'. I don't care what kind of animal, a dog or a hoss, dat man he work on it and it never leave you or you house. If anybody have toothache or earache he take a brand new nail what ain't never work befo' and work dat round you tooth or ear. Dat break up de toothache or earache right away. He have li'l prayer he say. I don't know what it was.

"I's seed ghosties. I talk with dem, too. Sometimes dey like people. Sometimes dey like animal, maybe white dog. I allus feel chilly when dey come round me. I talk with my wife after she dead. She tell me, 'Don't you forgit to pray.' She say dis world corrupt and you got to fight it out."


MATTIE GILMORE lives in a little cabin on E. Fifth Avenue, in Corsicana, Texas. A smile came to her lips, as she recalled days when she was a slave in Mobile, Alabama. She has no idea how old she is. Her master, Thomas Barrow, brought his slaves to Athens, Texas, during the Civil War, and Mattie had two children at that time, so she is probably about ninety.

"I's born in Mobile, Alabama, and I don't have no idea when. My white folks never did tell me how old I was. My own dear mammy died 'fore I can remember and my stepma didn't take no time to tell me nothin'. Her name was Mary Barrow and papa's name was Allison Barrow, and I had sisters, Rachel and Lou and Charity, and a brother, Allison.

"My master sold Rachel when she was jus' a girl. I sho' did cry. They put her on a block and sold her off. I heared they got a thousand dollars for her, but I never seed her no more till after freedom. A man named Dick Burdon, from Kaufman County, bought her. After freedom I heared she's sick and brung her home, but she was too far gone.

"We lived in a log house with dirt floors, warm in winter but sho' hot in summer, no screens or nothin', jus' homemade doors. We had homemade beds out of planks they picked up around. Mattresses nothin', we had shuck beds. But, anyway, you takes it, we was better off den dan now.

"I worked in the fields till Rachel was sold, den tooken her place, doin' kitchen work and fannin' flies off de table with a great, long limb. I liked dat. I got plenty to eat and not so hot. We had jus' food to make you stand up and work. It wasn't none the good foolish things we has now. We had cornbread and blackeyed peas and beans and sorghum 'lasses. Old master give us our rations and iffen dat didn't fill us up, we jus' went lank. Sometimes we had possum and rabbits and fish, iffen we cotched dem on Sunday. I seed Old Missy parch coffee in a skittle, and it good coffee, too. We couldn't go to the store and buy things, 'cause they warn't no stores hardly.

"When dey's hoein' cotton or corn, everybody has to keep up with de driver, not hurry so fast, but workin' steady. Some de women what had suckin' babies left dem in de shade while dey worked, and one time a big, bald eagle flew down by one dem babies and picked it up and flew away with it. De mama couldn't git it and we never heared of dat baby 'gain.

"I 'member when we come from Mobile to Texas. By time we heared de Yankees was comin' dey got all dere gold together and Miss Jane called me and give me a whole sack of pure gold and silver, and say bury it in de orchard. I sho' was scart, but I done what she said. Dey was more gold in a big desk, and de Yanks pulled de top of dat desk and got de gold. Miss Jane had a purty gold ring on her finger and de captain yanked it off. I said, 'Miss Jane, is dey gwine give you ring back?' All she said was, 'Shet you mouth,' and dat's what I did.

"Dat night dey digs up de buried gold and we left out. We jus' traveled at night and rested in daytime. We was scart to make a fire. Dat was awful times. All on de way to de Mississip', we seed dead men layin' everywhere, black and white.

"While we's waitin' to go cross de Mississip' a white man come up and asks Marse Barrow how many niggers he has, and counts us all. While we's waitin' de guns 'gins to go boom, boom, and you could hear all dat noise, it so close. When we gits on de boat it flops dis way and dat scart me. I sho' don't want to see no more days like dat one, with war and boats.

"We fixes up a purty good house and quarters and gits settled up round Athens. And it ain't so long 'fore a paper come make us free. Some de slaves laughin' and some cryin' and it a funny place to be. Marse Barrow asks my stepma to stay cook and he'd pay her some money for it. We stayed four or five years. Marse Barrow give each he slaves somethin' when dey's freed. Lots of master put dem out without a thing. But de trouble with most niggers, dey never done no managin' and didn't know how. De niggers suffered from de war, iffen dey did git freedom from it.

"I's already married de slave way in Mobile and had three chillen. My husband died 'fore war am over and I marries Las Gilmore and never has no more chillen. I has no livin' kinfolks I knows of. When we come here Las done any work he could git and bought this li'l house, but I can't pay taxes on it, but, sho', de white folks won't put me out. I done git my leg cut off in a train wreck, so I can't work, and I's too old, noways. I don't has no idea how old I is.


ANDREW GOODMAN, 97, was born a slave of the Goodman family, near Birmingham, Alabama. His master moved to Smith County, Texas, when Andrew was three years old. Andrew is a frail, kindly old man, who lives in his memories. He lives at 2607 Canton St., Dallas, Texas.

"I was born in slavery and I think them days was better for the niggers than the days we see now. One thing was, I never was cold and hongry when my old master lived, and I has been plenty hongry and cold a lot of times since he is gone. But sometimes I think Marse Goodman was the bestes' man Gawd made in a long time.

"My mother, Martha Goodman, 'longed to Marse Bob Goodman when she was born, but my paw come from Tennessee and Marse Bob heired him from some of his kinfolks what died over there. The Goodmans must have been fine folks all-a-way round, 'cause my paw said them that raised him was good to they niggers.

"Old Marse never 'lowed none of his nigger families separated. He 'lowed he thought it right and fittin' that folks stay together, though I heard tell of some that didn't think so.

"My Missus was just as good as Marse Bob. My maw was a puny little woman that wasn't able to do work in the fields, and she puttered round the house for the Missus, doin' little odd jobs. I played round with little Miss Sallie and little Mr. Bob, and I ate with them and slept with them. I used to sweep off the steps and do things, and she'd brag on me and many is the time I'd git to noddin' and go to sleep, and she'd pick me up and put me in bed with her chillun.

"Marse Bob didn't put his little niggers in the fields till they's big 'nough to work, and the mammies was give time off from the fields to come back to the nursin' home to suck the babies. He didn't never put the niggers out in bad weather. He give us something to do, in out of the weather, like shellin' corn and the women could spin and knit. They made us plenty of good clothes. In summer we wore long shirts, split up the sides, made out of lowerings—that's same as cotton sacks was made out of. In winter we had good jeans and knitted sweaters and knitted socks.

"My paw was a shoemaker. He'd take a calfhide and make shoes with the hairy sides turned in, and they was warm and kept your feet dry. My maw spent a lot of time cardin' and spinnin' wool, and I allus had plenty things.

"Life was purty fine with Marse Bob. He was a man of plenty. He had a lot of land and he built him a big log house when he come to Texas. He had sev'ral hundred head of cattle and more than that many hawgs. We raised cotton and grain and chickens and vegetables, and most anything anybody could ask for. Some places the masters give out a peck of meal and so many pounds of meat to a family for them a week's rations, and if they et it up that was all they got. But Marse Bob allus give out plenty, and said, 'If you need more you can have it, 'cause ain't any going to suffer on my place.'

"He built us a church, and a old man, Kenneth Lyons, who was a slave of the Lyon's family nearby, used to git a pass every Sunday mornin' and come preach to us. He was a man of good learnin' and the best preacher I ever heard. He baptised in a little old mudhole down back of our place. Nearly all the boys and gals gits converted when they's 'bout twelve or fifteen year old. Then on Sunday afternoon, Marse Bob larned us to read and write. He told us we oughta git all the learnin' we could.

"Once a week the slaves could have any night they want for a dance or frolic. Mance McQueen was a slave 'longing on the Dewberry place, what could play a fiddle, and his master give him a pass to come play for us. Marse Bob give us chickens or kilt a fresh beef or let us make 'lasses candy. We could choose any night, 'cept in the fall of the year. Then we worked awful hard and didn't have the time. We had a gin run by horsepower and after sundown, when we left the fields, we used to gin a bale of cotton every night. Marse allus give us from Christmas Eve through New Year's Day off, to make up for the hard work in the fall.

"Christmas time everybody got a present and Marse Bob give a big hawg to every four families. We had money to buy whiskey with. In spare time we'd make cornshuck horse collars and all kinds of baskets, and Marse bought them off us. What he couldn't use, he sold for us. We'd take post oak and split it thin with drawin' knives and let it git tough in the sun, and then weave it into cotton baskets and fish baskets and little fancy baskets. The men spent they money on whiskey, 'cause everything else was furnished. We raised our own tobacco and hung it in the barn to season, and a'body could go git it when they wanted it.

"We allus got Saturday afternoons off to fish and hunt. We used to have fish fries and plenty game in them days.

"Course, we used to hear 'bout other places where they had nigger drivers and beat the slaves. But I never did see or hear tell of one of master's slaves gittin' a beatin'. We had a overseer, but didn't know what a nigger driver was. Marse Bob had some nigger dogs like other places, and used to train them for fun. He'd git some the boys to run for a hour or so and then put the dogs on the trail. He'd say, 'If you hear them gittin' near, take to a tree.' But Marse Bob never had no niggers to run off.

"Old man Briscoll, who had a place next to ours, was vicious cruel. He was mean to his own blood, beatin' his chillen. His slaves was afeared all the time and hated him. Old Charlie, a good, old man who 'longed to him, run away and stayed six months in the woods 'fore Briscoll cotched him. The niggers used to help feed him, but one day a nigger 'trayed him, and Briscoe put the dogs on him and cotched him. He made to Charlie like he wasn't goin' to hurt him none, and got him to come peaceful. When he took him home, he tied him and beat him for a turrible long time. Then he took a big, pine torch and let burnin' pitch drop in spots all over him. Old Charlie was sick 'bout four months and then he died.

"Marse Bob knowed me better'n most the slaves, 'cause I was round the house more. One day he called all the slaves to the yard. He only had sixty-six then, 'cause he had 'vided with his son and daughter when they married. He made a little speech. He said, 'I'm going to a war, but I don't think I'll be gone long, and I'm turnin' the overseer off and leavin' Andrew in charge of the place, and I wants everything to go on, just like I was here. Now, you all mind what Andrew says, 'cause if you don't, I'll make it rough on you when I come back home.' He was jokin', though, 'cause he wouldn't have done nothing to them.

"Then he said to me, 'Andrew, you is old 'nough to be a man and look after things. Take care of Missus and see that none the niggers wants, and try to keep the place going.'

"We didn't know what the war was 'bout, but master was gone four years. When Old Missus heard from him, she'd call all the slaves and tell us the news and read us his letters. Little parts of it she wouldn't read. We never heard of him gittin' hurt none, but if he had, Old Missus wouldn't tell us, 'cause the niggers used to cry and pray over him all the time. We never heard tell what the war was 'bout.

"When Marse Bob come home, he sent for all the slaves. He was sittin' in a yard chair, all tuckered out, and shuck hands all round, and said he's glad to see us. Then he said, 'I got something to tell you. You is jus' as free as I is. You don't 'long to nobody but you'selves. We went to the war and fought, but the Yankees done whup us, and they say the niggers is free. You can go where you wants to go, or you can stay here, jus' as you likes.' He couldn't help but cry.

"The niggers cry and don't know much what Marse Bob means. They is sorry 'bout the freedom, 'cause they don't know where to go, and they's allus 'pend on Old Marse to look after them. Three families went to get farms for theyselves, but the rest just stay on for hands on the old place.

"The Federals has been comin' by, even 'fore Old Marse come home. They all come by, carryin' they little budgets, and if they was walkin' they'd look in the stables for a horse or mule, and they jus' took what they wanted of corn or livestock. They done the same after Marse Bob come home. He jus' said, 'Let them go they way, 'cause that's what they're going to do, anyway.' We was scareder of them than we was of the debbil. But they spoke right kindly to us cullud folks. They said, 'If you got a good master and want to stay, well, you can do that, but now you can go where you want to, 'cause ain't nobody going to stop you.'

"The niggers can't hardly git used to the idea. When they wants to leave the place, they still go up to the big house for a pass. They jus' can't understand 'bout the freedom. Old Marse or Missus say, 'You don't need no pass. All you got to do is jus' take you foot in you hand and go.'

"It seem like the war jus' plumb broke Old Marse up. It wasn't long till he moved into Tyler and left my paw runnin' the farm on a halfance with him and the niggers workers. He didn't live long, but I forgits jus' how long. But when Mr. Bob heired the old place, he 'lowed we'd jus' go 'long the way his paw has made the trade with my paw.

"Young Mr. Bob 'parently done the first rascality I ever heard of a Goodman doin'. The first year we worked for him we raised lots of grain and other things and fifty-seven bales of cotton. Cotton was fifty-two cents a pound and he shipped it all away, but all he ever gave us was a box of candy and a sack of store tobacco and a sack of sugar. He said the 'signment done got lost. Paw said to let it go, 'cause we had allus lived by what the Goodman had said.

"I got married and lived on the old place till I was in my late fifties. I had seven chillun, but if I got any livin' now, I don't know where they is now. My paw and maw got to own a little piece of land not far from the old place, and paw lived to be 102 and maw 106. I'm the last one of any of my folks.

"For twenty years my health ain't been so good, and I can't work even now, though my health is better'n in the past. I had hemorraghes. All my folks died on me, and it's purty rough on a old man like me. My white folks is all dead or I wouldn't be 'lowed to go hongry and cold like I do, or have to pay rent.


AUSTIN GRANT came to Texas from Mississippi with his grandfather, father, mother and brother. George Harper owned the family. He raised cotton on Peach Creek, near Gonzales. Austin was hired out by his master and after the war his father hired him out to the Riley Ranch on Seco Creek, above D'hanis. He then bought a farm in the slave settlement north of Hondo. He is 89 or 90 years old.

"I'm mixed up on my age, I'm 'fraid, for the Bible got burned up that the master's wife had our ages in. She told me my age, which would make me 89, but I believe I come nearer bein' 91, accordin' to the way my mother figured it out.

"I belonged to George Harper, he was Judge Harper. The' was my father, mother and two boys. He brought us from Mississippi, but I don' 'member what part they come from. We settled down here at Gonzeles, on Peach Creek, and he farmed one year there. Then he moved out here to Medina County, right here on Hondo Creek. I dont 'member how many acres he had, but he had a big farm. He had at least eight whole slave families. He sold 'em when he wanted money.

"My mother's name was Mary Harper and my father's name was Ike Harper, and they belonged to the Harpers, too. You know, after they was turned loose they had to name themselves. My father named himself Grant and his brother named himself Glover, and my grandfather was Filmore. They had some kin' of law you had to git away from your boss' name so they named themselves.

"Our house we had to live in, I tell you we had a tough affair, a picket concern, you might say no house a-tall. The beds was one of your own make; if you knowed how to make one, you had one, but of course the chillen slept on the floor, patched up some way.

"We went barefooted in the summer and winter, too. You had to prepare that for yourself, and if you didn' have head enough to prepare for yourself, you went without. I don' see how they done as well as they done, 'cause some winters was awful cold, but I always said the Lawd was with 'em.

[Handwritten Note: 'used']

"We didn' have no little garden, we never had no time to work no garden. When you could see to work, you was workin' for him. Ho! You didn' know what money was. He never paid you anything, you never got to see none. Some of the Germans would give the old ones a little piece of money, but the chillen, pshaw! They never got to see nothin.'

"He was a pretty good boss. You didn' have to work Sunday and part of Saturday and in the evenin', you had that. He fed us good. Sometimes, if you was crowded, you had to work all day Saturday. But usually he give you that, so you could wash and weave cloth or such. He had cullud women there he kep' all the time to weave and spin. They kep' cloth made.

"On Saturday nights, we jes' knocked 'round the place. Christmas? I don' know as I was ever home Christmas. My boss kep' me hired out. The slaves never had no Christmas presents I know of. And big dinners, I never was at nary one. They didn' give us nothin, I tell you, but a grubbin' hoe and axe and the whip. They had co'n shuckin's in them days and co'n shellin's, too. We would shuck so many days and so many days to shell it up.

"We would shoot marbles when we was little. It was all the game the niggers ever knowed, was shootin' marbles.

"After work at nights there wasn't much settin' 'round; you'd fall into bed and go to sleep. On Saturday night they didn' git together, they would jes' sing at their own houses. Oh, yes'm, I 'member 'em singin' 'Run, nigger, run,' but it's too far back for me to 'member those other songs. They would raise up a song when they was pickin' cotton, but I don' 'member much about those songs.

"My old boss, I'm boun' to give him praise, he treated his niggers right. He made 'em work, though, and he whipped 'em, too. But he fed good, too. We had rabbits and possums once in awhile. Hardly ever any game, but you might git a deer sometimes.

"Let 'em ketch you with a gun or a piece of paper with writin' on it and he'd whip you like everything. Some of the slaves, if they ever did git a piece of paper, they would keep it and learn a few words. But they didn' want you to know nothin', that's what, nothin' but work. You would think they was goin' to kill you, he would whip you so if he caught you with a piece of paper. You couldn' have nothin' but a pick and axe and grubbin' hoe.

"We never got to play none. Our boss hired us out lots of times. I don' know what he got for us. We farmed, cut wood, grubbed, anything. I herded sheep and I picked cotton.

"We got up early, you betcha. You would be out there by time you could see and you quit when it was dark. They tasked us. They would give us 200 or 300 pounds of cotton to bring in and you would git it, and if you didn' git it, you better, or you would git it tomorrow, or your back would git it. Or you'd git it from someone else, maybe steal it from their sacks.

"My grandfather, he would tell us things, to keep the whip off our backs. He would say, 'Chillen, work, work and work hard. You know how you hate to be whipped, so work hard!' And of course we chillen tried, but of course we would git careless sometimes.

"The master had a 'black snake'—some called it a 'bull whip,' and he knew how to use it. He whipped, but I don' 'member now whether he brought any blood on me, but he cut the blood outta the grown ones. He didn' tie 'em, he always had a whippin' block or log to make 'em lay down on. They called 500 licks a 'light breshin,' and right on your naked back, too. They said your clothes wouldn' grow but your hide would. From what I heered say, if you run away, then was when they give you a whippin,' prob'bly 1500 or 2000 licks. They'd shore tie you down then, 'cause you couldn' stan' it. Then you'd have to work on top of all that, with your shirt stickin' to your back.

"The overseer woke us up. Sometimes he had a kin' of horn to blow, and when you heered that horn, you'd better git up. He would give you a good whippin' iffen he had to come and wake you up. He was the meanest one on the place, worse'n the boss man.

"The boss man had a nice rock house, and the women didn' work at all.

"I never did see any slaves auctioned off, but I heered of it. My boss he would take 'em there and sell 'em.

"They had a church this side of New Fountain and the boss man 'lowed us to go on Sunday. If any of the slaves did join, they didn' baptize them, as I know of.

"When one of the slaves would die, they would bury 'em on the land there. Reg'lar little cemetery there. Oh, yes, they would have doctors for 'em. If anybody died, they would tell some of the other slaves to dig the grave and take 'em out there and bury 'em. They jes' put 'em in a box, no preachin' or nothin.' But, of course, if it was Sunday the slaves would follow out there and sing. No, if they didn' die on Sunday, you couldn' go; you went to that field.

"If you wanted to go to any other plantation you had to git a pass to go over there, and if you didn' and got caught, you got one of the worst whippins'. If things happened and they wanted to tell 'em on other plantations, they would slip out at night and tell 'em.

"We never heered much about the fightin' or how it was goin.' When the war finally was over, our old boss called us all up and had us to stand in abreast, and he stood on the gallery and he read the verdict to 'em, and said, 'Now, you can jes' work on if you want to, and I'll treat you jes' like I always did.' I guess when he said that they knew what he meant. The' wasn't but one family left with 'im. They stayed about two years. But the rest was just like birds, they jes' flew.

"I went with my father and he hired me out for two years, to a man named Riley, over on the Seco. I did most everythin', worked the field and was house rustler, too. But I had a good time there. After I left 'im, I came to D'Hanis. I worked on a church house they was buildin'. Then I went back to my father and worked for him a long time, freightin' cotton to Eagle Pass. I used horses and mules and hauled cotton and flour and whiskey and things like that.

"I met my wife down on Black Creek, and I freighted two years after we was married. We got married so long ago, but in them days anything would do. You see, these days they are so proud, but we was glad to have anything. I had a black suit to be married in, and a pretty long shirt, and I wore boots. She wore a white dress, but in them days they didn' have black shoes. Yes'm, they had a dance, down here on Black Creek. Danced half the night at her house and two men played the fiddle. Eat? We had everythin' to eat, a barbecued calf and a hog, too, and all kinds of cakes and pies. Drink? Why, the men had whiskey to drink and the women drank coffee. We married about 7 or 8 in the evenin' at her house. My wife's name was Sarah Ann Brackins.

"Did I see a ghost? Well, over yonder on the creek was a ghost. It was a moonlight night and it passed right by me and it never had no head on it a-tall. It almost breshed me. It kep' walkin' right by side of me. I shore saw it and I run like a good fellow. Lots of 'em could see wonnurful sights then and I heered lots of noises, but that's the only ghost I ever seen.

"No, I never knowed nothing 'bout charms. I've seen 'em have a rabbit heel or coon heel for good luck. I seen a woman one time that was tricked, or what I'd call poisoned. A place on her let, it was jes' the shape of these little old striped lizards. It was somethin' they called 'trickin it,' and a person that knowed to trick you would put it there to make you suffer the balance of your days. It would go 'round your leg clear to the hip and be between the skin and the flesh. They called it the devil's work."


JAMES GREEN is half American Indian and half Negro. He was born a slave to John Williams, of Petersburg, Va., became a "free boy", then was kidnapped and sold in a Virginia slave market to a Texas ranchman. He now lives at 323 N. Olive St., San Antonio, Texas.

"I never knowed my age till after de war, when I's set free de second time, and then marster gits out a big book and it shows I's 25 year old. It shows I's 12 when I is bought and $800 is paid for me. That $800 was stolen money, 'cause I was kidnapped and dis is how it come:

"My mammy was owned by John Williams in Petersburg, in Virginia, and I come born to her on dat plantation. Den my father set 'bout to git me free, 'cause he a full-blooded Indian and done some big favor for a big man high up in de courts, and he gits me set free, and den Marster Williams laughs and calls me 'free boy.'

"Then, one day along come a Friday and that a unlucky star day and I playin' round de house and Marster Williams come up and say, 'Delia, will you 'low Jim walk down de street with me?' My mammy say, 'All right, Jim, you be a good boy,' and dat de las' time I ever heared her speak, or ever see her. We walks down whar de houses grows close together and pretty soon comes to de slave market. I ain't seed it 'fore, but when Marster Williams says, 'Git up on de block,' I got a funny feelin', and I knows what has happened. I's sold to Marster John Pinchback and he had de St. Vitus dance and he likes to make he niggers suffer to make up for his squirmin' and twistin' and he the bigges' debbil on earth.

"We leaves right away for Texas and goes to marster's ranch in Columbus. It was owned by him and a man call Wright, and when we gits there I's put to work without nothin' to eat. Dat night I makes up my mind to run away but de nex' day dey takes me and de other niggers to look at de dogs and chooses me to train de dogs with. I's told I had to play I runnin' away and to run five mile in any way and then climb a tree. One of de niggers tells me kind of nice to climb as high in dat tree as I could if I didn't want my body tore off my legs. So I runs a good five miles and climbs up in de tree whar de branches is gettin' small.

"I sits dere a long time and den sees de dogs comin'. When dey gits under de tree dey sees me and starts barkin'. After dat I never got thinkin' of runnin' away.

"Time goes on and de war come along, but everything goes on like it did. Some niggers dies, but more was born, 'cause old Pinchback sees to dat. He breeds niggers as quick as he can, 'cause dat money for him. No one had no say who he have for wife. But de nigger husbands wasn't de only ones dat keeps up havin' chillen, 'cause de marsters and de drivers takes all de nigger gals dey wants. Den de chillen was brown and I seed one clear white one, but dey slaves jus' de same.

"De end of dat war comes and old Pinchback says, 'You niggers all come to de big house in de mornin'. He tells us we is free and he opens his book and gives us all a name and tells us whar we comes from and how old we is, and says he pay us 40 cents a day to stay with him. I stays 'bout a year and dere's no big change. De same houses and some got whipped but nobody got nailed to a tree by de ears, like dey used to. Finally old Pinchback dies and when he buried de lightnin' come and split de grave and de coffin wide open.

"Well, time goes on some more and den Lizzie and me, we gits together and we marries reg'lar with a real weddin'. We's been together a long time and we is happy.

"I 'members a old song like dis:

"'Old marster eats beef and sucks on de bone, And give us de gristle— To make, to make, to make, to make, To make de nigger whistle.'

"Dat all de song I 'member from dose old days, 'ceptin' one more:

"'I goes to church in early morn, De birds just a-sittin' on de tree— Sometimes my clothes gits very much worn— 'Cause I wears 'em out at de knee.

"'I sings and shouts with all my might, To drive away de cold— And de bells keep ringin' in gospel light, Till de story of de Lamb am told.'"


O.W. Green, son of Frank and of Mary Ann Marks, was born in slavery at Bradly Co., Arkansas, June 26, 1859. His owners, the Mobley family, owned a large plantation and two or three thousand slaves. Jack Mobley, Green's young master, was killed in the Civil War, and Green became one of the "orphan chillen." When the Ku Klux Klan became active, the "orphan chillen" were taken to Little Rock, Ark. Later on, Green moved to Del Rio, Texas, where he now lives.

"I was bo'ned in Arkansas. Frank Marks was my father and Mary Ann Marks my mother. She was bo'n on the plantation. I had two brothers.

"I don' 'member de quarters, but dey mus' of had plenty, 'cause dey was two, three thousand slaves on de plantation. All my kin people belonged to Massa Mobley. My grandfather was a millman and dey had one de bigges' grist mills in de country.

"Our Massa was good and we had plenty for to eat. Dere was no jail for slaves on our place but not far from dere was a jail.

"De Ku Klux Klan made everything pretty squally, so dey taken de orphan chillen to Little Rock and kep' 'em two, three years. Dere was lots of slaves in dat country 'round Rob Roy and Free Nigger Bend. Old Churchill, who used to be governor, had a plantation in dere.

"When I was nine years ol' dey had de Bruce and Baxter revolution. 'Twas more runnin' dan fightin'. Bruce was 'lected for governor but Baxter said he'd be governor if he had to run Brooks into de sea.

"My young Massa, Jack Mobley, was killed in de war, is how I come to be one of de orphan chillen.

"While us orphan chillen was at Little Rock dere come a terrible soreness of de eyes. I heard tell 'twas caused from de cholera. Every little child had to take turns about sittin' by de babies or totin' them. I was so blind, my eyes was so sore, I couldn't see. The doctor's wife was working with us. She was tryin' to figure up a cure for our sore eyes, first using one remedy and den another. An old herb doctor told her about a herb he had used on de plantations to cure de slaves' sore eyes. Dey boiled de herb and put hit on our eyes, on a white cloth. De doctor's wife had a little boy about my age. He would play with me, and thought I was about hit. He would lead me around, then he would run off and leave me and see if I could see. One day between 'leven and twelve o'clock—I never will fergit hit—he taken me down to de mess room. De lady was not quite ready to dress my eyes. She told me to go on and come back in a little while. When I got outside I tore dat old rag off of my eyes and throwed hit down. I told the little boy, 'O, I can see you!' He grabbed me by de arm and ran yellin' to his mammy, 'Mama, he can see! Mama, Owen can see!' I neva will fo'git dat word. Dey were all in so a rejoicin', excitable way. I was de first one had his eyes cured. Dey sent de lady to New York and she made plenty of money from her remedy.

"Things sure was turrible durin' de war. Dey just driv us in front of de soldiers. Dere was lots of cholera. We was just bedded together lak hogs. The Ku Klux Klan come behind de soldiers, killin' and robbin'.

"After two or three years in de camp with de orphans, my kin found me and took me home.

"My grandfather and uncle was in de fightin'. My grandfather was a wagon man. De las' trip he made, he come home bringin' a load of dead soldiers to be buried. My grandfather told de people all about de war. He said hit sure was terrible.

"When de war was over de people jus' shouted for joy. De men and women jus' shouted for joy. 'Twas only because of de prayers of de cullud people, dey was freed, and de Lawd worked through Lincoln.

"My old masta was a doctor and a surgeon. He trained my grandmother; she worked under him thirty-seven years as a nurse. When old masta wanted grandmother to go on a special case he would whip her so she wouldn't tell none of his secrets. Grandmother used herbs fo' medicine—black snake root, sasparilla, blackberry briar roots—and nearly all de young'uns she fooled with she save from diarrhea.

"My old masta was good, but when he found you shoutin' he burnt your hand. My grandmother said he burnt her hand several times. Masta wouldn't let de cullud folks have meetin', but dey would go out in de woods in secret to pray and preach and shout.

"I jist picked up enough readin' to read my bible and scratch my name. I went to school one mo'ning and didn't git along wid de teacher so I didn't go no mo'.

"I 'member my folks had big times come Christmas. Dey never did work on Sundays, jist set around and rest. Dey never worked in bad weather. Dey never did go to de field till seven o'clock.

"I married in 1919. I have two step-daughters and one step-son. My step-son lives in San Antonio. I have six step-grandchillen. I was a member of de Baptist church befo' you was bo'n, lady.


Dibble, Fred Beaumont, Jefferson Co. Dist. #3

ROSA GREEN, 85 years old, was born at Ketchi, Louisiana, but as soon as she was old enough became a housegirl on the plantation of Major "Bob" Hollingsworth at Mansfield, Louisiana. To the best of her knowledge, she was about 13 when the "freedom papers" were read. She had had 13 children by her two husbands, both deceased, and lives with her youngest daughter in Beaumont. Their one-room, unpainted house is one of a dozen unprepossessing structures bordering an alleyway leading off Pine Street. Rosa, a spry little figure, crowned with short, snow-white pigtails extending in various directions, spends most of her time tending her small flowerbeds and vegetable garden. She is talkative and her memory seems quite active.

"When de w'ite folks read de freedom paper I was 13 year old. I jes' lean up agin de porch, 'cause I didn' know den what it was all about. I war'nt bo'n in Texas, I was bo'n in Ketchi, but I was rais' in Manfiel'. Law, yes, I 'member de fight at Manfiel'. My ol' marster tuk all he niggers and lef' at night. Lef' us little ones; say de Yankees could git us effen day wan' to, 'cause we no good no way, and I wouldn' care if dey did git us. Dey put us in a sugar hogshead and give us a spoon to scrape out de sugar. 'Bout de ol' plantation, I work a little w'ile in de fiel'. I didn' know den like I see now. Dese chillen bo'n wid mo' sense now dan we was den. Dey was 'bout ten cullud folks on de place. My ol' marster name Bob Hollingsworth, but dey call 'im Major, 'cause he was a major in de war, not de las' one, but de one way back yonder. Ol' missus work de little ones roun' de house and under de house and kep' ev'yt'ing clean as yo' han'. The ol' marster I thought was de meanes' man de Lawd ever made. Look like he cuss ev'y time he open he mouth. De neighbor w'ite folks, some good, some bad. My work was cleanin' up 'roun de house and nussin' de chillen. Only times I went to church when day tuk us long to min' de chillen. When de battle of Manfiel' was, we didn' git out much. When de Yankees was comin' to Gran' Cane, my w'ite folks dig a big pit and put der meat and flour and all in it and cover it over wid dirt and put wagon loads of pine straw over it. It was 'bout five or six mile to Manfield and 'bout 49 or 50 mile to Shreveport. My ol' marster tuk all he niggers and went off somweres, dey called it Texas, but I didn' know where. De ol'er ones farm. Dey rais' ev'yt'ing dey could put in de groun', dey did. My pa was kirrige(carriage) driver for my ol' missus. He was boss nigger fo' de cullud men when marster wan't right dere. My father jis' stay dere. See, dey free our people in July. Dat leave de whole crop stanin' dere in de fiel'. Dey had to stay dere and take care of de crop. After dat dey commence makin' contraks and bargins. I was 22 years ol' when I marry de fus' time. Both my husban's dead. I had 13 chillen in all.

"De fus' time I went to church, missus tuk me and another gal to min' de chillen. I never heared a preacher befo'. I 'member how de preacher word de hymn:

'Come, ye sinners, po' and needy. Weak and wounded, sick and so'.'

"I couldn' understan' it, but now when I look down on it I sees it now. I bleeve us been here goin' on fo' year' right yere in dis house."


WILLIAM GREEN, or "Reverend Bill", as he is call by the other Negroes, was brought to Texas from Mississippi in 1862. His master was Major John Montgomery. William is 87 years old. He has lived in San Antonio, Texas, for 50 years.

"I is Reverend Bill, all right, but I is 'fraid dat compliment don't belong to me no more, 'cause I quit preachin' in favor of de young men.

"I kin tell you my 'speriences in savin'—mis'ry dat was, is peace dat is. I tells you dis 'spite of bein' alone in de world with no chillun.

"I is raised a slave and 'mancipated in June, but I 'members de old plantation whar I is born. Massa John Montgomery, he owned me, and he went to de war and git kilt. I knowed 'bout de war, though us slaves wasn't sposed to know nothin' 'bout it. I was livin' in Texas then, 'cause Massa John moved over here from Mis'sippi. In dat place niggers was allus wrong, no matter what, but it was better in dis place. We used to think we was lucky to git over here to Texas, and we used to sing a song 'bout it:

"'Over yonder is de wild-goose nation, Whar old missus has sugar plantation— Sugar grows sweet but de plantation's sour, 'cause de nigger jump and run every hour.

"'I has you all to know, you all to know, Dare's light on de shore, Says little Bill to big Bill, There's a li'l nigger to write and cipher.'

"I don't know what de song meant but we thought we'd git free here in Texas, and we'd git eddicated, and dat's de meanin' of de talk about writin' and cipherin'.

"Well, when I is free I isn't free, 'cause de boss wants me and another boy to stay till we's 21 year old. But old Judge Longworth, he come down dere and dere was pretty near a fight, and he 'splains to us we was free.

"'bout five year after dat I takes up preachin' and I preaches for a long time, and I works on a farm, half and half with de owner. I has a good life, but now I's too old to preach.


PAULINE GRICE, 81, was born a slave of John Blackshier, who owned her mother, about 150 slaves, 50 slave children, and a large plantation near Atlanta, Georgia. Pauline married Navasota Grice in 1875 and they moved to Texas in 1917. Since her husband's death in 1928 Pauline has depended on the charity of friends, with whom she lives at 2504 Ross Ave., North Fort Worth, Texas.

"White man, dis old cullud woman am not strong. 'Bout all my substance am gone now. De way you sees me layin' on dis bed am what I has to do mos' de time. My mem'randum not so good like 'twas.

"De place I am borned am right near Atlanta, in Georgia, and on dat plantation of Massa John Blackshier. A big place, with 'bout 150 growed slaves and 'bout 50 pickininnies. I doesn't work till near de surrender, 'cause I's too small. But us don't leave Massa John, us go right on workin' for him like 'fore.

"Massa John am de kind massa and don't have whuppin's. He tell de overseer, 'If you can't make dem niggers work without de whup, den you not de man I wants.' Mos' de niggers 'have theyselves and when dey don't massa put dem in de li'l house what he call de jail, with nothin' to eat till deys ready to do what he say. Onct or twict he sell de nigger what won't do right and do de work.

"Us have de cabin what am made from logs but us only sleeps dere. All us cookin' done in de big kitchen. Dere am three women what do dat, and give us de meals in de long shed with de long tables.

"To de bes' of dis nigger's mem'randum, de feed am good. Plenty of everything and corn am de mostest us have. Dere am cornbread and cornmeal mush and corn hominy and corn grits and parched corn for drink, 'stead of tea or coffee. Us have milk and 'lasses and brown sugar, and some meat. Dat all raise on de place. Stuff for to eat and wear, dat am made by us cullud folks and dat place am what dey calls se'f-s'portin'. De shoemaker make all de shoes and fix de leather, too.

"After breakfas' in de mornin' de niggers am gwine here, dere and everywhere, jus' like de big factory. Every one to he job, some a-whistlin', some a-singin'. Dey sings diff'rent songs and dis am one when deys gwine to work:

"'Old cotton, old corn, see you every morn, Old cotton, old corn, see you since I's born. Old cotton, old corn, hoe you till dawn, Old cotton, old corn, what for you born?'

"Yes, suh, everybody happy on massa's place till war begin. He have two sons and Willie am 'bout 18 and Dave am 'bout 17. Dey jines de army and after 'bout a year, massa jine too, and, course, dat make de missy awful sad. She have to 'pend on de overseer and it warn't like massa keep things runnin'.

"In de old days, if de niggers wants de party, massa am de big toad in de puddle. And Christmas, it am de day for de big time. A tree am fix, and some present for everyone. De white preacher talk 'bout Christ. Us have singin' and 'joyment all day. Den at night, de big fire builded and all us sot 'round it. Dere am 'bout hundred hawg bladders save from hawg killin'. So, on Christmas night, de chillen takes dem and puts dem on de stick. Fust dey is all blowed full of air and tied tight and dry. Den de chillen holds de bladder in de fire and purty soon, 'B A N G,' dey goes. Dat am de fireworks.

"Dat all changed after massa go to war. Fust de 'federate sojers come and takes some mules and hosses, den some more come for de corn. After while, de Yankee sojers comes and takes some more. When dey gits through, dey ain't much more tookin' to be done. De year 'fore surrender, us am short of rations and sometime us hongry. Us sees no battlin' but de cannon bang all day. Once, dey bang two whole days 'thout hardly stoppin'. Dat am when missy go tech in de head, 'cause massa and de boys in dat battle. She jus' walk 'round de yard and twist de hands and say, 'Dey sho' git kilt. Dey sho' dead.' Den when extra loud noise come from de cannon, she scream. Den word come Willie am kilt. She gits over it, but she am de diff'rent woman. For her, it am trouble, trouble and more trouble.

"She can't sell de cotton. Dey done took all de rations and us couldn't eat de cotton. One day she tell us, 'De war am on us. De sojers done took de rations. I can't sell de cotton, 'cause of de blockade.' I don't know what am dat blockade, but she say it. 'Now,' she say, 'All you cullud folks born and raise here and us allus been good to you. I can't holp it 'cause rations am short and I'll do all I can for you. Will yous be patient with me?' All us stay dere and holp missy all us could.

"Den massa come home and say, 'Yous gwine be free. Far as I cares, you is free now, and can stay here and tough it through or go where you wants. I thanks yous for all de way yous done while I's gone, and I'll holp you all I can.' Us all stay and it sho' am tough times. Us have most nothin' to eat and den de Ku Klux come 'round dere. Massa say not mix with dat crowd what lose de head, jus' stay to home and work. Some dem niggers on other plantations ain't keep de head and dey gits whupped and some gits kilt, but us does what massa say and has no trouble with dem Klux.

"It 'bout two year after freedom mammy gits marry and us goes and works on shares. I stays with dem till 1875 and den marries Navasota Robert Grice and us live by farmin' till he die, nine year since. 'Bout 20 year since us come here from Georgia and works de truck farm. I has two chillen but dey dead. De way I feels now, 'twon't be long 'fore I goes, too. My friends is good to me and lets me stay with dem.


MANDY HADNOT, small and forlorn looking, as she lies in a huge, old-fashioned wooden bed, appears very black in contrast to the clean white sheets and a thick mop of snowy wool on her head. She does not know her age, but from her appearance and the details she remembers of her years as slave in the Slade home, near Cold Springs, Texas, she must be very old. She lives in Woodville, Texas, with her husband, Josh, to whom she has been married 13 years.

"I's too small to 'member my father, 'cause he die when I jus' a baby. Dey was my mudder and me and de ole mistus and marster on de plantation. It were mo' jus' a farm, but dey raise us all we need to eat and feed de cows and hosses.

"De earlies' 'membrance I hab is when de ole marster drive into de town for supplies every two weeks. Us place was right near Col' Springs. He was a good man. He treat dis lil' darky jus' like he own chile, 'cause he never hab any chillen of his own. I know 'bout de time he comin' home when he go to town and I wait down by de big gate. Purty soon I see de big ox comin' and see de smoke from de road dust flyin'. Den I know he almos' home and I holler and wave my han' and he holler and wave he han' right back. He allus brung me somethin', jus' like I he own little gal. Sometime he brung me a whistle or some candy or doll or somethin'.

"One Easter he brung me de purties' lil' hat I ever did see. My ole mistus took me to Sunday school with her and I spruce up in dat hat.

"Every Christmas 'fore ole marster die he fix me up a tree out de woods. Dey put popco'n on it to trim it and dey give me sometime a purty dress or shoes and plenty candy and maybe a big, red apple. Dey hab a big san' pile for me to play in, but I never play with any other chillen. My mammy, Emily Budle, she cook and clean up mistus log house cabin. After de ole marster die dey both work in de fiel' and raise plenty vegetables to can and eat. My task was to shell peas and watch and stir de big cookin' pots on de fireplace.

"My mistus hav lots of company. When she come in and say, 'Mandy, shine up de knife and fork and put de polish on de pianny, I allus happy, 'cause I lub to see folks come. Us hab chicken and all kinds of good things. De preacher, he was big, jolly man, he come to de house 'bout one Sunday in every month. Sometime dey brung lil' white chillen to dinner. Den us play

'Rabbit, rabbit. Jump fru' de crack.'


'Kitty, kitty, In de corner, Meow, meow, Run, kitty, run.'

"De ole marster pick me out a lil', gentle hoss named Julie and dat was my very own hoss. It was jus' a common lil' hoss. I uster sneak sugar out de barrel to feed Julie. Dey had a big smokehouse on de farm where dey kep' all kin's of good things like sugar and sich. Dey had fruits of all kin's put up.

"Every mornin' de ole mistus took out de big Bible and hab prayer meetin' for jus' us three. Us never learn read much, tho' she try teach me some. When I's 'bout nine year ole she buy me a purty white dress and took me to jine de church. She was a little, white-hair' woman, what never los' her temper 'bout nothin'. She use' to let me bump on her pianny and didn' say nothin'. She couldn' play de pianny but she kinder hope maybe I could, but I never did learn how.

"When freedom come my mudder and me pay no 'tention to it. Us stay right on de place. Purty soon my mudder die and I jus' took up her shoes. One day I's makin' a bonfire in de yard and ketch my dress on fire. De whol side of my lef' leg mos' bu'n off. Mistus was so lil' she couldn' lif' me but she fin'ly git me to bed. Dere I stay for long, long time, and she wait on me han' and feet. She make linseed poultice and kep' de bu'n grease good. Mos' time she leave all de wo'k stan' in de middle of de floor and read de Bible and pray for me to git heal up and not suffer. She cry right 'long with me when I cry, 'cause I hurt so.

"When I's 16 year ole I want to hab courtin'. Mistus 'low me to hab de boy come right to de big house to see me. He come two mile every Sunday and us go to Lugene Baptist church. Den she hav nice Sunday dinner for both us. She let me go to ice cream supper, too. Dey didn' hab no freezer den, jus' a big pan in some ice. De boys and girls took tu'ns stirrin' de cream. It never git real ha'd but stay kinder slushy. Dey serve cake. Us hav pie supper, too. Whoever git de girl's pie eat it with her.

"My ole mistus she pay me money right 'long after freedom but I too close to spen' any. Den when I 'cide to marry Bob Thomas, she he'p me fix a hope ches'. I buys goods for sheets and table kivers and one nice Sunday set dishes.

"Us marry right in de parlor of de mistus house. De white man preacher marry us and mistus she give me 'way. Ole mistus he'p me make my weddin' dress outta white lawn. I hab purty long, black hair and a veil with a ribbon 'round de fron'. De weddin' feas' was strawberry ice cream and yaller cake. Ole mistus giv me my bedstead, one of her purtiest ones, and de set dishes and glasses us eat de weddin' dinner outta. My husban' gib me de trabblin' dress, but I never use dat dress for three weeks, though, 'cause ole mistus cry so when I hafter leave dat I stay for three weeks after I marry.

"She all 'lone in de big house and I think it break her heart. I ain' been gone to de sawmill town very long when she sen' for me. I go to see her and took a peach pie, 'cause I lub her and I know dat's what she like better'n anything. She was sick and she say, 'Mandy, dis de las' time us gwineter see each other, 'cause I ain' gwineter git well. You be a good girl and try to git through de worl' dat way.' Den she make me say de Lord Prayer for her jus' like she allus make me say it for a night prayer when I lil' gal. I never see her no mo'.

"Me and Bob Thomas and dis husban', Josh, what I marry thirteen year ago, hab 'bout 10 chillen all togedder. Us been lib here many a year. I don' care so much 'bout leavin' dis yearthly home, 'cause I knows I gwineter see de ole mistus up dere and I tell her I allus 'member what she tell me and try lib dat way all time.


WILLIAM HAMILTON belonged to a slave trader, who left him on the Buford plantation, near Village Creek, Texas. The trader did not return, so the Buford family raised the child with their slaves. William now lives at 910 E. Weatherford St., Ft. Worth, Texas.

"Who I is, how old I is and where I is born, I don't know. But Massa Buford told me how durin' de war a slave trader name William Hamilton, come to Village Creek, where Massa Buford live. Dat trader was on his way south with my folks and a lot of other slaves, takin' 'em somewheres, to sell. He camped by Massa Buford's plantation and asks him, 'Can I leave dis li'l nigger here till I comes back?' Massa Buford say, 'Yes,' and de trader say he'll be back in 'bout three weeks, soon as he sells all the slaves. He mus' still be sellin' 'em, 'cause he never comes back so far and there I am and my folks am took on, and I is too li'l to 'member 'em, so I never knows my pappy and mammy. Massa Buford says de trader comes from Missouri, but if I is born dere I don't know.

"De only thing I 'members 'bout all dat, am dere am lots of cryin' when dey tooks me 'way from my mammy. Dat something I never forgits.

"I only 'members after de war, and most de cullud folks stays with Massa Buford after surrender and works de land on shares. Dey have good times on dat place, and don't want to leave. Day has dances and fun till de Ku Klux org'nizes and den it am lots of trouble. De Klux comes to de dance and picks out a nigger and whups him, jus' to keep de niggers scart, and it git so bad dey don't have no more dances or parties.

"I 'members seein' Faith Baldwin and Jeb Johnson and Dan Hester gittin' whupped by de Klux. Dey wasn't so bad after women. It am allus after dark when dey comes to de house and catches de man and whups him for nothin'. Dey has de power, and it am done for to show dey has de power. It gits so bad round dere, dat de menfolks allus eats supper befo' dark and takes a blanket and goes to de woods for to sleep. Alex Buford don't sleep in de house for one whole summer.

"No one knowed when de Klux comin'. All a-sudden up dey gallops on hosses, all covered with hoods, and bust right into de house. Jus' latches 'stead of locks was used dem days. Dey comes sev'ral times to Alex' house but never cotches him. I'd hear dem comin' when dey hit de lane and I'd holler, 'De Klux am comin'.' It was my job, after dark, listenin' for dem Klux, den I gits under de bed.

"Why dey comes so many times round dere, am 'cause de second time dey comes, Jane Bensom am dere. Jane am lots of woman, wide as de door and tall, and weighs 'bout three hunder pounds. I calls, 'Here comes de Klux,' and makes for under de bed. There am embers in de fireplace and she fills a pail with dem and when de Klux busts in de door she lets dem have de embers in de face, and den out de back door she goes. Two of dem am burnt purty bad. De nex' night back dey comes and asks where Jane am. She 'longs to Massa John Ditto and am so big everybody knows her, but de niggers won't tell on her. She leaves de country fin'ly, but dey comes lookin' for her every night for two months.

"Right over on Massa Ditto's place, am a killin' of a baby by dem Klux. De baby am in de mammy's arms and a bunch of Klux ridin' by takes a shot at de mammy, and it hits de baby and kills it.

"Right after de baby killin', sojers with blue coats comes dere and camps front of Massa Buford's place and pertects de cullud folks. I goes over to dey camp every day and dey gives me lots of good eats.

"De cullud folks has lots of trouble after de war, 'cause dey am ir'rant niggers and gits foolishment in de head. They gits de idea de white folks should give dem land and mules and sich. Over in de valley, Massa Moses owns lots of land and fifty nigger families, and he gives each family a deed to 'bout fifty acres. Some dem cullud folks grandchillen still on dat land, too, de Parkers and Farrows and Nelsons and some others. Den all de other niggers thinks dey should git land, too, but dey don't, and it make dem git foolishment and git in trouble.

"In 1897 I marries Effie Coleman and has no chillens, so I is alone in de world now. I can't do much and lives on de $10.00 de month pension. De white folks lets me live in dis shack for mowin' de lawn, but I worries 'bout when I can't do no more work. It am de awful way to spend you last days.


PIERCE HARPER, 86, was born on the Subbs plantation near Snow Hill, North Carolina. When eight years old he was sold for $1,150 [Handwritten Note: '?'] to the Harper family, who lived in Snow Hill. After the Civil War, Pierce farmed a small place near Snow Hill and saw many raids of the Klu Klux Klan. He came to Galveston, Texas, in 1877. Pierce attended a Negro school after he was grown, learned to read and write, and is interested in the betterment of his race.

"When you ask me is I Pierce Harper, you kind of 'sprised me. I reckoned everybody know old Pierce Harper. Sister Johnson say to me outside of services last Sunday night, 'Brother Harper, you is de beatines' man I ever seen. You know everybody and everybody know you.' And I said, 'Sister Johnson, dat's 'cause I keep faith with de Lawd. I love de Lawd and my neighbors and de Lawd and my neighbors love me.' Dat's what my old mother told me 'way back in slavery, before I was ever sold. But here I is talking 'bout myself when you want to hear me talk 'bout slavery. Let's see, now.

"I was born way back in 1851 in North Carolina, on Mr. Subbs' plantation, clost to Snow Hill, which was the county seat. My daddy was a field hand and my mother worked in the fields, too, right 'longside my daddy, so she could keep him lined up. The master said that Calisy, that my mother, was the best fieldhand he had, and Calvin, that my daddy, was the laziest. My mother used to say he was chilesome.

"Then when I was eight years old they sold me. The market place was in Snow Hill on the public square near the jailhouse. It was jus' a little stand built out in the open with no top on it, that the slaves stood on to get sold while the white folks auctioned 'em off. I was too little to get on the stand, so they had to hold me up and Mr. Harper bought me for $1,100. [Handwritten Note: '?'] That was cheap for a boy.

"He lived in a brick house in town and had two-three slaves 'sides me. I run errands and kept the yard clean, things a little boy could do. They didn't have no school for slaves and I never learned to read and write till after freedom. After I was sold, they let me go visit my mother once a year, on Sunday morning, and took me back at night.

"The masters couldn't whip the slaves there. The law said in black and white no master couldn't whip no slave, no matter what he done. When a slave got bad they took him to the county seat and had him whipped. One day I seen my old daddy get whipped by the county and state 'cause he wouldn't work. They had a post in the public square what they tied 'em to and a man what worked for the county whipped 'em.

"After he was whipped my daddy run away to the north. Daddy come by when I was cleanin' the yard and said, 'Pierce, go 'round side the house, where nobody can't see us.' I went and he told me goodbye, 'cause he was goin' to run away in a few days. He had to stay in the woods and travel at night and eat what he could find, berries and roots and things. They never caught him and after he crossed the Mason-Dixon line he was safe.

"There used to be a man who raised bloodhounds to hunt slaves with. I seen the dogs on the trail a whole day and still not catch 'em. Sometimes the slave made friends with the dogs and they wouldn't let on if they found him. Three dogs followed one slave the whole way up north and he sold them up there.

"I heered 'em talk about some slaves what run barefooted in cold weather and you could trail 'em by blood in the snow and ice where they hurt their feet.

"Most of the time the master gave us castor oil when we were sick. Some old folks went in the woods for herbs and made medicine. They made tea out of 'lion's tongue' for the stomach and snake root is good for pains in the stomach, too. Horse mint breaks the fever. They had a vermifuge weed.

"I seed a lot of Southern soldiers and they'd go to the big house for something to eat. Late in '63 they had a fight at a place called Kingston, only 12 miles from our place, takin' how the jacks go. We could hear the guns go off when they was fightin'. The Yankees beat and settled down there and the cullud folks flocked down on them and when they got to the Yankee lines they was safe. They went in droves of 25 or 50 to the Yankees and they put 'em to work fightin' for freedom. They fit till the war was over and a lot of 'em got kilt. My mother and sister run away to the Yankees and they paid 'em big money to wash for 'em.

"When peace come they read the 'mancipation law to the cullud people and they stayed up half the night at Mr. Harper's, singing and shouting. They spent that night singin' and shoutin'. They wasn't slaves no more. The master had to give 'em a half or third of what he made. Our master parceled out some land to 'em and told 'em to work it their selves and some done real well. They got hosses that the soldiers had turned loose to die, and fed them and took good care of 'em and they got good stock that way. Cotton was twenty and thirty cents a pound then.

"After us cullud folks was 'sidered free and turned loose, the Klu Klux broke out. Some cullud people started to farmin', like I told you, and gathered the old stock. If they got so they made good money, and had a good farm, the Klu Klux would come and murder 'em. The gov'ment builded school houses and the Klu Klux went to work and burned 'em down. They'd go to the jails and take the cullud men out and knock their brains out and break their necks and throw 'em in the river.

"There was a cullud man they taken, his name was Jim Freeman. They taken him and destroyed his stuff and him, 'cause he was making some money. Hung him on a tree in his front yard, right in front of his cabin.

"There was some cullud young men went to the schools they'd opened by the gov'ment. Some white woman said someone had stole something of hers so they put them young men in jail. The Klu Klux went to the jail and took 'em out and killed 'em. That happened the second year after the War.

"After the Klu Kluxes got so strong the cullud men got together and made the complaint before the law. The Gov'nor told the law to give 'em the old guns in the com'sary, what the Southern soldiers had used, so they issued the cullud men old muskets and said protect themselves. They got together and organized the militia and had leaders like reg'lar soldiers. They didn't meet 'cept when they heered the Klu Kluxes was coming to get some cullud folks. Then they was ready for 'em. They'd hide in the cabins and then's when they found out who a lot of them Klu Kluxes was, 'cause a lot of 'em was kilt. They wore long sheets and covered the hosses with sheets so you couldn't rec'nize 'em. Men you thought was your friend was Klu Kluxes and you'd deal with 'em in stores in the daytime and at night they'd come out to your house and kill you. I never took part in none of the fights, but I heered the others talk 'bout them, but not where them Klu Klux could hear 'em.

"One time they had 12 men in jail, 'cused of robbin' white folks. All was white in jail but one, and he was cullud. The Klu Kluxes went to the jailor's house and got the jail key and got them men out and carried 'em to the River Bridge, in the middle. Then they knocked their brains out and threw 'em in the river.

"We was 'fraid of them Klu Kluxes and come to town, to Snow Hill. We rented a little house and my mother took in washing and ironing. I went to school and learned to read and write, then worked on farms, and fin'ly went to Columbia, in South Carolina, and worked in the turpentine country. I stayed there a while and got married.

"I come to Texas in 1877 and Galveston was a little pen then, a little mess. I worked for some white people and then went to Houston and it wasn't nothing but a mudhole. So I messed 'round in South Carolina again a while and then come back to Galveston.

"The Lawd called me then and I answered and I answered and was preacher here at the Union Baptist Church, on 11th and K, 'bout 25 years.

"I knowed Wright Cuney well and he held the biggest place a cullud man ever helt in Galveston. He was congressman and the white people looked up to him just like he was white.

"Durin' the Spanish-American War I went to Washington, D.C., to see my sister and got in the soldier business. The gov'ment give me $30.00 a month for drivin' a four-mule wagon for the army. I druv all through Pennsylvania and Virginia and South Carolina for the gov'ment. I was a——what do they call a laborer in the army?

"When war was over I come back here and now I'm too old to work and the state gives me a pension and me and my granddaughter live on that. The young folks is makin' their mark now. One thing about 'em, they get educated, but there's not much for them to do when they get finished with school but walk the streets now. I been always trying to help my people to rise 'bove their station and they are rising all the time, and some day they'll be free."


MOLLY HARRELL was born a slave on the Swanson plantation, near Palestine, Texas. She was a housegirl, but must have been too small to do much work. She does not know her age, but thinks she was about seven when she was freed. Molly lives at 3218 Ave H., Galveston, Texas.

"Don't you tell nobody dat I use to be a slave. I 'most forgot it myself till you got round me jes' den. Course, I ain't blamin' you for it, but what you done say 'bout all de plantations havin' schools was wrong, so I jes' had to tell you I been a slave myself. It jes' slip out.

"Like I jes' say, I knows what I's talkin' 'bout, 'cause I use to be a slave myself and I don't know how to read and write. Dat why I say I can't see so good. It don't do to let folks know dey's smarter'n you, 'cause den dey got you right where dey wants you. Now, Will, dat de man I's marry to, am younger'n me but he don't know it. When you git marry, you don't tell de man how old you is. He wouldn't have you if you did. 'Course, Will ain't so young heself, but he's born after de war and I's born durin' slavery, so dat make me older.

"Mr. Swanson use to own de big plantation in Palestine. Everybody in dat part de country knowed him. He use to live in a plain, wood house on de Palestine road. My mother use to cook and wait on tables. John was my father.

"Dey use to have de little whip dey use on de women. Course de field hands got it worse, but den, dey was men. Mr. Swanson was good and he was mean. He was nice one day and mean as Hades de next. You never knowed what he gwine to do. But he never punish nobody 'cept dey done somethin'. My father was a field hand, and Mr. Swanson work de fire out dem. Work, work—dat all dey know from time dey git up in de mornin' till dey went to bed at night. But he wasn't hard on dem like some masters was. If dey sick, dey didn't habe to work and he give dem de med'cine hisself. If he cotch dem tryin' play off sick, den he lay into dem, or if he cotch dem loafin'. Course, I don't blame him for dat, 'cause dere ain't anythin' lazier dan a lazy nigger. Will am 'bout de laziest one in de bunch. You ain't never find a lazier nigger dan Will.

"I was purty little den, but I done my share. I holp my mother dust and clean up de house and peel 'tatoes. Dere some old men dat too old to work so dey sot in de sun all day and holp with de light work. Dey carry grub and water to de field hands.

"Somebody run 'way all de time and hide in de woods till dere gut pinch dem and den dey have to come back and git somethin' to eat. Course, dey got beat, but dat didn't worry dem none, and it not long till dey gone 'gain.

"My mother sold into slavery in Georgia, or round dere. She tell me funny things 'bout how dey use to do up dere. A old white man think so much of he old nigger when he die he free dat nigger in he will, and lef' him a little money. He open de blacksmith shop and buy some slaves. Mother allus say dose free niggers make de hardes' masters. One in Palestine marry a nigger slave and buy her from her master. Den he tell everybody he own a slave.

"Everybody talk 'bout freedom and hope to git free 'fore dey die. I 'member de first time de Yankees pass by, my mother lift me up on de fence. Dey use to pass by with bags on de mules and fill dem with stuff from de houses. Dey go in de barn and holp deyself. Dey go in de stables and turn out de white folks' hosses and run off what dey don't take for deyself.

"Den one night I 'member jes' as well, me and my mother was settin' in de cabin gettin' ready to go to bed, when us hear somebody call my mother. We listen and de overseer whisper under de door and told my mother dat she free but not to tell nobody. I don't know why he done it. He allus like my mother, so I guess he do it for her. The master reads us de paper right after dat and say us free.

"Me and my mother lef' right off and go to Palestine. Most everybody else go with us. We all walk down de road singin' and shoutin' to beat de band. My father come nex' day and jine us. My sister born dere. Den us go to Houston and Louisiana for a spell and I hires out to cook. I works till us come to Galveston 'bout ten year ago.


Dibble, Fred, P.W., Beehler, Rheba, P.W., Beaumont, Jefferson, Dist. #3.

ANN HAWTHORNE, Beaumont, Tex., was clad in a white dress which was protected by a faded blue checked apron. On her feet she wore men's bedroom slippers much too large for her, and to prevent their falling off, were tied around the ankle by rag strings. She wore silk hose with the heels completely worn out of them. Her figure is generous in proportions, and her hair snow white, fixed in little pig tails and wrapped in black string. Ann related her story in a deep voice and a jovial manner. Although born and raised in Jasper county, she speaks boastfully about having been to Houston.

"If you's lookin' for Ann Hawthorne, dis is me. I was bo'n in slavery, and I was a right sizeable gal when freedom come. I was 'bout 10 or 12 year' ol' when freedom riz up."

"I was bo'n up here in Jasper. Ol' marster Woodruff Norsworthy and Miss Ca'lina, dey was my ol' marster and mistus. Miss Ca'lina she name' me."

"My pa was Len Norsworthy. My ma was name Ca'line after ol' mistus. Dat how come I 'member ol' mistus name so good. I got fo' brudders livin', but nary a sister. My brudders is Newton and Silas and Willie and Frank. I say dey's livin'. I mean dat de las' time I heard of 'em dey was livin'."

"Yas, I 'member de house I was raise in. It was jis' a one-room log house. Dey was a ol' Geo'gia hoss bed in it. It was up pretty high and us chillun had to git on a box to git in dat bed. De mattress was mek outer straw. Sometime dey mek 'em in co'n sacks and sometime dey put 'em in a tick what dey weave on de loom. I had a aunt what was de weaver. She weave all de time for ol' marster. She uster weave all us clo's."

"My ma she was jis' a fiel' han' but my gramma and my aunt dey hab dem for wuk 'roun' de house. I didn' do nuthin' but chu'n (churn) and clean de yard, and sweep 'roun' and go to de spring and tote de water. I l'arn how to hoe, too."

"Dat was a big plantation. Fur as I kin 'member I t'ink dey was 'bout 25 or 30 slaves on de place. You see I done git ol' and childish and I can't 'member like what I uster could. I 'member though, dat my pa uster drive a team for ol' marster. Sometime he fiel' han' on de plantation, too."

"Ol' marster he was good to his slaves. I heerd of slaves bein' whip' but I ain't never see any git whip. Dey was a overseer on de place and iffen dey was any whippin' to be did, he done it."

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse